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The One True Game: According to Hoyle, and Others


Fastday, Juna 13
Reverend Father Harthuul Stauk-Flezr

Officium Praemonere

De Jure Fanum


It is with a glad heart on this glorious day that I write to tell you of my increased learning and station within the temple. Tomorrow is Holyday once more and before I leave once again to join with my fellow militia I will be raised to Adept status by a new mentor of mine (but only my temporary teacher, of course) by the name of Father Hedrich. With goodly faith and gentle kindness he has steered my studies in religious affairs over this past week. In but seven days my thinking is more assured, my faith more resolute. Reading, meditation, and constant prayer have helped to focus my energies and mind into a perspicacity otherwise unknown.

A clerk in the father’s service, (Fr. Hedrach’s station is unknown to me still as yet) has helped me as well. Named Brother Thom, though his own studies are less achieving than my own, he meditated beside me whilst I gasped in shock at my ownunencumbered revelations. Of these I explain in length at the bottom of this scroll. Their importance is for you to decide. I simply wish to impart all the happiness I do now feel into this letter, though my knees have blistered and I my body weakens from fasting.

A newfound power of prayer has manifested through me. Though I have not but heard the power of such divine intention, I do plan on testing each out when proper situations arise. Some of these are of a nature which alter my own sight when used, but others do infuse me with the power to help others or myself when in need. For instance, I believe I can now, with proper preparation, scan both objects and creatures for magical auras or evil intentions. In addition, when infusing myself with divine power I can now channel it to heal the wounds of the sick and lame, purify the waters and edibles I touch, and even sanctify my own skin less I am attacked by otherworldly creatures. Lastly, but not least, the light of the divine can shine through when called as a torch in the darkness.

Unfortunately, in truth, my report for you is one of mixed blessings. Many events have occurred in but the few weeks which have passed since my last writing. Due to the proclivity of time, distance, and tumultuous state of affairs affecting all of County Margrave my patient mind is unworried about not receiving a letter of your own in reply to my first note. It was but a scribble now that I think back on it which may or may not have included overly much information not meant for what prying eyes may lurk in its delivery path. Let me instead take up where I last left off with a quick summary of notable events.

Fear not, however, that I and my band of County militia explorers are beset upon from all sides and by every enemy of which I first detailed. The army camp still encircles our tower which has improved repairs however slightly over the past days. The Giant has not returned and thankfully there are no new deaths to report either, though there have been some close calls. My newly made friends and I have been spelunking nearly every day since Elion the Elf arrived. It is only since a large storm has begun pummeling Outpost Xavier for the past two weeks that spirits have begun to sink. This reminds me. It is highly odd that in one week's training time at temple in Keep Margrave no raiin has fallen here day or night. And while most of my time has been spent within sanctum, the minutes I do catch fresh air outdoors I can see the storm clouds gathered to the east us. It is almost as if the tower itself has pinned this storm in place.

Moving on, if you recall we slid the throne of the ancient wizard Zelligar aside only to find a rune inlaid tunnel. That tunnel lead to a store room of such stock that we have been delighting in its wealth ever since. Though the room collapsed from some unforeseen consequence, all goods therein were saved. Other caves below the halls of Quesquaton were explored in length as well. Many beasts attacked us during, of which I name kobolds among them, gargantuan spiders as high as the ceiling, and as many bats in one antre as stars in the sky.

There was one more foe however. Even as I write this now I can feel the cold, clammy, hand of fear creep up my spine. For the foulest of battles was against not a creature at all. Or, at least, not a creature of any like rumored before. It is thanks to our leader Darius, the dwarf of the eastern mountains, that I am alive to write to you today. Though many times in battle we have saved each other’s lives, this was the threat of but one red rock having crept invisibly into my mind. I heard a voice cruel and contemptuous speaking in a tongue I did not know and dare not now recall. It is a violation of my soul I speak of and nothing less. Forever after that attack I have felt as innocence lost. And as if some great shield was now missing from the innermost regions of my mind.

