Recently, the city was taken by an unnatural darkness, and fear was sparked through the city at what may come next. Some were not satisfied with letting that go unaswered
A call went out for lanterns. Old, broken, forgotten, or new. Any that could be spared. First a handful of lanterns were gathered, then dozens, and now hundreds are resting outside the Shrine of Lagoma. A grand blessing is planned, during which all of the lanterns will be lit and then hung throughout Arx.
All are welcomed to partake in the ceremony, and to carry one or more lanterns to be hung. This is a moment of solidarity against those things that threaten us all.
Feb. 28, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Compact - Shrine of Lagoma
Comments and Log
An Unremarkable Associate arrives, following Acacia.
Ravana the tawny eagle arrives, following Ansel.
People are in attendance for this event from all strata of the city, from the lowest commoners on upwards. In the natural way of things for this city, those of greater station find themselves in pockets with their loyalists throughout, but it is the penitent who find themselves closest to the eternal flame, those who came here early to display their support and devotion.
Attendees are being assisted by volunteers in being brought to stand before lanterns that are pre-prepared, with an area for those who are here with lanterns of their own on the far right of the room.
It is not just dozens of lanterns and people in attendance, but hundreds. Some laterns are setup outside, with a member of the clergy standing by the shrine's steps in order to echo the prayer that is given inside.
Mercy Sophie and Guardsman Sparte are standing near the flame, discussing final details with one another as they scan the people coming into the room. Sophie's face a mask of calm satisfaction contrasting Sparte's nervousness.
Silas arrives with his small retinue of guardsmen plus his corgi. He moves to stand close to Sparte and Sophie - though not too close to interfere with what they intend to do - and proceeds to look -vaguely- proud instead of just blissfully neutral. The lantern in front of him is regarded with a hint of curiosity, but he supresses the urge to fiddle with it and smiles to Sparte and Sophie.
Alarie arrives to the ceremony in a cheerful disposition. In her hand is a little lantern that glows softly. It is not the brightest of the lanterns, but it is glowing steadily. She glances to the various lanterns, enjoying each one's glow that she passes. As the event seems to be about to begin, she scurries to wherever she is supposed to be and stands there politely.
Alis would not have missed this; perhaps support for her cousin, or just a need to help however little she can to dispel anyone's fear and stand in solidarity with her fellow citizens. And so she slips in behind many other attendees, finding herself a lantern to stand in from of while she waits.
Fortunato has a fresh canvas bound to the board awkwardly under his arm. He otherwise comes bearing a slightly battered paper lantern, battered, but carefully painted in textured darks. Texture almost scaleish.
When Castiel enters the sanctum he must be keeping a low profile because, despite the man's obviously well stitched clothing and the rings on his fingers, he doesn't seem to be accompanying anyone else here; he pays more attention right at first to the corgi walking in along with Silas and his group than any actual people, but with his hands deeply within the gray woolen over coat's pockets he steps closer to the left wall, following in slowly toward the front of the building with a curious look on his face and a little smirk that doesn't quite fade as time passes.
Ywaine arrives with an eye towards the guards that Silas has around him - an appraising one at that. He follows to the left and slightly behind Ansel, thumbs hooked into his belt. The big man moves to settle near his family's Voice, slightly behind, and offers a polite nod to Silas and a smile to the younger Sparte. The big sellsword once wore sergeant's chevrons on his tabard, now lieutenant.
There's an odd, suspicious squint shot from Acacia towards Silas -- or maybe one of his guardsmen. Huffing out an amused breath, she carefully stalks amid the various lanterns and slides a look to Fortunato as she begins to casually track after him a short ways, "... I finally came on the right day this time. Aren't you proud of me?" Her thumb drums lightly against her belt as she begins to pick out a spot not too close to the front, nor too far to the back. Aside to Castiel, she murmurs conversationally, "... You're going to spoil that corgi if you admire it's cuteness too hard, love."
Ansel arrives a few steps ahead of Ywaine, his cloak drawn about his shoulders in defense against the chilly winter air. His left shoulder is supported in a cloth sling that's tied around his neck, and in place of his usual armor, his midsection is wrapped up in wide cloth bandages underneath a warm linen shirt. Despite his slightly haggard condition, he wouldn't have missed the chance to support the Valardin Princess, and so he's made the trip over to the shrine. A few of the ceremony's volunteers spot the Telmar Sword, and move over to help him get situated in front of a pre-prepared lantern, along with a second for Ywaine, following closely behind.
