The Great Library of Palanthas

An Aesthetic shows you to a small reading room.

Stories of Ansalon from the view of Walken.

A little gully dwarf runs by and says 'Wordwrap Off 65 80.'
The gully continues 'Eyes hurt? Turn Color OFF!! (regular story dates)

Astinus says 'Enter the main library here to view only the author list.'
Astinus gently places a leather bound tome with glowing glyphs on the table in front of you.
You note the spine bears the word 'Walken' scribed in bright white ink.

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Tue Oct  3 14:57:50 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood

Rose Knight Wosnaik rubbed the two painful spots next to his

It was the beginning of a long day, and the wine skin under his
desk was calling to him seductively. Unfortunately, there were
two Sword Knights in front of him, and he had business to deal

"Stabler, Kierkegaard, thank you both for coming in on short

We've had our hands full with suicide cults in Holy Grove, but
something's come up that I need you to take care of. There was a
homicide two nights ago in New Thalos.  I need you to go out
there and start leaning on people before they start thinking the
law's forgotten about them. I don't want another Nabil incident
on my hands.  Phin's got contacts in the area, and he'll take you
in a carriage.


As he sat in the rattling back seat of the carriage, Kierkegaard
found himself trapped in a brown study. New Thalos was the most
lawless of the Palanthas burroughs, and the knighthood had never
been able to keep a firm grip on it. In his time, Istar River had
seen more drugs go through it than an apothecary.

New Thalos had really gone to hell in his first year working with
Stabler, when they'd gone after Nabil for abducting young women
and doing... things to them in the back room of his pet shop.

An old woman had seen Stabler use excessive force in taking down
Nabil--Nabil had walked, and Stabler got stuck walking a Shadow
Grove beat for three years.

From the way his partner was seething in his position at the
window, Kierkegaard felt more than knew that they had arrived in
New Thalos.

Crown Knight Phin introduced them to the sultan's guards on duty
at the crime scene.

"Chandrasekkar, Zulamin, these are Sword Knights Stabler and
Kierkegaard. They're the knights in charge of the case."

Stabler shook hands woodenly with each of the guards.

Kierkegaard shook their hands a little more warmly and asked, "So
what exactly happened here?"

Chandrasekkar's mouth worked like he was chewing something bitter
as he detailed the incident for them.

"Happened two nights ago, right her outside the butcher shop. 
The victim was walking home with her groceries when she was
struck from behind.

You can see from the way the groceries are strewn that she was
probably struck on the right side.

As she turned, her attacker slashed her across the stomach.  She
bled to death some time after."

Kierkegaard knelt down to examine the wound in the body.

"That's a nasty cut.  Shallow, but very long and wide.

She must've lain here in shock for a good five minutes before she
started to go."

Zulamin spat in disgust, angrily, "She was pregnant.  The dog!"

"That's awful," Kierkegaard replied.

"No, you don't understand," Chandrasekkar said, "He cut her open
and he took the baby."

To be continued...

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Thu Oct  5 21:24:49 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part II

Kierkegaard had thought he'd blacked out for just a moment. 
Really, he could never tell for sure if one moment followed the
next.  Took the baby? How could that be?

Stabler was talking off to one side with Zulamin.  Kierkegaard
couldnt make out what they were saying, but Stabler was making
incisive directional movements with the flat of his hand, and
Zulamin was nodding. They abruptly broke off their conversation
as Stabler rejoined Kierkegaard. It looks like our boys here have
been smart enough not to sit on their hands during  the first 48
hours.  Zulamin followed the blood trail until he lost it and
came upon a possible witness.  They're going to take us there
right now.  Phin, youd better with us.

Sultans Walk was churning with a listless sea of people getting
hotter and more impatient as the midday sun began to blister down
on them.  A knot of people outside the Dancing Daemon had tried
to quench their thirst for liquid as well as for merriment, and
Chandrasekkar had to part them with the flat of his scimitar.  He
led his party up the stairs to a small room overlooking the
casbah.  A small man who was wearing his belted sark like a dress
grinned boyishly as they entered the room.  Kierkegaard gritted
his teeth silently.  The witness was a wandering prophet.

