Wish Carriers

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Liffon Foxglove, the youngest in the Foxglove line, travels to Greenbrook to become a Wish Carrier. Upon arriving, he finds his father, the famous Fens Foxglove, has gone missing on a very important mission. Where has he gone? It's up to the young hummingbird and his new friend Lissa Gentian to find out what's going on. What they find may even be a threat to the Carriers, let alone Greenbrook and perhaps all of Herald itself.

Please feel free to comment. I have divided the chapters up according to basic word count, so they are rather long. When I totally finish everything, it will probably look a bit nicer.


12. The Meeting Flower


          The sounds of the sirens faded into the distance as the group flew deeper into the forest. Liffon felt a twinge of nervousness as the darkness closed in on them; there were no lights out this far. He swallowed, trying to keep his anxiety down.

          The silence didn't help. He glanced over at Lissa who was flying right next to him. She had that determined look he'd come to know. He smiled slightly, glad to have her with him.

          Sadly, there were also no fireflies to fill their lanterns. He made a mental note to collect a few and ask them to travel with him.

          They arrived at the edge of the barrier where the dead forest began, but they didn't stop. Cirrus, who was in the lead, must have figured they should make as much out of the darkness as they could. Liffon didn't argue. Niether did anyone else.

          As they continued, the scent of vegetation didn't return. Could the damage have spread this far out? How far would it go?

          The rain began suddenly, almost as if the heavens were dumping buckets on the earth.

          "Quick! The checkpoint building!" Larx cried over the torrent. The friends raced to the small building they had visited just a few days before and tumbled onto the wooden floor. The rain fell in sheets now, thumping against the roof like a thousand locusts. Liffon shivvered, wishing he was dry right now.

          "Well, not much we can do but sit it out," Lissa stated, searching the store room for some blankets. "Kiffy, can you latch the doors?"

          Kiffy nodded and made sure the thick wooden doors on either side of the small structure were closed tight to prevent any rain from getting in.

          "Is there any lights around here?" She spoke again, grunting in the effort of pulling out a stack of blankets.

          "Last time I saw an above light," the ruby-throat replied. "But it was a little weird."

          "How so?" Artemis asked, cleaning her spectacles on the blankets Lissa pulled out.

          "I know what you mean," Cirrus agreed. "It didn't have space for fireflies to get in.

          Liffon poked around the dark room and came upon a small button. It had writing on it, but he couldn't read it well. There were only two letters (or was it three?), so it had to be either one of two things - on or off. Without pausing, he pressed it, and the room was flooded with light.

          "What was that?" Cirrus exclaimed, shielding his eyes.

          "Oh I know what this is!" Kiffy grinned. This is a light run on bat reez! I saw humans carrying lights in a tube during my lessons."

          "What's bat reez?" Larx asked. "It sounds like a flying poo."

          "He means batteries," Artemis explained, amused. "It's a portable power source humans use." She began looking around. "It has to be in here somewhere because the rain will make it stop working."

          "Here," Liffon stated, scratching at a large box. It had a latch on it that appeared it could have had a padlock at one point, but the Tacky brothers seemed to have not bothered replacing it.

          Artemis approached the box and carefully lifted the lid. Inside was a giant black and gold object with a few wires attached. "That looks like what the humans call a '9-volt," the Lucifer hummingbird explained. "That is one of the strongest batteries." Liffon reached out a toe to poke it, but Artemis shoved him aside. "Don't touch it! You could get zapped!"

          The annoyance at being pushed melted away when she explained the danger. "Thanks," he nodded.

          "Now that we have blankets and light," Lissa said, snuggling down into a small makeshift nest, "what's next, fearless leader?"

          All eyes turned to Liffon, who had not expected this. He knew he was one of the best, but to have all of these birds depend on his words? He wasn't sure if he could handle it. But his father needed him, and he needed them.

          After a pause, he spoke. "We need to wait out the storm. That's a given." He cleared his throat, trying to think. "After that, we have to keep heading north and see if we can find some sort of clue."

          "Sounds good," Larx nodded, snuggling up next to Artemis.

"In the meantime," Lissa continued, "Let's try to get some sleep. We don't know what's in store for us."

          No one argued.


          The sun crept under the door like the root of a new flower seeking assistance to grow. Liffon blinked, stretching out the tiredness. The others were still asleep, so he crept silently towards the door and opened it slowly. Sunlight flowed in, warming his damp feathers. If he wasn't so worried about his father, he would have smiled.

          Lissa stirred. She blinked a few times and then spotted Liffon. Standing, she puffed herself up against the cold and approached the thoughtful ruby-throat.

          Weird how not even rain can bring the green back," she observed, breaking the silence.

          Liffon, who was startled, turned and looked at her. But he quickly relaxed seeing an ally.

          "Wish energy," he replied simply.

          "We'll get it back," Lissa encouraged. By his silence she knew he was worried, even if he wouldn't admit it.

          The group set off slowly; Artemis was having trouble getting started. They paused in a bare meadow, hoping to find something to eat; they had already drained their emergency rations last night. A few purple clovers sprang from the earth, but it was barely a sip to each of them.

          However, Kiffy called them all over when he spotted something interesting. Hoping it was another flower, they all rushed over.

          "Where is it?" Larx asked, eager for more food.

          "Here!" Kiffy exclaimed, plucking a green plant from the ground.

"That's just a grass!" Cirrus growled.

          "No, it's a clover," Kiffy explained. "It's got four leaves instead of three."

          "So what?" the larger bird complained.

          "No, that's important," Artemis said, taking the clover. Kiffy watched her, willing her to be careful. "This is a four leaf clover. It's said to protect birds from danger and bad luck."

          "That's just an old hen's tale," Larx grinned.

          "I don't know about that," the Lucifer hummingbird argued, raising her eyebrows. She handed the plant back to Kiffy.

          "We can't sit around," Liffon chimed in.

          "He's right," Lissa said. "But hold onto that, Kiffy," she added with a wink.

          Kiffy, confused at her reaction, felt himself blushing in embarrassment. But he held the clover in his claw, still, as they continued on.

          The forest ended after about an hour's flight. Ahead of them was a series of human dwellings, each appearing rather similar. A strong smell pulled them towards one that had a large front room room with many windows.

          "What is that smell?" Liffon asked, mostly to himself.

          "I don't know, but it smells amazing," Larx replied. Cirrus and Kiffy drifted forward, and even the level-headed Artemis was drooling.

          Liffon felt the pull of the scent now, too. It smelled like the sweetest flower in the world, and he was so hungry, he almost let the scent carry him away. The others couldn't stop themselves either.

          The garden was mostly dead. The lack of wish energy had caused its demise. But one single flower was alive and thriving, and the scent was coming right from it.

          His stomach growled. He felt uneasy about this whole situation, but he was so hungry...and that nectar smelled so good....

          He raced toward the colorful plant, passing the rest. If he wasn't so hungry, he would have been bragging right about now. But, when he reached the flower, he hit it with a soft thunk!

          Wait a second, the ruby-throated hummingbird thought. He knocked on it with the tip of his beak and the same sound came from the contact.

          "It's not really a flower!" He turned quickly to see his comrades still moving towards the strange plant.

          "Guys, there's something weird going on here," he stated nervously.

          His companions made no reply. It seemed they had all entered a kind of stupor. They were not aware of anything around them at all. Their eyes were glazed over, almost as if they were in a trance. "Lissa? Kiffy?"

          His efforts made no difference. His friends were still moving towards something that by now seemed almost deadly. He clenched his beak, trying to decide what to do. He shook his head at an idea, thinking it would probably not work, but right now he had no other choice.

          Lissa hit the ground with a thump. She blinked a few times and looked up. At first she saw only the clear morning sky, but then the silhouette of a familiar hummingbird shot over her head. Artemis hit the ground next to her and shook her head as well.

          "What happened?" the Lucifer hummingbird asked, looking at Lissa.

Before she could answer, Larx and Kiffy hit the ground next to her. They stirred, and moaned as if they'd been hit by a brick.

          "Cirrus, you have to stop!" Liffon cried, trying to push him down. The other four looked up almost simultaneously. Lissa took to the air without a word, knowing her friend needed help.

          The pair sent Cirrus tumbling down to earth. The black-chinned hummingbird shook his head, then threw his wings in front of his face. Five pairs of eyes were staring at him, all full of concern.

          "What? Do I have a huge zit on my face or something?" he stammered in surprise.

          "Oh, I thought you did, but that's just your beak," Larx replied.

          "Very funny," he said, rolling his eyes.

          "That flower is dangerous," Liffon said slowly, trying to catch his breath.

          "How is a flower possibly dangerous?" Cirrus asked, thoroughly annoyed. He frowned at the smaller bird. If he could, he would have crossed his arms.

          Artemis raised her beak and tasted the air. "The nectar is much too sweet to be any real flower," she observed.

          "How does that make it dangerous?" he growled. "My stomach is demanding food!"

          "Because sometimes overly sweet things really are dangerous," Lissa answered him.

          Cirrus didn't reply. He might have agreed, but his ego wouldn't allow it.

          "Well I'm just glad Kiffy found that clover," she added, helping her larger friend up.

          "You really believe that?" he said, raising his eyebrows.

          "I don't see why not," the female Xanthus' hummingbird replied.

          He responded with a psh! sound, and the others simply chuckled.

          "But, I think we'd better take care of this flower before anyone else runs into it," Liffon suggested. He would never voice it, but Liffon prayed they would not be drawn into the stupor again.

          Dew dripped off the tall grasses surrounding the base of the strange flower, their yellowed stalks drooping with the weight. Liffon stepped lightly, careful to avoid any insects and shoo them away from the danger. The base of the trap flower was rather different. The stalk was not green, but silver. The only time Liffon had seen anything silver was when it was made by humans.

          Cirrus dug around the place where the silver stem stood erect in the dirt. But no matter how far he dug, the silver remained the same.

          "It has no roots," he said, both surprised and confused.

"If it has no roots, it has no support," Kiffy added, approaching the silver stalk. He leaned on it slightly, and the whole flower tipped dangerously. Cirrus grinned and leaned on it, too.

          "Everyone push!" Lissa instructed. All six of them leaned heavily on the thin stem and a soft creaking arose. The flower hit the ground with a thump and dirt sprayed every which way.

          A soft crack followed. Liffon turned to see what it was, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. He bobbed his head up and down tyring to get a better look, but his thoughts were interrupted by a loud complaining voice.

          "No aw won' go anywheh! You cahn't make me!"

          "Who is that?" Kiffy hissed, voicing everyone's thoughts.

          "Would you stop it? Everyone else has left already!" a second voice said.

          "Get outta dat damn cage, Rory!" a third voice demanded.

          Cage? Liffon took off instantly, fluttering nervously near the source of the noise. The open window would have been more difficult to enter it if wasn't for the massive hole in the screen. Playing off his instincts, he flitted silently arund the windo, trying to assess the danger. He turned to check on the progress of his teammates, and on seeing them slowly following, he signaled with a claw to stay back.

          "Why don't you want to leave? We'll be free again!" the second voice said, sounding obviously annoyed. It was coming from a Quaker parrot. Liffon had only seen them in cages during his lessons, but this one was sitting on a large palm-like plant next to a desk. It hopped off and paced towards the other bird, the one with the thick British accent. "Stop being such a chicken!"

          "Moi cousin is a chicken!" the other bird protested. This must be Rory, Liffon deducted.

          "Dat's totally impossible, feathuh-head!" the third voice said. Liffon was glad to see it was from a kestrel. That meant at least the birds were safe.

          "No it's not!" Rory shouted. His feathers were very unkempt. He appeared to be quite disheveled as if he had just been in a fight and not bothered to preen himself clean. "Eh, wot's that at the window! Oi saw somefin move!"

          "It's your imagination, you numbskull!" the Quaker growled.

          "Dat boid isn't evuh gonna shut up if I don't go and look," The kestrel grumbled. Liffon felt a chill of apprehension at the kestrel's approach, but he perched on the window sill. She spotted the hummingbird quickly, but smiled. "Eh? Theh is somethin' hee-yuh! It looks like a monstuh!"

          "Oi tol' you!" Rory nearly screamed.

          "Just messin'! It's a little hummingbird!" she said, tunring back to Rory.

          "Another?" Kiwi blinked. "We just got rid of one last night."

          The other birds approached from behind Liffon upon hearing the conversation turn friendly. The kestrel nearly fell backwards in surprise.

          "Theh's six of em!" she exclaimed.

          "Six?" Rory gasped. "Oi! It's an invasion! Head for the hills!"

          "Oh my Procne, Rory, would you stop it!" the Quaker rolled his eyes.

          "You said you got rid of a hummingbird yesterday...?" Liffon asked, jumping right into conversation.

          "Pretty straight-forward, eh?" the kestrel said with an amused grin.

          "Why don't you guys come sit down? We'll tell you all about it," the Quaker suggested, beckoning the group towards his desk. "The name's Bond. Kiwi Bond." As much as he hated the name, he never got tired of saying that.

          "Liffon," the older ruby-throat nodded.

          "I'm Lissa," Lissa explained. "This is Kiffy, Larx, Cirrus, and Artemis," she added, nodded to each one in turn.

          "What a crew you have there, Captain Liffon," Kiwi nodded.

          "Oh, no, I'm not a captain," Liffon argued, raising his wings in a surrender-type gesture. "Far from it, actually."

          "Relax," Kiwi said with a smirk. "This is Rory, the scared one, and Sparticus, the crazy one."

          "Hey, I am prob'ly less crazy dan you!" the kestrel complained. "An' it's Sparty. I dunno who named me, but it's stuck," she added, turning back to Liffon. She made a click sound her her tongue and imitated a hand gun. Liffon wasn't sure what that meant, but it appeared to be a friendly gesture.

          "Where is Fens?" Liffon asked.

          "One-track mind y'got theh, kid," Sparty said with a smirk. "Yeh, he left yestuhday."

          "Don't mind him," Lissa said, stepping in. Liffon frowned, but didn't stop her. "He's not good at being...personable. Do you know where he went?"

          "Dunno," Sparty said, preening her feathers casually. "I was too busy givin' Carl a run fuh his money."

          "Carl?" Kiffy blinked. "Is that the human that owns this house?"

          "Got that right, kid!" Sparty replied, looking up. "We put 'im in da hospital aftuh last night!"

          "Let me explain," Kiwi said, looking first at Sparty, then at the hummingbirds. "Carl is the man that owns this house. He catches birds and sells them, even if it's not allowed. He caught Fens one day and found out that he's magic. Or...what did he say? A carrier or something. Anyway, he started using Fens to grant his wishes and then brought him to a place where other people made wishes. He came home with the poor guy the other day and a truckload of money."

          "An' den we all attacked 'im!" Sparty cut in.

          In reality, poor Carl actually had been shipped off to the hospital, but there was far more to it than that. Having still kept the ability to hear birds speaking, he began to constantly think they were plotting against him. He raved to his nurses to the point they had him transferred to an institution. He insisted he was telling the truth, but his constant insistence of trying to find his magic bird that granted wishes just made them hide more medications in his dinner. So as of now, Carl Jenkins was completely indisposed.

          "So if everyone else escaped, why are you still here?" Artemis asked, tilting her head.

          "Akchully, dat's dis idiot's fault," Sparty rolled her eyes and pointed at Rory. "He won' leave his cage. Says he's too scared of da big bad world."

          "I've been trying to get him to leave since the sun rose," Kiwi sighed.

          "An' I'm just hee-yuh to covuh deh butts," she lifted her head in a mock show of superiority.

          "When did you say he left?" Liffon was never one to be swayed on changing topic.

          "'E lef' door-in the stohm like a crazy madm'n!" Rory shouted, puffing himself up.

          "Oh, shut it!" Kiwi barked with a frown. "He's already upset enough."

          "He left in the storm?" Liffon chirped, his voice cracking. "He could be anywhere! Or worse, he could be dead!"

          "Liffon, you need to calm down," Lissa said sternly, putting a wing on his shoulder. He breathed deeply, trying to calm his nerves. He was usually so level-headed. What was wrong with him? His feathers stood on end as Lissa backed away from him. His eyes jerked around the room, his skin prickling.

          He began pacing on the table, trying to tell himself to calm down. The others watched him in silence for a time, unsure what to do. But thankfully, the silence was broken when the kestrel spoke.

          "I hope dat crazy buhd is alright, doh," she said, looking back at Lissa. "I tink he's a good guy."

          "Well, that's why we're off to find him," Kiffy said with a nod. "He's really important to Herold."

          "Herald? Is dat where y'live?" Sparty asked, tilting her head.

          "Herald is the northern-most region in the 64th Carrier's Division, known to the humans as Lakewood Park, located in Ohio right south of the large Lake of Erie, about five miles west of Cleveland," Liffon stated, not missing a step. He didn't even look up when he replied.

          They all blinked at him.

          "Does he do that all the time?" Kiwi finally said.

"You get used to it," Larx added with a grin.

          The warm sun leaked through the glass of the windows and spilled into a puddle on the desk. If the situation wasn't so tired, they all might have taken a bath in it. The collection of hummingbirds made for a colorful display, almost like a Christmas tree. Liffon's pacing caused his feathers to shimmer slightly, as if he was trying to be the star on top.

          "Well dat's settled," Sparty nodded once and set her beak with determination. "I'm goin' t'help. What can I do to t'help youse guys?"

          They were silent for a time as Lissa turned around a few ideas in her mind.

          "I don't think going with us is an option," she said finally. "A group of hummingbirds traveling with a kestrel might cause a few stares."

          "But I could keep ya safe!" Sparty protested.

          "I think you might be better off at Greenbrook," Artemis spoke up. Sparty looked over at her, surprised that she had spoken. "I think there's a lot of openings for work. Everyone's gone home from the crisis."

          "Oh you mean dat Cleveland place Liffon was talkin' about?" the kestrel asked.

"That's it," Artemis replied with a nod. "Sparty, you could be a guard."

          "Wot about mey?" Rory questioned, suddenly interested.

          "You should have told us about this before!" Kiwi chimed in. "Nothing else has gotten him this willing to get out."

          "I'm not sure," the female hummingbird continued. "But I am pretty sure they will be able to find you something."

          "Yeah, that's great and all," Liffon chirped anxiously, finally stopping his pacing, "but we still have no idea where my dad is."

          "Oh, he's your dad!" Kiwi said, his eyebrows raising. "No wonder you're so on edge about it.

          Liffon didn't reply. He just looked at the Quaker parrot for a few seconds, his expression neutral, and then returned to his pacing.

          "Not exactly," Kiwi replied. "If you know the wind direction, you can probably guess at least what general direction he traveled."

          "Well, we have Arty here," Cirrus jumped in, speaking for the first time since they met the former prisoners. "She's the smartest one here."

          Artemis blushed a little. "I don't know about that," she protested.

          Liffon turned, his head jerking as if it was on an elastic rope. He blinked at the statement, and felt a twinge of something he handn't felt for quite some time. Lissa turned and saw him staring, quickly realizing what Cirrus had said. She opened her mouth to say something, but Liffon was already leaving. He fluttered through the broken screen without a work and disappeared from sight.

          "She can't possibly remember what direction the wind was blowing last night!" Larx protested.

          "Where did he go?" Kiwi asked quietly, leaning toward Lissa.

          "I'll find out," she nodded. "I'll be right back," she said to the rest of them.

          Liffon fluttered about, finally deciding to come to rest on the roof. The sun was warm, for which he was grateful. He looked up at the sky, saying nothing, his mind flooded with thoughts. Had he made the right choice coming? Was his dad okay? Did his friends really need him?

          Were they really his friends?

          He fluffed up his feathers, mostly in thought rather than chill. They didn't need him. They had Artemis.

          That was a lie, he told himself. I know everything there is to know about anything I need to know. He hadn't been studying for every eventuality all his life for nothing. Maybe I should just go on my own.

          Before he could really decide what to do, his musings were interrupted by a small shadow passing over him.

          "There you are," Lissa said, landing next to him. "Are you alright? What happened?"

          "I'm fine," Liffon replied, not looking at her.

          "And I'm a bald eagle." She frowned. "Tell me what's really up."

          "It's silly anyway," he insisted, still unable to make eye contact with her.

          "If it's what I think it is, then yes it is silly." she poked him lightly with her beak, and he finally met her eyes. He frowned, though, not feeling very happy about her answer. "It's silly that you think we don't need you. Of course we need you. You're Liffon Foxglove."

          "So what?" he grumbled.

          "Stop being a hatchling." She smiled at him and gave him a nudge. "You know full well we need you."

          "Why?" Liffon blinked.

          "We're your friends," Lissa explained. "How do you still not understand that? You could be a huge jerk sometimes and we'd still be your friends."

          Liffon had no idea what to say. He simply blinked back at her.

