Marko in The Rescue (3_99)

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Birthday Greetings

Anna M.C.
Vector's Monocle


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings to Kbcory

My Lady Karen,


That wretched little fraud who calls herself a Winslow (no, not "Queen" Kiri, the other one) has just taken it upon herself to inform me that it is your birthday. I believe that my exact response was, "And this would interest me because . . .?" As if I actually CARE about your puny, pathetic little lives, let alone the dates commemorating their infamous moments of origin? After all of the libelous stories you peasant rabble have dared to write about me? Well, let me just share something with you, my dear -- drat, wait a moment. (Yes, Vector, what is it? What's that? Hmmm. I see. You have a point).

Ahem. As I was saying, I would just like to share Vector's and my sincere hopes that this shall be the most joyous and heartwarming of occasions for you and your family, dear Karen, and your lovely little pets, as well. Actually, Vector has just suggested the most charming idea. I do happen to be hosting a small celebration at Castle Blackpool this evening, not in your honor, certainly (my, my, we do entertain delusions of grandeur on this list,don't we?), but which you are most welcome to attend. It will be the usual affair - wine, tadmon-and-cheese sandwiches, a few wizard tricks, the odd game of Barkin, and perhaps dangling Geoffrey from the North Tower for a spell to round out the evening. I could even provide a few choice tips and hints concerning the preferred methods of folding, spindling, and otherwise mutilating that pesky little boss of yours. Feel free to bring a friend -- we can use him as a visual aid for the folding, spindling, and mutilating portion of the evening. You know, come to think of it, while you're at it, bring the whole list. And, just so my guards don't become confused and slay you on sight, make sure you bring those monocle pieces with you. Just leave them at the door, they'll serve as your invitations. I'm looking so forward to seeing all of you drop by! Really, I DO mean that (Vector, you're a genius! We'll have the monocle back by nightfall -- or I'll get you, Karen, my pretty, and your little dogs too!).


Best wishes,
Prince Dirk Blackpool

From: Karen (Kbcory)
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings to Kbcory

Hi Dirk,

Was so happy to hear from you this morning. It certainly got my day off to a good start. Since my husband is going to be out of town, I look forward to an evening at the castle. It's the best offer I've had in a long time. I particularly like the idea of tips and hints concerning the preferred methods of folding, spindling and mutilating my boss. Lately, it's Karen do this, Karen do that, order the awards, send invitations to all the "right" people (politicos) - what does he think I am, a peasant? He doesn't realize I have friends in right places too (the List). Anyway, I'll wear that little black number you like so well and if you're nice (I know you're always good) after the dinner, I just might give you your monocle back. There is one favor I'd like from Vector though - ask, no, tell him to take 25 years off - I long for the days when I had more energy and could party all night.

Yours always,


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings for Karen (kbcory)


As I was relaxing this evening over a friendly game of Barkin with Vector, who should come bursting in (upsetting the game board, incidentally, just as I was winning -- not that I'm bitter) but Geoffrey, terribly impressed with the new tabledancer at the Sword and Skull. My first thought, of course, was that Long Tall Sally had elected to become creative with her cockroach extermination techniques, but then I glanced at the calendar and realized that you must be out celebrating your natal day in your own inimitable way.

My, my. Can it really be your birthday once again? How time does fly when one is having fun. It seems like only yesterday I dangled Geoffrey from the North Tower . . . no, wait, that *was* only yesterday. And tonight, too, in fact. Hmm. Well, then, it seems like only yesterday that I killed my first peasant, and wrote my first poem . . . and no, it wasn't the poem which killed him, little Ms. Clever. Your inquisitive nature warms my heart, truly it does. I have a soft spot for inquiring minds like yours. The murkiest part of the moat, actually. Do you swim as well as you dance, my dear?

But I digress. The purpose of this letter is not to talk about me; it's to talk about what you can do for me. Geoffrey's given me an idea; a rather odd concept, since he never has any of his own, but no matter. You see, I've come to realize that Karteia provides an inadequate forum for the full development and appreciation of your talents. Skills like yours belong in Camarand, perhaps in the Winslows' tavern, for example, where you can attract a wider audience. More specifically, one wide audience member in particular: Marko. If it takes a thief to catch a thief, then it takes a dancing animal to beguile a dancing animal lover. Keep him well out of the way while I tend to Erik, my little Salome, and the rewards could be considerable. Decline, and . . . well, I assure you, the tables we use for playing Arm Death are not nearly so much fun to dance upon; should you lose your footing, you'll be guaranteed to lose a foot.

Incidentally, have I ever discussed our charming Karteian tradition of combining birthday celebrations with funerals? We pride ourselves upon efficiency. Here's hoping you're efficient, as well.