He tried probing, hesitantly, Hello, there.  Im Sword Knight
Kierkegaard. This is my partner, Stabler.  Did you see something
outside the butchery two nights ago?

A little film of saliva had formed on the prophets lips during
the brief introduction, and it served to pepper his words as he
spoke. "I am the thorn in the foot, I am the blur in the sight; I
am the worm at the root, I am the thief in the night. I am the
rat in the wall, the leper that leers at the gate; I am the ghost
in the hall, herald of horror and hate.

I am the rust on the corn, I am the smut on the wheat, Laughing
man's labor to scorn, weaving a web for his feet. I am canker and
mildew and blight, danger and death and decay; The rot of the
rain by night, the blast of the sun by day.

I warp and wither with drought, I work in the swamp's foul yeast;
I bring the black plague from the south and the leprosy in from
the east. I rend from the hemlock boughs wine steeped in the
petals of dooms; Where the fat black serpents drowse I gather the
Upas blooms.

I have plumbed the northern ice for a spell like Frozen lead; In
lost grey fields of rice, I have learned from Mongol dead. Where
a bleak black mountain stands I have looted grisly caves; I have
digged in the desert sands to plunder terrible graves.

Never the sun goes forth, never the moon glows red, But out of
the south or the north, I come with the slavering dead. I come
with hideous spells, black chants and ghastly tunes; I have
looted the hidden hells amd plundered the lost black moons.

Stabler interrupted him before he could go on, You want to play
games with us?  You think your religious freedom protects you
from me?  The prophet stared at him glassily, until Stabler
darted forward at something he saw, pushing the copious sleeves
up the prophets wrinkled arm.  Thats an interesting tattoo youve
got there.  Ergothian pirate, isnt it?  I bet if I go through mug
portraits in the Clerist Tower, well find a face that looks like
yours eventually.  Who killed the woman in that alley?  Who took
her baby?

Beyond the street, in skulking dark,
In search of hope I came to see
The crimson ghost who bore in arm
The fruit of fearful butchery:

A screaming babe from love forlorn,
From suckling womb to alley bare.
A moments carnage left Mum torn
And sets a feast for my despair.

The prophet stopped singing because he was gazing in surprise at
a quarrel that had sprouted from his breast like the stem of a
flower.  Around it, a red circle was slowly blossoming.

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Fri Oct  6 21:28:13 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part III

"The window! Phin screamed, "I can't see the shooter!" 
Chandrasekkar and Zulamin had scrambled downstairs, one of them
calling for a cleric.  In the midst of the confusion the prophet
lay still, making short gasps.

"Who did you see?" Kierkegaard asked.  The prophet's eyes were
swirling around like two hot pennies in a glass jar someone had
shaken.  "Who?"

One eye focused on Kierkegaard for a long second.  "...butcher." 
Then he made a long cough and lay still.


"I don't like this," Kierkegaard said as they made their way
through Market Square.  "That prophet was clearly nuts, and we
don't even have him as a witness anymore.  We don't have enough
to make an arrest.  Not if we're going to go by our code."

"Your'e still the same young optimist I met coming out of the
academy, aren't you, Kiki?" Stabler said.  Well try this truth on
for size: Sometimes mysteries are so big that there is no place
to begin, and there's probably no place to end.  In those cases,
leaning is the only thing we can do.  If you don't agree with me,
you can always stay here.  But I think you know by now that
existence preceeds essence.  The code only has meaning we give to
it, but our partnership is bound more tightly to our physical
selves.  It, too must be served."

"On the first point I don't quite agree, but on the second I do,"
Kierkegaard said, holding out his hand, "Perhaps one day you will
see that partnership is a code as well."

Switching from philosophy to action with an ease that comes only
from experience, they drew their broadswords and kicked open the
door to the butchery.  "Solamnic Knights!  Freeze!"  Butch the
meatcutter was behind the counter with his grisly wares.  In his
right hand, a cleaver was raised to chop an indistinct hunk of
meat.  Kierkegaard couldn't help thinking for a second of how the
dwarf looked like a crimson ghost in his bloody apron. "Drop the
weapon and put your hands on your head!  Now!"

