An ethics-oriented weblog celebrating effective altruism, philosophy, and other beliefs Eric holds. Also: a place to post random thoughts.
03 July, 1995
The Beginning of the End
As copied from a collection of old manuscripts dated around this time.
“What’s that?” Sabin was the first to comment on the strange statues.
“Dear God almighty…” Raistlin’s jaw dropped.
“They’re so life-like –“
“They are lifelike. They’re beings of magic – pure magic – more powerful than even Espers. These three have been in this position for longer than time remembers. They were ancient in ancient times… If you look closely, you can see their colors of magic: Red, White, Black, - ”
“You know too much, wizard.”
The entire party turned around.
“Now you die!” Ragnorak swung his sword at Setzer, slicing his left hand off. “Die!” His fist flew toward Celes, hitting her square in the stomach. She flew to the ground ten meters away.
Shadow was quick to respond. He drew his dagger and threw it at Ragnorak’s helmet before he ran to Cyan’s scabbard for a katana.
Cyan was next. He dropped his scabbard to the ground while pulling out his blade. He jumped to Ragnorak’s side, slashing his steel toward his enemy’s legs. Ragnorak’s reaction was faster than Cyan could handle. Ragnorak jumped away from both the blow and Shadow’s dagger, and landed next to Edgar.
Edgar had pulled out his crossbow, but had not yet loaded it. Of course, Edgar wasn’t stupid, so he swung his crossbow as hard as he could toward Ragnorak’s head. But his hands were too slow and he was hit on the side of his head with Ragnorak’s left elbow. Edgar dropped to the ground, unconscious from the blow.
Ragnorak turned to see Exodus running at him with his sword. Deftly, Ragnorak dodged Exodus’ attack and kicked his helmet with such ferocity that the force knocked him out.
Ragnorak looked at those that remained. Cyan and Shadow were back, ready to fight, and now Sabin stood with them. Celes had gotten up from Ragnorak’s blow and was tending to Setzer. Raistlin stood in the back, watching the carnage. Mog had started one of his dances.
Ragnorak lifted his left hand, and a bolt of lightning emerged from it. The lightning split twice and Mog, Cyan, Shadow, and Sabin were hit. Mog fell to the ground with immense pain, but the other three stood.
Sabin called out to Ragnorak. “Do you refuse to fight me?”
“Do not think that you are any more powerful than anyone else here. On the contrary, dear Sabin, you are the weakest of all.”
“What?! I’m going to beat you down so bad…”
“Come and get me, muscle boy.”
Sabin ran for Ragnorak. Ragnorak sidestepped and backhanded Sabin on the chest. Sabin took the brunt of the blow and dropped to one knee, noticeably in pain.
Cyan nodded to Shadow. Immediately, they ran past Sabin and cut at Ragnorak. Ragnorak used his sword to block Shadow’s quick slash and he used his left hand to defend against Cyan’s blow. But he underestimated the limit of Cyan’s might, and Cyan’s sword cut through the palm of his left hand.
“You will DIE for that!!” Ragnorak’s eyes started to glow red and his hands started to burn with fire from the depths of hell.
Raistlin yelled out to Celes, “Forget Setzer; use your runic blade!”
Celes looked up and saw the fierceness in Ragnorak’s eyes. She drew her sword and uttered a few incantations.
Raistlin reached into his bag and pulled out a rock of magicite. As he held it in his hand, he looked at Ragnorak and whispered something incomprehensible.
Suddenly the ground opened up a small hole just big enough for a man to squeeze through. Out of it came a gray vapor that materialized on the ground just behind Cyan. It was Titan. “I live!” he screamed mightily.
Shadow grabbed Cyan and pulled him away from Ragnorak. Celes screamed back to Raistlin, “My Runic doesn’t work here!”
Raistlin was concentrating on telling Titan what to do, though. “Attack Ragnorak!” Raistlin yelled with all his might.
Titan drew back his fist just as Ragnorak’s hands turned a deep red. The flare violently erupted from his hands and hit Titan square in the chest. Titan’s body burst into flames and the goliath fell to one knee, shivering in the immense pain.
Ragnorak turned to look at Raistlin. “You have magicite? YOU WILL DIE!!!” Ragnorak ran toward the wizard with extreme ferocity.
Raistlin’s eyes grew wide with fear.
