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Topic Subject:To Save The Great Library - A New Story
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Civis Romanus
posted 05-27-00 20:31 ET (US)         
Row by row, the stone benches of the city's theater began to fill with spectators there to see the performance all of Rome was talking about. A story of Egypt, Queen Cleopatra, the Great Library of Alexandria and the time of the Roman Conquest, but with a twist. History might be changed. New characters would emerge. Favorite characters would return. The twist is... Ahhh, but then we would be giving away the ending, wouldn't we....

This the audience did know:

TONE: Situation comedy with serious moments (but nothing silly).
STRUCTURE: Medium (2 paragraphs) or longer episodes (posts).
VIOLENCE: Non-gratuitous (No gross violence)

The cast is now gathered behind the stage entries each waiting their turn to perform. The audience becomes quiet as their anticipation grows. Their imaginations expand to encompass the stage, viewing it as if it were reality. In their mind's eye, the time becomes that of the last Pharaoh; the stage is covered in the sands of Egypt; the pyramids are visible in the distance. The story is now at hand.

Eminence Grise
posted 06-06-00 03:59 ET (US)     26 / 121       
Zen and Jayhawk were deep into their conversation. Civis heard snatches of it, costly silk robes, blue roofed palaces and yellow roofed temples, a wall a thousand miles long, dragons that ruled the seas and the heavens, bright phoenix birds and dragon turtles. It sounded like an amazing place...he'd wondered if he'd ever see it first hand.

As if hearing his thought the angels looked at him and smiled.
"You will get there, Civis, I'm not sure whether you'll like it, but you'll get there." Jayhawk thought, then turned back to his darkhaired friend, who'd taken out some pieces of paper and was showing him the sketches he'd made in faraway Ch'in.

As evening approached MRed's manor, a light meal was served. Jayhawk turned to MRed and said.
"I know you've got a barge ready with herbals for the markets in Alexandria."
MRed nodded,
"You're welcome to take passage on it. I planned to move there for the Festival and oversee the necessary preparations."
"Wonderful, " the angel smiled and indulged in another galss of poppy-steeped wine.

posted 06-06-00 16:01 ET (US)     27 / 121       
Night had come and gone, and the morning sun was rising in the sky. A lone barge, occupied by Jayhawk and his party, sailed north towards Alexandria. The morning breeze floated by, and Civis detected an unusual smell, one unfamiliar to his well-traveled nose.

"Jayhawk, do you smell that?" Civis asked.

"Why yes, it's very familiar but I can't quite place it."

During this time, an increasingly large smile had been coming to Zen's face, and he burst out,"Why, I haven't smelled that since I left Ch'in! I could never forget the wonderful smell of...."

(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-07-00 01:46 ET (US)     28 / 121       

It's a tropical fruit.

Eminence Grise
posted 06-07-00 10:50 ET (US)     29 / 121       
Jayhawk grimaced.
"Durians? You must be joking...Their smell is about as foul as their taste is sweet."
Zen laughed.
"Still I haven't tasted one of those in a while."
Civis' face was turning an interesting shade of green.
"Can't be durians, though, they don't travel well." The darkhaired angel continued.

As they rounded the bend in the river source of the smell became apparent, a tanning shop was busy tanning hides.

The barge sailed on, with Civis hanging over the railing feeding the fish...

Homage to thee, Osiris, Lord of Eternity, King of the Gods, whose names are manifold, whose forms are holy, thou being of hidden form in the temples, whose Ka is holy."
-- Book of the Dead (1240 BC)

posted 06-09-00 12:57 ET (US)     30 / 121       
Suddenly Civis's head snapped up. "Oh, ye gods," he moaned, "I know that smell. Only Carthaginian elephants can make that odour..." He bent forward once again and continued feeding the fishes.

Everyone gathered by him on the deck to see their old friend, Incontinentia of Rome, Governor of Londinium, sitting on the neck of her best friend Big Tusky on the bank of the river as their barge passed by. She waved and gestured that she'd meet them at the next landing stage, further up-river.

