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VOLUME EIGHT, NUMBER NINETEEN                             September 4, 2001 
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                           TABLE OF CONTENTS
                       A Note From the Implementor

                          NEWS, REPORTS, UPDATES 
                              Kae's Korner
                             Recent Updates
                              Q & A Topics
                       Horoscopes by Mme. Decara

                              LEGENDITES
                            Words Unspoken
                          Arctic Overcoming
                           Benaiah's Story
                              Reunion

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

A Note from the Implementor....

Here we are at the end of the dog days of August and getting ready to start
September.  Hot, humid, icky. At least around here. Our Summer Odyssey has
taken us from ancient times clear through to the industrial era. We may not
have gotten as much as we wanted done, but just about every installed area
file had something done to it this summer! We hope you've enjoyed the journey
and the area updates each month. So, keep those ideas coming on how to
improve specific mobs/quests/areas!

As September begins, classes are starting up again and new players are going
to be finding their way to our virtual doorstep. So one of the other things
we've also tried to focus on this summer is the newbie experience.  The new
hometown clothing, the changes to the character creation process and the
helpful messages in hometowns like Arabia are all part of an effort to make
new characters feel at home and start them out on the right foot.

However, established players are the best guides for any new player on
learning not just how to play the game themselves, but to introduce them to
the LegendMUD community. So to help maintain the kind of atmosphere you want
to play in, everyone has to do their share of living up to their expectations
of others.

-Kaige

___                                                                        ___
\  |----------------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|  News, Reports, and Updates!                                         |__\
   '----------------------------------------------------------------------'

Kae's Korner: You mean you haven't done it with spaghetti and a toothbrush?!

It's kind of strange. You zap across a few TV stations and hear language used
in common speech that would net you instant warnings on LegendMUD.  Swear
words and slang terms that most people view to be perfectly harmless suddenly
become criminal. It's no wonder that sometimes, you ask why we're so
ridiculously strict.

Parents often turn on content advisor functions in web browsers that their
children use -- and there are similar filters for television sets. Why?
Because there is material that they don't want their children exposed to.
When I was five years old I got mad that I was told to leave the living room
every time the news were on TV. One evening I hid in the garden outside and
watched through the window. I'll never forget the images of dying and dead
Vietnamese children. I was about the same age when I found a page from a porn
magazine in the street. I didn't understand much of it, but I do remember the
patronizing, degrading tone of the narrative of this 'sex kitten short
story'.  These two women kissing each other in the most strange of places
were sluts, bad women, naughty.

If I had had these experiences with my parents, they might have explained
them to me. They would have told me that Vietnam was really far away, and
that pulp porn fiction had about as much resemblance to the real sex life of
the 1976 adult woman as did, say, toothbrushes and spaghetti. Maybe a few
people have a thing for toothbrushes and spaghetti, but the majority don't
connect them with sex.

But there's more to the LegendMUD language rules than the traumatic childhood
experiences of the rule-makers. Under U.S. law, we are required to enforce
moderation of adult content. That, or enforce that players are 18 years old.
Not only would this make character creation a lot more bothersome -- please
fill out this form, and have a credit card ready to verify your age -- it
would turn away most international players, and the great part of the player
base that consists of minors.

Sure, any reasonably bright kid can find pictures of naked breasts and more
exotic items on the Internet within minutes. That's between the webmasters of
those sites and the U.S. government. Just as sexually explicit language and
swearing is between us and the U.S. government. The problem is, we're a lot
easier to nail than any number of more or less unidentifiable Yahoo!  webpage
owners.

The choice is really simple: Either we moderate language, or we restrict
ourselves to an exclusive little group of older, American players who can sit
and cuss at each other all they like.

I'm often asked whether a word or a slang term is legal or not. This is
apparently something that a lot of people have trouble figuring out.
Strange, that, because the moderation laws that require us to be PG13
(viewable age 13 and up, some violence, little or no erotica), also apply to
a lot of your favorite TV shows. If they can say this on Star Trek or Disney,
most likely you can say it on LegendMUD.

