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[Voting] December 2018 Writing Contest
  • The Zelda Universe Writing Contest, December 2018:

    It's finally that time again! You've waited another two whole months to cast some votes in a ZU Writing Contest because no one entered the November contest! Luckily, we got a walloping five entries for December, which is a record for this incarnation of the ZU Writing Contest! I think we can safely attribute it to the new theme format, which is now less of a theme and more of a prompt. Speaking of, the prompt this month, which probably makes no sense to those living below the Equator, is "Something in the snow."

    Happy reading and voting!

    Here's what should influence your votes:
    • plot (if applicable)
    • writing style
    • structure
    • how well and/or creatively they follow the prompt, "Something in the snow" (Remember when considering this that some writers may choose to follow the prompt in wildly different ways.)
    • how well the entries resonate with you and your interests (You shouldn't let this dictate your votes entirely, however. ;))
    To vote, simply make a post in this thread containing the numbers (and/or titles, if you so wish) of up to two entries that you would wish to see win this contest. (Note that you cannot vote twice for the same entry.) Our entrants would also greatly appreciate any feedback that you can provide for their works as you vote for them, although it is not required. (If you don't have the time or energy, you can just put the numbers of the entries you're voting for.) You cannot vote for your own entry; if you do so, your vote will not be counted, and that would be such a waste!


    The winner(s) will be able to pick the next contest prompt, and their entry/-ies will be featured in the Creator's Retreat thread and the results thread. The runner-up(s) will also have their entry/-ies featured in the results thread.

    If you have any questions regarding the voting process or the Writing Contest(s) as a whole, please contact me directly, either via my wall or via Conversation/PM. I would ask that you please reserve all posts in this thread for votes only, so as to make my life easier when I tally up the votes at the end.


    Entry #1: "Revelations" (original short story) [contains strong language]
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    “Ya know, when they said dead body over the scanner, this wasn’t what I was expecting.”

    Perched on top of the once grassy knoll overlooking the Erie Canal, Erin slid down the rocks leading to the old tow pass, incredibly thankful she wore her boots even though the six feet of snow which blanketed the landscape on the way here was conspicuously missing, coming up next to where Gut was standing, camera cradled in his hand. Next to him was Liam and Kelsey - Liam’s camera shutter constantly clicking while Kelsey was setting up her video camera tripod on what stable ground remained.

    “No fucking kidding,” Erin agreed, carefully edging next to her co-worker and quickly greeting the blogger and freelancer, the two older reporters waving back. “What the hell happened?”

    “Dunno,” Gut shrugged, raising the viewfinder to his eye and snapped a photo of the first responders working inside what remained of this section of the canal before turning his lens to the half melted lift bridge about 500 feet away. If she didn't know better, Erin would think she was at the site of a meteorite impact. “Police haven’t talked to us, but I can safely say when I came down here I thought it was gonna be, ya know, human. I don't even know what I'm looking at right now.”

    Erin nodded in agreement, taking her phone out - and even though 7:06 p.m. flashed on the screen, the entire area was lit up like the Fourth of July despite being in the dead of winter - and snapped a photo. This was gonna be hell of a story to tell later. After all, it wasn’t every day the bones of what appeared to be a literal fucking giant just destroyed a national landmark with fire and brimstone. Erin couldn’t wait to hear what the actual fuck was going on. Even if she couldn't get closer to the edge of the canal to get a better look without facing the danger of falling in or having the cops yell at her to stay back, she could see the skeleton was huge; something which looked like a femur bone (her crime show binge watching had to be good for something) seemed to be the same size as a grade schooler and if Liam, Gut and Kelsey sat on each other’s shoulders and layed down next to the remains, it would still be bigger. Not to mention the bones were charred a deep black and looked like they would break apart, their ashes floating to the wind, if they were simply brushed against. It was hard, however, to look at them for too long though considering they were still on fire and the way the skeletal arm reached toward the sky made Erin's stomach turn.

    “To be fair, they look human enough and it is a dead body,” Kelsey said, jumping into the conversation. “But check this out.”

    The other three journalists didn’t need to be told twice, carefully making their way over to the ruins of the Erie Canal the video freelancer set up at, her camera pointed into the nearby hole and the middle-aged woman using the light from her phone to chase away the shadows. Squinting, it took a moment to see what Kelsey was pointing at.

