[RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linker

A place to check out previous and upcoming events

[RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linker

Postby [GM] Repth » 2020-03-08 17:20 (Sunday)

Image

At long last - the result of the Star Gladiator x Soul Linker Creative Contest has been revealed!

Entries were judged blindly by a panel of OriginsRO staff, where each entry was given personalized feedback and winners chosen based on the criteria of Skill, Style and Creativity.
Each entry and the feedback for it can be found below. Winners will be revealed at the end - so sit back, grab a coffee, and enjoy the show.




ART CONTEST

Image
Entry 1: Purrincess
Very unique art style - really really pleasing to look at. It looks deceptively simple at first glance but it's clear there is a huge amount of technical skill behind it and you have managed to absolutely nail this style. It has a bit of an eastern-european vibe - it reminds us of a tarot card, or a matryoshka doll. The texture of the brushstrokes makes it stand out that little bit more where it could have quite easily been flat colors. It would fit very well in an illustrated children's book!

Image
Entry 2: Blissilia
The Asian theme fits really well here - it's great to see a well-thought-out scene created to go with the characters. There's a lovely atmosphere which really captures the "mystical" feeling of Soul Linker. The reflections of color and light are really well-done, and the color theme as a whole is very strong - the bright, saturated reds and pale blues look great against dark navy, and not too overused. Looking at this makes you curious about the characters - their expressions, their posture, that spirit of the fish, all leaves you wondering what their story is.

Image
Entry 3: mina-i
She looks so sad, staring at that water. You just want to hug her! This too leaves you wondering what her story is. This captures the feeling of sadness and melancholy so well, and such a soft style of painting with subtle, muted colors works perfectly for it. The texture is a nice touch - it really makes it feel like a canvas painting despite being digital. The reflections in the water are especially well-done.

Image
Entry 4: Muskrat
What can we say - it made us laugh! A few of us clocked the reference to this old gem - really cute shout-out. Such an oddly specific situation too; tanking goblins with Kaupe is pretty amusing in it's own right.

Image
Entry 5: Xellie
This style kinda has an oldschool magical-girl vibe to it! You've really captured that elegant motion of her of casting a skill. The strong, vibrant colors are good against the dark background and the teal is a nice contrast to the reds of her outfit. Nice color choices, and overall a bold, simple piece.

Image
Entry 6: Shirohana
Video| Extras
Such a cool idea to make a 3d model! A unique medium for sure and clearly a lot of skill goes into recreating a character in 3d, and by making it in a toony style you've managed to avoid uncanny valley. The face is nicely done - the eyes especially have a cool ethereal look to them. The pale, muted colors make for a pleasing palette overall - she has such a soft, floaty look to her. It would be awesome to see this animated!

Image
Entry 7: Kido
Oldschool loading screen / wallpaper vibes from this one - love it! It'll be a pleasure to see this in-game. The gradients and shading are simple but effective, and the background isn't too distracting to take away from your characters. A lot of attention to detail has been given here - the tiny bits of details like the flowers on the Soul Linker's sash, the stitches on the shoes, the ragged edges of the Taekwon's headband...the more you look, the more you find. Amazingly intricate!

Image
Entry 8: Sonschi
Really nice job that you designed a full environment that the characters are interacting with. You've made good efforts with a dynamic pose with the Star Gladiator - the windswept hair is a nice touch. You've spared no effort in the background - the moss on the cliffs, the little ridges of sand along the beach, the subtle gradient to the sky - good stuff. An unusual idea too - poor Asters!

Image
Entry 9: k.
What a lovely little drawing! It might not be the most grandiose or extravagant but there's something about this that kept catching our attention. It's hard to put it into words, but this really has that oldschool RO vibe to it - everyone straight away said it reminded them of classic RO card art. Sweet, simple and highly effective. The strong outlines really make everything pop against the soft blends of the watercolor, and the variable line width gives it so much more character. Beautiful technique too - crisp edges and soft blends mixed perfectly. And what a cute scene - simply a pleasure to look at.

Image
Entry 10: Salvi
We all love these humorous entries! The switch from the serious, composed characters on the left to the goofing around on the right is great. What's more, it's like two drawings in one! Poor lil' guy!

Image
Entry 11: Alyss
Fantastic concept - simple but creative, and a theme that extends beyond just Soul Linker but to RO as a whole. A novice gazing to the future, or perhaps a Soul Linker looking back on the past. Lovely shading - fantastic work with the light sources and rim lighting. This combined with the mirror reflection (mirror scenes are deceptively difficult to draw!) make this a very impressive piece. The way you have used the lighting too is very clever and really helps the story you are trying to tell; a moody, dim scene surrounding the novice, with bright, sunny lighting in the mirror. She has a bright future ahead of her.

Image
Entry 12: Star-linked
This is a lovely scene that leaves you wondering the story behind it. A nice homage to Kimi no na Wa! Lovely warm colors from the sunset; the sun being framed by their hands is a nice touch. You've done a good job capturing emotions - the Soul Linker is gazing at her beloved with such a peaceful look on her face. Two souls, linked. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy~

Image
Entry 13: 321
Really interesting and unique style - the loose, sketchy look feels reminiscent of traditional ink paintings, or old FF art by Yoshitaka Amano. It feels like a flashback to events of the past, where a narrator is recalling an old story. Very cool look.

Image
Entry 14: Nee
Really like the style and colors here. Instantly recognized the Dagger of Counter! Nice work with a limited color pallete and good, clean lines.

Image
Entry 15: Judar
A new couple? Best buddies? Still in Morocc after the job change? This is a nice cute and upbeat image. Lovely work on the coloring; the bright saturated characters stand out well against the dusty desert background, and your use of color really helps sell the dry, arid environment of Morroc. The shiny highlights and crisp shadows are done especially well and really makes the characters pop. Another great scene!

Image
Entry 16: Kithira
Extra
Huge kudos for actually going and making a painting on canvas! The black silhouette against the sunset is strong and effective and creates a well-balanced composition. The little swirly stars in the bottom corners remind me of Van Gough's Starry Night, and that cat with the bow (is that a Wild Rose?) makes me think of Kiki's delivery service. The side photo showing the texture is very much appreciated... you just want to reach out and touch it!!

Image
Entry 17: ExCharny
"Wow"- I think that's what everyone said when they first saw this. Simply gorgeous palette and such a skilful execution of such a small amount of colors. You have absolutely captured that shimmering, swirling, glowing ethereal look; a great representation for someone under blue glow of a Soul Link. A nice concept too, illustrating somebody in the act of receiving a Soul Link. Fantastic work!
[GM] Repth
User avatar
[GM] Repth
Game Master
Game Master
Santa Poring
Santa Poring
 
Posts: 43
Joined: 2020-01-04 22:16 (Saturday)
Location: The World
Gender: Male

Re: [RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linke

Postby [GM] Repth » 2020-03-08 17:20 (Sunday)

CRAFT CONTEST

Image
Entry 1: Chia
Board | Cards | Handbook
Make sure you click the links to see the supporting documents - one photo doesn't do it justice! What a jaw-dropping effort. You've gone to the lengths to plan the game, design the board, write the rules, format them into a beautiful handbook and physically make the game too! The effort, presentation, and all-around final piece is top-notch. Fantastic job.

Image
Entry 2: Joyoko
This diorama is so charming and such a nice idea! The layering really gives it depth and brings an everyday scene from Geffen to life. I'd love to have this on my desk!
[GM] Repth
User avatar
[GM] Repth
Game Master
Game Master
Santa Poring
Santa Poring
 
Posts: 43
Joined: 2020-01-04 22:16 (Saturday)
Location: The World
Gender: Male

Re: [RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linke

Postby [GM] Repth » 2020-03-08 17:21 (Sunday)

WRITING CONTEST

Entry 1: Squishyyy
Path of a Soul Linker
[Formatted Entry]
Nice setup and introduction of your character's backstory - just by describing his early life it was quickly apparent that he was a Taekwon Ranker. Making him the son of the Taekwon job change NPC is a nice touch and really ties your character into the world. Your description of the Abyssal Knight was especially strong - it perfectly captured that dread you feel when you first encounter one as a low level. Nice twist having Blayze become a Soul Linker too.

Entry 2: Luthiel
The Return of Soon™ : Soul Linker is Coming
[Formatted Entry]
Spoiler: show
The Midgardian Post

The Return of Soon™ : Soul Linker is Coming

Origin RO’s GM team has recently confirmed that both Soul Linkers and Star Gladiators will be Soon TM implemented at the end of the current Christmas Event, allowing possibility of career growth for Midgardian children who practice the art of Tae Kwon Do. The announcement is met with an unexpectedly wide range of reactions from general indifference to Midgardian parents expressing their happiness over better prospect for their children’s future career as well as philosophical debate over potential slavery over Soul Linker class.

