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 BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory

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Lac'Nal

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PostSubject: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:33 am

(When Puddin' had heard Ell's scrapping and tapping on the door, he had darted around Colleen and whistled the first few notes of the "Crimson Dragoon's Anthem. Elija had whistled the next few lines and Puddin' had slid the steel bolt back and pulled the large metal door open)

“L” glared at Puddin’ “If yas has let them Scalies eats me mum Puddin’ Ise bloody well lops yuz Nebuchadnezzar off to put owt for bait an’ uses it ta catches Scallies, Iz will.” Elija said as he moved towards Puddin’

Puddin’(MC-MAJOR CHARACTER) held up his hands and said “Hol’ on mate yuz Mum is here. She be there.” Puddin pointed to the door of an joining room, where Colleen was slowly limping into the view. Resting one hand on Daisy's(MC) shoulder and using a sword as a cane.

When "L" seen Colleen his eyes lit up, grined and said to Puddin' "Sorry Mate. Iz wouldn' 'ave used yur Nebuchadnezzar for bait." he then punched Puddin' on the arm and said " 'sides it ain't big enough ta tempt no Scallie. 'less thays be just out tha egg."

Puddin' punched Elija on the arm, grinned and said " 'L' ya ain't gots 'ands big 'nough ta 'old me Nebuchadnezzar 'r the muscle ta lift it."

The rest of the SHODDY END GANG laughed.
Galley(MC), Jack(MC), Cricket(MC), Frankie(MC), and Sam Shinner(MC) and Lil(MC)


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:34 am



After the trio lunched in the sun, Curt retired to his cabin to rest and Payden took control of the sloop for the rest of the day. Though, as Curt promised, it was an easy enough task; for the winds blew from the southwest all day and the current swept the Sylph along unfailingly.

Gertrude fetched her notebook from her carpetbag and situated herself where she would not be in Mr. Raynsford’s way. When she grew bored of polishing her account of their journey, she turned her hand to verse, luxuriating in the salty air, lilting with the rocking of the boat. She found it easy to wax on about the honey sunlight glistening on the ropes, the sails panting like the chests of racing white horses, the spray as fine and fleeting as nostalgia…but soon realized her poems had no aim and therefore no life.

She discarded them and turned the page, inspired to write a play about three characters traveling on a boat. Only, instead of traveling on the ocean, they were traveling down the river that used to run past Hedgefew and through several villages. All three of them were men. Their expedition was to be one of pleasure, but on the way they met with secrets, betrayals, mistaken identity and of course, love. It was a comedy and therefore it would have a happy ending. Pursuing the gentlemen’s river voyage over her scribbled pages, Gertrude kept herself entertained until evening. When the wind began to blow more strongly and she felt weary from so much exposure, she went into her cabin to continue, chuckling to herself from time to time. Travel is always good for inspiration, she reflected. When she had to stop and massage her hand from time to time, she dreamed of Ursha, anticipating what lay ahead.

As evening drew on, the waves breathed up a gray mist and clouds came rolling up from the south, close and dismal as a funeral party. They wept a thin veil of rain for half an hour before carrying their miseries into the horizon. A pink line emerged over the waves in the west, and Curt emerged from his hibernation, bidding his companions a good evening. As at the start of their voyage, the count seemed immensely pleased and smiled most of the time, as if he knew an amusing secret.

When it was time for dinner, Curt and Payden, in caution of the weather, laid out a simple meal in the sheltered public space between cabins. Curt summoned Gertrude from her cabin with a polite knock. The young lady emerged a few moments later looking flushed in the amber lantern light.



“Oh, dear, I wish you’d told me,” she indicated the dinner spread, “and I would have helped. I didn’t realize how late it was.” Despite her humility, Gertrude was tense and looked uneasy as someone who’s misplaced something important.

After receiving polite inquiries from the gentlemen, she said by way of explanation, “It’s always like this—or nearly—when there’s weather.” Her voice trembled very slightly.

Curt’s eye flashed like the eye of a magpie. “Your magic?”

Gertrude’s gaze flickered over her companions’ faces before returning to the safety of the small dinner table. “It’s still so odd to talk about it.”

“Ah, but we must accustom ourselves to such talk—for is that not the very aim of our journey? To get at the heart of magic?” Curt said.

Gertrude merely nodded and slipped into one booth-style seat beside the table, which itself was little more than a wooden plank that could be folded up and fastened to the wall to make more room in the small chamber. Once seated, Gertrude quickly became fascinated with her silverware. As the boat rose and fell, the lantern light snaked back and forth over the place settings and the water in the pitcher wobbled. Gertrude was glad that she didn’t feel seasick—at least, not yet. The crackle of energy inside her made her bones feel like they were rattling and it was hard to imagine feeling anything else.

“What do you fear most, Miss de Pontu?” Curt asked as he and Payden took their seats. “Is it hurting someone inadvertently?”

Her eyes snapped to the count’s with a look that suggested he was right. Though a moment later she said, “That does worry me, of course. But at the moment, I am most perplexed by my inability to…choose what form the magic takes.” She looked at the fork in her hand and bit her lip. Her face turned a paler shade of white, making faint freckles appear over the bridge of her nose and the small mole on her cheek stand out. She let out a frayed breath, as if she had been holding it, and lemon-white crackles of electricity snapped and licked quietly between the tines of her fork. Her eyes remained fixed on the utensil as she said in a low voice, “I advise you to stay clear of me, just now, the both of you.”

Curt’s eyes narrowed like someone peering into the distance, though his stare was fixed on Gertrude and the fork. A grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Marvelous!”

Gertrude took her eyes off the utensil and looked at the gentlemen, finding them both watching in interest. Electrical energy continued to fizz the length of the silver fork even though she wasn’t focused on it. She was panting, like someone who was exerting herself.

Most unexpected of all to Gertrude, she felt a flash of nervousness, as if she was about to give a musical recital. It’s rather the same level of personal exposure, she reflected. With the brush of anxiety against her senses, the felt the power grow weak. She thought she could dispel it easily now, if she so tried.

Gertrude closed her eyes and in her mind spoke the traditional closing she always used, Go in peace and know you are always welcome here… Her grip on the fork slackened and the energy receded into her again, though she continued to feel lively in the deepest part of herself, as if adrenaline was flowing in her blood. She licked her lips, which felt dry, and opened her eyes to see the gentlemen still observing her, almost like a pair of ornithologists watching a nightingale sing his courtship operetta.

“What I really need,” she told them matter-of-factly, “is some butter.”

Curt's furrow was almost comical, “Butter?” he demanded.

Gertrude looked at Mr. Raynsford. “What about you? Can you decide what your magic does, when it comes? And can your exercise it with compliant control?” She realized too late that she was babbling, but she couldn’t be bothered to worry about that fact. Either they would understand, or they wouldn’t.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:30 am



The relief Colleen felt when she saw Elija was almost draining. She was so glad the boy hadn’t been hurt in any way. Of course her relief turned to more worry when she saw the soldiers beginning to file into the large room with the children intermingled in them. Confusion mixed with her worry as she looked around. When she looked around again to talk to the soldiers, she recognized the face of the man who’d helped her find Elija earlier then gave him the metal. Blinking, her look turned to surprise when she saw the bright red uniform and the rank insignia on his shoulder lapels.

“Captain….Mandek? I…didn’t realize…you were a soldier.”

Colleen gave a puzzled look around at the men with him then turned her dark blue gaze to him once more.

“I take it things aren’t going so well over head if you all have taken refuge in these tunnels.”

Colleen’s words were more of a statement than a question and she didn’t seem upset in the least by her matter-of-fact words. There was a moment’s pause before she spoke up again.

“What do you need me to do, Captain?”
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:40 am



Captain Mandek, tipped his hat to Mrs. Smith but his face remained cold and emotionless. He was more concerned with her disheveled state than formalities, for in the brief time he had spent in her company, Basha had found her to be level headed and strong of will. Even in the dank dungeon he didn't expect her to be so unnerved and in his experience there were only a few things that could frighten such a person so.

"First off, Mrs. Smith," Basha began in reply to her proposal, "I want to know if you've come in contact with any Lizzies down here?"

When the Captain made reference to Ta'kun being in the sewers, Clubber, Book and Sandy, immediately looked around and readied their weapons. Only the Captain remained at ease, as he suspected they were not in the immediate vicinity, if in fact there were any at all. As for the explanation of his captaincy, he hardly had the time for long stories, so he gave her the short version, which was telling her that, "It was the only jacket they had left."

Colleen could see that one of his soldiers, the one with the dark wavy hair, lowered his eyes to the ground, stifling a laugh at Basha's little quip. The Captain glanced over toward Book for a moment but said nothing and flashed his eyes back toward Elija and his mother.

"Please join us, Mrs. Smith." Captain Mandek asked, motioning for her follow him into the main room, "We some planning to do, and since your son is going to be a big part of them, I believe you should be involved."

