Wagging Tongues Will - Part V
ealer Coe’s infirmary was about to become quite crowded. It was already occupied by several still recovering from their injuries during the great battle. Some of those were almost ready to leave, while others would not rise for a very long time. One of them was a far different case, and it was in the small room he now occupied that things would become cramped ere long. In that room rested a knight who once belonged to Yesulam, and upon whom the change wrought by the curses was slowly changing his flesh.
His long time friend Sir Yacoub Egland was there at his side, and the elk’s squire, an oryx named Intoran, lurked quietly a short distance from his mentor’s side. Sir Albert Bryonoth lay beneath the bedsheets his eyes closed, face twisted in discomfort, though he remained asleep. The evidence of the change, and which of the three curses had begun to claim him was clear even then, though neither Egland nor Intoran spoke of it openly. They simply stood in silence, watching over their friend’s body, waiting for the flicker of an eyelid to announce his return to the world of wakefulness.
Egland himself felt every nerve in his body twitch in anticipation. He recalled his own first days growing accustomed to his change. The knowledge that he would forevermore live in the twisted half-animal shape of an elk had torn at his heart, for it took so much away from him. Not only had his service to Yesulam been ended, but so too had his passion for music. He glanced down at the two thick fingers and thumb he now bore. He had despaired that he would never be able to sound but the foulest of notes upon his viola. After a night of strange dreams mixed with horrific melancholy and the pleasant soothing of a lover gone untimely into the grave, that foppish marten Dream Serpent had visited him out of the blue and offered to help him relearn his instrument.
Egland felt a smile crease the sides of his narrow muzzle, the thick fur about his face concealing it from view. He still had much to relearn, it would be many months before he would be as proficient as he had been before the Patriarch’s murder, but he knew he improved drastically with each passing day. Though he had many other responsibilities, such as helping to rebuild the city, his role as a knight errant, and the training of Intoran, he always made sure he had at least an hour a day to practice.
Thinking of his squire made his eyes turn towards the tall, slender oryx. Intoran did not notice his gaze at first, his dark eyes fixed upon the still form of Bryonoth. Though the Metamorian had not known Egland’s dearest friend for many years, the elk could see in those eyes a concern far deeper than he would have suspected. They had only been acquainted for just over a week, but the devotion that Intoran paid the Steppe-born knight came from years not days. It was almost the hero-worship a child might possess in some strange way. Egland did find his squire innocent in many ways, but there could be no doubt that he was a grown man.
And then their eyes met, and held each other firmly locked for a moment. Intoran could see the pain clearly writ large in the elk’s dark brown eyes, and he held out a hand similar to his own, reaching towards his master. Egland fell into the reach, letting his thin legs carry him into the oryx’s waiting arms. Intoran placed a gentle kiss upon the bridge of Egland’s nose, even as the elk wrapped his own arms about the oryx’s back for a brief moment. Egland then lifted his own muzzle, and returned the kiss, muzzle to muzzle, before they separated, their embrace lasting only the briefest of moments, but accomplishing far more than an hour’s conversation could manage.
Before he could collect his thoughts, Egland was distracted by a gentle rapping at the door to the small chamber. Intoran was quicker upon his cloven hooves than was the knight, and he was at the door in a heart's breadth. Pulling it inwards slightly, he called in a soft whispering voice, “Yes?”
“I need to speak with Sir Albert Bryonoth, is he awake?” The voice was high pitched, and it took Egland a moment to place it. It was the Duke’s advisor Prince Phil, the very same who had overseen the Patriarch’s burial at sea.
“No, he’s not awake,” Intoran replied, his voice still the low whisper.
“Then he must be woken,” Phil spoke, this time with fire in that contralto.
Intoran looked rather indignant at that. “He needs his rest.”
“And he will have it once I am through. Open the door,” Phil demanded. There was stress in that voice that Egland could detect, though he had no inkling what could have caused it. It was probably just from the strain of what had occurred here at the Keep only last week. But there was an urgency to it that told Egland that it was something more.
“Open the door, Intoran,” Egland offered, his own voice soft, even as he crossed his arms firmly before him. The oryx nodded obediently, and let the solid oak door swing inwards. The rabbity prince was accompanied by three others, the great ape Rupert who was his constant assistant and companion, a slender feline morph Egland recognized as the court scribe, Sindia, and a prepubescent boy, who was probably far older.
