The Schmarlequin Contests

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Name: The Schmarelquin Contests
Date(s): 1998-2000
Moderator(s): Maygra & Eng
Fandom: Highlander
Associated Community:
URL: The Schmarlequin Contests (via Wayback)
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The Schmarlequin Contests were a Duncan/Methos Harlequin challenge in Highlander fandom. The subtitle of the challenge was "Harlequin, Schmarlequin, read me some slash." The challenge ran for three years and the first and most popular one was called Swords at Sunset, which is the name people most often use to refer to this contest. Swords at Sunset was the title of a fictional Highlander romance novel cover and the challenge was to write the novel that would go with the cover. The entries were posted anonymously and readers could then vote on the stories and later the winners were announced.

Swords at Sunset

Swords at Sunset had 11 official entries. The winner was determined by combining the results of a judges' award and a readers' poll.[1]

Judges' Awards Readers' Poll
1st #10 by Rory V Pascual #9 by Ashlyn Donnchaid & Maygra de Rhema
2nd #2 by pander blue #10 by Rory V Pascual
3rd #9 by Ashlyn Donnchaid & Maygra de Rhema #7 by JiM, with Piper

The winning entry was entry #10 by Rory V Pascual and the name was added to the cover.

cover image of Swords at Sunset with author name of the winning entry
  1. Swords at Sunset by Snowbound (Word count: ~2,800).
  2. Swords at Sunset by pander blue (Word count: ~11,100).
  3. Swords at Sunset by eng (Word count: ~3,700).
  4. Swords at Sunset by Jennifer S. (Word count: 12,900).
  5. Swords at Sunset by ? (Word count: 10,300).
  6. Swords at Sunset by by rac & Carson Kearns, a.k.a. Two Crazy Ladies (Word count: 35,700). Author's summary: "An original entry in the first SAS contest at the HLQC, is a period piece that's an outrageous and wild romp through an imagined past of Duncan and Methos."[2] The story is described as a Victorian~style romp and got a honorable mention because it made the judges blush. [1]
  7. Brought to Heel: A Codpiece Ripper by JiM, with Piper (Word count: ~12,100). Author's notes from WWOMB: "An A/U story For Maygra's "Swords at Sunset" contest." Includes the warnings AU, m/m, Non-con. Sylvia describes it in her rec as a "pirate story featuring pre-reformation Methos."[3] [2] [3]
  8. Swords at Sunset (a.k.a. The Fae Prince) by sylvan (Word count: ~7,500). Twenty-year old Duncan MacLeod meets a sensual stranger in the woods. He runs afoul of the stranger's enemy, and soon is in dire need of rescue.
  9. Swords at Sunset - A Highlander Romance Novella by Ashlyn Donnchaid & Maygra de Rhema (Word count: ~43,900). The story made second place and is the winner of the Crystal Dragon Award from the Highlander Quill Club.
  10. Swords at Sunset by Rory V Pascual (Word count: 25,458). Author's summary: "Based on "Beauty And The Beast". The son of a Scottish laird is forced to marry an infamous warrior to save his father and his sisters from his wrath. He soon finds his heart in a bitter tug of war, torn between love for the warrior he married and the mysterious, dashing young man who cares for his needs. This story won First Place in the Highlander Quill Club's "Swords At Sunset" contest." The story is still available at The Angst Archive[4], at the AO3 (see story link) and via Wayback (version with challenge cover).
  11. Swords at Sunset by ? (Word count: ~3,700).

Other stories based on the challenge cover include:

  • Swords At Sunset: The Duke's Reward by astolat (Word count: 14,323). "This story started out as an entry in the Highlander Swords At Sunset contest, based on romance novel covers, though I finished it more than a year late. It's pure fluff and any historical accuracy is a coincidence of amazing proportions."[5] One rec describes it as "a historical piece where Duncan is a young pre-immortal, and Methos, the queen's favorite."[6]
  • Swords at Sunset by Attilla the HunEE. The story was a late entry into the "Swords at Sunset" contest. It's a Duncan/Methos romance AU set during the mid-seventeenth century and it was published in Revelations #1.[7] According to the publisher Cassandra has a small appearance.[8]

The Tempering Forge

The Tempering Forge, manip by Eng (1999).

