Sunday, October 5, 2014

Shadowgate - What I Expected Didn't Happen (Part 2)
I entered Castle Shadowgate a pitiful buffoon and exited a seasoned adventurer.


"The light grows faint, the path winds round. Where life is lost, wisdom is found."

As if.



I returned to Shadowgate after a long layoff equipped with the information on how to legitimately infiltrate the fire room (I had to resort to asking either my brother or one of his friends--I don't remember which). However, I found out on my own that I could toss the reusable sphere into the surrounding flames and extinguish them along with that nasty drake that long tormented me.

There were some fun deaths to be had here, including tossing the hero into the superheated residual tar pit and relighting the flames with the torch, which caused him to catch fire and be "burned to the bone." How lovely.


I generally liked the artwork in this version of Shadowgate, but I wasn't sure what they were going for with the design of this troll. I mean, why is he missing his lower extremities? "Is he one of those rare floating trolls, or is it that they couldn't be bothered to draw the rest of him?" I wondered. It's still a mystery.

Nothing else about this room really resonated with me. I took out the troll with the spear and summarily skipped past him in successive visits using the Humana spell, whose use here was rather obvious. I would occasionally try to buy him off with gold coins (rather than those brass slugs, which I knew he hated), hoping we could do legitimate business and establish some type of rapport, but he'd just keep acting like a belligerent schmuck. 

He went on to become the world's first Youtube commenter.


To finally hear a brand new tune after so many months of stifled progress felt like the most appropriate reward for what I considered a true gaming victory. I was here in what I sensed was the second half of the game. "I made it." I took some time to bathe in the startlingly beguiling music, which created an atmosphere of uneasy calm that momentarily distracted me from the menacing cyclops that dominated the backdrop. "The moon casts a brilliant shadow over the grounds of the courtyard," the description read, creating for me another brilliant visualization.

Still, I didn't know what a "courtyard" was, and the game's weird inference made me wonder where, exactly, I was currently standing. It suggested that Castle Shadowgate was just ahead of me. "If that's true," I thought, "then where the hell was I for the past five months? What was all that stuff back there?"

The cyclops' threat worked to create contrasting emotions and a worried contemplation ("What if I don't have the weapons I need? What if I get stuck again?"). I was right to worry; as a lover of mythology, the solution would have been immediately apparent to me had I actually possessed an appropriate weapon. I had stones, yes, but not a sling, which was locked away in the entry hall's closet; it took a renewed investigation into the early portions of the game to discover that I could "open" that tome to find Key 2, which unlocked the closet.

It took another day or two to actually procure the means. I returned here with the sling, loaded it up with a stone, and set my mark. The magically influenced bull's-eye in following was accompanied by one of my favorite lines from the game: "Death to the Philistine!", which I enjoyed repeating even in instances where it barely applied.

It wasn't until maybe a year later that I became aware of the fact that you could permanently kill the cyclops by stabbing him with the sword (which was located in the same room as the sling, not coincidentally); it was Dominick who informed me of this, as he and his family had since become interested in the game and made discoveries of their own. Until then, I had to make sure not to do any unnecessary backtracking, since stones were limited (well, actually, the stones respawn in their original locations en masse if fully depleted, as do some other items).

Once again, the game's peculiar use of nomenclature almost had me stumped, since it didn't feel intuitive to "open" the bucket I had raised from the well. How do you "open" something that has no top? Simply gauging its interior with the "Look" command should have sufficed.


Now that I was "actually in Castle Shadowgate," I believed, there were naturally more doors waiting for me--three of them, in fact. I headed through the lower-left door and into a library, whose newly heard theme was abrasively inquisitive, as if I was getting up in its owner's personal space. There were a lot of important items for me to find, including scrolls, a magic book, and a key, and there was another of those gem-shaped holes (my powers of deduction not really needed for this one).

This became one of my favorite rooms not for its stacked item cache but for its book collection, which at the time I wasn't studious enough to consider examining. When I discovered years later that you could read the left shelf's individual books, I felt as though I'd unlocked some kind of hidden knowledge. I liked returning here to read about the subjects they covered--books like The Circle of Twelve, which discussed an "ancient organization of wizards" whose members included Lakmir, our unseen master, and Talimar, who broke away from the group and became known as "The Warlock Lord." Another was The History of War, which covered the Warlock Lord's first power grab as thwarted by the other Circle members.

There was also Castle Shadowgate, which explained the stronghold's nature and identified its encircling, impenetrable mountains as "the Gatekeeper." It always brought to mind images of an enormous castle being guarded on all sides by tall, spooky mountains (like the ones I'd see later on); also, the passage "the walls of the castle are quite alive" perfectly encapsulated the castle's mystical quality.

There were other books about gods and dragons, but they weren't as interesting. The right shelf had no unique material, since it's role was to slide away once the red gem was placed in the adjacent hole. 

The secret living-room area beyond the bookshelf had a large fireplace and an item-stacked globe that could be cracked open using the Terrakk spell. Though, what was most curious to me was narrator's use of the word portal to describe the room's window, since I'd never seen the word associated with anything other than teleportation devices. Just like that, my understanding of language had improved.

Also, I thought the description of the portal's view made for another strong visual image: "Through this portal you can see the moon hovering over the darkened mountains."


The lab had a lot of new toys to play with--most prominently an oddly shaped pot containing a disgusting body-altering liquid. Drinking from it once would cause "blue hairs" to begin growing on the hero's hands, but I couldn't experiment further because he'd resist my attempts to ingest more of the stuff. Too bad.

Interacting with the handle seen jutting from the fake white stone made for another example of the game's sometimes-ill-defined commands; that is, I had to "Use" the handle to pull up its hidden receptacle where "Open" seemed more logical (they made me "open" a topless bucket, of all things, so why not this?). This weird locution resulted in another prolonged session where I exhausted the use of every item and combination thereof trying to wedge open the stone when a simple command was all that was needed. I mean, I eventually caught on that it was wise to first try out all of the basic commands before thinking up more-complicated solutions, but a first-timer might have been prone to overlook such designations and become stuck forever.

Opening the latch on the wall's cage released a mutated dog that liked to pounce on me and rip me apart. I wouldn't have opened it so many times had I not been convinced that the space within was a viable exit point. You know--if I could just somehow tame that dog and squeeze my way in there (I concluded that it had to lead back to the "Epor" room, whose barred portals "revealed the presence of a concealed animal," which could have been this mutated dog).

The lab's descending exit looked to carry me down into a dark cavern.


Or a small garden, naturally. The "fountain room," as I called it, featured a return of the courtyard's uneasily calm music, which I thought worked better in this more-mysterious environment. "But where is this?" I wondered. I saw two evergreens and a tree, but there was nothing to suggest that the lab's exit led to an outside location. "Is it possible to grow a mini-forest inside a castle?" I preferred not knowing, actually--such incongruities only heightened the game's mystique for me.

I always wondered about what could be lurking behind those hugging evergreens. Was someone watching me from behind the bushes? Was there a pack of miscreants camping back there? Maybe the Fratellis? Only the artist knows.

I hadn't yet figured out the mystery of "opening" a well's topless bucket, so I didn't possess the gauntlet whose protection was necessary for removing the flute from atop the acidic water's jets (and I wouldn't for a while). I also wasn't quite prepared for the unpleasant consequences of trying to drink from the fountain: "You can't even scream because you no longer have a throat, let alone a larynx!!" Simply horrifying.

I thought it was rather clever how they assigned the flute immediate use, since I suspected that most people wouldn't think to try out a new item inside the room in which they found it. I stumbled into its correct operation due to my compulsion to immediately sample new items (like the bottles that tended to melt my innards), but I was still sure that it was a sticking point for many other players.

When I returned to Shadowgate after playing through Deja Vu, my mind was blown when I realized that the flute's six-note melody matched the opening sequence in Ace Harding's theme. It was just a simple reference, but at the time, it was the most amazing thing that ever happened in life.

I just wanted to let that last thought sink in.

Once back "inside" the castle, I headed toward the banquet hall, which had--yes--three more doors, all of them locked. The only thing special about this hall, itself, was the rug whose center could be burned away to reveal a key. Since I was a rug-hating pyromaniac, I was bound to find it normally, but the game's layer-processing glitch disappointingly gave away the secret. Though it didn't really bother me, it seemed like pretty sloppy programming

Now that I had all of the keys, I decided to try the top-right door first.


The sphinx, acting in-character, wouldn't let me pass unless I correctly answered one from of a handful of riddles, which could be solved by finding the cryptically described objects and presenting them to him. No amount of searching was ever necessary, since I'd usually have every possible collectible on hand--the sphinx's existence being the perfect excuse for my obsessive hoarding. I never had any problem coming up with the correct solutions, either, since the riddles were kind of insulting; his horseshoe riddle, for instance, concluded with the words "...then stepped on by long-faced animals." It was the first time I sensed that the writing might have been dumbed-down for some unknown reason.

Otherwise, I never even noticed the markings on the stairway--not until after I'd actually finished the game, when it was far too late. They represented a rather important clue that would have been helpful (read: time-saving) at the time.

Up the stairs was the unspectacular observatory, whose puzzle revolved around a dual-purpose object--the star chart as seen on the wall's right side. Its depicted star was actually a protrusion that could pulled off and collected, and the chart, itself, could be "opened" (slid downward) to find an obscured lightning rod. The game was expecting me to disregard the possibility that the map held anything else besides the star, but it outsmarted itself by teaching me beforehand that it was worthwhile to try "opening" every object--even those for which the term didn't logically apply. "Not this time, Shadowgate."

Up the ladder I went.


Reading the room's description, I figured one of two things had happened: Either this "beautiful" woman was poorly drawn or the hero had been hitting the bottle. My first instinct was to rescue ("Take") her, which quickly led to the discovery of her true nature (she was actually a bloodthirsty wolf in disguise). 

But how could I have known she had a true form without failing initially? Speaking to her yielded narrator feedback "It doesn't seem to understand what you say," but I wasn't sure if that was a warning or just a canned response. Thankfully, Shadowgate didn't harshly punish players for their fatal mistakes (it simply sends you one room back), so I had carte blanch to stab away with every sharp object in my possession until the arrow revealed itself to be the correct impaling weapon.

Still, from a storyline perspective, it seemed a bit presumptive to plunge an arrow into a woman with little evidence that she was actually a disguised beast, particularly when you just identified her as "captivating." "What if you were wrong?" I questioned.

After considering such possibilities, I exited back to the banquet hall and explored its two other passages. I don't remember where I went first, so I'll start with the top-left entrance.


This turret base (as I surmised by what rested above it) held only one object of interest: A horn that was simply laying there, ripe for the taking--or so it seemed until I attempted to snag it and was greeted by an unwelcoming fireball. The flames morphed into a vicious-looking hellhound, a menace for which I long had no answer. I concluded that I had to douse it with water, but I had no means of doing so; I tried filling my bottles and test tubes with water from the fountain and even the cave waterfall, but nothing worked. Since I never thought to "Use" that discolored stone back in the lab, I lacked its receptacle's hidden item, the holy water, that was effective for banishing creatures from Hell.

I got so frustrated that I had to take another week-long break. When I came back, I had to resort to visiting every room and trying every command on every viable object. That's how I ultimately discovered the lab's secret.

On a side note: I thought it was strange that those "standing torches" were actually called "braziers," which made me uncomfortable, since the name sounded more liked an old woman's undergarments. *shudder*


Up the ladder was the turret (a "small tower," the dictionary told me, as opposed to gun base). What stuck with me most about my first encounter with the wyvern was my misreading of its description, which I remembered as having painted it as "a baby dragon." I fancied myself some kind of expert and pointed out this "fact" anytime I'd watch friends play through an RPG whose enemy list included a wyvern. Hopefully they weren't listening.

I'd learned by now not to touch an available item when a monster was hovering near it, so my first order of business was to take out the blue terror. And, truthfully, it didn't take long to guess that the heavy "star" was its weakness, since there weren't many battering items left in my inventory. Its brutal death description left another one of those scarring mental images: "It strikes the wyvern and it explodes into a million pieces." Ouch. (Though, I was never really sure if it was talking about the wyvern or the star, but with Shadowgate I always assumed the worst.)

The turret image in particular stirred my imagination. I could visualize what it'd be like to be standing atop a tower as a flying dragon circled evasively, waiting for an opportunity to strike. What completed my mind's rendering was the narrator's observation that "The sky foretells the coming of a great storm," which made the predicament seem more ominous and urgent. Of course, in a game presented in static pictures, that storm would never come, but it was still fun to imagine how this same scene would play out amidst a fierce thunderstorm.


The banquet hall's bottom passage led to a hallway that was imbued with a theme I hadn't yet heard; not only did this rousing, wonderfully invigorating music capture the thrill of infiltrating new territory and making real progress--it was one of those instances of entrancement (as dicussed in my DuckTales piece) when all I could do was set aside the controller and just listen for a few minutes. This elusive new tune quickly became my favorite, and I didn't want to take any action that might interrupt it. In future play-throughs, I was always sad when it was time to exit this area, since the music in the surrounding rooms lacked the same energy (though, I made sure to record it with my tape recorder so I could always have access to it). For now, the "Irish-sounding music," as I called it, continued following me out onto the balconies on the left.

To complement the music, the balcony had my favorite depiction: The mountainous backdrop whose visual spoke to the castle's size and strength; its assemblage gave form to "The Gatekeeper," whose darkened, impenetrable peaks were no doubt being faintly illuminated by that unseen "hovering moon" I'd read about earlier. The mental image of a castle as guarded by an oppressive mountain range combined with the enchanting music created a strongly visualized scene that has stewed about my imagination ever since. 

The lookout point to the left, with its mostly obscured mountain background, didn't invoke the same type of feelings, but it featured some of my favorite speech from the game--that I'd fallen for "the oldest trick in the book" by touching the gold pot and triggering a trap. It was the literal interpretation of what became an oft-repeated idiom--"fool's gold," which I forevermore used to describe temptingly placed power-ups like the 1up in Cut Man's stage and the pizza in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's compacting-spikes room. Even 11-year-old me suspected that reaching for the pot would prove quite fatal. Not that I didn't do it, anyway, since I was curious to see what hellishly described death awaited.

So I instead grabbed the bag, which contained gold coins, and headed for the hall's right exit.


There rested the castle's throne room with, I guess, its former ruler. I believe my brother spoiled for me that I had to place the scepter in the skeleton's hand, but I don't think it would have been too difficult to figure out regardless. The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the game's handling of the aftermath: I thought it was disappointing that the sliding panel's hole was described as "ring-shaped," which instantly gave away the solution. It was unwelcoming hand-holding in a game that otherwise had given me nothing. "Why start now?"

Speaking of hand-holding: The description's hint made no sense to me: "There seems to be something in his hand." Was it referencing the axe, or was it hinting that I should put something in the skeleton's empty hand? So I kept examining his hands, hoping I could pry something from his grasp. It reminded me of those manual/guide explanations where I could tell that the writer had never even seen the object he was describing. 

The secret passage below the throne led down to another stone passageway--this one with two exits. The one to the right was a trap wherein the ceiling collapsed and "crushed every bone in your body." It was yet another of Shadowgate's unfair don't-know-until-you-try scenarios.


The passage's north exit gave way to a gloomy cavern. And again, I couldn't have known until trying that the left path was fatally inaccessible. At least for now. It's this room's escalated manner of death that fueled my growing suspicion that the authors of this game were absolutely psychotic. I mean, what kind of people are capable of thinking up vivid descriptions like "The gargoyles rip you to pieces!!" as punctuated by traumatic aftermath like "There's not enough left of you to even feed to the birds"? I imagined the game's writers as a clique of young, black-shirt-wearing Jack Nicholsons feverishly pounding away at their keyboads with sinister grins across their faces.

I figured out how to get past them (use the "Illumina" spell), but I couldn't make further progress from there, so I instead headed to the unguarded entrance on the right, which led to a lava-filled room.

The music hinted at extreme danger, but there was only a statue of a devil holding smoldering coals; the puzzle surrounding it wasn't difficult to solve (by now it was my standard procedure to first try all of the spells, which made my use of "Motari" academic). There weren't any real threats in this room, but it did feature one of the game's most hilarious lines. On my senselessly diving into the lava pit: "You are brave, warrior, but stupid!!" I could only imagine what kind of deranged idiot would think it a good idea to dive into a fiery pit, screaming triumphantly, as a means of solving a mystery.

The platform's extending bridge carried me to a "dark and eerie cavern."


This room was a huge pain. I didn't catch on to the hint--those markings on the stairs in the sphinx room--so my process for manipulating the levers was to exhaust every possible permutation; for some reason, none of the combinations were yielding results. I was stumped until my brother informed me that I could raise a lever that had been previously lowered (until then, I assumed doing so would reset the switchboard). After a number of additional attempts, I raised the "metal cylinder" (or the "white tire stack," as I originally identified it) and acquired the orb that rested within.

