April 12, 2001
Fishwrap #37 - "Crash, Bang, Splort, Yazack"


"Our last, best hope for peace"

Issue #37: "Crash, Bang, Splort, Yazack"
[April 12, 2001]
Circulation: 150

Fishwrap Magazine is available on the World Wide Webscrolly-thingy.
You can subscribe here and also read all the back issues.


This issue of the Fishwrap Magazine is brought to you by the following sponsors:
* Clan Rising Claw:
* Babajaga the Sylvan:
* Sor, for Sun Dragon Clan:
* Quest Tracker, for all your quest-related information:
* Fishmonger: Puddleby's News Kiosk:
* Paramedic's Notebook: Fire Drake battle pictures now available
* ClanLords:

"Fishwrap Magazine: Thoom News You Can Use"

brought to you by Fishwrap reporters:
* Rizal the Thoom, ThoomCare member, is now a third circle healer
* Mystara, Cradlesong, and Tara have become ThoomCare Affiliates
* Gift shop is open
* Room discovered in the Muddy North Forest rose

brought to you by Norm's Diary
* Logs provide a way to escape Umbion's Isle?
* The mysterious Doikk
* Foothills expeditions continue
for more information on the above stories, see Norm's Adventures

brought to you by Koric's Journal
* Exiles travel Dal'Noth Island
* Horus healing and teaching
* Chamelopod Forest rescues
* Gigantic Feral Swarm
* "Two logs of wood and a barrel full of tar"
for more information in the above stories, see Koric's Journal

brought to you by Babajaga's Diary:
* Travels to the Ethereal Plane
* Sutai's workout
for more information on the above stories, see Babajaga's Diary


Court records:
Clerus says, "Case #pcl_0541_172_14_30 on 82 Spring, 541 at 15:29..."
Clerus says, "Alknelt accused Infectus of attempted kidnapping of Algy, a defenceless...."
Clerus says, "The verdict was guilty; 51 minutes in jail, 237c fine and 0 days banished."
Clerus says, "Case #pcl_0541_184_14_05 on 4 Summer, 541 at 14:58..."
Clerus says, "Delirium accused Malkor of murdering Bouncy..."
Clerus says, "The verdict was innocent."
Clerus says, "Case #pcl_0541_200_17_41 on 20 Summer, 541 at 18:41..."
Clerus says, "Zephyrus accused Richard Simmons of disturbing the town quite a bit..."
Clerus says, "The verdict was frivolous; 116 minutes in jail, 478c fine and 0 days banished."
Clerus says, "Case #pcl_0541_205_10_14 on 25 Summer, 541 at 10:58..."
Clerus says, "Dr Malthus accused Moe of Assault and Attempted Murder..."
Clerus says, "The verdict was innocent."

Election results:
#181: Should the town square of Puddleby be remodeled to look more inviting?
32 (49%): Yes, I'm sick of sitting in mud!
4 (6%): No, I love soiling myself...
21 (32%): Maybe, it depends on how it might look.
3 (5%): None of the above
2 (3%): None of the above
3 (5%): Abstain
#182: What should the Island Umbrion dwells on be called?
7 (11%): "Damn, I Got Killed By an LSW" Island ("DIGCBaLSW"I)
5 (8%): "Island Whose Name We Cannot Agree On Though It Should Be Short and Concise" (IWNWCAOTISBSaC)
7 (11%): "Evil Place of Pyromaniac (not to be confused with the exile Pyromaniac) Brother of Tenebrion" (EPoP(ntbcwteP)BoT)
38 (59%): None of the above
7 (11%): Abstain

The Gubara report:
Gubara says, "The most esteemed citizens are: Algernon, Aival, Amarais Fina."
Gubara says, "The most reviled citizens are: Algernon."


Fishwrap Magazine is looking for a few more contributors, reporters and advertisers.

Advertising rates are quite affordable. Your ad will be read by well over 150 exiles!

Sponsorships: only 25 coins
Full ads: only 50 coins


Clans continue to submit their Clan Profiles. This issue we have one from the Hearts of Tan.

A member from each clan can submit an article on his or her clan, describing it in some detail. I'd like to see special focus on:

Origin/foundation story
Clan principles
Future plans
Location of clan scrolls (if available)

These profiles will run in Fishwrap free of charge to exiles as a public service paid for by the ThoomCare Media Network.

Nuba Yo!