Jayhawk brightened. "It'll be good to have a Londinian on this adventure, they're very well read," he said. "But...what's that odd smell...?"

"Don't you know??" Angel Zen stared at him. "Ever since Incon visited the Far East lands, she acquired a taste for Durians. Londinium Romans don't seem to mind the pong, but love the taste. If I'm not wrong, that's a sizable pack of Durians strapped to Tusky's back..."

Everyone prepared to meet the Governor and RSPCE
Chairperson at the next dock, and hold their breath while doing so...

(Afternote: just got back from Singapore folks, where I had my first taste of Durian fruit. Gorgeous taste, but the smell does leave something to be desired...)

Civis Romanus
posted 06-09-00 16:31 ET (US)     31 / 121       
The barge slowly approached the landing dock. Civis stood weakly by the barge's side, eyes focussed on anything that didn't move up, down, left or right. He had become used to the stench, especially since nothing of his previous meals was left to form into a protest signal.

Incon and her ponderously large pachyderm stepped onto the barge. The vessel tipped in their direction in response. The river shore moved up and down before Civis' eyes and ripples from a passing boat finished the handiwork. The last conscious thought on Civis' mind was... My villa for a horse!

He came to looking into the underside of a cloth roofed awning. MRed sat nearby staring at him. "Welcome back to the living, Soldier of Rome. Have a herbal." This time Civis didn't hesitate. He took the proferred herbal, ignited one end; and put the unburning end in his mouth taking deep, deep breaths. No choking, no coughing... by the gods, that felt goooooood!

Courage returned as nausea vanished. Civis stood up and walked directly over to Incon and Big Tusky. He greeted the elephant first (based on long experience he knew which of the two was the more sensitive). Then he greeted Incontinentia. One could say Incon was never in awe of the man, but she respected his courage, skill at arms and strong military mind. The rest about him she found to be greatly and even pleasantly amusing and that is why despite it all, she still found it easy to call him 'friend'.

"Would you like some durin?"

Civis looked her straight in the eye and responded. "Sure, let's do it."

Civis Romanus
posted 06-12-00 15:36 ET (US)     32 / 121       
Civis accepted a section of durian from Incon.

Some fruit gives off an odor that is consistent with the flavor of its flesh. Oranges smell 'orangey', lemons smell 'lemony', grapes smell... well, like grapes. On the other hand, durian stinks not of the sweet flavor of its flesh; but of flesh itself that is dead and well warmed in the afternoon sun. Left to stand alone for hours or days uneaten, the fruit (even if unopened) can fill a room with an odor akin to an unpreserved cadaver.

What is worse, the fruit's odor stays with the person who ate it long after the sweet meat of the fruit is consumed and gone. Some say the odor bleeds forth through the eater's perspiration. There is good reason why the fruit is sold in the open rather than from within enclosed storefronts.

These were the things about durian Civis did not know. So he bravely tried the fruit, found it delicious, ate his portion and went about his business on the barge. Many hours of the journey on the barge passed quietly, but there was no secret among them that durian had indeed been consumed on the trip by a few in their number.

Yet, even the presence of durian did nothing to ward off the next event on the heretofore uneventful barge trip. The hippo attack...

posted 06-13-00 12:59 ET (US)     33 / 121       
"Oh, how cute!" Incon smiled as she leaned over the side of the barge. "Big chubby pigs!"

Civis snatched her out of the way just in time as an angry hippo snapped its jaws inches from where she'd been leaning. "Watch yourself!" he warned. "Those are hippopotami, Incon! These aren't cuddly elephants you're dealing with now!" Around them, the barge crew manned the anti-hippo defenses.

Incon looked at Civis in a new light. She smiled at him soppily. "Oh, really think elephants are *cuddly*??"

"Erm..." Civis tried to back-pedal, "not - cuddly as, affectionately friendly, perhaps..."

