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Rise Of The Ashen Wing 
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It was oddly clear on the evening the ball fell on. Upon arrival the guests were led inside the large building. The building was bright and brimming with activity. There were several musicians, a jester, and even someone skilled in the art of reading fortunes. Along the wall was a large table full of food and wines. As the ball went on a big broad-shouldered man began to make his way around the room asking various guests to follow him. Among those asked were Levi, Gabriel, Lale, and Yagami. When people refused he politely insisted saying that the host wanted to see them.

Once everyone was gathered the man led the group to a room toward the back of the building. Once outside the room he opened the door and addressed the group.
"Please enter, the host is waiting for you." His voice was deep but gentle. The man politely held the door for the whole group before entering and closing the door. Once inside the door made an audible clicking as it locked from the outside.

Inside the windowless room it was dim only lit by a few candles. There were several chairs and a desk in the center. If one would look up they would see a series of rafters hidden in within the darkness. Standing between the chairs and the group stood a older gentleman. He was surprising short and stocky. He wore a black cape that cover most of his body. His hair was grayed with age and his eyes where sunken in with dark circles around them. He looked at the group before smiling.

"Welcome!" His voice was loud and commanding leaving a feeling of discomfort as he spoke. "I'm sure you all are wondering why we invited you all here. We've been watching you very closely and we have decided that you all have a skill that we may be able to use. These sk-"

"Who is this We you keep talking about?" Someone interrupted the man. It was a younger man with blonde hair.

"Please, do not cut me off. I will treat you with some respect and I ask that you do that same with me. You can count that as your first warning. But I will answer your question. We are a group many of you know as the Ashen Wing." As he said the \ name several people began to panic. Phrases such as "That can't be" and "But they're all dead" could be heard echoing through the group.

"Now before you panic, you should know, if we wanted you dead you would be dead by now. We're here to recruit you. Now you have two options now. You can join us or pay the fee and be on your way home. The choice is yours."

The young lad from earlier raised his hand "I'd like to pay the fee so I may get out of here."

"Of course. Please sign this paper on the desk." He moved and point to a piece of paper and an ink well.

"I'm sorry but I can't write." The young man said solemnly.

"Oh good, that does save your fingers from some pain." The man said making a motion with his hand. A women dropped down from the rafters behind the man. She had at least 6 visible knives covering her. He black hair flowed down just passed her shoulders. She would black clothes with some brown leather padding on some key spots. And in one hand she held a wooden wedge.

"What do you mean sav-" Before the young man could finish the wedge was forced into his mouth. The lady quickly grabbed one of her knives and claimed his tongue. She then delivered a kick to the man's chest so he fell to the ground. The man began to scream the best he could. As he wiggled about the women handed the tongue over to the original speaker.

"There, that's not so bad. We could've killed you." The host spoke leaning over the tongueless man. "Now anyone have any other questions?" The man turned towards the rest of the group waited for their responses.

(I know long post is long, but it gives you a lot to react to.)

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Mon May 23, 2016 2:16 am
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The sun descended upon the horizon as Levi made the short trek back to his dwelling. As usual, it had been a slow day at the archives; He had spent most of his time reorganizing the shelves and sorting the few documents that had yet to be filed away. Information was in low demand these days, though the archivist didn’t mind. Ignorance made people easier to deal with. Levi presently arrived at his destination, nonchalantly ripping a parchment off of his door and stepping over the threshold into his home. The man promptly stoked a fire in his hearth and collapsed into his hammock. Only then did he begin to read the note he’d received, probably another request to borrow some kind of document. The archivist’s eyes pored lazily over the fire-lit words on the page, becoming more quick and frantic as they went. Levi had scarcely finished reading the note when he jumped from his perch, crushed the parchment in his hand, and hurled it with all his might with a frustrated grunt. The wad of paper flew a measly few meters through the air before plummeting to the floor. The archivist followed suit, slumping on the ground and pressing his hands to his temples.

They had found out. Levi didn’t know how, but someone had found out. They knew where he lived, they probably knew his name, and now they were baiting him out into the open. This was, without a doubt, the worst case scenario. After a moment, the man shook his head, then crossed his legs and began to take deep breaths. He needed to be rational, now more than ever before. Perhaps he was simply jumping to conclusions, being paranoid, but… no. That wasn’t good enough. If there was even the slightest chance he’d been discovered, he needed to take action. Ignoring this summons would be unwise. Levi stood and moved to his desk, pulling out a pen and some paper. He only had until the ball to prepare, so he needed to begin immediately. If it turned out that someone had discovered his secret, he simply needed to kill them.


Levi was unprepared. Analyzing the handwriting on the message had revealed nothing. He had been unable to gain entry and survey the assembly hall in Arch’s Pride ahead of time. Asking around had produced no leads. Whoever had sent him the note was almost as meticulous as he was. For the first time in his life, Levi was walking headlong into a situation he didn’t have complete control over, and it was wreaking havoc on his nerves. He tugged anxiously at the collar of his waistcoat as he entered the building. The guards at the door briefly inspected him for weapons or contraband, completely overlooking the thread he’d tied into a makeshift bracelet, then sent him on his way. Once inside, however, his doubt only grew, having no idea who or what to look for. After he meandered around the hall for a bit, this was remedied by a firm hand on his shoulder. After quite nearly having a heart attack, he turned around to see a large, imposing man with a small entourage that looked just as confused as Levi.

“This way, please.” The figure said, beckoning him to follow. After glancing back and forth between his “bracelet” and the man’s sternocleidomastoid muscles, the archivist tentatively decided to oblige.

Levi and the rest of the group were hastily guided to a door at the back of the building and ushered inside, where they were greeted by an older man. After a bit of deliberation, the man revealed himself to be a member of the Ashen Wing. Needless to say, nearly everyone in attendance was shocked. Levi, however found himself relieved, and intrigued. He loosened his grip on his thread, which he had now unraveled and concealed in his sleeve. This proved to be a wise move, as there were revealed to be more assassins present. It was likely that, despite being woefully outnumbered, the remaining members of the Ashen Wing could easily slaughter all of the gathered recruits. Given their reputation, they probably already knew about the weapon he’d smuggled in as well. Even so, this turn of events was in his favor; A guild of assassins wouldn’t have called him here to reveal his crimes, and if they really were recruiting new members, well… Levi couldn’t imagine a more ideal line of work.

Still, it was not in Levi's nature to draw attention to himself. When the man asked if there were any further questions, he simply stood back and remained silent.


Mon May 23, 2016 5:41 pm
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Gabriel approached his small home on the border of town, he had just sold the last of his previous days catch for a tidy profit at the market and was anxious to get to bed. as he approached his door he noticed a letter tacked to the door.
crap, I just finished repainting that damn door. he thought to himself in annoyance.
Still, he took the note inside and lit a candle to read by.
Crap, they've found me was his first thought upon finishing reading the note.No if they knew who I was they would have sent armed soldiers not a note. Besides, as far as the militaries' concerned, I'm dead.
He had been careful to pretend to be a loyal soldier until the minute he walked out and his contacts still in the military told him that he had been assumed dead.
Might as well see what this is all about.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Dressed in his finest crimson silk shirt, black trousers and cloak. On his right arm he wore his leather bracer and wrapped around his left wrist was a length of rope perfect for making an emergency bow. Gabriel followed the large man into the dark room. He listened intently to the older man and silently wished the kid would just shut up and listen to the point that he was almost glad when they cut his tongue out. When the man asked for other questions, he decided to keep quite and see where this went.


