Dalun

Portents & Portals
More of Noruld is revealed

Upon arriving to the stone gate and tower at the mountain pass the party quickly learned that whoever is supposed to be manning this passage has vanished. Aegishand and Daylen snuck ahead to have a look and using magic discovered a vile glutton spirit had taken up residence in the fort. The two engaged the creature, but quickly called for help. Solgrin and Goltheiron needed to lift the bars of the great gate so that they could get through while Daylen cranked the gate winch on the opposite side. Once the party surrounded the creature they were able to take it down. Goltheiron banished the remaining spirit with his newly won holy longsword, Qel’alas.

After investigating the redoubt the party discovered a flag belonging to a group of warriors known as “the Peregrines,” vassals of Lord Kallad. Goltheiron explained that while the Peregrines were not part of the Ainugrand they had common causes and it was uncharacteristic of them to simply have abandoned their posts. There was no sign of a battle, great use of magic hanging in the air or any indication as to where the warriors would’ve gone. Ultimately the party decided to open the gates of the pass and continue their journey North.

Daylen questioned the travelers as to where they came from and where they were headed. They explained to the bard that they hail from a Southern territory and every year they make a pilgrimage of sorts to Airunal. This year they are bringing a gift called “the Cloak of Winter” which is said to be a magical cape with the power to manipulate the seasons. The party also learned that the acting commander of the Ainugrand has apparently changed since Goltheiron was last on Noruld, but the travelers from the South did not know the new commander’s name.

Later that night Gylek offered to use magic to divine the location of Goltheiron’s mother, Lady Golhina. Goltheiron agreed and the scrying spell was cast. Just a moment later the two were looking into a pool of holy water beholding, Goltheiron’s mother, Lady Golhina hiding amongst some rocks in the desert overlooking a mighty city. Goltheiron identified the city as Ghazdeshdar “the fortress of the darkened sun,” the seat of Al’iikbad’s power. The party gathered round and discussed their fate here on Noruld and it was decided that with tomorrow’s light they would teleport to Ghazdeshdar and meet up with Lady Golhina.

The party did just that and when Daylen completed the teleportation spell they arrived in, rather, above Ghazdeshdar. They fell to the ground hard and were immediately set upon by Al’iikbad’s men. A battle was joined in the streets of the city and many enemies were slain; any who tried to run were struck in the back. After the fighting the party made off into the nearest alleyway to take cover. They evaded a number of guard patrols and moved to hide in a nearby abandoned building. Upon entering they were discovered by none other than Lady Golhina herself.

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The Countess and Noruld
Doors are opening for the adventurers

Shortly after their return from the Abyssal realm of Thanatos the party saw to identifying the nature of the recently acquired magic items recovered from S’zorek’s demonic vault. They came across a scholar and countess named Eleniar. From her vast collection of tomes and equally impressive knowledge of the planes and the relics found across them she was able to identify each of the items they recovered. As she realized there was a collection of powerful artifacts laying on the table in her study she also realized that the men who brought them to her were equally powerful. They began discussing planar travel and during that conversation it was revealed that she had portal access to the realms of Jajemerin and Noruld. The party did not take much time to decide it best to travel to Goltheiron’s home world of Noruld to see what the fate of that realm had become after his death.

It took a day for the countess to secure a stable portal for the party and they took that time to provision and prepare. They convened at a public forum not far from her manor where a trio of mages open a vast purple-colored energy vortex which teleported anyone who entered the votrex’s threshold to a spot on Noruld. The party found themselves in a humid jungle deep within the wilds. They set off to the north where they were attacked by a pack of displacer beasts and a massive reptilian carnivore.

After dispatching their foes the party made its way up into the mountains where they discovered a somewhat level path through. At the mouth of the mountain pass, however, they encountered a stone fortress surrounded by a small gathering of travelers. None among the adventuring party could see any banners or devices, so it was unclear if this was some kind war party, a band of refugees or something else…

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To the Abyss and Back
An unexpected demonic encounter...

