Closed Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Aster and Madeira finally meet again, but things are slightly different.

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Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Postby Asterope on March 26th, 2020, 9:10 pm

18th of spring, 520 AV

It was a marvel to be able to walk around freely at night. Of course Aster preferred the daytime; sunshine and warmth on her semi-divine skin was always preferable. But it was more than a little bit refreshing to be able to step outside under a dark sky without worry.

Unable to sleep, Aster had decided to head to the bazaar. She'd been putting off getting new clothing and supplies, so she decided it was about time. The first thing she did was find a clothing stall and purchase a few basics; a simple white cotton blouse, brown cotton pants, and low boots. After that, she found somewhere secluded where she swapped her clothes, staying decent hidden behind a building and beneath her cloak. Her ragged, dirty clothes were stuffed into the bag she'd picked up to be discarded of later.

Oh, how it felt nice to be in clean clothing. Aster adjusted the clothing, plucking at it to adjust the way it sat. The fit wasn't bad; the clothes were perhaps slightly big on her, the pants slightly short, but she had gone out wearing her new mortal form to adjust to it, and she was taller and thinner than her daytime form. Aster rolled the hem of her pants up to make up for the slightly short length, revealing the bottom half of her gently glowing tattoo before she straightened up, adjusting her cloak.

She had kept the colour of it as a warm brown, and decided to continue doing so. With a quick thought, however, the cloak begin to emit a gentle glow around here. There, that was better. The streets of the Outpost were well-lit, but the glow of the cloak was comforting, and Aster didn't have to worry about being strung up over what might be considered magic here.

Feeling more prepared to go wandering around a market now that she wasn't dressed in rags, Aster made her way back among the various stalls, wandering around. She received more than her fair share of curious glances as she walked, standing tall with her soft-hued but vibrant pink hair and her strange eyes. The gently glowing cloak that hung around her shoulders, lighting her path clearly in any dim spots, likely didn't help her case.

She was used to being stared at during the day, so it didn't bother her that much. Aster stopped here and there at various stalls, looking for basic equipment she might need and clothing. However, clothes were proving to be an issue. Aster found herself being drawn to the same usual clothing she bought and was used to; plain cotton pants and shirts, perhaps a modest dress here or there.

But every time she found herself flipping through the same fabrics over and over, she thought of Gracie, chatting away about the colours and materials she could wear and how she should embrace her beauty and show off and so on and so forth. Truly, the woman had said a lot when Aster had visited the spa.

But it made her hesitate to simply buy her usual fare. Perhaps she should take Gracie up on the offer to come shopping with her...but regardless, she needed some new clothes. With that in mind, Aster picked up a simple yellow cotton dress, some new undergarments, and a white nightgown, at least to tide her over.

With her new clothing acquired and tucked away inside her bag, Aster continued to wander the bazaar. Even at night it was relatively lively with quite a number of stalls open, people of all races wandering around in the lamplight and chatting. Above, the moon shone brightly, and unfamiliar stars glittered in the sky.

Aster's hand drifted to her bag every so often on reflex, a habit that had become deeply ingrained into her during her time in Sunberth that would take time to be rid of; just to make sure it was still there, still safe. She wandered for what seemed like bells; there was an organization to the various stalls, but she couldn't quite make it out. Still, she wasn't entirely sure what she was looking for now that she had her clothes, so wander Aster did.

She paused by a stall that sold mundane, every day useful items, perusing the wares. What would she even need? It might not be a bad idea to pick up some herbalism tools...Aster chewed her lower lip thoughtfully. The stall had the occasional odd knickknack and item as well, but she mostly ignored them. Well, she supposed basic hygiene was going to be a part of her life again...Aster picked up a rather elaborate hairbrush, turning it over in her hands, wondering if it would be worth the cost. Surely she could get something more simply?

She picked out a few things; a hairbrush, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a hand mirror...after mulling it over, she picked up a blank notebook as well, along with a quill, a vial of ink, and some charcoal sticks. She really should see about herbalism tools.

