Anima - Into the Shadows

Vengeance Taken

After Tsura’s transformation into a dragon and her visions of Narloth and Rembrandt, the Council decided that time was of the essence. We quickly returned to the Ghost and set out for Shivat.

While we were still miles off the coast, we got our first glimpse of the Implacable Tower of Iron, rising 600 feet into the air. The area almost shone with the residual magic from the spell that raised the iron tower up from the ground. As we closed in on the tower, we were able to see smaller rock spires just off the coast, rising almost as high as the tower itself.

With wyverns circling several thousand feet above the tower, we closed in. Soon it became evident that a man and a dragon were conversing atop the tower of iron. With a screech, Tsura grabbed Taro in one of her massive claws and began a dive toward the tower.

With a mild curse, I attempted to steer the Ghost after them, barely flying higher than the surrounding rock spires. As Tsura reached the tower, Taro leaped from her claws and rushed at Rembrandt, attempting to attack him with several savage attacks. Seeing Tsura land on the tower, Narloth turned his massive head toward Tsura and let out an earth shattering roar.

Meanwhile, back on the Ghost, things went from bad to worse. As we approached the tower, three dancers stepped out of Nowhere in our path and launched an attack, injuring Jericho. With the speed only a master of Ki could manage, Opheon lept off the Ghost and attacked one of the dancers. Hardly two breaths behind, Archimus and Jericho’s Blood Rose engaged the remaining dancers. Attempting to steady my zeonic rifle on the steering console of the Ghost, I fired shots at the dancers, missing badly.

With our attention fully on the dancers, the battle atop the iron tower rose to a fevered pitch. Taro and Rembrandt launched attack after attack at each other, trading blows and each wearing the other down. Tsura struck first blood with Narloth, breathing a bolt of electricity that pierced his shoulder. Narloth responded by tearing a gash down Tsura’s back. Back and forth, flying and twisting, the two mighty dragons fought.

Quickly it became apparent that our time in the past had been well spent. Opheon quickly loped an arm off the first dancer and quickly taking advantage of its slight distraction, also removed its head. While Archimus kept the second dancer engaged, Opheon was again able to take advantage of the distraction and this time managed to cleave it from shoulder to hip. The Blood Rose valiantly fought against the third dancer, only to be shunted from reality, a feeling I can never forget and one I would never wish on my worst enemy.

As things began to look up for us, fate smiled on us again. Narloth paused in his fight with Tsura, laughed, and asked her, “So, is this the way it is to be?” Then, in a move none of us were prepared for, he turned, opened his mouth, and the resulting blaze turned the twilight dimness into midday brightness. Tsura, shocked that she was not the target of the attack, could only watch in dismay as the flames engulfed The Ghost, Jericho, and myself.

Whether due to blind luck or some dark pact forged from an incantation, Jericho miraculously got off The Ghost unharmed. I was not so lucky. In my attempt to dodge out of the way of the incoming fire, my foot caught on one of the rigging ropes and I fell flat on my face. The heat of the fire was almost unbearable, but I quickly managed to get myself off the ship before it fell the 600 feet to the surf below. I could feel the skin on my neck, face, and head starting to crackle as the deep burns reacted to the sea air. Collapsing in pain atop one of the rock spires, I could only hope that the rest of the Council could finish this without my help.

Fortunately, at that time, Taro launched another of his flurry of attacks at Rembrandt, this time fully overcoming his defenses. As the last blow struck home, katana through Rembrandt’s heart, both Rembrandt and Narloth screamed and fell dead.

The next few days were a blur, my skin repaired as best as possible, but will always bear the scars of that fight. Woden arrived with our sky keep and worked to set up the iron tower as another base, albeit a less mobile base, for the Council.

With Rembrandt dead, vengeance was finally taken. The Council breathed a sigh of relief and was about to start some well needed rest and recreation, when Woden approached us…

To be continued???

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And then there was one...

We fight the dragon who was told by Narloth that we must die. Tetsuro is killed in an epic fire blast that also my have killed Tsura.
My right hand is the only part of me that doesn’t hurt. Blood from the slain dragon falls on me. When I wake up I am a dragon! If I close my eyes and focus on the tooth, I can see the island of Shivat and Reimbrandt.

