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Campfire Stories - The Dancer


Started by Shintome
Post #30587
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Daggerfall Covenant (Orc)
THIS IS FANFICTION LORE - NOT CANON
By: Alec Spencer (aka Shintome)


The five soldiers sat hunched over their small campfire at dusk. Sharpening their blades and filling their bellies. Regaling tales and stories of past battles as the old commander overheard and knew, knew that they were bolstering their own courage in preparation for the siege in the morning. Old Commander Talun knew they could use all the courage they could get, for this band of Ebon scum would not go down as easily as the small gathering parties they've encountered on their way to Bruma. Talun knew his soldiers needed every bit of inspiration they could receive, so he took the last swig of his Brandy and slowly padded over, knowing his intentions...
----------------------------------------------

"Haha you dumb bastard! That Lizard would've taken your head off too had I not crisped his scaly ass before he had the chance too!"

"Oh shut it Duncan," spat Kornik gro-Nolob, a monster of an Orc. "I seen it I did, would've shortened him at the knees with my axe if you'd not make a botch of things!"

"I saved your life I did you ungrateful wh..." Duncan, a Breton Mage-adept, not sorely abundant in the tactfulness most Mages possess said before being cut off.

"Quiet you two! The Captains' have all hit the sack, and you can be sure if they are not in great shape at dawn they will most certainly place us in the front lines for keeping them awake throughout the night." Sir Riley, the most "holiest" of Breton Knights whispered between bits of River Betty. "Anyhow, the last thing we need is to be at odds with one another, tonight of all nights."

Duncan shifted uncomfortably, "I was just giving the big oaf a hard time Rie, no need to get all sentimental."

"Hmph," Kornik rolled his eyes as he swept his whetstone across his battleaxe sharply.

"Is...is it true Sir?" asked Juli, a light-skinned young Redguard girl who was Riley's Squire and Deaton's younger sister. "What they say about who's waiting for us at Bruma? Th...the Black Brigade?"

Deaton, Juli's brother and a first rank archer patted Juli on the shoulder. "Don't you worry about any of that Juli, just rumors is all."

"No Deaton." Riley spoke grimly as he sat his fish bones down. "No, this is war and she deserves to know the truth. No room for comfort here, sorry my boy." He said matter-of-factually as he shifted his eyes to Juli. "It's true Juli, as our Scouts would have it. The Black Brigade waits at Bruma for us. A thousand of the sturdiest Nords we'll ever see adorned in the blackest and strongest of ebony plate that those Dark Elves could mine out of that mountain of theirs. Hardly an open joint in any of that armor if truth be told; and what's more each of them are trained hard with greatswords which are as black as their armor."

"How can we hope to defeat them then?" Juli peeped through her shaking voice.

Riley opened his mouth to respond but got no words out. "Leave the girl alone Rie, can't you see she's scared enough as it is?" Duncan objected, taking quick longing glances at Juli. "She's just a kid, no need to keep her up all night scared outta' her undergarments."

"Shut up Mage." Kornik growled as he placed his greataxe onto the ground carefully beside himself. "He has right of it. If a warrior cannot accept what waits in battle, then they should not be in battle," the orc quipped, arcing one eye high at Juli. "Perhaps she'd be better back home?"

Deaton raised up, "Now wait just a dam..."

"No!" Juli said in a hushed voice. "I want to be here, I have to be here. I just want to know how we're going to fight against something like that?"

Kornik sniffed and Deaton relaxed, both still glaring as Riley answered his young squire. "Well, it's just a matter of out-witting those simpletons," Sir Riley chuckled. "See, for all that armor and strength, Nords have very little mind for tactics, which is why they sided with those Darklings, they had no choice. Now those Dark Elves are smart, but there are none within the Black Brigade, so basically we're just going up against some shiny black boulders." The small group laughed under the rising moonlight. "All we have to do is think on our toes and move quick on them too and soon our swords will bite through those small gaps in their armor, and we'll make quick work of them yet." Riley added, whispering a small prayer to Stendarr under his breath after, asking for hope and forgiveness for his lie.

"Too bad I'm not a dancer then, else I could find those gaps and sever their limbs no problem!" Juli retorted enthusiastically as Riely, Duncan, and Kornik lifted their heads eagerly towards Juli.

