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         At the first explosion, the camp erupted in shouts and commotion. Razor’s men grabbed for their weapons and some of them fired in the direction of the blast. Then, another quick series of explosions went off at the opposite side of the camp, filling the dim light with a haze of smoke and dirt, as Chess and Gryff watched from a short distance away.
         By the time the last set of explosions went off, Razor’s men were firing wildly in all directions. Someone in the group had pulled out a powerful spotlight and was swinging it around, lighting up the surrounding darkness, a meter at a time. The beam swung around, passing blindly over the two of them, as they stood motionless. Once it had passed by, Gryff went into action again, sporadically firing off rifle shots, just to keep the confusion going.
         Chess knew, from the movement and weapons fire, that Razor’s men couldn’t tell where -- or how powerful -- their attackers were. With each new shot that Gryff fired, another long burst emanated from the camp. Chess’s plan had worked as well as he could have hoped, since no one seemed to be in charge. No Razor, and no Tez. Just chaos.
         Heart pounding, Chess squinted through the binoculars, trying to find the girls. They seemed to have disappeared. He hoped that they had slipped away, but to where? He assumed that they were hiding under the truck, which was the most logical and safe place, but they would be discovered almost immediately once the situation calmed down. And then Chess heard, with sudden dismay, one of the men ordering everyone to hold their fire.
         Gryff appeared beside him then. “The girls got away?” he gasped.
         “Not sure,” Chess answered quietly. He lowered the binoculars. “I have to be sure.”
         Chess stared at the distant camp, which was already much calmer than it had been just moments before. Another minute and they might find the girls. “Please give me your rifle.”
         Gryff looked suddenly horrified. He opened his mouth to speak, but Chess cut him off by hitting him on the shoulder. “You got about a minute to get around to the girls. Take care of them.”
         “What are you gonna do?” Gryff asked, sounding breathless as he handed the rifle to Chess.
         “Find out if Razor is as stingy with ammo as he claims to be,” Chess said grimly. “Please go.”
         Gryff ran for the camp and Chess began to fire. Gunfire echoed back toward him, but they could not see him. He stood his ground, but doubt filled his mind. How was this ever going to work? he wondered desperately. Could Gryff get them away safely? And then the spotlight swung toward him.
         When Chess realized that he was standing in a pool of light, visible to the entire camp, he lost his nerve. Dropping the rifle to his side, he ran.
         The ground was uneven here, years of rains having carved gullies into the once smooth, park-like ground. The sound of weapons fire surrounded Chess, but the shots grew fewer by the second. And somewhere in the distance he heard cursing. His foot found the bottom of a shallow trench and he dropped to his stomach. Then he crawled as quickly as he could toward the edge of the woods.
         Behind him, he heard pounding boots, shaking the ground, but they did not follow his escape route. Once he reached the woods, he ran far and fast, until he collapsed in exhaustion.

         Chess slept for a few hours and, upon waking, realized the one huge mistake they had made: they had not planned where to meet up. He could not go back to the area where Razor’s men were, and, anyway, Gryff would have ushered the girls far away from there. If they had gotten away at all.
         Chess sat back against a tree trunk and lowered his head between his knees. Was he the only survivor? And, even if they were all okay, how would he ever find them again? He tried to quell the growing panic and think. The best strategy was to stay where he was. If he kept moving and they kept moving, they would never find each other. Both Gryff and Sariel knew how to track.
         In his weariness, he fell asleep again, waking only when something came crashing through the underbrush nearby.

Continued next page...


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“Who are you?” he demanded...
“I am Lachesis.”
“Ah, Lakshmi, Goddess of Fortune,” he agreed.
He smiled. “There seem to be parallels between your mythology and ours. I recognize your nature.”
- Wielding a Red Sword by Piers Anthony

         The next question, of course, is why are stories from so many different times and places so remarkably similar? The easiest answer is that they were borrowed, merged, separated, and co-developed among many different cultures. But there is another possible explanation.
         We might all imagine the same types of stories, with similar elements and themes, because we all draw on basically the same kind of experience: human experience. For just a few examples: most people fear death and loss, most are deeply hurt by betrayal, and most feel joy and even awe at witnessing a selfless act that helps another. These ideas are not concrete, detailed stories; instead, they are more like pictures that stay in our minds and help us recognize their likeness in the world outside. Some people have termed these ideas “archetypes.”
         Socrates was the first person I know of to suggest the idea of archetypes. Many centuries later, Freud and Jung both referred to archetypes in their explanations of psychology. The psychologists seemed to define an archetype as an idea that is shared among all people because all share the same origin and essentially the same human experiences, down through the millennia of history. Archetypes are the basic pictures that comprise our thoughts -- and I would assume, our ideas of what is right and wrong. This seems reasonable for someone who has dedicated his life to studying the mysteries of human nature and thoughts to propose.
         Socrates and his student Plato took the idea of archetype even further, though, suggesting that an archetype is an ideal that has come to us from a divine source. In other words, the most perfect thoughts, actions, and characteristics reside in the realm of the gods, but we can recognize imperfect echoes of them here in our mortal world. If we accept this idea, then mythologies are similar because all humans are reaching for the same divine ideals. Or they might be both: unconsciously-shared ideals and actually shared stories.



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