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From WHITE@DUVM.OCS.DREXEL.EDU Tue May 12 10:35:49 1992 Received: from DUVM.OCS.DREXEL.EDU by eff.org with SMTP id AA26851 (5.65c/IDA-1.4.4/pen-ident for ); Tue, 12 May 1992 10:35:38 -0400 Message-Id: <199205121435.AA26851@eff.org> Received: from DUVM by DUVM.OCS.DREXEL.EDU (IBM VM SMTP R1.2.2MX) with BSMTP id 3310; Tue, 12 May 92 10:31:37 EDT Date: Tue, 12 May 92 10:31:27 EDT From: "Avid Reader - Fledgling Writer" To: RITA@EFF.ORG Status: OR 1 / DDDDD ZZZZZZ // D D AAAA RRR GGGG OOOO NN N Z I NN N EEEE || D D A A R R G O O N N N Z I N N N E || Volume 3 -=========================================================+|) D D AAAA RRR G GG O O N N N Z I N N N E || Issue 7 DDDDD A A R R GGGG OOOO N NN ZZZZZZ I N NN EEEE || \\ \ ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- DargonZine Volume 3, Issue 7 05/11/90 Cir 970 -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- Contents -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ DAG Dafydd Editorial The Bronze Horseman I Max Khaytsus Sy 10-Seber 22, '13 Hunting of the Red Tiger II M. Wendy Hennequin Neber 1013 A Night Off the Town M. Wendy Hennequin 15 Mertz, 1014 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 Dafydd's Amber Glow by Dafydd Cyhoeddwr (b.c.k.a. ) Okay, here is, as promised, the scoop on the DargonZine back issue archives: Back issues of DargonZine are available from the Archive Server run by Mark Seiffert. DargonZine has its own section of the Archive in the directory called other/digest/DargonZine, with each volume having a separate sub-directory for it's issues. There are two auxillary files available from the DargonZine directory: the file "index" lists the file names and the descriptions of what is in the files; and the "list" file is a Unix-style ls-lR file of the files available. Back issues are requested from the machine "Archive@mgse" (which may have to be translated to "archive%mgse@rex.cs.tulane.edu" from some machines) by sending it mail. An example of the commands required to get the help file, the index and list files, Volume 1 Issue 1, and Volume2 Issue 1 of the magazine is below: - cut here ---------------------------------------------------------- help send other/digest/DargonZine/list send other/digest/DargonZine/index send other/digest/DargonZine/vol01/issue01 send other/digest/DargonZine/vol02/issue01 - cut here ---------------------------------------------------------- The files are also available for anonymous uucp at 504-467-1069, 2400 baud, login 'archive' in the directory "/archive/other/digest/DargonZine/". Callers at 300 or 1200 baud will have to send a break. If you have any problems or questions, please contact Mark at "archivea@mgse" (or "archivea%mgse@rex.cs.tulane.edu" - Mark is the administrator of the Archive and I have little to no knowledge of just how it works. Please be sure to send your mail files to the right place: questions/problems to archivea@mgse, requests for files to archive@mgse. Thank you, and thanks to Mark for the service and for much of the above explanation. The above presented documentation is right out of the DargonZine Info file, and, as noted, was culled from the documentation that Mark provides for his Server. As I said last issue, I have tested the Server and it works. However, it seems to only accept one command at a time. So, if you want multiple issues, it would seem that you have to send multiple mail messages to the machine. But that's no bad thing - it will help distribute the load on the network if you don't request all 13 back issues at once anyway! I just have two more things to make note of. Its probably a little late for this (should have been in the last issue), but I would like to remind those students who receive DargonZine and who are leaving school for the summer to unsubscribe (just send me a message -its that easy) to save the bandwidth it will take to send your account an issue of DargonZine and have it bounce because your account is no longer active. When you return in the fall, just send me another message and I'll resubscribe you, and you can get the issues you missed from Mark's Archive Server! Thank you for the consideration. And, lastly, there are a few addresses out there that seem to be reachable from the ListServ network that distributes this magazine, but not from my personal account. I would like to reassure these people, most particularly Cathy Newberry (who is the only account I am sure I cannot reach by mail - but there must be others), that I am not ignoring their requests for further information. Cathy, I tried to send you back issues, and this week the DargonZine Info file so you could get them yourself. But, no matter what I tried (and that wasn't as much as it could have been maybe, but I'm no mailer-daemon), our Mailer refused to believe that your node exists. I'm terribly sorry that I couldn't respond directly to your requests, but I did try. Fortunately, I know that the issues make it to you, so above is the back issue information. Thank you and enjoy DargonZine. Dafydd, Editor DargonZine ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 The Bronze Horseman Part 1 by Max Khaytsus A brigand with a large gap between his teeth handed the lance to the young knight on his horse. "He's giving you a chance to die fighting, but if you win, the rest of us will kill you." He smiled savagely. "You went after the wrong people, boy." The knight backhanded the brigand and brought the lance up over the saddle. "I see I killed the wrong three. Get out of my way or I'll skewer you." Another brigand drew his sword. "You be careful what you say or you may have to fight without a tongue." The knight lowered the tip of his lance to point at the speaker. "If I die here today, more will come. Your kind will _not_ rule this land." He thrust the lance forward, hitting the brigand in the chest hard enough to knock him over. "If I die today, I will do so for a good cause and people will remember my name." "Now, now, Sir Arvel," someone said behind the knight and he turned to face a man dressed in full plate made of bronze, sitting atop a night black mount. "Enough of this bragging," the rider went on. "I am giving you this chance because you did earn the chain you wear and I wish to remove it from you the same way you earned it -- in combat." "Quinn," Arvel answered, "killing me won't make your life easier. You are still an outlaw." "Until I am removed by a tribunal, you will refer to me as Sir Garwood Quinn." "Baron Bankroft already revoked your knighthood!" "Baron Bankroft is dead!" Arvel glared at the man in the bronze armor. "Are the peasants ready?" Quinn asked one of his men. "They are all in the field, Sir." "Good. If you will, Sir Arvel," Quinn turned to his opponent. "My men will escort you to your starting position." The gap-toothed brigand took the reins of the horse and lead it away. Quinn kicked his horse to a gallop, going to the other side of the meadow. Arvel's horse was led to a red marker on the edge of the field and turned to face in Sir Garwood's direction. The brigand walked away and Arvel raised his head to the sky in a silent prayer. As the first horn sounded, he leveled his lance. On the second he kicked the horse into a trot. Across the field Sir Garwood did the same. The two horses gained speed on their charges and the knights collided with a clash. Arvel's shield received a great dent in its face. He was not sure if it could take another hit like that, but he suspected he did at least as much damage to Quinn. He turned his horse and looked to find Quinn. The renegade knight adjusted his shield and charged back. Arvel shifted his weight in the saddle and urged his own horse forward. Once again the two knights collided, but this