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||You are on Week 431
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Four Hundred Thirty One Ends Friday, October 2
"What did I tell you, Daesy? It's just like the brochure said -- endless white sand beaches, pristine blue water, lush jungles..." The Techo grinned, inhaling the perfumed tropical air deeply, and flopped down happily on the sand.
His friend, a pink Kau, looked less enthused, rolling her large eyes back and forth as she took in the completely empty beach and the rather ramshackle hut where they were going to stay. "But I thought we were going to, you know, mingle with other vacationers and do more social things."
Chans, the Techo, batted her worries away with a casual flick of his hand. "That's the great thing -- Mystery Island is within easy paddling distance, so if we want to do more touristy things, we can just hop in a canoe." He settled back onto the sand and closed his eyes, basking in the warm, golden sun.
"Excuse me," said a timid voice. Daesy almost jumped at the sudden appearance of a small, shy-looking Pteri.
"Oh, hello," Daesy replied, trying to smile. "I didn't know anyone here spoke our language. From what I understood, this is the first time that the island has been open to visitors from around Neopia."
The little Pteri nodded and said hesitantly, "Yes, but now we hope that many others will come. We need lots of visitors for..." She trailed off as a group of islanders filed onto the beach, most of them carrying large drums. "I mean, if there is anything I can do for you, please tell me."
Chans bounded to his feet. "Well, could you tell us the best places to hike in the jungle? My friend here fancies herself another Lilian Fairweather and wants to look at all of the weird, new plants."
The Pteri's eyes darted rapidly between the line of islanders and the two tourists. "I, um... perhaps you would rather stay on the beach?"
Daesy frowned. "No, I think we should use the daylight for hiking, if that's OK..." She trailed off as the islanders began thumping on their drums, filling the warm air with the sound of rolling thunder. "What... what's going on?" she asked, shouting over the noise, worried that they were encroaching on some sort of special island ritual.
The little Pteri nervously licked her beak. "They are, uh, welcoming you here," she stammered. "Please, please stay on the beach." Then, suddenly, she darted back as two burly islanders stepped forward and grabbed Chans and Daesy, binding their arms with vines.
"Hey, what's going on?!" Chans shouted, struggling against his bonds. "This wasn't in the brochure and it's bang out of order! Free us now, and we might not report you to the Defenders of Neopia, right, Daesy... Daesy?"
But the Kau didn't answer. She was too busy watching the water, which had turned dark and was now roiling as if it were in a pot on a stove. Her screams joined the thunder of the drums as...
Author: Still better than Cockroach Towers|
Date: Sep 28th
The water began to bubble, spitting and churning as if the entire ocean was angered by the rhythmic echo of the islanders' drums. Louder and louder the beat thundered, and as the noise escalated into a crescendo of deafening thuds, the water seemed to split in two, slowly drawing itself back from the shore, inch by inch grudgingly uncovering the drenched sands that bubbled in protest at being revealed.
"You can bet the holiday company will be hearing about this!" Chans screamed over the howling wind, roaring seas, and the dizzying thud of the natives' drums. "First the free coconut drink we were promised doesn't show up on arrival, and now this freak show!"
Daesy, however, said nothing, her gaze fixated in horror on the retreating ocean, slowly continuing to dart back, as if driven by some taunting, invisible force. Shells, sand, seaweed, and coral were revealed to her terrified eyes. Rock formations began to appear the further back the sea parted, shimmering, black rocks that were never meant to be seen by anyone but the fish and a few very brave divers. Small enclaves, winding furrows, and ominous-looking crevices appeared as the Kau struggled against her bonds, thinking frantically.
Somehow I don't think this is part of the holiday... we might be honoured guests, but honoured guests of what, exactly?
With a final, furious roar the ocean ceased its grudging retreat, hovering yards out from the original shore, as if held by some unseen barrier, towering high enough to shadow the entire island. Beneath the sheer, shimmering wall of angry water, Daesy found her eyes drawn to an ebony cave, the jagged rock formations sharp and angry, the entrance impossibly black. Small corals were wedged between crevices, giving a flash of crimson colour to the otherwise glossy black stone.
As if this was all to be expected, one of the islanders, a rather burly Elephante, yelled something in a strange tongue, causing the drumming to stop. Chans and Daesy were pushed forward, all the while struggling, and in Chans's case, protesting loudly about the tourism rating the place would have when he was done complaining to anyone who would listen. Daesy suspected that promoting the island as a fashionable tourist hub was the last thing on the islanders' minds and always had been.
Perhaps that's why we're the only ones here. They only needed a few...
Bit by bit the two friends were nudged forward by their captors. Out of the corner of her eye, the Kau saw the diminutive Pteri from earlier, one wing covering her beak as if she were too frightened to utter a sound, terror and empathy in her eyes.
"Please! Don't let them do this!"
But the Kau's pleas only made the Pteri turn away.
Farther and farther along the drenched former seabed the friends were pushed, until they stood before the endless black entrance of the cave, which, only a few moments ago, had been underwater. It was then that the Pteri spoke.
"We're sorry. We have no choice."
Daesy opened her mouth to ask what that was supposed to mean, but she never got the chance. With a hefty shove, she and Chans were pushed deep into the cave, the ground seeming to be stolen out from under them as, limbs flailing, the two friends began to plummet through the darkness...
Date: Sep 28th
The ground, when they hit it, was surprisingly soft.
It was also quite sticky and slimy, and Daesy found herself grateful for the fact that there was no light. As glad as she was to be suffering no injury from the fall, she suspected that the surface beneath them was not a particularly pleasant sight.
"Ugh," said Chans, shaking his arms to try to dislodge the slime. "As soon as we get out of this, I'm going to write a very stern letter to the travel agency about this place..."
Daesy felt that there was a good chance that Chans would never have a chance to send his letter, but said nothing. When the Techo got good and outraged about something, it was useless to try to get him to think about anything else. Besides, it probably kept away the urge to panic.
Daesy took a deep breath to steady herself, and instantly regretted it. The pleasantly salty aroma of the sea was distant, masked by the scent of mould, mildew, and rotting things.
The Kau felt sick to her stomach. "We may as well try and feel our way around. Maybe we'll find a tunnel out of here." She didn't feel particularly hopeful on that last point, but it was better than standing still.
Hooves held out in front of her, Daesy fumbled her way in the darkness, managing to find Chans, whose hand she took. If they got separated in the complete darkness, they might never find each other again.
A searching hoof met the damp stone of the wall, and Daesy followed it, Chans muttering under his breath all the while, working out the wording of his letter.
"...and I would give this vacation a rating of negative six out of ten, but the provided ratings system does not provide for negatives, an oversight which I am certain will soon be corrected. My experience on the island has been wholly unsatisfactory..."
As the Kau and Techo walked through the winding tunnels of the cave, a faint rumbling could be heard overhead, through the earth above them. It was as steady as a heartbeat, and the throbbing sound made Daesy somehow uneasy.
Small patches of mushrooms appeared here and there, their faint glow giving some small light to the tunnel. These patches grew more and more frequent, until finally Daesy and Chans stepped into a wide chamber.
The walls were completely covered with the pale fungi, and their combined light revealed a hole in the floor of the chamber, wide enough for a pair of Neopets.
Letting go of Chans's hand, Daesy went to examine the hole.
It dropped straight down into pitch darkness, and Daesy could not see where it led.
All of a sudden, the rumbling stopped. The Kau stepped away from the hole, and looked up as though searching for the reason why.
Even Chans had fallen silent, his tirade apparently forgotten. His eyes wide, he whispered urgently:
"The hole. Look."
Someone, or something, was emerging...
Date: Sep 29th
Daesy closed her eyes and braced herself for the impact of whatever monster was coming. "Mum, Dad, Chans..." She rattled off the list of who she hoped would remember her after she was swallowed up whole.
However, after a few more minutes of nothing, Daesy opened her eyes. A blue Ruki was climbing over the side of the pit, his glasses and hat askew.
"A little help, please?" the Ruki gasped, out of breath. Daesy and Chans rushed over and quickly helped the Neopet out of the hole.
The Ruki stood up, brushing himself off before extending a claw to his two helpers. "Why, thank you kindly," he said, his grin broad. "Rilfin Escobar, at your service."
Chans reached out to shake Rilfin's hand. "I'm Chans and this here is Daesy," he introduced. "We were having a fabulous time until we were pushed down this pit, and now we're stuck. What are you doing here?"
