Dark Fantasy LGBT Original Romance SciFi Straight Seeking Writing Partners

Sparks

Member
Joined
May 14, 2019
Location
United States
Welcome to my request thread and thanks for stopping by!

In the interest of saving us all some time, I'm going to get straight to who I am and what a writing partner can expect from me - and what I expect in return. I will get to the fun fluffy stuff after the boring introduction and requirements are out of the way~

About Me

I've been writing and roleplaying for roughly two decades. Fair warning: I'm not the most reliable partner. I'm an adult, though, so I will always communicate with my partner(s) if I am unable to post for more than a week.

I consider myself an aspiring novelist and hold word craft in high regard. I hope in that saying this I won't come off as some jerk, beholden to their ego: I promise, I'm not. I simply respect the power of stories. I value their power as a tool of escapism; amongst other things, of course, but for me...it's escapism. I want to get lost in the words we weave, I want to become my character and think and feel something beyond myself.

I am in favor of OOC conversation, mostly in the vein of plotting and world building. Always interested in other conversation, particularly if you want to discuss pre-2005 console gaming (mostly RPG related), MMOs, MTG, D&D, A Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thones, Star Trek or...well. Talk nerdy to me, chances are I will be in to it.

Preferred Genres: Fantasy (high or low), Superhero, Sci-fi.
I will consider modern or fan-fiction on an individual basis but generally speaking my interest is significantly less than it would be for those above. No historical, kthx.

Posting Frequency: I can commit to one post per thread per week. There is a potential for more though I'd rather promise less instead of setting unrealistic expectations.

Posting Length: Generally speaking, my responses are usually in the realm of 2,000-3,000 words (not counting introductions/openers, which can be even more ridiculous). I'm not opposed to shorter replies - story-wide or for particular scenes/interactions - but I'm a long-winded bastard so it's unlikely I can contain myself to less than a page at a time.

Acceptable Mediums: I will happily participate in threads or PMs, with a preference for threads. I'm a hard sell for roleplaying off site but will consider for the right partner.

Characters: I generally play a female lead - though I am equally interested in playing a male - with an assortment of NPCs. Also comfortable playing several full main characters. Willing to share NPC control with a co-author or am just as happy to play a DM type role. (I really like talking to myself! Dialogue is my bread and butter~)

Orientation: I tend towards MxF and MxM pairings; I'm open to FxF - it just takes a special kind of lady to get my attention - and transgender characters are more than welcome.

Likes: I have varied tastes. Vanilla romance? Great! Unapologetic non-con? Sweet! I'm not particularly into the S&M scene: I don't like inflicting or suffering (too much) pain*, but I do enjoy BSDM. Roughness and power struggles, in particular. I'd call myself a switch, though I don't see myself as being truly dominate or submissive. I'm just a person that likes sex, equally so regardless of if I'm under or on top or of equal footing. In any case I'm an aggressive/sexually confident sort.
*For clarification: biting, scratching, spanking, slapping, pushing, choking, these things are enjoyable; cutting, burning, whipping, or other such torture-type activity, not so fun.

Despite being a part of ERP writing forever, I still lack for a f-list. If you're curious for more details, send me a PM.

Hard No's: Infidelity, underage, incest, bestality, torture, snuff, bathroom play.

Expectations

If we're being honest (which we are, right?) I tend to take my projects a smidge too seriously. I understand that roleplaying is for fun, it's not like we're trying to publish a novel here, but... I need a partner who gives it their best effort. I don't ask for perfection. I will never belittle or point out misspelling or correct grammatical errors. I just ask that you care about the project we are creating together.

Patience: If you don't have it, we'll be a bad match. I'm a busy full time(+) working mother of two young children. All it takes is an illness within the household, and unrealistic work deadline, or a general healthy heaping of life to derail my creative projects. As stated above, I will reach out and let writing partners know if I am unable to post within a week. It isn't impossible that one week of shit turns into another week of shit and next thing we know it's been a month. I really really try not to let this happen, but...if it does? I need someone who can be understanding.

Availability: I give the same sort of patience I expect of my partners. If you can post once a week, awesome! If not, I appreciate (but do not require) a message on that note. If you are absent for a month or more with radio silence, chances are I'm still interested. I'm very forgiving.

Ability: I don't expect to write with a novelist. I make no judgement on others and their writing style, we all have beauty in our unique word craft. Whether you've roleplayed for less than a year or decades, I will greet you with open arms.

Word Count: The scene of a story may call for more, it may call for less. I have no minimum word count requirement, but... as above, please just put forth your best effort. I want detail. I want thoughts and feelings. Please don't one-liner me, it makes me sad in the face.

Characters: I'm not here to dictate who you are or what you play but I'd at least like to offer the fact that I am very much attracted to flawed characters. Perfection is boring. Asides from that note, creative license is yours!

Onwards!

Still with me? Okay, great! Let's get to the fun stuff~

Before I get in to my ideas: if you think we'd pair well together, but nothing below strikes your fancy, please send me a message! This isn't the Sparks Show: I'm just as interested in your potential stories as I am my own.

I'm going to keep these ideas pretty general as I prefer to build these stories with my partner. Rest assured, I have more details/ideas if anyone is interested!

There are a lot of potential lines here. I'm open to lighthearted or dark themes. Keep in mind the basic premise is enough to catch my interest so I am certainly willing to scrap my story ideas and start anew. But to give at least one idea:

Imagine a world in which the corporations control the government and own the media. A world in which scientific research focused on turning people in to weapons instead of curing diseases and saving the environment. As such, genetic modification and cyborg-enhancements are not uncommon. The corporations take the best of whatever power-bestowed mutants/creations they can get their hands on and turn them in to heroes. Heroes that are loved by the masses and covered extensively by the media. Heroes that...well. The deeper you get into the business, the easier it is to see that it's all a sham. Half of the villians are on the payroll, most encounters are totally staged. Very few heroes know this - most hold on to the glamour just as tightly as the public, as readily accepting the distractions as reality - but those that do know still manage to sleep comfortably in their mansions with their fanboys/fangirls just fine. For the most part.

I've been stuck on a story about a genuine villian (one not on corporation payroll, of course, and someone who seeks to destroy to the benefit of society as a whole) and a top-earner hero. So. The roles are reversed from the start: the "hero" is a corporate tool that does unspeakable things to further the agenda of their employer, though the media's selective coverage ensures that they are well loved by the public; while the "villain" seeks to destroy the established system because the corruption within is unfixable. I imagine the villain to be the honorable sort: going out of their way not to harm innocents, being a decent human being overall, that sort of thing.