Back in the main room, Basha began to explain his plan to Colleen. About how he required the Shoddy End kids to guide them through the sewers and lead his men deep into enemy territory so that they might be able to get a clear shot at the leader.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:08 am



The scent of the electrical charge from Gertrude's display of elemental magic filled the small area. Payden, continued to eat, however, it had been a long day and he was positively ravenous, although he had taken several polite pauses to pay attention to Miss de Pontu's demonstration. When she asked of his abilities, the young man quickly chewed back a morsel and washed it down with a quick drink, but continued to cut up some of his food while he answered.

"My... skills... are far more subtle than yours it would seem, Miss de Pontu, and thus far I have had some success in controlling my 'sight' or scrying as you would call it. You see my magic is quite invasive and so I rarely practice it." Payden briefly answered then returned to eating, but stopped to add a comment, "But the few times I have used a skill, such as peering into a person's mind, I have felt something sinister, something dark in my soul and so I try to refrain from using them."

Satisfied that he had answered her question as best he could, Payden returned to his supper and quietly ate.
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PostSubject: Book Three: Because we already wrote Book One and Two   Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:50 am

No More Dreams.

Dear Jessica,

Days are growing long once more and I can feel the warmth of summer approaching; warming the cold stone walls of Fort Glory. Not unlike your smile, sweet as honey, warms, nay, sets my heart aflame. How I long for the day we will be reunited. I realize I have not written in a while, but things are hectic these days. Luckily I have some time to spare and I could no longer bare the pain in my heart for not writing you as long as I have.

First things first, my love. Since my last letter I have received a short note from your parents. They are well, and so is our daughter. As per usual, their letter gave but few impressions of Liranne’s well being, but I am confident she is well and is making the both of us proud.

Fort Glory is much like always; an always changing décor for the play that is my life. The fortress is much like always, but new people move in while others move on. These past few days I have met two people I dare call extraordinary in their own right. I know Eldorf and Simon have their issues but I gladly welcome any who can add their knowledge and skills to ours. Only a couple of days ago I met the industrious Andreas Marcus Samuel de Pontu, though he prefers to be called “Andy”, and he brings with him a breath of fresh air and a new perspective I feel we will learn to appreciate before long.

The young man has told me of his family whom he came to visit in Fort Glory. His older sister had taken residence in Fort Glory long before I had arrived. She, her Husband and child settled here after the destruction of our beloved home and have since been picking up the pieces. Andy had taken residence in the city of Baloc, but despite its size and opportunities it was perhaps too established for him to find his place among its people. He and his younger sister, Miss Gertrude, journeyed to Fort Glory after their sister, Sophie, had pleaded for their family to reunite and her husband, Beau Bradley, had assured them there were plenty of opportunities in Fort Glory, being the current home of King Dorian, after all.

He has since met not only the three of us but also a number of Fort Glory’s finest. Amongst them is Fort Glory’s female farrier, Colleen Smith, with whom he attempts to build a weapon with which to combat the dragons. It was through this very idea he came into contact with Eldorf and the rest of us. I know I have never spoken much about the other people of the town, but she is certainly one I should not have skipped. Despite the people’s misgivings about the woman and her chosen profession she is most capable and a true asset to the town, you would surely be able to admire her spirit, dearest Jessica. From what I heard she even took a chance on one of the young street urchins you have heard me gripe about in some previous letters. Despite that I feel these young children are more trouble than they’re worth it is an admirable action and in a way suits the smith just right. And even though you would not think it, the word is the two of them go well together, despite both their backgrounds and the young one’s troubled past amongst the likes of dishonorable street thugs.

Though Andy was reluctant at first, he and I have found some time to trade stories. It was not easy to stir him, but after telling him the story about how we took that walk one fateful morning I got him to talk. I still remember every detail, Jessica. Your honeysweet smell still fresh in my mind, the twinkle in your sparkling green eyes and the exact tune the birds sang, just for the two of us. If I didn’t think the people around me would grow tired of the story I would never stop telling it, dearest. I long for the day we can do it all over again, I long for it more with every passing day.

Afterwards, Andreas spoke most passionately about his family. His faith in his brother in law seemed lacking, and though he gave ample reason to believe him unfit for the world we have found ourselves in, I believe he may be a bit too harsh on the man and should rely on his sister’s judgment at least. He scoffed at the thought at first but then had to consider it as he spoke highly of Sophie and how they had managed to preserve so much of what they had, in this time and place where we have so little. Sophie and Beau had managed to keep their house in order while raising their child like they would before the catastrophe as best they could. Though certainly he was fondest of his little sister, whom he had personally swept away to keep her out of the dragons’ raging path.

He described her as a most interesting young woman and I like to think you would have loved to spend some time with her. I’m led to believe she has a great flair for the dramatic and a strong sense for the spiritual. Andreas said that if there was any reason for him to believe in anything besides the here and now it would be because of Gertrude’s influence during the time they spent together. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something about his sister seemed to indicate beyond a doubt there was more than the eye could see, not just to the world in which he lived, but also to her. His suspicions were only fueled by her the strange behavior she showed at times. There was something about her Andreas couldn’t or wasn’t supposed to see. I doubt many people have an inkling of how that feels, but in a sense we share that much with the young entrepreneur. Perhaps I’ll tell him one day.

I have already spoken of the Amazing Richard and the stories Simon had told me about his old friend, but now that he has arrived in Fort Glory I can say every single word I might have thought were fables could very well be true. Though, it has come to my attention Richard has had a more troubling past than the stories that the public spread about him suggest, his powers are indeed potent and will surely help us greatly as we come ever closer to completing our quest. Perhaps in time I can come closer to him as well, but no doubt he feels if he would drop his cloak of magic and power he would be very much misunderstood and alone. I get the feeling this magic is both blessing and curse the more I learn about it.

Oh, how I wish I could be with Liranne right now.

Forever yours,

Frederic


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:15 pm

Beyond the experiences of Frederic van Sandt the world of No More Dreams is inhabited by a great amount of people. All of them are special and noteworthy in their own right while they fight to survive against the dragons and their kin; the ta’kun and the mermadons.

It is strange, to find the ta’kun so far from the mountains which the dragon kin have claimed without question. But surely the mermadon who has mustered the ta’kun, Lord Yassun, has his motives, his objectives and his desires that require the annihilation of Fort Glory and all who live within its walls.

Still, many humans stand in between Yassun and his goal, those who have entangled their fate with Fort Glory and King Dorian. People like Guyer Faulks, Basha Mandek, Captain MacBhaird, the band of street urchins and many others. Others have cut their losses and seek their fortune amongst the remnants of Ursha. Following Count Curt of Ursha are Gertrude de Pontu and Payden Raynsford.

These last three have found themselves on their way to the lands of Ursha and the magical mysteries it might hold. Gertrude, Andreas’ younger sister who is gifted with energy magic figured her destiny to lie with learning all she could about the powers she held within as did the once railway warden, Payden, commanding the powers of the mind. Only time can tell what mysteries they will find in Ursha and what they can learn from the rather strange Count they have chosen to follow.

While many citizens of Fort Glory have managed to flee the city with the last of the trains the city harbored others are now more or less stuck and must fight or flee to survive against the merciless ta’kun. Most ta’kun are engaging the last of Fort Glory’s defenses while others are in hiding and waiting for their chance to jump into the fray.

King Dorian, hero of mankind and the only ruler willing to openly defy the dragons, once proclaimed he’d love nothing more but to take the fight to the dragons in person, if only he had wings he’d fly up to them this instant and slice their scaly necks with his sword. But he had to admit he was but human, and humans don’t have wings. But he promised his loyal subjects, whenever he found a way to make people fly, the dragons would soon be a distant memory. It had been years since the inspirational speech he gave back then, a speech which so eloquently showed that he realized their current inability to defeat the flying lizards but a promise to find a way and subsequently be rid of them as soon as they could.

King Dorian, though capable and with much support amongst his people, has spent years fighting a defensive war, mostly against the vile creatures the dragons introduced to their world and not even them directly. These creatures themselves were a big enough problem as it was and had forced the humans on the defensive even without the direct support of their flying masters. What the dragons were up to was anyone’s guess. But with increased sightings of ta’kun came increased sightings of dragons and it seemed inevitable that the conflict would only intensify as time went on.

Even the King was growing desperate, hoping for a breakthrough somewhere, somehow. His closest servants searched for capable magicians to turn the tide, brilliant strategists, or grand scientists. He sought for any and all glimmers of hope, but his people found few of these people who had any real potential, and now he had lost his daughter while the ta’kun were at his doorstep.

King Dorian had already lost two sons since the war, all he had left was his daughter, princess Zelda. Only a few days before Fort Glory’s siege she had been allegedly ambushed by a dragon while she traveled with her escorts towards Wetmulder Hold to the east of Fort Glory. Though, neither the King nor his staff have officially admitted the disappearance of the princess the King has spent all his time secluded since the rumor began to circulate struck down by grief and paralyzed by a lack of hope.

