[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Rayguns #11

by Kalman Farago
Anadyomai

Anadyomai


[Note: references are made to a place called Exillion, and a number of things encountered therein. This happened before I started writing this journal. For a basic idea, read Melan's adventure module Systema Tartarobasis, available as a free download from www.treasuretables.org.]

We’re standing on a small mound, surrounded by the tall, densely huddled buildings of a city. The walls are scorched, many structures are partially or entirely collapsed, and everywhere we see luminous discolourations of the rocky ground. In all directions, the city is surrounded by tall pillars and fields of energy coursing between them. In one direction, there’s a hill with some sort of citadel on it about a kilometer off. Barely ten yards away from us we spy a small group of toga-wearing people staring back at us in surprise.

Once we assure them of our friendly intentions, they calm down but remain curious.We explain we were transported here by some magical accident. They don’t seem to understand the concept of magic, but they seem to accept the accident part. The most talkative of the group is a young man called Akakhios. The rest include Demostratos, a spear-wielding local soldier, two young ladies, one of whom is called Eunikhe, and a black-togaed man called Diokles.

We ask them where we ended up, and they tell us the city is called Anadyomai — a place none of us ever heard of. After some questions we establish the place to be far to the west of the Sea of Emerald Idols, somewhere on the mainland. Strangely, these pleasant people seem to have a completely different understanding of geography. The Sea they’ve heard of, but such major cities as Pentastadion or Glourm are completely unknown to them. They do seem to quickly assume we’re from „Fomalhaut I”, though, as evidenced by our clothes. So far we thought we’re from „Fomalhaut the only”, but they surely know better.

Demostratos and Akakhios offer to take us to the citadel of Akros to meet the twelve sages who control the city in the Archon’s absence; maybe they can help us find our way home. On the way, our guides lead us up to a promontory and we look at the land beyond the energy walls called the Periphery. At first glance we only see dead but rainbowy, colourful rock, but then we spot movement among the patches of colour: an army of uncountable thousands, human-shaped but made of spectral light rather than flesh and bone. As Akakhios explain, they are the Enemy: no one knows where they came from, but this is their third siege in the last few decades. Praised be Mesomakhos Archon for rebuilding the dilapidated Periphery after the first, non-violent encounter!

Mesomakhos? We recognise the name: Mesomakhos was the ancient founder of Khonón — and of course we’ve just come from there –, but this man talks about him as a contemporary! Did we travel into the ancient past?

Be that as it may, the Enemy launches a small and futile assault, a regular event apparently. A large group of them marches up to the Periphery and throws itself against the energy wall, disintegrating upon contact. We are explained that Mesomakhos has left the city to bring help, and the twelve sages, led by Archaioras, are administaring the place in his stead — even though there’s not that much need for administration, since „tradition and politeness are perfectly sufficient guides in life”, as Akakhios explains. He does let it slip that one of the sages, one Monodes, disagrees with the council’s decision to hew to Mesomakhos’ instructions and just patiently wait for the relief; and that more and more people are starting to agree with him.

The Map of the City


As we walk towards the citadel, we go past a sturdy stone archway holding up a large boulder, likely some rubble after a previous attack. Suddenly, the boulder tips over and falls into the middle of the group, hitting Gwyddion squarely in the back, but causing no crippling injury. Looking up, Licar spots a black-clothed man diving through a door. An assassin, but who and why? Reacting rapidly, Licar casts a spell and levitates up to the doorway, rushing after the assailant. As he steps into the dark room, a laser beam shoots in the shoulder, then the attacker retreats while the wizard recovers. Meanwhile, Devadatta climbs up the wall and enters through an upstairs window, while Gwyddion (after getting freed from under the boulder) and Tyraxus enter through a street entrance. A brief chase ensues without us catching sight of the attacker, but he knows the layout of the building much better and gives us the slip.

We return to the dismayed Demostratos and Akakhios. They agree that we should hurry on to the council, who should learn of this attack. As we move on, we can’t help but notice that black seems to be a rare colour around here — and, in fact, Diokles has disappeared shortly after our arrival. When pressed about this, our guides come to realise that neither of them really knows Diokles, and in fact they don’t even recall ever seeing him until recently. There’s certainly a sinister mystery here.

