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 .............._______
 ............./      /            THE LEGENDARY TIMES
 ............/      /         http://www.legendmud.org/
 .........../      /.....______.._____.....______.._____.......____
 ........../      /...../     /./     \.../     /./     \...../    \
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 ...../ Celebrating    / /./       /./     /./  /.../  /./       /
 ..../ our 10th year  /_/..\______/./_____/./__/.../__/./_______/ MUD
 .../________________/      running on         mud.legendmud.org 9999
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
 VOLUME ELEVEN, NUMBER FOURTEEN                   September 18, 2004
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

                         TABLE OF CONTENTS
                         The Editor's Note

                       NEWS, REPORTS, UPDATES
                         Calendar of Events
                 Announcing the Junior PK Tournament!
                           Recent Updates
              News From the Bricks and Rubble Department
                      Did You Know: FEEDBACK

                             LEGENDITES
                       Perigiene's Baby News
                An Invitation to Zita & Dak's Wedding
                             
                             CLAN NEWS
                    The Art of Making Life Happy

                             PK Front
                    Psylin says: PK is ALIVE!

                           The Beginning
                  Dino's AutoBiography - Chapter Four

                      A Word from Our Sponsor
___                                                               ___
\  |-------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                      The Editor's Note                      |__\
   '-------------------------------------------------------------'

Thanks to everyone who has responded so far to that quick little
survey I sent out last week. The mailing list program hadn't been
handling the bounced addresses very well, so I wanted to see how many
actual subscribers we had these days. I was also concerned about spam
filters preventing people from seeing it which is why I didn't send
it out as an official LT special issue from the LT account.

I got quite a few responses from people who say they don't play any
more, but like to keep up with what people here are doing. So send in
your news (even if you're not a currently active player, we want to
know what's up with you now too!) and know that there are people out
there who do appreciate hearing about the people as well as the
current crop of updates.

Many people also asked for more hours to be added into the day so
that they could either have time to play again, or write things to
submit. I think we all need more hours! One of the reasons we have a
suggested limit (that's a MAX and I've already written 189 words so
far... almost halfway there.)

You don't have to write an epic novel to capture people's attention.
Actually, you're MORE likely to make them skip reading what you've
taken the time to write if you do turning it into a 'scroller',
that's kinda the equivalent of a box office flop. =(

One of the things I'm always amazed by is how much livelier and
fuller feeling the earliest issues of the LT are compared to the
later ones. Especially when you consider that this issue will come
out at over 650 lines from header to footer and some of the more
entertaining ones from Volume 2 are less than 350 lines TOTAL. 

In those days, most of the RP pieces were about 3-4 paragraphs and
gave everyone a taste of what was going on in various character's
lives as they interacted with other characters _on the mud_. PK duels
were often described in 6 lines or less. Much of what we see lately
is more like fan-fiction that happens to share the same names as our
characters here rather than glimpses into what various characters
have been doing and experiencing as they play. Now don't get me
wrong, a little backstory isn't a bad thing... but don't live
off-stage so to speak. (411 words so far... scrolling yet?) BTW, the
Word from Our Sponsor is a very appropriate length for an rp piece and
anyone can submit this type of little blurb about their favorite spot!

Anyway, before I intimidate you with the length of my own prose here,
let me just finish up by saying thanks again to those of you who send
in your responses and encourage everyone else to do so. We're already
trying to incorporate some of the feedback here in the LT, and in the
game as well.