Taro builds a monument to Tetsuro at the spot where he was killed. He also pushes the red button from Gregory, which causes an explosion in the city and out of the rubble walks a construct… Seven

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I always wanted to fight a dragon...

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months already since we got here. Half a year of recuperation and travel aboard Ascension. The Senator was able to gain control of it after he disabled it… or rather, the Vito with us was able to control Ascension after the Vito from the past… or rather, what they perceive as the past disabled it in order to thwart some kind of evil scheme… but that Vito is in actuality still here… in the present… and we can’t rescue him and the others past/still kind of present selves from the apparently horrific prison they’re being held in because that would mean that everything that happened… or will happen… wouldn’t… or won’t, right? So then we wouldn’t meet… which I would be kind of okay with, because that would mean I would never come this primitive hole of an era. It’s rather depressing and confusing and I don’t wish to spend any more time trying to figure it out.

It seems though that our time of rest is over. Out of nowhere, two fast moving airships raced in. At first we were thinking combat, but it soon became apparent that the others knew of these craft and those aboard them. A great bear of man, Woden they called him, was at the forefront along with a group of soldiers my companions have served with. They seemed overjoyed to see us, especially Woden. Also with them, to my surprise, was Jace, who I last saw in Solomon when I met Senator Vito. He seems… changed.

After introductions and reminiscences were made, Jace presented Taro with a cipher from someone named Dr. Gregory, a name the others rolled their eyes at. The cipher was a message to meet Dr. Gregory at a city called Ilion, at a place called the Stag. An enemy of Taro’s, a man called Rembrandt, was spotted there. At seeing that name it was decided, rather suddenly, that we would comply with the message and meet the doctor.

We docked Ascension at the island of Corvinus and left it in the care of an absolutely disturbing young girl known to the rest of companions as Selene, as taking the airships was decided to be entirely more subtle. We swiftly made our way to Ilion, a desert city serving as a gateway to a holy war taking place in a nation called Kushistan. We found the Stag and met Dr. Gregory. From the others I understood that he was far gaunter then the last time they encountered them. He also was extremely frightened. He recounted how he was captured by Rembrandt and tortured for information. He then presented Taro with the last invention he created, a strange device with a single button upon it. I will not be nearby when Taro decides to find out what the button does.

Suddenly, flames engulfed Dr. Gregory, killing him instantly. The assassins, an organization that calls itself the Order of the Dying Light, scattered throughout the city and as-per-usual, we gave chase. Much chaos ensued and many of the Order died by our hand as we hounded them throughout the city. Along the way, we somehow gained the aide of two groups of the city militia. In addition, we had a run in with a curious group of individuals calling themselves the Inquisition. It was quite a show. They were swiftly dealt with. Finally, we cornered the last of the assassins and through the tremors that were racking the city, they suddenly raised their weapons and cut their own throats. At this, the tremors increased drastically and before our eyes, dragons appeared, bursting out of the ground around us. I always wanted to fight a dragon…

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So a Dancer, an Emmeth, an Oni and Marionette walk into a bar

As we gathered our hard earned treasure, we all noticed a banging at the wall behind us. The treasure hunters had come for there claims. Though we had never met them before, they had already seemed aggressive to us. When they finally broke through all was at a stand still. Archimus tried to talk it out, maybe find terms for us all to agree on, but Vito was sick of politics and decided to be a man of action drew his rifle and attacking the dancer. When the battle broke loose Tsura couldn’t it handle do to overwhelming fear, she said she would meet us back in the room of protection. They all were quick to act, Vito fired a shot that barely left a mark on the dancer. The dancer returned in kind doing a shard storm hitting all of us. These had left me in weakened state but luckily Bloodrose was able to help in my absence. While this happened the Oni had engaged with Archimus and seeing a enemy of his people Taro engaged him with Tetsuro leading the charge in what look like a crazed frenzy. Tetsuro jumped and clamped down on the Oni’s balls, while both the Bloodrose and Taro slashed away at him. The Emmeth noticed a enemy of Solomon or so he thought. What he saw was me and it engaged emergency protocol leaving it stuck in place but with a clear direction of where he was headed.

The battle seemed to last forever every move we made was met in kind by a harsher one. Though I must admit I did not see the marionette until its last seconds as it tried to run from Ophion’s fierce attacks, as it ran ophion jumped into the air landing down cutting through the wood and strings. It became clear to me as the dancer still took little damage but dealt massive amounts to us, that we had little chance against this foe, so I summoned my shield of the priestess and called the first of three favors from the Djinn. He appeared I gave the order, and I saw the strangest look on his face, Fear. He vanished then appeared behind the dancer,“i’m going to regret but if i come back that’s 1”. With the dancer gone, morale had drastically raised allowing us to focus on the other threats. The Oni fight was going well and while no damage showed on him it looked well for us as well. Then the Emmeth arrived and while I was able to block the first attack from this massive machine, the second one was to fast for me to stop, it pulped my right leg leaving little but mangled flesh behind. As I fell I noticed Vito barely up as the oni unleashed a fire-blast.

From the details the others gave me as I awoke from my coma and found myself in the safe room was that everything went well. The oni was demolished by Taro and Tetsura with the help of my bloodrose and Vito. While Archimus and Ophion “deactivated” the Emmeth. We all seemed to being growing healthier and as I look about I found out why, Vito devoted all his Zeon into forming a healing aura for all of us. My leg still mangled we found bits and peaces to make a splint and used a stick for a cane. We still had work to do so we climbed to the third floor making way to the exit. As we arrived going once again through the weird stairs. We found are selves in a room with the volcano directly under us venting what seemed to be a smoke that was corrosive to metal. Knowing this we knew we couldn’t stay long, and the as our eye’s adjusted we saw what was left of a battle field. We approached the only soldier left alive, and to our surprise it was Quinn’s female guard. She spoke of enemies trying to get through she tossed us a devise and said this would allow us to traverse Omega’s realm. Then she pleaded to be thrown into the volcano saying it was the only way to prevent her enemy from getting the advanced technology, and without hesitation Archimus grabbed her and through her over. Now we have one way to go with no clue on what to expect.

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Vengeance Taken is Sweeter than Wine

After far too long dealing with ghosts, we were finally able to head up to the second level of the temple. A long flight of stairs was all that lay between us and the next part of our mission to return home. The disorientation that came with climbing the stairs was far more acute than usual. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the oddity when each of us entered the room at the top of the stairs from different points around the half-circle.

The top of the stairs held a room full of the smallest mirrors I have ever seen. We moved in to the room, only to be assaulted by Matthew Gaul and Rembrandt. Now, Archimus and Ophion claim we just attacked other members of our party, but I am still sure they must have been hallucinating. Regardless, Archimus soon discovered that destroying the mirrors would lessen the illusion that he and Ophion were seeing.

After making our way out of the room of mirrors, we turned a corner to find a long dark hallway with a statute to Mesigius at the end of the hallway. Before we could really get our bearings, lava started to seep into the hallway from the wall behind us. A we took off running down the hall, the wall exploded, sending chunks of wall and fiery hot lava flying down the hall. Tsura took a rock to the kidney and fell to the floor, obviously in pain. Taro quickly grabbed her and continued our run down the hall.

We tried several of the doors as we ran, but to no avail. As we stood at the end of the hall before the statue, the glint of gold in the pool at Mesigius’s feet caught my eye. With barely a pause, I jumped into the pool, emerging in the Redress of Balance.

It was obvious this room was free of the taint of Mesigius. The swords making up the walls indicated this was likely dedicated to the Queen of Swords. After some time of rest and recovery, we left and found ourselves in the Reliquary. The walls were made of some material that allowed us to see out into the surrounding halls, without allowing those outside to see in.

Recovering several different artifacts, we were interrupted by a loud thudding at the door. As we turned, we saw what could only be the other group of treasure hunters outside the door, attempting to break the door in.

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Sea of Souls

Archimus Chrom, Praetorian of Solomon – Report to the Honorable Congress of Solomon on the activities of Senator Vito and his companion cadre.

I trust the previous report on the journey aboard Leviathan has reached you. This summary of our activities will be sent at the earliest opportunity.

