Task: Write a story with up to 3,500 words using this image as a reference:
Recognition: 2nd place
Additional Note: Just had about 3 hours after learning about the competition to meet the deadline without messing up my sleep cycle.
“WHAT THE F*CK!”
“Hey, don’t swear.”
“But look at it! I mean, just LOOK AT IT!!!”
“I see it. And I’m not impressed.”
“I’m not impressed, I’m horrified!”
Moritz had a reason to be horrified. He and his partner Max were so-called adventurers. What an adventurer was? Basically someone, who had no job, and either not the skills or the desire to be a constructive member of society.
Adventurers were known for trying to make that one big haul that would make them so wealthy, that they wouldn’t need to work a single day ever again.
Max and Moritz were exactly this kinds of scum. Following a vague lead, they rode to the city of Slant, which was an ancient, long forsaken place.
And there was a reason to it: Because of its rather… unique topographic.
It looked like someone lifted the land like some blanket, twisted it, and left it there as a result. High cliffs were protruding from two sides like corners of a sheet, water is flowing down in rivers and falls from random points, and somewhere in the middle was the city of Slant.
Actually, the name was quite self-explanatory.
For someone like Moritz, who used to work as a builder, it was like a punch in the face; the whole thing should be impossible static-wise.
Max was three times cooler than that. The number may come out from nowhere, but it’s a scientifical fact.
“Let’s go, Moritz.”
“By horse, of course.”
“Let me rephrase that… THERE ARE NO FRIGGIN ROADS!”
“You don’t need roads to climb a mountain.”
“BUT THEY HELP! I mean, look at it.”
“There are so many f*cking forests there, that there is a good chance, that the ground there will be either totally rooty or so soft, that it crumbles beneath our horses’ hooves!”
“And what exactly is the problem?”
“…Max, how much experience do you have with traveling? I mean, like actually riding a horse and such?”
“Not that much. I used to sit in my room back home, always thinking about becoming an adventurer and how I’ll write stories about that life.”
“So basically, you used fantasized about stuff without actually doing your homework, right?”
“Pff… homework. That’s for losers.”
“NO, IT’S NOT! You know that horses can easily break their legs if they’re tripped by a root? Or that the moment they lose foothold, there is a great chance, that they’ll just throw you off, which might break your neck?”
“Don’t be a worrywart.”
“I’m realistic, dammit!”
The reason why Max was scientifically three times cooler than Moritz is that he had only a third of Moritz’s intelligence. So Max didn’t worry about anything much.
To sum it up: Max was the prime example of an adventurer!
Moritz, on the other hand, was just the sorry childhood friend, who may have led a very boring life, but it was somewhat successful. He had a journeyman’s certificate, a job, and everything someone needed to live.
But for some reason, he decided to join Max’s career as an adventurer?
Most likely because Max was able to convince anyone with his confident and calm attitude. “Don’t worry, Moritz,” Max says. “If anything goes wrong, I may use some sort of magic to get us out of it.”
‘BUT THERE IS NO MAGIC!!!’ was something Moritz wanted to yell, but looking at the landscape before him, it was very hard to deny the existence of some mystical forces that laughs of natural laws.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Again, Moritz was complaining.
For a good reason, there was a sign with the following message: ‘You’re about to enter a magical area. Please remove all objects with rare metal in them (including copper), iron, and snacks and put them in the basket here.’
This so smelled like bandits, trying to trick some idiotic adventurers. “We should better do what the sign says.” Idiotic adventurers like Max.
“This is a scam.”
“But can we risk it? You know how fey-creatures are supposed to be weak to iron, and how gold is a rather particular subject in myths?”
“Come on. This is really dumb!”
“No, it’s not.”
“Max, they’re trying to trick us!”
“And later we might be very sorry to call some actual magic a scam.”
<Stop your bickering! It hurts my hearing organ!>
…where did this voice come from?
While Moritz was wary and afraid of bandits, Max, who was three times cooler, after all, acted all natural: “Who said that?” He was just curious.
“…hih?” Moritz was somewhat wailing.
“Oh, the sign?”
“What are you?”
<I’m a mimic.>
“Aren’t mimics suppose to be treasure chests?”
“Moritz, could you please stop gasping? I’m trying to lead a conversation, seriously.” Max looked at his friend with his arms akimbo. “And you, Mr. Mimic, it’s not me being racist, but folklore.”
<Point taken. So would you finally decide whether to remove your stuff or not? I won’t recommend going into the magical field while carrying snacks, rare metals, or iron, but it’s not my life.>
“Why those three?”
<Rare metals, as they’re easily charged with magic and therefore will attain some random effects. Most of those effects are considered as curses.>
<Will cut through the magical field, causing a lot of collateral damage.>
“What about snacks?”