Sabin jumped to Raistlin, and pushed him out of the way. Ragnorak rammed himself into the mighty Sabin. Sabin fell to the ground, convulsing from the violent pains. By this point, Titan had recovered from the hellfire that he had gone through. He punched Ragnorak with all his might, and Ragnorak reared from the blow.
“I realize you fight not of your own free will, Brother Titan, but still I cannot allow you to hurt me; and so now, I must kill you.”
With that, he drew his sword and swiftly chopped off Titan’s head.
Titan’s decapitated body fell to the ground and disintegrated.
Ragnorak turned to face the humans. A tear fell from his face. “YOU SHALL DIE!!!”
Sabin, Cyan, and Shadow stood their ground. Celes went back to Setzer. Raistlin stayed back and started another spell. Ragnorak attempted to dispatch Cyan with one swift hit, but Cyan retorted with a blow to Ragnorak’s already damaged hand. Ragnorak screamed and used his left foot to sweep Cyan from the ground. Cyan went down hard.
Sabin’s hand came up next, hitting Ragnorak in the side. Ragnorak fell to one knee and hit Sabin in the temple with the broadside of his blade. Sabin went down.
Shadow brought his dagger to Ragnorak’s throat. Ragnorak froze. “You lost this time, Ragnorak,” Shadow whispered. Shadow brought the sharp blade closer to Ragnorak’s skin. “Now you will pay for what you’ve done.” With that, Shadow sliced through Ragnorak’s neck.
Blood flowed through and out of Ragnorak’s throat. At first, all that could be seen in his face was immeasurable pain. But then, another emotion was apparent. Shadow stepped back. Cyan, who had just gotten up, looked genuinely scared. For of all the things to be seen in Ragnorak’s face, none had even imagined a smile.
“I, Ragnorak, am the most powerful of all Espers. I will not be killed by mere mortals!”
Raistlin yelled out to the enemy, “Then die by my hand!” A powerful bolt of lightning flew from Raistlin’s hands and hit Ragnorak with incredible force. Ragnorak fell, stunned from the blow. Cyan took advantage of the opportunity, slicing at Ragnorak’s neck. Ragnorak’s speed, however, showed its superiority when Ragnorak brought his hand up to block the blow.
Unfortunately for Ragnorak, Cyan’s sword cut through Ragnorak’s left wrist.
Shadow used his own speed to further his advantage over Ragnorak’s torn body. Dozens of small needles were thrown at Ragnorak’s body. Almost three-quarters pierced his skin.
“Cut his head off! It’s the only way to kill him!” Raistlin, confident of his colleagues, retired his magic and made sure the others were okay.
Ragnorak slung his foot, snapping his boot right off. The boot flew through the air, hitting Celes in the head. She was knocked out immediately.
Shadow watched this, just as Ragnorak had anticipated, and while Shadow was distracted, Ragnorak threw his sword at him with all his might, and hit Shadow in the face. Shadow went down for the count.
Ragnorak looked back at Cyan just in time to see Cyan’s sword coming towards him at breakneck speed. Ragnorak brought hiss handless arm up to deflect the blow, but instead Cyan’s sword stuck deep into Ragnorak’s arm. Before Cyan could pull out his sword, Ragnorak kicked him. Cyan fell to the ground. Ragnorak quickly ran to Cyan and punched him in the stomach with his good arm. Cyan was knocked out.
Ragnorak turned to see who was left standing. Only the strange wizard was there to meet his gaze.
Raistlin hurriedly started a spell while Ragnorak was rushing towards him.
Ragnorak was barely two meters away when Raistlin’s burning hands was finally cast.
Ragnorak hit Raistlin with his left shoulder at ramming speed. Raistlin fell, but did not lose consciousness.
Raistlin looked up at Ragnorak. Ragnorak’s body had long since lost all his blood. His left hand was severed at the wrist; Cyan’s sword was lodged in what was left of that arm. Ragnorak’s throat was cut wide open, exposing the inside of his neck for all to see. In addition to all of this, his body was covered with tiny pins stuck all over his body. Needless to say, he was a gruesome sight.
Raistlin closed his eyes and started to pray. His thoughts flew back to the beginning of this stupid adventure. He remembered back when he first met Exodus. It had been such a long and tiresome journey since then. It was almost too hard to believe that it was all about to end. Slowly, he opened his eyes.