After answering the riddles of the door guardian and entering the temple, we found ourselves in a courtyard. Long screams emanated from within the temple while the ground of the courtyard was covered in fog. Approaching us were four immense spectral figures, dragging chains between them. Attached to these chains was a specter of a man that the senator and his subordinates seemed to recognize as their former companion, Soren, who had perished in an act of heroism some weeks before. Words were exchanged between them that were not of any significance.

There were two doors leading out of the courtyard that would presumably lead us further into the temple. However, the doors were impenetrable, as they, like the beings we had just encountered, were ethereal. On the other side of the courtyard we located an aspisory, filling with holy water, yet never truly filling completely. One by one we tentatively reached our hands into the holy water and to our surprise became ethereal as well. The other consequence of this was that the doors, as well as the spectral figures now seemed solid. At this point I went to examine the chains binding Soren to the large figures. Upon touching the chain the four large figures became hostile and a short clash followed whereupon we emerged victorious without serious injury. In the process Soren was freed from the chains.

We found out from Soren that the creature known as “Omega, has had an undue influence upon the temple, specifically that there are priests here that have been corrupted to its service. Knowing that a group of plunderers had already made it past and that the temple in all likely-hood would not survive much longer we entered the door that the treasure seekers took, while Soren stayed behind. It was quite the sight.

The door opened into a nave filled with thousands upon thousands of trapped souls bound to the will of the one called “Mesegius”. We found much information from these damned beings. A large Djinn, who had crossed the priest to Mesegius, was bound at the far end of the nave. In exchange for three tasks, Jericho, the one who wears the face of our enemy, agreed to free him. It will be interesting to see what consequences follow from this. The easterner called “Taro” disappeared around this time. What he accomplished I cannot say. I will have to watch him closely. I spoke to the souls as well. A more complete report I will present in person, as I do not wish my writings to be discovered by the Senator or his underlings. I did however find that if we agreed to eliminate the treasure seekers the password to the third level will be told to us. I agreed. The password was incomplete though, only the words “Vengeance taken is”. Again, it will be interesting to discover the consequences of this. Through many unnecessarily cryptic and roundabout clues, the honorable Senator found the soul of the builder of the temple. The builder “Dain” bestowed much information on us. The temple was built to house the power of Mesegius. The third level holds a vestiari containing items of great power, while the second level contains a reliquary containing items of lesser power. He also said that the password to the fist level was located behind the altar in the nave and was found to be “blood calls out for vengeance”. At this point, Taro came back from wherever it was he disappeared to and began destroying parts of the nave, perhaps also in an attempt to find the password. Then, probably due to our intrusion, we were confronted by several other ghosts that proved to be hostile. We fought our way out and are now prepared to enter the temple proper. Hopefully I can find a way to send this and I shall continue to record our experiences for the honored Senate.

Long live Solomon,
Chrom

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Jumping the Shark

We board the S.S. Leviathan under Captain Drogal, and make our way under the western sea to the Temple of Messegious. The Captain assures us that it will be an uneventful trip as the Leviathan is the most advanced ship of the line. I must confess that travelling under the water and not on top of it concerns me.

The Captain was correct in that the trip to the temple was uneventful. It’s when we reach the Temple that the shit hits the fan. First the volcano that was supposed to be inactive was spewing ash in great plumes. The magic bubble of protection around the temple had obviously been breached and is now in a weakened state. Not a very auspicious arrival, and then the Sea Serpents attack! I immediately jump into one of the small Attack subs, while Chrom, our erstwhile Praetorian, mans the other. After we reach attack speed we engage the beasts. They are tough bastards as our zeon weapons seem to have little effect on them. A quick change in tactics and we concentrate our fires on one target at a time. Vito and Ophion man the Leviathans main guns. Chrom’s sub takes damage, as a serpent grabs it in its demon spawned tentacles. Vito quietly waits and aims for the unprotected gullet of a beast. His aim is true and the beast shudders and dies. Ophion scores a critical hit killing another. We quickly gang up on the others. The battle over, we survey the damage to our craft. The Leviathan had taken damage, but can make it to the temple. We start to make our way there, when a great cyclopean shark attacks out of the dark! Gods! It’s almost as big as the Leviathan! Its great tooth filled maw closes on the Leviathan. The sound, heightened by the sea, sounds like nails on a chalk board inside a tin can. (GM quote) After scoring a hit on its hide the great white turns to swallow my small craft. Trusting in my ancestors, I hit the accelerator and fly down its gullet. As it closes its mouth, I somehow avoid being bitten in two. I hit the triggers and follow the damage right out its anus. I don’t know if I can ever eat sushi again.

