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These are the stories that people have sent into Story Night. It would be greatly appreciated if you do NOT comment, insult, or otherwise say anything in this thread regarding the stories. Consider this as like a show case of sorts. Please and thank you.

I will be tacking on the stories from each SN in a new reply.

[b]Session 11/13/10[/b]

Amoran K Kol’s Submission (Untitled):

There was silence in that place, where we huddled before a small lantern, frightened by the coming darkness. So very frightened were we as the forest around us grew cold and began to die.

To the sky our eyes went, and we saw, past the finger-like limbs of leaf stripped trees, the darkness overhead. This darkness - like a great tapestry stretched across a massive ceiling, with twinkling diamonds sewn into it's gauzy fabric, stretched for miles. In the center of this tapestry sat a sadened face, a vibrant glowing light that lingered amongst a wide arc of dimly lit fog.

A comfort it was, to us who sat amidst the shadows and creaking forest, to see a face so familiar yet so terribly sad. This terrible light held still above us, above this still frosty silence that fell heavy between the tree trunks... it was the beginning of something.

We sat in this stripped grove of trees for what seemed an eternity, the forest whined and moaned of the coming winter, and we listened to its voice and thought silently to ourselves.
The veil was thinning before our very eyes, and not a sound from us could disturb its course. It was destined, each year during this time, to grow weaker. To allow those who bear no flesh, who walk in chaotic difference before an empty world to simply wander home.

As the veil grew thinner, the air became weighted and we listened while the moon embraced us with her light.
The song began, the whispering wind drawn to a harsh howl, the trees groaned their bruised state of comfort aloud, the animals hidden in the brush sang their fear to the passing wind, crickets screeched in hollow trees- giving warning...and just as the song had started, the world fell silent once more.

We remained in that place until our lantern's light flickered to smoke, happy to think upon those who had passed. Happy to have helped guide them home through the endless night with our prayers and wishes. Simply happy to have witnessed such a special thing.

Awiiya’s Story Submission:
"Song for Canaries"

The daily routine was simple. In the morning they awoke to the quiet noise of the birds outside their window, mockingbirds that would alternate their harmonies and patterns: first belting out long and low notes and then chirping and prancing in the upper regions of their vocal register. He slept facing right, she slept facing left, their backs resting about a foot apart, enough distance to feel close but not claustrophobic, though that line sometimes blurred and she would find herself awake all night, wishing that she didn't feel his warmth, didn't feel the cushion rise and fall as he heaved in deep draughts of air, intoxicated with sleep and rest. Always there was the subtle ticking of the clock that rested on her bedside table, keeping time and reality in order. It was an anchor, and when she could not sleep, she would write melodies in her head to the steady beat of seconds. They slept for long periods of time and their dreams were filled with apparitions that sometimes shocked, sometimes fascinated.

One dream in particular haunted her: she would stand in the middle of a pure white room, so white that only by reaching out and feeling could she find the walls and floors. She would run one hand along the wall, trying to uncover a hidden door, to no avail. As she continued to walk in squares around the room, the walls would advance, slowly so that she would make many revolutions before realizing that she could now barely take a few steps before finding a corner. An acute sense of panic would begin to overwhelm her as the walls made their persistent advance and waves of nausea in the sea of white took hold. The unstable situation would grow worse until she was swallowed whole by the world, compressed until she was nothing but a singular dot, small, like a speck of dust floating by.

After this dream visited her, she would open her eyes wide to find the whiteness replaced with a dark room, and her husband's small movements brought her slowly back to the reality of the moment, his ribs blowing up and then out and then the ticking of the clock cycled. For some reason, his breath unsettled her, when it should have been a comforting presence. It was almost as if the whiteness had jumped from her dream to his lungs, and it was now suffocating rather than squashing. The whole room shook with a death rattle, cracking like whips and groaning like bulls.

Always he rose before her, and if at any time she fell out of sleep before him, she would lie in bed with her eyes closed, pretending that she was sleep, letting her arms hang loosely like a child's toy thing.

While rubbing dishes vigorously, she paused and the thought that he knew occurred to her. It was a constant worry: how much did he know about what she did when she thought he wasn't paying attention? How much deceit could she get away with? She had day-fantasies where she imagined that the night before while asleep she had told him the intricate secrets that she took so much care to hide. No person should ever know everything about another, that was her thought. She held her secrets like a necklace of gems hidden beneath her clothes, treating each one as a tissue-paper barrier between freedom and slavery. Secrets: the only thing that set her free. If he knew… it was best not to think about it, she told herself, and continued doing the morning dishes.

The daily ritual continued with breakfast. Simple meals, as she was not accustomed to making anything more than what could be done in ten minutes. A cracked egg on a hot stove, or a bowl of oats and milk. He ate it in silence, and although they had not spoken once since waking, she did not feel any need to break the silence along with the fast. Sometimes he would advance: "The eggs were good this morning. Were they new?"




"Okay. It is good that they taste good, even though they are not new."

"Yes. I try hard."

"I know, and I appreciate it. You are a good woman."

Her face reddened, but his back was turned. "You are a good man." Nearly a whisper, and it would have been lost in anything but utter quiet.

"Then we're good people. Pleasant."

She nodded in approval, and he continued forking the yellow blobs. They dodged and pranced around his prongs, jiggling and teasing, more cheerful than anything else in the house, but there was a strange artificiality about them, the wife thought, almost like they had been magicked into existence rather than born from the back end of a chicken. Almost as if he were eating rubber and it would bounce and shake in his stomach.

He went off to work soon after breakfast, kissing her lightly on the cheek and saying, "You're pretty. Stay the same." Why did he never ask what she did during the day? It was almost as if he didn't care, that he imagined she sat absolutely still in a chair somewhere, frozen in time until he arrived home and woke her from her stony slumber.

"I always do" was her customary response. She smiled with a rosy face as she waved goodbye, like a china doll with floppy arms and legs.