Ragnorak stood smiling in front of him. “You have lost, wizard.”
Raistlin raised an eyebrow. “You think I have lost? Ha.” Raistlin scoffed at Ragnorak, and promptly stood, trying his best not to show any pain, though he felt it from every bone in his body.
“You do not fool me, wizard. I can feel your cowardice. Succumb to me, and I might let you live yet.”
Raistlin calmly popped his wrists and pulled out his elven pouch. “You said earlier that you would kill me because I possessed magicite. How do you think I came upon this impressive collection?” Raistlin sneered, as he emptied the bag onto the ground. Magicite shards fell and scattered. Raistlin held the lone remaining piece of magicite in his hand.
Ragnorak appeared momentarily confused. “You do not fool me, wizard. Beg for mercy.”
Raistlin felt balls of sweat falling from his brow. Nonchalantly, he patted his cloak on his forehead. Raistlin turned his eyes to Ragnorak, staring him straight in the face. “Leave now or die.”
“Do I?” Raistlin smiled as he tossed the lone magicite shard from hand to hand. “You have until the count of three.”
Ragnorak staggered, unsure of himself. He surveyed the battlefield. Bodies lay unmoving in every direction. Only one person was still conscious, and that one had a severed limb, just like him.
Ragnorak looked up and down. He saw no threats.
Ragnorak took a step back, but then paused. “I will not run from you. You are nothing but a petty wizard.” Ragnorak looked sure of himself and stepped forward again.
“Three. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Raistlin threw the magicite shard high into the air and a cloud of billowing smoke permeated his hands.
Ragnorak watched the smoke rise from his hands, warily. Just then, Raistlin tried to ram himself into Ragnorak, and a blinding light flashed from Raistlin’s body. Ragnorak deftly dodged, but the light so blinded him that he could not see. Hurriedly, he ran back to the three statues and tried to put up a hasty force field.
Meanwhile, Raistlin’s light show was over, and Raistlin was going over his options. He had to leave, and quick, but he might have a better chance of survival if he awoke one of his friends first. Raistlin ran to Sabin’s side and speedily shot off an incantation to give Sabin his strength back. Sabin awoke, as groggily as ever, and Raistlin grabbed him and shook him till Sabin could comprehend English.
“We have to go – and now! Ragnorak will be back any second now!”
“Okay, okay – I’ll carry everybody and you lead the way.”
“No, Sabin, we have to –”
“Argh!” Ragnorak’s screams interrupted Raistlin’s speech. “I’ve been made a fool! You will not fool me again, puny wizard!”
Raistlin grabbed Sabin and pulled, but Sabin was already running at Ragnorak. Raistlin cursed himself for his stupidity and started to run away from the scene. But before he could get more than ten meters away, he felt the ground shake. Abruptly, he stopped in his tracks.
Sabin, too, stopped in his tracks when he saw Ragnorak’s eyes grow wide with fear. Sabin watched as the statue that Ragnorak had bumped into started glowing an eerie black glow. Ragnorak ran in the opposite direction, and Sabin started to follow, but Raistlin stopped him. “Sabin, we have to get out of here! We have to get to someplace safe!” Raistlin neglected to mention that no place was safe now. There was almost no point to doing any of this now. “Quickly, wake Celes – I’ll heal Cyan and Shadow!” Raistlin ran to Cyan’s side and started his magic words. It’s too bad, Raistlin thought, that it all has to end now.
Posted by Eric Herboso at Monday, July 03, 1995 No comments:
02 July, 1995
As copied from a collection of old manuscripts dated around this time.
“Oh, my God, …” Sabin shivered at the sight before him. Raistlin glanced at Garamonde’s face. Raistlin could almost imagine him smiling.
Cyan was the first to react. He grabbed some bandages from his bag and rushed to Martican’s side. As Cyan started to help him, Martican told what he knew.
“Cy...Cyan...see...eek...out...the...seck...second...in...comm...” Martican’s eyes were already drifting. “...man...deral...feral...death...will...help...Gara...me...” Martican’s strange words faded away into nothing.
“Is he dead, Cyan?” Sabin was worried.
“He will be if we don’t get him out of here… and I mean now.”
“Leave him.” Garamonde’s voice was clear and commanding.