By the way -- coming up with insults that don't violate PG13 is a challenge
to your creativity. Not only will you sound less illiterate, you'll probably
find that they have a lot more humorous effect.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
            
    /\                          RECENT UPDATES
   /  \   
  /    \                         CODE UPDATES
 /_    _\   
   |  |     Bug Fixes
   |  |      o help file banners no longer accidentally cut short
   |  |      o magic sink no longer works if the spell it is sinking
   |__|        failed in the first place
    /\       o prestige gain when you kill something fixed (it was way too
   /  \        high)
  /    \     o max damage in armslore with bows and guns is now correct
 /_    _\    o armslore now says 'armslore what?' if typed without an
   |  |        argument
   |  |      o crummy weapons no longer heal people when thrown
   |  |      o smell social no longer uses "sniff"
   |__|      o rofl is no longer laughing at someone
    /\       o restless mood now means restless instead of tired
   /  \      o poofing a doppel makes it drop it's gold now as well
  /    \     o douse self no longer gives two messages to the douser
 /_    _\    o corpses of doppels can no longer be animated
   |  |     
   |  |     Misc Changes
   |  |      o new say alts: hiss and boast
   |__|      o new socials: spin and gauntlet
    /\       o new moods: distraught, diabolical, and destructive
   /  \      o You will still be able to calm while raging. However, you
  /    \       won't be able to do calm <opponent> to end combat -- you'll
 /_    _\      need to make sure you're calmed down to normal and then
   |  |        calm down again to end combat. That is, calm should now
   |  |        work as expected.
   |  |      o Homunculi now, on average, have less hp, more move, and can
   |__|        carry more. Homunculi stats are now based on spirit/mind
    /\       o When studying a spellbook it now tells you when you max out
   /  \        your spell level
  /    \     o mailing a note to multiple people now prepends a cc line to
 /_    _\      the message
   |  |      o doors should no longer say that they're locking when
   |  |        they're already locked
   |  |      o a few misc cosmetic changes to character generation
   |__|      o webpages now works for websites command
    /\       o view s|m <social|mood> to see what the social/mood will
   /  \        look like -- also shown in HELP <social> and HELP <mood>
  /    \    
 /_    _\                     HELP FILE UPDATES
   |  |     
   |  |     The following helpfiles were recently added or updated!
   |  |     
   |__|     General Info
    /\      ------------
   /  \       bleeding, cheat, etiquette, hands , restring, rules,
  /    \      threats, wimpy
 /_    _\   
   |  |     Thank you to all the players & imms who assisted in this update!
   |  |     
   |  |     
   |__|                          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!) And don't limit ideas to just these three months!
   |  |     
   |__|                         Summer Odyssey
    /\                      Industrial Era Updates
   /  \     
  /    \    1930'S PITTSBURGH
 /_    _\     The conductor should be a little more difficult to solo now.
   |  |     AFRICAN SAVANNA
   |  |       All mobs converted to inheritance, so report anything that
   |  |       seems TOO unusual for a mob that considers that way. The
   |__|       kudu, eland, laibon, wildebeest, moran, lion (he has a new
    /\        fight strategy), and the elephant have been altered so be
   /  \       VERY careful fighting them. Various bugs and typos fixed.
  /    \    BENGAL
 /_    _\     Fixed the weaponeer's teaching acts. Also gives him a weapon
   |  |       and some skills he should know anyway, so be careful!.
   |  |     PARIS OPERA HOUSE
   |  |       The Mayor and his bodyguard should work better as a team, be
   |__|       careful! Various typos fixed.
    /\      PORT OF LONDON
   /  \       Thanks to Chaykin's idea for dressing new characters in more
  /    \      hometown specific costumes, new characters created here
 /_    _\     should feel more at home. The captain who sails to Bengal
   |  |       will return now. The nurse shouldn't tell you you dropped
   |  |       something when you put it in a container now. Mobs dressed.
