Offerings to the Dead

A phasmonia dedicated to the dead near Brunnhold.
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 293
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 32
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
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Writer: Graf
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Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:36 pm

BRUNNHOLD PHASMONIA
at noon on the 9th of bethas, 2719.
When Ezre warned him not to tell anyone about his – sack it, what do you call it? – condition, one of his eyebrows shot up; his eyes glinted with amusement. “No shit,” he replied evenly, plainly. He tucked his journal back into his coat, then laughed again through chattering teeth.

“No offense. It’s just I, uh – already tried that. A few times, when I was still new, when I wasn’t even starting to get used to all this shit. I just about shouted my gods-damned name from the rooftops, hopin’ somebody’d believe me. Recognize me or help me or – clock it, I don’t know – somethin’.” Tom’s smile walked a line between sardonic and wistful. “Didn’t work. Scared the shit out of a man I thought was unflappable – and most of the time, nobody’ll believe you anyway. It’s like you said, hey? Nobody knows. Hell, I’m the only Anaxi raen I know. Even I thought I was just some—”

Couldn’t finish. He felt sleepy, suddenly, like he’d drift off and freeze solid if he sat there a second longer. So he moved: he kicked himself into motion, scuffed his boots against the worn stones, got slowly to his feet and paced a few steps away from the bench. He was still listening to the lad, listening to him go on, hanging onto every word. There was so much coming at him, though, that it was hard to focus on any one thing. So much new.

Tom had had his back to Ezre – he was idly studying the frostbitten bark of a tree – so the lad couldn’t see the surprise that widened his eyes when he said he was his ma’s only child, when he described the woman who might’ve been his ma if not for the raen. It made him shift from foot to foot, bite his lip. He thought about Cerise, guilt bubbling up inside him.

Do you ever wonder? The question sprang unbidden to his mind. Do you ever wonder what she would’ve been like? He wouldn’t ask that. He had no right, no more than the lad would’ve had a right to ask him about his father.

Now, he turned, trying to look nonchalant. Poking at a loose stone with the toe of his boot. “That’s not a bad life. For one of – us, I mean.” Us. A raen. Us. It felt odd in his mouth, owning this thing. “I’m no stranger to death, but you Hexxos are somethin’ else. Can’t say I understand it, but I sure as hell respect it.”

Shrugging, he tottered back toward the bench, sitting down with another irritated wince. Again, he gave the Hoxian his undivided attention, and again, he found himself overwhelmed – not just with the boy’s words, but also with the keen interest in his dark eyes, the way his smile lingered, still warmer than Tom expected. But the lad’s sardonic retort – and that roll of his eyes – made Tom’s expression falter.

Have I ever been to Hox? Tom’s lip twitched. For a moment, he forgot who and where he was. For a moment, he was a thirty-year-old human sitting across from a teenage galdor who’d just taken a tone with him. He wasn’t thinking about Hox or Anaxas, wasn’t thinking about how the boy had a point. Wasn’t even thinking about how he ought to take a joke.

He saw that eyeroll, and suddenly he was thinking a galdor had just talked to him like he was a mung, worthless human.

“Aye, lad. It’s only fair.” But the last dregs of that warm smile had dropped off his face, leaving it slack and sour. He studied Ezre’s face through narrowed eyes; something new, unfamiliar, and dangerous had come into them, something of the Bad Brother weighing his options, thinking about how best to deal with a mark. He gazed fixedly at Ezre as he spoke. “I was human. And to answer your question” – he bit off the word – no, I ain’t been to Hox. Up until Yaris, I hadn’t been anywhere except the Rose. Twenty-nine years and I never left. Born there and died there, ’cause I reckon some of us don’t get to fly off to places like Frecksat and study voo and poetry, or whatever the fuck. Some of us’ve got mouths to feed however we can, and nobody to help us.”

The moment it was out of his mouth, he knew he’d gone too far. Damn. He covered his face with his hands for a moment, pressing his fingertips against his eyelids. Despite the cold, he could feel his face getting hot; he knew he was flushed, and he knew by now that there was nothing much he could do about it. It was something Anatole’d been known for in politics and in the courtroom; once or twice, he’d gotten so flustered during a speech that he’d nearly passed out. It was both to his advantage and to his detriment: he’d certainly looked like a passionate speaker. When he got fired up, got to talking on and on, he got red as a beet no matter where he was.

Tom wasn’t used to it, and it embarrassed the hell out of him. Especially here and now, with the calm, collected Hoxian. “Never mind,” he muttered between his hands, letting them drop. “Forget it. You’re just – never mind. And us lower races—” He grimaced. “It’s a hard life. That’s all I’ll say. I had to fend for myself. It’s different now, being this. I don’t know how to feel. Everything’s different now. That answer your question?”

And he leaned back in his seat, crossing his legs and knitting his fingers over one knee. He looked every bit the part of the distinguished statesman, despite what was coming out of his mouth. He still wasn’t comfortable looking Ezre Vks in the face, so he looked around the phasmonia, at the overgrown bushes and the tangling brown vines, the waterfalls of mottled moss.

“So why?” he asked suddenly, frown deepening. “If the gods hate us, if the mona can’t stand the way we are – then why’d they make us this way? I’ve been trying to ask the mona myself, but the whole thing’s a shut door to me.” He glanced back at Ezre, met his dark eyes. “I’m just trying to understand. I’m stuck outside the Cycle, stuck with this body, stuck with this field. I don’t want to be what I am any more than they do. But whenever I try to talk, whenever I try to show them respect, get on my knees and ask for help, I get nothing.”
word count: 1203

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Ezre Vks
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 6
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
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Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:11 pm

Ghost Town
Noon on the 9th of Bethas, 2719
While Ezre had been raised in a culture that considered it desirable to control the expression of one's emotions outwardly in public, he was constantly reminded that the people of Anaxas did not have such similar standards of behavior. Tom was an open book of tumultuous feelings, pages fluttering everywhere as if someone had ripped them out and scattered them on the wind. He tried, it was obvious, he tried to keep his composure far steadier than the chaotic buzz of his entropic field, but, well, the Hoxian boy had perhaps made far too many assumptions about a stranger in his eagerness to meet a raen.

