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A Duke's Dilemma, A1C2
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MrDumbass
MrDumbass' Gallery (17)

A Duke's Dilemma, A1C3

A Duke's Dilemma, A1C5
chapter_3.doc
Keywords human 45877, angel 4672, hurt 618, comforting 189, slightly damned 77, jakkai 72, buwaro elexion 29, fire demon 26, kieri suizahn 15, khamega 2, hukai 1, naughty jokes 1
Heathcliff was almost done with the store table he'd set up on the street, grumbling to himself, when he saw Buwaro and Kieri approaching from down the road.  "There you are, where were you?" Heathcliff asked irritably.  "Little help?"

"Sure!" Kieri almost chirped, and she and Buwaro helped with the last bits of setup.

Heathcliff stared at the two of them as they finished.  "Why are you so chipper this morning, Kieri?" he asked them grumpily.  He then blushed as a thought occurred to him.  "D-don't tell me you snuck off and..."

"Um," Buwaro said, quickly realizing what he'd meant, "okay, we won't...?"

Heathcliff facepalmed.  "Oy," he groaned.

"We are aware of the potential consequences, Heathcliff," Kieri said.  "We...agreed it was okay, for now."

"Not sure you made the right decision," he grunted, "but I guess it's a little late now."  He walked to the wagon's back door and knocked on the door, saying, "Come on, your friends have already been up and banging this morning."

Rhea groaned.  "I'm getting up, don't worry."

Buwaro blinked.  "She is sleepy," he said quietly to Kieri, "if she didn't get that."  Kieri giggled at that.

It was almost an hour into their sales when Rhea blinked.  "Wait, you said something earlier," she asked Heathcliff, now fully awake.  "Something about Buwaro and Kieri being up and doing...something or other?"

"Each other," the grumpy Human grunted.

Rhea stared at the two, shocked.  "No way," she murmured.  Kieri nodded, smiling, and Buwaro laughed sheepishly.  "Oh wow, so what'd he look like down there?" she asked Kieri with a perverted grin.  Heathcliff and Kieri alike balked at the Jakkai girl's words, the former none too pleased that they were talking about that in public, at his store front.  "And did you guys enjoy yourselves?"

Kieri was more than surprised at her forwardness on a matter that private.  "That first one is...a little too private to ask," she stated, a bit stiff in speech.  "As for enjoying it," she admitted, smiling as her expression warmed again, "neither of us lasted long.  We were both so nervous and eager that we...r-released not long after we first...you know."

Rhea giggled at the admission.  Buwaro was blushing, but grinning as well.  Heathcliff was merely massaging his sinuses, trying not to snap at the lewd discussion.  "Wow," the Jakkai grinned, "guess you two need to get some practice in, ah?"

Both lovebirds froze, blushing bright red, while Rhea fell over from the force of her laughter at their expressions of embarrassment.  By then, the Sinclair patriarch had had enough.  "Alright, stop it," Heathcliff practically growled, "I'm not going to get any customers if you're busy being perverts."

"Sorry," Rhea chuckled as she managed to recover.  "Just a little teasing at their expense."

"Keep it for later," he sighed.  "Now come on, we're low on Water magic knick-knacks."

The street-side shop had plenty of customers all day, and the three began to their keep with the Sinclair Wagon.  The day was fairly long, and almost a bit boring, though there were plenty of folk around to see and talk to.

Due to his appearance and his pleasant nature, Buwaro had attracted a few stares, which he managed to take in stride by politely answering questions honestly, and as fully as he could.  Surprisingly, no trouble started about the boy being a Demon, though Heathcliff noted one young lady, a Khamega, approached the stands because of him, and asked, "Is that...are you real?  Or is that just a costume?"

"Uh, yeah, I'm real," Buwaro said, looking nervous.  "In the way you mean."

She seemed surprised.  "Uh, did you...is there a reason you're with an...um..."

"Snowy's my friend, yeah," he replied.  "I know that the Stupid War was going on and stuff, but it's not like I'm a bad person, and neither is she."

"...why would she be?" she asked, now looking cross.

