Explained: A story or poem where the main focus is deception, in any fashion.
- The story is told from multiple points of view.
- The story is not set in modern day.
- Some or all of the deceptions created by the protagonist/antagonist come true.
- No characters are injured or die in the story.
- The story includes self-inflicted deceptions; delusions.
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Components required for Casual entries: 1
Components required for Advanced entries: 2
Watching the steam powered puppy walk across the ground, the young woman smiled widely. It was a pretty little thing, puffing and wheezing smoke as it moved a beautiful site in amongst all of the steam powered machinery. The young woman looked up, her vibrant red hair trying to escape from under her hat, the sun reflecting off of her pale skin covered in freckles, her vibrant green eyes searching the small crowd. Her eyes widened and she picked up the steam puppy and walked over to a woman who looked eerily like her despite the differences in clothes. While the young woman wore a velvet green hat with a matching dress and a smoky red dress coat, the older woman wore breaches smeared with oil and smoke, goggles on her forehead the old shirt ripped and torn.
“Mother. What have I told you about going out into public like this, it is unseemly for a woman of your wealth and stature.” The young woman’s tone was tired and exasperated, but she didn’t try to get the inventor to move, knowing the old woman could be as stubborn as a mule. Tucking a strand of greying red hair idly behind her ear, the older woman looked up. “Ahh, but Terese, I have done it this time, I really have!” the older woman exclaimed. Terese looked around fearfully at that, her expression blank, but her eyes wide, giving away the game. She smiled a smile, as bright as one of her light bulbs, and about as warm, fake.
She took her mother’s arm, and led the surprisingly relentless woman back into a shadowed door way. Turning the knob slyly, she pushed the woman in first and closing the door with a quiet snap behind them both. “Andrea, mother dear,” she started. “Terese,” the older woman started, no longer looking like the docile old woman that she had been just mere moments before. Now she stood up straight, her face stern. “What have I told you about using people’s houses like this, just because you can pick them in moments doesn’t mean you should.”
“You need to stop spouting nonsense about how you’ve created the ultimate creation. It was fun enough in the beginning, telling everyone you were working on a secret project, seeing their faces of awe and amazement, but now this game has run it’s due course, and I am sick of it.” The sharp minded woman that Terese was speaking to looked at her, eyes narrowed in anger. “Terisus Julia Heinriech, you dare speak to your mother in such a manner?” The previously sunny younger woman stepped closer to her mother. “Damn right I will!” She hissed back, and stepped around her, slipping out the door, leaving her mother in the dark. “That child needs to be taught a lesson,” was all the answer the older woman gave.
Looking on outside was a man. Neither young, nor old looking, he was neither plain nor sexy, he just was. He watched as the fiery vixen left the house, a light bulb smile springing to her face and he followed her, watching. It seemed she wound through the maze of streets almost as if she was trying to lose herself. He knew better. He followed her, with an ease he had long since achieved, as he had done on every other day he had spied the vixen in the market. She had intrigued him from the moment he had laid eyes on her, and couldn’t keep her off his mind. He followed her to her house, where she slipped into the dark doorway as quickly and silently as a snake springing on its prey. He watched her through the windows as she changed clothes and donned a wig. The wig was a dark auburn colour, much unlike her usual vibrant red. He saw her putting in a set of contacts, and even though he couldn’t see what colour they were, her eyes were now a steely blue grey. She sniped at the wig, cutting chunks and clumps out, and making it frizzy.
She pulled out what looked like a hessian sack and a pot of dirt and went behind a changing screen. He could see her silhouette as she changed, and wondered what she looked like under the fancy clothes. She walked back out, almost completely unrecognizable, her hair in a tizz, dirt covering almost every inch of her face, looking like soot from the machines that covered a lot of out of the way places. For all intents and purposes, she looked like a beggar girl, one of the many that kept to the darkest streets. “Well this should be interesting.” Was all that was said.
Out on the streets a pink hair sooty male watched in interest as a female beggar made unusual haste. He blinked his eyes sleepily. “Where on earth is she going in such a rush on an empty belleh?” he mumbled, but kept a keen eye on her. That one thar, dun be lookin like no begga, no sir, no siree. He thought to himself and settled back onto his uncomfortable perch, eyes half-closed, watching the young woman. She went to one of the more run-down looking houses, the one that often had bangs, crashes and lots of smoke being emitted when the owner was in. Such as on this particular day.
