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Thread Contributor: SethSacred Places
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#1
"I think," He spoke aloud, where anyone could hear him in the tavern, “That I would like to see that temple." It wasn't the first time Seth had come to this place - they had the best selection of wine - and he expected that the invitation would be taken for what it was, though he continued, "Anyone else have the same thought?”

The god took his tune to finish his dyink before he stood up, brushed off his jacket and put it back on, and gave the serving woman a generous tip. Then he headed to the door and out into the cooler city air. Seth glanced up toward the sky and smiled just a little; no rain tonight, not while he was out exploring this new place.

He didn't turn to see if anyone had decided to join him until he was nearly to the temple.
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#2
Natasha had been out, exploring the Hub, which naturally meant spending a fair amount of time in some of the bars, both seedy and otherwise. They tended to be good places to get information, and it was comforting, in a way, to discover that this was a universal constant.

At this place, she'd made inquiries about the darkly handsome man drinking in the corner, apparently he was some sort of deity on his version of Earth, or at least that was the story he'd chosen to promote. Which was interesting. Interesting and worth checking out, so when this "Seth" announced that he was going to 'the temple', wherever that was, she decided to follow along behind him.

As she walked along, out of habit she moved quietly, but she was doing noting to really hide her presence either, so when he turned around he'd see her quite easily.
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#3
He didn’t actually have to physically turn around to see who was following him, but he had learned over the centuries that mortals preferred to be able to pretend that he was similar to them, and so he turned, as though he didn’t know the assassin woman had been following him even as he left the bar.

Hub had certainly proven entertaining at least. This wasn’t his first time in this place, but it was far more active now than it had been before. And so many more dimensions and universes were connecting to it, it was in constant flux, and Seth found the resultant chaos revitalizing. He was a god of chaos, after all.

Truthfully, he had yet to actually publically proclaim himself a god. Oh, he had his followers, his temple was full of ghosts who would happily speak of the Sha and teach his dogma, but he didn’t go out and boast of his godhood, at least not yet. First things first, get the lay of the land. Look into the minds and hearts of these people, and find what made them happy. Adhira had taught him that lesson, and he had learned it well and taken it to heart. Following her suggestion had, thus far, served him quite well.

So when the temple had appeared in Hub with a slice of a new universe surrounding it, Seth had watched. He’d seen others approach, and subsequently leave. He had set for hours to see the ghosts from that world move about. Now, bored with waiting and watching and keen to do something adventurous, he had announced his plan to visit the temple in the bar, to see if there were any others whose curiosity matched his own.

Only one thus far. How disappointing. But she was an interesting creature as well, and so when he let his eyes fall on her, he smiled, “Ah, it is always nice to see a kindred spirit, is it not?” He motioned toward the temple, “Let us go in together. This place belongs to neither of us, but we share an interest in it.” He neither tried to lead nor follow as he turned back, walking sedately into the temple to have a good look around.

This place was interesting. He could see the simply beauty in the architecture, but it was foreign still. Peaceful and calm, at odds with the violence, the death that he could sense that had happened here. He didn’t reach out to any souls that might linger here; they had their own gods to care for them, though if they didn’t… Well, he could look into that after they’d explored a bit more.
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#4
The man turned and greeted her, and Natasha's impression, as he spoke was that this guy was weird. Weird in what way she wasn't sure of yet, but certainly weird, and certainly creepy. She wasn't sure why he called her a 'kindred spirit', but supposed that this went along with the weird and creepy thing he had going.

"Lead on." she said, falling into place a pace behind him and to his left, looking around at the strange architecture, and wondering at the odd emptiness of the building. Wondering for a little while, until they came upon the first of the bodies "That explains why its so quiet." she said, looking around to see if there was any sign of whoever it was that had done it.
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#5
Of course he was ‘weird’. He preferred the word ‘strange’ to ‘weird’, but he supposed that they were both accurate enough. No matter how he appeared at the moment, he was not human, not mortal, and thus of course mortals would find him strange, different from them. Creepy was a new one for Seth, but he supposed a god of the dead would be creepy enough to a mortal woman.

