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Dear Diary...

05/23/07:

                Rodrick insisted that today's round of pool drinks be held at the Paris. "Bad stuff always seems to happen at the Aladdin pool," he explained. Well, hey! I'm flexible.

                No - not in that way!

                Anyway, we hadn't even finished the first round when messengers arrived from Lord Las Vegas Hilton looking for Lords Aladdin and Paris. They had with them a proposal for a change in The Law. It's been proposed that Thunderdome be replaced with the People's Court. I'm so glad to see that the Cats are expanding their knowledge of old, pre-Change TV Shows. Oh well, I guess it could be worse - it could have been the Gong Show. In this version, the audience at the old Thunderdome arena will be the defendant's Jury of Peers.

                Olivia said, "This might be a step up."

                The petitioners will each receive three minutes on record to address the court. During that time, they will be under the influence of a device or spell that will allow the judge and 'jury' to see if the petitioner is being truthful or not. The witness stand will double as an electrified chair that will dispense shocks (starting at 'painful' and working up to 'excruciatingly painful') for every falsehood that is spoken. When both sides have had their turn, the presiding judge will advise the jury as to what The Law pertaining to the case is, and then the jury will vote. If warranted, punishment will be handed down and if called for, executions will be held right then and there. Anyway, all the Overlords are going to have three days to think about this proposed change before a vote is taken.

                "I don't know…" Rodrick said, "it's missing something."

                "Maybe a rider?" Olivia suggested. "Stating that if both parties involved agree, Thunderdome can still be used? Make it a joint rider? You and I?"

                "Exactly," Rodrick agreed. Allison provided them with pen and paper and they composed the rider. "But no lawyers!" Rodrick said. "If anyone starts yelling 'Lawyer!' we'll administer our own sort of bar exam." They signed the rider and gave it to the messengers to deliver. When they were gone, Allison advised that there was a group of petitioners who were hoping to speak to Rodrick.

                "About what?"

                "They would like you to sponsor their Extreme Adventuring Team."

                "Ok, let's see 'em," he agreed. "We'll judge them on a scale of one to eight."

                "Eight?" I asked.

                "They can't beat us, right?"

                Allison escorted out a group of seven people of mixed races. Six of them were wearing flashy, multi-colored armor and were wearing shiny lame capes. The one without the getup introduced himself as Abercrombie (or, as I'm going to call him, "Abe". I refuse to keep writing Abercrombie. What a name - his parents must have been horrid people).

                "And Finch?" Rodrick asked.

                "Like I've never heard that?" Abe said. "I am the agent for the Extreme Adventuring Team, Slaughterhouse!"

                "No adventuring group has an agent and that name really sucks," Rodrick pointed out.

                But Abe disagreed. "No! According to market research - it is exactly the type of name that most appeals to our target demographics."

                Rodrick looked him over and said, "You used to be an accountant, didn't you?"

                Olivia completely ignored Abe and asked the other six to hold out their hands. She looked them over and a few of them had some calluses. "Have any of you ever swung a sword?"

                One, a male human said, "I was in the fencing club in high school and we've all been taking classes in fight choreography."

                Rodrick told them, "I may sponsor you, if you can beat…oh…say…him," and he pointed towards one of his men.

                "My money's on Rodrick's man," I said.

                Olivia wanted clarification, "Beat him with what? Guns? Hand to hand?"

                "Hand to hand." But the fencer refused to take part, saying something about being too valuable a commodity to risk and not wanting to harm an 'amateur'.

                "Too late!" I said, "Round one, about to start. Ding, ding, ding!" Fencer insisted that he would only take part in a controlled 'event'. "This is controlled, you - him - kicking ass. Right here, right now," I said.

                Olivia said, "You can't expect Lord Paris to invest money in you until you prove you can beat up one guy."

                "You're wasting our time," I said. "Fight or leave."

                "Yeah! My ice is melting," Olivia said.

                Rodrick told him, "Fight, him or me, your choice."

