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Archive for August, 2011

After the break, a relatively short log, work safe even! Nessun is credited to Nessun’s player, of course. Marlbane is naturally mine. (more…)

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August 30

Jahgan is up to something with the Argentum Legion. I don’t like it, not even a little. Hector- their leader- is back. I think it’s the first time I’ve met the man, which is odd considering how closely I’ve worked with them in the past. He asked me to be his eyes and ears outside the Argentum Legion, said he was trusting me as a friend of his group. Insomuch as it violates none of the loyalties I hold to the Bastion, I told him I was willing to be that for him. I don’t know how much I’ll see or hear that would be of interest, with all the duties I hold to with the Bastion. But I will keep an ear to the ground and eye open.

Jahgan dragged him off to discuss- something. Perhaps made him aware of the Barclay situation and the dire straights that the Legion is in. I don’t trust it, not at all.

I trust Jahgan with my own life, but only haltingly. Sir Locke asked me how far this trust went, and I couldn’t answer, because I don’t know. I don’t know if I trust him with the lives of all my Bastion, too. And I sure as hell don’t trust him not to drag the Argentum Legion into all this; I said as much and he told me it was their fate.

If it was just my one life on the line, my trust would be implicit. But I can’t risk everyone’s lives when I half suspect the elf is playing me false. I have no reason to believe that he is… after all, I wanted to be led to where I might battle this thing on an even keel. I know where to find it up North, but I also know I couldn’t possibly face it on an open field- even if I brought every ally I had. Avisen Barclay learned that lesson too late, and now the Argentum Legion is in shambles because of his stupidity.

Jahgan leads us to battles, but I know, I know he’s holding out on information and I couldn’t say why, other than the same reason Tremaine did. Tremaine needed things to fall in certain ways, but he and I- we never scored any big victories, the two of us. We kept Barclay alive… and then he promptly got himself and most of the Legion ki

Did he betray me too? Was that also a trap? Everywhere I look I see lies and deceptions, I am not smart enough to know for sure… But I know Tremaine fought it, I had proof but I never knew quite how he came back or why it didn’t work and

I think Tremaine was level with me. Sort of. So many things left unexplained, but it was because he didn’t want

How many times did I tell him I’d flay him alive and pull his organs out one by one while he choked on the fluid in his lungs, if he was playing me false? We fought back to back. He was my only ally for so long. But then, so many of his actions on behalf of fighting the demon ended up making it all the worse for me. I always assumed it was unwitting and necessary to progress the battle, but

I don’t know. If Tremaine was toying with me, then Jahgan certainly is. On my own behalf, I will trust them but keep my eyes sharp. I am used to deception. I adapt quickly.

But for the entire Bastion?

I don’t know.

If he, too, was a traitor all along, then I will deem it hopeless. Light damn me, but I miss him- I almost miss the days when I couldn’t speak of it at all. Where I couldn’t put the ones I care for most in danger. I miss that bastard and his stories, even his god damn vague answers to any query I had. I hated him so much, for so long. I just feel certain that if I could see him- him, not this corrupted sack of flash that used to be him- I could figure out if he was lying to me too.

He said I’d betray him, that the watch showed him as much. He said it would be necessary.

If I am required to run his body through to dismiss the entity possessing him, I’ll do it. Is that the betrayal he spoke of? Will I be forced to kill someone I care for, yet again?

I pray not. But I will do what I have to. Light I pray not. My Bastion comes first, though. My clan and my kinsmen and women.

I got to see Thoran today. Light, but he’s a cute wee lad. I secretly think of myself as his aunt- when he’s big enough, if I’m still alive, I will teach him how to sucker punch someone in the kidneys and aim for the pressure points to escape a hold. Whatever his talents or inclinations become, his aunt Dyna will have shown him how to break free of a mugging or potential kidnapping. Ha!

I don’t know why I get so mooshy around him. Just- he’s so very small, and yet so fierce, and it makes me sort of wish that that had been an option for Strahm and me. It’s utter foolishness, of course. Look at me now. I’m slated to die and if I was in a family way, I’d never be able to fight- it’s for the best, truly, considering what Strahm is and is not these days.