"A wha? Juli...I..I am..." Duncan mumbled, thoughts going through his mind.

"Not that kind of dancer Duncan, a Blade Dancer, Sword-Singer, an Asei. Masters of the old ways. It was said that most male Asei could form a blade of their spirits, but the females, they were objects of beauty and reverence, almost mystical in their ways," Juli raved fantastically.

"Juli..." Deaton sighed. "Those were just stories."

"What does your sister speak of Deaton?" Riley questioned as Kornik threw some more wood in the fire, just as eager to understand the girl.

"Nothing. Nothing at all. Just some old stories we were told as kids." Deaton said, hardly hiding his embarrassment.

"No Dea," Juli said, blushing deeply. "They are real! Mama used to say her grandmother was one."

Deaton groaned loudly, "Hush Juli, these men don't want to hear such nonsense. They don't exist, at least not anymore." The group then grew quiet, not knowing what to make of these siblings' rants on the eve before battle and both Deaton and Juli growing darker with embarrassment.

Commander Talun, a dark old Redguard padded up to the bonfire then and sat down between Deaton and Duncan, the smell of Brandy apparent on his breath. "Why I've never seen a Ra Gada be so embarrassed of his heritage. You should be ashamed boy."

"Uh bu...but Sir I mean no disrespect, there's just no reason for my sister to be filling our heads with such nonsense on a night like tonight. They don't exist anymore so there's no reason to be speaking of them like such." Deacon protested arrogantly.

"You really are a fool. I should put you in the reserve tomorrow." Talun said as he threw three more logs into the fire, knowing he'll be needing them. Deaton withdrew slightly, not daring to protest any more and wondering what his commander spoke of. "They do exist still, the blade dancers of old though they are rare enough I'll give you that. But I've found most of the smaller villages boarding the Alik'r usually hold one remnant of the past, hiding their skills in the depths of their own heart. I even got the chance to see one before, in action that is..."

"Really!?" Juli's face grew excited and expectant.

"Sure enough. If you all don't mind I wouldn't care to share the tale with you?" Talun asked, knowing the answer already.

"I'm sure we're all eager to hear what it is you speak of Sir." Riley happily inquired.

"Yes please tell us about these 'Sword-Singers' little Juli spoke of." Duncan replied smiling while stealing glances at the young girl. Kornik just sniffed but posed no objection while Deaton stayed quiet, still embarrassed greatly. Juli just sat in eagerness, her eyes shining in the fire at the old commander.

"Well if you're okay with it. It was nearly a year ago, maybe two. This war has lasted so long it's hard to remember anymore. Anyway I was stationed at a small walled village bordering the Alik'r South of Elinhir. I was a Captain back then and my contingent was sent to deliver supplies and to recruit able-bodied men for the Covenant. This village was our last stop and we were to wait for the main army marching from Sentinel here to regroup with them for the march on Chorrol." Talun stopped for a moment to clear his throat and take a drink of water from his skein before continuing.

"When the bulk of the Covenant was still about three days off one of my Scouts spotted a force right off the edge of Cyrodiil about a half a days march from us. It seems The Ebonheart got wind of our march and sent their own to intercept it before we reached Chorrol. Only problem was we were right between them and the Alik'r. Had they marched through the Alik'r they would've been no match for our army but I had to protect our supplies, recruits, and this village as well. So I ordered the old gates of the village shut and placed every man we had outside of them hoping the Ebonheart would march around us instead of taking the risk of loosing any men before the real battle. It was a fools notion I know but I had taken a liking to this weathered village and meant to protect it the best I could."

"About three hours before they came upon us I scoured the city, looking for anyone brave enough to take up arms against those fiends. I came upon the market place and shouted my call; beckoning anyone willing to protect their families to come forward. Few did but most were either too young or too old, but then a woman approached. She was a dark Redguard, darker than any I've ever seen since; her skin wrinkling and stretching around her face showing plenty of years had been worn from her as the Alik'r did to most around those parts. She was plenty tall and looked to have muscles enough to hold a sword, probably from decades of dying silk as was this villages' custom. I had little faith in her abilities and I figured she'd be the first of any of us to die, if not from a blade than from an illness under that burning day's sun. Though I was left wanting and I did not refuse her; better she died quickly on the battlefield than slowly as a Dark Elven slave. I told her to find a blade and what armor she could and to be out the gates within an hour before they closed and I returned to my overlook above the gates to watch the oncoming battle unfold." Tarun stopped again to take a long drink of water and to wipe the sweat off of his brow from the fire in the dark night. The camp was growing more silent as other soldiers either gathered around to hear the story or went to sleep.

