Onmund’s Story (recommended for players of Skyrim)

I remembered the day I saw the guards dragging my father into Dragonsreach. It was not his first time before the Jarl’s court. But, this crime was his worst.

I leaned against the doorway to court wizard Farengar’s quarters. The Jarl was particularly put out, having to delay his noon meal in order to conduct Father’s trial. And by the smell of roast meat wafting from the kitchens, I could see why.

“Markus, son of Fermund,’ Jarl Balgruuf announced. “The Court of Whiterun finds you guilty of theft, burglary and desecration of the Hall of the Dead.”

At this, my father spat on the ground, marring the pinewood before the Jarl’s feet. Curling his lip in distaste, Balgruuf continued.

“Under the eyes of Talos,”Balgruuf began. “All Nords are raised to fight well, and to die well. For all Nords who have fallen in glorious battle, their spirits now live in Shor’s Hall, in Sovngarde, yet their remains rest in the Hall of the Dead.”

“All Nords were raised to respect their dead, yet our town guard finds you not only stealing the trophies of war earned by our fallen brothers and sisters, but trespassing into the inner catacombs, disturbing the crypts of warriors who fought alongside Ysgramor himself! Is this not true, Markus?”

“Hah!” My father cried. “If our so called ‘warriors’ live in Sovngarde, with all the mead they can drink, and enough roasted meats to feed strongholds of orcs ‘till the end of days, then surely, they would not care to part with a few items to help their fellow living sons and daughters of Skyrim?”

“A true son of Skyrim would not trespass in the Hall of the Dead, and rouse the Draugr within!” Balgruuf retorted. “Now, I must take men away from the walls, to destroy all of the awakened Draugr. These men are needed on the outside, to defend the town against the dragon menace!”

Father looked away, and I winced. Mother had been killed two Loredas’s ago by a dragon attack. The memory of it still resonated in both our minds.

“For these reasons, Whiterun shall have justice from you, Markus,” Balgruuf continued. “Bjorlam will take you to Cidhna Mine in Markarth, where you will pick at the stone until the end of your days.”

Father gazed at Balgruuf, tears forming from his one good eye.

“You call this justice?” He protested. “Rather than sentencing a brother Nord to a life lived under the heel of the Silver-Bloods, why won’t you help me? If you had not signed that blasted White-Gold Concord-“

“ENOUGH!” Balgruuf shouted. “Enough. The hour grows late, and I tire of this. The court’s sentence has been passed. Justice has been given. Escort the prisoner away.”

Two guards grasped Father’s arms. As they led him out, I heard him mutter: “Justice has been given? Traitors! Talos would never have let a son of Skyrim suffer like this!”

They reached the doors, and Father looked back at me, staring through his good eye.

“You would be the worst traitor, preferring to weave spells of Destruction instead of training your sword-arm like a true Nord would,” he sneered. “Wouldn’t you agree, my son?

I balled my fists, and cupped a lightning bolt in my hands. Before I could shoot, Farengar, the court wizard of Dragonsreach laid a hand on my shoulder.

“Don’t do it, Onmund,” he assured.  “Your aptitude for the arcane arts will serve you well come the day you join the College of WInterhold. There, you can escape your father’s end, and have a whole new beginning, in peace.”

 

Game of Poetry

I invited my friend, Julian, to surprise me with a theme and a noun around which I must base my poem on. As an added layer of difficulty, the title must be an anagram. Here are those words:

Theme: Hatred

Noun: Dog

 

GREAT HODD

In the hood, the locals say hodd,

Food is not food, food is fodd.

Down by the old farmer’s plot,

Dogs shout joyfully in the wind.

Fodd, they smell and come tumbling down

Around the large bay, over the sod, the lot,

Leaping like flying fish in a flodd,

A torrential pour of paws, leaps and trods.

“Get out of my sight!” An old dog yells,

Looking at a puppy with hatred, who swelled

his eyes with fright, away the delight

but not without a fight.

Desperate might from the bottom of his heart despite

his inferior height!

The dogs find the food, the fodd,

the loot, no, lott. They share. Not.

They fight and bite, a sight to remember.

Passers-by look and see a whirl of dust,

pieces of chicken, cake and cod.

They say “Look!”

The head dog is onto the cod

but the little puppy dog does not let up the fodd!