It was never a possibility for us, where we were, where I am now. Utter foolishness.

But Thoran is small and has the biggest brown eyes I ever saw. Strahm’s eyes were grey, always amused. Mine are blue and I think I look- angry, all the time. Or sad, once in a while. I guess I don’t have much of a happy face these days.

His pa can’t precisely associate much with his ma, so I offered to help out whenever he needed. Tristen seemed to think it an excellent idea, and whenever I start to feel like maybe I ought to be doing war-things more, he makes it an order that I play with the baby. Far be it for me to disobey orders.

The pa’s the kind of fellow who looks at every lady with that look in his eye, seems to think he’s the Light’s gift to ladies. Course, if you get him on his own, he likes to talk about Thoran and he’s not half so much of a prat as he is when he’s around a bunch of people. He’s tolerable, I suppose, and he probably needs the help just as much as I want to give it. Raising a child mostly on your own… I don’t think I could do it.

As far Tristen goes… I’m not quite sure how to say it, but I guess it’s just words on a page, after all. Won’t make it any less real if I write it down, right?

His big ol’ wolf gave birth to a litter of puppies. Myk and Thoran and I all went to visit ’em, and they were cute as all hell, squirming little buggers. Myk let me play with the baby and Tristen let me play with the puppies and I was already happier than I’d felt since I signed the papers that the lawyer gave me, because there were PUPPIES and BABY and it was nice, so nice, right?

Then Tristen tells me that the big black one was for me, and that it meant they’d like me to be a part of their Clan, which is kind of like a family except not quite.

Orgo once told me I’d be an Ironshot, wanted to make it all official-like, but we never really got around to it, so busy being 7th Legion and stuff. This is different, though. It- it isn’t quite like having a brother, like Orgo was. It’s not quite so close as that. I guess a clan is Highland thing, a Gilnean way that you can be born into- like Tristen and Arwain- married into- like Leannan- or just plain adopted into, like me and Myk and Thoran.

I feel- conflicted.

Part of me is so happy, so happy, because it’s more of a family than just the whole Bastion at once, or the whole Sigil at once, and I’ve got people I can call my own after everything that’s happened with Strahm and Mayru. I feel my best when I’m protecting something more to me than just a name or a banner. Tristen’s a good man, a good commander, a good knight. Lea’s sweet, if a bit odd from the pregnancy. I haven’t met Arwain, but I’m sure she’s nice too. The idea of protecting Myk and Thoran is appealing as well, having some tie other than the loyalty of my heart to defend all that is innocent and small…

But the other part of me screams, what am I doing? A worg pup? A clan? I’m going to die soon, what business do I have pretending it’s otherwise? I’m irresponsible, to take this on. I’m stupid to think I’ll live long enough to see Thoran’s first year. And a worg pup? What am I thinking? What if I get him killed along with me? There’s a reason I don’t have family or loved ones, and that’s because I’ve failed them al

I’m being stupid, at a guess. Ludo’d hit me, Ziichi would roll her eyes. I’d disappoint them all.

And then to add icing to the cake, he asked me to squire for him. I tried to warn him that I’d failed in the past, but he didn’t seem to be hearing any of it, only grinned that grin. I wanted

But then, I wanted with Godfrey, too, and look where that got me. I wanted in the Sepulchre order. My intentions were never anything but the best, invariably I’ve failed. What makes me think it’ll be different this time? I have the ring still, don’t I? All the rings, all three of them, that describe to me how I’ve failed my friends.

I said I’d do it, that I’d be honored to do. I took the oath right then and there, may my blood curdle and my skin boil to ash if I’ve told a lie this night. I want to become better than I am. I want to be more than I was, to be more than silly Dyna Dawnhammer getting her bones smashed in and her skin set aflame, I want to be more than Odynae Vindalis, betrayed time and again, sworn to secrets that I was never good at keeping.

I’m reaching, but Light help me if I stumble and fall. I don’t know how much more failure my heart can take. I have to be better. Braver. Stronger. Smarter. A better fighter, a better mender, a more skilled tactician. Someone who can tell when she’s being deceived and tricked. Someone who isn’t afraid of a little flame.

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Job hunting

Marlbane Gallant.

Lies upon lies, the small voice in the back of her mind whispered, but she wrote it down stubbornly anyway, left hand making the task doubly difficult with clumsy motions. She eyed her penmanship skeptically, a deep frown etching her features. She could hardly go by Brightmoore, now- the family estate up in flames, her grandmother’s fraudulent scheme to disinherit her and profit from it… no. Her true name was sullied when she became a kinslayer and a blood traitor. Proper ladies didn’t fight back, were docile to their families wishes.

Proper families don’t sell their heirs either.

The thought was a bitter one. Cousin Edmund had no doubt taken over by now, attempting to put the family’s depleted estates back in order- no doubt as the old bitch planned it– but the money wasn’t there, would never be there. Brightmoore was destined to failure, unless Edmund pulled some new scheme from his arse, and quickly.

Perhaps my dear cousin will find himself a nice rich bride. The thought made her scoff, the tip of her quill tapping against the paper, dry. Edmund was heavy-handed at best, brutish at worst. The war had left him with half his face in ruins, missing an eye and some teeth. He was thirty, but already palsied and weak from a crippled left leg. He was rumored to be the cause of at least four missing whores in the Hilsbrad area, before the Forsaken incursion. Vicious and without humor, unattractive and poor to boot, Marlbane severely doubted his ability to find and woo an attractive, moneyed bride.

The thought was as little comfort as her recollections of visiting the burned husk of the manorhouse. That had been Haydin’s doing, not her own; but her grandmother’s death was on her hands even so.

Brightmoore was as good as buried, as hollow as those last few charred timbers still standing. Her own nobility would be buried and forgotten. Which meant finding a ‘job’ and keeping it.

She was hardly going to go out for a barmaid, whores the lot of them who made as much money on their backs as they did among the tables. Her lip curled scornfully at the thought, and she made a sharp ‘tsk’ sound between her clenched teeth. I am not a whore. The words were hard and familiar, a soothing litany that eased her as she refocused on the paper at hand. Lies upon lies upon lies. References… time to use some imagination.

Her eyes fell half-lidded and the quill-tip tapped a few more times in agitation before she dipped it tidily to the ink and began to scrawl names. Kendall Von Henderson, serving soldier in the Northern Offensive; employed Marlbane Gallant as a clerical aid for a period of two years before leaving to join her son up North. Volunteered at the Happy Hearts Orphanage, destroyed in Deathwing’s attack. Spent the last six months on a pilgrimage to deepen connection to the Holy Light.

Lie after tidily, carefully written lie filled the page. Why do you want to work for the Stormwind Auction House- Auctions are an essential part of the Stormwind economy which fascinates me. These questions were stupid, and after her experience being turned down from the bank, an armorsmith, and an apothecary, she felt little regret spewing falsehood on the page. Pride required that she obtain a ‘job’, even if a ‘job’ went against everything she’d been raised for- her duty was supposed to be husband, children, family. But Nessun was right.

What she was raised for was never what she’d wanted. Trophy wife, felcasting sacrificial lamb, demon puppet- none of it was what she wanted.

What do I want…?

Freedom to find out what it is I want in the first place. I’ve been a pawn my whole life.

Am I even a person, now? My soul is riddled and decayed, corruption seeps through my fingertips and I have degraded myself by consorting with demons. I can never have what it is I want, because the Light wouldn’t touch me with a ten-foot pole. I’ll settle for something else, then. Something lesser. Something suited to me.

Until then, she would be Marlbane Gallant, aspiring priestess Initiate, and clerical associate of the Stormwind Auction House.

I could be anything I want to be, except the one thing I truly want. How droll.

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August 28

I don’t have a choice in this.

I could lay down right now and give up and die, or worse. But feeling sick with misery does nothing for the cause, hating myself for bringing this on them isn’t helping anything.

I can’t undo it, but I can keep from dragging others into it. This was a lesson. Do not expose the few things remaining to care for to a threat that will gladly use them as fodder. Stop asking for help.

It’s all water under the bridge, now. I have to focus. Jahgan said something about the demon attacking a small town- what can we do to prepare for that likelihood? And when will he come back to show me what was revealed to him? I will visit the Stormwind archives today, and see what I may find… caltrops will do no good, they’ll be more a hindrance to ourselves than to our enemy. Magic is no good, but sheer brute physical force seems to have some impact- perhaps explosives. Light, but I detest explosives. It can’t be helped.