   |  |     SAN FRANCISCO
   |__|       If Mrs. O'leary catches you swearing and she's not in the
    /\        inn she gets walks back instead of pointing to the rules.
   /  \     SOUTH SEAS
  /    \      Various bugs fixed. New item, be careful trying to get it!
 /_    _\   GYSPY CARNIVAL, MELBOURNE, WWI SOMME and WWII NORTH AFRICA
   |  |       Various places where objects were strung by mobs fixed so
   |  |       they were stringing the proper object not most recent one
   |  |       loaded in the game. This was also done on the areas
   |__|       mentioned above if found there.
    /\      
   /  \                         Other Area Updates
  /    \    
 /_    _\   1802 ALASKA
   |  |       Modifies the doors in the Inuit camp so the inhabitants will
   |  |       hopefully rush correctly. You shouldn't get snowblind if
   |  |       you're not awake. Most importantly, players should be a bit
   |__|       more cautious around Tlingit men as they don't act quite the
    /\        same as before. Various bugs fixed.
   /  \     ANASAZI AMERICA
  /    \      Further fixes on trader hoarding pots and melons and should
 /_    _\     stop hoarding of half-finished blankets too. Various typos.
   |  |     ARABIAN NIGHTS
   |  |       The small, round shield has been changed in the database,
   |  |       oblong one also added. On Aug 31st, 2001 (2 weeks from
   |__|       today) any left in pfiles or houses will be changed to match
    /\        that. So if you have one, go check out the changes and
   /  \       decide if you want to keep it or ditch it before then.
  /    \    BEOWULF
 /_    _\     The farmwife should be a little more clear that she's
   |  |       expecting you to talk to her directly.
   |  |     CELTIC IRELAND
   |  |       Some internal changes to the Gate Guard.
   |__|     HOSPITALLER MALTA
    /\        Minor tweaks.
   /  \     LEGENDS OF THE PAST
  /    \      Deathstalker should no longer prevent the use of skills on
 /_    _\     anyone but himself. May still be some problems if he's been
   |  |       blinded until there's a code fix for that.
   |  |     PIRATE CARIBBEAN
   |  |       Puts some water in the Harbor, but not so you'll drown.
   |__|     SHERWOOD
    /\        Richard and Thomas tweaked slightly, be careful fighting
   /  \       them. Bunnies should be a bit more plentiful.
  /    \    VIKING SCANDINAVIA
 /_    _\     Have to wait for Egil to return mead in order to trans now.
   |  |     THE OOC
   |  |       Updates to the prize machine.
   |  |     GENERIC MOBS
   |__|       Puppies are no longer true scavengers and puppies and
    /\        kittens will go poof if they're in the game too long.
   /  \     ROMAN BRITAIN, CRUSADES, ANCIENT EGYPT, FRENCH & INDIAN WAR,
  /    \    ANCIENT INDIA LEGENDS OF THE PAST, HOSPITALLER MALTA, ANCIENT
 /_    _\   NAZCA, 17TH CENTURY SALEM, BOSTON MASS, TRANSYLVANIA, TUDOR
   |  |     ENGLAND, and VICEROYAL PERU
   |  |       Objects strung by mobs fixed so they were stringing correct
   |  |       object not just the most recent one. This was also done on
   |__|       the areas mentioned above if found.
    /\      ANASAZI AMERICA, BLACK FOREST, CELTIC IRELAND, PICTISH COUNTRY
   /  \     and SAINT DENIS ABBEY
  /    \      Various typos fixed.
 /_    _\   
   |  |     Elementals and greater elementals now have logical resistances
   |  |     (normal) and immunities (greater). Look for more changes to
   |  |     come with charms soon!
   |__|     
    /\      If you find any bugs/typos or have ideas for new items, mob
   /  \     interactions, quest hints or anything else for any of the
  /    \    areas, please make use of the bug/idea/typo channels.
 /_    _\   
   |  |                      In Progress Area Updates
   |  |     
   |  |     This section is intended to let everyone know what builders
   |__|     are working on behind the scenes. It is not a perfect record
    /\      of progress as all builders will not make an update every
   /  \     week. Players who badger builders about progress or a
  /    \    perceived lack thereof will be flogged. Remember, the longer
 /_    _\   spent on questions, the longer the project takes to complete.
   |  |     
   |  |           Kae          Larderello (Dante's Inferno)
   |  |           LadyAce      Kleinstadt (Update)
   |__|           Straussy     R.M.S. Titanic