Buwaro didn't understand, and his expression showed as much.  "It's not like Angels are all 'pure good,' any more than Demons are all 'pure bad.'  I know some bad Demons, but...well, I met an Angel a few days ago who tried to kill us both.  It took a while, but I think he's starting to understand now.  So maybe they're not all bad.  They're just, I dunno, misled."

"You think so?" the young Khamega asked.

"I dunno," Buwaro shrugged.  "I mean, that Stupid War seems to still be going on, so maybe people are just too scared of each other to even try to talk."

The Khamega nodded thoughtfully, and after a while, she found something to buy from the stall.  Heathcliff noticed that the boy's honesty had kept her around, and better than just procuring a sale, he'd developed a positive reputation – for himself, and by extension the shop itself.

Perhaps he could keep the boy around, if he was that helpful for sales.

It was a little before noon when one Human, an older male probably in his mid-60s, dressed in a plain set of monk's robes, came up to the table, staring intently at Buwaro and Kieri.  He quietly watched them for a moment, his amber eyes examining them very closely.  His stare, though gentle and nonthreatening, was enough to make the couple nervous.  Finally, he said, "I never thought I'd see this day."

"Huh?" Buwaro asked.  Kieri nervously fingered her sword under the table.

"I have seen strange things," the man said, "things that many would never believe.  Things that boggle my mind to this day.  But I had hoped this day would come – when a shadow would learn to dance with the light."  He smiled sadly.  "I am blessed and cursed to live in these times – blessed to see that the bitterest of enemies can truly fall in love, and cursed because times are about to become far too interesting for these old bones."

Kieri blinked.  "Curse?  Interesting?" she asked, confused.

"An old curse from another land," he said, "is to say, 'May you live in interesting times.'  That's besides the point, though."  He straightened a bit, as if preparing to speak of something of a weighted nature.  "Young lady, young man, I have seen your peoples suffer from the conflict you have.  More than that, I have seen a future where you finally allow each other's wounds to heal, and even help each other to recover.  I had feared the day would never come for you, but it seems that it will finally happen."

Buwaro blinked.  "Then, you're a prophecy?"

The man paused.  "I believe you mean prophet."

"Yeah, that," the boy replied sheepishly.

The man stared at the boy for a moment, then finally chuckled.  "Yes, of a sort.  In any case," he said, "you, boy, will need a title.  Any nobleman worth their salt has one, and a Duke such as yourself has power in his title."

"A title?" Buwaro asked.  He wasn't sure if he should ask how the man knew about his "position."

"It is said that each Duke had an elaborate phrase that was associated with their power and status," Heathcliff said slowly, "one that could strike fear into their enemies just by announcing it.  It was said that any who served the Duke could also draw on that name's power, with their master's blessing."  He watched the prophet closely, obviously concerned.

"More than that," the prophet stated, seeming to ignore Heathcliff's nervousness.  "The Duke's title could bring the weight of destiny itself onto his promises, and bind the land to his will that he may have a home where his power was greater."

Kieri shivered slightly.  "That would be incredible.  How would he...?"

"I do not know, myself," the man shrugged, "but the boy could find it out himself if he had his title."

Buwaro closed his eyes, thinking.  "You said," he murmured, "that I was a shadow that danced with light."  All eyes from the crowd, and even a few of those passing on the street, turned to him as he said that.  He smiled at the words.  "The Shadow that Dances With Light," he replied, more firmly.

The prophet nodded with a sad smile, seeming to understand.  "Destiny will be a difficult thing to stand before, with such a title," he said quietly.  "I wish you the best of luck, and the blessings of all the Gods," he said with a bow.  With that, he purchased an irregular pearl that Heathcliff had and left them to be.

Rhea had deliberately not spoken until he left.  "Weird guy," she muttered.

Buwaro didn't pay her much mind.  Instead, he found that the phrase was on his mind often for the rest of the day.  He was sure this was meant to be his title.  But how exactly did it work?  He supposed he'd find out eventually.

Hopefully not too soon – it sounded like he'd be involved in stopping the Stupid War, which meant he'd be involved in the War itself.  He shivered to think of it.

@@@@

As the day ended, the stall was packed up for the night.  The trio were in the wagon, eating and talking about the day.  After a while though, Buwaro noticed the dark expression on Kieri's face as she sat by herself in the corner of the wagon.  The best course of action, he decided, was to cuddle up to her, and though she was surprised, all that mattered to him was her pain.

He desperately wished he could take away whatever pain she was feeling inside.  If only he could...

"What's wrong, Buwaro?" she asked quietly.

"Just wishing I could make it so whatever was hurting you stopped," he replied.

Rhea glanced up, nodding quietly.  "You've got friends here, you know," she said.  "If you have something that you need to get off your chest, say it."

Kieri hesitated to even speak, but finally decided that she should explain.  Apparently, she'd had an argument with Kazai before they got separated, and that they hadn't gotten a chance to make up before Lazuli attacked.  She had begun to feel some doubts, and was considering the possibility that, perhaps, she was looking for someone who didn't want to see her again.

Buwaro grimaced.  "Kieri," he said quietly, "do you think your...experience with your mom is making you think these things?"

Rhea nodded.  "I'd say so.  I dunno much about psychology, but I know that, according to the guys who do know it, your childhood and how you're treated during that time shapes you, for better or for worse."

Kieri was about to speak, but then hesitated, thinking about that.  "You think...you think I'm wrong?" she asked quietly.

"If you're right," Buwaro said, "then I'd say you're better off without him, or anyone else in your family.  But I'm gonna bet – and hope – that you're wrong."  He smiled sadly.  "Don't give up on yourself."

"Thank you," Kieri smiled, hugging Buwaro and Rhea both.  "I couldn't ask for better friends."

"Well, I mean, you could," Rhea joked, "but that'd be like asking for the moons."  They all chuckled at that.

@@@@

The next morning, Rhea told Kieri that seeking people out was doable with her nose, not just with her eyes – she assumed Kieri's brother would smell similar to her, since they were twins.  Kieri blinked.  "That...okay," she said, not sure how it worked.

"Heck, Buwaro's nose could probably help too, who knows?" Rhea grinned, taking a few whiffs of the air.  She started.  "Is that who I think it is?" she muttered, looking under the wagon, and dragging out a familiar face.  "Jake?  What're you doin' here?" she asked.

"Wasn't he the guy from the clothing shop?" Buwaro asked.

"Good to see you too, Snake," Jake grinned.  "I got a delivery job.  Now, about you – I heard you were dead, like a year ago?"

Rhea laughed, obviously faking.  "Who told you that bunk?" she asked.

"Ramirez wrote to me for the first time in a year," Jake snorted.  "'Sides, you've got Angels and Demons all over the place.  What's going on?"

Rhea sighed.  "Yeah, I...I was murdered.  I've still got the scar.  I, uh, actually met Buwaro here first," she admitted.

Jake nodded, then started when he got what she meant by her previous statement.  "Okay, wow.  Shit."

"So what was with that suit?" Buwaro asked suddenly.  "The one Rhea had the freak-out over?  A couple of bandits came at me over it, said something about money?"  Jake stared at Buwaro, then began laughing.  "What?!" Buwaro asked, feeling a bit hurt by his laughter.

"They actually – oh Gods they thought you really were a pimp!" he guffawed, collapsing from his laughter.

Buwaro got him to stop after about a minute by kicking his side.  "Stop laughing at me," he grumbled.

"Ow, sheesh.  Careful with those claws," Jake chuckled, standing up.

Kieri piped up at that moment.  "Um, Jake, was it?  Would you, perhaps, mind helping us out?  If you don't have to be home anytime soon," she amended.

"Nah, I'm good," he grinned.  "You mind, Rhea?"

"Heathcliff shouldn't," she shrugged.  "If he does, well, we can vouch for ya."

"Thanks, Snake," the blond Human grinned.  "So, your names?" he asked Rhea's friends.

"Buwaro Elexion," Buwaro smiled.  "I'm adopted, it's a long story."

"Kieri Suizahn," Kieri said with a bow.  "A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Jake chuckled.  "You don't have to be that formal, sweetheart," he said sheepishly.

"I wouldn't try it if I were you," Rhea smirked.  "Buwaro's got a claim on that territory."

"A patch of land?" Buwaro asked.  "I didn't – did I?" he asked Kieri.

"I think Rhea means me," Kieri chuckled, and Jake snapped his fingers in disappointment.  Buwaro blushed as he realized what they actually meant, laughing weakly.

@@@@

In time, the group had set up shop again, Heathcliff placing the Rainbow Reverie out on display.  Customers came and went all day, word having spread of the potions themselves.

About mid-afternoon, after a glaring Wind Demon walked past their shop in the street, an Earth Angel with an ornery expression came to the stand, glaring at Buwaro.  Buwaro stared back, frowning, not feeling very intimidated, though still nervous that this one would try something violent like Denevol originally had.

The two boys held their gazes to each other for some time, Buwaro grimacing as the Angel continued to glare at him.  He was starting to actually get angry.  Finally, Heathcliff stepped in.  "May I help you?" he asked evenly.

"What is this Demon even doing here?" the Angel asked, not taking his eyes off of Buwaro.

"Earning his keep," Heathcliff replied.

The Angel snorted.  "You are risking a lot by keeping this monster here."

Buwaro frowned as he stood up.  Much to everyone's surprise, he walked around the stall and slowly stalked into the Angel's space, pushing the would-be attacker back with merely his intrusion, his huge, black wings slowly flaring out to his sides.  The Angel became more and more intimidated as Buwaro drove him further back.  Finally, Buwaro stopped driving the Angel back about fifteen strides from the booth, standing still.

He then retracted his wings, turned around, and walked back to take his seat again, smiling pleasantly at the passersby.  A few passing folk chuckled at his attitude of dismissal.

The Angel blushed, feeling humiliated.  Angrily, he prepared to storm back over, and was stopped by a friend, a Wind Angel.  {You shouldn't push him any further,} the Wind Angel said in their own tongue, grabbing his friend's shoulder.  {I think he's actually trying to not hurt you.}

{Why would it do that?} the Earth Angel asked incredulously.  {It's a Demon, for crying out loud.}

{And he has been nothing but kind to me since he's met me,} Kieri retorted.  {Unlike you, he's a complete gentleman.}

"You need to teach me how to speak Angelic sometime," Buwaro chuckled nervously.

"I'd like to learn too," Rhea piped up.

The Earth Angel snorted.  {You just wait, fool,} he told Kieri, {that monster will turn on you eventually.}  He turned to walk away, nose high in the air.

And then a fireball smacked him in the back of his head.  {Ow!} he griped, glaring at Buwaro.

The young man's arm was outstretched, and he was standing, walking in front of the table once again, this time with an expression of controlled rage.  "I understood the word 'monster' at least," the boy snapped.  "Now apologize and go away."

The Earth Angel growled, a Light spell forming along his fingers.  Buwaro lunged around the spell's energies and rushed forward, skidding to a halt behind the Earth Angel, much to the bully's surprise.  Grabbing one of his foe's arms, Buwaro hoisted the Angel's hand up between his shoulders and placed a knee in the small of his back, pushing forward and down.  The Earth Angel crashed to the cobblestone path with a gasp of pain from the Demon atop him, and Buwaro held him still.

Kieri looked a bit proud at how quickly and easily her boyfriend had disabled the attacker.  She was apparently quite the teacher.

"I'm going to ask you once," the Fire Demon said to the struggling Angel, "to quit being a jerk.  If you can't stop on your own, then I'm going to make you stop.  I don't want to hurt you, but I will if I have to.  Understand?"

"G-get off of me, monster!" the Angel snarled, much to his friend's dismay.

Buwaro gripped his foe's arm harder, cutting into the fabric and flesh and letting a little blood flow.  The pinned Angel yelped from the unintentional injury.  "Let me try this again," he growled, hoping this worked as he tried to calm his voice and his nerves.  Finally, in a normal volume and tone, he stated, "I am the Shadow that Dances With Light, and I will not let some jerk without a brain hurt me, or my friends."