                "We have to have rules," Fencer insisted, "nothing to the face or below the belt."

                Rodrick said, "Sorry, but I'm going to have to decline a sponsorship. You wouldn't last two days."

                "Not even half that long," I snorted.

                Rodrick said to Olivia, "We should form our own team. Between my guys and Karyn's people, they'd kick butt."

                Finally a smallish Human woman decked out in Day-Glo Mage robes stomped a foot and yelled, "Go hit him, Fred!"

                "Yeah, Fred! Hit someone!" I hollered.

                Fencer (err, Fred) snapped, "My name is Thunder!"

                "Okay - you - Thunder! Go. Hit. Him."

                "Oh, all right," Fred said. "But no facial contact."

                Rodrick's man, Nick, stepped forward after handing his weapon to the man standing next to him.

                Fred asked him, "How do we begin?"

                "We show respect to our opponent by bowing," and he bowed deeply to Fred. Fred returned the bow and Nick kicked him in the jewels. Fred fell, clutching himself and crying, to the floor. Nick looked at him and said, "Dude! Don't you wear a cup?"

                "Yes," Fred squeaked.

                Rodrick said to the gal in the Mage robes, "You've got some cojones - you could teach Fred to be a man."

                "That wasn't very sporting," she said, all the time gathering Magic. Olivia and I could Feel it and readied ourselves to take her on, if necessary. But when she had all she could muster, she sent it towards Nick in the form of electric bolts that left him writhing in pain.

                Rodrick and I both went to his side as Olivia said, "Teach me that!"

                The Mage smiled and said, "Sponsor us and I will."

                "How much to sponsor you?" Olivia asked.

                Abe said, "Wait a minute! No one talks to them. Talk to me about any and all sponsorship opportunities."

                "Allison, see this man to the door," Rodrick said.

                Abe rushed to say, "Each one of them has a contract with me, and each other."

                "Allison, show them all to the door," I said.

                Olivia said to the Mage, "You could teach me later, for cash, but I can't sponsor someone who'd fall for such an obvious trick."

                "We can talk about this," Abe tried.

                Olivia demanded that one of Rodrick's men replace Fred on the team, then she'd sponsor them.

                Rodrick nodded, "Make some personnel changes and then we'll talk."

                "But marketing has shown us the public's heroic ideal," Abe said. "And that's him."

                "But he's got to be able to kick ass," Olivia said.

                "He doesn't even look like a fighter," Rodrick said.

                Olivia asked the rest of the group what they all do and they introduced themselves:

                Fred (Thunder) was the fighter in the group (Corellon help them!) The Mage's name is Sinthia. There was a really good-looking Gold Elf who introduced himself as 'Heartbreaker', the Archer. I couldn't help it - I excused myself, went around a corner and had myself a good laugh. I stopped in time to hear the Dwarf (with an axe strapped to his back) introduce himself as Rock - something. He was followed by a black, female Halfling dressed in a skintight leather cat suit. Her name was Silk and she introduced herself as a thief.

                The last one was a human male, very soft-spoken, who introduced himself as Father Donovan. "I was ordained just two weeks before things fell apart. I generally let them speak for me. I have no familiarity with this sort of thing but I hold a third Dan black belt in Tae Kwan Do. I learned before I entered the seminary. I'm only in this for the money, for charitable purposes."

                Olivia told him, "Jazz works with Fr. Matthew, from St. Joan's, on some projects."

                "Yes, I've met him, he's a good man," Fr. Donovan said.

                Abe interrupted, "Your name isn't Fr. Donovan - it's 'Padre', got it?"

                Olivia asked the group, "Do you people really think you're prepared? That you have a chance?"

                The Dwarf (Rock) grunted, "Yes."

                "But only because the other teams are just as bad," The Archer said.

                "At least he's honest…," I said to Rodrick and Olivia.

                Olivia told them, "I'll sponsor you if you replace your fighter and change the team name."