Mon May 23, 2016 9:37 pm
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Had Lale been able to read, she might have been even more curious about the strange note that had been pinned to her front door some days prior. As it stood, she had recognized the one word she knew how to read - her own name - and that by itself had been enough to solicit her interest, along with the amicable jealousy of her sisters. It was almost certainly a letter from one of the handsome young lords who passed by the Ygou fields on his way to the nearby town, they assured her teasingly. He had doubtless been captivated by the beauty of the young farm girl and sought to court her discreetly, lest his entourage discover that he was enamoured with one of lower rank than he.

Lale hoped dearly that the letter held a more interesting significance, though she was not altogether indisposed to the idea of playing the role of secret lover to a young nobleman. She caught herself daydreaming of this and other fantastic possibilities with increasing frequency as the days wore on, but thankfully for her an answer was not far off. Market day was quickly approaching, and the trip into town would afford her an opportunity to visit the town scribe. Her father agreed to pay for the reading of the letter, though he was not so fond of the idea that his Lale could so soon become another man’s bride.

Lale, accompanied by her father and elder sister Thea, waited patiently for the scribe to speak to them. A particularly demanding customer had managed to sneak ahead of them in the queue, and he was making the biggest fuss, though about what issue Lale neither knew nor cared. When finally it was her turn to address the spectacle-laden man behind the counter, he looked so worn from his previous encounter that she decided to give him a minute to wipe his brow. The scribe was a rotund man, evidently profiting from the monopoly on literacy that he enjoyed in this marketplace. Still, he was kind-looking, with brown eyes that peered warmly over the rolls of his cheeks like two cups of fresh cider overlooking a pair of glazed buns. It seemed as though he was proud of the service that he offered to his community.

The scribe set down his handkerchief and looked down at the letter and coinage that Lale had placed on the counter before him. “A reading, if ya please, sir,” she asked, to which the gentleman was all too happy to oblige. That is, until he saw the letter. The instant the man laid eyes on the page, it was all he could do to avoid drenching it with the tea that he had just placed to his lips. He excused himself, and, just as Lale was wondering whether he had truly just closed his shop in her face, the scribe came back with a giant of a man, so tall that he could not stand up comfortably in the small building the was the mail house.

Lale and her family were asked inside the shop, where a whispered conversation informed them that she had, in fact, been invited to a prestigious ball to be held the following night. The secrecy was brushed aside as a necessary evil for such a prestigious, private event, but Farmer Ygou’s suspicions and insistence eventually secured him his own invitation to the event and the promise that he could supervise his daughter. Appropriate attire would be provided for the pair, and their carriage would depart from the Ygou residence at dawn the following day. Lale was ecstatic, as were here increasingly jealous sisters for her, and that night the Ygou household was filled with nothing but whispers and giggles accompanied by the moans of a father trying to sleep.

How Lale longed to return to that moment.

Separated from her father, the farm girl trembled amidst the other recruits in the dark room. Most were older than she, and several looked like people that Lale would never want to encounter in broad daylight, much less in the dark. Now terrified even further by the brutal treatment of the young man that had been standing beside her, she shrunk away as best she could, though rather unsuccessfully. She could almost feel the black-caped man’s eyes boring holes into her, knives that seemed to bleed away her very soul. Almost as if in protest, a last effort before her body gave into death, she raised her hand meekly and immediately regretted the decision. At that moment, however, it was already too late. The movement had not gone unnoticed, and doubtless would she be punished in similar fashion as the blond youth were she to hold her own tongue after having called attention to herself.

In a voice barely above a whisper, her throat filling with tears brought on by a fear the likes of which she had never known, she managed to squeak out: “I-I...I t-think I’m here by m-mistake.”

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Mon May 23, 2016 11:58 pm
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The markets in Arch's Pride took a while to get used to, but once you became familiar avoiding the swarms of people and the bad deals became second nature. You could always hit the stalls you wanted, and once you became a familiar face, even get a good deal from time to time, even if it meant initially going to stalls with above average prices. Of course goods and services weren't the only things of value in the market place. Information was readily accessible, if you took the time to cross check what you heard. However, today was a slow day for all those things so Yagami went about her normal routine. Apples from the gentleman that would always throw in a spare, a visit to the woman that made authentic Eastern masks to chat and confirm for others they were real. Even going to...

"Excuse me miss," the gentleman who had just stopped her said. "Are you the Yagami that works in the Twin Tusks Tavern?"

Yagami gracefully nodded with a smile.

"Excellent. I was afraid I wasn't going to get this letter to you today when the owner said you were out earlier." He held out a small envelope out towards her as he said it.

"Oh. Well thank you for your diligence," Yagami replied taking the letter.

The seal was not one she recognized, not that she had the chance to get to know many, so she first turned it over to investigate before opening it. However to whom it was addressed was more shocking that any of its contents. She looked around frantically, but the man who had delivered it was already gone. She wasn't sure how the sender of this letter knew her real name as opposed to the cover she worked so hard on, but she was going to find out.

"To what do I owe a second visit from you today?" The mask saleswoman asked.

"I was just invited to a party," Yagami replied. "In case it is one of those masquerade balls the people of this land are so found of, I figure I ought to have a mask."

---

Of course Yagami knew it wasn't a masquerade, but she showed up wearing the mask anyways, which she didn't regret as she saw a man that was entering just as she arrived in her carriage be gently frisked. She was not handled as such, but was informed that it was not a masquerade ball, to which she feinted ignorance and moved the fox's face off of her own, and to the side.

Her training had not encompassed attending parties outside of her home country, so must of her time was spent hanging around to the side apologizing to men for her inability to dance. As the politest man of the night so far approached, Yagami had already opened her mouth to turn him away, before he instead informed her he was here on behalf of the host, who would like to see her, among a few others. As she went with him the steady clinking she had been making all night suddenly stopped.

They had to stop and collect a few more people before reaching their destination, but that was of little consequence compared to what happened when they got there. The way some reacted to the reveal, she supposed the Ashen Wing was of some important, but Yagami herself had never heard of the group, though she could hazard a guess after what happened to the boy. She had to suppress all her instincts not to arm herself with one of the pins in her hair, in fact, but was distracted when a young girl was about to make the same mistake as the boy.

Taking a step closer, she put a hand on the girl's head, and narrowed her eyes in warning to her before turning to speak with the man. "Don't be so hasty dear, you don't even know for why you were chosen to visit. Maybe our host would like to enlighten us that aren't privy, as to exactly what the Ashen Wing is, and why out of everyone in this land, we specifically were chosen?"

_________________
When my eyes be rollin'
The haters get goin'
The seeds I'm sowin'
With a smile I'm flowin'
And if I be trollin'
Ya never be knowin'
'Cause when the haters get goin'
My eyes just start a-rollin'


Wed May 25, 2016 2:00 pm
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The host stood waiting as the group pondered their various options waiting for someone to make a move. Then he spotted it. A small girl by the name of Lale, had raised her hand. The host gazed at her straining to hear her speak. After she spoke he began to move towards her slowly. He had a simple question for her but before he was able to ask it another girl moved between them. Yagami was this one's name. Yagami seemed to try and reassure the girl before asking her own questions.

"Ah, yes. I forgot I would be in the presence of foreigners. The Ashen Wing is a guild of trained assassins. We once helped the current ruler gain his power by assisting him in winning the War of the Three Tribes." The host looked down with a solemn expression as he decided to continue the history lesson.

"Although once he had used our clan he betrayed us calling us traitors to the throne. He murdered our guild siblings and forced the few remaining of us into hiding. Unfortunately hiding wasn't enough to save all of us. The king had taken some prisoners, he tortured them until their spirits broke. When they broke they gave up hiding spots of others. Many of them knew that Matthias would only kill them but they caved so he would end it. After King Matthias believed he had killed us all he stopped his murderous campaign." The host paused a moment as he prepared to switch gears to answer the other questions.

"Now, as for why you all were chosen. I do believe I already answered that. In fact I think it was answered in your letter, but if it wasn't clear. We believe that you all have a skill that the guild could use in an assassin, may it be the aim of a deadly hunter, the precise planning of a hidden killer, or the experience of having taken another life." He looked around the room as he spoke addressing everyone more so that just Yagami this time.

"And that is your true reason to visit. You all have a skill and we want it within our guild." He moved around Yagami to look at Lale. "Now back to your statement. I certainly hope you're not here by mistake. Simply because if you were I'd have to kill my messenger,Unless you're one of Lale's sisters, and that would be unfortunate. But if you're one of her sisters I would really hate for the elderly man upstairs to find out one of his daughters was violently murdered in the ally when she slipped out of the ball. So now I ask you, Lale," The host leaned over to he a spoke in a soft quiet voice. "Are you here by mistake or are you simply scared?"

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Thu May 26, 2016 11:00 am
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Lale’s eyes widened as the ramifications of what the black-caped man was explaining became clear. She felt a sharp pain run the length of her body as he spoke, as though the part of her brain still trying to convince itself that the sights and sounds of this nightmarish room were nothing more than gruesome fantasy was trying to jolt her from this terrifying reverie. Try as she might to wake herself, however, the room and its tenants remained, as did the stranger’s hand on her head. A lone comfort in a sea of agony. It was this hand, and the reassurance that it provided, that allowed her to push back her tears and realize what needed to be done. If her family was at risk, then she wasn’t allowed to be afraid. Escape was out of the question; the only way to move was forward. Swallowing the bile that had been building up in her throat, she spat on the ground as defiantly as she could, an attempt to regain her usual confident demeanor. Then, forcing herself to look the nightmare man directly in the eyes she answered his question with a simple “neither.”

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9


Sun May 29, 2016 11:11 am
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A hush fell over the room. For a few long moments, Levi thought that everyone would be wise enough to keep their qualms to themselves, but lo and behold, a young farm girl spoke up. After what she had just witnessed, it was obvious that she must not be in her right mind. However, before any of the assassins could address her statement, another young woman came to her aid. It seemed that each of them had a death wish. Fortunately, their host was very accommodating and humored the foreigner’s query, quite possibly sparing the girl a great deal of suffering.

Levi watched Lale intently as events unfolded. Though she remained silent and was facing away from him, her body betrayed her feelings with a telltale quiver. The archivist had seen it many times; She was succumbing to despair. It was no wonder, being forced into such a hopeless situation. Whoever had selected her for this was truly a ruthless person.

How will she react? He pondered, closing his eyes. Will she plead for mercy? Lash out in desperation? Perhaps she’ll have a breakdown and curl up on the floor.

“Neither.” Levi’s eyes snapped open and fixed once again on the girl. Still terrified, clearly, but her demeanor had changed entirely. Now this, this reaction was something new to him. The archivist pressed a knuckle against his lips, concealing a small grin. Such determination wasn’t something he had the privilege of bearing witness to very often. He wondered if it would last.


Sun May 29, 2016 12:00 pm
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Lale, if the name the man use to address the child was correct, was a strong girl to be certain, but still a girl at heart, and shook like a leaf under the gale of the man in front of them. Though by her reaction, Yagami felt she wouldn't be completely blown away, at least not yet, so she slipped her hand off the girl's head, and pass her should so that she could try standing on her own.

As for what the man told her, it was a sob story. Had his guild mates been stronger, they would have taken their own life if they couldn't escape and had protected their fellows. But alas, it was at least a sob story she could relate to.

"If what you say is true, and you have knowledge of my past, then I suppose I have little choice in this matter." Unlike Lale, Yagami had no problem looking the man in the eye and could stand with confidence. The way she said her words conveyed that while she had little choice, she had some, and was a warning that, while she would be complacent for, there were lines she would not cross, not for her family in the easy, and not for this man.

