The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

DDO Olympics Storytelling: Round 1

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/15/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,042 times Debate No: 46037
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)




Self-appointed Lord Nathair Ravensworth watched the ocean rhythmically pound against the shore. He paid no attention to the wind whispering in his ear or the sun sinking into its crib. He simply stared at the water, as though willing it to bury all his memories.

Two years had passed since the Great Rapture. At least, that's what the people left behind called it. Lord Ravensworth disliked the term. After all, it wasn't the Christians who were whisked away to a magical palace with hot chocolate in winter and ice cream in summer, or whatever heaven was about. No, that fate befell the women.

Alone with his thoughts, Lord Ravensworth sat until the sun sank and the sea turned black. He stood. His legs felt stiff after hours of sitting, and his first few steps were wobbly and uncertain. By the time he arrived at the small cottage he loosely called a home, he had mastered his movements. He knocked six times on the door. One could never be too sure these days. There were a fair amount of men who'd gone crazy in the absence of women, as well as looters and vandals. But they weren't what worried Lord Ravensworth the most. That honor belonged to the Virgin Church, a group of new-age psychopaths who earnestly believed that God had saved all the women so that the remaining men might butcher each other in peace.

The door opened, and Lord Ravensworth found himself face-to-barrel with a shotgun. Its owner, an absolute beast of a man, stared impassively down at Lord Ravensworth. His eyes, owl-like in intensity, bored into Lord Ravensworth's.

"Ha, ha!" The man laughed. "Nathair, you old dog! Out skulking again?" Lord Ravensworth self-consciously ran a hand through his dark hair.

"You know I don't like it when you use my first name, Gren," replied Lord Ravensworth evenly. The burly man laughed again. Then he lowered the gun and moved out of the doorway. Lord Ravensworth entered.

"We ate without you," said Gren. He didn't sound all that apologetic. He shuffled down the hallway. Candles offered the only source of light. They were all over the room - on tables, on cabinets, even mounted along the walls. The larger villages and communities still possessed the luxury of electricity, but those living in the wilderness were not as fortunate.

"OI!" Gren bellowed. "Cardin! Anything left in the kitchen?" Cardin, a young and effeminate fellow, sidled into view. He wore a white button-down coat over his blue shirt, and his even bluer eyes twinkled with delight behind his glasses. Lord Ravensworth always felt uneasy with Cardin's colorful clothing. The man was entirely too liberal in what colors he chose to wear. Though, to be fair, Lord Ravensworth always dressed in complete black. He held mixed feelings about Gren, who favored dressing like a lumberjack.

"There's some soup left over," Cardin said. His gaze slid to Lord Ravensworth. "Welcome back, Nathair." Lord Ravensworth sighed but didn't comment. "It's a miracle, really," Cardin offered conversationally, "considering the size of Gren's stomach."

"I can still brain you with an axe, boy," Gren growled.

"And then who would listen to the stories about the hundreds of women you've known?" Gren chuckled and lumbered elsewhere in the cabin. Lord Ravensworth followed Cardin into the kitchen.

Even though it had been two years, the kitchen still saddened Lord Ravensworth. It was small and cozy, much like the kitchen in his former house. Sometimes, when his mind wandered, Cardin turned into his wife. Sweet Maria. Lord Ravensworth sighed again. On the nights Maria entered his mind, he inevitably had to chase her out with alcohol.

"Sit, sit," Cardin fussed. "I'll heat up the soup for you."

"Thank you." Lord Ravensworth sat, careful to avoid snagging his cloak on the uneven wood. Cardin nursed the fire back to a comfortable glow. He glanced back at Lord Ravensworth.

"It won't be much longer," he said. Lord Ravensworth considered Cardin. He was barely a man - much closer to a lad in Lord Ravensworth's opinion. He'd been so young. Too young to deserve what happened. Someone like Cardin ought to be making the same rash decisions all youths made - getting drunk and fooling around with pretty women. Though, from what Lord Ravensworth knew, that sort of thing wouldn't interest Cardin anyway.

"Has there been any news?" He asked. Cardin looked at him again. Was it his imagination, or did Lord Ravensworth spot splashes of red on Cardin's cheeks?

"Well..." Cardin turned back to the fire. "You should probably talk to Gren." Lord Ravensworth stiffened.

"What is it, Cardin?" But Cardin just shook his head and refused to say another word. Lord Ravensworth groaned inwardly. The boy was so stubborn sometimes! It reminded Lord Ravensworth of himself and how his own son might have been.

No. Not might. Should.

"Cardin," moaned Lord Ravensworth. Cardin rose and moved away from the fire. He rummaged around in one of the cabinets, producing a fairly-sized glass bottle and two glasses. He placed them on the table before Lord Ravensworth.

"I know," he said sadly. "If you ever want to talk...." He laid a hand on Lord Ravensworth's shoulder. Then he moved over to the entryway. "The soup will be ready in about ten minutes." With that, he disappeared.

Lord Ravensworth had just enough time to pour himself a drink when Gren entered the kitchen. He sat across from Lord Ravensworth. The chair groaned beneath his weight. Gren laughed.

"You look like hell, Nathair. If hell was made of sand, anyway."

"I don't have that much sand on me," muttered Lord Ravensworth.

"You could start a beach of your own!" Gren roared. "I don't know why you wear all that black to the beach. You stand out like Nixon at Watergate! You ought to have Cardin pick your wardrobe."

"I don't think Nixon was at Watergate," Lord Ravensworth responded. Gren waved the point aside.

"So what were you up to? Did you find a woman? You keeping her a secret?" Gren laughed at his own wit. Lord Ravensworth brushed a grain of sand from his cloak as though it were Gren's comment. Gren grabbed the bottle and poured himself a drink as well.

"We're running out, you know," he commented. Lord Ravensworth grunted and refilled his glass. Gren sneered across the table at him. "You and Cardin - so much fun to talk to!" Lord Ravensworth lowered his head.

"Sorry," he said. "I was thinking about Maria." Gren's smile disappeared.

"Ah," he managed. Lord Ravensworth's gaze was far away.

"We met at a lighthouse - did I ever tell you that?"

"Often as the sun rises in the morning. It sounds too sappy to be true."

"Sometimes love is sappy."

"Ha ha!" Gren nearly fell off his chair. "Damn, Nathair, you're really in a mood tonight!" He drained his glass and reached for the bottle, becoming abruptly serious in the process. "Look, Nathair, it's been two years. Two years and no women!" Gren finished off his glass again. "It's time to start looking forward."

"To what?" Lord Ravensworth's temper took flight. "What the hell is there to look forward to? We're not just a dying group, Gren, we're a dying species. Once all of us go, that'll be it! No more humans! Do you understand what that means?" It took all Lord Ravensworth's will to resist the urge to throw the bottle against the wall.

Gren's face was unusually blank. He took a slow, deliberate sip of his drink. When he spoke, his words came as though measured.

"Do you think I haven't thought everything you just said? Do you think you're the only one who lost loved ones? You are arrogant, Lord Ravensworth, if you believe that nobody has suffered aside from you." Lord Ravensworth watched the fire. It danced softly back and forth, whispering in an alien tongue.

