Ackanomic - Ye Olde Rusty Lantern

YORL is governed by rule 1250.18

-- /dev/joe has won (3 Ale)

"So, was I correct?"

Golki looked up from the scroll to Welecta. "As always."

The High Priest smiled. "So there is only one segment of the Cryspark Testament left unfulfilled."

"And it looks to be the hardest of the lot," Golki commented. "I thought it would be hard to get all the merchants in the city of Anigol to lower their prices for a month, but we managed that. The Archdruid was killed by his own chief followers, which I never would have credited, but it happened. An island rose up out of the sea in the middle of Ulvaga Bay, and another sank in the Ghejaala Archipelago.

"But Rishent and Solgrai have been, if not at war, certainly not at peace, for as long as I can remember. Further, the Princess holds a personal grudge against the Solgrai noble family since their King had her mother killed by sorcery. How will we possibly get her to marry one of them?"

"Leave that to me."

by Alfvaen, June 12th, 1997; play: prophecy (loose end)

Stutim shivered in the cold. He could never remember a winter this bad. Although Rishent was the northernmost of the civilized kingdoms, normally by now the warm foehn wind had blown at least once, melting the ice and snow that piled in the streets and rooftops, keeping him from performing his normal occupation. Not to mention that windows stayed closed more, and purses tended to be hidden under fur-lined cloaks. No, on the whole winter was a bad time to be a thief.

Amilara had always said his father must have been Solgrai, and it was certainly true that he saw few Solgrai walking about in the winter. Not that there were many Solgrai in the city at all, with the feud between the two nations. And Stutim also had that curly red hair which was more common in the south.

At least the temples were still open, and while not all of them welcomed common riffraff like himself, he could probably grab a few hours of warmth at least before they kicked him out. That fat old priest was finally turning his back to the door while he swept the snow from in front, and Stutim gathered himself to run forward and slip inside.

And he would have made it too, if his foot hadn't slipped and sent him crashing straight into the priest.

by Alfvaen, June 14th, 1997; play: ice (burned)

"You're sure?"

The priest nodded vigorously. "Most sure, O High Priest. He fits the description perfectly. Even to the birthmark on his back, which he seems quite unaware of."

Welecta nodded. "I always thought there was a bastard or two running around, and as I read the prophecy, they will satisfy the conditions perfectly. But just to be you know if he is married?"

The priest blinked. "Married?"

"He must be unmarried. If he has been...then he is of no use to us. The first thing you must do is find out."

As the priest scurried away, Welecta considered the rest of his plan. The Princess was slowly being turned away from all the eligible suitors. Her romantic streak and headstrong nature made her all too easily controllable. This Stutim, with his romantic past, all that her parents would forbid her in a mate, would be irresistible to her. Now all that he needed, should the thief prove a bachelor, was to bring them together.

by Alfvaen, June 17th, 1997; play: bachelor (burned)
This play was denied for mentioning only the possibility of bachelorhood

Stutim awoke, dazed, finding himself lying on the floor inside the temple.

A young priest approached him, with a bandage clearly intended to replace the one he now noticed was wrapped around his head. The priest removed the bloody bandage and cleaned the cut. "Ah, good to see you awake. You took a pretty nasty spill out there, but your only serious injury is this gash on your forehead. You fared much better than Father Favnale, whose leg -- now broken -- prevented you from splitting your head completely open on the edge of our door. By the way, my name's Duncan." Duncan wrapped the new bandage around Stutim's head, and left him to rest.

A short while later, Duncan returned with a tray of food. Stutim gratefully accepted the meal. While he ate, Duncan said to him, "If you feel up to walking a bit, our High Priest would like to speak with you a bit after you finish your meal." Stutim worried somewhat about this, but agreed anyway, finished devouring his simple meal, and followed Duncan.

Duncan introduced Stutim to the High Priest, Welecta. Welecta spoke in a deep, hearty voice: "I'm told you've got a reputation of being a thief!" Stutim shuddered, regretting he didn't just run away after the meal. In a quiet voice, he finally managed to utter, "Yes, some say that." Welecta grinned. "In particular, you're accused of being the one who tried unsuccessfully to steal the Nives Diamond last summer, and so narrowly escaped." Stutim noticed that the young priest had locked the one door to the chamber with a key. "You've caught me. I surrender."

by /dev/joe, June 21th, 1997; play: accusation (burned)
This play was interrupted with broken (burned) by Alfvaen

Welecta laughed. "Don't be so suspicious, my young friend! The Examiners are not on their way. I just thought you should know that I am fully aware of the skill you possess."

Stutim relaxed slightly, but not much. Welecta looked a bit out of shape, so that really just left Duncan, who'd left the key in an easily-accessible pocket. There were probably temple guards outside the door, but they wouldn't be expecting anything. On the other hand, there were rumours of dark magics that the High Priests had at their command. He'd go along with it for now. At least he was warm.

"I have a job for you," Welecta continued.

Stutim sighed. He knew it would come to this. "What do you want me to steal, and from whom?"

"Oh, I don't want you to steal anything." Welecta opened a small box beside his chair and drew forth a ring adorned with a diamond that was smaller than the Nives Diamond, but only just. "I want you to put this on the pillow of the Princess."

by Alfvaen, June 24th, 1997; play: diamond (loose end)

"I should just take the diamond and get out of town," Stutim thought as he waited for the gap in the vigilance of the Palace guards that Welecta had predicted. So far the High Priest had been 100% on the mark. Maybe that was why Stutim hadn't tested his assurance that his dark magic would find Stutim if he tried to flee.

