Hyperborea Rising

Chapter 5
Boons and Curses

We decided it was time to make use of the deck that we had been carrying with us for a long time, waiting for the best moment to make use of the boons it would bring us. Everyone daring to make use of the deck was given boons, and there were some curses given out as well. I was given the power to heal at will, but it came with a two-fold challenge, one immediate as a spirit of darkness attacked me, but it was vanquished, but not before bringing a companion to fight Arcay. The second part of the challenge was to steal my voice away, tempering me to let my personality grow even stronger, and it worked out, I’m feeling much more charismatic than I was before. Our adventures continued to the east, until we reached the distant lands of China, the homelands of Ji Ning and my place of birth. I can notice that he has became even less energetic than usual since we got here. I know he has some dark stories from his past, I think it is just that going home brings these memories to the front of his mind. I will do what I can to help him, but this might be something out of my control, something unrelated to me that he has to work out on his own.

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Chapter 4
Starting to get used to writing

After finishing the endeavors of last chapter we decided to return to the surface in order to rest up and prepare ourselves for continued exploration of these ruins. I was still good to go but understanding the limits of some of our party members, surely weighed down by hundreds of copper pieces, we returned to the surface to find a strange man in our camp. He claims to be an artist, painting at most times, no matter the circumstances so I’m leaning towards accepting his identity. As befitting of people of our stature we acted as gracious hosts towards him. After resting up we continued on our adventure underground, this time bringing the newcomer with us as that was his wish. We managed to find the chamber with the spear in it, and it was almost within our grasp, but our nemesis, the evil part of Karzak, had hired a mercenary to take the spear before we could and the slipped away just before we could reach them. But with with our combined wisdom and skills we managed to track the mercenary down, and arranged a meeting with him where we could meet up and make business. Realizing that the man was of little danger to us, and let myself be charmed by his magic. My group was directly willing to start a fight, but in the end we found common ground, and made a good, new friend in the end.

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Chapter 3
Writing is getting a bit easier

After leaving the abode of Nurgle we continued on our original quest, and ended up in the ruins of an abandoned city in which we think we may found our prize. Realizing that none in our party had prepared for a large scale excavation local villagers were hired at a reasonable wage to help us out, and after a few days the building we were most interested in was made available to us. Inside the building was a massive ladder which we climbed down. It was much longer than we were expecting and at the bottom we continued onwards, noting that the materials of this place was not from our plane of existence, we think it comes from one of the many hells. As such we were prepared to fight the hideous fiends from that plane of existance, and we were right to be. We slew hordes of the fiends, finding valuables of all kinds, although I still can’t fully understand why someone in our group thought it was worth the effort to pick up several hundreds of copper coins spread about around the floor.

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Chapter 2
Writing is still hard

Having vanquished the evil aspect of the dracolich Karzak we, after resting up for a suitable amount of time, decided that we could no longer take advantage of the hospitality shown to us, and decided to move onwards. There were some difficulties with the alchemist, and he decided to leave the party in a less than honourable way, but merciful as we were we decided to not go down to his level and let him be. As we were traveling we remembered hearing about a hermit that may have the ability to halt the plague ravaging the country side, and as they had shown us great hospitality we decided to pay them back in whatever way we could. After finding out the exact location of the hermit we moved towards him. We were able to easily bypass the many dangers facing us on the mountain path, on which he lives, due to our many skills. Upon reaching the hut of the Hermit we entered his humble abode and astonished as we saw that the inside was many times larger than the outside, and filled with what looked like diseases and illnesses. In the end we did find the hermit and asked him to stop the plague if possible, we were willing to offer many gifts in exchange of this boon. He revealed himself to be Nurgle, the so called “brother” of Tzeentch, a powerful being we had previously visited on our quest and been rewarded by. Nurgle was willing to help us as long as he was allowed to mark us in his own way. We were not certain about this but the price was worth stopping the plague, so we agreed. I’m not entirily sure what he did to me, aside from giving me a bit of an appearance suitable to his domain I can find no mark left on me.

