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Topics - Operative13

Pages: [1] 2
1
Develop Your Story / Chelderan Chronicles: Worldbuilding
« on: December 06, 2017, 06:18:28 AM »
After some while of not getting into the swing of writing my on-the-back-burner stories, I decided the best course of action for me to get back into writing again would be to focus on worldbuilding, which I have neglected to do so for quite some time  8) For the vast majority of time, these notes have been nothing but pointers to which I would use to create the stories around them. But now, I am putting them here in full-fledged detail for all those lore-loving fanatics   :D Take care... they can be quite long  :ninja:

2
Develop Your Story / Chelderan Chronicles: Sky's Edge
« on: August 30, 2017, 07:43:27 AM »
Part 1
“Give me my orders, and I’ll see it done.”

That’s what it was supposed to be. That’s what it was only meant to be. I never intended for things to get out of hand so quickly. If only I knew beforehand what I had got myself into...

They never said anything about what we were dealing with. Not a word. Anything they did say, they were careful to pick their words. But that’s how things worked between the Guild and our Legion. We were a mercenary army first and foremost. A Guild asset second. We operated under a strict code of conduct. We followed rules, guidelines, procedures. Everything that had to do with the Rules of War, we followed to the letter. Anything else was merely a tack to the endless requisites we were obligated to. So it appeared nothing special when the Guild had set us up with another assignment. Guard duty on a remote island for who-knows-how-long. It was certainly an easier task than any other contract we had taken before: Fighting wars and quelling unrest on behalf of regimes across the world was our typical duty. If not fighting, then training and supervising. And if it wasn’t that either, then guard duty usually came after. Rarely do people like us get hired as guards. Our specialty as combat soldiers goes to waste sitting around and looking after mundane items or people. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but when it does, there’s usually a very good reason for it.

Still, it was not my place to question the nature of the assignment. Only that we fulfilled the objectives laid out to the best of our abilities and nothing more. At the time, I couldn’t be anymore exalted at finding some peace and quiet after the long years I’ve spent serving under the Legion. I’ve traveled quite a bit during my time: the islands of Saint Else, the deserts of Eretus, the bustling cities of Dao... I’ve been to almost every corner of the Old World in my journey. But never to the New World.

I never understood why they sent me and my men to that forsaken island. They simply said they needed bodies to protect a valuable asset, and that was the end of the story. If they had told me what we were dealing with... the things we’d do... the things we’d have seen, I would have said no right then and there. I would have quit my job and retire from the world, never to see the Guild and their business again. But by the time I did, it was already too late.

It was a calm morning the day we arrived at the island. A cool breeze swept across the ship with a clear sunrise across the empty horizon. For almost the entire journey, it was nothing but rough seas and stormy clouds. Miserable and sleepless those nights were, especially for some of the unfortunate lads suffering from seasickness who could only string themselves up in their hammocks, counting the days and hours down. Frustrating it was for me to simply wait there alongside them, watching over their stiff bodies and feverish faces knowing I could do nothing for them but wait out the storm. Some of these men have been with me since the beginning. We’ve been through many hard-fought campaigns together. The wounds we bore and the losses we suffered then were a testament to the deep bond our company held, and as their superior officer, they looked to me for guidance. They’d run through hell and back knowing I’d do the same for them. So it came as no surprise that as soon as the helmsman shouted for land, everyone came dashing up the deck to lay eyes on their new home-away-from-home. A hundred-some men stacked the port side of the ship, even dragging the poor, sick buggers out from bed to squeeze a glance. Anymore and I swear the ship would have tilted right there and we’d have to swim the rest of the way! Everyone cheered and broke into celebration, knowing the long, perilous journey across the ocean had finally ended. This was only the start of our journey, however, and the beginning of our misfortunes.

From the onset, nothing spectacular stood out from the island: a simple mountain covered in trees jutting out from the surrounding waters. The only thing of note was the rather cold air in what was assumedly a tropical zone. From the ship’s bow, I watched as we approached this seemingly mundane island; cutting through the waves; blasting through the wind; the dry, salty air whisking through my face. Our new home, I thought. Our new life.

“Major Harrowind,” a soft voice called out from behind.

I glanced over to see my Captain, James Freiger, standing with his hands behind his back.

“We’ll be docking in half an hour, Sir,” he said.

I nodded in acknowledgement before turning my gaze back to the sea ahead. His heavy boots thumped its way to my side before James grabbed hold of the railings and gazed out too.

It was then that a burning thought I had held in the back of my mind crept out and emerged from its hiding. Now would be a good time to ask.

“Why do you think the Guild would have us sail halfway across the world for a place like this?”

James glanced back, an eyebrow raised.

“A hundred men,” I continued. “Stuck here in the middle of nowhere. They could have easily sent a hundred of their private guards instead and it wouldn’t make a difference.”

“Perhaps they have something in mind for men like us,” James replied. “Something none of their usual grunts can’t handle.” He turned and gazed back at the island. “Whatever it is, we’ll soon find out.”

“I’d be happy to speculate about that theory of yours,” I joked. He scoffed and shook his head at the sly grin I had.

Our smiling faces soon dropped the moment we spotted the two patrol boats heading our way.

3
Suggestions And Feedback / More Flexible Poll Editing
« on: August 27, 2017, 06:28:21 AM »
I've come to notice over the course of these past few weeks that the forum has a rather strange system for poll editing. For example, I can only change a poll from single vote to multiple vote only if I opened the poll initially at the start of a thread, and the same goes for changing one's vote as well. They all only apply at the initial poll creation. But not the vote reset option, which is a bit of a conundrum...  :-\

If it's possible to have the system changed so that the OP can freely edit the polls to whatever style they like, that'd be of great service  :thumbsup:

4
Manga Writer workshop / Writers Novel Workshop 2.0
« on: August 25, 2017, 06:30:07 PM »
WRITERS NOVEL WORKSHOP 2.0

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ySojyJNeZbY&amp;loop=1&amp;hd=1&amp;playlist=ySojyJNeZbY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ySojyJNeZbY&amp;loop=1&amp;hd=1&amp;playlist=ySojyJNeZbY</a>

With the end of a chapter, a new one arises. Welcome to the Writers Novel Workshop 2.0, a new iteration of the previous Writers Novel Marathon Workshop! A newborn Phoenix, arising from the ashes of its old self, the Writers Novel Workshop will continue where its predecessor has left off, a greater force than before!

Unlike the previous workshop, there will be a much greater emphasis on free-form and self-improvement. What you choose to contribute to this workshop is what you choose to improve and dedicate to yourself. You yourself hold the power to give life to the story you wish, and the will to make that story flourish. The question is...

Will You?

The setup will follow a much looser format: anyone is free to join and leave at anytime, and it is up to the participants themselves to update and review stories. Every Sunday, a Community Vote will be held every week for those who wishes to post their stories. However, to prevent people from spontaneously posting stories and abruptly leaving, you are required to review At Least One story before you will be included in the vote. The Workshop Directors will oversee that you are following these rules accordingly.

When reviewing, we will still be using the same format from the original workshop, as provided below:


To re-iterate the points...

1. Give good feedback.
Take notes on what you liked and didn't like. Don't just write down a list, explain why you liked or disliked such-and-such. "I like this character. They work hard to... and I really like to see where they go from there." "I didn't like this character. He seems petty and self-centered." That is good feedback.

2. Be specific
It goes without saying, if you don't say what's good or bad about something, the author won't know what needs to be done. Try to work details in your review.

3. Be descriptive, not proscriptive!
Everything having been said, remember you are giving feedback. You are not telling them how to write their stories. You should not be saying "You should be doing this!" "This is how you... etc." It is the author's own job to see if the reaction you give is the reaction they want out of their writing. Saying "I was bored in this part" is actually more useful than telling them "You should make this more exciting." Sometimes the author wants you to be bored there!  :D Telling them how something should be written destroys the message the author is attempting to convey, and instead panders to what you would write in their place. Try to understand what the author is getting at, and see whether the writing is doing the job it's supposed to. :ninja: Just no dictating.

4. Ignore the small stuff
If the first thing in your review is something along the lines of "You misspelled 'such-and-such'" or "You use 'such-and-such' too much," that's not very helpful. You should be leading with the big things. Plot, characters, setting. Talk about those in details, and perhaps at the end of the review you can mention it, but always lead with the big things first. Only talk about prose if it becomes a big issue, as in it's so atrocious you have a hard time understanding what in the world the author's saying. I assume we all know how to speak decent English, so hopefully that won't be too much of an issue  :sure: Remember, most of the writing in the Workshop will be ROUGH. That's fine. It'll be revised and edited down the line, so focus on the more pressing issues at hand.

As for keeping track of your own stories, I suggest drafting a portfolio for yourself. Again, that too will be dragged from the old workshop.

Operative13 Portfolio
Story: The Coming Storm
Genre: Steampunk Historical Military Fantasy

Synopsis: Seven years ago, a terrible war was waged in the Geioic Seas that left the once-prosperous island nation of Mariana in ruins. Although they left the war as victors against their Elsian invaders, the scars of battle has yet to heal the people's hearts and minds. Now, invigorated by a charismatic and staunch leader, Mariana has turned from a quiet, isolated republic, into an authoritarian military-state. With war brewing in the air once again, it seems the peaceful life that Allen Touler knew will come crashing down on him once more.


Generally follow the format above when posting your portfolio in the workshop and if you do it right, you'll see yourself in the OP with a link to your portfolio and your story included in the weekly Community Vote on Sunday. If not, do PM me or one of the Directors about the issue. You can review either the example story above or one of the other members' stories.

Remember, this is open format. The workshop only lives so long as its members contribute regularly to it. I will not be around to keep things going on my own, so it is up to you, the MangaRaiders Community, to breathe life into it. Special Events will be planned and announced accordingly by my Directors.

Well? What are you waiting for? Sign up today, and let your story shine to the world!  :D

Overseer
Operative13

Directors

GreenBeverage - Communications Director
Krurisuchristina - General Director
shishi02 - Information Director



Brandon Sanderson 2012
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 1
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 4
Sympathetic Characters Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THUaAYjWI-0
Sympathetic Characters Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oByceU_ngkg
Show Us the Character (Don't Tell Us): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3eAl5fZGZs
Giving Characters a Life Beyond the Plot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=athC7ythDeo
Character Creation Examples Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGzsQEkEPpU
Character Creation Examples Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBVO0D0qg7Y
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 5
Guest Lecture by Eric James Stone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEQ-Iijn66A
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 6
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 8
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 9
Misc Questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SmCSBB0zp8
Thinking of Setting as a Character: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlYt3zdw4Xg
World Building Geography Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_cQfhgA89I
World Building Geography Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuwtM9fKhsg
Creating Interesting Nations & Towns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4PLMVB59-I
Sanderson's First Law of Magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwb7b9Ks0VE
Sanderson's Second Law of Magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reRABTRURfc
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 10
Misc Questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bkFLaTxs90
Dialogue Mechanics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWdE1J2U7A8
Replacing Adjectives and Passive Voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9pWibqwP-o
Orwellian Prose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh5_2jqlRFQ
Intro to Modern Self Publishing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL7XDrTyrgg
Mechanics of Self Publishing Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhAqOzz7wc8
Business Models For Self Publishing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljj3ZQanFmw
Some Final Thoughts on Self Publishing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU4-pBQt86g
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 11
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 12
Brandon Sanderson Lecture 13


Special Events

5
Develop Your Story / The Coming Storm
« on: August 01, 2017, 10:50:39 AM »
Total Word Count: 20,807

Synopsis: Seven years ago, a terrible war was waged in the Geioic Seas that left the once-prosperous island nation of Mariana in ruins. Although they left the war as victors against their Elsian invaders, the scars of battle has yet to heal the people's hearts and minds. Now, invigorated by a charismatic and staunch leader, Mariana has turned from a quiet, isolated republic, into an authoritarian military-state. With war brewing in the air once again, it seems the peaceful life that Allen Touler knew will come crashing down on him once more.

Prologue (Radio Interview)
A crackle. A wisp. A knob turned slowly, emitting a slight buzzing sound as static and choppy words broke through the machine, until the clear voice of a young woman spoke across.

“Governor Oliver, I understand it has been a rough and challenging race so far, and that we are only a few days away from Election Day...”

