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#1
Irajah Ven

Irajah Ven

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New City

Maena

 

 

 

Rain on Maena was rare. But storms, high in the atmosphere occasionally tore through the desiccated landscape. Rather than offer the soothing patter of raindrops, however, they raged. Winds rattled the windows, lightening and thunder growling in their turn, one chasing the other across the sky in flashed of white and purple after glow. These storms shook mountains, filling the air with the tang of ozone and fear. Despite the lateness of the hour, few people slept easily with the fangs of the high winds gnawing at their door. 

 

One person, at least, was neither perturbed nor impressed by the howling.

 

She sat on the piano bench. Slender fingers splayed over the keys of a truly grand instrument. Black wood shone, gleaming even in the low light. Woodwork, done by some unknown soul lovingly by hand, scrolled, entwining with silver and opal filigree that caught even the faintest reflection of warmth in the room. 

 

Irajah ran her fingers lightly across the ivory, but did not push. Did not bring a sound from the instrument beneath her hands. Dark hair, once short and cut at her chin, now hung in long, unbound waves down to the middle of her back, and she simply didn't care enough to cut it again. It hardly seemed worth the effort. The white night gown, a gift- she hadn't even bothered to pull a robe over when she'd finally given up on sleep. Feet were bare against the cool wood of the floor. Nothing more offensive than goosebumps rose on her bare arms, flesh through and through with no trace of a lifetime of pain. 

 

Slowly, hesitantly, her thumb pressed down, followed by index finger and ring, drawing a minor chord from the piano. But then her hand stilled again, and she frowned. 

 

You'll find the joy again, Carach had murmured to her. Keep trying

 

She remembered how to play. Dozens of songs without white dappled sheets of paper. Hundreds more with the aid of the music in front of her. Happy songs and sad ones, it didn't matter. Even when she was melancholy, that music filled her and made her whole again. She remembered all of those things. 

 

What she didn't remember, was the point

 

Hazel eyes stared at sheet music in a room to dark to read in, trying to recall. And failing.

 

Again, her fingers pressed, drawing notes, one by one, into the darkness. 

 

 

| Reverance |


Edited by Irajah Ven, 02 August 2017 - 09:41 PM.

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#2
Reverance

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Despair hung still in the air. Once a prosperous planet, Maena found motely culture where from the glass panes of ivory towers, the slums could be seen in all their evident squalor. Shanty towns and ad hoc construction, hardly capable of withstanding the torrential storms that cascaded across the igneous and obsidian formations, trembled at the threat of upwelling. He stood, pensive and quiet in contemplation, as his gaze shifted over the thoroughfare. With a step back and a shift upwards, he was given ample view of the way things worked.

 

It wasn’t exactly the cacophony that he anticipated. There was no sudden crescendo into a tirade, no wave like formation of people – holding their worldly possessions and all necessary goods. No, instead it was the trickle of a slow disease, the unfortunate and weak slowly moving their way into higher levels. Finding protection beneath the shroud of a dormant volcano, New City became a popular place. He contemplated his views, his opinions on the weak and just how needless they truly were. But finding himself tethered and attracted to broken things, he found a hidden crux in his philosophy. A divot, a point that would make perfect target for shatterpoint, that he decided didn’t need further consideration.

 

Across a rust colored sky, Prussian strips arced and sprawled through crevices of beige. Lavished with edges of cerise and cerulean, the world lit up with claps of electric energy that connected and resounded with unusual shifts in pressure. The quiet that preceded the storm was long gone, replaced instead by an open threat. Shuddering and silence moved through the various groups as they were left open to the rain and lightning, finding what protection they could through cover of span bridges and vendor shop overhangs.

 

The deluge began not shortly after, trampling rock and duracrete with deafening pitter patter. It was enough to blind pedestrian movement, reducing sight to just mere feet. Finding shelter within a lift, Reverance dropped the drenched hood of his coat and clicked the button. Closing with a ping, the engines fired on a raced towards the top. To where he might find her.

 

But when he arrived, it wasn’t her presence that welcomed him. It was something else, something familiar yet muted. The bark of a dog with the cords snipped clean, though pregnant with all the same characteristics. Stepping into the tower, he lowered the dripping onyx hood as he found empty silence. Except for the occasional chirp of noise, delicate and haunting. Calling.

 

Stepping through one hallway and then another, he found the room from which it originated. And the presence. And the hint of her silhouette in the dark. Looking to his left, he spotted a glass pane that led to personal balcony access. Walking over, he shifted the blinds, flooding a narrow strip of the room in the pale and piercing light of greyscale, ever modified with the blurry scar of lightning across the sky. In the beam, she sat at the piano. Gown of white, hair of raven black, and pale skin unmarred by bruises or the hint of scars. Vision turned to a narrow slit, confused by what he was seeing. The difference, her presence, the whole circumstance.

 

He felt her aura diminish, even from afar on that fated day. He could almost see it, the way blood pooled out like wings behind her. That she might take flight, never to be seen again. And maybe that was the truth…maybe that was what had actually occurred. Maybe what sat before him was something else entirely. It wasn’t the first time he had seen death, undone. Her assailant, in fact, had been known to partake in the kiss of death on occasion. Reverance, himself, had even known the field of blades in transition to the netherworld. But for the time they had known one another, he didn’t get the impression that she had such powers. Had he fallen victim to the same tendencies of everyone else, so quick to underestimate her? Even the connection to the darkside was far more pronounced now.

 

You are not done here…yet?” He stated it slowly, as if questioning the statement. The room was filled with somber tones and melancholy, rising from defeat only to give off the passing notions of still being defeated. Was this still the woman that had stitched him up, only to press her fingers across the wound in curiosity of his pain? Was this the woman who had caught his eye for an implied eternity? “I felt it, even on Maena. I felt your departure.


