NameAlexander Lucien Swann Beaumont
Nickname(s)Xander, Sasha (only by close family)
RaceHuman
ClassSal
ProfessionAristocrat
BirthplaceKastali City
Age20
GenderMale (He/Him/His)
Sexual OrientationHeterosexual
Audsalir ∀50
Activity2 posts [Find All Posts] / 0 threads [Find All Threads]


View All Items
[ full reference & factsheet ]
heir apparent of house beaumont
at a glance: pale skin, prone to gauntness • copper-blond hair, naturally wavy but always styled • blue-violet eyes • 6'1" • trim yet leanly muscled • fine-boned face • wears multiple rings & a dangling gold earring in right lobe

If you believed the rumors (and what convincing rumors they are, tinged rose with the redolence of fable), then Alexander Beaumont—golden haired, golden boy, eyes as cold as sleet—is not truly human.

The boy you see in front of you, however, is flesh and blood and bone. Rounded ears, pupiled eyes, skin like clotted cream. (Prone to tanning in the sumra. Golden skinned, golden boy.) Quietly you search for the black marks of fable, but even years later, you still find no trace of them.

Confirmation does not keep your stare from lingering.

His hair is an old gold luster, saffron-slicked to a military polish. He so rarely let them free, his curls, after returning home from the Academy. A shame. You liked his curls. All of Moorehouse had—little princeling, with the blue-violet eyes. Violet when he laughed, blue when he cried. A cold grey sleet when it stormed.

He is tall, but not too tall. (Six foot one.) When a girl tries to speak to him, lashes fluttering like butterflies, he lowers his eyes, not his chin, and sets his jaw to Heartbreaking. Silly girl. Doesn't she know? Un-lower-able, Beaumont chins. The girl excuses herself before he does her the honor.

The world returns to how it was. You return to your sentimental study.

The sharpness of his scowl, which he’d exited adolescence carrying (and carries, and carries), is somewhat lessened by the curve of his mother’s cheekbones. His mother’s dimples, too, reside within his cheeks; but only his sister, twin angel, can lure them to the light.

(Though, as you look for honey blonde in a sea of silk, you notice she is not in attendance. Not tonight, then. You know that Ludivine keeps his sister's presence a luxury carefully rationed.)

You jolt a bit, surprise shot through with thrill, when he strides towards you. Old habits die hard. The cut of his suit, black and gold, pulls taut across his proud shoulders as he walks. White cravat loosed and fluttering. Though magnificent, the embroidery on his lapel is understated. Elegant. His family is known for extravagance, half their fortunes cocooning their bodies, but heir Alexander has always been the exception. Closer, he comes.

A heavy gold earring with a five carat ruby hangs from his right earlobe. Winks dully at you under the smoky parlor light. Rumors curl into your ear: Scales. Black scales, one on every ridge of his spine. Have you seen his dragon? (A pause.) Have you seen his sister? Golden twins. Dragon twins.

“Good evening,” he says as he passes, eyes lowering and chin not following. Velvet voice Academy-deepened. “Good evening,” you say back, eyes lowering and chin following.

He has never once called you by name.
 
 
[ full reference & factsheet ]
heir apparent of house beaumont
at a glance: pale skin, prone to gauntness • copper-blond hair, naturally wavy but always styled • blue-violet eyes • 6'1" • trim yet leanly muscled • fine-boned face • wears multiple rings & a dangling gold earring in right lobe

If you believed the rumors (and what convincing rumors they are, tinged rose with the redolence of fable), then Alexander Beaumont—golden haired, golden boy, eyes as cold as sleet—is not truly human.

The boy you see in front of you, however, is flesh and blood and bone. Rounded ears, pupiled eyes, skin like clotted cream. (Prone to tanning in the sumra. Golden skinned, golden boy.) Quietly you search for the black marks of fable, but even years later, you still find no trace of them.

Confirmation does not keep your stare from lingering.

His hair is an old gold luster, saffron-slicked to a military polish. He so rarely let them free, his curls, after returning home from the Academy. A shame. You liked his curls. All of Moorehouse had—little princeling, with the blue-violet eyes. Violet when he laughed, blue when he cried. A cold grey sleet when it stormed.

