(1874-12-03) Options
Summary: A Lady and two gentlemen discuss music, wine, and sorcery
Date: 03/12/18
Related: Nothing Specific
NPCs: None
Ludovic  Ivo  Chessa  

D'Korbina House - Four Corners
A tall stone wall topped with climbing ivy and soft green moss encircles this modest town house tucked into one of the quiet streets of this bustling, thriving city. A heavy iron gate swings on nearly silent, well-oiled hinges to allow access to the curving cobblestoned drive that arches toward the house. For within these walls is found not just a house within the city, no mere humble abode, but a tidy home for the d'Korbina family when they are within city. Lush gardens edge the drive to either side, terraced in subtle layers to blend one colour after another with working gardens neatly aligned to make the use of available sunlight. A screened in gazebo shelters a fresh water well, the lattice-work walls touched by climbing roses in a soft pastel hue of pink. The drive continues past the front door of the house, leading to the stables and the training salle that often has the armsmen or the knights of the house training at all hours of the day.
Two stories, roomy, but in no sense palatial, the house met the world through a veranda that encircled all sides of it. The smooth walls of stone blocks are so impeccably maintained that in the clear sunlight there is no crumbling stone, no weathered patches. Window panes gleam in the light, shutters cast open during the most amiable of seasonable weather, and a second balcony encircles the upper level with only a single room found just beneath the peaks at the topmost point of the house. Every length of the first floor veranda is furnished with bentwood rockers, wicker armchairs and tables, pleasantly arranged to invite visitors to enjoy the commodious porch and the fine breeze that sometimes stirs the subtle fragrance of the gardens to perfume the air ever so delicately. The second story balcony is equally appointed, though access is limited to the balcony doors along the second level as granted through the upper hall and individual rooms.

Having lured Ivo to the large and fairly opulent d'Korbina townhouse with a promise that the sailor can raid the wine cellar, Ludovic is now sitting on the veranda with his eyes half closed and his feet up on a table that probably cost more than his spurs at least until he put said spurs on said table. He's totally not waiting. Nope. He just happens to be sat outside in early December.

Ivo has gin, and he comes prepared to swap it for wine. Good wine though, not the stuff that Ludovic keeps in his wineskin. Ugh. Still, the d'Armaz is in high spirits as he navigates his way through Four Corners to the d'Korbina townhouse, and remains so as he's guided through to where his host is to be found by one of the guards. "Sorry to intrude," he offers with a friendly smile, "but I just happened to be sailing past and I could swear I heard someone say.. 'wine', so I moored up and came as quickly as I could."

Her feet barely leave any prints behind her, the smallest Sokar being light on her feet as she approaches the town house. Her woollen cloak is fur trimmed and brushes the snow around her feet, further obscuring her passing as she makes her way to the steps of the veranda. She's already mounted them when she notes Ludovic sitting there, and Ivo's words break her reverie. He arms hug a little tighter around the flat case in her arms, and she looks between the two men.

Ludovic is up on his feet and clapping a hand to Ivo's shoulder within a few moments of the other man’s arrival. "Could be anything hidden down there." he tells Ivo with a warm smile. "Might even be some of that imperial stuff that the princeps would ransom half a city for. Doubt it though. I broke a whole shelf of the best stuff about a year ago and besides I’d bet my left eye that Lisbeth would have traded such a thing by now." He starts to move and then spies Chessa across Ivo's shoulder. There’s a wide grin and then he lifts his voice. Just in case she might manage to miss the two knights or successfully escape into the house. "LADY CHESSA! What a Nice Surprise. Come Meet Lord Ivo! Lord d'Armaz this is Lady Chessa Sokar." He gives Chessa a warm smile as he steps back to give both Chessa and Ivo a bit more personal space. "It really is a pleasure to meet you again Lady Chessa."

"Well," Ivo replies as Ludovic speaks of the wines, "I promise that if I do spot anything like that, I will at least tell you, rather than just hide it in my cloak and hope you don't spot it." He then produces, from a fold in his cloak, a bottle of his own and offers it across. "In return for your hospitality I've brought another of the Fiorello gins for you to try. There's a bit more too this one, so be careful with it, but I think you'll like it." As Chessa is introduced he turns, offering a polite nod of his head to the lady before noting with a smile, "we've met before, putting down bandit trouble if memory serves. Well met again m'lady."

There's a little blink at the loud greeting, then a half smirk of self-deprecation before she continues up the steps, inclining her head. "My Lord, it is indeed a pleasure to see you once more. A pleasant surprise, even." When her attention turns to Ivo at Ludovic's introduction, she starts to speak, then nods as Ivo admits they're having met before. Her face may tinge a little green at the reference to how they met before, but she manages a little smile. "Indeed," she agrees.

"Oh?" Ludovic says at the word of bandits, his gaze settling on Chessa with at first curiosity and then a little sympathy. "Well there’s no need to recount horror stories. Will you join us for a while Chessa? I'm sure Ivo would be glad for some company." He half turns to Ivo and reaches to accept the bottle. "Now this seems a good place to start. Shall we sit? I've been enjoying the mild weather." he gestures towards the gazebo. "But there’s food and warmth inside."

Noting Chessa's reaction, Ivo drops the topic as if it had never been raised, asking of her instead, "so, what brings you to the d'Korbinas? I'm here to see if they actually have any decent wine, or if they're just empty boasts. I intend to be thorough too! I'll sample every bottle down there if I have to, to get to the truth.." He flashes a grin then considers the option of warmth. It doesn't take him long before he tilts his head within and says, "I wouldn't say no to a few vittles if that's not imposing too much."

"I -" Chessa begins as she invited to join them, and then looks at Ivo as he accepts the food offer. She pauses and begins again, "I was here to meet Lady Elodie to rehearse our flute parts for the upcoming recitals at the Academy…" she trails off, then lifts her shoulders in a very peasant shrug. "I do not suppose that it would hurt to join you for a little something while I wait for the servant to let her know I've arrived."

"She can always join us." Ludovic says in that typical short-sighted way. Why would anyone not want to spend time with him? "I don't think Vittles will be a problem." he tells Ivo with amusement, waving for them both to head inside. "Can never quite decide if I want to stay in Four Corners or leave as quickly as possible." a grin to Ivo. "You feel similar?" and then a smile to Chessa. "You mostly live here though right? So I’m guessing you prefer it to anywhere else?"

Ivo seems content to lead the way inside, and once there is a roof over his head he shrugs out of the heavy cloak he's been wearing and passes it off to a passing servant for safe keeping. "A musician as well as an archer," he notes to Chessa. When do you perform?" Then, to Ludovic "I tend mostly to be passing through it," he remarks, "on the way to sea it's the last main port we pass before we're into the ocean proper so there's generally mixed feelings. Homeward bound though.." he smiles broadly, "well, then she's always a fine sight for sore eyes. With Fiorello being so close though, I don't ever tend to stay long."

As she follows inside, she hands off her cloak to the servant as well, managing to keep her case held close as she does. "More of a musician than an archer," she replies quietly, with the tiniest bit of pink at the top of her cheekbones. "We are set to perform the winter concert a fortnight hence, and we're first and second chair. Must be on our best form." Turning her sidhe-like gaze back to Ludovic, she gives him a faint smile. "It's been more comfortable for me here, away from the attentions of the more zealous followers of The One that you tend to find out in the countrysides."

"Shame I’m going to miss it." Ludovic comments to Chessa as he walks his way into the dayroom and takes over one of the armchairs. "But duty calls and all that." He looks to Ivo. "Think you'll be going?" Then it’s back to Chessa. "huh. Thought Galenthia was supposed to be a pinnacle of tolerance and all that." There’s only a tiny bit of sarcasm in that.

"I am not sure exactly where I'll be then," Ivo admits openly, "but should I be in the vicinity then I might well go. Most of the musical entertainment I get is listening to the sailors and their close part disharmony as they work. There are a few good voices in the crew, but the rest of them possess far more enthusiasm than talent." Waiting for Chessa to choose a seat before taking one himself he adds with amusement, "not that I could manage any better mind. I appreciate musicians, and musicians appreciate me not trying to join in."

Chessa looks back over her shoulder towards the hallway and the stairs as if she expects Elodie to materialize before the servant even makes it up to her room, then follows the men. She finds an armchair and sets her case on her knees. "Sailors do have their own harmony," she agrees with a slight grin, then exhales. "Well, certainly a bit more so than other places that could be mentioned, but it is mostly among the nobles; those like my cousin Dertan and others. Many of the peasants cling to The One in certain areas."

