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Chapter 16: Blood and Fire
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 1:38 pm    Post subject: Chapter 16: Blood and Fire  

The story so far: You are Lodevar, the leader of a rebellion of sheephead slaves against their masters, the Bullroar minotaurs. The Bullroars are invading your island – six warships have landed on the beach and a hundred more are on the sea nearby. Your people are defending the island from the cliff-tops and behind barricades; you and your advisor Nelectitus are separated from them, on a sea-chariot among the merfolk. The merfolk have pretended to be your allies but are now letting the Bullroars sail through.

At the end of the last chapter, you decided to try to take over one of the docked Bullroar warships.

The six red ships sit in the harbor like empty shells, their sails furled and their anchors cast. The soldiers that rode them in are now attacking the barricades – only a few Bullroar sailors remain on board. Maybe you could take control of one, you think, or destroy them and block up the beach. It’s your best chance.

You order the driver to keep the chariot low, almost underwater, and bring you up to the docked ships. He drives close, and soon the sailfish are squirming in the shallow water, and you know you’ve gone as far as you can. You give a quick kiss to Lalomea. There’s nothing she can do here. "Stay safe," you say. She holds you a moment, then goes with the chariot to deeper waters. You and Nelectitus swim up to the Bullroar ships, bobbing and turning in the surf.

There are ladders still in place on the closest ship. You see the hulking figures of Bullroars on deck, but they’re looking to the island, not to the water – it’s too shallow for merfolk here, so the Bullroars count themselves safe from the sea.

Hand over hand, you pull yourself up the ladder, as the ship tosses and knocks your hands sharply against the hull. Finally, you reach the top and clamber on board, Nelectitus behind you. You’re in the stern of the boat, and across from you, facing the island with his back to you, is an armored Bullroar. His helmet is cradled in his arms, leaving his great bull’s head bare; his axe is resting by his side. He looks to be enjoying a well-earned soldier’s rest.

Your sword comes out of its sheath as you close the distance and lunge at the base of his neck. Your sword breaks his spinal cord and drives into the soft tissue of his brain. Blood spurts out, covering your sword, your arms and body.

But as he dies he gives a great roar of pain, the bellow of a dying animal, that cuts through the surf and wind and sounds of distant battle. The soldiers on the beach turn to look. Two Bullroars at the front of your ship rush down the deck.

You jerk your sword free and turn to face them. They’re both shieldless, and dressed in lighter armor made of leather instead of mail. One holds his axe awkwardly, the other has only a small knife. Sailors, probably, expert at running the ship but unused to fighting.

You take advantage of their inexperience, charging them full-speed with your sword aimed at the eyes of the axe-wielder. When he raises his arms and axe in fear, you drop your sword and run it through his belly.

Knife-man stabs at your head, but you duck and ram him with your shoulder, knocking him over and sending his knife skittering along the deck. You pull your sword out of the axe wielder, lying bleeding on the deck, and stand over knife-man. He shields his face with his arms, so you slash his arms. Moaning in pain, he tries to scramble away on hands and knees, but you drive your sword into his back. He gurgles and collapses, blood running out of his mouth.

War cries sound as the Bullroars on the beach turn back to the ship. You unhook the ladders and throw them into the sea, but you know that will only slow them.

You look around. There must be something here you can use – some weapon, something. Where’s Nelectitus? You haven’t seen him since you came on board. There’s rigging, the masts and sails, a low building that smells like meat, and a door leading below deck. Does that lead to the anchor room? Maybe you can raise anchor and sail away.

You fling open the door and run down the stairs. In a moment your eyes adjust to the dim light, and you see a large room with a half-dozen Bullroars lying wounded. Two others are standing over them; they turn to you in fear. They must be using this ship as a hospital.

Too many – no time to kill them all. You go back on deck, slamming the door behind you. For good measure you wedge it shut with a battle-axe. What now? Where’s Nelectitus?

Armor and ladders clatter on the side. Dozens of Bullroars have waded into the surf and placed ladders against the ship. They’re climbing now, horns forward and shields up, eyes dark with vengeance. These aren’t sailors or doctors, but veteran Bullroar soldiers, among the best troops in the Wheel.

