Author: Tim Knight
Title: In The Pale Moonlight
Copyright: November 2001
Rating: PG-13 (fight scenes, and dinner plans from a lycanthrope’s point of view)
Buffy: Season 2 until Phases.
Highlander: Season 5 until Season finale. Richie Ryan lives.
Dungeons and Dragons Game or Novels:
Forgotten Realms, Cormyr (the novel).
Ravenloft, the sourcebooks and perhaps Heart of Midnight and Death of a Darklord (novels).
[If you can find it, I highly recommend Death of a Darklord, as it gives you some background on the Lord of Kartakass, Harkon Lukas, as well as for the fact that it was written by Laurell K. Hamilton, the author of the Anita Blake series.]
Keywords: Forgotten Realms/ Ravenloft.
Summary: A dozen years or so in the past, a villain encounters a new wildcard occupying space in his stomping grounds, and is somewhat taken aback by the dark emotions fueling someone who would appear to be one of those idealistic hero types.
Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties, and copyrights are the property of the respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.
The character Shaw Hunter is mine. Anyone wishing to use her may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The characters Steven St. Wolf, Frank Iverson, Joe N'Gato, Marc La Chevalier, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup, and Fragnar are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which most Wanderer stories take place. Smaug is still up for grabs between Steve and J. R. R. Steve can be contacted at Steve711@concentric.net.
The character of Robin Goodfellow is property of Mike Weyer. Mike may be contacted at SWERJ321@msn.com.
Author's Notes: For continuity’s sake, I am putting down three different times, in order to coordinate exactly where this story takes place, for those fans of the Wandererverse (Earth time), Forgotten Realms (Dale Reckoning), and Ravenloft (Common Year).
Here they are:
Wandererverse/Earth Time: May 1985, around the same time that Steve St. Wolf receives Demon Slayer from Fragnar and just before he meets Merlin for the first time.
Forgotten Realms/ Dale Reckoning: Mirtul (May) 1356 Dale Reckoning. Also known as the Year of the Worm, it is in this year that Sylune, Storm Silverhand’s sister, sacrifices herself to save Shadowdale from a red dragon by performing a retributive strike with her staff. This story takes place a year and a half to two years before the Time of Troubles, the time when the Gods of Faerun walked amongst mortals (as depicted in the Avatar Trilogy; Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep).
Ravenloft: 735 Common Year, fifteen years before the Grand Conjunction of Ravenloft Canon.
Dedications: To Steve, Dark Lord of the Wandererverse, whose evil powers include a sadistic sense of humor, the skill to press any and all universes into one (or six, if one counts various alternate realities and such), and the ability to freak out fanfic readers into various states of frenzy by making them drool while waiting for updates.
To Rebekah and Jack, aka the Editors (yes, capital E (for EEEEEEEE-VIL. In-DEEEED!)) in any universe), who prove that it’s not the Red Pen itself that is good or evil, but the uses to which said editors put it. Of course, you might note how the only red weapons I’ve ever seen are those lightsabers used by the BAD GUYS. . . .
To Mike, for introducing Robin to the Wandererverse, although we have to wonder how it seems he and Oberon knew about Ravenloft in Immortal Kombat, hehehehe. . .
Here are the changes from your regular shows:
1. Due to her drowning death at the hands of the Master, Buffy is Immortal.
2. Passion and Becoming never took place, so Jenny and Kendra are still alive and well. Kendra is attending UC Sunnydale.
3. Faith is a good kid, and living with Joyce and Buffy.
1. Nothing that I can see, as this story takes place completely in Ravenloft.
1. One annoying thing about most Ravenloft novels is that you don’t know exactly when they take place. Thus, Death of a Darklord may or may not have taken place before or after the time in which this tale occurs, so I’ll let you, the readers, vote on that <G>.
20 May 1985 (1356 Dale Reckoning, 735 Common Year)
Harkon Lukas walked down the forest path in a section of woods in his domain, cockiness emanating from him like a tangible aura of confidence. He was heading for Skald, one of the two "major" villages in Kartakass, the country that he ruled, albeit from behind the scenes.
