Fantasy Faction's monthly contests are fun and casual, and the results intriguingly varied. For this month's theme, they chose "grimdark."
I've heard grimdark bandied about in the twittersphere, but never gave the term much thought. It sounds relentlessly oppressive, doesn't it? So I read the discussion thread on FF and did a bit of research, and gave it a go. It was tough not to insert a bit of humor, and honestly, I'm still not sure I've got a good grasp on grimdark. Humorless, dark atmosphere? Mounting casualties? Visceral images of the bloody and beheaded kind? Sad endings?
Maybe. I'll have to do more research. I was careful not to read too much of it in one day, as I didn't want it to influence my own story.
My stab at grimdark is Chirp. A witch's son, a pox-ridden queen, and the language of birds... and arrows.
I suggest if you read the entries that you especially pay attention to ACSmyth's A Deadly Game. Initially thrown off by the somewhat cliche title, man, I got drawn in and was appropriately shocked. Great tale, well told.