Edwin Baaldorf in Vulkar's Revenge (8_39)

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Birthday Greetings

Anna M.C.
Vector's Monocle


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings for Trisha and a warning for Vector

"Scene-stealing upstart?" "You may be able to use your various charms to help me one day retrieve my monocle"? Well, well, well, Vector -- or should I say "Vecky"? -- It would seem that Anna is not the only one with a penchant for living dangerously of late. Were I wearing your shoes (or hat, for that matter), I would watch where I tread in future. Kiri's poor little Fluffy is in need of a companion lawn statue, and a masonry wizard would add such a lovely touch to the landscaping. I would also strongly advise you to undo whatever you have done to Geoffrey with all due haste. You know as well as I do that the boy cannot afford to sacrifice any of his precious few brain cells for the sake of your twisted concept of "fun." More importantly, he has been "testing the castle walls for weaknesses" with enough alacrity that he has begun CREATING weaknesses. Sizable cracks, to be exact. I have, of course, locked him in your chambers, Vector, so that no structural damage will be done to any important parts of the castle.

I am also very grieved to learn that you have attempted to cast aspersions upon my birthday-greeting abilities. You know quite well that I always perform the birthday executions myself rather than delegate them to the executioner. It adds just the right personal touch to the occasion, don't you think?

As for you, Trisha, do you think you could possibly contrive to provide me with just a trifle less notice as to your upcoming birthday? 11:59 pm on July 29 sounds ideal. Really, I do my best work under pressure. Actually, I do my best work whilst others are being pressed to death with heavy rocks, but that's a mere technicality. As for my "quick wit" and "superior intelligence," dear Trisha, I would hasten to remind you that flattery will get you nowhere with me. Although you are, of course, entirely correct on both counts.

I am shocked, therefore, that such an apparently astute individual such as yourself would entertain the notion of consulting Vector for medical treatment. If you're naive enough to trust that wretched excuse for a wizard, you deserve whatever you get. Go in with a cold, come out with crimson fever.

So you are NOT another Winslow, then? It's a certified miracle. The Winslow population upon this list has been burgeoning in a fashion which somewhat strains the bounds of probability. On second thought, given the legendary Winslow libido, I suppose that level of reproduction IS within the realm of possibility. I swear, it's gotten so that one is unable to shoot an arrow without hitting a Winslow. Which reminds me, Anna, Kiri, MsMoo, and all other miscellaneous List Winslows, there's been a rather nasty accident involving Geoffrey's crossbow practice, a cheese sandwich delivery and Grandma Winslow. Contact me privately for details. And no whining to me about it -- it's not as if there's a dearth of spare Winslows to replace her at the tavern.

While we are on the topic of libidos and disasters, I am disappointed to hear you confess to having dated the infamous Justin Greystone; my estimation of your astuteness has just fallen considerably. I can only hope that several Crawlers, or at least a great many Kolnas, were involved in such a shameful lapse in taste.

While I, of course, can never hope to compete with the thrill that Justin's company, a cold tadmon leg and a front seat at the Tri-Kingdom Drinking Competition must have presented for you, I nonetheless invite you to partake with me tonight in an intimate birthday candlelight dinner of lightning hawk, which IS magically delicious, Vector's senseless prejudice notwithstanding. After dining, we can while away the hours devising hitherto undreamed-of uses for black leather. After all, even the most ruthless of tyrants has to have "fun" sometimes . . . .


His Royal Highness,
Prince Dirk Blackpool
Whose "quick wit" and "superior intelligence" should never be underestimated by the peasant rabble.

From: Trisha (Drm2sk8)
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings for Trisha and a warning for Vector

Your Highness, I am quite flattered by your charming birthday wish, and I must confess, I do not know either Justin or Vecky very well at all. Yes, there was much money involved in the first date. There never was a second date. Does this tell you nothing? I would be honored, thrilled, overjoyed to tear a bit of lightening hawk with you? As for the "undreamt of uses of leather," should I bring my whip? Maybe you could teach me how to crack it?

Still, I'm not a Winslow


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings for Trisha

Trisha, Trisha, Trisha. Dear Trisha.


It's been such a long time since I've heard from you, I was beginning to hope -- I mean, wonder -- if your quaint little custom of accusing me of "standing you up" for last year's birthday dinner had subsided -- and then came your little message to Celine. "The best offer you're likely to get"? Oh, I don't know. For your birthday, perhaps I can find the time to offer just a little bit more, hmm?

As you can probably surmise, I'm rather busy at the moment, practicing for next week's All-Aperanian Olympic Games, particularly the battleaxe throw. Not that I need it, of course -- I could beat Greystone blindfolded -- but because I find it "fun." Human targets always liven up the proceedings so much, don't you agree? It's such a shame those squeamish judges refuse to alter the rules for the event itself. I mean, it's not as if the purpose is to actually *hit* them -- merely to come as close as possible. Do you realize that my skills are such that I can land a battleaxe within a half-centimeter of an outstretched tongue without actually severing it? Any casualties are purely accidental, and such are the fortunes of sport. More to the point, let us not forget, they are all strictly "volunteers." I have such cooperative peasants among my subjects, always eager to make any sacrifices to make me happy. Their unflagging sense of loyalty and devotion is quite touching. I don't believe any of them would ever dream of saying a word against me . . .