His dark eyes didn't miss the shift in the older man's face, the way the Incumbent's body Tom wore sagged and his smile faded, the way his tone dropped into something less relieved and more ... offended?

Human.

Ezre blinked as if he'd been asleep until now, sitting up with a sharp inhale. There had been absolutely no reason to assume the creature before him had ever been a galdor until the moment he crawled into some stranger's skin. He'd been childish to assume otherwise, of course, far to starry-eyed with the discovery that his hunch had been correct, swept away by the thrill of finding a raen this far from his home nestled so secretly in the mountains of Hox.

The boy's face twisted with the faintest hint of concern. It wasn't fear, though he could hear his pulse between his ears and felt the thrum of his heart pick up faster against his sternum.

Everyone was part of the Cycle, after all.

Everyone until they weren't.

He'd been taught like all Hoxians to believe that the choices one made determined the flow of one's soul in the Cycle, that some standard of morality could be used to influence your so-called station in life upon returning to the physical world. He'd been taught that those born without magic were those who had chosen poorly—humanity and, even worse, passives. Wicks were perhaps the grey area somewhere in between the stains and the pure—not quite good enough to be born a galdor but not so wicked as to be placed in the unfortunate body of someone with no connection to the mona. Those who'd achieved something inside of themselves were given the privilege of experiencing true relationship with the gods and the sentient particles they could control. Galdori were who they were not only for their magical abilities but for their wise choices in previous lives.

It was surely chroveshit.

Raen felt like proof that it was all made up divine rights to keep one race in power and the others crushed beneath their feet.

Not that Ezre had the maturity or the understanding to ever voice those thoughts out loud, not yet, but he had some strange feeling in the depths of his heart that he'd been raised on only partial truths or outright lies. He'd traveled out of a selfish longing to know the truth.

He was afraid, he told himself, because he'd been raised to be. He'd been taught that humanity was immoral and dangerous. He'd been taught that passives were cursed and a sign of a galdori family's innermost shame. He'd been taught that wicks were questionable at best. This was his culture, but even as an eighteen year old student in the prestigious halls of Brunnhold, the young man wasn't entirely convinced of the truth.

"I'm sorry." The boy offered quietly, his contriteness genuine and a hint of honest fear in his tone. He'd overstepped. He'd assumed his safety.

And here they were alone.

"I didn't mean to—I—" He fell silent, delicate jaw clenched in an attempt to contain expressing some very real feelings that eddied and swirled their way to the surface of his whole being, clearly struggling with more words. With a sigh and a glance downward to his inked fingers before he tucked them back into his blanket, suddenly cold, he spoke with a very even tempo,

"We're all a part of the same Cycle, Tom. Human. Galdor. Wick. Passive. Who knows what or who you were before you were Thomas Cooke? Before I was Ezre Vecks? Before Anatole Vauquelin was in the body you wear? You only are different now because you have fallen out of the flow of things and are aware of what you can't be a part of any longer. You're not stuck in your body. You may take another, but now you know that to do so requires the sacrifice of the other soul in the body you desire. Your field—your relationship with the mona, for that matter—is forever different, but it's not forever in disrepair. As a human, you have no idea, of course, but the body you're in is still a galdor. I don't know all the secrets of my people, but I may be able to offer my understanding within limits."

Ezre shrugged in a manner that made it look as though he only had casual interest in the world-changing, mind-altering truths he spoke to the raen when in fact, deep inside, the words were a thrill that sang in his veins.

"Why, though? What caused your soul or my mother's soul or any other raen to occur? To become something more than a wandering spirit or a fixated ghost? I don't know. I want to find out. The Hexxos would tell you that it is not meant to be a burden but a gift—"

Here, the boy paused again as if aware he was crossing a very delicate line.

"—a gift of insight that something is wrong with all of Vita."

Did he believe the same? Maybe.
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word count: 1039
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 293
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 32
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Notes & Tracker
Writer: Graf
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Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:45 pm

BRUNNHOLD PHASMONIA
at noon on the 9th of bethas, 2719.
After an awkward moment, Tom cleared his throat. Without looking at Ezre, he shrugged his shoulders, made a face. He wanted to say something, but he couldn’t think what. He’d never been good at this. Hell, he’d always had a reputation: hair-trigger temper, they’d said, more’n a little moony, holds a grudge like nobody this side of the Tincta Basta – and worse, of course – watch out for ’im when ’e’s drunk, an’ that’s most o’ the time. He remembered how that had worked out for him.

Circle, wasn’t that what galdori were raised to think of humans? With all his careful, blank expressions, with those big golly words and wise platitudes about Cycle this and Hexxos that, it’d slipped Tom’s mind that he might be scared of a raen he’d just learned had been human. Ezre hadn’t let much slip, it was true, but his stumbling apology was revealing enough.

Gruffly, he said, “’S’fine, hey? Already forgotten,” and tried to smile again. It failed miserably, so he at least tried to keep from grimacing. That was the best he could do – that and look Ezre in the eye when he started talking again.

But as the lad spoke of the Cycle and souls, Tom found himself gritting his teeth hard. The words and their implications rang in his head. Clocking hell, he was out of his league. He’d never even thought—Of course, the Cycle being what it was, of course he’d been somebody before he’d been Tom Cooke; he’d been gods knew where. That was something they all took for granted, but of course he had. Ezre had, Anatole had, everybody Tom had ever known had. On impulse, he glanced down at the freckled hands in his lap, then back up at Ezre. He looked disturbed.

Then where’s the proof that I was ever me? he was thinking. Am I still me? If Anatole isn’t Anatole anymore, then – it’s just as good as if I am him, isn’t it? Or am I just nobody?

He’d be nobody if he let himself fall apart, denking around like a fucking fool of a ghost, none the wiser. Hell no. When Ezre spoke again, edging around that final assertion – so bizarre to Tom’s ears – he actually sat up straighter. Set his jaw and clasped his hands together tightly.

“I want to find out, too.”

Period.

“It doesn’t feel like a gift, no – but neither did life in the first place, and I did the best I could with it. Well, maybe not always the best I could. I wasn’t a ballach in my last life; I wasn’t even halfway decent. But if there’s one thing the world’s taught me, Ezre, it’s that you got to take what you need, ’cause nobody’ll give it to you.” The words spilled out of him like fire. “And whoever I was, whoever I’ve been, I’m a raen now, and I’m not just going to lie down and take it and not ask questions. No. I’m with you there. I want to understand, and I’m willing to learn.”

He paused, staring at the ground for a long, hard moment, as if he were grappling with something he wanted to say.

“I’ve been—” He broke off, sucking his teeth sourly and shooting Ezre a sharp, angry look. “Don’t laugh. I’ve been… well, I’ve been trying to learn – Monite. Sack it, I told you, don’t laugh,” he growled. “It’s different. I was always real good at shit like this, but this is different. Not like, say – spending enough time around wicks that you start to pick up Tek. Not that you’d know what that’s like.” He quirked an eyebrow. “I reckon you’re used to book-learning. I learned to read and write when I was a lad, and I’ve picked up a hell of a lot of golly talk since Yaris – you’ve seen me, fitting in with those toffins. But sitting down and focusing on, uh, words on a page, it’s hard for me. I get restless.”

As he talked, he kept trying to tuck the same tuft of hair behind one ear. He felt mung around the young galdor. He felt like he had to reassert himself, had to say, I am literate, you know, like the lad wouldn’t know – like he’d just admitted to Ezre that underneath all that golly, he was barely sapient.

Being honest, that was how he’d felt ever since he got to Brunnhold. It was one thing to play at being a politician, but whenever he set foot in that regal, hushed library, he wanted to run away. Find some hole to crawl into. It’d taken an hour for him to even ask for directions.

As if it were a step in the process of pushing himself out of his comfort zone, he shifted in his seat, scooted to the end of the bench closer to Ezre. “What were you doing here? I reckon you didn’t just decide to go – what, four miles? – out of Brunnhold, to a godsbedamned ghost town, just to have a picnic.”
word count: 938
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 6
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:24 pm

Ghost Town
Noon on the 9th of Bethas, 2719
It was painfully clear to Ezre that he'd allowed his childish excitement to get the best of him, that he'd ignored any necessary caution or stoic distance as safety measures and emotionally rolled right into the situation that was staring at him with awkward sincerity and the best apology he could muster as a once-human wrapped in galdor flesh.

At least the Hoxian was a quick learner.

He swallowed thickly, suddenly aware for the first time of how cold it was outside, and burrowed further into his blanket with what could only be described as a shy, chagrined nod and a reluctant, fleeting smile. It was difficult to keep aloof, however, what with Tom asking deep questions and yearning to understand what he'd become, and so the boy was forced to find a delicate balance between their genuine enthusiasm and their well-honed training.

"No." Ezre objected softly but very firmly to the other man's hot words, dark eyes watching the cloud of his breath as if reading the vapors for portents like the proper Clairvoyant student he was, "You are raen and even though you must displace souls from their bodies to continue your existence, both the life you live now and the life you once had are not only about taking. That was once your choice, but you can also choose to change. If you are here for any reason at all, it is not only about yourself. There must also be giving."

The soft line of his youthful jaw clenched for a moment, but the Hoxian was not afraid of his own boldness for speaking against Tom's opinions, "You can choose to remain who you thought you were or you can decide to become who you are meant to be. My mother said once that life as a raen is an opportunity to discover the essence of a single soul but also an opportunity to share the wisdom of time with those who otherwise forget."

He shrugged, Ezre aware that his mother was austere for the undead, that life within the very small Hexxos community was far outside the norm. This far from home, even he'd questioned some of the teachings he'd been raised with, but here he was face to face with someone, something, nostalgic and familiar and yet so very different.

Tom continued, warning him not to laugh. He tried, eyes widening at the mention of learning Monite. It started as a smirk. Then a snort. And finally a very restrained noise that could only be described as a giggle. The young creature shook his head, allowing a little more of a laugh to escape him before he brought a tattooed hand up to his mouth as if in silent apology,

"I'm sorry. You said not to, but—gods. Really? Come on." He was just a boy again, shrugging dismissively, excusing his existence as a galdor student with the gesture, revealing once again that he was entirely as adult as he could appear. Despite knowing very well the raen in front of him had once been human, magic-less and far below himself in the order of existence, Ezre also knew the other man no longer existed within the bounds of the Cycle. The body he'd chosen as his vessel was a galdor, after all, and it was with a hint of shyness that he spoke in his experienced sort of way,

"Learning Monite is a good step forward, but what you must do is seek to appease the mona. You can know all the words but that doesn't mean your spellwork will ever be heard. Your existence disturbs the mona, but I don't know why. No one understands why. I suppose their long memories know your soul and the mona seems incapable of reconciling your existence outside of the expected cycle. I cannot say it's going to be like apologizing because it's not. But it sort of is. It's more like what comes after saying you're sorry—that reestablishment of trust. You are a wild thing, slowly unraveling and yet desperate to hold yourself to this existence and the mona is wary to bend to the will of something so full of entropy and disorder. It's ... all feelings you will have to work out on your own. Discipline is good for all races. Even ones that used to be human."

