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petefeet's "Second Adventure"


petefeet

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Hello kids and welcome to my second challenge!

 

A little about me... I'm 40, live in Nova Scotia (east coast), Canada, unmarried (though have a Gf), no kids (one cat), have WAY too many books and proud of it.

 

I'm a boiler and refrigeration operator by trade, though my dream is to have a "bricks & mortar" used bookstore. I currently, have a part-time one that I run out of my basement in my spare time and my whole inventory is science fiction & fantasy (my passion).

 

Main Quest:

 

In August 2013 I weighted 267 lbs and my doctor said I had to shut up about my sore knees or die (great guy, bedside manner of a doorknob).

 

So, I started trying to get healthy and since I'm a type "A" person I use www.loseit.com as my food log and calorie counter. I know weight around 190 lbs (before and current pic in my gallery).

 

So my main quest is to continue my healthy lifestyle and improve my fitness level.

 

To do that...

 

Side Quests:

 

1. Keep my daily food log and weigh-ins

 

2. Do at least 3 Cardio workouts a week, even if its just walking around my sub-division

 

3. Do at least 2 BBWW a week, this has been hard for me, I think because strength training is foreign to me.

 

Life Quest:

 

My long term life quest is get finish my basement (couple current pic's in my gallery) and turn it into a bookshop/rec-room.

 

But...

 

For this challenge, that will be taking a backseat (though will try to work on it as well) to my other passion, Freemasonry, otherwise known as "Masons". Likely your Grandfather was one.

 

Since I'm the Public Relations Guy for my Lodge and I find it hard to say "No", somehow I've been Volun-told into several projects due in the near term.

 

1. Learn my lines for the Quarry Degree (A bit like Shakespeare in the Park) Acting is NOT my thing. Degree is August 16.

 

2. Build a new "Community Breakfast" sign for our monthly fundraiser. Due Sept 13

 

3. Design/Create the 100th Anniversary program for our big celebration. Since I "know" how to print in color that somehow makes me a Graphic Designer? Due Sept 13

 

4. Learn the "White Apron" Lecture, only about 250 words, but in 19th Century English. Due Sept 3

 

5. Design/Create/Present The District Education program, it being "Masonic Jeopardy"

 

To help keep me sane (ish), I also like to write. So I will be continuing the adventure (previous entry's below) of petefeet as he explores the world around him. I try and take parts from my real life and weave them into a story.

 

So far....

 

     The years since my capture seem to have blurred together, fetching and carrying countless meals for a endless number of faceless gladiators, repairing armour, polishing weapons and suffering the abuses of those who are themselves scared of the fate that awaits them on the sands.

     Memories of my old life only come in brief flashes, sometimes triggered by the scent of flowers tossed upon the sands, or a colourful garment wore by a gladiators owner as they come to inspect their property. While I carve these brief escapes from reality, I also hate them, for they make the choking dust, drab food and unending work crush my spirits when they flee.

     My only chance to see the sun comes upon those days when we are required to rake the sands before a match or drag a luckless body from the field of battle. It was on one of these days that the mists that have been clouding my mind all these years started to lift. Hurrying out onto the hot sands, instantly deafened by the roar of the crowd, my follow slaves and I quickly started dragging the latest luckless victim back down into the catacombs, alive or dead we couldn't tell. It was a chore I had performed hundreds of times, but for some reason I felt compelled to remove the gladiators helmet, only to have the sightless eyes of a young man look back at me. The injustice of it all, the complete waste of a life, rocked me back on my heels as if I had been struck, it wasn't until one of my fellow slaves shoved me that I came to my senses.

     Still reeling with a flood of emotions, I gathered up the fallen gladiators sword and shield. The hand that picked up the shield was aged and wrinkled, when did that happen? And as I bent down to pick up the sword, the face that was reflected in the blade was pale, bloated and worn. Is this who I had become? How long HAD I been here?

     For days after that event, I went about my tasks as normal, but my mind was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. What life was I living? It was no life at all, doomed to end upon the rubbish pits outside the city walls, my body a meal for wandering dogs.

     My choices are limited, but I do have them. The life on the sand can be fleetly for those unskilled and unwary of the risks, my life as a slave has taught me how to be patient.

     So secretly, without announcing it to my fellow slaves, I started my transformation. Instead of the tasteless gruel that is our normal fare, I risked beatings and worse by stealing small amounts of fruit and nuts from the Masters tables and started echoing some of the simple combat movements that I've seen the gladiators perform over the years. The dim, dust filled corridors are a poor spot to train, though they do offer what I carve most, privacy.

     It is with mixed emotions that I am no longer able to hide my transformation. At first it was just my fellow slaves who started making the odd comment, but now I have noticed that the Masters have been looking at me more often of late. I am unsure where my transformation is taking me, THAT person it still very much a blur in my mind. Time will tell.

 

     With my days worth of mind numbing tasks done, I shuffle back to my bare cell and draw the tattered blanket across the portal in a gesture of privacy.

     Just as I'm about to lay down on my rough plank cot a voice outside my cell tell me that I'm wanted by one of the Masters in the Wheel room. Know that it is useless to complain and the very act of doing so WILL have repercussions, I drag myself up and hurry my way down the dusty corridor, my bare feet marking my passage.

     Upon entering the wheel room, I can't help myself but marvel at the engineering involved in creating this vast chamber and the machines within it, just below the sand filled floor of the Arena.

     My chance to stand in wonder is short lived as one of the white robed Master's snaps her fingers and points at the empty space before her. Going as fast as my short legs will carry me, I scurry over and stand before her awaiting her orders.

     I stand there bowing for several minutes, knowing that her eyes are boring into the top of my shaved head, before she speaks.

     "There!" That single word and a pointed finger direct me to one of the smaller wheels, which I quickly scramble into and start walking. In another time and another place I would look like a hamster in a ball, though this ball/wheel is connected to a series of ropes and pulleys designed to lift caged animals, large groups of troops and the like to floor of the arena where they can "magically" appear to those in the stands.

     Luckily, this time the platform connected to my wheel is empty and without too much effort I'm able to raise it to the surface where I assume a load awaits it. But the trap door fails to open and as I look to the Master she just stares at me a moment and then gestures for me to lower the platform. Confused by this request, I nevertheless do as I'm told and lower it to the floor once again.