He made it over the wall, the new leather gloves finding purchase easily even through the ice. He was safely esconced in the snow-laden branches of a big spruce tree by the time the guards made their next pass, and only a few flakes of snow had fallen to the ground to mark his passage.

From there, through the branches of other trees and up icy walls, he made it easily to within sight of the Princess's window. However, as he crouched as far out on one branch as he dared, there were still twenty feet separating him and it. Taking a deep breath, he moved back a few feet on the branch, then gathered himself and made a running leap.

Maybe his foot slipped on the snowy branch; maybe the warm garments Duncan had provided hadn't kept out enough of the chill. Maybe it was just too far. But he knew by the midpoint of his leap that he wasn't going to make it. Desperately, he flung his hands upward and his feet forward, just barely managing to catch the window ledge as he tried to cushion his impact against the wall. After a few seconds to catch his breath, he managed to pull his face level with the ledge.

by Alfvaen, June 26th, 1997; play: ledge (burned)
Alfvaen passed on June 28th; it became /dev/joe's turn

Stutim peeked into the room. It looked empty, so he pulled himself up through the window, and carefully climbed into the room without disturbing the bookshelves inside the room below the window.

He pulled the ring out of a pocket inside his heavy coat, and again thought about keeping the ring instead of leaving such a valuable treasure behind. However, another thought passed through his mind when he looked back at the window which would most certainly also have to serve as his exit, so Stutim delivered the ring to the Princess's pillow as requested.

"Rich people, and royalty especially, always have jewels hidden somewhere," Stutim thought. "Fake books are a very popular choice." Stutim wasn't much of a fan of reading, but being an experienced thief from a family of thieves, he knew what to look for. He scanned the two shelves with their total of about 30 books, and quickly found the title that didn't belong. "Surely the princess wouldn't have a chemistry book without any other technical books whatsoever, unless it was a hiding place." He opened the book and as expected, found that most of the pages had been cut in the middle, and inside was a necklace studded with dozens of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and various other gems.

Stutim put the necklace in his pocket, returned the book to the shelf, and prepared to leave.

by /dev/joe, June 28th, 1997; play: corruption (burned)

Stutim climbed into the window again and noticed a problem with his plan to exit this way. He was in a third-story window, and the tree he jumped from was twenty feet away. He could neither safely jump down nor leap out to the tree. He would have to find another way out. Welecta had provided him with a rough idea of the layout of the interior of the palace and approximate directions to a back exit from the basement.

Stutim moved to the doorway and peered carefully down the hall before leaving the room. As he stepped quietly down the hallway, a piercing voice behind him yelled out "Stop! Thief!"

"I should have checked that the princess wasn't hiding somewhere before I left the room," Stutim thought, as his quiet amble down the hall became a full run. He could hear at least one guard somewhere on the floor coming to intercept him. He made it to the stairwell, and down to the ground floor where he needed to go some 50 feet to the basement stairs. However, he didn't make it that far. As he exited the stairwell, a burly guard waiting for him clubbed him on the back of the head.

Stutim awoke hours later in the basement he was headed for, but locked in a cell.

by /dev/joe, July 1st, 1997; play: betrayal (burned)
This play was interrupted with voices (burned) by Vynd
This play tied off the loose end diamond; /dev/joe received an ale

Stutim was understandably less than pleased with his latest predicament. The cell was small, cold, and dark. Furthermore, his head hurt, a lot. Still, he wasn't dead yet.

With that thought, the Stutim heard a key in the lock. The door opened to reveal a giant of a man, 7 feet if he was an inch, clad in a heavy leather apron. Without a word, he grabbed Stutim by the arm and dragged him down the hall.

Stutim knew he was in deep trouble, but it wasn't until they entered the torture chamber that he realized just how bad things might be getting. Besides the usual array of electric devices and cabinets of drugs, there was a fireplace full of hot irons prominent in the room, and even something that looked suspiciously like a rack in one corner.

There was an older man in the room, in the uniform of a State Security officer. He watched while the huge man, a torturer, Stutim realized, strapped him into a chair.

"Look! I'll tell you everything! There's no need fo..." Stutim's head was knocked to the side as the torturer crushed into it with his fist. As Stutim groaned, and spat out teeth, the officer laughed, "I don't care why you did it,nor do I care for wild stories of being forced into to crime by poverty or sick children or what have you! I have my own plans for you, and by the time we are through, you'll be more than happy to oblige me."

by Vynd, July 5th, 1997; play: teeth (burned)
This play was interrupted with savage (burned) by Mohammed

They burned him, branded him, and pierced his skin with needles. They hung him upside down. The State officer beat him with a pipe. But the one screaming, terrifying memory, the one thing he would do anything in the world to avoid, was kept in a tiny black bottle around the officer's neck. The one time that bottle had opened, there was a monstrous noise of carnassial teeth. The officer had allowed a single drop of the liquid inside to fall from the lip of the bottle onto Stutim's chest. He had never felt-- never imagined-- such pain, and he screamed long after his voice was gone.

He blacked out from pain, awoke to pain, again and again. Days passed. In his agony, he could only wonder: Why, why were they doing this? What could they possibly want?