“I was told we could find Bryonoth here. What happened to him?” Phil asked, eyes meeting Egland’s with a determination and inner will that the elk had not often seen matched. Only the intensity of the former Patriarch had been able to stir his obedience more easily.
Egland wordlessly stepped aside, letting Phil see the knight as he lay prone in the bed, Bryonoth’s face still twisted from the pain he’d felt when the change had first struck him. The rabbit peered for a single moment before his muzzle hung open in silent comprehension. He closed that muzzle only a moment later and turned to the massive elk towering over him. “Does he know what is happening to him?”
Egland shrugged. “I’m not sure. He passed out just as I realized the change was taking him. I tried to tell him, but I do not know if he heard me or not. And he has not woken up since then.”
Phil glanced at the others with him, already crowding the small mostly unfurnished room. There was a small hearth in the far wall, and a few embers continued to glow within it. Aside from that, the two lanterns on opposite walls, one next to the door, the other over the bed, and the bed itself, the room was unadorned. And given the limited space, Egland knew there was no way they could all fit comfortably inside.
“Well, there’s nothing to be done for it. He’ll just have to find out now. Rupert, would you bring in Barker’s supplies?” He then turned to both Egland and Intoran. “I’m afraid I must ask you both to leave and wait outside with Rupert. I must ask Bryonoth some sensitive questions.”
No matter the intensity of that gaze, Egland would stand his ground. “He is my friend, my brother in all but birth. I will be here to help him when he must face what he is to become. You do not know him like I do, and never can. I will stay. You must slay me to remove me from this room.”
For moment, the dread seriousness in the rabbit’s eyes made the elk tremble. In that brief instant he was afraid the Whalish Prince would indeed order him mortally wounded simply to have him removed. And then it passed as quickly as it had come, and another more introspective countenance came over the lapine. Finally, Phil spoke, his voice still soft but firm. “You, Sir Egland, may stay. You were there for some of it, you might know something important. But you, Intoran, you must wait outside with Rupert. I will not argue this further.”
Egland grimaced, quieting his own anger at the rabbit for his presumptiveness. Nodding to his squire, he watched Intoran slip smoothly out the doorway, being careful to duck his head lest his spiralling horns catch upon the transom. And as Intoran left, Rupert returned, with a wooden tripod in tow. Setting that upon the floor next to the bedside, he reached outside and produced a medium sized canvas, along with several black pieces of charcoal. Finally, he brought in a small stool and set it before the tripod and canvas. The older boy climbed up on the stool, and rolled the charcoal around in his hands for a moment, before smiling his thanks to the ape.
Rupert nodded his head once and then stepped back out the door as well, closing it softly behind him. Sindia leaned against the far end of the bed, her tail gently resting upon the quilts. Her paws gripped a thin bit of wood and several pieces of parchment. From her side pocket she produced a small stopper of ink which she set upon the footboard. From another pocket a quill was to be found. Taking a moment to dip the end of the quill into the ink, she nodded to Phil.
The rabbit gestured then towards the sleeping form before him. “All right, Sir Egland, wake your friend.”
Egland sighed inwardly, wishing he did not have to do this. Yet for whatever reason, the master of the Duke’s Intelligence deemed it important enough to rush these matters. Reaching out with one hand, he gently rested it upon Bryonoth’s shoulder. Taking only a moment for a breath, he then shook that shoulder firmly, and did so three times before the knight began to stir.
Groaning, Bryonoth began to lift one arm from beneath the sheets, tenting the quilts a moment. Realizing that he was in bed, he lifted his hand forward then, until it emerged from beneath the quilts, the hard edges of the skin worn away slightly. Then, rubbing that hand across his eyes, he worked the sleep from them. He let out another audible groan then, as he started to shift himself up on his elbows. Blinking finally, he glanced about the room. “Where hast thee put me?” he finally managed to ask, his throat sore.
Egland grimaced visibly as he stared at his friend of so many years. “You are in the Keep infirmary under Healer Coe’s care. You passed out while we were riding.”
Bryonoth nodded, shifting up into a sitting position, the quilts dragging with him. “I canst seem to remember.” He squinted a moment, glancing at the others in the room, curious to see them, but still his mind appeared too foggy to recognise them.
