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Hello again, everyone. I thought I'd share the covers for some of the books I've published this year. These aren't the covers of all of my books; just the ones I like best. You can also click on each cover to check out each book's page on my website, where you can learn more about whichever book captures your interest. Let's start with the cover for my fantasy novel, The Mage's Grave, first book in my Mages of Martir fantasy series, available in ebook and trade paperback wherever books are sold: Next is the sequel, The Mage's Limits, which is also available in ebook and trade paperback wherever books are sold: Then we move on to the third book, The Mage's Sea, which is also available wherever books are sold: And to finish off the Mages of Martir series, here is the cover for the fourth and final book, The Mage's Ghost, which is ... well, you know the drill: Next we move onto the covers for my newest (and still ongoing as of this writing) science-fantasy series, Two Worlds. Here's the cover for the first book, Reunification: And last, but certainly not least, the cover for my newest novel and the second book in the Two Worlds series, Alliance: All of the above covers are by the brilliant and talented Elaina Lee of For the Muse Designs. I'd also like to note that the free ebook raffle I mentioned in the last post is still going until Tuesday, September 8th. So if you'd like to enter for a chance to win a free ebook copy of Reunification in the ebook format of your choice, just comment on this post or the last one saying so and I will add your name to the drawing, which will be done completely at random.
I'm sure no one here remembers anymore, but there used to be a time when the BZPower Comedies subforum was flooded with "[insert franchise here] Meets BIONICLE" comedies. Back in 2005, my fellow BZPower author Primis wrote a comedy titled The Rock Raiders Meet BIONICLE, and it was hugely successful and stood out from its contemporaries, going on to last three seasons. I had the honor of being one of the co-writers, along with Mobius, starting with Chapter 38 in Season 2. However, as we matured as writers, Primis and I agreed in 2008 that the original story was far from perfect and could use a rewrite, which was eventually titled Two Worlds. Ready for the day that I would be called in to rewrite my own chapters, I wrote up a quick rewrite of Chapter 38. Years passed, and due to schedule slip, Two Worlds was never finished, and Primis recently told me in a private message that it is very unlikely that he will ever continue writing it. I was going through my documents and stumbled upon my treatment of Chapter 38, and since I hate leaving stuff unpublished, decided that it needed to see the light of day, even if Chapter 37 would never be written, even if the original stories were lost forever with the attack on the forum archive. However, Chapter 38 was rewritten in 2008 and left largely untouched since then. And now, five years later, I read what I wrote and thought it was terrible. So, rather than posting this right away, I decided to rewrite my rewrite first. I couldn't bring myself to rewrite the whole chapter from scratch, so I largely just touched it up, and so the chapter is still not quite meeting my current standards of writing perfection, but it's considerably closer than it was before. This chapter barely focuses on the BIONICLE characters, with only two Matoran appearing, only one of which is canon. Instead, it largely focuses on the Rock Raiders, but since both Rock Raiders and BIONICLE are LEGO themes, this should feel right at home here in the BZPower Library. The original Chapter 38 was written before Chapter 37 was published, and thus was written so that it could work as its own standalone chapter, since I did not know ahead of time what events would be leading up to the chapter. The same holds true for this rewrite. As such, you don't need to know the rest of the story to follow this chapter, and the three non-canon characters (Sam, a Rock Raiders driver; Fox, a Rock Raiders demolition expert; and Gurak, a Ta-Matoran) are described in detail here. All you need to know is that the Rock Raiders are on the island of Mata Nui, and hilarity ensues. The original story belongs to Primis and this chapter is posted with his permission. Fox belongs to Mobius and Gurak belongs to Darth Jaller. Two Worlds Chapter 38, Lost and Found and Lost Again ----- Within ten minutes, all of the Rock Raiders, minus the unimportant redshirts like Roger that nobody cares about, were gathered in the center of the Rock Raiders HQ in Onu-Wahi with the false promises of a free all-you-can-eat