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Chapter 14: The King's Rule
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Key



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Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2005 8:47 pm    Post subject: Chapter 14: The King's Rule  

The story so far: You are Lodevar, the leader of a rebellion of sheephead slaves against their masters, the Bullroar minotaurs. You formed an alliance with the merfolk against the Bullroars, but discovered that the merfolk King planned to betray you and allow the Bullroar fleet to pass through safely to your island base and slaughter your people. You, the mermaid Lalomea, and your advisor Nelectitus, found the island where the merking was hiding his secret son, Lewellyn, who has the same unique form as you. Now the Merking returns and offers to protect your people if you allow Lewellyn to leave.

Last Decision: Ask that Lewellyn go to Freehome, but accept the original offer if the merking doesn't allow Lewellyn to go.

“Let Lewellyn come to Freehome,” you say to the Merking. “He’ll be protected by two armies there, yours and mine. And he can learn about the real world.” And his presence will be a better guarantee of your behavior than any oath, you think.

The Merking shakes his head in disbelief. “Send Lewellyn to a war zone? Are you mad?”

Pretty much the reaction you expected. But it’s worth a try. “Together we can keep him safe,” you argue.

“Out of the question!” bellows the Merking. “Now I have made you a generous offer – the protection of Freehome in exchange for the safety of my son. Accept or not, but know that if you refuse your people’s lives are forfeit.”

If Lewellyn leaves, you have no guarantee that the Merking will keep his word. But what choice do you have? The Bullroars will attack any time now; you can’t sit here for days arguing.

“All right,” you say. “I accept.”

Just then you hear a rustling in the bushes near the beach. You turn to see Lewellyn walking out onto the sand, a bit unsteady, blinking in the sunlight. Annoyed, you look around for Nelectitus. Lewellyn had been just where you’d told Nelectitus to look.

“Of course, my son, hiding in the bushes,” says the Merking with a sigh. “There’s nothing to be afraid of now, Lewellyn. We’ve worked out a deal.”

“No, Father,” Lewellyn answers, “I don’t want to go to another island. I want to go to Freehome.” You raise your eyebrows. The Fish Prince is showing some backbone.

The Merking scowls. “You don’t know what you’re saying. It’s too dangerous.”

“I’m ready for the danger,” Lewellyn replies. “I want to see the world.”

“Absolutely not! Now do not argue! Come into the sea now.”

“No, Father,” he says. “I’m not going.”

The Merking stares at his son as though he can’t believe his ears. Lewellyn’s stubbornness complicates your deal, but you can’t help but admire his desire for freedom. The Merking reminds you of the Bullroar slave-owners who just couldn’t believe that their Sheephead slaves weren’t happy and content.

You laugh. “Well, Your Majesty, maybe you should reconsider my offer. Your son has a mind of his own.”

The Merking glares at you. “You agreed to let Lewellyn go.”

“I am letting him go. But he’s not going.”

“All right, then,” he says. “Just don’t interfere.”

Then the Merking turns back to Lewellyn. “Do you think you are King? That you rule the sea?”

Lewellyn says nothing.

“No,” says the Merking. “I am King. I rule the sea. And the sea rules you.” And he raises his scepter high, and strikes the water by the side of his sea-chariot.

Waves spread out from the point of impact. He strikes the water again, and again, in the same place. More and more waves spread out toward the shore. As they come in, they start to grow.

The hair rises on the back of your neck. The waves must be growing by magic. They’re not large enough to reach Lewellyn, who’s standing near the back of the beach. But Lewellyn is staring at them, as though he can’t pull his eyes away.

The first waves break upon the shore. Lewellyn takes a step back, but he moves slowly, as though he’s pulling against something.

The Merking keeps striking the water, and more waves roll in. Lewellyn stops, paralyzed, and turns his head to you. “Help!” he calls.