She'd had such a doll as a child. Her mother had taken it away when it was darkened with living with a girl who often let it sit in the mud and dirt. She had cried for the entire afternoon, and the mother who at first had thought it would be good for her to not use toys for companions had caved in and bought a new toy. It was white and new, with a shining face that had bright red lips and blue eyes. She had taken one look at it and shaken her head, "It's not dirty. I want mine." She had known the difference. Her doll had been chipped and worn, she had not to be fooled. The defeated mother had taken back the doll and put it on a shelf in her closet, where it sat and gathered dust. A year later, when it had sufficiently been dirtied by time, the mother had the idea to give the doll back. The mother knew it was a year late, and though the girl had stopped crying, she suspected that perhaps she still wanted it.

The girl had taken it with a look of confusion and put it on yet another shelf, this time in her own room. She had thought it was ugly, and now that she attended school, felt herself too old, too mature to sleep with it. One day she came home and found the doll in the middle of the floor, as if the doll had gotten off the shelf and ended its own life. There had been a crack in the middle of the porcelain face, straight through the left eye, and the effect had been overpoweringly depressing. That day she threw the doll away for good, and though she hadn't thought of it in years, she might have gasped at the resemblance to her lost token of youth if she could have seen herself standing there.

She would stop waving and turn around after the husband was gone, she would finish cleaning up the house and doing chores, things she told him took all day, but in truth if she hurried she could get them done within a few hours of his departure. As she brushed the dust off his past awards and trophies, the bronze glinted at her. Someday she would take them and bury them in the back, and when he came home and asked her where they went, she would inch her eyebrows close above her eyes and look worried and sympathetic. What what? What do you mean? How could this happen! I cleaned them this morning. How how. All the time she would be gleefully smiling inside, her hands still tingling from the sensation of digging in the earth. She would put her hands into her apron to hide her fingernails still caked with mud and grass. A muddy rebellion.

In the midday her true day would start. She walked upstairs, to the attic, pulling on a light yellow cord that hung down, and a ladder would materialize in front of her. It was like ascending into an alien spacecraft, and at times she imagined that she was being abducted and would never come back.

The attic was dust, full of it, and whenever she placed her hand down, it was black when she lifted it back up. There were such clouds when she walked around that often she would spend minutes sneezing and coughing, until her eyes watered and tears streamed down her face and soaked into her shirt. A wet patch just beneath the neck.

Despite the awful state of the attic, she never cleaned it, and vowed never to bring any of her cleaning tools up. The husband barely even thought about that pale yellow string that connected her to another world anyway. Such things tended to escape his notice. Or did they? No, she was quite sure they did.

Up here she worked on her project, and sitting amid the dusty planks, there was a great heap of fabric, multicolored and gaudy. She called it The Monstrosity, because when she walked to it from the top of the ladder her steps made long and sleepy groans that seemed to originate within the very mass of colors and material, and the resemblance to a great mythical beast was so great that every afternoon she brought a piece of bread to leave behind when she descended the ladder. It was a silly ritual, but as the years went, it was one which began to hold an increasing prominence. What started as bread soon became a full course meal which she presented to it after she had completed her work, taking the uneaten meal from the preceding day back done the ladder, holding the tray with one hand while she steadied herself on the rungs with the other. Sometimes she had a great desire to pray to it, but when once she had started to mutter a word or two she felt exceedingly ridiculous, and the religion was discarded.

With her great spools of thread and the old pieces of fabric she retrieved from dumpsters on occasional afternoon trips, she mixed and matched, each thread a thought, each patch a piece of imagination. The project had begun one afternoon when the husband had an old shirt that he wanted to throw away. He had held it up, the green blob hanging limp from a tight hand, and asked her to do something with it. Throw it away if she couldn't.

She had found a pair of scissors and cut it into squares, discarding the frayed edges that could not be reused. She had looked at the four of five squares, and remembered her mother, sewing softly in a chair next to a warm fire. She had made quilts for the girls when their beds were not warm enough. She thought to do the same, though she had never gotten pregnant, not that she and husband hadn't tried. Her collection grew as the husband wore out his attire. A tear in the elbow would soon ensure an addition to the collection. If not for children, though, what was the purpose?

"Things without purpose are the things most worth keeping. All that we leave behind is that which we did for pleasure. Who ever remembers what our ancestors ate daily? No, we remember the art, the things that made us crack smiles, the things that made our sides heave with laughter and joy. Haha!"

She surprised herself with these statements, coming as sudden strokes of inspiration, and though they seemed at first uncontrovertibly true, as the day went on their initial sheen wore off, until they were so rusty that she shrugged them off and left them balled up in the spider webs in the attic. A thousand truths and beliefs she left behind, never to be rediscovered by the entrepreneurial adventurer.

She made her way through the oceans of dress that she had pieced together, sometimes giving up the needle and thread to simply lie in it, floating on her back in a sea of texture.

Lying there until he came home, until she saw him walking up to the house out the one window at the end of the attic, and she would have to rush down the ladder, pretending everything was quite common and in order, trying to cough out the dust before he smelled it on her breath.

Days went, days came, days went. And the white walls creeped, and the great beast slumbered. Not to be wakened. Not to be poked and prodded, but only be submissive, though there was a cracking energy working beneath the facade.

On a day when things seemed to be moving in line with life, she woke up and knew. This was it. She pretended that she did know, just like she pretended to be sleeping, and the morning was an exercise in patience. She accepted his kiss and waved cheerfully when he left, but as soon as he was out of sight, her eyes lit up and her face dropped.

She walked quickly to the bathroom, and deliberately removed each article of clothing as she put it on that morning, with slow and precise motions made mechanic by years of ritual. Once naked, she stood in front of the mirror and her eyes traced her curves, looking at her body in ways that she never felt confident. Her husband had never commented on her physical features. The only thing he said was that she was pleasant, good, or nice. Adjectives of necessity. Their acts of love, though rare, were marred by shyness and uncomfortable moments, she acting the martyr and he the reluctant god.

