Come a bit closer, that's right. No closer still. My voice was never that strong you know, a real hindrance if you are making your living on telling old stories. But nevertheless. Are we all here? Pillows and smarchmallows at the ready? Good.
Let's see, where to start, there are so many things you should know.
It all started way before my time. Before this place ever was conceived there was another message board that us oldies haunted. It's almost further back than I can remember, and I was never very active there. And before that there was a Lyst, but I definitely wasn't around back then. And before even that there was a single man who thought it was a nice idea to tell a story. And another, and another, and they kept growing longer and longer until the books they were penned down in could be used as door stopper and many other useful things. Lives have been saved with those books, and that's no joke!
This man decided that it would be nice to get the feedback on his stories while he was writing them and that it might therefore be a good idea to give his readers the new chapters online every two weeks. Of course us readers loved this idea and we all gathered like we are now every two weeks with our pillows and our smarchmallows and fidgeted nervously until the telling began.
And it all started on june the first of the year the outsiders call 2001. We didn't know it then, but later that year would be known as Anno Canis 1. But I'll tell the story of how Tad, the writer as you probably already guessed, became the Dogly One later.
As a trial, and to lure in us unsuspecting readers, he published five chapters for free and of course the first one was online when the site got up. After only one day there were already35 smarchers, though unfortunately I wasn't one of them, being a couple of weeks late on the scene. After that it takes almost two months before us deacons can start subscribing. And at first only people with Paypal can do so, but later Worldpay gets installed as well. And soon after that is in place the early subscriptions close. But I doubt that is of interest to any of you, so I'll just continue my story.
A little over a year after the opening of the site, DAW announces that they have bought the rights to Shadowmarch and us smarchers roar in confusion, what has happened? Will we still get our full year? Will there still be a Shadowmarch after this? Will we loose our homes? Tad rushes in to explain that it is only the story he has sold, and that we will keep our site and message board. And that's how come you've found us as you have now: no more episodes online, the books in the store, yes even book two can be found there now and that was never online, and a bunch of Taddicts haunting this place, hoping for a glimpse of our Dogly One.
You've never heard of there being a Dogly One? For shame, we still haven't told you that? Well one day in AC 1, Pretzalz, one of our old time members who is now more or less hiding in lurker's wood, starts a discussion about the story, coming to the conclusion that Tad is not God and therefor not infallible. Tad complains:
“Now hang on a moment -- that's going too darn far. I am infallible, actually. And I do in fact see every sparrow that falls from a tree. And every breath you take, I'll be watching you...
Oh, no, wait a second, that was God I was thinking about, there. Or Sting. Another one of those one-syllable name people, but not 'Tad'. Sorry, I just got confused for a moment.
Shadows & Ice, a former postcount fiend, reasons:
“God ends with 'd'.
Tad ends with 'd'.
Therefore Tad is God.”
And now back to your regularly scheduled bulletin board.”
This gets him a few funny looks and a comment from Shads, yes that's short for Shadows & Ice, that Dog doesn't end with a d. Tad quickly replies that Tad turned backwards, 'Dat', does. To which Shads replies:
“Oh. Dat dog over dere, yah?”
Tad comes back with a bit of theatre:
“Voice 1: Yah, dat dog dere. Him.
Voice 2: Oh, like, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our Dog..."
Voice 1: No, not "hymn" -- him!
Voice 2: Hmmm.
Thank you. You have been listening to Shadowmarch Surrealist Theater. Tonight's performance was "Waiting for Doggo," by Samuel Barkit, starring Sting as Voice One and his twin brother Gnits as Voice Two.”
After that the conversation does what all conversations on smarch do, it veers away from the topic in some other direction. But a little time later Tad confirms his Doglyness by saying:
“Boy, we've sure splatted a lot of inoffensive, minding-their-own-business, quite normal topics tonight.
And Dog found it Good.”
To which Shads once again wittly replies:
“So...that would mean God would find it Doog?”
And that is the story of how Tad became the Dogly One. Don't believe it? Go over to Dogstreet and visit the temple, the mantissi over there will tell you all about it.
What? You've never been to Dogstreet before? You don't know the way through the Neighborhood? For shame! You do know you can just ask us mantidae about such things, don't you? And even the other members are usually glad to be of assistance! Well as we're talking about it anyway, why don't I tell you how the Neighborhood got to be. As the Mint was very popular in the olden days, we went through quite a few rooms, and we did it at an alarming pace too. As quite a few of us were still on dial-up in those days, for some of us it was down right impossible to keep up with the conversation there. And so the Dogly One came up with the idea of chatty topics that went at a somewhat slower pace. All these chatty topics were going to be property of some regular smarchers. They would be like the Mint in that the topics would range from anything to nothing, and they would be hosted by their owner. Only deacons would get to be owners as the topics would require owners who were around frequently. On july the eleventh Tad posted the idea in the Mint (called the Patio in that incarnation), and the smarchers discuss the idea for a while before the subject derails as it always does, but every once in a while it gets brought up again. On august the twelfth Tad opens up a new topic about it announcing that anyone who wants to stake a claim can do so, but they have to do it quickly, cause the Neighborhood will be officially opened on the fifteenth. Quite a few people respond and by the next day, the Dogly One has picked ten chosen ones and asks them to pick a name for their residences. They quickly report back and the next day the new Neighborhood is officially opened although there are initially only nine houses in it, as Paragon and Claudia hadn't picked a name yet. But soon all houses are in place. And walking around you could find
“#5, Dog Street” owned by Tad (now replaced by the DogBlog),
“19101 - the Halcyon Daze” run by Paragon and Claudia,
“A Forum 9 Trustee Territory” by Rook and Aan allein, where the invisible cats run rampant,
“Infinity's Antiquities and Tea Shoppe” by Jendaiya, which you can still find around today,
“Sahi's Greenhouse” where you are right now,
“The Book Cellar and Chocolate Shoppe” run by ElderTurtle who is now better known as John Hepner,
“The Bureau of Demented Cosmology” by footle and Yseult, where many a weird experiment was conducted,
“The House of Shadows and Madness” by whom other than Shadows and Ice, where she ruled majestically over her royal guard of wookies,
“The Laughing Lotus Lounge” by StrangeShe and Marian,
“The Musical Pandemonium” by Garcia, and finally
“The Underlook Hotel” by markk, where many a wondrous story about Skeevix the Carnivorous balloon was told.
It isn't until two months later that new residences can be opened up, because up until that time the Hierarchs had to do so. On that day the mantids are initiated and they can take over the task of creating residences in the Neighborhood. In that second wave the mantidae opened up more residences that became quite famous in their day. But to find out more about those, I suggest you read the beginners guide to the neighborhood. It was written quite a while ago and many of the residences don't exist any more, so it is a bit of history in it's own right.
What mantidae, mantissi and mantids are? Why several mantisses, of course! Because the Hierarchs are busy people they initiated a small group of people into the holy writ of the Dogly One and proclaimed each of them to be a mantis. A mantis is a smarcher who has the power to close, move and delete topics and also to delete and edit offensive posts. And some parts of the forum, like the neighborhood have been made so that only a mantis can start a new topic there. Who the mantids are and why they were chosen? Well as I said the Hierarchs were busy and there were some chores that needed to be done that they just didn't have time for. So on august the 30th of AC1 Tad announces that people can nominate others to be a mantis so as to fulfill those chores. Lots and lots of people get nominated and Tad makes a selection of twelve from those based on timezone and dedication shown. Around september the twelfth people start proclaiming that they have been asked by the Dogly One, but it isn't till october the fifth that the Dogly One confirms these rumours. StrangeShe, Jendaiya, Rimmersguard (rms), Kianor (joshua), Kehv (Rajan), Libbette, Paragon, Nolan, Aan Allein, Wiked Tribe, redNatalie, Miiru and me were chosen to be elevated by ritual on october the fifteenth. A week before the actual ceremony WolfSpritzer, our very own reporter, drops by and reports in his unique style about a protest by M.A.N.T.I.S., Minorities Against Nasty Tyrannical Input Supervisors, a single person who didn't get to be chosen for the duties. And so on october fifteenth all mantidae are given their green hood, and start, like proper smarchers, to fool around with them, editing each other's posts. To our immense sorrow Kianor and I missed the ceremony, but were initiated despite our absence. Before the ceremony the mantissi are frolicking around and Matt has second thoughts about investing them with sacred powers. To which StrangeShe replies that Marian had said that the mantisses wouldn't have to be any more dignified then the hierarchs, to which Matt agrees. Tad offers a last minute option to get out before the switch is thrown. The mantisses to be prepare themselves, which in some cases entails hiding behind other pilgrims, running to the bathroom, or just plain preening. And finally the long awaited words from the Dogly One are spoken:
“All right. Half a moment of seriousness floating in a lifetime's worth of silly:
I chose you all -- and you will choose the Mantises who will join you -- because I know that every single one of you is someone I would trust with far more crucial things than the small chores and assistances you will perform here.
The only rule is: never chase off a potential subscriber.
Serious again: thank you for making this board such a lovely place to be. Keep it up for the newcomers, please.
Now, by the Hierarchical power vested in us, Matt and I (acting for our brother and sister Hierarchs as well) hereby elevate you to the awesome height of Mantishood.
You may revel in your terrifying powers.”
The newly hatched mantissi revel in their powers until Matt throws the switch and the ceremony is completed, with the above mentioned instant abuse of their powers, which I'm afraid to say Nolan started.
Where the names hierarch, mantis, deacon and pilgrim come from and what they mean? If you've read Shadowmarch the story, you should know already. But just in case you didn't pay too close attention to those details I'll explain. Originally they were the rankings of the leaders of the trigonate church. Where the hierarchs are highest in standing and the pilgrims the lowest, being mere worshippers. I've already explained who the mantidae are, and you should have already guessed who the hierarchs are. Tad, Matt, Deborah, Karawynn and Guthwulf, the founders of this place. Tad is of course our very own Dogly One, the main reason we are all here. Matt is the one who can throw the magical lightning bolts from his pitchfork, the Dogly One's technical right hand. Deborah is his lovely wife (Tad's not Matt's). Karawynn is the original graphic designer if my memory doesn't let me down. And finally Guthwulf did tons of work on the early site. Then there are the deacons, those who once subscribed to the story, though they never actually fysically got the rank (as it would have been a lot of manual work, and by the time it was decided, the first year was almost over). That was actually the topic that gave me the title of Sage. On august the forteenth AC 1, Tad asked on what criteria we should base the ranks of deacon and mantis on. Whether it should be based on posts, or on time on the board, or more subjective criteria like service to Shadowmarch. Renfield worries about being divided and put into cubicles. I then suggested that deacons might be subscribers to the story, and that mantisses could be honoured subscribers (without any clue what that would entail). Renfield continues and suggests that the ranks might be based on peer voting, like the stars, or that they could be based on achievements. Tad agrees with my idea and concludes that he should have thought of it himself. Kianor (Rajan) adds that deacon might be based on post count, but that mantis should be based on dedication. Tad then goes on to say that we already have lots of official and unofficial titles, like Knight of the First Day, member of the Order of the Lon Night, etcetera. He also mentions that the default system would be to gain the deacon rank at 500 posts and how he turned that off, or rather how you now have to attain 99.999 posts to get it. Which so far nobody has been able to achieve. Although I am of course on the right course to get there and it would be interesting to see what happened, as I am already a mantis. And that's when Tad appointed me the first member of the Shadowmarch Council of Sages.
Finally the pilgrims are all the other believers.
You've never heard of stars on smarch? Well that's no surprise. Although we have quite a few well known people around, what I was talking about wasn't that kind fo stars. I was talking about a rating system that we used early on. Back in the early days you could give people a rating from one to five stars. Five was for if you really liked the person in question and one was for nuisances. Only people who had four of five stars had them underneath their name, and even that could be turned off. Somewhere along the line they got turned off, though I can't quite remember how long ago that was.
So what else would you like to know about. Forum 9? What's that? There is no forum 9! Oh, okay, I'll let you in on the secret, but you must promise not to tell anybody. Before smarch even started, they had come up with fourteen forums to go on it. In the end, only twelve made it to the actual site, number six and number nine were discarded. Or were they? Number six truly passed on to wherever discarded for a go, but number nine somehow lingered. There was no link to it, but if you fiddled around with the URL of one of the other for a and replaced the forum number, you suddenly got to this weird place that is clearly not part of the rest of the site, and yet somehow is. It looks totally different, and only the shifty people hang out there. And you'd better not let onto it to any of the hierarchs that you know of it's existence, because once upon a time there were some rebel forces hanging around there, and Matt might still smite you after all this time, thinking you're one of them. So you will also hear it refered to as the place that doesn't exist.