Ezre was willing to toss a joke in, subtle and still spoken with that calm tone of voice so that it almost sounded accidental. Thankfully, he smiled just enough to reveal it was, in fact, meant to be an attempt at humor.

He chose not to dwell on who Tom had once been, aware that even the raen couldn't do that any more. In a galdor body—in the body of a clocking politician, for that matter!—he was most likely so out of his element that being a displaced soul was only one of his many worries. Did Incumbent Vauquelin have a family? Children? Did his peers have expectations? The Hoxian student couldn't even imagine the kinds of responsibilities the man had been forced to navigate through all while attempting to stay rooted in a body that he didn't even belong in.

"Me? Oh. Well, I just—" Blinking, Ezre shuffled a little, "—um—the walk, however cold, was meditative. It will be on the way home, too. All four hours. I came to make offerings to those whose families no longer visit in hopes of bringing them some peace, so yes, I personally don't mind a picnic in a phasmonia. I'm aware I'm strange. I was ... also here to practice Clairvoyance theories. I believe there may be ways to communicate with restless spirits, ghosts, the dead. I have been met with failure thus far, but, well, I also didn't expect to do so without magic today, Tom. And you?"
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word count: 1048
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 293
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 32
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Notes & Tracker
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:38 pm

BRUNNHOLD PHASMONIA
at noon on the 9th of bethas, 2719.
Oh, fucking hell, and clock the Circle. Just when he thought he’d gotten over it, he heard the lad’s firm no, and gritted his teeth hard. Again that helpless frustration. ‘No’? To what? What could Ezre Vks, for all his wisdom – and he really was a soft, silly golly boy underneath all that, wasn’t he? – what could he possibly know of any of this? What in the gods’ names could he know of survival? Of taking what you need? He wasn’t a raen, and he certainly wasn’t a gods-damned human.

Tom opened his mouth to speak again, to cut across him in anger. Then the young galdor spoke again, and he stopped short. He sat and listened.

Nobody had ever told him that.

Nobody had ever told him that he could change. It’d been easy to forget, of course, in that maelstrom of blood and whisky and panic. If he’d ever served a god, it’d been adrenaline; he’d never known the assurance of a tomorrow after tomorrow, of a love that lasted. “Hope” for him had meant survival until dusk. It’d meant choosing to whom you were indebted, but being a debtor nonetheless. He’d been feared, of course, and he’d been valued for what he could do with a knife, what he could do with his fists; that was just the problem. His capacity for cruelty had been beloved of the cruel. Oh, he’d been among the cruelest, wild and mad and cruel, and he’d always known that he was utterly beyond hope.

The look of offense dropped off his face, replaced by confusion and then— what? He gave Ezre an oddly blank look. He didn’t speak; again, he only listened, his eyes on Ezre’s face, unreadable. The fold of his hands in his lap was almost demure. Sitting here in the freezing cold, in the early Bethas silence that lay thick across the phasmonia like moss, he felt, for the first time, humbled.

‘Share the wisdom of time’? Him? It didn’t make a fucking lick of sense, but for a precious grain of a second, he liked the sound of it. Healing, for once, instead of hurting.

So he didn’t say anything as he saw that shit-eating little smirk sneak onto the lad’s face. When Ezre snorted, Tom’s left eye twitched. But he had to admit there was something funny about it, or else he wouldn’t have said not to laugh in the first place; embarrassing as it was, he reckoned it was funny as all hell, though he wasn’t doing any laughing himself.

What Ezre was saying was making a lot of sense, though he didn’t like all of it. He studied the young man’s pale face with its even, thoughtful look.

At length, he responded, voice uncharacteristically soft and measured. “Well, I was never much good at ‘sorry’, and a hell of a lot worse at trust. But – I reckon it’s like cats, ain’t it? Hey, bear with me.” He took a deep breath, a little cloud of white fog, and smiled wryly. “I don’t tell many people this, but I fuckin’ love cats. They got some connection. They know shit we don’t – in their hearts, not in their little cat brains. Well, anyway, they don’t just trust anyone, hey? You’ve got to be careful. It’s special, to be loved by cats. You have to earn it, and it’s not easy. They see right to the core of you, no matter who you are.”

He cleared his throat. He felt like he sounded clocking insane, but he went on.

“So you’ve got to treat them careful-like, got to speak their language. They blink at each other, bob their heads, all that. You learn to read them. If you want a cat to trust you, you have to let it come to you – you’ve got to be quiet and still, got to be careful with how you look it in the eye. But—” Tom shrugged. “It’s the most precious thing you’ll ever have. It’s worth more than the world, winning the trust of something that doesn’t trust easy.

“I don’t – listen, I don’t want to bend anything to my will. I just want to figure all this out, this being outside the Cycle, this – whatever – and I figure the mona’s not a bad place to start. Maybe you’re right, though. Maybe I’ve been going about all this wrong.”
He raised his eyebrows. “You’re a wise young man, eh, Ezre?”

Fidgeting in his seat, Tom cleared his throat, as if he were more than a little embarrassed at having given out that bit of praise. Tugging his coat tighter around him and shoving his hands deep into the pockets, he tried – to no avail – to get even halfway back to comfortable. When Ezre mentioned the time it’d take to get back to the Stacks, he stifled a groan. Hulali’s tits. How fun.

The sun was high enough, now; it was right overhead, so that the shadows were crisp and lingered close to the gnarled trees and dusty round houses. Tom wondered if this was as warm as it was going to get, and then wondered if he ought to be heading back himself. Ezre might’ve been able to handle this, Hoxian sapling that he was, but Tom was aching with the chill.

A spark of interest entered his eyes, though, when Ezre mentioned his theories.

He raised a thin hand. “You mean – use Clairvoyance to talk to ghosts? Like, uh – scrying, or – or what? I didn’t mean to interrupt you by coming up here, but I’m glad you, uh, got what you wanted. In the end. I don’t know what I thought I’d find up here. Ghosts like me, maybe.” His eyes wandered out over at the worn little structures, clouding for a moment, before returning to Ezre. “I found answers after all, thanks to you. But listen, if you’re still doing your – Clairvoyant thing up here – you mind if I watch? So long as having a raen around doesn’t scare all the other ghosts off, or something like that.”
word count: 1109
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 6
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Thu May 23, 2019 2:17 pm

Ghost Town
Noon on the 9th of Bethas, 2719
Ezre Vks had honestly never heard such an eloquent analogy about the mona and the hearts of cats before in his young, teenaged life, and so his dark eyes widened and his attention was, for that brief moment shared between himself and this raen dressed in galdor flesh, focused very warmly on the man telling it. He blinked, smiling in a way that was both knowing and childish, immature and embarrassed but also aware enough of how the mona actually worked to be almost a little chiding or coy. He nodded, however, not in total disagreement with it all, pausing for a moment,

"The mona bends to our will as the chosen ones of the Circle, but we have not broken it. There is an acquiescence and it's a willing, generous one. I can understand how that terminology would be confusing to, uh, a human, but among galdorkind, it holds merit." The Hoxian wasn't at all trying to sound conceited, and his somewhat cold-chapped, serene features twisted into the faintest hint of how frustrated he was with finding the right terminology and the right way to explain things he himself took for granted on a daily basis to someone who could not possibly comprehend the vastness of it all without having experienced the power of it coursing through his own body in the same way as a sorcerer like himself could,

"My wisdom is from my people, unclouded by the shallowness that seems to plague the Kingdom of Anaxas—no offense, Incumbent." Ezre had the gall to joke, obviously tongue and cheek, the hint of a real smile wrinkling the edges of his narrow gaze. That expression quickly became surprise when the raen asked if he could participate in whatever he had planned, magically,

"Clairvoyance is the magic of communication, though galdorkind has academically only used it to talk to the living—each other—sometimes over impressively great distances." The short, young Hoxian tucked his things away as he spoke, everything fitting snugly into a small leather satchel. His tattooed fingers, undeniably beginning to ache with the cold, instead pulled out a cloth-wrapped package, the woven material containing his more portable magical equipment needed for Clairvoyant conversation, "While my professors would surely laugh at me, it's my goal to discover whether the mona can be coaxed into communicating at a soul-level of connection. Just like we can find our true name within, monic as it is, it's my theory that our souls also have some connection with the mona. It's probably ridiculous, but I might as well spend my education doing something that keeps me out of trouble, right?"

Ezre stood, stretching and swaying his hips, his breath a misty cloud in front of his face while he adjusted his layers of warmth. The obvious shift in his field from relaxed to focused was tangible, a powerful feeling of motion not unlike a motorcab in the Stacks lurching into motion after stopping to pick up a rider,

"Instead of just watching, why don't you help me, Tom? You are a rare representative not of Anaxi politics but of my, uh, target audience, are you not?" The young man actually smiled, genuine and inviting, any discomfort he might have felt about knowing a bit too much about the raen's origins and perhaps also his history based on the Hoxian's own assumptions, they'd exchanged enough secrets here in the phasmonia just in Brunnhold's shadow that he couldn't help but trust him. They both knew more than enough about each other by accident and needful admission, so here they were in their exposed comfort with each other,

"It won't take long. We probably shouldn't stay out too much longer anyway—I have quite the walk home ahead of me. You won't have to cast, obviously, but perhaps I'll have to ask you to wander out of sight. If you're as curious as I am, that is."
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 293
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 32
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
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Writer: Graf
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Fri May 24, 2019 8:18 pm

BRUNNHOLD PHASMONIA
at noon on the 9th of bethas, 2719.
Tom still felt a little embarrassed at his fumbling, deeply human grasp of the mona, but he wasn’t sure he could take what Ezre said for the reality of things, either. Not that he knew a damn thing about it one way or another, ’course – but he suspected his hama’d have told a different story about the relationship between vroo and mona. He was starting to understand what made a spoke’s poetry so different from a Brunnhold-educated golly’s; more than just airy philosophy, it was a different way of life. A different way of living with sentient magic.

Watching Ezre take the cloth bundle out of his satchel, he let out a snort.

“Well, it’s better than the trouble I was gettin’ into at your age.” He tried to imagine being seventeen, eighteen – a lifetime and a death ago, felt like – with the whole world and all its temptations laid out in front of him, taking an interest in vodundun like this. Talking to dead folks with mirrors. Studying in dusty libraries and cobweb-ridden crypts. To each his own, Tom supposed; Ezre was hardly your average teenager.

Still, the implications of all this were interesting – now that he himself was dead, that was. “If the mona’s got some connection to the soul, and everybody’s got a soul, not just arcane—” He let the words drop into a meaningful pause, frowning. “You got me curious. Don’t seem too likely to me, but what do I know?”

Tom watched him stand up and stretch; he felt the shift in the lad’s field, and it made the back of his neck prickle. He’d seen the lad’s invitation to participate coming from a mile away, but he supposed he couldn’t see the harm in that, either. With some surprise, he realized that he was feeling the stirrings of excitement. “Hell, I think I get it. During the, uh – what’d she call it – the espial, you got to make a ley channel, right? Hard to do that with ghosts, maybe, ’cause they’re just souls. But then there’s raen – I’m a ghost, but the incumbent had ley lines. So what happens?” A flicker of a giddy smile, quickly-stifled. “Looks like an Anaxi politician’s going to be of use, for once.”

As he spoke, he pushed himself up from the bench, bouncing on his heels to get the blood flowing again. “Boemo. Might as well,” he said with a shrug, trying to feign disinterest. The energy of his movements gave him away completely.

He started away from the benches, then paused briefly.

“Just be careful, eh?” he tossed over his shoulder. “You don’t want a dead incumbent on your hands, lad. If the hungry ghost doesn’t get you first.”