Fort Glory has since then depended on its capable captain of the guard MacBhaird. A sturdy northerner with many years of experience who has assisted the King for many years now and is one of his most trusted advisors. Yet with all his expertise and the men under his command he is hard pushed to keep the town out of the clutches of Rashi and her Red Fists, especially with the wizard Yassun in their midst. Luckily the town has given refuge to many capable people, and not the least among them is one of the Crimson Dragoons, Basha Mandek. Though, Mandek had long since the initial dragon invasion given up on his military career hoping to find a simpler life there seemed to be no escape for the veteran when war came to him and the people of Fort Glory called upon him. Given his heroics during start of the invasion he was quickly given the rank of captain in King Dorian’s army. The rank he once held as a Crimson Dragoon.

Perhaps Fort Glory would not even stand to this day had it not been for the dedication of those who uphold the law and with it the human values which we hold dear. If there is anyone in Fort Glory who is dedicated to these values and to bring justice to those who cannot hold themselves to the spirit of the law it is Guyer Faulks. The great inspector once busied himself with putting the most dangerous of all criminals behind bars but now he is suddenly confronted with a very different threat to the human values he has sworn to uphold, as the ta’kun descend upon his home.

Faulks’ prey too is forced to react to the threat to Fort Glory, whereas some of the rats abandon ship, others dig in with the rest of the citizens. Though one might look upon the band of street urchins as either good or bad, there is no doubt their knowledge of the city is nearly unmatched and they do not lack determination or courage. Whether or not all of it is enough against a foe so relentless and alien as the ta’kun and their masters remains to be seen.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:39 pm



Colleen tilted her head slightly at Basha as he explained the best he could his uniform and ranking. The slight chuckle from the other soldier didn’t go unnoticed and Colleen made a mental note to let Captain Mandek know he didn’t have her fooled for a moment.

But right now, as Basha had p ointed out, they had things to discuss. Especially when she found out Elija and the other children were involved. Needless to say, the concern that crossed her face when Basha explained how the children were going to help was unmistakable. While everything within her and her own maternal instinct screamed NO, she knew they had no chance without the childrens’ help. Even as Basha explained things to her in as much detail as time would allow, her eyes rested on each of the children and she couldn’t help but feel a tugging at her heart for each of them. What if this were the last time they were to see them?

No. She couldn’t think like that. Colleen finally turned her full attention back to Captain Mandek and his men and nodded reluctantly.

“If things were different, I’d argue the whole point with you but….desperate times call for desperate measures. While I know these children are quite resourceful and quick thinking, they are still children and I think it’s safer for them to be in you and your men’s company than alone. Fear has frozen a many seasoned warrior on more than one occasion. You can imagine what it does to a child. Street smart or not.”

Her gaze slid over the men in Basha’s company then before she let her dark blue gaze settle on the icy, cold, blue gaze of Basha.

“I’m not going to sit here and worry and wonder while all of you are out there. I’m coming with you. Elija helped me bring some of the blades from my shop down here. I’ve learned the bellies of these bastards are quite vulnerable and my blades have been crafted to deal with particularly touch, scaly hides. SO what ever you need me to do, that doesn’t involve sitting here, I’m at your disposal, Captain.”

The look she was giving Basha now told him if he denied her request, he’d find out the hard way just how stubborn she really was. And what he saw at Gypsie’s place was just the tip of the iceberg.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:14 pm

Even the mightiest of dragons needs to spread his wings once in a while. I would argue for the beauty of a dragon’s flight any day but when Lord of the dragons Koldarris takes flight it is a sight of pure dread. The fact that such a large creature can even lift from the ground is already a mind boggling realization. Quickly followed is the realization of not only the physical strength behind it but also the ability to manipulate the essence of magic.

It has left me wondering, questioning the fundamentals of the universe. The dragons of spawns past had grown to even greater power, if nothing else the greatest of the dragons were slowly but surely degenerating as they were being usurped. The largest only think about becoming more powerful so that they may at one point join their illustrious forbearers, but realistically the trend has turned against them. Then here’s the ugly question, are dragons meant to survive for much longer? Of course none of my brothers and sisters would dare think of the past few spawns as anything but a fluke. But I see the writing on the wall.

It has taken a long time, but it does make sense, for all our quests for power we are merely collectively growing weaker. The power we once had has corrupted our kind and has become the poison that will lead to our downfall. Only I have seen the light of our salvation. I, Kaizur, know the course of action we must take to fulfill our destiny or face eternal damnation.

It is all so simple, the reason why we fight one another for scraps when we were young, to the quarrels over our place in the dragon hierarchy is only serving the one on top and that position is as fleeting as the life of the scroungy mammals we find ourselves pitted against today. Perhaps now is our chance, our chance to make a difference, our chance to redeem ourselves in the face of the Everlasting.

Koldarris, the almighty, the guiding light who tempts us to go into the shadow is distracted with his petty mermadon thief.

How did one single elder mermadon manage to tick of the greatest of dragons? Is she just a petty thief? Or is Cindra Elon perhaps a bit more? Was this truly just a matter of principle for which Koldarris had put many a resource aside?

It was just as his shadow passed me I discovered there must be more to it than that. He could care less for Cindra, he wanted the pearl. But what value could a tiny rock have to the most powerful of dragons? Was it rather the book that held secrets dear to him? The book of dragons, written in the near forgotten language of our kind, known to but a select few for it takes a near eternity to learn and none who know it care to teach it. Least of all Koldarris. Obviously in the written word of his kind there was some kind of power hidden. And that very language was the key to the book which was stolen from him. A book written by a long forgotten mermadon who took down notes provided by Terrasil himself. The potential wisdom hidden within those pages might very well change the very fate of dragonkind.

It was then I decided to search for that which Koldarris sought.
Not for his greed.
But for our salvation!

Humans, beware! Kaizur will accept no one in his path.
Dragons, rejoice! The reckoning is nigh.
The Everlasting be praised!
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:53 pm



“God Damnit, Frederic!”

Van Sandt wasn’t quite sure what happened but he jumped up, dropping what he was doing. Due to his sudden movement his top hat toppled off his short curled hair and he could only barely prevent it from dropping to the floor.

“This is not the time to start writing your will. You should have thought of that before we were in the middle of a bloody warzone…” McVogh said, when he had gotten the desired effect he turned his gaze back to the window which he sat in front.

He had one of the crossbows he cherished and watched for activity on the street. Richard had found himself a bottle of scotch while Andy made sure he filled his rifle’s strap with new cartridges.

“How many did we get Eldorf?” Richard asked as he poured several glasses of drinks until the bottle was practically dry.

“Like… I don’t know… Seven?” McVogh said distracted. Next to the door there was a dead lesser ta’kun, with two bolts sticking out of its chest and its jagged dagger still next to its lifeless body.

“What fight were you in?” Richard wondered before gulping down a good deal of scotch, “I must have gotten ten on my own, you know.”

“Burning them after I stab them doesn’t count as your kill, Richard.” Frederic said.

“Oh, you merely scratched that one! I saved your life!” Richard defended himself.

While the men argued and drank their drinks Frederic collected the pencil and paper he had dropped from the floor. Some of his paper had fallen in puddle of blood and would now be forever tainted by the red stain of ta’kun blood. He didn’t pay it much mind however, before folding the papers and sticking them in a pocket of his jacket. In fact, his entire jacket, no longer in one piece either, was covered in splatters of blood.

“We can’t stay here.” Andreas said as his hand trembled towards the glass filled to the brim with the amber liquid.

“I’d rather not stay in this tavern either, we can’t stay here, but with the streets in their current state I’m not sure we can go anywhere else.” McVogh said, taking a last look at their surroundings before also coming towards the bar to find him a drink.

“We have to try and get into the keep, or we won’t make it through the night.” Andreas rephrased while the other three quenched their thirst.

Though they were not quite up for a verbal reply the three of them nodded as they recovered from the highly alcoholic spirit. Andreas left his drink for what it was and went for the door towards the street, the others finished their drink before grabbing their gear and following the young industrialist.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:49 am



After his fruitless encounter with Splevey, Faulks rested on the vacant veranda for perhaps a quarter of an hour. Another lull had come over the town, and when gunfire sounded, it was short and stuttered. Either the defenders were relying almost entirely on cold steel now, or the tak’un had withdrawn for the moment. The street around him had grown quieter too, though the occasional drunken choir warbled into the smoky evening and the scattered shards of broken piano chords fell on him from time to time. Faulks looked up and through weary eyes saw a misty orange glow still wavering above Harker’s Lane where the last of the fire trap was burning down.

He heaved himself up, wincing at the stab of pain from his ribs, and began to hobble aimlessly again. He was still waiting for something—for closure, he supposed. Perhaps the only purpose he had any more was to be a witness.

