Always the same.

I remember a time when justification for teaming was a bit more select: You team me, then I'll team you. Or, you strip someone who is much smaller than you of a significant portion of their inventory, and you'll get your just deserts.

I thought it was crap then, and I still do-only now apparently the list has expanded.

You say, \"If you wish to return to a more civilized relationship, stop felling our staves, killing our citizens, killing our men, assaulting our SOI, and teaming us with Thakrians. \"

Shortly before that, you said, \"If you don't like what I do to you, you have 3 choices: a) join my city, b) ask for amnesty, or c) behanve in a manner which warrants respect in a foe. \"

All the while you justify your teaming based on numbers. Let's be honest, Dunccan. Ability matters significantly more than numbers. You and I could take on any two person team in avalon, probably any three person team. If you and I got involved with 5 or 6 smaller Parrians, say, would that be them TEAMING us? No! It'd be them not submitting to being our free experience.

So, I wonder, when does killing men justify teaming? Temper this seeming praise with the understanding that I consider all knight types and especially Paladins wildly overpowered with the new additions to skills; I think that you running around Avalon against any single person is probably enough (with the exception of a few older folks who seem to be making appearances lately). Why justify a team? You can do it yourself.

How does killing a citizen justify a team? Shouldn't that citizen be able to handle themself? Assaulting SOI justifies a team? I should think your response would be more oriented around a military. Don't talk to me about during the actual marching or defence, warfare is warfare, but what have we sunk to when we can use that as a justification for always forgetting any sort of rules of engagement?

Felling staves warrants a team? I mean, sure, getting them out of the city, but can't you finish the job yourself?

To be honest, there is only one other city who SD's recent action reminds me of, and that is the Thakria that was headed by such 'luminaries' as Huzow, Wil, Aerian, Zakath, Arthor and their ilk, along with the shadowy Parrian existence of Zenichiro.

I have counted many of you as friends, and some (a shrinking number) I still do. I would think that a city standing for the light would find it somewhat easier to justify their relative strength by taking the high road and defeating their enemies on their own terms, rather than sinking to the depths of the past victors.

I have only been back two days, and yet in that time, when considering whether or not to join in on any fights as an equalizer for a mismatched group, I've continuously had to consider attack Springdalians who have been using size and numbers to batter their opponents into submission. Challenges appear to be a thing of the past, and I've had three smaller folks ask me to charge items after their original items had been taken by Springdalians! How things change!

At more than one point in these days, I've found myself wondering where my old foes of Thakria had gone. Where were the wild emotion driven fights of hatred I used to thrill in as a younger mage?

Those fights are gone, it appears, those days finished. And when I wonder where the spirit of Thakria has gone, I have only to shift my gaze eastward from that shell of a city, toward Springdale. In becoming the dominant force in the realm, you have released all principle you had, and it appears that your city has followed you.

Someone, I don't remember who, said that the true measure of a fighter is found in what his enemies believe of him. Not in terms of skill, but in terms of honour. I find that the vast majority of Krill, Zakath and my own foes consider us to be honorable individuals. Years ago, those from SD matched this description well. I don't believe many of you do anymore.

There are invariably points of light amongst you, those who despise teaming or who quietly murmur their dissent. Those who wonder if the words \"I will drive them from this game\" should ever be spoken. Come to think of it, the last person I heard speak those words before you, Dunccan, was Koyen, who was thoroughly despised by even her own citymates.

As it sits, Avalon is withering. Weak minds flock to the position of power and fall silently into line, or spout of posts similar to Kes of old, now displaced by you, Dunccan. Denzeldash, August, Finbar, Pahn, and the young of SD seem to be learning the art of illiteracy, and sensible debate no longer exists. Avalon has become a form of Quake: he with more followers wins.

Now, mind you, don't be silly and consider this a whine. I am quite happy with my own abilities versus the majority of you. Even as a husk of my powers at my peak, I still consider myself a stronger pure fighter than any of you. I've got one hell of an ego, but I have also forgotten more in my time away than most of you have ever learned about Avalon combat. I also don't have to worry about massive teams coming after me, though you are welcome to try if you'd like.

I simply look around and see a depleted Avalon. We have fewer young than ever, two cities are nearly ghost towns, warfare has nearly ground to a halt, there are fewer active patrons than I have seen in my lifetime, and there seems to be no more honourable single combat either.

Springdale, your city is undoubtedly the strongest right now. Won't you take that power and act like adults? Who cares about your next hit of experience at an opponents expense if you are not improving? Dunccan, Pahn, Finbar, and their ilk became good fighting against terrible odds. How can any of you hope to ever truly become good by simply fighting in teams? Troubled times breed competency. Don't become complacent just because you know that if someone kills you, you can call in the troops to \"avenge\"

you, and drive your enemy into submission.

This is undoubtedly the longest post I have ever written. Hopefully I have not developed carpal tunnel syndrome, and if I have, hopefully Mestopholies will be kind enough to cure me.

I'm sure I'll see a slew of posts slandering me and my random failings throughout my career. I'm sure that most people will ignore most of this. I can only hope that the young, who are the true treasure of avalon, will take much of this to heart, and throw off the teachings of those spreading the current themes in this realm.

PS My random boasting of being better than any of you, was not meant to be quite so abrasive: I certainly consider at least one of the current Springdalians who will remain unnamed, my equal or better. Hint, his name is not Dunccan. That said, I have no desire to retype this entire post, so, good night!

Battlemage Fistandantilus, egotistical after all these years.

Written by my hand on the 7th of Springflower, in the year 1155.