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Hear ye! The Winners are Crowned Within!

Announcing the winners of my fantasy challenge

By Matthew FrommPublished 5 months ago Updated 2 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - October 2023
created with Midjourney




“All Rise!”

The attending Conclave of Bards rises, their black cloaks giving the impression of waves of shadow, as the drum beats echo off the stone walls of the Arcanium.

He descends in a resplendent red cloak from a lofted study stair by stair as the drum beat continues its hallowed rhythm.

The Judicious Vicar clears his throat as he arrives at the lectern gilded in gold.

“Here ye, Here ye. One month ago, we issued forth a challenge, inspiring our realm to bring forth tales of sword and sorcery. We hoped to evoke new heroes and legends, and we have succeeded. Hence, I have been lodged within my study, studying the greatest selection of fables and legends from our fair realm to decide those worthy of the King's purse. I have done thus.”

A round of cheers goes up from the black-clad Conclave of Bards.

“This decision was not made easy by the depth of wonder our subjects provided this great Conclave. Indeed, our champion was born on an injured raven, arriving at my study as the very last of the hourglass sands expired. Four passed the first round, two entered the third round, and in the end, one must be crowned.”

The conclave of bards nod in agreement. While they all silently wished a purse could be granted to all, the King was just, and his word was law.

The Judicious Vicar continued, “Because of their works, dragons, knights, and necromancers now bound about across the realm, sowing the necessary seeds of chaos and wonder may that new heroes arise.”

Another round of applause echoed off the stones. The staccato drum builds to a rousing crescendo as the Judicious Vicar raises the scroll in adoration. He lowers it, and the drum ceases.

Silence fills the air as if the Conclave's breath had been struck from their lungs.

“The winner of the King's purse is Thavien Yliaster for Necromancer's Neoteny!

The conclave explodes at the proclamation! The drums beat freely, and a chorus of claps and cheers joins them in wondrous harmony. The Judious Vicar raises his hand, and silence returns.

“Necromancer's Neoteny was bolstered by scoring well in all categories of evaluation, and then set apart by masterful use of conflict and setting. This author notably utilized these two categories to deepen each other, highlighted in the following lines:

‘Where would he go now? He had no family, no home, and now no sect to belong to. The paladins wouldn't want him, and neither would the clergy nor the academics. Where was he to turn?’

By placing this after establishing both strong interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict, the author deepens the imagery of the setting into something decidedly fantastical, strengthens the already established conflicts, and, most importantly, deepens strong, tri-leveled faction conflicts.

Finally, he masterfully pays off his promise established at the very beginning of the story, and at the end, we’re left with a character who has gone from initiate to necromancer in a satisfying and logical way, who has compelling conflicts within himself, against Ganelon, against his family, against multiple other factions, and we are left believing the story will continue to exist beyond the end of the page.

All in all, this wonderful piece had everything I had hoped our subjects would deliver. My red quill is still sharp, however. Thankfully, I am familiar with the works this author chose to pull from for some creative inspiration, and I will assume that the use of ‘Loose’ and not ‘lose’ within their plot promise is intentional. Not all may be, however, and they would do well to mind that in the future. Please join me in a round of applause!”

The conclave nodded their agreement in this evaluation and gave a more subdued clap. The Judicious Vicar raised his hand again, and silence fell.

“The winner of the second purse is Fantasy Shorts: The Mage and the Yeoman by Ian Read!”

Another chorus of cheers erupted in assent.

“Lord Read made it into the second round on the strength of his world and plot, which inspired images of classic heroes. However, it was a close thing. It wasn’t until my second review that I realized what I thought was missing from this story was actually its strength. On a long walk through the gardens, it struck me that the conflict I wished to see would never appear in this story because it’s not a story for me; it’s a story for those sitting there in the Inn with our hero, who like a fisherman, would never admit to his weaknesses. This elevated his tonal score enough to push him into second place. And as you all know, I love an expert use of a Tonal payoff. Outstanding.”

A round of celebrations went out across the hall, quickly stifled as the Judious Vicar raised his hands. A low murmur continued. What is this? What else has been done?

“By the grace of our King, it has been ruled that two additional entrants will be awarded an additional prize due to the quality of their works. Hannah Moore is to be awarded a purse for her story The Offering for outstanding use of plot twist, and Stephanie Hoogstad will be awarded a purse for her outstanding use of leveled conflict in her work Thorn’s Last Stand. All purses will be distributed within the day. Thus concludes the Conclave of Bards!”

