Shades of Amber

Intermission

(Work in Progress)

Some time has passed since the tumultuous events leading up to (and including) the winter festival. His Majesty, Mordecai The First, remains missing, daily attempts to reach him go unanswered. Edwyn returned to Amber and is ruling Amber in his capacity as regent. While the kingdom is quiet, tensions remain high. Duels have become extremely common within the city. Dangerous beasts continue to haunt the countryside surrounding Amber.

Hostilities with Rebma have ground to a halt, though Julian continues to maintain a strong presence near the stairway. Many of Amber’s populace suspect Bleys and Fiona of kidnapping Mordecai, while the rest seem to assume agents of Chaos are behind it.

With the first days of spring arriving Edwyn has called a meeting, all those who hail from Haven are to meet in Haven on the Spring Equinox.

Naomi and Merlin have both left Amber and have not returned for the duration of Winter. Merlin claimed that Amber was feeling too cold (he claimed this shortly after Edwyn took control) and Naomi simply disappeared somewhere around the assassination attempt on Ilayne.

The Cult of the Dark Unicorn seems to have completely disappeared from Amber, its members relocating throughout the Golden Circle and into the countryside of Amber, where it remains popular (though much more quietly than it did before).

Both Mab and Kisten have departed Amber to search for Mordecai. The expedition seems unlikely to be succesful. Contact with the pair has been sporadic at best.

Luthair and Rinaldo remain unfriendly. The pair communicate through intermediaries when they do communicate at all. Grayson remains in Dedenril where he attempts to hold the kingdom together without the legitimacy granted him by Circanna.

Jasra is extremely pregnant, and the nobles of Amber are betting on the date the child will be born. Much to her distress she is being kept sequestered in Amber for her safety. Though Edwyn notably never refers to the child she carries as Mordecai’s.

Evangeline:

With Mordecai’s disappearance Evangeline’s workload has increased drastically. Edwyn has no fear about directing matters away from him.

Evangeline has also received a missive from Saul, inviting her to come to the Isle of Drake. He expresses interest in the kingdom establishing an official position with Amber, with mutual embassies. The missive implies that additional visitors would also be welcome, in particular Ilayne.

Ilayne:

Ilayne remains in Amber under Morgana’s Parole. To this point Edwyn refuses to pass judgement upon her, claiming that his Majesty will when he returns.

Eden and Nemerian along with the Knights of the Coral remain on high alert, both of them working 12 hour shifts with a partner and never allowing her out of their sight. This also keeps the pair separate most of the time.

Eden is extremely grateful for his wintersday gift, particularly since he lost his swords in the expedition into the wood in Albion.

The demon Viridas has what everyone assumes is his full size. The servant’s are terrified of him, and Edwyn has set a pair of wolf guard minders on him. Several attempts have been made to kill him, (twice by poison, once a knife man). The poisons was not sufficient to kill him and Viridas left the bones of the knife man outside his door on a food tray.

Morgana:

Tamiina recovered from her injury, though she walked with a cane for weeks. She has been attempting to make nice with the Chanicut embassy (with only moderate success), as well as pestering Edwyn about the deal to bring Kiera to Amber. The situation seems to be tied up in that the Chanicut embassy expects an Amberite to spend a similar amount of time in Chanicut.

Word from Thomas is that the wood is fully asleep and that he has gained a certain influence over it. He has made a request that Morgana see what she can do to return his younger brother to him.

Treyvan has remained in Amber, though he has made several comments about his intent to visit Albion soon. He wants to see where his “Beautiful Flower” came from.

Tristan’s eleventh birthday is approaching, and he is quite certain that he wants to be one of Mordred’s knights of the Round Table. His armsmen say that he is quite gifted with a blade, but retains a dangerous reckless streak.

Scarlett:

The conflict between Byron and Rainier has done nothing but become fiercer. Both of them have taken rooms within the city, and a fair bit of the dueling and brawling with Amber is a resort of them. Both of them hold controlling interest in competing shipping companies.

James and Byron seem to have reached an accord of some kind, and James often acts as an enforcer within the city.

Somehow Scamp found his way to Amber and has taken to following Scarlett or her companions about. He has become a common sight within the city.

