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(LMSVI) The Ruptured Shadow: Prologue

by KateHardy


A dark void. So dark that any observer would see nothing. A light hadn’t been spotted here for a thousand years. And without it, the surface of the shadow world had gone unseen for centuries.

That was, until this moment. A tiny flame, flickering so wildly it would suggest there was a wind flowing. flickered to life. It was green, a pale sickly color that looked as dead as the land it illuminated.

It was a light so small that on any other world, it would hardly be given that designation. On this world, it shone brighter than a thousand stars, pinpricks of green illuminating a jagged plain.

The light brightened, the flame solidifying as the flickering began to reduce. The color shifted, starting to look more vibrant, tones of a brilliant emerald-green swirling faster and faster within it. The light shone brighter.

The jagged plain gave up more of its long preserved secrets. Veins of translucent grey running through the surface, flowing to an unknown point. There seemed to be movement down in the veins. Tendrils, blacker than the void that surrounded them, twisting and turning with no recognizable pattern.

The light solidified, the flame shifting smoothly into a beam of light. It was now a brilliant emerald green. Right as the brightness reached its peak, the light split, a jagged crack spreading through the beam as darkness seeped between the light.

The crack widened, the edges smoothing out the wider it got. It expanded until the edges straightened, the gap between the light now several feet in width. A man stepped out from between the light.

He looked out of place in this world. Faded jeans that could’ve been any color, now glowing green in the light, a hoodie that proudly stated, “Dark Lord To Be” and a hat that looked like it was stolen from a pirate costume. He took a few steps forward.

His walk was far more commanding than his attire. It was the walk of someone who had walked slopes more jagged and demanding than even this, one who didn’t even care that they were trampling over shadowy tentacles that had been slumbering for millennia. Behind him, were two more figures.

They blended in better to the environment, almost. One of them was clad in a long robe, only it was white and the tie across the middle suggested it was clearly a bathrobe. The man’s hair was in a long ponytail, and the violent shade of pink was pink enough to shine through the green of the portal they had stepped through.

The other was slightly more dignified, in a long, black trench coat, His face was covered up with a pair of star shaped sunglasses and a more traditional hat, one that did not have cartoon pirate symbols.

The trio began a march, following the translucent membrane like structure. Their portal and its glowing green light followed behind them obediently, slowly illuminating this dark world, one crack at a time.

Their journey did not take long. A mere ten minutes in, the membranes got denser and denser until at one point they appeared to converge, all meeting on one large circle on the ground.

Below it, the movement was the strongest, hundreds of the shadowy tentacles, moving in a dizzying chaos of motion that appeared to have no pattern whatsoever.

Pirate Hat smiled, like he’d just spotted a rich vein of gold. He barked something at the other two who promptly fanned out, the three of them together forming a triangle. A word was uttered by Bathrobe, conjuring a glowing orange ruler that spread between the three, marking out a distance until they were standing equally far apart from each other.

The ruler dissolved into darkness.

There was an audible gulp from Bathrobe and Trench Coat. Pirate Hat barked another order and the two of them brandished a coin each, as Pirate Hat did the same.

Pirate Hat began to chant, his voice echoing across the perfectly silent plains of the shadow world, enveloping it like a harsh wave that engulfs a hapless sinking ship. It cut through the plains like a hot knife through butter, bringing sound to a world that hadn’t heard a single one in centuries.

As he chanted Bathrobe and Trench Coat joined in, their voices adding to the cacophony of sound. The sound rose higher and higher as the spell went on, their voices rising in pitch until by the end it was indistinguishable from a shill shriek in the dark.

Right as they reached their apex, the membrane at the very center suddenly cracked. It was small, barely visible in the light, hardly as wide as a hair.

It seemed to be their goal however, because the chanting ground to an immediate halt, Pirate Hat leaning down to inspect the damage even as Bathrobe and Trench Coat leapt away from it.

Pirate Hat outlined the little crack, watching as the tentacles down below suddenly changed their tune. The chaos seemed to shift and swirl, and the shadows that had meandered suddenly had a pattern, all the tendrils yearning and twisting toward one tiny spot.

The rupture in the membrane.