The rebellion? Well it all started when Kehvain (Rajan) met Kianor (joshua). On august the 27th of the year AC1, Kehvain drafted Kianor for his K army, so they could konquer the world together. Kianor doesn't want to be drafted as he'll simply enlist with the battle cry “Semper Ki”. No I don't quite know what that means either. Its' probably latin, and it shouldn't be too hard to look it up. Kianor dubs Kehv the Kobra Kommander and they set off planning to start a kampaign of kaos to set off the kapitulation of the konquered. Kehv prefers to be simply called Kaptain Kehv instead. Ki then takes the title of Kolonel Klink Kianor. Flupi thinks of joining as well. Wikedtribe doesn't even want to think of joining as Kikedtribe doesn't have as nice a ring to it. Ettelewen and Libbette both don't like the fact that they aren't kool, and are dubbed Kettelwen and Likkette respectively by the K-bros. Soon after, redNathalie becomes their secret weapon, thereafter prohibited from changing her name so as not to give away their nefarious plot. When Ren doesn't want to join, Kehv assures him that they are Konformists. And a little later they plot to take over the Mint and to rename it Kwiller's Mint.
Only a little while later they discuss their name, and decide that three K's are a bad thing and to rename their army to KASS Army, the Kehv And StrangeShe Army. SS likes the name and says that someone will think it's a kick-ass army.
When the thirteenth backroom comes round the smarchers run round screaming in superstitious fear. The KASS army immediately claims the number thirteen for their own, to strike fear into the superstitious. Kehv even repeats it for good measure. After that the handing out of titles speeds up and StrangeShe gets to be a sergeant, Libbette a lieutenant, Jiriki a jeneral, Flupi gets to be First Mate (as Private Picc is bound to attract a lot of puns) and Bumadax (Max) gets to be a brigarier. Libbette then suggests that they also need minion-esque soldiers as they already have all the rankers and the Random User gets dragged in.
During a big pie fight all over the place StrangeShe reports that there have been rumors that a siege engine is being built in the Underlook hotel and in order to win the war a pact with the people from forum 9 is considered. It is however feared that Aan and Rook might take over if given a choice, so sending a spy into the abyss is considered instead and Jiriki volunteers. Winning over Shads and Jendaiya is also considered, and despite the danger of the high post counts upsetting the balance, it is decided that they will try to lure them with chocolate. If that won't work, they can always kidnap Infinity or the kittens. Now that they have an army and a plan, they try to figure out what is missing and come to the conclusion that it is pie or weapons and a motive. Since pie covers both of those, pie it is. Even when they need a slogan, pie covers it all. A training pie fight ensues, which is hastily ended when the Dogly One enters the boards.
Later on a lot more people join and they are trying to tempt Wiked to become the army's historian, which he rather likes. To quote: “Crooked hitory, and delebrate distotions of the truth”.
The next idea that comes up is to all move to Europe and take over a country there to start smarchland. Shads even thinks they should take over a couple to recreate the Mint, the Neighborhood and so on. Mookey wonders if they wouldn't need an army to take over a country, so Flupi mentions that kehv has it all covered. After this discussion Marian and Mookey are asked to join so they could rename the army to MAMA KASS. But Marian declines, claiming to be hurt for not having been asked before, as she was the first to fire a trebuchet. Kehv apologises and says they will reserve the title Major Marian for her in case she changes her mind. Pies are on everybody's mind, and redNathalie complains that her boss wanted to copy her notes just after she had drawn a piece of pie on them.
Later on KASS sets their sights on gaining a mantis among their ranks when Flupi reports a staring match between her cat and a praying mantis, which is a sign that she might become one herself. At least according to Kehv. But Flupi claims to be to shy and quiet to be one. Though if you ask me those are almost prerequisites to become a praying mantis.
And then four days after the Underlook Hotel has been chosen as the enemy, the first pie is launched by trebuchet. But no other place gets ignored and each and every one of them recieves a carefully chosen airborne pie. After every place has been splattered Mookey and Jen decide that they want a ride on the trebuchet for themselves.
A few weeks later the idea for merchandise comes up, which they will name The K&K collection action figures. Kehv continues by saying:
“You know how they put out these Batman figures or something like that and there are like 200 different versions, well we can do that too.”
He then goes on to suggest figures like Kianor as Oink-ra, Bearded Psychic Kehvain, and the Kianor-Jiriki 2-pack complete with ring. Kianor like the idea, but wants vehicles as well, like the K-Wing Fighter and the KASS hovercraft. Kehv takes it a step further by suggesting a QM Back Room playset complete with trebuchet. And Marian immediately makes a smarch holiday list. Soon after an entire topic about this subject is opened and the merchandise is immensely popular.
Another week later Wiked, who has by now confirmed that he is indeed the army's historian, and Jiriki have a fall out over something Jiriki put in his sig and Wiked gives chase to Jiriki. Libbette, as Jiriki's patron, tries to persuade Wiked otherwise, but he refuses to budge. And after some more squabbling, and swinging of the sperm whale of annihilation, Libbette warns Wiked that if he breaks Jiriki, he will have to pay for the damage. In the meanwhile Jiriki has procured a Kangaroo of Catastrophy somewhere and continues to storm Wiked with it. Libbette freezes the both of them and Wiked throws her a dime for future damages. Libbette scorns the dime and asks Wiked if he'll do Jiriki's work as her house boy once he has broken him, and then goes on to scold Jiriki that he isn't to harm any of her friends and that Wiked is her friend too. When leaving she asks SS and Ettelewen to keep both boys in check. Kehv then makes a statement that Jiriki is acting as Libbette's houseboy and no longer considered to be a member of the KASS army. When Libbette as finally left, you know how long it takes for us smarchers to leave after we have announced that we will, everybody else leavse as well and the fight peters out.
Months later on july the first of AC2 KASS is mentioned for the last time when StrangeShe quotes Libbette in a topic about Smarch Quotes:
explain the weapon heirachy...
The KASS army is the Kehv And StangeShe army. I am Lieutenant Libbette
We don't really have any enemy, or soldiers, but you can buy action figures!
And that is all I could ever find out about the KASS army and their adventures.
What the Quiller's Mint and the back rooms are? Well that's really simple actually. The Quiller's Mint is the local tavern where we all gather to talk about everything and nothing and drink lots of virtual drinks together. The idea originally came from Deornoth who said David Eddings' message board had something similar. The idea is heartily welcomed by the community at large and Tad likes it too, saying that on the original List they had a tavern as well, which was a large part of that community. He goes on to challenge the community to come up with a name he really likes, so he can put it in the story as well. Ton's of names are suggested, of which Silversong Tavern, Skimmer's Rest, The Basilisk's Eye, The Deacon's Nose, The Battered Root, The Beetle and Wedge, The Xissian's Head, The Crown and Shield, The Queen's Lament, Golden Dolphin, The Purified Qar, and The Chaste Maiden are Tad's favorites. In the end he chooses Seitherin's “the Queen's Lament”, saying:
“Since at least a few other people like the name Queen's Lament, but bearing in mind Ian's sensible objections, I've decided we're going to follow the path Paragon suggested. That is, we're going to take Seitherin's original idea -- Q's Lament -- and "mumble-cize" it a la Paragon's "Dog and Bacon" for "Dorking Beacon". And I've just invented a fake etymology for it, too.
So the name of the virtual tavern is:
The Quiller's Mint
It's a hangout for poets and cutpurses, basically. The joke in the title -- the fake etymology -- refers to how easy it is to get rich in the writing game.
And I'm going to write the tavern into the Shadowmarch story when I get a chance.
And of course, the name has an original meaning of "The Queen's Lament", so I'll have to write the true history of the tavern and its title one of these days, also.”
And then on July the sixth, Tad opens up the very first Mint room. There is still some grumbling about the shift, but in the here and now nobody knows any better.
When the first Mint was set up, there were some difficulties while Tad fiddled around trying to get it right and a couple of posts disappeared. The Dogly One suggested that it was either because he had been deleting the topics at the same time as they were posted to, or that there is a ghost who slipped in.
In that very first room named The Quiller's Mint, people started role playing almost as soon as it opened up, and so Tad opens up a back room topic as well where things can be a bit more relaxed. This topic turned out to be a lot more popular and in fact all the rooms we have nowadays are back rooms. I'm not even sure if the front room exists any more. As you might have already noticed there is always only one back room open, which is due to the fact that we all quickly agreed to only have one topic at the same time, to avoid confusion. But since I already mentioned the front room, in theory there have always been two rooms open at the same time. It's just that the front room was quickly forgotten and descended into oblivion.
What with the ever changing names of the Mint rooms, it quickly became a sport to change your name to reflect the room of the mint you were in. So if the room was in a Japanese theme, ceywren became ceysha, and when the room had a 42-theme, I changed my name to Sahibartfast. At times it could be quite hard to guess who was who, though most people tried to keep part of their name in the everchanging nicks, so as to be recognised.
Besides the thematic names, quite a few people changed their nicks permanently too. Ian has been Geisha and Shelley, and quite a few other names.
The aforementioned ghost is also the reason that none of our topics, including the Mint rooms, are longer than 25 pages. Back in the olden days, topics tended to crash after that page due to the heavy work load we enforced on the boards. Often there would appear mysterious posts by a user name Reg, and other posts would go missing. Sometimes even entire topics would disappear. This was soon all blamed on Reg, and we tried to appease him with cookies and ale. Although I must add that at first Tad dubbed the ghost Rig, since it sounded more period like. But as the ghost was spotted by more people, and the name Reg was spotted more often, this name soon got in disuse. I think the last name it was mentioned was in november AC1.After that our ghost was only called by the name Reg.
So what would you all like to hear of next? The stories about the people? Why what rumours have you heard? All kinds of stories about weird things with pineapples? Well in that case I should tell you the story of Nolan and his pineapple. Somewhere early on, Tad leaves a bunch of paper pineapples that had fallen off a truck. Nolan picks one up and uses it for a visor. Marian comments on it, saying that Nolans pineapple is big and flat. Nolan goes on to pull the pineapple over his face as if it were a Mexican hat. Unfortunately the pineapple gets wet and it covers his face. Tad then quotes Marian and says it should be an Official Shadowmarch Rumor. Despite the pineapple stuffing his ears, Nolan hears that and get worried, but then the pineapple slides down and he is tangled in it.
Later on it turns out that the pineapple story is even older. StrangeShe relates that it stems from the time when Tad went to Canada, where somebody proposes that Tad should be a cult godhead. Tad immediately posted some rules on the list. A potential cult member feels guilty about not knowing them all, but that he heard something about a pineapple bearing Tad. A list-member named Ceri stated that they would soon have him worshipping in front of a statue of Tad holding a pineapple. Later on she explains that the pineapple became connected with Tad when Tad, Guthwulf and a group of others went out to diner and their plates were decorated with slices of pineapple that tasted odd. When later on a waitress came by to ask if they would like anything else, Tad replied that Guthwulf would like some more pineapple. When Tad went to Toronto after that Guthwulf had spoken to some fan of Tad's and convinced him to bring a can of pineapple, courtesy of Guthwulf. Of course, that is now what Pandy believes... Pandy thinks it's more of a conspiracy of Tad to get more fans, but that's Pandy for you.
Another well-known smarcher is Jendaiya, who is also known as double infinity. Why, you ask? Well that is just the story I was going to tell. After the first night, Tad went to bed and proclaimed everyone a Knight of the first day. Jirirki proudly mentions that he is one of the very few smarchers with a single digit number, as the numbers one to six are taken by the hierarchs. The other two members with a single digit number never were very active. Number eight being a failed user account with no posts to it's name.
Jendaiya has number 88 and mentions that she isn't very happy with it. Upon which Tad says that it is double infinity, which sounds like a pretty cool number to him. At least till the moment we get to number 888. Jendaiya is relieved and says:
“Suddenly... I'm cool again. yeah, I'm double infinity, man. Oooo! That sounds like a superhero: "I'm Double Infinity Man! Stand aside from that innocent citizen that you are needlessly troubling, lest you feel my wrath!"
Double Infinity Man
Hey... I'm a girl. Wait a minute, you can't make me into a man this way! Noooooo!”
Myrkul who has number 89 suddenly regrets not having been a little sooner in registering. And from that moment on, Jendaiya has always been double infinity. That's (most likely) also why she named her partner in the shop Infinity.
And when you speak of Jendaiya, you also have to speak of Shadows & Ice, her partner in crime. Once there was a theory that she might even be three persons, due to her immense postcount. Of course nowadays, she's lost her position at the top, though she must still be in the top five, her post count was that high. Anyway, back to the theory. In the bureau of demented cosmology, where many a weird piece of research has happened, djf launches the theory that Shads had to be three persons. It's a lengthy bit of prose, but I wrote it down, as I deemed it worthy of the records.
“The Shadows and Ice theory
I am sure that many of you have, at one time or another, wondered how S&I managed to reach a post count that exceeds the GDP of some of the smaller european countries. A few days ago, Tad has stated that it is known that she is cheating, but that nobody has found out as yet how she is doing it.
That set me to thinking (to use the term broadly) and I devised and discarded several theories. Bribery was my initial thought. Maybe, I surmised, she sends some tim tams to Matt and he fiddles with the numbers, but I discarded that right away. Matt's integrity is beyond questioning. Speculation about her being a gifted hacker was equally fruitless. Too easily detectable in the long run.