Paramedic asks, "How are you getting along with Tenebrion these days?"
Tyking II says, "I have to admit, it's not as good as when you first interviewed me"
Tyking II says, "He's lied to me..."
Paramedic asks, "Oh really?"
Paramedic says, "Hm"
Tyking II says, "Gotten me killed, and showed no care"
Paramedic says, "That's not good"
Tyking II says, "And he hasn't contacted me in a LONG time"
Paramedic asks, "Do you think something has happened to him?"
Tyking II says, "No..."
Tyking II says, "If something happened to Tenebrion, someone would notice"
Tyking II says, "His guards are fine"
Paramedic asks, "What do you think is keeping him occupied?"
Tyking II says, "Perhaps he is trying to strengthen the spells of protection around his other brother's islands"
Tyking II says, "Which one, I do not know"
Paramedic says, "Hrmmm."
Tyking II says, "Maybe Lugubrion"
Paramedic asks, "What is your impression of Umbrion?"
(Tyking II covers his mouth)
Tyking II says, "Oops"
Tyking II says, "I wasnt supposed to say that.."
Tyking II says, "Ah well"
Paramedic asks, "Lugubrion?"
Tyking II asks, "Umbrion?"
Tyking II asks, "Lugubrion?"
Tyking II says, "Who's Lugubrion?"
Tyking II says, "I don't know any Lugubrion"
Paramedic says, "hmm"
Tyking II asks, "What was the next question?"
Paramedic asks, "ok then, what do you think of Umbrion?""
Tyking II asks, "Umbrion?"
Paramedic says, "yes, Umbrion"
Tyking II asks, "UmBrIoN?"
Tyking II asks, "UMBRION?"
Paramedic says, "Yeah, Umbrion"
Tyking II yells, "DIE UMBRION!"
Tyking II asks, "That answer your question?"
Paramedic says, "You don't seem to like him much"
Tyking II says, "Oh ya, oh ya"
Tyking II says, "I despise his very being"
Paramedic asks, "Is he evil?"
Tyking II says, "Yes"
Paramedic asks, "So should exiles go to Umbion's Island?"
Tyking II says, "In very large numbers, yes"
Tyking II says, "I want him dead"
Tyking II says, "And his keep destroyed"
Tyking II exclaims, "His guards, dead!"
Paramedic asks, "So you think he is that bad?"
Tyking II exclaims, "Worse than bad!"
Tyking II exclaims, "Despicable!"
Tyking II exclaims, "Horrible!"
Tyking II exclaims, "Terrible!"
Tyking II exclaims, "Zipzoopazorrible!"
Paramedic says, "That's not good"
Tyking II says, "He wants to burn down Puddleby"
Tyking II says, "And trust me, he can"
(Tyking II rubs the burn mark on his arm)
Tyking II says, "Umbrion gave me that"
Paramedic says, "That looks painful"
Tyking II says, "You betcha"
Tyking II says, "I'm standing in the conference room waiting"
Tyking II says, "And suddenly..."
Tyking II exclaims, "KABOOM!"
Tyking II says, "A stream of fire hits me and burns me to a crisp"
Paramedic says, "That is definitely bad"
Paramedic asks, "Tyking, have you been to Umbrion's Island?"
Tyking II says, "No."
Paramedic asks, "You consider Umbrion's Island dangerous?"
Tyking II says, "Yes"
(Paramedic nods)
Tyking II says, "Very much so"
Tyking II says, "Tenebrion warned me of it..."
Tyking II says, "Before Puddleby even knew about Umbrion's Island"
Paramedic says, "hmm"
Paramedic asks, "Do you know anything about the other brothers?"
Tyking II says, "A few things"
Tyking II says, "I know their names"
(Paramedic listens)
Tyking II says, "That they each have their own islands"
(Paramedic listens)
Tyking II says, "That they can kill someone beyond departablility"
Paramedic says, "Ack, that would be bad"
Tyking II says, "And that they would have killed me had I been present during the 'brion meeting."
Tyking II says, "That's about it."
Paramedic asks, "So they have threatened you in the past?"
Tyking II says, "Yes."
Tyking II says, "They are not as friendly as Tenebrion."
Paramedic says, "Ah, I see."
Paramedic asks, "Do you think Tenebrion is still conducting experiments with Purgatory?"
Tyking II says, "He hasn't mentioned it lately"
Paramedic says, "That's interesting"
Paramedic asks, "Maybe they never worked out?"
Tyking II says, "I think he's trying to do something about the things we're doing to the Ethereal Plane"
Paramedic asks, "He does not like exiles going to the Ethereal plane?"
Tyking II says, "I don't know"
Paramedic says, "Hmm."
Paramedic asks, "Have you been on an Ethereal Plane trip?"
Tyking II says, "I went on one, but never got to the plane itself"
Paramedic says, "Same here."
Tyking II says, "I have contacts who have been there though"
Paramedic asks, "What did they tell you?"
Tyking II says, "They informed me of what happened during the trips"
Tyking II says, "About the ethereal sword"
(Paramedic listens)
Tyking II says, "The monsters that lurk on the plane..."
Paramedic says, "It sounds quite dangerous there"
Tyking II says, "The pentagon snells, which I think is of a greater importance than they think"
Paramedic asks, "oh really?"
Tyking II says, "It's the small things that make a big difference"
Paramedic asks, "So you recommend checking those out more?"
Tyking II says, "Yes."
(Paramedic makes a note of that)
Paramedic says, "Ok, one last question...."
(Tyking II nods)
Paramedic asks, "Where do you think things are ultimately going with Puddleby and Tenebrion and his brothers? A big confrontation?"
Tyking II says, "One word."
(Paramedic listens)
Tyking II says, "Kaboom."
Paramedic asks, "Do you think exiles are prepared?"
Tyking II says, "Crash, bang, splort, yazack, the basic idea"
Tyking II says, "Nope"
Tyking II says, "Not at all"
Paramedic asks, "Do you think they could become prepared? Do they have a chance?"
Tyking II says, "They have no idea how powerful Umbrion is"
Tyking II says, "They could..."
(Paramedic listens)
Tyking II says, "Maybe the shield holds the key..."
Paramedic asks, "Which shield?"
Tyking II says, "A Tenebrionic shield"
Tyking II says, "Tenebrion has gotten Dan'dura'a to make one for me"
Paramedic asks, "Hm, to fend off Tenebrion?"
Paramedic asks, "Do you have it already?"
Tyking II says, "Nope"
Paramedic asks, "But you hope to get it soon?"
Tyking II says, "Yes"
Paramedic says, "Excellent. Let us know how that works out."
Tyking II says, "And when I do, I'll notify the fishwrap first :-)"
Paramedic says, "Thanks for a great interview, Tyking. As always it was very interesting"
Tyking II says, "Thank you."


