As you recall, we stepped through the archway from the battle arena at the monks' place in the mountains after winning a key to the portal. We know we're in Sigal from the rich flavorful air. We came out in a dimly lit hemishperical room where there's not much of anything. After a few moments the top opened, and there were nine figures in dark robes seated in a circle above us. We asked some questions to try to find out a bit more about who they were and where exactly we were in Sigil, but they said it wasn't important. The most we figured is that they represented the nine alignments for perfect balance. One in particular spoke to us.
We were given the option to retrieve the Rain Panther Staff from a location on Oerth that they would send us to. In return, they would do something for our prime. My first request was, "Defeating Iuz's armies would be nice!" They said they could not directly go against the powers. Immediately, Myrathel's speech came to my mind - the one she gave before we saved the soul of Lord Holtgrove and she expressed her heartache and dismay that there was a time we were in the Underdark, and we gave it up thinking we were not yet ready for such a powerful undertaking. So, I asked the men in robes if they were familiar with the machine in the Underdark that was being built to enhance the mind control powers of the Aboliths - the one all the spell casters had been enslaved for to use their power. They were familiar with it and said they would destroy it in exchange for the staff! Every 560 years, someone is given the opportunity that we had just been presented with. (Why 560 I wonder? It's not even divisible by 3?) 560 years ago evil won. I still can't believe we have this chance to thrwart the evil on Oerth. I can't bear to think what might have happened had we not won our matches.
Any party members that didn't want to do this had the opportunity to be sent back anywhere in their prime they wanted to go. Bravely (or perhaps eager for the opportunity of what treasures might be found in some cases) all decided to go. We were given two whistles - keys to get through the portal and back that would take us to the Temple of Ranamore on Oerth. This is a temple devoted to all nine deities on Oerth (which I don't understand. Who would build such a thing?) Anyway, the staff is located in the burial chamber in the 3rd crypt on the left. The words "Raw - May" will disarm any magical traps. With that information, we passed through the portal.
We came out in a very lush, green, hot, humid forest. Ol' Gus in his plate armour immediately headed for the temple in front of us to seek out shade. We passed through a gateway with a huge statue on either side. They were heavy looking with very long snouts (like an arm) and gigantic ears. I believe Glim said they were called elephants. Whatever. We haven't seen any symbols like them inside. We approached a walkway that led to the main front doors (which radiated magic) or a tower on either side. A moat ran under the bridge/walkway and around the temple. We battled with a creature with pincher claws, and tentacles and mandibles that was very nasty, as well as something behind the doors commanding us to dive into the moat. I'll leave out the details of battle, but I must say it was very cool to see Gus create a web-footed dwarf that could retrieve anyone who fell into the water. We all eventually made it to one of the side towers.
There were several rooms inside with many drawings of a very creepy figure with a scythe who seemed to be commanding over many people who were prostrating themselves. Rona says he is a true evil god of death. While searching the rooms and doors, we heard this sound that grew louder and louder. Suddenly, several of the metal items we were carrying started to shatter - weapons, gold, theives picks (damn!) We found the creature when it made an awful sound again that actually seemed to tear apart the flesh on Alamar. We called it the Blind Screamer because it had no eyes. It was large and hideous. We fought and killed it, too. In it's room was a battered door. Inside was a dead woman who had been beaten for weeks before she died. She was half-naked and her face was painted with a skull. We still have no idea who she is, but Rona said a blessing for her soul. We were fairly beaten and spent from the battles, so we chose to rest and recouperate before moving on.
