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Thread: Fit for Life

  1. #1451
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    Re: Fit for Life

    We are all FIT for LIFE


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  2. #1452
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    Re: Fit for Life

    All right! I can FINALLY Post!

    AWESOME chapter, Kuli! DQ was kind enough to send it to me, so I got to read it Thursday.

    Now I've got some questions ...

    Was "the box" that bluish structure in the mid-right foreground? Were they not to disturb the "observatory looking" building to it's right, on the river bank? (I'm wondering why not ...)

    SO ... Mervynn has some native DNA. Since he's part Snatcher, then THEY must be the original inhabitants, using "Snatched" beings to defend their planet, which they seem to have been driven from by The Others. I'm guessing their outpost, where Mervynn was "renewed", was a place for them to physically observe how things were going "at home".

    Given all that, it would follow that the Snatchers are not physically able to battle The Others themselves, and therefore had to resort to using surrogates. Am I close??

    Now ... back to The City ...

    It's quite obvious that The Snatchers were a highly advanced civilization with incredible technological expertise. After all the years, there are still some lights burning, in the "black pod" thing, and even some type of energy dispersal going on between the "needle" towers of two of those other buildings. I'm really very curious about that.

    And, from Mervynn's comments, they were an entirely peaceful culture with no way to defend themselves. Seems they hadn't used their advanced science to develop weapons, but The Others, The Blue, had!

    Given the burn holes going through the buildings, it looks like The Blue used some type of particle beam weapon fired from above the horizon, out of the sky. That leads me to wonder why "The Collective" isn't still using that type of weapon in their battles with the various "Snatched". Even if the "Mother Ship" left long, long, ago, would not The Others, left behind, have a portable version of it? Hmm? ...

    AND, with the ship leaving, and The Snatchers also being "elsewhere", is there a much larger ranging battle raging between them beyond This planet?

    SO many questions! SO much wondering! O.K. I'll shut up now.

    Keep smilin'!! (Hugs seem to have been "left behind".)
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  3. #1453
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    Re: Fit for Life

    It appears we are experiencing minor technical difficulties, as I don't see the pic at the moment.

    Chaz,
    You post so many interesting observations and questions.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  4. #1454
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Um ... you seem to be right, Don! The City has become Invisible!

    And, while I'm at it, one more thing ... that "Black Pod" seems to be quite inconsistent with the other buildings. Might it be an "Others" structure?

    Oh! The HUGS seem to be back! For everyone in "F4L", butt especially Kuli ... !!
    Last edited by Kyanimal; April 14th, 2012 at 04:46 PM.
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Fit for Life

    I'm still struggling with the new format....

    I have no idea where the pics went. I read that our galleries came through the change, but I sure don't seem to have one. I hope we get a bulletin of how to deal with it. I do know that uploading over 200 images five at a time will be obnoxiously obnoxious!

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  6. #1456
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Corny said that, then recanted - the pics he saw weren't from archived set.

    They're still working on it.
    I just tried uploading some, they're in "pending" status, I guess.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  7. #1457
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Seems THE TRANSITION is still transitioning!

    However, I'm sure they're frantically working to smooth (soothe) everything out, and back to "normal".

    Patience, Dear Friends!

    SO ... How about my questions?
    Last edited by Kyanimal; April 14th, 2012 at 05:46 PM.
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Fit for Life

    I'm immensely discouraged at the moment. A bunch of chapters are missing their images, and I'm not positive that all those showing images have the right ones. And when I manage to find my album, everything seems to be in reverse order, and I can't manage to match up the right image with chapters in order to straighten things out. On top of that, I can't find the download I did of the story image album, to compare and see what's going on.

    So no chapter tonight. I've already burned over an hour trying to get the image situation straightened out. Now I'm off to the bug thread to ask what the deal is.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  9. #1459
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    Re: Fit for Life

    As far as I can tell, the chapters showing images should be the right ones since they're 'tagged' with the specific attachment number.

    However, I, too, found that not all my images made it 'back' to my gallery. Luckily, I did have them on my desktop, and was able to re-upload the ones that were missing. And, I believe they held onto their original attachment number. Butt ... the 'titles' I had assigned (my age at the time the pics were taken), did not 'hold', nor have I found a way to 'rename' them. Oh, well ...

    If you do manage to re-upload the missing ones, I would hope they would repopulate their assignments in your chapters. I'm getting the uneasy feeling that those assignments may not have made the 'move', though.

    Of course, I'm always hoping for the best!

    In any case ... no matter what ...

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  10. #1460
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli, I bet they're going to get that stuff straightened out. And speaking for myself only, while I like your images, it's your STORY I'm mostly interested in!
    ____
    If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. -- Voltaire (1694-1778).

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Críostóir View Post
    Kuli, I bet they're going to get that stuff straightened out. And speaking for myself only, while I like your images, it's your STORY I'm mostly interested in!
    Kuli,
    I must concur.
    I know you spend a LOT of time trying to make sure you have just the right graphic to go with your chapter, but your prose is the manna that feeds our souls.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  12. #1462
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli,
    From George Takei's album - something for the Metal shop back at the Castle to work on -



    Click image for larger version. 

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    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  13. #1463
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Cast Iron, not Teflon/Silverstone, of course.

    What self-respecting Scout wouldn't want some camp gear like this?


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  14. #1464
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by DonQuixote View Post
    Cast Iron, not Teflon/Silverstone, of course.

    What self-respecting Scout wouldn't want some camp gear like this?
    I thought maybe it was a Romulan sauce pan.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  15. #1465
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by DonQuixote View Post
    Cast Iron, not Teflon/Silverstone, of course.
    Wait -- why not silverstone?

    1. fashion cast iron pan
    2. before cooling is well begun, coat inner surface with silver and a good clay
    3. using assistance of a Druid, blend the silver and clay into the iron, filling all cavities down to the molecular level
    4. Druid finishes the process, turning surface into a silver stone

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    I like it!

    I was thinking from the practical aspects of scratches and whatnot, vs. the well seasoned cast iron surface out on the range.

    And, since you never know when you'll need to use this either as a weapon or a type of shield . . .


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  17. #1467
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    Re: Fit for Life


    198

    Barriers


    Oran blended into the background, with his Daniel-Boone style leather pants and jacket, rubbed with white clay in streaks and spots and hatched with random dark streaks, so Antonio didn’t see him coming until he was within a hundred meters. If he hadn’t known Scout Two was coming, he might not have seen him till under half that distance. As the Scout flipped to a stop – like a gymnast, a trick the Haudenosaunee had taught him – Antonio chuckled at his own envy of the lithe, fit, flexible body his companion had. “Sweating yet?” he asked casually, as Oran took three deep breaths before speaking.

    “Small of my back”, was the reply. Oran whistled, and a moment later bounced into the saddle when Apache came trotting up. “‘Tonio, it’s a town. Onatah said it’s three peoples together, but there’s just two definite parts – one’s got wandering lanes, all curves, and the other is a square grid, perfect north-south alignment.” He grinned. “Guess which part has stone buildings with round columns?”

    “Looks like the ‘Ronams” really are Romans, huh?” Antonio chewed on his lip. “Any fortifications?”

    Oran shook his head. “Not even a ditch. The closest thing would be the hedges around some of the big buildings. There’s a huge gate thing at the end of the biggest street, but without a wall it looks funny.”

    “Symbolic”, Antonio guessed. “How big is ‘big’?”

    “You could put a small fraternity house under it – like for thirty guys.”

    Antonio shook his head. “There’s something familiar about a gate that big... I mean like what they were used for. I can’t remember it.”

    “You mean like in the Bible, where people conducted business in the city gates?” Oran asked. “I didn’t have a good angle to see in, but it’s big enough for that. Heck, you could put a café in one side, a souvenir shop in the other, spread a bunch of tables out to sit at, and still have room for a street down the middle. Want Runner to take a look?”

    That made Antonio grin. “Yeah. And if there’s a café, ask him to bring me a double-dark chocolate mocha with an extra shot.”

    “And a chocolate chip fudge brownie with walnuts”, Oran agreed. A bit over a minute later they had their answer: two groups of people clustered under the gate, one on each side of the street. In Runner’s eyes, they appeared like two prides of cats, one lounging, one pacing about.

    “Gossip session and political discussion”, Antonio suggested with a grin. “Now, the question of the day: do we loop around and come in through the gate, or just head in on the nearest street?”

    “Sorry – there’s a closer gate”, Oran told him. “I got a better look at it – it’s got two statues carved in the rock, that look like Quistadors, except no weapons.”

    “Quistadors... I bet if you got close, it would say ‘D’Aragon’!” Antonio whispered. “Okay, that’s our entrance! With the lancers up front, looking like conquistadors!”



    Cristobal de Nevarez rode slowly – more accurately, Apache, on loan from Oran, was making a show of it, stepping in grand fashion, lifting each hoof high and placing it precisely, snapping it down to make a sharp thud. The young Quistador noble sat almost statue-like, holding the staff that bore Antonio’s banner vertically, the butt set on the saddle between his legs. The breeze barely pulled the light cloth away from that pole, but an occasional gust tugged it to a forty-five degree tilt, just enough that an observer could tell there was an emblem on it. Cristobal was thankful for those gusts; in spite of the chilly day, he was sweating like no Scout should.

    Workers in the fields around the town looked up, watched briefly, then went back to work in a display of stifled curiosity Antonio had trouble believing. “Like a cult”, Oran muttered. “It’s not their business, so they don’t look.”

    “Yeah, could be”, Antonio answered. “But we’re getting a crowd at the gate.” Behind the gate would have been a better description: this smaller gate didn’t seem to serve as a meeting place, and no one stood under it now; a crowd that kept slowly growing stood several paces behind it, while a smaller group, roughly a dozen, stood three times as far in front of it. “Welcoming committee out front.”

    Oran shook his head. “Don’t think so. Runner says they don’t feel friendly.”

    “Oh, good – so shall we conquer them?”

    Oran had to hold in a laugh, that sounded so little like Antonio. “You’re stressin’, dude”, he said.

    “Yeah. Maybe Cristobal will awe them.”

    “I think we already shocked them. And Apache is better for awe than Cristo.” Oran looked over the area. “All the horses are – they don’t have any.”

    “I think the Romans conquered the world without needing them”, Antonio recalled.

    “Yeah, well maybe Rome would have got built in a day if they’d had them”, Oran joked. “Uh-oh – movement.”

    The small group outside the gate advanced as Cristobal drew close. They looked determined; they strode more than merely walked, like people with a definite purpose. Antonio had the feeling they were going to tell Cristobal to go away, and said so softly.

    “Runner doesn’t think so”, Oran replied. “They’re determined, but not... unfriendly. Hey – the guy in front is carrying a pair of rods. Wonder what that means?”

    Antonio turned to a slender figure riding behind and to the side, one of the Yankee Snatched along as interpreters. “Frank – you’re our brain, here. What do two rods mean?”

    Frank nudged his horse up by Oran. “Rods, or like bundles of sticks?”

    “Huh – you’re right, they’re more like bundles of sticks. I think they’re carved out of one piece. It looks like they’re supposed to be held together by ribbons.”

    “Right”, Frank responded. “Is there an axe head sticking out of a side?”

    “No axe heads”, Oran informed him. “One has something like a hammer head, though. Oh – the rods are tied together. It’s a really thin cord, kinda golden.”

