MEMBER EVENT FFS #4: Play the Fool

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Holmishire

Ghost with no home.
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Late night PST
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Passive > Aggressive, but a mix.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Superpower'd, and some Sci-Fi.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anything heavily sexualized or silly. I tend to avoid hard sci-fi, horror, and slice-of-life roleplays.
#1

The fifteenth has passed, and the entries are in! We tasked our bright Iwakians to come up with a story in only 750 words (or less), and this month five challengers have presented themselves! For this October, the theme and prompts provided were as follows:

Play the Fool.
  • They tricked me into thinking it was my idea.
  • Wise enough to play the fool.
  • Voice behind the throne.
  • Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it.
  • Nobody notices second best.

As a quick reminder, the FFS challenge is not up for public voting—but that doesn't mean you can't comment on the entries! Just make sure to be respectful. ;)

The judges will review and discuss each of the entries privately, before selecting our Finalists. Once that is announced, we'll also be providing our own reviews of the entries, to give you a taste of the judging process!

Your judges for this event are: @Turtle of Doom, @Nemopedia, Holmishire Holmishire , @Eru

Rules/Reminders Rubric


    • Feel welcome to leave a review or critique of the entries, so long as you keep it constructive and civil. Pointing out mistakes is fine, but insulting the author outright is a no-go.
    • You are encouraged to read every submission; they're at most 750 words anyway. We know we can't enforce this rule, but try to give every piece the attention it deserves!
    • Not all entries are open for reviewing: please refrain from reviewing entries marked "No reviews" or "Judge only reviews". Unless the author told us otherwise, we've defaulted to allowing for public reviews.
    • In a similar vein, if an entry is marked as anonymous, try not go blabbing in the thread who you think it is! Respect their privacy and let them reveal themselves at their own discretion.
    • We encourage you to lay down the strengths and weaknesses of the submissions instead of letter/numerical grading, because the latter can vary in interpretation and understanding. Be descriptive!
    • The rubric provided is entirely optional for use: you don't have to follow it. It is merely to give you an idea on how the judges will review the submissions.
    • Submissions may contain graphic material. Only entries with explicit sexual content are marked with NSFW.

  • Cohesiveness
    • Did the author manage to bring a complete story to the table?
    • How did the entry match the prompts given? Did it fit, or did it feel forced?
    • Is there a clear beginning and end? Does it flow seamlessly from beginning to end?
    • Were there any lines, or details that you felt like unnecessary? Or did every line have its function?
    • How engaging was the story?

    Engagement
    • How did the author convey the emotion in the story? Did it sway you, manage to pull you in?
    • How engaging did you find the story to be as a reader?
    • Did the mood feel appropriate for the setting given? Did it make sense?

    Originality
    • How creative did you find the entry accompanied with the prompts given? Was the plot a refreshing take on the prompts, or did it show a lot of imagination?
    • What about the plot twists? Did the writer manage to surprise you?
    • Did the author make use of any literary devices (foreshadowing, euphemisms, personification, etc...)? What did you think of the execution of it?
    • Are there any underlying themes or subplots that you could find?

    Polish
    • Are there any spelling/grammar errors in the piece? If so, did they distract or add up in the story?
    • What about punctuation and sentence structure? Did they vary, or was the writer lacking in that department?
    • Were there any words that you would have replaced, or that confused you?
    • What did you think of the paragraphs? Were they properly formed, or perhaps too long? How did it affect the reading?


  

Open to reviews. Written by Draugvan Draugvan . (749 words)
Trigger warnings - rape, sexual abuse

Busy minds worry not

We were trying to raise a decent family, despite the German occupation. Stores closed when armed men began dividing food, and I had been unable to hold a job.​

Avital returned home late. She didn’t look at me as she put two loaves on the counter.​

“You said you would be back before sundown.”

“There was a delay in the shipment of flour. I had to work late or they would not give me bread.”

Avital hung her coat before heading upstairs to see our sons. She spoke over her shoulder on the way up.​

“Tell me you wouldn’t do anything for them? I love my sons. I love you. I make bread for the soldiers, so stop giving me that look, Ilan. I can feel you staring.”

I finished my drink and followed her upstairs.​

Avital cared so much. She was right; I would do anything for them. Little Calev and brave Dima, lights of the brightest star. They were sleeping side by side in the middle of our bed. Avital brushed their fringes and kissed them a late goodnight. She smiled upon their faces and as she smiled, she cried.​

We wouldn't let them go hungry.​

She slept in her dress again.​

* * *​

Avital was missing when I woke the next morning.​

I got Calev and Dima ready for their lessons by my own. They asked about their mother. They were five and eight, what could I tell them?​

“Your mother is out making bread. Her new boss wants to share her baking with all the boys and girls. Your mother is the best cook, isn’t she? Right now, we need her to keep working. It keeps you two fed!”

I ruffled their heads and sent them off to lessons.​

Noam stopped by for lunch. He had sold his jacket for a wheel of cheese, so he wore a grey long coat with rat-holes in the sleeves. His textured face was grey of a kind.​

“These are trying times, Ilan. You can’t stand up to men with guns. If they say ‘eat’, you eat. If they say ‘die’, well…nothing about this is rational. It will do more harm the more you think about it. One life is not worth a jacket. If a soldier wants to stay warm, who am I to stop them?”

Noam laughed at that and for a moment the lines on his face were mirthful instead of desperate.​

“It's not about the jacket, Ilan. They want to make a statement. Let it fall on deaf ears, I say. Sometimes it is wise to play the fool.”

* * *​

Avital returned after lunch wearing the same dress.​

“Where were you this morning, Avital? You can’t go out without telling me like that.”

“They wanted me on the morning shift –“ she began, but I cut her off.​

“How much bread do solders need? You were just out last night! Who will spend time with the boys when I can find a job, Avital?”

She stamped three loaves on the counter and stormed past without a glance.​

“The soldiers are giving out more food. They need us to come in to keep up with demand.”

“Noam was here today. But you wouldn’t know that. He had to sell his jacket for cheese. The soldiers aren’t giving out food. Noam is starving, and his neighbors too. What’s going on, Avital?”

“I’m the only one feeding our sons right now, Ilan! Is it too much to ask that you trust me? I’m doing the best I can.”

She left with tears in her eyes, the sour smell of fermenting alcohol wafting after her.​

* * *​

Next morning Avital was in the same dress and she reeked. She had spent the night sobbing, holding Calev.​

Soldiers came the next evening when the bread was finished. They needed Avital for more work. She had asked me to trust her. So as long she returned with bread, safe each night, I took her at her word.​

* * *​

She continued to cry at night. Her mood worsened until I found a job as a labourer three months later and I could provide for our boys.​

Then Avital took her own life.​

I told myself she went out baking, but soldiers only want one thing. I made pretend it was alright. I told myself she did what she had to, and I didn’t stop it or find another way.​

I looked away for the sake of my boys, but I am responsible because I chose to do nothing.​

Open to reviews. Written by neobendium neobendium . (750 words)
"They tricked me into thinking it was my idea." Areon's shaking voice rose from where she was crumpled on the collapsed floor, surrounded by the burned rubble of what was once a home.

"They? Who the hell is 'they'?" Jason's tone was something akin to horror, and rightfully so. It was painful enough to come home to a pile of rubble, but it was even more so to find his little sister, of all people, sitting in the middle of it.

Hesitantly, he took a step forward. Charred boards crunched under his feet, sending plumes of ash into the grey sky. She flinched at the sound, shaking her head in response.

Areon had always been much smaller than him, but seeing her so dejected and ashamed almost made her look even tinier. "Answer me. Who is 'they'?" His voice had gone softer, trying to coax a reply from her rather than shouting.

