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A celebratory drink. Attn: Dilora, Thorfinn.


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Tyosh’s travels had taken him a long way from the ashes of his tavern, but he could never actually escape the horrendousness of the arson to his establishment. It wasn’t the act that really bothered him; it was the fact that the stone, wood and furniture burned with his childhood memories, happy moments and generations of family traditions.


Since the moment he had set his sights on Caemlyn, he decided against taking a straight and direct route. He chose to head for Caemlyn by Whitebridge, but before Whitebridge he wanted to see Baerlon, the more places he visited the happier he’d be.

His whole life he had been tied down by being the proprietor of a pub. Now that he had no responsibilities, he wanted to explore the rest of the world at his own pace, on his own path. Plus, he was determined not only to explore the rest of the world, but to know about the rest of the world, the herbs, the wildlife, the effects of the seasons in the different places; it all intrigued and fascinated him, and he planned on satisfying his intrigue. All the while he lived off the land, eating what he hunted, drinking from rivers and fashioning clothes for travel out of furs and hides.


He was quite surprised to find out that the herbs in the south weren’t all that different from up north. There were slight variations in plants from adapting to different climates, but basically he could identify most of them. He did encounter a few new herbs and leaves that he’d have to study and ask about later.


But besides herbs there were the people he met. They were all quaint people on the road just like him. Tyosh spoke with them all and traveled with the ones that were heading in the same direction for a while. He even offered Arrow for a little way down the road for a couple of children and not so young men. Many of his traveling companions had problems just like his, but others preoccupied themselves with such simple things that he even felt annoyed sometimes. Many a time Tyosh deviated from his path into little towns or farms to help when he could; then in the towns he would normally find a fine inn to rest, not to mention more difficulties from some of the other patrons at the taverns or common rooms. Aiding everyone in their troubles gave him a good sense of self-satisfaction not to mention some things were just too interesting to not lend a hand.


After what seemed like too short of a journey, Tyosh arrived on the outskirts of Caemlyn. He parted with his present traveling companions with promises of meeting in the city later on, since the couple was planning of establishing a shop in the city. Right away he noticed that the city walls truly were a more than efficient defense. They were quite high and looked thick even from a league away. He’d always thought the southerners were more show than practicability, but these walls truly were a defensive beauty.


As soon as he entered the walls of Caemlyn he felt overwhelmed, everyone seemed to be going somewhere, with haste and in hundreds of different directions. He made it easier for himself by riding Arrow into the city, the horse was of a smaller type than these south horses, but nonetheless he parted crowds.


His impression of the city was that of disorganization. He didn’t know if it was because of all the bustling or the dozens of alleyways that seemed to branch off into everywhere wherever you looked. The shouting of the peddlers and the rumbling of a live city didn’t actually help a man who was an enthusiast of the quiet murmur of nature. Trying to keep out of the noise, he steered Arrow into a small stable and maneuvered into a small tavern and the more familiar sounds of drink and song.


Right away he knew he had made a mistake, in all the rush of finally arriving to Caemlyn he hadn’t changed, he still had his traveling furs on. They were good craftsmanship, decent and serviceable, but they looked exactly like what they were, simple traveling clothes that made one look like a beggar or someone going through very hard times. Well there was nothing for it, he tried to put it out of his mind but it kept picking at him while he made his way to a table. He knew one sure way to forget about it and maybe celebrate for a journey ended in good spirits. “Give me a mug of your finest aleâ€, he told a barmaid. She eyed him and his clothes for a while, Tyosh took out a bag of coins and made it quite obvious that the pouch was filled with heavy coins, some people just insisted on giving him rewards for his help. “Let me buy you wine, even barmaids’ need a breakâ€. When the coins made their first appearance she was already on her way to fetch his ale.

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It hadn’t changed. Not that she had really expected to change beyond all recognising – the worst of the problem had been outside the city proper, but coming back here was bringing back all the memories. She needed a drink. More importantly, Dilora knew she needed more things to trade on the way up north to Saldaea, or the Borderlands, and they had to be useful things that appealed to her or she wouldn’t bother with them. A look to the sky revealed that she definitely wanted to be under cover. From the looks of those clouds, she’d be soaked to the skin before the evening was out. No. It would be much better to wet her insides with a nice pint of ale. Besides, she knew the bartender would give her a discount on her drink, as she was such a regular customer. Making her way towards the inn, she gave a thought to Altie, safely stabled with the blacksmith after Forge had pronounced that the mare needed to be shod before too long. She still chuckled over the methods he had used to come to that conclusion, and the song in her head was playing over and over. Really, I should put it in my journal and see about recording the tune somehow too…


Dilora smiled over the fact that most bartenders from Baerlon to Whitebridge knew her by sight and by the time she had arrived at the bar, they had her favourite drink already poured to foamy goodness in a shiny tankard in front of her. They always refused her coin at the first, but she insisted, and then proceeded to get news and current events from them. If there was something Dilora detested, it was a misinformed peddler. How else were the folks in the smaller villages and hamlets supposed to know of world events? And that was exactly what she would do now…


The inn door opened to reveal a fairly packed common room with folks seated at tables and some standing at the bar. The atmosphere reeked of business and trade, not to mention those labourers back from field or fireplace seeking a spot of refuge before returning to their wives. Most of the eyes in the room turned to her at her entrance though, the fairly short but pretty woman with the dark curling hair and mischievous grin and smile sending a jolt of energy through the room. An almost tangible buzz as her boot heels noisily crossed the floor, the sound like tiny hammers striking the wooden floor to announce her presence in ways her slightly smaller than average stature could manage.


As usual, the pint of ale was in front of her before she could even grin at the bartender and reach for her purse of coins. Dilora was a canny one – she’d had a little pouch stitched into her skirt at the front so people could not steal easily from her without her knowing about it. Smiling her thanks, she spent a few minutes talking to the bartender, a rotund man that seemed to be about half and half flesh and muscle, before attempting to find a seat. For some reason the serving maid seemed quite happy; a flush crept up her cheeks and she was a trifle out of breath, but other than that it was a normal tavern scene. Finally spotting a free seat near a bearded Saldaean, Dilora took a sip of the ale, wiped her top lip free from foam and smiled at the man.