    Frank frowned. “Okay, a bundle of sticks would be a fasces – what came to stand for fascism, later. In Rome it was a symbol of government, like police power or something. I’ve never heard of having two, tied together or not. There’s a statue of a famous Roman, Cincinnatus, in Cincinnati – city on the Ohio river – that carries one. I think it has an axe head. I never heard of a hammer head.”

    “Onatah said they’re all peaceful”, Oran recalled. “Maybe a hammer is supposed to be peaceful.”

    Frank nodded at that. “Sure – if you turned pacifist, you’d change the axe head or get rid of it. Only one fasces has it?”

    “Right.”

    “Okay... they’re different, so I think they stand for two different things, two different sources of authority. A guess: if these were just Romans, I’d say one stands for the Senate and one stands for the people, the old Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, the Senate and people of Rome. Those were the two powers in the Roman Republic, before they had emperors. But with other people, one might stand for the Romans and the other for the non-Romans.” Frank shrugged. “Though your Haudenosaunee talk like they’re one people, so that’s probably wrong.”

    Oran laughed softly. Apache was stepping in place, stopped in front of the man with the fasces. Cristobal sat statue-like in the saddle, looking ahead through the gate as though the group in front of him weren’t there. “I bet they don’t like that!”

    “If they’re official representatives, it’s not an insult, I think”, Frank ventured. “He’s just a banner-bearer, so his status doesn’t allow him to talk to them.” He chuckled. “Apache still marching, though, that could seem rude!”

    “We’ll find out when we get there”, Antonio stated. A half dozen lancers, chosen because they were very close in size and their horses matched in color, rode between them and Cristobal. “I wish I could give those guys orders, though.” But the corporal in charge got it right; he sent three right, three left, and they formed up behind Cristobal, turning to face the road, making a short aisle for Antonio to ride up through.

    “Runner says they’re impressed”, Oran related. “That was pretty smart.”

    “Yeah, it was.” Antonio was about to compliment the corporal when his estimation of the man jumped a notch: as he and Oran ride up, the first pair drew swords and saluted with blade to forehead; as they reached the next pair, and the next, those did the same. When Antonio passed them, the swords came down, blades flat across knees.

    Cristobal moved aside, to the left, and Apache stood still – or maybe the horse had made that decision. Antonio stopped, Oran halted a quarter meter farther back, and Frank a full meter. The man with the fasces looked them over, bowed slightly, and addressed Antonio. – who didn’t understand a word, except he thought he heard “pax”. He waved Frank forward; Oran moved his horse sideways to let the translator in.

    “Wow. It’s devolved Latin, with Spanish, and something Slavic, plus some Haudenosaunee words, and some I don’t recognize at all”, Frank announced. “Um... okay; let me try.” He spoke slowly, carefully. Now it was the delegation’s leader’s turn to bring someone up to help.

    It became a language lesson. After three or four minutes, Oran acted on a hunch: swinging down, he stepped forward – careful to remain just slightly farther back than Antonio – and called out to one of the twelve, an older man with darker skin than the rest, speaking Haudenosaunee. Eyebrows shot up, as their owner came forward and responded. Intuition suggested his next step: Oran asked if any spoke the language of the Quistadors, repeating the question in that dialect of Spanish. Quickly, another man came forward.

    Oran called Cristobal over. “Use your language to try to learn theirs”, he instructed. “Don’t tell them anything about us – nothing. Just try to learn their words.”

    Very soon thereafter, Oran and Cristobal were helping Frank learn his way through the town’s language, serving as assistants to the translator. Antonio was mildly amused that they wouldn’t do a two-step translation, or let someone else speak. For all he knew, the guy with the fasces spoke Haudenosaunee and Spanish, too, but was determined to use his own language. He grew bored quickly, though, and signaled for ale to be brought. The leader of the town seemed to relax a little at that sight, and gave a quick call over his shoulder. Just seconds later, girls came trotting out of the larger crowd, bringing wineskins – and cups.

    “Oran – can Tepocah take your place?” Antonio asked when he’d started to get bored again.

    “Sure – he speaks everything I do.” Oran said something to his counterpart, then turned and whistled, a bit of a complex rhythm and set of notes. Tepocah came at a sprint. Oran took a few seconds to explain the switch.

    “Okay, what’s up?” asked Scout Two when he’d joined Antonio.

    “These are Romans, right? I mean, it looks like the Romans took over..”

    “Looks that way”, Oran agreed. “So?”

    “This is taking forever. Maybe we should have the lancers do something that would impress the Romans.”

    Oran shook his head. “Or scare them? We don’t know what they’ll think of anything we do. I say we wait.”

    “Scouts are good at waiting”, Antonio groused.

    “So are hunters” Oran countered. “You’re waiting for your prey.”

    Antonio scowled. “I hate stand hunting.” He drank some ale. “Are they even going to let us into the town?!”

    Oran recognized the importance of that question. “If they aren’t, we should camp. I think Frank knows enough to ask that.” He went forward and interrupted with that question.

    “Not with weapons”, Oran informed Antonio several minutes later. “I say we camp.”

    “Yeah.” Antonio resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “How have these people survived out here without weapons?” he asked the sky. “Hey – I’ve got it! We do a Roman-style camp, nice and square, two streets, and everything.”

    Oran grinned. “Right across their road. But didn’t the Romans dig a ditch and make a wall?”

    “Whatever – tell the captain to do his best.”

    That best turned out to be considerable. Some bright officer had decided each man should carry two stout stakes, for a number or uses. They didn’t have enough for an actual stockade, but a good line of rib-high posts went in. Bound by a rope tied firmly to each one, it made a fence that would be hard for any foe to get through – though perhaps the Foe would chew through it quickly. Antonio made a mental note to find a way to test that, as something that would be definitely worth knowing. Tents went up in neat rows instead of their customary circles, With Antonio’s tent just off the intersection. It was a crisp, clean operation, causing Antonio to realize that Tanner must have trained them in it.

    When the layout was done and men were stowing gear in tents, one of the local dozen leaders (and/or greeters) approached Oran. He spoke carefully, a mix of Spanish and Haudenosaunee mostly, enough that Oran understood. “He says the camp looks like what the histories tell”, Oran passed on. “He is impressed and wonders if we have Ronam blood.”

    Antonio chuckled. “Tell him yes, but very distant – and no one greatly important.”

    Moments later Oran returned. “He says he thought he was seeing the blood of sergeants and centurions, ever dependable. He also said some will be upset, but we are welcome to camp there.”

    Antonio estimated the distance. “Well, we’re not in any fields -- and we’re out of regular bowshot of the gate, so they shouldn’t see any threat. Not that we are one.”

    Oran nodded agreement. “I’m going back to learning”, he declared, and did that.



    The camp impressed, but didn’t speed anything up. Antonio imagined himself in a brush blind, the mass of people a herd of something like deer, the dozen leaders an advance group of the herd. Each animal had to be examined and assessed, so he could make his choice as to which had the best qualities.

    <hunter waits well> Oran turned at the thought. Yes, he agreed, seeing Antonio’s relaxed but intent patience. Hope he doesn’t worry them, he added to himself, like he’s assessing defenses. Not that the place had any defenses, other than decorative hedges and rows of low trees he guessed were windbreaks.

    Finally Frank bowed, then retreated. “Ready to talk?” Antonio asked.

    “I wish”, came the reply, with a weary shake of the head. “I’m talented in languages, but I sure wouldn’t want that guy for a professor – he’s picky! And he refuses to actually say things in a simpler way. I have to be up to his standard, or nothing.” Antonio noticed the crowd was already thinning, while Oran and Cristobal also bowed and returned.. “For now, I sleep on it. I’ll teach you a little, but I want dinner and sleep.” He looked at Oran. “Sorry, guys, but in the morning I’ll be ‘way ahead of you – over half of what I learned today will come naturally in the morning. That’s how my talent works – I sweat like mad, and absorb when I sleep. It’s about twenty times faster in this world, though.”

    “All sorts of gifts got improved in this world”, Oran responded. “And with gifts come responsibilities, huh?”



    “‘And on the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead’”, Antonio quoted. It was the third morning since their arrival. “So are you actually going to talk with him today?”

    Frank nodded. “If I don’t screw up the welcome ritual.” He rolled his eyes and looked skyward a moment, then back at his breakfast companions. “These people have rituals for everything!”

    “For sex?” quipped Cristobal.

    Frank laughed. “Probably. But first the rituals for meeting the girl, then for meeting the parents!” After more laughter he sighed deeply. “Thanks, C-Scout – I needed a good laugh.”

    Cristobal considered that. “I think ‘need’ isn’t the right word. But it was beneficial to you.”

    Frank nodded. “And a good reminder of how we use words lightly. Oran, I didn’t get a report from you last night. Impressions?”

    Scout Two nodded. “Yeah. They’re fascinated by the camp – the Roman-identifying ones are really getting into their history. The elders love us for it – they have trouble passing down traditions to the kids. And I finally got an honest admission that we Scouts make them nervous – not the Romans so much as the d’Aragon. Some are calling it ‘sorcery’.” He shook his head lightly. “The First People think that argument is amusing – they seem to find it very reasonable that talents arise from nature. Really, that’s all that’s new.”

    “Everything helps”, Frank responded. “So – are we all ready? By our marks on the shadow pole, we’ve got about fifteen minutes.”

    Antonio looked left at the gate of the camp, what had become the assembly area. He’d invented their own ritual, which the Delegation, as they were calling the town’s representatives, had matched: they’d all mount and ride up just like at first, then dismount and bow, exchange polite greetings, and then everyone but six guards and the translation team would mount and ride back to camp. A gate now rose at the entrance facing the town – it gave a backdrop to the daily ceremony – and sheds lined the northwest corner, a precaution Antonio hoped he wouldn’t need. The constant improvements had earned them respect, too. Now lancers were forming up at the gate, and the first rings of a blacksmith’s hammer pealed out from near the sheds. “Yeah, we’re ready. Oran – weapons?”

    “None – small knives only.” The Scout grinned ruefully. “But all the banner guys have to do is drop the banners, and those poles become spears.”

    The lancers had refused to be without any weapons at all; the knives passed for eating utensils, and the banners were a deception Antonio wasn’t happy with. “Stubborn jackasses”, he muttered. “Cristobal, go make sure they remember my warning.” The young Scout rolled his eyes and took off; he wasn’t sure he believed that Antonio would kill any who let the weapons show. Oran had told him that what Antonio said, he did, but the former Quistador wasn’t convinced. But the warning had an effect: bannermen lowered their poles and pretended to check the hooks for the banners while actually they tightened the false ends.

    “Okay, let’s do it”, Antonio declared, tossing back a final gulp of warmed wine. Oran stood slowly, an amused smile playing on his face. “Okay, what?” asked Antonio.

    “You know why we’ve been frustrated? Up home, we’re all so used to being able to talk to everyone important. Eraigh and his Hall can bestow languages in days or less. We switch languages and don’t even realize it. But here we’ve got a language barrier.”

    “And because of a language barrier, an invisible barrier that keeps us out”, Frank added.

    “And a barrier around our camp to say something we don’t have the language for?” Antonio quipped. “Barriers all over. Now move – let’s go break some.”



