Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 8

Vic spread his hands. "Kobo, we are Adventurers, that part is true. But we are not normal Adventurers. What we write is considered fiction, since we are not bound by normal timelines. Our Adventures encompass many places and many times. In essence, we are fiction." Vic pointed at BA. "In his case, fiction and legend."

Kobo frowned. "I am not understanding this."

Vic shook his head. "At this point, I can't really explain further. Suffice to say, the secret of your existence would remain in the realm of fiction. When we write of our Adventures, people see fiction, just as when they read Haggard."

Kobo shrugged. "I have your word that you will write fiction. Yet we do not know if your word is enough, and you admit you came seeking treasure, which is a less than noble reason."

In the blink of an eye BA had his right hand tightly around Kobo's throat, holding him firmly against the wall by the doorway, though he had to stretch to do so. Kobo gripped BA's hand with both of his and tried to pry BA's fingers from his throat. Kobo's eyes widened in shock and surprise.

"Listen, Kobo. I'm generally a peaceful fellow, and I'm fairly patient, but if we tell you that nobody will listen to us and that we will keep your secret in the realm of fiction, that should suffice. Don't insult us more than you have."

"BA…" Vic's voice was a whisper.

A heartbeat later BA was back in the middle of the room, sitting as if nothing happened. Kobo rubbed his throat and stared.

"I will think on this." The smile was entirely gone and Kobo's eyes narrowed. He disappeared through the door, which closed behind him.

"I think he was surprised," said Vic, sitting next to his brother. BA grunted.

"I'm tired of this, Vic. It's time we left. Maybe I should have just snapped his neck." He sighed. "The next time that door opens, I'm making a path and we're leaving."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Quit Elvenar

I'm a gamer. That used to be something you never said out loud. Gamers were pariahs. A lot has changed in forty years.

Now Gamers are cool.

Are you playing the game or is the game playing you?

A lot of games have perfected the art of sucking you into a free game - then you pay.

To avoid waiting. They hooked us on that one.

To have bigger, better armies. Yup.

To have equipment that others don't. Ouch.

To have special mounts. (Thanks, WoW. Loved you.)

It's psychology, and the game-makers mastered it.

I quit playing Elvenar. The makers of the game hit me in my weak spot. They know I don't like waiting, so a few crystals here, a few crystals there and I'm moving again in the game.

Crystals cost real money. Pretty soon it adds up.

The game is free. Playing it isn't, unless you can resist.

Resistance is futile.

The Plarium games are worse. They know I don't like waiting, and I can pay to skip that (and have). They also know I don't like getting beat up by someone else. For a few bucks I can retaliate. I can show those bullies that I'm tougher than they are.

There's always someone tougher, maybe with a few more dollars invested. I could outspend them.

Now the game is playing me.

That's not what gaming is about.


Life is like that.

We get involved in doing things that cost nothing to join.

They can cost everything to continue.

That porn on the computer. You can access it for free.

And lose yourself. Lose your family.

That little bottle of beer? How about the next one?

What's the real price? That's the question. What are you really paying? 

Do you wonder how you ended up where you are? It's a slippery slope, that downhill slide.

Life can play you. A little lie. Just bend your moral code. It's not broken.



Sex is okay if it isn't lustful.

I don't mean to be angry. It's just the way I am.

Bad language is just words.

Are you playing the game or is the game playing you?

Sometimes you just have to quite playing and look at the bigger picture.

Get a different perspective.

Is this who your mother wanted you to be?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Sagemont Church planted 38,000 flags in remembrance of all the fallen soldiers from Texas.

I helped put a few flags out. It was my honor to do so.

Memorial Day is not a holiday celebrated by those in uniform, as Colonel Allen Orr reminded us during church service yesterday.

It is a day to remember with gratitude the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to us, their fellow countrymen.

It is a day to honor those among us who still strive to provide the peace our country needs: those in the military, those in the civil uniforms of police and fire, and those who teach the next generation of United States citizens.