Tusky grinned happily at him.

"Is your membership to the RSPCE up to date?" Incon asked him. "Because, I'd gladly honour you with a free lifetime associateship right now."

"Civis, Incon - look out!" Zen cried. Just then, a particularly large hippo leapt and landed on the barge deck a few feet from them. Civis' hand was immediately at his sword hilt. He shoved Incon behind him.

Incon rolled her eyes. "Tusky - be a good lad, would you?"

Big Tusky swung his strongest appendage and promptly 'trunked' the hippo back into the river. He grinned smugly. Then he burped.

Jayhawk approached the group. "They're surrounding the barge," he said. "We're going to have to think up a better defence than Civis' sword and Tusky's trunk."

"How about a 'herbal' attack??" MRed offered a large quantity of rolled herbals.

A thought struck Civis. He looked at the huge quantity of durians still left over from lunch. "I think I've got a better idea," he told the others...

(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-13-00 17:40 ET (US)     34 / 121       

Have anybody got any idea how painful it can get to be hit by an intact Durian?

posted 06-13-00 23:28 ET (US)     35 / 121       
(Pretty painful, I'd imagine, Zen. The skins are tough and pointy. But just think of the smell...)
Civis Romanus
posted 06-13-00 23:43 ET (US)     36 / 121       
"Ready?! Aim?! FIRE!" yelled Civis.

A barrage of durian rained down on the aggressive river hogs. A great bellowing erupted as the effect of the nasty shelled fruit manifested itself in pink welts on the animals backs, sides, backsides, or wherever the fruit landed.

BT was belting fruit overboard with his trunk the way Celts belted a small ball with sticks. Odd practice that. Civis never understood the Celt's purpose in belting a ball all over the place, knocking it into a hole in the ground, then taking it out again after the job was done, whatever the job was to begin with.

Incon yelled "FORE!" just as Tusky sent another durian airborne with his trunk. Civis noted, "It's only one blooming fruit, Incon. What are you saying four, for?" BT ignored them both and whacked another.

The hippos finally became disillusioned and resentful of the fruity bombardment and left the barge alone. BT sent them an earful of trumpet as if to say. "So long and good riddance!" Civis heartily agreed. "Well done, Tusky!"

He turned to Incon with a smile and said, "Well done, Governor of Londinium. You have a convert. I'll take you up on that membership in the RSPCE."

Tusky grinned an elephant's grin and chalked one more up to a pachyderm's charm and Incon's infinite persistence.

posted 06-13-00 23:49 ET (US)     37 / 121       
MRed, meanwhile, sat in the comfort of a coil of rope large enough to shield her from harm, smoking one herbal after another......

(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-14-00 01:20 ET (US)     38 / 121       
Zen looks at the many Durians floating on the water...

"Ooowww... the Durians... Too bad we had to throw them overboard..."

Out of the corner of his eye, Zen notices a smoke stack with smoke coming out of it. He motions Jayhawk over.

"Since when did they have steam barges?"

They venture closer, only to find out it's a pile of rope, with Mred puffing away at her herbals inside...


posted 06-14-00 10:24 ET (US)     39 / 121       
MRed looked up and smiled. "Are the hippos all gone? I thought I would just stay out of the way, and I wouldn't have to watch if anybody fell overboard. I am not quite up to sewing seams in people today, and I seem to have lost my wonderful carrier."

Tusky let out a small roar, and soon the beloved carrier was dangling over her head.

Incontinentia said, "Tusky was guarding it, I guess he saw you drop it in your mad dash over the coil of rope...."

"Thanks, Tusky," she said, as she reached into a deep pocket and produced a small bottle of Tusky's favorite wine........................

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 06-14-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-14-00 20:49 ET (US)     40 / 121       
Tusky took a sniff of the opened flask. Poppy-steeped. Good stuff, the elephant thought. Beer is best but this will do.

