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LaPorte Caves

17 Apr 2017 18:11 #53681 by Pepper
Replied by Pepper on topic LaPorte Caves
Another great chapter. I was struck by the part where Julia studies psychology while she's preparing the tutoring program for Howard. I kinda wonder if the psychological knowledge of that world would be applicable to him, or whether anyone in the Weald would bother to study male psychology at all. My impression of that world has been that men aren't really expected to pursue their own happiness, but rather to view a woman's happiness as a higher goal than their own. To the extent that women study men, it would be how to get more out of them rather than to understand how they can feel better about themselves. Or, an alternate view is that men there are roughly equivalent to men here. But if that's the case, it casts that whole world in a different light. The way women treat men would be incredibly psychologically damaging; they have no privacy, no right to physical safety, and their bodies and minds can be hijacked any time a woman chooses. If the women there do understand male psychology, and still treat them the way they do, it's really quite monstrous.

Woodclaw wrote: Chapter 21 it's a really interesting turning point, but it also highlight one interesting dycotomy in how Julia is currently handling herself. On one hand it's nice to see her finally playing her strength, not the ones given to her by the Nourishment, but those she has because of who she is and how her experience has shaped her so far. On the other her relationship seem to be getting closer and closer to the breaking point: Julia clearly means well and she want to help Howard somehow, but her approach so far has been so ham-fisted that it's kind of surprising seeing her understanding other people so well. I think that the biggest problem is that she hasn't really adjusted to the idea of having the upper hand on Howard so completely: with the people at Ruth's company she was able to empatize because she had been in their spot for most of her life, but with Howard she just can't find a balance point.

I agree with you for the most part, but it seems like Julia and Howard have stepped back from the brink a little bit in this latest chapter. Julia seems to be finally trying to understand how Howard feels about things, and she has put some effort into giving him some tools to cope in that world. On the other hand, she still considers him feeble, has to stop herself from constantly correcting him, and thinks nothing of drugging him without his knowledge or consent.

This chapter switched back to Julia's point-of-view, so maybe her assessment of Howard's state of mind may not be the same as his own.
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17 Apr 2017 20:03 #53683 by smoki07
Replied by smoki07 on topic LaPorte Caves
I did not expected this twist about Julia's behavior to howard, relationship seems going on good track. Now there is maybe a mindgame played by her even if she means well. If the video game project will be a sucess, Ruth may offer a job in company and that will cause a crisis in the couple. can't wait for more.
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17 Apr 2017 22:19 #53686 by Pepper
Replied by Pepper on topic LaPorte Caves
There's another passage from chapter 21 that is kind of nagging at me. From right at the beginning (Julia speaking first).

“Your skin has lost all of its color. And your mind seems somewhere else. What’s going on in that head of yours?”

“Not as much as what’s going on in yours.” He replied in the direction of the ceiling. “Everything I’m thinking, everything I’m capable of thinking, probably seems so trivial to you.”

“That’s not true honey.” Her heart ached to watch the machinations of his feeble brain. “What you think is very important to me.”

I kind of expected Howard to say something like "everything I'm thinking may have been put in my head by you."

Julia replies that what Howard thinks is important to her, but is it? It's just a few lines later that he says he's not in the mood to sleep, but she knocks him out and he sleeps anyway. Julia may tell herself that Howard's thoughts are important, but they aren't so important that she won't override them and replace them with other thoughts that she likes better.
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18 Apr 2017 05:40 #53691 by circes_cup
Replied by circes_cup on topic LaPorte Caves

Pepper wrote: There's another passage from chapter 21 that is kind of nagging at me. From right at the beginning (Julia speaking first).

“Your skin has lost all of its color. And your mind seems somewhere else. What’s going on in that head of yours?”

“Not as much as what’s going on in yours.” He replied in the direction of the ceiling. “Everything I’m thinking, everything I’m capable of thinking, probably seems so trivial to you.”

“That’s not true honey.” Her heart ached to watch the machinations of his feeble brain. “What you think is very important to me.”

I kind of expected Howard to say something like "everything I'm thinking may have been put in my head by you."

Julia replies that what Howard thinks is important to her, but is it? It's just a few lines later that he says he's not in the mood to sleep, but she knocks him out and he sleeps anyway. Julia may tell herself that Howard's thoughts are important, but they aren't so important that she won't override them and replace them with other thoughts that she likes better.


Thanks Pepper! Here's my take: We all like to think that we value our partner's thoughts, until those thoughts turn out to be at odds with our own. Julia suggests that she values Howards thoughts, but then Howard grows so despondent that it seems unhealthy, and Julia decides that mutual respect has to take a back seat to sleep and recovery. It's so easy for her to cross the line from hands-off to just fixing the problem herself..... or convincing herself she can fix it.
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18 Apr 2017 05:48 #53692 by circes_cup
Replied by circes_cup on topic LaPorte Caves

smoki07 wrote: I did not expected this twist about Julia's behavior to howard, relationship seems going on good track. Now there is maybe a mindgame played by her even if she means well. If the video game project will be a sucess, Ruth may offer a job in company and that will cause a crisis in the couple. can't wait for more.

grungykitten wrote: Chapter 21 is fantastic! Totally moves the story in a new and very welcome direction. Julia's newfound spine is exactly what she needed, and i can't wait to see where it takes her.



Thanks guys!!

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18 Apr 2017 12:07 #53700 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic LaPorte Caves

circes_cup wrote:

Pepper wrote: There's another passage from chapter 21 that is kind of nagging at me. From right at the beginning (Julia speaking first).

“Your skin has lost all of its color. And your mind seems somewhere else. What’s going on in that head of yours?”

“Not as much as what’s going on in yours.” He replied in the direction of the ceiling. “Everything I’m thinking, everything I’m capable of thinking, probably seems so trivial to you.”

“That’s not true honey.” Her heart ached to watch the machinations of his feeble brain. “What you think is very important to me.”

I kind of expected Howard to say something like "everything I'm thinking may have been put in my head by you."

Julia replies that what Howard thinks is important to her, but is it? It's just a few lines later that he says he's not in the mood to sleep, but she knocks him out and he sleeps anyway. Julia may tell herself that Howard's thoughts are important, but they aren't so important that she won't override them and replace them with other thoughts that she likes better.


Thanks Pepper! Here's my take: We all like to think that we value our partner's thoughts, until those thoughts turn out to be at odds with our own. Julia suggests that she values Howards thoughts, but then Howard grows so despondent that it seems unhealthy, and Julia decides that mutual respect has to take a back seat to sleep and recovery. It's so easy for her to cross the line from hands-off to just fixing the problem herself..... or convincing herself she can fix it.


The biggest is that from a certain perspective Julia's actions are rational: Howard is a very opinionated and indipendent man in world where these traits might easily lead to an early grave. From a strictly logical perspective Julia's wish to make him a bit less vocal is reasonable, but what I think she don't understand is that by doing this she keep intruding in a very unhealthy way for both of them: for Howard each time she use her powers to control him it hurts both his self-esteem and his love for her, for Julia it's a small step toward the edge of the cliff. It's funny that a number of women from the Weald seem to be genuinely attracted by Howard and his attitude either because they see a challenge in it or because they really seek a more active and confrontational partner.
Anyway, just the simple fact that Julia was able to spy on Howard while he was on the atoll and doesn't seem to be that much bothered by it reveals one interesting detail: how Julia perceive personal space. For a long time of my life I had been a very shy, introverted person without much self-esteem (I still am in many ways), which might make my judgement very biased, but I think that two element are concurring to her constant intruding into Howard's sphere:
  1. Having been the weaker part of the relationship for a long time, Julia see has her duty to protect Howard in the Weald much in the same way he did with her on Earth.
  2. Possibly due to her introverted persona, I suspect that Julia has a very limited perception of personal space and so she consider most of intrusions to be relatively minor and throughly justified by her growing concerns.

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18 Apr 2017 12:40 #53702 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic LaPorte Caves
I would also add a new perspective to the whole story that Chapter 21 actually brought to the surface: so far LaPorte really didn't have any real superwoman.

What do I mean by that?

In a recent chat Njae pointed it out for me: in a world where everybody has powers, none is really super (misquoting Syndrome a bit). This is actually a very valid point, for the people of the weald the fact that Julia can benchpress a house or hear them sigh from across town is utterly normal (albeit still terrifying), none of that makes her special because that's what they expect out of a woman. What sets Julia apart and might make her super is her ability to empatize with the men of the weald. From our perspective this is trivial, but from theirs it's huge. I said many times before that the real bane of the Weald isn't Nourishment, but Pre-Nourishment, because getting powers -- however limited -- from a young age robs most women of the ability to empatize and understand the hardship men are experiencing. Even women that are exceptionally perceptive and understanding, as Ruth seem to be very often, only understand these problems on a rational and intellectual perspective. It's the same difference that there is between reading about a illness and getting infected for real. In this sense the ability to see things from the perspective of these men is Julia's actual superpower.
This is sometimes called Mooreffoc effect -- a world first used by C.K. Chesterton and later by J.R.R. Tolkien -- when something apparently ordinary becomes extraordinary looked from a completely different perspective. I pretty much wrote my entire bachelor degree thesis on how this effect was one of the basic premises of Terry Pratchett's Discworld ;)

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18 Apr 2017 14:49 #53703 by Pepper
Replied by Pepper on topic LaPorte Caves

Woodclaw wrote: In a recent chat Njae pointed it out for me: in a world where everybody has powers, none is really super (misquoting Syndrome a bit). This is actually a very valid point, for the people of the weald the fact that Julia can benchpress a house or hear them sigh from across town is utterly normal (albeit still terrifying), none of that makes her special because that's what they expect out of a woman. What sets Julia apart and might make her super is her ability to empatize with the men of the weald. From our perspective this is trivial, but from theirs it's huge. I said many times before that the real bane of the Weald isn't Nourishment, but Pre-Nourishment, because getting powers -- however limited -- from a young age robs most women of the ability to empatize and understand the hardship men are experiencing. Even women that are exceptionally perceptive and understanding, as Ruth seem to be very often, only understand these problems on a rational and intellectual perspective. It's the same difference that there is between reading about a illness and getting infected for real. In this sense the ability to see things from the perspective of these men is Julia's actual superpower.

Interesting analysis, and I agree that Julia's history gives her a unique perspective on how to deal with men. I still wonder if a nourished woman could achieve the same result through purely rational and intellectual means. Ruth or Kylia (the manager that Julia is replacing in Ruth's company) could have done just what Julia did when making the flashcard program for Howard. They could have read all the psychology papers, learned just what level of vocabulary would work best when interacting with male programmers, what sort of facial and verbal feedback indicates that they have maximum understanding, how often to check on their progress, whether to use a carrot or a stick as rewards, that sort of thing. I think it's telling that neither of them did.

A huge part of the problem, and I think I've mentioned this before, is that the women have created a world in which they have all the power and none of the accountability. What I describe would be trivially easy for a nourished woman (Isn't everything?), but she'd still have to think of it. If every misunderstanding is the man's fault, why should a woman do anything different than they always have done?

And we don't really know if the intellectual approach will work; let's see how Howard is doing after a day or two with his flashcards. It's kinda fascinating (and I wonder if circes_cup did this deliberately) that Julia is able to empathize immediately with total strangers at work, but reads academic papers online to understand the one man she's supposed to know intimately.

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20 Apr 2017 06:30 #53724 by circes_cup
Replied by circes_cup on topic LaPorte Caves

Pepper wrote:

Woodclaw wrote: In a recent chat Njae pointed it out for me: in a world where everybody has powers, none is really super (misquoting Syndrome a bit). This is actually a very valid point, for the people of the weald the fact that Julia can benchpress a house or hear them sigh from across town is utterly normal (albeit still terrifying), none of that makes her special because that's what they expect out of a woman. What sets Julia apart and might make her super is her ability to empatize with the men of the weald. From our perspective this is trivial, but from theirs it's huge. I said many times before that the real bane of the Weald isn't Nourishment, but Pre-Nourishment, because getting powers -- however limited -- from a young age robs most women of the ability to empatize and understand the hardship men are experiencing. Even women that are exceptionally perceptive and understanding, as Ruth seem to be very often, only understand these problems on a rational and intellectual perspective. It's the same difference that there is between reading about a illness and getting infected for real. In this sense the ability to see things from the perspective of these men is Julia's actual superpower.

Interesting analysis, and I agree that Julia's history gives her a unique perspective on how to deal with men. I still wonder if a nourished woman could achieve the same result through purely rational and intellectual means. Ruth or Kylia (the manager that Julia is replacing in Ruth's company) could have done just what Julia did when making the flashcard program for Howard. They could have read all the psychology papers, learned just what level of vocabulary would work best when interacting with male programmers, what sort of facial and verbal feedback indicates that they have maximum understanding, how often to check on their progress, whether to use a carrot or a stick as rewards, that sort of thing. I think it's telling that neither of them did.

A huge part of the problem, and I think I've mentioned this before, is that the women have created a world in which they have all the power and none of the accountability. What I describe would be trivially easy for a nourished woman (Isn't everything?), but she'd still have to think of it. If every misunderstanding is the man's fault, why should a woman do anything different than they always have done?

And we don't really know if the intellectual approach will work; let's see how Howard is doing after a day or two with his flashcards. It's kinda fascinating (and I wonder if circes_cup did this deliberately) that Julia is able to empathize immediately with total strangers at work, but reads academic papers online to understand the one man she's supposed to know intimately.


I think these are all good points. The story had avoided differentiating between the women until this point, but yes, now we at starting to see how Julia and even Ruth are different from the others, and how that creates its own power. And certainly, the fact that some form of Nourishment is used even in childhood years would dampen empathy.

I thought Pepper's point Julia's empathy was an interesting one: she has a better time understanding strangers than her own boyfriend. I had not done that deliberately, but perhaps instinctively. We spend more time with our partners than anyone else in the world, but sometimes we feel that we understand them less than anyone else in the world, because we are trying to understand them on a different level.

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22 Apr 2017 16:51 #53746 by efelton
Replied by efelton on topic LaPorte Caves
Long time reader of the LaPorte Caves here, since it was on brawna in fact. Love the work and eagerly await each new installment.

I have lots of thoughts on the Howard-Julia confrontation in the new chapter and might share them in a bit but really just wanted to delurk and thank circes for all the entertainment.
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22 Apr 2017 17:51 #53748 by AuGoose
Replied by AuGoose on topic LaPorte Caves
Finished part 21. I'm enjoying the ongoing world building. Our protagonists are a train wreck but at least they're talking to each other :).

Some idyll musings on Howard's free time, with Julia out of the house.

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]
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22 Apr 2017 18:28 #53749 by circes_cup
Replied by circes_cup on topic LaPorte Caves

AuGoose wrote: Finished part 21. I'm enjoying the ongoing world building. Our protagonists are a train wreck but at least they're talking to each other :).

Some idyll musings on Howard's free time, with Julia out of the house.

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]


I like it! Makes me want to go back and write more of a backstory for Ruth. But most importantly, it broke a logjam for me on something I wanted to do with Howard a few chapters later. Thanks!
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23 Apr 2017 08:13 #53753 by circes_cup
Replied by circes_cup on topic LaPorte Caves

efelton wrote: Long time reader of the LaPorte Caves here, since it was on brawna in fact. Love the work and eagerly await each new installment.

I have lots of thoughts on the Howard-Julia confrontation in the new chapter and might share them in a bit but really just wanted to delurk and thank circes for all the entertainment.


Really glad you're enjoying it. It's gratifying for me to see that the story has brought some new voices on the forums here. Also, the story has grown bigger and more complicated than I had intended, and I'm very appreciative that a handful of readers are still enjoying it and following it twenty two chapters in!
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23 Apr 2017 20:21 #53759 by smoki07
Replied by smoki07 on topic LaPorte Caves
It is surprising that Julia understood that a computer programmation is too difficult for men but she can't get that his man can't distinguish the kinds of coffee. What if it is the duiana trees which is making men dumber ? And What is this parasite that scientists talked about. the citizenship became a good twist that mess with Julia's head. Julia still ajusting to her reality.Howard was violent as well saying last phrase. Great chap!

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23 Apr 2017 20:43 #53760 by efelton
Replied by efelton on topic LaPorte Caves
I have not read a scene as romantically awkward as the one between Howard and Julia at the end of ch 22, since the dinner party in Lois Bujold's "A Civil Campaign" (recommended for those who read this website since the male lead is physically inferior to his romantic partners and for other reasons). For me, the story is going in Romantic comedy direction, in fact it's almost Screwball comedy. And I'm really enjoying it.

Julia goes in with the intention to check in with him, maybe romance him a bit, get him a cup of coffee and a back massage. Five minutes later, after staggering ineptitude she leaves him furious, humiliated and burned.

I don't think she has any excuse. Her apologies have worn thin for me. She's pulled the same move too many times for it to be accidental. Again and again she's rubbed Howard's face in the fact that he is strictly inferior to her. Now, I have no problem with her unapologetically showing him who she is. The situation between them has changed and he has to understand that. But even someone as inflexible and infuriating as Howard has pretty much got it by now. The underlying narrative to their every dialogue is an appraisal by her of his abilities and how much they now lack in comparison to her. She knows he's sensitive on this point. And yet on and on it goes. She can't help but draw attention to it. One brief conversation: he can never learn back massage as well as she can; he has only made meager progress on learning the Weald's written script; he can't distinguish the two coffees by sense of smell. (And countless, countless other examples since ch6.) I think most people would find being subjected to such treatment quite tedious. She's being a jerk!

Howard scalding his hand on the paperweight was a telling story beat for me. Could she not have stopped this from happening? Doesn't she have a super senses? She can accurately estimate altitude from air pressure, yet she can't tell the temperature of hot metal across a room. Her book learning or at least common sense would suggest that picking up the metal would be extremely damaging to Howard. Did she not realise? Having put two and two together would her catlike reflexes not have allowed her to intervene? No, I'm not buying it any more. At some level, consciously or otherwise, she wants to rub Howard's nose in it, wants him to burn his hand.

She needs to own her actions and her words. Wringing her own hands and offering to sort everything out by recourse to the Boob don't cut it any more. She needs to admit there is a pattern to her behaviour and do the work to figure out what's causing this.

I was cheering Howard on as he "slunk out" making his parting shot. He's not emotionally intelligent, not great at explaining his feelings. But he was pretty on the money here: "the less time I’m around you, the better I feel about myself."
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23 Apr 2017 22:53 #53765 by Pepper
Replied by Pepper on topic LaPorte Caves

efelton wrote: I have not read a scene as romantically awkward as the one between Howard and Julia at the end of ch 22, since the dinner party in Lois Bujold's "A Civil Campaign" (recommended for those who read this website since the male lead is physically inferior to his romantic partners and for other reasons). For me, the story is going in Romantic comedy direction, in fact it's almost Screwball comedy. And I'm really enjoying it.

Julia goes in with the intention to check in with him, maybe romance him a bit, get him a cup of coffee and a back massage. Five minutes later, after staggering ineptitude she leaves him furious, humiliated and burned.

I don't think she has any excuse. Her apologies have worn thin for me. She's pulled the same move too many times for it to be accidental. Again and again she's rubbed Howard's face in the fact that he is strictly inferior to her. Now, I have no problem with her unapologetically showing him who she is. The situation between them has changed and he has to understand that. But even someone as inflexible and infuriating as Howard has pretty much got it by now. The underlying narrative to their every dialogue is an appraisal by her of his abilities and how much they now lack in comparison to her. She knows he's sensitive on this point. And yet on and on it goes. She can't help but draw attention to it. One brief conversation: he can never learn back massage as well as she can; he has only made meager progress on learning the Weald's written script; he can't distinguish the two coffees by sense of smell. (And countless, countless other examples since ch6.) I think most people would find being subjected to such treatment quite tedious. She's being a jerk!

Howard scalding his hand on the paperweight was a telling story beat for me. Could she not have stopped this from happening? Doesn't she have a super senses? She can accurately estimate altitude from air pressure, yet she can't tell the temperature of hot metal across a room. Her book learning or at least common sense would suggest that picking up the metal would be extremely damaging to Howard. Did she not realise? Having put two and two together would her catlike reflexes not have allowed her to intervene? No, I'm not buying it any more. At some level, consciously or otherwise, she wants to rub Howard's nose in it, wants him to burn his hand.

She needs to own her actions and her words. Wringing her own hands and offering to sort everything out by recourse to the Boob don't cut it any more. She needs to admit there is a pattern to her behaviour and do the work to figure out what's causing this.

I was cheering Howard on as he "slunk out" making his parting shot. He's not emotionally intelligent, not great at explaining his feelings. But he was pretty on the money here: "the less time I’m around you, the better I feel about myself."

I don't know if I'd have put it all quite that way, but I can see where you're coming from.

It's just really hard to figure Julia out. She apologizes for hurting Howard, but keeps finding new ways to do it. She shows contempt for men when they make mistakes, but shrugs off her own. She won't use her pheromones on Howard, and says she won't tie him up again, but then forces him to drink milk that controls his thoughts and actions in other ways. She seemed to have taken a step toward more understanding in chapter 21, but now she's back to being hurtful, whether she means to or not.

All of which is understandable, really. She's in a different world, a different culture, even a different body; of course she's going to take a while to find her new identity. She wants to have the best of her old life and the best of her new one. But yeah, if she wants to be seen as strong, capable, and in charge then she's got to own the consequences of her actions, even when things don't turn out perfectly.

So I'm curious to see how she responds to this last interaction with Howard. Will she be hurt, sympathetic, angry? Will she dose Howard with the milk again to try and "fix" things? Will she appreciate his courage and stubbornness, or will she continue to try and train those things out of him? This story could still go a lot of different ways.
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24 Apr 2017 04:15 #53771 by lowerbase
Replied by lowerbase on topic LaPorte Caves
The funny thing about Howard's stubbornness, denial and continuous self-defeat is that it helps Julia to be more understanding of how men feel in this place, more than any other indifferent woman that lives there.

In a world where 90% of the population are men, that empathy could translate in more power for Julia. What Howard wants the least, is more power for her. Part of his denial and judgmental behavior was to refrain her from being enchanted by her new powers, especially, over him.

And that defiance only made Julia to embrace harder her new being.

I don't think that his last phrase in ch.22 is actually about Julia, or the relationship, it is about Howard figuring out he can't win.
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24 Apr 2017 11:37 #53775 by Sam+Norton
Replied by Sam+Norton on topic LaPorte Caves
Just read the new chapter.
It's really good, and I agree with Lowerbase about that final phrase of Howard. Is he starting to accept his condition??
Let's hope that Julia and Howard can resolve their couple problems.

Great job :D

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25 Apr 2017 09:15 #53787 by circes_cup
Replied by circes_cup on topic LaPorte Caves
Thanks for the great debate and discussion, guys. I will be away from a computer on Friday, so I am posting Ch 23 a bit early. Hope you enjoy.
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25 Apr 2017 10:16 #53788 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic LaPorte Caves

circes_cup wrote: Thanks for the great debate and discussion, guys. I will be away from a computer on Friday, so I am posting Ch 23 a bit early. Hope you enjoy.


The chapter is on now.

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