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#3
Irajah Ven

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On the other side of the ice, she waited quietly, fingers picking out note by note, key by key, but not truly creating anything in the air around her. Just a series of sounds that she hoped would spark *something* in her, a desire for the music maybe. An emotion evocative of minor chords. Something to bring both hands to the keys. 

 

But nothing came. 

 

She remembered feeling hopeful there, in Carach's arms. For a little while there had been warmth beneath the ice. True to her word, she had not asked him for more than he could offer- she had not asked him to stay. But it meant a return to that distance from everything around her- and once again not particularly caring if that changed or not. 

 

And yet she kept trying. Here, now, with the piano. 

 

She felt him long before he spoke, before he entered the room and let in a sliver of the storm light from outside. He hadn't changed, after all. 

 

Her hand stilled when he added voice to tone, letting the note that fell just before echo in the large room. 

 

"I didn't realize you had," she said softly, her tone even. She didn't move from her spot on the bench, didn't look back at him. "I would apologize, but it was out of my hands. That was... that was not how it was meant to happen."

 

The words came easily. Not because they were easy to say, but because there was no bite to them, no emotion that clung to them. 

 

"It was supposed to be a simple transfer. One that would burn up Gideon and give me this." She turned her hands over thoughtfully. 

 

"Instead someone I once called friend slit my throat."

 

She hadn't explained to him, just what had been intended. It hadn't seemed particularly important at the time. In truth, it didn't seem particularly important now. But here it was.

 

"Seems I wasn't done making mistakes in those I trusted."

 

Irajah turned to him then, turning slightly on the bench to look up at him. Where her face had been an open book before, now it was blank pages. There was recognition of course in those eyes, but the laughter, the teasing, even the vexation that he'd seen were nowhere in evidence. 

 

"I know that I was only gone a short time for everyone else," she said after a long moment. "But I'm still surprised, every time I look at someone I knew and realize they look exactly the same as they did. Apparently knowing does not change the experience of lifetimes."

 

Reverance


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#4
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"In or out of your hands, you shouldn't apologize..." He stood motionless as she explained her circumstance, the vague details of a ship that had gone off kilter. The way she explained, that defiance and strength he had seen on the balcony and in the clubs and in the belly of this very tower, something felt different. He hesitated on the notions that it was wrong, he didn't know her well enough to confidently pinpoint when something was misaligned.

 

But he was given a snapshot of her image, still in time, and now what sat before him felt faded. "Plans we make often don't proceed as we intend...particularly when we place trust in those who aren't worthy." And maybe that wasn't what she wanted to hear but in truth, he didn't get the immediate impression that she wanted anything. She had made some friends who were the wrong sort. Matsu. Aver. Carach. Reverance. These were the monsters that the Alliance told stories to children about, to scare them at night. But they were loyal, the same couldn't be said of all who trended towards the dark.

 

He coiled fingers around his mouth as he exhaled loudly, feeling a weight lifted only to feel the pressure of something else entirely. Perhaps should couldn't feel it or couldn't grasp it, but the melancholy in knowing that this was the alternative to her other fate - it was profound. Ringing his hands together, he eyed the piano before approaching slowly. Spotting a vanity near by, he removed the overcoat. What he was wearing wasn't much different from the night they spent together. Black pants, white button up shirt, buttoned cuffs, and hair slick from the rain. Finding a hand towel on the vanity, he wiped his hands before sitting down next to Raj. Straddling the bench, he faced her with hands laying loosely against the glossy obsidian between them.

 

His eye fell upon pale skin, long hair, the absence of the abuse she wore so proudly. For her trip through death, it seemed she had consumed all of that, and it had festered and taken a toll. "The netherworld and chaos...time flows differently in those places. Standing in the field of blades, fighting for hours, I escaped only to realize that mere seconds had passed. But I hadn't died..." He moved to brush hair from her shoulder, maybe to convince himself that she was actually there. And she was. But was she? "I can only imagine the hell you went through to claw your way back. What sacrifices were required..." He didn't know what Gideon was but he could deduce. And what felt most important about it was that it was no longer a concern.

 

Gingerly pulling his knee up over the bench, he scooted forward as he looked over the piano. His hands hesitated as he hovered over the keys. Pausing, eye drifted from the black keys to the white, and then to the music that sat in antiquated parchment across the rack. Retracting his hands, he took in another sharp breath, turning to look towards her.  Lifting his left hand to his mouth, hand curled into a loose fist, vermilion view fell on her. "I'm glad I felt your departure. It revealed something about myself that I wasn't sure was true. And I don't know the details of how you got back...but I'm glad for those as well."

 

Irajah Ven



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#5
Irajah Ven

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She didn't make a move until he settled there, straddling the bench. She watched him out of the corner of her eye, the realization that looking at him hurt coiling slowly through her. Because he looked exactly the same. For him, almost no time had passed at all. With that realization came the turning of her head, no side glance, but letting that ache of recognition wash through her because it was better than feeling nothing. It curled in the pit of her stomach, heavy and solid enough to wrap hands around if she wanted to. 

 

Only his expression was new, and she could see it more clearly full on. He had searched her face before, time and again the night they'd spent together. But this was different. He wasn't trying to find an answer to a question. Now he was looking for the question itself. 

 

And she didn't know if she had it to offer him. 

 

She watched him, her gaze flickering to his hand as it reached out, following it's movement. She didn't flinch or move away when he brushed against her shoulder, but neither did she lean into the movement like he might have expected after the last time they were together. She just watched, impassively- remembering but not being able to draw it beyond the still images of a holodrama on a screen. 

 

"I did not see a field of blades," she said quietly. "Deserts. Canyons. A creature that was also a mountain.... And I did not know that you had gone.... but then, there's a lot I don't know about you." 

 

It fit though. Like a puzzle piece she didn't know had eve been missing. There was still that hint of the curious when she looked at him, but it lacked the pressing hunger, the need to know. 

 

I can only imagine.... what sacrifices were required.... I don't know the details of how you came back.....

 

It reveled something about myself that I wasn't sure was true....