She had scars, everywhere she looked she found imperfections. Freckles and moles, dark hairs, layers of fat. She frowned deeply, and even her frown she found offensive. Finally, after valuing each part of her body, she returned her own judging stare, only to find one more scar that she had never noticed: a white line that started just beneath her eyebrow and went down through her left eye, like a crack in porcelain. Instinctively, she reached her hand up to feel the raw skin, but upon the arrival of her hand, the skin had reverted to its normal coloring.

The air hung heavy, like great piles of blankets. Her nakedness was now shivery and uncomfortable, and she hurried along to the next step in her already planned attack on the shackles that had covered her body for so long, still present even in the most naked of states.

Downstairs she retrieved the canister of oil, marked with the large image of a flame. Her husband never told her what it was, but she not stupid.

She took a box of matches and the canister upstairs, climbed up the ladder with one hand lugging the oil, the other steady on the rungs.

Once upstairs she set aside her tools. She walked up to the monstrosity, turned around, and fell backwards onto it. She lay there, and then let her eyes drift closed, and then she was floating on her back in the sea of colors, lines, and squares. She started to kick her legs lazily and move her arms in windmill strokes, smiling serenely to herself. It was good to float in the sea on a nice calm day.

She got up once she was done, and retrieved the canister and the matches. Unscrewing the cap, she started to fling the liquid over the heap of hard work. Once it was soaked, she started a trail towards the ladder while walking backwards. At the top of the ladder she threw the bottle to the ground, and saw for the last time a puff of dust rise slow in the afternoon light.

The match she lit dropped quickly but did not flicker, and its minuscule spark soon turned into a roaring beast of hot flames. She kept her serene smile as she climbed back down the stairs. The heat came at her, the beast awoken, a thousand crackling noises marking its ascent into heaven.

Conflagration emancipation. Conflagration emancipation.

Zelath’s Story Submission:
"The farmer who looked up
- observations from the countrey side"

The farmer stood outside his cottage, careing for his garden. Uprooting weeds, planting seeds. Making the plants grow to his taste and liking. Desciding what to be where, what to live, what to eat, what to die – he created his own garden. Suddenly he looked up into the apple blossoms, and see - there flying was a bumblebee, Desciding what blossom rape to drink, what pollen to bring. Flying with confidence it was in control of its own garden. A garden flourishing with the caretaking of a farmer, like the blooming apple and a bee.

The farmer shovled manure, moving the dunghill.. With shit up to his knee – He looked up - and never felt as clean.

The farmer stood on the hilltop, watching the beauty of his home. There the creek with such life and pride, over there the tree streching lazely reaching for the sun, right here the tall grass buzzing with strife, a bird flying low in splendid grace , the young sprout racing with its brother. The sky so blue, a white cloud shaped as only a cloud could be. So plenty beauty to see all around, the great and the small, see it here see it there, close and far. The farmer sat down exhuasted by reaching for beauty within his grasp and control. He felt his heart shine and looked up focusing inwards - and saw it all.

The farmer met his old neighbour lady, she talked and spoke bout the miller daughter, the meyors next mistake and what young ones gonna fall in love – and right she was. But the lone look in her wise eyes gave her away – she knew of the world through others. He looked up into the sun and knew himself – he wasnt lone, never alone.

The farmer swept his floor as so many nights before. He looked up wondering Why am i doing this at all? Me dead mother thought me so, most people do, and im expected to - but i like to have a clean floor.

Curiose's Poem Submission (Untitled):

Hello again
you're at my door,
and I can't find a
word to say.
So fleeting, so
miserable; I'm lost
within your glare.
So hello again,
my dear old friend,
everlasting companion.
It's me again,
I'm back for more.
It's sad that the
day has come today,
to bring you the news of woe;
to say the one you loved died of frost
No, please, don't give me that stare.
Hello, it's me again,
I've come to say: this is the end.
You're the one I must abandon.
I'm sorry,
your words intrude
and I can't find why
they sting.
Disappearing, flaunting,
malicious; I'm clouded
inside your heart.
Oh, yes, I'm sorry,
my sweet loved one,
sweetest darling dear.
I'm sorry,
that my words be so prude,
so base, they almost lie;
So let me ring;
this death is daunting,
and for that, 'come shrouded
from fear at the start.
Yes, I'm sorry,
but no more, I'm done.
My eyes are now clear.

Rumi's story submission, told extemporaneously:

Two boys were walking together through the forest
The boys were the same age, one larger and athletic, the other smaller
They had a certain comradery, yet they were young and foolish as boys can be
The smaller boy was telling the larger boy about a book about frogs he had found in a small room in his grandmother's house that piqued his interest
The larger boy was not interested in frogs and his mind wandered
They were far from town now and very much alone in the forest
On a whim, the larger boy stopped in his tracks and pushed the smaller boy up against a tree
The small boy was surprized and did not know how to react. He cowered away from the large boy who continued to approach him
The larger boy punched him in the chest and knocked the wind out from him
The larger boy felt a great surge of adrenaline as he began to more and more vigorously pound his friend
He held no grudge against the boy, yet had never experienced the power in his body, and the power he felt over the other boy
He kicked and beat the smaller boy, while the small boy lay on the ground with his arms protecting his head, coughing and howling with every blow he received
The larger boy continued to knock the smaller boy around until the novelty wore off and then he simply stopped
He leaned up against a tree, and spoke to the smaller boy.
C'mon, get up. Lets keep walking.
The smaller boy continued to lay on the ground. Realizing his beating was finished he began to cry
He had trusted the other boy to act as honorably as any other person, but he was most hurt by his own inability to defend himself
He thought about how if he were the larger boy, then he would be the one feeling power
He cried for minutes until he got up the courage to say something.
"Why?" he asked.
Why did you beat me?
He hung his head and the larger boy could see the tears falling from his face to the ground and soaking into the soil
Because you are smaller than me and you are all alone.
I beat you because I have the power to do so.
C'mon get up. Lets keep walking.
The small boy was about to stand and he realized he had power too.
He stood up, turned the other way, and began to walk home, crying.
"What a baby!" thought the larger boy, and continued to walk on by himself.
The small boy cried until he came home. His mother saw him and didn't ask where his bruises came from.
She brought him a bowl of soup and a spoon and sat by him while he ate.
The larger boy happened to come across a bear.