The second contest was called "The Tempering Forge" and was based on a manip by Eng. There was a suggested interpretation of the illustration and participants were invited to use it or make up an interpretation of their own:

This takes place shortly after (Oh, okay, several centuries, but that's shortly for Methos) Methos leaves the Horsemen, vowing never to ride (horses or elsewise) again. But since his expertise at this point in his life is in the realm of horses and swords, he earns his way as a smith, ferrier, horse-shoer.
One night after a drunken revel and a dramatic gambling round, Methos finds himself the winner of a very badly behaved young stallion, and an even more badly behaved young Celt, taken in a recent raid.
The picture is of Methos trying to get his winnings down the road to his campsite out of the village, after the bar closes.[9]

The contest had 10 entries and the contest page gives detailed insight into the number of votes, percentages and the complicated process how the winners were determined[10] (For example: readers rated each story against itself, could vote on each story as they read it, or several at once, and come back later to read more and vote again). It also includes a large section with reader comments. The winner of this contest was entry #10, The Tempering Forge by MacGeorge.

  1. Tempting The Forge by Tessa Rae (Word count: 21,292). Summary from the Highlander Fiction archive: "A horse, a Scot and a grumpy Englishman. A hysterical historical romance, set in the 1700's." Author's notes: "AU. This story originally appeared on the Highlander Quill Club Swords at Sunset challenge in 1999." [4]
  2. The Tempering Forge by Fionnabair (Word count: ~10,000).
  3. The Tempering Forge by Peg B. (Word count: ~31,000).
  4. The Tempering Forge by Hitokiri Battousai (Word count: ~29,500). Story #4 was Rory's second entry to the Tempering Forge contest. ("All right! I might as well come clean about STORY NO. 4. "Hitokiri Battousai" is the famous moniker of my favorite anime character Kenshin Himura in Rurouni Kenshin. In the English dubbed version, it is translated as "Battousai the Slasher". This was the pseudonym chosen by yours truly AND a very close family member. STORY NO. 4 was conceptualized from beginning to end by this close relative IN TAGALOG. I simply translated it into English. Unfortunately, much of the humor was lost in the translation. Still, it won the "Too Funny Award" in the HLQC Forge Contest."[11])
  5. The Tempering Forge by Scipionis (Word count: ~9,400).
  6. James Eyrson by Laura Mason (Word count: ~12,200). Author's summary: "My first fanfiction, written for Eng's wonderful Highlander Quill Club writing contest, The Tempering Forge. The story really doesn't fit the contest guidelines, but it happened when I stared at her lovely illustration and thought about a beautiful black horse and a chance meeting between Mac and Methos."[12] The file size is given as 106K. Author's notes: "This story was an entry in the Quill Club's Tempering Forge Contest. Done with much love for and apologies to Charlotte Bronte. NC-17; if you are underage please go elsewhere to read." [5]
  7. The Ties That Bind by Rory (Word count: 26,000). Author's summary: "In this alternate universe story, Methos is haunted by a terrible sin he had committed in the past. What does this have to do with the appearance of the Horseman known as Death? My entry to HLQC's 'The Tempering Forge' contest."[13] Author's notes: "'The Ties That Bind', the REAL title of this tale, was practically a rush write. I never thought I would finish my solo entry in time after dilly-dallying too long on the collaboration. It was based on an old Filipino folktale my grandfather once told me. He was the ORIGINAL storyteller in my family. Aside from ending up in Third Place in the "Most Excellents Award" in the HLQC Forge Contest, the tale also won the "7P Dragon Award" for being the MOST CONTROVERSIAL among the entries. To those of you who will be reading STORY NO. 7 for the first time, aside from the usual m/m content, this story deals with the aftermath of child sexual abuse. If you are offended by controversial topics of this nature, then DO NOT READ IT!"[11] The story is available at the AO3 (see story link; warnings include Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Rape/Non-Con, Underage) and via Wayback on the old contest page.[6]
  8. The Tempering Forge by Jillun (Word count: ~32,000). Author's notes from the contest page: "For the benefit of the reader: This story is based around an incident presented in the episode "Prodigal Son". That was Martin Hyde's only episode, as Duncan took his head and he wasn't a very interesting villain. Hyde was a big game hunter. For him, the biggest game of all was a "seasoned Immortal". One of his favorite methods for hunting them down was to start with students, whom he harried until they fled to their teacher. He met Duncan MacLeod canon-wise in 1630, when he was actually hunting Connor. Failing to find Connor, he left Duncan for later. But in this story, he doesn't leave Duncan....Temptation is in the Eye of the Beholder (And BOY, What a Beholder!)"
  9. The Tempering Forge by Eng (Word count: ~10,800).
  10. The Tempering Forge by MacGeorge (Word count: 35,083). Summary from the Highlander Fiction archive: "An AU set in the Old South. A gracious old plantation has a new master, a lean young man with a smooth, wyly wisdom far beyond his years. There's an evil overseer, a dangerous, spirited black stallion, and most important of all, there's the handsome, idealistic blacksmith who refuses to be "owned" by anyone. All of which were inspired by Eng's fabulous artwork, which can be found here." Warnings include bondage and explicit violence. Written for and winner of the HL Quill Club's Schmarlequin Contest. [7]

