Caraig of Gáláwá

"We are all but witnesses of the unseen world of imagination" said Caraig with a smirk. He acted smug, but Scáthach noticed the fidgety nervousness in the way he covered the stone ring. In vain... The gaze of the eye pattern was piercing through his palm, dark and unsettling. "The least a skald can do is to grab a quill and freeze this moment in words to survive the time; unyielding, unchanged, forever."

It was how everyone described him back then, before... "Unyielding, unchanged, forever...", she recalled the fade memories of Hithéan way before he went missing; the shades of images and sounds were easily slipping away. "How long has it been since you disappeared?" she tried to pull that memory up to the surface, but could only see a fade glance beneath it. Days?... Weeks?... Maybe months?... She couldn't tell.

Summary

Caraig was a close friend to Hithéan of Gáláwá. They knew each other for a very long time and ventured to the mountains when they were young. After Hithéan's disappearance Caraig lost all memories connected to Hithéan as did everyone in Sáveni. He has a faint recollection of a silly boy, though — one who went to see the lake in the middle of the night. Caraig possesses a magical stone ring with a pattern of an eye, made from a crystal sphere he found near the Gáláwá Lake, one he dreamt about some nights before. He saw something shiny, reflecting the sun but cold as if being a moonlight. And the stone ring did it — it turned his life around.


A stroll. The full dream was about a stroll up the mountain path. Although he was going up and up and near the sky, he felt as if he were descending deeper and deeper into the abyss, fighting a pitch black current. A trout fighting the black stream of night, trying to push him away from the end of his journey — the black eye in the night sky. The closer he was to the top, the more he realized what it was that urged him to get there. He saw a light. A bright light of a sphere-shaped crystal, atop a small cliff on the other side of the night-black lake. The last time he saw the dream was when he was reaching for it. But as he was about to touch the cold surface, he awoke frightened, realizing he was holding his breath, hand reaching toward the ceiling.

A recurring dream

Caraig wasn't always a skald. He was said to enjoy a song or two, but it was his friends and colleagues that created new concepts and trained in the art of Weaving . It was always someone else that gained renown. Until the end of the last day of the Gathering, when he started having a dream — faint at first but unfolding and, night by night, becoming more vivid. The dream repeated itself three more times. Four was a lucky number and Caraig took it for a sign from the Ædean realm to find the place in the material world. He recognized some of the paths from the dream, so it was not a problem. More than that, he was fairly certain that the Lake was the Gáláwá Lake, the very same he used to play near when he was a child.

The place was cold that time of year and it was different than he remembered it — less grim and intriguing, more dull and grayish. He noted the cliff from his dream. The real one was more difficult to approach but he managed to climb it with some effort. He didn't remember it to be an entrance to the cave. On the ridge closer to the lake lay a round object. It was milky white specled with dark brown crust of clay and some small stones on one side. But on the other side... The pattern was beautiful, similar to some of the agate geodes the local craftsman had shown him. The one he held had a small dark interior with a cream-white ring around it. He felt an urge to shape it. And he felt, that everything would make more sense from then onwards.

"Strange," he thought, "he could swear the center was sky-like blue. Then it stroke him — when held at a specific angle, the ring became blue, almost like an opal, but more vivid, very unlike the minerals he often saw. The interior was as black as soot and it looked... It looked like it was trying to force a thought onto him. "A shape," he thought. "This should have a ring shape." A gut feeling, a vivid picture and this feeling of knowing something for certain. "So this is what it feels like to be a true skald." Holding the object made him feel certain things, and see something new... something complex but as fragile as a mist-spun image an eye blink before the gust of wind torn it to pieces.
1920x372_Pierścień Caraiga.jpg
by Angantyr

Seeing the unseen

Once the ring was prepared, Caraig was seen wearing it from time to time and pretty smug at it. Publicly two occassions were of note, were he would wear it, the first being the preparations of a new song. The second occassion was when performing one of the songs — The Joys of Life. The truth was that whenever on, the object would make him feel burdened with the weight and intensity of many of the new feelings and sights. Later on he would interpret them as things seen from many perspectives and figure out a story to bind them into a more poetic form. What tied all of the stories together was the dark theme, as the sights carried very grim emotions.

By many, Caraig is thought of as the guardian of the Gáláwá Lake tabu, which states: "Watch out for yourself and think twice before venturing near the Lake since it is the Lair of the Great Ithrós." Many of those people are old folk remembering the flooding that formed the Gáláwá Lake Caves causing the nearby fields to rot and transform into bogs. Many thought that to be an ominous sign of the Ithrós claiming the Topaz Cavern under his ruling and most of the villagers would not contest the rule of the Lord of Winter. Those who did, have never returned. And so, after many years and lives lost to a foolish cause the songs that Caraig writes are the most welcome.

