Skewed Destinies- The Flames of Origin

By Keko_the_Hybrid

Mystery / Adventure

Lectures of light and legends

Chapter 16

Lectures of light and legends

Colloyd had been getting gradually more and more worried about Kraine as the hours ticked on and daybreak slowly emerged over the horizon to let an almost blinding orange light into their room through the cracks in the bamboo blind. When the Professor slinked into the room just before six a.m, he sat up and swore he made him jump a little at the suddenness.

"Kraine," Colloyd whispered, trying not to sound like an overprotective parent. "Where did you go?"

"I went for a walk," the Professor replied. When Colloyd prodded him for more, he put his pointing finger to his lips. "It is kind of you to worry about my wellbeing, but there was never any reason for you to worry." He slipped under the sheets of his bed across the room from Colloyd and rested back.

"I know, I know.." the boy sighed. He let the conversation slip away and closed his eyes. He hoped the Professor would tell him more about his journey with Gesea one day. It had clearly affected the both of them. As he thought about the impact, his mind began to wander to his own quest and how Gesea might change when she found out what would happen when they broke the last seal and journeyed to the Tower of Salvation. He was pretty sure that Kraine had not told her.

After letting the thoughts swirl around his head for what felt like eons, he was quite glad when footsteps approached the bedroom door and Yuan called out to them to start to rise so that they could get moving on their journey again.

When the group were all ready after individual showers, they met down in the common room. Most of them, anyway. Colloyd quickly noticed that Sheelos was nowhere to be seen. When he looked at Yuan questioningly, the bluenette shrugged. "She was trying to kill you, remember?"

"Yeah I know.. but..." Colloyd clenched his fist. "She must have a reason. I want to find out why!"

"If she is trying to kill you, we'll probably find her again anyway," Gesea said, going for reassuring but actually coming off as kind of creepy.

"In any case," Kraine interrupted, clearing his throat. He reached for the red notebook in the satchel on his waist and flicked through it. He stopped on a page, read a bit and nodded, then opened his mouth. "The next location of the seal should be at the Tower of Mana. I have heard that it is locked though and only certain people have the keys."

He might have continued with more knowledge if Yuan hadn't distracted him by dropping his travel bag to the ground and started digging through it. "Aha," he said, pulling his hand out after a minute and showing them a key. "This should be it."

Colloyd's eyes widened. "You have the key, Yuan?"

Yuan handed it to him. "I got it a while ago from Dorr. I thought it might come in useful."

"The Governer-General in Palmacosta?" Colloyd looked at Yuan. "Thank you Yuan." He turned to Kraine, who shifted on onto one foot uneasily and held his hand out to Colloyd. "Allow me to look after it until we get to the Tower of Mana."

Colloyd nodded and handed it to him before stalking off ahead with Gesea toward the exit of Luin. She was pointing off into the distance to where they could vaguely see the Tower of Mana. It was grand, but a dwarf in the shadow of the Tower of Salvation which loomed only an hours trek at most away from it.

Colloyd stopped when he and Gesea got to the fountain area of Luin and saw a bunch of people crowding around a newspaper salesman. He stood off to the side of one man and read the title on the front. LUIN RANCH DESTROYED. KVAR DEAD! said the main headline. Giving Gesea an odd look, he lined up and gave the salesperson two gald for it. There was no mistaking it. On the front with the headline was also a picture of the remains of the ranch.

"When did this happen?" Colloyd gaped.

"I don't know," Kraine interrupted as he, Yuan and Noishe caught up from behind. "But we should probably leave before people start to assume that it was us."

He had a very good point. Some people were already making the connection it seemed, as they looked from their newspapers and to them. The group clustered together and wiggled their way through the chaos to freedom and toward the Tower of Mana.

xXx

A short time later and after a few quick monster kills, Colloyd and his group of merry and/or stoic/mysterious friends found themselves standing before the tower. Colloyd stopped them all from proceeding in further by suddenly stopping, appearing to see something ahead. "It's Sheelos!" he exclaimed, running ahead and off to the side where the familiar red haired assassin sat with her head in her lap.

She looked up at his cry and looked surprised. "Ch..Chosen."

Colloyd tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. "Are you really going to call me that after everything we've been through? What's the matter Sheelos?"

