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Interlude - Rock Falls (Mostly Closed, Scales in the Sand related)


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((The following events take place parallel to current ongoing RP, specifically the Fate-driven RP Scales in the Sand, not long after a dragon was turned back into a lalafell in the desert. Attached is the word file version, which has better formatting; right here, it's just copy-pasted in.




Warning: slightly black humor may follow. At least, I was amused.))



~ Sometime, more or less now or recently enough ~


The village – if you could call it one, at a mere fifty souls – of Rock Falls was the symbol of one man’s ambition. Some few turns ago, Fafaraju Gegeraju decided to found a trading post on free lands in the south-and-east-most corner of the Sagolii desert, abutting on the sea. It was his hope, his prediction, that with the flourishing of the Eorzean Alliance and the opening of borders, Gridania farther to the north would come to see the need for a viable ocean route to engage in trade with the rest of the world. That doing so would allow them to bypass Ul’dahn taxes entirely to open trade directly with Limsa Lominsa, if desired, or simply be able to carry precious wares over the waves to any other friendly port. The Horizon of the eastern seabord, he saw Rock Falls becoming.


Oh, there were delays. The Calamity. The war with Garlemald. Leviathan. Even on land; Amal’jaa… zombies… a truly inexplicable mass-migration of coblyns… But Mister Gegeraju was determined, proud, and willing to throw truly prodigious amounts of gil at the problems. Mercenaries were hired, shipwrights imported… and it seemed, at last, his dreams might come true. The war was petering down, the Primals vanquished (repeatedly) and word from Gridania was more open than ever. Any time now, it would all come together. His distant cousin whose spectacular success in what was now Costa Del Sol had proved it could be done. Soon, his too would be a household name! Soon, he too would luxuriate in prosperity, with rich dishes, exotic music, and lovely miqo’te dancing girls to fan him…




“It. Is so. Hot! Ugh!”


The miqo’te girl fanned herself, with a hat much too small for her head (it was a very fancy hat all the same). Sweat glistened alluringly upon her exposed curves and athletic musculature… though with all the blood it was unlikely anyone was about to ask her to dance for them. Especially not Mister Gegeraju, whose head had born it before finding itself in such a state as to no longer require hats.


“Daytime in the desert is hot, sister.”


The other girl, who could have been her twin sister (and was), wore rather more clothes and less expression (and also a long braid in her snowy, blue-highlighted hair, rather than small dreadlocks), the bright yellow eyes she shared with her sibling alert as she swept the area for survivors.


It was not an arduous task; the building whose rubble they perched upon provided a good view of the rubble of the rest of the former village. Carrion birds were all that moved, now.


“I know it is hot. The desert is stupid. And you are stupid for wearing so much clothing, Vurr. I wish it was night. Scars!” She kicked a piece of timber, sending it crashing and tumbling, dislodging more rocks and sending the birds aloft in noisome protest. Vurr sighed, and straightened, glaring at her sister.


“Slice your tongue, Kirra. Do you think the Nunh would love hearing you mewl like a broken-tail?”


“X’zarann is not even here,” she grumped, but lowered her tone all the same, looking around and reflexively adjusting her hair. An alluring sight, if you were into spear-wielding half-naked barbarian girls caked in the blood of innocents. They resumed their patrol, padding noiselessly amidst the ruination. “Where is he, anyway! Do you think he saw me kill those little ones?”


X’vurr poked a limb sticking out from under a boulder with her own spear. Boulders were common around the village; it took its name from the nearby cliff looming not far beyond, though nobody had been accidentally killed by a falling rock in some time. The record remained unbroken, since this was a thrown rock, not a fallen one.


“I believe X’ogun called them lalafell.”


“Is that what those tall ones call their kittens?”


“Tall ones?”


“Yes. With the stupid ears popping out of the sides of their heads. And the stupid long necks. Who lived in the Cursed Lands, with all the trees.”


“Oh. No. Wait. I don’t know?” X’vurr frowned.


“Well they fought like kittens. Weak and slow! Maybe all the hunters were away. Left the kittens with the big-big ones.”




“Outsiders have stupid names. Rogadodos were more fun though. I hope we find more… killing kittens is bo-o-ring.”


