Ashwood's Sketchbook



  • “The battle of light and darkness is not always so clear. Sometimes it is grey and muddled with obstacles and complications like a heavy fog. Train your soul to shine brightly through these times and you will not falter in your step.”

    There is nothing that confuses me, and sickens me, more than the pursuit of power among us humans. Our lives are ever so fleeting compared to so many other races. It seems silly to focus on something that will only grant us brief satisfaction over long term happiness. Why do some of us bother with the darkness that is greed or power?

    Is it because we want to feel superior? What is the point if we all will end up on the same place?

    I’ll tell you what, there isn’t one. There is no use. Having a big fancy mansion or a fancy title does nothing for you inevitably. And for most, it is a curse.

    This power and wealth are double edge swords. On one hand, it could be used for something good and pure, but on the other- which is usually the case- it can be used for pure greed and darkness.

    Take a look at my newest friend, Evander. He is of the Dauntinghorn House with a family that is intimately tied with royalty. He is a good man at heart and soul, this I can feel without a doubt. But his titles and his money has only ever plagued him since birth. He never had the joy of loving parents. He never experienced making choices for himself until he was an adult. His money is wasted on bad habits such as drinking to numb his deep-set pain that I can tell dwells deep beneath those handsome eyes. He’s only twenty-seven and he is troubled with a lifetime of sorrow.

    What has his money and power done for him? Complicated his life. Sure, maybe he was comfortable. Sure! Maybe he has things that allow him to better help people, but at what cost? Personal freedom and happiness is important too. Though it’s noble to give that up to help others, it isn’t healthy and you need to find a limit. I’m not saying he should stop doing what he is doing, actually I support him. But he absolutely needs to find time to work through the number his CRAPPY father did to him. - If anyone heard me talk like that, someone would have my head. Yeesh.

    Maybe being an orphan has given me this point of view. Maybe I’m just silly and naive. I don’t know. I wish I had more answers to these topics. I wish I had more solutions. In the end, I guess it’s human nature to try and be the best, or try and be the leader. We all want to be recognized and loved. Even me.

    Despite that, I’m having a hard time actually deciphering this.. ‘Chancellor’ Elodie’s intentions or ambitions. From all that I’ve heard and gathered, this woman is extremely nefarious and only attained the power of the position because the elections were a mess. Which is extremely unfortunate because now we’re in a bit of a predicament. My Lord really has blessed me in meeting Evan. Becoming a retainer of his house means I will not have to worry about this troublesome adventurers tax - or worry about my mouth getting me in massive trouble. Maybe. Possibly. Who am I kidding, I’ll probably still get into trouble.

    Number of smiles obtained so far: 18.



  • A new entry appears in the sketchbook.

    Oh dear.
    So much has happened so far. I really must say, I really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really really, really, really really really really

    REALLY

    Dislike the warden right now.

    It’s not that I don’t respect him. I do. However, every single time I try and bring justice to his attention, he whines and complains about how I am interrupting his ‘studies’ to do his damn job. If he didn’t want to be Warden, or conduct the responsibilities of such a prestigious role, then maybe he shouldn’t have accepted the position. It’s like grinding nails on a chalkboard! Utterly infuriating! I have to pray, silently, twice as hard when conversing with him to keep a smile and stop my temper. I can’t stand a man who rather allow criminals to run around rampant than actually do a job he was appointed to sodding do. Even if that means bringing in petty criminals like Boris.

    And I get it. Evander says ‘He’s the Warden, he shouldn’t have to deal with it.’ To that I say, ‘horseradish’. Yes! I’m sorry but I practically handed a new recruit to him on a platter. A sweet gnomish girl with a pension for justice and clearing out Old Town who was thinking of joining the militia. And he says no because she’s gnomish? Is he truly stupid? Not all gnomes are blithering idiots! This is a secretive race known for their communion with nature and innovative spirit! Hells! A lot of Gond followers are gnomes!- The exact god he worships!!!

    Is this truly the man I must rely on to carry out the laws? A lazy, uncompassionate, hard-hearted man with a rediculous view on a race that encomapasses MANY of the followers of his exact own church? Utterly ridiculous. Utterly, completely, stupid.

    This makes me want to rap my head against a wall. Morninglord, give me strength, or so help me I’m very close to giving him an enriching divinely fury-filled lecture to last several days.

    I am trying my best to like this man. I am trying my best to work with him. But I am coming to my wits end. Thank the Commander of Creativity for both Evander and my patience.

    I suppose that’s enough ranting there.

    We really have more pressing matters, I suppose, to be worrying over. Like finding a high priest of Lathandar to lead a divine march on the church of Bane in Old Town. Evander says we shall have to speak with the Lady Lord of Eveningstar. Lahl, I think her name is. I am told that she is a priestess of considerable skill and power or is at least a high devout of the faith and may know who we can speak with. We will be clearing out the church of bane and bringing hope and faith back to the Old Town. Which I, personally, am ecstatic over.

    I also spied a temple of Ilmater in Old Town’s district, wedged between two cramped houses. I have decided to speak with some of the people of Old Town and try to see what they desire, as well. I feel a voice for those innocent of the gang’s crimes at least be heard and considered.

    And- Evander is finally up. I’ll have to continue writing later.



  • [And added note is appended to the last entry.]

    Number of smiles attained: 56.

    Note to self: Daxx has a very lovely smile. Get him to smile more.



  • She wondered if she could get in trouble for this. Does climbing onto the rooftops count as breaking and entering? Would it count as public buffoonery? Hm..
    The city was silent for once. It wasn’t something she had ever expected out of such a populated place. The drunkards and night-goers had finally fallen asleep, and the working class had yet to rise from their beds. The sky slowly started to turn from the deep black of the night to the softer shades of blue, purple, red, and pink.

    Stars still twinkled through the atmosphere, and in the distance the moon was starting to fall on the horizon. Her lips curled upwards as the soft twitter of the morning birds started to sing their praises to the commander of creativity. Her eyes closed as she lifted her head, the wind gently tickling her face and neck. She shifted so that she leaned over her knees, propping her arms on them as her eyes faced towards the sunrise.

    In the distance, she could hear a mother yelling at her children to get up. She heard the local baker opening his store down the street. And off to the side a dog started to bark, followed by the squeal and growl of a cat.

