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Bran Vras

Three theories on Roose Bolton (The fate of Domeric, Last day in Harrenhal, Lady Dustin)

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Hmm, ok, so I've been thinking on this Bran, and going over the scene where Roose tells Theon about his encounter with the Miller's wife. Now, I think others have posited that because of this action, Roose may have been cursed, and somehow beholden to the Miller's wife and looking after her. Roose claims that other Northern families have kept up the tradition of the Lord's Night:

The Umbers keep the first night too, deny it as they may. Certain of the mountain clans as well, and on Skagos... well, only heart trees ever see half of they do on Skagos

Now, Roose could very well be telling the truth here about the Umbers and the clans, or he could be trying to validate his actions to himself and to Theon by making an assumption that he's not alone in his actions. Either way, what Roose did went beyond merely raping the man's wife. He kills her husband and then takes the woman as the dead man is hanging from a rope on a tree.

As it is, Roose describes Ramsay as a "squalling, red-faced monster" when the mother show up at the Dreadfort, but relents because the babe had his eyes. I don't think anyone would describe Roose as caring and paternal, but this seems a like a fairly tender and fatherly reaction for him to have.

Onto the blood theory: I'm intrigued by your suggestion that it was Roose and not Ramsay who killed Domeric. I have one major question to that end: do we have any other proof that Domeric did indeed seek out his bastard brother as Roose claimed? As far as I know, trueborn sons are not in the habit of seeking friendship with their bastard relatives, except in the case where they may have grown up together. In any case, the supposed poisoning of Domeric definitely seems more in keeping with Roose's style as someone familiar obsessed with the properties of blood and purification.

Roose also poses an interesting question when he is talking to Theon:

I do wonder, though... was it Ramsay who corrupted Reek, or Reek Ramsay?

We don't know do we? All we know is that Roose claims the first Reek had some kind of sickness of the blood which made him perpetually stink.

The smell was something he was born with. A curse the smallfolk said. The gods made him stink so that men would know his soul was rotting.

As to the book that he is reading and then burns, I agree that his deep contemplation and the general spooky atmosphere suggests that it could have been on a supernatural topic, something to do with sorcery.

He watched the flames consume it, pale eyes shining with reflected light. The old dry leather went up with a whoosh, and the yellow pages stirred as they burned, as if some ghost was reading them. "I will have no further need of you tonight," he said, never looking at her.

So just what has Roose learnt over the years on this subject? And is this why he's never suffered a bruise of blemish despite fighting in many battles before? Is Roose trying to prolong his life unnaturally by using the blood of his sons?

Ahhh, questions, questions :)

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Lady Octarina, we disagree on that. This is a feudal world. A great Lord does not accept to be addressed in this way when he enters the Great Hall of one of his bannerman, even if nobody is around. It's possible that people with close family ties address each other in an informal way, but then the formalities are replaced by authentic displays of affection. There are none here. I would have liked to compare with a similar situation in the book, but, as it turned out, it's not easy to find one. Maybe you can find an instance to disprove me, and I'll concede.

I don't have my books here, but doesn't Tyrion repeatedly addresses Cersei in a similar way (or even worse, through mockery and provocations), even though she is the queen? They might be brother and sister, but I imagine even Bolton and Lady Dustin are closer than they are.

Now, I always assumed she wears black because she is in perpetual mourning or something. I'm not sure I can see the ties to the NW, but that doesn't disprove the idea she is dedicated to the North. But I did like that comparison you drew between Roose and the waif, that could certainly be the case. On the other hand, if Roose really has managed to preserve his youth, wouldn't other people have noticed that, like the Northmen who know him for decades?

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The pallid texture of Roose's skin could conceal his agelessness...

Hmmm, maybe Roose has been carrying out experiments in the Dreadfort similar to what Qyburn is now doing at Kings Landing. I imagine that the first Reek would have fascinated a man like Roose - someone who just stinks constantly but is otherwise healthy and strong.