Agreement or not, you can’t let the Merking bewitch his own son. You jump down from the rocks. But the waves from the Merking’s scepter surge around you and you slip and fall. Tossed by the water, you clamber back onto the shore, and stand up just in time to see Lewellyn hurtling forward into the sea, as though dragged by an invisible string. Then Lewellyn, the Merking, and all his soldiers disappear beneath the surface.

The water becomes clear and smooth. You wade out to Lalomea. She’s looking nervously out to sea. “Do you think they’ve left us here?” you ask. She shakes her head and says nothing.

You wait for a long time, wondering if the Merking has gone, then suddenly the sea erupts again with the splashing of a hundred merfolk soldiers, the Merking’s great sea-chariot in the midst. There is no sign of Lewellyn.

As the waves of their arrival die down, the Merking sighs. “I have over a hundred thousand children,” he says. “You’d think that the one I choose out of all of them to inherit my kingdom would be just the least bit grateful.”

“Where is he?” you ask.

“He’s safe. And I will keep our agreement: because you let him go, I’ll take you to Freehome and command its defense.” The Merking moves to the side of his chariot, leaving a space to his right. “Climb aboard.”

You think even less of the Merking now than before his magic trick with Lewellyn, and it irks you to have to trust him, but you don’t see much choice. Gritting your teeth, you wade into deeper water, away from the safety of the rocks and beach. Lalomea swims by your side.

When the water is waist-high, you stop. What about Nelectitus? You sent him onto the island to find Lewellyn.

“Wait,” you say. “I have to find my advisor.”

The Merking looks impatient. “My people can bring him later.”

“Well, I should at least tell him where we went.”

The Merking shakes his head. “We don’t have the time. Freehome is about to be attacked.”

You hesitate. Since when are you so concerned about that? you think.

Suddenly a call sounds from the beach: the voice of Nelectitus, louder than you’ve ever heard him. “RUN!” he yells. “IT’S A TRAP!”

Fury crosses the Merking’s face. He calls out commands, and his soldiers surge forward. You turn and run back toward shore, but you move slowly through the water. Lalomea darts ahead, and the fish-like merfolk splash behind you.

You’re knee-deep in water when you feel cold hands grasp your ankles, and your feet come out from under you. Spinning, you draw your knife and slash at the hands pulling you back. Blood spurts and a few release, but others take their place – dozens of merfolk soldiers are packed into the two-foot-high water, lying on top of each other, swimming forward with cold eyes under the waves.

You slash again and again, but then a heavy hand grabs yours and a large merman pulls himself up to you. His burly hands hold your knife-wrist, and his fish-tail swings across your body. You fall back underwater, pinned, as a wave rolls over you. You can’t breathe.

You struggle in vain to push him off, but suddenly there’s blood in the water, and the merman releases your hand. You stab forward, blinded by the sea, and feel your knife enter his gut. The warm blood washes over your knife-hand, as you gasp for breath just as another wave rolls in. You push off the dead merman and see Nelectitus is standing next to you. He holds a sharpened stick dripping mer-blood, and he smiles a toothless smile.

The other merfolk are still holding your legs. You reach back for something to grab, and find Lalomea’s tail. She pulls you toward shore, and you’re caught in a tug-of-war. You crane your neck looking for Nelectitus’s help. He’s dragging the dead merman toward the beach.

Another waves rolls over you and you cough out water. “What are you doing?” you yell. “Help me!” But he keeps going until the merman is resting on the dry sand thirty feet from you. Then he calls out something in the merfolk language.

And then, one by one, the hands release you, as the merfolk shudder and sink back into the sea. Nelectitus gives you a nod, and you understand. They’re not afraid of dying. But they’re afraid of dying on land. Nelectitus showed them their worst nightmare.

You and Lalomea move back to the rocks. You know that you’re still not safe. You glance at the Merking to see if he’s about to order another assault.

But the Merking laughs. And he laughs again and again, as you and Lalomea and Nelectitus and even his own soldiers stare at him. Finally, he stops laughing and says with a broad smile, “Of course. You fight to the end.”