    She breathed, inhaling the morning mist. Her lungs filled with life as she opened her eyes and took in the world. This was what it meant to be alive. This is what it meant be in love. This is why it meant to have hope. This- is what peace was meant to be. The wind picked up, pulling her blonde hair over her face. Her fingers found one another, lacing together.
    If only these people could rise above what they were. If only they could see what she saw. The world- it was filled with beauty and grace. This society they’d created, there was more to this than this town. More than this city. She exhaled the breath she held. Kirinwood has given her so much. She wished she could share what she’d learned with them all. Without the nature that we were born into, we wouldn’t have these cities or walls. We wouldn’t have classes or prestige. Civilization was born from community, from nature. How could they ignore it now? Humility, acceptance, vigilance, and common care for one another. These values had been lost somewhere between the stones being laid and the countless wars fought. This is what evil wanted. Evil wants that baker to fail. It wants those children to grow up to be thugs. It wants that dog to become rabid. It wants death, and poverty, and separation. Did a noble ever think to stop and appreciate what they truly have without feeling the pants of greed or pride?
    If a king could take a queen from common birth, could those of high society learn to love those lowborn?
    The answer is yes. Yes they could. But most don’t want to. Their pride and their need for self gratification gets in the way.
    It is natural to want to better oneself. It’s natural to always keep growing and seek self perfection. But at what point do you draw the line? This prayer didn’t seem to be going as exactly planned.

    The lathanderite smiled to herself as the sun raised further. Perhaps this silence is for a reason. Are you teaching us to fend for ourselves, Lathander? Are you teaching us that we need to learn to grow on our own two feet? To take a stand? Is this why you do not speak?
    Perhaps humanity needs to learn to stop relying so much on their parents. The gods have done much for us, good and bad. When will we learn that actions have consequences? When will humanity learn that this inequality, this unbalanced society doesn’t work? When will we gain our compassion back?
    The sun’s gaze beamed down on the city as the last of its light rose above the landscape, showering the citizens in light and warmth. The retainer lifted herself up from her perch of reflection, closing her eyes and baring her face towards the warmth. She stands there for a good few minutes until she felt ready to leave for the day. Silently, she moved to the side of the building and climbed down the wall of vines, leaving her thoughts behind.



  • A new entry appears in the sketchbook.

    How many times I will end up here? Time and time again, I put my trust into others and it seems only Evander is the one I can trust. Bhaliir.. I thought.. I thought maybe I’d begun to crack the surface. Perhaps I was foolish to think I could make him my friend. I can’t honestly tell if he is plotting or is genuine. The other day.. He addressed everyone else by their last names. But when he addressed me, he used my first name and took his helm off to look me in the eyes.

    I.. I thought it meant something.

    Perhaps, I am being a foolish country girl. Perhaps, I am nothing more than a pawn. What does he hope to accomplish? Does he want me to fawn over him? Is that it?

    I don’t fawn over people. Especially men. /Especially noble men/. I’m not stupid enough to know that he’ll see me as an equal. Or- at least respect me. I know in a real battle I could never best him, and by that degree.. Yes. He is better than me. But I - I will get stronger. I think he knows that too.
    After today, I can barely look at him. He knows it too. I can tell. And there isn’t shit I can do about it if what he is planning with Elodie are his true intentions. Because I’m not highborn. It would be my word, Daxx, and Christophs against his. At least, not until I marry into a noble family. I thought he was such a good man. I thought- he was different. And honestly.. I hope he is. I really hope this is a ploy. A trick.

    To think, I used to really like him.
    Please, Morninglord, guide him. Help him make the right choice. What happens next may determine whether many live or die.



  • Evander and I decided to build a home in Tilverton. Though, I wanted to do something that’d contribute to the community. Something, I could do when I am older and unable to do what I do in my youth. A place to settle. Somewhere, we can call Home. Maybe raise a few kids..

    Growing up in the temple, they tried to teach me how to be a priestess. And because of that, I did receive education on tending to the sick and injured. I do not have divine spells, and I am terrible with magic. - but I am very good at tending to physical wounds and herbal remedies. You need to be able to when you’re on the road. Especially if you get sick. And I fortunately have knowledge on this. Opening an apothecary makes sense. I can do this.

    I know I can provide the funds and get laborers to work to build it. Plus, we do have money coming in from Evander’s house. I’ll have to talk to him about saving money for building.

    I think that having a chauntea blessed altar would be good to have in the greenhouse. Finding a priestess is really important. I’ll have to find a priest or priestess for a Lathander alter too. It’ll be important to have both. The Morninglords light provides food for Chauntea’s plants and soil. We could probably get the Gond temple to put in a nice irrigation system for the plants. I am really excited about this. It’s a breath of fresh air from my man problems.

    The plans to declare a Lathander divine March on the banite temple continues. I will sacrifice some of my youth and vitality in order to cure the mind of the marshal of the Kingsmen. Once he and the rest of the Kingsmen have converted to Lathander, we’ll have more support. I’m here’s also the problem of getting the okay by the high priestess. I need Lord Lady Winter to support me and talk about my ambitions to the high priest.

    Though I am not sure that the sacrifice will happen, considering where Early stands now. Perhaps it could be used to heal him, though I am uncertain that he actually wants it considering where his loyalties lay. We will see.



  • Shit. Shit. Shit.

    The warrior ducked out from beneath a swipe and then moved to the right. To her right, Bhaliir eyed their enemies as he slammed his double bladed mace into one after the other. Her eyes darted around the rocky room, looking for the others. Damion was nowhere to be seen. Shit, where was christoph? Did they run? Where was everyone? WHAP! A stinging claw sunk into her right cheek, deeply embedding itself with burns that instantly cauterized it. FUCK! - Her vision wavered heavily as the blow hit. The swipe was so hard that she could barely keep herself standing, taking a few steps back as she staggered. How was Bhaliir holding his own against these things? It’s like fighting an owlbear on steroids. The elemental’s claw had single handedly sunk through her stoneskin and planted straight into her skin. How was this thing so powerful and fast?
    Was there four of them? She blinked furiously as another claw dug into her abdomen, the fire of the elemental burning into her armor with heated fury. It was so hot. It was melting her skin and armor. It had to be an elder. There was no way this thing could be so powerful. Her ears rang loudly as she quickly reached for her potions at her hip, biting of the corks off the bottles as she chugged healing potions, trying to keep herself alive. She could feel her wounds healing, but her body getting slower. There was no way she could keep this up. The sun warrior had met her match. Ironically, with fire elementals. She’d laugh if it weren’t a life and death situation.
    She furiously fumbled with her bags as she ran backwards, out of clawing distance. Stoneskin, Shield, blurr, Invisibility. The warrior kept chugging frantically, but no matter how many wards she took, she couldn’t keep from their attacks. Using her shield, she pulled it up to block as she looked around again. Bhaliir had killed one or two of the elders, but he looked seriously overwhelmed as well. Christoph and Damion had bailed, or were not in her line of sight. Angelo ran away fast from a group of adult fire elementals. Reality dawned on her as inside she felt the pit of her stomach drop and her skin grow cold as the icey shards of fear took root. They couldn’t defeat these elementals. They were too strong and there was too many of them. They couldn’t do this, they’d die.
    And then that’s when it hit her.

