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: Dimas 2:5020/400 18 p 98 20:54
: All p 21 p 98 13:37
: PanoramaInterlude Four: The Dance

From: "Dimas"
Panorama
Interlude Four:
The Dance
Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never go till we re one
Love was when I loved you
One true time I hold to
In my life we ll always go on
"My Heart Will Go On," by James Horner and Will Jennings.
As I look up at the Earth, I cannot help but feel her gaze. Her
dark eyes are that intense. When she and I speak, our voices are polite
and quiet, never hinting at what was ... but when she brushes against me,
I still feel the heat.
The heat I had yearned after well before she and I met.
On the day that it began, I had spent my expected hour of study in
the library of the palace, reading "Ye Kronikle of Ye Hunteres", the first
great Martian ballad. It was a simple tale, but it caught fire within the
walls of my imagination. I *saw* Cyndaelle and her companions pursuing
and ambushing the great Wyrm, saw the climactic dance of death between
mortal and monster, saw the sacrifices of the companions to give Cyndaelle
her moment of triumph, saw Cyndaelle bleeding from many wounds, pay homage
to her foe by uttering those immortal words --
"Better it is to die me now, oh Wyrm,
Then to live in a world where thou art not ..."
"For the Hunt is Life, and the Hunt is Done," I echoed as I walked
down the hall from the library as I went to tend my garden.
"What *are* you talking about now, dear one?" I heard an elegant
voice behind me ask. Surprised, I turned. It was, of course, sweet
Venus. I should not have been so startled as I was; no one else in the
palace would have dared to interrupt me in my thoughts, even if they were
vocalized, even if I did not realize that they were. But Venus was a law
unto herself.
"Venus!" I cried aloud as I dashed to hug her, very careful to
suppress the instinct to apply the Earther expression "-chan" to her name.
I did not know how she would react to *my* doing so, but I knew that she
had once casually broken the nose of a minor noble of her own world who
had. Our embrace was warm, and she kissed me on the lips.
"Ah, Serenity, I have missed you greatly lo these many months,"
she began as we continued to walk together.
"Venus," I chided, "you were gone no more than a week to your
world. You cannot have concieved a great longing to see me in that brief
time."
She pouted. "You have ruined my soliliquy. I spent the entire
trip here composing it, I shall have you know, and you have ruined it with
your petty demands for reality."
We laughed together after a moment. It was wonderful to have my
dearest friend returned to me, no matter how long she had been gone. She
accompanied me to my garden, and watched indulgently as I fussed over the
white roses. She moved easily among the rows of flowers, her sandaled
feet scarcely leaving a mark where they danced.
"In truth, Serenity," she said then, "I would have wished for your
company on this visit home. I have long wished for you to see the beauty
there."
I smiled sadly. "Alas, Venus, I do not think that my mother would
be willing to give me permission to voyage to your world. Its gravity is
thrice that of the Kingdom s, as well you know. She would fear for my
safety."
"Poo!" she said, gesturing angrily. "On Venus there are scores of
wizards --"
"Magi," I corrected gently.
"-- who could *facilely* alter the local gravity of wherever you
were to suit your comfort. No, there can be only one reason that you will
not come to Venus."
"And it is?" I asked, dreading.
"You do not care enough for my feelings!" she declaimed, and began
to sob into her hands, looking away from me. After a moment of
uncertainty, I became quite sure that she was only pretending to weep at
the thought, and released a sigh of exasperation and relief.
"In all honesty, dear Serenity," she said a few moments later, "I
truly do think that you should at least try to know your Guardians. Why,
just the other day while I was talking with sweet Mercury ..."
She trailed off, and I immediately recognized that I was supposed
to react with surprise that she knew the daughter of the Lord President of
Mercury. "Oh, have you met her? How surprising. Astonishing even." I
rewarded her obvious gambit with a response that she could tell was
falsely surprised. She reddened, and did not continue.
In truth, then ... and to a degree now, as well ... I found the
idea of my Guardians to be embarrassing. I was not blind to the real
political meaning of the declaration that my mother had made when the
Heirs were born. "Your children shall support and protect my daughter
with their lives ... just as your kingdoms do for mine." Thus, any
failure by the daughter could be visited on the kingdom. And vice versa,
perhaps.