She kicked a head. Being bereft of a body, it rolled freely for a dozen yalms or so before abruptly coming to a stop under the foot of another miqo’te. Tall, powerfully-built, with two spears holstered in an X upon his back, he could have been the twins’ father (and wasn’t, though only just). His azure-marked ivory hair was pulled back in a tight tail which lent severity to an already-severe face, and the tightly-cropped beard just emphasized a general sense of experience and authority. Silver eyes made it creepy.


He crossed his arms – an impressive gesture, corded as they were – and narrowed his eyes at the pair. “You. Are loud.”


Kirra yelped, hopping back a step before straightening and raising her chin defiantly.


“Everyone’s dead, uncle X’ogun! All the stupid kittens-“


“Lalafell,” interjected her sister,


“-are bloody splattery bits, and even the big stupid rogadodos-“


“Roegadyn,” corrected the male,


“Stop that! Ugh!” X’kirra hissed at the two and abruptly sat down, ignoring them completely while she cleaned her spear. It still had things stuck to it. The male regarded her a moment longer, before turning his gaze to her sister.






“Any survivors?”


“No. Uncle X’ogun, were these the warriors?”


“Hrm.” He idly scratched his scar, artfully tracking over his left eye. An old shame, yet none dared mention it. “Yes… and no.” He snorted, and spat to the side. “Most outsiders know less of battle than do our kittens. Though… some very few are strong. Strong enough to be considered enemies, and not simply… meat.” The girls looked skeptical; X’kirra even snickered. She had not even taken a cut, let alone a scar. X’ogun merely smirked and shook his head.


“Hah. Find out yourselves then. And remember; though they are slow, and weak, and frail, with poor instincts, and dull ears and noses… though they are easily surprised and slaughtered like dodo chicks… though they are well and truly pathetic, easily slain even by our kittens…” He trailed off, frowning.






“No, I was going somewhere with that. Hold on.”






He paced, muttering to himself, and the girls edged away. In hushed tones, X’kirra whispered to her sister, “Soooo… do you know where X’zarann is?”


“Ah… dealing with prisoners, I believe.”


“What! Without me? I mean us? Why?”


“The Nunh-“ Both girls jumped, as X’ogun spoke from right next to them, standing arms crossed and looking dramatically off into the distance, “is more than capable of handling himself.”


He looked at them with all the sternness and paternal authority of one who might have been Nunh himself, who had seen them all born, and seen many die, many at his own hand, over more years than most of their kind lived.


“It is not your place to question the grandeur and subtlety of his vision.”




X’zarann Silverfall Nunh’s vision was slightly clouded by sweat. Not so much from the sun’s heat – he was far too awesome to concern himself with such petty things – but from concentration.


This was harder than it looked. Of the thirteen survivors, neatly arranged in trios (the odd one out, he threw off the cliff, to keep things fair), he was down to the last three.


The first ones he’d brought up too early, he could admit that now, if only to himself. The sun had been in his eyes, really just RIGHT in them, and he’d been squinting, and it just was so awkward that he massacred the three of them before getting halfway through his speech, sweeping their remains off the cliff. The cliff really was too perfect a spot to give up though. Dramatically situated to overlook the town, the ruins, and the sea beyond. So, he decided to wait a bell while the sun moved a little. Had a snack, some of the local flavor.


Unfortunately, the second group began wailing and yelling right away. It took killing two of them to get the third to explain why, and that one had the nerve to accuse him of cannibalism! When he’d even gone to the trouble of eating part of one of the roegadyn, rather than a lalafell like he was trying to speak to! How did these people survive, with such squeamishness?


Obviously X’zarann killed that one too, but he made a mental note not to be seen eating any Outsiders, nor to let his hunters do so, when intending diplomacy. These were the sorts of things a conqueror needed to know, after all. These fat and lazy so-called people kept food stocked and stored away anyroad, which X’zarann put down as yet another reason why they were so pathetic in a fight. How could you expect to fight hunters, when you didn’t even slay your own prey?


Things started out better with the third group. He launched into his speech about how they and their lands were his by right, and how he intended to magnanimously spare them so that they could spread word of his people’s invincibility, that soon all would tremble before the Falling Stars… he didn’t expect the three of them to rush him, to try to push him off the cliff, just because his back was turned. He was dramatically surveying his conquered lands, didn’t they get that? You don’t interrupt that! ESPECIALLY not the Nunh!


