So, in an attempt to make the day go by a wee bit quicker, I thought of another answer to the "Who is Mario?" question.... See, I've been thinking. We know that reincarnation of the soul works in odd ways in conjunction with genes, lineage, etc. We know that souls can be eaten, placed into inanimate objects, held indefinatly by Great Weapons, put back into bodies, and hang around a dead body for a few days just to see if someone will come along and reanimate them back to life. We know Mario was a Jhereg. We know we've never seen the guy after Adron had his hissy-cow and blew up a city, no matter what we wish to infer from Aliera sitting in her room with a glow around her, having a cigarette and smiling dreamily. (Okay, so I can infer a great deal.:) But what do we really know about this guy? Not a whole lot. And I can't trust anything Steve says, because what would he know? He only relates what Vlad and Paarfi tell him, right? And we know Vlad and Paarfi are about as reliable as a Ford that's been left in the ocean for a few decades before having Kool-Aid put into the gas tank. (Okay, bad analogy. That might make a Ford run better.) See, I think, during the backlash of "Adron's Doh!", when Sethra was teleporting the Orb and Aliera and herself and Mario out of the Palace, Mario's soul, like Aliera's, went flying off into the stratosphere, all lost and alone. Verra, feeling bad that her daughter's lover got done blown up, sent his soul skipping through various creatures until it finaly landed, as the egg was developing, into the leathery lap of Loiosh! Now, Mario/Loiosh found he kinda liked Vlad; an assassin, a man after his own heart. He was used to saying "Boss" anyway, so he started calling Vlad that. He helped Vlad smooth out the skills that would raise him up through the Assassin Ranks. He doesn't tell Vlad because he thinks it's ironic that Vlad, who's always asking about Mario, is carrying the Emperor-Killer around on his shoulders! Of course, Mario's fine being a jhereg, because it means he can get around without anyone knowing who he is. Plus, he secretly loves hearing everyone talk about Mario like he's a god. It makes him feel all manly and stuff. This explains why Loiosh is always flying over to Aliera and trying to get head-scritches from her, too. Also, it explains why Loiosh/Mario is always heading out Vlad's window to "fly around looking for food". He's *really* rushing off to see Aliera and get in some extra head-scritches. Of course, I would *never* assume to know what they do beyond head-scritches; and I refrain, out of respect for Aliera and dread of Mario getting his body back and coming after me, from speculating on such. As for Rocza, she's just a nice cover-story.... And, of course, Mario/Loiosh doesn't know how to get back into his body, so he's waiting for the right direction to show itself before he makes his move. Besides, he knows Verra won't let him come to too much harm anyway, her daughter being in love with him and all. Any thoughts? Hey, I *said* I was bored...:) Chris "So farewell hope, and with hope, farewell fear, Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost; Evil, be thou my Good" - John Milton - 'Paradise Lost'