                Abe was indignant; "We can't do that! We've already begun a publicity campaign, a change now could be disastrous."

                "The name is disastrous," Olivia said.

                Rodrick said, "It reminds me of Kansas and pig farms."

                "Face it," Olivia told him, "you're only getting this much of our time because you're amusing."

                Rodrick asked Abe, "What is Thunder's job, precisely?"

                "He takes point. Breaks down doors, that sort of thing."

                "And did you audition him?" Rodrick asked.

                "Absolutely!"

                "Oh my God!" I said, "That means that there were people worse than him!"

                Olivia asked, "Can he actually do anything?"

                Rodrick looked him over; "He's big - so he can probably break a door. With some training he might be okay. Fred, uh - 'Thunder', how about spending a week or two training with my men?"

                "But we need money now," Abe said. "For better weapons and armor."

                "How much?" Olivia inquired.

                "$500,000.00 to begin with." Abe said.

                I spit my margarita across the pool. "What did you just say?!?"

                "What do Lord Paris and I get in return?" Olivia asked. "Part of the winnings?"

                "Oh, no! But we'll display your casino names on our costumes."

                "And that does what for us?" she asked.

                "Publicity," Abe said like we were all dimwitted.

                "I run prostitution in this town. People have no choice BUT to know who I am and to come to me. Same for banking - Lord Paris has got that all sewn up." Olivia said. She paused and added; "I want to see them all do something."

                "Right! Make them prove themselves," I said. "Make them face some of your people and some of Rodrick's in a gauntlet. All we've seen so far is some bad costumes." I was all wound up and just let it fly. "You've got a fighter who won't fight, a mage with one spell that we know of - don't get me wrong, it's a good one, but it wouldn't be the first time we've run across a mage with a repertoire of only one spell - and a Cleric who seems embarrassed to be with you. The Elf carries that bow well, but can he use it? Then there's the Dwarf, who's apparently short for a living."

                Well, I guess I went too far with that. Rock got all pissed off and used his axe to cleave a table in two. Did I stop? No - I was on a roll. "That's a great move - if they're gonna pay you to fight furniture!" Rodrick's men put themselves between us (okay - Rodrick) and Rock, who was still brandishing the axe and advancing. Rodrick laughed at the sight - the guy had chutzpah!

                Padre grabbed Rock (not to stop him - but to get his attention); "You're not going to impress anyone by getting yourself killed!"

                I calmed down and apologized. "Sir Dwarf, I am sorry to have insulted you. I got upset and got carried away." He calmed down, but kept grumbling.

                Olivia asked Sinthia if she could do any other spells and she claimed that she could. Olivia used a ring to 'test' her and all she really learned was that there was something 'off' about Sinthia's magic. Olivia thought for a moment, called the Aladdin and ordered Karyn to conduct a survey of the employees - would it be a morale boost if they had a team to cheer for?

                Getting a little desperate, Abe asked us, "What sort of demonstration would satisfy you?"

                "A display of archery," Olivia said, "we've seen the mage at work."

                "And we've seen that the Dwarf isn't just a short guy," I said. "What about the Thief? Is she any good?"

                Abe thought for a bit, "Three days from now - at our training facilities?"

                "Three days from now, here, in our training facilities," Rodrick countered.

                Before Abe could say a thing, Olivia said, "Be warned: if you shop yourselves around to anyone else, the deal is off."

                "We have the right…" Abe tried.

                "If you shop yourselves…" and she let the threat hang.

                I pointed out, "Don't forget - you need them more than they need you."

                Abe said, "We contacted others before coming here, but we won't make any new contacts."

                "You're boring us," Olivia said, "go away." She started making shooing gestures at him. The guards started for him and he backed down.

                "Very good," Abe said. "Thank you. Three days. Thank you. Lovely home you have here." The guards marched them out and shut the doors behind them. Yay! They were finally gone. Thank Corellon!