     Looking the the Master for further instructions, I find that she has already left the wheel room, leaving me wondering what is going on.

 

     The catacombs are quiet, the days all seem to blend together, but I think today is one of the holy days celebrated in this place. As long as we slaves go about our duties, the Masters and Overseers leave us in peace. Perhaps I am weak, but other than my normal duties, I used this uncommon free time to rest my tired bones.

 

     Today I was given a rare taste of "freedom". One of the Overseers ordered me to assist him carrying packages from the shops within the city, normally these jobs are given to one of the larger slaves, but who was I to refuse?. At first the noise and smell overwhelmed my senses, so foreign to my life now in the catacombs as well as well as my life before.

     Luckily, the errands were light, nothing more than some fresh fruits and vegetables, though they did still tax my weak frame. Once our deliveries were made to the Arenas kitchens I was sent back to my normal duties with a nod from the Overseer rather than the blow I expected.

     Pleased with myself, and in the comfort of my own cell, I performed some of the strength exercises I had seen the gladiators do in the training grounds before going to sleep.

 

     Knowing that one of the Overseers required me throughout the night, I was allowed to sleep late, leaving my normal chores to the other slaves. This rare chance for extra sleep was ruined when one of the rats that infest the slave quarters made its way up on my cots and ran over my face. The sudden shock and instant disgust made going back to sleep almost impossible.

     Aware that if I left my cell, I would be given work to do, I quietly spent some time and tried to tidy up my little cell to reflect my growing scene of well-being.      

     Some time later, realizing that I was pushing my luck, I left my cell and helped my fellow slaves at our chores until the meal bell rang. I was just able to gulp down a few mouthfuls of my own meager rations when one of the Overseers grabbed me by the shoulder and marched me to one of the workshops. Inside was a brute of a man dressed in the white robes of a Master in a room filled with glass vessels of different size and shape and who proceeded to show me how to fill these vessels with fine sand.

     I had seen these strange vessels before, they are used in someway to tell the passage of time, though how I don't know. I do know this, watching a Master add and remove tiny amount of sand from various vessels while I fetched and carried made a very long night. Why this needed to be done at night was something I didn't dare ask.

     My ruined chance for extra sleep plagued me through the whole night, until the Master sent me to my cell just as I could hear the sounds of the city awaken outside.

 

      Weary beyond measure, my restless mind won't allow me body to sleep, so it wasn't until the catacombs were fully alive with activity that I was able to fall asleep. My blessed taste of oblivion was short lived as a ruckus out in the corridor woke me. It was nothing more than barrels of pitch being rolled down the hallways, fuel for the torches, but the vibrations created by their passage had every rat in the area running for cover and that highway seemed to be through my cell.

     Knowing that trying to sleep anymore would be useless, I quickly dressed and went about my chores within the massive complex, even though I knew I had another long night ahead of me.

     Thankfully I was send to another Master, a kind old fool, who wished  for somebody to talk too, rather than labour for him.  I used this rare moment of freedom to perform some of the gladiators exercises in a quiet corner, while the old Master was deep in his cups. While my body was tired from lack of sleep, knowing that I did a "little" better this time than last, brought a tiny smile to my face.

 

      Today is a great day, one of my kinsmen is here!

     He is a slave to a Master who travels outside of the city looking for fighters to perform in the Arena. A couple times a year his Master comes to the arena unknown reasons, reasons that my kinsmen won't speak of.

     Since I toiled the night before, I was allowed to sleep late, giving my kinsmen and I some time to catch up on the affairs of the world. Most of what he says I don't understand but some of the images he paints in my mind stay with me for days.

     This time he also had something else for me, a full wineskin which he lifted from his Masters luggage before coming here. Alcohol of any kind is forbidden to us slaves, but many have found ways around that, though its not something I've tried often.

     But tonight was a special night, so my kinsmen and I hide within my cell and passed the wineskin between us as he told me of the many lands and peoples he has come across. I'm convinced that most of his stories are lie's, I mean who has ever heard of a giant with breathe of ice? But his stories lift me up and make me forget about my pitiful life in the catacombs beneath the arena.

     By the time the wineskin is empty, it is late and my kinsmen bids me farewell, hoping that we will meet again.

 

      If I had ever forgotten that i was slave, today I remembered it.

     Apparently my secret consumption of the contents of the wineskin from last added my sleep, since I failed to get up with the other slaves, causing an Overseer to seek me out.

     I was found snoring loudly atop my pallet with the wineskin on the bare stone floor beside me.I was roughly roused and taken before the Masters. I feared a whipping if not worse, but was "lucky" enough to just get punishment detail along with my other duties.

     So after my normal duties had been carried out I was ordered out onto the hot sands of the Arena to polish the copper fittings adoring the chariots used sometimes by the gladiators, then dragged to a nearby abandoned garden and put to work breaking up the ground so it could be used again. Once the sun started setting I was ordered back to the Arena and its familiar underground passageways, but any hope of a break, meal or even water were dashed when I was taken to the wheel room and ordered to power the machines allowing the chariots to be brought back down.

     Once done, with head and shoulders bowed I was escorted back to my tiny cell, where I promptly collapsed into an exhausted slumber.

 

     I was so stiff from my punishment detail yesterday that I dreaded the days toil ahead of me.

     Luckily, I  was pulled aside and told that I would be acting as personal servant to two of the Masters at a feast. Could it be that somebody felt sorry for me and gave me this easy detail? I find that hard to believe.

     From my position far in the back I was able to see various city officials give speeches  to the crowd, though they didn't seem to be saying much, but everybody nodded and clapped their hands.

     Other than fetching and carrying meals for the Masters, I was left alone and able to sneak a couple bits for myself. There were other slaves running to and fro, some looked to be better treated than myself, though many less with bruises in open display. Perhaps I'm luckier than I thought.

 

     Apparently today was some kind of holiday to the citizens of the city, best I could figure out that it might have something to do with one of their goddesses, though fertility or death I couldn't figure out.

