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Chapter 1: Fish Dreams
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 4:01 am    Post subject: Chapter 1: Fish Dreams  

Up from oysters
and the confused weeds,
out from the tears of God,
the wounding tides,
he came.
He became a hunter of roots
and breathed like a man.
He ruffled through the grasses
and became known to the sky.

from "The Fish That Walked"
by Anne Sexton

You dream that you’re under the sea again. You haven’t been under the sea since you were born, but you dream of it often.

In your dream you’re in Father’s palace. It’s just as you’ve always imagined, just as Horchow described it: a deep canyon of beautiful white stone carved into the sea floor, underneath a city of bright coral, lit by pale blue and green lights swaying in the current. The palace and the city above are filled with fish and merfolk - talking, swimming, enjoying the ocean.

But on the floor of the palace, at the bottom of the bottom of the sea, a strange creature runs. It’s a “sheep” – a land-dweller, an eater of grasses. They don’t live on the island, so you’ve never seen one, but Horchow has told you about them. It’s young and male, with two curved horns and short brown fur that floats around it like a cloud. It’s intent on something. The fish and the merfolk sway back and forth as the current changes, but the ram keeps going straight ahead, running down the halls of Father’s palace, fixed on something only it knows.

Then the dream changes, and you’re on land, fishing off the rocks on Sandy Beach, like you do every day. You get a strong pull on one of your lines; you can tell you’ve caught something big – tuna, maybe, or a tiger shark. But when you take the line, it goes slack, and on the other end, coming up from the water and over the rocks, is the ram.

It stops a moment to shake its fur, and your hook falls away. Then it heads straight toward you, climbing easily up the rocky shore, its hooves splashing water in all directions as the waves come in. You stand there, unable to move, as it gets closer and closer…

You wake then, but the dream is so real that you’re disoriented, trying to understand where the ram is and how you got from Sandy Beach to your shelter under the banana trees. Then, gradually, you’re brought back to reality by looking at the treasures close to your bedside: your collection of seastones on the wall, your carved statue of Oceanus on the altar, your three tortoise-shells, a gift from Horchow, at your feet. These things calm you and remind you of who you are. They bring you back to the sea.

You rise slowly, take a deep breath, and utter a silent prayer to steady your nerves. Prayer is important. Many of the merfolk don’t bother to pray, and you can’t blame them: they spend their whole lives in the sea; they can’t forget where they come from. But it’s different for you, living in this country of dirt. You’ve been on this island all your life, but the only time you feel at home is when you’re in the sea. Or when you dream of it.

The thought of your dream still bothers you, and you decide not to go to Sandy Beach right away as you usually do. Instead, you open the shelter door to a beautiful sunny day, run down to the lagoon, and plunge into the warm water. The lagoon is part of the sea too, connected by a narrow inlet to the wide ocean, but the waves don’t crash as hard here, and nowhere is it deep. It’s a good place to bathe, and to float.

You float on your back for a long time. Even with the sunlight, you can see the Earth this morning, a blue and white disk hanging in the sky. The sea is your birthplace, but the Earth, the home of the Makers, is the mystery of your life. So many imponderables. Today you think of a new one: the Makers are supposed to look like you, with feet instead of fish tails, but you can see that the Earth is mostly water. Why would the Earth have so much water if the Makers are all on land?

That’s a good paradox. You should ask Horchow that one. Not that he would know the answer. The Earth is a mystery that deepens the more you explore. You could spend a lifetime thinking about it and only touch the surface.

A sudden bump on your back interrupts your thoughts. Something is pushing you out of the water! You flail and slide off into the water, then quickly swim and turn to face it. It’s a huge old sea-turtle, ten feet long with a gray-brown shell and gray scales. It surfaces and then plunges back into the water, sending its wake crashing over you.

“Horchow!” you call, spitting out water. “You nearly scared me to death.” You swim to the shallows and Horchow joins you as he always does, resting in the water, his wrinkled head and black eyes poking over the surface.

“Today’s first lesson,” croaks Horchow. “The sea is dangerous. Be wary.”

“I’m safe in the lagoon,” you say. “Father’s guards are all around the island. They wouldn’t have let you through unless they knew you.”

“And will you stay here forever?”

“Well, no…” you say, confused. You don’t like to think too much about the future. You’re going to be Fish King when Father dies. They’ll give you magic that will let you live under the sea in Father’s palace and rule the merfolk and the other sea-creatures. But it’s a long way off. Father’s still young and strong. Very strong.

“I just meant…I mean, why worry about that now?” you finish.