Pirate Hat smiled, a genuine smile that seemed too pure for a land like this. He gestured towards the other two, before doing what appeared to be some sort of contorted victory dance, jumping up and throwing his hands in the air as he did a spin.

Bathrobe and Trench Coat exchanged a look that suggested this was not an uncommon occurrence as she they shrugged and moved towards the portal. They stepped through, never turning back as they dissolved into the shadow at the center of the light.

There was a loud “harrumph” from Pirate Hat who gave a disappointed look in the direction of the portal as he finally stopped his victory dance. He turned to blow a kiss in the direction of the shadow, muttering something under his breath.

He turned, storming towards the portal. He swung an arm behind his back like he was swishing a cape before he stopped, kicking the ground and muttering a curse. Muttering something under his breath, he stepped through the portal, looking less like the experienced dark lord to be and more like a petulant child.

The portal began to close as slowly as it had opened, the horizontal door, turning jagged and cracklike, and the light starting to dim, the color paling. Soon, it was back to the sickly green flicker, before it went out altogether.

It was a dark void once again, the silence restored to a world previously undisturbed for millennia. And then.

A crack.


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Sat Feb 18, 2023 9:30 pm
dragonight9 wrote a review...



Cool story.

I'm new here, what does LMSVI stand for? or is it LMS 6?

I really liked the description in this story. It definitely gave off a cosmic scale at the start which was nicely contrasted by the visitors to the void.

It also made me think how, when you are truly powerful, you have no need for 'style'.
You could be wearing the silliest costume and still be intimidating so long as you have that unconcerned aura.

Most stories I review I always point out spelling mistakes and grammar stuff but I only noticed one thing like that while I was reading and couldn't find it on a second scan through so it's negligible. Good job on that.

This also has a real prologue feel to it with the way this dark power was set up and the curiosity of what these people were doing with the dark membrane/tentacles. It almost seemed like if was the future dark lord's pet/plant he was raising. Helping it grow stronger by pruning it or feeding it. Likely whatever it is, this thing is how/why he becomes a dark lord.

You presented all these things clearly without any exposition and the story never lost the anticipation it had at the start. Overall, great prologue. I'm interested to see where this goes




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Sun Sep 11, 2022 2:46 am
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Ventomology wrote a review...



Hi LSS buddy!!! Let's do this thing, huh?

It's always an interesting choice when writers decide to include prologues. I'm personally not a fan of them, but I think you pulled this one off pretty well! Like Lim said, you do a really great job of setting up actions and themes that will come back later in some way-either by way of us seeing the repercussions, or because the leitmotif will pop back up somewhere else. I'm excited to see what this crack in the membrane of this mysterious world will unleash, and excited to find out the motivation of the people who created the crack. I think the whole purpose of a prologue is to set up a situation that might be too disparate from the story's primary premise/time frame to work without heavy foreshadowing, and though I haven't seen chapter one yet, I suspect you've accomplished this.

(I would... maybe not use the word crack? Unless you intend to include some really fantastic, Douglas Adams-esque potty humor. Actually, I strongly encourage you to use the word crack.)

My biggest critique for you, same as with Lim and Hunter, is that your descriptions are a little lacking--not that you don't have enough, because I actually think you have plenty--but that you could pick much stronger verbs.

There's a lot of 'was' and 'were' and 'began', and these verbs just don't really tell us anything. They're neutral, so to convey all the tone and ambience and energy that you seem to want to convey, you have to make up for it with a lot more adjectives and nouns and comparisons that bog down your writing and make it so you have to repeat things more often.

Take, for instance, these paragraphs:

...One of them was clad in a long robe, only it was white and the tie across the middle suggested it was clearly a bathrobe. The man’s hair was in a long ponytail, and the violent shade of pink was pink enough to shine through the green of the portal they had stepped through.

The other was slightly more dignified, in a long, black trench coat, His face was covered up with a pair of star shaped sunglasses and a more traditional hat, one that did not have cartoon pirate symbols.


Basically every sentence here uses 'was' as its primary verb. Even the halves of compound sentences each use 'was'! This is a great opportunity to change things up--even just using 'wore' could make a difference. You could try something like this:

...One of them wore a long, white robe that tied at the waist and looked suspiciously like a bathrobe. His violently pink hair cut through the green light around him, the color combination glowing like radioactive Christmas decor.

The other was slightly more dignified in a long, black trench coat. A pair of star shaped sunglasses hid his eyes...


And then... something about his hat, which was not described in precise enough detail for me to extrapolate any real information for this exercise.

But anyway--while it's not a problem to stick a 'was' in there on occasion (I kept one of them even! It worked well for the transition), you can get significantly more mileage out of your words if you use verbs that add personality or connotation to a description. I often use them in place of adverbs with my adjectives, since they give some serious oomph when picked well.

Last thing. I know this is a third-person narrator who knows nothing about the machinations of the three people described, but I miss all the thinking that you have when you write for Luna. I'm excited to get into the head of whoever your main character is!

Until next time,
-Vento




KateHardy says...


Thank youu for the review!!

Yeah this little incident is a little bit of background to something that won't come into being for a while in the main storyline :)

I will work on those descriptions :)

And the chapters will have lots of thinking :D



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Sat Sep 10, 2022 11:55 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there Harry!

First Impressions
This chapter leaves me wanting more! I feel excited to see the next one and find out what that second “crack” might be. I like how even though there was no dialogue in this chapter, it still felt like the characters were having some kind of conversation and I could get a sense of their personalities. Pirate Hat seems especially affable and interesting, especially since he’s supposed to be a “dark lord”.

Setting & World
This story certainly looks like it takes place in a sci-fi setting, and also one where there are multiple dimensions/ worlds involved. I like how you’ve shown that throughout the chapter without needing to do a lot of exposition, as that made it easier to immerse myself into the story.

On this world, it shone brighter than a thousand stars, pinpricks of green illuminating a jagged plain.

The opening in general helped me understand the significance of this light for whoever inhabits this place, even though I’m sitting in my own rather well-lit world. Reading this also makes me think that light/dark are going to be important to the story in some way, and also makes this location memorable – even though it has not been named yet.
The crack widened, the edges smoothing out the wider it got. It expanded until the edges straightened, the gap between the light now several feet in width. A man stepped out from between the light.

I like that you show how the portals/ teleportation ‘work’ just enough so that I can understand the flow of the scene and know that the characters are basically dropping in to do that one thing and leave.
Right as they reached their apex, the membrane at the very center suddenly cracked. It was small, barely visible in the light, hardly as wide as a hair.
It seemed to be their goal however, because the chanting ground to an immediate halt, Pirate Hat leaning down to inspect the damage even as Bathrobe and Trench Coat leapt away from it.

These paragraphs were also really good in ‘showing not telling’ the features of the world. From this I can know there’s something supernatural happening in this prologue and that it revolves around this shadowy creature that the three characters seem to have awakened/ activated.

Descriptions
Something that could maybe be worked on is some repetitiveness in the descriptions. For example:
The light brightened, the flame solidifying as the flickering began to reduce. The color shifted, starting to look more vibrant, tones of a brilliant emerald-green swirling faster and faster within it. The light shone brighter.

Sentences that keep starting with “the” and “a” could be mixed up a little bit more. I think that would help make the rhythm of the writing feel more exciting.
The jagged plain gave up more of its long preserved secrets. Veins of translucent grey running through the surface, flowing to an unknown point. There seemed to be movement down in the veins. Tendrils, blacker than the void that surrounded them, twisting and turning with no recognizable pattern.

For instance, this paragraph stood out to me the most for its descriptions. Each sentence seems to start a different way and it also uses a bunch of different techniques blended well together. There are some high-key images like the “jagged plain gave up . . . “ that make the location seem like a person with a distinctive character, and these are balanced with low-key images like “movement down in the veins” and “veins of translucent grey” which give me concrete images to hold onto.


Characters
I thought the character descriptions and outfits made each distinct and memorable.
He looked out of place in this world. Faded jeans that could’ve been any color, now glowing green in the light, a hoodie that proudly stated, “Dark Lord To Be” and a hat that looked like it was stolen from a pirate costume. He took a few steps forward.