     I was part of a detail tasked with cleaning up one of the cities cemeteries, the work was hard but the weather mild, so I was able to toil in peace. After our effort was done to the satisfaction of the Overseer, we were used as laborers to help deliver flowers and such to some of the older female citizens, perhaps as a thank you for some service or other?

 

     Like so many of my days, this one was just another of boring work and mind numbing routine. Doing tasks that will never be appreciated though noticed if missed, days like this give me the chance to escape mentally while my body goes through its paces.

 

      Mindless tasks fill my day. Overseers ordering us to do jobs that could be done easier if we were listened too, but a quick backhand would be the only thanks we would get so I try and keep my peace.

     And if the mindless running around wasn't bad enough, I was tasked with unclogging the Arena's public washrooms, a job done in the dark with glowing red eyes and the scamper of tiny feet my only company. Dirty and filthy, I was not fit to be around the Masters and was "allowed" the privilege of a cold bath.

     Tired and discouraged, I ate two portions of our unhealthy gruel before retiring to my hard wooden pallet.

 

 

     Berating myself for falling into a depression and thinking that the heavy tasteless gruel of the slave pens could fill the emptiness, I vowed to redouble my secret efforts to improve my lot in life and hopefully gain my freedom from these catacombs.

     So before heading out of my cell, I tried once again the strength building exercises I had seen the gladiators perform. The week in between my efforts was telling, since it was just as difficult if not worse than last time, but I was pleased with myself never the less.

     Once again I was sent out as part of a work party outside of the catacombs, something that I was never a part of before, though other slaves were. Perhaps the Overseers think I'm now strong effort for other chores? I doubt I'll ever know, though I do know that breathing in fresh air even while bent over planting crops is a blessing over the choking dust of the catacombs.

     After a long day planting seeds, I was looking forward to my pallet, hard as it may be, but sleep was not in my near future.

     I was ordered to assist preparing and serving a late night meal to a select group of older Masters who are all members of some kind on mysterious society. All I know was that once again I feel to temptation and stole a few choice bits of rich juicy meat, though I was careful not to get caught.

 

     While the poor food, unclean conditions and unhealthy atmosphere are constantly wearing down my soul, sometimes it's the faceless/voiceless part of my existence that depresses me the most. For example, I was told that I needed to be part of a group and receive instruction from the Masters about the proper way to assist them in their magical arts. I tried telling an Overseer, that I took part in this training months ago, but since they didn't remember, I had to do it again. If that wasn't bad enough, I was then ordered to perform chores throughout the night. I was little more than a walking shadow, when finally allowed to find my pallet.

 

      After a short sleep, my life as a walking shadow continued as most of them do, one mindless task to the next. The work keeps my body going, but leaves my mind to fall prey to all the possibilities that will never be. I can see why some of my fellow slaves steal drink or drugs from some of the Masters, maybe numbing yourself to reality works for some, but I can't help but see it as lying to oneself.

     These late night chores for the Masters leave me too much time to think, I see my thoughts turning morbid at these times. Thankfully, I was also free enough to slip away without being seen and performed some of the exercises the gladiators perform to strengthen their bodies. I can't seem to do any more than before, though I'm not as stiff from trying as I was.

 

      I think the Creator of all things was looking out for me today, at least the Overseer's and the like seemed to have forgotten about me, as I was allowed to sleep late after being on night duty. This being combined with a holy day, the Arena was closed and slaves, gladiator's and the like were largely left to fend for ourselves.

     Most of us did our necessary chores, but little other than that. Instead we retreated to the slave halls and quietly tried to make merry, allowing ourselves to forgot for a little while our dismal lives within the catacombs.

 

     My life has turned into a whirlwind of activity. With my fate tied to that of the Masters, I was sent all over the city on senseless errands, not given any refreshment when completed, my only reward being more errands.

     I was sent to help plant crops in an abandoned lot, and when only partly done, sent to fetch treats for a testy Master, after which being sent to the far side of the city to pick up a package that had already been delivered.

     I have been so busy lately, that if I wore sandals, I would have holes in them. One bit of good news though, I hope to be able to watch an new instructor train the Gladiators in a few days, if I can sneak away from my duties.

 

     I'm not sure what has happened, one minute I'm performing my normal mindless tasks within the catacombs of the Arena serving the Masters and the Gladiators, the next I find myself laying at the bottom of a small crater. My skin is red and raw, my slave robes tattered and singed, and my head feels like it's going to explode.

     Unable to steady myself enough to get my feet under me, I crawl to the top of the crater and see nothing but open countryside around me. It would seem that I'm in the middle of some farmers fields, since the ground is covered in vegetable plants, though they are just spring shoots as far as I can tell. Why this seems important, only my addled brain can tell, all I know is that the city which I've spend most of my life is nowhere to be seen.

     I don't know how long I lay there staring at nothing before some impulse caused me to realize that the sun was going down and it would be dark soon. Finally able to stand on my own, I mindlessly wandered through the vegetable field before coming upon an old barn.

     While no one was there when I dragged myself within its old plank walls, though evidence of recent activity could be seen. Maybe the farmer used this old barn as a loading and unloading site since work tools and clay pots were scattered around. My investigations were rewarded, for atop of an old bench sat a waterskin with beads of condensation still on its surface. Until I had seen the waterskin, I hadn't realized how thirsty I was, now my throat feel like it was filled with sand.

     With shaky hands I carefully and slowly brought the waterskin up to my mouth, fearful to spill a single drop of this precious life giving liquid. This simple drink seemed to throw a switch within my head, as the reality of my situation started to become real. I was no longer a slave to the Arena, and while I had no idea where I might be or how I got here, for the first time since I was a child, I was free.

     One other thing I did know, that in my current state, I wasn't fit to make anymore decisions until I had some rest and could think clearly again.

     With the last rays of the dying sun stabbing through the gaps in the barns boards, I was able to gather up a small pile of straw near a corner and fall into a deep sleep, uncertain what I would find when I woke.

 

     My dreams that night were a mixture of twisted memories from my life in the Arena, though now with me as a Gladiator rather than a slave. While I knew that this wasn't the way it was, a old and weakened voice, whispered "Actions make us Hero's, inaction can only make you a slave".

     Just as I was about to call out to this odd voice and ask what it meant, I was jerked back to wakefulness as I found the middle tine of a pitchfork pricking beneath my chin and a looming shadow standing above me.