sandwichfest at the Support Station. Instead of deli, they were greeted by the sight of Sparks pacing back-and-forth with a very worried look on his face. "So we were deceived with the false promises of sandwiches?" Jet whispered in disappointment. "No... it can't be... not the sandwich, so moist and delicious..." Chief sighed and shook his head, muttering, "Not again. I know that look on Sparks's face. It's the look Sparks makes when he loses something again." "I didn't just 'lose something again'! I lost something important!" shouted Sparks. The engineer's sudden outburst startled everyone except Axle, who had dozed off, but then Axle was suddenly woken up by an entire box of popcorn spilling on his head. As it turned out, Gurak, despite being a Ta-Matoran and not a Rock Raider, was also present at Rock Raiders HQ. Hoping to take advantage of the fact that the Rock Raiders were busy in a meeting, Gurak sneaked into the Support Station with the intent of stealing some popcorn and smuggling it back to his hut in Ta-Koro, despite the obvious flaw in his plan that required sneaking into Rock Raiders HQ while most of the Rock Raiders were present. He remained unnoticed, however, due to the Rock Raiders' limited ability to pay attention, and Chief being distracted so he couldn't shout "A TA-MATORAN IS INVADING YOUR BASE!" over and over. After stealing the popcorn, Gurak tried to sneak out quietly, but Sparks's sudden shouting startled him, leading to him accidentally spilling the popcorn all over Axle. Growling, Axle brushed off the popcorn and then proceeded to tackle Gurak to the ground. While the two of them exchanged some good old-fashioned fisticuffs, everyone else completely ignored them. "Why now?" groaned Chief. "Why must you always have to lose things when we're in a crisis?" "Why must you always have to lose things even when we're not in a crisis?" Bandit added under his breath. Gurak punched Axle, sending the Rock Raider flying into Takua, who had also sneaked into Rock Raiders HQ, hoping to chronicle something about the Rock Raiders' activity since the press continued to want more chronicles for the Wall of History despite everything being downright dull recently. Enraged, Takua started whacking Axle with his Chronicler's Staff. Axle stood up, angry, and punched Takua right in the mask. "Axle!" gasped Chief, aghast. "Why did you just punch Takua?" "He attacked me first!" snapped Axle, pointing an accusing finger at Gurak. Before the Ta-Matoran could reply, Takua declared, "It doesn't matter! I'm the Chronicler, and thus it's my duty to be here to chronicle everything, and you are interfering with Matoran traditions passed down for thousands of years... even though there wasn't a single chronicler on this island until about a year ago." "Your duty?" Axle muttered. "Yeah, I think I've had plenty of your duty! You paparazzi always reek of duty!" Chief raised an eyebrow. "Axle, I've had enough of this! Off to the LMS Explorer Detention Block, where you can think about what you've done wrong! When you're ready to apologize for what you've done, you can leave." "Not again!" groaned Axle, walking away and muttering curses to Gurak and Takua. "This is the tenth time in two days!" Sam noticed this. "Hmm, Axle hates the Detention Block?" he asked Chief, making a mental note of this experience in case he ever got the ability to magically teleport Axle into the Detention Block for no other reason than to torment him for fun. "Yes, he has claustrophobia," explained Chief. Having a sudden bout of Fridge Logic, Jet inquired: "Then how does he drive Rock Raider vehicles? Things get very cramped in those tiny cockpits." Chief started to reply, then stopped to think about this. After about an hour of standing there, lost in thought, he finally admitted, "Actually, we really don't know." "In my opinion," suggested Docs, who had patiently waited the whole hour of silence to speak up, "I believe that it's only a recent thing he developed after a... traumatic experience in a crowded elevator. First, you see, it was just Axle in the elevator, then a large axe-wielding warrior in red-silver armor entered the elevator, then after an argument between Axle and this warrior concerning the warrior's identity... you see, for some reason Axle thought the warrior was Santa Claus... well, Santa Claus himself entered the elevator. Never stand in the same elevator as that jolly fat man!" "So," Jet raised an eyebrow, "the truth behind Axle's claustrophobia is santaclaustrophobia?" At that moment, Sam groaned and doubled over in pain. "What's wrong with him?" inquired Jet. "Looks like he's suffering," murmured Docs as he put on his medical