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IOn the other hand, if Roose really has managed to preserve his youth, wouldn't other people have noticed that, like the Northmen who know him for decades?

Indeed.

Only case I could see is if "Roose" actually gets a kid, kid grows, grows closer to his looks, then "Roose" kills him and assumes the role of his kid, claiming the previous Bolton died and he's the kid.

This could explain why he kept Ramsay but not the other kids ("he has my eyes"), why he told Theon Ramsay would kill all other kids - Roose would, probably -, and why he didn't want to risk killing Ramsay now and having a baby as his heir - by the time his newborn is old enough to look closer to Roose's current apparent age, Roose should be older and wrinkled.

Of course, all this could be ruined in the case where the chosen heir, who has the potential to look like Roose and can be killed with Roose passing for him, dies in his twenties. Which leads me to think this is a very far-fetched theory that is highly unlikely.

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Indeed.

Only case I could see is if "Roose" actually gets a kid, kid grows, grows closer to his looks, then "Roose" kills him and assumes the role of his kid, claiming the previous Bolton died and he's the kid.

This could explain why he kept Ramsay but not the other kids ("he has my eyes"), why he told Theon Ramsay would kill all other kids - Roose would, probably -, and why he didn't want to risk killing Ramsay now and having a baby as his heir - by the time his newborn is old enough to look closer to Roose's current apparent age, Roose should be older and wrinkled.

Of course, all this could be ruined in the case where the chosen heir, who has the potential to look like Roose and can be killed with Roose passing for him, dies in his twenties. Which leads me to think this is a very far-fetched theory that is highly unlikely.

As unlikely as that is, I really love this sinister idea! It reminds me of another story, something I became familiar with many years ago, so many years that I don't even remember what it was about... vampire story, perhaps? Well, the parallels between Roose and traditional vampires are certainly there, if we forget the sun problem.

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Now, I always assumed she wears black because she is in perpetual mourning or something. I'm not sure I can see the ties to the NW, but that doesn't disprove the idea she is dedicated to the North. But I did like that comparison you drew between Roose and the waif, that could certainly be the case. On the other hand, if Roose really has managed to preserve his youth, wouldn't other people have noticed that, like the Northmen who know him for decades?

Lady Dustin has no direct ties to the Night's Watch of course. (Perhaps boarders who speculate in the heresies would tell us that there was once a Night's Watch in Moat Cailin, which is in Barrowton's jurisdiction, apparently. But that's all I can imagine.)

My point is that she sees herself has a guardian of the ancestral northern traditions. Her chosen appearance (all in black, without adornments) reflects that dedication and deliberately evokes for any northman worthy of the name, the selflessness and the sense of duty of the Night's Watch.

I tend to think that Lady Barbrey is driven by this sense of duty. She sees now the Starks as unfit to rule and might have decided that the Boltons are now legitimate Wardens of the North, for reasons that, she believes, are entirely unselfish (but she might delude herself and be driven in fact by hate).

I don't yet imagine Roose as unnaturally old. But I am not sure what to think. We know that he is well past forty and that he had a wife before Bethany Ryswell. There is the indication that Lyanna Stark (if I understand correctly) could not outride Domeric, which seems to imply that Domeric is at least as old as Lyanna (otherwise the comparison does not make much sense), who would be 33 by now. That would put Roose well past fifty, I think.

I'll say more later on Lady Dustin.

Now, Roose could very well be telling the truth here about the Umbers and the clans

I do believe Roose on this. That's something to keep in mind (and interestingly, those people are on Stannis's side).

As it is, Roose describes Ramsay as a "squalling, red-faced monster" when the mother show up at the Dreadfort, but relents because the babe had his eyes. I don't think anyone would describe Roose as caring and paternal, but this seems a like a fairly tender and fatherly reaction for him to have.

The term "squalling, red-faced monster" is quite intriguing. I am not sure how to interpret it. It seems to me that every word counts in the story of the miller's wife.

I have one major question to that end: do we have any other proof that Domeric did indeed seek out his bastard brother as Roose claimed? As far as I know, trueborn sons are not in the habit of seeking friendship with their bastard relatives, except in the case where they may have grown up together. In any case, the supposed poisoning of Domeric definitely seems more in keeping with Roose's style as someone familiar obsessed with the properties of blood and purification.

I don't know if Roose poisoned Domeric. The only indication we have is that Roose consistently blames Ramsay for the crime and that the symptoms of the death seem to coincide with poisoning by the tears of Lys.

Another thing to note is that Roose says Domeric has been poisoned, while the maester of the Dreadfort simply blames a sickness. What is Roose's evidence? It would be very simple for Roose to absolve Ramsay by repeating the opinion of the maester. There is no need to accuse Ramsay.

There is little mean to answer your question of what happened. Perhaps, what is said about the Redfort in the Sansa chapters in the Vale could give an hint or two about Domeric. The only thing I have found is that Lord Redfort has had three wives, just like Roose (AFfC, appendix). In AGoT, Robert and Ned recall their time in the Vale

Only the things had gone rotten, so I flung [my orange] across the table and hit Dacks right in the nose. You remember, Redfort’s pock-faced squire? He tossed one back at me, and before Jon could so much as fart, there were oranges flying across the High Hall in every direction.”

If Domeric was of the same age than Lyanna, the squire was probably Domeric. It seems that the squire had a rather pugnacious personality and was possibly afflicted by a disease (pock-faced), two things that might not have pleased Roose.

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How exactly would Roose be sacrificing his son to the Others when the Others are North of the Wall? My impression is that Craster is leaving his sons out and the others come in and take them. Roose would have to take his infant North of the Wall to sacrifice them to the Others. And why would he not have killed Domeric as an infant like all of the other kids he had that passed away?

And, why wouldnt he kill Ramsay too? Ramsay is a son of his. The Others don't seem to care if they are bastards, considering they take everyone of Crasters kids.

I can understand why it would make you think that, but I don't think that it makes sense based on what we know of Crasters sacrifices and the fact that Domeric lived to be a grown man, as has Ramsay.

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Bran,

I do agree with your point on the lack of proper courtesy Lady Dustin shows to Roose when she addresses him. Even in the relationship between Catelyn and her brother, Edmund, Cat is mindful when she doesn't speak to him in accordance with his status:

All you have made certain is that I shall never see my daughters again. Brienne might have gotten him to King's Landing safely ... so long as no one was hunting for them. But now ..." Catelyn could not go on. "Leave me, Edmure." She had no right to command him, here in the castle that would soon be his, yet her tone would brook no argument.

It's difficult to say if Roose would have been upset with Domeric's looks, since Ramsay is no prize catch himself :), unless Roose has a fetish for unblemished skin. But seriously, I do think there's something significant in the fact that Ramsay has his eyes. Roose appears to have chosen Ramsay because of this very trait, and I don't think it was merely because it proved his paternity. And was there another reason the brother-in-law of the miller's wife was so disturbed by those pale eyes? The reason that the word "monster" stood out to me is because it's how Val refers to Gilly's baby boy saved from the others.

... You know nothing, Jon Snow. Val seized his arm. "I want the monster out of there. Him and his wet nurses. You cannot leave them in the same tower as the dead girl ... I brought you Tormund Giantsbane. Bring me my monster."

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How exactly would Roose be sacrificing his son to the Others when the Others are North of the Wall? My impression is that Craster is leaving his sons out and the others come in and take them. Roose would have to take his infant North of the Wall to sacrifice them to the Others. And why would he not have killed Domeric as an infant like all of the other kids he had that passed away?

And, why wouldnt he kill Ramsay too? Ramsay is a son of his. The Others don't seem to care if they are bastards, considering they take everyone of Crasters kids.

I can understand why it would make you think that, but I don't think that it makes sense based on what we know of Crasters sacrifices and the fact that Domeric lived to be a grown man, as has Ramsay.

Well no one has exactly made the claim that Roose is sacrificing to the Others. We're just teasing out the curious connections between Roose's lack of concern for male heirs, and the probability that he is involved in the dark arts.

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There may be a reason for Roose killing his own sons:

His been saying to Theon: "Boy lords are the bane of any house". What does he means by that? Let's observe for a moment major noble houses of Westeros:

  1. Stark - boy-lord Robb - becoming enraged after his father falling from grace (accused as a traitor and later executed) calling the banners, and consequently losing the war and leaving Winterfell to be devastated by enemies
  2. Baratheon - boy-lord Renly - self-enamored fart-of-a-king, who instead of doing a clever strategic design and making a coalition with his older brother Stannis, bringing a downfall of Baratheons at the Blackwater Battle
  3. Lannister - boy-lord Joffrey - do I need to explain his issues any further?
  4. Greyjoy - boy-lord Reek... I mean Theon - doing great wrong to his house - turning all of the North against them, after his idiotic attempt to conquer Winterfell
  5. Martel - boy-lord Qwentyn... I rest my case
  6. Targarien - more-or-less boy-lord Raegar - his affer with Lyana Stark pathed a way for extinction of his entire house

After being accustomed to most of these boy-lord cases, psycho-Roose could just decided, that maybe is better just to rule by himself, without annoying heirs by his side. And when he himself will eventually die, well... valar morghulis.

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Indeed.

Only case I could see is if "Roose" actually gets a kid, kid grows, grows closer to his looks, then "Roose" kills him and assumes the role of his kid, claiming the previous Bolton died and he's the kid.

This could explain why he kept Ramsay but not the other kids ("he has my eyes"), why he told Theon Ramsay would kill all other kids - Roose would, probably -, and why he didn't want to risk killing Ramsay now and having a baby as his heir - by the time his newborn is old enough to look closer to Roose's current apparent age, Roose should be older and wrinkled.

Of course, all this could be ruined in the case where the chosen heir, who has the potential to look like Roose and can be killed with Roose passing for him, dies in his twenties. Which leads me to think this is a very far-fetched theory that is highly unlikely.

So what your saying is Roose somehow takes over his sons vitality or their actual body?Coz i was thinking on this and it seems to me that if other Northern houses can warg why not the Boltons?And warging into other humans is looked on very badly by all other wargs.This seems like just the kind of thing a Bolton would do-warg into his own son over and over again gaining complete control of him as his previous body fails.This goes with Roose being a dark sorcerer.I have no proof but whats a bit of speculation between threads ^_^

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Pretty sure Theon is over 20 in AGOT, thats like an old man in Westeros.

Rhaegar was in his mid 20's, 24 at the Trident.

Renly is a year older than Theon, so he is in his 20's when he goes to war.

Rob - He would have made the same mistake at 40, honor killed him. Plenty of "boy lords" have no problem with a little P in V action.

Martel - Herp Derp duhhhhhh, he would always be ugly so Dany would never be interested.

I think by boy lords, Roose was referring to kids and tweens.

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Well no one has exactly made the claim that Roose is sacrificing to the Others. We're just teasing out the curious connections between Roose's lack of concern for male heirs, and the probability that he is involved in the dark arts.

I think his lack of concern is more him being melancholy over the fact that so many of his trueborn sons dying and he is stuck with Ramsay or a child as hisa heir. I think Roose truly loved Domeric and his death sent Roose over the deep end. A man who feels he has lost everything has nothing to lose.

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It's possible. I just really, really hate the idea of Roose being involved with some kind of supernatural phenomenon regarding his sons. To me, the charm of his character is that he's so in tune with the reality of the world, to the point where he himself has become as cold, cruel and detached as he can possibly be, with this constantly listless outlook despite himself. It would be a shame to see that aspect of his persona taken from him, and instead turned into some kind of psychotic Others-worshiping nihilist. But eh.

I personally love the idea that Roose was lying his ass off around "Reek," for the sole purpose of luring Ramsay into a false sense of security. Filling Theon full of affable lies to report back to Ramsay with is positive, so Roose's ultimate revenge for being robbed of perhaps the one person he's ever truly cared about will be all the more unfathomable to the bastard.

Wishful thinking, perhaps, but Roose is a fascinating enigma.

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I think his lack of concern is more him being melancholy over the fact that so many of his trueborn sons dying and he is stuck with Ramsay or a child as hisa heir. I think Roose truly loved Domeric and his death sent Roose over the deep end. A man who feels he has lost everything has nothing to lose.

:) This is a Roose romanticism for sure. I'm not denying he might have cared for Domeric, although the evidence of that only comes from Roose's mouth, but essentially Roose is cold and callous and tells Theon outright that he wouldn't be too broken hearted if Ramsay kills his trueborn sons by Walda. Roose acts like a man with everything to gain, not one with nothing to lose.

It's possible. I just really, really hate the idea of Roose being involved with some kind of supernatural phenomenon regarding his sons. To me, the charm of his character is that he's so in tune with the reality of the world, to the point where he himself has become as cold, cruel and detached as he can possibly be, with this constantly listless outlook despite himself. It would be a shame to see that aspect of his persona taken from him, and instead turned into some kind of psychotic Others-worshiping nihilist. But eh.

I can see your point, but I do think we have evidence that there are two sides to Roose. One is the calm, cruel and calculating demeanour he shows to the outside world, as at the Red Wedding, and the other is the portrait of a man obsessed with leeching his blood, who spends time reading strange books that he later burns, and who enjoys a relationship with a necromancer.

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:) This is a Roose romanticism for sure. I'm not denying he might have cared for Domeric, although the evidence of that only comes from Roose's mouth, but essentially Roose is cold and callous and tells Theon outright that he wouldn't be too broken hearted if Ramsay kills his trueborn sons by Walda. Roose acts like a man with everything to gain, not one with nothing to lose.

I can see your point, but I do think we have evidence that there are two sides to Roose. One is the calm, cruel and calculating demeanour he shows to the outside world, as at the Red Wedding, and the other is the portrait of a man obsessed with leeching his blood, who spends time reading strange books that he later burns, and who enjoys a relationship with a necromancer.

Right, he says that to Theon because knows that he wont see that son or those sons grow to be men grown. He feels that he will die before that happens and doesnt really like the idea of a child ruling the Dreadfort with some non-Bolton reagent. I think he wants the Lord of the Dreadfort to be a Bolton that has been influenced by him and is going to rule like he would want his lands ruled. I think he realizes Ramsay is a lost cause, but is his best hope at influencing into rulong like he would.

I just dont think Roose really cares anymore, so he is going to raise as much hell and get as much power as he can before he dies. He succeeded in bringing down the Starks and Winterfell, which is something many Boltons have tried in the past. So in that regard he is the most successful Bolton in terms of improving his houses status in the realm.

Remember what GRRM said, no character is truly evil. Roose and Ramsay are included into that...wven though it is tough to think of anything good about Ramsay.

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But Roose is in his late 40s. Why does he think he won't live to see a trueborn child of his reach adulthood? Or then it's just him saying so to Theon due to not having any better explanations for his behaviour.

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I think ( as others do , I'm sure ) that Roose was just planting false info with Theon , expecting it to get back to Ramsay.I think once Roose knew " Arya " had a healthy child , Ramsay would be a marked man.

I think he expects to survive much longer than he lets on..and while he may actually think boy lords are a house's bane in general , a boy lord of Winterfell, guided and instructed by him would probably be a different matter.

ETA : I do wonder, though if Domeric's siblings who died in infancy were subjected to some premature blood purification by leeching ?

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It's difficult to say if Roose would have been upset with Domeric's looks, since Ramsay is no prize catch himself :), unless Roose has a fetish for unblemished skin. But seriously, I do think there's something significant in the fact that Ramsay has his eyes. Roose appears to have chosen Ramsay because of this very trait, and I don't think it was merely because it proved his paternity. And was there another reason the brother-in-law of the miller's wife was so disturbed by those pale eyes? The reason that the word "monster" stood out to me is because it's how Val refers to Gilly's baby boy saved from the others.