Then it hit me. The name! Shadows and Ice. There is not just one person posting under that name, there are two. But why Shadows? Why plural? There must be at least three (two Shadows, One Ice)!
That of course explains how she/they can read and answer posts in such rapid succession and in several threads simultaneously. Three people working with three computers could do that easily.
That leaves the question why nobody has noticed that there are different personalities behind that name. Why are there no apparent inconsistencies in their characteristics? I have an answer to that, too, but it is a little bit shakier: They are sisters, probably even triplets. Based on the names I would guess that two are dark-haired (Shadows) and the third is pale-blond (Ice), unless the names refer to their peronalities, which I wouldn't believe even if it was proven.
So there it is. We have been fooled, but fooled in a very nice, ingenious and highly entertaining way. I wouldn't want to have missed it.
Carry on, Wyrd Sisters!”
Of course, there is a lot more that can be told about Shads. In the very beginning people even thought she and Jendaiya were bots to keep the other smarchers happy and how they couldn't leave the board. Someone asks what part of the Otherland network they would choose and Jendaiya claims Abydos. Shads chooses Venice, because of the riches. Calesta remarks that Jen has her career all layed out for her: pilgrim – mantis – Osiris. Shads goes on to ponder what her own career path would be. Through the looking glass gets mentioned and Shads considers hunting Jabberwockies and putting them on the list of endangered species. Then she'll protect them and unleash them on the unsuspecting populace. After some more pondering she decides that the wockies will be her elite.
And that's how she became the Shadow Queen with her Wockie elite. And you had better make sure you don't call them wookies...
And all this talk about Shad's enormous post count reminds me of another character. I might even have already mentioned him: WolfSpritzer, our very own roving reporter.
His very first post was about Shadows & Ice reaching 9424 posts on september 25 AC 1, yes that's right, only a couple of months after the site went live:
“Good evening. Welcome to Smarch Network News.
I'm Bob Anchorman.
<turns to other camera>
In a few days everybodys favourite Shadow Queen/Crab/Badger is going to hit ten thousand posts. Our reporter Wolf Spritzer is live on the scene.
Thanks Bob. I'm Wolf Spritzer live on the scene in Downtown Shadowmarch for SNN. The tension is getting tenser here as Shadows hit 9424 posts last nights. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife, or even a scissors if it was sharp enough. We will be keeping you posted as the posts get posted.
Meanwhile I'm hoping to talk to some of the people on the steet about her.
Excuse me person on the street , what can you tell me about Shadows and Ice?”
He returns a day later to ask more questions about the upcoming event:
“-but the mongoose escaped with minor injuries.
In other news the great 10k countdown continues. We are now going live to Downtown Shadowmarch where our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer is on the scene.
Well trading on the Shadow index was fairly steady last night reaching a high of almost 9500. We asked an economist what this means
and he said
- Who are you people? What are you doing in my bathroom? Get out before I call the police !
So lets ask the average guy on the street. When do you think our favorite crabadger will hit 10k posts? And how should we mark the occasion?
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
And another four days later he returns to the scene once again to report on having heard of a propecy about the big day that is coming up:
“- Elvis was unavailable for comment.
In other news the Shadows and Ice 10k countdown continues. We now go live to our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer, who is on the scene.
With the count reaching 9600 we have a live and exclusive interview with a man who claims to have sensational evidence that Shadows reaching 10000 posts was in fact predicted by Nostradamus.
Professor Andrew Harmlessnut from Cal-Tech explains.
"Its quite fascinating actually. I was looking through my copy of the prophecies when I came across this in Century 4 Quatrain 27 :
Ten thousand shadows under the sign of Cancer
Where the badgers mate
A giant penguin will devour Canada
The world will end on 20th October 2001
Clearly the first line predicts 10000 posts by Shadows, Cancer being the sign of the Crab. The second line is the clincher. Where the badgers mate is clearly a mistranslation of Where the badger is, mate , obviously an Aussie slang reference."
And what about the other two lines?
"Well obviously in line 3 Nosradamus predicts the horrors of genetic engineering.
At some stage a giant penguin will be created which will, Im afraid, devour all of Canada."
And line 4?
"Im afraid we have not worked that one out yet. Its a bit obscure."
So there you have it. Nostradamus strikes again? This reporter is convinced.
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
After this post tension rises and on october 6th people wait expectantly for Shads to finally make that all important post. Paragon even muses that she must be thinking of something profound to say, which lures Shads out to say:
“Gah. Profound? Pah. Dude.”
Upon which Paragon is deeply moved by the profundity and has to wipe a tear from his eye. WolfSpritzer returns to the scene a day late and reports on his unemployment:
“-but only with the blessing of a rabbi.
In other news the great 10k countdown reached its conclusion this weekend. Our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer is on the scene.
So there you have it. The great 10k countdown is over, the crabadger has spoken and this reporter finds himself at a loose end.
Be sure to tune in next week when we are being replaced by a brand new sitcom in
which a man finds out that his new boss is a Peruvian Anteater, with hilarious consequences. Thats My Boss, The Peruvian Anteater on this channel next week.
This is Wolf Sprizer signing off for SNN and signing on for unemployment assistance.
Back to you in the studio Bob.”
Only a few days later he is back once again, to report on a group of people being turned into insects:
“- but he said he was not wearing any underwear at the time.
In other news strange goings on in downtown shadowmarch with reports of people being turned into insects. Our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer is on the scene.
I am joined by our resident expert Professor Andrew Harmlessnut of Cal-Tech to explain...
Its Harm-lessnut not Harmless-nut.
I do apologise. I am joined by Professor Andrew Harm-lessnut of Cal-Tech who thinks he can explain the phenomenon.
Well Wolf it is quite fascinating actually. What we have here is a change in peoples morphic state brought about by external forces, what we call a Thaumaturgical Appearance Distortion or TAD.
This is the first documented occurence of the effect since a man in Tucson got turned into a beetle in 1975.
Before that of course there was the famous incident when Buddy Hollys entire backing group was turned into crickets.
Ah... wasnt that just a name for his backing group?
Well really Wolf. If you are just going to use this interview to air your crackpot theories then I am leaving.
<tears off microphone>
Huh... I suppose next you will be saying those spiders werent really Martians after all.
So there you have it. Are there really giant insects wandering the neighborhood in dowtown southmarch?
This reporter is not convinced.
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
After that fifth post it is almost a month before we hear from our reporter again and this time he goes on location to discuss the eleventh episode with the crowds:
“...to which the Pope replied Am I a Catholic?
In other news today we saw the release of the latest episode of Shadowmarch. Our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer is on the scene.
I am coming to you live from outside the Library in downtown Shadowmarch where crowds have gathered to read the latest episode. Lets find out what the average fan on the street thinks of it . Excuse me sir, you look pretty average, what did you think of it?
I am sorry. I dont have any lines. I am just an extra.
How about you sir?
Dude ! It was just...Dude! I mean wow!...Dude!
How about you madam?
Well it was good, but I prefer his earlier work you know? His first few episodes were much funnier.
How about you sir?
I enjoyed it. Thank Dog he left out those bloody Ewoks after episode six.
And you madam?
I think Williams has sold out. I mean come on eleven episodes? Its just padding. Even Robert Jordan has only done nine .
How about you sir?
It was good, except for that glaring continuity error where the guard was wearing a helmet from the fifth dynasty in what was clearly a seventh dynasty setting. But everyone knows the even numbered episodes are always better than the odd ones anyway.
And you sir?
I enjoyed it, but I cant believe people are still falling for this Tad Williams myth. Everybody knows its really Sir Francis Bacon.
So there you have it . Another resounding success for Mr. Williams. What can this reporter say except ...Dude!
<voice off camera Hey, thats my line >
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
His seventh report is issues a week later when he reports on an insurgance against the mantissi:
“...which had survived for two weeks in one of Cher's wigs.
In other news there is some kind of protest going on in Shadowmarch. Our roving reporter, Wolf Spritzer, is on the scene.
Thanks Bob. I'm coming to you live from outside the Mantisery in downtown Shadowmarch where a lone protestor has started to picket the building . Excuse me sir, what is your protest about?
We represent M.A.N.T.I.S. which stands for Minorities Against Nasty Tyrannical Input Supervisors. We represent the-
Excuse me. We? There's only one of you.
Alright I represent the etnic minorities which have been discriminated against by the Mantis selection process.
And which ethnic minority do you represent?
I am a Mac user.
I see. Any other reasons for protesting?
Certainly. I also feel that I was unfairly discriminated against because the people chosen had marginally higher post counts than me.
And how many posts did you make?
Mnf mnnn mfnnf
I'm sorry I didn't quite catch that.
Well, actually ...two. But its the quality of the posts that count, not the quantity.
And what did these two posts say?
Well, the first was a short introductory piece in the Mint. It said Hello everybody. The second post was also in the Mint. It said-
It wasn't Goodbye everybody by any chance?
Ah...so you are familiar with my work.
Just a lucky guess. Is there anything else even remotely interesting about this protest?
I do have a novelty animal.
I beg your pardon.
A novelty animal. You know, like Shadows and Ice has a crabadger?
I'm afraid to ask. Alright, what did you come up with?
Well, I crossed a sheep with a kangaroo and got-
A Spring lamb? a woolly jumper?
I did have another idea. I was going to cross a fox with a duck to get a-
Alright! That's enough! We don't tolerate that kind of language on this network. The interview is over!
Walks away muttering I don't understand. Whats so rude about calling it a dox?
So there you have it. Legitimate protestor or a man so dull he could fail a Turing test? I know which way this reporter is voting.
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
Then, again almost an entire month passes before we hear any news from him. This time he tries to interview Tad, but meets an imposter. In a reply to that interview, Tad mentions that the best imposters are those who don't look like him at all and never claim to be him either. But you'd best hear the actual interview:
“...and the Presidents trousers were returned the next day.
In other news, a possible Tad Williams impersonator has been spotted in downtown Southmarch. Our roving reporter, Wolf Spritzer, is on the scene.
I'm coming to you live from outside the Mantisery in downtown Southmarch where I am hoping to get an interview.
Excuse me ! SNN ! Could we have a few words please.
Yeah . I guess so.
You claim to be the bestselling author Tad Williams.
Yeah. That's me.
You don't look much like him.
Nevertheless I am in fact Tod Williams.
Oh yeah, Tad.
Alright then Mr Williams lets talk about your new novel War of the Flowers . Is it finished yet?
No. I'm afraud it isn't. But I hoax to have it finished soon.
Alright then, why don't we talk about some of your other work? The Dragonbone Chair for instance.
Umm...yeah...that was the one about a chair made from dragons bones, right?
What about Tailchaser's Song?
Umm...I've never read that one.
You wrote it.
Ah, well yes, but I never actually read it.
Tailchaser's Song , the one about the cats? How about Otherland -
Yeah, the one about the cows, right?
Other-land, the one about the computer network . You're not really Tad Williams are you? You're just - Why do you keep scratching your back?
Sorry. Its this old injury I picked up in Nam.
You were wounded in Vietnam?
Yeah. I was on vacation there last year and I fell out of my hammock.
You are not the real Tad Williams, are you?
Are you suggesting that I'm one of those loonies who gets obsessed with famous people and impersonates them? No way dud ! Thats totally imposterous !
Thats exactly what I am suggesting. There are three good reasons why I think you are a fake.
Number One - you have long hair, Tad Williams is bald.
It could be a very good wig.
Number Two - You have an Australian accent. Tad Williams is American.
I've travelled a lot.
And Number Three - You're a woman.
............I haven't been well lately.
So there you have it. The genuine article? This reporter is not convinced.
This is Wolf Spritzer handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
And then the news peters out, and it is over two months before we hear from our reporter again when he has an interview with the man who is going to make a film of the Dragonbone Chair:
“...a duck-billed platypus and a glass of prune juice.
In other news, 20th Century Frog Studios have announced details of their first instalment of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy. Our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer is on the scene.
I'm joined today by Stan Reptile head of PR for 20th Century Frog. What can you tell us about the new movie Stan?
Well Wolf we at 20th Century Frog are very excited about this movie. I personally am a big fan of Tad Williams. I've read all of his books.
Obviously some of his fans are a little worried to hear that you are filming The Dragonbone Chair in a one and a half hour movie. You must be leaving out a lot of details.
Yes. We had to combine a few characters together in places. For instance Binabik and Qantaqa. The director decided the hero had too many companions in the story so we decided to create a talking animal instead to avoid confusion.
And what do you call this new character?
We crossed Binabik with Qantaqa and got Binky.
Binky! A talking wolf called Binky?
Saint Bernard actually. The producer felt that a Saint Bernard would go down better with the audience than a wolf. More cuddly. He is a big fan of Rod Williams by the way. He has read all of his books,
So who is going to play the part of Simon?
Brad Pitt is going to play Simon?