Sheelos sighed and looked to her right at the Tower of Mana. Its shadow would start to loom over them even more as the day began to get older. "I need to get into the Tower to find Boltzman's book to help Pietro."

"Who's Pietro?"

"I would assume it is the man we saw at Hima," Kraine said. "Sheelos seems to be adamant on saving him."

Sheelos nodded. "It would be a waste of life if such a dashing darling such as himself were to croak it."

"Is that the only reason?" Colloyd asked.

Sheelos crossed her arms. "Do I need another one?"

"No, it's just..."

"While it is really interesting, I'm afraid I'll just stop you there," Yuan said. He dropped his bag again and took out the Boltzman's book he had shown them much earlier. Sheelos' eyes widened at the sight and she all but lunged at Yuan. He stepped back before she could pinch it out of his hands though and tisked at her. Before Colloyd protested that she could use the book if she wanted to, he shut him up by saying "on one condition."

"What is it?" Sheelos growled, clenching her fist.

Yuan innocently continued on. "We could use your help here in the tower. After that, feel free to go chasing unicorns as much as you want."

"Unicorns?" Sheelos' anger melted away, only to be replaced by confusion.

"Perhaps we should move onward into the tower and explain?" Kraine asked. Colloyd nodded and headed up to the locked door at the front of the tower with him. Sheelos sauntered after them with Yuan, Gesea and Noishe following.

"Uh.. Professor?" Colloyd asked Kraine after he had just froze on the spot practically when he had inserted the key into the door. Kraine blinked and ran his free hand down the intricate lettering around the edge of the door.

"Uh oh.." Gesea whispered. "It's happening again."

"Quiet," Kraine whispered in an odd and uplifting tone as he took out his magnifying glass from his robes. They watched him feverishly study the nooks and crannies before daring to even try to suggest to continue onward.

Yuan looked at Sheelos, who looked at Gesea, who looked at Colloyd- who then gave them all a "why me?" look. He sighed and opened his mouth but Kraine interrupted as he laughed and turned to him. "Colloyd! Tell me the origins of this tower!"

Colloyd straightened up and nodded. "I know this one! It's a tower that was used as a temple by the Church of Martel to offer prayers to the Tower of Salvation." He looked at the key that was still stuck in the door, needing to be turned in order to let them in. "I heard that they closed it a long time ago when monsters started appearing more."

"Correct. Good work Colloyd," Kraine praised. He set his sights on Gesea next but Yuan interrupted to save her. "Professor Kraine, as I'm sure you're aware, we are on an important mission right now and the life of Pietro still needs to be saved."

"That's right," Sheelos nodded. "I still need to know what you mean about the unicorn thing, too!"

The excited look in Kraine's eyes disappeared and he looked around. "You are correct. There is no oracle stone outside so I would assume it must be inside." He turned to the key and twisted it with a click before removing it and pushing the double doors open in the middle. He stood to the side and admired the surroundings while waiting for the rest of the group to trample inside. When it was just Noishe left, he nodded to him and closed the doors.

"So many books," Gesea said in awe. She looked at Sheelos. "Is this why you thought maybe the Tower of Mana might have Boltzman's book?"

"Yep," Sheelos agreed. "I heard from an old priest in Luin that used to journey into the Tower of Mana that he definitely saw it here." She looked at Yuan suspiciously. "I suppose it's useless asking you to tell me why you just happen to have it."

"Even if you asked, I'd just answer simply with the truth," Yuan said as he grimaced. "I found it in a regular library in a small and unremarkable town, run by a collector of rare things." He looked at Kraine, who's ears might have pricked up at the word 'rare' if he hadn't been totally distracted by the mountains of books. He was picking several out of one of the bookcases to their left as they spoke. Colloyd gulped, wondering if the sheer amount of books were meant for not only Kraine, but the rest of them to study.

The Professor set the books he was most interested in down and gestured to the middle of the room for them to head. Colloyd nodded, having already noticed the recognisable stone tablet that he would need to put his hand on. The moment he placed his hand in the groove, a star shaped pattern on the floor started to glow brightly before extending out its lines in a large circle that took up a large majority of the space between the two sides of the room.

"Hmm.." Kraine scratched his head and looked from Colloyd's hand on the tablet to the floor. "It appears your touch has activated the apparatus on the floor. Very intriguing."

