The TORC Conspiracy

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Postby SmaugsBane » Sun Apr 13, 2003 6:03 pm

.... <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-sad.gif"border=0>
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Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Apr 14, 2003 9:03 pm

<b>Outside, on the steps of the Eldar Estate ..<i>a short time ago…<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0></i> </b><BR><BR><i>..a little retro post..</i><BR><BR>“Bardhwyn, such was our rush that I have not had time to see if you were unhurt” Lysandros said, “and there is much going on here I don’t understand and that you haven’t told me; indeed refused to tell me yesterday.” A wounded look artfully flashed across his visage…<BR><BR><i> ‘Another wounded look. Damn. Typical Pisces male…’ HJ thought to herself. </i><BR><BR>“But I gather it must wait and we should go inside.” <i>Lysandros said and he took her hand, holding it lightly and stood, waiting momentarily. His face was one of genuine concern, as genuine as a cyber character could manage. ‘It will wait, forever..’ she thought to herself. ‘You can never, ever know, Lysandros. I will never tell you.’<BR><BR>They took two or three steps up, and HJ couldn’t hold back the tears. RG.. she was gone. Now Lindonbayne.. she was such a nice young woman..worked at a store she used to shop at, a catalogue store. Good prices. She went up another step and HJ gently released Lys’ hand, slid her arm around his waist and leaned into him. She felt so very, very tired and so sad. Gratefully, the CyberBarding didn’t stiffen or balk. He supported her and helped her inside.</i><BR><BR><i>Once inside some incredible realizations hit home…<BR><BR><BR><b>SILVERSCRIBE IS ALIVE….!! </b><BR><BR><b> The REAL Wisteria??? <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0> Here !! </b><BR><BR><b>Tinu is gone! Cynara and Maiden of the Ice, too! All captured by the Black Riders.</b><BR><BR><b>Anorast/RLM was injured! </b><BR><BR><b>Vana, Nessa and Katie were here.. and a sleeping Running Deer upstairs!</b><BR><BR><b>... and Lys actually put his arm around me…! </b></i> <BR><BR><BR><BR><b> Later ..at at the Breakfast Table…</b><BR><BR><i>Bardy buried her face in her hands as Wisteria went on and on. The information was startling, alarming… frightening even and it corresponded to her initial gut responses when she herself was dragged into the Ubermen’s offices, oh so long ago it seemed.<BR><BR>But what was immediately concerning was…<BR><BR><b>Lysandros was listening to all of it… every word.</b> <BR><BR>The CyberBarding most likely didn’t understand a bit of it.. or he could be understanding all too much. <BR><BR>Bardy flashed looks to Scribbles…no recognition. To Leoba.. she was too engrossed with the conversation and the coffee that Edain was making. SB wasn’t at the table. And Elenath, she was lost in reflection. No one picked up on the fact that there was a CyberTorcer present who really shouldn’t be hearing ANY of this.<BR><BR>She looked up and across the table at Lys, who sat quietly, munching on some fried bacon, not saying a word. From her recollection of this character… he was sharp. Very sharp. He now knows something very different is happening here and the die was cast.<BR><BR>Bardy unconsciously pushed the milk and sugar over to Edain and there was a burst of energy expended when Anorast awoke.. along with a sigh of relief from some. Food and drink was supplied to the Elf and shortly after there was another lull at the table…<BR><BR>Finally Bardy spoke up:</i><BR><BR>“Wisteria, Vana, Lalaith, Nessa..., I haven’t had a chance to introduce you all to Lysandros.. Lysandros <i>of Dale</i>.”<BR><BR><i>There were a few silent looks exchanged across the table. They all recognized him, obviously, he was good looking, blonde, gigantic...though it was clear they didn’t know who he was, really…</i><BR><BR>“He’s <i><b>from Dale.</b>”, Bardy said again, emphasizing the last two words with the inflection that also said ‘not from the outside world, *wink* *wink*.’</i> “He kindly escorted us from the Guildhouse after we were attacked.” <i>She went on to say.</i> “And I think he’s going to have to come along with us now, for the entire trip, whether he likes it or not. I am sorry, Lys. You’re with us now.”
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Postby Leoba » Wed Apr 16, 2003 11:58 am

<b>Breakfasting in the Eldars' Guild</b><BR><BR>Coffee. Coffee was good, satisfying an addiction that even the unpredictability of life on the inside couldn’t slake. Leoba/HM cradled the welcome mug, curling her fingers round the handle lovingly and giving Edain a most grateful look. Slowly as she sipped the smoky liquid she felt the mists before her eyes begin to dissipate. And the shaking, that had befallen her hands since they had discovered Lindonbayne and which had only been exacerbated by the words with AW, began to cease and some of the tension left her eyes, if not her heart. <BR><BR>Sustained by the magic of Nessa’s bacon and eggs, the scene before Leoba/HM began to make sense, or not to make sense as the case would have it. <BR><BR>Scribbles was alive; that was a slight dimming of the darkness about them. Whether real or character, there was a palpable strength in the Scribe that Leoba had felt herself drawing on from the outset, taking her much of her confidence from the ease with which she handled their circumstances and worked to pull them together.<BR><BR>And it was a shock and a half to see Vana here. At least, a shock to see the real life woman thrust into her Elven shell, although she seemed as at home within the Guild House as though she’d dwelt there all her days.<BR><BR>Leoba dipped a toast soldier into her fried egg and sucked the runny yolk off, her elbows on the table and oblivious to the bad table manners her mother would have ticked her off for displaying in company. She was, truth be told, still trying to get to grips with who was here and who wasn’t; the ongoing brushes with cyber characters had left more than a little nasty aftertaste and unsettled her confidence. It struck her, as she watched Lys blend in so effortlessly with the rest of them, how easy it was to forget to tread with care, particularly when they came across people they thought they knew. She almost began to thank her lucky stars that SB/AW had shown such a lack of mastery of his surroundings, for at least that showed him as either an extremely good actor trying to pull the wool over their eyes or a genuine 21st century soul at a loss in cyber space.<BR><BR>Thinking of AW, Leoba looked around again, wondering if he was sulking outside. It was tempting to make assumptions but she realised that truly, since they’d never really argued in the time they’d been friends she had little way of second-guessing. She felt a little pang of guilt as her own tearful tendencies resolved themselves in breakfast and determined that she’d let him sit it out; if he wanted to sulk and smoulder then as far as she was concerned he could do so at least until they were ready to leave.<BR><BR>Yes, leaving…<BR><BR>Leoba took another slurp of her second coffee as she tried to drag the right phrases to the forefront of her mind. Bardy’s reminder about Lys had not fallen on deaf ears but since he had to travel with them for his own security they would have to find a way of talking around him as subtly as possible… <BR><BR><BR>It was after all no secret that they were on a secret quest; Bardy had said as much to the Blonde and Gigantic One back in Dale. But surely Wisteria had unwittingly said too much; perhaps the only option was to keep the hapless Dale character surrounded and watched at all times. Not that it was likely he’d betray them but then what would any one of their characters do if a whole bunch of people blundered into their world babbling nonsense. Either confine them to the loony bin (assuming Middle Earth had such a thing), deal with them personally or hand them over to the authorities. The loony bin they were all close to succumbing to of their own accord. The authorities were already onto them. It stood to reason that the greatest thread from Lys was from himself. <BR><BR>“You’re right of course Bardy. Besides, when we have such a skilful warrior to hand it’d be nuts to let him go when we don’t know where the road’s going to bend next.” She winked at her friend, thinking that it would be no hardship to Bardy to have such a swoonsome being in their company. “And if Anorast’s up to it, I think we should try and move on after we’ve washed up, before those Riders come back. Perhaps somewhere a little less populous. And maybe if we’re quick, we can leave Running Deer asleep, she’s surely out of it enough to be safe?”<BR>
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Postby Nessamelda » Sat Apr 19, 2003 1:19 am

<b>Yes we are still in the kitchen of the Eldar's estate...having breakfast now</b><BR><BR>Katie loooked around at the grown-ups. They were eating breakfast and drinking coffee as though they hadn't eaten for weeks, and all making that sort of awkward grown-up conversation that happens when they don't want to talk about something directly. Take that woman with the scar on her face:<BR><i>“He’s from Dale.”, she said again, emphasizing the last two words, *wink* *wink*.’</i>. Katie looked hard at Bardhwyn. What did this mean? What was she trying to say that she didn't want obvious? It was like when Mummy and Daddy were trying to say something that they didn't want Katie and her little sister to know. But Katie would nearly always work it out. <BR><BR>Katie nibbled on a slice of toast. She didn't see the point in eggs and bacon, although grown-ups liked it. And coffee was bitter and horrible.<BR><BR>The door of the Estate opened and a couple of people - strangers - wandered through. They didn't seem to take any notice of the party having breakfast, and went on up the stairs to the upper part of the building. Katie watched them. To her eyes they seemd different somehow. Insubstantial, unreal - not solid in the middle. You couldn't see through them or anything silly like that - she could just tell they were make-believe. All the people in the group with mummy, well they only had a bit of this mistiness about them; mummy least of all, but every now and then that nasty duchess would try to take over, and the real mummy would get a bit hazy. Only Katie was solidly real, to her own eyes. She thought that it might be because she wasn't a character, she didn't have to be any one else, she was just Katie. <BR><BR>She chewed her toast and drank some juice thoughfully. So of course all these people she was with must be from the real word too, like Katie, as they looked substantial, not pretend. Well that was as close as she could explain it. Then she thought back to what Bardhwyn had said. <BR><BR>Was she saying that the big blond bloke was not real, that he was just a made up character? Because she could tell that wasn't true. She didn't know how, but she could see the difference. There was a sudden lull in the grown-up conversation and Katie saw her opportunity:<BR><BR><i>"Was that lady saying that he" </i> she gestured in Lysandros's direction <i> isn't from where we are from? Was she saying that he isn't rea.....</i><BR><BR>The end of the sentence was cut off by her mother's hand covering her mouth. <BR><BR>"Shh, Katie, I'll explain later. It's not polite to ask questions like that"</i> <BR><BR>Susan shook her head ruefully at Bardhwyn. Never be subtle in front of a six year old!<BR><BR>Katie gave an angry stare at her mother. Well if Mummy was going to be like that she wouldn't tell her about the big blond bloke being real. If grown-ups were so clever they could find out for themselves.<BR><BR>Susan hoped that Lysandros had not heard her daughters outburst. He seemed to be paying all his attention to Bardhwyn, but she pulled Katie over to the sink ostensibly to help with the dishes and whispered to her in a quiet voice, warning of the need to be cautious - this place was dangerous, and she had to be careful who to trust. <BR><BR>Katie listened quietly to the others discussing travel plans. Mummy was right that this place was dangerous. But she worried that in some ways her eyes were clearer to sense the dangers than the grown-ups - who seemed to be dazzled by their own make-believe world.<BR>
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Apr 19, 2003 6:47 pm