No. We changed Simon's name to Brad. The executive producer did not think that Simon was a very heroic kind of name. He is a big fan of Chad Williams by the way. He has read all of his books.
Ok. So who plays Brad?
We were very lucky to get a big name star for the male lead. His last movie appearance was in Lord of The Rings.
Elijah Wood? Orlando Bloom?
Actually it's Skip Petersen.
Skip Petersen? Who the hell is Skip Petersen?
I believe his credit in the movie was Third Orc from the left. He is a big fan of Todd Wilkins by the way. He has read all of his books.
I see. Dare I ask about the female lead?
For the female lead we decided to go for a young actress with a proven track record of playing difficult and challenging roles.
Hmm? Christina Ricci? Kirsten Dunst?
Hey, it was the only way we could get her to do the soundtrack.
Britney Spears is going to do the soundtrack to a fantasy movie set in a medieval world?
Picture it. The Princess hates her suffocating upbringing? Overprotected. Simon, I mean Brad is held prisoner? I'm a slave 4 U. And the climax where the Storm King casts his spell? Oops I did it again.
I can't believe you would cast Britney Spears as Miriamele.
Actually it's Mary Lee. Britney felt that Miriamele was like, complicated, you know? She thinks the story is like, totally excellent you know? She is a big fan of Brad Williamson by the way. She has listened to all of his books
So there you have it. A marvellous tapestry or a monstrous travesty? You, the public must decide.
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the Studio.”
After this post Kehv immediately asks him to come and join the editors of the Shadowline. And Fangler asks him to do an expose on the abuse of power by the Mantidae. To which Aan sweetly asks Fangler what made him think that Wolf hadn't already done so and that it might just be the reason for his long absence.
Three months later her reports on the sighting of an ordinary man in Shadowmarch. Which is, looking at all the characters we have around here, quite an extraordinary event.
“- but luckily the horse was wearing a crash helmet and a tragedy was narrowly averted. In other news, strange happenings in downtown Shadowmarch. Our roving reporter, Wolf Spritzer, is on the scene.
I'm coming to you live from downtown Shadowmarch where reports are coming in of sightings of, and you are not going to believe this, an ordinary person.
You, sir, I believe you saw him first?
Can you explain what happened.
I was just sitting in my apartment, you know, writing, when the tip on my pencil snapped. I was going to fix it when all of a sudden I hear this noise.
What kind of noise? A loud whoosh? A fanfare? Eerie music coming from nowhere?
No, it was more like a polite cough. So I look up and I see this guy in a strange costume standing in my living room.
What was the costume like?
He was dressed in a pin-striped suit and a shirt and tie. And get this, he wasn't wearing any underpants on the outside of his trousers. I mean what kind of nutcase wears his underwear inside his trousers? I think to myself, this guy has been reading too many comic books. He thinks he's an ordinary man or something.
So what happened next?
The guy takes my pencil, reaches into his pocket and pulls out this little metal box.
He puts the end of the pencil into it, turns it around a few times, takes it back out again, and the tip of the pencil is sharp again!
I couldn't believe it myself. I said 'Who the hell are you?'. And he says to me 'I'm Clark Kent.'
Clark Kent? Never heard of him.
Neither had I. So I says to him 'What are you?'. And he says 'I'm just an ordinary guy.' Well, I wasn't having any of that crap. 'Look, I said to him nobody believes in ordinary people. There's no such thing. Just a bunch of stories we make up for kids.'
So he says to me 'If I'm not an ordinary person, how did I get into your room?'
So I look around. Then I turn around to talk to him again and the guy is gone. Vanished. And do you want to hear the really weird part?
All of the windows in the room were closed. Locked tight. But the door was open.
You're not trying to tell me?'
Yeah. The only way he could have got out of that room is if he walked out the door.
So, does an ordinary man live among us? Who is this so-called Clark Kent? With me is our resident expert Professor Andrew Harm-Lessnut of Cal-Tech. Professor, give us your thoughts.
Really Wolf, this is just another one of these urban myths. For several weeks now I have been hearing stories that there is an ordinary man loose in the city. Only yesterday a woman I considered to be perfectly reliable told me she had seen this so called Clark Kent. She did not want to come forward for fear of being ridiculed.
And what was her story?
She claims she was writing a letter when she misspelled the word rhubarb. She was just going to cross it out when she heard a polite cough.
Yes. He took a bottle out of his pocket and dabbed some white fluid over the ink. In seconds it was gone. He called it Correction Fluid.
Is there no limit to what this Clark Kent can do? Where has he come from?
If you believe the stories he came here on a BUS.
Could you explain to the viewers what a BUS is?
Traditionally, a BUS is a grey, rectangular shaped vehicle which moves along the ground in a straight line at anything up to sixty m.p.h.
That sounds pretty preposterous.
I know. There is even a photograph taken at one of these alleged BUS encounters.
It's very blurred.
Yes, there is probably a perfectly logical explanation for it. Like a very fast elephant, or a giant mouse.
So have they any idea of the real identity of this Clark Kent?
Conveniently, no. It's impossible to tell who he is. He has a fiendishly clever disguise.
And what is that?
He wears glasses.
So there you have it. If you believe all of that, you will believe that a man can walk. This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN,(inspired by Monty Python's Bicycle Repair Man), handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
Six months go by and then he surprises everybody by reporting on a demonstration against forced visibility:
“..hasn't been seen since the President ordered the invasion of France because'they don't talk like Americans?.
In other news, controversy in downtown Shadowmarch as the Mantises debate Proposition 9-3-21 to outlaw invisibility. Our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer, is on the scene.
Thanks Bob. I'm here to talk to the Invisible Man. What is your view on the subject?
Uh, I'm over here Wolf.
Sorry. What do you think about Proposition 9-3-21?
I am completely against it. I want to know just who these people think they are and how they can come up with a notion like this.
You are looking for greater transparency?
Exactly. I want to know what they think this ridiculous idea will achieve.
You can't see their point?
No. These people think they can get away with pushing us around but they won't succeed. They claim that they don't mean us invisible folk any harm but I know what they are up to.
You have seen right through their plans I suppose.
Damn straight. Its unpatriotic. Aren't we supposed to be 'One Nation, under Dog, invisible'?. They are all a bunch of loonies.
Isn't that a bit harsh?
LOONIES Wolf. League of Organisms Opposed to Naturally Invisible Entities Smarching. I won't let them get away with this. Us invisible folk have already started to fight back.
What have you done?
Well, first of all I got smutty.
I don't understand. How does talking dirty help?
No, Wolf, SMUTTI, the Society for Maintaining Universal Tolerance of Total Invisibility.
Were they any help?
Some, but just to make sure I also went to my uncle.
Is he some kind of lobbyist?
No, UNCLE. A group I formed myself called Union of Non-Corporeal Living Entities.
And they supported you?
Of course. Most of the UNCLE people were aunties .
They were relatives of yours?
AUNTIE, the Amalgamated Union of Nearly Totally Invisible Entities.
And all these groups support you?
Yeah. SMUTTI and UNCLE amalgamated to form SMUTTI UNCLE , but the AUNTIE's wanted immediate action so they got giddy.
They got carried away by the excitement?
No, they joined the Group of Invisible Demands Done Yesterday.
So are you a Smutty Uncle or a Giddy Auntie?
Neither. I got fed up of all these groups going nowhere. I just gathered up some friends and brought them down here to picket the Mantisery.
I don't see any picket.
Well of course you don't. They are invisible.
So how will anyone know that you are picketing?
Oh! Good point. Hey Harvey, call it off, will you.
Harvey! The giant invisible rabbit from the movies? Is he here?
Yeah, the six-foot tall invisible rabbit. He is over there.
Can I interview him?
Don't be silly Wolf. Rabbits can't talk.
So there you have it. Visible and Invisible. Smutty Uncles and Giddy Aunties. Lets just hope the debate doesn't get too acronymonious. This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN, handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
Wolf's twelfth post in february AC2 is about a lawsuit against Tad by a certain Billy G. Gruff, who is suing him over not having won the short story contest:
“-next time, try it without the parachute.
In other news, the court case that everybody is talking about continues in downtown Shadowmarch today. A class action has been filed against the famous author Tad Williams based on alleged derogatory references in his novel, Shadowmarch. Our roving reporter Wolf Spritzer is on the scene.
Thanks Bob. I am coming to you live from outside the Mantisery where I have managed to obtain an exclusive interview with the man who brought the class action against the author on behalf of what he claims is a repressed minority, Mr Billy G. Gruff.
Mr Gruff, could you tell our viewers which minority group the novel has defamed?
I see. Mr Gruff, the G in your name wouldn't stand for 'Goat' by any chance?
Yes. How did you know?
Just a wild guess. Mr Gruff, you have been quoted as saying that the novel 'Shadowmarch' contains a litany of derogatory references to goats and should be withdrawn from publication immediately.
That is correct.
Mr Gruff, there are no goats in Shadowmarch.
A common misconception. There are in fact numerous derogatory references to goats in the story. No other animal species has been singled out by the author for this level of abuse. These irrational displays of hatred against goats in his work cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
Mr Gruff, we are all familiar with the story. I think we would remember if there were any significant plot developments involving goats, good or bad. There are none.
Is that so? In Episode 14 Willow says, 'She is a little goat, but she is the most stubborn of the lot. She will push the others away from the food even the biggest of her brothers.' See how the author paints a negative stereotypical picture of the goat as a stubborn, greedy animal. Or what about Toby in Episode 7 who 'has his head down like a stubborn goat that will not be forced through a gate'? More negative bias.
I hardly think this constitutes defamation Mr Gruff.
Then what about Episode 17 where a goblin is described thus 'the bright yellow eyes have no white and only thin black sideways slots for pupils, like a goat's'. That is demonisation, nothing less.
Then, when he is not demonising goats he is belittling them, as in Episode 23 'really little more than a goat-track'. Of course if it had been a horse-track it would have been fine, wouldn't it?
Mr. Gruff, I think you are being a bit over-sensitive.
Over-sensitive? What about Episode 13, 'Now they had not seen her for several days and her goats were wandering across the green but summer-dry hills.' More negative portrayals of goats as irresponsible animals. Mr Williams is clearly indulging in blatant caprophobia. He has to be stopped.
Mr Gruff, how has Mr Williams responded to your lawsuit?
For the first five or six letters he just ignored me.
He must have thought you were just kidding.
By the time I had written my fifteenth letter he was beginning to get rather antagonistic about it.
You must have been getting his goat up.
This is not a frivolous lawsuit Mr Spritzer.
Is that so? Mr Gruff isn't it true that you previously sued McDonalds on the grounds that one of their Happy Meals failed to make you happy?
Well, yes, but?
Did you not also sue the Heinz Corporation because you could only find fifty-six varieties?
Well, yes, but?
Mr Gruff, isn't it true that Mr Williams alleges that you have an ulterior motive for bringing this lawsuit'
I don't know what you mean.
Mr Williams alleges that this suit is being filed because your entry did not win the Shadowmarch Short Story Competition.
Is that so? Does that mean that you deny being the author of this submission, 'Goats', by one William D Goat?
Alright, so I entered the competition. I did not want to deprive the public of what I believe is a highly entertaining essay on an issue of tremendous importance to the members of the Shadowmarch community.
Mr Gruff, nobody finds a ten thousand-word essay on goat farming interesting alright, Matt does, but nobody else. Mr Williams also alleges that you also made several other submissions.
I did not submit any other entries.
Mr Gruff, there were entries from Billy Goater, Billy D. Goat, William la Chevre, Wilhelm die Ziege, Guillermo la Capra, do I need to go on?
It could be a coincidence.
They all have the same postal address!
It's a very big house.
They all used the same signature on their entry forms as well.
Mr Gruff, isn't it true that one of your other submissions consisted of an exact copy of Episode One with the exception of the name of one of the character's names being changed from Barrick to Derek, using a green crayon?
Possibly some of my work was a bit derivative. But there are other stories. I did one from every genre, musical, horror, comedy.
By which you mean those instances where you repeated Episode One word for word and instead of changing the names of the characters you just changed the title? Lets see. Comedy: Ferras Vansen's Day Off, Brone Alone, musical: Hello Tolly, horror: Bride of Drakava, western: The Magnificent Eddon, do I need to go on?
Granted, there may be similarities.
Mr Gruff, isn't it true that Mr Williams has taken out a restraining order against you and threatened that if you sent in any more entries to the competition he would make sure you were sent into the wild without any pie?
Granted there may have been a few misunderstandings, but I would still be happy to withdraw my suit if Mr Williams would just accept my latest work, which is completely original.
Alright then, give me a look, In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit? Mr Gruff, please go away.
Perhaps if I changed it from hobbit to goat?
So there you have it. Will this lawsuit succeed? Frankly, I don't think he has a goat of a chance. I leave you with an excerpt from the winning entry in the competition, wiked tribe's Shadowmarch: A Musical for Banjo.
