12 April 2014 - 12:20 pm

Altered Perspectives: Challenge #2

Picture a world. It can be in any era you like: ancient civilisation; contemporary and modern; medieval; fantastical; far-future. This world does not have to be Earth, though feel free to stay at home if you wish. It could be an alien planet, a colonised one, an asteroid, or simply an area in the void between worlds. I want you to focus on a particular location. It might be a spot on a continent, or in an ocean, on a mountainside, out in the reaches of space. It is a place of note. A place of importance to the people who live near there.

It is a place where many battles have happened. Armies have crossed this place countless times. They have fought and died there. Perhaps it is a border between two powerful states. Perhaps it is the gateway to a place of strategic advantage, or religious importance. Its wealth might be real and physical, or ideological, or spiritual. Its wealth might simply be a logistical quirk of geography, like the valley that passes between two insurmountable peaks or the proximity of an important stronghold. Choose a reason. Decide why this place has drawn so much battle onto it.

Consider the armies that have clashed here. Whose blood has soaked into the soil or water here, or hangs suspended in the vacuum of space? What did they want? How were they armed? How did it change over time?

What scars does this place have? Does it have any at all? In peace-times, can anyone tell what violence happened here just by looking at it? Has anyone cleaned it up? Are the dead buried here? What about their weapons; are they still here? Vehicles, warhorses, mechanoid helpers? Are there any signs under the surface?

Think about the fabric and atmosphere of this place. How has it been affected by what has happened in its embrace? Is this place vicious? Bloodthirsty? Is it sad and battered? Abused? Is it proud? Peaceful? Haunted by the ghosts of those who have fallen in its arms? Is it tired? Does it wish for peace-time or the thunder of the wardrums?

Now take this place to a time when there hasn’t been a battle in a while. It might have been a few years, or as much as a century. Enough time for it to grow quiet. Distantly, a group approaches. They might be on foot, on mounts, or in vehicles. They are obvious, they are armed, and very soon, they’re going to step into this place.

Tell us of the story of this group, from the point of view of the battlefield they are about to cross.

