On Sunday February 22nd, I had a chance to talk with King Lazarus Rang about his then brand-new kingdom. As you can see, the story was on-going even as we talked, and much has happened since this interview. But this is what was happening then...
Vulpine Eldrich: Hello, everyone! I'm here today with Lazarus Rang, King of the Kingdom of White Light. Thank you, Lazarus, for inviting me into your most spacious and impressive log home. I take it this is the center of your kingdom?
Lazarus Rang: Aye, here and our Garden.
Vulpine Eldrich: So tell me about how a Kingdom gets the name of White Light, and what sort of Garden does it take to host such a kingdom?
Lazarus Rang: I can show you our Garden if you like. It is adjacent to the "Log Palace"
Lazarus Rang: Come, and I will tell you the tale.
We left the house and walked into the garden...
Lazarus Rang: This is our Garden we are working on as our Public area. My dear old friend Luna McMillan made this tree & swing system for me.
Vulpine Eldrich: I see an impressive building of marble. It seems to glow with... white light?
Lazarus Rang: Our bath gazebo (still a work in progress.)
Lazarus Rang: I rezzed March 1, 2007, and worked to learn building my first three weeks in SL. I’ve never stopped since.
Vulpine Eldrich: But eventually you began building more than bath houses and began building a kingdom in Tiny Empires. How did that come about?
Lazarus Rang: I met my partner Aurora Llewellyn September 7, 2007 and she really is the pivot in most of my story here, including TE. We were not together as partners for the first five months, but friends. I was married in SL, and it broke up. I needed a distraction while the hurt healed.
Lazarus Rang: A lady I was dating introduced me to TE, but it lasted much longer than that relationship. Aurora joined me very early on in TE, one my first three subjects. We built our relationship while we played, but TE was never our focus.
Vulpine Eldrich: So you played Tiny Empires as more of a sideline, while you pursued other interests?
Lazarus Rang: I moved VERY quickly in TE. I joined under Egypt, and made Prince in 10 days, but it was a sideline. I owned and ran a club & rental area called Lovers Hideaway.
Vulpine Eldrich: So you were a Prince in TE, almost by accident, but mostly a club owner. But eventually, you became King. What changed?
Lazarus Rang: Time changed. The club was never successful, so after a year I gave up. RL finances determined that I needed to sell the land. This is where the story gets personal but bears heavily on what happened.
Lazarus Rang: Aurora had a RL stroke while we were online last spring. When she recovered, I asked her to partner and marry. We lived our life at an accelerated pace, not knowing if any day would be our last together. We wanted to have SL babes as well.
Lazarus Rang: In RL, she is my best friend, and I wanted her to have the best experiences possible. I promised I would make her my Queen in every way, but her health declined soon after we married May, 30, 2008, and her laptop broke. I ended up with a lot of time alone, so TE became my focus. I followed my liege, Lodi McMillan thru several kingdoms as we grew.
Vulpine Eldrich: You were still a Prince, then?
Lazarus Rang: Oh, yes, I never fell below Prince since the day I made it. In Aurora's absence a young woman joined us, as a submissive, but eventually it evolved. Aurora became healthier and returned, so she asked us to be in a poly-marriage. It seemed wonderful, we really grew and were popular in our Kingdom of that time.
Vulpine Eldrich: Which kingdom was this?
Lazarus Rang: Home, under King BackHome Soon. He was best man when Aurora & I married, and is still a good friend.
Vulpine Eldrich: So you were at Home, with Aurora and your other wife. What happened next?
Lazarus Rang: This young woman was a drama magnet. She was with someone else a week after the marriage, and it turned very ugly in 2 weeks. I posted something she said in group chat out of anger, and to keep order BackHome sent me to TE prison.
Lazarus Rang: I accepted it as a price for my foolishness. Several people IM'ed me in prison LOL. One sent a cake with a file in it.
Vulpine Eldrich: I trust you didn't break a tooth on it.
Lazarus Rang: After I was out, I met the person. It turned out she was a daughter of King Angel Cordoso of Amber. She and her sister befriended me and Aurora.
Lazarus Rang: Then Aurora's health declined again. In real life, she has Lupus, and it is getting worse, life threatening. I have not had a week with my SL wife since the 1st week of November.
Lazarus Rang: The second sister in Amber was dumped by her partner, and you can see where the story is going... Two lonely, high ranking people in TE. We bonded, and I was at a point I felt I was a liability to Home after my outburst.
Lazarus Rang: I had a princess there move under me, cause a big drama, then when I warned her that BackHome was considering banishing her if she did not stop, she left me while BackHome and his Queen Lodi were trying to set up my ascension.
Vulpine Eldrich: So you had less than twenty thousand in total acres then?
Lazarus Rang: I had 25,000 acres, but I felt trapped. 5000 said they would return Home if I left. I had about 200 people under me.
Lazarus Rang: Bunny (the princess from Amber- I use her name only to keep it all straight) offered to liege under Aurora if I moved to Amber. I agreed only if King Angel and King Backhome formed an alliance to protect both kingdoms. So I moved, Bunny lieged, and my other 5000 acres moved home.