I wasn't aware until much later that you could "Move" into the adjacent pit and awaken the unnamed ... winged yeti?! Though, I guess the only real surprise here was the author's restraint in limiting the death description to "He decides to eat you for breakfast!!" when I was sure the it would also entail the gory details of my preparation and digestion.

There was just no time to be scarfed down--I had to figure out what was up with that well beyond the gargoyles' stare.


Now, the correct order of operations here was obvious: You see a well, you crank open its cover and toss in a coin. There was no problem there. No--what occupied all of my attention was that un-openable door on the left. I can't tell you how much time I spent poring over this room and subsequently scouring the entire castle searching for some super-obscure mechanism that I was convinced had to open it. "Maybe I can sneak behind the well," I also thought, since it looked to be attached to a rotating wall. Nothing. I went back and skimmed through every issue of Nintendo Power, including those recently back-ordered, hoping that any edition of Classified Information or Counselor's Corner addressed it. I even continued checking future issues, certain that they'd one day spill the beans.

What lay beyond that door, I imagined, was nothing less than an entire lost world that held within its boundaries the secrets of life. (Update: There was no way to open it.)

The line resultant from tossing in the big coin resonated with me: "It reminds you of the small 'dust devils' you see in the autumn months." When you were as unlearned as I, descriptions of such events read as absolutely magical. Autumn was my favorite season, so I was sure that a "dust devil" was something magnificent. (Update: Well, no--not really.)


Shadowgate, by way of its powerful, imagination-stirring subject-matter, had already made an indelible impression on me. Though, if it had one particular occurrence that helped cement its spot in my pantheon's highest tier, it was the well's magically transporting me onto the shores of the River Styx. Shadowgate wasn't short on mythological references, but this was the first time it introduced something that was intimately familiar to me: The river of death, which was recurring in my favorite mythological tales and also Clash of the Titans, a movie I'd just recently seen. Suddenly, the game had scope far beyond what I'd originally considered.

I knew exactly what I had to do: Strike the gong and summon Hades' ferryman. Of course, I fumbled around at first and tried hitting it with the war hammer and the sword, but basic observational skills soon led me to the correct solution (the mallet, which was hanging right there beside it). And there he was--the ghostly ferryman, his oar in hand and his skeletal frame cloaked by a tattered robe.

Everything lined up perfectly to create an unforgettable scene: The "Irish-sounding" music was echoing throughout my room. The ferryman was standing before me on his raft, awaiting his fare. And there was a sense of impending finality after all those months of struggle. 

I paid my gold coin and hurriedly boarded the raft, as suggested.


I'll never forget the narrator's conveyance that I was "standing on sacred ground," which I've used as an expression of unexpected advancement ever since. For me, though, this "sacred ground" came to represent adventure lost

See--while the correct operation for opening the skull door wasn't exactly brain-busting (fit the talisman into the correct talisman-sized niche and then play the horn), the entire endgame (mainly the activities required in the last two rooms) had already been ruined for me. That is, during one of my week-long layoffs, my brother and his friends had again temporarily moved the NES downstairs with the intent of finishing Shadowgate, which they failed to do the first time. For some reason, I decided to hang around and watch them do it, and as a result I completely robbed myself of any satisfaction I might have gained in figuring it out on my own.

Though, I didn't consider this advanced knowledge a complete roadblock to my fulfillment, because I still didn't know the formula for taking down the Behemoth (the scrolls' clues were kind of vague, after al)! Well, except for the fact that my brother made sure to drop by my room and blurt out the particulars of the Staff of Ages' construction, hoping to purposely ruin it for me. No--that made it all trivial.

He was still kinda mean.


So with the wind having been taken out of my sails, I backtracked to the dual-bridge room to procure the staff. I'd previously seen this "narrow alcove," since I already figured out that you could use Bottle 2 to float across the unstable bridge, but this time I had the snake's weakness in my arsenal. Really, I didn't know until years later that the snake was actually a statue, since I was afraid to "Look" at it, thinking that any action would incite it; I was as amused as the hero to find out that it wasn't real.

Thus, I fit the blade and the orb onto the staff, creating the ultimate weapon. Only one final task remained.


Of course, I already knew how to defeat the Behemoth, so there wasn't any drama to be had. All that was left was to do the deed and put a cap on one of the most challenging, mentally taxing games I'd ever played. It was a satisfying victory, however dimished.

The Behemoth was one of my favorite video-game bosses, and I made sure to include both he and his handler, the Warlock Lord, in all of my monster-based art projects (like my "Master of Evil" card series and all of my monster-battle collages); being that he was a favorite, I always gave him preferential treatment (exaggerated "Power" stats and such).


Not among my favorites were the ending sequence's crudely drawn castle guards with their lanky balloon-animal limbs. I realized that the designers reserved themselves only a cramped space in which to insert imagery, but the visual of this "majestic" throne room looked more like a scene broadcast from the Death Star's trash compactor. 

I liked the sobering victory music, at least. It was fine punctuation to what had been a long, arduous journey.

The ending's final line seemed to hint at a sequel, which I was excited for; it turns out, though, that it was just a fancy way of saying "The End." It was nice to dream, at least. Still, there were indeed others that would soon come along and fill the void, but I think I'll talk about them in depth in some other space.

Shadowgate and everything about it lingered with me for a long, long time. Even though I knew all of its solutions and could never forget them, I kept returning to the game simply to continue enjoying its engrossing musical score and soaking in its amazing atmosphere. I loved visiting each room and reading all of the previously missed object descriptions, trying to further visualize the game's world. Its use of language not only rendered the most vivid of images--it made an impact on both my creative endeavors and my vocabulary, which it helped shape. In fact, as intimated, I have in my vocabulary a long list of what I call "Shadowgate words," which I use almost in tribute.

I had completed Shadowgate, but I still wanted to believe that there was more to it even though it seemed that I'd found everything there was to find. I've discussed how I spent inordinate amounts of time trying to unlock un-openable doors and breach certain obstructions--all of which were nothing but red herrings--but I can't quite put into words how passionately I went about it. That was the true measure of Shadowgate's power.

I wanted more, so I made sure to purchase Kemco's other NES-converted MacAdventure titles just as soon as they appeared in stores (using my own money, this time); neither was quite as compelling as Shadowgate, but they managed to capture my imagination in much the same way.

But my hunger for more Shadowgate never ceased, and the N64 sequel, while under-appreciated, just wasn't enough. What I really wanted was to experience any of the original computer versions, to which I had no access. When the means finally became available (when I got a modern computer and emulation had advanced to that stage), I downloaded the Amiga and Windows versions and gave them a whirl. I don't know if I'm "disappointed" in them as much as surprised by how they play. 


 They feature the same content (save for superior writing and a pointless goblin room that was removed from the NES version in the name of space-saving), but their style is different--they're windows-based (you drag items to your inventory, where they stay visible) and elapse in real time; that is, you can't relax and just stand there while considering possibilites, since your torches only last a few minutes if that. In contrast, the torches in the NES version are programmed to begin fizzling out after, say, 44 actions and last forever if you don't move (which Let's Players and the like never seem to realize, typically freaking out upon hearing the warning music).


Playing through them always makes me feel sad that I missed out on the DOS and Mac scenes and the early days of point-and-click adventure games. I'm sure I would have enjoyed spending relaxing autumn days with a window popped open and a cold beverage at my side as I stared intently at the monitor, trying to figure it all out--not tempted by the distraction of modern conveniences like the Internet and cable TV with its 6,000 channels.


I was hesitant to become excited when it was announced that Shadowgate's original creators were remaking the game in celebration of its 25th anniversary. As in the case of DuckTales Remastered, I was afraid that they'd aim to conform to "modern standards" when the sensibilities that made Shadowgate so wondrous are married to a very different era. I do plan on picking it up one day, but I have a strong suspicion that it might lack much of the original's spirit.


For now, I'll stick with the NES version, whose haunted halls will continue to beckon my return for the same reasons they did so many years ago. It remains the most impactful adventure game I've ever played, credited with supplying a life-altering experience and opening my eyes to the wide world of text- and point-and-click-based games. I've been a fan ever since.
 

As I prepare to click "Publish," I know that although this literary quest is over, others await. After all: The blog readers will need new posts to eye-rollingly skim through and new stories to bore them.
 

The first story's end.

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