"I'm sorry," Lord Ravensworth finally said. Gren waved his apology aside. Lord Ravensworth took his glass. "Cardin said you had something to say?" Gren leaned forward conspiratorially.

"I heard a rumor today, while you were out. Now, normally. I don't pay any mind to rumors, but this one was especially interesting." Lord Ravensworth waited. Gren waited.

"Are you going to make me guess?"

"We'd be here all night." Lord Ravensworth ignored the jibe, settling instead for an eyebrow raise.

"I should warn you," Gren prefaced. "The rumor concerns the Virgin Church." Lord Ravensworth stiffened.

"Are they here?"

"No. Relax. They're still based in New Atlanta. If they were in the area, I'd be showing them my axe, not drinking beer."

"You can't do both?" Gren guffawed.

"I probably could," he admitted. "There's that biting sense of humor we love about you."

"I'll bite you, alright," muttered Lord Ravensworth.

"No, thanks," Gren grinned. "Though you could ask Cardin."

"The rumor," pressed Lord Ravensworth. Gren helped himself to the bottle. Lord Ravensworth resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

"It's good," Gren said.

"Nothing relating to the Virgin Church is good."

"This is." Gren gulped down his drink. "I heard that the Virgin Church found a group of women." Lord Ravensworth glanced up sharply. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. His heart felt like it might leap out of his chest. Was it possible? After two whole years...was it possible?

"Women?" He rasped. Gren reclined in his seat and sighed luxuriously. He refilled his drink yet again.

"Women," he said happily.


"Tell me Gren, where did they find these women?" I was enthralled with the idea.

"They haven't said. We would have to visit 'em to find out." Gren looked a bit more eager than I was comfortable with. Did he not just say that he was willing to hunt down members of the Virgin Church if they came anywhere near here? Why was Cardin so concerned with telling me himself? I understand that he isn't likely to take fancy in women, but he didn't appear uninterested. He was nervous.

"Well, are you going to go?" I needed to know more.

"Yes, Nathair. And you are coming with me. We leaving in the morning." He growled drunkenly and then yawned. Something is strange. I don't know what Gren is thinking, but it isn't good.

"Of course. I will go pack my things now and return at..."

"No need, Nathair. I already packed you spare clothes. Stay here for the night, you are drunk. I don't want you to get lost on the way home." Gren went to pour himself another glass and realized the bottle was empty. Noticing that I stopped drinking, he poured mine into his own and downed it in one gulp. Cardin slowly inch-wormed into the room. He looked scared.

"I can escort Lord Ravensworth home." He trembled as he spoke.

"No Cardin, that's alright. He can stay the night. He's practically family!" Gren's fists clenched and Cardin instinctively stepped back. Now I was certain that Gren no longer had my best interests in mind. I couldn't resist.

"That is generous of you Gren. I'll go up to your guess room then, I am exhausted." I tried to lay in bed awake thinking of a plan, but I was smashed. I thought that I only had two or three glasses to drink. I must had underestimated my tendency to drink. Within a few minutes I had passed out.


"Wake up. Lord Ravensworth, wake up." A voice whispered in my ear as somebody shook my body. "Gren is sleeping. When he gets drunk he blacks out. Perhaps he won't remember having you over. If you are here, he certainly will know why. You must leave now."

I quickly realized what was going on. I couldn't just leave Cardin though. The way he reacted to Gren, the way Gren addressed him when drunk.

"Cardin, is Gren abusing you?" I inquired.

"That is of no matter. If you are gone when he wakes up, he won't know the difference. If I am gone as well, he will hunt us down. Go now."

Cardin had known precisely what was on my mind. He had more confidence in his voice now than I had ever heard before. He was being braver than I had ever been. For that, I respected his wishes and left immediately. I must had gotten lost on the way home though, still being drunk. I woke up in a forest. Not just any forest, but the Hanging Forest. It was named quite appropriately I suppose. This place was just outside the town. Men came here to hang themselves when they could no longer bear to live another day. I always considered it a barbaric way to go out, it lacked grace. Nonetheless, I sympathized with them.

I got up to continue my journey. I couldn't go home, that was too much of a risk. Instead I would walk West. I didn't know where to go, but going opposite of the Virgin Church in New Atlanta seemed like a good idea. As I turned around I saw a familiar face. I was staring my father straight in the eyes. It is amazing how the lifeless quality of his eyes only became more pronounced and better represented him after death. The day he came out here was a sad day for the town, one of mourning for everyone. Even I grieved over his death, and the man hated me and everything I was.


There is some special quality about water that allows it to soothe the soul. When you dive beneath the ocean's surface and the water clogs your ears, muffling all the sounds around you, that's the moment that you realize how isolated from the rest of the world you really are. Every drop of water is part of something special, it has purpose, it belongs. Those things don't come easy to humans. Throughout my entire life I have never belonged. I was the bastard child of an upperclass man. I only remained in the inheritance due to the untimely death of both of my half-brothers. There was nobody else for my father to give his titles or property to, or his name. Lord Ravensworth. That name used to mean something to people around here. It evoked visions of a strong, honest, and fair man. People look at me and see none of those qualities. Instead I am a drunkard, a murderer, and I deserve to die. Perhaps they are right. At age 27 I have yet to accomplish anything of value. If I were never born to my fathers indiscretions, his wife wouldn't have left him. My two half-brothers would still be alive. There would be nobody who would be worse off than they are now.

Nobody understood why one would buy an abandoned lighthouse. My friends accused me of trying to spend my family's fortune all while tarnishing the name I was reluctantly given. Alcohol, whores, wasted money. I always grin when people list wasted money after alcohol and whores. As a self-proclaimed expert on the two, I would say that you always feel robbed the morning after. No, I bought the lighthouse because it stands on the edge of the pier, stretching far beyond the edge of the beach and sitting gracefully above the jagged rocks and strong rip currents below.

As a man without a true name, without a true home, it simply felt right. I do not claim to be a spiritual man, but I feel a powerful draw to the idea of becoming one with the ocean. I enjoy sitting on the edge of this incredible work of architecture and watching the waves crash into the cliffs infront of me and gently carressing the beach on either side. The ocean is both gentle and harsh. Water is pure and essential, yet mature enough to take a life without thought. I suppose that is the most endearing quality of all. It is pure without innocence.

Sitting along with me was my favorite bottle of wine, 1787 Chateau Margaux. Tonight will be the night. When this bottle is empty I will go through with it.


My breathing quickened and I realized that I was daydreaming. Reuniting with my father post-mortem was far more tragic that I would have expected. I disliked him as much as he disliked me. I have to keep moving though, I have to go West. I would walk around the outskirt of the town, staying in the forest, and rejoin the road on the other side. This meant walking past Gren's house. The sun is still young. I will be fine. As I journeyed through the forest I could not help but to feel depressed. Surrounding me were men who had taken their own lives, something that I had failed to do many times before. Every man I had ever known was braver than I. Even Cardin managed to defy the manliest, burliest man that I know. Would Cardin soon be united with these men in the afterlife? Is there even an afterlife? Before I knew it, I was walking past Gren's cabin when I heard a crack in the wind. A loud bang had gone off in the direction of Gren's cabin. Crows flew off of the trees and into the sky. Silence covered the forest like a sudden and evil mist. Was Cardin dead? I couldn't let his sacrifice be meaningless. I have watched too many good men give too much for too little. I couldn't let that happen this time. I accelerated my pace and walked onto the road. I'll find a new future. I'll make sure that my life is meaningful. Perhaps legacy means less now that we know the human race will end when we all die. That can't stop me. Cardin knew that too, but his life had meaning. Mine must too have meaning now. I must be as good a person as Cardin, as Maria, as my eldest half-brother, Arthur.
Debate Round No. 1


Lord Ravensworth edged deeper into the Hanging Forest.

