August 28, 2012

Lions

-Preamble-
BTW, I forgot to mention, I'd like to thank Theresa Milstein (check out her blog) and Khnoum for their support, Okurokami may never have gotten done if it weren't for their interest.
Now I can finally post other stories. 

Some of you may recognize this story as taking place in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, however, some things might strike you as unusual. That would be because it is actually set in the universe of the Discworld MUD

What are MUDs? Hmm... Without getting technical, MUDs are the ancestors of MMORPGs. Essentially, it's a text based game in which the players create a character and control them through text based commands as they explore the world, bake pies, slay creatures, learn musical instruments and whatever else the developers have thought of. TDTTOE. ; j

I've been mudding for a long time, and the only MUD I ever play at all anymore is the DW mud. I wrote a couple of stories for one of the player run in-game newspapers (the AM-Daily, the best newspaper on the disc!), and of course it is rife with DWmud jokes and references. For instance, about bows being useless: you can buy them in the game but they haven't been coded in yet so they don't do anything (as far as I know) except let you look cool when people take a gander at your visible equipment. 

I'm hoping it might still be entertaining to read, so here it is.
Now for the story.
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A lion... And sand. The stuff of nightmares.
I've been wandering in this desert for years, maybe even weeks! It's been nothing but lions! Skinny lions, fat lions, angry lions, lion cubs, prides of lions (see one pride, you've seen them all, they practically all the shame)... and they all fit in the generic category of hungry lions, at least until they meet me... You see, afterwards, they all permanently fall into the category of 'lions-that-were'.

Ok, I'm exaggerating, it hasn't just been lions: there have also been vultures, scorpions, and enough sand that I won't even be able to hear the word sandwich without shivering in disgust. Come to think of it, I think I might even have fought a desert wolf, or coyote or something last week... but it might have been a lion in disguise. My mind feels fuzzy, or perhaps sandy? I shouldn't be surprised, sand seems to be getting in everywhere else, why would my mind be any different?

Or maybe the sun is getting to me. I'm thirsty and banged up pretty bad, and I'm out of tea... For now, there are no lions in sight, they must be hiding under some dunes or something... I think I'll sit down a bit... and rest... I wonder if I'm dying?

Father told me I'd end up like this -it was more of a shout really, and it was cut off by the sound of me slamming the door hard enough to crack it as I left. Yes indeed, he told me I'd come to this end. Of course, he didn't specifically say anything about lions, it was more of a nonspecific lion-free forecasting of a sordid ending.

It all started with the town dance… We had fun, laughed, and danced together the entire evening. We did the same thing at the next dance as well, and the one after that. We started trying to find opportunities to see each other. It wasn't easy considering how far apart we lived from each other.
Just a small segment of the carriage routes in the mud, full map is here

Ye gods, it all sounds so banal in retrospect.

My father was, still is as far I know, a hunter and we lived in Slice. We weren't poverty-stricken but we had nothing to spare either. 

My dance partner claimed to come from "somewhere in the Sto Plains" but forgot to tell me that he was the offspring of some very minor baron in Sto Helit. Well, when his parents heard about our budding romance they quickly decreed that I wasn't good enough for him.

Pah... I'd spit if I had any moisture to spare.

Their title didn't change the fact of what they are: pretentious merchants, cabbage peddlers. What else is there in the Sto plains? Of course I only discovered all of this later...

It was a nice dream. We were going to run away to Ankh-Morpork and make it big setting up a business importing Lancre furs. This was going to be facilitated by the fact that I knew a good number of Hunters in Lancre through my father. Yeah well, that was a bust. When he didn't show up at the appointed time and place, I figured he had chickened out. Still, I wanted to make sure, so I paid him an unexpected little visit.

In retrospect, I wonder why I was so surprised at finding him in the arms of a pasty faced milk-maid cow-woman. I was introducing his rear end to my foot and giving him a free lesson in good manners when he had to gall to draw his puny “made in” Ankh-Morpork foil on me. Well that tore it, I drew my longsword, good Ogg-forged steel of course, and made confetti out of his toy sword and his fancy pants dancing moves. Didn't hurt him -much- but the cow woman was screaming her over-sized lungs off and I just knew the watch would turn up shortly. So I got one last good kick in on the good-looking foppish sap who had previously pretended to have been my paramour and made a discrete exit.

Well, from then on I took to the adventurer's life. I sold my useless bow in a general store, and hit the road. I met a few good people, a bunch of bad folk, and some people that were out of this world. Overall it wasn't an experience I enjoyed, in fact I had decided to forget...  which brings me to my current predicament: I got lost looking for the Klatchian foreign legion.

I don't remember when I ate last, and that's probably a good thing since it was probably raw lion. I'm wearing a lion pelt I found next to a dead hattite priest. All of my original clothes and armor have either  broken or fallen apart. My sword is so notched it feels more like a blunt instrument than a blade. In fact, every now and then, I get the distinct impression that I've gotten better at wielding blunt weapons. Maybe that's the heat delirium talking... Speaking of delirium... Is that a horse I hear?

Impossible...

Is that a... What is that?

A leopard print frog on the back of a horse?

A mirage, surely…

No, I can see it a bit clearer now, and I wish I didn't. It's a severely acned potbellied gangly young man wearing a leopard skin over his shoulders, a leopard skin loincloth, and a leopard print push up bra (no comment). For lack of a better word he can only be described as riding the horse... Though that is stretching the word. He seems to be barely hanging on and in grave danger of biting his tongue off.

Whoops, there he goes in a flying tangle of leopard clad stick-like limbs.

I should knock him out and take his horse before he spots me... Drat too late.

He picks himself up with surprising dignity considering his ludicrous appearance.

"Greetings, fellow barbarian! I am Deep Lover, mighty warrior." he said with an air of shaky self-importance.

Deep Lover? Seriously?
My doubts must have been obvious because he then admitted rather bashfully:
"Ok, ok... my name is Repo... Repo Leved. I just say I'm Deep Lover 'cuz a dwarf lothario told me it would help seductionate ladies of your gender, beggin' your pardon miss. At any rate it works as goodly as this here horse I'm testing... Pfeh. Now where did I put that scroll..." he trailed off into mumbling as he started digging around in a leopard print satchel.

What a curious character... But this could be my ticket out!

"You know, I'm actually better at this magicking stuff than at barbraining, as I call it. Haha... Course pa would never have me going off to learn it proper: I had to become a barbarian, just like him and his pappy before him... Oh well. Would you like to come  back with me to the winter camp? But where did I... It's simple really... All I need..." once again he trailed off into incoherence.

Whoever he is, he doesn't seem interested in my answer. He is reading from a scroll whilst holding a golden ring, capering, and moving his hands in a pattern that looks suspiciously like the Macarena. A flimsy looking plywood door pops into existence after he traces a rectangle in the air with his finger... A magical portal to somewhere else. I hope.

I am ready...
Or maybe I'm not.
I don't know what's coming but I'm looking forward to finding out.