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Messages - Baron

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Wow!  He's like some kinda ...Ponch-whisperer! 8-0  You can sling that sultry slang all over me like a roadkill on pavement, pardner. :=

I'm a bit out of it from building deck stairs and the ground underneath (using topsoil)

This sounds like my deck-stair building experience, where I was too cheap to buy the larger stringers and had to build the ground up to meet the bottom step.... (roll)

Done.  The deadline is now late night Sunday, Texas time.

My cinematic research indicates that "sundown" or "high moon" would be more proper terms in the Texan colloquial. :)

Will there be betrayal by the deadline or betrayal by the deadline?   Poor Ponch has painted himself into quite the corner this time. ;)

Gah!  Now AGA will know we're coming.... :P

The Gnawing Worm of Treachery

   Decimus sat sweating on the wooden bench of the rickety waiting shed.  He stared at his long-time bond-brother, Fabius, who sat across from him.  They sat so close in the tight confines of the waiting shed that their knees were staggered like the cogs of two wheels.  The gaps between the planks of the shed walls admitted little fresh air to relieve the musty heat, but the sound of mortal combat in the arena beyond passed through with little difficulty.  The crowd cheered as steel rang on steel, but neither man broke the other's gaze.  Theirs was the very next match.

   Decimus was reluctant to reveal his anxiety by breaking the silence first, but he wanted to gauge Fabius' reaction to his worries.  “Let's go over the plan again,” he said casually, hoping to convey a sense of respectful camaraderie with a hint of healthy paranoia.  If Fabius replied too quickly or curtly, or if he tried to sooth excessively, Decimus would know that he did not command the other man's respect.  If there was no respect between brothers of the sword then betrayal was inevitable, and he would have to plan accordingly.

   But Fabius did not reply immediately.  If anything he seemed to be measuring Decimus' character with his eyes just as Decimus was measuring him.  “Belgian Wine Trot to start, followed by Dacian Salutes, then a Greasy Syrian melee,” he said calmly.  “I lose my blade, but dive to recover.  Then a quick Spartan Dance, you pull a Dirty Phoenician, fade to Iberian Whore Tumble.  You cut my left arm lightly, then ham it up with the crowd.  I rejoin with Suevian Nipples followed by Arabian Moustaches.  Finally a climactic Britannic Hand Job, after which you fall sensationally beneath my blade and we get you off on mercy.  We both walk relatively unscathed out of the arena and are drinking wine back in the barracks in half-an-hour.”

   Decimus didn't blink, and neither did Fabius.  They'd fought each other once before, and had pulled off a convincing draw.  But that time the plan had involved Fabius falling beneath Decimus' blade before the mercy-call.  Decimus was less comfortable with reversing the roles, but to admit as much would be to show a lack of trust.  And a match-fix without trust was nothing more than a backstabbing race.

   “I think we should throw in some Moaning Ephesians,” Decimus offered with what he hoped seemed like genuine cheerfulness.  “It'd look better if I get more blows in.”  The idea was to make the whole match look like an implausible upset, getting the crowd to empathize with the stronger gladiator who appeared to lose only due to a horrible turn of bad luck at the very end.

   “Samitus and Pollox are doing Moaning Ephesians right now,” Fabius countered.  “How plausible would that be two matches in a row?”  Indeed, the sound of impassioned grunts drifted freely through the wall slats of the waiting shed, to the delight of the mob in the seats above.

   “Alright then, Shaved Egyptian Cats,” Decimus offered.

   “We did that last time,” Fabius reminded him.

   “Gaullish Tongues, then,” Decimus said with just a hint of exasperation.

   “Before a Britannic Hand Job?” Fabius retorted in a sceptical tone.  “No one will believe that.”

   There was a sudden bang against the slats as Samitus slammed Pollux against the outside wall, initiating a new bout of fevered grunts and moaning as they grappled with each other in close quarters like Turkish wrestlers.  The crowd loved it.  Fabius casually pulled at the slat that the two fighters had broken in their passionate charade, easily removing it for a better view of the action.

   Fabius clearly wasn't interested in changing the plan, that much was clear to Decimus.  But what did Fabius have to lose by giving his opponent more lustre in the spotlight?  It seemed a lot like he was just conceding the minimum to make a draw seem plausible, while secretly hoping that the crowd turned nasty and showed no mercy in the end.  Decimus raked his memory for motives.  Could it be that he didn't want to share the meagre 200 denari purse?  Or was he interested in the new scullion boy who had recently hooked up with Decimus?  Or maybe it was some slight or grudge that was so trivial that Decimus wouldn't even be able to recall it?  It was even just possible that Fabius was  getting a little nervy and starting to doubt whether or not he could truly trust his opponent....