Here he could admit (again, only to himself) to losing his temper a little. He could have just cut them in half or thrown them off the cliff, but the situation really seemed to call for bludgeoning them to death with each other’s bodies. So he did, alternating a little so they could all get the message.


THOSE bodies X’zarann did not even bother to move, so that when the last three were sent up, he was still standing over them, bare-chested and arms dripping in gore. Sweating a little. Again, concentration, not exertion: these were the last ones. He COULDN’T just kill them, otherwise it ruined the whole point. Their freakishly-large eyes looked even more freakish as they took in the sight of him standing over the ruined corpses of their fellows.


He snatched up his sister’s spear and pointed it at them, before they could begin wailing or what-have-you.


“SHUT UP!” His voice echoed impressively, and the three captives choked, their throats constricting with terror. The radiance was still coming off his skin, a crackling halo of electricity. “BEHOLD, the fate of those who oppose, disrespect or even MILDLY ANNOY ME! I, X’zarann Silverfall Nunh of the Falling Stars Sept CLAIM THESE LANDS! Do I hear any objections?!”


One of them fainted. One of the others lost control of his bladder, but the third at least had the wherewithal to shake his (or her? how can one tell?) head vigorously. Inwardly, X’zarann sighed in relief. Better. He straightened, and planted the butt of the spear on the stone, taking a deep breath and looking down on the three lalafell, imperiously. With the sun’s movement, he now stood in the shade of the nearby peak, which was very good, because the radiance was all the more visible, along with the constellation of Althyk blazing through his skin.


“Good. In celebration of my triumph, and to show mercy, I will allow you to flee with your lives. Take what you need to survive the journey through the sands, and begone. Bring word that the conquest has begun. Soon, more of my people will come, and all these lands will bow to us!” It had been a longer speech initially, but scar it. The point was made. He whipped his spear in an arc, spraying some blood on the trio and making them recoil. “GO!”


He didn’t turn his back on them, not wanting to tempt THESE ones into stupidity. He needn’t have bothered; the two conscious ones picked up the third, and immediately began scrambling down the mountain trail. He watched them go with satisfaction.

He would keep his word to Anista; he wouldn’t come after her. But she would hear of this. And then, inevitably as the stars themselves, she would come to him.


“This bloodshed is her fault, really.” He thumbed the spear, the lovely, near-living piece of metal that he had claimed from her. She could summon it to her, he knew. The moment she did, though… it would be the signal, that she had made her choice. To fight him.


And then she would be his.


He grinned, fiercely, rubbing his cheek against the flat of the blade. Soon, now. Down below, the lalafells were scrambling away… well, time to call the rest of them in. He raised his voice.




Regret came not long after, though only briefly. Rage. Yes, definitely rage.




It wasn’t that X’zam was stupid. He was just big. When you were big, it took thoughts longer to get from here to there. It just made sense. To make things easier, X’zam did not think that much. That also made sense. He was really big, after all, bigger than anyone else in the Sept, as big as one of those ro… ro… big guys, and weighing twice as much. That was a lot of X’zam for thoughts to go through. It just made sense, to do things without thinking, whenever you could. When you were big like X’zam.


The Nunh was smart. Really smart. Scary smart. He understood things, and knew how to talk to X’zam so he understood too. Small words. That made sense, too. Small words, simple orders. Things like, ‘go’, or ‘kill’, or ‘bring’. And his name, of course. X’zam wasn’t stupid (just big), he understood more than simple words, but when his orders were simple, he could react quicker. And he could figure things out, too. Like how the Nunh brought up the prisoners (three and three and three and three) and killed them all each time. X’zam wasn’t stupid. It was obvious. He didn’t know why the Nunh was doing this, but he didn’t really question things. He knew people were good at what they were good at, and for him, that was not questioning, so he didn’t do that. It just made sense.


So, when X’zam, who was perched like a monstrous gargoyle (with skill and balance that some might have called ‘deceptive’ or 'alarming' but he just called ‘good’) over the trail – whereupon the last three tiny prisoners seemed to be escaping – heard the Nunh yell his name…




…he knew exactly what to do.


It just made sense.