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
  _______   ____    _______
 /  ___  \ / __ \  /  ___  \  Logs of Q&A sessions are available on the
 | /   \ | \ \/ /  | /   \ |  web pages for those who are unable to attend
 | |   | |  \  /   | \___/ |  or had to leave early. The most recent ones
 | |   | |  /  \/\ |  ___  |  are listed on the sitemap page or you can
 | | /\| | / /\  / | /   \ |  get a complete list on the Q&A index page
 | \_\ \ | \ \/  \ | \   / |  at the url below.
  \___\/_/  \__/\/ \_/   \_|
 
       http://www.legendmud.org/Community/lectures/QandA/QA_index.html
  
                               RECENT TOPICS
 
 o Gradual Perm Affects              o Magic Sink & Casts on Self
 o Pets/Shopkeepers/Hirelings        o More Levels of Skill Abilities
 o Is 35-50 Supposed to be Tedious?  o Resists and Balancing Them
 o Any Restrictions on Skill Tools?  o Events: Pk Tourney & LvlTo5
 o Repop & Problems in Southside PD  o Elementals based on Spi/Mind too?
 o Guests: What they're for          o A Sing/Song Lyrics Channel?
 o Do Warnings Expire?               o Explore XP Rooms
 o Change and Constructive Criticism o Change to Magic Roots
 o Created Items                     o Skill Trees & Prior Stuff
 o Code Update?                      o New Skills/Spells Coming?
 o Polearms                          o Homunculi/Mages/Charmies/Etc
 o Evaporating Changes               o Charmies & Xp Split

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

                      .+'''+.           .+'''+.
                     Horoscopes by Mme. Decara
                               '+,,,+'
 
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+
  | VIRGO         (Aug 23 - Sep 22) | LIBRA         (Sep 23 - Oct 23) |
  |                                 |                                 |
  | Your purity & modesty can be a  | Your natural harmony & balance  |
  | liability when you need to get  | often guarantees that others    |
  | hands dirty to get the job done.| to seek out your charming self. |
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+
  | SCORPIO       (Oct 24 - Nov 22) | SAGITTARIUS   (Nov 23 - Dec 21) |
  |                                 |                                 |
  | Don't let your ego get carried  | Personal freedoms are a great   |
  | away with itself. Especially if | thing to express, as long as it |
  | it is carrying all your gear.   | is within bounds of decency.    |
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+
  | CAPRICORN     (Dec 22 - Jan 19) | AQUARIUS      (Jan 20 - Feb 19) |
  |                                 |                                 |
  | Your ascension to even greater  | Your opinions are usually found |
  | heights is assured by the care  | to be fair-minded, but watch out|
  | & planning you put in each step.| for those who would twist them. |
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+
  | PISCES        (Feb 20 - Mar 20) | ARIES         (Mar 21 - Apr 19) |
  |                                 |                                 |
  | Belief in thing greater than the| Getting that project started is |
  | self is natural, but be sure to | the easy part, seeing it through|
  | remain true to yourself as well.| without burning out is harder.  |
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+
  | TAURUS        (Apr 20 - May 20) | GEMINI        (May 21 - Jun 20) |
  |                                 |                                 |
  | Be sure to let others see past  | Frequent time travel can make it|
  | your stubborn fierce side so to | feel like you just ran into your|
  | know the gentle & creative you. | twin. It may have been yourself!|
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+
  | CANCER        (Jun 21 - Jul 22) | LEO           (Jul 23 - Aug 22) |
  |                                 |                                 |
  | The moon's influence brings with| Watch your back as others try to|
  | it insanity and instability that| take advantage of your warm and |
  | makes others doubt your loyalty.| generous nature for own profits.|
  +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+


           ________________________
          /                        \
      o O | Wonder what folks are   |
 `\|||/   | doing over at LegendMUD?|
 (o o)    \________________________/
ooO_(_)_Ooo________________________________________________________________
_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|___
__|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|

  ___                                                                  ___
  \ |------------------------------------------------------------------| /
  /__|  LEGENDITES: Information Regarding the People of Our World     |__\
   '------------------------------------------------------------------'

                              Words Unspoken

We were alone in the apartment. I was polishing my armor - the breastplate
that had belonged to his father. Sir Ganymede was sitting at the table,
perusing notes from our fellow Guardians. I thought to myself, this was a
perfect opportunity to talk to him, to tell him what I knew.