< It will be good to take some time to see how things are proceeding in Skald, > he mused to himself. He tugged at the pointed tip of his beard and adjusted the monocle he wore as an affectation. < I will see the Meistersinger, go to the tavern and perhaps entertain some of the human customers, meet with my underlings, and then. . . dinner. > He smiled to himself. < It’s been a long time since I had a tavern wench for dinner. >
The wolfwere glanced around the woods he was walking through and sighed. Growing up in his homeland of Cormyr, the lycanthrope had always been different from his brethren; he shunned the solitary ways of the weres and sought company, as well as to rule. Rule what, he had never known. Over the course of his life, he performed great evils as most of his race did, but he did it with a purpose, which he assumed would be revealed to him over time. When he killed one innocent too many, a mob had chased him into a fog bank.
That had been decades ago.
After pushing a powerful vampire a bit too far, Lukas staggered back into the Mists, which had deposited him here, in the land called Kartakass. He somehow knew that this was his land, and that he held, if not absolute power, then a great deal of power nonetheless. His wish had been granted, but there was one problem with that.
< There is nothing of significance to rule over, > he rolled over in his head. < Two villages with three thousand villagers between them, and a couple dozen scattered hamlets. Not the type of nation I had in mind. >
Like other Darklords, he had often tried to leave his domain, only to find out that while he was the undisputed ruler of Kartakass, it was because he was tied, or imprisoned to use a better word, to the very area over which he held sway. Needless to say, beyond traveling across Kartakass in his human form and making a living as a bard, he spent most of his time trying to divine ways to leave this rural, heavily forested landscape to find more. . . congested surroundings.
< At least I have some things to occupy my time, > he thought. Some of those things were humorous or actually enjoyable; Meistersinger contests, held yearly to determine who would be Meistersinger (or Mayor) of various communities, hunting humans for dinner, or eliminating the werewolves and vampires that occasionally crept into his territory. Lukas’ hatred of the undead that drank blood was immense, partially because of Strahd Von Zarovich. < He reminded me that I am capable of being killed. That. . . was an unpleasant lesson. >
Two of the things that weren’t so fun were finding a way out of his prison and, most irritatingly, a rebellious. . .
< Nay, treacherous daughter. My darling Akriel, > the Darklord sighed. He then chuckled in wry amusement. As much as he might find her attempts to overthrow him and take over his kingdom were distracting to his own attempts to leave Kartakass, he often got great enjoyment from thwarting her. < Not to mention her tantrums at yet another foiled coup. >
Wondering what the immediate future might hold, Harkon started whistling a merry tune, thinking that if he had any fortune, he just might stumble across some excitement before reaching Skald.
The wolfwere adjusted his wide brimmed hat and strode on into the quiet night.
20 May 1985 (1356 Dale Reckoning, 735 Common Year)
Harkon slowly closed on the area where the woods gave way to the main road to Skald, singing a soft tune that he’d crafted himself. Mostly, he was trying to fine-tune the ditty before he reached town. < After all, > he mused, < it would hardly do to give a tavern audience a song not completely refined. I do have a reputation to maintain. >
Lukas did have a reputation, but not one like Von Zarovich or Soth of Sithicus. Rather than the history of being a brutal and cold-hearted ruler, Harkon’s image was much more positive, and simpler; not being a powerful wizard like the ruler of Barovia or the mage that ruled Hazlan, nor a fallen noble warrior like the death knight Soth, Harkon was thought of as nothing more than a famous bard native to Kartakass, the finest artist in a nation of musicians and singers. Besides giving the people great respect for the lycanthrope, it also cut down on people concocting half-baked plans to kill him for being evil.
"Which I am, yes. But still, one must have some tact and style," Lukas chuckled to his audience of one.
As Lukas came within sighting distance of the forest’s border, a shrill scream sounded through the night. Lukas’ easygoing manner vanished like it was a candle that had been snuffed out, and he tensed, awaiting a second scream. < Perhaps one of my minions is helping himself to the larder, > he thought, bored with that prospect.
A second sound did waft its way to the wolfwere’s sharp ears, but it wasn’t a scream of horror. Rather, it was a battle cry or, more accurately, an invocation.
Harkon was taken by surprise. He recognized that name, the name of a Goddess from the world he had been born into. < Of course, > he thought sourly, < invoking that name means only one thing. A damned do-gooding ranger. >
Wondering why a ranger would be attacking a helpless villager did make Lukas cock an eyebrow in thought. Perhaps this would relieve his boredom. < At the very least, > he decided, < I will have a menu to select from. >
Heading into the trees so that he might doff his clothing to change into his other form, the Lord of Kartakass vanished from the dirt path.