She just shook her head in response. "I don't remember."

"Don- what?" Jason frowned deeply at her, now standing in front of her. She had been a bit slow from the day she was born, but he thought Areon at least had a good memory. It was one of the few things about her that was...well...normal.

She raised glimmering green eyes to meet his, tears tracking down her freckled cheeks. Thin red hair spewed wildly from the hasty bun she'd tossed it into, and her arms were absolutely covered with the soot from his once sturdy cabin.

Jason sighed heavily and ran his fingers through normally well-styled auburn hair, causing it to stick up in all directions. Around them, forest stretched out for miles.

Life was funny that way, wasn't it? You work all your life for something and then it gets destroyed before you can even live to enjoy it.

But right now, he was so concerned for his sister that the home didn't matter to him anymore. "You're too gullible," he murmured, stooping to offer her a hand. "Come on. Let's go get a hotel and some food before you burn something else down."

Areon sniffled and swiped her arm along her face, ridding of it of tears but at the same time leaving dirty streaks of ash along her cheeks. "Okay."

"I'm not letting you out of my sight anymore, got it?" Jason helped her up, took another look around the rubble, and then back down at her. She was staring up at him with an apologetic expression, her lips twisted downward and her shoulders hunched in shame.

"I'm sorry."

"I know. Just...don't touch fire anymore. And ask me before you listen to strangers."

It was probably those neighbor kids again. They'd been messing with her for years, but he'd always been around to stop the damage before it started. This time, it must have been different.

A sharp pain suddenly erupted in his ribcage. Jason lurched, choking on his next words. He tore his eyes from the treeline, letting them drift down to his younger sister. Her face had changed, morphing into something chillingly calm. Blood mixed with the ash on her hands, red and black streams flowing down her fingers and soaking into her rolled-up sleeves. The knife she was holding had sunk into his chest, all the way to the hilt.

How had he not noticed what she was holding?

"What-"

He didn't get a chance to finish the sentence. With a snarl, Areon yanked the blade from his chest and kicked the back of his knees with a movement that was surprisingly quick and graceful. His body fell to the ground, the weight of it causing blackened wood to spiral up into the cold breeze. He clutched at his chest, a pained yelp escaping him at the action.

He raised his eyes back up to her. She listed her head to the side, and they stared at each other for a few moments. Jason's face was twisted into a picture of betrayal. Hers? Neutral, and chillingly so. Not even a glimmer of guilt revealed itself.

As the world around him faded away, he caught his sister's movements in his swimming vision. She lifted a hand to her ear, still staring at him, and spoke with a clarity in her voice that he'd never heard before. "It's done."

A few moments passed, and Jason eventually sunk down to his stomach as he felt his life start to leave.

"Of course he didn't know." Her eyes cut to him. "Nobody expects second best."

Open to reviews. Written by Jays Jays . (743 words)
Sin of the Father

The king had died, and they didn't let the young prince see his father's body.

Barely more than a child, the prince entered the Throne room with a heavy heart. He looked upon his father's throne, a magnificent symbol of white and gold with a curtained chamber behind it where the king's advisor had used to give discreet council centuries before. As members of the Court filled the hall, the prince lowered himself to the Throne , his body cold with fear.

Then a voice behind the curtain spoke to him: "Do not be afraid." Startled the prince began to turn around, but the voice hissed alarmingly. "Do not look upon me." It said, "Not now, not ever. Only hear my words so I may guide you."

Frozen with trepidation, the prince looked out to the faces of the Court, seeing hunger and greed plain on their expressions. They questioned his youth, challenged his strength, disclaimed his rule and birthright. The young prince could not refute or defend himself, but then the voice behind the throne started to speak, and in a numbing trance the prince repeated its words.

He knew not what he spoke, but the predators' faces turned from glee to confusion, to worry, to dismay, then fear. The voice rose in pitch and the prince followed, bellowing the words like clapping thunder. Slowly, in an inevitable wave, the Court fell to their knees and bowed their heads with reverent respect. The prince was King.

The King grew from a boy to a man. There were obstacles in his path, high as mountains and wide as the sea, but the king forced through them resolutely, and when he stumbled, he would come to the voice behind the throne. The voice was wise and knew many things, its council always sagely and full of lessons.

The voice taught the young King the treacherous ways of the Court so he would not be made a fool. It accompanied the king through many sleepless nights of the campaign against a neighbouring kingdom, its foresight and caution accorded the king's eventual victory. When the King's mother died, he wept by the throne for a day and a night where the voice offered its rich silence that spoke more than a thousand comforting words. As the King grew older still, their bond changed from teacher and pupil to an ubreakable friendship. When the King was plagued with self-doubt, when he first fell in love, when his children were born, the voice was always there behind the throne, like a loyal shadow. And never once did the King look behind the curtains, never once did he break the silent pact they made.

One day, the King sat on his throne in the empty hall, weary and grey in his old age, but content and happy for all the great deeds he had accomplished in his time. But the voice spoke up and its words froze the King's blood in his veins. "Kill your son." It said.

The King sat frozen on his throne, fear and turmoil warring on his wizened features. "Why?" He asked.

"A terrible fate awaits him." The voice replied. "It is better to kill him than to let him suffer that fate."

The King dared not believe what he heard. But the voice was wise and knew many things, that much had been proven a thousand times over in their long years together. But how could he murder his flesh and blood, no matter the circumstance? Nevertheless, how could he disregard the prophecy of the voice that had always been right?

Stricken with trepidation that slowly turned into a fury to great it clouded his vision red, the King did the unthinkable. He rose from his place on the throne and threw wide open the curtain behind him.

There he saw with great horror, his father, the King before him, his body half-fused into the back of the throne, his hands and feet bound by chains as black as the night. His father's eyes were mournful, full of sorrow and regret.


The king had died, and they didn't let the young prince see his father's body.

The prince stepped into the massive hall with grief and worry weighing down his heart. He looked up, and there it sat, his father's throne, magnificent white and gold, the very symbol of power. And on its back a single curtain of velvet and fire concealing the chamber beyond.

Open to reviews. Written anonymously. (244 words)
Taxes need to be raised.

Lord so and so is not one of your well-wishers.

Such and such country must be taught that you are not to be trifled with.


So many whispers. So many words and ideas have slipped from my mouth to the ear of the young, naive king. I was his guardian, his mentor, his right hand man; to him, whatever I said was righteous and the truth. It was as if I was the father he lost so many years ago.

And to me? He was but a pawn, a minion to be used to bring whatever changes I thought the kingdom needed.

Perhaps I have no right feeling hurt over being cast aside for a prettier face who has joined the king in matrimony. A pretty face I had suggested he marry for the sake of the kingdom.

If only I had known then that she too was a conniving bastard, with sweeter whispers than mine.

"Any last words?" I look to the king and queen. The latter seems smug, a smirk dancing on her lips.

"She will lead you astray! Please, my king, you must know this!"

"Let it be done." My words ignored, I am forced down to the executioner's block, my neck resting where many I had sentenced before found themselves.

Perhaps this was justice?

The crowd jeers and pelts rotten fruits and vegetables in my direction. Footsteps near me and stop.

God have mercy on-

Open to reviews. Written by Aero Blue Aero Blue . (746 words)
The halls, of black steel and crisis-red lights intersecting the walls, were queer in their silence, emitting wordless echoes of ‘do not be alarmed; we are yet asleep’. Four legs and their masters, who knew better, trod upon chrome, the sheen of their cybernetics the blur of nano-fields that muffled their steps to a nullstate. Noiseless interlopers of hallowed new-world tenements, marching to the barely audible applause of constant droning ambience.