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A Tenuous Peace
Session 23
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The Winter Festival
Session 22 Log by Morgana

The start of the Mid-Winter Festival in Amber saw the great hall decked with boughs of holly. Mistletoe was hung strategically throughout the castle and plenty of couples could be seen making use of the excuse this decoration provides. Festive music filled the air and the rich aromas of roasted meat and wassail wafted down the corridors and out into the gardens. Lords and ladies of the court moved gracefully throughout the rooms of the castle clothed in their finest winter garb enjoying the festivities. Throughout the city giant towering trees were aglow with thousands of candles and decorations that appeared to sparkle in the flickering light. There were gifts for every citizen piled high under the trees and lines of people waited with anticipation and merriment.

Most of the family was sharing gifts in between feasting and dancing in the great hall when word of Lady Ilayne’s arrival came to King Mordecai’s attention. Ilayne had requested an audience with his majesty and Lady Morgana was sent to make the arrangements. In front of all family members and courtiers present Lady Ilayne apologized to the crown for her involvement in the kidnapping of a prisoner of the crown who as it turned out was also Ilayne’s uncle. King Mordecai accepted her apology and she was granted leave to enjoy the mid-winter festival and remain in Amber under Lady Morgana’s supervision until the crown decided the appropriate punishment.

Mid-morning the next day while several family members enjoyed a rather slippery game of badminton in a snowy courtyard, Scarlett declared it a fine time for a snowball fight and set about building her fort with impressive vigor. Other cousins and courtiers jumped into the game with enthusiasm and it seemed a truly impressive battle was about to ensue when a shot rang out. Ladies Ilayne and Tamiina gave out shouts of pain as they both collapsed to the ground appearing to have been shot by the same bullet. As others rushing to take cover Scarlett took off with ground eating strides in pursuit of the sniper, but alas she could not make it to his location in time. Both ladies were carefully transported to the infirmary to begin their recovery.

Between Ladies Evangeline and Scarlett they were able to determine that the sniper was most likely a member of the Cult of the Dark Unicorn and so King Mordecai ordered the cultists rounded up and “dealt with.” During the resultant hubub the King disappeared once again, although this time it appeared more suspicious as his beloved sword Tempest was left in his chambers. A search was led by the Chancellor but was met with no success except for a lone clue: an ancient magical harp, abandoned on the beach.

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The Heart of the Forest
Session 21 Log by GM

Two elves (Sorallin and Maelor) ambush the group as they continue onwards within the woods, attempting to force them to leave. The ambush involved numerous pit traps, as well as Will o Wisps and dryad song. Several knights fell in the fight, and Ilayne was nearly struck down by an enchanted arrow, and a short duel with the elf Maelor which left her buried with companions in a pit trap. Scarlett narrowly avoided being eaten by prowling cats (which had been following her for some time) while saving James from a trap. The ambush was driven off, and the survivors located (Kisten was found buried inside a tree, dreaming of Dryads as he suffocated).

At the next stream crossing, Dryad’s raised a Drowned man from an elf killed by Morgana. The drowned man was extremely difficult to kill, not being finished until it had been hacked into pieces and fed to flames. Morgana rescued Eden who had followed Ilayne into a pool of water the drowned man had opened beneath Ilayne (who had escaped the pool via trump).

A more marsh like area was found, filled with pools of which many seemed to hold reflections of other places within them. In the center of the marsh, Ivy’s forces were found battling a woman called Adrian whom had one of Haven’s pendants, and a host of troll’s and other beasts under her command. During the fight Ilayne had lagged behind due to an injury and been overtaken by the demon cats. Her man Eden was gravely injured in the fighting, and she was forced to take on a demonic aspect herself to survive. Lancelot arrived with several knights to drive off the cats.

At the hill in the center of the swamp was a wavering pattern inscribed between a circle of standing stones. The group made camp for the night there, and Scarlett decided to assail the pattern. While she walked it the lines of the pattern itself moved about madly, and lines of energy struck her from the standing stones. Ilayne helped ease the assault with harmony while Scarlett struggled to control her new powers. Scarlett somehow traveled along the ley energy, and departed the shadow, and was unable to be reached via trump.