There is a lot of daydreaming behind this idea so I can flesh out much much more. For the time being, however, I will say I envision this particular story going on the side of the hero jumping ship and joining forces with the villain. The how and why, well... If you're interested, ask, and I will text wall you. Also very open to discussing the plotting the finer details with a partner. Probably worth mentioning that I would intend to play the corporate tool.

This is a story of forbidden love between a highborn noble and the Warlord's bastard son. The noble, my character, took to an immediate infatuation upon meeting the young man: she witnesses his swordsmanship when she enrolls in the military academy and finds an insane attraction to his stoic demeanor. While her attempts to attach herself to his side is met with resistance (as he knows it isn't in her best interest to closely associate with him), she finds a work-around: she requests him for private instruction, a request that is granted by those that outrank the bastard and whom he cannot refuse. As such, the two spend ample time together throughout their teen years, Alexandria's skill improving greatly from the instruction and her romantic interest in the man only increasing with each season. Whether or not the feelings are mutual is likely a mystery to her, as the bastard no doubt knows better than to pursue a proper lady. Still. Alexandria essentially forces her friendship upon him, following him around or requesting his escort outside of their time at the academy on a consistent basis.

Start of the thread: Alexandria's house has fallen from grace, thanks to her father squandering their wealth and failing to pay his taxes to the King. The now prime-for-marriage aged woman (20-ish) left the city at the news, travelling home to collect some childhood belongings and a few family heirlooms. Most assume she wouldn't return, as most disgraced nobles seem to simply disappear into obscurity...but she returns to the city, intent on having that which she has always desired.

I would expect some resistance, regardless of how much the man might feel for her, perhaps with the hope that she can restore her family's honor and status (either through marriage or military career). He knows that giving her maidenhead to a bastard would cement her social ruin. Of course, Alex is blatantly forward, and no doubt at some point she'd be able to convince him to at least fool around, though she'd be constantly pushing to take it further.

Would also be interested in playing as a male noble in this scenario.

Please see the writing sample The Lotus Eaters - MMO in the following post. It wouldn't necessarily be that guild, or those characters - unless requested by my partner - but I think it gives a good idea of the general mechanics. I will try to briefly explain for those not interested in reading a text wall:

The MMO game exists in the player's mind. Assume some sort of brainwave intercepting/feeding headpiece (or a cable installed at the base of the skull, if we want to be more primitive about it); no real life body movement while the player is in-game. While logged in, the player feels what their character experiences. This translates to very painful combat and equally pleasurable sexy fun times.

Lots of potentials here: could be as simple as two guild members indulging in intimate company with each other, members of rival guilds having a secret relationship, or...well. Just about anything! A particular line that catches my interest involves a player and a bot: an artificially intelligent being that doesn't exist outside of the game, but has been created to emulate a player. Essentially their function would be to interact with the player base, join a guild and all that fun, with the mission of supplying raw feedback to the game creators. The being would be complex, their code perhaps even being copied over from previous games, whereas their personality is well developed and their capacity for emotion (though of course less than that of a biological being) is real. Could get interesting if an in-game relationship got to the point that one (the real life person, of course) suggests they meet outside of the game: of course the bot unable to do so, but also forbidden from revealing what they are no matter the circumstance. The penalty would be code deconstruction.

I imagine myself as playing the bot but I'd be open to a partner doing so instead if they are truly interested.

Gonna keep this simple: this idea would be for anyone who has watched/loved Star Trek (specifically TNG) or The Orville. The setting would be very similar, though I wouldn't expect a potential partner to know all the details of either show to participate. The alien races would be unique to our thread: if you want to be a Vulcan or Xelayan - awesome! - just name them something else and know that you'd need to establish their traits/histories/quirks within your writing.

I imagine a story upon an exploratory vessel with the mission of charting unknown space. While the assignment is honorable, certainly, it's uh...typically reserved for expendables. As such, the crew would be comprised mostly of misfits, or at the least the crew member would have a tarnished reputation or some falling of grace from within the Alliance (or whatever we name our version of the Federation/Planetary Union).

Would really really like to see an android/non-biological alien race involved in this, played by my partner. Not essential, just a craving. More inclined towards an android built to resemble a human (Data, TNG) but still very interested in whatever non-biological creations you wonderful writers might have in mind (Isaac, Orville, is a good source example)! I'd guess that this particular role couldn't be considered a misfit, exactly, but perhaps because they are so awesome and useful the Alliance strongly encourages or requires at least one on each exploration vessel.

((More ideas coming soon!))

Please do not respond to this thread! If you are interested, send me a PM.

Thanks for reading!
 
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Sparks

Member
Joined
May 14, 2019
Location
United States
Writing Samples

The field of battle was shrouded in the gray of a sinking sky; clouds hung between the trees, heavy and freezing. Refusing his body the right to shiver for warmth, Vaen clenched his jaw and deeply inhaled the bitter cold. He placed his hands on his hips and pushed back his shoulders. For a moment he simply stared forward, as if his steely blue eyes could exactly discern the location of their enemy despite the opaqueness of the choking mist.

He turned to face his party. “Is everyone ready?”

Nods were given in response, with only one member verbally acknowledging the question. “Indeed. Let us vanquish this foe!” The speaker gave a smile as she raised her hands before her chest, cupping her palms towards each other though not allowing them to touch. “May Renthenia bestow us Her favor,” she spoke as she cast her arms outwards. Pillars of light burst up from the ground, surrounding each party member in a cylindrical fashion, runic inscriptions within only faintly perceived. The luminescence dissipated once reaching the shoulders of the respective targets.

Vaen rolled his eyes and a few party members chuckled. The verbal component of Grey’s spell was not necessary, and everyone knew it, but of course the practitioner of holy arts insisted on theatrics. Vaen had tried to reason with the woman on several occasions – to no avail – and now it remained as a mostly uncontested annoyance...or a source of amusement, depending on the perspective. “Don’t encourage her,” the warrior chided.

“I’m inclined to remain in the priestess’ favor,” offered a woman in half plate. “And Renthenia’s,” she added with a smile towards Grey.

