Five Rings Rising

Introduction Arc - Epilogue - Part I

Time seemed to stand still after Takeshi cut off Iuchi Tang’s second wrist. The young samurai and their monk ally had ample time to consider the hopelessness of their situation. Even as the spirit of the Jade Magistrate reclaimed its body, now rid of its cursed obsidian nails and, by extension, its puppet master, the pile of corpses behind the altar began to rise.

Takeshi, barely standing, adjusted his grip on his weapon, hoping to at least take one of the abominations with him before he fell. Arika, knowing the kami had already given him much today, raised his wakizashi. Musashi settled himself next to the Dragon, the only tactically advantageous position. And Dosan, nearly-uncentered, looked up just in time to see Akodo Kuno enter the chamber with a small group of Lion samurai. For a second that felt like months, the heroes apprehended his intentions, but in the end, they finally had a chance to witness the vaunted Lion honour, for despite his personal resentment, the young officer quickly led his men in a charge against the monstrosities.

The fight that ensued was quick and vicious and only one of the lions fell to the risen dead. Akodo Kuno bid his men to burn the remains, including that of his fallen bushi, and to escort Akira, Dosan, Musashi and Takeshi out of the mine. In a daze, the four let themselves be led out a little ways from the mine. It’s only a short time before their ashigaru escort from earlier join them and explain that Akodo Kuno sent two of them to fetch Matsu Ichiro and asked the rest to wait with them.

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Corruption purifier

Dans un dernier effort, nous avons réussi à couper les mains de Iuchi Tang. Les secondes précédentes ce moment furent non seulement sanglantes mais belle et bien éclatantes. Je m’explique, nous avons affronté le maître corrompu créateur de zombies et autres atrocités dans son repaire, il s’agissait bien de Iuchi Tang, le magistrat de Jade qui dans son état décadent faisait ce mal sans borne.

Avant l’affrontement ultime, nous sommes entrés dans la mine découverte. Sans rien d’extraordinaire, cette mine était exploitée par des zombies contrôlée. Quelques pas à l’intérieur et nous découvrîmes rapidement l’organisation : zombie au travail superviser par des sans honneur. Sitôt interpeller, ces humains sans honneurs ont démontré leur savoir-faire : la fuite et le combat imprégner de cette souillure noire en utilisant les zombies afin de nous prendre en traître. Par contre les zombies ni cet humain corrompu n’était de taille à nous affronter. La sagesse, la précision et la force de mes ancêtres Phénix se sont réincarner en moi l’espace d’un instant faisant de ma lame un instrument pour défendre mes compagnons d’armes ainsi que pourfendre nos ennemies du moment.

Ceci étant fait, nous avons continué l’inspection des lieux pour finalement aboutir au faîte de la mascarade des zombies. Maître Iuchi Tang, magistrat de Jade est corrompu, qui ou quoi ou comment, nous ne pouvons le dire mais il est belle et bien corrompu et utilise l’essence vitale d’êtres vivants afin de donner de la substance à ses incantations! Quel horreur et abomination! Il est évident que les deux clous d’obsidienne dans chacun de ses poignets en est l’origine. Une fois les poignets couper, Iuchi Tang a sembler de retour à lui-même pour un bref instant, nous disant merci pour la liberté de son âme.

Akodo Kuno, un peu en retard sur les événements apparait dans la mine et nous aide avec ses samouraïs à tuer les zombies restant. Je peux maintenant affirmer que ma mission orignal et accomplis. Par contre, plusieurs questions demeurent : Qui a le pouvoir et la force de corrompe un magistrat de Jade? Pourquoi ici, dans cette région et non pas ailleurs? Qu’importe pour le moment, mon devoir et mon chemin sont clair, je dois retourner chez moi afin de rapporter en détails les événements des dernières semaines à mon maître et mon clan.

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Takeshi Log - Into the mine

We are at the entrace of a mine. We can clearly hear mining activity, but still no one in sight except for the mule and cart.

Oldmine

While we debate our next course of action, we hear someone coming out. We stand at the ready! To our surprise, a walking undead abomination is carying some black rocks and dumping them into the cart. The mule does not move! We do the same and simply observe. The walking undead simply returns within the mine.

Clearly, we have found what we where looking for! Upon further investigation of the cart, we find that the contents is loaded with Osbidian Ore. Now why would an abandonned mine still be loaded with Obsidian? And who exactly is exploiting this to their advantage? Answers lay within the nest and our path clearly leads us into the Lion’s den.

As we enter, we find more undeads picking against the walls of the mine. They seem to be ignoring our presense for the time. Our path is also lighted by some strange magic.

As we decend into the mine, we come face to 2 individuals. They seemed to be simply dressed and had axes at their side.

I immediately speak out and demand that their stop their illegal activities and surrender in the name of Governor Matso Katsuo. With some hesitation the honorless foes react. One of the bandits run away like a coward. The other draws her axe and orders the dead to attack.
Fine! We’ll do it the hard way. Our group proves themselves worthy and quickly dispatches the evil.

We continue deeper into the mine. We find many undead mining and picking away at the walls. How can these abominations continue to live? Our group decides it may be prudent to destroy them one by one before a general order is given by their evil master to attack us.

The task was harder than it seemed as these undead abominations do not go down easy. We therefore decide to pursue our original course of action and find the evil culprit responsible for this plague.

We finally arrived at the end of the mine, a large room which was host to more abominations. There stood a human in Unicorn colors in front of an altar which laid the body of the other women that run away from us. Clearly she did not meet her master’s expectations and she answered for it with death. Behind the bloody human, there was a pile of corpses. The room also has a couple of undead going about their business.

What happened next was a mess of horror. The blood master ordered his abonimations to attack. I tried to assess the situation and noticed that the blood brother had iron spikes through his hands. Could this be the source of his powers?

Spike hands

The blood foe spoke in a twisted voice and mentioned that the jade magistrate was no loger there. We quickly deduced that he was the jade magistrate! But why would he be doing this? Power? money?

I tried to protect Arika-San as he seemed to not be a true bushi, but soon realised that he could hold his own. He had blasted his foe and the mound of undead corpses into flames. But the blood borther stepped out of the flames with the head of the woman which he threw towards my scorpion friend.

I decided to engage the blood brother and in a moment of clear though, I knew I had to try and cut the hands and rid this monster of his source of power.

The battle was fierce and the blood brother was fast. But I did managed to cut one of his hands off. With this, a surprising turn of events! The blood brother hesitate for a moment and spoke. His voice has changed to a more human tone and painfully begged us to cut the other hand off…

As this was happening, we saw that the corpes were rising from the dead and we could soon be put to the ground. Arika

The fight went on. In a last moment of desperation, our group managed to cut the blood bother’s other hand off.

At the same time, a group of Lion Samurai arrived in the room. It was our coward Lion friend who had returned with reinforcements. Praying that this Lion was not blinded or also affected by the corruption, we yelled out and directed him to kill off the remaining undead. Prayers answered, the band of Lion samurais complied and with that, the battle was over!

Well the Samurai did have some honor in him after all. That Lion just regained trust in my eyes. I am glad because I can barely stand now. Battle being over, I immediately applied more of that jade cream on my wounds as I did not want to be affected by the taint.

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Takeshi Log - Finding the mine

After dealing with the Ninja traitor encounter, we managed to capture one of the hornorless enemies. Interrogation revealed some interesting facts.

We learned that our little honorless soul was ordered to kill everyone except our host, Shosuro Satoru. But why kill everyone except the master of the house? Very strange. The assasin also said he received his orders from the Jade Brother. He said the Brother left town after he received the visit from his master. We learned that the Brother left of a mine.

In the following days, our gracious host went to visit a Jade Magistrate of his, but we later learned that he was indisposed. Further inquiries revealed that the Magistrate was not seen to many weeks.

Our groups suspecion runs wild and beging to think there may be a link between the Magistrate’s dissapearance which may tie him to the Jade Brother. Some think they could be the same person.

With Shosuro Satoru help, we tried to identify nearby mines in adjencent territories as there are no mines near the city of Toshi sano Kanemochi Kaeru (City of the Rich Frog). We consult some maps and identify possible locations which falls close or even in govornor Matsu Katsuo’s territory.

We all decide that we cannot leave our gracious host in this predicament. I offer my sword and my services as a Dragon to help solve the mystery and put an end to the undead plague that is infecting this countryside.

We decide to form a group composed of myself, Dôsan the Monk, Isawa Arika a Shugenja and Musashsi Nanbu, a scorpion. We receive papers from our host and some medicine and information which is to be delived to Governor Matsu Katsuo.

After many days of travel, we finally enter the territory of the Governor. It does not take long that we are interecepted and led to a Lion camp. To our surprise, it was lead by the Govornor’s son Matsu Ichiro-san; an old friend and rival.

We explained what had happened at the City of the Rich frog and that we are on a mission to seek out the corruption of these lands. We gave the message from Shosuro Satoru and medicines that can help in the dealing with the taint. We also explained to Ishiro that we suspect that there could be a base of operation in nearby abandonned mines. We are informed and pointed to a nearby canyon which could be the location that we seek.

Ichiro provides our group with a team of samurais which are put under my responsibility, and we make our way towards the hills and small canyon.

Hills2

Our group is lead by scorpion fried which takes us down some abandonned trails. After many hours, we seemed to be making little progress and our scorpion friend seemed to be going out of his way to getting us lost.

Suddenly, we find ourselves face to a group of indivuals. Not knowing friend from foe, we decide to confront this group of samurais. Surprisingly, we met up with a Lion patrolling these trails. And even grater surprise, their leader is an old acquaintance that we met during a supper at the Governor’s house. We did not leave on good terms.

We approched the patrol and entered a discussion. Their leader said we were trespacing on their land and that we should leave. He was responsible for the protection of this territory. We refused and explained that we were under the authority of Matsu Ishiro, the governor’s son and investigating the region.

Seven samurai patrol

Their leader seemed to be looking for blood and drew his sword first. That is with lightning speed that my Shugenja friend engulfed the Lion patrol into flames. Their leader fleeded the scene as his comorades burned and died in the flames. Very unfortunate for that covard and honorless fool. We could have tried to talk further by I guess blood had to be spilt.

After that incident, our group took care of the dead and we decided to pursue our investigation. It is odd to see that Lion coward protecting a region which is suspected to be the base of operation of corrupt abominations.

Still not making much progress, Arika-san suggest he use his magic to contact some earth spirits to help us find the mines. We agree and not soon after, we beging following him. Astonished, the magic leads us to a mine.

There is no one at the entrace expect a cart and mule. But there is definately some activity here and we hear mining operations. Our group decide that this needs to be investigated further!

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Letter - From Takeshi to MirumotoYuuta (father)

Mirumoto Yuuta,

I am writing to you from the City of the Rich Frog. I have seen strange things and was sent here by the Matsu Katsuo, the governor. Let me explain!

Arriving in the Matso village, I was greeted with a warm welcome. I trained for many days and I met some interesting people. During my stay, it was discuvered that peasants had been disappearing from the western edge of the Lion’s land. With the help of a respected Monk called Dōsan and Ichiro-San, we explored the country side for clues. Our group decided to investigate a small hill and what we saw was a terrifying picture. It looked like a mass grave of butchered, bloodied people that were piled one upon another. And just then, we were taken by a greater surprise as three of the dead corpses stood up and attacked us. During the battle, Dōsan yelled and said we could kill the foul ones by cutting their heads. With great agility, Ichiro and I quickly dispatched these walking dead abominations. During the battle I was scratched by one of the undead and could see Dōsan worried look.

We quickly formed a perimeter and summoned the Governor. Matsu Katsuo. He seemed worried by what he saw and immediately demanded explanations. As we explained what happened, his worried look grew. I was told that my wound may be infected. The governor instructed that I should go to the City of the Rich Frog to seek healing. I travel quickly and escort the eta and Dōsan to the city. We were also instructed to not speak of what had transpired here to anyone, except to the people we were to meet in the City of the Rich Frog.

Dōsan and I then travelled to Toshi sano Kanemochi Kaeru, the city of the Rich Frog. We met up with our gracious host, Shosuro Satoru. That is when things turned for the worst.

During our stay, we found another undead within the residense. We quickly dispatched the abomination to later learn that the person had been close to death and transformed to a walking dead. It seems the samurai in question was Isawa (Shima) Akihiko, a relative of Isawa Arika, a young scared Shugenja who was also on the scene. There was also Musashsi Nanbu, a bushi of the scorpion clan who helped rid us of the abonimation.

During the night’s stay at Shosuro Satoru, we were then attacked by what seemed to be a group of ninjas.They tried to kill us all. We managed to capture an assailant and got some information. He talked about a Jade Brother and we also learned about a mine…

Shosuro Satoru tried to communicate with a close friend who was a Jade Magistrate, but learned he was indisposed. We could not help but think that the Jade Brother and Jade Magistrate could be the same person.

Also interesting fact is thhat the city is currently the center of a power struggle between the Lion, the Unicorn and the Kaeru family. I hope for our sake that one of these are not responsible for the use of black arts and raising abominations.

With the help of Isawa Akihiko, Dōsan and Musashsi Nanbu, we are to set out and help our host track down the source of these troubled times.

Your son, Marumoto Takeshi.

[This letter was sent from takeshi to his family before leaving for the “mine”.]

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Into the bloody mine

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In front of us there is the empty mine, the expected location of the Blood Brother lair. All four of us are moving in, silently, knowing full well that we are on a very dangerous endeavour.

Our first encounter happens with a cart, a mule and a zombie. The zombie did not bother us as we were going around his business of dropping rocks in the cart. However is appearance start a debate amount us… Should we destroy it now or later? While they were some pro and cons we decided not to. Little Bird decided to peek in the cart to determine what was the material transported by the zombie. He discovered that is was Obsidian rocks…. Once Little Bird curiosity satisfied we start down the corridor again.

We then encounter two zombies and two humans working the mine. Slicing Wings asserted himself and ordered the humans to stand down as they were something illegal. What did he expect? These two fools are messing with blood magic! They would not simply surrender to unknown samurai walking in there lair… While one ran away, the other took up his axe and move forward to engage us in combat and at the same time he ordered the two adjacent zombies to attack us.

While the human engage Slicing Wings, the zombies engage Little Bird and me. While Bakana Hito was not engaging the zombie directly, he provided much appreciated support on my behalf. At that specific time, I was glad that I follow my gut felling and let him alive. Unfortunately even with Bakana Hito support, the zombie was able to graze me with his dead flesh….. not a very interesting thought.

While Little Bird was stuck between two zombies, he seems to acquit himself very well…. He kept moving passed each zombie without any problems.

The leaving dead are very difficult to destroy as they do not feel any pain…. I was getting tired… my arms started to feel heavier… At that moment, my mind recalls a saying from one of my old teacher:” What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.” As it seems I cannot defeat this zombie with my strength, I need to use my mind to find an alternative. The purpose is not to destroy the creature but to render itself incapable of doing any harm to my or my companions. The easier way to do this would be to have the creature on the ground……. To succeed I do not have to overcome his strength or stamina but only his agility… by cutting its leg the creature should fall on the floor. Believing in this tactic, I started to target its legs. After a few swings, I succeed and the creature fell on the floor. While it was still moving the danger was by far reduce. Having gained some respite, I had time to realise that the other zombie and the merchant had been taken care of. Suddenly Little Bird arrives beside the zombie and with a might swing cut it in two. While I taught that Little Bird was all magic and no swordsmanship, I need to revise my prior evaluation of the Shugenja. He is formidable with both Fire and Sword.

With all enemies destroy; I had time to investigate the dead merchant. While I was not much interested in touching is dead flesh, we needed to find any incrementing piece of information. The only thing I found was some Koku.

As we went deeper into the mine, we discovered more zombies working the Obsidian. Slicing Wings and tried to used my techniques of leg cutting but it was not a success. It took too much time and effort. We decided to let them and destroy them on our way out of the mine. Going through the mine I question myself why was it the mine abandoned? It seems to have much obsidian left…. Is it part of the power play between the Governor and XXXX

At last we arrived at the last room. This one was a large one with a disgusting sights…. A human clothed in Unicorns colors was standing over the body of a women (the merchant that run away in the first battle). I must be the Jade Brother (and Jade Magistrate). They were also dozens of corpse piled up behind the Jade Brother. Her chest was completely open; the Jade Brother hands were dripping in blood while murmuring something.

While I step into the room, Slicing Wings did not move….. Was he afraid or did he lack courage? Being afraid is not shameful… any proper samurai would have been horrified by the scene in front of us. However, not being able to do the right thing even if you are afraid, that is the mark of a coward.

Little Bird forgot his sword and used his best weapon.. fire, unfortunately the Jade Brother walk out of the fire, with the head of his last sacrifice and throw some blood on me… IT’S HURT…… then two zombies arrived on me. With all my injuries it was impossible to try to cut the legs from underneath the zombies… While being assaulted by the zombies, Slicing Wings unfroze and moves toward the Jade Brother. While he was able to handle it’s own it is clear that he was getting as much as he was given. When Slicing Wings cut one of the hand of the Jade Brother, it became clear that he was not himself….. he seems to be possessed.

It became clear to me that zombie are mindless creatures and that the maybe they would turn to dust if the Jade Brother is destroyed. As such, I started to move away from the Zombies to get closer to the Slicing Wings and the Jade Brother. However he did not need my help as soon as he cut the Jade Brother second that the possession ended and he fell on the ground.

At the same time, a group of Lion Samurai arrived at the entrance of the room and started dispatching the zombies.

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Enquête et Insulte

Maître Shusoro dans sa bienveillance nous a informés des résultats de son enquête avec le survivant des assassins. Fait étonnant et coïncidence remarquable, le magistrat de Jade pourrait être la même personne que le frère de Jade. Fait troublant mains néanmoins sans fondement présentement. Afin de clarifier les choses et rassembler des faits, nous avons décidé de partir, Dosan le moine sans respect, Mirumoto Takeshi fine lame du clan dragon et Musashsi Nanbu hôte très attentif.

La route est comme les autres, sans éclat ni surprise. J’ai l’honneur de faire la connaissance de maître Matsu Ichiro dans un village non loin de notre destination. Après lui avoir résumé la situation des démons-zombie, il nous accorde sont soutiens pour étendre nos recherches dans la région. Ayant autorité sur le territoire au nom de son père maître Matsu Katsuo, nous savons que nous avons l’appui et le devoir d’aller plus loin dans notre enquête.

Quelques jours plus tard, nous faisons la mauvaise rencontre de Akodo Kuno, un vassal de maître Matsu mais sans respect et intégrité. Par contre, sa mauvaise humeur semble diriger presqu’exclusivement sur Dosan. Sans connaître les détails, il est évident que Dosan ne se plaindra pas d’être accompagné par 3 samouraïs ainsi que 4 yojimbos. La situation dégénère lorsque Kuno insulte mon intégrité et mon honneur de samouraï en ignorant ma présence et ma tentative de négociation. Ses yojimbo ont payé le prix de son insolence, sa peau a connu la friction du feu destructeur mais il a réussi à éviter les griffes de notre tigre. Je redoute de revoir ce samourai sans respect, il est peut-être en mesure de nous nuire significativement dans notre entreprise.

Quelques heures plus tard, aider des Kamis de la terre, nous trouvons une caverne qui potentiellement peut nous faire découvrir des indices en rapport aux événement des dernières semaines et même éclairer nos lanternes en ce qui attrait au frère ou magistrat de Jade…

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O mae wa mo shindeiru

The interrogation of the prisoner yield information that clearly show that the Jade magistrate knows by my Master is a Jade Brother of the Bloodspeakers who is traveling to the Lion lands. This create an opportunity that need to be carefully cultivated.

During our travel to follow the Jade Brother, I have discovered that Dosan is a bakana hito. He must be favored by the heaven to have reach his venerable age without wisdom and proper respect to his better. While I will not take his life yet since he may a part to play yet in the upcoming events against the Bloodspeakers (and the upcoming war), others may not show the same restraint. .. I shall not shed a tear if it happen before I lose my own self-controlled.

Shitsureina maneshinai desu ne
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The Tao of Heiwa (part 2)

As fate has cast us with the most unlikely of allies, I am reminded of a fable famously told by Shinsei to Bayushi at the tournement of the Kami. Even though most of the readers will be familiar with the fable, it is useful to put it to paper for the sake of discussion.

The Scorpion and the Frog

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back to the other side because he cannot swim.

The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because I need your help, I like you.”

The frog is satisfied and allows the scorpion to climb on his back and they set out. Suddenly, in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog.

The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink. Just before the water swallows it whole, the frog has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

The scorpion replies: “But little frog, I can swim.”

Scorpion and frog

It is said that Shinsei’s story made such an impression on Bayushi that he decided to he decided to adopt the scorpion for his mon and build its clan on the principle of the fable; «Do not expose your true nature, and others will always underestimate your capabilities.»

It is a little known fact that Shinsei actually was retelling an ancient parable and changed the scorpion reply from its original: «It is my nature». By this subtle change, Shinsei completely altered the meaning of the parable. In the original version, both the frog and scorpion drown due to the latter’s action. The parable served a warning to those who acts without restraint, that, through their impulsive behavior, they are a danger to themselves and to others.

It is not known what were Shinsei’s intention of modifying the parable but it can be argued that the moral of the modified version is inferior to the original as it runs counter to the precept of Bushido of compassion and glorifies the duplicitous behavior of the scorpion. But pershaps Shinsei sensed the path Bayushi was taking and meant for the new parable to serve as a warning to those who tread with scorpions.

The scorpion’s stinger is not as dangerous as his honeyed words.

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Le jour d'après

L’espace d’un instant, le rêve et le bonheur existe, de retour de ce marécage boueux, froid et nuisible. Maître Shosoro est un hôte attentionner et louable. M’aidant à progresser dans ma connaissance des herbes et de la médecine, nous préparons le thé qui servira à mon parent de remède contre le mal qui l’afflige depuis maintenant quelques jours au moins.

Dès le matin, la concoction est prête et nous sommes à toute fin pratique prêt à soulager le mal qui le ronge. Je me dois en rétrospective constater comment maître Shosoro est est convoiter par ses pairs. Plusieurs intervention de Nanbu ont fait que nous avons pu administrer une partie de la tisane à mon parent, par contre maître Shusoro n’était pas présent – hôte oblige – des invités prioritaires étant arrivés.

Que de confusion, traitrise et haine dans les secondes qui ont suivi l’administration de la tisane médicamenté. Soudainement mon parent est devenu un mort-vivant enragé et ensanglanté! De plus, il a essayé de me terrasser avec sa magie noire, me paralysant le bras dans sa veine tentative. DE cette agression s’en suivit une escarmouche saccadée et ponctuer de coup de katana et de brulure de Kami.

Quelle excitation et quel malheur, mon parent mort, transformer en affreuse créature que les Crabe devrait avoir déjà éliminé depuis des générations. Le fait est que cette créature ayant l’apparence de mon parent n’est pas naturel ni de ce monde. Maître Shusoro a par le fait même commencé une investigation dans la mesure de ses moyens afin de clarifier la situation. La journée for mouvementer, nous fûmes offert le gîte avec les autres invités résidant de maître Shusoro, un Samourai Lion qui semble honorable et fort bien former en l’utilisation de son katana et un moine.

Une insulte à ma ma personne ainsi qu’à ses invités, maître Shusoro s’est fait surprendre durant la nuit par des brigands de grand chemin se faisant passer pour des ninjas assassins. Quel insulte effectivement, par contre ces brigands on tenter de me tuer, ainsi que les hôtes de maître Shusoro. Par notre maîtrise de notre art de combat, les trois brigands son mort rapidement sauf un qui doit maintenant se faire interroger par maître Shusoro. Je dois souligner que maître Shusoro a racheter son honneur en nous offrant de meilleur condition afin de terminer la nuit dans une chambre individuel.

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