ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign

Andrew Moreton

I don't think my playes even considered talking to Granny. She and the Voice of Rot were in their opinion Evil and need removing for a better world. The others they wanted to talk to and did but their visit to Granny was always going to be an attack

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Episode 59
What you wish for

After our exchange with the Father of Thunder, we return to Bole to contact the new Chief Inspector of the RHC, Shaiaila Lundquist, and tell her about our disturbing news regarding the Voice of Rot cultists. We also explain that we want to take care of the Ash Wolf and the burning forests, and she tells us that the wolf has been seen near Muleshoe. She adds that the Titan is usually quite peaceful, and that the fires started before the Ash Wolf was first seen. We thank her for this info and muse that this could be an indication that someone had deliberately provoked the wolf's anger or tried to frame him as the culprit.

We ask Ms. Lundquist to have her teams look for clues regarding the Voice in our absence as we prepare to move to Muleshoe. On our last night in Bole, we are unexpectedly visited by El Extrano, who "unsurprisingly" shares information with us about the global situation. The kobold is quite honest about the situation in Ber, saying that there is utter chaos and mayhem in some places and that the situation does not necessarily look like a new "golden age" for his nation. Besides, many would listen to the propaganda against Risur, even if he doesn't really know why. The Bruse has also been invited to a meeting in Cherage, so he is considering sending an emissary as to not upset Risur. Still Cavallo needs to know what the global players are up to in this new world.

As we get that El Extrano is still being utterly honest with us, we agree to tell the kobold what really happened: that we suspect that the Obscurati ritual was sabotaged by conspirators among the conspirators (the Voice of Rot cultists), and that the whole of Ber is probably under some kind of mental influence thanks to the lighthouse fine-tuning effect. We stress out that we and all of Risur have no interest in a fight with Ber, but rather want to do some reconnaissance and maintain our good relations, so we would like to talk to Beran officials in the near future. El Extano seems both satisfied and “unsurprised” and he agrees to deliver our news to the Bruse.

The next day we teleport to Muleshoe, from where we can already see the fierce forest fires. We learn from the militia that these fires are unusually hot and don't really suit the Ashen Wolf. We let a guide take us to the most recent of these fires and discover planar traces of Jiese in the fire, which also does not align with the magic of the Wolf.

Just as we are about to investigate the origin of the fire, a huge wolf suddenly jumps between us, grabs our guide, bites him a few times and then throws him away in a high arc. We immediately assume that this must be the Forest Titan and call out to the Ashen wolf as it approaches again.

The Wolf growls at us, but then ceases his attack as it looks like he... actually has a few things to discuss with us.

“Deceitful humans, you have murdered my child! According to the old pacts, I demand compensation for my loss!”

“My deepest condolences for your loss, oh Ashen Wolf!”, Gabriel calls out to the giant creature.
“But I doubt that humans are responsible for this terrible deed. The people here are neither powerful nor stupid enough to take action against the Titan's children. They respect you, this much you know.”

“But we have seen fires of unusual kind devastating the woodlands, so maybe someone is trying to frame both you and the woodcutters so we go at each other's throats?”, Auryn adds.
We promise the wolf to look into the matter and ask him to let us see his child's body first so we may look for clues of the true murderer. The Wolf agrees to this suggestion, shatches us up, throws us into his fur and rides with us to his cave. There where we are greeted by a group of giant dire wolves who appear to be more of his children.

The Ashen Wolf lets us slide down his back and then explains that he loves and cares for all his children, as he lost his mate in the last grand “world rearrangement”, and her children are all he has left of her. We examine the dead wolf and discover that his wounds must have been inflicted by an obsidian scimitar. Which, in turn, is absolutely not a Risuri weapon. Since there were also planar traces on the "extremely hot fire", we turn to the Wolf and ask him where the outlandish fire came from.
“The temple of Av. Strange, isn't it? There have never been any fires in that temple.”, the Titan says. However, he also warns us that nightmarish monsters sometimes come out of the Dreaming from over there, and we suspect that there might be a leaky portal inside.

We also realize that the Wolf, just like any Titan, is a being that exists both in the Dreaming and the Waking as a Titan and can probably give us more information than the rather simple Father of Thunder. So we ask him about the current state of the plane and learn that the Dreaming still exists, but it feels very far away. Also, there is no planar border anymore.

We remember that Av didn't just disappear, but moved to a different place in the planar structure instead (that of the Plane of Death), and that Jiese is now in Av's place instead. This would very logically explain where the Jiese planar traces came from. But to our terror, this could also mean that some sort of planar invasion has already begun, as the “leaky” - or worse - open portal could now lead to Jiese.

We thank the Wolf for this information and let him lead us to the vicinity of Av's Ziggurat. Just outside the old temple, we see evidence that our fears have probably come true, as a group of fire drakes are loitering in front of the entrance. Auryn tries to speak to them in their language, but they run back to their masters: salamanders, wielding obsidian falchions. Looks like we've found our potential killers.

(that was really pretty straightforward in comparison to the complicated plot that was the murder of Rock Rackus)

We get rid of the drakes that simply want to eat us for breakfast and then try to negotiate with the guards. They laugh at our puny attempts and brag that their noble kind serves a "master" they call "Sultan Küyler", while they seem to regard us as lesser beings. But hey, if we'd just submit to them, they'd maybe let us live as their slaves. Needless to say that we are not up to such shenanigans.

We overpower the two guards easily and catch them in our Absurdist Web before venturing into the (brass-clad) Ziggurat. There we find more salamanders gathered around a vizier. We assume that this could be said Sultan Küyler, get rid of the guards and grab the fleeing vizier, who can't cast more powerful magic here, just like anyone else. A fact that seems to be quite terrorizing to the high salamander. After his capture, the Vizier is a bit more talkative and introduces himself as a servant of the great Sultan Küyler of Jiese. We ask him (rather politely, considering the circumstances) to speak to this Sultan, as the King of Risur himself has come to grant the newcomer an audience.

The vizier sullenly leads us to the sultan's room, where Küyler is lazing around with two female salamanders. We pass by an efreeti, who mentally tells Gabriel that her name is Lieshi, and that she has absolutely no desire to serve Sultan "stinky beast" and see her bottle misused as a drinking vessel. Instead, she would be interested in his demise. Gabriel smirks briefly at her comments, and replies that he might come back to this later, depending on the circumstances.

Unfortunately, the Sultan turns out to be not the brightest candle on the cake. So it takes King Gabriel quite a while to explain to the turbaned salamander with little going on beneath said turban that he is trespassing, tried to annex land that isn't his, and that his people have killed one of the inhabitants of his land. However, King Gabriel wants to be generous and offers the Sultan that Risur and Jiese could coexist peacefully and trade with each other if the salamanders play by the rules. The Sultan is obviously interested in trade relations, but will only put his expansion on hold for five years. At the same time, he seems to have little respect for the local people and still has his eye on Risur, so Gabriel bluntly tells him to pack his bags and return to the much more glorious Jiese.

The Sultan, on the other hand, has had enough of the “local lord” and summons his Efreeti with her bottle.

“Efreeti, I wish to make this creature disappear”, he says, pointing at Gabriel. Lieshi sighs and then casts a spell of destruction on the King, which fortunately fails, but leaves gushing wounds instead.

(this came... really abruptly. Totally plausible, but harsh as hell :D )

“If this is your answer... then negotiations are over.”, King Gabriel says dryly and immediately attacks the Sultan's guards while shrouding the room in silence to prevent further wishes.

“Clever. And just like I told you. His demise would be most enjoyable.”, Lieshi says mentally.

Auryn is not as calm as usual, however, as she just saw a very potent and destructive attempt on Gabriel's life. She gives Küyler a piercing death glare before she charges him directly.

After dealing with Küyler's guards, Gabriel pursues the remaining viziers and follows them into a room containing a portal to Jiese. There, he deals with the remaining salamanders. Meanwhile, Küyler poses no threat to Auryn under the veil of silence. As the Sultan finally collapses under Auryn's furious, relentless blows, the bronze bottle of Lieshi rolls out of his hand. All of a sudden, the Sultan's concubines pounce on the object simultaneously. However, Auryn is able to knock them down and grab the bottle. The danger seems to be averted for now, and one by one we collect the salamanders to put them in the Absurdist Web. Gabriel ceases the zone of silence and we then turn to Lieshi and ask her how on earth she ended up in the Sultan's service.

The Efreeti tells us that after an unhappy relationship in the City of Brass, she was tied to a bottle and sold to the family of the current Sultan. They then created a special relationship with her through various contracts, rituals, and wishes. Eventually, the part of the Plane of Fire that contained the mines where Küyler Satrab was located was cut off and turned into Jiese. After the death of the Chief Warden, a battle broke out for his successor. It was won by "the fool" Küyler, who was able to declare himself Sultan of Jiese. So yes, his tales of armies and followers were certainly true.

However, she herself wants nothing more than her freedom and the opportunity to travel the planes - which seems to be possible now. But we would have to free her first. In return, she would grant us three wishes. Like closing the portal or something. Since she hit a nerve with that, we take a closer look at the portal ourselves and find out that it could be closed. But not necessarily forever. Still we don't want to spend a wish on something so mundane, so 4we close it by hand and bury it under a pile of rubble thanks to the Royal earth shift.

We then explore the temple and free a group of lumberjacks who have been imprisoned in the Ziggurat by the Sultan. Then we turn our attention back to Lieshi, who, bit by bit, turns out not to be the nicest person in the planes. We think about her offer for a while and wonder if we really want to let her go, since she seems to enjoy corrupting wishes. But since she has no interest in Lanjyr and we can make good use of the wishes, we agree to her deal.

But before we finalize on our wishes, we use the opportunity to learn more about the planes from Lieshi, as she appears to be centuries old and have a bit of experience. We also learn from her that the Golden Legion and Egal the Shimmering are only one legion of many under the devil-prince Moloch, who in turn is primarily interested in material things.

Unfortunately, we must assume that the power of her wishes is limited (after all, she was - thankfully - unable to destroy Gabriel), so we refrain from making any wishes against Nicodemus or the Obscurati. Instead, we decide to play on her areas of expertise:
First, we wish for unrestricted access to the new magic, as she just demonstrated that she had quite the knack for magic.
Second, we wish for knowledge of what happened on Axis Island.
And third, we ask for all information about the planes, especially those to which our world is connected. After all, we don't want to make any mistakes when we perform the Axis ritual again.

Lieshi grins briefly as she is refreshed by the fact that we didn't really make any selfish or obnoxious wish. She duly fulfills all our wishes and then disappears somewhere in the planes.

In return, we learn that the ritual on Axis Island involves, among other things, petrified trees (like the one we found Avilona's amulet in), which are placed in cavities for the different aspects of the world and connected to symbols of the corresponding plane. To do this, however, a large golden seal representing Vona had to be lifted, which in turn required Borne. However, there were huge outbreaks of magic (which was probably normal) that even affected the Colossus. Mages had been sent to protect it, and had barricaded themselves in bunkers. But then there had been explosions, the mages had been killed, the magic had injured Borne, and the slab had collapsed on him. With the known consequences. So we assume that this is the part where the cultists of the Voice must have attacked the ritual.

As for the planes, we now understand that the milky “Gyre” we see in the heavens is a kind of disposal device for planes and planets that are no longer needed, which was about to swallow the ghost moon Baden. Because of our connection to Baden, our world (and possibly the other planets as well) is now in danger of ending up in the Gyre. In any case, we now have a comprehensive compendium of the planes and planar connections, and we agree to use it to make things right again.

(Tiz was pretty surprised by our mundane but yet clever wishes. First of all, we were pretty terrified of corrupted wishes, as we know that Tiz knows how to do that. And that he loves doing that. So we thought about stuff that would be useful and hard to corrupt. The first one was a no-brainer, as the lack of high-level magic was annoying, and having an advantage here might give us an edge over possible Obs spellcasters. The second and third one were a long-term investment, as we really want to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Obs. And knowledge is power in this regard. We also thought in hindsight, that knowledge about the Gyre and its nature might help us convince Nicodemus to work together in order to prevent the inevitable.)


Rules of engagement
We then retreat to Bole and take a bit of time to discuss everything that has happened in the last few days. Auryn notes that the Titans seem to like the new king of Risur and have treated him with the respect he deserves. She adds that it is quite surprising that at least two of them have no doubts about the fateful connection between Auryn and Gabriel. Gabriel also feels vindicated by the Titans' gestures, even if he had the feeling that the Titans considered the king less important than their own kind and he isn't too sure what that would mean for their future co-existence. Auryn doesn't find that too alarming, as she points out to him that, for the Titans, mortals come and go like the tides, and it is ultimately the office that they respect as one of their own, not the specific person. Though that may change in the future.

“I know you have a different perspective on this, but you've had quite a similar situation with the Vantrys, am I correct?”, she adds.

Gabriel lets that sink in for a while, before Auryn suddenly switches subjects.

“Remember when I asked you to make me your agent?”, she asks, to which Gabriel replies with a confirming nod. Auryn then looks straight in his eyes and continues quite bluntly:

“I made up my mind. Make me your Green Knight. I don't see you getting along with Dame Jillian anytime soon and I doubt any Risuri would be able to protect you the way I can. I can match your pace... and I know you.”

As expected, Gabriel is pretty much surprised by this suggestion that's closing in on demand territory. He then closes his eyes and bites his lip in discomfort before he answers her:

“I'm sorry, but I cannot do, no, I don't want to do that. Your every word is correct, but I... don't want it to be your duty to give your life for mine. It just feels wrong.”

“You know that I'd do it anyway, duty or not? I will defend you to the very end and beyond.”

Gabriel takes Auryn's hands and squeezes them gently.

“I know. But there is a difference in protecting someone solely out of choice and love and this being a duty or an office. And, you know, I'm also worried for your safety and will do everything to protect you. See the dilemma?”

Auryn takes a deep breath and then finally nods.

“I understand. I withdraw the request. But I won't leave your side.”

As Gabriel has no further objections, she then tells him that after everything that has happened, she wants to send a message to her mother so that she has enough time to plan her wedding. After all, the Eladrin ceremony is quite elaborate and they are still in the midst of recovering from a disaster. Gabriel is quite surprised by this suggestion.

“So... this is a proposal?”, he asks with a raised eyebrow.

“Uh... if you want to take it this way? But it was you who made his intentions clear over a year ago. I mean... you said you 'didn't want to share me with other husbands' and talked about children, so... I thought we had this settled a long time ago?”

“Yes, we had. But a proposal...”

Auryn looks at her partner in confusion over his sudden disappointment and it takes her a while to realize that a "proposal" would have been something special for Gabriel. And now she regrets the fact that she even brought up the subject. In the end, she just wanted to explain to him that he didn't have to have a lavish, political event in Risur, and that she was only interested in honoring and declaring their union according to their culture. Also, she adds that a ceremony in Elfaivar does not have to involve the larger public (as she apparently felt that for Gabriel their relationship was more of a private matter) and does not have to raise any questions among the Risuri (as to why the King would marry an Eladrin of all people).

“You really think we could, or should sneak away like this? Even if we wanted to, the King of Risur owes the public a spectacle. So there is no way we can avoid a celebration in Risur. Though I doubt this is how you really feel, am I not mistaken?”

Auryn answers this question with a long silence, while trying to avoid Gabriel's gaze.

“Don't forget that after all, you are an emissary of the Fey, and quite the celebrity among the Risuri. Trying to hide doesn't suit you.”

“Alright, alright. But this would be your part, your majesty.”, she says with a faint grin, finally breaking the growing ice.

(and there we have yet another misunderstanding. Gabriel was probably already making plans in his mind for doing a proper proposal – like the ones in his romance novels – as a romantic gesture that's usually more alien to him. And there comes Auryn and butchers his intent. From her perspective, she just wanted to stress out the Titans' gestures by stating facts she thought to be set in stone quite some time now. And yes, preparing said ceremony would take its proper time. When she realized her mistake, she was both embarrassed and piqued, which in turn made her scratched ego come out again.)

After the exchange, we meet up with Flying Spark, who tells us about some strange songs in the swamp that he's heard when trying to research the Voice's whereabouts. We ask our friend to lead us to the place he last heard the songs, and he leads us to the site of the Ziggurat of Apet. The complex seems to have sunk into the swamp since the last time we visited this place.

We take a look around and find no trace of the Voice of Rot, but unexpectedly stumble across the ghost of an old orc who introduces himself as Toteth Topec. He is none other than the genius behind the original seal on Axis Isle.

(Awww man, I had a good laugh when I heard that name. My players will forever connect him with that long, overcomplicated play that they didn't understand. I did expand on Toteth and his elementalist crew though after the Tomb of the Pyromancer, which was a story arc they actually enjoyed :D)

We introduce ourselves to the old orc, tell him about our planar problems, and he explains that this is probably the reason for his awakening. He then tells us that during his lifetime, Lanjyr suffered from constant "visitors" from other worlds, who in turn had nothing but contempt for the "primitive savages". After our encounter with the salamanders from Jiese, we know too well what Toteth Topec is talking about, and we add that said “visitors” are what we feared when we learned about people wanting to fiddle around with the planar seal.

Toteth continues his tale and explains, that he and others spent their lives searching for a way to close the planar border, traveling to different worlds to gather aspects that were best and most important for their home, Lanjyr. Doing so was relatively easy back then, as you could just walk through a portal and land on another world. He then tells us about the ritual and the enormous feat of casting the golden plate, with which he was able to create a “sun” that would keep the monsters away from his settlements for at least half a day.

“Maybe the best idea I had in all of this ritual planning. Just imagine, having to be ready to fight monsters anytime. But alas, I see that the planar accident destroyed that progress.”

When we tell him that we want to fix the world, he warns us to find the right planar balance to avoid further disasters. He tells us the recipe for a really good margarita, which he has already prepared and invites us to drink with him from a huge cauldron. After a while, his spirit just dissipates into thin air. We both agree that Toteth departing so soon is a shame, because he probably could have pointed out Nicodemus' mistakes better than anyone else.

After this really unexpected conversation, we return to Flint via Slate and report to the capital about our third pacified Titan and the absence of the Serpent of the Swamps. In return, we are being told that a "certain someone" wants to talk to us, that the duplicant alarm has been triggered, and that the duplicant protocol has been acted upon. This in turn indicates that a certain dragon has finally found his way to us.

In a holding cell we can talk to said duplicant, a previously unknown figure who turns out to be controlled by Gradiax. Just as we had expected. He tells us that he has to renew the pact of Boyle. Just when Gabriel is about to remark that he'd expected the “real him” for the renewal, he apologizes and states that this is unfortunately the most personal form of appearance that's currently available to him, as he is currently trapped on Axis island.

When he mentions Axis, both our eyes widen in surprise, as the island has been off limits for now, and we don't know whether or not Team A made it. We get that this might just be a crucial opportunity for us, and we let him continue. Gradiax tells us that he, or rather Fordren, had traveled to the island alongside the Danorans, watched the explosion from a safe distance, and then found quite the destruction on the island. He also mentions that they have found “RHC” on the island, but we can assure him that they have nothing to do with the explosion. Anyway, the Danorans had hired "Fordren" to build an airship for them, and this plan didn't change regardless of whatever had happened there before. And building an airship he did, until his workers suddenly went crazy and started working on the thing like "one linked spirit".

“Airships... why does it have to be airships this soon?” Gabriel mumbles, shaking his head in disbelief as this was just one of his worries at the Obscon.

In turn, we explain Gradiax that what he has just witnessed is some form of Gidim-like effect, and that this is yet another worry we had uttered back then. Which was, unfortunately, ignored by Nicodemus. We give him a rough idea what the “Hiveminds” and their mental connection are all about, and he thanks us for the clarification.

“Once you know its true nature, you can fight it. And you will be pleased to hear that I'd like to help you. Still in order to do so, you need to help me solve my problems first: I have been invited to some Obscurati conference. Twice. First as Francis Fordren, which is quite obvious given my connections to Danor's industrial complex. And second, as Benedict Pemberton. Which came quite as a surprise, as he never had the best of relationships. All the while I am stuck here.”

“Seems like you've been put in quite a corner”, Auryn remarks with a quiet laugh.

We then update him on the events in Kellandia, and that the future Protectorate is seeking closer cooperation with Macdam. Which might be interesting for “Pemberton” in one way or another. Regarding the Obscurati meeting, we suggest that maybe we can come to the meeting with one or two companions. Which could help him navigate two personas, if he'd like to join with Pemberton as well. Gradiax doesn't seem averse to the idea, but he's still stuck on Axis Island and for sure doesn't want to have to fight his way off the island in his true form for the time being. And keeping the secret of Boyle would also be in our general interest, wouldn't it?

Now Auryn's smile broadens as this whole situation is so very much amusing, even delightful to her.
“Don't you worry, King Gabriel and I will come to your rescue.”

“That'd be really a pleasure, my dear.”, Gradiax replies, his duplicant voice radiating a pleasant surprise.

However, in order to rescue the dragon, we'd first we need a way to get to him across the sea. A path that's currently being blocked by the Kraken Titan. So it seems like we also have to take care of the last Titan way before we anticipated.

(We thought that She who Writhes going crazy at sea would play into our cards as it would prevent Danor from crossing the sea and invading Risur. As long as only we'd have access to safe high-level magic (aka unerring teleport), this would have given us quite the time to prepare for whatever they might have in plan. Thanks, Grady)

So we order the Impossible (which should be patrolling near the coast) to Flint and try our first real teleport home. Fortunately, it works just as planned. Meanwhile, an unlikely couple is already waiting for us in Flint's harbor: Beshela and Asrabey, the former accompanied by some sea warriors on mounts. The fey lady explains that her mistress is still angry about the circumstances of her awakening and needs to be soothed by a ritual before she is willing to talk. She is willing to perform the ritual herself, but we must find a way to keep the Titan from escaping. And since we don't want to risk the rest of our ships to play with the Kraken, we'll have to come up with something for better or worse. Oh, and She who Writhes has probably learned how to teleport by now.

(Glorious news. A teleporting Kraken. Also... how was Beshela able to switch from the Dreaming to the Waking? Was there some explanation that we'd missed?)

Asrabey is unusually grim and even quieter than usual during the whole conversation. So Auryn takes the opportunity to ask him about Kasvarina, and wtheer they are on good terms again.

“I didn't meet her. Why should I? There is little point in returning to that time.”, he grumbles.

“But wasn't this why you left Flint? We followed your trail, but lost it in Elfaivar. And then we found Kasvarina. She's well and helping the enclaves, in case you wanted to know.”

Asrabey sighs, as if the conversation was rather cumbersome for him.

“And what point is there in trying to mend something that's so irredeemably broken? She's clinging to a past that can never come back. It would be better to face the truth: There has never been much hope for Elfaivar, and now what little there has been was smashed to pieces. So... can we please just go through with this?”

Auryn's eyes widen in disbelief as she just cannot fathom what she's just heard from a man she thought she knew so well. As she doesn't like this fatalism at all, and she tries from various angles to make Asrabey understand that there is still hope, and that she doesn't want to leave him alone with his dark thoughts as she considers him her family. Asrabey finally shakes his head, sits down on the docks and silently says “Oh little flower, if you knew...”

What he hadn't anticipated though is that Auryn has learned some lip-reading along her journey.

“If I knew what? Asrabey, please talk to me. I won't leave you alone. Not like Kasvarina back then.”

As he realizes that Auryn understood his final words, he turns pale and looks at her in a sudden flash of terror. Then he activates a charm and turns ethereal, trying to run away as fast as possible.

(aaand the resolution of this cliffhanger will have to wait till the next episode. You did the poor boy dirty!)

Also... how was Beshela able to switch from the Dreaming to the Waking? Was there some explanation that we'd missed?)
I'm not sure if maybe I messed this up, by I figure that (edit) Beshela serves She Who Writhes, and SWW can banish people the same way TVoR can, so her being in the Waking was basically a one-way trip (at least until Av gets put back in its old place and new connections between the planes appear). She meant to try to help the Risuri and make sure the Dreaming would be okay.
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I'm not sure if maybe I messed this up, by I figure that she serves Beshela, and Beshela can banish people the same way TVoR can, so her being in the Waking was basically a one-way trip (at least until Av gets put back in its old place and new connections between the planes appear). She meant to try to help the Risuri and make sure the Dreaming would be okay.
i assume by "beshela" here you mean she who writhes?


I'm not sure if maybe I messed this up, by I figure that (edit) Beshela serves She Who Writhes, and SWW can banish people the same way TVoR can, so her being in the Waking was basically a one-way trip (at least until Av gets put back in its old place and new connections between the planes appear). She meant to try to help the Risuri and make sure the Dreaming would be okay.
That makes a lot of sense!

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