time Arvel fell from his saddle to the ground and Quinn rode back. He dismounted and knelt beside the fallen man. "See how combat before the gods works?" he asked and took the chain of knighthood into his hand. Arvel gasped at the force with which the chain was torn off. "You're no knight," Quinn declared and slit the fallen man's throat. Rien embraced Kera one last time and whispered "Have a safe journey," in her ear. Kera pressed harder against him. "I'll miss 1you." After a minute or so they released each other and Kera remounted her horse. Rien watched her ride away until she reached the curve in the road, where she turned back and waved. He waved back and soon she disappeared from sight. Rien got back on his horse and kicked it into motion. There was a month long trip ahead of him to do a job that should have been taken care of months ago. It was to bring to justice, one way or another, Sir Garwood Quinn, one of the knights of Baron Bankroft, or rather the late Baron Bankroft, who was murdered in cold blood by the said renegade a few days before the Melrin festival. Quinn, in his festive, pre-holiday spirit, took a few of his men and went out to pillage and plunder his baron's lands and set up camp somewhere near the village of Phedra, after permanently releaving the local constable. That was the report Rien received three weeks ago at the inn, telling of something that took place almost two months before that. Now Rien's task was to find the renegade knight in the lands he's been despoiling and one way or another to take care of him and his dozen or so men. Of course by the time Rien arrived, it would be well over three months since the initial event and in that time anything could have happened. The problem might have already been resolved by the local authorities, which was doubtful, as any organized process in the Duchy of Quinnat would be unlikely at best. On the other hand, the problem also had had a chance to grow, which was the more likely event. Rien only hoped it had not grown too much. He sent Kera to Sharks' Cove specifically for that reason -- what he was about to do was going to be very dangerous. She would be much safer on the road than in a fight. She was to go to Armand and take a boat to Sharks' Cove to deliver his message that said he had finally gotten around to the job. The note also requested his horse and equipment and a mount for Kera. Rien had initially left his horse and gear behind to assure his co-workers that he would indeed take a break this time. All he ended up proving was that he did not need anything extra to run into more problems. The vacation became nothing more than a disorganized job, but no one would ever hear about that. Rien was more restless than Kera showed herself to be in their week long stay at the inn in Dargon, but he controlled it better than she. Being forced to "relax" and do nothing was sheer torture for him. Instead of dying of boredom, Rien managed to obtain an obligation to the High Mage (who hopefully still knew nothing of the troubleshooters), get a witches coven upset with him (upset enough to try and kill him), anger the provincial Dargon mob (which hired an assassin to hunt him down) and on top of that, get himself an apprentice! Apprentice for what? He worked alone! His association with Kera made him wonder about their relationship now that he was finally alone and had the chance to think. Was it because he felt sorry for her? Was it because he felt responsible for the disease? And why has their relationship turned sexual of all things? She didn't even have a drop of elven blood. His mate...ex-mate was at least an elf. One thing was for sure, Kera lead the type of lifestyle he lead. Despite this tie between them there was still a problem. He was more than seven times her age and would easily live to see ten times that amount. She, at best, would live to the end of the century. In fifteen or twenty years she would be on the decline, no longer as strong or as agile...and twenty years past that, the same would start happening to her mind. Rien was not happy about human mortality. It was the cause of the initial conflict between his people and the human race. In a matter of two centuries, a few millenia ago, elves almost became an extinct race because of their inability to die a natural death. They were virtual pacifists back then, permitting themselves to be 1slaughtered almost to the last. To date, Rien knew of only four tribes in existence, all living in the same place, Wildwood, in the valley of the Windbourne mountains, or Charnelwood -- Darkling Forest -- as the superstitious humans in the area preferred to call it. Two of the tribes were Ljosalfar. The one he was from and another, of which his ex-mate was a member. The other two were Dopkalfar and Rien knew little of them. He could find them if he wanted to, but there was never a reason to. The Dopkalfar were the ones who insisted that the human lust for elven blood should be repaid in kind and it was this desire to survive that almost singlehandedly saved the entire race. It was this desire that separated the two groups into the broken race they now were. One remained peaceful and the other became warriors. The conflict lay in the issue of revenge and question of superiority. Did a more civilized race have the right to condemn another? For the most part Ljosalfar strongly believed that they should not fight a war and should simply be ready to leave if the humans ever come again. The philosophy of the Dopkalfar was to be ready at all times to take on the challenge of a war and win. There were naturally all sides to the issue in each of the tribes and this was a source of great debates for many centuries. To Rien it was all ancient history, now no more than a racial conflict he believed to be wrong. There were less than two hundred elves that he knew existed and their growth was stunted by humans on the outside and internal conflicts at home. If Ljosalfar and Dopkalfar ever met for reasons other than to decide their future, it was to have as big a fight as they could, although no elf ever died by another elf's hand. There were some human tribes in the mountains and in the forest that did not hate elves and some that even revered them, but on the whole, Makdiar was now a human world and the elves could no longer lay any claim. Rien left his tribe to see the world his father was from, the world no elf had visited for over two millenia. Most in the tribe were against it, but Rien managed to convince a good portion of them that it would be good to know where they stood in the minds of the humans and that he, of mixed heritage, was the best person to find out. To his surprise, he learned that his species was a thing of legends and most, save scholars and mages, did not realize that these legends were often based on facts. Elves were as forgotten as the empires that rose to defeat them. During his time in the human dominated places, Rien learned that humans feared things they did not understand and often tended to rid themselves of these inconveniences any way they could. Maari and Terell were both in this category, but many others were not. Perhaps because time erased the memories of the wars, perhaps because now people were more tolerant. Those like Marcellon and Taishent and Connall, who had no problems with what he was. And neither did Kera, a fact that, oddly enough, pleased him. On his fourth day in Dargon, just three days after they came to an uneasy truce, she saved his life. Perhaps she realized he was not human then, perhaps not. She certainly had the opportunity, but more importantly, she had no reason in the world to save a man who could just as easily have turned her over to the town guard. She could have abandoned him or killed him or