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Zaunn the Thaumaturge
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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Damn Karra! That's the second time today she's knocked over my ink and spoiled a scroll.

We left Ivarstead just after dawn, burdened by our loot and the lack of a merchant in the village.

We headed north, following a dirt track as it wound down beside a raging river. We let some goats pass unmolested but then encountered a dark haired troll that charged us from a cave beside the road. Evidently not as mighty as its mountain kin we slew it, and then a sabertooth that was lurking nearby, in short order.

We discovered a doorway in a cliff that opened directly out onto a lake. Investigating it nearly got us both killed when a deformed, sightless, elf-thing within attacked us.

We retreated and licked our wounds.

Around midday we were in sight of Windhelm when a crazy elf-druid sent fire elementals and arrows at us. It was an hour of playing cat and mouse with her around the copse of trees she was hiding it before we were able to defeat her.

We spent the afternoon in Windhelm, selling loot, speaking to the locals and listening to rumours. It seems that the Nords don't like a group of grey skinned elves that settled in their city. Some lad is trying to summon some sort of evil brotherhood. There is a killer stalking the city streets and the local apothecary asked me to fetch some sort of magic bottle from a tomb. I was also given an errand to visit the Jarl's court wizard and I spoke to a local priestess about this Talos god that the #Skyrim  civil war appears to be about.

In the morning I plan to head out to Winterhold where the College of Magic can be found.
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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I slept for twelve hours. Twelve hours in #Skyrim  and a full day in... well it wasn't really anywhere. A place between other places. A day on the road.

My experiences had left me questioning the reality of the situation. The battle with the Hagraven had been as real and as terrifying as any battle I had taken part in Wessex or the Dark Country. So what was my reality?

Was I a Thaumaturge dreaming I was Dovahkiin or Dovahkiin dreaming of being a Thaumaturge? Until I knew I decided to take each world as equally true.

We left Orphan Rock but instead of returning to the road we followed the path that led through the witches encampment. It brought us to a ruin high on the mountainside overlooking Riverwood. We surprised the bandits dwelling in the ruin and slew them to a man. We investigated the ruins, discovering some sort of pedestal overlooking the valley but we could find no way of activating it. We delved deeper and encountered a huge spider. My spells barely scratched it so we withdrew.

Returning to the road we pressed onto Ivarstead. On the way we encountered a hunter, a few wolves, some foxes and goats. We met a bunch of rebels but they did not challenge us. It's a beautiful, if precipitous, region.

We reached Ivarstead around midday. I spoke to the innkeeper and learned that a nearby barrow was haunted. I also spoke to someone at the foot of the 7000 stairs and, since I was heading that way anyway, I agreed to take a sack of supplies up top the Greybeards.

I didn't count the 7000 steps. I started to but lost count with the first wolf encounter. I met a hunter and a pilgrim on the route. The latter proved important as Lydia and I encountered a shaggy white three-eyed beast not long afterwards. I threw everything I had at it and it shrugged it off. Lydia attacked it and it knocked her down with a single swipe of its huge claws. I ran away, back to the pilgrim. She went down almost immediately too. The creature grazed me with it's mighty paws and I fell to my knees. This was it. I was going to die here, in an alien land, at the hands of this beast. Then it sprouted arrows from its flank. Lydia walked towards it, firing arrows as she came. I rolled out from under it and past her.
"Get to the Greybeards!" She commanded. I didn't need to be told twice. The pilgrim and Lydia continued to battle the creature but again I saw them fall. The beast pursued me, almost to the doors of High Hrothgar itself. I regathered my magic, healed myself and then steeled my resolve to recover my Carl. But then I saw her striding through the snow, bloody but undefeated.

She all but collapsed into my arms, I supported her as the two of us made our way to the doors of High Hrothgar. I beat upon them demanding entrance. Slowly but surely the doors opened before us. Within the dark halls the monk-like Greybeards welcomed us with reluctance but once I had demonstrated by Thu'um they were more welcoming. Lydia sank onto the stone steps while the Greybeards gathered around and taught me about the Thu'um and the secrets of their power.

It seems that I have the blood of dragons in my veins and can call forth the power of their language. With knowledge gained from the ancient dragon tongue and understanding absorbed from their souls (or decades of practice as with the Greybeards). Each Thu'um, or Shout, is made of up to three syllables and as you pronounce each syllable the effect grows in power. I had already gained FUS, or Force. Now I learned the second syllable of that Shout, RO or Balance. I also was taught Wuld, meaning Whirlwind, which grants the speaker the speed of the whirlwind for a moment.

By now it was night. Too late to climb back down the mountain and perhaps battle our way past that creature again. Lydia was resting and recovering so I fell into a comfortable looking chair and was soon asleep.
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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Alas I did not sleep. My joints ached and I felt feverish, the pain keeping me awake. So just before dawn I set off for the Bleak Halls once more. I began to question my wisdom as dawn brought with it a thick blizzard that all but obscured my path. Thankfully I made my way to the barrow without incident and plunged once more into its depths.

Returning to the deepest chamber I had explored I found a very obvious trap. A large spiked gate waiting to swing over a place where an obvious pressure plate lay. I avoided it only to encounter yet more undead. Running back I leaped over the pressure plate. The undead behind me were less fortunate and were catapulted past me. I slew them with lightning.

Pressing deeper I battled more undead. At one point I crossed a natural bridge across and open sinkhole, water thundering around me, the clear morning sky above, and slew the undead woman that patrolled it. Her body hurtling down into the depths below.

Not long after I reached a room lined with carven images which I could make little sense of. At the far end there was a puzzle door which I opened using the golden claw. Within was a large chamber and I could hear the voices of many men chanting from within. I creeped forward, believing that I was witness to some clandestine cult gathering. But what I found instead was an empty chamber. The voices seemed to come from a prominent wall covered in writing. As I cautiously approached a single word surged into my mind, imprinting itself upon my awareness. 

I staggered away, trying to comprehend what had just happened and as I did so a nearby crypt burst open and the undead within attacked. I backed away, launching lightning at it as I did so. It spoke, time and again, uttering words that struck at me like physical blows. In the end my lightning proved mightier than the spoken word. I recovered the tablet from his body and found my way out onto the mountainside.

It was around midday so I made my way back along the side of a lake towards Riverwood. I stopped only to marvel at some mysterious blood stains and kill a wolf. I then found a lonely shack amongst the trees, the dwelling place of an old lady. We chatted and I borrowed a book on alchemy from her (I returned it before she noticed). Once I got back to Riverwood I sold most of my loot, returned the claw, bought some spells, and said my goodbyes. I headed to Whiterun and on the way I bumped into a group of elves leading a human prisoner. I stopped to ask the leader what was going on. She was insistent that it was none of my business. I told her that I didn't care for local politics but that I was a stranger in #Skyrim  and wanted to get as lay of the land. She explained that she was a Thalmore Justicar and that if I didn't back off she was going to attack me. So I backed off and asked one of her underlings what was going on. He was much more informative. Apparently a local deity called Talos was being suppressed. They seemed surprised when I said that I'd never heard of him and then they all attacked me.

I'm not proud to say that I ran away. I made a fighting retreat and since the Thalmore surprised me by going from "yeah that Talos is a bit of a bad one" to "DIE HUMAN!" I was a bit hurt by the time I'd outrun their spells and arrows. I ran all the way to Whiterun and didn't stop until I met a hermit standing around and preaching about this Talos guy. Apparently he was this regular man who was such a great warrior and leader that when he died the other gods put him charge. Yeah I can see where the Thalmore are coming from but attacking me didn't make me well disposed to them. Someone, more combat oriented than I, really needs to put them in their place.

So I spoke to the Jarl's wizard and his friend, a woman in leather who seemed familiar to me. Anyway the wizard was only slightly less arrogant than last time. Then word came that a dragon had been sighted and, since my survival at Helgen made me the resident dragon expert, I was sent off with a patrol to deal with it.

So picture this. It was the dark of the night and half a dozen or so of us (it was dark and I was following the captain of the guard; she has a nice arse and if I was going to die I wanted it to be my last sight) are making our way down a road towards a guard tower that is already battered and surrounded by flame. I made my way into it, encountering the last surviving defender. Rushing up to the top of the tower I am able to spot the dragon moments before it attacked. I hurled lighting at it but it's flaming breath forced me back down the stairs again. I healed myself and headed back up, but it had landed and was too close to the tower for me to target.So I foolishly rushed down to join the rest of the defenders. From then on what I mostly did was run around in a blind panic, throw lightning in its vague direction, get breathed on quite a lot and healing myself. So when it collapsed dead it came as some surprise to all of us.

I went over to examine it and suddenly it caught fire and burned from within and I... Its essence, it's life force, it's very soul flooded into me and suddenly I understood the word that imprinted itself upon my mind meant. FUS, force. Goaded by the guards I uttered it and struck where I directed my voice with a hammer blow.

They said I was some prophesied savior, the Dragon-Born. I was sent back to Whiterun and on my way there was a noise like thunder. I thought at first it was another dragon but I was told when I reached Dragon's Reach that it was the Greybeards summoning me in the dragon tongue; "Dovahkin." The Jarl made me thane and gave me a house-carl, a woman called Lydia, to be my servant and bodyguard. I hope she takes her job seriously.

As the sun rose and we left to head to the throat of the world and the the greybeards I felt light headed as the exertions of the last three days finally caught up with me. I felt myself topple forward and I awoke in my bed in the wagon with a start.
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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I dream again tonight of #Skyrim . I found myself back in the Bannered Mane, the Inn at Whiterun. It was morning and the barmaids were sweeping out the drunks, and myself, along with the night's litter. I headed to the alchemist next door and found her a quite attractive woman. Alas my charms did not seem to influence her although we discussed her craft for over an hour. She seemed convinced I was unwell but I assured her my pale complexion is natural for me. She offered to teach me some Alchemy but I could not afford her rates. The most startling discovery I made was that I knew healing magic; just a simple spell but even so. This just proves that this whole experience is a phantasm; not even a thaumaturge such as myself can wield the holy magics that heal. While the alchemist was distracted (alas not with my beauty) I stole a peek inside a book on alchemy that she had left unguarded. It was most informative but when she saw me looking she became agitated and so I left.

I headed out of town and back towards Riverwood, the village where the Imperial solider's uncle lives. (I've been told that he's not an "Imperial" but a "Nord"; I've explained that I'm not a "Breton" but since they refuse to listen then why should I care a jot about the racial ethnicity about the imaginary people in my slumbers?) On the road I avoided a party of Imperial soldiers with a prisoner, spotted a deer and gave chase. I slew the animal with my iron sword and flaming sorcery; the latter proving the most efficient means, although somewhat denigrating the art I think, to use it for such mundane ends. I found myself on the road leading up to the barrow that the king';s, sorry Jarl's, wizard wanted me to investigate. I thought I'd scout out the area. A wolf attacked me and I slew it.

Then I found a ruined tower, just above the snow line. I thought top try and sneak up to it, like I had sneaked past the bear in my previous dream, but the inhabitants spotted me and attacked. Despite being outnumbered 3:1 I first slew one on the threshold of the tower, then the second, an archer, just inside. The third rushed down to attack me and I ran him through on the stairs. While I knew this was but a dream even I was somewhat impressed with my martial skill. Emboldened I looted the fallen bandits (I hope; please don't let them be local militia) and, swapping out one of their swords for the one I recovered from beneath Helgen, I pressed on.

