From: The Sureshot Rises

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Another dream developed as Durbar slumbered. It was not unlike the one he experienced only weeks earlier. This time the image of the arena was clear to him. It was the very place in Harmon where they held melee competitions that day. He could see crowds of people cheering loudly all around. At one end, he saw his mother and father again, both dressed in armor and armed with swords. He found himself in the center of the ring also armed and armored. He called out to his parents, “Father! Mother! What are you doing here?”

His father answered, “We are here to watch you son. We are only here to watch.”

“But why? Why didn’t you tell me you were a soldier? What were you protecting me from? I don’t understand.”

Before his father could explain anything, he exclaimed, “Look out behind you, Son!” Durbar turned around and the knight he fought in his previous dream returned. Again, he wielded a huge axe and flail, and he charged the confused dreamer. Durbar began to flee, but his father called out to him, “Don’t run, Son! Turn and fight. It is the only way you will survive!”

“But I can’t win, Father. He is too strong,” he returned.

“Turn and stand, Son!” Adar advised. So, his son turned around and prepared to defend himself. He held his shield up to protect his left side and pulled his sword arm back, ready to strike. The knight reached him in only a few seconds and swung his axe hard into Durbar who blocked the blow with his shield. The weapon splintered the top of the shield and sent Durbar to the ground. He scrambled to his feet in time to see the ball of the flail coming down on him. This time he rolled to his right to avoid the shot and swung his sword clumsily at the man. His attack was easily parried with the axe and then countered with the same weapon. The mighty axe struck directly into Durbar’s breast, splitting his armor.

The Master’s Plan

Several men and women met in a conference room in a building a hundred floors up, like a tower overlooking the peasants below. Few knew what was transpiring in the magical tower and few cared. On the paved streets below, people shuffled about through their lives hoping to escape the monotony and claiming to have dreams but not seeking them in any way. Those souls were the subject of the meeting. They formed the mortar that built the foundation of the tower.

With light streaming in from the many windows that overlooked the world below, one man dressed in a sharply lined blue suit with crisp white shirt and yellow tie stood at the end of the table and addressed the room. He had a common name, but he was known as master for he was in the business of enslaving.

“Thank you all for coming,” Master began, voice calm but strong. “I wanted to congratulate everyone on the job well done this year. Our algorithms suggest that we have more influence and control than ever. I believe we are ready for the final stage. We are ready to wage war on our opponents to grow in market share and influence.” Master leaned over the table as he spoke the last words and grinned slightly like a general in the war room who has what he believes is a winning strategy.

“We began this years ago, as you all know,” Master began as he started to pace slightly recounting the past. “When we began we had no idea that we would be where we are today. At the time, all we wanted was to provide a product we felt people wanted. They demanded our phones and our technology greatly. Better and bigger and more useful all the time.

“What we found was that our phones, our devices were like a bright light attracting gnats in the dark. They were drawn to them and could hardly pull themselves away as we continue to feed their desires and train their minds to hold our phones and make them an indispensable part of life. We captured their eyes.

“Then we took it a step further. We created devices they could place directly in their ears. Music, podcasts, videos, and yes, even phone calls,” master had to pause as many in the room laughed at the inclusion of the phone conversations. “Now their ears belong to us as well. We stole two of their senses, or rather, they surrendered them to us willingly. But make no mistake,” master let the words hang in the air. “Their eyes and ears belong to us. We show them what we want and we tell them what we want. Just like the classic Japanese proverb of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,’ controlling what a person sees and hears will directly influence what a person says. In other words, if we control sight and sound, we control thought. Their minds belong to us. They are exactly like the monkeys or apes typically use to illustrate that adage. They gave us their eyes. They gave us their ears. They gave us their minds.

“And what are we going to do with them?” Master let the group wonder for a moment. “Well, we can do whatever we want. Obviously, first and foremost, we will continue to cultivate loyalty to our products and brand and dependence on our media to feed their mailable minds. We will keep them enslaved to us.

“After that the sky is the limit. For the first time in human history, people have been enslaved without even knowing it. Their minds are not their own; they belong to us. That means we can shape their values and morals to suit our needs. We can promote or persecute causes and movements that benefit us. We can manipulate voting patterns and political support to affect entire governments and societies. We will generate billions in profits to feed our growing media monster who will dominate the world over, living above and beyond control of any law and by any leader.

“We are the new deity. We are god. And our customers are our acolytes. They worship our products and they are enslaved to our will. Congratulations, everyone. We have more power than any mortals who lived before us and we will live the lives of demigods.

“We will now break into our focused groups to work on upcoming projects. I am excited about how we will use virtual reality to literally create new worlds in a digital reality. I’m looking forward to how we will continue to use our social media platform to shape social interactions and change the way in which people interact with one another. I’m especially excited about the creation of our own currency. How much more money can we make when we make our own money?” The question caused the room to erupt in laughter. In fact, it took a long minute for it to quiet down again.