But I could not speak the words. I got up to open a window. Perhaps if there
were a breeze, the words might be whisked from my mouth, no sooner said than
gone. But the air was still and thick. My words would only hang there,
echoing off the pine walls.

And what would he say, when he hears words that can't be ignored in this
quiet, empty chamber? I was afraid I would see disappointment and guilt in
his face. I could not bear that.

Under the clanging noise of arranging my armor, I muttered to myself, 'What
you are, Zafira, is a coward,' and left.

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

                             Arctic Overcoming

The arctic wind swirled about, cold and uncaring, like the heart of a demon. 

Ice and snow penetrated any hope of warmth, commandeering the inside of her
cloak and clinging to her stomach.  Gods, what a saving grace warmth would
be, she thought as she shivered, continuing to trek through the snows.

Her swollen belly began to ache once more, but she tried to pay it no heed
until the stabbing pains became more frequent and more painful.

She rested momentarily, smiling down at her stomach, knowing the children in
there were still safe from Slytherin so long as she kept moving.

Pain of unimaginable degrees spasmed through her.  No, she thought, not yet.
The pain paid her no mind as it spasmed again, signaling labor.  Please, not
here, she thought desperately.

So this is what it's like to be free of body whilst I wait, he thought,
grinning in an ethereal sense.  True, he had no body; the 'reminder' he left
the people surely showed that he had left, or so they had thought.  Somehow,
wandering the chill of the arctic gave him a new look about himself.  It
wasn't as if he was going to betray the Dark Lord.  The Dark Lord had given
him too much, being his Messiah and bringing chaos to many realms.

His ethereal sense told him that there was actually a sentient being about
him close by, and in great pain.  The shrill cry of pain, one he knew from
his former wife all too often, pierced in his ears.  A woman giving birth in
this place, hmm? he thought, wondering just exactly why someone would come
here.

He moved with the will of thought, almost instantaneously towards the woman
giving birth.  She was shocking, in her own way, almost making him think of
his sister-in-law, and strangely enough of his wife.  Her hair was shocking
blonde, and her face, though lacking any true markings of an elf, seemed
elf-like for the most part.  Her hands gripped at the snow as another
contraction finally gave birth to the second of her children.

Birth so oft' leads to death, he thought.  These children before him wouldn't
live, not in this cold.  The girl picked them up, holding them close, trying
to give them warmth from her already exhausted body.   She cried, knowing
that they would die.  All the more reason for him to 'help' her live.
Slipping into her body wasn't all that hard of a task.

Masha cried as she held her two children, boy and girl.  They were freezing
to death, no matter how hard she tried to keep them warm.  Their cries were
becoming weaker as they began to take on a bluish color in their skin.  She
knew that Cirus would never see his children, and they were to be dead.
"Correllon, why?!" she screamed at the top of her lungs as the children
started to quiet, and eventually die.

As if to answer her, a strange feeling came over her, seeping into her mind
and into her body, almost befouling her with its existence.  The misery she
felt was somehow changed to delight, and watching the children die in her
arms was no longer sorrowful.  The children slowly stopped crying and turned
blue in her arms, dead beyond hope.  She set them down and stood up, her
hands aching through her gloves.  Something compelled her to take her gloves
off.  Her hands shot forward and a bar of searing white light shot forth,
destroying the dead children, erasing them partly from her memory.  Only a
crater marked their death, smoking from the light, making her wonder what had
happened.  Sitting, she contemplated what had just happened, wondering why it
felt good to kill.  Darkness soon followed, though not numbing, but
inviting.

She awoke sometime later, refreshed and seemingly nourished.  Whatever had
transpired in the arctic seemed far behind her.  Stretching, she found
herself in a warm ice cave, with a small globe of fire burning in its
center.  It wouldn't be long until she made it back to Tara, where she would
find the true person responsible for the deaths of her children.

Months of travel soon found Masha back in Tara, looking about at all the
change that seemed wrought upon her homeland.  Mother had been right, she
thought, things change whilst you're away.  She smirked as a soft, melodious
voice whispered in her ear, urging her to find Cirus.  It seemed good to
finally be back, she thought to herself once again as she passed someone she
had known before.