The next day we explored further and went through a curtain of blackness to an evil temple with bowls of rotting meat at the alter. We didn't see any doors which might lead to a burial chamber, so we chose not to enter, as the evil was just oozing from that room. (Actually, Gus did enter at first and was walloped by some poison which Rona was able to neutralize.) We finally came to an inner moat, this time with no bridge - just a very small dock. Across, the bridge was a temple. Above the doors was a drawing of Heironeous. And believe me, stick in the mud or not, I was very glad to see him! I thought we'd be safe here, so I put my foot in the water and was attacked by a water elemental. Oof, does that thing have a good wallop! We moved back a bit, and the elemental retreated back to the moat. We decided to go around the moat, as we saw a door around the side to the left. Inside was another temple. We were attacked by three people in armour fighting and casting spells. Some of us were inside, and some on the walkway next to the moat. We fought them as well as the water elemental simultaneously and came out alive. Close one - right, Alamar! I don't think the water elemental is dead. Anyway, here we stand. Glim, you and I can alter ourselves to fly across the moat. Maybe there's a way across if one of us checks out the other side?
My Fairest Lady:
Today I finally feel that I have actually helped somebody since I left our little home in the Underdark. Ever since I left and joined the party, I have felt like just more muscle in a large group, and have not felt that I added much more to this party than that.
However, that changed a little bit today.
The party had just recovered the key to the Singing Half-Cousin's keep in the middle of this infernal place called a "desert". When we returned to Nandelle's keep, the pretty one in the black armor, his servent, and the half-lizard had to return to their homeland. Laern, the Cousin from the Forest, also had to leave. Fighting Cousin lost one of his arms in the last encounter, of which I missed the most because I had been overcome by heat. This only adds to my burden of guilt which I carry. I do not know where the other Cousin went, the one with all of the pretty clothes.
Anyway, upon returning to this keep, Scathage, the somewhat frightening minion of the previous owner of this keep, gave Singing Half-Cousin a book. From that book, she was able to divine some information. Evidently, there was a "mesa", which means a huge, flat rock several miles accross, with some kind of very evil city on top of it. Singing Half-Cousin was warned that it would not be good for her or the Party to visit that place. However, at the base of this mesa is an entrance. I do not remember much more about what was said about that entrance.
So, Singing Half-Cousin, Capricious Beauty (the Tiefling), and the Quiet One (the Human who can change places easily) left Fighting Cousin nursing his wounds, and we set out to find this entrance. The map was pretty clear, but it was four days out in the bright open. I am starting to get used to it, but it does not mean I have to like it.
We found the entrance. I led the Party into the entrance, and the others filed in behind me. It was basically a crevice, at the bottom of which was a river of effluence. There were paths on either side about two feet wide, but one side was blocked off. We started walking along the path. It was very smelly and dingy, but there were walls, and it was so dark. I relaxed for the first time in ages.
As we were walking along the path, I discovered a place in the rock that was a little odd. I realized it was some kind of opening. I asked Capricious Beauty, who is good with opening things to help out. After spending quite a bit of time pointing out to her where this opening was, she finally got it open. Unfortunately, it was magically trapped, and it shocked her. Sigh. At that point, the stone around the door disappeared. I gazed upon something...
Well, I can't talk about it. I could not look at it more, and there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to walk anywhere near it. It filled me with such dread as I have never felt.
I convinced the group, with the help of one of the others who realized that this was such a bad place, that moving to the other side of this cavern was the way to proceed.
The ledge we were on was about two feet wide, then it sloped pretty steeply down about 15 feet to the sludge, and the rose about 15 feet on the other side to the corresponing ledge. Quiet One used his strange talent to put Capricious Beauty on the other side. We then tried to use a rope to cross it without dunking ourselves in the slime. I got over fine, but Singing Half-Cousin fell in. Once we got here up, we heard Quiet One yell out in pain. I looked over there, and saw that a human was standing right behind Quiet One and had skewered him with a sword. I knew that if I could cause a diversion, that Quiet One could get himself out, so I darkened the area where they were. I should have actually put it on this Backstabber, so that he would be clouded in darkness no matter where he went for a while. Such little mistakes.
Soon afterwards, Backstabber popped out the right side of the darkness, but another human, whom I shall call Sneaky, popped out the other side. I fired at him with my hand crossbows, but both of them fired at me with strange bows and arrows. The bows looked like they were made of bone. One of them hit me with an arrow, and the wound started burning. I realized then that I could not trade long-range fire, as I probably did not have long to live, and I needed to dispatch them as quickly as possible. I did not think the rest of the Party would have much luck.