The group continued onwards, nearing their goal. A great valley where a giant tended an immense cauldron was the last leg of their journey. The giant fed corpses of Satyr warriors to the cauldron, who were then animated and sent after the adventurers. Ilayne recognized them as warriors of house Arawn in Prydain. By crossing the river that ran through the valley and the use of Morgana’s pattern the valley was crossed, and then sealed by a pattern and discord created Avalanche.

The destination was in sight, but shielded by a wall of briars. Grayson compelled the briar to part and allow them to pass through and it did. A great battle occurred in the clearing beyond. Sorallin and Maelor returned and the trees came to life. Nightmarish dryads assaulted from all sides, and the giant forced its way through the brambles, engaging Grayson Ilayne and Gerard. Morgana assaulted the tree with the pattern, causing the shadow to shake and roll.

A man calling himself Deykin attempted to make a deal with Morgana but she refused. This Deykin appeared to have also been a Havenite, but one whom had set himself against Haven and Amber and had control of the forest. Unwilling to face Ivy and Morgana Deykin fled and Thomas, Morgana and Evangeline forced the great tree that was the heart of the forest to slumber.

Thomas and some knights were left to guard the heart and the rest returned to Tintangel, where it was learned that five weeks had passed in Amber and the next day was the beginning of the Winter Festival.

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A Walk in the Woods
Session 20 notes by GM

The morning after the resurrection of Gerard, Morgana continues to invite cousins to a small gathering before heading into the woods.

Evangeline, Grayson, Gerard, Lisette, Kisten, Ilayne, Scarlett, Byron, all agree to accompany Morgana and Thomas as well as a force of knights into the wood.

Gerard’s return is met by relative disbelief by the collective family in Tintangel, though none directly contest him on it.

Evangeline scrambles to attempt to halt Amber’s downward slide towards war, conversing with both Ilayne and Luthair.

The expedition heads into the woods, encountering a large force of hopping toadlike warriors, as well as brownies. The group is victorious.

While crossing a log over a stream, coins are tossed in to appease the spirits that lived beneath it. Morgana is nearly struck by an assassin’s arrow, but is shielded by one of her knights. Ilayen’s bowfire causes the bowman to flee.

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It all falls Apart
Session 19 Notes by GM

In this session Grayson continued to refuse peace offering made by Rinaldo over the kingdom of Kashfa. The lady Evangeline, using her powers as chancellor determined that the kingdom of Dedenril would be awarded to Rinaldo, as Grayson was unwilling to come to the table.

A force was mobilized to invade Dedenril through Haven and forcefully remove it from Grayson’s hands. The army moved through Haven and found the way barred. Mordecai and Evangeline removed the barrier to find an ambush awaiting them.

Scarlett returns to Amber with her brother Byron in tow. Evangeline and Scarlett travel to pale to attempt to remove a shadow infestation from the castle Amber. Evangeline tricks Landis (a lord of Pale) into releasing the compulsion he had on Scarlett.

In Amber a great Earthquake shook the city, causing the great temple of the Unicorn to crack, and many buildings to tumble. A similar event occurred in Rebma, causing Bleys to assume his territory was under attack and begin fighting Julian for the stair connecting Amber and Rebma.

Morgana received numerous trumps, including one from a woman named Adelie who claimed to be the head of the Cult of the Unicorn. Thomas arrived in Amber and informed Morgana that the Great forest of Albion (Solace), was preparing another invasion.

Morgana began to gather a force with which to invade the forest of Solace and halt its advance. Int he process of doing this Tamiina and Grayson came to a deal, which culminated in the resurrection of Gerard through the use of a “Master” power word.

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Edwyn's Frustration
Session 18 Notes by GM (Written by Ilayne)

In the wake of King Mordecai the first’s disappearance, Edwyn called upon Evangeline and Morgana for a council, to determine what actions should be taken towards the multitudes of situations that lay before them on Amber’s table. And while there seemed to be an overwhelming amount, the trio assaulted the daunting list with great determination. To avoid a war seemed to be a mighty motivation.