Gestr

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First try at this "writing" thing by Gestr
This is really difficult with paws

While I still maintain the superiority of oral transmission of knowledge I have been convinced of the usefulness in written knowledge in some cases. This especially comes into play for widespread transmission and spread of knowledge, and as such I will make use of it to spread the most important of knowledge, the story of my adventures as a mortal.
I will start with the last of my many great deeds, the slaying of a fragment of the mighty dracolich and psuedo-deity Karzak, the personification of his worst sides. We noticed the spread of the hideous plague and following raising of the dead that followed it. We decided to take it upon ourselves to stop it. So we looked into it and realized that this fragment, summoned by some fool, was the being behind everything. We went to the headquarters of the sect following this dreaded draconian, and fought our way into it. While traversing this hideous base we tried our best to convert these misguided mortals to a better path and show mercy, and met with some success. Once we got to the heart of the dungeon we faced with the undead monster himself with his most trusted followers, and an fight of epic proportions ensued. I held my own for most of the fight, but in the end I was brought low, but my mighty companions, emboldened by the sight of my defeat, knowing there was no one to stand by them, and Amelia struck the final blow, bringing honour to our party.

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Amelia's journal: entry 4

You know, it hasn’t been that long since I last wrote here and I thought it would take a bit longer for anything really noteworthy to occur. You would think by now that I would have completely dropped all expectations I had when I started travelling with my current companions and the latest events have convinced me to. So, where to start off? Well, it seems that Ratcliffe has completed the private research that has kept him preoccupied over the last few months and according to him he has met his intended goal. What was he trying to do you ask? Well he can now grow an elephant… from a tumour on his person. You would think that little could shock or repulse me by now but there you go. Also it would seem that Shikoba has decided to depart in order to “spread the love” and while I’m not quite sure what he means by that I wish him all the best. Also it seems that Gestr and Ji are currently preoccupied in their studies and I thought it best not to enquire as to the subject of their study, more for the sake of my own mental wellbeing than anything else.
I must say though Ratcliffe certainly wanted to make up for lost time. Before we departed from Gaul he wished to make a quick diversion in search of what he calls a “take out”, which apparently is some form of eatery that sells travelling foods. Given my now… shall we say mixed opinion on food at the present moment myself and Arcay went on ahead to meet Jean. Thus, we set off for Greece in search of more legendary weapons for our great quest which, incidentally, meant a somewhat lengthy voyage with little to do in terms of activities. It was at this time that Ratcliffe offered each of us a sample from his alchemical stocks. He gave Arcay a strange white powder to add to his cocoa which almost immediately had him on the floor complaining of an agonising pain in his chest. It was then that I requested something that could help ease his pain at which point he handed me a vial filled with a strange looking liquid. Deciding to test the effects of this substance first I was first struck bu the utterly foul taste of the stuff… which was immediately replaced with a feeling of searing agony by my shoulder blades. I’m told that I blacked out then but I will admit that I got a surprise when I woke up… with a pair of large BAT WINGS. So at least I’ve learned one thing; never accept anything from Ratcliffe. Also, while I’m on the subject I’ll need to completely replace my current wardrobe with open backed gowns.
So, upon reaching Athens we immediately set off in search of information about he weapon of Heracles but were almost immediately set off course by the sight of a naked man running off to see the city Governor. Naturally we set off in pursuit because of course we did and learned that he had plans for an indoor latrine system similar to those in Hyperborea. It was at this point that Ratcliffe let slip that he had been to Hyperborea and 20 guards circled us. Not wishing to get tangled in a pointless fight I feigned ignorance of the two and managed to back away somewhat. At this point Ratcliffe decided to escalate things by dropping a vial of a most foul smelling substance and engaged the guards. Taking advantage of the confusion I pursued the most reasonable path and ran for the market. It was after acquiring a nice looking gown that I was interrupted by the sound of multiple explosions coming from the Governor’s office, followed by the sight of Ratcliffe and Arcay riding a large flying snake. You know I never in my life thought that I could write that last sentence without it being a work of fiction by there we go. As it turns out they were also being pursued by a force of griffin riders who they somehow managed to elude.
Deciding to try and salvage something from this trip I made my way to the local academy in hopes of finding information on our current quarry but as it turns out that wasn’t meant to be. It turns out the arseholes in this city don’t exactly like girls entering their libraries and turned me away at the door. Utterly aggravated by this point I recieved a message from Arcay that we should regroup at Jean’s ship and, hoping to try and get something from this escapade tried to fly back, only to hit a tree and fall flat on my arse. As if nothing else could go wrong I now have a pair ow wings that I not only can’t show in public for fear that they’ll see me as a bloody demon but they don’t even let me properly fly. Well mark my words I am getting something out of this little adventure so I don’t care how long it takes or how many times I fall on my face I will get these stupid things to work.
Other than that it’s been a pretty uneventful few weeks all things considered.

