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Music Hath Charm To Soothe A Savage Beast. [ Social / Tenma ]

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Eight

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Low rumblings reverberated through the venue, from the seats to the walls. The building added its own flavor to the sound. The wooden structure absorbed the lower pitches of music, while creating a bit of distortion to the pitch, which softened and mixed the noise, blending all of the instruments. The concert hall was very intimate, there were only enough seats for about 20 people in a half circle in front of the stage. The candles barely able to illuminate more than a soft glow at each table. However the stage and musicians was perfectly illuminated from above at different angle, and everything else in the background was obscured in shadows.

The musicians were still tuning on stage, which added to the charm. Typically all this sort of stuff would happen back stage, even if the musician had prepared before arriving, they would still have to check. As he listened to the cacophony from the musicians, a waiter came by offering him a small menu of the available spirits that was offered by the bar. The waiter's uniform resembled that of a butler, a serving napkin draped from him his forearm, with a charcoal vest with fine adornments over a silky button down with a pair of slacks to match his pants. His features were hidden in the shadows, but his ivory gloves made an impression.

Alexander was dressed in a velvet black haori, with fresh linen wraps rolled across this body. It was open except for a thin crimson braided rope, that kept the lapels together a few inches apart. His red flowing follicles were contained in a bun with a black stake through it to keep it together, with just a few locks spilling out like flower petals. Alex gazed over the menu in his hands as the worker waited for his order. His orbs connected with the umeshu, ordering the most expensive bottle of limited selection. "Ah the Plum Wine, you'll be able to enjoy your night." The selection was a weak one, and he was more than willing to share, it was the normal selection for the type of person who wasn't fond of alcohol in general, definitely on the lighter side.

At this point, he noticed another man at his table, and one more open seat, but the hall was mostly packed at this point. The musicians were finally getting their instruments in sync, and the extra lights were wiped out. As the room darkened the whole room began to quiet down but there was still some time before they would start.


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Sometimes even the black haired man needed to put aside his burden for a while and probably clear his mind as well, especially when the situation around him was stressing him out although it was not the war that stressed him. All this danger that could harm his sister was something that made him stressed, not only that the blackmail he received that sounded really strange made him couldn’t sleep because he kept thinking about it every night. A sigh escaped his lips as he adjusted the Katana that was hanging on his hip before he went to this place that some soldiers recommend to him before. It was kind of different from the drinking place that he usually went to, but he thought it wouldn’t be hurt to try a new place.

It was pretty chilly at that moment and Tenma’s cobalt yukata might be not enough to hold the breeze, but thankfully he brought along a black haori that helped him to get some warm. As he entered the venue, he would look around and noticed how different it was from his usual place. Music all over the places although it was pretty low, candles everywhere and it sounded really… he didn’t know the right word, maybe ‘intimate’ was the right word?

The one eyed man would look around to see if there was any seat available since it was really crowded inside and once he spotted an empty seat, the swordsman would carefully sit there. A waiter would quickly approach him and gave him a menu book, filled with some choices of what they were selling. “Sochu please, a big bottle of it. And… a bowl of edamame.” The waiter would nod as he took Tenma’s order before leaving to transfer the order to the bar, making the swordsman couldn’t wait to taste the signature booze from Kou itself.

When the room suddenly went dark, the one eyed man’s self-defense sense increased and he became much more alarmed of his surroundings. He was capable to hear some people walking around and he would touch his Katana, just in case he needed to ‘work’ tonight.


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Eight

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A late comer had arrived and found a seat next to him, the other gentleman who was sitting beside him had just left and walked away into the shadows. Perhaps to the restroom? There was a final adjustment on stage, to bring a grand piano front and center, and the light began to focus and intensify around old grand and the pianist. The room filled with silence to begin the show, and just as the muted atmosphere was becoming overbearing, the minstrel sprung into action to play the first song. Subtle gentle notes began to fill the air in short bursts as a prelude to the action, beginning with a melancholy tone and then somewhere in between the music bloomed into full flow.

At this point, his own chilled bottle had already arrived, and the waiter poured it as if he were well-versed in the craft of wine-making; a sommelier. He whispered into Alexander's ear as to not disturb the musical experience for everyone. "The pour allows the wine to aerate, allowing one to taste the full flavor." The sounds filled the air just like the fragrance of the Umeshu. Alexander nodded his head, and gave the servant a tip, straight into the mans vest pocket, then signaled to pour a drink for man who had come in right on time. Pouring it in the exact same fashion and placing it within range of the gentleman. The waiter quickly left. The music had come to a halt, and there was a barrage of gentle clapping to show appreciation for the pianist who had warmed up the crowd.

The waiter returned with another wine glass for Tenma as well as his own bottle. The edamame was served on a long, square plate that was black and sleek, speaking of a sort of modern elegance which the establishment strived for. Aligned with the plate were fine chopsticks and the plate was sprinkled in sesame seeds and a two little saucers filled with different flavors. As the waiter left, the orchestra began the next song.

The pianist introduced the song with a sweet tone, then seemingly playing some melancholy notes to contrast against it. Then the orchestra and the piano seemed to blend together. Alexander looked to orchestra, then turning to Tenma, and raised his glass to the stranger. "Alexander." He tilted his glasses toward Tenma, offering a clink before tasting his Umeshu.


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Well, it seemed that the swordsman was too tense. Probably the sense of danger that he had unconsciously rose up especially in the time of war like this. He thought he should loosened it a little bit since there was nothing happened after the lights went out and everything was perfectly fine and in order. Except for… the person who was beside him was no longer at his seat and that probably was the sounds of footsteps that he heard. Where the man went was a mystery, but if he should guess perhaps the restroom might be the answer.

As the grand piano started to enter the stage, the one eyed man raised his eyebrow as he wondered what kind of play that the musician would deliver. Like a dumbfounded person, Tenma wouldn’t have any expectation that the musician at this bar would be able to deliver such otherworldly music like that, he loved it and he wished he was in the mood to play his flute to this song. But it didn’t matter as his drink was ready in front of him and it made the one eyed man couldn’t wait to take a sip. The edamame that he ordered looked tempting as well, it made him a little big hungry although he had his dinner at the soldier’s barrack before but perhaps eating a bit more wouldn’t hurt, wasn’t it?

Another song played by the pianist and Tenma closed his eyes as he sipped the Sochu that he poured on the cup slowly, enjoying the taste. It was strange that the music and the sochu could match so well like this, he could drink a lot while he listened to the instrument all night long. The man beside Tenma suddenly raised his glass before introducing himself, his name implied that he was not originally from Kou and it made the swordsman wondered where he originally came from. But he too, would smile and raise his cup before bringing it close to Alexander’s glass, making it touch and clink before taking another sip of his sochu. “Tenma, pleased to meet you.” The black haired man would send a beam of smile to the new acquaintance, “You came here a lot?”


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Eight

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After connecting glasses for a moment, he pulled in his glass of plum wine and let the neck and base slip between his fingers, hanging below his hand. Grasping the bowl with his palm as his fingers stabilized the Umeshu, tilting it to his lips for a slow sip, wetting his lips with the burgundy liquid. The music the surrounded the air stopped and the chattering at the tables begun, the different voice speaking at the same time meshed into a dull hum.

"Likewise, actually, I've only recently starting frequenting this location." He had only decided to walk into the establishment by accidentally catching wind of the beautiful music from inside. Alexander wasn't even sure what kind of place it was, but it was its own type of place. Then he realized that upper class people were here and he could market his wares to nobles and merchants who could afford the place. Since Tenma seemed new the place, he wasn't going to reveal his occupation.

"I've never been to a place like this, and I never knew what music was, so I'm only now becoming interested in music. When I ever get the time for myself, I might learn how to play an instrument or two myself, maybe even become a conductor." Alex had only had these thoughts in passing, but upon saying this aloud, it began to feel a bit closer and more real. "How did you find this place?"


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“It is amusing to hear that.” Tenma would chuckle to the man before continuing, “Music is also something deep for me, and it connected me with my past and of course, some of important people in my life.” The black haired man would raise his cup again, simply offering Alexander to do another cheers, “I am glad that it became a part of your life now and I hope your wish comes true. Cheers!” He would smile to the man before sipping the Sochu from the cup, liking the taste more and more at the moment. Not only that, it kept his body warm and he felt sharp.

The one eyed man would place his cup on the table before pouring some Sochu from the bottle while he would answer Alexander’s question, “My acquaintance recommended this place to me, I never thought it would be such an amusing place though.” Some of his words was true although some was covered with a lie, but the man kept smiling as if he was used to tell lies to other people. Oh well, he had no intention of revealing that he was currently working as a general for Kou empire and it would be much safer if strangers didn’t know about it.

“Where do you come from, my good sir? Somewhere far?”


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Eight

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Alexander's sips of wine had started to beginning to catch up to him, even if it was only Umeshu. Alexander has little experience with wine and never had a reason to drink more than a glass over the course of the night. He crashed his glass in Tenma's, but fortunately the glass didn't break, despite the loss in motor skills. Some of the contents in his glass spilled onto the table, but now his thoughts were a little mixed. He finished his second glass at this point and set the wine glass down. "Aaaah, so yoou reealized, huuUH?" His speech was beginning to slur and his cheeks were tinged pink like a peach. "Whaaale, I'm for Reim, just a boy. A little boy, my mother..." Tears began to well up in his eyes as he was finally able to think about his abandonment without repressing it. "My moo~" He gripped a hold of his bottle of Umeshu and brought his forehead to the table, and offered to clink his bottle with Tenma blindly.


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“Oops.” The black haired man hardened his grip on his cup as Alexander’s glass crashed on it, felt somewhat relieved that the glass didn’t break and his Sochu didn’t spill anywhere. It was unfortunate for the Umeshu though, as it spilled on the table and made Tenma thought it was such a waste for such a good thing to spill. Judging from how the man spoke, he must be drunk now. Perhaps the man was not a very good drinker after all as he became drunk after just drinking for what…? One cup? It was very amusing for Tenma because of the fact that this new acquaintance of him was not that strong in drinking despite of his bravery to enter the bar and drink one of the most expensive booze.

“Reim, huh? That is a good place.” The swordsman would let out a chuckle as he replied to what Alexander said, but curious to know more about the meaning of his slurry talk. As tears began to well up in the man’s eyes, Tenma began to thought that this man was funnier than he expected, a crying type or… an over emotional type? Perhaps both and it made the one eyed man had an interesting night. He would clink his cup to Alexander’s bottle, was not sure if he should stop the man from drinking more or not but decided to just let the man drink more. Tenma would sip more liquor on his cup before pouring it again to serve himself before offering to pour it on the man’s glass. “Let’s drink to our hearts’ content!”


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A flourish of a fine-practiced bow against twig strings brought Zubaidah into her own personal state of ecstasy, her thoughts simulating an imaginary dance that Ho Lea might have performed had she been on that well-varnished stage. Such a thought also served to ground her into reality as she remembered what a fierce argument she had started with Huijin earlier, an unfair one which she should have apologised to him for, but one that had led her to escape to this lavish place. A sigh escaped her pouting lips as she then remembered her personal lack of money, before determining that she would get Jynx and his shady connections to pay for them instead - it seemed she relied on him far too much with her financial problems, but it did not matter as long as she got the necessary aid she required. With that reassurance, she convinced herself to enjoy the night as much as possible, ordering some expensive but lacklustre cocktail that she thought was no match for Huijin’s beautiful creations.