“But he’ll die if – “
Cyan looked up at Garamonde. “My liege, I cannot abandon a life in need.”
“You will do as I say, or you will fight me.” Garamonde’s eyes stared Cyan down.
Raistlin backed away.
Sabin looked at Garamonde, then at Cyan, and back to Garamonde. And then he looked at Martican.
Cyan never stopped looking at Garamonde. “King Exodus gave his life for this man. I will not let him die.” Cyan’s face was determined.
“Then draw your sword.” Garamonde put his hand on the hilt of his sword and slowly drew it.
Cyan stared. Sabin called out to them, “Don’t fight. Let’s calm ourselves and cont – “
Garamonde’s sword sliced through the air at Sabin. When it was over, Garamonde stood unmoving in a defensive posture and Sabin’s left ear hung from his head by but a bit of skin.
Sabin cried out louder than he had ever thought possible.
Cyan set down Martican’s bandages and stood. He drew his sword. “I thought you were honorable.”
Garamonde answered back. “Martican must not live.”
“You are a coward.”
Garamonde’s expression never once changed. “You, my compatriot, are the coward. Do you just refuse to strike me?”
Cyan looked into Garamonde’s eyes. “You’ve shown me techniques with the sword of such a degree as to that I’ve never seen before. To fight you would be suicide.”
To that, Garamonde smiled. Garamonde actually smiled. And Garamonde had dimples, too. But they weren’t natural. It’s just that Cyan decided to do a small surgical procedure since the smile was there anyway.
Garamonde’s sword kept Cyan from doing further damage. Cyan smiled at Garamonde’s red face.
Garamonde used his sword to push Cyan’s sword to the side and then kicked him. Cyan lost his breath for a split second, but quickly recovered, bringing his sword above him to parry an overhead shot by Garamonde. Garamonde’s next shot came so quickly that Cyan had no time to block. Garamonde’s sword hit the armor on Cyan’s left ankle. The sheer force of the blow brought Cyan to the ground. Garamonde backed up a step to breathe while Cyan got up from the ground.
Garamonde pulled a dagger from his side and threw it to his right. The dagger hit Sabin with sufficient force to knock him unconscious for at least a short while.
Cyan was still breathing hard. The surprise he had used before had netted him a big plus: Garamonde’s face was very bloody. And the time Garamonde had spent on throwing the dagger also got Cyan a big initiative bonus. Cyan had just enough time to hit him with a quadra-slam. “Hissami taught me this one, dishonorable liege.” Cyan used his entire body in the first blow. It stunned Garamonde for a couple of seconds. In that couple of seconds, Cyan hit him again and again and again – and regained his defensive posture before Garamonde had even realized what had happened.
Garamonde stood before Cyan. He was a gruesome sight. There was blood all over his face, and Cyan’s quadra-slam had left an inch deep cut in Garamonde’s leftmost bicep, and three dents in his armor. “Now, you will die.” Garamonde pushed forward with his sword, anticipating Cyan’s block. Garamonde used his left hand to grab Cyan’s stronger hand and Garamonde pried Cyan’s hand off his sword. Garamonde’s other hand swung the sword again, and as Cyan blocked, Garamonde twisted his attack, and Cyan lost his sword. Garamonde threw the sword to his left. “You’ve lost.”
Cyan stopped fighting. He stood straight up, at attention. “I realize that I have lost, but I refuse to yield. Either kill me now or allow me my sword.”
Garamonde looked at the defenseless Cyan. “I’m afraid that I must kill you now.” Garamonde smiled a bloody smile as he pulled back his sword and swung at Cyan.
Suddenly, a beam of intense light hit Garamonde’s sword from across the room. The light slowed his swing, and Cyan was smart enough to dodge the attack. Very quickly, Garamonde’s sword got to be too hot to handle. Garamonde dropped it, and while Cyan was running for his sword, a flame of fire flew toward Garamonde’s head. Cyan grabbed his sword and turned just in time to see Garamonde escaping into a tunnel below. Cyan looked to the source of the fire.
Raistlin stood there, having just finished his spell. He smiled at Cyan. “You held out just long enough for me to use that spell.”
Posted by Eric Herboso at Sunday, July 02, 1995 No comments:
01 July, 1995
The Third World
Sabin took one last look at the desolate world. “Yet another loss.”