“I am very happy that now my daughter will have a chance to job-change tas Soul Linker instead of staying forever as TaeKwon Kid. It has been her dream for years,” said an Aldebaran resident who refuse to be named. “However I am very concerned that she will end up being a random guild’s link buffer, condemned to stay in town performing menial task of Spirit Link instead of allowed to actively participate in parties. That is slavery!”

Many Midgardians voice similar concerns that Soul Linker’s Spirit Link skills are prone to abuse by dual clienting usage, where a “slave” linker sits in town when their master roams fields and dungeons alone instead of partying. However, this point of view is not shared by all.

“Well, that is not going to be the general case for everyone. At least, not for me,” stated a Geffen resident fervently. “My best friend and I intend on being a fully and actively played Soul Linker from level 1 to 99. Soul Linkers have many different skills that will make them amazing fighters. And we will of course party together the whole way up. Don’t let the people make you believe no one would do that!”

An unprecedented phenomenon

While the news is generally met with positive reactions by the Midgardian population, the implementation date of the two extended classes is often criticized as being too Soon TM after the coming of the Rebirth Quest.

“It has been barely three months since the Rebirth patch implementation! This update will once again require us to change tactics and we are NOT ready for this !!! We will have to urgently recruit more children, I mean Novice, to be trained as future Linker as soon as possible” shouted an unnamed East Pronteran-based WOE guild leader while furiously drafting a hundred Microsoft Excel spreadsheets planning the guild’s updated strategy during interview with our reporter. Said Guild Leader refused to comment over our journalist’s questions concerning the ethics of recruiting future-linker-Novices Child Soldier as part of WOE effort. Many comparison has been drawn with the use of Baby Class in active WOE combats, a common pre-trans WOE practice that had lately disappeared.

“This update shows that the server undergoes a positive evolution trend in term of episode advancement. However this is the first time in the server’s history that two major updates are released barely three months apart. According to my research, this has never happened before,” said Professor Marc Merle of Renkenber University, specialist of Origins RO’s Midgardian History. “This phenomenon is without precedence. Hence, it is too early to conclude whether this pace should be taken into account for future trend of episode release prediction, as we need a few more years’ worth of research before reaching any conclusion over the matter. I advise everyone not to hastily expect major update every three months before more data points can be obtained."

Epidemy of Sun-Blindness cases reported: Country-Wide Health Emergency Declared

The news over the update has also created many unintended consequences. Pronteran General Hospital has reported a steep influx of patients suffering from eye injuries due to observing the sun with bare eyes, causing a shortage in Panaceas and Green Potions.

“Our Emergency Room is overwhelmed by patients needing urgent care for Sun-Blindness after prolonged hours of sky-watching without any eye protection,” said Dr. Liesl, head of Pronteran General Hospital. “We are currently recruiting for more Priests and High Priests possessing the skill Cure to reinforce our team. It seems that many TaeKwon Kids try to practice in advance the art of sky watching in order to prepare for the upcoming update. It is very important to remember that children eyes are fragile and if not done properly, sun-watching practice may lead to permanent blindness.”

The sudden increase of Sun-Blindness case number has also forced the Kingdom of Rune-Midgardian to declare country-wide Health Emergency Event.

“King Tristan III and the Royal Family wish to convey their sympathy to those who suffer this affliction,” in a statement given by Pronteran Castle’s spokesperson. “The King has decided to generously donate two dozen boxes of unslotted Sunglasses as part of his Duty and Obligation to serve the people of Rune Midgard during this time of trial and crisis.”

Midgardian population, especially those who wish to practice Sun-day related Star Gladiator skills are invited to protect their eyes appropriately when practicing skywatching.

It's great how this is written like an actual news article, and the supplimentary formatted entry presents it fantastically. Interviews from locals make it seem just like a small-town newspaper! The part about Soul Linker slavery is a nice touch - it's a gameplay element that you don't think twice about as a player, but it's something that's had an impact on this living, breathing world. Really creative idea that brings alive the world that we play in, with just the right amount of cheeky meta references.

Entry 3: Atomic
Spoiler: show
...A temple,or at least it was before...

My curiosity has led me here and now I am trapped,running for my life.
...
I see these people looking for me,they seem human,but inside...probably not anymore.
Their masks and robes covered in blood.They used to serve here.
Priests,stone workers and artisans of all sorts, brought here for a goddess, now mindlessly roaming around.
...
I have no choice but to push forward,evading the danger and searching for clues,answers to those hearts I saw earlier.
I wish I could find a way back to them.
...
I am starting to understand what they were trying to achieve here,and what led them to this existence.
The high priestess,does she know?She must know,they are all covering this up.
...
My magic helped me kill one of them,but there are just too many.
Kaahi saved me once already,I just hope that my spiritual energy can last long enough.
So I must take them on one by one,kill,cover ground,hide then repeat.
...
I am not the first one to come to this cursed place.
I saw reamins of adventurers from Midgard in the hall,near the fountain and in the library.
Crusaders and priests,all of them beaten by the inhabitants of these once holy grounds.
...
My dagger is broken and I can no longer sense the spirits around me.
This place is getting the best of me.
...
I noticed a gloomy light in the distance.
Might I find there the answers I seek?I must investigate.
...
Traces of runes on the ground,flames.
As I approach the heat starts to rise and I can hear some bellowing echoing all around.
...
I am able to distinguish an enormous silhouette covered with flames slowly floating between the pillars.
...
It sensed my presence.

Do I spy a little sneak peak into Rachel Sanctuary? There are just enough hints to piece together where the character is, but the setup is vague and mysterious enough to pique your curiosity and leave you wanting more.

Entry 4: Shirohana
Divine Providence, a mysterious encounter
Spoiler: show
Expedition Log - Day 0 - Shiroi Hanabi

Today marked my 326th day in official servitude of Odin at the church of Prontera. It was a bright summer day, the warm rays of sunlight scattering through the stained glass of the church. As I was diligently going about my daily routine, I caught a glimpse of a large burly man entering through the front arches of the main hall of the church from the corner of my eyes. He was equipped in a full set of heavy plate armor, polished so thoroughly that light was reflecting off of it. A large glimmering jewel was embedded into the center of his breastplate, further decorated by the engraving of a holy cross. Immediately Identifying this man as a crusader of the Church, I soon returned to focus on my work and dove back into the little side chapel to finish up.

Fifteen minutes later, I relaxed my sore muscles and slowly stretched my back before stowing away the mop and bucket. With a sense of satisfaction I trailed back out into the main hall, only to find a large gathering of important officials of the church surrounding the crusader. He seemed to be holding a parchment in his hand, and was vehemently exclaiming his stance to the large crowd that had gathered around him. The shrill old voice of one of the high priests stood out amongst the symphony of complaints as it echoed through the main hall “ Has that old fart lost his mind completely!?”, the content of her words seemingly very unbecoming of one of the most senior members of the church. The crusader, on the other hand, kept a stern expression throughout the entirety of his speech. As I inched closer to get a grasp of the situation, a fellow priest nudged me gently whilst wearing an anxious expression. He muttered to me in a displeased voice, his tone representative of the general mood in the church, saying that all of us were to be mobilized by royal decree of King Gaebolg the third. Confused as I still was, I asked him for the reasoning behind the sudden missive. He just nodded his head towards the crusader, forcing my attention back to the speech that was about to end. Only on the day of departure did I fully understand the objective of this expedition. We were to march towards Glast Heim castle to retrieve an ancient tome that was once stolen during Schmitz Von Walters’ tyranny, originating from the depths of Geffenia.


Expedition Log - Day 9 - Shiroi Hanabi

Long lines of men and women were trudging through the green plains of Geffen. A scant few heavy armored knights and crusaders were sat on top of Peco Peco’s to the flanks of the large caravan which was made up out of a few battle hardened knights, priests and wizards. However, the large majority still consisted of young mages, swordsmen and women, and acolytes. Prontera had mobilized in full, with a similar missive being delivered to the Magicians Guild in Geffen. Finding the high walls encompassing all of Glast heim already in sight, I moved forward through the lines to take a better look. Having read much about this place in preparation for the expedition, I was fully aware of the horrors that resided within. Demons and undead dubbed as super entities roamed freely in its depths, an amalgamation of Von Walter’s depravity. This unholy place that was rumored to be a portal directly to Hell, hadn’t been visited by many mortals ever since Grenholm von Gaebolg had overthrown the Mad King in a coup d’état. Perpetual darkness seemed to be looming over the high perched castle towers. The contrast between the blue ocean and azure skies surrounding it made the blotch of monochromatic colors truly feel like a different realm altogether.



