Shemeska's Planescape Storyhour (Updated 29 Jan 2014) - Page 97





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  1. #961
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zuoken
    After having finished reading all 24 pages of this storyhour and enjoying every last word of it, I have but one thing to say:

    DAMN!!!!

    Shemmy, you are the master of labyrinthine plots and despicable villains; I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, and I want to be just like you. Consider this little blubbering man to be yet another fan of your storyhour.

    Now on with the show!
    *grinning like a fool*

    Thank you very much! Now, given how far into the plot the storyhour is, and how long the campaign was, you'll be getting an update a week for probably at least another year and a half to two years, maybe more.

    I just need to juggle when to update this one and the 2nd one. Both might get updated this week if I can, but I also fizzled out my creative fuse by writing this little story... which covers the period of time during which Anthraxus wandered the lower planes after Mydianchlarus took his position as Oinoloth: a prelude of sorts to some elements of this storyhour. No spoilers, so don't worry.

 

  • #962
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    The others didn’t immediately act, but Tristol and Fyrehowl were under no such restrictions. Tristol had already called a spell into his mind and a moment later he hurled it at the wall of force that blocked one of their routes of egress. A thin greenish ray shot from his outstretched finger and disintegrated the wall without pause while he brought a second spell to mind.

    Fyrehowl had drawn her sword and raced towards the goblins. She was nearly there already when they lowered the barrels of their weapons and fired, swallowing her and them both in a cloud of powder smoke.

    Clueless snarled and drew his blade while Toras calmly invoked an innate power of his celestial heritage, summoning a holy aura to surround and protect him and his companions. As the shining light of the spell enveloped him and the others, it had a secondary effect as well: it dismissed the effects of the Rakshasa’s symbol of persuasion entirely. They blinked in some momentary confusion as they came to realize just how fully they had fallen under magical influence, and as they paused, the Rakshasa and its pet githyanki acted.

    Given the innate resistance to magic that all Rakshasa possessed, the githyanki warlock felt no compunction against simply hurling his spells into the midst of the fight; they simply wouldn’t affect his liege at all. The mage whispered an invocation and hurled a blistering cone of frost directly into the melee since the wall of force was no longer blocking any direct, line of sight spells.

    The spell hit hard, blasting all except Tristol and Fyrehowl with full force. And for the latter of those two, she was still unseen within the confines of the cloud of smoke loosed from the goblins’ weapons. The only positive aspect of that last detail were the screams of goblins that could be heard, though the exact results could not yet be seen.

    The Rakshasa smiled and pointed his hand at Florian, the cleric being the one opponent capable of blessing any crossbow bolts, the bane of any Rakshasa. The fiend gestured with that outstretched finger, and whispered a single word: Die.

    Florian stumbled as if she had just been punched in the gut. She doubled over and coughed, straining her eyes and wincing as the spell washed over her but failed to realize its full potential. The cleric steadied herself on the haft of her axe as she shuddered and slowly recovered from the spell. It had left her sick and in pain, but it had not killed her as intended.

    Tristol, having seen the potency of the Rakshasa’s spellcasting, and his full willingness to hurl about death spells like they were mere cantrips, cast his most powerful spell in memory. A rainbow of colored light erupted from the aasimar’s hand as he cast the prismatic spray, a single beam striking the githyanki mage and two separate beams striking the Rakshasa.

    The warlock managed half a scream before it died in his throat and a contingency activated, whisking him away by magic to some predetermined safe harbor. It would do little good though if it was known only to him however; the prismatic spray had turned him to stone.

    As the two beams struck the tiger-headed fiend, he seemed a mixture of politely impressed and dismissive of the threat. He had nothing to fear from the mage. However the two swordsman charging towards him… they did matter. Clueless and Toras both slashed at Siddhartha, both of them scoring several hits, though some manner of protective spell on the fiend seemed to negate a large amount of the damage.

    Florian invoked a prayer to aid her companions as the Rakshasa calmly stepped back and placed his still smoking pipe to his lips. In the midst of the battle it seemed almost comical, but then he triggered some spell latent upon the item and a shockwave of sonic energy erupted in a circle around him. Clueless and Toras were both hurled backwards by a wall of sound that took the form of a thousand screaming souls like something dredged from the depths of pandemonium.

    Behind them, the smoke had cleared and Fyrehowl emerged over the dead bodies of the goblins, though she herself has bleeding from a number of deep wounds their alchemical weapons had inflicted upon her. She gave a bestial snarl at the Rakshasa before charging towards him, soon to be joined by Clueless and Toras again.

    Siddhartha attempted to retreat to a safer position, but he never made it, and soon his protective magics began to fail and the slashes upon his flesh began to bleed more and more. His smug attitude began to rupture into concern, and then to hatred as he cast another spell.

    The Rakshasa threw back his head and screamed at the top of his lungs. The air rippled around him as if a portal to Hell had ripped itself open within his larynx, and its insane petitioners had wailed their fury and misery out into the world through him. It wasn’t the roaring of a tiger or any other great cat, but a scream like a damned, tortured soul venting its hatred on the living. Tristol recognized the spell with widened eyes a second before the tidal wave of necromancy engulfed them all, and both Clueless and Nisha dropped dead.

    Tristol panicked and cast the first spell that came to his mind, a rather simple spell to conjure a force effect onto a simple weapon. It was quick and it was reactionary, and the fiend was already badly injured. Without any training in combat, but just a measure of gut instinct and pure, random luck, he slammed the end of his staff into the Rakshasa’s head. The fiend jerked and imploded, vanishing in the sudden activation of some sort of contingent planeshift or teleport.

    Tristol dropped back and sat down in one of the fiend’s chairs. His heart was pounding and his veins felt as if on fire from the massive expenditure of spells he had cast, an oddly pleasant feeling as he realized that they had won. He only then realized that both Nisha and Clueless were lying there, cold and still, snuffed out by the Rakshasa’s parting incantation.

    “Sh*t…” He said, echoed by Toras and Florian.

    “Florian, can you…?” Fyrehowl asked the cleric.

    She shook her head. “I didn’t memorize anything of the sort today. And what I have isn’t perfect. They’ll be alive again, but it’s going to take something out of them. They won’t be quite up to their normal selves for some time. They’ll take time to recover.”

    A sullen mood descended over them all as they looked down at the pair of corpses. But no sooner had they felt depression hitting hard, then there was a sudden flash of light and the sound of ice grinding upon ice. They abruptly looked up, half expecting more githyanki, or a rejuvenated Rakshasa, but it was something altogether different.

    An imp, tinged green and smelling of seawater, it slowly approached them and held out a bag nearly as large as it was.

    “The Lord of the 5th, Prince Levistus, pays his debt of service to you for aid rendered.”

    Florian accepted the bag as the imp gave her a polite grin. Well, as polite as a naked fiend with a scorpion’s tail waving behind it leisurely could be.

    “You should find these an appropriate ‘favor for a favor’.” The Imp said as he glanced around at the carnage that despoiled the otherwise gentile surroundings. Then, without further comment, it vanished in the flash of a planeshift, called back by the Archdevil who had sent it.

    “What’s in the bag?” Skalliska asked as Florian glanced inside warily.

    The cleric’s eyes widened as she withdrew a scroll case and two flawless sea-green emeralds the size of her fist.

    “Holy…” Skalliska said as she glanced at the gems.

    Florian had an astonished grin on her face as she opened the scroll case. She seemed to already anticipate what was waiting for her within.

    “Gawk while you can Skalliska. These gems won’t be here for much longer. They’re just components…”

    Toras nodded as he came to the same realization as Florian had. The gems were simply the material component to a spell that was far above and beyond any of their capability to cast on their own, but if they were provided on a scroll, than their power would simply need to be channeled and directed.

    “Wish me luck, this is beyond my normal ability.” Florian said as she took the first gem and its bundled scroll and began to chant over Clueless’s corpse.