"Well, you see, I was investigating the strange earthquakes that seemed to come from this very island, until I fell down one of their cracks myself! Seeing no way to get out of them, I made my way through a small tunnel and found a plethora of artefacts! Simply exquisite! They detail the history of this island and these earthquakes in such a perfect story that I could probably piece together--"
"Yes, yes, yes," Daesy interrupted, not wanting hear about the absolutely wonderful artefacts. "But do you happen to know a way out of here? We came from a dead end, sort of."
Rilfin's smile fell off his face as he explained, "I'm afraid the only way to go is down..."
Date: Sep 29th
Daesy's voice echoed strangely in the silence. It almost reminded her of a glass sitting on the edge of a table, something fragile that was threatening to tumble and break at any given second. Try as she might, the Kau couldn't help her eyes from gazing into the hole. She couldn't stop herself from shuddering, either. The velvety black abyss almost seemed to writhe, seemed to pound in synchronisation with the whispered rumbling -- Daesy was only slightly surprised when she realised they had started again.
She closed her eyes; that seemed to be the only way to avoid looking directly at the hole. Although the darkness that came with closed eyes only seemed to remind her of what she was so desperately trying to avoid...
Daesy had never been afraid of the dark. But this... this seemed like much more than just your ordinary darkness. All the candles and bottled faeries in the world couldn't chase away these shadows...
Daesy sighed. "Are you sure? Do we really have to...?" She couldn't bring herself to finish.
Rilfin attempted a reassuring smile, but it faltered pitifully. "Unfortunately, yes. The deeper tunnels are actually quite easy to navigate, but the closer you get to the surface, the steeper and slipperier the walls get," he made a sweeping gesture toward the smelly, slimy walls that arched skyward, "well, the harder it is to climb and, well..." He trailed off miserably.
Another awkward, echoing silence. Neither of them could bring themselves to speak, to mention what they all seemed to be avoiding, as if they stayed quiet long enough, all their problems would simply fade away...
"Well," Daesy sighed. "Down we go..."
"This is worse than that travel agent who claimed he could take us to Jelly World," Chans groaned.
"Just think of it as... spelunking."
Chans's frown seemed to lighten, just a bit. "The brochure said nothing about this..." He muttered as he cautiously approached the crevice, giving the fissure a disdainful glance to accompany Daesy's look of apprehension and Rilfin's... well... Daesy wasn't quite sure what he was thinking. His face was a mosaic of different emotions. Terror, yes. But also excitement, and something darker...
"After you...?" The Ruki offered, eyes masked for a split-second as his glasses reflected the dim light of the mushrooms.
"Shouldn't you go down first?" Daesy interrupted, tone much harsher than she intended. "I mean, um, since you've already been down there and all. We wouldn't want to get lost," she finished lamely.
"Of course." Rilfin flashed her a smile and crouched down. Within seconds, he had slid into the hole and disappeared in the inky murk. His disembodied voice floated up to them, beckoning. "Come on, now. It may be dark, but it's not a very long climb. Easy, too. It'll be over before you know it. Just wait until you see the artefacts!" His voice seemed to bubble with excitement at the last comment.
Chans exchanged glances with Daesy before he, too, vanished into the hole. Daesy waited a few second before following him.
The walls were moist and slimy, but the footholds and handholds were enough to keep her from slipping. The darkness seemed to swallow her, and Daesy had the distinct impression she was climbing down the throat of some huge, hidden monster. No. Stop. Don't think things like that.
Despite Rilfin's reassurance, the climb seemed to take forever. Daesy climbed down slowly, carefully, afraid she would slip and fall and never stop falling. Their combined steps seemed to fall in rhythm with the distant tremors. Was it just her imagination? Or did they seem to grow louder, closer...
Finally, the slippery rocks ended and her hoof touched something that felt like sand. Daesy turned and saw vague, fuzzy imprints of Rilfin and Chans ahead of her, illuminated by an unseen light source. It seemed brighter here, but that was impossible... wasn't it?
Daesy approached them, still trembling slightly from the descent. She opened her mouth to speak, but whatever words she was about to stay faded as tension crept down her spine like icy fingers. Something wasn't right...
The ground was blanketed in a colourless sand. Magnificent arrays of stalactites hung from the ceiling like stone chandeliers. They were in a clearing of sorts, tunnels stretching in different directions on all sides. Daesy wondered which one led to Rilfin's treasure; she was surprised they weren't standing knee-deep in artefacts right now.
Wait. That's what's wrong here...
"The tunnels..." Rilfin's voice was hoarse, strangled, as if he were choking on his own words. "They've changed..."
Date: Sep 30th
"What do you mean?" Daesy asked, but found her own voice hesitant and lacking strength. The air here was thick and heavy, and seemed to wrap about her like a shroud. The peculiar glowing seemed to hover on that air, pulsating slightly. Underneath it all, there was a faint humming noise, like a tiny Petpetpet caught in a clear jar.
"This isn't right," Rilfin was explaining, shaking his head as he turned around slowly. "All of the artefacts were here, and there were two tunnels off to the right." He pointed with one shaky hand. "I was just mapping out this area when I heard your voices coming from above me. That's why I climbed up there, but everything is so different."
"That's impossible," Chans retorted. "A tunnel can't just change."
As if cued by his words, the air became even thicker and seemed to tangle about them. It ebbed and flowed with no obvious source as if it were part of the ocean above.
Or as if the cavern were breathing.
Daesy shook her head, trying to push aside the strange thoughts slipping and sliding through the recesses of her mind, when suddenly the ground began to shake. Her hooves slipped in the pale sands as the stalagmites rose into the air like growing mountains.
"Daesy!" Chans yelled, and the Kau realised that her friend and the Ruki were on the other side of the rising rock formation. The sand was sliding toward her like a grainy sea, pushing her farther away. She tried to stand, but couldn't gain her footing as the stalagmites and stalagtites met and melted into one another.
A wall of solid rock now stood between her and the others. She cried out and finally managed to stand as the shaking subsided. Running to the wall, she pounded on it and shouted for Chans, but couldn't hear a thing from the other side. She was completely alone and isloated.
She wanted to cry and just drop to the ground, but she was usually the level-headed rational one of her friends. There was no way she was going to wait around to be rescued. If there was a way out, she would find it.
The humming still hung on the air, but now it seemed to call to her like a lost melody. Turning, she saw a single opening in the far wall and realised it was only way out. Steeling her nerves, she walked into the passageway.
Flowers and mould grew from the walls, and seemed to wave at her as she walked past. It was almost as if they were welcoming her -- and the oddest thing was that this did feel familiar somehow. For a long time, she walked in silence.
Finally, she saw another larger opening ahead and, at first, she started to run toward it until she heard the voices. She skidded to a stop and leapt behind a large rock just as two shadows suddenly fell across the wall.
"Is it time?" one shadow hissed, the voice obviously female.
"Soon," came the rough reply. "In fact, I feel she will be arriving very soon."
Daesy's heart pounded like those tribal drums earlier as she slowly peeked from behind her hiding place to gain a look at the owners of those shadows...
Date: Sep 30th
Daesy immediately whipped her head back around as shock ran up her spine.
It was the Pteri from the beach.
She was now garbed in grass and tribal paint, speaking to her companion, one of the burly islanders who had bound Daesy and Chans. She seemed to have gained her confidence since the scene at the beach, and spoke with an authority that sounded strange in her high, soft voice.
As the initial shock began to wear off, Daesy chanced another peek into the clearing. There was the Pteri and the islander... and beside them stood the strangest Mynci that Daesy had ever seen. She was extremely tiny and so thin that it looked unhealthy. Her gigantic eyes seemed much too big for her elaborately painted face. She paid no mind to her fellows, instead staring blankly off into one of the caves, almost as if she were waiting for something. She clutched a huge and very ancient-looking book to her chest, the title of which Daesy could not make out.
The Pteri and the burly islander exchanged a few more whispers before the latter set off in the opposite direction of Daesy's hiding place. Once, Daesy could have sworn that the Pteri had seen her, but the Pteri continued her conversation without interruption, and Daesy was able to convince herself that it was simply the stress of the situation that was making her so paranoid.
The Pteri now addressed the Mynci, barking a sharp command in the islanders' tongue, and the two set off...directly toward Daesy.
Dasey's heart began once again to beat out the tribal cadence in a swift crescendo as the pair approached her. She sank against the wall, attempting to make herself small, though she knew it was no use.
The Mynci passed first, but her wide, misty, and unobservant eyes did not spot the Kau crouching against the cave wall. The Pteri passed next. She, too, stared straight ahead of herself, moving briskly. But just as Daesy's tense muscles were beginning to relax, the Pteri met her eye.
Date: Oct 1st
...her eyes glistening from the faint light in that area of the cave.
The Pteri continued onward, the Mynci at her side. What could this mean? the Kau wondered. Daesy was right there, plain in sight for her to capture. But, then again, Daesy realised that she didn't know why she was to be captured in the first place.
Up on the island, when the storm had grown horribly, the ocean colour had transformed into a completely different colour, the colour of pitch black.
Then, the Pteri said it was the only choice before she'd shoved Daesy and Chans into the cave. So what was the Pteri doing there? How had she gotten here? Who was the Mynci?
These questions circled in her mind, not one coming to any logical answer.
Maybe there is a secret passageway to the island, and that is how the Pteri and the others got in here, Daesy thought.
Hope swelling in her, she quickly ran toward the passageway the Pteri appeared to come from.
The caves turned black, the flowers disappeared, and the mould grew heavier. No plant life was supported here, nor were there any signs of life. This cave was a labyrinth, and there appeared to be no way out.
The only way to go is down, Daesy remembered, thinking of Rilfin from a while ago, while meeting in the higher parts of the cave.
"Down," Daesy muttered to herself. She stepped forward to where she'd seen the Pteri standing, and noticed a long, and eerie stairway of rock.
Daesy pushed herself to tiptoe down into the lower layers. The winds of the cave got chillier, and Daesy shuddered, and she could see her white and foggy breath exhale from her nose.
The staircase wound further and further, and the mould got thicker and thicker. This was a problem. This was like a freezer, only worse. Daesy had no form of warm clothing.
"Daesy...." a raspy voice echoed through the walls.
"Who's there?" Daesy spoke, quickly turning her head everywhere to find the source of the voice.
Nobody was there...
Daesy continued, not knowing what to come next. The stairs started to frost over with ice, and they got slick. Daesy had to restrain herself from falling, clutching to whatever was there to hold.
As she neared the bottom, she looked around. Nothing was there, and she was freezing from the inside out.
This was not paradise...
Date: Oct 1st
A large frozen cave lay ahead of her. Icicles hung down dangerously from the ceilings and walls, and condensation glistened everywhere.
Daesy wondered if she'd walked so far that she'd entered Terror Mountain. She had only been there once before, but never dared to enter the Ice Caves -- they seemed much too risky, and she'd never been particularly skilled in walking on slippery surfaces.
She wished more than ever that Chans were with her. He was the braver of the two, and she always felt safer when he was around. And now suddenly, Daesy was left to try and save herself, her friend, and an explorer, from the ever-changing caves.
The Kau wished that they'd just chosen to take their vacation at Mystery Island. Sure, there was always the risk of being incinerated from the volcano or taken to Mumbo Pango, but it sure was safer than being forced into a tunnel, far below sea level for some secret plan.
Daesy's abstraction was broken by footsteps on the icy floor. She couldn't tell if they were coming from behind her or not, but running forward into the spacious cave would give her no place to hide.
Instead she simply crouched down against the frozen wall, trying her best to ignore the numbness that was creeping up her back, as she listened to the slapping feet edge closer.
"...Not going to get away with this..."
Daesy's eyes widened. She was sure that was Chans's voice bouncing off the sparkling walls.
She took a short sigh of relief after concluding that the voice wasn't coming from the tunnel she had come from. Instead, whoever it was that was with Chans seemed to be coming from an adjacent tunnel -- one that led into the same clearing that her tunnel led to.
Daesy watched as Chans and Rilfin were led into the clearing, hands tied behind their backs, constantly prodded forward by the strange-looking Mynci and the bulky Elephante from back at the beach.
"Here, stop," the Mynci demanded when they'd walked into the middle of the caves clearing.
Daesy watched in horror at the sight of her friend tied up and being treated so badly. She needed to do something, but how could one Kau possibly stand up to two other, mean-looking pets?