He is tall, but not too tall. (Six foot one.) When a girl tries to speak to him, lashes fluttering like butterflies, he lowers his eyes, not his chin, and sets his jaw to Heartbreaking. Silly girl. Doesn't she know? Un-lower-able, Beaumont chins. The girl excuses herself before he does her the honor.

The world returns to how it was. You return to your sentimental study.

The sharpness of his scowl, which he’d exited adolescence carrying (and carries, and carries), is somewhat lessened by the curve of his mother’s cheekbones. His mother’s dimples, too, reside within his cheeks; but only his sister, twin angel, can lure them to the light.

(Though, as you look for honey blonde in a sea of silk, you notice she is not in attendance. Not tonight, then. You know that Ludivine keeps his sister's presence a luxury carefully rationed.)

You jolt a bit, surprise shot through with thrill, when he strides towards you. Old habits die hard. The cut of his suit, black and gold, pulls taut across his proud shoulders as he walks. White cravat loosed and fluttering. Though magnificent, the embroidery on his lapel is understated. Elegant. His family is known for extravagance, half their fortunes cocooning their bodies, but heir Alexander has always been the exception. Closer, he comes.

A heavy gold earring with a five carat ruby hangs from his right earlobe. Winks dully at you under the smoky parlor light. Rumors curl into your ear: Scales. Black scales, one on every ridge of his spine. Have you seen his dragon? (A pause.) Have you seen his sister? Golden twins. Dragon twins.

“Good evening,” he says as he passes, eyes lowering and chin not following. Velvet voice Academy-deepened. “Good evening,” you say back, eyes lowering and chin following.

He has never once called you by name.
 
a boy of three layers
merits: honorable, courteous, disciplined, protective, tactful, loyal, objective
flaws: aloof, single-minded, demanding, dismissive, hostile, self-destructive

He was not always like this. But a life can change in a day, and Alexander wonders, on the nights that seem especially long, if he will ever start living again. Because whatever he is doing—has been doing, since that spretta day nine years ago—doesn’t really feel like living.

To understand Xander, it's best to think of him in layers. Boy-shaped, not-quite-peelable layers, that are unwilling (but not unable) to expose the scarlet heart beneath. Breaking, but not yet broken.

Let us begin with the surface.

Buffed, polished, and lacquered. A facade of perfect coldness. This is the Alexander Drekhjarta knows best, the Alexander of Capital Letters: Heir of House Beaumont, Prince of Gold and Copper, Young Master, Rex Kastali.

Surface Alexander is nigh unflappable, barely excitable, his time a commodity exactingly provisioned. It is not that he despises conversation—if engaging, he is surprisingly conversational. He despises polite society. The shallowness, the viciousness, the honey-and-arsenic drenched garrulousness. He despises the second-guessing, the third-doubting, the devil on his shoulder that never stops whispering:

They are always wanting for something.

So he rations his smiles and kills his mercy. Finetunes his manners (impeccable), sharpens his conviction (inconquerable), slaps himself awake from the lull of weakness. It is so easy to forget that he is a boy no older than twenty, sat at the helm of a dynasty. Motherless. Father-hated. A pawn in his grandmother’s games.

Only Sanya never forgets.

Sanya and Sasha. The Polished Surface: breached. The Nebulous Middle: arrived. Long past is the childhood of We’s. (“Would you like cake, Sasha?” “We would, Mother.”) Long past the days of one-half-of-a-whole (nothing, save a heart-shaped space for Mother, in between). The twins have grown up, lives changed by a day. Halves torn apart to grow wholes.

Xander is different when his sister is around: his scowl softens, his wit shines. (They quarrel, but unlike sibling quarrels, twin quarrels are different monsters entirely.) Thin becomes the Polished Surface. The Xander of before, Sasha to Sanya, little princeling with the soft smiles, lives in the faint hollows of his dimples. You might learn that he is an avid patron of the arts. You might learn that when he is not on the guest list of galas, or hunched over the Beaumont balances, he enjoys astronomy. Collects antiques. Takes the hounds out to the fields behind Moorehouse to chase little spotted deer.

Familiar. He becomes familiar, a boy no older than twenty. Unlike the Surface, the Nebulous Middle has no clear boundaries nor entrances. How deep is it? How many secrets does it hold? We leave those questions for you.

It is time to enter the heart.

This last layer of Xander—scarlet heart breaking, but not yet broken—was never meant to exist. It had slipped into him on padded feet, curled up into a corner and slept. Year after year, it slept and it grew, until the day it bore a name: rage.

A scarlet river of rage flows within Alexander Beaumont. There are only two ways to channel it: drop by drop, or all at once. The first he used to hunt down his mother’s killers. He was patient you see, even at a tender thirteen, and month after month, drop after drop, the ‘s’ was slowly chipped off from killers. Drop after drop. A year, then two; until not one remained.

Absolute control, or none at all; that is the Beaumont way. The first time the river flooded, if his sister had not stopped him, he would have killed him. (Damned Nikolai—his perfect nose broke cleanly in two. It hasn’t healed well, but he is also alive, and that is more mercy than he deserves.) He has since spent three years in purgatory (more officially: the Royal Military Academy), thrown there by his grandmother to quell the flames of scandal. Three years damming the river, three years perfecting his swordplay. Three years nursing three thoughts.

He has only just returned, the Academy’s honor sewn into his pockets, his family’s ambition sewn into his skin. He returns, with three thoughts: (1) Grandmother has ruled for too long. (2) The Beaumont's corruption, their greed, disgusts him. (3) He has broken the promise he made his mother. He has failed to protect his sister.

The last layer of Xander, scarlet heart, scarlet river, was never meant to exist. But exist it does, and perhaps, he thinks—

This is what living feels like.
 
[ TW: contains violence and non-explicit reference to attempted sexual assault (last section) ]
a page full of humble beginnings
A torn-out excerpt from A History of House Beaumont, shoved forgotten into the middle of a worn leather journal:

The unprecedented rise of House Beaumont, Kastali City’s foremost banking family in the tumultuous years after the Fifty Years War, can be attributed solely to the brilliant strategic maneuverings of Ludivine Camille Beaumont (b. 436). In the centuries before the War, the Beaumonts were a respectable family of moneylenders with an estate, Moorehouse, located on the outskirts of Kastali City. Ludivine, the youngest daughter of Darius Beaumont, was born from his second wife more than a decade apart from her older half-siblings, Drace (b. 420) and Marthe (b. 427). After Drace entered the Human King’s army as a dragon researcher at the start of the War, Ludivine followed in his footsteps a few years later at the tender age of sixteen. A born strategist, she quickly climbed the ranks until she gained entry into the elite force of dragonriders and sent to a battalion in Austanferd.

Until tragedy struck in 455. In a grisly civilian attack launched by the fae on Kastali City, Moorehouse and all its inhabitants (including Drace, as he was on leave to attend to his ailing father) were annihilated in the ensuing fortnight of violence. As the sole surviving heir of her family, the devastated [This slash through ‘devastated’ is accompanied by: ‘I’m rather confident she is incapable of this.’ Penmanship unknown.] Ludivine left Austanferd and returned to the ruins of Moorehouse. Two years later, in 457, the young heiress married Antaeus Florence (b. 426), the scion of the once-great Florence Trading Company. A political marriage from the start, Ludivine combined the fortunes of Beaumont and Florence to establish the Beaumont Bank, as well as rebuild Moorehouse into a grand mansion. She gave birth to her first child, Lucien, in falla of that same year. His sister, Lilith, would be born two years later, into a dynasty rapidly expanding.

Scribbled in the margins of the parchment, in the spidery calligraphy of thirteen-year-old Xander: ‘Edited heavily by grandmother, no doubt. "Respectable family" before the War? More like humble... besides Moorehouse, great-grandfather was barely scraping by. Fae stripped away their fortune centuries ago. And no mention at all of drageskifts… elite force of dragonriders? Laughable. She was the dragon.’
from the diaries of ludivine
Year 450, Ventra

He did it. He really did it! Dearest brother Drace, you can’t deny my suspicions any longer, can you? Despite being so much older, you’ve brought nothing but trouble to poor Father. How many fae daughters have you seduced? Treasonous amounts. I’d always thought it would be Marthe who'd bring our family honor, clever as she is. But perhaps Drace is finally living up to Father’s expectations.

Drageskift. That’s the name written in his journal. “Humans able to shift into a draconic form, after slaying a dragon and drinking the beast’s blood,” he wrote. Just like the fae, and their barbaric magic harvesting.

My hand shakes as I write this. This is an unprecedented discovery! It changes everything.

---

I caught Drace shifting last night, when I followed him into the forests behind Moorehouse. (He’s been disappearing almost every night since he came home. Not very sly, brother.)

It was… terrifying, at first. I’ve never seen anything like it—him. A black dragon he became, just like the real thing. Scales gleaming blue-green whenever the moonlight hit him, black horns twisting out from his head like spires. He wasn’t massive, but I reckon he was about thrice the size of Old Beth the mule.

I admit I was afraid, crouched behind the honeysuckles, that skift Drace would smell me and come to eat me. Thank the stars he didn’t. I suspect the transformation leaves him too disoriented to eat spying sisters.

[Bottom of diary seems to have been submerged in water. Only one line remains legible.]

I wonder what it feels like.

Xander's notes, dated 496: ‘No entries I can find in between. She must've gone to slay a dragon between 450-451. Note: She never mentioned that Drace was the first drageskift, and likely he wasn't. Just one of the first. Must have started the rumors that he was, though... every new tutor they send me seems rather convinced of the fact.’

Year 451, Sumra

It feels like living.

Like you’ve been dead all your life, and finally you’re alive, and—you can’t remember what you did, but the feeling—of being so, so alive—

You don’t forget that.
the chambermaid's letter
Dread lives within my bones, clamps its teeth around my heart. I have never been more afraid, but it must be done. Even if the Matriarch finds this, and knows it to be by my hand—it must be done. I owe it to Lady Irina, stars rest her soul, to capture her story correct for her beloved twins to know.

Theirs was a marriage never meant to be. Irina Swann, from a Norderhalt family of artisans, was born with the beauty of an angel—and the heart of one, too. It is no wonder Lucien loved her from the moment they met as children, him thirteen and her three years his junior.

The Swanns had enjoyed the patronage of the Beaumonts, famed sponsors of the arts, for years. Ever since Akiva Swann’s eldest son, Scaeva, debuted as a prodigy of music at the tender age of nine, the Beaumonts sent one of their own to Norderhalt every few years to distribute patronage and examine Akiva's prodigious children. Young heir Lucien, adored by the Matriarch for his skift inheritance (Lilith was not so lucky), accompanied his father on one of these visits.

He left Norderhalt with his heart in a gilded box, gifted to Swann’s youngest daughter. For Lucien, there would never be anyone else. He defied his mother’s betrothal of him to a Sunnarst drageskift and proposed to Irina in 479, then a famed actress fondly known as “The Swan.” I was there, then but a young chambermaid, when the news reached Moorehouse. I remember the Matriarch’s rage—the skift form she took, scouring the city for her traitorous son and his wife. She would have certainly killed them, had they not already fled for Norderhalt. I shall always remain convinced of this fact. In Ludivine’s heart, her son was dead to her.

None could be more surprised than Lucien himself when he received a letter months later, Irina swollen with child, from his mother. Pleading for him to come back to her. She would welcome the couple, she wrote, back to Moorehouse—dearest Irina was having twins, the stars had divined it! How could a son deny his mother the chance to be a grandmother? And Lucien, joyous, forgiven, brought his blushing, twin-swollen bride back to the gracious Matriarch at Moorehouse.

Back to the spider’s silk web. The next chapter of this ever-darkening story—I have never forgiven myself for my part in it. We were all complicit in the Matriarch’s nefarious plot, the staff at Moorehouse. We were never given a choice. But neither had Lady Irina.

Why had Ludivine taken them back, her traitor son and his dragon-barren wife? Lucien’s ancestry (drageskift Beaumont and Scaled Florence) was not enough to ensure dragon-blessed twins. But what if… she could ensure it? Skift twins from a barren mother. What a revelation that would be, how blessed the Beaumont blood! Celestial providence, the Matriarch sang. She began to feed Irina dragon blood. Small vials slipped into her meals every month, “medicine” to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Ten vials—two at once on the day her convulsions began—fragile Irina consumed, the effects of ingested dragon blood never once studied at length. But to Ludivine, this was still not insurance enough. She requested (with a thousand gold coins) the just-slain body of a dragon, delivered to Moorehouse and drained of its lifeblood into an infant-sized tub.

