I hope you didn't think we'd forgotten about you all! sorry Nine legends born, nine tales spun. But which among them shall wag the tongues of bards and barkeeps, prick the ears of the keen and curious alike? The judges have gathered together to select three stories that would stand the test of time… The wait has been long enough. @Doctor Jax's Advocate of the Dead, a tale of justice told in both past and present, passes into legend. @Greenie's The Monster Falls, a lighthearted tale with an unexpected ending, passes into legend. And Legends aren't born, they are forged of yet unknown authorship, aptly a tale of a nameless hero, passes into legend. Thank you all for participating; we love reading the creative stories you all come up with! I hope to see you all next time. There was no Grand Finalist this round, so we'll be waiting with great anticipation to see what you try next. ;) Finalists, you should receive your banners shortly. It was ultimately because of the following reviews that this final announcement came with such a delay—we really wanted to honour your efforts in providing useful feedback. As it was last time, we've compiled all five judges' comments into one. Entry #1: As Different as Night and Day (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: While starting off with a good hook, the entry nonetheless lacks the momentum to carry it through to its ending. The conversation between Amara and Zaria and the scene of the latter’s death have markedly different tones, with the transition between them quite abrupt. In particular, the first scene is only introduced as a flashback after it has ended—which is a bit jarring. The dialogue too was somewhat jarring, as each speaker responded only to the last thing said, without flowing from the greater context of the conversation. The clearest demonstration of this is how Zaria switches rapidly from supportive, to dismissive, to supportive again. The entry also seems to draw on a lot of background information not made available to the reader, perhaps cut from the original script. The unfortunate consequence of this is that some details are unsupported by the rest of the story, such as the freshly liberated students—and Zaria’s death. Engagement: Focusing on Amara’s personal growth as she gains control over her powers, the entry makes good use of the two girls’ relationship in creating its tragic legend. That being said, it is difficult to connect with the characters, largely because they are defined by a cause that is hardly explored. Amara’s growth is also only touched on indirectly: neither her control over her powers nor her lack thereof are shown in practice or consequence. Zaria’s death had the potential to symbolize this growth, had it benefited from additional set-up and transition. Ultimately, her growth is largely explored through the dialogue, which is always a challenge. This contributes to the lack of a climax: as touched on briefly in the previous section, the entry skips abruptly from introduction to resolution without much in the way of momentum between them. Originality: The setting is interesting, and hints at a lot more taking place in the background. Finding the right balance of what to include and what not to include is one of the biggest struggles in telling a compelling story with so few words. Polish: Well-written, without any technical errors. Entry #2: Sonnenkinder (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: While the whole of the story moves steadily towards their eventual sacrifice, the tone is not as consistent. It isn’t until halfway through that the impending danger is made clear, and exposition regularly takes centre-stage where further development of the characters’ bonds might have been more effective. Many details felt out of place, and could either have been explored earlier or left out, such as the revelation that Marc and Saise were lovers. Engagement: Through their interactions, the characters were made compelling, and their shared bond was key to lending significance to their eventual sacrifice in the climax of the story. In terms of narrative, the interposition of short, dramatic paragraphs did well to maintain tension, as well as cleanly seal off the ending. Originality: Elements of the setting were introduced frequently, but largely superficially, to the extent that it distracted from more important parts of the plot. The nature of the Sun Children was never really explained, and this seems crucial to understanding the context of their sacrifice in the greater scheme of the world. Polish: Beyond a few slip-ups in syntax, it was well written, with a few interesting choices of vocabulary that helped to establish the setting. Entry #3: Advocate for the Dead (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: A very neat way to present the story, and it very much establishes the generational aspect of legends. Information that would have been awkward in one is presented smoothly in the other, and they transition almost seamlessly back and forth, offering two distinct perspectives on a single series of events. It’s especially effective in the initial scene by the gate, as each of the two streams flow well even independently of the other. Details about the history of the world are sparse, but just enough is given to understand to plot, and none come across as irrelevant. A very fine, and well kept, balance. Engagement: An intriguing and complete story, it benefits in particular from two very compelling characters. Dorian is shown to be a moral but imperfect young man, and the juxtaposition of his older, humble—and perhaps wise—self allows for a unique approach to conveying character growth. Garret shares many of Dorian’s traits, but is also distinct through his stoic nature, allowing for a