     "Now what you be? Thief or Murderer? Either will get you the noose!" said a rough male voice

     "Oh, don't be silly Grandpa, can't you see he's hurt and what would a thief want with your tomato plants?" a voice female voice scolded the old man, apparently her Grandfather.

     The pitchfork retreated slightly and a set of old rheumy eyes peered down at me. "Tis only a halfling anyway, if my tomato's had been ripe, then we would'a had a problem..."

     Pushing her Grandfather away, the young woman ("Jan" I later learned) extended her hand and helped me up, only to have to grab me as I almost collapsed again. "How badly are you hurt? When did you last eat or drink?"

     The next couple of hours are a blur as Jan striped me of my burned and tattered robes, spread some salve on my burns and dressed me in some old workman's clothes, before almost forcing me to eat the meal she had brought for her and her Grandfather, all the while the old man puttered around the barn pitchfork in hand.

     With warm clothes on my back, my painful burns fading to a mild ache and my stomach full, I started to feel my normal self. Seeing this Jan asked me how I got here and where I came from. I said that I came from the city and I don't know how I got here.   

     "But which city?" she asked?

     "I don't understand what you mean, which city? You mean there is more than one?"

     This statement brought a sharp laugh from the old man, "Darn fool, don't even know what city it be from! Enough of this silly talk, we've lost daylight and our lunch because of this short feller, the least you can do is earn your keep by helping us from the rest of the day."

     Jan's protests feel on deaf ears, and in truth I did feel beholden to the pair for the food and clothes they provided.

     So with my mind still a whirl of unanswered questions, I spend the rest of the day working along side of Jan and her Grandfather as they planted and weeded several acres of tomato plants and cleaning out their watering tank.

     We were just about to stop for a mid-day break when I looked up and saw a tiny hut on the edge of the field. "Who lives there I asked?" Jan's Grandfather just glared at me and stomped away.

     "Normally Grandfather and I stay there during planting and harvesting so we don't have to travel into the village as much, but this year a huge nasty rat has made a den in the hut and we can't get rid of it."

     To this day I don't know why I did it, but before I realized that my mouth was open, I said "I'll take care of it!"

     "You! a weak and unarmed halfling! You think you can kill that beast, when me, a member of the militia in me younger days can't" bellowed Grandfather.

     Determined to pay back Jan for all her kindness, I started towards the hut, but she caught my arm.

     "If you're going to do this, you should at least try and prepare yourself." Jan said, as she guided my back to the barn.

      With limited resources at my command, I though back to my days working in the Arena and tried to think how the Gladiators prepare before battle. My new-to-me work clothes were as tough as anything else I could see in the barn, nor was there anything resembling a shield and none of the work gloves would fit my hands. So tearing long strips from my discarded burned robe, I wound them around my hands as some limited form of protection before grabbing the pitchfork from the tool rack and marching back to the hut.

     Neither Jan or her Grandfather said anything to me as I passed them and came up to the hut's open door. Pushing the door to the tiny hut fully open I saw nothing but a couple bunk beds, a small wood stove and a stool, no sign of a monster rat.

     With my pitchfork held straight out in front of me as I remembered the Gladiators doing, I entered the hut. With no windows, the only light was what came through the open door, most of which I was blocking. Standing off to the side I frantically waved the pitchfork in front of me, but no attack came. Convinced that the Rat had moved on I nevertheless decided to search every inch of the hut.

     The only place left was under the bunk bed, and with the pitchfork ready I advanced only to hear a sharp crack come from the floorboards under my feet. I was just about to dismiss this when I heard heavy snorting coming from under the wooden floor. While normally rather nimble, today my luck failed as the boards beneath my feet  broke in two and pitched me into a hollow cavity under the hut.

     I wasn't even able to get back on my feet before the massive rat I was warned about charged at me. I was barely able to get my hands up in front of my face before it hit. Something broke within me, or maybe it was let free.... but either way I decided that I wasn't going to be the one how died today.

     With the pitchfork lost in the darkness, nor with the room to use it, I fought with the only weapons I had, my rag wrapped fists. The massive rat and I rolled and tumbled around it's den, it snapping at me and with its razor sharp teeth and me taking a swing when safe to do so.

     I don't know how long we fought before I realized that I could see clearly, my hands wrapped in the tattered and burned robes from my former life started to glow as sparks grew along my hands. For the first time since the fight started, I could see fear in the beady eyes of the rat. Confused be what was happening, I couldn't stop to wonder, but instead put every ounce of strength I had into my punches. Now when I hit the rat sparks flew and I could smell burned hair.

     Realizing that it was outmatched the rat tried to slip past me and flee out of it's hole, but I caught it around its neck and squeezed with all the pent up rage within me as my glowing hands burned through its flesh.

     The rat was quite dead before I could force myself to release my unharmed hands from around the charred flesh, its blacked skull all that was left of its head.

     Weary belong belief, I dragged myself out of the rats underground den and stumbled out of the hut, walking towards an amazed Jan and her Grandfather.

 

     For the first time in my life I've had somebody look at me in fear and I find it unsettling.

     After my battle with the massive rat, Jan and her Grandfather seems almost scared of me. Their words were filled with praise and thanks for clearing out the den beneath the tiny hut, but once they saw the creatures burned remains and the faint trails of smoke coming off my hand wraps, they made sure to never stand with their backs to me and several times I caught them casting furtive glances when they thought I wasn't looking,

     You could also see the tension flow out of them when I stated that it was time for me to hit the road, though where I was going I still had no idea. So with a full waterskin, an old canvas bag and a handful of dried fruit, all courtesy of Jan and her Grandfather, I bid them well and left.

     I travelled for a couple days, the long walks through the countryside seemed to energize me in a weird way, while I didn't know my destination, I was enjoying the journey.

     Just as night started to fall on the third day since my mysterious arrival in this strange land, I came upon a signpost. It was a simple affair, an old square and compass nailed to a rough plank at the edge of a narrow offshoot to the trail I was following. This was the first signs of habitation since I had left Jan and her Grandfather, so I decided to take the risk and see if I could beg a roof over my head for the night.