Moving with the stealth that he inherited from his furry shape, Harkon moved into a good position for observing the sight he hoped to see. Sniffing at the air to ensure that no one, or nothing, was nearby, he looked into the field where a dance of death was taking place.
As he expected, there was a female villager lying on the ground, watching with terror that he could smell coming from the girl, who couldn’t be more than sixteen or seventeen years old. His eyes went further into the field, where he saw two people, swords drawn, watching each other with deadly intent.
One of the warriors was male, dressed in upper class clothing and armed with a gleaming saber with a seashell handle. Harkon bit down a snarl of distaste; the man was a vampire, if the scent making its way thanks to the gentle spring breeze was any indication. He looked far too cocky for his own good, the smirk on his face hinting that he thought the outcome of this battle to be preordained.
Not being able to see the woman’s face, he could at least make some assumptions from what he did see. Her clothing and swaying cloak were tan in color, matching the hue of wood, a hint of being raised in forest terrain. Her boots were made of buckskin and finely crafted. From her height and slimness, the wolfwere figured her to be about the same age as the frightened teenager she was attempting to protect from the walking corpse, which likely meant that she would rely on agility and speed rather than trying to match the unnatural strength of her foe. However, all of that merely caught his interest for a second before he focused on her weapon; a longsword which was glowing with harmless fire of a white color.
< Faerie fire, > he mused. < Quite harmless, although I can understand that the vampire might not know that. Clever. >
Any further thoughts were put on hold when the vampire struck with supernatural quickness. As expected, the young woman ducked and dodged to the side, making the blood drinker overextend his reach. The girl brought her sword around in a double-handed grip that nicked the vampire in the ribs, but it was a glancing blow as he instinctively retreated. The vampire took a few steps to get back, shock showing in his eyes.
In Borcan, the language of Barovia, he said, "What kind of sorcery is this?!?"
The woman, holding her flaming blade pointed at him, responded in a tongue that the vampire didn’t understand, though Harkon certainly did. "A combination of holy magic and wizardry from the City of Song. Not that I expect you to live long enough to contemplate that."
Harkon’s breath caught at the mention of the words, ‘City of Song.’ < Myth Drannor? This girl’s sword is an elven weapon. > Harkon glanced at the woman again, wondering as to the girl’s race; humans rarely found opportunities to wield ancient elven magic. < Now I hope that this ranger deals with the vampire. >
Harkon was fond of humans and elves, in his own way. He liked them and got along with them, although not so much that he let such sentiments get in the way of a good meal. As it was, he was fast to dismiss making a late supper of the warrior woman. < Besides the problems of dealing with magic of the Tel’Quessir, a ranger makes her living in the woods. She will just be too tough and gamy. > Movement in the fight drew the man-wolf’s attention back to the contest.
The unliving male began a complicated attack routine that Harkon himself had mastered several years ago. To his surprise and caution, the woman proved capable of defending herself from such a flurry. The fighter then launched her counterattack, sending a fluidic series of thrusts and parries that used the vampire’s deflections to actually make her next moves even quicker than the previous one. She connected yet again, this time slicing the vampire’s off arm, leaving his clothing ripped along with his left bicep.
Harkon saw the anger twist the visage of the hungry nosferatu, who began backing up. He said, "Very well, creature. That worthless bitch is yours to devour."
The woman put her sword out and reached one hand toward her belt. The glint of forged metal gave Lukas an idea of what she’d drawn. It was confirmed a split second later when she flipped the dagger in her hand and fired it at her antagonist.
The dagger passed through the man, who faded from view, leaving a gaseous cloud in his place. The cloud started to retreat from the forest warrior, who began chanting in a tongue that Harkon assumed was a form of spell casting. < A mage as well? That is not so appealing. >
The woman finished her incantation and a small whirlwind began to form. The ruler of the land listened to the woman bark orders at the small elemental, which turned and hastily encircled the sentient fog that was the vampires’ current form. The living cyclone began twirling the cloud around in ever increasing speeds, leaving Lukas to wonder what the point of this was. What could almost be sensed as a scream erupted as the dust devil flung various parts of the gaseous form in all directions. What happened next stunned even the experienced Harkon into silence.
