<table width="692" border="1" align="center" bordercolor="#ff8000"> <tr> <td width="145"></td> <td width="401"></td> <td width="145"></td></tr></table> las! As I was polishing a mechanical cow, ensuring it was in pristine condition to present to the gathering at the shire last night, I did fall victim to sleep-related shenanigans, and awoke some hours later, with these strange sigils upon mine forehead! What this means, only time will tell. I suspect that I was viciously attacked by assassins sent by the guild of typesetters. Still, all was not lost! KSS Initiate Angharad stepped in, with all the initiative and drive that determines a future Knight, and captured every word that flew about the tavern that night, in my stead! Many thanks to her, for without her swift actions, I would have nowt to tell thee! Many thanks, indeed! The eve, 'twould seem, began with a contribution from the canine segment of our population. I know not if the narrator has been to Zento of late, for processing, but that seems to have little bearing on the quality of the tail. Er. Tale. <table width="100%" border="0"> <tr> <td valign="top" width="10"> <p align="center"> <table bordercolor="#ff8000" width="50%" align="center" bgcolor="#ffff00" border="1"> <tr> <td> <p align="center"><font color="#ff0000">The Winner!</font></p></td></tr></table></p></td> <td> <table bordercolor="#804000" width="80%" align="center" bgcolor="#ffdbb7" border="1"> <tr> <td width="43"></td> <td> <p align="center"><font size="5">The Doggy Paddle </font>by Lord God Dog</p></td></tr></table> <table bordercolor="#804000" width="80%" align="center" bgcolor="#ffdbb7" border="1"> <tr> <td>nce I was a young Pup Yes many many a year ago When my mother Rephrases Not to use the B" She took me to a Pond and Stuck me in the water I was scared and nearly drowned and then she Whulped around and wolfed at me And paddled and paddled around I took upon my paws and made Yet the same splashing sound and Now i have learned that day The dog paddle Profound That twas the day I learned to be a lil pup Whom did not drown.</td></tr></table></td> <td valign="top" width="10"> <p align="center"> <table bordercolor="#ff8000" width="50%" align="center" bgcolor="#ffff00" border="1"> <tr> <td> <p align="center"><font color="#ff0000">The Winner!</font></p></td></tr></table> </p></td></tr></table> After night, comes dawn. After dawn, comes morning. And after Morning, comes Dawn's irate father. Still, that is another story - and this night, Morning presented not a story, but a poem, and a fine one at that. <table bordercolor="#ffff00" width="75%" align="center" bgcolor="#d5ffd5" border="1"> <tr> <td width="100"></td> <td> <p align="center"><font size="5">Will you ever come running to me again? </font><font size="3">by Morning</font></p></td></tr></table> <table bordercolor="#ffff00" width="75%" align="center" bgcolor="#ceffce" border="1"> <tr> <td>....ill you ever come running to me again? as when we were young in times smart and quick to streams that mattered blind to what hurt the most when smiles eased, were born and given and hope not longed for was not missed as kettles filled were watched by us ever at all will you come? over tired plains low-downed trees of forests lost in a thick, black wild branches long given up pointing the way and mountains stretched out to swallow conquerors where waters divide, will you come? when did the darkness fit us so? when did you run out of breath? standing still we take another blow suspicious of fires stealing heat we lose our guide and steady kindness how did laughter come to break us and children leave us wondering? left skipping through puddles of mud our skirts happen on each other and we find each other again</td></tr></table> In addition to saving the day with her quick transcription skills, Angharad presented another fine work of words! Methinks this land of ours has been blessed - or cursed - with a more stupid variety of troll than other lands know. I cannot picture our brutish variety even understanding a festival, much less being able to choose a leader - or even remember who their leader was, once they had one, by whatever means! Still, while I consider our blessings - here are the words of another one such. <table bordercolor="#000000" width="60%" align="center" bgcolor="#ffd5ea" border="1"> <tr> <td width="78"></td> <td> <p align="center"><font size="5">Herewith, Hogni and the Odinsword </font>by Angharad</p></td></tr></table> <table bordercolor="#000000" width="60%" align="center" bgcolor="#ffc6e2" border="1"> <tr> <td>he king of the trolls caroused at yule, Whiling winter with wine from the south, Never fearing a foeman's coming To pierce this hill, piled high with snow. No gloom was there, for flowing gold Roofed the room where rang their songs, Driving dark from deep in the caves Where trolls hide well the treasure they win. But one-eyed Odin entered the sleep Of Hogni, telling the hero a sword Of Wayland's making might be his If he forbore to fatten on rest. Up rose Hogni to run on staves, Skimming the drifts on skis, as petrels Skim the waves of the wife-bereaver, Swift on slopes as a sliding otter The cold mirk-wood might cast no terror On such a man. His mood was baneful. He'd slake his longing or sleep forever, Win the weapon or waste in his howe. He found the drift as his dreams had showed him, Winnowed the woof of winter's loom, Found the rift in the rocks behind it And entered the earth there, eager for plunder. A fearful fire-drake formed by Loki Was there to watch but winter had lulled it; Certain of safety, sightless with sleep, Traitor to trust, the trolls' guard lay. No man-made sword could mar its life; Steel-hard scales were scornful of axes. Woe was Hogni's should he wake it, As well he knew; but he never wavered. Hardy the hero who held his course Past such a monster, mocking the peril! Boldly he passed it, bored through the hill - A dangerous mole in that dark passage. Soon he heard 'skoal!' from stinkers by hundreds, And, following further, found the cavern Glorious with gold and glittering jewels, Splashes of fire in a splendor of colors. Careless the king sat, cracking jests, Proud of his thanes nor thinking of evil; But Hogni was grim and gripped his axe. He would not turn with this undone. Wild were the warriors, wine-sodden trolls! When Hogni harried the hall of their monarch. Fierce was his onset, fast as an osprey's. He made no pause to ask pardon of any. Before the ruler could roar for help Hogni's axe was high above him. Keen was the edge the King saw then; Trapped in his hall the troll sat moveless. 'What will the hero have for my ransom?' The ring-bestower wrathfully asked him. 'I'll give you gold or gorgeous gems Craftily hewn from the hold of the earth.' Loud laughed Hogni. 'Leave it for dragons Sour with aging to sulk over treasure! Let cowards be misers - a man is before you! I want no baubles, but Wayland's sword!" Not gladly given, the glaive was his And warriors ran for weapons, raging; They were all fain to follow Hogni; Who leaped to leave them, laughing his triumph. The noise unknotted the noose of sleep That bound the fire-drake, fiercely it reared; Sure no sword could shear its armor, It deemed then that Hogni was done with life. But Wayland forges no false weapons - They're valkyries with vampire mouths, Brands that none but the Norns can break - And Hogni carved to its cold heart. Maddened with anger oncoming trolls Rushed to catch and kill the riever, But skillful on skis he skimmed away, Bearing his booty back to his steading.</td></tr></table> Valor, Honor, Honesty. Such are in short supply in this land, especially in these current days of war. Still, Aeric Horn brought word of them - presented here. <table bordercolor="#0000ff" width="75%" align="center" bgcolor="#b7ffff" border="1"> <tr> <td width="90" height="90"></td> <td> <p align="center"><font size="5">The Squire's Joust</font> by Aeric Horn</p></td></tr></table> <table bordercolor="#0000ff" width="75%" align="center" bgcolor="#c4ffff" border="1"> <tr> <td>ir Red...the Knight of Valor Made sure he drew the Black A right good man, a fightin' man None better at yer back. His mount reared up a flailin And Black he got the jump A gallopin', and gallopin' Knocked Red clean past the stump And now White Knight Sir Honor Fixed helmet, lance and shield He paced around, then raced around... Best charger on the field. Sir Black he was a waitin' Like a wordless spectre he The speed of them, the both of them! Sent Sir Honor to his knees And now the Blue Sir Honesty A stalwart strappin' lad A nod to the lasses, a grin for the lasses Sparklin', shinin' and armorclad The Black stood on the ready Nary breath,and no fatigue Black faster now, Blue slowin' down For Blue there's no relief. Now Black he stands center Like a crow in empty fields "Is there no one, is there no one Who'll do anything 'cept yield?" A young man stepped up to the gate A spry and earnest son. He suited up, then mounted up "Sir Black, you've not yet won!" A Shield he got from Valor Lance from Honor, helm from Blue He faced the Black, then raced the Black And beat the Black it's true. The squire's face.. full of resolve His dare beyond belief With the force of all, Evil falls And we all can live in peace.</td></tr></table> It seems I missed a night of warriors tales - for Yancey, too, spoke of one - a paladin, mighty in deed and spirit. <table bordercolor="#0000ff" width="60%" align="center" bgcolor="#cacaff" border="1"> <tr> <td width="75" height="75"></td> <td> <p align="center"><font size="5">The Mighty Paladin Hooh </font>by Yancey DeFlorio</p></td></tr></table> <table bordercolor="#0000ff" width="60%" align="center" bgcolor="#c1c1ff" border="1"> <tr> <td>n the Forest of Redemption Where the imperfect souls dwell Begins the story I must tell. Deep in the forest Lives a protector true The sire of his race The Mighty Paladin, Hooh. Loyal has been his kind Since the dawn of creation Each Paladin born taking up the task Of the last generation. In the service of the creator Guarding souls while they wait To be perfected while time Cleanses their marred slate. To this task alone Generations of Paladins have been born Whether on the darkest winter night Or at the breaking of a summer dawn. His days as sentry scout Had come and gone Now with homage He was looked upon. His great deeds were told to pups In the dark of night As they huddled Oh, so tight. Listening to the tales Of Hooh, their great sire For adventure and honor Set their young hearts afire. Deeds of the past Wouldnt help him on this night As he watched for the young ones To