Kid Charlemagne's Story Hour, Pt II

Matchstick

Adventurer
They move up on that position cautiously. They watch the gravedigger for a while, as he finishes one grave, dumps a body in, and starts work on the next grave. Jovah’s eyes go wide suddenly, as he sees a hand reach up out of that first grave, and begin to climb out, reaching towards the gravedigger!

But before he can yell out in warning, the gravedigger casually turns his head, sees the approaching undead, and whacks it over the head with his shovel, sending it reeling back into the open grave.

“I said stay down, you idiot creature!” he yells, sounding more like he’s scolding a bad puppy than rebuking the undying.

The party isn’t quite sure how to take this. They decide to make themselves known, in hopes that this fellow isn’t all bad.

The gravedigger takes their approach in stride. He seems to not be much disturbed by anything. He introduces himself as Briggs, the caretaker of this section of The Boneyard, as he calls it.

“Umm, those are undead,” Brennen points out, indicating the bodies.

“They’re all undead,” Briggs says, indicating the cemetary with a sweeping gesture.

“Isn’t it dangerous being out here at night?” Gavin asks, getting a uncomprehending look in return.

“Uh Gavin,” Jovah says, “I’ve been watching that sunset. We’ve been here for around an hour, and the light hasn’t changed at all.”

“S’always like that,” Briggs says, starting his third grave. “But the dead don’t bother folk much ‘round the gates. Still, someone needs to come here and bury them, or else they’d overrun the place.”

“What do you mean?” asks Reana.

“This is no place like your world,” Briggs says. “It’s The Boneyard. All the dead from the material plane who aren’t buried properly, or left out to die, come here. If they’re not buried properly here, they rise as walking dead. New ‘uns show up all the time, and someone’s got to bury them. Not a great job, but it’s a job. Good jobs ain’t easy to find ‘round these parts,” he adds with a conspiratorial whisper.

LOL! What a great place, and a great description! It's a demiplane, or another plane right? Is that a +3 Shovel of Undead Subdual? :)

With different rulers of different parts of Mortimus (good name BTW) there could be all sorts of politics going on, maybe even wars!

If there's only one post to go til we're caught up, I don't know how the party could NOT be in the middle of something. Maybe it was more than one post. There's gotta be some pretty big stuff in this place.

A Vecna fan eh? Bet there's some good stories there, especially since it sounds like that was the players' immediate thought.
 

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Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Matchstick said:
LOL! What a great place, and a great description! It's a demiplane, or another plane right? Is that a +3 Shovel of Undead Subdual

I use a somewhat different planar cosmology - one which the players really don't have much info on. The Great Graveyard is a place on the Edge of Hell, as the PC's understand it. It probably also has some connection to the Plane of Shadow. Somewhere in that cemetary is likely to be a permanent Gate to Hell itself. I wouldn't want to go looking for it, though.

And I'm trying to break my Vecna habit, really I am. ;D
 

Grifter86

First Post
Hey all,

Let me just say I love this game you run. The plot is very compelling and I can't get enough of it, man.

With that out of the way: So, you guys game in Chicago, eh?

Do any of you frequent Games Plus in fair Mount Prospect?

Once again, great story hour!
 

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Grifter86 said:
With that out of the way: So, you guys game in Chicago, eh?

Do any of you frequent Games Plus in fair Mount Prospect?

I buy most of my stuff from Games Plus - its hands down the best store in Chicago, one of the best I've ever been to, anywhere. Unfortunately, the competition in Chicago is pretty weak.

Once again, great story hour!

Thanks!
 

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Jovah said:


We did manage to pick up a few of the Lighting Javelins.
Might be important later in the story.

Yes; I had forgotten to mention that. Also, Gavin pointed out that various party members got neat-o gifts from the Ralt Gaitherese to reward them for their help in this. Gavin got one of those frowny samurai masks... all the things were quite valuable, but not magical, as I recall.

I'll have the last couple posts up soon! Things are busier than normal so I haven't had the time to work on it the last couple of days...

[EDIT] I also realized that in the description of the fight at the Song-Ling Monastery, I neglected to point out that the bookish mage-Loraxite was destroyed as well.
 