<b>In a secret cell in an undisclosed location…</b><BR><BR>David hit the floor of his cell hard and the various cold and flu remedies that were imported in for his benefit were tossed onto the floor next to him. Aleeve, Therma Flu, Bayer Sinus Remedy. <BR><BR>The white plastic armored guards left, silently as usual, the tromp of their plastic shod feet echoing down the long grated corridor that led to his cell.<BR><BR>When the cadence of foosteps died away, he lay for a moment or two longer just to gain his bearings, recollecting the last comments made by Solari before he was dragged off.. something about Jon’s girlfriend. In his mind he uttered things that couldn't be published on a family website.<BR><BR>“Damn! OK… get up, David.” He told himself. Hoisting himself on his feet David then rubbed his face vigorously and went over to his work station.<BR><BR>“Edain… SB… where are you guys?…damn, damn..” He muttered as he booted up his workstation. “Nevermind.. I will find you. Oh, yes.. I will…and then… hold on to your big boots, guys! You’re going to feel like a million!”<BR><BR><BR>Down the long, grated corridor the guards stationed at the cell block heard the familiar, yet strange, strains of the prisoner’s music echo off the plastic and metal. That same, shrill human voice screaming.. ‘Baby, Baby, Baby, Do You Like It’.. over and over again.<BR><BR>“Hmmph, sick modern music.” One of the guards said as he poured a cup of oily hot liquid into a cup. “Can’t understand a word they’re saying.” <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Apr 19, 2003 7:21 pm

<b>In Ted’s Virtual Office, The Mod Forum…<BR><BR><i>and look out, this is a Mega BAP…</i></b><BR><BR><i>The chaotic scene of devastation in the courtyard of the Eldar Estate broiled around him and Ted, having vanquished his opponent, was turning to leave. The Elf Warrior had just fallen to Ted’s mighty hand BUT the Eldar foolishly thought he could deal the deathblow as Ted triumphantly strolled away! <BR>Ha! Ha Ha!<BR><BR>Little did the Firstborn know that this ‘wraith’ was impervious and his cry was nothing more than a cry of surprise… not death!<BR><BR>‘MUAAAHAHAHAA!’</i><BR><BR>“TED!”<BR><BR>Ted spun around, pulling off his visual helmet as he did so, the visual field displaying the Eldar Estate was quickly replaced with his dim virtual office.<BR><BR>“JON! Jeez! You scared the crap out of me!”<BR><BR>“WHAT are you DOING?!” Jon asked, his voice betraying both his annoyance and frustration. Walking over the nearby roughhewn table, he tossed down the ‘meat eaters deluxe’ pizza he’d brought in, causing the lid to fly open. “Playing GAMES!?”<BR><BR>“No..” Ted replied, sounding like he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Jon gave him one of his ‘don’t jerk me around looks’. <BR><BR>“Ok, Ok, Jon. Yeah, yeah… I was having a little therapeutic recreation with one of the CyberTorcs but I was also supervising a raid I orchestrated on our little ‘posse’ of fugitives.” He finished with a self -satisfied smile as he walked over to the pizza. “Hey, thanks Dude. Yeah…my favorite.”<BR><BR>Ted was so engrossed with the pizza, he didn’t see his partner standing, glaring, with his lips pressed thin.<BR><BR>“So, let’s see how many we pulled in.” Ted said, carrying a piece of the pizza over to his console, dropping some sausage on the floor. He jabbed a few keys and, switching the pizza, took the mouse and clicked on a few of the tasks. Another smile spread over Ted’s face…<BR><BR>“Ted.” Jon said quietly, trying to get his partner’s attention.<BR><BR>“Aaaahhh, three from the Eldar party..good, good..and oh well, only one from the Dale party. Off to the Rehab they go, ha ha, he hee, ho ho. And it looks as if they’re all regrouping.” Ted let out a low, devious chuckle… “That is good, good.. easier to collect them when they’re all together. I will turn the drones around.”<BR><BR>“Ted, I have to tell you something… something impor…”, Jon was cut short again.<BR><BR>“Looky, looky!” Ted said before taking a few bites of the pizza and pointing at a registration graph, small and flickering, on the cpu. “That Elf.. he’s still functioning..amazing.. I really got him good, too.” Ted spun around in his chair, speaking and chewing. “I tell you, Jon, he was the best opponent I have met yet.. save BD of course.”<BR><BR>Jon stared at the small graph that Ted had pointed to: ‘Guruthostirn’ was the process name and suddenly Jon’s face turned severely ashen. He bent over and took a few paces forward, studying the screen intently before grabbing the mouse and clicking madly.<BR><BR>“Ted..Ted, are you SURE? This Elf.. THIS registration here!?” Jon asked, his voice fraught.<BR><BR>“Yeah, of course I am sure. Good fighter…” <BR><BR>“Look, Ted. LOOK at the signature reading.” Jon insisted, his finger jabbing the screen.<BR><BR>The expression on Ted’s face went from blithe confidence to abject terror.<BR><BR>“Jon.. I swear, I SWEAR that character was reading Cyber! CYBER! What the…?”<BR><BR>“You attacked one of the DROP-INS!”<BR><BR>“NO! He was reading CYBER when I went in!” Ted’s voice was shaking. “Jon .. I would never DO such a thing, it’s not in me!”<BR><BR>“Is this playing HARDBALL, Ted? Is this what you meant?” Jon asked, now feeling angry.<BR><BR>JON! I am not BAD, I am only written that way!” Ted cried, pleading. “You KNOW I am trying to get these people OUT!” Ted’s attention was then diverted back to the CPU where the registration fluctuated wildly.. “LOOK! SEE! He’s now reading CYBER!”<BR><BR>To Jon’s shock, it was true. The process titled Guruthostirn had fluctuated and changed frequency to ‘cyber’. To both of their amazement, they watched as it switched back again. The process register changed the status to: Human.<BR><BR>“I believe you, Ted. How long? How long have they been in there now?” Jon whispered.<BR><BR>“Too long.” Ted said quietly. “It’s starting. They could all begin to degenerate.”<BR><BR>“And no going back. This one, he’s been injured.” Jon said. “Perhaps that is why he’s flipping in and out.<BR><BR>“Yeah.” Ted said, even more quietly, putting down the now uninteresting slice of pizza.<BR><BR>“We can’t afford to lose another one, Ted.” Jon said evenly.<BR><BR>“Another one?” Ted asked, perplexed.<BR><BR>“Or any of them.” Jon added as he took the mouse again and opened up the registration graph for the process ‘Lindonbayne’. On it nothing but a flat line displayed. Ted immediately buried his head in his hands. “How? When?” Ted then sat bolt upright. “I tell you, I had nothing to do with that!”<BR><BR>“I know, I know. She was attacked by one of her character’s enemies, mistaken for the character itself. Tragic. Wisteria alerted me.”<BR><BR>“Wisteria!” Ted exclaimed.<BR><BR>“Yeah, and I had to pull her in, Ted. She was out of control and with the FBI..”<BR><BR>“FBI!!” Ted shouted. He then buried his head once again in his hands.<BR><BR>“Yeah FBI. Think about it Ted, these people have been missing now for, well… how long?” He said, studying Guru’s graph, “It isn’t like we’ve had control over them, Rehabbing them, plugging them into the RBSFM site then processing them out with a temporal realignment.. so they never know they’ve been here.. or anywhere for that matter.” <BR><BR>“If the FBI learned even that much…” Ted said, speaking into his hands, his face still covered.<BR><BR>“If the FBI learn ANYTHING, or any of those acronym government agencies learn ANYTHING whatsoever…believe me, the world will never be the same. We’ve known this all along. Ted… it is up to you and me.” Jon said gravely. Ted dropped his hands and stared at Guru’s registration graph.<BR><BR>“OK.. This one is injured and we’ve got to help him right away.” Ted said matter of factly. “We could try it, Jon.”<BR><BR>“No. No, it is too risky. We’ve been over this Ted.” Jon said, shaking his head.<BR><BR>Off to the left, at one of the other consoles, the CPU suddenly activated itself and a sharp, repetitive beep sounded. On the screen appeared a rather ominous looking image..the bright red symbol for <a target=new href="http://www.geneticsaction.org.uk/biohazard/biohazard.wmf">‘biohazard’</a>.<BR><BR>The two men flew into action….
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Postby SilverScribe » Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:56 pm

