Mistress

This is by popular request of my readers……..(er, actually, Willow wanted to read it!). This was the last piece I submitted for my MA assignment in September. The observant amongst you may notice that this is a heavily rewritten redrafted and expanded form of the story originally called ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ . Yes, it’s gothic- what did you expect???? Pink gingham? You should know me by now!

Mistress
I clung to the shadows of the doorway, sheltering from the horizontal rain, and watched as Khlari jumped from the moving platform of the 38 bus as it hurtled round Islington Green from Essex Road to the stop at the Angel. I noticed that as she got off, the gaze of the bus conductor was upon her, and how she seemed to note it with approval. I also knew that she did this, without fail, every Saturday night, just for the thrill of it.

Following in the gaps and the dull spaces between the buildings, I saw her pull her long black coat around her against the chill November wind as she walked past the hoardings, picking her way over the cobbles in front of the long-abandoned Blue Kettle, her dark-kholed eyes, red lipstick, and long black hair flying behind her. Even though it was a Saturday night, her look was guaranteed to attract attention, even in the scruffy but relatively cosmopolitan streets of Islington. From the way she strode confidently over the mud and the broken pavements, I had the feeling that she liked it that way. I knew I liked her.

I was careful not to lose her, nor to let her catch sight of me as she turned the corner of City Road, walking determinedly past more hoardings and ramshackle cafes, heading down the sombre alleyway by the side of the dimly lit tube station towards Torrens Street and the flickering neon lights of the Slimelight reflecting in the puddles ahead.

She stepped through the high arched stone doorway, shaking the rain from her hair, and as I had often seen her do, she breezed past the black-clad queue and headed towards the staircase up to the club proper. It was a tall, dank, 19th century warehouse, in a dark alley,

perfectly suited to its current purpose. A goth club. I slipped inside just behind her, watching quietly from the corner, shaking the rain from my fur as I did so, London in November is no place for any self-respecting cat, and at my age you have to be careful.

‘Khlari!’

It was Martin, the doorman. Gilded blonde, impossibly tall and black-clad, with a single silver Egyptian earring, he had a beautiful yet edgy air, he never missed anything.

‘Looking good darling!’

Khlari gave him a twirl, black backcombed hair flying, fishnet top with a satin corset hugging her in, her black net and velvet skirt flowing long behind and short in front the better to show off the long fishnetted legs leading down to her high-heeled viciously pointed boots……..

They exchanged a few air kisses, rather difficult given Khlari’s five feet two and Martin’s six feet seven, but their usual practice, as he waved her in to the club. She was a regular and he knew her well, and he had been doorman for a long time. She climbed up the worn stone staircase to the third floor, beyond the heavy metal-like beats pounding as she passed the second floor, until she reached the haven at the top of the stairs. I moved from dark place to dark place behind her in the velvet darkness, just out of her line of vision in the hollows of the steps. She turned left into the room when she reached the top of the narrow dark staircase, and I followed imperceptibly behind, my dark coat lending me protection.

The room was black, the lighting was ultraviolet, and the throng of dancers were all clad in black. All that could be seen in the gloom were shining eyes and teeth through the dry ice. There were momentary flashing reflections from the PVC and silver jewellery as the haunting strain of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ filled the air.From my observation point, I could see her heading for the bar, giving sideways looks to the new bar staff. Here they changed from week to week, people come, and people go.
London was always a transient city, and always will be, and I knew that the goth scene was one of the most transient of them all.

‘Pernod and black please.’

The crowd at the bar had parted a little to let her through; she was a well known figure around here. Several of the other habitués nodded or signalled acknowledgement, though nothing as obvious as a real hello. They would not risk their deadly pout or their deathlike demeanour for so little. As always, determined never to break the impression, shatter the illusion so carefully crafted. Their fragile carapace was all. The man behind the bar was new. Tall, dark, and handsome – in a gothic fashion, yet somehow not your archetypal androgynous emaciated model.

Elegant, long dark hair with cheekbones to die for, yet somehow he seemed more solid, seemed to have something more substantial, almost magnified in effect by the willowy effete boys at his side. More unusually for a goth, he had no piercings, no silver, and a little, fine dark beard, but he did have the dark, netted clothes, and through the diaphanous top she could see the outline of a tattoo of some kind of eye, on one arm….. I could see that she was almost confused by him; he was so far removed from what she had been expecting. I moved a little closer so I could hear them, stepping carefully through the murk on my velvet paws.

