"Utena!" The shout was a cry of outrage and desperation.
Images flashed through Touga's mind of the beautiful woman:
the first time he saw her when she was talking to the
unicorn, her exquisite femininity the first moment he saw
her gowned as befitting her station, her gracefulness when
they had danced underneath the stars, her smile, her courage
. . .
To see her lying bloody upon the ground broke his heart. If
there was any chance she yet lived . . .
The Ebon Phoenix gave his rival a smirk. (I shall see that
you are the one consigned to oblivion, Light of the World,)
Akio vowed. With a shout that rang out over the din of the
battle, the Ohtori prince spurred his stallion again into a
full gallop. Pulling his sword from the scabbard slung from
his belt, he raced toward the scarlet-haired prince,
determined to cut the mortal down.
No time for anything but defense. Touga lunged forward and
pulled Love's Honor from the ground. The heft and weight of
the sword were perfect; the hilt felt in his hand as if it
were made solely for him. Blizzard burst into a gallop at
his master's signal; the silver blade gleamed with reflected
light as the Red Tyger rushed to meet his foe.
(What are these things?) Juri asked herself while coming to
a halt and scanning the battlefield. She had yet to truly
connect with a blow against one of the enemy; every time she
closed to attack, hound or churl swiftly retreated from her
and turned their attention to another. Before her wondering
eyes, she saw one of her men scream, then abruptly convulse
and collapse. From the akimbo way his body landed, she knew
the Arisugawa warrior was dead -- yet there had been no
Tatsuya swallowed hard as he watched the flowing pool of
shadow leave the body of the man it had engulfed. How could
any of them fight against such an incorporeal enemy?
Nearby, he heard the snarls of the spectral hounds, the
feral growls of the ogres and the cries of the battling men.
Though the highlanders were fighting valiantly, they were
hardly a match for their Fey antagonists. One of the Kiryuu
clansmen next to the lowlander man-at-arms was battered to
the ground by a strike from a massive club. Shouting in
fury, Tatsuya intercepted the trio of Fey hounds that raced
to tear apart the fallen man while the ogre moved on to a
more threatening target. Hack and slash, stab and tear, he
fought off the canines while the sandy-haired warrior
regained his senses.
Cursing under her breath, the Panther chased after another
of the giant men. Her followers were being slaughtered
around her, yet none of the massive warriors or the mangy
wolfhounds would stay near her long enough for her to do
more then slash at the air where they had once been.
Discovering that her pursuit was again in vain and noting
that the youth that traveled with Lady Utena was in trouble,
Juri wheeled her mount around and came to the lad's
assistance. She skewered one of the lanky canines on her
sword just as it made an impressive leap for Tatsuya's
Amazingly, the hound's body vaporized into a plume of black
smoke. The Arisugawa prince stared at her blade, stunned.
Maybe -- just maybe -- all the talk of Fey and magic and
dark forces were more then mere tales to frighten the
foolish and gullible?
Steel rang out against steel as the two male chieftains
clashed weapons and wills. A cold grin fastened upon his
face, Akio swung again and again at the man holding the
Champion's sword. Each slash drove his rival just that much
further back; the Light of the World was as weak as the
flesh that housed it. This would be easy, just as the
Phoenix had known it would be. Only he was strong enough to
survive; he had come into being out of necessity and had
been cut out, thrown away. He would claim all that he was
entitled and he himself would cast aside the Light, forever.
The man's strength was astounding. Each blow fell hard and
fast, beyond anything Touga had ever experienced. It was
all the Red Tyger could do to parry or block the sword
strokes threatening him; each counter sent vibrations down
the length of the ruby-adorned weapon that made his arms and
shoulders ache. Though years of training and conditioning
had given Touga an endurance that easily saw him through
most battles, the fight at hand was swiftly taking its toll.
If there was power within Love's Honor, he had yet to tap
into it. An exquisite blade on its own, it was merely a
sword even in his own hand. The perfect balance only helped
the Kiryuu prince conserve what endurance he had
He parried another stunning blow; the scarlet-maned
chieftain hissed in pain as the deflected blade of his
opponent scored a superficial cut. Once again in the
frantic contest, Touga pulled back on Blizzard's reins in an
attempt to get some breathing space. Perhaps there was a
key to fully awakening the sword that he was still missing.