She peered into one of the windows and couldn’t figure out what on earth was happening. Andrea had a welder in hand, mask on face and sparks in the air, confusing the scene enough that Terese couldn’t figure out a spanner from a screw driver. Not that she knew what these things were anyway, she was, after all, a Lady, not some rag tag inventor. She scowled and stepped back. The beggar male raised an eyebrow. “She obviously dun like s’goin’on in that place thar.” He smiled a grimy, grim gap-toothed smile and closed his eyes, not much caring for whatever happened next.
Terese walked back slowly through the streets, her male audience still watching her intently, wondering what she had seen to put such a scowl on the vixens face. The male watched her as she entered her expensive and expansive house, and watched until the sun set, and then watched some more, as alert as an eagle, and as awake as an owl.
As the sun rose, and the mechanical birds chirped in this city of made of steam-machines, a large gathering converged at the ceremonial stairs, and old lady with greying red hair stood, something smallish covered by a grey cloth, but puffs of steam could be seen escaping the material. She held up her hands for quiet, and as she got what she wanted, she said, “Thank you all for your presence here today, without further ado or comment, I present to you the first floating land of steam!” Revealing the large computer sized object, the crowd gasped as they saw the object. It had mountains and rivers and trees. The rivers turned into waterfalls that were caught by a metal bowl underneath and were filtered back into the piece of hovering land.
A young red haired woman with fare skin and freckles, stood gaping in shock at the creation, her male observer laughing throatily, unheard by anyone, or anything except the air around him. He stood up from his crouched position, his vibrant green eyes giving the area one last survey and jumped from roof to roof, finding his way back to level ground. His brown hair swirled around his face under his top hat, cane clickity-clacking against the cobbled road. He tipped his hat at a pink haired male bagger, and tossed the boy several gold coins. The boy winked back at the top hat man, hands flicking out and grabbing the gold in mid-air before returning to his sleeping position as if nothing had occurred, and the man continued on, whistling a merry old tune of green grass, golden skies and a blue sun.
The last red leaf of a lone Japanese maple clutched its skeletal arm as they shivered in frigid breeze to a cyclic howl of greeting winter morning. Such a fragile fin trembled with seemingly shatterproof courage enduring another cruel night; hours bereft of fall's sunlight glazed the day wrapped in a thick overcast of clouded silver. Dwindling resistance succumbed to longing for reunion and the wind gave swift acquiescence through an entourage of tiny snowflakes whom took the lonely leaf into their cradling carriage. It flitted whimsically through airy inspiration, afloat above sugared plains lush with browning tall grass and carved with narrow, flexuously connected dirt roads. The swaying blades below whisper a serenade of welcome and after a final few flits, it lands gently upon powdered earth to at last rejoinder nearby fractured family.
Then it's crushed beneath the sandaled heel of a tall man having broad stature, arrayed dark robes and short, cropped black hair, his frame trailed by the fine white plumes of his own breath. Black haori worn over navy kimono did well to shield him from nipping gales as he pressed on with a rigid, nearly mechanical stride befitting aged, chiseled features. He kept his right arm straight with hand idle at his side; the palm of the other rested comfortably atop the charcoal-threaded hilt of the katana slung at his left hip, tied securely to the sash which bound his garment together. Subtle glint kissed the silver of its disc-shaped hilt guard and shimmery scarlet curve of its sheath to make the demure ruse complete.
The way quickly became bandaged in alabaster from what's likely to be the first good snow of the season; a bit further ahead, around a rightward bend, his chocolate stare spots the only tree he had seen for quite some time. With its naked sight the temptation to rest became more compelling. There remained a few kilometers until he reached the capital and the rumble of his stomach demanded sustenance. As if inspired by the thought, another, almost painful complaint of hunger knotted his belly.
Until a low, feminine whimper enraptured his concentration.
Soft and youthful, the crying song stopped him in his tracks; his eyes narrowed and he honed upon an unseen source; each slow step to follow fell in strange rhythm to the sharp sobs which pierced the crisp air. The unwaning timbre possessed a melancholy, bewitching pitch that beckoned him onward awhile it boiled blood and dread twisted his gut with every footfall. Hot adrenaline fuels his booming heart, muting everything other than the voice as he took the corner...
...and he felt the muscle drop onto the ground and shatter like pottery at the frontal sight of a teenage girl with short hair near the center of the path about twenty feet away. Her kneeling frame spanned across a butchered man, on his back while she bawled atop the chest of the corpse.
The stopping swordsman's mouth felt drought and sucked in a frosted breath of awe, his eyes wide with horror amidst absorption of the details. Each wore black kimono, the girl's frayed and ripped along the collar. The alluring curve of her dirtied, exposed shoulders no doubt felt the apathetic chill, haloed by shredded sleeves. A crown of feathery obsidian hair accented her unseen complexion; the bearded man's long black locks a mess across the pond of blood beneath him which possessed no clear point of origin.