A final cheer went up as the Novices distributed the list of works:

Silence the Flames - Amanda Starks (Top Story)

Rattlesnakeskin - Celia in Underland

The Offering - Hannah Moore (Honorable Mention, Top Story)

Fantasy Shorts: The Mage and the Yeoman - Ian Read (Runner Up)

Fantasy Shorts: The Tale of Ser Roger and the Bridge of Woe - Ian Read

Fantasy Shorts: The Man of Glass - Ian Read

The Apprentice - Lamar Wiggins (Top Story)

The Minstrel - Mark Gagnon

Afredo il Sanguinario - Paul Stewart

Fool's Errand - Rachel Deeming

Aryan Petal - Real Poetic

Loki Keeps His Word - Rob Angeli

Zoe Delaney's Strange Dream - Sarah D

Thorn's Last Stand - Stephanie Hoogstad (Honorable Mention)

The Nymph's Melody - Stephanie Hoogstad

The Raven Knight - ThatWriterWoman

Necromancer's Neoteny - Thavien Yliaster (Winner, Top Story)

Orphaned Son - Veronica Coldiron

Dragon Kin - Veronica Coldiron

The King's own entry can be read here:


This was a lot of fun, and congrats to the winners! Works listed alphabetically by author. Thank you to all who participated, and I hope to cross paths with your characters again. I’m not lying when I said this was quite difficult and came down to multiple rounds of regrading. Finally, thank you for indulging in my stylistic announcement; it felt wrong to do anything else. Please check out all of the works above.

If you've enjoyed this, please leave a like and an insight below. If you really enjoyed this, tips to fuel my coffee addiction are always appreciated. You can check out all of my works below:


About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (32)

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  • ThatWriterWoman5 months ago

    Congratulations everyone!

  • Thank you

  • Henrietta Nsa5 months ago

    Wow great read+

  • Veronica Coldiron5 months ago

    Congratulations to the victorious! Well deserved on all counts! PS... it's "Coldiron". 😅🤣😂🤣

  • Naveed 5 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story

  • Mark Graham5 months ago

    Quite the imaginative way to state the winners. Thought I was reading a gothic story. Congratulations!

  • Grz Colm5 months ago

    I loved how you announced that.., so much suspense ! Congrats to the winners and nice job Matthew for your top story! 😊👍

  • Celia in Underland5 months ago

    I couldn't login to comment yesterday, but a great challenge! Thank you...I now have a bit of fantasy bug in my bonnet - for which I am blaming you! Awesome proclamation and looking forward to reading through all of the entries! And congrats on Top story! 🤍

  • Wooohooooo congratulations to everyone! This was sooooo awesomeeee! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Julia Schulz5 months ago

    Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of the challenge!

  • Heather Hubler5 months ago

    Loved this challenge and the way you presented the winners! What fun and yay for Thavien!!! and the rest of the winners and participants :)

  • Thavien Yliaster5 months ago

    I must be honest. I was not expecting to win. I feel that whenever I write a microfiction that I try to fit too much into such a dense amount of words that sometimes the language looses its flavor. I Thank You, Matthew Fromm, and all those who enjoyed reading my work, of bestowing upon me such praise, and with such a hefty purse. I feel that the other reason why my work might have won was due to Your own comforter, Your own pet dog, in the hopes that You may protect Your comforter from a fate that Baskerville was made to endure. May no good boy be unjustly punished, but may those who punish good boys unjustly be justly punished by all and even hounded down by the good boys for their devious actions.

  • Margaret Brennan5 months ago


  • Hannah Moore5 months ago

    Outstanding presentation. Shall we get dressed up and enact it! Thank you, this was such a fun challenge.

  • Onah chidera5 months ago

    Nice work ❤️ I hope I am okay cause the stories I write are starting to scar me 😪

  • Bugsy Watts5 months ago

    I was also inspired by your challenge to dive back into fantasy and post the story that I originally started writing for the Christopher Paolini challenge! It was too long for this competition but I appreciate the motivation :)

  • JBaz5 months ago

    Congratulations, I read this earlier then started reading the winners stories. Great idea and great job. I wish I would have taken part in it.

  • Dana Crandell5 months ago

    Thanks for creating this fun challenge, Matthew, and I regret that I couldn't complete anything for it. This announcement is pure genius, and I'm looking forward to reading all the stories.

  • Bugsy Watts5 months ago

    Omg so many nerds here. I love it!

  • Awesome ✨ Congratulations Everyone 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

  • Alexander McEvoy5 months ago

    Wow! That was an amazing way to do an announcement Matthew! Brilliantly done and congrats to all the victors, may they enjoy their spoils

  • StoryholicFinds5 months ago

    Great story and congrats ♥️

  • Rachel Deeming5 months ago

    Congrats to the winners! I loved the way your proclamation was made! So apt! I had a great deal of fun entering this challenge.

  • Caroline Jane5 months ago

    I love how you have done this. Great fun. Sorry I didn't get involved, wish I'd had the headspace! ❤️

  • J. S. Wade5 months ago

    Love this! 👑Long live the King!

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