“No. We are not roleplaying right now.” He reached a hand over his shoulder, taking a hold of his shield while his other brandished a freshly drawn long knife. Granted, most tanks used a sword. But viiren, the smallest of the races in Therandane, were...well, simply too slight to equip such comparatively monstrous weapons. “Alex, you should know better. We have a dragon to fight.”

The honey haired woman shifted her gaze to Vaen, the sweep between him and the priestess being smoothly level for their likeness of race; Alexandria, meanwhile, stood approximately twice their height, requiring quite the inclination of her neck to look either one in the face. “What is this roleplay you speak of?” she asked with brows drawn together in seemingly genuine confusion.

Vaen frowned. “Seriously?”

“Come on, guys,” spoke up another. The man took several steps forward, towering the viiren more so than the armored woman. He was of olive skin and dark hair with the distinguishing pointed ears of a scient. “This is our first attempt and we need to take it seriously. If we can down him, server first is ours. Otherwise...I’m fairly certain the honor will go to the Order of the Five.”

“Oh, Raab. Don’t start.” Alex placed a hand on her hip as a frown tugged at the corners of her lips.

Server first,” he repeated definitively.

While this caused for the blonde woman to groan it had the opposite effect on the group’s leader. Vaen smiled and dropped his visor with his sword hand. “Let’s do this!” He held up his shield and actively wielded his blade. “We good to go?”

The group looked among themselves. No one seemed to have any objection but neither did any of them feel the need to call out their readiness.

“One shot! Come on, guys! We’re so close to gaining access to the King’s Gate – we have to do this!” rallied Raab. He drew his bow and fetched an arrow from his quiver, nocking the projectile in a single fluid motion. “Yequitzir is going down!”

Alex drew her swords with less vigor than the scient’s battle cry had encouraged. Still, she unsheathed her dual swords and held the blades at ready, giving Raab only a cursory glance before turning her attention to the main tank.

“Standard game plan. If adds pop, Alex will grab them. Burn the bastards down.”

“And watch out for red marks on the ground,” a hooded figure added dryly. She was almost completely obscured beneath a hooded crimson robe, with only the tip of her nose and mouth emerging from the shadow that was cast upon her face. Still, it was obvious she was looking directly at the last member of their party as she spoke.

“Fuck you,” the rogue responded in a tone that assured the mage had hit a button.

“I’m just saying. When the ground glows red, it means that something bad is going to –“

“That’s enough, Alyse,” Vaen cut in abruptly. The woman’s formerly neutral expression shifted to amusement, as if she had won some prize for landing a stab. “The two of you are… You know what? Now isn’t the time. We’ll talk about this more later, but for now: let’s all pretend to be adults on the same team, okay?”

“Of course,” Alyse agreed smoothly. She and the rest of the party turned their attention to the rogue. “What do you say, Olim?” the mage continued sweetly, as if she hadn’t been the one attempting to start a fight.

Olim frowned. His emerald gaze landed resentfully upon his cloaked companion, her stupid smile and her worse still aura of victory. The bitch found entirely too much enjoyment in embarrassing him, making him feel like a jackass when –

The rogue stopped himself. It wasn’t worth it. And so his sight shifted to his guild leader, to whom he nodded as he drew a set of daggers. “We’re good.” The grip of his hands tightened as he shifted the position of his weapons, causing for a dull yellow glow to emit from them.

Vaen returned the nod. “Excellent. We’re all set then?” A glance about the party ensured that everyone was equipped, though again no one gave a direct indication of their agreement.

Olim took a steady breath and focused his attention forward, to the fog which he couldn’t see a damned thing through. And so it wasn’t but moments before his attention drifted to his peripheral vision, to Alyse watching him with a continually smug grin upon her lips. He looked at her directly: she distinctly mouthed the words “you suck”, and…well. The blind rage inspired in him many things but the only reasonable response he could think of was to kick a conveniently placed rock at her.

“Ow!” The pebble struck the woman in the shin, hard enough for the crack to be heard by all. Alyse jumped back, as if she could avoid further damage from a tactical retreat. Meanwhile, accusing eyes were being placed upon the rogue when --

A deafening howl, the pitch of it somehow attuned to the frost, caused each player a stab of pain. The fog itself was crystallizing and the shock of the wail burst the cluster of shards apart, burying frozen daggers into the players’ flesh. As of the moment no blood was drawn; each strike caused for a flash of subdued light to appear as a second skin, an indication of damage absorption.

Vaen spun on his heel and charged beyond the party’s range of sight, his form disappearing in the matter of a dozen steps.

“Good pull, Olim,” Alyse spat as she took to a cautious jog.

Grey had spurred to a run just moments after Vaen, placing herself well outside of the right flank of Yequitzir as the tank turned him towards the back wall. As soon as her feet stopped moving she began to cast.

The remainder of the party was filtering into sight; Raab veered off to the dragon’s left side, a sprint carrying him quickly to his position. Olim and Alex had also taken to a run forward, though theirs had carried them directly to Yequitzir’s tail. It wasn’t that they had been careless, really; wilhel vision was shoddy compared to viiren or scient and so they did not see Yequitzir until it was that they were upon him.

“Watch out!” Alex warned as the dragon’s tail pulled to one side. She jumped back; both of her blades rising above her head to balance the maneuver, and the lash of the cerulean scaled tail just barely missed her.

Olim, meanwhile, had found distraction in Alexandria’s sudden yell. For less than a second he looked towards her, saw what it was she was screaming about, tried to evade the oncoming whip – but the moment’s hesitation doomed him to be struck in the stomach. It wasn’t until it hit him that he realized the tail was tipped by a barbed wrecking ball. Air smashed from his lungs, Olim expelled a noise somewhere between a grunt and a cry. A burst of blood soared from his mouth; as he flew back a crimson trail arched gracefully to mark the flight of his fall. His back struck the ground, hard, and the noise he made now was of sheer agony. His daggers had at some point escaped his grasp; he was only faintly aware of the clattering noise of their descent proceeding his own.

Alyse came within range of sight as Alexandria had called her warning, witnessed the brutal consequences of taking a hit from Yequitzir’s tail. An aura of light flickered and faded as Renthenia’s Blessing left the target. The yellow glow of Olim’s unequipped daggers dissipated, as well: not to mention the pour of blood from the corner of the man’s mouth as he lay on his back. As if that weren’t enough it seemed that Yequitzir intended to monopolize on the situation – the fearsome dragon loosed another terrible howl. The piercing of the frozen shards caused Olim to call out in pain, his lack of divine protections allowing the daggers to draw blood from his pierce his flesh.

