Sunday, 8 July 2018

King's Quest VI: The Cashless Society

Written by TBD.

When we last left Alexander, he'd slept through the opening credits and awakened on a beach in what we assume is the Land of the Green Isles.

Following my usual M.O., I start by clicking on things with my 'eye' icon. I notice that if I look at things that don't have descriptions I get a description of the area itself.

You are on a small beach. The beach is narrow due to the presence of the white cliffs. The river canyon opens here, and sunlight shines in from above. A rainbow crosses over the falls to the west, and a narrow path continues to the southeast.

I go north, and find a tree with a hole in it. There is nothing in the hole and talking to it gets no response. I make a mental note to remember this hole as I expect something will happen with it later.

Looks like I won't be needing any help from my old friends, coffee cup and d6, for this game.

I like that I can see what I'll find if I take one of the potential exits – there's a town to the left and a castle to the right. I decide to try the town first.

TOWN

The shopping district of the town consists of a bookstore, a pawn shop and a lamp peddler who occasionally shouts out his salesman pitch.

Santa Claus has hit upon tough times

That seems like a terribly ineffective way to make a living.

Aw, Alexander. Making fun of the game character's motivations is MY job!

It turns out this guy is banking on eventually getting a lamp with a genie in it to make him an instant millionaire. And now that he's told a potential sucker his plan, I'll be sure to rub every lamp I find from now on just in case. Then I'll happily sell him a lamp with an expired genie inside!

I check out the pawn shop next.

The merchant shares Alexander's illusion that his crew isn't lying at the bottom of the ocean or crushed to bits on rocks.

He lets me know that I AM in the Land of the Green Isles. And when I tell him I'm looking for Princess Cassima he tells me she's on this very island, in the castle I saw to the east.. This quest's going to be easier than I thought.

He also tells me about the unrest currently befalling the Land of the Green Isles. The ferry that travels between the isles isn't working – and with limited communication, the isles have learned to distrust each other... or something like that

He also sells items – four items, to be exact.

I can buy a tinder box, a second hand paintbrush, a flute and a mechanical nightingale.

Let me make some rather obvious predictions – some animal will need a flute song to be calmed and I'll need to convince some creature that a nightingale is somewhere to distract them so I can sneak past. I'll also either meet a painter without a brush or need to paint something myself, and I'll need light, or a fire at some point.

Like the lamp peddler, this man won't accept money – all of the four items are of equally slight value and he'll trade for an equally almost valueless item – and at first glance it seems like once I get one item I can keep exchanging it based on need. This seems like a way for me to change purchase decisions without having to reload a saved game. Is Sierra starting to make decisions that help AVOID dead-ends rather than creating them? My hopes are high at the moment!

At the bookstore I find a bookseller (surprise!) and a creepy old man in a black robe.

“sidelong... concealing...” - the game's adjective choices make me think it wants me to find this man mysterious.

The old man in the robe won't talk to me so I sit down and read a book about jesters. After a refreshing read, I talk to the merchant.

Is one of those customs that all merchants must have a goatee?

He tells me that the island I'm on, the Isle of the Crown, consists of this village, the castle and the docks. It's good to know about my surroundings.

He tells me a little about the other three islands as well; the Isle of the Sacred Mountain, the Isle of the Beast and the Isle of Wonder. And there is a legend of a fourth island - I immediately feel that I will be visiting this legendary fourth island. As for why he isn't counting the island he lives on as one of the four islands, I have no idea. Is this the zeroth island? Anyway, the merchant gives me a tip on how to find more about each island.

And I'll have to solve a series of smaller puzzles in order to get an audience with each of these leaders, naturally.

Searching through the books, I find a poetry book with one poem in particular that makes me think of Cassima.

Gee, Alexander. YOU MET HER FOR TWO MINUTES! 

That poem 'accidentally' fell out of the book, so I take it.

Okay, but don't blame me when the eventual purchaser of this book demands a refund for buying an incomplete book.

I look through the other shelves, but find nothing of interest.

I expect this is a reference to King's Quest III, but haven't played that game in many years.

There is one book of interest on the counter, a book of magic spells, which the man will only part with for, say it with me people, the trade of something of approximately equal rarity and value.

As I'm leaving I note a book on a small table at the entrance. The table has a sign on it that reads, “Take one, PLEASE” along with the crossed out previous prices of 10 pence, 5 pence, 1 pence and free. I have a feeling that this book is somehow cursed, but I take it anyway.

Yep. Definitely cursed!

Past the village is a single house with a large front yard. A woman seems to be gardening, but as I approach, someone opens the door and starts berating her.

I see not everyone in town is pleasant and friendly.

I try to see what is going on in there, but Alexander refuses.

Alexander is an adventure game protagonist – his entire existence depends of intruding on private property uninvited!


DOCKS

Further along, I find the docks, or more accurately, dock, or perhaps even more accurately, drydock. When I arrive, a boy jumps into the water and invites me to join him.

I don't trust this kid, he seems way too creepily keen for me to jump in.

It's easy to do something dangerous after saving the game, so I save, then jump in.





What kind of person says, “Tee hee” after luring someone to their death? If you're going to laugh, at least give me a “Mwahaha”.

I note that the death sequence has my ghost walk past some skeletons. I'm making another prediction that I'll be entering this realm without a game over screen at some point.

Reloading the game, I don't jump in with the merboy. After a few more requests for me to join him, he disappears in a puff of smoke. Alone on the dock, I check out the ferry on the grass next to the dock. I look at and try to take every part of the boat I see.

I have no idea – but I've played enough King's Quest to know that Alexander should pick up anything he can because it will serve an impossible to predict life-saving purpose later.

To my surprise, the ferryman is still in the boat. He invites me in, purely because the bookseller told me about him. He looks a bit gruff and unpleasant, but is a surprisingly nice guy. Before getting into deep conversation, I look around his ferry.

I wonder if anyone in town would be in the market for a used lamp?

I can't take the lamp, so I talk to the ferryman. He tells me more about the islands.

Then... can you explain why you go to work here all day – why aren't you off somewhere looking for other work, or spending your meager life savings getting drunk somewhere?

He tells me that Princess Cassima and her mother, Queen Allaria, used to use the ferry often. They would travel to the islands and take care of the needy. Last time they travelled, Cassima returned upset and the Queen and Princess were talking about someone spreading lies. In general, the ferryman is very impressed that the royal family served the islands, rather than the other way around.

He also mentions that even if he were allowed to travel, his ferry's no longer seaworthy. But there's another way to travel between islands.

And I assume the pawn shop owner didn't mention this because he doesn't actually want me to know he has anything truly valuable? What a salesman!

When I look at the rabbit's foot on his table, I say something stupid.

This guy's just spent the last 10 minutes talking about how he has no job and likely never will again, and that talking to you has been a welcome break to his daily boredom. What do you think, Alexander?

He offers me his rabbit's foot because it's brought him no luck, and before leaving I try to take everything else I can see.

One day you need to ask your dad how many things he's taken from other people, Alexander. He didn't become king by leaving things where he found them.

Leaving the ferry, I go back past the town to the castle, hoping to see my beloved Cassima.


CASTLE

The castle is guarded.

The guards are also dog-men – I would have thought that was something worth mentioning, narrator.

I tell the guards I'm a prince, but they won't let me in without proof. I show them everything I have but nothing impresses them.

I follow the path to the side of the castle and find some vines on the wall. Unfortunately I can't climb them.

New quest: find plant growing potion.

And at this point I was stuck. I didn't know what to do so I tried exploring everywhere I'd been, clicking on items I may have missed and repeating conversations with people I'd already spoken to.


BACKTRACKING

Back at the pawn shop, I found a bowl full of mints – I can take one and either eat it or keep it. I eat one and keep another. Later, I ate another three to see if I'd get thick spit or something, but he seems to have an infinite amount of mints (or possibly 5.)

I ask the shopkeeper about the magic map the ferryman mentioned.

Oh, and the creepy old man who was previously in the bookstore is now in here.

The map seems like it would be very useful - automatically taking me wherever I want to go just by thinking about it, but I'll need to find something equally useful in trade. I notice that occasionally one of Mr. Creepy's eyes glints. I can't seem to do anything with it though, unless I need to be pixel-perfect with my clicking.

Are you winking at me, sir?

I go back to the bookstore and meet some kind of clown.

An unfriendly clown

I offer each person all of my items, but nobody wants anything. I find a cauldron outside the pawn shoppe that will likely later contain something of use.

Rummaging through someone's rubbish – now you're acting like an adventure game character, Alexander.

Looking multiple times at the shelves shows that the merchant sells items that would serve a purpose in previous King's Quest games, including tongue climbing gear, a golden bridle finder, and a bridge repair kit.

Aw, now you're making me miss Cedric.

I use all the items in my inventory with each other, and individually. I discover that the possibly cursed book is actually just really boring and makes Alexander yawn. 

I'm sure this will become useful for putting someone to sleep later.

Despite finding out a few more things, I still had no way to proceed. Refusing to end my first post with a request for assistance, I kept exploring. And in doing so, I found exactly what I needed, back in the place where I started the game. 

Ah, pixel hunts. Everyone's favourite adventure game puzzle.

Convinced that this item was not there earlier, or at least the two-pixel wide item was not glinting earlier, I reloaded to my first save and even checked the screenshot from my introduction post. Oh, the ring was there, and it was glinting every few seconds – I just totally missed it.

So tune in next time when I'll show the guard dogs my royal ring, and hopefully enter the castle and see Princess Cassima – though I really get the feeling I won't actually see the Princess 'till I'm much further on in the game.

If you've enjoyed reading this post, we accept payment in the form of something of approximately equal value in return, or something of lesser value with a genie inside. 

Session time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Inventory: Boring book, mint, rabbit's foot, signet ring, love poem.


Predictions made: 
  1. Something will be in the tree hole later
  2. Some animal will need a flute song to be calmed
  3. I'll need to distract someone with a fake nightingale
  4. I'll meet a painter without a brush or need to paint something myself
  5. I'll need light, or a fire at some point. (actually, this prediction is valid for just about every single adventure game ever made)
  6. The pawn shop returns policy will be used to avoid the game having dead-ends
  7. I'll be visiting the legendary fourth island (which is actually the fifth island)
  8. I'll have to solve puzzles in order to meet the leaders of each of four islands
  9. The bookseller's free book is cursed - probably already proven wrong - BUSTED
  10. The swimming kid had an ulterior motive - CONFIRMED
  11. The death sequence area will be playable later
  12. I'll need a plant growing potion or sticky substance to climb the vines
  13. The creepy guy has a glass eye which I'll need to get
  14. The pawn shop guy will throw out rubbish that I'll take and use
  15. The boring book will be used to put someone to sleep
  16. I won't meet Princess Cassima on my first visit to the castle

41 comments:

  1. Why did the designers not just make Alexander have the ring in his inventory from the beginning? Did they deliberately want to waste the player's time with a pixel hunt? At least it glitters.

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    1. I think maybe the designers wanted to make sure you knew it was a usable object? Like, maybe they thought gamers at the time wouldn't check their inventory for an item they never picked up or had handed to them, or maybe they'd be confused as to why this ring is in their inventory? There's not really a good explanation, but that's the best I can come up with.

      What I want to know is: how did Alexander lose his insignia ring in a shipwreck while keeping, say, his scarf? Or other articles of clothing?

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    2. Would I make a man-guess (without any knowledge whatsoever if it's true or not) I would think the reason is to teach the players the game? Glittering things are important and can be picked up so look for them and you can't go any further until you get that part? Basically a tutorial for new players since an avid adventure gamers are more likely to pixel hunt at the start already and the glittering effect would peek the interest of someone playing for the first time? It is the first item in the game after all.

      Then again, wasn't there a how-to-play video or something that shows what you can do at the first screen? I think it actually showed picking up the ring and such.

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    3. One thing I didn't mention was that, the first time it glitters, and about every second other time, it's glittering coincides with small waves breaking on the shore just below it - combining this with the white glittering on a light yellow background, it's certainly not obvious enough to be tutorial-like.

      I see it glittering every time now because Iknow it's there but I spent quite a bit of time on that screen earlier while clicking on everything I could see and didn't notice it at all.

      I have no idea myself, I'd say Laukku's guess makes the most sense to me - though not so much waste the player's time but as a way to avoid making the first section too easy - it ends up making no difference for the player but there is a difference in the developer's motives.

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    5. Sorry, typo in the previous post.

      "Then again, wasn't there a how-to-play video or something that shows what you can do at the first screen? I think it actually showed picking up the ring and such."

      I seem to recall something like that; maybe not a video, but a "Quick-Start Guide" or something that was either part of the manual or a separate card in the game box (though my memory is fuzzy and I might be thinking of something else).

      Speaking of the manual, you may want to read through it if you haven't already, as there are some copy protection bits scattered throughout the game, some of which aren't obviously copy protection unless you *have* read the manual.

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    6. I remember the same although I can't find it in the manual. Maybe it was an in-game help function.

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    7. I found it. And yes - it was an in-game help function. But it starts with a spoiler warning so I wouldn't have looked at it anyway - I always skip those parts of the manual myself so as not to spoil any of the puzzles.

      And thanks all for the tips about the manual - can't believe I skipped reading it before playing - d'oh - it's a weird manual, seemingly not telling us anything about playing the game and just giving us background of the Land of the Green Isles.

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    8. At least one early Sierra game started you with an item in your inventory, as a joke. LSL1 has you start with pocket lint -- a reference to Infocom games -- and it is a useless item. But I suspect few people noticed it was there until much later in the game, when they actually had a reason to look in their inventories. Like MisterKerr said, it was probably to make sure you knew you had it. You wouldn't have thought of it otherwise, at least I know I wouldn't have.

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  2. Looks like you have the (originally Windows) hi-res portrait version after all! Personally, I prefer the original portraits, partly because of nostalgia, and partly because everyone's new portraits look like they've all been locked in tanning beds for a week or two. The only guy so far who doesn't look like they're part-lobster is the ferryman (odd since you would think the guy who works on a ship all day would get the *most* sun, but he's been out-of-work for a while, so whatever). When you're done with the project you may want to go look up the older portraits for comparison. They're lower-res, but otherwise a bit more normal-looking and mostly better (in my opinion, anyway).

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    1. The red skin must be some weird issue with the palette. Like, maybe the new portraits were drawn in a different 256-colour palette by accident, and they didn't bother converting them to the correct palette properly? Or maybe the artists assumed the colours reserved for skin tones were unavailable?

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    2. I didn't notice it at all while playing, but when comparing them to the previous version online, yeah - the bookseller in particular is definitely red when compared to the original version.

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  3. Gotta love the artwork in this game, especially that bookstore, where it frames the screen with some books.

    Also, maybe it's just the moustache, but does the ferryman look like a long-lost relative of Harami from QFG3 to anyone else, or is it just me?

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  4. I love this game! Just seeing the art is really bringing me back. I doubt it could be as good as my recollections, but reading this has brought a smile to my face.

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  5. Let's talk about a new logo! Do we have any artists in residence? With Hero-U "month" coming to a close, we CAN just put back the old Monkey Island-inspired logo... but with TBD playing one of the all-time Sierra classics, maybe we should do a King's Quest one. Do we have anyone brave enough to try to build a new logo?

    I have the artistic skills of a poorly trained monkey, but I threw this together: https://drive.google.com/file/d/19-HaJaVphtsK0d_IHH3G32v1uwR13PDl/view?usp=sharing

    I do not think that is good enough to be our logo, but perhaps you may be inspired by it to make something better.

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    1. >Do we have any artists in residence?

      I can draw very well, but looks like you want a screenshot compilation of sorts?

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    2. Not necessarily. I was just seeing if I could represent the history of Kings Quest in one image... which I cannot. :)

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    3. I'm just pleased with the fact that I recognise where each of those impressionist screenshots are from

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  6. Re: your predictions, TBD, I will say that at least a few of them are wrong, or have different targets than you might expect.

    And specifically, although I don't feel this is really a bad spoiler: gur tyvzzrevat rlr bs gur onq thl vf n gryy. Tb onpx naq purpx bhg gur xvq ng gur qbpxf, uvf rlr tyvzzref nyfb...

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    1. Yeah, I'm sure a lot of them are wrong - I'm very much looking forward to finding out though!

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  7. This is making me want to play this game again...well done!

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  8. Re: The Cashless Society

    I guess King Graham has been using the Chest with infinite amount of gold (http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/Chest_of_Gold) too much, causing a hyperinflation in the world of King's Quest and forcing everyone to revert to bartering.

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    1. So Graham's attitude to budget is like mine was when I was a kid. When I found out that the government printed its own money - I figured that they should just print more so everyone (especially me) could have enough to buy whatever they want.

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  9. Great initial post--love the title.

    I only played this recently; missed it as a kid. The initial geographic setup here feels a bit clunky to me. It's hard for me to swallow that the islands are that disconnected except for this magic map that happens to be near where Alexander gets wrecked. If there's some explanation for that nice coincidence, I don't recall it (or maybe I missed it).

    I do remember that it took me awhile to double back to the beach and find the coin. You're not the only one who missed it on the opening screen. It might've been a better design choice to make the blinking a bit more obvious.

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    1. I kind of remember the blinking being more obvious on my 1992-era monitor, I’m sure this is something that is lost in the translation of emulations and LCD screens perhaps.

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    2. Thanks Tornado - good to here I'm not the only one who can't see something that's glinting right in front of my face. :)

      Michael - I don't think it's so much the LCD screen as me just not looking at that part of the screen when it was glinting.

