stars and constellations
March 10,
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Started by Seia Kailani, Mar 18, 2018, 01:56 AM
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7
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18
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Female
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Potter
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Efrean
It is not their rules that keep you bound, but yours.
Mar 18, 2018, 01:56 AM / 651 Words

The girl was gone.

She wasn't there in the same spot she always was when Seia had closed up shop and went to find her yesterday, in the same spot she'd been at for the past week. She wasn't there, and Seia's heart had plummeted when she heard that she'd been taken. By pirates. Except this one was a good pirate, and he did this all the time, and don't you worry, miss, bet you anything she'll show up in two weeks with a new hand looking good as new - but. Pirates. Maybe Seia was being unfair. Maybe she was being biased, here, but she couldn't help but worry. The other merchants and shopkeepers, they've been at this for much longer than her and she should trust their judgement, she knew that she was just a naive child playing pretend, but what if. What if.

She hoped she was. Hoped that she was jumping to assumptions, that whoever had taken her in was a better person than her. Every time Seia looked at the girl, she had felt so guilty, but. Blighted. She was Blighted, and Seia didn't care if she caught the Blight; she didn't use much magic anyway, and honestly, it sounded pretty nice for all her emotions to leech away, for the world to seem less bright. But there were children coming in and out of her shop all the time, each of their hearts glowing like bright embers, and what if, what if, what if. There seemed to be contention over whether the Blight was contagious or not, but she couldn't risk it, not when there was more than her at stake. Gods if she didn't want to though. Gods if it didn't hurt, every time she looked at the poor kid. It was the right call, she knew it was the right call, but she wished that it wasn't.

Another figure passed her on the street, and Seia's hand curled tighter over the bag she felt and cast her eyes down, chest tight with nerves. She always got nervous when walking home by herself, especially in the dark. Unfortunately, she usually closed late. Efrea wasn't kind to women, she knew this already, and everything seemed more sinister at night in the dim glow of the streetlamps, shrouded in flickering shadow. Her apartment was just a couple blocks away, it shouldn't take long now, she should... she should stop jumping at every flickering shadow. Why did she always do this. Every night, it was the same. As if she hadn't walked this same route a thousand times already.

With the ease of familiarity, Seia turned a corner without thinking - but this time she did it too quick and forgot that she carried something. The sharp edge of a fencepost caught at the bag, tore it from her grip. Shit. That was - the lip of a ceramic plate peeked out over the edge of the bag, started to tip towards the floor, followed by three others shit, shit shit. Quicker than she could think, Seia lunged to the side and caught them, edges awkwardly squeezed between the palms of her hands so that they don't chip. Her momentary relief was interrupted by the clatter of her stencils falling to the street. That. That was loud. Shoulders curled up in an embarrassed cringe, and Seia adjusted her hands, gently slid the plates back into her bag before she knelt down and gathered up her stencils, hoping that no one saw. Teach her to want to get a head start on the overglazing, huh. Did she drop her pencil too? Dammit.
Posts
5
Age
29
Gender
Male
Occupation
Blacksmith
Race
Uclainian
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.
Mar 19, 2018, 03:14 AM / 480 Words

Efrea was new.

Much of the rest of Kardia was. It wasn't as if Kaspian had spent a lot of time meandering around Kardia, before now. Typically, he kept to himself, and if he wasn't keeping to himself, he was keeping to his tribe, and his tribe never bothered too many other people, if only because it wasn't particularly in their best interests to go upsetting surrounding tribes. After all, his were a small one, not many warriors left in it after the string of battles against a neighboring tribe that had been and ended before he was born. Kaspian wasn't much of a warrior, himself; like most Uclainians, he tried, but he was a lover, too curious for his own good, too kind for a place where war was almost a constant. Almost, of course, for Kardia was ever so wrong about its ideas of Uclain's terrible treacherous culture. None used the term, but the word was in the back of their tone, like a well-guarded, terrible secret just begging to be said, as they spoke the title Uclainian and thought savage in the same breath.