                Over lunch it was decided that Rodrick's people would assemble a gauntlet for the team to face. Karyn reported that her survey revealed that the Aladdin employees were really quite unsure about the whole concept and wondered why they (the team) weren't out working. Why were they pretending to be heroes when they should be out working for a living?

                I thought that summed it all up, quite nicely.

05/26/07:            

                Olivia and I made the trek (next door) to the Paris for the big audition. Leo claimed he had something else to do, "But tell me all about it." I don't think he really meant that.

                Slaughterhouse showed up with a camera crew, makeup and hair people. While they primped, Rodrick gave the Koboblds he hired for the job some last minute instructions, "Don't hurt them too much." Then he posted some of his men thru the gauntlet, just to make sure no one actually got killed. When he took his seat, we asked him how he got the Kobolds to agree to do this.

                "They get freedom and transport out of the casino basement, out of Vegas to a place of their choosing."

                When the team was done with hair and makeup they got a look at the Kobolds. "Oh come on!" Fred objected, "You've got to give us something tougher than this. This is embarrassing."

                "You took the words right out of my mouth," I said. "Look - you've got to walk before you can run."

                Before they started into the rooms, Olivia interrogated Abe and he admitted that they'd heard from two parties that had been contacted before she and Rodrick, "But they initiated the contact - not us!" One claimed to have a potential investor who wanted an exclusive evaluation period. The second party was upset when they heard that Abe had contacted Rodrick and Olivia.

                Olivia waved him away and the test began. We were seated a level above so we could look down at the 'action'.

                The first room had a locked door and Silk handled it with no problems then Thunder (no Fred - he is such a Fred) led them thru it and into a hallway. And in the hall a Kobold had hidden and tried to snipe at them with a crossbow. In a flash he was pinned to the wall by two arrows thru his clothing. The kobold looked stunned, but he wasn't even nicked.

                So the Elf did know what he was doing with that bow, and he could look stylish while doing it! All in all - he is the very model of a modern Elven Archer.

                In the next room Silk stopped the party.

                She looked.

                She listened.

                She gestured, moving Fred one way and then the other, "There. No! Back a tiny bit more."

                And she deftly maneuvered him right onto a land mine. Thankfully it was only loaded with paint. As Fred wiped Canary Yellow paint from his eyes Silk smiled sweetly and said, "Boom! You're dead, Fred!"

                "But that's not fair!" he protested.

                "I know," she admitted. "But I've wanted to do that for so long now."

                Fred objected the fairness again.

                Olivia told him, "Fred - sit down. You don't get to talk now."

                So with Fred in Adventurers Time Out, Rock took point and led them to the next room where they walked into a full-scale melee. He swung the door open - saw the Kobolds charge and slammed the door shut again. He gave the rest of the team a silent three count and kicked the door back open, sending Kobolds flying. The entire team (minus Padre, who hung out in the back) waded into the room and started fighting. They didn't do too badly and made it out of the room.

                The next to last room had even more Kobolds in it and they were piling furniture against the door to keep the team out. One of them was kneeling in the middle of the room, praying. As he prayed, his hands were moving in an odd fashion. It finally hit me - he was acting as if he were holding a rosary. As he prayed I could Feel Power start to rise. Suddenly an image of Saint Jude appeared and the Kobolds each grew about three feet.

                Silk was kneeling at the door to the room, testing the lock when Olivia stood and yelled, "Hold on, everybody!" She went down to the room and we followed. She asked the Kobold who'd been praying, "You a Priest or something?"

                He shrugged, "I went to Catholic school and remembered a few things. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

                One of his comrades kicked him, "If someone asks if you're a Priest - say, 'yes'!" Then he turned to Olivia, "He's a Priest and we're his followers - does that get us out of here?"

                "You know, I can tell if you're lying," Olivia told him.

                The one who'd been praying said, "Look, we don't want to be here. We needed food." And he went on a rant about how no one likes them and how everyone thinks that they're expendable, like rats.

                Olivia listened and asked, "So what can you do?"

                "I can metabolize just about anything."

                "What does that mean?"