It proved distasteful to him. The sight of so many bodies suspended in the air, dangling from the trees like leaves, sickened him. Still, after last night, it was best not to take any chances. Gren, for all his other traits, carried with him a deep-rooted fear of the dead. Lord Ravensworth used to tease him about the superstition.

He smiled at the memory. Then he frowned. He and Gren had known each other for years, even before the Great Rapture. What could have made him behave so oddly last night? True, Gren could become a beast when drunk. But even so, something had felt sinister about how determined he was to make Lord Ravensworth stay.

And Cardin....

Lord Ravensworth pushed the thought aside. He'd always excelled at solitude. Having two older brothers in a Lord's estate will do that. His father had only started trying to correct that after their unfortunate deaths, but by then, it was far too late.

"No wonder you're no real son of mine," growled Lord Ravensworth senior. "You have no will to power."

Lord Ravensworth shook the memory away. He'd taken great pleasure in burning his father's copy of Beyond Good and Evil following his death.

Even in the daytime, the Hanging Forest retained an aura of darkness. The trees were tall, thick, and strong, more than capable of blocking out sunlight. Supposing one enjoyed darkness, it was a fitting place to die. The Hanging Forest was the abyss of humanity colored by the night. Here there was no logic, no reason, no philosophy. There was only the physical presence of darkness and the hatred it nourished for the outside world.

And he was either brave or foolish enough to venture into it.

The Hanging Forest was, in a word, huge. It spread from the outside of town past Gren's cabin and even further into the horizon. Branches snapped underfoot like human spines. The silence weighed heavily on Lord Ravensworth, nearly as oppressive as his father had been. Only the occasional creak of a body turning on a rope or the rustle of feathers as scavengers took flight disrupted the stillness.

The minutes took eternities to pass. Lord Ravensworth hadn't made much progress. He could still discern Gren's cabin, the sole beacon of civilization. Was Cardin sprawled on the ground in there, dead, fresher than any of the corpses staring in silent judgment?

Suddenly a figure appeared from the cabin. Lord Ravensworth wrapped his cloak around his body, blending with the shadows. It wouldn't fool anyone up close, but the cabin was fairly far away. He recognized the figure as Gren.

"NATHAIR!" Gren bellowed. "WHERE ARE YOU?" He glanced around, but Lord Ravensworth remained motionless. Motion draws the eye like chum draws sharks.

Cardin emerged from the cabin next, and Lord Ravensworth's heart leaped. The boy was alive! A strong urge to run over to him gripped Lord Ravensworth, but he fought it back.

"CARDIN!" Gren had yet to stop screaming. "WHERE DID HE GO?" Cardin's response, spoken at a normal volume, proved inaudible to Lord Ravensworth. Gren laughed and clapped Cardin on the shoulder. Then the two set off in the direction of the beach. Lord Ravensworth smirked. Well done, Cardin! He was throwing Gren off the scent. Lord Ravensworth just hoped Cardin could keep up the act. So long as he could outwit Gren, he'd remain alive.

The feeling of being watched draped across Lord Ravensworth. He glanced over his shoulder. The only person around hung about ten feet off the ground. He appeared to have climbed up to a sturdy branch, wrapped the rope around it, and jumped. His neck hung at an unnatural angle, but he had not yet been hanging long enough for it to snap. His clothes - or, rather, the rags that remained of them - were filthy and torn. One eye was missing from its socket and, to Lord Ravensworth, it looked like a black hole. The longer he stared at it, the more images flashed through his mind. Perhaps the man had had rich brown hair, like his half-brother Arthur or blonde hair like Maria.

Lord Ravensworth averted his gaze. For the rest of his trek through the Hanging Forest, he kept his head down. With Gren gone, he didn't have to penetrate the forest's depths. So he stuck to the outskirts, slipping from tree to tree until the cabin was well behind him. Only then did he return to the path.

The air seemed cleaner, untainted by death. The Hanging Forest remained on his left, but it held no power in the light. The sun reigned overhead, blissfully ignorant of the decaying earth below. Nature, perhaps, was the cruellest mistress. The bones of men bleached under the sun to feed her cavernous maw, yet she remained bound to her stoic indifference.

Lord Ravensworth, not for the first time, contemplated death. He would never hang himself, as he had always considered it coarse. Besides, it was a painful, slow way to go, and while Lord Ravensworth knew he might have deserved such a death, he certainly didn't wish for it. Though did that really make a difference? With the world as it was, there were very few men who deserved an honorable death. Lord Ravensworth didn't delude himself into thinking he was one of them. Cardin, perhaps. Maria, if she were still around.

Oh, how he missed Maria! The wind running through his hair might have been her gentle fingers. The warmth might not flow from the sun at all but from her smile. He'd bought the lighthouse for her.

"So the whole world can see you shine," he had said. She'd smacked him playfully.

"Romantic sap." Then she'd kissed him. He could almost feel the touch of her lips now, warm and soft, the only solaces in an uncaring world.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The first time they met occurred during the period of the sun's death. The sea glittered a robust orange. Lord Ravensworth observed it in silence. How could water hold so much magic? It seemed that the answers to all questions lay hidden in the water's depths, in a darkness more absolute than the Hanging Forest, in a domain where man was little more than a shrimp.

Lost in those thoughts, Lord Ravensworth stepped backward and collided with someone jogging along the beach. Caught by surprise, he toppled over, and the person landed on him. He looked into her sea-green eyes.

"Are you okay?"

"Watch where you're going," she said. She freed herself and stood him, extending a hand to help him.

"Sorry," he muttered, taking the offered hand. She pulled him up with ease. "I didn't notice you."

"Men always notice me." She smiled.

"Are you flirting with me?"

"Perhaps." She lifted a finger to her lips. "My name's Maria."


"Nathair! Ooh. What are you, from a fantasy book or something? Oh, now I've made you blush. I'm sorry."

"No, it's just - well, you're never finding out my last name now." She blinked.

"That's not fair."

"You started it."

"Hmm." She studied him. Nathair admired her posture. It felt a bit like he was being examined by an artist.



"Your last name. Is it Smith?"

"No." Nathair concealed his grin. If only his last name was so ordinary. If only he belonged to a family that ordinary.


"Whose last name is Bill?"

"I knew a guy once. I've known people with plenty of strange last names."

"What was the strangest?"


"BS." She shook her head.

"It's true! He was bullied like hell in middle school."

"And my last name is Ravensworth."

"Is it really?" Nathair's grin faded. He wanted to tell this woman the truth. He wanted to tell her everything. Why? He'd never felt that way about anyone before. He'd always hid things from people, from his father. Why was this Maria any different?