Expedition Log - Day 16 - Shiroi Hanabi

The light does not reach this place. It was true what was rumored about this forsaken place, the gods had truly abandoned it. Nightmares of all forms and sizes were encountered within mere minutes of setting foot inside of the castle itself. Smiling clowns with eyes devoid of emotion, possessed treasure boxes that had sprouted gigantic teeth, floating mirrors that reflected the inner-demons residing in one's soul. As a priest, I was within the innermost area of our forces. Yet, all sense of security and safety had long abandoned me. The outer shell of sword wielding youths seemed to be thinning with every meter we advanced. As we delved deeper, the frequency of knights being heavily injured rose sharply, and I faintly recall one coming before me for treatment that was missing his lower jaw entirely. His eyes were desperately begging me to alleviate his suffering, having lost the ability to do so in actual words. Somewhere else, hidden in a dark corner of the castle, a mimic was chomping on the mangled combination of flesh, bones...and teeth.


Expedition Log - Day ?? - Shiroi Hanabi

Aside from the grunting of a few good men, silence filled the spacious corridors we had occupied. As I looked around carefully, the original hundreds accompanying me had dwindled down to a number barely reaching two dozen. Initially, the members of the church had spared no effort in attempting to rescue the critically wounded as our numbers kept dwindling. But orders were given by one of the commanding crusaders to only care for those who were still able to fight. Low on energy myself, I couldn’t even bring myself to refute the orders.

We took this rare moment of respite to recover our strength. Around fifteen minutes later we felt the entirety of the castle shake. It felt like an earthquake at first. But as I felt my surroundings shake a second, and then a third time, I quickly abandoned that thought. There seemed to be a pattern to the quakes, and they were increasing in intensity too. Accompanying the tremors, the sound of metallic clamoring was heard all around. The screeching noise of metal grinding against concrete immediately put the ragged bunch of survivors in full alert. The many old rusty ornamental sets of armor decorating the hallway around us appeared to be coming alive.

The commanding crusader was quick to notice the change too, and immediately yelled out “ CIRCLE FORMATION!! “. All the while, the constantly quaking castle itself was foreboding, loud crashing footsteps approaching from the front. The cacophony of clanking, screeching and buzzing noises left me in a daze, only snapping out of it once one of the corridors walls collapsed completely. A behemoth waltzed through the concrete wall, its shield alone sizing up to three crusaders in width. Covered from head to toe in distorted spiky metal, red liquids seemed to be oozing out every crevice that linked up the metal lumps covering its body. One of the crusaders charged forward valiantly whilst various fortifying spells were surrounding his holy armor. What came after can only be described as pandemonium. Waves upon waves of rattling animated armors that were wielding rusty longswords were flooding out from the intersecting corridors. The crusader that had previously charged forward was immediately drowned in the wave of metal.


Arrows whistled past my ears, but all I could hear were the blood curdling screams of the knights at the perimeter of our formation. Despair engulfed me, and I couldn’t stop my trembling legs from giving in. As I helplessly slumped to the floor, the fear that had clutched my heart left me unable to even scream. With shivering eyes I found a young acolyte clutching the hem of my robes. Dozens of bloody holes were drilled into his body, with gruesome looking arrows covering his figure like a pin cushion. I closed my eyes in acceptance of my fate. My body shook one last time as I felt a hand resting on one of my shoulders. A warm hand, with fingers.. Not being able to make the connection, I didn’t dare open my eyes as I waited for inevitable death.

All of a sudden, my entire world was radiating in a blue shimmer. Time seemed to have come to a stop, and complete silence filled my surroundings. No screams were heard, nor the clamoring of metal clashing against metal. Instead I felt like I was floating in the air, weightlessly and unimpeded by the forces of nature. When I slowly opened my eyes, I saw the bustling streets of prontera. My attention was drawn to a small feeble girl begging at the side of the road. As if pulled by the machinations of destiny I was floating towards her. She cried out “Zennies please!”, as she approached various wealthy looking individuals to ensure her survival. One of the merchants impatiently tossed the mud covered child to the side, before making his way to the bustling bazaar to earn his millions. The frail child hit the floor and another bruise was added to her legs. She crawled back up quickly, only a single tear welling up in the corner of her eyes as she wordlessly cursed her own existence. A kind looking old priest witnessed this encounter and brought her into the church of Prontera. As I followed the pair as a distant immaterial observant, I witnessed the story of a small frail girl growing up to be a full fledged devout member of the Church. An endless amount of time seemed to pass as I silently went through countless lives such as the one before, sometimes as a third party observer, other times through the eyes of the person directly.

After what felt like an eternity, I felt a tugging sensation at my belly jolting me back to my original vessel. A cursory glance around told me I had fallen down into the abyss once more, finding the bloodied acolyte in front of me drawing his last breaths. The sense of despair I once felt upon seeing these sights was gone however, and an inexplicable resolve had replaced it. I looked back to find a young girl wearing oriental looking gowns with golden motifs detailing it still resting her hand on my shoulder. She smiled at me in a carefree, comforting manner, detached from the mortal struggles of the world. She confidently told me “You are not alone, and you will survive this ordeal.”. As she proclaimed this, the acolyte in front of me miraculously stood back up with renewed vigor whilst being shrouded in a blue aura.

To this day, my mind still hasn’t fully comprehended what had transpired back then. All I know is that I witnessed the remaining veterans around me radiating in a faint blue light, projections of legendary figures silently floating behind them in ethereal form. My body moved on its own, and even the voice in which I spoke did not belong to me. I remember clutching my rosary, and exclaiming the Lord's name to summon holy brilliance in the shape of a cross. The holy light that shot forth completely disintegrated a number of the animated armors occupying one of the corridors. As I stood back up confidently, two of the crusaders were throwing their shields forward into the gap I had created, widening it even further. We pushed forward through the gap, and as the strength left my body once more one of the nearby knights forcibly grabbed my robes and dragged me along in their retreat. Moments before I blacked out, I tried to locate the strange girl again.

Even now as I recall these past events, I have no recollection of seeing her throughout the entire expedition aside from those moments. It was as if she had never existed in the first place, and had only appeared through some sort of divine providence. Today, my faith is stronger than ever, and I feel eternal gratefulness to whichever god was looking out for us that day.

The way this is written as an adventurer's log is in itself is a clever way to present a snippet of what is clearly a larger story within the 2000 word limit. Despite the diary-like format the story is not lacking in description - all those little details like the polish of the crusader's armor and the screeching of the metal along the floor conjures such a vivid image that it feels like you're there. The way you introduced the unimplemented class of Soul Linker in a non-meta manner was a really nice touch - it was cool to see the story through the eyes of a Priest, and for them to rationalize what happened as a miracle from God.

Entry 5: Kiyaru
Spoiler: show
Chapter 1: Spark of curiosity

I’ve always enjoyed a good read to pass the time. And as many a reader, I too had a favorite book. A story of grandeur, knowledge long lost and mysteries to be rediscovered. It told of magical powers being channeled through runes, in ways I cannot fathom. Warriors and magi alike were able to do such things. Clerics using Talismans, a sort of paper inscribed with runic patterns. Utilizing these papers to invoke great magical feats of empowerment and healing. Warriors strengthening their physical characteristics with runes inlaid in both armor and weaponry. Truly fascinating.

Growing up I would get lost in these types of stories, as I could only dream of such a convenient way of using magic. Being stuck in this dusty old dojo, all I knew was how to control my own body, to utilize it as a weapon. A curse bestowed upon me by birthright alone, as heir to the grand master of this ‘sacred temple’. The honorable art of Taekwondo has been ingrained in me since I was barely able to walk. Every second not spent on my training would result in me being whacked on on my head; Or worse. To keep training throughout the night without the comfort of having had supper. To harden both my body and mind for the day I would have to become a Taekwon master. A guiding beacon to the generation of taekwon practitioners to come after me.

I could only dream of using the arcane arts, weaving into existence things that did not exist before.

As a boy grew into a young adolescent; Dreaming evolved into a burning desire to uncover the truth of these stories. Having spent most of my life in Payon I had heard of a particular story being told as folklore. About a girl who, due to family factors was forced to leave her childhood love, and as a result of a broken heart had died an early death. And a boy, who willingly followed his childhood love into the grave so that they might be reunited. Both were linked to charms which resurrected them, albeit without memories of their previous lives. Subconsciously they were still out there searching for each other. These charms are still hanging on their hats.