We reach the citadel of Akros, and are led into a great, dusty waiting hall amidst apologies for the current state of affairs — cleaning is not a high priority with the Enemy’s constant bombardments with Colour Bombs. We’ve seen some ourselves, on the way, some sort of warhead drawing a beam of light after itself as if it was a condense trail, impacting on the energy wall and making it ripple. While our guides go to see the council, we’re asked to stay here. We look around and find not one, but several unsettling mysteries within the four walls of this very hall. Along one side stand four pillars, each with a word carved into it: „Mesomakhos”, „Exillion”, „Morreion”, „Solon STA”. Exillion, the long-ruined, degenerate subterranean techno-hell we’ve barely escaped from in the past? Morreion, the mysterious entity Licar is seeking? What’s happening here?

Along another wall, there’s a large alcove holding what looks like an abstract, vaguely archway-like construction. Gwyddion walks closer to investigate, and his breath is taken away by the word written on the structure: „URANOMETAFORA”. A machine, a way of travelling great distances, identical to the one the party used to escape from Exillion! In a corner of the hall which the guards can’t see from their post, there are two doors, dusty and obviously unused. Licar investigates: one is a storeroom with nothing interesting in it, and the other… is the control room for the Uranometafora. Licar looks at the controls, and says he could set it to the same setting we used to escape from Exillion. However, since there’s no guarantee that the neglected thing was even in working condition (though it looks intact from the outside), and since we’ve taken a liking to these polite and lamentably besieged people, we decide to stay around for a while and see if we can help the locals.

Hall of Columns


Eventually, we’re summoned by the council. We explain our arrival best as we can, and offer our aid in defending the city, as well as in tracking down the mysterious assassin. Since the council is obviously surprised at our recent arrival into the city, we offer to withdraw for the night so they can decide what to do with us. They agree, and let us keep Demostratos and Akakhios around as guides. With some time to kill, they offer to show us the sights — there are quite a few sculptures and artistic buildings around, and the Periphery should keep us safe from the intermittent bombardments. We inquire about the writing on the pillars, and they explain as best as they can: Mesomakhos refers to the very first archon of the city, the one whose name all later archons adopt. Exillion is another city of some sort, very, very far away, apparently (we don’t tell our guides we know the place a whole lot better than they do). Morreion is… Akakhios and Demostratos are not quite sure. Something from ancient history with no practical relevance. An aesthetic principle, perhaps? And Solon STA, of course, refers to the first colony founded by Solon, Systema Tartarobasis Alpha. So… there are several Systema Tartarobases, good to know.

Since both Gwyddion and Licar are wounded, we decide to go see something called the Regenerator next, a device that can apparently heal us. As we head towards the building housing it, a laser shot rings our from up ahead, hitting Akakhios. We spot another black-clad man standing on top of a building, his sights trained at us. Gwyddion and Devadatta charge, while Licar turns invisible and flies toward the hostile. As we rush forward, a second shot blasts us from aside, fired by a second attacker on another roofftop. Gwyddion is seriously hit, so he retreats into cover to perform first aid on himself and Akakhios — but the young lad was immediately killed by a shot to the head. A few seconds later Licar reaches the first attacked and subdues him with a Paralysation spell, ties him up, and finds a black metal medallion with an insignia that looks vaguely like a letter T. Since it’s daytime and the streets are populated, the passersby panic after the first few shots, and the second assassin retreats. Someone really wants us dead! We hurry to the Regenerator. The device looks like an electric chair. Gwyddion is strapped in first, and after twenty minutes of humming machinery he feels a lot better. While the others take their turns, the party discusses the situation. If we’re in the past, then this place must have been destroyed long ago (for our own time). We have the feeling that it was probably the council’s refusal to evacuate or take any sort of action that „historically” go them killed. Maybe if we talked to the dissenter councilman Monodes, he might be able to help us.

Then it occurs to someone to take a closer look at the medallion with the T-shaped sigil, and Tyraxus suddenly remembers seeing a similar one — on Monodes himself! Looks like it’s Monodes’ henchmen who are trying to do us in. Gwyddion concocts a new plan: let’s arrange for a private meeting with Monodes, confront him, and make him tell us what it is he really wants. Gwyddion suspects that maybe his original assumption was wrong: „historically”, Anadyomai was perhaps destroyed not by the council’s inaction, but because of Monodes’ sabotage… but why would he want to do this?