    <two-arch 17th-century type Spanish ceremonial gate>

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  18. #1468
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Hmm. I suspect the language barrier may be the least of it.
    ____
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Maybe we could send our guys along with Hillary & Tim Geithner as they head off to the Forbidden City to meet w/ the Chinese . . .

    Great chapter, Kuli.
    The are of shuttle diplomacy and working with authoritarians who put pomp above substance.
    Where's that Benefibre? Maybe one of the Lancers can help unblock his colon for him, lol.

    Living History Lessons are great.

    I'm just wondering if they should have done part of the camp a la Haudenosaunee style, to appeal to the other part of the city-village?

    And, how have they survived with out weapons?
    Are they that far from the Others?
    No Big Cats looking for a morsel now and again?


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Hmmm ... I'm not exactly sure 'when' and 'where' we are now. I'm assuming The City has been left behind, and we're quite a few days away from there. I'm wondering about the metal gained, and also how Mervynn is doing.

    I do recall mention of the Ronams before, as described by the Haudenosaunee, and, like Antonio, my curiosity is being frustratingly held at bay by 'barriers'. So far, though, they don't seem to be what I was expecting. No weapons? Or ... are they hiding theirs, too?

    I would think after several days, there would have been a few curious villagers making casual contact with the 'strangers'. However, it seems everyone, except the 'welcoming' detail, have kept their distance. They do seem to be a very tightly controlled people, in more ways than one.

    Fascinating chapter! Looking forward to More!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    Hmmm ... I'm not exactly sure 'when' and 'where' we are now. I'm assuming The City has been left behind, and we're quite a few days away from there. I'm wondering about the metal gained, and also how Mervynn is doing.

    I do recall mention of the Ronams before, as described by the Haudenosaunee, and, like Antonio, my curiosity is being frustratingly held at bay by 'barriers'. So far, though, they don't seem to be what I was expecting. No weapons? Or ... are they hiding theirs, too?

    I would think after several days, there would have been a few curious villagers making casual contact with the 'strangers'. However, it seems everyone, except the 'welcoming' detail, have kept their distance. They do seem to be a very tightly controlled people, in more ways than one.

    Fascinating chapter! Looking forward to More!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    Recall that a few chapters back, Rigel split the "team", starting with sending Conal north with messages.dispatches in case the weather turns bad and they're stuck down south a while. Devon, being the Engineer, headed for the City to get metal, Eldon was appointed to take charge of a number of folks staying behind to settle Rigel's new lands -- and Antonio left to seek out the "Daregoan", whom we now suspect to be the d'Aragon he seeks.


    And now, if patience serves me and Murphy visits elsewhere, I'll have the next chapter posted soon.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life


    199
    People of Peace


    After all Frank’s effort of learning the language, with the dedicated help of Oran and Cristobal, and the patience of Antonio, the welcome was an anti climax. They were asked if they had any weapons, they declared they did not. The Consil, as the man with the fasces had been identified once their language teacher was satisfied they’d pronounce it correctly – and he required Frank, Oran, and Cristobal to each get it right – recited rules for visitors – they could enter any building marked with a single fasces with no hammer head, they could request entry to any building marked with a hammer head fasces, they could enter the few buildings marked with both only if summoned, and any other buildings they could enter only if the roof-keeper invited them... and requests weren’t allowed; they could walk on any stone pavement at any time, on stone-chip paths only in daylight, and on dirt paths only in the company of a citizen...the list wasn’t long, but some of it was puzzling – like the requirement to declare to a roof-keeper how much metal they were wearing, before entering – and others were humorous yet sensible, like the rule that if one needed to relieve himself of water, the clusters of bushes with red-striped leaves around the black oak were for that purpose, while for solids they had “soil houses”.

    The corporal of the honor guard had the lancers recite the rules back until he was sure they understood, leaving the Consil standing looked annoyed. “Lord, these six men can be trusted to go in with you. I stay, to instruct others.” Frank translated that for the Delegation. The Consil’s eyebrows rose, while several others looked thoughtful and lightly pleased. “We honor your customs”, Frank added on seeing the expressions. “In our land there is a saying, ‘When in Rome, do as the Ronams do.” He allowed a small grin to show. “This is not that great city, but you are Ronams.”

    That brought approval – the Consil said so: “This is a good saying. We are edified in your knowing it.” Then he turned to Antonio.

    “Equis Antonio, what metal do you bear?”

    Antonio was tempted to say “only enough to make me sweat”. But he replied with a short list – they’d all purposely worn as little as possible, just because of the question. “Guards on the toes and heels of my boots, a buckle on my belt, my eating knife, and a clip for my cloak.” One by one the others made their own recitations – the lancers shed the metal parts of their armor while the others spoke. And so they entered the town.

    Two blocks in they came on the Haudenosaunee scouts. They were involved in a game with sticks and two balls. Antonio stopped and stared.

    Oran laughed. “Tepocah asked me not to tell you. The Haudenosaunee are known here. Enough here speak their language they didn’t have to learn this one.”

    “How long have they been in the town?” Antonio asked, his irritation softened by Oran’s humor.

    “Before we got here. The ones out front just said hello and went on in as they reached it.” Oran laughed. “Tepocah thought it was funny when he told me. He pushed my chin back up”, the Scout shared.

    At that, Antonio laughed. If Oran had gotten hit, too, things felt better. “Well, they did say they knew the way. Just – think of some prank we can play on them.”

    Oran frowned. “I’ll try. But I don’t really get their humor. So... when do you bring in the sword?”

    Antonio turned to face him. “How do you know I’ll bring it in?”

    Oran grinned. “You’re Antonio the Hunter. You don’t wait for your game to come to you.”

    Antonio had to laugh. “You’re right. Well, I’ll bring it once I have an idea of who to bring it to.”


    So they explored. The town had three sections, one for each of the peoples. Of course they had to visit each, though Antonio’s interest was with the first encountered: though the delegation which came to meet them had seemed Roman, the westernmost section of the town was in fact d’Aragonian. Its architectural style ranged from square-timbered houses with thin bricks between the timbers, to sheer stone.

    “They were running out of trees”, Frank observed, stopping in the street. “The buildings near the gate have square-timbered frames. Right back there, they’re about half timber and half brick. Look up ahead – that inn is almost all timber.”

    “It’s kind of mixed”, Oran objected. “That one over there is all brick.”

    Frank nodded. “They built with lots of space between them at first. Then they filled in.” He noticed Antonio was staring at the inn. “Tell, lord hunter”, he urged.

    Antonio blinked and shook his head. “That inn’s a copy of one in Padillo”, he told the softly, marveling. “I wonder....” He set off at a jog, leaving Oran, Tepocah, Cristobal, and Frank to follow, wondering what he was wondering. Down a block and around a corner, Frank nearly ran into Antonio’s back as the lord stopped abruptly and Scout reflexes – and Haudenosaunee; Oran couldn’t decide what their gift was – let them dodge aside.

    “The same house”, Antonio marveled. “That’s the old d’Aragon townhouse. They even got the colors right.”

    “Earth tones aren’t hard”, Oran pointed out.

    Antonio nodded, then turned around to look at the inn. “This isn’t quite right – it’s wider than the original. But I bet Don Ramón could find his way around with no trouble.”

    “Let’s go in”, suggested Cristobal. “I’m thirsty.”

    Antonio nodded. “The Delegation didn’t say how getting food and drink works”, he mused. “Oran–“

    “The guy following us should know”, replied Scout Two. He flashed from relaxed and still into motion, dashing across the street and then cutting left. Scout speed carried him so fast his quarry never guessed he was a target.

    “Hola”, Oran said cheerfully, while pinning his target with uncompromising eyes. “¿Quieres ir con nosotros, y beber?” Want to come with us, to drink?

    “Ah... ¿como puedo decir ‘no’?” Um... how could I say ‘no’? Oran guessed the man was a few years older than he was. Now he was sure this was a true d’Aragon: he spoke good Quistador.

    Caval d’Arboles was his name, and he was a treasure of information. The inn had been built before the Settlement, he related, matching one in the home in the north, except more spacious because the master trader had felt cramped in those rooms. Three other buildings were from before the Settlement, too – a blacksmith’s shop, a stables, and a large house where those who served the two establishments lived. Of course the stables had become a potter’s and a yarner’s, since the last horses had died generations ago. The master in the north had feared trouble, the Great Book said, so the last caravan south had been extra large, bringing many of the family. Then at last had come the pitiful few to escape at the end, with word to remain: their home in the north was gone.

    It had taken a number of years for the People to adjust to the fact that the d’Aragon were there to stay, not just visiting to trade. Over fifty years passed until they were invited to be part of the People. That came after the death of the last person not born here. Why? The People never explained. They hadn’t interfered, either, as the d’Aragon turned their trading station into a village that budded off their own. Then once they accepted, a hundred Ronams had come over and announced they wanted to be d’Aragon. That surprised the Master of the House, but he thought about it quickly and decided if their families married in, they could be d’Aragon. There were quite a few marriages between children then – of course they didn’t consummate them until both were fourteen. After that, others joined.

    The People have this custom that at whatever age one becomes an adult (Caval explained), one could choose his sept – his part of the People. Mostly, Ronams stay Ronams, and d’Aragon stay d;Aragon, and First stay First. But Ronams becoming d’Aragon isn’t a surprise, or d’Aragon becoming Ronam – that doesn’t happen as often, though. But one of those becoming First, or a First becoming one of those, is really rare.

    “Wait – why is it rare?” Oran interrupted.

    “Ronams and d’Aragon don’t breed well with First”, Caval replied. “For having a marriage, the Elders first check to determine if there might be offspring.”

    “The First aren’t people?” Antonio asked, at the same time Frank queried, “How different from humans are they?”

    Looking back and forth between the two, Caval threw up his hands. “Come look!” he declared.

    Oran grabbed his shoulder to keep him from standing. “First tell me why you were following us.”

    They could tell Caval was weighing choices. Antonio started to speak, but Oran shook his head and put a finger on his lips. The wait was agonizing, but finally the young man spoke. “I am curious. Some friends and I wished to know more about you. I was chosen to observe.”

    Oran chuckled. “Trying to stalk a hunter – you got caught.” His expression turned serious. “I think you volunteered, too.”

    Caval sighed. “More or less. I would have volunteered, but my friends know me. They chose me before I could say anything.”

    Antonio laughed at that. “Good to have friends like that. Okay – you want to observe, you come with us. You can be our guide. First – let’s see the First.” Oran rolled his eyes; Frank groaned. Caval gave a slight grin and led off.


    The First People had rounded huts, some small one-room dwellings, others two stories high. Some had bulges off to the side, reminding Oran of Casey’s two-igloo shelter after the avalanche. A glimpse inside showed brick and wood under the thatch, though. Caval informed them the outside was a tradition, since when the First had originally settled here. On the way they passed through the Roman section. “Looks just like the movies”, Oran observed. “Definitely Roman.”

    “Ronam”, Caval corrected absently. He was very alert, watching everywhere at once.

    “You need some lessons”, Cristobal admonished. “All the world can see you wish to see someone.”

    “He wishes not to see someone”, Tepocah corrected. “He is alert like prey, not like hunter.” His glance at Antonio brought a chuckle from Oran; their leader was focused forward, on where they were going, like he was stalking prey.