After the adventuring party returned to Trundor they gathered in a nearby tavern to talk things over with Daylen and Baylen. Daylen divulged that he got caught up in a deal gone bad with a demon named S’zorzek in order to obtain a magic rock called a god stone. In order to secure a god stone Daylen agreed to bargain with the demon, however he did not keep his end of the deal and made off with the god stone. Baylen, then, began filling in the gaps of the story with details he picked up from his captors. He explained that S’zorzek sent men to capture Daylen and get revenge for stealing from him, but in their haste the bounty hunters grabbed the wrong Gempf. Daylen finished his tale by saying that he still needs a god stone because the one he stole from S’zorzek he had to destroy in order to open a portal strong enough to take him back to Dalun and rescue Baylen.

Baylen announced his decision to enter the priesthood of Iess, something he’s always felt he should do, but could not until now. He said his goodbyes and left. The party agreed to help recover the god stone for Daylen because Baylen was a friend and also because once S’zorzek comes to exact revenge on Daylen he will likely kill anyone who is with him. The next move was to figure out how to obtain another god stone. As fortune would have it, Aegishand had a cousin named Burnladder, living in Trundor, who took up spell and alchemy over thievery and warfare. So the adventuring party sought him out.

The dwarf alchemist was a bit of an odd fellow, but he helped them determine that there are two ways to obtain a god stone: to steal one from the Keepers or to return to S’zorzek’s demonic monastery in the Abyss and rob him again. The party decided that it would be best to not make enemies of the Keepers of the city and to instead risk going into the Abyss to retrieve a god stone from S’zorzek. The party gathered in a circle in Burnladder’s basement and opened a small planar gate to reach the Abyss.

After the spell was cast the party found themselves standing in the Abyss, a wretched place of despair and misery. As they traveled the black plains and scaled the ashen slopes they discovered that they were a layer of the Abyss known as Thanatos, the realm of Orcus, Demon Lord of the undead. Littered about the black realm were mausoleums, forests of plague creatures, and countless undead minions wandering aimlessly in the black, cold land. After a time the party found a subterranean tunnel entrance, so they opened the brass doors and descended into the grounds below. Within the tunnels Daylen used a magic eye spell to perceive demonic creatures tending to the dead buried there, repairing their tattered and sundered bodies and preparing them for necrotic reanimation.

They did battle with many lesser demons and a few more powerful ones, but eventually found their way to the lower levels of a demonic monastery with S’zorzek’s vault locked safely underneath. The party used a charm spell to distract a number of deranged cultists allowing Aegishand to pick the lock of the vault door. Within the party found a number of angelic and mundane artifacts as well as a small pile of god stones. Just then S’zorzek appeared and threw himself at the party in a furious anger. It was a harrowing battle, but they slew the demon once and for all.

After looting the vaults Solgrin declared that he would not leave this place until the demon’s prisoners be freed. There were indeed about a dozen innocent humanoids languishing in the halls above the vault; they were shackled and tortured and surely if the party left they would die and be risen as mindless demonic minions. The party agreed to help the bold fighter, so they began cutting the wounded prisoners free of their bonds. A horrific demonic serpent bashed its way through the front entrance of the monastery just as the last prisoner was freed. They smashed one of the newly seized god stones and teleported away back to Trundor with the prisoners.

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Planar Travel

Upon stepping into the city streets of Trundor the party witnessed a bizarre extraplanar event unfold before them. A magic rift opened in the very fabric of reality, out came running a group of unsavory-looking humanoid warriors who grabbed Baylen Gempf, a recent ally and friend of the adventuring party and then made off. A magic golem-like creature, a Keeper, intercepted one of the plane-travelling warriors, killing him just before his allies escaped through another portal, dragging Baylen with them. Immediately thereafter a bard in colorful attire identifying himself as Baylen’s brother, Daylen, called out to the party to give chase. The group and their new ally ran after Baylen, heading through the rapidly-closing portal.

The adventuring party found themselves standing in a dark canyon on an alien world which was most certainly not Dalun. Larkspur could feel it in the air and Daylen confirmed that they were on another world located on the Pintle Rim on a plane of existence called Telegira. The rock of the canyon was a rich purple color, the soil was nearly black, and massive blue and white spotted mushroom stalks sprouted from the sides of the cliff walls like trees in a mountainous forest. A thick cloud of pollen dust hung in the air stinging the eyes and nostrils of the adventurers as they acclimated to this strange and foreign land.