     Instead of a Inn or country estate, it would appear that I have come across a small Hermitage. It was a simple stone keep tucked into the forest with a few small outbuildings and gardens surrounding it. Unsure how to precede, the choice was made for me as I heard a loud voice call out.

     "You there, how might you be on this fair night?"

     Turning around, I noticed an elderly man humbling towards me with the aid of two canes, he seemed to be on the verge of falling into a tangled heap at any minute, but made it to me upright and smiling.

     He introduced himself as "Brother Charlie" and welcomed me to their small order. They were a group of men, for the most part removed from the outside world, spending their last years in fellowship and study, while offering assistance to any travelers who happened their way.

     My lack of funds or trading items didn't seem to make a difference in the way I was treated, my offer to work for my supper was accepted as suitable payment and was even offered a place to spend the night in exchange for helping in the kitchens. My skills learned in my last life as a slave in the Arena's catacombs came in handy as I did my best to return the kindness these gentle souls had shown me.

 

     My travels on the road have given me time to reflect on my past life and think about what I want for the future. Though massive decisions like that are often pushed to the back on my mind as minor matters such as my next meal and where can I find a warm place to sleep seem to always jump to the top of the list.

     I was lucky the other day though. Tired and soaking wet from the rain, I stumbled into a small town that seemed to meeting in a local hall just as dawn broke. With my stomach about to rebel against me and my feet partly frozen from the wet mud, I decided to risk a rude welcome and entered the hall.

     Taking one look at me, an elderly gentleman told me to warm up in the kitchen and if I was willing to serve the townsfolk at this community morning feast, I was welcome to whatever remained.

     The thought of having to wait until end of the meal before eating, almost caused me to lose my temper, before I realized that this old man was showing me a kindness, where another might not. So, resigned to my fate, I donned an apron and served a happy group of villagers who braved the early morning rain to show community support.

     I did fall into temptation at one point though, and stole a quick bite of a woman's bread to fortify me the rest of the morning, a villager saw me do so, but just through me a wink.

      After several hours of labor and the cleaning up that such an event causes I was given the leftovers. I was a bit saddened that all the bacon and sausage were gone, but had my fill of eggs and bread before continuing my travels.

 

     The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. I could tell you the story how I stumbled upon a mad cleric who wanted to stick metal clamps in my mouth so he could look for my soul, or the group of poor children walking from temple to temple looking for food and shelter, but instead of those I have something different.

     After breaking free from the clutches of the mad cleric I paused a minute at a crossroads to catch my breathe and count my blessings when one of the posters on the signpost caught my attention.

     This poster invited all those "traveling from the west, headed east" to witness a ceremony of fellowship at a nearby village at dusk. Still a bit heady from my successful flight from the mad cleric, I felt like celebrating and this sounded like the perfect way, the only downside was that the town was 5 kilometers away and it was almost dusk.

     While I rarely ran in my former life as a slave, when I did it was for short distances, never something like this, but determined to make the ceremony I started jogging.

     I quickly became tired, but tried to focus on my surroundings rather than my fatigue. The day was beautiful, the air warm and with a slight breeze carrying the scent of the blooming blackberry canes, I was able to push myself to the next tree and then the next til I had to stop jogging though still walking along. After walking for a bit, I was able to catch my breathe and started jogging again. It was in this manner that I was able to travel the 5 kilometers in 45 minutes.

     Red faced and winded from my efforts I still felt very proud of myself for trying something that had otherwise be foreign to me. I made it to the village in time to witness the ceremony of fellowship being performed, I didn't understand everything that was happening, but it appeared that the people were formally accepting a new person into their fold.

    Everybody seemed quite excited by this ceremony and the feasting afterward. It was clear that I was a stranger to their village, but I was accepted anyways and made welcome.

 

     I still don't know where I'm traveling too right now, but the fact that I'm free of the burdens of my old life, makes each step I take seem that much easier.

     I almost wish that I could sing for my supper, since the only skills that I seem able to barter for involve me doing manual labour. Oh well, at least I have a choice in the matter where I didn't when I was a slave.

     Yesterday I helped clean village hall in exchange for a roof over my head and a full belly. Beating rugs and washing walls isn't all that glamorous but the works honest and you can see what you accomplished when you are done. I wasn't the only "traveling man" here earning his meal and cot, several others where in the same boat as myself and happy to have this chance. Apparently times are tough in the world and one must be thankful for what they do have rather that what they might think they want.

     With this lesson still firmly seated in my mind the next morning, I wished the villagers well and hit the trails once again. The day was pleasant, the air fresh and tiny wild strawberries lines the path which I stopped to pick. It was after midday when I heard the voice, cursing and swearing in anger. Uncertain what I was rushing into, but convinced that somebody was in danger, I tightened my rag-wrapped fists and plunged into the undergrowth.

     It was a wonderful sight! Long and sleek and bright yellow, here in the depth of the woods rested a boat of all things. Attached to it were may lines leading up to a massive balloon just above the tree line. My wonder cut short when I saw the origin of the cursing that brought be rushing to this scene. Here before me stood a small female gnome who was angrily tugging on a wrench before dropping it in favor of a hammer. It would appear that some part of the under carriage of the craft was damaged. Looking up from her efforts, the gnome wiped her hand across her brow, leaving a greasy smear in its wake and spoke.

     "Can you just going to stand there or are you going to help?"

     I was even allowed to finish my introductions, before the gnome waved her hands in front of my face and said, "Yes, yes, well meet and all that clap-trap, now hold this wrench!"

     The next hour was a blur of activity as the gnome ran all over the craft, tugging me along, having me fetch and catch, pull and tug items and controls that I had no idea what they did. Finally, it appeared all was to her satisfaction, as she lead down the gangplank, patted me on the arm with a greasy hand and proceeded to take off.

     It was a wondrous sight seeing this beautiful yellow contraption take off into the air, it was only after it was lost over the treetops did I get a chance to realize I have no idea who I helped nor what kind of vessel that was! 

 

     This road I travel isn't always the straightest, either in fact or circumstance.

