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Elora

[F01 - PP] <<The Second Lesson>> "Pigs A-Plenty"

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Warren had left Elora with Zakariah's package so that she could undertake the Second Lessons Quest on a different day, one where she wasn't feeling exhausted. Too bad today wasn't one of those days, but to hell with it, she was going to make some progress toward getting off of Floor 1. She set out to the Blacksmith's workshop with an exasterbated groan and a drag of her foot. With a knock on the door, Elora announced herself, "Hey, anyone here? I've got a delivery for Lyle...Tealeaf? PFFF --" She stifled a laugh that was in response to his last name. It sounded so dainty and cliche. 

SLAM!

The entryway door swung open violently to reveal a gigantic, unrealistically muscular old man "I AM HE!", the worker proclaimed "IS THAT A PRESENT?!" Elora stood there, taken aback by the sheer bravado of the NPC. Before she had a chance to explain herself, the blacksmith eagerly seized the box from her and began to frantically unwrap its contents. Suddenly he froze, revering the item. He lifted careful fingers towards it, as if it was a fragile artifact he needed to be careful in handling. "My old cast-iron frying pan..." 

"Cast-iron?", remarked Elora, "It didn't feel that heavy to carry" The man ignored her, preparing to launch into a expose-dump "Oh no. No, no, no--"

He began to lead her into the smithy as he spoke: "It all started when I was a young lad" HNNNNG "Mother Tealeaf used to make the best bacon in all the land. One day I asked her 'mother, how do you make the best bacon in all the land?'. She turned to me and said, 'Well son, you must first make sure that you have the right equipment to carry out such a task. I use nothing other than a sturdy pan that can handle the heat of the flame'", Lyle wiped a nostalgic tear from his eye, "That day, she helped me first my first cooking tool so that --"

The door to Lyle's shop creaked open again. "THANK GOD!", Elora exclaimed. She was excited for something, ANYTHING to put an end to this extensive dialogue box.

 

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Spoiler

LEVEL - 9

HP 180

EN - 18

DMG - 6 

ACC - 1

 

SKILLS

Non-combat:

Passive:

Combat:

Weapon Skills: 2H Assault Spear R1 (+4 base damage)

     Blast (2 Energy +2 per target hit) - A pair of horizontal sweeping strokes that hits multiple targets.

     Straight (2 Energy) - Begins with the player bending their knees before thrusting forward with a singular powerful strike covering the gap between you and your opponent.

 

INVENTORY

Weapons: [Equipped] 2H Assault Spear (Rare)

Rank 1:

   Damage - Gain +(1 * Tier) base damage per slot

   Accuracy - Gain +(1 per slot) to the BD when attacking. Cannot be used to cause a critical hit

Rank 2:

   Damage - Gain +(1 * Tier) base damage per slot

 

Equipment: [Equipped] "Selective Deflection" (Vanity Light Armor) 

Items: x8 T1 Healing Potions (heals 50 HP), x1 Uncommon DMG Potion (+1 DMG), x1 T1 Overhealth Potion (+50 Overhealth]), 10 Tier 1 Materials 

 

Edited by Elora

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Freyd and Marv were having another one of their deeply philosophical, existential conversations about the nature of digital life.  Freyd had posited that it was all a matter of modified perception and that the nuances of interactive perspectives between players contributed to the unique character of this environment.  Marv did not disagree.  Freyd then droned on, at length, about the condition of the human soul in a digital world, and pondered the potential for mob souls to exist as well, exploring the various possible consequences.  Marv, again, had nothing to contribute.  The last twenty minutes had focused on the intricacies of replicating coffee flavours inside a virtual engine and the staggering number of design hours that must have gone into programming all of the myriad scents, temperatures, textures and tastes for that one item alone.  It was daunting, yet also impressive, to consider the vast number of variables that were at play throughout their world.  In that way, it was not so different from reality.

"Don't you think so, Marv?" 