    “I... had some problems with some Ronams”, Caval admitted. “I was advised by the elders to avoid them. If they see me here–“

    “So let’s hurry”, Oran finished. He moved into a jog, drawing the rest with him. Within a minute they were surrounded by rounded huts, not a Roman in sight.

    Antonio looked around at the people, mouth hanging open. “They’re not even human!” he exclaimed softly.

    Oran sucked in breath and nibbled at his lower lip. “Frank”, he called quietly, you knew Mervynn before, right?” There was no need to say before what.

    “Nobody truly knew Mervynn”, Frank replied. “Why?”

    “His face changed, didn’t it?”

    Frank snorted. “His whole body changed! Those two thum.... Saints and bards – they have two thumbs!” Their translator started getting excited. “And the legs are longer, like his were, after! These are the people the Snatcher made him more like! Do you think they’re the original race here?”

    “No.” Antonio’s tone carried certainty. “Too many human features. Oran, look close, and you’ll see the interbreeding. They may be descended from the originals, but they’ve bred with humans. Question is, why?”

    Oran shrugged. “Standing here won’t tell – let’s go ask.”


    It was easy enough. Just a handful of minutes later they were seated cross-legged on pillows stuffed with moss, with woven straw covers, in a hut that really was what it looked like: a framework of poles, bundles of thatch tied on with vines. Frank called it a yurt; Oran wondered how bundles of grass could keep the rain out.

    “Call it Elder”, Caval instructed as they waited. He knew the question he’d just raised. “When First become elderly, their bodies change, so they aren’t ‘he’ or ‘she’ any more.” Frank started to ask how that fit with breeding with humans, but the Elder arrived.

    “I can tell you the history of my people”, it began. “Once there were large cities, and we filled the land. We became too many, so disease struck. Almost all died, but not all. Survivors gathered. One who had been an Elder gave leadership. He bade them search out bands, and bring them together. Those bands came here and joined into one. But they were not yet the People.
    “Disease struck again. Skin became black and flaky for those struck. Many died. The rest were changed.
    “Some bands had moved into the nearest city. I know not whether the disease struck them. But strange vessels came from the sky. The city threw light and energy at them, and the vessels did so in return. One vessel fell to the earth and struck ground in the city.
    “There was much death. So those who dwelt here made a covenant, and swore an oath to never be violent. The People were born.
    “Since then, we remain the People. A thousand and more years have passed, and we remain. We do no violence. We make no war. We live, and share life.”

    It took Antonio till halfway through the Elder’s speech to realize it was speaking Lost British English. When it finished, he asked about that.

    “You are not that people. Yet you resemble then. I ventured that you understood the speech. I am pleased to be correct.”

    Antonio nodded. He liked speaking directly instead of through Frank. “How can you breed with humans?” he asked.

    “At first, with great difficulty. Some few had a talent which eased the process. Many accepted human partners when they came, to make us safe from the disease, should it come again. None now are purely what we were. Each generation moves slowly away from what the disease will know.”

    “Are you sure it’s still around?” Oran inquired.

    The Elder nodded. “It lives, in the city. For this reason the city is called Forbidden.”

    “Hey! The Escobars call it forbidden!” he exclaimed. “Do you know them?”

    “I know not this name. Therefor, we know them not.”

    “The Haudenosaunee – I bet they’ve been there”, Cristobal suggested. “The way they move, they could go across the world.”

    “Around the world”, Oran corrected. “But I get you’re right. Osvaldo didn’t know why it was forbidden. I bet they said, ‘It’s forbidden to you’, so the Escobars expect other people can go there.
    “But if it’s full of disease, Devon and everybody are in trouble.”

    Tepocah shook his head. “Oran, I’ve seen that city. They would be there by now, and gone. That’s where they were when you were attacked in the mind.”

    “Oh – right. Duh. Memory fart.” He turned back to the Elder. “Sorry. What else should we know?”


    “The guidings, you know; else you would not be here itself. Have you questions?”

    Frank did. “The fasces the Consul carried. What exactly do they represent?” In reply, the Elder turned and took a plaque off the wall, and handed it to Frank with what passed for a smile on the face.

    “Whoa – Antonio, there are inscriptions! Both have the initials ‘SPQP’. The hammer-head one also says ‘Senatus’, and the other says ‘Populus’. But it should be ‘SPQR’, not . . . . “ His face lit up. “Yes! Remember we thought the hammer represented peace? It does!” their interpreter said excitedly. “In ancient Rome it was ‘Senatus Populusque Romanus’. This is ‘Senatus Populusque Pacis! Or – why not ‘serenus’?”

    “Not ‘serenus’ because we are the People of Peace, not the Peaceful People. The phrase does not describe us; it sets forth that to which we are pledged.”

    “Have you ever seen aliens here?” asked Oran. “They come in big groups. They eat human children.”

    The Elder shook its head. “Never any such. We would be pressed to remain in peace, should they eat children.”

    Antonio’s temper surged. “You’d let them eat children? What kind of creatures are you?!” he demanded.

    “Creatures pledged to peace”, came the even reply. “There are other ways. Speak of this: are there ways besides violence to protect the children?”

    “Not forever”, Oran informed it grimly. “The best way is to build big stone walls that lean out at the top. But they hate human fortresses, so once they find that, they just keep coming. Oh – and they don’t like to cross water.”

    “Thank you for this knowledge”, the Elder pronounced. “Now, I must go, and share it with the others.” Without ceremony, it stood and departed.

    “That is not rudeness”, Caval informed them the moment the Elder was gone. “It is custom. Elders think of everything in our lives, so they do not bear a burden of ceremony.” He looked out where the Elder had gone. “In truth, you have been honored: the Elders gave one to speak to you. Doubly honored, for the Elder valued your information.”

    Antonio chuckled. “I hate ceremony, but I get stuck with it anyway. Oran, think I could get away with that stunt?

    Oran grinned. “At Cavern Hold, sure. At your own place – never. Samson and Montdragón would find ways to totally make you suffer.”

    “Yeah – the servants tell the master what to do. And don’t remind me”, Antonio admonished with a wagging finger, “that Rita explained how it was no different back home.”

    “Except we weren’t important back there”, Oran replied. “It feels weird, being important.”

    “I’d say you’re doing quite well at it, myself”, Frank volunteered. “Your” – he caught himself before he mentioned Rigel, and so changed words – “men obey and respect you, after all.”



    Two days later, after observing them and guiding them around, over breakfast at the inn – where Oran still felt odd, not having to pay – Caval announced he would introduce them to someone important.

    “Now we’ll find out why we were being watched”, Oran said as they stood, Cristobal downing the last of his herbal tea. The two Scouts and Tepocah grinned at each other, at the sight of the surprise on the other faces. “Don’t worry, ‘Tonio”, Scout Two continued. “They don’t even know how to wrestle here – we three kids could take a dozen of them... if they were dangerous. And there are only two. So let’s go!”

    “Friends, the Consil would speak with you”, the man immediately outside the door said. “If you would please come?”

    Antonio looked to Caval with a raised eyebrow. “It will be fine”, the local said. “He has no plans for the day.” So they went.


    The Consul stood at the edge of the town, by the gate. He didn’t look happy; mostly he looked puzzled. “Ah, Antonius!” he exclaimed as the party of visitors arrived. “Please, you must aid me – the task set to me comes thanks to you. Walls”, he added, seeing Antonio’s puzzled look.

    Oran raised a hand. “Actually, that was me. What about walls?”

    “The Elders met – all the Elders. The Senate met. It is agreed, we must make the wall of which you spoke. But we, none of us, know anything of building more than small brick walls. Please, show us how to protect our peace.”




    <image of townhouse/inn showing yurts to one side>

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  23. #1473
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli,
    This was a most enlightening chapter. Learning about the first, and the plague, and the limited then slightly increased interbreeding.

    Friends, Ronams, Countrymen, lend me your ear - and your engineer!


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli

    I read this when it was first posted, butt was pressed for time, and was meaning to come back to reply later. Well ... I guess 'later' became much later than I intended.

    Thanks for 're-aiming' my brain as to where/what/when we are now. I no longer seem to retain things as easily as I used to.

    Always fascinated to hear more about The City, and what happened on The Planet. Now I'm trying to decide if The Snatcher is related to The People, of if they're someone else in battle with whoever imported The Others. At least we know The Snatcher brought in Humans to help. And, now I'm leaning toward thinking The People may have simply been caught in the middle of something much bigger. 'Tis fun to 'wonder'!

    Always looking forward to More!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanimal View Post
    Kuli

    I read this when it was first posted, butt was pressed for time, and was meaning to come back to reply later. Well ... I guess 'later' became much later than I intended.

    Thanks for 're-aiming' my brain as to where/what/when we are now. I no longer seem to retain things as easily as I used to.

    Always fascinated to hear more about The City, and what happened on The Planet. Now I'm trying to decide if The Snatcher is related to The People, of if they're someone else in battle with whoever imported The Others. At least we know The Snatcher brought in Humans to help. And, now I'm leaning toward thinking The People may have simply been caught in the middle of something much bigger. 'Tis fun to 'wonder'!

    Always looking forward to More!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    As always, your imagination amazes.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    "People of Peace" is a translation of Daoine Sidhe, who are the Fair Folk of Celtic myth and legend. They're the subset of the Tuatha Dé Danann who chose to stay in Ireland after their defeat by the Milesians (or Gaels, that is...humans).
    ____
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    Re: Fit for Life

    ^
    It was also a title applied to the Anasazi of the American southwest.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    "Hopi" also means "the peaceful."
    ____
    If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. -- Voltaire (1694-1778).

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    Re: Fit for Life

    200
    Gifts


    Oran looked over to Antonio, who just bowed very slightly and motioned for Oran to go ahead. “Fine, but you butt in if I get something wrong. I know what the walls should look like, but not how they’re built – well, not completely.” With a deep breath and a sigh he turned to the Consul.

    “First, where to put them. You have a street around most of the outside of the town. Measure out twice that width more. Then make a line outside that, one that curves around the whole town but doesn’t curve inward. It can curve inward in special places – I’ll walk around and mark them for you. That line will be the inside of your wall.
    “Here, the wall will be outside the gate. You build another gate out there, and make this an inner gate. Any place you want to be able to go in and out, do the same thing – an outer gate and an inner one. Your inner gates could be the Gate of Peace, the Gate of d’Aragon, the Gate of Ronams, and the Gate of the First.
    “To build the wall, start with a ditch. Antonio, you know how deep to go?”

    “More or less. The softer the soil, the deeper and wider. Any time you can get to bedrock, that’s best. Um, if the soil drains well, the foundation should go in fast, so you don’t end up working in mud. I learned that from Sir Cortez.”

    “Okay – you teach someone that. Now, where to start....” The Scout closed his eyes and thought. “Tepocah, if the Aliens ever came here, what direction would they come from? There’s the Sea, and your people south of it. The Escobars are ‘way north....”

    “They would come north of the Sea”, Tepocah answered confidently. “Nothing would stop them, there.” Antonio didn’t like it, but he had to agree; for the present, Rigel would have enough trouble establishing the barrier between the Constant Hills and Hills’ Edge. Now Tepocah closed his eyes, turned slowly, and pointed. After a moment he adjusted his aim. “From there.”

