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Introduction - history, setting
Phonology - phonological constraints, affixation, mutation
Morphology - nouns, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, numbers, verbs, conjunctions
Derivational Morphology - nominalizers, pronominalizers, adjectivizers
Syntax - constituent order, noun phrases, passive constructions, questions, complex sentences



photo of áorfoenOriginating in the coastal region of Áorfoen, Áorfoenni has spread into the northern lands of Ethelíd. It is now spoken as far west as the Lun-Tora and the isle of Mídhíon, and east to the border of Malgaria.

Áorfoenni shows some similarity with Estéldir, once spoken in Ethelíd, though this may be due mainly to prolonged contact rather than showing common ancestry.  Malghas and Corioni to the east are possibly related to it as well.  The languages of the northern plains show very little connection to Áorfoenni aside from recent military and agricultural borrowings.

In earlier times, the Áorfoenni (the speakers of this language) were confined to the lands around the southern sea, calling their language "Elodyen", which simply meant "the way of speaking", or less metaphorically, "the language".  But increased contact with the other lands led to a sense of Áorfoenni identity, separate from the other peoples of the world.

Power, in Áorfoenni culture, belonged to those with honor (cuthl).  Those who fought bravely, traveled far, and gave freely to the people deserved the glory, and so it was the aspiration of every young man to win this battle-fame for himself.  The invention of the chariot in Áorfoen allowed a new kind of warfare, one that elevated the richest warriors above the crowd, letting them fight one another for the greatest glory.  At the same time, the kingdoms of Ethelíd, across the mountains to the north, were under attack by nomads of the of áorfoenni lands

The custom in Áorfoen was that the kingship of a region would pass to one of the king's sons, though it was never certain which one it would be.  The sons of a king would lead bands of prominent warriors across the land in an attempt to prove their worth.  This constant warfare in a search for cuthl had begun to take its toll on the Áorfoenni kingdoms.  When the northern kingdoms of Ethelíd began to fall to the steppe nomads, a new field of battle opened up to the Áorfoenni nobility.  Led by the two sons of the king of Fáorn Ruádh, highly mobile bands of charioteers and light cavalry streamed into Ethelíd.

The northern kingdoms were soon overcome, and the entire land of Ethelíd passed into Áorfoenni control.  The two sons who started the invasion established the twin kingdoms of Ármelgin, recognizing their father as high king (duntedh).  The invading warbands soon invited brothers, sisters, and cousins to come and join them in this new, thinly populated land.  After a few years, the Áorfoenni outnumbered the native Estéldirs, and the Estéldir language began to give way to Áorfoenni.


Áorfoenni has 27 phonemes, 18 of which are consonants.

  labial dental alveolar velar

S is pronounced [] normally, but s before i or í is palatalized, being pronounced [], somewhat like ti in English ratio.  In some texts, si is written şi to remind the reader of its pronunciation, but this is not reflected in the Áorfoenni writing system.

Ł is silent, nothing more than a brief hiatus between vowels, indicating a consonant that has been muted.

Áorfoenni has nine vowels, one of which is a diphthong.

  front       back

Á, é, í, o, and u are the five cardinal vowels of Spanish or Italian.

is similar to i in English bit, though it can vary from this to a much more central sound.  When before another vowel, it is much closer to í.

E is similar to e in English bet.

A is between a in English father and u in rudder.  The distinction between á and a is no longer present in some areas.

Áo is the same as ou in English sound, or au in German Bauer.

Note that c is always a velar stop, like English k, even when before a front vowel: cedveth "hillfort" is pronounced ked-vethCh is a velar fricative, as in German, not an affricate like English ch: návdách "door" is pronounced more or less like nahv-dahh with a heavy h-sound.

Stress is relatively even across the word, with some preference shown to the penultimate and ultimate syllables.  Lax vowels (i/e/a) are less likely to be stressed, but stress is definitely not phonemic in Áorfoenni.

Phonological Constraints

Words may not begin with a consonant cluster, and they almost never end with a stop.


Some affixes cause an adjacent consonant in the root to voice if the consonant is p, f, th, t, ch, or c.

If an affix causes two of the same vowel to be adjacent to each other, they merge into one.  (For this, a/á is considered one vowel, merging to á.  Likewise with e/é > é and i/í > í.)


Many morphological processes cause initial or final consonants to mutate in predictable ways.  These are lenition, fortition, and velarization.  Of these, lenition is the most widespread.


At the beginning of a word:

c > łí
ch > łí

d > dh
f > fí
g > zh
gh > zh
l > łí

n > ní
s > si
t > th
v > ví

Note that si/sí lenites to , just as if it were an affix, rather than a mutated consonant.  If a consonant at the end of a word lenites, it follows the same rules as at the beginning except for:

c > ł
ch > ł
f > f
l > ł
n > n
s > s
v > v

To give an example of how lenition works, let's look at one situation where nouns lenite - after the preposition ce "in".  We have cora "pasture"  which changes to ce łíora "in the pasture".  Or tara "well", which becomes ce thara "in the well".


Consonants fortify at the beginning of a word as follows:

c > ch
ch > c
d > zh
r > zh
g > c
gh > c
l > ł
s > si
t > łí
th > s

Once again, si/sí fortifies to .  At the end of a word, all consonants fortify in the same manner except:

t > ł

For example, words fortify after the conjunction a "and".  Let's take the words lon "salt water" and gáe "fresh water".  To say "lon and gáe", we say "lon a cáe".


At the beginning or end of a word:

d > g
dh > g
gh > g
s > su
t > c
th > thu

If the s that is being velarized is followed by e, i, or í, the vowel disappears, being replaced by u.  Nouns can take an article, na which means "not a" or "not the".  This article causes velarization of the initial consonant.  Dáras "jaw" changes to na-gáras "not a jaw".  But siádven "paint" becomes na-suádven "not paint".


Nouns - articles, declension
Pronouns - personal pronouns, question words, other pronouns
Verbs - conjugation, causative, progressive, cessative, negation, relative forms, irregular siá


Áorfoenni nouns may take an article, and must be declined with respect to case and number.  A maximally-inflected noun is of the structure:


the stars


An article is generally not required, but may be used to make the meaning clear.  They are written with a dash separating them from their nouns, as il-siugáden "some wolves".

definite é--
indefinite il--
negative na--velarize

Articles don't distinguish singular vs. plural, so il- means either "a" or "some".

Na- means "not a" or "not the", and causes velarization of the initial consonant.  For example:

Siá el é-sulan, na-ceran!
is that the-moon-ACC not-sun-ACC
That's the moon, not the sun!


Nouns fall into five different declensions, each named for a noun in that declension.  Nouns decline for number (singular and plural) and three cases (nominative, accusative, and prepositional).


falcen "warrior" singular plural
nominative falcena falcenin
accusative falcenán falcenárn
prepositional falcen falcenír

Falcen-declension nouns lose a final vowel in the plural.  Those with final consonants undergo final fortition in the singular nominative and accusative.  For example, consider leth "light" and áora "land".

  leth sg. áora pl.
nom. lesa áorin
acc. lesán áorárn
prep. leth áorír


fera "river" sg. pl.
nom. fera ferar
acc. feran ferarán
prep. fera ferarn

All nouns in this category end in a vowel, so it's simply a matter of adding a suffix.


ídedh "star" sg. pl.
nom. ídedh ídedhín
acc. ídedhín ídedhíne
prep. ídedh ídedhín

Singular ídedh-declension nouns undergo final lenition in the accusative and prepositional cases.  The plural causes voicing of certain final consonants.  Let's look at védínt "burden" to see these changes.

védínt "burden" sg. pl.
nom. védínt védíndín
acc. védínthín védíndíne
prep. védínth védíndín


"jewel" sg. pl.
nom. rínídh
acc. rín ríníodin
prep. ríní

Like the fera nouns, all -declension nouns end in a vowel.


thal "stone" sg. pl.
nom. thal thalen
acc. thalan thalénan
prep. thal thalen

Thal-declension nouns undergo final velarization in the singular accusative and singular prepositional cases.  Plural thal nouns that end in a vowel take a slightly different set of endings.  Consider eledh "language" and gáe "fresh water".

  eledh sg. gáe pl.
nom. eledh gáeden
acc. elegan gáedénan
prep. eleg gáeden

Prepositionsphoto of a sheep

Any noun used with a preposition must be in the prepositional case.

ne of, in relation to, on the topic of

ne + am "me" > de'm
ne + í
"you" > dí
ne + é-- > dé--
before a vowel > n'

vedun ne ferarn "king of rivers"
vedun n'ídedhín "king of stars"
-gálvé "of the captain"

ae of, belonging to (usually physically touching or attached to), made of, comprised of, partitive (as in "a bit of cheese")

ae + am > aem
ae + í > ad'í
before a vowel > aedh

é-gera aedh é-nínethu "the sheep's head"
il-échir ae thíchín "a field of thorns"

án to, toward

án é-neru "to the sea"

acra from, away from, on behalf of, with the authority of, before / earlier than

Am éda acra é-gálvé.  "I speak on behalf of the captain."
acra é-siugáden "away from the wolves"

ce lenite at, in, during, among, for the good of

ce + é-- > cé--
before a vowel > cedh

é-genesien ce zhenédh "the wisdom in a question"
-pálgénaní "for the good of the people / among the people"
cedh Ecsur "during winter"

ídh for, with a goal of

Suram ídh asi de’m.  "I am looking for my father."

Am sián án é-modh ídh anamugul udhun, am sián án é-neru ídh mugul udhun.
"I went to the mountain to challenge him, I went to the sea to fight him."

es through, by way of, using

es é-modhen "through the mountains"
íáda es videdh "to point with a spear"

ín with, along with, alongside, beside, next to

é-falcen ín videdh "the warrior with a spear"

cern into

cern é-neru "into the sea"

cecrí from within, out of, by (a person acting)

fethon cecrí é-sáísia "strength from within the heart"

gudh under

mélga gudh é-evsia "green under the snow"

gédan to under

Tesiadh é-témbedh gédan véth.  "The thief goes under the wall."

dachr from under, by order of

dachr é-vedun "by order of the king"

al over, above, across, beyond, after

al é-násiug dé-duntedh "after the death of the high king"

alán to over/above/across/beyond, against, contra

Muguladh alán é-nalethu.  "He fights against the darkness."

ulách from over/above/across/beyond

il-rí ulách é-neru "a jewel from across the sea"


Personal Pronouns

Áorfoenni has a reasonably large set of personal pronouns, distinguishing number for all categories, formality for second person, inclusive/exclusive we, and animacy for third person.  The second and third person plural pronouns clearly derive from the singular forms, using various plural endings.  Each pronoun has nominative, accusative, and prepositional case forms.


The inanimate/animate distinction is used much as we use he/she vs. it in English, using ath for people and higher animals, and for everything else.  A good rule of thumb for when to use an animate vs. an inanimate pronoun for an animal is this - Does anyone care what gender the animal is?  If it's a housefly, probably not - it's .  But it makes a great deal of difference whether a horse is a mare or a stallion, so you'd use ath.  But you can't carry English gender pronouns over to Áorfoenni, which doesn't make such distinctions.

Formal pronouns are used with those considered to be your superiors, whether by age, wealth, power, or social standing.  Informal pronouns are always used when speaking to children, even if their father is the king.

Exclusive we (na) means us, but not you.  Inclusive we (edh) means us and you, or me and you.

Question Words

Questions are formed with a special set of interrogative pronouns.

náctu where, in what place
neren to where
crazha from where
nodu by what route
ándu why
elédu how
octo when
ocsiar whether, if
férdé with what name, called what
thalíon using what thing

nom. acc. prep.  
molcu molcun mol what
engé engén eneg who

athoga which
nudhní whose

This class of pronouns is actually an open class, as more can be created from adjectives.

Other Pronouns

eth "this" sg. pl.
nom. eth ethen
acc. ethuan ethénan
prep. ethu ethen

el "that" sg. pl.
nom. el elen
acc. elan elénan
prep. el elen

Unlike "this" and "that", eth and el can only be used as demonstrative pronouns, not adjectives.  In English, it's acceptable to say "this book" or "that car", since "this" and "that" can be used as demonstrative adjectives.  They can also be used as pronouns: "this is a book".  Compare this usage with "he", which can't be used as an adjective: "he clerk" isn't allowed, but "he is a clerk" is allowed.