The officer whispered in his ear. "Rise, you rust-headed dog." Stutim rose to one knee, but could not make it further. It was freezing here. He opened one eye and saw that he was outside, in a thin forest of pines. "Here is your task. You will proceed toward the setting sun until you reach the side entrance of a white marble temple. Go in, and insist upon being healed by the High Priest himself." Fear and hope swept over Stutim. Which temple? Was this policeman unaware of his dealings with Welecta? Were they really going to release him?

"None of my men would ever get in to see him," the officer mumbled, pulling on a pair of thick, black gloves, "but your red hair, Solgrai scum, will be your ticket. That spy should be dying for a messenger by now, since I've killed the last four..."

by Mohammed, July 8th, 1997; play: woods or trees (burned)
This play was interrupted with fear (burned) by Vynd

The old gypsy watched from high in the treetops as the battered Solgraite staggered off towards the city, with the threats off Director Stark chasing him down the path.

"So," he thought, "It's time." He shivered, although he was bundeled against the cold, and then clambered off through the canopy towards the camp.

"So it is Stark?" said Brusari.

"Yes, as we had feared it would be. These things have a way of finding the... best equiped, for the job. The Messenger looked like he would have been better off dead, when Stark sent him on his way." Jhonis shivered again. "I don't mind telling you, I had been hoping that our calculations were off, and that this dread curse would pass us by, to trouble some other generation."

"That was a false hope, the signs were unmistakable. I don't blame you though, even if we suceed, we will be lucky to come out of this sane, or alive." Brusari stirred the fire. "Still, we have been preparing all our lives... in a way it feels good to know that it will soon be over with, one way or another."

"Well, the Messenger is well on his way back to that awful Priest," said Jhonis. "I have several men watching him, although Stark's security men are going to make that difficult. We should know when he arrives, and then our parts in this monstrosity will really begin."

by Vynd, July 10th, 1997; play: gypsy (loose end)

Stutim raced through the cold air as quickly as his aching body could carry him. The exercise was somewhat painful, but welcome after days (weeks perhaps?) of confinement.

As he staggered onwards, Stutim gradually became more aware of his surroundings. He recognized now, in the rapidly dimming light, that he was not too far from the city, perhaps a few miles, with the road curving in along the river and then heading straight into the city, right along his path. It wasn't the main road though, running straight to the palace, but rather a secondary one that, while straight, eventually dead ended at... the Plaza of the Faithful. Stutim had little doubt as to which temple would be staring him in the face once he got there.

Stutim soon realized he wasn't the only one heading into the city. There was quite a crowd, a mob, even, on the main road in the distance. He could tell it was a mob, because they were carrying pitchforks and torches and whatnot. From the sound of things, they weren't the only mob around, gunfire rattled from inside the city.

Stutim was within sight of the walls now, and was starting to have second thoughts. But when he slowed to a walk, some security men quickly appeared, and hurried him to the gate.

The gate was locked, and heavily guarded, two things Stutim hadn't ever seen before. They seem to be expected though, and the gate creaked open to allow him through.

by Vynd, July 14th, 1997; play: pitchfork (burned)

Just as Stutim wsa passing through the gate, one of his escorts screamed and collapsed to the ground.

"Sniper!" shouted an officer. "Everyone do.." he crumpled to the ground, bleeding from the throat. Stutim started to run down the street as the security men, there were real military troops as well, Stutim realized, started firing into the darkness outside the city.

Stutim's instincts were better than those of the soldiers, he had gone barely a block when a thunderous explosion rocked the gate, blasting one of the doors off it's hinges and throwing him to the ground. Through the smoke and flames, Stutim could see armed men advancing towards the gate. He got up and ran even faster.

Panting and in pain, Stutim reached the Temple. This district of the city seemed relatively calm, perhaps because of the large burnt out area he had passed through on his way. However long he had been gone, things had gotten very bad in the meantime.

No sooner had Stutim reached the door than he was ushered inside by temple guardsmen. They led him, mutely, far into the inner sanctum, until finally they reached Welecta's private chambers and left him.

Welecta stood in the doorway. "Ah, finaly you have returned. I *knew* you would, of course, but the wait was getting tiresome. Do come in, my dear boy, we have much to talk about..." Stutim, too tired to think, followed him in. He saw the Princess standing in a corner, staring blankly at the diamond ring on her hand. "What the..." Stutim whirled, but too late. Welecta whaped him across the head with a desk lamp, and the much abused Stutim collapsed into darkness.

by Vynd, July 18th, 1997; play: desk lamp (burned)

Stutim groaned, and tried to sit up. He couldn't though, seeing as how he was hog-tied.

Welecta chuckled. "Ah, you're back with us again, well, with me anyway, the Princess hasn't been with it for awhile now."

Stutim managed to turn his face away from the wall. The first thing he saw was the Princess, still staring at the diamond. She was drooling. Next to her was Welecta, in some sort of elaborate, and vaguely sinister, regalia. And behind him was... err...

It was very big, extremely big. It looked like it was asleep, since it's eyes were closed, all three of them. Rather an odd number, since it had three heads, but there he was pretty sure they were eyes anyway...

Welecta turned to face It. He bowed low, in the direction of the left hand head, and exclaimed, "Hail, Zoorgandothram! The sacred hour aproaches! Soon, Solgrai and Rishnet will be re-unified, the Emperor will be crowned, and then, you shall feast on the weak and unworthy of the world!"

by Vynd, July 22nd, 1997; play: three-headed (loose end)
This play was interrupted with behemoth (burned) by Mohammed

The behemoth remained lifeless, but when the High Priest turned back from it, his expression betrayed not a hint of disappointment.