Damn. Missed. Or rather, didn't miss . . . Guards, take him away. And make sure the next one doesn't scream as much. It's distracting.

Speaking of saying words against me . . . don't you think it's time to put all this misunderstanding and unpleasantness behind us? Surely, Trisha, you should know that a lady never speaks ill of a gentleman. On second thought, perhaps you don't; old man Tronin was never famed for his grasp of etiquette -- except for wedding etiquette, of course; the old goat could've written several books about that -- so I wouldn't be unduly surprised to learn that he chose his brides based on something other than their manners. More's the pity. Such a pretty face should be matched with an equally attractive sense of prudence and discretion . . .

Damn. Didn't miss again. Next! And stick out your tongue.

However, just to show you how aristocrats should behave, and to prove that there are no hard feelings between us, I am re-extending last year's invitation to dinner. Come to the castle tonight, and I'll treat you not only to the promised lightning hawk entree, but to a private display of my formidable Olympic skills. The battleaxe event, for preference. Are you in a volunteering mood?

My, my. I *am* a butterfingers today. Next!

Of course, should I be unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, I am quite confident that this time you'll have nothing to say about it. One way or the other.


Prince Dirk Blackpool

From: Trisha (Drm2sk8)
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings for Trisha

Your Highness,

I am greatly honored by your generous -- although LATE invitation. My birthday was TWO days ago. Unfortunately, I am busy this evening and what a coincidence, I am also training for the All Aperanian Olympic Games. I've been very busy of late learning how to handle such delightful devices as swords, crossbows, and, yes, even your favorite, battleaxe. I NEVER miss.

As for my speaking against you for standing me up last year, well, now you've done it two years in a row.

Last, but not least, I want everyone to realize that I have only spoken out against YOU. I don't believe there were any GENTLEMEN involved in my comments.

Thank you, and have a DELIGHTFUL evening.


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Help Wanted

Wanted: One Social Secretary. Must be willing to work evenings, weekends, excel under pressure. Excellent benefits, including the continued ability to breathe. Accurate collection of important dates an essential requirement. Position vacant due to prior occupant meeting with a rather nasty accident.

You just can't get good help nowadays.


Prince Dirk Blackpool


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings for Trisha


Ah, Trisha. Once again the anniversary of the day of your birth is upon me. How does the time go by so quickly? Well, for me itís filled with wreaking havoc, plotting and trying to rid Aperans of Erik Greystone. And time does fly when one is having ďfunĒ of that sort.

Hmm. You know, I heard recently from a fairly reliable source that you appreciate fine crystal. I have quite a collection of it here at my castle. Bits and pieces Iíve picked up on my travels. A rather nice set with Baaldorfís monogram and coat of arms. And another (that you would likely recognize) with a large, decorated ďTĒ engraved on them. But youíll see them all soon enough. Since Vector accidentally obliterated the last few chambermaids in some experiment or another, Iíve need of someone to dust this impressive collection. You, having had previous experience, are the obvious choice. In light of your special day, Iíll even let you fondle some of it. If youíre very lucky Iíll let you polish my monocle, hmm? *winks*

And since Iíve also heard of your writing endeavors, I think Iíll have need of your skills in that department. An autobiography of me, Crown Prince of Karteia. Weíll work on it together. It will, of course, include selections of my poetry and torture methods. Not that they are one and the same, comments from the Listians aside. Perhaps as a special treat Iíll let you write in a few names of enemies on my cataloged, alphabetical lists. Though I have just updated to a Palm Pilot Ė the cost of parchment these days is outrageous.

Well, thatís all settled then. Iíll expect you at the castle by this afternoon. I am, after all, a generous man. Half a day off is more than enough time for you to celebrate your birthday and your new servitude at my castle and arrive ready for work.


Prince Dirk Blackpool

From: Trisha (Drm2sk8)
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings for Trisha

Your highness,

I do apologize for the lateness of my reply. I was deeply engrossed in my own autobiography that I have been writing.

Yes, how I would really enjoy returning to your castle as it is a lovely place especially if your attitude toward me has finally changed. It appears that since we have parted you have noticed some skills and talents you overlooked in the past.

I would be thrilled to polish any crystal you may have, and I might even be tempted to eliminate all that worthless "T" crystal from your collection. You know, Tronin had only mediocre taste in the finer things in life. He was not like you and I, truly able to appreciate art.

I shall endeavor to begin packing for the trip north as soon as possible.

Can I expect an escort?

Your servant,

Former Queen of Tronin
(and don't you forget it)

From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings for Trisha


Escort? I hardly think so. Iíve already filled the position you were so generously offered. I assumed you werenít interested when you didnít make your way to the castle. Iíve found someone who, after all, is responsible for my need for more help. Besides, I have no patience for new staff who donít show up at the scheduled time. Well, some would say I have no patience at any time, but thatís another matter.

*aside* Vector! Donít forget to dust the Tronin crystal on the bottom shelf!


Prince Dirk Blackpool

From: Trisha (Drm2sk8)
Subject: Re: Birthday Greetings for Trisha

Aw, your highness, more is the pity for you. After all my practice and my ability with leather. Well, I leave you to your imagination.



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