She was so caught up in making her purchase, handing over her mizas to the vendor and putting away her items that Aster wasn't paying any mind to the people passing behind her or milling around near her; another luxury that the Outpost afforded her, for such a thing would be entirely too careless in Sunberth's markets.

Ledger :
Backpack -2 GM
Cotton blouse -1 GM
Dyed cotton pants -2 GM, 2 SM
Low leather boots -6 SM
Dyed cotton dress -2 GM, 2 SM
Undergarments -1 SM
Nightdress -8 SM
Hairbrush -3 GM
Toothbrush -3 GM
Toothpaste (4 oz) -1 GM
Hand mirror -10 GM
Soap (2 oz) -3 SM
Blank book -3 GM
Quill -5 CM
Ink vial (1 oz) -1 GM
Charcoal sticks (10) -5 CM

Total: -30 GM, 3 SM
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Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Postby Madeira Craven on April 4th, 2020, 1:49 am

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Madeira was arguing softly but fiercely with a market vendor when she saw the woman walk by.

She paused to watch her pass. The woman was sheathed in a cloaked that glowed dimly in the dark, lighting up her pale skin and the soft pastel pink of her hair. She had her arms full of supplies, and moved like she had somewhere to be. Between the loping animal grace of her long strides and the unique flash of her eyes, Madeira felt a strange familiarity about her.

"Miss?" The vendor prodded with a plastic smile, vexed at being ignored. "My prices are more than fair for so luxurious an item."

In his hands was a beautifully painted marionette, dressed in silk and velvet. He crossed its jointed arms and bobbed its apple-cheeked face on its string, like the toy was agreeing with him. Madeira giggled, charmed by the memories of Ionu's Stand it conjured, and the puppets she used to watch as a child there.

"They truly are incredible..." she tore her eyes away from the mysterious woman and passed a hand over the strings of each doll in turn, making them wave their little porcelain hands or tap their little wooden feet. She passed her tongue over her painted lips, sensing more than feeling the Cordas gnosis press against her mouth. She had never had an interest in puppetry before, but now she found the art strangely relevant. But which one to choose? It felt strange to put such effort into a toy, but she found herself looking for something that would speak to her. There were many to choose from: old beggars, kings of old, animals and beasts, monsters and milk maids. It was only as she looked under the table to check if there was anything below, that she felt her heart move.

In a wooden box, sharing space with other broken or hopelessly tangled toys, was a little wooden man in fine black dress with a wide brimmed hat. Reaching inside, she pulled it out, brushing dust off his chest. The doll's porcelain face was smashed, and his delicate hands were missing a few fingers, but she smiled as she turned him over in her hands. In her head she could hear Jomi snarling at her, accusing her of having never loved anything that wasn't dead or broken first. Perhaps he was right after all.

"I'll take this one", she announced to the startled vendor.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••



A few chimes later Madeira was weaving between the midnight shoppers, tipping the little wooden cross of the marionette's strings back and forth so it walked clumsily along with her. The toy was almost as finely dressed as she was, she noted with amusement. They made a good couple. She herself wore a dress of what looked like opalescent fish scales from throat to floor, along with her customary crust of jewelry around fingers, throat and wrists. Now that she was wandering the market at night her prim high collar and long sleeves of her were more appropriate in the desert chill.

Suddenly she caught a wiff of liquorice, and she had just enough time to whip the toy away before an enormous cat-creature landed with its claws extended where it used to be.

"Spooks! This is not for you", she held the toy protectively beneath her arm as the creature turned his round hunting eyes on her. "Where've you been, anyway? I was about to leave without you."

"Nowhere", he answered evasively, his voice a low rumble in his chest. The bone plates across his back and legs shone an oily yellow in the lamplight.

Madeira had just opened her mouth to confirm that nowhere didn't contain the Outpost's sacred doves and cats, when her attention was caught by a familiar sight.

It was the same pink haired woman from before, standing like a candle in the dark with her glowing cloak giving off a much purer light than the oil lamps around her. And again Madeira was caught with the sensation that she knew this woman, though she was certain she had never seen her before that night.