The vampire reformed into his human body, but minus his right arm and saber. Harkon stared in realization, as he understood that by ripping the cloud apart, the ranger had sent part of his body into nothingness, thus eliminating that part of his body and leaving her prey gravely wounded.
The vampire shouted, "HOW DARE YOU ATTACK A SERVANT OF THE LORD STRAHD?!? He will have vengeance over this!"
"I do not see how," the woman answered in the Common tongue of Faerun, "as the only one who could report your demise to him will no longer be on this plane of existence."
With that, the woman drove her sword halfway into the vampire’s stomach. She jerked the blade three times, sawing at him like she might gut a deer, not responding to his increasingly violent screams. The wolfwere watched in curious fascination as the woman, who he now saw to be elven or perhaps half-elven by her shining red eyes, simply stood there until her weapon’s magic went into effect, bathing the doomed undead in a white luminescence that faded when he did the same.
< Interesting, > Harkon decided. < And not just for the obvious advantages of her weapon. >
Harkon watched as the woodland warrior sheathed her blade and turned her attention to the frightened villager, who began scooting backward as the elf woman approached. Silently observing them while beginning the change back into his human form, the werebeast decided to observe this newcomer to his realm a bit longer before making himself known.
Devoting the minimum amount of attention needed to don his clothing and make himself presentable, Harkon listened as the daughter of The People began trying to reassure the stammering teenager she’d rescued.
"Wh-wh-what are you?" the girl babbled, probably frightened by the woman’s infravision.
Seeing the fear and wanting to eliminate it, the woman stopped short of the villager and raised her hands in a manner to show she meant no harm. She said, in halting Kartakan, "I mean you no harm, young one."
"What ARE you?" the girl demanded, apparently emboldened by her savior’s admission.
The woman considered her answer before answering. She slowly asked, "Have you ever heard of. . ." Harkon silently laughed at her futilely attempting to find a Kartakan word for elf. She did find something to say to the girl, however. "Have you ever heard tales of a race of beings who. . . live in the forests, who are. . . connected to them? Beings with ears that are pointed, rather than round like yours?"
The girl seemed to perk up at that. "Do you mean. . . those like the Sithicans? The ones who are thin and work magic?"
The elven woman considered her answer. "By physical form, yes. But I come from another place. I was not born in this world. Where I come from, I fought for those who helped others."
"The Mists brought you!" the girl exclaimed in understanding.
"The Mists?" she echoed in confusion.
The girl nodded, and Harkon could imagine her smile at knowing something this nonhuman person didn’t. "The Mists do many things. One of these things they do is bring people from other places to this one. It happens from time to time."
The red-eyed fighter pondered the information before changing the subject. "I see. Enough of that. I want to check you for bleeding or other wounds."
The girl’s suspicion returned like a crossbow bolt between the eyes. "Why?" she demanded with a trembling voice.
"So that when you return home," the older female noted, "I will not be falsely accused by suspicious villagers of causing any harm to you. I think you will at least concede that I saved your life from that vampire." Her voice softened a bit as she added, "I want to ensure that you are unharmed, if only to keep myself in the same state of good health."
Harkon smiled in approval; this one was rightfully suspicious. < She just might prove to be a distracting challenge if I wanted her. > he thought. < Then again, she is probably not tender like that village girl. >
Donning his fancy hat and fixing his monocle in place, the wolfwere moved to make the acquaintance of this follower of Mielikki whose hatred of the walking dead was like the soothing aroma of a the finest meekelbrau. < Most hateful, > he mused. < Perhaps the Dark Powers will take notice of her if she strays from her path. >
Harkon knew the woman had heard him approaching long before she finally stood and dropped her hand to the hilt of that old elven sword. He smiled reassuringly and held his hands up to show he came in peace. < For the beginning of this meeting at least. >
"Who are you?" the elf asked in her cracked, and only recently learned, Kartakan.
The man-wolf nodded in respect to her and lightly said, "I bid you greetings, as well. I am Harkon Lukas, traveling bard at large."
"Harkon Lukas," the girl breathed with tangible excitement. She slowly stood and said, "The bard!"