Butchs eyes strayed nervously to the back door, but Kierkegaard
knocked the cleaver out of his hand, and Stabler sent him
sprawling with a powerful bash before he could flee.


Back in the carriage, Kierkegaard sat in the front seat with
Phin, while Stabler watched over the prisoner in the back.  Butch
had been protesting his innocence, but Stabler had had enough. 
He pressed his aquiline nose up against the dwarf's.  "Enough,
babykiller.  We've got a witness who puts you at the scene, and
once we go through the meat in your shop I'm sure we'll find the
kid.  You're going in the Clerist Tower for a long time. We're
going to find a big Bozak draconian who loves to touch
babykillers for you.  You're going to see how his bones explode,
thats for sure."

When they arrived in Wosniak's office with the prisoner in tow, a
page hurriedly brushed past them.  The captain was frowning at a
piece of paper in his hand.  Stabler cleared his throat, "Sir,
we've apprehended the murderer."

Wosniak just gazed at them blankly.  "What?  That can't be. 
There's been another murder."

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Wed Oct 11 20:04:09 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knights, Part IV

Wosniak's frown deepened as he took in the news, so that his face
was riddled with fault lines as he began shouting, "You made a
false arrest while a killer was on the loose?  Amothos is going
to have a field day with me!  Get back to New Thalos now, and
take him back, and find my killer!  What are you waiting for? 

They left the Clerist Tower stoicly and returned to their seats
in the carriage.  Stabler didn't offer Butch an apology, and
Butch didn't ask for one.  They both knew way better than that.

Contrary to the volatile emotions that had filled the carriage on
the last trip to and from New Thalos, Kierkegaard couldn't feel
anything.  Stabler's anger had perhaps been occluded by
resignation, and the smell of Butch's fear had dried and
dissipated in the afternoon air.  Kierkegaard himself felt calm. 
His anxiety had been replaced by numbness, by a cold expectation
of nothing.  They spent the entire trip in silence, until Phin
pulled up to a dilapidated house on the Casbah, where
Chandrasekkar was standing grimly.

"Got another one for you!" Chandrasekkar called out as soon as
they'd existed the vehicle.  "Looks like were getting 'em
wholesale."  His smirk looked desperate. That was not a good

'OK," Kierkegaard said, slowly and evenly, "What happened?"

"Same M.O., but this time he got her outside the house.  After a
brief struggle, he cut her up, took baby just the same."  As
Chandrasekkar sighed and looked up at the heavens, the whites of
his eyes flashed like a plea.  "Husband got home right as the
bastard had finished.  He got a good look at him scaling the

"Where's the husband?"

"Right over here.  Zulamin's got him off to the side." 
Chandrasekkar led them to a red-eyed construction foreman still
in his workclothes, whose shoulders were hunched over in baffled
grief.  "Mr. Morley, these are Sword Knights Stabler and
Kierkegaard.  They're going to need you to describe the man you

Mr. Morley looked up, and his face eroded into a chasm of rage at
Butch, who had been standing inobtrusively between the two

"You! Morley cried, It was you!" and he fumbled for the hammer at
his belt before Zulamin closed his arms around him in a bearhug.

"Get him out of here," Stabler said, dragging Butch over to Phin,
"Put him under guard.  And keep your eyes open, we've still got a
sniper on the loose in this city."

"This makes no sense," Kierkegaard murmured as Zulamin and
Chandrasekkar subdued Mr. Morley behind them.  "Butch was with us
the whole time this murder was being committed.  It couldn't have
been him."

"Well, we have one thing about this case that makes sense.  The
victims were both pregnant.  Not just pregnant, but close enough
to delivery that the killer could be sure of getting those


"I have an idea.  Come on, Kiki, lets go find some pregnant


The midwives' guild was about to close as the afternoon closed on
the city's denizens, but the sight of two determined Sword
Knights in a city that had recently seen little Solamnic activity
kept the doors open.  Kierkegaard rifled deftly through papers in
a cabinet as the two remaining apprentices stood awkwardly to the
side. Stabler was arguing with the headmistress over
jurisdiction.  An angry skin of sweat had begun to cover her
cheeks, but Stabler knew what he was doing.  Finally, Kierkegaard
brushed past the headmistress and grunted to Stabler, "We're done

In the alley outside, Kierkegaard pulled a slip of paper out of
his vambraces.  "Got it. Three deliveries expected this week. 
The first six days from now, the second four, and third woman is
expecting in three days."