At that moment, an abyssal blast of thunder struck the temple. The air was charged for a moment, as various enchantments strained to keep the edifice whole. Two acolytes rushed into the room from a doorway Stutim couldn't see. "Holiness! The Solgraites are bombarding the temple! The city is lost!"

"All is as planned, my children," Welecta assured them. "Go tell everyone in the temple to escape into the catacombs. Take the uz Maraat with you when you leave. Scatter yourselves beneath the city. We shall arise at the hour of our triumph. It is not long now."

The acolytes bowed and hurried from the room, as another blast shook the temple. Welecta smiled again as his mind played over his brilliant new plan. Now his own part was reduced to a few minutes' melodrama, and the marriage would fall into his hands. He wrenched his face into a sinister sneer and took the princess's hand. Carelessly, he snatched the ring from her finger.

The princess yelped and looked about her in shock. "My dear, beautiful princess," cackled Welecta. "I see you couldn't resist my little gift." He waved the ring at her, then tossed it over his shoulder. "Now we shall visit my private chamber, where I shall extract your gift to me in exchange-- your Vital Essence!" The princess tried to bolt, but Welecta grabbed her arm, roaring in evil laughter. Stutim watched gravely, helplessly, understanding nothing, as Welecta dragged her from the room.

by Chaos, July 27th, 1997; play: cunning (burned)
This play was interrupted (denied) with cave (burned) by /dev/joe
Chaos was declared asleep August 4th ThinMan was declared asleep August 9th

Stutim finally recovering from the nasty whack on his head made an audible gron while rubbing the back of his neck. "By Arthur's sword, Im in a pigsnout of trouble" he declared as he saw the giantBehemoth staring at him from the other side of the room, licking his trio of chops.

The walls of the temple were crashing about him to add to the grimness of the situation. Being the surreptitious thief he is, Stutim fingered nimbly through the folds of his thief's Cloak for anything that may aid him, his agile fingers came across the necklace he had appropriated From the princesses room, not much use against a giant threeheaded behemoth staring him down, But something told him to put it on.

As he slipped it over his neck the monster let out a tremendous Roar which sounded inquisitive "Rraaarrggg-uh?" wondering himself what brought it about He looked down to examine himself and saw nothing "Im invisible!" he cried with glee. The monster charged towards the sound of the voice and Stutim easily dodged him. Thinking he'd be better off remaining silent his mind turned to the princess and Welecta who's Cacle could still be heard faintly down the escape tunnel, with new found confidence and the fact That the palace was falling to pieces he stealthily ran down the same escape route welecta And his new found prize went.

by Karma, August 10th, 1997; play: invisible (burned)
Karma's play on August 16th of wind-up was denied because of length

The tunnel Welecta and the princess had fled into sloped downward into the bowels of the temple, where the sounds of collapse started to fade away. Stutim was glad--he wouldn't want to be trapped down here.

As he thought that, he heard grinding noises from behind him, and the triple howls of the behemoth Welecta had called Zoorgandothram. He cursed; the beast must be following him into the tunnel, and since it would only barely fit, it would cause more damage to the catacombs' structure as it did so. He could only hope for a passage so narrow that it would get jammed therein.

Unfortunately, it opened out into a large cavern, larger than Stutim would have expected; he didn't think he'd gone that far down. Furthermore, there was a large chasm before him, spanned only by a narrow rock bridge. He halted momentarily, then leapt forward, a desperate plan coming to him as he heard the behemoth getting nearer.

The bridge was indeed narrow, but he'd walked ledges ten times narrower. And obviously Welecta and the princess had made it across. Stutim reached the other side just as Zoorgandothram entered the cavern. Its head was lowered to sniff the ground, and Stutim realized it was hunting him by scent. Soon it had reached the bridge, and stepped carefully out onto the narrow span.

by Alfvaen, August 20th, 1997; play: bridge (burned)

As Stutim had hoped, the bridge proved too frail for the three-headed beast. As it reached the middle of the span, the arch cracked underneath its weight. It roared, and scrabbled frantically for a grip on the remains of the bridge--even its arms couldn't reach the edge of the chasm--but the rock crumbled away, and it plummeted downward, its scream something Stutim hoped he never heard again as long as he lived.

Maybe it was the bridge's disintegration, or the damage wreaked on the tunnel by the creature's passage, or even some trap set by Welecta as he fled, but Stutim started to feel dirt raining down on his head. The cavern was collapsing around him.

He started to run for the large tunnel that was doubtless whither Welecta had fled, but its roof seemed no more stable than the cavern's, and he halted when he saw a head-sized rock fall ten feet in front of him. Looking wildly around, he saw a narrow tunnel, barely more than a crack in the rock, and seeing no better alternative, he squeezed himself into it.

The sounds of the cave-in mercifully receded, and soon he noticed an odd light source ahead of him. He emerged into a large room filled with a huge variety of oddly-shaped fungus, some of it glowing. His stomach reminded him how long it had been since he last ate. He grabbed a handful of mushrooms that exuded an oddly sweet odour, and crammed them into his mouth.

It only took a few minutes for his surroundings to fade from his awareness.

by Alfvaen, August 25th, 1997; play: mushroom (burned)
This play tied off the loose end three-headed; Alfvaen received an ale

Brusari did not know how long he had been sitting before the fire, inhaling the sweet-smelling _sroth_ smoke that came from the herbs that Jhonis was crumbling into the flames. While some small part of his mind was still sitting by the fire, most of it had crossed over into the dreamtime.