"Then we must do something with the apparatus, right Kraine?" Gesea asked, casually stepping on the 'apparatus'.

Kraine nodded and also stood on one, looking behind himself as he did it. Nothing happened. He turned to look at Sheelos. "Come and stand on the circle opposite me, if you will?"

"Anything for you, my cool darling."

It appeared the old Sheelos was back in full gear now that she had little choice but to once again accompany them. Kraine sighed and made a quick mental note to ensure that she didn't turn her raging hormones on Colloyd during what he knew was coming. Just as expected, the moment she stood on the blue circle on the floor opposite him, a door right behind them whooshed open to reveal what looked like it might be a staircase leading upward into the tower.

"It is as I thought," he concluded aloud to the rest of the group. "This apparatus needs three people to stand on it for the door to open." He looked at Yuan and inwardly sighed. He was the logical choice for the mission. He was certainly capable. Too capable, almost. The other choices were either Sheelos, the very assassin who wanted to kill the Chosen for reasons still undisclosed, or Gesea- which was not happening. Colloyd couldn't move from the tablet because it was his hand that activated the magical apparatus that they all stood on in the first place.

Yuan put a hand on his hip. "Really Professor, you still don't trust me?"

"I'm sure Professor Kraine is just worried about you," Colloyd said as he looked at Kraine's troubled expression. "He must count you as a friend if he has let you come with us."

"I will look after these children until you return with an idea of how we might be able to get through, Yuan," Kraine said finally to him, looking him in the eye. "Don't get yourself killed."

Yuan nodded and ran past them without another word, his blue ponytail flying in the air behind him. When he disappeared into the room, Colloyd let out a loud sigh. "Professor.. do we really have to all stand here and do nothing until Yuan comes back?"

"Actually," Kraine said, shaking his head. "I thought that we could use the time a little more wisely than that."

He stepped off of the platform and headed for the stack of books he had picked out earlier, the earthy sound of the door clashing shut behind him. Picking one book in particular out, he took it back to the platform and sat down. When the door slid open again, Gesea and Sheelos followed his example and cooled their heels. Colloyd eyed what the Professor had in his hands in confusion. It was without a doubt something he had seen before. Kraine looked at Sheelos. "Now is a good time to give you a brief lesson in the teachings of Boltzman. We will start with what is needed for his healing technique."

xxx

It didn't take long for Yuan to get past the enemies with his butterfly blade in hand and emerge victorious at the top of the staircase that led into the next room. He looked back at the monsters he had destroyed last, all flashing white and disappearing in the next instant. "Not even a real challenge."

He glanced into the room that came next and rolled his eyes. The puzzles in these places seemed quite frustratingly easy if you were logical about it. He recalled the Balacruf Mausoleum and how it had seemed logical for the Chosen's team to search all over the place for hints on how to get to the next area by reading stone tablets. Really, it was all a big time waster it seemed. They not only had Kraine in their party, but also Gesea. Both "elves" were gifted with magic. He hoped his logical approach might have inspired Gesea for future endeavours.

Stepping forward and toward the end of the room where a door sat barricaded, he nodded to himself and looked around the room until he was able to locate a sphere glowing with light magic. Chuckling to himself, he let his aura glow and shot a weak light spell at it. As expected, the orb reacted to the light and the door to the left of the room whooshed open. A confident spring in his step, he sprinted across the room and toward the doorway. Just before he got to it though, the door whooshed shut again. A glance backward at the orb that had reacted to the light told him that things were not going to be as simple this time. Heaving a sigh to himself, he made for the red curtain that blocked the light from outside.

xXx

"Where do you suppose we would get a unicorn horn, Professor?" Colloyd asked Kraine once he had finished explaining the details to Sheelos.

"Anything that I could suggest would be mere speculation," Kraine said. He looked at Sheelos. "Now that we have some time to kill, why don't you tell us why you are trying to kill the Chosen?"

Colloyd got so excited at the prospect suddenly that he forgot that he needed to keep his hand on the stone tablet. The door that would allow Yuan to exit closed with a whoosh and he gave an embarrassed laugh. Sheelos let a fond smile crack her lips for a second before she stood up and clenched her fists. "Do you think I want to help you? This is basically suicide for.." she trailed off.

"For your world?" Kraine completed her sentence for her.