    A giant ball of fire. - She really didn’t have more time to think as unrelenting fire continued to assault her. Again, and again. There were five now on her. The woman could fear her body collapsing. She was going to die if she didn’t- Yes! She-
    The warrior reached for a glowing vial on her belt. Quickly, she downed it. Almost immediately, she felt her body humm with divine energy, her burns and wounds healing completely. Valeria had been saving the potion of heal for her battle in Tilverton.. But this was as good a time as any. With her renewed strength and vigor, she - courageously- drank another invisibility. Thank the gods she thought to keep many of these around. The warrior quickly rolled backwards and out of the elemental’s line of sight, stopping their barrage of attacks. The ancient beings looked around, confused as the human woman had disappeared from sight.

    Valeria glared at them, now to get away.

    “RUN! GET OUT OF HERE!” She could vaguely here Christoph and Damion shouting. Valeria turned to look behind her, her eyes widening as time seemed to slow. A gurgled scream pierced her ears as she watched Lord Bhaliir get swiped across the chest, delving into his beautiful armor. Her mouth opened as her eyes widened. The elementals who’d previously just been in front of her rushed towards Bhaliir as he was pushed to the ground. The lord was.. Being swarmed. There was no chance of escape as dozens of large fire elementals descended on him. It happened quickly.

    The lord.. His eyes closed as blood filled the river he’d fallen into, coating it in blood. His blessed double mace dropped at his feet. He was dying.

    Shit.

    Valeria picked up her pace, swinging at some of the elementals as her tears blocked her vision. He couldn’t die. She brought him here. This was her fault! The elementals.. Ignored her. They were too busy drawing blood. Even the ones she hit, they would not turn to face her. She couldn’t even hit them, her blade became too hot upon touching the firey embers of their bodies.

    With another swipe, she could see his chest cavity cave in, there was no way the Lord could have survived that. His body went deathly still. In the distance she noticed Angelo screaming something at her as he fought off another small horde of the fire elementals. ‘Go’. She withdrew, tumbling backwards again before she could even think about it. Her instincts kicked in as her brain tried to comprehend what was happening. She felt herself drink another draught of invisibility, shielding her from the elemental’s eyes as they now searched for more pray.

    This was her fault..

    The next few hours, the warrior found herself leaning on the warm door which lead to the chamber- and the tomb of Bhaliir. Christoph and Damion stood there beside her, trying to console the woman as she softly cried and worried. Their tones were harsh and cold. Unfeeling. Uncaring. They wanted this to happen.

    ‘Just say it was a planned assassination.’

    ‘This works out fine. He was a traitor to the crown anyway.’

    ‘He helped Elodie for his own gain, he deserves this death.’

    ‘Leave his body there. There was nothing you could do.’

    ‘This will work out Val. Don’t worry. This is good.’

    The warrior rested her head on the door, fresh tears streaming from her face. They didn't’t understand. They needed him to kill Manzahar. She could barely beat Bhaliir with him using no words. He had the resources they needed. He still needed to go on trial for what he did do. But.. but more importantly..

    He was her friend.

    Her teeth grit harshly as she did not retort her replies to their words. The well of despair filled her soul as she angrily dug her nails into the warm stone door. The door that kept the elementals from escaping into the main chamber. The sound of their footsteps leaving through the portal was enough to allow her to openly sob. Alone, the warrior stayed next to the resting place of the Lord of Arabel. She stared at the ground and the ceiling, silently listening to the elementals roam on the other side. She needed to correct this. She needed to save him. She would return with Ani the next day. Shadey or not, Valeria couldn’t let him die like this. Not here and not now.



  • [A picture of a man known as Felkyr Esolan has been drawing into one of the pages. A small date underneath it signifies something important, the day the undead island fell. Tear stains dot this page, causing the ink to smudge around the edges, but the image is quite clear... Perhaps a small tribute?]
    “A- What- the!”

    The Tressym glade is always so beautiful in the spring. It was spring, wasn’t it? The flowers were so vibrant and bright. An array of yellow and purple tulips filled the glade as the blossoming orange tree hung low with their fruit. The weight of their seeds and bulbous bearings causing them to fold towards the ground of the glade, in just enough reach for anyone to pick them. Green and red colors swirled around as the vision of the beautiful glade deteriorated. She felt the slime of the star water trout she’d pulled only moment ago beside her face, making her smell nothing but the scent of day old fish. A bitter metallic taste filled her mouth, the ringing pain engulfing her eardrums. Blood... The colors swirled in her eyes as it started to turn black....

    [Write a small scene with Eso and her drinking]

    WHAP!

    ‘Am I going to die?’

    THACK! SSSLASH!

    ‘It hurts..’

    Her back stung sharply. She felt the cold edge of a steel top slide past her armor and delve into her back. With each hit, fire and pain flustered forward from each new wound, racking her brain and dazing her. Her hands felt wet and sticky as she clutched a clump of grass, attempting to get her bearings. Her head lifted slightly to view a Nymph stepping out of the tree’s, the fey’s golden-green eyes staring down at her with a mixture of worry and sorrow. Pity. The nymph looked beautiful. Leaves clung to her body and her red hair curled around her left shoulder, tied loosely in a vine. She turned to address the attacker. The vague image of the same man standing over her, a scimitar pointed towards the warrior’s neck. They talked. The nymph’s mouth spoke, ‘Leave the child of the sun be.’

    ‘No!’

    “N.. No!.. D-don’t..”

    ‘I have to warn her. Make her leave.. Let them kill me. Let them. She’s more important.’