Stabler compared the names with some scribbles from his ledger. 
"Kiri-Jolith! The first woman is our first victim.  The second is
the Morley woman.  The address of that third woman... that's all
the way across town!  We've got to get over there!"

To be continued...

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Fri Oct 13 16:58:15 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part V

The sun was setting as the two Knights made their way across the
Medina, painting their mail the color of beets while they
lumbered for speed.  Each of Kierkegaard's ragged breaths echoed
the woman's street number. 131. Ishtar. 131. 131.

As they approached the house, they heard a muffled shriek that
told them everything had come to that moment.  They staggered
like drunkards.  Time was everything.  Time was the gatekeeper of
life, and Distance was its scourge. Stabler barked huskily, "I'm
going around the back!" and Kierkegaard could only nod, voiceless
under the tails of the scourge.

Kierkegaard took the front porch in long steps, pausing only long
enough to unhook the crossbow from his belt, and kicked the lock
right out of the door frame.

The lights were out, and he could just make out the blocky shapes
of furniture at first.  As he made his way deeper into the house
he took in broken ceramics, an overturned table, at a glance,
took in the swath of blood and the hand print in red. The point
of entry was a side-door in the kitchen slammed wide, where the
slashed up carnage of the tenant was face-down across the floor.

Stabler had already made his way through the dining room door,
but at the entrance to the kitchen he was on his knees and
defenseless.  Butch the meatcutter was standing over him with a
curved blade raised.  "Freeze!" Kierkegaard cried, but Butch
leapt to the door in a kind of mad pirouette, barely avoiding the
bolt as Kierkegaard discharged his weapon.  Kierkegaard ran over
to Stabler.  He could tell the woman was past saving.  Stabler's
face was puckered in agony.  "Are you okay?"

"Got me in the groin," Stabler snarled.  "Get him, I'll be fine."

Kierkegaard switched to his broadsword and strode out the door
with purpose, feeling the cold coppery scraping in his lungs as
he started running again.  He could see Butch running for the
docks ahead of him, towards the obfuscation of the riverfront and
the dusk.

As Kierkegaard reached the unloading station along the river, he
realized he had lost sight of Butch.  At some point, the bobbing
back he had been following had been replaced by the far-off
shadow of a merchant liner.  The river was rushing susurrously to
the left, and a honeycomb of crates and lumber piles obscured the
right and front areas.

Kierkegaard walked slowly and cautiously, probing the air with
his sword and trying to use all of his senses.  There was a loud
crumbling sound to his right.  He got his sword up in time to
parry a stack of crates, but the heavy pressure on his foible
tore the blade from his grasp.

Butch was grinning viciously, and he leapt over the mess of
crates to hack at the unarmed man with his frog sticker. 
Kierkegaard deflected the cuts with his steel vambrace,
distracting the dwarf enough with a riposte to connect on a solid
right cross to jaw.  Kierkegaard was surprised to find Butch's
face absorbing the blow like coiled steel, and his hand exploded
in pain.  Butch lashed out wildly and gouged him deep in the
shoulder.  As the blade ripped back out, Kierkegaard felt pain
wrap him in robes of frost, detatching him from Butch's
murderously raised arm.

"Knights of Solamnia!  Get your hands up!"  Stabler was behind
them with his crossbow leveled at Butch.  He was in range of a
shot and walking steadily closer.  Kierkegaard got a grip on
himself.  They had him.  Stabler had him cold.

As Butch turned with his arms in the air, Kierkegaard could see
his fingers shift slightly on the knife.  "Shoot him now!"
Kierkegaard cried, but the blade had already sprung towards
Stabler's face in a killing arc.

Stabler barely got the crossbow up to protect his face and then
shot erringly at Butch as he dived into the river.  The black
torrent swallowed the dwarf without a trace.

"What the hell was that?" Stabler rasped, still poised for
violence. Kierkegaard picked a sharp silver scale out of the skin
on his right hand, "That was a Sivak."