“You fainted because one of the curses has taken you.” Bryonoth blinked up at the huge elk as if he had not heard him at all. Egland tried to dig one of his hooves into the stone floor. “You’re changing, Albert.”
Bryonoth blinked again, and looked down at his hands, noticing for the first time that they were not quite the brawny shape he was used to. He gulped visibly at air, even as he pulled the covers off of his form, revealing his chest and upper legs. He was still dressed in his jerkin and breeches though, but they no longer fit him quite the same anymore. Though they were barely perceptible, the small pair of breasts beginning to develop on the knight’s chest visibly distended his shirt before him. Bryonoth’s face twisted into an agonized moue, mouth opening and closing in dawning realisation. He brought one hand upon the centre of his chest, as if in disbelief, but he could clearly feel them, and feel through them.
His panic-stricken face turned up towards the elk, his arms held out imploringly to his friend, “Please, let not this terrible fate befall me. Slay me to end this!” Tears were beginning to well in Bryonoth’s blue eyes, the pure terror filling them like Egland had never before seen.
Egland felt as if he too would cry in anguish, but he kept them in check, instead holding out his arms, letting his brother knight press his face firmly into the warm tunic covering his belly. “I’m sorry, Ts’amut. I cannot do that.” Though Egland did wish that he could have chosen the curse. He would have selected an animal form for his friend, without any hesitation. He knew how poorly thought of the women of the Steppe were, especially by men of the Steppe. No curse could have hurt Bryonoth worse than the one he was struck with.
Bryonoth was sobbing now, his chest heaving, and arms shaking as they clutched at Egland’s, fingers curling around some fur, tugging at it, nearly tearing clumps free. Egland grunted at that, his teeth grinding together, as he tried to work Bryonoth’s hands free. He found it surprisingly easy to do – had his friend’s strength been sapped so quickly?
“Nay, this is but a nightmare. Thou hast ensorceled me again! They still art torturing me!” Bryonoth was now looking blankly into space, his arms held out as if to fight some imaginary foe. “Thou shalt not destroy me, I shalt overcome thee! I can see thee, thou abomination! I shalt kill thee!” Bryonoth then reached for the saber at Egland’s side, drawing it before the elk could stop him.
Everyone in the room jumped back from the bed, placing their backs to the wall while Bryonoth stood upon the mattress, eyes glowing with a devilish fire, his face contorting into that of a demon’s from its malicious glee. He swung the sword in a wide arc, as if to disembowel an enemy. “I will break my fast upon thy entrails!” he screamed into the air, jumping down from the bed and slicing the sword at the canvas resting upon the tripod. However, he stood just far enough away that the tip did not touch the fragile paper.
“Ts’amut!” Egland called, even as the others stood mute, their eyes alight with sudden fear. “Ts’amut, please come back to us!”
Bryonoth’s gaze turned upon the elk, and the sword-point did as well, the knight now step by step approaching the elk, the blade never wavering. “Thou hast done this to me. I shall end thy thrice-damned existence and rid this world of thy plague!” He then sliced the blade forward, and had Egland not slid to the side, would have severed the veins in his jugular.
Egland jumped forward then and wrapped his hands about Bryonoth’s arm, twisting it backwards. Bryonoth reached up with his other hand and grabbed Egland’s antlers, and yanked them to one side. Crying out in sudden terror, Egland leaned to the side, following Bryonoth’s grip, though he kept his own hands firmly upon the sword-arm, preventing Bryonoth from using it. Sindia came up from behind Bryonoth then, grabbed his wrist and turned it more, forcing the knight to drop the weapon. With a cry of pain, Bryonoth released the saber, and it clattered to the floor with a sharp metallic ring.
Egland slammed his fist into the side of Bryonoth’s head then, just hard enough to knock him back, but not too hard. Egland had discovered that his hoof-like hands delivered a terrible punch if he choose to use all of his strength, and he had no wish to hurt his dear friend. However, his blow did stun the knight, and so Bryonoth stumbled backwards, falling across the bed as he backed into it. Moving quickly, Egland dashed over to his side and pressed his arms down across his friend’s chest, being careful not to disturb the two small lumps just beneath his collar bone. How he wished they were not there.
‘Ts’amut!” Egland called. “It is I, Yacoub Egland, your Ts’amut!”