    “HHHhhhhhhhhhhhnnnh...” The harsh hiss of the sidhe undead that stood above her raised his sword again and with the blunt end of it’s sword puned her back, pushing her back into the ground. The impact forced her to cough and sputter, painting the ground beneath her further with red...

    GASP!
    Life breathed into her as pain flooded her senses. Her eyes came to, staring up at the wooden ceiling of the Ilmatari temple. Her eyes fell on an armored man looming above her. Evander? It must be. Who else would bring her here if she had been that hurt? - Speakin of.. Why was she here? What happened?
    Her eyes widened as she stared up at the ceiling. Her wounds, freshly healed were prominent on her torso, freshly wrapped by the ilmatari priestess beside her. She couldn’t be sure if it was indeed Evander. And the more she tried to focus, the more she realised the swirl of colors in front of her were not the normal blue dragon navy and silver steel color her love usually adorned. Then that would mean.. This wasn’t Evander. Her Lord Scion was not in sight. It only caused her to panic. Where was he? She needed to make sure he was okay. She shot up from the ground, grabbing onto the man’s arm, causing her to cry out in pain as her stitched wounds reopened partly. Despite the agony, the adrenaline that rushed through her body allowed her to ignore it. However, instead of talking, the moment she opened her mouth, a bottle was placed at her lips. Alchohol?... That’d be nice for later.. She took the bottles and held them tightly to her chest, her eyes darting around the blurry images of the room.

    ‘Here, drink this.. It.. It’ll help. leas' tha's what they told me.”

    Her head throbbed harshly, she seemed to be able to at least slow down enough to focus. Finally, her vision steadied a little enough to discern the swirl of yellow, black, and gold in front of her was actually the vague image of Felkyr Esolen. Wait.. Felkyr? He saved her? She thought- he secretly hated her? Eugh. Where was Evan? The woman brought her hand to her throbbing head, trying to focus on what exactly happened. What was the last thing she remembered?

    Esolen tightened his grip for a moment, “Val.. Ye.. fough'bravely.” His words were soft and comforting as they rolled off his tongue. Seeing her holding the bottles, he reached out and took them from her loose grasp, “Come on Val.. jus' drink one. jus' one.” It was so weird, hearing him call her that. Val. Reluctantly, she complied as he brought the bottles back to her lips, drinking the potions. That was better... the room stabilized for the moment. Though if she turned her heard, things would blurr once more. Some sort of vertigo.

    “Heh.. Stubborn Lass.” The tone of his voice was soft, and amused. He was endeared with her stubborn nature, even in a near-death state. And though his dreadhelm dipped downwards, he was hard pressed to hide the fact that he was smiling beneath the metal folds that covered his mouth. Valeria was struck with slight shock, he was acting so differently. He wasn’t being offstandish or cold as he usually was. He was.. Opening up. Showing his real emotions around her. It would have been heartwarming if she hadn’t just nearly died. He continued to speak softly, his words trying to encourage her to get up,
    “Come on.. I think Evanders waitin' on ye. Ye.. Ye got him out, Val. Ye got him out..” He bobs his head softly, nodding. Evander... Suddenly, her vision flashing with images of the Lord Scion surrounded by a hoard of sniveling, deadly goblins.. In Durmoth. An image of her healing him before she, herself, fell... There were so many. She was so sure.. In that moment.. That she couldn’t save him.. That her wand wouldn’t be enough. The warrior paused, she’d been so desperate. She remembered ignoring the swarm already attacking her..

    Valeria moved to her feet, leaning on Esolen heavily, her eyes pin pricking with tears of confusion, “Eso? - I- I did?...”

    ‘I...Yes. Ye got him out.. Come on, get on yer feet.’ The words came to a relief, allowing her to relax a little bit. But.. the tone of his voice was.. Kinder than usual. There was something.. Telling. Something fake. But.. he wouldn’t lie to her like that. Not like this... Would he? Her lips turned into a frown. She took his other arm that was offered to her and used it to pull herself up onto her feet.

    Each step was hard and heavy, she needed to lean on Eso for help. Her arm was firmly wrapped around his shoulders and it silently occurred to her that this was the first time he’d ever been so guardless around her. Heh.. guess it took getting beaten to a pulp for that to happen..
    “Them goblins, they're push'hard on th'portal. Th'militia are holdin'em at bay.”

    "I-I'm sorry. There were so many.."

    “ Lass, that many goblins? Ye ain' th'one whos gotta apologize.” His helm glanced at her as she slowly wrapped open wounds, using him to support herself as she stood upright,“Th'shit who recommended this job t'four folks, i'mma rib tha' asshole apart.”

    Valeria blinked slowly as the world shifted to the right, “"Y-yeah.. I'll mmg.. punch him.” It was more of an agreement in her resurrected state. He helped her to her feet. Slowly, the two made their way towards the door and out.

    As they stepped into the muggy streets of old town, he looked around, “Ain' exactly th' best part o'town... but I’ll get ye sorted.” This made the warrior glance at him, her hand moving to her head. Yeah, no shit sherlock. This was old town.

    “Eh, if wyrmlocke pops up, do me a solid an' jus' don' say nothin' arrigh?”

    Val grimanced. She wasn’t exactly in a position to argue though. Her head pounded heavily. The world.. Wobbled around her. As if she were in a constant state of vertigo. It was certain, that if she were not leaning on this strange man beside her, she’d be falling all over the place right now. Her chest hurt, badly. As if something had slashed her right into her rib cage and... killed her. As if her soul had been forced back into her body and healed. Which, honestly, that is probably exactly what happened. But right now, she didn’t want to bother with the details. All she really cared about was whether or not Evander was okay. All she could remember.. Was trying to save him from the goblins..

    The sunlight, for once, almost seemed an enemy. It made her headache only worse, and somewhat blinded her.. As if her eyes weren’t used to the sun. Her skin was rather pale, and clammy. She could hear the sounds of people fighting, and children yelling in the streets. But most of it was indistinguishable. She was.. Tired. And this showed as she leaned almost her full weight on her companion.
    “Ye'know, while I got ye dazed n' volunerable..” Her ears perked a little as she listened. Breathing was too hard. Talking seemed too hard too. So she listened, “don' tell nobody, but id put money on ye' bein' Daxxes favorite.” Her cheeks flushed just a tad. Yeah she would too. Her heart dropped a little. Val did care for Daxx, but she couldn’t fulfill that role for him. She already had Evander. Maybe if she never had met Evander, she would have... Though it was odd that he’d talk about this. Almost like.. He considered her his friend. Her lips twitched a little, she knew he was just playing offstandish on purpose. The warrior humored him,

    “Wh-why do you say that?” Her voice almost croaked. It was difficult to talk, as if she weren’t getting enough air with each breath.