You push off the ladders, and the Bullroars fall back. But they quickly struggle up and come back with more, now on both sides of the ship. The door to below deck rattles as the wounded Bullroars try to break out. Where’s Nelectitus, damn him!

You struggle to push off the first ladder again, as the Bullroars below hold it tight. By the time you get it off, three more ladders are on the side and Bullroars are climbing all of them. Then finally you see Nelectitus, running along the deck, holding a large black kettle in one hand and a lantern in the other. He pours liquid from the kettle onto the Bullroars and the ladders and the side of the ship, and then he hands you the lantern. He gives you a black smile, and his eye burns half-crazy. "Do the honor, Your Majesty?" he giggles.

Then you understand. You smash the lantern on the rail and ignite the cooking oil. Fire, beautiful fire, leaps up from the rail, the ladders, the Bullroars themselves, and they scream in pain. One, only one, is brave enough to keep climbing, but the fire has blinded him, and as he reaches the deck you stab him under the armpit, in the joint of his armor, and twist and push until you reach his heart. With a moan and a rush of blood, he collapses.

Nelectitus is already setting fire to the other side to keep the Bullroars there away. Now there’s loud banging on the door. You don’t know how much longer that axe will stay wedged in. You throw a big coil of rope against the door, and climb up into the rigging.

The fire must be visible from the barricades and the cliff-tops. Your people are jumping and pointing, and an entire company of Bullroars – hundreds of foot soldiers and crossbowmen – has detached itself from storming the barricades and is marching down the beach toward your ship. The fire has caught both sides now, but the ladders still come – on the sides, the front, the back, everywhere Bullroar soldiers are climbing up to kill you.

Suddenly you hear the cackle of laughter, and Nelectitus swings out of the rigging as red cloth fills your view. He’s unfurled the sails! The ship is still anchored, but the sudden pull of the sails tosses it wildly. You’re thrown out of the rigging and hit the deck hard. The ladders and the Bullroars are tossed back into the sea again. The coil of rope slides away and the door to below-deck swings open, but the wounded Bullroars have fallen down the stairs – no one comes out.

You try to stand, but the ship is pitching and the deck is slippery with blood. Finally you pull yourself up on the rail and look out to the beach again, and what you see amazes you. Your people have left the barricades! They’re charging forward, breaking the Bullroar formations and driving them back. Your heart is torn. It’s a dangerous move, but oh, how wonderful to see them fight!

You look up at your ship. It’s still being tossed wildly, and the sails have caught fire now. You’ve lost sight of Nelectitus.

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: Poll's up! Scroll down to vote.
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DukeReg



Joined: 12 Oct 2005
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Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 6:18 pm    Post subject:  

hmmm... he's on a slippery, burning ship which is about to break its anchor if it hasn't already.

Well my first impulse would be to get off the ship, but that would be certain death with the bullroars right next to the ship.

Did he ask the chariot driver to stick around? Perhaps he should make sure the anchor is gone, get the ship to sail away a bit. He should have a few minutes to find Nelectitus, then dive into the water.
Then when the chariot (hopefully) picks him up, he can go ashore somewhere else to help the sheepheads, or he can cause havok with another ship.

What does everyone think?
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D-Lotus



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Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:06 pm    Post subject:  

We got the ship! :D But it's on fire! :( Then only one thing is left to do: Sail it right into the other oncoming ships and smash them to bits. Maybe the fire will even propagate, like what happened to the unfortunate Spanish Armada (If a little help is needed to prompt the fire, then grant it). Then in the last minute jump off, swim back to shore, or whatever.
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DeSuFnOc
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Posted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:58 pm    Post subject:  

No need to stick around for the collision, just get it sailing in the right direction and then attempt to reach the next docked ship and repeat the process. the Sheep heads are so pumped they're kickin some bullroar @$$ but they're still terribly outnumbered.

there has to be somthing more we can do we can't stop all the ships, we need llewelyn :shock:
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 8:16 pm    Post subject:  

But if we don't stay on deck till they collide, then they'll just outmaneuver us. We have to stay there so that when they turn aside to evade us, we turn aside as well and crash. Besides, possibly, if we hit them from the flank, their ship could collapse but ours wouldn't. We would sail through them and continue to prey on the next boat coming our way. (If I remember right, the hulls are armored, which helps our cause.)
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ethereal_fauna
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Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:19 am    Post subject:  