Upon the discussion of Ilayne’s betrayal, Morgana decided it best that she speak to Bleys, given the current tension between both sides. Without hesitation, the man affirmed that he would not allow his daughter to be harmed, regardless of the consequences. And even as they spoke, Prince Julian set upon fortifying the top of the stairs to Rebma. A necessary precaution of impending war, of course.

Meanwhile, Evangeline attempted to summon both Luthair and Grayson to Amber. And unfortunately, neither arrived swiftly, much to Evangeline’s great, great irritation. And thus the headache that was Dedenril was prolonged yet another day.

Those who found their time better served not preparing for wars of various shapes and sizes, found other objectives for themselves. Ivy set about marshaling a force to investigate the mysterious swamp that had appeared in the depths of Arden, after word that more of those strange and dangerous beasts were perhaps originating from within.

Reports that Prince Gerard’s grave had been desecrated reached Evangeline, who promptly set into investigating the strange occurrence herself. Psychically, she was able to determine that recent visitors included the man’s son, Grayson, and the strange woman Adelie, associated with the cultists of the Dark Unicorn.

After completing her communication ring, the Lady Morgana successfully arranged a meeting between Edwyn and Ilayne, where a tense discussion of leniency was brought to the table, should Ilayne surrender herself at at the mid-winter festival. It was of little surprise that Ilayne was slightly less than responsive to the suggestion.

And in other parts of the universe, we find Scarlett within the newly discovered kingdom of Bright, standing upon her father’s doorstep with compatriot Dara. Bennedict greeted his long-lost daughter warmly, holding a great feast in her honor, while he imprisoned his grand-daughter Dara. It was here that Scarlett met several new cousins, and even a brother, a strong, hardy man by the name of Byron. It was immediately apparent to those who witnessed, that the siblings shared more beyond just their bloodline, and the two (with cousin Sasha) hit the bars with gusto after the feast.

Meanwhile, in the very same neck of the alternate universe, Mordecai and brother Rainier and sister Lisette attempted to escape, via the heavily guarded Pattern. Here, the Harlequin defended the Pattern room as they walked, dueling Bennedict himself for several minutes before having to escape to Eric, who was conducting a raid not all too far away, as a diversion from the escape attempt. His actions ended in the near death of Beauregard and Yvette, and an already wounded Scarlett stepped up to face him. Luckily, he drew a fast retreat at the arrival of Dworkin and Bennedict.

And while battle is never a pleasant thing, there are few who can say that they would have rather traded places with the unfortunate Lady Evangeline, who was charged with the arduous task of overseeing the negotiations between Rinaldo and Grayson (who finally arrived of his own accord), over the kingdom of Dedenril. After hours, it was realized that no agreement would be made in short-order, and Evangeline traveled with Grayson to retrieve lady Circanna for proper questioning on the events. The woman more than happily obliged.

The end of our current tale brings us to Mordecai’s abrupt return, where his Majesty swooped in, haggard and exhausted and still all about his business. Happy to let him have at it, Edwyn promptly requested a vacation…

And members of Mordecai’s court all silently lamented the fact that they were not the first to ask.

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The Following Day
Session 17 Notes by GM (Written by Ilayne)

In this chapter, our ‘intrepid heroes’ or ‘audacious villains’ (the viewpoint is of course, up to interpretation), are exposed to many a new place, and in some cases a new face or two. Or faces belonging to those once thought dead.

On the one end of the universe, Ilayne, freshly returned from her traitorous flight from Amber, was awarded one of Hendrake’s three duchies, the duchy of a Thousand Spires, which while as imposing of a name it may have, was in very ill repair. In an effort to distract herself, it was decided that the land would undergo some serious renovations. Taking Mendar, son of Condrad, former High Lord of Hendrake (perhaps this was a passive lash at Gabriel, for not properly recognizing her great feat, but that of course, is simply speculation), the newly appointed duchess dove headlong into renewing demon treaties and imposing heavy levies.

Elsewhere, on the other end of the universe, it is lamented across shadow, the morning that the royalty of Amber (and numerous less important individuals) were awoken to the incessant howling of wolves. It was later discovered that they were not just any ordinary, run-of-the-woods wolves, but werewolves dredged up from the depths of Amber’s tunnels, and positioned in Ilayne’s room. It is rumored that there were over a dozen of them, though again this is simply speculation, as no one was quite willing to open the door and get a head count.

After being rudely awoken, Amber’s finest attempted to meet their day with as much vigor as one can muster after not getting a proper night’s rest.

The lady Morgana attended breakfast with her closest companion, lady Tamiina, only to disappear upon a trump to her sister Ivy, in an attempt to rescue her, Julian and Martin from a treacherous battle. The opposing sides consisted of Amberlash, and what appeared to be the forces of Caine. And through the dragons, vicious magic, gravity-defying blood, and a mystic anti-trump barrier, Tamiina and Evangeline successfully pulled the Amberites from the fight, their mental strength second to none. And, shortly after, following the same procedure, Naomi too was rescued from where the Eidolon had dropped her into shadow.

While breakfast wound up being a stressful affair for some, others finished the most important meal of the day in peace. But the excitement spared none.

Mordecai, shortly after finishing his own meal, received word from the Harlequin that perhaps the Jewel was not so far gone. In a flash, with only a word to a guard and a signet ring shipped to Edwyn, his Majesty departed, bringing with him the princess Vivian to a sight never before seen, unless of course you were Dominic, who was found at the site of Corwin’s Pattern, tied up and overseen by the Harlequin (Mirelle) herself.

Mordecai emerged in a place called Bright, ruled by Dworkin and Bennedict. With an investigation in order, Mirelle was left in the city while Vivian and Mordecai fled bright to prince Eric of Amber. There it was learned that Random had sided with Eric against Dworkin and Bennedict, whom were at war over the Jewel of Judgement, which was discovered to be in Random’s possession.

In Amber, in Mordecai’s absence, Julian and Ivy held a meeting with Vya of house Channicut, in an attempt to assure them of their safety while in Amber, as her dear father, Jenroh, had still not awoken from whatever poison he was afflicted with.

And, on yet another sidenote, Grayson revisited the kingdom of Dedenril, finding quickly that perhaps Lars was a poor choice as a Regent. In addition to Grayson’s Lars problem, Jasra and the empire of Kashfa were only barely avoiding direct assault to the city, having successfully eliminated much of the naval forces. With sorcery infused catapult shots, one of Dedenril’s walls was knocked down, Grayson still standing atop it, perhaps a personal score for the Lady Jasra. Speculation, of course.

Grayson disappeared into shadow shortly afterward. His retaliation? The recruitment of an army of fanatical ratfolk, who served the shepherd of death and the great Hunger. Whether to be the shepherd of such things is better than being the shepherd of sheep is still under speculation.

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Betrayal
Session 16 Notes by GM (Written by Ilayne)

Ceremonies and festivities washed over the castle of Amber at the arrival of the Chaos delegation. With only a few hours warning, the Princess Flora put together a beautiful – and entertaining – evening for guests and hosts both. The initial greeting of the delegation, which consisted of Lord Jenroh, his daughter Vya and her personal guard, Demon Prince Malkazar was traditional. The gifts they brought however, caused a murmur or two, perhaps. The ancestral sword of House Barimen’s champion and its Signet ring as well.

Dinner was a of course a political affair, many suggestions and ideas being planted as people sat amongst each other. Afterward, there was dancing and more chatting, some of it not as polite as others would hope for. A fight nearly broke out between Malkazar and the Lady Vivan, regarding the events of the “First Chaos War.” And dragons. Such a fight was prevented by quick action from Scarlett, who bravely asked the Demon Prince for a dance.

The men and women split for the remainder of the evening, and the after party commenced. The men went for brandy and cigars, the women for tea and cross-stitch.

It appeared that perhaps Jenroh was not accustomed to the wine of Amber, for he seemed quite intoxicated. Enough so, that Grayson deemed it necessary to take a trip to the outdoor gardens to ‘walk it off’ and get some fresh air. However, it became apparent here, that it was not the brandy or the wine, but a drug, as the two were accosted by a woman who gave the name of Adelie, took Grayson’s trumps, questioned him about Mordecai and promptly drugged him as well.