“Some job you wrangled us into.” Gack Seven. Best thief of the Fourth Sector. Not so roguishly handsome when drenched in sweat, not so suave speaking in panic-bluster. “Not much of an ‘us’ anymore either, Longtooth.”

No, there was not. Serenity-Pink had phased through a thousand bullets during the initial run before being bisected by an aetna cannon. Vex’s brain had turned to pulpy mush jacking in to alter the security drone pathing. Leland Chow was reduced to a fine mist by those very same drones. Snotbuggy hadn’t shown up. Even in the brave new-world, running a caper on Mount Olympus was an overwhelming order. Then there was him, Longtooth -- ’long in the tooth’ abbreviated -- one of two remaining, and not willing to defeat the purpose of the nano-field particulates by fucking talking.

A gate presented itself before them, steel spun chromatic and true, rainbow colors reflected off its surface. Two lion-heads, crowned in the same prismatic light, flanked it, kaleidoscope eyes staring nowhere and everywhere all at once.

“Time for me to earn my keep or die, pops.”

Longtooth could see Gack’s fingers begin to tremble, and yet the boy’s muscle memory kept his approach languid. Closer. Closer. Closer still, before the lion-eyes rotated and cycled before focusing on Gack like crosshairs, their mechanical forms pouncing at bullet velocity. The steel floor cracked and fissured in fractals as the mecha-beasts landed, though the thief had not met his end beneath their pneumatic claws. He had disappeared in a burst of movement like a loaded spring unleashed, appearing suddenly at the back of the first beast, planting a device of shimmering blue upon its back. From it, he stretched a filament of coiled lightning given form, lassoing it around the second -- with a sputter and crackle, the beasts seized, and deactivated.

He swung from the strand of lightning onto the cracked surface, and struck the gate with a whip -- with a similar gasp and sputter, it opened to reveal their prize; Hephaestus's forge, and all the weapons of the God-

Longtooth watched as half of Gack’s torso vanished -- melted away by beams he could only feel the temperature of -- and as the rest of his body seemed to harden, his body charred and cooled like obsidian in a moment.

And across the empty -- empty -- room, he saw him. Hephaestus of the new-world, his deformed leg replaced by cybernetics, glass-eyes listless and glazed.

“You intrude on sacred ground.” He intoned, with boredom only the gods could muster.

Longtooth, however, was an old man waiting, and his words were proud, “O’ Lame One, Artificer, One-Leg, and the Hammer. Hephaestus,” He proclaimed, as the gears of his hands tore themselves apart to form the gaping maws of flak-cannons, and his determined, blue gaze was replaced by target-system clockwork ticks, “I am -- was -- a blacksmith, a crafter, like yourself. For years, I have worked alongside corporate demigods, bringing to form artifice with which to seize life and claim dominion. I am the Aetna Cannon. The Astra Cybermag. Militech Arms, whose weapons ashed the first-world. But they will never recognize me as the paragon of artifice so long as you, indolent and complacent, rest in your forge, resting on laurel and name alone.

Procure your finest weapons, O’ One of Devices Many -- I challenge you.”

But he procured nothing.

“I remember you, Longtooth, Roland Drizek, Blacksmith. You developed the Aetna when you were but twenty-two, and my brother Ares smiled upon your instrument of carnage. And when my father wished for the remnants of the first-world insurgents to be made ash, he looked upon my forge…

… saw that it was empty.

So I swung my hammer, allowed its errant spark to fall upon your head like inspiration. Militech Arms.

And so he understood, Longtooth, Roland Drizek, did, as the fight left him. He was not the challenger, the imagined demi-god. He had tricked him into thinking it was his idea.

He had been the brand beneath his hammer.
 
Last edited:

neobendium

The Freak With Extra Teeth
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Speed of Light, Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Most of the time MST
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the plot, really.
Favorite Genres
Mideval Fantasy, SciFi, Modern
Genre You DON'T Like
I'm up for mostly anything. But I don't really like voodo and lots of magic. Don't get me wrong, I like fantasy and dragons and stuff....just not the magic part. That's weird to me. And no demons.
#2
OH MY GOD GUYS YOU ALL DID SO GOOD
 

Draugvan

Isn't. That. Glitters. All. Gold.
DONATING MEMBER
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Four hours behind West Coast USA
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Androgynous, Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Primarily aggressive
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Libertine, Medieval, Science Fiction, Drama, Psychological
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance, Yaoi, YA, Horror
#3
Is the entry for whispers missing half the entry? Doesn't look like 750 words to me.
 

neobendium

The Freak With Extra Teeth
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Speed of Light, Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Most of the time MST
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the plot, really.
Favorite Genres
Mideval Fantasy, SciFi, Modern
Genre You DON'T Like
I'm up for mostly anything. But I don't really like voodo and lots of magic. Don't get me wrong, I like fantasy and dragons and stuff....just not the magic part. That's weird to me. And no demons.
#4
Is the entry for whispers missing half the entry? Doesn't look like 750 words to me.
I just counted all the words and yeah, it's only around 200. Might be a typo?

Also, excellent work on your entry! I can't help but go back and read it again and again. I usually don't say things like this because I'm afraid I'll come off as rude, but your entry was my favorite.
 

Holmishire

Ghost with no home.
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Late night PST
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Passive > Aggressive, but a mix.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Superpower'd, and some Sci-Fi.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anything heavily sexualized or silly. I tend to avoid hard sci-fi, horror, and slice-of-life roleplays.
#5

Draugvan

Isn't. That. Glitters. All. Gold.
DONATING MEMBER
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Four hours behind West Coast USA
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Androgynous, Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Primarily aggressive
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Libertine, Medieval, Science Fiction, Drama, Psychological
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance, Yaoi, YA, Horror
#6
neobendium neobendium

Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
Is there a full story?
What is the plot?
Are there any other plots?
What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
How did the author use emotion?
Where did you find literary devices effective?
Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
What failures of the writing stand out most?
Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
Er...no. This one is meta.

I think the real prompt is 'wise enough to play the fool', whereby the reader themselves chooses to only see what they are presented on the surface layer.

You could be forgiven in thinking the prompt that inspires the story is 'they tricked me into thinking it was my idea' or even 'nobody expects second best'. But neither of these have an arc in the story.

But then what narrative heft does the 'true' prompt have?? Well none. Use of the wording of the prompts was too literal and lacks deeper meaning.



Is there a full story?
No.

Did the pervasive 'They' trick her to do it? They didn't trick her, because she is shown to be allied with 'Them'.

Or is to be interpreted that the neighbourhood boys are not malevolent and she's been telling fibs? Perhaps that's a better realised story in this writing, but she lacks the motivation to be so cunning. Though even if she had motivation, has she been playing her brother since birth?

Moving on. Is she taken to be a pyromancer? Are these people humans, or even just the brother? I know nothing about the world setting.

See later for speculation.



What is the plot?
The plot is understood to be that a woman (age?) burned the whole cabin down that her brother had built or bought, and was discovered wallowing in the middle of it.

But is was a ruse. She decided that this is the time to betray her brother. She finds the need to pretend to sob, and uses the closeness to stab her brother.

She appears to be working with others who are off-stage.



Are there any other plots?
The last line hints at more, and asks the reader to question the prior evidence.

Speculation - I'm halfway through the review and I notice the title. Did the brother himself murder all the neighborhood kids and bury them in his cabin? And the sister is talking to ghosts of the dead at the end? Have their parents taught each of them to kill murderously, and he's the 'alpha'?



What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
The paragraph starting 'A sharp pain suddenly erupted in his ribcage' had great visuals. Though, in truth, I had to read it over twice because I thought she was doing blood magic (or charcoal magic) and making these slashy-finger-spikes. But, alas, it was just a knife.