The hollow sound of footsteps rasped lightly in an adjoining lane, and Faulks saw a party of four spent men, bloodied but mostly uninjured, marching doggedly towards him. He stopped when he recognized one of them—the most garishly attired—as the Amazing Richard. The sight frankly surprised him, for he would have expected the man to have moved on before things got this bad. Perhaps he’d misjudged his character.

When the men drew abreast of him, Faulks spoke to them. “Have you come from the front? Is there any news?”
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:45 am

Splevey(MC) Billy(MC) and Phoebe(MC) made their way through the crowd to "The Marked Cards Tavern", where they found a booth at the back of the dimmly lit tavern / gambling hall.

"There's be a good fat bone ta be made in this situation and I means ta take me far share. Billy ya gathers up a pair of chivvy snakesmen, them kids can shinny down a chimney smooth as shite through a goose they can. I figures ta go callin on a few of them deserted townhouses I does." Splevey then banged the hilt of his ridding crop on the table and yelled “Brings us a beer wench and be quick ‘bout it!” He then looked at Billy coldly “An if ya sees them little bastards Elija and Sam ya brings em ta me straight away. I owes em I does and pays em I will.“ he said as he rubbed the hilt of his riding crop.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:24 am



Cannons fired in the distance.
Steel met steel somewhere around the corner.
The smell of gunpowder was thick in the air.
Fort Glory had been turned into a field of war.
War between people and dragonkin.
A conflict without discernible reason, but just as deadly as any other, if not more so.

Andreas, Eldorf, Frederic and Richard practically ran through the narrow streets connecting Fort Glory’s main roads. They risked ambush but at least managed to avoid the open skirmishes as they took place on the main roads where ta’kun and human clashed openly.

“Men. A moment please.” Eldorf said as he wheezed. He allowed himself to drop into a pile of rubbish as he tried to catch his breath, groaning. “I think that ta’kun broke a rib or two.” He grit his teeth but managed to utter a curse or two as he tried to determine his injuries more clearly. He had not survived their previous encounter with the lizards without as many scratches as he had thought.

“I thought you said you were fine.” Frederic was surprised to hear otherwise but also worried about their rather unfortunate place for taking a rest. There had better not be any ta’kun around to take advantage…

“Well, I guess I’m not, argh.” He dropped what he was carrying and undid his jacket and shirt to reveal his red and blue chest. “Stupid snakes with feet… Who’s got the bandage?”

“I’ve got it.” Andreas remarked, lowering his weapon to get the bandage from a pocket and threw it towards McVogh.

“How is your wound doing?” Richard asked, seeing the bandage around Andy’s leg revealed a blood soaked cloth.

“Alright… I guess… Might need stitches if it doesn’t stop bleeding.” Andreas said, suddenly more aware of his wound he rubbed it and couldn’t help but wince.

“Good thing that arrow merely grazed you. You might not be walking the way you are if it had hit you square in the leg… With all those nasty hooks on the arrow head and all.” Richard said as he looked over his shoulder to see Frederic help patch up Eldorf’s injuries.

“At least we’re alive…” Andreas pointed out and picked up his rifle again to watch one end of the alley. Richard took it as the end of the conversation and went to look at the other end for any suspicious activity.

After having patched up Eldorf the four of them returned to the task at hand, luckily the walls of the keep were already visible from where they were standing, and they should soon find themselves in front of one of its gates.
However, behind them the sounds of battle intensified and the four men started to move faster through the narrow streets, cluttered with debris and the dead. Still, the sounds of battle approached faster than they could manage to move towards Fort Glory’s last bastion.

As they went they came across barely anyone, and if there was someone in their path it was usually someone in a disembodied state, sitting against a wall or walking around aimlessly. Some badly injured with a bottle clutched into their hands others lucky enough to be still alive and managed to escape from the ongoing battle.

But then they ran into inspector Guyer Faulks.
At first they expected him to be much like the previous men they had encountered, some of those also seemed to take notice of the four of them moving through the streets, but none of them ever actually addressed them, unlike Faulks.

“Have you come from the front? Is there any news?” He asked the four of them.

They were surprised to be talked to and stood frozen for a moment before Eldorf decided to speak up, “We haven’t seen the front… I think. But it still wasn’t pretty.”
“We’ve tried to avoid confrontation.” Frederic explained.
“With the emphasis on ‘tried’.” Eldorf added.
“Right.” Frederic said and then continued, “We’re looking for our friend; Simon, and Andreas’ sister; Gertrude.”
“But then we ran into about a dozen ta’kun not far from here.” Eldorf interjected, “Now we’re just trying to get to the keep.”
“Might I suggest you do the same, mister….?” Frederic asked.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:33 pm



Shawn Richardson, the soldier they called 'Book' non-chilantly slipped out of the pathway between his Captain and Elija's mother, who stood across from one another locked in a battle of wills, each staring the other down. Basha, wasn't about to have a woman, who could barely walk slowing them down and endanger their mission but she was dead set on accompanying her son and looking out for the rest of the urchins. He slowly exhaled as he ground his teeth together awaiting Mrs. Smith to bend, but she didn't back him down an inch, something that rarely happened to Basha, least of all by a woman.

Basha took of his hat and out of frustration thrust it downward and slapped his leg while he muttered a curse in his native tongue. Then his stern expression pried into the slightest of smiles.

"You've got spirit, I'll give you that." He told her. "But none of these men, are going to risk their lives to save you! You fall behind, you're on your own!"

The men all looked to each other, their silent expressions all agreeing that there was no way they would let any harm befall the woman, no matter what the Captain ordered. It just wasn't right to not to protect a woman, and as Basha scanned the faces of his men, he knew then that they weren't ready to deal with the Ta'kun on their own ground. He wished then that his gods would grant him the wisdom to guide these men, children and woman.

Basha then proceeded to layout his plan in more detail, announcing that they would be breaking up into three groups in order to position their snipers within shooting distance of their leaders. "The last I heard the Ta'kun were gathered at the southern gate, for what reason I'm not sure, but while the majority of their forces are there, it's as good a place as any to expect find a leader or two." He instructed, "Now, Sandy, Clubber, Elija, Sam and you, Mrs. Smith are with me." He assigned Sergeant Lasekura and Ram as the leaders of the other groups and advised them to divide the remaining men equally between them, as for the 'Shoddy End Scouts', as he come to refer to them, Basha advised them to choose which every group they wanted.

The plan was simple, the scouts would guide them through the sewers and take them as close the walls as possible. Basha would take the far southern wall, and the other the east and west. They would then have the options to scale the walls or make their way to a rooftop or some other high location that would allow good line of sight. It was then up to the Shoddy End Scouts with the assistance of a few of his men, to return into the sewers and use the dynamite to raise the fiery bowels of the underworld to draw out the leaders, and hopefully kill as many of the Ta'kun as possible.

With a grim expression, he then told them that they would be alone on this venture. "Captain MacBhaird, and Bane, agreed not to stand in my way, but they also said they would not support me. We are alone."

Silence fell across the room at the news, but then Clubber rallied the men. "And that's jus' the way we prefers it! We dun need those stiff necks, gettin' in our way! Ta, the shit-house with 'em all!"

The men all cheered and those who were sitting leapt to their feet in support, holding their fists high and proud. Encouraged by the support, Clubber continued with his inspiring rant, "We's the refuse o'the army!", then he looked down at the urchins, "And the scum o'the streets, but we'll show 'em all we have twice the sand than any o'them 'ave!", he punctuated his statement with shake of his fist toward the ceiling.

Only one in the room remained expressionless, showing neither apprehension or revelry, and was he whose motivation they yearned to hear, but the Captain remained as silent as a tombstone, a foreboding reminder of what awaited them. Their solidarity would give them heart, and they would need it, but he could offer them no encouragement, each would succumb to their fate. Perhaps some would survive but near all would die a gruesome death at the hands of monsters that hated them with the utter most passion.

When the cheering and goading began to subside, Basha finally spoke. "Gather your things! It's time!"

The soldiers were anxious now draw Ta'kun blood, and they would get their chance, Basha assured them of that. They had enough supplies to sustain them for the wait that accompanied sniping, and the scouts seemed to have more than enough dynamite. Book who had been working with a few, assured the Captain that the kids could handle it, and had even shown them that they could cut the sticks with a knife should they want to make a smaller explosion. Some of the soldier helped themselves to Mrs. Smith's weapons, and even Basha replaced one his own blades with a razor sharp short sword, the bright blue flash of his eyes falling upon Colleen's reflection in the highly polished metal for a brief moment.



They set out, skulking through the darkness with low lit lanterns to guide them, and they weren't that far away from the 'diggs', before the scouts advised them, "This is where we's splits up."