<BR><i> When Bardhwyn stressed that Lys was “from Dale”, Scribbles had to make a concerted effort NOT to slap herself in the forehead and swear out loud. OF COURSE! Lysandros of Dale!! TORC Dale!! *What* had Wisteria been thinking?!! Unless she was completely unaware of the fact that the real life Lys had not ‘dropped’ into TORC? Had she assumed that because he was with the rest of them, he too had been sucked into the strange cyber world they found themselves in? A dull ache began behind her eyes, damn, it was far too early in the morning for this kind of headache to begin. And heaven knew, there was not going to be any such thing as Tylenol or Aleve in *this* part of the world . . . <BR><BR>The sharp, half-elven hearing caused her to look up sharply when Katie spoke and as Nessa/Susan hastily covered up the child’s question. What had the little girl said?<BR><BR>She returned her attention to the discussions going around the table. Finally, she rose and collected a few other plates, then took them to the sink where Nessa/Susan and Katie had begun the dishes. She winked at Katie then leaned over to Nessa/Susan and spoke very softly.</i><BR><BR>“It’s really thoughtful of you to do the dishes, but if we have to leave in a hurry, be prepared to leave them, okay? No one will mind, trust me.” <i> She gave Nessa/Susan an encouraging smile, then went and poured herself another half cup of Edain’s excellent coffee, before coming to stand opposite to where Bardhwyn was still seated at the table. She cleared her throat and looked directly at Lys, hoping everyone else would understand why she was phrasing her words as she was.</i><BR><BR>“Okay folks, we need to get moving and soon. Who knows what other Guildhouse has decided to use Black Riders in their game, but we can’t afford to get caught by them again. I’m going to start hauling some supplies out of that larder there, I’ll pile them on the table, everyone grab a bit of everything. Those who have waterskins with their packs, fill them now. I say we be ready to move inside of 30 minutes.”<BR><BR>“Move, but where?” <i>someone called out. Scribbles looked at Bardhywn, hard, then glanced to Wisteria.</i><BR><BR>“Well, we need to get to the next level, right? Isn’t that how these ‘games’, uh, like in Tom’s House, are played? And don’t they always make the next moves really unlikely, hard to guess? So I say we go somewhere, um, odd.”<BR><BR><i> She made a point of keeping her voice even, nonchalant. For the drop-ins, they should know the next level meant the next forum. For Lysandros, it should merely sound like a game.</i><BR><BR>“I doubt our opponents would even think to look for us in the Followers of Eru Guild . . . what do you all think?”<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Lysandros » Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:47 pm

<b>At the Eldar Estate</b><BR><BR><i>Things seemed somewhat straightened out with Bardhwyn...'helpless against his mighty B&G powers,' he silently smirked. When they finally entered the Eldar Estate BV was greeted with new faces, and the familiar, though inexplicable, visage of SilverScribe. New names soon were revealed, most of which conveyed nothing to BV, running with a pretty small (and select<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-tongue.gif"border=0>) crowd on TORC as he did. Cautiously he sat on a bench while SilverScribe began laying out the buffet over Lindonbayne's corpse. 'Usually there is a funeral at least, before dainties are served,' he frowned, appalled by this terrible lack of etiquette. But soon other things distracted him; </i><BR><BR>"...She axe murdered a Rehab program, that's how."<BR><BR>"...But here there are no hospitals, he is not a mortal, and the rules are changed."<BR><BR>"...but once LindonBayne died, really died, I got mad and fired off an email to Jon and Ted. This time, ThreadStalker was not put off by my stapler....her duties as a Mod are in conflict...Jon intended for you all to be returned home after only a short stay...but something is going on at the very top levels of TolkienOnline."<BR><BR><i>BV sat quietly. What SB had said now made sense. He was not dreaming...he had somehow been sucked into TORC and was now occupying his dead-awesome cyber-persona. So were the rest of these folks. Again the urge to reveal himself as BV arose, but this time he did not even need the programmed restraint of Admin to resist it. He did not want to reveal himself! <BR><BR>He thought about it....it now became obvious why the Black Riders had not attacked him at the Guildhouse of the Merry Bowmen of Dale; he was on their side. These folks were obviously stirring up trouble on TORC. 'Troublemakers!' BV hated them. Folks who thought TORC owed them something, that any kind of behaviour was justified, and that the whole system ought to be changed to suit their own immature and Real-World denied needs!<BR><BR>His breathing became heavy, and his hand tightened on his coffee mug, just as if he were sitting back in his basement reading the thread...he could see himself; nose twitching in disgust and whistling with the harsh intake of furious oxygen, lips pursed in anger and fist curled over mouse. 'Why can't they just enjoy TORC the way it is?' He could only imagine what Lindon had done to be killed. Admin and mods had always been thoroughly reasonable in their dealings with him. 'They were good people. What had these people done?' He would find out and put a stop to it!' He was distracted by Leoba,</i><BR><BR>"Besides, when we have such a skillful warrior to hand it’d be nuts to let him go when we don’t know where the road’s going to bend next." <BR><BR><i>For a moment his rage melted to admire Leoba's keen perception. Then when he returned to his internal scheming BV noticed the kid staring at him. His brow furrowed in return. 'Why did kids stare all the time?' It was no secret IRL that he did not care for children. They were loud, demanding, generally behaved terribly and quite often smelled. BV hated humouring people, and children demanded to be humoured constantly. The kid continued to stare right at him, and looked like it was thinking pretty hard. 'Fricken kids...'<BR><BR>SilverScribe began laying out plans for the group's next movement. BV was glad that Bardhwyn, or HJ or whatever, had spoken up for him already and his coming along was already settled. It would save him the trouble of another meandering speech to her about his duty to watch out for her. Where they were going he could not quite tell yet, though the mention of Tom's House and The Followers of Eru guild reinforced his confidence in the notion that he was not dreaming, but actually traversing Tolkien Online.<BR><BR>As advised, he loaded himself up with provisions though the few cups of coffee he had slung back would sustain him for hours. University had taught him just how much endurance could be garnered from that black seed.<BR></i>
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Postby Nessamelda » Mon May 12, 2003 7:07 pm

<b> We're still where we were last time you looked...</b><BR><BR>“I doubt our opponents would even think to look for us in the Followers of Eru Guild . . . what do you all think?”<BR><BR>The half-elven's comments was greeted with general agreement, and Katie sat there, still seething, waiting for something to happen. <BR><BR>The grown-ups had agreed, and yet they seemed strangely reluctant to make a move. Drinking coffee, talking quietly. That big blond boofhead was still giving Katie funny looks. She glared back again. There was definitely something odd about him. He was real all right, like the others. In fact more real. The longer they sat there doing nothing the hazier the grown-ups were getting. More and more in character. She looked up at her mother. And up was the key word. Mummy was growing again, getting thinner, tighter lipped. That nasty Duchess was taking over again. This called for action.<BR><BR>"Mummy" she said, in a loud voice. "are we going to start? Are we going to get going soon. Mummy I'm boooored. Are you going to sit here having coffee all day? When are we going. Mummy?"<BR><BR>"yes dear, soon dear" said Susan, hazily. Everything seemed to be a bit blurry. They really ought to be going somewhere, but nothing was happening. It was as though everyone was waiting for something to happen, some order from somewhere.<BR><BR>Katie could almost have screamed. For a moment indeed, she considered the option of having a class A tantrum in the middle of the floor, to try to get the adults back into reality and away from their obsession with being something that they weren't. She decided, however, with some regret, that really a six year old could not get away with that. At least that big blond chap had the right idea - he was at least getting himself ready. She grinned to herself. Well if she couldn't attract their attention maybe he would. They all seemed so intent on not upsetting him...<BR><BR>Katie reached across the breakfast table, apparently in search of the last bread roll and deliberately knocked the recently refilled coffee pot straight into Lysandros's lap....now that ought to get their attention and wake them up a bit....<BR><BR>
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Postby wisteria » Thu May 15, 2003 10:49 pm

<i>Wiste saw Katie's hand move toward the coffeepot, but understood her intent too late. Before she could react, the hot liquid spilled over the table and all over Lysandros. <BR><BR></i>
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Postby EdaintheRanger » Fri May 16, 2003 5:27 am