Poem by Atrumist

Writing is work
same as the other
maybe not so exciting
as they - the other
maybe it leads nowhere
it knows only to change (you).
So in that manner I’m finishing
my permanent time
that which is freedom
before dawn
and I'm asking you
on behalf of Reading
on behalf of Nothingness
of words in poetry
do not take this -
poets do not learn from poets
unless they are bad
in what they work.

Poem by Malaikat Maut, read by Peace

It would my deepest sorrows all amend,
could I with you this Winter’s Ball attend.
To daint adorn your wrist as if a charm,
and wear you soft as silk upon my arm.
And as the music played its simple drone,
we’d scarcely hear, so captive to our own.
With hands entwined as lace and hearts unfurled,
we’d move in stately grace before the world.
Surrounded by the stars, each to attest,
they’d stand in awe of our connectedness.
And as the planets moved unto their end
we’d courtly smile and share the dance again

[b]Session 1/22/11[/b]

-The Colours of the Birds~ By Maebius' Son.
Once upon a time, tall the birds of the world were grey and colourless, content to just fly or hop around all the time, and hatching eggs with their sweeties, who all looked the same, so it was hard to tell who was who except by hawks looked more
fierce and gulls looked more graceful. But they were all grey.

After a terrible storm, the sun came back out and made a beautiful rainbow across the sky. The birds never saw anything like that before and flew over to investigate.
One small bird, tried to perch on the rainbow and slid waaay down the curve like a muddy hillside slide.

When it bounced up from the ground, it's feathers had turned a wonderful red and yellowish colour. The first Goldfinch!

The other birds saw this and happily dove and slid down the rainbow. some of them were heavier like parrots and fell through all the colours.

Hawks were hunting the other birds and swooped up from under the rainbow to catch them, and thus only got lots of color on their tails and backs, but their bellies stayed bright and whitish grey. Silly old crow didn't like being so fancy and tried to scrape off the colours on a nearby cliff-side, and turned all black and nasty looking.

Still, after the rainbow faded, the birds all looked around at each other, and smiled. The little birds and the big birds all looked different now, and it was much easier to find their perfect companions to raise families together, with the red birds all flocking together, and the blue birds flocking together.

So they all lived happily ever after, much brighter than before.

The end.

A story about two- Atrumist

He was not old. Yet he walked like an old man and in that same way he sat on the rickety chair-ponderously, while shaking and very, very slowly. He already felt like he spent a lot of the day in his preparation and contemplating about death so he decided to move on to something else. But that feeling which haunted him, irritated by his friend wasn’t going away. “I hate him, I hate that cynical bastard” –he screamed in his mind whenever his inconsistent thoughts would turn from what he had decided to do with focus in that moment.

He had gotten a few anonymous letters which he hadn’t opened yet. To him all everyday things were a distraction, an unnecessary complication of simplicity and a mockery of death. That is why he hadn’t opened them. But now he impassively grabbed one of the scattered envelopes on the desk and opened it. At first impression an ordinary letter, written by hand in black ink. After he put on his glasses and finally his sight cleared he noticed the most interesting characteristic of this letter. The words were simultaneously written with a different handwriting, one word written by a left-handed, another by a right-handed and so on until the end of the letter that was no more and no less than a page long. He considered for a while, the poor thing but finally he started to read while trying to ignore the bizarreness of the anonymous author.

He was not young. Yet he enjoyed the company of younger people that in a strange way throughout his life course constantly appeared around him and inside him. His favorite ones were the ladies with unconquerable spirit and legs that danced in the rain. While he could always brag with his presence, his partners most often didn’t , their mark was the constant absent-mindedness. In that order another autumn day was passing like an autumn cloud, he while sitting in the warm arm-chair of his old but inexhaustible love watched her as she freely danced and he thought, thought, sank into the path of his chaotic thoughts…he had already left the room when she wrapped herself around him and looked him into the space between the absent-mindedness of the eyes and presence of his soul. “I love her, her body”-he thought insanely and grabbed her with his tired arms around her thighs, around her breasts.
But to include myself, called the other hand-writing very abruptly and unrefined, he not only was not young, but he also wasn’t alive. He wasn’t dead either, actually, he was a ghost inhabited in the body of the not-young gentleman who in the meantime we sent to You, yes reader of this letter because if You are the only reader than it must be You. You will find him in Your thoughts if You are surprised by what I’m saying and You will recognize him by one very clear characteristic- He is obsessed with death!

Our not-old reader in that moment shock, he gulped, he calmed, he brought the simplicity back to his spirit and continued to read.

The first one (read hand-writing) again continues, I’ll be short. “Oh, how wonderful you are”-the lady said back to our not-young gentleman and went to put something on her naked body because of someone’s impatient ring on the exit door. He, the not-young, stood, went towards the door and looked through the key hole to the other side of the door. He looked, but emptiness, there was no one, only the doorbell’s echo could be heard, ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong…

I am not sure how many lines more the calm by spirit read until he realized that his apartment door was ringing. Totally forgetting the coincidence of the letter that he was reading, shaking like a street light in an earthquake he stood up from his wooden chair, slowly went to the door and looked through the key hole to the other side of the door.
“Ah! I knew that sooner or later that cynical bastard will come. That’s why I hate him! Carcass!”- he yelled at himself when he saw his friend, opened the door and greeted him in the name of the friendship hidden in their mutual hatred.
Enemies love one another but they also need each other.