"Good luck, and remember nobody shoots until the fireworks start, but if you get one of the leaders in your sites, then take their head off." Basha told them before they parted ways, Basha's group pressing forward and the others turning toward their respective destinations.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:03 pm



Colleen was like a duck gliding along a smooth lake. Above the surface of the mirror like water, she was as calm and poised as one could imagine. Especially with someone giving her an icy glare and waiting for her to back down. But, beneath the surface of that clam water, she was paddling as fast as her little legs would paddle. In her case, though, it was her heart beating like crazy. As Basha continued to hold her gaze with his, she refused to let him see just how nervous she really was. Nothing would stop her from doing this. Especially with Elija’s life in the balance.

When Basha finally broke and gave her the slightest hint of a smile, she let out the breath she’d been holding. Thankfully, the Captain didn’t realize just how nervous and self conscious he was making her. As he told her, in no uncertain terms, that she would be left behind to fend for herself if she was too injured to keep up, she shook her head.

“Don’t worry about me, Captain, I’ll be just fine.”

Her leg was smarting, still, but once again, Colleen was very determined not to let it interfere with her ability to keep up with the soldiers and the children. She would just wrap it extra tight to make sure it was protected even more.

Once Basha explained the details of the plan, Colleen knew this was most likely the last stand they would ever make. There was no room for failure here. It was either destroy the ta’kun or be killed in trying to do so. Not a very bright prospect either way you looked at it. But Colleen knew it was better to try and fight for your life than simply forfeit it without so much as an argument. Even if those in charge weren’t supportive of your efforts.

As Basha’s men rallied around their Captain, Colleen couldn’t help but wonder what would become of them when they survived this onslaught and it was discovered they had used unconventional methods to defeat the enemy? Would they be considered criminals and tried for what they did? Or would they merely be chastised for doing something so unorthodox yet life saving? Truth be told, she didn’t give a rats tail right now. There was only the time they lived in right now. What ever the future held, they would find out soon enough. Either way, she would be proud to be associated with these brave men and children. At least they made an effort to save what was theirs.

It was during this small down time Colleen found a place to sit and rewrap her leg. Pulling the leg of her trousers up to expose the bandage, she untied it, made sure it was a bit more secure then pulled a bigger, wider bandage from her supplies. Wrapping it around the smaller bandage, she made sure it was secure and a bit thicker to protect the stitched wound for the strenuous time ahead. As she tended the wound, she didn’t realize she was being watched from the reflection of one of her blades. By the time she had her leg wrapped and ready to go, the moment had passed and she was none the wiser.

Picking up her blade, she followed along behind Basha and the children he was taking with him. When they reached the place they were all separating, Colleen’s gaze passed briefly over the men and children.

“Be careful and watch your backs. Gods speed to all of you.”

As the three groups went their separate ways, Colleen whispered a small prayer to the deities asking them to protect all of these brave souls but especially the children. She also prayed for the safety of a dark eyed, dark haired handsome rogue of a man hoping he was unharmed and holding his own.

____________________________________________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 01, 2009 1:32 am



Inspector Faulks listened with a small frown to the ragged men’s brief explanations, and though he was inwardly disappointed that they didn’t have any solid information, their general state seemed like a sign that the end was near. He gave them a perfunctory nod, “All right,” and fell in with them, hastening towards the inner fort.

Despite his broken ribs, he was able to keep pace with the men, who were also injured in various ways. After a few hurried steps, he told them, “If things don’t look good at the fort, there is always the secret escape tunnel to the northwest. It leads into the graveyard—that is, if the explosives haven’t been detonated.”

He wasn’t planning on leaving—yet—himself, but for now the best thing it seemed he could do was pass the information on to civilians who seemed as determined to live as he was himself.

“If only we knew what they’re after, we might have something we can use,” he added, thinking out loud and not expecting a response from the panting civilians. The champagne and gin were still lingering in him and he felt relaxed, in spite of the climbing din of weaponry and death cries, the smell of blood. Or perhaps his calm feeling resulted from the slow rising of the tide of fate that creeps over every man, barely-noticed, until it is already dragging him to his end.

But every man thinks he is going to live to tell his tale, and Faulks didn’t believe he was going to die, however much he swished the possibility around inside himself, as if testing the notion on his nerves. He just didn’t believe it. The moon, for one thing, was coming up a ripe orange, low in the smoky horizon, breathtaking in that way that only very real things can be—things that stop time during the moment you first see them. Surely he would see another moon. The funny thing was that he couldn’t remember the last time he saw one. He’d stopped noticing years ago.

“The name’s Faulks, by the way,” he told his ad hoc traveling companions. “Guyer Faulks, inspector for the police detachment. But I have the feeling I’m out of a job.”
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 01, 2009 5:52 am

Elija, Frankie and the rest of the Shoddy End Gang made their way under the trainyard and through the industrial warehouse district,on the northern end of Fort Glory. Laiden with fire bombs and dynamite, they talked of which groupu they would go with. They finally stopped at a junction of three sewer tunnels. One went south under the Castle, One east and the other west. Sam shoved Elija forward and said "L here hees gots sumptin' ta say he does."

Elija said "Me an me mates we decides ta kill dem Ta'kun an' Dragons 'cause whats thays done ta 'r families an home, it ain't right what thays does. Proud we iz ta be whit' the Dragoons we iz."

THey then split up, Basha, Elija,



Sam



Cricket

,

Daisy



Shinner




and Mrs. Smith,

Sandy Graves - 23, Blonde, Blue eyed, 5'9", 150 lbs.
Carries two rifles and a bow. He is a dead eye with both weapons. Has exceptional vision and rarely misses a target. One of his rifle is more designed for sniping. SNIPER

'Clubber' Morris Triptin - 33, Brown, Grey eyes, 6'6", 250 lbs.
A brawler, tough as a coffin nail. Prefers melee, uses a halberd. Wears armour. Went south.

Sergeant Lasekura,

Frankie



Ferrett & Weasel

Jack Rabbit' Pyter Korilokov - 20, Blonde, blue eyed. 5'11", 185 lbs.
Very fit. He is a sprinter and very dexterous. Very good shot. SNIPER,

Michael Mason - 21, Brown eyes and hair. 5'10", 175lbs - SNIPER,

Chance Obormyer - 27, Brown, blue eyed. 6'0", 190lbs. Good swordsman, fights two handed. Well trained in fencing. Scott Anders - 21, Black hair, blue eyes. 6'2", 190 lbs. Swordsman and excellent horseman. Wears armour, went east.

Ram,

Galley

,

Jack


and Lil.

Randal Krinsk - 26, Brown hair and eyes. 5'8", 250 lbs
A very thick man, nearly impossible to knock out and incredibly strong. Wears Armour,

'Book' Shawn Richardson - 25, Black hair, Green eyes. 5'10", 170 lbs.
Solid soldier. Very intelligent, knows explosives very well. Always reading,

'Soup' Clarence Urquhart - 31, Auburn hair and brown eyes. 5'9", 160 lbs Loves Soup and always makes sure he has can on him for luck. Very superstitious.

He is the medic and is also a good shot with a long rifle. SNIPER,

'Brass' Neil Bryson - 25, Brown hair and eyes, 5'6", 145lbs. SNIPER. Good shot, tough, small man with a big fist, went west. Each of the three groups then journeyed on through the sewers.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 01, 2009 10:37 am



“Guyer Faulks…” Frederic mumbled, somehow it sounded very familiar.
“Police department, you say?” McVogh asked out loud, throwing off Frederic’s train of thought. “Well, we’d take any help we can get, but a man of the law is more than we could have hoped for.”

The ice seemed to be broken between the men and as they continued through Fort Glory they all introduced themselves briefly to the inspector. It wasn’t long after they were good and done with the pleasantries when things began to go downhill for the five men.

“What was that!?” A rattled Frederic looks around after hearing a loud crash of some sort and froze into place.

“Better keep moving, Fred.” Eldorf said while continuing to wheeze but refusing to slow down.

Another crashing sound however brought the five of them to halt once more. “Up there!” Andreas pointed out a shadow along the roofs and another roof tile came crashing down as the shadow disappeared, Andreas’ shot coming too late to stop the creature.

“Did you see that?” He asked the others as he opened the chamber of the Shut-Eye and loaded a cartridge, slamming the chamber shut and raising his weapon back towards the roof.

“You can hear them… Up there…” Frederic almost whispered as his eyes scanned the edge of the roofs.

“We’d better not linger, my friends.” Eldorf said and picked up the pace considerably.

They could not have continued their journey soon enough for many a ta’kun stepped into sight with bow and arrow at the ready. A deadly rain came down on top of the five, of which many missed but still managed to come far too close for comfort. From that moment onwards they were running with all they had. Frederic tried to keep both Eldorf and Andy from lagging behind, eying Guyer just in case he too needed assistance, while Richard switched between throwing bolts of electricity and fire in an attempt to hold off the ta’kun following them from above.

