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  #916  
Old Jan 19th, 2023, 09:03 AM
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Questioning the Elder
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The woman's eyes narrow at Mara's condescending use of the same broken common, but she seems to answer without offense. "The... details of our faith... passed down over three... hundreed? Three centuries by... mouth-speaking. My teacher die young... unexpected. Many things lost. Shrines lost. Strahd know, but no tell. ...Maybe old... book?" She turns her head to Polly. "How help? Find shrines. Consecrate."
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Old Jan 19th, 2023, 10:18 AM
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Barry
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"Consecrate? Barry's A little elf humor for you there.ears prick up. "Can do! Do you have an incense by the way? Sticks you burn with good smell? Gonna need a lot!
Oh, and if you can tell us more in your own language, then let's wait for tomorrow. I think I can cast a spell so we can understand eachother perfectly."
And then hoping not to come off rude and unthankful adds, "But, also, you've already help a lot. Thank you."


 


 

 
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Old Jan 19th, 2023, 09:17 PM
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Questioning the Elder
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The woman's eyes bore into Barry. "You no understand. Consecrate mean you undo whatever Strahd did to desecrate. We talk more... morning."
OOCShe's trying to tell you that it's going to take more than waving a sage blunt around and speaking holy words from your religion.
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Old Jan 19th, 2023, 09:26 PM
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Beth watched and listened to the conversation being had between the elder and the others that knew more about their current mission. She was a bit disappointed that the others in the camp did not give much reaction to the mention of the shrines or the ladies that they were instructed to help.

So drop off the twins and then off to these shrines.
“Can you…” Beth paused trying to find the best words to ask her question of the elder, “ can you show… pictures… or pass on what you know of shrines", the sorceress asked.

“We want to help. We Kill Stradh like we killed Graalf,” she added hoping that her last sentence would sway these druid forest folk into helping them in anyway they could. She couldn’t promise to kill Stradh but Beth would certainly try. It seemed that if any of them wanted to go home, Stradh needed to be dealt with for that to happen. She would deal with the fall out of her words with the rest of the party in private. It wouldn't be the first time Beth had said something that had gotten her into an argument or put her on the bad side of others.

 


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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 03:16 AM
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Jhorn Sarkany
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The others are quick with their questions and attempts to communicate to Ilyona in pidgin words. Jhorn is glad, as it allows him time to mull on what the women said. Anything to distract him from the fact that they're all naked except for mud. The scarred man is the conservative type, and it seems highly inappropriate for the women to be in the presence of men in just what the gods blessed them with and showing no concern about it. He disciplines himself to always make direct eye contact lest he offend them, or embarrass himself.

The words she speaks reminds him of what the others told him about the meeting with the Vistani woman - are these the "Ladies Three" she spoke of? He prays to the Morninglord for guidance, wondering if Lathander can even hear his prayers in this desolate place, but knows he must continue to keep praying as if he can. When Ilyona states they will speak more in the morning, Jhorn looks forward to speaking to the others in private about what they have learned. It all sounds prophetic, which makes Jhorn a bit unnerved about the whole situation.


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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 05:49 AM
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Polly Titchwillow
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Polly nodded. She was a little disappointed none of the mud people seemed to speak Sylvan, but throughout her travels she had noticed very few people did. Which was weird, for someone who had basically grown up with it. Still, Barry seemed to have a solution, so she decided to table to conversation for now.

'Tomorrow,' she agreed. No doubt whatever needed to be done was too complex for the broken common. 'Shadows flee before the light. We'll be the light,' the monk promised, paraphrasing her order's mantra.

With a final nod, Polly got up, and left to find a place of seclusion. 'Ireena,' she called out, taking a moment to look for her employer. 'You said you wanted some training. Suppose that, with our destination in sight, I should step up. So let's go over some of the basics, yeah? You too, Lucien,' she told the boy. 'You gotta be able to stand your ground in these lands. And Mara!' the monk called. 'You're with me. You know more about weapons than me, and I can't teach someone proper punching and kicking that quickly. Correct me when you feel the need.' Honestly, she hadn't taught anyone, ever- her fighting techniques were a tool to promote self-reliance and discipline first. Though punching someone's teeth out was definitely a valid form of self-defense. Especially when facing vampires, she supposed.

Once she had all three in a quiet place, she nodded, gesturing for the two "students" to stand before her. Then she herself straightened her posture, imitating the stern masters of the dreaming blossom as best she could. 'Alright, first lesson. Standing still and trading punches with someone is dumb. You-' she said, looking at Lucien, 'are tiny. And you,' she added, turning to Ireena, 'face someone stronger than yourself. Standing still is losing, for both of you.' She extended her hand to the side, inspecting her slender limb. 'I'm not physically strong,' she admitted. 'I don't need to be. All I need is to not be where the enemy tries to hit me. And then punch them,' she added with a smirk. 'But at the same time, you need to find your center while moving, rather than flailing about the place. So, first lesson is all about footwork.'

She bent her knees slightly, a single moment before lunging forward. One foot never left its place- the other shot forward, planted into the dirt several feet before her. As the monk's left foot shot forward, her right hand balled into a fist and shot forward, snapping towards her students. 'Keep low to the ground,' she instructed them. 'Stronger opponents are usually bigger than you- stay low, give 'em less room to hit. Besides, low point of gravity makes you more stable.' She let her fist fall, patting her forward leg- her knee almost at a right angle. 'If you want to attack, keep your front leg bent and ready to move. Keep your back leg straight,' she added, patting the upper part of her right leg. 'Enough tension to properly plant your feet. Enough stability to support your punches.'

'When you're defending,' she continued, switching to a different position. Now her back leg was bent, almost fully underneath her, her knee pointing to the side. Meanwhile her front leg was more relaxed. Neither of Polly's feet had left their place- only her torso had shifted. 'Assume this position.' She made a few quick swipes with her arm to demonstrate, her lower arm describing several blocking motions. 'Your weight'll be on the back leg, ready to absorb the shock of whatever your foe throws at you. Meanwhile your front leg is relaxed, ready to respond and react- a quick kick if necessary, or a rapid retreat if you must.'

Polly demonstrated moving back and forth then- assuming her offensive stance three times with each step forward, explaining it was a good way of keeping up the attack. Then she took three steps backward, now assuming her defensive position, explaining it was a good way to escape an enemy while blocking their attacks. Between each step- attacking or defending- she returned to her center, an upright position with her legs bent, so that she didn't have to raise her head after each step. Then she stepped backwards a few times, but now took an offensive stance. 'If you can, keep pressure on your enemy as he advances- make him pay for every inch he comes closer. Obviously not a good way to proceed if you're fighting someone stronger than you,' she elaborated, shooting Ireena a warning glance. 'But if you're evenly matched, or if your opponent is coming at you slowly? Yeah, it's alright if you take a more aggressive stance even as you move back. Likewise,' she said, switching to the defensive stance and taking several steps forward. 'If an enemy's attack you, but you're evenly matched, try pushing him back. You're blocking, but you're driving him backwards, which helps to destabilize him.'

Straighening herself, the monk invited Ireena and Lucian to take up position beside her, and trained moving forward and backwards with them, slowly. When she was confident they understood the basics, the monk stopped but urged the two to keep on going. Polly observed her students closely, adjusting their posture as they went, correcting them both as needed. After half an hour, she smiled, and bid them to stop. 'Very good,' she told them with a smile. 'Now that you know how to move, let's show you how to throw a punch.' She moved behind Ireena and clutched the woman's wrist, not paying any attention to protestations or sense of impropriety. 'When you throw a punch, you do so from your hip. Make a fist,' Polly instructed, then planted Ireena's fist just above her hip, palm upward. Then she guided her arm forward, slowly rotating the fist and lower arm, so that Ireena's palm was facing downward at the apex of her punch. 'Turning your hip at the exact right moment is key. I don't care how strong you are, you always punch harder if you move your hip accordingly.' Polly placed her free hand on Ireena's hip and pushed, showing the woman what she meant. Then, she moved over to Lucian and showed him the same thing- that by turning your hip properly, your torso gained both momentum and stability, which translated into more control during a punch. 'Let's practice that for a while, yeah?' she offered, getting up and offering both students to thrown a series of practice punches at the air. Again, Polly oversaw both, correcting her students as they practiced.

