Author Topic: Archdruid's Musings  (Read 187 times)

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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 20, 2020, 12:21:38 PM
Where to begin?

I sit upon a precipice and speaking with the Spirits I know in part what awaits me. If you are reading this journal it means I have perished, which also means every effort to prevent such has failed. My name was stripped from me upon awakening in this curious place. Before I even met another mortal I was visited upon by spirits. Such warnings given of the history of this world, that life while eternal was so maligned. That in all shape, form, and custom they shall revile and believe me a defiler. That I would be branded and marred. That I would be hunted. That I would be executed.

That I was Changeling. In the teachings of my Father and Mother, and their father and mother this did not phase me.  As it was nothing new.

My mother a Witch ostracized and hunted. My father a Keeper pragmatic but not kind. A very intuitive woman who despite her sorcerers practices wasn't opposed to helping travelers who passed her cottage in the valley. Not to say she was without her own violence. She had met my Father after he was wounded, and upon nursing him back to health, found companionship. After a few seasons of courtship I was born and he departed for his wider journeys. It would be shortly after my Tenth summer he would return. By my Thirteenth I was initiated into his Circle.

Compared to others I would come to meet in my life my childhood was average enough. I hunted, I fished, I hiked the lands. I learned from my mother, I learned from my father. When both perished I sentimentally kept my Mother's cabin maintained. I tended my small corner of the world, the Valley of my birth, and over time found myself something of an obsessive. I had seen the world beyond and recognized what awaited. I chose another path, a lesser path than most I would meet of my circle and others in my travels.

I chose Harmonious Balance. It was meticulous work methodically accounting for each and every expected notion but so too the unexpected and mercurial. It was many things but it was never dull - and if I could bring true, harmonious, unfettered balance to my valley? Perfection between the Spirit, The Plant, the Beast, the Element, and Man? That would be a life well spent.

So then the question became - In a realm in which life would be brutal, when I would be dehumanized, what path would I take? A more spiritual path than most, aloof and detached, placid and peaceful.

I have passed mostly unnoticed because of this.
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 20, 2020, 12:46:24 PM
My first encounter with another Changeling was by amusing happenstance. We spoke for hours before they felt comfortable revealing the truth of their practices to me, while I was more open of my practices. Laying by the Pond as I licked my toads and frogs, widening my mind and enjoying the afternoon sun it began to rain. During the rain I made comment of an old man seen enjoying himself in the breeze. Such was enough it seemed for trust to be earned, and I discovered more of the truth of this land in which I would come to call home. In meeting this first changeling though I was struck, similar to my own path, with how they survived. Profoundly naive; unimaginably wise.

Our bond would grow which would cause no shortage of contention, specifically as The Creature would be the next Changeling I was to meet. Be it man or beast or sidhe or prank it was transformed into a Hound. Many even among the Circle treated it as if it were merely a canine but it was not hard to swiftly see the truth. It's violence born of its inability to communicate, it's frustration turned to bloodshed and gnashing teeth, rending jaws, and unmitigated chaos. To those who lived in the Ponds it was a novelty, an unconventional bond they all shared as in its practices it would hunt Changeling with a learned proficiency. Many welcomed by it to the Circle.

But with its outbursts came strife. They were divided over the matter as the local Groundskeeper was furious with it for fermenting such chaos. In an already violent and chaotic world it reveled in prank and mischief, biting the hands and noses of Peers and Tickersmen alike. And when the Hunt began for the Creature it was plain to see the visceral excitement - be it the bestial nature or the entity trapped within, that welcomed it without question. To thrive, survive, hunt, race, chase, bliss incarnate. The local Groundskeeper took objection to such and sought to distance the Creature from the circle - declaring it aberrant from the standard hound and how it could be identified, publicly over whispers, for any who would hunt it. An unwise and desperate move.

Matters would come to a head at the Moot. In an embarrassing turn of events the Groundskeeper and Creature battled to what I had hoped would settle their grievance, that venting frustration in the auldest way would bring peace and harmony once more after the muscle exhausted and the taste for blood enjoyed. After the Creature beat the Groundskeeper the supervisor of the neighboring Recondite took to chastisement of all assembled, asking if they would adhere to the challenge of the Creature leading the Circle. I advocated against such as, in all things, balance is required. Such a creature could not lead, bring harmonious balance, or otherwise.

As is the way of the Naive though they are easily lead. The Creature preyed upon such bonds, and the first changeling I met and the second changeling I met would find themselves forming a union - a balance of sorts which I thought was agreeable enough, save one problem - She gave unmitigated permission, which riled further the former Groundskeeper. The Creature was cruel and petty, reveled in bullying the Groundskeeper now that it had established dominance. Through out the rest of the moot the matter grew more and more violent, more and more embarrassing, as this once proud huntress was belittled and demeaned by the Creature before the eyes and ears of all. They claimed they simply didn't care.

 And I began to realize the folly of my Aloofness, so I spoke in challenge of the First Changeling I had met. This, expectedly, brought no shortage of fury from The Creature. The First and I would proceed to debate and travel with the moot, across the forests and valleys as our challenge continued. Not one of bloodshed but of philosophy, of ideological difference, of the notion of survival and what the future held and would mean for our Circle and all who dwelled within it.

As balance is had in all things while I and the First Changeling debated philosophically the two others took to further strife. Matters inevitablyboiled past a tipping point as along the way the Creature continued to badger and harass the Groundskeeper. Snarling, gnashing, even at one point knocking her from her feet and nipping at her. She would ultimately, in a fit of fury and feeling betrayed by the Circle she worked so hard to aid despite her workings, reach her limit. She departed from the Circle and sought a life in the Mongrelwoods. And in that moment the required actions became clear to both I and the First.

"I would be willing to learn, we cannot continue like this. They already hunt us, we will be divided to the last", said the First.

"Then I would be willing to teach. Hunt for me and I shall seek the Spirits, and you shall have their insights", I responded.

The first act of Harmonious Balance introduced to the City of Rings.
 A union unplanned to bring a fairer future to those who would Walk.
A future, both for the Spirits and Mortals.
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 20, 2020, 01:09:37 PM
Unions though are found in the most unexpected of places. For while I had taken deep of the toads to commune further with the spirits I wandered far and wide across the region known as the outer rings. Where as though the first changeling I met brought me a new path, so to would I be for another. Jeremiah was his name and despite his youthful vigor and cunning he was struck with a profound loneliness. As many in this city the Turnskin is just as reviled as the Changeling. From a simple act of kindness seeded a union which would change my life.

"Ah! My First Friend!" he took to calling me as often as he could manage whenever he introduced me to others of his slowly growing company of outcasts, brigands, and otherwise. He had little understanding of the spirits, far more inclined in earning his father's favor, and it was another matter we would bond over in the coming days and weeks.

After the Moot I and my partner in the Circle differed on opinions. The First Changeling believing it would be advantageous to form a strong bond, a unified force, to organize and push efforts through out the City. I chose the counter path, seeking balance, and it would be Jeremiah's crew where I would put my philosophy into action. The idea that if a Changeling could find their place among the Unsung, among the Pilgrims, among the Delvers, the Lancers, and more? That at the very least one or two of us would be able to follow in Esther's wake. She who breached deepest rings in defiance of the Peerage's wishes. To survive away from the hardships of the Ponds and Outer Rings.

Our small crew would be swift, mobile, and elusive. Bandit's tactics passed his days and evenings I shared with him lessons, boons, and more in the form of counsel. In time he would begin to adapt his own efforts. Satisfying his innate lust for blood and violence with his cutlass claws with a shrewder and more purposeful tactics. His companions Fleetwood and Bert were outcasts similarly and in time he would grow to lead them with a well practiced hand.

His crew had promise. Fleetwood a former Peer who lost all to his, and I quote "WHORE OF A WIFE WHO EVEN GOT TO KEEP THE DOG", who had been born in Ninety Third Ring before moving to the Peerage in wedlock. He was found blackout drunk upon the shore of the Pond and swiftly enjoyed a chance at distraction and violence. What he lacked in patience he made up for in gusto. Bert a Shaman whose powers awoke in this City of Rings when he did bringing a sound foundation though often slow and ponderous. This left he and I often trailing as the other corsairs raced and reveled. He found in the Bunker, equally inebriated, numbing the pain of all he lost in the awakening to this City.

Our journeys were not spectacular in comparison to other's tales of traveling the City of Rings but we had one matter in our favor - Balance. We eroded as a stream against the stone and before our passage nothing hindered us in any way, shape, or form. Where other Crews would be forced to return to the Ninety Ninth for supplies and equipment for days and weeks we would merely pay a lovely visit for a bit of the Cutlass Claw beneath the moonlight and it would be back to the rings. My reticence for violence and communion with the Spirits tempered by Javeer's baser cunning and revelry, Fleetwood's fury matched by Bert's apathy.

It would be the second act of Harmonious Balance in these rings
For we reached deeper than I could have hoped.
As I communed and walked the Spirit World,
raising to the station of Archdruid among the Circle?
They would go on for weeks on end to terrorize the steadings,
bombing the Nephezar Refuge with the Knaves of Ninety Nine,
and revel until they could revel no more against the Oppression of the King's men.

There has forever been an unspoken bond between Backwoods Brigands and Keepers, we who travel the outcasts path, finding either companionship or company wherever we may. It was the same in my Valley, it was the same in the Worlds of old, it will be the same in the future and the same can be said of this City of Rings.

Javeer's death would send Bert and Fleet both into further spiral. Weeks now have passed I have not heard anything from them and have begun to presume they're dead or simply finding new company. While there is little way to show it beyond remembrance the Spirits know well the debt I have to them.

Johan of the Vault's unmarked grave in the Sheppardnine Hillocks shall have to serve as a testament to their deeds and works to aid the Changelings of this city.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 01:16:35 PM by Random_White_Guy »
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 20, 2020, 01:46:01 PM
Long before we breached into the deep rings though, when Javeers was but dreaming of sailing the Canal and I spent my time mostly covered in mud and traversing other planes of thought, a Challenge was laid before me. I would make another companion, a beast by which I have traveled far and wide and a dear friend, who would go on with me to feast upon the flesh of the White Stag.

As I was so often aloof and as I was so often detached from mortal affairs on my spirit quests I found kinship with a countering force. Without the aid of whom I would have never had the courage to trek the most dangerous lands or the patience to lay in stalking path to capture one of the most magnificent and magical creatures to walk the City of Rings.  It would be by this act and with this companion I was raised to become the Fourth Archdruid of the City of Rings. Where as others would tend the Beasts, the Gardens, the Mortals, my focus became singular. I would travel and commune with the Spirits high and low across all terrain and territory.

My wisdom and guided by the spirits and her ferocity, we would do the impossible even in the company of those not always trusted to preserve my best interests - and certainly not my Oaths kept. As Archdruid my duties are manifold and to some contentious, yet what in this life of ours is not? While my oaths have been kept and my travels robust and I have begun undergoing a metamorphosis. Change is an inevitable part of life in every way, shape, and form but matters take on an entirely different connotation when it comes to the Spirits.

Unlike the Sidhe who flitter and dance between the Wyldefae and the Material realm the Spirit Realm sits all encompassing.  Much talk has been made of late about the encroaching Nothing, but it has and always will be, the counter to the Realm of Spirits. If the Nothing a nightmare, the Spirit Realm a Dream.

After my ceremony to become the Fourth I would be given highest honors and lead a journey into the Spirit Realm itself. To at long last bare witness and speak with those who only shared insights through toads and whispers conversing as two oldest friends was indescribable. To walk it an honor and privilege that I will cherish until the end of my days be it sooner or later.  The challenges were many, and with victory assured, the future of this City would be changed forever. As all things are balanced though this did not come without cost. For in my aloofness and the First Changeling I met's efforts to bind the Circle the diverging of our paths has never been wider.

Blooms falling to the ground with autumn's swift approach and the belief that I have somehow betrayed or abandoned the Circle was stinging news to receive by falcon. Out of sight, out of mind, it seems some quick to forget. Yet by the same token what is Balance if not hardship? Those set in their ways dislike change and those who are ever changing resent constraint.

Yet just as I have before new bonds are forged of simplest kindness. I have trekked far and wide through out this city without the aid and support of the Circle, and while I do find myself lonesome at times or missing the laughter of the Ponds, I begin to realize that a time shall come be it by choice or by circumstance where as Esther before me I shall find myself beyond - if I survive.

Separating myself from the mortal realm in favor of Spirits.
While each and every and all cling to the Circle, I departed.
And while I shall soon return to a reception which may not be welcoming?
Matters of this City and the duties of my station supersede hurt feelings.
"The time for hiding is soon at an end", was said so many months ago by the First Arch Druid.
And as the Cycle continues as The Fourth shall have my role to play in change.
This the third act of Harmonious Balance
At long last The Spirits will be heard.
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 21, 2020, 10:46:00 PM
It is a vexing thing to watch a child stumble as it learns to run. Does it learn more if it is left to pick itself off the ground, sort itself out, and press on? Or is it kindness that must be weighed and considered as obstacles faced and endeavors pursued? What began as a rift is growing into a chasm, yet the more I step back and look at affairs the more I begin to question if this is but an inevitability or if it is something that should be fostered further.

I was lashed out at and chastised for traveling with outsiders, despite them knowing well and long I believed they should all be traveling with outsiders. Yet this day I learned they too have sought the aid of outsiders in affairs of merit and worth. Does this mean they are growing? Or does it mean they merely grow frustrated and compromise the values they once espoused?

They have met with failure and hardship, pain and agony. Do I swoop in to lick the wounds and offer reinforcement of encouragement? Would they even accept such? Or will they merely grow more callous and bitter towards me? It would be a lie to say I did not learn of their hunt aside from a casual mention, and none sought me for wisdom choosing instead outsiders, but by the same token such is what I too have been espousing.  To rely on me is fair, but to demand me a crutch.

Yet were one facet sours another sweetens. It is an odd thing speaking with those new to the city and recently awoken, wide eyed changelings. Some fearful, some brash and brazen, but all eager to find their place.  There is new growth, new potential, and new path and place. Those who find it and survive shall thrive and as their own paths open to them they shall learn and grow.

My feelings, their feelings, these things matter little. Paths will be carved or they will not.
I must continue to move forward. The cycle is never ending.
I resolve to separate myself from such emotions going forward.

I oversee, I manage, I tend, on a scope and scale larger.
Things that those who attend the affairs of the day to day miss. 
As the oldest adage says- The forest for the Trees.
For such is the charge of an Archdruid.
This is the Fourth Act of Harmonious Balance.
Overarching.
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 22, 2020, 04:32:16 PM
There has been such a shrieking and such a clamor of late in regards to the cabal of sneakthieves, assassins, and cultists known as the Knaves of Nine Nine. Having heard around the campfire so many of Javeers' exploits with them and the grand mischief they caused, having heard the rumors of deeds and the extent of their works, I confess when I found myself face to face with them I was amused. This band of men who bandied and brawled, who sniped with one another and had such clever nicknames to decipher and hide their purposes. The jokes they made of how it was hard to even keep their own identities remembered as they spoke to one another. There was such a levity, they would pick upon the smaller and they would jape about the inside jokes unknown to outsiders. They spoke not as beasts, not as monter, but as brothers.

There's no denying their danger, for none take the life of an outcast and bandit without an edge, but I imagine my encounter with this company was far different than most who wander these rings for a handful of factors.

Firstly of course I am rather a pauper. In my life and works the civilized groat is meaningless. A handful of oil flasks saves more lives than potions and trinkets are freely traded by some for rations in harsh times. Autumn is upon us and it shall only grow harsher, meaning you cannot eat a groat or warm your fire with it. Secondly though is as with Javeers there is queer overlap between the highwayman and the keeper, as Changelings in this city we are reviled and demonized and hunted to the furthest lengths of Ring Ninety Two by the Peers, the Inquisition, and more. A young child who changes his shape can be executed by a Retainer and none would bat an eye.

Is it so wrong to have found such joy then when a friend offered beverage, one of the Knaves shrieked of how they didn't want to grow a tail? These men who terrorize the civilized world beneath the pale lit moon, who run networks of information and counter information and blackmail and murder. ...scared of an offering of Tea from a Changeling?

Their tools, their design, even their identities a mystery. It is an auld tactic that has aided brigands in survival since before the Walls Built. The mind begins to play against itself, terror begins to ferment, and danger looms beyond the campfire's edge. And rightly so - for they are Scorpion, Adder in the Swamp, and more.  When one hears a twig snap in the auld forest beneath the stars the mind and body begin to play against one another in the fiercest form.

So comes the Balance. I escaped unmolested, unharmed, and unphased.

Against the unrelenting march of the civilized what stalls swifter than a road one fearful to travel?
As Glitt's lifeblood oozes through the catacombs the Silverpeak's old growth forests breath a sigh.
As the Nephezarim's pomp laid bare and the Shaman's blood preserved the spirits rest.
As Orza's forces betrayed by internal poisons and moral decay the beasts sing praise unhunted.
As Velstra's dueling blades stumble and stammer as children in the dark, huddled in their feasts, the Sidhe laugh.
As Sunpurse's scholars and searchers stymied and fearful, Changeling hunted less.

The Knaves seem to have their place.

For when one sits in a burning forest breathing a plume of smoke and wheezing?
The rush is to flee and find fresh air.
Not to see where the fire came from.
To resist nature's lure and understand fear.
To keep level thought and clear head while man or beast panic.
This the Fifth Act of Harmonious Balance.
Tranquility.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 04:36:05 PM by Random_White_Guy »
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 27, 2020, 06:11:13 AM
If wandering the City you pause to ask a passer by what is the most popular ring running company of the age, with the passing of the Lancers the baton falls squarely to "The Delvers". A mercantile company of Ticker Square that as its fortunes waxed and waned and political pressure mounted from time to time sought expansion further into the Deep Rings. Overtime it would develop by the efforts of Ordyn Ravenshylde to pursue the business of Smuggling artifacts in and out of the Deepest rings they could travel establishing a hierarchy of network and trade route along the way.

Fundamentally it is nothing I am unfamiliar with but one thing drawn as an oddity was their favored practice. The importing of Golemic Fragments from the deeper rings. The Golems of this City a curiosity to many but for all intent and purpose they straddle the line between Living entity and Construct. None deny they were animated by Magic but they present such a profound manner of searching for knowledge it gives a great many pause from casting harsher judgement. Equally so they are hunted feverishly for what is known as their "Golem Heart". Beneath their auspices of smuggling though came a great many rumors of those traveled with. Recondite, Pondsman Hunter, exiles and those fleeing the middling and outer rings for the Deepest rings in hopes of survival or expanding their journey. The Delvers in turn capitalizing on such with more and more profit, more and more growth, and a raising of their company's profile.

My first encounter with the Delvers was in the Ring of Ninety Five. Their hunter found in the Swamps and he was warned of Trolls nesting near, he offered thanks and went on his way. I did not think much on the matter until I later encountered more of their Company in the NInety Second ring. An elven hunter of monsters who favored a blade in each hand and a Physician with no qualms or scruples. It was a curious encounter not because of the substance of the search but the context. There we stood two strangers and I in a horrific place, rife with terror, and their response was a profoundly apathetic acceptance. A mercenary's panache and practiced aloofness which almost felt at home with my own tendencies.

It would be weeks before I ever truly met their Guildmaster, though a great many spoke of him and his business. Unironically it would be our last encounter, though he seemed to have more an inkling of such than I. His band had been taken to harassment by the criminal banner the Knaves of Ninety Nine and in our passing he was severely suspicious of my presence. Understandable given the small fortune he had been robbed of and that the Knaves had publicized his hunting of them as being a matter they would no longer overlook. He was captured, maligned, and slain. In his passing the mantle would fall to Sven, a young man I had worked with in the past who was amicable enough. Rather than continuing the trade of Golem parts and similar he and his band of outcasts resolved to fully throw themselves at the challenges the City of Rings would offer. No longer, for the time anyway, a trading company but one dedicated to Ring Running.

I raise these words for reflection because at the end of each day, no matter how accepting of me they claim to be, there lay in my gut a kernel.

That I am hunted in this city at any given day or time.
That any being may freely slay me and none bat an eye.
That in some circles it would  be lauded and cheered even.
That in others it would be shared at night as a a cautionary tale.
Yet the challenges that lay before me are daunting, many, and fierce.
And I am one man, blessed as I am by the deep communion with the Spirits.

And so to find myself even casually passing ways with this company before they march deeper into the Rings fills me with a sort of hesitance. A reluctance for reticence, for from death there is no simple return.

I would not call it cowardice by any means, for I long ago accepted death a very real and accepted price for the joy to walk this world.

In the midnight hours I dream not of life past but of life to come and the hurdles lain before me.
I dream  of wolves and the Pack that claims I left it behind.
The pack that I gifted my wisdom and it was shirked and ignored.
The pack that I served when I did the duty as it was asked of me.
That the First I called friend claimed I took to serious and revoked.
No gratitude, no appreciation, no acceptance.
Straight to declare my selfishness.
Straight to insult and disdain.
And these are said to be the only ones I can trust my life to in this realm?
Against the craven Knave? The Tickersman Delver? The Pious Peer?
Who would hunt me for Joy, Profit, or Prestige?

How to balance a Shepard who calls themselves King?
Who drives and tends his precious flock up and down the rings?
Who guards himself and his crop of sacred secrets with a Hound?
This is the Sixth Act of Harmonious Balance
A wolfish grin.

...I hunt alone, if I must.
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Random_White_Guy

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on: November 29, 2020, 07:10:04 PM
Faith. It is a curious notion that in darkest times drives men to such heights but in the most glorious eras may see all crumble to ash in blind orthodoxy and stymie of growth. Since the Banner Houses' victory and the seeping realization that the impotence of the King's Banner offers naught there has been such a riptide of cynicism and malice permeating the Peerage. From on high inaction breeds contempt and among the lowest peasant and the wandering walkers there is such disdain. It sends ripples through the realm of Spirits and as they feed upon this negativity, as Solstice draws near, the leaves are not the only thing to turn.

As Bear begins for Hibernation mankind begins a long, dark path. Despite knowing upon the other side may yet come Spring they continue to resign to their basest and worst inclinations. Necromancy goes unpunished, Diabolism remains under new guise and new feature, those who call themselves righteous are hollow at best and bilespewn at worst. It is not without desperate effort - Men and women such as the newly raised Lord Schwarzwald, Castellan Leopold of the Radian Spark, and others who hold firm such truths and attempt such righteousness remain bound of hand and deed by the same oppressive means by which the peasantry kept under foot and heel.

There was a time, so very long ago the Spirits say, in which the world was far more wild. The Small Gods were Spirits as any other, and in these days many altars and shrines erected as needed for what was needed. For rain, for safety from floods, for good harvest, for fertility, for good hunt, for revelry, for cruelty. All that mankind was capable of the Spirits learned to feed and foster and in return they were gifted power withing the Spirit Realm. For generation upon generation the world moved as such, until so too Mankind began to recognize. For if they fostered certain spirits they would be gifted greater boons, and they as mankind ever does, organized. So came the Small Gods risen.

Does such make them greater? In the eyes of some perhaps, but in the world itself there are so many powers and forces and entities at play.

This the seventh act of harmonious balance.
That even the smallest of the small have voice.
That any who would listen may hear
Sage

...What though, to come, of those who refuse to hear?
« Last Edit: November 29, 2020, 07:12:01 PM by Random_White_Guy »
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