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Fri Oct 13 17:00:38 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part Vb

"Of course!  It all makes sense now.  Now that we know what we're
looking for, we can get Phin and the boys down here.  They can
drag this river in the morning."

Kierkegaard shook his head, "They won't find anything."  He was
holding the bloody meat of his left shoulder, "But we will."

To be Continued. By. Walken.

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Sat Nov  4 13:36:24 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part VI

Kierkegaard and Stabler explained the situation in the palace
kitchen over coffee and cranberry tarts.  Kierkegaard's shoulder
had gone stiff under its poultice, but he kept catching himself
concentrating on the pain the way someone mightprobe a cut in his
mouth with his tongue.  Instead, he tried to focus on the black,
earthy taste of his coffee and the rough crystals of sugar in the

"It was a Sivak all along," Stabler said to Zulamin and

"An ingenious disguise," Chandrasekkar said, "seemingly crafted
to take advantage of our professional bias.  Not only was the
first murder near Butch's shop, but we tend to associate a
butcher with the cutting of flesh."

"Well," Zulamin said, sipping his coffee and completely ignoring
his tart, "What do we do now?  How can we catch what we can't

Stabler pulled a long, curved knife out of his belt and laid it
on the table. "I've seen this type of knife before.  It's Grey
Order issue.  Skull Knights use it in their blood rituals.  We
stopped him from getting the third baby last night, but if the
Grey Order is involved, you're not going to be able to stop them
yourself.  Go to the Sultan and get his writ, and call in the
Elite Royal Guard to lock down the city."  Stabler and
Kierkegaard finished their coffee at about the same time and
stood to leave.  "As for our activities, I have a snitch in
Neraka we can pay a visit to."

Zulamin smirked as they reached the door, "So that's it?  Knights
versus Knights, huh?"

Kierkegaard scowled.  "They're not Knights.  Don't ever call them

Stabler pounded  on the door of the seedy Snake Road apartment,
"I know you're in there, Octavian!  Open up, or by Jolith I'll
break this door down."  a bald, peering man in a mottled robe
poked his head and shoulders out the door, and Stabler and
Kierkegaard muscled past him into the room. "What's this?"
Stabler asked.  "Eating a tasty big pot pie, Octavian?  Did you
pick this up from Xavjeth?"

"B-Baker's Dozen.  I ordered out."

"Baker's Dozen?  That's the new joint in Palanthas.  I've never
had one of their pies before.  May I have a bite of yours?"


"mmm-mm! This is one juicy big pot pie.  You want some, Kiki?"
Kierkegaard shook his head.  "May I wash this down with your
spite's flask?"

"Go ahead." Stabler drank from the sprite's flask in an
exaggerated motion, then slammed it on the table and stabbed the
Sivak's knife through it. Kierkegaarf saw surprise, relief, and
fear cross Octavian's features in less than a heartbeat.

"This knife has a lot of notches on the hilt," Stabler said,
leaning in close. "I think we both know what that means.  I want
to know whose knife this is." Octavian remained silent, so
Stabler leaned back and began unbuckling his vambraces.  "Oh,
you're going to tell me.  You know how I know?  When I ask my
partner, he's going to step outside the room and close the door. 
So you can tell me fast, or you can tell me slow.  Please, tell
me slow."

Octavian spat, "I don't know much of him.  He joined the Skull
when I was on my way out.  But I do hear rumors.  The knife
belongs to a Sivak named Zimrilim.  He's Ryven's pet maniac, but
they say he's ambitious, too.  And one other thing... he seems to
have a  thing for babies.  Ever since bloodstones were discovered
in Hell, the Skull's been using blood for warpstones.  Last
summer, Zimrilim killed most of the toddlers in Shire for their

"We never heard of that."

"You guys don't come out here that much, do you?" Octavian

Kierkegaard cracked him across the mouth with a straight elbow. 
"Where would he be if he were performing a blood ritual like

Octavian was bleeding as he got back up.  For a long moment he
started at Kierkegaard with impotent hatred.  "The Temple of

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Sat Nov 18 12:07:54 2006
Subject   Lost Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood: Conclusion

Stabler's mouth had a sour turn to it as they reentered the carriage with Phin
at the reins.  "You'd better go first on this one," he said to Kierkegaard.
"I'll follow your lead."

"What are you talking about? Stabler, you're one of the best warriors in the

Stabler shrugged.  "I'm just a bruiser--mostly it's just hitting harder than
other people are willing to hit.  But he got the jump on me good last time.  You
were always the quick one."

"Okay.  I'll bring us in, but this time no bows.  We're going to need shields
instead.  Going up against a high-ranking Skull in his own temple, crossbow
shots aren't going to be enough.  The only way we'll take him down is after a
long fight."  Stabler nodded, and there was a pause.  "Stabler, what do you
usually think about before a fight like this?"

"I think about my daughter."

The sun was setting once again, about 24 hours since their first encounter with
the murderer, whjen they pulled up to the Temple of Takhisis.

There was a dancing red glow, possibly from torchlight, in the windows, but the
temple was unguarded, perhaps indicating that Zimrilim's actions were
independent rather than sanctioned by the Grey Order.

Stabler and Kierkegaard approached on foot with sword and shield in hand. The
mantle of duty upheld the sourness in their bones at the sight of the temple and
led them to waste no time in entering.

"By Paladine," Stabler groaned in disgust, forcing himself not to look away.

The inside of the temple was cobwebbed in shadow, except for the light source
above the altar.  Two babies and a toddler lay upon the altar with incisions in
their throats, but the blood flowed upward in a spiral, coalescing into a
circular portal that pulsed with a lurid red light.  Zimrilim had his back to
them, his silver fingers idly playing in the bloodflow.

"That's enough," Kierkegaard gritted.  "You're finished."

"Ah, my friends from New Thalos," Zimrilim said in response to the voices but
not the words.  "Do you know what I like about babies?  Their blood is so pure. 
Untainted by the articulation of rational thought.  Or, perhaps, the fleeting, 
primal moments of infancy are not a freedom from reason, but the purest form of
it!  Unadulterated response to stimuli...yes?  Hmm, no matter.  With their pure
blood, my nexus harnessing the power of the Abyss is just completed."

"You think they're innocent, is that it?  Those women you cut up, the ones who
brought these children into the world, they're not innocent?"

"As if they knew what the hell they were doing! Do you not see that every
rational creature is guilty?  We have no way of knowing if our actions are good
or evil, and yet we act anyway.  That is the only sure crime in this world of
accidents."  In moments, Zimrilim had gone from beatific to snarling into the
portal.  "Now," he said, turning and closing his fist around the blood in his
palm, "Step forward, that I may cleanse you."

Zimrilim gestured roughly with his fist, and two streams of blood shot out of
the portal.  Kierkegaard took the first stream in his shield, where it
transformed into a thick web, flowing around his shield and dragging him down.

Stabler had  scouted the first attack on Kierkegaard and threw his shield aside
as it got hit, charging Zimrilim with his naked sword.  Zimrilim gestured
quickly, and a wide splash of blood struck Stabler's armor and ignited, clinging
to him like sticky flames.  Stabler stuck his head down and kept charging,
swinging wildly like a scarecrow eing torn apart.  Zimrilim ducked the crazy
swinging of Stabler's sword, but Stabler barreled into him with his shoulder,
sending both men through the blood portal.  As soon as they were through it, it
degraded back into blood, falling onto the altar with a sick splash.

Kierkegaard clawed at his shield and armor.  The webbing was now a thick,
congealing layer of blood on his face and armor, its enchantment lost without
Zimrilim's power to sustain it.  He climbed to his feet in shock.  They
were nowhere in sight.  

Stabler was gone.

Kierkegaard knew he should leave.  The show of power that had taken place
was bound to draw attention, and Neraka was not their jurisdiction.
Stabler's willingness to make sacrifices seemed to justify the harsh,
judgemental attitude he had towards others.  One needed strength to make
those kinds of judgements, and it seemed Stabler had it.  The roar of a
dragon split the sky, not far away.  He had to get out.  The story had to
survive, so that Stabler's exxample--the essence preceded by his
existence--could live.