How did the author use emotion?
The author liked to use emotion to engage the reader.

Emotion is given through the brother's perspective. Since he has changing knowledge of the situation, his emotion shifts around and around. It is quite literally train-of-thought.

The use of emotion could be improved by stating the emotion first, then following with the evidence that led the brother/reader there.



Where did you find literary devices effective?
Just good use of language. No devices stand out at me specifically.



Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
No.

The writing flip-flopped between past- and present-tense. I didn't notice exactly during my first reading, but I knew something was dragging at me.

However, great mix of dialogue and narrative.



What failures of the writing stand out most?
The paragraph starting 'Life was funny that way' and then the next paragraph are at odds with each other. His first thought absolutely went to his home first. He was not so absorbed with his sister to ignore his home.

The fix? Swap which paragraph is first - the most important item comes first. This is especially true when portraying a char's perspective.
 

Draugvan

Isn't. That. Glitters. All. Gold.
DONATING MEMBER
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Four hours behind West Coast USA
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Androgynous, Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Primarily aggressive
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Libertine, Medieval, Science Fiction, Drama, Psychological
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance, Yaoi, YA, Horror
#7
@ anonymous :/

Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
Is there a full story?
What is the plot?
Are there any other plots?
What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
How did the author use emotion?
Where did you find literary devices effective?
Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
What failures of the writing stand out most?
Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
Yes - at least 'voice behind the throne' and also 'nobody notices second best'. Conceivably 'they tricked me into thinking it was my idea'.



Is there a full story?
There's a skeleton. This story is the lament of an outdated advisor on the chopping block. At 244 words, there's more than enough space to develop how the new advisor might have tricked the point of view char.



What is the plot?
The writing opens with routine things the point of view char would say to the king. The writing then transitions from thought into a scene and slowly reveals the point of view char is being executed by the king's new advisor/wife.



Are there any other plots?
The king might be bisexual? Its hard to say because the only gendered terms applied to the point of view char are the metaphors 'right hand man' and also 'as if I was the father he lost three years ago'. Use of parallels and cycles suggest that the point of view char was the king's previous wedding partner.

It may be that the new advisor used their own conniving skills to manipulate the point of view char in the same way the point of view char manipulates the king.



What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
The line starting 'any last words?' and in particular the phrase 'the latter seems smug'. I could really picture this as if I were on the chopping block myself.

I had started to figure out that this was an execution before it was revealed. Must have been the phrasing throughout.



How did the author use emotion?
The whole piece is about rumination and regret. Short, but clear and to the point. The new advisor is similarly without regret and hungry for control.

However, the writing poorly conveyed emotion at the line starting 'she will lead you astray!'. This line is outside of the point of view char's personality and stature. Such a strong advisor would not betray their position like that. If they were to survive, they wouldn't be able to save face.



Where did you find literary devices effective?
Perhaps it is not literal to say 'whatever I said was righteous and the truth.' Though, given the world environment, it may well be literal. As a literary device, this is great because of the similarity between the Catholic church which controlled Britain. It brings up imagery of deep-toned sermon, and thus mesmerisation/mind-control.

The writing ends when the point of view char's life and observation end.



Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
Sure.

I have a pet peeve to see dialogue and description on the same line. But that's a stylistic choice.



What failures of the writing stand out most?
There are not enough story elements to really form a knot to unpick.

The first half is written in past-tense, which makes sense. But the back half is intended to be written in present-tense, though occasionally slips into past-tense.
 
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SkittlesAndSpike

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#8
owo gonna write some reviews for you guys :D
 

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#9
Welp, here are three reviews for the entries :D just over half of them! The other two will come later today or tomorrow morning, hopefully! I did enjoy reading everyone's entries, they were all good reads! Thank you, everyone, for writing :"3 they all were great and I hope you guys write again next time! :D I loved each one, and I do really mean that! I read them all like three times before reviewing, and while reviewing I read at least another three times XD! Without further ado, about half of the reviews!

The trigger warnings made me gulp before diving in. I tried to brace myself emotionally and it didn't quite work. The desperation of the terrible situation was palpable and I did find myself thinking to myself ":/ don't let her go man..." constantly. The main character's willingness to turn a blind eye to what was really happening to his wife was both infuriating and saddening. He wasn't playing the fool, he WAS the fool. The repetition of her dress was a decent way to call attention to what was truly happening, though, at least for me, it truly clicked after I finished, not during the reading.

There weren't many mistakes in spelling or grammar. I only found about three mechanical issues! One being a misplaced word and the other two being typos :D good job! As I started the story I sort of wondered how you would work the prompt in, and I think you did a pretty good job of it.

This was very interesting to read, but it did leave me with more questions than were answered. It felt like we were getting part of a story more than a full story. A few changes and it could have felt more complete, it wasn't a bad angle by any means! I just don't think it was executed as well as it coulda been. I also think the better prompt would have been "Wise enough to play the fool". The "Nobody notices second best" prompt didn't seem to truly fit the story.

That being said, you did really good with your descriptions. Pictures were painted vividly in my mind by your word usage, and I didn't detect many mechanical errors if I found any at all! Your use of emotion was good, the brother was used very well! I do however think the story as a whole might have worked out better if we saw things through the sister's eyes instead (would have fulfilled the prompt better).

Be proud :D this was a good story! It was just difficult to fit into the 750 words I think. doable, but difficult!

I found this funny in a morbid sorta way. It was obviously something the main character had coming, but in a way, I felt bad for him. His own control over his king was his undoing. The saddest thing about this whole story is that the king is probably worse off with his new wife than he was with his adviser. But I digress!

I think the trending theme I'm going to see with these entries is few mechanical errors. The only issue I could point out is that the tense starts as past tense before becoming present tense, but there are a few slips back into past tense (a mistake I make a lot myself T_T), but that's about it I think! the obvious prompt was "Voice behind the throne", but I feel like "Nobody notices second best" and "They tricked me into thinking it was my idea" also applies somewhat here, but that's a part of my favorite thing about this story. It kinda got my mind wandering in the sense that it left me to explore things that weren't of enough importance to go into detail for the story. I guess you could say this story allows for a LOT of headcanoning, haha!

The emotion was pretty good. You could almost feel the smugness coming from the main character, and, though the feeling of regret and desperation was a little weak, it was there! The ending also created a lasting impression as the story ends when the main character's life does. That was great!

It was a short story, but a sweet one! I do kind of wish there was more to it, it might have made it an even better entry than it already is, but there was enough to get the job done I do believe!
 

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#10
Welp, here are three reviews for the entries :D just over half of them! The other two will come later today or tomorrow morning, hopefully! I did enjoy reading everyone's entries, they were all good reads! Thank you, everyone, for writing :"3 they all were great and I hope you guys write again next time! :D I loved each one, and I do really mean that! I read them all like three times before reviewing, and while reviewing I read at least another three times XD! Without further ado, about half of the reviews!

The trigger warnings made me gulp before diving in. I tried to brace myself emotionally and it didn't quite work. The desperation of the terrible situation was palpable and I did find myself thinking to myself ":/ don't let her go man..." constantly. The main character's willingness to turn a blind eye to what was really happening to his wife was both infuriating and saddening. He wasn't playing the fool, he WAS the fool. The repetition of her dress was a decent way to call attention to what was truly happening, though, at least for me, it truly clicked after I finished, not during the reading.

There weren't many mistakes in spelling or grammar. I only found about three mechanical issues! One being a misplaced word and the other two being typos :D good job! As I started the story I sort of wondered how you would work the prompt in, and I think you did a pretty good job of it.