After a brief coughing fit Commander Talun picked back up his story. "We started slowly closing the gates as the enemy was only about a few stone throws away. Their seven hundred-some Nords, Darklings, and Lizards against our few 200, most ragged or new to battle. They stopped just short of us to size up the spectacle and I remember holding my breath all the while hoping they would move on; then laughs burst from far off in their ranks and I sounded the horn for battle. Just as soon as our troops drew our swords the Ebon-filth were charging, ready to tear us apart. My hands were shaking and I knew this was it, my death and failure. So much I'd given to the Covenant but it was not enough to save me."

"Then I saw her, in fact all eyes were glancing toward her, if I had not seen her myself I would have thought it were someone else. But as sure as I can be it was that elderly-like woman, marching towards the front lines to meet the charge. Her skin in the high noon sun glistened from the oil that covered it and seemed to revitalize her body as she looked younger than I at the time: tall, dark, lean, and beautiful. There were plenty of her body to see too, why she might have just strode out onto the field naked for what little she was wearing would do nothing to protect her. She wore only a steel brazer and crotch plate adorned with gold inlay and a see-through light pink silk loincloth that came down around her legs. She had two gold bands around her upper arms from which the same type of silk flowed freely in long strips. Her onyx, shining hair flowed freely down past her knees and in each hand she wielded twin ebony scimitars, the likes I've never see before or since; inlaid with gold designs and a golden hilt shaped to that of flame. She was a goddess among men and boys, a beautiful, fascinating, and terrible thing to behold. She stepped out beyond the front lines just as the enemy approached."

"They stopped dead in their tracks before this beauty and I reckon they were confused as to why such an idol stood before them. I noticed there was some uproar in their ranks as a massive Nord strode forward, carrying an equally massive greataxe and only wearing leather trousers. He strode forward and around this woman, taking in the whole sight of her while she stared forward with dedication in her eyes, her swords positioned to strike. Suddenly a loud, hoarse, ugly laugh burst from the Nord and he said some words I could not hear from my position though I can only imagine. The next moment that beast was doing the unthinkable as he dropped his axe and started pulling out the string from his trousers! Laughter came from the enemy ranks as he started to pull his leathers down but before they hit the sandy earth around his ankles whatever foul thing that he uncovered was soon severed with a strike so quick none saw it; and the next moment his head hit the ground as well. And like that the army roared and charged at this woman, this deity, this Ra Gada and like that she seemed to start flying through their ranks as quick as lightening and as smooth as water she flowed around each man in turn dodging blows and bringing her swords around in a delicate, deliberate dance which severed several heads and limbs in one swift motion. She swirled and turned and writhed around the enemy, one after another dancing, flying, flowing. She made no move without purpose and had no purpose but to deal death. The silk and her hair that flowed from her spiraled around, following her dance of death while I could do nothing but watch on."

"By now the rest of our troops engaged the enemies that were far enough away from that woman to try and attack but those few were alone as most of the enemy was looking to kill this woman. I could do nothing but watch her in fascination and pure terror, for such a creature that moved so deliberate and caused so much death in each second while not having a drop of blood touch her must surely not be human." Talun paused a second, gazing deep into the fire as if trying to relive the moment and then continued.

"By the time the moons were peaking over the horizon our enemy lay dead, the sand absorbing the massive pools of blood that soaked the battlefield. Our enemy lay 700 soldiers to our mere four dead. The Dancer then marched back through the gates as clean as if she just emerged from a bath. I rushed down to meet this matriarch, this remnant of history, this terrible goddess, but she had just as soon vanished back into the village. I was unable to find her again to profess my love and when our armies showed up a day later to the sight of the black and red sands I regaled my story to the Commander and General and now that village is rich and well protected, in case that magnificent Sword Dancer ever wanted to join our cause." Commander Talun exhaled deeply as he pulled his gaze away from the fire.