How could I face my Guardians, win their affections as I had
Venus , when I knew that their sacred trust was a lie invented to give the
Moon Kingdom control over their fates? Even my friendship with Venus, I
knew well, was guided by this need of my mother to dominate the other
worlds. A decade past, the death of Venus mother, Astarte, had left
Mother in an ideal position to influence the governing of Venus, by
bringing Astarte s daughter and Heir to her side, making her dependant on
Mother and myself. It had not completely worked -- most of Venus
protestations that she needed to be with me to be happy were at most
private jests between the two of us.
When I was finished with my gardening, I cleaned my hands and led
Venus to where my mother was holding court that evening, and presented
her. Mother permitted her to approach the throne, and to kiss her on the
forehead. The gesture of fillial respect did not go unremarked upon in
court.
A few hours passed, as Mother listened to each petition, judged
it, and responded accordingly. At the end, she glanced at the timeglass
and asked, "Has anyone other business to bring before us this day?"
I heard Venus, standing beside me, clear her throat. For a
moment, I wondered if she was going to make the foolish suggestion about
my visiting her world to Mother. Then she cleared her throat a second
time, and I knew with a sinking sensation that she thought *I* would do
so.
I stepped forward, sighing, and uttered the formula. "May it
please Her Majesty, I fain would speak."
Mother did not even blink. "The throne recognizes Her Royal
Highness Serenity Daughter of Serenity, Heir to the Moon Kingdom. Of what
would you speak this day?"
Well, tis better to dance an evening than a single step, I
reasoned, and began. "Her Highness the Princess of Venus has invited me
to visit her world, Your Majesty, in the interest of promoting still
greater friendship between our two worlds. Too, she has reminded me of
the *other* Heirs of the Silver Millenium, and I have thought of what good
might come of reminding each of them of the love which I bear for my sworn
Guardians, by going to their worlds in turn --" Oh, why not? "-- and
inviting them to return to the Moon Kingdom with me."
Shocked whispers circulated through the court as I concluded, and
waited patiently for Mother to reject my idea. She stared at me without
expression. I lowered my gaze from hers, of course, demure as ever.
"Interesting," she said, "we needs must speak of this at length in
my chambers. Unless there is any other business?"
She had not refused. I blinked.
"Then I declare that this court is adjourned until tomorrow." She
rose, and stepped down from the raised section where the Silver Throne
stood. She crossed the floor gracefully, accepting the bows, curtsies,
and salutes of the crowd. Mother paused when she reached me. "Won t you
join me, daughter?"
It was not a request, and it specifically excluded Venus from our
conversation. I bobbed my head in a quick affirmation, and joined her,
walking two steps behind.
When we arrived at her chambers, and the door was closed, and the
wards enforced, she turned to me and asked me the one question I would
never have expected. "Is this *truly* what you wish to do?"
"Mother ..."
"Think carefully, my daughter. Some, indeed many of the rulers of
the Silver Millenium look on us with scorn and contempt, as a mask for
their fear. They will try to seduce and corrupt you, guide you down paths
which must not be followed, and if all else fails they will seek your
life. *Is* this *truly* what you *wish* to do?"
I listened to my mother s words. I heard the fear in them, fear
for my life and my safety if I went among these strange foreign worlds. I
heard the fear *of* those worlds. My mother, born a millenium past, had
only once voyaged to Earth under special circumstances, recently. This
was viewed as a sign of her love for the Moon Kingdom, fairest jewel of
the heavens.
It was actually a sign of her fear.
"How can I rule," I asked calmly, "if I do not show them that I do
not fear them? Or, if they give me cause to fear, if I cannot make them
believe that I do not? Mother, it is not what I wish to do; it is what I
*must* do."
She stared at me for a long moment, and for a moment I *did* fear.
I feared that she knew that I had seen what was behind her image of
complete calm and sanctity. But then she spoke again. "Very well. You
shall visit each of the worlds in turn -- first Mars --"
"But, Mother, Venus is closer."