"The first days were a nightmare. It was like pushing through a thick crowd but worse. Everyone shouting their stuff out with me shifting perspective from one person to another. My mind was all over the place." Caraig sighed and swirled the dark mulled wine in the mug.
Scáthach watched him closely. The Caraig she knew from a few months back was a happy-go-lucky chap. What could possibly have happened that so swiftly changed his personality and attitude?
"Anyway," he added abruptly after a short pause. "I figured out that I can take on different perspectives — immerse myself into a single mind or just fly over everything to see the big picture. But the best part is, all that grim, dreary and soul wearying emotional background disappears with the ring off of the finger. The memories remain, though, and every time I start writing my heart's racing with joy and excitement." He stopped and raised his pointing finger while taking a deep gulp. Talkative as always, aren't we, Cari? A curious thought ran through her mind. "So, long story short, I now wear it on rare occassions such as this one and only when I have already seen the visions so many times, they don't bother me anymore." A wrinkled hand grasped Caraig's shoulder firmly. He turned around to find an old man, not less than in his mid-eighties, slim but firm. Before the skald could say anything he placed a full jug on the table they sat at. "Thank you", a deep gratitude resonating with skald's vanity. Caraig smiled. He liked his new life.
 

Famous pieces

The joys of life

One of the most famous pieces tells a story of sibling blindies, who are approached by Ithrós of Depth. The Lord of Winter shares a secret that would enable one of them to take the human form and enjoy sensations (such as seeing colours, smell fragrant flowers) but they would need to cooperate with each other. They — forever plunged in the darkness of the lake agree to try, tempted with things unattainable to them — the ability to see and walk. While one of them comes above the surface in the human form, the other is lost in the darkness, not even the memories of him remaining.

Form-wise, the ominous story is reinforced by the jolly melody of the song. The song gets a good reception in the Gáláwá village and has joined the repertoir of many skalds in the region. This is ascribed to the fact that many villagers unformally forbid their children to go near the Gáláwá Lake and the caves — a tabu that is often broken by the young ones. As such Caraig's songs serve as a way to instill fear of the Lake and make people wary of the problem. The lad possesses a distinct tallent to convey the songs as if they were real events, with real people involved in them and real lives being lost. Thus, he is feared by the children but revered by the older villagers.

Song of two joys

High up in the mountains down deep in the night
There swam two blind catfish dressed up in the light.   So joyful and playful their hearts on the rise,
So brightly the moon danced in their hollow eyes.   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
So brightly the moon danced in their hollow eyes.   To one noble Ithrós, some wisdom has shown:
„There are problems that you cannot solve on your own.”   You could gain a body with a soul, and the sight
It is within reach of your thought and your might.   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
It is within reach of your thought and your might.   „There’s a path to the darkness. Should one of you dive
The other’ll emerge as a human, alive.   To stride on the surface, see all sunlit sights,
Learn the fragrance of flowers, see colourful lights.”   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
Learn the fragrance of flowers, see colourful lights.   So joyful and playful, she swam through the night
So carefree and careless, devoid of the fright.   She found her dear brother; the secret was shared
One that was too bold, one not to be dared.   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
One that was too bold, one not to be dared.   So joyful and playful, her brother was bold,
More cheerful than laughter, more worth than the gold.   „Oh sister, my sister, I’ll give you a hand
So you may see wonders and run on the land.”   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
So you may see wonders and run on the land.   Oh, brother, my brother, my joy and my light,
I shall miss our dances deep within the night.   While walking the surface, when that wish comes true,
I’ll tend to those memories, remembering you.   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
I’ll tend to those memories, remembering you.   And thus they have chosen, one — Depth, other — land.
And sister beloved could now see and stand.   With eyes now wide open, bright memory threads
Have turned bleak and mist-like, all torn into shreds.   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
Have turned bleak and mist-like, all torn into shreds.   Oh, brother, her brother a light that once shone,
Now drowned in the darkness, forgotten and gone.   And thus hateful Ithrós some wisdom has shown:
„There are ways that you cannot hurt others alone.”   [Chorus]
La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da,
„There are ways that you cannot hurt others alone.”

The songs of Hithy

Tha song of Hithy and Hetha and Silly Hithy - a folk song tell a story of a boy named Hithy, who disobeys the rule of not going near the Gáláwá Lake and the flooded Topaz Cavern, nicknamed Ithrós Halls in the song. Depending on the version of the story he either goes with Hetha or alone, then drowns in the Lake. The primary cause of how he ends up in the water is not revealed. The tone, however, suggests that it was due to a fall while climbing or other act of clumsiness in a place where caution should be addressed. That song was created some two months after the ring had been prepared.


"You use tools when they're needed." Caraig answered with a shrug, his eyes more rested than they were the other day. "And I intend to use them just enough to get me past that magical threshold of a better new life. And I like my current new life, Scát," he added taking a deep sip from his cup.
"Caraig... Hithéan vanished only weeks ago. The very least you could do is show some care and look for him?" The disinterest he showed was infuriating. This was his childhood friend, of whom she had to listen to many boring stories?
"Who's Hithéan?" His voice was bland with only a tinge of interest. She couldn't see any emotions surfacing, save for the strange type of reluctance.
"I don't have time for games, Cari." She didn't want to snap at him. Caraig was one of the closest people to him, at least in Gáláwá. And it was here that the trail was broken.
"Whatever, Scát," he shrugged. "We all change and I don't care about games anymore." He was looking up towards the Gáláwá Mountains. Though he held his head high, she felt his surfacing emotions — the numbing fall towards something deep and endless. "Tools are useful." He added after a pause, shifting the subject. "They help you stand above the mediocrity. In fact, I need to watch myself not to make to big of a career. There is nothing worse for a landscape than a lonely mountain. Hills are necessary, and valleys and ditches too. We all have our role to play and I need to see to those plans of greatness." He played with the Ring between his fingers, smiling stupidly.
"He didn't change, not a bit." She thought. "And yet he is a completely different person."

Cover image: by Stanley Lin

Comments

Author's Notes

This work would not be where it is if it weren't for Qurilion and his Anti-Divinity League project. Somewhere around WorldEmber it sparked the idea of a generational curse related to Ithrós and the blind catfish (the blindies). The layout for a manuscript was prepared but the real life stopped the works mid-way. Then the Bard challenge happened and an opportunity appeared to write a poem... than a song... I wish the recording was of a better quality but the work is still in progress and I have decided to release the beta version for the community to test it.

The fragments presented here are part of a bigger story centered around Hithéan and Scáthach, the main characters of Ædeos, which help me solve the mystery of this world. What happens in Gáláwá after Hithéan's disappearance is vital to the plot, so there won't be any additional information. The pieces are scattered around, though, so a lot can be deduced.


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26 Jan, 2022 22:27

Nicely written and intersting article. Especially liked the small pieces of prose throughout it :) And you even made a song "La di ta dalla, la ta dilla da," that is bonus points :p

Feel free to check out my WorldEmber 2022 page if you want to see what I am up to!
26 Jan, 2022 23:20

There will be an actual song, once I get it done! :D   I'm glad you like the prose — it's something I would want to do more in my articles. What did you like the most and what do you think could use a polish or two?

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27 Jan, 2022 08:28

I think the dream and the last bit of prose were my favorite parts. As for which parts can be done better I don't have a good insight since my writing of prose is not that great in comparison to yours so xp

Feel free to check out my WorldEmber 2022 page if you want to see what I am up to!
27 Jan, 2022 12:23

Thank you for your kind words, Kef. <3   Still, I'd love to read some of yours. :>

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27 Jan, 2022 18:19

The Song of Two Joys is sorrowful and lovely. I wish I could hear it sung. To me, I see the song as a beautiful expression of the duality between life and death, body and spirit, light and dark and brother and sister. Well done!

27 Jan, 2022 20:22

It's coming. I need a few edits and it should be done soon. The song should convey how young ones often don't care about the consequences and end up hurting themselves and others. I should probably make that clearer at some point, but the 2.5k cap is holding me down at the moment. Maybe after the challenge I will split that and the songs will all be given a separate article. Including the lyrics was the best option right now.   Thank you so much for the feedback! <3

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31 Jan, 2022 18:27

Wow, and now I want to know more, so I'd better follow your world and be on the look out for all those scattered pieces.

31 Jan, 2022 19:20

Lol, thanks Jacob! One part of the story was written for Summer Camp 2021.

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1 Feb, 2022 07:28

I like the article and its interesting character. I love the addition of a song (great work there!) and the quotes give the character much more life.

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1 Feb, 2022 22:01

Thanks, Cato! I was forced to cut some stuff out, less the quotes would be somewhat too long. I've learned that from Amélie — both adding quotes and being forced to shorten the article. :D   The song needs some fixing but I'm glad the current version is ok.

