THREE BROTHERS ⋅ A NEW GOD ⋅ CITY OF SALT ⋅ LAKE OF DREAMS ⋅ SUSPENDED! ⋅ THE TWO STREETS ⋅ ON THE EDGE OF THE MARSHS ⋅ BLACKSUN ⋅ DEMON ⋅ GAZELLE ⋅ THE HARDRIIM ⋅ RIDER ⋅ THE FLYER ⋅ ARABIAN NIGHTS ⋅ THE EMPTY MIRROR ⋅ THE SOLDIER ⋅ THE BICYCLE ⋅ THE CROCODILE ⋅ THE THREE TRAVELERS ⋅ OCEANSONG ⋅ THE FLUTE ⋅ THE TREE ⋅ THE TOWER
Few today notice the large number of hardriim in their midst, staring silently from their lookouts atop municipal buildings, in ancient fountains, or hidden within the sacred glades of formal gardens. But this was not always so. Many years ago experiments were undertaken to determine the true nature of a hardriim. It was found that a real hardriim is harder than bone, slowly calcifying in all the limbs until a stonelike quality is exhibited. One learned man of science declared that when somnambulating, a man becomes hard. Others stated that it could be very dangerous to waken a person in this state, as the stone limbs could become permanent. It was eventually determined that an absolute belief in the unfathomable was the most frequent cause of a true hardriim. This state is rarely encountered in daily life, but is observed in saints, lovers, and dictators. The common denominator is the intensity and delusional quality of the absolute belief. In some circles it was pondered why there are so few female hardriim. Experimenters found that the rigidity of the male belief system was simply far greater than that of a woman. They also found that hardriim are is capable of astounding feats and that their stone limbs feel little or no pain. Some claimed that a hardriim could be created using mesmerism; others likened it to the sleeper whose soul leaves the body, never to return; and yet others claimed that the repeated abuse of the sap of the baanisterii caapi vine would produce a hardriim of unparalleled density. It was also found that an excess of whirls from the dervish could initiate the condition - and that it could be undone by a simple reversal in the direction of the rotation. Some postulated that an overwhelming love, turned to obsession and madness, could produce a hardriim, but others dismissed this as pure priapism. The rigidity of mind of a dictator was shown to make the most dense hardriim; witness the manifold stone monuments found in the elegant parks and boulevards of their many fiefdoms. A preponderance of statuary is sure evidence that the dictator, in the midst of somnambulation, was awakened by a telegram in the night declaring dissent in the provinces; or perhaps outlining a new war to be pursued; or worse still, revealing a fine truth in need of swift and absolute suppression. It was found that there is little one can do in such instances but erect the stone hardriim on a pedestal and search for a replacement tyrant as quickly as possible.