Horchow shakes his scaly head. “Habits form easily, and die hard,” he says. “And actions have consequences beyond what we see.”

You’re not sure what he means by that. Horchow often speaks in riddles. Sometimes you can understand him, but today doesn’t seem to be your day.

“So what were you dreaming about, young prince?”

Dreams again. You don’t want to talk about last night’s dream. “About the Earth,” you say quickly. “Why there’s so much water on it, if the Makers are all like me, stuck on land.”

“And what do you think?”

You relax. Speculation, philosophy – these are games you know. “Well, I suppose most merfolk would say that the Makers can breathe water, or that they can take the form of a water-breathing creature, like a fish or a merman. Maybe they all live underwater, and don’t go on land at all. But if that’s the case, why can’t I breathe water? Why can’t I grow a tail, or turn into a fish? If I’m a Maker, why am I so powerless?” You surprise yourself by saying the last point with a trace of bitterness.

Horchow raises an eyebrow. “Power depends on your point of reference,” he says. “In the ocean, any sea-creatures could out-swim you, even an ancient turtle like me. But on land, you’re the fastest and most powerful.”

You smile, remembering the time you first met Horchow. When you were very young, Father gave you a merman teacher, a severe old graybeard who used to yell at you if you missed your lessons. When you were nine, after a bad scolding, you ran away from him, fleeing inland beyond where the merfolk could follow or even see you. You stayed there for days, afraid to go back, afraid of the sea, until finally Horchow came – dragging his huge shell along inch by inch with his flipper-feet. He looked so silly and out-of-place that you just laughed; you couldn’t be afraid of him. He talked you into coming back to the shore, and he’s been your teacher ever since.

“Well, all right,” you say. “But there are lots of land-dwelling creatures. Is that all I am?”

“Do you want to be something else?”

“Well…I don’t know. I mean, I understand everything. I’m a Maker, the first and only one born on the Wheel for two thousand years. So the Emperor could see me as a threat, so I have to be kept hidden. I’m grateful for everything here – the guards, the mermaids, you – no one could ask for more. And Father - ” Your mind rushes past Father’s annual visits, the memories filled with fear – “I know Father loves me. I just feel stuck here sometimes, like I’m not really doing anything, all I’m doing is-”

You stop, about to say dreaming. Horchow looks at you quizzically. “Yes?”

“No, I – I have to go now.” This is too confusing. The day’s routine was broken this morning, and now everything’s mixed up. You were supposed to be studying languages and mythology today, not talking about who you are and why you’re here.

You climb out of the lagoon, shaking the water off. “I’ve got to check the traps,” you call over your shoulder as you hurry off. Yes, that was it, that was where you went wrong. You went down to the lagoon before you went fishing; you shouldn’t have done that.

You climb the gentle slope inland along the trail to Sandy Beach, and then after a few minutes down again to the shore. The surf is bigger here, the shore unprotected from the wide ocean. A long pile of rocks – a natural pier of sorts – juts out from the shoreline. That’s where you lay your fish traps and cast your lines, the poles stuck between rocks so that you can fish several at a time.

The traps are empty, but the routine of checking them calms you down. You cast four of your lines out to sea past the rocks, and wait. Of course you don’t need to fish to eat; Father’s guards would provide whatever you want. But catching and eating your own dinner makes you feel independent, and at the same time part of the sea. It’s also soothing, to wait for the fish to bite. You can wait well. You like waiting.

But today you’ve hardly cast your lines when you hear a voice softly calling your name. “Lewellyn! Please, come here!” You look down. By the rocks, in shallow water, is a mermaid you know.

“Lalomea!” you cry out happily, climbing down to her. “I haven’t seen you in months!” She’s beautiful, like all the mermaids, and she has one of the loveliest singing voices you’ve ever heard. Today is turning out all right after all. “Call your sisters and sing me a song!”

But Lalomea looks around nervously. “No, Lewellyn, please, I don’t have time for that. I’ve got to talk to you about something important.” She keeps herself underwater and between two rocks. “Please come down here where they can’t see you.”

A brief flicker of fear passes over you, remembering your strange dream. But you’ve never known a serious mermaid; she must be playing some kind of game. You decide to play along. You crouch down in the rocks. “What is it?”

“Lewellyn, I – we – need your help. There are things I have to tell you, things that may be hard to believe. But please listen. Lives are at stake.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Lewellyn, you’re not the only Maker born on the Wheel. There are others – eleven others – one for each of the Twelve Kingdoms.”