Were these charms a form of the ancient rune talisman magic that I had read about in the stories?! I couldn’t help but shake the thought! I had to get out there, and find out for myself. Investigate it if only to sate my own curiosity.

Chapter 2: Delve into the dungeon

Under the cover of nightfall I left my home with naught but a light traveling pack. Containing a few rations, potions and other basic supplies to aid me in my quest for the truth. Following the path north east out of payon towards the archer village, where the cave entrance was said to be. My hand trailing along the mountain’s surface to guide my steps for what seemed like an eternity. Accompanied only by the gentle broken moonlight, falling in through the dense tree tops of the overgrown forest. I felt at ease, if only briefly.

The sounds of the forest surrounding me had long gone silent, but it only dawned on me the moment I found the entrance. Looking back on it, I didn’t heed the obvious signs. And simply pushed forward with my goal in mind.

I clearly remember the acidic and grotesque smell that greeted me near the entrance. Defecation of bats and other cavern dwellers. I could hear them fluttering above me in the darkness and the occasional one hitting me during their flight. Trying to pierce my skin with their sharp teeth.

The interior was pitch black and I could scarcely see where my feet were leading me. Relying on my senses of touch, hearing and smell primarily to guide me forward. The walls were covered in a mixture of dry moss and wet rough surface where the rocks broke through. A mixture of water.. and other substances. I winced everytime I felt such an occurrence, and wilfully did not investigate further. Though the smell alone was enough to tell me it was decaying and rotting.

Faint whispers and ghastly moans were echoing through the corridors surrounding me. Sounds of shuffling creatures dragging their body from one way to another. The gnashing of bones being gnawed on, flesh being torn from their origins. I felt a sense of existential dread as I descended further and further, being determined to not be their next meal.

My sense of direction had left me entirely. With no idea which way was back or forward I was lost in the depths. It was here that I encountered what I had yearned too. The shape of a young girl silently bouncing forward on her feet, dressed in a red dirtied robe and an ancient hat. A long braided pigtail which nearly reached the ground trailing behind her. Taken by the moment I stumbled forward, hitting my toe on an errant stone.

Her head slowly turned around to gaze at the disturbance. Eyes devoid of life stared directly into mine before she charged. I was barely able to break my fall and get my feet in place before she struck me. I could hear my collarbone snapping on the blow. Her strength wasn’t like anything I had ever encountered before. The unchecked and raw strength such a small frame was able to muster wasn’t human. The rest of the fight turned into a haze, my body instinctively took over. Though I felt all my kicks and attacks connecting it barely phased this young maiden. It wasn’t until I managed to kick her hat off her head that she had stopped moving and slumped to the ground.

Haggard and beaten from the fight I sat down besides her lifeless body. Inspecting it with suspicion, hoping it wouldn’t get up again to finish the job. I found a diary on her person, upon closer inspection it contained all sorts of stories and observations about a handsome young man, a heir to payon. His name.. Bongun. It felt dishonorable to read such private memories, even if they were of person no longer among us. But it validated the stories told in the village.

‘That’s right.. the charm! Where’s the charm?’ I thought to myself, eagerly looking around for the evidence I sought. ‘If it’s not on her then..’ I muttered as I reached for the hat, leveling it with my eyesight to inspect it closer. ‘Bingo..’ I thought to myself as there was an ancient piece of paper hanging from it. And to my surprise, it was full of runes I did not understand and couldn’t read. When I tore the piece of paper from it’s confines, I could feel an infinite flood of memories washing over me. Taking me through the most happy and miserable moments of this person’s life. The grief, anguish and happiness this girl had harbored and known. The story wasn’t quite the same as was told in the city. But one thing remained true, one had died after learning of the other’s death. I learned the true event of things through her eyes.

“Payon had angered a deity in ancient times during its initial development as a city. A curse which caused undead to rampage in the payon caves. The archer village was raised as a defense force to defend the city from this plague. Most men and able bodies were part of this defense effort, as the women were told to look after the wounded and kids in the village.

This curse also had struck Bongun, the heir to Payon itself. Making his health feeble and sickening him. The current chief of the time had consulted multiple shamans for a cure, a way to undo this curse on his son. They all told him the same thing, love was the only cure.

Bongun and Munak had unspoken feelings for each other, something that didn’t go unnoticed by their guardians. Once persuaded to openly share their sentiments towards one another, their love bloomed. They were wedded soon after, and as the shamans had foretold, Bongun’s health improved in leaps and bounds.

But this happiness was short lived as the curse on the cave even now remains active. Bongun at the time had joined the defense in the archer village, and eventually lost his life to the undead ranks. Having learned of Bongun’s fate, Munak wandered down the caves on her own, in search for her beloved, only to meet a similar faith at the hands of the undead”

My mind was splitting from the experience. But when it had all ended I could see an apparition of the young girl standing before me. Offering me a polite bow ‘Thank you, kind soul’ a young maiden’s voice whispered, before she ascended.

Drained and weary, I sought to make my way to the surface again.

Chapter 3: Spiritual enlightenment

Though that day afforded me little knowledge in regard to the runic magic used to trap her body down there, it left me forever changed. I have increasingly started to become more sensitive to my surroundings and the ‘other’ plane. Spirits lingering, seeking purpose or ascension.

With the amulet I retrieved I started my research in the combination of the ancient written language and modern knowledge. My intent was to momentarily bind the spirits surrounding us to the living, if only for a brief moment, in hopes that they would get the tools or voice they needed to cross over to the other side. Finding test subjects was hard at first, especially among the living, for fear of what the spirit would do once it was ‘possessing’ a host. Until I took a different approach. What souls were more than willing to leap into the unknown both living and beyond? Adventurers.

It didn’t take much. For the adventurers it was the promise of learning forgotten skills and ancient magic. In the spirit case, a chance to fight on the field once more and finally get rid of their lingering resentment and doubts.

At first I accomplished these effects by mimicking the Munak’s talisman and making variations based on my own insights. Over time I found that I was able to cast these runic spells without the need of catalysts by simply picturing the runes in my mind, before imbuing the subject.

My father disapproved of my methods and me straying away from the taekwondo path. But he couldn’t deny the acknowledgement and trust I was starting to build up in our village. The people had started calling me a ‘Soul Linker’. My work was growing more and more popular with the families of the recently deceased and veteran adventurers alike.

Another nice approach to breaking a longer story up into little bitesize chunks. Your description of the environment really sets the scene well - smells and sounds especially. You've illustrated the journey from Taekwon to Soul Linker very well - the implication that your character is the very first is a nice tie-in to the unreleased class. Exploring the ingame lore of Bongun and Munak is a nice touch and fits in well with the Soul Linker theme too.

Entry 6: 49z
Spoiler: show
1

“You and I are destined to be best friends,” you said as your fist came into contact with the pink gelatinous blob that was terrorizing me. A dazed ”What?” was all I could utter as I lay motionless on the ground, in dire need of first aid. “It’s written in the stars,” you replied cheerfully as you knelt down beside me. You fished antiseptics and bandages out of your bag and began treating my wounds, consoling me every time I winced in pain.

You said it would be ideal if we spent the night there as I needed to regain my vitality. You reassured me it would be safe; the only monsters that lurked nearby were Porings, Drops, and Lunatics – all of which you could easily vanquish. Unable to move, I didn’t protest. You lay down and, with the zest in your voice never waning, told me about yourself – your aversion to sharp objects, your goal of becoming a taekwon, your passion for astronomy.

You couldn’t contain your excitement as white dots began littering the night sky. “Gemini’s my favorite constellation and it’s visible tonight!” you exclaimed in glee, your fingers pointing to where you think Castor and Pollux will materialize. “Celestial objects are roadmaps. The stars hold the answers to all questions one can come up with.”

I didn’t know what you meant but decided you were telling the truth. I told myself you were a prodigy and it would be in my best interest to team up with you.

It seemed like I had made the right decision as I quickly gained enough experience to become an acolyte. You thanked me for helping you become a taekwon but we both knew you did all the heavy lifting. Not long afterwards, our party consisted of the best star gladiator the continent had ever seen and a mediocre priest. It didn’t matter if I healed you too late, or if I couldn’t remember how to pray the Angelus; you were always strong enough to compensate for my shortcomings.

Though I was grateful for your company, I couldn’t help feeling a smudge of envy watching you defeat monsters with great ease. The colorful dragons of Abyss Lake, the bull-headed beasts that congregated in the deepest pits of Glast Heim – your kicks made them all fall like dominoes, much to the delight of onlookers. You were faultless. The epitome of strength. You were the star and I was your expendable sidekick.