"It is also three times as gravitated as our Kingdom." My own
words returned to haunt me. "You shall be working, during these voyages,
to increase your tolerance for gravity. Mars will be a good beginning."
She paused. "You leave tomorrow, at Earthdawn."
"But that is in a matter of hours!" I protested. "Surely I will
need more time to prepare than that!"
She looked at me strangely. "You mean that you have not been
planning this for some time? That the idea was truly suggested to you by
Venus?"
A trap! If she believed that I was being unduly influenced by
Venus, I would never see her again. I laughed, sillily. "Oh, Mother, no!
But I knew that if you refused my request, that prior preparations might
seem impertinent. So ..."
She shook her head, smiling sadly. "It is indeed hard to believe
that you are but fourteen years, my daughter ... already you play the
Great Game as well as well as men thrice your age."
"I had the finest teacher in all the worlds," I said, sincerely.
"Will you have enough time to gather what you need by the *next*
Earthdawn?" she asked.
I considered, rapidly, then nodded. "That will be more than
enough time."
"Then you shall leave at that time. Beware, however," her voice
said, going cold once more. "The lords of the other worlds do *not* play
the Great Game. If you try to engage with them, you will suffer greatly."
"I shall be guided by you," I promised, and with her permission,
made my way from her chambers to mine. Summoning a small army of
servants, I began to pack furiously. The task of selecting outfits that
would emphasize my Lunar nature while not giving offense to the people of
the other worlds filled my mind for some time, and did not allow me to
fret.
After the packing was done, though, I was free to ponder on which
of the many levels of the Great Game my Mother s acceptance of the
proposal was meant to be a gambit. I had exceedingly little information
on which to base my analysis, however, and soon abandoned it as a
fruitless inquiry, and elected to study Mars instead.
Mars was generally believed to be the third eldest of the Realms
-- even the most prideful nobles of the Kingdom were compelled to admit
that Venus was the eldest, by nearly half a millenium. Its ruler, Khakhan
Aten-Horus the Eternal, was noted as being the most warlike of the first
generation of godlings, and her power over the element of flame was
believed to be greater than any of the magi of legend.
She had had many dozens of children in the millenia since her
birth, but none of them had shown as much "talent" for immortality as she.
Her last child had been born almost fifteen years before, and was my
Guardian.
I requested an image of her from the royal archives, and was
startled to learn that only one existed. Our agents were usually much
more astute in documenting the lives of all those in line for royal honor
among the other realms. There were vast stacks of information about the
life of the princess of Mercury, for example ...
The terminal informed me that the image was ready for viewing, and
produced it for me.
My heart stopped.
<"Hurt her and I ll kill you.">
I did not know where the words that echoed through my brain came
from when I gazed at the picture of the Princess of Mars, but I *knew*
her. She had lived in my dreams for years. She *was* Cyndaelle, in that
image. Her leather garb ... her stained spear and hands ... her dusty
face. Everything about her screamed fatigue, but her eyes were bright and
calm and preternaturally ready.
And she and I had been born to meet one another.
* * *
There were, as it happened, far more reports on the Princess of
Mars -- she was never given a name in them, which I found odd -- than
there were images of her. They painted a simple picture: essentially
sent into exile from her mother s court, to study the secret ways and lore
of the Martian Hunters.
Cyndaelle had been much the same, according to legend. And
perhaps that was why my imagination filled in the details it did -- that
waiting for her in Gravitas, her mother s great fortress city, was a tower
of woven crystal -- exactly, in hindsight, like those of Millenias; that
though she was as harsh and unrelenting as a Martian storm in battle, in
times of peace she was as gentle as a caress of snow across one s cheek.
As the Princess of Silver, my private yacht, sped through the void
to Mars, every night was spent dreaming of her. She would be as welcoming
to me as Cyndaelle had been to each of her companions, and would gladly
come with me back to the Moon Kingdom ...
... and become caught up in the endless political machinations ...
... and lose the innocence of the wild ...
And that would not do at all.
* * *
At last, the Princess of Silver descended through the Martian
atmosphere to Gravitas. The Khan had been told of our coming well in
advance of our departure, of course, so the yacht was not challenged as
she came to ground.