You well know the story of how I came into the faith and temple. The vagarious voices I heard while a youth have not returned. On my honor this was not one I heard before. It spoke with malice unlike any noise I have ever heard. As well, this time there was no horse to fall from or rock to hit my head against. Though tough I do not believe it was a rock at all, but perhaps the talon of a god left within the stone. Be it demon or other, it was not divine, but surely of evil nature. I fear your experiment with me may have failed. Perhaps it would be best for me to return to your temple away from others once again. Though the threat is great here, I fear I may only add to it. As before, I acquiesce to your own judgment in this matter.

You should know our explorations continued even with the attack. We found a tunnel or geyser leading to the surrounding forest around the outpost. And though it has been sometime, I believe none of our number still know of a path to and from each. In the vale below we discovered a creature of the forest called a “dryad”. A rather flighty young woman she lost her tree and her cougar, a creature somewhat like a grimalkin, to an orc attack we stopped. She seems to have taken on with a new animal; a rather large brown bear. Do not fear, but it struck me strongly and squarely in anger and I was bedridden for five days after. No other attack was near so deadly to my health, but I promise you not to be near so foolish around such strength again.

There is another, perhaps more grave matter I must impart. The dead have risen in the halls of Quesquaton. While I did not think on it at first with the bandaged creature in the pool room, thoughts came swiftly back when the bodies of our dead arose to combat us once again. This fight was even more difficult as kobold and rat swarmed over our small band. Every member conducted themselves with heroism. Standing out amongst these includes our cook, one Eigor of Margrave. Paralyzed in fear of the unholy abomination he yet came to our aid helping to save those who otherwise would have fallen. Our corporal Dalin Hoyle also stood (and many times I might add) with a pox from vile corpse-rats coursing through his blood to turn back the tide of battle that day. It is true brave men are bravest when no crowd looks on to see. And the truth is our lives were worth the unseen victory.

Sometime during all these events the Elf Elion related to us the importance of Quesquaton. It was quite a story of how the tower was the first founding site of Margrave County. It is also of military importance, but the whys of such were never expressed. Most of the books and items we have discovered in that place have been put back within for safe keeping. And though I believe the fame of our finding the halls has increased my paranoia of the others, the religious works I have been studying from will be returned there shortly too. It is these precautions and odd silences which have me worried. If only Elion or our own leader would trust us with greater information. But these are only a few of the peculiarities I have noticed. Here is the list of ponderances I mentioned:

1. It is my understanding that the Lord of Margrave has lead the army of same into battle north and east of the mountains. But my life as a humble servant hid me from such news prior to my enlistment. What was this great victory our Lord won? And over whom did he win it? I have heard Elion speak of the "enemies of the free people", but I do not really know whom he means.

2. Brother Thom here has mentioned that Lady Devereaux, the current Castellan of the Keep and as I am sure you know the acting authority in Lord Margrave's absence, was only a captain at same keep some months ago. Thom does not know who the previous castellan was, but it may be important to learn what happened to him. Or her, perhaps.

3. Upon our original exploration of the Quesquaton halls we found many dead human bodies. Given the decomposition of the bodies they appeared to me to have been dead for several decades. Who were they though? Could they have been working for the wizard or warrior who lived there? Perhaps you know the history of the place or a sage who does? Was force ever brought to bear by humans on this place?

4. Within one of the pools was a wrapped figure with a red ruby necklace. The wisewoman Kayla has that ruby now and I must admit I do not entirely trust her. It is my belief she is studying this Zelligar's writings to become a sorcerer the same as was he. Given one of our theories for the fall of Quesquaton is Zelligar's turn to madness, this rebirth of magic into our land would be anathema. Could the wrapped figure have been the dead wizard? Or perhaps the warrior Rohgan? I do not know, but the gem did glow perhaps causing the creature's reanimation. Is it possible the red of the wax statues we found in the caves below and the red pulsing demon-rock are all connected somehow? It should be remembered, the bone case with the two unholy scrolls were found in the same pool as the corpse. It is puzzle which still eludes me.

5. The rooms of Zelligar as I mentioned in the previous letter were cleaned by unnatural means. Many items were found within his chambers including: a giant-sized cloak twice the height of a man, slippers of normal size, what I believe were petrified bodies in some macabre museum, and of course, the books of his library. Not all of these books have been returned for safe keeping I might add. I should make note to ask the others where each is. My suspicions are that Kayla has discovered the diabolists personal notes within the pages she carries. If not for the pure heart of our paladin leader who converses with her privately and frequently, I would have cast allegations against her already. For her safety as well as ours, of course.