With his prehensiled trunk, Tusky gripped the bottle bringing the open end to his mouth. He tilted his massive head back, flapped his ears and chugged the content draining the flask dry.

Liquid reached his gullet then warmed it in a delightfully slow manner. Cheered by the pleasure of the vintage, Tusky danced (sort of) in his elephantine way about the barge.

"It's good to see him so happy," observed MRed. Incon agreed but was a bit concerned with the way the barge was rocking about on the waters of the Nile. At least it made the hippos give the craft a wide berth.

It hadn't been too long ago that Tusky's children were under siege and Tusky had felt the loss deeply. Civis saw to it that as much adventure as could be sent their way became Incon's and Tusky's assignments for a time afterwards. He even tried a little "down-under" exploration. It seemed to do the trick. Now the duo were back at it and the RSPCE was in full activity once more.

Civis stood at the back of the barge watching the floating durian disappear in the wake of the barge. He burped and the stench of durian circumnavigated his nostrils. "Good bye and good riddance," he mumbled to himself. "To both hippos and durian."

Jayhawk and Zen joined him to talk a little about what they would do when the time was right. Fortunately, the stench of durian had dissipated rapidly before they reached the backside of the barge.

Eminence Grise
posted 06-15-00 05:39 ET (US)     41 / 121       
Giza's pyramids slowy came into view as morning broke. The large artificial lake in front of them was bright with boats and sunlight struck fire out of the golden capstones. The white sides blazed with light, reflecting their shape in the still water.
"Gods..." Civis mumbled
Incon, standing next to Jayhawk, said

"They are so you think I should have one built in Londinium?"
Jayhawk shuddered at the though of mist shrouded pyramids and answered
"I don't think they'd do well in your weather...why not build a gilded bell tower instead?"
Incon looked up at him and beamed.
"There's an idea...I could name it Big Tusky!"

Zen groaned and had a last piece of durian.

posted 06-15-00 14:15 ET (US)     42 / 121       
As the barge slowly approached the Giza dock, MRed reached into the large shoulder bag by her side, thinking it was hers - and felt a large number of books and scrolls. "Whose are these?" she asked.

Incon sat down beside her. "They're mine," she replied. "That's why I'm here - I've come down to make a substantial contribution to the Great Library."

"What took you so long? The route from the Roman Empire isn't that far," Zen commented.

"I had to make a quick stop in Abu Simbel on the way here," Incon informed him.

"Ah - the Temple of La-Amb-Ah-Dah," Jayhawk winked. Incon blushed and cleared her throat.

"Let's have a look at the titles," MRed pulled out a handful of scrolls. The others followed suit.

"Hm...'No Bad Elephants The Incontinentia Way'", Civis read the title of a thick scroll.

"That's the first piece I ever wrote," Incon said proudly. "Very informative for the first-time elephant fancier."

"'Love Me, Love My Elephant'," Zen read out another.

"'Wild About Pachyderms'," MRed announced the title of another.

"'The Lambada: From Beginner to Double-Jointed in Ten Easy Lessons'," Civis announced yet another.

"The Da-An-Set novices gave me that one," Incon said.

Jayhawk squinted at the small print on the cover of a tome. "The General Migratory, Co-Habitational and Mating Habits of the Common Carthaginian Elephant in Its Natural Habitat from Early Life to Family Unit in Relation to Seasonal Agrarian Conditions of the African Continent..." He narrowed his eyes further - "...Abridged.' Any good?"

"It's rather dry," Incon admitted. "It was a contribution from one of our life members."

"Anything not, erm...elephant-related, Incon?" Civis asked.

"Well, there *is* just one..." she fished around in the bottom of the bag, drew out a small scroll and handed it to him.

Civis took the scroll and read the title. "'The Big Burp'??" he raised his eyebrows.

"It's a mystery thriller I've been working on," she told them. "It's about a private investigator who's looking into the mysterious demise of a famous gladiator, on behalf of his stunningly beautiful wife, a well-known bathgirl. There's even a Senate conspiracy in it."