Story- Lawliet L
A young man, lost in wilderness for time too long to remember, sees a small hut. He walks in and sees somekind of meat and a cup of drink on the table. He gobbles the drink and eats the bread within moments and then sits down to rest for a while.
He wakes as some old and bearded fellow shakes him viciously. "you ate my food, you must repay me!" And so he takes the young man outside to pile of wood and tells him to cut them to a proper size for the fireplace, as new fire is needed to cook a new meal. After that, the young man is taken to forest, where he's given a self made knife and told to hunt for new meat. It takes him hours to finally catch a small creature, big enough to get proper food. And finaly the old man takes him to the strem nearby and tells him to get more water, handing him somekind of bottle to fill, which takes him some time to fill as the stream is quite slow and tiny. On their way back to hut old man shows him some berries and tells him to pick some- to flavour the water. When they reach the hut young man is told to light the fire, prepare and cook the food, mix the water with crushed up barries and set it all on the table. When the youn man has done all that, he suddenly realises that the old man is gone, he has left the hut while he wasn't looking. He looks outside the window to see where he went and he frozes. It has gotten dark outside and he could clearly see his own reflection in the window class- he IS the old man, and always has been. Chocked by this he refuses to accept it and runs out, running as fast and as far as he can, before collapsing on the ground.
A young man, lost in wilderness for time too long to remeber, sees a small hut...

Story- Child of the Soul
Palms sweating… heart racing. Fingers clamped onto pieces of wet earth, I held onto that rooty ground for dear life. I don’t know how long I was left there, probably a matter of hours… it felt like ages. All I could remember was our last exchange before he betrayed me. “Why?” I could barely mouth, exhausted. With a wry look on his face, he muttered, “Because you’re a peasant, and I’m not supposed to want to be you.” He raised his left foot, and...
It was an old man that found me, probably in his late seventies, barely strong enough to lift me an inch from the Cliffside, but it was enough for me to pull myself up. He had been sitting on a bench, talking to himself before he realized that that the low moaning sound he had been listening to had been me, a last ditch effort for help from God. The graybeard helped me to my knees, and I had just enough strength to make it over to the park. He gently laid me on the ground and asked my name. “Roland.” I returned, “My name… is Roland.” The old man dressed my wounds and had me drink the last of his water. “So…” he said, helping me to the park bench next to him, “what’s your story?”
Strength replenished, I could fully recall the events that had occurred only hours ago. Choosing my words carefully, I addressed the kind man, “Mister, I appreciate your kindness, however; I would rather not bother you with my troubles, and I really must be on my way.” Surprisingly strong for his age, the man held me in place. He smelled of butterscotch and his blue eyes twinkled in the afternoon sunlight. Heartily, the man began to laugh, “Nonsense, all I’ve got left is the ability to sit and listen to other peoples’ problems!” Suddenly, I felt compelled to tell him my secrets. This man, who I barely knew… who had saved my life, felt safe.
Once composed, I began my story, “I come from a country bordering this one, a peaceful nation. Quiet and prosperous, I made an honest pay as a hard-working apprentice to a shop keep. I was saving up to marry my fiancé, Heather, when all of my misfortune came about. A strange necklace found its’ way to my shop, a necklace that I was instructed to deliver. My best friend, William, volunteered to assist me. “Who exactly is it we are taking this necklace to?” William inquired as we walked along the densely forested path to Kingsborough. “I mean seriously, couldn’t we just have mailed it? No that would have been too easy.”
Exiting the path, I responded, “It seems like this item is far too valuable to be mailed.” As I took the jewelry delicately out of my pocket, it gleamed, reflecting the light of the sun through its crystals. ‘This necklace alone is worth two years pay at the shop’ I thought to myself as we moved from the path into a town. Lost in thought, I didn’t hear most of what William was saying but I managed to catch, “I’m a noble, you know. It’s sort of an insult to drag me along like this, on foot.” Laughing, we began to search for the owner of the necklace, but to no avail. Finally, we came upon a child, skipping rope to a little tune, the contents of which were too soft to hear.
I approached the little girl, her red hair swaying in the breeze, “Tell me… do you know where I can find a Miss Mary Stratford?” The little girl stared at me for a while, with a puzzled look on her face. “You can’t mean Mary, can you? Surely, you can’t… because she’s gone.” Gone? Gone where, what does this little girl mean? I frantically asked the freckled girl, “Well, do you know where I can find her?” The child ran in and retrieved two individuals that were obviously her parents. They seemed troubled, almost angry by our presence. “Mary’s gone, now just leave us alone!” the parents began leading us out of the town, and a crowd began to gather.
We were obviously not welcome, so William and I retreated back to the woods. When I returned to my shop, the owner informed me that the owner of the necklace had vanished and hadn’t left any will or had any known relatives. Oddly enough, the letter asking me to deliver the necklace also made me the rightful owner of the object if misfortune were to befall its’ owner. Out of this mysterious tragedy came great fortune. Finally, Heather and I could get married and start a family of our own. Then, everything changed.
When I went to exchange the necklace for tender, the local police charged me with theft and shipped me off to Tortuga, a large mining colony in the tropics. There, I was meant to perform slave duty for the rest of my life. Disconcerted, I didn’t get to plea my case, or even face my accuser. However, there was an accident on the ship, and it was swallowed into the sea. There, I managed to find the energy to float back to shore. Exhausted, I crawled on that sandy beach until I was in front of a figure. William was there, waiting for me.
My heart was light with joy, finally a friend that I could count on. With joy I said, “Thank god it’s you, I have been falsely accused!”
“I know, trust me.”, Smirked William, as he paced along the beach.
“What do you mean, you know” I couldn’t comprehend what he meant.
“I was the one that had you arrested, and orchestrated that convenient boat crash. It’s quite unfortunate that the sea didn’t finish you off, these boots are quite new. I suppose I’ll get to christen my new rapier, however… so that’s a plus.” The salty ocean crashed against the white cliff face as William unsheathed his sword, throwing an extra in front of me. The environment pulsed with energy, and William’s intentions were clear.
Our swords clashed, two souls bent on the destruction of one another. The salty breeze smelled like blood now, of death. The wind howled, the ocean pulsated, ready to swallow the loser into the deep fathoms of eternity. Barely audible over the storm, I screamed “Why?!” I will never forget the look that was painted across his face, one of pure maniacal greed and rage. “I am a nobleman, you are a peasant. I deserve her, she belongs with me!” We scaled the path up the cliff, narrow and steep. Lightning crashed down, casting more and more menacing shadows upon William’s face.
As we continued to climb the steep face of the cliff, William kicked some rocks down, and they knocked me off of my feet. At that moment, I almost succumbed to nature, the feat that was a head of me seemed more daunting than I could bear. However, deep inside myself, I found my reason to go on. I could picture Heather, with William. In that second, I saw all the possibilities, our love, our children… all smashed by this single man.
In that moment, I lifted myself to my feet, and William was waiting for me at the top. In a split second, our battle of wills continued. The clash brought William and I to the edge of the rock face. With all of his might, William slashed at me, I parried the blow, and it managed to only graze off of my arm, but it was enough for me to lose my balance. As I dangled from the edge, barely holding on to wet roots, there was William staring down at me. Muttering, he walked up t me. The only word I could make out was, “Checkmate.” He stomped on my hand to make me release, however; that was his downfall. William lost his balance on that muddy ground and was sent sprawling into the tide below.
I managed to keep rooted until the storm managed to subside enough for you to hear me, and the rest is history.” The old man got up, stretched his creaky legs, and looked at me with those twinkling eyes. “Well, “smiled the old man, “it seems you should be getting back to Heather then, don’t you think?”
“Agreed!” I smiled back and began to walk in the opposite direction when the old man called me to return. “I almost forgot!” he said as he reached into his pockets, seemingly searching for a candy or trinket. “Oh, well. I was going to give you a butterscotch, but it seems I’m all out. I guess I’ll have to give you this instead.” Shining in the sunlight, it was blinding. With his outstretched arthritic hand, he handed me the necklace. In that one moment, I realized everything was going to be alright.