The Tyger glanced fleetingly at the circle of stones
crowning the hilltop behind him. He had nothing to lose and
everything to gain if he should try.
Chaos reigned around the emerald hill. Ogres battered the
mortals while the shades and dogs picked off those separated
from defensive groups. Juri rode among them, forcing many
of the enemy to retreat from her painfully cold presence and
destroying those canines not fast enough to escape her
righteous fury. Even the hulking forms of the wart-covered
ogres felt the searing chill of her weapon, smoking at the
sword's touch. The highlanders had begun to group together
to better defend themselves, thus forcing the dark Fey into
closing their ranks as well.
Among the whirlwind of frantic action that covered the
battlefield, a single form stood placidly on the hillside.
Her body clad in the royal gown, the sun-ray tiara crowning
her loose locks of flowing violet hair, Anshii stood over
the body of the fallen warrioress. With her hands clasped
in front of the voluminous skirt, the rose tender looked
demurely down at the wounded maiden.
A hand stirred and fingers clenched. A cough made the
rose-haired girl's body shudder and more bright blood fell
to stain the grass. Arm trembling, Utena fought against the
pain and the sensation of drowning, willing herself to
remain conscious. (Touga . . .) With a lurch, she managed
to get her hand under herself though the effort forced up
more of the sanguine liquid filling her lungs. The world
blackened around her as her body spasmed in the throes of
It quickly passed. Raising herself up on a quivering arm,
Utena lifted her head and searched for the man she had come
Yes, love. It was an emotion from not only the here and now
but from ages ago. The hold of her flesh on her spirit was
weakening, and with that relaxation of her prison came an
awareness of what she once was. She had dwelt within that
timeless realm, her beloved roses scenting the air and
making a bower of beauty fit for herself and her lover.
They had always been together, matched in perfect
partnership and bound to one another in the deepest
mysteries of the Sacred Marriage. Just as all men were
reflections of her Champion, all women were reflections of
herself. And her Champion traveled among the world to bring
it the Light of Amor.
But hatred had seeped into the world, and the Light was
slowly dimmed. She had tried all within her power to cure
her beloved of the illness that threatened to swallow up the
Light. Nothing worked. At the last, she had taken from her
lover -- her partner, her equal -- the focus of his own
power and had turned the blade against him. Her own hand
had slashed him apart in an attempt to excise the growing
He had not survived. Though she had acted out of love and
desperation, she had destroyed him.
Utena watched through tear-filled eyes as Akio and Touga
fought near the ring of monoliths. Her heart and soul in
almost as much agony as the body of mortal clay that was her
prison, she understood the dusky-skinned prince's words.
She had brought this about by cutting apart the Shadow of
her Champion from the Light; now the two fought not only for
the right to wield the Champion's power but for dominance
within his existence.
The Shadow was stronger. She could see how easily he was
directing the conflict against his other half, how he played
with the mortal the Light of the World had become.
"Together, beloved," the rose-haired maiden whispered before
collapsing upon the ground.
Touga pulled hard on the reins; Blizzard whirled to the
right and cantered, putting some distance between his master
and the Ebon Phoenix. Standing stones were often gateways
into Faerie. Even if the Whispering Knights were ancient
traitors, the ring itself may be what was needed to bring to
life the latent power of Love's Champion. The Kiryuu prince
encouraged his mount to accelerate into a full sprint with a
shout and a tap of his heels; horse and rider headed
straight for the megalithic structure.
While the remaining mortals were still locked in their
desperate struggle against the minions of the Shadow, Akio
growled and gave chase. All could be lost if his weaker
half was able to find a way to make the dead Champion's
energy stir to wakefulness.
Too late. The scarlet-haired human entered the embrace of
the menhirs and Love's Honor reacted to the presence of the
Light of the World.
Calm filled Touga's awareness, brushing aside the hurt and
exhaustion. That brilliant whiteness he had touched once
before flared through him, consuming him, giving him insight
and skill born of the ages. Gone were the lines of
weariness and pain; the prince's expression became one of
infinite tranquility. As he pointed the weapon skyward, the
silvery blade exploded into a fountain of brilliant white
The radiance burst through the ring of ancient stones and
washed over the battlefield. Everywhere the whiteness
touched one of the dark Fey, that creature disappeared in a
howl of unearthly agony. Those few who escaped the pure
brilliance of the Light fled for the sheltering shade of the
forest. To a man, the remaining mortals shielded their eyes
from the beautiful but almost unbearable sight. Tatsuya
stood in awe as he saw what he swore was a nebulous, ghostly
figure overlapping Lord Touga's form. As the Kiryuu
chieftain lowered the sword first to the side then lifted it
to a defensive position across his chest -- the blade cut
the air in arcs of light -- the young man-at-arms saw the
radiant spirit mimic the movements.