The nearly two hour delay for the assembly of the honor guard of
troops to escort me to the palace verged on deliberate insult, however.
Still, it *was* possible that the excuse given -- that the militia had
been on what passed for maneuvers out in the desert -- was legitimate,
sufficiently possible to avoid being an insult.
I was escorted swiftly through the streets of Gravitas, with
scarcely enough time to observe anything of interest about the city --
beyond the carefully maintained and guarded fires on every rooftop, and
the general poverty of the Martians in comparison to the citizens of
Millenias. Even the Palace was of an order of magnitude less beautiful
than the Great Palace at home, though it was the most architecturally
advanced building I had yet seen on this planet.
The throne room of the Khan, intriguingly, was much larger than
the public court at home. This told me a great deal about Anhur Khan s
political strategy -- she defended herself by keeping her rivals at a
distance from her, even when they came to pay homage; while my mother
defended herself and kept the peace of the court by ensuring that those
who came to her court were too close to each other to risk harming her or
their other rivals without injuring themselves or potential allies.
My evaluation was rewarded when the guards who led me into the
throneroom stopped a good twenty-five paces from the throne where the Khan
lounged. Conscious of this, I proceeded to step forward an additional
five paces, fully expecting to see a reaction of fear or anger from the
ruler of Mars.
I was hideously disappointed. She did not react at all. At once,
I learned what my mother had meant about the lords of the other worlds not
playing the Great Game -- I could *not* read Anhur Khan at all. Her skin
could have been carved of dark bronze, her eyes fashioned from rubies, and
I would have been able to guess more about what she thought of my
presumption. And with this realization came a sudden rush of certainty
that she knew *exactly* what I was thinking.
It was that which saved me from panic. I drew in a deep breath,
and said, in a clear, carrying voice, "Serenity, Daughter of Serenity,
offers greetings to Aten Horus, Khakhan of Mars, and Host of the Fire."
Woven through every word was so much feigned confidence that it verged on
bravado.
"We graciously accept the greetings of the Crown Princess of the
Moon Kingdom, and welcome her within our home," she said, completing the
ritual. And *then* I understood why I could not percieve her subtext.
She had none.
She was fire, and fire only. An unreasoning, elemental force;
tamed but never mastered. If all the rulers of the Silver Millenium were
as she was, small wonder that my mother feared them; they could not be
controlled by words, but only by deeds.
"I was given to understand that you desired to ... speak with my
daughter, your Guardian?" she asked slowly.
"Yes. I do wish to do so," I replied calmly. Appearing decisive
would suffice for the moment, until it came time for me to actually *do*
something. And then I would have to do it, swiftly, without hesitation.
"She has been summoned, and will be here shortly. How long do you
anticipate that your visit will last?"
That *was* an attempt at concealing a meaning. "No more than a
week, at most. It is my mission to visit each of the Guardians in turn,
and were I to take much more than a season, my mother would become
concerned." I neatly avoided suggesting that Mars would be coming with me
when I departed, while assuring her that my presence would not be too much
of an irritant.
"Ah," she steamed.
I heard the doors to the throne room open behind me, yet did not
turn to look. "Great Khan, the Hunting Party you have summoned from the
wastes has arrived within Gravitas," a high-pitched male voice said.
"Good. Have the Bird of Fire brought here at once," Anhur said.
"It shall be done." The doors closed. The honor guard which had
accompanied me began to slowly move to the side of the great hall. For a
moment, I considered my options -- and then something about the way in
which Anhur Khan was gazing at me told me to move from my position.
Perhaps ten minutes later, the doors opened once more, and I saw
her for the first time. She looked exactly as she had in the image ...
hard, resilient, yet with vulnerability that I could see around her eyes.
I let out a brief sigh of relief as I realized that I *could* read her.
She knelt to one knee before her mother. "Rise," Anhur murmured,
and there was a faint smile on her face. "Daughter of Mars, one has come
to speak with you," she said calmly. "You will show her no less courtesy
than you would --"
I did not wish her to show me courtesy. I had had *enough* of
courtesy in the Moon Kingdom. I wished her to show me *herself*. So I
lifted my voice, made myself sound as childish as possible, and cried
"HIIIIII!".
