Benders

Keep Out

The Benders took turns on watch through the night just in case Barbie and the Bears returned. They did not. They were able to take a lazy start to their day as the sun rose into the sky. Even with the start they arrived at the ruined keep before noon. This keep, like Pedraig’s, was built on a small hill but, unlike Pedraig’s, the treeline had crept closer to the keep over the years with no one to maintain it.

From the edge of the trees, the Benders could see what was left of the keep.

Shadowfell 001

They watched and listened for a while but there was no motion and no sound other than the wind through the trees.

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Leaving the Well

The Benders spent a fair bit of time bandaging the warriors up, both to stop the bleeding and to give the barbarian and his friends a good head start. Sister Linora supplemented the bandaging with her magical abilities. Ice and JohnE had their nerves plunged into a wave of icy water when Linora touched them. Her touch was so cold that it felt like they were being burned. They had grown accustomed to the chill of her healing touch but this was different and, by look in her eyes, it was different to her too. She rubbed her hands together as if they too had been plunged in ice water. When the pain of the healing subsided, both warriors felt almost as good as new, though a little tired.

After a snack, you know, to give the guys with the big swords, axes, and teeth, just that much more time to get to the north, the Benders started their own journey north. All of them were aware of the potential of an ambush and stayed alert. The dingo moved ahead and ranged to the sides, sniffing here and there.

The Benders stopped to make camp when Linora told them they were about 30 minutes from the ruined keep.

JohnM said, “Everything that Rigel is passing along to me says that the barbarian and his friends haven’t deviated from the path and are still in front of us. So they haven’t doubled back to attack us. Yet.”

CB will quietly mention to JohnM that the magic weaves used by Sister Linora seem to be stronger than before. “Just wanted to keep you in the loop, is all” she whispers

;;; Need to do anything before moving on to the next day?

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The Well - R4?

JohnM went rigid for a second as he began to put the Glock back in it’s holster. When he spoke again there was an edge in his voice that hadn’t been there the moment before. “Yes. Yes, I think that you should go north to your destination now. and since you did me the courtesy of speaking plainly and clearly, I will return the gesture.” He raised the weapon to point at the barbarian once more.

“Go north. As quickly as you can. Do not stop. Do not attempt to capture and eat any others of the folk you come across. If you fear you shall starve before reaching Addinack, then you had best become good at foraging and hunting non-sentient game. Reach Addinack and never return here. We will make sure that word spreads through this whole region of your capture of the woman from the nearby keep and what you intended to do to her. The people here will be forewarned of what to expect from your kind. Consider this the one and only warning you will receive. If you or your friends show your faces in this part of the land again, I can assure you that there will not be a second warning. Now leave. As you are. With what you carry. And do not look back.”

The barbarian looked at his cohorts and then at the Benders and then shrugged. He gave a wave to Bigfoot, signaling him to move north. “A pity,” Bigfoot said to JohnE, “though, truthfully, cooking humans totally ruins the flavor.”

“We shall continue our trek north, then,” the barbarian said to JohnM. He turned and walked toward the polar bear who rolled from his seated position so that he was standing, waiting for the other two.
When they are out of sight, CB steps forward and lets out a big sigh. “Good job with chasing them off, but the confrontation was making me nervous” she says with a laugh.

With the trio headed off to the north, Mark shared their story:

CB and Mark moved ahead with the dog, alert for the next attacker. They came to a small area, almost a circle of trees. In the center of the circle, was a circle of rocks with twigs and branches thrown in it. Hanging partway over the stones is a large rotting log. Next to the log are scuff marks that lead to the south. Following the marks, the Benders find a woman, bound hand and foot, hiding under some brush.

Success – I am not sure how I reply to that secret info. I will try this. CB will look at the area for any traps or such (search 4, roll of 124=16) and then user her investigate skill to figure out what is going on (investigate 10, roll of 1210=22) and, if all appears safe, she will check on the condition of the woman – removing gag, seeing if she is breathing, ask who she is …(“hello, its alright, I am called CB – who are you and what happened?”)

CB didn’t notice any traps or such. After removing the gag and brushing some of the dirt out of the woman’s face, CB and Mark both recognized her. It was Viola from the keep, the woman the sells flowers in the market.