Another week of travel found her in front of Cirus's new home, larger than
his hut before she had gone to the arctic.  Because of Slytherin, she had
been driven from her love and made to feel utterly alone, and now, according
to the other animals in the forest, Cirus had found a new lover, and possible
soon to be bride.  She gritted her teeth and felt a wave of bitterness come
over her.

Knocking on the door, she waited for it to open.  And open it did.  Cirus
looked different from when she had last seen him.  His childish face had now
turned into the stony plains that a man of battle would have had.  His eyes,
so kind, turned to flint as he looked upon her.  What had caused this in him,
she wondered.

"What do you want?" he asked coldly, not wanting to see her.

"I want to speak with you," Masha said, her voice still having a tinge of
bitterness on it.  She stepped past him and into his home.  Things had looked
different.  This was no longer the Cirus she knew, and the voice in her head
said that he had gone for more material things instead of keeping his life
humble and helping the sick like he promised so long ago.

"So talk," he ordered, looking at her new attire.  She was swathed in black,
wearing a trenchcoat that went to the middle of her shapely calves.  The
hundreds of fairies that normally surrounded her seemed to have vanished
somewhere.  Her hair was still the same, though it was styled differently,
without the strands of beads and pearls she wore in it.  The gossamer gown
she was fond of was now black silk and cut modestly, though still clinging to
her form.

"It's been long since I've seen you," she started out.  He gave a
non-committal grunt, letting her continue.  "It's about our children.
They're dead."

He took it in, staying silent.  "I see, and at your hand, I suppose?  You
were always evil."

She shook her head, letting a faint smile come to her lips.  "Not by my hand,
by yours."  He shook his head vehemently, but Masha continued along as though
he were a minor distraction.  "It wasn't I who sent the girl away so that she
would wander the arctic.  Though hearing the children cry and seeing them
freeze to death was something else."

He took a step back, looking at Masha and wondering what had happened.
"You're evil."

Masha smirked again and waved a dismissing hand.  "All people are inherently
evil.  Just some choose to recognize it sooner than others.  It wasn't I who
killed the children after all."

Cirus shook his head, "No, I didn't kill them, Masha did.  You did!" He shook
with fury, wanting to strike out, but he couldn't,  he couldn't hit the woman
he loved once.

"As I said, you sent her away.  The Masha you knew died in the arctic as
well.  You see, this melodious voice speaks to me, like an angel of sorts.
Telling me what I should do to those who have wronged me."

"You're insane.  Leave my home, now!"

Masha laughed, sounding like fingernails on a blackboard.  "No, I'm afraid
not.  Not until you know how splendid it was, watching the children die--"

Cirus covered his ears, not wanting to hear any of it.  "No, stop it!  You
killed them!"

Giving a slight shrug, Masha smiled slowly, "No, Masha never killed them."
Her tone of voice changed slightly, but it was enough to make Cirus look up.
"A Shadowmage never kills children for the sheer bliss of killing. I kill
only when I stand to gain something from it, or when my master bids me to do
it."

Cirus shook his head, still disbelieving that he had inadvertently killed his
children and his lover by sending her away.  "I'm not evil, I didn't kill
them!"

Masha rolled her eyes, exasperated.  "As I have told you, all people are
inherently evil.  You just chose to show your true nature when you sent her
away."  She lifted an imaginary glass as if in a toast, "Hail Shadowmage.
All glory for the Dark Lord."  She laughed softly before turning and
vanishing into the shadows, letting Cirus think on the three deaths he had
caused.


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


                           Benaiah's Story

'I am ready when you are, sir'  I said taking out my notebook and pen.  I
opened the notebook to the first unused page.  He simply nodded, his white
eyes almost glowing in the lamp light.

'I used to be a general in the greatest army ever.   There was not a foe that
could stand against us, at least while we were in God's favor.   I will never
forget that battle, the battle when I was saw the order to put Uriah at the
front, the order that got him killed.   I did something that night that I
never did, I got drunk.  I got drunk and wandered out too far, and was
captured buy the Assyrians.

Do you know anything about the Assyrians, boy?'