For me it is a day to thank most members of my family.
My Great Uncle Jerry, who also served in WWII (and met his bride in England).
My Great Uncle Dwight, who served with him.
My Great Uncle Floyd.
Grandpa Comfort, who was in the Air Force in WWII.
Grandpa Mac and Grandma Jen, who both served in WWII.
Mom, in the Navy when I was born.
Dad, a Navy Corpsman my entire growing life, retiring in 1972. He was in Viet Nam in 1968, the year the Tigers won the pennant.
My brother Barry who served in the Navy, then in the other branches in the Reserves. Also, he served for over twenty years as a teacher for the young minds that will someday (soon) rule this nation.
My brother David, an Air Force officer, both here and abroad.
My baby brother Tim who also served in the Air Force. God rest his soul.
Three of my wife's brothers who served during the Viet Nam conflict, and in country as well. They all came back.
If I forgot anyone, it isn't intentional.

God bless you all.
God bless America.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals

My Uncle Told Me bad company corrupts good morals.

I didn't believe it when I was young. Other people weren't going to change me.

Yeah, they can, and yes, they did.

I got through college and hardly ever swore. I rarely said "D***" and never used the F word. Ever.

That was something else he told me. Cursing is for the lazy and weak-minded who don't know how to express themselves.

After a few years working in the chemical plant alongside some very rough characters, I changed.

One day I was in an office in the main building and vehemently gave my opinion about some software we used.

I was called in to Personnel, where they told me someone complained about my language. They reprimanded me for it. Rightly so, and shame overwhelmed me.

I thought how disappointed my Mother would be.

I thought how right my Uncle was.

Learning NOT to swear was hard.

Once you learn to do something bad, it is really hard to get back to the straight and narrow. The old story about the nails in the board comes to mind.

You know what else? It's biblical. Joshua is about to die and gives the Israelites the same warning about bad company and the punishments. (They ignore him, eventually.)

A shorter version is 1 Corinthians 15:33 - "Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character."

My Uncle was a smart guy.

I had a favorite Uncle, which seems odd since neither my father or mother had brothers.
He was really my Mother's Uncle - and he told me a lot of good things.
Even if he didn't, I'll attribute the good to him, since that was the kind of man he was. More on him later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 7

BA glared at Vic as they were pushed into a square stone hut at the base of the cliff, the thick wooden door closed tightly behind them. Frenzied dust motes danced in the slanted light from the barred windows. "Well," muttered BA, "this is a load of crap."

It took little time to study the room, which was only ten or twelve feet on each side. A raised stone circle sat in the floor in the middle of the room, square holes spaced evenly at two feet from the center. A small stone stopper at the end of a pipe fed cold, clean water into a narrow trough beneath the window. Another stopper allowed the water to flow into an open drain in the floor near the corner, too small for anything except insects and rodents to use. The room smelled faintly of old sweat and hot stones, though the interior was chilly. The walls echoed slightly when they spoke.

"Indoor plumbing with a sink and toilet, probably fed from the glacier above the city, if Haggard was accurate." Vic was seated on the floor in his underwear, diligently cleaning the stain from his cargo pants with the plant extract. "You know, this stuff works really well."

BA sat in the center of the room on the round platform, staring at the door. "Glad you're pleased, brother, because I'm not. The first guy who pokes his head through that door is going to lose it, and we're out of here." BA's jaw muscles were clenched.

Vic stopped cleaning his pants and looked at BA. "Too many in the city, even for you, BA. We'll think of something else." He scrutinized his pant leg. "There." Vic rinsed the pant leg in the running water and examined it in the fading light. "BA, I think that plant extract worked perfectly." He held the small flask and shook it. "And it only took a few drops."

BA still stared at the door. "Toss it here so I can take a look," he growled. Vic gave the vial an underhanded toss toward BA, who deftly snatched it from the air without moving his eyes from the door. Vic finished putting his pants on while BA smelled the liquid. "Not much of a smell, either." The vial disappeared into a leg pocket of BA's pants.

The door opened and Kobo stood there, unarmed. "Gentlemen!" His deep voice boomed. "We will send food, and furs to sleep on. We were not expecting company." He leaned against the doorway casually. "Of course, we never expect company here. We are isolated, as we prefer it."

Vic moved a step closer to Kobo. "So the issue is isolation, I take it?" He surreptitiously tried to wave BA into a calmer state. BA simply ground his teeth and didn't move.

