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Prepping for a new Glorantha/Prax campaign -- wherein nobody but myself has ever played more in Glorantha than 1-off adventures at general-RPG 'Con's -- I had a sudden thought.  I wrote in my "brief overview of Prax" for them:

Morokanth -
The only non-Humans to have become Eaters under Waha's Compact.  They herd placid, herbivorous, non-sentient Men as their Herd-Beasts!  Men are ill-formed to be riding beasts, so the Morokanth are charioteers.
 
I also thought that the Gern might well become physically-stronger -- like Agimori, basically -- so they'd be more-apt for Beast-like labors, faster runners to draw chariots, etc...  Any thoughts, broken-ness I haven't considered., etc?

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Personally i think they'd have an awful time getting around the Wastes in chariots, plus not helped by the fact they like hanging out in mud.

There is a Priest who uses a palaquin in Borderlands and I have one in Hoofcrack. So he would use the bigger herdmen for sure. But big like Agimori? Not in my Glorantha. But in yours for sure :)

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Diet aside, I'm with @Iskallor on the chariot idea. Morokanth are big. 

"Morokanth on all fours are about 6 foot long, stand about 3 feet high at the shoulder, and weigh about 550 lbs".

Herd-men - "Height can range from 5 to just over 6 feet, with cows being slightly smaller. Bulls weigh on average 175lbs and cows around 130lbs."

I'm no expert on Bronze age chariots (perhaps @M Helsdon can help here), but I've seen the pictures with the two horses and the driver and spear user standing on the small chariot at the back. Looking through the info and formula, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say 3 humans = 1 horse for this case, and a morokanth is about three humans in weight. In my mind that means a single morokanth charioteer needs 9 herd-men to pull it. That seems a bit too complicated, given materials and harnessing etc. Also the wheels would damage an already fragile growing environment.

Another "against" point would be that morokanth tend to move about on all fours. They are going to be more stable on a chariot on all fours than two. Reins in one hand, spear in the other. I can't see it.

6 hours ago, Iskallor said:

There is a Priest who uses a palaquin in Borderlands

I have similar problems with palanquin. It would be okay with a small morokanth and maybe 6 carriers. But over long distances I think the morokanth would be too heavy.

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Certainly short distances for a litter. I see them being used around the oasis to impress visitors.

 

When the visitors annoy you, you order the herd men to tip you on top of them. Quarter ton of morokanth gotta hurt :)

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I posted this comment when the topic of Herd Men came up on the Glorantha G+ page, and I think it is worthwhile to repost here:

 
I encourage anyone who can to have a look at the scholarly article "An Analysis of some Human Bones from Cam's Well" in Tales of Reaching Moon #15. Although this piece presupposes Morokanth eat meat, it is a chilling explanation of what exactly a herd of "herdmen" actually entails. 

This is the concluding paragraph:

"The picture provided by this data is noteworthy because it challenges the more romanticized image of herdmen as adults, often male, whose tousled hair cannot conceal their innate human dignity. In their place one should now see herds of 'children', frequently close-cropped, driven across the chaparral of Prax and the Wastes and fortunate to see their tenth year, for such is the terrible price of the survival covenant."

BTW, I think Greg has got it completely wrong here: the Survival Covenant dictates that Morocanth can, do and in fact must eat meat. Even if they don't particularly like meat (I'm sure it disagrees horribly with their essentially herbivorous digestions), I think are obliged to as part of showing which side of Waha's Covenant they are on. We know the other Tribes think they cheated, so whenever there are inter-tribal gatherings, chiefs of the other Animal Nomad nations love serving up their morocanth guests great big carnivorous platters of meat and animal bits. The morocanth are obliged to gamely wolf it all down with feigned enthusiasm and gusto to prove they are "People" like the rest of the tribes, not "Herd Animals".

Edited by MOB
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I think the current idea is that the Morokanth cheated by finding them a loophole allowing them to graze instead of being forced to eat meat.

