King Alfor III had died two years before. His son had been off exploring far off lands, and had just recently returned to find out about his father’s demise. In his absence, the land had been watched over by an uneasy coalition of nobles, but rivalries had put Pandia at the brink of civil war. Now, perhaps, that could be averted and the country returned to its former greatness.

“Alfor will now make his profession, and be anointed our leader,” Halifin the Mage announced.

Eight thousand eager eyes locked onto the tall, slender man who now took to the platform.

“I, Alfor son of Alfor, do profess and declare that I am of true blood of the Pandian people, and rightful heir to Alfor, the son of Alfor, the son of Alfor.”

With that Halifin poured oil on the head of the man, and placed a bronze crown upon his head. “All hail Alfor the Fourth, Lord of Pandia.”

There was a mighty cheer from the crowd.

Alfor, or should I say Anfwin son of Orry, leaned over to the mage and whispered, “Can I have that sandwich you promised me, now?”

“Soon, Lord,” the new chief advisor said with a grin. “Soon.”



Garn was said to be a man without equal. He was tall and muscular, as well as ruggedly handsome. He was in most every way a symbol of his nation. He, himself, saw such talk as worthless, however, for Garn was a man of action and not words.

As he strode down the corridors of the palace, the various guards and attendants smarted themselves in his presence. Reaching the throne room he waited for not introduction or summons, but walked right in. He stopped and gave a courteous nod to the king; no bow or bent knee, for such was not in Garn’s character.

“Ah, Captain Garn,” the king said. “It is good of you to come on such short notice.”

“Always at your disposal, Majesty,” the hero replied.

“I have a matter of the utmost sensitivity for you. There seems to have been an incursion on the northwest border.”

“What is sensitive in that, I can deal with it straight away, and make an example of the Helians.”

“”Well, that’s just the thing,” the king said clearing his throat. “It seems it is we who have crossed the border, and now the officer who crossed over is trapped alongside thirty of his men. I am afraid that I will need your special skill-set to find them and lead them back to this side of the frontier without alerting the Helians to your, or their presence beyond the border.”

“Can we not deal with this diplomatically, and state is was a foolish act of a minor officer?”

“Well, here again it’s a bit tricky,” the king said. “The officer in question is Prince Talbo.”

“I see,” the hero said with no attempt to disguise his distaste for the situation. “I will leave immediately.”

“I knew I could count on you,” the monarch said with a weak smile.

“Always, Majesty.”



The Dinning brothers tarried at the fork in the road. Eventually Jack reached into his pocket and took out a coin.

“Crest or eagle?” he queried.

“Don’t you mean heads or tails?” Ernst replied.

“It doesn’t have a head,” Jack retorted. “It’s a Saq. It has a crest on the obverse and an eagle on the back.”

“Yes it does,” Ernst challenged.

“Yes it does – what?”

“Yes it has a head. The eagle has one,” Ernst observed.

“Okay, in that case heads or tales?” Jack asked in an annoyed tone.

“Wait, the eagle has a tail too. Maybe it should be crest or eagle.”

“Skip it,” Jack snapped. “I’m going to the left.”


The Warning

Hugh Carter stood at the door of the tavern. He was thirsty and road-weary and scanned the packed room for any sign of a seat. It was then that he spied a small table in a far corner. He maneuvered himself through the throng and slid into one of the three vacant seats and set his travelling bag in one of the others. He then slung his cloak on the back of the chair he was sitting in before making his way to the bar and ordering a pint and a pie.

When he returned to the table he saw a neatly folded piece of paper tucked into the wicker back of the chair opposite. He leaned over and retrieved it and opened it to see what it might be.

It read, My friend, if you are reading this, you are in grave danger. As I would would not wish any misfortune to befall you, please move to the far side of the tavern. I trust you will be thankful for this warning.

Hugh looked around but no one seemed to be taking any particular notice of him, but he did get an uneasy feeling from a large cloaked man two tables over. Taking a wide berth of the man he gathered his drink and belongings and went and stood near the bar. As soon as he made the move, three rather weedy-looking youths sped to the now vacant table. A particularly spotty lad with bad teeth gave him a wave and shouted, “Thanks mate.”


The Bard: A Song

Ren wiped the sweat from his face and looked at the mountain road before him. So far, he thought to himself. Too far. He had been on this road for three days and in all that time he had yet to meet anyone. He examined the path and it was easy to see that grass had begun to reclaim part of the roadway. Oh, well. Not going to get there standing here, he mused.