He didn't care. That was always what he said, what he told himself, but Kaspian's gaze still hardened into a glare every time. He didn't care. And someday, those that said the name that way, they'd die. It wouldn't be from him, most likely, but someday, they'd die.

Most likely, he should find somewhere to stay... it wasn't like Kaspian was afraid of the dark. Something of the opposite, if only because at night, nobody was around to think savage around you. Nobody was there to look at you in this odd mix of revulsion and pity and fear, and Kaspian wasn't anyone to fear, not really. He heard his uncle was, but it wasn't as if Kaspian had ever met the man, just heard stories from his mother. He wondered how she and his sister were. He stopped thinking about it.

A loud clattering sound grabbed his attention, before he could think too deeply about whether he was finding an inn, or sleeping in a tree; someone down the way had dropped something. It sounded kind of bad, so, more out of curiosity, he shuffled toward the sound, peeked around the corner. His boot, made of animal hide instead of rubber, pressed against something, and he instinctively jerked his leg up; a pencil? Kaspian reached down, scooped it up. Maybe it was hers?

"Are you okay?" he asked. He'd learned Efrean, finally, but it was rather accented and coarse. "Is this yours?" He offered the pencil. Given the clattering, it was probably hers?
Posts
7
Age
18
Gender
Female
Occupation
Potter
Race
Efrean
It is not their rules that keep you bound, but yours.
Mar 19, 2018, 10:43 PM / 458 Words

Startled, Seia tightened her hold on her bag and stencils and looked up at the sudden voice. She had been so preoccupied with shutting out the world that she hadn't noticed anyone approaching. ... this, this was how people got randomly murdered, she was so paranoid and jumpy the rest of the time except when it actually mattered. Of course she was. Trepidation flashed across her face, and her eyes met his, darted down to his hand.

Oh. Oh, so she had dropped it after all. "I'm - thank you," she stammered, reached out and gingerly took her pencil. She picked up the last of her stencils, slid them in her bag, and slowly stood up, careful to not jostle the plates. Oh, that was sort of - she must've stood up too fast, that would explain the sudden head rush. Seia blinked and glanced down, hands tight over the handle of her bag as she swayed but didn't stumble. When the black cleared from her vision, her eyes darted to the tall stranger. "I'm okay," she said quietly. "Um. Thanks again. I didn't mean to be a bother." Hopefully it was dark enough that he couldn't see the red on her cheeks, but she was so pale and her blushes were always so obvious. Then again, maybe it was balanced out this time by the fact that she was still a little dizzy. This happened a lot nowadays, didn't it? She swore she didn't get so dizzy before. Maybe she just hadn't noticed.

He had a pretty thick accent, where was... Uclain? Seia wasn't very good at placing accents, up until a year ago she never really had the chance to go out that much, but it seemed like Uclain. Seia was all too aware of the tensions between the two countries; she'd lived close to the borders when it first started, and it was what led to... what was a Uclainian doing in Efrea? Her mind jumped to the other merchants, to overheard gossip about those barbaric Uclainian savages, so primitive, so dirty. Maybe she should feel the same way, but it never sat right with her. Still, Seia kept her mouth shut, kept her head down, but even as she tried to ignore the hatemongering her heart couldn't help jumping to her throat, now.

Then again, it probably had less to do with the fact that he was Uclainian and more with the fact that he had caught her unawares, caught her with her guard down, and that he was. Well. A he. Still, Seia couldn't help but feel guilty.
Posts
5
Age
29
Gender
Male
Occupation
Blacksmith
Race
Uclainian
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.
Mar 21, 2018, 02:41 AM / 385 Words

"You're welcome," Kaspian replied, almost instinctively, by now. Such social niceties were not as rare as they seemed they may be, in Uclain, and his parents had taught him manners. Was she sure she was okay? Logically, he surmised she'd know, certainly better than he, but her apparent fluster seemed to indicate perhaps not? Well, women had a different concept of what was embarrassing and what wasn't, around here. Efrea was foreign, in more ways than the one, and quite truthfully, Kaspian was relatively sure the struggle over the Paskia Desert was half resource, and half not losing to those uptight ninnies slash barbaric dogs. Fuck the Efrean aristocracy up their perfumed asses, right? He knew that one well enough, having heard such sentiments plenty of times from those in his own tribe, as far removed from such dissension as they were. And it wasn't so difficult to make inferences in regard to how the Efreans likely viewed Uclainians.

