In the horrible cultural razing that was the Great Cataclysm, much was lost of our ancestor’s literature. Only so many books were carried into the caves and caverns where the terrified survivors sought safety, and fewer still withstood those dank environs over the long years. But in that desolation was also the birth of a new, if scant, literature. Literature which spoke to the hopes and fears of that desperate time. Among these precarious treasures were countless fables that sprang up, informing and enlightening each new generation, helping them to cope with their dark and dangerous new subterranean world.Little was written down, for there was little on which to write. Because of the scarcity of writing materials, these moral tales, told around fires and at the bedsides of children, were stored only in the mind and transmitted only by the spoken word. Though their form was fleeting, their importance was incalculable.But in the fullness of time, as our ancestors returned to the surface, many of the lessons taught through those fables were no longer so relevant. New fables and stories began to take their place. Though some fables that originated in the caves are still with us -- I am thinking particularly of “The Drowning Donkey” and “The Spider and the Bat” -- their form and substance have been altered so much over time as to be almost unrecognizable compared to the originals. Most of the fables once told in the underground places simply began to vanish.Recognizing the inevitable decay of this oral tradition, one bard of scholarly bent, Cardimus, endeavored to collect and record these fables. Though originally transcribed as “The Fables of Cardimus,” today they are more commonly and simply known as “The Cave Fables.” -- from Fendel’s “History of the Cataclysm, Volume 4” What’s going on? [edit: The contest is now over, and was won by Trapper for the entry "No Way Out"! Though the contest is over, you are still welcome to post your fables to this thread.] It’s your chance to write a fable! And maybe win a prize! I’m running an unofficial contest for aspiring writers and fans of storytelling, which I hope will generate a series of fables for Portalarium to collect and put in a book that will show up somewhere in-game. My hope is that we’ll get at least 10-15 good fables that will eventually make up a book called “Cave Fables”. These fables should be ones that would have been written during the time that humans who survived the cataclysm were forced to live underground. For the purposes of this contest we will define a fable as a very short piece of prose fiction, generally containing anthropomorphised animals, objects, or forces of nature, which contains some sort of moral or life lesson. The characters can also be humans or mythological creatures. Creatures from lore of New Britannia would be especially appropriate. The moral or lesson should be something that people forced to live underground would want to teach their children. It might be a general moral like ‘do not be a glutton’ or ‘share what you have with those who have less’, or it might be some useful lesson for survival, like ‘don’t build a fire in a cave with no airflow’. The moral can be explicitly stated at or near the end of the fable, but it can also be implicit in the story as long as it is fairly unambiguous. How do I enter? Anyone who has pledged to Shroud of the Avatar is eligible. To enter, just post your fable in this thread. Entries should be 100 - 500 words long (not including the title). You can post fables shorter or longer, but anything outside of the 100-500 word range will not be considered for the contest. Yes, I will check word counts. You can submit up to two entries. You can post more fables than that, but only the first two fables posted per person will be considered for the contest. We do not yet know if or how Portalarium will accept crowdsourced writing for use in the game, or what sort of compensation, if any, they will offer. By submitting a fable, you should consider it an offer to Portalarium to use the fable in the game without any compensation to you. Submissions as part of the contest will be accepted until 9:00 PM Central Standard Time, on Saturday, January 11, 2014. No editing posts after submission, so be sure to post your finished work. If a post has been edited at the end of the contest time, it will no longer be considered for the contest. After the winner is announced, feel free to edit an entry if you think you can improve the fable for Portalarium’s benefit. How/What do I win? I will pick a winning entry and post the winner by Noon CST on Monday, January 13, 2014. I will judge the entries on a vague range of features that may be somewhat arbitrary and possibly capricious. The winner will be gifted by me his or her choice of one of the $10 Prosperity items (or any of the other $10 items) available in the SotA addon store. Any other guidance? The most voluminous source to check out would of course be Aesop’s Fables. This is a good place to get the feeling for what a fable is as a literary form. It should be short and punchy. Primarily focused on plot. No flowery prose. Although you should consider following the style of Aesop’s Fables, don’t focus too much on the substance. Many of them (I think) make for poor stories, especially the ones that seem to be some sort of political commentary. Many of them seem to about convincing slaves or the downtrodden that are getting what they deserve, and should be happy with what they have. Those that have a more timeless lesson are probably the ones you are familiar with, like the “Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. Those are the kinds of fables that you should strive to emulate. A more modern source to check out is the Google Books preview of "Fables" by Arnold Lobel. You may also want to check out the wikipedia page on fables and contrast that with the page on fairy tales (which is not the subject of this contest). I’ll show my own examples of what I’m looking for in a following post. These are not to be taken as examples of good writing. Just something to give you an idea of the flavor of what I’m looking for. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck!