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Offline Evie

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Visionaries--Part One--Chapter One
« on: September 09, 2011, 10:41:09 am »
Visionaries

“I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.” –Daniel  4:5


   Chapter One

   St. Camber's Schola, St. Hilary's-Within-The-Walls
   Rhemuth Castle
   January 3, 1136


   Bishop Duncan McLain, rector of the Schola of Saint Camber, stood in the doorway of a classroom watching Lady Sophie Arilan as she sat on a floor cushion, her legs folded primly under her skirts, her eyes closed as she led the entry-level pupils in a meditation exercise.  He smiled to himself as he watched them.  One little boy, the youngest in the class, fidgeted slightly, his freckled nose twitching, and he reached up to scratch it.  

   Sophie smiled also, though her eyes remained closed.  “Try not to focus on the itch, Duncan Michael.  Refocus your mind, and just let the outside world drift out of your consciousness again.  Remember, you should be letting all conscious thoughts just float away, like leaves floating down a stream.  If you can just ignore it and learn to sink deeper into your trance, the itch will go away on its own.”

   The lad's eyes shot open as he peered intently at his teacher, trying to tell if she'd been peeking at him, before his dark bronze lashes fluttered shut again and he attempted to settle back into a meditative state.  His grandfather held back a laugh and continued on, not wanting to risk his son's heir noticing his presence and causing a disruption in the lesson by calling out a greeting.  Further down the corridor he stopped again, this time to watch a class of intermediate-level students at practice.  Sister Rothana's dark eyes looked up as he approached, and she gave him a quick nod and curtsey of greeting before turning her attention back to her pupils.  

   Two students stood at opposite ends of a long polished table with raised edges, their gazes fixed on a small ball near the center of it, just a couple of inches to one side of a line that neatly bisected the board.  Briony Morgan stood facing him, and the young lad with his back turned to Duncan appeared to be Sir Sextus's squire, Jemmy Kitchener.

   As Duncan watched, the ball rolled a few more inches closer to Jemmy's end of the table.  Jemmy's eyes fluttered closed briefly.  After a moment, the ball slowed, then stopped, wobbling in place briefly before beginning to roll back towards Briony.  Duncan watched as a determined glint flared in the girl's eyes, and a moment later the ball faltered in its course and began to roll back towards Jemmy once more.  The bishop stifled a grin.  He'd seen that expression before; he privately called it Alaric's “I'll be damned if I let you win!” look.  Duncan tucked the memory away to share with his cousin later.

   As he turned away, the bishop considered the rest of the day’s schedule.  The advanced scholars had not arrived yet, for their guest lecturer, Bishop Denis Arilan, would not be able to get away from his duties in Dhassa to teach in Rhemuth’s Schola until later that afternoon.  At the moment, those students were either engaged in private study or attending to their other duties.  A few were squired to Nigel or various other knights currently residing at the Castle or in the City of Rhemuth, for while Duncan had managed to arrange for Prince Azim and several Knights of the Anvil to teach the occasional class in military applications for Deryni powers, he had not yet managed to secure a full-time master-at-arms to provide daily training in the basics of sword fighting and archery.  He was still looking over applicants for that position, and one of those interviews had been scheduled for later in the day.  Fortunately it would be an easier office to fill than most, as a fighting master need not be Deryni to qualify for the post, he simply needed to be highly skilled in the arts of war and patient enough to teach young scholars from a variety of backgrounds, some of whom had already been given an early exposure to the military arts and others who had never hefted a sword.  Part of him regretted the necessity of hiring a fighting master at all, yet with one in permanent residence and on the Schola’s faculty it would be easier to persuade reluctant fathers to allow their sons to attend Rhemuth’s Schola and train in the magical arts.  Young men—young noblemen, at any rate—were expected to know how to wield sword and shield in defense of their kingdom, after all, so some families were reluctant to allow their sons, especially the older ones, to devote themselves to years of scholarship when they could be fostered out as pages and squires to knights or great lords instead.  Nigel had been willing to take some of the earlier students into the Royal household, but as the Schola continued to grow, he could hardly continue to do so for every lord’s son.   

   Duncan gave a silent sigh, wishing he knew more about how Deryni schools were organized in Camber’s time and earlier.  There were so few records from those earlier times left anymore; many of them had either been burned or, if not deliberately destroyed, had not survived the ravages of time.  Both the Michaelines and the Gabrilites had taught Deryni students along with their human scholars, but it was more difficult to figure out a satisfactory curriculum for a schola dedicated to the magical arts that wasn’t built around a knight’s order.  He felt at times like he needed to build up this new schola practically from the foundation single-handedly.

   Well, not quite single-handedly.  Seeing two figures approach, the rector’s face lit up with a smile of welcome.   The taller of the two new arrivals grinned back, glancing down at a pile of books and scrolls in his arms.  “Where would you like me to put these?”

   “In my study,” Duncan answered Father Nivard, reaching for the key on his belt as he turned to lead them back in that direction.  John’s assistance had been vital in helping him bring the Schola as far as it had come in these first early years, providing valuable insights and advice as they worked together to brainstorm what ideas might work here in Rhemuth and which ones were less likely to yield good results.  Princess Rothana had been part of that process too, as well as Brother Everard, who had come to the Schola along with the Servants of Saint Camber who had been found several years earlier at St. Kyriell’s.

   The woman walking beside Father Nivard now had been a relative latecomer to their Schola, but once she’d arrived, she too had quickly become a valued colleague and resource.  As he unlocked the door to his study, he turned to smile at her.

   “I’m surprised you’ve not made off with John’s loot already, Sister Helena.”

   She laughed, vibrant blue eyes dancing with delight in a face framed by the snowy white wimple and veil worn by the married women and widows among the Servants of Saint Camber.  “I would have, but the King made me promise you’d get first look at the treasure trove.”  As Father John set the small stack of documents down on a table, she picked up a scroll from the collection.  “These were recently discovered in the archives at the University of Grecotha.  They’re various records and account rolls…this one is a list of accounts for St. Liam’s Abbey’s schola in the year 908, and that book with the green cover is the personal journal and study notes of a Deryni healer who studied at St. Neot’s….”  She set the scroll back down again, absently wiping dust off her fingers onto the gray Servants robe she wore.

   Duncan grinned.  Account rolls might not be the most stimulating reading, but a careful study of them might offer some valuable information nonetheless about what the faculty at St. Liam’s had considered essentials for an institution of higher learning.  And as for a journal of any Deryni scholar which had managed to escape being put to the torch…that was priceless!  A sobering thought occurred to him, wiping the grin off his face.  He hoped that the scholar, like his writing, had also managed to escape burning.

   Then again, one of Sister Helena's particularly strong gifts was her ability to sense psychic impressions left behind on objects, even when those impressions were too weak to be detected by some others, even those far better trained in the arcane arts than Duncan.  Most Deryni shared this talent to some extent, of course, but Helena's receptivity to such psychic imprints was more acute than most.  Every Deryni, Duncan had learned over the years, possessed his or her own quite individual areas of strength and weakness, despite their mutually shared gifts.  And there were a few gifts, such as Healing, that were truly rare even among the Deryni race.

   “Did you pick up any impressions of the journal's owner?” he asked, casting a curious glance at his colleague.

   “Oh, certainly!  Only bits and snatches, though.  He certainly didn't experience anything too exciting or traumatic while actually holding the book or writing in it—I didn't pick up anything of that sort—but I can show you what I read from it.”  He took the hand she held out to him, clasping it lightly, and in the space of a heartbeat the impressions flooded into his mind.  He'd been young, the Deryni scholar, perhaps just entering full manhood.  Duncan had a swift impression of an earnest personality, eager to learn, a bit overwhelmed at times by the amount of new information he was struggling to assimilate, even though he took great pleasure in his studies.  He'd been quite fond of several of his teachers, in reverent awe of some others, yet there was one he found difficult to tolerate.  As to what the young healer looked like, that was less clear, for of course the owner of the journal rarely had occasion to view himself directly, but Duncan thought he'd caught a brief memory of nimble fingers tidying up a dark four-stranded braid, not at all dissimilar to the style of braid favored by their current brethren among the Servants of Saint Camber.

   The bishop released Helena's hand, pondering those shared impressions.  It seemed odd to be reliving, if only briefly and rather foggily, a few of the memories of a young man who had lived and died over two centuries earlier.  The brief flash of insight felt like a gift to be treasured, even as he valued the document that had been imprinted with the resonance that had allowed it.

   “Thank you,” he said to her.

   “You're quite welcome.”  She gave him a wry smile.  “Just promise me you'll never send me to the ruins of St. Neot's to gather impressions for you there!”

   He shook his head, chuckling slightly at the grim jest.  The ruins of St. Neot's had been unsettling enough for him when he'd briefly visited its ruins with Alaric during their younger years, at the beginning of Kelson's reign.  He could easily understand, given Helena's particular talents, why she might consider a pilgrimage to that desecrated abbey about as enjoyable as a summer holiday in some warm and cozy borderland of Hell.

#

   “So, what did you think about the candidate you interviewed this afternoon?” Alaric Morgan leaned back in one of the bishop's comfortable chairs, sipping at his Vezairi port, gray eyes trained on his cousin.  Duncan, leaning against the wall next to the hearth, looked thoughtful.

   “William Fitz Ewan?  I liked him.  I think he'd do a good job as fighting master.”

   “But?” Morgan raised a sandy eyebrow.

   Duncan grinned.  “Earl Burchard might come after my blood if I hire one of his best knights out from under him, you know.”  He sobered.  “I think Sir William might end up being my best choice despite that, although he's got stiff competition for the position.  I'd been looking at one of the Anvillers for it, did you know?”

   Morgan nodded.  “I'd heard.  But I was also given to understand he'd only be able to make a part time commitment to the post.  Would that suffice?”

   “It would suffice, yes, but it wouldn't be my first preference.”  Duncan weighed the two options in his mind a few moments longer, then smiled at his cousin.  “So it seems I might be putting the offer to your brother-in-law after all.  Will Richenda be glad to see her baby brother in residence here in Rhemuth?”

   Alaric snorted.  “Hell, yes!  She'd be able to see him more often.  She'll be ecstatic.”

   The door opened, and a younger man peeked in, smiling broadly when he saw them both.   Duncan straightened with a grin of his own, crossing his study to welcome his son.  “Happy birthday, Dhugal!  Why aren't you with Mirjana and the children?”

   The young duke chuckled.   “Oh, I've been run off.  They're planning some sort of surprise I'm not meant to know about.”

   Duncan exchanged a glance with Alaric.  “Oh, are they?”  The lack of surprise in his voice turned his son's chuckle into a laugh.

   “Oh yes, and the Queen and Duchess Meraude appear to be in on it also, so who am I to disobey when they’ve issued me a direct order to go find somewhere else to be?”

   Alaric's gray eyes held an amused sparkle.  “Indeed.  I'd say retreat is the best option if the Haldane ladies are involved in the plot.”  He gestured to the flask in his hand.  “Port?”

   A copper-bronze eyebrow rose, and Dhugal helped himself to a goblet on his father’s personal aumbry.  “Exile is starting to look better already.”  He held the goblet out towards Alaric, who filled it from his flask, and took a careful sip.  “Vezairi port, Alaric?”

   “Yes.  So watch your intake; I don't want your wife angry with me for having to haul you up the stairs as you're waking the entire Castle, singing at the top of your lungs and quite badly.”

   Dhugal took a spare seat. “And how would that be different from my usual attempts at singing?”

   Duncan smiled down at his son.  “It wouldn't be.”

   “Not true,” a soft voice in one corner of the study spoke up for the first time that hour, startling the bantering men.  “I've heard His Grace sing, and while it's probably for the best that he's the Duke of Cassan instead of a troubadour, he can carry a tune well enough, even without a bucket.”

   The bishop chuckled.  “There you have it, Dhugal.  That was praise, I think.  Of a sort.”  He crossed the room to peer down at what the lone woman in the room was studying.  “Forgive me, Sister Helena; I'd all but forgotten you were still here.  What have you been so engrossed in?”

   “I'm not entirely sure, Father.”  Auburn brows furrowed over the fragment of parchment she held.  “There's hardly anything left of this, though I'm hoping that whatever larger work it was torn from will turn up somewhere else in the stack.  And the text seems to be in Ancient Torenthi, which I'm afraid I can't read; can you?”

   Alaric Morgan rose to join them, his curiosity piqued.  “I might be able to make it out.  Or if not, Richenda might.  May I see it?”

   Helena angled the scrap of parchment to face him.  “There's also that square made up of smaller, numbered blocks, down near the bottom.  Or at least I think that's what the diagram is meant to depict, though a part of the lower right corner has been torn off.  What does that look like to you?”

   “They're Eastern style numerals,” Duncan observed.

   “Yes, so they are, but I was referring to the pattern itself.  See how some of the squares have been shaded in, while others have been left empty except for their numbering?  And are you seeing what I'm seeing about the order of those numbers?”

   Dhugal joined his father and cousin to peer down at the manuscript fragment.  After a moment, just as the two older men's eyes met with dawning understanding, he whistled softly.  “Jesú!  Is it a ward pattern?”

   Helena shrugged.  “That's just a guess, but it appears to be.  But if so, it's not the standard Wards Major pattern I'm familiar with.”  She looked up at Alaric.  “What does the text above it say, Your Grace?”

   He shook his head.  “It's not in Torenthi, either modern or ancient, or if it is, it's in some dialect of the tongue that I'm not familiar with, though several of the words are quite similar.”  He pointed to the top of the page.  “These words, for example, I think I can make out, though I couldn't say what the phrase means....”  His gaze lifted to meet hers.  “It's something about 'the mathematical principles underlying magic,' or that's the general gist anyway.”  His excitement rising, he glanced at his cousin.  “I think Prince Azim should take a look at this.”

   Duncan nodded.  “I agree.”  He turned to his colleague.  “An intriguing find, Sister Helena.  Though tell me, have you had supper yet?”

   She smiled sheepishly, glancing down at the manuscripts on his study table.  “I...seem to have forgotten again.”

   “That's what I thought.” He chuckled.  “The manuscripts will wait, you know.”

   She ran her fingertips lightly over the cover of one bound volume, her expression wistful.  “I know.”  Helena sighed, rising from her bench and stretching to relieve her cramped muscles.  “it's just...there's so much, Father, just waiting to be discovered....”  

   Her stomach growled, and he laughed.  “Discover it tomorrow, then.  Enough study for one day.  You've a lesson to teach tomorrow too, you know, and the servers are probably clearing away all the food from the refectory right now, so if you hope to eat tonight, you'd better grab what's left while you still can.”

   She yawned, suddenly exhausted.  “Yes, and I've lessons to attend as well before I can come back here tomorrow.”  A sudden thought struck her.  “Will you be here in the late afternoon, Father Duncan, or should I return some other day?”

   “I should be here, though if I'm not, Brother Everard can let you in.”


Chapter Two: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=755.0
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 09:27:21 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2011, 02:18:48 pm »
Thank you, Evie!  I was beginning to go into withdrawel.  :D

The story has definitely captured my interest.  I've always wondered how Duncan would establish the Schola and what would be taught, espcially given the scarcity of Deryni training in Gwynedd.  And I also enjoyed Duncan Michael at his lesson and Briony with her father's glint in her eye.

Looking forward to the next chapter.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2011, 02:47:54 pm »
Sorry to keep you waiting for so long; this story is coming along more slowly than most.  It's been a busy summer.

Speaking of the scarcity of Deryni training in Gwynedd, one reason this story is set almost eight years after the events of KKB was that I figured the first people to need such training would be the trainers themselves!  Let's face it, Duncan might have been appointed rector of the Schola from the outset, but he's only partly trained himself in those earliest days of the Schola, as is Alaric, and Dhugal had even less training.  Richenda had more formal training than either, but that would have been cut short after her marriage to Bran, so unless she resumed her studies after her second marriage, she may well have been behind on at least some of the more advanced studies.  There were some characters in the novels like Denis Arilan and Prince Azim who clearly had access to better training, but the Bishop of Dhassa and the Preceptor of the Anvillers wouldn't be likely to be able to drop everything and teach full time at the Schola.  And then there are the Servants of Saint Camber who came to Rhemuth from St. Kyriell's.  They might have preserved some of the more ancient lore, but they've forgotten things along the way as well, not to mention they're about 200 years out of touch with the rest of Gwynedd.  And you'd have people like the Anvillers and the Camberian Council members who would be eager to compare what the Servants have managed to retain of Deryni practices and tradition with what managed to get passed down in the rest of the Eleven Kingdoms.

So I figure the earliest years of the Schola's formation would have been spent building up a faculty, making sure they've all been more or less brought up to speed, comparing sets of knowledge and learning from each other, establishing a core curriculum for themselves and their direct families at first, and so at this point they'd just now be at a point of readiness to take on a wider set of pupils and expand the curriculum...and just in time for some of those children born in the meantime to grow old enough to need those classes. 

In addition to this story in the works, I have a few chapters already written of a future Duncan Michael story as a young man coming of age and starting to take on the responsibilities of his Earldom.  So it was fun seeing him appear in this one as a little fidgety kid peeking through his eyelashes at Magistra Sophie....  ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2011, 03:35:44 pm »
Yay!  I was so good - didn't nag even a little bit.  But I've very confused as it's not Monday :s .  Liking Sister Helena already - I have a feeling she'll turn out to be an interesting character.

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2011, 04:30:19 pm »
I'm sure it's Monday somewhere in the multiverse, just not on this planet at that particular moment.   ;D

I hope Sister Helena will be an interesting character, given that she ends up being fairly central to this story.   :D  Her clairsentient/psychometric gifts will play a more important role in later chapters.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 08:41:28 pm »
Another great start for a great story.  Can't wait to participate in Dhugal's (not so) surprise birthday party.  That obscure ward pattern on that scroll has got my interest.  Makes me wonder if the altar with the secret archives that Camber (as Alister Cullen) found after he became Bishop of Grecotha will be rediscovered.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2011, 12:24:38 am »
Look forward to seeing more of Sister Helena, and intrigued at the possible clues to older magic with the Ward cubes.     And fancy 'Poppin' being like her father - can't imagine that at all ;)

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 10:35:05 am »
I like this; there are some very interesting possibilities.

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 10:03:30 pm »
OK, so it's not really Bishop Duncan at St. Hilary's, just Pocket Duncan posing outside a miniature church at Dragon*Con, but I couldn't resist posting this here nonetheless:



 And yes, he's wearing a little tiny purple stole, so since Lent is over, he's probably just getting ready to hear confessions....

;D
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 10:27:15 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2011, 08:16:47 am »
That is SO good!  It must have taken you simply ages to do it!  I am in awe of anyone so talented.

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Chapter One
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2011, 09:07:33 am »
I wish I could claim to have made that miniature church, because I adore miniatures and hope to have a chance to try my hand at doing a few miniature rooms someday, but that was one that one of the merchants at Dragon*Con had for sale, along with some other droolworthy pieces like a castle tower, a merchant's shop, etc.  They're meant to be used as gaming props by role-playing gamers.  I just happened to have my little LEGO Duncan in my pocket when I saw it, and couldn't resist the photo-op.   :D

I've done some looking online at miniature medieval furnishings that would be suitable to a castle room in Kelson's era, in hopes of making a room box of Duncan's study.  Unfortunately the furnishings that are of the right scale and craftsmanship to please me are also priced too far out of my budget--sometimes in the range of $50-$100 or more for a tiny carved wooden prie-dieu, table, or bench seat--so unless I suddenly find myself with a lot of extra free income or else learn some woodworking skills so I can make my own, I think my dreams of a miniature study will have to go on hold for now.  But have a peek at some of these websites to see the caliber of workmanship I'm talking about:

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/annhigh/
Authentic medieval/Tudor dollhouse furnishings

http://www.triggerpond-dollhouses.co.uk/home.html
Medieval dollhouses, roomboxes and furnishings

http://www.peartree-miniatures.co.uk/
Miniature medieval books and furniture

http://www.peartree-miniatures.co.uk/tours/hamptonkit.html 
Hampton Court Kitchen photos (inspiration, not miniatures, but can you imagine making a tiny scale model of Rhemuth Castle's kitchen?)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

 


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* Online Time

DesertRose DesertRose
123d 21h 2m
Evie Evie
123d 8h 30m
TheDeryni TheDeryni
116d 1h 15m

* Forum Staff

Bynw admin Bynw
Administrator
DesertRose admin DesertRose
Administrator
Evie admin Evie
Administrator
Shiral gmod Shiral
Zipper Sister
Unicorn636 gmod Unicorn636
Requiem
Laurna gmod Laurna
Community Supporter
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Community Supporter
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Community Supporter
gmod Jax
Community Supporter
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Community Supporter
KK gmod KK
Our Queen
gmod Alkari
Community Supporter
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Community Supporter
Jerusha gmod Jerusha
Community Supporter

* Board Stats

  • stats Total Members: 332
  • stats Total Posts: 22206
  • stats Total Topics: 2235
  • stats Total Categories: 14
  • stats Total Boards: 136
  • stats Most Online: 181

* Calendar

September 2019
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