"Well that’s good to know" Ludovic comments. "The way you'd hear some people tell it the whole country is a nest of sin and debauchery." He shifts and reaches a hand out and Faith, his elementi, goes over and sits against his knee. He looks to Ivo. "My men are much the same. They have some songs that just make you cringe right down to your boots. Until you've had a few anyhows." Looking back to Chessa he adds. "You'll have to let me know next time you are performing and I’m in town. I'd like to hear it."

"One song, three tunes, five tempos, seventeen keys," Ivo notes to Chessa, "and that's if we're lucky." Settling himself down into a third chair he flicks his gaze to the elementi for a moment then away again as the beast is recognised. "It is sadly often the case," he then starts, "that the beliefs of the peasantry can be too easily stirred up, or unduly influenced, by even a mediocre orator. Given them several generations of the same message and it becomes ingrained. Individuals can be reasoned with, but the masses?" He shakes his head silently, letting that be the answer to his own question. Then, since they're settled, he turns back to Ludovic and asks, "so, what delights does your cellar have in store? So I know how best to compliment the drink with those vittles."

"Outside of Four Corners, commoners need something to make them feel better about their lot in life. Telling them that there's a being that regards them as equal to the nobles that rule their lives and will reward them with all they've dreamed of is appealing," Chessa offers mildly. "It's an easy enough message for even a most mediocre of speakers to sell. Literally," and it's her turn to infuse some sarcasm into her voice. Then she exhales, and gives a grin to Ivo, "you have indeed been lucky if it's only seventeen tunes for one song."

Ludovic goes to answer the commoner debate, pauses and then just gives them all a wry look. "In my experience. Talking of the rights of commoners is a dangerous subject. You've either the soft-hearted blind do-gooders who think that giving them power and influence is a good thing. The same people who usually describe that as freedom even though we all know that there is no such thing as the freedom they hold up as their goal for any man, woman or child in existence. Or you have those who think they should be kept in a position from which they are least capable of doing harm by accident, for its a rare thing that they mean what happens to happen. Or you've the middle ground which varies by country to country. And given that we're in four corners.. well.. that middle ground is frighteningly close to the 'freedom' argument. It’s just not worth going there." As he speaks the servant comes in with a silver edged tray for each of them that bears small cakes, a small pot of kaffe with milk and sugar in a separate pot and a pair of small glasses. A little bit later another servant comes in with a bottle of wine that has all the signs of having been in storage for a long time and carefully uncorks it for them all. "Wine my Lady?" He asks softly before asking the same of Ivo and finally Ludovic. Ludovic just nods and then turns to Ivo. "I'm assured you'll actually like this one."

"The lads with a voice can usually sway those around them to their tune," Ivo notes to Chessa, "sadly not always their key, but one can't ask too much. Had a chippie a few years back who made a fiddle or two with some off-cuts in his spare time. He was about as good a player as the lads are singers, but it did help with keeping people in time at least." As the trays arrive he considers the kaffe for a moment, but then discards it for the wine. "Please," he replies, eyeing the bottle ask it's presented. Once he has his glass in hand he swirls the wine slightly then sniffs it, pausing to consider for a moment before declaring, "an interesting bouquet. There's a hint of something I can't quite place, a mountain grape perhaps?"

Chessa is about to accept the offer of wine when Elodie shows up at the doorway and smiles to her. "There you are, Lady Chessa. I hope I haven't left you at the mercy of my cousin for too long," she greets, sending a teasingly chiding look to Ludovic. "He ever thinks that we are all here to be his audience… and of course is never present to be mine…" the look turns to a mock pout to the man, and then she inclines her head to Ivo. "Greetings, Sir. I hope you do not mind me taking the Lady away."
Chessa shakes her head to Elodie and rises, her case once more hugged to her chest. "I have managed to survive, but I'm not sure I could have held on much longer. Your timing is perfect," she smiles to the other women before inclining her head to the two men. "If you will excuse me, my lords? Have a pleasant day." She waits for Elodie to lead the way out before she follows.

"What?" Ludovic gives Chessa a quick grin. "You mean it’s not true?" He moves to his feet with good grace, and manners, to give her a formal goodbye. "Hope your day is warm and bright Chessa." He waits for them to properly move to exit, before returning to his seat and looking back to Ivo. "You're asking the wrong man." Ludovic says. "All I know is that it’s from.." He leans to pick up the bottle and squints at the label for several long moments. "House d'Figgi." He puts the bottle back. "So a d'Juliano vintage. Which makes it good right?" He grins. "Don’t worry. I know it’s to fine for snacks. Just don’t know what the point of all this is if you can't be extragavent sometimes."

Ivo rises to his feet as Elodie appears, offering a polite smile to both ladies as they depart to their practice. "Of course, my lady. Who are we simple knights to stand in the way of such artists." As they leave he settles into his chair again and takes a sip of the wine, letting it hit his taste buds as he listens to its origins. "d'Figgi," he repeats, "an unusual one for them, it fuses bright cilantro elements with a playful mesquite aftertaste." He seems to like it though, for after a moment's careful consideration he selects a cake to go with it, and has some more. "It's true, the d'Juliano do have some fine vintners," then, after a moment's pause and a wry smile, "not as good as my uncle's of course you understand, but good enough."

"Thought of serving a d’Armaz vintage." Ludovic admits. "But I figured it would taste like politics. Besides, if there’s any wine you already have, it’s your uncles." He glances at the door, sighs and then leans back in his chair, adopting a posture more appropriate to a tavern than a noble’s greeting room. "Just how big an apology do I owe her?"

"I do have easy access to them" Ivo agrees, "well, most of them. There are a few bottles in the family cellar that I can't just help myself too." The cake vanishes swiftly but the wine is savoured, even if he doesn't inflict Ludovic to a running commentary of the flavours and textures as he goes. Able to relax a little more now they're alone once more he looks across at the question, then to the door. "My cousin, or the Lady Chessa? I wouldn't overly concern yourself about missing the recital, but Myrana? Hmm. I'm sorry, I do not know my cousin's mind so well as to be able to answer that for you."

Ludovic ends up looking at Ivo with a surprised wariness "I owe Myrana an apology? Why?" He blinks and purposefully relaxes back into his seat. "I meant Chessa. Figured I was short with her just now."

Ivo considers, briefly, trying to see how long he can string Ludovic along for, but in the end decides to play nice and shakes his head slightly. "Not that I'm aware of, but I'll confess I wasn't sure who you meant, so decided to hedge my bets in case I had missed something. One thing I've found of late is that there are times that people think I know a lot more than I do. It has it's uses mind, but I do end up having to be careful sometimes so as not to sound ignorant."

"Sounding ignorant isn’t so bad." Ludovic tells Ivo. "Me and Myrana. We've had our moments. You know we're technically due a duel? Just didn’t think I'd done anything to deserve it lately." He pauses, grins and then says. "Think we both were to blame for that duel." He reaches for his own wine and takes a swig of it. No appreciation. "When I get home I'm going to be heading out to fight again. The qatunax are distracted. Can’t imagine there’s a better time to hurt them. Can't say I’m really looking forward to it either."

Ivo suppresses a flinch as Ludovic just swigs the wine, but refuses to let it distract him from the conversation at hand. "I am aware," he notes with a faint nod, "although no one who's ever mentioned it to me has ever had the same story as to why as anyone else." He seems faintly amused by that and starts to consider another cake before the conversation turns to war again. "A winter campaign? Daring. I suspect I'll be patrolling the river for a while. We're not anticipating much trouble, but it's a better job til spring than heading out into open water. I may even be able to spend some weeks ashore if it's quiet enough and there's nothing needing my personal attention."

"I don't really remember either." Ludovic tells Ivo with a quick grin. "Remember saying I couldn’t tell Myrana to go away, her telling me I could and then everything getting messy when I did." Another sheepish grin. "Course she didn’t get really upset until I grabbed her." He nods. "Not too daring. I'm only raiding really… raiding.. reaving.. whatever word you want to use. The weathers a bit of a gamble but it should make it harder for them to retaliate and it will increase the damage we do." a nod. "But I’m gonna need my bearskin for sure." He nods. "Doubt protecting the rivers has ever been more important what with the white hallers and all. Like me they probably see winter as much as an opportunity as a hazard." He sighs. "Thing is. The qatunax are fighting another qatunax clan right now and I’ve heard the winner gets both at the end. I figure me distracting our qatunax can’t hurt. Well I suppose it could." he shrugs. "But mostly I want to try and take out Tavat. I'm pretty sure he'll fight me if I demand it. One of the few things I've learned about the qatunax is that they respect that sort of challenge. Least.. they seem to."

"That’s tamer than most version doing the rounds," Ivo notes with another sip of his wine, "but then, such is often the way with these things. They do have a habit of growing with the telling." A few of the more ludicrous slip through he his mind, and he can't help but grin a little before he nods to the explanation of the planned actions. "Are you pretty sure you'll win?" he asks, tone more serious, "undermining him by raiding while he's busy elsewhere is one thing, but an all-out challenge is something else entirely." Not that he's a qatunax expert mind. "And the rivers are certainly going to be interesting further north. We should be alright, and we have Four Corners as a buffer, although should they come under sustained assault we'll obvious go help rather than risk our enemies taking the ground instead. I suspect though the greater risk would be if we're called to sail north to support the others. That's not only a sail through open waters in winter storms, but through what is effectively enemy territory. That sort of job I'm hoping we can leave to the King's navy."

"Well.. like I said. I don't really remember what happened." Ludovic says. "I was surrounded by soldiers and my head wasn't really clear. I've a vague memory of suggesting she'd be more agreeable if I took my shirt off?" A pause and a nod. "Yeah. The risk is that they'll come up the rivers next year. Even if they only raid it’s going to be hitting places that don’t have much experience of being raided that way. I've no infrastructure in place to deal with riverborn raiders I know." He's silent as Ivo goes and picks right at the part that he was wanting to talk about. Almost looking relieved that he doesn't have to beat around the bush more to get there. "Fought him once before." he explains. "I don’t think it’s hopeless."

Ivo opens his mouth to say something about the shirt comment again, but words fail him and he's stuck there for a moment or two before he blinks once and vows to never mention that to Myrana. Instead he kicks his brain back into focus regarding military matters and frowns in thought a moment. There's a suspicion forming in the back of his head and he isn't sure if he likes it or not. "You don't think it's hopeless," he repeats slowly, carefully, "that's not a ringing endorsement of the plan. Are you thinking of using your.. gift? You mentioned about trying to find a task undeniably advantageous enough to keep the Inquisition off your back. Do you think this is it?"

"I doubt I could use my gift in a fair fight without getting my head removed." Ludovic says honestly. "Maybe if I was thinking to assassinate him but lets face it. I've not got the mindset to do that. So unless you think Lady Arbiter counts then no, I don’t think so. I would if I knew how to fight with it but I just don’t." Again there is that telling silence before he asks. "Can you think of a better way to do something worthwhile before the inquisition comes down on my families head? People were right, coming out as a sorcerer was a stupid idea, but I know I’m not going to be able to hide much longer."

"Aah," Ivo replies, his brow remaining in a frown, "so this is a death or glory plan." He's not sure how he feels about that, so works hard to keep his tone as neutral as he can. "There are easier ways to commit suicide of course, but I suppose if you're at the point where it's only a matter of time then finding a meaningful opportunity is more worthwhile." The idea troubles him, that much is clear as he asks, "do you have the opportunity to learn? To fight with it that is, or are they at your heals already?"

Ludovic says, "A few months ago I duelled Darius right here outside the gates. Darius tripped me into using my sorcery to defend myself. The city sent men to smash up this place." he gestures a hand around the room. "A message I’m sure." Ludovic takes a moment to take another drink of his wine. It’s no wonder he usually just drinks plonk. "Anyway. The inquisition took up shop a day or two later. I've no idea how close they are to actually doing something about me. I'm not even sure they will. Everything’s just a guess." He gets to his feet, cup in hand, and goes across to lean against the mantle of the fireplace. "Was kinda hoping you'd tell me I’m being an idiot and point out some incredibly obvious way out that I'd missed.""

"You could join the Empire," Ivo says deadpan, but his expression should hopefully indicate the disdain he has for the very idea, "it'd save your life most likely." He drinks more, not as carefully as he should given the grape, but this isn't the kind of conversation for delicate sips. "Shave your beard, ditch the eyeball and wear a patch instead, stow away belowdecks on a ship and learn to be a sailor. You’d have to get used to being away from land, so perhaps one of the river-traders rather than something ocean going? Or find a sorcerer you don't like and try and pin it all on them instead, let them take the fall in your place." Not that he's actually seriously suggesting that last one either, and he watches Ludovic carefully to observe his reaction to it, make sure he's read the man right. "How did Darius know though?"

"Yeah I thought about that. I even raised the idea to the archduchess once." Ludovic turns a little so that he can better see Ivo. "They've promised me a place and all but to do that I've got to break every oath I ever made. Sure, I might end up beyond where the inquisition can easily touch me, and I've been promised status if I do it, but I just can't. I'd be the very thing I despise most. A man who's run away to save his own skin." The become a sailor suggestion makes his dour expression break into a brief smile. "Thought about that too. Well, not the sailing part. But I'm sure there’s a whole bunch of mercenary organisations that would be more than happy to take me." He just shakes his head about the idea of pinning it on someone else. "It’s the purge I’m afraid of Ivo. I don’t care if the inquisition strings me up. I'm afraid for my family; my son and my new daughter, my men and they could take d'Korbina down. A line that’s been in daemon's hall for hundreds of years. Gone just because I got this curse and didn't hand myself in." he frowns. "I won’t commit suicide either. I refuse to sell my life that cheaply."

"Turn yourself in then," Ivo says, although he's mostly just testing to see what reactions he gets in an effort to cut through what Ludovic is saying to his convictions beneath. "If they'll come for your family because you didn't turn yourself in, then turn yourself in. If it was a purge you feared then why didn't you in the first place? Perhaps because you know it won't make a difference? If, and I still say if you're exposed, then things will get rough, but do you honestly think there is anyway round that? There's a lot of words that could be said, scenarios that could be proposed, but the fundamentals are fairly simple." He takes a drink to wet his throat more than anything. "One: turn yourself in. You get burnt at the stake, your family gets inqusitited, no one benefits. Two: go on some fools quest for glory. You might die, in which case problem solved. If you don't die, you at least buy yourself a little time as they'll not want to move openly on a hero fresh from victory. Three: bluff it out. They might know, they might not. If the former you're dead at the stake again but if they don't then you keep your head down and do what you can to go back into hiding your abilities. Four: run away. Find somewhere they can't reach you. Betray everything you stand for in the hope you can live long enough to convince others that your sorcery isn't evil, that other sorcerers aren't inherently evil, that the inquisition is wrong. No one else can make your decision for you, it's one of those that defines who you are. Who you can live with yourself being. What you care most about. I can't offer you a clever way out, there might be clever ways to impliment whichever decision you make, but the choices are stark."

"It’s good to know I didn’t miss anything." Ludovic says slowly. "Much as I might have hoped I had missed something." He goes quiet again then looks to Ivo. "I'm real grateful you let me get this off my chest Ivo. I know just knowing that is more of a burden than you deserved to be given. I'm grateful though. I couldn’t have said anything like that to anyone that loves me without them getting overwrought. You know I almost handed myself into the inquisition after that duel?" He steps away from the fireplace and sits himself down on the arm of his chair. "But my wife and Myrana ganged up on me." He sighs a little. "Not sure how Darius worked it out. Maybe he had spies. Maybe it was that time I lost my temper. Properly lost my temper."

"If an option five occurs I'll let you know, but I can't suggest that you hold your breath," Ivo replies, draining the rest of his drink. "You should probably run it past my cousin though. She won't like it, but if anyone is likely to come up with something we haven't thought of then it's her." Setting his glass down he pushes himself gently to his feet. "Imperial spies are an entirely different matter," he starts, "so let’s not get ourselves side-tracked into an entirely new rabbit hole of conversation. As long as it's mundane means, and not a trick his sorcerers have picked up. For now though, I suspect our best bet for not dwelling too deeply on it is to go get royally drunk somewhere. I'd suggest a tavern, for the option of a fight later, but then you did mention that you had some more decent bottles in your cellar, and it would be a shame not to be able to confirm that for you before you head back upriver."

"No not a trick. I'm pretty sure it was that time I broke the chimney when he was goading me." Ludovic says "During the duel he was testing me, doing things that I couldn't defend against without either sorcery or acrobatics, and I’m no acrobat." He smiles and moves back up to his feet. "Getting too drunk to stand always did cheer me up."

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