"Wow..." Juli exhaled along with the Commander. "That's...amazing..."

"Yeah....sorry Juli" Deaton apologized, abashed but renewed.

Duncan patted Juli's shoulder, "I bet our little Juli here will one day be just as amazing" he said forcing a deep blush from Juli.

"I'm sure she will be" Sir Riley admitted, "I know now though that those Black Brigade's are no match against us, if such talent exists within the elderly then we as a force must be just as strong. Thank you Commander for sharing with us."

"Seems far off but good story nonetheless," Kornik admitted. "I never seen such sword work from 'Guards before but I expect to tomorrow." Kornik said while throwing glances at the Commander as well as Deaton and Juli.

Commander Talun lifted up and stretched, noticing the group he had attracted to hear the story. "Now what're you all doing!? It's late and if you don't want to fall asleep during the battle tomorrow you all better get to bed now, that's an order!"

As the others withdrew to their tents and doused the fires, Commander Talun walked the camp checking to make sure everyone did as they were told. As a general rule Talun usually hated telling stories, especially by campfire as all stories told over one generally held little truth, as was the case with this specific story. Although the way Talun saw it, it was once told to him during his year on the Alik'r, so it wasn't all fib. And anyway if it helped to ease a girls worry and inspired a contingent, well they would need it come dawn.

They all would need it.
This post was last modified: January 31st 2013, 09:05 AM by Shintome


LF: Guild


Faction: Daggerfall Covenant
Character Name: Cro-Bo-gro-Sho
Race/Class: Orc Scout
Strengths: Strategy, Teamwork, Adaptation
Weaknesses: Front-line Warfare
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The following 3 users Like Shintome's post:
Grimhild Urdenheimr, Horizon Seeker, zupelo
Post #30795
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I really enjoyed that. Very well-done!! The Dancer sounds especially magnificent.

Feedback:
- This might sound familiar from my other posts, but don't be afraid of the word, "said." Nearly all of your dialogue is described as "retorted, asked, inquired, spat, mumbled, peeped, piped, admitted, and apologized..." I know it feels like it adds to the context, but in reality, it's distracting and dilutes the impact. Use such words sparingly, and allow the dialogue to deliver context.
- A petty point, maybe, but work on your comma usage. If the dependent clause is before the independent clause in a sentence, use a comma.
- Another minor suggestion: don't capitalize the first word after an end quote unless it's a proper noun. Despite the quotation marks and "spoken" punctuation, it's all one sentence.

PS: The Nords of the Black Brigade win, don't they? :)

PPS: One last thing! Your longest paragraph is almost 800 words. Very hard on the eyes. Consider breaking your longer paragraphs up appropriately, even if they're all dialogue from a single speaker.
This post was last modified: January 30th 2013, 09:03 PM by Grimhild Urdenheimr


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Post #30819
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(January 30th 2013, 08:48 PM)Grimhild Urdenheimr Wrote: I really enjoyed that. Very well-done!! The Dancer sounds especially magnificent.

Feedback:
- This might sound familiar from my other posts, but don't be afraid of the word, "said." Nearly all of your dialogue is described as "retorted, asked, inquired, spat, mumbled, peeped, piped, admitted, and apologized..." I know it feels like it adds to the context, but in reality, it's distracting and dilutes the impact. Use such words sparingly, and allow the dialogue to deliver context.
- A petty point, maybe, but work on your comma usage. If the dependent clause is before the independent clause in a sentence, use a comma.
- Another minor suggestion: don't capitalize the first word after an end quote unless it's a proper noun. Despite the quotation marks and "spoken" punctuation, it's all one sentence.

PS: The Nords of the Black Brigade win, don't they? :)

PPS: One last thing! Your longest paragraph is almost 800 words. Very hard on the eyes. Consider breaking your longer paragraphs up appropriately, even if they're all dialogue from a single speaker.

Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

I do apologize for the errors, never been the greatest writer, and my thought process is thorough but dumb at times. :\ Anyhow as far as the "said" point goes, I understand, it's just a bad habit developed by a bad teacher. In college I had a professor who took 50% off of our papers if we ever used the word: "said" as he had some negative feelings about it. I never agreed with it but I quickly learned to use other words.