To Praxians, meat is a burden. Not only does it mean slaying a valuable herd beast instead of protecting it. It needs to be cooked, or else the mother of plagues will send her children to claim it, and cookfires can attract attention. By comparison, Morokanth can keep larger herds, making them wealthier, and can live without fire, making them safer.

To the other tribes, the Morokanth lost the covenant, and still found a way to win.

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3 hours ago, David Scott said:

I'm no expert on Bronze age chariots (perhaps @M Helsdon can help here), but I've seen the pictures with the two horses and the driver and spear user standing on the small chariot at the back. Looking through the info and formula, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say 3 humans = 1 horse for this case, and a morokanth is about three humans in weight. In my mind that means a single morokanth charioteer needs 9 herd-men to pull it. That seems a bit too complicated, given materials and harnessing etc. Also the wheels would damage an already fragile growing environment.

Real world Bronze Age chariots varied enormously in construction and weight. I suspect for a Morokanth 'chariot' a four-wheeled cart or an early Sumerian battlewagon drawn by onagers would be a better model. Even so, a human powered cart is going to be fairly slow, and I suspect you'd need a fairly large team of humans to pull it any distance.

In Glorantha, other than for ceremonial and ritual use, and chariot racing (which still seems to be canon in the Lunar Empire - not so sure about Nochet) chariots only seems to be used in warfare by the East Wilds Orlanthi (fairly light, drawn by small sturdy ponies) and the Pelorian Deretinic chariots, which are basically horse-drawn mobile battlefield artillery pieces. For the Morokanth, riding in a man-powered cart would be a status thing. 

Edited by M Helsdon
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2 hours ago, Tindalos said:

I think the current idea is that the Morokanth cheated by finding them a loophole allowing them to graze instead of being forced to eat meat.

To Praxians, meat is a burden. Not only does it mean slaying a valuable herd beast instead of protecting it. It needs to be cooked, or else the mother of plagues will send her children to claim it, and cookfires can attract attention. By comparison, Morokanth can keep larger herds, making them wealthier, and can live without fire, making them safer.

To the other tribes, the Morokanth lost the covenant, and still found a way to win.

The Covenant of Waha centers around the men and animals of Prax choosing lots to see "who would eat and who would be eaten". Of the animals, only the Morocanth managed to win the right to be one of the ones who eat. That's when the cheating went on, and that's why I believe the otherwise herbivorous Morocanth are actually obliged to eat their herd animals (herd men). But because they somehow "cheated" in the contest, Morocanth really aren't physiologically suited to eating meat and certainly don't enjoy it. Other than the bison steaks they are served up by grinning human Praxians at intertribal gatherings, in normal circumstances they probably only consume the barest minimum of flesh (perhaps during Waha rituals commemorating the Covenant).

So they are herbivores after all (as Greg says), just ritually obliged to eat the occasional morsel of meat to maintain their mythic standing in Prax.

YGMV, but I don't think meat is seen as a "burden" by Praxians: consuming their animals (flesh, bone, skin and sinew) is intrinsic to their whole way of life. Would Praxians actually care that their cookfires are visible?: from a distance their herds would be too. Raiding parties or outlaws might eschew lighting a fire but there are ways to dry or preserve meat without fire. 

 

Edited by MOB
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Herd beast dung being Gloranthan and therefore magical makes no smoke when burnt...

And yes you hardly sneak around the Wastes with 500 head of Bison. I think Praxians dont give two hoots about being seen. Bring it on Broo.

Edited by Iskallor

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The idea that morokanth are ritually obliged to eat meat, but don't necessarily have the digestion for it, appeals to me. One way they may manage this is by embracing their Darkness nature - they're not trolls, but Darkness does incorporate hunger as one of its aspects. A morokanth particularly strong in Darkness might well learn appropriate magical tricks to allow the easier digestion of meat.

Edited by bturner
spelling...
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Love all of this. The revelation of the morokanth tribe as at best ritual non-vegans leaves a little economic wreckage behind like a flash flood in the chaparral. A two-legged son of Waha doesn't run out of herd flesh to eat because herds can digest forage. These two-legged tribes compete for meat by raiding each other.

On the four-legged side, a hungry morokanth competes directly with captured herd beasts (impala, llama, etc.) for forage. These "prizes" are not just economically useless except to ransom back to the two-legged tribes: every impala you keep around is literally eating your lunch. Meanwhile what does your two-legged herd eat? While it's nice to have slave hands at the ready, you either have to feed those animals from your salad bowl or capture riding beasts for slaughter and stew. Unless I'm missing something huge, two-legged herds are a prestige item but ultimately a drain on the most important economy of Prax, the stomach.

Maybe there are dark(ness) secrets around what exactly the morokanth barter in exchange for the captured riding beasts they presumably do not want. Maybe they are a drain on unwanted or unsupportable two-legged children -- a trade nobody would want to talk about. But even so, these "herd" trades are probably rare.

Another lingering question revolves around whether two-legged herd meat is still acceptable in, for example, a Bison stew pot. Presumably the Covenant holds that eating tapir meat is technically cannibalism, which may be the real motive for winning (or cheating) in the first place. Being taboo food can be worth all the headaches of participating in two-legged society: giving your herds bites you would prefer, coming up with thumbs, etc. But if the tapirs are "eaters" who don't eat, then the story gets dark if two-legged herds are actual omnivores just like us who get eaten.

Luckily morokanth magic ensures that the things don't talk or cry as they go into our pots. (Do morokanth have the Peaceful Cut, the holiest and central rite of Waha religion? When would they use it? How do you participate in the Waha mysteries without spilling blood?)

Also I would imagine mournful morokanth like Eeyore who long for the tapir days when life was simple even though occasionally you might get hunted and eaten. They might have a similar emotional resonance to other herbivores of the chaparral as the uncanny herd men have for us. In that case, their sympathies, art, poetry and mythos may be very different from two-legged tribal ways. Maybe they sometimes actually release captives into the wastes, which is where wild herds come from and so the magical ecology is replenished. Only the mothers know for sure.

On the other hand, if the morokanth have an origin distinct from riding animals -- if they're from elsewhere at a certain point in Gloranthan mythic history -- then they may not really care about what happens to an impala, etc. It's just animals and we, of course, are proven men. (I forget, do morokanth even have Man Rune now beyond a politeness?)
 

Edited by scott-martin
eeyore, mostly

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7 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Luckily morokanth magic ensures that the things don't talk or cry as they go into our pots. (Do morokanth have the Peaceful Cut, the holiest and central rite of Waha religion? When would they use it? How do you participate in the Waha mysteries without spilling blood?)
 

Yes, Morocanth as full participants in the Survival Covenant use Waha's Peaceful Cut. When they kill one of their herd men, they bury a hand instead of the tail.

8 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Another lingering question revolves around whether two-legged herd meat is still acceptable in, for example, a Bison stew pot. Presumably the Covenant holds that eating tapir meat is technically cannibalism, which may be the real motive for winning (or cheating) in the first place. Being taboo food can be worth all the headaches of participating in two-legged society

As long as they can be assured it really is herd man meat, I don't think Praxian humans give much pause to eating "mock pork". It is foreigners in Prax who find the practice unnerving and distasteful (even more so when they learn what a lot of the sausages in New Pavis are made out of). But native Praxians don't see it as "cannibalism" because they know the Covenant means herd men are absolutely not human. BTW, that's what makes the Cannibal Cult so reprehensible - they have no such compunctions. 

Morocanth butchers have ways of dressing and butchering herd man meat to demonstrate it is all above board. What frightens and causes mistrust among other Praxians is that they know Morocanth can and do use Waha/Eiritha (can't remember which cult it belongs to) rune spell Alter Creature to turn human captives into herd men and thus meat. This is why there is such a horror about being taken as a slave by the Morocanth or being sold to them, even though the actual instances of using Alter Creature are probably few; Morocanth also have need for sentient slaves.