Subconsciously, he attempted to appear a little smaller than he was, slumping a bit, albeit the pride he held himself with didn't seem to dampen much at all. "Pardon my ah, bluntness, miss, but if you were bothering me, I'd have not turned around at all. I do know when it'd be better if I minded my business." He may not, always, appreciate such knowledge, but it wasn't entirely foreign to him. "I'm Kaspian," he mentioned. It seemed the right thing to do. "Um. Only half of this country will talk to me, so, could I ask where an inn is? ... preferably somewhere that barters, because, I don't really... carry around loose druz... but I can manage something to trade, at least." If they had need of someone capable of taking down a deer in ten minutes, Kaspian was their guy? Or, he could, fix their weaponry, or sharpen some dulled kitchen knives, or, hell, he knew how to clean. You know, in principle, he may not know the semantics of what cleaning agents were safe to use on natural wood and fancy marble with gold detailing, but he could figure it out.

Couldn't be that hard.
Posts
7
Age
18
Gender
Female
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Potter
Race
Efrean
It is not their rules that keep you bound, but yours.
Mar 21, 2018, 04:24 PM / 429 Words

That was. Sad. Seia wished she could be surprised at the unkindness he'd been shown, but she couldn't, because she knew, she knew how Uclainians were viewed nowadays. And in days before, in all honesty; war started with tension, and tension led to slander. "Sorry," she said again, almost reflexively, and then bit her lip. That was rude, wasn't it. She didn't know why, but it felt rude. "I'm, um. I'm Seia - wait, you don't - "

Finally she looked up, green eyes startled wide. He didn't have any druz? But how - right, Uclain ran mostly on a barter system, didn't it, but Efrea didn't. He couldn't have been here long, if he didn't have any druz, if he didn't even have a place to stay. Movement between the two countries were all but impossible now, at least through official channels, and she still wondered how and why he was here, but. It wasn't her business. There... there were probably a few places that took payment in other things, but... were men looked to for the same type of favours? He was cute, but. No, no, he probably meant - he probably didn't mean that. But still, he was Uclainian, very obviously Uclainian, they wouldn't treat him kindly at all.

She shouldn't care. She shouldn't. Kaspian had helped her, but he was a stranger, and it wasn't like he'd overextended or inconvenienced himself for her sake. And maybe he was lying, but what if he wasn't. What if he really did have nowhere to stay, and she could've helped, but she didn't. "I'm not sure," she said, shoulders hunched, and glanced down again. "Um. But." Nervously, she reached up and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, her mouth running ahead of her head. "I - I have a spare bed? If you. I mean. If you want." What. "Um. If that's okay with you, I don't mean to presume - "

What was she doing. Seia shut her mouth, ears burning. You don't just invite strangers into your house, that was. That was rude. And weird. He probably thought she was some sort of... but she couldn't well take it back now, could she.
Posts
5
Age
29
Gender
Male
Occupation
Blacksmith
Race
Uclainian
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.
Mar 28, 2018, 05:36 AM / 506 Words

Seia... the name sounded strange to him, yet, most names outside of Uclain did. He'd just have to get over that. It was a pretty sort of strange, easy to say, easy to remember, though it had an interesting hissing sound to it. He was probably overthinking, as often he did. What was with the look? Did he say something strange? He wouldn't deny the possibility, but he hadn't honestly thought about it too hard. His eyebrows arched a bit in mild confusion, but he didn't say anything, at first. Instead, despite the confusion, he had perhaps a slightly encouraging expression, or what he hoped was encouraging (you be an over six foot tall Uclainian male and not be at least a bit intimidating). Seia was a small thing, to be sure, much smaller than he was. Sort of like his sister was, albeit she had some bite to go along with it. Enough that it more than made up for her shorter stature. Seia, on the other hand... well, she was just small.