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Amelia's journal: entry 3
I won't be eating again for a month

So, where to start this time? A lot has happened in the last few weeks so there’s plenty to get through. Well to start off we’ve been given another mission by King Lars, this time to gather help to reinforce Bibracte and and it’s leader King Hrolf. We had a few choices as to where we could go as well. Persia, for example though while the notion of visiting a new land with what might be a more pleasing climate is tempting it was decided that Persia was too far away, so we’ll add that to the list of places we’ll probably go to later. Instead it was decided that we should get help from King Arthur of the Britons who I’d heard was a bit… eccentric, though Gestr claims to have met him so he should be honourable at least. So we were ready to head out to Britain, that was until everyone adjust happened to run into Loki at a tavern. Another god. While I was asleep. As it turns out he gave Gestr a riddle in exchange for leaving some random door open for him which in absolutely no was seems like an idea we will live to regret. That was sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.
So, after having a quick chat with the trickster god we met an old associate of Gestr’s called Jean who is a rather… colourful character but very capable captain despite the questionable substances he consumes. It was maybe a few days into our journey to Britain however, when Gestr pointed us towards a big whirlpool in the ocean and told us this was the answer in Loki’s riddle… and then proceeded to jump down and swim to it. Needless to say we went after him and, I guess I am a bit ashamed to admit I needed Jin’s help given that I can’t actually swim. Nevertheless we travelled down the whirlpool and landed in some submerged ruins which may or may not have been Atlantis, who can say really? While there we found a stone tablet depicting a method of entering the underworld and a rather nasty golem who got upset when we tried taking the tablet from it. Apparently we need the weapons of several legendary heroes to open some door or passage whose location we still don’t know, but still at least we’re making progress.
A few days later we finally arrived in The Northern coast of Britain and immediately encountered a force of 300 feasting warriors, you know as one tends to do. Through some persuasion we managed to convince the lord that was housing this force to let us take them to Bibracte to gain honour and glory and all that good stuff. An encounter with some surprisingly nice and polite bandits (maybe?) we found Arthur who wouldn’t leave until they could get some sort of truce with the nearby Saxons, who as it just so happens we’re electing a new King. Contending for the title were some lords and a shady looking eel merchant so, in order to speed up the truce process it was decided that Karzak would stand for the position… or rather the reanimated body of the last Saxon king which I guess would be him reclaiming his throne which I suppose is fine. By the way if anyone says that a political battle is easier than a physical one then they are lying to you. It took a shipment of food from Tavenna and a visit from a dignitary of King Lars to convince them to elect their last king. But still we convinced them and got both the Saxons and Arthur to send forces to Bibracte.
Speaking of, we are currently in Gaul and on our way there now, that is after we took a rather long detour. You see, on the way from Britain to Gaul I decided to try and keep myself occupied and so decided to see if I could make anything to help us in our adventures. Turns out, magical equipment requires some high end material so I need lots of money. Well, Jean overhears me and tells me that a friend of his was interested in a crown and would pay us 80,000 gold for it. The only catch was that it was in some kind of burial mound and probably protected by undead, so nothing really new there. As we later found out it was the resting place of an old king who died trying to fend off roman forces centuries ago. He was also a wight with fey hounds. He also had a weapon that may or may not be one of a few legendary weapons that we need. So, he said we could borrow it if we could pass his trials. The most shocking thing was that the first trial, to eat an entire feast provided to us, proved to be the most difficult. I had to call it quits about half way through and it was only through Gestr and his stomach of steel that we made it through that. Even so, I don’t even want to look at food for the newest month and now I need to get in some form of training regiment to get rid of this extra weight. So, after about a weeks rest we had to beat him at chess and while it was very close at times, Jin actually managed to beat him. Our last trial, surprisingly, was the easiest: to kill a chimera and bring back it’s heads. I just made it fall asleep and the others killed it immediately. In the end however it was decided that we wouldn’t press him for his crown, given that he can seemingly conjure food and servants out of thin air and has the obedient service of fey he’s probably not someone we should mess with. Still though we got his weapon and hopefully Lars will pay us for securing him troops to help King Hrolf.
Still though 20,000 each, it’s such a waste.