The mage rushed forward, her eyes searching for Grey. The viiren was facing the scene, her eyes closed and wisps of light surrounding her form. The streaks were of random intensity and speed, creating a dance of shadows upon the caster. In the time it took for the healing spell to go off Alyse gathered Olim’s daggers and approached him. He was kneeling, climbing to his feet despite his near-death damage. A burst of light radiated from him as he stood erect. The stains of battle did not leave him but the effect of full health was nevertheless obvious.

His eyes fell on the offering of his weapons, his sight trailing briefly to Alyse’s face. His inability to read her expression made him assume the worst: she thought he was a fool – she had said as much enough times in the past, to be certain. The wilhel snatched his daggers from her with narrowed eyes before turning about-face. He took off at a sprint and carefully skirted to the dragon’s flank.

The robed woman proceeded to place herself nearer to Grey, relative to the dragon’s side, while keeping at least ten meters away from all allies. It was a good default positioning until the time that some mechanic or other required grouping. As the ranged dps moved she clenched her fists, an orange glow emanating from the creases of her gathered hands; it wasn’t until several unintelligible utterances later that her fingers burst away from her palms, tongues of flame springing in their wake. Once still, the woman fostered the fire, whispered in what could only be compared to demonic tongues. Her hands met on her right side, their closeness allowing the flames to separate from her skin and meld together into a tumultuous orb. Slowly, her touch pulled apart, expanding the sphere.

“Fuck!” Vaen cursed. Yequitzir’s claws slammed into and scraped his shield. The monster howled angrily, causing another stab of the frozen fog, before it followed up with a swipe. “Heals?!” he called.

Grey managed to scowl without opening her eyes or disrupting her spell but she resented the tank for a moment. The heal popped in less than a second after he’d finished whining. “You know I’m on it!” she called defensively. “You’re not the only one taking damage!”

“Everyone else stop taking damage! God damn!” The male viiren thrust his long knife forward, catching the dragon’s front paw as it sought to slash against him. A high pitched shriek filled the chamber.

...Followed by the appearance of a mass of whelps.

Unlike many other MMOs, in this one it was difficult to exactly discern adversary triggers. Very few seemed to have specific abilities at damage thresholds. Such as, say, summoning whelps at 99.9% health…as could have been but wasn’t the case here. Such predictable measures were a thing of the past. Advances in artificial intelligence at the hands of Legendary Inc. made certain that no boss encounter, or even average mob, would allow for some predetermined dance to defeat them. They reacted as a fully competent player. But while it is all very interesting, and the depths of which may be later explored, for the time our heroes had not the want to reflect on the intelligence of what now faced them.

Alex moved to intercept the incoming adds. Once within range of the first wave she slashed a single blade in a horizontal arcing motion, a trace of light appearing in the wake of the steel. The bend of luminance traveled forward, seemed to soak into and pass through the young dragons. They gave a shrill cry and turned their attention to the blade dancer. A few took to flight, others charged towards her legs.

Even with all damage focused upon the whelps it was nearly five minutes before they were burned down. Meanwhile, Grey’s mana supply had been considerably diminished, despite her efficiency as a healer and Alex’s abilities as an evasive off-tank.

Just as the players reorganized their combative efforts upon Yequitzir the dragon gave another piercing shriek, summoning a fresh wave of whelps.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” Alex muttered. With a heavy sigh she moved to intercept.

Grey frowned. It was impossible to know how many waves there would be, or how often they’d be summoned. One thing that was certain, though, was that her mana pool wouldn’t hold out for much more of this extra mobs fuckery business. She bit her lip and pulled back on the heals, relying as much as possible on HOTs.

“Too close!” Vaen called after several minutes. “A crit and that would’ve been a wipe, Grey.”

The healer growled. “I’m going to run out of mana at this rate,” she called back defensively. “I’m not dropping any overheal.”

“…Do whatever you think you need to do. Just don’t let me die.”

“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Grey responded drily.

Raab surveyed the situation. Even with the healer’s conservation efforts…they were clearly fucked. He watched the rate at which Vaen and Alex were taking damage, made a quick assumption on how much mana was being used by the healer to keep them both up. They’d have…maybe north of five minutes? It was going to take roughly half of that time to finish clearing the whelps.

…And then what if another wave was immediately called?

“Disengage, Alex!” Raab drew back an arrow, the projectile weapon taking on a bright white glow.

The blade dancer spared him a glance. Her expression conveyed that she was both confused and likely to not obey the order.

“I’m going to kite,” the ranger explained in a I-don’t-have-time-to-explain tone.

Alex scoffed.

“Do it! Do it now!” Vaen commanded. “Grey, focus heals on me!”

Just as Raab released his arrow, the projectile loosed towards the heavens, Alex swept the tips of her blades against the ground and gracefully tumbled backwards. The maneuver was enough to cause the whelps to drop hate, who very shortly thereafter were suitably pissed off at the ranger’s rain of arrows.

Raab turned and ran while Olim and Alyse shifted their focus to the main boss. The scient would be on his own now, leading the mass of whelps on a chase, utilizing his sprint and limited snare traps to keep a few steps ahead of being ripped apart by the frenzied death machines.

Roughly half an hour later - during which time Raab ran perpetual wide circles, remaining obscured from the party through the fog, only occasionally emerging to cry for Alyse to drop an AOE slow -Yequitzir had been vanquished. It hadn’t been a pretty fight for the team…and towards the end of it an eruption of a bickering and blaming broke out between the members, causing for several more-than-necessary near-death experiences. As intense (an amusing) as the re-telling of those arguments here would be, we will move on to what most would consider reality.

==========

Server Only!” a dark haired woman called happily. “Can you believe it?”

“We are pretty bad-ass,” responded one of her companions. The man was tall, enough so that it was noticeable even as he was seated. “All thanks to you, Ari.”

“Pfft!” the rebuttal – if it could in fact be considered as such – was meant to be humble. “Way I see it, all I did was run in circles whilst failing to contribute to the dps charts.”

“Don’t let Alyse hear you say that,” spoke a blonde man bitterly. “She’d be more than happy to take all the credit for downing Yequitzir.”