You're not going anywhere while still anchored. Get the anchor up, and then I rather like D-Lotus' idea of ramming the nearest ship. Try to burn 'em all.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:11 pm    Post subject:  

Hmm, a very good chapter here, Key. I do like D's idea of ramming into another ship. Do we know if Lalomea is nearby with the chariot? Jumping off seems a bit difficult because the only two points that seem safe enough is either the bow or the stern. And getting to them seems to be further hindered by the rocking ship and the slippery deck. I would say ram the ship into another or look for Lalomea.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:15 pm    Post subject:  

I assumed that getting the anchor up (or easier, just cutting the anchor rope, unless it's a chained anchor) would be included in ramming the ship. I think that jumping off the boat in the last minute would be easy, the problem would be if he can swim all the way back. Let's call for our transportation just in case.
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The Powers That Be
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Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:29 pm    Post subject:  

I'm in agreement. If possible, steer the ship toward the others and attempt to set as many of them on fire as possible. Also, if there's any way to make my men see that it's me, so much the better.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:36 pm    Post subject:  

Perhaps by raising a flag of some sort as a message.
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Mother Goose
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject:  

Do Lodevar and Nelectitus have the skill and manpower by themselves to steer the ship at all? I doubt it. It would be great, but manouvering a ship to crash into one after another seems beyond their powers, especially with bullroars on it too. By all means get the ship free from its anchor, but then get off as quickly as possible, leaving the burning, drifting boat to the bullroars.

If they can get to the beach again, maybe they could do the same to another of the ships while everybody is concentrated on the first one. Or maybe Lalomea will find them, with the chariot. Meanwhile the sheepheads may reach the water and they can join them.
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Suneila
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:46 am    Post subject:  

Mother Goose is right. It's a great idea, but probably impossible. If it takes a bunch of trained bullroar sailors to pilot the ship normally, Lodevar and Nelectitus aren't going to be able to do it on their own. I guess we didn't think of that when we decided to board one of the ships. Also, if the sails are on fire, the ship isn't going to be moving anywhere anyway. It can't sail without sails to catch the wind.

We need to think of something with more probability of success.

~sunny
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:33 pm    Post subject:  

Well, two strong guys COULD steer it, it's possible. However, the burning sail just beats me. What about jumping off and using the confusion in your favor, rip through the bullroar crowd shouting, LEVIATHAN IS COMING! :shock: :D ;)
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DukeReg
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 1:57 am    Post subject:  

Good thinking, but would Bullroar grunt's even know about leviathan? Isnt it a merman kind of thing to know about? It wouldn't be an instantly fear inspiring word, surely.

If I'm wrong, would experienced soldiers fall for that anyway? If I was one of them and I saw a yelling non-bullroar who I may or may not know is the enemy king, I'd probably kill first and ask questions later.


As to the idea of sailing the ship away, I forgot about the fire getting into the sails, and that it would be hard/impossible to steer. Is the wind blowing towards or away from land, Key?
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Key
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 10:05 am    Post subject:  

DukeReg wrote: Is the wind blowing towards or away from land, Key?

Hard to say. The wind is always shifting. ;)
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Smee
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 10:41 am    Post subject:  

Hey Key,

Great chapter as always, we got the ship, but not quite how we wanted it.

One thing I noticed whilst reading:

Quote: it’s too shallow for merfolk here, so the Bullroars count themselves safe from the sea.

I don't see how it can be too shallow for merfolk, who can pretty much swim to the shore, but deep enough for a ship to be docked without being beached. :?

Fauna's right, we're going nowhere without the anchor being raised, but there's no chance of winding it up in time. Cut the anchor rope instead, and sail into another ship. Spread the flames. :)

Happy Writing. :)
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Key
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 11:06 am    Post subject:  

Smee wrote: I don't see how it can be too shallow for merfolk, who can pretty much swim to the shore, but deep enough for a ship to be docked without being beached. :?