The Postman- Rumi
It seemed like we were always waiting.

More than a year ago in the summer Hani wanted to buy this little raft from a middle-aged woodcutter who had recently lost his wife. The man and his wife had been taking that raft out on the lake by their cottage for probably twenty years. Maybe since before they were even married.

Now that she'd passed, he was sellin' both the cottage and the raft an' movin' to Shelton. I'd heard that Abbey Sullivan and Guy Silver were thinkin' 'bout buying the cottage before their wedding. Hani didn't care about the cottage. He wanted the raft and he needed to make some money.

I laughed when he told me we were gonna collect acorns from the oak grove down beside the old church cemetery near the edge of town.

"Who's gonna' buy 'em?" I asked.

"Stupid girl." He said.

He was always calling me that. I hated it, but Mama let him get away with it 'cuz he could sweet talk her as far back as I remember. I wish he would talk sweet to me sometimes.

"Them railroad men come through here every winter and you know they buy acorn meal 'cuz its cheaper than bread flour. Ronnie's been sellin' 'em acorn meal for three winters an' that's how he got that bike."

I raised my eyebrow an' put my hand on my hip like Mama would do.

"I thought you said Ronnie got that bike sellin' newspapers."

Seems like every time Hani came up with some foolish idea, he got it from Ronnie. I bet Ronnie probably found that stupid old bike...or stole it.

"Stupid girl." he repeated. He shook his head an' walked away.

I was gonna run after him 'an tell him off, but I figured collecting acorns might be fun, and I had my eye on a red scarf that Peter Skinney was sellin' at his shop.

And so we waited.

We waited as the tree leaves turned golden and red, the whole time thinkin' about our money just growin' on those pretty trees. We waited for the acorns to get big and plump, but they never did. I guess it was a bad year for acorns or somethin'. They didn't barely grow big at all and an early winter storm came and knocked 'em all off the trees and buried 'em in the snow. By the time the snow cleared, it was late in November and they were all wet and no good for meal.

Turns out Abbey and Guy bought the raft along with the house an' had been going out on the lake for a month or two 'fore it started to freeze over in the storm. It wasn't long after the storm that the scarf disappeared from the shelf at Skinney's.

I decided to collect the acorns anyway, 'cuz I like acorns, even wet ones.

Today we were waiting once again.

Hani an' me were waitin' for a letter from Papa. Ever since Papa left for the war, these letters were all we heard from him. I missed him a lot and I liked to write him letters too. I always gave 'em to Mama, but I dunno if she sent 'em to him, 'cuz he never answered my questions in his letters. Mama said the postage was expensive and I think she liked to jus' send her own letters.

Mindy Taylor's daddy was serving along with Papa an' some of the other men from town. She would always tell me about battles they were fightin' and how they were so brave and always outsmarted the enemy. She made it sound so exciting, but Papa's letters didn't make me think that. He jus' wrote 'bout his soldier friends and the places they camped and some of the other folks he met. I think he was sad to be there and maybe he was scared too.

It had been three weeks since we got a letter from Papa and it made us all nervous. He'd been gone since Spring an' he wrote every week 'til now. Some people in town were saying that the men might have lost their battle, and wouldn't be coming back. I didn't believe it at first, but now I was getting worried.

I tried to talk with Hani about it, but he got angry with me for even bringin' it up.

"Can't nobody do nothin' to Papa and his troop. They're the best soldiers in the war!" He raised a clenched fist. "Don't you go knockin' 'em or I'm gonna knock you!"

I didn't say anything more, but I think he was worried too.

We'd been waitin' for the postman in front of the house every afternoon all week. When the postman came, we'd both go runnin' to the gate. Each day the postman jus' shook his head and gave us whatever other mail had come if there was any at all.