Edain/EM finished with the coffee and followed the conversations as they drifted back and forth. He twiddled his thumbs and figeted uneasily as a result of the caffine demon that was now dancing in his nervous system. Sure coffee was good but it played havoc with his guts, they twisted and squirmed. The inactivity played on his mind, and perhaps he just needed a breath of fresh air to take his mind off things.<BR><BR>Using the "accidently on purpose" coffee spillage as a distraction, EM grabbed his stuff and slipped outside. Once outside the Eldar Estate building he breathed loosely. Breathing deeper he tried to taste the air, and knew that it wasn't real, no matter how much he wanted it to be. It was a simulated smell, like this whole place was. At that moment EM felt a longing to be home, in England, not this ethereal place. Making himself inconspicous and gathering his wits (not to mention Edain's as well) he scouted out the immediate area. At this time EM was glad that he had spent so much time developing his "Edain" character back in the dimmed halls of the "real world", it seemed to make his immediate task of scouting easier, he became aware of tracks and disturbances that he was sure he would never have noticed in RL. The ease at which he could recall herbal remedies that he had never known had existed also amazed him. However in return for all this new found confidence in ranger skills he also found himself saddled with the angst and struggles of a man younger than himself, a most odd and ambivalent feeling.<BR><BR>He found no traces of danger in the immediate area. Being aware that many dangers could well be "unseen" and having seen the "Ringwraiths" abroad, he tuned his senses. Procuring a source of fire (Dead wood and dry rags) and being proficient in the wonders of the flint and steel in RL as well as in RP, he thus armed himself against most forms of ghostly horror and other ghastly fiends for that matter. Being a concencious TORCer (i.e. one whom abided by the TOS, and even a member of the"Mod appreciation society" ) he was still at loss as to the reasons for his being here. Dispite the whispers of a consipiracy, and of dark deeds by the site founders, EM couldn't believe that people whom had created such a useful web site could behave so unreasonably. Disregarding the near overwhelming feeling to roll his eyes at the whole situation, he found himself wishing that he could shine a blue lantern (or maybe torch in Edain's case) and have the dark mysteries of this swirling ether revealed. With a flair for the melodramatic he stared up at the sky imploringly. Not allowing himself to dispair a new train of thought steamed into his main brain station, and he considered the possibility of setting up a distress signal in a popular thread. The aim being that the outside world could see progess of the trapped torcers now that Wist was now here in Torc with the rest of them. He disregarded that too, not something to be attempted without discussion with the others.<BR><BR>So much for EM striking out on his own, he felt the adage "safety in numbers" ring in his mind. The young ranger decided to make his way back to the Estate building, blinking as a flurry of electronic Torcers whizzed past, the mere electronic signatures of RL people accessing their favourite website.
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Postby SilverScribe » Sat May 17, 2003 10:29 am

<BR><b> Yes, yes, as Nessa said, STILL in the Eldar’s kitchen . . . </b><BR><BR><BR><i>Scribbles chose several things from the loaded table, ,then went to her pack where it leaned against a wall. As the child Katie set up a pleading litany, Scribbles opened the pack and began pushing supplies into it. Some heavy rye bread wrapped in oiled paper, a packet of what looked like venison jerky, also wrapped in oiled paper, and a cloth bag of what looked like firm, sweet Gala apples. There was also a couple of small rounds of wax-covered cheese and a packet of tea leaves. All of it went in next to the odd, leaf-wrapped packet that she had suspected was lembas, but had not yet had the nerve to confirm. She filled her waterskin at the hand-pump and looped the carrying rope through one of the rings sewn to the upper portion of her pack. After checking the wrapping on the Elven longbow, she closed the top flap of her pack and tied it closed, then tied the bow diagonally across the finished pack. At a sudden loud exclamation, she turned to see how the rest were faring. <BR><BR>She had to turn away slightly to keep from laughing as Lysandros leaped up from his place, brushing frantically at his lap which was now soaked from belt to thigh with coffee. Katie stood opposite, a sweet roll to her lips, defiantly staring at the Master Archer. There was something going on there, but what it was, Scribbles could not imagine. She shrugged mentally, perhaps the child was simply enamoured of the big blonde Archer, though judging by the look on his face, the feeling definitely did not look to be mutual.<BR><BR>She raised an eyebrow at Edain as he passed. He had a familiar look on his face, uneasy, wary and was that a touch of impatience? She sighed, understanding the feelings. She too was getting increasingly frustrated with the circumstances, she wanted to get moving, and soon. She could not help the overwhelming feeling that was building in the back of her mind, they were sitting targets the longer they *sat*.</i><BR><BR>“Right!!” <i> she announced, tugging the last strap tight. She set the pack aside and put both hands on her hips, then looked pointedly at the shrouded form of Lindon, still lying on the bench to one side. As the conversation in the room faded, all faces turned towards her.</i><BR><BR>“What are we to do with Lindon?” <i> she asked, the tone of her voice clearly businesslike and no-nonsense. </i> “We *cannot* afford to waste any more time and I for one am not about to wait about to be caught like a fly in Shelob’s web! We need to move people, and now.”<BR><BR>“But what about Running Deer?” <i> someone asked. <BR><BR>Scribbles cocked her head to one side.</i> “Someone mentioned she was resting comfortably upstairs, asleep. Let’s just leave her that way. We can be out of her before she wakes, and hopefully, in her muddled state she will simply have a nice visit with her Eldar friends, then wander on her merry, Modly way. Her fate, like Lindon’s, is no longer in our hands.” <i> She glared as Lysandros stifled a groan at her mangled FOTR quote.</i><BR><BR>“Our concerns must be for the group now,” <i> she continued. </i> “Guru must be fit to travel and Lindon, sad as it is, must be laid to rest. We must be practical here, or we are in danger of “ <i> she stopped herself from saying ‘caught by the Mods and thrown in TORC Rehab’. </i> “er, getting caught out and losing this game big time. I heard the losers get a temporary ban, a month or something.” <i> She knew it sounded lame, but could not think of anything else that would not give their unique ‘situation’ away to the smug, overly cocky and insufferably B&G Master Archer.</i><BR><BR>“Make whatever arrangements, but make them fast. I’m going for some fresh air, then I am leaving for the Followers of Eru Guildhouse.”<BR><BR><i> She turned on her heel and headed for the door, passing Edain on the way out as he returned. She paused only long enough to growl, </i> “Get them moving if you can, or by the Valar, we are all lost.”<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby wisteria » Sat May 17, 2003 10:48 am

<b>getting ready to <i>leave</i> the Eldar Estate</b><BR><BR>"Oh, dear," <i>exclaimed Wiste as she suddenly saw a way out. The trick was to get everyone else out and leave Lys behind -- since he was just a character and not a real life person. </i> <BR><BR>"Oh, dear," <i>she said again.</i> "I guess Lysandros, you'll have to stay here and make arrangements with the other members of the Eldar Estate, since you certainly can't travel in those clothes, and we really must be going, since we don't want to get cau . . er, be late!" <BR><BR><i>She gathered a few apples for her pockets, having no pack, no supplies, and no time to go the to Weaver's Guild to get some. She'd have to rely on the kindness of strangers here. Well, okay, the kindness of cyberfriends. <BR><BR>She grabbed Nessa by the arm, nodding her head in Katie's direction.</i> "Come on, we need to follow Scribbles, Lysandros can take care of Lindon. Let's go!" <i>And she headed outside, hoping the others would simply pick up her cue to "snowball" the cyber tag-a-long. </i><BR><BR><BR><BR>edited for italics
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Postby Lysandros » Mon May 19, 2003 8:08 pm

<b>Still in the Eldar Estate</b><BR><BR><i>When the volcanic liquid hit his waist a roar of pain erupted from BV; a cry motivated as much by searing pain as by outrage. The lil' brat had done it on purpose he could swear. She was practically smiling now. 'Oh for corporal punishment!' he thought.<BR><BR>Much activity seemed to coincide with his discomfort: preparations to depart intensified while he tried to squeeze the coffee out of his tunic. Though when Scribbles growled at Edain to get them all moving he shot a look at the Ranger to make plain that he would obey orders from the Strider-wannabe the day he could bend over and bite his own rear end. (Though of course many torcers had long held that BV's head had indeed been there a long time already) But he was distracted by Wisteria's words.</i><BR><BR>"I guess Lysandros, you'll have to stay here and make arrangements with the other members of the Eldar Estate, since you certainly can't travel in those clothes, and we really must be going, since we don't want to get cau . . er, be late!" <BR><BR><i>With a bit more bluster she hustled out the door, seemingly very eager to get on without Lysandros. Others began to try and melt out the door as well, saddling him with the corpse of someone he didn;t even know in a house that he had utterly nothing to do with. <BR><BR>'Won't do, man, won't do...don't let them get away. DUDE! Go go go!'<BR><BR>Loud enough for the few that were still in the kitchen to hear he suddenly chimed in,</i><BR><BR>"So I will just take Lindonbayne to a moderator and meet you in the Followers of Eru?" <i>He did not even have to fake the timid desperation in his voice. Though he suddenly realized that he knew where they were all going and that was a weapon. At the very least, as a spiteful bit of vengeance for his sudden ditching, he could run out and tattle on the lot of the miscreants. He looked at Bardhwyn inquiringly, and feeling a little more confident.</i> <BR><BR>"Should I do that?"
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Postby Cotume » Fri Jun 13, 2003 4:31 am

<b>The Prancing Pony</b> <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> <BR> <BR><i>Cotume jumped with a start, her black eyes darting about her. Something was amiss. She could not tell what, yet she knew something had changed, something very important. <BR>The half-orc looked down at the ground as she tried to recall her last actions. <BR>There had been a brief battle, she had fought the foundling, and yes! She had fought Lindonbayne. There were no bodies so the two must have survived the scuffle. There was blood on her dark green riding clothes, her own and that of another. She smeared it with her fingertips, it was still warm. <BR> <BR>Why could she not remember any of this? Had she injured her head? Unlikely, as she felt no serious wound. Amidst her confusion, she felt the rage boil up in her. Her prey had got away again. <BR>What had started as a passing assassination attempt had twisted into a cruel game of cat and mouse, fuelled by her hatred of her elven kin, she was now bent on destroying Lindonbayne. She somehow sensed that she had done her wrong, though she did not know why. Cotume’s quest of revenge was consuming her, slow enough to remain undetected. <BR> <BR>She looked around, searching for her faithful companion. Sure enough, the familiar footfall of her steed, Red Flame, could be heard in a nearby glade. She strode up to her horse, his red eyes blazing against the stunning black of his coat, and hopped onto the sadle. Red Flame snorted as Cotume spurred him, riding off in the direction of the faint blood trail left by her foes. <BR>
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Postby Bardhwyn » Fri Jun 13, 2003 8:44 am