My disdain was magnified when you began wanting to exclusively hunt monsters that dropped agility-boosting items. You developed this insatiable thirst to be become faster. You always needed to increase your flee or attack speed. A Bapho Jr. Undershirt, a Ghost Bandanna, Kukre Brooches. Nothing was ever enough. You were perpetually one status point away from being perfect. It was vanity, I ended up surmising.

These opinions and perceptions were shattered when, on our way to Comodo, you suddenly began letting out blood-curdling screams. You were hunched over a few steps ahead of me, your head buried in your arms as if you were cowering in fear. It was the first and only time I saw you in that sort of state. Instinctively, I ran towards you and asked what was wrong. Images of Baphomet slicing us in half with its enormous scythe began to flood my head. It’s finally here to avenge the slaughter of its kin, I told myself as I remembered the trail of dead baby goats you left in your wake in the Labyrinth Forest.

“The stars,” you churned out in between whimpers, your head still glued to the grass.

I looked up and didn’t notice anything amiss. Unsure of what to do, I listened quietly to the words that came gushing out of your mouth.

“They’re not stars. They’re numbers. Zeroes and ones. Billions of them. Shining and twinkling. They’re everywhere now – not just in the sky. I can’t unsee them anymore. They’re inside me, too. Going haywire, accelerating, splitting in half. They’re going to kill me... They’re going to kill me because I’m not fast enough!”

We sought refuge from the stars in a tavern. It took a pint of beer for you to revert to your old cheerful, charming self. Before I could even start drinking, a crowd of enthralled bards and dancers was already forming around you. I chalked your breakdown up to fatigue, stationed myself in an obscure corner and began consuming my share of alcohol.

“Seat taken?” a knight asked as she occupied the chair adjacent to mine, not bothering to wait for my reply. “I see priests don’t take the vow of sobriety.”

I laughed, perhaps a little too loudly. Her name, I found out, was Lindsay. She was from Lutie and had a penchant for baked goods and clergymen. It wasn't until she was whisked away by her superior to deal with a riot in Morroc that I noticed you were missing.

I went outside and saw you gazing at the sky, your arms wide open as if you’re welcoming a long-lost friend. You noticed me and, with a resigned smile on your face, said, “It’s been fun, pal. You won’t remember me but it’s probably for the best.”

Then, you disappeared.

2

I eventually found myself back in the Church, knee-deep in charitable pursuits: Sunday mass, Lighthalzen outreach programs, tutoring prospective priests. You could find my name on every sign-up sheet on every bulletin board in Prontera.

My attempts at gaining peace of mind continuously prove to be futile, though. Amid all the diversions I try to drown myself in, thoughts of what happened to you always succeed in invading my head. I try so desperately to convince myself you didn’t vanish into thin air. My eyes were playing tricks on me that night – I was drunk. You simply decided to abandon me. I was a substandard priest and you wanted a competent companion. I could discern frustration in your voice whenever you had to remind me to keep Magnificat up, even if you tried your best to conceal it with politeness.

But you were loyal to a fault. It would’ve gone against every fiber of your being to leave without so much as saying goodbye. What would it mean, then, if you were indeed telling the truth? I couldn’t even completely comprehend what you were saying. Between us, you were always the sharper one. Would the outcome have been different had I believed you instead of attributing your ramblings to hysteria?

Questions with no answers. What-ifs and maybes. They hover over everything. They taint every positive experience with dread and malice – even the happiest ones. Getting a rare card, mastering a new skill, spending time with Lindsay.

Lindsay...

She came to see me a while ago, in a field northwest of the Capital. I had just assisted a group of aspiring acolytes in finding Father Yosuke. I was preparing to head back to the Church when the smell of sugary delights wafted in my direction. Lindsay emerged from a thicket of shrubs and trees bearing gifts: two picnic boxes full of Lutiean pies and tarts. I wasn’t sure how she knew I was there but I didn’t really care. We spent the remainder of the afternoon by an inlet, exchanging sweet nothings and pastries.

My head was on her lap when I started contemplating telling her about what happened to you. The conversation had died down and we were enjoying each other’s company in silence. She was massaging my temples, her hands reaching my cheeks every now and then, her little lips stretching into a sly grin as she pinched them. And I was just lying there, staring at the soft contours of her comely face, wondering if I should share with her the vile muck that was consuming me.

“Spill it,” she said out of the blue. I was taken aback and tried to act like I didn’t know what she was hinting at. But the mind reader was very persistent and I eventually caved in. My confession began as a levelheaded account of our excursions, but as I recounted the days leading up to your disappearance, I became progressively incoherent. I was, for what seemed like the first time in my life, overcome with emotions. In her arms, I let all the feelings of guilt, fear, and helplessness take control. They made me curl into a ball. Made me sob uncontrollably. Made me beg her for help I knew she wouldn’t be able to provide. She buried her face in my neck and whispered, “I saw him disappear too.”

She apologized for leaving me; she was shocked at the time and ran away in confusion. “But everything’s clear now,” she declared, explaining, with utmost certainty, that your disappearance wasn’t an isolated occurrence. Since yours, she witnessed dozens of other vanishings: a vendor in Alberta, a novice on Poring Island, one of her valiant comrades. She reassured me I had nothing to worry about. God had been transporting people from Midgard straight to Valhalla. “Ragnarok will once again ensue,” she excitedly claimed. The world would soon be engulfed in flames and good people — people like you and I — would be spared from pain and suffering.

I didn’t know how to respond to her. My mind couldn’t assimilate the things she was saying. I remained idle in her embrace, mindful of her steady heartbeat. “Everything will be alright,” she said as she caressed my back. Slowly, I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke up, she was gone.

She might’ve had an errand to run and didn’t want to wake me up. I did tell her I was having sleep troubles. I haven’t seen or heard from her since but you know how the Chivalry are. She’s probably busy fending off invaders from the Arunafeltz States at the moment.

But what if she’s gone like how you are gone. What if I’ll never see her again? Or maybe – maybe she abandoned me, like how you did. It was probably a terrible idea to let her know about all these irrational thoughts. Maybe she was put off by my unraveling. I must’ve mistaken patronizing contempt for love and affection. How could I think she was serious with all that talk about the Rapture?

All the what-ifs and maybes continue to pile up. I don’t know which truths would be easier to swallow. Was it like this for you? It feels like I’m walking in your shoes now. Thinking the thoughts you thought, seeing the things you saw. They appeared the other day. The zeroes and ones. I was on my way to the market to purchase a rosary when I felt a sudden urge to gather white herbs. When I tried to ignore it, this long, narrow string of zeroes and ones materialized on the ground and slithered up my leg, causing me to freeze in fear and, ultimately, black out. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in the act of handing a bag of freshly picked white herbs to a Kafra Girl for safekeeping. “Thanks for using our services,” she chirped as she was about to obsequiously cater to another customer.

The numbers have yet to appear again, though I can’t shake off the feeling it’s only a matter of time before the zeroes and ones envelop everything. When I’m at my lowest lows, instead of praying to God, I talk to you. It relaxes me for reasons I can’t pinpoint – going off on tangents, pretending you’re listening. It’s nighttime now and I’m lying on a grassy plain near Payon, staring at this novice I just saved from being eaten by a Spore. He wanted to sleep here and I, worried he’d fall victim to another ravenous plant, decided to accompany him. His hair is similar to yours, I’m beginning to realize. And before I could ask for his name, he stretches his hands towards the sky and shouts, “Gemini!”.

Telling the story from the point of view of the Star Gladiator's companion makes for an interesting vantage point. Most stories have the protagonist as the champion, but here you are merely a sidekick to the hero of the story. It makes his disappearance and the mystery behind it even more engaging - well done to do this in such few words. And what a great hook for the ending line!

Entry 7: mindly
A Test of the Stars
Formatted Entry
What a cool idea this is. A cross between a personality quiz and a choose-your-own adventure book; what a throwback to childhood this one is! You've clearly put a lot of thought into this, from the fluff dialogue to the results of the test. Rigel's little quirks - her speech patterns, her behavior - are so charming and add heaps of personality. Lovely work!

Entry 8: Chia
Scattered Memories of Souls
Spoiler: show
Scattered Memories of Souls
I can’t assuage the pain of your absence
I am flowing in the darkness
Longing my hands to you
While our memories piercing me
I’m linking my soul to you
Remembering that shiny day
Breathing Alberta air
Holding your hands again
Praying ancestors
Murmuring “Kaahi”
And hoping for a meeting
In another memory

Short, sweet and strong poem. It has a nice tone and flow to it and sets up a tale in very few words. Does this link in with your screenshot entry, I wonder?