Kobo's grin widened. "Precisely. We like our lifestyle. We would not have others speak of our city."

"We understand that."

"And yet you are Adventurers, so no doubt feel you must tell others of this place." Kobo's grin was not as broad.

"As you pointed out earlier, Haggard already advertised your existence, so anything we say would add little to the original narrative."

Kobo pondered Vic's statement. "Ah, but Haggard is considered fiction. You two most certainly are not."

BA glanced at Vic and shrugged. "Go ahead," he said. "It doesn't matter at this point. I'll either kill them all or they let us go."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Friday, May 19, 2017

What I Ought, I Don't

It's an age-old struggle. You make a promise to yourself to do better, to do more ... maybe just to do - and you don't.

I've heard people I admire say "I must not be a very good Christian." I guess they think Christians are immune to failure, like Jesus is some shot you get that protects you from doing wrong.

Let's get some perspective on that, shall we?

Can we all agree that the apostle Paul, admittedly a late-comer to the apostle group, was a pretty good Christian?

He was quite likely a pretty good fellow, too. Well-educated, well-traveled, a great speaker - I imagine he had a story for almost any occasion, and was probably pretty great to listen to. There was this one time he spoke for so long that a young fellow hanging out in a window fell asleep, dropped three stories and died. It's okay. Paul raised him back to life (Acts 20:9-10).

So let's agree that Paul had it all together. I can't raise people from sleep who listen to me and Paul raised one from the dead!

Wait a second! When writing to the Romans, Paul says "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Rom 7:15 NIV)

Why does this happen? Here's my thoughts on that.

Natural Inclination
It is instinct to do certain things and avoid certain things. We want to have fun. We don't want to work hard (suffer). We like sweets. We don't like salad (maybe that's just me).A dog loves to chase squirrels. Walk a dog down the street, he sees a squirrel and wham! It's off to the races.Maybe you have a well-trained dog. You're walking down the street, he sees the squirrel and you feel a bit of a tug, but he doesn't bolt. He wants to. He almost does. But he catches himself.Maybe you have a dog that is trained to lead the blind. That dog won't bolt. He won't even tug on the leash. But his eyes follow that squirrel just a little bit.You know he wants to run.Yeah, we're dogs.

Sometimes it's less instinct and more habit.You have done it for so long and so often that it becomes natural to do it again.I chew ice. I shouldn't. My teeth can't take the abuse any more and are starting to crack.I still chew ice.Or that one cookie that just calls out to you - along with all its companions. One becomes many.You're bored. You turn on the television instead of reading something worthwhile. You eat some candy instead of get a glass of water.Yeah, those hit some nerves. You get the idea.

You just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.Over and over again.Your buddies are having a drink or two, so you indulge.I just happened to wander down the cookie aisle at the grocery store (again) and cookies jumped in the cart.Or I go grocery shopping when I'm hungry.Or hang around the wrong people when I'm lonely.Or find the wrong pages on the internet.
Combine more than one of those and you're just asking to fail.

And you wonder why?

You can change the environment. Don't hang out in the wrong places, with the wrong people, down the wrong grocery aisle.

You can change bad habits to good - but that's hard work and whoops - that's one of those things we don't do when we know we should, so it's part of our natural inclination.

Oh, there are solutions. I have a few thoughts on those, too, but they aren't comprehensive. 

Vigilance helps - spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.

Forgiveness helps - when you fail, remember that Paul himself failed also, and I doubt many of  us are better than Paul.

Does it mean you aren't a Christian? Does it mean that somehow when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He didn't hear you and passed you by?

By no means! That is one of the BIG lies Satan will toss at you when you fail, so don't buy into that one.

I don't have a lot of other thoughts on this, but this guy does. It's a long sermon, but worth every sentence.

Here's where he ends up. After Romans 7 comes Romans 8.

After our failures comes Jesus and His forgiveness, mercy and strength.

And if you don't know the Jesus I'm talking about, here's His plan of salvation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Who do men say that I am

"Who do men say that I am?"

Jesus asked this question of his disciples, yet it echoes down to us through the centuries. The question remains relevant to this day.

If you ask most people that are not Christian, they will tell you they think Jesus was a good man, a great teacher - perhaps even a prophet.