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3 comments

  1. Marlee says:

    The sun set with its last rays shining brightly on an old abandoned helmet. For a moment the helmet lit up like silver. The long dead eyes belonging to the head inside had seen countless men die before it. It had seen the valley run with blood, as people fought upon it. The fights had been many, and all had been for different reasons.
    The fight that had led the helmet to be discarded on a hard to get to peak of the mountain had been one of the first, and one of the worst. Tens of thousands of men came together, sword upon sword, spear upon armour, iron upon flesh. No side had come away unscathed. Thousands had died, both those fighting, and those who had peaceably been living in the valley between the two mountains. Two kings had fought. The one king had been insulted by the other, while the other king felt wronged by the first. Neither side had been in the right.
    That war had not ended until both kings heads had been placed upon the top of the highest peaks of the two highest mountains surrounding the valley. The helmet that the sun glinted off now could have been the head of the King who had been insulted. Or it could have been the head of the King who had been wronged. No one knew for sure. Thousands of years had passed since then. Enough that the descendants of those who had miraculously survived the war had long ago forgotten which side their ancestors had fought on. Even the names of those two kings had been forgotten.
    Together, they had seen countless other wards. From the peaceful valley they had come to, each seeking the strategic caves that filled the mountains lining the valley, where a village had prospered happily, the most disputes being arguments about someone stealing another person’s livestock, all resolved peacefully, with no blood shed, the valley had come to be known as the Red Valley.
    The grass upon its earth might now be green, but all anyone saw when they went past was the red of the blood that had been spilled. It might look lush and peaceful, quiet and calm, but no one wanted to stay longer than it took to get across the other side. The people in one kingdom were superstitious. They believed the ghosts of the long dead lingered there, wanting to bring unwary travellers to their deaths. The other kingdom laughed at the very idea, but even they wished not to spend longer than they had to in the Red Valley.
    As the last light of the sun left the valley, the eyes of the long dead king witnessed something that hadn’t happened for a hundred years. Soldiers had begun to fill the valley. Even the long dead king had forgotten which kingdom he was from. The soldiers wore the colours of red and black, much like the colours that were painted on his helmet. Or was that simply blood, rust, and dirt?
    The helmet looked on, the unwanted foreman watching over the soldiers as they entered the valley under the cover of darkness. All of them, young and old, carried a sword around their waist. Some carried spears, and still others carried shields over their left or right arms. The fact that they didn’t mill around the entrance to the valley alone would have told the dead king that what they were up to was no good. Their battle gear only strengthened this fact.
    Among the soldiers were a few knights. They took command, ordering the soldiers to spread out, and to find caves. If the king had still been alive, he would have known this tactic all to well, for it was the same one both he and his enemy king had attempted. These soldiers that may or may not have been the descendants of the very soldiers with which he had marched into battle were planning on setting an ambush. It would appear that they planned on lying in wait, hiding in the caves that filled the mountains, until their own enemy had walked into their trap.
    Had the dead king been alive he would have wondered if people learned anything from history. Instead, he sat there, a head, looking over what could very well have been a repeated slaughter.
    The soldiers set themselves up in the caves they had chosen, and as the night wore on more and more filled the caves. Finally, in the valley below, no spot of red or black could be seen, as they had all hidden themselves away.
    Across the valley, on the top of the other highest mountain, the other helmet started to receive attention from the sun. It lit up from behind as the sun began to rise. The morning progressed onwards, much as most other mornings that had passed before. No one walked through the valley, nothing could be seen, bar the few goats that sometimes made it over the mountains and decided to settle in the valley where they could be free, wandering from place to place, finding the tastiest grass to eat.
    Finally, from the other side of the valley to where the soldiers the night before had come in, a much smaller group of knights began to enter the valley. This group consisted of twenty knights, unlike the hundreds of soldiers who had filled the caves in the mountains. Hampering them further was the young person in their midst. In the middle of the twenty knights was a woman. Her dress was long, and elegant. It was identifiably expensive, and not at all the sort of dress one would wear on any long journey. And her journey had quite obviously been long. Her feet were shod in boots far too big for her, borrowed from a farmer in a village they had passed, and stuffed with cloth to stop her from tripping. She wore a cloak about her shoulders, despite the heat of the Summer months, with a hood atop her head. It was only in the valley that she took it off, passing the cloak to one of the knights who had apparently been appointed to baby sitter.
    The helmet watched as the Princess, and her procession of knights passed unharmed through the valley. When they were halfway through, the soldiers filed out from the mountains. Had the king whose head was now atop the peak been alive, he may have worried about the life of the Princess. He may have worried that this was what the soldiers had been laying in wait for.
    Or he may have noticed the bright, new green and silver colours the knights wore. The ones that had obviously never been worn before. He might have noticed the comfort and ease the Princess in red and black with the knights apparently from the other kingdom. He might have realised the part they played in rescuing her. Or, given the intelligence he’d shown when he had started a war over being insulted – or possibly wronged – he wouldn’t have noticed anything at all.
    Whatever the dead king may or may not have noticed had he been alive, the soldiers stayed in their caves as the knights and the Princess between them made their way at her pace to the other side of the valley, where they left, without any trouble being started by the soldiers in their caves.
    It wasn’t much later that more knights, and soldiers began to flood into the valley. When they were halfway across the soldiers who had been lying in wait for the better half of two days came out, and began to attack those who approached them. By the time the fighting stopped, the Princess was safely at home within her own walls, having been rescued from the other kingdom, by knights who had risked their lives by wearing their enemy kingdom’s colours, breaking into the palace, and taking her back to her own home.

    April 14th, 2014 at 9:26 am

  2. Mel says:

    So many things to like about this one. I like the old kings that have been there so long they have become part of the place. I like that the kings are so interchangeable that they can’t remember who was whom; they went to war because of their similarities, not their differences. And I like that it’s a rescue mission rather than war.

    A refreshing take on the situation. 🙂

    April 15th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

  3. Leeseedee says:

    Everything is going up completely unedited. Can you tell I had spent the last two days watching GoT?