The dreamtime was a harsh and jagged place right now, with the war and rioting. But underneath that there was the building force that Jhonis had become aware of only a few days earlier, a tension that would soon release a burst of energy from the dreamtime into the real world. The fulfillment of the prophecy written in the Cryspark Testament.

So Brusari almost missed the Messenger's arrival at first. First of all, he had entered the dreamtime through the wilder fringes, which was a mixed blessing. Most of the cityfolk came into the dreamtime with their minds closed, fixed on themselves, because they knew it was not real. Or they came in through their hard city drugs, and didn't think that anything was real. But as Brusari neared the Messenger, traveling through the dreamtime's non-distance, he saw that the Messenger was aware of himself and his surroundings. He had used a natural drug, then, that only stripped away the self's preconceptions.

"Greetings, Messenger," Brusari said. "Life is long, but time is short. Luckily, here it is life's hourglass that turns for us. Follow me."

by Alfvaen, August 31st, 1997; play: dream (burned)
Alfvaen was declared asleep September 13th, 1997

"Messenger..." Stutim repeated the way he was addressed, while trying to recall the last time he had heard himself referred to in this way. He winced in memory of the pain when he remembered that it was in the dungeon of the castle, as he was being released; the officer's last words to him before he was released were, "That spy should be dying for a messenger by now..."

He spoke to the strange who had addressed him in this way. "If you know me as the messenger, you must be the spy."

"You could call me a spy," Brusari said.

Stutim's attention drifted to the other obvious question in his mind. "Where am I? It seems to me that only moments ago I was in a collapsing cavern."

"You were. In fact, you still are. This is the dreamtime - another plane all are capable of entering, but few are capable of living in because their minds are not open, not willing to accept it. Come -- towards the smoke. You can use the dreamtime to travel through realspace, to escape the cavern before it collapses entirely."

Stutim followed Brusari back into the smoke, and moments later found himself before the fire that produced this sweet-smelling smoke. "How..." he started.

Brusari answered before Stutim could finish. "Come. I'll explain it all."

by /dev/joe, September 14th, 1997; play: smoke (burned)
/dev/joe was declared asleep September 24th, 1997 Voting Gnome was declared asleep September 29th, 1997 Vynd was declared asleep October 2nd, 1997

Brusari gestured to a fallen log and Stutim seated himself. Brusari, still standing, began to speak. "My name is Brusari. My people call themselves the Guardians, or sometimes the Watchers. Some who have a lower opinion of us" -- Brusari grimaced -- "twist the latter into 'Spies'. We trace our history back for centuries, to before the seperation of the Solgrai and the Rishnet."

"What do you mean, 'seperation'?" Stutim demanded. "Solgrai and Rishnet have always been rivals, if not outright enemies!"

Brusari laughed softly, sadly. "No, child, though there are those who would like you to think so. It was more than five hundred years ago, now, but the whole land was once ruled by one High King. Solgrai was the name of the last High King's son, and Rishnet was the name of his advisor. The Guardians held a place of honor in the society of that day. We," Brusari smiled, " -- THEY -- protected noble and commoner alike, righted injustices, and watched against the coming of all things evil or malign. But they didn't watch well enough," Brusari sighed, gazing off into the distance as if seeing those long ago events with his own eyes.

"The Guardians chief seer forcast a dire threat to the High King, but could not identify it. The very next day, the High King was slain. The stories vary, but all accounts describe the razing of the entire city by an enormous, three-headed, three-eyed beast colored midnight blue. They say it stood taller than the palace. A credible witness reported seeing the the High King himself disappear into its maw."

Stutium gaped -- Brusari was silently crying.

by ThinMan, October 7th, 1997; play: really big blue thing (loose end)
This play tied off the loose end gypsy; ThinMan received an ale

After a moment, Brusari composed himself. "Those were dark days for the Guardians, and for all the world. The whole land was demoralized by the horrific demise of the High King; in shock, really. Solgrai and Rishent tried to rally the people with mixed success. Then the worst came when those two had their falling out.

"No one really knows how it happened, but before a year had passed, Solgrai and Rishent were working more and more separately. Before too long they were often working at cross purposes, and from there it escalated. Within five years, each had claimed the High King's throne, though neither controlled enough of the land to make such a claim meaningful. The ensuing war, the first of many, lasted twenty years. The rest, as they say, is history."

Stutim was intrigued despite himself. "And what of your people?"

"Many believed us destroyed, and that suited us well. We have ever been the servants of the whole land, and of the true High King. We have kept ourselves hidden -- searching, always searching for the cause of the catastrophe," Brusari paused. "And now we know."

"Well?" Stutim asked.

Brusari nodded, as if to himself. "First things first," he declared. "Have you forgotten the Princess?"

Stutim had, he realized with shock and embarrassment. "By the gods! There's no telling what Welecta might have done to her by now!"

"Time is our ally in the Dreamtime, and distance no impediment. Close your eyes." Stutim complied. "Picture the Princess. See her in your mind. Now -- WAKE UP!"

Stutim jerked awake, not having realized that he was asleep. As he looked around he quickly realized that wherever he was, it was certainly not the collapsing cavern where he had gone to sleep.

by ThinMan, October 15th, 1997; play: teleport (burned)
Alfvaen attempted to interrupt with discovery; this was denied
ThinMan was declared asleep October 24th, 1997
Karma's play of unconscious was denied October 25th, 1997, because of length
Vynd attempted to interrupt with infinite; this was denied

Stutim was accustomed to heights, from years of scrambling up walls, running across rooftops, and balancing on narrow ledges. Which was a good thing, because anyone more acrophobic would probably have fallen to their doom, waking up on the side of a mountain.