My commas are bad, I know. I try my best to minimize them, another bad habit, as my thoughts tend to ramble just as much as my writing. And as for the third thing, I'll be sure to edit that.

As for the Black Brigade, I don't know, do you think they won? I mean having a good morale in battle can be just as much of a deciding factor as numbers and strength, don't you think?

I tried breaking it up as much as possible, but maybe I can find some more resting points. I don't want it to feel like the character is ending thoughts rather than pausing as that always confuses me in books, but I'll see what I can do.

Thanks again and I appreciate your criticism. I'm not the greatest writer for sure but I love doing it and any criticism you or others have I'll try to improve upon.


LF: Guild


Faction: Daggerfall Covenant
Character Name: Cro-Bo-gro-Sho
Race/Class: Orc Scout
Strengths: Strategy, Teamwork, Adaptation
Weaknesses: Front-line Warfare
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Post #30825
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No need to apologize, mate, just offering some feedback! And yeah, I think the Black Brigade won. But I'm biased! :)

Writing is like anything else--we enjoy what we're good at, and we get good at something by practicing it well. I'm not the greatest writer either, but like you, I do enjoy it. Let me suggest a very small book: The Elements of Style. It's outstanding.

Good luck! I look forward to your next story.


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Post #30828
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(January 30th 2013, 10:11 PM)Grimhild Urdenheimr Wrote: No need to apologize, mate, just offering some feedback! And yeah, I think the Black Brigade won. But I'm biased! :)

Writing is like anything else--we enjoy what we're good at, and we get good at something by practicing it well. I'm not the greatest writer either, but like you, I do enjoy it. Let me suggest a very small book: The Elements of Style. It's outstanding.

Good luck! I look forward to your next story.

Biased for sure, lol. Though to be fair (even though I will be playing DC) I did not add any of those quips about EP to mean actual offense but instead to add faction identity to them, making them as real as I could. I plan to do at least two more "Campfire Stories," one each in perspective of the other two factions. My aim outside of just telling a story is to help build faction identity as well as building upon verified lore and helping to broaden my readers' views on this war in an RP fashion. That's why I'm really glad you liked the story and asked about it instead of only commenting about grammar, which does need work I admit. But I love writing because I love telling stories.

.....There I've gone and rambled again. Anyhow, thanks for the recommendation, I'll try to pick it up.


LF: Guild


Faction: Daggerfall Covenant
Character Name: Cro-Bo-gro-Sho
Race/Class: Orc Scout
Strengths: Strategy, Teamwork, Adaptation
Weaknesses: Front-line Warfare
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Post #30834
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The story of the Dancer really did strike me as a campfire story told to an audience of soldiers on the eve before a battle. It's sort of like a myth that is hard to believe yet inspiring. The way the story was structured and the way language was used conveyed that feeling very well!


Character Profiles:
Endaros Ilmori - Buoyant Armiger
Sunrio - Aldmeri Justiciar

Taren Jucanis - Imperial Deserter (Used for The Black Shroud RP)
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Shintome
Post #30835
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(January 30th 2013, 10:37 PM)Horizon Seeker Wrote: The story of the Dancer really did strike me as a campfire story told to an audience of soldiers on the eve before a battle. It's sort of like a myth that is hard to believe yet inspiring. The way the story was structured and the way language was used conveyed that feeling very well!

Thank you very much. I appreciate that. :)


LF: Guild


Faction: Daggerfall Covenant
Character Name: Cro-Bo-gro-Sho
Race/Class: Orc Scout
Strengths: Strategy, Teamwork, Adaptation
Weaknesses: Front-line Warfare
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Post #30836
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(January 30th 2013, 10:37 PM)Horizon Seeker Wrote: The story of the Dancer really did strike me as a campfire story told to an audience of soldiers on the eve before a battle. It's sort of like a myth that is hard to believe yet inspiring. The way the story was structured and the way language was used conveyed that feeling very well!

Indeed.


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Post #30968
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EDIT: Fixed some grammatical errors as well as took in some suggestions. Thanks again those that helped me. :)


LF: Guild


Faction: Daggerfall Covenant
Character Name: Cro-Bo-gro-Sho
Race/Class: Orc Scout
Strengths: Strategy, Teamwork, Adaptation
Weaknesses: Front-line Warfare
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