“You are a worthy opponent, Lodevar,” he continues. “I wish you had been my son instead of Lewellyn, who, though necessary to continue my line, has frankly always been a disappointment to me. Too weak, too much of a dreamer. He doesn’t have the instinct to fight, or to rule.

“But you’re a natural fighter, and you’ve played your cards well. Hijacking your chariot on the way to Freehome, finding my daughter and turning her against me, sneaking past the guards and getting to my son – very impressive. You even convinced Lewellyn to obey you instead of his own father! You’ve got a silver tongue and iron teeth – just the combination a king needs.

“But you made one mistake: you waited here and tried to persuade me to help you. You could have taken Lewellyn back to Freehome by force; then I would have had no choice but to defend it. That’s what it would have taken to win. That’s what I would have done!

“Tell me, why didn’t you? Don’t tell me it didn’t cross your mind.”

It had crossed your mind. But it didn’t seem right then, and it doesn’t now. “That’s what you would have done because all you care about is power,” you say to the Merking. “But I believe in the Makers. I believe in treating people with dignity.”

The Merking nods. “Yes, I thought so. Well, that’s why my line will continue into the next Age, while you’ll soon be dead. So there’s a lesson for you about power. You’re still young, and if the lesson had been less fatal and you’d taken it to heart, you might have made a great king.

“But it was not to be. By the decree of the Makers, I suppose, if you believe that sort of thing. Your little last stand here makes things more difficult, but it doesn’t really change anything. Believe me, I can do things the hard way.”

The Merking stretches his arms wide. “In twenty-four hours this island will be covered with water. You will drown, and we’ll take your body to Freehome, which the Bullroars will overrun. And when they find you dead, the Emperor will be satisfied, and look no more for Lewellyn.

“Eventually we’ll re-open trade with the Bullroars, after a suitable grieving period and compensation for the death of my son, of course.” The Merking gives you a wink. “Meanwhile, Lewellyn will live and learn to be strong. And when the time comes, he’ll carry my line into the new Age.”

And the Merking looks up at the sky and intones in a loud voice: “SO…BE…IT!” And he and his whale-driven chariot and all his merfolk soldiers vanish under the sea.

You look at Lalomea. She meets your gaze, misery in her eyes. The wind picks up and the waves begin to grow. You look on the horizon and see dark clouds.

In twenty-four hours this island will be covered with water.

What do you do?

Read the posts below, and click "Reply" to post a suggestion for the Lodevar’s next action. Anyone is welcome to post. You can suggest what he would do based on his personality, what you think he should do based on what would be best, or just in general what seems like a good idea to you. Feel free to comment on other’s suggestions, but please be courteous.

You're also welcome to ask questions about Lodevar's background or about the world of the Wheel.

Update:Voting has begun! Scroll down to vote.
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
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Posted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:20 pm    Post subject:  

Lewellyn is gone, and the Merking has doomed you and your people. No more trust for the wicked Merking, but first a way from this island and certain death. Send Lalomea to find Horchow, he still might be trusted, but you can't depend on others. You must think quickly to save yourself, your adviser, and your people.

However risky it may be, many have managed the savage seas on makeshift rafts. A small chance is preferred to certain death. Seek advice from Nelectitus, for whatever it's worth, and quickly set about finding buoyant materials.
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Random
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Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:01 am    Post subject:  

I would have to agree with finding Horchow. At least to warn him of what is about to happen. For while the Merking may be have played his final card with us, I think Lodevar has enough experience as a leader to realize that the Merking isn't everyone.

If anyone can help you I would believe it is Horchow. Lalomea should know the waters well enough to guide you back to Freehome.
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Muaddib
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Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:41 am    Post subject:  

Ugh! The Merking is so treacherous. I think that Lodevar should try and sneak into the Merking's palace and try and capture the King and then get the desired help. (A bit daft isnt it)
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Araex
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Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 12:51 pm    Post subject:  

The merkings a real git!

I am guessing that swimming away or building a raft is no way out, as the island will be surrounded.