Raistlin agreed. “Twice this has happened. We’ve annihilated two whole worlds.” Raistlin held up his necklace and a rip opened up in front of him. “Let’s hope the next world doesn’t share the same fate as ours.”
The triad walked to the rip, weary of their travels and adventures. Little did they know how troublesome their next venture would be.
Shadow appeared first. His first observation was that his ears popped. Cautiously, he listened and smelled his surroundings. It seemed that no one was there. He lit a candle and saw that it was a metal room, and there was indeed no one there. He motioned for the others to enter. They came in one by one, Sabin first with Raistlin following not far behind. The room was barely large enough for the three. It was completely metal, and every single wall, ceiling, and floor included was completely flat.
“Either the craftsmanship is good, or there is some very powerful magic here.” Raistlin touched the walls. There were no indentations or imperfections in the whole of it. “I believe, ” as Raistlin took another look around him, “… that we are stuck.”
“Maybe I can force our way out.” Sabin started to attack one of the walls, but Raistlin stopped him short.
“Not yet. Maybe later. Let’s try finesse before brute strength.” Raistlin’s words rang true.
Shadow searched the room for anything that looked even remotely different from its surroundings. He found nothing. Shadow searched again, and again found nothing. Again he searched – but to no avail. Raistlin stopped him before he could search yet again. “You know as well as I do that further searching won’t change what you’ve already found.” They stood there, dumbfounded at the purpose in constructing such a room, until Sabin came up with a good idea.
“Maybe we should get some rest since we’re not doing anything anyway.” Raistlin agreed, and they started to make room for them to lie peacefully and rest. Shadow squatted down, still looking at his new surroundings, keeping first watch as always. Sooner than even he had expected, the wizard and the brute both fell asleep.
As soon as Shadow felt his eyes getting heavy, he started to wake Sabin. But as soon as he was within a few inches of Sabin’s body, he froze. He had heard something. He knew it. He could feel it. His body started to tingle, and Shadow was now fully awake. His eyes scanned the room. All was the same. But the vibrations were unmistakable. There were others here. He looked in the direction of the sound. They were behind that wall. His hand reached to a pocket on his foreleg. He took the object from his pocket and laid it on the offending wall. It stuck there like a suction cup. Then he gently nudged Raistlin. Raistlin awoke easily, but was unaware of what was happening. Shadow whispered three words.
“Protect us. Now.”
Raistlin knew Shadow was serious by those words and immediately put up a shield of protection around the three. Shadow nodded his thanks and pressed a button on his lapel. The object that had stuck to the wall immediately exploded.
The wall had been torn through and Raistlin’s shields were destroyed. Sabin woke up, groggy as ever, and the shields had depleted Raistlin’s energy. Thus it was up to Shadow to take care of whatever had made the noise behind the wall.
Two men stood there, one black and one white, both looking very surprised by the explosion. Shadow took advantage of their reaction and dispatched them both without problem. He noticed that their strange clothing was oddly identical, except that the colors were different shades. His eyes moved toward his new surroundings. This room was adjacent to the first and identical as well, except that it was more rectangular, like a hallway, and at the opposite side of this hallway was a door. The natives had been speaking here in this room while touching some type of box.
The box was on a table of some sort, made especially for the use of holding up the box. The box was metallic on all sides, except the side that they had been touching. On that side, it looked to be colored glass. Shadow assumed a candle must be lit inside the box, for the glass was glowing. He looked closer at the glass and saw that whomever had made that glass was certainly stupid, for the coloration was ugly, and nothing could be made of the shapes and lines he saw there.
Shadow turned toward his companions. “Come.” Shadow was notorious for not speaking much at all, but lately he had refrained more than usual.
Raistlin stood with little trouble, though still drained of his energy. Sabin stood with more trouble, for he was notorious for being groggy whenever he first awoke.
Shadow lead the group, while the other two helped each other walk. When Shadow reached the door, he motioned for the others to stop. Then he opened the door, slowly and cautiously. Inside he found no one, but was astounded at the layout. The room was huge, like a cathedral back home, he thought. Doors were abound here, as though it were some sort of octagonal foyer. What’s more, another of those boxes was on the far wall. And even more interesting was the floor, for on it was painted a large F.
“Federals.” Sabin was the first to say it, though everyone thought it at the same time.