The ta’kun on the rooftops were quickly joined by their counterparts on the ground, and even though the five men running for their lives could not have seen, the distinct form of a mermadon stuck out of the ta’kun that started their pursuit. Lord Yassun, however, could care less for the men and only allowed some of his ta’kun to pursue in case the five had gotten a proper look at the force he was bringing up towards the keep.

Even though it was a frantic few minutes the men reached the walls of the keep unscathed. As the men on the wall saw the five of them and their assailants they opened fire with their cannons and guns, suppressing those on top of the roofs as well as on the ground.

“Not a moment too soon.” Richard said, delighted to find himself amongst friendly forces. He threw a last batch of magical projectiles into the alley behind them before following the others along the walls towards the southern gate.

“Hey!” Sounded from above the five as they try to get out of the streets before the ta’kun got a chance to kill them after all. “What are you guys doing here!?”

The four of them quickly realized the familiar voice of Simon, leaving the inspector wondering who the man they were talking to was. Simon ran parallel to them as they made their way towards the gate from on top of the wall, shoving people out of his way as he went along.

“We thought you were dead!” Eldorf yelled.
“We thought you had escaped from the city!” Frederic quickly said, trying to correct McVogh.
“No, turns out I couldn’t just pick up and leave this old town after it came under attack. I did figure you four to be out of here and bringing back that princess on my behalf.” Simon yelled back.
“You could have just said; glad to see you guys are still alive!” Richard mocked.
“I never doubted it, well, except for you maybe.” Simon said, “Let me go make sure they open the gates for you guys!” Simon then disappeared from view.

“Did I just see that correctly?” Frederic wondered out loud.
“Was he wearing a uniform?” Richard added to that.
“Apparently so…” Andreas and Eldorf said simultaneously.
“How do you suppose that happened?” Frederic wondered some more.
“I’m not sure we want to know, but I’m sure he’ll tell us all about it once we’re inside….” McVogh remarked.

As the gates slowly opened before the five men, Andreas could not help but wonder how his sister was faring, would she be somewhere inside the keep, just like Simon? Was she safe and sound outside of the walls, or had he failed her? Had he failed Sophie… Beau and Emily? Were they alright? Andreas knew nothing anymore and the sheer uncertainty that swept over him made his head spin.

“Oh! Now I know, you’re the brilliant inspector they call in when there’s a crime none other can wrap their heads around, right?” Frederic had turned to Faulks with a sudden sense of recognition. Yes, this must be the man from the papers, a man who keeps the street clean of the dirtiest of scum. What a pleasure it was to have him in their midst.

--

“Lord!” Rashi approached her mermadon master, “My brothers and sisters are bleeding… Too much more and we will run out.”
“I figured the Red Fists to have greater resolve then this. Are you not capable of accepting the toll of war for the greater glory of your clan? Would you rather die out like a candle in the night, or be reborn from the ashes of those who died a glorious death?” The mermadon asked.
“We will do anything to restore out glory, but-.” Rashi still wanted to object to their current course of action and the additional losses that would be incurred.
“Then have faith, my tough-skinned sister. In fact we are doing much better than I would have anticipated. A little longer, and the glory will be all yours.”
“What must be done next, my lord?” Rashi was hesitant to ask.
“While the chaos of battle still fills the street and keeps the remnants of the human soldiers in disarray our brunt will assault their fortress and break their back, once and for all.”
“With our diminishing numbers we might not even breach the wall.” Rashi complained.
“Their numbers have been more severely depleted than your own, Rashi. But don’t worry, we still have the long spears, and it is about time they did their part…”
“Shall I signal them?” Rashi said with enthusiasm for the idea of making use of their hidden reserves. The mermadon merely nodded and left the Red Fists’ leader to her duty.

Little did they know the Longspears had all committed to the sewers after the explosion that had ripped one of the tunnels, as well as the street above, to pieces. The bright blue signal arrow, lighting the darkening sky would not be seen by any of the Longspears and Rashi would not get her reinforcements after all.

____________________________________________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 01, 2009 12:09 pm



Something shook the building Kylea was in with the strange man. Her iridescent eyes snapped to the man thinking he was the one that had caused it to shake so. Another shaking followed soon after and she realized he was just as surprised as she was. Knowing then it wasn’t the man causing the shaking she quickly deducted something else was happening.

A noise from overhead drew the Mermadon’s attention then. Scuttering along the rooftops. What ever it was, it was nothing all that small and it made no secret of its movement overhead. The next thing Kylea heard was the distinct grunting, hissing and clicking she was all too familiar with.

“Ta’kun…”

The word slipped from her mouth just as the man tilted his head and looked at her strangely.

“Ta’kun? Attacking Fort Glory? Surely you’re imagining things?”

But Kylea wasn’t for just then, one of the long necked, scaly beasts crashed through the window sending shards of the glass flying on all directions. The beast stretched out it’s long neck and hissed at the man revealing its jagged teeth and forked tongue.

The man, knowing he was out numbered, even for his abilities, quickly opened up another portal into that dark dimension he had thrown Kylea into and disappeared just as the Ta’kun swung his heavy club, striking noting but air. Kylea jumped and squealed in fright, causing her hood to fall from her head. The Ta’kun raised its club once more to strike her down but it stopped and blinked at her with only one set of its eyelids.

Tilting his head first left then right, the Ta’kun seemed to be in a quandary of what to do now. He wasn’t expecting to find another Mermadon in with the humans. Even as Kylea gulped and stared at the thing. The longer they stood there, staring at each other, Kylea knew she HAD to do something. Mustering as much bravado as she could, she squared her shoulders and let her gaze settle on the Takun’s.

“You will take me to the one in charge. Now. It’s important you do this thing. Your well being depends on it.”

The large lizard blinked its inner eyelid once more before slowly turning and leading her from the building. As they moved away from the house, Kylea pulled the hood of her cloak back up over her head and followed along behind the hulking figure, letting him clear a path for her. Not that there was much of a path to be cleared, mind you. Still, she didn’t want to get hurt so she would let him take the brunt of what ever was going to happen.

As they emerged onto the streets, Kylea was beginning to get a better picture of what was really happening. It seemed as though the Ta’kun were in a full out assault on the humans. But…why? Needless to say, she was thoroughly confused. While the Ta’kun had attacked small bands of humans from time to time and made the humans lives miserable, she’d never known them to attack like this. Not without some form of motivation.

Finally, when the Ta’kun had led her through to where the wall had been breeched, she suddenly found herself staring into the face of Yassun. And the look on his face was just as shocked as the one on her own face. In unison, they both asked each other the same question.

“What are you doing here?”

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 01, 2009 6:43 pm



As Payden turned his attention back to eating, Gertrude relaxed, no longer overflowing with the awakened electrical energy. She sipped her wine, a preoccupied look coming over her face like curtains falling closed in a window as she considered the difference between how Payden described his magic and how she experienced her own. Magic as a whole, it seemed, was even more complicated than she’d supposed.

In response to Payden’s comment about the dark presence he wished to avoid in himself, Curt said blithely, “Well, all the more reason you must learn as much as you can—both of you—with whatever opportunities we find awaiting us.” The count appeared inordinately pleased, though very little had actually transpired over dinner.

A second day of travel left Gertrude exhausted and even though her entire cabin was rocking, rising and falling in a way that made sleep elusive, she eventually slipped into a fitful dream where she ran through the rain, no longer caring if her dress remained dry because something was following her, and when it caught her, that would be the end of her, the final curtain, and no one would even remember her anymore. She had to find Andy before the thing caught her and snuffed her out of existence.

At some point in the night she was awakened by a noise. She was thankful to escape from the nightmare—she rarely had nightmares—but she wasn’t entirely comfortable. She was afraid of becoming afraid in the small dark room, because she knew that if she let her fears arouse, she would never get back to sleep. What noise had disturbed her? A queer splash outside the thin wall of her cabin, like a hungry shark leaping in the night? She resisted the urge to light her lantern, telling herself she was being foolish.

She lay awake for many long minutes, staring at the shadows on the ceiling, which in her imagination took the shapes of ghosts and demons at the edge of human consciousness. Whatever the noise had been, she didn’t hear it again, and that might have relieved her, except that she had the curious sense that she was completely alone and at the mercy of the sea. Curt is up deck keeping an eye on things, she reminded herself. But she didn’t believe it, even though she knew it was true. She pulled the covers up to her nose and eventually, sleep came over her with its obliterating mercy.

When morning came, it was lightly overcast, as if sunshine poured down on the world through a dirty glass, but in this frank light, everything was very ordinary again. The eerie spell of the night had faded, and Gertrude felt the adventurous winds and waves fill her spirit once more. It was colder too, however, and she didn’t spend as much time on deck as she had the previous day. She was, moreover, alarmed to see in her hand mirror that the sun had done its work on her yesterday, despite the best efforts of her bonnet, and the freckles across the bridge of her nose were beginning to assert themselves. She powdered them over and hoped Curt of Ursha wouldn’t notice.