The guardian posted at the main gates to the Town of Beginnings made no reply.  He never did, and never had, yet Freyd made these discussions a point of focus for his morning ritual every time he came back to floor one.  Taking one final sip of his morning coffee, the cup literally vanished once its contents were consumed.  He spotted a familiar face emerging from behind the  resulting tiny cloud of data.

"Oh, hey Elora!"  he said, greeting her politely.  Freyd was leaning on the inner arch of the massive stone gate.  "I haven't quite decided where to go next.  Need a walking companion while I decide?"  He turned and tapped the guardian on the arm.

"Great chat, Marv.  We'll pick it up at life, the universe and everything next time I pass through."  

The NPC wasn't looking at him and completely failed to register his presence in any way.

Spoiler

Name: Freyd
Level: 21
HP: 420/420
EN: 42/42

Stats:
Damage: 9
Mitigation: 14
Accuracy: 2
SAVVY:1
HLY:2
BLD:12
KEEN:1

Equipped Gear:
Weapon: Forgiven Disobedience (T1-2HSS, ACC 1, HOLY 1, BLD 1)
Armor: Enduring Guile (T1-LA, MIT 1, SAV 1)
Misc: Justicar's Vambraces (T1-Trinket, ACC 1, KEEN 1)

Skills:
2H Straight Sword [Rank 5]
Light Armor [Rank 1]

Extra Skills:
Disguise
Familiar Mastery: Fighter [Rank 1]

Mods:

Battle Ready Inventory:
Starter Healing Potion (50 hp)*3
Teleport Crystals*2
Fish snack (+1 ACC)*1
Divinity's Wait (T1 Mit 3)*1
Liquor of Light (T1 DMG 3)*1

Housing Buffs:
Rested: -1 energy cost for the first two expenditures of each combat
Clean: The first time you would suffer DoT damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT each turn by 20% (rounded down)
Hard Working: +2 EXP per crafting attempt and +1 crafting attempt per day
Filling: Increase the effectiveness of a single food item consumed in a thread by +1 T1 slot.
Item Stash: +1 Battle Ready Inventory Slot
Relaxed: Increases out of combat HP regen by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
Col Stash: +5% bonus col from monster kills and treasure chests
Multipurpose: Gain +1 to LD, Stealth Rating, Stealth Detection, or Prosperity to one post in a thread. Can be applied after a roll

Guild Hall Buffs:

Scents of the Wild:

Wedding Ring:

 

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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Unfortunately, the door had opened from nothing but the wind. The blacksmith promptly returned to his monologue "Well, she helped me forge this pan, and ever since that day, I have made it my life's work to make tools for other people to use. If you've come to complete my quest, I also ask that you bring me fresh pork belly so that I can make my mother's delicious bacon again"

A screen appeared in front of Elora's face to accept the mission. "Sure thing. If it isn't out of the way, I wouldn't mind bringing some back to you" After a nod of appreciation from Lyle, Elora was on her way to the fields. Geez what a chatterbox. I hope that he isn't going to talk my ear off when I bring him the supplies he requested. 

It wasn't long before she reached the gates and was spotted by Freyd, the peculiar player who wore black robes. Yikes, he's talking to an NPC? Must be pretty desperate for company. He seemed to spend a lot of his time wandering from place to place like Elora. The only difference was that he was probably able to access higher levels of Aincrad while she remained trapped on its starting floor. If there was any opportunity for him to assist her in climbing the ranks, she might as well accept it. "Sure, I wouldn't mind having an...er, walking companion", she agreed with some hesitation since the phrase sounded off to her. 

Edited by Elora

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Opening a party request to make it formal, Freyd stuffed his hands in his pockets and devoted his efforts to kicking along rocks in the road as they made their way out to the fields.