Maria had taken his silence as a yes.

"Oh my God!" She doubled over, laughing. "That's brilliant!" Nathair watched her in surprise.

"Do you really think so?"

"Of course! Ravensworth! I love it! Maria Ravensworth."

"Whoa. Let's not get too hasty. We just met - by you falling on top of me, I might add. I wasn't prepared for that, by the way. If I had been, you'd have never knocked me over." A fierce grin settled over Maria's face.

"Challenge accepted."

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

A shout pulled Lord Ravensworth back into the present.

A little ways ahead, he could discern a banner rising above a hill. The image etched across it depicted a woman with angel wings folded across her body. She held a flaming sword which, as evidenced by the fiery streaks in the background, had been put to use. Several men's bodies decorated the bottom of the banner. Even without words, Lord Ravensworth knew at once who owned it.

The Virgin Church.

Quickly, Lord Ravensworth dived off the path. He crept back toward the Hanging Forest, taking care to keep as low to the ground as possible. Once the procession reached the top of the hill, they would doubtlessly spot him if he ran. He moved as rapidly as he could. The edge of the Hanging Forest was only feet away now. He could make it!

The banner reached the top of the hill just as Lord Ravensworth reached the safety of the trees. Once again, he immersed himself into his cloak and watched the procession as it gradually drew nearer. There were about twenty men, all wearing the gray-and-scarlet robes of the Virgin Church, save for the leader, whose robes were black. They all wore masks to conceal their faces.

The procession stopped near Lord Ravensworth. His heart nearly exploded out of his chest when the leader turned toward his hiding spot.

"Come out, stranger!" Lord Ravensworth froze. The leader's voice was deep and commanding, and it reminded Lord Ravensworth of his father. "Come out and shuffle off this mortal coil! Come out, that we may free you from suffering and send you to meet the Lord! Come out and enter the darkness!"

Lord Ravensworth ran.


I grabbed Maria by the waist and twisted myself around her, falling to the ground with her on top of me. We both laughed like young children in a schoolyard. Never was there a time in my life that felt more right than this moment. The only way I could describe what I was feeling is bliss. Pure, innocent bliss. Maria and I rolled in the sand, with the waves crashing against our feet. A brutal pain swiftly settled in my head, causing a very visual reaction. Through the squint of my eyes I could see that Maria hadn't noticed a thing, despite looking straight at me. She continued to laugh and laugh and laugh as her voice became less clear and my surroundings became enveloped in a deathly blur.

A familiar voice echoed in the background, "Ah, you are finally awake." After a few moments I regained my focus and was able to make out the figure in front of me. "Cardin, is that you?" I questioned rhetorically as I looked around the room. I appeared to be in some sort of cross between a hospital and a laboratory. I was laying on a medical bed, clothed with a standard hospital gown. An IV was attached to my arm. On the table to my side were several vials of fluids that Cardin was mixing together. For reasons I cannot explain, none of this was as strange as the aching sensation I felt above my ankles. All I could think about was how awkward of a place for an ache.

Cardin looked up again from his work, "Yes, Nathair. How are you feeling? You were shot when you tried to run away from Brother Jones. If you see him again, however, do call him Jim, Jim Jones. He much prefers that to his official title. I patched up your wound and have loaded morphine into your veins. You shouldn't be feeling a thing."

I felt a shiver shoot down my spine and through my toes, causing them to fidget. Oddly enough, I didn't feel the blanket touching my toes at all, they felt like they were moving in a vacuum.

"Don't look too surprised," Cardin continued, "I took you for a much wiser man. It should not come as a shock that I a member of the Virgin Church. Do not fear, the rumors that Gren brainwashed into your mind are false. All of them, actually. First, we don't actually kill people. Quite the opposite, we allow them to live. Second, we also did not find women. Not precisely. Well, that's not exactly true. I'll explain more later. I need to run a test."

"Wait. Tell me now. Does any of this have to do with Maria? Will I be able to see her again?" My body continued to tingle and I felt a wave of goose bumps form instantly. I had an eerie feeling that I ought to be concerned, but the morphine dulled my suspicions and made me feel, euphoric.

Cardin chuckled, "Let me be clear, I was monitoring you while you were unconscious. When you are passing between the planes of life and death your mind eases the transition by either immersing itself in your happiest memories or, if you lack any happy memories, creating new ones, the way you wish your life had played out. When we prolong this stage of dying it allows us to study what you most desire. We use that here at the Church to allow you to live the rest of your life happily." He walked around the foot of my bed and switched what fluids were being fed into my IV, "Oh, and your memory? It wasn't real." He grinned in a seemingly sinister way, but I felt as if he was sympathizing with me. As much as I wanted to believe that something was wrong, I knew that everything was going to be alright.

That feeling only lasted a moment as my blood pressure rapidly started to rise. I moved my mouth in an attempt to find our what was happening to me but I couldn't vocalize more than a grunt. Cardin looked at me reassuringly, "Don't worry Nathair. This is simply a test. I injected you with a chemical that will make you cycle through your emotions, feeling each of them to their most extreme extent: Anger, sorrow, happiness, guilt, suffering. I'll be monitoring you the whole way. You will be okay." As he spoke his voice got fainter and fainter, I could feel my face heating up.

Suddenly I was in Arthur's car. It was a Jeep, and older model. It only had two doors and was a violent red. My other half-brother, Ethan, was passed out drunk in the passenger seat. He never did know how to hold his alcohol or restrain himself from drinking too much. The combination caused a lot of blackouts. Looking in the rear-view mirror I spot Arthur making out with a beautiful red-headed girl in the back seat. My head is clouded with confusion as I attempt to figure out what I'm doing here. A blinding light shines through the Jeep's front window, providing a stark contrast with the darkness that was surrounding me moments before. I couldn't see anything in front of me, the light forced me to close my eyes. I could feel tears roll down my cheeks, but I wasn't crying. I heard a voice calling out in the distance, it was my voice, "It wasn't my fault! I wasn't drunk, they never let me join them. The other driver was the one who was drunk. It wasn't my fault." I became panicked and instinctively twisted the wheel, turning the car to the left, when suddenly the passenger side door caved in and everything began spinning around me as I remained perfectly still.

A newspaper article appeared in front of me. Three young men and a girl killed in horrible accident, one survivor. I saw a picture of Arthur's jeep, crumbled against the seawall that was built downtown to prevent hurricanes from flooding the richer communities. Next to it was an Audi, or at least what is left of an Audi after it explodes and the flames settle. My arms formed fists, I felt my veins pushing through my skin. As I tried to raise my arms I felt straps around my wrists. When I looked down at my arms they were perfectly free, but I still failed to move them. Without regard to how relaxed they appeared, I simply knew that blood was coursing through my veins, the pressure made them feel as if they were about to split.

Somebody grabbed the newspaper and crumpled it up. He then proceeded to throw it into the fireplace. He was a tall and strong man. One look at him let you knew that he was to be respected, that he was a good man. What was not obvious at first glance was that his fury knew no end. This man was my father. The burning sensation on my face intensified. I could see the man yelling at me. No, not at me. At somebody standing precisely where I was. Although I could not hear him, I knew what he was saying. I was here before. This is my memory, but I am merely a spectator watching it unfold. Soon my fever overtook me and everything became a blur. One after another, memories played through my head. I could no longer understand their contents, but I could feel different emotions. I was joyful, scared, embarrassed. I felt every emotion that I had ever experienced throughout my life over the next few minutes. I had relived my entire life as I laid there.

I slowly began to regain my focus again. Cardin was back at the table, concocting new formulas. I looked at my arms for the first time since arriving and realized that my wrists were bound to the bed by leather straps. The pulsating pain above my ankles also continued. I knew that the euphoria I felt earlier prevented me from thinking clearly. It became clear that something indeed was wrong. Still looking at his vials, Cardin explained, "The test I just performed revealed to us how you respond to all known emotions, based on your life experiences. What we are going to do must be accompanied by great caution. If the formula is not balanced perfectly, you will die."

"What are you going to do to me? Am I a guinea pig?"

"We realize that Maria had never loved you, not the way you wanted her to. She was never the person that you made her out to be. We know everything that has ever happened in your life. Your love for her was true though. We are going to medicate you and it will allow you to live your life through memories that you create. You will sleep until the day you die, but you will feel nothing but euphoria. We will take care of your physical body so that all you have to focus on is your beloved Maria. And as for the pain you are experiencing in your legs, well, all of our patients feel it. In order to prevent patients from running away we amputate their feet. It is just procedure, you won't be needing it anyway. I do apologize if you feel phantom movements in your ankle and toes." Cardin laughed manically.
Debate Round No. 2


The information took a second or two to process. Then Lord Ravensworth tried lifting his head. It felt as though his own body resisted his commands, for his neck didn't even twitch. The sensation terrified Lord Ravensworth. He almost thought he would rather experience the full extent of the pain than this nothingness.

Cardin leaned in close. He brushed a strand of hair out of Lord Ravensworth's face. Lord Ravensworth tried to speak, but he had no control over his lips or tongue. He could only stare helplessly at Cardin. His eyes were glaciers.

"Don't waste this gift, Nathair," Cardin whispered into the captive man's ear. "Real or not, your dreams are better than anything left for you here."

Straightening up, Cardin returned to his work. Mustering all his strength, Lord Ravensworth forced his lips apart, but the only sound to escape was a tortured "iiiiii." Cardin didn't turn around.

"Brother Jones calls this process Endarkening," he said. "I disagree. Sure, you're leaving behind this plane of existence, but you're not dying, as Gren believed - no, you're living."

Cardin finished setting up the IV feed. Lord Ravensworth watched as the liquid pulsed into his body. It was the same shade of blue as Cardin's eyes.

Cardin paused at the doorway. He glanced back at Lord Ravensworth.

"Nathair." His voice dropped its icy demeanor. "Don't wake up. Please." He said something else, too, but Lord Ravensworth was no longer capable of hearing.

"Have you ever fired a gun before?" Arthur asked, a dopey grin stretching across his face. Nathair examined the pistol in his hands.

"Not this kind. A - what did you call it?"

"It's a Desert Eagle. It's not really all that different. Here." Arthur corrected Nathair's stance. "Try and hit the cone."

"Don't we need, like, ear protection?"

"No, Nathair. It's silenced. Go ahead." Nathair took a deep breath. He aimed, taking care to keep his hands steady, and fired. The blast nearly deafened him.

"What the HELL? You said it was silenced!" Arthur was literally on the ground, laughing.

"I lied," he managed between hysterics. Nathair was just contemplating turning the gun on his half-brother when Arthur jumped up. "Look!" He shouted. "You hit it!" Nathair followed Arthur's finger. Sure enough, the cone had toppled onto its back. If there was a hole in it, Nathair couldn't tell from where he stood.

Ethan stomped into view.

"Keep it down!" He shouted. "Goddamn, that was the loudest thing I've ever heard!"

"Sorry!" Arthur called back. He and Nathair traded glances, and they both burst out laughing.


Maria rested her head on Nathair's shoulder. They stood at the top of the lighthouse, staring out over the sea, listening to its soothing roar as it crashed against the shore below.

"Have you ever made pictures with the stars?" Maria asked.

"You mean constellations?"

"Sure. Be all scientific." He chuckled. "I did it a lot as a kid," Maria admitted. "I was kind of an outcast. I just - I wasn't interested in how limiting everything was down here, you know?" Nathair nodded. He knew all about being limited. "And everything out there! It's so infinite! I mean..." she stopped talking as a rosy blush brightened her cheeks.

"What is it?"

"No." She looked away. "It's too embarrassing."

"Maria. My last name is Ravensworth. I know about embarrassing." That made her smile.

"Alright. I always thought - ugh, this sounds so stupid! - I used to think they were calling to me."


"Yes. Shining down on me, inviting me to join them in boundless freedom." Nathair studied Maria. Something glistened on her eyelashes. He pretended not to notice.

"You get poetic when you talk about the stars," he observed.

"Don't we all get poetic about something?"

"I don't." Maria glanced at him.

"Really? Then I guess I'll have to give you something to be poetic about." She wrapped her arms around him and set their faces inches apart. Nathair could feel her breath against his skin. He suddenly wished he had brushed his teeth that morning, but Maria didn't seem to mind. She hesitated another few seconds. They both waited, as if for a sign, as if painted into a still portrait.

Then she leaned forward.


His father sat across from him at a long, wooden table. They ate in silence. Once finished, his father rose and departed, leaving the plates of roasted ham, the bottles of vintage wine, and all the accessories to the luxurious feast. He never said a word.


Memory continued blurring with fantasy.

Maria's face, red as a strawberry in her rage, hurling accusations like spears.

Ethan, staring at Nathair like he was a complete stranger, before vomiting all over him.

The way Arthur lay in the backseat of what remained of his jeep. His eyes were still open.

False? False? True? Lord Ravensworth didn't know anymore. How much of his life was his own and how much was imagination? How much belonged to him, and how much belonged to the spectator shifting through his memories? Was there even a difference? Dreams were reality and reality was a dream. The cardinal directions broke away from their home and drifted apart until the sea swallowed them. The world hadn't turned upside-down - there was no upside-down or right side-up. The sea was everywhere, around Lord Ravensworth, inside Lord Ravensworth, becoming a part of him until he felt indistinguishable from the dark waters.

Compared to the onslaught of fantastical memories, the blackness was bliss. Lord Ravensworth couldn't tell if he was sinking or rising, and he longer cared. Let it end. Let it end. That's all he wanted.

Then light pierced the darkness, stabbing through the waters until it cast a pale, shimmering glow around Lord Ravensworth. Warmth flooded into his body, lending him the strength to push through the water. Such a bright light. So inviting. Lord Ravensworth inched closer and closer. It felt like he was swimming through tar instead of water, but somehow, he made it.

The lighthouse cast the full strength of its beam on Lord Ravensworth. Standing before it, silhouetted against it, was a figure. He couldn't discern anything about it, but he knew, somehow, it was Maria. He looked into what must be her eyes, saw her lips move, and heard the words, the only words that mattered.

Lord Ravensworth opened his eyes. He was back in the operating room. The bright blue ceiling welcomed him back. Lord Ravensworth had never been so happy to see a color so bright.

"Got it," a gruff voice growled. With surprise, Lord Ravensworth realized he could turn his neck. He looked to the side and saw a familiar man ripping the IV drip away.

"Gren!" Gren let the medical tool fall to the floor and crushed it underfoot. He flipped his hair.

"Hello, Nathair."

"Gren - how?" A sudden stab of pain prevented the rest of the question. Lord Ravensworth winced. The morphine staved off the worst of the blast, but the throbbing at the bottom of his legs was obnoxiously persistent.

"They tried this same rubbish on me," Gren said. "We're fortunate they underestimated how much it would take to knock me out." He shifted, and Lord Ravensworth noticed the broken vials littering the floor. "Sorry about last night. I thought you were the one working for them."

"Cardin fooled us all," whispered Lord Ravensworth. Gren's hands clenched.

"Wait till I get ahold of that bastard." Gren coughed. He looked at Lord Ravensworth. "Can you move?" Lord Ravensworth shook his head.

"Gren, they...they...." He couldn't even say it. Weakly, every muscle in his arm trembling, he pointed toward his legs. Gren marched over and peered under the blanket. He sucked in his breath.

"That son of a -" a second cough interrupted his curse. Despite the pain, Lord Ravensworth nodded in agreement. Just having the liberty to make that simple movement felt like a rebirth.

Gren heaved a sigh that shook his entire frame. He sank down against the bed.

"We're quite a pair," he said. "You, unable to walk. Me...well, don't worry about me."

"I am now," Lord Ravensworth said. "What's wrong?" Gren fell silent for several seconds.

"They shot me," he said. Lord Ravensworth tried to sit and immediately regretted it.

"They WHAT?"

"You don't think I reached you through stealth?" Gren laughed, a sound that rapidly turned into an ugly hack. There was the sound of blood splattering on the floor.

"There must be something -!"

"There isn't." Lord Ravensworth glanced around the room. Shattered glass. Syringes. Medical tools. An old wheelchair. No bandages in sight. But....



"Can you get me into that wheelchair?" There was another chuckle, and Gren's massive figure reappeared in Lord Ravensworth's line of sight. He scooped Lord Ravensworth into his arms as though he weighed as much as a baby. Then he staggered toward the wheelchair. With every step, Lord Ravensworth feared they would topple over together, and that would be the end of everything. But somehow, Gren kept moving. He reached the wheelchair and, with a noise somewhere between a grunt and a moan, deposited Lord Ravensworth. This effort proved to be too much, however, and Gren collapsed.

"Gren! GREN!" The burly man opened his eyes. He stared directly at Lord Ravensworth. From this angle, Lord Ravensworth could easily see the red pooling into Gren's clothes and onto the floor. It looked as though he'd spilled paint on himself.

Gren's hand scuttled around like an insect before locating the object of its search. The hand rose toward Lord Ravensworth, offering him a handgun. Lord Ravensworth glanced at it.

"Take it," Gren said, "and kill them all."

Lord Ravensworth accepted the weapon. Gren coughed again, and more blood oozed out from his mouth. Lord Ravensworth's vision blurred. Gren croaked out his name. "What is it, Gren?"

"Were there...did you see women, Nathair?" Lord Ravensworth no longer cared about the tears trickling down his cheeks.

"Yes, Gren." Gren looked up at the ceiling. A smile crested his bloodstained lips.

"Women," he said happily, and closed his eyes for the last time.


Immediately I began rolling myself to the door. Opening the door was a challenge. I had to hold the door open while I got myself out, but I needed to use both of my hands to turn the wheels. I had an idea, but it sounded incredibly painful. I extended my leg and used the stub where my feet used to be to push the door open. And yes, it was as painful as it sounded. Without morphine dripping through my veins anymore, my entire body was pulsing as if I had an acupuncture session using sawtooth knives. The hallway that I had entered stretched into the distance as far as I could see. The decision really wasn't a hard one to make, either I go left or I go right, but I sat there paralyzed in amazement. Before I could make up my mind a door three rooms down opened up and two men walked out. I grabbed my handgun and shot both of them. Two in the chest, two people. That's 4 bullets. This gun is a Glock 22, generation 4. That means it hold 15 bullets if fully loaded. I can only hope that it has 11 bullets left. My brothers and I spent most of our weekends at the gun range. We performed at state shooting competitions as well. I like to think that I was rather good at it. I didn't have time to reminisce though, I had to keep on the move. More members of the Virgin Church came into the hallway, the outcome was the same. Two in the chest. 9 bullets. 7. 5. 3. I should have three bullets left. Suddenly Brother John and Cardin walked into the hallway. Three bullets, two for Brother John and one for Cardin. I aim at John first, Cardin doesn't seem like he would be familiar with using a gun. As I pull the trigger I hear a click but no bullet fires. God damnit, Gren must had used three bullets earlier. I should had known. It's an amateur move to fire three bullets at one person. It's natural to think bang, bang, bang. There was nothing I could do. No way in hell I was rolling out of here. Cardin mumbled something to Brother John and walked back into the room he was in. He reemerged moments later with a syringe and started approaching me. I was demoralized. I had an opporunity to escape, several actually. I could have gotten away in the Hanging Forest, but I was caught. I could have escaped when Gren gave his life for me. Again, I failed. There wasn't an ounce of hope left in me. I wanted to question what was in the syringe. I wanted to stop Cardin from injecting it into me. I just couldn't. He stabbed me with the needle and I quickly fell asleep.

When I woke up I was strapped into a bed again, with Cardin hovering over me. Talk about déjà vu. I still couldn't muster up the willpower to object to what was going on. "It's okay, Nathair," Cardin explained, "we have finished the formula suited for your chemical balance. This time when you fall asleep you will literally enter a comatose. Your body, for all intensive purposes, will be dead. Only your mind will live on. However, you will live in a state of bliss. You will create memories as real as here and now, your life will continue from before the Great Rapture. You will be with Maria."

I accepted my fate. Maybe none of this would be real, but at least I would be happy. Before I knew it I was sleeping again. I was sitting at the top of the lighthouse and I was severely depressed. I remembered this memory. I was contemplating suicide, by leaping into the rocky waters below. Yes, that was why I bought the lifehouse. This is when I first met Maria. I was about to jump when I heard a woman shouting for help. I watched myself, from the third person, as I ran down the lighthouse's spiral staircase and ran along the beach in the direction of the shouts. Maria was laying there, soaking wet and lying on a plank of wood. She was on a boat when it hit a jagged rock and capsized off the coast. You see, the lighthouse doesn't actually turn on anymore. It was abandoned years ago, because trade ships don't pass through this area anymore. It's a miracle that she survived. I always thought that fate brought us together. I was torn, then, when the Great Rapture tore us apart. I watched myself check her pulse and begin to do CPR. And I continued to watch. I do not remember it taking this long for the CPR to work. Minutes had passed and I insisted on continuing. It felt like I was spending an eternity watching myself try to save Maria. Wait a minute, I thought, I am watching the same scene being repeated again and again. I am witnessing the beginning of my attempt at CPR until just moments before it is successful, and then starting over. Is this how I am to spend my life? I felt my heart rate rise, I could hear it beating as blood flowed through my veins. I could hear manic laughter in the background, it was coming from the sky but it was Cardin's voice. There was also a beeping sound, my heart monitor. It was pacing rapidly as my heart rate intensified. Even when I had lost all hope, Cardin found a way to give hope back to me and take it away again. Never before had I felt so defeated, not even when I pulled the trigger on my the glock and no bullets exited the chamber.

I looked down at myself and realized that I was just an abstract spirit, that I didn't even have a bodied while witnessing my own memories. I could move though, as if I was a real person. It caused a great deal of stress on my mind, as if you are trying desperately to believe something that you know to be false. Your brain wants to reject the fact, but your heart wants to believe it. My heart was overpowering my head and I was slowly stepping backwards, I was re-imagining my memory. No, I was reconstructing it. My physical body remained on the beach, pleading with every push into Maria's chest that she begins breathing again. I knew that I, that he, was pleading in vain. I inched my way towards the lighthouse, every step more painful than the last. I climbed up the stairs until I reached the top. I stared over the ledge into the gaping abyss below me.

I was engulfed in the same thoughts that I had everytime I contemplated suicide. Water is simply magical. Every molecule has purpose. Every droplet belongs in something greater than itself. The ocean is pure without innocence. I always loved that thought. Water is pure enough to sustain life, but mature enough to take it. The ocean is pure without innocence. I am not pure. I have sinned in my life. I have caused pain to others. I have done little good in this world. Nor am I innocent. My entire view of reality has been warped and twisted. I no longer know what is real and what is not. I lack purity and innocence. Perhaps if I give my life to the ocean I can cleanse my soul. Perhaps I can atone for my sins and wipe my slate clean. I was never a religious man, but the ocean had a spiritual draw on me, it always has. Whatever my abstract form was, it was struggling to move forward. I was altering my memory too much for my mind to accept it, but my heart was already in the ocean, it drew me towards it. Suddenly I slipped forward, into the rocks below. I heard the monitoring system beep more quickly as I approached the ocean, and then at once everything stopped.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent and I have agreed that this Round, Round 4, is only to be used for us providing positive and negative feedback on each other's stories. We ask that the judges refrain from voting on anything that occurs in this round, unless something is a wild conduct violation.

I found my opponent to be a worthy debater and an excellent storyteller, and I really enjoyed working with him.

I found his shift into the first-person perspective to be an interesting choice.

I also believe my opponent did an excellent job with keeping consistent characters. He even used the same twist with Cardin that I'd planned to use!

In the first round, I established (perhaps a bit too loosely) that the cottage with Gren and Cardin was Lord Ravensworth's place of residence. My opponent overlooked this.

If Lord Ravensworth is an alcoholic, as my opponent implied in Round 1 ("As a self-proclaimed expert on [alcohol and whores"]), then it would be unlikely for him to underestimate his tendency to drink and thus pass out. There are no indications that the drink was drugged.

I loved the idea of the Hanging Forest, but the method of getting Lord Ravensworth there (drunk, passed out, and waking up there) seemed a little odd. Still, I give my opponent credit for that creative idea.

Recalling Lord Ravensworth's father was a nice touch, but it occurred rather randomly. It would have been better served if it were a few sentences earlier, when he was studying the Hanging Forest and perhaps saw a body that reminded him of his father. The way my opponent framed it reminded me of the infamous example (As the man stepped outside he remembered his daughter's smile when the snowflakes graced her eyelashes). Just because a narrator tells us a character recalls something does not mean it makes sense. When a character flashes back or recalls the past, there should be a reason or link. My opponent did this well with the use of the drug Cardin injects into Lord Ravensworth later.

The reason my opponent provides for buying the lighthouse in Round 1 is rather odd - Lord Ravensworth bought it for its location? ("I bought the lighthouse because it stands on the edge of the pier...." Additionally, this conflicts with my opponent's explanation of why Lord Ravensworth bought the lighthouse in Round 3 ("I was contemplating suicide...yes, that was why I bought the lifehouse" - is lifehouse a typo by the way?).

If Lord Ravensworth decides to go west the moment he leaves Gren's cabin, why does he then go the beach and wait before deciding to go west again?

I like the "sudden and evil mist" simile (Round 1), but Cardin's apparent death flies out of nowhere and is glossed over.

The scene with the jeep in Round 2, though rich in backstory, shifts between the present and past tense, and it doesn't feel intentional.

The image of the father before the fireplace and Lord Ravensworth as a spectator observing the memory in Round 2 was one of my favorite images in the story.

Amputating the feet in Round 2 proved to be an interesting touch!

If the decision between which hallway to use in Round 3 was so simple, why did Lord Ravensworth sit there paralyzed?

Cardin and Brother John (who was Brother Jones in the previous round, and Lord Ravensworth has no way of knowing the names of anyone else in the Virgin Church) seem remarkably calm considering Lord Ravensworth has just shot and killed several people. I know they know he's out of bullets, but what do Brother John/Jones and Ravensworth do while Cardin's fetching the syringe? Stare at each other?

In Round 3, my opponent provided a narrative for the first meeting between Maria and Lord Ravensworth ("This is when I first met Maria"); however, this conflicts with the narrative I provided earlier in Round 2.

I really enjoyed (wow, that sounds dark) the suicide at the ending; however, I am not sure if an abstract spirit can commit suicide or how Ravensworth could be comatose, as Cardin says, and yet still hear the beeping. The reader needs to, but in a first person narrative, that does not work. I enjoy it on a metaphorical level, but I question it on a logistical one.

On the topic of the ending, I felt that it was rushed. The pace could have slowed a bit.

I really appreciate my opponent returning to the ocean motif to end the story. I think we both did rather well as weaving it throughout. On that note, I also found it intriguing how many different symbols we turned the lighthouse into.

I think my opponent and I took different tactics regarding Cardin as a villain. My opponent seemed to want to turn him into a cartoonish over-the-top evildoer who laughs manically at the pain of others. I tried to humanize him and make him more complex, portraying him as someone who genuinely believed his actions would help Lord Ravensworth find peace and happiness, even if he had to fight Lord Ravensworth to get there.

My opponent made numerous typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors in his narrations.

All in all, I believe that, although my opponent and I have different styles of narration, we both worked to tell a strong story. I hope the judges and readers enjoy it, and I wish my opponent the best of luck!



This was an excellent story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Here is my list of critiques, both positive and negative.

There was a lot of anachronism. With names like Nathair, Lord Ravensworth, and Gren, the story felt like it would take place several hundred years ago. However, the story takes place in the present, which was a bit confusing to understand at first.

The beginning of my opponent's round 2 took place in the wrong setting. At the end of my round 1 Nathair walked onto the road, and then my opponent started round 2 by walking deeper into the Hanging Forest.

Later in round 2 my opponent claims that Nathair bought the lighthouse for Maria, although it was stated in round 1 that the lighthouse was bought due to its proximity to the pier. The lighthouse was also described as abandoned in round 1, so buying it so that the whole world would see Maria shine doesn't seem to cleanly follow.

My opponent had an excellent way of describing scenes, he was very effective with his diction.