So I scrambled down into the effluent and scrambed back up. I quickly dispatched Sneaky, all of the while the burning in my arm increased. I informed Half-Cousing that I had been poisoned while dispatching Sneaky; however, like I feared, no antidote was forthcoming.
Just as I had finished dispatching Sneaky, I heard somebody else behind start running down the crevice. I realized that he might be getting help, so I turned and followed. The culprit was invisible, so I ran with my swords extended. I know Uncle would not have approved!
I came up on the entrance to a big chamber. The ledge turned right and disappeared around the corner. The room was large, and it looks like the sewage flowed over this waterfall on the other side of the room at one time. It had an opening going back above the waterfall.
In the middle of the room, there was a bronze platform with legs, a square of ten feet by ten feet. It had some kind of ballista mounted underneath it. There were three wizards in robes on the platform; one of them was at some kind of control moving the platform. I realized that if I stopped moving, I would probably not be noticed. I also decided that standing here on the ledge was a good way of getting trampled by Inviso-Boy, so I levitated myself about 10 feet up.
I wanted the party to know which direction I had gone, so I put some dancing light about halfway between me and the party. At that point, one of the wizards cast a spell, and a fireball exploded, centering on the dancing lights. I hoped the party was outside of range of the fireball. If they were, I knew that they could get away if I kept these guys occupied. The poison was making me weak, and I did not think I was going to make it anyway.
I looked back, and the platform was now right below me, and the wizards appeared to be ready to disembark. I jumped in and attacked.
I dispatched one of the wizards as the other two seared my back with spells. At that point, I realized that the poison had run its course. Not that I felt I was going to survive anyway.
The platform started shifting and the surviving two wizards jumped off of it, as did I. I turned to face one of them, and suggested he take a dive in the pool. I did not have time to see if he actually did so, as I attacked the one on my left. While this was going on, the platform was floating, folding itself over and over again. It became a disk that was floating about three feet off of the ground. I was really, really weak at this point, and started trying to compose my dying song to you, Lady, when Quiet One appeared behind me, touched me, and we were not there anymore.
The party was in bad shape; the others had expended much energy dispatching Backstabber. We went back to the Keep to heal ourselves.
We came back, and the place was empty. After much cautious probing, we discover a peculiar marking on the wall. It was a hand, surrounded by writing. I looked at, and determined that it was not magic. Scathage had left a clue that maybe Quiet One would be able to figure out what was going on. However, everybody was afraid to touch it.
Everybody except Capricious Beauty, who is not afraid of much, and has more curiosity than a Chosen toddler. She placed her hand on it.
And nothing happened.
Singing Half-Cousin then performed some kind of magic or augury and it pointed to Quiet One again. Quiet One placed his hand on the handprint and the wall disappeared. Behind it seemed to be much in the way of money and other items; we decided it was best to have the rest of our august party with us when we went in. So we left.
I still carry the burden of guilt for our village being wiped out; I still wish I had been there to die amonst my brethren when it was overrun. However, I feel that I saved the three others with me in that crevice, and feel that maybe there is a purpose to my not being there that night.
Myrathel Glannath of the house of D'Ryx
Servent of Elestree, the Dark Lady
[Magnus's quest is to retrieve an unknown gift to Bahamut the Draco-Paladine from Lady Anja of the plain Orth and to bring it to Bahumut's temple in Excelsior. Upon arrival at the tower the party found it completely plundered and filled with the remains of the terminated undead attackers. --Sev]
If you recall, many of the bodies in the tower had on some sort of neckware. That would be very typical of a thieves guild. Not so obvious as a symbol that would give them away to authorities, but enough of a suggestion that they could recognize each other. The differences in neckware may have been just personal tastes, or may indicate some structure to the guild. We decided to go to Dark Morn - the livelier part of town - to see if we could pick up the local cant.