I suggest we persuade Horchow to let us ride on his back, and take us to Freehome.

The merking has probably already withdrawn his troops, and so we should get there asap to counteract the Bullroars.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:56 pm    Post subject:  

God that man is evil! So not trustworthy.

Well this curse or decree certainly dampers movement a bit. Lodevar should find Horchow. I think within 24 hours, a raft, dingy it maybe, could be crafted.

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Reiso
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Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 11:20 pm    Post subject:  

Time is definitely not on their side, so a raft does seem wise if it can be accomplished in 24 hours. Also to consider, if the raft is incomplete or fails at any time, Lalomea may be able to keep Lodevar afloat for as long as she could hold out. As for Nelectitus... somehow, worrying about him seems pointless. His sort of mad, oracular type often manage to beat the odds and survive by some wild stretch of circumstance and imagination...

A word on style; The Merking revealed his great plan, which is usually tiresome and clichéd, but you pulled it off very well. It did not seem contrived, forced or otherwise extraneous. In fact, I came away with the strong impression that the Merking has a deep hatred for Lodevar (despite grudging respect), and that he told him the full breadth of his treachery as a way to hurt him spitefully before he died. Very believable - well done.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 5:56 am    Post subject:  

ummm...oh, good chapter...uh, what about building big barriers around the top of the island so that the water can´t cover them?
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matt59312588
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Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 6:35 am    Post subject:  

Building a raft is a dumb idea. Allow me to explain why: let's suppose, by sheer mercy and stupidity, that the king DOESN'T leave guards around the island to prevent anything from escaping. The raft is built in time, and we get off. Unfortunately, we cannot move at a high speed. Unless the nearest island is only a few hours' distance away, the Merking will return to the island, find us absent, search for us in his much faster chariots, and we will not be far. The raft will lead to certain doom.

With that said, we are back to measures as drastic as in the initial Freedom Campaign. I believe Lalomea should be sent to find any guards that may have been left behind. If they are there, she should use WHATEVER means in her power to convince them of the evil and dishonest behaviors of the Merking. We would need to procure at least two of the pearl necklaces, and if possible, a sea-chariot. If guards are not present, we should find anybody that may help, possibly even the teacher-turtle. Lalomea's primary objective must be to obtain the necklaces, and the chariot, if possible.

I believe that if we have a psychic, we should use him. Heed fully any advice that he may give.

In the meanwhle, Necliticus and Lodevar should search the island for any means of escape (possibly even flight? Mr. Key, how advanced are the Rams technologically?). If no means become apparent, then a great fire should be created, and the two should release apparent stress signals.
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ethereal_fauna
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Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 7:19 am    Post subject:  

We do not have time to construct a sturdy raft, but I'd prefer to not sink like a brick when the water covers this island. I can't stand around and hope that the outcast daughter Lalomea can convince any of the Merking's guards to take pity on us either, or even that she'll locate Horchow, who might or might not be friendly.

Keeping our heads above water seems top priority. If the Merking left guards behind to make sure we die, then I'll have to deal with that as well. I must find a way to stay afloat, and arm myself. This will not be easy.

Signalling Freehome will alert the Merking as well, and accomplish nothing except to further anger him. Now if I could somehow take flight, slip the bonds of the soil and lift into the air, I might be able to avoid both the waters and the guards. How could I make this work for both Nelectitus and me? Would we only present as easier targets hovering in the air?
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The Powers That Be
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Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 5:52 pm    Post subject:  

I don't see any way out of this that doesn't involve (a) underwater breathing apparatus and (b) high-speed transport. To get those, we need allies.

There are two bargaining chips that can be used against the merking. I'm one - without my body, he can't complete his deception of the emperor. In fact, without my body, he almost has to protect Freehome in order to keep up the illusion that his son is there.

Lewellyn's the other chip, as the merking himself pointed out. But who's in position to use these chips?

