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Illustrated Short Stories

Some of these stories were inspired by the accompanying artwork, while others are stories based in roleplaying sessions.

Enjoy!

Umta

Xenograg has been training Amaltea to help her regain confidence during battle. Through magic he creates an illusion real enough for this purpose. The scenarios vary from session to session.

"Do you want to wear real armor, or shall I create it for you?" asks Xenograg.

"I'll let you create it. If you don't mind." Amaltea replies. Xenograg walks over to the other side of the room and turns to face her.

"Here we go...." Xenograg begins to gesture and speak in a strange tongue as Amaltea watches him. She draws her sword as the room begins to warp. The noise of a crowd begins to grow louder. Xenograg fades as the illusion takes shape. Amaltea is in a gladiatorial arena! She finds herself dressed in a tight two-piece, a shield lies at her feet. The crowd cheers and jeers. Amaltea notices the shield and drops to one knee to pick it up.

"Umta! Umta! Umta! Umta!" The crowd chants. The gate across from her begins to rise and a six-foot mountain of flesh walks out. Amaltea swallows hard. He/it looks at the crowd, raises his arms, and laughs.

"Umta! Umta! Umta!" Umta turns and grins at Amaltea, short tusks sticking up out of its mouth. The face is flat and ugly. Umta draws a thick-bladed sword and adjusts the shield on his left arm. He starts walking toward Amaltea.

"Umta! Umta! Umta!" continues the crowd. Amaltea moves to the side, her eyes locked on Umta. He turns toward her new location.

"Come on, Pretty. Let's see what you've got," taunts Umta. He settles into a stance and closes the last few feet carefully. She can now see he has red eyes. Umta quickly swings his blade over his head and down. Amaltea raises her shield to protect herself. The blow crashes hard against her shield, jamming her shoulder and making her wince. Umta has his shield low and center, protecting his open belly. Amaltea rolls with the blow, off to the side.

"Afraid, Frail? Heheheh." Amaltea drops to a half-kneeling position and swings her sword, Tarillion, at his legs. Umta bends at the knee and blocks Tarillion with the shield, thrusting straight out as he does so. Amaltea swats his sword to the side with her shield but gets cut across the right breast. It is only a scratch but painful. Amaltea moves back and away from the beast. She doesn't look at her cut, but feels the burning pain. Umta slides in towards her, shield held low and sword at throat level. The crowd boos Amaltea. She raises her shield to stop his sword and aims for his left arm. Umta bats the attack away with no effort, and taps her shield lightly - an insult.

"Try again. Try harder." Amaltea moves to the side and feints a thrust slashing low at his thigh while keeping her shield up. Umta falls for the feint and Amaltea nicks him just below the knee. He hisses at her. Amaltea tries to hit his face with her shield but he steps away before she can. Umta turns to face her again but not as quickly as before. He slashes down diagonally with a roar. Amaltea steps aside and circles him quickly, hoping he won't be able to turn fast enough. She again aims for Umta's legs and, just as Umta swings his sword, Tarillion strikes solidly upon a knee. The blow causes Umta to howl in pain, and his own attack is weakened by the distraction. It results in only a cut on the inside of Amaltea's right forearm. Amaltea almost drops Tarillion as a small cry escapes her lips as well. Her fingers feel tingly. Umta limps back a few steps, his entire calf red from flowing blood.

"You'll pay for that, bitch!" yells Umta.

"We'll see..." replies Amaltea. The crowd begins cheering again as the action increases. Umta sets his feet carefully and in an unorthodox stance. Amaltea continues maneuver in circles, making Umta turn on his weakened left leg. Amaltea now takes the initiative: shield over her chest as if to ram him, sword thrusting under the shield. Pivoting on his wounded leg, Umta deflects her thrust off his shield to the left. She, in turn, gets in under his overhead smash. His blade carries his arm over her back without hitting. Umta tries to adjust his grip to cut her but she's close and low. They both move apart, Umta with a slight stagger and glassy-eyed.

Amaltea moves to his right. Umta keeps his shield and sword in front of him, back stepping with his right foot to keep facing her. He slashes his sword back and forth horizontally and his shield hangs low to guard the wounded knee. Amaltea advances on his right, then quickly drops on one knee. She swings Tarillion in a horizontal arc, keeping the shield above her head. Umta parries Tarillion with his sword but not with his former strength.

Umta swings overhead again, taking a step forward as he chops. Amaltea rolls to the side, and Umta almost loses his balance from the swing. He begins to turn back towards her, pivoting on his bad left leg. Amaltea snaps Tarillion vertical and thrusts up, stabbing Umta in the side just under his ribs. His swing hits her in the right shoulder but only with the flat of the blade! Amaltea slips out as Umta drops his sword arm to his side, obviously fighting to stand. Amaltea steps back in and stabs Umta again in the abdomen then slides the blade across his belly. The crowd is in a frenzy!

Amaltea cuts without looking, then draws Tarillion free and walks away. Blood and intestines spew out of wound. Umta collapses, moaning on ground. Amaltea looks back at him. A man in the crowd bellows down to her while pointing to left side of his neck - the location of the carotid artery.

"Give him a merciful death!" he shouts. Amaltea kneels next to Umta, resting her sword on his neck, closes her eyes and quickly kills him.

"Thea! Thea! Thea! Thea!" chants the crowd. Feeling sick, Amaltea's whole body shakes as she stands. Umta's body starts to fade away, then the arena. Her wounds disappear and her shield dissolves. Amaltea stands in the empty room, holding Tarillion and looking down.

Story written by Adam Falk and Isaura Simon, illustrated by Isaura Simon


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