Bryonoth blinked once again, and appeared to recognize Egland at last. He sighed, then, his body shaking. His lip curled back as if to speak, and then closed once more, quivering in anguish. Finally, he lifted one hand up, and ran his fingers down the dark furred cheeks of his fellow knight. “Ts’amut,” he whispered, his voice barely audible. Egland could smell his misery, it was so potent.
“I’m here,” Egland coaxed, running his own fingers tenderly across Bryonoth’s smooth cheeks. They had not been smooth when he’d met him in the stable earlier that day. But they would always be smooth now, a fact that made Egland shudder.
“Why?” was all that Bryonoth could muster, before his throat clenched tight in a sob. His face pressed itself against Egland’s chest, the terror and frenzy of a moment before forgotten.
“I don’t know, Ts’amut,” Egland whispered softly, running his fingers down across Bryonoth’s hair, it was still rather stiff and rough. He wondered if that too would change.
That answer of course did not satisfy the knight, but he still said nothing else, instead just burying his face in Egland’s chest. Egland glanced across the room to where the others stood mute watching. Sindia had backed off several paces, her eyes very firmly fixed upon the knight’s shaking form. Barker was standing against the wall, his young child’s body still quivering in the sudden terror that had passed. Phil however was buried in a corner, his paws madly digging at the stonework as if he would fashion himself an escape.
Egland grimaced as he saw that, and turned to the feline. “Would you ask Rupert to come in here and help calm Phil down. I’ll see to Sir Bryonoth.” Sindia nodded and did as instructed. The great ape had obviously heard the commotion inside a moment before, and was quick to lumber over to Phil’s side, nearly knocking Barker’s tripod and canvas over in the process. Rupert then set about gently petting the rabbit’s backside, soothing him and reassuring him through his body language.
Egland lowered Bryonoth back onto the bed, pressing his fellow knight onto the mattress. Bryonoth went willingly, sitting there with his hands in his lap, staring down at the ground and through it into some other world. The elk felt his body shudder at the sight, as he’d never seen his friend like this, not even under the worst of circumstances. “Ts’amut?” Egland asked, leaning forward so that they were face to face. “Can you hear me?”
Bryonoth nodded then, his eyes snapping back into focus, but still appearing lost amidst the world about him. “I can hear thee, Ts’amut. What is all this?”
Egland turned to Rupert, who was coaxing the rabbit back towards the bedside. Phil’s intelligence shone in his eyes, but the instincts of the rabbit played havoc with that mind. Finally, the former Admiral was able to regain his wits, and hopped forward two steps until he was at Egland’s side. Turning back he waved one paw at the great ape. “Thank you, Rupert. You may leave us again. I think all is well once more.”
The ape nodded, and slipped quietly out the door. It shut softly behind him, leaving the five of them alone in the room again. Barker took his place on his stool, picking up a piece of charcoal and running it between his fingers. Sindia sat once more upon the end of the bed, picking up the quill pen and bit of wood with the parchment upon it. Opening the stopper, she dipped the tip of the quill in the black ink and prepared to write.
“Sir Bryonoth,” Phil began, “I know that this is a terrible time for you. We all have had to face this moment in one form or another. But I am afraid I must ask you certain questions that you may find even more unpleasant.”
“What questions dost thee wish to ask?” Bryonoth pressed, his voice showing a flaring of life and indignation, but only a little.
Phil let his eyes flicker momentarily to Egland, and then they returned to the knight sitting forlornly upon the bed. “It is about the man who slew the Patriarch.”
Egland stepped back, and sucked his breath in. The image of that face, seen dimly and through the rain streaked night fled back into his memory. It had been only a moment before he went down beneath his horse, legs crushed under Galadan’s weight. He had not even had a chance to see what had become of Bryonoth in all of that. When he’d risen in the Keep, in a room very similar to this, he still had not known. It was not for several days that they had finally ascertained who had been killed, and who it was that was missing from the bodies. And he never even found out who that man was.
“Him?” Bryonoth asked in contempt. There was a sultry anger rising in his voice. It had so far remained unchanged from the deep baritone that Egland knew so well, and the anger in it now preserved it for the moment. “That thing that walks as you and I? That blasphemy? What dost thee wish to know of him? I didst not spend much time in his loathsome company.”