Unfortunately the interplanar bounty hunters that grabbed Baylen must have been using powerful teleportation magic or benefited from some kind of planar time flux because when the adventurers arrived their quarry was already several miles ahead. They hiked on through the rocky canyon and found a navigable path to flat land above and were able to pick up the pace. After a time they entered a “forest” of towering mushroom stalks and were assaulted by a hungry pack of spider-like creatures which hopped about and lunged about harrying the party. After all of the creatures were slain they found their way to a river which they followed until they reached a tavern.

Upon arriving at the tavern they discovered a group of beings which resembled humans and elves, but they dressed oddly and did not speak common, elvish or any other language they knew for that matter. Eventually the adventurers were able to discern from grunts, broken common phrases, and hand signals that the kidnappers made off with Baylen towards a settlement out in the rocky country beyond the tavern.

After another day or so of travel the adventurers caught up with Baylen’s kidnappers who had him tied up, incapacitated and slung over the saddle of a horse. Daylen created a diversion with song and dance while Solgrin and Gylek ran into the crowded street the bounty hunters were attempting to navigate. They got into a brief scuffle, but managed to grab Baylen and escaped by casting a teleportation spell.

To their dismay Gylek’s teleportation spell was countered and the party found themselves standing on the edge of a volcano. Boiling up from the caldera below was a harsh green acid which burned anything that fell in. The adventuring party quickly engaged the enemy spellcaster and his minions, but during the fighting a massive, serpentine, worm-like creature burst forth from the acid volcano and began viciously attacking the party. Despite the dangerous terrain and powerful foes the party was able to once again grab hold of Baylen and teleport back to Dalun using a plane shift spell.

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Escaping the Hold
Part 2 of Zokan's Hold

After taking rest the party got back on their feet and pressed forth, clearing several additional rooms of monsters and traps. The magic of the place seemed to intensify as the group encountered larger and more exotic “rooms,” some of which may not have been on Dalun at all. They crossed windswept canyons, flaming caverns, and lastly a elder dragon’s den. Finally the group found themselves in a small meditation chamber with a mysterious crystal ball floating in the center of the room. Around the crystal orb were a number of soft cushions scattered about the floor. One by one, starting with Aegishand, the party approached the crystal ball and peered into it’s depths.

The magic within the orb showed the viewer a spectacular sight of the night sky with thousands of twinkling star lights. The orb quickly submerged the viewer’s conscious mind into a sea of mystic sights showing worlds far away. It was like nothing any of them had ever witnessed, a thousand worlds with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants on each of them. It was a bit of an overwhelming experience, but also deep enriching and enticing. Once each of them awoke from their trance like state they composed themselves and made for the exit.

The door of the humble meditation room opened and they found themselves on the streets of Trundor, the city of portals.

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Zokann's Hold
Part 1 of Zokann's Hold

After the battle for Eltgaard settled the adventurers saw to various tasks about the city such as assisting in the rebuilding process, diving into dwarven political affairs (given the recent death of the high king) or fighting off lingering foes. Over the next two weeks the group learned that the tunnels beneath Eltgaard had become safe enough to travel and explore once more. Recently the location of Zokann’s Hold, a mysterious tomb holding the relics and the dead of those loyal to the great dwarven wizard Zokan, was believed to be found. Aside for the treasure that could be gained, a great deal of respect and recognition would be won to the discoverer of the hold.

The party headed out along with a local dwarven scout to the location of what was believed to be a magic door guarding the entrance of the hold. The group quickly learned that navigating the hold was going to be difficult and would require recording which rooms they had entered and by which doors they had used. The hold appeared to be connected by magical gates marked with a single number. Each gate teleported the party into another chamber with another set of traps or challenges.

They found some treasure and guardians, but no proof yet that this is indeed Zokaan’s hold.