We dock with the Temple of Messegious. Everything is wet and covered in slime. The weakened dome is letting sea water seep in. We do not have much time. We notice that we are not alone as there is another small undersea craft sitting in the courtyard. Its crude structure is obviously not from Solomon. We approach the Demon Gate that guards the entrance into the Temple proper. It informs us that we must answer three riddles before we can be granted access to the Temple. (Not to worry there are no questions about coconut laden swallows.) We easily answer all three riddles as the Demon begs to be released. It seems to have been trapped and bound to the gate for millennia.

The gate opens… if only Soren could be here to help guide us.

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Assault on Ascension: Part 2
Again for the First Time

Following their victory over the Bone Collectors, the Council of Gaia had only one other mission to complete before assaulting the Temple of Mesegius and heading back to their time. They had to attempt to take the Duk’zarist sky keep known as Ascension. More than that, the CoG knew that they must recreate the wards, seals and events to maintain the time line as they knew it, or else Omega would have increased access to Gaia as the time stream fragmented.

Vito, in his role as Senator of Solomon, gave an impassioned speech in the senatorial hall, calling the nation to arms against a hostile and aggressive move by the Duk’zarist. Senator Marcus put up a token resistance, but knew that if they chose, the Council would ruin him, indicting him in Sentor Quinn’s death. Vito was able requisition the necessary troops and received intelligence on several possible outlying allies that would aid in the assault.

The Council raced to the site of Ascension. From their previous (or was it future) knowledge, they knew of the passages that honeycombed the mountain beneath the sky keep. It took weeks for Jericho, Tsura and Vito to craft the circle which would keep them alive when they fell through the ice in the far future, the wards that would heal and repower them, and the strange torches that would light their way. Ophion, Archamus and his legionnaires scouted the paths, and keep the Duk’zarist patrols from discovering the great labor that was underway beneath their very feet.

Meanwhile, under the watchful eyes of Taro and Tetsuro, the Council’s allies crafted the great rune door that would seal these passages behind them, to complete the requirements of their future memories. All the while, they pondered their fate. Were these still their choices, or were all of their action predestined?

As they planned their assault, the thread of dissension ate away at their alliance. Necessary secrecy chafed at their allies, as the Council’s plans were their own for fear of affecting the future. Adding to the tension was the fact that Jericho still wore the face of Solomon’s most feared enemy, Man-Hater Woe. While those closest to the Council knew of his eccentricities, the horrible fact of his decision to wear the face of the dead gnawed like a cancer at the heart of the Alliance. The stress fractures grew too much for this motley crew to handle.

On the eve of the assault, the Turgoth Auxiliary broke and in their fear laden madness attacked the rest of their former associates. The battled flared briefly and was over once the Council could directly intervene, however the damage had been done. Already a chancy plan that relied on the element of surprise, the attack not only stole valuable lives that were required for the mission, but stole the very element the plan needed, as the sounds of combat drifted up to the Duk’zarist workers.

In his anger, Archamus called upon the dark god Mesegius, whose eye still lingered on the Council where her former chosen had existed. She answered his curse of vengeance, and the Turgoth were instantly slain where they stood. Only Tsura, Vito and Taro knew that this path was fated as well, and the Turgoth would arise centuries later as an undead horde to aid in the second taking of Ascension.

Left with little choice, the Alliance made their stand in the courtyard of Ascension. Assailed by Duk’zarist warriors, mages and constructs, the battle was lost from the beginning. But the Council was able to complete the final piece of their elaborate plan to cheat time. Fighting their way to the control room, Vito was able to interface with Ascension’s controls and crashed the sky-keep into the mountain side, condemning the sky-keep to millennia of dereliction, till Matthew Gaul would uncover and free the fortress from its rocky prison.