Oh give me a home where the funderlings roam,
And the Qar and the Rooftoppers play...
This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
Wolf's final post comes in on april the fourteenth AC2 and is an interview with a professor of archeology about old topics being dug up.
“Later in the program we will be interviewing Donald Rumsfeld to hear his explanation of why tomorrows vote on having cigars classified as Weapons of Mass Destruction is not a prelude to an invasion of Cuba. But first, resurrection is in the air as Smarchers start a trend for digging up old topics. Where will it all end? Our roving reporter, Wolf Spritzer, is on the scene.
Thanks Bob. I'm coming to you live from downtown Shadowmarch with Professor Diggem Uppagen of the Archaeology faculty of Shadowmarch University. Professor, what are we to make of it all?
Actually Wolf this isn't the first time that this has happened. In fact, Shadowmarch itself is simply a revival of an older concept that appears throughout history.
Can you give us some examples?
One of our excavations uncovered these stone tablets, which we believe to be the first ever version of Shadowmarch. Of course language had not developed properly in the Stone Age so in those days it was simply called Smurk.
Have you been able to translate any of the carvings?
Just some fragments. Someone called Mat carved this message here. He says that he thinks this agriculture idea could really catch on. Another message from someone called Un disagrees with him and urges him to concentrate on upgrading to Mozilla chisels, which he claims would carve words much faster. Lastly we have the first version of the Xenodochium, the Stoneodochium, where Parg collected hundreds of pebbles and would throw a different one at you each day. This annoyed Ruk, who awarded him the first Stone of Evil.
Next we move into the Biblical era, when Dog first appeared to his people. I'm sure you are familiar with the story from the Book of Smuttysis.
Naturally. Of course most people remember it from the epic movie The Greatest Story Nevy Told , that famous collaborative effort from Akiro Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick and Adam Sandler. Who can forget that magical moment when Dog, played by John Malkovich, appears to his first pilgrim Jiriki, played by Gary Coleman. Dog explains to him why he has set up Shadowmarch and what he wants to do with it and Gary Coleman looks at him and says 'What you talkin' about Williams?'
A memorable moment indeed. By that era Shadowus Marchus had progressed to being written on wax tablets. We have a few examples of them here. On this one Paragonus Kiwius introduces his Imperiodochium, 'A different portrait of an Emperor every day'. On another Anallanus is explaining to Matthias Agricola that he could inscribe his tablets a lot quicker if he switched to a Mozilla stylus. Rookius ben Rook awards him the Unleavened Bread of Evil.
Amazing. What other historical artefacts have you uncovered?
In medieval times Ye Shadowmarch Chronicle was kept on sheets of parchment I have some of the scrolls here. Paragcelsius introduces the Leechodochium, 'A different leech every day'. Genghis Aan tells Mattila the Hun that he could write a lot faster if he switched to a Mozilla quill. Cardinal Rookschlieu awards him Ye Loaf of Infamy.
Last but not least we have the 1960's and 'The Shadows they are a-Marching.' Psychadelic Paragon asks you to chill out in The Groovedochium, 'Its like, a different vibe every day, man' Aan D Warhol tells The Cat Matt with The Hat that he should be like, using Mozilla cassettes because the tapes he is using are, like, so fifties dude. The Rookmeister awards him the Bread of Totally Bad Karma.
So there you have it. A fascinating glimpse of Shadowmarch through the ages. This is Wolf Spritzer for SNN handing you back to Bob in the studio.”
And that was his last and final post. It almost makes you wonder, doesn't it. Thirteen posts and the number thirteen being claimed by KASS. Was WolfSpritzer a member of KASS?
What was that? Speak a bit louder young one, don't be shy, I'll answer any and all questions if I can. Who ElderTurtle is? Why John Hepner of course. The story of his former nickname is for him alone to tell though, these days he doesn't use it anymore. But what I can tell you is the story of his rules. One day in june AC1, Tad mentions how he got some spam telling him to increase his breast size. John rolls over from laughing and says:
“Oh (hee-hee, *gasp*) my! That is an image I really didn't need, Tad. It's just wrong (tm). However Thank You! It did trigger a honest-to-goodness laughing fit for the first time this day. Mostly because I violated Rule Number 1 for conversation with unruly friends.
What is Rule Number 1? I hear you cry:
Rule #1: Don't Visualize.
Rule #2: No, really, DON'T visualize!
There are more, of course.”
And then a few weeks later in some discussion completely unrelated, lomography comes up, and Tad has a look at their site. He finds ten rules for lomography there and changes them to the ten rules of Shadowmarch. After that several other smarchers post a top ten of rules they live by, or that they would like to see others live by. That is when John posts the top ten of his list of rules, though he didn't actually make them up himself.
“TOP TEN RULES ("The Official Rules")
The "Official Rules" Consist of 13 Rules.
Note: This rule is one that was very quickly broken as you can see by simply counting the "thirteen" rules listed below.
Rule #0 There are no Rules.
Rule #0.1 The Rules are meant to be broken.
Rule #0.2 For every Rule there is a loophole.
Rule #1 Don't Visualize.
Rule #2 No, really - DON'T VISUALIZE!
Rule #2.1 Don't Actualize.
Rule #2.2 Don't Realize.
Rule #3 Don't flip off a semi (or other large object such as ElderTurtle.)
Rule #4 There is no Rule #4.
Rule #5 Don't ask any questions.
Rule #6 You don't want to know.
Rule #6.1 I don't want to know.
Rule #6.2 I don't want you to know.
Rule #6.3 You want to know but I don't want to say.
Rule #7 Hey, you! Get down from there!
Rule #8 Shut up, you're drunk again.
Rule #9 Go to sleep ....
Rule #10 No flying in public.
Rule #11 Never ask Tad to repeat himself. Never ever ask Tad to explain himself.
Rule #11.1 Never ask Deborah to explain for Tad.
Rule #12 [Temporarily Censored.]
Rule #13 Not at the dinner table.
Rule #13.1 Not on the dinner table.
Rule #13.2 Not under the dinner table (unless you have the consent of the group.)
Rule #13.3 Not near the dinner table.
Rule #13.4 Not with the dinner table.
Rule #13.5 Should the tables be arranged in a circular formation; not in the middle of the dinner tables.
Rule #13.6 Not on her.
Rule #13.7 Not in her.
Rule #13.8 Not on that person either, unless they asked you to.
Rule #13.9 Not on the Turtle.
Rule #13.10 Not on the computer (yes it is possible.)
There you have the "official" rules. The unnofficial rules continue on for quite some time. Including a few other gems:
Rule #17 It means exactly what you think it means.
Rule #18 "I do not think it means what you think it means."
Rule #35 O.k., Visualize!
Rule #38 Wipe that evil grin off your brain.
And, one of my personal favorites:
Rule #41 Stay confused: it's safer that way.
What P.o.W. means? Paragon of Wisdom of course! He might have been a young man back then, but he was wise beyond his years. I'll spare you all the other rules, you can look them up in Peter's archive for yourself if you want to know them, they're over in Ye Olde Guiness Pub, page two, which was started by dragondawn. What the ten rules of Shadowmarch are? Well I can imagine you'd want to know, but I wouldn't be too bothered by not knowing them till now, I doubt anybody can remember them, even the people who were there when Tad posted them. We've always been a bit of a lawless bunch. Anyway, here they are:
“1. Take your SHADOWMARCH with you wherever you go
1. Use it all the time, at any time - day & night
3. SHADOWMARCH does not interfere with your life, it's a part of it
4. Get as close as possible to the objects of your SHADOWMARCHISH desire
5. Don't think. Just send money.
6. Be fast
7. You don't have to know what's going to be captured on your post beforehand
8. You don't have to know what's in your post afterwards either
9. Shoot from the hip (but be very careful of Tad's feelings.)
10. Don't worry about rules (but be very careful of Tad's feelings.)”
And no, I have no idea why there are two rules number one, but no rule number two.
Who was the child of the devil? What exactly do you mean? Oh, you're talking about member 666. Well he was short lived, I guess the natural atmosphere at smarch is too friendly for one such as him. On June the 20th of AC1, people start getting nervous, as member 666 is close. It is even suggested that he won't reveal himself as evil always works from the shadows. Tad is sad, cause he has to go to bed and is going to miss the Beast, and pleads with the newest member not to start the Times of Tribulation without him. A little over four hours later, The Beast does indeed show up. In his second and last post, he even shows a sense of poetry, confirming for me that poetry is indeed evil:
“Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt?
Th'infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv'd
The other of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heav'n, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers
He trusted to have equal'd the most High,
If he oppos'd; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Rais'd impious War in Heav'n and Battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th'Ethereal Skie
With hideous ruine and combustion down
To bottomless perdition.”
Speaking of fiends, we had a few more around here, though they were mostly nice people who had too much time on their hands. I'm speaking of the posting fiends of course. The first one was Shads of course, who got to 10k in the first half year. After that came Peter. Right now it's Em, and though it might seem I myself am a member of their clan, I didn't get ten thousand posts in half a year, like each of them did.
Of course in the beginning we played lots of games that helped us boost our word counts. What kind of games? Wow, where to begin, there were tons of them. I think one of the very first games was land of the doubles. It was a word game where you had to guess the rules. Aan Allein started it and Rook is the first to get it, followed by MoP. To give you a clue, they have Aan Allein, they have Rook, but they don't have MoP or Sahi. Shortly after that the Otherland alphabet is started by Jendaiya. A is for Azador, the gypsy traveller right up until Z is for Zekiel the runaway cutlerer, and straight away another round starts up.
The third game was the bouncing game started by tilps, but nobody gets it, so it dies an early death. Oh, and by the way, I might have missed some games somewhere along the way, so my counting might not mean anything. Anyway, the fourth game was another alphabet game. About Memory, Sorrow and Thorn this time.
The next game we all played wasn't a word game, and we actually only discussed it at smarch. The game was called Technosphere and it was a game where you could create carnivorous or herbivorous creatures with certain features, and then set them loose in the Technosphere world. You could then check on how they were doing, whether the had mated, gotten young, or been eaten or died.
Another favorite was quote trivia, where somebody would post a quote and you had to guess what book it came from and whom it was referring to. Cobalt Blue started it by quoting “Me, I disagree, I say five.” When begged for a clue he gives another quote from the same author, the same series but a different book:
“This man is the bees knees, Arthur, he is the wasp's nipples. He is, I would go so far as to say, the entire set of erogenous zones of every major flying insect of the Western world.”
The answer was Life, the Universe, and Everything where Ford prefect is having a conversation with Slartibartfast on board the starship Bistromath, about fun things to do. He mentions Eccentrica Gallumbits.
"Some people say her erogenous zones start some four miles from her actual body. Me, I disagree, I say five."
And then there was musical hangman started by Allegra DiNetta. It was like a traditional game of hangman, with the difference that what had to be guessed was a piece of lyrics, and you had to name the band that it belonged to. It was quite popular and went on for a while. The first quote was “I promise you I'll treat you well my sweet angel so help me Jesus!” Mookey thinks it belongs to N'sync, but Allegra says it doesn't. Finally Bobby guesses that it was the song Possum Kingdom by the Toadies and he gets a gold star.
The next popular game was the Rhyming Description Game, started by Nolan. The idea was you started off with two rhyming words, and gave a description of the construction. The next person then had to add another rhyming word and add to the description as well. And so we went from:
“I have a bunch of female chickens I keep out in the yard surrounded by a small fence. This fence is, by the way, a:
all the way down to:
“The wife of the fellow who took to canvassing the town in an attempt to pawn these informational booklets that the construction workers had published about their back-room pet (the room which was located directly behind their recently constructed and oh-so-meditative currency-holding chicken fences). Was also looked upon with derision by the townspeople, since her husband was never able to sell a single book. They taunted her, calling her:
Ten Zen Hen Pen Yen Men Den Wren Gen Ken Jen”
And finally there was another immensely popular game that we all played online and discussed on smarch: Nationstates. It was a game where you had to answer one or more questions every day and by making the decisions rule a nation of your own. We even created a continent of our own and moved all our countries to it. It was a fun game with unsuspected results, like Rook trying to be an evil despot and ending up the second most compassionate nation in Shadowmarch. Our countries ranged from Scandinavian Liberal Paradise, through Left Leaning College State, New York Times Democracy, Iron Fist Consumerists and Corporate Bordello all the way to Corrupt Dictatorship. All in all about forty countries were created.
Of course a lot more games were played and discussed on smarch later, like the Viridian Room games, where you had to try to combine all kinds of stuff to get out of a room. Also there were a lot of links to quizes which determined what kind of person you were, or animal, or cartoon, or pretty much anything. All were immensely popular, so the one thing you can conclude from all this is that we love to play games.