                "They can eat anything," I said.

                "Well, that's not a real marketable skill," Olivia said.

                "What else can we do? We haul your garbage away (and some of it really is kind of tasty)."

                "Oh! I really didn't need to hear that," Olivia told him.

                "This is only a job. Practice, really," the Kobold said. "Practice for that show. The producer is hiring us."

                Olivia asked, "What do you get if you win?"

                "Food. Sunshine. Skin lotion. So, are we going to fight these guys or what?"

                "Do you want to?" she said.

                "Want? No. We want to get out of here."

                Olivia repeatedly asked him if they would do some honest work for a living to get out of the basements but never got a straight answer. She went on to ask each of them the same question and got the run around from all of them. Finally she gave up and ordered the Kobolds to stand aside and tried to summon a couple giant wolverines to take their place. That's what she asked for, anyway.

                There was a rainbow of lights along the ceiling and the clip-clopping of approaching hoof beats, followed by music and women's voices raised in song. A bright flash filled the room and suddenly, standing in the room were six heavily armed people. Dead people. They were wearing sparkly armor and all had hideous looking wounds visible. All things considered, they looked pretty damn cheerful.

                "What did you do?" I asked her.

                "I have no idea," she admitted. "What are you?" she asked them. They ignored her and assumed battle stances. Olivia scooted out of the way, "Okay, then - continue!"

                As she was getting out of the way, I received a message from Corellon, "Be prepared to rescue the Archer, if need be. I have given him all the proper Elven skills. Skills that he chooses to use. They should not be wasted." I ignored the jab and readied myself to protect Pretty Boy.

                The group signaled that they were ready and Rock threw the door open and surveyed the new residents. He let the door slam shut again and told his teammates, "We're fucked!"

                Sinthia asked, "Could you be more specific?"

                "We need serious professional help. Backup. Air support would be nice." the Dwarf said.

                Padre took a bandage from his kit, tied it to his mace, opened the door and waved it. He saw the Dead Guys and said, "Gentlemen? How are you, today?" Then he slammed the door shut.

                The Dead Guys all laughed and one yelled, "Let us know when you're ready!"

                Rock asked Sinthia, "Please - tell me you have a spell for this?"

                "Hmmm, no."

                "But the electricity thing…."

                "Not so much gonna work on them," she insisted.

                The Archer said, "Well, we could probably get a couple of them."

                Rock ignored that and asked Padre, "Can you summon something to fight them?"

                Padre just shook his head.

                Rodrick whispered, "Maybe they should toss the Dwarf."

                The Dwarf asked, "Could you cast a spell to resurrect Thunder?"

                "No!" Sinthia snapped.

                "Padre? Can you pray to get him back?"

                Padre said, "Two things. One - it's up to the judges and Two - it's not likely to happen too often."

                Olivia sent a message to Rodrick, "Let Fred back in the game."

                "Fred!" he yelled, "You're in!"

                "No, I'm not. I'm dead."

                I said, "You're feeling much better, it was just a flesh wound and you've been healed."

                Rodrick walked over to him, "Allison, please send someone to get my two handed axe for Fred."

                Allison said, "It's already here, with the rest of your gear, my Lord," she said. "Um, did you mean 'let him use it' or 'I'm going to use it on him'?"

                Rodrick told Fred, "You're out of here."

                "Hey!" Fred objected, "this is nothing but a paycheck - what are all of you people smoking? I spent three years in Hollywood as a stuntman - this is a part I was born to play, but it's only a part."

                "Then you shouldn't be here," Rodrick said.

                Olivia asked Fred, "Did you ever stop to wonder why they're called 'Death Sports'?"

                Fred tried to explain how everything is scripted; "No one is going to die, for God's sake!"

                Olivia was outraged and ordered everything to a halt again while she placed a call to Lord Mirage.

                I told her, "More than likely - that's what they're telling these people, Olivia, to get contestants."