    “Are those feathers?!” Liam exclaimed, leaning further over the side only to backpedal when the ground underneath his feet began to cave in.

    Yet sure enough, embedded in the bedrock was the intricate imprint of feathers in explicit detail. Swallowing a lump in her throat, Erin raised her head and noted five other cave-ins around the skeleton - two toward the head, two around the torso and the remaining two by the feet where the four of them were currently gathered.

    “Is …” Erin licked her lips and turned to the other three. “Are any of you thinking 'angel' or is it, ya know, just me?”

    “Well I was thinking aliens, but yeah, no, that’s a much better guess,” Gut said, before dropping his voice. “Although if this is a fallen angel, we should probably get a priest down here instead. Have them bring some holy water. Maybe that will put out the fire.”

    “I know you’re joking, but I think that’s a good idea to be honest,” Liam said, pulling out his phone, before his brow furrowed and a frown overtook his face. “What the-“ Bringing his face closer to his screen he pulled back with a scream.

    “What the fuck Plakn?” Gut swore only for Liam to shove the phone in the other man’s face, Erin joining Kelsey in looking over the photographer’s shoulder.

    It didn’t take long to see what freaked the blogger out. If the small news outlets thought they were going to break the story of a lifetime they were 10 minutes too late; on Liam’s Facebook newsfeed was a single drone picture of the Grand Canyon and inside it was a towering figure which the photo caption said was three stories tall. Surrounding it?

    Six pair of wings.

    Entry #2: "Blood Upon the Snow" (original short story)
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    Isabelle was distraught. The cold air bit into her skin, and she shivered. It was a struggle to make it home in the snow. Where was she coming from? Her mind was clouded. All she wanted was to return to her family, to sit by the fire and feel its warmth. She was getting close, but the cold... it was almost too much. Her breath was like billowing smoke, and it came in gasps.

    She noticed something up ahead, sticking out of the snow. It drew her towards it, and for some reason, she felt dread. It was the hilt of a dagger. Isabelle slowly grasped it and pulled it out. Blood was frozen onto the blade.

    "What is this doing here?" she whispered, "why is my father's dagger in the snow?" Her feeling of dread intensified. She pocketed the blade and continued on. She would ask him when she returned.

    So close now... she could see the frozen fields of her home, blanketed in white. Her heart soared with happiness when the cottage came into view. "Almost home, almost home," she muttered, stumbling along. When she approached the gate to her yard she saw more blood. Her dread turned to fear, and she ran to her door.

    "Oh god, no, please be alright, please be alright..." Isabelle took hold of the handle, and slowly pushed the door open. The dagger felt heavy inside her jacket. She stepped inside, the air just as cold on her flesh. She saw blood, and it was everywhere. No bodies. Isabelle screamed.

    "What is this? What has happened? Where's my mother?! Father! Carol! Where-" The dagger fell from her pocket, and the sound made her jump. She reached out to steady herself, but there was nothing. She fell to the floor, and her face reflected off the blade.

    Carol was her younger sister. Her mother made clothes for the people in their village, and her father was a fisherman. They did not have much money, so the thought of burglary never crossed her mind. She lay there shocked, and scared. After what felt like an eternity, she got to her feet. She stared down at the dagger for a long time.

    "What was I doing out in the snow?" she asked it, and turned around slowly. The door was still ajar, and she could see a path like something was dragged from the house. It was the same path she had followed home. Isabelle began shivering again, but it wasn't from the air this time. It was from the dread.

    Entry #3: "Our Joy (original short story)
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    Two weeks left until Christmas Break. Just two more weeks! I could hardly wait to be free of school! Junior year of a four-year college was one of the toughest, and I had my job at the bakery on top of that.
    “Hey! Cassy!” someone calls from outside. I look out my window and smile; my boyfriend, Jacob, stands below my second story bedroom window in the white, freshly fallen snow. “Are you ready yet!?”
    I open the small window and lean out. My long, black hair rustles in the cold breeze. “You know you can come inside!”
    He smiles broadly. “I know. I just want to stand out here to make you hurry so I don’t freeze and die.”
    I grin back and slip back inside my warm bedroom. Jacob is taking me out to dinner for the first time this month. We’ve been dating for about a year or so. I still can’t believe that we are sometimes.
    I quickly finish doing my hair and pull on my big, red, winter coat. Jacob greets me with a gentle kiss as I step out of the front door. His dark, chocolate brown skin against my coffee colored skin. His large hands holding me close. This is what I want never to stop.
    “Come on, our pizza is waiting,” he says when we finally part. Jacob’s red 2005 Honda minivan is parked a few feet away, covered in snow. We are both major pizza fans and always went to Freddy’s Pizza Parlor together. Nothing could go wrong with pizza.
    I climb into the van’s passenger seat and turn on the radio. Though it was only a fifteen minute drive into town through the sparkling, white countryside, I loved to listen to music to keep my brain active.