    The strain was evident as she began to read from the scroll. The gem in her other hand began to glow, and crackles of energy leap from her, to the scroll, to the gem, and then down to Clueless’s body. Florian winced in pain more than once as she finished reading, but her concentration held as finally the gemstone crumbled to dust, the words on the scroll faded away, and the bladesinger opened his eyes.

    “Welcome back.” Fyrehowl said as she helped Clueless up to his feet.

    “What the hell was that?” He asked. “And… I don’t feel any different.”

    “That was a 9th sphere spell…” Tristol said. “A Wail of the Banshee. The Rakshasa killed you and Nisha with it before…”

    “Is that b*stard dead?” Clueless said, interrupting Tristol.

    Tristol paused and looked away as Florian began to chant over Nisha’s body.

    “Looked like a planeshift or a teleport.” Fyrehowl said with a sigh. “Yeah, he got away. But there wasn’t anything we could do about it.”

    “Ten jink says we see him again.” Skalliska said.

    By that time Florian was finished, and once again her concentration held, but it had clearly taken something out of her. She was tired and had to sit down as the spell took effect and Nisha opened her eyes.

    “I’ve been doing this a lot.” The Xaositect said as she regained awareness. “I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd I think. You all keep getting me into bad situations with bad people. And those people, they keep killing me.”

    Toras helped her up off the floor.

    “You know, you could have just walked off after we were done with the whole blackmail and forced employment thing. You didn’t have to stick around with us.”

    “Yeah, I could have.” She replied. “But then who would get you into trouble?”

    “But didn’t you just say that it was our bad influence that got –you- into trouble?” Clueless asked.

    “Nope.” She replied.

    “That’s not making sense Nisha…” Skalliska complained.

    “Shhh…” Nisha whispered to the kobold. “Logic and me, we’re not on good terms, you’ll make them feel bitter.”

    The tiefling flashed a smile and Skalliska felt confused.

    Florian coughed.

    “So what do we do now?” The cleric asked as she slumped in one of the Rakshasa’s chairs.

    “Well, Marissa isn’t exactly with us anymore…” Toras said as he gazed as the scorch mark on the floor where the Erinyes had been sitting earlier.

    “So that brings up a question I guess,” Tristol said. “Do we still bother with the githyanki, or anything else around here?”

    They glanced at each other questioningly.

    “I’d say yes.” Clueless said. “Nisha and I are alive again.”

    Florian nodded. “I’d say we should, if just to make it clear that we were thorough in fulfilling our end of that bargain. The Erinyes did, and I’d say we owe it to her patron to see this out as much as we can.”

    “Plus,” Fyrehowl said. “We don’t want to just leave and have them, or the githyanki here respectively deciding to come after us for reneging on a deal, or for revenge.”

    There was a sudden crackle of energy in the air of the library and a flash of light. But it wasn’t heralding the presence of any new threat, rather it was something leaving. In quick succession, a number of items around the room that had been in the possession of the Rakshasa and the warlock who had served him simply winked out of existence, called back to some safe location for their owners to retrieve them.

    Tristol cursed.

    “The b*stard marked them with a summoning rune. Nothing we can do about it now though.”

    Skalliska sat down next to Florian, hopping into the chair that the Rakshasa had previously been sitting in.

    “Aye.” She said. “Had we known it, we might have stowed them in a bag of holding, but even then I’m not sure they wouldn’t have simply vanished the moment we took them out again.”

    “I take it this means that those two are still alive?” Florian asked.

    “Maybe.” Tristol said. “They might have been contingent spells, triggered when they were killed or incapacitated. The warlock isn’t going to be using them anytime soon though.”

    “Why is that?” Fyrehowl asked.

    “The spell I hit him with,” The wizard explained. “The part that affected him right before he teleported out by a contingent spell, it turned him to stone.”

    Clueless winced. “Yeah, that would do it.”

    “It might be a wise idea to try and scry where they might have gone after everything here is squared away.” Skalliska said, glancing to Clueless and Tristol.

    “And pilfer the library of all it’s worth.” Nisha said. “Sooner, rather than later.”