Entry 9: Kithira
The Wild
Spoiler: show
There it is! My destination – Comodo mountain.

I sigh in relief and stretch my back - finally free of that murky, dank cave. Not that this is much different from the cave – there is still no sun and I am surrounded by the darkness, but at least it’s not dripping water and I hate having frogs and tiny slimy creatures crawl all over me.

Without the chirps, buzzing and fish jumping, the silence is almost deafening, even eerie. The quietness of this world envelops me, but not as a comforting blanket, rather as oppressive, stifling night. Comodo is well known for its parties, but I don’t see a single firework or hear snippets of music not to mention chatter. Where is everyone? I look around. It’s my first time here and I never knew how barren and still it actually is. Sure, it’s not flat, but aside from some moss and strange rock formations, I can’t see anything alive. And yet, here I am, supposed to meet this man – no description given, no name, no nothing! How am I supposed to find him?

I try throwing some kicks to loosen up and slowly I feel like I’m ready to tackle anything! Yeah! After all I have centuries of martial arts history in my family. Coming from a lineage of Taekwon masters shouldn’t be easily taken, especially the likes of my family. Doesn’t matter that I’m quite bad at it, but hey! I’m here to take the next steps in my training. Need some positive thoughts in this dreadful place, right?

I walk what feels like endless path, my eyes glued to the mountain, rocks crunching underneath my sandals, the only sound in this barren wasteland. A brief moment from the corner of my eye sends my heart pounding. I glance over, my eyes wide with both alertness and fear. Ears trained on the sounds in the distance, yet I see and hear nothing. Whatever it had been, it silently slipped away or perhaps it had never been there at all. It’s the same shadowy landscape and as much as I squint my eyes, nothing new appears, but the feeling doesn’t disappear either. I think I’m being followed. I groan, grit my teeth and adjust my backpack straps, gazing over the horizon where my target looms, barely visible in the far distance.
I force my legs move faster and silently curse at whoever decided that the best place to be is on top of that damned mountain. The fact that there supposedly isn’t anyone else out there that could teach me more about the universe gave me and my tired legs the necessary motivation to continue pushing forward. I can’t turn back now. I know exactly what my mom will say if I were to give up. “We all did it! How come you’re such a disappointment?” In my opinion, any of my family members could give me the training, but no! I HAVE to take this journey to prove something. Blegh! I roll my eyes.

Slowly, my stomach makes its existence known by starting to growl louder and as much as I try to dismiss it, the truth is - I am famished. I can’t ignore it any longer, but how am I supposed to take a break when I feel anxious and wary about my surroundings? I look around, determined to find safe enough spot. I notice a little overhang that forms a shallow cave. I guess that will work, I shrug, and set down my backpack, stretching my aching muscles – aahhh! I fetch my small, but tasty dinner of fish and cookies, proud of myself stashing up cured fish that I had caught in the cave. Relieved I had the foresight to do so, as it seems there’s nothing edible in this area.

Unrolling my sleeping mat, I look around again, everything seems peaceful - just dark rocks, land covered with various shapes of shadows, but nothing out of place. Meh, must be just the lighting as I lay down, distracting my intrusive thoughts with poring counting and forcefully keeping my eyes closed.

I’m awake? I’m awake. I have no idea how long I’ve been sleeping, but the voice in my head went from whispering to screaming.
What.. the…! Panicking, I look around me in all directions, almost at once. Of course I don’t see anything, except.. why there’s freaking arrow sticking out from my bag! Someone had shot it while I was asleep! Or maybe had tried to shoot me? I yank the arrow and toss it, as far as I can. The usual me would definitely pay more attention to the details and perhaps try to figure out if there are any markings or signs where it may have possibly came from, but in my frenzied state of mind I can only think of grabbing my things as quickly and as quietly as possible and walk away. Fighting the urge to look back, fearing what I might see, I start to run, my eyes welling up.

Head pounding and million thoughts rushing through my head, none of them good. My muscles are cramping, but I must keep going. In my rush I don’t even notice a sizable boulder and stumble. The tears I managed to hold back burst like a dam opening gates. I’m so scared!

Oh, I wish I had a family of hunters. I’ve never made it a secret that I envied their fancy bows and I’d love to have one of their falcons right now - I could let them fly above and alert me of anything unusual. But here I am, my only weapon my legs. How can I defend myself if I can’t even see whom I’m fighting against? With every painful limping step I feel more and more on the edge.

Must find that man! I keep repeating it over and over, trying to quash the anxious thoughts overtaking my rational thinking. I feel myself slipping.
I have no idea how much time has passed, maybe days? The feeling of being watched is still here, even though I never notice anything out of place. Exhausted and hungry, my body pretty much forces me to take a break. I’m just going to sit for a moment, eat a few bites and will be on my way... Very.. very.. short moment..

Snap! My body jolts and suddenly I’m wide awake. Panic fills me yet again, adrenaline flowing and I jump up. What did I just hear? And then... I smell it.

Oh, my, god!

Half-eaten corpse of something lays just a bit away from me, flies starting to buzz around it. I inch closer, the smell nauseating, I want to close my eyes, but it’s like a train wreck in Einbroch, can’t look, but at the same time can’t look away. The bulging eyes, torn up pieces of flesh and guts everywhere, almost like laid out in gruesome disturbing ways. How did I not hear? I look around once more, but just as before – nothing. Complete silence.

Once again, I rush to take my things and sob. What is going on? Is this where I’m going to die? That was the first time this kind of thought crosses my mind. But I don’t want to die! My life has just started! Few weeks ago I had met this sweet trader boy in Prontera , he had the cutest gingerbread cookies; and I had a bubble of joy in my stomach when I parted with him to go on this journey. This can’t end like this! I yell: “WHERE ARE YOU HIDING???!??” My question hanging in the air, not even echoing back to me. I am all alone.. except not.

The mountain didn’t look that steep from distance, but now that I’m noticing the slow incline, it fills me with desperation. Tiny pebbles getting stuck in my sandals, sand between the straps rubbing my heels raw. Multiple times I hit my toes against sharp knifelike edges. Tears filling my eyes, trying to find some sort of pathway through. As I’m pulling myself up from another cliff, it lets go and I roll downhill, sand and dust filling my mouth and lungs. I cough, tears streaming down on my cheeks and rubbing my eyes just adds to the suffering. I think I need a short break. Just to breathe, gather my thoughts, be logical and grounded again. Let’s find that sack of food, tummy full of cookies should make anyone feel better! But.. I can’t find it! I tear open my back bag, nothing! It must have fallen out... or maybe I left it behind. I pound the ground, not caring about the pain. There is no food!

I fall and curl up, hugging my knees. I’m ready to die now, maybe whoever is out there will kill me this time. Maybe it’ll be quick, hopefully..

Instead I fall asleep. My body is pushed to its’ limit. There is no poring counting, no dreams.

Nobody wakes me up this time, so I just lay there, but when I realize where I am, I sit up anxiously. What horrors are waiting for me this time?

A ribbon?

Am I going crazy? What sort of sick twisted game I’ve being played with? Why is there a ribbon tied around my back bag? So many questions, no answers and nothing makes sense. Maybe I’m just delusional or hallucinating. My mind can’t handle any of it.

I don’t care to take anything with me, I am going to die anyway. I’m sure the ribbon was a sign of some evil plan that’s being plotted against me. Who in their right mind would do that?
Dragging my feet up on the mountain, the meager sense of time I had, is gone. My eyes swollen from dust, I can barely blink – they’ve turned so dry, even my eyelashes are caked from tears and dust. The sense of reality slipping away - why am I here, where am I going? In my confused state of mind I fail to notice a shallow drop and my footing is gone, I land face first down to the ditch. I try to spit dirt from my mouth, but I’m too weak to even do that. All my pain sensors dulled; I feel nothing. No, that’s a lie, I feel something, something very sharp is digging into my cheek. I gradually lift my head and drag my hand up to push away whatever it is that is causing more pain to my already tortured body.
It’s long and spiky. I roll over to my back to get a better look as I lift my hand up. It’s a rose.

A single red rose.

This offers no explanation! There’s nothing logical about any of it! With the last bit of energy, I shout into the darkness - JUST KILL ME, I’M TIRED OF YOUR GAMES! With that, I am sucked into blissful nothingness.

Squeezing..

Dragging..

Lifting..

Soft..

Breathing..

Darkness..