    “Man, I’m so full of stuffed crust, cheesy pizza that I probably gained five pounds,” Jacob jokes as we exit the pizza parlor. I laugh along with him as we walk back to his minivan. “I don’t think I could even swallow without barfing it all back up! Well, I guess then I’d be able to eat some more…”
    “Well, you did eat five slices,” I add in, still laughing. “I only ate three.”
    “So? I’m a growing man.”
    “I’m not a fan of chubs,” I joke, poking his flat, muscled stomach. “But don’t worry, you have a lot to gain before you become one.”
    We laugh, joke, and kiss all the way back to my small two-story house in the country. Christmas carols play out from the radio. It definitely is the most wonderful time of the year.
    “What’s that?” Jacob asks as he pulls into my driveway behind my black 2007 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. I follow his gaze to a medium sized cardboard box covered with a blanket and a layer of snow.
    “I don’t know,” I reply, climbing out of the car. Approaching the box, I can hear little rustles coming from it. I crouch down and carefully lift the old, torn blanket; I gasp with shock.
    Jacob crouches down beside me, “what-”
    He tenses when he looks into the box. Inside, wrapped in blankets, is a little baby girl, maybe about a year old. The child is fast asleep as I lift it up out of the cardboard box. “Poor child, to be left all alone. Who left her here?”
    Jacob doesn’t answer.
    “Jacob? I think I’m going to take care of her.”
    He finally looks up. “What?”
    “She has no one, so I’m going to take care of her!”
    “But, do you know how?”
    “Yes, I worked as a nanny over the summer for the last two years.”
    Jacob sighs. “What are we going to name her?”
    I give a start. “We?”
    “Well, naturally, I thought we’d raise her together…”
    I kiss him, cutting him off. “Thank you! I knew that you’d understand! And I think we’ll name her Abbie, which means ‘gives joy’.”
    “Abbie...I love it.”
    We bring little Abbie into my house. After setting her down on the couch, I turn to Jacob. “Now that we have a little girl, we’ve got to get married.”
    “Well, I was hoping you’d say that, eventually,” he replies. Getting down on one knee, Jacob produces a small velvet box. Inside was a small, diamond ring. “Cassy Peterson, will you consent to marrying me?”
    “Oh, Jacob! Yes! Yes!”

    And, indeed, we married a couple of months later. Our precious Abbie grew and grew along with our joy. Now, it has been a full year since. We are celebrating are little girl’s 2nd birthday. Merry Christmas, to you all!