“Excuse me, but is this seat taken?â€

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“Excuse me, but is this seat taken?â€


Tyosh heard the voice pierce through the murmur very clearly he lifted his eyes from his own mug and before Tyosh had even looked her in the eyes, he had seen about 10 pairs of eyes swivel around to his side of the room, he knew there’d be no trouble unless someone reached an inebriated state, in which case he was sure the Queens Guard could handle it, but even so the attention to his person bothered him. But since he wasn’t the owner of this tavern he really couldn’t do anything about it, that was definitely one of the things he missed about his pub, not being able to just gently but firmly ask people to leave and they’d just do it because he was in charge.


Tyosh had perceived the woman as soon as she had stepped into the room, just like every other man and even a few women. She seemed to irradiate the very essence of enthusiasm and excitement; he would be very welcome to have her at his table. He was quite dumbfounded nonetheless at how she had decided to sit at his table, but after a moment’s consideration, he knew she had probably gone to the first available seat was all. He hoped the doubt had not shown on his face.


Before he actually invited her to take a seat, Tyosh measured her up and tried to judge her character. Tyosh had noticed how the barkeep had prepared her the drink without her even being halfway to the bar. He supposed she must come around here very frequently or be someone important and high rank, but he thought the latter was most likely. Anyone who was known enough in a common room, to have their drink prepared before they even opened their mouth had to be an enjoyer of all types of spirits and liquors. Now he just wondered if she could hold her appetite for drinking or if she was a lightweight, as her small build indicated. And he intended to find out if she was in rank with a former tavern keep or if her visits to the bar had some non- drinking reason, which would be rather disappointing.


Another thing he noticed was, how even though she was a petite thing she looked sturdy, hardened for some reason. This fascinated Tyosh somewhat, she seemed like an interesting drinking companion, and celebrating alone just isn’t celebrating.


Tyosh didn’t want to keep the pretty little female waiting, so he said to her, “Not at all, please take a seatâ€. He nudged the chair opposite to him, with his foot, in a pseudo chivalric manner, so as to make her seating more comfortable.


“Well my name is Tyosh Reuna. As you can obviously tell I hail from Saldea, and light willing you will tell me your name.â€

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Thirfinn stoud at the bar of the in he had entered after coming to Caemlyn for his great aunts funeral. He had only meet her as a boy before his parents died she was pleasant enough and had been very kind to him. So when he had receaved the letter telling him of Her death he was honour bond to attend as he was the only relative from Two Rivers. It ahd been a short funeral only 3 other members he didn't recognize. But once it was finished he went out looking for the Inn he had been staying at for some contemplation.


Thorfinn took another sip of his ale, takin in the soothing taste of the ale and letting it run down his throat. He placed the tankard back on the bar and looked over to the door that had just opened, a medium height women had just walked in and headed to the bar. Before she even odered the bartneder had a drink ready for her. Must be a regularShe chatted with the bartender and walked over to a table with a bearded man sitting ther with a spare chair. Her boots made a clickin sound as she walked over the floorboards, very much like what a derr wood sound like on floorboards.


She asked the man a question, or at least Thorfinn thought it was a question as the bearded man raised his eyebraws in a questioning look. The women sat down and they started chatting.


Her watched them as he finished of the last of his ale and asked the bartender for a new one placing a sliver coin into the bartenders hand and waited for his ale and change. I should watch how much i spend i still need to get home. The bartender returned with the change and a new ale.

'Have you been busy my freind?'

The bartender looked at him and Thorfinn could see he was weary of him, he walked away and served another customer. He stood there in his clothes he had left home wearing in the Woods of the Misty mountains and they weren't durty but then again they weren't the same as the clothes of the people of Caemlyn. He still had his broad sword on his belt. But then again most people in Caemlyn wore their belts. He had left his sheild, bow and quiver in his room. Or at leats he hoped they were he had asked the stableboy to leave them in his room after he had left Mani, his Dhurran stallion with the boy. He could see the beared man and the women chatting still he couldn't make out what he they were saying but never the less they were getting on well. Since getting to Thorfinn he mainly keep him self to himself. He rarely ever left his cabin and even then it was once or twice a year. It had been the drink that had pushed out the question to the barkeep.

I can't be like this all my life and it can't be very freindly either. I'll try be a bit more freindly in the future He tokk another drink of his ale and leaned agianst the bar looked about for a spare seat.

I need a seat my feet are killin me......

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“Dilora Fashelle, my name is Dilora Fashelle. I am a peddler. I travel across the lands to give people news and cheer, as well as whatever they need that I happen to have in my wagon.†She spoke with a slightly raised voice, as was her custom when introducing herself, to make sure that everyone in the tavern knew who she was. It was good business practice. When all was said and done, the fastest method of advertising her services she knew of was that of word of mouth. Good comments, feedback, that sort of thing, strengthened a girl’s reputation, don’t you know, and anything that helps a lass get ahead in the world must surely be a good thing - apart from channelling, of course. Dilora had nothing but praise for the esteemed Sister’s of the White Tower, but the general populace were half in fear and half in awe of the reputation of Tar Valon. Dilora preferred to be more … on their level, so to speak. It allowed more freedom with negotiations, since an Aes Sedai’s truth was commonly believed as being something twisted, and not the truth you were expecting. Still, she got her fair share of heads turning to look at her, preening under the attention and burying it in her ale pot to cover her grin.