The woman had her back to them and was paying for her purchases. Her clothing looked new but simple, and the basket in her hand looked to be full of supplies. The woman caertainly had places to be, and Madeira knew she shouldn't bother her. But just as she was about to call her beast and turn away, she looked down and saw he was nowhere to be found.

"Spooks?" she called, turning on the spot only to see the creature several metres ahead, his tail low and content as he pulled back and headbutted the pink-haired-woman's shin for attention with enough force to bruise.

"Spooks!" Madeira hissed, dashing forward and stooping to grabbed the creature by his un-plated scruff. He was an alarming sight at the best of times, but that had never really been an issue when he was as uninterested in people as the cat he so closely resembled. It was terribly odd for him to be breaking that streak now. "I'm terribly sorry", she apologized to the woman above her. "He's not typically this friendly."

"Yes I am", the creature announced. He was making no move to escape her grip. In fact, he was purring with contentment loud enough to rattle her bracelets.

But Madeira was no longer paying attention to his odd behaviour. As the woman turned towards them, the Spiritist saw her eyes for the first time. She had the straight, horizontal pupils of a goat swimming in golden irises. She was a striking beauty. Even in her silk and diamonds Madeira felt underwhelming next to her.

"Oh, I thought you looked... familiar. You're a Kelvic Okomo, arn't you?" she chuckled uncertainly, relieved to have some reason to have such strong feelings towards this stranger. "My son has your same features", she motioned to the woman's eyes and pastel hair. "My name is Madeira, It's a pleasure to meet you."

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Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Postby Asterope on April 26th, 2020, 5:04 am

Aster was just wrapping up her purchase, tucking away her coin pouch with a smile to the vendor when she felt what had become the familiar sensation of a cat butting its head against her leg. What was decidedly out of the ordinary was the fact that this particular cat had butt its head so hard against her shin that Aster had to take a step back on her other leg to keep her balance, and she was certain that she would have a nice, round bruise on her shin later.

Bewildered, Aster looked down at the strangest cat she had ever seen. Jet black and fairly larger than any of the strays that wandered the Outpost, the cat peered up at her with gleaming orange eyes. The distinct smell of candy seemed to have followed the cat, and what looked like bone plated his spine, all the way up to near his head.

So mesmerized was she by the strange creature, Aster at first didn't recognize the blonde woman that zoomed in to scoop up the cat. A distantly familiar voice apologized, but again Aster's attention was distracted when the cat spoke.

Aster opened her mouth to say something, then shut it with a soft click. Finally, she managed to tear her gaze away from the creature to the woman who held him, and found herself speechless again. Her head was spinning, because holding the strangest cat she'd ever seen was none other than Madeira Craven, who she'd last seen in Alvadas.

Kelvic okomo? Son? Aster had so many questions that she didn't know where to start. She was sure she looked entirely foolish, standing there gaping in awe at the woman as her thoughts tripped over themselves going a million miles a minute.

She wasn't sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry. Madeira had hardly been her closest friend, but they had been good acquaintances, and to see a familiar face was almost more than Aster could bear. "Madeira," Aster finally exclaimed, as the woman finished introducing herself. "Gods, it's so good to see you!"

It only clicked a moment later that Madeira would absolutely not recognize her; of course she wouldn't, Aster was in a completely different body. She'd even gone ahead and introduced herself. "It's Asterope. From Alvadas," she added, in case the woman's memory needed more prompting.

"What are you doing here? Who is this?" She motioned to Spooks, unable to resist even in her shock and excitement holding a hand out for the cat to sniff. Was it rude to do that? He could speak, presumably he was sentient. "What's an okomo?" She had at least heard the word Kelvic before, from her time in Ravok. "You have a son?!" Aster knew she was firing out the questions faster than Madeira could answer them, let alone process them.

She inhaled deeply, offering a weak smile to the other woman, feeling entirely overwhelmed. "I'm sorry, that was a lot to ask at once. I just...I'm really happy to see you," she said, sincerely, as she scratched gently at the un-plated section of the cat's head before allowing her arm to fall back to her side.