6. Of other items we found there is little to tell. From what I can remember for your own benefit, three dwarven longswords were discovered and split up amongst our hardiest warriors. Though Darius still uses his hammer I seem to recall him recognizing the brand on each blade. It is of an anvil with two hammers crossed above. Doubled honor over honor, if I have down my heraldry right. The only other item of regard was the torch we found having fallen out of the "portal" in the red rock room. After much contemplation I have deduced that it is the one and same torch previously lit and dropped into the pool room's inky pit upon our first exploration.

It has been some time since I have talked with you Father and it saddens me to know not when it will happen again. I miss the order and security of our temple home. The well known faces I saw every day are now only seen in dreams. Distressingly, it is nightmares which have plagued me of late. For even within the calm elegance of this Keep's temple I do not sleep eagerly. Reoccurring terrors of the that accursed red stone are now haunting me in dreams. Oh, but it is not my wish to end on a sour note. Please pray for me and this band of would-be heroes. And send what help you can. I will endure.

Your Faithful Son,

Brother Ben

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[SBLOCK]Well, life somtimes gets in the way of the fun things. You will be happy to know that I have been able to find some spare time these past couple of months to build up another backlog of posts for the storyhour. Our game has continued too and it has been thrilling. I can't imagine a faster paced game given some of our sessions.

I just wanted you, dear reader, to know before starting again that we will go back to the post-a-day format. But given the eccentricities of life, it may not always be on the day of. But never fear, you will either recieve the daily posts early for planned events, or respectably late in case of emergencies.

It's possible in a few more months another hiatus might be needed. Currently, this is not the plan, but as I said life is adventurous all on its own. Until such a break is needed, there is some truly awesome story to be told. So hold on to your hats ladies and gentleman. We begin again...[/SBLOCK]
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[Session 6]

[DAY 19 – Sunday, Juna 8th, CY 81]
– [DAY 24 – Fastday, Juna 13th, CY 81]

The second week of waiting out the storm was no more successful than the first. Mirel had received many orders throughout the week. Most were the same thing: watch this person, listen in on these two, see what you can learn from the soldiers. She felt responsible for the whole encampment, especially her favorites – those she went down into Quesquaton with. Going over the list in her head she tried to remember everyone’s activities for the week. The soldiers mainly drilled and scouted out in the circle surrounding the tower. The bushes and brambles that lay cut on the sides had been pushed completely away from the tower now. Mirel had helped out with this. Over 100’ of clear space circumscribing Xavier meant no one could sneak up on them. And the pigpole-stuck trench meant attacks could be defended before enemies could reach the walls. Still, the soldiers patrolled out into the edges of the surrounding forest. Igor went with them more often than not. He was the one who she saw least (and it only made sense that he was the one asking her for the most information about others). Spying was such a dirty word.

The outpost militia was still keeping its own watch separate from the soldiers. Mirel knew their faces now as they sometimes were on the same chore duties as she was. She was glad the night watch duty on top the tower was not assigned to her though. That was hard with the constant wind and rain gusting into the open third floor. Another ten of the men were being trained by Dalin to work with polearms and shields. Mirel didn’t much care as she had learned how to use a shield fairly well from him the last time. But it was fun to watch them run into each other. Afterwards Dalin played cards with the men. Mirel thought this must be how he exacted payment for his drill instruction.

Dram was busy, busy, busy. Pounding away with the other smiths in the bottom of the tower you would have thought he was happy lifting his hammer. As if that were not enough, he went hunting with bow and arrow in the woods at dusk each night. Mirel thought this might be how he became so fast and strong. “Very useful”, she thought. “I best keep up on my own chores before they decide to throw me out.”

In the evening she spied on Kayla, though she was already spying for her as well. It wasn’t terribly exciting as Kayla spent all day lounging around reading her books and rarely helping Mirel sweep, or muck the stables, or count the eggs, or cook the food, or any number of things. What was interesting was when she met with people. Darius was often inside questioning her on what she read. Once Mirel heard, “I can’t find anything about this weather at all!” come out of the room. Other times she spotted Kayla sneakily entering into Elion’s tent at night. Darius went with her sometimes too, but Mirel had enough common sense not to listen in. Grown-ups often did strange things at night.