“I’m pleased to meet you, Tyosh Reuna.†She extended her hand and shook it warmly, noting the calluses on his fingers that spoke of hard work and the protracted use of a bow, most likely in hunting. It left ridges on the fingertips from holding the bowstring in place before loosing an arrow. “As you no doubt heard, my name is Dilora Fashelle, and I am a peddler passing through Caemlyn. Although, in fact, my home town is Baerlon, so this is effectively my homeland.†She smiled at him and took another drink of ale, wondering if this place sold anything like the apple pie she had sampled that time her and Anton Averdal, a fellow wanderer, had drank together and eaten apple pie like her aunt used to make. I’ve not seen him since the carnival. I wonder where he is, and how he is doing…


“If you ever need any ointment or cream for your fingertips, for if you don’t mind my saying they look like they might hurt every once in a while if you don’t practice with your bow, then I have just the thing in my wagon. I like to peddle a few healing cures when I can. People always need medicines, and the rich tend to keep them for themselves. Unfair, really.†Dilora could not but help noticing his expression, the eyebrow raised quizzically as he heard her talk of healing. She laughed. “Oh, I am no Aes Sedai, nor am I a healer or Wisdom of any description. I know what does what in rudimentary medicaments, and that is enough for a peddler such as myself, although I’ll admit to being curious.†She noticed another man that had entered, a hunter judging by his clothing, a hunter or a trapper, looking around for a place to sit. There was an empty space at the table she shared with Tyosh and Dilora wondered if he would mind some extra company. She asked him.


“Tyosh, tell me a bit about yourself. What do you do? Oh, and we should let that fellow over there sit with us. If he knows a thing or two about furs the way his clothes dictate he should, then I’d like to talk to him about some regal looking fur in order to trim the garments of royalty.†She rubbed her earlobe thoughtfully. “That should fetch a pretty penny when presented to the tailors of the northern courts, particularly if winter comes early…â€

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Tyosh was amazed at how many words the little woman, Dilora as she called herself, could fit into such a small amount of time. He was sure he had actually missed a few words of her quick lipped, quick minded speech. He took a few moments to digest what had been said and collect his thoughts.


So she was a peddler? No doubt she was successful at her trade; no one with that kind of charisma could be a bad salesperson. Not to mention her apparent ability for clueing into what a customer might be interested in. It wasn’t that the calluses bothered him, but now that she mentioned it, they did cause some discomfort sometimes, maybe that in itself was another one of her skills, making someone want to purchase things they didn’t even know they needed. He felt calluses on his companion’s hand, but he could never guess if they were caused by bowstrings, swords or some other tool he hadn’t thought of.


Tyosh was sure he could learn a few things profit and selling related from this talented lady, and become a real herbalist, instead of just a helper that people sometimes might compensate. Maybe today was going to be productive as well as a nice entertaining evening.


Besides that, Dilora seemed like a nice enough person, even if she was a bit lost in a few aspects which Tyosh had to clear up a few things, offering healing herbs to a herbalist! Who’s heard of such a thing? Tyosh decided he would do just as she said and tell her a few things about himself, in honesty.


“Oh believe me, the pleasure is all mine. Well if you want to hear, I’ll tell you what I do and a little about myself. First of all, you could say I’m a herbalist and a hunter, or to be more specific, I’m trying to become a herbalist hunter, right now I’m just a person who’s experimented in the ways of nature, I’m trying to make a profit of it, but I’ve done a terrible job at it.†Tyosh sighed thinking about how his future would be quite somber if he couldn’t make this his profession, instead of just a hobby with too few benefits to live off. He also noticed the expression that flickered on Dilora’s face when he mentioned he didn’t have a fixed occupation, he couldn’t decide if it was because of the lack of a profession or the lack of gold. But he chose to steer the conversation away from that, “Before all this I was a tavern keeper, but after a little incident at the tavern, I had to set off to new lands and new opportunities. The journey has been quite fun and I’ve learned much about new herbs and the changes they manifest in different regions. It’s incredibly fascinating how an herb in my homelands, that can be used for a potent stimulant with only a very mild drowsiness side effect and yet simply moving south for a few weeks the herb changes it’s properties becoming a sleep inducer with a side effect of giddiness. Oh, but listen to me ranting on about things you are probably already acquainted with, you seem to know your fair share of remedies, as well.â€


All the while Tyosh had been eyeing the man at the bar, the man Dilora had pointed out to him. The gentleman looked weary and the shifting of the man’s feet only made Tyosh realize that, his feet must be killing him.


“About that guy at the bar, he does look like he could need company and getting to see you in negotiations about the furs could be quite the educational event, so call him over before the poor man’s legs fall off.â€


He was still wondering why Dilora was talking so loudly… did she think him a bit deaf?

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Thorfinn was still watching the bearded man ans lady nattering away and began to notice there interest in him. The lady was looking at his clothes as if she was in a tailors. Not that you would find any clothes like this in a tailors, Thorfinn had made these clothes himself mainly from firs leather and some linen. He then noticed the beared man looking at him now, Could they be thieves? he had ran into them before and cased them. the bearded man had a simpathetic look on his face and mumbled something to the women.

'Why good sir, why don't you join us at our table?' said the women. It took awhile for him to relise she was talking to him. In fact it had been the first person to engage him in conversation since entering the city.

'Why it would be a pleasure ma Lady.' Thorfinn picked up his tankard and made his way to the table placing himself onto the stool with an inner sigh of relief.

'Thank you kindly ma Lady, good Sir, my name is Thorfinn Al'Sven from Two Rivers and may the light shine on you both and both your kin.' He eyed them both, now that he was closer, The bearded man was wearing furs similier to his own still travel worn as well.

The women now that he could see her properly had a familier look about here, clearly a peddler but he couldn't quite place her.......

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The Two Rivers! Was this someone that knew of the area near her hometown of Baerlon, perhaps? Would he know of her aunt and uncle? The people she grew up with and her mother and father? Oh, Dilora could talk to this man all day about the area, if she had a chance, but he looked a little bit out of place. He was looking around, nervously almost, as if he hadn’t seen the walls of a big city in a long time and the people were a little … alien? Something along those lines anyway. It was a trifle obvious that he came from the country, anyway. Snapping her fingers for the serving maid, Dilora smiled at the other two gentlemen, immediately thinking of getting some news from her hometown and maybe he’d like to go with her and see a little of the world before returning to the Two Rivers. From the looks of him, he had seen a few years, but who was to say what lay in this man’s history. It was something for her journal at any rate…


The serving maid bustled over, a plump girl with a rosy glow on her smiling face and brown hair that fell in gleaming waves to well below her waist, and smiled at the two men. The two men were looking at Dilora though, and the woman’s gaze followed. She gave a little jump and kept the smile on her face, even though there was a little bit of familiarity to the look. Oh yes, Dilora remembered Tina well from the time she had been last, but there was no time to dwell on that now. She gave the woman a silver coin and folded her fingers around it.