<These are for me. Because I’m hungry for sugar!>
Moritz couldn’t keep it in any longer: “There is a talking sign!” Using his hammer, he smashed the sign into pieces.
“Haaaah… did I get it?”
“I think so.” Even seeing his friend as a murderous bastard, who just killed an innocent mimic, Max remained composed. “But we should really remove our stuff.”
“We should return home!”
“Don’t be like that.”
“I am!? Come on; there was a talking sign!”
“It’s stuff like that, that makes adventuring so interesting.”
“I’d rather have it be boring. Just go to a random ruin and find many treasures, everything is good.”
“But where is the fun?”
“In being filthy rich afterward!”
“But that mimic just showed us, that there is some real magic here! And therefore some magical treasure!”
“Or it’s all just a scam, after all!”
“You’ve seen the mimic?”
“What mimic? Just a sign which was talking. Could be some kind of trick.”
“But it explained why we should remove our metals.”
“That’s bullshit. Here, I show you!” Falling into a fit, Moritz draws an arrow from his quiver and put it on his bow. It’s actually just used for hunting, but the arrow tip is iron. “I’ll shoot an arrow into that field, if the iron is really doing something, then we’ll see that.”
Moritz lifted the bow and shot into the horizon, right to one of these protruding cliffs that were ignoring physics and got on his nerves.
The arrow flew… and then some strange noise came. The cliff is crumbling and falling! Gravity took its toll!
With the mouth wide open, Moritz’s eyes followed the whole spectacle. On the other hand, Max was looking impressed: “I didn’t know you had it in you, Moritz. How about ‘Mountain-Crusher’?”
“Your name as an adventurer. Moritz Mountain-Crusher.”
“…” Moritz didn’t even know how to answer that.
“I think we have proofed the existence of some sort of magical field around here, so how about we start removing all of our metallic objects? – Ah, my belt bucket is copper… so I have to remove my pants, don’t I? I can’t adventure with dropped pants after all.”
So the two friends rode on their horses into the deep forests surrounding the city of Slant. The journey was a hard one, as there were only a few paths they could take on their mounts, but leaving them behind was out of the question, they were trusted companions after all!
Or so they thought, until ‘that’ happened…
While they were trying to find a path in the forest, some sort of bearded gnome comes from between the trees. <Hah! There you are, elves!>
Moritz would’ve been agitated again if those first few words weren’t nonsense. “We are not elves. They don’t even exist.”
<Erm… no elves? You neither?>
“No, I’m Max.”
<HA-HA! There you are, maxes!>
Moritz facepalmed, as the gnome tried its best to overplay his earlier mistake.
“So you have waited for me?” Max was impressed but still calm.
<I knew it had to be you, enslaving animals to your whims. So rotted, you dirty maxes!>
“…Max, make it stop.”
“Who are you?”
“Can I call you Derp?”
“So, Derp. What do you mean with ‘enslaving animals’?”
<Your quadrupedal companions, of course! You ride on them like they are horses?>
“I think they are?”
<No, they are slaves! You ride them like animals, you treat them like some sort of mounts!>
“I still think that’s what they are?”
<You’re so narrow-minded, but let me tell you: They have feelings, too! They suffer from what you did to them! And I will show you!> The gnome took some silvery powder from a bag on his back. <Magic Time!>
He fetched a pinch and threw it on the horses.
And they convulsed.
“Max, quickly! Dismount!”
Both friends jumped from their horses, and it was good that they did. Because they started to transform.
Their body size grew, up to double their original sizes, their forelegs turned into arms, their heads began to rise, and their eyes glittered with intelligence.
<Look at those who you used to enslave! Harharhar! You won’t escape their wrath, maxes! Your doom comes from the slavery you performed yourself!>
“Erm… Moritz?” Max had a very important question.
“…yes, Max?” Moritz lost all of his calm, but he was too much in terror to have any kind of particular reaction. His friend asking him something was actually welcomed.
“What metal are horseshoes made of?”
“Huh?” He totally forgot to consider those when removing all metals.
Yes, the horseshoes didn’t change, while the forehooves turned into hands. Given that they and the nails that held them were made out of iron, they were totally unaffected by the magic and cut the changing flesh as easily as the magic field.
>OOOOOOORRRRRRRGHHH!< Causing the horses great pain, while their hands were ripped apart.
>MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP!!!>
<AHHH!> The gnome yells in terror. <I’M SORRY, I’M SO SORRY!>
>SORRY WON’T CUT IT, BASTARD!<
>WHAT DID WE DO TO DESERVE THIS PAIN!<
<I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY!>
“Max? Should we leave?” Leaving Derp and the pain-tortured horses behind seemed to be the appropriate reaction to this situation.
And with this, Max and Moritz left the scene.