 

These combination of statements brought questions. And it satisfied her to find that she cared enough to ask them. But both took a momentary pause when she saw the way his fingers flexed. The almost touch of hands to keys. The slight bend in each digit that spoke not of mimic but of skill that she knew all too well. 

 

"You play."

 

It wasn't a question. 

 

"Would you? ..... please?"

 

Reverance

 

 


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#6
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"The field of blades is not for..." He stopped, shaking his head, as he smiled. "It is for people like me. Though many would not know of my time there. I am not often forthright in such regard." He looked towards the keys, seemingly haunted by their presence. The way they stood motionless, bright white and without persistent use, the chilling stillness of the air that sunk into the black hues of sharp and flat. Even as she had pecked away at the quietude of the inner tower, nothing felt resolved. "I'm not sure why exactly I told you about it." It was a confession to her as much as it was a realization as to the difference she imparted. He was not normally like this. 

 

And yet, he felt no desire to hide it. He felt no sudden need to stand above planets, burning in the backdrop of his anger and pain, with the civilizations turning over into the ash and cinder of his endeavors. In every way that the room stood quiet for them, he took pause to appreciate it. Even in the presence of a colder reception - the warm touches of a night passed, suddenly replaced with distant glances and indifferent caress.

 

"I don't play...not anymore. But I did, many lifetimes ago." It was a passion of Gabe's, when they were very young. His mother had instructed him in the instrument, teaching him of coordination and tones and tying it back to a philosophy that related to combat. It was an eccentric point of view, one not shared with the Kiffar, the Jedi Council, or his father. But there was a time, before being abandoned, that he loved his mother. And that love developed into a cancer that rose in his fathers chest, resentment for a lover that had left. A child then served as reminder for wounded heart. 

 

Closing his eye at the request, he breathed in as held his hands over the keys. And then flesh pressed against gloss, pushed in as single notes cut through the air. While his left hand was precise, his right touched on dual notes and was clumsy. If he stopped and took it all in, he could still feel the pain of this practice. The way his father would flay the surface of his fingers to expose the sensitive tissue below. The way he forced a child to play the same hopeful songs, over and over again, until the keys were coated in red. He recalled the way it appeared, the way he thought that it might have just been a dream, that it couldn't be his blood. That was just water stains on the keys, poor keeping and maintenance. But those were the hopes of Gabriel, a boy who still clung to a mothers love, while Reverance lurked within the shine of those black keys - aware of the truth.

 

His hands floated away from the keys, drifting towards the rack. He turned. He turned again. And again. Clenching his jaw, he sat back down and looked onward. The keys came to life beneath his fingers. They spoke things that not even Aver had known, nor Matsu. It was a softer secret, the sort that never felt worth telling.

 

 

Irajah Ven



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#7
Irajah Ven

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"The field of blades is not for..."

 

He was going to say 'someone like you,' but she accepted the change without comment because it was done as something resembling a kindness. It was also impossible to take offense to a truth such as that. There was no comparison between Irajah and Rev, and as far as she was concerned, there never could be. There was no discomfort in that. One could not compare a butterfly and a leviathan. These two were nothing alike. 

 

Except, of course, for when they were.

 

"You don't always need a reason," she murmured softly, "to tell someone something."

 

Even before, Irajah had no room in her life for lies and secrets. When kept because there simply hadn't been the time or opportunity, well, she forgave those because she understood them. But the discovery in the last two years that everything she had thought she'd known, about her parents, about her family was built on withholding. And how everything after that had drawn the line deeper and deeper between what being closed meant compared to the open

 

And now? When lies and deceit had left her with her throat slit, eyes glass on the floor of Blackwater Reach? 

 

Holding something in reserve, to protect a heart, a soul, a moment- she could forgive and understand. 

 

But she had no room left for lies

 

The appreciation for his response, the words, offering without evasion, was a tiny flicker of warmth. He did not need to explain deeper, the fact of sharing enough. But he had opened a window and allowed in a line of sunlight and she settled beneath it without full consciousness. 

 

Her eyes closed, half lidded and not truly seeing anything despite slits of hazel, as his fingers moved across the keys. Rusted, stumbling with the hand that had no muscle memory for this sort of thing, yes, but overlaid on a foundation of something formed initially from joy. From a place seeking approval. It was a place she knew so well, because that was where hers had come from as well. 

 

But there it veered off from her experiences, and she could no longer follow. Rather than tracing his memories as he had done hers, she stopped there, the thread of that history bitten off as surely as that suture had been. She could take that leap across the chasm and see what happened to it, where the thread split and frayed. 

 

If this had been that night not long ago, she probably would have. 

 

"See? You do play," was all she murmured instead. 

 

Tentatively, her own hands reached out, laying on the keys in the upper registers while his brought that piece to completion. Overlaying the last three chords in a harmony not on the page, she segued into something different with a practice born of a lifetime of joint play on this instrument. 

 

 

Until her father had died, the pair had played almost every day. Especially after her mother's death it was a ritual that could not be put aside by the stresses of the day. It was where they forgave each other for the inevitable sharpness of a family brought from three to two, from the stressors of teenage years and the friction that inevitably came with them. It was where they comforted each other in grief, and offered support in joy. There was a melancholy to that, knowing now what she knew. But it did not negate the happiness of those memories for her, merely muted it-

 

Or it had. Now they felt hollow, something hard and jagged tumbling around inside of them like a loose screw in a cup. But that wasn't a product of the remembering. That was a product of the vessel for the memories. 

 

As if no time had passed- because truly, had it? Two songs and a secret, no time at all really-

 

"What did it reveal about you? Seeing."


Edited by Irajah Ven, 05 August 2017 - 08:23 PM.

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#8
Reverance

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Sometimes you don’t need a reason…and sometimes that is all you need.” He gave her his full attention as the song came to the melancholy and subdued ending. The notions of a steady rainfall, of the mourning of loss, and the isolation of abandonment, it all transitioned into something far removed. Suddenly his mind and thoughts were filled with the alien notions of hope, to the ideas of a steady and slow genesis, and the gradual change of one’s life. Where the song he played was saturated in the chilled tones of harsh realization, this was warm and promising. Zephyr, high tones that required her reaching across him, with the steady bass of her left hand that anchored her to the instrument.

 

His own left hand braced against the bench behind her, following the keys from her memory with a once-trained eye as his chin rested lightly on her right shoulder. “It revealed to me that your pain wasn’t what I really cared about…” It felt like a confession, something that seemed entirely at odds with his persona. Perched upon a tower of his own creations, built in the image of a God that he worshipped, only to realize that perhaps he wasn’t the zealot he had always been – that pain wasn’t the only road he could travel. That in the foiled comparison to his brother, he had created himself in an image that didn’t always fit.

 

As the song was coming to its end, he leaned forward and wove his left hand into her arena, hovering above the keys that were currently being unused. Glancing towards the music rack, the pages fluttered to another page that he passed initially. Yet, he didn’t begin playing at the completion of her song. She had once asked him if he danced. He wondered if their time together would be the last of such offering, the last time she would float through the rhythm of dance with such expression of weightlessness.

 

 

And like a rusted rod, smacked against stone, the chips of corrosion fell away to reveal precision. Hands moving effortlessly between keys of black and white, taking on the economy of the space between them and in front of them. Fingers moved with open invite for her to join him, to add the soft and warmth of tone to his harsh and jagged melody.

 

Will you play with me…?” The tempo slowed right out of the door, content by the reduction, by the potential for dual ownership of the sound. He looked over to her, as if he could have played it without the pictures of chords and notes, as if it was logged entirely in memory. More than just the sound of her playing, he wanted to feel the vibration of their movement in tandem. Ad hoc orchestration, sounds sharp and flat, cutting through the chaos of the silence and ambient hum of storms outside.

 

Irajah Ven



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#9
Irajah Ven

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Even if she did not welcome him into her space with the open arms and upturned face he'd experienced before, he'd find that there was room for him there. A mental space where, for whatever reason, she had left unchanged and molded to the shape of him. It opened in the curve of her shoulder beneath his chin, the subtle, almost subconscious shift to accommodate his arm sliding beneath hers to find the keys. 

 

Her gaze flickered up to the sheet music as it turned, eyes settling on the piece he chose next. One that could be played alone, but lent well to four hands.

 

"If you wish."

 

Not merely with words, instead by keeping hands on the keys she offered something beyond the indifference in her tone. She watched his for a moment, letting him lead that intro before adding hers to the registers. She did not know this piece as well, her eyes returning to and remaining on the sheet music as they played. 

 

If not the pain, then what, she wanted to ask.

 

Seeking. She could let it lie. Perhaps ought to. It was less a question and more a weight, something that he could put down, unanswered if he wished, and she would not hold it against him. 

 

But it came without bidding, the words thought without intention or introspection because they came from someplace deeper than either of those two. It came from the place that had traced the scars across his skin, looking for stories in the braille of his flesh. From where she had watched him kill because it was a thing she had never seen before. Beneath the distance and ice there was enough of the person he knew to ask

 

She didn't yet. There was a balance. A give and take, and he had answered one of her questions. So she held that one for now. And he had given her something, in the music, even if she could not fully grasp it yet. Alone, she would have sat on that bench until dawn found her, fingers offering nothing more than a stay note drawn into the silence here and there. But instead, the music moved around them, between them, weighing in the not unpleasant heaviness of a lover's body.

 

I can only imagine.... what sacrifices were required.... I don't know the details of how you came back.....

 

"Do..... you want..... to not imagine it?"

 

Nearing the end of the piece, she did not chose the next. Instead the page turned to whatever followed, letting whatever ghost had initially laid out the sheet music choose from the reach of the past. 

 


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#10
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The playing was something that reflected casual improvement, refinement through the process. Like old lovers, awkwardly finding the rhythm of a time long passed, coiling and intertwining until the puzzle faces matched. Fingers moved across the keys in steady progression, the timing improving with the reading and interpretation of tone. Her words spoke of his request, desire entirely his, but her fingers told of masked needs, shielded behind something that he viewed from afar. Something tantamount to the shift in her perspective, to the transition between then and now. A fated day that changed her forever and as they played, he realized just how alien the sensation was. To be removed when everything else was once so readily available, it felt surreal.

 

Crimson view watched, transitioning from her fingers to his and then back to her expression. Searching for something, for flashes of the emotion and passion he knew in the night that they spent together, he continued until the final chords of the waltz had arrived. But before he could answer her question, the pages fluttered to the next song.

 

Where she was content to take the lows, and he the highs, the crescendo of the notes and tempo required more coordination. As his right hand hovered on the right side, grazing the white keys and notes, hers moved over to brace atop his. Fingers extended out, pressed firmly against the flats and sharps, as they moved through the song that neither knew. But in learning the music together, they might learn something of each other in the spaces between.

 

The song progressed as they sat shoulder to shoulder, his attention split between the notes and her. Her question riddled his mind, asking him what he wanted. He wanted everything, from her and from the world. He wanted every inch of the details that sent her into this spiraling abyss of colorless indifference, snaked beneath the aura of new found health and unblemished skin. He wanted to know of her sacrifices and if he could relate, or if it was like the experiences of Matsu – so far removed from his imagination that he couldn’t began to pretend to understand. Without knowing anything else, it felt like something worth being a part of. Particularly so, given its ability to diminish an otherwise fiercely burning flame, leaving nothing but defeated embers and hardened ice in the wake.

 

As the ending of the song arrived, he retracted his hands from the keys. As she did the same, the silence moved in like a haunting presence, superficially eroding what connection they had formed. But it was still there, ever present and ever reminding, even when masked by the sudden remembrance of rain and thunder.  