Crouched in my hiding-place, so narrow that my whiskers were touching the sides, I watched, as Khlari shot him a quizzical look. He looked straight back into her eyes.

‘I don’t think I know you.’ She began.

‘Should you?’ He said.

‘I’m here all the time.’ She threw back.

‘Oh really?’ He threw back to her.

‘What kind of an accent is that anyway? Not from round here…’

I sensed that she was struggling, that he was not her usual type at all.

‘No, I’m Italian….’ At this point I nearly jumped out of my (admittedly beautifully black and furry) skin, as a corseted blonde dark-eyed meteor shot towards Khlari. Her hair nearly doubled her stature and owed much to the powers of peroxide and Insette Spikey hairspray and seemed to remain almost static as she hurtled noisily towards Khlari, shrieking her name ….

‘Mia!!!’

Khlari hugged her friend, who was closely followed, though more sedately, by the other part of the triumvirate, the tall blue-eyed redhead Martha. Who in turn was hugged by both of them. Unlike the teenage habitués of ‘Slimes’, they did dare to smile, they were old enough and confident enough to be ‘Perky-Goths’. The unnatural had become the natural to them. They knew that their gothicism was deeply-ingrained and unquestionable, and didn’t seem to feel the need to slump in corners on chaise-longues a la Sarah Bernhardt, affect a black-lipsticked pout and stare blankly into space in a ‘meaningful’ fashion, or declaim awful manic-depressive poetry in a maudlin monotone, in order to strengthen their gothic credentials. They didn’t need to.

They were legendary here at least, in goth world, that microcosm of society that only really came alive at night, that black-clad netherworld of love, sex, and the bittersweet veiled pretence of death and darkness. An underworld of light and shadow, artifice and extremes, this parallel universe which coexisted hidden so close to the mundane everyday world.

The ‘uber goth babes’, as the baby-goth girls had admiringly, yet jealously christened them, they were what they aimed to grow up to become. Their make-up was flawless, their hair perfection, their clothes designed both to veil and reveal. They had had lots of practice, they had been around the scene forever, since their early teens, had done their growing up in gothdom as they frequently teased each other.

They didn’t need to try any more, they knew it all deep within them, they ate, smoked and breathed it. Their artifice was perfect, their illusion complete. They could afford to allow their familiarity to breed an affectionate contempt for goth affectations. I should know, I have been observing them for many years now, but they have either never seen me, or never paid attention to the black cat sitting quietly in the corner.

I have heard Martha declaim in her lilting Dutch accent that these days she wouldn’t even recognize ‘normality’, and it would have been hard to imagine her, or indeed any of them looking otherwise, they seemed to have looked this way since they were born. Mia, laughingly, claimed to have been born in fishnets, wearing eye liner, which was only a slight untruth, it had been a rapid yet permanent evolution. I knew that simply they had not found it, it had found them, and drawn them in as its own. As I drew in my own.

They contrasted perfectly, Mia was diminutive, raucous, with big blonde backcombed hair, and a laugh like Sid James. I could sense a West-Indian undertone nestling beneath her husky north-London twang, she had arrived here in her teens from some northern seaside town, and never left since. Martha on the other hand tall, Amazonian and Dutch, with spiky-pillar box red teased hair, had made her way here alone from her remote Frisian village and stayed. Khlari was the only native north-Londoner, smaller, quieter with her green eyes and long flowing black locks, but this hid an equally determined personality. Three sides of a triangle. They made an unlikely group, but one that had withstood the test of time and deepened as time went on. Together, they made a kind of impromptu family of fortune, they did everything together.

I was close behind as they drifted towards the dance floor, playing their favourite game of ‘name that old goth tune in one note’. As Mia shouted ‘Flesh for Lulu’, Martha replied ‘Roman Candle’ with a laugh….they were infallible on these. Years of practice sitting in black-painted bedrooms and goth nightclubs.

Glancing sideways I saw Khlari nod to her brother Matt, tall and thin, semi-naked and with sweat running through his spiked black hair as usual by this point in the evening. He paused almost imperceptibly; he was reeling round the dancefloor like a banshee, surrounded by his usual gaggle of adoring baby-goth girls. He would not interrupt this ritual, even for his sister. I contemplated them from the cover of the dusty velvet curtain in the corner. The sound of Siouxsie’s ‘Arabian Knights’ was literally searing its way through their ribcages, the insistent beat worming its way into their hearts. The Slimelight had never been a place for a quiet chat. They came here to bare their souls to the music.

As the song switched to ‘Alice’, they threaded their way onto the maelstrom of the dancefloor, twisting, turning, feeling the music flow through them, losing themselves for the moment and in the moment. I could see the absence in their eyes, the surrender to the music that was a force greater than they could control. A symphony of fishnet, black, red, and deathly white, a shadow-puppet danse macabre. The strobe lights flashed and pulsed, the dancers seemed to shatter, break, then reform before my eyes as Eldritch’s plaintive voice pleaded with Alice not to ‘give it away’…… As the sound drifted on to ‘She Sells Sanctuary’…the intensity was rising still further. Even I began to feel the drumbeat pulsing through my delicate bones as Ian Astbury’s tribal wail rose into the smoke-filled heady air.

Suddenly I saw a pair of fine-fingered hands snaking lightly around Khlari’s waist as she turned into the music. Through the haze and the flailing dancers I saw her twist and stop to stare, mesmerised, into the absinthe-green eyes of the new barman.

‘Hello’

‘Just dance…..’

They moved in a haze, his body perfectly aligned to hers and the rising, falling, turning, hypnotic motion of the song. She was not ‘dancing with him’; they seemed utterly attuned and connected to each other. Suddenly, his mouth was upon hers, they were spiralling, swirling as one being. I moved further out, daring detection, just to see the irresistible perfection of their seamless circle, out of time and out of place, existing only for one another. Finally he broke away, leading her by the hand, out of the chaos of writhing forms to a marginally quieter corner. I followed softly in the shadows.

What are you called?’

‘Khlari, and you?’He smiled, as did I, licking my paws and smoothing my long whiskers. In my long experience, I have found over the years that although most Goths seemed to call themselves Thunder, Raven, or Elvira, they had usually been christened Colin, or Tracey, or something equally prosaic.

‘It is your real name?’

She looked affronted. ‘Yes, I’m afraid so. Eccentric parents. So what’s yours?’

‘They call me Carmine’

‘And that’s your real name?’

‘Yes.’ His turn to look affronted now. ‘It’s Italian.’

They both broke into hesitant smiles.

‘So why aren’t you behind the bar? Dereliction of duty?’

‘No, I am finished for the night.’

He took her by the hand again, and back into the bedlam of bodies, They carried on dancing, moving, a symphony of shadows in perfect unison until the end of the evening. I moved higher up to watch them, untroubled from my favourite little eyrie on top of the bar. Only if you had known where to look, and looked very closely, would you have seen my green eyes reflecting the neon lights below.

The night passed in its usual heady timeless blur. Mia had seemed to sense that she wanted to be alone and had made a tactful and tacit withdrawal. Even Matt had disappeared, either with Martha or with one of his juvenile harem, it could easily have been either.

This was a place of chance meetings, ethereal encounters, fleeting moments. Here were illusion, shadow, and the brief promise of strangers. ‘For life is short and love is always over in the morning’, they lived life to the limits of experience.

The dancefloor was emptying, the flickering lights showing the hollow echoing spaces of empty warehouse now, the dry-ice fading to nothing, the carefully-created illusion gradually dispersing as the night grew old. Gradually, the music faded into silence. Their reverie was broken, and I heard Khlari’s voice rising.

‘I’m going to have to go.’

Now Carmine’s voice, deeper, ‘Why?’

‘I have to get home, somehow.’

‘Stay for a drink.’

‘How? The bar closed an hour ago.’

‘I live upstairs.’

‘Here, above the club? There’s more?’

‘Yes’ Eventually she agreed, and he kissed her tenderly on the lips, took her gently by the hand, leading her to the far corner of the now empty and echoing dancefloor, behind a dusty velvet curtain, and up a narrow stone staircase, until they came to a small wooden door. I was of course behind, cloaked in the obscurity, but she was too engrossed to see me, as I had thought. He took her into a room decorated in typically gothic style, dark, heavy red velvet and candles everywhere, with the scent of incense heavy in the air. I secreted myself in a corner for now.

‘Like the decor.’

‘It is nothing. It suffices.’

They sat and talked, and drank deep red wine from tall purple goblets, for what seemed like hours, until suddenly she was laid back on his crimson chaise-longue, and they were kissing again. I crept forward, so eager to watch now that I climbed onto the chaise-longue, stretching my silken black body into its red velour depths. They embraced delicately, becoming imperceptibly, yet unmistakeably, more passionate. His hand was on her shoulders, now bare over the satin corset, and her hand was running over the tattoo on his arm when, in the silence, there was a hissing noise. She sat bolt upright. I nearly fell off the couch.

‘Poppysma.’ I heard her cry. He shot up at this point and stared. Looked her straight in the face with those piercing emerald eyes.

‘Pardon? What did you say?’ He said, holding her by both shoulders now.

‘Poppysma. That’s what it’s called.’

‘This is ridiculous. You know nothing about this.’ He had a perplexed look on his face, and he turned his head slightly away from her.

‘I know everything. Well, go on then. Hurry up. Get on with it.’

He stood up. Disquieted, he paced up and down the room, with his hand to his head in a melodramatic fashion. Now you could see he was a real goth, if there had ever been any doubt.

‘Hurry up? If you truly know what I will do to you, you must know the consequences, and you say to me to hurry up – are you mad?’

Khlari now appeared to have had enough, and she stood up herself. Even with her heels on, drawing herself up to her full height, he was still about a foot taller than her. I thought to myself, she may be tiny, but that girl has spirit. She marched up to him, took him by the hands, and looked up into his eyes, her green eyes seeking out his even greener ones.

‘Look, Carmine. I’m a London Goth, not some hick from the sticks. Of course I know what you are about to do, I’ve seen the movies, I’ve read the book, got the T shirt and been to Transylvania. Now just get a move on.’ He wrenched himself away from her and crashed down on the velvet sofa, with his head in his hands, a picture of pure despair. He had such a talent for drama, that boy.

‘It has never happened like this.’

‘Well maybe you’ve never been to London before. I’m not that naïve, I did notice you know. Or did you just think I was really stupid?’

‘But I cannot do this, not now.’ He looked annoyed now, these hot-blooded types never like anyone else getting one over on them. Five hundred years of getting his own way to be thwarted by a twentieth century girl.

‘How could you notice? I have hundreds of years practice and you are a mere child.’

‘Little things- wincing next to Thunder’s crucifix, the fact you nipped me when you kissed me, those green eyes of yours…..and the fact I’ve been looking for all of the above for as long as I can remember. I want you to’

‘You want me to? Mio dio, this is completely…idiotic. Some little girl knowing better than me, this is impossible’

‘Look Carmine. This is really simple. You Vampire, Me Goth. You bite, because you want to, I get bitten, because I asked you to. Now bite me.’

He began to pace around the room…. ‘How can I bite you properly if I know you want me to? This was never part of the deal…How can you be my victim if you are willing? I can’t do this…..’

‘Stop the existential angst and get on with it. Or I might believe that you really are just a goth poser with cool contact lenses and not Dracula at all’

‘Him, they made him up…’ I heard Carmine mutter in a discomfited way as he took Khlari into his arms…….

I felt that I had better intervene at this point. It obviously wasn’t his evening, and much as I found this amusing, something needed to be done. He should know better by now. I coughed gently. Khlari looked straight at me.

‘Is that your cat?’

Carmine wriggled uncomfortably. He knew what was coming; it’s not the first time I’ve had to help him out of a tight spot. He does still have so much to learn.

‘Not so much his property,’ I said ‘as him being mine’. Now it was Khlari’s turn to nearly fall off of the sofa. She stared at Carmine.

‘How did you do that?’ She squeaked.

I carried on. ‘He didn’t, It was I who was addressing you’

‘Bloody hell, a talking cat!’

At this point a severe look was necessary. Enough was enough after all. At three thousand years old, or thereabouts, I feel you do demand just a little respect, being a living deity has to get you somewhere, after all.

‘That’s a talking cat goddess to you young lady, Bast is my name and I would thank you to use it.’

‘Like the Egyptian goddess Bast?’ She mouthed with a look of incredulity on her face.

‘Not like the goddess, no. You have the pleasure of addressing her in person. You don’t think that he thought all this up by himself do you? The place is mine. As is he.’

Many hours later, as dawn rose outside, I completed the tale of Bast. (Not that Khlari would now be witness to any more of those- dawns, I mean.) My tale, a tale spanning many lifetimes places and centuries, the story of the tribe of Bast in its many manifestations. The tale of my wandering tribe, my children of the diaspora. My found family span many times and civilisations, and they will span many more to come. There have been trials as well. Much as I can be generous, I can also be vengeful. I give generously, but some have found that I can also take away in abundance. Personally, I feel that this is one of its most successful incarnations.

Here my children, my creations, my denizens of the dark, lend themselves so naturally to their new lives and new forms, the change is almost unnoticeable. But I choose only the most tenacious to cross over, the weak of mind and body would never survive the journey, and I have no wish to pass eternity with a bunch of half-wits.

I chose carefully yet eclectically, our survival depends on it. Martin, my protector, had been with me since I had picked him up in war-torn medieval Germany. Carmine, on the other hand, I had saved from a brawl in
Florence around the time of the Renaissance, he still has that piratical air, and would walk round north London with a jewelled dagger if I would let him. My pièces trouvées, the children who sought to belong. I gave them that sense of belonging. I had given them my eternal gift.

Now, it was time for Khlari to make that journey to join them.

I slipped gently away as Carmine took her gently into his arms, his mouth delicately at her throat, and abandoned her to her fate. Or abandoned Carmine to his, it was difficult to tell, I have always liked a girl with spirit. It has only taken me five centuries to find a match for my Carmine.

As his arms clasped Khlari, you could see the eye of Thoth tattooed on his arm. My eye is the eye of the moon, the eye of the dark side, the eye of the tribe of Bast. I left them to make the crossing to the other side together.

Chilled to the bone, I clung to the shadows of the doorway, sheltering from the horizontal rain, and watched as Khlari stood by the doors of the 38 bus as it hurtled round Islington Green from Essex Road to the stop at the Angel. The hissing doors opened to let her off, and she mischievously swung round the central pole of the doors several times before jumping off. I noticed the gaze of the driver upon her even as the bendy bus pulled away from the stop, and how she noted it with approval.

Following in the gaps and the dull spaces between the buildings, I saw her pull her long black coat around her against the chill November wind as she walked past the brightly lit bank and tube station her dark-kholed eyes, red lipstick, and hair falls flying in the breeze. I also knew that she did this, without fail, every Saturday night, just for the thrill of it.

Even though it was a Saturday night, her look was guaranteed to attract attention, even in the relatively cosmopolitan and costly streets of Islington. From the way she strode confidently along the wide pavement, past the people meeting on the corner before they headed for the lights of Upper Street, I had the feeling that she liked it that way. And I liked her.

I was careful not to lose her, nor to let her catch sight of me as she turned the corner of City Road, walking determinedly past the trendy postmodern boho bars, down the side of the derelict and deserted ex-tube station, and towards the dimly glimmering eye of the Slimelight reflected in the puddles ahead. She breezed past the black-clad queue and went into the club.

She stepped through the arched stone doorway, shaking the rain from her hair, and as I had often seen her do, she breezed past the black-clad queue and headed towards the staircase up to the club proper. I slipped inside just behind her, watching quietly from the corner, shaking the rain from my fur as I did so, London in November is no place for any self-respecting cat, and at my age you have to be very careful.

‘Khlari!’

 

It was Martin, the doorman. Gilded blonde, impossibly tall and black-clad, with a single silver Egyptian earring, he had a beautiful yet edgy air, he never missed anything.

‘Looking good darling!’

Khlari gave him a twirl, jewels glittering on her face, hair extensions flying, leather corset hugging her in, her tiny leather skirt the better to show off the long fishnetted legs leading down to her New Rocks……..

They exchanged a few air kisses; rather difficult given Khlari’s five feet two and Martin’s six feet seven, but this, their usual practice had never changed. He waved her in to the club. She was a regular and he knew her well, and he had been doorman for a very long time.

She climbed up the worn stone staircase to the third floor, beyond the pumping fluo and cyber-goth of the second floor, until she reached the haven at the top of the stairs. I moved from dark place to dark place behind her in the velvet darkness, just out of her line of vision in the hollows of the steps. She turned left into the room when she reached the top of the narrow dark staircase, and I followed imperceptibly behind.