Vagile would like to announce a new free naval service.

In the interests of lowering Puddleby's rate of scurvy the Puddleby Navy has launched an aggressive new health campaign.

All citizens are entitled to a free full body poke and check-up, teeth scraping and a general limb tugging to make sure they are still attached firmly. The official Naval Physician, Dr Tessa, will also provide a free citrus thing.

Did Vagile say free??? Yes!!! The Puddleby Navy in underwriting this health issue all out of its own funds. Any citizen is entitled to a free check-up. Vagile will however accept voluntary donations to assist this massively expensive undertaking.

Vagile would like to urge all Navy members to set a good example and get their check-ups done early to set an excellent example to the rest of the citizenary.


Calchas: How did the Hearts of Tan come to be?

Karkras: Before the Hearts of Tan, there was the Tan Team. Five of us newly-exiled bumped into each other one evening and headed off to the hive together. We had fought our way through a nearly endless wave of myrms, when we looked at each other and saw we were all wearing Tan clothes. We were proud of our accomplishment, as bloody and out of breath as we were, the hive's denizens were so much cracked carapace at our feet. At that moment, some common thread in our lives and fates intersected, and as if with a single voice, we all cried "Tan Team!" At that instant, though we didn't know it at the time, was the genesis of the Heart of Tan.

Calchas: You say that as if the Heart of Tan is an entity that was born.

Karkras: I believe that. The Heart of Tan is greater than any one of us; it is greater than the sum of us. The Heart of Tan more even, than a synergy of our collected spirits. It is an ideal; it is an energy; it is hope and optimism; it is fidelity, honor, and fellowship; it is reason and reward. When we declare that our "Hearts beat Tan," it means that we are infused by these principles... A Heart of Tan does more than carry our lifeblood -- it gives our lives meaning, our spirits hope, and our paths direction.

Calchas: After the genesis, how did the Tan Team become the Hearts of Tan?

Karkras: We told each other that we should found a clan but we didn't know the hows, whos, or whats. We had a lot of questions, but few answers. Because of this, the idea languored for a little while, even though we were exploring and discovering together every day. We all wanted the clan to be "democratic," but no one stepped forward with a comprehensive, unified vision. It was then that I realized that the Heart of Tan was what unified us, so I drafted up the original Tan Project scroll which attempted to define ourselves and our principles. Some of the Tan Team thought the document was heavy-handed, undemocratic, and hypocritical, so they left us. The remaining Tan Team ratified the vision and we worked hard over the next couple of weeks to raise the money for the founding fees. We did accept small contributions, but we decided not to ask for coins; we wanted the strength of our convictions to speak for us; with all of us barely-trained newlings it was a daunting quest, but one that brought us together, one that made us very proud to accomplish.

Calchas: I heard that the Tan Team almost had a very different destiny.

Karkras: That's true. At first, with only 7-10 on the Team and no banner to rally around yet, we took a proposal to the Silver Drakes. In response, they offered to make the Tan Team a chapter of their clan, "the Tan Talon." When we inspected this alternative more closely, however, we realized that we had become a distinct entity, and voted unanimously to follow our hearts, to become the Hearts of Tan.

Calchas: You began by wearing tan clothes, and your Clan's name and color is Tan; why don't your members wear Tan?

Karkras: I hear that question so much! I'm glad you asked though. We are "the Hearts of Tan"-- we are not "the Clothes of Tan." For the same reason that the Winds of Dawn do not go naked flying around on gusts of wind, and for the same reason that not every member Dwarven Militia is a dwarf, we do not have to wear cheap tan clothes: we are unified by a Set of Principles and Ideals, not by a uniform. All Dwarven Militia are dwarfs at heart. We are Tan at Heart!