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Amelia's journal: entry 2
On orphans, toads and talking doors

So, it’s been a few weeks since I last wrote in here and quite a bit has transpired in that timespan. Upon returning from the frozen wastes of Hyperborea we decided to spend some time researching what scraps of information we recieved from the strange chaos god. While Arcay wished to learn more on his God’s prison deep within Tartarus, the others decided to engage in their own fields of research. I’m not quite sure what Gestr was studying as he seemingly secluded himself while we were busy but it’s probably best not to pry as it’s probably a matter of great importance to him and to dig too deeply might seem rude. Ratcliffe on the other hand decided look up “that which sleeps below” or something to that effect. Given that it is a very vague clue he concluded that he required some assistance to solve this problem. However instead of say, hiring a few scholars he decided to go around every orphanage and hired every literate orphan he could find to go through every book he could get. Well, I say hired… he initially wanted them to do it for free but had to pay when the orphans told him to. Needless to say this method of research was rather long and protracted but in the end yielded results. Apparently the thing that sleeps below is a giant dragon sleeping in the centre of the Earth. So yeah, that’ll be one hell of an adventure. Oh, and Ratcliffe may or may not have a team of researching orphans ready at any time now. So, if King lars is reading this I must stress that Ratcliffe is never left unsupervised. Ever.
However we were left with something of a dilemma, as all of our intended destinations were some distance away and we were essentially broke. So, in order to alleviate this issue we were given an assignment from the King to clear out any creatures deep within the city that may have been spawned by the areas wild magic. Ratcliffe however did not join us as he was too busy trying to create a giant tumour familiar or capybara. Did I forget to mention he already has a rather sizeable tumour as a familiar?
Anyway we descended into a well locked area of the city, Gestr’s Druid assuming the form of a fire elemental to light the way for Arcay. However it didn’t take long for trouble to find us as Arcay was almost immediately attacked by a Mimic disguised as an old box. Our next find was not as dangerous however as we encountered a talking door… for a broom cupboard. Also the door had two personalities with the side inside the cupboard acting a bit… let’s just say he was somewhat rude. Moving on we were then met with the sight of a strange humanoid crystal that kept on screaming at us. It was quickly dispatched but we soon learned that it wasn’t actually a threat as a creepy toad like monster that apparently didn’t like loud noises attacked us right afterwards. After the toad was dispatched we then entered a room filled with animated wood splinters that could form words. Just between us they were absolutely adorable and Shikobe seemed to agree as he had them all jump into his bag. While we’re talking about him he also decided to drink a notion in the next room and ever since then he’s been acting a bit… strange. He was rearranging potion bottles, sweeping the floor and I swear he keeps giving us these weird looks, as if he’s studying us for imperfections. Anyway, the penultimate room had a grating for a floor with three wooden boxes across from us. Knowing that something bad with definitely happen if we tried to cross Shikobe used his magic to move the boxes over to us. And then Arcay was attacked by a creepy brain like monster that jumped out from one of said boxes. I swear by the way that these things were strong willed because it took forever for me to actually make one fall asleep. Luckily I managed with this one and Shikobe’s spirit squished it. Also a creepy red mist attacked Gestr when he crossed the grating.
Finally however, we made it to the last room that had a big shiny crystal and was covered in mushrooms that our Druid swiftly burned away. Until some of them formed into a pair of humanoid monsters and attacked us. In retrospect I’m glad I kept my distance as after they fell they released a dangerous looking cloud. Come to think of it, last I saw him Arcay didn’t’ take look all too right but hopefully I’m just imagining things. Upon clearing out the mushrooms though we were contacted by another weird entity similar to the one we met in the defiled temple. Since I’d had my fair share of wierd stuff for the day I decided to leave the others to deal with whatever it was and made a start on trying to release the talking door from it’s hinges, thinking that it can’t be all that nice being a door for a broom cupboard and maybe a nicer room could help with the attitude a little bit.
But, when all is said and done we were paid, we have a clearer idea of where we need to go and none of us were horribly disfigured or scarred this time. So, all in all it’s been a pretty successful few weeks.