Hanford 11C

Theme: Endings

A circle Dan’s finger traced, round and round and he started to ponder. Sitting on the curb with the icy breeze in his hair, his nail left powdery white marks in the concrete. It was a calm night and through his frosty breath, he glanced at the moon. Bright and round, hanging against the backdrop of starless velvet black.

“A galaxy of opportunities and wonder awaits the fateful wanderer.” was something Dan remembered from his stories with Grandpa. Perhaps he could fly into the night and let the darkness swallow him but he was much too afraid. Afraid of the uncertainty, afraid of the regret, afraid of the dark. He was once naïve and could sail upon his Grandpa’s dreams and tales but now he was older, he knew better. Nothing came of having high hopes, dreams never come true and neither do wishes. All this while, he was still scratching into the concrete. The grit and bumps made it impossible to keep his line perfectly curved and it wobbled the whole way around his circle. He looked at the moon closer still. He could imagine the bumps and craters but from so far away, it seemed perfectly round. A spherical heavenly body. Oh, the stories his Grandpa told him when he was young; about the moon and a wealthy, wealthy man. A man slaved only to his desires. This man was born lucky and Dan was lucky to be born. He came from a line of diabetics; generations upon generations of genetics of doom and death. No longer safe and carefree under his parents’ wing. No more medical bills for he had no money for them. He regretted the first time that the lever from the jackpot machine buckled under his palm.

Dan was afraid of the uncertainty and regret and dark yet he was living in it. Uncertain that his last insulin shot would last much longer, regretful for giving away his fortune in greed for more and shadowed always by the darkness that was around him, not only physically, but emotionally too. He had nothing to live for, he needed to take a dive and chase his dreams. “A galaxy of opportunities and wonder awaits the fateful wanderer.” Dreams are not reality. Wishes shoot past and disappear in fiery meteors. Hope flickers and dies out. So many bumps and pieces of grit lay on the road in front of him like mines on a battlefield. It was impossible to find a straight line through all the pieces. Round and round, his finger still etching more and more of itself onto the ground.

As he looked skyward for hope, the first star of the night winked at him. What was above the world? Stars were above the world, twinkling in all their glory. He felt a cloud clear in his mind and heart. His sound mind was beginning to show its dominance. A hint of a barbeque tainted the night air and Dan’s stomach growled and whined. Still, he was penniless and homeless.

“If only I could find a way…” he muttered as he drew vicious circles into the cold pavement.

Hanford 11C

The Iphone 5 Release

On the busy streets of Melbourne, horns blared out while tyres screeched across the wind and into the ears of Joshua Calton. But he did not fear the blasting sounds of cars. Today was a special day for Josh. The 4.87 inches high and 2.31 inches wide smartphone was finally being released; the iPhone 5. Josh had waited for this for so long. Prior to the release, countless hours were spent on the Internet, glorifying this item’s magnificient features; 4G Network, 8 megapixel camera with LED flash…

As Josh approached the rear end of Chadstone Shopping Centre, he knew he had to be the first to receive this beautiful product. Or else why waste the time buying it at its release? Pumped with excitement, Joshua pushed everyone aside at the entrance of the shopping centre, including an elderly woman who shouted a few words about manners as he raced the dark, marble floor. His knees started to ache the closer he got to the store but knew it was worth it. Josh could imagine it; all the television reporters swarming around him, asking about his feelings of being the first to obtain the iPhone 5.

The steep escalators were right up ahead, waiting for Josh’s presence. As he stepped on a metal pellet, loud clacks arose from underneath as the machine welcomed Joshua’s entry. Once reaching the bottom, the Apple store was within sight with the logo illuminating large specks of white light. Best of all, no one was at the entrance to stop him from being the first. He knew it would all work out for him.

Suddenly, in the corner of his left eye, a streak of blue rushed past him towards the store. After all this time and effort, Josh wasn’t going to stand there and allow such people to take his spot. It was now or never! Joshua sprinted across the hall and over a brown bench as fast as his legs could take him. However, the mysterious man still seemed to be hundreds of metres in front of Joshua. With the last bit of energy, Josh burst his way through the man like a hungry cheetah swiftly pouncing on its prey and into the door of the shop. He had done it!