The girl lifted her scarlet-stained face in release of a loud, rending wail, only for her frame to crumble and fall on him afresh. The swordsman beheld the scene with a sorrowful stare and pressed lips, regretful at the full realization of what may have happened. The slain one must have fallen to bandits or some other enemy and the woman left behind. Perhaps she had been spared the horrors of rape; the tears in her kimono and bruised skin attested contrary. He knew not whether to simply watch and allow her chance to collect herself or alert of his presence.
He took a few cautious steps toward her and spoke with a nervous inflection of his strong, deep voice. His right hand opened, risen upward in desire to close the void. “Excuse me... Miss?”
Her requiem hushed with a sharp sob.
Seconds of silence trickled away before she slowly lifted her beautiful but bloodied face. Her mouth fell ajar and an impossibly sky blue stare grew wide in terror. A few cracks of strangled voice escaped her throat. Her eyes clenched shut for the long scream that smashed the quiet and froze his veins. Then her opened sight locked onto him with unblinking desperation and she hurried into a backward crawl of groaning upon palm and forearm.
The swordsman stepped forward; the girl stopped in sync, only to reposition herself for the lunge that returned her to the slain man. She landed sloppily upon her chest, her lithe right hand quick to lift a clean, dimly glimmering tanto into conjoined grip while she managed to lift herself into a kneel. Trembling, half-extended arms rose the weapon to chest level and she aimed the tip toward his heart, her lips peeled into a toothy snarl and gaze viciously intense.
“Stay back!” came her shouted order.
“Easy,” he replied, his elevated palm flattened in a gesture of peace. “I mean no harm.” He took pause. “What happened?”
She began to hyperventilate, her eyes wild. “We were attacked...” Her gaze fell to the corpse. “Then they...” She began to quake from a new wave of tears. “They...”
The swordsman took a few bold steps, only for the refocused girl to yowl into a hateful shrill and realign her arrow-like stare. “Get away from me!”
Her leer impaled him still and made his arm fall like a failing pendulum. He could clearly see the blueish hue of her lips, her bravery betrayed by clear fatigue and shaking. Unwilling to be deterred, he spoke on, armed with an offer crafted to compel. “It's cold out here. You'll fall ill if you do not get warm. If you would take it, I offer my haori.”
A few blinks of confusion made her surprise apparent. She took what felt like minutes to answer, the request stuttered by chattering teeth. “Dr-dr-drop your s-sword...?"
He complied with a hard nod. Hands worked to untie the cords which secured his weapon. After unfastening it, he crouched to set it down; risen, he stood with his hands at his sides in wait for her approval. Plainly reluctant at first, she soon lowered her arms to her sides, the tanto loose in her leftward grip. Her glare shot into the ground left of her lap; it lanced him anew the moment he made movement to disrobe his outer garment. Thereafter, he held open the vertical cloth and warily stepped forward, fearful of her reaction but knowing no safe haven, save for the warmth of the haori and his company.
The girl allowed nearness, seemingly calm, though she quickly turned away and tucked her legs against her chest with the encircling right arm. Her listless eyes cut deep into cold earth and she cringed at his proximity, her trembling hide covered by the thick garment he flitted and let drape over her shoulders. She seemed sickened to adorn it, despite how soon she faintly whispered her gratitude. “Thank you...”
The swordsman stepped back and silently observed her shift her legs to reform a kneel and turn away, only her back to face him while she pulled her arms through the sleeves of shelter with noticeable relief. She tied the haori tightly at the waist and repositioned herself into a perfected kneel, though her arms wrapped her waist tighter than the garment itself. He circled to her front and looked down at her curiously, sure to be spacious.
She hunched forward, her stare unblinking and blank upon the fallen snow in front of her and lips a glower of shame. Many muted seconds followed, eventually replaced by solidified voice. “Who are you?”
He smiled brightly. “Hanabishi. Kiyoshi Hanabishi. And you?”
More moments of noiselessness. Her tone lightened. “...Sitirin... Like the gemstone, I mean.”
“A fascinating name,” came the quick compliment. Kiyoshi took a moment to ponder how to get her moving. “It's not a good idea to stay here. If you permit me, I would escort you to the capital. You can report this crime there.”
Her lips quivered. Fresh tears cut through blood. “There remains no cause for breath... not after my husband's death...”
The response came with celerity. “Should you not honor his memory by continuing to live?”
“I am not worthy of such a thing.” She let out a few more crying jerks and shut her eyes, her voice grew into a sorrowful shout. “What honor can a soiled woman bring?!”