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Shikoba's Report, vol 1
A marvellous party as ever your majesty

The day came that after a few amazing weeks in this Hyperborea place we were called forth to receive our orders directly from the King. We were brought forth during a meeting with some adventurers. Some of them were stepping away and leaving the journey. Elise and Zelgius were choosing to take up residence in Hyperborea for the foreseeable future. The one speaking, a Ratcliffe, was claiming that he could rebuild the fallen Byzantine Empire. Apparently he had support, I had to wonder why he was here if there was support for it back where he came from. Quite a ways away.

But my attention then came to the tiger. It could talk. I’ve heard of animal spirits talking to seers but not an animal that can talk before it returns from the spirit realm. Quite amazing. He spoke of his ancestors and was setting himself up to be heir to two Gods or something to that effect. I won’t pretend to understand but it seems impressive enough.

So we were to accompany the group and assess them, while using a small magical item to report to the King, after all he can’t support every scheme that comes to his attention. It was incredibly generous to even hear this one out.

Now as ever his eminence held a party, because why not as they are always joyous occasions. Well they usually are. This Ratcliffe showed maybe not his true colours, but a shameful avarice and cruelty. He came to me hoping to sell me some “pretty sweets”. No matter how frequently I refused he simply pressed on, claiming that my beauty was insufficient and that I could always be prettier for a price. Well this was upsetting in itself but Lussuria was outraged. How dare he insult his love. How dare he prey on the insecurities of the weak. How DARE HE…. Sorry got a bit… anyway. Thankfully Arcay saw my distress and calmed me down. We shared a few puffs of the “peace pipe”. While I was enjoying my now inebriated state Arcay was having his own crisis. He had seen a dark aura emanating from the tiger, the most evil and twisted he had ever suffered to witness. During his panicked exclamations the witch Amelia attempted to cast a spell on him. This did little to deescalate the situation.

I do hope this does not set a president as we took a large amount of cocoa to calm Arcay down. I wouldn’t mind our copious excess but we simply don’t have enough supplies to deal with all this. Having spoken to the being with this aura he may be objectively evil but he is at least polite. More so than some of the company we have to suffer. The party ended with myself, Arcay and a few new acquaintances heading to an afterparty, apparently my love not war discussion swayed a few hearts if just for one night of peace.

Some time later we set forth to the frozen wastes once more but this time heading further than we thought possible. Passing the small tribes we came across some that were very different. Arcay had heard that a shaman in the North could point us towards his God. But there was something wrong with these people. They were twisted forms of what may not even have been men.

But we came to the shaman who spoke in riddles, avoiding answers and simply giving more questions. Thankfully Amelia was able to force a coherent answer out of him. I simply asked if he had found love. I was pleased to hear he had. I’d have pried further but I was aflame as strange glowing blue symbols were burned onto my flesh. Once the pain had subsided i was actually rather pleased. Their intricacy had a strange and wrong beauty, to my people this means that one is part of a community… I’m not sure if I want to be part of this one. The others were also changed. Ratcliffe grew a fitting tail, the tiger is now practically daemonic in appearance and… well Arcay is looking at me funny and licking his lips… yay?

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Arcay's Report to King Lars - 1
Initial Impressions and Arctic Expeditions

I never imagined that such a place like Hyperborea existed or that the king of such a grand city would ever have a job for me personally! The sheer scale, the magic, the weird fire sticks, it’s all so fascinating. I can’t stay long though, I have an important quest!

Anyway, the report. I don’t really know how this is supposed to work so I’m just going to talk about stuff that happened and people we met.

