other sonics (4/4) ... up to you guys if I continue...

From: Robert Haynie <rhaynie_at_jaguar.ac.edu>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 1996 01:44:06 GMT

     Part the third

     Son-Ak stared at all of the dishes laid at the Princess'
table. Fine meats, breads, cheeses, vegetables, soups, wines,
ales... And all to his way of thinking inedible. A barbarian's
tastes invariably run to simpler fare. But the ingredient's were
there, and so he began the rather peculiar construction of a
sausage and bread layer again.
     Sniffing at a thick, reddish-brown stew, he asked, "What's
this? Smells good."
     The princess thought for a moment, and replied, "Well, it's a
sort of spiced bean and meat stew. Onions, red peppers, some
spices... Not a favorite of mine, actually, but the cook loves to
make it."
     Son-Ak paused, then ladles some of it onto the sausage
construct. Tentatively, he took a bite--
     And smiled. Widely. "Perfect. The perfect food. At last,
I have found the perfect food."
     "Sausage, bread, cheese and bean stew is the perfect food?"
whispered Bunnie to her Princess.
     "It would seem to be," replied Salar-Alicia. "Look at him!"
     Bunnie stared in open-mouth disbelief as the hedgehog rapidly
constructed six of the bizarre items, and wolfed them down with
unexpected speed. "The PERFECT food!"
     As he began to pull at a mug of ale, the guard captain shook
her head. Her princess was obviously taken with the stranger, and
she wasn't sure that that was wise at all. Princesses weren't
meant to be close to commoners, much less to fast-eating

     Son-Ak's idea of the perfect food was being shared at that
moment by Tail's gang of street-rats. Oh, they hadn't created the
odd compound that the barbarian had, but Tail's theft had paid for
bread, cheese, sausages, and some (rather thin) bean stew, as well
as a jug of sour wine that they had cut with water. To the
princess, or even the hedgehog, the meal would have been sparse.
To the assembled urchins, it was a feast as grand as any at the
palace (or so they fondly believed, in a Cratchet-like fashion).
     The four younger ones were as happy as clams (Hmm... You know,
that's a rather unusual phrase. I mean, how happy can a clam be?
No brain, almost no nervous system, existing only for the purpose
of chowder, but I digress) but Milos was somewhat more somber. The
silver piece had bought a deal of foodstuffs, but it was gone now,
and such a lucky haul was not a regular occurrence. At the age of
eleven years he was a bit more of a realist than his gang. True,
his unusual gift of flight gave him some advantage, but not
enough... Not to steal something worth stealing.
     Besides, if he were to go for a real prize, it would certainly
attract the attention of the Guild of Thieves, who might not care
about a wild urchin grabbing the occasional silver, but would
certainly be annoyed at one not in the Brotherhood performing any
real theft. And there was always the small, nagging guilt he felt
at each pickpocketing.
     If there were only some alternative. But he had to keep his
charges fed, somehow, and the number of jobs for an eleven year old
fox could be counted on the fingers of his left foot. At best he
could gain apprenticeship to some brute, for little more than food
or board, and that would not help his friends...
     A thought occurred to him. There was enough food for tomorrow
as well, except bread. Sometimes the Palace cooks could be
persuaded to give a crust of three to a appropriately pitiful
looking waif.
     "Cleth, come with me. We're going to see if we can get any
bread for tomorrow. Get pathetic."
     Cleth, the kitten, grinned. Only five years of age, he often
treated the plots that Tails cooked up like a game, and "get
pathetic" was one of his favorites. Removing the ragged but clean
tunic he wore (Tails insisted on keeping what clothing they had in
as good repair as possible, and even on weekly bathing-- to cut
down on odors that might give them away) he donned a mass of dirty,
shredded rags that made him look as though he had not eaten in a
month, had been beaten daily in compensation, and more like three
or four years old. He opened his eyes wide, until they resembles
something that in another universe would have been painted on black
velvet, and generated a hint of a practiced tear. Perhaps even
Roboth-amon would have had a moment of tenderness at the kitten's
     And so Tails and Cleth set out on what was planned as a
begging expedition, but what would turn out to be-- aw, you know.

     As two cubs set out for the back of the palace, a black-clad
figure also made his way towards the royal residence. Holding a
small green stone with obscure glyphs inscribed upon it, Sniv
effortlessly scales a wall, entered a window, and hid the item
under a bed.
     Leaving as silently as he had come, the master thief and spy
of the eastlands returned to his room at the disreputable inn he
was patronizing. Again he withdrew the mirror that was his means
of communication with his dark master. (Yes, I know, but the
phrase Dark Master is traditional in this kind of fantasy.)
     "It is in place, Master," Sniv said quietly. "Um... If I may
ask, what is it?"
     Again the mirror swirled, again the shadowed form of Roboth-
amon appeared. "A beacon of sorts, Sniv. A beacon for a spell of
transport. Also a window into the mirrors of the princess's
chambers. I shall see just how capable this barbarian is for
myself. Then, after I appraise him... I shall break him."
     And even the hardened soul of Sniv the Unseen, master spy of
the Eastrealm, shuddered at the cold laughter that emanated from
the mirror...


Received on Mon Jan 08 1996 - 23:29:41 PST

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