Maria's conversation with Nathair when they first met in my opponent's round 2 doesn't seem very reasonable. The dialogue doesn't resemble anything that two strangers would say to one another, and she was far more overtly flirtatious than one would expect. Phrases like "BS" and "Challenge Accepted" also make the conversation awkward given that the prior established anachronism placed an outdated vibe on a modern world, but the chat suddenly became modernized as well.

Cardin staying alive felt like a weak plot device. We worked together and turned him into a great villain, but his death would have been an opportunity to introduce new characters. Most importantly, the gunshot was never explained. The wound Gren suffered occurred much later as he was arrived after Nathair and was still bleeding.

Why did Gren have a gun? Also, if he was shot after resisting, why weren't Gren and Nathair being supervised? Why wasn't he tied down again? It seems like we missed out on a very important scene and then there was no follow-up by the Virgin Church. The transition felt weak and left the reader unclear on what was supposed to happen next. Gren was dead and Nathair was in a wheelchair with a single pistol. Was he supposed to roll out of the facility guns blazing?

I also don't think that Gren needed to re-enter the story either. I like that my opponent tried to create an emotional scene with Gren's death, but I feel that it just wasn't enough. The pace was a bit too fast. Nonetheless, my opponent has an eye for scenes that can peak a story.

I really enjoyed how my opponent wrote about Nathair's relationship with Arthur. The events at the gun range felt genuine.

Then light pierced the darkness, stabbing through the waters until it cast a pale, shimmering glow around Lord Ravensworth. Warmth flooded into his body, lending him the strength to push through the water. Such a bright light. So inviting. Lord Ravensworth inched closer and closer. It felt like he was swimming through tar instead of water, but somehow, he made it.

This was absolutely my favorite scene in the entire story. The descriptive narrative was brilliantly constructed.

I have to give props to my opponent for creating this world to begin with. We didn't discuss the plot beforehand, he constructed everything from scratch on his own going into round 1. That took a lot of talent.

Although I disagreed with Gren's return, I enjoyed his character development. He went from a bestial character, both in appearance and personality, to what would be more akin to a teddy bear in the end. What I loved the most about this was that in his final moments he retained his simplistic personality with his seemingly meaningless questioning of whether or not there really were women. While I previously said that more could have been done to invoke emotion, I'm glad that my opponent did not try to make Gren's final words excessively impactful. The grace of his death was beautifully done.

My opponent can't respond to my critiques, so naturally I wouldn't respond to his, however because we agreed that judges shouldn't vote on what is said this round I'm going to take the liberty to clarify a few things, and he can do the same in the comments (which I entirely encourage!)

In the first round, I established (perhaps a bit too loosely) that the cottage with Gren and Cardin was Lord Ravensworth's place of residence. My opponent overlooked this.

The cottage was loosely called a home, and you said that it was owned by Gren in round 1.

The reason my opponent provides for buying the lighthouse in Round 1 is rather odd - Lord Ravensworth bought it for its location? ("I bought the lighthouse because it stands on the edge of the pier...." Additionally, this conflicts with my opponent's explanation of why Lord Ravensworth bought the lighthouse in Round 3)

The reason didn't change. It was foreshadowed in round one so that it could be expanded upon later. The location was the edge of the pier, which is significant because it overlooks jagged rocks and Nathair was severely depressed and constantly contemplating suicide. The lighthouse's location made it easier.

If Lord Ravensworth decides to go west the moment he leaves Gren's cabin, why does he then go the beach and wait before deciding to go west again?

He didn't, I said it was a daydream.

If the decision between which hallway to use in Round 3 was so simple, why did Lord Ravensworth sit there paralyzed?

I definitely should have been clearer there! It was due to the seemingly infinite length of the hallway.

In Round 3, my opponent provided a narrative for the first meeting between Maria and Lord Ravensworth ("This is when I first met Maria"); however, this conflicts with the narrative I provided earlier in Round 2.

I had Cardin explain that your narrative was a fantasy. I thought that the conversation was a bit too easy and a tad bit unrealistic for such realist characters so I used Cardin's test to explain it as such.

I really enjoyed (wow, that sounds dark) the suicide at the ending; however, I am not sure if an abstract spirit can commit suicide or how Ravensworth could be comatose, as Cardin says, and yet still hear the beeping. The reader needs to, but in a first person narrative, that does not work. I enjoy it on a metaphorical level, but I question it on a logistical one.

Every time Cardin induced Nathair into a trance, Nathair was aware of his surroundings. Even in Round 2 he felt phantom pains and heard voices in the abstract distance. The induced comatose wasn't necessarily the same as what we'd experience in our world.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
We're just using Round 4 for feedback. It'll be short. Sorry if we're holding everyone up!
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
I'm going to ask if you could keep R4 very short, that way we can get on to PRELIM 2...
Posted by Lucky_Luciano 2 years ago
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
I'll agree to that if we use it as a time to point out positives as well as negatives. Critiquing writing, after all, is a bit different from critiquing debating.
Posted by Lucky_Luciano 2 years ago
Posted by Lucky_Luciano 2 years ago
To point out logicial inconsistencies, weak plot devices, inconsistent plot progression, etc. for the judges to consider.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
What exactly do you mean by critique? Isn't that more of the judges' place?
Posted by Lucky_Luciano 2 years ago
Do you mind if we end the story in round 3 and use round 4 to critique each other?
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
As a note to Lucky, he may either decide to continue with my characters or introduce his own.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
This is Round 1 of the DDO Olympics: Storytelling! Lucky and I have agreed to the following format:

I start the story. He continues it. Then I continue it. And so on.

As my characters were necessary in the debate, I would like to use this comment to wish my opponent the best of luck!
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by tylergraham95 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I gave S&G to pro simply because the Con had better grammar and less typos. The errors made in the cons portions of the story made it a bit turgid and difficult to read. I will award args based on who added the most to the plot, and sources based on who wrote most eloquently/enjoyably. I tie args as I feel that both writers wove interesting stories. I enjoyed the concepts that each writer introduced, though both sides were plagued with the occasional speck of awkward pacing, or a plot point that just seemed a bit nonsensical. Overall, though, the story was excellent! I gave sources to pro, simply because I found his writing much more enjoyable. Heavy dialogue is actually a style that I am quite fond of. The first round in particular was simply fantastic to read (from the pro). I found the dialogue to be just so real, and pleasant to read. Excellent job, to the both of you.
Vote Placed by SeventhProfessor 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: I'll be judging S/G as S/G, conduct as conduct, sources as story telling diversity (don't know how to phrase that), and args for storytelling and continuity. S/G and conduct were tied. Pro's rounds were really dialogue heavy, while Con had a good balance. Sources to Con. I found both were equally good in the storytelling department, but Con ignored several bits of continuity that both Pro and he set (third person, expert on alcohol). Args to Pro.
Vote Placed by PotBelliedGeek 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Wow! Just wow! I am having a really hard time judging this story, as both contestants make an amazing story in their own right. I was going to vote last night, but I had to sleep on this one. After deliberation, I have decided to award a slight win to pro, for envisioning this world to begin with. Pro gets three point for originality. Con gets two points for imagery, thinking especially of the water scene. Everything else is tied.