glasses, "from the pain of the pun." "YEAH!" screamed Bandit. Everyone stared at him, surprised by his sudden outburst. Glancing around at all the eyes on him, the helmsman did not say another word. "Um, hello?" Sparks asked. "Me and my missing item?" "Oh, sorry!" Chief exclaimed. "We completely forgot about you! How embarrassing... just imagine if that happened during a mining expedition and we left you stranded on an alien planet!" "It wouldn't be the first time that's happened," Bandit muttered under his breath. "I'll need volunteers to search for Sparks's item," announced Chief. "Why don't you just do it yourself?" retorted Jet. "Because I'm your boss and you're my employees," declared Chief. "That would imply we're being paid," grumbled Bandit. "Now," instructed Chief, "everyone stand in a line." This menial task took about ten minutes to complete. It started with some of the Rock Raiders complaining that they needed to eat sandwiches before doing any work, because they refuse to work on a three-quarters-full stomach. From there, it escalated to the point where Chief had to point his plasma arm cannon at them and verbally threaten them with landslides unless they complied. Once the line was finally in place, Chief turned around and closed his eyes. "Volunteers for this mission will step one pace forward." In response, everyone immediately stepped one pace backward... except for Fox, Gurak, and Sam. Why? No one knows. Perhaps they were oblivious. Perhaps they were stupid. Perhaps a Fikou spider running up the side of the Power Station distracted them due to their AD-ooh, look, it's a BZPower post with text in it! Chief turned around to see these two Rock Raiders and one Matoran standing one pace ahead of everyone else. "Ah," he smiled. "That's what I like to see. Devotion to duty!" "And exactly what does that mean?" asked Fox. "I don't know," shrugged Chief. "It just sounds cool and professional." "So, Sparks, where is this item of yours?" Gurak inquired. "You know that tunnel where Axle found that Bohrok?" explained Sparks. "Well, keep following that tunnel, and you'll find a fork in the tunnel. Take a left, then keep going until you see a fork in the tunnel; this time, look for a slice of cake I dropped, that should be a marker of which tunnel to take. Then take a right, then take a right, then take a right, and hopefully you should be back where you started. Then take a left, then take a right, then take another right, then a left, then walk around a pillar fourteen times, then take a left, and you should find a blocked-up tunnel. That's where my item is." "If you know where it is," Gurak asked, "then wouldn't it not be considered 'lost'?" Simultaneously, Sam asked, "May I bring Blacky with me?" Completely ignoring Gurak's question, Sparks nodded. "Yes, you may bring Blacky with you." "Blacky!" called Sam. "Blacky! Over here!" A Slimy Slug poked its head out from a hole in the floor that nobody noticed before. But this Slimy Slug was different from most others because, instead of green, its skin was pitch-black, serving as the source of Sam's so-called "creative ingenuity" when he bestowed such an original name upon the creature. A few weeks prior, Sam had encountered it thanks to a plot hole that opened up on Planet U, sucked it in, and spat back out on Aqua Magna. Secretly having a soft spot for Slimy Slugs, Sam adopted it and 'tamed' it, but because Sam is a moron, he really did not tame it that well, which is why Fox's eyes widened in shock. "Do you have to bring that slimy, sluggish Slimy Slug with you?" muttered Fox. "Do you have to bring that blah, blah, blah Slimy Slug with you blah, blah, blah?" Sam repeated in a mocking tone. "Fox is right for once, Sam," frowned Chief. "That Slimy Slug of yours could spell trouble. What if it drains the power from one of our vehicles just as you're about to use said vehicle to drill through hard rock and retrieve Sparks's item?" "Don't worry," grinned Sam. "Slimy Slugs can't spell!" He then took a dog leash out of his pocket and held it up so everyone could see. "And, as long as I have this leash with me, Blacky is no problem at all!" "First," muttered Fox, "you need to put the leash on the slug." Sparks sighed, rubbing his forehead. "I guess I better go with you guys, too, if only to make sure you don't screw up." "Well, then," declared Fox, "let's GO!" The demolitions expert dramatically charged out of Rock Raiders HQ, and everyone stared at him as he left. "Should I be worried about his enthusiasm?" Gurak asked the Rock Raiders. "Yes, you should," sighed Sparks. "With Fox, enthusiasm equals imminent explosions." "Break time is over, everybody," announced Chief. "Back