Her head whipped round, and our eyes met. For a moment, her face
was filled with indignation and shock ... which faded quickly. Then she
was only staring at me. I wondered, momentarily, if it could be that she
had no idea who I was. Then, slowly, she spoke. "Your Highness. Welcome
to Mars."
I bowed, pleased. "The Princess of the Moon Kingdom," Anhur said
then, "has decided to pay a visit upon each of the seven Heirs, and on
Pluto. She has come to us first. We are honored beyond our ability to
express by her presence." If she was, her voice gave no indication of it.
I looked up to see that she had risen from her throne, and approached
Mars. "You, Daughter of Mars, shall be her guide to our world. You shall
watch over her, and protect her life as though it were as dear to you as
my own. Nay, dearer." She smiled then, menacingly.
I followed her as she slowly tromped out of the throne room.
"Where are we going, Lady Mars?" I asked politely.
"I am going to have a bath. It has been several weeks since my
last, and I feel the need for one." I quietly gasped at the idea of going
for weeks without a bath, then heard her say, "Do not call me Lady Mars.
That s not proper."
"What should I call you?" I asked, wondering why she did not stop
and face me when she spoke to me. As if to answer me, she *did* stop, and
I ran into her back. Fortunately, she did not comment on my clumsiness.
"Call me whatever you please," she finally said, "so long as it is
not Lady Mars."
"All right, Mars-chan," I replied.
She whirled around again, as she had in the throne room, her hair
streaming behind her. "Mars-chan?" she bit out.
" Chan is an Earther term implying affection for the one whose
name is thus modified," I informed her. I supposed that since she had
been studying the ways of war, she had not had time to study languages.
"Do you not understand that it is not right for you to call me by
the name of my planet?" she yelled.
I blinked. "But I was told at the school that all of my Guardians
had been named for the planet that they represented. Is this not so?"
"No! It is not so!" she yelled, her face terribly distorted in
anger.
I did not know what to think. "But ..." I stammered, "but I was
*told* that you were a princess like me, that you lived in a wonderful
crystal palace like --"
"Gods of Ice and Storm, you little twit, do you believe everything
you were told in whatever nursery school you were put into to fill you up
with propaganda?!" she roared, and continued to do so for at least another
minute. I was too shocked to hear her words, however.
It is vital to understand that one of the rules of the Great Game
is to never show anger. Even if one stands in the presence of one s
direst enemy in all the worlds, one should be friendly or cordial, at the
least. Anger, it is said, clouds the mind when it should be clearly
considering ways in which to bring about the ultimate destruction of the
one whom one hates.
Before that moment, I had never met anyone who clearly showed true
anger. I overreacted. "WAAAAAAAAAH! Mars-chan hates me!" I shrieked,
and fled aimlessly.
I regained my senses a few minutes later, at the bottom of a set
of stairs. Sniffing, I rose up to examine my surroundings. Before me
was a long corridor of evenly spaced doors. There was an oppressive sense
of quiet and ... and despair.
I saw a woman -- she could not have been much older than I was,
but her face was lined with cares -- dressed in a maid s gown, step out of
one of the rooms, and start walking down the corridor, away from me.
I realized, then blinked.
Judging from the spacing of the doors, each of the rooms was as
large as a privy, in the Millenias palace.
I swallowed, and began to climb the stairs. Two floors above, the
halls took on shapes that I recognized as those of the level on which the
throne room had been located. After some brief confusion, I found my way
to the doors of the throne room, and began to retrace my steps, hoping
against all odds that there were no turns in the path that Mars-chan --
no, the Honored Hunter, I decided to call her, following the examples in
the Cyndaelle stories -- had led me along.
I was fortunate in that the corridor passed beside the baths,
which were clearly marked with the ancient symbol. She was already
scrubbing at herself as I entered, and I could hear her muttering vague
oaths. I winced, then quietly undressed, and took a sponge in hand.