 

Of course…” He looked over to her, recalling the way she had once offered him pain. Offered memories in runes that were gone, in scars that were healed. His was a countenance painted in ephemeral understanding, ignorant of the depth of what she hinted “…But it isn’t something I can take. I won’t.” The words slipped from his lips in odd realization of the meaning. Why couldn’t he take it?

 

Lifting his hand lazily in front of her, he showed the scar he earned from their adventure. But more than that, he offered his mind and his desire – for her to tap into as she saw fit. “I want you to share it with me.

 

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#11
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"Even if you wanted to take it, I wouldn't let you."

 

She had offered up her pain freely, not merely to share that experience, but to be free of it, even if only for that single night. This was something else, something entirely different. This was a crucible that she had found her way back out of, stripped of what could not survive the flames. Without the memories, without the sensations of that, then there was no framework, no context to herself

 

These experiences were not for sale at any price. And she was not generous enough to offer them wrapped and be-bowed, gifted with open hands. 

 

But she could show him, before returning them carefully to their shelf. 

 

Hazel eyes drifted from the piano finally- first to his hand and the scar there, then slowly up to his face, tilting her head slightly at the searching in his crimson gaze. She shifted on the bench, drawing her right knee up to settle there flat and turning to face him. Reaching out, she hesitated when her fingertips reached his palm, but only for a moment before sliding hers between his, lacing fingers and pressing palm to palm. 

 

She couldn't show him what it looked like from the outside. He would have to dip into her for that, to see it that way. In the openness, what he received instead was the experience as she had seen it.

 

Sand. Endless and sucking, drawing and weighted. Scouring flesh to the bone. A lifetime trudging against hot and flaying winds.

 

Black sun, red dunes.

Grasping hands and

 

sinking

 

Choking, suffocating, hot sands turning cold. Heavy, pressing breath from hourglass lungs that refused to shatter.

Drowning over and over and over again in gelid sand.

 

 Canyon, razor edged catwalks over hungry abyss. Balanced and moving. Always moving

 

Forward.

 

Burning shadows and familiar voices.

 

A mountain of blades. 

A litany of sins, climbed past without a second glance. A lifetime on that mountain.

 

​Golden eyes in pale face

 

 

TEAR.

RIP.

GNAW.

 

SUNDER

 

​A piece left behind, chewed off and bleeding. Abandoned. 

 

To keep climbing. 

 

 

Reverance

 


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#12
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He smiled at her response, offering a simple retort. "Good."

 

Just as her fingers curled around his, palm meeting palm, he was hit with the sudden coolness of the world around them. Warmth, blood flow from use, poured across in the contact. But that recognition was snuffed out in a sudden wave of discomfort, mind filled with endless expanses of sand. Warm to hot, soft to coarse, soothing to restricting, blasted across the skin to wear down flesh and bone. Feet moved and sunk in every stride, an endless nightmare, afflicted with the hopelessness of a mind that couldn't progress. He knew this terror, he had seen it in the belly of Dromund Kaas while in search of the Ravager, with the eternal spider. Thousands of miles adrift, spanning as far as the eye could see, with forests composed of people turned to stone - hands gripping and clawing and pulling him under, under the canopy of flesh and agony. It was only through active destruction, a mind awoken from the hypnosis, was he able to break free. Yet, it wasn't so for Raj. He swallowed, hard, and tasted the coarseness of grains as they went down.

 

He felt the narrow passage as eyes drifted about, catching glimpses of specters across a sharpened mountainside. Familiar callings helped anchor him to the pass, razorblades offered for poor footing, as he failed to register the oddity of shifting from sands to mountains.

 

Come...there is much to show you...

 

His hand, somewhere between then and there, had tightened around her fingers. Enough to indicate investment in the experience, that even though he knew this to be her memory, he was inclined to suspend his disbelief. To lumber, in these few moments, through the events that had gutted her. And as he accepted that, he felt not her soft skin, but the jagged and sharp outcroppings of stone and flimsy roots. His legs felt tired, pained by cuts and rips, as he looked upon eyes of blackness. He couldn't understand why, but he had expected eyes there. He had expected a deep burning red. What will they write across you eyes, Irajah Ven? The same voice that uttered the question turned to laughter, disappearing in the shadow of the mountain.

 

A man of darkened skin, jaw fractured and shifting with every word, formed for only a moment. Enough to know he was there, to know he spoke and that discourse was had, but like smoke in the wind, it was gone. And in its place, a small thing stood before him. Blue pale face, eyes of dull gold, darkened by the world around him and the spike coursing through him. Darkened by conveyance of strife and abandonment and despair, realization of inclement end. Why mom? Reverance clenched his teeth. I needed you and you sent me away. I believed in you. You can do anything. He clenched his teeth in knowing what was coming, in the only thing that could come from a mother finding out that her child had passed into the netherworld. But he hadn't expected it to progress at it had, to blinding sacrifice. Where he succumbed to this illusion, the world clouded with words and indictment. Accusations of sins committed for selfish reasons. A struggle ensued in attempting to mount the hillside, ever stifled by doubtful voice echoing harsh truths and a body that wouldn't be carried or removed. No one leaves the mountain who cannot climb off of it for themselves.

 

I love you, Boo.

 

I love you too, Mom.

 

And then it was silence. Deafening utter silence, the apex of her ascent left pieces ragged and clinging to the mountainside, fingers clenched around a still beating heart. Approaching the climb, there was stubborn resolve. And in realization of what was needed, hope fluttered about like her arms clinging to the spikes of the Shrike Mountain.

 

He opened his eye with lips tucked in, fighting the urge to gnaw, to remove any sense of loss that might cross between fingers. This is not my loss. Blinking as he looked towards the etchings on the piano, to gold embossed letters on glossy black, he lifted her hand to press lips against fingers. Letting the embrace linger, should she allow for that, his breath pressed through as he sighed. He could tell her about the time he killed his children and his wife, burning the house down around them. He could tell her that the sins she saw would pale in comparison to the atrocities that he had committed, that he would be that man upon the mountainside, never to climb again. But she wasn't looking for something to trump this experience because, for her, it simply wouldn't do. On the spectrum of evil acts, she had committed the worst thing that could be imagined. And even if he didn't know who Boo was, or why she cared, he held on the tethers of tenderness, despite himself. For in the dream, he had cared.