“They were going to eat me,” she whispered.

“Well, that is definitely bad” CB whispered back. “Let’s untie these ropes and sneak off before they come back. Quietly, now…they were kind of beating the tar out of us”

She gets Viola to her feet and looks at the dog for a moment “Well? What’s your plan?”

Mark asks “Viola, WHO was going to eat you? Are you well enough to move?” He also looks around to see if he can make sense of the “campsite” to see if it looks like the recent attackers might be responsible. (is ther e a check I can do?)

(No check necessary because . . .)

“Some big hairy men,” Viola said. She rubbed her arms and legs, which showed all the threads of the rope that bound her because it was so tight. She nodded to the question about being able to move but seemed shaky.

Mark “Did they have a big white bear with them?”. I also get a sinking feeling that this will not end well….

“Yes,” she whispered, looking around, terrified that they will return.

“CB, can you contact any of the others with your vulcan mind control deal? If not, Viola, if you want to get back to the keep, you may do so, or if you feel safer with us, feel free to stay with us, but keep behind us.” I’ll want to move quietly back toward the others and hope to be able to point my x-bow at the base of the skull of the barbarian

CB whispers to Mark “I cannot communicate until we get within 30 feet or so. We should slip off to the south, since they are heading north. I can come back and let the others know what is the deal and they can move off with us.” Does Viola seem to be healthy enough to move off on her own, or will she need assistance? What does the dog do?

Viola is pretty shaken up but if it means getting away from the hairy men, she’ll run a 4-40.

The dog has gone back to the east, a little bit, toward where you came from. He’s watching you but he looks like he’s going to head back toward the group.

CB will see off Viola, and then walk back with Mark to the group. When she is within 30 feet of the the closes person, she will “cast” lesser mindlink to make a mental bond with that person – and will let them know what we have found out. Power works for 20 minutes over any range, once it is initiated at range 30 feet. Uses one power point, 5 points remain.

Let me know who is closest to CB when she initiates contact, or if you just want me to talk to the whole group in the open post (which might be easier)

“Now that everyone is caught up that far,” JohnM said, “I’d like to introduce you all to someone.” The dingo strode out of the underbrush to sit in front of him. He squatted down and scratched the fur behind the dog’s ears. "Everyone, this is Rigel. At least that’s what I’m going to call him until I figure out a way to ask him if he has a name. Apparently the style of magic I have picked up here comes with something like a cross between a familiar and an animal companion. (OOC: info now posted on my character page)

“He’s the one that broadcast the emotions that I felt from the road as those guys were about to make a snack of Viola. If not for him, she would be… toast? Anyway, I get the distinct impression that he has better senses than the rest of us so maybe we stand a better chance now.

“How badly hurt are we? Do we need to plan on resting over night before we get too close to the ruins so we can heal up?”

“Healing up now makes sense, as well as making camp a few hours South of the keep…” says Bex. He watches north until the big hairy men are comfortably away, then he pulls off his headless hood, exposing his face finally. “They seemed pretty anxious to get away from us… I doubt they’ll be a problem again.” He smiles, and turns to Viola. “I’m glad we found you when we did… everybody was concerned when you didn’t return home.”

He pauses a moment, and continues… “Pedraig has ordered us to infiltrate the Goblin Keep to the North as soon as possible. You mentioned that there isn’t much Goblin activity around noon. That could be the changing of the guard or something: which would be a perfect time to sneak in… and we can’t miss that chance. Are you well enough to walk? Do you need an escort back to Winterhaven, can you run back alone, or would you like to go North with us? We’ll do everything we can to keep you safe, but we must be at the keep as soon as possible, and before noon.”

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The Well - R3

Ice pulled free from the Polar Bear’s savage mauling at the last minute. “Alright, have it your way, Fluffy,” Ice growled at the bear despite the pain from his injured shoulder. This time, he made a heavy overhead swing aimed at the bear’s skull. (ATK: 8 + 9 + 4 = 21; Burned 1 AP) The hit connected and a bloody red gash appeared on the bear’s otherwise pristine coat. (DMG: 8 + 6 = 14)

The Barbarian raised his hands in the universal surrender gesture. He growled some gutteral order and the polar bear and bigfoot stopped their attack.

Seeing the Barbarian surrender, Bex yells out to his friends “Hold your attacks!” He then studies the Barbarian for a moment, with his still-invisible head. “We go by several names in these parts… In the keep to the south we are known as the ‘Kobold Killers,’ but we are also known as the ‘Benders.’ As my friend said, we are traveling north to stop a necromancer from opening a demon gate. If you’d please, we’d like to know who you are and what is going on here.” (Diplomacy: 15+12=27)

“Goonie-goo-goo,” the bigfoot says.

“We are just travelling north,” the barbarian says. “Trying to get to cooler climes.”

The polar bear settles down onto all four feet but keeps a watch on Ice.

JohnM said, “But why did you attack us without provocation? And either one of your friends can actually speak our language or there is another that hasn’t shown himself yet. And what was meant by ’you’ve spent too much time among the humans?’ That sounds an awful lot like both the individuals conversing would not be counted among them. Care to explain further?”

mark keeps his x-bow leveled at the BF, but doesn’t fire, just waiting to see how this plays out a little.

“Paranoia,” the barbarian answered. “It’s been a rough journey and we assumed you were attacking us. If not, then, we’ll just continue our journey.”

“I can appreciate paranoia,” JohnM said. After a brief pause, he said “Something isn’t adding up. Mark – CB – Will you go a little ways to the east and check things out while we keep our friends company?” The dog got up, walked a little way to the east and looked back at them.

mark with a nod to JohnM and a glance at CD moves off to the east CAUTIOUSLY!

With a look at the barbarian (sense motive plus 4, roll of 14+4=18), CB follows Mark to the east, senses alert for danger.

“You’re standing on my sword,” the barbarian said, implying that he would rather that JohnM not be standing on the sword.

JohnM replied, “I meant no disrespect,” and moved his foot off the blade. But he also used the movement to push the sword back behind him and away from the barbarian. “I just woundlt want anyone to get hurt further by any miscommunication.”

“Well then, friend,” the barbarian said. “Let me see if I can make this clear enough. I plan on leaving and going north and I plan on taking my sword with me.”

JohnE glanced up at bigfoot and casuually asked, “Where were you headed again?”

“Addinack,” bigfoot said. “Heard of it?”

Bex decides to steer the conversation away from Barbarian pissing matches and towards friendly chit-chat… “Addinack? No… probably too far north. Do you know the place, Linora?”

“Yes,” the healer said. “It is far to the north.”

The barbarian raised an eyebrow at JohnM.

JohnM lowered and sheathed his scimitar. Without taking his eye (or Glock) off the barbarian, he bent down to retrieve the barbarian’s sword. Holding it point to the ground, he offered it to the large man. “Perhaps we can start afresh by putting our weapons away together. As I said, time is precious and we want no trouble with anyone who isn’t about to open a gate to the abyss. We would, however, welcome any information that might help us reach the keep to the north and achieve our goal.”

Bex holsters his Glock, and continues with their friendly chat, “how well do you know this area? Do you know anything about the keep to the North?”

“Nothing at all,” Bigfoot said.

Since most of the action had died down, Ice put away his sword, but not without maintaining a healthy distance between himself and Fluffy. “Well, I guess that makes us even,” Ice said, referring to the bite and slash he and the bear had received from each other, respectively. "Since they’re all busy with their chit-chat, I suppose we’ll just have to keep each other company. “Sooo, have you met any other pretty bears lately?” Ice asked half-jokingly while trying to keep a non-threatening appearance.

The bear sat back on its haunches and looked around.

“I suppose we’ll be on our way,” the barbarian said, putting his sword in a sling-like scabbard over his back.

CB calls back to the group “What the heck are we looking for again?” right before a branch whacks her in the face. God forsaken world, can’t even get a decent cup of coffee here!

(;;; Hint for CB and Mark – Look below.)

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The Well - R2

;;; There are technical difficulties with the map. I’ll have it up as soon as I recreate it from the old map.

“No offense, buddy. Back in our world, PETA would chew me up for thinking about getting a rug made out of you,” Ice said before delivering another swing with his longsword (ATK: 5 + 9 = 14). But the polar bear just stepped out of the way. Ice thought maybe the excessive bear jokes had something to do with his rotten luck with his sword skills.

The Barbarian (Def 17) grunted as he took another mighty swing at JohnM but the spell and John’s unnatural fear of being cut in half worked in getting the shaman out of the path of the blade.

Bex takes a few steps towards the Barbarian, and once he’s in range, blasts him with a Color Spray (save vs will). Bex was hoping to stun him for at least one round… so JohnM could easily disarm him.

A jet of prismatic colors springs from Bex’s hand blasting around JohnM and into the barbarians eyes. The brute roars out and covers his eyes with both hands, dropping his sword in the process.

JohnM wasn’t about to let Bex’s quick thinking go to waste. Stepping forward to put a foot onto the Very Large Sword™, he pressed the tip of his scimitar into the base of the barbarian’s throat (while drawing his Glock) and said “There’s a necromancer who’s about to flood this world with demons from the abyss. We aim to stop him and we don’t have time for this foolishness. If you wish to remain alive to protect the things you hold dear, call off your friends now before anyone gets hurt.” Then he aimed the Glock point-blank at the barbarian’s head and awaited an answer. (OOC: Attack action with the Glock is readied for immediate use in case it is necessary.)

Strangely enough, the dingo trotted over beside JohnM and sat down beside him watching the barbarian too.

The Polar Bear (Def 18) lunged hard at Ice pushing past the shield and bit down hard on the knight’s shoulder. He shook the Bender as if he was trying to tear Ice’s shield arm completely off (-19 hp).

Johne winds up with a punch to the face of Bigfoot? Attk:22 Dmg: 9

Linora stepped up beside JohnE and made a wild swing with her staff, smacking a tree heartily.

Mark take careful aim with his x-bow (rolled a fraking 20!, second crit roll an 8…I THINK that means max damage on the first roll tho for 11 points, we should put the crit hit stuff in the wiki) hitting Harry hard. A fist pump in the air later he reloads is x-bow for the next round, while looking a round furtively for anyone sneaking up behind him/checking how his friends are faring.

CB is shocked at how the polar bear manhandles Ice! Time to raise the level a bit – and she focuses her mental energies to hit the bear with a blast of concussive mental energy (ring of concussion, first time today (8 pts damage out of 3d6; fort save for half). Sigh, so much for her vaunted mental powers…

Bigfoot (Def 19) took another hefty swing with his axe and cut the martial artist again (-13 hp).

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The Well - R1

Ice stopped running upon hearing the voices up ahead and quickly checked himself and his sword and shield. His eyes swept the vicinity (Spot Check: 21) while he tried to listen (Listen Check: 13) for any more from the disconcerting growling speech. “Ho there!” he spoke in a loud voice. “We’ve pressing matters at hand and we’d rather that nobody gets hurt. And by ‘nobody’ I mean you guys hiding in the bush. Show yourselves!”

Ice saw and heard motion to the left. Someone or something wearing white armor was moving to get into flank position to that side and apparently completely ignored the warnings issued by Bex and Ice.

“There,” Ice said waving his shield to his left.

“And there,” Bex said pointing to the right. He was sure that he saw Bigfoot and he didn’t have his camera out and ready. A big hairy bipedal creature (eating beef jerky?).

The trees were so thick here that both only caught glimpses of the flankers. Shooting through these trees was going to be a big pain in the ass.

(Combat modifier for missile weapons due to trees: +4 defense if attacker is 4 squares or more away)

;;; I randomized placement of the Benders since you’ve been running through and between trees trying to keep up with JohnM.

Map

;;; Now, let’s start Round 1.

Ice ran 4 squares NE and 1 square N in hopes of intercepting and stopping the flank attempt. Ice darted around the trees on a path to head the creature off. He came around a final tree and was surprised by what he saw. “This is Oregon, right?” As Ice skidded to a stop, a polar bear (a freaking polar bear?!) stood to its fullest height and growled at the comparably puny person. The warrior then swept his sword in an arc between himself and the (polar?!) bear but missed. (5 + 9 = 14) “Well, it seems I’m about to find myself in a bear… This has got to be the most un bear able joke ever. There’s bare ly any ice around here!” Ice spouted incredulously as he almost lost his bear ings.

From directly ahead of the group came some kind of battle cry straight out of Braveheart, and charging through the brush and trees was some kind of madman wielding a big-ass two-handed sword. The sword seemed to snag on some of the branches, giving JohnM a chance to narrowly duck beneath the blade. Between the size of the blade and the size of the barbarian’s bulging biceps, JohnM was sure that he’d likely be cut in half if the sword ever hit him.

Bex growls low, and fires twice with his Glock (12+5-4=13, 6+5-4=7). The bullets go sailing through the trees. Likely, there won’t be any direct hits through these trees, but he prepares to Dodge just in case.

JohnM decided he didn’t want to give the barbarian dude the change to skewer him with the giant pig-sticker. So, being careful not to give him any openings, he pull the lines of energy into a shield to protect himself (Shield – Defensive Casting, DC 16, Roll 25 – +4 to Defence). He shouted at the man, “We don’t want any trouble and no blood has been spilt yet. But we won’t hold back if you continue to attack. Back off now and live!” Then, hoping that he hadn’t been duped into walking into a trap, he Concentrated (roll 8+4[action point]=12) on pinpointing where the panic and warning feelings he sensed were coming from.

At that moment, a small shape darts out from between the trees and bushes. It looks like a wild dog or dingo and it begins to snap at the barbarian’s heels and sets itself up opposite JohnM in the fight. Momentarily confused by the dramatic appearance, JohnM looks like he finally understands what’s going on.

The Polar Bear swiped with both huge paws and lunged for a bite but Ice was able to hide behind his shield and avoid it all.

Johne turns and charges the creature to the south. Attk:12. He bounces off just about every tree in front of him, tries to kick him in the ankle, and miss.

Sister Linora followed JohnE after the big foot, hoping to be able to help him, at least a bit. She holds out her hand as if steadying the martial artist after his lame kick. The power of nature flows into her as if her body is a satelite dish and then is focused through her hand. JohnE was used to her ice cold healing magic. This was not like that. Quite the opposite. Heat ran from her hand into his torso and then shot out to his arms and legs, giving them strength they had never known before (+5 STR modifier).

Mark mark moves to the south (stopping 5 squares to the north of the BF), following JohnE and levels his x-bow at the big foot hoping he hits it instead of his friends! (att roll of 12 +5 = 17 + 3AP =20 total) He actually hits it, wondering where the hidden camera is still! Damage = 6.

OOC @SW did you get these rolls? I think the e-mail looked like the old one still

CB sees how dense the wood is here, so she swaps from her crossbow to her staff and prepares to fight whatever comes her way. She wants to stick close to Ice and help him defeat the enemies as quickly as possible, but doesn’t seem to inspire him much (CB fails the DC10 charisma check to use the coordinate talent).

Bigfoot was probably over eight feet tall and covered in course brown hair. His face was that of an animal except very humanesque, like this guy just got off the boat from The Island of Dr. Moreau. As a nice compliment for his size and musculature, he was carrying a massive axe that he seemed as comfortable with as Ice was with long swords.

Bigfoot laughed at JohnE’s failed ankle kick. “Puny human,” he said with contempt and added nothing else in words. Instead, he swung the axe, nicking the martial artist (-9 hp).

;;; Defense:
Barbarian: 17
Polar Bear: 18
Bigfoot: 19

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Timmy Fell in a Well?

The next morning, the Benders started north heading toward certain doom the ruined keep. Neither Valthrun nor Pedraig had any maps of the keep that would be helpful. Valthrun’s map showed what the above-ground part of the keep used to look like but none of that remained, except for a few remnants. Valthrun was able to find hints that the true keep was underground but he was unable to find any maps.

Sister Linora met the group with a smile before leaving the main gates. There was nothing more important for her at this moment than stopping Kalarel and his zombie army. Her presence increased the Bender’s chance for success exponentially (;;; plus she’s going to be going up a level with you guys this time – Bonus!).