Phil gestured with one paw towards the young boy. “Barker here will help you reconstruct his face. Simply try to describe him as best as you can and hopefully we’ll have a rough idea of what he looks like.”
Bryonoth nodded and regarded the young boy. “Hear me well then, good Barker. Dost thou wish to know the whole of the man or just some part?”
Barker glanced at Phil speculatively for a moment, and then offered Bryonoth a slight smile. “Just his face. We can worry about the rest later.”
Bryonoth nodded, and then leaned forward slightly. “He hath a narrow face, though not too narrow.” Barker drew a quick rounded “V’ on the canvas, and glanced back to Bryonoth for confirmation. “Slightly wider, methinks.” Barker nodded, and erasing the old marks with his fingers, he then proceeded to expand the line until it was half a foot apart. “Thou hast it now,” Bryonoth said.
“His eyes?” Barker asked next.
“He hath dark eyes, and they were rounded. Two fingers apart.” Bryonoth held up his fingers to his own face to demonstrate. Barker studied them a moment, nodded, and then set to drawing in two ovals in the upper portion of the “V”.
“How are these?”
“A little shorter in length, methinks.” Barker made a quick correction. “No, not that short. Thou hast made his eyes too round.” Again, the young artist erased the error with his fingers and did his best to correct the mistake. “There, that is close, though something seems amiss.”
“Perhaps once we have the nose you will think of it?” Barker offered.
Bryonoth pursed his lips slightly at that. “Thou may be right. His nose wast thin, but not narrow. No, thou hast drawn it too full,” Bryonoth snapped, his voice taking on an even harder edge. The young boy winced at that, and even Sindia flicked an ear in sudden disturbance. Egland breathed deeply, letting his fingers rest firmly in his palms. Perhaps Bryonoth was still too strained?
Barker however was able to correct the mistake to the knight’s satisfaction. In fact, Egland began to see something eerily familiar in the way those eyes rested overtop that thin nose. It was still too indistinct to bring back direct memories, but there was something unsettling in that poise and manner. When after several aborted attempts, Barker was finally able to draw in lips that met with the knight’s approval, Egland felt his heart thud firmly in his chest. This was a face he had seen before, even if only a glimpse, and it was one that he wished he had not.
Phil had glanced over towards the elk and could see that the large knight was disturbed by the face appearing upon the canvas before him. Though it was just another face to Phil, who had never seen Zagrosek, there was something sinister in its countenance, though it was only a vague impression, like an itch under his fur he could not quite locate. There were others who must see this of course to gauge their input, such as Bishop Vinsah and Lord Avery. Matthias would need to see this as well, and presumably Garigan. He filed that thought away for later as he returned his attention on the face before him.
Bryonoth was leaning further over the bed now and was glaring at the boy. “Thou hast his hair wrong. The part should be more to the left than that.” Bryonoth finally moved off the bed entirely and snatched at a piece of charcoal. Barker looked indignant but did not object as the knight began to draw lines across the canvas, adding sudden texture to the formerly sketchy face.
Egland blinked as his friend began to sketch out that face. He’d never know him to harbour any artistic ambitions or abilities, and he’d certainly never mentioned them before. There had been several knights of Yesulam who had been able to draw and Bryonoth had never shown any interest in their work. In fact, the only thing that Egland had ever known Bryonoth to be interested in was in riding and taking care of his horse, and of improving his skills as horseman.
Of course, he could not see what Bryonoth was doing upon the parchment as the knight’s back was before him. But, finally, the Flatlander nodded his approval and stepped back from the canvas. Egland nearly cried out in fright as he beheld the face of the man who had attacked him on that rain-swept night in October. Every contour and line of the face was clear, and the malevolence in the gaze was firm, almost potent enough to lift from the page and strike. The lips were curled into a sardonic grin that seemed to widen as he stared at it. Though he could not tell why he felt the way he did, Egland felt as if the man himself was watching them through that drawing.
Phil blinked several times, his fur shivering in sudden shock at the sight. Barker made the sign of the tree as he glimpsed that visage. Only Sindia, who sat obliquely to the canvas seemed unaffected by the sight of it. Bryonoth stood beside the canvas, casting his eyes imperially downward at the rabbit. “Dost this meet thy needs?”
The rabbit could only nod dumbly at that. Finally, regaining his voice, he said, turning his eyes away from the face. “Yes, thank you, Sir Bryonoth. That will do very well.”