The council of sages? What about them? Oh, you want to know who else was on it besides me! Well let's see. I've already told the story of how I was appointed. The next member was Marian. She once told a story about giving unasked for advice to strangers in a bookstore about a Tad-book. She probably put something from that conversation into her signature, where Tad notices it and names her Minister of Propaganda (and PVC). Marian loves the title and claims that she can now walk up to strangers in bookstores with pride. She also loves the possibilities the PVC offer her. The third member is Pandy who asks Tad's permission to go onto a haj to look for the answer in the archives to the question what is making Shadowmarch the addictive, fantastic and most likely pocket draining place as successful as it is. Tad gives him permission and dubs him Sir Panderino of the Special Quest.
The fourth and final member of the council is Peter, the guy who created the archives. As I wouldn't have been much of a historian without them, I asked Tad to name him the Master Archiver, so we could give him a place on our council as well. Tad graciously agreed, and our council was complete.
Shadowmarch has had lots of orders, societies and clubs throughout it's history. The very first one was appointed by Tad. The first day of Shadowmarch didn't start until evening and 35 members register. On the first full day, meaning the second day of Smarch, Tad calls it a day when the 120th member has registered and goes to bed at 2:30 AM. He posts a goodnight note before he leaves, instating the Knights of the First Day:
“Well, we just cracked 120 registered members on the bulletin board, and that's my cue to give it up and go to bed.
Thanks to all hundred and something (there's probably less than a hundred and twenty because it's counting those of us who were here building the thing) of you for making the first full day of the Shadowmarch message boards so much fun. If it's any indication, I think this is going to be a wonderful community. I'll do my best to make the material on the site worthy of that.
And now, by the power vested in me as a Hierarch (and as one of the two people, not counting my poor innocent, ignorant children, footing the bills) I proclaim you all Knights of the First Day, here and always. Your website is grateful. Go ye forth and do Good Works.
And be careful out there.
After that message the newly annointed Knights play around with their swords and generally freak out.
Another order started by Tad is The Most High and Secret Order of the Long Night. On July the 23rd of AC1, Tad is making a list of people who are in the Quiller's Mint Backroom Club. He lists Kianor, Kim (aka Sadalian), himself, Shads and Jen, MadMaudlin, Kehv, Cheryl, Marian, FlutePicc, and StrangeShe and is wondering who else are official members. Or as he puts it:
“Not just frequent board habitues, but chronically bored habitues of the Quiller's Mint back rooms?”
After which, he hurriedly adds Miiru. Jendaiya asks if there will be a reward for devoting what little we have of a life to Smarch. Tad later adds Garcia, Paragon, Quax, Jaime and footle. And even later, Wiked Tribe, Calesta B and Gigi. Finally Ettelewen is added. He explains that there is no reason for wanting to know it, but he'd like to start a secret club and promote people to Deacon. In the end the list gets so long and it's too easy to forget people, so Tad just promotes everybody already mentioned members and promises them a free prize some day soon. Though I have no idea if that day ever came round.
A little while later people have heard some rumors about the OLN and wonder if they can be a member too. To which Tad hurries to explain:
“Goodness, yes, the Order of the Long Night was meant to be exclusionary only in that we folk who hang out in the QM back room topics are clearly doing it when we should be doing more practical things, and part of the reason is we just like to see who's around.
So if you're reading this (and have posted to the topic -- lurking doesn't count, unless it's under a doctor's orders) you're in. You may proudly append "OLN" to anything you want -- posts, letterhead stationery, request for early parole hearings.”
So that means that if you are a regular Minter you too are part of the OLN.
Four months later, Rimmersguard comes up with another name for the OLN, posting it inconspicuously as if everybody would already know it. He calls it the IPT, the Insane Posting Tribe. Which sums it up pretty nicely, as each and every one of the posting fiends is or has been a member of the OLN.
Speaking of Rimmersguard, he even founded an order of himself. He founded the NOOTAP on August the 30th, but is rather vague about what it entails. If I remember correctly, it stood for Noble Order Of The Accurate Posters, or something very close to it. It was noble and accurate at least, or so they claimed. Lots of people join them, just to be a member. Marian, AngelSarah, AJ and Miiru all join quickly. Qantaqa seems to have joined, as she is at least a supporter, but she never outright said so. Kikisan and ElendonDark join, but Ecthelion posts 134 reasons not to join. Later Qantaqa is officially asked to join. Rimmers warns Marian about her immense post count and suggests it might be against the rules, to which she replies that she is still waiting to be kicked out. On October the 29th of AC1, Rimmers notifies everybody that NOOTAP no longer officially exists. And beside here in the history the last reference I could find was on june the 11th of AC3, where NOOTAP is mentioned by Lian.
Two other societies are the Cool Smarch Dads and S'MANONYMOUS. The first one is mentioned for the first time when StrangeShe whines and whimpers in the Underlook Hotel that she would have loved to have a cool dad like markk or Tad (or any number of the other cool Smarch Dads), just so she could have enjoyed their wonderful bedtime stories. Kianor then takes it upon himself to thank them on their behalf, as he is one of them.
Kianor is also the one to open the first official meeting of S'MANONYMOUS. He admits to his addiction and invites others to do the same. Lots of smarchers pipe in, but redNathalie is still in the denial phase. I've never seen another meeting, but maybe they switched to real life meetings, who knows...
And finally there was the Smarch Book Club, which got together every saturday to discuss some chapters from a book they were all reading. They started out with The Dragonbone Chair and discussed the three parts. The plan was to do so on three consecutive saturdays, but Gigi forgets the second and hardly anybody else shows up on time. But part two eventually does get discussed, though it is a few hours late. For part three the meeting is moved a week as Gigi can't make it on saturday and Flupi hadn't read those chapters yet. Afterwards they go on to discuss lots of other books, including of course Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower.
We are a story loving bunch. Just look at yourself sitting here listening to me regaling the history and you know it's true. Not very surprising of course, considering that we all gathered here to hear the Dogly One tell stories after all. But Tad wasn't the only one around here to write stories, lots of other smarchers joined in and we all enjoyed each other's stories. Tad even told a lot more than just the Shadowmarch story. He also posted a bed time story for us about a cat, a raven and a man with no ears. Another bit of his work, though it might not be considered a story, were his ten Dogly commandments. He'd already written those long before Shadowmarch existed, but they get reposted for us all to enjoy and so I'm repeating them here:
“I have just
been watching in horror the gibbering and posturing over the
issue of gun control, including Representative Bob Barr (R - Ga) and his
ludicrous idea that posting the 10 Commandments in classrooms is somehow an
appropriate response to situations like Columbine High School.
I have no gripe per se with either Christians or even Republicans, but I am
sick and tired of the imputation that people like me, who are neither, are
the problem with this violent society.
The only available political answer is actually rather simple, although
completely trampled in the dust in this ridiculous debate. Young people in
all of Europe and Japan are exposed to the same violent images as America's
youth. They listen to the same violent music, and live in the same era of
what are supposed to be laissez-faire attitudes about religion and
morality. Yet THEY are not shooting people in anything like the same
numbers. In Japan, barely anyone ever gets shot. So what's the
difference? They don't have the same access to guns. Period. End of
I am so irritated by Barr and his ilk (and terrified that Al Gore's
not-very-exciting manner will leave us with a Republican president and thus
no check on these fundamentalist idiots in the Congress) that I would like
to offer up my own 10 commandments (well, suggestions) for the 21st
1. Your religious
beliefs, however strongly held, are only an opinion.
Until God or Shiva or Mumbo Jumbo, Lord of the Congo, appears a thousand
feet high waving a shining sword or flaming dust mop and answering all
doubters, they remain opinions.
2. Opinions, to quote the old phrase, are like assholes. Everybody's got one.
3. My religious beliefs are just as valid as yours. If I want to know
what yours are, I'll ask. If I don't ask, just shut up and enjoy your
sense of quiet superiority.
4. Unless you ask me, I'll keep my mouth shut about my own religious
5. There have ALWAYS been violent and stupid people. There may not be any
more of them during periods of powerful religious control of society, but
there sure aren't any fewer, either. More religion is not the answer.
6. The problem with young people is the same as it has ever been.
Adolescence is confusing and difficult, and it's a lot more of both when
you're part of a society that distrusts you as a group, and you also have
access to terrible weapons. Try to give kids something to live for. Don't
assume they're happy.
7. There are no scapegoats and no easy fixes. Some borderline people are
affected by violent images or pornography, but the truly disturbed can find
inspiration in anything, most definitely including the Christian bible.
8. Moral strictures and commandments are useless and usually
counter-productive, because fear is a very poor teacher. Children (and
even adults) learn by what they see other people really doing. True moral
examples are what is needed.
9. Punishment is of limited value. Much more can be solved by starting
out well with love and education than by threatening those who have already
10. Stop thinking you know the answers, if others would only agree with
you. People have been trying to solve these things for millennia, without
success. Get humble. Listen. Unbend. Do the right thing in your own
life, and that means the little things no one notices. Then you'll be too
busy to interfere with the lives of others who don't want your attentions
or your prescriptions.
Then there was of course the story from the book of regret ...
And the Terrible Conflagration of the Quiller's Mint. And let's not forget the Cloak, which he also posted online.
But as I said, Tad wasn't the only one to give us stories. Jendaiya for example gave us the Story of Raven and Turtle, which she had written for Gigi and dedicated to ElderTurtle. The story goes on to explain how there came to be such a multitude of turtles due to one little brave turtle who took on a cougar and won.
Then there were the joint stories. There was the Grand Experiment by Kehv, Rook, Sam Nemesis, Garcia, John Hepner, Nolan, Bumadax, Chucky, Flarelocke, Miiru, jparadise, Wikedtribe, George Bowyer, jaded, Cobalt Blue, Ian Dorsch and Ravenhack. And I'm sorry to say that I can't remember if it never got finished or if part of it simply got lost in the terrible conflagration.
The other major joint writing project was the Underground passageways by Bumadax, Kianor, Ecthelion, Qantaqa, Bookwurm, The Sixth Viking, Hwei, Allegra DiNetta, 'Tank, The Space MacGuyver', RobbMann, Kehv, Wolfshade. This story got at least a semblance of an ending as 6V ended it on his own when nobody else replied anymore.
Another writing project, although that one was more for fun than any serious writing, was the Story Circle. It was a project started by me, even. I loved the story projects, but felt I could never actually add anything good, as their was in my eyes very high. So I started a fun project where I started with a single sentence and anybody could respond. The response would have to be a single sentence too and would have to take the story a step further. In then end the story got very nonsensical, all I remember actually is that it had smurfs in it as well and it was just as crazy as a good conversation in the Mint can be. But we all did have a lot of fun writing it.
When we go back to stories written by a single person, I absolutely must mention markk's Skeevix. It was a wonderful bedtime story about a little boy who finds a carnivorous balloon and has great adventures with it. There were even two stories. The first one got finished, but I am not sure the second one ever had a proper ending. It might have, but I'd have to read it again to make sure. But I certainly urge you to delve into the archives and find out for yourself. Markk has even published some works and I've read one of them (Palace with Katherine Kerr) and liked it a lot, so go out and look for work by Mark Kreigbaum.
Then there were Kehvain and Kianor who are also accomplished writers. I'm not absolutely sure they have published work, but I think they have. But anyway, Kehv used to have a website called Mirrorshards. I have no idea if it's still around, but you really want to check it out if it's there. He's written all kinds of stories, poems and other literary 'shards'. One of the stories he copied onto the boards was a story about the Cereal Killers, the Kellogg's characters figuring as a mob gang, if I recall correctly. Highly amusing. Kianor had a site as well at denalipublications. But yet again, I have no idea if it's still around. He wrote a story about a Killer Cloud, but unfortunately the details have been lost in the mists of time. Together they ran the Penny University Kafé, where quite a few literary gems were dropped.
There was also a beautiful poem by Ian (who has gone by many names). Alas, all but the following few lines have been lost:
“'Cause friendship's not a children's toy
And friendship's not a second Troy
And friendship's not a thing for scathing laughter”
“I hope you're happy on your own
With your new expensive silent phone ”
“You knew the stories that would sell”
All the rest got lost when Ian thought it necessary to erase his presence from our boards. A fact I still regret, for I miss his presence.
Then we also had a topic where everybody wrote a bit of poetry where the first characters of all the lines had to make up your name. Not many people joined in, but it was a fun exercise, though I'm not very good at poetry. So here's what Shads, who posted the topic in the first place, came up with:
“'Take your name and make it a poem' he said.
Easier said than done.
She hasn't a clue what to do, and is
Suffering from mental constipation,
Acute and incureable.
Kill me quick, she begs,
Under this torture I cannot live, and this
Melodrama just doesn't work for me.”
And finally, though I've indubitably forgotten quite a few more things, there was a topic filled with smarch quotes, most of them collected by StrangeShe. I'll just repeat a few of the jewels, you'll just have to dig in the archive to find them for yourself if you want to read them all.
“I consider Smarchers as a whole to be some of the smartest people I've dealt with. And yet it amuses us all to no end to say 'dude' for pages and pages...
“Do you all notice that the quality and import of Tad's postings are inversely proportional to ours. If we're in the gutter, he's high minded. If we're anagraming he's educating. But if we're discussing the social issues of the world, he's off playing games with his name. Hmmmm?