While it didn’t rain on them all day, the winds shifted more than they had the previous day, but it was nothing Curt expressed any concern over. He allowed Payden to adjust the sails as he saw fit, apparently having no need to intervene with what the count referred to as the, “sea in my blood.” In fact, no doubt tired from his night’s vigil, the count kept himself withdrawn to the cabin for most of the day—a little to Gertrude’s self-conscious disappointment.

Just as Curt of Ursha had promised, the current carried the Sylph swift and true over the waters, even when the winds weren’t being cooperative. Sometimes it seemed like the current alone was strong enough to bear the ship even if the sail was set wrong. In any case, on the following morning, they came in sight of land, just as Curt had said they would.

After a rain-spattered night, a fog rolled in, making the morning gray and formless. The silhouette of cliff floated through the low clouds, fading in and out of being as if the mists had dreamed it forth and might as easily absorb it again. Curt’s formal announcement of, “Land ho!” summoned Gertrude from her cabin where she had only just dressed, now wrapping in her cloak against the chill breath of the sea. Payden was on deck already.

“Is that Ursha?” she breathed.

As they drew nearer, the stately straight lines of a castle manifested atop the cliff, looking ruffled yet noble, as an old hawk hunched gripping the tallest branch. Though little could be seen about the distant structure, the toothy hint of crenulated towers suggested the architecture was very old. No pennants or other flashes of color could be spotted, making the ancient castle lonely indeed.



“Yes,” Curt said with cheerfulness that seemed to contrast with the gothic vista, “welcome to my humble chapeau—or is that chateau?—in any case, welcome!”

“Is that your castle, Curt?” Gertrude could hardly believe her eyes. Every detail, from the fog to the gloomy castle could have been drawn from the pages of a novel.

“It is nobody’s castle,” Curt replied. “But yes, it is mine.”

“How wonderful!”

Though the wind had fallen mostly still and could do little to disperse the lurking banks of gloom, as the sun edged deeper into morning, the force of its springtime rays began to dissolve the worst of the fog. As the hanging shrouds of vapor parted before the Sylph, it became clear that they were sailing sedately towards the black yawn of a sea cave.

Curt turned towards Gertrude with a smile, perhaps about to say something more to her, but his gaze was caught be something behind her and his expression turned from pleasure to shock. He gripped the spar, as if to brace himself against the force of his own dismay. “What!?” he gasped. “How dare they come here!”

When Payden and Gertrude whirled to see what he was talking about, their questing stares were met by a pair of long boats gliding like eels in their wake. They were still many yards off, but it became clear as their shadows emerged from the mist, that the boats were filled with unsavory looking men, bearded and armed to the teeth with cutlass and pistol.

A greater shadow appeared above the longboats, hulking and dimly creaking like a mansion in a gale. Several masts gave out several full-bellied sails, and above them snapped the emerging red flag of a skull pierced laterally by a sword.

“Pirates!” Gertrude exclaimed and looked to Curt and Payden. Surely they would know what to do.

It became apparent that the two long boats nearest to them were only the vanguard of a small fleet that lay between the Sylph and the open sea. They were in a deep cove headed towards the sea cave that presumably granted access to land. Though the buccaneers were still a ways off, it was plain they were too close for comfort when a voice reached them just audibly, “Looks like we gots a minnow tresspassin’ in our pond, boys!”

Curt pounded his fist against the spar, mouth twisted with anger. “This isn’t what I had in mind at all!”
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat May 02, 2009 1:03 am



The situation seemed dire, Payden could see that the boat to the port held six unsavory corsairs and the other that approached much quicker held eight. Were it a contest of the sword, then perhaps he and Curt may have been able to hold off the first few, but their irons would make short work of them. They had to outrun them!

They were at full sail and the long ships were gaining a length with every stroke, they would surely overtake them before they made land. But even if they were to beat them to the sea cave, then what? Would they be able to vacate the boat quick enough? Payden thought not.

Payden buckled up his belt and fixed his blades. He donned his trademark, black long coat and checked the hidden pistol he kept within a holster strung across a shoulder, a weapon he rarely used except when left with no other choice. Still, the one shot would hardly make a difference in this situation, and if it came down to fight he would trust sword over fire.

Then it dawned on him. "Fire." He said aloud, distracting Curt.

"Gertrude." Payden called, forgoing formalities. "Can you conjure fire?", then looking to the sail he changed his mind, "How about wind? Have you ever tried to call it?"

Payden judged the distance to the cave, then compared it to the length between them and the large tri-masted ship, and figured that even if they benefited from a gust of wind, they would not close the distance in time. With a certainty that he could not explain, he knew she was capable, but were she able to now, when it was most needed was the question. He could, however, not wait to learn whether she could answer and quickly ran down into the hold and gathered a sheet, some lantern fuel and pack of matches. Then back on deck, Payden untied the two harpoons he had purchased in Mierathal and began to tear the sheet into strips. He tightly bound them as fast as possible around the ends of the long spears and dowsed them fuel until they were sopping with it.

Praying these scavengers were poor shots, Payden stood at the stern, the dripping spear tips hanging over the water, and awaited the boats to come within range of his throw. The harpoons were well balanced and the rogue knew that he could hurl one accurately, but calculating the distance of that accuracy was another matter; he would have to wait until they were well within the range of their pistols.

Payden reached into his coat and drew his own pistol and offered it to Curt. "Can you fire one of these?"
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun May 03, 2009 10:06 am

The ta’kun and Lord Yassun traveled from the southern gates onto Startford. Under the cover of its tall buildings and the falling darkness they made their way towards the keep.

Yassun knew his magical talents would be called upon if they were to succeed in overrunning the castle and putting an end to this human infestation. At least at Fort Glory. He was preoccupied with what was to come and did his best to energize his body and spirit for another test of his skills. He could feel every muscle in his body ache after what he had already been through and his focus had been off ever since he threw the boulders into Fort Glory’s walls. But it had been hours since then, and he knew his body and spirit could handle more strain than this and thus he continued his preparation.

If anything, he certainly didn’t need to be distracted while they marched. A warzone is everything but a good place to focus, but it’s not as bad as being confronted with a familiar face from a past you’d rather forget.

Kylea the Quiet. That’s what they call her these days. She wasn’t all that quiet when the two of them had met previously, but some events leave their scars and will forever change a person. Yassun knew that much. Their paths quickly diverged afterwards and Yassun had managed to make quite a name for himself in the mean time. While the ta’kun might refer to him as Lord, but his peers call him Yassun the Zealous.

Now here they were. Neither of them wanted to be reminded of a painful past or be near one another longer than they had to, but it was odd to find Kylea in Fort Glory. Surely she could put together Yassun’s reason for being there and if she had been paying attention to the mermadon’s social chatter she could should know Yassun was known to work for the dragon Kaizur. Yassun, however didn’t have much of an idea for why Kylea might be there. Beyond figuring out what she was doing here it was doubtful he’d have much use for the woman and he’d gladly be rid of her.

“I think it is obvious what I am doing here. Very much opposed to your own sudden appearance.” Yassun said after recovering from his surprise and both asking the very same question to one another. “I suggest you speak fast, Quiet one, I have humans to slaughter and a town to conquer.”

As he said so Yassun wondered if he’d get a straight answer from the woman. He doubted it, but even if he did he couldn’t be too certain she’d tell him, of all people, the truth. She’d no doubt derive pleasure from being a pain in Yassun’s neck.

____________________________________________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun May 03, 2009 2:46 pm



Kylea narrowed her gaze at her fellow mermadon. The last thing she expected to find in this filthy pt hole of existence was….Yassun. Her hateful glare moved around the chaos happening around her and she turned her iridescent eyes back to the one she detested most.

“I see you put yourself in a position where you could bully others. Just as you always do. Heed my warning, Yassun, one day you’ll find yourself on the opposite end of that stick. And when that happens, I hope you get poked with it. Hard.”

Once more her eyes scanned the area and she realized he had somehow orchestrated an attack on the human fortress. He couldn’t have done it all alone. He HAD to have help. But who was he working with? Or for? He may have been crafty, but he wasn’t THAT smart. Her gaze narrowed once more.

“The Ta’kun will not like losing so many of their numbers for your own personal gain, Yassun. They’ll see through your pathetic ruse sooner or later and when they do, I think that stick you shall be poked hard with will have quite the pointy end to it. I can only hope I will be here to see that. And trust me, I will take great pleasure in seeing that happen to you. You ungrateful eel.”

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun May 03, 2009 4:09 pm



Faulks’s survey of the inner fort and battlements ended as Frederic turned to him and remarked, “Oh! Now I know; you’re the brilliant inspector they call in when there’s a crime none other can wrap their heads around, right?”

Faulks paused before he replied, “Something like that.” He glanced around again at the refugees who’d taken to the central courtyard, a permanent path or two roped off through their huddled midst to allow soldiers and supplies to traffic through the inner bailey, many dusty, some bloody, soldiers calling to one another from above like crows on a wire. Then he said to Frederic, “I don’t think there’s much in that line of work for the time being, though.”

The fort gates were closed again and, by the looks of the soldiers’ positions, unlikely to open again. Whoever was still trapped outside would have to fend for themselves—those who were still alive. So much had happened in a single day. What would the night bring?

Not far away, a huddle of miserable women gossiped:

“I heard someone say it was Mrs. Bradley herself. And let me tell you, she was every bit the Great Beauty that everyone says.”

“Must be grand to be a Beauty, an’ married to a wealthy man, an’ have carriages arranged ta take you out of town after the last train has left.”

“Aye.”

“Where did she go, then?”

“How should I know? The carriage went by the west gate, so probably south to Mierethal, or maybe further. Anywhere that’s far from this Godforsaken tomb, you can bet.”

“Now, now. We have to keep our spirits up, or we’re already lost.”

* * *


Though Payden had already dashed into the cabin, Gertrude answered his question, “I’ve never called wind before. But I have made things catch fire. Only things I was touching at the time, though...”

Curt turned to her urgently and said, “Well that’s something, isn’t it? I bet you could make the sails on that great ship catch fire if you only concentrate hard enough!”

Gertrude pursed her lips together and stared at the ship; its mountainous hull looked capable of grinding their tiny vessel to dust. “I could try…” she said.

“Do try!” Curt said. “There’s no time to fuss!”

Gertrude was a little surprised by how flummoxed the count seemed—not that she wasn’t herself—but she’d expected him to have a better solution to their corsair problem than hazarding their fate on her less-than-tamed magic. Dismissing the distracting thought, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Guardians of the watchtower of the South, attend us now!

Payden resurfaced at that moment, though Gertrude was now wrapped in concentration. Curt was torn between keeping his attention on her and on Payden. When the young rogue offered his pistol, Curt plucked it up by the handle twixt thumb and index finger as if it was a dead fish.



“I believe the concept is to point and pull the trigger?” Curt said.

“And then you have to reload it,” Payden answered.

Curt grimaced, but there was no time for further comment, for the first longboat came close enough to loose a haphazard volley of shot at the Sylph’s defenders, most of which fell out of range. Though a hole appeared in the sail, splinters leapt from the portside rail, and Gertrude’s bonnet went askew.

“Oh!” She cried, losing concentration entirely. She had never been shot at in her life. Even Curt did a dance of dismay, throwing himself down next to the flattened Payden in hopes of avoiding a deadly wound. Gertrude likewise cast herself against the cabin entry, which was sunken, and snatched off her bonnet, felt her scalp, certain her fingers would encounter a gory spill of blood. She was uninjured however, but there was a hole that ran straight through the brim of her bonnet.

“Wait! Hold yer fire, lads!” A growling voice called from the nearest longboat. “There be a lady on that ship. We’ll have her fer tea, so hold yer fire, lads.” The command drew raucous laughter as well as several hoots and jeers from the boats’ occupants, who slipped nearer and nearer to the Sylph, surrounding her to both sides. “Surrender now ta Cappin’ Johnny Red Cullain of the pirate's ship, Queen Lucia's Revenge, or suffer the unpleasant consequences!”

“You can tell your Captain Cullain that he’s crossed the wrong customer!” Curt declared. “Cast your magic forth, Gertrude!” The count, who had scrambled over beside Gertrude, shook her arm. “Hurry!” At the same time, Payden readied his flaming harpoon, for the scurvy buccaneers were now within range.

Gertrude peered around the cabin door in order to keep the mother vessel with its snapping red flag in view. She stared hard at the sweeping sails, but at last the effort caused her to close her eyes, brows knit. Warmth radiated from her skin.

Curt frowned and torqued his free hand—his left being occupied with Payden’s pistol—and a sparkling, rosy red ball of flame blossomed in his hand. He stepped past Gertrude, out of line of their sail, and hurled the unfurling fire ball at the sails of the Queen Lucia's Revenge. It was a long shot, though, and the fireball not a terribly impressive one, and as it flew, it diminished into a small, flickering trail that lapped into the base of the jib, emitting only the smallest tongue of smoke. Still, it was enough to cause small flames to begin eating along the great ship’s headsails.

Sensing a surge in magical energy, Gertude opened her eyes. “It worked!” she exclaimed.

“Well done,” Curt applauded, and darted a glance at Payden to see if the young man had noticed his stunt. Despite having been preoccupied with firing the flaming harpoon into the nearest boat of attackers, Curt thought Payden might indeed have been giving him a strange look.

As for the boat full of corsairs, Payden hit it square on, causing not only structural damage to the longboat, but pinning one unfortunate scoundrel who caught on fire. Above his shrieks of agony, and the spreading flames, a great bearded fellow shouted, “You’ll pay for this! We’ll have your entrails strung up for garlands! No mercy, boys! Give no quarter!”

While several men abandoned the first longboat, and others shouted about witchcraft, the occupants of the second longboat fired their weapons through the chaos, smoke puffing above their outraged faces in dismal haloes. Cutlasses and teeth gnashed, eager to spill blood.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun May 03, 2009 7:06 pm



Lying sprawled on the deck from his successful avoidance of the first volley of deadly shot, Payden was quite curious of the Count's display of magic. For some reason it reminded him of the birds that followed in the wake of the train, using it's strength to pull them along, but he had little time to contemplate sorcery and ignited his harpoon.

He threw straight and hard, and a surge of strength ran threw his body as he not only hit his mark but skewered a pirate to boot but in his moment of triumph a grappling hook struck the port side of the sylph, tethering it to the other long boat. Quickly then he lit the other spear and took aim at the port side ship which was fast approaching, but as he drew back he found himself staring down the barrels of four pistols.

It was a moment when all slowed, and one thinks about the choices in their life because for some reason it becomes important to know just which one ended it. Would he have the time to avoid the piercing hot shot, he thought not and so he hurled the flaming harpoon with all his strength toward the smallest target he could find. The harpoon flowed through the air straight and true, flying toward a portly seaman's thigh rather than the belt buckle that had been targeted. A trail of fiery fuel trailed behind the spear, that penetrated the man's leg and covered him with burning oil.

Four shots rang out, even the impaled man managed to squeeze his trigger before being engulfed in flames. The first, rushed past Payden's ear and the sound was accompanied by a burning sensation in his neck and he could feel the sensation of quick cooling blood on his face. More pain burst from his side, causing him to fall backwards and fall atop the roof of the cabin, but despite the pain he could still move.

With a pain stricken roar he forced himself to his feet, drew cutlass and knife and in a pure display of animalistic rage leapt from the Sylph and into the burning long ship. The pirates did not expect such a suicidal maneuver and while the one at the bow took time to reload his weapon the others tossed their burning ship mate over the side and tried to smother the fire. Payden slashed the throat of the first man and kicked him over the side as he landed, catching the remaining four off guard.

Payden's side screamed with pain and his neck felt as if it were on fire. He could feel the warm sticky sensation of blood oozing from both areas, and it turned him into a cornered wolf, where retreat was not an option. The next two men whirled around with swords drawn, brandishing their blades in an unpracticed fashion, and Payden kept his line, focusing on his balance. Without thought he easily parried their hacking attacks and with an unorthodox riposte in the form of a swift and high kick his boot heel smashed one in the teeth sending him over the side. The other lunged, but the black clad rogue was quicker with a stop-cut maneuver, their swords clashed, only the pirates was deflected to the side while Payden's drove on straight and true through the man's throat. The pirate slumped to deck, the death throws of his convulsing body pulling itself free of his killers blade, leaving in bright red.

With all his will, Payden forced himself to suppress his pain and appear as menacing as possible. The two men, stood before him weapons drawn but neither was brave enough to match blades with the bloodied swordsman after witnessing him dispatch of their three mates in a matter of six moves. Little did they know that their opponent's vision was already beginning to blur and a cold numbness was befalling his limbs, else they would have ceased the opportunity to gut him. Instead they looked to one another and both decided they would rather not die that day and each leapt over their respective sides and into the sea.

The long boat, still secured to the Sylph, trailed behind it as Payden struggled to maintain consciousness. His neck had been grazed and a steady stream of blood poured from the small wound, but it was the apparent shot he took to his right side that threatened his life. The right leg of his pants was soaked with blood, and his face was pale and sallow.

There were yet three pirates that clung to the stern that had managed to pull themselves from the other long boat by using the rope of another grappling hook that clung to the rope-rail that ran along the edge of the ship. One was close to pulling himself onto the ship but Payden had not strength to act. He waved to Curt and Miss de Pontu and weakly pointed to the stern before he collapsed.
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