Akio narrowed his eyes against the blinding sight. So the
Light was fully awakened . . . No matter. He would still
conquer and be all that remained of the fallen Champion.
(The world has beaten that weakling once before, and I am
far stronger than that!)
Cobalt blue eyes sprang open, the light of ages shining in
their depths. The infinitely patient being that wore the
look of the Kiryuu prince waited with Love's Honor held in a
ready pose while the Shadow of the Champion raced toward
him. The moment Lord Akio crossed the boundary of the
megalithic ring, the white illumination strengthened into a
blaze that rivaled the sun.
The remaining mortals shouted in awe and terror as the
brilliance forced them to look away or be blinded. Even the
normally skeptical Panther could not deny that something
beyond the ordinary was taking place. When the light
suddenly disappeared, it took the span of a few heartbeats
for those remaining on the battlefield to realize that it
So too were the Phoenix and the Tyger; their horses galloped
out of the stone circle devoid of their riders. Gone also
was the fallen form of the lowlander noblewoman -- and the
mysterious queen-like figure standing watch over Utena's
Juri shook her head, uncertain what to think. The Arisugawa
prince quickly dismissed it and turned her attention to
picking up the pieces. If this was merely a lull in the
battle, she and those still alive and able needed to be
prepared for the next onslaught.
Light and Shadow opposed each other as day and night amid a
sanguine sea of roses. Flanking them to either side were
the bier of the dead Champion from which they had fallen,
and the thorn-torn figure of Love herself to the other.
Huddled among the flowers at Love's feet lay the
bloodstained form of Lady Utena, chest heaving as she fought
Akio lunged at his nemesis, determined to maintain the
momentum he had gained. Touga easily parried the blade
seeking his abdomen, knocking it swiftly to his right. The
Light brought his blade back to the left in a slash at the
Shadow's exposed chest. Akio leapt back a pace. Love's
Honor scored the air where the Shadow had been, the weapon
making a breeze that stirred the Phoenix's lavender mane.
Unwilling to allow himself to be put on the defensive, Akio
pressed forward once more, seeking to bind his blade against
the Champion's own steel. Touga met his charge and the air
resonated with the collision of metal. Eyes full of
seething hate met a gaze of serenity as the men strove each
to press the other back. Without warning Akio lifted his
forward foot and shoved it into his foe's gut, sending the
Kiryuu chieftain reeling.
As Touga fell back he knew Akio would seek to immediately
capitalize on his advantage. When the Shadow rushed forward
once more Touga twisted aside, letting Akio's momentum carry
him past. The dark Fey prince stumbled as he failed to meet
the expected resistance. Quickly regaining his balance, the
Phoenix turned to face his opponent.
Again their eyes met, and wills clashed as steel had a
moment before. (I will kill him,) Akio swore, allowing his
mounting infuriation with Touga's passive expression to add
fuel to the fire that drove him.
But as the heat in the Ohtori prince's eyes rose, the
glacial calm of his opponent transformed into the utter
immovability of a mountain. More certain than ever before
that he would not be defeated, Touga felt no fear. Light
would defeat Shadow and Love would be renewed.
Tension mounted between the opposing forces over a
stretching eternity before, howling like some primordial
beast, Akio surged forward to meet his opposite number.
Again and again the Fey's steel and Love's Honor met and
recoiled, slashed and stabbed. Every blow was parried;
every riposte knocked aside. Back and forth, side to side
they moved, day and night dancing amid that flowery sea.
Akio drove a fearsome stab at Touga's eyes in a sudden
desperate gamble. The Kiryuu prince retreated. Neither man
could overcome the other. Something had to give. Worry
began to trickle across the edges of Touga's calm certainty;
frustration was writ large across the dusky face of the
Shadow. Just as the battle was about to be enjoined once
more, the Light of the World heard a single word.