Hardness..

Pain. So much pain.. unbearable pain.

Darkness.

Hours, maybe days, maybe months or maybe years. I don’t know.. but I’m awoken, by the man and the creature. The bed I’m laying is warm, perhaps even comfortable?
It’s so dark here, I can barely see the outlines of the creature, but still I reach out my hand, it’s shaking. I touch the creatures head, it’s soft, almost silky. Little static energy bursts run up along my skin and give me goosebumps. I can’t stop. Drawn to the softness, I slide my hand down along the neck and it makes a sound…

“Mew”

I pull my hand back sharply, but then it mews again and it’s not threatening at all - it sounds sad.

I lift my head to see better and suddenly it dawns to me – it never wanted to hurt me! The arrow, the half-eaten corpse, the bow, the flower – they were gifts!

I reach out my hand again and whisper:

“Oh .. hi Wild Rose”

You've made the 10-second walk to the top of the mountain in Comodo into such an epic trek! The character's struggle and exhaustion is portrayed very well - with each paragraph you can really feel how much they lose steam and leaves you rooting for them. In a way it's refreshing to not have the protagonist succeed. Maybe not everyone is meant to follow the plan laid out for them. Perhaps they can just settle for a simpler life with their new friend. Great pairing for your Art entry!

Entry 10: Mr. Lawrence
Spoiler: show
[#main] t3rror: I die too often, I'm too weak to kill.
[#main] t3rror: I ask, politely, for a soul linker's skill.
[#main] Soulja: Hey, how are you. I might fit your bill.
[#main] Soulja: But, before that: Tell me your class, if you will.

[#main] t3rror: I leveled so hard and continue for more,
[#main] t3rror: I just started this game, never played it before.
[#main] Soulja: Welcome to the server, but please don't ignore
[#main] Soulja: my question, for which class, you need it for.

[#main] t3rror: I am sorry, but please hear me blame,
[#main] t3rror: you arrogant nerds of virtual fame.
[#main] t3rror: This is not fair and you guys are lame.
[#main] t3rror: Only stupid people play this god awful game.

[#main] Soulja: I went to the fountain and I see you there.
[#main] Soulja: I want to help you, I have time to spare.
[#main] Soulja: But fellow player, I hope, you're aware:
[#main] Soulja: There is no link for a gunslinger.

This is a funny one. Love how it's written as an in-game exchange! The rhyming format is funny and creative. I initially read this as if it were a rap battle... not sure if that was the intention but it makes it all the better!
[GM] Repth
User avatar
[GM] Repth
Game Master
Game Master
Santa Poring
Santa Poring
 
Posts: 43
Joined: 2020-01-04 22:16 (Saturday)
Location: The World
Gender: Male

Re: [RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linke

Postby [GM] Repth » 2020-03-08 17:21 (Sunday)

SCREENSHOT CONTEST

Image
Entry 1: 321
Nice purple hues here, the characters outfits fit well with the environment. A failed Twilight Alchemy session? Unfortunately this was submitted before Star Gladiator was released and features a mere Taekwon, so this can't be judged. Thanks for the entry though!

Image
Entry 2: Shirohana
Right off the bat a really funny entry. Awesome use of sprite animations for get the poses, and the location really sells what's happening. The fog looks really nice with the mountains in the background. Must have taken you lots of tries to get it right!

Image
Entry 3: mindly
What a work of art! The camera angle you've used is absolutely fantastic and really pushes the sense of scale and distance. The buildings and trees fading away in the distance looks so cool and really makes it feel like your character is gazing off into the distance. Really shows off just how beautiful RO's environments really are in a way that you never normally appreciate from the normal camera angle. The default Soul Linker dye fits in perfectly with the subdued palette of Juno and really hits that nostalgic feeling.

Image
Entry 4: Chia
Another fantastic angle that really shows Alberta in a whole new light. What you'd normally consider quite a cramped town has been given a new sense of scale and solitude. It looks like the characters have snuck away up for a secret rendezvous in a quiet corner of town. The choice of clothing dye is clearly a well-thought out one; the colors are absolutely perfect for Alberta and ties together the scene perfectly. Great work!

Image
Entry 5: wurstbr0t
What a beautiful location. High above the clouds, the mountain in the background, the river down below... perfect spot for a break to just sit and appreciate nature. It's nice that it looks like your character is looking through the telescope. Wishing they were a Star Gladiator, perhaps?

Image
Entry 6: Anemon
Another gorgeous location. The fog is lovely and really sets the atmosphere here. You've set it up so well that it's quickly apparent that this is the same scene as your Art entry! It's nice to see it from a different perspective - the zoomed out camera gives a sense of isolation. Very pretty.

Image
Entry 7: Kiyaru
A great snapshot; you've set up a cool little scenario and captured it right in the action. The speed lines from the Flying Side Kick makes it looks like she's been kicked against the wall DBZ style!

Image
Entry 8: Bolo
Nice "interactive" screenshot here - funny to see you interacting with a monster like that. Maybe he'll turn into a Mastering?

Image
Entry 9: Sonschi
Gotta admit, this left us scratching our heads a bit as to what's going on. Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf? Creepy old man in the bushes luring a girl in with cakes? Pretty funny scene regardless though!
[GM] Repth
User avatar
[GM] Repth
Game Master
Game Master
Santa Poring
Santa Poring
 
Posts: 43
Joined: 2020-01-04 22:16 (Saturday)
Location: The World
Gender: Male

Re: [RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linke

Postby [GM] Repth » 2020-03-08 17:21 (Sunday)

WINNERS

You've done well to make it this far! Here is the moment you've all been scrolling for!
As as a reminder, the prizes are as follows:

FIRST PLACE
Image Rideword Hat Costume
Image Ayam Costume - OR - Image Magistrate Hat Costume
Image Well-Chewed Pencil Costume

SECOND PLACE
Image Ayam Costume - OR - Image Magistrate Hat Costume
Image Well-Chewed Pencil Costume

So without further ado, the winners are below!
Drumroll please!
(/go)

ART
We had such a high volume of entries for Art that it was impossible to choose just one winner. Certain entries really excelled in different areas of the judging criteria - so, we have appointed a winner for each criteria of Skill, Style and Creativity.

Skill
Spoiler: show
First Place
ExCharny
Image

Second Place
Blissilia
Image

Style
Spoiler: show
First Place
k.
Image

Second Place
Purrincess
Image

Creativity
Spoiler: show
First Place
Alyss
Image

Second Place
Kithira
Image



CRAFT
First Place
Spoiler: show
Chia
Image

Second Place
Spoiler: show
Joyoko
Image



WRITING
First Place
Spoiler: show
Shirohana

Divine Providence, a mysterious encounter

Expedition Log - Day 0 - Shiroi Hanabi

Today marked my 326th day in official servitude of Odin at the church of Prontera. It was a bright summer day, the warm rays of sunlight scattering through the stained glass of the church. As I was diligently going about my daily routine, I caught a glimpse of a large burly man entering through the front arches of the main hall of the church from the corner of my eyes. He was equipped in a full set of heavy plate armor, polished so thoroughly that light was reflecting off of it. A large glimmering jewel was embedded into the center of his breastplate, further decorated by the engraving of a holy cross. Immediately Identifying this man as a crusader of the Church, I soon returned to focus on my work and dove back into the little side chapel to finish up.

Fifteen minutes later, I relaxed my sore muscles and slowly stretched my back before stowing away the mop and bucket. With a sense of satisfaction I trailed back out into the main hall, only to find a large gathering of important officials of the church surrounding the crusader. He seemed to be holding a parchment in his hand, and was vehemently exclaiming his stance to the large crowd that had gathered around him. The shrill old voice of one of the high priests stood out amongst the symphony of complaints as it echoed through the main hall “ Has that old fart lost his mind completely!?”, the content of her words seemingly very unbecoming of one of the most senior members of the church. The crusader, on the other hand, kept a stern expression throughout the entirety of his speech. As I inched closer to get a grasp of the situation, a fellow priest nudged me gently whilst wearing an anxious expression. He muttered to me in a displeased voice, his tone representative of the general mood in the church, saying that all of us were to be mobilized by royal decree of King Gaebolg the third. Confused as I still was, I asked him for the reasoning behind the sudden missive. He just nodded his head towards the crusader, forcing my attention back to the speech that was about to end. Only on the day of departure did I fully understand the objective of this expedition. We were to march towards Glast Heim castle to retrieve an ancient tome that was once stolen during Schmitz Von Walters’ tyranny, originating from the depths of Geffenia.