given him to Liriss, but instead killed for him and remained at his side. That was the type of people who could live peacefully side by side with elves and that's why he developed respect for her... Rien could not tell if that was the reason for the growth of their physical relationship and did not assume that he would find out 1soon. For now he was glad she had decided to stay with him and more so that she agreed not to face the dangers he expected to encounter. Their plan was, that since Kera would reach Sharks' Cove a lot quicker by ship, she would pick up the equipment and travel on to Phedra, a week long journey, where she would meet up with him again. By then he would have had a good week to take care of the job...or not. Rien caught sight of Phedra in early morning. It lay in a shallow valley, backed by a forest on one side and open to farming fields on the other. In spite of the hour, there was no evidence of life either in the village or in the fields. Rien stopped his horse on the hillside and scanned the area. The village appeared well cared for, but still empty. The fields were also in good shape, but like the town, there were no indications of life. Rien encouraged his horse forward. Up ahead on his left he noticed some motion behind a large bush, whose leaves were beginning to turn brown from lack of water. Unhooking his foot from the stirrup, Rien placed it on the arc of the crossbow, which hung off the saddle to his right. He bent down and grabbing hold of one of the two strings, pulled it back. Not an action that should be done while riding, but better than not being prepared at all. Rien looked ahead again. The bush was still. Across from it was an old tree with branches extending over the road with too many leaves to betray anyone hiding in it. The horse was now about twenty feet away from the tree. At the current rate he would be passing under it in a few moments. Rien looked at the crossbow, but it was impossible to place a bolt in it, not only because of lack of cover, but also because it was pointing straight down and would not hold the missile. Rien grumbled silently for a second and with his left hand undid the strap binding the hilt of his sword. He was passing under the first branches of the tree and looked up just in time to see a net falling onto him. The horse stopped and with a yell someone leaped down. Rien caught the man with his long dagger in mid-air and his assailant landed on the ground with a thud, the weapon lost somewhere under him. Rien was also in a bad position. The horse would not move while the net was around it and he could not draw his sword to cut himself out. As he considered his situation, an arrow from behind the bush penetrated his leg with enough force to secure it to the horse's body. The animal reared up in surprise and pain, breaking the arrow and throwing Rien off, as a second arrow hit it in the shoulder, right were Rien's head had been a moment before. The net caught on the horse and the saddle and Rien more slid than fell to the ground. He grabbed the dagger on the ground and cut the net open. When he finally struggled free, he encountered a man with a drawn sword. The first swing would have surely made contact with his head, except he timely realized that his left leg could no longer support him and collapsed to his knees. The sword went barely over his head and he hit the swordsman with his dagger. The man staggered back and Rien awkwardly drew his sword. His eyes were now silver-grey with anger, matching the color of the steel. Before the brigand could recover for the next attack, Rien swung, slicing his opponent's stomach open. The brigand dropped his weapon and collapsed on top of it, a pool of blood spreading under him. Rien staggered up, the pain in his leg becoming unbearable, but went on to face the two new challengers who appeared from beyond the bush. He parried both their strikes, then attacked one man's weapon, sending it to the ground. The second man swung at Rien, connecting loosely with his side. Rien returned the favor, but instead of pulling 1his sword back, forced it forward. Panicing, the brigand dropped his weapon and tried grabbing his sword, but Rien pulled it back, leaving bloody streaks on the man's hands. Rien turned on his second opponent, again knocking his sword to the ground. The brigand tried punching him, but Rien swung again, cutting his forearm off. The man stared in shock and horror and Rien put the sword through him for the last time. When Rien turned to face the last man, the brigand was sitting on the ground, nursing his hands and side, the sword laying a few feet away, where it had landed. The brigand yielded and Rien put his own weapon away. He leaned on his horse, still covered by the net, for support. A dark pool of red appeared where he stood and his leg was soaked with blood from the calf down. He pulled out a dagger from the saddle bag to cut the net off when hoof beats sounded up ahead on the road. Rien looked up. Riding towards him were three men. The one in the lead rode a black stallion and wore bronze plate armor. The other two rode at his sides and were dressed in chain. Each man wielded a cocked and loaded crossbow. They stopped less than twenty feet away from Rien and the man in the middle surveyed the scene with calculated interest. The brigand sitting on the ground rose, holding on to his injured side. His effort was rewarded with a crossbow bolt in his chest and collapsed to the ground, probably dead. "Is this your doing?" the man asked in an aristocratic voice. Rien nodded, studying the man silently. He believed himself to be speaking with Sir Garwood Quinn. "Those were my men," Quinn motioned to the four bodies. "I think it'd be best if you joined them..." A new bolt was inserted into the crossbow. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 Hunting of the Red Tiger Part II by M. Wendy Hennequin (b.c.k.a ) Donegal na Valenfaer laughed as he watched the Beinisonian slave ship burn blue with hellfire. "Well, that wasn't so hard. The Beinisonians aren't as tough as they think they are. We've had more trouble pirating some rowboats." "Getting the others will be more difficult," Richard warned him sternly. "Those girls they bought will be in the way." He gazed at the blazing Beinisonian ship and frowned. "You know, it'll be much more difficult for me to pick them off. Here we had nothing to be careful of." "Don't worry, Rich," Donegal reassured him cheerfully. "I'll stab a few in the back, slit a few throats...it'll be easy." "Has anyone ever told you that you're too optimistic?" "You've told me a dozen times." "Why doesn't it sink in?" "Because I'm too optimistic, Rich," Donegal answered innocently. "You're also a pain," Richard growled playfully, making his way to the path the Beinisonians had taken. "Let's get moving, Donegal. Maybe we can catch them at supper." "Did you bring any poison?" the leech wondered, only half-jokingly. The archer abruptly stopped and turned to his friend. "Poison? Why would I bring poison on a hunting trip?" "Hey, why would you bring hellfire?" Donegal countered with a knowing smile. Richard flushed slightly, but he returned the smile and continued down the path. "Last time I was here," the archer explained, "I had a little trouble with the Sun People. A young lady and I were enjoying ourselves, and a few of the men became rather irate." Richard chuckled softly. "Luckily, I had a little hellfire on me; my sword couldn't have fought their spears." "Sounds like a close call." "It was worth it. She was a fine woman." Richard retrieved the spying glass from his belt and surveyed the path in front of them. "All clear ahead," he reported in a low voice. He crouched. "Still, we're getting pretty close. Can you hear