With that voice came a spectral embrace; love, acceptance,
passion, a perfect togetherness without end wrapped
themselves around him, adding to his strength. Before his
wondering gaze, the blade of Love's Honor was enveloped in a
glimmering, rose-pink light.
Emerald eyes widened in shock. Akio took a step back as he
realized the significance. For the first time since being
cast aside, the Shadow feared for his own existence. "No .
Utena was with him; the Light's beloved -- his inspiration
-- wielded Love's Honor in equal measure. Together they
could undo the tragic mistake that had torn apart that
balance between Love and her Champion.
Now it was the Light of the World in control, his powerful
strokes and swift lunges forcing Akio back. Struggling to
merely defend himself, the Ebon Phoenix kept retreating from
the combined force attempting to bend him to its will. Each
slash of that glowing pink blade before his eyes made his
terror increase; his arms ached from the resounding power
behind each blow he parried. Steel rang out loudly as Touga
forced his opponent to give way with every sweeping step
forward taken. Akio barely countered a forceful lunge;
losing his balance, the dark Fey fell to the rose-strewn
The Light of the World pounced upon the fallen Shadow,
pinning Akio to the ground. Meeting the Phoenix's terrified
gaze with his own peaceful, compassionate one, Touga lifted
the glowing sword high above them both. "I claim you as my
own once more, my Shadow, my passion, my strength."
Akio wanted to cry out in denial, to plead for his continued
existence as a separate entity, but the mesmerizing gaze of
his other half froze him in place. Those deep azure eyes
filled with all he was missing, all he ever longed for, were
the last thing he ever saw.
Touga reversed his hold on the sword. Love's Honor plunged
down, severing the ties between the Champion's Shadow and
the shell of flesh and blood. As darkness swirled around
him, reintegrating itself to the fragment of the Champion
within, the Kiryuu prince closed his eyes and lifted his
head. The rose light surrounding the blade faded as Utena's
presence around him withdrew. In a matter of moments, he
was alone again -- but more whole then he had ever felt
In the distance, cruel vines and hatred-tipped thorns fell
away from the form of the spirit of Love. The sundering had
been undone, her mistake rectified. Once more her partner
Sighing deeply, the Champion of Love opened his eyes, then
glanced momentarily at the shell that had once housed his
darker aspects. A twinge filled him as that part of him
brought to mind Kanae's agony at learning of her husband's
fate. The least that could be done would be to return to
the Ohtori heiress what remained of the man she had known;
there would be closure for her then.
Next his eyes fastened upon the white marble bier there in
the middle of the field of roses. Walking the few paces
distance, the Champion gazed down at the sight. (How odd,
to be staring at my own body and to be aware that were I to
look in the mirror, I would see a face not my own. No, this
visage is mine as well, but . . .)
Clad only in her gorgeous violet hair, Love watched with
tears of joy in her eyes as her beloved gazed down on the
incorruptible shell to which he would return in the fullness
of time. The flesh still held him in its grasp, but what
was once a prison could be an opportunity to experience so
much. To be one of the dreamers instead of merely the dream
. . .
Leaf-green eyes then stared down at the body lying among the
roses. Obligations remained, agreements needed to be
fulfilled. The flesh called to her, drawing her back to its
embrace. Love closed her eyes, accepting the familiar garb
once more. Of all the virtues of Amor, trust was the most
important. Lady Utena was trustworthy; she would not let
those relying upon her down.
He could not stay. Even in these few short moments after
being made spiritually whole, that part of him known as the
prince of the Kiryuu was reasserting itself. Honor and duty
called; there were people in the mortal realm counting on
him. Clad in flesh as he was, he would be better able to
bring the Light of the World to all those in need -- he was
now a part of that realm rather than an outsider seeking to
And he needed to know if Lady Utena yet lived.
Just as he was about to turn, a familiar presence made
itself known. The same endless love surrounded the Champion
as a pair of slender arms embraced him from behind. A smile
on her face, Utena pressed a cheek against Touga's back.
They stood there for an eternity with no need for words,
only touch. They were together -- whole -- as they were
always meant to be. She adored all of him, even the Shadow,
and hoped she could be forgiven. He forgave her and
returned that love. Around them, a warm breeze blew over
the roses and sent a cloud of scarlet petals swirling about.