“Indeed it has,” a mild, husky voice replied.

“...and that you are in a close lead against the incumbent President Hartford.”

“He has been quite a pain, I’ll give him that!”

The crowd broke into chuckles.

“If he wasn’t so good, I wouldn’t have put forth the effort to do so much campaigning!” the man continued. “Most others I’ve ran against during the Governor's Elections lost outright to me! But that’s not fair for me to say that. They were fighting outside of their weight class to start with.”

Again, the crowd laughed, bellowing into the microphones as they did.

“You two have been quite friendly with each other during this race, despite the obvious differences in ideas,” said the woman. “You are well known to be a vocal opponent of President Hartford and his policies, at one time calling him, and I quote, ‘Weak, Misguided, and Indecisive.’ What are your thoughts on your opponent, Governor?”

“Lily, let me set the record straight here: I do not hate President Hartford. Personally, at least. I’ve known him back before he became the Vice President, and yes, I still hold some inkling of jealousy then too...”

Another bout of laughter.

“...but understand that what I say has nothing to do with the man personally. His personality is the least of my problems. What I do have problems with are his policies, and it is those policies that I must call him out for: Weak, Misguided, and Indecisive.”

A round of applause filled the air, drowning out the words of the speakers.

“You were once a member of the Nationalist Party, Governor, before you broke off to become part of the Patriot Party,” the woman continued.

“That is correct,” Oliver said.

“What was the decision behind this breakoff? What did you believe was the turning point, when you chose to leave the Nationalists?”

“Well, if I had to recall... it had to be shortly after... Hartford’s swearing in as President.”

A moment of silence washed over.

“Hartford... was never the kind of man to take charge. To my experience, that is the case. He’s more comfortable standing in Second, giving advice and letting others go first, quietly observing everything around him. While I never entirely agreed with President Willver during his time, President Willver knew what he was doing. In two years, President Willver has managed to save this country from utter ruin, and even after his death, he still managed to save us from that terrible war. But when it was Hartford’s turn... it was nothing but dread. Every waking day, we had to debate with him over the most obvious of things. Hartford was comfortable not taking the blame for anything that happened when Willver was around. After all... he wasn’t the one making the final decision. However, the moment he needed to take charge, he froze. He froze, and because of that, countless lives were needlessly lost. Sure, he does well in peacetime. Sure, our economy is thriving as it stands. But if it not were for Kondor, we would all be Elsians by now. It was not Hartford that saved us from the Elsians...!”

The crowd erupted into standing ovation, their mighty cheers crackling the radio speaker.

“...it was Kondor! The only friend in this world we can truly depend on!”

Deafening was the roar of the crowd, not a single break to be heard.

“Governor...” the woman interrupted.

The applause slowly faded out.

“...if I may, continuing on your line of thought, you mention a lot during the campaign the threat of war breaking out again and the ‘Need to be Prepared.’ Can you elaborate on this and why this seems to be a central issue in this day and age?”

“Of course.”

The Governor cleared his throat and paused for a brief moment, collecting his thoughts, rearranging his words, until his vision became clear.

“We all know of the tragedy that is the Geioic War. We all know the cost we had to pay. The suffering we endured, and the agony we felt... losing our homes, our friends, our families... Many of us have felt that personally, myself included. We all know how War is. Terrible. Our enemy was more than happy to oblige our suffering, showing little mercy for our own. The Nationalists believed that if we left everyone alone and minded our own business, everything would be fine. We could quietly sit by ourselves, in our corner of the world, and not care about anything but us. But that’s not how Reality works. There are people out there who will hurt you. There are people out there who will enslave you. There are people, who by no fault of your own, will do to you the most unspeakable of crimes, and you, who have stayed ignorant of the world, lay powerless to stop it. I say, enough of this ignorance. Enough of this passive isolationism. We cannot stand by and let the world pass us by, while we craddle ourselves in our little corner, daddling in our fancy toys and gimmicks! We may think we are safe when we do nothing to others, but little do we know, there are those who gaze upon us with eyes of envy! They look upon us and see nothing more but a weak, pathetic nation who can do nothing but cry for help whenever trouble arrives! And once they come, seeking to steal our beloved country, we cry... and no one comes to help. This was precisely the mentality that almost lost us the war, precisely the mentality that made us bury our loved ones, and precisely the mentality the Nationalists has promoted to this very day! We were that child in the Geioic War, and I’ll be damned if we do not learn that lesson now! It is time for Mariana to grow up, and learn to take action ourselves!”

The crowd exploded, their cries and applause greater than ever, lasting far as the woman ushered the crowd to a steady ease.

“Governor Oliver, your opponent has criticized you on what he calls ‘Dangerous and Irresponsible’ proposals. I quote from a speech earlier this week... ‘I do not believe beyond a shred of a doubt that Governor Oliver will lead us down a path of destruction if given the opportunity. He has no regard for fair and due process of the law, and lacks the empathy or level-headedness to deal with others in this shrinking world of ours. It has never been our policy to assert our demands through force. That is not who we are, and never shall be. In a world full of hate and violence, more violence is not the answer. We must learn to accept the past and foster forgiveness and understanding between our former enemies so that we may never hope to repeat the same mistakes again.’ One of the major issues you’ve campaigned on regards the Treaty of 1897. You have often lambasted Hartford for failing to enforce the terms set by the Treaty, citing Saint Else’s recent failure to cover their due this year.”

“Rightfully so,” he added.

“What would you do in regards to Saint Else, then?”

“Make them pay. By force if necessary.”

“Don’t you fear that by sending troops to Saint Else, you could be instigating another war?”

“If anyone is instigating war, it would be the Elsians. We are simply enforcing the terms set by the Treaty, and nothing more. Is it not too much to ask? We have to be firm and uncompromising with these people. To protect our sovereignty! We cannot allow ourselves to be seen as yet another victim of war! Have you any sense to what our predicament is? In this day and age? Czirza is already mobilizing their armed forces, just over the horizon! Kondor is too occupied with Dunmar and Sardania as it is. And Saint Else, our bitter foe, just so happens to have gone broke?”

“If I can interrupt...” the woman gestured. “...Czirza is in the midst of a civil war at the moment, and it has been verified by numerous sources that Saint Else did file for bankruptcy at the start of this year. It seems highly unlikely that Mariana is under any threat right now.”

“Right now. But what about four, five, ten years down the line? Are we simply going to Wait for something to happen? It takes time. Time and energy, to make our nation stronger. Can we truly expect our military to defend ourselves against a great threat, standing as it is now? Can we truly expect our ally to come to our aid at a moment’s notice, even as they have more pressing matters as of late? To me the answer is clear. We cannot. No one can reasonably assure that nothing will happen in the near future! No one! We must come to terms with this Reality if we are to survive this new world. We must. Take. Action.”

Part 1 (A Small Visit)
The brisk, clear waves crashed onto the jutted rocks of the beach. The seagulls squawked in the air, flying just above the white fishing boats coming back from sea, eyeing the great catch. The sky shone a brilliant blue with the sun’s radiant rays shining above the town, not a single cloud in sight. The wind blew gently onto the land, the grass bending to its caress, then back again as the waves roll back.

From a little distance behind the beach stood a small, peach wooden house. Old, chipped, and dirty, bits of sand had found their way onto the window sills, covering the panels with a layer of fine yellow dust. A clear circle had been wiped from this window. Behind the window, an old, ragged face with a dark tan and gray crewcut stared out into the street, a grumbled frown drooping down his chin. He watched the heat-hazed street with a stubborn eye, the radio buzzing off in the background.

“...President Oliver has to vowed to take whatever measures to ensure the terms of the Treaty of 1897 are enforced to its fullest, even as Saint Else is reeling from an economic recession that has devastated its trade and mining sectors. Suffering from a shortage of basic necessities, Saint Else has pressed Mariana to retract the sanctions levied against them, however the President...”

A bicycle came riding from a distance at the far end of the street. Trudging up the small slope before veering swiftly down the hill, the young man rode his bicycle all the way through the neighborhood, until he grinded to a steady halt in front of the peach house, the rusty brakes squeaking as it did. The old man watched from his window the young man, dressed in a fine azure tunic, unload the large basket from the back of his bicycle, his rifle swinging haphazardly behind his back. A ravenous growl grew at the door, then a squeaking bark.

The old man looked over to see his short, stubby terrier yelling at the front door.

“Hush, Shelby!” the man snapped. The little dog quieted, her tail wagging excitedly as she sat upon the door’s rug.

The man looked back to see the young man approaching the house, his long fallow-coloured boots treading across the barren front lawn. Letting out an irritated sigh, the old man reached for his crutch and trotted towards the door.

The young man set aside the basket on the front porch and took a deep, solemn breath. He straightened his uniform, patting it down for any bits of dust he gathered along the way, and pushed down on the slightly-curved garrison cap he wore.

With the rifle resting easily behind his back, the young man muttered.

“Okay...”

Before he could reach out and knock, the door creaked open. The terrier suddenly came scampering out from under the old man’s legs and headed straight for the basket.

“No, Shelby, no!” The young man cried, reaching out to stop the energetic dog, only to have the rifle clumsily slide down his back. He reached back to keep the rifle from falling off, but by then the dog had already begun to bury her head into the basket.

“H-Hey Uncle Jeff...” the young man greeted, an uneasy smile on his face.

The old man beamed at the kneeling man before him, the dog now digging her face into whatever food was in the basket. A moment passed before he let open the door and stepped aside.

“You gonna sit there all day or you gonna come in?”

“R-Right!” The young man bumbled. He picked up the basket as he stood back up and hustled his rifle back comfortably atop his shoulder. Shelby whined as her snack was robbed before her, jumping obsessively onto the young man’s boots, her head geared toward the basket as they all went inside.

The interior laid just as dreary and worn-down as the outside, with little, if any, care done to tidy the place up. The green wallpaper stayed torn in some areas of the house, wilting down into the dusty, creaking wooden boards. A large family couch sat to the side of the living room, stuffed with an assortment of boxes and empty beer bottles, and the kitchen, just off to the left where the cloudy window panes were, had loads of unwashed dishes sitting in the tray. The glass cupboards were practically empty, save for one or two cups and plates, and the sink itself was grimy and spotted.

Uncle Jeff limped his way across the living room and toward a maroon reclining sofa chair facing the doorway. He leaned the crutch onto the sofa’s armrest, and with a hefty grunt, the old man tilted the sofa backwards, springing up the stiff legrests.

“You want me to grab you a seat? The couch is a bit occupied...” Jeff asked.

“No, no. That’s fine,” the young man assured. “Uh...” He lifted the straw basket. “...where should I...?”

“Just put it on the kitchen counter. I’ll handle it later,” Uncle Jeff answered.

The young man walked over and set the basket upon the open counter. With the refridgerator nearby, the young man glanced behind the shoulder at his uncle, leaning back with his legs perched upon their rests in the living room. Carefully, he pulled the refrigerator handle open and peered inside to find that it was empty. Empty except for a case of beer at the bottom shelf. He sighed and slowly closed it shut. The young man gazed around this desolate house. The floors were piling with dirt and dust, the walls were falling apart, and bottles of empty beer laid all around the place. The young man worried for his uncle, for he knew no other was willing to look after such a wreck of a man.

Shelby nudged the neck of his boot, her tail wagging, tongue drooping down, panting and eyeing him with great enthusiasm. Deciding she had waited long enough, the young man shuffled through the basket and picked out a small slice of ham.

“Shelby, sit,” he ordered.

The dog stopped and immediately tucked her hind legs. After a brief moment, he handed the slice of ham, which she gladly took hold off and gnawed on.

“Good girl,” the young man said.

He glanced back again at his uncle, who seemed to had already dozed off in his chair. As Shelby chomped down on the meaty slice, the young man could hear the buzz of a radio in the background. The sound of metallic voices echoing from the speakers were unmistakable. He crept into the hallways where the sound reverberated from, his heavy boots creaking the rickety floorboards beneath, until he found the large radio set perched atop a heavy auburn table. A mild, husky voice spoke through. An unmistakable voice.

“...We must be Firm! We must be Strict! Not a single inch shall be given to the Elsians until they understand that they cannot cheat or weasel their way out of the terms of the Treaty! We Marianans are honest people. We stick to our words, and by no means do we intend to go back on any of it! We agreed to the terms of the Treaty just as the Elsians did, and we will uphold our end of the Treaty, through any means necessary...!”

