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The challenging waters that divided the continents of this world were magnificent, providing a world-weary recluse with revelation after revelation of the good he could extract from the horrific entry he did little to prevent. Heron stood at the forward of the vessel, letting the mist of the open sea and the wind caused by how quickly his vessel was navigating through the waters caress his face. He felt a bit bad for having leveraged his key contribution to the end of the Ceyana incident to steal this expedition out of Luz’s hands, leaving her to deal with an Orisian myth while he navigated through waters in search of marvels worthy of study. For an old man, by Illyrian standards, being one of the first Illyrians to travel outside of Orisia other than his Light was an honor he would gladly smile about when death snuffed him out of existence.

Those who had joined Heron on this expedition were being meticulously scrutinized by a group of well-equipped soldiers that prevented their access to the forward of the ship. Though they had all been instructed to keep their distance from the non-Illyrian entrants, every movement that was made would be analyzed to see if it held malicious intent or mischief. Unlike the leader of this expedition, the crew did not possess the necessary demeanor to make everyone feel comfortable. They were on edge…concerned and just plain uncomfortable with having to deal with strangers. Luckily they would eventually keep themselves busy with the vessel’s maintenance, leaving those who intended to participate to roam around anywhere on the deck for a good while except for the area Heron stood.

The vessel they were on had several embedded crystals that housed several channels of magical energy that seemed to power most of the ship for those with enough experience with magitech to decipher its structure. It cut through the waters without remorse unfazed by crashing waves even as the waters became choppy along the way. Now several miles away from Illyrian shores, Heron thought it best to gauge what this world of Valucre decided to offer him in terms of aid.

Several minutes would pass before the gruff old man would emerge, draped in black robes that held several insignias that vibrated and glowed. A smile was painted on the man’s face, never waivering and clearly providing contrast to the serious expressions that were frozen on to his fellow countrymen and women. Heron inhaled deeply

“Mmmm….this is going to be a wonderful trip. Don’t you all agree?”

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Asura packed her things, readying herself for the upcoming expedition. The new scientist had spend hours running the journey through the mind, trying to mentally prepare herself for her first big trial. With most veteran scientist treating her as nothing more than a janitor to clean equipment, she was happy to be given a chance to prove herself. With everything ready and packaged, she armed herself ready for a fight. Despite her dislike of violence, the halfling was always ready to defend herself.

“Toothbrush, journal, analyser, flamethrowers, spare socks and wellies. All ready!”  She put on the backpack and head toward the door. Turning off all the lights and locking the door behind herself, she made her way out of the apartment block and towards the meeting point.

~~~

Standing behind Heron, she stared out at the vast waters that crashed against the docks. She has very rarely been given opportunities to visit the oceans, work always called and seemingly never rested. She'd always loved sea life, having wanted to explore the deeps. Trying to ignore the rather hostile soldiers, Asura watched the various vessels enter and leave. Tech at its finest.

On 7/24/2019 at 10:00 PM, Dolor Aeternum said:

“Mmmm….this is going to be a wonderful trip. Don’t you all agree?”

“I’m sure it will be, just hoping we discover something worthwhile.”

Edited by Rabbit

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54731588_267662397501234_428397714832427667_n.jpg?_nc_ht=scontent-yyz1-1.cdninstagram.comLINDA LINDA THE EXPLORER

The white-haired woman should have figured it out by now. She would have to venture Amalia someday. It was one of the more interesting places within her bucket list after all. Not to mention, she might have some history within that land if her deductions would hold true.

The land of midg -of vertically handicapped humanoids that supposedly worship this questionable Ginger god. The only ginger that comes to her mind was someone very familiar to her. A man she had worked with way back in the past. Someone close to her. Someone she had first met in Tia.

Perhaps venturing into Amalia would shed light on these assumption of hers. Or it could very well put her in a very dangerous situation. She still carried a lot of burden from her past, most of them too heavy for a delicate woman like her. For now, she could only hope for the best.

Shaking away these wayward thoughts of hers, the woman turned her attention to the ship and its crew. Illyrians, the lot of them. She had been in contact with these people in the past, namely that debacle with Ceyana. Now that she started reminiscing, those were some good times. Fighting monsters, saving civilians and even tangling with a supposed god! Fun times.

When the old man finally emerged and addressed all of them, Linda Linda acknowledged his presence with a slight nod.

Yes. Looking forward to this 'wonderful' trip.

 

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Abe tumbled out onto the main deck in a mass of flailing limbs and swirling, ivory hair. He stood up quickly, stealing embarrassed glances at the nearby crew, and hoping that they didn't notice. They did. If it weren't for his dark-sand colored skin they would have caught his flushed face as well. It was one small perk his Ziq heritage afforded him. 

The embarrassment was quickly replaced by a familiar sense of dangerously calming minuteness when greeted by the sea around him. He pulled his cloak tighter against the wind unconsciously. Open ocean never changes. The sentimentality was a soothing respite from the personality-shattering culture shock he had recently endured. A wide smile lounged itself across his face. 

The soldiers' presence was also a comfort, in a wearily resigning kind of way. They were further proof that some things cannot change, regardless of which dimension one calls home. While they seemed suspicious of the non-Illyrian passengers, they tended to glance a second longer at Abe's visage. Even without the Soulbrand visible, it was clear from his demeanor that he wasn't from around here. Though, he gathered, neither were they. 

Weeks ago he found himself within the walls of yet another unfamiliar city; one that was rumored to have come from another dimension. When the call went out that the Illyrians were looking for people to aid in an expedition, it was only natural that he invite himself along.

Now that he was out on the deck of the expedition's ship, surrounded by such a curious assortment of individuals, he couldn't help but allow his interests to broaden and wander. He took careful stock of aa many of his traveling companions as he could, excluding the droves of indistinguishable uniforms that separated them from most of the other Illyrian stock onboard. 

Abe's thoughts were snatched from him by the sudden, deafening silence. He turned his golden amber eyes toward the smaller elderly man approaching from the bow. Interesting. The soldiers parted briefly, the first time they had done so in what seemed like forever, to let the old man through. Abe could not help but be somewhat comforted by his even demeanor. 

"Yes, I believe it will be quite illuminating for all of us."

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Heron looked at Asura warmly as they made their way over to the rest of the group. For an Illyrian with so much history behind him, the youth of the following generations held a special place for him that urged him toward kindness. Asura was just a young scientist with a promise he hoped his Light would benefit from. He could sense that eagerness inside of her and an enthusiasm that was much needed for these dark times.

Heron turned to look at the rest of the group, stopping on one in particular as he sensed an aura of familiarity but he couldn’t quite grasp what that might be. In the end he just smiled at Linda, then moved on to look at Abe. A different sensation washed over him this time but nothing that was concerning. There was a kindred feeling of being out of place within such vastness that caused him to without hesitation voice his intrigue.

“Hmm…welcome”

The elderly Illyrian shifted to distance himself from the entire group and seemed poised to say something else but a muscular Illyrian soldier walked toward him which delayed the upcoming words.

“Director Heron…”

A beckoning hand directed the man forward until he came up inches away. The tall soldier had to bend downward to whisper the next few sentences into his superior’s ears. A series of nods and then an even larger smile than what had been offered to the group would be seen before Heron turned to address everyone.

“Thank you all for deciding to aid me and my people in what I hope will be beneficial for everyone. This will mark the first time any Illyrian has ventured outside of the waters of Genesaris. There have been rumors of an island that glows in the dark and is inhabited by beings of considerably short stature that seem to govern themselves much like Illyria had in the past. There are a few facets to this expedition that I would like specified. First and foremost, we are here to collect samples of all viable specimens to take back to the Illyrian Scientific Division.”

Heron paced around as he spoke, moving his hands around in a variety of ways to emphasize his words, his voice calm and tempered with a tinge of excitement.

“A secondary task will be to establish some sort of agreement with the inhabitants of the island for any resources they are willing to share. I am officially the spokesman for our eccentric gathering here but if anyone here has any diplomatic experience then let yourself be heard. Otherwise I will assume you will be here to take care of any violent occurrences or offer your hands in labor. We are closing in on the island in the next hour or so. Any concerns should be voiced now.”

Heron extended a hand with an open palm to give the rest of them the floor to respond, using his other hand to stroke his grayish beard for a moment before resting it at his side.

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Asura stood before Heron, who seemed to hold a kind aura. Beyond his high status, she knew little about her elder. He was her superior, that was enough. The young scientist stood beside a white hair girl with yellow eyes, as well as the clumsy ivory haired male. She readied herself for the introduction, excited to hear about the project. He took a few steps back, a solider walked by before he could even start and whispered something into his ear. A few back and forths occurred before the soldier returned, leaving Heron to continue.

On 8/1/2019 at 5:58 PM, Dolor Aeternum said:

First and foremost, we are here to collect samples of all viable specimens to take back to the Illyrian Scientific Division.”

'specimens? Hmm, I'm liking the sound of this.'

Asura had always enjoyed studying various creatures, learning about biological factors and their behavior. The chance to study new ones outside of her usual territory only excited the young scientist even more, curious about the inhabitants and what they might be like. A self governing island that glows in the dark and holds little people, sounds like an underground city of gnomes. Tho excited, she was thankful not to be the spokesperson. She wasn't even sure what language they spoke, or if they spoke at all.

On 8/1/2019 at 5:58 PM, Dolor Aeternum said:

"Any concerns should be voiced now.”

"Yes, just one. Do we have any more info on the environment and its inhabitants or just those basics mentioned before?" 

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Abe stood and watched in wonder as the small old man comanded the attention of the entire ship. Where he was from, there were very few who were able to hold the attention of such a tense group of strangers. At one point, in another life, Abe had been one of those people. Seeing Director Heron stand where he would have stood sent a curious pang of rage shooting up his spine. 

The emotion was fleeting as, once again, Abe had to remind himself that it wasn't him in those memories. In fact, he doubted that his will mattered at all back then. Regardless, he began to tale a closer look at the unique spread of adventurers onboard the ship. 

One of them in particular caught his attention. She looked almost Ziq herself, save for her fair skin. Still, the resemblance to his own people was shocking. Abe made a note to himself to speak with her about it later.  

The smaller, more excited looking woman, was also familiar to him. Again, he took a mental note of the existence of halflings on this plane. The way she was regarded by Director Heron, as well as previously by the various guards on the ship, suggested that she may be Illyrian herself. Again, it was something to return to later. 

Abe listened attentively as the Director addressed the group for the first time. He could not help but feel a slight, comforting kinship between them. The task itself was simple enough, it was more or less what Abe had been doing since he arrived on Valucre, with the exception of harvesting specimens. His home was nowhere near this advanced technologically, and he had no clue how he would go about this testing. Regardless, Abe sat back on his heels in the safety that he would most likely function as a deterrent on this trip anyway. 

When the time came for questions, Abe let the other two speak before raising his own voice. 

"Director, you said that we are going to attempt a peaceful arrangement with the native population. What should we do if that is not possible? Not that I would be much help in the negotiations, but I would like to avoid active conflict with these strangers if possible."

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Heron was appreciative of the enthusiasm he could sense off of Asura, restoring a little bit of hope that those of her generation would continue to fuel the ambition of Illyria’s brightest minds. Heron’s face brightened up a bit once Asura decided to chime in with a question of her own, taking it as a sign of attentiveness as well as a desire to be prepared. All good qualities of someone he could recommend on future expeditions.

“..Do we have any more info on the environment and its inhabitants or just those basics mentioned before?”

“Excellent question. For the most part we have gathered they are a peaceful sort but do hold quite a few things sacred so it is best to give them some ample space and time to assess us. As for the environment, we have no real details other than that there is a large mountain where these small people reside and several gardens, one of which houses the glowing crystals you can see in the distance as we approach. That is all our preliminary data and research has given us at this time though.”

Heron turned to Abe soon after, the pacifist nature of the man’s words reminding him briefly of the warning his Light had offered him before he had departed. This same warning was what was given in response.

“Any Illyrian representative will avoid participating in or influencing any conflict with the native population of where they visit. This is not a mission to conquer their lands, but to gather information about this realm that is new to many of us. That being said, coaxing them to aid us in our expedition will just make things that much easier for us which is why I will be spearheading any potential negotiations while you will be assisting us with collection and/or protection. That answer satisfactory enough for you?”

Heron smiled while turning to look in the distance at a glowing island. The A.R.V.’s own glow paled in comparison to the collective light of the trees in the distance and that distracted the Illyrian elder for some moments before he’d speak again.

“I urge everyone to take some time to rest until sunrise once we reach land. There are some rooms in the lower level of this vessel that should suffice. We will be leaving first thing tomorrow toward the base of that tall mountain over there”

Heron couldn’t hold back his own excitement in his tone. He’d wait to see if there was any more dialogue he’d need to be a part of but if not he’d retire for the evening and leave the wary Illyrians to usher those in need of it.

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With the questions answered, Asura was satisfied with the info. She gave a quick nod to Heron before wandering off to the ship, in search of a room. With knowledge that the tribals were mostly peaceful she could rest easy, but she'd still have to be cautious with her approach. Even the most peaceful groups can turn hostile over the simplest things, Illyrian was a perfect example. Whether it be religion, history or fear of the future. All held some prejudice. Asura eventually found her way downstairs, picking a random empty room to settle in.

"Home sweet home for now, I guess." 

She threw her bag in the corner, grabbed some pre-packed food and relaxed for the evening. She took a few basic notes on what Heron had told the group, pondering on what she could expect from this newly found land. She was hoping for biological samples, primarily flora. Maybe discover some new ores, or even crystals. With everything done, she lay her head on the pillow and called it there.

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54731588_267662397501234_428397714832427667_n.jpg?_nc_ht=scontent-yyz1-1.cdninstagram.comLINDA LINDA THE EXPLORER

She was quiet through the whole ordeal. One could not blame her as she was wrapped within her own thoughts. Thankfully the sudden spark of conversation brought her out of her reverie. 

In her mind were fragmented memories of old. Her master, Lord Suzy, had once been to the island as a traveler but that was ages ago. Sharp as her master had been, age had always been the old man's downfall. Bits and pieces of things the old man had experience flitted in and out of Linda's thoughts. This is why she must venture to Amalia herself. Nothing beats seeing the real thing in person.

That said, she found it prudent to retire early for the night. Bidding everyone leave, she walked to her own sleeping quarters. Her pack was settled on the corner while her coat was thrown at the sole chair that the ship graciously provided.

Now on her bed and with a lighted cigar on her lips, Linda went through the whole agonizing process of checking and rechecking all the equipment she had brought for the expedition.

"I hope all this would be enough."

 

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Abe nodded along attentively as Heron addressed his inquiry. 

Yes, I understand. Thank you. 

Abe took a moment to collect his thoughts as the group was dismissed. The answer had been satisfactory, though he could not stifle the nagging suspicion that there was a larger goal to their expedition. He watched as the group parted, each more interested in their own endeavours moving forward. 

He understood their apprehension more than most. The rumors he had heard, as well as the familiarity he felt from Her on, reinforced the story that they had come from somewhere else. It wasn't too long ago that Abe found himself ass-over-tea kettle in the middle of some jungle. 

There was a comforting sense of trepidation as he approached the rear of the ship. In the light of the setting sun, it almost felt like he was home again. The crackling anxiety emanating from the guards aboard the ship also helped ease some of his own worries. Soldiers will always be soldiers. 

He stared out at the horizon, growing ever more distant as the ship continued onward, until the sun finally set. There was a storm brewing in the east. Abe closed his eyes. Behind his eyelids he could see himself in the center of the storm. He remembered the power; raising oceans and splintering mountains.