We went in seperate small groups to the Three Cats Bar. While I was gaming, Maeglin was approached. I don't know all of the details, but apparently the woman that betrayed him and kept sending him the black roses is back. She knows he's looking for information regarding the tower. She didn't really seem to have any info we didn't already know except for exact descriptions of the missing statues. She said she was being controlled by a vampire named Bernardo and wanted help. I don't think we've put any connection between this vampire and the tower. However, there was a possibility, so we decided to follow up on the clues she gave Maeglin to find this vampire.
We went to a bar called The Iron Door as instructed after dark where Maeglin provided a password to get this lead. We thought we'd just be given some information, but the bartender showed us to a door behind the bar. (There's some good story telling here we can save for later. Let me just say that you don't ever want to criticize Maeglin for the way he chooses to do something. It was quite entertaining to see the bartender diminished from a bully to a sniveling little boy with just a few words from Magelin) We traveled down a dark passage for about 15 minutes and it ended in a small room with several creatures sitting a a table headed by Bernardo. A battle ensued with two of the enemy fleeing (I think) and Bernardo changed into a mist and disappeared.
[The room contained Bernardo, an evil priest, a male and female thug of Bernardo, two merchants doing business with the vampire, and most likely a magical construct/summoning named Half-Smack. Maeglin said the male thug was the person that stepped out of the mirror from the gem we were all trapped in. The priest, the male thug, and the construct were dispatched during the battle. One merchant and female thug ran away (she was wounded before running) and Bernardo sneaked out as in mist form. The last I remember from that room was that I wanted to question the last merchant before releasing him but then we were on a beach as Sabra mentioned. --Sev]
Here's the weird part, the next thing any of us remember, we were on a dark beach in front of a large iron gate. None of us can remember now how we got there, though it didn't seem weird at the time. There was a nasty battle with two large (what were they anyway?) blood sucking creatures. They walloped Angus good without any weapons at the first attack. It was very gory. I'm ashamed to say Nandelle and I were scared out of our wits and momentarily fled. We soon regained ourselves and ran back to help our friends. The battle was hard, but the party prevailed
[The creatures seemed to be of a liquid form unaffected by sharp and non-magic weapons. They seemed to draw blood out of the victim during their attack to repair their own body. Also if hit by both tentacles at the same time they exert enough force to cause the victim to hemorrhage internally and vomit blood. Nasty things. --Sev]
Beyond the gates we saw a staircase and large skulls on either side. We then heard a voice from behind the gate yell at someone for being unworthy, and we saw the iron gates come open and Bernardo was thrown out from the entry between the skulls. We fought Bernardo. I believe it was in this battle that Maeglin was so badly drained. It seems he is now of the ability of a swashbuckler who's trained only twice. It was tough killing the vampire, because every time he was near death, he vanished into mist and then reappeared partially healed moments later. We finally got in the death blows and finished him with a stake in the heart and decapitation. It was at that time we reappeared at the surface again. We have no idea how we got back.
[This must have been the lair of some power or (most likely) a power's proxie. It seems our minds were wiped of the path to the location and even though I've been at that location I cannot seem to get a fix to it in my mind to teleport there. --Sev]
I'm sure we all feel content at destroying the vampire, the question now is, does he have anything to do with Lady Anja's disappearance (or sadly, her death?) We still don't know what the item is that we were supposed to deliver for her. Nandelle used a thought capture spell in the tower, and picked up an image of a stand with three feet, but couldn't see what was on top. From the other thoughts she picked up, someone obviously coveted this particular item. She and Laern can fill out the different bits of information they picked up at the tower.
When we returned to the Warrior's Rest after our battle with the vampire, we found Magnus and Mirathel and joined us in Hardby. A gentleman named Ramon came by who requested that we speak with his (mentor, boss, friend, we're not quite sure what the relationship is there) Aerik. As it turns out, Aerik and Lady Anja were deeply in love. He was devastated at the possibility that she may be dead, and wanted to work with us to find her, or if the case may be, seek vengeance for her death. We agreed, and while some of the party set out to restore Maeglin to his previous level of expertise, the rest of us waited and studied at the Warrior's Rest.