Bryonoth nodded and offered the young boy his charcoal back. Barker took it only with great trepidation, setting it back down upon the tripod as quickly as possible, as if touching it sickened him. No one complained when the boy turned the canvas over, hiding that face from view. Taking a deep breath, the boy returned to his stool, his hands still shaking.
“Well,” Phil began, his eyes casting from Sindia, and Barker, and then to Bryonoth. “Do you know how long you were held captive by that man?”
Bryonoth shook his head at that, the triumphant glare vanished from his face once more. In its place was the firm confidence that Egland had known for so many years. He had probably distanced himself from what he was to become for the moment and was not even consciously aware of it. That would be fine for the moment, but as the change progressed would become impossible. “I canst be certain. When they took me, I was unconscious. I only remember bits and pieces.”
“But you remembered enough to draw that very realistic portrait?” Sindia asked suddenly, her voice soft, but direct.
Bryonoth let his gaze darken, but not by much. He stared in distaste at the overturned canvas. “It was not something that I couldst forget. Thou hast no idea what horrors he hath within him. He made me see a piece of it, and to this day feel its unholy touch.”
“Did you see anyone else with him while you were his captive?” Phil asked, his composure completely regained.
“Yea, I didst see another. A woman, methinks.”
Phil blinked at that and asked, “A woman?” Egland could tell that the rabbit had not expected that at all.
“A woman,” Bryonoth confirmed, his voice tapering away, his thoughts drawn to something else entirely. “I did not see her very well. Her eyes were bloodshot. ‘Tis all I can recall.”
Phil nodded at that, glancing to Sindia once. The feline was still scribbling away on her notepad, but after a moment looked up and nodded in reply to the unspoken question. The rabbit then turned once more back to the knight sitting upon the bed. “Well, I do not think we shall need anymore from you at this time.”
“Shalt thee need me again?” Bryonoth pressed, his eyes suddenly full of a strange desire.
The rabbit glanced to Sindia once and then shrugged as best his arms were capable of. “Perhaps. I do not know yet. If I do I shall inform you straightaway.”
“I thank thee. It is good that I can be of service to thy royal self.”
Phil looked rather abashed at the sudden mention of his position, but said nothing more. Instead, he waved to Sindia and Barker. The young boy, still rather unsettled from what had been done to his canvas, gathered it up in his arms, the face still hidden from view, and walked to the door. After opening it and stepping outside, Rupert appeared and picked up the frail tripod in his arms and followed after the youth. Sindia stoppered her bottle of ink and slipped her instruments once more back into her pockets before slinking silently out the door. Phil was the last to leave, giving Egland a single curious glance before hopping after his retainer, thoughts tumbling through his head.
Intoran peered back around the corner of the door after they had left, his huge antlers nearly scraping against the transom. “Is it safe to come back in yet?” he asked, his voice slightly jocular, though the light in his eyes fell when he saw that Bryonoth was awake.
“‘Tis safe enough,” Bryonoth remarked, his face then cast back over his chest, noting the bulges beneath his shirt. “Though, thy presence helps me not. I wouldst rather spend these moments alone. If thou wilt leave me, I wouldst be most grateful.”
Egland nodded finally at that, gently resting his hand upon the knight’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Ts’amut.”
Bryonoth snorted unhappily as his eyes cast blankly at the quilts. “Thou shan’t be able to call me that for much longer.”
Egland felt the sting in those words, and let his hand fall back to his sides. “Well, if you should ever need us, send for us. I, we, shall be here at a moment’s notice.”
“I thank thee. Thou hast been my friend, Yacoub. Thou dost not know how much thy sacrifices hath meant to me, especially now. Fare thee well.”
Egland nodded, and then turned to his squire. With a gentle wave of his hand, he ushered Intoran out of the room, and was quick to follow himself. Bryonoth did not lift his eyes from the quilts even to see his companions go, he simply continued to stare into the colourful pattern as if he could will the changes away by refusing to look at them.
However, after the door was closed and the knight was left alone at last, his eyes lifted from the quilts towards the silhouette of his shadow flickering against the wall. His eyes pierced that darkness as if it were a tunnel he could see through. With a firmness that had been lacking a moment before he said, “All is well.” Then, his face fell once more to the quilts and his thoughts to shame.
|Talk to me!|