Adjectives change for comparison only, and are not divided into any special categories.

  avr "far" íonel "new" mélga "green" sielda "soon"
comparative avzhen "farther" íonełen "newer" mélgan "greener" sieldan "sooner"
superlative é-avredhu
"the farthest"

"the newest"

"the greenest"
"the soonest"

The comparative form causes final fortition, while the superlative causes selective voicing, but only for adjectives ending in a consonant.


  cardinal ordinal


1 iní nídi
2 búí gídi
3 vedh vedech vedhi
4 cedach cedaghé cedachi
5 tegudh tegudech tegudhi
6 gíven gívenech gíveni
7 ívu ívuch ívudi
8 evídh evídhech evídhi
9 níoni níonich níonidi
10 médhin médhinech médhini

Cardinal numbers (one, two) are for saying how many there are, ordinals (first, second) are for saying where something is in a list, and iteratives (once, twice) say how many times something happens.  Áorfoenni ordinals cause selective final voicing of their root, being regularly formed from the sixth on.


There are nine different conjugations of verbs in Áorfoenni, each named for a verb of that conjugation.  Verbs inflect for aspect, voice, and person.  Verbs in their default form function as infinitive or imperative.  A maximally-inflected verb is of the structure:


Ver n-egnásugadh, mugul!
ver n-eg-násudh-adh mugul
you NEG-REL-die-3ANIM fight
You who are not dying, fight!


gan "to burn" active passive
1st sg. ganam ganeín
pl. ganár ganáren
2nd inf. ganaí ganeín
formal ganan ganáren
3rd inanim. gana ganín
anim. gan ganaraen

Gan verbs undergo final fortition, except in the 3rd inanimate.  Notice how the 1st and 2nd person passives are the same?  Use the subject pronoun with passive gan verbs to prevent confusion.


dínodh "to name" active passive
1st sg. dínodham dínodhamaen
pl. dínodhár dínodhambraen
2nd inf. dínodhaí dínodhanaen
formal dínodhan dínodhandraen
3rd inanim. dínodha dínodhaín
anim. dínodh dínodhraen

Dínodh verbs have the same forms as gan verbs in the active voice, and just like gan verbs, they undergo fortition except in the 3rd inanimate.


tem "to take" active passive
1st sg. temí temidhín
pl. temídh temídín
2nd inf. temí temidhín
formal temídh temídín
3rd inanim. tem temín
anim. tem temídín

Tem verbs undergo lenition, except in the 3rd inanimate.  Use the subject pronoun with tem verbs to avoid ambiguity.


mugul "to fight" active passive
1st sg. mugula mugulagén
pl. muguludh muguludaen
2nd inf. mugula mugulagén
formal muguludh muguludaen
3rd inanim. mugul mugulun
anim. muguladh muguladaen

Mugul verbs undergo final velarization.  Always use the subject pronoun with mugul verbs.


esien "to understand" active passive
1st sg. esienam esienamaen
pl. esienamadh esienamadaen
2nd inf. esienan esienanaen
formal esienanadh esienanadaen
3rd inanim. esienu esienugén
anim. esienudh esienudaen

Esien verbs undergo final velarization.  As each form is distinct, an esien verb does not require the use of a subject pronoun.


sura "to seek" active passive
1st sg. suram suramín
pl. surar suraraen
2nd inf. suraín suranaen
formal suran surandraen
3rd inanim. surazha suradan
anim. surar suradraen

Sura verbs do not require the subject pronoun.


tedhi "to stand" active passive
1st sg. tedhi tedhigén
pl. tedhin tedhidaen
2nd inf. tedhi tedhigén
formal tedhin tedhidaen
3rd inanim. tedhi tedhiní
anim. tedhin tedhidaen

Tedhi verbs generally require the subject pronoun.


ivi "to live" active passive
1st sg. ivim ivimín
pl. ivimidh ivimidín
2nd inf. ivini ivinín
formal ivinídh ivinídín
3rd inanim. ividhi ividhidín
anim. ivididh ividhidín

Ivi verbs are easily distinguished, with only the passive 3rd person forms the same, so the subject pronoun is not required.


tha "to proclaim" active passive
1st sg.



pl. thamadh thamadaen
2nd inf.



formal thanadh thandaen
3rd inanim.



anim. tharu thagudh

Tha verbs do not require the subject pronoun.


The causative is formed using the prefix an-, ana- with root verbs beginning in a consonant other than n.

násudh "to die" > anásudh "to kill"
áver "to hear something" > anáver "to make someone hear something"


The progressive is formed using the prefix án-, ání- when the root verb begins in a consonant.

Ánícotcam é-návdách.
"I am closing the door."


The cessative is formed with the prefix t-, te- before a consonant.

dín "to give" > tedín "to cease giving"


Verbs are negated with a separated prefix ni-, or n- before a vowel.  This prefix causes lenition.

aí gana "it burns" > aí ni-zhana "it doesn't burn"

Relative Forms

The verb of a relative clause uses a prefix to indicate this, ec- before unvoiced consonants, and eg- before voiced consonants and vowels.

Dín cuthl án il-pálgéna ectesiar alán é-Lon Ledír.
give honor to a-man REL-travel-3ANIM across the-Lun.Ledír
Give honor to a man who has traveled across the Lun-Ledír.

Irregular Siá

As in many languages, the most irregular verb is "to be", siá.  Here is a complete chart of the most useful forms of siá.

active siá sián siách siénídh siá siedh siémidh siágha siérídh siérá
causative anasiá anasián anasiách anasiénídh anasiá anasiedh anasiémidh


anasiérídh anasiérá
cessative tesiá tesián tesiách tesiénídh tesiá tesiedh tesiémidh tesiágha tesiérídh tesiérá
negative ni-siá ni-sián ni-siách ni-siénídh ni-siá ni-siedh ni-siémidh ni-siágha ni-siérídh ni-siérá

Other forms are possible, such as ni-anasiá "to make not", but these are all regularly derived.


a fortify and

a before a or á > e

é-duntedh a é-tembedh "the high king and the thief"
il-áora ne ándhu e ándía "a land of milk and honey"

ím and, for natural/inseparable groups or pairs

methelen ím váníen "bucks and does"

ídh or

ádhin ídh cudul "hot or cold"

Derivational Morphology


The -dedh suffix is used primarily with verbs, though it can be used with nouns and adjectives as well, indicating a person of that action, thing, or quality.  With verbs, it is generally productive, showing some assimilation to preceding consonants.

-dedh word > noun (idedh): "person of X, Xer"

ís "hunt" > ístedh "hunter"
thedíon "east" > thedíondedh "easterner"
mizha "foreign" > mizhedh "foreigner"

The suffix -den behaves much the same as -dedh, though it is not as productive.

-den word > noun (idedh): "person of X, Xer"

evedh "obey" > evedhen "servant"
anásudh "kill" > anásudhen "killer"
neru "sea" > neruden "sailor, fisherman"

Adjectives can be made into a noun of their quality using -on.  The resulting noun is usually of the thal declension, though there are some exceptions.  This process is generally productive.

-on adj. > noun (thal): "Xness"

él "slow" > élon "slowness"
sielda "soon" > sieldon "imminence"
asienral "communal" > asienralon "similarity"


Unlike most languages, Áorfoenni has an open class of interrogative pronouns, as more can be derived from adjectives by adding a prefix, a-, and a suffix, .

a- -é adj. > question word: "how X"

adh "old" > ádhé "how old"
mélga "green" > amélgaé "how green"
"slow" > aélé "how slow"
sielda "soon" > asieldaé "how soon"

Adjectivizersphoto of two horses

A suffix -el can change a noun into an adjective of its quality.


noun > adj.: "Xlike"

íon "youth" > íonel "young"
leth "light" > ledhel "radiant"
násiudh "death" > násiudhel "dead"
tera "sun" > teral "sunny"


Constituent Order


The simplest sentence in Áorfoenni is a command, VO.

Avno é-návdách!
open the-door-ACC
Open the door!

Other than just the verb and the object, you can flesh out a sentence like this with other things, like adverbs or prepositional phrases.

Tem il-marcarán án cedázh.
bring a-fruit-ACC.PL to home-PREP
Bring some fruit home.


Most of the time, however, you'll need a subject to make a statement, in which case it's VSO.

Dín é-gálvé il-sián án asi de'm.
give-3ANIM.SG the-captain-NOM a-dog-ACC to father-PREP of me

The captain gave my father a dog.

Statements can have prepositional phrases or adverbs in them, and they can go just about anywhere.  Adverbs often go before the verb, while prepositional phrases are likely to be at the end of the sentence, but there's no rule one way or another.

Siáráter vedh é-veduna cern é-noran.
yesterday come-3ANIM.SG the-king-NOM into the-village-PREP
The king came to the village yesterday.

Predicative statements are treated just the same as any other, using "be" as the verb.

Siá arana de'm il-ivídhen adh.
is mother-NOM of me a-woman-ACC old

My mother is an old woman.


If the subject is a pronoun though, the sentence is SVO, like English.

Na dínídh inínan dé-áor án vá.
we give-1PL dominion-ACC over the-land-PREP to you
We give you dominion over the land.

Am métha izhen é-modhénan acra am egnásuga.
I want-1SG see the-mountain-ACC.PL before I REL-die-1SG
I want to see the mountains before I die.


If the object is the same as the subject, fénr "face" is used as a special reflexive object.

Izhen ivídhen fénr n'ath.
see-3ANIM.SG woman face of-her
The woman saw herself.

Noun Phrases

Noun phrases are simply NOUN ADJECTIVE NUMBER, the exact reverse of English.

pálgénanídh íonel gí
man-PL young two

two young men

il-anden álé
a-tree tall

a tall tree

Relative Clauses

il-pálgéna egávezh án é-vedun
a-man REL-listen-3ANIM to the-king
a man who listens to the king

il-oden eganivídhidín siar ae násiudel
a-time REL-reanimate-3ANIM.PASSIVE all of the-dead-PREP
a time when all the dead are brought back to life

Predicate Adjectives

Siá é-méthen álé.
is the-woodworker-NOM tall

The woodworker is tall.

Siérá é-andenthalen íonel.
are the-tree-NOM.PL young

The trees are young.


Evegadaen é-elen por é-elen na-por.
obey-3ANIM.PASSIVE that-NOM.PL strong that-PREP.PL not-strong

The strong shall be obeyed by the weak.

Siérá ethen elénan íonel.
are this-NOM.PL that-ACC.PL young
These are the young.


A comparative statement has three crucial parts: the quality being compared, the noun considered, and the noun compared to.  The noun being compared to is in the prepositional case, and the adjective quality being compared is in the comparative form.

Siá é-ázhin cuduledhu ádhinen é-pelí ádhinedhu.
is the-fire-NOM cold-SUPER hot-COMP the-soup-PREP hot-SUPER

The coldest fire is hotter than the hottest soup.

Siá na-modh álén ethu.
is no-mountain-NOM tall-COMP this-PREP

No mountain is taller than this.

Passive Constructions

Thagén il-cedázh de'm.
proclaim-3ANIM.PASSIVE a-house-NOM of me

I have a house.

Evegadaen é-ethen por é-elen na-por.
obey-3ANIM.PASSIVE this-NOM.PL strong that-PREP.PL not-strong

The strong shall be obeyed by the weak.


Yes/No Questions

Simple yes/no questions have the same form as statements, with the addition of the particle na at the end of the sentence.  This particle can be omitted, in which case the question is only distinguished from a statement by intonation.

Í vedhí na?
you come-2INF.SG QUES
Are you coming?

Answers to such questions repeat the verb from the question.

Yes, I am.

No, I'm not.

Negative questions are easy enough to make, as they use the same negative morphology as an indicative verb.

Ni-siách il-pálgéna adh na?
NEG-be-2FORM.SG a-man-ACC old QUES
Aren't you an old man?

Yes, I am (an old man).

No, I'm not (an old man).

Question Words

Questions using interrogative pronouns don't move them to the front of the sentence as in English: What did you eat?, instead leaving them where they would be if they were regular nouns: You ate a sandwich. > You ate what?.

Izhenadh é-cedvethen engén?
see-3ANIM.SG the-sentry-NOM who-ACC
Who did the sentry see?

Í díní án ath é-nínethu a molcun?
you give-3ANIM.SG to him the-sheep-ACC and what-ACC
You gave him the sheep and what else?

Complex Sentences

Sentences as Objects

Tell them that the king is dead.

Everyone knows that the eastern pass is closed.

Yesterday you said we had five days' food, not two!

Tell them what you told me.

Conditional Sentences

When the king's heir comes from across the sea, (then) it will rain.

If he betrays us, (then) kill him.

Relative Clauses

I don't live in the house where my grandfather died.

Today is when we are to be exiled.

The king says whether we are to be exiled.

© 2004 Joseph Fatula, all rights reserved.