Where that zephyr touched, the fragrant blooms changed to
"We should return, beloved," Touga finally said, breaking
"Aye," the pink-haired maiden replied. She gave him a
momentary hug. "When we return, Love and her Champion will
slumber once more."
"I know," the Kiryuu chieftain answered while he turned to
face her. He smiled down at her, overjoyed to see her there
and apparently unharmed. "I look forward to the challenge
of discovering this aspect of you, my love. Your quest is
over. It's time to let Lady Utena just enjoy life."
"And I look forward to discovering more about you," she
responded, sea-blue eyes meeting his dark azure. "Though I
have been impressed with what I've seen so far," the slender
"I'm honored," Touga said, taking one of her hands in his
and raising it to his lips to kiss the back. Once he
released her, he slid Love's Honor into the scabbard at his
side. His usual weapon had been dropped to the ground in
favor of pulling the Champion's blade from the earth into
which it had been stabbed.
When he held out his hands to either side and offered her a
warm hug, Utena willingly stepped forward into his embrace.
"Prince Juri! Prince Juri, come quickly!"
Coming awake, the Arisugawa chieftain growled at the
annoyance. Against her better judgement, she had ordered
the survivors to make camp at the foot of the
megalith-adorned hill. Her sunset-hued locks falling loose
like a tousled waterfall to her waist, the Panther took a
moment to brush aside the strands tickling her face while
she pulled herself from the bedroll and stood. "So what is
it?" she asked of the man standing there.
"You need to come up to the ring, my prince," the Arisugawa
Juri stifled a sigh and pulled her nearby cloak on over her
battle-stained clothing. Of those that had rode out from
Grove, only a third were not casualties of some sort. Half
of the ones lost were dead, the other half suffering wounds
that would probably cripple them for the rest of their
lives. All were to be commended for facing -- and besting
-- a foe beyond anything she had ever experienced before.
Her clan had the greatest losses, but that had to be
expected since the Arisugawa had been the largest of the
group in numbers. Of the men from Clan Kiryuu, two were
dead and one severely wounded, while the lowlander
noblewoman's man was hurt but not seriously.
Night had fallen hours after the argent blaze had engulfed
the standing stones and driven off the uncanny foe the
highlanders had faced. While waiting to see which of the
battling princes would return, Juri had seen to it that the
wounded were tended as best could be done out in the field
and the dead buried. A glance to the campfire showed her
that some of her men were on watch; a look to the sky gave
her the impression that the hour was deep in the night.
"Well, lead on, then," she ordered.
The dark-haired warrior turned and strode off. Trailing
behind him, the Golden Panther climbed the grassy rise,
wondering darkly what it was she was being awakened to see.
The moment she stepped between two of the massive, ancient
granite stones, a voice greeted her.
"Good morning, my lady prince."
Juri blinked in surprise. Standing there in the very center
of the circle was Lord Touga -- looking as proud and
handsome as always -- his arms around the slender figure of
Lady Utena. At their feet lay the obviously dead body of
the aggressor, Lord Akio. So the Tyger had conquered after
The Arisugawa chieftain cooly smiled. "I would never have
forgiven you had you made me camp out here an entire year."
The day was a glorious one, the springtime sunshine dancing
among the boughs of the evergreen forest. The small
procession made their way along the dirt trail, the warriors
acting as guards chatting amiably amongst themselves. After
all, home was only a short distance away.
The center of the group was dominated by an ox-drawn wagon,
the pair of massive wooden wheels rolling smoothly over the
packed earth. Within the conveyance rode the one seriously
injured Kiryuu, his condition remaining stable despite the
travel. Arranged about the wagon were the remaining
warriors while ahead of the lumbering animal pulling it rode
Wakaba and Tatsuya. Once again the pair of lowlanders were
holding a rather animated conversation.
Touga glanced over to his side, smiling at the maiden riding
next to him. They had spent much of the journey talking
about all sorts of things, taking the time to get to know
one another better. So far, he was quite impressed though
there was one thing that bothered him.
Utena felt her companion's eyes upon her once more. She
returned his smile even as she thought back on all that had
transpired since they had awakened to find themselves
holding one another in the center of the Whispering Knights.