But it is no coincidence that we are "Tan" and our first shirts on this island are Tan. Nearly everyone remembers their first days in Puddleby, when everything was new and the world was endless, full of danger and challenge, with beasts to overcome, and a frontier to explore. That time is what we Hearts refer to as the "Tan Time": the sense of wonder and vital excitement that new exiles feel during that time, the strong bonds of friendship and fellowship that are formed, the exhilarating surges felt in their hearts as they face danger and vanquish foes; all these elements of the Tan Time we hold as ideals, we also hold in our Hearts. Our actions and our Hearts are what make us Tan -- not the color of our shirts.

Calchas: You've talked about "the Heart of Tan" as a guiding force, but how would you describe your Clan itself?

Karkras: Our Clan was founded based on the principles of Fellowship, Fidelity, and Honor. The Hearts of Tan hold the wonder and excitement of the newly-exiled as an ideal, and constantly strive to achieve and maintain this ideal through exploration, embracing and assisting those new to Lok-Groton, and continuously seeking opportunities, pushing boundaries & expanding frontiers in both self development and development of the Clan as a unified, dynamic entity.

Calchas: Does the Hearts of Tan have any special Clan Events or Activities?

Karkras: We hold a Clan Meeting and Hunt every Zodiac, and a General Election every other Spring. Our Chief Treasurer schedules Fund-Raising Hunts, and our Clan Expeditions Leader plans and schedules special exploration expeditions (we're currently focused on the secrets of Devil's Island). We also have three other Events/Activities in the works.

Calchas: What is a cross-section of your Clan's Membership?

Karkras: The Hearts of Tan comprise 29 exiles, including 16 fighters, 12 healers, and 1 mystic. All but 6 of us are Second Circle in our respective Guilds; 5 are still First Circle; the pride of our clan currently lies with Medissa, who just passed into the Healers' Third Circle. We have 3 Lords, one of which is a talented Bard.

Calchas: You mentioned earlier that you have other events "in the works" for the future. Can you share some details?

Karkras: [chuckles] Sure. We are planning a series of HeartQuests for Tanmates. The first is mainly for New Hearts: the "Egg Run," in which the New Heart must retrieve an egg from the Hive. The second involves our "Mirror-Rose Circuit" race. The third involves the "Tan Lok-Groton Lore Challenge." Other ideas we have been throwing around involve a "Gauntlet" run, a Relay-Drinking contest, Scroll-Writing, and Puzzle Challenge. Tanmates who are successful in the various HeartQuests will receive a special medal. Oh, and we hope to take part in the Dun'ilsar competitions one day soon.

Calchas: Where can an exile find the Hearts of Tan Webscrolls?

Karkras: They are easily accessable at http://www.tanhearts.org

Calchas: Thank you for talking with me today, Karkras!

Karkras: My Pleasure, Calchas! May the Tan Light forever Illuminate your Path.


This issue we have two entries of fiction from exiles.

First, "Exiled", Part One, by Odesseus. Then a story by Leogic.



T'rryll cursed quietly as he rubbed the lump on his head. A loud bang had awoken him from his sleep, causing him to sit bolt upright in this confined area, resulting in cracking his head on a low beam. The boat creaked and rolled, as it had done for the past two weeks. T'rryll strained to open his gummy eyes. Dim light filtered through a couple of cracks in the deck above, casting a vague light about his small hiding space. He tried to swallow, his tongue coated and swollen.

More bangs and loud shouts came down to him. A dim hope of getting off this reeking, rocking prison rekindled in his breast. Fresh air! Sunlight! Water by the gallon! Such dim dreams they seemed to be. But the noise died down and his hope died with it.

How he arrived here was a folly of errors. He shook his head at his predicament as he settled down to return to sleep.

Chapter 1

Their journey started out simply enough. He and seven others headed east, the rolling hills of his homeland giving way to open desert. In a couple of weeks, this in turn came to forest that contained small hamlets filled with people of different races. They were so unlike his own. Trryll had seen some before near his home, but very few. It made him uncomfortable. Their hairless bodies and rubbery faces seemed repulsive. Add to that their flat, harsh speech in a language that Tryll could barely understand gave him an impression that these races were unsophisticated, even though he was told otherwise. They had, after all, conquered his own homeland hundreds of years ago, uniting the land in an oppressive monarchy called the Ascendency.

The small band threaded their way carefully though the forests, speaking to those who knew of their purpose, being guided by their information. Their task was a treacherous one, for at any turn sympathizers to the Ascendency might give them up to the authorities. Bounty was to be had for such deeds, vile as they were. They pressed on, cautiously, fearing the worst at every step.

What they sought was straightforward, but not simple to be had. A few of their kin had disappeared, important members of a secret clan who were also part of an underground insurgency to overthrow the Emperor Mobius, the leader of the Ascendency. They had gone out on a journey to meet with other members of the group and had not returned. To find them and, if possible, to help them get back was their goal.

Arr'n was their leader, a middling-aged fen with keen eyes. She alone knew where they were headed, who to talk to. Trryll and the half-dozen others were along as protectors and facilitators. They knew nearly nothing of their mission, only to stand in the way of anything that may try to harm Arr'n and, with their own lives, allow her to escape. If they were captured, they knew nothing to divulge no matter the torture. Arr'n, too, was expendable, for if she were captured she would take her own life to protect others.