"Er, I'm not offended or anything, but, are you sure?" See over six foot tall Uclainian male clause. She was the first person to truly be kind to him since he'd crossed the border -- that much was to be expected, and he wasn't surprised by it whatsoever. He did have to wonder what had made her offer, though, given she hardly knew him, and he hardly knew her. Kaspian didn't typically like making other people uncomfortable. It was a simple matter of being Uclainian and in Efrea, that made him most likely to do so, anymore, but if he could avoid some of it, should he not? Hmm. Was it rude to refuse? She didn't seem like a hunter. Maybe she was a farmer? No, she was a hair too lithe, if he could even entirely call that lithe (it was, perhaps, more accurately called 'thin'), and he wondered how she got food. He remembered Efreans handled such things differently than Uclainians, but he couldn't remember specifics...

Well, perhaps he could forage and hunt, in return. Food was certainly in no small demand, albeit Kardia had a smaller population than it could. It should be sufficient enough to make him feel at least a bit better about essentially invading another's home, though he wasn't the worst person to do so. Kaspian was always on his best behavior, if only because it tended to get him farther than being a jerk, no?

"I'm accustomed to sleeping in trees and under bridges, if it'd be... less... awkward? For you?" Was that the word he was looking for? His face scrunched up, almost as if he had no idea what he'd just said. He thought that was right, so he made no attempt to rectify his perceived mess up.
Posts
7
Age
18
Gender
Female
Occupation
Potter
Race
Efrean
It is not their rules that keep you bound, but yours.
Mar 28, 2018, 11:49 PM / 531 Words

Truthfully, Seia had expected Kaspian to... slap her and leave, maybe, for being so forward. Or. Maybe that was going a bit too far? By now, Seia knew that the violence she had grown accustomed to was not the norm, but she still didn't know what was. ... inviting strangers into your house was also not the norm. There were some who could disregard the rules, strong men who had wealth or power or both, cunning enough to outsmart any would-be attacker, but she was - she was just a weak little girl with no hounds to her name and swayed where she stood. For all she knew, maybe this was one of her late husband's creditors toying with her before he went in for the kill. ... if that were the case, she'd be screwed either way? So there was no point on worrying about it...

As if telling herself to not worry had ever worked. Besides, she was... she was being ridiculous. After all, she was the one who offered in the first place, what right did she have to second-guess herself now? Guilt bit at his question. He must've seen some of her self-doubt if he asked that, not that it was difficult to do so. Chris had always told her she was far too open, that he could never do any business with her around. One look at your eyes and they'll know all my secrets. "Yes. I mean, I'm sure if you're okay with it too?" Her hands twisted around the handle of her bag, knuckles white. "Um, most places here accept payment only in Druz," she said, feeling the need to explain, "and... and the ones that don't are not..." she let out a fast, nervous breath. "They're not always kind." Especially to Uclainians. She didn't say that. Kaspian likely already knew. Efrea in general wasn't kind to Uclainians nowadays.

... was he implying that he'd sleep on the - bridges and trees? Worry darted across her face. When was the last time he'd slept on a bed? She must seem so spoiled to him. "No!" Seia shook her head. "No, um. It's. It's fine, I have an extra bed." Actually, the guest bedroom was the master bedroom, the only room in her apartment that resembled her previous life to appeal to some of her more distinguished guests. She couldn't afford to disappoint them. Besides, Seia herself didn't need much and she felt more comfortable in the smaller space. Shit, if any of those guests did come around, what would she say... well, it's not like it happened very often. Maybe Kaspian would've found another place that better suited him by then. "I live in an apartment," she said, giving Kaspian a small, fleeting smile, and pointed down the street, "two blocks that way. So I don't have any trees or bridges to offer you, anyway."
Posts
5
Age
29
Gender
Male
Occupation
Blacksmith
Race
Uclainian
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.
Apr 07, 2018, 03:43 AM / 370 Words

Especially to Uclainians.