"Sounds good!" Zen took the scroll and thumbed through it. "How'd you come up with the title?"

"The private dick's partner is an elephant."

Zen rolled his eyes and chucked the scroll back in the bag.

"I think I'll while away the rest of our trip with this catchy number," Mred settled into her deck chair with one of the scrolls. "'The Silence of the Trunks' - sounds gripping."

Everyone else partook of a final cup of poppy-steeped wine before disembarking.

"I *still* think a Great Pyramid would look fantastic on the South Bank of the Thames," Incon muttered as the huge structures glided past.

Civis Romanus
posted 06-15-00 16:15 ET (US)     43 / 121       
A reed boat much smaller than the barge appeared ahead and in it was the Egyptian equivalent of a Roman Town Crier. There was so much traffic on the Nile these days that the Egyptians found it necessary to get the "news" out both on river and on shore. As the reed boat passed, they heard these words coming from the crier.

"To All... To All! Listen and Give Respect! The Most Reverred God and Queen of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of the Great Land of Egypt speaks... In two days, the Great Queen, Cleopatra, shall hold a contest to seek two persons who will be honored as the greatest Lambada dancers in the entire world! All may compete, regardless of status and origin. The winners shall dance before the great Julius Caesar of Roma and partake of the Great Banquet to be held in his honor. "To All... To All! Listen..." And so the crier began to repeat his message as the reed boat passed by and then floated beyond earshot of the travellers on the barge.

All eyes turned to Incon. "What?!" she exclaimed. Then it dawned on her why they were staring. "Naaaaaw, you've got to be out of your blooming minds, all of you!" she protested.

Civis looked at Jayhawk. "Talk to her, Jay. If you're thinking what I'm thinking, this may be a good way to get it done."

Eminence Grise
posted 06-15-00 17:03 ET (US)     44 / 121       
Jayhawk looked at Civis and said.
" Not this this time..."

As he turned back he noticed a familiar glimpse in Incontinentia's eyes and took a careful step backwards. Zen looked on in amusement as this was the closest he'd seen his friend come to losing his poise.

"You know..." Incontinentia mused, "that's not such a bad idea, Civis. I've danced with Jayhawk before and with a little pushing here and there he dances quiet well."

Her hips took on a familiar sway as she moved forward. She smiled a wide smile normally reserved for Tusky and reached out for Jayhawk's hand. The angel sighed and briefly closed his eyes then followed her lead and moved with her to an internal music only the two of them seemed to hear.

Time seemed to flow like treacle and suddenly the dance ended. Jayhawk looked up to see the sun had risen a fair handspan, then down into Incon's smiling eyes.

Zen nodded at Civis.
"They'll do."

Civis Romanus
posted 06-16-00 21:38 ET (US)     45 / 121       
The Nile began to spread broadly and indiscriminately into shallow and shallower channels. This was the Delta region. Careful selection of just the right channel was necessary in order to avoid being grounded on some hidden silt bar and to find the right watery path to the Jewel of the Delta and the Palace of Cleopatra.

Jayhawk gave some thought to the coming contest. These idle thoughts made the usually calm angel uncharacteristically nervous. But then Incon seemed to have a knack for doing that to Jayhawk, whether deliberate or not.

Civis, Zen and MRed finished off another herbal each. MRed spread wide her canvas sack to check. Sure enough, it was time to replenish her supply. "Bad news, boys," she began. I'm out of herbals. No more till we reach shore." For the first time since he met MRed and her herbals, Civis was genuinely disappointed her larder of smokes had fallen so low.