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Deposing a Tyrant
The Battle for Eltgaard

The day following the victory at Drithkowl a council was assembled at the Frost Keep to discuss the next battle in what scholars and bards would later call “The Northern War.” In attendance at the council to decide Eltgaard’s fate was Aegishand, Solgrin, Larkspur, Gylek, Goltheiron, Governor-General Hallour, Orvarr Earthgrain, and a representative from the Kowled Wizards. it was revealed and discovered that Aegishand has been carrying an ancient dwarven gem called “the stone of Kazan’shol,” the gem he stole from Golthos all those days ago. Governor-General Hallour explained that there is a matching stone locked under the vaults of Drithkowl as well and the council discussed the ramifications of bringing the stones together. The legends say that when the stones are joined the spirits of the dead from the first great dwarf-gnome alliance will return to Rokourd to save it from whatever peril may have befallen it.

The council agreed to journey into the vaults below the city and join the stones. Governor-General Hallour led the way and unlocked the final chamber which revealed the stone of Drithkowl. When the stone of Drithkowl was joined with the stone of Kazan’shol a shower of magic rained from the heavens along with thousands of spectral warriors all heeding the commands of the governor-general. The party decided that they would march to Eltgaard with these spirit warriors and with Einar’s forces combined they would have a chance at taking down the self-proclaimed Tyrant King.

The adventuring party rode out ahead of the army and entered the tunnels beneath Eltgaard to scout out a way into the city for their ground forces. The party slew a number of ogres and giant warriors protecting a subterranean gate allowing the combined infantry unit of Dirthkowl footmen, Drasguardian Templars, and mercenaries to enter the besieged city. The party used the chaos of battle to sneak ahead to the high throne room to confront Golthos directly.

Tragically, Golthos had already slain the dwarf high king, Eldukar, when they arrived. At his side Golthos had Wulfnarr, a frost giant necromancer and Kyrax, a white dragon spawn of Tyrannax the Destroyer. It was a bitter fight, but with the aid of the Riddare griffin riders the party was able to divide the enemy force and slay Golthos.

With the death of the high king the dwarves will now look to their senate houses to choose another leader which will entail much debate, posturing and deliberation. The blow Golthos dealt to Eltgaard, to all dwarf kind, will be felt for generations to come. However with Eltgaard’s rescue the dwarves and gnomes can begin healing and rebuilding and forever will these adventurers be remembered as heroes.

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The Return to Rokourd
Drithkowl is found under siege

After their victory at Skaulheim the group returned to city of the Riddare where Einar’s father, Torvaldr, thanked the heroes and conferred upon them the title of “Lords of the North” saying that the folk of the land should respect them for their greatness (which granted each of them a +1 increase to their Charisma scores). Einar agreed to help the adventurers in their quest to rescue the city of Eltgaard from the evil clutches of Golthos. He explained to them, however, that it will take some time for him to rally the full strength of his armies and equip them for the long journey out of Imnisvael into Dalun. Einar gave them each a griffon to give them a chance to hasten back to Drithkowl to take care of affairs there while he marshals his own forces.

The journey took almost a month as they flew over vast tundra and icy mountains. When they finally arrived, they found the city of Drithkowl under siege by a massive undead army. The party landed their griffons at The Frost Keep and sought council with Governor-General Hallour who explained that after the death of Tyrannax the Destroyer, the wicked dragon of the north, Nurvaal and his undead horde attacked the city. The oft bitter and cold governor-general was more welcoming towards the group and permitted the adventurers to do whatever they needed to in order to save his city.

The situation in the city had become dire, as it was explained to them that Nurvaal’s forces had the city totally surrounded. Plague had swept into the city and any man, solider or innocent, who had been injured by the undead would rise as a zombie come midnight each night. This created paranoia which lead to the execution of anyone found with so much as a scratch on them. Furthermore the powerful Wizards of the Kowl had fled the city using their magic. Apparently shortly after the plague broke out they used many spells to seal the Fortress of Lazandroth off from the city. There was one Kowled Wizard left behind, however, a man the party decided to meet with first in the city dungeons.

The wizard’s name was Orvarr Earthgrain, an honest-sounding human mage who explained that he elected to stay when he heard that his order was fleeing. The party freed him from his cell and together they devised a plan to hunt down and dispatch Nurvaal’s necromancer generals hoping to draw the Wight out himself. They did this once, successfully slaying a mysterious wizard and his undead acolytes by flying out above the sea of undead atop their griffons and dive-attacking his command post. However, in the battle their griffons fled and they were forced to use Orvarr’s magic to teleport away to safety.

Later that night they decided to search the battlefield for Nurvaal and send out a force of eager warriors to form a diversion. A band of Drasguardian Templars, local mercenaries, and some of the governor-general’s soldiers slipped out of the city by way of a damaged wall segment previously unseen by the attackers. This force engaged a vampire-lord in the nearby forest while Orvarr and the rest of the heroes used a magic spell to teleport to Nurvaal’s location. When they arrived, however, they found a tomb with an inscription with Nurvaal’s name on it, but no Wight. They were then ambushed by his necromancers.

The battle was fast and deadly, but the group managed to slay Nurvaal’s generals despite the zombie horde descending upon them. After the final necromancer was slain Nurvaal appeared, somehow drawing power for their destruction. He proved to be a mighty spell caster, but in the end too was slain. Masterless, the undead army became unresponsive and the siege was broken. The city of Drithkowl was saved.

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Assault on Skaulheim
A return to the Ogrek lair

Larkspur and Solgrin met back up with Gylek and Golthiron after deciding to leave the Staff of Command with Melegir and the other survivors. Using the planar key recovered from the werewolf the party was able to open a magical portal and return themselves to Imnisvael. There they traveled back to Einar’s hold and met with Aegishand who had been working on a plan to sneak into the castle of the Riddare in order to help Einar recover his title and place by his father’s side as prince of the Riddare.

The journey took a few days, but after arriving they managed to bluff their way past a few gate guards and approach the castle. Einar said that he knew of a secret entrance at the base of the castle wall that was used as an escape route for the royal family during times of danger. Solgrin provided a diversion for the group and everyone was able to slip inside the escape route exit tunnel. Once they reached the end of the passage Einar asked that the party stay their hands from killing any of the Riddare and to allow him to challenge the creature mimicking him.

Einar knocked a book case over concealing the hidden passageway and immediately drew his sword and challenged the fetch, the creature wearing his skin as a disguise, to single combat. The two argued a bit, but ultimately the creature did not have the courage or the strength to duel Einar alone, call for its allies, and changed forms. The fetch creatures were hideous, green-black skinned fairy-like monstrosities which attacked the party with their sharp claws. The party slew Einar’s mimic and cleared the castle of the rest of the creatures.

Shortly after the fighting Einar promised to take what forces he could gather and march south into Dalun to help the party with their quest against Golthos. Before heading out, however, Einar suggested that he and the party take a group of soldiers and launch an attack on Skaulheim, the fortress of the Ogrek. This way the Riddare could offer their full forces to help reclaim Eltgaard and the party could recover their magic weapons and armor that had been lost to the Ogrek after their initial capture.

The party agreed to this plan and quickly assembled a force of about 100 Riddare warriors and headed West to Skaulheim. Their plan of attack was simple, but effective. The party would ride with Einar atop Griffons to attack one of the weaker defense towers. Then Einar’s father, the king, would take his forces and attack the now-depleted positions when the Ogrek adjusted their forces to reinforce the flank under attack. The battle plan required some last minute adjustments, but fortunately Solgrin slew a flying draconic beast and Gylek was able to coordinate with the ground forces fighting their way up the slopes of the mountain. All the while Aegishand, Golthiron, and Larkspur fought their way inside the fortress and slew an Ogrek commander.

Once the outer defenses had broken the party was then able to sweep inside and cut down the Ogrek using the narrow tunnels of the mountain-fortress to mitigate their advantage of numbers. The party reclaimed their lost possessions and fled with the Riddare forces before Ogrek reinforcements could arrive.

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Curse Breaking
To save himself, Larkspur must save another

After banishing the ghost of the mad wizard the party stopped for a while to discuss the fate of the Staff of Command. The Staff is a relic of tremendous power which is said to control the minds of men and compel them to do whatever the wielder wishes. Such a powerful item must be used with great caution or not at all lest the wielder go mad with control and create chaos. In the meanwhile Larkspur’s condition had been worsening, he hadn’t been able to sleep and he was already showing signs that his curse would claim him soon.