“The land-dwelling kingdoms? They have Makers?”

“Yes. And there’s more. There’s a prophecy that you’ll all be great Kings and Queens, if you survive. That’s why the Emperor wants to kill you.”

“Well, sure, I- I’m going to be the Fish King. But that’s a long way away. Father wants me to be safe here…” Your voice trails off. What exactly did she mean, if you survive?

“Yes, yes, Father wants to keep you safe, but he’s sacrificing innocent blood to do it. Father has made the Emperor think that one of the other Makers – the King of the Sheepheads – is really you, the prince of the Sea. The Emperor is going to kill the Ram King and all his people unless we do something.”

You give a shudder at the word “Ram.” “Why are you telling me this?” you ask angrily. “Those are all land-dwellers. What does it have to do with me?”

Lalomea’s eyes narrow. “They are innocent people, Lewellyn. Escaped slaves mostly, women and children among them, about to be slaughtered. You can prevent that.”

“How? What could I do?”

“Call Father. Ask him to help the sheepheads.”

You burst out laughing. Call Father? Father comes once a year for three days. His visit is carefully planned months in advance. Everything from the food served to the arrangement of welcome songs is designed to avoid his anger. Your main role – reciting your lessons on cue – causes you nights of anxious sleep for weeks before he comes. You know that Lalomea has felt the same fear about her singing performances. The idea that the two of you would summon Father like a servant and tell him how to run the kingdom is so absurd that now you’re sure Lalomea is putting you on.

You laugh again. “You had me going there, Lalomea. Other Makers. Escaped slaves. That was a good one.”

But Lalomea isn’t laughing. “I can prove that I’m telling the truth, Lewellyn.”

She makes a motion with her hand. The water parts next to her, and from the sea emerges the head and shoulders of…of what? You think he’s a merman, but he keeps coming, out from the water and up on the rocks, with two arms and two legs: a body like yours. Another Maker.

He’s younger than you, maybe only eighteen or twenty to your thirty-two. Shorter, but thicker and more muscular. His dark skin is marked with old scars, and he has a few fresh wounds on his shoulders. Around his neck is a necklace of pearls. He wears a big knife.

“I’m asking you to help my people,” he says in Middle, the language of the land-dwellers. Horchow has taught you well – you understand him perfectly. He speaks with confidence and a hint of impatience, like someone accustomed to giving orders instead of asking for help. Like a King, you think. Like Father.

Lalomea was telling the truth, at least about the other Makers. But what does that mean? What can you do now? Even if you called Father, why would he listen to you? He’s sure to be angry at being summoned, and you doubt that the presence of this land-dwelling King is going to put him in a better mood. How did this other Maker get past the guards, anyway? You eye his knife uneasily, wondering if he killed anyone.

But what if you refuse? Would they just leave? What if they didn’t? Unlike the terrors of the sea, you can’t escape this Sheephead King by going on land. You’ve got a small knife you use to clean fish, but you’re sure he could beat you in a fight. Maybe you could outrun him – you know the island better, and you’ve got longer legs. But for how long? Long enough to call the guards? Could they get you off the island?

What do you do?

Read the posts below, and click "Post Reply" to post a suggestion for the Lewellyn’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 Lewellyn's background or about the world of the Wheel.
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Hearken
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 7:40 am    Post subject:  

First off, Keavney. This is a great storyline. The idea of using a civilization of both humans and merfolk is unique and interesting. I also like how you used a poem at the beginning to start off. And the pictures too added alot of understanding and helped me visualize what was going on in my head. My favorite thing, though, is how you are using "you" to identify our protagonist. The idea of him wanting to fit in with the other merfolk already identifies with the feeling that everyone feels one time or another, but by addressing the main character as "you", we as readers are able to identify to him even more and connect in a closer way.

Now that I'm done with the praising stuff....Woo Hoo....First post again! Two times in a row!!! Yes!!!

Alright. What should Lewellyn do? Automatically, I didn't like his Father. He gives the impression of a self-possessed dirtbag, which I suppose is what you wanted him to be. But, he is still the most powerful and influential person there and the one that would be most able to save these people. I think Lewellyn should ask him for help, as much as I hate him to do it. This early on in the story, Lewellyn hasn't developed his self-relience yet. Perhaps after his asks his father...then he can figure out a way to save them if he refuses to help, which I think he will do.