What the hell? Where was the Princess? That damn gypsy had been lying through his teeth. Still, this certainly was not the cave of mushrooms...but for all Stutim knew he'd been drugged and carried up here.

He wondered which mountain he was on. He'd never been this far outside the city, and never really paid much attention to the peaks on the western horizon, and now he regretted it. Looking eastward, trying to get his bearings, he caught some movement out of the corner of his eye, and glanced down(which nearly dizzied even him). On a narrow path two hundred feet below, two figures were moving. He thought that he recognized Welecta and the Princess.

He had to get down to them! But there was no way he'd make it down the mountainside to that path, especially in this cold. He could climb down a brick wall, but not a mountain, and not for two hundred feet.

Looking for an easier path down, he saw a cave entrance twenty feet below him. That, he could manage.

by Alfvaen, October 29th, 1997; play: mountains (burned)
Alfvaen was declared asleep November 5th, 1997
/dev/joe was declared asleep November 9th, 1997
Voting Gnome was declared asleep November 13th, 1997

After hours of stumbling slowly downwards through the caves, half-lit with bioluminescent growth, Stutim was weary. "Damn Brusari and his mushrooms! If he was going to do, err, whatever it is he did, he could have put me down at the bottom of the mountains at least..." Stutim rounded a corner and was momentarily blinded by sunlight reflecting off a pond. He had emerged from the cave into a narrow river valley. It slowly broadend and ran to the west, where the river then curved off and ran south along a large hill.

With his eyes adjusted to the light, Stutim was startled to see the Princess sitting alone, staring at the stream not 20 feet away. He ran to her. "Princess," he said as loudly as he dared, "where is Welecta? Quickly, we must flee!" The Princess continued to stare, glassy-eyed, into the water.

"She can't hear you boy," came a voice from behind him, followed by a loud click. Stutim turned to see Welecta aiming a large handgun at his face. "Ah, I do love fate," said Welecta, "especially when its on my side. Lie down please." Stutim, too stunned to speak, did so. Welecta, quickly handcuffed his hands behind his back.

"Perfect! Well, lets go! We must reach Habsville by nightfall." Welecta gestured towards the hump at the end of the valley. When Stutim hesitated, Welecta kicked him. "Move it! Or would you rather end up like her?

The march was slow, but steady, interrupted only by the occassional kick from Welecta. The hill was tall but not too steep, after a few hours of climbing the finally crested the hump, and reached Habsville. Far down the valley, the lights of the capital city lit up the sky.

by Vynd, November 14th, 1997; play: hump (burned)

The next few days were pure misery for Stutim. Welecta had friends waiting in Habsville, and they had a coach. The next day, they set out for the capital, with Stutim spending most of his time firmly tied up with a bag covering his head. Finally, however, they arrived at the gates of the city, and Welecta came into the cab to speak with him.

"Feeling well rested, I am sure. It wouldn't do for anyone to see you all tied up, once we're inside the city. I am sure you'll behave yourself, however." Welecta smirked as he tossed his pistol from hand to hand, and the wagon proceeded into the city.

Suddenly the wagon came to a halt. "Hey there! Clear the road!" shouted the driver. Welecta perked up and looked out the window, giving Stutim a chance to take a peek himself.

The road was covered in watermellons. Apparently a vendor's cart had broken. Stutim nearly jumped out of his skin when he recognized the vendor as Brusari. He was waving some kind of staff at the coach. Just then a shout went up from the other side of the street. "They have the Princess in there!" The driver was fighting with someone outside the door, but Welecta paid it no heed. He took careful aim at Brusari, and before Stutim could react, fired twice.

Brusari crumpled to the ground clutching his chest. Welecta leaned out the window to watch, laughing maniacally. His laughter was cut short, however, when gunfire roared from down the street, and he took a bullet in the chest. He fell into the street at the same time a group of dark skinned men tore open the door to the wagon.

"We have found them! We have found them Brusari!" shouted the leader of the group. "Brusari?!?"

by Vynd, November 21st, 1997; play: watermelon vendor (burned)
Vynd was declared asleep November 27th, 1997
ThinMan was declared asleep December 2nd, 1997
Karma was declared asleep December 6th, 1997

"Brusari is dead! Murderer!" The dark-skinned leader brought up his weapon and aimed at Stutim.

This was not right, Stutim thought dimly. Welecta was dead, Brusari was dead, and they were trying to kill him. How could this have happened? This--was--not--right! "No!" he shouted

and suddenly found himself floating with Brusari in the Dreamtime. "What happened?" he managed to ask.

"You took a wrong path," Brusari said. "We all travel in time, every day, and time looks like a straight path. But from the Dreamtime it is easy to take another way, onto a path which also looks straight when you are on it, but twists and turns and eventually comes to an end. I was able to bring you back, but I had to wait until you were close to the end and ready to be detached from your time-path and brought back to the time of divergence."

"Oh, that's wonderful," Stutim said, voice heavy with sarcasm. "If it's so damned easy to 'take another way', why didn't you _warn_ me first?"