    Oran nodded agreement. “Makes sense. Somehow I don’t think any Aliens will ever get past the Haudenosaunee.” He knew it was a boast; no humans could stand forever against a serious attack of those monsters.

    “So”, he said to the Consul, “the place to start is around on the side pointing that way. I don’t know where you’ll get stone, but you’ll need a lot.”

    “What of all the soil?” the Consul asked.

    “Oh – we’ll have to show you where to dig, because that line is the inside of your wall. To start – if there’s a forest around here! – make a palisade just outside that line, and pile your dirt from the ditch against it. The stone will be the outside of the wall – you’ll fill in between with dirt.”

    The Consul nodded, and sighed. “Never have the Peaceful People had such a project. For stone, there are benches -- places where rock juts up out of the earth. There are three near the town. We will dig a second ditch, true, one to hold water?” Oran and Antonio both nodded. “Thus our beginning shall be made there: cutting that ditch, and using stone for the wall.” He sighed again and looked around. “I thank you, for the Senate and the Elders. Now, I must find workers.” Oran didn’t think that would be hard; there seemed to him to be an army’s worth of people doing almost nothing, all day long.

    The Consul liked ceremony; Antonio and Oran humored him. None of the others counted; only the two Vortex Snatched had leadership rank.


    “Hidalgo Antonio, it is my honor to introduce to you my friend, Guillermo Anselmo Marikos d’Aragon de Paz.” With that, Caval bowed to each, and sat beside Guillermo. The introduction had been in Spanish, so Antonio answered in kind.

    “We have no such ranks among us”, Guillermo said, almost sluggishly. To the Snatched, he looked like a case of depression – slack face, moody eyes, every motion slow.

    Caval intervened. “Guillermo, these are the ones the Elders talked about so long! the ones who waited patiently outside the gate, learning the speech so they could converse with the Consul with respect! Their ways are different!”

    “What wrong is there in the ways of peace?” Guillermo asked stubbornly.

    “Nothing”, Antonio responded softly. “But not everyone can enjoy it. Many places in the world, if you try to live in peace, you don’t live.”

    Guillermo stared sullenly. “I should go to one of those places.”

    For a moment everyone else sat in shock. Oran broke the chill. “What, you want to die? You could stop eating, and do that! Why are you acting like you’re doomed?!” And why do we want to talk to him? he mouthed to Caval.

    “My years now are five by seven. Soon they will be one more, and one less. I come to this square of years, fully a man, and what have I done? Nothing. I leave no mark, no achievement for my people.” Guillermo sighed, his head rotating back forward to stare at the window, not as by choice, but seemingly by reflex.

    “Guillermo, you could!” Caval urged, squeezing a large shoulder, mouthing to Oran, he gets like this often. “Look at them! Tell me what you see!”

    With a sigh like he had to face torture, Guillermo turned slowly, though doing little more than glance at the group. “They are from somewhere else.”

    “Oh, wake up and think! What do they look like? Remember–“

    “I remember the book, Cav. So they look like the old pictures? They’ll just be going away.” He gave Antonio a disgusted look. “Besides, his lancers have armor of wood – they only look like the pictures!”

    “Want to test one?” Oran asked, not quite casually. “We could let you test one.”

    A flicker of interest showed briefly, smothered by his sullen attitude. “You think I would wear one, and let you strike me? A foolish game.”

    “No – I’d wear one, and you could strike me”, Cristobal snapped out. “You’d know it’s a fair test because I’m not even a lancer, so I can’t know any fancy tricks they might have.”

    Guillermo’s back straightened like a raft blown up by lung power. He stared at Cristobal, who looked half his own weight. “You offer honestly?”

    “He does”, Oran answered. “He’s under my command, so I’ll make sure he’s honest about it. “But, of course you have to do it the right way.”

    Guillermo snorted. “A trick! Already, a trick! You will require me to use a sword, and bring me condemnation.”

    Oran shook his head, counting to three to reestablish slipping calm. “No sword – a lance.”

    “With a sharp point on the end – another weapon.”

    “Not a weapon. I’ve seen boys here playing in the street with a ball and sticks for hitting it. A lance, for this, is just a man-sized stick.” He flashed a grin. “And Cristobal is your ball.”

    “A game.” Guillermo looked doubtful.

    “It is”, Frank assured him. “The French called it ‘jeu de lance’, or ‘joute’. It’s the ‘game of the lance’. The lance has no point; it’s flat on the end. Sometimes the end is carved into a fist. There are points awarded, depending where and how well you strike with that fist.”

    “So I run at him with a lance and thump his breastplate. A hammer would be better!” Guillermo’s sarcasm bit hard.

    “Um, no”, Oran disagreed. “That’s not how the game works. You charge at him on horseback, and thump him. You want to test his breastplate, so you thump him on it.”

    Guillermo stared, then barked a bitter laugh. “I know nothing of riding a horse.”

    Oran put on a bright face. “Well, then you’ll have to learn!”

    Caval cut in. “Guillermo, when did the last d’Aragon ride a horse?”

    “Generations ago. They all died. But–“

    “You would be the first of us since we settled here to ride. You would be remembered.”

    Oran bit his lip, Antonio held his breath, as Guillermo stared at Caval. “My friend”, he said at last, “you are right. And if I break this breastplate, for that I will be remembered as well!” He turned to Oran. “Scout Oran, teach me to ride. Tomorrow I shall break your breastplate of wood!”

    “Let’s go pick a horse”, Antonio said.


    “How’s he doing?” Antonio inquired the next evening as Oran stumbled into their brick and timber cabin just ahead of dusk.

    The Scout groaned. “He can ride bareback at a trot and not fall off. He complains I won’t let him go faster. He complains about having to learn to put the saddle on himself. He complains when he doesn’t get it right. The biggest lesson today was never, ever take out your anger on your horse. Tomorrow he gets to try riding at a trot in the saddle.”

    “That’s easy” Cristobal commented.

    Oran grinned. “Try it without stirrups.” He looked thoughtful. “In fact, that’s an order – you be out there tomorrow, too. You got off easy learning to ride because we were moving.”

    Cristobal scowled. “You put me where he can laugh at me.”

    “Better than hearing him complain all the time”, Oran responded with a grin.


    Just after sunup the next morning, Oran and Cristobal found Guillermo arrived ahead of them. He had set his saddle on one of the rails where horses were tied, and was standing on it. Oran motioned Cristobal to silence, and they stood watching. Guillermo shifted his weight carefully, then smoothly dropped to his knees. The saddle rocked, but he reacted smoothly, balancing until it settled, then without hesitation slid his legs apart and dropped into a sitting position. Oran cleared his throat to let Guillermo know he wasn’t alone.

    “Good day, Scouts!” Guillermo called. The two Scouts look at each other: the greeting was positively cheerful. “Caval reminded me I used to run on ridgetops, right along the pole. So I came out to reclaim that balance. I was dancing on the rail – now I have balance on the saddle!”

    “Good job”, Oran responded. “Now – get your horse. Cristobal is going to do lessons with you today – he skipped some things when he learned.” Despite the reclaimed balance, Guillermo toppled when he tried to dismount. “And that’s why you strap the saddle tight”, Cristobal noted. Almost immediately he winced.

    <if student / teacher not> came from Runner, a sharp correction. Oran grinned at Cristobal; he wasn’t about to disagree with his cat.


    Guillermo skipped dinner at the inn, determined to make his balance transfer to a saddle without stirrups. When Oran and Cristobal returned, the d’Aragon rider was lifting saddle from steed. “Enough”, he informed Oran flatly. The dirt on his right shoulder was explanation enough.

    “Works for me”, Oran replied agreeably. He sighed. “I wish the Romans here had built baths – I’m stiff from cold.”

    “There is a bath at the temple”, Guillermo informed him. “But you must bring an offering.”

    “There’s a temple?” Oran hadn’t continued exploring the way Antonio had.

    Guillermo nodded, seeming surprised they didn’t know. “The Temple of Peace. The offering must be something that once you part with it, your life will be more peaceful.”

    Oran stood thinking while his two students for the day put their gear away and led their horses off to be brushed down. Finally he gave up – he couldn’t think of anything he owned that fit the description. But if he slept on it . . . maybe tomorrow.



    A child screamed. Antonio, Oran, and Cristobal responded by reflex, dashing toward the sound. Not far inside the gate, something that looked like a snake slithered across the street, the girl standing terrified in its path. Adults yelled at her to move. While it was still two long paces away, a young man dashed in and carried her clear.

    Antonio didn’t think; he reacted. His right hand snaked inside his vest and came out in one smooth motion; a metallic string of glitters erupted between his hand and the creature. When a man cried in protest and tried to block Antonio, Rigel’s Hunter ducked low and flipped him over his shoulders. The snake-thing was wriggling, trying to get free; Antonio dove.

    “Don’t permit it to bite!” someone yelled. Antonio had no intention of giving it a chance: he caught it just behind the head with his left hand, pulled his steel star free of the packed dirt with the other, rolled, and came up holding the thing at arm’s length.

    “It’d be beautiful if it didn’t have feet.” Oran peered at it with Scout sight. “More, if it wasn’t dusty.”

    “A snake with legs”, Antonio noted. “I wish it would hold still so I can count.”

    “Eight”, Cristobal reported. “The front ones are smaller, but they bend more.”

    “You used a weapon!” a voice accused. Antonio turned to see an Elder.

    “Here”, Antonio responded, handing his star to Oran. “Show ‘em. Elder”, he went on, “it’s a tool. See the tips? Those are pointed, sort of like a hay fork. They’re made to stick into the ground or a tree or something. The fingers are long, and narrow. That leaves lots of room between, so if it lands right, it traps what I aimed at and keeps it from going anywhere. All I did was use a tool to stop this... from chasing anyone else.
    “What is it, anyway?”

    “We call it a rizelni.” The Consul came to look at Antonio’s star. “If you threw this at a man, it would do great harm.”

    “If I hit you over the head with a hoe, it could do great harm”, Oran pointed out. “That doesn’t make a hoe a weapon.”

    Consul looked at Elder looked at Consul. Oran had the feeling they were communicating by thought, though the only evidence was changing expressions. Finally the Elder bowed to the Consul, who turned to Antonio. “We accept that it is a tool. But I keep it. Perhaps it can be a useful tool for us.” He looked at the rizeni, which had no marks on it – and which to Antonio’s relief had calmed down. “How long did you require to learn it so well?”

    “About twelve years. It’s not easy.” Antonio sighed in relief at the sight of two women with a tightly-woven basket coming for him.

    “Twelve years. You should give some lessons. Tell, please, when was the last time you erred, and did harm with it?”

    “You mean missed?” Antonio thought while he dropped his mellowly squirming prize into the basket. “Wow. Two years... no, almost three. It was the night Ronnie and I–“ He bit his upper lip to stop the reaction...

    ...he and Ronnie and the two girls, and Ronnie agreed to smoke something with them; Antonio went out to look at the stars and drink his Olde English; a crash brought him running back, minutes later, to find Ronnie and the girls in convulsions, foaming at the mouth... the coroner’s report said the cocaine/meth/oxy mix had been cut with rat poison and laundry powder. Antonio had gone hunting for the murderer who had done that to his friend, but he arrived to find the dealer already tied up, a funnel duct-taped to his mouth, and two guys looking over an array of bottles, jugs, and jars. They let him pour the vinegar to wash the mix they made down the killer’s throat.