Sheelos flinched. Colloyd leaned over the stone tablet curiously. "Please tell us, Sheelos."

The assassin sighed and looked at Kraine. "When did you figure it out?"

"I didn't," Kraine said simply. "But you have repeatedly hinted that something will happen to wherever you come from if we complete this journey."

Sheelos grimaced. "It seems a shame your intellect's being wasted here, handsome." She nodded. "You're right. My homeland is not here, not in Sylvarant. It's in Tethe'alla."

"Teth..ay..are..lah?" Colloyd frowned. "Where is that? The moon?"

Sheelos snorted. "No Honey, it isn't on the moon." At Colloyd's puzzled expression she decided to just continue the explanation rather than wait for more wild speculation. "Even I really don't understand the specifics, but there is another world that lies entwined with Sylvarant, as shadow is to light. That's Tethe'alla."

"Two worlds entwined.." Gesea frowned as she looked at Kraine for his input. He said nothing and just nodded to Sheelos to continue. She did as he prompted. "Sylvarant and Tethe'alla lie lie directly adjacent to each other. They just can't see one another. Our scholars say they exist on shifted dimensions and have a direct effect on each other."

"What do you mean by that, Sheelos?" Colloyd asked.

Sheelos gave him a look as if to say "think about it." Colloyd gaped. "You don't mean... it has something to do with the Journey of Regeneration.. do you?"

"It makes sense," Gesea said pointedly. "It must have something to do with the restoration of mana."

"You're a bright one too, twirp," Sheelos complimented. "The institute would just love to run an aptitude test on you."

"The institute?" Gesea's eyes widened. Colloyd could have sworn she looked scared suddenly. He looked to Kraine, who shifted uncomfortably.

Sheelos raised one eyebrow but continued on with her explanation. "The two worlds compete for the supply of mana. When one world weakens, the mana from that world flows into the other. As a result, one world is always flourishing, and the other waning. Think of it like an hourglass."

Gesea stood up, a look of dawning realisation coming over her. "You mean to say that right now Sylvarant is…"

"Yep," Sheelos nodded. "In decline. Sylvarant's mana is flowing to Tethe'alla. Without mana, crops won't grow and magic becomes unusable. If there is no mana, the Summon Spirits that protect the world alongside the Goddess Martel can't survive in Sylvarant either. As a result, the world slips even further down the path of destruction."

"Then the Chosen's world regeneration is actually the process of reversing the mana flow?" Kraine asked. "It would seem to make sense, if we were to believe your story."

"I'm tellin' the truth," Sheelos said. "I'm the proof of the truth, mind the rhyme. I broke through a supposedly impassable dimensional fissure to protect Tethe'alla..and..." She bit her lip and didn't finish her sentence.

"So you came here to make sure I fail?" Colloyd looked down. "You really want to destroy Sylvarant?"

"Like I keep sayin'," Sheelos said as she put her hands on her hips, "Tethe'alla will die if your journey reaches completion. The quest to save your world will destroy Tethe'alla!"

Colloyd clenched his fists and opened his mouth to say something, but couldn't find the right words. Sheelos glanced away, looking troubled as well. "Don't look at me like that Colloyd. I know you didn't want to do that. I don't know what to do either." She frowned. "I've always placed myself on the winning side. In this instance it was clear that the winning side was Tethe'alla." She groaned. "But then I saw how you all are suffering. If there were a way both worlds would be happy, I'd take it, but there isn't!" She stepped off of the circle platform suddenly and backed away from them. "I can't abandon Tethe'alla." The door they had been holding open whooshed shut again.

Colloyd stepped away from the tablet he was holding and ran up to her. She looked ready to make a bolt for the exit at any second. "Let's find a way to save both worlds, Sheelos!"

Sheelos searched his eyes before rolling her own and letting out a sigh. "How is it that you say things like that and I automatically want to believe it's possible?"

Colloyd raised one fist into the air happily. "That's the spirit! Let's look for a way to make everyone happy."

"Have you considered that perhaps nothing that convenient exists in the real world?" Kraine cut in.

"But there has to be another way, Professor!" Colloyd gave him a determined frown and received a look he wished he hadn't saw. The look that said "have you forgotten the outcome of this journey?" He looked down and placed a hand on the hilt of the sword at his side. "I'll ask Lord Remiel.. uh, Father, what he can do."