"Don't talk," whispered a voice into Daesy's ear from behind her. Before she had the chance to scream out, or even gasp, a wing clasped around her mouth and pulled her backward.
"You have to trust me," the Pteri rasped quietly. She slowly released her grip from Daesy's mouth. The Kau gasped for breath, but didn't say a word. The last thing she wanted was to alert those natives of her presence. The element of surprise was the only thing she had.
"What are they doing to my friend?" she whispered.
"There isn't much time to explain. Your friend is being sacrificed -- they believe it is the only way to save the island."
"From what?" Daesy asked.
"From being swallowed up by the sea. They perform a ritual to sacrifice somebody every one hundred years."
Daesy wanted to cry out in disgust at what they wanted to do to her friend. "Why Chans?"
The Pteri looked down at the ground. "I convinced them to go after your friend, because you're the only one that can stop them. Your Ruki accomplice isn't needed, so he'll most likely be disposed of afterward in some way."
"But what can I do? I'm no hero."
"You can be," the Pteri insisted. "We don't have any more time; you have to save them now." She began pushing Daesy forward, back toward the clearing.
"Wait," Daesy pleaded, unable to stop herself from being forced along the ice. "Just who are you anyway?"
"That doesn't matter now. You need to prove that this ritual is just a ridiculous myth."
With those last whispered words, the Pteri pushed Daesy forward, out of the confines of the tunnel and into the clearing.
She suddenly found herself in full view of the Chans, Rilfin, and the natives...
Date: Oct 2nd
The Mynci looked at her with wide, milky eyes for only a second before opening the weathered book, flipping the pages, one by one, slowly and deliberately. It was as if she did not fear a threat from Daesy as she stopped flipping the pages. Opening her mouth in a small "o," she proclaimed aloud:
"One hundred years have come and go,
And slow the sea's ebbed, to and fro,
But one more offering the sea needs
To stop eating land from which it feeds.
Recite all the ancient words of old
As you give the sea back all it's sold."
After that, the Mynci started a fire, causing the ice around it to melt slowly as Daesy looked on, horrified. The fire licked at the ice and snow surrounding it, slowly melting with each caress of flame.
Dropping salt into the fire, she began to recite the ancient words as the Elephante dragged Chans forward, getting ready to push him into the fire...
Not able to stand it any longer, Daesy rushed forward and knocked the book out of the Mynci's hands. The book fell to the floor, opening to another page. Daesy picked the book up on its open page. Dust covered this page heavily, as if it had not been opened in thousands of years. Blowing all the dust away, she read aloud the hidden words:
"The cycle will end now on the last key,
For perfectly satisfied will not be the sea
Until it gets what had come for then:
A cursed book written with ink from pen.
Feed the pages into the flame,
With salt from the sea of same."
Daesy smiled as she finished the incantation. It was the perfect passage for convincing the natives that the ritual was pointless, and she could already tell that the two had heard her words. They stared at her with wide, unknowing eyes, bewildered and confused at such an ending to their myth.
Daesy looked at the fire once more before she threw the book in. The fire consumed it fully, burning the pages with increasing speed as its sparks flew toward the ceiling, an ending to a fabled myth.
Waving to Rilfin, she grinned as the boat left the island before turning back to Chans, who sat with his feet up on Daesy's chair, leaning back with his eyes closed. She playfully knocked his feet off the chair before sitting down in it. "Where are we going now?" she asked.
"I don't know," Chans said, putting on his sunglasses. "All I know is I bought two tickets to the place that could get us off this island the fastest."
Daesy sighed. "Of course you did. Now, I'm going to ask the captain where we're going so I know whether or not I have to buy a winter coat in the next port."
The Kau stood up and navigated her way to the front of the ship where the captain was holding the steering wheel steadily, carefully guiding the ship on its course. Tapping the captain's shoulder, she questioned, "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you know where..." Her sentence trickled off as she saw who exactly was steering the ship.
The Pteri winked back.
Editor's Note: Do you have any ideas on how to improve the Storytelling Contest? Is there a Neopian topic you'd like to have given the Storytelling treatment? Now's your chance to let us know! Send in your ideas using the Storytelling Contest entry form any time before the new contest is posted on Monday. Thanks!
Date: Oct 2nd
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