<b>...and yes, they have almost departed the Eldar Estate...</b> <BR> <BR>Bardhwyn narrowed her eyes slightly at Lysandros’ question. ‘Should he?’ Something told her ‘no’ yet, it was clear that his presence was, well, not exactly ‘warmly received’ by her companions and perhaps they should part ways. <BR> <BR>Then again… <BR> <BR>She reached out and took the man’s hand. “Are you all right? Did the coffee burn you?” She could sense him stiffen a bit at this gesture ~ he really was insufferable at times. Around them both the ‘players’ shuffled about, grabbing fruit, wrapping uneaten bread. In response to her query, Lysandros shrugged a bit and Bardhwyn released his hand and picked up her pack from underneath her feet. <BR> <BR>“Here,” she said, sliding a little pot of salve over to the Master Archer. “It is a salve. It works very well. It was given to me by a Ranger. I met him..” She blushed and then suddenly caught herself short forgetting who she was talking too. “Ah.. a while back. Nevermind.. look, Lys…” <BR> <BR>She couldn’t help it. .the words fell out of her mouth.. <BR> <BR>“This ‘game’ we’re playing, the stakes are high, Lys.” She glanced over at Lindonbayne’s body. “The weapons are real, you’ve seen them. I can’t tell you what to do, none of us can. If you decide to follow us, well.. some of the others won’t be pleased ~ let’s be honest.” Bardhwyn said with an apologetic expression. She continued with a whisper. “I would feel better though.” <BR> <BR>She let the words hang there for a few seconds. “Lys, I really want to live to see the end of this and I don’t know if I will.” <BR> <BR>Bardhwyn blinked a few times, forcing the little rim of moisture on the bottom lid of her eyes back…CRAP! She hated when she got like this. Seeing a few pieces of fruit and some cheese within reach, she took them up and began stuffing them into her bag. <BR> <BR>“I recall seeing a scrap pile of wood way at the end of the garden. Let’s cremate our friend. We can leave a note, explaining…if that is what you want to do Lys? Otherwise.. I will go and you can take the other's suggestion. Oh, but can I have the salve back before I go?” <BR>
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Postby Bardhwyn » Fri Jun 13, 2003 8:52 am

<b>Room 536, The Holiday Inn, somewhere in Southern California...</b> <BR> <BR>Scully stood at the window of the EconoLodge or Super8 or wherever they were and listened, patiently to Muldar exude. <BR> <BR>“DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS!” He exclaimed. The three computer geeks had also got themselves wound up tighter than a ten day clock. <BR> <BR>“It is MIND BLOWING!” Frohicke chimed in! “The potential for the COMPLETE VIRTUAL GAME EXPERIENCE!” <BR> <BR>“Man! If Bill Gates gets a hold of this…” Byers started. <BR> <BR>“Bill Gates! NEVERMIND BILL GATES…what about the Government!” Byers said, surprisingly commanding everyone’s attention. <BR> <BR>“Or another Government.” Scully said from the window. “Let’s face it guys. If everything you say is true, the applications are …well, frightening. It doesn’t get us any closer to finding those missing persons Muldar. If they *are* in there, we have to help them.” <BR> <BR>The red headed voice of reason speaks yet again. The four men stood speechless for a moment. <BR> <BR>“Guys, can you get me in there?” Muldar asked. <BR>
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Postby Guruthostirn » Fri Jun 13, 2003 5:14 pm

<i>RLM was still dazed from his injuries. The pain seemed to fluctuate with how conscious he was. When he was really out of it, he could tell that the pain didn't prevent him from doing anything, but while he was more aware, he was almost unable to do anything.<BR><BR>Several people were helping him move. RLM looked at them, wondering what was going on in their heads. They all seemed to be normal, or at least as normal as possible in their current predicament. Listening to their comments, he could tell they were aware of the swings of consciousness going on in him, and were clearly bewildered by the effects on his mobility that accompanied them. RLM wished he could tell them why.<BR><BR>After the fight, RLM hadn't been unconscious. He didn't know where he'd ended up, but it wasn't the part of TORC that he was familier with. Perhaps a hidden section. RLM didn't understand where they were and what they were in enough to make any good guesses. However, he'd learned quite a bit while there. He'd never thought that characters were like that.<BR><BR>It had been very amusing. So seldom to authors get to meet their literary creations. Yet in that strange space, he had. Anorast was a far more developed individual than RLM had written. When he'd been working on the character, he'd only given an outline, but here, in this place where characters were real, Anorast was a fully developed individual. What RLM had written had all been accurate, but there was so much more. And the character had changed since he'd originally written it. Some of the changes bemused him, and made him wonder what would happen if RLM ran into a certain individual. Complications galore!<BR><BR>Despite all his amazement at Anorast, it was merely a footnote in the incident. The two, the creator, and the character, had been able to talk. For the first time, they were completely seperate. And both had worked to understand what was happening. After only a short time, RLM had given up on explaining to Anorast anything about himself, other than the simplest concept of the current situation. Within that, however, the two had come to understand many, many things, particularly regarding what had happened on the Eldar Estate grounds. RLM knew now why he had felt like he was watching a movie as his body launched an extremely skilled attack on the Dark Riders.<BR><BR>With a bump, the world intruded on RLM's musings. The group appeared to be moving, but was stopped. Looking around, RLM wondered who would be next, and whether they would be able to fit with their character, to work with their character, as he now could. And he wondered whether they knew the risk they faced, if they could not escape quickly. Discovery, or worse, assimilation. RLM had escaped the second, and understood the danger, but he knew nothing of what was in store for the entire group if The Powers That Be came to know of their location.</i>
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Postby Nessamelda » Fri Jun 13, 2003 8:59 pm

<b>We're out of the door....nearly...</b><BR><BR>Susan was almost being dragged out of the Eldar estate by Wisteria, but Katie was not following, just standing there giving an odd look at Lysandros. Why was the child so fascinated by the tall stranger? He was only a character, a figment of someone else's imagination, or so Bardhwyn had implied. Then Susan ran Lysandros' last sentence through her head one more time. If he was really a character, then how on earth (or wherever) did he know about moderators?. Yes Scribbles had mentioned them in front of him...but they wouldn't make sense to your average pseudo-medieval construct. She shrugged. Bardy should know, after all - she knew the character well-enough, by all accounts, and seemed to have the situation in hand.<BR><BR>Katie was still standing there. "He ought to come with us mummy. He's not very nice, but he's safer with us" She had decided that although she didn't like him at all, he was after all, Real. She could tell. She could see. It wouldn't be right to leave him behind. Besides, she had learnt at school, that the best way to keep the boys out of mischief if they had something mean on their minds was to keep a close eye on them and not let them out of your sight for a second.<BR><BR>"Come-on, child!" Something of Alfirin's imperious tones came through in the last command. Katie frowned, but followed her mother. The sooner they all got out of there the better, before the real people got lost in their pretend fairy stories.
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Postby wisteria » Wed Jun 18, 2003 2:53 pm

<b>Just outside the Eldar's . . .</b><BR><BR><BR><i>The group was almost fully assembled -- finally. With a wink at Scribbles, Wiste started down the path to the back door of the Eldar Estate. She wasn't sure exactly how to find the Followers of Eru thread, but she knew she could see the spires of the guild hall once she was back on the main thoroughfare.<BR><BR>The knowledge brought her up short. How did she know that? She had never been here before -- this place didn't even exist in Real Life. It was a cyber creation invented for the purposes of making the TORC universe understandable to those characters that lived there.<BR><BR>With a sudden clarity, the woman realized she not only knew that she would find the spires of the Eru guild house, but that she knew exactly how to get to the Weaver's Guild, the Chocolate Guild house and even the forest of Fangorn! The mind of cyberWiste was starting to meld with her own.<BR><BR>In a sudden hurry, Wisteria beckoned to the others.</i> "Come on, we're running out of time!"
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Postby Lysandros » Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:21 pm