   “Fine,” Decimus said at length.  “We'll do it your way.  I trust you completely.”  Decimus began plotting the preemptive murder of his bond-brother immediately.

   Fabius nodded a salute.  “As do I you, my bond-brother.” 

   Jove's Swollen Gonads!  Fabius was clearly plotting Decimus' murder too!  But when?  He would want to make it look like an accident, to avoid complications back at the barracks.  Probably towards the end of the fight, during the more complicated manoeuvres of Iberian Whore Tumble or Arabian Moustaches.  Men can easily lose their balance on the bloody sands, blades slip, stuff happens.  There might be a sideways glance between chums over the wine amphora tonight, but everyone would soon shrug it off as happenstance and move on; he'd done it dozens of times himself.

   So he would have to strike first, probably during his Dirty Phoenician bit.  It would be a tad early in the fight, earning him arched eyebrows instead of just sideways glances, but a day or two of suspicion and he'd be back in the good graces of his brother gladiators again.  He smiled broadly at Fabius. 

   Fabius smiled back.  Shit, shit, shit!  He knew that Decimus would calculate that a strike during the Dirty Phoenician sequence would be his best bet.  That's why he was probably planning on a little mishap during the Spartan Dance!  Decimus wiped the sweat from his brow, noting that Samitus and Pollox were building to their climax out on the sands.  There would be whispers and rumours for a month or two, but if he cut Fabius open during the frenzied Greasy Syrian melee he would eventually recover his standing amongst his brothers.

   “Ready?” he asked as the crowd roared their approval of the two previous showmen.

   “Of course I'm ready.”

   Shit!  Of course he's ready!  He knew all along that Decimus would be forced to make his move during the Greasy Syrian melee, and so he would have planned to strike sooner!  Probably during the Dacian Salutes....  Now Decimus was painted into a corner.  He'd have to strike right off the bat during the Belgian Wine Trot.  He'd be socially ostracized back at the barracks, but at least he'd still be breathing.  So be it.

   Samitus and Pollux walked past the slatted waiting shed toward the arena exit arm in arm, waving to the adoring crowd.  Now was the moment of truth.  Decimus drew a long breath and psyched himself up for what he had to do.  “Good luck, my friend,” he said kindly to the man sitting across from him.

   In a heartbeat Fabius stabbed him in his sword-wielding shoulder with a wooden shank that had splintered from the broken wall slat.  Of course! Decimus thought, kicking himself inwardly....

Well, BBCode is fine and dandy when you know it - and I do know those I use more often and usually type them in the text beforehand anyway - but when you need one you don't know off the top of your head, it's inconvinient.  :-\

Yeah, me too.  Years back I got tired of always having to convert fonts in my stories when I cut & paste from my word processor to the comp thread.  Since then I've just typed the codes directly into the text to save time.

So I guess there's nothing for it but to storm the throne room.  Who's with us?  I think it's AGA that's hiding behind the curtain these days.  Unlike Celtic warriors of old who charged into battle bravely in the nude, he's always struck me as a sensibly clothed individual, which should work to our advantage.  We'll take him by surprise, and then play on his computer and rustle his papers until our demands for snacks & attention forum modifications are met. ;)

Who needs rich font buttons when we've got BBCode 4evar!!!1! :-D

Would BACKSTABBING good taste really be so bad this time around?  ;)

Be careful, Frodo!  Remember the value of free advice.  He might just be leading you down the garden path and then -BACKSTABBING!!!1!

Trust your own instincts.  It sometimes works for me! :=

I have to admire Mandle's incremental dedication to this competition.  For me, the theme feels quite appropriate for the Friday night deadline. (roll)

Briefly!?!  You guys were in a dead-heat for 5 straight days.  I don't think we've seen that kind of parity since Diath v. Anian back in 2011, by gar! ;)

Congratulations kconan!

It's been ten days.  I hereby call upon Blondbraid to declare a wiener.