This was very interesting to read, but it did leave me with more questions than were answered. It felt like we were getting part of a story more than a full story. A few changes and it could have felt more complete, it wasn't a bad angle by any means! I just don't think it was executed as well as it coulda been. I also think the better prompt would have been "Wise enough to play the fool". The "Nobody notices second best" prompt didn't seem to truly fit the story.

That being said, you did really good with your descriptions. Pictures were painted vividly in my mind by your word usage, and I didn't detect many mechanical errors if I found any at all! Your use of emotion was good, the brother was used very well! I do however think the story as a whole might have worked out better if we saw things through the sister's eyes instead (would have fulfilled the prompt better).

Be proud :D this was a good story! It was just difficult to fit into the 750 words I think. doable, but difficult!

I found this funny in a morbid sorta way. It was obviously something the main character had coming, but in a way, I felt bad for him. His own control over his king was his undoing. The saddest thing about this whole story is that the king is probably worse off with his new wife than he was with his adviser. But I digress!

I think the trending theme I'm going to see with these entries is few mechanical errors. The only issue I could point out is that the tense starts as past tense before becoming present tense, but there are a few slips back into past tense (a mistake I make a lot myself T_T), but that's about it I think! the obvious prompt was "Voice behind the throne", but I feel like "Nobody notices second best" and "They tricked me into thinking it was my idea" also applies somewhat here, but that's a part of my favorite thing about this story. It kinda got my mind wandering in the sense that it left me to explore things that weren't of enough importance to go into detail for the story. I guess you could say this story allows for a LOT of headcanoning, haha!

The emotion was pretty good. You could almost feel the smugness coming from the main character, and, though the feeling of regret and desperation was a little weak, it was there! The ending also created a lasting impression as the story ends when the main character's life does. That was great!

It was a short story, but a sweet one! I do kind of wish there was more to it, it might have made it an even better entry than it already is, but there was enough to get the job done I do believe!
Can you point out the grammar mistakes??? Keep in mind I write in British English, and use suffixes like -ise instead of -ize.
 

SkittlesAndSpike

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#11
Can you point out the grammar mistakes??? Keep in mind I write in British English, and use suffixes like -ise instead of -ize.
Ohhh, okay, that clears things up for me then! Sorry Draugvan. I actually didn't know that :O taking the Brittish English into account, there was only one error then! My bad!

" “How much bread do solders need? " Not even a big deal o.o just one that slipped through the cracks. It was a well-polished story :3
 

Draugvan

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#12
Can you point out the grammar mistakes??? Keep in mind I write in British English, and use suffixes like -ise instead of -ize.
Ohhh, okay, that clears things up for me then! Sorry Draugvan. I actually didn't know that :O taking the Brittish English into account, there was only one error then! My bad!

" “How much bread do solders need? " Not even a big deal o.o just one that slipped through the cracks. It was a well-polished story :3
NOOOOO! I can't unsee it ;_;
 

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#13

Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
Is there a full story?
What is the plot?
Are there any other plots?
What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
How did the author use emotion?
Where did you find literary devices effective?
Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
What failures of the writing stand out most?
Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
'Voice behind the throne' is literal, but well performed. I also see 'wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it.' I feel a stronger story could have been made by not 'pulling back the curtain' on the prior king's curse.​



Is there a full story?
Yes.​

This story covers generations quite succinctly. While it only strictly speaks of the young prince, we have strong implication about his father and son, and all their sons.​

There was very little fluff. I feel most of the paragraphs were required to talk about the young prince's day-to-day life experiences and to highlight their relationship and, dare I say, father-like closeness that he received from the voice.​

Despite being both general and very specific, this story covers both well.​



What is the plot?
A king died. His son takes the throne, and is led by a voice through his life. The then prince, now king, is asked to kill his own son. But the prince has become quite wise himself in his old age, and refuses to kill. The prior king was fused to the throne in service to the prince. The prince takes the prior kings' place and the princes son takes the throne. This has been repeated for their whole bloodline.​



Are there any other plots?
The prior king, now amalgam, still loves his son. It is interesting to postulate what the prior king might regret.​

The title is intriguing. I wonder exactly which 'father' the author intended to describe?​



What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
The line 'Do not look upon me. Not now, not ever.' It is very matter of fact, without malice. It sets the tone for the rest of the piece that draws you into the superb description. I could really feel their bond growing with each sentence.​



How did the author use emotion?
As above. Spectacular! See also 'His father's eyes were mournful, full of sorrow and regret.'​



Where did you find literary devices effective?
I didn't like repetition of the word 'trepidation'. It’s a 50$ word that ruins immersion in the second use. Further, the word is used to describe subtly different emotional reactions, so lacks potency as a repeated device.​

Repetition of the phrase 'The king had died, and they didn't let the young prince see his father's body' was effective to tell the rest of a repeating story. The final paragraph did not need to be there.​

Strong use of metaphor, which further lends to the emotional impact of the writing.​



Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
Yes. Although, the word 'King' is sometimes italicised and sometimes not.​

Further, though the double space at the last two paragraphs promotes the reader to interpret them to talk about the prince's own son, I feel the writing would be stronger without the aid.​



What failures of the writing stand out most?
The writing fails to distinguish the dialogue from the description in any meaningful way. I do like the shape of the paragraphs of the piece, but even italicising dialogue will improve flow for the reader by guiding their expectations.​
 

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#14
Aero Blue Aero Blue

Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
Is there a full story?
What is the plot?
Are there any other plots?
What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
How did the author use emotion?
Where did you find literary devices effective?
Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
What failures of the writing stand out most?
Did the writing fulfil the prompt / what is/are the prompt(s)?
'They made me think it was my idea' only.​



Is there a full story?
Yes. Though, there is also a lot of fluff.​



What is the plot?
The wording used in the writing obfuscates the plot. In Longtooth's brag, I understand it to mean that 'Aetna' is the common name for 'Militech Arms.' It is therefore unclear in Hephaestus' apology what event came first? Longtooth developed the Aetna, but then Big H. sparked Longtooth with the idea to make Aetna? Nonsense.​

Nonetheless, assuming Aetna are earlier, different, weapons from Militech Arms, then there is a clear sense of beginning, conflict and resolution.​

The entire fight is fluff. It is spectacle for the reader and adds nothing to the core narrative. Though something can be said when you compare Big H.'s pacifism (and sense of quiet control) to the earlier graphic fight.​



Are there any other plots?
There was a previous engagement as Longtooth's squad breached the compound.​

The story is told from the perspective of a third person in Longtooth's party. This is effective because the whole piece appears intended to be written like an epic. This kind of word-of-mouth re-telling feels appropriate.​

I wonder who Longtooth is supposed to be? Only the Norse Baldur comes to mind...but I have only a layman's understanding of either pantheon. And if Longtooth is a common god, then could it be that the narrator is too? That would lend to immersion and narrative consistency quite well. My impression is that only Big H. and Zeus are common gods, while the rest are made up.​

Now that I think of it...I question if the style of telling is more appropriate for Norse mythology than for Greek mythology. See the name 'Long in the tooth'.​

There seems to be some significance with the word 'ash' being in italics, but I can't find it.​



What was the most compelling/engaging part of the writing?
Only the end after the fight, as this was the only part relevant to the story. This story could be written in at most half the number of words.​



How did the author use emotion?
Fleeting use of emotion. The story is more about 'fact', which can have its own merit (see for instance Frank Herbert's 'Dune'. Use of fact over emotion is appropriate for the narration style, but inconsistent with the climax of the story.​
- The fight was clinical.​
- Good use of a short sentence to highlight the impact of 'But he procured nothing'.​
- I could feel Big H.'s long lived malaise despite what little dialogue he had.​
- The awe of the second-to-last paragraph was effective.​



Where did you find literary devices effective?
I am too tired by this point in the night to be precise. Though, I do not recall being firmly struck by any literary devices.​

The italicisation of some words lends a false importance that distracts the reader. The reader can naturally decide on their own interpretation of character's cadence.​



Were you satisfied with grammar in general?
I strongly dislike the dialogue spanning multiple lines/paras. Further, the convention when doing this is to open each line/para with the opening quote mark, but not to use the end quote mark until the dialogue has finished.​



What failures of the writing stand out most?
The fluff, for sure.​

I also could not orient myself to the opening paragraph, which broke immersion and flow. Did they have dogs with them? Are they centaurs? How many chars?​

The over-use of pronouns 'he', 'him', 'his' at the end spoils the crux of the plot by confusing the reader.
 