This afternoon I sat in the yard waitin' for the postman and runnin' my fingers through a small patch of clover. I wondered what it must be like to be the postman in our town. It must be hard to have everyone waitin' on you to let 'em know if their daddy or husband is okay. I thought about how hard it must be to deliver bad news, 'specially the worst kind. I didn't like to think 'bout the worst kind of news. Then I thought about how it must be nice to deliver good news.

Jus' then, I heard the familiar footsteps of the postman. Hani and I jumped up and ran down to the gate. As the postman approached the gate, he saw us waitin' for him. I'll bet we looked like a coupla' dogs waitin' for a meal. He looked at Hani and then looked at me and then shook his head again, same as yesterday. He didn't have any letters for us at all. Hani turned and walked silently back into the house, slamming the door behind him. The postman continued to walk down the road and was about to disappear 'round the corner, when I shouted to him.

"Mister Phelps!"

He turned and smiled.

"Yes, Gina?"

I ran down the road to speak with him.

"Is it hard to have people like us to be waitin' for you, only to be let down? What about when you deliver bad news?"

He set his postal bag down on the ground and looked me in the eyes.

"You know, Gina, I don't know what kind of news I am delivering at all. I don't read the mail before I deliver it. Sometimes it's good news and sometimes it's bad news. There are a whole lot of types of letters people send in the mail, and sometimes its not even news at all."

I hadn't really ever thought about that.

"When I deliver a letter," he continued, "I watch the person to whom I'm delivering in case they want to open the letter right there in front of me. Sometimes a person is really happy to share their excitement. Sometimes, they need a person to support them in a moment of grief."

He looked up and gazed down the road for a moment then turned back to me.

"I love to walk through town everyday and see everyone, but I find that supporting someone in their time of joy or grief is the what makes this job special. Sometimes it's very difficult and sometimes I learn a lot more about peoples' business than I want to know." He laughed.

"What about lettin' down people who are waiting for you? Ya' know, like Hani an' me?"

His smile vanished and he looked at me square in the eyes.

"Gina, what are you waiting for?"

I looked at him curiously 'cuz he knew I was waitin' for a letter from Papa. I was gonna answer but thinkin' 'bout it made me start to cry.

He sighed.

"Gina, nothing in life is certain."

I choked back my tears and looked up at him.

"Your father has gone off to war and you know as well as everyone else that soldiers risk their lives. You have a great love for your father and you are concerned with his well-being, as you should be."

He paused.

"What do you gain from waiting out here every day for a letter from him? In time everything will become clear. You can sit and wait for that time or you can get up and live your life."

He kneeled on one knee and put his hand on my shoulder.

"The whole world is waiting for you. There is no reason for you to wait for the world."

I wanted to argue with him, but I realized that I jus' missed Papa an' maybe what he said was true. I looked up at him and stared into his gentle eyes. He smiled at me, stood up, an' picked up his mail bag. He turned an' started to walk on down the road again.

"Mister Phelps!" I shouted after him.

He turned to me again.

"Yes, Gina?"

I smiled at him.

"Thank you."

He smiled back.

"I will keep your father in my prayers."

He turned an' disappeared 'round the corner an' I could hear his familiar footsteps slowly fading.

I hollered to Mama that I was goin' walkin' an' I set off down the road, thinkin' about what he'd told me. It wasn't long before I found myself at the church cemetery at the edge of town.

I walked through the cemetery lookin' at the names and dates on the tombstones, an' I realized so many men had died in other wars. I thought about Papa and wondered if he was gonna' ever come home.

I sat down on an old tombstone with moss growing up one side an' looked up at the nearby oak grove. The red and golden leaves on the branches were blowin' around in the breeze an' a bunch of 'em were scattered all over the ground. There were piles of big ol' acorns at the base of the trees. I laughed to myself, thinkin' this must have been a better year for acorns.

I stood up an' started walkin' toward the grove to get a better view. At the edge of the cemetery, I looked back at the tombstones an' thought once more about Papa. I turned again to look at the acorns and I thought about that red scarf.

I smiled and walked into the grove.

Poem for Marvolo- Sunfire
When the whelp for the first time leaves the cave
and he does as all younglings behave
he bites and gnarls
he jumps and falls
but he acts brave
even though the parents have to keep him safe

As he grows
to his mother he no longer bows
the mother stops to feed
he has to get his own meat
he learns to use his nose
to sneak upon his foes

He needs to start his own herd
females have to be ‘censored’
so he can has his own little babies
who all howl after their daddies
an unlucky situation occurred
our wolfy got captured

He was taken to the zoo
every day he got the same menu
he put up a fight
but eventually he died
all what will be remembered is a wolf going to the loo
And this is all because of you