    Entry #4: "Soft Teardrops" (original short story)
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    It was said that the tree had been there as long as the clouds had been traveling overhead, storing the secrets of the humans that gazed at them and forging them into stars inside their cores of silver. To call it a tree hardly made sense, for its branches scraped at the very heavens, and in each of its deep, dark, rich branches, its caretakers could fit comfortably. It was here these people made their homes, these scions of the Earth itself, embraced by the grand tree’s bounty of fruit and flowers. It was said these people were as soft and light as flowers, drifting between heaven and Earth. Or maybe they were just seeds of a greater civilization yet to come. On one of those days where the clouds seemed to spin in circles, led by the Sun glowing a bit more gently than ever, where you want to do nothing more than sleep beneath the sky’s silent dance, one such flower drifted up, and up… and up. Perhaps the child wanted to reach the Sun, and join in the conducting of the clouds’ grand dance. Or maybe it was the green of the leaves, an entrancing emerald blanket that could only be found in the foliage that was the very closest to the sky. She drifted up and up, further than anyone had dared to, further than she knew in her heart she was told not to go, her peculiar blue cloak swaying behind her, flapping quicker and quicker as she climbed and climbed. Then blue melted into white, and the Sun stood still, and the birds’ songs grew silent, and she knew she had reached the top. And as she stood there, the clouds embraced her and flew her into their palace of pure white. The cloud-people murmured to her, singing songs of ancient love, and of eternity. It softened her heart, and in return, she spoke back. Not in the calming whisper if the cloud-people, but in a steady, confident voice that had never been heard so far above the ground. She spoke of hate, of pain, and of loss. These thoughts were heavy, and sat in the hearts of the clouds, weighing them down. But when she told them of forgiveness, of recovery, and of acceptance, these doubts could fade away. The weights in their hearts shed their layers, falling as tears to the world below. The clouds cried and cried, for the humans and their pain, but also for their lives that could be fuller because they knew pain. These pure tears fell to the ground as the first snowfall. The pure, soft tears coated the world in a blanket of cold, but also painted it in white, renewing it until it was touched by humans again. Once the tears of these thoughts were shed, and only their cores remained, the cloud-people cast them into the sky. The cores of these hopeful yet tragic thoughts stuck in the sky, dotting the world above with glowing lights that could guide humans in the dark of night. The darkness that seemed all-encompassing was now filled with dots of hope. And the final sacrifice of the sky people was to feel the hate and pain and loss of humans themselves. They released the girl, sending her back down to the world below, giving up the one who had given them everything. Once she descended back to the world below, carried by feathery wings of silk, she landed on a field of open snow. Her bare foot sank into the clouds’ tears, tears she forged, tears she shed with them, leaving the world’s first imprint, a single step in the snow.

    Entry #5: "A Snowy Day on Pellon Pekko Ranch" (Zelda series fanfic)
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    An early morning, dark and grey; the sun had yet to rise into the cloudy skies above the snow-covered lands of New Hyrule.

    In the southwest reaches, within a clearing in the vast Deku Forest, lay Pellon Pekko Ranch. It consisted of a grand farmhouse with a barn and a cucco coop beside it, all surrounded by snowy farmland.

    It was still dark when the cuccos crowed. Inside of the farmhouse, a red- and longhaired woman stirred and opened her blue eyes. Her name was Mielikki, and though she knew the brown-haired and stocky man she lay beside was still sleeping she made no attempt to wake him.

    She looked at herself in her bedside mirror. She was very beautiful, which was a trait all her daughters had inherited from her, and she was of a slender physique and taller than her husband, which nearly all her daughters were as well.

    She put on her dressing gown and a pair of slippers, and with a kiss to her husband's bulbous nose she said, “Just you wait here, Tapio; I'll come back with a mushroom stew.”

    Elsewhere others woke up too. Two young twin girls, who both had long red hair and blue eyes, burst out from one of the many bedrooms, laughing and shouting to one another. As Mielikki exited the master bedroom, they ran past her and down the stairs.

    “Tuulikki! Tyytikki! Be careful, and remember to dress warmly!” She smiled as she too went down the stairs.

    She could hear the front door open and both felt and heard the wind outside as the twins answered, “Okay, mom!” and shut the front door.

    She made her way to the spacious kitchen, put on her apron, and began to prepare Tapio's stew.

    Upstairs, a while later, two more doors opened as two young women with red hair and blue eyes exited their bedrooms.

    “Good morning, Nyyrikki,” said the younger of the two, whose hair was long just like her mother and younger sisters'.

    “Morning.” Nyyrikki's hair was much shorter and unlike her mother and younger sisters she wore a shirt and a pair of pants instead of a dress. “Did the twerps wake you up too, Tellervo?”

    “Do you really have to call them that? They are just having fun.” Tellervo yawned as she rubbed her eyes. “But to answer your question: no, I've been up for far longer actually. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep so I instead took the time to "practice" my "knitting"; I've got the final touches of my project done.”

    Nyyrikki nodded knowingly.

    “Has there been any progress in your archery practice, Nyyrikki?”

    Nyyrikki was about to answer when another bedroom door opened. Out of it came the oldest, tallest and strongest built of the sisters. Her hair was by far the shortest and she was too dressed in a shirt and a pair of pants instead of a dress.