    “Ye see him in Tilverton durin' th'dance?”

    “N-no...”

    “E' jus' coul'n't keep eyes off ye or words neither.- ‘n excused ‘imself shortly afte’.”

    “"Wh-what did he look like?-.. I-g-guess that’s why.. he wouldn't.. dance with m-” She trips on the cobblestone, thankfully, though Eso caught her before her face hit the ground. They continued to walk down the streets of old town, heading for the downtown area. It was hard to tell where exactly they were going, the world still wobbled and her vision seemed to almost be failing

    “Some folks know their place better n' others” Her companion agreed, “Daxx knows his. Tis at Evanders side. Ye don' make Pathfinder not knowin' yer place.”

    "S-shouldn't he s-say something?"

    “Likely never will. He’s fightin' war, hostile territory. city pullin' itself apart..” For some reason.. This saddened her. A bubble of a bittersweet laugh filled her lungs and escaped her lips. Her eyes pinpricked with tears. She was half-dead, injured, and for some reason they were talking about a love that could have been had she never meet the Lord Scion Dauntinghorn. How was this day coming out this way?

    "T-that's funny.. Hehehe...” She pauses as her bittersweet laughter died down, "I w-would have as-asked him o-olut if I didn't know Evan." The honesty in her voice made her heart drop. Guilt. Sorrow. She wished she didn’t feel like that. Evander was more than enough to fill the hole in her heart.

    “E' wants ye focused... dunno what t'tell ye there. Ain' got much time fer pokin', m’self. Cept th'paid fer shite.”

    “"I-it's not about poking. It's about.. Companionship." Eso quietd for a moment, her helm looking towards the ground.

    “th'only two women I ever thought i'd work it out with, Serafina was th'best o'em”

    “ye know.. I asked fer a lock o' her hair? before she left?”

    "Who was the o-other?" Valeria paused, "Did she- give you it?"

    He sighed, “She...Didn't. I'm a mean ugly whoreson killer, Val. Wha's an Aasamir got t'do with that?”

    "I think.. you just need a strong woman. Not one that ca-cares about looks or 'poking.'" She rubs at her forhead, trying to focus. They were headed towards the pier, the water. It’d make sense Evander be near the blue dragons, probably. Especially if he was hurt, right? Esolen tugged on her more, urging her to go faster.

    “whatever ye say, lass..” He trailed off. Valeria looked to him, watching him as they walked. She was able to focus enough to see his eyes through the slits in his helm. They were sad. Almost guilt ridden. As if he knew he were committing some bad act, and hated himself for it. She spoke up, “"Yer not a bad man."
    Esolen went.. Frigid. His lightly humored nature seemed to melt, as if her words struck a deep cord. She had meant it, having spoken it confidently. The woman truly believed her words, and she was sure of it. He stopped walking entirally as he tensed up, causing the two to come to an abrupt halt. She stumbled a bit, her vertigo returning.

    “I think yer fine from here.” His voice was offstandish, slightly cold. As if he were forcing a wall to be raised. He was going to leave here here? She wasn’t even sure she could walk straight.. And where was Evander? Wasn’t he taking her to him?

    "Are you mad.. at me?" She felt hurt by his tone.

    He sighed, “Yer.. No. Yer jus' wrong on this one.”

    “Oh..” She leaned heavily on a random barrel, trying to focus her vision. The sun still beat down in her eyes. She hated this. She hated feeling like this.

    “ Val?...” his voice was significantly softer., “Thanks lass.”

    “N-no problem.” It was quiet for a few minutes as Esolen fidgeted with his hat. She stayed where she was, certain she’d fall if she tried to walk. Suddenly Eso spoke up in stark surprise,

    “Th'feck? Feckn'shite..” He looked, awkward, and taken off guard. As if he hadn’t expected the Lord Scion himself to waltz down the pier. Evander slowly walked, visibly wounded but healed.
    “See? See? Not dead. Tha'battlemage however.. Yesh. e's gonna be havin' a rough mornin'..”

    Valeria’s eyes immediately watered as she made her way towards him, though only after tripping on one of the many dogs that roamed around the pier... Dauntinghorn made his way over to Valeria and helped her up from the ground. In her weakened, shocked state, she murmured, “Am I dead?”

    “No, very much alive, and in my arms, love.” Evander’s warm smile faded as her memory changed and the scene came to a blurry black..

    ........................

    Valeria gasped sharply as her vision blurred and formed into the Tressym glade.. Right.. She was still in this nightmare.

    “Give me, th'lord.” His voice cut sharply, “I... I won’t ask again.”

    Her eyes pin pricked with tears. Why hadn’t the nymph left her yet? Why hadn’t she taken Lord Winter away? Her life was not as important as Lord Winter. She brought hope to so many people.. Eveningstar needed her!
    “G-Go get h-help..” She croaked out, getting the energy to bring her hand to cover and compress her bleeding wound. The bleeding needed to be stopped..”T-they w-want to ta-take her.” She tried, in vain, to warn the spirit. Just go damn it! Leave! Go!
    Esolen and the nymph conversed. Suddenly, the blade from the sidhe undead disappeared. The undead were.. Unsummoned. The nymph smiled sadly at Valeria as she stepped back into the tree she came from.

    “STOP Valeria. Enough games.. Enough.” He sounded tired. Wanting and upset. He hadn’t wanted her to be there. He tried to make her leave.

    “No.” Her voice, defiantly, grew in opposition. He couldn’t silence her. He’d have to kill her. He knew exactly what he was doing. She felt her anger swell. He was supposed to be her friend.. How could he do this..
    “Lord Winter! Do not make me murder her!” He made his way over to her, drawing his sword and placing it on her neck. Val’s eyes turned up to Eso as he avoided her gaze. Her free hand clenched the soil beneath her as her spurned tears fell. Valeria pressed her neck into the blade, making sure he felt the pressure. He pulled back a bit instinctively.

    “"DO IT!. I-I wi-will g-gladly g-give my li-life f-for her!” Her voice screamed as loud as she could. He may have wounded her, but he hadn’t taken her voice. Esolen and his companions turned to look at her with surprise. Her glare was ever apparent, and her anger only boiled with his reply.