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Draugvan

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#15

I thought about your story some more. Greek myth is themed around the concept of besting your superiors, and more particularly to make fools of your superiors. The Greeks held intellect to the highest standard - they coined the term 'barbarian' after all.​

The crux of the story itself defeats the historical theme in Greek myth. Longtooth should have won this conflict with Big H. because Longtooth is seemingly of the civilisation following Haphaestus (human, probably), and therefore MUST best Big H.​

I'd like to see this story expanded on such that Longtooth gets the better of Big H. despite the fact that Big H. is shown to be incredibly clever and thoughtful. You certainly have enough space to do this if you contract the fight to a mere paragraph.​

Greek myth also strongly shows 'Nemesis' for those who are overly proud or bodacious. And I can strongly see this in your writing. None could make better weapons than Big H. himself. Who dare try?
 
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Aero Blue

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#16
Yooooo, that's pretty thoughtful stuff.

(Disclaimer: I don't really know shit about mythology!!! But super neat analysis and critique.)
 

Draugvan

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#17

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#18

In this October's chill, five challengers stepped forth to present tales not as straightforward as they may appear! After carefully navigating each twist and surprise, your judges have carefully selected a champion.

In this month, one entry proved exceptionally compelling, and so we are pleased to announce a Grand Finalist!

Sin of the Father
An entry of 743 words by Jays Jays .


Though each entry has its strengths, only this one impressed all judges so thoroughly! For our thoughts on all submission, please see below.


 

Cohesiveness
A clear start and setting is put down. Every scene serves it function to show the story and reveal more information, or some background information, though I felt that it was already made obvious after the first scene. It is the dread that lingers on.

Engagement
The dread that I mentioned before is what really pulls at the story. It described the grim reality of a past that really could have happened and the blind eye others turned at it. Since this is also a hot topic right now in Europe it also fits in with current sentiments news.

Originality
The sudden wisdom (last line of the main character) was what surprised me, otherwise the story didn’t have any sudden twists or surprising uses for me.

I liked how bread stayed at the centerpoint of the story. Avital had to make ‘bread’ for the soldiers and returned with bread for her family.

Polish
Nothing glaringly obvious that disturbed my reading.
Cohesiveness
The start is a little wishy washy for me. Immediately we are thrown into the middle of a scene, apparently a house has burned down and it is because of a little girl who claims someone made her do it. Jason doesn’t seem disturbed because it is a normal occurrence, or so I understand. No further explanation given. The questions that rise up aren’t properly answered. In the end I didn’t really get a full picture of the story.

Engagement
The wishy washy start along with the questions that were left unsatisfied makes it hard to get engaged in the story. It went a little too fast for me. I think this story would have benefited if it was allowed to be longer, perhaps as a BITE entry instead of a flash fiction piece. I can see the intent and I think I understand the concept they were trying to use, but it was too large for FFS.

Originality
I do like the imagery I had for the last paragraph. I imagine the girl staring off into the distance, listening to this voice within her as she turns towards Jason and smiles a little creepily saying that no one expects second best. Otherwise, the use of the prompts wasn’t too surprising.

Once more, I have to applaud Neobendium for their continuous effort to cramp in as many prompts as they can in the story. Even if it isn’t always needed and it also works as a point of criticism as the use of prompts sometimes turn a little awkward, but I like their excitement.

Polish
Nothing glaringly disturbing that disturbed my reading
Cohesiveness
A clear start. The king died and his son is taking over. Clear ending and good flow. The use of the prompt goes on through the whole story as a theme and I’m not sure how the theme of the challenge fits. Though there are a few questions that I didn’t get answered. One of them being what exactly the sin of the father is and how he got fused with the throne and became the voice behind it.

Engagement
I felt emotionally engaged in the story. From the sadness of loss to the growth of the king and then the devastation. Everything fit and I liked the gradual shift of mood. In hindsight I’m a little disappointed how we didn’t get to see more about the growth of the king, it was kinda swept over. However, seeing as this is flash fiction it also makes sense that the details of the king’s growth is skipped over. The emotion is there.

Originality
I wasn’t surprised to find the former king behind the throne. There were slight suspicions. Though I also find it a refreshing take.

Polish
I read all pieces out loud first and there was one typo I kept on stumbling over and can’t unsee. ‘Into a fury to great is clouded…’ Otherwise I have no other remarks on this piece in regards to polish.
Cohesiveness
Another piece where the prompt is used as the theme of the story and the theme of the challenge can’t really be seen back. However, nonetheless I liked the piece. The start is rather abrupt, but it fits the mood of the story and serves as a nice introduction of who the main character once was.

Engagement
I have never been a fan of the first person, but I liked it and felt engaged in it. The emotions of the piece weren’t strong, but I feel that it fits the character because they don’t feel all too emotional either.

Originality
This piece rather reminds me of Game of Thrones in a way in which a Varys like character doesn’t play the game so well.

Polish
None that disturbed my reading.
Cohesiveness
Strong start where we immediately get introduced with the world that the story is set in. I didn’t understand how it fit the theme until the very end, which was a nice twist. Overall the story was nice and compact, the characters were nicely introduced.

Engagement
I had some trouble getting into the story, I’m not a fan of a lot of descriptions, but I appreciated what was written down. It was really clean.

Originality
The prompt used was a tricky one, I find. I liked the way the prompt was used here and how smoothly it fit into the story.

Polish
None that were so glaringly obvious that they disturbed my reading.

The Brand Beneath the Hammer
Cohesiveness:
This story read like a complete story. It included just enough background information that the reader was able to keep up with what was happening, but not enough that it overwhelmed.

Engagement:
I was intrigued from the beginning when it turned out that most of the characters were already dead. I wanted to know what they had gotten themselves into. So on the front of engagement, I don’t see any issues. It was well done.

Originality:
That was the smoothest entry of the prompt I've ever seen. And the story itself was quite original.

Polish:
Right away I noticed that there was a problem with commas. Aside from the comma issue I saw no real glaring errors.


Whispers
Cohesiveness:
At first, I wasn’t sure this was going to be a cohesive story, but in the end, it turned out to be a short, but full-length tale of one man’s last minutes. It’s an interesting take on the prompts.

Engagement:
From the beginning I was pretty well engaged. It was short and to the point, which was nice and refreshing, but at the same time, I had no real connection to anything that was happening. It was just what it was, I felt neither one way or another about the ending.

Originality:
Am I just missing people using the prompts? Or are they no longer using them. I understand that this was based on the prompt “the voice behind the throne” but I didn’t see it used at all in the story. I even read through it again (for the third time) to make sure. So once again, I cannot really comment on how originally the prompt was used. And the story itself was not particularly original despite the fact that I did enjoy reading it.

Polish:
I saw no issues with grammar or punctuation.