    They glanced at each other and then began to quickly loot any materials that seemed relevant to why the Rakshasa was there in the Astral, records of what they had been doing, anything else that struck them as interesting. But there wasn’t much. The library was mostly fiction and dry histories of the planes, tales of wars on the prime material, tales of wars in Acheron, and reams upon reams of lore relating to dynastic succession within a number of kingdoms, both prime material and planar. It was the library of a cultured nobleman, and anything that would have been specific to his actions in the Astral had been summoned back to him already, regardless of what state he might be in.

    Nisha was unhappy of course, though she did take the samovar when the others weren’t looking. Eventually though the others suggested that they wouldn’t find anything else outside of a few books that seemed to indicate a loose record of supplies and other arrivals to, and departures from, the godisle. They would look at that later, but in the meantime, there was the surface, and the tower that it held.


    ***


    The Rakshasa appeared in the flash of a teleport in a dimly lit chamber elsewhere upon the Astral. He’d felt the momentary disruption as his essence poured through the wardings and the continent sized hell of the astral storm that raged beyond the walls of that place, his sanctum, his shelter, the place where he returned now in abject failure.

    Siddhartha tightly clenched his eyes, she would not be pleased with him. She would be insane with rage. He took his breaths of sterile air, charged with magic, while he still could in relative peace as he sat down and simply waited for what would come.

    Several githyanki were staring at him, more servants, exiles and fugitives who had joined them under his or the other’s command. They stared at him with worried, questioning expressions on their faces. They hadn’t expected to see him, not so soon, and not in so ragged of a condition even as his body began to heal itself from his physical injuries.

    They continued to stare in the intervening minutes as his possessions began to appear around him, summoned back to his person by magic he had placed in them some time ago. He turned his eyes upon them and a wordless communication passed in between: leave him be and do not ask.

    The githyanki were well aware that his return meant conflict, and that meant failure in some way. They, just as well as he, knew that those two things would draw the ire of the other one, the second Rakshasa, his sibling. Siddhartha said nothing to them as he collected his things and put them to one side. He sat there silently, consumed with a bitter resignation, as his mind was set to vibrating with a distant mental touch. She knew. She was aware that he was here, she knew what that meant, and she was unhappy.

    He could have mentally called out to her, answered her questions preemptively, made his excuses, given his explanations, but that would serve no purpose. He would suffer, the failure would be extracted from him in a toll of blood and agony, and her answers would be ripped from his mind before she released him to rectify his failures, to take revenge.

    He closed his eyes and lowered his head submissively as the door to the chamber opened. The scent of poppies drifted on the air as his counterpart, if he could use that term so loosely, stepped into the room. The githyanki looked and immediately lowered their gaze from hers, those eyes gleaming like luminescent jade in the dim light, aflame with fury. Padded feet tapped across the floor and claws clacked against the stone in rhythmic pattern there in the darkness as a deep feline purr transposed to a feral roar.

    To Siddhartha’s coming admiration and patent surprise in some cloistered, sheltered portion of his mind, his capacity for, and understanding of pain, would soon be expanded and redefined.


    ***


    Much to Tristol’s grudging approval, Clueless had insisted on providing an area of invisibility for them all before they made their way out of the building and down to the surface of the godisle. Clueless had brushed it off, said he had had the spell earlier, but it had slipped his mind to use before. Tristol, knowing the truth, said nothing though some tiny portion of himself wished that it could have been the one doing the spellcasting. The spells during the fight had felt rather good, pleasurable almost.

    The invisibility had held when they drifted down from the buildings high in orbit, and down to the surface of Maanzecorian’s corpse. None of the githyanki below, and certainly none of the goblins had noticed a thing.

    Thankfully though, there were no guards positioned at the tower itself, and the doorway at its base was out of immediate line of sight of the teams of goblin petitioners and their githyanki taskmasters.

    The tower was built of a rough base metal, not anything mined from the godisle that it rose up from. Looking at it closely, Tristol and Florian both agreed that the material was probably created by sorcery and then molded into the desired shape from the foundations up. Given the two to three story high rise of the tower, like a spear that had gored the dead god, rising up like a spike from its chest, it would have taken either considerable time to craft, or a potent spellcaster.

    The door was likewise of solid but unrefined construction. It suited its designed purpose, and would have probably stood up to a battering ram, but it was nothing so fine as the interior of the buildings that hung above it in orbit.

    “This wasn’t built to be permanent.” Toras said. “This just calls out ‘functional’ and not much else.”

    “I’ve got to agree with you there.” Skalliska said as she studied the exterior of the tower. “If a Rakshasa had intended to stay here with this, they’d have made it look pretty.”

    “And refined and worthy of their noble presence.” Clueless said smugly. “B*stard killed me…”

    As they speculated on the tower, Nisha was already looking closely at the door itself. She looked at something cut into the surface briefly, snatched her hand away and made a face at it.

    “Eww…” She said before taking out a file and chipping away it for a moment.

    “What was that Nisha?” Fyrehowl asked, her ears swiveling at the earlier comment.

    “Oh, nothing.” The tiefling replied as she leaned on the door, covering up the now ruined symbol with her hand.

    Eventually the others glanced at her.

    “So, are there any wards on the door?” Florian asked.

    “None.” Nisha replied.

    Florian paused and asked again. “Are you –sure- that there aren’t any wards on the door?”

    “This time I’m actually sure of that.” Nisha said. “I’ve already died here once, and yes this has apparently gotten to be a habit with me and spellcasters, so if you want I’ll open it and you all can stand back.”

    “No, we trust you.” Tristol said. “If you’re sure of it, we’ll stand right here.”

    Skalliska was already moving back, and would have gone back further, except Toras grabbed her and held her in place.

    “There was one glyph. A symbol like before, just different.” The Xaositect said with a shrug.

    “A symbol? Which kind?” Clueless asked her.

    “Death.” Nisha said without a bit of worry. “At least I think it was death symbol...”

    Skalliska tried to break free from where Toras was holding her. And to be honest, he was considering if the kobold’s idea wasn’t all that bad of one.

    “Oh, bah.” Nisha replied, moving her hand off the inactive symbol. “I already defaced it. If I hadn’t, we’d have triggered it by now, and you’d all be dead. So trust me when I say that I’ve got it.”

    Clueless looked up at the symbol on the door, expertly deactivated as it was.

    “Not bad.” The bladesinger said as they swung the door inward.

    No sooner had the door opened then they were nearly incapacitated with an overwhelming stench of blood and decay that rolled in a nauseating wave from out of the dimly lit interior of the tower.

    Fyrehowl winced and tried to cover her nose, more sensitive than the others. Tears streamed down from her eyes as the cloying reek washed over them all.

    “Oh gods…” Florian said, gagging. “What the hell is that?”

    Tristol snapped his fingers and conjured a glowing ball of light in the center of the tower’s interior as they cautiously moved within, fighting the acrid stench. They stepped into a charnel house.

    “What the…” Skalliska openly wondered as the light of Tristol’s spell illuminated the source of the smell.

    The tower was hollow, with no stairs leading up or down, though high above, near the top of the tower’s interior, a stable platform seemed to hover in place. From that platform, something shed a pale silvery light down to illuminate the raw, pitted and petrified godflesh of Maanzecorian, a half dozen mangled githyanki corpses, and the walls…

    Nearly every inch of the interior of the tower was covered in blood and spattered gore. The walls of the tower were literally painted in a mixture of what appeared to be the blood of the defiled, mangled githyanki corpses and ink, all of it scrawled into bizarre patterns across the exposed walls. Bloody Rakshasa footprints traced across the floor in trails between the bodies, body parts, and the walls, as if the githyanki had been kept alive and made to witness before more ‘ink’ was required, thus precipitating their slaughter, one by one.

    Nisha made to throw up, Tristol whispered a prayer to Mystra, and even Toras paled as they took in the full scope of it all, what was there, shielding the corpse of Maanzecorian from all prying eyes.