He had left home a year before, and tried his hand at various occupations. His slender build, however, didn’t really suit the labouring jobs he tried at first. He then landed a position in a tavern. The hours were long, but he enjoyed the work. He in fact became a rather skilled barman. This too was short-lived, a fire in the wee hours had destroyed not only his place of employment, but nearly killed him as well.

As he took to the road again he began to hum to himself. Soon, he was belting out some of the songs of heroism he had heard in the tavern. One particular tune that he particularly liked had several lines that he didn’t understand. Despite this, there was something about the words that lifted his spirit and made him feel invincible.

He got caught up in the song and let his travel become automatic. Because of this he failed to notice the bugbear at the mouth of a grotto he was passing until her was nearly on top of it. When he did see it he was shocked to see the creature transfixed at his voice. He tried to decide whether he should flee or to proceed. Go on, he thought to himself. He took a few more steps and continued to sing. It was then that he got to the mysterious words. As he rang them out, the beast covered its ears and fled into the cave.

Surprised at his luck, but not wanting to take any chances, Ren repeated the same verse for the next thirty minutes. Then hoarse and a bit shaken he finally rested. “I have to find out what that song is about,” he said to himself.


Moving Up

Pengfei Liu at

Jay rested soundly knowing that he had not lied to his mother on his last visit. She had for years belittled him, and used every opportunity to negatively compare him, and his accomplishments, with his brother. Jay had had enough, so he boldly told her that he was in the process of moving into a much better part of town, and that he in fact was going to have some of the most influential neighbours in the city.


The Corporation Girl


She thought she heard his voice in the hallway outside of her apartment, so she immediately changed out of her tracksuit into something ‘a little less comfortable.’ She had just finished putting on her long red wig when he began knocking on her door.

“Jerry darling, what a surprise she said giving him a passionate kiss. I wasn’t expecting to see you until Thursday.”

“I had a meeting on this side of town so thought I might give you a little visit. I hope that’s okay.”

“Of course it is,” she said with what seemed a sincere smile.

In reality it had caught her way off guard. She hadn’t had a chance to read the latest dossier from her handler yet, and new there was something she was supposed to include in the conversation to draw him out a bit.

“It’s a bit early to open a bottle of wine,” she said. “Should I put the kettle on?”

“I was thinking more about taking things off, if you know what I mean,” he said with a wink.

“Why don’t you go into the bedroom than and get comfortable. I will be in in just a minute,” she said giving him a kiss.

As he started loosening his tie and heading to the bedroom, she took a quick look at the file.

“Oh, I see,” she said to herself and grabbed a bottle of red and two glasses.

As she entered the bedroom she said, “Brought us a little something after all.”

Ten minutes later, after the drug took hold, she got the combination for his briefcase from the dossier and she quickly photographed the encloses design specifications. The folks back at the firm were going to love this, the whole project was in there.

“Sometimes you make this too easy, Jerry,” she said quietly giving him a kiss on his sleeping cheek. “But a girl has to do what a girl’s got to do.”



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“I’m really not sure about this,” Ryan said.

“Well, if we want to get in we can either try our luck at the main gate or sneak in this way.”

“But look at all that light, how are we going to ‘sneak.'”

“The light is all from the service tunnels. All the real security is above us in the compound. All we need to do is snorkel through the entry, stash our gear and put on the catering uniforms.”

“This is crazy. We change from wetsuits, to kitchen whites, then to eveningwear when we get into the grounds.”

“We have planned this for weeks. There is no need to second guess the plan now,” Tonya responded.

“It still sounds risky. One last question: what if we are seen coming out of the water?”

“Then we silence the threat.”

“That sounds a bit extreme,” Ryan replied.

“Well, it’s not my fault you threw the invitations away.”

“It was an accident, but wouldn’t it have been easier to just ask for another invite?”

“And sound pathetic,” Tonya said coldly.

“Okay, I surrender. But I do think you are enjoying this a bit too much.”



Karen went ballistic when she found out that her husband, Kenneth, had gambled away their entire life’s savings.

“What were you thinking?” she yelled in a shrill tone.

“Well you remember when I asked you to marry me and you said, ‘Yes, I guess this is your lucky day’.”

“Yes, I remember.”

“Well, I was just trying to prove that you were right. So, in reality, it’s your fault.”



CCC 208

Sir George was confused. The baron had ordered him into the valley to rid it of a marauding dragon. He had checked all of the usual haunts: three caves and rocky overhang, but no evidence of a beast was found at any of them.

Was he losing his touch, he wondered. After all he was an expert in the dragon game. This perplexed him.

After checking the closest of the caves again, he tethered his horse to a pine and sat down on a log to consider his options. As he ran through the evidence he couldn’t shake the sensation of sulfur in the air. But where could it be coming from?