Much to my surprise, a group of Hardheads - excuse me - the "Harmonium" showed up at the Warriors Rest looking for Sir Errant. The Harmonium are the self-appointed "peace keepers" in Sigil. They figure society is always in one of two states: peace or war. They claim to prefer peace, and it better be done their way. Living in Sigil, I found that the best way to deal with the Harmonium was to not deal with them. Avoid them if at all possible. They not only hold law above goodness and justice, but they uphold their own law over anyone else's. Anyone who has been assimilated into the Harmonium and later decides to leave the collective is considered a traitor. Anyway, I was relieved they were looking for someone apparently connected to the looting of the tower and Lady Anja's death. (For a moment I had a fleeting thought that they had tracked me down to this prime for some past transgressions - but fortunately, I am not so important that anyone would come all the way to a prime to find me.) Sir Errant agreed to work with them since their goal and ours was, for the meantime, the same.
With further information Maeglin gained from his lady friend (the one we helped by killing the vampire) we set out on horseback through the dessert, resting by day and traveling by night. We had a map to lead us to an oasis and some ruins. We went to the wrong ruins at first (at least there didn't seem to be anything interesting.) And then we got back on track with the map headed towards an old keep. Along the way we encountered and fought a fire elemental and an animated lump of fire which were trying to box us in a ring of fire. We defeated them and moved on. (Battle tactic note for the future: even though the lump of fire fought by striking out, Jean Renard couldn't seem to affect it with weapons - nor did magical weapons such as magic missiles seem to affect it. He soon discovered that he could battle it like a normal fire by just trying to put it out.) It was quite amusing to watch the Harmonium function. Although they were effective once they got going, by the time they organized their collective into "one", it seemed the battle was half over.
After about eight days of travel we arrived at a keep. As we stood at the base of the keep the ground started to open up underneath us, and a large portion of the keep broke away and crumbled into molten rock. With a little quick thinking we all survived our "welcoming" and proceeded up a magical ladder that Fennorath had to the gates of the keep. Sir Errant was the first one to go through the gate with several others not far behind. There was an immediate attack on the party and a battle ensued. There was a river of magma flowing through the keep and a tower of stairs leading up to a throne and a head honcho who seemed to be in charge of the whole thing. There were also a couple of trolls, an animated suit of armour, and a pile of other minions who were quickly put to death by Magnus before they could do any harm. As the battle progressed, it became apparent that this individual at the throne was morphing back into a red dragon. After much fighting, the dragon screeched in defeat and flew away and disappeared into one of the posts on the back of the throne.
After just a few moments, a red dragon appeared flying out of the other post on the throne. Some of us assumed it to be the same dragon, others picked up on the fact that this was a larger dragon. Sir Errant valiantly mounted the dragon to fight it. At this point, the members of the Harmonium showed their true colors and decided that fighting dragons was where they draw the line. A couple of Laern's arrows intended for the dragon instead hit Sir Errant, dropping him from the red dragon (which may not have been a bad thing for Sir Errant) and the dragon flew off.
At this, the image of the head of a gold dragon appeared at the throne,looked at Sir Errant and Magnus and said something like, "Thank you, my family. I needed him." It sent chills up my spine. Magnus has informed us that this was Sunfire, his father. I won't be so presumptuous as to relate the history to you. That is something that only Magnus and Sir Errant could do. I'm sure even those who know the details of the tragic story could not understand how it burns into their hearts and souls.
[Behind the throne was a large crystal with a base that matched the resting space in Lady Anja tower where it was hiddened. It was some powerful dragon capture and/or control device and we knew it was the item that was the gift to Bahamut the Draco-Paladine. After searching the remains of the keep we did not find the remains of Lady Anja nor anything else of interest. I then helped Magnus return to Bahumut's temple in Excelsior and his task was done. --Sev]
Errant, Nandelle, Sabra, Maeglin, Laern (wave 1) and Jean, Magnus, Sev, and Gilliam (wave 2) go through the gate on the world tree to attack the Khaasta encampment in order to free the slaves and stop the stealing/selling of beauty taken from unwilling entities.
