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[IC Thread] The World of Ash

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Matthias nodded in response to her mention of the storms. There had been several in quick succession over the past few weeks, a few he’d been caught in without shelter and ended up sleeping under the snow with Rip, something that while possible was best avoided due more to the potential for suffocation than freezing to death.

 

Strength can be many things and each person finds it. You credit yourself with too little of it for someone who dares to venture out into the white world at all. ” Matthias allowed her to finish before responding again.

 

He considered her comment, “interesting, ” he broke her gaze and looked back down at the table, leaning back in his seat and slumping just in the slightest. “A companion will certainly shape the path taken, but what is a path at all worth walking if it is walked alone?

 

He shrugged, “I have no glorious path to walk. I do what I do to survive, every day is similar to the last, every morning or evening may be the last. There is little purpose in such an existence, there is the danger of becoming a non-person, just another survivor with no purpose but to survive. The loss of hope, the emptiness of soul, the lack of a story. ” For a moment Matthias appeared not as a strong man, a wise hunter, a fearsome warrior, or even a young man… for a moment he appeared tired, aged, and even… sad. “My purpose is to find a woman to whom I can devote my life and find purpose in providing for, it is a longing at the core of my being even at the level of instinct. But I doubt I will find one, I’m too odd, as my brother would say, and I know it won’t be long even before I die. Rip is already getting old, he won’t live more than three years longer, and this life is harsh, I won’t avoid death forever. Still, I can’t live here, like these people, and so I search for someone else who shares my path.

 

Matthias said all of this as if there was no social norm to be violated. He honestly didn’t see anything wrong with sharing this with this woman who he’d only just met. It was who he was, he would share it with anyone who asked, what they decided to do with it was up to them but he could only be himself, and he had always been this way ever since the day he left.

 

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Ka-CRACK. Jovah's eyes shot open, staring widely in to the thick sludge of darkness that wafted throughout the room. In an almost seamlessly natural reaction, he found left hand resting on his rifle, and his right gripping the handle of his hatchet -- no, wait. Not the handle. Far too thin. He sat motionless for a few moments as the last inklings of the particularly volatile thunder crash receded and dissipated overhead, ringing out several more little bursts of noise in the aftershock. He grunted as he sat up more fully, taking each hand away from his weapons and reaching his left down in to the duffel bag sitting just below on the floor. He unzipped an interior pocket and reached in, fingers brushing over the rough fabric and fishing for something.

 

A few seconds of silence passed, wind whistling as it arched over the frame of the Throne, causing the wooden supports to creak and whine. He could hear hail landing on the thatched roof a story above him. He could hear the sleet battering the shutters in the front lobby. More importantly, he could increasingly hear the sound of his own breathing as all of the other sounds joined the white background noise of the world. Eventually, he found what he was looking for and withdrew a small package of matches from his bag. He handled the box with care, then opened it and took a thin thick with a red tip out before striking it, sparks illuminating the darkness for a split second before igniting further and becoming a more complete flame. He reached over and lit the candle by his bed, then scooted over and held his right hand up to the flickering pyre.

 

Ah, yes. He hadn't grabbed the handle, he had grabbed the blade. For whatever reason, he wasn't sure. A miscalculation, or perhaps he had been having a dream in which the hatchet was assumed to be in some other position.

 

Thick, red ichor dripped down his palm and ran over the pad of it on to his wrist, running from a thin, bloody line that ran horizontally on his hand just above his thumb. He let out an unsatisfied grumble and ran a finger over the cut - it was deep enough to pose a problem. Moreover, it was painful, and the skin had come up slightly. The explosion had startled him more than he would have liked to admit, and for that he was upset with himself.

 

With a callous sigh, he stood up and plucked his thermos from within one of the satchels upon his belt (which at that time had been draped over the back of one of the two chairs in the room). He held his right hand closed and make his way over to his room's window, feeling up for it. He soon discovered that it opened outwards and, presently being blocked by snowfall, was not good to him. He instead exited his room out in to the hallway, then up the small flight of stairs in to the lobby. He had no intention of using the front door - it was snowed in and to risk the white wall beyond collapsing inward would be a bad idea indeed. Aside from that, it was almost assuredly locked.

 

At this time of the night, the lobby was dark - it would be pitch black, in fact, if it hadn't been for a lonely, wavering flame dancing atop a candle on the far side of the bar. He stood for a minute to let his eyes adjust, then walked carefully to one side of the room and reached up, feeling for, finding and soon unlatching a window. He pulled it open very slightly and felt up -- yes, there was snow. The building was by now mostly buried in it. He smoothly filled his thermos with the white stuff, closed and latched the window and made his way back to his room. There, he sat for a few long minutes with the insulated container held over a flame, melting the contents inside.

 

His hand was throbbing by the time the snow was sufficiently melted, a pang of pain shooting through him with each beat of his heart. He made his way lithely (he was more awake now) over to the wall and knelt down. In the event of snow falling in through a window, there were small holes in the sides of the floor that allowed for drainage of any water. He felt for one with his good hand, then walked back to his bag and collected his flashlight and a rag. He turned the electric torch on and held it between his teeth, shining the light on and looking at his right hand in more detail. It had bled quite a bit, but by now had nearly stopped. He had done well enough putting pressure on it, and as he had recently cleaned his axe the chance for infection was slim. Still, dressing it was priority. He tugged his sleeve up and began to gently pour water on his arm one section at a time, wiping away the blood. After a minute of careful cleaning, he reached his palm, where he poured the rest of the warm water and very carefully wiped the blood away. He held his hand palm-up and pushed the rag on it, standing and walking back over to the bed.

 

Jovah's fingers once more danced inside his bag, drawing out medical tape and some bandages. He wasted no time in wrapping his wound twice and taping the specialized cloth in place. He then replaced all of his items and set on the edge of his bed, trying to draw himself back in to the throes of sleep.

 

It was, unfortunately, no use.

 

More a blessing than a curse, Jovah had never required much sleep. In fact, if he was too well rested, he found that he got sluggish and slow. Where most people would enjoy nine to ten hours of slumber, he felt that he performed optimally with just six or seven, which left him with quite a bit of time to kill in the night. Normally, he would wander the streets of a town, or perhaps gamble with friends and comrades that would be lost and never seen again the next morning. Tonight, however, he was still sane, and didn't wish to brave the storm just to throw away what little amount of useless coin he carried with him. He didn't need it, but in the event he ran out of food the tin and copper would prove a convenience to him.

 

He sat alone for perhaps an hour, merely contemplating and from time to time checking his wound. By the point that this time was up, however, he found himself crushingly bored -- well, not bored, but inactive. He hated being inactive. He always wanted to be moving (barring after three days of drudging through scrap and suburb), and on this grim night there was no exception. His physical urgency turned to mental exercise and observation, and his mind eventually turned to his surroundings. When that ceased to feed his craving, he simply plucked out his map, took a seat and began to read and mark by candlelight, keeping to this task until well after morning.

 

--------------------

 

The Throne was packed now. Jovah had heard the occupants of the rooms surrounding him take their leave, and occasionally shuffle back to their temporary abodes to remove an item, replace one or perhaps rest their eyes for another fifteen, twenty minutes. A good bit of the Northwestern area of Redwood City had now been marked for scavenging, certainly enough for a few weeks of operations if he was forced to move slowly. The concern was that it bordered on the outer walls of San Francisco, and in the few excursions he had made in to the city itself, he had often come out barely with his life. It was less that the urban megacenter was full of danger than it was that a man's wits became the danger. Even his mapping skills dulled in the maze of towers, roads and layers of terraces and constructions. Not to mention that side paths often had to be taken; there were many collapsed freeways that had previously ran above the ground level roads. Still, he hadn't died yet, and with each expedition inwards he had always gotten a little farther and seen a little more.

 

He closed the map book, deciding that he had marked enough to be satisfied with himself. He took ten minutes to pack and secure his things, then slid on his gloves, belt, socks and boots and left his room, taking his key with him. He set it in the return box on the counter as he stepped and rose out of the hall his room had been in. He looked around; a man was speaking to a couple of other men (and one woman) about something or other. It had to do with San Francisco or wolves or... He couldn't make sense of it; there was clearly some background information he needed to comprehend it all, so he put it out of his mind and looked around.

 

The Cleric was with the injured man (who now, thankfully, seemed to be better). Beside them sat the flutist from the night before. The Wildman was speaking to another woman now, a pile of knives laying next to him. They all seemed to have made it through the night without much trouble, something he was thankful for given the brutal conditions of the storm. He hefted his rifle on his back and took a seat at the far side of the bar, away from anyone in particular, and ordered a cup of coffee. It was expensive and almost assuredly synthetic, but he had (against his better judgment) decided to treat himself to something nice, as he had recently been living sparsely and without much regard to personal comfort.

 

A minute passed and the coffee arrived. He took out the old newspaper from the night before and began to read it – this time actually, truly reading it and not using it as a disguise for his scavenging rounds.

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Indigo lowered her eyes again, condisdering what Matthias had said.

 

"Any fool can trick themselves into leaving a town, and a lucky one can survive. It takes strength to divide yourself from society entirely, to be independant, and that I do not own." Eying up the many furs he wore, she assumed he would be an accomplished hunter. And if he had his own emblem to mark leather with...he'd definitly used the mark before.

 

"A path you are free to walk by your own accord, which each footstep going where you want to do, each breath for a purpose you believe in, and every find or treasure for you alone. Who would seek a partner if they could suffice alone? Winterbury serves as my partner for now, taking my profits and exchanging them, and keeping me alive. But I will weaken, not have enough to trade, and Winterbury will cast me off, or Winterbury will whither and die, leaving me to survive alone."

Pausing slightly, she listened, quirking her head slightly as she considered his words.

 

"Would you want to have a wife to take care of, to be dependant of and to look after? What is the chances of finding someone who wants to do exactly what you do? You have yet to find your path - what if you find it when married,but cannot leave it because of someone else holding you down. I doubt your path would be to support someone, you seem so much more than that."

 

It was a curious dream to be sure, but whatever hope someone had, Indigo was relucatant to crush it. Had she phrased herself ok? Who knew.

 

"We are never walking alone, even though it may seem so. There are others with similar paths, travellers who will benefit from the treasures we lose, the trails are dropped down. We are all interlinked, and will always be." Anger flashed into her eyes now, she hated being chained to humanity and society like a mere creature.

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Matthias considered what she said for a moment. From a larger perspective it was true, he was connected with the rest of humanity at some level in that he couldn't simply avoid everyone all the time and still survive, neither, he mused, should he.

 

"Perhaps that is what makes us human, that we cannot lose that connection..." he didn't say it as a question or even a response, it was just a member of his thoughts that managed to slip through the surface and come out, but that didn't bother him a great deal. This woman had an interesting perspective on life, so large and far reaching, as though she thought about this every day as she wandered about looking for treasure, perhaps she did. Her thought about his own path caused him to pause and think, what was his own path? He could survive, and that's what he did, there was no glorious hunt to named after, no kill worthy of dedicating one's life to. And if not that then what else could his path be, alone it was all he did, hunt, tan hides, hunt some more, and to him it seemed less a path than simply survival. In his mind it had always fit that his path would be to provide for someone else, a wife, so that she would be free to walk her own path. His only skill was just that, to provide, to protect, but when it only involved himself it felt empty somehow, and there was a part of him that took great joy in providing for others, even the small gift he had given to this woman had seemed more purposeful than the dozens of hunts used to bring in the coins he purchased it with.

 

"I am a hunter, there is little else I know, though I play the philosopher from time to time. I provide for myself, for Rip, and I'm very good at it. But what path is there in that save simple survival? To me it has always been half empty, an accomplishment only half earned. Mere survival is less and less worth while to me. I do dream... now and then. A small cabin, out in the middle of nowhere, a home, a family of my own, no need to connect with anyone else, passing on my skills to my children. But in times like these it is a dangerous thing to hold on to." Matthias paused, "I don't believe I will ever find anyone who shares that dream, so I've settled for a lesser dream. And that is to provide with my skills not only for myself, but for another who can carry out their dream without fear because I can provide food and protection. There is little else I can do, but I know that I would be happy even in that lesser dream, more happy than being on my own."

 

Matthias gave her a wan smile, "the desire to be independent completely you may find is less strong in men. At least in my experience and my case. The desire to provide for another, to be a protector with a territory, to be a lover, whatever all of that entails, to me that's a far deeper instinct than any glory I could find for myself." He shrugged, "what would you say to that?"

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Rune was relieved to hear that Matthias hadn't done anything that had frightened the bard, at least not very much. Although he didn't trust Matthias' mind, Rune knew he wouldn't purposely hurt a woman. Well, unless she was an enemy. But on the very few occasions where Rune and Matthias had run into bandits and there had been women, Rune had been the one to finish them when necessary. And he had absolutely nothing against killing bandits, male or female, young or old. Children he wouldn't kill, couldn't kill. Fortunately they'd never run into any children who threatened their lives.

 

"My name's Jasmine. Please, have a seat."

 

Jasmine. Mother would have loved that name! I'm busy, not now.

 

Then the patient spoke up. His name was Jed. Rune shifted a bit as Jed attempted to remember his last name. It wasn't that important, Rune supposed. After all, last names only mattered in a very few important families. Rune could change his last name every day and it wouldn't make a difference to anyone. But Rune kept his last name for several reasons, one of which was directed against Matthias. After all, they technically shared their last name. "Jed Colston," the stranger finished. Rune nodded, assuming that by stating their names Jed and Jasmine wouldn't need him to introduce them. He then accepted the seat offered by Jasmine, and offered Jed one with a wave of his hand.

 

Rune was quite surprised at Jasmine's answer to his earlier question.

 

"I would happily wish to join you and Matthias. However, I do not ask for anything in payment. As it is, I haven't had company to travel with in quite some time. Maybe a story will rise along the way."

 

He stared a moment longer than he intended, then glanced at Matthias. She would happily wish to join them. She didn't ask for anything in payment. Rune couldn't help but smile just a bit then. No wonder she got along so well with Matthias; in her own way, she was a lot like him. It was a bit strange, he thought, to run into so many people with similarities to Matthias in such a populated place. Then again, perhaps it was Rune's own perception that was forcing him to compare everyone to Matthias and therefore judge their morality. He frowned at this thought, deciding then that the error was his, but a moment later he realized he was zoning and had almost missed Jasmine's second question.

 

"I assume we'll leave at midday today, or perhaps early tomorrow morning. It's... really up to Matthias there. Both he and Rip-" Oh yeah, that's its name- "get antsy if they're in settlements too long."

 

Rune then turned and listened to Jed. He spoke of his hunting skill, and it sounded like he was quite the avid hunter. I suppose he has to be, since he lives alone...

"And if we'd happen to find my home, then I'd just need to get one... one... I couldn't take her with me, so I had to leave her at home." Rune's eyes widened. What was Jed talking about? Who did he leave? A wife, a mother, a... a child? Daddy left us. So did Matthias. That's why Mommy died. That's why I-

Immediately Rune was concerned. He tried to make sense of Jed's mumbling, tried to read the pale man's face. "Just one to get. Not... Important. I can't get home anyway..."

 

And then Jed was introducing himself to Jasmine. But Rune was still trying to interpret what Jed had said. A dog, perhaps? An animal? That had to be it. After all, most smaller dogs couldn't take long journeys and were only good as household guards. It couldn't be important; Jed had already moved on to speaking with Jasmine. But Rune didn't know much about Jed and felt he had to make sure. As Jed asked questions about the flute, Rune sort of interrupted.

 

"Jed, hold on a moment. I thought you live alone... did you leave something at your house? Someone or an animal you have to--you should take care of?" He tried not to sound too serious as he asked, tried not to sound over-concerned. After all, it wasn't Rune's business and surely Jed knew what he was doing. But Rune couldn't help but ask in this case.

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Indigo hesitated before replying. It was such a sweet dream, yet she doubted it would ever come to fruition. People did marry those who could support them, true, but wouldn't those people want to stay in the safety of the city. Thinking back to her own family, she realized he mother had always travelled, returning to the city on occasion while her father farmed. Could something like that work for him?

 

"If someone shared your dream, wouldn't that make the dream less special?" Curious now, she wondered how she would feel if somebody shared the same goals as her. "Survival isn't a dream, yet it is an achievement. But somedays I wonder if the ash will just collapse in on us, and we'll all be buried, our lives for naught. Would you really be happy with halving your goals just to help another? Wouldn't they feel bad they halted one, and surely you would be less help to them if you didn't have a driving force behind you."

 

"Aaah...but are you making that decision of your own free will, or have you been brought up to believe that it is right to protect? If I saw someone being mugged, I would run and hide, but I would assume you would help. Is that because of a protective nature, or do you believe that by doing it you become a good person?"

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"When I dream I dream about a life in which I'm with someone, until I meet her the dream has already been halved, and the other is required to complete it." Matthias replied, glad to hear the curiosity in her voice. She actually seemed genuinely interested in his thoughts, which was refreshing considering that it was hard to find anyone who would talk about this sort of thing much less be interested in it. "If they shared the same dream then I would be fulfilling their dream as they were mine, however, I don't expect to find anyone with the same dream, it would work better if I found someone with a different dream. After all, if the only dream was to find another then both would be left without a dream, their goals complete, but if I were to find someone with a dream of their own who wouldn't be opposed to filling mine, then my original goal would be complete, my dream fulfilled and the rest of my life could be dedicated to coming along with them to complete their dream. I think in that I would be perfectly contented."

 

Then she mentioned protection and upbringing. For a moment a dark look crossed his face, he didn't like to remember his childhood, too many bad memories, too many good ones never to come again. But the look was gone like the morning mist when it got that warm in the summer and his face reverted to his interested and semi-curious look. Her question was a hard one to answer, yes he had been raised on the principles of protecting the helpless, being a good person, but he didn't count that as his motivation for his current actions.

 

"No, I don't believe you become a good person I think you are one or you are not and that your actions come out of that truth, not the other way around. As for what I would do, it depends. I do not go out of my way to help others, even in your case. I never like to keep excess, whether it be meat, fur, coins, whatever. It's always been my practice to get rid of what was left over after I had what I needed. I gave it to you because you were the first person I'd seen, and I will admit I admired your determination and didn't want to see an injury set you back." Matthias was silent for a moment, "the more noble of the animals understand the duty of the strong to protect the weak, a wolf pack keeps its own, weak or young, strong or old, because it is in their nature. For me I am not part of any human pack as it were, I'm not responsible for the well being of someone getting mugged. However, if it was a child or a woman I would intervene. Men may settle their differences with violence but that same principle should never be carried over to women or to children, that is my belief take it as you see it." Matthias shrugged.

 

He had stopped a mugging at least twice, and both times it had simply been a compulsion that beating a woman or a child was wrong on an innate level. What was the difference between a man who beat a woman or child and one of the raiders that everyone hated? There was no difference, one was in the town the other was with a group of like minded ruffians in the wilderness. There was no place in Matthias' heart to pity either of them. The drifts of snow had long buried their corpses. Had it been right? Had it made him a good person? No he reckoned perhaps it hadn't. And suddenly he was thinking out loud again.

 

"Did it make me right? Did it make me a good person?" He glanced up at Indigo, "no perhaps not, but it made me who I am, and who we are is all any of us really has."

Edited by Rakashua

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(( Bump. Waiting on Emeraldmay and Packgoater, I think.

 

By the way, I'm giving you freedom of action here. Any of you can head out at any time you want. Even if the entire group is split up, I have no problem describing what's happening on a case-by-case basis with each character. I would prefer that that didn't happen, but I'm just saying, I'm not going to stop anyone from doing things in the RP. ))

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((No, we're waiting on Narvix. I've been waiting. I have no problems posting without them, but... I just felt like I should wait. I guess I should have pm'd them, sorry.))

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(( Oh, alright.

 

Also, got a new applicant accepted. New characters, woo~! ))

Edited by Arctic

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((Sorry, I had my German orals :l Went awfully, but I'm back now smile.gif ))

 

"So what would happen if their dream involved you having to compromise your own morals?" Indigo looked directly at him now, watching his face for any sign of a reaction. "And the person would have to be ok with not achieving the dream on their own..." In an extended blink, Indigo wondered what her dream was. Was being away from people a need or a dream? Was she lacking a purpose?

 

"While giving the excess away is good for the short term, would it not be more profitable to keep it, save it? We live in changing times, if all the beasts of outside died instantly, everyone would have to turn to farming for getting food. Would you be able to pay for food with your main income gone? Many people in this world have determination, it is what links all survivors. A newborn babe has to have the willpower to survive in the cold climate it's thrown into, an old man with a crooked back must still slave day after day to pay for his food. Those without determination you can see outside in the streets - dying or dead. They have no determination or dream to follow. Wolf packs may look after one another, but we are primitive in that respect; as we allow our nearest and closest to wander the land in search for survival, yet discard those who are weak as easily as you would discard a pine cone. "

 

Pausing, she considered his words about women and children. The feminist side of her longed to argue with him, but the natural weakness in strength of them left her conceding him a point.

 

"While children may be weak, they are also fast enough to dodge and run. And what if a women was trying to solve her problems with violence - would you step in to protect her against a man fighting in self defence"

 

Dropping eye contact now, she looked down towards the floor, watching the particles of golden dust fall gently down like the snow outside.

 

"Is anyone a good person anymore?"

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((Sorry for the absence. There's no internet at my house currently and I'm not on the school computers often.))

 

So the wolf’s name was Rip and the lost stranger was called Jed. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jed.” Jasmine was about to hold her hand out in greeting but then the man began to ask questions about her playing. However, before she could manage to answer, Rune was cutting through his own questions to Jed. Listening, she recalled the man’s stumbled words about gathering something – someone? – from his home if they should happen to pass it. It did pique the bard’s curiosity but she felt it best not to indulge it and likewise question Jed.

 

Turning her curious gaze back to the solitary man, she thought briefly on if she had ever met anyone similar to him in the past. Jasmine couldn’t recall any similar personalities but that didn’t mean he was the only one living in nearly complete solitude. Glancing towards Matthias, she noted he was talking to another woman and wondered – based on what he had told her the night before – if he saw the woman as another ‘real’ person. He came off mostly as a man of solitude, similar to Jed, but he spoke with a literacy that would suggest the opposite. She didn’t know his past and she wouldn’t create any assumptions like she wouldn’t for Jed, Rune, the other woman, or anyone else she crossed paths with.

 

Jasmine had grown faintly sidetracked, refocusing her attention in time to hear the trailing end of Jed’s reply to Rune’s questions. She attempted to guess at the rest of his words without having to ask of them a second time. Whichever the man’s answer, she frowned slightly in thought and idly pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. The lenses were old and, based on how some things began to blur around the edges after a certain distance, her vision had changed. Whether her vision changed for the better or the worse was unknown and debatable to her. Finding a set of glasses that fit her needs was hard to come by and, besides, she liked the current frames. Finding new glasses would mean having a different frame so, for now, she would be content with her old lenses so long as she could see decently.

 

Beginning to rise from her seat, she turned to Jed briefly. “I have not forgotten your questions about my instrument and I shall answer them in short. I only wish to grab my belongings first since midday will arrive quickly enough and I feel you would like to see my instrument up close as I answer your questions.”

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By the time she was through speaking Matthias' head was beginning to hurt from all the thinking. On one hand he was enjoying it immensely, she was raising questions he either hadn't considered or hadn't had to consider for a long time. He patiently waited for her to finish as he gathered his own thoughts and considered what she said. His only reaction was a slight smile, life really was complex when it came down to it, but not many people thought of it that way.

 

"I believe in absolute morals, rules that do not change from person to person that define right and wrong. But I'm not arrogant enough to say that I know exactly what they are. I know murder is wrong, but what about killing in self defense? I know that stealing is wrong, but what about taking from someone who has excess to provide for your family that would otherwise starve? Lying is wrong, but if someone was hunting a friend of yours who was hiding in your home and they asked you if that friend was there, would it be right or wrong to lie and say that he was not?" Matthias shrugged, "I could not exist in the same dream as someone who did not believe that murder was wrong, or that stealing was ok, or that lying should be commonplace. But a woman with whit and insight might convince me that her morals were more correctly understood than my own." Matthias gazed intently at Indigo, making it obvious that she was the one he was referring to, not because he believed that she had any interest in being such a woman, but because he intended the compliment to fall to her as she had proved both a quick whit and full of insight.

 

"If what you said were to come to pass, and ignoring my belief that the lack of other animals would be our doom as well, then I would rely on the investments I've made. The people I've given my excess too, my mark. They are my investment. While I do not expect anything in return from them, I would go to them and seek their good will in exchange for whatever use they would have for me. And while it may be foolish to some, I would rather put my savings in people and favors than coins and metal." Matthias gave her a warm smile, "though you are of the same mind my brother is, he tells me the same thing. I simply choose not to worry so much about tomorrow that I miss today."

 

Matthias noted the twist to Indigo's face when he spoke of women and children. It always fascinated him when people, especially women and children, took offense to his feeling. And it was a feeling, even more than a belief, it was instinctual, the desire to protect. He couldn't not feel it, though he didn't have to act on it of course. It wasn't like he believed women and children were inferior for no reason at all. They were simply different, they had different needs, just as he had different needs. There were very few women he'd ever met, certainly the exception to the rule, who were as strong or built to hunt as he was. And children were not yet developed in mind or body, if someone didn't watch out for them then it was natural that they die out. Which I suppose is why we have parents... Matthias mused.

 

"I have offended you, but you agree with me already, the simple truth is that all are different, some differences are just more common than others. Children are fast, women may choose to settle their differences with violence, just as some men may choose to do so with words, just as some women could probably kill me in a fight." He shrugged, "but not every child is fast, not every woman has a silver tongue, and not every man is strong. Protection is taking care of someone who can't otherwise take care of themselves. I wouldn't feel the need to protect someone who didn't need it, and while it's not always the case, most instances you can tell at a glance." Matthias returned his gaze to her eyes, "I have a feeling you would need it much less than most, but everyone needs it at some point, even me."

 

"So you have a fairly good idea of my dream. May I ask what is yours?" Matthias asked the question simply. He was actually quite interested in the answer. Since Indigo seemed to have thought so much about these things. Most people's beliefs didn't register to Matthias as interesting, but Indigo was proving that she actually considered her beliefs before simply accepting them, that made her interesting, and her dream no doubt would be an outworking of all those beliefs.

 

 

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Red huffed as her small fire went out.

 

Shivering slightly, she looked up at the sky, about to fuss at it for sending the wind to torment her, and narrowed her eyes. Those clouds didn't look friendly, and the wind had been picking up over the course of the afternoon. With a sigh and a small groan, she moved the fur she'd been working at sewing off of her lap, setting it lightly on the ground, and forced herself to her feet, rubbing her hands together and picking up her shovel, hardly more than beat up wood attached to a sharp piece of scrap metal bent in the shape of a spade. She dumped some snow on the little fire, making sure it was really out, then headed back towards the pine tree where she had dug a tree pit several nights ago. Some of the snow had blown off, so she set to rebuilding the little wall of snow, packing it in to make it firm and readjusting the boughs she had arranged on top before standing straight again to look over it.

 

The boughs were looking a little weak, and, looking at the sky again, Red decided not to test her luck. She headed over to a tree she hadn't assaulted yet and picked up the shovel, whistling a little tune as she set to work chopping off some of the larger limbs at the bottom and stacking them up. When finished with this chore, Red dragged them over, one at a time, and shook them off before putting the limbs over what she already had, hoping this would keep the snow out of her sleeping area.

 

The wind whipped her hair against her face until she had had enough and pulled out a small tie to pull her hair back with, adjusting her scarf to keep her neck warmer. Her small shelter wouldn't last many more days. Perhaps, she thought to herself, it was time to head back towards Winterbury. She'd been away for almost a week, and had plenty to trade. If nothing else, that boy who frequented the trading post would be happy to see her. That was a funny thought in itself, and she let herself laugh, a small sound that seemed out of place in the white landscape. It was definitely time to check in again.

 

She looked around for anything she might have left, pulling her coat tighter to her, then carefully moved into her little shelter, fixing some of the snow that was displaced by her movements. Inside was a small nest of animal furs and clothes not on her person, to which Red settled into happily. Night was rapidly falling now, and she watched it happily, moving her nest around to keep in as much heat as she could during the night.

 

The snow was coming down harder than she had expected, keeping Red awake. She sat and watched it, occasionally reaching out with clothes wrapped around her hand to brush some of the snow off of her shelter, counting her blessings that the tree she had camped under had a wider skirt than some of the others she had considered. It was bitingly cold, and she shivered in spite of herself, curling deeper into her hidey hole. She had always found there to be something eerily beautiful about blizzards. Sure, the danger was enough to keep her in hiding, but the way the wind whipped the snow around almost seemed magical to her, like spirits dancing. Red shook her head, snorting. What nonsense. Spirits didn't exist, and if they did, she hoped they had better sense to go dancing around in a blizzard.

 

She sat up when the crashes started. Peering out again with wide eyes, fearing some odd creature was out there, Red watched the sky agian alight, illuminating every speck of darkness.

 

"Great..." she muttered darkly, sniffling. "Caught out in the middle of a blizzard and a goddamn storm. I just have the best luck..." she grumped, reaching for her rifle out of habit and cradling it close in an attempt to make herself feel safer than her mind would let her believe she was. With limited luck, she attempted to fall asleep again, but was jumpy. Lightning and thunder always made her jumpy, making her feel like meeting her makers on whatever night they struck was inevitable. She nestled further down, putting the furs over her face, and breathed in their scent, closing her eyes....

 

...and jolting awake again with a shout as the sound and resonance of an explosion tore through the night, attempting to draw a knife that wasn't there but getting caught in the very furs that kept her warm. Red panted, dragging her hair back into a messy braid, and attempted to calm herself down, taking deep, shaky breaths, wondering what the hell that could have been. She searched the sky through her thick mess of branches, seeing orange clouds and streaks above her, seeming to move either from or towards San Fransisco, and shuddered. She hoped the place burned to the ground, all the evil in it going up in smoke, and, still shivering, burrowed back into her furs and lay awake the rest of the night.

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Red opened her eyes the next morning, poking her head out of her hidey hole and exhaling quietly upon finding that it was probably just before dawn. She felt sluggish and slow, mostly from the chilly night and lack of rest, but was determined to make it to Winterbury that day. Sitting up, she remembered the orange clouds, and looked off towards San Fransisco, but saw nothing. Groaning, rubbing her stiff knee, she crouched, pushing at the shield of boughs and thanking it for keeping the snow off of her head. It took her a few minutes with the shovel to clear the snow off to where she could stand, stretching and exhaling. With this, she started packing, telling herself she'd get something to eat when she reached Winterbury.

 

She tramped through the snow, slightly amazed at how the whole world seemed brighter as the sun rose, piercing through the thick fog and making the water droplets in the air seem to dance the way the snow the previous night had, laughing to herself to think that it just took an explosion to do such to things. The world, however, did not laugh with her, and she pursed her lips slightly, muttering about an ungrateful audience.

 

The rest of the morning passed without much event, and Red arrived at Winterbury. The streets were dead quiet, most likely a result of the previous night and as she worked her way towards the trading post, she took note of a peculiar ruckus inside the Throne. She passed it by and headed inside the trading post with a small greeting, taking on the general sentiment of the people outside. She set her goods on the counter: a bundle of loose furs, a few sweaters of varying sizes made from fur and a woven material, and a couple pieces of scrap metal. After a few moments of discussing how things were out in the world, she brought the attention back to this, curious as to what they had in the way of new materials and paper. The man inspected the fur, nodding to Red in approval, then went back to look, returning with a small clump of a dark colored thread and a good amount of paper, which he set on the counter. Red flipped through the packet of paper, seeming pleased with the quality, but just stood and waited for a moment until the man caught on and shared with her the gossip that had gone around town, what had reached him of the scavenger's story. Red nodded, then packed her goods away and headed outside, waving to the man as she went.

 

Once outside, she inhaled deeply, savoring the flavor of the air, and headed towards the Throne to see what all was going on. Over in the corner the group she assumed had made all the noise remained, and she chose a spot near them, setting her pack down by the table, leaning her rifle against her leg, letting her quarterstaff rest against the wall where she could easily access it in case of emergency, and folding her hands together.

 

She looked around the room, taking notice of all the people as she listened. A gruff looking man with a nice coat was talking to a woman at that table, but their conversation didn't seem particularly interesting. At another table sat two men, one who looked very out of place and nervous, and a -- now, there was something one didn't see everyday, Red thought to herself, leaning back. A tan woman with dark hair. Surely, she hadn't seen one of those since... She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen one of them. No matter. She made a note to direct her attention back to them later, and kept scanning the room.

 

A dash of white caught her roving eye, and she tilted her head, looking over this stranger while she appeared to be scratching a spot on her shoulder. All in white, alone at the bar. This was a man of experience in the world. And he had a newspaper. That in itself could be something to look into... But these people would not be such accustomed to one just coming up and chatting, no doubt. So, with a sigh, she decided that the man speaking to the small crowd had no more useful information for her, and stood up, slinging her pack over one shoulder and her rifle over the other, taking her staff and heading over to where he was, settling down between him and most of the crowd, giving the newspaper a glance, then clearing her throat slightly, deciding that her social skills -starting a conversation, particularly- could probably use some reviewing.

Edited by Limitless

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Indigo smiled slightly as he mentioned morals. It was strange to find someone with such fixed morals in such a changing time...yet Matthias wasn't exactly the norm. Could she even judge what the norm was now? How isolated had she become?

 

"Morals don't change from person to person? That is your view, would you expect others to follow your morals? There are many exceptions due to circumstance, true, but those who lack morals cannot be blamed for not having morals, indeed, we should pity them as they will never have humanity."

 

Feeling herself getting more and more angsty, Indigo paused, attempting to calm herself down. Talking to him wasn't as bad as normal people, but she rarely talked to this amount; with her voice growing hoarse and her mind equally as tired. It was a strange thing how she could walk for days on end with aching legs, yet barely be able to talk to another human for any period of time without getting a splitting headache.

 

"You have not offended me. And that fact that I'm still alive, that shows I can indeed protect myself. As it shows with you." Her dream? What was her dream? Panic filled her, as she hastily began to stutter the only goal she'd ever concieved. It wasn't much, but at least it was hers.

 

"My...erm...dream. To. to. To fix my gun I guess." That would work. Heaving the shambled weapon onto the table, she displayed it in front of the man. His knives were still closer to her after all. "It's...still a prototype shall we say, but I made it all myself. But to make it perfect...." Pride welled p in her eyes as she looked down at her childhood product, different materials perceived together like a metallic patchwork, and the faint shape of a barrel pointing out from a rectangular end. Wires were wrapped haphazardly round it, and it gave an unstable rattle as she placed it on the table.

 

It was the draft of cold that woke her from gazing at her baby. A red...what an unusual colour...women had walked in. Staring slightly, Indigo was fascinated by the color of her hair, she'd only seen it in the embers of a fire previously. Captivated slightly, she turned away from the women back towards Matthias.

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Matthias nodded slowly and gave an apologetic smile, immediately catching her sudden lack of enthusiasm in the discussion, he himself had felt the same thing moments ago. It wasn't that the discussion had become uninteresting or that he no longer enjoyed her company, the simple fact was that many words had been spoken, more than he usually spoke in a week. It was starting to become dry, both literally in his mouth and figuratively in the discussion, it seemed that she had a similar view towards over-socialization.

 

"You can indeed." Matthias replied, moving back slightly as she placed her weapon on the table. Interesting, she hadn't taken that step earlier, in fact he had nearly completely disarmed himself just to set her at ease. The fact that she was setting her weapon on the table meant a lot and he kept his distance to show his respect for that action.

 

"It's... unique," he finally commented, already regretting the choice of words, though there was no other adjective that sprang immediately to his mind. "I'm sorry I can't pay it a better compliment as I'm sure it deserves, I simply have neither the experience or knowledge of such weapons to come up with one."

 

Matthias decided with the very short explanation, trying to indicate to Indigo that he had caught on to her mood and was letting the conversation drop in the least awkward way he could think of. "I don't use them because if something were to go wrong, or if I were to run out of ammunition... I don't want to be left with a blunt club to defend myself." He shrugged, "a rifle is a good tool, just not one I'm suited to, besides, Rip hates the loud noise it makes."

 

Matthias had finally finished addressing all topics at hand and used the opportunity to break the conversation at least for the moment lest either of them become more exhausted. "Let me get us some water," and without waiting for an answer he stood, simultaneously waving his hand across the table, causing a knife to disappear under the fur bracer of his right arm.

 

"Stay," Matthias growled low at Rip as he said the word. The wolf pinned his ears back and to the side, a move that most people assumed was defiant or hostile, but that would be straight back, the slight rotation to the side changed the body-language completely from aggression to submission. Good, he seemed like he would stay put for the moment.

 

Matthias signaled the bartender as he walked over and was quickly on his way out the door with three metal bowls. A moment later he returned, handing the bowls of heaping snow to the bartender who placed the before the fire for a minute before handing them back to Matthias, now filled with drinkable water. Matthias returned to the table and sat down, setting one bowl before Rip and one before Indigo. Even though he had broke off the conversation, he did feel like sharing something about Rip to help Indigo understand their relationship, at least from the wolf's perspective.

 

"He's thirsty," Matthias smiled, holding his bowl as Rip stared at him, not yet having made a move to drink out of the bowl Matthias had offered him. "But he won't drink until I do," Matthias shrugged, "I couldn't even make him if I tried. It's just in his blood that he won't eat or drink with me unless I do first." Matthias took a slow sip from his water and put it down, allowing the icy liquid to twist down his throat. As soon as the bowl was set down, Rip immediately began lapping at his own water, glancing up at Matthias on occasion as he finished the whole thing.

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He smiled slightly, and a hesitation came into her natural routine of movement, as her breathing faltered slightly. Was she coming across bored or something? Her eyes were now kept firmly on the gun, flickering every so often to his hands in the fear that he might try and grab it and run. Although she trusted him not to hurt herm, she could never be sure, never trust. The lump of scrapped metal and wire before her was the result of years of hard slavery and long hours to create it this far.

 

He wasn't knowledegable about mechanics. Dissapointment filled her, as this was the one subject she could talk openly and comfortably account. She enjoyed talking to him, and part of her wanted to continue, yet...what else did she have? Tramping through snow was commonplace, yet all she had.

 

"Aha." She murmered, considering what he'd said. "If it breaks, I will flee." She'd always been on the defensive side, and her lack of physical strength made it clear that she would win few -and she'd never been one to pick of the weak. "Though I mainly use it for hunting. Not many muggers nearer to San Francisco."

 

He was walking now... was he just leaving without another word? The wolf had stayed, and she doubted he would leave Rip, as they seemed close, but her hand still tightened over the handle of her gun. Reliving the conversation, she remembered his previous remark about water, and relinquished her hold, looking slightly apologetically at the wolf.

 

He was returning now....with water. "Thanks." she half whispered, raising the bowl to her lip. The cool water was usual for her, yet the chill spread through her bones and she shivered slightly, the contrast between the warm room coming into account.

 

"You have a loyal friend." They seemed close, and Indigo found that sweet - in a way. Their relationship was unusual, but they seemed closer than some family members she'd seen. "Do you always provide for him, or does he hunt for himself?"

 

 

 

 

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"Some people take animals as pets, treat them like family, but they never live the life they would have in their natural state. Others take them and use them for work, they treat them like tools, and use them until they aren't useful anymore." Matthias explained. He didn't take a stand on animal abuse, it wasn't abuse to use them for what they were naturally good at, but he did advocate treating them very well, it was only fair. A hunter cleaned his weapon and kept it in perfect condition as often as possible because it was a tool he cared for. Likewise a good owner took care of his hunting dog as if it was just as important as his own weapon of choice. "I took Rip from his family and his home, quite literally. I do not regret that and he was far too young to hold it against me. But I feel that I'm obligated to treat him like family and give him an approximation of what his life would have been." Matthias shrugged, "I share in his life and he shares in mine. I had to learn a lot about his personality and habits, and especially how he communicates. I didn't choose to change his language through training, but I adapted my own to suit his natural understanding. Many think I'm cruel to him at a glance because they don't understand his language, but I think he prefers it this way, I didn't want to take the wild out of him when I took him out of the wild."

 

Matthias considered her question, "We provide for one another." He said slowly. "I let him hunt when I'm in camp, tanning hides or treating leather. He brings back small game. He never eats it, he brings it back and it has to be that way. Once per year we have a disagreement and he tries to kill me, its an instinct that most would try to beat out of a wolf. I can tell such a day is coming if I catch him eating his prey without offering them to me first or asking my permission." Matthias tilted his chin back, revealing a noticeably long scar across his throat. "He almost killed me last Spring, it's usually spring when it happens. I slipped on the ice and before I knew it he was on me. There are always signs, though, I knew it would be coming soon."

 

Matthias was silent for a moment, trying to decide how much to share, how much would make him seem that much more odd. Still, this woman hadn't taken that view of him just yet, at least not enough to stop talking to him.

 

"You might think it's foolish to let him keep up a habit like that. And I suppose it is in many ways. But before you think me a fool, you need to understand why I let it happen." Matthias folded his hands in his lap. "He chooses to fight me because we're both males and dominance isn't something that is forced, it's hard won, at least in a wolf pack. If I want him to be totally loyal to me beyond question and never have to watch my back when he is around, all I have to do is win that battle. His instincts are such that he will follow me as if I were his Alpha and he my pack. If I were to ever lose, and still survive, he would never be loyal to me again and I would probably never see him again." Matthias shrugged, "I've chosen to meet him on his terms. If I were to beat the habit out of him or train it out, it would stunt his instincts, it would make him less loyal than he is now, he wouldn't hunt with me as well, and our bond would be far different and less predictable. As it is I can rely on him completely to be loyal except once a year, and as long as I'm prepared it's usually not as terrible an event as you may imagine. I don't have to hurt him after all, I just have to get him in a choke hold until he's nearly passed out, then bite and ear or even not sometimes and he submits, I win, and we go on as if nothing ever happened."

 

Matthias shrugged, "Even if I could train it out of him, there's no guarantee the behavior wouldn't resurface, and then I wouldn't be prepared for it." Matthias' eyes turned back to Indigo. "I'm curious, what do you think of that?"

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((Sorry for the lack of content :l ))

 

"Being set in your ways may be the philosophy of the wolf pack, but if you apply it the modern day..." Trailing off, Indigo gave a moment of silence as she considered the possibilities of her next words. "So if the world changed today, became easier to survive in, how many would have nothing to live for? While being set in your ways can create a reliable routine, it makes you predictable and reduces the speed of your reactions to change. Without the overwhelming need for survival...how many would give in to greed?"

 

Looking downwards now, she stared at the bowl of water before her, absentmindedly stirring it with one finger. Realising her mistake, she looked back upwards, concentrating on the man's brow to give the appearance of looking into his eyes.

 

"At least Rip's unreliability is honest, and can be predicted. With human companions, they could blink and leave you in a second, or decide to split paths just because of a contrast. " Slightly agape at his scar, her eyes drifted back to the wolf, wondering slightly how powerful he could be. Part of her longed to see him in action, while the other part feared the consequences of that.

 

"I guess it would work better this way. You allow him to keep his nature and the essence of who he is, while still commanding his loyalty. If you beat him he would attack you, and if you choose this dominance method...he will still attack you. I guess this way you get more benefits." Amused by his last comment, she gave a slight smile. "You should always be prepared. Journeys can take you unexpected places in the blink of an eye."

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(( Aye, still alive... or at least, I'd hope. Haven't responded recently because of midterms, but I fully plan to tomorrow. ))

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things always slow down over break, especially holidays and this being finals for most.

 

It picks up again in January.

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((That is good to hear. I sent my character sheet via. PM to Arctic. Cannot wait to role-play with everyone here. :3 ))

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(( Alright! First and foremost, I apologize for my absence. I've been busy with midterms and managing my own community and haven't found an ample place to budge in to the RP. I've been constructive, however, and I've been brainstorming. All of my thinking has left me with the conclusion that while the World of Ash is harsh, there are a lot of dangers that I failed to account for.

 

Radiation: There would still be radiation, and while I did make brief mention of it in the introductory post, I never elaborated on how much of a danger it could be. With the intense weather of the new world, you would have fallout and radiation being blown with the wind across the landscape. While in many scenarios the radiation wouldn't be enough to worry about (unless exposure was unreasonably extended), it would lead to the pollution of groundwater and occasionally fall with the snow. There would be some areas of particularly volatile toxicity that would require equipment to get through. Such locations would usually be scrapyards and certain areas in The Metro.

 

Mutation: Sticking to realism is more comfortable for me, but I think that if I loosened the chain I've put on mutation a little bit there could be some pretty cool, pretty dangerous creatures that come up out of it.

 

The Metro: It's dark, extensive and warm(er). Tying in with the point above, it would be a wonderful place to find various dangerous creatures. It would also be home to various small human settlements, though nothing major. Such settlements would rarely come under attack. Tying in with the point below, The Metro is the only reliable way to travel around San Francisco.

 

San Francisco: Over the years, infrastructure would have began to fail. That's something I failed to take in to account. Certain sewer systems would've collapsed inward, entire streets caving in. Additionally, with California being a geologically active area, the Yellowstone eruption would have triggered some rather serious quakes in the area, which would have further messed with infrastructure. In addition to that, I was spending too much time comparing San Francisco to New York. I should've been thinking of it as its own entity.

  • San Francisco is bordered by what is known as "The Wall". When the nukes hit, there was some serious construction work going on all around the edge of the city as it expanded outwards, leaving a lot of vehicles clogging up the "arteries", as you could call it. After that, this dense area would've become a logical place to build up defensive walls, which would have been comprised of military and police barricades at first, then later would have corrugated metal and spikes put on. This leads to the city being sealed off by large palisades with only few inopportune entrances in. San Francisco is closed off, with only a couple entrances in and out (barring The Metro).
  • Even the Blood Pack, with their naval advantage, rarely goes in to the city due to how much it's fallen apart. With the growth of the megalopolis, the city would have had to start terracing itself - that is, build in layers. Roadways would have existed above roadways, and there would have been foot bridges built between buildings. Some larger buildings would have featured parks and shopping centers inside them about midway up. There would also be one or two collapsed skyscrapers that further clogged up the surface roads, leading to them being almost impossible to transverse effectively. The city is a maze and prewar maps only marginally help you to move around.
  • Due to the above points, Redwood City and other border towns would be the primary location for high-risk scavengers, while the suburbs and shopping centers near the outside are where the majority of them could be found rooting around.
  • Due to the closed off nature of the city, myths about what lays within would be prominent. Very few would have actually been inside in any great capacity.
  • The supposed ball of fire landed inside the city, so in your course of action, make note of that.
  • The Blood Pack has presence along the coastline of San Francisco bay in Redwood City. Various encampments can be found in the area. They also have outposts in other places - point is, they're not a small group that's isolate to Alcatraz.
  • As always, I'm seeking suggestions and pointers. Help me shape the world.
I'll get around to editing the main post sometime soon. In the mean time, waitin' on Packgoater and Emeraldmay.

 

I'll either edit this post with my IC stuffs tomorrow, or I'll create a new one if someone's replied by then. Cheers, sorry for my absence. ))

Edited by Arctic

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