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Ley Lines Contest Voting Now Open

Ley Lines Contest Voting Now Open

Now that you have all six of the entries for the Ley Lines contest, it’s time to vote for your favorite entry. Just pick one of the entries below when you see our poll go live! If you haven’t yet read all the entries, you can visit the handy links below.

[poll id=”5″]

Thanks for voting!

“A Place Without Time” by David Amburgey
“The Apple Thief” by Maggie Hoyt
“A Done Deal, a Final Act, and a Parting” by Chris Lozaga
“Lantern Festival” by Jeff Quick
“Five Finger Discount” by Stephen Rowe

23 thoughts on “Ley Lines Contest Voting Now Open”

  1. “A Place Without Time” for me; I love a good dark tale. Especially if the winner is supposed to expand on these stories; it feels like it could expand into the rest of the setting well.

  2. My vote is for “Five Finger Discount”. We don’t see good humor in fantasy very often, and I think it’s a perfect interpretation of a Midgard NPC.

  3. Pete von Bleichert

    I want to read all of these before voting (especially since I took the time to enter; text below for those who want to see a ‘loser’ entry). When will voting end?

    By Peter von Bleichert

    The loyal son put another log on the fire. Then he put another fur blanket over the thin figure of his father—Geb Sabef. With the old man properly tucked into bed, the son asked of Geb: “Are you comfortable? Can I get you anything else?”
    “Bring me my granddaughter,” Geb demanded, his Southern Tongue thickly accented, betraying his Siwalian upbringing. “Bring me Mernieth.” The words gurgled in his tired throat.
    Geb’s son nodded, and the corners of his mouth rose and twitched in a smile meant to conceal concern.
    “Grandfather,” Mernieth sang as she entered. She was happy to have been summoned as it had been days since she had been allowed into Geb’s chamber. To see him now, even in such condition, drove away the melancholy that had settled upon her during the last week spent without the thrill of her grandfather’s sagas and magic tricks. Mernieth approached the bed. Her eyes scanned the familiar maps and drawings that covered the chamber’s walls.
    Geb used all his strength to raise his hand and stroke Mernieth’s cheek. He floated his rough cracked skin over her soft kind, cradled her little chin, and bathed in the glow of her life-full eyes. Geb coughed, and Mernieth lifted a clay cup to her grandfather’s dry lips. He smiled as he swallowed the cool water.
    “Come, my child.”
    Mernieth shimmied up onto her belly, and, in anticipation of entertainment, snuggled into the deep furs. The warm covers and late hour made her eyelids heavy, and a yawn escaped. Bubu the cat pushed the chamber’s door wide open, strolled in, and jumped to Mernieth. He nuzzled her in demand of stroking which commenced forthwith. Geb looked out the window to the stars that hung above Nuria Natal. Their staccato flashes told him it was time. He took a deep raspy breath.
    “Mernieth, my precious…” Geb started. The cat meowed. “Yes. And you as well, Bubu.” The cat gave nictitating approval at inclusion. “I have lived long—longer than most are meant to,” Geb continued. “I will tell you both a bedtime story. I will tell you the story of the world.”
    Mernieth and Bubu listened intently, though Geb suspected Bubu already knew all that Geb would say.
    “Midgard floats like a great raft on a sea of stars. Many believe that a serpent encircles this raft. They are mistaken. There are, in fact, two serpents. One is black; the other, white. These serpents are coiled around this raft, this world, and they writhe about it all the while. As one moves, the other seeks position, claiming the new void. Though sometimes one gains and one loses, in the end, the serpents balance each other. For, despite their struggle, one cannot survive without the other. They keep the sky in order, too, holding the moons high and the other worlds in their places. They are sentinels at the barriers between planes, and all magic comes from them. Like us—you and I, my dear, Mernieth…and Bubu—these serpents owe allegiance to Aten. They are children of the one who burns bright, the one who warms the world and gives life. They, too, procreated, and became father and mother to Midgard’s first dragons.”
    “Dragons?” Mernieth swallowed. She had heard of such beings in a kingdom far-off.
    “Yes. And, like the serpents and their draconic spawn, Midgard has scales, too.” Mernieth looked confused. Geb smiled. He knew she would soon understand. “Energy arcs between these wriggling serpents. It crackles; it raises the hair on your neck and arms; it feeds all. This energy traverses the land, crisscrossing and forming a sacred geometry; one not known or seen by many. The ‘scales’ are made up of lines that climb great mountains…” Mernieth looked to the wall where a surveyor’s drawing of the Pytonne Mountains hung. “They flow with raging waterways…” Then her eyes darted to the map of the meandering Leukos River. “The lines tickle the roots of dark forests…” Mernieth’s vision wandered to a watercolor of the Tomierran Forest. “And rise in vortexes above spewing volcanoes…” Then to a lithograph of an unnamed shattered peak hat erupted among the Dragoncoils. “These lines are roads to some,” Geb continued. “They are ley lines.”
    Despite pain, Geb sat up. Bubu meowed in demand that the story continue. Mernieth sniffled concurrence.
    “It was many ages ago that my eyes were first opened to their existence. Yet when I became aware, I realized I had known of ley lines all along…”

