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=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
VOLUME NINE, NUMBER THIRTY-SIX                           September 15, 2002
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

                         NEWS, REPORTS, UPDATES
                           Calendar of Events
                             Recent Updates
                           Recent Q&A Topics
                     
                              LEGENDITES
                    LegendMeet - Canberra, Australia
                       LegendMeet - Paris, France
                            All Good Things
                                Thanks!

                               Clan News
             Knights of the Temple celebrate 2nd anniversary
                             Infernal Pride
                The Secretives discover a lost treasure!

                             The PK Front
                   Sometimes, Waking Up is Hard to Do
 
                              A New Evil
          Ishara Odelmion's Story, part III: The Search Begins
                           Story of a Prince
                              The Thief
                       The Trouble with Hjerte...
___                                                                   ___
\  |-----------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                   LegendMUD Calendar of Events                  |__\
   '-----------------------------------------------------------------'
          [All times are system time unless otherwise specified]
   
                              SEPTEMBER
                        Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                         1  2  3  4  5  6  7
                         8  9 10 11 12 13 14
                        15 16 17 18 19 20 21 
                        22 23 24 25 26 27 28
                        29 30

Thursday,  September 12th   7:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium
Thursday,  September 19th   7:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium
Thursday,  September 26th   7:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium

___                                                                   ___
\  |-----------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                          Recent Updates                         |__\
   '-----------------------------------------------------------------'

    /\                         CODE UPDATES
   /  \     
  /    \    Misc Changes
 /_    _\     o cross social
   |  |       o taunt without arguments taunts everyone
   |  |     
   |  |     Bug Fixes
   |__|       o if you inspect furniture it no longer shows up as worn
    /\          "used as light"
   /  \     
  /    \    Typo Fixes
 /_    _\     o "You tug  innocentlyat..." fixed.
   |  |     
   |  |     
   |  |                      HELP FILE UPDATES      
   |__|     
    /\      GENERAL INFO:
   /  \           QandA
  /    \    
 /_    _\                       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 (use AREAINFO to find out!)
   /  \     
  /    \    1802 ALASKA
 /_    _\        Quiver in Alaska no longer gets weight added, Savas
   |  |          loading instead of a second Elezvoi, various typo fixes.
   |  |     ARABIAN NIGHTS
   |  |          Multiple guards shouldn't tell you to put trash in the
   |__|          dump when you drop stuff. Various bugs and typos fixed.
    /\      BEOWULF
   /  \          Farmwife should only complain about people who actually
  /    \         were in league with the Saxons when they walk in on her.
 /_    _\        Salamanders like to play in lava now.
   |  |     ANCIENT INDIA 
   |  |          Hopefully no more dupe dhurtahs. Various bugs and typos
   |  |          fixed.
   |__|     CELTIC IRELAND
    /\           Be careful! Beorc is now higher level and has some new
   /  \          tactics. Lugh has all the keywords from his description
  /    \         now. Grooms can be woken up and will assist the horses.
 /_    _\        You can now get poison cured for a fee. Rent on the lanns
   |  |          altered slightly. More fixes on the witch's quest.
   |  |     HOSPITALLER MALTA     
   |  |          A few new rooms and toys and .. critters have been added!
   |__|          Assorted repetitive issues revolving chiefly around
    /\           customs, housing, and a boat that didn't sail around a
   /  \          whole lot have been dealt with as well.
  /    \    PORT OF LONDON and clipper ship destinations
 /_    _\        Adjusts a couple of the ticket prices downwards a bit
   |  |          since they're supposed to be for lowbies/newbies.
   |  |     ROMAN BRITAIN
   |  |          Different timber housing doors more distinguished.
   |__|          Retired centurion remembers people who steal his stuff
    /\           for 2 mud days. Various bugs and typos fixed.
   /  \     SAN FRANCISCO
  /    \         Fixed the looping room after train from Pittsburgh. The
 /_    _\        correct notebook should be more easily identified.
   |  |          Squirrels not quite so vorpal.
   |  |     SAVANNA.ARE
   |  |          Hippos may destroy boats again like their fight special
   |__|          claims. Python's acts cleaned up some.
    /\      VICEROYAL PERU
   /  \          Not so much rainy weather in the desert/city.
  /    \    ANASAZI AMERICA, ANCIENT NAZCA, BOSTON MASS., FRENCH & INDIAN
 /_    _\   WAR, PICTISH COUNTRY, PITTSBURGH, and VICEROYAL PERU             
   |  |          Various bugs and typos fixed.
   |  |     
   |  |                    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 updates every week.
 /_    _\   Players badgering builders about progress or a perceived lack
   |  |     thereof will be flogged. Remember, the longer spent answering
   |  |     questions, the longer the project takes to complete.
   |  |     
   |__|             Kheldar       Medieval Sea Trade