Netting, lifted by Newt perhaps… lined with explosives or- something that could be magically activated from afar. Something heavy. Something explodey. Mmmn.

I can’t give up now. Not when I’ve come this far already. I can’t lose them too. I won’t let that happen. I have to be smarter, stronger, braver- better. I will make this work somehow.

I was being stupid, to lie there listlessly. I was being weak. I’m lucky I wasn’t compromised, taken, turned then and there- my will has to be stronger than this. I won’t st

Enough. It’s done.

Mahl gave me a walking stick and a sword. The stick is etched with a rune, he says he was practicing… it was touching. And the sword has a comm-stone built into it. That’s probably the best idea I’ve ever heard. I cooked fish for the fourty-seventh last night. I can hobble about some, with the brace, and the experimental trollsblood goop seems to be working well- I’ve been recording the effects.

I don’t know what Istari did to my ribs, but I swear they feel even better than they were before.

I don’t have time to sit around being pathetic. Focus, Dyna- focus. I can’t stop fighting. I won’t stop fighting. To be still will be the death of me. Yesterday I was weak. Today I will do better.

When this is all done, I can allow myself time to mourn and hurt. I promise myself that much. But duty comes before sorrow, death is as a feather, life is the mountain I will hold to steadfast. Tears may come later, now is the time for blood and sweat and working until there’s nothing left to do.

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((NSFW. Inappropriate language. Potentially disturbing content.))

Warlock.

The word was a hiss and an itch and a spark in the small of her spine. There were empty places inside of her now, and she felt them, constantly- an awareness that she stubbornly shuffled to the back of her mind, focusing instead on her surroundings, on the hatred she nursed like a bitter man in his cups nursed his last shot of whiskey.

There were many things Marlbane Brightmoore hated.

The corridors of the Rose felt stifling, the shadows of them unnerved her. She could feel eyes, watching, hidden, lurking- the back of her neck prickled and she quickened her step, past a man sleeping in the lobby, pausing only to spare the glowering woman at the counter an imperious stare. The counter woman looked unimpressed, and Marlbane felt heat rising in her cheeks, but what did it matter what some poxy innkeeper’s wife thought? I am not a whore. She reminded herself, tugging the sleeves of her modestly cut robe over her mauled right hand.

She felt queasy from the miasma of smoke and body odor rising from the hallways, punctuated only by cheap perfume and the occasional murmur of conversation behind closed doors as she passed. She counted the doors automatically, drawing to a halt at the one Nessun had indicated.

Not a whore, not a toy, not a warlock any longer either. I will cut out his eyes and feed them to the crows.

The dagger at her hip was heavy, the sheath made of battered scorched leather. It was a comfort to her fingers as they passed over it, wary- for all the good it would do, she could scarcely grasp the weapon past her gouge, let alone effectively wield it with her left hand. Her gaze made a rapid survey of the room Nessun had purchased, sweeping automatically over the familiarity of his things, double-checking the corners and deepest shadows for things that ought not be. She tasted the air with a deep, quivering breath- reluctantly, she tugged a tendril of oily shadow, let it soil her as she eased it to her fingertips. Filthy, vile magics- I am not a warlock any longer, this is for both of our protection.

But the room was empty of demons, and none lurked nearby, ready to attack from the shadows. She let her hand fall from the dagger, recoiled from the bit of magic and hastily shunted it back, shuddering at the lingering traces it left behind, the aching in her teeth and painful flare of awareness. It was like pulling a weed, but the places where the roots tangled with me are gone. Will I ever feel less hollow?

The thought was an idle one, shunted to the side and abandoned as quickly as it had occurred. She spared a deadpan glance at the man in the bed, but true to his word, he had, in fact, retained his pants. Which was good. She dreaded coming home, or as close to home as she was going to get, to the sounds of fucking and the giggles of whatever new whore Nessun took to his bed. Tonight he was alone, the contours of his heavily muscled form stark in the dusty moonlight that crept through the filthy windowpane.