Brother Ben was gone of course, all week to the Keep for training. “Why go through all that work if you’re only going to have more because of it?” thought Mirel. She preferred the life Pendra and Certa lived; only no one had seen them for over two weeks now. On the other side of things was Darius who never stayed in the same place. He was the one Mirel shadowed most of the time as he was always doing something different than before. She had much to keep track of. Sometimes he met with the soldiers, sometimes with the militia, but then there was also Kayla, Elion the Elf, the other troupe members, and even herself. What was he thinking talking to her? Darius was an important person now. It was simply poor manners from him to speak with someone as small as herself.

What he did do regularly was watch his plants in the turned soil along the back wall of the tower. Small buds of green had appeared and they seemed very important to him. “They are just some silly plants from that tree-woman who nearly killed us”, thought Mirel. Darius also spent time examining the map he found in Zelligar’s library. He didn’t think anyone had seen him palm it from the wizard’s desk, but Mirel had ways of not being noticed when she did not want to be. The new map Darius drew was bigger and he would often take it with him when he stared out from the top of the tower into the rainy haze.

On the day before Brother Ben was supposed to come back Darius called all the corporals together at the bottom of the well. Mirel went too. Reports were given and Darius told everyone to expect another day of exploration after Brother Ben returned on the morrow. Afterwards Mirel heard the strangest thing, while she climbed up the well’s side. The others always took the rope up which she felt was too easy. Igor was speaking alone with Darius below. Igor reported having lost all the books he had borrowed from library. He believed it happened while at the Keep when they had traveled there to heal Dalin. Darius asked kept talking asking on about a dagger, but Mirel did not hear him. She was too angry, but made sure to cover her expressions before exiting above. She hated that the wizard Zelligar’s books were “borrowed” by Igor and other others. How would she feel if someone took her favorite broom? She was so angry she didn’t even stop to think of why Igor’s strange new packsack was not taken during that same trip.

diaglo said:
The Storm continues unabated. Morale is holding but strained. No sign of Pendra or Certa. No sign of the orcs, wolves, or Giant. Several of the men complain of problems. Early in the week the infirmary was minimally occupied. Now it is full to overflowing with men. No serious wounds or injuries or diseases, but there are many differing complaints.
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[DAY 25 – Holyday, Juna 14th, CY 81]

Early in the morning, Ben had just finished with his affirmation ceremony at the temple. He packed slowly for his trip back to Outpost Xavier. Stuffing the scroll of healing Father Hedrick had given him as a gift, he reflected upon his learning over the past week. Father Hedrick was a different sort of man than Father Stauk-Flezr who had helped raise Ben since he left his family at the age of sixteen. Father Stauk-Flezr was from foreign lands and to everyone but those in their conclave he seemed quite peculiar. Father Hetrick on the other hand was very reassuring and also quite learned about a variety of religious faiths. Ben had not placed so much of his trust in Father Hedrach however, to relate the story of the pulsing red godnail. He had a suspicion the attack on he and he alone was tied to the reason Ben had entered into temple-life in first place. Still, the old man’s words sounded in his head, “Keep the faith Brother. The Gods watch over you and those in your charge.”

Finished packing, Ben handed the sealed letter for Father Stauk-Flezr to Brother Thom. The trip back to Outpost Xavier took only half a day, but Ben felt as if he had been gone for ages. Time seemed to pass more slowly while away. As he headed down the road, Ben reentered into the storm. Keep Margrave had seen no rain at all, but the lands closer towards the outpost looked absolutely drenched. The ominous, black, swirling cloud still spun overhead of Outpost Xavier. Ben was glad to see the soldiers again, and dwarf-friend Darius was waiting for him on the road. They talked about how Ben’s training went.