    “I agree with Tell; there's no reason to call 'em twerps, Nyy, even if they did wake us both up.” She crossed her arms.

    Nyyrikki looked away from her older sister. “I didn't mean anything bad when I said that, Annikki.”

    Tellervo stepped in between the two. “Wasn't Grog coming here early?”

    “Hm…? Yeah! Yeah, he was! Thanks, Tell!” Annikki then rushed past them and down the stairs, shouting up the stairs as she went down, “You can help me with breakfast, Nyy!”

    Nyyrikki started to follow but stopped by the stairs and said with a tinge of red on her cheeks, “Tellervo, …do you think Link is coming today?”

    Tellervo's cheeks lit up as well. “Well…, no, I think he'll be celebrating at the castle. Why do you ask?

    “Uh, no reason; just curious! I'll see you downs— Good morning, mom!”

    “Good morning, Nyyrikki. Could I please get past? I've made your father some mushroom stew.” Mielikki was carrying the stew on a tray.

    “Yeah, sure, mom.” Nyyrikki stepped aside to let her through, and then went downstairs.

    Mielikki opened her and Tapio's bedroom door. From inside came a shout of joy as Tapio had finally woken up; the smell of the stew having roused him.

    “A mushroom stew; my favorite!” He was eagerly licking his mustachioed smiling lips and rubbing his hands as Mielikki carried it inside.

    Tellervo went to the door and looked inside. “Could I have a taste?”

    He smiled even wider and beckoned her inside. “Of course you can! Come on in, Tellervo!”

    Mielikki placed the tray with the stew on Tapio's lap and gave Tellervo the spoon.

    Tellervo took a spoonful, gave the spoon back to her mother who wiped it clean on her apron and then gave it to Tapio.

    “Hmm! That's so good!” She had tasted it many times before but it was always so good that it caught her off guard.

    “It's perfect!” Tapio had begun to eat in earnest; eating in bursts with breaks in between to savor his beloved stew.

    Tellervo went downstairs and joined her older sisters at the kitchen table where they had prepared breakfast for the rest of the family.

    “Any idea when Tuu and Tyy will be finished playing?” Annikki asked whilst chewing on her bacon.

    The three sisters then heard a knock on the front door as well as muffled giggling, laughing and shushing behind it. Annikki looked at the door expectantly while Nyyrikki and Tellervo exchanged glances.

    Annikki looked back at her sisters in confusion which then turned to shock when she realized who it could be.

    She went to the door and opened it. Behind it was a smiling young man with a bald head, tall and thin physique, and an otherwise sullen face who was covered in snow, and behind him were Tuulikki and Tyytikki. His smile grew wider at the sight of her and he placed his hand at the bag that hung from his belt.

    “Look who we found!” Tuulikki pulled on the man's coat.

    “Uncle Groggy was stuck in the snow!” Tyytikki walked up to Annikki and pointed to a large pile of snow in front of the farmhouse.

    “But we got him out!” Tuulikki hugged Grog's leg.

    “Good job, girls.” Annikki ruffled Tyytikki's hair. “…Wait, uncle? Ugh, don't call him that.”

    “Big brother Groggy then!” both of the girls said together.

    “But he's not your brother either. And it still sounds wrong.”

    “Maybe it could be short for "big brother-in-law".” Grog patted the snow off of him.

    Annikki's cheeks immediately went red. “…What are you trying to say?”

    “Just that I have something for you.” He pulled out a small box out of his bag and presented it to her.

    She stared at it for a while before looking back at him, even redder than before. “You better not be playing a trick on me or I'll punch you so hard you'll feel it all the way into next week.”

    “Open it and see.”

    She took the box and opened it. Inside of it was a plain silver ring. She looked back up at him with tears welling up in her eyes.

    “Would you marry me, Annikki?”

    Tuulikki and Tyytikki both squealed and jumped up and down. “Say yes! Say yes! Say yes!”

    She sighed and wiped her eyes. “Tuu, Tyy, go inside.”

    They both immediately stopped jumping. “…Aren't you going to—”

    Annikki opened the front door. “Now.”

    “…Okay.” They both went inside.

    Annikki closed the door behind them. “I appreciate the effort you put into all this but did you really have to get 'em involved?”

    “…They came up with the plan and they were a necessary part in that plan. …I'm guessing you didn't really like it.”