“Now, now, Milo,” the tall man chided. “Don’t be all butt-hurt that she topped your damage.”

“It’s not about that,” Milo frowned and took a drink of his beer. “Everyone realizes she’s a total bitch, right?”

Eye rolling and groans were given from around the table.

“This again…” spoke a fourth to the party. The woman was unmistakably related to the tall man, sharing his height and features. His hair was fiery red, and hers a dishwater blonde, while their porcelain skin and sharp blue eyes were very tell-tale of their shared heritage. “When will you two kiss and make-up?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, Marja, but I’m not at all interested in…relations…with that woman.”

“The sexual tension between you and Alyse is thick enough to cut with a knife,” Ari added with grin. “You don’t have to admit to anything, we know it’s true.”

“Piss off, you old fuckers don’t know anything.”

The tall man gave an amused laugh. It was true that everyone at the table, save for Milo, was thirty or better. The young man they were ribbing was only months beyond being old enough to drink. “You at least realize she’s in to you, right?”

“…No she’s not,” Milo countered as if he was being baited.

“Oh, for sure!” agreed Marja. “Soren is right,” she opened a hand towards the tall man, as if there could be any confusion as to who Soren was. “It’s like watching children pull each other’s hair because they don’t know how to respond to being in like.”

“It totally is!” Ari laughed boisterously. “Oh my god, you nailed it!”

“Why do I hang out with you bastards?” Milo muttered, his eyes focused on a drained shot glass.

“Because we’re cool adults,” offered Soren. “We help you get pretty loot and buy you drinks. What more could you want?”

“It’d be nice if you’d talk about something else. I mean…what about Ari? She’s openly admitted that she hasn’t gotten laid for over three years. Why the hell would we be discussing my sex life?”

The dark hair woman looked at Milo with the shock of betrayal. “Hey now, there’s nothing interesting about—“

“That’s right!” chirped Marja. “We were all so hammered I nearly forgot!”

“It’s not a big deal,” Ari tried to curb the conversation.

“It is a psychological issue?” Milo asked with a smirk. “It has to be, right? Obviously you could get fucked if you wanted to.” He gave an appraising glance at her body.

“I just…like to play my games and run my store. I don’t have time for a relationship.”

“Yeah? What does fucking have to do with a relationship?”

Ari tilted her head slightly to one side, studying Milo for a moment before responding in earnest. “Everything.”

“…So it is a psychological issue.”

“Shut up and go get us some drinks,” Ari grumbled as she tossed a couple of twenties at the young companion.

“Just because you guys pay for my drinks…and food…doesn’t mean I’m your little server-boy.” Despite his argument, though, Milo was already standing and taking the money. He didn’t need to ask what anyone wanted; he knew their tastes well enough.

As the man departed Marja continued their conversation. “Are you afraid of another Rhion, Ari? Listen, I know he broke your—“

“Don’t. Talk. About. Rhion.” Ari’s dark eyes were focused intensely on Marja as she pronounced each word so harshly that she punctuated each.

“Oookay,” Marja put up her hands to physically signal her surrender.

“Holy shit, it is really still a thing? Sweetheart, you’ve got to get over—“

“I will cut you, Soren.”

The two remaining party members gave each other a glance. They both ceased to speak.

Milo returned after several moments. He surveyed the table. “Jesus fuck you guys are awkward without me, aren’t you?”

“It’s your dazzling personality and wit,” Ari responded. She held out a hand expectantly for her beer.

Milo handed it over. He wondered what had transpired in his absence, of course, but he wasn’t the type to dig.

“Well aren’t we a chipper bunch?” spoke a new voice as Milo had finished passing out the drinks.

“Oh hey, Sarah!” greeted Soren.

“You’re late,” complained Ari.

“I had to shower,” Sarah explained. “I hadn’t in, like…a week.”

“I believe the same could be said for everyone at this table,” commented Soren. The entire group had used vacation time from work to play the release of their game, which is the only way their guild could accomplish what it had. Taking down Yequitzir had been a world event trigger – one that wouldn’t be repeated, as the dragon’s demise meant that King’s Gate could be opened and Yequitzir’s lair ceased to exist; the latter of this information unknown to the players prior to the server message that accompanied their victory.

“I’m surprised none of us suffer from muscle atrophy,” marveled Marja.

“We have five days left before you two go back to work, right?” Ari looked at the pair of siblings hopefully. They played the tank and the healer so their availability was paramount.

“Yeah.” Soren answered. He thought to add: we have no intention of playing two of those days, though. But he knew it would cause an argument and there was no reason to cross that bridge right now. Ari would just have to find out that they were taking a break when they went on break.

“Awesome!” the woman responded happily.

“I only have a couple of days left,” Milo sulked. “You bastards better not gear up Alyse a shit-ton while I’m offline.”

“She doesn’t need us to get gear. What do you think she’s doing right now? Running PUGs, of course, working up that item level…” Ari spoke with a teasing grin.

Milo scoffed. “Sounds like someone doesn’t have a life…”

“Good one.” Ari spoke flatly, making a cheering motion with her beer before taking a draft.

“You didn’t get me a drink,” Sarah observed suddenly.

“You weren’t here,” Milo retorted.

Sarah pouted. After several moments of Milo ignoring her passive get me things request she went up to the bar herself. When she returned she asked, “So Alyse isn’t joining us tonight, I gather?”

“She’s only nineteen,” Marja reminded. “We’re hanging out in a bar.”

“Oh…right.”

“To business, then?” Ari suggested.

“This isn’t a guild meeting,” Soren responded.

Ari ignored him. “It’s unknown what waits for us beyond King’s Gate…except that there will be a festival in the honor of the Lotus Eaters, courtesy of the royal family. But once the scripted reward ceremonies are concluded…we’re on even ground with the Order of the Five.”

Soren raised a brow. It seemed his friend had an unnatural competitive grudge against this other guild and he wasn’t entirely sure how it developed. As the guild leader of the Lotus Eaters, perhaps he should address his officer and figure out where the animosity was coming from. “So?” he baited.

“So we need to identify the next significant target or quest and beat them to the conclusion.”

“You know we can’t keep up this pace, right?”

“Yeah so…let’s lock in as many server firsts as we can! We can calm it down when we have to.”

The others at the table exchanged glances. They could calm it down. Ari, however…?