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Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Mortimus, just outside the Great Graveyard, exact location unknown, presumed February 10th, AE 420

The party follows Briggs back to Mortimus, leaving the Boneyard by a small makeshift gate. Briggs gives Jalea some pointeres on where to go and who to talk to, and he and Reana take off to gather up some info on Sharat and the Loraxites location. The others go with Briggs to a tavern to wait, and buy Briggs dinner in thanks for his help.

Mortimus is a town of several thousand people, of various apparent ethnicities, with the occasional strange standout amongst them. The chief business of the town appears to be alchemy; specifically the growing, distilling, and packaging of anything related to the dead. Briggs explains that many wizards find that there are certain items that can only be gotten in a place like Mortimus, where the entire economy is based off of their one main resource: dead bodies. Briggs doesn’t like this much; apparently dismembering bodies for parts in this way allows their spirits to escape, and they become insubstantial undead of varying types.

“Can’t very well bury a ghost or a shadow,” he says.

Jalea and Reana return after a couple of hours, and inform the others that they have a reasonably good idea where Sharat’s lair is. It’s probably a good day’s travel through the Boneyard. Briggs wants no part of leading them that far into the land of the dead, and the party thanks him again for his help, and return to the vast cemetary.

They proceed with caution. They pass endless mausoleums and countless gravesites, occasionally seeing, and for the most part avoiding, packs of ghouls and the occasional zombie or skeleton. After long travel they locate what appears to be the place described to Jalea and Reana. It’s a huge structure, of a strange, foreign design. It measures perhaps three hundred feet on a side, and is three stories tall, with towers that reach higher in places. It is covered with carvings and decorations, almost entirely of frowning and scowling faces, some as large as twenty feet tall. It is surrounded by a wide stone plaza, and has entrances in each of its four sides.

“Let’s try the roof,” Jalea says, and they sneak up closer to the building.

As they approach near the building Reana spots something moving on the roof, and alerts the group. She, Jalea, and Gavin all fire on the silhouetted form, and all three connect, some multiple times. The thing slumps and stops moving. Jalea climbs up the wall, and lowers a rope for the others. Once they get up to the top, they see that their target was another ghoul. They also can see the layout of the builidng much better; it consists of an immense central building, three hundred feet long and one hundred feet wide, with two courtyards on each side of the central building. The courtyards are surrounded by balconies. There are a multitude of ways into the place from here.

“I say we just start with the center, and work our way out if we need to,” Gavin says, and the others agree. They lower themselves onto a balcony off the main structure…

…Meanwhile…

Time has been difficult for Aris to judge over the past day (or has it been more than that?). The Shadow Dragon has deposited the proud bladesinger (minus arms and armor, and spell components, of course) in a large gilded birdcage that hangs by a chain from the ceiling of an immense Hall. Dimly lit lanterns illuminate this Hall, which Aris guesses to be a hundred yard or more in length, lined with tall pillars, and a balcony that stretches all around the second floor. The lanterns seem set in place not to provide illumination so much as to accentuate the shadows in this place. He’s endured some taunting from the warrior-Loraxite, whose name he has found out is Nagron. Sharat slinks around the place as well, occasionally coming by to examine his captive, and then slithering down a great, twenty foot wide hole in the center of the floor to some unknown place where he seems to spend his time.

He hasn’t seen Batista since they arrived here.

The cage is strong, and Aris is not a physically powerful elf. He has tried to force the cage, but had little luck. For the time being, he has resigned himself to being a hostage, to be traded for the Egg.

“I hope they’re smart enough to know not to do that…” he thinks to himself.

“Pssst!”

Aris looks around for the source of the noise, and suddenly looks up to see Jalea, hanging from the chain connecting the cage to the ceiling.

“Jalea!” Aris whispers back excitedly. “I have never been so glad to see you in my life!”

“Fine then,” Jalea says. “Maybe I’ll just leave you there, if that’s how you feel!”

“Don’t be silly! Get me out of here! Have you seen my stuff?”

“One miracle at a time, sheesh! We just got here. Where’s Batista?”

“I don’t know… We were seperated.”

Jalea swiftly picks the lock on the cage, releasing Aris, and they use Jalea’s rope to let themselves down to the floor, thirty feet below. Brennen, Jovah, Gavin, and Reana are waiting there. Gavin tosses Aris a javelin.

“A javelin? I don’t think I even know how to throw one of these…”

“Don’t worry,” Gavin says. “They’re cool.”

Jovah signals for quiet. “There’s something magic over towards that hole over there, coming this way.. oh hell.”

The telltale blur of the Loraxite’s invisibility alerts them to Nagron’s presence just before he lays into Brennen with multiple sword strokes. They return blows, and the Loraxite retreats after taking several hits. Aris chucks his javelin at the Loraxite, and connects, discharging a massive bolt of electricity into the vampire’s body.

“See? I told you” Gavin says.

“Be careful!” Aris replies, “Sharat is around here, and he’s practically invisible in all these shadows!”

But its too late. The Dragon appears out of practically nowhere, unseen and unheard, and a cloud of black chilling smoke issues forth from his maw. Everyone feels their strength ebbing, although Gavin is far enough back to avoid being in the blast.

2e Shadow Dragons have a breath weapon that drains levels, even on a made save. Everyone saved, but they were still weakened.

…Meanwhile…

Batista is stirred from fitful sleep by the sounds of a fight somewhere nearby. He’s been locked up in a cell with about thirty other folk for the past day or two. He lightly touches the two bite marks on his neck, and shudders.

“They’ve finally come to save me!” he thinks, and rushes to the cell door. He’s in a large chamber that stretches out for as far as he can see. Heavy pillars hold up the ceiling, spaced about fifteen feet apart. There are a few lanterns here and there, but they don’t give much light.

Batista rattles the cage door. He has the strength in him for maybe one try at busting it, and he wants to make sure it’s a good try. He looks around for anything to help him, and his eyes rest on of his fellow captives.

“Hey, you! Come here!”

The prisoner looks up, and slowly shuffles over to the half-elf. Batista suddenly grabs him by the collar and drives his head into the cage door! The cage breaks open, and the prisoner falls to the floor, blood gushing from where his skull hit the lock.

“Sorry about that!” Batista yells, not very sincerely, as he runs out into the low-ceilinged room.

Back upstairs, Brennen and Reana have engaged the Dragon. Gavin tosses his javelin of lightning at Nagron, and the Loraxite goes down. With the Dragon at hand though, no one has the chance to stake him.

Gavin fumbles through his backpack, and pulls out a small bottle of greenish liquid.

“I’ve been saving this,” he says, and drinks it down, suddenly growing in size to about sixteen feet tall. He turns and charges the Dragon, getting a swipe in on the creature. Sharat does not think much of these odds, and turns and dives into the hole in the floor, slinking quickly away into the shadows.

Brennen, Jalea, and Reana jump down into the hole. Gavin looks in, and realizes the ceilings down there are only about nine feet tall.

“Aaargghhh!” he yells.

Aris and Jovah leap down into the hole, leaving Gavin upstairs, too large to fit effectively into the downstairs area.

Meanwhile, Batista is making his way around the edges of this huge chamber. He stops when he hears the sounds of something clinking underfoot. He grabs a lantern off a nearby pillar, and turns it on the area so he can see. Gold pieces litter the ground, and a number of very valuable items – pearl necklaces, gems, and so on – are also arranged in an area in the corner of the chamber. His and Aris’ weapons are here as well.

“Wow…” he says.

Then he hears the sound of something breathing, just behind him. He turns and finds himself face-to-face with Sharat, the Shadow Dragon. The Dragon smiles, wickedly, and whispers a swift incantation. Batista find himself unable to look away from the creature’s eyes, it’s hypnotizing, mesmerizing eyes…

Back at the opening into the basement chamber, the party has spread out so that they can’t all get caught in another lifeforce-draining blast from Sharat. Aris sees light moving, coming his way. As it gets closer, he sees that it is Batista. He is running towards the party, and he has Aris’ flameblade in his hand, lit. He bears one of his own scimitars in the other hand

“Batista! Thanks god you’re okay!” Aris exclaims, “Uh, Batista?”

Batista makes no signs of stopping. He readies the flameblade as he charges directly towards Aris.

“Yaaaaahhhh!” the Ranger screams.

Aris has no time to react. He is still badly injured from the fight at the Song-Ling Monastery, and he is unarmored and weaponless. He reacts with the only spell he has that doesn’t require his still unlocated component bag, burning hands.

Batista goes down in a heap. Aris runs over to his side, and checks his pulse.

There is none.

“Oh no,” the elf wails. Just then, Sharat returns, with a quick hit and run attack on Brennen, on the other side of the area just under the entry hole. He hits, and retreats into the darkness. Reana, Brennen, and Jovah move over to join Aris to face off against the beast, staying spread wide enough to avoid his debilitating breath. Aris recovers his flameblade, and hears the Dragon mockingly whispering another incantation.

“He’s casting a … oh no…” The Bladesinger’s heart sinks.

“…Aris,” an emotionless voice intones from behind them. Aris turns, as Batista pulls himself up to his feet. He is badly burned, and he shuffles towards his old protector, scimitar in hand. Aris’ flameblade burns brighter, like it only does when the Bladesinger is facing the undead.

“I’m sorry, Batista,” the elf says, as he strikes down his friend yet again.

Just then, the Dragon charges with a deafening roar. He starts from the opposite side of the area under the entry hole, and barrels forward towards the weakened party. Jalea looses an arrow, and Reana and Sir Brennen prepare to face its attack.

Just as it crosses beneath the entry hole, they hear a cry from above them. Gavin has been waiting for seemingly forever to see what is going on below, and when the Dragon charges under the hole, he takes his sword, holds the point down, and leaps into the hole, and right onto Sharat’s back, plunging his twelve foot long sword into the Dragon’s sinewy neck, pinning it to the floor like a hundred foot long butterfly.

Sharat twitches once, then twice, and then dies.
 
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Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Fencig, February 12th, AE 420

The party recovered Sharat’s treasure, Batista’s body, and Aris and Batista’s equipment, and returned to Fencig without any trouble. They’re still in shock over Batista’s death, especially Aris.

“Buck up, Aris,” Jovah says. “We’re not done yet. We need to get the Egg hidden away.”

He produces the diamond that Janketh gave him, and using the image of the forested island it gives him, casts dimensional folding. A portal opens to the beach of the island.

“Alright,” Aris says. “Who’s coming with me?”

“No one,” Jovah says. “Like Janketh said, the fewer who know, the better. I’ll open another portal tomorrow at ths time.”

Aris gulps, and nods. He steps through the portal and onto the beach.

The wind is bitingly cold, and Aris pulls his green-dragonskin cloak tightly around him to stay warm. The island is covered in a light dusting of snow, and is forested in pine trees. It seems later in the day here than it was in Fencig. The Bladesinger looks around, and sees that there is no other land in sight of this place. Then, he notices a lean-to built just at the edge of the trees and beach. He loosens his sword in its sheath and approaches the lean-to.

A cloaked figure sits in the small shelter, cooking something in a pot over a small fire.

“Care for some stew, Aris?”

“Vershanion?” Aris asks. “What are you doing here?”

“Janketh came to me in a vision, and asked me to prepare this place for the Egg. It’s very out of the way; there is a dungeon here that me and some friends of mine cleared out over a hundred years ago. I thought it would make a good hiding place. I’ve been here for a while, fixing things, making traps and snares, resetting the traps that exist in the dungeon.”

“Vershanion… Batista is dead.”

“I know. Janketh told me.”

“I killed him. Twice. Tolaro wanted me to protect him, and I killed him."

“There’s nothing else you could have done,” Vershanion replies. “Batista was able to avenge his mother’s death, with your help. That’s all he ever really wanted out of life. He never seemed to fully fit, no matter where he went. I’m certain he’s in a better place now. He has a place where he truly belongs. Don’t be sad.”

Aris fights back tears. Vershanion throws his cloak on, and gets ready to trek into the woods.

“Let’s get going. I’d like to be back by nightfall.”

“Yeah,” Aris says. “Wait a minute…”

He rummages through his pack, and pulls out the velvet bag he has been keeping the Egg in. He holds it out to Vershanion.

“Jovah is right. We need to keep this knowledge in the minds of as few people as possible. You take it, and hide it, that way no one will be able to make me tell them again.”

“And if I don’t know, then even if the Egg has a hold on me, I won’t be able to find it either,” he thinks to himself.

Vershanion takes the velvet bag, and opens it, looking at the jade Egg, with its beautifully carved gold dragon coiled around it. He closes the drawstring on the bag, and stuffs into his rucksack, and then jogs away, into the woods.

Aris sits on the beach, and helps himself to a bit of Vershanion’s stew. He sits there, silently, for hours, until just as it is getting dark, he hears Vershanion approaching.

“It is done,” the druid-ranger says.

“Jovah will fold us back to civilization in the morning,” Aris replies. “Thank you for all you’ve done.”

The next morning is clear and bright, with no wind at all. Just as the sun rises, a portal opens up on the beach, where Vershanion and Aris are waiting. They step through, into the firelit warmth of Jovah’s drawing room.

“Welcome back,” Reana says.

The portal snaps shut, and the beach is empty again, as seagulls fly above, without any care, without knowing the dangerous evil that is hidden on their anonymous, small island.

THE END
 
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Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Tuerny said:
Cool. :)
So what is the next chapter going to be about?

Initially, the party's plan is see if anything can be done about Arlen Kentfield, the demon-worshipping nobleman from Ulfang who ran Jalea out of town, and who has some apparent connection with the Sahuagin, as well as the disappearance of many, many prisoners of war during the 415-416 Siege of Ulfang.

He's becoming more powerful in Ulfang, and the party doesn't much like the way that Evil forces are gaining footholds in important cities in the area.

Then of course, there is Elros Ekozius, the 800-pound gorilla of Ghithor, who is still running around, very capable of causing a lot of trouble. I just converted him to 3e not long ago... :)

As I told my players, converting him added a lot of hit points to his total. I described it thus, "He added practically a whole Reana to his hit points."

Reana is a 9th level Ranger with 62 HP.

But really, this next portion is going to be very open-ended. The players will drive the direction of the game for at least the first several months, and I'll see where things seem headed and work in the directions that the characters point me.

At some point in the future (probably a year off, I'd guess) we're thinking about creating new, 1st level characters, still in the same world.
 

Lazybones

Adventurer
Great! Looking forward to the continuation of the story, in 3e (I don't have to wear those funny glasses, right?)

I think I've said it before, but your world seems very well realized, and it's easy for the reader to be drawn into the epic sweep of events that you describe. Plus your player-DM dynamic is great (with just the perfect touch of wry bitterness on the part of the players ;) ).

Game on!
 

Matchstick

Adventurer
Gavin fumbles through his backpack, and pulls out a small bottle of greenish liquid.

“I’ve been saving this,” he says, and drinks it down, suddenly growing in size to about sixteen feet tall. He turns and charges the Dragon, getting a swipe in on the creature. Sharat does not think much of these odds, and turns and dives into the hole in the floor, slinking quickly away into the shadows.

Brennen, Jalea, and Reana jump down into the hole. Gavin looks in, and realizes the ceilings down there are only about nine feet tall.

“Aaargghhh!” he yells.

You know, that was almost cruel. He had probably been waiting forever for just the right moment! I'd love to hear what he was thinking at that point!

Aris has no time to react. He is still badly injured from the fight at the Song-Ling Monastery, and he is unarmored and weaponless. He reacts with the only spell he has that doesn’t require his still unlocated component bag, burning hands.

Batista goes down in a heap. Aris runs over to his side, and checks his pulse.

There is none.

“Oh no,” the elf wails. Just then, Sharat returns, with a quick hit and run attack on Brennen, on the other side of the area just under the entry hole. He hits, and retreats into the darkness. Reana, Brennen, and Jovah move over to join Aris to face off against the beast, staying spread wide enough to avoid his debilitating breath. Aris recovers his flameblade, and hears the Dragon mockingly whispering another incantation.

“He’s casting a … oh no…” The Bladesinger’s heart sinks.

“…Aris,” an emotionless voice intones from behind them. Aris turns, as Batista pulls himself up to his feet. He is badly burned, and he shuffles towards his old protector, scimitar in hand. Aris’ flameblade burns brighter, like it only does when the Bladesinger is facing the undead.

“I’m sorry, Batista,” the elf says, as he strikes down his friend yet again.

Hello, and welcome to Guilt, IL. Population: Aris. Jeez, that guy's got so much guilt I'm surprised he hasn't had a total breakdown!

Just as it crosses beneath the entry hole, they hear a cry from above them. Gavin has been waiting for seemingly forever to see what is going on below, and when the Dragon charges under the hole, he takes his sword, holds the point down, and leaps into the hole, and right onto Sharat’s back, plunging his twelve foot long sword into the Dragon’s sinewy neck, pinning it to the floor like a hundred foot long butterfly.

Sharat twitches once, then twice, and then dies.

Oh HELL yeah. Great idea, great execution, great description here in the story hour (LOVE the butterfly thing), and a great moment. How did you handle this in game? There's no wrong answer as far as I'm concerned, as a DM I would have just seen the inherent coolness of the move and let it happen with maybe one roll to hit or something. Wow wow wow!

But really, this next portion is going to be very open-ended. The players will drive the direction of the game for at least the first several months, and I'll see where things seem headed and work in the directions that the characters point me.

Most times, I think that's the best way to go, though the players have to be pretty self motivated.

I wish you all the best of times on Sunday. Don't worry about the Story Hour, just have a good time and post it when you get a chance.

I'd be interested in hearing from the players whether or not they feel their play style is affected by them knowing they're going to be in a story hour.

Have a great time!
 

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Oh HELL yeah. Great idea, great execution, great description here in the story hour (LOVE the butterfly thing), and a great moment. How did you handle this in game? There's no wrong answer as far as I'm concerned, as a DM I would have just seen the inherent coolness of the move and let it happen with maybe one roll to hit or something. Wow wow wow!


Gavin had been waiting up there for his chance to do ANYTHING, so when Sharat went under him, he just jumped on it, so to speak. He rolled a good hit (tough in itsefl, as Sharat's AC was -10 in 2e terms), and then near max damage. I think it was something like 30 or more points.
 

Jovah

First Post
poer batista...sniff

Kid Charlemagne said:
…Meanwhile…

Batista is stirred from fitful sleep by the sounds of a fight somewhere nearby. He’s been locked up in a cell with about thirty other folk for the past day or two. He lightly touches the two bite marks on his neck, and shudders.

The prisoner looks up, and slowly shuffles over to the half-elf. Batista suddenly grabs him by the collar and drives his head into the cage door! The cage breaks open, and the prisoner falls to the floor, blood gushing from where his skull hit the lock.

Batista was sure he was a "vamp waiting to happen. He also thought the other prisoners were "unsave-able".

The Dragon smiles, wickedly, and whispers a swift incantation. Batista find himself unable to look away from the creature’s eyes, it’s hypnotizing, mesmerizing eyes…
Batista is running towards the party, and he has Aris’ flameblade in his hand, lit. “Yaaaaahhhh!”

Aris has no time to react. He is still badly injured -burning hands.

Batista goes down in a heap.

I did not know how many hit points Batista had after his incarceration. When he crumpled there was both agony and relief.

It still was pretty shocking- we had not had a character die in quite a while.
BTW- in Crystalmarch there are only a two Priesthoods that can cast Raise Dead so Batista is not coming back. Unless Kid C has some nefarious plan -- Loraxite Batista ... shudder.
 
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Jovah

First Post
Just in case the readers did not catch it....

The last Loraxite was not staked. We zapped him pretty good, but then Sharat came and took all our attention. We never found the last Loraxite.
Plus Loraxus is still around in her grave somewhere.
 

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Jovah said:
Just in case the readers did not catch it....

The last Loraxite was not staked. We zapped him pretty good, but then Sharat came and took all our attention. We never found the last Loraxite.

Yikes! I had forgotten that - I just went back and edited the Story to reflect this... Thats what I get for waiting two years to write this stuff down...!
 


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