    Lavender silk fell down her body in ripples as she stood up in her stunning mini dress that showed off her alluring legs. She had been given this dress as a gift by Ho Lea, who had been attempting to play matchmaker with her and Huijin. Needless to say, he was astounded by the goddess who had walked towards him one promising night, but Zubaidah had thought it was easier to deal with him when not dealing with deep desires, and so never worn it after. Tonight was quite a different night, she felt a need to let go and she had already seen the place to do it- a table with one free seat where she had seen some unlucky boy play the fool to some rugged man opposite to him, no doubt the boy was feeling the effects of that alcohol he was drinking. Zubaidah’s smile increased even further as she saw that it was an amber liqueur, obviously he was attempting to show his bravery by having some umeshu, and she was both strangely impressed yet also so very amused. Finishing off her own little drink, she ordered a glass of Luzhou Laojiao, and sauntered over to the open seat. Up close, she saw that rugged man opposite was even more of her type then she thought, and her cheeks flushed plum with, well, who knows. As she laid one hand over the back of the chair, she cheekily asked,

         ‘Are either of you two in disagreement with me joining you?’


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Eight

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Alexander was overwhelmed by his repressed emotions, something he easily kept at bay while sober and had even used them as fuel for his ambitions. Anger, dissappointment, melancholy and pain filled his mind and his body language was more revealing. He threw his headback dramatically, bringing the bottle overhead to guzzle the Umeshu with a little aid from gravity.  He slammed the nearly bottle to the table, and that was when a woman had approached the pair, asking for permission. Alexander tried to speak but was tongue-tied so he let his arms speak for him. He swung his arm that still held the bottle as if presenting the seat to the woman, but the bottle swung dangerously near Tenmas face. "I axe-ept!!" The words finally came out of his mouth, as he slammed the bottle into the table for a bar-silencing thud. Alexander was incapable of restraining his Fanalis strength now that he had downed nearly his whole bottle. Ost of the patrons were turned to the table... staring awkwardly.

Eight looked around to the people, but quiclly enough the chatter began once more as if nothing happened. "Caawl me Ate. NONONO. Itz. Axel-Ander. I mean! Alex-Ander."  He looked at his bottle and swished around the diminishing contents, wondering if he should get more or not.


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It became more interesting when Alexander threw his head back dramatically before gulping down his booze, something that again, Tenma never expected to see in the bar. The swordsman could order a water now and give it to the man so he could sober up a little, but he was sure that the glass of water wouldn’t be safely delivered to Alexander’s throat with that ‘amusing’ body movement he kept doing. Well, what could he possibly do? Better gulp down some more booze while he was at it, but he noticed that he ran out as nothing left could be poured from the bottle.

Just when he wanted to call the waiter to order some more booze, a woman approached the table and asked to join the table. He wanted to give his answer but thought he should wait for Alexander to say something first because of all this arm swinging he did at the moment. Not to mention when he was finally able to give his permission, the man swung his bottle, just close enough for it to almost hit Tenma’s face. The swordsman was not surprised, yet he still thought that his acquaintance’s action was as amusing as ever, especially when he used his strength a little bit too much to slam the empty bottle into the table. Thank llah the table didn’t break though.

After that Tenma would stand up while answering to the woman’s question, “Of course not, milady. The more the merrier. Allow me…” The one eyed man would speak politely as he pulled the chair for the purple haired woman and waited for her to be seated before he went back to his seat. “I hope you don’t mind my drunken companion, milady. My name is Tenma, pleased to meet you.” He would give the woman another beam of smile before calling the waiter to get a couple bottle of stronger booze called Du Kang.


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As she eyed the drunken Eight, Zubaidah noted down his impressive strength and flowing red locks; it was evident at this point that he was of Fanalis descent, but that seemed to make Zubaidah pause as she pondered on the rarity of such a sight within this district known for its abundance of slavers. This chain of thought was broken by the enticing deep tones of the man who introduced himself as Tenma, her previous suspicions dissipating as she took up the polite acceptance of her request and seated herself on the wooden chair, draping one of her arms over the back of the chair, smiling back at him.

‘What a gentleman, I cannot say how delightful it is to meet someone who knows how to treat a lady right! You have the style and grace of nobility, though I truly doubt you are; what would such a person be doing here?’ Zubaidah’s let out a luscious laugh that disguised her absolute focus on Tenma’s reply.


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Eight

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"EEEEHHHH?!"

Alexander was fuming at the attention, he was used to being the center of attention either as a slaver dealing with merchants and even nobles, and at the very least with his handful of slaves that hung on his every word, knowing any perceived slight against him could result in punishment. The Fanalis slaver was jealous of Tenma, who could hold his liquor while remaining eloquent in his speech and manners, but to Alexanders alcohol-addled mind, he was being just as coherent as the stranger.

"HOW ABOUT ME?" Using his outdoor voice, completely inconsiderate of everyone else in the establishment. The waiter came over and began to whisper into Eight's ear, it was patronizing but he was unable to distinguish the difference, but it had settled him down a bit. As the waiter left back into the shadows, "Uuugghhffff~" letting out a lengthy exasperated sigh. Now he was beginning to speak in boisterous whisper after clearing his throat. "Aa-a-ahem. How. About. Me?" He lifted his hands deliberately and showed the woman the sleeves of his outfit, which was made of fine silk, but not extraordinary by any means, then using covering the corner of his lips to shield his mouth to tell the woman a secret. "I work with nobles all the time." Unfortunately, he was speaking clearly enough for the table to hear him easily.


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Tenma would chuckle as the woman ask a question, seemingly suspicious on the one eyed man’s motive or… well, he didn’t know why she would be suspicious but this was a pretty amusing situation. He wouldn’t be able to answer right away as the man who seemed to be a Fanalis interrupted, however the swordsman still thought Alexander was a pretty fun guy and his entire one man drunken show was kind of cute in friendly way… of course nothing else was implied in his compliment towards the other man.

The thing that Alexander said piqued up Tenma’s interest, although he was sure that the man had wanted it to be a whisper directed to the woman. “Oh?” Tenma would raise an eyebrow as he heard the words, but would chuckle before answering the woman, thinking it would be rude if he didn’t answer. “I am just an ordinary man who happens to come to this…unique bar to get a drink and possibly meeting some amusing companions to exchange stories.” Another smile was give towards the woman, but he right after that he would be the one asking a question, "Pardon me, milady. I don't believe that I caught your name."

As his ordered drink came, the one eyed man would pour the liquor into the cup and would raise it up a little bit before saying, “Cheers, everyone.” He would one shot the drink and found it better than the last drink he had, possibly going to order more and spend a long night in the bar.


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As Zubaidah listened intently with some strange concentration, she silently cursed the Fanalis as he broke through the silence and distracted away from the question. But, rather than grind her teeth in frustration, she caught a particularly strange line; this boy said he worked with nobles? As a Fanalis in such a slave-centred economy, how could he work with upper-class dealers known for their love of all things exotic - and most of all, of new specimens to take captive. There was more to this boy than she had presumed, Zubaidah thought to herself. But before she could ask further questions to this young man, she found herself being questioned herself by Tenma.

    ‘I am terribly sorry, I must have forgotten to give my name! I hope you’ll forgive that grave oversight of mine. My name is Zubaidah Mansur, a traveller from afar with many ventures ahead.’ She smiled her most candy-coated smile that she had for quite some time, and to the toast offered by Tenma, leisurely raised her glass aloft and uttered a simple ‘cheers’, but decided to merely sip at the alcohol in her glass. A wariness constantly filled her mind, preventing her from excessive consumption, which pursued her even in this comfortable social setting - perhaps it was the presence of the strong Eight nearby that elder to this, or an inherent alarm at Tenma’s mysterious nature.