Lord Ruka was dead, and had been since the day he had
disappeared in the middle of winter. Touga carried within
him memories from the part of the Champion that had been
Lord Akio, and he had been able to relate to Prince Juri her
vassal's fate. In scouting the lands around the Rose Gate,
the Phoenix had come upon a stranger. The azure-haired man
had challenged Akio's right to be there; in the ensuing
battle, the Tsuchiya prince had been killed. Later
recognizing who the man had been, the Phoenix had decided to
use the situation to his advantage. Learning of Lady
Shiori's almost obsessive devotion, he had talked the
noblewoman into being his spy within the Tenjou entourage,
pointing her to where she could meet up with the holder of
the Champion's brooch. As had been discussed with Prince
Juri, Shiori had disguised herself as a servant and had
shown up at the Tenjou estate, begging to be given shelter.
Touga had lead Prince Juri to the shallow grave out in the
woods where the Ohtori prince had buried his victim. At the
very least, Ruka was able to be interred with his ancestors
and the Tsuchiya would go on to declare another prince.
The news had broken Lady Shiori's heart. Though Touga was
able to remove the ring from the brunette lady's finger and
thus free Shiori from any lingering obligation to the Fey
prince, nothing anyone could do had been able to lift the
young noble's spirits. When they had left Grove, Lady
Shiori was still shut away in her room wallowing in grief.
Prince Juri had seen to it that Touga and Utena were
well-provisioned for the journey ahead, though she was
obviously affected by her childhood friend's grief.
Pledging to them the Arisugawa's thanks and friendship, the
Panther had stood on the battlements of the fortress and
seen them off. The sunset-haired chieftain had also seen to
it that the mortal remains of Lord Akio were taken back to
the custody of his wife, Lady Kanae. Both Utena and Touga
knew, deep within, that the Ohtori heiress deserved that
Hopefully, the Phoenix's death would avert the upcoming
conflict and the summer would be a peaceful one. The
planting would be well underway by now, and it looked to be
a good growing season so far. His mind on that, the Red
Tyger asked, "My lady, how long has it been since you've
been on your lands?"
Utena blinked, startled by the question. "I've been away
for a year and a half."
"Now that all's said and done, it's probably time for you to
oversee them for a while."
"But you asked me to stay on as your guest . . ."
The Kiryuu chieftain nodded. "Aye, I did, but I've been
thinking. War's been averted, and you have no way of
knowing how well your stewards are managing your lands. As
the lady of the holdings, you have an obligation."
"As do you," Utena pointed out.
"True, but I have a sister to whom I can hand the
chieftainship. Do you have any family that can oversee your
"No, but . . . Hand the chieftainship? Why would you?" the
slender lowlander asked in astonishment.
Touga gestured to the surrounding world. "I am the Champion
of Love, the Light of the World. I have obligations that go
beyond one clan, but I must see to the others or be
untrustworthy. By divesting myself of the chieftainship, I
can fulfill them all."
The rose-haired maiden frowned in thought. He had a point.
She too had promises to keep now that the one made so long
ago had been discharged.
Noting her expression, the scarlet-maned highlander smiled.
"Fear not. One of the first things I shall do is help you
see to it that your lands are well organized. From there,
we can take it moment by moment. Besides, if I'm to be your
husband in time, your people really need the courtesy of
having me introduced."
"Husband?" Utena asked, staring at him.
Touga laughed. True, they were still coming to learn about
one another, but the emotion they felt was one that
transcended all of time. Neither one would be truly happy
without the other.
But that was a matter for another time, when negotiations
could be made and contracts forged. For now, it was a time
to just be grateful to be alive and in a world of such rich
This has been a blast to write. Starting with a sudden idea
I got from reading a role-playing game scenario, it's been
something of a whirlwind writing session for me, considering
it's only taken me about two months to write it out. I hope
you've enjoyed this romp through a land full of magic and
liked seeing the Utena cast in these roles. I honestly
think this is one of the best things I've written.
Of course, it wouldn't be near as good were it not for my
close friend/beta reader/editor, Corvus. Once again, he's
helped me out in ways beyond merely how well I phrased this
or that. I may have dug the diamond from the ground, but
he's the one that's really made it shine.
If you've wondered why I've not tied up *all* the loose
ends, be assured that I plan another fic in this world in
the near future. I've enjoyed the realm of Lord Touga and
Lady Utena so much that I plan to make a return trip.
Thanks again, dear readers, for taking the time to look over
my work. C&C is always welcome and I can be emailed at