He wasn’t too concerned; Ezre had more experience with both voo and raen than he did, after all. That didn’t mean he wasn’t jumpy, though. He buried his hands deep in his pockets and drew his shoulders up around his ears, cursing with a puff of white breath. Brittle undergrowth crunched beneath his boots. As he rounded a bend in the path, the benches and the young galdor passed out of sight, obscured by a row of wild, untended shrubs. Some twenty feet ahead of him, a gnarled tree bent to stretch its knobbly arms out over the path. He headed toward it.

He leaned back against the trunk, taking a deep breath. Whether it was fear or the cold, he didn’t know, but that prickling at the back of his neck was getting worse; he’d started to wonder if this was a good idea, after all. All this ghostly chroveshit was getting to him. Felt good to have his back against something solid. He tried to focus on the phasmonia around him, the way the light played over the little houses. A bird alighted on a perennial shrub, wormed its way into the bushy green.

He started whistling, softly and tunelessly.
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 6
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
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Wed May 29, 2019 11:38 pm

Ghost Town
Noon on the 9th of Bethas, 2719
The boy had no counter to the accusation that his idea of trouble was so obviously different from the raen's original youth, realizing that as Tom said those words, the Hoxian couldn't properly imagine an Anaxi human's childhood. At all, honestly. He wasn't sure he even wanted to try, and the very thought left a strange taste in his mouth. Dark eyes widened for a moment, the flicker of surprise or shame or both crossing his otherwise cold-burned, stoic features. Blinking, Ezre was grateful for the shift back to the mona and his expression warmed into an actual smirk,

"The conclusions of such implied connection are scandalous, I'm aware." He spoke quietly, simply, almost humbly were it not for the tension that hung in what was left unsaid, "If we are all the same when not wearing vessels of flesh, what does that mean for us when we do? Or, perhaps, what should that mean?"

He glanced down to the cloth-wrapped collection of things he'd removed from his satchel, setting it directly on the icy ground of the stone artificial clearing created between the benches in the middle of the miniature city made just for the dead. Unwrapping the swatch of fabric, various crystals sparkled in the afternoon sunlight, most of which were completely clear, but a few had other colors deep within their angular surfaces. It was too cold for aquamancy and Ezre was quite sure it was too soon to show Tom anything about his experiments with sanguimancy.

"Yes. But you clearly still have a mind—is the soul the seat of the mind or is the mind something separate that you've managed to cling to outside of the Cycle? Do ghosts have any mind left at all? Or is it just what makes you so different? You're inhabiting a body with ley lines, it's true—" Tattooed fingers ran slowly over each of the crystals while he spoke, not looking up right away, his breath a thick cloud. Selecting one, he made to quickly hand it to the not-Incumbent, wanting to make sure the older man took one with him as he began to wander away. There was no hesitance in the reaching, no discomfort in being so close to the disquiet that had become the raen's meager remnant of a field,

"—but if Clairvoyance can be done between objects instead of bodies, then, what's the requirement for communication? Oh—careful, sure. I, uh, I promise this shouldn't be dangerous, but I can't guarantee it won't attract the attention of other ... residents. If there are any at all here, that is. I wonder what a ghost would think of you?"

He both grinned and shrugged then, a motion meant to stem the excitement that fluttered in his chest and warmed the tones of his voice. Returning to the crystals and other accouterments common to scryers, Ezre selected his own as a focus. While there were other tools he probably could have made good use of, he chose to forgo them all in favor of dealing directly with what could only be considered the most optimal of test subjects the Hexxos acolyte could ever have hoped for. Folding the fabric again, he chose to sit directly on the cold stone, shuddering at the chill that immediately seeped into every bone.

Settling, he listened to the sound of Tom's galdor body wander away, hearing his faint whistling and the occasional crunch of a boot against lingering ice or hoarfrost or withered plant life. He heard the breeze tickle leafless branches and pass over stone. He heard his excited heartbeat. He heard a rebellious bird. Dark eyes closed, he focused on the ruddy glow of the back of his eyelids, fingers finding a comfortable grip on the crystal. Ezre carefully gathered his field,

"When you find somewhere to stop, hold the crystal up so that the sunlight passes through it." The Hoxian spoke up so his voice carried on the frigid air, "Shine it on anything you wish, then try to relax and create a space for me in your mind."

It was an odd request and one he struggled to explain to a non-Clairvoyant—the vestibule experience—but hopefully the raen had his own unusual understanding of occupying space as it was and could perhaps slip into the mindset easier than if Ezre attempted to explain it to someone totally inexperienced.

Opening his eyes again, centered and ready, the boy held up his crystal in both hands, held delicately between lithe, inked fingers. He'd purposefully sat in such a way that when he held the clear mineral up, the rising sun filtered through it and focused in a thin line over his face. Once he'd found the angle he wanted, he promptly closed his eyes again and let the sensation of light fill his senses, light his vision, and warm his skin.

Usually, scrying of any kind required a witness—someone on the other end of the spell willing to be the target and the vessel of insight. While Tom was willing, he was not casting any receiving spell of his own nor was he given the benefit of any training. More so than that, however, crystomancy required multiple readers in order to even interpret the faces of the crystal, but Ezre just wanted that sensation of contact. He didn't even care about what was seen so long as there was successful sight, so long as the connection was real. Tom's crystal wasn't entirely necessary, but he wanted to give him an object of focus—something that the Hoxian in turn could search for.

Ezre began to speak quietly his invocation, acknowledging the mona in his field and then extending a greeting to the mona that permeated the hallowed grounds of the phasmonia. It was lengthy and full of an almost superfluous formality, his respect for the mona very austere and ceremonial. Moving from invocation into the spellwork itself, he began to shift his attention toward the warmth and light that filled his senses, an act of almost projecting his conscious mind into the brightness, toward the crystal itself. He felt his field come into sharp and similar focus: the angular object he held in his cold, tattooed hands.