And as each squalling twin was heaved past their mother’s delicate hips, Alexander first, Anastasie a half hour later, a midwife brought them to the next room, and bathed them in the tub of blood. Then, the horrific deed done, the babes were twice-cleaned and silk-swaddled and brought back to their exhausted mother, oblivious at the beginning, oblivious to the end. Her miraculous, dragon-blessed twins.

I suspect… deep in her heart, Lady Irina knew. Knew what her mother-in-law had done to her twins. I was the chambermaid who slept by her side the long, painful nights after the birth; and I would catch her rise from her bed at midnight, walk over to the golden cradle. Watch her flaxen-haired babes with a silence so profound, so heartbreaking, that I could do nothing but smother my tears and give her the silence to grieve.

Alexander, Anastasie. I watch you both now, Sasha by the window, Sanya sobbing on the bed. Lady Irina’s death [here the ink is smudged illegible by water drops] … Your father has not woken up, and the doctors say if he does, he will never be the same. You are still so young. My heart is irreparably broken.

But I write you this letter, because this story is as much yours as it is Irina’s and Lucien’s. Not Ludivine’s—never Ludivine’s. Do not hate your mother and father. They did not know. They had no choice.

You deserve to know the truth, and whenever you are ready, I hope you shall find this letter.

The letter rests, seal unbroken, in a drawer in the maid's old room.
a message circulated among the kastalian elite
HEIR TO THE BEAUMONT FORTUNE SEVERELY WOUNDED BY ASSASSINS,
WIFE IRINA KILLED

Kastali City, Spretta 492

Heir Lucien Beaumont, eldest son to the Beaumont banking dynasty, along with his wife, famed actress Irina Swann, and eleven-year-old daughter were riding through town in their carriage last evening when they were ambushed by three assassins. This is the second attempt upon the lives of the Beaumont heir and his family in a month, and is believed to have been the result of political conspiracy.

According to witness reports, the footman was immediately incapicitated by the assassins and the carriage toppled. All three inhabitants were knocked unconscious, young Anastasie pinned under the roof of the carriage. Irina was approached first, as she had been thrown the furthest. One of the assassins slit her throat, killing her instantly. Another—though it is worth noting here that this assassin seemed the least experienced of the bunch; why he was the one sent to dispose of the known drageskift heir remains a mystery—approached Heir Lucien and managed to stab him twice in the stomach before he awoke, and transformed immediately. He was stabbed once more in the chest as the assassins fled, the blade barely missing his heart. Lucien is also reported to have suffered an extensive head injury, and after carrying both his unconscious daughter and his wife’s body back to Moorehouse, slipped into a sleep which apothecaries worry if he will ever awaken from.

The night had been storming heavily, and all three (witnesses remain unsure if there had been more) assassins escaped. Mercenaries hired by Ludivine Beaumont have thus been unable to discover any information about the assassins, nor who had sent them.

At the bottom of the article, scrawled in a child’s thick black ink: ‘I will hunt them to the ends of Drekhjarta, Sanya. I swear it.’
correspondence between ludivine and orlov
Below are scribed records of the correspondence between House Beaumont and House Orlov in the days after Nikolai, Anastasie's (now ex) betrothed, followed her to her bedchambers after a gala held at Moorehouse. His efforts were thwarted by Alexander, who had been passing by his sister's room when he heard her screams.

O: I shall go to the King, Ludivine! Even our years of friendship will not excuse what your grandson has done to Nikolai. He has beaten him almost to the point of death! Lady Alysse says Alexander was like a mad animal, and had Anastasie not intervened, he would have dragged my son to the grave.

L: Do you think the King will listen to our petty troubles, Orlov, when his troops are being slain like cows outside Kastali by the fae? Have sense. We shall come to an arrangement ourselves. From what Anastasie has informed me, Nikolai was not as innocent as you are insinuating.

O: Pardon my insolence, Ludivine, but you are not known for your conciliatory spirit. Are you suggesting Alexander go unpunished? Even if the King cannot mediate, the rest of the aristocracy will not stand for his violence. Nikolai was betrothed to Anastasie. What he did may have been indecorous, but their marriage had been scheduled for later in the falla. They would have consummated their marriage in a few months more.

L: I suggest you mind your tongue, Orlov. Be mindful of who this alliance benefits more. No matter how sullied Alexander’s actions—and the boy is not going unpunished, Duke—may have made House Beaumont, I have already received new, far better offers for Anastasie’s maiden hand in the week since the incident. You seem to be forgetting the interest I have removed from your family’s debts for House Orlov’s continued good faith. You seem to be forgetting the little fae mistress your eldest son has been keeping hidden from the public for years. I have Einarr’s ear, and I assure you he will find that story more interesting than Nikolai’s.

O: My apologies, Ludivine. I admit my words have been callous. If I may know of Alexander’s punishment to appease my family’s honor, I shall be satisfied with that.

L: I have arranged for Alexander to be sent away to the Royal Military Academy for three years. He departs tomorrow. My own heir, sacrificed to the academy of War—does that appease your family’s honor enough, Orlov? I am pleased we could come to an agreement. Send my regards to Nikolai.
 
nine
female arctic dragon - 95 years old - bonded in year 500 - size chart

He found the dragon, body as sleek and white as an arctic fox's, draped half-in and half-out of a cave's mouth, frozen blood matted in her fur. He was on an Academy mission to Norderhalt, and as he was apt to do, had wandered away from his classmates to explore the frozen Taiga of his mother's childhood. Until he stumbled upon a trail of fresh blood, and followed it.

And intruded upon a massacre. The dragon hunters had gone to Allkalder for sleighs to drag back the bodies. At first, Xander wasn't even sure if the beast in the cave was alive—the carcasses of eight other dragons, all of the same species, cooled in the trampled snow. He leaned down besides it, and stroked its fur with a careful hand. Saw the slow rise and fall of its sides. He had bandages in his pack, and quickly unwrapped a roll to press against the arrow wounds littering the dragon's ribs.

A voice resounded through his head, as cool and smooth as ice. "Hello," she said. "Hello," he said back, aloud. He asked her what her name was. She replied after a moment of deep silence, her voice no longer ice: "Nine." Nine? "Nine of us, there were. Now?" A thin tinkling sigh resounded through the clearing, a little like a laugh, a little like grief. Xander knew grief like an old friend, and clenched his fist in her fur. "Only me."

Ludivine did not take kindly to the sight of him returning to Moorehouse, his Academy probation over, on the back of Nine. The scales on his spine were black—she snarled that his bond to Nine was "an abomination of his fate." To that, Xander only smiled, before bowing to his grandmother and striding into the mansion to find his sister.

  • Nine can fly short distances, but not with Xander on her back. She's wickedly fast on land, however, and is a good swimmer.
  • Doesn't remember her real name. Or, that's what she tells Xander when he asks.
  • Reclusive and timid. A young dragon, and doesn't know much about the world. Misses Norderhalt, but would follow Xander to the ends of the land. So she doesn't really mind.
  • Likes Valentine, and besides Xander is the only one Nine allows on her back. Despises Ludivine with a vengeance (as much vengeance as her naturally mild temperament can produce) and generally avoids her.
  • Finds the Beaumont hounds, especially Valentine's borzoi Melchior, fascinating. Often tries to copy their antics, to the amusement of Valentine and the exasperation of Xander.
  • Breathes white fire. Her passive magic often manifests in sudden plunges of the temperature around her, formation of sharp icicles (something she's fairly good at doing is throwing ice harpoons towards targets), and conjuring little snowdrifts. Her control over her passive magic is weak, however, and will stay this way for the rest of her life.
 
 
clothing & items of prominence
[ wardrobe pinterest board ]
  • Wardrobe: Often darkly colored and expertly tailored garments. Obviously wealthy attire, but not outlandishly so. Most commonly wears a tunic over black breeches, with knee-high riding boots; sometimes a trailing cloak (if the occasion calls for it). Likes to loosen his cravat, or dispose of it entirely. Minimal accessories, except for the earring in his ear and an assortment of rings on his fingers.
  • Sword: A rapier with a fancy but sturdy hilt. Can be seen in the reference linked in his appearance. Wears his sword wherever he is able; is never unarmed.
  • (see: dagger)
  • Dagger: Always strapped discreetly under the top layer of his clothing. A gift from his father on his tenth birthday; a dragon head is carved into the gold-plated handle. Also shown in his reference.
  • Misc: Cigars can most often be found on his person, though he's officially "quit" the habit. Carries a gold pocket watch tucked into his breast pocket, and often whips it out to check the time. (Most obvious sign that he's preparing to avoid, or leave, unwanted conversation.)