“Ale, please, and lots of it. In fact, bring us as much ale as that coin will allow, all lined up on the table please.†Tina smiled in memory – the last time Dilora had visited she had challenged two other merchants to a similar thing and won, and she had been given a silver penny for her service. Draining the remnant ale from the bottom of the first cup, she looked at the men sat at her table and smiled. Now the fun began.


“Gentlemen. The Light often does things for reasons we don’t understand. As the great and powerful Aes Sedai say in far off Tar Valon, protected by the shining walls of the White Tower; the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.†Her speech was accompanied by little gestures that would have made a gleeman proud, so expressive was she. “So, the Light willing, the Wheel will weave us all into a state where we can be happy for the rest of our lives. However, the world knows it isn’t that simple. So, what I propose is that we enjoy this moment we share right now, with some ale. Then, we can talk about life in general. For now, I feel the need for a drink. What say you, boys?â€

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Thorfinn watched the maid go off and return with the ale the other women had asked for. Then listened as she started talking about the Wheel of Time and such, just like the Aei Sedai that had visited his lords keep in Sheinar. Could she be Aei Sedai? He brushed the idea out of his head and started drinking the remainder of his Ale.

It wasn't the same as the ale Thorfinn brewed himself in fact this stuff was more like the ginger beer they served the children at Bel Tine. He then had a thurst for some of his homemade brandy. But for now this will have to do.

'So my freind i see you use the bow. What be your trade?' He eyed the bearded man and looked at his fingers with the calluses. Thorfinn wore fingers guards and a bracer most of the time when he went hunting. So maybe he was just keeping a bow for protection......

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Tyosh heard promises of great fun in Dilora’s proposition, seeing someone with the world experience she must have, drunk, was always full of potential, he’d seen hundreds of cases like this in his own tavern and it was most certainly one of his favorite things to do. Nothing compares with the slurring, exaggerations and gestures of a drunken world trotter talking about how they fooled a certain camp stole a kiss from a certain farm girl or barely made it out alive from an incredible danger.


Since he had years of drinking experience, he really doubted there would be much risk in maybe indulging himself a bit. His companions would probably forget their own names before he started getting heavily influenced, but even so you never knew how much liquor a person could take until you saw them drink, so perhaps there was potential here.


And with these thoughts, he nodded joyfully at Dilora, “Yes, a good drink sounds like a wonderful idea, a superb ice breaker, but…â€, he eyed the mugs in a contemptuous manner, “we’re going to need a lot more ale for meâ€, and finished with a highly un-modest grin.


Afterwards, Tyosh had been quiet most of the while, he was measuring up Thorfinn. The man reminded him of his uncle, a man accustomed to wilderness. And Thorfinn’s technique for treating his furs was excellent, well that would be the case if Dilora was right about him furnishing his own furs. But if she was right, then Tyosh definitely had to ask him about it, they looked almost as if the animal was still attached to the fur, very natural.


Tyosh thought that the silence on his behalf would guarantee conversation to flow between Dilora and Thorfinn which both were Andoran and probably had much more to talk about, and Tyosh was much comfortable listening in, getting a feel for both his companions.


That’s why he was quite surprised when the heavily furred man asked him about his trade. “Well right now, I’m an herbalist and hunter. But I doubt you’ll find the herbing part very interesting, I can see you’re more to the liking of the hunting suggestion judging by your furs.â€, he lifted his hands palms toward Thorfinn. “And that’s why I have this kind of hand; hunting constantly and especially nowadays when I’m always on the road. The bow will really do a number on your hands if you aren’t careful. Never learned how to shoot with gloves on, I find them really harming to my aim, I guess an old dog can’t learn new tricks.†And with that he took a big gulp from a mug that was close at hand.

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Thorfinn was quite surprised to her the strong accent in the bearded man's voice. Where have i heard that before?

'I understand, my father didn't use a glove or bracer but it's what your used to my friend i suppose.' Thorfinn looked doen into his ale, it had been a long time since he had spoken out loud about his father.

'So you say your a herbalist eh, well i dabble in afew herbs ma sell. Only the ones that change the taste of venison, i had too much of that of late. Give me some boar anyday.' He smiled at the bearded man, he really didn't know much about herbalism but he had always wanted to know a bit more than he did.

He tuned his gaze over to The women and tipped his ale to her.

'So ma Lady, you trade here often?' Thorfinn downed the last of his weak ale and lifted the next one. [/i]I wonder if they have any brandy?

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The foamy liquid was a welcome change from the homebrew she had been forced to rely on while on the road, although some of the local farmhouse ales were rather potent. They all helped her to forget the screams of her nightmares though, and to ease the pain she saw every time she closed her eyes on the horror that was the Caemlyn Carnival. Another long swallow followed the first, and a warm pleasant feeling of contentment and mild fuzziness encompassed Dilora so the tip of her nose felt a little numb. In total control, just nicely … merry, that was probably the best way of describing it. Dilora smiled at Tyosh, the herbalist and at Thorfinn, the tracker or furrier, whatever he was, and raised her tankard in toast. Both returned the salute, and she watched how they reacted to the drink out of the corner of her eye. Good. It looked like it was time to start answering questions.