    He and Ronnie had picked up the girls by showing off with throwing stars. He’d missed one toss, trying to pierce a bottle cap from twenty feet with only the indirect light of a street lamp to show it. One of the girls had said, “Bad luck! We’re all in trouble now!”, and giggled. Ronnie had said, “Antonio sheds bad luck”. An hour later, they were dead.


    “Hey, ‘Tonio.” Oran’s soft voice cut through. “Tell me about it, later, ‘kay?”

    “Yeah – almost three years ago, was the last time I missed”, Antonio declared confidently, as though he’d been thinking it over to be sure.

    He got invited to give an exhibition. His response was that people should bring things they could imagine might need trapping.

    “Have fun”, Oran told him teasingly. “I think horse-riding lessons will be more relaxing.”


    Where there should have been a pair of riding students Oran found just one. Before he could ask where Guillermo was, Cristobal pointed and laughed: there on the rail for saddles – so they wouldn’t have to touch the ground – was a saddle and blanket and bridle and lead... and a neat stack of clothes. “He’s off naked”, Cristobal reported through continued laughter. “He put the saddle on the rail, said hello to her, then suddenly stripped and climbed up!” The Scout pointed again. “He went what you call counterclockwise. They were starting a canter when they disappeared.”

    Oran shuddered at the thought of riding a cantering horse... naked. A canter was a jarring enough ride without sensitive things to worry about. With a saddle, a guy could stand, if there were stirrups, but bareback – it wasn’t safe. “How long ago?”

    Cristobal considered. He didn’t have the innate time sense Oran did, but his guestimates were rarely off by more than fifteen percent. “Maybe fifteen minutes.” He grinned. “He’s going to freeze his arse off. He can’t be even half way.”

    But the former Quistador was wrong: Guillermo was considerably more than half the distance around the town, more even than two thirds. Shouting began near the work site for the town’s walls, shouting that mixed with laughter and then cheers as the d’Aragon rider flashed by. Workers, just getting started, gaped at the sight of a naked man racing by on a horse early on a day when the morning’s frost would last past midday – all the day, in the shadows – and some dropped tools in their amazement.

    As the galloping pair came around the gate toward their starting point, Oran waved for Guillermo to stop. The response was a whoop and words shredded by the speed of his passage. On the next circuit, Scout Two fared no better. Guillermo didn’t do more than wave until he’d made five trips – by that time, people were laughing and cheering the whole way around their town. He didn’t slow down when he reached Oran, either, just rode on by, then started slowing, and looped back. When he came up, he was sitting straight and relaxed, as steady as any of Antonio’s lancers.

    “She had a teaching for me, this mare”, Guillermo explained as he came to a stop. “Just her, and just me – no saddle, nothing else at all.” His grin reminded Oran of Casey in his most delighted-kid moments. “So I went.”

    “Cool her down”, Cristobal snapped, staring at the mare’s heaving chest.

    “She’s fine”, Guillermo countered calmly, patting the steady neck. “But she does need dried for the blanket and saddle.” He slid down, grabbed a towel, and went to work.

    Cristobal started to say something else, but Oran grabbed his ankle – Cristobal was mounted; he’d wanted to chase the two down, but Oran had decided against it. “They linked”, he said softly, low for just Cristobal’s ears. “Like Austin and Titanium – they know what each other are feeling or need.” His voice was a little strained.

    “You’re envious”, Cristobal accused. “You with the Scout gifts, and you’re envious!”

    “Wouldn’t I want that, too?” Oran inquired softly.

    “Maybe it’s a ‘horseman spark’”, Cristobal suggested. “Maybe it’s a talent like ours. Why should you want more than one?”

    Oran opened his mouth, froze for several seconds, then closed it. His fellow Scout was right: being envious of someone else’s gift was foolish. Why should someone who spent most of his time on foot, often barefoot, expect or want a gift that benefitted people for riding? It would hardly be worth it – it would be unfair to Scout, his horse, who would spend so much time without his rider, yet aware of his rider’s joy that didn’t need the horse! How cruel that would be! For a cavalry scout, it would be a great thing, but not a real Scout, on foot.

    In his head there was laughter: Runner, not quite mocking him. Oran grinned at the ridiculous irony he’d made: he had a bond with the fiercest creature they knew, and he was envious over a connection with a horse? Briefly he felt like a total idiot, then burst into laughter – laughter at himself, at Runner’s humor, at Cristobal’s good sense, laughter of joy at being just what he was: Scout Two in service to Rigel the First of whatever.




    <image of guy riding naked>

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli,
    A great update! The study in international relations continues.
    The Ronams and company begin to learn more AND accept more of their honoured guests.

    The beginnings of the construction of their defenses against "the others" starts in earnest, while the d'Aragon descendents become reacquainted with their equestrian friends - and discover innate skills they didn't know they had.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

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    Re: Fit for Life

    I especially liked the backstory for Antonio.
    ____
    If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. -- Voltaire (1694-1778).

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Críostóir View Post
    I especially liked the backstory for Antonio.
    Explains a little, doesn't it?

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    A rizelni? Seems more scary than actually dangerous, or is it? Interesting that it "chilled". So, it must have 'moods', rather then sheer primal attack urges when cornered. Sounds like it might be a few rungs higher on the mental scales than a snake. I'm guessing they're indigenous?

    And, seems Guillermo certainly came around quite quickly! Amazing what happens when we can establish a bond with an animal, whether horse, dog, or Cat! Then again, we're all animals, too, which makes those Connections possible for all of us.

    Always looking forward to more adventures of 'Our' Snatched, whether BIG, or small.

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Kulindahr View Post
    Explains a little, doesn't it?
    Just so. blah blah blah
    ____
    If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. -- Voltaire (1694-1778).

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    Re: Fit for Life

    I'm pissed -- I had things set up for a final edit of the next chapter, and after a computer problem, the array of documents was gone. So I started sorting through to do the setup again. I was getting to where I thought posting would be happening soon, and the computer lost the set up again.

    I don't know if there's a bug in the WP or what, but this is getting old. Anyway, I'm trying to have patience....

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Sorry to hear you're having systems issues somewhere along the line.

    Been hoping you found the time and artistic muse to have been developing the story - I know you've had a lot going on in the real world.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by DonQuixote View Post
    Sorry to hear you're having systems issues somewhere along the line.

    Been hoping you found the time and artistic muse to have been developing the story - I know you've had a lot going on in the real world.
    It's been developing, but with other issues around I can't seem to hold the whole thing together in my head at once. I relied too much on that and haven't been keeping notes the way I should, so I have to go back (again) and rebuild. Fortunately I don't think I have to start at the beginning again; I feel the link I've forgotten is in Part IV or later.

    Right now I'm reading again about the preparations for departing on the "Great Trek South", where Rigel meets Eldon for the first time.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    201
    Delivery


    Rigel turned and stared back at the tower they were leaving behind. It was Kevin MacNeil’s work, he was sure: at the first and second camps out from what had become Fort Winchester that his great expedition south had left, the Lost British had strengthened the defenses, added barracks, and raised tall towers – watchtowers, to see if anything moved, but also signal towers, high places from which to watch for signals from patrols. The people holding these positions and laboring to turn them into defensible forts were optimistic, an attitude engendered by the fact that three days before Rigel had landed back in the cove where they’d first “met” the Sea, word had come of another attack on the Wall – where humans had triumphed. This time, the number of Aliens that had reached the top could be counted on two hands, and the humans lost on one. The only real concern had been that the Aliens had tried something new: annoyed – or whatever emotion Aliens had – by the devastating fire of ships close in along the shore, they’d used their own bodies, Alien gripping Alien, to form a bridge to reach Howe’s flagship. Rear Admiral Lord Howe had shown them what oil floating on the water can do when a little Greek fire hit the Aliens closest to his vessel. They’d tried again on the other side of the peninsula, but Signals had done their job well; the same tactic yielded the same crisped, blackened shells floating on the surface. Those shells had provided the ships’ Marines an opportunity for practice: hitting an Alien husk bobbing on the sea with a rifle, from the rigging of a moving warship, made entertaining sport.

    Twice as many Aliens had struck, but the Wall had boasted a complete garrison this time, with solid reserves – and there weren’t any gaps to need filling with ships’ timbers. The towers behind the wall, with their cannon, had thinned the numbers of enemy enough that the defenders on the wall could stop and think between actions, a fact that increased their effectiveness threefold, according to General McCutcheon.

    “They’ll just keep coming”, Rigel muttered. “They won’t stop.”

    Rita shook her head. “They know that, silly. That’s why Shelby and Woodman are beginning to raise the Wall.”

    “And put another, higher one behind it”, Rigel recalled. “And during the winter, to make the ground in front of the Wall into a maze of pits and traps.” He grinned bleakly. “And Ravi got them designing land mines.” His inner vision showed an unrelenting assault by the Foe, wave after wave, each bigger, and a never-ending battle by the Lost British to keep strengthening the fortifications. If it went on, they’d lose. He patted the sword at his side: that was where he came in, to change the war by attacking the Foe, instead of waiting for them. Do nothing but react to the enemy, and you have already lost, the familiar inner voice declared.

    “And you’re amazed they’re putting forts out here, using our camps”, Rita asserted, “even though it makes good sense.”

    “They’ve done nothing but hide for so long.... Now suddenly they’re energized.”

    “But it could all collapse”, Rita responded. “And that’s why you’re worried – their Queen doesn’t have enough solid support; lose one tower, one fort, and they could retreat back to their islands.”

    Riding beside them, Sir Wade Appleway nodded, but said nothing. He and three companions had been dropped on Rigel just before departure, emissaries “from one kingdom to another”, Kevin MacNeil’s letter had stated. More annoying to Rigel than the fact that he now supposedly had a kingdom was that the young noble carried dispatches for Rigel which he wasn’t to hand over until some moment Appleway wouldn’t specify. Rigel was infuriated every time he looked at the dispatch case, at the fact that here he was, the head of that supposed kingdom, but the emissary traveling with him wouldn’t hand over the letters! So he’d stopped looking, and Sir Wade, in abundant consideration, had covered the dispatch bag with a waterproof leather, then set his own travel gear on top.

    Waterproof was becoming a general consideration, too. They’d had a few showers, and while the night before had brought snow, Anaph was certain that at least one big wet storm, well-supplied with lightning and thunder, was coming before snow took over for the season. And as things went, they’d be days from the Constant Hills and shelter when it arrived. That refuge was still twenty days ahead, if they stuck to the camps from the trek south – not that Rigel intended to. “Austin, I don’t like that streak of cloud over there. Pass the word to be ready in case it gets wet.”



    Rain smacked Devon in the nose as he glared at the sky. To the east blue sky reigned, sunshine lighting the rolling savanna; to the west, white clouds sailed a deeper blue, but above his caravan a raft of dark grey plowed along, a finger out of the southwest. “All right”, he growled, “the wagons get their rest. Circle ‘em around, tent up, and – crap, rebuild the things if needed. I don’t feel like traveling in the rain, and I won’t feel like traveling on wet ground.” He stared at the sky like it was a personal insult. “I wonder if Rigel’s out in this.”



    Seven eager faces looked at Oran. “Don deLambert, please speak with us, without Don Antonio.”