She let out a yelp as I began to clean her shoulders, and almost
whirled enough to take them out of my reach. "I apologize for my
immaturity, Honored Hunter of Mars. I was simply overwhelmed by the joy
that I felt on finally meeting one of those who are my sworn Defenders,
and I embarrassed you thereby."
"No, no!" she snapped. "I should apologize to you for causing
you embarrassment. The Moon Kingdom and Mars are not close, and so you
should not be expected to know of our ways ..."
That made no sense. Of course I knew her ways. Why would I not
have taken the time to learn the ways of those whom I would one day rule?
I covered my confusion with a smile as I pointed out, "We are not so
different. Both our peoples scrub before soaking ..."
She smiled back, then. I felt as I had when I was so much
younger, and I had seen the Earth rise into the sky. Even though I knew
that it happened with great frequency, I felt that this instance was
unique.
She scrubbed my back in turn, and we settled into the tub -- which
was, I must note, only *slightly* smaller than the one in the Palace at
home. It was very restful after the long journey. Water was at a premium
in the yacht, hot water moreso -- it was necessary to rely on instant
cleansing magic.
"Your Highness --" she suddenly asked.
"Serenity," I told her.
Even though I did not look at her face, I could tell that she was
frowning. "Your Highness, why --"
I closed my eyes began the score of my favorite interpretation of
the Cyndaelle ballads. I would have informality from her, or no talk at
all.
She made an exasperated noise. "Serenity," the Hunter asked at
last, "why did you come to Mars first?"
For a moment, I panicked again. Perhaps, I thought, only *some*
of the people of the other worlds play the great game. Then I calmed
myself. "What do you mean?" I asked.
"The Moon Kingdom is almost on the opposite side of the sun at
this moment, and you would be closer to Venus, for an easier and safer
trip." She seemed genuninely confused.
I could not tell her of my need to develop my resilenience to
gravity, so I gave her a half-truth -- one which I suspected was at the
true root of my mother s suggestion. "Oh! Well, it is largely because I
know Venus -- the Princess Venus, I mean -- very well already, for she was
very often at my mother s court when we were children." I began to
enlarge upon the story. "Such games we played together, and the scrapes
we got into ..."
From her reactions to my half-truth, I determined two things. The
first was that she was not so alligned to fire as her mother -- so as to
make her reactions somewhat easier to read -- and the second was that she
had never had a friend as close as Venus was to me. I found that very
sad.
After our bath, she led me through the halls to the room which had
been set aside for me. On stepping into it, I looked around and murmured,
"It s so small!" I was still not used to the differences in scale between
this palace and the one I had known for years.
"Small?" Mars asked, with an odd note in her voice.
I turned around to look at her, and nodded. "Much smaller than my
room back home," I informed her. It was, in fact, much smaller than the
suite given to Endymion, the smallest chamber used by anyone of rank.
She was almost glaring at me as she replied, "I hope that you will
not be inconvenienced by its small size."
"Oh no," I answered quickly, hoping to ameliorate her obvious
irritation. "This will be nice and cozy!"
She silently turned on her heel.
I could not identify what made me ask the question. "Honored
Hunter ... should I have need of you, where will you be?"
She turned to face me, with an odd expression. "My chambers are
located two floors beneath this one. They are the third door on the right
from the nearest stairwell leading to that floor."
I nodded, glad to know where I could reach her if I became
frightened in the night. "Thank you. Good night, Honored Hunter. Sleep
lightly," I said, giving her the farewell that Brisantine had given
Cyndaelle before the final battle.
She was gone before I realized that the location she had described
was in the place I had visited earlier. The servant s quarters. The
place of despair.
I did not know what to make of that. I activated the lock -- it
was of the sort that would require a touch of my hand to open, rather than
the more modern voice-driven ones. And then I went to bed. Sleep came
easily, and dreams of the Hunter as Cyndaelle.
Early in the morning, I awoke to sense a presence outside the
door. At once, I recognized it as Anhur Khan s aura. Perhaps she was too
elemental to even attempt to hide it. Or perhaps she did not wish to do
so, wishing instead to remind me that she could seize and destroy me at
will.