complementary pairing from which friendship would sensibly develop. The atmosphere is also consistent, taking advantage of the mix of indirect and direct narration to create an aura of uncertainty. Originality: The setting is very interesting, as mentioned before those details that are given are all relevant to the story, and paint a clear picture. It does not feel as if any information needed to understand the story is missing, though it does leave open questions regarding the history of the corpse-thieves. Polish: Well-written, without any technical errors. Entry #4: The Monster Falls (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: The story builds up in momentum and effectively subverts its over-the-top epic tone for humorous effect. Well-structured and concise. Engagement: Accessible and funny, it gives its punchline and then ends, giving the reader time to wrap their heads around what they’d just read. Originality: A unique style, and a unique interpretation of legend. Polish: Well-written. Entry #5: Legends aren’t born, they are forged. (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: Slow to get into, but the descriptive beginning is very effective in setting the tone that permeates the piece while the blacksmith’s own narration takes on a more engaging narrative style. The story is complete, and also matches well with the style of the narration. Engagement: The atmosphere of the smithy contributes to the engrossing tale, and the style of the blacksmith’s long monologue even more so. His emotions shine through, and his turns of phrase and figurative language really characterize him as a storyteller. Originality: The prompt was altered and incorporated in a neat way, and the story told is an odd and tragic one. Polish: Well-written, without any technical errors. Entry #6: What Have I Become (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: The entry is well structured, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The tone is also consistent, but despite being in first person, the narration is very matter-of-fact. Everything is very clear, with all the important information addressed, and actually covering a fair bit of material. This makes for a solid introduction to the character, or origin story, in this case; but as shall explained below, it doesn’t make for a very compelling story in and of itself. Engagement: Due to the generally apathetic manner of relating the events, the narrator does little to compel readers to become invested in his struggles. Not only was the narration without emotion, but the result was largely a foregone conclusion—and this combination eliminated any tension that might have given the story some momentum. Additionally, the character had very little agency, as he acquired his super powers and was cured of his leukemia through no effort of his own. Originality: Though the setup of the origin story is quite familiar, it nonetheless generates an interesting character with good potential for future adventures. Polish:Well-written, without any technical errors. Entry #7: Fire (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: Telling the complete story of Emery’s life, it is well structured. Told much like a true legend, it maintained an atmosphere of mystery without digging too deeply into the details. The theme, however, is a bit hard to grasp, as it is made neither clear why his transformation was delayed, nor how he earned it. Engagement: The strongest aspect of this entry is its atmosphere, which lends itself well to myth and legend. The character of Emery himself is only understood in a superficial sense: his motives are not particularly developed and his agency within the tale is limited, but the emotional burden he carries is enough to make him compelling. The entry also benefits from a strong hook, and a satisfying ending. Originality: An interesting setting, but one that leaves many questions unanswered—some of which make it difficult to grasp the significance of his life’s events. Polish: Well-written, without any technical errors, and makes good use of imagery. Entry #8: Teensy (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: The atmosphere of this piece, conveyed through its powerful descriptive imagery, is very effective. It hints at much more than what actually seems to be occurring, and leaves the reader with many questions. That being said, it is also very abstract, to such an extent that it is difficult to say whether it consists of a cohesive story, with a realized plot. Engagement: The description alone is captivating, but due to the abstraction it is somewhat difficult to follow. This makes it difficult to become invested in the character or the themes of the story, as neither are clearly understood. Originality: A very unique style of entry that stands out for its unconventional approach to storytelling. Polish:Beautifully well-written, without any technical errors, and makes strong use of figurative language to paint some striking imagery. Entry #9: IT IS AN ALLEGORY (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Cohesiveness: Conventionally speaking, it bears little overall structure. That being said, the meta nature of the text is very much consistent with the style of its narration, and it does come together as a cohesive whole. Engagement: Entertaining in its wit, self-deprecating humour, and metatextual parody of figurative languages in its many forms. Its protagonist is compelling largely by virtue of the unique narrative style. Of course, it does rely heavily on context—only readers already familiar with the site could really make sense of it, and that limits the audience significantly. Originality: Certainly an unusual approach to the challenge. Polish: Well-written, without any technical errors.