          "Friends?" Lissa said finally, extending a foot in the customary human-copied gesture. He didn't reply, but shook her claw in spite of himself. She nodded toward the window below them and lifted off the roof. When he didn't follow, she turned back to him.

          "Are you coming, feather-brain?"

          Liffon grinned slightly, still in awe of this thing he had never had his whole life. This thing called friendship. Living in a metaphoric cave had its disadvantages, he supposed. His mother made him study all the time, which he didn't mind. He rather liked it, actually. He knew he was smarter and more clever than anyone else his age, so for the longest time he didn't need anyone. His books were his friends.

          But this new thing, this need to feel accepted - he didn't like it, but yet he did. Why couldn't he just go back to the way it was? He never needed anyone before, but now he depended on these people that called themselves his friend. He didn't even know how to be a friend. He didn't know why they needed him, but they did, and he needed them.

          "Be right there," he replied, looking down at her. His mind roiled with these thoughts. He didn't know how to process them. This new feeling was alien to him.

          The pair emerged back into the room as the conversation lulled. They landed next to Cirrus almost simultaniously. The black-chinned hummingbird gave them a friendly nod.

          "So we can really figure that out?" Larx asked, looking towards Artemis. Liffon supposed they hadn't discussed much since he'd left the room. They seemed to be still on the same topic. He was secretly grateful that he returned when he did.

          The smallest of the hummingbirds adjusted her glasses. "I think so. The wind direction usually doesn't change too fast."

          "So how can we know which was the wind was blowing yesterday?" Kiffy asked.

          "I tink I can help with dat," Sparty offered. "I saw da trees true da door yestuhday. Dey was movin' leftways."

          Artemis turned toward the trees the kestrel indicated. The wind made them blow to the right, now.

          "This way is south, right?" she said, turning to Liffon. He was surprised she was asking for confirmation and raised his eyebrows. Lissa grinned and nudged him.

          "Yeah," he said finally. "That's right."

          "So that makes the wind blowing west last night," the Lucifer hummingbird said with a nod.

          "Then that's the way we have to go," Liffon replied simply.

          "Well, what are we waiting for?" Cirrus said, puffing up his chest. "The color purple?"

          Lissa grinned. "I think we're ready."

          Kiffy stepped forward and held out his clover. "I just wanted to thank you," he said to Sparty.

          "What for?" she asked, tilting her head.

          "For just being so helpful," he replied. "Take this," he added, nodded towards the clover in his claw.

          "What's that for?" she asked, blinking.

          "For good luck." Kiffy nodded with a smile.

          "Naw," she said, shooing him away. "Youse guys need more luck dan we do! It's not dat far to where we're goin'."

          "She's right," Lissa pointed out. "We have a long way to go."

          "Fly south from here," Liffon said, stepping forward. "When you get to the dead area, follow the path. You'll be there in 20 minutes."

          "Pretteh precise, 'e is," Rory commented, finally opening his cage door.

          Lissa grinned. He couldn't help it, even after he'd doubted her friendship. Liffon could not simply stop being Liffon. She grinned at the thought.

          "Well, we best be off then," she stated with a nod.

          After a few goodbyes and some hugs, which were a little awkward considering their differences in size, everyone was ready to go. The three, a motley group as it was, headed south back toward the direction the six had come. Lissa silently hoped they made it alright. That hawk could easily take out a small kestrel, a house pet, and a scared magpie.

          But she could have been misjudging them. They had, after all, taken down a human.

          Back outside, the smell of the trap flower still lingered in the air. Liffon glanced around and something on the yellowed grass caught his eye. He flew down the investigate the puddle of black that seemed the be writhing.

          It was, actually. The writhing of a hundred dying ants surrounded the puddle of poison. Kiffy gasped on seeing it, and the other's approached the puddle.

          "The poor things," Larx said quietly.

          "Poison," Liffon observed. "I knew it."

          "I'm gonna find the human that made this and pound his face in!" Cirrus growled, kicking at the grass.

          "We don't have time for that," Lissa said urgently. She took off swiftly flying west. No one made anymore comments about the horror they had just witnessed, but all of them were thinking the same thing.

          Humans are brutal sometimes.

          "They may be brutal, but they are needed in this world," Liffon said to himself. "But now is not the time to worry about that."

          "Did you say somethin' Liffy?" Larx asked, peering over at him.

          "No," he replied, a neutral expression across his face.

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