 

"I..." His lips moved from her knuckles, thumb wrapped around to press against the top of her hand. "You were dragged into hell and you conquered it, by any means necessary. Don't let it continue to grip you. There is no sinking sand here, no spikes upon the mountain." He looked towards the keys, towards the phantom image of hands moving across. Standing, he held on to her hand. "You still live in that place and because of that, it conquers you. Every moment, every second..." He released her hand and stepped back towards the glass balcony. "In time, you will forgive yourself these sins that saved you." His view shifted, eye glancing towards the sky through the opened blinds. Just then, a strike across the grey clouds. "It really is quite beautiful outside. Will you join me?"

 

Irajah Ven



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#13
Irajah Ven

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She watched him through it all. Everything laid out, moment by moment with the only accuracy available from a first person experience. Only when it reached Boo did the edges shift, splitting, as though seen through broken glass- because she shied away from that part, where she had left a part of her very soul behind her in order to continue that climb. 

 

In truth, with the exception of that last, Irajah would have come out of that experience little enough changed. She blinked, a wash of interest, almost curiosity, flickered over her face at him.

 

"Rev, I made peace with the 'sins' that the Netherworld tried to measure onto my shoulders," she said softly. "I reject the idea that someone outside of myself has any right, no matter how towering or terrible, to look down upon my actions and name them trespasses. They called them sins. I don't."

 

It wasn't those transgressions, made in order to find life, that separated her. But as surely as a physical body experienced shock from a grievous wound, so did damage to the spirit have similar effects. The last, the damage done in order to keep climbing, what she had willingly given up to come back, even if her mind refused to settle on it properly yet, that was where the ice stemmed from. A spiritual defense, as surely as the body shutting down into fever and shaking at the loss of a limb. 

 

She was trying. With Carach and now here. It was just so hard to try when the base desire to care was absent. 

 

She'd felt her hand against his lips, letting him move it where he wished in a pale parody of that night. But when he stepped away, there was the barest trace of pressure right before he let go. 

 

Grey lightening flashed, backlighting him for a moment. She sat in silence for a heartbeat, two then, too long for agreement it would seem. 

 

And then, slowly, she nodded. 

 

Certain people, after all, made it worth the effort.

 

The double doors opened wide onto the balcony with the barest whisper of touch. The center of the storm had not reached them yet, and the growl of thunder only reached them when they stepped out into the rain. Not far from them, halfway across the city, the heart of the storm swept a deluge of water in a grey curtain that all but erased the far side of New City from view. If they stayed out for long, it would reach them, heavy and merciless in its weight and fury. Demanding attention. Demanding surrender. But for the moment, here at least, the rain was heavy but not unforgiving. Grey clouds roiled above them, born from the ashes and heat of distant volcanoes. Warm, it soaked to the skin in minutes, plastering dark hair to faces and cloth to flesh. 

 

She would have followed him, but he paused at the door. Her step hitched slightly, then flowed forward, the feeling of his hand on the small of her back not pushing, but grounding as she stepped out into that night. Hazel eyes closed, and she stood there for a moment in the blood warm rain before stepping up to the balcony rail. Small hands slid over water slick metal, curling fingers around it without opening her eyes. 

 

Reverance


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#14
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Rev. How empty the sounds of the room had been, absent full acknowledgment of knowing one another. Fingers tracing scars across the flesh, lips pressed against bruises and runes that were now all but forgotten except for the memories. They played the piano as strangers, another series of moments of discovery. It wasn't dance clubs, it wasn't death in the strobe lights or tears among the haze. It was something entirely new, building upon images of times spent together and time spent with mutual lovers.

 

They call them sins, I don't. To that, he could only smile, knowing that he used the word for her own understanding, not his. After all, the visions pulled through her palm expressed certain tones. Regret, remorse, a feeling of wishing that certain necessities didn't need to be done. He almost forgotten that the woman who stood before him, now, was not the one in her own dreams. She shared visions of a life that she no longer felt attachment to, like watching image reels of a persons life that shared similarities in only the superficial. A doppelganger.

 

He stepped out, cautiously, behind her. The touch of the rain was immediate and instant, smacking against clothing and skin. The offset from the interior coolness of the room was apparent and vast. His shirt was soaked within a few seconds, light tones of white and reduced opacity giving way to the hint of scars and tattoos beneath. But her, there was nothing of the sort. Unblemished and perfect, no more constellations to guide him beneath the simple dress of white.

 

Running a hand through slicked hair, he pressed his weight against the railing as he looked skyward. Closing his eye, taking it all in, he listened to the thump of the heavy rain and the pulse of thunder - lightning arcing in dark blues and bright reds.

 

"What do you feel now, Raj?" Standing in this storm, standing next to him, standing so removed from the memories of the netherworld - yet so attached. His question was purposely vague, intent on drawing on the spontaneity of thought. It was difficult to think of the abstract when battered so thoroughly by stimulus. The rain, the image of her sitting next to the piano, the look of raven hair sticking to ivory skin. Reaching forward, Voxyn hand picked at a lock of her bangs, dragging it away from her temple and around her ear. 

 

Irajah Ven



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#15
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She hadn't realized she'd been cold until she suddenly wasn't any longer. 

 

"Warm."