     The other day I entered a small hamlet around midday in the hopes that I might meet some interesting people and maybe even a generous innkeeper who would spot me a bit of lunch. Upon entering the "Hidden Chamber" Inn, I was struck by the oppressive atmosphere of the place. The people at the tables stopped chatting when I entered the Inn, looked me over, seemed to come to some conclusion and then turned their backs to me.

     While I was neither greeted as a long lost family member, I wasn't either turned around and shown the door, so deciding to risk it I weaved myself through the tables and found the Innkeeper. Explaining my situation, that I was willing to work in exchange for a meal barely seemed to register with the Innkeeper as he wiped a chipped clay mug with a filthy rag.

     I was just about to risk repeating myself, when the innkeeper grabbed a plate off the passing tray carried by a worn and tired looking woman, maybe the innkeepers wife? and dropped it in front of me. There was a hunk of stale bread, a wizened apple and a slice of cheese just showing the first signs of green fuzz growing on it. "Them's in the Big 'Ouse having a prob'm with rats" mumbled the Innkeeper and waved his hand vaguely in the direction of the other side of the hamlet.

     Nodded my thanks for the food and job suggestion, I cautiously turned my attention to my "meal".

     My further attempts at conversation with the innkeeper only garnered me a couple grunts which seemed to make up most of his vocabulary. I was just scrapping the last bit of fuzz off my cheese when the inn's door opened again and a greying, potbellied man entered. This potbellied man and the innkeeper exchanged an odd glance and then the innkeepers eye drifted to me and then away again.

     Clearly some sort of signal had passed between the two as the potbellied man came right over to me.

     "I hear that you're looking for a bit of work? Well me lad did you ever come to the right place, I'm so thankful that you decided to stop in our little hamlet. You see I'm the major-domo for her ladyship at the manor, and we seem to be having an issue with a couple rats that we could use your help with. Now I realize that a powerful warrior like yourself won't normally stoop to such menial work, but if you could help us, I would make it worth your while."

     With that he reached into his purse and dropped a silver coin on the counter for "my lunch", which the innkeeper quickly scooped up.

     While the false praise of "powerful warrior", was clearly window dressing, I did feel somewhat beholding towards the man who bought my lunch and to be honest I was interested in seeing if my tattered and singed fist rags might still hold some power locked within them, as was shown the last time I went up against a massive rat.

     So with the clear interest of all the inns patrons, I followed the potbellied man from the "Hidden Chamber" and across the hamlet to the Manor House.

     In its former days that Manor must have been a sight to behold, but now it seems to be a victim to neglect. The mortar between the stones was missing in several places allowing a maze-work of vines to cover the walls, even over the windows.

     With more than a bit of hesitation, I followed the Major-domo into the Manor.

     The air was putrid with the smell of decay, though the source of the smell wasn't obvious. The neglect that could be seen outside, clearly wasn't in sight here. The walls and floor were clear and bright, fresh flowers sat in vases and no dust was in sight. With a deep breathe, I started relax a bit, maybe my unvoiced concerns were unfounded?

 

     With my guard somewhat relaxed, the Major-domo introduced me to his Mistress. She was an elderly woman who seemed to be little more than a bundle of twigs held together in a dress. With her hawk shaped face and mad head of hair, I doubt that she would have been considered beautiful even when she was young.

     Staring down her hawk-like nose at me, she gave a small nod and said, "Yes, yes you'll do, do you know what the problem is?"

     "The Innkeeper said something about you having an issue with rats and..." I started to reply, but as soon as I said "rats" the old woman started frantically turning about looking and crying out, she looked very much how I would image a scarecrow at a line-dance. The Major-domo quickly rushed to her side and tried to calm her while hissing at me "We don't use the R-word here!"

      After leading his mistress off into another room, the Major-domo returned to the hallway and instructed me to follow him. More than a little hesitant about continuing, I nevertheless followed the Major-domo deeper into the house and right to the study of his mistress.

     As soon as we entered the study, the smell was unmistakable, death and corruption had taken hold somewhere in this room.

     I quickly opened a window to clear the air, much to the disapproval of the Major-domo, but pretended not to notice and with my fists wrapped in tattered and singed rags I started my search.

      In no time at all, I found the object of the smell, a mouse had died behind a cabinet along one wall. Holding up the poor dead creature, I turned to the Major-domo in puzzlement and said: "A dead mouse? This is the Rat infestation that she's so concerned about? Your servants  should have been able to find and dispose of this."

     With a strange gleam in his eyes, the Major-domo responded. "Ah yes servants... Now you see that would be the problem. Our last one is no longer with us, my Mistress thought she was trying poison her and threw her down the stairs, but now that you're here, everything is ok again. Now be a good little halfling and I'll take you to your quarters, you will SO like your life here."

     Realizing that I was trapped in this house of mad people, I thought about trying to fight my way out, but could see now that the Major-domo had quietly locked the study door. Deciding on a different tactic, I chose to play along.

     "You mean, you would be willing to take me in and allow me to work in the beautiful house?" I said in a cheerful voice.

     Clearly, my easy acceptance on the situation pleased and surprised the Major-domo, though he didn't seem to relax his guard any as his hand was still upon his dagger at his belt.

     "That's right boy, we've give you work, you'll learn the ways of the Mistress soon enough."

     "That's right, the Mistress!" I responded, she won't want to see this dead mouse, I'll just get rid of it." And with that I casually wondered over to the window, I opened minutes earlier. With my freedom almost within reach, the Major-domo realized his error as he drew his dagger and started towards me.

     While never very fast, fear can be a great motivator, and I used the energy to spring the last few feet to the window and dive out. I landed painfully in a shrub and had to quickly free myself of my tattered cloak before sprinting for the treeline. I had just made the treeline when I heard the Major-domo in pursuit.

     Fearing what a life as a slave in that crazy household would be like, I ran as far and as fast as I could. I quickly outpaced the Major-domo who appeared to collapse in a fit of coughing, but only stopped when I got a terrible crap in my side.

     So, for the rest of the afternoon, I put as much distance between myself and that crazy hamlet as I could, walking and jogging until I was many kilometres away, determined to smarter in any future encounters with strangers.

 

     Free of the rat crazy Mistress and her poor brow beaten Major-domo, I continued my travels exploring the land and its peoples.