In the women’s section of the party, Scarlett and Ilayne were nowhere to be found, neither of them seeming to find their portion of the after party terribly enthralling. And the night seemed to go on smoothly, according to plan. For a short while, at least.

The comfort of the night was broken as several alarms began to sound throughout the castle, a network of noise and chaos. The first came from the dungeons, the following spreading out from varying sections throughout the castle itself. On his way to the dungeons, Mordecai encountered men dressed as servants of Amber and disabled them, but his focus was on the dungeons. He had already lost one prisoner, after all.

Scarlett was the first upon the scene however, to see Ilayne fighting with members of the Wolf Guard and their Captain Alejandro, who was struck soundly with an iron clad fist across the temple. The door shattered apart behind Ilayne, now alone, and Gabriel of house Hendrake stepped out. Lunging for Ilayne, Scarlett found herself pulled through a trump, where Martin lay on the other side.

Gabriel and Ilayne took off in one direction, Martin in another, leaving Scarlett to pull through an enraged Mordecai who initially set off along the path Martin had taken. With a quick suggestion, she rerouted Mordecai after his true prey, and thus the chase ensued, bringing both forces together at the site of a lava-filled chasm. But Ilayne would not be captured, and despite Mordecai’s efforts, she and Gabriel escaped his grasp.

Upon returning to Amber, it was learned that the other attacks were perpetrated by Dark Unicorn cultists, imbued with some sort of self-destructive powers. They had infiltrated the palace and attacked all of the Chaosites, Merlin included. None of their attacks were successful, though Jenroh remains drugged and unconscious.

An emotion charged letter from Mordecai of Ilayne’s betrayal, delivered to Bleys in the wee hours of the morning, with Evangeline as messenger brought forth the threat of destruction to Amber and its Pattern, should any harm befall his daughter. Now the two nations sit upon the brink of war, and Luthair, after a late-night conversation with his Majesty, deemed it best to retire to the Court of the Tides, rather than discuss open war upon his home.

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To Build an Empire
Session 15 Notes by GM (Written by Ilayne)

A month had passed, and still no word on those who had disappeared after the attempt to rescue Princess Fiona. But that was finally fixed, perhaps by pure coincidence, when contact was made between Ivy and his Majesty Mordecai. In a moment’s notice, Mordecai supplied aid by means of Kisten to those still trapped and fighting.

In Tintangel, the Duchess Morgana received a trump from who she thought to be Ilayne, though the mess of blood made it hard to tell. Pulling her cousin through to her, she immediately trumped Mordecai, who then rushed Ilayne off to the infirmary himself, properly ruining his fine and kingly garb.

With recent events bringing more light to the dire situations that their missing cousins were in, Mordecai and Morgana contacted Evangeline, who had since regrouped with her newly freed mother, and had been attempting to seek out Naomi. It was soon discovered that the chaos house of Amberlash lay between them and their cousin, having taken her prisoner, and seeming bent on doing the same to them as well.

Upon returning to Amber, his Majesty received upsetting news, learning that the Lady Dara had been ‘released’ from her secure rooms in Amber, by none other than himself. With the security threat of a shape shifter resting in the back of his thoughts, Mordecai was unfortunately beset by more bad news.

The forces of Amber clashed in the Golden Circle kingdom, of Dedenril, lead by both Luthair and Rinaldo. Each outstanding man of Amber had recently been re-claiming the chaotic cities around Amber, strengthening Amber as they went. However, their eyes set upon the same prize, at the same time, and they in turn, determined to have what they wanted, brought in a cousin of their choice.

Setting Grayson and Scarlett upon one another seemed perhaps a good choice at the time. However, it resulted in both being badly injured, and the city of Dedenril being all but torn asunder. And still, though the kingdom was claimed by the Court of the Tides, crowning Grayson as the rightful King, Amber has yet to recognize him as such.

Several more surprises awaited his Majesty, and fortunately for him, these were of the beneficial variety. Vash brought news of a delegation from house Chanicut, due to arrive in mere hours, in order to deal and treat with the King of Amber. And Tamiina, who once voiced quite plainly that she would not pledge loyalty to Mordecai, stated that her position would change, in exchange for her daughter Kiera coming to Amber being part of the negotiations with the house Chanicut.

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