“That the President?” a deep, gruff voice from behind said.

The young man turned around to see Uncle Jeff standing with his crutch.

“Yeah,” the young man replied. “Looks like another speech.”

The two stood there at the radio, quietly listening to the President’s vigorous voice. For what seemed like ages, the only noise that filled the house was that of the President, blasting away at the Elsians and reiterating the need for Mariana to become strong and unyielding. It was not uncommon for President Oliver to work his campaign promises into his speeches, even if at times it sounded more like a broken record than a genuine oration. Yet despite how broken his speeches may sound, President Oliver’s ideas were not just mere speculation and idealism: It was becoming Reality.

“He’s right, you know?” Uncle Jeff suddenly said. “Those Elsians don’t care for anything else. You give ‘em an inch, they’ll take a mile! Heck, maybe an island or two if they felt like it...”

“They say the Elsians are gearing for war again,” mentioned the young man.

The old man scoffed. “I bet they are. No reason for the King to just shut up and act all goody-goody two-shoes after losing a war. He’d want to get back at us, one way or another.”

Uncle Jeff started waddling back to the kitchen.

“You’re not gonna grab another beer bottle, are you Uncle?”

“Don’t worry...” Jeff groaned. “...I’m not gonna get wasted on you.”

The young man glared at him intently, clearly not believing his words.

“Really! God’s sake, kid... I’m just gonna grab a sandwich from your basket.”

The young man sighed as his uncle trodden off into the kitchen.

“And for the last time! I’m not your Uncle!” Jeff hollered.

The young man continued to listen in on the radio, his mind tuned and focused to the words of the President, digesting and conceiving every bite of sound that left the radio. That was until he noticed the large warship rolling into the harbour just outside the house.

The young man’s eyes widened. Just through the back window, overlooking the beach, a massive warship steamed into the harbour, the black pillars of smoke billowing out from its towering smokestacks. Three large turrets, each with twin guns, sat upon its large deck. An array of much smaller anti-aircraft guns of varying caliber lined the sides of the ship, all the way from one end to the other.

The young man approached the back door and unbolted the lock, swinging the rather loose doorframe out. Immediately, the rich, humid air of the beach swept over him. He could feel his closed-neck collar tighten around him, his uniform becoming noticeably more irritating. Outside, the entire harbour bay lied in view. And with it, the warship. Two white chairs stood at the back porch, one of which the young man grabbed and seated himself in. He watched as the warship rolled into the open harbour, the sailors walking briskly across its decks as the warship turned to face the docks before it.

“Sandwich?”

The young man peered over his shoulder to see Jeff offering a cut of ham sandwich.

“Thanks,” the young man said, taking hold of the sandwich.

Jeff grunted back and slumped down himself down on the other chair before taking a large bite out of his own piece. The two casually watched the warship go by, the cool breeze flowing past them and through the house, until the warship finally anchored at one of the docks ahead.

“Everyday, I see more and more of those ships come into the docks,” Uncle Jeff told. “All brand-spanking new. We certainly didn’t built them ourselves...”

The young man quietly listened, chowing away at his ham sandwich.

“...those are foreign. Bought straight from Kondor. The shape, the size, the architecture... very different from our own. Ten years ago, I couldn’t even imagine our country owning even a single one of those beasts.”

Still, the young man sat silent, eating his sandwich.

“You’re not much of a ship guy, are ya?”

The young man swallowed before he spoke. “I’m in the Citizens Militia, not the Navy. How am I supposed to know anything about ships?”

Jeff gave a heavy sigh. “You’re a Marianan, kid. Everyone should know about sailing. You live on an island your whole life and you tell me you don’t know anything about that?”

“It’s not that I don’t know anything about sailing, I just don’t know about warships in general. It’s not my job to learn about them. That’s the Navy’s job.”

The old man scoffed. “Youth Club for the Army’s more like it...”

They both sat in silence, eating their sandwiches and watching the ships go by, and for a long time said nothing. For a brief moment, they sat. Staring out into the sea, gazing upon the scenery around them, until at last one spoke up.

“They’re saying a war’s coming soon,” the young man said. “Things might get ugly in the next few weeks if nothing is done.”

Uncle Jeff took another bite into his sandwich.

“On the chance...” the young man continued. “...on the chance that I get deployed, I won’t be around to take care of you like I’m doing now.”

Jeff sat. Gnawing on the sandwich bit.

“Do you think... you can take care of yourself while I’m gone? Get yourself cleaned up and maybe start fresh somewhere?”

Jeff swished the sandwich one last time before gulping it down.

“Allen, if this is your mother speaking, tell her I don’t need her pity,” he shot. “I’ve already had a long life of people telling me what to do. I don’t need it from her too.”

“I’m serious,” Allen retorted. “No one else is taking care of you like I am. Mom’s given up on you a long time ago, my sister doesn’t even want to step foot in this house, and my Dad...”

“I get it, kid,” Jeff answered. “I can take care of myself.”

“Can you though?”

Jeff sighed once more. He reached with his crutch and tapped the knee of his right leg. A hard thud.

“You remember how I got this leg?”

Allen stood silent.

“Just like you, I was a soldier. It was the first day of the Geioic War. Now, you’d think that on the first day, I’d get to see some action and... be a hero or something, right? No, instead I get hit by a shell from one of their ships. Very first day. The blast threw me into the air and tore off one of my legs. It’s a miracle I even lived through that. But right then and there, the war was over for me. And I didn’t even get to fire a single bullet. All throughout the war, the only thing I could do was sit and watch. And the only thing I had to show for it was a Golden Heart. A freakin’ heart...”

Jeff leaned in toward Allen, his chair just barely tilting over.

“Don’t be that guy, kid.”

He leaned back in and took a hefty bite of his sandwich, his eyes cocked toward the green soldier.

“Take care of yourself first,” Jeff continued. “I can live with myself just fine...”

Shelby had snuck herself in beside the old man, her mouth watering as she lied beside the chair, watching Jeff’s sandwich. Just before Jeff put the last piece of sandwich in his mouth, he caught her envious glimpse and stopped right there. Smiling, he tossed the bit down to Shelby, to which she happily gulped down. Jeff reached down and playfully rubbed the back of Shelby’s ears as he continued to watch the wide open sea.

“I sure hope so...” Allen said.

“...Uncle.”

Part 2 (Family Dinner)
“How’s the pasta?” the father said to his daughter, twirling another steamy roll of pasta before lifting the silver fork up.

“It’s good,” the little girl said, brushing away her long, dark hair. She had tied it into a pair of short twin-tails at the back, lightly dangling behind her back against the soft, green chair.

“I think you’ve outdone yourself this time,” mentioned his wife sitting beside him, playfully snapping another bite. The two adults meekly laughed as the girl rolled her eyes in anguish.

“I went to Lander’s Market today. Cheese imported straight from Selva! And the shrimp I got from the local fisheries, fresh and sweet.”

“Lander’s?” the wife asked. “That place is expensive...”

“Ah, it’s fine!” Her husband assured. “Every once in awhile, we could use a treat like this.”

“When is Allen coming home?” The girl asked.

“He’ll be back soon,” the girl’s mother replied. “He’s at Uncle Jeff’s place right now, but he told us to get started without him.”

The girl brooded, lips pouting and sinking down into her chair.

“What’s the matter, sweetie?” the mother asked.

“Why does he always have to go to Uncle Jeff’s house? Why can’t he just stay home for once?” The girl replied.

“If you really want to see him, you can always visit...”

“No. I hate that place,” she shot. “It stinks. And it’s filthy everywhere.”

“Well, what else can we do?” Her father said. “Your brother wants to visit your uncle. Let him do so.”

“I don’t understand what he finds in him,” the girl bemoaned. “All he does is sit around on his couch all day.”

“Well, if he wants to go to Uncle Jeff’s house, that’s up to him,” the father said.

“Yeah, but...” The girl sighed. “...he’s been doing it for ages. And now when he’s out on duty, he doesn’t even come to our house anymore. He just stays cooped up in that drunk man’s house all day.”

The two parents stopped.

“Marlene, we’ve talked about this,” the mother sternly said.

“What’s wrong with me saying that? You two talk about him like that and you don’t have a problem.”

“Dear, we only talk about his problem because we’re concerned for your Uncle,” the father explained. “It’s not appropriate to put labels on people.”

“But still, why can’t I say...”

A sharp stare from the two of them.

Marlene exhaled. “I guess...”

“Come on. Eat your food,” her father gestured. “Have you tried the potato soup yet? It’s really good.”

A knock on the door. Three taps.

“That must be Allen,” the mother said.

“I got it,” Marlene raised.

She wiped her lips and dropped the white cloth napkin onto the table before ushering to the door. With a mild push, the door swung open, and behind stood a young soldier in an azure tunic, chestnut hair and bright eyes smiling down on her.

“I’m back,” Allen greeted.

“Oh, finally...” Marlene sighed in relief. “I swear, any longer and Mom and Dad will start flirting with each other.”

Allen stepped inside, his boots pounding the solid floorboard. A quick whiff, and a strong aroma of creamy cheese and simmering shrimp came sauntering through his senses.

“What’s for dinner?” He asked, setting aside his rifle.

“Some Selvan pasta, potato soup, homemade salad, and toast! All made by yours truly,” his father listed.

“Looks amazing...” Allen replied, his feet drifting to his seat.

“Allen,” his mother mentioned, pointing at Allen’s boots.

“Ah, right!”

Quickly tugging off his large boots and tossing them into the corner, Allen and Marlene headed back to the loin-cloth table and proceeded to dig in.

“Help yourself,” Dad said. “While it’s still warm.”

Allen rubbed his hands together and grabbed hold of the large dish of pasta at the center of the table. With a plate before him, Allen combed through the dish with his fork, emptying just the right amount onto his plate before setting the dish back.

“So how was your visit?” Mom asked.

“Nothing much,” Allen said, chucking a fork of dripping pasta into his mouth. “We just sat around and talked most of the day. I actually went to grab groceries for him a bit later. His fridge was completely empty.”

A worried look slipped her gaze.

“I hope he’s taking care of himself well...”

“I talked with him about that, actually,” Allen pointed out. “He’s says he’s okay.”

“He says a lot of things, Allen.” Mom’s tone softened.

“No, no, he gets it,” Allen waved. “I’m in the Militia now, so I don’t have the time to take care of him like I used to. New responsibilities.”

“I can see that’s done you well,” Dad mentioned.

“I’m supposed to go back to Fort Kressel tomorrow. The Sergeant’s been saying they got some new gear back at the Armoury, and they want everyone to get up to speed with it as soon as possible.”

“Tomorrow’s a Sunday, isn’t it?” Mom worried. “You won’t miss Church, would you?”

“Don’t worry. The training doesn’t start until afternoon. We’ll have plenty of time to go to Church together.”

“That’s good to hear...” Mom said, a breath of relief. “Hear that Marlene? You can spend a little more time with your Big Brother now.” She grinned with a playful cheeriness.

“W-What?” Marlene asked, a bit flustered.

“Oh? Did you miss me that much?” Allen said, sharing the same silly grin. “I’ve only been been gone for six months, you know?”

Marlene punched the side of Allen’s flimsy arm.

“Ow! What’d you do that for!?” He exclaimed.

“Don’t be silly, you doofus,” Marlene scoffed.

“Hey now, be nice you two,” reminded Dad.

“Sorry, Dad...” the two siblings said in unison.

Everyone sat around the small hanging light, illuminating the modest square table that encompassed the whole dining area. The cool, salty air floated through the open windows nearby, gently tugging at the blank, silk curtains, swaying to-and-fro, as the family’s peaceful, loving talks and laughter filled the air, the sweet scent of gentle cream and cheese swirling around the table until the last meal had finally vanished. The plates were set, the table wiped and the crumbs swept, until the lights turned and all life dissipated into the dark silence of the night, in this small, quaint house of theirs.

Part 3 (Late-Night Invitation)
Quick taps on the door. Three of them.