He could feel the power in those words as he spoke, and apparently, so could the Earth Angel – as did the crowd that had gathered.  People began to murmur and whisper, but there was nothing for it now.  The pinned Angel shivered heavily, as if the local temperature had dropped below freezing, and continued to shake as Buwaro got off, letting him scramble to his feet.  "Now get," the Duke of Hell snapped, and the Angel hastened to comply.

The Wind Angel that had tried to stop his foolish friend audibly gulped.  "Th-then...you are a..." he started to say, then clammed up.

"So long as you mean no harm, I mean you no harm," Buwaro said, mimicking the bow he had seen Kieri do many times before.  "Fair?"

"...fair," the Angel replied in surprise, bowing in return, before hustling after his friend.

Buwaro walked back, smiling at Kieri.  "Thanks for teaching me that wrestling stuff, Snowy," he grinned.

"No trouble," she replied, hugging him.  "You did that fantastically."

"Probably should have let him go without the fireball," Heathcliff shrugged, "but he kinda deserved that, from the sound of things.  Hopefully it doesn't come around to hurt you."

@@@@

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the rumor quickly spread that there was a Duke of Hell in town, and where he was.  Luckily, the rumor didn't drive business too far down, as apparently it also got around that he was being peaceful.  A few people even came by just to see if the rumors were true, and Buwaro's gracious and humble attitude seemed to have impressed some.

Of course, Toby, the Mixling Hukai that was hanging around Sammy, was a bit more wary of the Fire Demon now, and many of the other Medians seemed nervous to be around him too long.  Buwaro tried not to feel too self-conscious over it.

Soon, it was late in the afternoon.  Buwaro and Rhea were taking a snack break, with the Jakkai helping Buwaro with learning math, and Kieri was manning the store front with Jake.  She was boredly watching the crowd and occasionally brightening up to serve customers, when she saw a familiar face in the crowd.

{Brother?} she murmured, shocked to see her twin sticking out of the crowd like a sore thumb.  She turned her head to Heathcliff.  "Mr. Sinclair, I believe that's my brother – may I?" she asked.

"Sure," he nodded.  "I'll go get Rhea and Buwaro.  Jake, watch her for me, will ya?"

"Yes sir," the young man nodded.

Kieri bowed to the man gratefully and hurried to catch up to Kazai.  {Brother!} she shouted, and he whirled, eyes wide.  He practically tackled her with glee, relieved beyond words to see her again and hugging her tightly.

As they finally parted their hug, Kazai asked her, {Kieri, where have you been?!}

{Looking for you!} she replied.  {I'm so glad you're safe!}

{As am I!} he grinned, but his look turned grim.  {Especially with the Demons everywhere!  Zahariah and I aren't sure what to do, and the Medians don't even seem to care that there's a horde of monsters in their midst!}

{Kazai,} she began.

{And they say there's a Duke of Hell here, too!} he murmured with a shiver.  {We can't face a foe like that – we have to get out of here, fast!  Once we get back to Heaven, we can mobilize and destroy them, including this Duke!}

{I've actually...I've met him,} Kieri managed smally.

Kazai's eyes swelled to the size of dinner plates.  {What,} he squeaked.

Kieri took a deep breath while her brother reeled from this revelation.  {I met him.  Before he even became a Duke, actually.  Just let me explain, alright?} she said at his frown.

He stared at her for a long time, frowning in thought.  {Alright,} he said dubiously, obviously concerned, until a look of confusion came across his face.  {But what do you mean, 'before he became a Duke'?}

At that moment, Buwaro and Rhea came out of the wagon, and Kazai jumped at the sight of the great black wings and the person attached to them.  {Calm down, Kazai,} Kieri implored.  {That's Buwaro.  He was adopted by an Angel, he's really gentle.}

He stared at the Fire Demon, who hadn't noticed him yet, then stared at Kieri.  {A gentle Demon,} he repeated, obviously disbelieving.  Then the rest of it clicked.  {Wait, adopted by an Angel?  Why?!}

{Buwaro was still in his egg when Darius found him,} Kieri explained.