I watched her as she walked up behind, and wrapped her arms around Carmine, the silver eye of Thoth around her neck glinting under the neon lights. He was standing at the bar with a tall thin boy.

‘Ciao, Khlari.’ he said, turning to kiss her, ‘Meet Raven, he is new on the bar tonight.’

A tall, ill-at ease, pale teenager with long black hair managed a weak smile in Khlari’s direction, before sinking back into his studied reverie of the floor.

Mia’s tattoo was half-glimpsed under her hair as she hugged Martha, and they waved Matt over to join them. Matt slipped into his place beside Martha, his arm around her waist, a familiar eye on his arm too. They had finally found each other, under their very noses. Martha wore hers as an earring. Martin would join his Mia later, when he had finished, even his wait was over. My eternally beautiful chosen ones. Some of their brothers and sisters had gone on to Paris, to Tokyo, to New York or Moscow, but my favourites remained here with me, I had chosen well.

My moon children, my dark family of choice, they were mine, but I loved them like my own kind. Khlari, Martha and Mia were in their usual elaborate eye make-up, which had become their trademark look, a familiar kholed eye. In homage to me, my eye of Thoth, of the moon, of the other. This had become the symbol of the club, and now winked in red neon outside in the driving rain.

Suddenly somebody swooped on me from behind, fishnetted arms with clinking silver bracelets and a scent of Amarige.

“Bast, you naughty cat. Have you been following me home again?”

I looked into Khlari’s eyes, feigning disdain. Her piercing green eyes danced with amusement as she stared into mine. It was so frustrating sometimes not being able to answer back. But there were outsiders around.

“Your fur is all damp and your feet are wet.”

She cuddled me tightly and tickled and stroked my head, as she set me gently on the floor. It’s not very dignified, I know, but it still feels rather nice, even after several thousand years. It was odd how in the last 20 years or so, no-one had ever remarked how little Carmine and Khlari had aged, their friends also remaining the same. Literally.

Just one slight difference that no-one ever seemed to pick up on, or maybe thought was mere goth artifice or contact lenses. The absinthe-green eyes that they all had.

Nor had anyone noticed the abnormally high turnover of bar staff. Or clientele. People change quite frequently in the Goth scene. The fact they went out only at night- well, they were Goths after all, that’s what Goths do. Luckily people dismiss what is in front of their very eyes as too fanciful, too ridiculous- too obvious. People come, people go.

London was always a transient city, and always will be, and the goth scene the most peripheral and transient of all.

At the end of the day, what and who define ‘normality’ after all? When night fell, the atmosphere shifted, imperceptibly to most. As the dry ice covered the stone floor, the ultraviolet lights turned the room an eerie blue.

‘Transylvanian Concubine’ filled the void, Melora’s voice rising clear into the ether, slicing through the heavy air.

Mistress of all I survey, I settle into my eyrie over the bar, my observation point. Perhaps, tonight, we would find a new member for our select clique, perhaps not, that was half the fun. Slowly, my flailing black-clad potential children filled the dancefloor under my watchful eye, and the willing suspension of disbelief that was Saturday night at the Slimelight began anew.

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10 Responses to “Mistress”

  1. Try again – I like the new version – Funny how the barman is now Italian when before he was French – Wonder why ? 🙂

  2. Hmmm….goodness only knows, maybe there is some deep and psychological meaning to it, eh?

    Or maybe just what I was thinking at the time- lol!

  3. What a fantastic read – followed you here from Spicy Cauldron.

  4. Thanks Nicola for that….Andy and I are quite different in style really- even though we actually met in a creative writing class 15 years ago, we have had a very different development (he would just say it’s because I’m a goth though!)

  5. I do love this dear, well done!

    D

  6. No I wouldn’t! I’d say we’re simply different people full stop, hon. Nice to see the lovely Nicola here. And I too like the new version better and chortled at the geographical barman change – are you going to start singing give me Cornetto and eating nothing but pizza and/or anything with olive oil in it now? >;-) x

  7. Absolutely cara mia!!!

  8. Hehehehehehehe! x

  9. Now I’m back online at home *pause for happy dance* I’ve had a chance to read this and wow, thanks for posting it Khlari, that was a very entrancing read :o)

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