“Who is it?” Allen called out, unbuttoning his stiff tunic. He had just begun settling in for the night, tired as he was from the long day running between the town and his uncle’s house. The lamp light mellowed in the corner, illuminating the navy-blue walls around, and the empty darkness open from the window to his bedroom’s side. It was already midnight, and the town stood in stark silence outside, with only the whispers of the sea breeze calling nearby.

“It’s me,” a soft, tender voice replied. Marlene.

Allen marched over to the door and turned the knob. His lofty figure towered over the delicate young girl as her eyes ran upwards to his.

“What’s up?” Allen plainly asked, leaning against the doorway.

“I...” she began, but seemed to have lost her thought upon staring at her big brother, his plain-white undershirt visible behind the unbuttoned tunic.

Puzzled, Allen pressed. “Do you wanna come in?”

Marlene nodded.

“Alright,” he replied. He stepped to the side, giving Marlene room to pass through the door. As Allen closed the door behind her, Marlene circled her eyes all across the plain, featureless room. Nothing more but Allen’s study desk, his heavy steel chest in front of the old bed, and his bookcase sitting across it. She patted the bed covers and seated herself comfortably at its side, straightening her dress as she did so, while Allen took off his tunic and wrapped it behind his chair, revealing his arms’ tender muscles. The military’s strict training regime tends to do that to people.

Allen turned and stood faced towards Marlene, hands on his hips.

“So? What was it you wanted to say?”

“I...” Marlene began again, before taking a deep breathe. “When will you be off again?”

The question struck Allen unexpectedly. He never considered how long he had been away from his family all this time, and now that Marlene had brought it to the forefront, it dawned on him that he too did not know the answer to that.

“I wouldn’t know,” he shrugged. “Could be next week. Could be a month from now. I’d have to check with the Quartermaster for that. Why?”

Marlene hesitated, a strained look on her face.

“There’s nothing serious going on, is there?” Allen asked.

“No, no...” Marlene shook. “...it’s not that. It’s just...” She stopped for a brief moment before mustering her lungs. “...do you think you can go sailing with me next week?”

Allen raised a brow.

“Sailing?”

“Yeah...” she said. “Just like before.”

“I’m not that good with sailing you know,” Allen pointed out.

“I know that. I just think we could... do something together.”

Allen sighed and gazed up into the ceiling with thought.

“Maybe I could,” he answered.

“So, is that a yes?” she asked.

“It’s a maybe,” Allen reaffirmed. “The Militia has weird scheduling. Some days, I could be off, and others I could be out. All depends on what’s happening around the islands.”

“Don’t make me regret asking you...” Marlene pouted.

Allen exhaled a deep breath. “Fine...” he conceded. “I’ll see if they can make an exception for me next week.”

“Next week, then?” she asked, once more.

“Next week...” he replied once again.

“Okay,” Marlene said, before nonchalantly getting off Allen’s bed and heading back to the doorway.

“That’s it?” Allen questioned, perturbed by Marlene’s sudden exit.

“That’s it,” Marlene repeated. “I just wanted to ask about the sailing is all.”

“Oh...” Allen muttered. “Well, if that’s all you wanted.” He walked over to his bedside and seated himself in the same spot Marlene had occupied, before lifting one of his foot and tugging at the long, brown sock he wore.

Marlene reached out for the doorknob, but stopped and raised her eyes back to her brother, still undressing his sweaty uniform. Beside him, the rifle he carried, leaning against the table. Allen must’ve caught her gaze, because he looked up and asked. “What?”

“Why’d you have to join the Army?” she said.

“I told you already, didn’t I?” Allen replied, tugging at the other sock.

“Why though?” she repeated. “All you do is march around up and down the streets with that gun of yours every day and stay cooped up in that awful fort.”

“As long as it pays for my tuition, I couldn’t care less.”

“You could pay for your tuition elsewhere!” Marlene shot. “Help Mom and Dad out with their business, find work in the city, I don’t know! Instead you just up and convinced them to let you join the Army.”

“Why is it any of your business what I choose to do?” he retorted. “I don’t go telling you what you should do. Besides, it’s easy money. I enjoy it.”

“It’s the Military, Allen,” she sternly said. “You risk your life just to get a paycheck. It isn’t something you should be doing.”

“I’m in the Militia. I’m not going crazy joining the Marines or Territorials. If anything happens, then I stay on the islands here with you. Isn’t that what you want?”

“That’s not the point...”

“Then what is? I don’t know why this is such an issue,” he insisted.

“It’s Jeff, isn’t it?” Marlene said, cross-armed

“What?”

“He put you up to this.”

“Where in the---, no he did not. What does he have to do with this?”

“All you ever do is go to that crooked man’s house. You never spend any time with me!”

“I’m spending time with you next weekend, aren’t I?

“No! I mean---!,” Marlene stuttered. She tossed and groaned in frustration. “Why is it impossible for me to get it through to you!? I care about you, Allen! You and your obsessions are hurting you. It’s been hurting me for a long time. Don’t think I won’t tell Mom and Dad you have no intentions of going out to college.”

“You’re just being silly now,” Allen waved.

“Am I?” Marlene beamed. “Everyone’s talking about war again, Allen. This isn’t a game.”

“I know.”

“You remember how scary it was back then?”

“I do.”

“Then you know how I feel about all this.”

“I do,” Allen said once more. “That’s why I’ve been very careful.” He stood up and stepped towards Marlene, reaching out with both arms and placing his hands upon her shoulders.

“Listen... I may have my own interests, my own way of doing things... some of those things you may not approve of. But know that whatever happens, I would never do anything to upset you. I care about all of you the same. That’s part of the reason why I joined. So that if anything ever happens us, I can be there for you.”

Marlene grumbled, her head cocked away from his shimmering eyes, still unconvinced of Allen’s words. “Still...”

“Tell you what. How about we go out together from now on? Whenever I come on break, we can take a trip downtown or go sailing again. Whatever you want.”

“Really?” Her eyes lit up.

“That’s a promise,” Allen smiled.

The two embraced, her small head buried deep within his chest for a brief moment.

“You smell, you know that?” Marlene said.

“It’s what you get for not letting me change,” Allen replied. A slight recollection of his thoughts suddenly turned his face red. “Geez, I sounded like I was asking you out or something just there...”

“Well, actually...” Marlene raised. “...there’s something I probably should’ve told you about.”

Part 4 (Troubling Reports)
“Thank you, Manter,” Prince Arlent nodded.

His servant bowed, and closed the huge, engraved wooden doors before him. The young prince turned and presented himself to the staunch, gray-haired general behind.

“Christ...” Arlent cursed. “What is my father doing? If nothing is done soon, that madman will have no qualms sending the whole armada down our shores.”

“Kondor has yet to issue a statement of support for Mariana’s threat of occupation,” General Kinston mentioned. “They’d be hard-pressed to continue any further if their invasion fails.”

“Kondor is already sending them arms and armour,” Arlent remarked. “I’d say that’s more than a statement of support...”

“The International Community will not stand for an invasion of our islands. Even if it is part of the Treaty agreements. That is why we sued for peace, Your Highness.”

“They’ll wring their hands, then what? Wring it again once they seize our home? All of our allies withdrew their support after the war. They bear no investment into our lands as they once did. One is in the midst of a civil war! Another is in bed with our former enemy! The rest have merely abandoned their prospects and taken their business elsewhere. I’d say everyone would be more than happy if Mariana took our lands this instant. One less competitor for them to deal with...”

“We still possess the majority of our Iron Fortresses, Your Highness,” Kinston noted. “So long as they remain standing, Mariana cannot truly hope to break through to our capital. A siege won’t work: the fortresses are equipped to last through years without supply. And the fortifications are strong enough to endure any prolonged bombardments. They’ll be forced to undergo shore landings, and in the process drain their numbers. Sooner or later, Kondor will have to step in if Mariana hopes to claim victory against us, and that act alone is enough to provoke the others to action.”

“How can you be certain?” Arlent inquired. “President Oliver has made it very clear he has no intentions of backing down from this. We have two weeks. Two weeks, General. Before he carries out his threat. Boasting the kind of confidence he has, I’m willing to suggest he has other means of circumventing our defenses.”

“At the moment, we have no means of knowing,” Kinston said. “Our spies have reported an accelerated amount of military ships and equipment entering their docks, nothing unexpected... but as to any plans outside of shore landings, we cannot know for certain.”

“How is the progress on our war preparations?”

“We’re ramping up arms and ship production as it stands. That... has provoked anger in Mariana for our Treaty violations, but that is to be expected. We won’t be able to arm everyone before the war starts, but if we manage to stall them for a few more months, we should be ready for a counter-offensive if needed.”

“Good. What about manpower? Do we have the reserves?”

“A quarter-million, ready at our disposal, and a half-million on standby.”

“Is that sufficient?”

“For the time being,” Kinston humbly replied. “However, I suggest we move to recruit outsiders to our cause.”

“Mercenaries?”

“Their experience can be invaluable to our war effort, keeping us informed of the latest in tactics and weaponry. I have a few in mind that could be of service.”

“That’ll be fine, General. But we’ll come back for that at a later time... I have a meeting with the Kondorian Royal Family,” the Prince mentioned.

“The Kondorians?” a stunned Kinston said. “What do you suppose you mean to accomplish with them?”

“Some sort of understanding. I hope that will be the case...” a shred of doubt unsettling Arlent’s voice.

“Your Highness, you know very well the Royal Family does not dabble in politics. You could be causing them great insult simply by the act of inviting them.”

“Even if nothing is accomplished, the move is symbolic. The Senate will be hesitant to support a war against a nation the Royal Family is on good terms with. They would be the ones marked as the wrongdoers instead of us.”

“You do not intend to speak with them about this crisis?”

“If I must, I will. But it hinges on them making the first move. After all, Father has yet to given me authority on the matter.”

“Authority? You mean to tell me this now?”

“Father has not been engaging with his counselors as of late. Even the High Priestess is worried about his state. He hasn’t spoken a word to me since President Oliver threatened to invade Saint Else.”

Kinston let out a deep grumble. “His Grace has not been well since the war ended. It was his idea to invade Mariana, after all. Now I fear his choices are coming back to haunt him.”

A knock on the door.

“His Highness, Prince Eric of Kondor is here to see you,” Manter announced.

“Send him in,” Arlent called, before facing back to the general. “If you excuse us...”

“My lord...” General Kinston bowed.

As the double-doors swung open once more, in stepped a tall, young man with sleek, combed, chestnut hair, donned with a fine white tailcoat embroidered with golden lacings and black trousers. With a kind smile, he strolled towards Prince Arlent with open arms as the General made his exit.

“Cousin!” Prince Eric hollered. “It’s been too long!”

“Eric,” Arlent obliged.

They both shared a friendly embrace, patting one another’s back as they locked before separating.

“Well then, what heeds your call? Perhaps a... suggestion for one of your many lovers?” Eric joked.

“If only I indulged in as much frivolities as you do... but unfortunately that is not why we’re here.”

“Then perhaps we can get straight to business, Your Highnesses...” a stark, hoarse voice spoke behind them.

They turned to see a lanky man in a long blue padded dress-coat, his round spectacles and hollow, gray beard shadowed by the peaked cap he wore. A blue armband containing a white star and circle wrapped around his right side.

“I don’t recall inviting you, good Sir,” told Arlent.

“Oh no, he’s with me, Cousin,” Eric said.

“What?”

Eric smiled. “Did you honestly expect you’d invite me all the way here just to drink tea and chat?” He leaned in closer to Arlent’s ear and whispered. “I understand the predicament you and your father are in right now. Allow me to offer some assistance with your troubles...”

Arlent soured. “Do you realize who you’ve brung here!?” He hissed. “That man’s with the enemy!”

“All the more reason to talk with him. And to be fair, he isn’t... exactly your enemy. Not yet, anyway.”

“Eric, you damned fool...”

They both turned to gaze upon the bewildering man once again, to which the humble man lifted his peaked cap and bowed.

“When you are ready,” the man spoke.