Josh turned around to see the man with his head hanging down, in disappointment. That man was just like him, waking up early for the new technology yet to be released and now the man’s desires of being first disappeared into depths of the ground. Josh understood how the man felt and knew he would feel the same if that happened to him. Josh thought deep about it for a while and slowly approached the man.

“Do you want to go ahead of me? If you really want to, I could let you.”

The man’s eyes sparkled back to life and nodded with a big grin.

He replied,” Thanks for the offer! I really appreciate it.”

The man stepped in front of me and peered through the glass windows, constantly staring at the iPhone 5 poster.

Soon, more and more people started to gather around the Apple Store, waiting for the release. There were many parents standing patiently while their children were jumping around with excitement and constantly asking their Dad and Mum, “When will shop open?” or “Is it open yet?” Others were discussing the excellent builds and features of the phone.

The clock eventually reached 8 AM and a dark figure from the back of the store slowly walked towards the crowd. As the figure reached the entrance, a loud cheer came from the audience. It was the store manager! Everyone stared at the manager as he reached into his tiny pocket and pulled out several silver keys. Carefully slotting in the keys into the lock, the doors gently opened up.

People began to push their way through, attempting to see this wonderful iPhone. Yelling and screaming of kids echoed along the walls of the shopping centre. A booming voice from the speakers above interrupted the mayhem.

“Please refrain yourself from pushing into others or else this will take longer than it needs to be,” the manager cried.

Everyone halted after hearing the manager’s shouts, worrying that they would lose their opportunity to acquire the iPhone 5. His assistant then appeared and invited the blue shirted man inside the store. Minutes later, he came back out carrying a grey box and disappeared into the crowd. Joshua was called in next. While entering the shop, he glanced at all the grey boxes sitting on the shelves, waiting to be picked up.

Josh grabbed one of the boxes at the bottom and opened it up. Inside was glorious phone with a 4 inch widescreen display, 1136 by 640 pixel resolution and built-in speaker as well as earpods and a USB power adapter. When Josh walked out with a smile on his face, he noticed reporters crowding around the man, asking him all sorts of different questions like “How does feel to be the first to have possession of the first iPhone 5?” and “What is your favourite app?”

Inside his heart, Josh was jealous that he wasn’t receiving any fame from any of the reporters but then remembered the man’s dejected face upon arrival of the Apple Store. Although everything didn’t go his way, Joshua had helped a person in need and that was the important thing of all.

Written by William Lai 9A

NOTE: I just recently joined competition writing and this is my first post on the blog. I am not the best at English so there are probably several mistakes in the essay.

Capitalism vs. Human Kindness

Just before we begin, for those of you who are reading this outside of Australia (if you exist), Gina Rinehart is Australia’s wealthiest woman and person (valued at almost 100 billion dollars, I believe) and she is a mining tycoon. In response to a tax proposal from the Australian Government, Gina Rinehart began an ad campaign and is attempting to buy newspaper agencies out in order to get to the end goal of aborting the tax. The tax works under the principle that all mineral wealth that is dug from Australian land should have a tax on it, something twenty or thirty percent of all profits. The idea is that the destructive mining of Australian land should benefit the Australian people more.

If you have any kind of rationalised reason for why the idea behind this policy is wrong, please let me know via e-mail if you still have it when I’m done (twitchyraven@gmail.com).

The case has been repeatedly made (mostly by big-business) that we live in a capitalist society, and one of the core tenets of a capitalist economic structure is: if you have the means to achieve/pursue success, you also have the right to achieve/pursue that success. Of course, this tenet is affected by law, like any other action. So if you have the means to shoot somebody and take all their money, which could be construed as pursuing success, you shouldn’t, because it’s still illegal.

Now, for a number of reasons, I have an ideological difference of opinion with this concept. I personally am a fan of a philosopher called John Rawls, whose political philosophy I encourage you all to look up or even wikipedia. Aside from that, I also believe, as the title suggests, that this form of capitalism and advancement and propping up of success goes against human kindness, which is something we should all strive for.

In this capitalist society, it has come about that Gina Rinehart has become very rich by exploiting the land that we live on. When something challenged that wealth, she scrambles and spends large amounts of money to defend it. Human kindness, as a rule, would dictate that if she could instead spend that money to help other people considerably poorer than she, such as the disabled or mentally challenged, she should, because it would be kind to do.