Lazarus Rang: Bunny had over 50k acres. We were half of Amber. Things were good until a month ago.
Lazarus Rang: I seem to attract people with serious health issues. Bunny found she has terminal cancer. A week later she was pushing a relationship between me and her SL sister, now our wife, Sekmet. She pulled further and further away, began to act strangely.
Lazarus Rang: At first she lived with us, then three days later she left. Then she removed most contact, but called me her best friend. A week ago, she entered a two day fishing contest at Wicked World, where she and Sekmet work.
Lazarus Rang: Anyhow, during the last week, Bunny's actions have rocked and nearly destroyed a kingdom and it came down to this. We had a malcontent that was asked to leave Amber named DeathRitual that she was talking to. He is a very nasty, foul-mouthed young man with serious hatred to the world.
Lazarus Rang: Also, just after she found she was sick, she made me promise to protect her downline and friends.
Vulpine Eldrich: Protect them from what?
Lazarus Rang: I was to care for them and keep them from being broken up or raided. We were going to ascend later, after we hit 100K and made Amber #1. At the time, we had 88,000 acres, 66,000 under Bunny.
Lazarus Rang: Last Sunday night, she had lieged DeathRitual under her, and made a bet on the fishing tourney that if she won he would stay and never ascend. If she lost, she would let him reliege and move under him. She lost. I did not know until after the bet was made.
Vulpine Eldrich: When and how did you find out?
Lazarus Rang: I found out Monday morning when Bunny told me she was ahead by 100 points. I was not happy at all. I did not like or trust this person. Neither did the upper levels of Amber, he was infamous for drama.
Vulpine Eldrich: I can imagine. So, if I understand this correctly, first you swear to protect the line from being raided or stolen, then she puts them all on the line with a fishing bet, which she then loses.
Lazarus Rang: Yes.
Vulpine Eldrich: What did you do then?
Lazarus Rang: Tuesday she was crying, needing hugs. Tuesday night and Wednesday, Death was taunting me in open chat and IM. I went to a couple of her major downline and told them that they did not have to leave Amber if she went to him. I refused to take him under me, and Aurora was not on to put him under her. (Bunny was Aurora’s only subject.)
Lazarus Rang: Thursday morning Death was no longer in Amber.
Vulpine Eldrich: Did he leave voluntarily?
Lazarus Rang: No, he was ejected from the group by the GV's request, and left.
Lazarus Rang: In the meantime, one of the downline told Bunny I said they did not have to follow. She became enraged, sent me a very nasty IM, and left Aurora. I started seeing my alts and their lines stripped, and as Viceroy I could not ascend.
Lazarus Rang: I had to leave Amber to restart my HUD as King Angel was in UK time, and I was in US EST. I made an angry outburst in group chat that Bunny had broken her Promise to Aurora, and was ejected from the group Thursday night… from the group, but still in the Kingdom.
Lazarus Rang: I lieged to a friend, Queen Angella Chesnokv in Tintagel, long enough to get my path restarted. Bunny was ripping me up all night Thursday. By 10 AM Friday, I still had 21,500 acres and 1.2 billion in gold when the path went live again. I pushed the button while I still could.
Lazarus Rang: I had no Kingdom name, no base, no plan, except to save the work of the people that stayed with me. Sekmet and I worked all night Friday to get our alts back, only to see Bunny strip all she could. We fell back to 18,500 acres, from 88,000 a day earlier. I never felt so betrayed in TE.
Lazarus Rang: I talked to Angel for 45 minutes before RL work Friday, only to hear that "Bunny was family." He did not intervene as a Monarch, so I had no reservation ascending.
Vulpine Eldrich: So there are about a hundred people and seventy thousand acres... where?
Lazarus Rang: More like 300 people, and 100 left on me. I’m now down to about 70, but they are people with me since last summer who wanted me to ascend anyhow.
Lazarus Rang: The story continues to this minute. I am getting a constant feed today of IM from conversations of people from Bunny's line.
Vulpine Eldrich: And the others are under Bunny, who is under Death, in another kingdom?
Lazarus Rang: Death went to the kingdom of Darkness ... he is so goth. Bunny left Amber and went under him around 1 AM last night. Amber dropped eight places in rank. People telephoned me to tell me.
Vulpine Eldrich: And when asked the name of your Kingdom, you told Ultralite... the Kingdom of White Light.
Lazarus Rang: Hello darling
Sekmet Karu: Hi hun. Hi Vulpine.
Lazarus Rang: Vulpine, my concubine wife, Sekmet Karu
Vulpine Eldrich: Hello there! Lazarus was telling me of the ongoing drama within the kingdoms. I understand you are both having a very adventuresome time right now.
Sekmet Karu: Yes, it is adventuresome, but very sad too.
Lazarus Rang: White Light was not our first choice for a name. We submitted, in all seriousness, Ayekwitte. ("I QUIT TE")
Sekmet Karu: It was not acceptable.