6
Manga Writer workshop / Writers Novel Marathon Workshop (CLOSED)
« on: July 29, 2017, 01:01:09 AM »
Welcome to The Writers Novel Marathon Workshop! Here, we at MangaRaiders will be aspiring to sharpen our skills and expand our knowledge of writing by painfully grinding ourselves into submission via the avalanche of badly-worded paragraphs and guilt-ridden critiques that will soon be your very own novel! (Or close to one...  :sure: )

The premises are very simple: In two months, we will work tooth-and-nail to draft, develop, and refine our stories into a full-fledged novel. 50,000 words, 50 days, and lots and lots of awful reading!  :D

Now, normally this kind of workshop should last 4-6 months to give some breathing room, but to keep people engaged and have the motivation to keep going, we're doing this workshop in half that time. Provided the conditions for this workshop are not set in stone and are subject to change if necessary, this is certainly not something for the light of heart. The workshops will go fast, and missing out on a few days can really set you back, so get ready to break out those headbands on your writings sessions!  8)

Taking inspiration from Brandon Sanderson's classroom layout, we will generally be following his instructional guide for the context of this workshop. I strongly suggest watching the video links down below to gain an idea how the workshop will more-or-less run.

Brandon Sanderson Lecture 1

Every week, we will have 3 Review Sessions, scheduled on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On those Review Sessions, participants are expected to turn in roughly 1000 words for people to review. Refer to Wring Group Essentials for Review Format. This is important, as it not only provides quality feedback for the writers, but allows yourself to reflect on what you could improve in your own writing as well.

This will also be mentioned in the video, but I shall reiterate: IF YOU ARE THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR, DO NOT REPLY TO THE FEEDBACK.

This helps keep the feedback genuine and unbiased. You should be the quiet guy with the clipboard gauging the audience's reactions in a movie theater, looking to see if that's the reaction you want. You shouldn't be interjecting at every turn saying "Oh, but it gets better!" It defeats the objectivity of the workshop and turns things argumentative  :unsure: Just don't say anything...  :-X

On Sunday, after the 3 Review Sessions are done, we will have a special vote pertaining to that week. Participants are free to post whatever they have on their story for that week and the MangaRaiders community will pick and choose which stories are the best thus far for that week. This vote will happen every week until the lead-up to the final week, when we finally conclude our terribly-written and trashy novels, where we will decide who is worthy of the title of Best MangaRaiders Novel!

There may or may not be prizes... some of that detail hasn't been worked out yet, but we'll get to it as the weeks go by  ;)

The workshop is now closed.


Progress Report: ~25,000 words (50% done)


Deadlines for Story Updates Pertaining to Review Sessions:
Tuesday RS: Wednesday 8 AM PST
Thursday RS: Friday 8 AM PST
Saturday RS: Sunday 8 AM PST

Writer's List:

Forlorn Serpent (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285701.html#msg285701)
GreenBeverage (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285682.html#msg285682)
Krurisuchristina (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285680#msg285680)
Mohadis1 (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285679.html#msg285679)
OhGodHelpMe (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285698.html#msg285698)
Operative13 (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285678.html#msg285678)
PhoenixGC (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285681.html#msg285681)
shishi02 (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285692.html#msg285692)
ToxicWaste97 (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285686.html#msg285686)
Xamasa (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,18460.msg285809.html#msg285809)

Current Writers Group
GreenBeverage*
Krurisuchristina*
Operative13

7
Develop Your Story / Serial Deviance
« on: February 16, 2017, 04:24:52 AM »
The year is 19XX LE, and the Great War has come to an end. Yet even as the dust settles and the people return to their daily lives, there are still those who lurk in the shadows... preying upon the weak. One such man revels in his daily hunts. The thrill of the chase, the seething adrenaline, the scent of victory. The man is no stranger to the natural order. Yet even in this cruel, unforgiving world, there are those who seek to put these predators in their rightful place. What the man seeks to gain out of all this madness? Only time will tell...

Prologue Part 1
I love women. I. Love. Women. Their looks. Their scent. Their taste. Their touch. Everything about women is absolutely magnificent! I simply cannot get enough of them! They truly are God’s Greatest Gift to this world! I cannot imagine living in a world that forsakes such pure beauty and essence for the vile and repugnant presence that are men! The sweet nectar of existence, the forbidden fruit of nature, the aroma of life itself, a woman’s body truly is a thing to behold. I simply cannot get enough.

Most men catch their prey the “traditional way”: go out on dates, spend quality time with one another, waste unhealthy amounts of money, break into arguments, renounce their relationships, rinse, repeat, until the prey is finally caught, normally done during or after the hunt. Most men fail to catch their prey with this method. I, however, do not toy with one’s prey as most men do. I trap them. I bind them. I consume them. And I leave the remains as they were. Sometimes the prey is clever, and manages to escape the trap before I get to the binding process, requiring me to resort to more... forceful methods. The prey never gets far afterwards, and I am able to consume them at my own leisure. It is an efficient method, one that has never failed me thus far, and continues to satisfy my growing hunger for more, for once one has tasted the Forbidden Fruit, one never ceases to have enough of it.

My deeds have certainly earned a reputation for myself around these parts. After a couple, it was enough to get me a section in a small newspaper. After a few more, enough to put me on the front page. After a dozen more, the radios began buzzing about my activities, and soon after, the news channels began airing it! Even the World Trek, one of the most respectable papers in the country, began writing articles about me! Yet no one has a clue as to my identity, not even the police who are so desperate to find a culprit that they dedicated an entire section to put me down. Truly, I am the Master of Hunters.

I’ve been genuinely careful after revealing my identity to others, lest anyone gets lucky enough to fit the pieces together and find me out. Since I began my hunts, I’ve been careful to keep track of those who knew me by name or face, especially my face. Fortunately for me, I’ve never had any significant relationships in my past days and the one and only relative I had left, my mother, past away long ago from lung disease. The only real faces I see on a regular basis are the part-time employees who packages my goods without handing a second glance to me as they immediately turn to the next customer waiting in line, and the neighbors I occasionally pass by on my way home. My steady, laid-back job requires practically little to no contact with others, since I work entirely at home, allowing me the benefit of relishing in my own comforts. I’m certain that if anyone were to visit me by an off-chance, they would be caught off guard by the rather large portrait of a nude woman’s body dominating the living room, her head cut off by the edge of the frame. They would ask about the portrait, and I would promptly reply with a small story of how I managed to acquire such work of art off a small storekeeper for a ridiculously low price. The painter who crafted this magnificent piece apparently shared the same taste in women as I. When no one wanted to buy his paintings, the man killed himself after mounting a huge sum of debt, leaving nothing but his paintings as a token of his legacy. I pity I could not have found this man any sooner, for I surely would have kept coming for more! So I bought the painter’s entire collection off the storekeeper, stashing it in my storeroom for me to indulge in on my free time. I only hung the one piece in the living room because it represented just about everything I love about this world. It was a piece that spoke to me, that spoke to my entire body and soul, my entire being, representing all that I stood for, that yearned to be loved, praised, and worshipped. And who else was better to fit that role than myself? And so I hung it in the living room. So I would tell my guests more-or-less. If any came, that is.

After my job, after my chores, after my errands and duties, when it came time for leisure, I grab my clothes and tools and head outside to indulge myself in yet another Hunt. The city was my hunting ground, and the prey were its inhabitants. Catching prey is no easy task. One must be mindful of all things and be several steps ahead of their prey in order to catch them without a hitch. One mistake can cost more than just a missed meal. Others have tried to follow in my footsteps, but none have managed to perfect the techniques I had carefully and meticulously crafted during my time hunting. Too sloppy, too careless, too brash, among other things have led to their demise. But not me. I always handle my prey with care.

Just off somewhere in a relatively isolated part of the ghettos, I spot a rather tipsy woman strolling along the sidewalk under the dim streetlights of the city. She wasn’t particularly well-dressed: her wrinkled and torn clothes were a garbled brown-green-black, with a plain tan skirt, a boot on one foot, and a shoe and white sock on the other. Her long, ruffled hazelnut hair stuck out unevenly at certain parts and she held a half-empty beer bottle in one of her hands. Her features, however, were quite provoking. She looked no older than her mid-twenties, and freckles dotted her sleek, pale-white face.The woman had curves in just about all the right places, and while it wasn’t as highly pronounced as some of the prey I’ve caught, it was enough to be considered worthwhile. The woman stumbled out of the light and near a deserted alleyway up ahead. I judge my openings, and keeping to mind anything that would spoil the trap, I set my plan in motion. As the woman slumped next to the dark alleyway, I huddle next to her and hustle the woman into the alleyway with relative ease. Confused by her sudden change in direction, the woman began to utter a sound before I silence her with a dose of my scented cloth. The prey has been caught. I check my angles once more, ensuring nothing can disturb my meal, before I usher her body deeper into the dark alley to be consumed.

After a few minutes, my meal was finished. Wasting no time in departing, I proceeded to make my exit off the other side of the alley and end my day as I usually do without incident. How terribly wrong I was.

With the way the ghettos are organized, there are several alleyways criss-crossing one another in a maze-like labyrinth, with dead-ends and circles all around. One could easily lose oneself in these alleyways if they were inexperienced around these parts. With that in mind, one could say it was to be expected that I should find myself running into one such person by chance, even at this time of night.

As I was about to pass an intersection, I hear a rather loud commotion coming out from the right alley, and stopped just behind the wall.

“Please, leave me alone!” said the voice of a young girl. “I don’t know what you want from me, but whatever it is, I’m not interested.”

“You’re a long way from home, Missy...” a husky voice replied. “...got yourself lost coming to these parts?”

Curious as to what was going on, I decided for a brief moment that I would simply watch before carrying on with my own business. So I peered over the corner and observed the commotion as it unfolded.

“Please, just go away,” the girl demanded. I was stunned to find just how alluring she was. She had to be around her mid-teens judging by her school uniform, but one could already tell she had the form of a fully-grown woman. Her large bust was bulging from her plain-white collar shirt, her long, wavy blonde hair reached way down to her thin waist, and her well-rounded thighs peering out from her pleated skirt shone splendidly through the dim moonlight! What I wouldn’t give to consume her... shame someone else got to her first.

The scrawny man assaulting the poor girl leaned in and placed his arm over her shoulder, asserting dominance over his prey. With glaring eyes, he eyed up-and-down the girl’s body with malicious intent, his grin smeared across his dull face.

“That’s no good Missy!” he pouted. “It’s dangerous to go alone out there! Maybe I could offer you some protection... for a price.” He placed his hand underneath the girl’s chin and pressed up, lifting her face to his. At this point I could already guess what would happen next, and debated to myself whether I should leave or stick around to snap a few photos... but it didn’t matter. I should have left when I had the chance.

The girl didn’t take kindly to the man’s advance, and promptly smashed her forehead right into the man’s nose. He hollered in pain as blood dripped from his nostrils, only to be kneed in the one place every man wishes not to. The girl took her opportunity and tried to make her getaway, only to be grabbed by the wrist and pulled back in by the man’s tight grip. He wrapped his arm around her waist and immediately pulled a knife to her neck, the sharp blade barely touching the skin. The man laughed manically as the girl struggled to break free.

“You got me real good there, Pretty Girl...” he taunted.

“Let go of me!” she demanded, wriggling her body around in vain. He only gripped tighter as she did. “Do you know who you’re messing with!?”

“Does it look like I care?” he replied, wrapping his face around her body, sniffing through that broken olfactory appendage of his. “I was thinking about letting you off easy... but then you just had to do that to me... no, I think you deserve something else...” He began pressing the knife against the girl’s throat.

“You won’t get away with this!” the girl shouted. “My dad will make sure scum like you get what’s coming to you!”

“Oh... Daddy’s Little Girl, huh?”

“He’s not just any dad... he’s Detective William Stromberg, the best detective in the city!”

That name... William Stromberg... he’s the one constantly breathing down my neck every time I hunt for prey. Ever since the police force assigned him to the Special Case Unit, I’ve had to change my schedule on a daily basis just to throw them off. The detective has a knack for solving crime and had a long-running success streak since he came to the force. No longer was I able to freely catch big game like I normally would... I’ve had to resort to small fry to sustain my hunger since.

“Detective Stromberg?” the man grunted.

“You heard me right... he’ll have you locked up in time with the evidence he has on you. You’re nothing more than spare change to him!”

The man did nothing more than grin hysterically at her baseless threats. “And where is this ‘Detective Stromberg,’ huh? Out here, you’re nothing kid, and Detective or no Detective, I’ll do what I damn well please!” He tugged her hair high into the air, the girl screaming in pain as he playfully toyed with her. “Now Stromberg... that name rings a bell... I think there’s a bounty for his daughter that some group was willing to pay quite handsomely for her. And how would they love to send his daughter in pieces!” The man cackled as he suddenly threw the girl against a pile of trash.