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8 hours ago, bturner said:

The idea that morokanth are ritually obliged to eat meat, but don't necessarily have the digestion for it, appeals to me. One way they may manage this is by embracing their Darkness nature - they're not trolls, but Darkness does incorporate hunger as one of its aspects.

I like that a lot!

9 hours ago, bturner said:

A morokanth particularly strong in Darkness might well learn appropriate magical tricks to allow the easier digestion of meat.

That could fit well with the runic affinity aspect of the new RQ. I seem to remember reading somewhere specific body organs connected to certain runes. If there is an organ associated with Darkness, maybe that is what Morokanths consume by preference is it is the easiest to eat and keep down.

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It will probably help this discussion if I outline the current thinking of the now vegetarian morokanth.

Firstly the Covenant. It's definition has always been a bit vague. I've taken the view Eaters and Eaten is what the other tribes now say to show the morokanth cheated, so

Quote

Among the descendants of the Storm Bull there were two types: the four-legs, called animals, and the two-legs, called men. The animals and men formed natural groups, and Waha visited the Founder and Protectress of each one. Waha offered them the choice of the ends of two hidden strings, the longest would support the shortest.

Each time they pulled, the two-legs drew the long string, and the animals accepted the wondrous outcome. That they alone would live closer to the Goddess, living off her bounty. The men on the other hand would have to be content with living off them.

The one exception was the Morokanth, they were four-legs that pulled the long string. They were unhappy that they would not live off the bounty of the Goddess as their fellow four-legs. Waha said it would be unfair to change the outcome, but said it would always be preferable to eat another's herd. The Morokanth would live off the bounty of Ernalda as with the other four-legs, and their herd-men would be supported by the other's herds. The two-legs claim that the Morokanth cheated, the Morokath say the two-legs were fools to move themselves from direct contact with the goddess. Waha and Eiritha say nothing about the matter.

Morokanth raid just like everyone else, but use the meat to feed the omnivorous herd-men.

Quote

Herd-men are pre-Covenant humans, and are omnivorous. They can live off a much wider range of food than normal herd beasts. They can live on leaves, grass, bark and other vegetation of the Wastelands, as well as all human foods. If fed on only the vegetation of the Wastelands, they start to loose their normal form, weight, mobility, and the ability to breed. The Morokanth raid and hunt to provide meat for their herd-men.

Herd-men spend most daylight hours gathering food for their morokanth family. The evenings are spent eating the food the morokanth have cooked them, grooming and maintaining their established social ranking.

The problem for the other tribes is that herd-men don't thrive on a vegetarian diet, they need meat. Of course the others aren't willing to feed it to them.

Quote

Herd-Men in other Tribes

Just as with all herd beasts, herd-men are always a valid target for raiding and so can be found with other captured herd animals. When living off the land in a captured state, they don’t thrive as well as other herd beasts as they won’t be fed any meat to supplement their diet. The human tribes understand this, so herd-men are usually the first in the pot or on to the drying racks. This also solves the problem of selling them. Other humans will not buy them to slaughter and eat, believing them to be intelligent slaves, which would also make the Praxians look bad. Bartering them back to the morokanth in exchange for beasts of their own herds is unheard of as raiding is the preferred method of exchange in Prax. Occasionally there is a glut of herd man due to a good raid and no time to dry the meat, so Praxians will pass off fresh herd man as “mock pork”. They are very careful to butcher the meat so that no tell-tale parts would show its origin or likeness to that of a human. The story is always the same, mock pork comes from a deep desert dwelling pig like creature.

Morokanth do eat meat, but only in sacred ceremonies. Outside they can only digest small amounts. Much like any herbivore, their diet isn't only plants, but includes the invertebrates that live on them. Egajia Chewer of Flesh is current Most Respected Elder at the Paps. She's a morokanth and her whole life is a sacred dance, hence her moniker.