“I think the King will approach us about joining his cause,” Ari continued, unaffected. “I think we should decline, although I think that would put us at an immediate disadvantage. If we are the righteous that we claim to be, however, it’s really our only option.”

“You want to oppose the King, given the chance?” Marja questioned.

“Given the chance? It’s guaranteed that the next phase will be about civil unrest and politics. I have no doubt that we will see several player factions evolve, all of which will probably have their own system of---“

Ari trailed off. Her eyes had attached to something – or rather, someone – and over the course of several seconds she had forgotten that she was speaking. The guildmates followed her gaze as it drifted across the room, finding a woman with short platinum hair.

“Oooh, she’s pretty!” remarked Marja in her usual carefree way.

Ari’s awareness snapped back to the table. They were all looking at her, at this woman that instantly caught Ari’s interest. “Don’t look at her!” she chided in a hushed whisper.

“Why not? She is pretty,” remarked Soren.

“Well…er…don’t all look at her at the same time!”

“Afraid she’ll notice us?” asked Milo.

Ari wasn’t sure how to respond to that. So she didn’t.

“You should go talk to her,” suggested Sarah.

“Nope.”

“It would probably be good for you to meet someone new,” Marja urged gently.

“Not interested.”

“That looked pretty interested to me,” remarked Milo. “Anyone that can get you to shut your mouth for even seconds has got to be something, right?”

Ari frowned.

“You know we’re not going to drop this. Go talk to her,” advised Soren.

“Yeah, go spend the night trying to get into someone’s pants. Like a normal unattached adult,” spoke Milo.

“I can’t. …We have King’s Gate tomorrow, and we should get an early start at it…”

“What does tomorrow have to do with tonight? You already planning to make her breakfast?”

Ari shot a leer in Milo’s direction. “Fine. I’ll go talk to her. But nothing is going to come of it, okay? You guys are just wasting our time…”

“Shut up and go,” the blonde man gave a dismissive gesture.

“And leave your insecurities at the table,” added Marja helpfully. “You’re gorgeous, she’s gorgeous…you’d be perfect together.”

“Yeah. I bet she’s just hot for nerds, too. My limited topics of conversation won’t bore her at all.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“She was being sarcastic,” Soren explained to his sister.

“I know!” Marja spoke defensively. “But it’s nice to pretend that we’re a positive group of people sometimes.”

Her friends continued to chatter but Arianna Cain didn’t hear a word of it. She was walking away from her comfort zone, dark eyes attached to a woman she believed to be entirely too beautiful and put together to have anything to do with herself. The platinum haired angel was impeccably dressed, her form fitting, perfectly tailored, and pressed clothing suggesting a sense of fashion that Ari simply couldn’t match. She, meanwhile, wore a t-shirt. A black one, comfortable and loose, with a golden Triforce centered on her chest. She paired it with a wide pleaded skirt, medium gray in color, over-the-knee black socks, and knee high boots.

The woman was leaving the bar, drink in hand. She set off through the crowd of people, in what Ari hoped was a search for somewhere to sit rather than in search for a particular person. Was she meeting someone here? Was Ari going to look like a complete ass, pursuing the woman purely on physical attraction, probably within only minutes of her arriving?

What was she going to say? She tried to think of some pick-up lines.

She failed.

Ari watched the woman’s trajectory, managing to skirt around and then cut into the crowd so as to step out in front of the other’s path. She did so with enough distance that her appearance wouldn’t be startling. She waited until the woman made eye contact, stopping as an immediate around route wasn’t available.

“Hi, I’m Ari.” She offered a hand. After a pause, giving the woman a chance to reply, she continued. “Just so there’s no confusion… I’m introducing myself with the hope that you’re single. …And interested in women.”

“Come – it will be fun!”

“Don’t lie to me.”

The first speaker, a slender woman of moderate height, pouted. “Okay, fine. We’re going because I want to! And you can have a drink and I won’t even force you to make conversation with me. In fact I’d rather you keep your mouth shut so I overhear some stories.”

“God damned sylphs,” the dark skinned man spit the last word like venom. “Why do you need to be in everyone’s business?”

“Why are you an outcast who can’t make better friends?” she countered with narrowed eyes.

“Because I’m a drow.”

“And so,” the woman wrapped her arm around his and looked up at his face. The man stood approximately 6’, over a full head taller than his companion. “The drow will come with the sylph to the tavern. And he won’t bitch, or moan...he’ll just come along because he such enjoys my company.”

He sighed reluctantly and shifted his crimson and pupil-less eyes to the woman. “Even if I agree, we’re broke. How do you expect us to blend in with the drunks if we’re without the means to properly take on the guise?”

“Oh come now, don’t be stupid.”

Eyebrows as white as fresh snow descended on his charcoal gray face. The scowl of a drow was extremely obvious, for their natural contrast – and for some reason it always made Lissi giggle when she incurred such an expression from her companion. A reaction he despised, for certain.

“Sure, the last mystery didn’t yield us vast riches...but I am a rogue. I can’t buy a mansion from picking pockets but I can sure as hell lift enough to feed us and get us drunk.”

“And so we’re reduced to this.”

She placed her hands on her hips, pulling away from their arm lock to accomplish the position. “Don’t start, Elliott!” Which was his human name, since he so much hated his origins. Lissi wasn’t even sure what his given name was. “You know, you’re climbing pretty high on that pedestal, buddy. I don’t like it. People like us can’t afford honor.”

Elliott lifted a hand to his temple. There was a crack in the dam and he really didn’t need to weather another flood. Especially on this common topic of contention. “Just...stop talking. Please. I’ll come with...whatever it takes, just...don’t let’s start.”

Lissi smiled at her victory, spun on her heel, and began walking in front of her friend.

He was such a good friend, in fact, that she was going to make sure he didn’t starve on his honor diet. Again. And he could just stay perched on his high horse; look down on her for being a thief while living from her ill gotten gains.

...Well, okay. Maybe he wouldn’t die without her. He could perpetually camp in the forest, hunt rabbits and...be the hermit he was when Lissi stumbled upon his solace. But that was no way to live! People weren’t meant to be alone. Elf, human, dwarf, orc, half-whatever...it didn’t matter. Elliott would have gone fucking mad in the wilderness on his own. He had really wanted to stay there, too. Lissi found herself as an unwanted guest for two seasons before she convinced him to explore the world and its treasures and mysteries with her.