                Mirage finally got on the phone and confirmed that. He said that things are scripted until the fighting begins. Once the fighting begins, only medieval type weapons will be allowed.

                "They really should read their contracts. And all of the clauses."

                Then he told Olivia what a mistake she'd made, giving up the domain; "This is going to be huge!" Olivia ordered everything to begin again and it appeared that the team had come up with a plan in the meantime.

                Rock yelled thru the closed door, "We're ready now!"

                The Dead Guys resumed their combat positions, as did the team. Rock was on point and the archer in the back. Rock kicked the door open and the archer loosed some arrows. Then he and the Dwarf engaged the first couple fighters. They fought well but were pushed back thru the door. Padre fell back and began to recite the Mass for the Dead. Suddenly the Dead Guys seemed to hit a wall and couldn't move any closer to the team. Sinthia had been gathering her Power and finally did something with it. She let it loose and all weapons belonging to the Dead Guys turned into plowshares. Full size wooden plows.

                The archer and the Dwarf pressed their attack - pushing the Dead Guys backwards, slowly across the room until the team had reached the exit. Once the team was thru the door, Padre released the barrier that was holding the Dead Guys. They laughed, clapped and bowed to the team and then they left the same way they arrived.

                While his team caught their breath Abe asked, "So. Did we pass your test?"

                "We?" I asked, "I didn't see you down there."

                Rodrick said, "Everyone except Fred."

                Olivia told the team; "Fred was given the choice to rejoin you for the final room but declined."

                The archer said, "He shouldn't have been given the choice."

                "Well he was - sort of another test - and his answer should tell you something about his character," I said.

                Rodrick asked the archer, "If you had been given the opportunity, would you have rejoined them or would you claim that you were only in it for a paycheck?"

                "We're a team," was his answer.

                Fred threw up his hands, "Fine! I'll go! I was offered a position as the first backup for the Undertakers."

                Rodrick laughed, "After this performance they may change their minds." Fred ignored that, removed his armor, handed it to Abe and left without another word. Rodrick asked if any of his men were interested in taking Fred's spot on the team - a couple said that they'd think about it and let him know.

               So Olivia and Rodrick agreed to sponsor the team when they had a new fighter (a fighter that they had final approval on).

               The Archer walked over to me and said, "I noticed you watching me."

               "Oh really?"

               "Yes. And I couldn't help noticing you. You're pretty noticeable," he said.

               Hey Shakespeare - watch out!

               So what was I supposed to say to him? If I admit that I was watching him - he'd get the wrong idea. If I admit that I was watching him because Corellon has an interest in him - he might become insufferable. So I went with, "I just wanted to make sure you didn't embarrass the entire Elven race."

               He smiled, "Sounds like we have some celebrating to do. Would you like to go to dinner with me tonite?"

               I pointed to my wedding ring, "See this? I'm married. Happily."

               "To a Navy SEAL," Olivia added.

               He said, "Oh, I know about that - I just don't care."

               "You don't care?" I was flabbergasted.

               "I figure that both you and he must have accepted that he has a much shorter life-span than you and I. and that tells me that you've found someone you like - now," he explained. "I'm thinking long run here, we can be friends now and then later on…"

               Olivia had pulled Sinthia aside and I heard her say, "You might want to shut him up. He is seriously jeopardizing your sponsorship - that's my brother he's talking about. She's my sister-in-law, the future mother of my nieces and nephews."

               "What do you want me to do?" Sinthia asked. "Tackle him?"

               He was still going on, "I was just thinking, you know, a nice quiet dinner. Future old friends having dinner to get to know each other better."

               Olivia yelled, "Yo! Elf Boy! Stop talking now or I'll beat the crap out of you. You're talking about my baby brother and he'll kick your ass, too."

               He ignored her and asked me, "So?"

               "You're persistent, I'll give you that. But, as I told the last person rude enough to mention my husband's mortality to my face - I have a plan that I'm working on." I wanted to hurt him, I really did.