X’ogun and the twins were about fifty yalms from the base of the mountain trail. It was a switchback, and so from the ground they had a remarkably good view of the moment when a plummeting X’zam intersected the three last survivors of Rock Falls with all the subtlety and restraint of a magitek siege weapon. Body parts flew, one of them close enough that X'vurr had to duck. Screams aborted almost before they began. The air became a roiling mass of stone dust and pink mist. A small avalanche was set off. Charred bits of hair and clothes drifted in the new breeze.


Moments later, a howl of purest rage was heard.


“Was… was that the Nunh?” X’vurr’s voice was hushed, her ordinarily tan skin pale at the sheer… discomfiture, of the sound.


X’ogun crossed his arms, shaking his head slightly. “It would appear… that the Nunh’s plan to draw X’anista back to him will need to be revised.”


“WHAT?!” X’kirra gripped his vest, lifting her face up to his. Her yellow eyes flashed with sudden fury, but the male just raised his brows.


“Such was his plan, obviously. Why else allow for survivors?” He looked back up to where X’zarann, glowing visibly, was beginning his storming descent of the mountain. Likely to have… words, with X’zam. Best of luck with that. “Clearly it is still his intent to make of her his mate. He is… fixated upon her.” There was the mildest note of disapproval.


X’kirra wasn’t listening. She’d let go, and was striding away at a rapid pace. X’vurr moved to follow, to intercept her, but her uncle grasped her arm in a grip like iron.


“No. The Nunh still needs to be guarded, yes?” He looked at her, his silvery eyes meeting her yellow. She looked back, conflicted. “The Nunh still needs you.”


Finally, she looked down. Yes.


If Kirra killed Anista… or Anstarra, as she went these days… he would want another mate.


If she failed… he would need her, Vurr, more than ever.


X’ogun saw it in her face, saw the understanding, and smiled.


“Good girl. This…” he swept his hand over the desolation. Rock Falls, where everybody died.


“…this is only the beginning, after all.”

Interlude - Rock Falls.docx

Edited by Anstarra
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  • 1 month later...

Escape. Flight.


Driven off.




The sting of that burned worse than the twin cuts upon X'kirra's throat. It would have been bad enough to fall to X'anista's spear, though not unexpected. The woman hadn't even used her spear. Hadn't even had one on her! Kirra's mind grasped back for things overheard, to make sense of this, for details; the Nunh claimed she wasn't fighting with her spear now, that she WOULD not, and that had made so little sense to the huntress that she'd all but discounted it. Of course X'anista would use a spear. It was what they did. What they WERE. But no.


She could have beaten her! She did! She buried her spear in the damn girl's stomach!


A brief, manic giggle burbled up, tasting of blood. Which brought back fresh the pain and rage and humiliation of her wounds.


Wounded! By an outsider... by meat!


Never mind that that other huntress - she had almost been good, that one, and used a spear like you should - and X'anista had pushed aside her guard. Never mind that she was fighting four at once. Never mind that she hadn't stepped into her Dance, nor taken one of the soulgems for power and speed (she lost her satchel - no, don't think of that). She should not have lost, not to outsiders, not to X'anista without her spear, and most definitely not to some bastard with knives who almost cut out her throat!


X'kirra came to a halt, sweat gleaming in the moonlight, breasts heaving for a moment with exertion before she stilled herself. Pensive of a sudden, a summer squall terminated.


"Maybe I should not have fought four at once. That was kind of dumb."


She threw back her head and laughed, manic and abrupt, the sound ringing across the barren sands.

"I should kill them one by one! I will, I will. That will make X'zarann happy. He wants his huntresses to be strong. That is most important."


A grunt, almost like agreement, sounded behind and to her left. She whirled-




-and saw stars, then darkness.




She woke, coming to with a gasp and a jerk and a nauseating flash of disorientation. Her head throbbed where she'd been struck, and it took a moment to realize she was lying on her belly. Tied, ankles bound, wrists behind her back. She saw her spear on the ground, in front of her, just out of reach even had she not been bound, and had time to notice little else other than that she was still in the same area, and it was still night, before someone stepped up in front of her. The butt of a spear planted in the dirt before her face. She looked up... and recognition came in a cold ripple through her body.


"Ah.. X'addo..."