 

It was more than simply the temperature. It was the sensation of now

 

There was something about rain. About a storm like this one. Distant fury and heat, electricity that shattered the heavens themselves and growled, pawing at the ground. But by the time it actually reached the ground, the rain was a comfortable weight instead of a burden. Above the storm would grow even more wroth, knowing the soft touch it laid instead of the razor-tipped lashing it wished to convey. This was a rain that brought growth, while the tempest wished destruction and was powerless to change the way it fell upon the sands. On a planet other than Maena, a storm such as this one would bring a germination of dormant seeds. Would usher in a thin veil of gentle verdancy over the days and weeks to come. The only solace available to the celestial hue and cry was that it fell on barren stone, gulping down the waters with a fervor that would not be sated, nor would be fed into the growth of something more. 

 

She hadn't even noticed the thick strand of hair in her face until he reached out. Her face tilted up into the deluge, eyes closed, she barely registered her own movement in return- cheek turning against blackened hand- ​until she was already facing him again and she blinked owlishly, water hanging thick on lashes and trying to weight them down. She reached up herself then, rubbing the rain out of her eyes. 

 

Gaze tracked up his arm, across shoulder and down chest, for a moment remembering. Fingers tracing, mouth tasting, nails catching, lips smiling. 

 

"If not the pain...." she said slowly, the barest frown on her lips. "Then what?"

 

Back to the remaining unanswered question that lurked there. 

 

"Why are you here Reverance?"


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#16
Reverance

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He matched her gaze, expression turned towards the palm of his hand. As if it was the first time she had felt, reached within and pulled the passion from the single event of rain. Or from the erosion of key notes against some impenetrable wall, fortified upon Shrike Mountain, and given life with resurrection. Where sounds echoed through an empty room, he wondered why the deluge would be enough to see things come to life behind those hazel eyes.

 

If not the pain...then what?

 

He blinked steadily.

 

Why are you here, Reverance?

 

His focus shifted from her to the balcony, his hand grabbing slick metal as the drops came harder and harder. His visage didn't change, even as his crimson view shifted up towards the grey sky. Towards the sulphur clouds and streak of phosphorous, twirling about in the gales of a thunderstorm. Words seemed to catch in his throat as lightning clapped across the sky. Until he could do nothing but whisper.

 

"Because I'm afraid of you."

 

He trudged into the jungle that night, walking without care and without fear. As he lived his life, so he preceded. Animals cut down, despite what arrogance they held, they could never keep him. Until he stumbled across a bay, a dune captured and protected by the sea. And as he stepped onto it, he felt the sands give away into themselves. Gulping and swallowing and before he could think to struggle, he was waist deep and descending deeper.

 

But these weren't the sands of her nightmares, of time spent in the netherworld. He didn't long to live without fear, he longed to embrace it. To be licked clean by the grain, to be shown what he truly was and above all, to drown out the noise of the universe. To hear it all go numb, to muffle into the chaos that it truly was. Because somewhere in the pit of sand trap, a bottom rested. And there, he could find some serenity in the notions of stability.

 

"I'm here because I'm afraid of you and whatever this is..." He looked back towards her, hand moving from the railing to trace a thin line across her collar bone. "You are more than what you were. Bruises and runes and scars, gone. A pale canvas, awash and new, ready for you to reform it in whatever image you choose. So..." His gaze shifted from her collarbone, the frail fabric of her dress and how it clung to her form, back to her eyes. Back to the spot on her forehead, where the scar used to be. "Now that you have been reborn, who will you be?"

 

Irajah Ven



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#17
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It should have been such a strange thing to say, such a strange thing to hear. But it fit into a tiny lock somewhere within, and turned, a muffled click because it fit even though it had no right to. 

 

She should fear him. She was aware of that in some sort of distant way that had nothing to do with her experience in the Netherworld. Even before that, everything in the galaxy feared the monsters beneath the bed or inside of the closet. The lurking beasts, intent with glowing eyes and sharpened fangs and hunger and the scratching of nails against the door frame or the metal posts of the bed. Irajah had grown up with the stories of those monsters, cast in the roles of companion. The intrinsic childhood terror had never been given fertile soil to germinate in. The people she cared about, all, would be cast in fables as the dark creatures that came for naughty children as their most benign form. 

 

Carach. Matsu. Ice eyed woman, waiting on the horizon with hunger and needle smile. Even Ghorua with sharp teeth and hulking form and gentle speech. 

 

Reverance .

 

All of them, without exception. Monsters under the bed. 

 

And she, small of form and weak of hand, held back by Gideon, by the monsters that tried to pull her under instead of the ones that watched with inviting gaze.... what was she?

 

That was easy. It wasn't really a question. 

 

"I'll be something worth fearing," she said, a thoughtful smile on her lips.

 

The tone made it clear that she didn't believe she had been in any way unworthy before. But that before she had sat upon the bed in the darkness, watching the monsters in the shadows- sometimes slipping to the floor to get a closer look, to play, but always returning to place before parents came to check. Because she had not truly believed that she belonged. 

 

Now, worried parents would find the bed empty at dawn. And she would smile wide teeth from the shadows. 

 

"I have vengeance I desire, Rev. A return for things taken without permission. But I will be so much more than that."

 

There was a hint of that fire. The promise she had given him, that her death would not be her end. It was cooled now, yes, subdued. But there. Offered. 

 

"Unfeeling..... I could give up pain, I thought. I had thought, once, that the price of that would be worth so much. But if it comes at the cost of every other sensation.... of not shivering at warmth of touch," she whispered, words almost lost in the weight of the rain. "Then it is not worth it. Because this isn't living. This isn't what I promised myself. Who will I be Rev? Me. All of me. Pain is well worth feeling the rest."

 

The distance, the ice, was that shying away. A damaged animal flinching from pain. But she was not a frightened animal in a trap, and never had been. Now, however, she saw it. She was one of the monsters. Smaller, to be sure. But her teeth were sharp


Edited by Irajah Ven, 13 August 2017 - 10:42 AM.

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#18
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Vengeance.

 

He recalled vengeance, the way it tasted when supped on through the lips of another. Years in the making, mere moments for finality. Blood on the floor, blood on the walls, blood all over. Her in him, him in her, bodies morphed together in an event that changed them. 

 

Vengeance.