For many weeks they made their way east, sleeping in barns and hollows in the ground, their cloaks pulled around them where they approached other people, taking the guise of wandering monks,ever watchful. They kept their distance, hiding their differences deep in their hoods. Fen do not wander these parts idly, and their appearance could easily lead to suspicion. Suspicion would inevitably lead to capture.

Eventually, the trail they followed led them to the east coast of the continent. How far they had come! Trryll raised his nose and deeply inhaled the salt-tanged air. They must be nearing the mission's end. How much further could they go? They approached the outskirts of a small port town and set up camp, meager as it was.

It seemed like a simple task. Slip into town, find a certain shop and obtain a small scroll containing some information and return. Arrn had asked Trryll to do this because he was one of the smaller of the group and may attract the least attention.

Head down and hood pulled over, shuffling his step, paws tucked into sleeves, Trryll made his way along the streets. Some of the inhabitants mumbled greetings, mistaking him for some religious person. He nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement. He kept his tail carefully wrapped about one leg, even though it wanted to twitch with the tension he felt.

Finally coming into the desired shop, he slipped inside the open door. Behind the counter was a portly human male, idly flipping through a small bound volume. He looked up as Trryll entered.

"Ah, good day, friar, how may I help you?"

Trryll replied with a set phrase. "I'm here about the Vethpian orb," he lisped softly in the common tongue.

The man nodded once quickly, slipped from around the counter and closed and locked the shop door. Trryll was instantly alert.

"Just so we won't be disturbed," the shopkeeper said, as if sensing Trryll's alarm. "I have what you seek. But first... are you Fen'neko?"

Trryll winced slightly at the horrible mispronunciation of his race's name, but nodded.

"Please," the man said, "I've never seen a fen. Would it be too much to ask?"

Trryll considered this a moment and looked at the single, small window in the shop. It was shuttered. Reaching up, he pulled back his hood. He raised his flattened ears. His large, green eyes glittered in the dim light. The human gave a slight gasp.

"You look just like a cat!" exclaimed the man.

Trryll raised a lip and snarled slightly as he pulled the hood back over his head. "I come not here be insulted." His eyes glowed at the shopkeeper from the depths of the hood.

The shopkeeper waved his hands to try and placate Trryll, "Oh, I'm sorry, sorry! I know how fen hate that comparison. It was a slip. Your features are quite striking. As I said, I'd never seen a fen before. Your people rarely leave your homeland. I've heard traveler's tales only."

The shopkeeper bowed slightly. "Thank you for your indulgence, and please pardon this foolish man."

Trryll inclined his head as the man slipped back behind the counter. "I have the scroll right here. I must say, things have been odd around town lately." The fellow was in a chatty mood, possibly trying to make up for his egregious error.

"Normally, we only get a couple of trade ships in every zodiac. You know, the usual stuff, food, drink, some metals and the like. Well, lately, things have changed."

The shopkeeper leaned forward on the counter and lowered his voice. "Black ships have been coming into our little port. Quite large ones. They buy up a large amount of supplies and stand in port for a few days. Then, when the night turns moonless, they slip out to sea."

Trryll's curiosity and confusion must have registered even within his hood, for the shopkeep nodded slightly. "Aye, mysterious, eh? And what is even more mysterious is the rumor that the final cargo for the ship is loaded just before it sets sail, under the same moonless dark." The shopkeeper lowered his voce even further, "They say that cargo is people!"

"Err?" responded Trryll drawing back, "Sssslavesss?"

The shopkeeper shrugged. "Some say..."

A muffled knock from the back of the back of the shop interrupted the man's theorizing. "Ah, I'm expecting a small delivery. Please wait just a moment while I attend to it." The shopkeeper opened a door to a backroom and shut it after he passed through.

The young fen was getting restless of this endless chatter, wanting to fulfill his small duty and return to his friends. But he waited patiently, his eyes roaming about the room looking at the dreary goods.

The door was suddenly flung open and Trryll jerked his head up. A strangled cry came from the backroom and the shopkeeper flew backwards through the door, crashing into the counter and knocking it over. A sharp tang came to Trryll's nose as a huge figure ducked through the door and stood as upright as it could. It still crouched in the shop to keep from hitting its head on the ceiling. Now it was Trryll's turn to gape.

The Ghorak Zo glowered at Trryll. Although stooping, Trryll estimated the being to be nearly eight feet tall. These were the creatures that aided Emperor Mobius in bringing about his homeland's downfall, brought from some alien land far away. It was the first time he had seen one. The Zo dominated the confined space. "I'll have a word with you," it rumbled, as it stepped over the unconscious body of the shopkeeper.