Mummies not being part of the Falling Stars' lore, the comparison would have been lost upon the figure who stood casually before the supine huntress. Which was unfortunate, because it was a good one. Wrappings of nondescript cloth covered them almost entirely, some of it looking new, most in various states of wear, as though constantly replaced.


Despite that, patches of skin did show through, though it was difficult in the moonlight to ascertain the coloration. Difficult in light, too, X'kirra recalled. Even the figure's tail was mostly thus ensconced, though here and there the distinctive white and blue of the Falling Stars could be seen.


Lithe and thus wrapped, it was.. not easy to determine a gender, though Kirra was pretty sure he was male. Which could be good, right now, or very bad. Huntresses who showed weakness were fair game, after all. A female might have humiliated her, lowered her standing, but a male could do other things...


X'addo looked down, leaning on his spear, black eyes vaguely amused. They were the only visible part of his face, an arresting, glossy ink even in the moon shadows. Now was a time to play it cool, and talk her way out of this. X'zarann wanted them working together. All she had to do was calmly remind him of that.


"What the hells X'addo?!" Oh well, she never was good at 'calm'. "Why'd you hit me, you scarring moron!"


The hunter raised his brows. Looked at her neck, then at her waist, where her pouch should have dangled. X'kirra sagged. Her tail lashed.

"Alright, yes, I fucked up. I will make good though! They outnumbered me ten to one, and I killed half of them, but they got lucky! I'll go back and kill the rest!"


X'addo cocked his head, further arching a single brow.

"A-alright, it was more like six to one.." A soft cough. X'kirra's ears flattened. "Four to one! Fine! And I went in half-cocked! I almost killed X'anista though!" She glared up at X'addo, daring him to refute it, but the hunter only shrugged, and gave her neck a little pat with the butt of his spear. Kirra winced, and growled. "I know, I know, I didn't get sent to fight, I should have just.. scouted or something..." Her eyes narrowed suddenly, and she grimaced. "That's what you were doing out here. Scouting for X'zarann." X'addo's eyes glittered in amusement. "Dammit! You.. you saw everything didn't you? Ugh..." She sagged again. He could report on her, and that would ruin her standing. She would be humiliated...


The hunter's foot tapped in the sand, and X'kirra looked up to him, forcing her face into a pleading expression. It was not one she was used to wearing, making his brows raise slightly in alarm. "Please don't tell X'zarann? Or any of the others. I.. I could have been scouting too. There's a lot of desert. Right?" The hunter watched her, tail slowly swaying, dark eyes pinning her. X'kirra swallowed, feeling desperate. She couldn't fall from X'zarann's graces. Couldn't! "I.. I'll do anything."


It was a peculiar offer to make; he had her at his mercy. He could take what he wanted. But sometimes more long-term arrangements happened, between hunters and huntresses... not actual mating, since Blackmating was the punishment for stealing from the Nunh, and any other death was preferable, but everything short of it was fair game. Still, such things were.. frowned upon. There was always the risk of betrayal. It would probably be safer, if he so wished, for X'addo to take her, helpless as she was, and slit her throat afterward, before dumping her body in a canyon where she would never be found.


He moved, suddenly, jarring her back to the moment.. stabbing his spear into the sand, before reaching down and picking her up like a sack of grain. She struggled reflexively, but he laid her on her belly, on a large rock. Pinning her with one arm and his body as he took something from his pouches. A knife? A drug? Kirra gritted her teeth, fighting the edge of panic, ready to at least try to take a bite of him... but then he foresaw even that, gripping her head and tilting it to the side, exposing her sliced throat. Her heart pounded with terror. For a few moments nothing happened. He was going to finish her, tear her throat out, he was..


..licking her?




Numbing coolness spread through her body, fanning out from the injury. He was licking her wound. She knew this. His weight had shifted and.. yes. His fingers pressed into her shoulder muscles, one hand kneading, as he licked the salve into her wound. Azeyma's Touch, it was called. Some males learned it. Those who wouldn't be Nunh, the Tias. Healing massage. Herbs you chewed, then spat or licked onto wounds, to soothe and treat them. Along with rubbing of the muscles, loosening and tending. X'addo knew it?


"Oh... hmm."