When she was certain they had punching down- in as far as people could have the art of punching down in under an hour of practice- Polly bid the pair to stop, and stood right in front of Ireena. 'Punch me,' she said, simply. After a moment's hesitation, Ireena obeyed and threw a punch. Polly was glad to see the woman hadn't forgotten everything she had just learned just because there was an actual opponent in front of her. But still, execution was as sloppy as one might expect from someone new at this. Polly brought her fist to her ear, then swiped her lower arm vertically before her. Her wrist connected with Ireena's, and as it did, she turned her wrist just enough to spread the impact out over the breadth of her forearm. Ireena's attack was turned aside harmlessly- and for effect, Polly used her other arm to immediately launch a counterattack, the blade of her hand stopping less than an inch removed from Ireena's throat. 'Good- but no attack is ever going to hit on its own,' she explained. 'You have to exhaust your opponent, block what they throw at you while conserving your energy. For that, you need to know how to block- and that'll be your third lesson.'

Again, Polly instructed the pair, this time explaining how to turn away an enemy's attack, how blocks were launched either from one's temple or one's hip, and what block to use against what punch. She taught them to turn their wrists at the right moment to prevent injury to oneself, and was pleased to see how quickly they were picking up the basics. She then continued on to counterattacking after a block. Finally she started throwing some of her own punches- and a limited series of kicks- at her students, though Polly held back considerably to give them ample time to learn the lessons she was trying to instill. She finished the day's lesson by letting the pair perform a mock fight against each other, which quickly devolved into playful fighting due to Lucien's young age. Nevertheless, the Hexblood couldn't help but laugh, a laugh filled both with amusment at Ireena and Lucien's playing, and pride at having taught the pair a little of what she had studied for years.

'Alright, this is where you two say goodbye,' Polly smiled. 'Lucien, I'm going to teach you how to use a staff. Mara, would you instruct Ireena on using bladed weapons? I'm not sure Lucien is quite old enough to not cut his fingers off just yet,' she smirked. Then she turned to Lucien, ruffling his hair. 'I'll be right back, buddy,' Polly assured the child. 'Gotta talk to Ismark for a moment. You go on and practice on your own for a moment, yeah?'

Polly then hurried over to Ismark, nodding at the mayor's son as she approached. 'So,' she started, matter-of-factly. 'I know you guys paid us to get you to Vallaki, and we're almost there. But, these mudpeople apparently know something about the shrines to the Fanes. And the Vistani told us, we need to help the Fanes to get a decisive advantage against Strahd,' the Hexblood elaborated. 'So... I just want to discuss logistics, how are we going to do this? Are we taking you to Vallaki first? Or are you alright with us tackling these shrines first, with you either waiting here or coming along to help us? Because I really don't know,' she admitted. 'I can't wait to get you lot to safety, but at the same time, I really don't think any of this will be over until we kill Strahd, permanently. And if this Fane business is going to help us do that, well, I'd rather like to get it done right away. I really don't want the risk of us moving away, only for us to come back to find these druids gone. Because they seem like the nomadic type, you know?'

She was quiet then, waiting expectantly to see how her employer would react...



 


 
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  #922  
Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 12:11 PM
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As the elder mud woman left it made clear that the evening’s discussion was closed. Beth chewed on her lip for a moment thinking. She got to her feet and approached Barry, “Barry, may I speak with you a moment ,” the sorceress asked before taking Barry slightly aside from the main camp to talk quietly.

“You seem to get along and understand what Illyona is trying to tell us. I would like to listen and be present if she talks privately in the morning. I want to write down what she says so we don’t screw it up. IF she talks openly like just now I’ll take notes. If the shrine Illyona speaks of is one of the Fanes then we need to do everything we can to undo whatever it is Stradh did to it. We all want to help these people and get home ourselves, but I am getting the feeling that this isn’t going to be a quick 1-2-3 poof he’s gone. I want to help these people, I usually use herb and stuff, but if it’s magic that will help here, then I will use all of it to help kill Stradh and let these people live in peace.”

This is going to be a long process…. We might not all make it and those that do are going to be changed. I can feel it in my gut. I hope Illyona is willing to tell us more in the morning,” Beth confided in Barry.

She sighed letting her shoulders slump a bit. “Sorry I dumped all that on you, I just wanted to talk to someone about how I felt now that we have a possible lead on the Fanes.”
 