"It's been so long since I've seen anyone familiar. Will you join me for a bit? I would love to catch up," Aster asked, blinking at Madeira, her yellow eyes almost pleading. For so long she had so desperately missed her past and the people from it, and now she was being offered a chance to maybe get some of that back.
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Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Postby Madeira Craven on April 26th, 2020, 11:20 pm

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Madeira immediately tenses at the sudden, unmistakable look of recognition bloomed in the strange woman's eyes. Her polite smile dried up as paranoia raced through her. Don't look at me like that, her mind hissed. I don't know you.

In her position crouched down in front of the woman, holding back the lynx-sized Spooks by the scruff, she could see the trailing edge of a glowing tattoo on the woman's calf. And this close she noticed that beneath her cloak her boring, simple clothes were all brand new. This was clearly not a person of any great means, but she was still buying an entire outfit from the boots up. Even the stall they were standing in front of was packed with basic household needs, and judging by the coins the merchant behind her was counting in his palm, she had bought quite a lot of it. Was she moving here? If so, why did she not have such basic items when moving to a new place? Was she running away?

"Madeira," the stranger exclaimed, "Gods, it's so good to see you! It's Asterope. From Alvadas."

Aster. The name ripped itself out of the past she thought she had left behind and slammed back into her present. She hadn't thought about that name in years. But she never forgot a face, and this one belonged to neither of the healer Ethaefal's seemings. She licked her teeth nervously. What was this?

The woman began firing questions at her, making her head spin. The stranger crouched down so the two were eye to eye, offering Spooks a hand to sniff. He immediately began rubbing his face on the offered palm, searching for scritches like he was a tiny kitten instead of the toothy hai beast he resembled.

"My name is Spooks. I'm from Alvadas too! You smell really nice", he rumbled as he purred, flopping over to expose his soft belly.

Madeira ignored him, staring straight into into the strangers yellow eyes as she looked up to apologize for the rapid fire questioning.

"It's been so long since I've seen anyone familiar", the woman exclaimed, and there was something in her voice that hinted at something much deeper. "Will you join me for a bit? I would love to catch up," And there was such a gentle, almost desperate sincerity in her eyes that Madeira recognized, because she felt it too. Nobody could fake that. It was a desperate longing for home.

"Aster?..." She questioned, like she was testing the waters. "Oh gods, it's really you." Crouched down like they were, Madeira surprised even herself by reaching forward and dragging the woman she had barely known into an awkward bent hug. Spooks gave a squeaky yowl and wiggled out from between them as she accidentally kneed him in the belly.

"What is an Okomo?..." she trailed off, dumbfounded, as she released Aster and held her at arm's length. "You're and Okomo! A goat-antelope creature you see in the mountains. And that tattoo, I recognize the artist. Only Lhavit has lapis ink like that. Where the hai did you even get it? What is all, well, this?" she motioned up and down her strange new body.

This wasn't the place to do this. The market around them was starting to get congested as people slowed down to stare at the pink-haired beauty and the eccentrically dressed woman crouched on the cobbles. Madeira stood, pulling Aster to her feet with her. "You're right, lets go somewhere. You're obviously not in Alvadas anymore. I'm not either. So, where did you come from? Where have you been? Tell me everything that's happened." She looped her arm through the taller woman's and pulled her along, though she wasn't sure where they were heading. Spooks, shaking himself out and muttering darkly under his breath, followed behind.
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Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Postby Asterope on July 26th, 2020, 6:08 pm

The absurdity of seeing the giant cat-beast flop onto his back, a purr in his voice as he spoke, almost made Aster laugh; but she was too distracted, her focus intense on Madeira. She could see the spiritist turning over the information, the shock in her pale eyes as she adjusted to it and to the questions Aster had thrown at her in rapid succession.

What she wasn't expecting was for Madeira to suddenly reach out and drag her into a tight hug once the recognition had settled on her face. Aster threw one arm out to keep her balance, but after a brief hesitation, wrapped the other one around Madeira in return. She smelled of finery and fancy perfume, with just the faintest hint of cold that Aster had come to associate with spirits and those that dealt with them.