It should come as little surprise to anyone who knows anything about the Valardins that Beaumont and Isabeau are afoot when it's their sweet little sister Sophie who's hand has helped bring about this blessing. The latter leans in next to the former, quietly conversing as other devotees and attendees arrive. With all three siblings assembled in the same place, it's easy to see the resemblance between them. It's almost too much pretty to tolerate.
Silas lifts his hand to give Acacia a friendly wave when he spots her, as though he totally didn't just get done meeting with her. His attention shifts to Ywaine when he arrives and he returns the nod of acknowledgement. The corgi at his feet tilts his head curiously at Castiel, but remains well-behaved and continues to stand by his owner. The aura of adorability just comes naturally!
Fortunato flickers a smile at Acacia as she passes. "I am always immensely proud."
Castiel seems to be naturally gravitating toward the armed people in the audience as if he's simply more comfortable around those types even despite the fact *he* doesn't seem to be bearing any weapons on him - or, at least, no obvious ones. With a glance at Ywaine and Silas he gives a small nod to the latter as he asks, without addressing either of them or anyone in particular, "So what's the business here... with the lights, I mean." He gazes at the unlit lanterns momentarily to point them out then shakes his head. "That's new."
Regardless of issue for having a weapon or not, Beaumont always brings one. Anywhere. The past has taught mankind that there could be evil around every corner and when those corners are near his siblings (and family) then he will stand ready. Some people might have to move or jostle to accommodate the large Valardin Prince but he finds a place to stand steadfast with his sister Isabeau at his side. He uses the weapon as a leaning post, one arm draped upward and around it to keep it sturdy. The blond, pale blue eyed man watches with eager anticipation for Sophie's shindig to kick off. When whispered to, he leans in to listen. Anyone whom is familiar to him gets a jovial grin and the full attention for a few heartbeats, regarding them with fondness.
Alis lifts a hand to wave at Ansel, a knowing little smirk on her face when she spies him right over there. Close enough for her to taunt him with her expression. But at least not with words! Ywaine is given a polite nod, as is Silas when she spots him. And Isabeau of course. And Beaumont. "You owe me a dragonback ride home." she reminds him, even though he doesn't. At all.
Alarie casts her gaze about as people bustle around her. It would seem she may be looking for some familiar faces. Not truly finding any, she simply settles where she is with her little lantern in hand. As she waits for the ceremony to begin, she hums a quiet tune to herself.
ordially, Sophie inclines her head to Silas, offering an amiable smile to the Lord Commander of the Iron Guard before offering Dash, the adorable bunnybutt corgi, some behind the ear scratches before she turns her attention to all those assembled. Spoiled, indeed. That administered, the Hand of Mercy, disciple of the Faith, steps forward, her expression beatific as she acts as proxy for her beloved Lagoma.
"Welcome, all of you, to the hearth of blessed Lagoma on this winter night, for lending your brightness as we come together to affirm that the darkness without and the darkness within will not best us," she begins, Sophie's both lambent yet resounding, as befits one fervent and well-practiced in speaking from the pulpit. "There is much to fear, yet there is much to rejoice, too, and we are gathered here as a testament that we stand together in affirmation that the darkness will not best us."
Alis's wave and Look produces a friendly smile of greeting in return from the injured Telmar Sword, who dips his head over to the Valardin, winking once. Isabeau and Beaumont's presence is likewise noted, a small smile offered to each of the other Valardin siblings as they're noticed, or as they look over in Ansel's direction. He gives a grateful nod to the volunteers who've got him situated at a lantern, then focusing wholly on the Mercy Princess up front.
Ywaine waves to family - Sophie, Beaumont, Alis, so on. He settles in - those that recognize this things may realize the big man is on the 'wounded' side of Ansel, as if helping (whether or not the family leader wants it) to protect that side. His eyes take in the surroundings, moving from guard to guard to people. "It's a' confidence thing," he tells Castiel, "Buildin' back th' light. Gettin' folks confident 'bout the night. Had some bad news, recently, but as a city, we c'n stand together and whatnots." Despite standing with the Sword for his family, the noble does NOT talk like a noble, even though he's dressed like one. "Came cause my family Sword be here. An' a young rookie I like quite a bit, an' the Iron Guard. And, y'know, family be runnin' it. Ywaine Telmar, nice to meet ya. More comfortable 'round the weapons carryin' lot, are ya?" he asks congenially. Then he falls quiet as Sophie speaks.