    The carnage wasn’t random, not in the least. The wash of blood that coated the walls in a sticky, rotting patina on a metal canvas was actually formed of individual letters. Infernal, Abyssal, and even some Draconic runes, they raced in mad, swirling patterns across the walls. Collections of the smallest runes, themselves minuscule, in turn formed larger glyphs, and those formed words. A bizarre litany of poetry, its component letters forming a massive collection of disturbingly intricate wardings of frightening potency, it danced and cavorted across the walls, written in blood and gore from the castaway bodies of the githyanki.

    A spattering of bile might form the letters to a series of spells, the sentences curled and twisted with a length of viscera, blood and bits of liver, to form the portion of a larger letter in a higher order object, it then forming the start of a word in a mocking, repetitious poem. There were at least 4 separate orders of spells, poetry, and abstract patterns that decorated the walls in mad progression. The dead Githyanki were tossed like refuse on the floor, discarded bottles of ink or paint, garbage left in the wake of an artist; but their hollow eyes, those who still had eyes, were all positioned to look up upon what their deaths had created.


    In the face of the Tsunami I spit with my last dying breath and curse the divine.
    Forsaken, I spill my lifeblood to spill yours, oh Maanzecorian.
    I dance upon your grave, and sh*t upon your tomb.
    Belief can be shattered, and so can you.
    Your body our bread, your ichor our wine, suffer death to not come unto you, for such is our kingdom, Oh Maanzecorian.
    I laugh at your fall oh Maanzecorian, brought low by the dead to join them.
    By your death another ascended, but indignity does not end there oh keeper of dark and hidden things.
    Stripped of your riches and plundered of your essence, I laugh and I dance.
    I sing and I shudder.
    Bare wide the gates of your hell, for you are not alone in your fall, Oh Maanzecorian.



    ***
    Last edited by Shemeska; Monday, 18th July, 2005 at 06:13 AM.

  • #963
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    And now begins the joke: "Bad poetry."
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  • #964
    Damn, the last part is pretty disgusting... I wonder what the poem or whatever it was means? Guess we'll find out sooner or later.

  • #965
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    Disguisting?... We're not done yet. It gets worse as you realize just what was done there... I think Shemmie has managed to squick players not used to his style at a gameday once. The party started to get really... flippant and sassy over a few years in response to this sort of stuff, out of self defense. If you've not read the Baern story of the Blind Clockmaker yet...
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  • #966
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    Jeeze have we finally gotten to the first of these things?

    Dang it haven't those loth's heard of using INK?!

  • #967
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerzel
    Jeeze have we finally gotten to the first of these things?

    Dang it haven't those loth's heard of using INK?!
    Nah! Ink's no good when you need to take a quick drink break while writing
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  • #968
    Quote Originally Posted by Clueless
    Disguisting?... We're not done yet. It gets worse as you realize just what was done there... I think Shemmie has managed to squick players not used to his style at a gameday once. The party started to get really... flippant and sassy over a few years in response to this sort of stuff, out of self defense. If you've not read the Baern story of the Blind Clockmaker yet...
    Just as a warning to anyone who hasn't read it yet, it does contain some spoilers for the storyhour and it is one of the more graphic pieces of fiction that I've read.

    Brilliant, but evil dosen't even begin to describe the Clockmaker; I really don't think that Shemmy was lying when he said that it brought some of the party to the verge of tears.
    "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

  • #969
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zuoken
    Just as a warning to anyone who hasn't read it yet, it does contain some spoilers for the storyhour and it is one of the more graphic pieces of fiction that I've read.

    Brilliant, but evil dosen't even begin to describe the Clockmaker; I really don't think that Shemmy was lying when he said that it brought some of the party to the verge of tears.
    I don't pull punches when describing things.

    I don't go out of my way for disturbing descriptions simply for their own sake, but when it's appropriate to hammer a point, I will. It's not a pervasive thing, but there are instances where it simply gets intense. But don't worry, there's no slippage into 'BoVD type gross and icky being used as a substitute for evil'.

    I've got the fingerpainting of the tower interior scene also written up from the perspective of the githyanki victims, but it isn't likely to become part of the storyhour outside of other reasons, simply because it takes a giths' silver sword to the Eric's Gramma rule more than I'm willing to chop.

  • #970
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    Send that to me at email plz? I'm sorta curious.
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