    Geb Sabef—Tilmeeth Khatat (Apprentice Cartographer) to the God-King—tripped on another of the broken trail’s stones. The way along the Iron Crags was weather-worn and treacherous.
    “Fool, lift your feet,” the Sied Khatat (Master Cartographer) barked.
    “Yes, Sied. Sorry, Sied,” Geb mustered. His feet, despite youth and heavy boots, were blistered and sore. The expedition was deep into its second summer, and, even with generous rations, its members were fatigued and ready for home. They longed for swaying delta reeds and warm desert-borne breezes. The master stopped at an overlook to annotate the rough map he compiled.
    “See that?” Geb’s master asked as he pointed a bony finger at the vista. Geb beheld the ruined Sargau; the hall’s single tower pierced the sky where it was caressed by willowy clouds. Though its glory days were long passed, its construction and location were impressive. Geb nodded. “Do you know why it is there?” his master taunted.
    “A beacon? A vantage? A stronghold?”
    “Good guesses,” the master chuckled. “They are, however, wrong.” The Sied Khatat looked Geb up and down. “You are a skilled mapmaker, and, best of all, you know your place in the world.” Geb wished he could rub his feet. Instead he stood upright as a sign of appreciation and subordination. The master contemplated him further, and then declared: “Yes, you will do.” Geb watched as his teacher reached into a deep pocket. From it he pulled a monocle.
    It had a circular translucent red lens, a slice of quartz or ruby, and a gold rim that was encrusted with small gems and embossed with glyphs. The master held the monocle up, smiled at Geb, and then brought the item to his eye. “Ah,” he exclaimed, “the world is wondrous.”
    “See for yourself,” the master said as he handed Geb the monocle. Geb took it. It weighed more than he expected. As he raised it and peered through it, the view turned red. Then he noticed something else. Something that halted his mind.
    “What…what is that?” Geb stuttered. The master only chuckled.
    Across the land, a ribbon of flowing power laid. It pointed straight to the ruins at Sargau. Another stream of energy split off there. Of purples and pinks, this one seemed to undulate. It dove beneath the stone peaks before it rose again to touch a lake and wooded grove before it went under a towering mount whose snow-capped peak feathered off in high altitude winds. The master reveled in Geb’s bewilderment.
    “Those are the bones of the world.”
    “Not like those that protect your vitals,” the master said, poking a finger between two of Geb’s ribs. Transfixed with his new perspective on the land, Geb did not react to his touch.
    “My Aten,” is all Geb could muster. He lowered the monocle and watched the master draw a line on his rough map; a ley line.