Would a good man concoct a lie which ensnared generations of people? Only a devious man would do such a thing.

Would a great teacher tell his followers, and the Jewish people, that He now fulfilled the law and was God incarnate? Only a lunatic would do so.

So, Liar or Lunatic - those are your only options, but certainly not that He was a good man and a great teacher.

There is a third option.

Jesus is exactly who He said He was, the bodily personification of God.

Accept the third option and you're faced with two choices - accept Him as God or not.

Peter answered the question of Jesus with "You are the Christ, the son of the Living God."

I'm studying Josh Mcdowell's book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. I'll be writing some posts based on the book over the next few weeks.

Safari in the Mist - Part 6

A group of children tried to rush past the guards and failed. One of the children threw a handful of black, sticky material through the air, barely missing one of the guards. Vic wasn't so fast.

A black splotch of sticky residue hit him directly in the thigh, dripping down the length of his leg.

Vic stopped. The guard behind him ran into him and stepped back, leveling his spear. "NO!" shouted Vic. He searched through the pockets of his pants, pulling one small package after another out, finally stopping when he pulled out a blue bandanna. "AND it smells like crap!" He knelt down and scrubbed furiously at the spot. The stain spread.

"So, dirt RESISTANT, but not crap resistant, is that what I'm seeing?" BA tried hard to keep from laughing. The guards and most of the people of the city simply stared as Vic poured water on the stain, trying futilely to scrub it off with the cloth.

"I formulated that stain repelling chemical myself, BA, so don't give me grief. I was SURE I had it."

"Ah, finally. A matter of pride. I understand now." BA patted Vic on the shoulder. "It just doesn't seem to work in the wilds, brother."

A tiny shriveled old woman with short, wiry white hair walked up to Kobo, speaking quickly and gesturing. She handed him a small clay vial and crossed her arms, tapping her foot.

Kobo laughed, deep and reverberating, the guards joining him and most of the people nearby smiled. "My esteemed Mother says that she is also greatly disturbed that your garment is soiled. She dislikes dirt as greatly as Vic von Crapp." He handed the small vial to Vic and pulled him to his feet. "My esteemed Mother says you should wash the stain with this juice. Do not drink it, unless you wish to soil your garments even more!" He laughed again.

Vic slipped the liquid into the pocket at his thigh. "Thanks. I really appreciate this." He smiled at BA. "See? Why would they want to help me keep our clothes clean if they were going to hurt us?"

BA growled back quietly. "So they don't have to clean your clothes after you're dead? I'm just guessing."

Vic shrugged. "You are in a pessimistic frame of mind, BA."

"Surrounded by ten foot tall warriors, on a march to be fattened up for sacrifice. No, Vic, it's just a picnic."

Vic looked up at one of the warriors. "They aren't ten feet tall, BA. At most they are…" BA punched Vic in the shoulder and he shut up.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Christ alone - and only

The message in church on Sunday was clear - you get into heaven by Christ alone, by the price he already paid. You just need to accept the gift.

This is the key difference between Christianity and other religions.

You don't need to give all your money away.

You don't need to follow a set of rules written in other books.

You don't need to kill infidels or martyr yourself (which seems a contradiction to me anyway).

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is all you need. Your ticket is punched. Your seat is reserved.

You just need to get on the train.

There. That summed it up.

Funny, though. The preacher took over twenty minutes to give that same message.

It's like I said during our Ecuador mission trip when they asked me to speak.

Tengo solamente cinco minutos hablar. Pero en el Bautista Iglesia, cinco minutos son todos los tiempos!

Yeah, I don't know if the Spanish was correct, but it got a laugh.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 5

As the small group passed through the twenty-foot high gates of the city, they were surrounded by local villagers. They all shouted at Kobo in a language that Vic and BA were not familiar with. Kobo was answering questions, occasionally laughing.

He smiled his wide, white-toothed smile at the two brothers. "They want to know where you're from. I told them the US of A and that you are the famous von Crapp Brothers, Adventurers."

"And what else are they saying?" asked Vic, looking at the crowd.

"They want to know if you are staying for dinner!" Kobo laughed and translated for the crowd, so everyone was laughing.