<i>The ruse of BV had worked, too well, and he found himself a little uncomfortable with the way he could apparently work Bardhwyn's emotions; or were they HJ's? A tremor of exasperation ran through him at the thought of that.</i><BR><BR>"I recall seeing a scrap pile of wood way at the end of the garden. Let’s cremate our friend. We can leave a note, explaining…if that is what you want to do Lys? Otherwise.. I will go and you can take the other's suggestion. Oh, but can I have the salve back before I go" <i>she said.<BR><BR>He held out the salve, which he had not even used, and gathered himself.</i> "Let us see to your friend." <i>He sighed, refraining from emulating Bardhwyn's use of the term 'our friend'; Lindon was nothing to him, having never met her. <BR><BR>The mighty frame of Lysandros lifted the corpse with ease and Bardhwyn led the way out back and to the place where the woodpile lay. While BV walked he pondered her words 'the weapons are real, you’ve seen them. I can’t tell you what to do, none of us can.' At first he found this amusing; the thought of being waylaid by cybergeeks in chainmail wielding swords heavier than they were. But then he recalled that like himself, these geeks would be inhabiting their TORC personas; and so, likely they were all the second coming of Legolas; possessing superhuman strength, agility, cunning, and, no doubt, irresistable sexual prowess.<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-rolleyes.gif"border=0> He WOULD have to be careful, to be certain. Luckily even he, BV, was not entirely immune to the vane attractions of TORC-fantasy. A small flaw to be sure, but it made sure that Lysandros was no slouch in arms.<BR><BR>After setting Lindon's body on the grass the two piled up the pyre. The work was swiftly done, and indeed had not gone unnoticed as several of their party had returned to lend a hand in this grim endeavour. BV felt guilty that no pang of sorrow gnawed him. The others seemed greatly affected by grief while he, who did not know Lindon, found himself clinically analysing all that went on around him. Edain and SB gently set the body on the timbers and for a moment all were silent. BV almost wished he could feel sympathy, as it was without the slightest stirring of emotion that he placed a firming arm around Bardhwyn to comfort her. Instead he felt guilty that that the notion of this kindness occurred to him only because he feared he might appear conspicuous if he did not.<BR><BR>SilverScribe produced a flame to light the ever-consuming fire that would herald their departure from the Guild of the Eldar....</i>
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Postby SilverScribe » Thu Aug 28, 2003 1:12 pm

<BR><BR><b> At the Eldars, then at the Followers of Eru . . . </b><BR><BR><BR>Scribbles went out of the kitchen door with a feeling of immense relief. Once outside, she scanned the Eldar Estates grounds for any sign of the returning riders, odd shifts or anomalies or other TORC Moderators. For the moment, it appeared they had a little time.<BR><BR>She heard Wisteria come up behind her and turned. Nessa and Katie too, had grabbed what provisions they had packed and left the Eldar's kitchens with the pretty weaver. Wisteria gave a mischievous wink then started down the path to the back gates of the Estate. The other moved to follow, but Scribbles put up a hand in the age old and universal signal to stop. Wisteria turned back and beckoned. "Come on, we're running out of time!" she called.<BR><BR>Still, Scribbles hestiated. Something told her that it would not do for the group to become separated again, as they had before when Bardhwyn, Leoba and Elenath had gone off and she herself had gone to look for them. No. They *must* all stay together, well, except for that insufferable character of the Master Archer. *Him* she could happily leave to his own fate, especially since there was something very suspicious about him. She hoped Bardy would be able to get Big, Blonde and Gigantic off their tails.<BR><BR>"Wiste, wait!" she called to the weaver, who stopped but remained where she was, impatience clear on her face.<BR><BR>Scribbles turned back as the rest of what remained of their company trooped out into the early sunlight. Vana was helping Guruthostirn, who was walking but still looked weary and slightly pained. Leoba followed and after a quick visual scan for SmaugsBane, smiled as Edain slipped out of some underbrush and re-joined the little band. Scribbles dropped her voice low. "Much as we need to hurry, we will not split up again. No matter how odd it may look to anyone else, this group *must* stay together now. To separate now will only increase the opportunities for the Mods to pick us off, one by one. You all know what we are up against."<BR><BR>As she finished speaking the kitchen door swung open again, and she sighed inwardly as Lysandros appeared with the sheet wrapped body of Lindon cradled in his arms, carried as easlily as if she were a sleeping child. Though the face of the Master Archer was calm, Scribbles caught a hint of something in his eyes. Confusion? Dread? Revulsion? Desperation? She couldn't be sure, but the peredhel side of her senses hinted to her that the man was uncomfortable. Still, she wished he was anywhere but here.<BR><BR>Bardhwyn followed and murmured their plan to cremate Lindon's body as she passed the tall peredhel. Scribbles nodded, then motioned for Wiste to re-join them as she, along with the rest, followed along behind the Master Archer.<BR><BR>Everyone pitched in gathering and stacking the pile of wood scraps and dead, pruned branches into a rough pyre. Once Edain and SB had placed the body, Lys turned to Scribbles with one raised eyebrow.<BR><BR>Without a second thought, she closed her eyes, drew a quick, steadying breath to prepare, then opened her eyes and stepped up to the pyre. Licking her thumb and forefinger, she reached into the pile to grasp some of the finer branches. With a whispered command, "naur", the wood burst into flame.<BR><BR>They all stood silently for a few long moments, watching the dry wood roar into quick, hot life. Soon the flames all but obscured the small, shrouded figure, and Bardhwyn leaned against Lysandros even as the Master Archer put a steadying arm around her waist. Scribbles whispered a quiet elvish verse to speed Lindon to the Halls of Mandos, then bit her lip and turned to the group, purposely avoiding the eyes of the Master Archer.<BR><BR>"Right. No more delays, we need to get moving or, uh, the game might be lost. Next stop, Followers of Eru. Absolutely no one leaves the group, understood? And do try to look casual?"<BR><BR>Without waiting for a reply, she picked up her pack and headed for the rear gate, Wisteria quickly coming to walk on one side of her. They moved through the gate and into the main thoroughfare of the Alliances Forum and keeping a moderate, unhurried pace, made their way past other Guild Houses and Alliance tents.<BR><BR>Someone tugged at her sleeve and she turned to see Vana, smiling apologetically at her elbow. "Scribbles, I know you cannot stop but I really do need to attend to a tiny bit of business here," the other pretty half elf said softly, nodding her head at a small but well built Guildhouse. "I will be quick, and I will join you at the Followers of Eru's tent, trust me."<BR><BR>"Vana," Scribbles started, only to be stopped by Vana putting a slim forefinger to her own lips and shaking her blonde head slightly. "Hush, I know what you would say, but don't worry."<BR><BR>"I cannot help but worry," Scribbles answered with a slight smile. "All of us will worry about you, this is no ordinary journey through TORC."<BR><BR>Vana nodded. "I know, I know."<BR><BR>"How long should we wait then," Scribbles asked as the last of the group passed them, following Wisteria who has confidently heading towards the large, white tent that housed the Followers of Eru. Vana shrugged, then reached out to squeeze Scribbles' forearm in a comforting gesture. "If I am not there in oh, an hour, leave without me."<BR><BR>"No Vana, we will leave no one behind, it is not safe," Scribbles insisted quietly.<BR><BR>"Scribbles, trust me, I shall be safe. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. One of the benefits of good Elvish blood, I suppose," she finished with a smile.<BR><BR>Scribbles realized that she had to trust the other peredhel, after all, would she not expect the same from Vana if their positions were reversed? She drew a deep breath, then took Vana's hands in her own and squeezed them gently. "I understand. An hour then, and no longer. And if we are to be parted here and now, keep your head down and stay safe my friend."<BR><BR>Vana's smile widened and she laughed softly, a light, silvery sound. "Oh, we shall meet again my friend, no matter what. And if this is indeed our parting, then I wish you all safe journey as well." Vana let go her hands and turned into the doorway of the Twilight Guild with a farewell wave.<BR><BR>Scribbles hurried to catch up with the rest as they paused at the massive flap of the white tent, desperately trying to formulate answers to questions that she knew would be asked.<BR><BR>
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Postby Nessamelda » Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:12 pm

<b>At the Follower's of Eru's tent </b><BR><BR> The acrid smell of something burning (Susan didn't want to think too hard about exactly what they could smell) followed them to the tent of the Follower's of Eru.<BR><BR>"Is this it?" she asked in some surprise. She had visualised a rather grander home for such a group, with spires and arches and gothic architecture and perhaps stained glass windows . But apparently not. It was a simple plain white canvas tent adorned only with a plain symbol of a cross. In a way more fitting, she decided after some reflection. <BR><BR>The funeral pyre had badly upset Katie. Tears were running down her face, and she looked up in shock at Scribbles.<BR><BR>"You, you...burnt her? How could you burn her?"<BR><BR>Scribbles looked down at the upset child, and answered gently.<BR><BR>"Lindon travels to the Halls of Mandos. It is only her body that burns"<BR><BR>Katie looked puzzled for a second.<BR><BR>"Like Heaven?" she asked.<BR><BR>"Like Heaven; it's where the Elves go after their body dies", said Susan.<BR><BR>Katie looked up at her mother, and frowned. But Lindon wasn't really an elf. She was a grown-up who thought she was an elf. She shook her head and shivered, then wiped her nose on her sleeve.<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Lysandros » Sat Sep 27, 2003 9:53 am