Kindred spirits because they had both been curious, and forward enough to act on it. He had heard the thoughts of others in the establishment, wondering about the temple, but thus far, only the red haired woman had opted to come with him and see what the temple was with her own eyes. He pitied the others. Such sheep. Cattle. He had offered to walk together, for neither of them to lead, but the woman seemed interested in following, and Seth was not one to deny a lady her preference, so he led, quietly, as they moved deeper into the temple.

Children. Oh, he had sensed the death, the violence of those deaths, but he hadn’t looked so closely at the souls that waited to be taken to their final rest. They were children, just young things, innocent and sweet. Who would have, could have, murdered children this way?

A god might have, since they were all human children, but for what purpose? Unlike what so many of the primitive human cultures believed, very few gods required blood sacrifice. He certainly didn’t; he saw enough of death, he didn’t need it brought to his doorstep. “Death moves on silent footfalls. There are few things in omniverse that can be quite as stealthy as Death when it wants to surprise you.” How frowned at the bodies, shaking his head, “This is a sad thing. So little meaning, so much waste. Who thought that this was an answer to any problem?” Death was inevitable, inexorable. Why bring it needlessly upon such innocence? Once, Seth might not have cared, once he would have looked at the mortal bodies with cold indifference, the way a farmer might look upon a herd of cattle dead from sickness, but he had spent centuries, even millennia, adapting to humanity as being more than mindless, and tonight it did affect him.

“The question we must ask ourselves is whether the perpetrator of this violence is still within the temple, or if they are now wandering our fair city. Neither are particularly pleasant ideas, frankly.”
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#6
Black Widow was not, as a rule, sentimental when it came to children. She'd been a child herself when she'd started going on missions for the Red Room, and she knew that children were not always innocent, or trustworthy, or helpless. Killing them, though-killing them was a waste. A waste of resources, of potential, of a future. Killing children, that angered her. Natasha was horrified, and saddened as well as feeling angry, and so was Natalia, but they were a little softer, a little more sentimental when it came to children, at least when it came to little ones who were petted and cossetted and allowed to be children.

And then the man started spouting what sounded like poetry, or some kind of half-baked philosophy "This wasn't silent." she replied, examining the wounds "I'm not sure what did this, either. Take a look-its not a gun, or any kind of blade I've seen. The wounds were cauterized as they were being made, but the angle of impact looks like a blade of some kind."

Black Widow nodded as he spoke "That is an issue. We should see if we can find someone alive in here. Or something that tells us who or what did this."
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#7
One might think that, as a god of death, Seth would be accustomed the sight of the dead. Of dead children, more specifically. And he was, he was. That didn’t mean he enjoyed it and it didn’t mean it wasn’t a sad thing to see, no matter how many times he had laid eyes upon the too-small corpses.

There were so many. A part of him reached out toward the children, not a frightening presence for those departed souls, but a comforting one. Dark and quiet, but gentle and kind at the same time. These souls might not be fully innocent, but they were young and confused and scared, and Seth was not an unkind god, not to those who didn’t deserve unkindness. Even as the comforted the dead children, his physical avatar snarled, eyes narrowing as he sought the doer of these terrible deeds.

“The murderer was not silent. The murdered not silent, no.” He glared back at the woman who had unwittingly accompanied a death god into the scene of a massacre, “But Death, they who did not perpetrate these actions but was instead forced to release the souls of those who fell here, is a silent entity.” He frowned, “A mortal did this. Always so eager to blame Death for the violence of man, aren’t you? Has it occurred just how exhausting and depressing it is to clean up after this?” he motioned to the bodies, all but spinning in place before his hands clenched. No other gods were present, there was no one here to guide those poor too-young souls to rest. Heaving a heavy sigh, he grimaced, “A moment, my good lady. There is work for me to do here.”

He didn’t seem to move, he closed his eyes and lifted his chin a moment. Just a moment, and then his head lowered once more, his eyes opening slowly, black from pupil to sclera. Seth saw, he always saw, but as he worked now, his presence filled the chamber and beyond, finding the souls here and guiding them to the Underworld, where they could rest. He claimed them, all of those who were thus far unclaimed, he took as his own, protecting them, caring for them, comforting them.

“A firebrand of some sort.” It might be uncomfortable for a mortal to look at his eyes like this for the first time, but Seth could not find it in himself to care overly much just now. “Whoever did this,” his smile was hostile, “I would like to meet them.” There could be no mistaking what he meant - this was no curiosity, it was nothing gentle; it was a promise of pain, of suffering, of punishment.

Fixing the woman with his black gaze, Seth’s voice grew almost sibilant, “One of their own. A man. Someone they trusted.” And that… For that, this young man would find no mercy should Seth ever lay eyes and hands upon him.
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#8
"I assumed it was a metaphor, I apologize." Black Widow said, formally and a little bit stiffly, stepping back while this being did whatever it was he'd needed to do. Not a man, exactly, although she wasn't quite sure what he was. She didn't believe in any gods, and meeting Asgardians had made her even more firm in her lack of belief. But clearly he was doing something, and now wasn't the time to be picking fights with her only ally in this place.


And then his eyes turned black. In her experience, that was a never a good thing, but Black Widow had been taught never to show fear if doing so wouldn't be helpful, and she got the idea that this being would be more dangerous if he thought she was afraid. Besides, it appeared that she and this being were on the same side of things, which meant that she really didn't have anything to be afraid of. The person who'd done this, though? They had quite a lot to fear.

"I'd like to meet them as well." Natasha replied. She didn't ask how he knew those things, it seemed best not to ask at the moment, when it was taking all of her willpower not to break eye contact first. "Can you track him?" she asked instead.
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#9
The change in the atmosphere between them didn’t go unnoticed. In a way, this woman reminded him of an old friend; one of the very few mortals who had truly known him in his very long life. One of the even fewer who had been willing to call him out when he annoyed her. When he grew too centered on himself. Or when he was, as rarely as it happened, wrong. He missed that woman. “I suppose were I human, it might have been a metaphor. But I am not human, which makes matters a sight more complicated.”

In all the eons of his existence, Seth had never approached a human and told them they must believe him a god. In fact, especially in this place, he rarely bothered to tell people that was what he was. Mortals usually required proof, evidence, and Seth preferred to allow them to draw their own conclusions, to make their decisions on their own. He had no pressing need to be recognized for what he was; he had no lack of followers, no lack of power or time. There was no burning need to prove himself.

The darkening of his eyes was an effect of what he was doing; part of him that could not be seen by living mortals who were not gifted, touched by himself (or another god of death), delved beyond the veil and guiding the poor souls of those unfortunate children to their rest. Black was just another color, a dark one, but no more bad or good than any other color. His lips quirked up as she considered and gave thought to her situation, her fear, and ultimately decided it was unnecessary. “No, you don’t. And yes, he really does, doesn’t he?” Because the man who had perpetrated this had the attention of a seemingly dangerous woman and a very annoyed god of death.

Annoyed and often overworked.

It took time to ferry the souls of the deceased to the Underworld, especially seeing how many their were and that they were all so young, so frightened, and Seth had no interest in making their ordeal worse by being less than soothing. “The dead are easier for me to find by far. But if he is still here, in this place, we will find him.” He turned from her then, “I think, when we do meet this person… I might pity them. Perhaps.” He glanced over to the woman, his eyes slowly returning to their previous hazel coloring, “Unless I remember these children. I do have a good memory.”
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#10
"Yes, I did notice that." Natasha said dryly, as she started to try to get her feet back under her. Which, naturally, was when the being decided to make it clear that he could read her thoughts. At least some of the time. Which was disconcerting, to say the least. Natalia had spent years learning to control what went on in her head, and her skill in doing so was the only reason why Natalia Romanova still existed in any meaningful sense of the word. Still, there was no need to call overt attention to her discomfort. Especially not when the being was no doubt aware of it already.