X'kirra had never benefited from it before. She injured people, she didn't get injured. And it required submitting yourself to someone's attentions, which was something her pride wouldn't allow. But... she was tied up. He was forcing her to be healed. In a strange way, it was a salve to her pride, as much as to her body.


She felt a flash of absurd gratitude, and bit her tongue to keep from expressing it. Or other sounds. It felt.. very good. Slowly, she felt herself go limp, groaning a bit under the treatment. Heard a soft sound from him, that might've been a chuckle, but didn't care. It just.. felt so nice...




It was dawn when X'kirra arrived back at Rock Falls. X'addo had treated her for what must have been bells, leaving her wrung out and soothed and limp in ways that she wasn't used to. He hadn't taken her, as she had more than half-expected. Everything but. His tongue hadn't just stayed on her neck...


"Ngh! Stop that!" she snarled, feeling herself flush yet again. She belonged to X'zarann! She.. she needed to get back. To report. X'addo had left her, once he was done the treatment, had frayed her ropes enough for her to get free and then simply vanished. As always. A small, treacherous part of Kirra wondered when she'd see him again, and she pushed it down, stubborn and angry and conflicted.


So conflicted she didn't even notice the others until X'zarann cleared his voice just ahead of her. She started, jumping back, face flushed.


"Welcome back, X'kirra. Did you have a nice little.. excursion?"


Conflict vanished, replaced by fear and adoration, at the sight of him. Flanked by X'vurr and X'ogun, lounging amidst the ruins. X'zam was.. above. How did someone so big perch like that? The stone pillars were strong, those that still stood.


X'zarann walked forward, and cupped Kirra's face, and her breath caught. He was... incredible. Those eyes - a flash of anger, at how much X'anista's looked like them, how dare she steal his eyes! - held her in place, and she couldn't tell if he was about to kiss her or kill her.


"X'addo brought me an interesting report," he drawled, and she felt a surge of alarm. Her voice caught. Had she been betrayed after all? Had he tended her, just to turn her over to X'zarann?

"It's a good thing she did. I was rather upset when you vanished on your own. I might have killed you out of hand, when you returned, had I thought you disobeyed my command to leave Anista alone..."


Relief, then confusion. 'She?'


"But now it turns out you were investigating something very interesting," the Nunh continued, hand slipping from her face as he turned away. X'kirra released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. She couldn't talk just yet.. his presence was just... she could feel her heart hammering in her chest. Fear and adoration and desire... all she could do was nod, though she had NO idea what he was talking about!


Thankfully, he told her. "You have my leave to return to Ul'dah, and bring me some of these... relics. The dragon amulets. A wyrmtear, especially. A materia attuned to draconic essence..." He laughed, the sound playing up her spine in a thrill. "Fascinating. I want one. I will have one."


Turning back, X'zarann regarded her with his smile, and she felt things melt inside. "I'm sure you won't disappoint me, Kirra. X'addo will go as well. You are to support each other on this mission. Succeed.. and I will be most pleased."


He left, leaving her with a roiling mass of wants and confusion. X'ogun went too, looking thoughtful. X'vurr walked over to her twin, regarding her critically. Reaching up and touching the cloth strips that covered Kirra's wounds, making her start. Vurr arched a brow, then smiled a bit.


"I am glad you are not dead, sister."

Kirra nodded absently. X'vurr tilted her head, then shrugged, and made to depart.



"Ah..." she looked around. Even X'zam was gone now, leaving them alone. Probably alone. "Is, um. Is X'addo..."


"Yes. Is he.. I mean she... a 'she'? Or a 'he'?"


X'vurr blinked slowly at her. At length, she spread her hands.

"Who cares?"

Kirra flushed. " I.. he knows Azeyma's Touch but. The Nunh said. I mean."


Vurr shook her head. "Just do your mission, X'kirra. I will protect the Nunh." She smiled, a bit tauntingly, which had the desired effect; Kirra bristled, her attention returning to what really mattered. She snorted, and gave her sister a little push on the shoulder. "Do not get too used to it! I will be back before you can warm his bed!"


The other girl chuckled, and nodded. Then, before Kirra could head off, she stopped her. "Here." A satchel. Inside, the glow of soulgems... Kirra looked at her sister, who met her eyes, and shrugged.


"Don't die."


They embraced, and parted, one to rejoin the hunters, and the other, back toward the distant city...

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