The sky-keep burned, rocking as it slammed into the cliff-side of its birth. The sounds of the melee reverberated through the halls of Ascension and the smells of fire and death wafted up as well. The carrion birds would feed well tonight. Reaching an escape pod, the Council took one last look around at the sky-keep’s gleaming control room and the beauty of the Duk’zarist design. Gaul would have to cobble together large portions of it to get it up and running again, and as a by-product would ruin the perfect symmetry of the Duk’zarist aesthetic. Saying farewell to the room they would not see again for a thousand years, the escape pod arced out across the dawn sky and slammed into the snow miles away.

Vito’s sky-skiff met them at the agreed upon location, and it was with a heavy heart the Council headed towards Leviathan and the temple that was their way home. So many lives lost, just to preserve the time-line. But this was the duty for which Raphael created the Council of Gaia, to make the hard choices that would save creation. Thousands slaughtered to save millions. A miracle of magi-tech destroyed to save all that preceded and would follow it. The Council’s war was far greater that any single life, creation or moment in time. If they failed in their self-appointed calling they risked far more than death or damnation, they risked oblivion…

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A Serpentine Ally

A deal…a deal and it would all be worth it. Stepping forth from the shadows of time, Ophion joined the group known as the Council of Gaea and delivered the document entrusted to him by the one once known as Raphael — and who had now rejoined the rivers of life, or whatever fate awaited those tainted by the blood of Nephilim.

Regardless, this “Council” seemed to accept his presence with little fanfare after being introduced by the Mistress of the Lantern, Nezumi.

Ophion stood rigid and still, with a serpentine grace belying the true coiled strength beneath his dark, loose clothing. His eyes, filled with a golden light and vertical pupils like the penumbra of a dying sun, surveyed the icy doors that stood before the group. If he understood correctly, the group had tracked some sort of daemons — bone collectors — to this area, by virtue of a tracking device implanted on a VIP’s bodyguards.

They descended through the icy door — its frozen barrier no match for their unyielding strength — and entered the darkness below. The ice and cold radiated from an altar of bone. “Who?” a voice echoed from the shadows, accompanied by the creaking chains of confinement.

A savage encounter with a pair of bone collectors followed, with one bone collector being ground into dust, while the other was banished back to whatever realm it came from. The altar — surrounded by a ring of bones — appeared to be crafted from the remains of Senator Quinn’s body, in a grotesque final service to the mortal realm.

Canvasing the area, the Council determined women in golden masks were responsible for the crude place of worship, and the name “Tyrese” was mentioned. Summoning Senator Tyrese to the home of Vito, a confrontation led to Taro loping off the Senator’s head — but did little to stop his wagging tongue. “i am not a senator,” he declared, his voice hissing like the last cinders of a glorious conflagration. “i am an infernal duke, and shall be shown the proper respect,” he continued, as his body gave a slight bow. “i have been tyrese for many months now — luxuriating in your mortal realm…mmmm. should you wish to know the true source of your problems, however, know that all you need to incriminate marcus is in these documents…” Then the Duke faded into cinders and ash.

The Jurgen Agent Rachel told them they needed to return to their own time as soon as possible, while a Lannet ambassador delivered a mysterious scroll depicting the Emperor of Lannet and, along with him, their once-companion Nicolai holding the time-travel device and crystal.

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The Plot Thinkens

So they did it again. I don’t know when these guys will learn. Two unconscious and we didn’t even have a fight. Seriously. Oh and now a Praetorian shows up. Great, what next! I’ll tell you what next, I see Nozomi Kurayami! With a dark lantern. Seriously! How is that even possible!

Well we are headed to the Corensky estate; apparently that is where the missing guards are. I really hope this leads us to some helpful information.

And it’s not looking good, the City Watch has to open the gate for us, frost is on the hinges and locks, not good. Vito says this is what happens when someone is channeling negative wake. Definitely not good. The Praetorian decides it’s a good idea to open the front door and out comes… a thousand flies. The house resembles the alleyway where what was left of Quinn was found. And to make matters worse there is a cellar door on the end of the house covered in frost. I really don’t want to go down there.

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