    Blood calls for blood.
    The fields of Rondelan lay quiet. The field was large and flat, not a tree, a shrub or a boulder to break up the wide expanse. What there was was vines criss-crossing the ground, tied up inside itself so that it was impossible to see where one vine began or ended. The result was the illusion of one giant snake coiled upon itself.
    Once these vines were lush green, with flowers the size of a mans fist blossoming in a red so vibrant it made all other colours seem dull in comparison. There was once so many, they piled on top of one another to almost a meter in height. Those days were long over, and what was left of the them were tinged with brown. The last of the flowers that bloomed were filled with rot and their red struggled to break the brown of decay.
    The field knew it was dying. It was a forgotten beast of a time past when great battles were fought over it. It once had the power to call blood, to make a mens pulse beat faster and evoke in man the bloodlust that led to the frenzy of battle. Neighbours, who had once been friends, found themselves on opposite sides with bloodied sword in hand, raging battles over fake arguments and invisible slights.
    At the end, the bodies of the fallen were left on the ground. Their blood would seep into the ground, nourishing the monster. For a time the field would grow, the vines covering the bodies, pulling them in, and the place would become one of reverence where relatives of those who died would come to pray forgiveness and to give thanks for the time of peace that was now upon them. But all too soon, the vines would retract, the flowers would rot, and the field would once again call for blood.
    This time call was an anguished cry as the field hungered for a blood it had not tasted in all too long. It had felt the travellers long before they had arrived. Their footfalls reverberated through the ground like a song. The slumbering monster had awakened and the flowers had turned their petals to the travellers. New buds, the sad little red amongst a sea of brown, had emerged and strained to reach the travellers, trying to pull them in.
    Blood answers blood.
    The travellers camped near the edge of the field. The beast felt them there. As night fell, the beast shifted and moved. Like restless cattle, the beast felt the travellers shift against it. They were scared. The beast began to croon, the flowers and vines beckoned, and the blood of the men began to quicken. As day broke, the men saw that what yesterday seemed an impossible maze of vines had become a labyrinth; still difficult to cross but with a distinct path laid out in front go it. The men argued amongst themselves and the beast twined itself around them, weaving the heat and anger around itself, bathing in it.
    The men began to walk. Behind them came trucks. The beast licked one, it’s tongue of power claiming the machine as its own. The beast could hear the men arguing. He knew they would leave the machine behind, the fear of the field making them wasn’t to leave. The beast tasted the machine. Their blood was oil, their bodies a mix of metal and heat. The beast liked these machines. They were more that the swords and mail of past, they were complex and tasted like fire and ask.
    It was at the middle of the field the beast struck. With each step the beast sang to the men’s blood. Finally it struck. The vines shifted, weaving a circle around the men and leaving them no room to move. The men started like horses and began to freak. They argued, their blood raising. Some tried to be calm and rational. The beast sung them them, spearing fear into their blood.
    War truly begins when the first blood is spilled.
    A man pulled his weapon and shot. The blood spurted, the drops falling to the earth. The ground strained at it eagerly, each blade of grass stretching itself to slurp at it. The man fell, and a stream of blood fed into the ground. The men screamed. More shots were fired and more blood coated the ground. The beast roared in delight, each drop feeding its frenzy.
    The men tore and screamed and shot and fell. The machines came to life, like mechanical soldiers they too drew blood and had blood drawn. Finally, after a day of fighting, a side was declared winner. The beast whispered to them, demanding the last of the blood. The winners lined up the losers and shot them, one by one. After that was done, the beast felt the winners sadness, and encouraged them to do what needed to be done. As the last man turned his weapon to his head to the trigger, the field let go of the bloodlust. The man pulled the gun away, back in control of himself. He saw the carnage that was around him, and ran in fear. The beast let him go.
    When the man returned two days later, this time in chains, followed by a new group of men, they found no sign of the battle. The field was green, greener than any field ever seen, with a covering of vines as high as a man’s knee. The vines were sprouting red flowers so vibrant it made all other colours seem dull in comparison.
    The chained man knelt at the edge of the field and prayed for forgiveness.
    Plaques were erected and crosses were placed at the edge of the field. People came and prayed. The field was remembered again. On an on it flourished. The beast lay, satiated, waiting for the day that the flowers stopped blooming and vines grew less, when blood was once again needed.
    Blood for blood.

    April 16th, 2014 at 10:29 pm