them?" Donegal listened; music and laughter floated merrily through the jungle. "Maybe we can get them now, while they least expect it." Richard shrugged at the possibility and crept along the path. When they neared the clearing, Donegal stepped into the shadows at the edge of the brush; seeing him, Richard did the same. The volume of the music grew. Finally halting, Richard parted the underbrush and motioned Donegal to join him. The archer was grimacing. About two hundred People of the Sun--men, women, and at least fifty children--filled the clearing. Despite the carnival atmosphere--large groups were dancing, and a huge carcass cooked over a spit--each man bore a spear, and some also had strung bows set carefully beside them. A few even had iron swords. In a moment, Donegal, too, was frowning. So much for getting them out while they were off their guard. Richard reached for the spying glass and unfolded it. "Do you see the Beinisonians?" the archer rasped. Donegal quickly scanned the jubilant tribe while Richard meticulously searched with the spy glass. "There they are." The surgeon pointed to four men; three were Beinisonians, and one was an 1older, elaborately dressed Sun Man. "At least three of them. Weren't there five?" "That's what I thought." Richard compressed the glass and attached it to his belt. Turning his back on the festival, he said, "We have some time to kill. It'll be a while before that beast is cooked fully." "Do the People of the Sun eat their meat fully cooked?" Richard made a face. "Raw meat? Don't make me sick." He rose. "Want to search for the other..." His voice trailed off, and he stared over Donegal's shoulder. The leech whirled. Calmly and patiently standing, not ten feet from them, was the Red Tiger. "Or," Richard continued softly, "we could go hunting a different animal." Slowly, he rose and drew an arrow from his quiver. The Lowenrote waited. Donegal began to stand. Richard placed the arrow on the bow. The surgeon straightened. Richard drew the arrow back. And the Red Tiger leapt, laughing, into the jungle. "Let's go!" Richard urged, and in a split second, he crashed after the animal. Donegal rolled his eyes, sent a brief prayer to Gow, and plunged into the jungle after his friend. Once again, he collided with Richard abruptly. Richard raised his hand swiftly and sharply to still Donegal's question. It didn't matter; Donegal understood what was happening in a matter of moments. While the Lowenrote stood patiently--no, expectantly--on the other end of the small clearing, two men--two Beinisonians--were chasing two desperately frightened native women. The farther man reached out to snatch his prey-- And fell to the moist ground, an arrow in his neck. The second, running past Donegal, paused as he heard his companion's cry. Donegal leapt upon him, forcing him to the ground, and in a moment, the surgeon had buried his knife in the Beinisonian's back. When he rose, Richard was slitting the other man's throat for security's sake. The women--and the Red Tiger--were gone. "Well," Richard began softly, "it won't be long now. When those girls return to the party, one of two things will happen. Either they'll tell how they were nearly raped, and the Sun People will slaughter the other three Beinisonians, or they'll tell how these two were killed, and we'll have an entire tribe on us." Richard turned to his friend. "Well, Donegal, which do you think?" The surgeon grinned. "I think we may be in for it, Rich." The Baranurian smiled ironically. "You're probably right." He loaded an arrow. "You know, it might be best if we took off and left this island right now. The Beinisonians can't come after us, and they certainly can't take those women any place." Donegal glared at his friend. "We started this, Rich, and we're going to finish it," the surgeon commanded. Richard raised an eyebrow at Donegal's tone of voice, but he said nothing. Donegal saw this and grinned gratefully. "Besides, Rich, it's much more fun this way." "That's a fact," Richard agreed good-naturedly. He stepped back into the brush. "Well, in any case, they'll likely bring the entire tribe on us. We're going to need surprise on our side, Donegal. We don't have much else." The archer took two more steps backwards, and then Donegal could not see him at all. Donegal glanced about the clearing and quickly moved to the shadiest spot he could find. He hid the backpack under a nearby bush, carelessly flung his white shirt into the jungle--let them look in the wrong spot!-- and hid himself in the shadows. Donegal smiled wickedly. No one would spot him in the murky shade. 1 "The band!" Richard hissed, and Donegal remembered and panicked. Remove his headband? But that bright red and yellow band hid the mark of slavery! If the Beinisonians saw it-- No, he wouldn't--couldn't--risk it. "You stupid ass!" Richard's voice harshly mocked the surgeon's hesitation. "Why don't you just wear a target on your head?" Donegal scowled, furious at Richard for stupidity that was the surgeon's own. With a growled oath, Donegal reached for the Bichanese band and hurled it from him with a vengeance. A crash sounded nearby. "A black angel and a golden one?" scoffed a voice in drunken accents. "The woman has had too much wine!" A couple of loud guffaws seconded the opinion. Another Beinison voice said, only half-jestingly, "Don't be so sure of your mocking. This is the year of the Incarnations. It could be Braigh and Alana, you know, and I wouldn't want to anger them!" The laughs became louder. "Don't be silly," a third voice ordered. "They were probably just attacked by some jungle animals; that Lowenrote that we hear of might well be the golden angel--or demon--the women spoke of." "Exactly," the first of the voices agreed. A heavy-set, half-drunken man parted the vegetation on the north side of the clearing. "The women had too much to drink." "I don't think so," the third voice argued, stepping into the clearing. This man was younger and cheerful, and reminded Donegal in some ways of himself. "Look there." He pointed to the man Richard had slaughtered. "Angels don't use bows. And look there." He indicated the discarded shirt. The first retrieved it while the owner of the second voice, a strong- looking man with a scar across his bare chest, entered the clearing. "It's a shirt," the heavy-set slaver said. "They weren't lying." "Exactly. An angel wouldn't leave a shirt be--" the youngest man started, but the arrow that went through his eye stole his final word. The heavy man jumped backwards; the strong man burst into the jungle in pursuit of whoever shot his friend. And that, Donegal decided, leaves one for me. Screaming the Highlander war cry, Donegal leapt onto the heavy man's back and slammed the knife into his back. The heavy man yelled his pain, and, cursing, he threw Donegal to the ground. Turning, the enraged man, the blade still in his flesh, now leapt for the surgeon. Donegal swiftly rolled to the right, and the husky Beinisonian fell onto the ground. Quick as levin, Donegal drew his Bichanese sword and stabbed again. Again, the man let out a roar more bestial than the Lowenrote's. He sprung to his feet--how can a man that big leap like a deer? Donegal wondered--and charged the leech. Donegal lowered his sword instantly, and, thank Gow, at the right moment. The heavy man impaled himself. Donegal stared, disgusted, at the surprised corpse. After a few minutes, the surgeon mentally shook himself out of his stupor and slid the heavy man from his sword, lest the weight damage the blade. Sighing in relief, Donegal wiped his blade on some nearby vegetation. It was over, aye, and they were successful. All the Beinisonians dead, thanks to him and Richard. Richard! The jungle was silent. "Rich!" Donegal shouted, frantic. "Rich!" The jungle was silent. "*Rich!