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
1 Feb, 2022 08:45

Great story and article! I love the twist with Hithéan at the end! I was wondering what he had to do with all of that :p This ring seems really sus and dangerous XD I especially love your song about the two fish, it sounds so cheerful and yet it's so dark, those poor fish :( At first, I was wondering if the eye on the ring could mean it was the sister of the song that was now seeing the world, but could the song also apply to Caraif and Hithéan in a way? Caraig now "see" things with the ring, and Hithéan presumable drown in that cave because of Ithrós... (wait, now I read your final note, and he probably didn't drown in fact -_- XD)   A few things I noted while reading:   In the seeing the unseen section, it's not 100% clear just why people are thankful. I was wondering if it's because Caraig's song are dark, and so they discourage young people from going in the cavern, and you confirmed that in the next section. So I think you need to move some of the information a little bit between those section to clarify that.     So I found what confused me! In the very first section, you have Caraig, Hithéan, and Scáthach mentioned. Scáthach calls Caraig "Hithéan", however in the summary section just after you say Caraig and Hithéan were friends, and so two different people. Also, there you said "He possesses a magical stone ring" and I wasn't sure which of the two you were talking about.   A tooltip about skald would help the first time you use the term. A mix between a bard and a mage, right?

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1 Feb, 2022 22:42

Thanks for a thorough read, Amélie! <3   Actually, in this world, all skalds embody both. I don't think anyone who simply sings a song would be called anything special. There are two skald schools, that could be associated with bards/minstrels from our world, i.e., The Shapers of Sound and The Sentinels of the Inner Garden. The former specialise in understanding sound, which stretches from the mechanics up to linguistics and singing. The latter focuses on understanding feeling/emotions. So anyone trying to convey feeling through singing will end up a skald. They could be a terrible one, but still.   Hithéan's story is a dark one and was initially supposed to be just a part of a love story for World Ember 2020. Then it spiralled out of control and he gained a friend. The events presented here are a consequence of what happened. Did he drown?... Is he in the Ithrós Halls?...   The stone, the ring was made of has a connection of sorts. It allows Caraig to see whatever happened in █████ or ██████ ████.   Now I need to move some info around to make it more clear. We don't want Caraig to be mistaken for Hithéan. Scáthach recalls a memory of the latter, which should probably be written straightforward.   As for the story of the two fish, I should get down to the short story for the Anti-Divinity League. Poor fishies...

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5 Feb, 2022 06:18

OH wow, I loved the intro quote to this article right away. Fantastic dialogue, and the repetition of phrases really made it connect in an excellent way :O I'm really drawn in by the recurring dream that turned out to be a real place, too. So mysterious and inviting!   The ring itself is so fascinating, too. I found it just a little bit complex to pick up what was happening on my first read of the paragraph under "Seeing the Unseen", but that's likely due to me being tired xD After a second read it's making more sense.   Also, wow omg, that song! You did an incredible job with all of it, I'm amazed! What a great article :D


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5 Feb, 2022 11:56

Thanks, Storm! <3   Hmm... I will need to make a re-run or two when I get back to the story. Caraig will play a significant part in the mini-arc connected to Hithéan's disappearance, so it should be clear and easy to follow, even if kept mysterious.   I'm glad you like the song. :D

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7 Feb, 2022 19:24

I love the way Caraig is introduced with his dream and the scene in the tavern (?). I can imagine sitting him on the cliff, singing slowly over the still waters of Gáláwá Lake in chosen solitude. It was a pleasure to read, a bard without war and disease as background. Refreshing, I have to say. :)

You want to hear the voice of fire? I got you covered with my actual entry to the bard challenge: Amara Silverharp. You wanna see what we did for Summer Camp? This way please: Eddie's Summercamp
7 Feb, 2022 23:24

Yeah, we have a lot of bards connected to war, don't we? :D I'm tempted to relate to that, but it would spoil the story   Caraig sitting on the cliff by the Lake is an excellent image, and I can picture him with one leg swinging towards the depth, fingers strumming new melodies, dead silence all around... It does sound remarkably like him. Thank you for that.

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8 Feb, 2022 13:44

This is a really fascinating character. Its made me very curious about the rest of the events that are mentioned, and I now wish I had a book under my hand I could read to satisfy that curiosity!! Also I absolutely love that not only did you write a song, but you also performed it and recorded it. Absolutely fantastic work!!   A few notes of feedback: the first few sentences of the Seeing the Unseen section read a little weird to me- the flow is a bit off. I'm a bit confused as to who Ithrós is- I'd be down to have a tooltip, also to explain a few other technical terms that don't have article linked to them ^^!