“I trade wherever there is a need for trade, Thorfinn, my dear.†Secretly she was pleased at the honorific title he had given her, for although she was no lady, she had often played out the daydream in her head that she was the lady of the open road, a noble disguised as a traveller. It passed lonely hours sometimes when she felt she needed company on those rare occasions, and also gave her a tiny insight into how people treated you if you acted in a different way. “I often trade in Caemlyn because it is a large city, and there is always a need for items and for peddlers in the large cities. Oh, and plus...†The aside was accompanied by a finger alongside her nose, gesturing them both to secrecy. “Plus, people have more recent news in the city, so it is the place to find any information you could possibly wish for, if you know where to look.†She smiled again, and took another sip of ale. She could really fancy a piece of apple pie at the moment, just like the piece she had sampled when she had visited a similar in with Anton a little while ago. “Information is sometimes more valuable than anything else I carry in my wagon, short of books.†Dilora sighed, propping her elbow into a pool of boozy liquid and registering minor disgruntlement as a wet patch spread on her shirt. “I wish I could find more books…†The seed was planted; now time to wait for it to flower. Hopefully one of these two would know something of books that she could buy cheaply to sell. As well as being relatively portable and selling at a high price, they also appealed to Dilora’s sense of adventure. It was one thing keeping a journal of her exploits across the land, hoping to become the next Jain Farstrider, but quite another to read someone else’s work that had actually managed to get published. Oh, yes, one day her adventures would adorn every farmwife’s bookshelf with pride.


She shook her head as she realised she had been daydreaming again, and plucked at the wet fabric on the arm of her shirt, tut-tutting. “I will probably head north, to Tar Valon from here, and then onto the Borderlands because there are always interesting things to buy and sell up north.†Her fingers twitched as they always did when she thought of the opportunity to trade, and she had to signal Tina, the serving girl, to fetch a slice of apple pie. Life was too short sometimes, and you had to make the most of the good things while you could - a philosophy of her aunt’s, yet perfectly apt in this situation. She smiled at her companions and raised her tankard, draining the rest of it. “Books, ale, pie and the open road – can you think of anything better? Oooh, I think we need more ale. Whose round is it?â€

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Whose round is it? Hrmmm… whose round is it? He was pretty sure he knew the answer… but it just sort of eluded him. Kind of like a deer in the overgrowth or a muddy squealing pig… Muddy pig! Where did that come from? He was sure he’d heard of some crazy carnival game that had to do with a slippery pig, but he’d never played it or seen it played, so where did that thought even come from?


And what was with him not being able to concentrate on one chain of thought, but jumping from one thing to another, like an impatient child waiting for The Feast of Lights. It couldn’t be the ale… it seemed so weak. No, he refused to believe it was the ale, just giddy of finally arriving to his destination. Yes, that had to be it, he was excited about it all and the gaiety of the present company was probably seeping into him was all, no weak ale was going to get him drunk! No siree!


Tyosh had been a bit too busy worrying about the reason of his faux-tipsiness to look around himself, but now that he had decided that he wasn’t actually drunk… he started noticing that he wasn’t the only one that had soaked in the ambience of cheerfulness and maybe a bit of clumsiness. For Dilora’s, part he noticed her picking and plucking at a wet patch on her shirt, which could only have been made because of a lack of observation on Dilora’s part… or maybe it was just an accident. Either way she was plucking at it every few seconds like a tic… a drunken tic! Maybe that was a bit overboard…


Thorfinn on the other hand, seem to still be on the sober side, but he did seem to slosh a bit too much ale… These mugs were brought to the table borderline of spilling, so filled Tyosh was actually surprised the bar-maid could walk so as to not spill it all. A real Talent, maybe something the Aes Sedai should learn!


Still… whose round was it… oh well it didn’t matter now, “I honestly have no idea, but as things have always been… “Ladies firstâ€, and with this Tyosh grinned at his own joke, which he found so funny at that point for some strange reason.


“Books, pie, ale and the open road, those all seem like great things… but could you imagine them together? It’d be terribleâ€, Tyosh winced thinking about a book made of ale inside of pie. “Heading up north… Borderlands… sounds like quite the trip, I wonder how everything is up there, I plan on doing a bit of sight-seeing around here, maybe pick up a fruitful trade who knows. Open road and no strings is indeed a wonderful thing, anything you want, anywhere you wantâ€. He thought about the home that wasn’t home anymore, funny, whenever he thought of Saldaea, he never missed it, but now he wanted to know its happenings, maybe see all his old hauntings, perhaps even visit his aunt. “So Thorfinn, what brings you to Caemlyn? Any plans afterwards?â€


Possibly, just possibly the ale was doing a number on him tonight. Missing home… who would’ve thought?

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Thorfinn shifted his weight in the chair, repostioning his broadsword.

'I be payin ma respects to ma great aunt, she was buried the day.' He took another swig of his ale contomplating wiether to order some brandy. Then relized he was dreaming too much.

'She was a very nice lady and was always kind to me. I had only meet her twice and i was young at the time but IO say treat others as they treat you.' Thorfinn had used this philosophy for as long as he remembered, it had done him well and if it isn't broken why fix it.


He looked over at Dilora, he then relized he had seen her before, for deffinit. She had been in Tarren Ferry once when he was in town trading his furs and meats. As he had remembered she had payed well for his furs, nice lass.

'If you don't mind me saying ma Lady, the borderlands are a very long journey and is known to be a very hard journey. Many know of the theifs and bandits on the route. You surely hope on going up there by your sellf do?'

It had been a very long time since Thorfinn had been in the Borderlands, but never the less he had enjoyed his time there. He had been a minor lords huntsman and was known for maming his money on killing the carrion of the land. It was a dangerous job as on the odd occation he had ran into his fair share of Mydraal. But deep down in his mind he didn't like the idea of the nice lass heading up north by her self.


He finished his ale and called the barmaid over.

'Excuse me lass but could you bring me over your finest brandy?' The barmaid hurried away and Thorfinn turned back to the table to the gob smacked looks of his new found companions. What are they looking at?

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Light, the man wanted to move onto brandy? Well, Tina would certainly oblige there. If Dilora remembered this place correctly they were renowned for selling the strongest brandy, from somewhere out near Baerlon if she remembered correctly. It was probably a relative of hers, if she thought about it, particularly knowing how her uncle had liked a tipple of something to ward the chill off a cold morning. She raised her hand knowingly and winked at Tina. “Make that two!†She had enough silver in her pouch to cover it, and if the man was as good a herbalist as he said, then he’d have a little something to make her feel better should the worst come to the worst. It would probably taste foul, but it would work. She smiled at the other two at the table, thinking of how nice it would be to dance with either of them right now.