The group of adventurers I’ve been assigned to are a strange bunch to say the least and not all that I’ve found about them is good. I guess I’ll start with Hannibal Ratcliffe as he is who you are most interested in. Ratcliffe in short is an untrustworthy man who unsettles me. He’s makes all these weird sweets and liquids but is really, really pushy when trying to sell them. Like, at the party the king hosted (I’m so sorry about making a scene, the party was really great, nothing wrong with it I’ll explain later) he kept trying to play on Shikoba’s image issues to try and sell these “pretty sweets”. Not to mention that who I assume to be a previous acquaintance literally came up to us and said, “Don’t trust this man”. This would become a recurring event where Ratcliffe would try and play on someone’s insecurities to sell whatever he made that day. It’s honestly really worrying. As for how he acts when adventuring, I think it’s best to say that he succeeds despite himself, which is good maybe? Then there’s Gestr, who is a large talking striped cat. Yes. He can talk impressively well and his speeches sound very inspiring. If only I understood a single word he was saying. My grasp of these eastern languages isn’t the greatest but it seemed like he was talking almost constantly in odd phrasing that I just could not comprehend. From what I could gather though he’s a great warrior who holds honour above all. Then there’s the quiet man who follows the tiger, Ji. Don’t know much about him other than he has a connection to nature.

As for the others that have been assigned to this task, I have no complaints. Shikoba is as lovely as ever and Amelia while quiet is really smart. However, there is one other member of this group of adventurers. I have no idea how this came about but they carry a god with them. An evil god. He calls himself Karzak and he’s a dracolich that burned a great civilisation to the ground. During the party I saw his soul or at least it’s aura. I haven’t seen anything so horrifying and awful in my life. Such a level of evil, I didn’t think it was possible to see such a thing with your eyes. Hence my rather, uh, undignified break down at the party. Once again, really sorry, I totally understand if I’m not invited to more parties. Apparently, they plan to summon him so that they can put him down permanently but I don’t know, they seem very friendly with this being of pure evil. They even have me talking to it as well, although that’s purely because I know Shikoba would want me to give this thing a chance. I’m pretty sure this being is antithetical to the whole “love, not war” thing though.

On an unrelated note, what is wrong with the wastes and the nomads that inhabit it and the gods they worship? I was asking around about Quetzalcoatl and a mysterious hooded old man told me there was a shaman in the wastes that knew everything so I should ask him about Quetzalcoatl. Well I got everyone together because I couldn’t do this alone and I figured it’d make for a great test for the adventurers. We needed to find the place though and ended up bringing along a quite frankly terrifying nomad called Kharn. I don’t think there is a single aspect of Kharn that does not both frighten and confuse me. Oh yeah, the place the shaman was in was apparently an old “desecrated” temple in a mountain range that only “sometimes” exists when “he wants it to”. What? We made it there eventually, even with magic being kind of weird and Ratcliffe using a horde of large rodents to pull his cart instead of properly adapted animals. Not to mention that he tried to reanimate them. Wasn’t having any of that nonsense. Before reaching the temple we had to go through some tribal camp which was populated by warriors clad in metal sporting anything from strange growths to wings to tails and bipedal bestial creatures which were mostly seen cleaving human flesh off roasting spits. The place was so terrible that I was actually very glad Kharn was there to scare the living crap out of anyone who would otherwise have murdered and ate us. We finally entered the temple and it wasn’t much better. Weird altars to strange outside gods, vague figures in our peripheral vision, the place wasn’t right. Further inside we met the shaman… who was the same hooded man from the bar that gave me the tip. He then told us we could each ask him one question. It’s at this point I became aware he was probably one of these outside gods. Can I just let it be known that’s is been a week and I’ve talked with two gods. Neither of them good. Unfortunately the god was being very unhelpful and answering in riddles. I thought I was never going to get Quetzalcoatl’s location out of him until Amelia came up with a question than pinned him down and forced him to answer. I don’t know how I can repay her but I’ll have to come up with something.

But it appears it all came at a price regardless. He changed us. Ratcliffe has a tail, Shikoba has a set of unsettling tatoos, Gestr looks practically demonic and Amelia seems more unresponsive than usual. As for me… I’m thirsty. Really, really thirsty. I don’t know what for but I have a terrible inkling. When I look at people I can practically feel the blood pulsing through their veins. Maybe just a little wouldn’t be that bad…

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