That had been seven years ago, though it only felt like days.

-----

Elliott exited his hut, his eyes immediately searching the area of his fire pit. It was dusk, and so there remained yet a slight haze of light – but not nearly so much that it caused the drow a loss of vision. It was mere seconds before his sight settled on her. “You’re still here?” he asked disdainfully.

The chestnut haired woman turned her attention, a ridiculously bright smile coming to her face. “Of course I’m still here! I told you, I’m quite stubborn.”

He groaned and approached. “We’re done.” He wrapped a strong hand around her upper arm, which was thin enough for his fingers and thumb to well overlap each other. He jerked her to her feet.

“Hey! What the hell, man?” She tried to pull her arm from his grasp. Despite her extremely slight, wispy form, she had a fair amount of strength. Just not as much strength as Elliott. She growled and tried to extract herself again, this time her alternate hand assisting by attempting to pry his grasp open. "Let me go!"

The drow felt an angry gust of wind. Except it wasn’t the wind – it was the sylph, a tempering of the air that surrounded her. Lissi’s cloak took to one side of her body, not quite violently enough to cause for a snapping sound. Her hair – and his, in fact, shifted in such a way that suggested a mini-vortex was surrounding the woman’s lithe form.

“No – you’re leaving.” He jerked her away from the fire pit, leading her towards what he considered the edge of his territory.

She screamed. Like a child in sheer panic being abducted by a stranger. No one would hear her, though. The sylph twisted her body and set her feet into the ground, leaning towards the fire pit as she tried to drag herself back towards it. She had given up on recovering her arm – it now was a game of tug-of-war. And Lissi wasn’t winning.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” He asked suddenly, releasing (or maybe even pushing) her.

She stumbled forward, barely catching her feet. She spun towards him. The tornado of air that surrounded her pulled her cloak against her body, then slipped the material over her form until it snapped out behind her. Her long tresses remained suspended, seemingly in the eye of the storm. It floated over her shoulders, shifted gently in the ever-moving air. “Nothing is wrong with me – it’s all you!”

“What’s wrong with me is moot. How is it that you think it’s any of your business?” The drow crossed his arms, leaning his graceful form back by a single degree.

The sylph was dumbstruck. The ferocity of the wind subsided slightly as she considered him. She had expected an assault to her character, for him to continue to demand that she leave; not for him to give her an opening. “By all rights, it’s not. But – you seem interesting. I told you, tell me your story, and I’ll leave.”

“Your obsession with the lives of others is truly disturbing.”

She shrugged. “Yeah, okay.”

“...And I still don’t want to talk about it.” He started towards the fire pit.

Lissi’s wind was all but gone now. She turned as Elliott walked passed her. “And I’m still unwilling to leave your company until you tell me. You’re the only drow I’ve met, I know next to nothing of your people...and I need to!” She chased after him. “Why are you being so difficult about this?”

He stopped abruptly. Lissi slammed into his back, making a small ‘umph’ noise. Elliott pivoted to face her, took a hold of both of her shoulders, shook her a little. “Why won’t you just leave me the fuck alone?!”

She giggled.

“What?” his expression softened slightly in confusion.

Lissi’s giggle escalated into a laugh. Elliott looked at her as if she were mad...and maybe she was. His strong hands fell away from her shoulders and he took a step back. When the woman recovered, she looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry – it’s just...” She started laughing again. “Oh gods, I’m sorry. Your face...” she trailed off for a second, giggles threatening to bubble up again.

“What about my face?” he asked, more than a little offended.

“Oh...nothing about your face – you’re a handsome...drow. That’s just the first time you’ve given anything other than a neutral expression, and...it was funny.”

He shook his head and turned away from her again.

“Don’t be mad!” She was right on his heels. “I meant no offense!”

“Everything about you is offensive.”

“...I’m sorry.”

Elliott seated himself on a cut tree trunk that served as a chair. He looked exhausted. And this was just the start of his day.

“You know...you could just come with me.”

He gave her a puzzled look.

“Yeah! Be travel companions...get you out of this hovel.”

“I like my hovel.” It was obvious he disliked her choice of word, there.

“It’s really sad, I assure you.”

He sighed and cast his eyes 180 degrees to his left.

“You can’t live like this. I understand the whole reclusive thing every now and again... But you can’t expect to live the rest of your life in solitude. You’re young, right? ...You look young.”

“I’m 121.”

The sylph’s lips widened. A fact! “Very young. Surely life has more to offer you than...this.”

“That’s just it – it doesn’t.”

“Why?”

He shook his head.

She sighed. “I’m not asking you to join society, here. Maybe you’re confused. Continue to be an outcast...I don’t care. I can make supply runs into towns and cities – and you can eat better than a wolf and pretty much still be feral.”

“Pretty much?” He reluctantly turned his face back towards her.

“Well. You could try being half nice to me. I don’t know if you’re aware but you’re kind of a dick.”

He laughed.

“...If you come with...I could finally pursue some of these leads!” She rushed to find her knapsack, from which she pulled a trove of papers. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m kind of small. Quick, smart...and people love me, asides from you...but I’m not capable of chasing relics on my own.” She rifled through the papers until finding the one she wanted. She stuffed it towards Elliott. “Please, Elliott? I’ll try to be less offensive and I’ll split the takes 70/30.”

If I agreed, it would be for nothing less than 50/50.” He glanced at her paper, but did not take it.

“But...I’m the one doing all the research! These are my maps, my puzzles and mysteries...”

“And you just told me you couldn’t do it by yourself.”

“Fuck!”

“I’m being fair. I could demand more.”

“60/40?”

“No.”

“...55/45?”

Elliott didn’t even deign it with a response.

She sighed. “Fine. If 50/50 will convince you to leave this hove—your home...then so be it.”

He offered a hand and they shook. Lissi then was more insistent with the document, waving it subtly in front of him. It wasn’t a map, rather a block of text.

“I don’t read common.”

“...Don’t?”

“Cannot.”

She stared at him for a moment before finding herself a seat. “I’ll read it to you, then.”

“I’d really rather you didn’t.”

-----

Yes, their friendship had always been a combative one. But it worked for them, even when their adventures were unsuccessful. Neither hated the other – and in fact held some love. Just not in any romantic sense. Wandering the world, the pair of outcasts had evolved into a fucked up little family.