Though it wasn’t very late in the day no sunshine shone through from above. All the other militia leaders were gathered in the infirmary on the second floor. When Ben arrived he saw every bed was filled with sick men and women. For privacy, the team moved downstairs near the well. He noticed that a watch was guarding it, but they were sent out of the room so no one saw them travel down to Quesquaton. Darius went first to scout and make sure the caves were safe, in case any undead had returned. The rest of the team followed behind. Once below they stood outside the front door to the ancient place. Ben didn’t pay it much attention other than to notice that the door stood open. It was time to start the private meeting.

Darius explained that he and Kayla had been meeting with Elion the Elf over the past few weeks to learn more about the history of Quesquaton. (Creak! The door slowly closed) Elion has a brother who knew Zelligar and perhaps even Rohgan when they were living in this outpost some eighty odd years ago. His brother’s name is or was Marevak. Kayla found some references to him in one of the books she carried. Apparently he disappeared at the same time as Rohgan and Zelligar. Marevak was either a student or compatriot of Zelligar’s. Elion the Elf seemed very shocked to hear the news of Marevak allying with the wizard. He has been searching for his brother for several decades. Upon hearing Darius talk of Elion’s endless search everyone else shifted uneasily. The strangeness of the Elf creature above hit home. “Nothing could live that long”, thought Ben.

Kayla spoke up and said that both Elion and Marevak both knew the dryad Greenwillow when they were living in these woods long ago. Greenwillow is a very important person to the forest and Elion fears for her survival with the Giant and orcs nearby. Also, Darius had found another item in Zelligar’s study below. He had not mentioned it before. He showed the party a map to a series of caves. Zelligar was exploring them before he disappeared. Elion believes that the caves are where the orcs are now encamped and the hillside could be found somewhere near the secret exit to Quesquaton. (Creak! The main door opened slowly). The plan is to go back out, find the dryad, and explore these caves to learn what Zelligar may have found inside. Hopefully the answers for why the Giant was attacking and what happened to the missing founders, not to mention Elion’s brother, could be found within. Igor scanned the map trying to find which was way north. He saw a scribbling with one cave marked X. “What’s ‘at?” he asked. “It says man eater,” replied Darius. “We think it might be a pet.”
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Darius paused. “There is another subject I wanted to bring up before everyone else gives a report. I have written three letters to be opened upon the event of my death. They are identical. They should help you in case I am ever lost in battle.” He handed out two wax sealed letters: one to Kayla and one to Brother Ben. “The third of these is in the hands of Elion. I trust you all will keep them safe.”

“There is one last thing. I am almost done. Igor came to me this past week and told me something very troubling. Go ahead Igor.” Igor shuffled closer to the circle. He seemed to recite the words from memory. He said that the portion of the books he had found in Zelligar’s study below were all gone. He thought they must have been stolen. With Darius’s encouragement, Igor tried to recall if they were lost at Xavier or while in Keep Margrave when Dalin was healed by Father Hedrick. But he could not remember. Everyone else swore to keep a sharp eye out and to try and find who could have stolen the books. Given what Kayla had found in the ones she carried, they were highly valuable for the information within. Word would be passed on to Elion and the army sergeants. Darius declared he would award one platinum piece for the books’ discovery.

Following announcements the others reported what they had learned over the past two weeks. Most of them had been too busy to hear much talk, but a few rumors were heard. Mirel had the least to report. Ben passed on what Brother Thom had told him of the ‘old way’ of hiding treasure. In ancient times hidden passages or doors were fashioned to hide things behind. He also reported Elves being the best at finding these doors even though they could not see in the dark. Ben wondered aloud whether Elves started the ‘old way’ to begin with. Other news regarded what was on everyone’s minds of late; the strange weather they were experiencing. Kayla guessed it might be someone working with the Giant or maybe even the dryad. Whatever the cause, it seemed unnatural and the men above were losing spirit. The group decided to hold a celebration party. The nominal reason would be for Brother Ben’s return, but the real purpose was to boost the morale of the outpost.

“We do have that cask of ale we found below,” said Dram. “That would certainly raise spirits.” Dram winked at his own joke and the others smiled. “And I have several decks of cards and dice for games,” said Dalin. Brother Ben winced at this. “We should hold what activities we can inside” he said. “I think the rain is a big part of it problem.” The others nodded in agreement. Igor spoke up in that strange voice of his. “We could play skin the cat. Do you know that game Dalin?” Igor’s lazy eye wheeled in its socket. “Uhh…. well I was thinking more along the lines of poker, but we can let the men decide.” The planning of the party stretched late into the evening.

After heading back up the well, Kayla requested the guards be reposted. Brother Ben went up to check on the infirmary and saw the three Gresslam brothers. Each was soundly asleep on the floor next to a full bed. Ben listened to all who were awake and had grievances. Though complaints varied, Ben’s eyes saw true in the candlelight. Very little was physically wrong with these soldiers. Ben stretched out near the medicine cabinet. It had been a very long day and now that he was back at Xavier he expected even longer ones to come.
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The tingling means it’s working!
Fun story. I like how every PC is mysterious, with a hidden agenda.

Can you post classes and stats for the PCs?



Zaruthustran, most of them are in:

this Rogues Gallery thread.

Some of the characters were even rolled in that thread, but it looks odd now because the diceroller for the boards either changed or went away, so those posts don't make sense. Most of the original PCs are posted on page 2 of that thread, but we have had a few changes in both players and characters since then.

Thanks for reading.



[SBLOCK]Brother Ben - cleric
Dalin - fighting man
Darius - dwarven paladin
Dram - fighting man
Igor - prestige class (secret)
Kayla - M-U
Mirel - custom

Darius is a Dwarf, Everyone else is Human.
NPCs/Hirelings/Followers: often times we do not know their class. If they become a PC, I'll fill you in.

Glad to be back and updating. :)[/SBLOCK]
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[DAY 26 – Sunday, Juna 15th, CY 81]

Except for those on watch, the outpost slept in later than usual. Darius announced the festival for Ben’s return and many of the men seemed somewhat cheered. Several men gathered wood and piled it high in the clearing away from the tents. Others sat gloomily. After a number of attempts the bonfire was lit and those outside stood in close in to warm up. It was not until the cask of ale was rolled out that everyone started to stand up, smile and even shout. Ben checked upstairs in the infirmary and not a single soul was left inside. Dram manned the keg pouring the ale into tall flasks, short wooden cups, and any container the men could find. Dalin was fairly successful in starting some games of chance inside. The stakes were lower than what Dalin was used to, but Ben noticed that Dalin was often low on chips for his usual luck. He did have a broad smile on his face though, and so did the other men.

For his part, Brother Ben told make-believe stories to the soldiers trying to instill a moral into each one. At first, he was only somewhat successful and very few listened. But when the soldiers started telling their own stories, racy ones at that, more people joined in. Others clambered around outside and started wrestling in the mud. They hooted hollered in their revelry. Mirel joined in and was covered with mud from head to toe. Several contests were held too. Most involved wrestling: leg, arm, and body. Those who won earned a gold piece each. During the contests Dram took a special interest in how each of the militia members performed. As expected the archers he had trained a few weeks ago led in the archery event. The winner was a shy lad with bright red hair. The winner of the arm wrestling contest competed against Dram and bested him in the final match. Dram asked their names: Ormand the Redd and Rogg respectively. He pulled them aside and asked each if they would be willing to join in the explorations below the tower and offered them a gold per day in advance. Both agreed eagerly.

Elion stayed in his tent and a few of the guards kept watch from the tower. These kept tagging off trying to give the duty to another. What went largely unnoticed however, was the absence of Darius. He, Kayla, and Igor had descended into Quesquaton right before the party started. Near midday when they came out few of the men and women in the tower courtyard were sober enough to notice. The three explained to Ben and the others that they had talked at length about the mysteries of Quesquaton and on what might be found in the orc caves. Brother Ben was not sure what needed to be talked about, but he was relieved to see them unharmed. By the end of the day every bed and spare floor space in the infirmary was filled. Ben left the patients to their own aches and pains and slept in a crawlspace on the third floor above.

Before heading to sleep Igor and Darius went behind the tower to where the dryad’s seeds had been planted. To their dismay all the plants were missing. They tried to puzzle out what could have happened. Did the rain washed them away? No, there was no hill or slope. Could the men have trampled them? It was possible. What about a creature? No tracks were nearby, but none would be left due to the constant rain. It was another mystery and one not easily solved. The two went back inside to sleep.

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