               Padre and Rock pulled him away and kept him away while Abe finished some paperwork with Rodrick and Olivia. Finally they were all gone and Olivia asked why I hadn't 'taken care of' Elf Boy, so I explained Corellon's interest in him.

                "Bummer," Rodrick said.

                Later, at dinner, Leo asked how things went with the tryout. I told him, "Pretty good. Most of the team was worthwhile and they got rid of the weenus. But the big news is that I met my next husband."

                "That's nice dear," he said as he passed me the bread. "Your 'next husband' as in, 'Good evening dear, how open-minded are you?'"

               I said, "He didn't really mention that possibility - but no, it's more like my next husband just as soon…"

                "as you kick the bucket," Rodrick finished for me.

                "Yeah - like that."

                "I hope you told him no," Leo said, "that we've reached an agreement that when I go there will be an appropriate period of mourning."

                "Am I going to have to wear black forever?" I asked. "It's not my color."

                Leo nodded, "Oh yes. And Olivia, as my sister, will tell you how long you will have to sit shiva."

                "Ashes on my head?"

                "Need you ask? And I really think that you should consider joining a convent where you'll be allowed the time to contemplate the time we had…" He was cut off at that point by all the laughter from the table.

                When everyone was done I said, "The only reason that I didn't hurt him for being so insufferable was because I had just made a promise to Corellon that I'd watch out for him. I figured that could get me in big trouble."

                Leo got a 'look', set his fork down and asked, "Were you telling me this because you want me to kick his ass?"

                "Well…yes." I admitted.

               He put on his very best SEAL face, "Did…did the sonuvabitch touch you? Did he?"

                "No, he was just verbally rude."

                Olivia piped up with, "When she bent over for something - he looked down her blouse!"

                "He did not," I said.

                "And when she turned around - he grabbed her ass!" Rodrick added.

                "You guys! Stop it! Leo - you can't kill him. I'll be in big trouble. I'm going to be in enough trouble as it is," I said.

                Leo said, "Kill him? Of course not, he'll never learn anything if I kill him." He stood and said, "So where do I find this guy?"

                "I don't know. Rodrick, you saw the paperwork…" I said.

                But he just shrugged, "I don't know."

                "It wasn't on the paperwork?" I asked.

                "I don't know."

                I asked, "You don't know or you won't tell?"

                Rodrick said, "I'm sponsoring the guy's team, I don't want anything to happen to him. He was pretty good."

                "Padre seems to know his stuff - he'll get Healed in time to compete," I told him.

                Leo looked at Rodrick, "Let me get this straight. You're sponsoring this guy's unwanted advances on my wife?"

                "No. I'm pretty sure he would have done it if we sponsored them or not," Rodrick said.

                "But you do need to hurt him, Leo, it was pre-meditated rudeness. He knew that we're married."

                Leo said, "Rodrick - this is a predicament. Normally I would call you, as a friend, to see if you would like to help out."

                "Well I'm sort of his boss. I could take him aside for a pep talk," Rodrick suggested.

                "A pep talk? He was doing just fine," I said.

                Rodrick shook his head, "No. A 'pep talk'." Well we finally got Rodrick to admit that the whole team is staying at the Mirage.

                Leo asked me, "Is this more like what you had in mind?"

                "Oh yes, thank you!"

                "Feel better?"

                "Oh yes, he irked me so."

                Leo got some paper and a pen, "So what's this guy's name?"

                I looked at Olivia and we laughed! "Heartbreaker," we said.

                "Umm, okay," Leo said, but wrote it down, "and he's an Elf - right?"

                "Yep, a Gold Elf, like me. Long blonde hair. Nice hair. Perfect hair."

                Leo nodded, "So I need to find a gay-looking Elf. This could take a while.."

                "With a bow," I added. "And he's really very good with it."

                Leo pocketed his note and said, "Well, that narrows it down a little..Now. If I get arrested for this…"

                "I will come bail you out," I promised. "Even though you didn't bail me out of jail - I will come get you if you get arrested for me."