{In his what?} her brother asked, stunned.  {They...they're actually born?  I thought Syndel just made them somehow.}

{No, he hatched,} Kieri frowned.  {He saved my life twice now,} she added quickly, {and he's the closest friend I've ever had.  He is a sweet young man who means no one any harm.  Well, unless they harm him or those close to him,} she grimaced.  {He once fought a Seraph, right when he became a Duke, because he'd thought that the Seraph had killed me.  He was about to kill the man over the thought of losing me.  But...he stayed his hand when he found out I was still alive.  He was mortified at what he'd nearly done.}

Kazai blinked.  {A Demon was about to kill an Angel, over an Angel,} he clarified.  {For the sake of an Angel.}

Kieri nodded, looking away.  {He heard about mother yesterday.  He...was mad at the Seraph that had hurt me, but he was willing to forgive the man, once he'd learned that I was alright.  But after hearing about mother, and what she'd done to me over the years...he was livid.  He was furious beyond anything I'd ever seen in him before.  Even Rhea said she had never seen him so angry.  He spent the whole afternoon and evening comforting me.}

{Who's Rhea?} her brother asked, trying to ignore the shiver at the thought of their mother fighting a Duke of Hell.  That was not a fight he wanted to see, no matter who came out on top.

{The Jakkai girl that just came out with him,} she said meekly.  {They've been helping me look for you.}

"Snowy?" Buwaro said from right behind her, causing her to jump and Kazai to hesitantly reach for his axe.  "Is this Kazai?" he asked, smiling nervously.  Her brother perked up upon hearing his name, no longer reaching for his weapon.

"Y-yes," she sighed in relief when her brother dropped his hand back down.  {Kazai, this is Buwaro.  Buwaro, Kazai.  He doesn't speak Angelic well, so...}

Kazai looked Buwaro over, then tentatively extended his hand.  Buwaro gently took it and shook.  {Good meeting,} Buwaro stated, {happy to hello you.}

Kazai blinked as he realized what the Duke meant, and replied with, {Good to meet you.}

"Huh?  Oh, right," Buwaro said, facepalming gently.  "Wrong words."

Kazai chuckled good-naturedly, though he was still nervous.  {Perhaps we can learn to communicate better with some help,} he asked his sister.

Kieri sighed in relief again.  {Perhaps,} she agreed, smiling now.  {I am glad you two are able to talk it out.}

{I'm still going to be cautious,} Kazai replied, {but perhaps I don't need to be.  We'll find out, I suppose.}

Kieri nodded, supposing it was only fair she not expect miracles.  Heaven had long taught how awful Demons were, so her brother would of course be cautious.  {We shall speak this evening, then?} she asked him.  {You and Zahariah can perhaps orient yourselves a bit better in the city if you have help.}

{Perhaps,} he smiled.  {I will find him, and we'll try and come back this evening perhaps.  If that is alright?}

{It should be,} she replied, {though, it is Mr. Sinclair's wagon we're staying in.}

{Well, find out for us, then,} he said.  {I'll be back in a few hours, alright?}

{Of course.  Take care!} Kieri told him as he left by the air.

"Will he be back?" Buwaro asked as the young man flew off.

"Later on, with our friend Zahariah," Kieri replied.  "Come on, let's finish up the day's work."

"Alright," he smiled, gently grabbing her hand.

"Heathcliff!" Duster shouted, flying into view at that moment.  "Miranda is babying, right now!  Hurry!"

"Right, pack up, kids," Heathcliff told his shopkeepers.  "I'll be back soon!"  He hustled off to the midwife, Duster leading the way.

Buwaro frowned as something occurred to him.  "So...how exactly does it work?" he asked.  "The, the whole 'baby in the belly' thing."  Kieri giggled and led him back to the wagon, in order to quietly begin explaining what she knew of the biology.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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A Duke's Dilemma, A1C2
A Duke's Dilemma, A1C5
So, Kieri finally meets back up with Kazai, and rumors have spread about the Duke of Hell in St. Curtis...now what will go wrong?

~~~~

Sorry this took so long to upload.  Lost track of time :c

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Published: 2 years, 2 months ago
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