She would likely respond by saying, as most capitalists do, that: people are poor mostly by their own lack of effort. I contradict that, always, saying that capitalism provides the opportunity to become rich, but not to the disabled or the mentally challenged, almost by definition. If you are incapable of pursuing success for whatever reason, capitalism and you are going to have problems, because as the rich get richer and bathe in money and buy expensive cars and houses, you are going to have trouble putting food on the table.

Luckily for you, the government exists. The government provides some level of base equality care to people who need it, say, the disabled. They get the money to do this from tax.

Naturally, when the government introduces a perfectly logical tax, the rich that it affects automatically scramble to try and stop it and keep their wealth. The concept of capitalism has become so entrenched in the Western World, that these rich people have forgotten the reason we have taxes and government: to help the unable, to do a human kindness. Now, the populace gets angry at the mention of a tax that won’t give them an instant benefit, or do others a human kindness. That, however, is the problem of instant satisfaction in today’s society, and not the point of this.

Author’s Note:

Again, this was previously on tumblr, which is being abandoned. Enjoy. Criticism encouraged.

The point of that whole little diatribe was to point out that people who attempt to combat a tax that will undoubtedly help others just because they want to stay rich, are in fact the evil bastards of the world.

I’ll reference something else now. In Australia, currently, we have a government health system called Medicare that works reasonably well, and covers everybody for not that many things, the latter part being it’s major flaw. So, as in, for example, America, people like their private health care funds. In Australia, at the moment, there exists also a rebate for private health care subscribers. This comes from the government, and everybody, not just those on private health care, even the poor who rely on Medicare, have to pay a tax to fund the rebate.

Recently, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has proposed to change the rebate, so that anybody or any family who earns a collective total of more than $250,000 a year should be unable to make use of rebate. They argue that this should be means tested.

There has been staunch opposition by rich people who actually earn that much. Think about this, though. They can easily afford it, they’ll just have to fly around the world a little less each year, but they still oppose it. What they are effectively saying is that people who earn 60 grand a year, which is not much in Australia, should pay a tax so that they, the rich who earn more than 250 (at least four times the poor people in this example) grand a year, get a discount for something they can easily afford anyway.

I ask you. Is that human kindness being shown, or is it the selfish greed that drives the capitalist ideology?

Author’s Note:

This was previously on my tumblr and is being re-posted here because I am abandoning my tumblr account. Enjoy.

A friend of mine recently remarked to me that he didn’t want to be a journalist any longer because he believed journalism was dying. I think he meant that real investigative journalism was being butchered by the twenty-four hour news cycle.

I happen to completely agree. In my opinion, and granted, I haven’t been following politics or journalism for a very long time, Kerry O’Brien, former host of 7:30 on ABC, was the best interviewer in Australia. He actually asked interesting questions and the reactions of the people he interviewed told you things even if they didn’t answer themselves.

I can no longer find that. All I hear about these days is how Tony Abbot said that x policy was bad and reckless and would destroy Australian’s financial lives, or how Julia Gillard lied about the carbon tax, or how Craig Thompson is facing charges. Basically, all we hear these days are constantly reported, completely annoying sound bites that every news channel hooks on to and we can no longer see investigative journalism.

An example. Let’s use Tony Abbot, because, deep down, we all have a desire to make an example of him in some stupid way. Tony Abbot is shown on various news programs criticizing the government’s policies, mostly because he believes they will destroy the economy. Now, see, I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t actually care about that sound bite. What I want is for a reporter to interview Tony Abbot, and ask him to explain, in reasonable detail, how exactly the carbon tax will destroy the economy.

Another example. Journalists have long been the people who “fact check” what the politicians say. Tony Abbot and the Coalition say that most other countries in the world don’t have a carbon tax. Right. Anybody want to know the facts? That’s bullshit. Sure, the undeveloped countries in Africa don’t have a carbon tax, but they’re poor. Almost all of Europe does. In fact, when I was in Germany not three months ago, I was sitting at a dinner table and mentioned that fact that Australia doesn’t have a green energy policy. That made them all laugh. They actually thought it was a joke, at first. Funny, isn’t it?