Anyway, great story, Keavney. :wink:
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Smee
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:20 am    Post subject:  

Ah, so the Ram goes on hold, whilst we learn abit more about Lewellyn. Nice idea, and a good chapter as always. :D

I'm going to have my fun, because I've never spotted a mistake of yours, but the following sentence caught my eye, and didn't make sense...
Quote: Many of the merfolk don’t bother to pray, and you can’t blame them: they spend your whole lives in the sea; they can’t forget where they come from. Is 'your' supposed to be 'their'?

What to do next?

It sounds like he fears his father more than anyone - and doesn't idly risk his wrath. Yet Lodevar perhaps seems the more obvious threat to him; right in front of him with a knife. Is this fear enough for him to risk him calling his father?

I think he will call his father. Learning of his father callous use of other people just to keep him safe; death of others on his own head - enough to make him listen more, if not agree right away.
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Reiso
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:39 pm    Post subject:  

Well played keavney. While everyone is looking to The Ram for the next chapter, you sneak it in here as a brand-spanking new story. Does this mean that The Ram will be retired, and the mantle of the stories of the wheel gets passed to The Fish That Walked? Or, like Smee says, is it just a brief interlude that will later pass back to The Ram? I haven't been here long enough to know how these transitions usually go concerning stories of The Wheel.

As far as what to do . . . he is so afraid of his father that the overiding goal of three day meetings with him, is not to anger him. I don't see him demanding answers. But I think he is curious enough to try calling him to find out what is going on, maybe even pointing the finger at these strange newcomers. I can see that going either way - he can make Lodevar and Lalomea his scapegoats, or he can find strength in them. It's hard to have all you believe suddenly brought into question, and the rational mind seeks familiar patterns of behavior in those circumstances, so I am inclined to think he would start with the former. It depends on how everyone conducts themselves whether the latter becomes possible or not.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:34 pm    Post subject:  

Wow. So was not expecting to see this. When I first saw the top of this page I had to rub my eyes just to make sure I wasn't crazy and saw a fish with legs. It was a very freaky picture for me. But anyways, as the others are saying, have you gone on a hiatus for the Ram?

I like this story. You connect this story well with your other story and also because it is from a different perspective. Like what the others have said, I would say that Lewellyn is definitely afraid of his father. We don't know exactly why, but it would seem that his father has plans for him. Other than becoming Fish King that is. I feel like all these arranged meetings that take months preparation have a meaning or something.

As to what to do. I think it would be best in Lewellyn's best interest to gain some independence from his father. But due to his nature, I see him not accepting Lalomea's or the Sheephead's request. I would say that it would take a lot of persuasion on Lalomea's and the Sheephead's part to gain Lewellyn's assistance. I guess I am saying this in a very roundabout manner that Lewellyn should talk to his father. I am not saying that he would accept the offer easily nor am I saying he is going to easily persuade his father to not kill someone else in his stead. But I think Lewellyn needs to take a stand against his father. We are beginning to see he is becomin restless living on the island, so this would give him an opportunity to do something at the least.

Great job, Keavney. Your stories always come out well. 8)
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Key
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:59 pm    Post subject:  

Smee wrote: I'm going to have my fun, because I've never spotted a mistake of yours, but the following sentence caught my eye, and didn't make sense...
Quote: Many of the merfolk don’t bother to pray, and you can’t blame them: they spend your whole lives in the sea; they can’t forget where they come from. Is 'your' supposed to be 'their'?

Aak! :shock: There goes my perfect record :(

Thanks for the proofreading. I've fixed it now.

How the story plays out between the Ram and the Fish That Walked remains to be seen. My goal is to have either story readable without reading the other, and to continue to have all important decisions of either character up for suggestions and a vote.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:35 pm    Post subject:  

It seems to be playing out well. It's like the same story is being told from a different perspectives. Don't worry, Keavney. Your error record is better than most of us. And it was bound to happen. 8)
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Mordok
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Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:51 pm    Post subject:  

:D Praise the Makers!

What a rip! I would suggest killing Lodavar to impress father, but that means killing the Ram.

If Lewellyn believes, and wants to help his sister and Lodevar they could pretend that Lodevar will kill Lewellyn if the king doesn't protect Freehome. They could demend a boat and whatever they needed.

Same suggestion, different storygame.
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:59 pm    Post subject:  

Thats not a bad idea. As of now we don't need any deaths yet. Like you explained, what we need to do is bait or trick the Sea King into giving up his idea to use Lodevar as a substitute for Lewellyn.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:35 pm    Post subject:  

Mordok wrote: :D Praise the Makers!

What a rip! I would suggest killing Lodavar to impress father, but that means killing the Ram.