She, of course, didn't have to say it. He knew that, long before he'd asked her where an inn was, that accepted druz, he knew that he was unlikely to get an answer that didn't include probably a relatively healthy amount of murmurs, glares, perhaps outright violence. It wasn't as if Kaspian wasn't accustomed to such things. Violence happened in Uclain, perhaps less often than most outside of it believed, but it happened. And truth be told, despite that he should, Kaspian feared very little, particularly in Efrea. If Efrea was going to tousle with Uclain over the Paskia Desert (which, Kaspian couldn't give many shits less about), it'd need to build a backbone of dragon scale, because Uclain's blades would tear right through their current one like it was paper in the rain.

But that was none of his business, now was it. He was neither tribal leader, nor did he know one, nor did he want to, either of those things. The politics of Kardia were far from a favored pastime for him, primarily because he had more pressing things to be concerned with, like where he was going to sleep, and which place in Kardia was next on his list of places to visit.

He couldn't help the amused sound, though. She looked worried, for a second. "Don't make that face, uh? In Uclain, you sleep on the good earth. You know, not near the grass, bloody snakes and all, point is it's normal for me." Or at least, as normal for him as normal got. Kaspian was a bit strange, he'd admit to that, at least. "Hmm, well, we can figure it out. Floors work, too." It didn't have to be a tree or a bridge. "If nothing else, I don't think I like you walking home by yourself." Uclainian women wouldn't have an issue, but, Seia was most certainly not Uclainian. A little too mousey to manage to stand her own ground, Kaspian thought.
Posts
7
Age
18
Gender
Female
Occupation
Potter
Race
Efrean
It is not their rules that keep you bound, but yours.
Apr 07, 2018, 08:13 PM / 474 Words

But she just said she had a - Seia didn't press the point. She'll remind him again, once they got home, and if he still insisted... that couldn't be healthy, could it? Sleeping on the floor all the time. Bad for the back and all, with it being so hard. Then again, when she had first gotten married it'd taken some time before she grew used to the soft beds and smooth covers Chris had favoured. Were snakes a common problem in Uclain? Well, she supposed they were also a problem here, but not really as much of a notable one. She had seen more snakes in her youth, but Kaspian probably didn't mean the little garden snakes she found beneath rocks and bushes that seemed more shy than anything. "Sorry," she said quietly. "I don't know much about Uclain." Most of Efrea didn't. What little she knew of it was carried over from her youth, and her memory was stuttering and slow at the best of times. Maybe she could've looked more into it now, but people grew suspicious nowadays at anyone who expressed undue interest in Uclain. 

... he didn't? Seia swallowed back her unease, pretended that it was only surprise that made her heart jump, that made her tight stomach clench even further and send a spasm of not-quite pain that she barely even registered anymore. Why, she wondered, but she had long been trained out of the habit of asking extraneous questions. "I'm not usually so clumsy," she said with a small laugh as she started back towards her apartment, trying to keep her tone light. Well. She was clumsy, but. "That's kind of you to say, though. Thank you." It would probably be worse without all the lessons on poise and grace that had been drilled into her throughout the last several years, that singled her out as different among her current compatriots. Losing the backwards arch of her shoulders and training them to curl inwards instead had been easy, but she still carried herself in a way that was too deliberate and restrained. Seia couldn't seem to find the ease of movement that defined the more common class, that made their bodies so expressive and vulgar. It should be in her blood, but maybe she never had it in the first place. 

Wasn't that such an ironic thing. She, an imposter among the rich merchants, who themselves were considered imposters among the ancient nobles, now an imposter among the working class. Seia felt like a ghost sometimes, drifting at the edge between worlds. Maybe she was. Her mind was always so hazy nowadays.
Posts
5
Age
29
Gender
Male
Occupation
Blacksmith
Race
Uclainian
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.
Apr 10, 2018, 05:09 AM / 446 Words

Well, he didn't imagine too many people in Efrea knew much about Uclain, unless, of course, they'd been there themselves. Even then, it was unlikely they knew much about it, really knew much, that is. Uclain varied so much, and its people did, too. It was difficult, to place a blanket generalization on all of Uclain, and all Uclainians, because the two were not necessarily capable of fitting under a blanket generalization. Any such thing one could think up, surely at least a few fit under it, but there were probably many more that didn't. Kaspian wasn't sure if that was an invitation to talk about it, or not. She seemed accepting, so far, perhaps it wouldn't hurt anything. Maybe it'd be interesting, even. Some enjoyed learning things like that, of course.