"So, which quest is it today:  Zackariah's,  Lyle's, Hannah's or old Pete's?"  It occurred this him that this might be an opportunity to verify something that had been nagging at him since he'd done the first lesson.  Depending on where Elora was in the series, he might be able to determine what had happened to him was normal, or if Cardinal had truly interfered with his version.  That crimson-clad thief had reached directly into this inventory and removed the quest items, until he gave chase and cornered it.  If the system was willing to intervene so blatantly, no one would be safe.  Safe - there was a loaded term, in this whacked out dream world.  

Freyd offered Elora a pleasant, nonchalant smile while his inner monologue devise an endless series of alternative and increasingly brutal ways that Cardinal could rain instantaneous death upon them both.

 

 

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She accepted his request, and they embarked on their journey. Had he not been with her, she would have taken up the passtime of kicking pebbles. It wasn't practical for both of them to do at the same time since they'd both attempt to lay claim to a stone with the most potential energy, like a flock of chickens spotting the same grasshopper during dry season. You can have this victory, she permitted before his voice curtailed her thoughts.

"So, which quest is it today:  Zackariah's,  Lyle's, Hannah's or old Pete's?"

"Lyle's", answered Elora. She was going to leave the response at that, but figured it might be worth her effort to keep the conversation going. They had a long road ahead of them after all. "He wants me to get the boar tusks outlined in the quest description, but also some bacon. I guess the package I gave to him had a sentimental item in it. Don't know how Zakariah got a hold of it. Guess the two of them must go waaay back"

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It amused him to hear her ascribe personality to the NPCs - a game he played often himself.  He kicked the next stone along her path of travel, curious to see if she would pick up that habit as well.

"Most likely," he replied in jest.  "Be wary of 'Bacon Bits' over there."  Freyd pointed toward one of a dozen generic boars in a nearby meadow.  This one happened to be wandering around a lone oak tree, but was otherwise no different than any of the others.  "He has a real mean streak and a surprisingly short respawn timer."  He paused for a moment, glaring at the wild pig, pointing two fingers at his own eyes then turning to point them at the pig.  'I'm watching you, jerk,' he thought to himself.  He spared Elora a joking wink as they walked on.

"That means you've already completed the first lesson.  Can I ask an offhand question, if you don't mind?"  She nodded, looking at him like he might be some kind of crazy person.  "When you were returning to Zackariah's shop, did your quest items get stolen from you and need recovering?"  He suspected he already knew the answer, and it only fed his fears, but he had to hear it from another player.

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Elora watched as the rock tumbled down the path, then rolled to a stop in her trajectory. It rested in an optimal kicking position. Readying herself to deliver the hit, her right foot swung forward, making contact with the stone and wailing it into the herd of pigs. Several of them squealed anxiously and ran away while a lone straggler turned the face the pair.

Bacon Bits.

The slightly larger member snorted and stomped its feet angrily before breaking into a charge. A few pigs trailing behind the rest stopped and reconsidered their stake in the ensuing fight. With brief hesitation, they turned around and joined Bacon Bits in his belligerent boarish blitz!

"I -- uhm -- ahh, maybe we caaaan tulkabouthislauter!" Her voice sped up drastically once she began to bolt away from the pack of pork. What kind of accent was that? There was no way in hell she could handle fighting those things, not all at once! Elora was so frantic in her evasion that she didn't even notice she had killed one of the boars.

 

Spoiler

ID#: 155915 BD8 Hit

ID#: 155921 LD16 (1/3 Materials Found)

Edited by Elora

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"They're critters!"  Freyd called out caught between surprise, laughter and exasperation.  He had to keep turning his head to ensure that she heard him as she ran around him like a maniac, being chased by three tiny piglets that could hardly threaten each other, let alone an actual player.

"Your spear has an AoE sword art, Elora.  Stand your ground for an actual second and use it!" 

Attacking these things wouldn't do any good.  She needed to kill them herself to collect the quest items.  More importantly, if she couldn't face these things...

"How are you ever expecting to get off this level if you can't face a handful of critters?"   How was he going to get through to her?

"Think of them as your ticket out of here, but only you can claim them!"