come into sight. The night around him falling But Hooh stood taciturn Watching for the last patrol Of protectors to return. He understood the pain that seized him He'd felt too often as of late It told him a Paladin Had just gone to meet his fate. He howled his lament Up to the sky Asking once more Why, Creator, why? The whistle of an arrow Reached his ear This predator was bold And very near. He howled again This time a warning Hide the young ones Til sunrise brings the morning. Then, he went to meet his foe Whose arrows met their mark There'd be one less human When the dawning chased the dark. This time justice Would not be cheated This barbarian Would be defeated. Others had justice escaped By virtue of distance from Hooh This time the killer Would get his just due. Storm Cloud the Bold Was the first put to the slaughter They hunted him down And gave him no quarter. They drove him, and drove him And drove him until They had him surrounded Then fired their arrows at will. In the forest he loved Eight wounds in his side The brave and proud Paladin Slowly died. With the vision of Storm Cloud Fresh in his mind Hooh saw the man He'd been searching to find. Hooh tracked the human With all of his skill But unlike the cruel hunters He went straight for the kill. Once it had started It was done in a flash On the barbarians neck Was a wide-open slash. Hooh, had done it Without any thought The human deserved to die For the cruelty he wrought. His enemy dead Hooh returned to his post This was not something About which he'd boast. For the killing of a living thing Whether the greatest or least Brought the killer of it One step closer to beast. Hooh watched over all Through the night til the morn The creators voice touched him As the morning was born. My faithful servant Hear what I say To save you kind You must spirit them away. I and my kind Will obey your command We will our home As you demand. My servant, go first to the south And then to the west The Lady Glenamaraen Will aid in your quest. She and her brother Will grant you sanctuary And the Paladin Race Will eermore and forever be free. Now go to your rest My servant, so true I will stand watch O'er you kind and you. Your journey can start When you awake And remember, my blessings With you you take. Hooh did as bidden And the events did unfold Exactly as the Paladins' Creator Had foretold. Hooh lead the Paladins From the Forest of Redemption And Paladins honor him still For bringing them salvation.</td></tr></table> A fine tale, indeed. There is far too little chance of redemption and salvation in these lands, and far too much anger and blood. But, I missed my chance to wax poetical, as I lay on the altar of QWERTY last night, so, I turn to the last offering of the eve. Here, I find myself in a quandry. This may sound strange, coming from one once accused of bringing 'cow porn' to the Shire - but this offering was far from subtle. While the second presentation by Lord God Dog did lead to him tying with Yancey and Aeric for first place, and L.G.D. did then go on to win the roll of the die... I can not present his second offering here. The reason is simply this: I know, for a fact, that while most who present their words here on these forums are of mature age, there are those who are not. There are those who are left, without guidance of their parents, to read here as they will. I know of at least three, under the age of ten, who read here, regularly. And nay, none of those three are in my care. Whether that decision is right or wrong is not the point. The fact is, they read here. And if I know of three - there are probably at least twenty times that number that I don't know of. So, after much consultation with other scribes and those who weild the fearsome weapons of moderation, though I may be insulted, called 'prude', and 'elitist censor' and the like - I have to take the decision to not present Lord God Dog's second tale, part censored though it already be. I am sure those who would like to see a copy can ask it of him. It is not too terrible, it is far less raunchy than many things that are easily found lying around, and I am probably creating a mountain out of a molehill - but I would not wish children of my own to read it, and based on that, I take this decision. While it is true they can and will find far worse things lying around the place, I refuse to be the one who shows them to them. This is in no way a slight against Lord Dog. I wholeheartedly congratulate him on winning. I just find myself placed in a difficult situation - and I have to make a decision. I leave Hoffs and the rest of CWS to decide what is appropriate for the Shire - but I have to decide what is appropriate for this post. I have to answer to my own conscience. I am not a moderator, but I do have a responsibility to those who read here. If any feel I am wrong, then by all means - post it, and let our good moderators decide whether to let it stand, or delete it. To any who feel the need or desire to bring similar tales to Story Night in future, my decision will stay the same. On the bright side, it should be very clear to any who read this who the winner was! Well done to all three finalists - and especially to Lord God Dog! I go now, to find my 70 fire resist suit! And, to wage war on the guild of typesetters!