“But how can there be Federals here? That makes no sense.” Raistlin was right. How could Federals exist on this world?
Shadow voiced the answer. “They must have achieved inter-world travel just as we did. Only they must have gotten it long before us.”
“That means that the MagiMaster may not have been the true leader of the Federals. Maybe even he had someone over him.” Raistlin shuddered at the thought.
Shadow cocked his head to the left. Sabin started to ask him what was wrong, but Shadow motioned to stay quiet. Suddenly, Shadow grabbed Raistlin and threw him toward the high ceiling. Shadow jumped up after him while grabbing some kind of mechanism from one of his back pockets. Quickly, he attached the mechanism to his waist and expertly lassoed Raistlin with a line. Then he attached the line to his waist. By this time, Shadow had reached the crest of his leap toward the ceiling (now four feet away), and had started on his descent back to the ground. But instead of succumbing to gravity, he shot at the ceiling with an automatic grappler on his wrist. It connected, and he hung there, with Raistlin, scared out of his wits, hanging from Shadow’s waist.
Seeing as how all of this took less than two seconds, Sabin, still down below, hadn’t even moved yet. But he wasn’t that stupid, so when he saw Shadow leave abruptly (not knowing where he and the mage had disappeared to), he started to hide. But the room had not been made for hiding. He had managed to scramble to the bottom of the painted ‘F’ on the floor before one of the doors bounding the sides of the octagonal room opened. And out of it came two very large men. Sabin looked at them. They looked at Sabin. Then one of them said in a calm voice, “Security to Cargo Bay B-12.” Sabin thought it odd for him not to yell this obvious command for security. Who in the hell could hear such a statement at that volume?
Then the other said to Sabin what Sabin had been waiting for. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, little man?”
Sabin looked at the two huge men. “I’m gonna beat your sorry ass into a bloody pulp within the next thirty seconds.” Sabin had that determined look in his eye. He knew his comrades had deserted him, but he also knew it would only be temporarily. They’d come back if he needed them.
The two men smiled at Sabin’s statement. “Come over here and try it,” one of them said.
Sabin walked up to the first one, getting right in his face. Sabin frowned at his enemy. The huge man then made his second mistake. He taunted Sabin. “What’s wrong? Did mommy forget to change your diaper?” Sabin’s fist flew into the guy’s face, knocking at least three teeth out and severely damaging his jawbone. Needless to say, he went down.
Then Sabin looked at the other guy. “I got fifteen more seconds to beat your ass.” Sabin threw his fist again, this time into the other guy’s stomach, knocking not only the wind out of him, but also cracking multiple ribs.
Sabin smiled. “Anybody else want some?”
Suddenly, out of the same door the two painfully beaten men had come from, came five more people. All five were much smaller than the two previous bloody-pulp-asses. Sabin laughed at them. “You wimps are guards? Hah!” One of the guards, who looked to be the leader of the group, pushed a small button on the object she held in her hand. From the outward end of the object came a narrow red beam, which immediately extended to Sabin’s body, hitting him square in the chest. Sabin’s face went blank, and his body fell lifeless to the ground.
Shadow and Raistlin, watching from above, saw the scene and were terrified. Neither of them had ever seen anything like that. Shadow was about to jump down to help his fallen comrade, but was unsure as to whether or not Sabin was even still alive. Instead, he attached the line Raistlin hung from to the mechanism on his wrist. Then he detached the object from his body, so that Raistlin now hung by himself from the ceiling. Shadow climbed down to Raistlin, at the end of the rope. Whispering, he said, “Stay here until your magic recovers. I’m going to follow them. I’ll be back as soon as possible. If you’re not here when I get back, I’m going to have to assume you’re dead. If you know that you are going to die, be sure to hide your necklace in this room. Whomever survives is most definitely going to need it.”
Raistlin nodded. “Be careful, Clyde. We don’t have Garamonde to back us up anymore. May true goodness be with you.”
Shadow nodded to his friend. This might be the last time they see each other. Then Shadow concentrated on below once more. All five guards struggled to carry Sabin’s enormous weight outside. Shadow monopolized on their inattentiveness by crawling down to the side wall. He waited until they had left the room, then he got down and followed behind them, as invisible as the air around him.
Posted by Eric Herboso at Saturday, July 01, 1995 No comments:
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