“Forget manners, I think I’ll just cut you up and claim my reward, right here and now!” With a crazed look, he lifted his knife, ready to strike. “This’ll be the easiest cash-in I’ve ever had!”

I knew I should have left...  it never did any good for me to stick around because I knew instinctively that if I ever saw harm come to a woman, I’d do something about it. After all, they’re too good to be wasted away.

Breathing a deep and hardy sigh, I pulled up my black facemask from underneath my shirt collar and reached for my small six-shot revolver in a chest holster hidden behind my large trench coat. Checking my shots, I snap the wheel back into place and cocked the hammer back as I tilt my fedora and emerged from the shadows.

“You’re mine!” the man yelled as he lunged at the paralyzed girl, her life apparently flashing before her eyes before I pulled the trigger. The knife was sent flying across the air as the man’s hand now had a bloody gaping hole through it. At first, everyone froze and stood dumbfounded at what had happened. That was until the man looked through the hole in his hand and immediately screamed in pain, cursing quite colourfully I might add.

“I wouldn’t touch her if I were you...” I said, keeping my gun trained on the pitifully frail man.

“You bloody bastard!” he cried out, holding his injured hand in the palm of the other. “You’ll pay for this!”

“You wanna bet your life on that?” I retorted. This fight was over before it began, but if he was stupid enough to charge at me, I’d be in a bigger mess than what I originally got myself into. The last thing I needed was a body under my name. And the Detective’s daughter was there to serve as witness out of all people.

“Why you...” he muttered.

“I’ll be taking my prize now, so if you don’t mind, why don’t you scram before I put another shot into you? And this time I won’t be so generous.”

The man clenched his teeth before making the smart decision and running off into the distance.

“I won’t forget this! I’ll be back, and once I do, you’ll regret ever crossing lines with me!” With his bloody hand clenched between his armpit, he disappeared into the night. I didn’t know what to be scared of next: whether the threat that man made was something to worry about, or the fact I now have the Detective’s daughter to deal with. I lower my gun and briefly crossed eyes with the girl still sitting among the heap of trash. My eyes widened at the emblem attached to her right breast pocket: a black-and-gold kite shield with a pine tree and cardinal bird flying over it in its center. At the bottom was a banner with the word “Leviticus” inscribed inside it. My old high school. How ironic for her to be attending the same school I was in. That might come in handy in the future.

I open my trench coat and tuck the pistol back into the holster before debating what to do next. Out of the silence, the girl suddenly spoke to me.

“T-Thank you...” the girl muttered.

“Don’t mention it,” I bluntly reply. I decided I wanted to end the night and just head home as usual. That little stunt I pulled earlier was surely going to attract attention sooner or later, so without hesitation I begin walking out of the alley. Hopefully the girl will take it as a chance encounter and not think too much into it.

“W-Wait!” she cried out. I stopped midway through my step upon her demand. Shuffling out of the trash heap and patting down her now-dirtied uniform, the girl then asked. “Why did you save me?”

I hesitated for a moment, putting together words that would sufficiently answer her question. But then a shadow of doubt hovered over me, wondering whether I should answer in the first place. Anything I say could be used against me if she goes back and tells her father about it. Better for me to keep it brief and leave out the details.

“I was just passing by. Don’t think too much of it.” That should be satisfying enough, and so continued walking.

“Hold up.”

What does she want now?

“W-What’s your name?” It seems like she’s just making up questions now... “I’d like to at least know the man who rescued me.”

“It’s Frank,” I say, though that’s not in the least my real name.

“Frank, huh? My name’s Julia. Julia Stromberg. Nice to meet you!” She raises her hand and smiles. Now she wants me to shake hands with her.

“Good night.” I promptly tell her and continue on. I’ve already overstayed my welcome, and I certainly didn’t want to waste anymore time with her nonsense. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the message. She immediately shouted for me to stop and ran right in front of me, spreading her arms wide and exhibiting a defiant face. She sure is persistent.

“What is it?” I calmly asked.

“What kind of response is that!?” she scolded. “You don’t just up and leave when someone’s offering to be your friend!”

“Friend?” I honestly can’t figure out what’s going on in that absurd head of hers.

“Of course! You saved me after all. You wouldn’t do that unless you were a good person.”

“Listen girl...” I explained.

“Julia,” she interrupted.

“Julia. I am in no way your “friend.” I’m just a random stranger who just happened to pass by and nothing else. Now if you excuse me, I’d like to get on my business now.”

I stepped to the side, only for Julia to step in my direction and block me again. I step to the other side and she does the same. This girl...

“There must be a reason you stopped to help me. A random stranger wouldn’t just up and risk his life for a random girl like that.” Her gaze turned toward my chest holster partially hidden from my open trench coat. “Why do you have a gun?”

...

Idiot! How could I’ve forgotten that? Out of everything, that should have been the most obvious reason why I should have never intervened: no civilian is allowed to carry firearms. Now she might actually put me at risk if I’m reported to the authorities. Do I silence her? Claim her as leverage? Evade her questions? Come up with a reasonable lie? Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to save her after all...

“I...” I began to mutter, my mind conflicted on what to do next.

“You’re not one of those undercover cops Dad sent to watch out for me, are you?”

“...what?” Me? A cop?

“If you are, then please tell him to lay off. I don’t need his lackeys to protect me! I’m old enough to take care of myself!”

That’s definitely not what I saw earlier... she could hardly fend for herself. And that more-or-less explains why she’s out alone at night.

“You got the wrong idea, Julia. I’m not an officer, nor am I friends with your Dad,” I explain.

“Then why do you have a gun?” Julia asserted. “You’re not a hitman, by chance, are you?”

“No,” I bluntly answered.

“You said you were going to claim me as your prize earlier.”

“I lied.” Though that’s not to say I won’t take her as prey someday either.

“Then you’re seriously just some random stranger who just “happens” to pass by and rescue someone out of kindness?”

“End of story,” I finished. “Are we done here?”

“Not at all,” Julia replied. “I don’t believe anything you just said to me.”

“Believe all you want, I’ll be going now.” With that, I decide to turn and go the opposite direction, not that it mattered where I went, as long I get out of that girl’s sight.

“W-Wait a minute!” she cried out again. “You’re just going to leave me out here all alone!?”

“You said you can take care of yourself. So goodbye.” Already, I can hear footsteps trailing behind me.

“Why don’t you tag along with me...”

“Not interested.” This girl... I swear if she tries to follow me home, I’ll have my way with her.

For a brief moment, the footsteps behind me stopped. Maybe she’s given up now.

“I’ll tell Dad about you and your gun.”

...goddamnit. I stopped right as I heard those words. I knew she’d pop it up sooner or later...

“If you’re not a cop, then you must be a criminal. That’s the only way you could’ve gotten a gun. Now if you don’t want the police investigating you and pulling up whatever secrets you may have hidden, you should stop and do what I ask. Unless that’s what you want, of course!” I turn my head and see her grinning triumphantly with her arms crossed, as if she’s just won big.

She’s blackmailing me, and being cocky about it. I’m starting to hate this girl more and more... though I wouldn’t expect less from the daughter of a famous detective. My options have already run dry, and anything out-of-line will definitely cost me more than the trouble she’ll probably put me through. As much as I hate to admit it, I bit off more than I could chew with this one.

With a deep and frustrated sigh, I turn around and ask, “What do you want?”

“Just for you to accompany me until I get to where I need to.”

“Why don’t you call your dad’s lackeys for that?”

“I don’t like them in the least bit!” she huffed. “They’re always so clingy to me, and won’t leave me alone for even a second! I know it’s because Dad asked them to, and to make sure I don’t get into any trouble, but they’re just so annoying to deal with. It’s ruining my social life! You look like an alright guy though, and I don’t think you’re the type to be clingy like they are judging by the way you act...” Was that supposed to be a complement? “...so I was hoping you could just tag along for a bit and keep those creeps away for a little bit.”

“Didn’t you say I was a criminal earlier? I could shoot you whenever I want.”

“I don’t think you would,” Julia rebuttaled. “If you wanted to, you would’ve done so already, but you held back. I can tell, you know.” Oh, now she can read minds. What’s there that the damn detective didn’t teach to this kid?

“So you want me to just walk with you?”

“That’s right.”

“Is that all?”

“That’s all. And I promise I won’t bother you anymore after this.”

“Fine. I’ll walk with you. But once we get there, I’m leaving.”

“Then it’s settled!” she cheered, grasping her hands together. “Now we should probably get a move on. Don’t want to come home too late and worry Dad now!” It’s midnight right now. How much later can she possibly get?

“By the way Frank...” said Julia. “Why don’t you take off that mask of yours? You look kind of silly with that on.”

I was not amused in the slightest by her statement.

“I have my reasons.”

“You can take it off Frank. After all, we’re both friends now! And friends don’t hide things from each other.”

They do actually, and it’s usually the things they really don’t want anyone to know about. I should know.

In defiance, I kept the mask on and simply ignored her again.

“You’re not going to take off the mask?”

“No.”

“We’re not going anywhere until you take off the mask.”

...

One could say that getting roasted alive in a volcano would be an understatement to the levels of frustration boiling inside me. I bite my tongue and reluctantly pulled down the mask from my face, tilting my fedora down as I did so the girl wouldn’t get a full glimpse. I just need to get this night over with and then I can get back to my normal schedule.

Julia stood awestruck when she saw my fully-revealed face.

“What?” I ask.

“You’re younger than I thought you were...” she muttered.

“Were you expecting something else?”

“Kind of. I was maybe thinking you were a middle-aged man behind that gruntled voice of yours, but I guess you can never judge a book by it’s cover.”

“So, where is this place you have to go to?” Hopefully it isn't too far...

“Oh, it’s a house somewhere on Fifth Dunkan Avenue. I was sure it was around here somewhere...”

Goddamnit. That street’s on the other end of the ghettos. Not only is the girl totally helpless, but she’s managed to get herself lost too!

Not wanting to waste anymore time and energy putting up with this facade, I start my way off as Julia hopelessly looked around at street signs before realizing I was already moving.

“H-Hey, wait up!” she called.

Not that I would’ve known at the time, but the moment I accepted her little request was the moment everything seemed to go downhill for me from then on.

I should’ve left when I had the chance.
Prologue Part 2
Traveling halfway across the place was a bigger pain than I anticipated. Although it was the dead of night, this was around the time all the crooks and skanks started crawling out of their filthy abodes and filled the streets with their kind. Having spent quite some nights around these parts, I can certainly say they weren’t the type of people you would want to hang around with for too long. At all actually.

Having a young girl with a pretty face trailing behind you didn’t help the situation either. She stood out like a blossoming rose in a field of wilting flowers. There were all sorts of strange looks from passer-bys as we made our way through the ghettos. Shady men congregating around corners eyed us in perversion and suspicion. Scantily-clad women coaxed us for attention. Just about every conceivable lowlife you could possibly imagine took note of our presence. It was unnervingly unpleasant, even for someone such as myself.

I hid my face as best I could, tilting my hat low and keeping the collars of my trench coat up as I walked while Julia dangled along, admiring the exotic nightlife of the ghettos. I made every effort to avoid whatever trouble we might run into. If there was a group of men blocking the road ahead, we turned the other way. If there were some rowdy bars or taverns nearby, we strolled as far away from them as possible. Julia, standing out like a small, flickering light in a sea of darkness, made for a prime attraction among the delinquents and outcasts of society, and taking into account what that thug said earlier, some might come to realize who the girl is and attempt to stab at her like he did. I don’t even want to imagine what’ll happen afterwards if they do...

After some time across the length of the ghettos, we finally reached the residential area. Nothing more than a disorganized mix of brick and wood buildings stacked next to other one-by-one, some a mere one-floor tall while others towered three-to-four stories high. It’s said that these parts used to be a quiet suburban neighborhood out in the countryside, but overtime the city’s population boomed and expanded rapidly outwards. Eventually its expansion reached all the way out here, and... not wanting to waste space and money... the city planners decided in their infinite wisdom to build between the old ones. Thus why the neighborhoods are the mess they are today. It used to be a good neighborhood too, but nowadays it’s dominated by foreigners moving here in search of a fresh start. And the criminal elements seeking to exploit these vulnerable individuals... I recall catching a few prey here myself, but eventually stopped coming after learning how long it took to walk home, though the exotic meals made the trips worthwhile.