He was no master. Proficient but hardly possessing of expertise. Merely a student, and an unusual one at that. His accomplishments thus far had reached classmates across campus and in various sections of the Stacks. He'd touched familiar witnesses. This time, he had to travel through the chilled, open air of this city for the dead and attempt to touch the unexplored, undocumented, unknown mind of a soul existing where it didn't belong.

He was slow and deliberate, senses expanding as his body relaxed, shoulders sagging even as his arm muscles protested how he held even a small object aloft at the height he decided.

Opening his eyes and lowering the crystal so that he could rest it in his palms, dark eyes stared into its surface even while his mind began to drift among the miniature houses, not seeing them so much as experiencing them in a tangible way that couldn't ever be verbally explained. The hollow emptiness of the phasmonia was a stark contrast to his clairvoyant studies on a campus full of minds, but he was not at all prepared for the sensation of the raen!

The minds of the living, the seat of consciousness in a body inhabited by its own soul, were warm places in the landscape of Clairvoyant drifting while they were casting and seeking their vestibule. Everything was so very instantaneous and yet as he reached beyond his own limited, mortal but god-extended galdor senses, Ezre felt the strangest of pulls. It was not the same warmth of someone alive, but it wasn't at all reminiscent of the kind of chill he'd learned to expect from preparing a dead body, either. It was, much like Tom's field, a seething tangle but not of mona, of something else.

Something different.

Something that reached back.

Thick like some chilled miasma or the whisper of a frigid breeze, the veil between the boy's consciousness and the man's was nothing quite like he'd expected nor anything he was prepared for. It was inviting but also terrifying. Was this a hunger? The hunger? Was it some other aspect of being outside of the cycle that both invited his company but also pushed him away?

The Hoxian's voice wavered while he continued to press on with his Monite, hesitating only for a moment before he actually projected his senses further still, attempting to force his way past the writhing, chaotic mess. There was a mind indeed and Ezre wasn't at all experienced enough to understand what was happening, working in a Quantitative ley bridge and attempting to grasp at some sort of explanation. Rolling the crystal in his hands and concentrating on its many surfaces reflecting the sunlight, he sought some sort of vision and felt for the hint of sound vibrating through the chilled minerals.

Off Topic
Leaving this open for you to describe what Tom is looking at and what he's hearing so that Ezre can experience some of it vaguely. Internal thoughts are fine here, too. He is a willing vestibule in his own way so he will feel the weight of a presence but it's not two-way communication.
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word count: 1657
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 293
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 32
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Notes & Tracker
Writer: Graf
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Fri May 31, 2019 4:14 pm

BRUNNHOLD PHASMONIA
at noon on the 9th of bethas, 2719.
Radical words for a golly lad, those’d been. With all his talk of what this madness should mean, Tom might’ve taken him for some kind of sympathizer, if he didn’t know any better. For the umpteenth time, he found himself wondering what kind of a place Hox was.

Didn’t have long to muse on it, though. He perked up, hearing Ezre’s voice from round the bend.

“Boemo!” he called, casual-like, trying to squash down his nervous anticipation. He weighed the rock Ezre’d given him in his hand; it had a nice, solid feel. He sank to a sitting position with an effort. Shutting his eyes, he took a deep breath and leaned his head back against the damp, chilly bark.

Make space? He’d heard talk like this from the madame; something about how one of the parts of your mind was for you to keep, but if you were a willing recipient, you’d have to let the scryer into a section like an enclosure. The vestibule. Area of consent. He wasn’t keen on letting anybody into his head, but he’d agreed to this, and he was as curious as the lad, in his way. “Make space,” he muttered, rubbing his eyes. “Make a godsdamn space. You heard ‘im.”

Blinking, then, he took up the rock. The sun was right overhead now, dancing in the dew and frost, and it glinted sharply off the edges of the crystal in his hand. He shifted in his seat, holding it out so it’d catch the sun and throw a little strip of light onto the ground, like Ezre had said. He tilted it this way and that, watching the light skim across dead grass and glistening dirt. As the light picked up a tree’s root, just a little lump poking its head up out of the ground, he stopped, shifting in his seat and passing the crystal to his other hand to get a steadier look.

“Right, then, Ezre,” he muttered, staring hard at the root. Then he tried to carve out a space in his head.

He hadn’t concentrated like this in a long time – or ever, being honest. All his first inclinations were to tense up, to throw up walls and fill the silence with noise instead. He’d been building walls and distracting himself his whole life; he was fair good at trying not to focus on anything, softening the sharpness with drink or losing himself in a trip. Trying to be anywhere other than here and now. Now, being a raen, he was losing himself anyway. Usually, his head was a tangled mess of threads, more unruly than the roots of a tree. He’d gotten worse since he’d died, though being in a body made it easier to keep his head together. Still, his nature made him want to be anywhere but sitting here, made awkwardly aware of his stolen body, of the way that the chill breeze ruffled his hair and made his skin prickle.

Of what he was seeing and hearing: the rasp of cold air in and out of his lungs, the thump of his heart in his ears. (It was beating awful hard; he didn’t like this, sitting still and just experiencing.) The barren boughs of the tree above him creaked, and a heavy bird alighted on a branch with a croaking call. Then it was gone again in a flurry of wings.

He stared at that gnarled root, watching the echoed light flicker over its scars. Tried to clean up just one little section of his mind, make it a welcome instead of a messy snarl. Tried to keep it clear and keep it open, keep it waiting and focused. Make it neat and full of light, like hama’s garden – a gentle welcome to those he wanted to welcome, a space that was of the house but not quite in the house.