Before Kraine could say anything more, a set of stone doors at the front of the room whooshed open to reveal a room. The sound of footsteps approaching could be heard for a couple of seconds before a familiar man with a head of blue hair stood in the doorway with a hand on his hip. "Are you all waiting for a formal invitation?"

"Yuan!" Colloyd smiled and ran for the door, the rest of the group following. Kraine frowned to himself at the situation and followed at the tail of the group into the next room.

What faced the group was a much taller room with multiple levels. Colloyd looked around in awe and glanced back at the other room a few times until Yuan led them through and past large white glowing orbs that seemed to be shooting beams of light at mirrors around the room.

They exited into a smaller room this time. A small brown treasure chest sat off in the corner close to an open door that looked like it led up a staircase to Colloyd as he ventured closer to the chest. It looked like it was rotting away at the edges. He carefully knelt and opened the thing to see a pair of chakrams inside. Taking them out, he noticed their purple-blue sheen, refined quality, and the large spikes that protruded from the base in place of blades all around. He set one of them back in the box and fiddled with how to go about holding the new weapon while they travelled up a large staircase. Although Kraine told them to be on their guard as they climbed higher, Colloyd found his mind wandering. It seemed pretty common for the seals to have very few- if any- enemies anyway.

After getting to the top and catching their breath for a few moments, the group made their way into the next room. It was a mirror image of the room before the stairs and led off through another door on the left. Colloyd immediately recognised the room it led into and looked at the Professor who came in behind him.

"It seems we are in the same room as we were just a little earlier, except higher," Kraine observed as he stepped forward to what looked at first to be the edge of their level. Two chests sat on the floor at his feet. Colloyd approached and saw that a glowing platform of light joined the area across from them to them.

Kraine stroked his chin as he knelt to look at it closer. "It seems that this may be the way we have to go. I can see some kind of teleportation ring up ahead." He touched the light bridge and ran his hand over the surface to confirm to himself that they would be able to walk on it safely before standing and leading the group across.

Colloyd was the last to follow, having picked up a strange looking gem from one chest and a heavy chain mail from the other. He felt a little weighed down by it but had decided it would still be better than nothing to sell to a merchant in the next city they found. On the other side of the light bridge, Kraine stepped into the teleportation ring. Colloyd closed his eyes as he stepped in, the uncomfortable weightlessness setting in.

The wind hit his face a second later and rustled his hair. Colloyd opened his eyes to see that he was outside and that his companions were in front of him and looking at the yellow glowing ring in the center of a raised platform.

"The mana is quite strong here," Gesea said.

"I'll say," Sheelos said as she nodded in agreement and pinched her nose strangely. "What's going on?"

"Be on your guard," Kraine said. Colloyd lifted his sword and new chakram from their sheaths and watched as Yuan raised his right arm. The butterfly blade that he had seem him use once before appeared in his clenched fist a second later.

"So you summon your weapon like Gesea?" he asked in awe.

Yuan grimaced and nodded without giving him eye contact. Colloyd quickly turned his attention back on the glowing light to watch it form into the shape of a blue horse-like creature with a golden mane and wings. It gave a shrill cry and charged right for them. The group split evenly to each side before it managed to make any impact, with Gesea, Sheelos and Kraine on one side and Yuan and Colloyd on the other.

Gesea began to cast a spell as her aura glowed a fiery red. Seeing that, the horse-bird decided to charge for her. Kraine, who had been going about charging at it from the side along with Sheelos and Yuan, realised just in time to run in and scoop her out of the way. He took the full blow of the impact and went flying to the ground several metres away from their location.

"Professor!" Colloyd exclaimed, setting off to help him up. Kraine got up slowly by himself and pointed behind him. Colloyd turned in time to see the monster charging right for him. He dove out of the way and skidded closer to the edge than he would have liked. The horse-bird snorted and neighed before turning to face Yuan, Sheelos and Gesea. Gesea yelled "fireball" as a bunch of red fiery orbs flew out of nowhere and onto the enemy. It flinched slightly but snorted much louder after it recovered and turned its head for the pinkette.

"Oh no you don't!" Colloyd exclaimed as he ran to the monster from behind and summoned his wings. He dove through the air with his chakram and blade both pointing slightly downward. "Rising fal- Oof!"

He found a barbed tail hitting him in the stomach and knocking him back to Kraine, who's aura was glowing white. "First aid," he called. Colloyd saw his own aura glowing and realised he was being healed. It was only when he briefly looked down that he noticed the pool of blood seeping out of his stomach and on to his clothes that he noticed the tingling pain. The blood patch stopped growing bigger a moment later, and with it the pain. With a groan. the monster had knocked Sheelos aside as she tried to get close to it.

Colloyd threw his chakram when he saw the monster about to charge for Yuan but found himself distracted the moment it left his hands. The blue haired elf-ex-professor had moved so fast he barely saw it. Before he could blink twice, Yuan was in the air above the monster and slicing right through its middle. The monster fell immediately, hitting the chakram on the way down. With a blinding flash of light, it was no more. Kraine rushed to Gesea's aid. She was clutching her arm that she must have scraped when he had pushed her out of the way of the attack.

Colloyd turned to the altar. "Oh Goddess Martel, great protector and nurturer of the earth, grant my thy strength!" He closed his eyes and allowed his angel wings to appear behind himself before opening them. Instead of the glowing light from Remiel as he descended down to them in his usual fashion, he looked down upon the altar to see it glow an even brighter yellow.

"Where is Aska?" a voice asked. Colloyd faltered back in mid-air a little when the yellow light faded to reveal a transparent woman who looked to be sitting on a moon. She looked up at him and then at the rest of the group. "Without Aska, I cannot form a pact or a vow," she continued. "Please…find Aska in order to restore my power."

The woman disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. Colloyd looked back at his group and immediately noticed Sheelos' jaw had dropped.

"This is the third seal. You have done well reaching this far, Chosen One, Colloyd!"

Colloyd turned his head back to see Remiel descending as per normal. He smiled nervously and gave a respectful bow. "Thanks."

"Now, receive this angelic blessing from Cruxis as proof of your journey," Remiel continued. Another glowing light flew from him into Colloyd. It felt sort of warm for a few seconds before the feeling completely ceased as though a switch had been turned off all of a sudden. "Go and offer your prayers at the altar in the distant land from which you have already journeyed from."

The white-winged angel had a coldness to his voice that Colloyd found somewhat intimidating. Still, he hadn't forgotten what he had spoken to Sheelos about not too long ago. "I shall do as you say, Lord Remiel," he said first to get the formalities out of the way. Remiel gave the expected nod and went to vanish when Colloyd raised a hand. "Excuse me.. father?" Remiel said nothing. He continued. "I was wondering if you might be able to tell me if there is a way for both world to prosper equally?"

"Both worlds?" Remiel asked.

Gesea took a step forward. "We know about Tethe'alla. Sheelos told us about how the Journey of Regeneration is the simple reversal of the mana flow between the worlds."

"That is not for you to know," Remiel said, his disapproval very obvious.

"Please Remiel," Colloyd pleaded. "Is there anything we can do?"

Remiel looked at him. "Your job is to complete the Journey of Regeneration and become a true angel. You will be able to consult Origin of your concerns then." He disappeared in a stream of light and transparent feathers.

Colloyd flapped in the air a few times before lowering and turning to the rest of the group, Sheelos in particular. "I'm sorry Sheelos. It looks like we might have to wait after all." He concentrated and made his wings disappear as his feet touched the ground.

"In the meantime we should hurry for the Seal of Water," Yuan said, turning for the teleportation pad behind them all. Colloyd nodded and took a few steps before stopping. Something didn't feel quite right. He took another few steps and stopped again.

Kraine stopped last before getting in the teleporter and turned to see him with what must have been a very confused expression. "Is something the matter Colloyd?"

Colloyd flexed his fingers and moved his hand to the hilt of his sword, the perplexed expression on his face deepening. "My whole body has gone numb, Professor."

"It must be the Angel Toxicosis again," Kraine said, walking closer. "Should we stop and rest for a bit?"

Colloyd shook his head. "No, let's keep going. I don't want to worry the others."

Kraine looked over him for a few seconds in case he changed his mind. When he saw that he was holding firm, he gave him a nod and continued onward into the teleporter. Flexing his hands once again to try and bring back anything but the odd numb sensation in them, but failing, Colloyd took a deep breath and entered the teleporter too.

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