Brusari was unruffled. "It was a calculated risk. I knew I could bring you back, and now this way you have seen the way things should not go. Think upon the vision you have seen, the future that should not be, and take care to avoid it if you can. Now. Once again, picture the Princess."

by Alfvaen, December 7th, 1997; play: time travel (burned)
/dev/joe interrupted with zealot on December 8th, 1997

When Stutim and Brusari next emerged into realspace, they were in a small cave, and immediately they heard a sound which proved to be Welecta and the princess and their party, traveling a rarely-used path which passed scarcely 20 feet from where the two stood, watching, concealed in the shadow of the cave.

After the party had passed clearly out of earshot, Brusari led Stutim back into the cave a bit and uncovered a pair of dirty old shovels that were lying in a small hole hidden under a wooden platform that looked like a crate lid. "Last year about this time, I came out here and hid these because our seers assured me I would need them."

He went to the back of the cave, which Stutim noticed didn't match the texture of the other walls. "I suppose you put this here too, then?"

"Yeah, what's behind here is actually what we need." Brusari started digging into the wall, and Stutim joined him.

by /dev/joe, December 12th, 1997; play: gap (burned)
Alfvaen interrupted with noise on December 13th, 1997

"Brusari, I still don't understand. How is it that among the infinity of possible time lines, I am supposed to find the right one?" Stutim asked.

"Don't look too hard, too deep. Don't try to find your way through the dreamtime by peeking into each little reality. Look at the fabric of the dreamtime itself. Look at that and nothing else."

Brusari paused, then continued, "Can you see it? What are you seeing right now?"

Deep in concentration, Stutim found it hard to describe what he saw. "It looks like a network of total blackness, like a fine web, separating many little spaces of somehow not-quite-so-total blackness."

"Good. Now if you look carefully, you should find one of those little pockets which seems to be surrounded by a gap - a much wider ring of the total blackness. That one is your time stream of origin. Push yourself into it." Stutim did so, while Brusari did likewise.

"Now that you've selected the time, select the space. Think of just the princess and bring yourself back into realspace near her. I'm coming with you."

by /dev/joe, December 13th, 1997; play: shovel (burned)

The wall was soft, having been made of bricks made of dried mud with more mud used as mortar, and just enough mud spread over the front of the wall to hide its construction. Stutim and Brusari broke through the wall in just a few minutes. The object in the hidden chamber was covered with a heavy canvas, but Brusari pulled that off to reveal a magnificent machine. Brusari wheeled it out, over the rubble of the wall, then raised one leg as he climbed into the seat and started the engine.

"A metal horse?" said a startled Stutim.

"I picked this up in one of my travels to other worlds through the dreamtime," Brusari responded. "They call it a motorcycle."

"And they hang the carriage off the side?"

"Yes, they call that a sidecar. Climb in, and bring one of those shovels."

Stutim lowered one of the shovels down onto the floor of the large sidecar, then got in himself. Brusari drove out of the cave and along a trail that went along the edge of the ridge containing this cave. "About a half a mile ahead, this trail joins the main road where we saw Welecta."

by /dev/joe, December 19th, 1997; play: sidecar (burned)

Brusari and Stutim sped on down the path, and onto the main road at the intersection Brusari had described. After they had gone several miles, they saw a bird headed directly at them, flying along the road at about the height of Stutim's head as he sat in the sidecar. Brusari stopped the motorcycle, and Stutim ducked as the bird flew directly over his head, turned, and landed on the metal bar at the back of the seat of the motorcycle. It was a mynah bird.

The bird glowed blue for a moment, and then the glow momentarily became a bright blue flash, and then the bird was gone and instead a young woman dressed all in black leather was sitting behind Brusari on the main seat of the cycle. "Not bad, Jhonis," Brusari commented. "Stutim, this is one of my, um, associates, Jhonis. Jhonis has some ability as a shapeshifter, but it's not quite like the stories I'm sure you've heard. Jhonis has to practice a shape for months before she can really use it. So Jhonis, did you figure out where Welecta is headed with the princess?"

"He's turned off on a little path to the left of the main road, about two miles ahead. There's an old temple about 15 miles out that way; they might be headed there. I'll keep an eye on them." With that, Jhonis resumed the form of the mynah bird and flew back the way she came.

by /dev/joe, December 21st, 1997; play: mynah bird (burned)

They turned at the indicated fork, and in a short while they saw the temple Jhonis had mentioned to them. Welecta's carriage sat, empty, in front of the temple, still with its horses, though some men were preparing to take the horses away.

"They must not have been here long," Brusari commented, stopping the motorcycle just deep enough in the forest to keep the men at the temple from noticing. Jhonis joined them, changing to her leather-clad human form. "So," Brusari began, "what are they doing in there?"

"They're trying to find the answer to a riddle. Apparently it has something to do with the prophecy. And they think the princess either knows the answer, or can somehow help them find it."

Brusari pondered the situation for a minute. "Did you find out what this riddle was?"

"I did indeed. More courageous than a knight; more agile than an acrobat; more timid than a child: what am I?"

Stutim spoke up. "That's easy!"

by /dev/joe, December 24th, 1997; play: riddle (burned)

"It's a cat!" Stutim exclaimed. "It fits the clues, and it is also spelled out by the first letters of the three adjectives." Then he thought for a moment. "I don't know how I figured that out. Normally I'm very bad at such things."

Brusari considered the situation. "That has to be the answer. Stutim, your answer removes any doubt I might have had that you were the right one. The prophecy gave you the answer."