If Lewellyn believes, and wants to help his sister and Lodevar they could pretend that Lodevar will kill Lewellyn if the king doesn't protect Freehome. They could demend a boat and whatever they needed.

Same suggestion, different storygame.

I don't think that Lewellyn would have the strenghth to kill Lodevar, as Keavney pointed out, MOrdok.

I won't waste time asserting what everybody else said, which seems to be a custom here in interfable, and instead I'll just say what I think Lewellyn would do if this hapopened to him:

Consult with his teacher the turtle (which will be in Lodevars favor, most probably)!!!

Oh yeah, the chapter was ok Keavs.
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Suneila
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Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2005 5:17 pm    Post subject:  

I think talking to the turtle is a good idea, too. He seems wise, and even if he insists that Lewellyn make his own decision (which i think is likely) it will be good moral support to have him know about the dilemma.

-sunny
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dark_temp1
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Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2005 4:02 pm    Post subject:  

nice that was kool, even know i didnt read it.
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Smee
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Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2005 4:09 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: I won't waste time asserting what everybody else said, which seems to be a custom here in interfable,
How else do you know it's the opinion of more than one person?


I like your idea though, it would be interesting to see what the turtle would say about the situation. Keavney may have to delve further into his character than he previously thought. Unless of course he has a story already written about the turtle :wink:
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2005 5:02 pm    Post subject:  

What I mean is that it's pointless to ask the same things over again, ex:

Smee says, "I see you are postponing the ram."

Rave says: "Oh, are you postponing the ram?"

Reiso: "Are you going to postopone the ram, or is it all going to be in this story, or is it a brief interlude?"

etc, etc.....
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Reiso
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Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:50 pm    Post subject:  

In my defense, let me point out that I have stopped reading the replies of others before writing my initial reaction to a new chapter. I don't want my reaction to be colored by what others say. Not that I don't read them afterward . . .
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Mordok
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Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 1:53 am    Post subject:  

With the flood of new stories, I came up with a great time saver. I JUST read the comments and then post something based on what everyone else said.

It keeps me from having to read every chapter of every story.

If you really want me to read your story, make alot of mistakes. That way, I can get some it from the posted quotes.

Plus, its great fun to vote on options you know nothing about.

As a matter of fact, just mark me down for the third option in the upcoming poll, and the second in the poll after that.

Woohoo! Now I'm saving time before it even arrives.



Ok, I'm going to sleep now. The delusions have started.
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Guest
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Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:45 pm    Post subject:  

ummm..interesting guys.... do you really have that many things to do that you can't stop and read????

- D-Lotus
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Ravenwing
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Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 3:53 pm    Post subject:  

I just read the most recent comment, and if I have any opinion I would post most of the time.
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Mordok
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Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 4:50 pm    Post subject:  

I hope everyone knows that my last post was a sad attempt at humor.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:31 pm    Post subject:  

Morodk, you're sad....
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Key
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Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 9:58 pm    Post subject:  

Mordok wrote: I hope everyone knows that my last post was a sad attempt at humor.

I got it. And I :lol:
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Smee
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Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 1:16 am    Post subject:  

As did I, you should know I find almost everything you do entertaining Mordok. :D
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Random
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Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 7:13 am    Post subject:  

Except for that bellydance... *shivers*

:)
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:12 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: Except for that bellydance...

I hate it when he insists on showing you right in front of your face, so that the sweat drops on to your...well...nevermind...
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Reiso
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Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 9:54 am    Post subject:  

Anonymous wrote: ummm..interesting guys.... do you really have that many things to do that you can't stop and read????

- D-Lotus

I know you meant Mordok's joke more than my own comment here, but you did use the plural 'guys', so I must defend myself! Unnecessary as it is, the stickler in me says to point out that (as I said in the post in question), I still read the replies to the story, I just read them after I've made my own reply. I don't see how this would take less time than reading it all straight away. Factor in any replies that may have come in during that time, and not only would it take just as long, it would probably take a little longer.

And yes, I do always have many things to do. But I always make time for Interfable.
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D-Lotus
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Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:39 pm    Post subject:  

Yes kids, there's always time for Interfable (tm)!!!!

All rights incorporated. Interfable is not responsible for what your kid writes in it or if he is demoralized. Interfable is authorized to destroy his dreams by telling him his story is crap.
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Key
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Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 11:57 pm    Post subject: Voting is up!  

The voting is now up. To vote, go to the next topic and make your choice. Remember that you must be logged in to vote. Feel free to continue the discussion there. The different options won't change, but you might be able to sway people to choose one or another.
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