“Malleable? I'll say. Sometimes it seems like this isn't a place where the Laws of Physics aren't so much ignored as slapped around and rudely thrown out on their ear with an "And don't let me see your stinkin' face 'round here again buddy!" from the bouncer.
~ElderTurtle (John) ”
What this terrible Conflagration was I spoke of? No, it's not quite the same thing as that story Tad wrote, though that is where the name comes from. I think it was halfway through AC2 (meaning at the end of 2003, the beginning of 2004, for those of you who still think in the time frame of the outside world) when a terrible thing happened. The Shadowmarch server physically burned out. There was talk of RAID's and motherboards being damaged and it took an aweful long time for it all to be repaired. I can't quite remember how long, but it felt like months, and it was certainly weeks. From one minute to the next the entire Shadowmarch site was gone. Not a trace remaining, and not a clue as to what happened. Slowly, one by one, most of the active smarchers found their way to Guthwulf's site as more and more members sent mail to the others to help them find their way. We gracefully accepted refuge there. That is also where we heard about what was wrong and that it would take a while to fix, as actual hardware had to be replaced. That is also why we now can only find the posts from AC1 and AC2 in Peter's archive and no longer on the board. In some way they did manage to retrieve the postcounts, though I never heard how. But some posts were lost in the process, meaning that some people had to reach the large milestones like 5k and the like, yet again.
The experience was twice as horrible as the server had experienced down times before, but never more than a few days. But this time after a few days the site still wasn't back, and for those of us who hadn't found their way to Guthy yet, it was a frightening time.
What had caused the server to be down before? Well first Tad's ISP did a migration at night, and especially in the beginning, smarch time was all the time no matter what time of day it was in one place of the world. And though the ISP had sent Tad a message about it, it somehow got lost in between the tons of mail the Dogly One gets every day. And if I recall correctly, they didn't send te warning all that far ahead. That time it lasted only about four hours.
The second time the server went down was when Red Worm attempted to take over the world. This caused us no end of trouble as well, as the ISP took the server down several times during that time to protect themselves from it's ravaging claws.
But mostly smarch is there all the time. Of course nowadays there are hours after each other when nobody is there and you can haunt the boards on your own.
The complete other end of smarch not being there or being empty when it is there, is when the foursome took over the board. Now this is a fairly recent event, I think it was somewhere halfway through AC4, yes they even got their timing right. Ceywren, mabinogi, Deegec and cyan get together and chat and chat and chat until they've filled up four Mint rooms in a span of 24 hours. Mabs and Ceywren start out Beneath the Stading Stone, where I keep them company for a while, before having to go home. In the second room of Fourness, The Old Tin Shed Out Back, Deegec comes in at page 6, but has to leave again soon. Cyan comes in at page 20 and never leaves again, till it's over. The third room is the Neighborhood Bar, which is mostly filled by ceywren, mabs and cyan, with Deegec coming back in again at the end of the room. The fourth room was named aptly IV. And that is how they achieved Fourness and will now live on in our memories forever.
What? Oh yes, the Mint has certainly know periods when it went faster than that. Back in the old days I never went there much, because with my dial-up modem I could never keep up. In the time it took me to post a message, four to six new pages had gone by. But there were always tons of people around then, to achieve Fourness with only four people and with flood control on.... Well I think it's quite an achievement.
Oh, you know what I just realised? When telling you about the multitude of story talents we have on board here, I never thought of telling you about the short story contest!
On January the 7th AC2 Tad posts the idea for a short story contest. The idea for a contest itself had been circulating for a while, but as Tad would have to be the judge, he postponed it till he had some time on his hands. He promises a pencil sketch of the Eddon family as first prize and mentions that the deadline will probably be somewhere in March. But first he wants to know if anybody is interested.
Quite a few people report their interest and some even offer their help. Tad mentions that he'll only need help if a large group of people will join in. After a lot more people express their interest and request more info, Tad posts that he is thinking of stories with a maximum length of ten thousand words, and that they should be related to Shadowmarch in some way and that they'll be available to the public, unless specified otherwise.
Renfield is delighted by the prospect and enters his story right away: “Shadowmarch”, claiming it will be the shortest story there is, a single word story that fits all the requirements. But Dread beats him by submitting: “”. To which Tad remarks that quality will count for something too.
After that the contest is discussed in great length, although no more details have been given, due to Tad being too busy with War of the Flowers to work them out. Of course the discussion also veers wildly off topic with people's length being discussed and rabbits being pulled out of cats. Don't ask.
Somewhere along the line, Angelus (he of the long posts) mentions that it would be neat to win a dedication. After people discuss that that would be a bit much to ask, as dedications are very personal to the author, I suggest getting a teeny, tiny guest role. Like just having your name mentioned once in a scene playing in the Mint. Of course I myself already am included in the book, since the Lady Porcupine has been in the story since the preview chapters, but the idea is still cool. Somewhere else on the board Tad explains that he's very picky on names, so this turns out not to be a very good idea either. Later on it occurs to me that another great prize would be to have Tad read out and record the winning story. Aikiwriter later puts in his two cents that an absolutely great prize would be to win a recommendation to Tad's agent. But he grins as he says it, already knowing it's not going to happen. On June the 6th, Tad opens up a new topic for the actual contest, suggesting a deadline for the end of July. On July the 11th Tad adds that the deadline will be August the 10th and requests that all stories be sent in in hardcopy, as he'd otherwise have to print them all out by himself. Aan Allein asks if that deadline is the submission deadline or the receival deadline, as sending hardcopies from all over the world might cause some delays and it would be a good idea to know in advance when you have to send your copy. Beazle offers to print two or three stories, as he's on the same side of the pond as Tad is. Tad explains that the manuscript will have to be postmarked by August 10, but that you should choose a shipment that will take six weeks after that date. When his address is asked for, Tad posts the address of his mailbox. In the end the following stories got mailed to Tad:
"Children of a Linear God" - Aikiwriter
"Belief Obsession & Rhubarb" - The Sixth Viking
"Not a beggar's story" - Earthmanu
"Trigon 3: Old, Pure, and Chosen" - Wolfshade
"Of Scale and Shadow" – Miiru
"Falling" – Allegra DiNetta
"War" – Marian
"Jack of All Shades" – Stuart
"The Unwritten Story" – Sahi and Rumil
"Burrow" – corvis777
"A Small Story Among Many" – Maladroit
In the end 6V wins and the sketch is sent his way. Unfortunately, despite the claim that it might be an annual event, Tad's time just runs out and it is never repeated.
If Tad was ever angry with us? Oh sure, of course he was. Hell, he even started a campaign of Vengeance against us. Only two months after he started the forum, he decides that 'things have been all hearts and flowers around here for long enough' and that he will start his infamous Campaign of Vengeance. Which he claims means that if you fail to love or adore either him or his website sufficiently then you go onto the List. And he claims you really don't want to know what happens then. And thus the list is begun:
“Jendaiya -- implied that there was something wrong with people posting in a me-adoration topic.
Kianor -- implied I might be posting too much.
Shadows and Ice -- just because she has more posts than I do, and I already put Jendaiya on the list.
Kehvain -- is creeping up on me in numbers of posts. Definitely insufficient respect.
That's the beginning...but the list will grow. That's a promise.”
Rook wants to know if there are application forms to get onto the list, before he realises that you really don't want to be on there. Tad continues the List:
“ET -- for being a little too hippie-ish.”
Later on Kianor gets a double mention on the list for nominating others to go on the list as well.
Yseult and Marian try to give people advice on how to stay off his list and Jendaiya implores everyone to join her in the Secret Society of Double Inifinity and to rise up in rebellion with her. Aan quickly joins in and offers people shelter in the hidden passageways. Kianor reports on the historical fight between the two:
“In the left corner, in the dark basketball trunks, we have the defending heavyweight champeen of the world, the Mage of Page, the Majority leader of the Tadocracy, Tad Williams.
In the right corner, in the black neoprene, we have the challenger, Double Infinity, guerilla leader of Jendanistas, Jendaiya.
LET'S GET READY TO RUMMMBBBLE! ”
When ElderTurtle receives news of his name being on the list, he vents his Wrath by rearing himself up, sadly contemplating the folly of anyone tempting him to wrath, and shaking a finger slowly in Tad's general direction while uttering the infamous words 'Tks! Tsk!'. After which he withdraws back into his shell for quiet contemplation. When Jen tries to get him to join the resistance, he vents his wrath on her as well, claiming that she started it all in the first place.
Flagg compares the list to a list his pledge master at his fraternity, on which he once tried to make it to number one, but failed. And then he goes on to ask if Tas will have rankings on the list as well.
A little while later Tad posts the updates to the list:
“Flagg -- for daring to equate Shadowmarch with a...frat. You are on the List.
ET -- for not quitting while you were only on the List once. You're on it again.
Aan -- you are SO on the List.
StrangeShe -- for laughing at "Jendinistas"...well, maybe I'll give you a second chance. You were always impressionable and easily led.
Miiru -- definitely hovering. Don't make me do anything you'll regret later.
Is that everyone? Guess I'll put Kianor on the List again, just to keep him on his toes.
Wow, three times, K? That's pretty impressive. It's going to be too bad you'll be too busy suffering the throes of terrible vengeance to appreciate the honor.
(Jendaiya, it goes without saying, is permanently on the List in indelible ink and may not be removed even if she performs emergency brain surgery on me and saves my life.)
Let the Campaign Venge On!
Oh, and I almost forgot. Bumadax, for finding somebody already on the List hilarious, you are definitely crowding List-ville City Limits. You have been warned.”
Kianor gets desperate and wonders how many poems it will take to be taken from the list again, and Tad demands only one, but it will have to be a really good one. And thus the next poem gets written:
“Oh Mage of Page in vengeful Rage
Please free my good name of this cage
From these guerillas that on you wage
A foul war of words of ill repute
While hid amid dungeons in your stage
From cats to posts to Caliban
From Osten Ard to Otherland
Yes I'll read it if it bears your hand
Admiration I cannot refute
So proud I am to have joined this band”
Shads demands that Tad gets over his PostCount Jealousy, and tries to lure him over to her side, saying that together they can go a conquesting. All the while showing a bright dazzling sparkly smile.
Later on markk adds a poem too. Perhaps just to stay in Tad's good graces, to make sure he won't get to be on the List.
“O, what can ail thee, Tad Up In Arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The edge has withered from your scorn
And no Taddicts sing!
O what can ail thee, Tad Up In Arms,
So haggard and ciggies gone?
The Quiller's Mint is full
And this week's episode's done.
I see a star on thy brow
With anger wroth and postings few,
And on thy profile page a fading sig
Amuseth the Smarcher Zoo.
I met a Lady in the Topics,
Full tricksy, a faery's child,
Her posts were long, her replies quick
And her rebellion wild.
I made a List to cool her jets
And threats and a Phantom Zone,
She looked at my posts as she did plot
And adopted a haughty tone.
I opened up the Quiller's Maze
And nothing else she saw all day long,
Her blasphemy snared rebels for many days
A faery's song.
She found my books of relish sweet,
And mustard wild, and Mountain Dew,
And sure in language strange she said
'The Tadocracy I Eschew!'
I saw pale Shadows, and Turtles, too,
Pale kiwis, death-pale were they all;
They cried, 'La belle Jen sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!'
I saw their avatar's lips in the phosphor
With horrid warning gaped wide
And I awoke, and found me here
On the message board's B side.
And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering;
Though the edge is withered from my scorn
And no Taddicts sing. ”
His poem moves the Dogly One so deeply that he declares a general amnesty until someone pisses him off again.
Several people are miffed that they're not on the list again, even after posting a couple of times. George Bowyer, after only a few posts on the board, posts an anagram of Tad's name and points out that it is “a small wit ID” and wonders if this will get him on the list. Tad is exasperated and points out that people should be running away from joining the C.o.V. List.
Marian still tries to keep the list up, but gets kidnapped by Jen. Libbette points out that she has questioned Tad's sanity at more than one occasion and still has never been on the list, making Miiru jealous. Aan claims that Tad has joined the resistance by popping up in one of their hideouts without extracting vengeance. StrangeSe finds the topic again a few months later and posts the lyrics to Eric Idle's “I've Got a Little List”. Another year later Muffin revives the topic yet again, but the topic quickly ranges off to bunnies. And that was the end of the infamous Campaign of Vengeance.
One of the things that makes me love this community as much as I do are the smarchers. A bit obvious, as their words make the community. But it's not just words either, when the time comes they act as well. Like this one time when Kianor thought there might be a fire in his house. He was at work at the time, or at least he was somewhere behind a computer that wasn't at home, and didn't know for sure that his house would be affected, as he only knew it was in his appartment building. Before he even knew for sure, we were already organising a book collection to replace some of the books he might have lost, under the guidance of Kehv. It turned out that his house wasn't affected, so we didn't have to come through with our promises. But there was also the time when Sheryn was robbed on her way to the WorldCon and they'd taken all her books. Due to the short notice we couldn't do much, but I was one of the people who last minute grabbed a book from our shelves that was on her list of lost books and took it with me. I'm still not sure she got it signed there, but she sure was happy about the gesture.