    “No, I wanted to keep this just between the two of us. Why did you need a plan? You could have just asked me.”

    “Dad told me I had to make it "special" but I didn't how to do that.” He looked away as he sighed. “…So what's your answer?”

    “Yes, obviously.” She took the ring out of the box, put the box back in his hand, and put the ring on her finger. She then grasped his other hand and opened the door so they could go inside.

    He put the box back in his bag. “…I guess I should have known better than to listen to my dad's advice.”

    “Let's just go inside.”

    They went inside where Tapio and Mielikki had finally come down to join the rest in the kitchen.

    Tapio grinned ear to ear when he saw Annikki and Grog come in. “How did it go, Grog?”

    Annikki's cheeks reddened again. “You talked to them about it too?”

    Grog sighed. “…Dad told me I had to ask them for their "blessing", whatever that means.”

    “And what did they say?”

    “That I didn't need to ask such silly questions.”

    “Never listen to your dad's "advice" ever again.”

    Tyytikki ran up to the two. “You didn't answer dad's question!”

    Tuulikki was eating a sandwich slathered in strawberry jam as she asked, “Did you say yes, Annikki?”

    Annikki, even redder than before, sighed and rolled her eyes. “Of course I said yes! Can we drop it now?”

    Tapio all of a sudden stood up and patted Grog hard on the back. “Grog, my boy, you're now part of the family!

    “And I'm so happy for you, my darling Annikki!” he said as he lifted her up in a spine-crushing hug before putting her down again.

    “This day couldn't be any better!”

    “Tapio, dear?” Mielikki tapped him on the shoulder.

    “Yes, Mielikki?”

    “You haven't forgotten about the feast we're going to have today, have you?”

    “…That's right! Then we have to start right now!”

    And so they did. They all took on their specific roles and worked as hard and as fast as they could. In between all the work they also took the time to take care of their animals.

    A few hours later, to the north through the forest at a snow-covered and icy cape in a smaller house with small vegetable patches and a few boats kept on land around it, a man and a woman were busy getting ready to venture down to Pellon Pekko Ranch.

    “Sweetie! What's taking you so long? We need to get going.” The woman, who looked much alike to her sister Mielikki, was already finished and ready to go waiting by the front door.

    Upstairs there was the sound of a lot of rummaging and walking around.

    The man, who looked much alike his older twin brother Tapio, though he was taller and thinner, was quite angry at the moment. “I can't find my gift for Tapio!”

    “Ahti, I've got it right here; I packed it yesterday along with the other gifts! Don't you remember?”

    Ahti let out a loud sigh. “Of course, of course, of course.” He went down the stairs. “What would I do without you, Vellamo?

    “Can't even do something as simple as remembering what we've already packed.”

    Vellamo went over to him and hugged him. “There, there; no need to be so down on yourself.” She kissed him on the cheek. “Now, let's go.”

    And so they left the house and wandered through the Deku Forest for a few hours more till they arrived at Pellon Pekko Ranch.

    It had then begun to get dark again. More snow had piled up outside and they had a bit of trouble getting to the front door but they managed it at last. They knocked on the door and it was soon opened by a smiling Tapio.

    “Ahti and Vellamo, you've come just in time; the feast is all finished! Now come on in into the warmth.”

    They stepped inside where they were met by the smell and sight of every foodstuff. Their mouths started to water and both found themselves smiling ear to ear.

    They added their gifts to the ones at the opposite end of the kitchen and joined the others at the table.

    It all tasted amazing and they ate and ate but they also found the time to talk to one another.

    “So you and Grog are finally getting married, Annikki?” Ahti had noticed the ring on her finger.

    Annikki's face became beet red. “Finally? Did you all know about us?”

    “Of course we did.” Vellamo was wiping her face with a napkin. “You two are very bad at being subtle.”

    Annikki sighed.

    “It doesn't do any good being embarrassed about it, Annikki.” Mielikki put her hand on Tapio's. “Think about how it could make Grog feel. You aren't embarrassed of him, are you?”

    “No, of course not!” She faced Grog. “…When I first met you I thought we'd just be co-workers; that's what I had asked Link to find for me.

    “But seeing just how much you cared for the animals, and how we would meet up on the hill and look at the stars and talk about anything, I felt more and more for you.

