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Seas Of Erin > Tir-Nan-Og > Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 10:01 PM
It wasn't long after Niabheara fell asleep that Marcello, afraid to leave the girl alone or even disentangle himself from her for long, fell asleep, too, and when he did, it was into a deep, stony slumber, the kind that falls fast and hard.
When his eyes flicked open, he was bloody again, sitting upright in a wadded pile of blankets also streaked with blood, and the girl was nowhere to be seen. He ran hot and cold, frantic, as he got to his feet, and when he did he tumbled, tripping down the hill where his blankets were piled. The small, leathery objects that made up the hill shifted and tumbled beneath him and he fell face-first, tobogganing down a steep hill of...
Ears. Bloodied, dried-out husks of ears.
He went cold, shutting his eyes as he sped toward the bottom, but when he opened them again, he was free-falling out of the window of a burning building.
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 10:07 PM
"The trick is to never hit the ground silly." The ground had plummeted away to frightening depths, and the fall felt like it would go on forever. The building was a towering inferno, the sparks and heat almost making hair and clothes smolder. Were there screams?
Yes there were screams.
And the girl was sitting on a crossbeam jutting out from the burning building, the wood blackened and smoldering at the base. It would snap soon, but for now she sat secure.
And he kept falling, and still they remained at level.
The flakes of ash around them turned to cards, turned to swords, turned to ace of swords that greyed and burnt and turned to nothing.
The swords were burning.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 10:09 PM
Marcello gave the girl a tired look. "That's not a trick at all," he answered. "I hit the ground all the time and I don't ever die and I don't always wake up. Not in dreams. That's a myth. I've been shot in my dreams, t--"
With that, he hit the ground, head first, only the ground was a great upholstered chaise lounge and he bounced on the soft seat until he was righted, rubbing at his head. "They also say you can't smell or taste in dreams. Or dream in color."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 10:14 PM
"They say so many silly things. Why shouldn't you dream in colour? Everything you see is colour, you're not a dog. Why would your dreams be dogs' dreams?" She bounced down on the couch next to him, licking her lips.
"I think there was cake in your dreams once, i think I liked that taste. And I smelled the smoke." She leaned closer, suddenly grabbing the front of his shirt, yanking hims so close they were nose to nose.
"They say that because they want us to think that dreams are imagination. That they are small and trite and unimportant. They want them to be fake and flawed and futile. They HATE them." She hissed the words, then let go and slid back to her corner of the couch.
"You burnt all the swords... you're not a sword anymore, but that means you also burnt the ace of swords. There's lesser chance of winning now."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 10:20 PM
Marcello shook his head. "You never understood me," he answered, rubbing at his scalp. "I never wanted to win. I want to not be fighting at all."
He yawned, sleepy, an odd feeling to know that he was sleepy in a dream. "I have your blanket," he told her. "But it's up the hill again." He tilted his head up, trying to see the top of the spiral staircase that had replaced the hill and the burning building. "I'm not supposed to leave her. She'll be missing me."
He got to his feet, reached for the banister, to start up.
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 10:25 PM
"It's not about understanding." She pouted, looking mortally insulted as she watched him. "It's about making. I thought I was making a sword but I was wrong. I think it might be because I already have one. Who needs two swords? Only silly people do. And you might be wasted as a sword..."
She closed her eyes, hands covering them.
"Three blind mice on a hill of ears. Who do you fear listening? I told you about your reversed magus but you didn't listen, won't you listen to your dreams?"
She was still blinding herself.
"Who is listening in little... I don't have anything to call you?"
She seemed sat at that, removing her hands.
"Sometimes the obvious is not what it seems. You have my blanket and it is a blanket. The hill is made of ears because you cut one off. The house is on fire because you rear loss once more. All obvious. But when you just see the obvious you drink things and kiss things and blood flows."
She covered her eyes again.
"Will you remain blind this time?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 10:36 PM
"Why do you get to choose what I become?" Marcello asked the girl, whirling back around where he stood on the staircase. The stairs began to float in midair. "If you're making me into something useful to you, I don't want it. I want to be useful to myself, not to some strange girl who thinks she can turn people into swords on a whim."
They were floating, now. On the sea. The pillar of stairs reaching into the sky. "I listened to you. Listening and not knowing what the reversed magus was meant to be aren't the same things. I still don't know what you think the reversed magus was, if you want to elucidate me?" he asked her. "And you can call me by my name."
He opened his mouth to give his name, but nothing came out.
He tried again, then, looking flustered, continued, his teeth grinding. "I don't just see the obvious. I'd like to think I see a lot more than most people see. That doesn't mean I never miss anything. Everyone misses some things," he said guiltily. "I didn't even miss it. I just saw it too late. Can you honestly say there's never been a thing that you mistook for what it looked like in your life? Never?"
He looked around. There was nothing but emptiness. "Who's listening in?" he asked. "I don't know. Most likely your black-haired friend."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 10:42 PM
"I'm just dancing." She made a pirouette in the sky, bare feet tracing the stars. "Don't ask me why, I don't know until I've taken the step. The cards might tell me but they think you don't like them, which is a silly thing. They are just paper, your head is what gives them power." As if to prove a point she reached into Marcello's head with a soft mushy sound, pulling out the deck.
She cautiously sniffed her hand. "Your head smells like cake, that can't be good."
But the frown faded and was inverted into another smile. "Silly, your tattooed magus that wasn't your magus at all and the reason why you are haunted by the bad parade of ears. There -is- no Bard in the deck, cards can't sing."
She licked her lips, tilting her head as she watched him, taking a few dance steps around his path. "You have too many names already, none of them no longer your own. That's why I try to find out what you are. The more you are the more you loose and eventually you'll be so much that you're nothing. Just mud on the field."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 10:52 PM
"Yes, but mud on the field is also part of the World," Marcello answered, looking wearily at her. He dropped down to sit on his stair. "I have no feeling one way or another about the cards. They're just cards. What I don't like is the insistence that the cards are right, or that the way you read them is right. The only reason the cards are always right is because it's easy to find a connection in hindsight, no matter what the outcome. I'm not giving them power. You are."
He rubbed at his head. "Those cards," he said. "If you're taking them out of my head, they're not going to look like your usual cards. There's going to be a card for me and a card for Niabheara and a card for Morgana and one for Jamilah and one for Mortoch. There's probably still a card for Tristan. There's one for each of my sisters, my parents, my lovers, people I wished were my lovers. There might even be one for each of my names. But I--"
He eyed her deck. "Can't you ever just talk? Without the cards?"
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 10:59 PM
"What make you so sure you're right?" She curtsied to the stars, giggling as they made a little twist and turn around her, ending up decorating the hem of her white shift.
"Maybe just because you can find a connection they are right... and maybe it doesn't matter. They are words tongue and teeth, they give me structures and boundaries and words! How else am I suppose to find words? They are all butterflies and glue, the little flakes sticking to your fingers forever."
She have him a stern look.
"I don't want to finger my destiny with sticky hands, theres enough teethmarks over it already. And maybe the cards came from your head, but this is my dream, and..."
She sighed suddenly, flopping down on the steps next to him.
"No pattern. Chaos. There is no just with me, no justice, no just no just talking... the simples things are hard and impossible things are easy."
She shivered, looking so cold in her thin shift, the stars hardly warming her at all.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:03 PM
"Cards are a pattern unto themselves," Marcello pointed out. "There's always a pattern, a relation between the suits and the numbers. That's the farthest thing from chaos. You try to maintain order where there is none."
He watched her for a moment, then reached into his back pocket and pulled out her blanket. "And this is my dream, too," he said, offering it to her.
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:07 PM
"You see! You see why I need the cards. Random pattern, cheat the chaos, order unto itself... They give me words." She looked so eager there, as if he had finally understood some grand important truth about life.
And then came the blanket.
With a soft smile she wrapped it around her shoulders, the subtle red, orange and green patterns bringing out the hightlights in her hair.
"Thank you." She seemed to have lost some of that frantic urge she had before, closing her eyes in a happy smile as she let out a long breath.
"I know why you don't like the cards."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:11 PM
"It's not the cards," Marcello said, smiling at the girl. "Like I told you, they're just cards. There's a g-me we play with them back in Italy, it's all about lying and pretending you have cards you don't. Don't you ever...want to talk about anything that doesn't involve someone being on a path to somewhere? Someone having a goal? Someone being influenced? Someone having an outcome to a series of events? There's more to life than that; there's ideas and philosophies and fantasies."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:15 PM
She gave him a clever look, her lips curling in the slightest of smiles. "If you admitted the cards had a point, then you would have to admit that maybe you weren't in complete control of your own destiny, and that would mean that maybe you weren't responsible for things."
Nodding, she pulled the blanket tighter around herself, the stars falling off the hem of her shift, leaving her just another young woman.
"You need to be responsible. So many horrible things have happened that you need to be responsible for something. Otherwise it would feel like running away."
She patted his knee gently, her voice having grown softer and more hesitant.
"I don't know if I can... I don't know if those things are for me, it's been so long. I don't even know what's me anymore."
That seemed to make her sad.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:23 PM
"You and me, both," Marcello answered wistfully. "They make it sound like when you get older, you're supposed to be something and know what it is. That you become synonymous with a role. Like a sword. Or a cup. Or a knight. But it's not that easy," he said. "No one can be just a sword all the time, and no one can be just a cup. I was a sword, if it makes you feel any better," he asked, nudging the girl's arm. "For all of three minutes. I cut off the Queen's ear, and then I went back to being a cup, only I sort of spilled everything I was holding."
He gave her a sidelong look. "I do need to be responsible. Whether it's right or wrong, whether I succeed or fail. There isn't a point in living if it would all happen without you."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:29 PM
She did smile as he nudged her and told about the queen. "No, I was wrong. I wanted you to be one and I thought I could make it happen. It's worked before. But I didn't get the right steps for the dance." She laughed softly, watching her feet.
"It's hard at times... not knowing, just being. I'm a leaf that's been flying for so long I'm not even sure what tree I came from." She tossed back her hair, the red rippled over the blanket, mixing with the patterns.
"I think I was in love. I think I lost everything. I think I seek something. Maybe revenge. But all I see when i close my eyes is fire... and all I hear when I open my ears is words that are not for me. I am watched."
She bit down on her lip, looking sideways at the man next to her. "Do you walk a lot? In the wilderness?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:31 PM
Marcello watched the girl for a long moment, then shrugged. "I used to," he answered. "Sometimes I still do. Not here, though. Why, do you?"
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:35 PM
"When you walk there are many roads. Some are easy, some are hard. You can go right through the wilderness, or you can not walk at all. There are huge mountains that you might walk around but could possibly climb, and hills and ravines and bridges." Far below them the landscape had formed, a beautiful but arid plain with red mountains and golden plains, and bluegreen splotches of trees and farmland.
"Would you say that you are responsible for what path you take?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:40 PM
Marcello nodded, looping his knees up in front of him. "Of course I am, as much as I choose them. For example, if I see that there is poison ivy that way, and I walk that way anyhow, it's my own fault if I get a rash. If I don't see the poison ivy, or don't recognize it, then it's still my fault. If someone plants berries among the ivy to disguise it, so I don't realize that I'm up to my knees in it until I've walked a half-hour, then maybe that's a little different."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:41 PM
"See... and if you had a map, or a lookout point or something to help point out where there might be mountains or poison ivy that might help too, right?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:43 PM
Marcello nodded. "It might, but you can't expect a map to give you everything. The map might say there's a tree that got hit by lightning or a bridge that's since been flooded out." He raised an eyebrow at her. "You're not going to try to convince me that the cards are a map, are you?"
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:49 PM
She stuck out her tongue at him. "You might be silly but not stupid. They are. And just like with a map you can point at it afterwards and say 'look, that's where I walked'. But you can also point at it from another angle and say 'look, that's obviously where I walked.' No matter what angle you hold the map, it's still the same landscape. Just different paths. And if you can't read a map, then you don't know if the line is a river, or a ravine or a road..."
She looked down at the landscape below them, turning flat and beautifully illustrated now, with doplhined seas and lush coastlines. "Most people don't even know which direction to hold the map in, and then it is useless. And then comes the distance and the symbols... and you need to know a bit about the landscape to understand it better. A river on the plains is not the same as a river in the mountain. You need to know."
A serious look had got stuck to her face, as if right now the words did not flee her. "There is more to life than the physical. You should know that."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 5 2007, 11:55 PM
"That's all very pretty," Marcello said, giving the girl a pained look. "But there's a man in Venice who sells maps. He sells maps of places that don't exist, that he makes himself. And travellers from around the world come to his shop and buy his maps to imaginary places. And some of them, they know what they're buying, they know it's a map of a place that isn't real but that it's nice to ponder sometimes, but others don't know. They go in intending to get a real map, and it's not a real map at all. It's a pretty picture and it isn't any good to them if they're using it to try to tell them where to go. You're talking to me like I can't read the cards. I can. You know I can. What I'm telling you is that they're like the map of the imaginary place. They can be pretty and even make you think. They don't say anything real. True, maybe, but not real in the sense that it's the future."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 5 2007, 11:58 PM
"That's because you are the mapmaker in Venice and I am the one who has scribed down all the journeys I made. You assume that what is true for you, is the same for me... which is rather silly." She gave him a fond smile, watching the pretty map move below them.
"But it's alright. You won't change. He didn't."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:04 AM
"If that's so, then why only lay out ten cards at a time?" Marcello asked. "Why not the whole deck? You just want to sit her and argue about why you're right and I'm wrong all day long. Why?" he asked. "What does that accomplish? What's the matter with you, are you jealous that all you can do is read other people's destinies and not make your own?"
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 12:06 AM
"Sometimes I lay ten. Sometimes I lay four. Sometimes I lay one or nine or I could lay the whole deck. But most people won't listen that long... besides, ten is the pattern number, it helps keep me grounded."
But at the last comment she actually flinched, looking away.
For a moment she was silent, then she spoke on a tight, controlled voice. "Yes. Desperately so."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:09 AM
Marcello shrugged, giving her a rather pitying look. "So do something," he said. "It's like you said, you have a map, you can choose to go one way or another or just sit where you are. Stop sitting where you are."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 12:15 AM
"The cards are all blank when I pull them for me." She gave him a look that was filled with real despair. "My past is mist and blankness, I know nothing of my future save that I think it will be like my past. I can't look myself in the mirror because nobody looks back."
She hugged the blanket tighter around her. "I can't even find words unless provoked just right. Unless I am tied down by something. By some pattern." She bared her teeth in a silent snarl.
"I can just dance and read and hope that somehow I find the way out. That somehow this house of cards will tumble down and time will start for me." She closed her eyes, willing the tears to stop. "I know I have loved, but not who. I have parents whose smiles I don't remember and children that are not reflected in my heart. I have no map for me. Never for me."
Her voice grew bitter and harsh. "Someone drew me a line in the sand and I can't cross it."
Trapped. Trapped. Trapped. Trapped. Trapped.
There were bars around them now.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:19 AM
"So stop pulling the cards," Marcello said, sounding almost fierce. "Here," he said, holding out his hand. "Give me the deck. You don't need them. You don't need any of it. You're looking for other people to tell you what to do and what not to do, and maybe all you need is to choose something for yourself. That's Niabheara's problem. She plays by the rules, she does what she thinks will get her a pat on the head, and then she winds up almost dying because she never does anything that breaks the rules. You-- you don't need a map. You don't need to remember to move forward. Just go."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 12:25 AM
Taking a quick breath she handed him the deck, quickly 'lest she stop herself.
"Take them. You don't believe in them but he didn't either."
She slowly rocked back and forth for a moment, as if trying to decide. "You don't understand... I don't want to go forward, I want to go back. I want to fill this hole." She pressed her palm into her chest and it went in easily.
"I can't go forward, I think I've forgotten how. I have just gone around in circles for so long. Wont go forward, can't go back. "
Suddenly afraid she gripped his hand, looking intently at him. "Lay them out for me. Give me a path to start following. There's nothing up here."
Indeed there was. Nothing.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:30 AM
Marcello took the cards from her. "No," he answered. "That's not how it works. You rely on the cards too much; there's nothing else there. The rest of us lose things, too, you know," he told her firmly. "You don't get to go backward. No one does. You go forward, you find new things to fill the holes. And sometimes you lose them, too."
His eyes were stinging. He blinked. "You lose them. And you go forward again and you find something else. That's what life is. You don't get to wait and see what the cards say and follow them. You have to make your own decisions or it's not your life."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 12:34 AM
Her whisper was a desperate hiss as her fingers clawed the blanket. "I don't think it -is- my life. I don't even think it -is- my body. This is all borrowed time and borrowed dreams and..."
She broke off, closing her eyes abruptly.
"Don't think I don't know. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I see the chains and strings. Do you think it is the first time we have spoke like this. Your face changes... and so does mine. Someone wants me to step away and I... I can't."
She shivered, looking away.
"I never can. It was my choice to go down this path, but it is not my choice that keeps me there. I can't find a way out anymore."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:40 AM
Marcello sighed, thumbing through the cards. "Keep trying," he said quietly. "That's all you do. It seems impossible at first, it's like running into a wall, but you have to keep trying. Look," he said, shooting her a hopeful smile. "You're already talking about things without the cards. Right? Talk to me about something else."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 12:46 AM
"I... I remember things that contradict." She was frowning now, obviously trying very hard. "I had seven older siblings... a mother and a father and I remember it being cold in my room at night. There was a mirror and then I was married. I had two sisters, th same age as me and a mother and a father and the sun always shone and I hatched a dragon on a roof. Little things, little threads but they won't make the same pattern. Or i can't see it."
Her face was gaunt and desperate. "I was pregnant. I gave birth. I died. I gave birth. He died. I gave birth and he lives... I think. Did I give birth again? There's only ever one Child." She looked at him, as if searching for an anchor.
"I was everything. I was happy. I had a LIFE. I was SOMEONE. And now it is taken away. Stripped down. I am function and form but not myself. I am many. I am not myself." She smashed her fist against her forehead, trying to break through what kept her entangled. "Why am I not myself?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:51 AM
"I don't know," Marcello admitted honestly. "I'm sorry. I know hearing that I'm sorry doesn't help matters. I don't think-- why does there have to be a pattern? Lives...lives are lives, not patterns. If you want to be a pattern, you run the risk of becoming a card. And you don't want that, do yo?"
He frowned at her, reaching to lay a hand on her back, patting it like one would a child. "The child was a boy?"
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 12:54 AM
"I think I might be a card already... I just don't know which one right now." She gave the deck a tempted look sighing as she grasped the blanked with white knuckles.
"He was a boy. A beautiful little boy. But he died every time and then it ended. The slate wiped clean and the stars realigned. But then he lived and he grew up."
She frowned hard. "I think."
She got an odd look on her face then. "Little boys are not as cute when they are grown up."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 12:58 AM
Marcello gave the girl a crooked smile. "But we are devastatingly handsome, and much better conversationalists. It's a trade-off. So."
He frowned at her. "You mean to--"
But he bit his lip, holding back the obvious question. "What was his favorite toy?"
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 01:02 AM
"Fishing rod!" She looked delighted as if she had found some hidden thing she had not even known she remembered. "He always went to the river."
A shiver passed over her and she winced, looking quite nauseous as if she had strained something inside her. "I feel... not so good."
Her hands were shaking now, she had to steel them to keep still.
"I'm not supposed to know."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 01:07 AM
He pressed his fingers to her shoulder, watching with something between awe and worry. "But you want to know, don't you?" he asked. "You want to remember things. There. You have one."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 01:11 AM
"I WANT... but I am afraid." She chewed her lip slightly, watching him.
"There are terrible, terrible things to remember, I think I forgot for a reason. Or... someone made me... forget."
She pressed her hands against her chest, her gaze going to the cards again.
They would hold answers.
"You are being used. But you can't help but being the one you are. And neither can I." She leaned in and pecked him on the cheek.
"Thank you. I know you want to help me. It makes things better."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 01:16 AM
"I'm not being used," Marcello answered. "I've chosen everything I've done. I--"
And then he stopped when she kissed his cheek, laying a hand over it, and gave her a soft smile. "Bad things happen to everyone," he told her. "You don't-- you're supposed to remember them. No matter how much they hurt. They make you you as much as the good things do."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 01:23 AM
"I'm not me. I'm a card, we're the three of cups, three goblets raised and I had flowers in my hair. Was I getting married?" Her eyes closed for a moment, then snapped open.
"You should play your g-me with her, With your cards. Just a g-me. Pretend and illusion."
She seemed so sad at that.
"Maybe it is all a g-me, and it's not my choice. I can't stop playing, and I can't stop dancing."
The smile was sad but knowing. "This won't matter in the end, I move in circles still. But thank you for trying."
She was suddenly glad that he wouldn't turn that first card in the deck. She rather liked him.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 01:28 AM
Marcello gave the girl a wistful look. "But you know he liked his fishing rod now," he pointed out. "You'll remember. And if you don't remember, I will. I'll remember everything you tell me."
He leaned closer to her, kissing her cheek in return. "You're not a card," he assured her, shooting her a smile. "You'll find a way to make a choice."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 01:37 AM
Her smiled turned cocky and bright as she nodded. "I do. I will. I already have cheated so many tiny times I hope they won't notice when the big one slip under the door."
The sigh was one of relief, and she nodded, standing up on the staircase.
"I won't falter. They won't get away with this you know. I won't let things end up this way."
She sucked in a deep breath, letting the blanket slide off her shoulders.
"Thank you. I needed that. He's gone so you'll have to do." The words might be dismissive but the smile was approving. "You are better at this than you think."
She had stayed in the moment for too long already, the tear inside her had widened. She had to let go of her sanity again soon.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 01:41 AM
Marcello stood up beside her, picking up the blanket and holding it out to her. "Don't forget this this time," he warned, giving her a smile. "I told you, talking is what I'm good at. I'm keeping your cards, though," he informed her, waving the deck. "You know the map by heart. You don't need it to find your way."
Posted by: Alynealin Dec 6 2007, 01:43 AM
"True... you do need it a bit more than me."
She giggled, placing her hand over her mouth.
"If you don't believe me, look at the top card." She winked, then faded from his dreams.
Or rather he faded from her dreams as she awoke.
Dreams... such weird little things, so quickly forgotten.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 6 2007, 01:53 AM
And when the girl vanished, Marcello, curiously, lifted the first card, eyeing the picture of the youth holding a goblet on it.
And laughed. Loudly.
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