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Alexander smiled at Tenma as he seemed like a genuinely kind person as he was very relaxed about the whole situation. Alexander finally felt the alcohol, fading through him as he swayed in his chair. He turned his attention to the woman in slow motion and she seemed to say her name in slow motion too... 'Zubaidah... the traveller.' His mind seemed to swirl, and then his body followed. His eyes closed and in a moment he went 'THUD' against the wooden floor.

The waiter called over the bouncer, which promptly escorted the fanalis through the shadow and tossed him out the front door. Fortunately, his rats came to him, and they managed to make a moving platform, escorting his unconscious body away. The waiter turned his attention to the table and offer a bottle of sake for the table. "On the house, for being so kind and patient." He bowed graciously and walked away to leave the pair to their own devices.


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THUD

It was too late for Tenma to catch the man who was sitting beside him from falling to the floor as his mind was more focused into his own alcohol rather than his surrounding at that moment. That was going to be hurt when Alexander woke up later, not only that, it would feel really bad when he got sober later especially for someone who had a low tolerance to alcohol. The one eyed man was pretty surprised that the other man got dragged and tossed out from the bar, wondering if his loud sound that he occasionally made was really that annoying for the waiters. Oh well, the swordsman was pretty sure Alexander would be alright on his own.

However he was thankful that the bar gave them a free sake, although their message was a little bit strange for the one eyed man. With a sigh, he would now turn his head towards the woman, interested to know if she had any good story to share. “You said you are a traveler? Do you have some interesting stories that you can share?” The black haired man chuckled and would wait for Zubaidah to answer, hoping she would share some stories of the journeys that she had.


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She was not exactly surprised by Eight’s forced departure from the establishment, it seemed to be quite a high-class place and presumably wished to continue being viewed that way in the eyes of its customers. She merely sighed and twirled her glass full of alcohol in melodramatic exasperation,

‘What an interesting young man that was, I must say, he certainly gave me some entertainment and a little puzzle to think about. Oh, some complimentary drink? I’m sorry, I’m not sure I will take anymore, I enjoy remaining sober and keeping up a good image. If you keep it cold for me while I’m here and allow me to take it back with me,’ With a small smile on her lips, she ran a slender finger along the waiter’s trouser leg, ‘It would be such a nice favour for poor me.’

As she watched the young man scramble off, his cheeks cherry with embarrassment, Zubaidah giggled girlishly to herself, revelling in his shame. Her laughter subsided upon Tenma’s question, pondering on what she should tell him of,

‘My travels have taken me across the world, from the streets Reim in the west to the eastern plains of Kou, but I would say that my time in Heliohapt must have been the most interesting of them all. What say you to a story about intrigue, religion and murder?’


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It seemed the lady who was sitting beside him was not your ordinary kind of lady after all, Tenma noticed how she made the waiter scrambled off with crimson cheeks while she enjoyed it as a giggle escaped her lips. The one eyed man honestly thought that was a pretty nice move and if she was brave enough to do that, then she must be pretty strong just in case someone got caught in her game.

"I would feel bad if I keep drinking while you stay sober, milady." Tenma chuckled playfully, hadn't even feel the booze hitting him yet. He was a strong drinker after all and it kept his body warm as well, helping him to get a good sleep for the night. Some might say it was bad chugging all the booze down, but the one eyed man always balanced it out with healthy meals and of course some routine training regiment. His body was the result of it and Tenma felt pretty good about it.

The countries that Zubaidah had been was pretty interesting, but the story that she was about to tell? That sounded far more interesting and the one eyed man was more than happy to here about it. "I think it will be extraordinary. Do tell me, milady." He recalled the day with his old companion, the native of Heliohapt himself as both of them uncovered some truth behind this slavery. Surely there was some intrigue and religion involved in that although he got no chance to uncover it deep to the root as he got something to do at another country.


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