*" Donegal cried. If he had gotten his best friend killed in this stupid crusade, Donegal would never forgive himself. 1 "Don't get excited," the Baranurian counseled drying, stepping out of the jungle behind the surgeon. "I'm all right." Donegal turned. The statement was true, to a point; Richard was well and whole, but a nasty cut decorated the archer's chest. "Let me take a look at that," Donegal ordered. "Are you all right?" Richard wondered as Donegal scrutinized the wound. "It's just a scratch; don't worry." "You're right, Rich. It isn't bad." But Donegal went to the backpack anyway and returned with some gauze and whisky. "Did you get him?" Donegal asked as he cleaned his friend's wound. "Yes. The arrow hit him right in the heart. The blood was incredible." "How'd you get this, then?" the confused surgeon asked. "You're not going to believe this," Richard warned, "but a tree branch leapt out in front of me, and--" "There's some weird things on this island," Donegal admitted as he finished his task. He capped the whisky flask and looked at his friend. "Now what?" "Well, now that we've finished with the Beinisonians, I thought we might go hunting the tiger," Richard suggested. Donegal, suddenly weary, sank to the ground, but he found himself unable to protest. After Richard had helped him, it seemed to Donegal that he would be unfair or ungrateful to refuse to help Richard. "But I'm tired, too," Richard added, smiling calmly at his old friend. "What do you say we go back to Port of the Sun? We can come back next week; I'm sure that no one will kill the Lowenrote between now and then." "Sounds great," Donegal agreed with all the tired enthusiasm he could muster. He slowly rose, donned his shirt and backpack, and retrieved his knife from the back of the heavy man he had killed. He stared at the corpse for a moment, then said, "Let's take care of one thing first." He bent and severed the head from the body. "What are you doing?" Richard asked, appalled. "Why are you doing it?" "I think the Sun People have a right to know why these--men--aren't coming back," Donegal explained gruffly. "And I'm going to make sure they don't make the same mistake again." Decapitating the Beinisonians took several minutes; Richard consented to return and bring back the head of the young man he had killed. That done, Donegal took the heads by their hair and carried the gruesome bouquet to the celebrating Sun People. Richard thought the surgeon was crazy and told him so, but he followed anyway, to "make sure you don't get yourself killed." So Donegal marched like a conqueror into the clearing; Richard, beside him, carried himself like a grim guard. Within moments, the music died. Fearful questions filled the clearing a moment later. "Where is the interpreter?" Donegal loudly demanded in Beinisonian. The older man with the profusion of feathers and shells decorating his person came forward. Beside him stood a younger man, who spoke. "I am the interpreter. The chief wishes to know why you have done this. Why have you dishonored our tribe by robbing our women of honorable marriage?" "No!" Donegal shouted angrily. "I have saved them from slavery. They weren't going to marry the women; they were going to sell them!" The interpreter turned to the chief and spoke. The chief replied, and the interpreter said, "Why do you suspect this?" "I have seen it!" He pointed to the ugly brand on his forehead, the most dominant feature on his face when he did not choose to cover it. "This was the first thing they would do--burn slavery into their 1faces and into their brains! I, too, was a slave there, and I saw the injustice--the beatings--the rapes--the whippings--the torture! I know! These snakes tricked you! Your women would have been made slaves, sold like animals, made prisoners until they died!" The young man paled and relayed this to the older man. The older man considered. A young woman timidly approached the older man and spoke. The old man muttered something to the interpreter, who again spoke. "If this is so, dark one, you and your companion have done us a great service." "I am not lying," Donegal assured him stubbornly. "I would not make up something so horrible." "We must then give the women to you, since you not only have won them fairly from their purchasers, but since you have also saved them from this misery." Confused, Donegal turned to the archer. Switching to Baranurian, the tongue spoken aboard the Eclipse, Donegal said, "They want us to take the women." Richard half-smiled and considered. "Not a bad deal." "What are we going to do with them?" "Use your imagination," Richard suggested, laughing. "But unfortunately, we can't do it. I can't handle more than five or six at a time, and we'd never get them all in the sailboat, anyway." Donegal looked at the interpreter and shook his head. "We didn't fight for their freedom to take it away again. Let them stay here with you." The interpreter relayed this to his elder, who spoke, and some men came forward bearing bars of gold and silver. The interpreter told the visitors, "You must take something for the deed." Donegal eyed the metals for a moment, then shook his head. "I did this to save them from what I escaped. I want no gold." He turned to Richard and switched once more to the Baranurian tongue. "Do you want some of that?" "For what?" the archer inquired. "For saving the girls." "I didn't do it for money, Donegal." The surgeon smiled gratefully at his friend, then turned back to the chief and the interpreter. "We want nothing," Donegal concluded, but then the aroma of the cooking meat assaulted him. "Except," he continued, "for a piece of meat and a drink of water to refresh us." The interpreter spoke, and two women came forward with meat and drink for the visitors. Donegal spoke their thanks and began to eat timorously. Richard sniffed the meat and started to eat ravenously. "Sun buffalo!" he cheered. He took a long draught of water. "Best meat in this part of the world!" Donegal took a larger bite and found he agreed with the archer; the meat was rather tasty. The Sun People returned to their dancing, singing, and feasting as the visitors ate. "It's nice to see them happy again," Donegal sighed contentedly. He turned to the Baranurian. "Sorry we didn't catch your tiger, Rich." "As I said, the Lowenrote will be here next week." Richard wiped his hands on his leggings, took another draught of water, and retrieved his bow. "We'd better be leaving if we want to reach Port of the Sun at a reasonable hour. Let's go, Donegal." Donegal nodded and faced the chief. "Thank you," the surgeon said. "Good-bye." The chief seemed to understand without the interpreter. He smiled. Donegal waved farewell and followed Richard along the eastward path. "This is the one the Lowenrote led us to," Richard commented. "It 1should come out on the beach, and then we'll just follow it until we reach the sailboat." "Whatever." Donegal smiled tiredly. "What a day." "You do seem to bring excitement wherever you go," Richard teased with a grin. "I've gotten into more scrapes with you..." "Hey," the leech protested good-naturedly, "of course it was exciting. I only came with you because I was bored!" "Bored?" Richard laughed. "Well, that's what you get for seeking adventure, Donegal." "And don't blame me for all those brawls I seem to get into," Donegal continued hotly, glaring jestingly at the archer. "I don't start them." "No, you usually just--holy Stevene!" Richard screamed in a shocked tone which Donegal had never before heard the archer use. "Donegal, look-- " Instinctively, the surgeon dropped, and a knife whizzed over his head. He looked up to see three demons, charred, ugly beings straight from the fires of