"Most don't, because it's hard to generalize Uclain," Kaspian said. She seemed like she could use a subject change, if nothing else. "It's like trying to summarize a basket of different fruits. They're a basket of fruit, but it doesn't say much, ultimately. Uclain has its fair share of fruits, to be sure. Some call them crazy. Sometimes we call them crazy. But once in a while, you run into a vegetable. Or a nut. Ah, and that one's a fish, how'd that even get in there?" Metaphors, of course. "The terrain changes readily. The climate does, too, and the people follow suit. The forest Uclainians aren't really the same as the steppe Uclainians. Even different tribes in the same geographic area vary from one another. It's part of why Uclain can never really get along. Usually they're either just too different, or one tribe just happens to be sitting on resources. And if that's not bad enough, yeah, there are snakes, leopards, occasional dragons... it's home, and I wouldn't change it for anything, but sometimes, I do wish it was a little less exciting, you know?"

Kaspian made an amused expression, almost like a young boy that discovered some taboo word, or a rare bug or something. "It does make the rest of Kardia a bit underwhelming." It wasn't entirely fair, of course. Naturally, he thought the rest of Kardia somewhat boring. He spent his life running from leopards and dodging spears. "It's a good thing, though. If the rest of Kardia was as exciting as Uclain, I'd be wondering where on earth our ancestors went so wrong."
Posts
7
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18
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Female
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Potter
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Efrean
It is not their rules that keep you bound, but yours.
Apr 13, 2018, 12:08 AM / 599 Words

... that was an amusing metaphor. Seia smiled, small and brief, but it vanished as quick as it came. It was okay to find it funny, right? He must've meant it like that. Or, at least she thought he did. Was she overthinking again? She was probably overthinking again. Why she did this, Seia didn't know. Thinking was hard enough by itself on most days, so of course she had to go and do it more. It shouldn't be as hard for her as it was, but she was inadequate, what else was new. Huh. It did make sense for everything to be so different. Uclain was big, and even within Efrea the regions more inland or to the north and south lived differently from the people here. Seia only had firsthand knowledge of the interior, but she did remember it had taken some getting used to when she first moved to Nereida. It must be even more difficult for Kaspian; she couldn't imagine the culture shock that came from moving countries, not just cities.

"I bet it does," Seia said, glancing at Kaspian from the corner of her eye to make sure that it was her cue to speak. Just for a second, before they returned to squinting at the road before her. The lamps helped a little with illuminating the darkness, but come twilight the world rapidly devolved into a mess of moving dark shapes that she had to work at extra hard in order to decipher. There was somebody with her, now, and it made her extra self-conscious about her terrible night vision, about not embarrassing herself again. She would, undoubtedly, but once a day was more than enough. "I can't imagine living like that. Other people already bring enough danger."

Shit. She hadn't meant to say that. "To ourselves," she added quickly. "Sometimes. Only sometimes. Um." Dammit, if she had simply left it alone, it would've seemed less suspicious. "It must be nice to not worry so much about your life?" she asked, trying to divert his attention. "At least, it sounds like it should be. To me." She bit her lip, forced herself to look ahead and not down. They were close, now, it would be just like her to miss her own house. "But maybe I'm wrong. I don't know much."

Ah, there it was. Seia's footsteps slowed, and she shifted her bag onto one hip, reaching into it until she found the familiar cool metal of her keys. "My apartment's on the third floor," she said, nodding to the building at their right as she sorted through her keys until she found the right one. There were a couple there; one for her apartment, one for the complex itself, which was what she needed right now, and a few for her shop like the doors and the storage and the roof. She walked up to the doors, jiggled the key in the lock. Sometimes it got stuck. "The elevator doesn't work right now," she said apologetically. "Sorry. You'll probably find the stairs easier than me, though," she said with a small smile. Oh, there we go. ... hopefully they wouldn't meet any of her neighbours on the way up, because, how would she even explain her just randomly bringing a strange man home...
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