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
  _______   ____    _______
 /  ___  \ / __ \  /  ___  \  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 Fix for DT Code Yet?                o DTs and Old Eq & Zips
 o Regarding Romeo's RP                o DTs and Elf game "strings"
 o Rent off on Reliquary Cross?        o Hometown Help Info On Web
 o Why was SSS changed?                o What DTs save & Ownership Timers
 o Why was Steal Changed?              o Why do we have PKOK?
 o Sing and Entrance                   o Trees vs New Skills/Hometowns
 o Char Named Rooms in Clan Halls      o Imming with an Admin History
 o Progress on Moods/Socials?          o Who Applied this Round?
 o Code/Building/Balance Discussion    o Commonly Reported Bugs That Aren't
 o Commonly Reported Typos That Aren't o Suggestions/Questions 

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

                Varnel has reached 200 million experience!

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

                    LegendMeet - Canberra, Australia

Stygian is organising a mud meet in Canberra, Australia. It will be held
at Starbucks in the city (Shop 1 Katine Building 182-200 City Walk
Canberra), during lunch time on Saturday 21 September. If anyone requires
lifts from airport, bus stop etc, please contact me, and something will be
arranged. Same applies if you require a place to stay for the night.

On the evening of the meet there is a performance of 'La Boheme', in which
a certain player will be performing the lead role. This performance starts
at 8pm at the Canberra Theatre (02 6257 1077). Tickets are $60 adult or
$45 concession.

Since no one knows what I look like, and may not be totally sure if this
is the correct place at the meet, I am giving a picture to the pic page.
Hopefully Straussy will update in time, if not, then send me your e-mail.
The pic was taken at my Yr 10 a couple of yrs ago. So expect to see a few
changes, eg, I have HAIR!

  - Stygian

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

                       LegendMeet - Paris, France

                    Here's another Legendmeet call!

Players in Europe, we'd like to setup an event where we could all see each
other. I propose myself to host the LegendMeet in Paris, helping people to
find places to stay, even some can stay home.

We'd go to a nice restaurant and if we have time visit some "special"
places like:

               o The Abbey of St Denis and its crypt
               o The Opera and its sunken sewers

Could be fun!

Well, trying to organize that within a year, email
christophe.herrbach@wanadoo.fr if you are willing to participate.

- Nestor's player

 For more information on other meets, see the news board while online, 
     there are several posts regarding ones in different locations.

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

                            All Good Things

It had meant so much and now it took up so little space on the floor --
the white robe with the red Templar cross, the famous standard Beau Sant
of the Knights Templar , -- all possessions now meaning little. Own
nothing, said the Code of the Templars, and few were the belongings
Tancred de Gisborne had to leave behind indeed.

Thirty years of loyal service to his faith and the Lord under that famous
banner. Thirty years of having an identity and a call, a mission in life.

All good things come to an end.

What now, then? Tancred de Gisborne felt unusually uncertain, he who had
made a habit of being calm and secure in his ways, guided by the Lord,
always knowing where to turn next -- now he was no longer so convinced, no
longer so calm and decided.

England? A bastard son of a baron hated by the peasantry, fair Britain
held little for him to pursue in form of wealth or occupation. A knight
only through his membership of an ecclesiastical order, he had no nobility
nor finances of his own.

Knight no more. All good things come to an end.

The silver-haired Knight Templar laid down his robes and cloak and walked
away from the chapterhouse, now a silver-haired sellsword.

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

                                Thanks!

This small article is to immortals, to give them the thanks that they
need. Immortals have been meeting our needs for the longest of times and
it's time they get the gratitude that they deserve. There have been plenty
of times we have called on our trusty immortals and they do as we have
asked them and some people did not even give a simple thanks, thank you. I
am asking that on SEPT 21 be "Immortal's Day", everyone say thanks to all
the immortals when you get on the game and when you get ready to leave.

yours truly
!!!!!!! smokey!!!!!!

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

             Knights of the Temple celebrate 2nd anniversary

Congratulations to the Knights of the Temple clan who will just celebrated
their two year anniversary of forming on September 13.

The Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon of Jerusalem, the
Knights Templar for short, comprise a brotherhood dedicated to protecting
the pilgrims to the holy land and elsewhere. For Additional information,
please seek out Judah Eliezer.

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

                             Infernal Pride

We, the Infernals, still stand above the rest of you weaklings! For those
willing to fight, maim and kill, we yet have openings in our ranks for
you. For those obsessed with balance, honor or the silly glory of the
Light, we have and will continue to hunt and kill you across the many
lands.

Organize and stand against us, we urge you. For how can we expect
amusement if you remain crouched in your little huts and villages, hiding
from our Power and Wrath?!?

Stand and be counted, along with the rest of the dead.

Your Lord,

Barabas BoneCrusher
Infernals Guildmaster

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

           NEWSFLASH : The Secretives Discover a Lost Treasure!

We wanted to let you know that us, The Secretives, have discovered the
site of the Agora.

Once built by Hermes, the god of all things magic, in order to protect
the old manuscripts from the ancient Library of Alexandria, the Library of
the Agora has been gathering a version of every book written down in the
world since the Flood.

The Library of the Agora, once managed and setup by the old members of the
Secretives, has been lost for centuries, mainly due to the high level of
secrecy around the project. Thankfully, our studies of the Enigma allowed
us to discover the emplacement of the Library : a secret complex buried on
a volcanic island on the Egean sea.

All was there, preserved from the assaults of time.

An unlimited source of knowledge, yet to be rediscovered completely. Of
course, the exact position of the island shall not be told as many agents
from Hell and evil organisations wait to destroy the books or use their
power for their cause.

Thanks to the help of the witches of the Coven, who casted an Aegis
shieldspell on the site, the Agora is now rightfully protected and under
exploration.

For a prime piece of news, be aware that we discovered there the original
tome of the Book of Iscariot, with interesting markings that were not in
the edition stolen by Dusk. We have to say that the Prophets were indeed
scholars and wise men, as they speak of the threat before anyone else.

Too bad they fell.

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

There are currently 14 RP clans and 8 PK clans. This leaves open slots for
ten (10) 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
founding and running a clan, we recommend that before you even type FORM,
you visit: http://www.legendmud.org/Reference/gm.html.

     ___                                                          ___
     \  |--------------------------------------------------------|  /
     /__|                    The PK Front                        |__\
        '--------------------------------------------------------'

                   Sometimes, Waking Up is Hard to Do
 
As I awoke and stepped out of my shabby overpriced room which that thief
Richard had overcharged me for, I felt a piercing pain in my lower back.
At first I thought that I had merely slept wrong, but turning, I saw
Shivan standing behind me, preparing for another swing. Not being a
knight, I fled to a less assailable area to wipe the sleep from my eyes.
Then I went forward again to slay my new found friend.

Sadly that was not to be, although it was entertaining spilling as much of
his blood as I did. In the end, I went defeated back to my Lord. But not
without a pleasant memory of the evil in the world. I grin as I think of
Shivan's stealthy first attack, for it is a sign that evil is gaining the
upper hand in the world of men.

Barabas BoneCrusher

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

The operatives of the Secretives were out in force this week, perhaps
defending that treasure they recently uncovered? The Grendels and the
Infernals continued to wreak havoc with nearly half their members out on
the fields of battle this past week. The Knights of Legend professing to
protect the residents of the world only sent two members to the front. Are
the forces for Good that much better than the forces of evil? Or are they
as Barabas claims, hiding in fear? The Grand Coven, the Hermetic Order,
the IRA, and the Syndicate each had one representative active this past
week. 

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

There were 85 pkill related deaths involving 66 different characters in
the last week. Of those 66 characters, 40 of them were accept all at the
time. So come on, let's get YOUR name up in lights! We can't report on it
if you don't tell us about it!

If you have you witnessed or committed 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 PK (not necessarily PK Clan
related), advertise here with us! It's free AND you'll get a token! Be a
celebrity, the envy of all your friends! Tick off your enemies or just
tell your side of the story! The possibilities are endless -- act today!!
 
              _______________________
             /                       \
        o O | Wonder what folks are   |
  `\|||/    | doing over at LegendMUD?|
   (o o)     \_______________________/
ooO_(_)_Ooo________________________________________________________________
_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|___
__|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|

                              A New Evil

Raziel, the Soul Reaver, a man as evil as the Dark Lord himself. He was
stricken as he died to be eternal, never ending, never to die again.

The dark being stood in the corner pondering. His life shall be long lived
and dreadful, feeding on the souls of those he had just killed. He did not
choose this life, he once had a family, a wife and three children. That
was not part of his memories anymore. He only had the memory of the beast
he had become, yet still human. He has these powers and this life, this
god forsaken life.

He moved from the corner of the inn and sat down at the nearest table. He
called the wench to him. She bounded her way over to him, 'What do ye need
stranger?' the wench asked uneasily.

The man grabbed her and pulled her to him, 'Your soul!' he roared. He
plunged his mysterious wraith blade into her heart. He peered at her
through evil eyes, 'Your soul is mine,' he said with a laugh. He poured
all his strength into his blade. The wench exploded into a thousand tiny
pieces. Raziel stood opened his cloak and breathed in the soul of the
wench. Raziel threw his head back and cackled with insane glee.

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

                   Ishara Odelmion's story, part III:
                          The Search Begins

After having arrived in our world, Ishara started her quest by searching
for the Earthen gem and the Crystal of Insight in Tara.

She contacted the druids in the forest nearby, glad to find someone else
who cherished nature, yet surprised to find that their bond was not nearly
as personal as her own. Still, they seemed to be the keepers of knowledge
in the area. However, after spending a few weeks with them and hearing
their Legends, she realized that she would have to find her answers
elsewhere. Besides the days spent with the druids, she also visited the
library in the Dun, searching old tomes with the assistance of Ruadan.
But, as with the druids, she found no answers there.

During her futile search she had one comfort. She could still feel the
bond to whitesocks (named after the white paw in an otherwise grey fur)
across the worlds. The bond was dimmed, but it was still there, offering a
strange form of companionship. Her gifts were also lesser than they had
been in Silverleaves. A possible reason is the fact that only one moon
blesses this world with its light. Either way, her gifts were never
strong, and the lessening not as keenly felt as the diminished sharing
bond with the wolf.

After having found no knowledge of value regarding the crystal and the
emerald in Celtic Ireland, Ishara has decided to travel to a monastery,
where various tomes are said to be kept and cherished. Perhaps she will
find an answer there?

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

                           Story of a Prince

Darkness... Complete darkness...
	... And pain... Horrific pain in my eye sockets...

Where am I?
When am I?
What happened?

I sit up and try to remember who I am... Here's my story.

I am Corvin, the Oldest Prince of Amber, son of Oberon, and the rightful
heir to the throne. Some few hundred years ago, after the mysterious
disappearance of Oberon, my brother Erick decided to take over the throne,
I was locked away in a far away land to not interfere. Eventually I
managed to escape, taking refuge with one of my nine brothers (Oberon did
a lot of... 'Traveling' in his younger days.) Together we have built up a
large army to force Erick to resign the throne.

We have suffered many a loss on our journey to the heart of Amber.
Eventually we have reached the last climb. A stairway that seemed to climb
all the way into the clouds. One by one we slowly made our way up, either
one of us, or one of Erick's army falling with every step. The steps were
slippery with blood. Soon it came the turn of my brother, he must have
gotten rid of at least twenty or twenty-five of them before he slipped and
disappeared into the void below us... My turn... I have been moving
forward for what seems like hours... Days... Seems like an eternity, until
I was surrounded and beaten until loss of consciousness.

When I woke up I was Erick, he smile devilishly and said to me, 'Good to
see you with us, Brother.' I tried to spit in his face, and was once again
beaten, Erick left. I have been kept in a cell for days, finally someone
cam in, and they led me to a room where I was washed and dressed, only one
piece missing, my sign... A silver rose pendant. Later, they led me to a
huge hall, with a table set up, for many hundred people. I was set down
and chained to the floor to restrict my movement. Everyone tried not to
take notice of me when I asked about the occasion, finally someone
muttered 'Today is the coronation.' I nearly choked on my food... So that
why he kept me alive all this time...

After some time everyone was called to the coronation chamber, I was
dragged in as well, Erick looked down upon me and cackled. He hissed to me
'Take this crown, and put it on my head,' I took the crown... What an
amazing piece of jewelry is was... I tried to throw it at Erick, hoping
that one of the sharp points would hit the face, he caught it in the air,
much to my disappointment. He laughed and put the crown on his head. 'Let
this be the last and the most beautiful thing you every see' he said to
me, and the ceremony went on. I was once again dragged off into the
dungeons where they were waiting for me, who are they you ask... I don't
know, they are men in masks. They chained me to a large stone table and
put a piece of iron into the fire. Only then have I figured out what it is
Erick was planning on doing.

Have you ever had a red hot piece of iron held so close to your face that
you felt your eyelashes curl from the heat? No? It is not a pleasant
feeling. The poker started to make its way towards my eye, almost touching
it. I screamed, until I blacked out from the pain.

When I came back to sense I was in pain, horrific pain, and darkness,
total and complete darkness. My only hope being that the blood of Amber
not only regrows missing limbs, but also some of the more vital organs,
like eyes.

Year and years passed until one day I realized that my eyes were back, yet
I still could not see. But now I knew that someday I will be able to see
again! Many more years passed, my beard grew so long that it was dragging
on the floor after me. But then one day I saw LIGHT!! A tiny little ray of
sun through the crack in the wall. I almost let out a yell of joy, but
thought it might not be a good idea with a guard right outside the door.
My vision was slowly restoring, I could now see what my cell looked like.
A plain stone room, with a pile of straw in the corner which for so many
years has served as my bed, a bed of a Prince. But then I knew, time to
escape has almost come! I started practicing some basic exercises to get
back into shape. After all, I do have to get past the guard, and with the
element of surprise, and some luck on my side, I might succeed. Soon I
felt that I have restored as much of my strength as possible in that
condition... And then I waited. Waited on the guard to bring me my bread
and water.

There he is, I can sense him standing through the door, I waited on him to
come closer, as he was putting my food down on the floor I opened my
eyes... I knew him, he used to be a guard since I was a child... 'How are
you today Benedict?' I asked. He looked up at me shocked, with fear in his
eyes as I kicked him in the ribcage, and quickly snapped his neck. The
only sound he had time to make was the sound of his neck going *SNAP* I
carefully laid him down on the floor and closed his eyes. Slowly and
quietly I made my way out of my cell, and using backdoors managed to get
to the stables, mounted what seemed a fine horse and rode as far as I
could, leaving Amber far behind. Not wanting to see the place that has
caused me so much pain again.

Since that day I have been growing in strength and wisdom, never coming
near Amber. Maybe, just maybe, someday I might go back, but that's
someday...

'Now you know who I am, but I still don't know much about you...'

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

                              The Thief

The shadows cast by the inspiring ramparts of Carian Trag gradually
lengthened and filled as the sun fell behind the high peaks on the
horizon. A few straggling courtesans hurried up to the entrance and rapped
on the imposing gate for admittance, anxious not to be left outdoors after
dark. After passwords were exchanged and identities confirmed, the huge
entryway swung silently back on its massive well-oiled hinges and they
filed inside. Before the gates clanged back into place, a dark shape
stealthily emerged from its hiding place and darted through unheeded. The
gates then boomed shut, like the slamming of a tomb.

In a distant part of the castle, a finely dressed man sat studiously over
an enormous leather-bound ledger, quill in hand. The feathered tip barely
trembled as it quickly moved across the page. So fine and accurate was the
penmanship. Ashimar paused a moment to stretch the crick from his neck
before allowing himself an admiring glance at the day's work. Gold coins
were stacked in numerous piles around him on his mahogany desk, resembling
the turrets of some fairytale castle. Their totals were mirrored perfectly
in the neat columns of figures in front of him. He leaned back and cracked
his knuckles over his head, a satisfied smile on his face like only an
accountant with a balanced book can have.

The single candle in front of him guttered briefly, casting odd shadows
across the walls and interrupting his silent repose. He raised an eyebrow
and peered over the piles of coins to the door. It was large and squat and
gleamed dully, a very solid block of well tempered steel. It was the only
way into this windowless room and it remained steadfastly closed. The
complex array of gears and wheels that made up the complex locking
mechanism were quiet and still. As he continued to watch a small envelope shot
out from under the door and slid a few metres into the room over the
polished flagstones. His second eyebrow shot up to join the first, which
was still hovering up near his hairline, for he knew the letter-writing
ability of the burly guards stationed outside didn't progress much further
than RIP. He raised his hand and the letter flew up to meet it, stopping
mid-flight just before it arrived. It turned slowly in the air as he
studied it carefully, giving it a cautious sniff to detect any scent of
magic on it. Apparently satisfied, he allowed it to drop onto an empty part
of the desk. Noting the seal pushed into the red wax on the back of the
envelope -- a cross marked with tongues of flame, he snapped his fingers -
breaking it open. A single sheet of parchment rolled out onto the desk, on
it was printed a single verse in a labored hand,

                   If by chance you blindly flee
                   from fight or foe or family,
                   in which direction would you be
                   from your first locality?
                 
                   K.

Ashimar blinked and looked up once more at the door, shaking his head in
puzzlement. Ransom notes, dire threats or dread warnings he expected, not
some obscure ill-penned rhyme. Curiosity aroused, he stood up from his
counting table and glided over to the barrier. Before disengaging the
ingenious locking system he muttered a few words, sending little sparks of
flame zinging across the tips of his whiskers. Suitably armed, he
cautiously pushed open the door and peered out. Apart from the bulky forms
of the two slumbering guards, the shadowy hallway was completely empty. He
warily stepped outside, and gave one of the sleepers a hearty kick in the
ribs. His armour clonged and he grunted, but he merely rolled over and
continued snoring.

Ashimar sighed and then pondered the verse again. Momentarily distracted,
he failed to notice a slight shimmer in the air, an extra shadow cast over
the flagstones that flitted up the hallway and through the open door
behind him. His brow creased and he scowled, sensing something amiss. The
letter fluttered from his fingers, forgotten, as he turned on his heel and
dashed back into his room, sparks crackling from his clenched fists. A
bolt of raw power arced across the room from his upraised hand, aimed
directly at the intruder standing behind his desk.

Too late! It sizzled right through the bright light that had suddenly
enveloped him and drilled into the masonry behind where he'd just been
standing, blowing a sizeable hole through it. The distraction had achieved
its goal, and the thief had made his getaway, leaving the obligatory
solitary coin twirling to a slow stop on the empty desktop. Ashimar
groaned and his shoulders sagged. The King and Queen would not be pleased.

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                       The Trouble with Hjerte...

He laid awake most of the night, his mind not allowing itself to rest.
'Did I actually tell her that?' he asked himself. He had never even
thought those words before now, how had she made him start now? What was
it she did to him to make him even think, 'Jeg tror jeg elsker deg,' and
how had she gotten him to say it out loud?

'Hjerte, what have ya gone and done? Ya made em lose ya.'

He looked at her as she slept there in his arms, smiled and kissed her
softly on the neck and chuckled softly as she unconsciously shuddered and
moved closer to him.

What she had done, it could never be undone for his hjerte was no longer
his, nor was his life. He had even told her that he would remove his beard
if it pleased her. And she looked deep in his eyes and found it to be the
truth, and told him that she liked the beard where it was, much to his
relief. She called him 'Vakker fjell, and her fjell he would be, to stand
by her and to see that she had all she needed, and if possible all she
wanted as well. 'How could this woman make me wish to be submissive?
Almost unnatural... must be the kiss...' he chuckled, 'Ja, and all my
strength is from my beard.' He laughed aloud, almost awakening her, but as
she stirred, somewhere between sleep and awake, he sang her a song, in a
smooth baritone, about the fjord and fjells that he would someday take her
to see.

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