He wasn’t an unattractive man. It was hard not to notice that- he was easy on the eyes, well groomed and with a muscular figure honed from years of fighting. She knew where his tattoos lay, knew the scars of his torso like the scars on her own palms. She could recall wicked stirrings, a thousand scenarios that more twisted minds than her own had run her through until it was all she could do not to scream her frustrations- but she felt nothing, now. Only tired and heavy with anger, empty and aching.

I’m not a whore. The words were a whisper in her mind, a pleading in the silence where the voices had once lurked. There was nothing in her to disagree, yet she couldn’t fill it- there wasn’t enough left within her to make their absence seem real again.

Only the constant spasm of phantom fingers reminded her. Her right hand was useless, padded thick with bandaging to make it appear more a hand than what it was- a skeletal, festering remnant of what was once a functioning limb. She’d fought them, Nessun at her side. They’d beaten them back, they’d vanquished them.

So why did she feel so hollow?

Her clumsy left hand peeled away her boots, fumbling with the buckles of her belt as she carefully set it to the floor beside the sleeping man’s armor kit. Too tired to feel more than a cursory pang of discomfort, she rummaged through his things to borrow a shirt, pausing to listen to the man’s steady breathing breathing. He was well and truly asleep, though she eyed him with the wariness of someone who was well accustomed to deceit, studying the rise and fall of his chest in silence for a long minute before carefully unlacing her robes and letting the finery drift to the floor.

She stole a glance at herself in the mirror and instantly regretted it.

Her body was small, well put together if a bit on the slender side for her tastes. The swell of her breasts was considerable, the neat curve of her waist and hips pleasing to her critical eye. Her arms were lithe and strong, her legs less gangly and stork-like than the last time she’d inspected herself… she was attractive, but for the -words- cut into her flesh.

Whore. Toy. Pet. Thing.

The scars were silver in the moonlight, standing out starkly against her dusky golden skin. Last time she’d seen them they were still ugly red things, but time had faded them to an austere sterling. Some of the letters were warped and skewed by what had been infection once, but she knew what each word said. Her arms moved to cover herself, but it was no use. They were there and she knew it with every beat of her heart, couldn’t erase them, couldn’t undo them.

Marlbane looked away from her reflection and pulled on the too-large shirt, burying herself within it. It smelled like Nessun- a thought which both disturbed and comforted her at the same time. Brief recollections of dust and days spent in silence- a flash of fire and brimstone and -Light- searing out. He wouldn’t mind, and she was hardly going to let her robe become ruined by wrinkles. She padded silently over to the discarded dress and draped it over her ruined hand to hold it up for inspection, before carefully loosing it to the back of a chair.

She turned to eye the bed with a raised eyebrow, too tired to come up with accommodations on the floor. They’d an understanding, and he wouldn’t try anything. If he did…

Remembered fantasies flashed through her mind and her cheeks grew hot with seething anger and humiliation, teeth clenching and eyes watering. Fuck you, Jhorthea. Miserable bitch better be being had by every core-hound in hell, let the infernals split her crusted cunt in two- I hope she’s fucked into pieces, I hope there’s nothing left of her but a cum stain and misery.

She’d bear it, and then she’d be gone before he could say a word about it later. I am not a whore. The words were a quiet mantra, echoing inside the stillness.

Slender shoulders sagging in defeat, she shook herself and silently padded to the empty side of the large bed, shifting the coverlets as little as she could before slipping inside them. She could feel his nearness, the heat of his skin- could hear the soft rhythm of his breathing in the night. After a moment she shifted, turning her back to the man and moving to press it to him. Safe. If they come, we will fight them. Together, like we did last time.

Her surging heartbeat stilled at the thought and she let her eyes fall closed.

When my hands are mended and the fire in my mind has cleared, I will remember this. I will take his eyes and feed them to the crows. He should have let sleeping dogs lie.

The thought was a comforting one, and her imagination drifted to the terrible cruelties she might someday inflict on Kialthos. It was as close as she’d get to a lullabye, and it send her off to strangely comforting violence ridden dreams.

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August 26

Duty heavy as a mountain, death light as a feather.

I can’t do this. Please not again.