I could not return to sleep, even after the aura moved away from
my door. Finally, after daybreak, I opened the door to see that Mars-chan
was lying outside of it, greatly uncomfortable from the look of her. She
muttered a quick good morning to me.
"Why didn t you knock?" I asked, bewhilderedly.
"That is not how things are done on Mars," she snapped at me.
"Oh," I replied. "Uh ... well, in the future, please feel free to
enter my room."
That was to be the routine which we followed for the next several
days. She guided me on a tour of the palace, and then of the city beyond.
Very often I remarked on certain things which seemed rather illogical or
pointless, and offered suggestions on how to improve them, only to be told
that the way that things were done on Mars was the way that they were
done -- in essence, that my suggestions were not welcome.
I grew increasingly frustrated -- not only was I learning nothing
of importance about Mars, the Honored Hunter was keeping up her reserve as
well. Despite everything, I did not think she felt the bond to me that I
felt to her. It made me want to scream.
It was only the sixth day that she asked me if I were bored. I
almost retorted that I was rather infuriated, but instead appeared to
agree with her. "You have shown me much of this wonderful palace, and
this marvelous city, but I would wish to see the rest of the planet, as
well!"
"That would be dangerous," she answered quickly. "Very few
Martians travel the wastes, for fear of the worms."
"The worms?" I asked. I knew the stories, of course. "But,
surely, if they were so much of a problem, they would be for the cities as
well -- for they can fly, can t they? They could --"
"Of course not!" she snapped. "They can no more fly than they can
talk. Nor do they breathe fire ..."
I had known that last. Fire is humanity s tool; it does not
belong to beasts.
She went on to describe the way in which the worms were hunted
from the air, in order to make the foods that played such a central role
in the Martian diet. "Hunters, naturally, still practice the traditional
ways," she stated. "When summoned to the palace, a week ago, I was
camping in a cave where I had slain a worm --"
I seized on it. "You did? Oh, I would see that place!"
"But --"
"It would not be dangerous. You and your sisters would not have
camped in a cave which was not safe, correct?" I smiled winsomely.
Moments later, we were in the ornithopter, high above the frozen
plains of Mars. The Honored Hunter seemed almost bewhildered as to how
she had come to this.
She showed me the cave, and told the story of how she had fought
and defeated the worm, pinning its body to the rock with her spear. I
could see the places on the walls where the acid had dropped from the
creature s throat as it engaged in its dying convusions.
As she recounted the story of the kill, I became more and more
disconcerted. The account was not what I had expected it to be -- a noble
battle between woman and worm. There had been no glowing treasure to be
won, no helpless prince to protect -- just a simple killing of a helpless
animal.
"But why did you kill it?"
"For the meat," she replied, staring at me with an odd expression
"Did you not carry provisions with you?" I wanted to know.
"Well, yes, but --"
"Then why?" Words could not express how frustrated I felt. For
an entire week I had put up with all manner of simple stupidity masking
* Message split, to be continued *

: Dimas 2:5020/400 19 p 98 00:21
: All p 21 p 98 13:37
:

From: "Dimas"
.
.?
. . .127 .
               1999? And what display will stop on time? Now goes 120.
After episode 127 they will start from episode 1 again.
--
Skyhawk
Mnchner MoonieCon Organisatorteam
--
^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^
Dimas.
E-mail: WWW Dimas13&SailorMoon In Russia
dimas13@cityline.ru http://www.user.cityline.ru/~dimas13/
ICQ 7655836
^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v
^

: Anton A. Yevtiushkin 2:5020/400 19 p 98 17:38
: All p 21 p 98 13:37
: Re: p yp p

From: "Anton A. Yevtiushkin"
Reply-To: idcvamp@cityline.ru
              
!
               MR               ... ... ;( ;)
!!! :))))
,
.

: Anton A. Yevtiushkin 2:5020/400 19 p 98 17:40
: All p 21 p 98 13:37
: Re: Battle Arena Toshinden

From: "Anton A. Yevtiushkin"
Reply-To: idcvamp@cityline.ru
!
:
[ ]
               What the...?!
               , y, py p?
               y p p y ...
, .
, .


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