Story- Xrieg
Let me tell you a story of a wise wizard, young knight and a cursed
water being. You are all young (OK, at least some of you - certainly
not that old hag back there) and will surely appreciate story full of
wisdom and instruction.
Let's skip all long introductions and go directly to the place, whare
the story begins. It was beautiful weather near Raven's Peace, whan a
young knight stopped to water his horse and was approached bo a
wisened old man. Old man, frail, but with with wisdom coming with age
clear in his eyes asked:
'Sir! You are young and brave and surely you would miss an chance for
adventure, fame and glory? I need a special book, the Book of
Principles, from Golemus Golemicarum to continue my research. The road
is long and may be dangerous. If you suceed though, bards will sing
songs about you, I will also reward you with 5 gold coins, all the
money I saved through years of hard work.'
The knight was really just a lazy bum in shiny armor his mummy bought
him and his thoughts had more to do with smith's daughter's drawers
than fighting dragons. He replied:
'You do not look so weak and old yourself Why won't you go?'
Old man sighed and said:
'I cannot... I have a young and beautiful wife. She's a water being
under enchantment to stay right here and without our daily lovemaking
I do not think I would survive a forthnight!'
Young knight noticed then old man's wife swimming in the lake nearby.
She was gorgeous. For the first time old man's problem had his full
attention.He inquired about the book, about the scholar and languages
he knew and departed vowing he would bring the book back even if
dragons were defending it.
From additional information you were given, but the old man knew not,
you may have guessed what happened next. Young knight went to the
first fair he found and bought some leather bound and ancient looking
cookbook in some foreign language - then returned to the old man as
soon as he dared, desire driven. Old scholar thanked him and started
studying runes trying to decipher the cookbook, hoping to find a way
to have his youth restored. To make a long story short, he was so
engaged that before he realized that the first chapter read 'Muffins
with honey' his water being wife became young knight's lover and not
too eager to return to him. Old man could not stand it - especially
since young couple strongly preferred nearby beach to some secluded
spot. Heartbroken he left.
And somehow he realized that his abstinence lasted more than a month
and he was not only alive but felt antually stronger. He was
travelling wide - became scientific advisor to some aristocrats,
generals in a few armies - and completely forgot about the mysterious
Book of Principles. As a consequence, he was a strong, rich and good
looking middle age man when he returned to his lakeside cabin a few
years later - no resemblance to his former self. Imagine his surprise,
when some old and frail old man approached him there asking to help
him in finding the Book of Principles. Under close examination the
scholar recognized the young knight who had cheated him - and
understood, that his wife's enchantment was not only keeping her at
the Green Lake, but also draining living force from her lovers. He
drove the knight away - and his wife was very happy to switch back
affections. And yet since then the scholar, as often as was intimate
with his wife, never forgot to use certain countercharms to protect
his vitality.
That's the end of my story. I tried to keep it short to keep your
attention until the very end - and to discuss morale of the story. I
could have spent ages discussing water beings firm breasts, shapely
legs and smooth skin; years describing young kinght's long (... Oh,
really?... Decency? Oh, indeed.). All right apparently I could not
here. Still, morale:
1. Thinking of abstraction is great - but that alone may make you a
poor and abandoned man. Be practical every now and then!
2. Appearances may be misleading - not everything bright and shiny is gold
3. Have faith in yourself and face challenges head on - do not try to
make others solve your problems
4. 'Love' is often just as deep as the depth of your wallet - remember that
5. Old age may bring great wisdom - but for some only some weak stomach
6. Not every printed word is deep and full of wisdom
7. If you are not absolutely sure you know your partner and all their
enchantments, always use powerful countercharms

Story- Darigan
In the early morning hours of the day I awoke standing in the middle of a strange room and as I looked around I could not remember how I'd gotten there or where I'd come from, only that I was meant to be in this exact spot at this exact moment. As I looked around I saw a few other people some were sleeping and one or two were going about their own business taking little notice of me at first. The room was peculiar it had a window and a door, but no exit the window was shut and the door appeared locked, there were shelves on the walls with various scrolls and in the middle of the room near where I was standing was a desk and a chair and laid out upon the desk flowing over the edge and on to the floor was a big scroll, as I examined the scroll a kind voice stirred me from my musings and as I looked up a woman who a moment ago had been reading through messages sent to her by what seemed like a bird made of pure light.

She had sent sent the bird away with replies to the messages and was carefully looking me over studying me before quietly and peacefully telling me that the scroll was the way to begin my adventure and it would lead me as I went, she smiled and told me that if I had any questions she was more, then willing to answer them and if I was shy, then I could always send her a message for help. I smiled at the kindness of this woman and as I slowly let my eyes wandered and studied her I could see from the depths of her eyes and body movements that though she was smiling and cheerful there was some deep sadness within her. Nonetheless, she gave me the sweetest of smile to reassure me and I was on my way diving into the scroll I had set back on the table and realizing that it was a set of instructions that soon lead me out of the cabin and allowed me to find and equip myself with a map of this new realm. Every step I took out of the paper cabin, as I soon found out was the name of the room I'd woken up in, was a new discovery and the kind woman's words whispered in my ear through each new scenery I wandered giving me short instructions on what to do leading me back to my scroll each time where new tasks would replace the old and I was soon being lead down the road until I came to stop in front of what seemed a very old and battered gate with a strange fearsome head atop it.

I ignored the gates for now and wandered on my way until I was met by the most intimidating creature I could ever imagine, it was a bull of some sort chained to a small feeble looking tree that looked ready to charge at me at any moment. As I slowly backed away from the beast I ran back toward the battered gates and sat down quickly pulling out my scroll to see if it had any answers, it suggested I go right of the gates and explore the newly opened path to find some warriors to fight with me against the beast, and so I went. As I wandered down this new path I noticed the rising wall to my left and a broken windmill off to the right what struck me as odd was the appearance of a shadow seeming to creep up the side of the wall from nowhere, but my mind quickly wandered back to the task at hand and I kept on my way. I walked past a strange looking house, it was broken down and oozing with black liquid and as I neared the house a sense of dread came over me and I backed away slowly shivering as I continued down the path.

As I walked along I felt something stirring within me as I came upon a structure that looked as if it had been composed of large pieces of armory and the sweet voice of the woman from the cabin returned to my head as I looked at my scroll and was informed that this was the armory where I could recruit warriors to fight for me against my enemies and as I walked slowly inside the armory the stirring within me as I saw a symbol leading me into the depths where three warrior entities waited to serve a master. The quiet remnants of a once great warrior drifts in one corner waiting to serve as healer to its master. In the opposite corner what looked to be an empty suit of armor stood at attention waiting for orders as his ax shined in the brief sunshine. Between them in the middle of the room sat a giant, making loud grunting noises, I noticed one wrist chained to a ball nearly as big as the beast warrior himself.

Poem: AmberRune
"Here I sit, upon a rock
watching the hands move on a clock
for I know that soon I will move
Currently I wait, dancing my groove
The timer rules, it know the way
To make me wait around all day
It knows of patience, knows it by heart
Knows no way better for those to start
attuning to the subtle flow
that cues plant life to grow
With motivation we do not linger,
we’ve moved clocks hands with our finger
but soon time moves on anyway
the regeneration cycle now lets me play"

Edited by Curiose
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