Reading them made me smile! I love the juxtaposition between how ‘silly’ the characters look in comparison to the desolate world and the eldritch tendrils, which seems to hint at their true nature being not as silly as they look, adding even more layers :D

Overall
This seems to be the start of a really interesting story. I wonder if the figures described here are the antagonists (they might be!) or the protagonists. I’m keen on seeing what Pirate Hat is up to and what exactly the three of them have unleashed on the universe.

Hope some of this helps and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim




KateHardy says...


Thank youu for the review!!

I will try and remember these things for the chapters to come!

And these are the antagonists



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Thu Sep 08, 2022 6:20 pm
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BrumalHunter wrote a review...



Salutations, Harry!

If I'd waited two more days, this would literally have been my first review in a year! I don't think I'm too rusty, but I nevertheless hope you find this review to be of some use. I'll focus on technical aspects, as that's where my strength lies, but I'll try to include big-picture comments too, since people tend to prefer those. I'll also leave my impressions at the end.



A dark void. So dark that any observer would see nothing.

Not a great start, to be honest. It lacks impact, but also… that's the definition of a void? Space is a void/vacuum because there's no light, sound, or air between astral bodies. So, yeah, a void is dark by nature. I'm not sure how I would recommend improving on this, but you definitely want it to be more gripping.


A light hadn’t been spotted here for a thousand years. And without it, the surface of the shadow world had gone unseen for centuries.

This is an issue that I see throughout the work, and it starts here already: repetitiveness. You just used two sentences to say "it's dark", and then you used two more to say "no light had been seen here in a long time", which kind of says the same thing as just "it's dark".

Your choice of words here also feels a bit clumsy. If I had to guess, I'd wager you said "spotted" because you don't want to repeat "seen" between the two sentences, but the phrasing is a lot more passive. You want to make your novel start as actively as possible.

Final note here, how do we know the surface has gone unseen for centuries? How do we know it's ever been seen at all? You don't convey later in this chapter that there used to be life here, so you might as well not have suggested it at all. I think that would make the world more mysterious and alien, which is clearly what you were aiming it to be.


That was, until this moment.

You can cut the first clause, as it just slows down the flow. Short sentences drive up the flow and tension, which is generally better when you're writing descriptions like these. (If it's too slow, the reader will get bored. And since this is the very start, people might drop it already.) Furthermore, "was" and "this" conflict in tense; don't mix past and present. Cutting "That was" removes the problem completely, even if you do end up using "until this moment", which is technically still in the wrong tense (the mistake is common enough that many readers won't even consider it one).


A tiny flame, flickering so wildly it would suggest there was a wind flowing. flickered to life.

Using a derivative of "flicker" twice is a bit rough. And I get why you say there's no wind — you're trying to keep the internal logic consistent, as you called the place a void — but it still slows down the flow. Also, there's a full stop instead of a comma.


It was green, a pale sickly color that looked as dead as the land it illuminated.

A flame flickering wildly isn't typically what a "dead" flame looks like, regardless of its colour. You might also, in future descriptions, want to avoid the passive "X was" by using a stronger verb. "It shone/glowed a pale, sickly green" has greater weight, and I can't stress how important a strong impact is for the start of any story.


It was a light so small that on any other world, it would hardly be given that designation.

Actually, light is light, regardless of intensity. This world can't be deader than Pluto, for instance, where a light like this would still be called a light. "Designation" also feels a bit verbose compared to everything else you've written so far.


On this world, it shone brighter than a thousand stars, pinpricks of green illuminating a jagged plain.

If it's bright enough to illuminate an entire plain — which I've seen no candle ever do — is it really as insignificant as you make it seem? And wouldn't it be a pinprick, singular, if it's only one flame?


The light brightened, the flame solidifying as the flickering began to reduce.

Disclaimer: at no point in this review, no matter what I say, is my intent to insult or belittle your work; when I say this sentence is bad, that's all I'm saying. I'm not questioning your skill as a writer or saying this work is trash. This sentence is bad (and I think you can do better) for the following reasons:
• Fire doesn't solidify, full stop.
• Saying the light brightens and the flame becomes more substantial is repeating the same thing with no gain.
• Saying the flickering reduces actually makes it seem like the flame is dying, not becoming stronger, as opposed to the flickering stabilising or the like.
• You also said "began to reduce", which is unnecessarily wordy. Just say it reduced.