Author of Arda Almayed - check out my SummerCamp articles here!
8 Feb, 2022 21:01

Thanks! That's why feedback is important. I see some things as obvious and written so many times I forget to add them later on. I should brew a tooltip or two. :>

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11 Feb, 2022 14:00

That was a nice read. You left some things in the shadow on purpose, but one could still picture what's important. I also like the prose-parts strewn into the article to liven things up and give everything a more narrative touch. Will we get some character art? :)

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12 Feb, 2022 00:07

Dear Gods, I forgot the picture!   Yeah, I should sort it out tomorrow. I was so saught up in the commenting war that it slipped my mind... :D

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11 Feb, 2022 17:27

The prose woven through the article is well done. I like the line "there is nothing worse for a landscape than a lonely mountain," so much. The song was also a joy to listen to. Very well done all around.

As always, it would be appreciated if you would stop by my challenge article The Storm Giant Empire and leave some feedback.   If you are looking for things to read from summer camp there is also my Summer Camp 2022 Reading Challenge.. Happy worldbuilding.
12 Feb, 2022 00:12

Thanks! <3   I had fun writing about Caraig and didn't expect him to be this fun. That said, he needs to be a "happy-go-lucky chap" before the events described here. So I hope to make him nice and complex, just as he deserves.   I'm glad you liked the song and quote! :D   Thank you for the feedback!

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Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
11 Feb, 2022 19:01

Oh man... if I could twice I would. This is awesome. I'm a quote box fan but I gotta say, I could get used to this. Changing the color and interspersing them the way you did was an excellent choice. Well done!

12 Feb, 2022 00:18

Thanks! <3   The theme is not mine, however. It's part of the Elven Forest theme, which I believe was made by TJ. Bold was the only way to highlight the parts that were thought by the character.   And yay! I'm growing to like the quote box more and more! ^^

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12 Feb, 2022 13:04

My horrible attention span would have loved some more easy-to read (wikipedia-style) information about him, but I love the song!

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13 Feb, 2022 20:05

You mean something like a sidebar, a very short summary and links to related places/people?

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Master flatloop
Brion Mythew Penndon
12 Feb, 2022 16:46

"The least a skald can do is to grab a quill and freeze this moment in words to survive the time; unyielding, unchanged, forever."
  Engaging, captivating, immersive. The only problem is I can only like it once. Well done. My favorite read sofar.

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--Sir Terry Pratchett
13 Feb, 2022 20:12

Thank you! <3 I'm glad you like it. :D

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15 Feb, 2022 16:08

I love the song, it's so great. There is such a mysterious undertone to this article and it is a little unsettling. I feel as though I have more questions than you answered, but I think you meant it that way. :D   Great article!

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
15 Feb, 2022 19:36

Thank you! <3   Indeed, I hope to get the book to the point, when everything will make sense. :D

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18 Feb, 2022 04:30

Interesting. Lots of mystery here. And that song is lovely

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18 Feb, 2022 10:30

Thank you! <3   I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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19 Feb, 2022 00:16

This article was really very interesting. Even though I have to admit that I don't quite understand the connections. Maybe I just need to get more involved with this league besides catfish, but I'm actually attached to my gods XD. Even some of the dead ones ;). Anyway, what I really liked was the main song of the article, if only because it has a sad touch. And at least it also reminded me, as a naive reader, of the story of the two friends. One disappears, the other comes into the light. Perhaps an unconscious reaction on Caraig's part? And the embedding in a story was also nice, though unfortunately not quite as self-explanatory as I would have liked. But maybe I just lacked a bit of language comprehension. Thanks a lot in any case.

19 Feb, 2022 20:14

Thank you for the comment!   If something wasn't clear, then it's definitely to be corrected. I can see now that Lore needs to be presented better. The prose fragments should be perhaps linked more directly to each other. I will need to experiment on that a bit further.   Thanks for adding feedback to make this work better!

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26 Feb, 2022 21:02

With pleasure (although my problems could of course also come from the fact that my English could be better and I don't type a lot of things into deepl when I read). I look forward to the results, your world is very interesting after all.

26 Feb, 2022 22:46

Thank you! <3

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19 Feb, 2022 18:02

Ooh... that's an intriguing story! The connection between the song and Hithéan's disappearance is uncanny - it has me hanging on the edge of my seat, that's for sure. Just enough tantalizing hints without answering anything... The song sounds great, too!


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23 Feb, 2022 21:48

Thank you! <3

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