Trryll slashed with his extended claws at the arm that reached toward him. The Zo recoiled in pain and shock. "You little vermine!" it yelled, then bellowed an ear shattering roar and tried to grab the fen. Trryll dove under the huge arms and sprang through the small window. Wood and glass splintering as he rolled to his feet outside the shop. Another Zo waiting in the alley spotted him and bellowed "You there! Stop!"

His tattered cloak flying behind him, Tryll let out a raging snarl to clear his way as he ran out of the alley and through the crowds of townspeople. A woman screamed and dropped her load at the sight of him. The people stared at he sped by them. From behind him one of the Zo's yelled "Stop that creature!" but none got in his way.

Pelting down alleyways, Trryll could hear his pursuers hot on his trail. Although he twisted and turned, the Ghorak Zo seemed to know where he was headed. He remembered hearing something abut Zo having a keen sense of smell, as well. They were tracking him.

The alley he was following opened out onto a dock. Piles of goods were stacked, ready to be loaded onto a waiting ship. The ship was black. Trryll cursed silently to himself as he swung up a dock rope and landed quietly on the deck. A few sailors were milling about but none had spotted him. An open hatchway beckoned. He soundlessly sped down the stairs, quickly testing doors as he went. At the end of the short hall one opened to a well-appointed cabin with a wide sweep of small windows set into the back wall looking out over the harbor. Quickly casting about he spotted a small bookcase up on the front wall that was slightly ajar, revealing a compartment behind it. He slipped into the small space and pulled the bookcase nearly closed.

Trryll quieted his breathing and tried to calm his pounding heart as he sat in the gloom, pushing himself as far back from the opening as possible. For the small opening, the space was fairly large, about four times his size, but low ceilinged. Small casks and boxes filled a good deal of the space. Quietly shifting some of the boxes to shield himself from a direct view of the opening, he settled down to wait for a while. He hoped the Zo would lose his trail and allow him to slip back out and away. He will have failed his mission, but kept his life.

Fairly soon he heard footsteps coming his way. Trryll heard the door to the cabin open and close, then a distinct sound of a lock being turned. The occupant distractedly hummed as he busied himself about the quarters. Trrylll breathed very shallowly as he glimpsed the form of a human male pass back and forth in front of the open slit of the bookcase.

From above, Trryll heard the growling rumble of the Ghorak Zo. Apparently they had followed his trace to the ship, or perhaps, thought it was a likely spot he might have hidden. The young fen's heart sped up again at the prospect of meeting up with those giants. Apparently the human had heard it as well, for the humming suddenly stopped.

Hard-soled feet hammered down the galleyway and came up short to the locked door. There was a knock. "Captain!" came a muffled voice, "There are some bounty hunters up here looking for someone. They want to talk to you. They seem like they're in a big hurry."

The captian swore under his breath, "Zos! They'll be the death of me, yet!" Raising his voice the captain replied, "Very well! Tell them I'll be up momentarily!"

"Aye, captain," came the reply and the feet quickly retreated back up the galleyway.

Muttering to himself, the captain hastily moved about the cabin, gathering things up. The opening to the compartment was suddenly thrown wide open, and Trryll quickly ducked down behind the boxes. Books, rolled up charts and a couple of small boxes were uncermoniously dumped into the compartment, then the door shut, enclosing him in near-total darkness. Trryll's breath stopped short as he heard the sound of two locking bolts being driven home and things piled on the bookcase outside. He was in the captain's secret compartment, locked away. Trryll felt sick at his misfortune.

Unlocking the cabin door, the captain's footsteps retreated up the galleyway. Muffled voices of humans and Zo could be heard. Trryll silently crept over the boxes and felt the wall where the opening had been. It was hard wood, the join of the jamb and the door exceedingly tight. Trryll gingerly extended a claw into the tight space. The bolt was deeper than he could reach. He pushed gently against the door. It felt as strong as the wall it was set into. Trryll cursed at himself quietly as he slunk back into his protected corner.

Voices rose in argument from above, and the rumble of the Zos turned into bellows. A large crash sounded and the ship shuddered. The sound of the human voice turned obsequious and the Zos calmed down. Soon, heavy footsteps came down the galleyway. Doors to cabins were thrown open and closed soon after. The muffled voice of the captian explained each of the crew's quarters. The captain came to his own quarters.

"And here," the captain said, opening the cabin door, "are my quarters. I can assure you gentlemen, er, Zos, that there is nothing out of the ordinary." The Zos prowled about the cabin briefly.

"Show us the hold," demanded one Zo.

"Certainly," the captain said, "But my crew has been loading cargo into it all morning long. They would have spotted anyone attempting to enter it, no matter what kind of stealth you say they have."

"What is your business?'" demanded the other of the Zos.

"That, sirs," the captain replied as he closed the door behind the retreating party, "Is between me and the Emperor."

Trryll's heart froze as the cabin door clicked softly shut.


Clan Lord and Puddleby � 2001 Delta Tao

A human named James, like many others, began his life as an exile, not by choice. Through defending himself and his family from band of cutthroat thieves, killing one. James was arrested for murder by the town's Sheriff, an Agent for the Ascendancy, and local crime boss.