The sentence is doubly repetitive, passive, and even a bit confusing. It's bad, so I would use this as a reminder of what not to do. When you're rereading your work, or even as you're writing it, keep points like these in mind so you can bolster the quality of your prose on the first draft already.


The color shifted, starting to look more vibrant, tones of a brilliant emerald-green swirling faster and faster within it.

Since I'm still only four paragraphs in, I think I'll soon wrap up my technical analyses of your sentences, as I believe I've given you enough to consider already. Here, it's the same theme of unnecessary repetition and too many words making the sentence slow and kind of boring. Compare how "The flame swirled faster and shifted to a vibrant emerald" says all the same things, but in half as many words.


The light shone brighter.

To salvage this sentence at all, you'd have to say it "shone brighter still", since you already said at the start of the paragraph that the light brightened. However, just throw this away. It adds nothing.


The jagged plain gave up more of its long preserved secrets. Veins of translucent grey running through the surface, flowing to an unknown point. There seemed to be movement down in the veins. Tendrils, blacker than the void that surrounded them, twisting and turning with no recognizable pattern.

The flame appearing was interesting, but the description soon became tedious. This is far more interesting, so cutting out the preceding fluff will let your reader reach it so much faster, which is better for keeping their attention. You still use too many words, but the imagery becomes mildly more striking. I like "veins of translucent grey".


The light solidified, the flame shifting smoothly into a beam of light. It was now a brilliant emerald green. Right as the brightness reached its peak, the light split, a jagged crack spreading through the beam as darkness seeped between the light.

Okay, here, saying the fire solidifies into a beam of light is actually justified. But because you already used "solidified", the reader might instead think, "Yeah, you said that already," when they first read this. And you definitely already called it "a briliant emerald green", except this time without the hyphen. Repetition like these will kill your writing quality, so check for them.

The description of the cracking and splitting needs more work. Just because the beam splits, for instance, doesn't mean the gaps become dark. Especially when the light supposedly just reached its peak. (What does that even mean? Is it fully saturated? Is it basically white now?)


The crack widened, the edges smoothing out the wider it got. It expanded until the edges straightened, the gap between the light now several feet in width. A man stepped out from between the light.

I honestly have trouble even visualising this. The last sentence provides the clarity at which my mind grasps, so focus on that and reduce the rest. Readers won't care as much about the manner in which a beam of light splits as they will about a dude stepping out of it.


He looked out of place in this world. Faded jeans that could’ve been any color, now glowing green in the light, a hoodie that proudly stated, “Dark Lord To Be” and a hat that looked like it was stolen from a pirate costume. He took a few steps forward.

Starting here, the prologue begins to experience tonal dissonance. It seems like you're joking or poking fun at the characters, and yet the overall narration still takes the scene very seriously. I'm not fully sure how I'd address this, but you need to choose a tone and stick with it.

Actually, you could address this issue by avoiding colloquial terms. Even just changing the description of something like "faded jeans" to "trousers of faded denim" sounds more detached and clinical, like how you've been describing the world up to that point. The same goes for "hoodie" and "pirate costume".

That last sentence, by the way, again adds nothing.


His walk was far more commanding than his attire. It was the walk of someone who had walked slopes more jagged and demanding than even this, one who didn’t even care that they were trampling over shadowy tentacles that had been slumbering for millennia. Behind him, were two more figures.

You're telling us how we're supposed to interpret his walk, rather than just telling us how he walks and letting us make the interpretation ourselves. He could swagger with relaxed shoulders, which shows the zero shits he gives, or he could stride with impeccable footing and unwavering confidence. And didn't you say the world had gone unseen for centuries? Nobody's keeping time here but you, so centuries or millennia don't make a difference, except to make the timespan seem inconsistent.



All right, I think that's enough of that. This review already took a while, and going line-by-line for the entire thing would take at least another hour. I believe I've also given you enough specific examples for you to reliably apply the advice to the rest of the prologue and anything else you write!