to work! And that means you four better catch up to Fox before he accidentally blows up that thing you guys are looking for." ----- After leaving headquarters, Sparks, Sam, Blacky, Fox, and Gurak got lost for several hours before they finally reached a fork in the tunnel and just assumed that it was the very fork that Sparks was talking about. "Okay, now what?" inquired Gurak. "We take the left tunnel," replied Sparks. Before anyone could move, he quickly said, "No, wait, we take the right tunnel, or... hold on... was it the left tunnel?" Burying his face in his palms, Sparks sat down on a rock and groaned. "Great! Just great! I forgot which tunnel we're supposed to take!" "How is that great?" wondered Sam, not understanding Sparks' sarcasm. "What do we do?" asked Gurak. As Fox began to reply, he quickly added, "Other than blowing stuff up, I mean." Fox groaned in disappointment. "I've got an idea," declared Sam. "This might take a while, though." He proceeded to sit down and stare at the two tunnel entrances in complete silence. No one interfered and instead patiently waited by spending the time by chatting, playing cards, or eating snacks. After five minutes, everyone's patience had run out. Sparks stormed up to Sam and snapped, "What have you been doing for the past five minutes?" "That trick that Gandalf did in Lord of the Rings," explained Sam. "Remember when they were lost in the mines of Moria and-" "You're not a wizard, Sam," groaned Sparks. "Oh, right," Sam grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, I forgot." "Okay," sighed Gurak, "any other brilliant ideas?" "We split up!" suggested Sparks. "Fox and Gurak, take the right tunnel. I'll take the left tunnel with Sam and Blacky." And so, the team split up, each going a different path. It was expected at this point in the chapter that there would be a lengthy essay provided by a famous historian regarding the split-up, the various motivations and reactions of those put into each group, and the entire length of their journeys, but instead that historian was tragically killed by a Knight of the Round Table, leading to a police investigation that would surely be far more interesting a read than the antics of the Rock Raiders plus one Matoran that this story is contractually obligated to focus on instead. ----- The Tale of Fox and Gurak No matter how long the explosives expert and the Ta-Matoran walked, they didn't find any forks in the road as Sparks had mentioned. Instead, they began to notice sinister architecture; carvings in the shapes of Rahi, Bohrok, and Rahkshi; a deathly cold descend upon them; and a giant neon sign reading: "WELCOME TO MAKUTA'S LAIR, THE POINT OF NO RETURN! HAVE A NICE DAY!" "We didn't take the right tunnel, did we?" Fox bit his lip. "Actually, we did," Gurak pointed out. "The correct tunnel, on the other hand... that's up for debate." "I'm quite glad that Sparks had to forget which path to take!" Fox groaned with heavy sarcasm in his voice. "Now, we'll be lost in this tunnel forever and ever and ever and ever and-" "Hush!" Gurak hissed. "Do you hear something?" Fox listened. "Yeah, I do," he whispered. "It sounds like a Chrome Crusher being driven by someone determined to crash it into everything in sight-" "No, not that!" Gurak shook his head. "The other something!" Fox listened again. He faintly heard voices farther down the tunnel. "Oh, that something," he murmured. "Wait... those voices... are they singing?" "Obviously! Hey, let's go check it out!" They ran farther down the tunnel, until, at last, they found five stone busts carved in the shape of Makuta's mask, the Kanohi Kraahkan. Oddly enough, the stone busts, which should be inanimate objects, were animate. Even odder, they were singing, loud and long, the following song: "When the fortress gate creaks and the scared Toa quake, Makuta come out for a swinging wake! Ghostly Krika materializes, Burning red are his eyes; The Brotherhood comes out to socialize! So close your eyes and try to hide, Or a Rahkshi may stab your side. Shrouded in a shadowy disguise, They don't just pretend to terrorize! The Brotherhood comes out to socialize! As the moon climbs high o'er the dead Vuata Maca tree, Many Makuta arrive for the midnight spree! Creepy creeps with eerie eyes Start to Power Scream and harmonize. The Brotherhood comes out to socialize!" They sang this over and over in an endless loop, not at all seeming to notice the Ta-Matoran and Rock Raider. Nearby them stood a silver Rahkshi of Chain Lightning, playing along with them on a guitar. The Rahkshi looked up, noticed Fox and Gurak, silently nodded in acknowledgement, then looked down and resumed playing. "Perhaps they know