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Turning protagonists into antagonists for fun

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I had this odd thought the other day - Shallan would probably make for a poor antagonist. I just couldn't picture her as one (initially). But my purpose here isn't to say she couldn't be one, but to write an alternative and vaguely plausible history for her to turn her into one... for fun. Just to see what I can come up with. If you like this, please try to come up with your own ideas - bonus points for doing it to your favourite protagonist.


The branching point is when Shallan is 15. Her father finds out she's been drawing pictures of things he doesn't approve of and tosses her sketchbook into the fire. Her sketchbook. Her life's work. All gone. Her old memories are fully unlocked and she re-summons Pattern and uses Soulcasting to turn things into fire - the whole house. Everyone dies except Shallan.


This time she can't forget. She doesn't want to. But, she has no resources except her brain and her Surgebinding. She doesn't want to die - though she's not particularly attached to life either. She becomes a wandering thief. Sometimes when she has a good amount of money she will sketch and research natural history for a week or two. It doesn't bring her the joy it once did. She catches the eye of a professional thief called Tyn, who spots her potential.


Shallan is grateful for the ability to learn properly and progresses at an incredible rate, subtly augmented with some sneaky Surgebinding. Half a year later, Tyn is feeling proud of her apprentice but also nervous - she's running out of things to teach Shallan, who is becoming increasingly confident and self-assured. Shallan never spots this but Tyn feels threatened. Tyn decides to take upon a high-risk mission to assassinate Jasnah Kholin, sending Shallan on what she hopes to be a suicide mission. However, it's Tyn who dies instead - and Shallan blames Jasnah.


While Shallan respected Tyn, she was not especially loyal. For fun, she decides to lightly harass Jasnah instead. Nothing minor, or so she thought - writing graffiti on books Jasnah was planning to read, going through Jasnah's notes and using her Soulcasting to subtly (or sometimes blatantly) edit the words. Shallan is having fun... until one day she happens to hear Jasnah muttering in a dead tone all the things she plans to do when she captures the miscreant.


Shallan leaves the area in a rush and spends a year or two wandering around. Sometimes she feels in the mood to create works of art - she makes a small name for herself as a young, eccentric but gifted artist. One of her creations, a bowl of highly realistic but completely fake fruit ends up all the way in Azir and happens to end up in the hands of Lift, who is frustrated that she can't eat them. Shallan does turn to theft when she doesn't feel in the mood for art.


One day, Shallan happens across a slave auction, and feeling a bit flush with cash and in a whimsical mood decides to buy an interesting looking slave. At first, she acts like a proper lighteyed lady around him - makes him carry her when she's "too tired", lightly teases him, giggling at his reactions but isn't actively mean. A few days later he runs away. Incensed, Shallan tracks him down (with some help from Pattern) and now the gloves are off. With her summoned Shadeblade, Shallan makes it crystal clear just what he might lose if he ever disobeys her. Now, Shallan teases and plays pranks on him constantly - and also forces him to come help her with thefts. After a couple of occasions being chased by guards, his face ends up on wanted posters. This doesn't stop Shallan from using him though as she just weaves a disguise on him. One day, Shallan decides to rent him out as a model for some lighteyed women to sketch - a nude model. Shortly after that, Kaladin uses his medical knowledge to fake his own death to escape Shallan. He runs away to Alethkar, where he founds an underground resistance movement against lighteyed rule, taking over the capital when the queen starts a riot.


Shallan makes her way to the Shattered Plains - she decided she wants to sketch a chasamfiend. She spends a few months there before she gets a chance and during that time she finds an easy target in Adolin - after he dumps her the first time, she creates a new persona with a new look and dates him all over again. And again. She does this 10 times in a row without him ever catching on and decides to turn the tables by revealing what she did and dumping him. His pride and "reputation" in ruins, Adolin becomes an ardent and vows never to speak with women again.


Shallan finally gets to go on a hunt for a chasamfiend, among the king's party. Unfortunately for her, she's right where it appears after the baiting goes wrong. Her last words are "what a magnificent beast..."


-- The end --


Thanks for reading. Hope it was some lighthearted fun - I'm not really into grimdark alternatives or making protagonists go all evil.

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Mine starts with Elhokar as a teenager. He is forced to learn the art of sword fighting, but he is not really good at it. Not that he is deprived of talent, but he is lazy. He does not want to put any effort to it and yet, each time some other student gets the better of him, he whines, he complaints on how unfair the duel was. His sister Jasnah is annoyed by him. She feels she should be loyal to her brother, but she just can't help feeling exasperated by her brother unstoppable complaints.....................




Recently, to Elhokar utmost despair, his young cousin Adolin started being taught sword fighting. An informal thing as the kid was still too young to be taken in by a proper swordmaster, but he already was almost better than Elhokar. Almost. Everyone kept on talking on how talented little Adolin was. Sigh. It didn't help the insufferable pest kept on playing pranks on everyone, especially Elhokar. In fact, it seemed that wreck kid only victim was Elhokar. Just the other day, as he was trying to simply relax in a warm bath scented with lavender he was startled by a huge, fat and very vigorous cremlings creeping in his bath water. As the storming thing climbed up his leg, thus ruining a most deserved evening of relaxation after spending a whole day trying to look dignified next to his father, he jumped, startled and let out a wide scream of fright.


"Get it out, GET IT OUT" He yelled as he jumped out of his bath running out of the bathing chamber into the corridor. Then, he heard giggling and was soon ashamed to see Brightlady Iliani and Brighlady Carina turning around from the naked wet prince, red faced, but giggling nonetheless. He fumed. He then heard another laugh, no two other laughs which he recognized quite well...




"We are you hiding you storm cursed devil?" He didn't bother to went back for a towel as he rounded on the location of the laughs.


He found them hiding behind the statue of Paliah that ornamented this particular corridor. Two blond haired boys. Adolin and of course his younger brother, Renarin. Both boys stared at him wide eyed as he rounded on them, several angersprens dancing around his head.


"YOU, you and YOU" He said pointing one boy than the other.


Surprisingly, little Adolin stared back at him and held his glance a mischievous grin on his face.


"Renarin", he said quietly while looking slowly at his brother, "RUN."


Tiny Renarin crawled up quickly on his legs and did as told. He ran while Adolin pushed himself under Elhokar legs he ran in the other direction. Elhokar quickly spun on himself trying to catch up on his annoying cousin, but he slip on water dripping from him and fell on his butt. By the time Elhokar made it back to his feet, both boys had disappeared.


Storm he hated that little wretch of a kid. Always grinning, always happy, always positive and always finding his way out of trouble.


I'll get back at you Adolin. Someday. You are going to pay for making me look like a fool, over and over again.


Years later, Elhokar was the proud king of Alethkar. He WAS the king, no matter what people thought. He tried to make them remember once in a while by purposely ordering things to go his way, no matter if counsel asked otherwise. They claimed what he called authority was in fact, tantrums, but they weren't really. They were just assertions of his power and lately, sprens have come forward in agreement. At first, he had been scared. Then, he had wondered if it weren't the wine creating illusions, but when the sprens have started to talk to him, he had listen. Music to his ears. How they praised him! The one true king, the one who has the courage to make difficult decisions such as putting deserving but well liked people into prisons. How noble he was!


Then he heard about the Radiants and he knew at once he was one of them. Of course. The king of the greatest nation in Roshar had to be a Radiant. It didn't make sense to do things differently. He was slightly annoyed his uncle had been made one and that useless son of his. However, he felt a strong satisfaction at knowing Adolin, of all people, has not been chosen by a spren. How satisfying. After all those years of enduring the little brat being better than him at everything, despite being several years younger, gave him a surge of self-satisfaction. Now if only he could just get rid of him and his stupid smile. Although he was not smiling so much anymore. In fact, it almost looked as he was brooding. Just the other day, he punched Jakamav at the wine house after he supposedly said something offending. He pulled out quite a show. Needless to say how furious Dalinar had been over the event and how thrilled Elhokar had been.


Then things started to get messy. Oathbringer was found together with a knife. Adolin's. All a few steps from where Toroll Sadeas had been killed. Could Adolin have done this? Elhokar snorted. By the look of things lately, he wouldn't be surprised. His cousin had been getting into inappropriate fights, he had been avoiding everyone even his betrothed... Well we're they still betrothed?


Then the opportunity came.


He summoned Adolin to his quarters. Alone. No Dalinar. The king had the right to talk in private to presumed murderer, even more so when he was family. The boy looked pale, livid even. He had the look of a man who didn't get much sleep lately, nor food. Elhokar had heard about the confrontation between him and Dalinar about the murder. Gruesome thing. Yelling, so much yelling and at the end of it, Adolin had surrendered his shardblade, letting it fall on the floor and crashing himself the gemstone. He has claimed not to deserve it as he was no Radiant. Nobody contradicted him.




"You know what the sanctions are for murdering a highprince?"


He was answered by a grim silence. Was he dreaming of were his eyes brimmed with red? Have you been crying Adolin?


So perfect.


"As the king, my sprens believe I should take the matter into my own hands. Personally."


At these words, his cousin looked up. "Sprens?"


"Yes, sprens. I have been chosen not by one, but by multiple of sprens, as fitting since I am the king. I do not know which order I am just yet, but needless to say I will very soon join the ranks of the Radiants"


Adolin looked at him dumbfounded.


"You? A Radiant?"


Elhokar smiled.


"Of course, I am the king. Funny how they chose everyone in the family, but you. I guess they must have known what a piece of crem you truly were."


At these words Adolin just shaked his head sadly, but remained quiet.




The door opened. Men came in. Brighlord Amaram at their head.


Sweet revenge.


Elhokar greeted them him.


"Take him. He is weaponless, he won't be an issue. I never want to see his face again.". He smiled proudly. Yes, he truly was the king tonight.


Amaram smiled as he ordered his men to grab the startled Adolin.


"Do not worry. My acquaintances are giving me a good price for his head. I do not know what they want with him, but sincerely I do not care."


Adolin looked up to Amaram: "My father would never..." He was cut out by Elhokar. "Your father ordered this. He couldn't do it himself, so I had to step in. You murdered a Highprince, you are therefore to be exiled with these men. Nevermind why they want you, but I can only guess."


He smiled. Good riddance. He watched as Amaram left with sad looking Adolin in tow. Finally. Now he had more work to do. He had to find a way to murder Ruthar and blame it on Renarin. Nobody would put a ransom on his head, but he felt an exiting thrill over the prospect of getting himself rid of another cousin.


"How about that uncle? Who is king now?"


Evil laugh.


The End.


I thought it was more fun if I wrote it from Elhokar's perspective. I dunno how good it is, so be nice :ph34r: Everyone knows I do not like Elhokar :ph34r: Sorry about the grammar, I'll try to re-read and correct at some point.

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Kalldin watch Tyn be taken away by the army and it broke his heart.  HE threw himself into his studies, and began to listen to his fathers advice about not caring. Finally he goes of to the city of bells to learn more. After years more of study he is one of the youngest and most talented surgeons, and syl slowly begins to appear to him, but he is not happy. All he does is save meaningless peoples lives so they can continue on there useless life. Slowly he discovers the secret of the hospital, but instead of being horrified he is ecstatic at the chance to do something meanwhile instead of save one useless life after another. The diagram has kaladin as the new assain instead of sezth, and he is sent to kill Jashana. HE succeeds in his mission shortly after they leave the city headed towards the shattered plains, and he sinks the boat. Going to the shattered plains next his job is to turn the bridgmen there into a group whose soll purpose is killing lighteyees. He puts moash at there head and kills Dalinar.

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Shallan as a villain? Piece of cake. Kaladin as a villain is oh-too-easy. Dalinar as a villain is harder. Adolin as a villain is very hard. Very hard indeed. 


But no one would ever think that small, insignificant, introverted Renarin would ever be a threat... 


But, because I think FeatherWriter would rip out my innards and eat them for breakfast if I ever wrote about Renarin as a villain, I will go with the obvious choice and choose Lopen. 


The Lopen watched as his cousins gathered around the drinking table, laughing at some joke that his Uncle, Chilinko, just made about a one armed Herdazian. The Lopen knew it was them they were talking about. It always was. Lopen tried to cover up his hurt by making the same jokes and laughing with them, but they didn't know. They just didn't know how much it hurt. 

Well, they would soon know. 

He looked at his sphere, a firemark. Part of his wages in the army. The Lopen stared at it, concentrated. The Light didn't move. He sighed, leaning back against the wall and listening as one of his cousins piped in with another joke about him. 

"And the stupid animal he lost his arm to?" Tepiko said, taking a swig of ale. "It was a chull! A stupid chull bit off his arm! How ridiculous is that?" Everyone laughed. Everyone except Lopen.

The Lopen sucked in an angry breath, trying to keep his anger cool. He froze as the Light actually moved, spiraling out of the sphere and into his chest. How... How did I do it? he thought, grinning with joy. 

Then, a sharp prickly sensation jabbed in his arm. His stump of an arm! He looked down to see it growing, the Light no longer steaming off of him. He cheered as slowly it grew outwards, forming into a hand and fingers. The sensation was incredible. 

"Thank you, Captain Kaladin," he whispered, then stalked forward.

"Hey, gon," he said, resting his new arm on Chilinko's shoulder. He froze as he saw the two arms, not just a stump of one. 

"How-" He cut off as Lopen's new arm grew hot. Very hot. Chilinko started screaming. All of the cousins turned in horror to see Chilinko's arm practically burn into ashes. Lopen smiled as he saw the fear in their expressions.

"I don't think you guys should be telling any one-armed Herdazian jokes anymore," he said, a grim smile on his face.

The bar was as empty as a Herdazian barn after a dance.

The Lopen grinned as he moved towards the Kholin camp. Some of the members of Bridge Four had been telling one-armed Herdazian jokes.

He would make them pay.

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Kaladin the surgeon-boy, slight and spoiled rotten,

With rusty knife and grimy hands he probed the wound I'd gotten.

"Here's the problem," so he cried, "you've rotspren in your head!

And so I must be airing it, or you'll so soon be dead!"

"Air my brains?" I winced in pain, his nails in my gut,

"I'd sooner face a highstorm with my skull jammed in a rut!"

"'It will be fine!" he scoffed at me, knowing and contrite,

"Unlike the last ten times so far, I'm sure you'll be all right!"

And with that condescending phrase he grabbed me by the cheek,

Forced my throat some horrid pills,with rancid bitter reek!

To cut a short and gruesome tale

Shorter and to the (bloody) point

The trepanning went just as well

As you'd right annoint.

My ghost may linger in this town

Til callow Kaladin retires

But should that bastard ever glow,


I feel sorry for his Squires.

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Too good to pass up. Wonderful topic!


FIrst one is short but sweet:


Szeth doesn't cry.


Now for the fun one: Yalb


The deck swayed beneath his feet as Yalb stared across the deck at the lighteyed young woman sitting on her crate, sketching things. His eyes narrowed, and a deep growl started to erupt from his gut, unbidden, until he caught himself. At first, she had a been a fun game. The proper little unsoiled lighteyes, blushing at every word. Then she become condescending, forcing him to the role of a servant. No proud Thaylen sailor plays the servant for anyone. She had even the gall to give him an extroardinary amount of money for doing nothing, as if to rub it into his face that she could squander her speheres at her leisure, while honest men worked. The sphere's had made him so sick, he gambled them away to some guards before she came back. 


It had been months of course, since he had first met her, but that last day had burnt a hatred into his heart. The little amount of gratitude she showed him, even after saving her over eight broams at the bookstore? It was storming humiliating. She didn't seem to notice as his gaze grew even more hate filled. Had he not been so close to the situation, he might have recognized his jealous for the wicked thing it was-instead, he reveled in his odium. Tonight was the night he would strike back. 


He had learned of a plot to kill the brat's tutor, Jasnah Kholin, from the new sailors on board the ship. It hadn't taken much convincing for Yalb to get in on the job. They had all sensed his hatred for the lighteyed runt and her imperious teacher. They both will pay very soon. The captain came out, forcing the men-Yalb included-backt to work. He placed the hatred back in its place in the pit of his stomach, and waited for night to fall. 





Yalb watched the girl walk back across the deck from Jasnah's cabin, her hands glowing from the spheres grasped inside. He moved to take her then, to end it quickly, but a hand across his chest first. "Jasnah first, and we wait until they she is asleep. She can be dangerous." Yalb frowned at that, his brow scrunching, but he made no move to argue. Shallan had nowhere to run or hide on the Wind's Pleasure that Yalb couldn't find her, and going overboard was practically a death sentence, although it would rob him of the satisfaction. 


It seemed an eternity when they finally crept towards Jasnah's cabin, lighting torches as they went. The plan was simple, stab Jasnah Kholin in the heart. Start a chaotic situation that would confuse the others, then clean up. They had wanted Yalb to go with the few subduing the crew, but Yalb wouldn't miss this opportunity. Two lighteyed brats in one culling. A wicked smile spread across Yalb's face. 


As a unit, the men broke down the door, and the first one inside leaped forward, stabbing Jasnah Kholin, blood streaming out. She didn't scream, and her eyes soon glazed over. The man picked her up and carried her body outside the room. Yalb noticed there were suddenly a great number of spheres rolling about the floor, but he paid them no mind. Probably part of the distraction. The man threw Jasnah Kholin's body, which thumped to the floor in the most satisfying way. He turned towards their leader, a giant brute of a man.


"Be sure."


Yalb knelt, pulling out a wicked long and thin knife, a sailor is never far from one, and drove it home through Jasnah's chest. He felt it thump against the wood of the Wind's pleasure. A single scream pierced the night, one of the other men turned towards the sound yelling "hey!" The door to the cabin slammed shut, and in a moment they were there, pounding on it. The door soon burst open, unable to contain their fury. There was another scream, and this time, Yalb was sure the voice belonged to Shallan. 


Looking inside the cabin, he saw a faintly luminescent shape, although Yalb couldn't make out any features. She can't be glowing, it's a trick of the torchlight. The shape ran through the crowd, no one seemingly able to catch it. Yalb hardened his stare and gave chase, pulling out the same dagger, still wet with blood. The shape ran straight to the edge of the ship, and fell over the side. Yalb growled, gritting his teeth-he had been hoping to avoid this.


He pulled the goggles out from the small pack he had on his back. He had pinched a pair earlier during the brat's little stunt. That had been yet another strike against her. How dare she order the captain about on his own ship, as if she had any real power! He secured the pack again, tightening straps, ensuring nothing would float away on impact, and then steeled himself, preparing for the cold of the water.  


He shoved the dagger in his mouth, gripping it in his teeth, sharp edge outward, and dove gracefully into the water. When he came up for air, she was gone. She can't have drowned already? Why would she jump overboard if she couldn't swim. He searched fruitlessly, then started swimming back towards the Wind's Pleasure, the cold seeping into his muscles. He was only a few paddles from the side, when the boat disappeared.


Yalb barely had time to register what was happening as the giant ship suddenly changed to water, and then expanded in a rush. Yalb was swept along with the current, water cascading into his lungs. He burst to the surface and choked in the smallest of breaths before the current took him again. Yalb fought the current with all might, but soon, his vision grew fuzzy and he began to black out. His last thoughts before losing consciousness were of his hatred for Shallan. 

Edited by EMTrevor
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Ohhh dear.  Shallan, not making a good antagonist?  Please.


Off the top of my head, I can think of two scenarios in which she could switch narrative sides -


1.  Pre-WoK


I'm surprised this isn't obvious to anyone else, but what if Shallan had begun the process of joining the Ghostbloods directly after her father's death, instead of trying to avoid them?  She still follows Jasnah to Kharbranth, but with two objectives - first, steal the Soulcaster; second, kill the princess.  Unbeknownst to her, Kabsal was also placed in Kharbranth on the same assassination mission, as a redundancy, so when Shallan fails to eliminate Jasnah quickly enough (she postpones it in an attempt to distance herself as a potential suspect) he moves forward with his poisoning plan.  It goes wrong in the same way it does in canon - though to Shallan's benefit, because Jasnah now believes her to be a simple thief caught up in larger plots, and she's not under any suspicion of Ghostblood membership.


Shallan, noticing Jasnah's exhaustion while they're aboard the Wind's Pleasure, uses the opportunity this presents to kill her in her sleep.  She then takes the soulcaster and transforms the ship to water as she does in canon, allowing her to cast herself as the sole survivor of the shipwreck and destroying all evidence of the murder.  She hides the soulcaster in her safepouch when she arrives onland.  Her overland journey goes much as it does in WoR, with the cardinal difference that Tyn is a contact rather than a random acquaintance, whom Shallan later kills in order to 1) gain the undivided loyalty of all the soldiers in the caravan and 2) be sure that she is a more important resource to the Ghostbloods in the warcamp.


By the time she meets Mraize, she's proven herself enough to become a full member of the organization.  Instead of petty tests, the tasks he assigns her are more high-profile: assassinations, information gathering, and causing general disruption to their advantage.  And as a LIghtweaver, she's perfectly capable of making herself appear to be anyone, so she can frame whosoever they please...



2.  Post-WoR


Shallan is actually really well set-up for a villainous turn at the end of Words of Radiance - she's just completely changed her own social standing, so all of her previous alliances are up in the air; she's got strong ties to the Ghostbloods, and they have several potential blackmail holds on her; she's questioning her own identity; and the character best positioned to observe and put a stop to this, Pattern, she openly admits to hating.  Moreover, the two Radiants who could keep her from turning - Jasnah, who could probably talk her down, and Kaladin who could oppose her best in a fight - will both be absent from Urithiru for an unspecified period of time following the end of the book.


In this situation, however, Shallan is more likely to find herself in a slow slide to villainy rather than a quick face/heel turn - though if something scared her enough I could see that too.  More probable is that, as she considers the questions Mraize brought up in their last conversation and her own wavering sense of self (is she Shallan?  Veil?  And how does she define each persona - is Shallan the Radiant, the sheltered Veden girl, the would-be scholar, the murderer?) she decides to continue her association with the Ghostbloods, in a bid to learn more about them.


Perhaps she comes to sympathize or agree with their cause, as her father did.  Perhaps she gets into a situation where they have control of her in some way - honorable Dalinar would hardly respond well to learning that she's been working with the group that murdered his niece, after all.  There are numerous situations in which she would have incentive to kill one or more of our protagonist characters - Dalinar, Adolin, and Renarin being the most likely targets - and then flee Urithiru with her soldiers.  Anyone she leaves alive (including the aforementioned absent Jasnah and Kaladin) would have motivation to view her as an active threat and hunt her down, and anyone related to her - giving Shallan more reasons to act against them, and in the interest of her house.

Edited by Kogiopsis
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But no one would ever think that small, insignificant, introverted Renarin would ever be a threat... 



Renarin as a villain is so easy as you are right, who would ever suspect the quiet introvert kid?




Which is why Taranvagian approached a year ago. On one of his smart days, he acknowledged how dissatisfied about his life Dalinar Kohlin's younger son appeared to be. Being a second was hard, but being the sickly second son of the Blackthorn was unbearable.


The boy proved to be smart. He understood immediately the necessity of the Diagram. Moreover, he understood why Dalinar had to be removed.... As long as the man refused to embraced the Blackthorn, he was useless. Renarin understood that perfectly. There was a calm coldness to him as he listened to Taranvangian's arguments. He brushed away the idea of an assassin. To risky. Him however, nobody would suspect him, he could get close easily, yes he was the perfect logical choice.


He tried to avoid thinking this was retribution for having to endure his father favoring his older brother.


"You do understand what it required of you?" asked Taranvangian


"Yes. As soon as he is dead, my brother will take over the princedom" replied Renarin with this calm manner of his.


"He may have to be removed as well if he does not cooperate".


"No. There is enough of father in him: you will have your Blackthorn. Adolin listens to me, trusts me. Yes, he will do as I say". No, not Adolin. It was not Adolin's fault his father likes him more.


He would kill his father, but not his brother, his brother, he would protect. Always. Even if it meant turning him into a tool.


Taranvagian nodded.


A week later, the whole family was reunited to weather the highstorm. Highstorms always let everyone on edge. Renarin sat on his favorite chair, playing with his box.


It was time.


He got up and walked to the wine pitcher. He poured a glass.


"Father, would you like to have some wine?"


"Oh I'll have some" said Adolin.


"No. This one is for father, you can have the next one." answered Renarin, holding the cup of wine protectively.


"None sense", said Adolin as he walked over he took the cup from Renarin's hand. "I am thirsty".


"Adolin, NOOOOO do not drink that!" Renarin said with slightly too much emotion as he watched in horror as his brother drown the glass.


"Why? What is it with......."


Adolin never finished his sentence. He collapse on the floor, his face turning blue as blood started trickling from his ears and nose. Dalinar rushed to his son's side as Renarin watch from afar, vision blurred by his tears.


It was over in the matter of minutes.


Allmightly help me, thought Renarin as he stared, blanked face, Adolin's dead body, I have just killed my brother.


Dalinar rose up, eyes red and pointing his finger at Renarin. "YOU. You did this, now didn't you?"


"Yes." said Renarin simply. "But it was meant for you."


And with this he walked out of the room straight into the highstorm.

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*clears throat* I believe someone called for the fandom monster? This seems like the perfect thread for me... See, the most fun kinds of horrfying and tragic AUs are those which are closest to canon, the ones that could almost be plausible. And oh are there some wonderful ideas we could toss around...


It's funny. Kogi and I ended up coming down almost exactly the same way on an Evil!Shallan. I'm unsurprised. Kogi and I have very similar thoughts on a lot of things...



See, Shallan is almost on the verge of villiany herself. She's an accomplished liar, involved in the underground, and she's broken in ways that even she has difficulty admitting. She tells herself that she's doing what she has to in order to survive, in order to protect her family, in order to save the world. She shows herself willing to sacrifice those ideas of right and wrong when she steals from Jasnah, putting her needs above her morality.


As Pattern keeps showing her more and more scenes from her past, forcing her to remember, to relive, she has a harder and harder time pretending she isn't a monster. She blames him -- irrationally, she knows -- but blames him nonetheless. If it wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t be a Radiant. Her mother wouldn’t be dead at her hand. None of this would have happened. Pattern does as he must, showing her the truths, making her confront them but it drives her further and further away from him. She keeps up the illusion of the girl with the lighthearted wit, but it is an illusion nonetheless. Inside, the truths of her past are making her colder and colder.


Pattern accepts this as a matter of course. He was told time and time again of the cruelty of humans. As Shallan begins treating him less like a person and more like a tool, he accepts his role with a suffering endurance. This is the price he knew he would have to pay in order to come to the physical realm. Things seemed nice for a while, but those days are long gone. Shallan speaks to him when she needs a sword or a lock picked or a code broken, and he obeys quietly, waiting for the day when she will inevitably kill him and find the revenge she seeks.


The only other person who sees this hardening in Shallan is Mraize, who not only recognizes it, but encourages it. He marvels at the talent of his little knife, as she accepts that which she was always meant to be. He knows that he is winning her over as Veil becomes the reality and the girl known as Shallan becomes a mask for her to wear, a part for her to play.


She joined as a way to betray the Ghostbloods, but their reasoning has wormed its way into her, and Mraize’s honeyed explanations and persuasions – so at odds with this broken face – are making her compromise, bit by bit, until she is well and truly theirs. It isn’t to protect her brothers anymore, it isn’t because she wants to find out about them anymore. She continues following their orders because she know longer knows what she is without them.


The first time Mraize asks her to kill, she can’t even feel shocked. Only a hollow reminder that it will not be her first time. Nor even her second or her third. The images of her mother, of the lover, of Tyn rise to the surface of her mind. That which was once so carefully locked away Pattern has pried open and let free. There is no blood with a Shardblade. Pattern stays perfectly clean, as though he has no part in the things she does, as though her sins cannot stain him.


She resents him for that as well.

When the time comes to go through with the act however, the memory which fills her mind is not that of her mother or of Tyn, but of the man who never raised a hand to her, who took the blame for her first murder. She always thought Balat was the one who would emulate their father, but Shallan finds him within herself, even as she thinks back to kneeling on the ground beside him, a soft song on her lips, and a sparkling silver chain slowly twisted tighter and tighter after the poison could not end it.


After something like that, what more could Mraize’s orders do to stain her soul? She feels only the slightest bit of remorse when she hears the name, a bare nod to the fondness she once felt. Tyn could not finish her mission, but Veil has proved herself more competent than Tyn ever was.


Jasnah Kholin must not be allowed to continue. The Elsecaller interferes with their work.



Maxal, as is unsurpising to everyone, we disagree on Renarin's characterization. See, the thread isn't necessarily good characters being evil... so much as it is protagonists becoming antagonists, right? So, how about antagonist Renarin, hmm? Let's give that a try.


Renarin – Because I Enjoy Making Myself Cry

The ardents were correct: seeing the future is a terrible curse. Renarin has learned to be alone when the highstorm hits. His father always preferred to have those close to him help keep him from hurting himself when his visions came, but Renarin’s visions are those best suffered alone. Dalinar was not aware of himself when he saw the messages from the Almighty; he left his body behind.


Renarin was always trapped, horribly aware as the control of his body was taken from him.


He screams as the vision takes him, collapsing to the floor, his fingers seeking out the charcoal in his pocket. He learned to always carry something with which to write. The broken fingernails and blood-streaked fingers had taught him quickly that when the visions came, the glyphs would be written one way or another.


He suffers through it, enduring the terrible images of what is to come, praying to the Almighty to release him from this horrible nightmare. His hands move of their own accord, scrawling glyphs into the floor. He feels tears run down his face but cannot do anything to wipe them away. It will be over soon, he hopes. He prays. But in the moment, it seems endless.


Those images, those horrible truths he is forced to watch. They cannot be real. This cannot be the future. And yet, he knows with more certainty than he knows his own name that the things he sees will come to pass.


Kaladin comes to find him after the storm passes and the vision fades. The former bridgeman rushes over as he finds Renarin trembling on the floor, clutching his head. The charcoal piece has been flung as far as possible from him, his first action after regaining control of himself. As Kaladin draws near however, Renarin cries out, trying to push himself away.


“Renarin,” Kaladin says carefully. “The storm is passed. Are you still in a vision?”


Renarin can only shake his head, still trying to put distance between himself and Kaladin, but feeling too weak to get away. He’s going to see, he’s going to know, it’s going to happen…


Kaladin hesitates, not wanting to upset him, then sees the glyphs laid out in shaky handwriting around the shaking prince. Bridge Four, Leader, Death. Bridge Four, Leader, Death. Bridge Four, Leader, Death.


“Is this… me?” Kaladin asks carefully, taking another slow step forward. He knows Renarin isn’t in a vision anymore, but something is terribly wrong, and it’s Kaladin’s job to help make it right.


Renarin can only nod before loses control of himself for the second time in one hour, this time to sobs rather than images. At some point he realizes Kaladin’s arms are around him, his hands rubbing smooth, calming circles on Renarin’s back.


“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Kaladin says again and again, and though Renarin knows they aren’t true, they help. He doesn’t know what is happening exactly. Is Kaladin his bodyguard, and he the lighteyed prince? Is Kaladin his superior officer, and he a still-new member of Bridge Four? Are they peers, two Knights Radiant of equal standing? Or have they reached the point where the roles and ranks and rules no longer even matter?


“It’s me,” Renarin whispers, still holding on to Kaladin like a lifeline in the storm. “It has to be me.”


Kaladin stiffens, though to his credit, he doesn’t let go. His voice catches slightly as he asks, “Are you sure? Is there any other way?”


Renarin shakes his head slightly. “If I don’t… all is lost. Everything, Kaladin.”


The two stay silent for a while, before Kaladin finds his voice again. “When?”


“I don’t know,” Renarin mumbles. “Soon. Maybe a few weeks.”


Kaladin considers that for a moment, and Renarin isn’t entirely sure how he will react. Will he be mad? Try to stop Renarin from going through with it? Will he try to kill Renarin before it could happen?


“The others will blame you,” Kaladin says, sounding somewhat distant. Focusing on what would happen to Renarin afterward as a way to avoid thinking about it, perhaps. “You might have to run away. They might chase after you.”


“They will,” Renarin says hollowly. “I saw that too.”




He knows as soon as the moment comes. A sick lurching sense of déjà vu overtakes him. It’s like watching a stormwall out on a flat plain. Nowhere to hide, no way to fight back. Nothing to do as that inevitable destruction bears closer until it is upon you. They’re in the midst of a small fight, nothing Bridge Four and the Kholin shardbearers can’t handle, but Renarin knows.


He steps back, pulling himself away from the fighting. “K-kaladin!” His voice breaks over the name.

Kaladin turns toward him, looking to see if he’s been hurt or something, but the look on Renarin’s face tells him enough. For once, Renarin wishes Kaladin isn’t the one who can always understand him. The weight of understanding settling across Kaladin’s expression seems almost more painful than the idea of what is about to happen.


Renarin finds that he’s holding a knife. He doesn’t remember picking it up but he must have sometime in the battle. In a way he’s thankful for that. This way he doesn’t have to force Glys to be a part of this. His hand trebles as he looks down, the lights reflecting off the blade shaking and flashing.


Kaladin calls for the men to hold the line as he steps out as well, letting Adolin take over command. Renarin’s brother looks back to see if they need him as well, but Kaladin waves him back. As Kaladin approaches, Renarin takes a step back, wanting to throw the knife as far from himself, wanting to tell Kaladin to run away, knowing that if he does, all will be lost. He’s seen what will happen, he knows there’s no way out. Everything is happening exactly as he saw.


“It’s now?” Kaladin asks quietly.


Renarin nods.


“There’s no other way?”


Renarin shakes his head. Something wet slides down his cheek as he does so. “Kaladin, I can’t. I can’t do this…”


Kaladin takes hold of his wrist, stilling the knife’s trembling. “You’ve already said you have to. I’m not afraid to die, Renarin. If the choice is between me and the world, I know which choice I would pick.”


“I don’t…”


“Yes, you do,” Kaladin says. “We both do.” He raises Renarin’s hand, placing the knife right above the embroidered crest on his uniform. “Right here. Push straight in, right between the ribs and to the heart, then pull it back out. It’ll be quick. I’ll barely feel it. Take my stormlight, you’ll need it to run.”


Renarin can feel the moment press closer and closer. When he hesitates, Kaladin pinches his arm sharply, and Renarin reflexively gasps, pulling in the stormlight Kaladin was carrying.


Adolin notices them, sees Renarin holding a knife to Kaladin’s chest. “Renarin! What are you—“


The moment hits. His grip tightens on the knife as he feels the choice he needs to make. Kaladin nods, just once.


The knife goes in.

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Renarin as a villain is so easy as you are right, who would ever suspect the quiet introvert kid?




 Or like, a third of the people on this very forum.  Do you know how many 'Renarin is secretly evil and plotting to kill Adolin/Dalinar/Elhokar/whatever HE'S SHIFTY WE DON'T LIKE HIM' threads and comments I've seen?

Too storming many, is what.


That said - Feather's write-up gave me chills.  Harmony.

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Mother of Crap, Feather. You just made me cry. Sometimes the best villains are the ones who we sympathize with, who we love, and who in the end do terrible things in the name of something wonderful. You just did that perfectly.
It really didn't help that I was listening to this as I was reading.

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Excellent story, very well written. I'm definitely going to read the rest of your writing.

One small quibble, would Renarin be an antagonist in that story arch? He and Kaladin are working together, so Renarin isn't working against the protagonists.

Even so, that's just arguing semantics. Very well done.

Edited by EMTrevor
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One small quibble, would Renarin be an antagonist in that story arch? He and Kaladin are working together, so Renarin isn't working against the protagonists.



Agree with you here. It was a nice story, very well written, but it did not portray Renarin as an antagonist, more like a victim, which is quite different in my view.

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Agree with you here. It was a nice story, very well written, but it did not portray Renarin as an antagonist, more like a victim, which is quite different in my view.


Debatable, since protagonist and antagonist are defined by point of view.  In order to show what she wanted to, Feather had to write from Renarin's point of view - as, technically speaking, have most of the write-ups here.  However, were this to happen in canon Dalinar and Adolin would almost certainly be POV characters, and Renarin would probably not be - so in that case he would be functioning as an antagonist to the extent of the reader's knowledge.  (and while it would probably later be revealed that he had not in fact been antagonistic overall, killing Kaladin is - arguably - an antagonistic action at least in the short term.)

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Right, what Kogi said. The overall arc of this storyline would take Renarin into conflict with the "heroic" side of things. In this case, he would be at opposition with Dalinar, Adolin, and Shallan, which is why I had Adolin see him and the lines about needing to run. I see Renarin as going on the run from them and probably all the members of Bridge 4 too. 


If we want to go truly tragic, I can take it further: Let's say that the visions are being hijacked and Odium is manipulating him. Kaladin didn't have to die at all. In fact, by killing Kaladin, Renarin has furthered Odium's goals. I've said before that the involuntary nature of Renarin's visions gives me pause. It seems so much more unwilling than all the other kinds of surgebinding that we've seen. So, I'll use that to say that these visions have been twisted by Odium, who is using Renarin as a pawn and turning his allies against Renarin as he does so.


We've seen shards twist good intentions into furthering their plots before. If you all want a real antagonist out of Renarin, let's go all the way. Renarin continues seeing visions of the end of the world and the steps that he must take to stop them. He doesn't realize that everything he does is bringing about the end of the world instead. He cannot stop the images from coming, he doesn't know if what he's doing is right anymore, but he's in too deep and if he begins doubting himself now, all could be lost.


The reason the ardents have always said that trying to see the future is of Odium is because Honor was able to see that much before he died: Odium will use future sight to bring about the end he desires. Odium sees this boy, so kind, so incapable of hate, and thus he twists him to make Renarin hated instead. By everyone, including himself.


How amusing it is to Odium that his pawns should be tied to Truth. The Truthless and the Truthwatcher. Two assassins who weep as they kill. But Szeth was merely a tool.


Renarin shall be his champion.

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You certainly pass Torturing Characters 101 with a double A. :)


And there I thought I was mean to mine. ;)


The scary thing about this one is that it could come to something along those lines. Odium surely isn't going to sit idly by when the fate of Roshar is decided.

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Actually, I love this idea so much I think it should be turned into cannon :ph34r: Without any Renarin's POV, he would indeed look like an antagonist. I could see such event prompting Adolin to come out of whatever crap he'll put himself into to come to the rescue.


And we then we get my so desired tearful family reunion :ph34r:

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I was quite nervous when I made my original post - many thanks for the positive response! (And sorry for being quiet but I've been working horrible hours the last few days).


I'd like to expand a bit on my "Shallan would probably make for a poor antagonist" line. Obviously I came up with a partial solution by changing her history, though I didn't make her particularly antagonistic - I see her as being sort-of "chaotic good" in the books and I turned her more to "chaotic neutral" to slightly evil.


When we're introduced to Shallan, I'd say that the main reasons why she'd make a poor antagonist are as follows:

  1. She cannot deal with confrontation - to the point that she practically has a nervous breakdown when Jasnah is angry at her early on. An antagonist that simply folds when confronted by a protagonist is clearly a poor one.
  2. She doesn't have any strong anger, hatred or envy against any particular person, group, organisation or country.
  3. She doesn't have any kind of personal ambition that would strongly clash with others. She does want to save her brothers of course, the whole reason reason why she's come to steal from Jasnah but it's difficult to use that to turn her into a full fledged long-term antagonist. Generally speaking, good antagonists have a big personal ambition.

It's not that we can't turn her into an antagonist at all, but that she'd make a poor one... so long as we keep faithful to the canon (though I'm also aware that there's quite a divergence of opinion on Shallan too). If we accept taking major liberties then it's not nearly so interesting, but I don't want to be too pedantic about it either to try to keep this thread "fun". There's also a lot we don't know - for example, in my story above I left Shallan with Lightweaving abilities but would Pattern accept that since he wants to do something about the approaching Voidbringers/Odium? I had considered leaving Shallan without her KR abilities and instead she picks up her father's soulcaster, but that's not quite so fun.


Interestingly, some of the changes she goes through in WoR reduces some of the above "poor antagonist" problems. In particular the first one - she learns to deal with confrontation and when arguing with Kaladin at their meeting in the pinnacle she thinks she's finally over it (lucky Kaladin ^-^). She does have some hatred/anger against Amaran and the Ghostbloods but it doesn't seem particularly deep or intense. Some people think Shallan hates Pattern now but I'm pretty sure it was something she said in the heat of the moment.


There was two other ideas I had for making Shallan into an antagonist: the first is pretty simple - just leave her stuck in the "coldness of clarity" mode. It's not that that would make her an antagonist by itself but I wondered if her ability to empathise would drop to zero - ie she would become a very smart very effective very dangerous sociopath. However, this kinda feels like cheating. One interesting play on this would be to re-write Szeth's prologue (To Kill) with Shallan like this instead. Quite a big divergence from the canon (would have to change her age a lot and maybe make her Shin) but could be quite cool if done right - and something we could do with all the Surgebinders.


My other old idea was to give Shallan a distinct multiple personality disorder - there's a point where Shallan is a bit disappointed to realise that "Veil" is basically just a darkeyed version of herself. So, what if she tried to make Veil more distinct...? But then Veil turns out to be a real nasty piece of work.


While writing this post I came up with another idea. I'll try writing it up if I get the time/energy.

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When we're introduced to Shallan, I'd say that the main reasons why she'd make a poor antagonist are as follows:

  1. She cannot deal with confrontation - to the point that she practically has a nervous breakdown when Jasnah is angry at her early on. An antagonist that simply folds when confronted by a protagonist is clearly a poor one.
  2. She doesn't have any strong anger, hatred or envy against any particular person, group, organisation or country.
  3. She doesn't have any kind of personal ambition that would strongly clash with others. She does want to save her brothers of course, the whole reason reason why she's come to steal from Jasnah but it's difficult to use that to turn her into a full fledged long-term antagonist. Generally speaking, good antagonists have a big personal ambition.



I would disagree on the first two.


1. This may have described Shallan in the first book, but she's since learned how to be confrontational and assertive. She doesn't fold when Kaladin challenges her, nor when Mraize makes some subtle threats concerning her family. She's rather grown in that regard.


2. She sure as Damnation hates Pattern at the end of Words of Radiance. And she hates Amaram, though that anger has significantly cooled. If the revelation that Kaladin killed Helaran is handled a certain way, she could easily hate Kaladin. Both of those hatreds aren't enough to kill the other person, but that doesn't mean that they aren't powerful.


Also, as FeatherWriter so beautifully demonstrated in her Renarin write-up, an antagonist doesn't necessarily need any of those traits. Renarin doesn't have any of them, and yet he is still an antagonist. Antagonist is often confused with villain, so I can see the confusion there. 


Antagonist: Someone or something that prevents the protagonist from achieving his or her goal. 

Villain: a wicked or evil person who has morals that clash with the protagonist and prevent the protagonist from achieving his or her goal.

Definitions from my own brain. Address or rip apart as needed.


I find a great example of this schism from the anime Death Note. To give a very brief synopsis, the protagonist suddenly gains the ability to kill whoever he wants however he wants as long as he knows their name. The antagonists are a group of private investigators trying to stop him from basically killing every single bad person on the planet in a ruthless way to gain control and world order. The "protagonist" in this case is what we would call a villain. The antagonists are what we would call the heroes. It's all a matter of perspective.

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The solemnity of the group hung heavy in the air, the silence only broken by the clinking of chains binding Taravangian. The harshness of his fall was obvious on his face, already wizened with age, it sagged on him, a broken man in a broken body. Today however, his mind was not broken by either stupidy nor brilliance. Dalinar rode close by, and that weighed as much on the former king's soul as did his crimes. If only you understood Dalinar, what I did had to be done. He shook his head, as if not believing his own arguments.

It was a very small group that traveled the road, just himself, Dalinar, Renarin, and his bridgeman-turned-captain Kaladin. The other Radiants hadn't liked it, especially the Skybreakers. Szeth-Son-Son-Vallano especially. He had petitioned Dalinar continually for the chance to bring justice to the ruler of Kharbranth, but Dalinar had refused every time. "He's too valuable, he knows too much. This diagram might have been born in evil, but we'd be fools not to learn what we could from it." Szeth did not press the matter, he personally knew the value of Dalinar's mercy.

It was slow moving, Taravangian's chains weren't very restrictive, but he could not ride much faster than a slow walk, bound as he was. Kaladin seemed to be uneasy on his horse, making Renarin look calm, collected, and relaxed in comparison. That was an odd sight indeed. Dalinar's gaze was pointed towards the origin, a common occurrence after the events of the last few years. Taravangian let his focus wander, and stared unseeing ahead of him.

Then, without warning, Renarin stiffened in his saddle, his knuckles going white from an unnaturally sure grip. Dalinar turned Gallant to him and rode next to his son, steadying him in his saddles. "What is it son? What vision comes to you?" He looked around anxiously. Renarin never had good news to share. Kaladin was already off his horse, watching the surroundings warily. In his hand, his spren had formed a shardspear, which glistened in the late sun.

Renarin convulsed once, twice, then recollected himself, still tense in his saddle. "There is danger here. Sja-anat is coming." Renarin shook his head, "I'm not sure what that means, but I know it isn't good." Dalinar turned towards Taravangian, his eyes questioning.

"He is one of the unmade. Ancient evil spren. All very dangerous." Dalinar nodded thoughtfull, recollection plain on his face.

"I remember that name from one of my visions." The men dismounted, and put Taravangian at their center. Dalinar held a side sword, both Kaladin and Renarin with shardweapons at the ready. A dark shape appeared to their side, rising out of the ground. Dalinar gave a cry of alarm, and both of the other two turned to face it, their eyes hard, even Renarin. Taravangian wished they had undone his chains, even though he would not be of any help in a straight fight. Something about Sja-anat was tickling in the back of his mind. Something important.

In a sudden flurry of motion, Captain Kaladin charged towards the dark shape shouting out a war cry. "Bridge Four!" He moved unnaturally quick, and was glowing, stormlight rising off his skin. Dalinar and Renarin held fast behind. The light reflecting off the spear glared into Taravangian's eyes, blinding him for short moment. It was then that he remembered. He dashed forward as quickly as he could, forcing himself between the father and son in front of him.

They cried out with alarm and reached towards him, but Taravangian paid them no mind. I have to stop the bridgeman before it's too late! His old legs were no match for the younger surgebinder however, and when it was apparent he wouldn't catch him, he yelled towards the charging Captain. "Kaladin! Wait! You musn't use your spren against Sja-Anat. You musn't let it touch your honorspren! Kala--." He cut off suddenly, tripping on a rockbud that hadn't fully retracted, painspren wriggling into existence around him.

Kaladin had reached the shape.

He struck out with the spear, bright metal piercing the inky blackness. In that same moment, Kaladin let out a hollow, ragged scream that shook Taravangian to his bones. The spear evaporated from Kaladin's hands, fading to mist. Mist that was black. Kaladin tore at his head, pulling at his hair. The monstrous shape in front of him disappeared, except for a human sized blob. Taravangian scrambled to his feet and strode towards Kaladin.

As he continued to walk forward, Kaladin fell to the ground, sobbing. In front of him, the smoke had swirled between several shapes. First, a mass of leaves rustling, then a ribbon that shot around Kaladin, before finally forming into the shape of a young woman. She stood as tall as Kaladin had, and she was pretty. On her face was a contemptuous smile. She let out a long haunting laugh, one that chilled Taravangian even more than Kaldin's scream had.

The womanly figure gave one last scathing stare at Kaladin, then turned, floating away from him. Kaladin crawled after her. "Syl! Nooooo! Syl come back! Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Kaladin collapsed again, as the woman's shape transformed into a ribbon of darkness that shot across the sky.

Edited by EMTrevor
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