 

He had none of his own but he relished the notions of it, the way it hung like copper on the tongue. The sort of act that kept giving, both in conclusion and in the work leading up to it. The very act that warrants vengeance, the redemption of counterbalance offered, hardened to ice in years of refrain. She had so many things for which she could seek vengeance. He wondered if like tracing footsteps back through the snow to cover ones tracks, she would settle on proximal print and keep moving after that. Or would it simply be enough to seek the reckoning of that single event, held closest to her bereavement. That even which extended smile across the length of throat, weeping red, to the image of lobed wings across tiling.

 

The rain grew heavy around them, sending strikes of lightning across towers and skyscrapers in the distance. Igneous rock found reprieve from walls, sending boulders crashing to the ground and littering the slums with debris and destruction. Even amidst the gales, he could hear the cries and screams as people cowered from the thing they embraced.

 

Pain is well worth it all.

 

"To feel, pain and pleasure, they must coincide. You cannot have one without the other." His right hand moved from clavicle to jaw, to cheek, stroking with the back of his hand. He could have lifted the other, felt pulse through the vibration of skin, felt the warm surface of her flesh and the steam from the falling rains. But he didn't. He felt tempered, not entirely removed from passion but not entirely immersed in it. Hand, instead, was steadied by the trauma of rebirth and confession.  "...I suspect you always were...someone to be feared. It just took death to realize it...for some. It took the absence of your pain to realize its value, a bittersweet lens for comparison to all other sensation."

 

But pain wasn't bittersweet, not for him. It was something to seek, like fear that caused the mind to stir. Despite his presence and power, he feared with all his heart. Because, absent pain, that was what caused his spirit to stir. It wasn't the monsters that brought such things to life, or the notions of death. It was attachment, born from brevity, and the confusion of not understanding. He feared Matsu because she was so far beyond him, obsession formed in the moments spent perched in Annaj. He feared Aver out of love, that the jungle that he needed was the same thing that would coil around him, reminding him of the reality of loss. He feared Raj because he felt stable, anchored to something that intrinsically understood him, from passing moments. Where she would see his pain, she teased out the pleasure. Where she would see his depravity, she would look on in curiosity and veiled interest. Across her eyes, he saw the names of a thousands lives, blotted out for search of the thing that would make her whole - knowing now that she needed excision, not healing. A bloody wake stood behind her, silenced by need and pragmatic expectation for survival. A selfish thing. A proper thing. A thing that any one of them would have sought out, when put in her position.

 

She was a monster. Just like them.

 

"But how will you obtain your vengeance? How will you learn to feel, once more?" He tilted his head, ever so slightly, as an animal would when intrigued by the idea of understanding. Would it come through warmth of rain or warmth of breath. Though isolation or the support of others. She never felt more closed off than when she sat at that piano, pecking away at black and white keys in utter silence. With flesh that stood indifferent to touch, he never realized how much he missed her shiver. He would help her, if she merely decided that it was needed.

 

Irajah Ven



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#19
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The rain began to sting against flesh that had never felt more than the pressure of a lover. Hard and unrelenting, it battered against them both, and she looked down, eyes following the rivulets of water where they washed down, more gently. The juxtaposition of sensations, even muted, was noticable, and she marveled silently at it before casting gaze to his hand, adding a counter point in minor key. 

 

"One sensation at a time," she whispered. "One thing desired at a time. One question, one answer, at a time. Each step where the thing at the end of the step matters, even in only the smallest way...."

 

The time between lightening and thunder could be measured now in half a heartbeat. The wall of water that obscured the distance was blocks away, beating upon the city, muffling it and blinding anything beyond. The sound of the water crashing against the pavement, drown out the cried of consternation and fear a moment later- or drown the holders of the voices themselves.

 

She didn't care. 

 

But that could be understood and forgiven. Those people weren't here, weren't him. They didn't trace finger slowly across her skin, or offer statements that required questions and clarifications that awoke a deeper curiosity. Where with Carach she had rediscovered hunger, with Reverance she was rediscovering thirst

 

"I've never been as good alone as I am with others beside me," she murmured, stepping closer to him, if nothing else then to feel the increased pressure of his hand on her flesh. "Melody is better with harmony, lightening needs thunder. They can exist alone, but they are better, richer, with their counter points. Can you do that Rev? If I find questions, offer answers? If pleasure..... pain?"


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#20
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He was having more and more trouble noticing the rain. A beast of particular tendencies, so often fixed on the pain, this threat felt like something that would pass. She hadn't crawled out of the pits of hell just to die upon a balcony and in that propped up sense of logic, he felt awash with a certain affirmation. There was no danger here.

 

She moved close, the space they shared now mere breaths a way. Feeling the force of her insistence, he didn't urge her eyes up to meet his gaze. Instead, he pulled her towards him to bridge the gap, halting just at the point of placing a kiss against her forehead. Where her rune was once carved so deep, there was nothing there now but her. This was her place now, to do with as she pleased. His nose danced across the shadows of former scars.

 

"You may not like all the answers I give you...but I will always be honest with you." He recalled the feel of her warmth, removed from these moments in the rain, when a metal table was the foil to her bruises and scars. And how by the nights end, he was content to be her play thing. Prey strung from the barbs of a locust, begging for the attention of the shrike. To dig just a bit deeper. "I will play the keys with you...I will teach you of whatever pain or pleasure you seek." He moved his left hand down the length of her right arm.

 

Moving away from her forehead, the storm began to push in. Above them, the rain began to patter against what sounded like an umbrella. Instead, it was the soft shimmer of red and black, residual presence of the soul saber seeping into his aura as the shield was projected. Yet the mania had far less of a half life, degrading to something far removed. "I would help you with your vengeance, or celebrate it from afar." With the rain sending a deluge above them, he was content to lift her eyes to his with the nudge of his blackened hand. "Or just be content to know that it will happen. You are too stubborn for any alternative."

 

Irajah Ven

 

 



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