where the blocked tunnel is," Fox suggested. "You go ask!" Feeling uncomfortable, Gurak strode over to the singing Makuta busts and cleared his throat. "Excuse me," he inquired, "could you tell me where to find a blocked tunnel?" The Rahkshi stopped playing his guitar and stared at Fox and Gurak with interest. The Makuta busts stopped singing to listen to what Gurak had to say. When they didn't reply, Gurak decided to continue: "It has an item that belongs to Sparks, and if I don't find it, he'll be-" The Makuta Busts then interrupted, singing: " comin' round Mount Ihu when he comes! He'll be comin' round Mount Ihu when he comes! He'll be comin' round Mount Ihu, He'll be comin' round Mount Ihu, He'll be comin' round Mount Ihu when he comes!" Gurak glanced at Fox, as if questioning the sense of asking these singing Makuta busts. Fox shrugged in response, so Gurak sighed and turned back to face the stone heads. "Well, I'm trying to find Sparks' lost item, because if I don't, then he'll be mad, and-" Gurak tried to explain. Almost immediately, the Makuta Busts broke into song again: "But there's no use crying Over every lost item You just keep on trying Till you find where they hide 'em And the item gets found Very deep and underground For the Rock Raiders who are Still morons!" Fox rolled his eyes and began to wander. The Rahkshi put down his guitar and walked over to the Rock Raider, but Gurak, growing annoyed, did not notice and instead shouted at the busts: "Will you help me at all? Just tell me what I want! Sparks' item is in the cave, and where is the cave? Just give me a clue already!" The singing Makuta busts continued to sing, this time performing a horrible crime in the process: "Never gonna give you a clue Never gonna help you out You're gonna run away and desert us We're gonna make you cry We're gonna make you sigh You're gonna get really mad and hurt us!" Appalled that a Rick Roll was gratuitously thrown into a story which was written specifically to cut down on cheap pop-cultural references and infuriated that he was the target of said Rick Roll, Gurak balled his hands into fists. "Darn right, I will!" he snapped, marching towards the singing Makuta busts. "Over here!" shouted Fox. "Here it is!" Gurak glanced at the singing Makuta busts one last time, before walking off and muttering, "Yeah, thanks guys. Thanks for nothing!" He walked over to his partner before the busts could start singing again. They glanced at each other, seemed to shrug despite their physical lack of shoulders, and once again started singing the song about the Brotherhood of Makuta. "This guy here helped me out a bit," explained Fox, gesturing towards the silver Rahkshi. Silently, Rahkshi of Chain Lightning nodded, then swiftly departed. Gurak gasped. "Fox! I don't believe it! You actually admitted that someone helped you!" "Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever, just don't get used to it," muttered Fox, rolling his eyes. "Anyways, the blocked tunnel is over here." He pointed to a blocked tunnel no less than two feet away from where they stood. "Wow," murmured Gurak, staring at the complexity of the pattern of which the rocks had fallen. "We'll never be able to remove it by hand." "Great!" laughed Fox. "That means there's only one way to remove it..." "Oh dear," sighed Gurak, already expecting Fox's solution. Fox, prepared for explosions in any situation, pulled out a stick of dynamite and placed it in front of the rubble blocking the tunnel. "On the count of three..." he muttered. "One!" announced Gurak. Fox lit a match. "Two!" Fox drew his match closer to the fuse, eagerly waiting for the third number. He waited... and waited... and waited... "Gurak?" called Fox. He turned to look at the Ta-Matoran. To his surprise, Gurak was completely distracted, instead paying attention to a little Fikou spider creeping along the ground. "Gurak!" he snapped. "Oh, s-sorry!" Gurak stammered. "Very short attention span. THREE!" Fox lit the fuse, and the dynamite detonated. A huge explosion later, Gurak and Fox found themselves buried under a pile of rubble. Oh, great. Fox, you moron! thought Gurak. You didn't blow up the blockage... instead, you caused the ceiling to collapse, and now we're stuck! Now we'll be buried down here forever... and I'll never get to have that popcorn. ----- The Tale of Sam and Sparks "Yee-haw!" Riding the Chrome Crusher, Sam had a grand old time traveling down the left tunnel. Also inside the giant drilling vehicle were Sparks and Blacky, and needless to say the cockpit was very crowded. Sparks stared at Sam in undisguised terror. "What are you doing?" he screamed. "If you keep on crashing, we'll have no