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Deal 1236: Press conference

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I stand before you here today to state clearly for the record that I have been falsely accused. As you know, my enemies are many, and some of them are probably in this room. Their current attack takes the form of quiet whispers questioning my sanity, claiming that I am paranoid. All the while they refuse to stand up and face me in public.

These are not the actions of people with evidence.

I am indeed sane.

Furthermore, I shouldn’t have to point out that whisperers claiming I am paranoid, distributed through anonymous channels and leaked recordings of unproven provenance and veracity actually support the idea that a healthy dose of skepticism is a good idea.

I do not go about armed. I do frequently carry a butter knife. In my day to day activity, I frequently have a slice of toast. That requires butter, and a knife to spread it. I am not armed. I am prepared.

I do not wear body armor. I do frequently wear thick sweaters. In case you haven’t noticed the obvious, it is cold recently. Sweaters are good insulation. The one I am wearing today was a gift from my mother, crocheted from the last of the wool gathered from her flock. Would they deny me a memento of my dear old mum?

I do not meet secretly with aliens. I assure you that if visited by beings from another world, the matter would not be a poorly kept secret. It would either be an extremely well kept secret, or entirely open and transparent. At least as transparent as the hulls of their supposed spacecraft. Which do not, of course, exist.

Finally, I do not consort with clowns. Let me say that I have no objection to people choosing of their own free will to wear the white face and red nose. It is not a life I would choose for myself or wish upon a close friend.

Thank you for your patience and I look forward to many future conferences to come.

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Deal 1232: Mana

At times, it seems as if only a generous supply of magic could support life here. Magic would explain many things, and would certainly make survival easier. Magic comes at a cost, it too is dependent on a steady flow of its source. And mana is not particularly common here, any more than it is anywhere else.

Magic, then, is not the sole explanation.

Where it is found, the usual tooth and nail competitions are not. Life survives without the usual impulses to do battle and war over limited food supplies.

With a mana supply, life is peaceful.

For those able to use it, of course.

Without mana, or the means to use it, life remains a brutal competition.

Either way, life is found in some decidedly weird places.

And this place is more than a little weird. The caverns all over the planet are deep and warm enough to prevent the water from freezing, while remaining cool enough to retain enough dissolved oxygen to keep things interesting. Mana likely supplies the glowworms that illuminate the caverns. We don’t know for sure. But it is the only reasonable explanation for their abundance in areas without obvious sources of food.

We can only infer its existence from evidence like the abundance of the glow, since most of us are unable to sense it directly and it has, so far, eluded all attempts to sense with instruments.

The longer I live in this strange place, however, the more I begin to feel a second sort of warm currents. Mana is having its effect, and change is inevitable. The last member of our party to discover the ability went mad. So I am also disobeying a sensible standing order by not reporting my new abilities.

But I am sure I am not going mad.

I won’t go mad.

The madness will not consume me.

Nor will the nearly invisible beasts of the greatest depths that I begin to sense moving around well outside of our most remote explorations.

I am not mad, so I won’t go exploring.

Today, at least.

Today, I remain with the group, and wonder what the deeps may hold.

Besides an abundant source of mana, that is.

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Deal 1221: Nose jobbed

I fumed quietly in my throne room. I seemed to be doing a lot of that lately. But it wouldn’t need to be the case if those incompetent fools hadn’t botched things quite so badly. There really was no hope for it other than to use my power to end their careers.

They deserve nothing less than a total loss after what they have done.

What did they do you wonder?

Are you on their side? Are you working against me? For them?

How dare you question my motives, my injury, and the harm done to my reputation by their incompetence?

How dare you sir.

So it is decided, this latest affront will be their last.

What?

You really are taking their side, defending their indefensible actions?

Those imbeciles might as well have been operating with butter knives in place of scalpels with the results they achieved. And then, they have the nerve to sue for Peace?

Peace?

Now?

I say it again. I will settle for nothing less than their bankruptcy.

I went into their care because my nose was leaning an entire millimeter to the left. Now, today, it is clear that my nose is leaning an entire millimeter to the right!

How could this happen?

They must pay for their errors!

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Deal 1209: Potluck Knifed

In hindsight, a butter knife was indeed an odd choice for a symbol of Peace. But that is now. Then, the world was a slightly different place. Perhaps even an odder place.

One cold and moonless night, the party was declared.

All arrived bearing gifts of food and drink to share. But as is not unusual, there were some petty feuds among the guests. Words were said. Rolls were thrown. The punch bowl was at risk.

Distracting the parties with music and plying them with drink did little. Again, in hindsight, drink may not have been a wise choice. The petty feud was escalating.

Finally, someone offered up a buttered roll to one side, and a jellied roll to the other…

The butter knife saved the day.