A painfully hot swell of sympathy erupted within him, aroused by the confirmation of his fears. Kiyoshi remained determined. “Do you actually believe he'd feel that way?”
Her weeping ended with a shudder. She lifted her nonplused face with parting, empurpled lips and her broad, oceanic stare glittered against his own in a charm of rarity. She seemed entranced, unable to shake herself from the truth of his words until her gaze settled upon the face of her murdered love. Another pursing of her lips foretold of new tears, shaken away by the series of strengthening nods to follow as she seemed to collect herself with a single, deep breath. At long last, Sitirin made attempt to push herself up and stand, the forgotten knife allowed to slip from her grip and clang upon the ground.
Kiyoshi wasted no time stepping in and offering the help of his right hand. Her puzzled gaze studied the open palm before her own, slender fingers slid into his gentle grasp. The chill of her skin melted against the heat of his flesh while he warily pressed the other against her waist to aid the rise. In time, her wobbling figure stood up, only for a single step to send her falling forward into his chest with a groan. He caught her safely and she clutched his clothing, the impromptu intimacy effortless in creating a surge of passion that burned him up.
Once more came her sweetly soft voice, her arms slow to embrace him tightly. “Thank you...”
Whatever anger that would have cindered at the perpetrators melted from those two words. Despite the draining gust of gelid air that blew through them, their mutual insulation kept him increasingly comforted. Wafts of jasmine swirled from her hair and body in an almost dizzying aroma while she set her cheek against his chest. He did the only thing proper and gave kind return to the loving hold, as noninvasive as he could manage while his arms slid around the back and torso.
Sitirin's words again fluttered to his ear, strangely intemperate and confident. “Do you have any regrets for your life... hereafter ended by the bite of my knife?”
The question had him confused as he felt her hug loosen. Her left hand snuck beneath the folds of his clothing and upon his waist; the fingers flirtatiously raked the skin to precede returned query. “What did you s--”
Then a moment of sharp pain hit him alongside cold heat. Pulsating sensation bloomed from his abdomen and unknown, wet warmth trickled from the source. An unstoppable rush filled his throat and he let it out in a cough of liquid scarlet. His shove sent the girl back, although this time no sort of stumble occurred. She recovered without trouble, but he imploded upon his left knee and made vain effort to seal his wound with his right hand. Ghoulish paleness washed over his face, with every open, ragged breath he took made agonizing as his injury throbbed and tingled.
Blurring vision beheld the grinning inflicter, her left, gauntleted arm vertical in the falling sleeve's revelation of what it had long kept clandestine: a lengthy blade attached to the black accoutrement, now rich with red. Sitirin stood straight and proud, the other hand on her hip whilst she shed the charade that had ensnared him. Spells of darkness fought for his sight. He could only assume her weapon poisoned, but what escapes him is the motive. He had to swallow the copper in his mouth before he could utter the question. “Why...?”
Sitirin covered her mouth for a burst of giggling laughter, her hand returned thereafter and grin retained. Her head bounced astride to a quadruple utterance of mockery. “Why, why, why, why! Is that all one wishes to know when they die?” She wiped her weapon over the skirt of her new haori, the answer spoken as the blade is made clean, then brought vertical again for her close inspection. “I bestow a fate so shady...” Her right hand rose to pull on a mechanism under the forearm, the edge retracted with a set of clicks before their eyes met for conclusion. “...to any whom dare insult my lady.”
He gave a bloodied grin of his own in unhidden appreciation of the irony. “...an assassin?” He let out a hoarse laugh, punched in the gut by the pain. His eyes glanced upon the one he'd believed to be her beloved. “And that one?”
She joined her hands behind her legs and tilted her neck to her right. “He was an escort from Edo. A girl can't travel alone...” A shake of her head. “...not as things go.”
Supreme confidence dripped off her every word. Kiyoshi couldn't even feel wrath or dishonor. Sitirin had played him like a koto. He merely gave a final nod of defeat, of acceptance. Swells of nausea and black increasingly encompassed. Death is seconds away.
“Now then...” she resumed. “...before I depart: any last inquiry of your curious heart?”
The struggle to so much as hang onto her voice ended in swift failure. Stamina drained, blood lost, he simply let himself fall over, leftward upon claret snow. Cooling crimson inched along the winterland 'neath him, meshed with the sound of crunching footsteps that lulled him into perpetual darkness.
Once upon a time, there was a kitchen. In that kitchen was a young boy. He was intending on eating lunch.
His lunch was always the same. Two slices of bread mounted on top of each other with ham and cheese in between and then stuck into a sandwich toaster for four minutes. He always made two of those, side by side, since one was not enough to sate his hunger and the sandwich toaster allowed for two. However, due to that two were always made at the same time it always became a competition between the two sandwiches. Which one came out the better? Which one caused the least trouble? There were a number of factors which decided the winner.