Out of the corner of the dimly-lit streets stood a tall, metal pole with white street signs and a lit gas lantern. Fifth Dunkan Avenue was just around the corner.

“We’re here,” I announced.

I stopped short of the corner and look down the street at a long row of shabby one-story houses. It was quiet, all but for the one howling dog somewhere in the distance. A few still even kept their lights on at this late hour.

Turning up behind me, Julia gazed down the street and instantly lit up.

“This is it!” she cried, before dashing off ahead of me.

I stood there wondering whether I should take off now or wait around, now that’s she found what she was looking for. But that was already answered for me when Julia called out from a distance.

“What are you standing around for? Come on!” she waved over.

I breathed a deep sigh. Just a bit longer, I told myself. With hands tucked deep in my coat pockets, I strolled behind the blonde schoolgirl as she took her time glancing at the address of each house.

Eventually, she stopped at one of the houses: a small wooden one-story house with an empty front porch. The front lawn was nothing but barren dirt with a few patches of yellow grass scattered around. The windows were lit and the short, brick chimney atop was bellowing smoke. With a bright smile, Julia eagerly dashed up to the front porch. With that, I considered my job here finished, and begin turning back for home.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Julia suddenly said.

“Going home,” I answered. “I’m done here, aren’t I?”

“Not until you’ve introduced yourself, you’re not! Now come up here before I change my mind.”

“That again?” I utter.

Straining my face and pinching between my exhausted eyes, I reluctantly turned faced and waltzed up to the side front porch beside her. Now I have to put up a facade and remember these people the next time I see them. How I wish this night to be over...

All I got was a cheerful smile as I stood beside Julia. She knew I was clearly irritated by her threats as I turned and faced the door, toying with me like a cat with their food. Yet I could do nothing but watch as Julia reached out and announced our presence with three concise knocks. I readied my best first impression and braced myself for whomever answered the door.

The door unhinged, and behind it stood a tan-skinned middle-aged woman with dark hair and emerald eyes. She had her hair wrapped up in a small bun at the back of her head and wore a green-yellow patterned dress embroidered with delicate geometric designs wrapped around with a white apron. She looked exhausted.

“Julia!” exclaimed the woman, as cheerfully as she could. I could see the strain in her eyes. “How good to see you!”

“Hello, Mrs. Nimri!” Julia greeted.

“What brings you at such an hour?”

“I came to see how Mida was doing. Also to drop off her homework for class,” she explained.

“It’s quite late for you to be doing that, don’t you think?” said Mrs. Nimri. “Wouldn’t your father be worried?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” the girl waved. “I have him to protect me, after all!” Right then, both their eyes turned towards me. The way they did so in sync was rather unnerving. “He’s a cop, just like my Dad!”

...what?

Julia suddenly frowned. “Well?” she began. “Introduce yourself!”

I smiled as best I could and lifted my hat to Mrs. Nimri. “Frank Chapel, at your service,” I said.

“Mr. Chapel, is it? It’s a good thing you’re with Miss Stromberg coming all this way. It gets dangerous at night, you see.”

“I’m well aware of that, Madam,” I reply.

“Why don’t you two come in?” the woman invited. “I have soup ready in the kitchen.” She stepped offside and gestured us in.
Prologue Part 3
The home was quite clean and spacious despite its outward appearance, but perhaps that might be because it doesn’t have that many things inside it to begin with. The living room, which only contained a small couch facing a small television set, a large cabinet, and a burning chimney crammed into a small corner with a handful of portraits and pictures hanging among the walls, doubled both as a kitchen and dining room. A plain wooden dining table sat off to the side where a small lamp hung from the ceiling, four chairs tucked neatly in, while the kitchen’s stove, sink, cabinets and refrigerator took up an entire side of the room. Hard, square tiles were the only things distinguishing the kitchen area from the living room’s plank flooring.

“You can hang your coat on the stand there, Mr. Chapel.” Mrs. Nimri pointed to an empty coat stand next to the doorway.

“Thank you,” I replied, and instinctively unwrapped the thick, dark coat off... before I realized how stupid I was.

The moment I saw the gun protruding out from my chest holster, I immediately turned to Mrs. Nimri expecting her to panic, but instead she merely stared anxiously at it. Perhaps I should explain a bit to try to ease her tension...

“Mrs. Nimri, the gun’s for...”

“I know,” she interrupted. “You’re a cop. You’re required to have it on you at all times.”

That’s right... She thinks I’m a cop. No wonder Julia said what she did earlier. Otherwise I’d have to explain myself why I had a gun on me... smart of her to think ahead like that.

“You mind if I keep it on?” I ask.

“Not at all, Officer,” Mrs. Nimri replied.

“Please, call me Frank,” I cheerfully said as best a tone I could. I hate putting up facades...

“Mrs. Nimri, if you don’t mind...” Julia interrupted. “Can I go see Mida?”

“Of course Julia!” answered Mrs. Nimri. “She’s up right now, so I’m sure she’d be happy to talk to you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Nimri!” Julia said, before speeding down the hallway off to the side.

“Frank, can you help me with the cooking?” the woman suddenly asked of me.

Me? Cook!? Do I look like someone who makes his own meals? I wouldn’t know the slightest thing about...

“You can cut the vegetables for the soup while I stir the broth.”

...oh. Well, that should be simple enough.

“I’d be glad to, Mrs. Nimri,” I obliged.

“It’s Eesha,” said the woman.

“Eesha, then,” I repeat.

Hanging my coat, hat, and waist-pouch onto the hooks of the coat hanger, we both headed for the kitchen area, where a large pot of water was already boiling atop the burning gas stove. Eesha stopped at the sink and pulled out a large bowl of freshly-washed fruits and vegetables, setting it atop the kitchen counter. I watched idly as she shuffled through the cupboards before taking out a cutting board and small knife.

“Come Frank,” Eesha said.

She ushered me in with the end of her finger before flipping the knife over so that the handle faced me.  I instinctively grabbed ahold of it, eyeing my own reflection in the blade’s thin, shining metal.

“You can start cutting the things in the bowl here for me. Make sure it’s small and even for the girls, okay?”

“I’ll do my best,” I replied. Rolling up the white sleeves of my dress shirt, I ready myself to begin cutting before the woman suddenly stopped me.

“Wait a minute,” she said, placing her soft hand firmly onto my chest. What is it now?

Reaching behind her back, Eesha untied her white apron and removed it from her dress. She then reached over my head with the loose collar of the apron and, stepping behind me, tied the thin strings in the back snug and fit.

“There! That should keep your suit nice and clean,” she smiled.

It’s not like it’s an expensive suit or anything, but... “Thanks.”

“No problem!” Eesha replied.

With that, we set to work. The woman grabbed ahold of some spices, powder, and sauces from one of the cabinets down below and, with a large soup spoon, meticulously went through each and every glass jar and poured small increments into the boiling water. She then mixed the fuming concoction with the soup ladle, stirring slow and evenly as the steam rose high into the small vents above.

I, meanwhile, busied myself with cutting the copious amounts of vegetables piled in that huge bowl of hers. I’ve never tried cutting anything that didn’t involve ropes and wires, among other things, and wanting to keep up good impressions, I tried my best at following the woman’s directions. Taking out the large carrot in the bowl, I proceeded to slice the vegetable section-by-section. With a quick sawing motion, I carefully dissected the plant into even bits and pushed them off to the side for Eesha to add into the mixture. After applying the final cut to the carrot, I moved onto the tomato sitting atop the bowl next.

The tomato was a bit trickier to handle. It wasn’t straight and even as the carrot I had cut earlier. It’s round, uneven shape meant I had to hold the fruit down at certain places, and the water dripping from its soft, slippery skin did not help either. Grasping the tomato at one hand and placing the kitchen knife at the other, I proceeded to cut the fruit, only to have the blade slip off the side.

“Gah!” I yelped. I let go of the tomato and lifted my left hand above the sink. I had scathed a bit of skin from my thumb, a tint of blood oozing out from its gash.

“Oh, Heavens!” Eesha cried out. “Are you alright!?”

“I-It’s nothing,” I reply, trying to maintain composure, even as a river of blood dripped deep into the sink basin. “Just a minor accident.”

“Well, we can’t let you bleed like that! I’ll go fetch some cloth. Wait here for me, alright?”

The woman then hurried off into the hallway and disappeared into the bathroom. The shutter of cabinets could be heard as Eesha rummaged through their interior, searching for anything that could be used to bandage my bleeding thumb. During her occupancy, I began to ponder why a man such as myself was spending the middle of the night helping a complete stranger cook her soup for a pair of younglings he had no concern for. A man of my stature, forced to endure such pains and blunders for the sake of maintaining this detestable facade. If I had not saved that girl hours earlier, I would not be here to begin with! Yet here I am... wasting away for these people.

The clock above the television ticked on as I stared into the sink’s abyss, contemplating my next move.

“You cut just like my husband,” Eesha suddenly announced, to my surprise. I did not expect her to get here from the bathroom that quickly... “Always forcing the knife in, instead of letting it gently slide like it’s supposed to.”

“Sorry... I’m not used to cutting these things. I never cook my own meals, you see.”

“Ah... not just cutting, either,” she grinned.

“What do you mean?”

Eesha took my hand and began wrapping the bandage around the open wound.

“My husband was a soldier in the Sardanian army, long before the war started. He was a strong-minded man, always believing that force and power can get him through anything life threw at him. Yet despite all his years of training and discipline, he could barely hold a conversation with a woman! He had never talked to a single girl his entire life before I met him in Sassani. The first time I laid eyes on him, I thought I couldn’t possibly love that man. He’s way too old for me, he doesn’t have any redeeming qualities I find appealing, and he acts like a mad brute all the time. Certainly not the gentleman I had in mind!”

“What changed?” I asked, though only to keep the conversation rolling. For a brief moment she’d stop wrapping.

“...me, I suppose.” She continued wrapping. “Strange, don’t you think? That I was the one who ended up changing.”

“I don’t believe that’s strange,” I answer. “People go through changes all the time.”

“That’s what I told my husband when we first met. I told him the only way I’d marry him was if he’d straightened himself out and change, before walking off.”

“And you came back?”

She giggled. “He came to me. A number of times, actually. Always the same. Flowers, chocolates, then his horrid attempt at cooking... I rejected him all the same.” Eesha knotted the bandage together. “But... if it wasn’t for him, I’d probably be living a different life today.”

A long silence drifted between us. I looked at my bandaged hand and grasped a few times. For a bloody thumb, this seemed to be a bit overdone...

“At the time, I’d been seeing his friend ever since that first day. He was a gorgeous man, and quite the romanticist too... Jamal, his name was. He was everything I looked for in a man... but he was too much of an Idealist.” She grabbed ahold of the kitchen knife I dropped and began cutting the vegetables in my place. My eyes tuned to the cutting board while keeping an ear to her story. So that’s how you cut those...

“He took everything so seriously. Always talking about love, fate, and faithfulness. Always so attached to me. Always coaxing me to do things I had no interest in. I grew tired of his nonsense, and eventually I came back for my husband. Sure, he was rowdy and didn’t pay as much attention to me as Jamal did, especially around their friends... and he could hardly cook anything edible if he life depended on it!”

I gave a lighthearted chuckle. “I guess I can see the resemblance in that.”

Eesha giggled right after, before going back to her cutting. “But it gave me back a sense of normality. No drama, no fantasy, no wishful thinking...  just me and my husband living our lives like we should.”

Speaking of which... “Where is your husband, by the way?”

“No longer with us, sadly...” Her voice appeared to dip saying those words. “He died in the last days of fighting. He did everything to protect us up to that point. Even during the Siege, he gave everything to make sure me and my daughter got out of Sassani safely. Jamal didn’t do that with his family. He couldn’t bear the thought of surrender, and committed suicide alongside them. My good friend Lina was his wife at the time, and when I heard what happened, I just... broke down. Thank the Gods she spared her little one from their fate.”