They entered the tavern without consequence – no one cared about anyone else in Last Bastion. Even a drow could wander into a bar without a single eye coming their way; in fact it was the only established city (or hell, even town) Lissi could convince Elliott to appear. They tended to stay in the vast wilderness in the surrounding area, if they weren’t off chasing treasures and adventure. There was some comfort in feeling like they had a home, even if they rarely stayed in the same place for very long. Lissi scanned the crowd without appearing to do so, and after a moment she looked back at her companion.

“Choose us a seat,” she gave a down-sweeping extension of her arm to invite him to walk ahead of her.

She knew where he would go. The dark booth in the corner – only one of such existing conditions was open. As Elliott started for the location, Lissi scanned their pathing and chose a target. The heaviest coin purse in the joint was attached to the hip of a half orc, a brutishly large one that was so sure of himself that he let his money dangle in full view.

...But it was too much. He didn’t appear to be wasted. With his wits about him he’d find the purse missing and make a big scene over it. Lissi might be a thief, but even believing she could escape his wrath, some poor fucker or fuckers would surely suffer for it. That was the stuff of bad karma.

And so as Elliott approached the man, Lissi deftly slid a foot in front of his – his left, since the half orc was on that side. She added a shove to make sure there’d be a collision.

Elliott not only stumbled but full on hit the man with his body. Immediately the man turned, his mug half spilled on himself and the table in front of him. In less than a second the half orc was standing. His hateful gaze was focused on Elliott, who he promptly shoved in the chest. “Watch it, drow!” As a hand returned from the shoving motion it settled on his sword hilt. Unbeknownst to the involved parties, Lissi had already lifted the man’s coinpurse – as he stood she slipped between him and the table across from his. She scurried through hurriedly, like a passerby that didn’t want to get involved. He didn’t hear the cut of the strings over all the rage of his mind over the insult of a collision with a stranger.

As the slight woman continued towards the corner booth Elliott had picked out for them she was certain no one had seen her handiwork. Her cloak shielded almost half of the room as she turned towards the half orc, his body nearly the other half, and...well, the man was obviously about to kick Elliott’s ass. And so Lissi felt she had successfully evaded all attention.

“It was clearly an accident,” Elliott spoke calmly. “I’m sorry to have tripped and spilled your beer but I’ll gladly replace it. And give my apologies, of course.”

“You going to dry my clothes too, bitch?”

The drow’s eyes narrowed. “Perhaps you should remove your hand from your weapon or I might start to consider such as a threat.”

The half orc sneered and drew the blade. “Or you’ll do what, exactly?”

Elliott glanced briefly around the surrounding patrons. Less than you’d think were even paying attention – brawls broke out all of the time. “He drew,” Elliott pointed out to a man that appeared to be in employ of the tavern; a bouncer that was supposed to break up or even prevent fights like the one that was about to start. “I take it is in my right to put him down?”

“If you can, sure,” the human man responded with a doubtful chuckle. The half orc was a regular and not one to be trifled with – but he was generally on good terms with the tavern and was unlikely to turn his violence to anyone other than those dumb enough cast an insult his way. Plus, he willing paid for damages when he caused them. From the bouncer’s perspective, the spectacle would be entertaining and harmless. Well. For all but the one, anyway.

The drow was dressed in a simple set black dyed leather armor with dark gray colors peeking out from beneath the breaks at his joints and waist. He had a bow and quiver upon his back, and a pair of long knives at his hip. Despite them being available, he did not draw a weapon; they were in a public establishment, after all. His eyes returned to the half orc, who was sneering at him with sword at ready.

“You’re going to put me down, huh? Well? Let’s see it!”

Elliott leapt forward, fist drawn back in a practiced recoil – though he had no intention of making contact. He knew that the second his feet touched the ground he’d need to evade a slash of the blade; and so he did just that. One swing led to another, and with no steel or shield to defend himself, Elliott quickly found himself moving backwards in order to avoid the half orc’s blade. The aggressor seemed to take pleasure in his target’s willingness to run, enjoying the play that would undoubtedly lead to his victory. A well placed vertical slash forced Elliott to jump to the side, bumping his flank into a table. In one fluid motion the sword wielder drew back his blade and thrust forward, aimed directly at the drow’s midsection. It grazed the ranger’s stomach when he turned aside at the last moment, both his hands moving to the side of the other man’s head. The half orc’s forward propulsion, and resulting over extension when his opponent evaded, made it about impossible for him to counteract the sudden forceful shove on his face. Elliott’s entire body assisted in the motion, carrying in a graceful arc to slam the man’s head against the table.

It knocked him out cold. He slumped over immediately, smeared his face down and over the edge of the table to crumple on the floor.

Elliott looked to the bouncer and shrugged. With raised brows the human simply gave him a nod.

The drow made his way to the table, glancing back at the half orc after seating himself across from Lissi. A couple of men had the unconscious one by the arms, were in the process of dragging him out the front door. That altercation would have consequences, Elliott knew.

“You’re a bitch,” he spoke without looking at the sylph.

“Shhh!” A hand and forearm appeared from under her closed cloak. Upon her pale flesh were wisps of blue color, markings of her heritage. It was all over her body, with two spikes of blue arcing across her face, inwards from the base of her ears to the middle of her cheek bones. The color about perfectly matched her eyes. She deposited several coins on the table before her hand retreated back into the folds of her coverings. “Go get us drinks, would you?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me...”

She shook her head and waved her hand dismissively. Her eyes left him, staring off nonchalantly in the distance as she listened intently to some conversation.

Elliott sighed and remained for several long moments. He’d be a fool, seating himself to just get back up again, but from the looks of the waiting staff he wasn’t a priority so it seemed unlikely he’d receive refreshment otherwise. Reluctantly he slid himself out of the booth, his posture proud as he walked across the room to approach the bar.

The bar keep was busy and Elliott had not physical assets to attract his attention. So instead he threw out several gold coins onto the bar. When the tip was gleamed the man came running. “Two stout ales and a couple shots of something hard, my good sir.” When the order was delivered the drow tipped back one of the shots and placed it face down on the mat before the bartender. He tossed enough coins to cover the purchase plus an additional tip. He wanted to get decent service for the remainder of the night, after all. He looked thoughtful for a moment, then drank another shot. Lissi didn’t need liquor, anyway.

He lingered there. He had no interest in talking to anyone, really, but it was nice to get away from the sylph every now and again.
 
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