My impression of the prologue as a whole is that the trio seems to know what they're doing, and they obviously have context that we don't, but we're not given much reason to care about anything that's happened here. Like… some oddly dressed dudes appear on an alien world, make a crack in some tendrilly shadows (or a membrane or whatever — it's not entirely clear), and then leave the same way they arrived. We don't get any dialogue, so while there is some characterisation, it's not enough to make the reader like or dislike anyone. We're just reading about a weird occurrence on an equally weird planet-thing somewhere. There's potential, but strangeness alone isn't enough to convince readers to keep reading.

I'd say consistency is something on which you could work, because after I've read all of this, some moments of what TV Tropes calls "fridge logic" start popping up. You described the world as a void. Then how are the three dudes able to breathe or speak? I presume the portal beam provides all the light they need to see, but is it giving off heat? If there are only stars and no sun, what keeps the place warm enough for them to not start freezing immediately? If you think the tundra on Earth is cold, realise that empty space is colder. And what exactly is the membrane they cracked? You'd mentioned translucent veins and black tendrils at the start, but no membranes.

Because of the very detached narration, we don't get a thorough feeling of what this alien world is like. Despite your numerous references to colour, we don't know what colour the ground actually is. We also don't know its texture. Is the entire world's surface membranous, or is it only the parts you called veins? Is the rest just jagged stone, or is there sand and/or gravel as well? You don't even need to expand too much on that, since this is a prologue, but if you cut the repetitive lines, you'll find you suddenly have a lot more space for extra details.

A final note when it comes to colour, just for future reference, is that it pays to describe the skin colour of your characters. Even if they're all the same race/ethnicity, expliciting stating one has skin like polished ivory, another like burnished bronze, and another has a faded tan, for example, makes it easier to visualise them. It also removes the issue of having the reader assume things.



You're off to a decent start for LMS VI! You submitted before the halfway mark of the week, so I hope you can keep that up! Speaking from experience, it'll keep you in the competition much longer. I also hope this gives you enough time to digest the critiques I've given you so you can apply them in your chapters going forward.

I can't promise that I'll have time to keep reviewing this, but I nevertheless wish you luck! Let's maintain our good momentum.

~Hunter




KateHardy says...


Thank youu for the review!!

There are too many questions here for me to be answering one by one now xD But I will make sure to keep these in mind for later!

I probably made a mistake making the prologue go with the narrator and the mysterious path because the story itself is going to contrast so heavily with that. That's probably where the conflict in tone comes from, because the more informal tone is what I normally use and I have trouble escaping that.

Thanks for all the details on the sentences :) I will try to remember those! I am really bad with descriptions and that padding is something I do too often! Also the science critique is killing me on the inside because science is what I do in life and I know those things are wrong but I did this anyway for effect xD I will try to be better about that.

Ummm, I think seeing this I probably skimped on too many details, but I will say most of these questions do have answers, I just didn't think most of them would matter too much because like with how they're walking around normally on this world. I sort of based it on the details I would care about if I was reading it as a story and chopped the rest cause I thought it'd get boring. But then it did get boring anyway, so that backfired :D

Anyway, sorry for the long rambly reply, it is like 4am and brain is not at its best. Thank you again for the review!! This was really helpful! I can't promise all of this is going to get addressed in the next few chapters but I will be rereading this review a few times in the weeks to come :)

And thank youu!! Good luck to you too!!



BrumalHunter says...


No worries! As long as my review is of any help, even if it's just one comment, I'm happy. (Although, if it had been just one comment, I wouldn't have left you a very good review! XD)

Yeah, I think going with an informal one would probably have been best. And if that would have let your characters interact via dialogue, even more so!

I'm glad the dissections of the sentences, hehe, help you understand the descriptions better! If you do it often and you're aware, that's good, because it takes you one step closer to ditching that bad habit. Writing this as you would like to read it is a good idea, but in that case, the ideal would have been to leave it for a week and then come back to see what your fresh eyes and mind think of it. Sadly, we don't have that luxury, so for now, it's better to err on the side of caution. Better to include slightly too much detail than slightly too little.

Again, no worries about your reply; I think it's perfectly fine. As I said, I want my reviews to be useful. So, good luck with the coming chapters!



KateHardy says...


Thank you again! :)




I know where the wall goes.
— Creed, the Office