"I think that I'll save my pity for the children." Natasha replied, her tone cold "At the end of the day, everyone makes their choices. Bounded and conditioned, yes, but this person had the choice to make, and chose to become the person who would do this."
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#11
Oh, she had noticed his lack of humanity, had she? “Well, that’s observant of you.” the tone he used was dry, but not unamused. It was rather refreshing to have a mortal who would call things as she saw it, show him her perspective, again. Eternity got boring when everyone always said you were right. Having that one or two people around who would challenge you from time to time was, in its own way, lovely. Natalia thought it was disconcerting to have someone able to read her mind? Imagine being the individual doing so! Seth sighed and let his attention drop from the woman’s mind, leaving only a thread of connection remain; should she decide to take some sort of action against him or become alarmed, he would know, but his moment-to-moment reading of her thoughts stopped. He didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, he enjoyed her presence.

Save her pity for the children. “Why?” he turned to look at her, “They are at peace now. They are not unhappy.” Seth had seen to that in his capacity as a god of death, personally escorting the souls of the children who had died here to the Underworld, to a place of rest and respite. Some might leave at some point in time, be reborn or resurrected in some other way, but many would remain in his domain for a long time. “Indeed, we all make our choices.” He looked around them, then shook his head, “We all have blood on our hands, my good lady. There are few mortals alive who can claim true pacifism.” His hazel eyes met hers and he smiled, “I can see the touch of death on you; you can make no such claim. Do you truly believe you have the right and cause to judge another for their own choices without knowing more than their actions?” He had killed his brother, but he’d had reason to do so. What might she make of that knowledge? First to hear her answer to his question, though...
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#12
"I do my best." Natasha said dryly, deciding that treating this being like she would anyone else that she'd found herself working with on a job. It was easier than letting herself become intimidated by him, and what he might be capable of.

Then, of course, he laid out an explanation, and asked questions that showed exactly how not-human he was. "I'm sure it seems that way, from your point of view." she said, polite, but also not giving an inch "From my perspective, I see children who had years of life, years of potential ahead of them. What they could have been, what they could have grown into, all of that is gone now. I suppose you can tell me that something of them is left, and that they've moved on to another plane of existence, but that doesn't change the fact that here and now, this life is over for them."

She considered his words carefully, and found herself answering honestly. No point in lying, really, not if he could read her thoughts "I've killed people that should have been left alive." she said "But never children. I know it doesn't make sense to you, but it does to most humans. Including the person who did this thing. There are some things that cannot be justified. Some lines that can't be crossed. This is one of them. So yes, for this, I judge him. And you do as well, I think."
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#13
Humans being intimidated by who and what he was was nothing new, and it was entirely boring. Oh, he didn’t blame them, and he understood why the felt the way they did, but that didn’t make it any more entertaining. But once in a while, every few generations perhaps, you might, if you were looking for it, find a human who had the ability to fight past that forced timidity and speak their mind, even to a god. Natasha’s dry statement, her treatment of him as someone she was on a level with, earned an honest smile from Seth as he tipped his head to her, “Something all should strive to achieve.”

When the assassin-spy spoke, Seth listened, taking in her explanation about how humans viewed death and the loss of it. It made sense, in a way; the children that those who had known them in this life were gone, lost to his domain. They might, some of them, on some level or another, hope or suspect that those souls would be born again, but that did not mean they would be precisely the individuals that they had known. In that way, yes, those children were lost. “True enough. To you, these children are dead and gone. They have moved on to another plane of existence, and it is possible that they will return to the one they were on previously at some point, but no, those lives are over and done. But their existence is not, and that should be something to be celebrated, is it not?” He paused a moment, then asked her, “So then, when a mortal grieves for a lost loved one, it is for themselves they grieve, yes? Not so much the loss of the departed, they are off on their continued adventure; but the loss of them, that is what is mourned?” That made sense; the mortals he had known and cared for in the past had seemed to lament that those they had lost would no longer be a part of their lives more than that the lives of the dead were over and done.

“You’re wrong about that.” The words were quiet, but not whispered as the God turned his attention on the red haired woman, hazel eyes falling on her with a quiet sadness in them. “It makes sense to me that killing a child is held to a different level of evil than killing an adult. Adults are capable of defending themselves, they are informed and aware. A child is…” His face contorted into an expression that conveyed sadness, but also distaste, “Not. Mortal children,” he specified, “Are innocent. Lovely little creatures, children, trusting and guileless. So very different than what they will grow to become, like any predators’ young.” He lifted one shoulder and then let it fall in the approximation of a half shrug, “We all judge others, my friend.” He tilted his head as he looked at her, “Would you judge him the same for killing a box of lion cubs? Or a dolphin calf, if you are one to make the argument for intellect and awareness?” Or was it only her own specie that she had so much empathy for?
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#14
"Its a comfort." she replied, after thinking about the answer for a moment "Certainly its better than this" she gestured at the tiny bodies laying around the room "being the end of the story for them. But its a comfort, not something to be celebrated. They are still gone, they've still lost the chance they had to make something of this life." what did humans mourn? that was a complicated question, and one that she'd experienced up close over the last few months "We mourn for ourselves, because of what we've lost, and we also mourn for all of the years that the person who died lost. All of the things they might have done, choices they might have made, things that might have done."


"I think you have a more indulgent view of children than I do." Natasha said "But yes, the lucky ones are like that." she hadn't been one of the lucky ones, but that went unspoken "It isn't that they are better than adults, its that they have more time, more choices, more life in front of them. So when they are killed, they lose more. "I don't kill animals if I can help it." Natasha said shortly .
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#15
A comfort. Seth looked at the bodies - he would have his priests attend to this place, care for those who had passed. Charon did not like to work for free, but Seth had shepherded the souls here to the Underworld personally, and thus his underling hadn’t needed to work. Still, there were things that his priests could do for the children to put them more at ease, and to keep further visitors from coming across this macabre scene. Seth looked at the woman, his eyes quietly sad, “The unfortunate truth of the world, of any world, is that there are always many children who do not have such a chance. Even were you to cease violence done by man upon man in every way, my dear lady, there would always be so many children in my kingdom.” And while it was a fact, and while Seth was made all the more powerful for those young souls, he was obviously saddened by the words he spoke. Children were… Children. And thinking of them inevitably led to thinking of his own son, so long dead, and that was not a path his mind wanted to wander down, not in the presence of a mortal who would be so fragile in the face of his rage. Instead, he focused on what she had to say about mourning. “A good answer, and one that I can respect in its honesty.” He nodded, “Good things to mourn.”

Indulgent view of children. Seth chuckled, “All children are born innocent. Even those children who are violent or angry are possessed of innocence when they are born. Even children of my kind, who are so similar and so different than children of yours, are born with an innocence. But the world erodes that shell, and leaves us who we become rather than the children we begin as. For some, that shell is cracked and chipped away at far more quickly, or more violently, than others. But does that not mean that they deserve all the more compassion?” Seth had taken the lives of children. Of his own children even. But he had still hated to do it. How terribly, he wondered, would this woman judge him if she knew his past deeds? “Again, you are speaking of mortal children alone. But I would agree with your statement under that particular pretense, yes.” He smiled, “Animals are innocent as well. I prefer to refrain from killing them, but there are moments of need that cannot be ignored.” He spread his hands in a very ‘what can you do’ gesture, then smiled, “I think I like you.” He offered her one of his hands to shake, a mortal gesture he had learned long, long ago, “Please, call me Seth.”
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#16
"No world is going to be perfect." she agreed with a shrug "That doesn't mean that this doesn't matter. Or that I can stand here and let the world continue to be little bit worse, because the person who could do this is walking around." Natasha didn't know if he'd agree or not, but she was telling the truth as she saw it, not trying to feed him an anwer he'd like. "I'm glad you approve." she said dryly, because she hadn't sought his approval for her mourning. Still, there was some comfort in knowing that someone who was familiar with death thought that she was mourning the right things.