Firstly, how well the sandwich kept itself in one piece. In order to make sure the bread didn’t get stuck on the sides of the sandwich toaster, the boy had to put butter on both the outsides before putting the ham and cheese on the unbuttered sides in between. But the only way to not put a side with butter on some surface it didn’t belong was to butter up the two sides and then put the two slices of bread on top of each other with the buttered sides facing one another, put the ham and cheese on top of the creation and then shift up the bottom slice over to the top before putting it in the toaster. But that allowed the two slices to stick to one another, so the first test was how well they held together before getting into the sandwich toaster. After also counts.
Secondly, it was the color after coming out. A beautifully fried sandwich always gets high points. Isn’t it every boy’s dream to eat one of those crunchy beautifully colored toasts?
Thirdly, how easily the sandwich comes out of the sandwich toaster. The sandwiches always had the habit of getting stuck to the toaster, despite all the butter used to keep that from happening. Some parts of the outer layers of the sandwich always seemed to get stuck, so the third criteria is how easily it comes out with as little sawing from plastic kitchen-essentials as possible. That’s that. The taste is no criteria, because they always taste the same anyway.
So, that day as any other the competition was on as the boy brought out the newest four slices to make two sandwiches… and the distinction between the two was already clear. There was already a huge gaping wound in one of them. Even before putting butter on it, the bread seemed to be falling apart. The other sandwich held together with grace, even as butter was being spread over it. The boy sighed over the trouble the hurt sandwich was giving him, forcing him to be extra careful while buttering it to make sure it didn’t split further apart. The whole sandwich seemingly mocked its opponent with rare perfection, seemingly holding together exactly as it should while the hurt counter-part did its best to keep up, to no avail. The boy felt somewhat sorry for the poor sandwich, as he imagined in his mind the emotions flaring around as it refused to give up despite its extreme disadvantage, but it appeared the winner was decided already.
The sandwiches were put in the sandwich toaster, the broken sandwich a poor display beside the perfect example beside it. The young boy, feelings of pity for the poor thing beside the proud paragon of perfection withholding as he went over to the computer to watch some videos. His eyes kept a steady eye on the clock in the corner of the screen to make sure to get the sandwiches at the proper time, enjoying some internet in the meantime. But when watching videos like that, four minutes pass quickly. Four minutes always pass quickly. So before he knew it, the young boy was on the way back to pick up the two done sandwiches. He opened up the sandwich toaster, bent low with a plastic tool because he knew they’d initially be stuck to the top of the sandwich toaster, and…
What was this? The one sandwich he had previously thought of as the paragon of perfection absolutely refused to let go of the toaster! The boy tore at it with the plastic tools, trying to run it into the areas between the sandwich toaster and the sandwich to make it let go, but it absolutely wouldn’t! By the time he had finally managed to free the stubborn sandwich from the sandwich toaster, it felt like more than half the bread had been left in the toaster because he had to cut it off to free the sandwich from the toaster! The result was a mess! By comparison, the one which earlier seemed hopeless was entirely OK! Nothing spectacular, still required some coaxing, but at least it stuck in with determination to do the absolute best of the situation! And because the outside color had not been left in the toaster, it won in color as well! Overall, it was absolutely the winner!
… The boy liked to imagine that the sandwiches had personas, emotions and will to be as good sandwiches as possible. And that “paragon of perfection” had earlier been striding forward like some sort of prince of sandwiches in appearance, but it was nothing but a fraud! It was unbelievable! The boy had been tricked by the false advertising of a sandwich! It made the boy feel even more sorry for the hard-working just somewhat subpar other sandwich, which had been oppressed and looked down on because it had been compared to this fraud… That’s just sad. It was entirely OK, after all. The boy couldn’t help but be touched by the sandwich’s hard work which eventually paid off with a victory and the acceptance of the boy…
… And then he ate the two sandwiches while watching online videos on the internet. He was still somewhat chocked that a sandwich had managed to fool him and that another sandwich had touched his feelings through hard work, but neither tasted any different from a normal sandwich. Not to mention how silly it was by him to imagine such a drama behind the simple task of making two sandwiches side by side. The boy casually discarded his thoughts on the incident as he chewed up the last of the hard-working one and picked up the one that tricked him from the plate without a second thought. Really, this incident hadn’t affected his life at all. It was really unremarkable.
But still, the memory of the incident curiously remained in his mind, making him remember it every time he ate that same lunch for a good long time. … For two sandwiches to do that, it was really, really incredible. Really.
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