      Now that I know it's there it's so obvious that I almost can't believe I missed it - that was why I restarted the game to check - I was certain that it had appeared after talking to the guards rather than being there for the beginning - seems I'm just unobservant - a great trait for an adventure game player :)

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    3. Hmm..I think Tornado accidentally gave a spoiler...gurer ner npghnyyl gjb vgrzf uvqqra ba gur fgnegvat ornpu.

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    4. Reiko: You're right -- and I just read past that as a typo, since I haven't played this in probably 10 years. I assume TBD did as well.

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    5. Whatever it was, I missed it to, so I'm not spoiled!

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    6. I wrote it and upon re-reading it, I'm not sure where the alleged spoiler is. And honestly, I'd forgotten that gurer ner gjb vgrzf ba gur ornpu (jung'f gur frpbaq bar?)... so if there's a subtle spoiler there, it was DEFINITELY unintentional!

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    7. Ah! I see it now. My apologies; I was so confused that I confused myself. Admins, feel free to delete or edit my comment if you wish.

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  10. I'm surprised at my progress with this game. I have advanced quite a bit further and so far I haven't found any overly frustrating puzzles. Smooth, enjoyable ride. I think Sierra might have hit a kind of "sweet spot" in difficulty; either that or I've been generally lucky, even with the zanier puzzles (and make no mistake, this game is nuts).

    I also missed the insignia ring the first time at the beach, but the relatively small number of screens accessible to you at the beginning kinda ensures you won't miss it in one of your backtrack rounds. Sierra clearly knew this as they seem to have packed a number of spontaneous events that happen only when you retrace your steps (although one hopes this will not get as ridiculous as the cat/mouse "puzzle" on KQV).

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  11. Spoke too soon I guess... I'm stuck in what I assume is the last scene and pretty certain I've dead-ended myself. In fact I'm guessing there might be several potential dead-end states, especially towards the end. (sigh) And I was doing so well...

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    1. Can you ROT13 your dilemma so I can tell if you are stuck or not? There are usually a number of multiple solutions.

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    2. V'z snpvat gur ivmvre naq gur Travr ng gur gbc bs gur pnfgyr fgnvef naq V pna'g fgbc gur ynggre sebz xvyyvat zr rirel gvzr. V'ir gevrq rirel vgrz va zl vairagbel naq rirel npgvba ninvynoyr gb zr va gur fubeg gvzr orsber ur mncf zr.

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    3. Qvq lbh qb gur ybat cngu be gur fubeg cngu? Qvq lbh ivfvg gur ynaq bs gur qrnq (ybat cngu), be qvq lbh trg vagb gur pnfgyr ol qvthvfvat lbhefrys nf n freinag tvey (fubeg cngu)?

      Short path: Lbh arrq gb tvir n zvag gb gur travr.

      Long path: Lbh arrq gur travr'f ynzc naq hfr vg ba gur travr.

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    4. It's not quite that simple: ba gur fubeg cngu lbh npghnyyl arrq gb trg fbzr crccrezvag yrnirf sebz gur Vfyr bs gur Fnperq Zbhagnva (gnxr gur gvaqreobk gb gur fperra jurer gur ynolevagu ragenapr vf: gurer'f n fznyy pnir ba gur evtug fvqr arkg gb gur avtugfunqr ohfu) gb tvir gb gur travr, nf gur cnja fubccr ehaf bhg bs zvagf ng fbzr cbvag. Guvf jvyy nyfb jbex va gur ybat cngu, gubhtu vg jba'g arg lbh gur orfg raqvat (gung pbzrf ol trggvat gur travr'f ynzc, juvpu vf n ovg uneqre).

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    5. Thanks guys. I don't have what I need (short path) so I've been dead-ended for a long while now. MisterKerr: jung'f gur gvaqreobk sbe? Nyy zl cerivbhf nggrzcgf gb trg n yrns sebz gur ohfu unir erfhygrq va Nyrk'f qrngu. Gur tnzr qbrfa'g tvir nal uvagf gung gurl pna or cvpxrq, V guvax.

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    6. Gurer'f npghnyyl n pnir arkg gb gur ohfu. Vg'f n ovg uneq gb frr, nf vg xvaq bs oyraqf va jvgu gur ohfu arkg gb vg; lbh unir gb pyvpx gb gur evtug bs gur npghny ohfu. Guvf jvyy yrnq gb n qnex pnir gung lbh arrq gur gvaqreobk sbe.

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    7. Can't believe I missed that. Thanks!

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