hell, attacking Richard with fists and blades. Two more of the appalling creatures were running toward him. "Gow!" Donegal screamed for aid and drew his katana. The horrifying man-shape jumped back and circled. The other skirted behind Donegal. "Don't call for his help," the one behind the surgeon taunted him sinisterly. "Gow rarely helps those who use Amante's methods." And the devil leapt onto Donegal's back. The surgeon dropped and rolled, thus pinning the creature under him. But there was the other, coming at him with a short sword. Donegal lifted his legs and kicked as the one underneath him tried to stab him from behind. Again, Donegal rolled a little, pinning one of the ugly thing's knife arm. "Rich!" the surgeon called for his only aid. His only answer was loud crack and a cry of pain. "Rich!" The pinned thing was pummelling Donegal with his free fist; the other charged again. Frantically, Donegal swung his katana. The charger leapt backwards and stumbled. The pinned one was moving, trying to roll. Again, the free one charged. The pinned one sought to roll. In a stroke of inspiration, Donegal stopped fighting and rolled with the monster he had pinned. The thing screamed as its companion buried his short sword in him. The other cursed and took the name of Sanar in vain. Donegal slid from under the body, dragged his Bichanese blade with him, and attacked the fiend facing him. The short sword, Donegal knew, would be no match for his katana, if he were a great fighter. But he wasn't; the dead beast had been right to say Donegal followed Amante's methods. No, Donegal couldn't win a straight fight; he had to strike from behind, use surprise. Well, he was a pirate, after all, not a Knight of the Star. Still, his blade cut his opponent's arm. "Rich!" Donegal called. He couldn't spare a look; the grotesque thing came at him again. What were these things? Donegal managed to leap away from the intended blow and deliver one of his own. He whirled to face his attacker again. From here, he could see Richard. The archer was lying on the ground and using his left hand to wield the cutlass. The bow was nowhere in sight, but one of the demons, an arrow in its belly, lay dead near Richard's feet. With another stroke, Richard killed one of his opponents. "Well done!" Donegal encouraged, sidestepping another attack and aiming a blow at his antagonist's head. Good Sanar, what *were* these ugly, burned things? A blade--Richard's blade--flashed past Donegal's astonished eyes. The surgeon stumbled and fell. The attacker came forward and held his 1sword's point at Donegal's throat. "And now, slave," said the Beinisonian, "you will die." "Rich!" Donegal called, praying for a miracle. "Your friend can't help you," the man-thing laughed cruelly. "Look, slave." Without moving his head, Donegal glanced aside. Another charred being held his blade at Richard's throat. Damn! "Now, slave, say prayers that Sanar will save your soul," snickered the monster, "thought I doubt that slaves--" Giving a bestial roar, a red blur flew over the creature's head. He looked up; Donegal buried his katana in the burnt thing's gut. It fell; Donegal turned to help his friend-- But the other creature was engaged, its throat locked in the teeth of the Red Tiger. Donegal sprinted to Richard's side, lifted the archer's head. "Are you all right?" the surgeon breathed, watching the Lowenrote rend the attacker with teeth and claws. "My arm," Richard answered, his voice stiff with pain. Donegal gently probed Richard's right forearm. "Broken." "Tell me something I don't know," Richard snapped. "Hey," Donegal began, "don't--" The Lowenrote tossed its victim away with a sudden movement. Carefully, deliberately, it approached the men it had saved. "Run!" Richard rasped, shoving Donegal away with his good arm. "She'd catch me, but if she's busy, she'll never catch up with you. Go!" Donegal stood; often the commands in Richard's voice were too powerful to be disobeyed. But the surgeon was still, unsure. The Red Tiger trotted to the pair and paused. Donegal's limbs froze although Richard again was shouting at him to leave. Gingerly, the Lowenrote approached the paralyzed surgeon and began to rub its head against the back of Donegal's hand, much as a pet cat would. Donegal wondered if he would die of the shock. Then the tiger approached Richard and nuzzled the archer's neck. "I'll be damned," Richard said, reaching out and petting the beast. "She wants to be friends. Hello." Donegal was finally able to move; he blinked, then ordered, "Stay put, Rich. I'm going to find something to splint that arm to, and then we'll leave." "Use my bow," Richard suggested, gesturing with his left hand. "It's broken. I'm glad I didn't bring my best one. You like that, don't you?" the archer added, scratching the Lowenrote behind its ears. "You're a good kitty." "I didn't know you liked animals," Donegal laughed, retrieving the bow and its string. He patted the Red Tiger's nose as he approached. He gently reached for Richard's broken arm. "I've always like--damn, that hurts!" "Well, it's going to," Donegal reminded him practically. "I'll set it when we reach Port of the Sun. I don't have everything I need here." Quickly, the surgeon finished the job and offered Richard a hand up. "Let's get going." "I'm with you." Richard stroked the Lowenrote's head, and the tiger purred. "I guess I won't be hunting you anymore. Let's go." Silently, Donegal led the way through the jungle path. After a few minutes, he turned to say something to Richard, but stated instead, "That tiger's following us." Richard turned to the beast. "Go away," the archer commanded gently. "Go on." With a resolute tilt of the head, the tiger nuzzled Richard's leg and trotted after him and Donegal when they moved on. "I don't think it's going," Donegal observed, looking over his 1shoulder. "What are we going to do ?" "Take her with us, I suppose," Richard guessed. He sighed. "I'm not fighting with her." "But a tiger?" Donegal protested. "On the Eclipse?" Richard, his pain still evident, tried to smile. "Hasn't Captain Fynystere been saying we need a cat aboard?" It was near the next dawn when Richard, Donegal, and the Lowenrote--whom Richard gave the original name of Kitty--finally returned to Captain Fynystere's house in Port of the Sun. They had had a hell of a time returning; it was difficult to maneuver the sailboat with only three arms. But luckily, the break had been clean and easy to splint and set. Unfortunately, Donegal rued, it would be six or eight weeks before Richard could teach him to shoot a bow. "You two look like you've been through a battle," Fynystere observed cheerfully when the pair joined him for breakfast. Then he saw the Red Tigress. Fynystere looked briefly nervous, but calmed when Kitty approached him gently and nuzzled his hand. "So I see you got your tiger, Richard." Richard looked at Donegal and smiled. The surgeon grinned back. "Yes, Captain," Donegal answered, "and we managed to hunt us a whole pack of wolves, too." ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 A Night off the Town by M. Wendy Hennequin (b.c.k.a ) "Homesick?" a gentle voice wondered, causing the red-soaked paintbrush to fly from Gaoel Fynystere's steady hand to the newly cleaned deck. The captain of the Eclipse whirled and stared into the serenely amused face of his bowmaster. Richard just Richard smiled. "It's a nice painting," the archer commented, gazing critically at the nearly complete representation of the night-shrouded city of Dargon. Only the Regehr, the red north-pointing star which would crown the port city like a glowing ruby, remained uncolored. "You're back early," the captain finally noted, retrieving his paintbrush. "Is something wrong, Richard?" The bowmaster squatted beside his old friend. "Plenty, but it will keep, Gaoel. It can't touch us here off the town." "Nothing can touch us," the captain noted smugly, cleaning the brush so that he could complete the painting. Fynystere dipped the brush, smiling wickedly as he thought of the Eclipse's reputation. Not only could no one touch the Eclipse or her crew, but no one would dare. "Nothing but our own souls," Richard replied, sighing. "It is a beautiful painting, Gaoel." "It's a beautiful night." Fynystere looked fondly at the moon-shadowed city with a thousand flickering eyes, with a mantle of stars such as Alana the Night Goddess, the figurehead of the Eclipse, would wear. Fynystere dabbed the Regehr above Dargon with blood-red color. "Mind telling me why you're back so early on a beautiful night like this?" "You know I don't raise living and dead on shore leave like Donegal and Cedric do." "But you generally like Dargon," the captain pointed out, delicately touching the canvas. "I do like Dargon," Richard confirmed. "Are you almost done, Gaoel?" Fynystere smiled at Richard's abrupt change in subject; it was typical of the bowmaster. "Aye, just." Fynystere washed the brush in a cup of seawater. Richard rose and lifted the painting. "She'll hang beside the Eclipse," Fynystere decided aloud. He folded the easel and closed the small chest full of paints. "Luen, take the watch!" Fynystere bellowed, and he turned to the archer. "Well, Rich, if you aren't going to drink on shore, you'll drink with me." "Aye, captain." Fynystere led the way in the dark to his cabin below. Richard opened the door for his friend, and the captain, after gently setting the paint chest in the corner, lit the hellfire lamp. Richard set the painting against the wall and took the spare seat. "Drink, Rich?" "I'll pour," the bowmaster offered, taking a folded paper out of a pouch. "You read." Fynystere took the letter eagerly, broke his family's seal, and scanned the neat handwriting anxiously. He frowned. "Xandra's still missing," he announced, anger and frustration in his voice. "Gaoel," Richard said gently, pouring the whiskey, "I don't think you'll ever see your sister again." "If she's dead, I'll kill that God-damned Duke!" "That will only get you killed," Richard noted, and as usual, his logic was irrefutable. "Here, drink." Fynystere took the goblet absently. "It always amazes me that you only blame the Duke of Dargon. Your sister did participate, you know." 1 "Aye, but Xandra didn't refuse to acknowledge the child or cut the Duke off from her. Damn that ass! He's probably the one who scared her out of Dargon in the first place. If it weren't for Fionn Connall, the Duke might have had her killed." "Clifton Dargon? Hardly," Richard laughed. "I know Dargon has an overblown sense of honor, but it isn't *that* extreme." Fynystere started to grunt, but he forgot the sound in the words of the letter. "My God!" When Richard failed to speak, the captain looked at him concern in his eyes. "Rich, there's war! Beinison's attacked us!" "I know," Richard said calmly. "I heard at the Rogue and Quiver, and while I was waiting for your letter, I went to Belisandra's to find out what I could about it. It's rather interesting." "Interesting?" Fynystere scoffed, kicking a chair toward him and sitting firmly in it. "War is always interesting," Richard returned mildly. "Not when you're in it!" "I beg to differ," Richard replied with formality that was only half-mocking. "We war against ships, and I've never heard you declare it boring." "This isn't the same." "Perhaps," Richard acknowledged. Fynystere took the drink Richard had poured him and scowled at the bowmaster. "So, you went to Belisandra's. Why?" Richard nodded. "As I suspected, some of the Duke's men and Connall archers were there." The bowmaster frowned. "They knew the entire romance. It's rather complicated, but the end of it is that Beinison has executed the Count of Connall and attacked Pyridain." "They killed Fionn Connall?" the captain screeched, thinking of the man who had protected his sister, who had helped Gaoel escape the city after he had clouted Connall's brother, the Duke. "No, they killed Luthias Connall," Richard clarified. "Fionn Connall and his other son--Roisart, I think his name was--were murdered last Melrin." "Murdered?" Fynystere let his breath out in a low whistle. "Sweet Randiriel. And now what?" "Well," Richard began, taking a deep breath and raising his cup to his mouth, "the Knight Commander is fighting them off in Pyridain, and this duchy's getting ready for an attack on the Laraka River." "The Laraka? What for?" Richard swallowed his liquor and stared at his captain in disbelief. "Gaoel, come on! They're after Magnus! The Laraka's Magnus' lifeline." Fynystere pondered the information. "I suppose you're right, Rich, but you would know better than I." Richard laughed and set the goblet aside. "Would I?" "You are from Magnus, after all." Richard leaned forward suddenly. "What makes you think that?" This time, Fynystere was laughing. "Wake up, Rich! Every time you open your mouth, you announce that you're from Magnus! You have one of the most pronounced Magnus accents I've ever heard!" "I don't have an accent. *You* have an accent." The captain wiped his eyes and caught his breath, but when he looked at his bowmaster, he was still smiling. "Enough, Richard: I have the accent, but you are still from Magnus." The archer folded his lips. "Yes," he agreed stiffly. Fynystere burst into laughter once more. "Calm down, Rich. It's the only thing I've found out about you in thirteen years." The bowmaster sighed and agreed. "You keep your secrets more close than any man I've ever known." Richard gave his captain a serious look. 1"Well, what about the war? When do they expect the attack on Shark's Cove? How is it faring in Pyridain?" "They expect the Shark's Cove attack to arrive in Yule, and despite the morale of the House Dargon troops and the Connall archers, it isn't going well in Pyridain at all." "Yule?!" Fynystere slammed the goblet on a small table. "Yule?! Sanar and Stevene, what the hell are they thinking of? Yule? It isn't that far! And besides, from the south--the seas are fairly calm--Naia, Rich, Melrin at the latest!" The captain exploded to his feet and stared wildly at Richard. "You say it's bad in Pyridain?" The bowmaster nodded once. "How bad?" The bowmaster shrugged and looked at his old friend mildly. "I don't have numbers." Fynystere punched a wall. "Damn you by all the gods, Richard! Will we win?" Richard settled into his chair calmly. "God knows. No one here does." Fynystere snatched the discarded, fallen letter, opened it, read it, and again looked at Richard wildly. "That's it, Richard. I have to do something." Richard was silent. The captain of the Eclipse crossed the room nervously. He came to his trunk and threw it open. "Not much here," he assessed nervously. "It's enough." He shut the chest soundly. "They may not think me much of a captain, but I'll be better than the incompetent whoreson who thinks that the Beinison navy won't be here till bloody Yule!" Suddenly, the captain whirled. Still and silent, Richard watched him placidly. "What's wrong with you? Aren't you even concerned? Rich, you own half this ship, and I'm leaving!" Richard smiled slightly. "Why are you leaving, Gaoel?" "My *country's* under attack, you jack-ass! Do you think I can leave my people here, my family, to get butchered by Beinisonian curs?" "Do you think you will help them by leaving the Eclipse?" "Curse you!" Fynystere screamed. "Of course I will! I'll join the Royal Navy, and they'll make me a captain. I won't let those heathen Beinisonians touch my land." The captain scowled at his guest. "You're not even concerned that I'm leaving." "Nay, I'm