_________________
When my eyes be rollin'
The haters get goin'
The seeds I'm sowin'
With a smile I'm flowin'
And if I be trollin'
Ya never be knowin'
'Cause when the haters get goin'
My eyes just start a-rollin'


Tue May 31, 2016 11:54 pm
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Gabriel had been slowly approaching the young girl from behind when she spoke.
His hand reaching for the knife he had concealed under the wrapped bowstring on his forearm. As much as he knew he would regret it, he wouldn't be able to stand by and let this child be killed. something about the subtle in her body language told him this girl was terrified and his instincts were telling him that he should protect her.
"neither"
Gabriel was stunned by that one word. and as he watched, the young woman's body language changed, she was now filled with resolve instead of fear. Still he felt the need to get the hosts attention off the woman.
"So how do we know that any of what you just said is true?" Gabriel said aloud as he moved to stand next to the woman, Lale.


Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:27 pm
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The host grinned as the young girl's resolve came to show. Then Gabriel spoke. The host paid serious attention to his words nodding when Gabriel finished. The man turned slightly to face him.
"Simple. You don't." The host then turned his back and made his way back to the desk. "But would you honestly want to take the risk?" He paused for a moment. Looking at the group.

"Feelsworth, Come here." After the host issued an order the big man that had led them to the room moved towards the host. Once there the two spoke softly to one another. When Feelsworth nodded he grabbed the candle stick off the table.

"Now that we've handled that." The host stopped mid-sentence to flip the desk over and send the rest of the things on it cluttering to the ground. Under the desk was a hatch. "Follow Feelsworth. This tunnel leads just outside the city gates where a carriage awaits you. If you wish to stay you can remain here with Mania and I." The host then stepped aside motioning to the tunnel.

Feelsworth walked down into the tunnel carrying the candle for light. Once inside he waited for the rest to follow.

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Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:13 pm
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Feelsworth? Mania? Levi grimaced slightly, but nevertheless broke away from the crowd without a word and followed those who were heading for the tunnel.

Well, at least Feelsworth is mannerly.


Sun Jun 12, 2016 6:08 pm
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It had taken just about every ounce of bravery that existed inside Lale’s small frame to live the last fifteen seconds of her life without losing her mind and melting into an inconsolable, hysterical puddle. And it was only now that the black-cloaked man’s eyes were off her and that the air caught in her chest began to decompress that the young girl realized she hadn’t been breathing. There was something horrifying about the master of ceremonies, some hidden aspect to him that seemed to drain the life from everything and everyone in his immediate vicinity. Lale shuddered as she drew the first breath that she had taken since the monster had laid eyes on her. She was going to make it through this. She was going to survive.

From what Lale could tell, no one was going to get hurt if they all simply followed instructions. And as she was anxious to get as far away from the black-cloaked man as possible, it seemed like her only choice was to proceed through the tunnel. Silently, she folded herself into the line of would-be spelunkers behind a tall man in long robes. She glanced around nervously at those who had yet to follow, wondering whether there would be a penalty for staying - or worse, one for leaving. Lale hoped desperately that she had made the right decision, but one way or the other it was too late. Someone had already fallen in behind her.

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9


Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:49 pm
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Gabriel followed right behind the young woman. She had just had an adrenaline rush and now that the moment was over he knew she would be feeling weak. So he followed closely behind her down the tunnel. He was sure that staying behind was akin to a death sentence. Gabriel couldnt help but wonder just what he had gotten himself into.


Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:24 pm
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A fair few others, including the girl Lale, had passed into the tunnel before Yagami moved to leave. She had delayed as long as she could to let others pass in front of her, and just before she ducked down the passage way she flashed a warning glace at those staying directing those she could to the boy now missing his tongue. However she couldn't wait and departed- she would just have to listen carefully to know if anyone heeded her warning.

_________________
When my eyes be rollin'
The haters get goin'
The seeds I'm sowin'
With a smile I'm flowin'
And if I be trollin'
Ya never be knowin'
'Cause when the haters get goin'
My eyes just start a-rollin'


Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:54 pm
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