As we deliberate, we hear a deafening explosion from outside. The building shakes as debris falls from the ceiling. From outside, we hear an electric whine rise and die as the Periphery is breached by a colour bomb — swirling hues enveloping all within the city — there’s a flash, and…

…We’re standing on a small mound, surrounded by the tall, densely huddled buildings of a city. The walls are scorched, many structures are partially or entirely collapsed, and everywhere we see luminous discolourations of the rocky ground. In all directions, the city is surrounded by tall pillars and fields of energy coursing between them. In one direction, there’s a hill with some sort of citadel on it about a kilometer off. Barely ten yards away from us we spy a small group of toga-wearing people staring back at us in surprise…

This is Anadyomai… again. Everything looks exactly as it was when we arrived, with a difference: black-togaed Diocles, one of our suspected assailants, is nowhere in sight. The others are all here, including Akakhios, and they seem to have no memory of what just happened. It looks like we zipped back in time about four hours or so just as the city’s defenses came down. How? Why? We do notice that we didn’t revert back to our earlier state — our fresh wounds are still present, and our already cast spells have failed to rematerialise in the wizards’ memories.

This time, Gwyddion seizes the initiative and tries another approach. If this time travel is to repeat, we should be quick in doing…. whatever it is we’ll end up doing. No time for schemes and plans. „We have been sent by Mesomakhos!” — he bellows. „We are the aid Mesomakhos sent! There is no time to lose, take us to the Akron immediately!”

Well, that certainly had a speedy effect. „Mesomakhos! Mesomakhos has returned! We are saved!” — the shouts go up, quickly spreading from our clearing into the more populated areas of the city. Before we could get properly underway, a small but enthusiastic crowd has gathered. Not a bad thing altogether, maybe the assassins won’t try anything this time, not with all the people around.

As we head for the citadel, we hear the sound of a horn coming from that direction — strange, we’re certain there was nothing of the sort the first time around! Maybe things will play out with some variations? Shortly after, one member of the party points ahead in dismay: inside a half collapsed, dome-like pavillion built on a rooftop up ahead, there’s a man in black toga, a laser gun in his hand. Not this, we can’t properly deal with this… We could take him out easily with our magic, but we need to be mindful of the crowd. Right now, they hail us as saviours on nothing more than desperate hopes and Gwyddion’s quick-talking. If we start blowing things up, all that might turn into panic and the assumption that we are in fact agents of the Enemy come to sabotage the defenses. We decide to make a run for it and try to evade the sniper. We get away, but they fire a shot at Devadatta. They hit the pilgrim, but his magical bracers protect him from taking damage, and he offers a rude gesture to the shooters by way of a retort. Surprised, one of the assassins shouts „get the Control Group!”, and they withdraw into the building. As we climb up the stairs leading to the hill on which the citadel stands, we see two more snipers in a nearby tower. They’re as yet unaware of us, but we can’t get to the entrance without them noticing. At this point, Licar decides to resort to greater force, and pulls out his wand of lightning. A blast from it fries the assassins, bounces off the inside of the tower’s roof and breaks off a chunk of the masonry, propelling the snipers into the crowd below. Confusion erupts, but we’re just outside the Akron, and our date is with the council, not the people on the street.

We storm in, Gwyddion in his heavy metal armour and black cloak in the lead, striding at speed while booming about the arrival of the relief and brushing past the astonished guards into the council chamber. Once there, he takes the medallion taken from the assassin in the previous „time loop” and throws it on the table. „Behold the sigil of the betrayers!” (By the way, that was Devadatta’s suggestion.)

Deadly silence reigns in the room. The councillors immediately recognise the sigil as identical to the one worn by Monodes, but — having no memories of our previous meet — they have no idea what this whole betrayal thing is. That’s all right, we certainly have their undivided attention, and that’s good enough for now. We explain that we’ve been sent by Mesomakhos. We explain that the city is doomed to fall when the bombardment will overload the Megaspheras (the things powering the Perimeter, as we earlier learned); but there’s a way out. As Gwyddion declares this, a whining electrical sound starts up in the council room’s waiting hall as a bright light appears — Licar invisibly entered the Uranometafora’s control chamber and has started powering it up. „Behold, what you thought was a useless sculpture is in fact the portal of evacuation, placed here by the very first Mesomakhos for future emergencies!” — Gwyddion grabs onto the new spectacle. „Mesomakhos the 36th (the latest one, we learned) has sent us back with this information and the order to flee through it into safety!”