“I have a friend I’ll be meeting on the road, possibly in the city itself before I move northwards, but I could travel with company for a time. I’ll be meeting an Ogier soon, and I’m not without my own defences you know.†She eyed the older man over the top of her rapidly emptying tankard, her gaze still free of the traces of alcoholic befuddlement and feeling nicely warm now. Did he think she was incapable of taking care of herself? Her skill with a bow was probably higher than one of the trained archers in the Caemlyn and her skill with her knife she knew for a fact rivalled some high-class butchers, not to mention having defended herself against men larger than this Thorfinn was when her genial behaviour had been mistaken for romantic interest. She had only cut him a little, and everyone had told her that she’d been perfectly in the right to do as she had done. Even the doorman, a huge man that most likely lifted heavy barrels of beer in order to improve his muscular conditioning, had nodded in her direction as he’d thrown the man out of the tavern. Ah, good times.


“Do you have business in the north? I can protect you if you want to travel that way.†Her gaze moved from face to face, wondering if they’d go with her. Usually she travelled alone, but Dilora knew she’d make an exception if they wanted to go north to the edge of the Borderlands with her. For some reason, Dilora thought that everyone should see something different in their lives at least once and, if that happened to be dangerous, well, it should make them a bit more appreciative of what they had. Her possessions went everywhere with her – by nature a trader and that, by definition, usually meant an acquisitive nature. In Dilora it meant the opposite. Owning enough to travel with comfortably, and everything else resting on the actual bargaining. Enjoying the experience of trading rather than the results and profits, although those were rather nice. She’d have to find a banker at this rate to deposit the coins so far accrued this time, although the fat old man she had visited when she’d been in the city last would probably not be around. He had been talking of retiring even last year, so he would most likely have hung up his fingerless gloves by now and let an apprentice take over. That would be a tidy sum when she finally decided to settle down. If she ever settled down… “Are you with me?â€

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'Aye ma Lady, It has been a long time since i've been to the borderlands but i find that i've been away from the world too long and i think this trip will do me some good.' Thorfinn at Dilora, he found himself liking her more and more.

So she's meeting an Ogier eh? Thorfinn had heard all the tales about the Ogier but had never actually meet one. he had seen them once in the Borderlands and once in Two Rivers a young fellow by the name of Loial. But it had only been a view from a distance on both occations. Thorfinn turned to the Bearded man and saw he had finished his ale. [/i]He can certainly put away his ale. Thorfinn smiled at the man and raized his tankard to him.

The barmaid came over with three glasses of brandy. He pushed a silver peace into the girls hand and winked at her.

'Thank you my sweet.' Thorfinn sniffed the brandy and took a sip of the liquid. Ah that hits the spot, not bad if i say so myself. Thorfinn turned to the herbalist,

'Will you join us in our journey friend?'

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Forge was enjoying his return to Caemlyn. The beautiful stonework, as always, took his breath away, and this time there were no swarms of villagers with pitchforks, scythes, and staves shouting “Trolloc†and “Monster†trying to chop him up. Chuckling softy, sounding like a giant bull would if bulls did such a thing, the giant Ogier recalled with some humor the confused looks on all their faces when he had just stood there silently. Their fearful rush had silently come to a halt, as he simply stood there looking at them, kind of like when a village dog starts barking at a rider passing by only to stop barking when the rider halts his horse. Neither the dog nor the villagers knew what to do. Fortunately, before the tension had mounted to dangerous levels, some Queens Guards had passed by and hailed him as “Friend Ogier†and “Alantin.†The crowd had gone from silently murderous to silently awe struck at being, as they saw it, in the presence of a creature of Legend.


Laughing again at the silliness of human beings, Forge made his way through the outer gates, passing large numbers of Queens Guards who were doing some kind of military drills. Moving easily through an ever-present clear space around him, Forge had an unobstructed view of the city and he soaked in its beauty.


To the people of Caemlyn, they had an unobstructed view of the legendary Ogier. He was 12-feet tall and muscularly broad, huge even for an Ogier, and he stood out among the citizenry like a gold ring on a blacksmith’s anvil. The murmured whispers of “Ogier†and “Builder†weren’t enough to take much of his attention, though. On his travels, he had almost grown used to it.


Always before when he came to Caemlyn, he had ventured into the Inner City to work, but Dilora’s instructions led him to a portion of the city he had never been to before, so he paid careful attention to her directions.


He had promised to meet Dilora today, but he still had plenty of time to pause now and again to visit with the tiny little children who came running up to touch him and ask him questions. Their oohs and aahs were somehow soothing, despite how excited the little ones were. And they had even more questions than Little Bee! Maybe they were all from the same hive… he laughed at his little joke, and carefully hoisted yet another little one high into the air as they shouted with glee. The children weren’t nearly as afraid as the older humans, prompting Forge to consider yet again why these humans were so strange.


Eventually, he found the stable where Dilora said Altie would be. The farrier wasn’t too concerned with an Ogier in his shop, because he had work to do and that was all that mattered. The fire, and the sweet sound of steel on steel. Smiling at the similarities between blacksmiths everywhere, Forge promised to offer any help he could if he had the time. For some reason, this perked up the blacksmith to a high degree, and he kept repeating, “Oh, thank you friend Ogier, thank you.†Did the Creator make any creatures stranger than the humans? Forge couldn’t think of any.


Following Dilora’s directions quickly took him from the stable to the inn she was staying at, where Forge paused outside to dust off his coat and take stock of his position. He knew his path, and surely the Wheel had put Little Bee in it for some reason. But death and destruction lay in the future of mankind, and the Ogier he feared, as surely as the hammer shaped the horseshoe. He desperately hoped the beautiful little woman didn’t get caught up in it.


Looking around, he again took notice of the beauty of Caemlyn, even here far from the Inner City. On such a beautifully sunlit day it was hard to stay focused on the horrors to come, so Forge allowed his thoughts to drift to more pleasant things.


It had been a long time since he sat in an inn and listened to the relaxed conversation of strange humans. He would certainly enjoy some fine ale and maybe even something to eat. According to the sun, it was getting close to lunchtime. Adjusting his travel pack and making sure his two axes were settled comfortably, he skeptically eyed the tiny doorway to the inn, thinking “Have all these humans forgotten my kind?†while knowing that they had.