"It fits perfectly too." Jhonis added. "The prophecy says that the one and the quiet beast would rescue the princess. I'll go in with Stutim; Brusari, be ready out here for a quick getaway on the motorcycle. We won't have time to escape into the dreamtime from around here."

Jhonis transformed into a huge bird equipped with a strange form of saddle. Brusari explained to Stutim that this creature, an aesthir, was from another of their travels through the dreamtime, and also explained how to mount the bird. Jhonis took off, and flew to the top of the temple. Stutim dismounted, and Jhonis returned to her human form. Jhonis led Stutim down into the temple, and after some time, they reached a room where Welecta, the princess, and another woman sat around a small table, all seemingly in a trance. "A seance," Jhonis whispered to Stutim.

by /dev/joe, December 27th, 1997; play: seance (loose end)

Stutim and Jhonis both took a step back into the corridor. Just then, Stutim remembered what happened back in the catacombs, and pulled the necklace out of a concealed pocket somewhere within his clothing. "I'll feel better about this task wearing this," he said as he put it on.

Jhonis said, "With the trance they are in now, you'd hardly need that to sneak in there. It might be handy for getting out, though. I'm going to change to a cat form and handle that poor excuse for a medium; you find some way of taking out Welecta and take the princess and run. That door directly across the room from this one leads right out to the front of the temple. Don't worry if I don't leave with you, I can find my own way."

Jhonis changed, and as a gray tabby, walked casually across the room and jumped up onto their table, causing the small table to shake noticeably. The medium continued her murmuring which Jhonis had previously ignored, "Ah, there it is. The answer to the riddle is a cat."

Jhonis then changed right before their eyes into a huge lioness, and all three of the participants in the seance jumped back from the table. Jhonis jumped off the table, tipping it over the other way in the process, and pounced on the fleeing medium. Welecta unknowingly ran right towards the invisible Stutim. Stutim conked Welecta in the head with a loose brick he had picked up, then dropped the brick and ran to the princess. He grabbed the princess's wrist and she let out a shriek and fainted. He picked her up and carried her out of the temple over his shoulder.

by /dev/joe, December 30th, 1997; play: pounce (burned)
This play tied off the loose end seance; /dev/joe received an ale

Stutim noticed that as he picked up the princess's body, she also became invisible. He followed Jhonis's directions and quickly left the temple and returned to the place where he left Brusari, and removed the necklace with one hand while still holding the princess in the other as he approached. Brusari was holding the shovel while pouring something from a glass jug into the side of the motorcycle and was startled somewhat when Stutim suddenly appeared. Stutim set the princess's body down on top of the sidecar, noticing that Brusari had already knocked out one temple guard with the shovel.

Brusari spoke first. "Did you have to knock her out?"

"No, she fainted when I grabbed hold of her arm while invisible."

"Well see if you can get her into the sidecar. You'll have to ride on the seat behind me."

Stutim did so, while noticing what Brusari was pouring into the motorcycle. "Your machine's going to go stone cold crazy with all that booze you're feeding it."

"This is its fuel," Brusari responded. "The common fuel in the land this motorcycle comes from is a chemical produced in mass quantities there but unknown here, so I had them convert it to run on fuel I could get here. There's one more bottle in the compartment on the back of the sidecar; could you get it for me?" Stutim did so and Brusari poured it in.

Brusari and Stutim got on the motorcycle and rode off. Brusari took them back to the cave where the motorcycle had been hidden.

by /dev/joe, January 1st, 1998; play: booze(burned)

Soon Jhonis flew in the cave as a mynah bird and transformed into a human form. They ate some mushrooms Brusari had gathered, and the three of them transported the princess along with themselves through the dreamtime, back to the room with the sweet-smelling smoke.

Over the next few hours, each of the dreamtime-travelers related their adventures to the others. They became worried, however, that the princess remained unconscious so long. Stutim began to suspect the ring Welecta had had him plant. When he removed it from her finger, she awoke with a start. She reached out with both arms, pulled Stutim's face to her own, and kissed him. "Will you marry me?"

The princess's words surprised Stutim. "Well, my father was supposed to have been some minor Solgrai noble, but my parents weren't married. Still, it might be allowed."

Brusari interrupted, "There's something you should know. During the recent war, the King and Queen of Rishent and their only son were killed -- supposedly eaten by this same behemoth that killed the last High King 500 years ago. This is the new Queen of Rishent."

Just then, an apprentice of Brusari's came to the door. "Good, you're back. There is a delegation of Solgrai here."

The leader of the group came forward. "The entire royal family of Solgrai was killed by a monster last month. It then went around the country killing other nobles. Palace staff spent a week trying to figure who rules Solgrai now; several kings and queens died without being crowned. The current King of Solgrai is the illegitimate son of a margrave with a Rishent woman, since no legitimate members of the royal line still live. He is believed to be living near here."

Stutim knew. "I'm the one," he responded, and then, to the Queen of Rishent, "Yes, I'll marry you. The kingdoms will be united once more." Then, Stutim addressed the whole group. "That thing chased me too, in catacombs under the city, but it fell into a deep chasm."

Brusari chimed in, "That's it, then. Zoorgandothram lived only to carry out the beginning and end of the prophecy."

The new royal couple was married in the grand hall of Brusari's building, which had been the royal palace before the split between Solgrai and Rishent, and they remained there to rule over the reunited kingdom.

by /dev/joe, January 4th, 1998; this play tied off all loose ends and ended the game

Archived by Malenkai,, Last Updated 4-Jan-98