Best Writing: kconan for well-penned fight scenes. ;-D
Best Character: Mandle for a thoroughly despicable main character. :=
Best Story: Sinitrena, for the twist at the end.  I mean, I know the title implied that Hallgard's husband wouldn't make it, but right up till the end I was pretty sure it was Bjorn who was going to man-up and take the hit for the team. :undecided:

Dark Age Doings

   Hraþaz Soft-Axe lolled lazily in the willow coracle as it floated amid the long grasses, a fishing line tied to his remaining big toe and a flask of mead in his two-finger hand.  He absently swatted at a fly with his eponymous axe, renting another great tear in the flesh of his scalp, causing him to wince momentarily before settling back to the important business of lazing the day away.

   The hours dripped by like blood from a non-lethal wound.  The late September sun bathed the land in the deep vivid colours that heralded a harsher season on the way, but Hraþaz was not known for his forward thinking.  Long forgotten were the trials of winters-past, of surviving on tree bark and squirrel droppings.  It was just possible that Àbjorn Greed-Drool would need a human pin-cushion of his calibre to front his winter reindeer raids, but even this happy scenario eluded Hraþaz's simplistic mind.  He lived wholly in the now, leaving the heavy mind work to the likes of Bjarnvarðr Bore-Words or Fastaðr Split-Face.  If a problem couldn't be solved with a crushing blow of his axe, it was too difficult by half for him to grapple with.

   Which is how, in the dancing shadows of the later afternoon, that Hraþaz came to face his ultimate opponent.  Perhaps if he'd been more awake, or more sober, he might have realized the futility of the fight.  Perhaps if he'd more than one eye he would have gained more perspective on the situation.  Perhaps.  But perhaps it was inevitable that a man of Hraþaz's violent ignorance would one day pick a fight that even his brute grit could not overcome. 

   It began with Hraþaz's coracle running aground, a fell shadow falling over him and a cool breeze gusting up.  Hraþaz sat up, blinking in a confused and somewhat murderous state, finding a wooden man dancing in a brown cloak above him.  The man was hard to make out, as the sun was now low and behind him, but the knobbly angle of his branchy head seemed to imply some sort of joke at Hraþaz's expense.  At any rate, the gaiety of his dance and the otherworldliness of his body meant only one thing to to Hraþaz: he must be smote!

   And so Hraþaz balanced himself with both feet on either side of his coracle and swung his blunt axe in a mighty arc towards the offending stranger.  But through some jape of the light the wooden man eluded the blow, dancing merrily on as Hraþaz's axe smashed the water in frustration.  Twice more Hraþaz swung to smite, and twice more his axe feasted on nought but air and water.  Now quite unbalanced (for he was missing even the inner components of his left ear), Hraþaz fell forward to grapple with the wooden man by hand.  It was a fearsome spectacle, the veteran warrior screaming and flailing, the wooden man dancing wildly over the surface of the water.  Hraþaz managed to get in a few good blows, but the stranger stabbed him viciously with the sharpened points of some unseen armour beneath his garb.  Blood and sap flowed gloriously in a battle worthy of the heroes of the great sagas.

   Then at last Hraþaz was spent, impaled one too many times upon the sharp points of the broken undergrowth.  He fell back into his coracle, floating off into the sunset gateway to the halls of Valhalla.  There was a brief peace as the wooden man saluted his worthy opponent. 

   And then Bjarnvarðr Bore-Words returned from his cranberry gathering to gather his cloak from the tree.  Finding the garment now pierced and blooded, he looked about pensively and scratched his great grey beard.  Shrugging meekly at the unknowable mysteries of life, he carefully folded the cloak around a few small stones and sank it in the bog as an offering to the norns that weave the twisted fate of all men.

Dang it!  I've been away for Easter.  I can pull something together in a day or two if you are extending the deadline for Ponch.  I look forward to reading about how his caveman assembled his Smeärbarf out of mammoth tusks and a stone allen key. (roll)


It was the wicker dragon druid butler what done it!   ;-D

Dude! So nice of you to volunteer like that for the trophy making!

Can't wait to see what you come up with! :P :P :P


You realize you made me do this, right?  ;)

Congratulations Blondbraid!

Thanks to all for a great round and sorry for not being as attentive a host as I should have been.

I'm sure the forthcoming trophies will make up for any perceived inattentiveness among the rank & file.  I for one look forward to quarrelling with Ponch through expensive lawyers over joint-custody arrangements for our bronze beauty.  ;-D

Special mention to Baron's aptly named planet "Douchbag 3", that literally made me laugh out loud.

Where's that Best Setting category when I need it?  ;-D

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