After several weeks at sea, James and others, barely clothed, half-starved and with no means to defend themselves, where unshackled, brought on deck of the prison galley, and dumped on the dock of Puddleby Island. Somewhat dazed, he and his fellow prisoners where instructed to report into town, or simply die, preferably the latter. James and the 10 out of 14 others who survived the long journey trudged toward town walls, and past the gates where they where suggested to move as quickly past as possible and to the town square by a large Ghorak Zo. James had heard of these folk, but had never seen one, he quickly followed the burly looking guard's orders. Once he was deeper into town, he was shocked to find how well dressed the exiled prisoner where, and how well fed they looked. He also noticed what a variety of folk there where to behold. He had never even seen a Thoom or a Sylvan or many outside his own species before, having rarely needed to leave his farm back home.

A Halfling, seeing that his group where new arrivals and half starved ushered them over to a nearby tavern and offered the group some food. The Halfling-who introduced himself as Mortimer the Tailor-carried on how horrible how little food they offered prisoners and commented that he was STILL making up for his journey on the boat, patting his rotund belly. Halfway into the meal they where joined by a rather tall well armed Thoomish lady, sporting a rather threadbare black belt to which Mortimer offered to repair, but was politely refused. She joined them for a dinner of fresh rock-cod and greens. She introduced herself as Lelerin, giving assistance to Mortimer on directing James and his fellow new exiles to visit town hall where he could be provided with a weapon and better clothing.

James asked her about the belt, and why it was so threadbare. She explained to him that in her old town, the solder's never washed their belts, and that over time, it grew black. She explained in a somewhat sad and melodramatic manner that 'due to the smell and it being an unwholesome habit' they insisted that she use one dyed black, though she let it grow threadbare to show its age and her experience.

When James arrived at the town hall, Leterin introduced him town officer in charge of local Human relations and bid him good luck. The officer gave him a descent change of clothes tan and sackcloth. The officer also introduced him to the local weapon-master who issued James a club, crude yet effective. The weapons-master further instructed James that the town was constantly under assault by beasts of all sorts. Clubus further informed James that he would be expected to do his part to keep the town running though combat or healing or some other useful skill. His first task was to help maintain the rat towers to the west, which had always had a little rodent problem, though he should first visit master Bodius or Brackus to first learn basic combat.

Bodius, whose main job, when not training Exiles on the finer point of physical fitness and basic dodging and striking techniques, could usually be found maintaining the altar room, which of course was where James found him. Bodius issued James a few basic pointers about how to hold a weapon, basic striking disciplines, how often to perform exercises, and which ones where the most beneficial. James was then ushered out the door, as Bodius seemed preoccupied with a small blue book, though pointing him in the direction of the western guard towers first. To James's surprise these 'little rodents', Clubus had earlier mentioned, turned out to be 2 foot long giant Rats with razor sharp teeth and beady little black eyes, reeking of unwholesome filth and decay.

James maintained the tower for several weeks, learning the ins and outs of fighting rats and how to dodge their attacks. Leaping away and striking out when the rat was off balance making goes at his throat or legs.

A few weeks later, James was eating his supper of fresh-fish and tubers and berries he greeted by an old man by the name of Fistus.

The old man sat down in front of James, who smiled and nodded in recognition, though curious, as to whom this individual was now sat before him chattering on in small conversation about the town, the horrid vermine, and how cheap Mr. Bountypay was.

"You're new in town, though not so new, son" said the old man. "The name's Fistus. Used to be a soldier, from before the times of the emperor. Was a veteran of the Darshak War. I run the fighters' guild round here."

"Why do they call you Fistus?" James replied.

Fistus held up his gnarled hands, to which had looked like they had been broken many, many times

"Because of these, before the inquisitor had me sent here, he had my hands shattered, healed, and shattered again, twenty times over, till they thought they wouldn't work anymore. Not that it mattered, just made 'em tougher." Fistus looked grim, recalling the memory of his torture, flexing his hands slowly repeatedly. James could hear the tendons stretch and bones crackle slightly as the old timer did this.

"I've been watching you lately for the last few weeks, I think you would make an excellent fighter. You got what it takes to perhaps even rival Eveus or myself someday. Here, take this." Fistus placed a heavy, leather-sheathed, ebon handled, knife in James' hand.

"We would appreciate your help as a fighter you will be trained in the art of war and combat, and as a huntsman to retrieve wild game. This is just the beginning, son. A great opportunity."

"Um, ok, uh what do I do?" James looked at his dagger, and hefting it a few times testing its weight and balance."

"Go to the fighter's hall, northeast of town when you can. Show your blade to the guard and he'll letcha' in."

James agreed to be a "fighter" for the town. His new weapon, an 8 inch hunting knife, was rather useful, as well as sharp. He found that rats, as well as myrm where slain with greater ease by its sharp blade. He was asked to help clear myrm a week into clearing rats, much to his chagrin. He was fearful of the dire ant creatures, wanting to keep his hands and arms intact, though he quickly learned that most where slow and stupid. Usually when he saw a one of the rarer-though swift-guard myrm, he would flee like a bat out of hell.