He bent down and barely squeezed through it.


He was sure he heard some of the woodwork crack and give way as he ducked through, but he was as careful as he could be. These humans just made everything too small.


Rising to his full height inside the great room, his head brushing the rafters, Forge quickly saw Dilora drinking with two companions: a man in furs and another fellow with a sword. Judging by their slow, overly cautious movements, the trio had been hard at it for quite some time.


For some reason, everything in the inn had gone quiet. And it seemed like everyone was looking at him.

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Tyosh had quietly been listening to the conversation between his two companions. Thorfinn accompanying the small lady seemed preposterous, he had no idea why but he was sure this little woman was like an Illuminator firecracker, it might be small, but when it exploded it would be sure to leave a few men injured probably even knocked out cold.


But for some reason, even if the notion of “guarding†the peddler seemed ridiculous he wanted to join their party; he wanted to travel again, even after having just arrived at his first destination. Maybe he wanted to go back home, maybe he just liked the feeling of the road under his feet, but he wanted to go with them and he was about to tell them he was tagging along and if they refused he’d still strike off on his own towards new adventures.


It all seemed like the right choice, like the only choice really, all his reasoning and logic told him so. The ale might have something to do with the flaming decision, but he didn’t flaming care at this point, Light! All he wanted to do now was get on the bloody road and if the bloody ale was making him do it, then by Light he’d be drinking ale the whole bloody journey! Light! He was cursing like mad; this ale really did have a kick to it!


He was about to open his mouth to speak, when Thorfinn had asked, “Will you join us in our journey friend?†Tyosh was quite taken aback and took a swallow of ale to mask his shock, and just when he was about to respond, he heard and felt something heavy enter the room, this instantly sobered up Tyosh and made him brace himself for a full on rush from a beast of some sort. He didn’t know exactly what he was expecting, but he knew he wasn’t expecting what he saw.


When Tyosh turned around he saw the 12ft ogier enter the room, he’d seen ogier before but he could help but be fascinated by their height and girth. But the ogier seemed to be looking for someone and apparently he had found the person sitting at Tyosh’s table, he turned around to his table mates and saw a flicker of recognition in Dilora’s eyes. Tyosh was just beginning to fathom under what circumstances the petite lady had met an ogier. But a more pressing thought entered his mind… would he be able to fit at their table with such small chairs?

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Silence reigned in the tavern. Dilora looked around to try and find the cause for everyone to have stopped talking and her eyes fell on a large figure taking up most of the doorway. He’d had to stoop to get as far through as he had, but Dilora’s face still cracked into a smile when she saw it. Forge! Good, so he’d remembered the place she was to meet him. Excitement bubbled in her like a busy river; flowing over stones and unbidden the tune to “The Mare in the Air†filled her head. She looked mischievously at her companions, drained her ale and got to her feet looking directly at the Ogier blacksmith she’d camped with only yesterday. From here, they’d go on, but not without leaving an indelible impression on the patrons of the tavern… With a wink for Tina, the serving girl, Dilora raced across the floor and hugged the Ogier before climbing onto the small platform Gleemen usually performed on.


“I’ve wandered over so many lands,

Through Ghealdan and Caemlyn and Tear.

But never before have I seen such big hands,

Than on the blacksmith Ogier…


She couldn’t help herself – the words bubbled out of her in a clear alto voice, surprisingly loud and with good pitch despite the drink. She twirled her skirts and danced as she sang, going through the verses with a gleeful smile on her face. This performance would most definitely make her remembered as a good-time peddler and she’d be sought out in taverns across the country once word got around. Oh, yes, this would be very profitable indeed…


The final verse finished, Dilora realised she held the attention of the entire common room, not to mention her to table companions and Forge, who was standing with an amiable expression on his large face and only traces of mild surprise in those teacup sized eyes. He blinked long eyelashes as the crowd started applauding Dilora’s performance and she went to him then, holding him by one large hand and hinting to the crowd that the very finest in Ogier-wrought smithcraft lay in her wagon, along with other various goods they didn’t know they needed yet. Everything was an opportunity … it didn’t matter that they thought her drunk and silly, they would rue the day they tried to put one over on a Silly Dilly moment, as she called them. She knew she’d get the best of any deal conducted under the influence of brew. Tugging at his hand, Dilora gestured for Forge to follow her back to her table amid looks of happy surprise and speculation from the crowd. Tina was already returning from the bar with an Ogier sized tankard of ale and placing it on the stage nearby, which was just the right height for the Ogier to sit on and still appear to be at the table. As the crowd hummed parts of the melody she’d sang, Dilora grinned at the startled expressions of Tyosh and Thorfinn.


“Gentlemen, I have the pleasure of introducing Forge. At least, that is how I know you, Forge,†She winked at him. “Why not tell these lovely people your name and a bit about yourself?â€

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Thorfinn was waiting for the bearded mans reply when he felt the floorboards moving under his chair. He then saw the expression on the bearded mans face and looked in the direction he was staring at.

Thorfinn's mouth dropped, he had seen ogier from a distance but never this close. By the Light he's massive! Thorfinn had never seen anything as big, not even a Trollic. He was satring slacked jawed when Dilora jumped up and hugged the Ogier and could see that they knew each other. She jumped up onto a satge and started singing. Am I drunk? By the Light those axes are huge?

Dilora had finished her singing and was watching her bring the Ogier down to thier table where Thorfinn shuffled his chaior over and wathced the Ogier sit on the stage. The Giant sized tankard in hand. Dilora introduced him as Forge and funnily enough as a blacksmith. Do Ogier have blacksmiths?[/i]

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“Of course we have blacksmiths!†Forge answered good naturedly, as he set his travel pack on the ground with the axes carefully placed within reach. You could never be too careful these days, unfortunately. Finding a comfortable position to sit, he continued, “We Ogier may be bound to the stedding, but for the most part we have similar needs to you humans. Of course, we do things a bit differently than you do. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a human who listens to the Trees.â€


Lapsing into thoughtful silence as he sipped his ale, Forge almost forgot to introduce himself. “Ah, where are my manners? I am Hamar son of Dain son of Maddic, but please call me Forge.†He extended his hand in respect of their human greeting ritual, the hand shake, and waited for the two strangers’ responses. He tried to be extra careful not to squeeze their hands too hard.