    Oran noted Caval among them, but no Guillermo. “Okay, but stop with the ‘deLambert’ thing. I’m Oran. Caval, let’s get Guillermo started on his riding lesson first.”

    The d’Aragon horseman wasn’t alone. Cristobal stood beside him facing a group of six, patiently running them through basics of riding. Oran smiled – not only had Guillermo blossomed into a real rider since his morning of nude riding, but now Cristobal seemed to be stepping up to be an instructor. The Scout let his former-Quistador friend finish his list before interrupting to call him over. “Guillermo, you know those – drill these fellows”, Cristobal directed before joining Oran.

    “Where’d the six come from?” Oran asked.

    Cristobal rolled his eyes. “They were with Guillermo at the horses. They thought they could each have one. I told them no. You weren’t here, so I started them on the foundations so they wouldn’t fidget.” He used the English word, though speaking in Spanish; Antonio had used it a few days earlier and Cristobal seemed to like it.

    “Works for me”, Oran responded. “Since you’re teaching, keep doing it – you can tell, Guillermo can show. I have to talk to some people.” Curiosity poked up. “Why are they here all of a sudden?”

    Cristobal grinned. “Guillermo is like a hero now, after he went loco and rode naked. One Elder said riding was given him as a gift. Many d’Aragon think the idea is exciting. Some wanted to learn. Six got picked by their elders.”

    Oran chuckled. “Good thing they limited it. Okay, if anybody argues, tell ‘em I said you can use blankets and saddles to practice. Have fun.” Cristobal saluted, fist to chest, and Oran returned it with the British palm out, index finger knuckle to eyebrow version Chen had taught the Scouts.


    Caval introduced his friends once they’d settled in a back room of the inn. The third, a slender, dark-looking fellow who looked a little like a picture of a gaunt Don Quixote Oran remembered, with the very Spanish-sounding name Inigo, spoke up the moment introductions were over. “Don Oran, Don Antonio will take us north, yes?”

    That was something Antonio didn’t want known yet. Oran wasn’t surprised someone had made the connection, though. “Why would he do that?” he asked, stalling.

    “You cannot deny you come from the north!” another protested. Oran remembered his name as Velix. “Don Antonio and his lancers, they look like the old pictures! You are Conquistadors!”

    Oran shook his head. “No, we’re not Conquistadors. That’s a long story, though.” Better to let things out than be accused of hiding anything, he decided. “But we live not too far from where they are. Don Antonio is almost a neighbor to them.”

    “An independent lord!” one called Mirin exclaimed softly. “I knew it – I knew no Conquistador would come after us!”

    “Or if they had, they’d have slaughtered us the moment they did”, Inigo commented. “Oran, in truth, is Don Antonio an independent lord?”

    Oran chuckled. “Independent, no. Independent of the Quistadors – that’s what they call themselves – yes.” They stared. Obviously that was a thought that hadn’t occurred to them. Oran decided to push it. “He serves the same lord I do – I’m more Don Antonio’s ally, really.” Again they stared, internal visions jerking and changing to adapt.

    Mirin was skeptical. “Where are your retainers, if you are his ally?”

    Oran grinned. “I don’t travel with retainers. I’m a Scout. Except for some companions, I work best alone.” Moments later, he was giving a description of what a Scout did, and was capable of. He saw no reason to hold back – except for the ability to communicate over distances, and the partnerships with the great Cats. They were enthralled by tales of Scout exploits, though each was edited to give no impression of how far away it had been or where. Mention of the Celts brought excitement, but Oran refused to say more.

    “How long did you travel, coming here?” demanded Velix. “You hide things from us.”

    Oran nodded. “Yes, I’m hiding things. I’m not Antonio’s vassal, but he’s in command of this expedition. He hasn’t told me I can let you know how far we came, or a lot of other things.” He wondered what he’d tell them if it was up to him, and realized he couldn’t even imagine that – even if he’d been in charge, he had Rigel to answer to, but even if there hadn’t been Rigel, he had to protect everyone else It felt like being on the cross-country team, where you didn’t make choices however you pleased, you always made decisions for the best for the team, even if it was whether to have a second piece of cake the night before an afternoon race. “So while I could tell you how many steps I’ve taken and strides I’ve run to get here, I won’t, until he says it’s good.”

    Caval leaned forward. “But he didn’t just happen to come here. You and don Antonio came looking for us – only that makes sense.”

    “All the Elders have thought through to there”, Mirin added. “We were first, I believe – but all wait to learn your true reason for coming.”

    “Yes!” Velix agreed. “The Ronams are certain you have Ronam blood, but all can see you look like Conquistadors. So why are you here?”

    Oran sighed. “Yeah, we came looking for you. Antonio has... an obligation. He just wants to learn enough to make sure he gets it right.” They nodded at that: the whole atmosphere of the town focused on getting things right; it was a major reason behind all the ceremony.

    “And you will not speak to us of this obligation”, Caval concluded. “So, we will not ask. Thank you for speaking with us.” The meeting broke up, but Caval and Mirin stuck with Oran. They stopped on the street corner, the two of them facing him quite serious.

    “I believe don Antonio seeks the heir to the d’Aragon name here”, Caval related softly. “You have already met him, and the one who stands next after him. Oran, he must speak soon.”

    “The d’Aragon meet in four days”, Mirin informed Oran. “If he wishes, I will claim time for him to speak.”


    Velix motioned the others close. “Don Antonio will speak – don Oran believes so. There is time – run, we four, to Fevona, Irbottu, Garovib, and Lelejuhan, to bring others to hear him. I run most rapidly, so I will go to Lelejuhan.” The four gripped hands, much like players in a sport in a huddle. When they broke contact, they left at a jog.



    Oran took heart from the presence of Tepocah and two other Haudenosaunee. Their knowledge of the People of Peace might make the difference. What Antonio was trying was a risk, but they’d all agreed it was the right thing to do – whether the town would agree was an open question.

    As on all previous mornings, they approached mounted, with their escort of lancers who went through their salute and withdrawal. It was common enough that the number of townspeople coming to watch had shrunk to a handful, but this day it was again a crowd waiting to watch the spectacle. Accustomed to the different divisions of the Peaceful, Oran saw at a glance that the assembly was almost all d’Aragon: clearly, they expected something. And why not? This was the day when Antonio would address their gathering – word had gotten out -- so maybe they hoped for something different. Well, they’d get that!

    It was the same, now monotonous ceremony, right up until the question about metal. Antonio didn’t say a thing; instead, he solemnly undid the binding on a leather rain cover on Muskatel’s side, and took out the bundle underneath. Oran caught the soft leather wrapping as Antonio rolled the sheath, then the Scout stepped back. Antonio turned to face the Gate watcher. “I have this”, he said, and brought out the Sword of d’Aragon in its leather cover.

    “A blade! You know you may bring no weapon within – leave your metal outside!”

    Antonio lifted the relic of Earth higher, drawing it a handspan, turning it a little to catch the early sunlight. He looked up at the steel, wondering again if the hand that had forged it in ancient Toledo had been in his own world, or a parallel. With a soft smile the Hunter lowered it again, held upright now before his face. “Friend watcher, it is not my metal”, he declared firmly. “It belongs to one within.”

    A man stepped forward beside the watcher, a Roman by dress. “You brought it with you! How can it belong to one here?”

    “Because it belonged to his ancestor”, Antonio explained patiently. “It was the blade of the one who sent his people south for safety, and remained to keep their going a secret. Now it belongs to his heir – and his heir is here.” Excitement started stirring among the d’Aragon crowd. Antonio lifted it high again. “It is the sword of the House of d’Aragon. I brought it here to give it to its rightful owner.” He caught the eyes of the Roman, then of the watcher at the Gate. “And I will take it in, and return it to its House”.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  39. #1489
    HUGS! ;-)
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Hmmm ... Quite Intriguing!

    Though it's been QUITE a while, this update has renewed my continuing curiosity, and tremendous appreciation, for your epic story!

    THANK YOU!, Kuli!! And, Please, MORE!!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli,
    I saw that you had posted, and unfortunately, I didn't get the e-mail notification I should have - it seems to be acting up a bit.

    Great update. I agree, it's been a long time, and I had to send to the long term memory banks to pull out where we were and what was going on.

    A monumental place to bring us at the close - the return of The Sword of d'Aragon!

    I feel a Dodge commercial coming on - The Rules Have Changed - that particular piece of metal is going inside, watcher be damned, lol.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  41. #1491

    Re: Fit for Life

    Thanks for the new chapter. I have been checking periodically for more since the last appeared. I was pleased this time to find Delivery. Fit For Life is a great story, if a bit complex, but I check back on older chapters when updates appear.

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Orhiker32 View Post
    Thanks for the new chapter. I have been checking periodically for more since the last appeared. I was pleased this time to find Delivery. Fit For Life is a great story, if a bit complex, but I check back on older chapters when updates appear.
    Welcome aboard!

    Veterans here will be able to tell you that having fans energizes a writer. Kyanimal energizes me often with his creative ideas of where the story might be heading....

    For the record, the next chapter is mostly done, but once again I'm wrestling with a few paragraphs to get them right, and then I want to check against some past chapters.

    Complex??? Compared to life Fit for Life is easy!

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    BACK to work, Kuli. You've been slacking off long enough.

    Where's that whip smilie Chaz loves so much?

    (What's that saying about "you only hurt the ones you love?"!)

    Hope things are good up in the Pacific NW.


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Kulindahr View Post
    Kyanimal energizes me often with his creative ideas of where the story might be heading....
    For the record, I've only been quoting some of the emails that Bammer keeps sending me!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

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    Re: Fit for Life

    For what it's worth...

    I found some inconsistencies in chapter 166 -- I had Inquisitors dead and then alive. It's a minor detail, but I think I'll ask Auto to do a substitution.

    Just in case you want to go try to find the difference....

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

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    Re: Fit for Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Kulindahr View Post
    For what it's worth...

    I found some inconsistencies in chapter 166 -- I had Inquisitors dead and then alive. It's a minor detail, but I think I'll ask Auto to do a substitution.

    Just in case you want to go try to find the difference....
    The revised section has been inserted.



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    Re: Fit for Life

    Thanks, Auto!


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

  48. #1498
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    Re: Fit for Life

    202
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    The room was warm, without a fire in sight. The radiator wasn’t efficient enough to drive away the cold by itself, but once a morning fire had gotten the temperature pleasant, the fire providing heat to Ryan’s office was at the other end of a long pipe. He wondered if it would impress his visitor. It didn’t impress him; they didn’t have enough steel to do more than heat his office as a demonstration – though he was happy with the “double boiler” system that kept the thing from banging like old-fashioned ones he’d encountered, and also with the bark-fiber insulation a visiting Celt had suggested. Not only was the insulation effective holding heat, it was comfortable to lean on. As he waited for his visitor, Ryan leaned his head against a round patch of the stuff stuck to the wall behind his chair, letting his mind roam. It kept returning to Devon, laboring northward – slowly, the Scouts said – with steel. He hoped Devon had gotten heaps of steel, wagon after wagon loaded with it! In Ryan’s view, steel was the key to everything.

    The door opened, so Ryan opened his eyes. “Hail, Artur-king – you honor my humble hall.”