"Ah, another of my adoring admirers," he said, taking his hat off and delving into a bow that left him staring at the ground. He rose, only to see the woman, a half-elf by her human-sized ears, still clutching her sword. He knew what she was thinking. < Am I evil? Poor thing must already know that such spells do not work in this evil land. Much to my benefit. >
"Harkon Lukas," the half-breed said slowly, trying out the name on her tongue. Her eyes narrowed a bit. "I recognize the inflections. You are from Faerun?"
"Cormyr," he agreed, seeing no reason to lie about that. "As I suspect you are, Mistress. . I did not catch your name."
"My name was not released," she countered coldly. "What are you doing in this area, Harkon Lukas?"
"I am traveling to Skald, a village nearby," he said with honesty. "I am an old friend of the Meistersinger of Skald, and I was merely hoping to renew our friendship, as we are like family. Certainly you understand."
The way the cleric’s eyes narrowed gave Harkon a tidbit of information, even if she didn’t realize it. "No, I would not," she said with no visible emotions.
Harkon, however, could smell the feelings she fought to hide; anger, hatred, and grief, though the last was buried far beneath the girl’s notice. Now he knew why she took to battling the vampire with such. . . enthusiasm.
"Might I ask what two such attractive young ladies are doing in this area at night?" the Darklord inquired, slowly moving his eyes up and down the body of the teenager. She was the classic beauty of Kartakass; long, dark hair with that rarest color of blue eyes that were so dark they almost crossed over to violet. Also, he noted that unlike the tough half-elven ranger next to her, she would be very soft and tender.
"I was attacked by one of those horrible blood drinking undead!" the girl shrieked. "He attacked me as I walked home from gathering medicinal herbs and was going to drink my blood until. . ." She glanced at the silent woman next to her and gulped. "This. . . woman saved me."
"I see," Harkon noted sagely. < And very efficiently, if I do say so myself. > "You are fortunate indeed, young lady, for this half-elf is a warrior devoted to a Goddess of the Forests, whose servants fight for the defenseless." He turned to the cleric and asked, "Might I ask where you hail from, Forestarm?"
Hearing the strangely dressed musician call her by her formal term in the church of the Forest Queen pushed her suspicions down a bit. She flatly said, "Shawukay Redarrow of Deepingdale."
"Ah," he said with a smile. "A land of open-minded people, where humans, elves, and their half-elven kin live in harmony."
He also smiled at how the villager’s eyes widened at such an idea. Anything not human was viewed with suspicion, so the idea of multiple races and their half-blooded offspring living together was nearly unheard of. He focused on Shawukay again. "You did this child’s family a great favor, saving her from a vampire. You must be strong to be able to defeat such an enemy."
The Daleswoman’s face became tight. "Let us say, I am motivated."
< And you will not lack outlets for that motivation, ranger. Not in this land, > Lukas mused. < And your standoffish attitude will not help to lower suspicions about you, however many heroic acts you perform. Which combined with your obvious tendency to shun company, will work to my favor. >
He then glanced between the two women and asked, "Might I join you in your journey back to Skald?"
Shawukay was about to decline, but the girl enthusiastically agreed. "Oh, please Master Lukas! My father would be honored to have you as a guest!" She deflated a bit and muttered, "If you are not otherwise engaged, that is."
The girl wasn’t stupid, Harkon noted, but rather struck by the presence of the land’s greatest entertainer. < Although I’m sure the shock of being attacked by a vampire and being saved by someone not human has her distracted as well. > He looked to the older woman and said, "If there are no objections, Mistress Redarrow?"
"It is her village," Shawukay said with a neutral voice. "It is not my place to deny the child the chance to host someone she admires. Perhaps I shall purchase some goods from the markets before leaving."
The girl stared at her savior. "You do not want to join us?" she asked in shock. "But this is the Master Lukas!"
Lukas sensed the turmoil in the half-elf’s emotions. She didn’t want to expose herself to the possible prejudice she might find in the girl’s home, yet she also craved some balm for the pain of her loneliness. He kept his comments to himself, however.
Finally, the ranger sighed. "I am sorry, little one, but I have things that I must do. It is. . . enough for me to see you safely home to your. . . to your family."