The merking has 100,000 children. Surely one of them has designs on the throne - they can't be happy with the choice of Lewellyn. Lalomea must know who would see this as an opportunity. I'm not sure exactly what we have to offer, though, except my life. Maybe someone else has an idea on that.

Anyway, here's the proposal. Lalomea goes to find an ally among the merfolk and to bring back necklaces, transport and muscle. I ask Nelictitus for advice and act on it if he says anything I can figure out. He did say this was the way out, after all. N. and I go look for Horchow - I'm betting he's nearby and saw the whole thing with the merking and would be inclined to help us (possibly in return for rescuing Lewellyn). And if there's any time left, go ahead and build a crappy raft - hopefully for use only as a decoy.
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Guest
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Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 6:32 pm    Post subject:  

Decoy raft...that's a nice touch and a good idea.
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Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:11 am    Post subject:  

Since the idea of a raft seems to be a pretty daft idea to most. May I suggest just catching hold of a floating tree and hold on for dear life? 8)
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:13 am    Post subject:  

Forgot to log in. Then again most of you would have probably figured out that was me. 8)
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Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:48 pm    Post subject:  

The point is that just waiting on some floating object will not help us to escape the certain search party that will look for our bodies.
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matt59312588
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Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:49 pm    Post subject:  

Sorry, that was me.
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Muaddib
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Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 4:40 am    Post subject:  

matt, do you actually remember your username. If the site loses your username and you have to type it in, will you remember it? Just curious
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Guest
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Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:36 am    Post subject:  

What if we use the decoy boat to distract them while we call on the animal kingdom with Horchows help? If Horchow believes and helps us, then he might convince some whales to transport us?


- D-Lotus
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The Powers That Be
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Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 8:34 am    Post subject:  

Ooh, whales, I like it. So what power does Lalomea (and perhaps Horchow) have to manipulate/communicate with the sea and its creatures?
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Key
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Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject:  

The Powers That Be wrote: So what power does Lalomea (and perhaps Horchow) have to manipulate/communicate with the sea and its creatures?

Both times when you went under the sea to Ulderea, you saw the merfolk interacting with sea creatures such as whales, octopi, and fish, much as your people would interact with domesticated animals. They didn't converse with the sea creatures, but they did seem to have them trained to respond to simple physical (or sometimes spoken) commands. So you assume that Lalomea would be able to do something similar.

You've never met Horchow and you don't know what he's capable of. All you know about him is that he is a giant sea turtle and, unlike the sea creatures you saw in Ulderea, apparently he can talk.
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Guest
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Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:35 pm    Post subject:  

Muaddib wrote: matt, do you actually remember your username. If the site loses your username and you have to type it in, will you remember it? Just curious

Indeed...
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matt59312588
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Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2005 6:06 am    Post subject:  

:wink:
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Reiso
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Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2005 10:52 pm    Post subject:  

Well, it could be possible then that Lalomea could find some nearby sealife capable of carrying them. I don't know what to do as far as guards go. At this point, we don't even know if guards have been left or not - it wasn't specified, and without their charge of Lewellyn, the ones that had been here may have just gone with the rest, or assisted in his detainment from the latest chapter of The Fish that walked. The Merking could literally just be counting on the sea to do all the work for him within 24 hours, and it is a classic villian mistake to underestimate or disregard such simple and mundane things. Or their dissapointing daughters (from his view anyway.)

I mean, is it me or did it not even seem to register with the Him that Lalomea was there? Not that he is dumb and wouldn't have recognized her, but that she would be so beneath his concern that he would completely discount any aid she could provide.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2005 5:50 am    Post subject:  

Well, if there´s guards, as I said, discard them with the decoy boat....
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Key
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Posted: Sat Jul 09, 2005 4:58 pm    Post subject:  

OK, thanks for the suggestions. Voting is up!

More than one of the choices below could be done in combination, but rather than including possible permutations in the poll, I decided to make the vote on which one is top priority. In the next chapter, Lodevar might do more than one.
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Key
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Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 11:01 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for the voting. Poll has closed.
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