It seems to me that you have made a terrific finding with the "monster" thing. Let's look at Roose's tale:

A year later this same wench had the impudence to turn up at the Dreadfort with a squalling, red-faced monster that she claimed was my own get.

The word "monster" is much in use throughout ADwD. But it is used for exactly two babies. One is Ramsay, the other is Craster's son. Here are Val and Jon at the Wall, when Val is about to leave to search for Tormund.

“Only for a time. You will return. For the boy, if for no other reason.”

Craster’s son?” Val shrugged. “He is no kin to me.

“I have heard you singing to him.”

“I was singing to myself. Am I to blame if he listens?” A faint smile brushed her lips. “It makes him laugh. Oh, very well. He is a sweet little monster.”

“Monster?

“His milk name. I had to call him something. See that he stays safe and warm. For his mother’s sake, and mine. And keep him away from the red woman. She knows who he is. She sees things in her fires.”

Arya, he thought, hoping it was so. “Ashes and cinders.”

“Kings and dragons.”

Dragons again. For a moment Jon could almost see them too, coiling in the night, their dark wings outlined against a sea of flame. “If she knew, she would have taken the boy away from us. Dalla’s boy, not your monster. A word in the king’s ear would have been the end of it.” And of me. Stannis would have taken it for treason. “Why let it happen if she knew?”

Note Jon's perplexity when Val calls the baby monster. It's not an affectionate appellation. Jon finds odd to call a baby by such a name.

I conclude that there is a connection between Roose calling young Ramsay a monster and Val naming Gilly's son "Monster".

There are a few more occurrences of the appellation by Val, and Jon. The Mountain clans bring the nurses for the baby (the same mountain clans that practice the first night?):

Old Flint and The Norrey had been given places of high honor just below the dais. Both men had been too old to march with Stannis; they had sent their sons and grandsons in their stead. But they had been quick enough to descend on Castle Black for the wedding. Each had brought a wet nurse to the Wall as well. The Norrey woman was forty, with the biggest breasts Jon Snow had ever seen. The Flint girl was fourteen and flat-chested as a boy, though she did not lack for milk. Between the two of them, the child Val called Monster seemed to be thriving.

and when she came back with Tormund, here is one of the first thing Val said:

“How fares the little monster?”

“Twice as big as when you left us, and thrice as loud. When he wants the teat, you can hear him wail in Eastwatch.”

So Monster is just as squalling as Ramsay was. When she learnt that Monster was close to Selyse, Valla said:

“I can. You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Val seized his arm. “I want the monster out of there. Him and his wet nurses. You cannot leave them in that same tower as the dead girl.”

Jon shook her hand away. “She is not dead.” “She is. Her mother cannot see it. Nor you, it seems. Yet death is there.” She walked away from him, stopped, turned back. “I brought you Tormund Giantsbane. Bring me my monster.”

Note that Val went from "He is not kin to me" to "Bring me my monster".

A few more remarks:

1) Mance says that he met Val and Dalla on his way back from Winterfell. On which side of the Wall was it? Val had Jarl the Climber as a pet then, and she had the means to cross the Wall.

2) I am not the first to notice that Val says "My Lord" of the nobility instead of the "m'lord" used by commoners. That raises questions about her origins.

3) The connection between Ramsay and Craster's son might shed light on the infamous pink letter, supposedly sent by Ramsay, where it is written

I want his little prince, the wildling babe.

That's all for the moment. I hope to come back with more ideas on Brashcandy's finding.

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Bran,

Great job in extending my initial findings :) It does really seem now as though there's a connection, and Gilly's baby remaining at the Wall may be part of Martin's larger design. I'm leaning towards this all having something to do with the Night's King, but I'm still trying to come up with a plausible theory ;)

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