My point with all of this is simple. The twenty-four news cycle has bread the necessity for the news agencies to say something all the time, and because they can’t constantly be interviewing politicians, they’ve decided they should interview other journalists instead of actually analyzing, in an intelligent manner, what politicians are saying.

I don’t care if Julia Gillard lied about the carbon tax. What I want the media to tell people, is what exactly is the carbon tax? What will it mean for the everyday person? What will it increase the cost of? Why is it necessary? What will it do?

I am a high school student, doing debating. The first thing they teach you at any level of debating is that policy/argument needs three levels: the idea, the analysis, and the evidence that it will/won’t work. Politicians and the news have the idea sort of there, the evidence sort of there, and absolutely no analysis.

Anybody else want to know exactly what a policy will do?

A final note about the politics of Australia. I have a friend, 30 odd years old. Here’s a conversation between me and him, that perfectly exemplifies what the Australian people seem to be widely doing. He is an Abbot supporter. I am not.

Me: “Why do you hate Julia Gillard?”

Him: “Because she’s ruining the country.”

Me: “How? How is she ruining the country?”

Him: “Ummm….”

And that right there, is the problem.

THE GREAT RUBY OF CONSTANTINOPLE

At the dawn of the Second Millennium, when Constantinople was ruled by the Empress Theodora, a ruby was procured from the deepest mine of the region; a ruby so ethereal that it was said even the blind were entranced by it.

It was declared too beautiful for anyone but the royalty to see, and so it was placed within The Great Palace of Constantinople, where only Theodora and her court could gaze upon it. 

Being the most valuable object in the world, it is understandable that an assortment of thieves should attempt to steal it. It is here that we come to a man named Bahadir, who on one Arabian night found himself dangling off the palace parapets.

It cannot be said how he managed to find himself in that situation. It was said that it was impossible for any thief to hope to scale the mighty palace walls. However, Bahadir was no ordinary thief.  It should come as a surprise that a man so popular and well-liked should even follow the path of ignominious crime in the first place.

Bahadir had five beautiful daughters who he loved and cherished dearly. Many men told him that to have no male heir was shameful beyond comparison, and that he should divorce his wife immediately, yet Bahadir would not listen. He loved his wife, and he loved his daughters, and with them he managed to bake the most popular bread in the bazaar.  

That’s right; this thief was a baker! He could always be seen roaming the crowded streets, selling his bread to passer-bys while keeping his own eyes open for rare and valuable items.  

One such item was a mysterious elixir procured from the local apothecary. It was said that the very instance one sniffed it, it would completely drown their senses and they would fall into a deep sleep. It was made for the insomniacs of Constantinople, yet Bahadir saw no problem with using it so subdue the various guards on patrol.

From there he traipsed over to the ceiling sealing the ruby within the palace. He was directly above the Great Hall, where, if his sources were correct, the ruby lied upon a marble pedestal upon a luminescent marble floor. The reason the floor was luminescent was because of a large hole in the ceiling, designed to let sunlight and moonlight in. One could not deny the beauty of this feature, but its security hindrance proved to be quite bothersome for the royalty.

The palace was simply too easy to break into, which may explain why, while he was slowly abseiling downwards, Bahadir found himself crashing into the ground, having fallen twenty feet to a broken right leg. As he stifled his screams, so as to not alert the outside guards, he looked up at the ceiling, where he saw a man untying his rope. Bahadir had already said his final prayers when he realised that this man was not a guard, but another thief; just as cunning, yet marginally slower, than Bahadir.

Bahadir chastised himself for the foolishness of the whole ordeal. At this moment he valued his livelihood far more than the ‘Iris of Allah’ resting a few feet from him. Nonetheless, he placed it in his pouch and set off to escape.

After quickly creating a makeshift cast out of tightly wound rope, Bahadir set off to escape. He proved to be a surprisingly fast hobbler, and much to his amazement, hobbled right out the front gates to safety.

When Bahadir returned to his family he showed his daughters the ruby. He told them that even though they were a humble family of bakers, they could experience the same beauty as the Empress of Constantinople. Listening to the newsreader in the plaza, Bahadir discovered the reason he so easily escaped.

The guards were busy interrogating the thief found prowling the palace ceiling. 

 

Austin Bond 

(Please provide constructive criticism via comments. Thank you!)