Chrome Crusher left to drive!" "But crashing is fun!" shrugged Sam, crashing the vehicle into a stalagmite. "Anyways, you're the mechanic dude, so you should be able to fix it! Where did we get this Chrome Crusher anyway? Is it Axle's? I bet it's Axle's. All the more reason to crash this vehicle into everything I see!" Sparks decided not to answer, deciding that it might not be wise to reveal that it was Sam's personal Chrome Crusher that he was crashing into everything in sight. That, and he didn't actually know where they got Sam's Chrome Crusher due to all the plot holes slowly eating away the space-time continuum. A minute and seventy crashes later, the Chrome Crusher drove over a large pile of rubble, most likely caused by the collapsing of a ceiling due to a poorly-placed stick of dynamite, and then stopped in front of a blocked tunnel. "This is it?" asked Sam. "This is it!" confirmed Sparks. Sam smiled: "Alright! Time to mine!" Sparks winced. "Look, I know we're stuck in the nineties and all, but... man, that was just... corny." Sam flicked a switch to turn on the drill, and inched the Chrome Crusher over towards the pile of rubble and rubbish. Just as the drill was about to touch the rock, the vehicle stopped running. All the computer monitors shut off and all lights inside and outside the Chrome Crusher went out, leaving them in total darkness. "EEP!" screamed Sam while Sparks shrieked like a little girl. After a long hour of high-pitched screaming, the two Rock Raiders finally calmed down and began to look for the cause of the sudden blackout. Sparks tried to turn on the lights on his mining helmet, but nothing happened. He took off his helmet, opened up a compartment, took out a couple batteries, threw them at Sam by accident, pulled two new batteries out of his pocket, and put them inside the helmet. At first, nothing happened, and it took Sparks ten minutes to realize that he put the batteries in backwards. Upon rectifying this error, the mining helmet's lights flared to life. Sparks put his helmet back on and looked around the cockpit of the Chrome Crusher. "We had a sudden power shortage!" he exclaimed, stating the obvious. "But what could have caused...?" Sparks trailed off as his gaze fell upon Blacky. The black Slimy Slug smiled innocently and wiggled its tail playfully. There was no dog leash around its neck. "Sam, you are an imbecile," Sparks muttered. "Well, this is boring," muttered Sam, resting his hand on the control panel of the Chrome Crusher. He accidentally pushed a button, and the laser of the Chrome Crusher popped off, flew in the air, and landed in front of the Chrome Crusher. Sam, disgusted at the laser for no apparent reason, climbed out of the Chrome Crusher, walked over to the laser, and kicked it. The laser exploded without warning, sending Sam, the Chrome Crusher, and large chunks of rubble flying in the air. Sam landed first, then the rubble landed on him, then the Chrome Crusher landed on the rubble. Very faintly, Sparks could hear Sam's muffled screaming. After Sparks got Sam out from under the Chrome Crusher and the rubble, they found that the previously blocked tunnel was no longer blocked. "Great!" Sparks shouted, running for the tunnel. When Sparks stepped on a pile of rubble, the rubble shifted and Fox popped out. Sparks yelped in surprise. "Oh! Hi, Sparks!" grinned Fox. "Fancy seeing you here!" As he stood, he wobbled a bit and was noticeably bruised and cut all over. "Wow, I feel like a landslide fell on me." "It did!" cried a muffled voice from beneath the rubble pile. "G-Gurak!" stammered Fox. "I forgot about you! Are you alright?" "I would be," grumbled Gurak, "if you weren't standing on me." Sam walked over and helped Fox unbury the Ta-Matoran. Sparks walked back, with a huge smile on his face and something small in his hands. "Hey, wait a second," frowned Sam. "What is that?" "My iPod!" grinned Sparks. Sam, Gurak, and Fox all traded glances before glaring daggers at Sparks. "So, let me just get this straight," growled Sam. "We spent the past several hours aimlessly wandering around, getting lost, burying ourselves in landslides that are occurring, suffering blackouts, nearly getting killed, eating sandwiches, and for what? An inconsequential mp3 player? And here, we thought it was something vital to our survival... you know, something important, like you said it was!" "Hey," shrugged Sparks, ignoring the death glares from his teammates. "I couldn't have lasted long without my tunes! Now... uh... how do we get back to Rock Raiders HQ from here again?" ----- Comments appreciated. Constructive criticism encouraged. Spam given to the vikings. Flaming given to the pyromaniacs.