Crocodiles lying on silt bars or partially submerged in the Nile's water quietly, patiently watch the barge float by. Hope springs eternal in their primitive minds that some tasty morsel will fall off the vessel to become their day's meal. Alas, the barge continues North without incident. No meal today. Expressionless the crocs continue their motionless vigil. Tomorrow is but a day away. Maybe they will all feast tomorrow. Until then they will simply wait and watch... Wait and watch... Wait and watch...

posted 06-17-00 13:33 ET (US)     46 / 121       
Zen looked up from one of the scrolls from Incon's bag - titled 'A Trunk Too Far' - to see Incontinentia standing by the barge railing, her hips swaying slightly. Now and then she'd grab the rail and dip backwards, kick a leg slightly, then straighten and resume swaying.

"What on earth is she doing?" Zen asked the passing Civis.

Civis observed Incon's antics. "Looks like she's practising for the competition," he replied.

Jayhawk approached them. "The barge is docking," he said. "We're all ready to go ashore."

"Some of us are more ready than others!" MRed hopped up and down in front of the barge workers who were busy arranging the mooring. "Hurry it up!!!" she shouted at them.

"Herbal anxiety, MRed?" Civis asked politely.

"Just a tad," she admitted, then went back to kicking the terrified barge crew into action.

"Oy - Jay," Incon called to Jayhawk, "you ready for The Big Dance-Off?" She smiled at him, and winked.

Jayhawk blushed slightly. "Are you sure we can win this competition?" he asked.

"Are you kidding? No worries, mate! Strewth! Bonza!!" she smiled.

"Still haven't got that Southern Lands language out of your system, have you?" Jayhawk cocked an eyebrow at her.

Incon's shoulder's slumped. "Strike a light, mate..." she muttered.

As the barge docked completely, MRed politely kicked dock workers out of her way as she headed for the nearby market. Zen tapped Jayhawk on the shoulder. "You're all set," he said confidently. "Civis and I have just signed you and Incon up for the dance contest."

Tusky knocked the few remaining dockers out of the way in his determination to get to the nearest stall selling sugar cane. Civis, Zen and a slightly apprehensive Jayhawk came ashore next, followed by a hip-swivelling Incon...

posted 06-17-00 19:31 ET (US)     47 / 121       
Ramesses trip had been interupted by his promotion of Security Chief of the Delta. So, he was stationed at a local port. Though he knew, that if he acted on how he felt on Romans, he would be killed right away. He saw a group of people come of a boat, and an elephant. He had seen some strange things, but an elephant. He then approached the group. They seemed to be talking and having fun.

" Security check, alright, how's first?" asked Ramesses.

" Security check? why, we are at a local port!" said Incon.

" Alright lady, you asked for it! A. I have to question everybody who comes into this port. B. You have an elephant there, which is a tad out of the ordinary. C. You have a Roman with you. And D. Some of you have wings!" said a twenty-year-old Ramesses.

" I know you, you, you are Ramesses, and your wife is Nephisis, and, you become king of Egypt and..." said Civis.

" What is this, some kind of joke, you are going to the queen herself, some of you may be too odd. And you, how did you know my name, and my wife's name?"

-Sitting here rotting of boredom and eyes that won't stay open.

(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-17-00 20:00 ET (US)     48 / 121       
Story Discontinuity problem: Ramseses - You should read through the entire thread before posting. Noone knows about Jayhawk and Zen's wings, and those that do know also have wings...
posted 06-18-00 14:55 ET (US)     49 / 121       
another little note, when i started my charector Ramesses way back when, he had eternal powers (nothing like an angels, but still some) so he might have been able to see the wings.)

As the group walked, they wondered about what that guy said about wings.

-Sitting here rotting of boredom and eyes that won't stay open.

(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-18-00 15:37 ET (US)     50 / 121       
"Wings?" Incon wondered outloud. "What wings?"

"I think the Durian stench is playing magic with Rameses's mind...", Civis said.

Rameses countered, "No No... can't you see? Those..."

Just then Zen cuts Rameses off. "Hummm... you must be hallucinating", as he gives Rameses "The Stare". Zen approaches him. "Here... Smoke a few of my herbals." As Rameses accepts the herbal, Zen whispers, "Nobody knows about our wings. Keep it to yourself."

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