"I'm an okomo?" Aster repeated, puzzled, as Madeira broke the hug, looking at her as if she was crazy. Goat-antelope? As in a type of animal? She recalled the Kelvic Research Institute in Ravok. Lhavit? The name of the city rang in her ears, the one she'd only heard vague mention of and yet that she'd been so determined to reach so long ago. It seemed like a lifetime ago. "You mean...you think I'm one of those people that can change between human and animal?"

A Kelvic? But she certainly hadn't changed into an animal. Could she? She searched down inside of herself, feeling for any kind of power or trigger, but she didn't feel anything. Her concentration was broken by a barrage of Madeira's own questions, and then the spiritist pulling her to her feet. That was probably for the best; glancing around, Aster realized people were beginning to stare at them. They did make a bit of a strange pair...or trio, rather, if she included the giant beast that was Spooks, still affronted from being accidentally kneed in the stomach.

She felt something warm settle in her stomach as Madeira looped her arm through Aster's and began to lead the way further into the marketplace, wandering aimlessly. Aster inhaled deeply, mulling over what Madeira had asked her. The relief of seeing a familiar and friendly face was being washed away by the dawning dread of having to explain her circumstances, and to someone she knew, no less.

Asterope chewed her lower lip for a moment as they walked before exhaling. "I came in from Sunberth," she said after a moment. "I..." Tell her everything that's happened? It was so much, and all of it painful. Aster swallowed hard and did her best to condense the nightmare that had been the recent seasons of her life.

"After Alvadas I ended up in Ravok, a city on a lake. I was...captured there. They were experimenting on Ethaefal and other races. A place called the Kelvic Research Institute. From there I ended up being sent to Sunberth." She practically spat the name of the city, a sneer passing over her face for a brief moment, out of place on her lovely features.

"I've been...I was a slave there for awhile. To a gang member. I only managed to escape recently, and only because I found the Outpost. Otherwise I wouldn't have managed it, with nowhere to run away to. So I've been..." Hiding, like a coward, an internal voice accused her. "Staying here," Aster finished, glancing down at the spiritist as she finished explaining. It felt strange to put the suffering and horror of years of her life into a few short sentences.

But there was still more. She wasn't used to talking so much; even before, she wasn't usually the one to go on about things, she was usually the one asking questions. It felt odd, and odder still to be talking about herself. "And then a few seasons ago...you're going to think I'm crazy," Aster let out a soft laugh; but she was proof in front of Madeira's eyes, and then again, Aster reasoned as she glanced back at Spooks slinking along behind them...the spiritist clearly had her own dose of crazy in her life.

"You know I change forms from day to night. Recently I started changing into other forms come nightfall. So far, every first night of a new season, I've had a new one. And then after that, when it comes time to change when the sun sets, it's like time slows down for a moment, and I have a choice. I can choose what form I want. There's the one you know, the Inarta. Last season I turned into a Benshira woman. And this season I'm...well, an okomo, I guess. A Kelvic, right?"

She questioned, glancing at Madeira. Despite having been a prisoner at the Kelvic Research Institute, she didn't actually know all that much about the race for which the awful place was named. She hadn't exactly had much time to socialize with other prisoners there.

"But what about you?" She urged, as they wove between the sparse night crowd of the market, walking in time with each other. At first Aster had to slow her steps slightly as she was taller than Madeira, but now that they'd been walking arm-in-arm for a bit, she'd settled into a rhythm that matched the spiritist's.

"What have you been up to, and what brings you here? You're in Lhavit now, tell me about that!" The excitement that crept through her voice was purely selfish, and she instantly felt guilty. "And about your son, too. You said he's an okomo as well?" They were moving towards the edge of the market now, where the stalls were more sparse; they could keep walking around the marketplace, or if they wanted, it would be easy to duck away and find a bench along the hanging garden walkways.
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Unfamiliar Faces (Madeira)

Postby Madeira Craven on August 13th, 2020, 8:00 pm

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Madeira could feel something shifting inside her the longer Aster spoke. Buried in the back of her mind had always been this quiet hope that the tick she turned her back on Alvadas was the tick it stopped changing. In her minds eye the Bazaar was still plying the same trade, the theatre was still delighting patrons, and everyone was exactly where she had left them. Penny was still flouncing around with her sketchbook, Terag was still at his forge and Roland was doing whatever the petch he got up to.