He summoned his gleaming white greatsword to hand, but only rest against it with its tip in the grass, trying to keep from getting dizzy while he tried to follow this ridiculous chase.

 

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Elora knew that she could handle taking down an enemy. After all, she'd done it to save Warren when the two of them had been scavenging in the forest. The difference now was that her targets were actively chasing her. She knew she wouldn't have the stamina to outrun them forever, but turning to face them now felt like she would be volunteering to take damage. 

Freyd's words of encouragement did little to quell her fears. If anything, they just made her more pissed off about getting herself into this situation. If she had been less negligent in her approach, maybe then she could have started the battle holding the upper hand. Regardless of how she felt, he was right. Unless she started learning how to mow down monsters with her weapon, she wouldn't be going anywhere.

Suddenly grinding to a halt and spinning to face her attackers, Elora frantically swung her spear back and forth to protect herself from being trampled. Remarkably, her spear managed to sweep through and kill all three pigs at the same time. The MOB exploded into a cloud of pixels that gleamed, refracting sunlight as they spun suspended in the air. When they finally disintigrated, Freyd could see her frozen with both eyes squeezed shut. She was still crouched close to the ground, pointing her weapon in front of her defensively.

A small chime announced that Elora had received a notification:  ALL MATERIALS GATHERED. RETURN TO LYLE'S SMITHY TO COMPLETE THE QUEST., read the text appearing before them. She slowly opened one eye then the other before both grew wide in surprise. "D-did I...did I kill ALL of them?!" Her voice nearly cracked from the amount of excitement it carried.

 

Spoiler

Attacks

ID#: 155927 BD5 + 1ACC  Success // MOB9 Pig #1 Hits

ID#: 155928 BD7 Success // MOB1 Pig #2 Misses 

ID#: 155929 BD7 Success // MOB2 Pig #3 Misses 

 

Looting

Pig# 1: ID#: 156152 LD15 Success

Pig# 2: ID#: 156153 LD3 Fail

Pig# 3: ID#: 156154 LD15 Success

 

Pig #1   Pig #2    Pig #3     (4/3 Materials Found, Objective Complete)

HP 180 > 177  //  EN - 18  > 10  //  DMG - 6  //  ACC - 1

Edited by Elora

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Freyd clapped softly.  He wasn't being patronizing.  Early fights could be daunting, and the digital laws of Aincrad were different enough from reality took time to sink in.  His own first battle really wasn't that far behind him, when he thought about it.

"See?  You had it in you the whole time."  He pushed the tip of her spear aside, just in case she jumped at a fluttering butterfly and accidentally stabbed in his direction.  "I believe it's safe to put this away, for now, just as a precaution."

"We can work on keeping your eyes open next time," he added, with a hint of jest.  "For now, it looks like we can head back to Lyle and knock this one off your list.  Hannah's lesson is next, as I recall."  He nodded in the direction of town and started walking, waiting only to see whether her nerves would hold or shatter.

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"Yeah, I guess you're right", she agreed before tucking the spear into its holster across her back. "I can't believe I was able to defeat them all at once", she paused momentarily before another wave of excitement shot though her, "I GUESS THIS MEANS THAT I CAN DEFEAT THINGS WAY STRONGER THAN ME NOW AND START HEADING TO THE OTHER FLOORS!" Good thing she didn't have her spear out or should likely would have been flailing it everywhere. And once I reach them, I'm going to learn everything there is to know about this game. She happily scampered in his footsteps. It was honestly kind of concerning how quickly her emotions seemed to sway from one extreme to the next, almost as if she had a large reservoir of energy waiting to be unleashed through either a positive or negative reaction. But overall, she seemed a lot more confident in the abilities she had come to learn.