The Uranometafora


The council is still confused, but we’ve shocked them into compliance. With the help of a few soldiers, we start lining up the crowd in the hall as Licar works the controls in the next room. Thinking on their feet, Devadatta and Tyraxus add that Mesomakhos also ordered the evacuation of certain books from the city’s half-collapsed library, namely any material on Morreion, Exillion, the Systema Tartarobases, and demonology (the last being a last-moment addition on a spur). The two adventurers accompany a scared clerk into the archives, but return disappointed. In the chaos of the evacuation, the disorderliness thanks to the siege and the loss of many writings to an old bomb hit, the only thing they find is a box containing to scroll holders, bearing a label that relates it to the Systema Tartarobases.

Meanwhile, even as the colour bombs impact on the Periphery, the machine powers up fully, and the first people start stepping through it… and appearing on the shining portal’s other side, still in the hall. It’s not working. Licar quickly checks the settings, and he’s positive they’re identical to what we used on our flight out of Exillion. As the councilors start getting restless (and even more confused), we decide to scan through the recovered library scrolls, maybe they contain some coordinates or instructions. The scroll holders, however, are empty. And Monodes is smiling bitterly.

„Monodes, we know you’re behind this, and we know you knew of the Uranometafora’s true purpose all along! Tell us why it isn’t working!”
„Well, that’s simple”
— he smiles. „It’s working, but it is unable to transport anything or anyone out of Anadyomai… as long as the Periphery stands.”
Well, we could have thought of that.
„Then tell us how to turn it off. The city is doomed, and this is the only way to save at least some of the people!”
„And behold!”
— he turns to the other councilors — „the Enemy reveals itself. This was their purpose all along, to disable the Periphery and allow their troops to enter. But me, and my men the Teloi, have prepared for this possibility. We will continue to follow the orders of Mesomakhos and hold the city until his return!”

Desperate, our wizards try to cast Charm Person on him to get him to speak, but he makes both saves; and Licar (or rather his player) frowns: „Oh, fuck this! I polymorph him into a frog.”

OOC: „No, don’t, that’s really not help…”
Melan: „Too late. Monodes looks around with surprise on his fate, shivers and twists, and turns into a small animal. And in the next moment, you hear a low humming from the outside, followed by a huge explosion, and…”

…We’re standing on a small mound, surrounded by the tall, densely huddled buildings of a city. The walls are scorched, many structures are partially or entirely collapsed, and everywhere we see luminous discolourations of the rocky ground. In all directions, the city is surrounded by tall pillars and fields of energy coursing between them. In one direction, there’s a hill with some sort of citadel on it about a kilometer off. Barely ten yards away from us we spy a small group of toga-wearing people staring back at us in surprise.

… Diokles is absent again, and a few seconds after our arrival a new, different horn call is heard from the Akros. And since we don’t revert into our earlier states, we’re running really low on spells. We quickly decide to try a similar, but modified approach: Licar has a copy of the text Mesomakhos has graven into a monument near Khonón, the city he founded, apparently after leaving Anadiomai and never returning. Maybe if we showed it to the council, they’d recognise it and accept us as genuine helpers. (Personally, I had some doubts about it, but you’ll see what transpired soon.) Oh, and by this time, we noticed that whenever the locals referred to the present year, they always said 2010, a date a good two millenia before 3987, our „present” time. Looks like we ARE in the past…

We claim to be the men Mesomakhos sent (again), but this time immediately tell the people around us to keep the shouting and celebration down because the city is in dire peril and not a moment can be wasted. We make our way for the Akros, and as we start climbing the stairs cut into the hillside, two black-togaed Teloi appear from the direction of the citadel. „Monodes’ murderers! They will not escape!” — they shout and turn tail, disappearing out of sight. „Monodes’ murderers”? If everything just got reset, how could he have died? On one hand, this might be good for us, since he won’t be around the spoil our evacuation plans, and the other councillors are easily dominated into compliance. On the other, if the Teloi believe we’re the murderers (Demostratos and the other locals around us have absolutely no idea what this is all about), we’ll have a hard time getting to the council.

We press on, but an explosion booms, and one of the towers overlooking the stairs collapses, filling the path with rubble. Getting through here would be slow and tough, and we would be exposed to enemy fire. Poor confused Demostratos tells us there’s a colllapsed building nearby which was built into the hillside, and we might climb up there more easily. We start climbing, and immediately spot a number of Teloi snipers in the windows of the Akros, waiting for us the emerge. This won’t work. We turn to Demostratos, and explain to him that we can evacuate the people, but those soldiers up ahead seem to believe us to be murderers — and surely Demostratos can’t believe that, he saw us arrive (for the third time) a few minutes ago and has been with us ever since; so could he please approach those men and tell them we come in peace and will explain everything? Confused but putting his faith in us, Demostratos climbed up, walked up to the snipers, and exchanged a few words with them. And then, there was a volley of laser beams and he was shot dead. Poor, confused Demostratos.

We were running high on desperation and low on options. Whatever happens in this cycle, it won’t involve peaceful negotiations. Licar’s Fireball sailed through the air and into the building through a window, blasting the Teloi apart. We surged forward, made our way in, and burst into the council chamber… where we saw Diokles and another Teloi talking to the eleven councillors (Monodes missing).

And that’s when we realised. Tyraxus at first, and then his first few words immediately made it all so perfectly clear.

You see, every time the fatal bomb strike came, the whole city shifted back in time about four hours. And yes, since we were outsiders, we retained our memories of the previous cycles… but we weren’t the only ones. Monodes and the Teloi were also like us, they also remembered the previous cycles, so when we arrived for the second and third time, they were already waiting for us.

And we didn’t travel back in time, after all. It was not two millenia before 3987 Solon’s Calendar. We were still in the present, the present of the entire world — except this place, which kept going through the motions of the same four hour period for twenty centuries. And these people, Monodes and his Teloi, probably born in the meantime to mothers who were also immune to the time shifts, they lived their entire linear life while the world around them reset itself every four hours.

That explained a lot.

But what to do now? We still want to get out of here. Tyraxus (or maybe Licar, don’t recall) rapidly cast Charm Person on Diokles, and dice be praised, the man failed his save.

„Who are you?” — we were challenged as the council started to regain its bearings.
„Diokles, friend” — Tyraxus said — „why don’t you tell the the Council the truth?”
”The truth?”
”The whole truth. Don’t you think it’s time the Council knew? Don’t you think that would be the best for the people?”
„The truth…”
„Diokles, don’t…” — the other Telos tried to interject, then covered his face as our man was undone by the powers of the spell.
„The truth, Honoured Council, is that for the last thirty-six generation, Anadyomai was living in a sham, in an illusion. When Mesomakhos left, a few of our ancestors — the ancenstors of Monodes and of us, the Teloi — realised that the city was doomed to fall. Thus, they implemented a plan which worked until today, when these outsiders arrived and brought it all crashing down.”
And he went on. He told how the first counter-archon formed the Teloi, and how they implemented a technology in the Megaspheras powering the Periphery which would cause the city and its inhabitants to teeter back and forth in its last hours of existence, guided by the cabal who were immune to the temporal backswitches.

Megasphera


„But you see, you were wrong” — Gwyddion replied when Diokles had finished. — „Help did arrive — us. Two thousand years late, yes, and arriving by accident, but help nevertheless. Help us disable the Megaspheras and operate the Uranometafora, and at least some people will escape to live a real, genuine life.”

They agreed. When Monodes was turned into a frog and time shifted back again, he stayed in his polymorphed state and disappeared somewhere in the palace, probably killed by falling rubble. Without his guidance and with the secret out, the Teloi had no reason to go on with it, so they agreed. There were four Megaspheras at four separate points of the city, and they’d need to be blown up by explosives. The facilities, however, were guarded by powerful sentries, and the Teloi needed our help to deal with them. We were given their spare laser guns, a bundle of explosives, and we agreed to form one of the four strike teams that would bring down the Periphery, then hurry back to the palace and evacuate as many people as possible before the light-warriors of the Enemy overrun the city. We were also given two other artifacts as a parting gift: a healing device, and some chemical called Reversal. They explained it was a potent mutagen that would revert any human into pre-human evolutionary state.