He wasn’t prepared for the weight of the other mind’s presence, but it was nothing as intrusive as he thought it’d be. He swallowed thickly, keeping his focus on the root. An ant had just scuttled out of a tiny thicket of weeds and was trying to climb up onto the root by one of its steepest sides; absently, Tom nudged it with his fingertip, urging it round to the gentler slope. As it crawled up onto the root, he followed it with his eyes, clambering over the ridges and lumps.

Is he here yet? Can’t hear ’im or nothin’—

—clock the Circle, my back hurts an’ it’s cold as…—

Wonder if wicks do anything like this. Ish would’ve loved this shit – crystals an’ all…
He steered his thoughts abruptly away from Taufiq. Focus, focus. Focus! The little ant was wandering off of the root, and he found himself irritated. He redirected it again with a fingertip.

He thought briefly about calling out to Ezre, but then thought better of it. If the lad was deep in concentration, he didn’t want to distract him. He didn’t want to break his own concentration, either, tenuous as it was.

So he sat still, trying to focus on the root and the ant in the patch of light.
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 6
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:57 pm

Ghost Town
Noon on the 9th of Bethas, 2719
Ezre reached out with all of his senses, both mortal and magical, dark eyes focused on the smooth surfaces of the crystal in his hands, tattooed fingers turning the clear thing over against his gloved palms. As the sun sparkled off the small thing, he began to feel himself brush against something he wasn't entirely prepared for—the untethered spirit of Tom Cooke.

Like a writhing mass of serpents or an angry hive of bees, Tom's raen self seemed to reach out for his projected mind, and the mona he was using as the tether of his connection reacted accordingly. The rush of magical motion stole his breath with a hiss and a thick, hot cloud, what he would one day know to call spirit tendrils literally brushing against his consciousness greedily, hungry for his warmth even as the mona met the motions with a vicious charge, catapulting the Hoxian boy's connection with it, shoving his senses into the space Tom had made for him in his undead mind.

For a brief moment, it was all an interesting enough connection to not at all feel bad, Ezre for a moment thrilled at the success of his endeavor! He'd made a Clairvoyant with a raen! With a soul shoved out of the Cycle of life and death! It was possible to do this with magic! But ... well ... uh ... something was wrong. No. Not wrong? It was just, well, different. Weaker. More confined. Uncomfortable. Not quite the same as being in a willing galdor's mind, no matter how willing Tom may have been for this experiment.

He could have sworn he felt Tom's borrowed body's heartbeat, heard birdsong and the flutter of wings, and saw the flicker of his vision in the facets of the crystal as the other man glanced around from where he was, but he also felt the nauseating wrenching motion of monic objection to the connection he sought to make, a connection that the displaced spirit of the man both seemed to want for less than friendly reasons but also seemed denied to keep because of the mona's anger that Tom existed as he did at all.

Eyes narrowed at the little ant that crawled in triplicate along the crystal—

By Bash's enduring patience! What foolishness had he wrought in his excitement?

—his mother had found her stability, had made some sort of bizarre peace with the mona that Ezre admittedly didn't understand, but the poor not-Incumbent had yet to even attempt such a thing and here the Hexxos acolyte was all but shoving the mona into the cracks in this still new and unsteady raen's tentative connection.

The boy gasped and immediately broke the connection, fingers curling around the crystal and eyes snapping shut as he spoke a quick, snippy phrase in Monite and shove away from the vestibule he'd just barely touched upon in Tom's mind, in his very soul. He pleaded for the mona to leave the man alone, to return to him as one would call in a wayward herd of kenser, drawing his field back to himself and desperate to ward whatever residual mona that was attempting to continue ejecting the spiritual interloper from the flesh he'd put on like a coat.

It felt like brailing, such a sudden change in direction, and the Hoxian winced in pain as his head was struck with a sharp pain,"I'm sorry!"

He shouted as soon as he could talk without risking brailing, standing and rushing to where he knew the man to be because he'd seen it, because he'd felt it, because he'd been so close to him for just a handful of heartbeats that the Clairvoyant awareness lingered in Ezre's communication-honed senses, "Tom! Are you alright? I was—I didn't—didn't think about—"

It was too cold to notice any change in temperature, and Ezre was too distracted to notice the whisper-like ripples through the frigid air as if someone very, very far away had put a record on a phonograph but all it was doing was speaking.

Something else had become aware that it was not alone, the angry shifting of mona that filled the area they'd made their frigid laboratory disturbing everything, seen and not yet seen.

"—preparedness."

Off Topic
Please roll a 1d6 in order to determine the direction of your reply!

1: Tom's soul tendrils feel as though they are barely able to stay rooted for another moment, shockingly ripped from place by the mona itself with some cruelly tangible twisting sensation. Please take your reply to more or less desperately stay connected to your borrowed body. Tom will experience some memory loss and weakness for a few days. This interesting moment with Ezre will become harder to remember, fuzzy, and way weirder than "normal" (details will disappear and attempting to remember more will cause immediate anxiety). Roll again to see just how incapacitated Tom is for a few moments while Ezre figures out what to do.

2-3: Woah there! What's going on? It's very obvious that this sort of contact has totally begun to uproot Tom's soul tendrils in Anatole. This sensation is very strong and after steadying himself, Tom will be weak and discombobulated (but not incapacitated) for at least a day. This experience with Ezre will cause anxiety every time it's brought back to Tom's mind.

4-5: Tom's raen self is rocked to the core by the Clairvoyant connection and he can feel the way the mona is actively seeking to unravel him from his rooted place. This is extremely uncomfortable, causing muscle weakness, nausea, a splitting headache, and lots of odd twitching for the rest of the day. No other long-term effects will be noticed, however.

6: Acutely aware that something is happening, Tom is able to bolster himself within his borrowed body, riding out what can only be described as strong waves of monic interference as if the mona was actually attempting to forcefully shove the raen back out into spirit form. This is excruciating and difficult, but he managse to keep his grip on everything. Strange spasms, headaches, and dizziness will affect him for the rest of the day.
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