    The young leader of the Celts looked around with a crooked smile. “That I honor it, I will not argue. Whether it is humble... how can the home of the high wizard, where things are often not as they appear, be called that?” His eyes fell on sketches and notes covering half a wall. “Yet compared to your dreams, perhaps it is.”

    Ryan rose and they gripped wrists. “Compared to my dreams, it’s wretched. And how fares your realm?” Just when he thought a bone would break, Artur let go. The king didn’t look around; displaying an uncanny ability to recall the positions of things already observed, he backed to his left and dropped into the huge wicker arm chair Ryan kept empty as a matter of discipline.

    Artur went straight to the point. “I need Rigel-lord and Anaph-drûdh. How far are they?”

    “I could call a Scout and tell for sure, but they’re at least two weeks away. What’s the trouble?” Ryan wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

    The reply was one word. “Urien.



    Shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, d’Aragon filled the hall. Standing along the walls, packing the seats, seated on the floor in the aisles, even some bold youths perched in the rafters and window nooks, all looked expectantly at the platform in the front. Outside, ears made do where eyes couldn’t see, where even bodies more strained the capacity of scaffolding thrown up against the walls, between decorative buttresses, once it became clear more meant to attend than the hall could possibly hold.

    Antonio sighed in relief as he entered through the east door. Ever since Caval and a dozen other d’Aragon youth had stepped forward and escorted him into the town, they’d accompanied him everywhere, constantly vigilant against anyone trying to either take the Sword or force Antonio back outside the town. At last he was free of that circle – if not of the escort, who now spread out across the platform like amateur security guards for some celebrity. Left with just Caval and Velix, Antonio mused that he was a celebrity, for the moment: somehow, the message had spread, and the whole d’Aragon part of the People of Peace had come to hear him.

    Caval grasped him by the shoulders and squeezed, then with a nod turned and strode onto the platform. Antonio looked up at the ceiling with its cobalt blue coloring and pattern of dots, a brilliant blue with a fuzzy companion in the center. The meeting hall aimed at the world’s north star, not to the east as he would have expected. That fact reminded him of a night in a tree, looking at stars, showing Rigel that he’d found their new North Star, and feeling comforted that the world had one. Now he tried to draw comfort from a painting of that same sky. That if the roof vanished while he stood there, and he turned in the spot he’d be talking from, he’d see the real north star right where the one on the roof was – that seemed appropriate to the Hunter. In that moment he saw the audience as something like prey – but he wouldn’t be catching them with weapons, rather with words. But in my own way, he admonished himself, perfectly aware he couldn’t talk like Rigel or Rita.

    Caval’s hands were raised, every eye now on him. He waited five, six seconds, then simply said, “Don Antonio is here.” Antonio almost laughed at the introduction; its simplicity was perfect. As he passed Caval on his way to the speaker’s spot, the d’Aragon youth whispered, “They know who you are – just talk.” How had that groundwork been done? Maybe in a town of just thousands, word of mouth could spread it – whatever; it was done, and that was good, because Antonio de la Vega wasn’t good at talking about himself.

    So he decided not to. He kept his smile to himself as he walked to the platform’s center, sword slung over his back, unseen. In the speaker’s spot, he faced them, looking around at the faces – eager, distrustful, uncertain, fearful, expectant – which represented a lost House. He’d come hoping for a few dozen, maybe a hundred – two, at the most – and here were five, maybe ten times his hopes.

    Reaching over his back, he drew the Sword of d’Aragon, and raised it high.




    “Urien.” The name came cold from Artur’s lips, with frustration and sadness. “If Rigel-lord and Anaph-drûdh are two weeks away, he cannot be caught.”

    Ryan accepted that – but he didn’t accept that they had to be two weeks away; that was wagon speed in snow flurries and the occasional hailstorm. “How close would they have to be, to catch him?” he inquired.

    “Half that”, Artur replied flatly. “And they must go straight to Torc Falls, not come this way.”

    Ryan closed his eyes and unrolled his mental map. “MacO’Shannon?”

    Artur nodded. “And O’Flannery. Neither has any love for Urien, and they know the swift ways.”

    His messages were already composed by his subconscious; now Ryan wrote them out and called for a runner. “They’ll have to cross unknown territory”, he told Artur, “But if anyone can, they’ll manage. If this catches him soon enough, Rigel will have to skip visiting the Escobars. He won’t be happy.”

    Their loyalty surely cannot be in doubt. Urien is the threat.” Artur sighed and stomped his foot. “They must catch him.”



    There was a gasp of indrawn breath, a momentary silence, a trio of softly sworn oaths. “It’s real!” came from a dozen directions, some in awe or wonder, some in worry, one clearly a curse.

    “It’s yours”, Antonio declared softly. “I found it in the home of your ancestors, and I swore to bring it back. Finding you wasn’t easy, but I made it.” He’d thought through what he wanted to say, but the words fled. For a moment he stood meeting eyes here and there around the hall. Briefly he marveled at his ability to hold a sword high without strain – hardly the boy who’d been Snatched to a new life!
    “Somewhere among you is the Heir – the one who would be Lord d’Aragon, Señor d’Aragon.” Antonio looked up at the sword, twisting it subtly to catch the light, then out at the audience, again catching eyes. “This blade is his – not mine. I know you’re people of peace, but this is your heritage.” The Hunter took a deep breath. “If anyone knows who it is–“

    Guillermo stood. Eyes turned. “Don’t do it!” a woman’s voice called.

    Guillermo turned. “Mother, it is my destiny. Year after year I have wondered what great thing I would do for our people. Now I understand: this is the moment I have waited for.” Confidently he turned, leaped over his seat to avoid bumping people, and with a strong stride walked purposefully toward the platform.

    When he took Espada de los d’Aragon, the Sword of the d’Aragon, from Antonio’s still-uplifted hand, pandemonium erupted.



    “So much for ‘the peaceful people’”, Antonio muttered as Oran worked at the crushed greave pinned to the Hunter’s arm. Moans filled the hall, the only sounds except the scratch-scratch of claws as Runner paced the beams overhead.

    “They’ve been caged”, Oran responded softly. “When you get caged, you can explode.”

    “A wise truth”, commented Cristobal, his left arm in a sling – a tear, not a break, he’d been assured. “Señor Hunter, you have never been caged, yes?”

    Antonio nodded. “Not really. Trapped, kind of, but not caged. I felt like exploding, though.”

    Now Cristobal nodded. “The people here have been caged for many years – generations, even.” He looked around. “Thanks to God, gato grande Runner was here!”

    It had in fact been Runner who stopped the fighting. A crash had drawn eyes to the vent of light wood in the wall west of the platform, eyes that then witnessed a large furry head emerge, followed by a larger furry body. The sight had brought all motion and sound to a halt; it was the leap from hole to rafters that inspired bodies to move apart – urged on by a hiss where anyone was slow. Runner had halted above Oran, who crawled from beneath a heap of bodies, tugging at a belt knife stuck just above his left hip. “Just a prick, Runner”, Scout Two had called, showing how little blood was on the blade once he extracted it. “But thanks for coming!”

    Oran's brief conversation with the great cat had caused fainting all around the room, with many of those still standing crossing themselves.. The number of women collapsing had put a thorough end to the fracas, as men reflexively moved to catch falling females, men and boys dashed to care for wives or mothers or sisters.

    The silence shifted mode to become like that of a tomb. “Now what?” Antonio muttered.

    “Shut up and hold still”, Oran ordered practically. “I almost had it.” But since he’d lost the grip on the greave, he, too, turned to look.

    A sigh carried across the hall from the figure in the door. Silhouetted by the light outside, his identity became visible as he did, walking in: it was Stankyus, a Ronam, one of the Elders for the whole town. He walked slowly down the aisle, the same path taken by Guillermo not long before.

    Guillermo jumped to his feet, shirt torn, a scratch on his cheek – right hand still clamped firmly on the Sword of his House. “I did what I had to do!” he declared defiantly.

    Stankyus shook his head sadly. “Guillermo, you are a man, not a boy. You do not need my approval for what you have begun.” He cocked his head at the d’Aragon heir. “You do need your own.”

    “I have that!”

    Stankyus searched Guillermo’s face while everyone else but Oran acted like a collection of drug-carved statues. “Do you?” he inquired softly. “You have taken up an ancient heritage. Will you follow where it leads?” Guillermo stood silent. “Will you follow it to wilderness? Will you follow it to hunger?” The Elder’s eyes were commanding, holding Guillermo’s gaze. “Will you follow it to darkness? Will you follow it to fire? Will you follow it to death?”

    The blade trembled just a little as Guillermo let out a low moan of anguish. Then, “Yes!” he hissed. “If it is necessary, to take back what is ours.”

    “‘Llermo, no!” his mother wailed, hers not the only wail of dismay.

    “You shatter the People”, someone accused. Guillermo looked at Antonio, then at Stankyus in appeal.

    The Elder smiled. “You shatter nothing”, he pronounced, less softly yet infinitely firmly. “The People have never built a cage, to confine – always, anyone who wished could have left. Do you know haw many Romans – yes, I know how our name was said once, though now it is awkward on the tongue”, he said in an aside to the Snatched near him. “Do you know how many Ronams have departed? Many, at first; we were warlike. No one speaks of it, but the Elders remember.
    “But you d’Aragon, so determined, so loyal – so steadfastly stubborn! Your concept of duty kept you here, and increased your numbers, even to spreading to other towns! I think it is only your strange faith in the Crucified Man that held you. Despite your faith, the Elders have long wondered when you would break – and we knew when it came you would fight among yourselves.
    “Señora d’Aragon, your son has done a necessary thing. Many of your people are not fit for the Way of Peace, but it would not be peaceful to demand they depart. Guillermo has done a man’s work – not shattering the People, but making us whole again.”
    He raised his voice. “Peace must come from your hearts, friends d’Aragon! It cannot be pounded in with a hammer, or lashed in with a whip, or even ground in by a fierce will. Those who have peace in your hearts – stay! Those who have adventure, and fierceness – you may go! Send to the other towns–“ Caval and his group of friends burst into laughter. Stankyus blinked, then nodded. “So that’s what all the ‘visiting friends’ was about”, he concluded. “So you have contacted . . . eight towns?” He looked around. “Thus also are explained all the friends come to ‘visit’ here. Well enough – leave the rest, for a time.” He smiled with amusement. “But first, you ought inquire of Don de la Vega how many he is willing to take with him.”

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  49. #1499
    HUGS! ;-)
    Kyanimal's Avatar
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Awesome chapter, Kuli!

    I'm not too thrilled with the mention of Urien "at large". However, if there is a chance to catch Him, ALL efforts, whatever it takes, should be expended ...

    And, is it actually "Steel" that Devon is returning with? Or, is it something not 'seen' before?

    I'm also not sure what the successful return of the Sword of d'Aragon portends, nor if Guillermo is the Right recipient, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding out!

    I can't quite put into adequate words how excited I am to see Your story adventure into realms that I can barely imagine! You continue to Enthrall, and Amaze me!

    Keep smilin'!!
    Chaz
    Last edited by Kyanimal; November 9th, 2012 at 07:39 PM.
    WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me

  50. #1500
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    Re: Fit for Life

    Kuli,
    It's been a long time, but it's a great chapter.

    The d'Aragon finally have their destiny, and the Roman elder knows of it and their need.

    Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for the unveiling of the sword and its taking up by the rightful heir!


    And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .

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