     The next day after a cold night curled up under a bush, my threadbare cloak truly missed, I came upon a traveling troupe of players who welcomed me to travel with them in exchange for helping at the next town. While I was in need of the companionship and meals, I looked forward to being a part of the "magic".

     Nearing sunset, we entered the small town and had to hurry to set up since apparently we were running a little late. I helped as much as I could, but to be honest it seemed that I was in the way more than helping, it was clear that this wasn't the first time this team went through this routine.

     When it came time for the play, I was told that i would be conducting one of the blindfolded players around the stage, but not to fear that I would be part of a chain and just to copy what the others did.

     We were just about to go on, when the player I was to conduct, objected to my tattered appearance. Several sharp nods answered him, and one of the stage hands slipped away. I saw her make her way through the crowd of villagers to watch the show, greeting people and point up at the stage etc... when she very deftly lifted a heavy cloak from one of the merchants come to watch the play. I was about to object, when my shoulder was patted and the Manager of the Players told me "we" would return it after the play was done.

     Dressed a fine new cloak, I took my place in the troupe and the play started. I'm not really sure what the play was about, though everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, the players and the villagers. After the play was over, the villagers treated us to food and wine, it was after midnight when we all stumbled back to the wagons.

     When I finally woke, I realized that I was wrapped in the "borrowed" cloak of the merchant! Hoping up I almost tumbled into a heap as I realized that the wagon I was in was moving!

     Apparently my cloak wasn't the only thing that got borrowed last night, as the players and their wagons left the town before sunrise and the villagers could see that several expensive items had gone missing.

     My pleas that we turn around and return to the village were met with laughs, and I was told that if I didn't like how things were done, I was welcome to continue on my own!

     So in a huff, I parted ways with the Players and their stolen items and started backtracking towards the village. My good intentions were short lived, for barely a mile down the road I came to a fork in the path and had no idea which way to turn. In frustration I jammed my rag wrapped hands into the pockets of the stolen cloak and found to my amazement a full coin purse!

     Unsettled about the way that I came upon my new found wealth, I couldn't help but see how this money could really benefit me in my travels...

 

     Feeling guilty at so easily being deceived by the troupe of players and unable to return the full purse, petefeet continued his travels, head down heedless of direction.

     It wasn't until the cold wet slap of the changing wind hit him in the face did he rouse himself from his "funk" and look around at his surroundings. Somehow his mud covered feet had left the main path and brought him in a heavily wooded area with little sign of habitation around, not only that, but it appeared that a massive storm was just minutes away as the tree started waving about and a line of low clouds started rolling towards him.

     Cursing himself for his inattention, petefeet frantically looked around for some kind of shelter. His search became even more urgent as the skies opened up with monstrous thunder and lightening along with a wall of rain headed in his direction. With fear lending his tired legs added strength, petefeet climbed up a gentle rise and left the trees behind. In front of him laid the collapsed remains of an old stone tower, now nothing more than a heap of rumble covered in moss and shot through with vines and thorn bushes. With the chance of even limited shelter over his head being better than nothing at all, petefeet crashed his way through the bushes and hid amongst the collapsed stones just as the full fury of the storm hit.

 

     With the storm raging, our little halfling sits curled up against a bit of tumbled wall with his newly acquired cloak wrapped tightly about him, cursing himself. If he had paid better attention to his surroundings and companions he might not be in this mess. What good does a full purse do you in the wilderness with the rain running down your noses and the chattering of your teeth threatening to bite off your own tongue if you're not careful!

     Somehow, amongst the thunder and lightening, howling winds and blinding rain, petefeet managed to fall asleep, only to wake up to blue skies and warm temperatures. Crawling out from the tumbled remains of the tower, he realized how lucky he was to find even this small amount of shelter since the landscape around him looks like its been blasted by giants. Trees are uprooted and look like they were tossed around like pieces of firewood.

     Patting the stones of the old tower in thanks, petefeet set out once again vowing to be better prepared for whatever might come his way.

      By midmorning the smell of cook fires greeted his nose and grumbling stomach as he burst his way out from a bit of undergrowth and once again came upon civilization. It was nothing more than a single farmstead, though it looks like it received more than its fair share of storm damage.

     Tightening his belt and squaring his cloak, petefeet walked towards the farmstead to see if he could lend a hand.

 

     With the farmer truly thankful for the assistance that petefeet provided cleaning up his property, our little halfling continues on his journey with a spring in this step.

     Shortly after midday, petefeet enters the town of "Sorrow" and his bright and cheery mood is broken. It is a sad day in the town of Sorrow, a beloved child of the village had passed away and all the villagers came out for the funeral. Feeling slightly uncomfortable being in the middle of all this grief, he never-the-less decided to stay and offer his respects as best he could.

     The town's Priest spoke before the huge mass of people and told stories of how the little boy had touched the lives for some many people in his 7 short years. The boy wanted nothing else than to help the town and was made an honorary member of the town's militia who stood honor guard over his remains.

     At the end of the service many people were clearly upset but seemed happy that they had this time to share their grief.

 

     Feeling slightly uncomfortable being around so many strangers in their time of grief, petefeet left the service for the young boy, made a donation in his memory at the local temple and decided to properly outfit himself.

     Using the remains of his ill-gotten purse, our little halfing vowed that he would not be caught unprepared again. Visiting several shops within the town, he purchased a sturdy set of adventuring cloths, a heavy leather bag with food, wineskin, flint and tinder and an assortment of other goods. So far the burned and tattered rags wound around his hands have served him well, but they aren't enough to dissuade an enemy, with that in mind, petefeet used some if his last funds to purchase a small crossbow.

     With the day nearing an end, he thought about renting lodgings for the night, but the mood with the town was still somber, so instead he turned his back to the town of "Sorrow" and walked away just as the heavens opened.

     Hopefully that isn't a sign of things to come for our little friend.

  • Like 4

Race: Halfling     Class: Rebel

 

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     "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea?" petefeet says to himself as he wades through ankle deep mud, his clothes soaked through with sweat due to the humidity and horse flies trying to remove pieces of his flesh one pound at a time.

     The road from the town of Sorrow transformed into a river of mud several miles back and with more distant rumbling slowly creeping closer, our little halfling decides that enough is enough and starts looking for a place to "hole up".