    “Theres always tomorrow, Val.” His words stabbed at her heart.

    “Such rush” Lord Winter’s voice pierced the glade. NO! Don’t do this! Her tone was calm, and her smile appeared warm on her face.

    Eso’s muscles relaxed, visbily, “Thank you. I care deeply fer Val..” LIKE HELL YOU DO! She trembled desperately, trying to get up. But her wounds were too much.. She couldn’t move.

    “Then let her go.” Lord Winter responded in kind. Though her tone was welcoming, there was an underlying edge of tension. Esolen looked.. Relieved.

    “What little is left of my heart... I'd have lost it..- I cannot.”

    “I will go with you.”

    Val tried to speak up again, her tone pleading, “"N-No. Do-don't... "Lord W-winter D-dont."

    “Ah? so willing? Then follow me.” His voice lifted in town, happy. He reached into his bag and tossed a crumpled note to the ground in front of Valeria. “Must I bind ye, Val?”

    Lord Winter turned to look at Valeria. Her eyes were soft as she spoke, “My dearest retainer of the Sun.. You're far too dear to die in my name. Worry not, there is always a dawn no matter the darkness of the night.” Valeria felt her heart drop. Her life was no more important than hers. She didn’t need to sacrifice herself. She was just a country girl. She was just a soldier. She was expendable. Lord Winter was a beacon, a scion of hope. They couldn’t lose her... Lord Winter looked confident, wearing her beautiful white and gold gown. Her favorite thing to wear. It was as if she did not worry. As if she was not concerned that she would meet the end of her life soon...
    “Swear ye will not run, and i'll leave off th'ropes.” Esolen offered.
    “Have you ever seen a Lady run?” Her tone was light and joking, “No need for ropes.” Did she even take this situation seriously? How could she joke at a time like this?

    "N-no." She reached her free hand towards the group, "Y-you can't. T-they need you." Her other hand moved from covering her wound to reach for her falchion. Something had to be done! Esolen turned and gave a warning, “Don’t..”

    Lord Winter spoke, “Val. This is an order. Stand down.” Her heart sank as she brought her hand back to her wound, holding it.

    “Come Lord Winter, and Valeria.. Tell Ibrahim. Tell him everything.”

    She moves to falchion to her other hand, striking it into the ground and using it to push herself up a bit, "D-don't. E-eveningstar needs you.” At Esolen’s words, she defiantly replied, "I won't."

    Lord Winter only smiled, as if she knew something Val didn’t, “What am I but a meager body of ash and dirt?- May I have your arm?” She looks to Eso, who complied.

    “ Valeria...be careful.” He spoke up, looking back to her. What? Was he- “ I cannot defeat you in combat...but I can still harm th'lord.”

    Son of a bitch.

    “FECK YOU ESO!!” Her voice was raw as she screamed at him.

    Valeria’s eyes widened as she felt vines wrap around her wounds, the trees around her.. Began to heal her wounds ever so slightly. Lord Winter looked over her shoulder as she left with the group, “Be careful.. Child of the sun”


    Valeria sat on the edge of the bank. It’d been several hours since what had happened at the glade and night time had started to fall as the sun set. She watched it, hunched over her legs. Her wounds were healed from the temple, and the sound of horns and shouting from the Eveningstar castle meant they were sending men after Lord Winter. She’d done her part. She’d shambled her way to the castle and told them what happened. The nymph had healed her enough to be able to walk. The grass, trees, and plants around her slowly started to wilt. Even now, she knew that it was because of Lord Winter’s presence. The nymph that was so close with Winter likely was morning.. Or maybe Lord Winter was actually connected to the spirit. The warrior let out a soft sigh as she placed a hand on her shield and scimitar beside her. Her heart only dropped as the life around her died and withered. She’d failed.. It was quiet. All except for the portal behind her which made a swooshing sound. Someone had portaled into town. She glanced over her shoulder briefly. Only to freeze.

    Felkyr Esolen stood there, looking around. He.. dared to come back? Immediately, she sprung to her shield and weapon. He was alone. She would not fail. In the distance, Ibrahim approached.

    “Eso.” Her voice seethed. ‘Look at me you backstabbing prick!’ She downed a few potions. She was going to fight him.

    He held up his hands defensively, “Don’t move. Get Ibrahim.”

    Valeria grit her teeth and stepped forward, "I don't fecking care what you say. You either return Lord Winter, or I end your life here and now." She took a step forward with intention, pain shooting through her leg. She was still wounded, but she could still fight.

    Ibrahim looked to Eso, whom in turn gave his attention to the warforged, “I was busy.”

    He was.. Ignoring her. She issued the threat again, anger swelling, “"You will return Lord Winter,
    or I will slaughter you where you stand."

    “Ibrahim.” Eso started breathlessly.

    “Eso.” He replied.

    “You are a warforged and of Thayan descent?”

    ‘ What the hell happened to your damn accent, you fraud!’ She thought angrily as she took another menacing step forward. Did he actually return to tell Ibrahim what he did? Did he really only want to inflict harm?
    “"All you want is to hurt him to fulfill your damn betrayal...” Ibrahim remained quiet.

    “Answer the question.”

    “It was my home before this one- I know not where I came from before that. “

    “Then ye are a Thayan.”

    “ "Don't answer it Ib. He just kidnapped Lord Winter, aiding Manzahar's monk goon named Shillen." her tone turned to hurt, “And almost slaughtered me to do it..”

    Eso continued to ignore her, “I did not have th'courage of Jadraxian... who could brave th'depths of the abyss. I did not have your bravery, Ibrahim, t'fight against my pride, my own self t'do what was right. I am.. on her path... her path. The dread queen.”

    “Yer damn right ye are, you sodding coward.” She agreed with him as she got closer again. ‘I am RIGHT HERE you prick! Sodding don’t act like you haven’t done anything wrong!’

    “but it is because I am... Not you..That I failed. Ye see.. all this time.. I was tryin' t'find a -living- man worthy of his story. of Jadraxian.”

    Ibrahim eyed him, “So then now what happens?”

    Eso continued, “Someone to walk his path. I thought it was vindo. I truly did. him and Minna. later.. myself. But what a fool.. Who could love me? Hm?”