Have a great week,

-Kaige
___                                                               ___
\  |-------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                LegendMUD Calendar of Events                 |__\
   '-------------------------------------------------------------'
       [All times are system time unless otherwise specified]

              SEPTEMBER                      OCTOBER
         Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa          Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                   1  2  3  4                          1  2
          5  6  7  8  9 10 11           3  4  5  6  7  8  9
         12 13 14 15 16 17 18          10 11 12 13 14 15 16
         19 20 21 22 23 24 25          17 18 19 20 21 22 23
         26 27 28 29 30                24 25 26 27 28 29 30
                                       31

Saturday,   September 18th,    3:00 pm    Trivia Challenge Showdown
Sunday,     September 19th,    7:00 pm    Junior PK Tourney 
                                             (levels 15-34)
Wednesday,  September 22nd,   2pm-10pm    PK BattleZone 
                                             (HELP BATTLEZONE
                                              online for more info)
Thursday,   September 23rd,    7:30 pm    Q&A in the OOC Auditorium
Tuesday,    September 28th,    8:00 pm    Autumn Casino
Wednesday,  September 29th,   2pm-10pm    PK BattleZone 
Thursday,   September 30th,    7:30 pm    Q&A in the OOC Auditorium

Via iCal:     webcal://icalx.com/public/kaige/LegendMUD32Events.ics
Any browser:  www.icalx.com/html/kaige/day.php?cal=LegendMUD32Events
___                                                               ___
\  |-------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|             Announcing the Junior PK Tournament!            |__\
   '-------------------------------------------------------------'

                    Sunday, September 19th
                          7:00 pm

Curious about PK but not sure you want to commit your character to
it?

Wondering how your current character project would stack up against
other peoples?

Looking to test yourself against opponents much smarter than what
mobs can dish out?

Ready for some fun and practice in an environment which won't impact
your character growth in the live Mud?

Come to the Junior PK Tournament, Sunday, September 19th, at 7pm!

Rules
-=-=-=-
- We'll separate people into two divisions if we have enough
  competitors: levels 15-24 and levels 25-34 -- you can enter one
  character in each division
- Bring what you need for 1 fight, you'll be restored to your
  original state between fights
- No cure crit scrolls
- No invis
___                                                               ___
\  |-------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                       Recent Updates                        |__\
   '-------------------------------------------------------------'