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  #923  
Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 08:36 PM
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Just a quick head-snapWhile conversing with Barry, Marybeth notices something VERY interesting to her from her side-eye (peripheral). The woman who'd originally rescued your group and led you to this spot is laying some things out. Many herbalism tools including a mortar and pestle, as well as a few herbs and several varieties of mushroom. It looks like she might be about to concoct something.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 10:48 PM
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Packing her notebook away with practiced care, Mara stood and followed after Polly, Ireen, and Lucien, leaving her pack behind. She stood nearby, quiet and attentive as Polly walked the other two through various drills and techniques for unarmed combat. Simple, basic stuff, but always useful, and when called upon to teach Ireena bladed combat, she cast a single furtive glance the woman’s way before fetching a couple sticks. Training with sharp steel was a dicey proposition, and more to the point, she didn’t have a sword to use.

”Watch your footwork. Watch your spacing. Always attack and defend,” she announced, remembering the little actual training she had received when joining the city guard.

”Your footwork will keep you where you want to be, ready to attack and defend. Your spacing ensures that you can strike your opponent with your weapon, or that you can avoid theirs. If you can attack without reprisal, all the better. A fast weapon is not fast at all if it can’t reach the enemy,” she said as she gestured over at her magical polearm, ”not a fast weapon at all, yet it will lay low a few enemies with lighter, quicker weapons before they can get close enough to attack.”

”Alway defend and attack at the same time, or try to. Always attacking leaves you tired and open to attack. Always defending means that eventually you’ll miss, and be done. Every time you attack, you should be considering how to defend yourself long enough to recover. Every time you defend you should be looking for an opening for a counterattack.”

”Got it all? Good. Show me.”

Mara had always found this sort of thing was better learned by doing, than by discussing. She could talk all day about deflecting versus blocking, or how to riposte, but a single demonstration was going to be more effective as it showed the mind and the muscles at the same time. The pace was slow to start, the sticks serving as a primitive training tool, but slowly picked up as Ireena felt more comfortable.

By the time they were sweating and breathing heavily, Mara felt more comfortable with the idea of Ireena using the blade she carried. ”Good work; keep at it,” she offered to Ireena with a small bow as she tossed her battered stick aside and turned back towards the campfires.

Mara wasn’t sure how things would be between them during the rest of their journey together, amicable she hoped, but she knew such things could become difficult. All the poetry she had read, and still she was no better equipped to deal with the trials of the heart than any straw-brained stable boy. She turned back, just once, to check on Ireena, before disciplining herself and getting back to the business of walking away… to the fires at least for some rest.




 


 
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 12:19 AM
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Barry
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Barry keeps his face directed to the floor so his ear can point straight to Marybeth. Although she can't see his expression, she notes his nods and non-verbal confirmations. When she's is done, he turns to face her and his calming smile washes over her.
"Number one. I love your passion. You're the last joiner but by no means an outsider. I am glad we found you.
Two, I think you're right. I can consecrate the sites when we find them, but something tells me that won't be enough. We are in his realm and his level control is likely beyond the norm.
Three. If this is going to be as hard as we think. I think we need to get the others to safety before we turn our hand to the Fanes. They can indeed hold their own, but there are worse things out there. I think the big question is how do we protect Ireena while we are away? Perhaps, Illoyna has an answer for this too? They for sure don't seem friends of Strahd so maybe they have a way of keeping him at bay..."

He knew the last part was a long shot, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.


 


 

 
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 03:14 AM
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Jhorn Sarkany
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Once it seems clear there is no more discussion for the night, Jhorn immediately seeks out Halas. "I appreciate your... discretion, this time," he whispers to the halfling, appreciative that his troubled past was not brought to light with unforeseen and likely unfortunate circumstances. Then, in a normal tone of voice, he says "What she was saying seemed to match up with what the Vistani woman told you all. Could these be the Ladies Three?" Jhorn is still slightly skeptical of the Vistani woman and isn't quite sure what to think.


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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 10:45 AM
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Halas Fogbarrel
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Halas just winked in response to Jhorn's appreciation of what he obliged to leave out of his story.

The halfling had little idea what to make of all the talk about fanes and ladies. Those things seemed best left to the others to figure out.

 



 

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Old Jan 25th, 2023, 12:06 AM
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Beth smiled in return to Barry, “Thank you. Perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt in asking in the morning if they do anything or have anything that protects them from Stradh.”

The Sorceress attention is pulled away from Barry seeing herbs and tools familiar to her being laid out.
“ I will find you in the morning so I can take notes. Sleep well,” she concluded.