    ‘YOU SODDING DELUSIONAL ASSHOLE!.... I did. I loved you.’ The words rung in her mind like a harsh bell ringing. She grit her teeth tightly as tears welled and fell down her cheeks, raining her sorrow, "What the sodding /shite/ are you trying to say Eso?"

    He looked up to Ib, “Tha's when I saw it.. when ye held her hand in Tilverton..I knew what role I was meant t'play. I'm not clar Banda.. not Jadraxian in this story... I'm th'demon, Ibrahim.”

    The fire spurned in her heart, cracking it open. Broken and bleeding, Val’s temper flared like wildfire.. Spreading across her body. Her vision saw red. How could he seriously think that? This was not some stupid god damn plot... That’s it.. Enough of this. Enough Eso.. Enough!
    She swung her scimitar and delved it deeply into his thigh, nailing a first hit. She screamed, raw and purely as her rage exploded from her body into her sword. Eso let out a loud grunt and a yell. Quickly he pulled an urn from his pack and pushed it into Ibrahim’s hands. Ibrahim stood still, eerily silent as he watched her try to make him kneel. Eso stood there... and took it.

    “Ashwood.” Ib’s voice was stern.

    “He just kidnapped a sodding Lord of the Land.” She shot back at Ib.

    "I don't /care/ Ib. You can talk to him when he's captured."

    “Open it, Ibrahim. It’s.. fer ye. Now.” Eso demanded as he took the beating.

    “You’re missing the point.” Ib shot back at her.

    "What that he just told everyone he's going to be the demon and kidnap everyone?" She shot back angrily, holding her ground.

    “Ill see both of ye at Tilverton.” Esolen said finally and made a move for the portal. Her eyes widened as his intention dawned on her. He was NOT getting away.

    “OH, NO YOU WONT!” She screamed and attacked with her onslaught as Ibrahim quietly watched them, holding the urn.

    She sliced and stabbed, deeply wounding him. However.. Just as she was about to deliver the final blow, he whispered the word ‘unholy’ and rolled into the portal.

    "YOU BASTARD!!” She dropped at the portal, stabbing her sword into it... only to be met with solid ground.

    “Ashwood. Calm down.” The warforged commanded her as he observed the urn. The warrior, however, was blind with rage. She leaned over in frustration, visibily breaking into tears. She couldn’t go to the undead island. She’d die. He had too many allies there..

    "He sodding thinks you're going to fulfill some STUPID prophecy."

    “He doesn't know me as well as he thinks.” Ib retorted, almost softly.

    "To save Clar Banda's lover and reunite them. - And turn her into a benevolent goddess of hope.” She cried out in frustration as she wiped at her tears. Almost poetically, the last lights of the sunset disappeared from the horizon, bringing on the darkness of the night. Selune’s moon shone brightly in the sky, illuminating the town along with the various torches and portal light.

    "That's because he's blinded by love for you, Ib." She lights her face to the sky as she stands up, "He kidnapped Lord Winter. And now this town will suffer without her.”

    ‘I failed, again. I hesitated. Why did I hesitate to kill him?’ The warrior looked down at her hands as her tears fell into them. ‘How can I still love him? How? After what he did to her.. To me?’

    “ He's blinded by a lot of things.” Ib agreed quietly, watching her. The wind picked up as the warforged tilted the urn’s top and looked in. Some of the ash started to float, getting caught on the wind.
    Still looking at the sky, her broken voice spoke, "So what are you going to do Ib?" Her eyes slowly moved towards the warforged, stopping as she finally noticed the urn, “What the feck is that?”
    Ib rubbed his chin, “Hm.. my guess is probably what’s left of Lord Winter.”

    She held out her hand, “Can I see it?”

    He complied as he looked to her, “Why give it to me then?”

    "In the story, Jarlaxian went into the abyss and killed the demon that kept his lover, Clar Banda prisoner."

    “Mhm”

    "He fought through demons of all kinds, and brought her back to the Netherese empire."

    “He always thought very highly of me.” The warforged commented as she observed the urn closely.

    “"Because he loves you Ib." She replied absently.. The ashes were swirling around a nearby gnome. Where they touched, the ground sprouted with light and renewed life. This.. had to be a sign. Was this the nymph’s ashes instead? Was Lord Winter connected to the nature here? It.. It would make sense. That is how she was able to hide in the glade, in the trees so easily. What if she was connected to this land, like a dryad? The- Then maybe she could be resurrected.. Hope sprung in her heart.

    “ Better choices than me out there.” He retorted, “Hm. It matters not who it is. He wants it to end at this weeks end. So it will, one way or another.” Ib’s tone was set. The gnome near them cried out in confusion. He’d had been trying to dramatically introduce himself, but the two were so distracted with their conversation that the gnome had been ignored. Now nature swirled around the gnome, as he smeared ashes everywhere.
    Val glanced around. Had the nymph returned? Or was this.. Connected? Was Lord Winter here? Or was she still on the island? SHe watched as the escaped ashes formed vines at their feet, pulling at tenderly at Val and Ib. The gnome frantically tried pulling himself free from the vines, spouting about ‘m’lady’ or something.
    “Does any of this matter? Saving Lord Winter?”
    “All of it matters Ib. All of it.”
    “ Does it, Val? Can we change what happened, or unmake it's fate?”
    "Yes."
    She watched the vines reach for the urn in her hands, almost longingly.
    “You can't change the past. You can't undo the bad things we do in our lives. Erase the mountains we climbed to get here. If he has Lord Winter, then I will either get her back- Or I won't. “
    “I wish Ani or Zuzana were here. I don't know what's in the urn. I don't know why he gave it to you. I am unsure if this would help anything.” She bit her lip, as she made a decision silently.

    “There is only one thing left for me to do here before I pass into the next world.” Ib started.

    "The point is saving Lord Winter yes. - I don't believe in turning back time or wallowing in what's happened." Gently, Val placed the urn on the ground. "Please be the right choice, please be the right choice."

    She lowered her voice and began to pray. She prayed to her lord for a light. She prayed for hope. She prayed for help.