'No, sir, not much anyway,' I replied.

'They were horrible people, no fear, no regret.   They would take prisoners
to make them slaves, or to simply torture them until they would be killed.  I
had been taken prisoner...and I was NOT to be made a slave.  They laughed as
they pushed me along the path, as I would stumble and be kicked by one or two
of them, then hauled to my feet again.   I was thrown in a deep pit, probably
an old empty well, or cistern perhaps.   I watched the sun change to the moon
five times before a bucket of water was lowered down to me.  It was warm, and
stale, but it was water.'

'I did not even take the bugs out, but crunched down on crispy insect bodies
as if it were the finest steak.  Soon, little animals began coming into the
pit, they would be dead before they knew they weren't alone.  I felt like an
animal, tearing into the raw flesh.  After a while I stopped counting the
days and nights.  Then one night, I was awakened out of my fitful sleep by a
kick to my ribs.'

'I jumped up and saw four armed men in the pit with me and several standing
around the pit urging me to try to attack one of the four.  One of them spoke
to me in my native tongue and told me I was to be brought to the general of
this army for trial.  This seemed odd, I had never heard of a prisoner of the
Assyrians getting a trial.   They placed hooks in my nose...'

I must have gasped at this, for he stopped and smiled slightly.  'The hooks
were a common tool for the Assyrians to use to show their domination, it was
used to show who was slave and who was master, I saw it many times before,
and just gritted my teeth when they were inserted.  Where was I?'

'They placed hooks in your nose, sir.'

' Ah yes.  They placed hooks in my nose and I was led across the camp to a
huge tent, with masses of soldiers gathered around, jeering at me as I was
led closer.

'General Benaiah, how nice to see you again,'  the general's voice dripped
with sarcasm.

'Just kill me and get it over with.' I said.

'No, I shall not kill you,' he said, and then leaned close to my ear. ' I
shall do something far worse I think,' he whispered. 'For fighting men,
leaders such as yourself, your eyes are your best companion.  By them you
know when to rally your army for the final onslaught, or when to sound a
retreat to reform to better fight again.  No, death would be too easy for
you, old adversary, far too easy.'

He ordered me to be chained to a post in the center of camp.  They even bound
my head tight to the pole.  The general came out wearing the gloves of the
iron workers.  He picked a glowing poker out of the fire.  I closed my eyes
and began praying.  He ordered my eyelids to be held open...' His white eyes
begin to glisten with unshed tears.  I would have thought that he would have
started crying right there, but he did not.  Tears formed, but never fell.

'...and he ran the hot poker in front of them, in essence melting my eyes
into what you see now.'

He turned toward me and I looked full into the white eyes.  You could still
see some color, but it was behind a thick white film.

'He then let me go.  Turned me loose into the wilderness, to die I assume.
But I was found a few days later by a scout from my army, and was brought
back to the camp and cared for by the women that followed the army.'

'How fortunate for you,' I said.

He looked at me for a long time, his face softened and saddened. 'That
depends on your perception, I suppose, young man.'

With that he got up and made his way out of the room, ending the interview.
His hair has greyed, and his face has wrinkled some, but his posture and
demeanor still tells of his former life.... General Benaiah of Kalzeeb.

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

                               Reunion

It was a surprise, for me at least. I was traveling around a small German
village, looking for a meal, when I heard a familiar voice. I was just
outside the inn, I was sure the voice was speaking to innkeeper, and by the
sound of the voice he was male. Who could it be? I asked myself as I opened
the door and entered. The familiar sights of Der Phoenix greeted me as I
entered in from the chilling embrace of the night. Then I noticed him, my
face burned with rage and I struggled to control myself as he turned and gave
me a wicked grin. He hadn't changed at all since the last time we had met, he
was still the same slender youth with curly blonde hair and lively green
eyes, which twinkled now with laughter.

"So, we meet again," I said to him as I walked into the room, the innkeeper
glanced from me to him and quickly turned to other business.

"Yes, we do." He was still the smooth talker that I remembered, Wolfgang von
Ahrken stared back at me. "I have a present for you."