The sky was overcast and a coolish breeze from the north hinted that fall would arriving soon. Mark was carrying his new semi-auto crossbow so that he would now be able to miss twice as fast as previously.

After a couple hours of walking, JohnM stopped in his tracks. He looked at CB but her face didn’t register anything but a puzzled look at him. He said, “You didn’t feel that??” Then he takes off running into the woods to the right of the road.

Bex knew JohnM to not be the impulsive type… so he assumed that the dashing off into the woods had some sort of purpose. He draws his Glock 17 and dashes off after JohnM, but on a path a few feet to the right. He knows enough about Charm spells to not run directly into a trap.

CB looked at both JohnM and Bex a little nonplussed. Then, with a shrug, she runs off after them, senses alert for whatever she was supposed to have felt.

mark thinks to himself “sigh, here we go again, running off into the woods and the unknown, I’m getting to old for this shit!”. He checks his new x-bow and follows his friends a bit to the a tich to the left of everyone else.

Ice decided to mirror Bex’s decision in taking the non-direct route, only this time to the left of the path which JohnM took. “John E, that Taser’s got limited uses. But keep it hidden somewhere where you can easily reach for it and where the baddies won’t suspect. ;)” Ice then turned to Linora. “Well, it seems things are starting to get interesting. Sister Linora, if you please, stay behind me.” Ice then unsheathed his longsword, readied his shield and made a slow jog in the direction he intended to go while keeping watch over the priestess.

After several minutes of running through the woods, “This is retarded!” a loud rumbling voice says from the trees ahead. “You’ve been among the humans for too long and now . . .”

“Shhhhhh,” another voice hisses. Then there’s a loud thump and then nothing.

In the lead, JohnM begins moving more cautiously, but still with an urgency. He also draws his scimitar and his Magic Missile wand. He looked like someone intent on finding something but not wanting to run up on the end of a pike.

Off to the right of JohnM, Bex decided to do what he does best: bluff. Using his cloak, he darkens his face so much that his head is completely invisible. He then summons his most Intimidating voice possible (roll: 26), and speaks low: “I’ll finish your statement: ‘and now… you’re all amongst the humans.’ Surrender. Now.

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Parting and Healing

Devon was pretty muched shocked by the “pay” and the addition of Ninarin’s horse. He shook hands and hugged everyone and said that he was a little sad to be going home but his mother probably thought he was dead.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast, Devon had more surprises. Sister Linora healed him completely (it wasn’t that hard for her but he was still impressed and thankful) and Salvana Wrafton had packed Nyx’s saddlebags completely full with food.

Devon shook hands and hugged everyone again before climbing up on the horse and riding out the main gates.

Linora used her healing on everyone else, which did actually completely drain her powers for the day.

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Answers

Pedraig listens to the news and nods. You can see that he is anxious but you can also see that he completely understands the need for healing.

“Whatever I can do to help . . .” he says before walking over to the sargent about preparations for a possible attack and properly sealing the tunnel.

Salvana Wrafton lets the Benders check out Leisha/Ninarin’s room at the inn. There is nothing remarkable in the room.

Valthrun doesn’t have anymore reagents and Viola went out for flowers yesterday and hasn’t returned yet, which is unusual. Valthrun is able to let you know that 4 of Ninarin’s remaining arrows are of the type that explode and her gloves will allow the wearer to climb walls (Spider Climb).

That night at dinner, Devon announces that he is going to be returning to take care of his mother in the morning.

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Keep Safe

Everyone jumped in where they could to help with the stretchers. Devon confirmed that there were no lower levels in the cemetary and that Kalarel was to the north. He also helped find brass and magic sling bullets. The bodies of the dead were loaded onto stretchers with the stronger Benders pulling one each and the others teaming up to dragging the others. It was a tiring walk back to the keep, moreso because of all the effort expended in the battle, especially for those that nearly died.

“Give him a break, he’s been mostly dead all day.”

The sight of the keep was a relief and Pedraig had the doors open and militia rushing out to help with the stretchers before the Benders made it to main entrance. Militia picked up the stretchers and quick-stepped back inside the keep, urging the Benders on. When everyone was inside, the doors were shut and barred again.

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