Before he had met Fistus occasionally tried to explore, but was turned back buy a rather stubborn doorman. James displayed his new dagger to the guard, whom nodded his head and pointed toward the large twin wooden door of the Fighters' Guild complex. Inside was somewhat disappointing, several rough looking individuals gave him sideways glances and carried on their conversations. James approached a rather plainly dressed fighter in the back who was picking his sharp teeth with a toothpick.

"Name's Atkus," the man said, "you came to learn?

"Learn? Learn what, sir?" replied James

"I can train you to use that pigsticker you have there, son" Atkus chortled. "Don't want you hacking off a few of your own fingers in combat, do you?"

James shook his head, no and continued.

"Sure, what do I... do?" asked James.

Atkus motioned James to follow as he approached the basement door. Within the basement, Atkus nodded at a few odd looking practice dummies and wielded his own dagger dagger, adorned and scarred by many years of combat, though its blade was still honed, and amazingly unnotched. Atkus told James to stand in front of one.

"First things first, how do you strike at an enemy?" Atkus inquired.

James holding is knife at a downward angle lunged forward at the nearby dummy, missing it entirely as it leapt out of the way!

"Aargh!" James shouted, his blade implanted in the wall behind the dummy. Atkus snickered at James' clumsy strike.

"These new ones are getting greener every year" Atkus chuckled silently.

"Well, kid, you have got a lot to learn, for one thing, you need to be subtle in your movements when approaching an enemy. Try not to give away when you are going to strike."

James climbs to his feet and begins to attempt to pry his new blade from its place in the wall. After a few tries he pulls it free and focuses on Atkus.

Atkus fold his own dagger up in demonstration of a fighting stance, his feet placed shoulder width apart and his blade pointing down. He looked like he was going to punch the dummy, whom was now trying to taunt Atkus by throwing hay at him and banging on its shield with its wooden shortsword.

Atkus then glanced at James, winked, and without looking lunged at the dummy. Before the dummy could react, it found Atkus' dagger planed firmly between the eyes.

The dummy froze and started mumbling 'oww oww oww' before pulling free, glaring at Atkus. The dummy, knowing it was no match for the old timer sat in a corner and began stitching itself up with a needle and thread.

"Its not just about sight, kid, it's about sensing your opponent's position and listening to his movements. Don't just use your eyes and brute strength. You will also find some creatures move a certain way, and that other creatures are just as smart as we are. The later of course being the most deadly." Atkus commented, removed some bits of hay from his blade's hilt, sheathing it silently in its home on his belt.

James nodded in agreement and stepped up to another dummy, which was leaning against a post, looking rather bored. When it saw James, it perked up and stood in an attack posture.

James, imitating Atkus's fighting stance and glanced at the dummy, which was now attempting to poke at him with its wooden sword. James held his blade up and slashed out with its edge at the dummy. The dummy blocked the strike with its small shield and tried to counterattack with its sword. James received a smart thump on the side of the head, but didn't fall to the glancing blow. The strike merely annoyed James whose determination welled up even further, feeling pleased that he didn't ENTIRELY miss the dummy. James stepped back a bit, then edged forward. When the dummy swung at him, James knocked its wooden sword aside with his knife and plunged it into its shoulder, causing the dummy minimal pain. James withdrew his blade, stepping back quickly to avoid a painful stab in the ribs from the dull wooden sword. James was curious as to why the dummy was still standing in front of him grinning like a lunatic.

"It was a wounding strike, not enough points to make it hurt." Atkus, as though somehow he could read James's immediate thoughts, "Ok, that's enough for today, at least you didn't hurt yourself like a lot of newcomers do. More than once I've had to drag some slob out of this place with a concussion or to find that they had cut off their own fingers." James smiled and thanked Atkus for his help.

"Come back tomorrow, we will discuss your career as a fighter. Remember, practice what I taught you."

James left the fighters' training area with a new sense of purpose. All that afternoon he hunted vermine for furs, using the subtle maneuver Atkus had taught him, as well as improvising the skills his father had taught him.

By that evening, he had become confident with his lesson, and looked forward to many more with his new teacher.


Behind the Mystic II: After the Beatings
Clan Profiles: Pogue Mahone, Rising Claw, ThoomCare
Five Questions with Alchemist

Fishwrap Magazine is part of the ThoomCare Media Network.

Publisher and Editor: Paramedic

Senior reporters: Crippler, Charlos

Roving reporters and contributors: Althea, Babajaga, Bones, Callia, Deadmeat, Jeanne, Koric, K'Pyn, Mac, Monolith, Norm, Perkusi, Tyking II

A newspaper is only as good as its reporters, and we are always looking for new stories. If you have news you think belongs in Fishwrap Magazine, send Paramedic some mail (mailbox #1047) or email him at his scroll:

"Rule a kingdom as though you were cooking a small fish - don't overdo it".
- Lao Tzu

Posted by Para at April 12, 2001 09:36 PM
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