Sin of the Father
Cohesiveness:
It was very much a full story. There was no need for a lot of background information, just the fact that the king was dead was enough information to carry the story from beginning to end.

Engagement:
I was sucked in by the time the voice spoke to the new king. I wanted to see how it ended. I craved to find out who the voice behind the throne was. It was very well done. Bravo.

Originality:
I truly wasn’t expecting a literal translation of the prompt but that’s exactly what we have in this story. I think it was an interesting way to present the story too, and, as a whole, the story was original. I’ve never read something quite like it before.

Polish:
I didn’t see any real errors


Ashen Gravestones
Cohesiveness:
It doesn’t really feel like a complete story. There are too many parts the reader is missing. It feels like it belongs in the middle of a larger story. But there is a beginning, middle, and end even though it felt like it was supposed to be part of something more.

Engagement:
To be honest, I had a little bit of trouble engaging with this story. I think it’s because it felt like it was part of a bigger story. I wanted to know more about the sister. Who she was talking to at the end. What possessed her to stab her brother. The answers to these questions feel like they would have been revealed either just before or right after the action.

Originality:
Once again neo, you go above and beyond in terms of using the prompts. I like that you challenge yourself to use multiple prompts every time. The first one wasn’t really an original was to present it, but it worked for what it was. The second prompt I wasn’t expecting at all and I liked that it implied that he was the golden child and she was not. It felt like it was a statement fueled by resentment, and I like it. The story itself was relatively original. I definitely didn’t expect her to stab him.

Polish:
I saw no glaring issues.


Busy Minds Worry Not
Cohesiveness:
There was a definitive beginning middle and end. Enough background information was provided in the beginning to set the stage and get the story. I wish there was more detail in the middle, but I understand that word count was a deciding factor in how much detail to include.

Engagement:
I wasn’t too terribly engaged. I felt like the way it was written made me feel like there was a distance between me and the story. Like I was watching it from really far away, and I wasn’t seeing everything that needed to be seen.

Originality:
I really like the way the prompt was used. It was subtle enough when it was mentioned that I didn’t think much of it but the way it ties into the end of the story is brilliant. The main character really did play the fool, didn’t he?

Polish:
I think I saw one typo, other than that it looks pretty well polished.

Busy Minds Worry Not
Cohesiveness
Throughout the entry, the details of Avital's work was obfuscated both by the narration and by the characters—though it was quite clear that it was prostitution, even without the warnings. This builds some tension between the couple, as even if both are aware of the truth, each wields some deniability. Unfortunately, it does at times make it difficult for the reader to know whether something is intended to remain vague, or be puzzled out.
  • Throughout, Avital and Ilan use bread as a euphemism for the former's work. Ilan's little pep talk to their two sons makes it clear that he knows what is going on. And yet, later, he argues with his wife, trying to suss out the truth—and ultimately decides to trust her word. Were we wrong to assume he knew what was going on, or was he simply allowing Avital to continue to believe that she had tricked him? (Certainly the latter would suit this month's theme, but it was not established in the entry itself. Noam suggests that he play the fool for the soldiers, not his wife.)
  • There is also particular attention given to noting her consistent dress, as well as her worsening scent. While both are logical in the context of the setting, the insistence with which they are noted gives the impression that they are intended to symbolize something—but it is not clear what.

The plot itself was complete, if a bit skeletal (see below). As declared in the last line of the entry, the core theme of the entry would be that through his inaction, Ilan is an accomplice in his wife's death. While this is supported by the fact that Ilan did not, in fact, take any remedial action, the theme is not made evident to the reader prior to that final statement. This is because Ilan was only passively inactive. No situations were presented where Ilan had the opportunity to do something, but didn't. Additionally, Noam earlier propounded an opposite philosophy, encouraging passivity—though that discussion felt largely out of place in the rest of the story, as it was not relevant to Ilan's experience, and it resulted in no apparent change of behaviour.

Engagement
While certainly a complete story, with a clear progression towards the ultimate despondent ending, there was not much movement. That is to say, while the family's situation worsened, the reader had little reason to be similarly affected. Very few tangible events took place in the entry, and most of the interaction between characters was devoted to demonstrating the couple's devotion to their children. With motive being the only defining feature of either character, Avital and Ilan's depth as characters was not accessible to the readers. Paired with a dry narration—appropriate considering the narrator, but still—this made for an emotionally detached read.

Originality
The setting was appropriate for the themes explored by the entry, and the style of the narrator was ultimately fitting as well. The use of the bread-baking as a euphemism for prostitution in particular added a touch of intrigue to what would otherwise be quite straightforward, and as such was perhaps the most defining feature of the entry.

Polish
There were a few typos: «by my own» was used instead of «on my own»; «soldiers» was misspelt «solders». Ultimately, neither was significant enough to be particularly jarring. As there was neither much in the way of action nor description, the narration varied little, but it did benefit from a few moments of vibrancy: Ilan's description of his sons, Avital's crying smile, Noam shifting expression.
Ashen Gravestones
Cohesiveness
To be truly effective, a twist should be surprising but logical within the context of what came before it. Ideally, readers should be able to see in a new light what came before, and ask themselves how they failed to see it coming. With this in mind, this entry succeeds partially in creating a compelling twist, but not totally.
  • There was no indication that she was holding or hiding on her person anything. If anything, that she wiped her eyes with her arm as Jason helped her up implied the opposite—that her hands were free. This led the following statement to feel out of place: «How had he not noticed what she was holding?» It gives the reader the impression that they missed something, a little detail that would have hinted at her holding something, anything, but this wasn't the case.
  • Her behaviour after she stabbed him came out of nowhere. We had already seen her in a vulnerable state, speaking to seemingly no one, so the supposed inner voices are consistent. However, in stark contrast to that previous moment of privacy, she spoke calmly where before she had been shaking. This gives the appearance of the character's personality having been rewritten entirely for shock value—as there is no reason for her to put up a façade until she becomes aware of his presence.

Additionally, the closing line of the entry was lacking in proper set-up. At no point was Areon ever compared to Jason, nor was Jason ever established as being the "first" of anything. This makes the use of the prompt somewhat jarring, especially as Jason is effectively the perspective character—narratively it would imply that there should be a first that he does suspect.

The narration itself is effective, though the precise nature of the narrator was a bit hard to place at first. For the most part it follows Jason's perspective, reliving his memories and parsing through his thoughts, but this was somewhat undermined by sentences like «Jason's tone was something akin to horror,» which implies an objective narrator that could not know his true emotions.

Engagement
The story does a good job of making Jason compelling, by both reinforcing his priorities—first his sister, then the cabin—and his personality. This is accomplished through a mixture of exposition and the direct actions he takes in handling Areon. Even in such a short entry, their relationship is made clear, which helps enhance the final betrayal of the twist.

The twist itself was a bit sudden, and only partially effective (see above). By deviating from the realm of expectation—changing the character rather than explaining the fire—the ending of the entry does little to resolve the events of the story. Areon's motive is not made clear, nor is it clear whether she has been faking dullness her whole life or whether her sudden clarity was entirely due to "them". There is not even enough understood of the potential future to create a cliff-hanger.

Originality
The premise was solid, and there was a lot going on for just one scene. The base twist—that Areon had set the fire at the behest of voices—was compelling, and added significant intrigue to the relationship between the siblings. Of course, for reasons mentioned above, parts of the twist ultimately came across as forced.

Polish
The narration was very good, flowing seamlessly from description and interactions to exposition. Jason is surprised at her faltering memory, and in the same breath her mental profile is established; Jason warns her about strangers, and in the same breath the reader learns of his protecting of her in the past from neighbour kids.