"Maybe." Natasha replied "I'm not sure that they're a blank slate, but I'm not saying that the ones who aren't allowed to be innocent don't deserve compassion. Just that not all children stay sweet and innocent for very long, and that some of them find their claws sooner than others.'

And then the being announced that he liked her. Natasha wasn't quite certain how she felt about that-a little like she'd been befriended by a sandstorm, if she was being honest, but it wasn't something she was going to turn down either. "Natasha" she said, shaking his hand.
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#17
“No, there are no perfect worlds.” He spread his hands, “I have tried, it is simply not possible. There is no creature whose nature lends toward perfection.” Not even gods, and oh, what a blow to the ego that could be, but it was true. “It matters.” He looked at the bodies of the children, “Consider the damage to the soul this causes to the one who perpetrated this. That soul will be marked for a very long time. Enough that should we come across him, I will know it was him.” And Seth had no intention of leaving such a man to reproduce such an act. The look that he gave her at her dry words was knowing, but cheeky, “It’s good to be able to approve. Many people mourn the wrong things.”

“I said innocent, not blank. And yes, you’re right. Some children learn the cruelty of the world much earlier than others. And still others grip to their innocence with a tenacity that is as amazing as it is fierce, even in the face of the world’s truths.” Seth envied and pitied those in turns.

A woman who was lethal and dangerous, but who valued innocence and did not enjoy hurting animals? Who would hunt those who murdered children? Yes, Seth could like someone like that. And she was so blunt and honest with him, so forthright. “Natasha. I wish we had met in a kinder, warmer place, and yet, I think if we had, I would like you less.” He gave her a genuine if small smile and turned back to the massacre, “My people will come and care for the children’s bodies. I suggest we head further in, see what, if anything, there is left to see.”
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#18
"Good." Natasha replied "I'm glad that you'll be able to recognize him. Glad that you think I'm mourning the right things. I'm new at it." She'd been raised to live without mourning, without regret, and although she'd learned about regret, in the years she'd spent with SHIELD, until she'd lost James she'd never really mourned anyone.

Natasha found herself starting to trust this being. Not completely, she'd never do that on the first meeting, but he seemed to be capable of compassion, and if he wasn't human, he wasn't a monster either. She could deal with that. "Thank you, I think." she replied "For what its worth, I'm glad that I followed you here, and I think that I could like you, once I've gotten to know you better." since he could read her thoughts, there was no point in being anything less than honest "Yes, lets keep going." she agreed, glad that he had people who could clean this up, could give the children a proper burial. She'd have done it herself, but cleaning up bodies wasn't something that she enjoyed.
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#19
Seth smiled at Natasha’s words, giving her a nod. “I will. Would you like me to point him out to you if we come across him?” He asked the question with a small, knowing smile; of course he expected that she would want to know who it was, so that she could go take her vengeance upon him for the children who had perished at his hands. Seth didn’t blame her, didn’t judge her for this. The second thing… His face grew more serious, and he spread his hands toward her slightly, “My sincerest hopes you have little cause to practice it in your future.”

Nodding, he chuckled, “We will like who we like, and dislike those who diverge too far from our ideals. But it is always pleasant to find one of the first rather than the second.” Kindred spirits, and even those who were different, but still held to enough of the same ideals and interests were something to be cherished, because there were bound to be far more who were too different, too alien, for any one person to like. Perhaps exceptions existed, people who were more open minded than most, but Seth knew himself too well to pretend to be one of those people. “Of course.”

The rest of the temple was in much the same condition as what they’d seen, devoid of life, but with more bodies and souls for Seth to stop and send to his kingdom. His, because they had nowhere else to go… Poor souls, so young, all of them. He was sad for them, not because their lives were done, but as Natasha had said, there was no much they had yet to experience, so much potential that had been ended before it could begin. So much waste.
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