From: Robert Haynie <rhaynie_at_jaguar.ac.edu>
Date: Tue, 9 Apr 1996 19:28:30 GMT

     Salar-Alicia was not, as might have been guessed, a frail
flower of gentility or anything else so inane. Neither was she a
warrior, though, and warrior or not the sight of two of Roboth-
Amon's Iron Golems stepping through her mirror would startle-- and
panic-- anyone.
     It certainly didn't do much for the Princess' nerves at the
moment. As the guardsman and the Hedgehog burst into her quarters,
the swordbunny close behind with the sorcerer, they froze at the
     "We cannot attack, lest we harm ze princess," whispered
     "Can't just stand here, mage," hissed Son-Ak.
     "Ah don't suppose y'all got a better idea?" added Bunnie, her
distress allowing her southlander accent to bleed through.
     Outside the window, a shadow-cloaked figure watched. Sniv,
master thief, spy, and assassin, viewed the scene with mixed
satisfaction and horror. A job well done, certainly, and his
master would be pleased at it's efficiency, but he had never felt
comfortable around the implacable golems of Roboth-Amon. He was
certain that he never would.
     Discomfited as he was, though, he could not repress a grin of
satisfaction as another golem stepped through the mirror. Whatever
else others might think, Sniv did his job well. He saw no possible
flaw in the "exercise" this night.
     Below the window, Milos and his charge were approaching the
palace, preparing to wind about to the rear, and the kitchen doors.
The little fox had always had sharp eyes (a dull-eyed thief tends
not to last long-- not with both hands, at any rate) and he was
noticing something almost invisible up higher on the wall.
Thinking in terms of a master burglar, an idea came to him.
     "Cleth," he told the kitten, "Wait here. I wanna get a look
at that guy. Maybe I can learn something."
     "What guy?" Cleth asked. "I don't see no guy, Tails."
     Tails grinned. "That's one of the MANY reasons why I am your
fearless leader, little one."
     "I thought it was because you could thump Raffer whenever he
gets out of line," replied the kitten doubtfully.
     "That too," agreed Tails. "Wait here-- in the shadows. I'll
be right back."
     Stepping to one side, out of sight of any passers-by, Milos
doffed his cloak and once again began to spin the twin tails that
had given him his nickname. He rose up from the littered streets,
into the air- and, incidentally, destiny.

     As a fourth golem began to emerge from the mirror, Son-Ak
decided to make his move. Stepping forwards, he slowly placed his
axe at his feet, in a gesture of apparent surrender.
     Watching from his citadel in the Eastrealm, Roboth-Amon
smiled. What had been planned as a test seemed to be developing
into a successful abduction instead. He decided to indulge
     <<Apparently the previous altercation was, after all, a matter
of luck,>> came a gravelly voice from the mirror. The glass
wavered, as though it were a pond that had been struck by a handful
of pebbles, and the face of the Dark Wizard appeared.
     It was not a pretty face. Massive jowls framed a almost
conical head, with a black skullcap and a bristling red mustache.
Most would have called the race Human, but there was an undefinable
air of inhumanity about it. Especially in the eyes-- eyes with no
whites, but instead black onyx-like sheen with tiny red pinpricks
of glow, like coals. Whatever Roboth-Amon had been, years of
trafficking in dark magics had changed him into something else.
     << How unexpectedly fortunate it is,>> the apparition
continued. <<I had planned a small test of the barbarian's
prowess. Instead, I gain the princess as a... guest, as well as
one can hope surety of her father's co-operation. When he returns
from his western journeys, he shall no doubt be more tractable than
in the past.>>
     Bunnie stood, unwilling to act while one of the golems held
her princess. Antos tensed, holding power in his frame, but unable
to release it while the ground-squirrel was held. And Son-Ak--
     "Prowess?", he murmured.
     Before anyone could react, the hedgehog leapt up into the air,
tucking into a roll. Again, as he had in the tavern the day
before, he spun with inconceivable velocity, hurtling towards the
golem holding the Princess, this time slicing through the
restraining arm. As Salar-Alicia fell, half-conscious, he
rebounded off the far wall, caught her, and half-spun, half-leaped
behind the swordbunny and the fox-mage.
     "Your turn, friends," Son-ak laughed.
     Antos suddenly snarled out something-- something in a language
that somehow Son-Ak could not quite hear, could not quite know. A
Bright green blast of light erupted from his palms, shattering the
now- damaged golem. As he turned to smite another, Bunnie drew her
great blade and attacked a third, wielding it with fearsome skill.
     Son-Ak handed the dazed Princess to the guardsman and
reclaimed his axe, and then erupted into the chilling battlecry of
his tribe. Again the axe spun in a silvered circle, and again he
struck the remaining golem, shattering it's shell. As he turned to
attack another, he saw Antos melt-- literally melt-- one of the two
remaining ones, and Bunnie, with what even he had to admit was
amazing skill, strike the final golem in it's visor, causing it to
     "Yeeee----alllhhhhhhhhhh!" Son-Ak screamed. "Prowess, you
wanted, fat one? THUS is the prowess of Son-Ak of the Cad-Hai, the
runner, the smiter, the warrior,--"
     << The insufferable. If I cannot have my prize, then no one
shall.>> The face faded from th mirror, just as it exploded, and
a dark, smoky burst of eldritch force struck the princess-- and
cast her out of the window.

     Fate. It's out there. It makes kings of vagabonds, jesters
of wise men, and hack fanwriters of computer students. It can also
make a hero out of a ten year old fox, at the right moment.
     Milos had no idea what had happened. Just as he had gotten to
the level of the window, all hell had-- apparently-- broken loose.
Perhaps it was some rich-person thing, he guessed. Then the
chadowy figure had vanished, slipping into darker shadows, and a
figure suddenly flew out the window.
     Tails didn't think. He simply reacted. If some-one is
falling, you catch them. And so he dove, grabbed a leg, and
desparately held on until he could lower the form to safety.
     Which is how Milos, Sneak thief, Gang leader, and half-
educated street-urchin, became the Ward of Salar-Alicia, Princess
of House Acorn, Heir to the throne of Mobius. Had he known how his
life was to be upset, he might have let her fall.

Received on Tue Apr 09 1996 - 16:49:00 PDT

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