    “I love you, …and I want to show it.” She then embraced and kissed Grog.

    The rest of the table cheered and hurrahed. Nyyrikki joined in though she felt decidedly unhappy with herself.

    “I thought the same as you did at first; as that was what Link had told me.” Grog held Annikki's hand in his. He then took his glass with the other and said, “A toast for Link, the man and hero who we owe not only our happiness but our lives as well.”

    All at the table toasted. Even Tuulikki and Tyytikki, who toasted with their juice.

    “Such a shame that father couldn't be here, Ahti.” Tapio sighed deeply as tears began to well up in his eyes. “He would have been so proud of you, Annikki.”

    Ahti put his hand at his brother's shoulder. “This is a time to be happy, Tapio, not one to grieve.” Ahti stood up. “Let us reminisce instead.

    “Our father, Pellon Pekko, was a man of great renown. He once wrestled a bear, twice brought home live boars, five times he had captured a bird in flight with only his hand.

    “He cleared this clearing. He built this house, the barn and the coop by himself. He had tilled the farmlands all by himself for years.

    “He had done all this before ever meeting our mother. They married and had us two.

    “Mother sadly died a few years later in a horrible winter, but father raised us with the same love as before.

    “He had taught us all he'd known when he disappeared. He is long dead.

    “But without him there would be nothing here but woodland. Without mother we wouldn't be here either.

    “We shouldn't grieve, for we have already done so long ago; we should celebrate.”

    The others clapped loudly and cheered.

    It was soon after that when they had finished with the feast.

    They all went over to the gifts and exchanged them with one another.

    All were happy with their gifts though Annikki again became quite flustered when Tellervo's gift turned out to be a wedding dress inspired suit. But she laughed heartily instead of grumbling.

    It was quite late when they all had finished and they all agreed that it was a good time to go to bed.

    They all went to their own bedrooms except for Grog who went to Annikki's. The only bedroom remaining was the one they reserved for Link.

    They all slept soundly through the night as more snow piled up outside. In the morning they would find to their shock that they were snowed in.

    But they were happy all the same.
  • Alright, let’s do this.

    OK so the general concept seems interesting and the descriptions are pretty good all things considering. Personally I enjoy the allusions to the seraphim class of angels with the placement of the six wings and the connection of fire. I personally enjoy it when writers do research and draw on established mythology - however, I do think there could have been more of an attempt at describing the being. There really wasn’t any creative liberties taken in additional descriptions, and all readers really get is that it’s a giant, has six wings and is on fire.

    Speaking of which, the transition into the wings was choppy and could have been done a lot better, and slowly teased more of the otherworldly being. I also think the transition to showing the enormity of the event is also awkward. I also think the story relies a bit too heavily on the name of the story to infer what is going on especially at the end.

    Blood Upon the Snow
    OK this is relying on too much telling than showing. Instead of showing us how the character feels, the author tells us straight up. The finding of the bloody dagger also is a bit lackluster as well. Isabella noticed something. OK, well, how? Did she notice the sun glinting off the bloody blade? Was there a soft red glow which made it stand out against the white landscape? Little details like that can go a long way in setting the mood.

    Then the readers are told via text this is her father’s dagger. The dread feeling could be explained better by describing the situation. Like “even though the handle was stained in blood, Isabella recognized the engraved dragon in the wooden hilt. She saw it every day, at her father’s side, resting at his hip, and sometimes at night, Isabella heard him speaking to it - a lingering momento to his oldest son.”

    While not the best example perhaps, two important details allow readers to infer something went down; the blood was on the handle inferring the father was in some sort danger and expressing her father had a sentimental value attached to it leads further into the sense of shit just got real. Continuing to use small details like that especially environmental descriptions would have gone a long way in setting the sense of horror the author was trying to go for here.

    Like I get the idea Isabella killed them, and I am down for the murder creepy vibe. I enjoy the concept, but for a horror mystery, it needs descriptions of the environment and small aside to really sell it.

    Our Joy
    OK so this has a “this happened then this happened” sort of feel in rapid succession. It’s kind of jarring and hard to follow. Not to mention it’s very dialogue heavy and I really couldn’t get attached to the characters.