    Geb told Mernieth and Bubu that, from that day forth, he was a changed man. It was not long thereafter that Geb became a Master Cartographer to the God-King, and was given the magical item that came to be called the ‘Third Eye.’ He had embarked on many adventurous expeditions during which he saw and mapped most of Midgard and the matrix of ley lines that covered it like an invisible net. Soon, Geb was touched by the very lines he surveyed, and could now see them without use of the Third Eye. He had learned to tap them, too, healing injuries and prolonging life.
    “How long?” Mernieth asked. She realized she did not know her grandfather’s true age.
    “Long enough to meet you, my precious child,” Geb rasped. “I am tired now, though.” Geb reached beneath the pile of furs that kept his ailing body warm, and pulled out a small felt pouch. “Open it.” Bubu sniffed at the air and batted the pouch’s small knotted drawstring. Mernieth tugged at it and the pouch opened. Reaching in, she pulled forth the Third Eye. “It is yours now. Take it to the balcony and see for yourself of what I speak.”
    Mernieth playfully looked through the monocle, and marveled at the color shift.
    “To the balcony,” Geb nudged his granddaughter. Mernieth rose and went to the balcony’s door. The night was beyond the pattern of carved crescent moons and stars that adorned it. Bubu followed her movements, and his yellow eyes blinked lazily with adoration and curiosity. Mernieth pushed the doors open and the delta breeze pushed back. It tossed her long black hair and buffeted the chamber’s fire. Outside, beneath a star-filled black blanket, was Nuria Natal.
    The city’s palms swayed and rustled. The stiff breeze ran along rows of colorfully painted mud houses, ascended monuments to god-kings and –queens, circled the temples and wrapped their domes, clambered up the palace walls to enter where few could or did, and climbed the steps of the pyramids. Mernieth stepped onto the balcony, smelled the delta reeds and the river, and let the breeze lap at her face.
    Mernieth raised the Third Eye. She held it away from her face at first and looked at the stars through it. They winked red to her. Then, cautiously, she brought it to her eye and lowered her view. There, coursing from the delta, the river, and the desert beyond were three ribbons. One was blue, the others green and orange. They ran along the city’s main promenades, and intersected at the central obelisk, twistingly enveloped it, and rose towards its top where they melded into a tri-colored orb that floated over the monument’s pinnacle. The orb grew and shrank, oscillated and wobbled.
    “Mernieth?” Geb coughed.
    “Grandfather, I see wonderful things,” Mernieth exclaimed.
    “The Third Eye is yours now,” Geb said, knowing full well that the vision she now beheld would alter her perception of the world—both literally and figuratively—forever. It was the greatest gift he could give her.
    Mernieth raised and lowered the monocle. She pondered the shift between the reality her senses presented, and that which became perceptible via the magical item. This real reality hinted at another world that begged to be explored, a veil that needed to be lifted. Though Mernieth was still a child, this Third Eye would become the driving force behind a life-long pursuit of knowledge and wisdom; a life that would be lived in her grandfather’s name. Mernieth turned back to his chamber.
    “Gra–” Her mouth hung open. He was gone. Purring, Bubu looked towards a corner of the room. Mernieth raised the monocle to her eye, and looked where the cat stared. She saw a wisp of light there, and, before it went up through the chamber ceiling, she heard a whisper in her ear. It was her grandfather’s voice that said: “I love you, will always be with you, and will see you again.”
    As much as she felt like crying, Mernieth smiled.
    Bubu meowed.

  4. Pete von Bleichert – I did not read your whole entry, but with the full intent of giving you constructive feedback (which I’m assuming you’d like, since you posted your story here) let me just say a few things: Overall, I like your writing style. It’s coherent and interesting to read. However – and take this with a grain of salt – it is overwhelmingly descriptive, which makes it difficult to read overall. Sometimes less is more (remember you want to focus on plot and character development, not what so-and-so’s hair looked like under 50 different shades of light).

    To take an example from your story: “He floated his rough cracked skin over her soft kind, cradled her little chin, and bathed in the glow of her life-full eyes. Geb coughed, and Mernieth lifted a clay cup to her grandfather’s dry lips. He smiled as he swallowed the cool water.” While you do a great job of making the reader really see what you’re picturing in your mind, the overcomplexity of the sentences ultimately take away from the story by making it burdensome and wordy. If I highlight all the adjectives in these sentences perhaps you’ll see what I mean: rough, cracked, soft, little, life-full, dry, cool. This is a lot for only 3 sentences. I understand completely how hard it is to limit descriptive words (because they’re so much fun to use!), but in my opinion your story would read better if you left only the descriptions that really mattered.

    But don’t let this feedback discourage you! On the contrary, keep writing! You do it well. Sometimes a little subjectivity helps to bring certain aspects of your own writing into scrutiny that might not have otherwise been noticed.

  5. “He thought of his own ancestral homeland, eternal mountains and forests that would forever overshadow the accomplishments of men.”

    Wonderful line, David. Wonderful story…

  6. I wish we could have voted for more than one: maybe given a first place and second place. I had two favorites.

  7. Wolfgang, maybe I’m being overly optimistic – but is there any chance the six finalists can get feedback from the judges who selected us?

  8. The judges signed up to read all the entries, and provide rankings to nominate finalists. Some of them *might* offer extra feedback out of an abundance of generosity, but they are all quite busy people.

    So, you can ask, but what you want is more commonly found in a writer’s group with peers who critique each other’s work, or a writing workshop where pros work with a group for a fee days or a week (and are paid for their time).

  9. Voting is over, and congrats are in order! We’ll have an official announcement in a while, but yes, David is our winner for the first Ley Lines contest!

    Thanks to everyone who voted and participated. I think it’s pretty safe to say we’ll do this again in future.

  10. This was a really neat thing to offer, and I enjoyed reading all the entries. Might have to submit something myself, next time!

  11. Thank you Troy. I had a blast reading all the contest entries, everyone did a great job. I hope I get the chance to read more of everyone’s work in the future. And many thanks to Kobold Press for the wonderful opportunity to write in the world of Midgard. It’s a very rich setting and I’m thrilled to be working with Kobold going forward!

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