Solgrin and the halfling left the staff with the others and went about in search of this werewolf, so that they could continue their quest. Melegir the scout gave them silvered weapons and suggested that they speak with a mystic by the name of Zaltyr. The odd hermit is said to live on the far eastern side of the city at the edge of the ruins. The fighter and the ranger made their way across the city where they were accosted by some ruffians. Larkspur goaded them into playing a gambling game of dice, which they actually agreed to play, but after losing refused to pay up and attacked the adventurers anyhow. Solgrin and Larkspur slew many of the thugs and restrained those who surrendered.

After the fighting they moved on and found the home of Zaltyr, a place where nature seemed to bloom with brilliant green life. When they entered his forested and flowering home they found the druid meditating atop a mushroom cap. The bearded sage explained that he is somewhat of a rival to the priestess of the moon and that he would be willing to help Solgrin and Larkspur track down the werewolf if they agreed not to kill him, but save him from his curse. They decided that this was fair, particularly after Zaltyr said that he would use his power to rid Larkspur of his own curse. The three of them then partook in a shared vision, scrying an inexact location of the werewolf somewhere in the north among a haunted forest. The two adventurers were given a gold sickle by Zaltyr who said that its magic could incapacitate the werewolf long enough for them to bring him back to the druid so that his curse could be removed by a ritual of the sun.

After leaving the city Solgrin and Larkspur crossed a muddy wetland and passed into a shadowy forest of dead trees swaying in the cold wind. During their hike through the forest they were ambushed by a hideous troll which they promptly slew. As the sun set they were attacked by powerful and vengeful spirits of the dead. The horrors that they inflicted upon Larkspur magically sapped ten years of life from him and before Solgrin’s eyes he could see the halfling’s hair thin, develop grey patches and his skin become weathered and creased at the corners of his eyes and elsewhere. Using their silvered weapons the two adventurers were able to fight off a number of ghosts, but ultimately fled as the ghosts were relentless and their life draining powers tremendous.

That night the two camped out by the muddy bed of the old river to recover their strength. The next day Larkspur woke with a terrible feeling of filth and could not get his mind off the need to cleanse himself. As the river had dried up to little more than a wide, muddy lane, the two turned North to the sea where Larkspur could wash away the dirt and festering grime that seemed to be under his very skin. After a few hours’ walk the halfling bathed himself in the cold, briny water of the ocean until he was red and raw. Solgrin did not challenge him, but asked if he was well enough to continue. The halfling quietly said that he was and they turned back south to continue their mission.

Once they returned to the forest they found the lair of the werewolf, entered and battle was joined. The beast was mighty and flailed its claws and gnashed its teeth, but Solgrin’s skill with a blade and Larkspur’s aim with an arrow proved too much of a match for the creature. They dashed the beast’s throat with the gold sickle as instructed by Zaltyr and indeed the magic of the blade returned the lycantherope to his human form and kept him suspended before death.

Upon their return the two adventurers helped Zaltyr conduct the ritual to purify the werewolf. It was a taxing ordeal and the man remained unconscious, so Zaltyr and the others took rest. That night they discussed lifting Larkspur’s curse and Zaltyr explained that they would head out before dawn the next morning and do what must be done. Later in the evening Larkspur beheld a vision or perhaps a dream about an ancestor which may have held clues about the nature of his curse.

The following day they travelled east to catch the sun rise over the sea at dawn. Zaltyr the mystic instructed Larkspur to stand amid a circle of magic stones, take aim at the horizon and hit the sun with an arrow. The halfling was incredulous, but had to give it a chance. The wind on the rocky bluff was strong, the light from the rising sun was hot and bright and all the while a paranoia of his enemies following him here loomed in the back of his mind. Distracted and weary the halfling ranger loosed an arrow as best he could straight for the sun. No splash of water was heard, no flash of light or voice from the heavens, nothing happened. Zaltyr simply said that in time Larkspur will know if he hit the sun.

Just before parting ways Zaltyr gave to the two adventurers a key wrought from solid electrum which he found in the clutches of the werewolf. The mystic explained that this key would open a planar gate and allow them to travel home.

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