Tetra & Abnazia

The current political situation in the Altazian continent is clearly unsustainable. The Splinter Wars have fractured the previous states that made up the Old Alliance, creating a complicated landscape of tiny statelets and moderately-sized powers, but this is less of a stable equilibrium and more of a compromise that nobody is really happy with. Right now, the three main contenders for the new ruler of the continent – Eldemar, Sulamnon and Falkrinea – are lying low, but a new war is quietly brewing beneath the surface. The Big Three, as they are known, are constantly probing their rivals for any sign of weakness, making alliances with minor players and spying on each other for any scrap of information as to what they’re doing on their end.

Many of the current Splinter States are not strong enough to survive on their own in the long term and are well aware of this. For them, the main concerns while going into the future is whether they’ll be able to choose the ‘right’ side in the upcoming conflict and under what terms they will be absorbed by the victor. Others, though, have higher aspirations. Some, especially the states far away from the Big Three, hope to attain high degrees of autonomy by default – it is hard to govern distant places without a high degree of delegation, even with magic. Some of them hope to make themselves such a tough nut to crack that major powers would rather negotiate with them than war, whether by pursuing some kind of unique national advantage or by forging alliances with their fellow minor states.

There are two Splinter States that aim straight to the top, aiming to compete with the Big Three for the leadership role in a future Altazian super-state. These are Tetra and Abnazia, two relatively large and prosperous states in the western part of the continent.

Though powerful, neither Tetra not Abnazia are really states on the level of the Big Three. This, coupled with the considerable distance between them and the heartland of the continent, causes the Big Three to be dismissive of these two ‘pretenders’. The state that ends up controlling Altazia’s Central Valley, with its vast population and industry, holds an insurmountable advantage over some so-called ‘power’ out there on the periphery of the continent.

Tetra and Abnazia are well aware of all this, of course, it’s just that they don’t think any of the Big Three will be able to triumph over the other two any time soon. It’s all well and good to say that the continent will be united eventually, but if that ‘eventually’ turns out to be several decades of grueling warfare, that gives rising powers like them a fair amount of time to work with. Moreover, while the Big Three are busy fighting for the Central Valley, they can hardly stop Tetra and Abnazia from securing their local region by swallowing up any vulnerable nearby states.

The Kingdom of Tetra is a trading nation, heavily involved in the trade with Miasina and Hsan. They have a very large and capable navy, but their military is of dubious strength. It looks good on paper, but it is a product of recent militarization, making it somewhat disorganized and untested in the actual field of battle. They have an extremely firm grasp on the trade routes going through the Shivan Archipelago and the Xlotic coast, having achieved virtual monopoly in certain markets, and they are constantly pushing for more. There is considerable conflict between the crown faction, which wants the kingdom to keep pursuing its current path of vying for supremacy in Altazia, and the merchant faction, which is pushing towards a less belligerent stance that would see the state focus exclusively trade concerns and avoid entangling themselves in Altazian politics. Their main rival is Falkrinea, which is similarly trade focused and also possesses a powerful fleet.

The Kingdom of Abnazia does not have any particular strength, but also no obvious weakness either. They are somewhat like Eldemar in this regard, but with better diplomacy. Abnazia wishes to expand westward, towards the frontier states located beyond the Winter Mountains. These lands are poorly developed and sparsely populated, having been colonized only recently, but any country that could unite all this land under its rule would have quite a bit of power on its fingertips. Quantity has a quality all of its own, after all. In any case, although Abnazia claims these lands rightfully belong to them (a lot of the colonists came from Abnazia originally, due to its closeness and strategic position), nobody else is willing to tolerate naked aggression on their part. Thus, they are quietly building up their forces and laying down the groundwork for the eventual occupation by subverting various interest groups in the targeted frontier states. The current consensus is that Abnazia is being too ambitious, trying to swallow more than they can chew, but if their plan succeeds and they stabilize the vast western frontier under their rule, they could potentially become a genuine contender for leadership of the continent.

(You can find the location of Tetra and Abnazia on a map I posted way back.)

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46 thoughts on “Tetra & Abnazia

  1. So the Big Three are described as wealthy, but that’s in relation to each other. How does that wealth translate into practical effects? For example, what percentage of the population are farmers? What is the population of the bigger states? What’s the literacy rate? If the splinter states were more than allies of convenience, could they establish an intercontinental railroad?

    If Zach really dedicated himself to it, could he meaningfully increase the rate that Eldemar subdues the northern wilds? And if he were to do so, would he do better as a one man army clearing continuous area, or would he be the guy that other people call in to deal with some monster or area that’s too dangerous for them?

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    • I think he would be able to meaningfully help. but more in the red robed sort of way as he could create a significantly more optimized plan in a loop or two. The trick would be finding people to listen to him and before Zorian he had no one that he can now remember.

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    • I did not think too deeply about percentage of farmers in the setting and the like, but I did imagine the general technology level to be at about 1850s (boosted in some places by presence of magic and depressed by it’s existence in others), so I went to check how society was like in those times. Apparently the percentage of agricultural workers in France in 1851 was 66%, and in the USA it was 58%. Those sound like pretty sensible numbers, so let’s say the percentage of farmers in Altazia hovers around 60%. Next, I see that that France had a population of about 35 million at that time, and Spain had about 15 million. I’m going to be recklessly smush those two numbers together and say that the population of Altazia’s Central Valley is about 50 million, even though I’ve done no real math and I have no idea how realistic that is. Literacy in France was at nearly 70% in this period, which is pretty high but this fits perfectly into the setting, since Altazian states push for literacy pretty hard.

      Yes, the Splinter States could establish an intercontinental railroad if they were friendlier to each other. Even as it is, there are railroads crossing over multiple countries along certain important routes.

      Yes, Zach could meaningfully increase the colonization of the northern wilds. The best way to do so would be the second method you outlined, clearing particularly dangerous creatures. He has a combination of extreme mobility and firepower that makes him extremely useful for rapid response to threats. He wouldn’t be actively seeking out major threats so much as wait for critical missions and calls for help. (Though in all honesty, Eldemar authorities would probably consider such use of a mage like Zach to be a major waste. If Zach revealed his abilities and tried to implement this idea, they would do their best to talk him into providing his services to the Kingdom in other, ‘better’ ways.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kind of funny that Abnazia can flat out claim ownership of foreign territories, and it still has notably better diplomacy than Eldemar.

    It stands out to me that Altazia has so much riding on diplomacy and dealings with minor states, and Eldemar happens to have an army of telepathic spiders they could recruit. Seems like a perfect opportunity.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. How easy would it be for Zach and zorian to develop relationships with well known public figures like nobles and organization heads in these territories? How strong is the zenophobia? Would people in Tetra or abnazia refusedoing business with Zach and Zorian purely because of their nationality?

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    • Pretty easy. The xenophobia (I assume you meant that and that ‘zenophobia’ is a mistype) is not that strong and both of them have a lot to offer to catch people’s attention. Zorian would experience no issue whatsoever, as he is a commoner and has no existing links to Eldemar government. Him being from Eldemar would be considered merely a curiosity, nothing more. Zach would inspire some degree of wariness, as he is a member of a Noble House and thus technically part of Eldemar’s government, but the fact he is the only one left and that he has a really obvious reason to resent Eldemar would help set people at ease about dealing with him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, “zenophobia” was a mistype.

        And thank you for answering.

        I would like to see Zach and Zorian try raiding every royal treasury on the continent. It would be interesting to see how the various nations react. It would be even more interesting to see Zach and Zorian try to raid the treasuries of Ulquan Ibasa (I don’t know if I spelled that correctly.)

        I wonder if that would increase their aggression toward Eldemar or if it would shock and intimidate them into not attacking at all. This is assuming they could pull off such a plan in the first place.

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  4. Hey Nobody103

    Have you had thoughts about writing sidechapters with different characters in some of the restarts where Zorian messed up? Like chapter 6 for example, where Zorian was murdered in the academy apartments after telling a teacher about the invasion. Or chapter 52 when Cyoria was turned upside down by government investigators and a lot of high profile politicians were arrested. It might be interesting to see how other characters (Fortov, Ilsa, Taiven, Xvim, Benisek) would react to those turns of events during the rest of the month as it progressed towards its end.

    Also with the chapters about Blantyrre coming up I’m kind of curious how the time loop affects them since it’s the middle of the day there, do the inhabitants notice anything strange when the Soveregin Gate starts a new iteration (apart from the spiritual realms being cut off)?

    Love your story btw, keep up the good work.

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    • I decided very early on to strictly limit my POV to one character only. This is both a stylistic choice and something of a necessity – while multiple POVs can be done well, I have observed a lot of new authors bog themselves down with various POVs and causing the plot progression to slow to a glacial pace. Considering the premise of the story, which is already really prone to nothing much happening for large stretches of time, I felt it would be wise to ward off such a danger by limiting myself in such a way. I’ve never regretted this decision, and I think seeing things solely from Zorian’s point of view makes the story ultimately better.

      Nobody notices anything strange when the time loop resets itself, no. That would kind of defeat the whole point of the setup.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A few thoughts about the technology/culture.

    Zorian’s parents are described as arriving in Koth by steamship, which indicates that steam power is fairly advanced, as sail ships had a significant advantage over longer routes as they did not have to carry fuel. It also implies the infrastructure to support them.

    Taiven has been described as athletic and wearing tight clothing, which indicates they have elastic and fairly advanced materials.

    There’s no indication that Zorian’s family has any servants, which would be odd for the 1850’s. Agatha Christie (IIRC) once said that she never imagined being so rich she could own a motor car or so poor that she wouldn’t have a servant.

    Zorian, in the fight outside the temple, was able to act between shots of the mercenaries, which indicates single shot rifles. are they breach or muzzle loading?

    Would Zorian (if the Eldemar government reacts with paranoia and ingratitude to having its second city saved) have any difficulty in moving abroad and selling golem/gate technology to T/A without being mistaken for a spy or having a dangerous amount of control of the infracstructure?

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    • Some interesting thoughts there, yes. I did not consider the servants thing at all, I must admit.

      MoL societies definitely have superior materials compared to real life 1850s. This is partially because there are so many outright magical materials scattered around, but also because alteration spells provide a superior tool to manipulate and transform raw materials with. Medicine is similarly more advanced, thought because of divination spells rather than alteration.

      No idea what kind of rifles they use. I was never an expert on guns, I fear.

      Selling golems would be easy enough, though established golem-making organizations would not be happy about such a competitor and would do everything in their power to pull him into their orbit or shut him down. Selling gate technology would cause an uproar, though, because it’s such a major game changer. In such a situation, he would be best by recruitment offers and assassination attempts alike, and he’d have little to look forward to except either running away from pursuers all his life or binding himself firmly to one power and living in a gilded cage.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, I don’t like such major changes being done so late. It would totally ruin my conception of character relations, since I never considered any servants when I considered Kazinski family past and Zorian’s relation to everyone else. Best to leave that sort of thing be at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah adding servants this late would change a lot of things. But maybe you could drop a few mentions of stay-out servants? Such domestic helpers would arguably have less of an influence on Zorian and his relationships than live-in servants who would share the house with his family. Admittedly, such a servant would honestly have very little impact on the story other than making it more historically accurate.

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      • If it comes up, you could drop a line saying that Zorian’s family don’t like using servants for whatever reason.

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      • It seems to me that it could make sense if magical tools used for domestic work were more of a status symbol in this setting than servants. Perhaps specifically for wealthy commoners if servants are common among the nobility (who might still be stuck in older traditions). Kind of how cars were considered more of a luxury in the Agatha Christie statement mentioned above. This could be the reason why Zorian’s family don’t have any live-in servants.

        Perhaps many independent commoner mages, who lacks the support structure of noble families, have seen servants as a liability for keeping their secrets safe (stereotypically living alone in a tower, perhaps with a few trusted apprentices) could be a contributing factor to this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder if maybe magic- and in particular, the history of mage nobility- has had an effect on the popularity of servants. I could see a certain disdain arising among such people that if you need servants to do things for you, you’re obviously not a good enough mage. Not to mention all the little tasks that magic can render irrelevant which servants would take care of in our world, like keeping fires going or moving heavy items.

        Probably once a family has a big enough household to take care of or a good enough reputation for magic, they would hire servants, but until that point it could look like an admission that your family doesn’t have the magical ability to take care of their own household. Just a random thought.

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      • have you considered Dreyse needle gun its a singel shot percussion cap paper cartridge that came out in germani 1841

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    • Well… one of the reason could be that the weeping cause a large dip in population. Fearing spread of disease and better opportunities due to lack of manpower made hiring a servant unfeasible.

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  6. It seems like this is a setting where a single powerful archmage can, if not quite topple governments on their own, at least have *some* impact on the balance of power. It’s also a setting where it’s possible for such people to remain at least somewhat inconspicuous. (See Xvim.) Is part of what keeps the peace the uncertainty that the various nations have regarding how many such powerful mages their neighbors can really command? It seems like no one could really know until there’s a general muster for war and either the most powerful mages show up for duty or use their abilities to duck out of service.

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    • Although what you describe is a minor factor, the main reason for the peace is that previous wars had exhausted the manpower of the Splinter States and the Weeping compounded on that. That said, the presence of reclusive archmages and the like does make people leery of pushing things too far when conquering territory. Some people that would normally not lift a finger to help their home state in be roused to action if the enemy is too brutal or intends to abolish autonomy/privileges they enjoy under the current government. This is part of the reason why MoL-verse states tend to be so relatively fragile and why Splinter Wars caused so many new states to spring into existence.

      Liked by 2 people

      • How would a state deal with a teleporting archmage conducting guerrilla warfare? Even a single such enemy seems like it would be a complete nightmare. Zorian for example, even without abusing his gate-simulacra trick, could while his main body was safe hiding very far away, just keep sending simulacra.

        Zach (or worse Quatach-Ichl whom despite knowing where he will appear, the Zorian and his allies have never managed to best in combat) would probably be even harder to deal with. His huge mana reserve would give him unmatched strategic mobility and he has immense firepower.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right. Such a scenario is a nightmare. Pretty much the only way to deal with such a mage is to lure them into a trap or track them down to their hideout. Most of such mages will not pick their targets in a truly random fashion and probably have a stronghold they keep coming back to. Unless they are incredibly careful, they are going to leave at least some clues as to their identity and movements.

        Well, that and sinking a lot of money and effort into shielding critical infrastructure with powerful anti-teleportation wards. It is, in fact, entirely possible to totally shut down all forms of dimensionalism with wards, it’s just too expensive to do so on a wide-scale basis. But every major city and military base has teleport redirection wards, or even total teleportation blocks, so it’s not totally trivial to implement such a hit-and-run operation.

        Anyway, a plan for dealing with teleporting guerillas would look something like this:
        1. Send forensic diviners to places of previous attacks and see if they can find any clues.
        2. Post as many diviners as possible in the region where the guerrillas are operating, doing constant wide-area scans in hopes of catching them in the act before they can attack and retreat. Requires numerical superiority.
        3. Wait for them to attack a bunch of targets and then predict future targets based on the patterns revealed. Put traps and kill zones around targets in question.
        3b. Make a honeypot that the guerrillas can’t resist attacking.
        4. Make sure you have an extensive communication network and your own teleporters. Put your own teleporters on stand-by and wait for the guerrillas to attack somewhere. The moment you get word of their attack, send your teleporters there to counter-attack.
        5. Consolidate your forces into larger groups that are harder to pick off by small groups of teleporters.
        6. Identify where the attackers are getting their supplies from and where their most likely hideouts and staging grounds are. Most mages, even highly capable ones, cannot operate on their own and without some kind of infrastructure.
        7. See if you can bribe the teleporters into switching sides. Everyone has a price…
        8. If all else fails, grit your teeth and wait for them to make a mistake. Nobody is perfect, right? Hopefully you have more men and funding than the guerrillas have patience and spirit to keep going…

        Liked by 3 people

      • Splinter states largely revolve around individual/handful of mages? Does this mean that if Quatach-Ichl dies in the invasion, the Ibasan’s will lose a lot of their state’s power?

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      • Uh, no? Where did I say that Splinter States largely revolve around a handful of mages? They don’t. Actually, MoL-verse is one of the fictional universes that isn’t particularly conductive to a powerful individuals crushing everything around them all by themselves, because it’s actually possible to counter powerful mages with groups of weaker ones.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It was how I interpreted your response to Matthew. “That said, the presence of reclusive archmages and the like does make people leery of pushing things too far when conquering territory. (…) This is part of the reason why MoL-verse states tend to be so relatively fragile and why Splinter Wars caused so many new states to spring into existence.”

        I guess I had a difference sense of magnitude than you intended, or maybe you were talking about larger groups of mages rather than individuals.

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      • I was talking about individuals, but in aggregate. As in, if various individuals and small groups that usually don’t involve themselves into politics rise up and work with one of the sides in the conflict, the offending country might be in trouble.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Regarding long distance travel. Zorian has been teleporting significant distances within Eldemar for a long time now and it has been explained that you can teleport to a location you have visited before. It also doesn’t take a very long time to recover your mana.

    When a mage has traveled somewhere once, couldn’t they just repeatedly teleport along the route the traveled? In that case why are Zorian and Zach having so much trouble with how to reach the final artifact within a month? Zach would be able to teleport six times as many times as Zorian before running out of mana. Then it is just a matter of hours (using mana crystals if he doesn’t happen to stop in a high mana area) until he is back at full mana again.

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    • Well, I’m guessing that’s something that does happen- I seem to recall that after the first trip it took the simulacrum less time to reach Koth- but the distances involved apparently still make that an impractical option. Which is unsurprising, since a) it’s a pretty huge distance and b) they have things to do in Altazia that preclude leaving for that long, such as using the Black Rooms, training with Silverlake, and working with the aranea.

      Also, the two remaining Keys are in Blantyrre and the Xlotic desert. In both of those cases, the problem isn’t distance so much as it is places to stop and rest between teleports along the way- one is surrounded by ocean without a convenient connecting archipelago, and the other is surrounded by deeply inhospitable land. (Which is not to say that distance isn’t a problem of its own, because Blantyrre in particular is about as distant as it gets.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • And of course at this point, any time they’ve already been where they’re going, they can just use the Bakora Gates to get there. Which has more or less been the case for as long they’ve been travelling distances that are impractical for teleport.

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      • I find it pretty surprising given that Zach can travel six times as fast as Zorian (even more than that when Zorian is mantaining simulacra). Also, the simulacra traveling to Koth eventually became able to get there with significant time to spare. Are the remaining keys really so much further away than the one in Koth?

        There are ways to rest for a few hours on the sea and in a dessert though. Especially with magic.

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    • There are a few issues with that, aside from what Neceros said:
      1. Zach can’t make a simulacrum, so he would have to give up everything and focus on the trip.
      2. A person teleporting more people alongside themselves would spend more mana on the task than if they were alone, so there would be inefficiencies.
      3. If they spend all of their mana on teleports, they’ll be very vulnerable while they wait for it to recharge. Doing that in a coastal city is merely annoying and slightly risky, but doing that in the middle of the wilderness is asking to be killed and eaten. Reserve some of your mana for defense, you say? Well, your journey just got noticeably slower…
      4. Blantyrre can’t be reached by teleportation at all. Teleporting to a patch of featureless, constantly-shifting ocean is much harder that doing so on the ground, where you can find a convenient landmark. Not to mention that there is an issue of how to keep yourself out of the water… any solution to that (bringing a ship, permanent flight) would massively inflate the mana costs of the journey.
      5. Teleporting to Xlotic interior first requires reaching the places you want to teleport to. That means first slowly trekking through a harsh, dangerous desert to get there. Z&Z aren’t experiences with desert expeditions so this would probably take a lot more time than you’re assuming. They’d succeed eventually, no doubt about it, but they would rather avoid that if possible.

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      • Would keeping a reserve really slow down the journey like that though? It seems to me that it would just mean more frequent shorter stops. For example, if you keep half your mana in reserve, you would have to stop twice as often, but you would only have to recover half as much each time.

        A ship or permanent flight seems like overkill for that problem. Something to that floats to hold on to would probably be enough in most situations.

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      • You’re assuming that those reserves will remain just that and won’t actually get used for anything. A pretty unreasonable assumption, if you ask me.

        ‘Something that floats’ will still have to teleported along with them, greatly increasing the mana expenditure of an already difficult jump. To be honest I kind of included that under the ‘ship’ part of the sentence. Any raft big enough to comfortably hold Z&Z on it would still be pretty big.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. A few questions about the time loop and its effects on the primordial Panaxeth (I’m referring to him using the masculine pronoun, as he’s also called “He Who Shapes Flesh”):

    It’s been established that at the moment time loops, the entire universe within the loop ceases to exist, and is recreated.

    It’s been established that the Sovereign Gate has attached to the primordials’ real prisons, and hasn’t recreated the primordials themselves.

    And it has been established that, at least once and quite possibly in most restarts, Panaxeth is released from prison and pulls himself, at least partially, into the universe within the Sovereign Gate.

    Does the reset damage Panaxeth in any meaningful way? The universe is ceasing to exist, and Panaxeth has, at least partially, extended himself into that universe, so it would make sense that the piece he’s extended would get lopped off. Unless the primordial really is a universe and therefore can continue to exist as a unified whole as another universe is destroyed around him.

    In a related question: does Panaxeth remember each restart?

    I also thought of questions about how the primordial can act on two worlds with time passing at such different rates, but I figure that comes down to “primordials have god-like power and can perceive time however they damn well choose.”

    Thanks!

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    • This is not something that anyone in-universe can answer, but I’m the author so here: a primordial really is a miniature universe and can therefore continue to exist as a unified whole as another universe is destroyed around him (as you so succinctly put it). And yes, he does, in fact, remember each restart.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thanks!

        That has got to be incredibly frustrating for Panaxeth (as well as the other primordials, who are presumably in the same boat). If they didn’t already hate humanity before the Sovereign Gate was created, to the point where they had to be locked up, I’d be worried about this antagonizing them further.

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  9. So Tetra is where the ancient city was teleported by the massive teleportation ritual. I would bet that those mages left quite an inheritance of knowledge regarding dimensionalism and all the other magics they were skilled in. It would probably be worth the time to some day visit the site of the teleported city and try to get in contact with some of the more skilled mages in the land to see what might be learned. If there is any place that probaby has a wealth of accumlated magic knowledge, it’s probably Tetra. Such knowledge would probably be restricted to a specific mage community, but that community would be worth contacting. Something for the epilogue perhaps as Zorian and Tavien are exploring the continent after getting married.

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