Finally, Master concluded, “With that we adjourn this meeting. Never forget the amount of power we possess and never stop seeking new ways to increase it.” Master sat down and the executives present began standing and leaving like warriors to the battlefield equipped with a plan sure to slaughter the enemy.

Ode to the Last Dragon Slayer

Have a seat and fill your flaggons
The world was once filled with dragons

They flew the skies and lived in caves
Sending many to early graves

Some breathed fire others poison
Melted some left others frozen

Came in many shapes and sizes
Most have met their own demises

The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall
The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall

They say that he went on a quest
But was defeated like the rest

Like so many held in bondage
Just another slave is hostage

Kept for years a dragon’s captive
By an ice drake cold and massive

In a frozen cave far away
He just waited for the right day

The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall
The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall

At last he knew his chance had come
To slay the beast the battle won

Sprung his cage no longer interred
He found an enchanted halberd

Stalked his captor found him sleeping
His eyes closed with frozen breathing

The weapon thrust deep in his hide
The battle raged the dragon died

The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall
The Dragon Slayer killed them all
Avenged the slain and freed the thrall

Protest at Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother’s House

A crowd of about 50 people gathered outside the cottage deep in the woods. It was grandmother’s house and this day it was the site of serious protest. The group shouted angry words and made threats as they called for justice. It was a chaotic scene to say the least but fortunately there was someone there to cover the event for those of us unable or unwilling to participate.

Kourtney Keurig was there with a cameraman to report on the mayhem.

With her long blond hair carefully brushed to one side and her gleaming eyes ready to enchant the viewers with her depth of empathy and charm, she checked with her cameraman, Rob, before beginning.

“This is Kourtney Keurig here with Channel 3 news coming to you live from Grandmother’s house which is the scene of a loud and passionate protest. These once quiet woods are now filled with calls for justice and retribution. The air is thick with anger when once it smelled of baking cookies, today it carries the scent of vengeance.

“As most already know, this is the scene of a fantastic tale of a granddaughter killing the wolf she claims ate her grandmother then hacking the elderly woman from the belly of that wolf. While most heralded the girl as brave in the face of danger, others say there is a very different truth behind the story we first heard.

“We were told that as the girl was carrying wine and cake to her sick grandmother, apparently in an effort to help her feel better, that a wolf greeted the girl. She then told the wolf that she was on her way to visit her sick grandmother.

“The tale continues to say that the wolf rushed to the grandmother’s home and ate her then pulled on granny’s clothes and waited for Red. When the girl arrived, the wolf ate her as well.

“How are they alive today do you wonder? Well a woodsman happened by and claims he heard the snoring from a sleeping wolf and let himself into the home and then cut open the wolf to pull the girl and her grandmother free before stuffing the wolf full of stones, killing the animal.

“But that isn’t all. The woodsman admits he skinned the wolf and made off with his hide. Now some are questioning some of the details of this story and making some pretty strong accusations, which begs the question, was this a story of innocent victims beating their attacker, or was the wolf set up?”

Back in a bright and cheerful studio, a middle aged man and woman sat with blue coffee mugs printed with “Channel 3” in white lettering. The mugs in fact contained no beverage whatsoever but were merely there in case viewers forgot which channel they were viewing.

The man had dark hair with streaks of distinguishing grey down the sides and a prominent chin. His suit was blue and his tie was red over his white shirt.

The male newscaster asked in a deep but cheerful voice, “What is the feeling of the crowd down there, Kourtney?”

“Well, Gary, they are certainly hostile, I can say that,” the chipper field reporter answered. “They do not sympathize with the grandmother or even the girl for that matter; as far as I can tell.”

Next, the female newscaster spoke up; her warm smile melting any heart that saw it and her died blond hair and face lifts gave her a perpetually youthful appearance and hopeful feeling.

“What about the huntsman?” She wondered, “I would imagine they were upset with him as well?”

“Oh yes, Janet, you’re spot on there,” Kourtney continued. “They are none to pleased with him at all.”

“Is he there as well?” Janet added.

“Not at the moment. Word on the street is that he fled into the woods what with the recent backlash against him when the story of Red and her encounter with the wolf got around. No one has reported seeing him for a couple of days now.”

“Is the woodsman being investigated for anything right now?” Gary wondered.

“I have no word that law enforcement is currently investigating the woodsman after the incident but many are pressuring them to look into what they are calling a murder.”

“That’s quite a charge there, Kourtney, how do people expect such a charge to stick?”

“Why don’t we ask them, Gary?” With that, the camera turned slightly and standing near the field reporter was a young woman with her hair pulled back and round glasses dominating her face. In one hand she held a sign that read, ‘Protect Wolves, Not Whores.’