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Thread: The House of Acanthus - (inspired by The Nowhere Legion by SBH.) Last Update: 8 June 2013

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    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default The House of Acanthus - (inspired by The Nowhere Legion by SBH.) Last Update: 8 June 2013


    EXIGUA PARS EST VITAE QUAM NOS VIVIMUS
    My translation would be something like this:
    "A SMALL PART OF THE LIFE IS THAT WE LIVE"

    THE HOUSE OF ACANTHUS



    "THE NOWHERE LEGION" AAR by SeniorBatavianHorse:


    'HERE' the link for 'The Nowhere Legion' on Amazon Kindle:




    This work is inspired by the best Historical Novel I've read in the last years! The story of The Nowhere Legion by SBH, is deeply fixed in my mind, I cannot leave Felix, Aemilianus, Octavius, The Acanthus' flower, I cannot free my mind from the images of the V Macedonica, they are too strong! So I decided to write a story about the Nowhere Legion, maybe in this way I will be able to separate myself from this Novel, its characters and its images.
    The work can be considered also my 'Confessio' written in the wrong thread, and quite mixed with fantasy elements, but in this text I'll put many of the motifs that bind me to the Late Antiquity, forever.

    All the images, the contents, the names and entire story are intellectual property of SBH, yes, I'm only a reader, a 'victim' of The Nowhere Legion, and this work is only a tribute to SBH and his wonderful story.

    A PREMISE

    This story is based on the Nowhere Legion
    so if there is someone who want to read it, he MUST read first
    The Nowhere Legion


    I'll tell you the story that I casually discovered about The Nowhere Legion, the Battle Cruiser Glasgow, the crews of a Savoia Marchetti SM 79 Torpedo Bomber, some Spitfires and......a forced landing in the Nefud Desert in 1941....the Lost city of Akkad....and much more......it is an incredible story.....strange....and terrible! A story that sows us that the Time and the Space are..... truly relative concepts.....





    THE MACHINES AND THEIR CREWS

    THE PREY

    This is the 'victim', the HMS Glasgow, a light Cruiser which served as escort for the convoys directed to Malta. The month was December of the year 1940, the last days of the first year of war for the Regia Areonautica:

    Here the Light Cruiser 'Glasgow'




    History of the Cruiser Glasgow (The name:....Pure coincidence? A strange twist of fate?), in the first half of December 1940:

    " 1st Arrived at Alexandria.

    2nd Passage to Suda Bay, Crete.


    3rd Under air attack at Suda Bay and damaged by two torpedoes.

    Extensive flooding and some fires aft. Two shafts were damaged.


    Returned to Alexandria at 17 knots.


    10th Under temporary repair at Alexandria.


    (Note: For further details see above references.)
    "


    Here starts the fantastic story of our SM 79 Torpedo Bomber, its crews and their escape, chased by two Spitfire toward.........Nowhere........
    This incredible story, was written on an old Personal Diary by the Officer Navigator of the SM 78, that took part in the attack against the cruiser Glasgow, which I found during the restructuring of an old little 'Villa' (cottage) near Ventimiglia, buried under a terracotta tile flooring.......

    THE HUNTERS

    '278a Squadriglia Aereosiluranti' (278th torpedo bomber squadron) composed by only four (the powerful army of Benito!) SM.79, but only one of them is important here, anyway they were called 'I quattro gatti' 'the four cats' because they were only four planes and they were really like only four cats lost in the immensity of the sea, between Sicilia, Lybia and Egypt:




    the squadron's emblem: The Four Cats.

    Their names were: Erasi, Buscaglia, Deodato, Mauri, Robone, Sabatini.




    Some data about the plane: Savoia Marchetti SM.79 I or II, called 'Gobbo Maledetto' or 'Damn Hunchback' for the characteristic ledge for the gunner above the fuselage.Only few data and only the most iportant to understand what happened in that December 3, 1940, and how was possible the incredible story that I found written in the pages of an Officer's Diary of seventy years ago, the story that lead these men from Libya to a red desert and to......Nowhere ........:


    Engines: three 582 kW (780 hp) Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34 radials, equipped with variable-pitch, all-metal three-bladed propellers.

    Speed:
    Speeds attained were around 430 km/h (270 mph) at 4,250 m (13,940 ft).

    Fuel:
    The bomber version had 10 fuel tanks (3,460 L/910 US gal). Endurance at full load averaging 360 km/h (220 mph) was 4 hours 30 minutes. The maximum ferry range, at best cruise speed, was unconfirmed; in order to reach Addis Ababa with non-stop flights from Libya, aircraft specially modified to carry more fuel were able to fly over 2,000 km (1,243 mi).


    Torpedo Bombing:
    Effective torpedo bombing range was between 500 and 1,000 m (1,640 and 3,280 ft)from the target. SM.79s often flew at low level above the ships before the aerial torpedo was launched, and so were targeted by every weapon available, from infantry small arms to heavy artillery.











    IMPORTANT FOR ANY READERS:

    A warning to the readers: I'm not an English speaker, and my English is poor, so plese when you find some word or expression not correct, use your imagination........apply your personal choice to the text, probably I'm demanding too much from my poor readers but take this like a kind of interactive roleplay, if you like the story it might be even a fun!

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    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    THE HOUSE OF ACANTHUS

    EXIGUA PARS EST VITAE QUAM NOS VIVIMUS
    "A SMALL PART OF THE LIFE IS THAT WE LIVE"




    CHAPTER I
    THE HOUSE OF ACANTHUS

    An hour! We've been waiting for an hour! On the square in front of the pinewood of Bordighera.
    My boss the architect Sergio M., the structural engineer of the architectural studio Aldo V., the two men were speaking of money o.c., a goblin (a recent graduate just hired, they last only a few months, we generally consider them like cannon food! Goblins!) who was messaging on his ipad, and me, Carlo C. (as to say Diocle, architect employee of the study for nearly 20 years now).
    The appointment with the clients had been set at the 11:00 AM, now it was noon and they weren't there yet ....I was bored, pissed off, with a light migraine, all things considered we might say that I was depressed, but the day was amazing, how just in that corner of the far western Liguria you can see one: Deep blue sky, dark blue sea, offshore wind, golden light that enveloped everything and a growing intimate deep depression : The announce of a stunning summer.....ruined!.



    Everything was started 20 days earlier, in Genoa: The end of the day, I'm about to exit the studio, I greet the boss in the other room: "Ciao Sergio, see you tomorrow!"....Fatal answer from the other room: "Wait Carlo, I come down too, I'll offer you a cup of coffee!".....Troubles! The typical phrase that heralded trubles!
    In the cafe, in fact the troubles punctually arrived!....."Carlo I have an exceptional work only for you, my dear!"....Those were not only trubles, they were big trubles!....."Carlo, you and Elisa, you have a house in Bordighera? Haven't you?"......Trubles! As always I was optimist!
    "Yes Sergio, as you well know, we have an house in Bordighera and we spent there our holidays, in fact the next week we will start our holidays in Bordighera, Sergio!"
    "Perfect! It is simply perfect! I have a couple of clients in Milan who have just inherited an Old House right near Bordighera"........Troubles? No, much more: a total disaster, ruined summer.....quarrels with Eli .....No! For the Ancient Gods nooo!
    The Boss continued "...I was telling you Carlo, that in reality the Villa belonged the the father of the wife, he was an Archeologist.....yes an Archeologist! But he was out of mind, an old man, who lived alone almost recluse in that ancient Villa, on the mountains behind Bordighera, his name was....wait....yes: Ottavio Costaguta! His family was very wealthy, they were pre-war industrials, shipbuilding do you know.... But he lost all, running around the world searching for only he knew what! Archeologist! Poor man!.....and the daughter is named Chiara*, beautiful name! Chiara Costaguta! Nice woman, and her husband has a lot of money!"
    Sergio was speaking and speaking and speaking....But I was almost annihilated by the perspective of the incoming summer of work, lost in the hills between Bordighera and Dolceacqua....
    "...The Villa is of the XVII century, three floors, and a small tower, but you already know the tipology, do you follow me Carlo? They want to restructure and to build five or six luxury apartments! For us, the glory of a good work that only you and me can do, the parcel and the 10% on the sale of each apartament! Milions of ! Imagine Carlo: Wonderful luxury apartaments, lovely sea view, parking space..."
    "Yes Sergio, wonderful business!"...another piece of ancient Liguria destroied, wonderful business!....and a lot of money for him!




    I found the goblin with the ipod annoying so I started to write a message for Eli "Do not wait for me , we are in late, I'll arrive very late this evening..." Time to send the message and......They arrived! Finally the clients have arrived, the Lancia Thema stops gently alongside us and the couple descends from the car, the husband is exactly the prototype of the serious Milanese banker, few words, very practical, cold but courteus, I hated him immediatly!
    The wife, Chiara, was a more interesting subject, tall, elegant yet simple, more or less of my age, brown hair, but her eyes were astonishing, a mix between grey and green with gold flakes all around, and the cut of the eyes of a cat, really enchanting! Sadly the eyes of Chiara were also distant and she was cold, a very cold person, almost unsympathetic! She just look at me, no words, only a glacial shaking hands. Promises to be a day of the worst!





    We arrive at the Villa of Chiara, something like at the 2 PM, a shaded path between stone walls of sandstone, deeply immersed in a sea of olive trees and palms, almost on the ridge to Dolceacqua, the distant sea that appears from time to time, blue behind the silver leaves of the black olives trees, fig scent intense and sweet, aromatic herbs, and the golden light that fills everywhere, even the shadows, with its reflexes, it might be an enchantment if it was not work, if I was not there to restructure or better to destroy a wonderful Villa and its garden.






    The gate was an old rusty iron gate, painted green, Chiara searches for the keys in the bag, but she doesn't find them, she is nervous, momentarily she loses its coolness, she is shaken, in front of the old rusted gate of the House of her father, the husband looks severe, we expect, I start to be affected by her, she is not a block of ice after all.....interesting woman, I like the contraddictions.
    Finally the keys appear, we enter, then we take the old River pebbles trail that climbs steep towards the House that we cannot still see well, three beautiful secular date palms announce us the final curve of the trail, all around fig and olive trees, and on the left, the ground, made of stone terraces, as everywhere in Liguria, falls at precipice into sea, on the right, the House.
    An ancient House of three floors, with an L-shaped planimetry and a small tower, it is a beautiful Villa, well proportioned, the old yellow plaster bleached by calcification, it is simple but beautiful.
    The group climbs the beautiful baroque staircase, towards the door....I remain back, my attention now is captured by the garden.....there is something strange, I never saw something similar before: Acanthus, Acanthus everywhere! Acanthus under the palm trees, Acanthus at the base of the House, Acanthus that covered all the terrain under the trees, and when I looked down towards the stone terraces overlooking the sea, Achantus that covered all, Acanthus growing from the old stones of the walls of the terraces, almost one single, incredible mass of Acanthus in bloom everywhere!
    It seemed almost alive, a single dark green body of jagged leaves large and curved, which had wrapped everything....

    "Carlo, what are you doing? We are entering...."











    .
    An Appendix:
    "THE NOWHERE LEGION" AAR by SeniorBatavianHorse:


    The Photos are like ghosts of a land that there is no more but in some way is still here, all the photos are wonderful works of Ezio Benigni (1890-1930):
    The first is the place where we were waiting for Chiara and husband.
    The last is the Queen Mother Margherita of Savoia, in her Villa in Bordighera.
    Other images depict the Date Palms that are the most northern cultivation of Date Palm in Europe, probably they were imported by the Saracens, that had a base in south France, in the IX century AD.
    The photos belong to the period in which Ottavio was a child and then a young man in Bordighera.

    * The Italian 'Chiara' must be pronounced like the English: 'Clear' without the 'l', and in reality the Italian word 'chiaro-a' and the English word 'clear' have the same meaning, so, yes the sound 'ch' corresponds to the sound of the English 'c' of the word 'clear', sorry for the note but she is an important pawn on the chessboard.


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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Ah, glad you have finally posted this up here, too! And to honour your arrival, I too have posted a story so that you will not feel alone! Looking forward to see how this develops, Diocle . . .

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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    It is in the right place!

    A solid start (as you well know) and I'll look forward to reading it, thanks for bringing your work to the CW section.
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    THE HOUSE OF ACANTHUS



    EXIGUA PARS EST VITAE QUAM NOS VIVIMUS
    "A SMALL PART OF THE LIFE IS THAT WE LIVE"








    INSIDE THE HOUSE







    When I entered the wooden spiked door light green-tinged, I was expecting to find an old house in bad coditions, a time perhaps the prestigious and beautiful residence of a wealthy family but now the last refuge of a poor old man almost crazy, I was expecting to find disorder, stink damp, sense of abandonment, I was expecting to find an ancient building in poor condition last refuge and Tomb of a poor fool.
    So, after that my eyes were accustomed to the dim light of the interior, my surprise was total: the house was perfect and faschinating! Elegant and very well furnished, noble materials for coatings: cherry wood and printed fabrics art neuveau, the floors were made in black slate and marble white, the decor was simple and prestigious at the same time, it remembered me the interiours of the Austrian Architect and Master Adolf Loos, in the age between the end of the XIX end 1930s, the so called 'Stile Novecento', as to say a rational and functional architecture, elegant and prestigious, which used more the quality of the materials than the decoration, to create prestigious quality spaces! Everywhere scent of old wood and wax, and the smell of the garden around the house that seemed part of it, no dust, beautiful elegant furniture and paintings of quality on the walls in the right spots. No that was not the house I had in mind, it was not the half abandoned burrow of an old demented ex professor!







    Chiara drove us in visit, she preceded us through the rooms, explaining briefly the spaces that we were crossing, she moved with the confidence of someone who grew up living in that space, and in fact her and the House had something in common, perhaps the elegance without excess, something like a natural form of beauty and elegance, a natural beauty not performed.
    Her husband, Sergio and the engeneer V., were chatting amiably, my boss seemed a mouse in cheese, he was entirely joking remarks, witty remarks, a raging river! I find him almost unbearable, because I knew well that, in the end, all the interest of the two men for that ancient space, was the pure volume of the space, the six luxurious apartments to sell at some German or Dutch, searching for his piece of Italy or Mediterranean dream, all the things I was watching had to die because, we should transform the ancient body of that House in something like a Cyborg, only the walls will survive, the inner space emptied, and filled with steel, plastic and reinforced concrete, plants, pipes, electrical networks! Today the Architect builds Machines for Living, not Houses, we are not builders, we are mechanics: Disgusting! The day was turning out to be worse than expected, probably because that place was much better than I expected!

    The visit continued on the main floor: lounge, sitting rooms and libraries in succession, and on the third floor: bedrooms, rooms for guests and studies, with terrace. On this floor, at the end of a beautiful corridor, we saw a column of black marble, and the start of a staircase to climb upstairs into in what probably was the Tower overlooking the building.
    The Group had stopped at the entrance of the corridor, I was exchanging few silly sentences of circumstance when questioned, and I caught the gaze of Sergio, he looked like a hungry wolf, behind the mask of the affable architect; the structural engeneer was explaining that yes, probably the floors could seem in good conditions but the costs to restoring a hardwood floor were prohibitive, and the performances of a modern steel and concrete slab were exceptional, the husband of Chiara was listening with interest, she did not speak, she was looking distant, toward the corridor, she seemed not listening at us, her eyes where lost in the enlonged space of old cherry wood, made dark red from the passage of time, with its doors and fitted wardrobes.











    At some point Sergio asked.with a tone of voice insinuating and honeyed: " Chiara, our tour is ending, really a wonderful house! We need only to visit the Tower, are those the stairs for getting there?"
    Bastard! Damn bastard! His mind was like an open book for me, too many years working with him!
    Dear reader, if you know an architect, don't trust him, expecially if he is a friend! Why did Sergio want to watch the Tower? It is simple: Money! Yes, because, from the Tower he could watch at the roof!
    To be clear: if the roof is old and not in good conditions or at least you, observing its shape, are able to understand if is possible to find a good justification to demolish it! When the roof is demolished, stealing a meter here and there, and slightly increasing the height of the House, but keeping the height of the top of the new roof intact, you can find the space to build the fourth floor, and the luxury apartements from six, become eight, as to say at least one milion more! Damn basatrad, him and me and all those like us!

    Chiara was like slightly uncertain and not perfectly at ease, when she answered: "...But...there is only the study of my father, it is small and not interesting for you,...I do not think that in the tower there is anything special......for the project, I mean...". Sergio with his cutthroats' smile answered amiably; "The study of the Great Archeologist? But this is fantastic, it would be a pleasure for us visit his workplace!".
    I was suffering for her! Her husband said, punctual like death: "Chiara please, guide us up in the tower, since I do not know the House like you, my dear! We'll follow you!", the cat's eyes of Chiara, now were deep green and full of pure and deep hate, but she turned and forwarded decided in the corridor, telling us "As you want! follow me please".









    The staircase was small but very nice, steep, totally covered with wood, walls and ceilings including, at the end, finally, the door of the study of professor Ottavio Costaguta appeared, Chiara opened the door and retired, saying with decision: "Excuse me, but this is the place in which my father has died, and I shall not enter in that room! Sorry!", than she stood aside, and they entered.
    I stood outside the door, enough is enough! Now I was tired, depressed and angry.

    "And you? Don't you enter?" Asked Chiara, from behind me, I answered: "No today not! I'm very tired, maybe another time......"





    "THE NOWHERE LEGION" AAR by SeniorBatavianHorse:







    Photos from the works of Adolf Loos (1870 - 1933), he has been the best of us all.


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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Great stuff - I am wondering where to post my comments though - here or back in the IB forum?

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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    thanks SBH, Clarissimus Praeclarusque atque Vir Eminentissimus!

    Yes sorry I'm a little splitted now (Is Schizophrenia encouraged by internet? ), but now I'll be only here, I'll charge here the two updates remaining, one for day, and from the last I'll continue here.

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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Great start! Liked how you had the acanthus flower blooming around the house. The legion yet lives!!! + rep
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Ah good - I will link to it from my old AAR as well just people can follow this new 'flowering', as it were!

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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Thanks Scottish King and SBH! Thanks for your encouraging words! I needed them!

    Now the third update: a British Cemetery lost in a remote angle of the far West Liguria near the French Border, the Library-Study of Professor Ottavio and.......

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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    THE HOUSE OF ACANTHUS

    EXIGUA PARS EST VITAE QUAM NOS VIVIMUS
    "A SMALL PART OF THE LIFE IS THAT WE LIVE"




    THE TOWER - PART ONE
    THE STUDY







    Clare Winter Berry 1865 - 1924 R.I.P., Reginald Berry Colonel of Bengala Lancers 1858 - 1936 R.I.P, and in the end, near his grandfather, finally the professor Ottavio Costaguta Winter Berry 1919 - 2010; under the name and the date of death, on the stone only two words engraved in Roman Lapidary:

    "NIHIL NUSQUAM"

    Something like "Nothing and Nowhere"! Unusual inscription for a gravestone, the Latin meaning of the words was simple, not so simple the meaning of their combination, the phrase was pretty obscure though much evocative and arcane; watching the three gravestones in the English Cemetery of Bordighera, I was thinking to the words of Chiara while we were waiting outside the Study of her father, now a month earlier: " He is still here!" I did not understand: "Sorry?", she continued "We've buried him in the British Cemetery of Bordighera, near my great grandparents, he loved his British Grandfather, in my opinion they even resembled a bit in character! He wanted to remain here near his tower and his world, hidden in that little slice of English soil."

    I already knew the British Cemetery, il 'Cimitero degli Inglesi', of Bordighera, it was really quite hidden: Small white gravestones in the grass, the ubiquitous sandstone walls, and the palms everywhere, a fascinating place and unknown to most people. Bordighera in the years between ' 800 and ' 900, had been a real but informal British Colony: More than 3000 affluent subjects of Her Majesty had bought homes and lands near Bordighera, they had built a veritable small England in that remote corner of Liguria, who knows, maybe just the desire to be different than the newborn French Riviera, or for the beautiful nature and landscape, the fact is that between Bordighera and Ventimiglia delightful Victorian villas were raised, alongside tennis courts, botanical gardens of great value (Villa Hambury near Ventimiglia is a wonderful surviving exemple!) and small Anglican Churches and cemeteries.





    The British Community survived until the WWII, then had diminished almost to disappear. Remained in Bordighera, houses, gardens, parks, the Cemetery and Church, the latter are still owned by the Church of England. To take care of the interests of the Anglican Church, was an Architect of the place, Ugo Bassano, a man of noble birth and totally bizarre! He was also our contact with local authorities, and he had told me the story of Colonel Berry:

    "Honorable service in the Bengal Lancers and then a nasty wound in India, during one of the many Indian uprisings, so instead of returning in Britain, the choice of Bordighera, better climate, warmer and those lovely Palm trees! Here he and his wife, Clare Winter, settled in a small but elegant cottage in the so-called 'Via degli Inglesi' or 'Way of the English'; in 1894 his daughter Anne was born, she then married the son of the industrialist Costaguta, (Naval constructions), Michele, a real love story; in ' 19 was born Ottavio.
    The decision to be buried in the British Cemetery had been a direct will of Octavio himself, we knew each other well, he had always supported with substantial donations the maintenance expenses of the legacy of the Anglican Church here in Bordighera, one day more than thirty years ago the Professor had come to me with an envelope, and he had entrusted me its provisions for his burial at the Cimitero degli Inglesi".
    When I asked Bassano if he could tell me something about Professor Ottavio, the answer had been clear and courteous, but someway elusive: "But of course, Ottavio was a friend of mine! a man of great value, two degrees: Naval Engineering and Archaeology. Professorship in Turin and Pisa, he was also a great cartographer, one of the most important experts in ancient cartography; publications, archaeological excavations throughout Europe and Middle East; a restless spirit, a great researcher, often traveling, but also a gentle and reserved man and eventually almost mysterious, like he was in the constant search for something that only he knew!" The architect Bassano did not know anything else, confidentiality was part of his job.

    It has passed more than a month since that first visit at the Villa, Sergio had returned to Genoa, and I was left there, with two graduate aids of the study, everything in my hands until the end of September, the date on which we would have started with the true architectural project; We had started measurements of the House, of the Garden and of the land around, the construction of the Historical Research about the manufact that had to be presented with the building's restoration project at the 'Superintendent of Fine Arts' of Ventimiglia for the necessary authorizations, and the analysis of the urban insertion of the site in the territorial comunal and regional planning.
    I had understood that the purpose of the study and of the property was the destruction of the House of Acanthus, as now I called Villa Costaguta, leaving only an outer casing. Well! I was trying to defend the House against my own study, and the will of the property of the House. A traitor in short! But for a noble purpose, that old House had caught me, there was something extremely charming and mysterious in there, like mysterious was the figure of professor Costaguta and his daughter.






    Half past eight in the morning! I had to go. I walked towards the exit of the small cemetery, that Saturday, as always in the weekend, sent my 2 aids/Goblins to Genoa, I moved into the villa, I liked to spend those days alone, exploring the House and its garden, I felt that much remained to be understood. Luigi the gardener of the Villa, who lived also at Birdighera, passed to take me in the car and we were going up at the villa, he was a man of few words, but if you asked him to speak about the garden or the Palms, he started to speak and he didn't stop anymore, in this way I learned the history of the territory and its natural qualities, he knew every tree, every bush, every trail in the surrounding area for miles, that man was the memory of the trees; He had inherited the work from his father, in practice he had spent the whole life, with the Costaguta family, he remembered Chiara when she was still a little girl, most probably he knew much about the family but he would not ever spoken with me about the family's secrets, he was a good and loyal old man.
    When we arrived at the Villa, Luigi got lost, as always, in the terraces of the park, and I walked in the House. Today my mission was simple, I had to finally explore the Tower!





    I'd avoided for almost a month that moment, the idea of facing the study of the Professor, where he had lived for years, self recluse was troubling me, but now, with the roof, it remained the last part of the House to be measured, and before starting the work, I had to understand.
    So climb the stairs and crossed the threshold of the study, I found myself in a square room, larger than one might suppose from outside, books! Every wall was equipped with wooden bookcase, thousands of volumes, up to the ceiling; on one side the desk of Ottavio, also containing books, then and a sofa, some chairs, a scale to reach the higher volumes.



    Following the perimeter, was next to the window, an opening, there a new small satircase, I climbed the stairs, and I was in the attic: beautiful wooden trusses and beams supporting the pyramidal roof, also there books anywhere on three walls! A large work desk, illuminated by four brass lamps attached to the beams of the ceiling. The remaining fourth wall consisted of a large chest of drawers, built as those that are used to store flat drawings and maps, and, in fact, opening the drawers passed under my eyes, perfectly ordered, thousands of maps, historical maps, geological maps, archaeological maps, some of outstanding value and quality, from what I could understand. Letters and numbers on the front of each drawer indicated to prof. the contents of each and its correspondence with an area of the library. It was simply incredible! An incredible space!
    Everything was very clean and tidy, the two floors of books and maps clearly were divided with a strict rational logic, that wasn't certainly the construction of a mind weak or sick, those were 60 years of archaeological research of top quality!
    There was one problem though, I wasn't able to connect the single areas of archaeological research in a hierarchy, and even strictly between them!
    Let me explain. The main thematic areas were more or less three: Middle East-Saudi Arabia-Mesopotamia, the Late Roman Antiquity, and the History of a Roman Legion, from its Birth until its end, the Legion V Macedonica!










    I'll try to be more clear: Why professor Ottavio, was interested in the geological condition of the Arab Peninsula in the Upper Neolithic , and in the same years he visited the location of Buridava where he explored the ruins of the Legionary Site of the Legio V Macedonica? Where was the link?

    I do not quote titles of books that I've seen, there was simply everything: Personal excavation reports, Dictionaries of Aramaic, Greek, Latin, old Persian, editions of absolute prestige, ancient and modern titles, nicely updated (his mind had remained clear until the end!), really an incredible amount of text, but I couldn't understand the connection between the detailed survey and excavation reports of Oescus, Varinia, Cebrus and Sucidava with the geological mapping of the Saudi desert! Or the treatises on Paleontology and Paleobotany of Arabian Peninsula with the detailed cataloguing of the legionary tombstones of quinta Macedonica! And then, why the V and not another legion?
    While some nexus was conceivable between the Legion and the late Roman Expedition of Imperator Iiulian in the fourth century AD, It was difficult to establish any link between Late Roman Empire and geographical treatises about the Nefud Desert. No, something eluded me for sure, because even if you were observing the years of the archaeological reports you could note that the three areas of research were conducted in an absolute synchronicity! As if the researches were consequent one from the other.
    One year in Egypt at Memphis to study a site linked to the damn Legion V Macedonica the following year the report of an exploration mission in the Nefud! Or, what was the link between the Saudi Desert, the treaties of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the pre-Islamic Arab peninsula, and the detailed excavations on the Danubian Limes, in the same years?
    I did not understand, I wandered into that ordered maze of cross-references, maps and books and I was more and more disoriented; the hours passed and the mental picture of Prof. Octavius walked away from my understanding, was he really crazy? Rational but in a state of mental illness? Diagnosis possible and actually fairly common, but...but there was too much good sense in the organization of that space for thinking about a form of madness.
    My sixth sense that had kept me away from that place until then was now confirmed: I was looking for the reasons that had transformed an educated man and intelligent in a maniac, and just in front of his obsession I wasn't able to understand its subject! What did you mean Ottavio? What was the object of your nightmares? I didn't see an answer between those books, indeed more scrolling titles and maps less I understood.
    I looked towards the window it was late afternoon, I had spent in the Tower almost 8 hours!...and I was further away than ever from the secret of the House. I watched helplessly at the library, and I noticed only then, two photos with silver frame, on a low shelf, I approached and i took them, in one you could see the crew of a SM 79, 'the damn hunchback', Bomber of the Italian Aviation during WWII, and there he was! Ottavio was with them, I knew his face from other photos I had seen in the House, of course he was very young, but it was him! So our prof had been a pilot!
    The other photo portrayed him with the uniform of a Lieutenant of Vessel of the 'Regia Marina', the Italian Royal Navy, I knew because I had a similar photo of my father, during WWII, who was also in the Navy and he also Lt., so Ottavio was an Officer of the Navy serving on the bombers, this man certainly had nothing for granted!












    "Poor Dad! He has never figured out what was his place in life!" Almost the photos jump away from my hands, pretty much a heart attack! Chiara!
    I had not heard her enter, she was really a cat. I turn and see her on the doorstep, smiling without joy, she heads toward me and asks me: "Interested in old photos of war?", I can barely stammer: ""No, that is yes......but in this case, I was thinking to my father, also he was Lt. in the Navy, but he never flew on the SIAI Marchetti!".
    Chiara smiling sweetly said: "Observe the details architect! Don't you see the Golden Eagle of the Italian Royal Air Force on its uniform of Navy? My dad was an Aviation Observer of the Navy. He finished on SM 79 Torpedo Bombers, to replace a dead Navigator, the navigators were dying like flies, flying on those damn machines, they were lying in a coffin jutting out under the belly of the plane, to control the alignment and the altitude on the sea, and to tell the pilot when it was the moment to unhook the torpedo, all this flying at 350 Km/h low over the surface of the water, then after the launch the plane flight over the ship and the enemy's fire struck exactly under the belly of the plane!
    And if you had looked better dear architect Carlo C., you could clearly see the emblem of the torpedo bombers on the Navy uniform: A golden Torpedo in a Laurel circle!
    My husband told me: But Chiara, excuse me, why do we need architects? and think I had answered: Giorgio when do you learn to have a little class with all your money? The architects are useless and this is the reason why they are indispensable! ".
    I tried to laugh the joke about the architects was good! Chiara had thrown the bag on the couch, she had a nice white dress that drew her figure, very simple and elegant, just above the knee, moving like a person accustomed to that space. She gazing at me, said:

    "My father left me this House, a mountain of paper and a key! A key that I do not know even what to open, because he did not think useful to write me even two lines to explain it! What do you think about this, Architect?"





    *****



    "THE NOWHERE LEGION" AAR by SeniorBatavianHorse:


    Notes:

    - All the names are pure inventions, but the names Berry and Winter are real, they belong to important families who really lived in Bordighera and conributed to its wonderful landscape and history.

    - The British Cemetery of Bordighera really exists, and it is owned by Anglican Church, and really exists an Italian architect who represents the interests of the Anglican Church in Bordighera.

    - The gravestone of a Colonel of the
    Bengal Lancers really exists and can be seen in the British Cemetery of Bordighera.
    - The firsts images are taken from books about Bordighera, The interiors are again from the works of Adolf Loos, and the photo of the crews is from a Military Publication about the 'Gobbi'.

    But please note my choice: the man on the right, wears dark blue pants like those of the Italian Navy.......


  12. #12
    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    An interesting angle to come from, I think I may follow this

    Have some rep sir +

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  13. #13
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    I love the way this put together with photos and text. In most cases I think spoilers help with images but in this I think they would detract. You may want to put each chapter in a spoiler, not sure what anyone else thinks?

    I think you also do yourself a disservice in that this really reads very well with/without the Nowhere Legion. I'm certainly looking forward to how this progresses.

  14. #14
    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    I think not having the spoilers is a good thing.

    The guys have said the rest.
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  15. #15
    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Thanks to all you dear friends!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Anglorum
    An interesting angle to come from, I think I may follow this
    Yes the angle of this story is quite strange, also I find some difficulty to understand how this story was born! The starting point had been the Nowhere Legion, but then I added some memories of my life, some thoughts about the meaning, for us today, of the Fall of the West, and my love for the works of Philip Dick ('The man in the High castle' one for all!), Fantasy? Science Fiction? or simply my love for the best Historical Novel I read in the last years? I don't know!


    Quote Originally Posted by ybbon66
    I love the way this put together with photos and text. In most cases I think spoilers help with images but in this I think they would detract.
    ybbon, but also Shankbot, you, as always, hit the target! The images are part of the narration, look at them while you are reading the text, they are images insights and contextual.

    - I work with the images in RL (I'm Carlo the architect in the novel) so I build my thoughts more using images than abstract concepts.

    - My English is not good, so I thought that the images might help, adding the colour that my poor English cannot give to the story.

    So: No spoilers! I need text and images working togheter.
    I tray to maintain text and images absolutely related, the images add the flavour that the language cannot express, or at least this is my objective. This work want to be also a visual narration.
    I'll tray to maintain the single updates easy to charge, using only five or six images.


    Now, the last update dear readers: you'll discover the true meaning of the Acanthus leaves looking from a window of a tower of an ancient House lost in the hills between Italy and France, and you'll see the mysterious city of Akkad, lost in a red Desert through the melancholic but charming eyes of a little girl, sitting by the sea close to her dad, and........

  16. #16
    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    THE HOUSE OF ACANTHUS



    EXIGUA PARS EST VITAE QUAM NOS VIVIMUS
    "A SMALL PART OF THE LIFE IS THAT WE LIVE"





    THE TOWER - PART TWO:

    CHIARA

    Chiara asked me, gazing into my eyes: " Did you love your father, Carlo?" The question left me baffled, but I was thinking just of him when she had entered, so I answered: "Yes, of course. But I realized how important he was for me just when I lost him. ", she turned to look at the books and she said: "I hate my father! So as I hate this House and these books! "

    Fell a heavy silence she walked slowly looking at the books of Prof. Ottavio sliding along walls, suddenly she said, "do you understand? I hated Ottavio! For all the evil that he had done to us, to me and my mother. He has left me alone, he wasn't dead he was alive when he left us, he was alive but infinitely distant, worse than dead. I saw my mother slowly dying out, consumed by grief, as long as her heart has stopped. She loved him, she believed in him, she knew he was an exceptional person! But he gradually went away, lost in his dreams looking for......I do not know what!......Nothing maybe!"

    While she was speaking, I watched her, I was fascinated by her body, her voice, by the way in which she was moving around, lithe but full of energy, Chiara had captured me completely, her words echoed in my mind, I could almost feel the excruciating pain of that slow separation from her father, seeing a person you love, get away without being able to hold on him, trying to pull him out of that world that was swallowing him, it would have been a really terrible experience. A man lost in a world of mystery and inexplicable; at that point, trying to stop the thread of the emotions that were assailing me, I asked her: "But excuse me, what is the meaning of all these books? What was the object of his obsession? I have watched hundreds of volumes, of researches, of maps...but I still can't understand ... ".



    She didn't answer right away, she continued to walk up to the window, reached and leaned to it, looking out towards the garden covered with Acanthus and at some point asked me:
    " Do you know the meaning of Acanthus for Roman culture?"
    "Yes, I think, the Acanthus for them was the very symbol of Roman civilization that conquers all over the known world, the roots of the Acanthus, run deep into the ground, and slowly envelop the entire space which they can reach, in the same way the legions of Rome, conquered all the lands they manage to catch up with their studded sandals, one could say that the Acanthus is Rome. From the top of the Corinthian capitals the leaves and flowers of Acanthus dominated the known world. "




    Chiara, turned towards the sea of Acanthus of the Garden, replied:
    "Oh yes, of course! But do you know that The Acanthus Flower is also the symbol of Legio V Macedonica? Did you know that the flower painted on the shield of V Macedonica, in the Notitia Dignitatum, is a 'Caulicolo', the Acanthus' Flower? "
    No I did not know, I was speechless ....
    Chiara continued: "I don't know exactly what Ottavio was seeking, that is what exactly has destroyed his and our existences, but one thing for sure: The Legio V Macedonica was the center of everything! The whole system of meanings and cross-references revolved around the V Macedonica, the Legion was a sort of unmoved mover of this whole universe! "
    Fell silent again, then I heard her voice saying coldly these words: "Carlo, my father was crazy! A dangerous madman, Ottavio sacrificed to a personal dream, three lives and an entire heritage!"





    Now Chiara was prey of her own memories: "But it has not always been in this way! When I was a child I loved him, Ottavio for a few years was the best of fathers for me. I still remember when he brought me down to Bordighera and hand in hand we walked to the beach. I was happy, I was with my dad, and I liked looking at the sea, then we would sit close together on the beach, it was late afternoon, and looking at the sea, he began telling me about some of his stories, ...The Tale I preferred was that of the Lost City of Akkad!
    The city was founded before all the others, before Rome and Athens, before Jerusalem and Alessamdria, was now lost in a great red desert, which previously had been a rich and fertile land; Akkad was a wonderful city with magnificent temples, cobbled streets, large buildings, the city was so beautiful that its inhabitants became cocky defying the gods themselves,....I was listening and I was dreaming, his warm voice carried me far away, in that Red Desert, I was able to see the great buildings, the Agora, the temples,......and the sound of the sea completed the enchantment, he continued his story explaining me how the gods have punished the inhabitants of that noble city, how the Earth had swallowed the town. But today, he continued, the city is still there in the Red Desert, waiting to be discovered, by now he was not longer talking to me, he spoke to himself, he was there, far into the Nefud, because this is its name! I knew that he was far away now, but I didn't care, it was enough for me, to hear his voice and dream, feeling the sea breeze on my face and the smell of water, watching the sunset ..... maybe I perceived that his soul was far, but It wasn't important for me, I was happy he was near me!"




    What is the attraction between two persons? How does it work? In those moments I not only listened Chiara, I was inside her soul, her words were inside my mind, it is something more than just understanding, it is the the 'sun pathos' of the Greeks, ' suffering together ', the attraction that I was feeling for her, being captured by its incredibly beautiful eyes, did not distract me but I joined even closer to her, the body is not the container of the soul but it is part of it. I was attracted by Chiara, I wanted to touch her skin, I wanted to follow the line of her hips with my hands, the scent of her skin filled my mind, but this did not contradict the understanding of her pain, instead, it amplified the condivision, I was lost in that sad enchantment.

    Chiara continued her tale, the sunlight stroking her figure in window clipping: "But growing, everything became complicated, do you understand? He was always away and when he was present, it was like if he was not! I have tried to follow him, I also graduated in Archeology! Nothing to do! He was lost in his researches, he had to find Akkad!
    He was supposed to be financed by the Ministry of an excavation in the Nefud! In Saudi Arabia, of course! Do you know what they responded: "But dear Professor, why don't you deal with Libya, there you might get the financing even by E.N.I.! But s. Arabia! Com'on professor! What do you want to find there? Not even the British make archaeological excavations there! And then on what basis? Do you have any proof, aerial photo, source of some kind, so, have you at least something?
    Priority of this Ministry are the Greek and Roman Civilizations, the Punic and Phoenician, Etruscan Cultures, as to say the Mediterranean! We cannot lose our few money to run behind this alleged lost city! Professor! Please return among us!"
    Nothing to do! Ottavio, for some reason, couldn't stop! Dozens of trips to Rome, detailed expedition projects..... it was as if his mind failed to think about something else! And us? What about us in his mind? Nothing! When he was not traveling, he shut himself up here, in the Tower, and disappeared from our lives.
    I said: "But I've also seen reports of excavations from Oescus in Bulgaria, excavations in Roman forts on Danube and in Syria!" She laughed! "But my father traveled throughout all Europe and the Mediterranean! But everything was tied to that desert and to the Legion! Everything! Each expedition, every research, each book were only tools to bring him closer to Akkad! Do you know where he was when I graduated? In Egypt! to seek the latest bases of the Legion V Macedonica! If you asked him why, what links a Roman Legion with Akkad, his answers became unclear, so you would understand that he knew what he was doing, but you wasn't up to figure it out!
    Do you know when I got married where was my father? In Syria, to seek a damn Roman Fort of the V Macedonica! And do you know where was my father when I was divorced from my first husband? To make antechamber in Rome, to speak for the tenth time, with Minister, about his expedition! I tried to reach him, but he was already allocated to Saudi Arabia! I needed him! Can you understand me? My mom needed him, but he needed to complete his puzzle, his daydream! Or rather this damned nightmare that he wouldn't stop shaping.
    During all those years, do you think I haven't noticed that people, our friends, were teasing him or they pitied him? Can you imagine how much I have suffered? He was a man of great value! Why it was ridiculous with the world? Why?
    Then neither the death of my mother has managed to bring him back in the real world! Then I remarried with Giorgio, and then I closed with him! I have not more searched him, I've escaped the madness of Ottavio! I had to save myself, do you understand? He had spent much money from the sale of his father's shipyards, to finance private archaeological campaigns, so he travelled little in recent years, he remained imprisoned here, in this tower, where Luigi the gardener, found him dead, near the desk."
    Yet quietly, almost without realizing it, I approached her, I noticed that she was crying, her breathing was labored, I was next to her but I didn't dare touching her and I couldn't talk, there was nothing sensible in the world that I could have said!
    "....I loved him, I needed him, but he had to find them...."
    Her voice broke, I wanted to ask: To find who?....But it was not the right moment....
    "...Now he is gone, maybe he found what he was looking for.....While I've lost him...forever!"
    She could not continue longer, the tears prevented her, I embraced her, lifted her head and kissed her, it was the most natural thing I'd ever done. I seemed to have always known her.
    We remained so, while her breathing slowly returning to adjust, I caressed her hair, and breathed in their scent, I wished that time had stopped. But this did not happen, of course, and Chiara broke gently from the embrace, looked at me again, gently placed her lips on mine, and then walked away. I couldn't speak, I did not know absolutely what to say; she, meanwhile, had reached the couch and was taking the bag, I realized that she was leaving, and she had already achieved by the door, I tried to reach her, I needed to stop her now, I needed her, but she was already on the stairs, "Chiara!" She had already turned the corner before the ramp, I told her, I don't know why: "Chiara, do not destroy this House, you would lose a part of yourself, forever!".... I don't know, maybe it was an illusion, but it seemed to me that, only for a moment, her paces had stopped, but then suddenly, I could hear her down the last steps and walk away.
    That has been the last time I saw her.

    I was stunned, and an impotent anger was taking me, but what did they want from me? What did I enter myself with this House? Why me? I wanted to take all those books and throw them down from the window! But then I felt the scent of Chiara into the room, and all the rage turned into empty, an empty as heavy as lead. Now I was tired, never been so tired,I tried the couch, and I got dropped on it.
    Under the hand, I felt an envelope, inside there was supposed to be an object, I emptied the envelope in the hand: The key! The key that Ottavio had left her! it was small, cylindrical with small teeth all around!
    I stayed there, staring at the key, an immense burden on the heart, the mind blank, and those two words I had read on the tombstone of Ottavio, of which only now I sensed the significance:

    NIHIL NUSQUAM


    .

    "THE NOWHERE LEGION" AAR by SeniorBatavianHorse:







  17. #17
    Scottish King's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Absolutely amazing update! Very well written and the best so far you've written. Interesting how one mans obsession can touch so many lives. I wonder what the key opens though?
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  18. #18
    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Mate, your English is far superior to my Italian! Don't ever be concerned about the odd syntax or grammatical error, your work is fine, and very easy to follow.

    I'm certainly enjoying it

    Chiara sounds like she may develop into an interesting character
    Rex Anglorvm's Pile of dusty books - A collection of my writing.






  19. #19
    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: "The House of Acanthus" - short fantasy novel inspired by the Novel "The Nowhere Legion" by SBH.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish King
    how one mans obsession can touch so many lives.
    Thank you for your kind words and encouragements Scott! Yes, you hit the target! It was exactly this one of the objectives I wanted to accomplish writing this story, I wanted to analize the effects on the human life if a man meets something greater than anything he can even imagine! What happen? What can you do if you meet the impossible? What can you do if you cannot even try to explain what you met? The effects could be so great that you may think yourself to be mad! Or that the facts are fruits of your imagination, and not real! But if you cannot even try to find an easy refuge in the madness or in a dream, what does remain? What can you do, if you have the certainty that what you met was real and true, and you well know that nobody might ever believe you? This remain: Pain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Anglorum
    Chiara sounds like she may develop into an interesting character
    Thanks to find the strengh to endure my English Rex! And thanks for your post, I like it!
    About Chiara, I repeat: I never saw her agin!
    But this does not exclude that we will recive her news from time to time, indeed, Chiara will close to door of this story.....But sadly this Novel is not about love, it is about space and time, their mutual relations and their effects on our life and sentiments.
    Maybe I'll start a new story about Chiara one day, nothing can be excluded in life.........




    Sunday I'll try to upload the new update. Probably it will be the last before changing the scene.....

  20. #20
    SeniorBatavianHorse's Avatar Tribunus Vacans
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    Default Re: The House of Acanthus - inspired by The Nowhere Legion by SBH.

    Looking forward to it, Diocle! (p.s. might be going to a villa in Barga for a 10 day holiday in November with my wonderful partner for hill walking and wine. I know the season is late but her work commitments mean we cannot leave any earlier).

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