Slashing the Bard

Slashing the Bard, manip by Eng (2000)

Slashing the Bard was the third and last contest and was once again based on a manip by Eng. This contest was based on Shakespeare's works and had 13 entries. The winner of this round was Lisa Weston's "As False As Cressid", entry #1.[14] The story made first place by vote totals.

  1. As False As Cressid by Lisa Weston.
  2. Much Ado About a Mid-summer's Tempest in a Twelth-Night: A Comedy Tonight! by Anne of Adour. The story is a Sentinel crossover. Author's notes from the contest page: "Master Shakespeare wrote about half the dialogue and I cribbed the general outline of the story and most of those from 'Much Ado About Nothing.' There are also touches of 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Everything else is the product of my or my alpha readers' demented and romantic imaginations."
  4. Falstaff's Folly by Laura Mason. Author's summary: "Methos wonders if MacLeod has been listening too well over the years. Inspired by the Quill Club's Slashing the Bard contest." Original title Falstaff's Distaff or Falstaff's Failure.
  5. Poisons by Laura Mason. Author's notes: "An entry in the Quill Club's "Slashing the Bard" contest that didn't win, that wasn't much loved, and that wasn't slashy enough for readers who cared enough to give feedback. Ah, well, you can't win 'em all. A little melodramatic (as if any of my stuff isn't!), written while in the woods without any hi-tech for a week." The original challenge entry had the subtitle The Tragedy of Romeo, Juliet, the Witch, and the Horseman.
  6. Sweater Boy Slashes the Bard
  7. THE TRAGEDY OF METHOS, PRINCE OF SEACOUVER by Triskell (5,487 words). Written as a play in 4 acts. Highlander/X-over with Hamlet - contest entry. [8]
  8. A Midsummer's Night Dream by Ed.
  9. Romeo and Juliet - Forever, My Love by Mary T. E.
  10. A Spot of Precipitation (The Tempest). Written as a play.
  12. A Comedy of Heirs by Polyanna.
  13. Coriolanus by Hellesgift. First place by vote averages.


  1. Swords at Sunset Contest Results (via Wayback), 1998. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  2. rac's Highlander Slash page, via Wayback. (Accessed 27 March 2010)
  3. Sylvia's Highlander Slash Recs. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  4. Rory V Pascual. Swords at Sunset, word count: 25,059 words, uploaded in 2005. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  5. fanfic by astolat, August 18, 1999. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  6. ScarletFBL's Miscellaneous Recs, Dec. 25, 2008. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  7. Revelations - An Adult Highlander Zine via Wayback. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  8. Fanzines with Cassandra Stories. (Accessed 23 March 2010)
  9. The Tempering Forge, 1999. (Accessed 27 March 2010)
  10. The Tempering Forge - Entries, 1999. (Accessed 27 March 2010)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Rory. The Forge Stories, via Wayback. (Accessed 27 March 2010)
  12. Laura Mason. Highlander Fiction. (Accessed 27 March 2010)
  13. roryheadmav. The Ties That Bind, AO3 story summary. (Accessed 27 March 2010)
  14. Bard Contest Results, 2000. (Accessed 27 March 2010)