Not them, too. Mothers and husbands and sisters and wives and warriors and menders and they all could have died almost died because of me.

Mahlar said he’d die for me, because that is what you do for your friends. But I want my friends to live.

I won’t let this

I don’t have a choice

I can’t do this.

Let me walk in silence into the dark places, let it consume me until I am dust and bone and withered hide.

I would rather be nothing than doom to those I love and care for.

Please, please, please let is stop… this is more than I can stand. Traitor. Betrayer. Death. All I bring is lies and pain and suffering.

Why anyone should ever have cared in the first place is beyond me. I am nothing but a dark cloud full of bitter omens and bad news.

I can’t do this. But I don’t know how to make it stop. It’s too late. I have to stay strong. I have to sta

((The entry is written in a jagged hand, and is crumpled, then smoothed. It’s dirty and smeared, and seems to have been tucked into the beaten tome of her journal as an afterthought.))

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August 25

Odynae Dawnhammer.

Dyna Dawnhammer.

Ms. Dawnhammer.

Aspirant Dawnhammer.

I am not Vindalis anymore.

A marriage is more than a name and a ring and a constant stream of prayers for the well-being of a husband long absent.

Do I see a future with the thing that is not him, or am I just too scared to move on? I’m not afraid to move on. It’s only that I don’t want to. I love him. Have loved him. And if I’m not Odynae Vindalis, then I must be Dyna Dawnhammer, that stupid girl who left the Abbey two years ago or more and didn’t know anything.

I can’t trust him. I can’t trust him. I feel dirty on the inside. Soiled and rotten. I can’t trust him and he did that himself, whether or not Mayru is right or wrong. Neither of them was there when I needed

I don’t need

It’s better this way. Ziichi said it wasn’t me that was dirty and broken, that his lies ought not make me feel like the vile one. I didn’t know. I should have known but I didn’t know and his lies don’t make me less unless I let them make me less and I don’t

Northcutt showed me his genitals. Waggled them at me and told me I’d be begging for them. He’s a liar I can smell it on him past the bourbon, he’s like Strahm was- just a mask, and what’s real underneath? Sometimes the mask hides the monster, no matter how monstrous the mask. What’s beneath this one. I don’t know. But I seen him pantsless and it sagged and it was horrible I will castrate him if I ever have to see that shit again.

I went out and got shamefully drunk. Ziichi and Mahl said something about holding my hair back if I puked and putting me in some sort of fancy nighty, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to forget Northcutt and his dingle-dangle johnson and forget Strahm and forget everything, just for a little. I just wanted

Doesn’t matter what I wanted it was stupid and it was wrong and I was stupid and wrong to do it. Ludovick called me a disgrace as a vessel for the Light. He was right. I was yelling and cussing and crying. What the hell was I thinking. Such a little thing to upset me, it’s not like I haven’t seen genitals before- only Strahm’s but it doesn

I can’t think ab

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I’ll castrate him if he does it again, I don’t care what lies beneath the mask I’ll do it I’ll cut it right the fuck off I never should have had to see

Stupid. I’m so stupid. Ziich was right- never thought I’d have cause to write that down. Ludovick was right. Mahl was right. McAllister was right.

Today is a new day. I’ll do better. I won’t lose my temper today. I won’t do something stupid.

I found Tia last night. She knew me. She knew me. Thank the Light, she knew my name and I told her about the dwarf we need to get and she said it was unusually cunning and cruel of me- then said she liked it. Of course she did, have I really changed so much? She doesn’t believe that Barclay’s dead and I’m damned if I tell her where his body lies, knowing her she’ll think herself clever and waltz right into that TRAP TRAP TRAP and die just like he did, she doesn’t believe there was ever anything wrong with her, but it’s okay because she’s here and she knows my name, she remembers me. I missed her. LIGHT I missed her so much…

Talked to Tristen too. He wasn’t happy when he found out I’d been feeding the 47th nothing but oatmeal. Said it wasn’t the point. I’ll do better. He looks thin and wan and like he hasn’t been sleeping, insists he’s fine. Lea worries for him, I can tell from her voice. Northcutt worries for him too but Northcutt’s a fucking fucker and I’m going to chop his balls off.

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