Lazarus Rang: It was not allowed, the Emperor said it was a joke. We had a pretty curt first IM. I called him a pompous ass. I am less diplomatic as stress increases.
Vulpine Eldrich: And stress levels have been quite high lately, I'm sure.
Sekmet Karu: Trying to save friendships is the hardest.
Lazarus Rang: I met with Sekmet and my other main Princess, Shayri Nightfire, Friday afternoon, trying to find a name. White Light was a compromise. I wanted something to reflect Aurora. In all this, she is the heart of this kingdom, even when absent.
Sekmet Karu: Yes, I suggested it and voted against the name.
Lazarus Rang: LOL She did. But it is to reflect elements of hope and goodness. White light in most beliefs and religions is an embodiment of goodness and blessing. It holds all colors, all warmth, and it banishes darkness. Without hope, we would quit. It still hurts… the SL and even RL friendships lost on the way.
Sekmet Karu: On that note hun, I have to go to my meeting.
Lazarus Rang: Love you, hon. I will be here, whatever happens in work.
Sekhmet left us at this point
Lazarus Rang: We worry for Sekmet's work. Bunny is a manager at Wicked World. Their friendship is badly wounded. TE may not be meant to, but it seems to bring out the aggressive worst in people. I try to keep my people out of it.
Vulpine Eldrich: So you're now assembling a kingdom from the ashes, so to speak. A group of people who can come together as friends out of all of the mess?
Lazarus Rang: Yes. Let me read our charter:
Lazarus Rang: The Tiny Empires Kingdom of White Light is a kingdom to come to when you are tired of the BS and betrayal and backstabbing of the other kingdoms. We are the inactive's retirement home of TE. You park here, save your acres, and go play SL the way it was supposed to be before you got addicted to TE. No SABO, NO DRAMA, NO ROBBING YOUR FRIENDS. And we are small enough the Trader comes often. Actively seeking Viceroys and Vicereines to help keep people rewarded.
Lazarus Rang: woo hoo!
Lazarus Rang: [21:48] Shayri Nightfire: woot laz i just got a duchess! with 466 acres! let the titles flow baby wooooo!
Vulpine Eldrich: Yes, you're a major kingdom now. The Kingdom of White Light is ranked number 101 on a map showing 101 major kingdoms.
Lazarus Rang: THAT is my kind of drama!
Vulpine Eldrich: So, if your kind of drama continues, what will happen to the Kingdom of White Light in the months to come?
Lazarus Rang: We will be the retirement home of TE players tired of the BS and drama.
Vulpine Eldrich: Will they still be active? In your vision of them, that is.
Lazarus Rang: A place people can park the acres they work hard for and go live a Second Life without worry of it being taken away by a bad relationship break up or angry decision in the night ..... or a stupid, un-well-thought-out bet on a game.
Lazarus Rang: The hundreds of hours people put into TE is not a chip in a casino. I would not be willing to give it up in RL, I will not in SL. Time is the one thing we cannot replace.
Lazarus Rang: Vulpine, I love my SL partner more than my estranged wife. I am so afraid of losing her and wasting the time we have left on TE and petty BS in SL. I am leaving in a week to do a 4000 mile road trip to see her and meet her family.
Lazarus Rang: People matter, not faux acres or virtual gold or rank or kingdom names. We in TE need to stop losing that perspective. People get hurt in SL.
Lazarus Rang: December 17, 2007, the night my first SL wife ended our marriage for another woman, I had a minor RL heart attack. There are people behind the screens and keys. Actions here seem less considered and more callous many times, behind avatars.
Lazarus Rang: Then there are some of the best people you ever meet, too. TE is supposed to be a game to promote friendship and network, but somehow it grows increasingly twisted. Many Monarchs are sharing that with each other. How we stop it, I do not know.
Lazarus Rang: I took my own path. I fully expect to be attacked, sabotaged, and harassed for a while by those upset over the last few weeks. But a wise mantra: This too shall pass.
Lazarus Rang: That is my story.
Vulpine Eldrich: Indeed, it shall. Wow. There's not much more to say after that. Thanks for sharing with us.
Lazarus Rang: I will answer more questions if you think of any, just much more briefly, LOL.
Vulpine Eldrich: lol, usually, I ask about experiences as a monarch, and kingdom identity, but you've pretty much answered those. As for history of the kingdom, that's obviously still in the making, and you've outlined your hopes for it.
Vulpine Eldrich: If I had anything to add, or ask, I suppose it would be, after what you've been through, would you recommend Tiny Empires as a game to someone who never played it, and what would you tell them about it, briefly?
Lazarus Rang: To someone starting out, I would say, try TE, but if it gives you sadness, stress, or effects a friendship, take off the HUD a week and think about what is important before you wear it. A kingdom is not worth one lost friend.
Vulpine Eldrich: Spoken with the voice of true experience. Thank you for your time, and best of luck to the Kingdom of White Light.