    Suddenly, the ground burst into a radiant blinding light as the vines broke the urn apart and spread the ashes along the ground completely. The Lathanderite stepped back in shock, her voice catching in her throat as the entire town of Eveningstar erupted in brilliant sunshine in the dead of night. It was as if day had returned briefly. The light persisted as she muttered, "Morninglord be praised..” She clasped her hands together tightly as the light engulfed all of them.
    Lord Winter’s words whispered into her mind from her memory, ‘What am I but a meager body of ash and dirt?’ Valeria’s eyes widened as the light started to dim. Medeah Winter, you sly dog. You knew this would happen. You knew! You were telling me. Relief flooded her senses as yet again, more tears flooded from her eyes.
    In place of the ashes, Lord Medeah Winter slumbered softly. As if nothing had ever even happened. The warrior collapsed to the lord’s side, checking her pulse... She was alive. Val’s joy was spilling over, her soul renewed with warmth. The warrior of light leaned down and bundled Lord Winter’s form in her arms, carrying her towards the Eveningstar Castle.

    And from there, the memory faded.



  • [Continued from the last post]

    Tears. She was always crying now. What was it with Arabel causing her to mourn so much? How could you lose so many things in such a specific place? In all her travels, she hadn’t felt this alone since her parents were taken from her. She hadn’t felt this empty.. This heart broken. She still had the love of her life, and yet.. Somehow, here she was. Again. Standing in front of a grave. Again. Wishing for the life of a loved one to come back.


    Her memory flickered to the image of Esolen and her other friend, Angelo.. Standing next to Manzahar and the rest of the Clar Bandans. Beside her, Lord Bhaliir in full battle gear. On her right, Evander with his falchion, standing proudly. And in her hands, her scimitar and shield. Around them, their friends and fellow adventurers were warded and buffed to the teeth. In front of them, the opposing Clar Bandan faction menacingly stood quiet, already prepared for battle.

    There was little time lost as the two sides clashed. She ran straight for them. She ran straight for Esolen and Angelo. As did her comerades. Greyhalo turned on the other Bandan’s and started pummeling Eso as Daxx and Val went after Angelo..
    “I’M SORRY ANGELO! BUT FECK YOU!”

    The tiefling was no match for them. They ended him quickly. Her heart turned cold as the tiefling’s body fell to the floor. Her eyes centered on Eso. He was on his knees.
    “SORRY ESO! BUT GOTTA KILL YOU TO!” Greyhalo was yelling.
    “FECK!” Esolen screamed in pain as Greyhalo held him on his knees, her hand on his throat. She stabbed him in the side.
    No. He was hers to kill. It was her responsibility. Valeria’s vision blurred as she ran towards them. Her hands gripped her scimitar tightly and screamed as she jumped at the two, her scimitar poised for Eso’s neck..

    “I’M NOT SORRY ESO!”


    Her eyes opened as she ushered the memory away. Her hand gripped her scimitar as she looked down at the grave in front of her. She had a small, metal box. Inside, some of his blood, his old hat he used to always wear, and a few other items she managed to take from his corpse before the island sunk. Her hands shook gently as she stared down at what was left of him. What was left of Felkyr Esolen. Her eyebrows knit together as a soft sob escaped her lips,

    “Why did you have to do this?.. You should have listened to me.” She slowly bent and dropped to her knees, her tear streaked face leaning to rest against the box. It even smelled like him. Her heart cracked, again. “Why didn’t you just listen to me..” Her voice trembled, “Do you remember, when we sat in Shylocks? When we murmured and whispered, and shared drinks? - Do you remember, picking my ass off the ground?.. Do you- you remember..”

    Her voice died out as her shoulders dropped. The glade around her was silent. She’d found her way deep into the forest just outside of old town. No one would come here. No one would disturb the grave. She could almost hear his laugh. Or see the glint of his gem eye.

    Valeria set the box on her lap.

    “You were my friend, from the moment I first met you.” She started softly, talking to the box, “You acted so offstandish. You put up a wall. You did your best to push me away.. But I think you knew it too. That I was t-too damn stubborn. Too stubborn to take your moody no.” She chuckled bittersweetly as she rubs her tears away, “You didn’t want me to be close to you. Because I was a ‘good two-shoes do gooder.’” The woman pauses, “This is one hell of a eulogy.”
    She blinks her eyes quickly a few times and glances up at the sky. Light was starting to fill it, signalling the rise of the morning sun. She’d been here all night, hadn’t she?”
    “Remember when we fought, like it was some sort of silly game? Throwing spells in old town’s streets at each other? And then Lord Bhaliir j-just showed up and kicked yer sorry arse?” She breaks into something between laughter and crying, seemingly okay to show her feelings in the solitude of the forest.
    “Why couldn’t you drop this? Why couldn’t we go back to that?..” Letting out a sigh she leans forward and gently sets the box down in the hole. To her left, a bottle of half-drunk vodka and a shot glass. To which she reached for now. Pouring herself a shot, and drinking.
    “It’s over, isn’t it?” Her eyes peeled away from the grave and looked into the gloomy darkness of the forest, “You’re not coming back...” Glancing down at the glass, she sighed.

    “I never thought I’d have to bury anyone after Mom and Dad. So.. Feck you, for being the first to make me do this, Eso. How could you not see? That bitch that you call your god used you. Those visions you received were nothing more than signs to get you to harm everyone that loved you. And in the end, she took you away from us.. And made herself stronger. She was never going to bring your family back. And I told you as much.” The warrior inhaled sharply as she poured herself another shot, her hand shaking, “You could have lived.. You could have been redeemed... You could have still been here. But now she’s got you. And there is nothing I can do, to save you, you stupid idiot.”

    “You dumb, no good idiot..” The glass and the bottle were set to the side as she moved to bury the box. The grave was shallow. It needed to be deep. No animal would come looking for a nice meal, “I loved you. We all loved you. It should have been enough..”

    “You ended up breaking out hearts. You became her. How are you the demon when you did nothing but mimic Clar Banda herself?”

    Gently, she stood. From her holster, she withdraws an angel wing scimitar. The very same weapon Eso used to threaten her. She settled her gaze on it for a few quiet minutes before stepping forward and plunging it deep into the ground in front of the gravestone she’d carved.

    “What was it all for, Felkyr?.. It was for nothing. Because now you’re gone. And I’m burying your sorry hide in secret. Because you’re a criminal of the king.” Her lips pursed tightly,

    “You can’t blame me for scolding you like this. You never gave me the chance to do it before.. .” She places her hand over her heart and closes her eyes.

    “I lied that day. I was sorry... I miss you.”

    “ And maybe it’s foolish to want you back...”

    “Maybe this was fated... Maybe you were supposed to be the demon that dies... I just wish it had ended another way.”

    “Rest in peace, Eso.”


 

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