<b>Just outside the Followers of Eru tent</b><BR><BR><i>BV walked along near the rear of the group, his arm around Bardhwyn and helping her on the way. Her head was downturned, uncaring of where they were going. Ordinarily BV might have tried to comfort her, but he found his heart empty of gentle words. Instead his mind buzzed unnaturally and some instinct kept his eyes shifting rapidly, trying to take in everything around him. He noted the departure of Vana, and for some reason this fact seemed very important, though he could not imagine why. He had never even heard of the Twilight Guild, but he was sure it had nothing to do with Edge of Sanity's Purgatory Afterglow album. Suddenly Bardhyn spoke, her voice quiet so only he could hear it, but her gaze was still rivetted on the ground.</i><BR><BR>"Lys, what is the matter? You are as tense as a bowstring."<BR><BR><i>Unease rippled though him. This woman thought she was talking to Lys, a man written as her (very awkward and frustrating) romantic interest. But if this was actually HJ, what the hell did she expect? The thought of a rational intelligent woman seeking comfort from a nonexistent fantasy character...was he supposed to be Prince Valiant or something? She continued on after a moment of his baffled silence.</i><BR><BR>"She was a person you know. She had a life and now she is gone. Don't you care?"<BR><BR><i>A fist curled angrily to clench at the back of his cloak.</i><BR><BR>"This is not one of your stupid Bowmen missions where you can just pursue your end regardless of the cost. If people die in this, it MATTERS Lys!"<BR><BR><i>Now she was chewing him out? No, she was chewing out Lysandros. What could HJ hope to accomplish by laying venom down on a fictional character? BV wondered who he was leading along here, HJ or Bardhwyn. HJ was too rational to bother trying to instill a morality scheme in a virtual character, he was pretty positive of that. If she really was trying to make her way through TORC there would be no gain in that, it would be a waste of time. Lys was the way BV had written him and would not change. So why the hell was she bothering!? Something was screwing up her emotions, like they were getting sucked along by TORC-reality. Like she was becoming a TORC character. He needed time to elaborate on that thought, but HJ was becoming agitated. He needed to stall with something suitably Lysandresque.</i><BR><BR>"I was not there to save Lindon, or perhaps matters would be different now. But I am here. None in this group will suffer her fate while I can wield a brand."<BR><BR><i>BV rolled his eyes subconsciously. 'That was so weak dude. Where did you dig that crap up?' But it seemed to do the trick as HJ's body slackened.</i><BR><BR>"I'm sorry Lys. Its not your fault." <i>She turned as her arms slid around him and she draped her body in embrace over him. He held her tightly, motivated more than a little by an instinct to survive and remain inconspicuous. It was a needy embrace though; more Bardhywn than HJ, it occured to him out of nowhere. Then the voice of Dirk stirred them to move onwards.<BR><BR>In a short while they were before a white tent with a cross on it. 'This is the Followers of Eru Guild?' thought BV in surprise. He had not realized that it was a guild for christians. 'Why the hell do we need to come here?' His body trembled in revulsion. He didn't think he could enter. But he needed to phrase his reluctance in TORC terms so that he could find out what need forced them into the Lion's Den.</i><BR><BR>"Scribe, what use is it to come here? Surely a warrior's guild would serve us better if we fear to be assailed? Eru and his minions no longer care for us."<BR><BR>
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Postby SilverScribe » Sat Sep 27, 2003 7:52 pm

<BR><b> outside the Eldar's, then at the Followers of Eru </b><BR><BR><BR>The soft, plaintive voice of Katie tore at Scribbles' heart. What could she say? The answer came to her lips automatically, she answered as only the peredhel would have. However, it troubled her nearly the entire way to the Followers of Eru Guild, even after Vana had left them. Her reveries were interrupted by a familiar, and annoying, voice.<BR><BR><i>"Scribe, what use is it to come here? Surely a warrior's guild would serve us better if we fear to be assailed? Eru and his minions no longer care for us."</i><BR><BR>Scribbles drew a deep, steadying breath, letting it out slowly while her brain furiously spun through all the possible answers she could give. She had to remind herself sharply that "Lysandros" was not one of "them". He was a cyber creation, a part of the TORC program and as such, was not privy to the general plan the rest of them had made what seemed like ages ago in the Scriptorium - the first forum they had "broken into" after their escape from the TORC dungeons.<BR><BR>She glanced at Bardhwyn, hoping that her eyes reflected her thoughts, <i>'Can't we dump this lumbering mound of insufferably gigantic ego? Pleeeeeeeeeze?!!!'</i> Then she had a thought.<BR><BR>TORC's Lysandros of Dale was not exactly overly fond of her character, the Scribe. In the Bowmen Guild as well as the TORC Role Play "The Merry Bowmen of Dale", their character's interactions were usually heavily laced with tension and no small antagonism. Could she use that? Did she have a choice?<BR><BR>She held the tent flap open and let the rest of the party file in before answering the big, blonde Daleman. As he and Bardhwyn paused at the entrance she dropped the flap and her voice.<BR><BR>"There are times, Master Archer, when to do the obvious will only lead you into a trap. However, here is an unexpected sactuary, if you will. In the particular contest we are currently in, brains may often serve better than brawn. There is a certain advantage in stealth and evasion, and this place will afford us the opportunity for both. If you do not feel up to the mental exercise, by all means draw your sword and take yourself to any one of the "warrior" guilds. But remember that an army without wisdom and purpose is like a blind dragon. Big and strong yes, but likely to blunder into the wrong place at the wrong time due to lack of foresight, thinking or planning."<BR><BR>She pulled the tent flap up and gave Bardhwyn a meaningful glance. "<b>You</b> remember our purpose and our path, don't you Archer?" she asked softly, then slipped into the tent, leaving them standing in the early morning sunshine.<BR><BR>The rest of the group had gathered quietly to one side. There were several low stages set around the tent, some had a speaker surrounded by an attentive group of people, others were empty. Still other areas of the vast tent boasted groupings of comfortable chairs and a long table with the requisite coffee, tea and hot water urns stood to the other side of the tent flap. Here and there, groups of people talked quietly, exhanging news or bowing their heads briefly in prayer. All in all, it was a calm, peaceful place yet there was an undercurrent of purpose, support and quiet joy.<BR><BR>She re-joined the group. "Where to now?" someone whispered. <BR><BR>Scribbles looked around, her eyes narrowed. "Spread out, try to blend in,," she whispered back. "My guess is that there has to be another one of those odd "doorways" in here that should take us right into the Choirs of Eru. We need to find it and whoever does, remember it. I say we meet back at the refreshment table in an hour, regardless, in order to check in and see what anyone has turned up."<BR><BR>"Why would the door to Choirs be in here?" another voice piped up.<BR><BR>Scribbles looked around to make sure Lysandros was not present to overhear, then shrugged and spread her hands. "At the end of the day, TORC is really just a computer program, so I'm using a leap of logic here that some link exists on the keyword "Eru". It just seems, well, appropriate," she finished lamely.<BR><BR>She interrupted the murmur of conversation that followed. "Look, I'm also thinking that the Choirs forum will be as quick an entrance and exit as the Scriptorium was, with no real surprises to slow us down. From there, if I remember it right, the next door should get us into the Prancing Pony forum and there is where I think our greatest safety lies. In more ways than one," she finished with a meaningful look towards the entrance of the tent.<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Cotume » Tue Sep 30, 2003 7:56 am

<BR><b>The Prancing Pony</b><BR><BR><i>Cotume rode on through the wood, weaving Red Flame through the tightly packed trees. She smelled her way towards Lindonbayne and Hitharien, following the scent of their blood. It grew stronger the farther she went, she was closing in on the pair, and what was of more interest to the half-orc, was that one of them was bleeding severely. A wry smile crept over the assassin’s face as she recognised whose blood she was following. Lindonbayne was badly wounded, and although she could not remember it, Cotume knew it had been done by her own hand. She spurred Red Flame on, now even more determined than before to finish what had started so many generations ago.<BR>As she rode, she wondered why she was compiling an account of her journey inside her head. It was like monologue at its most extreme. She noted the shades of green and brown of the trees, the wind in her face and how it tussled her black hair and stung her dark eyes. She felt compelled to write down just how the searing pain which spread from her wound down through her left eye and cheek, how the blood tasted salty and warm as it trickled down to her mouth.<BR>As this running commentary went on and on in Cotume’s mind, she started to see things. Not hallucinations, but in her mind’s eye. Whenever she blinked she saw a peculiar grey box. A square pane of glass set into a light grey coloured stone. Behind the glass were pictures. There were emblems of many colours, paintings of beautiful elven maids and brave warriors. Amongst the pictures were lines of script. They looked strangely familiar, though she could not read them. Below the stone box, was a stone tablet. It was of the same stone as the box, but some areas of it were a darker shade. On the tablet lay a large number of the most bizarre rune stones she had ever seen. They too, looked familiar. She had to suppress the urge to push the stones and stay in control of her horse as she tore ever onward through the trees. She knew she had to push the runes, though to what end Cotume was oblivious.<BR>She tried her hardest to put the peculiar images from her mind as she closed in on her prey. They were very near now. She slowed her steed to a canter and looked around. Cotume had often thought how she had been gifted with the best of both worlds. From her elven mother, she had inherited the grace, physique and senses of the elves, and from her orc father she had been given the strength, malice and cruelty of his kin.<BR>This was not enough to prevent her accidentally stumbling on a sword wielding Hitharien however.<BR>The woman was angry. Cotume chuckled. It was so cute when the good guys turned mean. Cotume glanced over Hitharien’s shoulder, unfazed by her weapon. Slumped against a tree was Lindonbayne. She had several cuts to her arms and face, but more importantly, a black arrow through her chest. Blood pooled around her as she stared blankly, unseeing.<BR>Cotume’s lip curled into a sickening grin as she anticipated Hitharien’s words.<BR></i><BR>
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Postby Guruthostirn » Mon Oct 13, 2003 12:13 pm