    The descriptions, when they were there, weren’t bad. It feels more like descriptors for like a script, which makes the flow of the story so choppy. And if there was spacing between every paragraph it wouldn’t feel like I’m reading a text block.

    This could have been a lot better if the author took their time to set the scene and play out the descriptions. Also as a suggestion, I think it might have been better from a POV change - from whoever left the child at their doorstep. Since why there? Why not at a hospital? Or child care services? I think them watching in the shadows as their baby is picked up by a loving couple could really drive home a bittersweet but happy ending.

    Soft Teardrops
    OK so this is one big ass text block. Stating this right now it would make it easier to read if it was broken into paragraphs.

    That said this was beautifully written with amazing descriptions. I like the mythos like feeling of it, though unfortunately I really wasn’t sure what was going on and it was a bit hard to follow.

    Snowy Day on Pellon Pakon Ranch
    Holy hell this is long. I like the descriptions and the way it’s written is in the way of one of those old picture books. Like those once upon a time picture books, especially when it’s the beginning of a movie.

    I think this is a story which is obviously part of a larger mythology which isn’t bad, it’s just if you don’t know the characters it’s hard to get attached or care much about them in this short period. I think situations like proposals require a slow burn to really come off well for the emotional payoff. I think this also is very dialogue heavy and has a bit of the lesser issue that Our Joy where it was like from one thing to another. It was hard for me to get attached or really care about what was going on knowing it’s part of a larger world which I know nothing of and need background to get.

    Voting: Soft Teardrops

    :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
    Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
    Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
  • Right, so

    Revelations: Right off the bat, it's hard to tell who is actually saying the opening line. I'm guessing it's Gut, but it's kinda hard to tell. Then there's the line "What the fuck Plakn" which, like, who or what is Plakn? It kinda comes out of nowhere. There are also a handfull of minor language errors. That said, it's an enjoyable and interesting read, and I liked its take on biblical mythology. I'd love to read what happens next. :3

    Blood Upon the Snow: I feel that the big twist doesn't really satisfy, honestly. It kinda feels like it's trying to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. And like, why did Isabelle kill her family, and how did she somehow forget about it until getting home? I think giving an explanation about what happened - or perhaps, some tantalizing clues - could really help make this an exciting story. The potential is certainly there.

    Our Joy: I feel like the characters behave kinda unnatural. Like, you find a baby on your doorstep and you never ask how she got there, or why? And you never consider maybe, like, finding her a good home instead of adopting her? Adopting a child is a life-altering decision and both Cassy and Jacob just do it without a second thought. Likewise, Cassy just has a name ready, complete with meaning, no thought required. And Jacob already had a wedding ring ready? After only a year of dating? These characters feel less like people and more like set pieces ordered to move a certain way to provide the right outcome.

    Then there's the fact that two college students trying to raise a child, to me, sounds like a less than ideal family situation. In reality, I can only imagine this ends with both parents spending the rest of their lives working crummy dead-end jobs desperately trying to make ends meet while also trying to find time to take care of their child. Also, present-tense narration really feels awkward when at the end there's a "oh bee tee dubs that all happened last year" at the end.

    That said, the story's spelling and grammar are on point.

    Soft Teardrops: First off: this story really really really needs to be broken up into paragraphs. The giant-ass block of text is just painful to read, and it really hampers my enjoyment of an otherwise very interesting story. I do enjoy the feel of it, like it came from a collection of myths. It's a fascinating glimpse into the creation of a world, and I would love to see more of it. Just please get on better terms with the Enter key.

    A Snowy Day on Pellon Pekko Ranch: So, introducing a large cast of characters in quick succession can make it hard to keep track of who's who at the best of times, but when they all look alike and most of them have similar names, it really becomes needlessly complicated. There's also the fact that I don't really care about the characters getting married. By the time the proposal happens Grog has spoken like three lines of text and I'm still confusing Anniki with the rest of her family. That said, I enjoyed how descriptive this story is, especially the opening, which does a great job of setting the scene.

    Final Votes: Revelations and Soft Teardrops
  • I always like writing reviews for every entrant because not only does the authors know what they did well but things they can improve on. Sturs and I may notice one thing or like one aspect but you might spot something small someone else might miss. Even if it's similar, personally I don't think it hurts to say something for feedback.

    :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
    Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
    Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews