A Thorne In The Lion’s Paw.
Loredas, 15th day of Heartfire, 2E 583.
Avelyn Blackthorne, Southpoint.
As the Montclair approached the table Avelyn was expecting some sort of insult, or a threat perhaps. What happened next surprised her even more, he offered for her to come sit with the rest of his family at the table they were sitting at inside of the Inn. This perplexed her, causing her to give a long pause.
“……..Sure…..why…not………” She managed to spit out, as she expected this to be some kind of trap, but the Keerilth knew they couldn’t just attack her in the middle of the Inn. She began to wonder if this was just a foolish attempt to convince her to try appealing to her Father into accepting their terms. That or they would try getting her to reveal something important about her family, maybe something they could use to blackmail Lycidas, or hold over him. Regardless of their intentions Avelyn sat down at the table with the rest of The Montclair’s as Akira sat down on the floor directly next to her chair.
“….Thanks for the invitation….” She spoke softly as she starred across the table, before folding her arms in front of her.
Ava Blackthorne, Southpoint.
” We will think this over, you have given us a lot to think about, and we still have much to do today. ” Ava replied, as she watched the Altmer return to the deck of the ship, just as quickly as the two sisters have embarked upon the vessel, they disembarked only to run into yet another familiar face.
” I take it he is a friend of yours? ” Ava questioned Taure, as Marissa stood next to her, the two of them still considering all that the Altmer had just told them about the danger that The Veiled Heritance posed to House Blackthorne, as well as the rest of Valenwood. They had to learn more, no matter the cost.
Marissa stopped, leaning up against a stack of crates on the pier. ” What a interesting day, to say the least. “
Jasayla Vellane, North East Of Southpoint.
” Many things seem to like living in these swamps, unlike anything you will find in Skyrim that’s for sure. Still as bad as Black Marsh, but I’m beginning to wonder if what is prowling around in these swamps wants us to find them. It makes no effort to hide it’s tracks, it wants someone to find them. “
” Hopefully we can reach this ruin, for all we know this damn thing could be living inside of it, can’t say it wouldn’t fun to kill two birds with one stone. ” The Nord spoke to Aurora as they continued traversing the swamp, trying to locate the Ayleid ruin that they had been searching for for the last few weeks.
” Not much further. ” Aurora chimed in, but only for a moment before returning to silence.
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by Ava Blackthorne.
Annalise’s eyes were wild, but shadowed by a downward cast gaze, “This-” She cleared her throat and looked up with a more nonchalant expression, “Now you can keep a closer watch, no?” An eyebrow quirked up, before she furrowed them at Rohlbert in an obvious attempt to threaten him. Doing something like this, now the sisters had no chance of speaking; though it was somewhat of a beneficial situation. “Perhaps this is an opportunity.” The Elder spoke aloud.
“Indeed,” Amelie added, a wry grin and narrow eyes directed right at Avelyn, “Despite how it might seem, House Montclair’s last wish is to make further enemies of the Blackthornes. Maybe we can prove our amicability to one another.” Amelie rubbed her print of her thumb around the rim of her glass, a drink she’d requested in the brief moments Rohlbert spent across the room, and nudged the fine wine towards Avelyn. “Crystalline White. Try it.” The Breton had turned the glass, so that the faint lip stain faced Avelyn. It was… a symbolic gesture, of sorts. “I prefer Red Wines usually, but I desired something a little chillier today; to feel the bite. Keeps one on their toes.”
“We know each other, yes.” Taure answered, but to say they were friends would be beyond a stretch. Normally that would be the end of it; he came to speak with Xietar, and distractions could wait until afterwards… but the Blackthornes were why he was here. “Did he have anything interesting to mention?” Simple question, simple answer. If he couldn’t get it from them, then he’d get it from Xietar – Divines know he’s never doing anything helpful.
A flash of disgust passed as Kaenis laid down what he knew. “They are of Hircine’s blood, but not of his mind. There is a thrill of the hunt, a rush of danger and the elation of success…” Kaenis described, feeling inspiration ebb and flow from his words.
“…Then there are those who cannot control it. Go fully to the animal instincts.” He reprimanded, as disdain returned. Maenriel was about to respond, but the wild Bosmer cut him short.