Colors once present in the world had left him. It was a stark reminder of his place in the events that had transpired in his past life. For the first time since he had arrived on Valucre, Abe found himself questioning his desire to return home. He shook the thoughts from his head and made his way belowdeck to his quarters. He unfolded a small arc of light between his index finger and thumb as he reached the edges of the common areas. For all of his talents, he could not see in the dark. Sleep found him quickly. For yet another night, Abe was thrust back into war. 

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Heron rested soundly. Even though he was thrust into an unfamiliar world, he quickly found it was much better than the calamity he had endured for centuries long ago so sleep was a luxury he easily relished in nowadays. Even so, he was one of the first to rise. Garbed in Illyrian robes that had several symbols stitched into the peculiar weave, he stepped out on to the sand along this shore, a ramp extending from the A.R.V to the sandy floor allowing anyone a clear path on to land. Those that rose would find Heron staring at the mountain in the distance, clearly waiting for everyone to gather.

Some of the soldiers stayed on board to man the vessel and protect it while others touched land. Decorated in black and white magiweave, they all held varying types of trinkets in their hand. There was no visible weaponry but for those familiar with magic they would probably be able to decipher that those trinkets were foci and that this unit was comprised hopefully of accomplished mages. One specific Illyrian soldier moved around with a tablet, mapping the area meticulously with several markers. Many eyes scanned the perimeter as they circled Heron, providing enough space for all of the group members to approach him should they desire to.

Once everyone convened, Heron spoke rather briefly this time.

“Good morning everyone. As stated last night, we are heading over to Mt. Ichthys there. I expect we will stop a few times along the way to gather samples. I ask that you all remain vigilant for we do not want to miss cataloging anything we find.”

Heron turned and began walking forward, the Illyrians that circled him moving in tandem while keeping a strict circle formation. It wouldn’t be long before they were deep into the beginnings of a vast jungle. The sounds of the animals that called this place home slid through the tall trees. The tree canopy above them shielded the visitors from the sun throughout much of the journey as well. The surveyor of the group worked diligently to continue mapping and cataloging the creatures nearby, doing so with remarkable speed that only halted their forward progress for a minute at most. That was until the group came across a large tree that at first looked as if it was gold in color until a massive exodus occurred and several millibytes scattered in all directions, a flurry of them headed in the groups direction.

One of the soldiers that comprised the tight circle felt a few pinches along his skin, particularly around his neck. Within seconds, the man began convulsing and dropped to the ground. Heron stomped a foot along the ground and then made a sweeping movement with his hands, conjuring a white barrier that dug into the forest floor and spread several feet on either side of him. Another Illyrian dropped in convulsions while the others started firing all sorts of elemental blasts at the incoming swarm, some traveling straight through the barrier and incinerating several pockets of the dangerous threat before them. It wouldn’t be long before the creatures found a way around Heron’s barrier, however, so a supplementary plan was needed…and fast.

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Tho some might struggled to sleep on boats due to the wavey nature, Asura slept well. The sound of waves crashing and wind blowing was somewhat soothing to the little scientist. She awoke early, being greeted to sunrise. Asura quickly got ready and grabbed her gear, wolfing down a meal along the way. As she stood on top deck, she looked at the land in front of her. It was as described, but at first sight could be hard to tell due to the time of day. She could see small bio-luminescent plants hiding in the underbrush, waiting to be sampled. Asura made her way down the ramp and stood behind Heron, awaiting orders.

On 8/22/2019 at 4:43 PM, Dolor Aeternum said:

“Good morning everyone. As stated last night, we are heading over to Mt. Ichthys there. I expect we will stop a few times along the way to gather samples. I ask that you all remain vigilant for we do not want to miss cataloging anything we find.”

Asura followed without a word, her little legs trying to keep up with the groups. Along the way she took cataloged various plants and species she could see, taking pictures to go along with them. One of her favorites was a fungal like arachnid, the size of ones palm. It seemed to have developed a symbiotic relationship with local fungus, spurting a large single shroom from atop its back. Much like the other flora, it glowed. The purpose or function of the relationship would have to be further researched. Asura took a specimen container, capturing the little critter for later research.

Spoiler

'SO CUTE!'

Shade, sound of nature and gentle breeze made the trip worth while. Everything was peaceful and well. But much like how any adventure goes, it all comes to an end sooner or later. The group was attacked by a swarm of unknown creatures, potent enough to cause soldiers to convulse on the ground. By instinct Asura raised her wrist mounted flamethrowers, aiming them towards the swarm. Whilst she could always phase through the swarm, this was her only method of ensuring her teams safety. After all, she was a scientist, not a fighter.

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Linda's night was nothing short of uneventful as she spent most of it on the deck and staring longingly into the darkness of night. Sleep was a privilege for most people but for her its mostly an unhealthy experience as her night terrors tend to happen at the most inopportune sleeping moments. She's more than rested enough and ready for whatever tomorrow brings. As the sun's rays reached her figure, she knew then that it was time for work. Down the ramp and into the lands below, Linda Linda could see Hedon and what seemed like a group of Illyrians. Was she the last to appear? Perhaps. But for now, she would have to listen to what Hedon's would have to say.

“Good morning everyone. As stated last night, we are heading over to Mt. Ichthys there. I expect we will stop a few times along the way to gather samples. I ask that you all remain vigilant for we do not want to miss cataloging anything we find."

The meeting was adequate enough for her and soon she found herself trailing after the others. Amalia is a rather strange land, exotic at most, but she was mostly looking forward to meeting one of the Ulway people. She had heard a lot about these vertically challenged humanoids and to see them in real life would be very amusing.While she mused, her other sense were busy doing their job with recording everything within her vicinity. She only needed to see or experience something once, then she can record it in her journal later.

Then came the swarm.

As people began dropping like flies, Linda Linda would move towards the afflicted soldier and lay a delicate upon the poor victim. A soft gentle power would fill the man's body which should ease the pain and slow down the affliction. Unfortunately, she might need more time to completely remove whatever it is that the man caught. She would then reach for the other poor individuals, gently touching them one by one while a faint barrier surrounded her body and repelled the occasional millibyte that would come her way.

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Abe awoke gently. A slight ease in his bones indicated that the distant storm had broken in the night. He took a deep breath of the musty, belowdeck air, and gathered his meager belongings. With his dagger affixed to the small of his back, and his dark brown cloak clasped around his body, Abe departed from the ship. 

The splendor of the island's flora struck him immediately. Once again, Abe felt as though he had been thrust into another world. Stubborn light peeked out from beneath the underbrush, and innervated the darker crevaces of the trees that surrounded them. 

Abe's eyes flitted back and forth, from creature to creature, plant to plant. A few times he noticed himself drifting a little from the group. Each time he began to lag, one of the nearby Illyrians would gently nudge him back towards the group. For the time being, he had no problem giving everyone their space. 

Abe's eyes widened as they approached the golden-barked tree. Sunlight reflected prismatically against the trunk. At a certain point, it seemed to Abe that the tree was breathing. He was right. 

Droves of millibytes took flight from the now disappointingly ordinary tree. Their bodies created shadows so dense that the light from moss along the ground could be seen. Abe was taken aback at first. The fear didn't begin until the first Illyrian fell. His convulsions indicated some type of toxin, though Abe couldn't be sure. Either way, he wasn't about to wait and find out. 

Abe began breathing more deeply, summoning what power he could from this unfamiliar world. A nearly imperceptible blue glow emanated from the narrow seam in his cloak. The air immediately around him began to vibrate slightly. Within moments Abe was shrouded in translucent, blue-white energy. 

A dozen or so muffled pops emanated from Abe's body as the millibytes that attempted to reach his skin found themselves charged with too much electricity for their bodies to handle.

Abe made his way to Heron, making especially sure not to touch anyone on his way. 

"Alright Director, what's the plan here? I have an idea, but it may end up doing more harm than good. Best case scenario, everyone gets really tingly for a few minutes. Worst case, your men on the floor may die. It's up to you."

The muffled popping continued as more and more millibytes attempted to pierce Abe's shroud. He extended his arms outward at his sides, and the shroud extended from.the tips of his fingers to the ground, offering Heron a slight bit more protection. 

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