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On 5/15/2016 at 3:34 AM, g33k said:

Prepping for a new Glorantha/Prax campaign -- wherein nobody but myself has ever played more in Glorantha than 1-off adventures at general-RPG 'Con's -- I had a sudden thought.  I wrote in my "brief overview of Prax" for them:

Morokanth -
The only non-Humans to have become Eaters under Waha's Compact.  They herd placid, herbivorous, non-sentient Men as their Herd-Beasts!  Men are ill-formed to be riding beasts, so the Morokanth are charioteers.
 
I also thought that the Gern might well become physically-stronger -- like Agimori, basically -- so they'd be more-apt for Beast-like labors, faster runners to draw chariots, etc...  Any thoughts, broken-ness I haven't considered., etc?

See I like this idea of them being almost like Agimori but due to evolutionary and mythic needs as herd. Just as other herd animals are bred to become bigger, fatter, etc perhaps it is not impossible that this could happen with herd-men.

What if certain Morokanth have bred stronger humans that could carry more and pull more. Humans have a usefulness other herd animals don't, hands. They can carry things another beast couldn't in a different manner. 

I came up with what I thought was an interesting idea once for a campaign. That the players actually play herd-men that by some accident, function of myth or other strange circumstance a certain few have started to gain intelligence. Yes this would violate the pact and I never thought of the reason for why, but if you suppose for a moment that it could happen because many spectacular things can happen in Glorantha that are not what they ought to be then it soon makes for a very interesting game. Playing herd-men who lead a rebellion of a herd against their masters and then try to gain independence and become men. Would they, if succesful take on herd beasts themselves? Would they askew such things and value freedom of all beings above anything? Could they succeed at all or would it be a horrible, dark story?

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5 hours ago, David Scott said:

the longest would support the shortest . . . closer to the Goddess, living off her bounty

Pure Prax and a good deep glance at their gendered economy. Mothers provide sustainable milk. Fathers provide sacrifice. 

The notion of vegetarian herd men degenerating into "something" after capture or in the wild gets me wondering about where our friends the baboons fit into this larger mythic ecology, but they probably wouldn't appreciate the discussion.

The putative "desert pig" that no outsider has ever seen is amazing, I wonder if it has a long prehensile nose or the complete and utter opposite. 

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4 hours ago, Viktor said:

 I came up with what I thought was an interesting idea once for a campaign. That the players actually play herd-men that by some accident, function of myth or other strange circumstance a certain few have started to gain intelligence. Yes this would violate the pact and I never thought of the reason for why, but if you suppose for a moment that it could happen because many spectacular things can happen in Glorantha that are not what they ought to be then it soon makes for a very interesting game. Playing herd-men who lead a rebellion of a herd against their masters and then try to gain independence and become men. Would they, if succesful take on herd beasts themselves? Would they askew such things and value freedom of all beings above anything? Could they succeed at all or would it be a horrible, dark story?

A very interesting game premise indeed!

Ask the question Mythically, I think: recall that the Eater/Eaten dichotomy is a sacred Covenant (enacted (and enforced!) by Waha &co) for survival.  Back in the Godstime, the Men and the Beasts were co-sentient brethren in Genert's lush Garden.  Not worrying about HOW it happens -- it's the Gods' will, or it COULDN'T happen, we'll just handwave the HOW -- so much as WHY it happens.

Did one clan of Morokanth abandon the Compact in some other way; is this Waha actually "kicking them out" of the Covenant (or just sending a "plague" to warn them to mend their ways)?  Speaking of Plague:  is it some vile Chaos-disease trying to undermine the tribes' sacred Covenant & the worship of Waha &co?  Etc etc etc.

The "noble rebellion of independence" is (to my mind) perhaps the LEAST interesting & mythically-Gloranthan way to approach the question...  YGMV of course!

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Thanks everyone who has commented!

I take the point that wheels would be damaging in the Plains, and also the size/weight ratio, speed, and Morokanth's balance in a chariot.  All very valid issues!  And exactly the sort of "broken-ness I hadn't considered!"  You folks rock.

But I also wonder (as Iskallor mentioned) how Morokanth conduct raids, and how they return with their gains to their own territories when pursued by riders.  In the ordinary course of things, I can't see this happening even 5% of the time (notwithstanding the rule that 01-05 "always succeeds") !

Also:  how do they manage to fight effectively when it comes to actual battles?  Most lancers (all but the lightest Herd-Beasts) would decimate their lines, but the speed and maneuverability of the light cavalry would out-flank them, and heavy cavalry like Bison (or Rhino!) would turn the line into so much red mud...

I have to presume some magical/mythical answer to these prosaic logistical/military quandaries.

And that returns me to the joint ideas of a much bigger/stronger/faster Herd-Man... and to chariots.

Mythically- or magically-significant chariots, maybe... ?   I think we can "fix" the stability/stance issue by saying that the chariot is low-walled and more "table" like.  Morokanth ride laying down, or maybe sitting... but NOT trying to emulate a human charioteer's stance.

Now let's turn to the magic... bronze "tread" over the wooden wheels, with Morokanth-footprints cast into the bronze... that only make as much impact as one walking Morokanth makes (no matter how much the chariot carries)?  Add a pair of Agimori-like Gern pulling; or a quad of them when speed is of the essence (raids/etc).  Maybe the Morokanth claim that their magical chariots criss-crossing the Wastes  is helping to "weave" additional protection and solidity into the land, rather than tear it up as "ordinary" wheels do...

Also:  it just "feels right" that they would have SOME way to "ride" their Beasts...

Still pondering this question -- not settled on my "chariots" solution -- but finding the criticisms & commentary invaluable.  I said it before, I'll say it again, and keep saying it:  you folks rock!

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From what I understand Morokanth are often found along the Zola Fel because of their love/need of mud.  Having chariots would prevent them travelling in that area. 

Chariots use a lot of wood which is hard to come by out in the Wastes and Prax.

Ronance travelled by chariot so it is not unheard of in Prax.

 

 

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3 hours ago, g33k said:

And that returns me to the joint ideas of a much bigger/stronger/faster Herd-Man... and to chariots.

Bear in mind that a human (and a herd-man)  can produce about 1.2 horsepower briefly and sustain about 0.1 horsepower almost indefinitely, a morokanth chariot pulled by herd-men is going to require twelve to twenty four herd-men to pull it, depending upon the load.

3 hours ago, g33k said:

Now let's turn to the magic... bronze "tread" over the wooden wheels, with Morokanth-footprints cast into the bronze... that only make as much impact as one walking Morokanth makes (no matter how much the chariot carries)?  Add a pair of Agimori-like Gern pulling; or a quad of them when speed is of the essence (raids/etc).  Maybe the Morokanth claim that their magical chariots criss-crossing the Wastes  is helping to "weave" additional protection and solidity into the land, rather than tear it up as "ordinary" wheels do...

 
 
A bronze rim is going to add to the weight and to the stress on the wheel. A herdmanpowered chariot might move at a brisk trot, for a while, but without magical power, bursts of speed are going to be limited.
Edited by M Helsdon

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Quote

But I also wonder (as Iskallor mentioned) how Morokanth conduct raids, and how they return with their gains to their own territories when pursued by riders.  In the ordinary course of things, I can't see this happening even 5% of the time (notwithstanding the rule that 01-05 "always succeeds") !

They run on four legs, I assume, being as speedy as any other steed in Prax.  

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1 hour ago, metcalph said:

 

They run on four legs, I assume, being as speedy as any other steed in Prax.  

Alas, according to the Borderlands campaign, Morokanth are only as fast as humans on foot, having movement 8.  Impalas move 10,, but Bison and other herd beasts move 12.  So running away is not much of an option.

 

 

Edited by Pentallion

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