The girl nodded in understanding, but Harkon noted two things; one being the slight, perhaps unnoticed, relief in the girl’s eyes at having the specter of an unknown in her residence removed, and from the half-elf, the way her voice slightly cracked as she thought about the girl returning home to loving parents and siblings.
"Mistress Shawukay, as I am sure you are tired from your exertions, would you consent to my taking the lead in our improvised group?"
Shawukay glanced at him, then the rapier at his hip. Still somewhat on her guard, she nodded permission. "Go ahead."
Harkon resumed his course to the village, this time joined by two women who were completely oblivious to the darkness that had joined them in their journey.
21 May 1985 (1356 Dale Reckoning, 735 Common Year)
Harkon nodded to the bartender of the tavern upon walking in, pretending to be acknowledging the greetings shouted by those who knew him from previous performances. By the tiny grin that touched his lips, the barkeep, a wolfwere in service to Lukas, knew that something was happening. He gave the smallest nod possible and turned to finish cleaning the mugs before attending to his master.
The Master of Kartakass sat down in a dark corner, sending the message that he was not there for an impromptu concert, which the customers, human or otherwise, lamented, but gave him his peace. The bartender walked over with a mug of his freshest meekelbrau and set it down on the table. He bowed his head just a tad and asked, "May I help you, Master Harkon?"
"Yes, my good tavern keeper," the wolfwere said congenially. "I wish for you to pass on a message to all like us." When the bartender nodded again, he went on. "It seems that there is a young woman walking the forests of Kartakass, who saved a young villager from one of the Devil Strahd’s minions earlier tonight."
"I have heard the tale," the lesser wolfwere replied. "One of the elven folk, if the tale was correct."
"As I was the one who spread the tale, it should be," Lukas said with a tight voice laden with warning. His lackey began to sweat. "But no matter. Suffice it to say, this one has a dark wound to her soul that may yet be of service to me. Thus, I would be most irritated if I heard that she had come to harm, death, or to be more like you and I."
The bartender blinked in surprise. A half-elven fighter, especially one capable of killing vampires who served Von Zarovich, would make for a fine hunt. And the Master was putting him, and through him the entire wolfwere population of Kartakass, on notice that this girl-child was to be left alone?!?
Catching the wonder in the minion’s posture, Harkon elaborated. "As you know, certain corpses with wizardly powers are fond of sending their minions into other nations to see what their rivals and fellow Lords are up to. This half-girl once lost her loved ones to such a corpse, and is filled with the expected emotions one might find in the sufferer of such a tragedy. I wish for her to deal with her emotions without our interference. Is that understood?"
"I shall pass on the message, and instruct others to do the same in order to speed your request along," the bartender offered. Lukas smiled at him in approval. "If I may, is this the girl that the Vistani have been referring to? The one that the Mists brought to this world a half-year ago?"
Stiffening in reaction, Harkon whispered, "What do the Gypsies say about her?"
"They mention something about silver, moons, and harps," he answered, dreading being the messenger delivering possible bad news. "They call her the Hunter of the Harp. I thought she might be a hunter of our old enemies," he said, referring to werewolves, "but you have not been here recently, for me to give you this information. I am sorry."
"No matter," Harkon said. "You have done well. Leave me."
The tavern keeper scurried off, leaving Harkon to his now dark thoughts. Unlike the other beast, the bard knew exactly what the cryptic reference to the Mielikkian meant, tempting him to hunt down the girl and end her existence right then and there. < A Harper! > he thought in disgust. < One of the meddlers in my kingdom? This is not the news with which I hoped to close out the night. > He considered his options, but finally decided to let her be for the time being. < My people will not interfere with her revenge. Perhaps in time, she will fall from grace as Soth and Strahd did. If not, then her anger serves my purposes for the time being. If she attacks my people or begins to play the Harper Agent in Kartakass, then I shall simply have to remove by protection. >
Smiling at his decision making, Lukas looked around the bar and saw a human barmaid giggling with a drunken patron, possibly attempting to convince him to part with some of his coin in return for a night of passion. Lukas decided to give her the chance to spend a lavish evening with the premier artisan in the land instead.
As he stood up to go and introduce himself, Harkon smiled as he thought of the course of events for the rest of the nighttime hours. < Wine, some passion with a fine looking specimen of the fairer sex, and then. . dinner. >