Prince Dirk Blackpool

From: Karen (Kbcory)
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings for Karen

My dear Prince,

Far be it for me to risk your ire by causing you to lose a game of Barkin or the war. I know full well the consequences of doing that. Swimming in the moat or dancing on the Arm Death tables are not alternatives I would like to face. Losing a foot in my profession leave me at a distinct disadvantage, and, while I consider myself to be a good swimmer, I would not like to fight off the moat monsters while doing the back stroke.

My thanks to Geoffrey for sharing his enthusiasm for my small talents with you and to you for remembering that it was my birthday. I would be happy to dance at the Winslow's tavern. I was getting tired of the Sword and Skull anyway. Your soldiers were starting to get out of hand. Dancing for Marko and the rest of the regulars at the Winslows will be a welcome change. Being an animal lover myself, I'm sure Marko and I will have lots to talk about.

Now let's talk more about those rewards. Considerable, did you say? What exactly did you have in mind?

Not wanting to even think about funerals (especially mine), I remain your most loyal and efficient servant,



From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Karen/Kbcory's Birthday Greetings


After discovering it was your birthday and knowing youíll have a bit of time off from your usual table dancing down at the Sword & Skull, I have an invitation of sorts for you, Karen.

My wizard has been fiddling about in his chambers with possible new mutations/creatures and mistakenly conjured something up from a mundane planet. The creatures are not altogether useless Ė they have managed to get into every inch of my castle and steal any number of shiny things and foodstuff. Were they not masked with a rather nice black fur (so that they appear to be bandits or thieves of some sort) theyíd almost look *cute.* (Rather like Princess Ariel is said to look if she stays up too late. Thankfully I have not personally witnessed the sight.) However, these creatures with their masks and ringed tails will never be successfully integrated into the mindless minions of darkness that Vector and I are trying to create so we can crush the south.

After hearing of your foray into the animal husbandry field (quite a change from table dancing, my sweet - I was a bit surprised to hear of it) I am requesting that you come to Castle Blackpool immediately and take care of the things. Well, perhaps request is not quite the correct word. The very large guard that accompanies this scroll has been given certain orders in case you refuse. I donít take disappointment very well, Iím afraid.

Pay no mind to the picket line that Marko and his tiresome group have put up at the entrance to the castle. *Animal Protection Crusaders* indeed. Why one canít conjure up creatures in the privacy of their own castle, I have no idea. Not like itís their business anyway. Though, technically, it will be at some point in time. I hope they like what weíve come up with so far. Theyíll meet up with some adorable, furry creatures with large, pointy teeth and claws if they donít leave the grounds soon.

Ah, well. Iíll expect you shortly then, shall I?

Prince Dirk Blackpool
Ruler of All Things Great & Small

P.S. That reminds me of a short poem Iíve written. Allow me to share it with youÖ

All wicked creatures great and small
All things blighted, cruel and venomous
All things that make Aperans' heroes tremulous
Dirk and Vector made them all.


From: Karen/kbcory
Subject: Re: Karen/Kbcory's Birthday Greetings

Your Highness -

Thank you for your birthday greetings. I particularly liked reading your poem. You know you can always count on me to respond to any summons to YOUR castle. Sending a guard was not necessary, but I do appreciate your sending the handsome muscular one. We may be a little late in getting to the castle though but will be there by and by. :) As to your little bandits, I'd be happy to take them off your hands. I thoroughly enjoy my little babies and wouldn't mind adding a couple more. I've even thought about adding them to my act at the Sword & Skull. They want to be with me all the time whether it's on my legs or up on my shoulders. There's could also be an added bonus in their affinity for shiny objects - I think my wages could double in a night. They seem to like necklaces, rings and earrings and definitely earn their reputation as thieves. Are you certain you want to give them up? You could always send them out to your enemies castles in the South and let them wreck havoc there. I know my home will never be same again.

Your ever devoted subject,

From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Reply to Salome


I'm so pleased you enjoyed the poem. However, you and my guard have still not shown up at the castle. Perhaps the next time I send one out to fetch someone I'll be sure he looks like half Grox/half Jinx. Live and learn, hmm?

I'm now pondering giving up "my little bandits" as you called them. The idea of them invading every bit of Castle Baaldorf and Castle Greystone is rather appealing. They could collect jewels and coin at the same time. Lovely idea that. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

So, fine. You'll be the new Keeper Of Thieves at my castle. Bother the table dancing for a bit. Though I might have you do some for me now and then just to keep you on your toes. *winks*

I do expect you soon, Salome. You know how I hate to be kept waiting.


Prince Dirk Blackpool
Prince of the Little Bandits


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