Yes, I should have worded that differently. The point I was trying to make was that merfolk don't like to be close to the shore, even though they are physically are able to. The ships were presumably harried by merfolk when they were in deeper water, but once they sailed into the harbor the merfolk left them alone.
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Mother Goose
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 6:37 pm    Post subject:  

Sunny, boarding the ship wasn't a bad idea; it created a diversion and encouraged the sheepheads. Only now it's not something to hang onto. Cut it loose, abandon it and try for another ship. Or anything to keep the fight going until Llewelyn gets back.
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Hyperion
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:58 pm    Post subject:  

Lodevar may be a strong swimmer, in which case they could ram a ship then dive into the sea. Land is nearby and the ship that they rammed would be far too damaged to get back in time... if there is a ship anchored nearby, they could even climb up the ladders, ambush the people there and take control of another ship...
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:01 pm    Post subject:  

Ok, lets evacuate or stay on. Create as much damage as we can while were on it, anyway.
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Guest
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Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:15 am    Post subject:  

I think the ship is useless without a sail.
We need to somehow help the sheep heads on the beach.
We're going to have to trust Lodevar, and pray he stops Leviathan and gets the support of Petrosian. Then they will take care of the ships.
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DeSuFnOc
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Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:17 am    Post subject:  

Anonymous wrote: I think the ship is useless without a sail.
We need to somehow help the sheep heads on the beach.
We're going to have to trust Lodevar, and pray he stops Leviathan and gets the support of Petrosian. Then they will take care of the ships.

:cool: ^ME^ :cool:
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:37 pm    Post subject:  

1. Abandon ship
2. Stay on ship



Why does it even matter which one we do?
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Key
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Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:03 pm    Post subject:  

OK, poll's up! Happy voting.

:-)
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ethereal_fauna
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 2:49 am    Post subject:  

Stay with the ship for as long as you can. You fought to gain it, so now use it to your advantage as much as possible.
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Shady Stoat
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 4:17 am    Post subject:  

I voted for staying with the ship too. It may not work, but if we abandon ship, we're forced onto the defensive again.
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Smee
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 4:19 am    Post subject:  

I voted to cut the anchor, and ram another ship. As both Fauna and Stoat argue, we went to the effort of getting the ship, now we need to use it as much as possible.

Happy Writing. :)
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Mother Goose
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:18 am    Post subject:  

Several rudderless, burning ships floating around the harbor might be more of a threat to the fleet than just one - why not get off this one as soon as possible and try for more?
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Smee
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:31 am    Post subject:  

With the land based Bullroars charging to the ship, I don't think we stand much of a chance surprising another one like we did with this one.

All the more reason to do everything possible with this one. Give our own armies chance to reclaim the beach and maybe for leviathan to be beaten before more ships make it to land.
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The Powers That Be
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:38 am    Post subject:  

If it doesn't work, then we abandon ship anyway. Might as well give it a try first.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:03 am    Post subject:  

I am going for the idea of cutting off the anchor. If the Bullroars see a ship sort of floating away from the fleet, they could assume that a group of sheepheads could be running away. This distraction could give Lodevar time to get to his people hopefully.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 6:16 pm    Post subject:  

Let's crash some ships then!
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 5:02 am    Post subject:  

Since the ship seems to be afloat, moving a several meters toward the rest of the fleet seems the best idea in the circumstance.
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Suneila
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Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:49 am    Post subject:  

I voted for the third option because it said "try" to sail into the other ships. I don't think we can do it, but I think we should try.

~sunny
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:12 pm    Post subject:  

90 percent+9 percent= 99 percent.

What happened to the other 1 percent?
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Smee
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Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 12:22 am    Post subject:  

You try dividing 100 by 11 without any decimal places :D
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:44 am    Post subject:  

Yeah, lol. :D
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Reiso
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Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:46 am    Post subject:  

Just posting to remind the whippersnappers they aren't completely rid of me yet - great chapter Key, you continue to pile monumental suspense and satisfying action in small chapters with a skill I can only sit back and admire. Despite all appearances, I remain an avid fan of both sides of this story. I chose the third option; it seems suicidal enough to match the tone our mad prophet has set for this course of events.
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Smee
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Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:41 am    Post subject:  

Great to see you still around in some fashion. :D
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 7:43 pm    Post subject:  

Wow, Reiso, you seem to have turned the tide in the vote! :lol:
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