“I’m sorry to hear...” I nonchalantly said, though I could care less about the poor woman’s husband.

“What about you?” Eesha suddenly asked. “I’m sure you’re tired hearing my tragic story this whole time.”

“Not at all!” I proclaimed. “I find it intriguing, to be honest.”

Eesha chuckled. “You’re too kind.” Gathering the cut vegetables, she threw them in a small bowl set aside of the cutting board and stepped in front of me. I back stepped just as her gentle skin grazed my chest. Control yourself... The woman dumped the entire bowl into the soup and began stirring the boiling broth.

“So? What story do you have?” The woman repeated. “You weren’t a soldier in the war, were you?”

“For... obvious reasons,” I answered, raising my arms to my own figure.

Eesha glanced over, past her long, dark hair. “Even in war, they still need officers to keep the peace, don’t they?” She smiled.

“All the time,” I asserted with confidence. At this point I should have left no doubt to my position and authority. As long as I maintain my composure, my facade should last.

“Before you continue, can you bring these to the girls in the bedroom down the hall?” Eesha had taken two bowls out from the overhead cupboard and poured the thick soup into each one. She turned and offered them to me. “I’m sure Julia would like to spend more time chatting with Mida together.”

I gracefully smiled, taking ahold of the steaming bowls in her hands.

“With pleasure.”

8
General Discussion / Gather 'Round, Fellow Military Otakus!
« on: February 02, 2017, 04:10:39 PM »


I cannot stress how much I adore the Military. Especially when it comes to portraying them in my favourite medium, Anime. From flashy uniforms and decorative flags and emblems, to the strict professionalism and cunning tactics employed on the battlefield, the Military mixes beauty and elegance with chaos and brutality, opposing forces that seemingly somehow are capable of coinciding with one another. Take this page from Youjo Senki, for example:


If that isn't eye-catching in the slightest, I wouldn't know what is.  ;D The girl herself is a beauty to begin with, yet the uniform adds to that beauty with refinement and character. The uniform is a symbol of status, power, strength, and authority. Its design is simple and practical, yet imposes a sense of calm discipline and restraint.

Take another example:

Without the uniform, the girl would simply be considered another "psychotic" character, yet with it, the uniform tells us much more. Its pointed design emphasize her sharp and calculated mind, the medals on her chest in recognition of the danger she poses. The camouflage adds to her mysterious nature, as we do not know what lies in her thoughts, her slanted eyes and sly grin a terrifying facade.

There are many other examples as well, from fantasy to techno, modern and historical:











But uniforms aren't the only things when it comes to the Military. Guns guns guns. Lots of guns! Or swords. Or bombs. Or whatever weapon happens to suit you.  :biggrin: You wouldn't be a military if you didn't have weapons to fight back with  ;)

Whether it's blasting the opposition with that hefty derp gun of yours


Pulling off that epic shot a mile away


Duking it out face-to-face against your nemesis


Or simply saying F*ck All to everyone in that general direction


Weapons are an essential part of that showcase. It's good to see that Anime has begun diving more into gun battles these recent years rather than the old-fashioned sword fights you see time-and-time again. And I don't blame them: it's much more difficult showing off guns as anything epic since it takes far less skill to use and far more easily to put down the opposition with. But when the fights are done well, it shows immensely.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l34kQealc6U

Still... I'm waiting on an Anime that can show a pretty decent gunfight that doesn't involve some sort of "magical" aspect. One that pertains to a more raw and solid feeling of combat than the light and speedy scenarios currently widespread.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6fQ4umUW4Y

But the real cream of the crop is the execution of the battle as a whole.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rtbxdkcfd1o

The planning, the tactics, the logistics, nothing is spared in the expense of creating the most epic scenes you could ever dream of. Everything you love about action, a hundred times over. That is the epitome of what I love about Military anime. Perhaps one day in the near future, we shall come to witness a scale of animation worthy of the battles seen on the big screen.  ;D


If any of you fellow otakus got anything to add or discuss, feel free to jump in here  :thumbsup:

9
Develop Your Story / Excerpts from Op's Writing Trove
« on: September 21, 2016, 01:05:41 AM »
On occasion, I tend to write tidbits here-and-there that don't exactly fit anywhere in the Chelderan Chronicles universe, at least not anywhere I can think of... so in order to shove everything out as a sort of "Brain Dump," I dedicate this topic to everything and anything that relates to my developing stories and other random things.  :D

10
General Manga writer discussions / Moral Paradoxes
« on: June 26, 2016, 08:45:39 AM »
One of the things commonly discussed in literature and practicality any other form of creative outlet is the idea of morality and its applications. Much of it deals with the perception of good and evil, however morality, just like everything else, has its gray areas. Only when these gray areas are explored do things become questionable and unclear.

Take, for example, my story Chelderan Chronicles, where two warring nations, the Kondorian Republic and the Sardanian Kingdom, fought one another over the total destruction of a Kondorian port city. Near the end of the war, with the Kondorian Army approaching fast toward the Sardanian Capital of Sassani, King Zaeem held two dire choice in his hand: Surrender to the Kondorians and witness his beloved country break itself apart, or continue fighting and potentially destroy what remains of the Kingdom. Part of this choice came with the decision of what to do with the residents of Sassani. Morality would incline King Zaeem to move the residents to the safety of his far-eastern borders, however, the moment he allows his people to flee is the moment the Kondorians will choose to attack.

The only thing holding the Kondorians back from attacking the capital is the Kondorian's own morality of not killing civilians. It is this morality that King Zaeem uses against them to force a stalemate between themselves during the Siege of Sassani. Using his own subjects as a hostage of sorts seems cruel and distasteful, but in the grand scope of things, King Zaeem refusal to allow his subjects to leave the capital is due to his hope of liberating his fellow subjects from the Kondorian invaders and preserving the unity and integrity of his diverse kingdom, a feat no ruler has able to accomplish with great success. In a sense, King Zaeem was saving his country's future.

Had the Kondorians lacked morality, there would be no benefit to King Zaeem keeping his subjects as a hostage, as the Kondorians would attack either way. Thus King Zaeem would have more than enough reason to send his subjects away to safety. Had King Zaeem lacked morality, he would have fled the capital and leave Sassani to fend for itself against the invaders, all while carrying out further resistance in a far-away land, thus sparing the Kondorians from needless bloodshed to simply march into the capital unchallenged.

It is because of the simple fact that both sides hold high morals that paradoxically causes innocent people to be put in harm's way despite the fact that neither side wishes for innocent lives to be lost.

This is akin to a somewhat reverse Prisoner's Dilemma, except that instead of seeking cooperation, only one of the two must give up their morality in order to achieve the most desirable result. The problem lies in who is willing to forfeit their moral high ground first...

What moral challenges or dilemmas does your story or characters deal with and how do they tackle these often hard decisions? What made them reach those conclusions and what are the repercussions of those decisions? How does your characters react to and view those decisions? Share your thoughts or other related ideas about morality in your stories here!  :thumbsup:

11
A side story of Chelderan Chronicles, it follows the adventures of Tank Commander Christiana Bellacosa and her crew during the decades-long Hadian Civil War.

A change-of-pace from the more grisly-dark stories I often write, this is more focused more on comedy and slice-of-life.

Feel free to rate/comment at your leisure.  ;)

Enjoy!  :thumbsup:

12
Anime Talk / Should Anime Become Mainstream?
« on: March 05, 2016, 08:14:40 PM »
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2016-03-05/net-manga-depicts-character-falling-out-of-love-with-favorite-anime/.99327

I recently came across an article discussing a net manga that contrasts the expectations of Anime Fans vs those outside the medium and can't help but wonder that, considering Anime's growing trend of popularity especially among  young demographics, Should Anime Become Mainstream?

There are ups-and-downs to the idea. On one hand, more people are more accepting and enthusiastic about the medium, creating higher quality and extensive productions. On the other hand, there lies the possibility of seeing less-and-less diversity among genres as companies gear more towards the popular stories and less toward controversial ones such as Kodomo no Jikan, Elfen Lied, and Yosuga no Sora to name a few.

Share your thoughts and stance on the subject down below!  :thumbsup:

13
Anime Talk / Anime Hypes Incoming!
« on: September 09, 2015, 01:03:35 AM »
For anyone wanting to throw out suggestions for upcoming anime or anime-related stuff, post it here!  ;D

14
Greetings fellow Raiders! Op here!  ;)

Caesarea is back again, and after a long silence concerning our previous One-Shot endeavors, has risen from the grave once more to pursue a course in the world of Light Novels!

Oh, I should probably mention who we are before I start babbling away on the details...  :-\

For those who don't already know, we are a ragtag team of writers and artists assembled from MangaRaiders itself for the purpose of spreading our glorious name throughout the interwebs and improve upon our skills and specialties as both Writer and Artist. Our founder, the great and honorable Julius Caesar, many months ago had sought to bring this dream to a reality, only to be crushed by the very reality he vowed to conquer! Nevertheless, Caesarea has reformed in his absence, and is now back in full force to fulfill the dream he left for us!

As the title might imply, our focus is on Light Novels... more specifically short stories ranging from a simple 1,000 words to as much as 20,000 or 30,000 depending on a given story. But since that's mainly writer's stuff, I'll get to the point for you as an Artist.

As an Artist of Caesarea, you will be collaborating with a group of other like-minded artists in helping to develop a Cover Art for the stories our writers produce each week. These Cover Arts can range from a simple close-up of a character to fantastical backgrounds depending on the Artist Team's decision. Every weekend, the Artist Team will assemble for a vote on which story they would like to create a Cover Art for, and the following weekdays you shall participate in drafting, posting, revising, and finalizing the works of others until the final product is complete. For now the only recommendations we have for oncoming artists is some basics in shading and anatomy, as we will be mainly dealing with black-and-white artwork until we can find someone capable of adding color (Even better if you're capable of that  :thumbsup: ).

The workload should be relatively lenient, as you are only expected to complete a single page of artwork alongside the rest of the Artist Team, and the deadlines are open for adjustment. There are no full-time obligations in joining this project, and our members are sure to give you a warm welcome upon your introduction. I guarantee it'll be a blast to be a part of!  ;)

Oh, did I mention you have the added bonus of seeing your story published as well? That's right, if you happen to have a written story you would like to see make it out with its own Cover Art, Caesarea can do just that! (For all those democracy-thwarting evildoers out there, the Artists are the only ones capable of voting for which story receives a Cover Art. As both an Artist and a Writer, you can sway the vote in your story's favor if you so please  :sure: ) More details on that later...

So, what do you gain from joining such a group as Caesarea?  :-\

You have access to all our writers and artists in helping to develop whatever story you have available, be part of a friendly and open community of Writers and Artists, and have a chance at seeing your story published in the near future, if you stick with us long enough  ;)

There are no drawbacks from joining this group. You are free to leave at any time you see fit, and we shall make the appropriate accommodations to make up for your absence. The more you participate, the greater you benefit from this exciting experience!

If you are interested in joining or have any questions, send me a PM or post directly below and I shall be sure to answer you as soon as I can!  8)

We look forward to seeing you as a future member of Caesarea!

15
Suggestions And Feedback / Categorizing Posted Works in MR
« on: July 07, 2015, 09:27:55 AM »
As I'm scrolling through the plethora of pages that our amazing and imaginative community has created, I can't help but wonder what happened to other creative works MR has had over its 8-year long history. Thus, I stumble upon the abandoned wasteland of The Past and realize just how many of these potential stories end up discarded or unfinished.

Reception is usually positive (Or negative depending on the situation), but after awhile, these stories are often never completed. People lose interest, people move on, and generally these works are quietly stowed away in a board's page number. Only the avid of readers would take their time to scroll through the ocean of threads, comments, and occasional bullocks to find the valuable gem they've been looking for.

So an idea popped up to me. What if there was a way to categorize all the finished works posted here in MangaRaiders? Put together a list consisting of every completed work here so that our members can easily and more visibly find more of these inspiring works to read about, long after it's been posted. An MR Library, in a sense! If someone has a completed story, they can put in to have their story included in the Library as a contribution to our beloved community!

...of course, that means the busy work of updating and keeping tabs on stories for this "Library", and such and such...  :-\ but at least we can see to it that these works won't be forgotten ;)

Just a thought, but it'd be interesting to something like that someday.

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