She drifted over to the mud woman neatly laying out herbs and mushrooms. A few Beth knew, but most she could not identify. They looked similar but different to ones back home. What was she going to make with these? How did she prepare them? So many questions popped into her head seeing such familiar herbalism items.

“Can I watch? I would like to learn,” Beth asked, she did not want to intrude, but was hoping that the woman would not mind.

I have to learn something while I am here, Beth thought waiting for her answer.

 


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Old Jan 25th, 2023, 01:25 AM
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Jhorn Sarkany
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With little else to say and with most of the group tied up training under the guidance of Polly, Jhorn decides he can at least contribute in his own way. Grabbing a piece of the firewood nearby, he holds it up to one of the druid women and points to himself, then makes a hacking motion with his hand, then points to their axe nearby. With their permission, he stows his axe and shield with his gear and begins splitting extra wood for the fire.

This was a task he always liked - axes always felt good in his hands, and it was a tough but rewarding labor. Few things are more satisfying than splitting the wood on the first blow. Jhorn always felt it was good training for combat too - one strong committed blow is often all you may get. As he splits log after log, his mind begins drifting due to the mundane nature of the task, and suddenly he is back home. He remembers the old stump behind his cottage where he used to split wood, often days of it at a time in case he had to go with the army for maneuvers. Sometimes he would be so focused on his task that Laina would have to come outside and remind him that dinner was ready.

Laina... he thinks to himself. He can still picture her now. Her long hair, as red as fire, with those green eyes that he could stare into forever. Freckles adorned her face, giving her a youthful but beautiful appearance. He can still see her somedays. Still smell the wild flowers she would pick every morning. Still feel her presence next to him. Sometimes. His heart begins to ache as he thinks of her.

And then, of course, that night also flashes into his mind.

He always tries to forget it, he would do anything to remove it from his mind, but it is always there. The blood was so similar to her hair that you almost couldn't tell them apart at first. It just looked like her hair was falling over her body. But the hole in her body where The Wolf chewed through her flesh and cracked her ribs to eat her heart shows the truth. The truth of what Jhorn really is.

The scarred man suddenly realizes he has been standing motionless for some time, long since done splitting wood. He sighs and gets back to his task. That's enough daydreaming for now. After all, he snorts, his dreams always end up leading back to the nightmares.


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Old Jan 25th, 2023, 08:18 AM
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Tea and Tincture
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"Yes. Watch," she replies to Marybeth with a friendly smile.

Marybeth can identify no less than nine different mushroom species, and two different mosses. The druid seems to be using no scales or any unit of exact measurement. "Only way to be perfect... precise... use all dried... ingredients?" She begins to explain, but scowls in frustration at her limited command of the language.

After breaking down the assorted flora with mortar and pestle, she transfers it to a bowl before adding a cup of boiling water. She stirs the soup until it drops to about half its original temperature, then pours it through a cloth into another bowl. Wringing all the liquid from the ingredients, she moves the bowl aside and gets another one, which receives the damp clump of ingredients. She lines up several tiny phials - everything she's working with seems to be crudely made from clay - before retrieving a larger flask. Popping the cork, she waves it under Marybeth's nose before dribbling a bit into the bowl. It instantly clears her sinuses before she can jerk her head to the side, causing the druid to chuckle at her expression. It smelled stronger than double-distilled brandy, more akin to something used to remove varnish from old furniture. She mixes the clump into the tiny bit of alcohol quite vigorously for a couple minutes. When completed, it looks like runny riverbank sludge. He proceeds filling each phial with the sludge, stirring again between each phial. The sorceress determines that they are some sort of tincture. "Medicine," the druid announces as she points to the tinctures. "Tea," as she points to the bowl with the cooling water mixture. "Too strong," she explains as she lines up three mugs, filling each about a third before making up the rest with more boiling water. She casts a spell on each of the phials, but not on the tea. "Tea... drink now - tomorrow, no good. Medicine good for many days.

The druid takes two of the cups and nods at Marybeth to grab the third. She goes straight to the rest of the party, handing a cup to those who still carry the most wounds."
OOCEach tea heals 1d8+4 over the course of an hour. The druid hands one to Ismark - you guys determine in the OOC thread who needs/gets the other two.

My main "next morning" post will be up by Saturday at latest, but I'm hoping to have time well before then.
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