“But these are different. They kill the weak. For sport. Not necessity.” He detailed. “Few survive the bulk of their pack. Anyone and anything. Diplomacy…. is pointless. Only those within the inner circle are beyond their hunger. But every fight leaves indicators. They eschew tactics for strength. They either believe they are superior… or Hircine made them superior.” He wavered.
A deep sigh pursed the Bosmerknight’s lips. Once this new threat was done with Southpoint, they’d lick their wounds and spread. Even with their supremacists outlook – one that would preclude them from bolstering their numbers through infection or willingness – they would eventually be stopped.
But… if the uninvolved – those with no stake in this pissing contest – were harmed, the Dominion wold resposd.
And they’d respond too late.
“Time to head further North then, old friend.” Maenriel surmised, thinking it through as his helmet went back over his head. “Give Taeilora and Ciorwyn my regards.” He nodded.
Kaenis looked grim at those mentions.
Gladius read it.
“May the bones be greener on the other side.” They both grimaced in response, saying the phrase in a reverant but detached manner, as Gladius ushered Rellicas out.
Luckily, the wolves weren’t hostile and things proceeded well, or at least so they appeared. The new information only furthered his fear of the werebeasts, these ones were tame but the ‘other’ ones… to say the least were savage. If it weren’t for his curiosity then he would surely of turned around long ago. With an indication from Gladius, he lowered his guard and followed after the mer, keeping his eye on the nearby rustling just to make sure everything was as it seems. The place was still a prime spot for an ambush, one that might yet occur.
Catching up to Gladius he whispered into his ear “So what now?” Any leads they had were gone and they were left without direction. All they could possibly do was systemically search the woods nearby but that would take days, perhaps even weeks; far beyond the time limit they had.
Just then another thought sprung to his head. What was it about supremacist groups that made them so popular as of late? There was Hydra, The veiled heritance and now whatever the beast pack were called. Hopefully they had a better name. And why in the name of oblivion were such groups able to hide from the law with complete ease. Either the local armies were incompetent or…well… the divines know what.
“Any ideas as to what to do next?”
Kaenis made a reassuring gesture towards the clearing, one that seemed to put the silhouettes in the distance at ease. He casually jogged further into the underbrush, until he simply faded into the background.
Next? A little too eager.
“First, I want a proper night of sleep. Fighting tired is something only the dead or undead try.” He surmised, putting a little too much emphasis on neither. “Second, we see what the Blackthornes, Tavari and… I supremely hate to see this … the Montclairs… are willing to actual commit to quell the threat.” He listed, with varying levels of disdain. “Third… we get breakfast. It’s been a long time since I’ve had Hoarver soup.” He grumbled, as his stomach churned a little.
He shrugged his armor, making sure it was still tight to ensure minimal wasted effort going forward. Or… well, backwards.
Though, Rellicas’ presence, let alone timing, was getting Gladius even more curious than normal. “Historian, eh? What prompted that?”
A Thorne In The Lion’s Paw.
Loredas, 15th day of Heartfire, 2E 583.
Avelyn Blackthorne, Southpoint.
” Thanks for the offer, but I prefer something a little bit stronger. ” The Keerilth spoke, before pulling a small bottle of brandy out of her knapsack, taking a drink of it before placing it down on the table. ” I have never been fond of the taste of wine, but again, thanks for the offer. ” She spoke as she pushed the bottle of Crystalline White back towards Amelie, while her statement was true, she knew better than to drink something handled by a Montclair. After all it was but only a few hours ago that they made their ultimatums known to House Blackthorne, and she wasn’t about to foolish except a drink from a known foe.
” I have a lot of things to get done today, so tell me, what is it you wanted to discuss with me exactly ? “
Ava Blackthorne & Marissa Blackthorne, Southpoint.
” He mentioned The Veiled Heritance, can’t say I know too much about them, never cared enough until right now….. ” Ava spoke, as she tried remembering something her Father had told her about them but only a few months ago, but she cared so little at the time that it was almost impossible to remember.
” What do you know about them, and maybe more importantly what do you know about him? I can’t say I exactly trust you, but I have had more dealings with you in the past, and there is something very suspicious about someone who sends a goblin to speak with me instead of just coming to find me by himself. “
Marissa looked up at the both of of them, letting out a large sigh, as closed her eyes for a moment. ” Something always happens around here, but I must say I am curious to learn what you know, The Veiled Heritance certainly sounds like a worthy topic of discussion after what we both just heard. “
Jasayla Vellane, North East Of Southpoint.
” Two sets of tracks, one appears heavier than then other, must be wearing some pretty thick armor. ” Jasayla spoke, as she stood back up. ” Let’s see where these take us, seems to be heading in almost the same direction we are, should stay off the road though, can never be too careful when dealing with strangers. “
” Agreed. ” Aurora responded, as the two branched off the path, just far enough to stay out of sight.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by Ava Blackthorne.
“Oh I’m hardly a historian!” He light heartedly dismissed “I’m an amateur at the most, I help them out when I can and in return they allow me access to their archives. You see I very much enjoy reading but the shops only have so many accessible. In the university there are more books than one could read in a lifetime: rare books! Ones which are above all else interesting. And that both assists me contain my boredom aswell as provide useful information I can use on my ‘adventures’ ”
The word ‘breakfast’ seemed to set off a chain reaction in his body, his stomach rumbled and the hunger began. His mind turned away from werewolves and to the thought of food, particularly what food he desired. Once upon a time he had come across a redguard traveller on his way through the wrothgarian mountains whom had shown his a tasty recipe. He boiled a rock warbler egg half done and heated bread over the fire till it went crunchy, then combined the two and in all of Rells vast experiences of food, it was the best. He wandered if any chefs in these parts knew how to do it, after all the elves had always been better cooks than the races of man.
“So how do you know Kaenis?” he questioned “I understand you were a werewolf at one point too but what about before then? Did you know each other before whatever event occurred to transform you? And another thing How did you manage to acquire that special ring on your finger?” Rell pointed to the ring of hircine that held onto Gladius’ finger “Its a wonderful design but I haven’t met anyone which could produce such intricacies in my travels!”
Not a historian then. That’s fine. Being curious about events of the present and past was still an admirable quality. Still, finding him this far South was peculiar, though … Gladius’ own intentions weren’t less strange by any means.
How he knew Kaenis though… that was probably a story that shouldn’t be told so freely. While it was a dark part of his history, it was also something defined him for worse. At his core, he believed in a form of perfect balance. A progression of defence that allowed for offence. Being at peace, but entertaining inner wildness. Controlling the forces of fire to destroy, or manipulating them to spare.
Those days were imperfect. Imbalanced. And … maybe he enjoyed it a little too much.
“Kaenis, Taeilora and Ciorwyn were recruits for the Dominion long ago.” He described, starting off the sordid tale. “All from different parts of Valenwood, but all very respectful of the Green Pact. So respectful of it, that we … wasted nothing. Not even a small pack of werewolves.” He grumbled, somewhat disdainful now that he was halfway through the story. “We spent a few months like Kaenis does now – living free, secluded but ravenous lives.”
He looked at the ring.
…By Yff’re, what was it doing on his finger?!?!!?
Gladius quickly sunk it off his finger, giving it a curious glare. He folded his shield out, pushing the blissfully accursed object back into the dimple in the wood emblem.
Had… he put it back on his finger? When?
………Maybe…… the thing still had some influence over him. Maybe he had put it back on to better familiarize himself to the werewolves. But… his lack of active agency on putting it on harrowed him.
He had come to bury it. Or give it to a worthy successor. But now he doubted he could truly let it go. Whether it would let him. Perhaps one day he would need to be a werewolf again –
– No. Don’t think like that.
He took a deep breath. “It’s a Ring of Hircine. A spawn of Hircine’s will, to hunt.” He harrowed. “Cursed, it brings a werebeast out beyond his control. Blessed, it allows one to control the inner beast.” He detailed, looking at it fondly, but repentantly as well. “It is beautiful in some respects, but it’s interests go far beyond what can be immediately seen.”
“Ah, another creature of a Daedric Prince.” A hooded figure stepped from the shadows, looking at the cursed ring. He chuckled softly to himself for a moment. “Arun-Ja,” He introduced himself, “at your service. I hear you are in possession of the Ring of Hircine. That is a powerful artifact, not for the faint-hearted, and even less so for those with Hircine’s “gift”.” He paused to pull out a wine-skin and take a sip of what seemed like red wine. “I’m looking for someone near here,” he continued, “A Nord, of some sort. He has been on my list for days without success, and I fear I’m no closer to finding him any time soon. Maybe one of you could point me in the right direction?” He leaned against a tree, musing with the emotions of those around him.
The bone helmet swivelled at the faint sound of conversation. At first, Gladius’ expression was calm, but jittered into one of bottled surprise.
…..Yff’re’s bones, am I that easy to sneak up on already? He was a contemplating the nuance of getting old, the lack of recent dangerous excitement or just being away from his true home for so long.
His response was instantaneous – he flicked his body facing the newcomer, drawing his sword in an improvised yet practised manner. A beautiful glass sword flared out, a tinge of flame and shadow as it hungered for the air. It was meant for one hand, as his left steadied his balance in a typical ‘lamb shank’ stance for guiding his thrust and momentum forward.
The Bosmerknight glared in his typical stand off manner. This man knew about many things. Hircine. Hircine’s ring. And he’d clearly been listening to a huge portion of the conversation, meaning he’d been eavesdropping for quite some time. Strange people in Valenwood was one thing. Strange sneaky people was another. Strange sneaky people with good hearing was just a new level of trouble.
“If you’re looking for a Nord, you might want to try North East.” Gladius hollered back, not in a jovial mood. “Very far North East.” he smugly added, using his sword to point when he was partially certain the man’s winesack wasn’t a weapon. It was dark, after all, and even in sunlight, a fraction of the sun burst through the canopy.
The mysterious figure startled Rell whom flinched and held his arms out in an almost cross shape. Nothing as practical or polished as Gladius, but he wasn’t a soldier so perhaps that made it forgivable. Clumsily recovering he drew his sword and pointed it in the direction of the newcomer. It was peculiar that this argonian was able to sneak up on them so easily, especially since both of them were on full alert. Maybe the sleep was getting to them or the lack of food. Probably both. Since Gladius was already taking care of it (and better than he could) Rellicas simply followed Gladius’ lead and supported the points he made by nodding, even if that was to mock the stranger.
How does he know what the ring is? Rellicas pride got the better of his inner monologue. His intelligence felt insulted, he was willing to wager this fiend had never picked up a book in his life, so how could he know something that Rell doesn’t. What’s more is that Maenriel knew it since he was the owner and once a werewolf. So what sort of life did the argonian lead which would enable him to know privy information.
Rellicas began looking the argonian up and down, looking for signs about his character. Something about him wasn’t right, his robes looked those of an assassin and his left eye was milky. Obviously not a trained warrior if his face was allowed to receive such punishment. Something about him wasn’t right. That being aside from the dark look. He was awfully shadowy and what scales he could see were a sickly pale, far different from the fantastic colours which argonians scales were usually. This made Rell on edge.
“I’m afraid that north is not the direction I was given,” the figure replied, “This Nord happens to be down here, a big, surly fool who made my…” He paused, “friend, shall we say, very angry. I know something, something sinister.” He stopped to take another sip of the “Wine” skin, and continued, “I have seen many things in my lifetime, many of which have scarred or wounded my existence. These things do not happen randomly, you know. A werewolf gaining Hircine’s most prized possession, a vampire leading a Breton house of nobles, and a Daedric Prince, hungered for the souls of those who are defenseless. There is a dark work in motion, one beyond any Aedric or Daedric powers. I have the notion that this Nord may have information to give before he…” He halted his words, as though he had a secret.
“These fools cannot know why we are here,” A voice within his head whispered, “Kill them now, while their blood is fresh.” He shook his head, dismissing his conscience of the pestilent voice. “Slips away.” He finished, nodding his head in agreement of his statement. “He is the key to finding the item I am seeking, along with being a contract for my family’s sake. With him emptied and taken care of, I can continue to end this phenomenon of unlikely proportions.” He leaned against the tree. “That is,” He remembered, “as soon as I find him.” He grasped his head, the thoughts of bloodlust threatening his sanity again. “BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD!” The voices cried, pounding in his mind, trying to release themselves from the servitude of their master. Again, Arun-Ja resisted, expelling the feelings and emotions from his brain, and relaxed, now free, for a time, of those dark urges.
The Bosmer gave the Argonian all kinds of suspicious looks. Not much better than what’s going on in Southpoint, but … by the Divines, do the eccentrics seem to find me. Wavering the business end of his sword a little, he relaxed both of his arm, as his sword and intentions lowered.
Letting the monologue finish, he got around to sheathing his sword. Still concerned but apathetic, his body language attempting to dismiss the oddity he found himself in. “Don’t know many Nords around these parts. Let alone any by… whatever his name is …” He scoffed, wondering how successful this lizard would be using such a crude way of specifying strangers.
Honestly, you’d only know a trickle of details if some had passingly wronged you. Or you were some kind of law enforcement working off sketchy details. Either way, this guy is looking for someone for personal reasons. Unless it’s another end of the world calamity or another upstart group of power hungry Daedric folk.
“Good luck with that.” Gladius farewelled, giving the Argonian a wary look before continuing on the path back to Southpoint. The… Argonian is going to follow us, isn’t he. ….I cannot have a normal holiday, can I…
Arun-Ja slunk back into the shadows, following the two adventurers back to Southpoint secretly. The amount of people here was enough to call back the thoughts of vampirism. “Blood,” The voices cried again, “We need blood. Kill and drink, surrender and live.” He came from the shadows near the local tavern in order to clear his mind of these nuisances. As soon as he entered, his target came into sight; a Nord of burly stature, drinking himself silly with Mead dripping down his chin. Arun-Ja could not, by any chance, kill him here and now, for the attention of the tavern was set upon him. He decided to use his persuasion to lure him to his death.
The thin Argonian stepped up to the bulky barbarian, offering him a drink of mead. The Nord heartily agreed, drinking the foul liquid Nords so adore, and shouted for more. Within this cup, Arun-Ja added a pinch of Jarrin Root, the deadliest poison in Tamriel and the stealthiest way to kill the blundering fool. The Nord swiped the cup from Arun-Ja’s hand and drank the entire mug in under three seconds. Before the poison took effect, the Argonian took the Nord to the back room, much as he had done with other contracts. Within the next fifteen minutes, only the assassin stepped from the room, leaving the tavern to, once again, search for those he had met in the woods. With no luck, he sat next to the fountain, wondering how he was to subdue the intruding thought that could drive him from his neutrality into hostility.
“Kill, Blood, Death,” The voices wailed, “FEAST!” The entirety of Arun-Ja’s physical body began to shiver, as though holding back from Sheogorath’s influence, which could be the case, by anyone’s thoughts around him. He stumbled back to the inn and asked in a pained voice for a room and complete privacy. He walked in agony to the bed assigned to him, closed the door, and began to pray to the Dread Father for resistance to the plague set upon him. Sithis complied, giving him rest from the terror of the night. He went out to the main area and asked for a refilling of his wine-sack. Coins clattered as he drank from the skins, relieved from the pain of the earlier trauma. He sat there, drinking for as long as he needed. Something in the atmosphere here was wrong, and he was going to find what gave him these severe fits of bloodlust in this town, which was more than usual anywhere else.
Amelie hummed, dragging the glass back into her grasp before eyeing Rohlbert somewhat, “Yes, what is it we wished to discuss exactly?” The Breton grinned, crossing one leg over the other and draping her free arm across the inside of her elbow as she raised the glass to her lips. Her eyes were so obviously mocking the young man, even distorted behind the raised glass as she took a sip. Naturally, Rohlbert grew uncomfortable, and fidgeted with his wrist whilst trying to conjure up some pathetic excuse for calling over the pretty girl.
“Erm,” He glanced at Annalise briefly, which only unnerved him further, “I just supposed we c-could try getting along?” No, those were the wrong words, as told by the Elder’s narrowing gaze, “I- I mean, we’re all here anyway, it seemed pointless to stare at each other from across the room.” By the Eight… this hole was deepening.
The Eldest Montclair just scoffed, grumbling something under her breath. “Well, you know ours, Blackthorne,” She said the name with distaste, as ever, “What’s your name? Unless I should address you as-” The vampire paused, her cold expression growing sterner as her head turned to face the entrance of the tavern. Amelie’s had moved in turn, having smelled the same faint scent.
They wouldn’t have trusted a single vampire in this town to come from behind them, but much to their surprise the creature was not looking for the Montclair’s… nor did it seem to show any recognition of the Blackthorne in front of the pair. Amelie turned to face Avelyn, “One of yours?” Her eyes shrivelled, then widened as she watched the Argonian drop something in a mug of something classless. Still facing the Argonian, she once more addressed the Blackthorne, “It’s good to see your family are as tactless as ever. Never could work subtly.”
Annalise faced Avelyn, and the young Breton’s expression was telling. “Not yours?” Amelie stood immediately after the creature left the tavern, wandering straight into the back room he’d come from and noticing the body of the Nord.
She chuckled slightly at the limp body, internally scolding the sloppiness of the kill before crouching beside his corpse. The Breton opened his mouth widely, looking at the inside. His tongue and throat were blistered quite severely, and within such a short time frame. The Nord’s eyes were heavily bloodshot. Amelie brought an elongated nail down through his cloth tunic, and as she’d expected there were purple blotches dotted about his torso and there would be more along his arms and legs if exposed. She brought her nail to his wrist, breaking the skin and piercing the artery, before raising her slightly bloodied nail to her tongue.
Jarrin Root. Amelie spat out the poisoned blood, though it wouldn’t have affected her much at all. The young Breton returned to the others, facing the Blackthorne accusingly… though with a small amount of amusement, “You’ve a murderer loose in your town. Poisoned the Nord with Jarrin Root.” The internal alchemist scolded him yet again, Chokeberries worked faster than Jarrin Root.
“Well, even in a Blackthorne town, that unsettles me.” Annalise commented, “Let’s-”
And the door opened yet once more, as the seemingly bipolar… or potentially just stupid, Argonian came waltzing back in. Amelie let out an audible laugh, before holding a hand over her mouth, as she watched the Argonian head upstairs briefly. Annalise was already walking towards the stairs when he once more appeared, now headed for the bar.
This one was all over the place. The Montclair’s … and likely the Blackthorne too, approached the Argonian each with scrutinous looks. Amelie was the first to sit beside him, whilst Annalise loomed over menacingly.
“So, Jarrin Root?” The Breton chuckled, before her expression dimmed to one of disinterest, “Why the Nord?”
- This reply was modified 3 days, 21 hours ago by Ungoliant the Consumer.
“He knew something I couldn’t let escape.” Arun-Ja stated, though surprised at their knowledge of the murder. He noticed the group surrounding him, yet said nothing of it. He took another drink of his red wine and continued, “What does it matter to you? Was he friend, relative, or someone you knew and loved, or was he an enemy I disposed of when you wanted to kill him yourself?” That’s when he noticed the Breton’s skin, pale and sickly like his own scales. If these were truly vampires, which was undoubtable, they could lead him to the source of his blood-lusting thoughts, which had been frequent.
“They know too much now,” The voices returned, though quieter than before, “Kill them, and drink their blood.” “No,” another voice, far different than the others, answered, “Let them tell us what they know, then we’ll strike if they prove unworthy of our presence. They can lead us to the source.” The others complained, giving the old Argonian a splitting headache.
“Besides the point, VAMPIRE,” He revealed, but silently, as for no one to hear, “What business does one like yourself have in Southpoint, besides soaking up the pleasures and joys of this merry civilization? A plot, perhaps, or am I mistaken?” Satisfied, he ordered a refill of the red wine to drown out the voices of vampirism.
Gladius began plodding off in the direction of Southpoint. No more questions and apparently no more shi- he just walked away without a care in the world. Rellicas gave the argonian a quick glance before jogging to catch up to the disgruntled mer.
“well that was odd!” he humorously gawped “That guy was all kinds of weird” Keeping up with the bosmer he spared one final glance backwards to inspect the argonian and to Rell’s surprise: he wasn’t there. Almost as if the argonian had poofed into thin air. Rell paused a moment and looked around the woods, but he was nowhere in sight. For a few moments he pondered whether the encounter had really happened or whether it was a work of fiction conjured up by his brain. The forest all of a sudden felt powerfully eerie, less light seemed to shine through the trees and the shadows appeared deeper and darker. Once more Rellicas jogged to catch up to Gladius.
“I swear by the divines when I say this – that argonian has literally poofed into thin air. He is not in sight anywhere” Rellicas sheathed his sword which he had still been holding then laughed off some of the events of today “The amount of crazy stuff going off here, someone must’ve slipped some skooma in my soup this morning”
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