not," Richard confirmed quietly, "because you're not going." "I tell you--" "Sit down and listen," Richard ordered, and without really knowing why, Fynystere obeyed. There were times when one obeyed Richard, rank notwithstanding. "You are not going back to Dargon, Gaoel. You can't." "Why can't I?" "We'll put aside the fact for the moment that Clifton Dargon will have you killed on sight," Richard began calmly, "but Dargon's Admiral of the Fleet. Do you think you have a chance of a commission?" "What? But he's a Knight!" "I know," Richard agreed wryly. "It's very strange." "I wouldn't go to Dargon." "Fine," Richard concurred for sake of the arguement. "And what would you do on one ship? How could you protect your family? You couldn't. You'd go where they tell you, do what they tell you. You're likely to get killed. The Beinisonian Navy is nothing to laugh at, and you know it." "Of course I know it," the captain responded contemptuously. "But I'll have hellfire--" The bowmaster's eyes burned as blue and hot as the hellfire he 1invented. "You will *not* have hellfire!" Richard thundered, and there was no room for arguement in his voice. "Hellfire is mine and Donegal's, and by my God and all of his, it will *not leave this ship!*" Fynystere frowned, greatly displeased. "I can't just do nothing!" "I'm not saying that you should do nothing. But the fact remains, Gaoel: you hurt your family and your kingdom more by leaving the Eclipse than by staying with her." "What are you suggesting I do then?" the captain asked with angry stiffness. Richard leaned forward, his face serious. "Gaoel, this is the most powerful ship a-sail. You know that. We have a fine crew, and we have hellfire. We can sink anything Beinison has afloat, and we can afford to leave the Baranurian navy alone." "A personal crusade?" "Why not?" Richard countered, smiling again and leaning back. "If we still go after the merchant ships, the crew will be content." "I don't think the Beinisons aboard will like this, Richard," the captain muttered, reaching for his drink, but internally, Fynystere was relieved. Despite the fact that Clifton Dargon had deserved that blow to the face in his court for deserting Xandra, Fynystere truly had no wish to deal with him again. Richard abruptly threw back his blond head and laughed loudly. "Gaoel, are you jesting with me? 'The Beinisonians aboard won't like this'? Donegal, whom they enslaved? Albar, whom they branded for worshiping Cephas Stevene instead of Gow and Sanar? Use your sense, man!" Fynystere thought about and smiled; Richard was, again, right. The captain sat back thoughtfully. "So," Fynystere said, "we leave the Baranurian navy alone and sink anything belonging to Beinison. It might work; it might help." He looked at his bowmaster earnestly. "Do you really think it would work?" "I think it's the best we can do, you and I." Fynystere laughed and poured himself more liquor. "You're right, Rich. You always are." The captain quaffed his drink, then looked searchingly at his old friend. "How did you know?" "Know what?" Richard wondered. "Know what I'd do, and how to talk me out of it." "Well, I know you," Richard explained uncertainly, "and as for my talking you out of it--well, I'd already had the arguement once tonight." "Really? With who?" Fynystere asked, avid curiousity shining from his eyes. "With myself." The bowmaster sighed as if he had a world oppressing his soul. "I realized I'd do my family--and my country--more harm than good if I returned." "Hmm." For lack of any better action, Fynystere buried his nose in his cup. As much as he wanted more information, Fynystere didn't dare break his own rules and question Richard about his past. "I couldn't leave the Eclipse anyway," Richard breathed, settling into the comfortable chair. "It's like home to me, and I have no other--and no one else." "You mentioned family," Fynystere reminded him. "A brother," Richard confirmed, "and if he were in danger--" The bowmaster stopped, clouds in his blue eyes. "You'd leave?" "Leave?" The archer gave a short, barking laugh. "I'd take the Eclipse with me. Believe me, Gaoel, I'd need all the help I could get. But as it is, I think he's well protected." "Hmm," the captain muttered again. "Here, Rich, have another 1drink." The captain tossed the skin to Richard, who caught it deftly. "And tell me one more thing about tonight before we drink ourselves senseless, Richard." "What's that?" "How did you know that the Dargon House troops and the Connall archers would be at Belisandra's Tavern?" "It's a popular retreat of both companies when they're in town," Richard hedged as dexterously as he caught the skin. "Aye, and how'd you find that out?" the captain demanded, his hazel eyes sparkling. The bowmaster looked away. "Come on, Rich, or by J'mirg--" "Ask no questions, Gaoel," Richard threatened. A dim sun dawned in Fynystere's clouded consciousness. "You were in Dargon before you joined us." "Aye." Richard inhaled heavily and took another drink. "I trained as an archer in Connall." The archer suddenly smiled. "Those days are gone with your merchanting, Gaoel. Let's drink." ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 ** ************ *** *********** **** **** ********* *** **** *********** **** ** *** ** *** *** *** ** *** *** **** ** ***** *** *** *** *** **** *** **** ****** *** ******** ****** ******** **** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** **** ******* *** *** *** *** *** *** ** *** *** **** ********* ***** **** **** ********* **** *** **** *** *** **** ** *** *** ------------------- **** *** ****** ***** The Online Magazine *********** ****** ***** of Amateur Creative Writing ************ --------------------------- Athene is a free network "magazine" devoted to amateur fiction written by the members of the online community. Athene is not limited to any specific genre, but will publish quality short stories dealing with just about any interesting topic. The magazine is published monthly, and comes in two formats -- ASCII and PostScript. The content is identical across both formats, but the PostScript version is designed for printing on laser printers while the ASCII edition can be read online as well as printed. To subscribe, send mail (no interactive messages, please) to: Jim McCabe MCCABE@MTUS5.BITNET Please indicate which format (ASCII or PostScript) you prefer to to receive. Back issues, an index, and submission information are also available upon request. 1 QQQQQ tt QQ QQ tttttt QQ QQ uu uu aaaa nnnn tt aaaa QQ QQ uu uu aa aa nn nn tt aa aa QQ QQ uu uu aa aa nn nn tt aa aa QQQQQQ uuu aaaaa nn nn tt aaaaa QQQ ______________________________________ A Journal of Fact, Fiction and Opinion ______________________________________ Quanta is an electronically distributed magazine of science fiction. Published monthly, each issue contains short fiction, articles and editorials by authors around the world and across the net. Quanta publishes in two formats: straight ascii and PostScript* for PostScript compatible printers. To subscribe to Quanta, or just to get more info, send mail to: da1n@andrew.cmu.edu da1n@andrew.bitnet Quanta is a relatively new magazine but is growing fast, with over two hundred subscribers to date from seven different countries. Electronic publishing is the way of the future. Become part of that future by subscribing to Quanta today. 1------------------------------------------------------------------------ (C) Copyright May 1990, DargonZine, Editor Dafydd . All rights revert to the authors. These stories may not be reproduced or redistributed save in the case of reproducing the whole 'zine for further distribution without the express permission of the author involved.

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