At this point, I had Gwyddion ask a question: „Would this also work on other living creatures?”
„Yes.”
„So…” — I said, OOC now — „let’s suppose we put some of this into a barrel of salt-fermented goat milk, and gave that to a certain goat-headed god by the name of Tragos Megalos…”
Player 1: „Ooooh!”
Player 2: „Aaah!”
Melan: „Oh… I haven’t really thought this over…”
Anyway, back to the present session,,,

So, we headed for our Megasphera. It was a simple building, dark and empty on the inside save for a large sphere in the middle with lenses and projectors on its surface, surrounded by a thick copper chain mesh – and something large, metallic and buglike lying motionless next to it, outside the fence.

Devadatta headed for the service access gate in the fence, while the two mages and Gwyddion launched a volley of Fireballs and laser beams at the sleeping robot. The lasers hit home, but the fire only did superficial damage to the metal beast, which clicked to life, waving about two huge pincers and rushed at Gwyddion. As it got close, a cruel bolt of arc lightning issued from it and washed through the warrior’s body, but luckily, the second round of spells and laser bolts hit through its metal shell and destroyed its internal components. Meanwhile, Devadatta has set the charge and we hightailed it out of there, buffeted on by the explosion as the Megasphera turned into a pillar of fire and shot through the ceiling. One generator down, but of the other three? Scanning the cityscape, we saw no signs of other explosions. Maybe the Telos strike teams failed? Tyraxus and Gwyddion headed for the closest of the three remaining locations, Devadatta left for the far side of the city, and Licar, since his player had to leave, went NPC and returned to the palace.

We found the second generator with a badly damaged insect robot — easily dispatched –, and the two dead Teloi. We set their bomb and ran, sending the second Megasphera up. Shortly thereafter the third one was destroyed by a successful Telos team, and Devadatta found a tie at the fourth location — both robot and sappers destroyed. He set the charge, and ran for the palace.

With the last Megasphera gone, the Periphery went down and the Enemy’s artillery shells started raining over the city and the crowds still outside the palace or elsewhere in the streets. Devadatta took a hit but stumbled on, and we made it to the Akros and the hundreds of people outside hurrying through it. With some luck, another few hundred might make it through before the light-warriors reach the palace and slaughter everyone. We all flew, rushed or elbowed our way through the portal, and emerged… elsewhere. „Move on, move out! Others coming behind you, don’t get trampled!” — the Teloi and some of the adventurers (Licar and Zaxtaros, crossing earlier) were urging on the refugees, out of the small room we found ourselves in. A small room, with arches holding up a stone ring as part of the portal mechanism, deep under the library of Khonón…

Note: As we were packing up, we were discussing the interesting new situation we were now in. Under the forbidden library with several hundred people… how this is going to transpire is beyond me. But I do know two things: one, these several hundred are mostly armed, most with swords and the like and a few with lasers. Two, they’re indebted to us for having saved their lives.

And as Melan told us, since the Anadyomaians still enjoyed the futuristic health and mental enhancements of their civilisation, they counted as overmen — Homo Superiorus, people with a straight 18 in every attribute.

And… we have an axe to grind in Khonón…

(Originally posted January 23, 2010.)

Referee’s notes (2011): Epic adventure with seriously powerful characters against seriously powerful opposition — and victory won with guile and quick thinking. This session featured one of the otherworlds of Fomalhaut, with a mixture of utopianism and its downfall, desperation and hope. There was no adventure in the campaign that caused me as much hand-wringing and false starts as this one — like the adventurers, I was running out of time as the day of the game session approached — but in the end, I decided to go with a loose framework of basic ideas and let the details emerge in play. I used my last free hours, early in the morning, for the illustrations. Wonder of wonders, it turned out awfully well, and with a conclusion I didn’t quite anticipate — instead of leaving the doomed city to its fate, the characters returned to their world with eight hundred heavily armed refugees, perhaps naive by some standards but scarily quick to learn and adapt. (There is something very creepy about people with straight 18s in all attributes. That discomfort is intentional.) The world has changed, and unknown to the locals, a new era dawned over the city state of Khonón.

And a minor note: yes, I realise the Ns in the inscriptions are “wrong”. Some people may draw the conclusion that I mixed up my Greek and Cyrillic. Nothing could be further from the truth! No, Gentle Readers — it is simply a difference between certain forms of Neo-Hellene writing, probably stemming from the variations of language inevitable to develop over millenia of parallel development. So — nothing wrong there after all. Glad I could set that matter right. .)

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