Expedition Log - Day 9 - Shiroi Hanabi

Long lines of men and women were trudging through the green plains of Geffen. A scant few heavy armored knights and crusaders were sat on top of Peco Peco’s to the flanks of the large caravan which was made up out of a few battle hardened knights, priests and wizards. However, the large majority still consisted of young mages, swordsmen and women, and acolytes. Prontera had mobilized in full, with a similar missive being delivered to the Magicians Guild in Geffen. Finding the high walls encompassing all of Glast heim already in sight, I moved forward through the lines to take a better look. Having read much about this place in preparation for the expedition, I was fully aware of the horrors that resided within. Demons and undead dubbed as super entities roamed freely in its depths, an amalgamation of Von Walter’s depravity. This unholy place that was rumored to be a portal directly to Hell, hadn’t been visited by many mortals ever since Grenholm von Gaebolg had overthrown the Mad King in a coup d’état. Perpetual darkness seemed to be looming over the high perched castle towers. The contrast between the blue ocean and azure skies surrounding it made the blotch of monochromatic colors truly feel like a different realm altogether.



Expedition Log - Day 16 - Shiroi Hanabi

The light does not reach this place. It was true what was rumored about this forsaken place, the gods had truly abandoned it. Nightmares of all forms and sizes were encountered within mere minutes of setting foot inside of the castle itself. Smiling clowns with eyes devoid of emotion, possessed treasure boxes that had sprouted gigantic teeth, floating mirrors that reflected the inner-demons residing in one's soul. As a priest, I was within the innermost area of our forces. Yet, all sense of security and safety had long abandoned me. The outer shell of sword wielding youths seemed to be thinning with every meter we advanced. As we delved deeper, the frequency of knights being heavily injured rose sharply, and I faintly recall one coming before me for treatment that was missing his lower jaw entirely. His eyes were desperately begging me to alleviate his suffering, having lost the ability to do so in actual words. Somewhere else, hidden in a dark corner of the castle, a mimic was chomping on the mangled combination of flesh, bones...and teeth.


Expedition Log - Day ?? - Shiroi Hanabi

Aside from the grunting of a few good men, silence filled the spacious corridors we had occupied. As I looked around carefully, the original hundreds accompanying me had dwindled down to a number barely reaching two dozen. Initially, the members of the church had spared no effort in attempting to rescue the critically wounded as our numbers kept dwindling. But orders were given by one of the commanding crusaders to only care for those who were still able to fight. Low on energy myself, I couldn’t even bring myself to refute the orders.

We took this rare moment of respite to recover our strength. Around fifteen minutes later we felt the entirety of the castle shake. It felt like an earthquake at first. But as I felt my surroundings shake a second, and then a third time, I quickly abandoned that thought. There seemed to be a pattern to the quakes, and they were increasing in intensity too. Accompanying the tremors, the sound of metallic clamoring was heard all around. The screeching noise of metal grinding against concrete immediately put the ragged bunch of survivors in full alert. The many old rusty ornamental sets of armor decorating the hallway around us appeared to be coming alive.

The commanding crusader was quick to notice the change too, and immediately yelled out “ CIRCLE FORMATION!! “. All the while, the constantly quaking castle itself was foreboding, loud crashing footsteps approaching from the front. The cacophony of clanking, screeching and buzzing noises left me in a daze, only snapping out of it once one of the corridors walls collapsed completely. A behemoth waltzed through the concrete wall, its shield alone sizing up to three crusaders in width. Covered from head to toe in distorted spiky metal, red liquids seemed to be oozing out every crevice that linked up the metal lumps covering its body. One of the crusaders charged forward valiantly whilst various fortifying spells were surrounding his holy armor. What came after can only be described as pandemonium. Waves upon waves of rattling animated armors that were wielding rusty longswords were flooding out from the intersecting corridors. The crusader that had previously charged forward was immediately drowned in the wave of metal.


Arrows whistled past my ears, but all I could hear were the blood curdling screams of the knights at the perimeter of our formation. Despair engulfed me, and I couldn’t stop my trembling legs from giving in. As I helplessly slumped to the floor, the fear that had clutched my heart left me unable to even scream. With shivering eyes I found a young acolyte clutching the hem of my robes. Dozens of bloody holes were drilled into his body, with gruesome looking arrows covering his figure like a pin cushion. I closed my eyes in acceptance of my fate. My body shook one last time as I felt a hand resting on one of my shoulders. A warm hand, with fingers.. Not being able to make the connection, I didn’t dare open my eyes as I waited for inevitable death.

All of a sudden, my entire world was radiating in a blue shimmer. Time seemed to have come to a stop, and complete silence filled my surroundings. No screams were heard, nor the clamoring of metal clashing against metal. Instead I felt like I was floating in the air, weightlessly and unimpeded by the forces of nature. When I slowly opened my eyes, I saw the bustling streets of prontera. My attention was drawn to a small feeble girl begging at the side of the road. As if pulled by the machinations of destiny I was floating towards her. She cried out “Zennies please!”, as she approached various wealthy looking individuals to ensure her survival. One of the merchants impatiently tossed the mud covered child to the side, before making his way to the bustling bazaar to earn his millions. The frail child hit the floor and another bruise was added to her legs. She crawled back up quickly, only a single tear welling up in the corner of her eyes as she wordlessly cursed her own existence. A kind looking old priest witnessed this encounter and brought her into the church of Prontera. As I followed the pair as a distant immaterial observant, I witnessed the story of a small frail girl growing up to be a full fledged devout member of the Church. An endless amount of time seemed to pass as I silently went through countless lives such as the one before, sometimes as a third party observer, other times through the eyes of the person directly.

After what felt like an eternity, I felt a tugging sensation at my belly jolting me back to my original vessel. A cursory glance around told me I had fallen down into the abyss once more, finding the bloodied acolyte in front of me drawing his last breaths. The sense of despair I once felt upon seeing these sights was gone however, and an inexplicable resolve had replaced it. I looked back to find a young girl wearing oriental looking gowns with golden motifs detailing it still resting her hand on my shoulder. She smiled at me in a carefree, comforting manner, detached from the mortal struggles of the world. She confidently told me “You are not alone, and you will survive this ordeal.”. As she proclaimed this, the acolyte in front of me miraculously stood back up with renewed vigor whilst being shrouded in a blue aura.

To this day, my mind still hasn’t fully comprehended what had transpired back then. All I know is that I witnessed the remaining veterans around me radiating in a faint blue light, projections of legendary figures silently floating behind them in ethereal form. My body moved on its own, and even the voice in which I spoke did not belong to me. I remember clutching my rosary, and exclaiming the Lord's name to summon holy brilliance in the shape of a cross. The holy light that shot forth completely disintegrated a number of the animated armors occupying one of the corridors. As I stood back up confidently, two of the crusaders were throwing their shields forward into the gap I had created, widening it even further. We pushed forward through the gap, and as the strength left my body once more one of the nearby knights forcibly grabbed my robes and dragged me along in their retreat. Moments before I blacked out, I tried to locate the strange girl again.

Even now as I recall these past events, I have no recollection of seeing her throughout the entire expedition aside from those moments. It was as if she had never existed in the first place, and had only appeared through some sort of divine providence. Today, my faith is stronger than ever, and I feel eternal gratefulness to whichever god was looking out for us that day.

Second Place
Spoiler: show
Luthiel
Image



SCREENSHOT
First Place
Spoiler: show
Mindly
Image

Second Place
Spoiler: show
Chia
Image



Congratulations to the winners!

All players that entered will be contacted in due course for their prizes to be delivered. If you won first or second prize, you will get to select your choice of Ayam or Magistrate Hat when you receive your prize. In addition, all players that entered will receive 5 Old Purple Box and 1 Costume Exchange Ticket for participating.
Thank you for entering, and I hope to see you all next time!
[GM] Repth
User avatar
[GM] Repth
Game Master
Game Master
Santa Poring
Santa Poring
 
Posts: 43
Joined: 2020-01-04 22:16 (Saturday)
Location: The World
Gender: Male

Re: [RESULTS] CREATIVE CONTEST - Star Gladiator x Soul Linke

Postby artren » 2020-03-08 17:55 (Sunday)

Lots of really great stuff. The Eddga one by k. is by far my favorite.

It's funny how the We'll-Chewed pencil came from my fiancées submission to such a similar contest back in like '08. RO has so much history! Changed the game so hard when it came out.
I stream oRO and other games on Twitch!
User avatar
artren
Player
Player
Poring
Poring
 
Posts: 3
Joined: 2018-04-26 23:58 (Thursday)
Gender: Male


Return to Events



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron