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VOLUME NINE, NUMBER FOUR                                   January 26, 2002
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

                            TABLE OF CONTENTS

                            The Editor's Note

                          NEWS, REPORTS, UPDATES
                            Calendar of Events
                            The Art of Mixers
                              Recent Updates
                            Recent Q&A Topics
                        DID YOU KNOW: AFK Command
                     Kae's Korner: The Conspiracy Theory

                               LEGENDITES
                             Announcements
                             Trivia Results
                               Clan News
                      Order of the Scroll Reforms
                        Gormenghast Clan formed
                           Smashum Recruiting
            God-Father Retires - Syndicate Family Reorganized
                      Two Brothers: Azure and Zinzan
                           Escape for Freedom

___                                                                   ___
\  |-----------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                        The Editor's Note                        |__\
   '-----------------------------------------------------------------'

What is it about misery that loves company so much?

It doesn't matter if it's physical or emotional, we all seem to have this
need to share it with others. Sometimes, we need the caring shoulder of a
friend who will nod sympathetically and hug us and tell us everything
will be fine. Then at other times, when we feel particularly crappy, we
seem to have one of two responses: the gripe session, where you gather a
few people and bash on what or whomever is upsetting you in order to make
yourself feel better, or, we lash out at those around us or those that
present fairly easy targets for whatever reason. Why does this last one
make us feel better? Does it really? People who act like that in RL are
labelled bullies and worse.

The ego is a strange thing. It can be as powerful and driving as a full
force hurricane, yet it can also be as fragile as a soap bubble. But did
you ever notice how two soap bubbles can come together and they form a
flat surface where they touch? When you have a community like LegendMUD,
the partial anonymity that the internet affords us, tends to magnify and
reinforce all the good and bad things about us, especially once you toss
everyone's ego into the mix. No one likes to feel left out. No one likes
to feel singled out for ridicule. No one likes to get beat up regularly
and have their lunch money stolen.

The question came up at Q&A last week, "What do the immortals want from
the players?" And LadyAce answered it perfectly to my mind, "Primarily, I
think, we want players to have fun and be good to each other -- learn a
little, grow a little, be better people for having been here :)" Now
being good to each other doesn't mean you have to go and pretend to be
best buddies with EVERYONE. Of course that's an unrealistic expectation.
However, I don't think that asking people to follow that age old advice
of "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all" is unreasonable,
nor is "If you cannot get along with someone, don't group with them,
don't interact with them, have a good time doing your own thing."

Just some things to think about... If you're feeling shut out, like you
are being repeatedly slammed, or even like no one will listen to you,
take a step back and try to look at the situation from all the angles.
Have you been a saint? Have you helped fuel the fires that you find
yourself fighting over and over again? Why is it you log in: to have a
good time or just to have your ego stroked? And most importantly, are you
letting yourself have a good time?

-Kaige

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

                 */* *\*  */* *\* January */* *\*  */* *\*

Saturday,  January  26th   noon              Imm/Player Mixer
                                                   hosted by Rusalka
Saturday,  January  26th   5:00 pm           Malia and Dashiva's Wedding
Wednesday, January  30th   8:00 pm           Trivia! with LadyAce
Thursday,  January  31st   noon              Expies Final Ballots sent out
                           6:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium

                 */* *\*  */* *\* February */* *\*  */* *\*

Thursday, February   7th   6:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium
Monday,   February  11th   midnight          Expies Final Ballots Due
Thursday, February  14th   Valentine's Day and LegendMUD's 8th Birthday
                           6:00 pm           Expies Ceremony
Thursday, February  21st   6:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium
Thursday, February  28th   6:00 pm           Q & A in the OOC Auditorium

___                                                                   ___
\  |-----------------------------------------------------------------|  /
/__|                       The Art of Mixers                         |__\
   '-----------------------------------------------------------------'

                   What, may you ask, are mixers?

The word "mixer" can mean many things, from a person who mixes drinks to a
home appliance to a device that mixes sounds for recordings. But for our
purposes, a mixer is a social gathering where people, well, mix.

Or more specifically, where imms mix with players, players mix with
players, and mobs just plain mix. Our aim is for everyone to get to know
everyone in an OOC kind of way.

Today's mixer will be held in the OOC, in A Pleasant Little Coffee Shop.
(Just go OOC, N, N) It will start at noon system time and last till
whenever ("today" being Saturday, January 26, 2002 A.D.).

                   We hope that you can join us!

However, there is one ground rule:

Please do not ask imms at the mixer for zips, strings, restrings,
descriptions, etcetera etcetera......

Why? Because we imms are at the mixer to socialize. It's very difficult to
talk to people and make zips at the same time (sort of like rubbing your
belly while balancing on a tightrope!). We want to be able to give you our
full attention. And if you're at the mixer, please refrain from asking
imms to come over and do zips, strings, etcerta for you. It can be quite
distracting.

But DO feel welcome to come ask questions, discuss issues, and talk about
your pets, favorite computer games, and so on (no fights, please!) And we
do reserve the right to hold silly ice breaker games! There may even be
door prizes....

- Rusalka and Kae

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

    /\                           CODE UPDATES
   /  \
  /    \    BUG FIXES:
 /_    _\    o You can once again throw darts at the dartboard
   |  |      o Going ooc no longer has an extra r
   |  |      o You can now buy multiples at the Stag and Salutation.
   |  |      o Etheric Archers use their bows again.
   |__|
    /\
   /  \                        HELP FILE UPDATES
  /    \
 /_    _\   The following helpfiles were recently added or updated!
   |  |
   |  |       AC, ALLWORDS, BOARD, BRIEF, BUG, BUILDER DEFINED COMMANDS,
   |  |       CLANS, COLOR, COMBAT, COMPRESSION, CONSIDER, COUPON, DEATH,	
   |__|       ETIQUETTE, GETTING COUPONS, GM, GOLD, LOOK, LOOT, LT,
    /\        MACHINE, MCCLIENT, MONEY, MOODS, MULTIPLAY, PKOK, PURGE,
   /  \       QUALIFY, QUIT, RECRUIT, RULES, SAVE, SHOPS, SKILLS, SOCIALS,
  /    \      STUNNED, UNPURGE, UPDATES, WEAPON, WIMPY, XPGAME_RULES
 /_    _\
   |  |     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
   |  |     responsible for the area (check AREAINFO to find out!)
   |  |
   |  |                       Installed Area Updates
   |__|
    /\      ANCIENT GREECE
   /  \        Strings should be easier to find if you hit the chasm dt.
  /    \    ARABIAN NIGHTS
 /_    _\      Clarified that the djinn is expecting you to ask your
   |  |        wishes of him. Snake charmer shouldn't wander so far now.
   |  |        Clarified guards' teaching acts to let you know you're
   |  |        paying him for his time to attempt to teach you, not only
   |__|        successfully teaches you. Various bugs and typos fixed.
    /\      MELBOURNE
   /  \        Fixes Redmond Barry's teaching acts.
  /    \    PICTISH COUNTRY
 /_    _\      Makes Morgawr not stun so long.
   |  |     SAN FRANCISCO
   |  |        Clarification/prompting on how to get registered and get a
   |  |        ballot to vote. Various bugs and typos fixed.
   |__|     SHERWOOD
    /\         Will doesn't ignore charmies now. Richard the innkeeper
   /  \        should handle his bow better now. Various bugs and typos.
  /    \    VICEROYAL PERU
 /_    _\      You can milk the cow in the market place.
   |  |     1802 ALASKA, THE ALHAMBRA, BEOWULF, CELTIC IRELAND, & TORTUGA
   |  |        Various bugs and typos fixed.
   |  |     RECALLTAG
   |__|        A little clarification on block in the rules, and fixes it
    /\         so that points are announced after a points game.
   /  \     THE OOC
  /    \       Prize machine update.
 /_    _\
   |  |                    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.
   |  |
   |  |             Kaige/Ptah   1950s Americana
   |  |             Kheldar      Medieval Sea Trade
   |__|             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 Apples in Tara?                   o Silk Not Cloth in Klein?
 o Why Have Doors Reset?             o Backstab Changes?
 o Unimped Spells?                   o Level Restriction for AT?
 o Crusades Update?                  o Why is 1802 Alaska Medieval?
 o Any Plans for an Iceland?         o Buying Multiple in Sherwood?
 o More Socials?                     o Skill Lag and Charmies?
 o Liquid Types and Fountains?       o Different Rents: Housing & Carried?
 o Code Release?                     o Way to Check Cast Level?
 o Client Compression?               o What do Imms Want from Players?
 o Expies Ballots?                   o Dip Changes?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
   _____
  /  _  \   DID YOU KNOW: Tips and tricks and little-used features
 /__/ \  \
      /  /  Hate to miss tells when you get up for a minute or your
     /  /   friends think you're ignoring their tells, when all you did
    /__/    was go grab some lunch? You can use the AFK command as a sort
    __      of "answering machine" for you when you need to go Away From
   /  \     the Keyboard. There is an 8K maximum on the messages you can
   \__/     save--any past that point will be lost. They are not saved
            from AFK session to session and renting also clears your
   _____    buffer.
  /  _  \
 /__/ \  \  AFK <message> will set an automatic reply message for you and
      /  /    put you in AFK mode. While you are AFK, that status will be
     /  /     shown in your prompt. You can still use any commands while
    /__/      you are in AFK mode. But if you have set up an "outgoing
    __        message" those whosend you tells will get that as a reply.
   /  \
   \__/     AFK used without any arguments when you are not already in AFK
              mode will put your character into a tell logging mode. This
   _____      will log the messages like traditional AFK, but no outgoing
  /  _  \     message will be sent to the person sending you the tell.
 /__/ \  \
      /  /  AFK without a message takes you out of AFK state if you
     /  /     were in that state. Any messages you might have received via
    /__/      tell will then be reported back to you. We strongly advise
    __        that you turn screenlen on (see HELP SCREENLEN) or have
   /  \       backscroll enabled before turning AFK off. Otherwise, if you
   \__/       receive numerous messages, the report may scroll off your
              screen, resulting in their loss; similarly, some players with
   _____      slower connections may find themselves disconnected by the
  /  _  \     barrage of messages.
 /__/ \  \
      /  /  Are you tired of seeing "You must clear your AFK buffer now.
     /  /   It is full."? Are your friends complaining about the spam you
    /__/    make when you need to check/clear/change your AFK messages?
    __
   /  \     AFK CHECK will show you your current AFK message is and any
   \__/       tells with the time they were received without deleting them.

   _____    AFK CLEAR is the same as typing AFK with no arguments except
  /  _  \     that you will remain in AFK mode with the same outgoing
 /__/ \  \    message if any.
      /  /
     /  /   AFK SET <message> will change it without having your AFK
    /__/      buffer sent to you.
    __
   /  \     You can always get more information about these commands
   \__/     online by checking out HELP AFK and HELP SCREENLEN.

  ___                                                                  ___
  \  |----------------------------------------------------------------|  /
  /__|             Kae's Korner: The Conspiracy Theory                |__\
     '----------------------------------------------------------------'

Lately I've been confronted with the concept of spearheading a conspiracy
of older players, primarily immortals' alts, who decide who's in and who's
out in role-playing on LegendMUD. This, our RPG Conspiracy, is no less
powerful than to literally exclude newer players and those we don't like
from participating in the game.

I take offense on behalf of all those great role-players who are not and
have never been the alts of immortals. Those I consider great, and those
that others consider great - Ulric, Dechtire, Xena, Alejandro, Mertjai,
WindChime, Emrysia, Arturo, Kaine, Ronnie, Masha, Lilian, HerbertWest,
Mysanthrope, Omni, Ibrahim, Fraegis, Somar, Fatale, and gazillions others
- those were never immortals' alts. Does that mean they are not
role-players, or that they don't matter?

I'm also bothered by the concept that the immortals should have the right
to determine who can participate in role-playing. This is not our choice.
Our job is to create a game that's playable by all kinds of gamers, from
hardcore pkillers and power gamers to the most extremist of MUSHers and
online actors. There is no style of game-play that is more "right" than
the rest.

One reason for this conspiracy to find footing is, I believe, a common
misconception that some people have more fun than others. On several
occasion I have talked to people who thought my mortal characters
role-play all the time, participating in everything. This is not true. To
the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of role-players spend just as
much time wandering alone, killing stuff, raising rent money, and chatting
about OOC stuff as anyone else. If there is a difference, it is that many
of us prefer to keep the OOC stuff in tells and group tells, rather than
channels and openly in rooms. I know that I spend roughly 80% of my gaming
time sitting more or less OOW on a location somewhere, killing a mob when
it repops and spending the rest of my time working on area maintenance and
whatever else I have to do.

In other terms, I feel confident in stating that hardcore role-players
spend just as much time being bored or doing ordinary mob killing as
everyone else.

This does of course not solve the problem of people feeling that getting
into the role-playing circles is difficult, nor that some are told that
they are less worthy than others. The latter is a completely absurd
statement which I dismiss immediately. Whether you remain IC all the time,
some or the time, or most of the time, you are as 'good' a player as the
next guy. You may want to make it obvious when you're IC and when you're
not, but the time spent IC vs. OOC is your choice and yours alone.

I've yet to meet anyone great enough to earn the right to tell others that
their way of role-playing is the only one. When a new role-player, or a
new character, approaches established peers, he or she might experience
rejection on basis of role-play personalities clashing, and that is quite
alright. But to reject someone on basis of them not being familiar, not
being the alt of someone you know, of their being inexperienced - that's
simply wrong.

Be persistent. Be un-intimidated by one or two bad experiences. And most
of all, be true to yourself and your character. If your definition of
role-play isn't theirs, that just means you're not them. Which should
probably not be too great a surprise, eh?

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

You may also want to visit our archives on the web and look up the
following articles to get some ideas on finding where you fit in and
making yourself known to the rest of the role-playing community.

Finding People with Similar Interests
     http://www.legendmud.org/Community/lt_indices/Vol8/LTv8n6.html

Introducing Your Character to Others
     http://www.legendmud.org/Community/lt_indices/Vol8/LTv8n7.html

Also, the role-playing boards located in the coffee shop in the OOC make a
great place to introduce yourself and to learn of others' rps, especially
when people take the time to post there.

  To get to the Coffee Shop: go OOC, North, North. The Library is to West.

However, the best exposure for anyone, is probably right here. Even if you
or your clan aren't quite as active as you want to be, writing up little
bits regularly and submitting them here to the LT will get them in front
of over 500 people. Don't wait for someone else to mention the great
things you've seen lately and done, or worse, don't complain because your
name's not getting mentioned in here when other people are regulars...
this is EVERYONE's forum -- use it.

To submit a story, ad, or other article of interest to the LegendMUD
community, visit our submission page at:

        www.legendmud.org/Community/ltsubmission.php

Or take a minute and drop an email to lt@legendmud.org or even just drop
Kaige mudmail while you're online.

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

                             Announcements
                             =============

                          A Wedding Invitation

As many of you know, Dashiva and I have been having this engagement thing
for a while now. Well, we've finally set a date to get married or
something, and you're all invited.

The wedding is tonight, January 26th, at 5pm system time unless Hell freezes
over. Which is entirely possible!

Malia and Dashiva

                             Trivia Results
                             ==============

             Congratulations to this week's trivia winners!!

Ember was our winner, with 6 questions correct. Hot on her heels were
Kasmir and Dolor, with 4 questions each. Alison and Phalcon scored 3
each. Mario, Mugwump, Nietzsche, and Chaykin each answered 2 correctly.
Forseti, Skar, Trinity, Nobyar, Sigrid, and Tobias scored 1 question each.

   Join us for another game this coming Wednesday (January 30th) at 8pm!
        Keep your eye on 'events' for more games and activities!

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

The Order of the Scroll was (re)formed by Arturo on January 20, 2002.

The Gormanghast clan was formed by Steerpike on January 22, 2002.
Steerpike told us a little about his long, hard road to the top and how
the clan came to be...