As the room returned to its normal activities, Forge finally relaxed. Fortunately, he didn’t think anyone had noticed his embarrassment when Dilora had begun singing. He couldn’t believe she had made up a song about him! It was very flattering, but his ears had been twitching furiously when she sang about how big his hands were and how he had picked up Altie. Her joy was infectious, though, and he had quickly shared in her happiness. She was a very good singer and dancer, too. Forge knew a few steps of some Ogier dances and a few Treesongs, but he wasn’t very good at either one. Lily had often told him he sang like a bullfrog.


Thoughts of Lily dampened his mood, but he tried to play it off by staring into his tankard. He was surprised that they had an Ogier-sized mug here, but maybe that meant they had a room with a properly sized bed. It had been a while since he had slept in a real bed under a roof.


He missed Lily. She had been a gifted singer, and watching her dance was like watching the spring come after a hard winter.


He emptied his ale but didn’t ask for more, silently staring into the mug. Suddenly he felt very alone in the world of men…

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After the shock of meeting the giant Forge had passed, Tyosh decided the ogier was good people. Anyone who could listen to a song written completely about them, without interrupting it halfway through because of embarrassment was an incredible person or ogier in this case, in Tyosh’s book.


Dilora seemed absolutely delighted with her ogier friend and Thorfinn, by Tyosh’s judgment, was anxious to talk at length with Forge. But the Saldaean had no idea how to react. Actually he knew how to react; he just didn’t feel the need to react that way. He just saw another, slightly large drinking companion. Seeing everyone in awe of the ogier seemed silly, but maybe the ogier was expecting it. Tyosh just shrugged it off and took some of his brandy… mmmm this is pretty good.


As he looked around the table, he noticed that his newest ogier friend was looking a bit blue. Tyosh wasn’t one to normally try to cheer people up, but by the Creator, Hamar son of Dain son of Maddic was going to be lightened up by Tyosh Reuna!


“I don’t know about everyone… but after that little performance by Dilora, I’ve got a hankering for another good song! Maybe a duet, by a certain giant and small lady…and you really can’t say no, I know how well the ogiers sing. Can you really deny me that privilege and you Dilora after hearing you, listening to your sweet voice would be quite a pleasureâ€, said Tyosh with a voice that could only be said to be oily all the while smiling and gazing at his companions convincingly. He took a second to give Thorfinn a wink, he had a feeling Thorfinn and him were in for quite a spectacle.

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She could have taken the easy way out and said that she was too tired to think up songs, or had too much to drink, but the people were crying out for a good time and Dilora did not have the heart to put such a dampening spirit on it. Draining back some more of the brandy, she felt it’s raw heat trickle down her throat and warm her belly. A gasp, and the entire room looked at her. And Dilora looked right back, a grin on her face and blushes of red painting her cheeks. Light, it was warm in here!


“Let me think on it for a few moments, gentlemen, and I’ll get back on the stage. You can’t ask the performer to be on stage all night when she is not wearing a gleeman’s cape!†Dilora sat back in her chair and smiled at each individual ruddy-cheeked face around the table, and at Forge on the stage. Such a nice lot! She considered herself lucky to have such a good bunch of travelling companions, even though she loved the open road. If only Anton and Malic were here…


A drinking song - that was what was called for. Based on the four of them around the table and how they were. Her smiled widened to something feline as the words fell into the right place. If only the brew would allow her to recall the words to it so she could put it into her journal for future remembrance…


Four around a table sat,

And engaged in lots of nice chitchat.

They talked of journeys, life and that

The reason they were here.


Among their number was a lass,

With trouble not downing a glass,

She held her own against all class

Of men, and wine, and beer.


An Ogier tall sat on her right,

The crowd has suffered quite a fright,

On seeing how his fearful height

Had made them all steer clear.


A herbalist next in my merry tale,

Since there are some herbs in ale,

And hopefully he will not fail

To keep us in good cheer.


To complete our little brew quartet

A hunter ups the stakes to get

Things a little more merry yet,

With brandy so sincere.


The peddling girl gets up to sing

Of Ogier and mares on wing.

And while she does her Gleeman thing

The crowd swallows its fear.


To roaring cheers she took her seat

And drank half of her brandy neat

In one gulp, the taste so sweet:

Her throat stripped of veneer.


And so the laughter goes anon

Through drinking games and raucous song

The headaches follow on the morn

With overcautious fear

Ah, the pain of beer!


Getting up, Dilora sang her song right next to Forge, and occasionally twirling her skirts as the brew made her a bit more outgoing. She twirled and sang, and sang and then collapsed in a laughing heap against the Ogier. “I’m sorry, Forge!†Giggles ensued as she tried to stand and get back to the table. Light, definitely no more drink for her! “I need to sit somewhere quiet for a time. I might go to my room but I don’t think I can find it."

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Thorfinn watched as Dilora started singing a song which she must of just composed on ythe spot but with all theskill in it it sounded as if it had been composed back in the Age of Legends. She danced and twirled and collased against Forge. She's certainly got alout of spirit is this one.


Thorfinn then decided to finish the rest of his brandy and not have anymore as he didn't like waking up in the morning with a headache when there was work to do, and esspeacially when he was in this light forsaken city. By the Light it will be good to be out in the wild again. Thorfinn had never spent alout of time in towns or cities he very rarely spent time in the local villages of Two Rivers. The mattresses were always too soft and people kept asking if you were okay. It was too much attention for him.


As he heard that Dilora might retire to her room Thorfinn thought it a good idea to start asking question about the journey.

'Before you retire ma Lady, may i ask a few queations about the journey? Like how long will you need our services and should we need any extra supplies?' Thorfinn waved his had to include everyone in at the table.

'I would be glad to orginize any supplies needed for tomorrow. Oh, and what time are we heading out at?'............

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