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Sat Dec 23 13:37:55 2006
Subject   Loster Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part I

Crown Knight Kierkegaard liked the novel, steamlined feel of his armor and
the extra weight that felt not like a burden, but like becoming two people at
the same time.  He liked polishing it until he could see himself in it.  As he
fastened the last clasp, he leaned his head back in the shaft of morning
light.  The clean, lingering smell of the soap on his freshly shaved cheeks
infused the experience for him with an ineffable sense of wholesomeness.

When he arrived at the Clerist Tower to check in before his beat,
Kierkegaard found the morning pace to have increased, the reverence of his
morning ritual replaced by a bustle that equally fed the same idol of order.  A
page with his eyes on a slip of paper bumped Kierkegaard's elbow and
started walking past him without a word before turning with a slack look of
recognition on his face, "Kierkegaard, right?"

"At your service," Kierkegaard said with a wry smile.  In the distant past he
might not have responded courteously to such a gruff address, but during
late nights in the unspoken deprivations of the Academy, he had decided
courtesy would be his sole selfish reward.

"If you'll come with me, I'm to fetch you for the captain."  Kierkegaard's
shrug went unseen, the page's back already turned, but his steady stride
kept easy pace with the page's shorter steps.

The page led the way to a lacquered wooden door with a stern-faced brass
eagle fixed atop the frame and knocked briskly.  The door opened
immediately, as if by incantation, and First Lieutenant Wosniak poked his
balding head out, "Do you have them, Reggie?"

"Here's Kierkegaard," Reggie said.

"Kierkegaard and Stabler.  And Stabler, damn it!"  Just as quickly as it had
opened, the door closed.

Reggie stumbled off confused, presumably to fetch Stabler, but Kierkegaard
noted with annoyance that the boy had apparently forgotten his existence.
Kierkegaard shifted from one mail-weighted foot to the other, unsure if he
should wait at the door or leave the page to get chewed out again.  With a
shrug, as if feigning ambivalence to himself, Kierkegaard adopted the
familiar, selfish courtesy and leaned against the wall in wait.  Apparently a
heated debate had been going on behind the lacquered door during
Kierkegaard's indecision, as even though he was not in the habit of
eavesdropping, the sound of his name in the argument piqued his proud interest.

"They show promise, yes, I admit," Wosniak's voice resonated, "but two
Crown Knights for this?  Surely we're not so understaffed!  Take Rof off the
daycare case; assign him to me and we'll head over to New Thalos today."

"This has nothing to do with Rof, and you know it-- and I need you here
where your experience is most useful," the second voice, belonging to
Captain Jobs, was brassy and higher than Wosniak's.  Despite its ability to
convey a wider range of emotions, it sounded frayed and nervous.

"Useful experience?  It seems to me like you have all you need in our friend
in red over here."

"So that's what your disagreement is about.  The same old bias against
magic-users.  You see how this world is changing, getting bigger.
Horseback, the occasional dragon... that's not enough to track down
suspects, many of whom are using magic themselves to hide.  We need
those gates, and we need those scryes to get the job done."

"That doesn't make any sense, stopping the criminals by acting like them,
breaking our code."

"We share the same goals as Conclave White and Red.  We look for the
same ends.  This tip they gave us of pairing Stabler with Kierkegaard?
That's not flinger science.  Stabler's forcefulness in bringing down Ganz and
Billy Bull was the most precocious activity I've ever seen out of a Crown
Knight, and Kierkegaard's Academy and beat records are spotless.  Their
potential to handle this case is limitless."

Kierkegaard missed Wosniak's reply.  As Reggie returned with a hawkish,
heavyset knight behind him, Kierkegaard flushed with shame and adjusted

Author:    Walken         
Date:      Sat Dec 23 13:38:40 2006
Subject   Loster Tales of the Solamnic Knighthood, Part I

the straps on his armor, which were already in perfect placement.  Just as
he was on the verge of self-doubt, of his integrity and of his armor's fit,
Kierkegaard felt a hand thrust firmly towards him.  "Stabler.  You must be

Kierkegaard smiled, wistfully, "At your service."

The Storytellers of Ansalon, The DragonLance MUD

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