                "That was different," Leo insisted, "you were enjoying the whole 'experience'."

                "Good point," I allowed.

                Once he was gone, I borrowed Olivia's crystal ball so I could see the whole thing and everyone ended up watching. Leo strolled (as much as Leo can stroll) into the lobby of the Mirage, approached the first security person he saw and said in his most polite voice, "Good evening. I'm Leo Mitchell, brother to Lord Aladdin. A guest of this establishment insulted my wife earlier today and I'm here to kick his ass." Back at home, my toes curled.

                The guard said, "Umm, okay. Could you wait here for a minute?" and left.

                A few minutes later, Lord Mirage himself arrived in the lobby, "What's going on?" he asked. "I'm extending you this courtesy because Aladdin is your sister, now why are you here?"

                Leo consulted his notes and calmly explained, "I am here to find a Mr. Heartbreaker. I have to kick his ass."

                Mirage was nonplussed, "I see. May I ask why?"

                "Earlier today he hit on my wife even though he knew she was married. He was warned off but continued anyway." Again, my toes curled. But he was continuing, "Normally, I'm a peaceful guy and this situation pains me - but I can't let him get away with it. If I do, there will be no respect for me. And if they don't respect me - people will feel free to disrespect my wife."

                More toe curling.

                "I have nothing against this guy, it's the principal of the thing, I must make an example of him," Leo said.

                Mirage took it all in and then nodded, "Of course, I understand, she's your wife. You absolutely have to do this. I'll have him brought down to you. Since this is a private matter, we'll take it out of the lobby."

                As they moved to a private meeting room Leo thanked Mirage for his understanding in the matter.

                Heartbreaker walked in and immediately said, "I have to tell you that I'm, really sorry about this…this misunderstanding. The character that I'm supposed to be playing is a real Don Juan and some of the side stories involve him getting into trouble because of it."

                Leo merely looked at him so Heartbreaker continued, "I was simply trying to extend the roll that I've been cast into."

                Leo nodded and asked, "So you weren't really hitting on my wife?"

                "Right! I knew you'd understand; it was my character, not me."

                "Oh….okay," Leo said agreeably. Then he punched him. Hard. In the stomach. That's when I Heard something from Corellon. Not the condemnation that I was expecting, but more of a groan of disappointment. I can live with that. Heartbreaker doubled over, gasping and wheezing. Leo put an am around his shoulder, "Tell me - does your stomach hurt or does your character's stomach hurt?" Then he grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and shoved his head thru a wall.

                Olivia muttered, "I'm going to get a bill for that."

                "I'll pay for the damages," I assured her.

                Leo pulled him out of the wall, slapped his face to get his attention and asked Mirage, "Do I have this right? This show is a combination of soap opera, pro wrestling and killing people?"

                Mirage said, "I like to call it, 'The life and death struggle of the day to day life of the Urban Adventurer'."

                "Sure, I see that," Leo said and turned back to Heartbreaker, waiving his finger to see if his eyes could follow - they did. Then he checked Heartbreaker's nose - it was attached. He handed Heartbreaker over to Mirage, thanked him, and bid him a good evening. When he got back to the Aladdin, Leo told me everything had gone well. "He seems to understand his error. He knows better; it's just that you're so…so…"

                "Don't go there," I warned him.

                "You're so much…"

                "Radiance of beauty and sex goddesness," Rodrick finished.

                "Exactly!" Leo said.

                "Oh please!"

                Rodrick got serious, took Allison hand in his and said, "If it had been Allison, there would have been broken legs, but I understand you restrained yourself." I bet her toes curled.

               I told him, "He restrained himself because I asked him to and he is my hero." Then I asked Leo, "Are you ready to be rewarded?"

                "What are you going to give him?" Rodrick asked.

                "None of your business," I told him.

                Leo asked, "Well, shall we retire to our room and renew the connubial bliss?"

                Then he picked me up and did the Rhett Butler thing.

                My toes curled.

Continued...