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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

By mick dawson



A stocky young man by the name of ‘Ghahkan’ had wasted away after years of eating possibly one small meal a day. With the prospect of employment long dissipated, he took to drinking in hopes that his mind would be clouded, forgetting his woes for another evening under the merciful blanket of sleep. On this eve like any other, he laid in the alley next to a jewelry maker, resigning himself to his lot as he could never return home to face his clan in filthy rags.

Closing his eyes, he shut out the world and found his solace in his dreams, unaware of the battle that waged above him…


From the window of a neighboring building, ‘Civa’, the hero of Caliet, otherwise known as the ‘Cat man’ watched as a thief leapt through the upper most window of the Lady Nolga’s tower.

For a moment, the thief dangled casually from the sill by the steel prongs that fanned from his wrist guards. He pulled a pink diamond from inside his tunic on the end of a thick silver chain.

‘So big.’ He thought. ‘What was it that comely wench Nolga said? That it was the key to even greater riches?’

On inspection, he found it flawed with several cracks to one edge, but no matter. A jeweler could easily cut the gem into smaller diamonds.

On looking up, a figure in a Hessian mask descended on him swiftly, kicking him from his hold on the sill, snatching the precious stone from him as he plummeted.

Civa watched him fall, expecting him to crash heavily onto a cart of hay, but curved steel claws suddenly sprang from the thief’s wrist guards and boots. All at once, he stabbed all four blades into the wall, slowing his descent until stopping two floors above the street in a sickening screech of metal on stone.

The enraged thief looked up at the hero of Caliet and rapidly jabbed the blades into the rounded walls of the tower, scaling them so proficiently as to look as if he jogged up the side of the sheer edifice.

Civa tumbled backward to avoid a swipe to his legs, taking hold of a clothesline. It tugged then fell free.

With a twisting of his body, he managed to avoid slamming into the corner of the building, arcing up and over onto the roof.

“You think to avoid me so easily?!” taunted the thief.

“Follow me if you dare!” called the Cat man. “The rooftops are my element. Not even ‘Tonunda the Savage’ could best me here!”

Civa sprang to the top of an overhanging ladder extending down to the street and swung at the apex. It toppled over to the next roof like a huge pendulum where he released his hold and rolled onto the surface of the roof, but to his chagrin he saw the thief already on the ladder, eyeing him coldly.

Civa blocked a jab aimed at him through the rungs, holding his antagonist’s wrist a mere inch from his chest.

A second passed where the two men strained against each other until steel claws sprang free, raking the Cat man’s chest.

It was a shallow cut at best, but still, Civa found himself losing his footing.

“It is a poison, though not deadly.” Said the thief, once more taking back his prize.

Clawing his way down to the jeweler, he climbed through the open window and held out the gem in his open palm.

“Ah the ‘Locust’ returns.” the jeweler chimed. “It is worth but a few coppers at most.”

“What?! The lady Nolga said it was of great value!”

“It is merely a diamond for cutting other diamonds. It is even flawed. See the cracks?”

The Locust growled in disgust, flinging the unworthy gem through the window to land on the sleeping face of Ghahkan.

A hand swept to his face, believing it to be rain, but on finding no moisture. He fumbled for his wine skin, only to find the diamond.

His jaw dropped in astonishment even though the stone was imperfect, but there was something more to it. Something familiar about the cracks.

Ghahkan turned it upside down, his face draining of all color in wonder.

The cracks were a map. He at once recognized the river which ran by his village and the mountains to the east, and something indiscernible denoting his own family home.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29

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Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini09/14/07
Strong, crisp story. Excellent descriptions and action. Very well done, keep up the great writing!
Jan Ackerson 09/16/07
Lots of action here--it's easy to visualize this, almost like a scene from a movie.

You might want to take a second look at the capitalization and punctuation of dialogue. And the ending puzzled me--I'm not clear how the diamond/map is going to change his fortunes. If you you had a few more words!

This could easily be expanded, and I'm sure you'd find an audience eager to read more of the adventure.
Carol Shaffron09/19/07
Generally I don't care for these kinds of stories, but you held my attention through the entire writing and left me wanting more! Really good writing always leaves much to the reader's imagination.