But there is also a repeating event to share the spirit of the holidays with as large a group of people as is possible: The Great Shadowmarch Holiday Card Exchange. Right from the start, every year a group of smarchers exchange addresses by PM and send each other holiday cards. Dragondawn first started it, but the last couple of years it has been Gigi who faithfully collected all the addresses and distributed them again. And let me tell you, it is such a great thing when cards from all over the world start coming in. I'm always the envy of all my friends with my huge amounts of cards.
That first year 27 people join in, and despite the declining number of posts on the boards over time, that number has remained more or less steady.
Smarchers generally like each other, and ever since the beginning they loved to organise meetings.
On february 3 AC1, Jack Half-a-Prayer, Sarah, George Bowyer, Arvhot and Lloer get together for a meeting in the UK.
On april 20 AC1 Marian, jaded, renfield, susan, kehv, pretzalz, Jaime and miiru get together in DC. Jaime describes getting caught up in a protest march against the Israeli occupation. As soon as everybody, but Kehv has arrived they start to order food and turn the meal into a huge banquet by ordering all kinds of dishes and then sharing. Dragondawn couldn't make it to the moot, but is there on the phone until Jaime's battery gives out. Kehv comes in just as Jaime and Miiru have a giggling fit and takes some incriminating pictures of it. And then Kianor calls as well and he too is passed around until the battery expires. Much alcohol is consumed. After that the zoo is visited, but the weather isn't too great, so not many animals show themselves. After that more bars and drinks and giggling and crashing at Jaime's place.
On May 11 AC1, Tad is in London and a meeting takes place. George Bowyer is the first to return from it to report, but reports noting more than that it was a 'very enjoyable afternoon'. Nevy reports that George called Tad a really nice gut on AIM. Hwei reports that Connor claimed to be a pigeon. Katastrophy added that many people were female to her/his surprise. Kat also reports on the range of topics that were covered, that starlings can be induced to airial acrobatics with chips, that Connor was infatuated with the Underground and that Devon was brooding on some demonic plan, as she was way too quiet. LES... then reports that Deborah is lovely and promises pictures after he's had some sleep. The next day, LES... comes through on his promise and posts the pictures. Angel Sarah, though not having reported yet, was in the pictures as well. When she does come in Angel Sarah mentions the conversation about American money and how it's all the same colour and size. Two days after the meet Arvhot reports in as well. Who adds the discussion about transatlantic swearing to the general report. Eggwhite, who probably also was at the meet, but who was a lurker before reports in as well. Eddie Lizard (later better know as Angelus) reports in as well and adds to the discussion about the redness of sarah's hair.
In August AC2, a large group of smarchers gather at ConJose, where Tad has been appointed Toast master. And while I didn't go to ConJose itself, I did go to the two smarch parties that were held there. The first in the hotel where most of the smarchers staid and the second at Tad's place. And that's how I met all the ConJose-goers. Most of the reports that must have been written about it, can't be found in the archives, so you'll have to make do with my description of the parties. But what I've heard about the rest of the Con is that it was the general mayhem that you get when you put a lot of smarchers together.
On october the fifth AC2, Gigi is in Amsterdam for a couple of days and the Dutch smarchers gather there to meet up with her. Present are Aan Allein, Marion and me. Gigi summarises the meet quite aptly as follows:
“... we had a really fun day today with Aan, Sahi, and Marion. Mostly we at (from Sahi's backpack), got lost, ate (at a sidewalk cafe, in the pouring rain), shopped, and ate (at a Uruguayan steakhouse!), and walked some more.
I'm tired and happy and full of Smarchlove :)”
On april the 27th AC2, we find ourselves at the Elf Fantasy Fair. Jaime and Aenwyn come all the way over, and of the Dutch smarchers you could find Aan Allein, Dokandor, Marion, Relayquin and me there. Lots of fun was had, Neil Gaiman and Robin Hobb gave readings, lots of trees were hugged by Aenwyn and afterwards we went for food in a nearby restaurant. I doubt there will ever be a smarchmoot without food in it. It just wouldn't be complete, thought that might also have something to do with the duration of the average meet. They simply last for hours, meaning that somewhere along the way food has to be consumed.
Many, many more meets were held here and there, large and small, but there are simply too many of them to describe them all. But I can tell you that if you ever get the chance to meet another smarcher, go for it. It'll be guaranteed fun and food.
Some people liked each other just a little bit more than all the other smarchers and even got married. On march the 19th in AC2 Libbette and Rajan are the first couple to get married. Of course a lot more people got married in the time before that, like corvis777. But these two actually met each other through Smarch, while we never met corvis777's wife never came to smarch (or at least I think she didn't. The second couple to get together were Damon and bandit. And finally the last couple, at least that I know of are mabinogi and ceywren. Lots of babies were born in between the beginning and the current moment, too many really to mention. Some relations also broke up, but let's not get into the bad memories, shall we?
And then finally there is the Shadowmarch vocabulary of course. I've already explained the history about pineapples, but another favorite vegetable of smarchers world wide is rhubarb. Once there was even a topic called Rhubarb that was 8 pages long before the word rhubarb was even mentioned. And then it is only mentioned because Paragon wonders about it not being mentioned. The explanation is that it was used as a title because it was merely a topic with vague mutterings, and that's what the word rhubarb was always used for in the theatre. After that the word rhubarb gets mentioned a couple more times and the topic gets dragged over to how rhubarb doesn't always like to be moved from one garden to another. And also how sometimes the rhubarb won't go away. And there is even thought of selling virtual rhubarb. A little while later another topic about rhubarb is opened up, because Lisa heard some people on the radio discussing food and the topic of the day was rhubarb. After that rhubarb never really went away.
Another topic that kept coming up were spoiler warnings, or spoiler bumps. The smarch ubb has this page called active topics (just for those of you who didn't already know). And on this page all topics that have been posted to in the past day will appear. Or rather the first 200 characters of the last post that was made. Quite a few smarchers use the AT page to keep up with what is happening, and so it is rather annoying if some spoiler was found on it, without a warning. Therefor the 200 character spoiler warning was invented. But because not everybody understood that a lot of returns were simply ignored on AT, it had to be explained quite a few times. But when all else fails, there is always the spoiler bump, which is a post that is mostly empty, just to get the spoiler off of active topics.
On april 9 AC 2, there is even an entire topic about smarchese, as Paragon has an assignment about slang and is wondering which words are unique to our community. Of course our abbreviating Shadowmarch to smarch and the verbs we made of it are part of it, as are the Hierarchs and Mantidae. Then there is our common greeting of (G')Maen, which arose due to the time differences. As MAEN is simply an acronym for Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night, in order to greet everyone according to their own timezone. Then there is the term crabadger (a nickname for Shads), and to frenzy as a verb. My own greeting of Yalahii is mentioned as well, but I stole that from Kipling, so it doesn't really count. Then there is the term pike that the Aussies brought to us, which means leaving a party, fun event or cool gathering before the fun is over, and the Mint. Smutsisters are also a unique part of our culture.Right up there with being skulled, which meant that something you had said was taken completely out of context and could be interpreted in quite a different way then.Though you could also hear that being refered to as skulled, both named after Ian's Skeleton Closet. And being Xenoed meant that some link got posted in the Xenodochium.
And Reg our forum ghost has also become a common phrase. Smarchmoot or smarchmeet shouldn't be forgotten either. Nor should the duct tape that we often use to tie somebody down in the Mint when they really should leave but we don't want to let them. Pouncyticklehuggles, or pouncytacklehuggles were often handed out in the Mint when somebody new came in. The croissant of evil was handed out by Rook whenever somebody did something truly evil (in a good way). In the magic mirror you can see who is online, unless they are invisible. And of course all the various neighborhood topics were quite something as well. The list goes on and on, but you really should pester Paragon for it, as he is the one who compiled the list. Or you can delve into the archives and find his topic.
Goodnight used to mean quite something different from the usual definition as well, as people used to wait for another couple of posts to be posted before they actually left. And Goodnight from Marian actually means that she'd be around for another couple of hours.
Fish have quite a history on smarch as well. First of all there is the Salmon of Correction, which might just be frozen and is used to whap people with when they do something wrong. The first reference I can find is that StrangeShe threatens to use it on Wiked when he forgets his spoiler warning. (Of course she never gets to hit him with it, as he still has it from the last time it was used.) Though if you look for Salmon of Corection, you'll find a reference by jwad who explains that it originates from the Lyst. Then there is the already mentioned sperm whale of annihilation, the minnows of chastisement and the sunfish of retribution. Or as wiked calls it retabution.
Smarchers also have lots of different passtimes. Not to strange if you consider what a large and diverse group we are. One of those passtimes is stitching. Marian, Seitherin and StrangeShe are the ringleaders of the stitchers on smarch, leading many a conversation about it. Seitherin even came up with the name Shadow Stitchers for themselves. Later on Ettelewen and flupi report that they stitch too. When Seitherin recommends Theresa Wentzler in case Tad ever decides to have smarch patterns, Tad pipes up that he has no objections to smarch-themed stitchings. Then Binky, Mikayla and Sheryn come in and join the club as well.
Another fascination shared by lots of smarchers is cats. You'll find plenty of conversations about the antics of some cat or another. We even had the catlover list, though we never compiled an actual list of the people on it.
And the last part of the Shadowmarch lingo, or smarchese, that I want to tell you about is Jellybeanese. One day in AC5, cyan came into the Mint complaining about her boss. Ceywren states that we should bombard all evil bosses with licorice jelly beans, because nobody likes those anyway. Em then comes in to steal the evil black jellybeans as she does like them. Soon after that the black jellybeans get branded the Black Jellybeans of Doom (tm), which inspired others to come up with different colors of jellybeans with various properties. Examples of these are the rainbow coloured jellybeans of celebration, the teal jellybeans of confidence and the lavender jellybeans of locquaciousness. There are even a few words that have been derived from this. Like to verdant, which stems from the verdant jellybeans of vanishment. So to verdant means to leave.
What we used to discuss in the Mint way back when? Well anything and everything, same as now. Maybe we were a little bit weirder, I'm not quite sure, seeing how we're still pretty weird if you ask me. What, you want examples? *sigh* Oh well, here we go. Let's see, once upon a time the back room in the Quiller's Mint was named '101 uses for Duct tape'. See, that's how important duct tape is to us smarchers. Of course it started out with a list of 101 things you could do with duct tape. Rimmers goes on to volunteer with helping for the history. Yes, I'm horribly overdue, I had promised to write this document even then. I also get complaints that my desk should be more accessible. Pah, it's very accessible as it is! Just a bit cluttered, that's all. When Rimmers says that on European time it's just Peter and me, and Peter says that usually Qantaqa is also there, Qan spontaneously appears and we find that she has very good ears, which isn't surprising what with her being a wolf and all. MW Cox's (later known as Mike or the Microphone or the Collander Guerilla) dying frenzies apear contageous as Qantaqa forgets her dairy allergy and dies after eating ice cream. Peter's archive is nearly ready. And I can tell you that it has been invaluable to write the history. Aan threw Dart at the list. What list? Well I really wouldn't know anymore. Qantaqa tries to speak a bit of German, but decides to stick with French instead. Next up is some talk about connections, followed by admiring Lisa's artwork and Peter's stick figure. Because at first Qantaqa had trouble opening the file Peter sent her, the talk shifts to computer related stuff again. (As it did quite often when Peter and or I were around.) Darkangel reaches 4k and nobody, herself included notices until Peter congratulates her on 4004. Then the question is if Peter is going to reach 15k that day, as he is really close. And so they start asking silly questions to get him there. Ian mentions melting over the guy from Lacrimosa. Fangler makes a little rhyme about wanting steak and being stuck with a day old bagel. Later he claims to keep it in his shoe, and after eating it complains that his stomach didn't like it. Josiah explains that that is because he ate the shoe and still has the bagel around his big toe. After that there is a discussion about how bagels should be eaten. After fangler leaves some more ladies come in and they enjoy an all female Mint conversation, as all the gentlemen have left. The ladies throw a party, and slowly the men come back again. Josiah reports that though his parents live in the city, his mother insists on having chickens. The results of having them there is discussed for a while, with all the culinary benefits. As talking about dead chickens seemed to kill the Mint, they agree to not discuss them anymore. And then josiah reaches 2k. Shortly after that Tad posts a new episode and it becomes a bit quieter again. Finally the Europeans close the room again.
There you have it, the discussions in a random Mint room. And that concludes the history of the Quiller's Mint and all that other stuff. I hope you enjoyed it all, and make sure to let me know if you find anything that is missing or something that I got wrong. History might be written by the survivors, but I do like to get my facts right. This history is silly enough as it is, without me inventing all kinds of new stuff.