"Oh really?" I asked, voice thick with sarcasm. "Is it the blood you stole?"
He ignored me and continued, "Something to freshen up memories...." He handed
me a goblet, looking inside my reflection stared back at me from a thick red
liquid. Blood.

"I drank your blood with great delight," he said licking his lips.

"Yeah, I bet."

Then he smiled and continued, "I have another present though."

"Oh really?"

"If you can figure out its meaning, you might like it much more than
anything."

"And what, pray tell, is that?"

He placed in my hand a small object, a tiny candy heart reading 'one kiss'.
I opened my mouth and hissed at him, my slender fangs glistening in the lamp
light of the inn.

"One kiss.... Blood velvet." I hissed again and he continued, "I think you do
not understand... your loss."

I shook my head, trying to understand what he meant by one kiss. Then he
reached out his hand and held it open to me. "Your hand, m'Lady."

"What for?" I asked, getting suspicious.

"Trust me this one time, you shall not regret it."

"Give me one good reason why I should."

"The best reason is inside yourself, inside your heart.... And inside mine."

"I trusted you once before, and you abused that trust," I said, shaking my
head again. He then pulled out his dagger and slide the blade across his
palm, crimson blood ran down his palm and fell, drip by drip, onto the floor
below. I stared down at it, remembering why I had came here. I was hungry, I
hadn't eaten in days. Not for lack of food, but for lack of motivation. I
looked up at him, my pet, the memories of his betrayal flashed before my eye,
and I brushed them away, suddenly missing him. His touch. I shivered as he
met my eyes, nothing but affection reflected in them, and then I extended my
own hand towards him and he gently took it in his, guiding it to his throat.
I could feel the hot pulsing of his blood running through the veins in his
neck.

"One kiss..." he whispered. I repeated them softly to my self, our eyes still
locked, then I understood. "You don't know how much you put at risk with this
one kiss, dearest Wolfgang."

Nodding he said, "I do."

I was suddenly angry, "Do you know how long I have waited, waited for
revenge? And here you are, offering me what I want, and yet, I..."

"Yet what? Take the revenge you desire, and end the hate between us."

"You left me for so long, hate has worn away and all that remains is what was
there to start..."

"What was there to start? Do you mean..."

"Take its meaning how you wish," I replied.

He grasped my hand tighter, dragging me towards him, whispering to me, "My
wish is, that you drink from me, like I drank from you."

"I have waited for this moment, dreamt of this moment." I said as he bent his
neck to one side.

"Rosaline, you are the only one my heart has ever managed to love, I want us
to unite yet again."

And then I drank from him, his blood filling my mouth. He whispered words
that were lost to me as my hunger took over, my belly grew full with the
taste of him and I pulled away at last. He kissed my cheek, and slowly he
sank to the ground. I licked my lips as he reached out his hand to me. As I
knelt down beside him I offered him my wrist. He just smiled and shook his
head, pulling something out of his pockets. He drank from a vial of blood,
some of his strength returning to him. A little confused I took my arm away
from him, placing it on my knee.

"I will enjoy your blood more, when I'm not exhausted, and I will not risk
killing you again. I want to be safe this time. I want you to be safe." I
just nodded as he took me in his arms, his lips brushed my neck. Then he
drank and as he drank I lowered my head to his neck and drank from him. I
pulled away after only a few moments, the wounds on his neck already
beginning to heal. I stood up, brushing myself off.

"Some revenge, huh?"

"Revenge... hmmmm... are you sure you want to call it that?"

Shaking my head I replied, "Revenge would have been to leave you and not let
you feed. My revenge can't be called revenge at all, I had made a promise, to
myself mostly, that I would get my revenge... and when the chance presents
itself, I turn around and make up with the enemy."

"The enemy? I should have know that you would react like this."

"I think I'm starting to go soft..."

"I should have known that you are not able to feel love. Why should I think
so anyway? I wasn't able to myself before."

"You were the enemy, don't jump to conclusions, and I feel love... just... I
don't know, it's hard to feel love for someone who... who meant so much to me
and betrayed me."

________________

We made up, and agreed to return to each other after his journeys. He
disappeared again on me, he sent me a letter, his companion had came early,
and was waiting for him. Impatiently. And now he's gone, for another month or
two or three... who knows.

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