They finally arrived in Slant. All this nonsense would finally stop, they only needed to get ahold of the treasures here and- “Ah!”
“What’s wrong Moritz?”
“If rare metals and iron are faulty within this magic field, will there be any treasures to claim?”
“There are still art objects, like urns, paintings and such?”
“And how should we transport them without horses?”
“Maybe there will be a magic item, which will help us?”
“…let’s get over it.”
“…please. Not again!”
Emerging out of the shadows of a building, an 8 feet tall woman arrived, she has sharp claws, pointy teeth, big curved horns, and a serpent as a tail.
Her body was fully covered with fur, making her looking rather feral but somewhat attractive to a certain crowd of people.
<Here you are heroes! I’ve wai— wait, wait, wait! Where are your pants!?”
“Me?” That’s Max for you; he even stayed calm after being pointed out by a monster.
<Yes, who else?>
“I have to leave my belt behind because I had a copper bucket. So I had no choice but to leave my pants as well.”
<What about using a rope or something as a belt-substitute?>
“Oh, good idea. But I don’t have any pants left to try it out.”
<That’s a hero for you, causing me so much mental damage even before the fight begins.>
“I don’t want to fight you?”
<Of course you do!>
<Because you’re a hero and I’m the Demon Queen! Even after the elves defeated us, cornering us into this city, they still seek to finish us magical beings off! And now they finally sent their most powerful heroes! You blew away my cliff, the challenge is accepted!>
“Oh, so I’m a hero?”
“But I’m no elf.”
<…but you don’t have claws, horns, pointy teeth or other defining features.>
“I’m a human.”
<…never heard of something like that.>
“Ah, but about the cliff: It’s true. Moritz Mountain-Crusher did it!”
<Oh, Moritz Mountain-Crusher? What a strong name! You made your challenge, so now I will answer accordingly!>
Max is cocking his head. “Will you blow up the other cliff to show that you’re able to do the same?”
<…splendid idea!> The self-proclaimed Demon Queen lifted her hand. <Magic Time!> And she started to glow.
It was as light was attracted to her, the more she clenched her fist, there brighter the light became. Additionally, some sort of force was clearly to be felt.
<Take this, cliff! Super Demonic Destructo Blast Torpedo!> Using a very embarrassing name, she channeled the power into a single blast of light and shot it at the remaining cliff.
The sound of an explosion echoed from the impact, and after the smoke and dust settled, the result could be seen. The cliff was obviously punctured but didn’t crumble.
“I think Moritz won,” Max proclaimed.
“You sure did, the cliff is still there. But it was quite a competition.”
<…I lost… Me, the Demon Queen…”
“Well, you were up against Moritz Mountain-Crusher, so you don’t need to be ashamed.”
The ‘Demon Queen’ fell on her knees. <Moritz Mountain-Crusher… you defeated me, the great Demon Queen…>
Moritz, the victor, looked at the display before him. “This… is bullshit. Every little thing here is bullshit! Demon Queen? Seriously?”
<I used to be, but now I’ll become everything you want. I may have lost, but I’ve never lost my pride.>
<…> And so she did.
“What’s wrong with this place!? Talking signs, derpy gnomes, mutating horses, and now the wet dream of a furry!? Give me a break, dammit! And worst of all: This landscape still doesn’t make any sense! WHAT THE F*CK!”
“You’re still on about that?”
“Not only that! What is with all this!? And why do those people say Magic Time, i-”
Suddenly, Moritz felt a surge of power welling up. Power he could form. Power which would listen to everything he desires. Power that made him superior.
So he did the only thing that made sense: To bring sense into this horrifying mess! He used the power to destroy the magic field.
The ground shook, gravity started to affect the landscape and made this impossible construct fall.
Moritz realized something. “SHIT!” Without magic, he would be buried by Slant and this mountain.
“Wow, I’ve never seen something like this.” Even though Moritz did several things recently that made someone doubt the fact that he’s supposed to be three times smarter than Max, the latter one was still three times cooler.
So all came to an end. Only dust and ruins were left behind. The adventurers were nowhere to be seen.
And then a slab was pushed aside by the Demon Queen, who used it to shield the two friends from harm. <Master Moritz Mountian-Crusher, we survived! You took my kingdom, but I don’t need it anymore. I was naive, someone with your magic capabilities and lust for destruction, you’re not a hero, you’re the pinnacle of demonkind!>
“Moritz, I didn’t know you had it in you!”
“Ha…haha….hahaha….hahahahahaha….” Lifeless laughter came from the one, who would soon be known as Moritz Mountain-Crusher, who singlehandedly shattered a whole mountain with his mind alone.
And people wouldn’t know if he was an adventurer or an enemy of mankind. As he brought the Demon Queen back from the realm of myths and legends…