    /\                      CODE UPDATES
   /  \     
  /    \    GENERAL CHANGES
 /_    _\     o Polytheistic set of chant messages added --  praying
   |  |         to gods
   |  |     
   |  |     BUG FIXES
   |__|       o Crashing bugs fixed.
    /\      
   /  \     TYPO FIXES
  /    \      o Capitalization fix in nature chant message.
 /_    _\     o Mood fixes for approving, bored, depressed, relaxed,
   |  |         relieved, reluctant repectful and unhappy.
   |  |       o Social fixes: tickle
   |  |     
   |__|     
    /\                    HELPFILE UPDATES
   /  \     
  /    \    There were no helpfiles updated this past week.
 /_    _\   
   |  |     
   |  |                     AREA UPDATES
   |  |     
   |__|     If you want to suggest specific improvements or new
    /\      additions to existing areas please don't hesitate to
   /  \     submit them with the idea/bug/typo commands or drop
  /    \    mudmail to the builder currently responsible for the area
 /_    _\   (check AREAINFO to find out!).
   |  |     
   |  |     Thanks to everyone that submitted bug/typo/idea reports!
   |  |     
   |__|     1802 ALASKA
    /\           Aleut men shouldnt be as buggy. Various bug/typo
   /  \          fixes.
  /    \    
 /_    _\   1930'S PITTSBURGH
   |  |          Extra, extra, read all about it! Paperboys now have
   |  |          newspapers!  
   |  |       
   |__|     CELTIC IRELAND  
    /\           Fix for a teacher teaching a skill when you did not  
   /  \          have all the pre-requisites. Various bug/typo fixes.  
  /    \      
 /_    _\   GYPSY CARNIVAL
   |  |          New prizes! An annoying bug with Thomas Johnson not
   |  |          knowing when to charge people for entering -- and
   |  |          where -- has been fixed. The musicians now play more
   |__|          varieties of music! A certain young boxer is no
    /\           longer showing you everything hes got cos now he
   /  \          actually wear shorts (though some may mourn this).
  /    \         Annie Oakley has been tweaked a bit, be careful. Two
 /_    _\        new mobs -- a sneaky thief whom everyone will love
   |  |          to hate, and a mime artist who is more than
   |  |          bordering on the whacky. Some spam reduction, some
   |  |          new room and mob acts. Disguises added.
   |__|     
    /\      HOSPITALLER MALTA
   /  \          Spam reduction. Various bug/typo fixes.
  /    \    
 /_    _\   LAND OF SHADOWS
   |  |          New whois added.
   |  |     
   |  |     OOC
   |__|          Paul is no longer offering reimbursals for backstab
    /\           and chant (and words for non-Arabian mages). Phil
   /  \          now carries a couple new varieties of baked goods.
  /    \    
 /_    _\   SAN FRANCISCO
   |  |          Some mobs are more responsive to socials. Fixes some
   |  |          problems with the stove and oven in the kitchen.
   |  |          Some spam control. Various bug/typo fixes.
   |__|     
    /\      SHERWOOD
   /  \          Fix for a teacher teaching a skill when you did not
  /    \         have all the pre-requisites.
 /_    _\   
   |  |     ANCIENT ANDES, ARABIAN NIGHTS, AZTECS, BEOWULF, FRENCH
   |  |     INDIAN WAR, GENERIC ANIMALS, KLEINSTADT, MISC, OOC,
   |  |     SALEM, TORTUGA, WW1 SOMME
   |__|          Various bug/typo fixes.
    /\      
   /  \                    In Progress Area Updates
  /    \    
 /_    _\   This section is intended to share what builders are 
   |  |     working on behind the scenes. It is not a perfect record
   |  |     of progress as all builders do not commit updates every 
   |  |     week. Badgering builders about their progress will get 
   |__|     you flogged.
    /\      
   /  \             Firefly       Japan
  /    \            Kae           Larderello (Dante's Inferno)
 /_    _\           Kaige         1950's Americana
   |  |             Kaige         Port of London
   |  |             Nestor        Ancient Carthage
   |  |             Rufus         SL Expansion
   |__|     
___                                                               ___
\  |-------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|    News From the Bricks and Rubble Department -- by Kae     |__\
   '-------------------------------------------------------------'
         ____         
      .-" +' "-.      The big issue in the Building department this
     /.'.'A_'*`.\     month is obviously the two new areas that are
    |:.*'/\-\. ':|    just around the corner. Everyone wants to see
    |:.'.||"|.'*:|    my Dante's Inferno and Nestor's Carthage
     \:~^~^~^~^:/     installed! It doesn't take a genius to realize
      /`-....-'\      that new areas are in high demand, seeing as
      /          \    that we haven't had any for years -- not
     `-.,____,.-'     counting updates of existing areas. Mind you,
                      updates are sometimes very expansive, and you
should definitely not discard them as nothing new' -- There are
still items and quests in FIWar that have been added but still not
discovered by most people. And... Well, you catch my drift.

The good news this time is that we have an installation date for
Dante's Inferno now. It will happen on October 2, this year. Yes,
it's true. And once Hell is cleared from the builder to-do list,
Carthage is bound to follow within short time, and certain rumors
seem to mention the SL Expansion's usefulness as a Christmas present.
The Inferno area will attach to medieval Europe. I'm not going to say
much more than that -- well, I might add that Dante was an Italian.
So don't go looking for the old entry point in Germany, folks.

Other areas are making nice progress as well, although their install
dates are still in the great dark expanses of to come'. Firefly has
coerced, I mean, convinced Kaige to write her a few new exciting mob
acts for Japan and the bits I've seen look extremely promising.
That's going to be a very beautiful area, with some new and
challenging ways to solve problems we didn't even know we had! Kaige
is still finding a few hours here and there to work on El Dorado, the
addition to the South American continent, which is long overdue. In
fact, anything on that continent is long overdue. Just as anything on
the African continent is way overdue. Take a hint, you out there who
dream of being builders.

In terms of maintenance, some areas have seen a lot of attention
lately.

The Gypsy Carnival has changed a lot in some places, and I would love
any feedback on whether mobs are too hard or too easy for their exp,
and any other features you'd like added. Two new mobs have been added
as well as other exciting things that you yet have to discover. Older
items have been updated in the Savanna, the Pittsburgh baseball game
has had an overhaul and the days of being stuck at first base should
be over and Somme has gained new features and a new quest! And San
Francisco has seen a major overhaul of many annoying little bugs and
'features' as well as new mobs and new rooms,

In Medieval,  Otto in Kleinstadt has a new service, Malta has seen a
drastic cut in "kif inti spam" as requested by players, and there is
a new quest in the Crusades as well as in Sherwood. Mobs in Salem and
Boston have been tweaked a little so be sure to note whether mobs are
too hard or too easy for their exp there too, and the areas have in
general seen some cleanup.

Egypt has been getting a good amount of attention recently, with some
improvements in mob response, dreams, and general cleanup. Dreams
were added to the Ancient Seas area, and some old bugs were fixes.
And in Arabia, look for a new quest!

Mobs all over the planet have learned to help you make your chant
messages more appropriate to your role-play, too. The popular Kiera
bags have become yet more colorful and varied.

You can check out the progress of all upcoming areas on the builder
board in OOC any time, as well as post questions or feedback to
builders and areas.

Don't forget the bug, idea, and typo channels, either! If a mob could
use a different chant style, submit an idea report. If recent tweaks
make a mob too hard or too easy, note it on the bug channel. And as
always, report that never-ending supply of typos.

May you never forget to check your exits and may your water skin
never be dry.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
   _____    
  /  _  \   DID YOU KNOW: Tips and tricks and little-used features
 /__/ \  \  
      /  /  Did you know... there is a quick and easy method to 
     /  /   send your thoughts to the immortal staff right at your
    /__/    fingertips?
    __      
   /  \     The FEEDBACK command lets you enter a comment or
   \__/     question into a file which is read regularly by the
   _____    staff. Any question you ask will be addressed live by a
  /  _  \   panel of immortals at the next Q&A session -- and logs of
 /__/ \  \  these sessions are also made available on the web. So if
      /  /  you think of a question mid-week, don't forget it by 
     /  /   Thursday, drop it in! All non-question style feedback 
    /__/    will be passed to the appropriate staff members. Q&A 
    __      meets Thursdays at 7:30 system time in the OOC Auditorium.
   /  \     (type EVENTS online to double-check the schedule, and see 
   \__/     other upcoming events).
___                                                               ___
\  |-------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|  LEGENDITES: Information Regarding the People of Our World  |__\
   '-------------------------------------------------------------'

                       Perigiene's Baby News

Perigriene's player and his rl girlfriend are pleased to share the
news of the birth of their daughter. She was born on August 7th, at
2:48 pm and weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces. Her name is Nyleah.

             =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

               -----<----<---<@       @>--->---->-----

                              Zita & Dak
                    Invite you to share in the joy
                  And celebration of their marriage
                  On Sunday, the 19th of September
                         At 4pm System time.
                   The Silver Branch Inn Reception

                       Hoping to see you there!

               -----<----<---<@       @>--->---->-----

             =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Pay a visit to www.prodigalstranger.dk today to find the unofficial
LegendMUD web discussion forum! This is the perfect place to mull
over ideas, answer polls, swap opinions, and get to know people a
little better. Anything Legend-themed goes, as long as the rules for
in-game boards are kept (no quest walkthroughs, stat lists, etc.)

  ___                                                          ___ 
  \  |--------------------------------------------------------|  /
  /__|                     Clan News                          |__\
     '--------------------------------------------------------'

                  The Art of Making Life Happy

The Church of Epicurean Enlightenment opened its doors on September
17th, ladies and gentlemen. But what does this mean to you? Well,
each candidate will, of course, find different truths, uncover unique
ideas as to what makes their life happy. So I cannot tell you what it
will mean to you. I can present to you our philosophy. The philosophy
of Epicurus. The Truth.

The purpose of life, so says the Great one, is personal happiness.
Not happiness in the sense of having done something good...the
purpose is not the action which leads to pleasure, but pleasure
itself. As a human, the actions you take have reactions. Some actions
lead to pain. Others lead to pleasure. It is a system of punishment
and reward. So the wise man would, of course, wish reward more than
punishment. Sensuous pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, is really the
only pleasure attainable in this life. It is the reward. And so we
should seek pleasure from every action.

               'What of death?' you might ask. 
               
      Fear not, candidate...for the Great One has spoken:

'To think that death is nothing to us; for all good and evil is in
feeling;   now death is the privation of feeling. Hence, the right
knowledge that death is nothing to us makes us enjoy what there is in
this life, not adding to it an indefinite duration, but eradicating
the desire of immortality.'

What does this mean? Well...it means that the wise man, realizing
that there is nothing in death, will seek pleasure in this life. For
it is the only pleasure he shall know.

I know what you are thinking ladies and gentlemen...so does this mean
you hedonists do nothing but drink until drunk, eat until stuffed,
and dance until dizzy? The answer is no. For all of these bring about
pain, the bane of our very existence. The drunk is hungover, the
gorged with aching belly, the fatigued dancer with aching muscles.
No. We drink until pleasant. Eat until full. And dance until
finished. But the drink, the food, and the dance can be only the most
pleasurable.

Ataraxia, ladies and gentlemen. 'Perfect peace of mind, or calmness.'
We seek optimal, enduring pleasure.

I will leave you with this, those who will cast stones:

'If the things that produce the pleasures of profligate men really
freed them from fears of the mind concerning celestial and
atmospheric phenomena, the fear of death, and the fear of pain; if,
further, they taught them to limit their desires, we should never
have any fault to find with such persons, for they would then be
filled with pleasures from every source and would never have pain of
body or mind, which is what is bad.'

     Those seekers who seek shall be sought by the soughters.

                    We'll see you in Church.

             =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

There are currently 20 RP clans and 3 PK clans. This leaves open
slots for nine (9) more clans to form. For more information, read
HELP CLAN and see the clan information list via the CLANS command
while logged into the game. For a basic handbook and reference guide
for players interested in starting and running a clan, we recommend
that before you even type FORM, you visit:
             http://www.legendmud.org/Reference/gm.html.
  ___                                                          ___ 
  \  |--------------------------------------------------------|  /
  /__|                     PK Front                           |__\
     '--------------------------------------------------------'

                   Psylin says: Pk is ALIVE!

In the Past few Days i Have Noticed a dramatic jump in PKE activity.

The Mud has begun to start to PK a lot more I have noticed Permaings,
Clans Standing up for clanmates, group attacks, and just a lot more
hostile interaction with players PK related.  I find PK makes the
game terribly exciting.  The threat of never knowing when or where
you'll be jumped is a thrill and being jumped and killing the person
gives you a great feeling of satisfaction, there is nothing like the
feeling that you get when you realize you have killed some one
despite them having the upper hand. So with that I say to all the
players of Legend Be PK and have a little fun by destroying some one's
character....ya know if you're into that kind of thing... *grin*

             =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

If you witness or commit any glorious or nefarious deeds, send a
short report to us at the LT. If you are looking for a fight,
recruiting, or anything else related to PKill (not necessarily PK
Clan related), send it in! It's free AND you'll get a prize token! Be
a celebrity, the envy of all your friends! Tick off your enemies or
just tell your side of the story! Get YOUR name up in lights! We
can't report it if you don't tell us!
              _______________________
             /                       \
        o O | Wonder what folks are   |
  `\|||/    | doing over at LegendMUD?|
   (o o)     \_______________________/
ooO_(_)_Ooo__________________________________________________________
_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|___
__|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|

                         The Beginning

Imagine a night that is beyond dark, and with rain coming down in
sheets. This was what the night was like when young Dak and his
family were on thier way home from a wedding reception in the local
inn. The only light that he could see be was that of his fathers
lantern, and the occasional crack of lightning. They did not live
very far away from the inn, but tonight it seemed to be taking extra
long to get there. He had set all his books out the night before in
order to get a jump start on his studies in the medical ways, the
field that his parents had set him in. He was halfway through
thinking about what he was gonna do when he got home when a sudden
crack of lightning revealed the most evil man Dak had ever laid eyes
on. This man smiled a sinister smile and just looked at the small
family that was Dak, his father, and his mother. His father knew
instantly what this man planned to do and dived towards him in a
effort to save his family.

'RUN!', he yelled as the light he had been carrying went out as he
beat the sneaky man with it.

'Get them, Snake!', the man on the ground yelled as another man
leaped out of the shadows and grabbed Dak's mother.

'RUN DAK... RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND DON'T LOOK BACK!', his mother
screamed as she tried franticly to break free of her assailant.

Dak didn't have to be told twice, after all, his parents were all
grown up and could protect themselves. As he was running through the
darkness he heard something that was to haunt him all his life... two
gunshots rage out along the streets and above all other noise, he
heard his mother scream in a pain that he never wanted to know. He
ran until he found a suitable place to hide and waited there until
daylight. During the night he listened to the evil men looking for
him until the police showed up and they left uttering these words:

'Snake and Bert McCloud strike again', and the snickered as the
disappeared into the blackness.

That night seemed to last forever for little Dak. He just lay there
in his hiding spot, afraid to move, afraid to talk, and with a
burning hatred inside of him for those men who had just killed his
parents.

Morning came in what seemed like an eternity for the small boy who
had not slept for fear that those men would return to kill him. With
his mother and father dead, Dak felt as if he had nothing to live
for, and his hatred for the two men that took them away from him was
growing with every second that they were not there. That day he put
aside the medical books he was reading and picked up a sword... he
was going to kill those men, or die trying!

To Be Continued...

             =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

                Dino's Autobiography - Chapter Four

I would usually expect to walk into the kitchen and see my father
sitting at the table, reading and sipping at his drink but today was
different. As I trotted into the kitchen, I noticed somebody I didn't
really know sitting next to my father. A young woman around my
father's age, long silky blond hair, blue eyes, nice figure, almost
looks like I looked when I was younger. She smiled at me.

'Hello, my dear Dino,' She said quietly to me. I eyed her
suspiciously.

'Dino,' My father stood up and looked down at me, 'This is your
mother.' He smiled and sat down. 'Her name is Gilly.' I was very
surprised.

'Oh,' I said happily, 'You met a new lady friend.' I chuckled quietly
to myself and beamed at Gilly.

'No, she is your real mother,' Jaenrik stated. I glanced at her again
and she was still smiling.

'My real mother?' I said to Jaenrik and turned to her. 'Where have
you been for the last six years?' I questioned her.

'Poor Dino,' she mumbled to herself 'I was taken away when you were
but I doubt that you remember.' Gilly turned to Jaenrik and went on.
'When you were taken away, your father and I put up a huge fight
about getting you back. A huge fight. Townspeople and others thought
I would cause trouble trying to get you back so I was also taken away
and locked up somewhere to keep out of trouble.' She paused to take a
breath and went on. 'Consider it kidnapping or anything else you
wish, I don't know. I was let out a few days ago when the guards
found out that you were back in town but after so long, it took me a
while to remember where the house was and to assure myself that it
was the one.' We continued to talk about the past six years. I found
out or was reminded that my mother's full name was Gillyanne, soft G
sound like in Julie. Pretty name. The evening went on. We sat in the
kitchen and talked for some time, moved onto the family room after a
while. Around midnight, we all decided to go to sleep. I guessed that
Jaenrik was used to sleeping alone and tonight, he had to sleep on
the couch and give his room to Gilly. The other room went to me. All
three of us dreamed pleasant dreams due to my mother's return. We
were happy. Once morning came, it seemed exactly like before. First
you would wake up from the delicious smell of breakfast coming from
the kitchen. Then you would go have breakfast and maybe help clean up
afterwards. And then until lunch, you would play outside under the
sun, looking for berries, mushrooms, and staring at little animals
scurrying through the grass. 