"I can take the guards and we can escape down the next alley to the left," muttered BA.

"Let's give it a bit more time." Vic studied the natives as they passed among them. Tall, fierce people with beautiful skin and strong figures predominated. None were fat, though occasionally he saw an older person, shriveled with age, sitting on an upper veranda watching the small parade.

BA rolled his shoulders. "Right. Well, as long as we have some sort of plan, I'm good."

"Waiting is a plan," whispered Vic.

"Up to a point," BA growled back, looking at the guards.

The narrow streets were lined with small stone huts, sometimes sharing a wall, and sometimes separated by a thin line of red dirt and dark stone. Plants grew in tiny tended lots of dirt or in clay pots. Each hut was thatched with long grasses or tiled with thin slabs of grey stone; heat waves shimmered from the latter, though the air was noticeably cool. Occasionally during the walk through the town small children would dart past the warriors and touch the two men on their bare arms. At first Vic and BA pulled back, but eventually they just smiled at the children.

"It's the hair," Kobo said after the first dozen children.

"What about hair?" BA asked, looking up at the tall man.

"The hair on your arms. They say you are monkeys."

"We're not monkeys. We're gorillas." BA smiled widely, carefully noting all the alleyways. Kobo translated and everyone erupted in laughter.

"I thought you had other visitors to this place." Vic looked around. "Though I can't say this is the best welcome we've ever had."

"Though it isn't the worst," muttered BA.

Kobo grinned widely. "Oh, we have many visitors, but very few muzungus - white people. Most are people like us, yet seeking treasures written by Haggard." The last word still sounded like a curse. "And, of course, that is why you are here also."

"Well, partly." BA looked at Vic for help, but Vic seemed lost in thought. "Okay, mostly," he growled, his voice low, "though my brother and I make our living as Adventurers, so we often seek out the truth of the novels written by famous men. Haggard is one of those. Jules Verne is one we like well enough. We're thinking about Burroughs quite seriously, but haven't a clue how best to proceed on those except for the Tarzan novels."

Kobo continued grinning. "Ah, Verne we know, and Burroughs also. The Tarzan baffles us. We think he…" Kobo frowned. "What is the word? Ah! Invented Tarzan, though we hear stories from south… It is no matter. We cannot have travelers wander in our city, spoiling our way of life. It would bring badness down upon us."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

No Potato Salad in Heaven

There is no potato salad in Heaven, at least according to Dr Charles Lowery, a guest speaker at our church Sunday.

FYI, he's an entertaining speaker, so you might want to check out his web site or YouTube channel. He emphasizes relationships.

All I know about relationships is they are hard to forge and harder to maintain.

My ears perked up when he said there was no potato salad in Heaven.

I like potato salad, probably too much.

In the Baptist church, as in most religions, when someone dies there is a gathering of people to mourn, quite often at a church, as was the case for my youngest brother a few years ago. One of the staples at such gatherings is potato salad.

It's a comfort food, I guess. I know I feel better when I eat potato salad.

So, since there are no tears in Heaven, and we will never see death again, there is no potato salad in Heaven.

No pain, no sorrow, no death. We exit this life into a better eternity. 

Without potato salad?

I think Dr. Lowery is a great speaker, but he might be wrong on this one.

Potato salad is also a standard dish at family reunions, where we gather with those we love and see rarely.

When I get to Heaven, not only will I see my Lord - I'll also see my Mom, my Dad, my Grandparents and my baby brother Tim.

What a glorious reunion that will be. I hope you'll be there too.

We can all have potato salad to celebrate!

A little more:

This is what Christians believe, based on our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. 

Everyone feels it, that empty hole in our hearts that we try to fill with alcohol, sex, work, play or potato salad. But it is a God-shaped hole that can only be filled with God.

Jesus is not a myth, nor is He simply an historical figure (referenced in texts other than the Bible). Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and He came to pay the price for the sins of mankind.

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life. 1 John 5:11-12 (NET)
We have all done bad things, things that hurt others or ourselves. These actions separate us from God. The only way to bridge that separation is to realize our sin, believe that Jesus saved us by His death and resurrection, and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

It isn't just "fire insurance" - avoiding hell by accepting Jesus. It's the chance to fill that longing in our hearts here on earth, and gain an eternal place in Heaven.