Again near the top I was spotted by bandits and attacked. Again I fought back valiantly and slew them to a man. As I did so my knowledge of the destructive arts increased and I comprehended how to direct the flow of arcane forces to such ends much more efficiently. Again I looted the fallen and realised that, while I was evidently much physically stronger in the dream than in fact, I was nearing my limits. I turned and headed back down the mountain, first taking the wrong path and discovering an encampment of giants which I retreated from rather than engage, heading back towards Riverwood.

There a lad told me that the local merchant had been robbed. Since I was heading there to sell my loot anyway I went to see what had happened. Some sort of decorative golden claw had been pilfered. The thieves had apparently headed up to the very barrow I had already been tasked with investigating. I agreed to recover it, sold most of my loot to him (The Jarl had given me a very nice suit of armour, which while I was reluctant to wear, I wasn't going to sell at the pitiful price the merchant offered) and allowed his sister to show me the route out of town.

It was getting late and so I headed for the inn. There the inn keeper's wife showed an unusual amount of interest in me, even more so than usual. I have no problem with more mature women but every time I turned around she was there right behind me. I rented a room and headed for it, half expecting her to come and join me but before she arrived I had drifted off to sleep and found myself back in my wagon once more.
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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This links both the area under the towers to the mausoleum in the first level of +Evan Elkins Nightwick Abbey.
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We left High Hrothgar in the morning, clambering down the 7000 steps. As we approached the pass where we had first encountered the Beast we spotted it on top of the cliff. It charged us and I threw lightning at it while Lydia pelted it with arrows. Fixated upon me it charged as I backed away from it. As it passed Lydia she struck it down with her battle axe. Suddenly we had defeated the beast. Lydia identified it as a troll and I extracted what I could from the carcass.

The rest of the climb down to Ivarstead was without incident. We sought out the man who had asked us to carry up the supplies and he rewarded me handsomely for such a simple task. But then I doubt he'd have passed the troll alive.

We then went into the barrow to investigate the rumours of a ghost. I became immediately suspicious when I saw all the lit candles that littered the catacomb; the undead I'd encountered previously in #Skyrim  had not needed lights to see in their tombs. The place was also lousy with traps and many of them seemed recent. When we spotted the phantom in the distance he looked more Elven than Nord.

So I was not surprised when we discovered that the phantom was a deranged sorcerer with an unusual potion. He died just like anyone else and we looted his remains. His journal revealed that he had come to the barrow and we had discovered a puzzle door during our exploration. We took the journal to the Innkeeper and he gave us a sapphire claw which I used to penetrate deeper into the crypt.

However, although the undisturbed tomb was rich indeed between the undead and the traps we barely survived. Withdrawing from the crypt we staggered back to the inn late after sunset.
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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"Thane?" Lydia's voice brought me back to my senses. "Are you okay my thane?" I was standing leaning against the railings of the bridge that joins Dragon's Reach to the rest of Whiterun. I grunted a response.
"I'm fine," I said, "I just stumbled on a loose plank." She rolled her eyes and smiled. I didn't tell her that I had spent a day guiding my wagon along the roads that run between worlds seeking a way into familiar territory. Or even unfamiliar. But then sleep had returned me once more to #Skyrim .

I felt weary. Either from the exertions of my waking day or the lack of rest my slumbering self was suffering in my dreams. "Where are we going again?"
"High Hrothgar, my thane, to meet with the Greybeards."
"Where is it?" She pointed to the high peak that dominated the skyline. "No chance we can just go straight up it?" She shook her head.

I was given a map and shown how we had two choices , either to go north or south around the mountain. Either route ending in Ivarstead and a climb up 7000 steps to the moutain's peak.

heading through Whiterun and mulling over possible routes I met a priestess sitting under a dead tree. She told me a bit about how the tree was sacred and how it was resting and asked me to recover a special dagger, Nettlebane, with which tap another sacred tree for special sap to awaken the tree in Whiterun. I made some noises that she took as agreement and showed me where I could find Nettlebane. Coincidentally it was just off the southern route so I decided to head that way.

On the way we met a furry cat man (Lydia called him a Khajiit) called M'aiq. He made vague enigmatic statements but seemed harmless enough.

We pressed on soon coming to the ruins of Helgen. My blood chilled in my veins and I made to avoid its walls but suddenly the gates swung open and bandits poured out. Lydia and I made short work of them and I gave her some of the loot to carry. She took an instant liking to a magical warhammer I'd recovered from the Bleak Halls.

Making sure we weren't going to be attacked by any more bandits we skirted Helgen and then headed on Orphan Rock, where Nettlebane and its Hagraven guardian was to be found. As we creeped up to Orphan Rock were were initially attacked by black robed witches. Quickly dispatching them we approached their camp. Avoiding some glowing glyphs and some bear traps around the camp we encountered more witches and were quickly assaulted with fireballs from the Hagraven. It felt like hours as we duelled the monster, advancing and then being forced back by the ferocity of the creature's magics. In the end I took my life in my hand, charged across the fallen log that bridged the witches camp and the Hagraven's tent and stunned her with the power of my Thu'um; the magic that marked me as Dragonborn.

I slashed at her with my blade, lightning flickering from my left hand as her claws raked across my chest. I was bleeding profusely and near death. I backed away, hurling lightning with all my might. One fireball from the Hagraven and I would be finished. Then Lydia was there, a handaxe rising and falling with great fury. The Hagraven turned from me and I called forth the power of my healing magic to save my life. When I looked up Lydia stood over the fallen fiend, gore dripping from her weapon.

We were both near exhaustion. I looted the bodies and then, finding clean bedrolls under a tent, collapsed into one, muttering an apology as sleep took me.
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Once again my dreams took me to #Skyrim  where I awoke, alone, in my bed at the Sleeping Giant.

I wasted no time in heading back off to Bleak Halls Barrow even though it had begun to snow on the higher slopes of the mountain. I reached the barrow without incident, somewhat to my disappointment. Not even the bodies of those I had slain the previous day were untouched, which goes to show how bleak the conditions were. Entering I found myself in a vast smoke-stained chamber. There was the body of a bandit surrounded by dead giant rats. The late bandit's allies were nearby and yet again I failed to sneak past them. We fought and I came off the better. It as but the first of many battles.

I decided to leave them unlooted and press on, planning to recover what I could on the way out. I made my way through the barrow and eventually found myself sneaking up upon a bandit. He was carrying a torch into a room and in the centre he casually reached out and threw a lever. Hundreds of darts rained down upon him and he dropped dead before either of us could move a muscle. I cautiously entered the room and examined it carefully. It quickly became evident that it was a puzzle to unseal the far door. It took me a few moments to figure out the solution and press on.

Descending I was attacked by a pack of giant rats who were certainly more of a threat than the bandits. I killed them with fire and then continued on. I discovered a room filled with cobwebs with a struggling bandit trapped in webs on the far side. His struggled alerted the room's other occupant, a hideously gigantic spider. Lightning and blade made short work of it, irrespective of it's size, although it was touch and go for a while  I approached the bandit and demanded that he pledge fealty to me, or I would leave him to his fate. He swore so but as soon as I had cut him free he ran off saying that he would share the treasure with nobody. I caught up with him in a catacomb and made sure he'd share only in death. Alas our battle set something off and the dead around us began to rise. I killed what I could and backed off. I finally defeated the last of the pursuing dead in the spider's lair and then went back to recover what I could from the dead bandit. He had the golden claw stolen from the trader but he also held a journal that revealed that it was the key to the treasure chamber of the barrow. I looted the fallen and returned to Riverwood rather than pressing on deeper.

I sold what I could and bought some hides as I had intentions of getting Alvor, the uncle of the imperial soldier I escaped Helgen with and the local blacksmith and leatherworker, to make me a simple bag so that I could carry my loot more efficiently. I failed to hand the claw over to its rightful owner as I guessed, correctly I might add, that I'd need it to complete my quest for the Jarl of Whiterun.

Alvor had other plans for me and suggested that I assist him at the forge, in return for which he'd teach me some of his trade. Enough, at least, that I could make as many bags I wished. Under his tutelage I learned to make a simple dagger, a leather helm and by nightfall I felt confident enough to put a keener edge on my sword as well as construct a leather bag and some gloves for myself. Content, and slightly ashamed for besmirching my father's craft for so long, I returned to my room at the Sleeping Giant.
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I was resting in my bunk as we headed back to the Dark Country. As the wagon approached the border down the roads that wind between worlds, I dozed off only to jerk back to conciousness with a start.

I was dressed in rags and bound at the wrists upon the back of a cart luching down a rough road. A frigid breeze bit at my exposed flesh as we travelled. My travelling companions talked at me insessently as I tried to gather stock of my situation. I barely payed them heed. My spells were gone but in their case was knowledge. Knowledge of magics alien to me; spells that could be cast on whim, rarther than memorised and held until released. But instead I had but a limited supply of magical energy to call upon, energy that would return with rest.

I found myself surprisingly concerned as my unwelcome companions told me of how we had been captured at "the border." Apparently the man sitting gagged at the end of the wagon was some local lord who had betrayed his monarch, or emperor, or something. The local authorities were "the imperials," at any rate. I wondered what had happened to my wagon, Karra and my loyal aides. I found myself almost becoming sad at the thought of Karra's possible passing.

However before I could make a fool of myself we arrived at a place called Helgen. There I saw one of my unwelcome companiosn rush to his death. I was soon to join him, in this strange pagan land, when a dragon attacked.

Initially I was dragged off by one of the rebels who had nearly got me killed but I soon joined up with a sympathetic Imperial soldier who, apologetic at nearly murdering me for the crime of crossing their border, agreed to lead me to safety.

We escaped the dragon, fought some rebels who seemed to think that a dragon attack was the time to settle old scores, left a moronic torturer to his fate (I took some rough robes from one of his victims, learned a new spell from his grimoire in a matter of moments and discovered that I'd picked up a knack with lockpicks.

To cut a long story short we got out alive. The friendly Imperial led me to his uncle and on the way he explained that there had been no wagon when I had been captured. Indeed they weren't entirely clear when they had captured me. It appeared that I was on a world called Syril-del, or something, in a country called #Skyrim

The uncle asked me to take a message to the local lord and so I set off immeadiatly, even though it was getting dark. foolish I know but I didn't want to hang around near where dragons were dwelling. I rushed down to this Whiterun place, avoiding a couple of Imperial patrols on my way, and spoke to the "Jarl." He led me to his court wizard who, in turn, asked a task of me; to go to this tomb to find a rock that would tell him more about the dragon. "oh and take these alchemical ingredients to my friend while you're at it." I swear. Am I that arrogant?

It wasn't until after I agreed that I realised that he wanted me to go to the ruins that the dragon had last been heading to. However IO had an informal invatation to some colledge of magic. I went to deliver the alchemical components before legging it but I discovered that late hour meant that the place was locked up. So I headed to the Inn next door and, due to my limited coins, curled up before the bar to wait out the dawn. I was nodding off when suddenly Karra woke me.

It been a bizarre dream. What wasn't a dream was that the road to the Dark Country had gone, as if it had never existed. We turned and headed away to other worlds with our hearts filled with excitement at the mystery of it all.
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Maps from last night's Nightwick game.
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Zaunn the Thaumaturge

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So. Here I am amongst the Pictish kingdoms of Caledonia. I'm so far from anything resembling civilisation I'm not entirely sure I can make my way back. I've met a lovely sorceress called Magda but I can't stay, for a variety of reasons. Most of them complicated.
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A worker of wonders in the realms of FLAILSNAILS
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Currently Mobile with Karra of Wessex. Contactable by FLAILSNAILmail.