This childish hope was first ruptured by Autumn, who brought her the news that Maro the brave fisherman was dead, and her untethered. Now it was Asterope, the gentle healer, who had come to finish the job.

Words like bought, experiment and slave rolled around her head, and her grip on Aster's arm tightened. She couldn't imagine an existence like that. And worse, she couldn't imagine it happening to someone as gentle and kind as Asterope, who just wanted to help people. Sunberth, Kelvic Research Institute, Ravok. Something small and black in her heart ignited just to hear it. How dare they do such a thing to her.

"I'm so sorry, Aster", Madeira whispered softly, as if the past was something that could be woken. She knew that wasn't all of it, but she wouldn't pry, not yet.

As suspected, Madeira had no trouble believing Aster's story about sudden transformations. "A very specific type of kelvic", she nodded, making no effort to hide her staring. Waking up with a new body like this was bizarre, even for an Avalad. "But like I said before, that body has been to Lhavit, look." Unlooping her arm, Madeira fumbled at her throat, unlacing her dress just enough to expose her collarbone. Beneath it was the edge of a colourful tattoo with a very familiar glow, one that matched the one on Aster's leg. "The ink used in those tattoos are rare. Whatever's going on with you and your Eth-" she waved a hand, looking for the appropriate word as she laced herself up with the other. "Your Eth-ness, is very strange, indeed."

They had reached the edge of the Bazaar, and with gentle pressure on her elbow, Madeira steered them from the market to the pale tiled walkways of the Hanging Gardens. The heavy, spicy scent of the market faded, swept away by the fresh green smell of plant life. Lamps had been lit to illuminate the walkway, but they didn't need them. Madeira eyed Aster's strange cloak but didn't comment. She was wearing half a dozen magic items herself, and she wouldn't be able to give a satisfactory answer about any of them either.

Then it was time for Madeira to explain Lhavit and the last three years. "Lets see... I travelled to Riverfall first, for an exorcism. From there my family arranged for me to travel to Lhavit to teach spiritism to one of the important families there, at one of the three magic schools. A lot has happened since", she laughed awkwardly, unsure where to start or what she could say. "I'm a mother now. To twins, no less. They're kelvic, like their father, Allister. He's... not around anymore." The bond had faded ages ago, when her bonded disappeared. She shook her head and continued. "Moritz is an Okomo, like you. Amelie is a little white misty fox. They're a handful, and almost grown now. They turned one year old on the first."

She turned to look over her shoulder, but the creature following them had vanished. That didn't worry her, he would be back when he felt like it. "That was Spooks you met. I had him back in Alvadas too, but he was just a regular cat then. He's run afoul of a few magical mishaps since, and now he's, well, that." She finished lamely, with just as baffled an expression as when she first tried to justify his existence. "But Lhavit has been good to us. I have a wonderful house and a good job. I'm healthy, as are my children. I'm just..." She paused, not sure where to go from there.

Other things were happening (her divine encounters, political machinations and the enormous stakes on her rivalry with Rotsam came to mind) but somehow they seemed less important than her old friend knowing that she was, above all things, okay. Madeira Craven, the ambitious, power hungry fool, was in deep water, but she had learned to swim.

"I'm just glad to have you back", she found the pale hand next to hers and squeezed. "If there's anything I can do to help, and I mean anything, I will. If you need help setting up your life here, if you need to leave, if you just need someone on your side, please tell me. I can't find this gang member in Sunberth, but I can find the people who can." It was the way she said it, straight into the strange new eyes of her old ally, that made it clear she was being serious. With all the things she'd seen for sale in this place, paying for a contract with a hired murderer didn't seem like that big of a leap.
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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1627
Words: 1432573
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