"Princess Sophie's speeches are always so good, don't you think?" Having torn her gaze away from Castiel after he questioned near Silas -- and providing an extra amused wave towards the Lord Commander himself, Acacia finds herself not far from where Alarie had ended up and provides the seamstress with a familiar wink of greeting. "I love the dress," she confesses genuinely, rather than simply in complimentary obligation. Pitching forward at the waist, she inspects the older lantern she'd so deliberately chosen, "This place is going to look incredible once they're all lit."
Silas offers a wave to Alis, too, when she arrives! It seems he's quite fond of the Valardins in general. Dash is quite happy, as well, when Sophie gives him marvelous ear scratches! He struggles to contain his excitement, but he visibly calms as the ritual proceeds. It helps that Silas throws in a warning stare, too. The men standing around him simply shift awkwardly as they gaze at the lanterns presumably about to be lit.
"A confidence thing." Castiel repeats and if someone's observant enough at the time they might catch the little wince he gives when Sophie begins her speech, turning momentarily to listen to it before turning back over. "I've been away for some time but... so this is about literally lighting up lanterns?" he asks again as if he has to get this straight. "A symbolic thing then?" Those last few words seem to confirm his suspicions because he gives Ywain a quick smile. "That must be... something. Did dry... did *people* then respond that badly because they couldn't see well for a few hours? Was there unrest?" He has an easy way about him, this one, mixing amusement with casual curiosity to ask these questions. "I was on a ship's deck at the time so I missed the excitement. I hope you'll pardon my questions."
Fortunato drifts closer to the flame, if he positions himself at an angle. The scale-patterned lantern sways from his finger, the canvas-bound board threatens to slip out from under his elbow. Stays for now.
As people file in and the spaces at the lanterns fill, attendant volunteers step past each person to give them simple instructions for the coming ritual. Hold the lantern at your side, unlit and open, with the small length of wood for lighting it in the opposite hand. When the flame reaches you, repeat the actions of the person seated in front of you in lighting their lantern and offering the flame onwards. For those who brought their own lanterns, extra oil is also offered as needed.
Sparte goes through doing much the same explanation for the first row of attendees, adding that when he offers them the flame they should light their sticks from it before lighting their torch. He is holding a length of wood himself with no lantern, which he twists in his hands as he goes enough that his palms might start a fire.
Ferrando trucks in and is given one of the lanterns in short order. Glancing around quickly, he decides to take up a spot next to Fortunato again, apparently on the thought that at the very least he can make sure nobody accidentally sets any canvas or other art supplies on fire with a stray stick in the process. "Thanks for the reminder!" he says. "I'd have been very disappointed to miss this. It's going o look rather amazing, I think."
Octavia enters the shrine with a hat in one hand and a lantern in the other, looking around for a moment before finding a place to stand. The tall southern woman is silent, simply observing for now, listening to the instructions from the volunteers, and briefly tucking her hat under her arm to look the lantern over. It looks more like something that belongs on a ship than in a city.
Alis remains kind of quiet over there in front of her lantern, which is picked up and held at her side while she watches and listens to the instructions and those who are ahead of her in repeating the lighting ritual. She has her stick for lighting in the other hand while she waits, pausing now and then with her gaze to admire some of the older lanterns that are on display.
Ansel smiles gratefully to a volunteer who arrives with a small stool, upon which the Sword places his lantern. He holds the small length of wood in his good arm, nodding his understanding at the murmured instructions. The Sword's focus, as before, remains up on the Mercy Princess near the head of the assembly.
Ah, yes... Alis, Ansel, and Ywaine each receive some measured manner of acknowledgement from Isabeau, all of which is doled out with a small smile. In the relative dark, the expression still manages to be bright. Even warm. But, when Sophie presents the opening of her speech, the Valardin princess turns her cobalt blue eyes toward her sister and pays the Mercy most of her attention. The lantern that she carries looks like it may have only just been snuffed out, as the silver still has its shine, but it remains just as dark as the rest, waiting patiently for a spark...
Fortunato takes stick in opposite hand, poised for flame. His posture and static juggling of stick, lantern, board, no less precarious as he smiles over at Ferrando. "When they're lit, when the shrine is scattered with flame, then I'm ready to draw. Patterns of light and shadow, hmn." He half-shuts his eyes. "But no sketched study will be as sublime as the moment itself. It's good you're here."
If Beaumont was going to give some witty quip, it doesn't. As much as he adores Alis, he has the notion put in his head to be respectful when Sophie begins to speak. Lantern? Well, Isabeau made sure that he would have one. It's held in his free hand while his other arm ensures nothing falls over to hurt a tinier person. He watches with those pale blue eyes: everything. He takes in each person, each guard, each attendant, each volunteer. He is searching casually before turning his attention back to glance even at his sister.
Shifting his weight slightly, as if getting comfortable - although a keen eye would notice it's in concert with Ansel's motions with the stool, Ywaine grins at Castiel. "Kinda. It's a confidence thing like I said. Folks be worried, scared. This shows that we together, we're workin' together and fightin' together. Havin' all the skill with a sword don't mean a bear trap in the woods if'n folks ain't standin' together, y'know? We want folks t'get after it an' protect the city, they gotta believe in themselves and each other. So, it's a good thing." he says. Voice quiet - so not to interrupt anything. As it comes to his turn he shifts his lantern to his left hand. Why? You never compromise your draw hand! That's rookie stuff.
Ferrando observes Fortunato's situation and deadpans, "Can I hold one of those things for you? I'm kind of a professional stand-there-and-hold-this-er as it turns out."
Collecting her lantern as instructed by her side, Acacia absently toys with the piece of wood some, manipulating it about her fingers and then casting periodic looks about the area. She visually tracks after Ferrando upon his approach of Fortunato, but it's Princess Alis to whom that little wooden stick gets waved merrily at.
As the fire is ready to be dispensed, Sophie goes full-on priestess mode, her summer sky eyes growing incandescent with her faith, her golden hair gently aglow like a corona as it reflects the flickering light of the Eternal Flame, her lambent voice even more resonant and reverent.
"O blessed Lagoma, Our Lady of Change, Goddess of fire, of positive change and growth, of seasons and cycles and all things liminal, of healing and purification, we beseech You to set us aglow with Your warmth and Your light, to protect us against all things that would chill us to our core and leave us cowering or stumbling in the darkness! We beseech You to bless these lanterns that shall house Your holy favor, that will serve as beacon of hope, that will be the balm we apply together to mend our collective wounds and elevate one another to the greatest potential You reserve for us! May we honor You with this offering! May we honor you by personally embodying these blessings, by becoming beacons of hope and brightness and protection for each other in the dark days ahead!"
And thus are lit the first of the lanterns.
Silas has lit lanterns before, but he still seems cautious with the object. When it's his turn he follows the instructions, lifting it so it's held at his side, and gingerly pokes the lit stick into it. When his mission is accomplished and the lantern is aglow, he offers the stick to the guardsman closest to him so they may light their own. This was going to be a group participation event! They each light one of their own, with varying degrees of aptitude. The corgi looks up, rapt at what he sees.
Silas looks impressed at the authority Sophie's voice carries. "Man, I wish I could sound -that- powerful..." He murmurs, mostly to himself.
Alarie remains in the crowds, smiling. She holds her lantern as she watches the priestess go into her ceremony. The soft glow of the lanterns being lit illuminate the area around her. She smiles warmly.
As Ywaine says, it is a rookie mistake to make the primary hand be involved with other things. Unless you're leaning on a damned pillar. He holds the lantern in his right hand while his left arm is stretched up high to hold the blade steady. He is leaning against the flat, broad expanse of steel casually. He holds his lantern out toward Isabeau with a glance at her, "Thanks, sis." It's not a loud thing. He's keeping relatively quiet for once.
Castiel's nod to Ywaine speaks of his amusement at the mercenary's way of looking at the world but he drops his tone of voice as well to match the other man's. "And if one wanted more than confidence to ensure they stayed in relatively good health, my friend, do you have any recommendations as to where such a person could hire such protection?" he asks before clarifying. "I think I would sleep better at nights knowing there were people with sharp things prepared to stick them into others than more lanterns, no offense to these preparations here. In my experience steel is a better deterrent for certain classes of people. You wouldn't have any names you could drop into my hat now to get me started, would you?"
While the prayer is uttered, Sparte goes to a brazier positioned near Sophie. Not the Eternal Flame itself, but a specially prepared pit of embers for this. Turning the end of his stick to a warm red glow, he goes along the first line of attendees and helps them light their sticks from his own while the ritual is done. They may notice he is barefoot for this, an effort to be less disruptive perhaps in his task. He gives urgent, nervous gestures with his free hand for people to wait until the ritual is finished.
When Sophie utters the final phrase, Sparte speaks up with as much confidence as he can muster, giving a thumbs up to the first row before picking up a lantern that had been set aside to wait for him, lighting his lantern while speaking a responding phrase to Sophie's completion of the prayer. "With your blessing, we carry the light!" The poor boy is sweating, hoping this part goes smoothly.
"It's all right, all right. The tension keeps me alert. I want to be very alert," Fortunato says sidelong toward Ferrando, and quiets as Sophie speaks. His expression goes grim with concentration. Near as he is to the front, his stick is lit soon enough. He reaches across himself, tentative, to light the scaled lantern, narrowly avoiding lighting its paper casing as well.
Alis dimples a smile over at Acacia, not even caring for once that it shaves a few years off her looks. And she looks young to begin with. And she might be about to say something, when Sophie starts speaking again. The Princess Mercy's voice capturing her attention as surely as the sound of a nearby battle would, and a fond smile remains there on her features throughout the blessing the beseechment that echoes through the shrine. A deep breath is taken, her typical martial movements giving way to something a bit more soft and graceful then usually come from her as she waits for the flame to reach her, and she can set her own lantern alight with a brightly hopeful expression.
Silas is overheard praising Sparte for: Such fervor! Much wow!
And so the cycle begins. Isabeau waits patiently for the flame to be passed her way from... Ansel? Alis? Castiel? Someone else? Whomever happens to light her lantern is paid with the quiet currency of an appreciative smile and arguable deferential nod before she transfers the fire by way of the long match held in her other hand, doing the honors for Beaumont, and possibly even the unfortunate soul next to him, given that The Compensator has his otherwise preoccupied.
Ansel holds out the small length of wood he's been given as Sparte comes around to light the first row. Slowly, the end of the Telmar's board catches aflame, before he holds the flickering flame against the wick of his lantern, lighting it in short order. Without taking his gaze off of the Valardin at the head of the group, the Telmar passes the light over to Isabeau, flame dancing in his pale eyes as he continues to watch the front of the assembly, lantern forgotten for the moment.
3 Culler Lackeys arrives, following Orathy.
3 Culler Lackeys have been dismissed.
Acacia contents herself with merely watching the steadily growing illumination of the lanterns for a time, ceasing her waving and other uses for that stick of wood and finally lighting her own when the time comes. She gingerly passes the stick towards Alarie, with that turn over her shoulder allowing her the slightest little squint to pass towards the entrance of the shrine itself.
Ferrando smiles to Acacia when he make some eye contact but otherwise keeps mostly ready to take command in case of sudden fire emergency. But everything seems all right, and he takes a light from Fortunato's lantern since he's right there, lighting his own lantern and then blowing out his stick and holding the lantern out for somebody else to use with a grin.
Orathy Culler, a form in dark leathers, arm crosses near some of the unlit lanterns, staring down at them, before his gaze crosses over toward others who are taking a more personal investment in seeing them lit. Orathy's boot tip kicks an unlit lantern, as if it would possibly ignite itself from the gesture, or maybe he was testing how easy they would be to boot over and start a larger bonfire... There's a thought!
Row by row, lantern by lantern, person by person, the Shrine of Lagoma is anointed with motes of light. The soft glow slowly diffuses across those present, illuminating their faces and, ideally, brightening their spirits when awash by the warmth orange infused with Our Lady of Change's favor.
Fortunato slides the hook of his lit lantern along one of the fingers of his right hand. He discards the spent stick, and eases the canvas-bound board out from under his elbow and across both arms. With his left hand, he draws a graphite stick from his pouch and begins to sketch, rapidly, keeping the board tilted toward Ferrando. Working audience of one.
"Yer thinkin' of personal protection?" asks Ywaine to Castiel. His time comes and he carefully lights his lantern, the flickering soft light illuminating his face as he peers into the light for a moment before he regards the other man. "Fer a business, or a household? I work fer the Crimson Blades - but we do larger scale items. However, I c'n get ya in contact with the Lord General, he c'uld get ya some prices and whatnot, for what we do," he offers - voice still quiet.
Silas basks in the warmth of the fire, though with his steel armor it quickly becomes too much to bear and he is forced to hold it further away from him. Still, the dancing orange flames keep his attention, even when Orathy kicks a nearby lantern. Pretty! He turns to observe the lit lanterns of the guardsmen surrounding him... and they begin to sweat ever so slightly. They really should have left the armor at home.
The warmth of the glow of so many lanterns, coupled with the presence of the eternal flame, leaves this room strangely beautiful. Shadows flicker, dispelled as quickly as they are cast in a myriad of degrees of light and warm from flickering light in all directions. It is a beautiful and rare moment, the like of which comes once in a life time. Some attendees particularly taken by such beauty are left momentarily in awe, simply looking around at one another and basking in the moment.
But all moments must end, however beautiful.
Slowly at first, people begin to leave with lanterns in hand. Taking them to be hung before their doors, in their streets, from their awnings. Footsteps begin carrying people and the light they hold out in every possible direction from the temple. Members of the Iron Guard await those exiting the temple, peeling off in pairs of two to walk with those who request it, while allowing others to carry the light where they may in peace. Light in all directions is itself a sort of beauty, which too will soon pass.
Sparte, with a few other of the remaining volunteers, bring out small wagons with racks of hooks on them, and begin collecting the excess lanterns to be lit and carried elsewhere. To where is not yet certain.
With more and more lanterns alight, it become easier for the devout and the faithful to see one another. Of course, Isabeau could likely have predicted in the pitch where the whole of Ansel's attention could be found. the Valardin princess favors the Sword of Telmar with a subtle shift of her posture and mentions to him loud enough to be overheard in the temple, "She's in fine form, isn't she?"
Isabeau is overheard praising Sophie for: Such a magnificent Mercy!
Castiel flashes a quick smile at Ywaine. "Something like that. And... I don't yet know. You are probably looking at me right now and thinking - who would *ever* want to slit this nice person's throat? That would be very *rude*, no?" he asks him but before the mercenary has much of a chance to respond he sighs dramatically. "The answer, quite surprisingly, is unknown. There are madmen all around us, friend, and I am both a person *and* a business owner. It would be a terrible shame if all those people lost their beloved benefactor just because the wrong kind of blade got stuck in my throat." he assures him. "I'd like to have a chat with your boss then. I was thinking of a Champion but it can't hurt to have more boots around if there's an emergency, am I right?"
Deva mutters something about 'bloody meetings' under her breath when she arrives just in time for people and lanterns to disperse. She lingers a moment, enjoying the warmth of the glow, a smile on her lips as she slips back out.
Silas is overheard praising Sophie for: Wonderful event!
Alis glances over the top of her lantern at Isabeau, when there hears the woman speaking to Ansel. And she just smiles at her cousin-in-crime, obviously, before inclining her head gratefully toward Sophie. "So well done, Sophie. You're a treasure." is all she says, praising her for all to hear before she will slip out with her lit lantern, and bring it somewhere it's needed.
Alis is overheard praising Sophie.
The light slowly builds, producing a warm, gentle glow around the area. Ansel's lantern slowly builds in light until the flame inside flickers and dances at full strength, illuminating the injured Sword and the surrounding area. His gaze, however, remains where it has been for the past few minutes. It's only Isabeau's words that cause Ansel to snap out of his thoughts and return, grounded back in reality. "Ahm....What?" he starts, looking over in the Valardin's direction. "Oh...Oh? Yes....A very nice gathering," he agrees, nodding quickly, as much as he's able.
"O blessed Lagoma, You who soothes, who nurtures, who heals, who guides us and empowers us to adapt to what we must endure, who empowers us to thrive in the throes of adversity, who entrusts us to maintain open hearts and open minds, know that we send Your light forward as we become a beacon of that which You hold dear! May these lanterns hang in all corners of Arx, from the walls of the Great Houses to the most shadowy recesses of the Lower Boroughs, warming us against that which would chill us to the core and set us awash hope and care for our fellows in light of the darkness without and within!"
So says the Mercy, who now steps back.
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