     Remarkably, relief is close as hand an old barn sits at the edge of a nearby field, half of its roof appears to have collapsed, but seeing nothing better, petefeet makes a beeline for it.

     At one time this must have been an impressive structure, a thick rock wall supports a timber structure above, and a stout wooden door seems firmly attached. Using a nearby rock, petefeet knocks the rust off the latch and is able to open the door, only to be almost knocked over by several feet of stagnate water now freed from its rock prison.

     Even more wet than he was before, and the smell of mold heavy in the air, petefeet explores his makeshift shelter. At least one section the floor seems higher than the rest, so he decides to wait out the coming storm here.

     He didn't have long to wait...

     While no where's near as nerve wracking as the storm from a few days ago, petefeet was no less miserable. The roof leaked steadily, the ground was too soft and muddy to sit on and he was cold.

    Somehow, squatting in a corner he was able to catch a couple brief naps, because by dawn the sky was clear, the air refreshed and the birds singing.

     Heedless of his wet clothes, knowing the would dry as he walked, petefeet stormed out of the old barn, slamming the door behind him!

 

 

Hey kids,

 

Just thought I would post a bit before challenge starts next week. 

 

Part of my job is to take care of the refrigeration units in several out building at my work (Agricultural Research). During a POURING rain storm yesterday, I got an alarm saying the reefer in the Red Barn was too warm. This massive old red barn is where the science heads keep their apple root stock (baby trees) in this big walk-in cooler. I open the big cooler door, only to have 6 inches of trapped water come pouring out and through me! Apparently some the rain gutters failed and dumped all the rain water into this 20 x 40 foot cooler, thence warming the room up (my alarm).

 

If that wasn't back enough, when I got to work this morning I found three floors of the science building with water damage due to a broken off tap, and since nobody was in the building for 14 hours it just ran through and collapsed ceilings, science do-hickey's etc.. leaving me a big mess to help clean up.

 

Thank goodness it's Friday!

 

To unwind, I went for a nice long walk through a local hiking trail and enjoyed the outdoors.

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Race: Halfling     Class: Rebel

 

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Wow - water is insidious!!!  Did it end up by providing you a good workout??

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Some sort of Jedi .....

We are better than we know, if we can be made to see it, [then] for the rest of our lives, we'll be unwilling to settle for less.  

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"No, I'm from Iowa.  I only work in outer space." -- James T. Kirk

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Wow - water is insidious!!!  Did it end up by providing you a good workout??

 

Workout? Yes, running around and up and down stairs to open/close valves, turn on pumps etc.. quite the Cardio workout.

 

I love being in water. .. but not that way!

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

 

I love the water as well, but not like this. The flood in the cooler was cold and smelly (new boots needed!) and the collapsed ceiling tiles was like standing in a rain of cold oatmeal.

 

To put it positively, you always seem to have content for your writing. Sounds like you've got a plan. I'll be following :)

 

Glad to have you Feowyn, thank you for the kind words.

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Race: Halfling     Class: Rebel

 

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Fictionfirst Used Books (Feel free to like my page!)

 

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you can never be too proud of how many books you own.

sub'd

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LEVEL: 7 Furyan Ranger - Battle Log - in lieu of this challenge

don't look back, we aren't going that way:

Rebirth - Wrestlemania Dark Raider vs KZacher

From Tartarus with Love - Wrath of the Furyan - it's a secret! - FIGHT! - You can go your own way - The Rational Gaze - Rise from Death to Knife this Beast(part 3-the agony) - Demonized(part 2) -  By Demons Be Driven(part 1) -

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Subbed and will return to read the story parts :)

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RES...and I want to live days worth dying for...

Current: RES: it's all routine

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Magickal, Eclectic, Goddess, Level 64

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Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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 collapsed ceiling tiles was like standing in a rain of cold oatmeal.

Ew.

 

Just checking up on ya. Yeah, I uh...can't stand rain ever since hurricane irene a few years back. Flooded where I live and I lost roughly 80% of everything.  Luckily with some smart thinking; I took a few milk crates and flipped them upside down and then lifted a bunch of furniture stuff so I was able to save my fridge, freezer, bed, some chairs, and a couch.  But a lot of memory stuff got ruined.

 

If I saw that much water flying at me I probably would have panicked a little.

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Ew.

 

Just checking up on ya. Yeah, I uh...can't stand rain every since hurricane irene a few years back. Flooded where I live and I lost roughly 80% of everything.  Luckily with some smart thinking; I took a few milk crates and flipped them upside down and then lifting a bunch of furniture stuff so I was able to save me fridge, freezer, bed, some chairs, and a couch.  But a lot of memory stuff got ruined.

 

If I saw that much water flying at me I probably would have panicked a little.

 

*hugs*

 

Looking forward to your post, petefeet! Can't wait to read about your latest adventures. :)

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Kareesh

Halfling | Rebel

[Level: 1]

Current Challenge

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hope you're alright and things are looking up

  • Like 1

LEVEL: 7 Furyan Ranger - Battle Log - in lieu of this challenge

don't look back, we aren't going that way:

Rebirth - Wrestlemania Dark Raider vs KZacher

From Tartarus with Love - Wrath of the Furyan - it's a secret! - FIGHT! - You can go your own way - The Rational Gaze - Rise from Death to Knife this Beast(part 3-the agony) - Demonized(part 2) -  By Demons Be Driven(part 1) -

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Still here kids, thanks for your concern.

 

Gf and I spend weekend trying to relax and re-connect (there have been issues), had three drop-ins to my basement bookstore on the weekend and going to spend today (holiday here) studding up a wall in basement.

 

Will do a story tonight (got some material <g>)

 

Thanks again for your concern everyone

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Race: Halfling     Class: Rebel

 

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Fictionfirst Used Books (Feel free to like my page!)

 

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I am envious of the bookstore, although I'm not sure I'd ever want to be in retail!! 

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Some sort of Jedi .....

We are better than we know, if we can be made to see it, [then] for the rest of our lives, we'll be unwilling to settle for less.  

Walk to Mordor Spreadsheet

Past Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35. 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

"No, I'm from Iowa.  I only work in outer space." -- James T. Kirk

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