<b>At the Followers of Eru</b><BR><BR><i>Interesting place. RLM had expected something a bit more impressive from such a group as the Followers of Eru, and after noticing a few baffled expressions on other faces, guessed that he wasn't the only one. Anorast snickered at RLM's surprise; such surprise was a clear mark of inexperience, and that, a clear mark of youth.<BR><BR>The character couldn't understand why this young human mind was in his body. Anorast had listened to the nonsense this voice, who had called himself RLM, had been saying, but hadn't thought about it much. But as the group of adventurers, some of whom Anorast recognized, had traveled through the town, Anorast started to see things differently. They'd moved from an open lane in the country to the middle of Minas Tirith in only steps, something Anorast knew to be impossible. Looking around, Anorast felt as if he'd been blind, and now could see the world clearly. In his mind Anorast felt the change, from being someone who accepted the world, never questioning what was outside of his perception, knowing many things, but ignoring how they worked, to one who could see outside the maze, recognize the connections between the places he'd been.</i><BR><BR>*You're being awefully quiet.*<BR><BR>*RLM, tell me again, what's the relationship between us?*<BR><BR>*Umm, I'm not sure I should say...*<BR><BR>*Then where are we? This is part of Middle Earth, but we just left an entirely different area.*<BR><BR>*Just accept it, okay? Ignore what I said, it'll be easier for you.*<BR><BR>*I can't. I can see things now. This isn't Middle Earth as I know it, right?*<BR><BR><i>After a pause, RLM sighed.</i> *No, it's not.*<BR><BR>*I didn't think so. Now what we discussed is making a lot more sense.*<BR><BR>*Figured it would, if you ever figured out what was really going on. Didn't think you would though.*<BR><BR>*Don't underestimate an elf, R, particularly one you yourself wrote!*<BR><BR>*What!?! You've accepted it??*<BR><BR>*Yes. All that you have told me makes sense now.*<BR><BR>*That's good to hear, I think...*<BR><BR>*Don't worry, our agreement is still in place. It's stronger now. I understand your reasoning, and I will help you.*<BR><BR>*Thanks. At least we don't have to risk blending again.*<BR><BR>*Yes indeed! That was most strange...*<BR><BR>*I just hope it doesn't happen to anyone else...*<BR><BR>*No, no, and no.*<BR><BR>*I didn't even ask!!*<BR><BR>*You didn't have to. No, I don't know how to move between levels. You always did that, I just went where I was told. I never knew why, I was there, and that was that.*<BR><BR>*Grr. I had hoped...*<BR><BR>*I wish I could help. And no, I don't know where the characters of these other people are, and no, I don't know anything of how we started blending.*<BR><BR>*Okay. We'll have to figure this out on our own.* <BR><BR><i>Waking up from his conversation with his creation, RLM looked around him again. The group was discussing how to get to the Choirs of Eru forum. RLM sighed, thinking how innocent, and at risk, the group was. They had no clue how close they were to danger, not from the outside, but from the inside.</i><BR><BR>"Hey guys, what're we doing now?" <i>It was still a labor to talk, though RLM knew his body, or more properly, Anorast's body, was healing quickly.</i><BR><BR>"Trying to figure out how to get to the Choirs of Eru."<BR><BR>"Well, can we hurry it up?"<BR><BR>"Feel free!"<BR><BR><i>Nodding, RLM sighed. He didn't have the answer. There seemed to be no exit from the Followers of Eru tent besides the flap at the front.<BR><BR>Looking around, he noticed that Vana was missing.</i> "Umm, where'd Vana go?"<BR><BR><i>Scribbles answered.</i> "She had to take care of something. She said she'd meet us here."<BR><BR><i>RLM nodded again. After a moment, he cocked his head slightly.</i><BR><BR>"Anyone recognize that music?"
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Postby Bardhwyn » Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:07 pm

“You remember our purpose and our path, don't you Archer?"<BR><BR>“My purpose….? Purpose?” Bardhwyn muttered as SilverScribe disappeared into the tent. She looked up to see, what she perceived, as Lys fuming. As she gazed at the tall Master Archer, a flood of emotions whirled through her.<BR><BR>She was looking up at <i>The Master Archer</i>… the man who had so fully captured her heart, cantankerous as he was...<BR><BR>Her purpose?…what was her purpose…?<BR><BR>“Lys, don’t be angered by her words. Scribbles is thinking of all of us…”. Bardhwyn fell silent.<BR><BR>‘Our path…<i>Our path?</i>…’ While this question spun in her mind, she struggled for more words to assuage the tall man before her – the Master Archer. So Blonde..so Gigantic...<BR><BR> ‘.. oh, no...’ Her heart sank as she looked up into the face of Lysandros. ‘…I am doing it again… I am … I? .. who am ‘I’..?’<BR><BR>She’d slipped again, into Bardhwyn – forgetting everything that was ‘real’ and allowing the virtual reality to become her 'reality'. HJ tried to assert herself but the Archer was strong….<BR><BR>“No!” Bardhwyn murmured, throwing her arms around Lysandros once again, as before – with a deep longing. He was here, responding to her – how could she just pull away. She LOVED this man. She tried to refuse that deeper voice – the one that stated flatly ‘Let him go.’ Bardhwyn felt a tentative response on the Master Archer’s part – a halfhearted embrace in return.<BR><BR>‘It is just too MUCH, BARDY!’ She heard herself cry out, in the privacy of her mind. ‘STOP IT! Don’t do this to me…’ <BR><BR>HJ was once again to the fore, pulling herself free from Lysandros’ arms. As long as he was around, she was vulnerable. That much she was sure of. Dammit, why did BV write his character to be.. well.. *this* way?? So.. *gah*.. BLONDE AND GIGANTIC.<BR><BR>In his presence, Bardy would gravitate out – with a vengeance. <BR><BR>And yet, Lys had to stay around.. for some reason…HJ didn’t quite understand why she felt so adamant about that. Lys had to come with them and that was all there was to it.<BR><BR>“We should follow them, Lys.” She said shakily, avoiding his eyes. “And please, don’t let Scribbles get to you…”<BR><BR>She pushed her way into the tent, moving the flap aside. The Master Archer remained where he stood.<BR><BR>“Well?” She asked, finally able to look at him. “Come on, Lys.”
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Postby Nessamelda » Tue Oct 28, 2003 12:34 am

<b>In the followers of Eru pavillion</b><BR><BR>After a moment, RLM cocked his head slightly.<BR>"Anyone recognize that music?" <BR><BR>Susan looked up. There was a strange tune playing from somewhere in the tent. Part of her knew that she should recognise it. The other part of her was not only uneducated in late twentieth century music but also close to being tone deaf.<BR><BR>Katie found the source of it. Behind a flap at the back of the tent was a smallish insignificant organ. The only uncanny thing about it was that it was playing itself. Katie looked on with some curiosity.<BR><BR>"Mummy, where's the play and stop buttons? I can't see anywhere to stop this awful tune, and I want a go!" <BR>Susan looked around to check that Lysandros wasn't close by - she didn't want to confuse the issue with talk of twenty first century technology. Seeing that the coast was clear, she explained carefully to Katie about the difference between digital and bellows organs, and how old organs were operated ny air going through pipes and didn't need electricity...<BR><BR>"Well how is this one playing on its own then?" Katie asked reasonably enough. <BR>Susan shrugged and gave the only answer that could possibly fit<BR>"Magic, I assume".<BR><BR>What was that tune? It was desparately familiar, although she had a feeling that it was somewhat distorted by being filtered through the dulcet tones of this small ancient pipe organ.<BR><BR>"Mummy please may I have a go? Do you think if I start playing it will stop that boring old tune? I hate it when Daddy plays it on hs guitar and it really doesn't sound any better on this thing. Who wants to hear old fart music like "Stairway to Heaven"?"<BR><BR>Susan was just about to give her daughter a strong telling off for her vulgar language, when she stopped.<BR><BR>Of course that was the tune. And perhaps it was giving them a hint about where the passageway to the Choirs of Eru lay. After all, it seemed from her daughter's encounter with her abductor that not all those in charge here were allied against them - he had after all returned Katie.<BR><BR>"Hey", she called out to the others. "I think we might be on to something here"<BR><BR>As she spoke, Katie who could stand the tune no longer, slipped onto the stool by the organ and played a loud intrusive C major chord. There was a sudden grinding of hidden and ancient gears and the organ began to pivot around.
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Postby Guruthostirn » Sat Jan 03, 2004 8:57 pm

<b>Between Forums</b><BR><BR><i>Stairway to Heaven. Of course. RLM chuckled as he listened to one of his favorite tunes pour out of the opening behind the Organ.</i><BR><BR>"So, who's going first?"<BR><BR><i>The group looked around at each other hesitently. Several of them had never been between forums, and the rest knew well enough that such journeys were never normal. And they all knew what could be waiting on the other end of that tunnel.</i><BR><BR>"Fine. Leave it to the injured elf."<BR><BR><i>Drawing his sword, RLM fel Anorasts skilled hand grip the hilt. Whatever was through there would not have an easy time stopping the group from passing into the Choirs of Eru.<BR><BR>As RLM entered the tunned he found himself surrounded by the music of Led Zeppelin. Around him, the walls started glowing. Tight stonework, finely constructed, with moss growing in the cracks. The light seemed to come from nowhere in particular, and was not bright, but it allowed RLM to see the tunnel. And it was a good thing too. Within just a few feet of the entrance a stair began to climb. Curling tightly, smoke rolled down the steps, and oddly, the steps looked powdered. As RLM set his foot on the first step, the white dust puffed up.<BR><BR>Looking back, RLM saw several faces looking through the opening at him.</i><BR><BR>"Well, come on. Just be careful. I don't know what's going on here, but I get the feeling you shouldn't get too much of that smoke in your lungs."<BR><BR><i>Tired of the others being unable to make their minds up RLM started up the stairway. If they followed, they did, and if they didn't, he didn't care. RLM just wanted to get moving. He had the distinct feeling that as long as someone reached the Admin, everyone's troubles would be over. And unless the rest of the group wanted to become their characters, and lose themselves, they had to get moving.
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