    As some might recall I was retelling the tale of how I came
    to be who I am in a previous article and I left you all
    hanging with myself being locked in a rather dismal room in
    the towers of castle Gormenghast...

    Well obviously I escaped and lived to tell the tale but I
    shall have to tell it for what a tale it was!

    Here I was trembling, cold, alone and hungry in a tower miles
    above the cold hard flagstones of the castle courtyard... so
    what was I to do? Where was I to go?

    Well I've found rather a lot of the time that when you are at
    the bottom the only place to go is up!

    And so I climbed out onto the ledge and looked down the
    dizzying drop to those cobbled streets and then I looked up
    where I was amazed to find a growth of tiny proportion
    growing from the castle wall -- a hanging ivy with roots
    perhaps strong enough to hold me 'til I found some more
    secure purchase on the walls.

    And so I climbed, and my muscles burned and I breathed hard
    and heavy but the trip that took not five minutes felt as
    though it had taken five years. All I knew was the pain, the
    pain and the walls... And when I finally toppled over the
    edge I fell to a rest atop the castle and I rested, or
    fainted I don't recall which...

    So from there where might one go?

    I had escaped the kitchens I had grown up in, I had escaped
    even that lecherous old Flay... but now what to do with
    myself, an enterprising and intelligent young man with no
    place in the world?

    Well I did the sensible thing, I sought acquaintances...

    After many months of political manuevering, I found myself
    servant to the inner circle, the family of Groan, the leaders
    of Gormenghast.

    And it is with much pleasure that I inform you that we have
    finally gathered into cohesion once again and will be living
    amongst you all, please help us to prosper and feel free to
    visit Castle Gormenghast at some point in the future.

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

Former clanmates, Emrysia of the Institute of Healing and Sigrid, now of
the Warlords, were recently seen having a spat. Emrysia took offense at
something Sigrid said about her son, and being the protective mother she
is, launched an unsuccessful attack to defend her son's honor. Later,
Emrysia decided a second round was in order when she declared that Sigrid
had now taken to insulting her as well. Unfortunately, that round ended as
poorly for the Headmistress of the Institute, as Sigrid was once again
victorious in battle.

In other news, the Mercenaries have been looking to stir up action when
and where ever they can. Perhaps someone will give them more than they
were bargaining for?

Have you witnessed 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 the pk world, advertise with us! It's free and you get to see
your name in print! Be a celebrity, the envy of all your friends, tick off
your enemies! The possibilities are endless -- act today!!!!!

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

                           Smashum Recruiting

Smashum be lookin for people who make good RP. We try make much fun and
just make RP for make selves happy and maybe make others entartain for
little. No have be big dumbie like me or even need make big smash we look
for all type. Smashum need magic man who RP much good. All welcome to make
note for me and Aaaaarrgh. If want come make join all ask is make write an
tell what you RP be and what make want join.

Well dat all me have say for now. Hope hear from many soon.

*Flop All*

Grunt and Aaaaarrgh Co-GM smashum

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

            God-Father Retires - Syndicate Family Reorganized

The Syndicate would like to formally announce some changes within their
ranks and family. Their dedicated god-father and founding leader has
decided to retire from active duty within the clan. He remains tightly
connected to the family and remains with them as the Consigliere. He has
come to realize that he wishes to spend more time with his wife and their
new son and the duties of our leader do not allow him this.

So, effective immediately Lira has been tapped to step up in the ranks and
take on the position as leader of the Syndicate and head of the family.
Sandman takes on her former roll of Consigliere and advisor. Another
change within their ranks is Vanion has stepped up and is now their newest
Capo. They are proud of their family and how it grows and continue with
the knowledge that they will continue to grow and become stronger.

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

There are currently 20 RP clans and 10 PK clans. This leaves open slots
for 2 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 for players interested in founding and
running a clan, visit http://www.legendmud.org/Reference/gm.html.

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

                      Two Brothers: Azure and Zinzan

A pair of brothers, yet as diametrically opposed as Cain and Abel, chanced
to meet recently.

Azure asked, 'Has the devil consumed your soul yet Zinzan?'

Zinzan snarled angrily in repsonse.

Azure said, 'I told you ... following the devil isnt a smart choice.' and
sighed loudly.

'What would our mother and father say when they know that evil has consume
your soul?' he asked.

Zinzan, trying to reassure his brother nothing had changed, said, 'Azure,
you are just a small little mage... I always beat you up when we were
kids.. remember... I am the EVIL brother, you are just small and good!'

Azure replied, 'But God was always by my side looking out for me .. you on
the other hand are just a puppet for your master.'

Zinzan nodded, saying, 'Yes, my master is your master!'

Azure continued, 'A puppet that eventually get used up and destroyed...'

Zinzan countered, 'Everybody has an Evil Soul!' and peered closely at his
brother daring him to deny it.

Azure reluctantly agreed, 'I know my evil side and I know how to control
it... unlike you.'

Zinzan sighed, saying his words laden with meaning, 'Azure you will always
be my brother...'

Azure nodded his agreement with Zinzan and the two parted company and went
their separate ways.

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

                           Escape for Freedom

A small creature made its way through a thick forest. It felt the eyes of many
creatures on its back, a shuddered visible as it crept along. Ducking behind a
bush it sat waiting. Huffing breath, crunched leaves. But almost none of this
was heard by the creature's ears. It sensed, rather than heard, the crunching
foot falls of the aging woman. He also sensed the fall of her third leg, a
staff carved from a fallen branch. Always she clutched it in her sickly hand.
Always she used it to hit the creature across the head. It was that staff that
made the creature's ears always ring. It winced.

She was growing closer. Fear ran its cold finger down his spine as a cold sweat
formed on his brow. It forced itself to calm its breathing. In. Pause. Out.
Pause. And again. The woman called to its name then.

"Idris, why do you hide from your grandmother? Why do you fear me so? Come back
young one!"

From what the creature heard it knew the under-tones of the old hag's voice
promised pain and more blows to its small head.

"Boy! Come here NOW!"

The creature shivered. The small boy was no creature, but easily he passed for
one. Dressed in the hides of rabbits, his small frame nearly hidden. Slowly the
woman made her way past the child's hiding place. He held his breath. Minutes
the length of hours passed, then she was gone, crunching her way, calling out
to the boy. Her patience clearly gone as she openly promised beatings if he was
found. He stayed where he was, sucking in tiny gulps of air as he waited for
her presence to no longer tug at the the corner of his senses.

Silence fell all around the child. She was gone. Silently, on tiny feet, the
boy crept from his hiding place. He sniffed the air. Her stench filled his
nostrils, early gagging on the scent of her unwashed body he made his way
through the trees. Wary of wolves he paused and sniffed the air. Salt. He was
nearing the sea. He continued on his way, confident that the wolves that were
known to haunt this forest were far away. He smiled to himself as he imagined
them ripping the flesh from his grandmother's sickly body. He satisfied himself
with the thought of her dirty flesh being devoured. Then a sobering thought
struck him: wolves wouldn't touch the hag. She smelt of urine and week old
filth. He shuddered at the memory of being forced to share her bedding.

He was clear of the forest of the forest, the sun shown down on his fur clad
body. For the first time in his short life he finally tasted the sweetness of
freedom. He broke into a run across  a meadow full of wild flowers. He relished
the feel of them on his bare feet. His toes dug into the soft dirt as he ran.
Ran for his life. Ran for his freedom. Ran for him. His small heaved with the
effort of getting air to his rapidly beating heart. He ran along a path,
ignoring the startle cries of people around him. He dodged a man who shone in
the sun. He dodged a youth with a spear.

The sea! He saw it now, the brilliant blue-green gem that was his escape. And
there! A small boat, perfect for him. Looking around as he continued to run he
saw that he was alone on the beach. With nothing but his rabbit furs he pushed
the boat out into the swelling sea and hopped into it. Picking up the boat's
oars he began to paddle, clumsily at first, having no real experience with
oars.

Freedom fueled him. Freedom nourished him. Freedom was his.

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