Sentence and paragraph length were also varied appropriately, as the situation demanded.
Sin of the Father
Cohesiveness
The cyclical nature of this entry was masterful, with a powerful line being used as the repeated anchor. Having the subsequent description of the throne change slightly between tellings was an interesting choice—close enough to reignite the memory without being identical and thus risking tediousness. Perhaps it also reveals something of the character of the next prince?

Engagement
Despite being almost entirely exposition, the development of the king and his advisor's relationship is nonetheless very compelling. It builds up cleanly and quickly, passing through emotional times for the king and using them as sources of bonding. This would have worked great as an introduction to a longer tale—yet is equally, if not more so, effective leading up to the twist.

That the terms «prince» and «king» once referred to the same individual made the moment of the twist an interesting one. While quite a simple thing, it helped to reinforce each son as distinct from their father, despite following the same path.

Originality
The concept of the throne, while still largely mysterious, is explored well enough in such short time as to be a very satisfying centrepiece for the setting. Cyclical stories are not uncommon, but this one was pulled off very well, and unlike many, there is a sense of growth between successive cycles—wisdom building up with each generation.

Polish
A couple typos, being «to» used for «so» and a few sparse missing commas, but nothing so great as to disarm the flow. There are only a few punchy sentences—namely the advisor's insistent warnings—but they are placed effectively for their purpose. The enumeration-style run-ons were also an effective way of showing how quickly things changed—or how many forced pressed against the young king.
Whispers
Cohesiveness
Short, to the point, and to its credit. The details given do an efficient job of presenting the core machiavellian theme of the entry.

It is a bit lopsided, however, with about half the entry being dedicated to his death when the subversion of the queen is perhaps the more interesting aspect of the story. It also seems as if the whispers in all their italicized glory could have been used more than just in the beginning, as they are the most direct embodiment of the story's theme.

Engagement
The only one to receive any significant characterization is the advisor; this is fine, as it is from his perspective that the story is told. The king in particular requires no development, for he is but a pawn. Still, the queen could have perhaps used a little more attention, either to create a larger contrast or comparison—as appropriate—to the advisor.

The story was amusing, but due to the limits of its scope, it was not particularly moving.

Originality
A good concept, and while it is difficult to call anything in such a short entry, I daresay the twist was a particularly compelling way of reinforcing the core theme.

Polish
Well-written without any apparent errors. There isn't much room for variety, but the punchy «Perhaps this was justice?» was a nice way of adding just a touch of doubt to the character, a hint of development.
The Brand Beneath the Hammer
Cohesiveness
The story is split into two parts: the heist, and the encounter with Hephaestus. Ultimately, the two parts have very little functional effect on each other. Once Hephaestus reveals the nature of Longtooth's initial inspiration, it eliminates any value he might have sought from the forge. All of Longtooth's crew dies during the heist, but their sacrifice means nothing to him in that moment.

Engagement
Because the two parts of the story do little to support one another, the result feels segmented. There is some rising tension with Gack, and then the tension drops and flatlines. Their little discussion at the end is quite matter-of-fact, and not particularly compelling. That being said, the summarization—mirroring the entry's title—was an effective seal for the end of the entry.

Additionally, the characters aren't given much development. Only Longtooth has an actual motive established, and little about him is established about him beyond that and his profession.

Originality
To some extent, it feels as if the entry was written as an excuse for the prompt. It is a little jumbled, and while hints of a setting are established, the lack of significant characterization makes it difficult to tap into its potential depth.

Polish
The first paragraph was a bit much: seemingly pumping words into the description for the sake of words alone. This is especially notable due to the heavy use of setting-specific jargon. Thankfully, this issue is not prevalent throughout the entry.

Cohesiveness: fits the bill. The slight twist on the prompt, "sometimes it is wise to play the fool", felt especially fitting.
Engagement: I was focused on the narrative the whole way through, even if the mood felt appropriately grey and depressing which is outside of my usual taste. It felt like a tragedy slowly revealed.
Originality: the idea is hardly one that hasn't been explored before, but the particular viewpoint was new to me. The occupation of baking bread used to protect the children's hearts was cutting, to me.
Polish: nothing stood out to me in the way of errors. I liked how no sentence was longer than seemed necessary - nothing extraneous, and everything was supplied within the word limit. Even in light of this, there are portions to be gleaned between the lines, so to speak.

Cohesiveness: I feel like there is much more to this story that we are unable to know, unfortunately. Allusions to "they" and what precisely is going on in this story are not told. For this particular scope, it does satisfy the completeness, but only akin to a novel's chapter.
Engagement: The sudden twist from conversation to conflict, of sorts, grabbed my attention midway through again, and gave the rest of the story a tense air.
Originality: I think this is a rather creative take on the prompt; "second best" here referring to the younger sister, who Jason calls "gullible", so Areon's status was present yet unforeseen without the expectation given by the prompts.
Polish: I found the sentence about "the forest stretching out for miles" to be oddly placed, but this isn't a huge issue, though it's the only one I saw.

Cohesiveness: A complete story, one that followed the prompt's wording though it's difficult to define whether it also follows the underlying theme. Certainly, the young prince was one who did not seek out the truth at once, believing what he was told and prospering for it, though there is a point to be made about what truly foolishness consists of.
Engagement: Fully engaged. The prince's emotions were well readable.
Originality: I feel as if I've seen other stories of this theme before, so it's somewhat of an interpretation of an existing theme, though I did enjoy this specific one.
Polish: No issues observed. The final two paragraphs are slightly confusing to me, chronologically speaking and as to their significance. I can make a couple of guesses, not being the most observant of readers, of course.

Cohesiveness: A complete, if short, story. This too feels as if it doesn't quite grasp the theme of "Play the fool" though it does fulfill the prompt.
Engagement: I felt as if I wandered through this story, a little bit disengaged as if from the viewpoint of a detached observer, though this may be intentional from the character's somewhat aloof perspective.
Originality: I liked the rather raw speed at which this story takes us from the setup to the present time of action. Can't say I've read the like before.
Polish: No errors observed. It looked like it was going to read a bit clunky but in practice it felt smooth, so that was a plus for me.

Cohesiveness: Though we begin in the middle of things, it somehow feels complete, since portions of the larger story may be gleaned from this one. The story's end feels fitting for the prompt's theme if not necessarily its exact words. The storytelling was fluid throughout.
Engagement: Fully engaged. I love this style of writing so my bias is likely showing - it's a story with a sense of grandness about it seeping through every paragraph.
Originality: Though it seems to be an interpretation of deific lore, the thematic elements are much different than anything I've read before - I'd say this is quite the original story.
Polish: No errors found, one minor note on structure: this sentence had a pair of confusing pronouns that took a few read-overs to clarify personally. "Longtooth watched as half of Gack’s torso vanished -- melted away by beams he could only feel the temperature of -- and as the rest of his body seemed to harden, his body charred and cooled like obsidian in a moment."
 
 

neobendium

The Freak With Extra Teeth
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Speed of Light, Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
Most of the time MST
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the plot, really.
Favorite Genres
Mideval Fantasy, SciFi, Modern
Genre You DON'T Like
I'm up for mostly anything. But I don't really like voodo and lots of magic. Don't get me wrong, I like fantasy and dragons and stuff....just not the magic part. That's weird to me. And no demons.
#19
Great job, Jays Jays !! You really deserved it :3
 

Greenie

Here in the Void
SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Posting Speed
Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, Androgynous, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Passive.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Supernatural, Horror
Genre You DON'T Like
Yaoi
#20
Thanks for the reviews, all!

My entry was Whispers. I kept it anon 'til now, thought it would be fun since my previous ones were all comedic.

Congrats Jays Jays !