Safari in the Mist - Part 4

An imposing structure loomed out of the wall in the side of the cliff face, a series of cliff-side apartments indicating a large city. As the two brothers approached, a half-dozen native warriors came out of the gate. Each stood seven feet tall, and all wore robes of skin fashioned to cover them from their left shoulder to below their knees. Dark-skinned and dark-eyed, the soldiers had grim expressions. Each carried an eight foot spear, all made with shafts of dark wood and bright metal points. Each native also had a long knife strapped to his waist.

The brothers stopped and waited as the natives drew closer.

"Well," said BA, "this is your department. You're the linguist." BA looked at the approaching group. "I suppose I could kill them."

"I suppose you could," replied Vic, pulling notebooks out of his vest pockets.

"A gun might help," said BA.

Vic stopped and stared briefly at BA, who was cleaning his fingernails with a twig. "You don't like guns."

"They can save lives in situations like this."

"I thought you said you could take them out." Vic put one small notebook back and pulled another out as the natives approached.

"It might save their lives. They might be intimidated enough to leave us alone, then I wouldn't need to kill them all."

"They have spears and knives."

"It's always nice when they bring their own toys." The natives stopped a few feet from the two men, the shining points of the spears pointing toward the bright sun above them.

"Let's try diplomacy first. They might be friendly." Vic looked at the pages of a small notebook he pulled from another of his vest pockets. "Right. I have a little Kenyan here and a bit of something else, but I don't recall what language it is." Vic tried a few phrases of what he thought was a local greeting.

The largest native stood looking at the two brothers, a frown on his face.

"I could impress him, probably, with some modern magic," muttered Vic reaching into his vest. From an inner pocket on the left side he pulled a small, battery-operated radio and turned it on. After twisting the dial a station came in, static in the background.

The frown on the leader deepened.

"I don't think he's impressed, Vic," said BA, shifting his feet slightly.

Vic held the radio up, facing the leader. "Big magic!" he announced. The leader shifted his spear to his other hand and shook his head. Vic glared at him. "It might help if I knew what language you gentlemen spoke."

The leader looked down on the two brothers, his face split wide with a smile showing bright white teeth. "Well," he said, in a voice that trembled in the low octaves, "we could do English, I suppose."

Vic, startled, looked up at the man. "Nice accent. English or Australian?"

The smile widened and the big man chuckled. "English. BBC. We love Graham Norton."

"We're more CNN ourselves." BA held out his right hand to shake. "BA. Spelled like it sounds." The big native shook his hand solemnly, left hand still holding the eight-foot spear.

Vic shook hands with the giant also. "Vic von Crapp. We're the von Crapp Brothers, Adventurers. Perhaps you've heard of us?"

"Hmmm. I am not thinking so, but we don't get out much. I am Kobo."

The brothers exchanged a look. "Right," said BA. "We didn't really expect the village or locals, though I suppose we should have, since the rest of the book was correct."

The tall leader frowned. "Haggard." It came out as a curse. "That man causes us no end of grief." Then he grinned. "But we did get radios from other visitors, so we can listen to Graham Norton." He reached his big hand for the radio Vic held. "Double A or nine volt?"

Vic handed the radio over. "Nine volt. The range is somewhat limited."

"We have an antenna that will make it work longer range and a solar charger for the nine volt." He handed the radio to one of the men behind him. "You won't get that back, by the way." He motioned to their backpacks. "Gentlemen, if we may? We'd like to review your possessions."

Two of the guards came forward and rummaged through the backpacks. One pulled a National Geographic magazine from Vic's and held it up, grinning. The other smiled at the package of beef jerky and licorice twists he pulled from BA's pack.

They returned the packs, lightened slightly by their prizes.

Vic smiled. "How accurate was the book, by the way? The People of the Mist?"

"Oh, spot on," replied the giant, still grinning, but he signaled the others to circle the two.

BA casually watched as the five other giant men took up places around him and his brother. "Then the bit about sacrificing?" BA scratched his chin.

"Our favorite part," grinned Kobo as he motioned them toward the cliff-side city.