"Hannah, huh?" She tuned back into the conversation with him. "That sounds like a boring name for a world like this" 

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"Oh, that's not even close to the worst I've heard.  Some will make your eyes roll a full three-sixty."  He cleared his throat, as if creating a natural break to redirect the conversation.  "About that question I asked earlier?  Did you encounter any problems completing the first lessons quest?"  Freyd disliked repeating the question.  It suggested a degree of desperation that he really didn't like to reveal, let alone admit.  

He walked with his hands behind him, as before, but now his fingers fidgeted restlessly.  It wasn't like him to be so loose with his personal control, but there had been too many direct incidents between him and Cardinal lately, and they seemed to be getting worse.  Their interaction on floor seventeen had nearly killed him.  Outwardly, his eyes and facial expression betrayed nothing, but he felt his non-existent digital guts roiling inside him in anticipation at her response.  Was it all just in his head?

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"Nah, not really" Elora raised her arms and clasped them behind her head in a relaxed posture. "Well, I guess Warren had really terrible luck. He failed gathering like ten different items. Oh, and we also fell into a river and almost drowned because of how heavy our armor and equipment was. Not to mention, we were attacked by a few monsters. Warren was almost eaten by one that had him trapped him in its root -- BUT I RUSHED IN AND TOOK THE THING DOWN BEFORE IT EVEN HAD THE CHANCE!" Once she said this, her arms flew down in front of her, hands clasping into excited fists. 

"Oh yeah, didn't you ask something about delivering the package too? Like, it getting stollen? Didn't happen to me at least, can't say the same for Warren. Now that I think about it, it is kind of weird that we only got one box to deliver. I don't know how Warren was able to move onto this quest since he handed it off to me."

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Despite his best efforts, Freyd's shoulders sank at Elora's response. 

"Yeah.  I had a feeling you were going to say that."  A grimace fell across his face, but he didn't elaborate.  "Sorry to hear that you both had such a hard time.  The collecting quests can be absolutely exhausting if luck isn't on your side.  I've been there too."  They were approaching the main gate again on their way back to Lyle's smithy.

"Keep it loose, Marv.  You're all tensed up.  That kind of stress can kill, my friend."  The oddity of Freyd's penchant for conversation with non-interactive NPCs aside, it seemed to restore his mood.  Marv stoically refused to fall prey to Freyd's taunts, keeping his eyes locked dead ahead.  His devotion to duty was unwavering.

"You're a good man, Marv," Freyd continued as they passed.  "Maybe a little too good."  He shook his head negatively at Elora.

"I have to keep him grounded or his head's going to swell so large it'll explode."

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"You had a feeling I was going to tell you that exact story?", she smirked dismissively at the thought. There was no point berating him with questions or insults concerning his confidence in the matter. He seemed to fall fairly silent until the returned to the town's entryway, where he started making small talk with its guard for the second time today "Seems like he's been giving you the cold shoulder. Hey, I know! Maybe you can try bribing him to be your friend! My mom always did that with officers and it seemed to work really well!" It was a bad joke that she herself took some humor in telling. Mainly, she was hoping to see if the comment would elicit a reaction from Freyd. 

Elora wasn't expecting the quest to only take a matter of, what, an hour at most? What the hell am I going to do with the rest of my day? Maybe I can get a drink to celebrate my victory! I can invite him to come with me...well, no, that might come off the wrong way. She grew frustrated at what was honestly a trivial predicament. Drinking alone is so lame though. 

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Did she just imply that her mother was a prostitute or criminal, or something!?   No, he must have taken that the wrong way.

"Marv's is way too cool a customer for that sort of thing.  He's the very exemplar of civic duty - just look at him!"  He gestured towards the guard with both hands, an exaggerated look on his face, as if to indicate that it had to be obvious.  Elora was mostly sure he was joking.  "I sat here for an entire afternoon once.  Care to guess how many breaks the man took?  Not one, though I watched him beat a PKer to absolute pulp one time, for coming too close to the City gates.  Don't ever get on Marv's bad side.  He has quite the vicious streak."