All of this went as planned except for the picking berries and
looking at animals part. Instead, I, being 'Miss Independent', went
into town for the morning. It was more interesting in town. Instead
of picking berries; you could buy them and instead of staring at
animals; you could stare at the stray cats roaming the streets. I
made a couple of turns onto little streets and finally got to a
street I wasn't familiar with. It was a rundown street; vacant I
could tell. Old buildings stood side to side along it and trash piled
up around them. Very small spaces for more trash were between the
buildings. Almost all of the apartments' windows were either broken
or blocked by a piece of wood. Doors were missing from entrances.
Stray cats and rats chased each other along this street. Filthy. It
looked like nobody has set foot on this street since the day this
town was built. I walked beside the houses, looking over my shoulder
to check if there were no rats following me. After a while of walking
on the street that looked like it was never ending, a voice called
out to me from the space between two buildings.

'Dino.' He said, 'They're coming.'

                     -End of Chapter Four-

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                    A Word from Our Sponsor: 
         Kitty Flannigan, Food Critic, Pittsburgh Press

                      Maria's Pizzaria

The doughy smell of freshly-baked pizza taunted my nose as I entered
the small building. A few tables were set up in front of the large
picture window that used the street as its backdrop. A small counter
blocked the ovens against the back wall and a short, balding Italian
man stood there in food-covered clothing. 'Uh oh, this doesn't bode
well,' I thought to myself, carefully hiking up my slinky dress and
perching upon a red leather stool at the counter, which squeaked.

As I removed my stylish purple hat with the dark green feather and
set it on the counter, Anthony came over and growled, 'Yah? What kind
do you want?' as he pointed to the menu hanging on the wall.

I thought, 'Here is a man that works too many hours of the day'. His
eyes were tired-looking, and you could see in his face that he would
rather be anywhere but behind the counter. Five points off for
general hygiene and job enthusiasm.

The greasy and dusty menu on the wall didn't offer much hope either
for an outstanding culinary experience. Minus 2 points for not
dusting. You can only get plain, pepperoni or extra cheese, and all
for five dollars. I ordered the pepperoni, wishing they had something
with some vegetables or maybe a nice Italian sausage...

With an astonishing burst of energy, Anthony grabbed a ball of dough
from the ice box and slammed it down on the counter next to the
ovens. He flattened the dough, pounding it with his fists, and then
tossed it high into the air with a circular motion, caught it and
repeated the process several times. Plus 10 points for showmanship.

He definitely had a flair for turning the soft, pliant dough as he
worked, spreading sauce and sprinkling just the right amount of
cheese and pepperoni onto the pie. The inside of the oven gleamed
with a pristine orange glow, surely too hot and fast an oven -- my
pizza would surely burn! Minus 10 points for kitchen know-how.

After just a few minutes, Anthony pulled the finished pizza from the
oven and put it on the counter and chopped it into slices. As I took
the pan from the counter and then a slice from the pan, the aroma of
oregano, tomato sauce, pepperoni and fresh-baked dough overwhelmed
me. Simply looking at the pizza, I could see nothing special, but
oh... once I sank my teeth into the thick doughy crust and tasted the
perfect blend of seasonings in the sauce and the perfect marriage of
cheese and pepperoni, I was transported to another level of delight.

I can say I will certainly overlook a few spatters of sauce and
grease and be returning to this little hole-in-the-wall joint many
times in the near future. Maybe I'll see you there.  *****/5 stars.

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