He suddenly realized how chatty he'd been during their last few encounters.  It really wasn't like him to be, but he couldn't help feeling that it meant progress, in some infinitesimally small way.  The very idea of it brought a contented smile to his face as he dreamily wandered the streets looking for their destination.

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"Hmmm. Do you think that he gets the nights off? Maybe goes home to his wife and children to have dinner with them?", Elora seemed contemplative, as if she was truly entertaining the thought. "Maybe one of these days we should follow him somewhere and see what his programed schedule is all about. Bet we'd make some interesting discoveries, assuming he ever actually moves."

Finally, Elora had made her way back to Lyle's workshop. After exchanging a greeting with him, she opened up her menu and gifted him four boar pup tusks with their complementary pork bellies. "Here's the materials as promised", she proclaimed contently. 

"Thank you", said Lyle with a respectful bow, "Please deliver this package to Hannah, the artisan"

 QUEST COMPLETED. FIND HANNAH TO RECEIVE THE NEXT OBJECTIVE 

"WHA -- THAT'S IT?! You're not gonna go on some big rant about how you're going to be seasoning and cooking each individual slice of bacon to absolute perfection?!" Elora huffed angrily. Considering she had been annoyed with the NPC earlier for telling her his whole life story, she was actually disappointed that he didn't offer a conversation upon her return. "Talk about no emotional payoff", she scoffed.

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Freyd was genuinely intrigued by Elora's suggestion about following Marv 'home'.  He'd spent that one afternoon, just hanging around chatting with him, but he'd never moved.  He's such a good listener.  Maybe I just caught him at the right time?  He was so distracted extrapolating the potential consequences that he nearly ran into a stack of cargo crates as they approached Lyle's smithy.  Elora did her thing and turned in the quest.  He was still musing over Marv when she got agitated over the quest's conclusion.

"Expecting more?  I don't recall Lyle having been particularly chatty, but the algorithms seem to change things up a bit for every player, just to add variety."  He laughed, feeling a hint of mischief creeping in.  "You're a bit... explosive, aren't you?"  He put up his hands, as if to surrender or possibly ward off an incoming attack.  There was a definite twinkle in his eyes as he said the words.

 

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"Explosive?", she crossed her arms and shook her head to dismiss the accusation, "No, I'm just pissed that you don't have to sit through the same thing I did. Earlier the guy wouldn't stop talking, and now that I fulfilled all of his wishes and have time to listen, he has nothing to say about it." Her anger appeared to gradually simmer down. "I don't know, I guess I was just hoping he might congratulate me a little more for going so far out of my way to get him everything he asked for." The statement made it sound as if she believed she was doing him a favor for completing a completely optional quest that gave her a reward. 

"Oh well, let's bring this to the other lady I guess" She snatched the package from Lyle before pausing at the shop's exit to realize what she had assumed -- that Freyd would help her in seeing through the completion of the next objective. Her shoulders visibly slumped as the package lowered at her side. Oh that's right, I guess this is where it ends. Warren was tired of everything by the time we finished the first chapter of this quest. I guess Freyd must feel the same.

"I mean...I'll see you around", she assured him, flashing a brief and somewhat superficial smile across her face. "Thanks for helping me today."

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Pfft.

"We're not done, Elora," Freyd began.  "You have three more starter quests to complete, and I meant what I told Kiluia when we were helping him learn to cook: I'm here to help people try to reach their potential.  If you don't mind the company, I'll gladly tag along."  Freyd tossed a few col at Lyle and picked up an intricate steel rose he had laying on a nearby workbench.  The weld work discoloured the metal where individual pieces had been combined, giving them a slightly greenish tinge.  It was clearly a labour of love, and stood apart amidst the tools and weaponry that littered the blacksmith's shop.

"Congratulations on completing your second lesson."  Freyd handed the rose to Elora with a comforting, simple smile.  It sang slightly in the breeze of the bellows, and the colour complimented her hair.  "And, you're welcome.  Now, let's go take care of those other things."

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