Not much resistance is met at landing. Two guards in front of the main building are dispatched and the door on the slave's building is smashed open. Hot oil is poured on the front part of the main building but the door does not budge to many blows of enormous strength.Sev teleports Errant, Jean, and Maeglin into the throne room of the main building. Something goes wrong with Magnus's transport and I tried to send him to a safe place in Excelsior. Sev then teleports himself into the throne room. Sabra, Nandelle, Gilliam, and Laern enter the slave's building hearing moans from a cell inside.
The throne room is empty and filled with fog. The floor is full of pit traps but everyone manages not to fall through any of them in this room. Errant goes through a door on the side of the throne room and is attacked by a giant lizard. The door knobs in here were also had poisoned blade traps on them. Everyone else from the throne room enters the lizard room and it is dispatched quickly.
Nandelle and Sabra find out that the cells doors all have poison blade traps on them and a hot oil trap is triggered that pours oil down the rear staircase which covers most of the floor on the first level. In the cell with noise instead of finding a slave, a wight attacks. Gilliam turns the evil creature but a arrow from Laern's bow frees it and Gilliam's stone skin saves him from a life draining blow. It is then dispatched.
Errant, Jean, Maeglin, and Sev teleport to the anteroom in the main building. Jean falls through a trap door and in impaled on a nasty stake 20 feet down. Magelin and Errant go through a side door and start up the stairs to the second floor. More traps on doors and hot oil come pouring down the staircase. Sev gets Jean out of the basement and then Jean opens the barred front door. Five Khaasta attack Magelin with poisoned weapons and he seems immune to it. Magelin kills the lead Khaasta and with Errant's help chase them up to the first floor.
Nandelle, Gilliam, and Laern start bringing in sand to reduce the slickness of the oil in the slave's building while Sabra starts climbing the walls of the staircase to check on the second floor. She is that caught in a holding spell the Gilliam had laid there to prevent people from coming down. Nandelle says that everyone was warned that it was put there by Gilliam. At this time Khaasta come down from the second floor to attack the party members there.
Jean sees Nandelle collecting sand and tells her to get the other party member back to the main building. Nandelle goes back the slave's building and is caught up in the battle there. Jean and Sev climb the stair case to join up with Errant and Maeglin. Only Jean makes it up there as Sev gets loses his balance for seven minutes in the oil and stairs (rolling five 20s for dex checks do not help).
The second floor of the main building is one large room with fortification consisting of two walls in the middle back portion of the room. Eight Khaasta that were watching the stairs cases are dispatched by Errant and Jean while Maeglin jumps the first wall and takes out two Khaasta between the first and second walls. In the mean time large crossbow bolts and magical spells are aimed at Jean and Errant from enemy behind the second wall.
Sabra and Gilliam are the first two to battle the three Khaasta from the second floor. One of them is the one that took Sabra's beauty in Sigil. Later Laern and Nandelle come in to help finishing off the attackers. Nandelle tells of the need to go to the main building.
Maeglin then expertly jumps the second wall to attack the king and his priest by himself. Errant throws himself over the first walls and lands on his back between a wight and Khaasta.Jean and Laern help Sev up the staircase with Nandelle close behind. Sabra and Gilliam come back at a slightly slower pace after a brief discussion. Sabra said she was slowed by poison from a blow by the Khaasta's battle axe and that Gilliam was staying with her.
Maeglin does a fine job of keeping the king and priest occupied to prevent further spells and crossbow bolts from coming over, but does not remain standing by the time more help arrives. Errant dispatches the wight and starts clearing the rest of the space between the two walls of Khaasta. Sev teleports Jean, Laern, and himself to the top of the second wall. Jean falls in behind the second wall on Maeglin's body, Laern remains standing and starts firing arrows into the king and priest, while Sev falls backwards between the first and second wall next to more Khaasta.
Sabra and Gilliam have troubles climbing the slick staircase also and are delayed a bit. Nandelle climbs over the first wall and follows Errant. Laern falls next to Sev from blows by the king as Errant passes Sev to continue attacking Khaasta. Sev and Nandelle revive Laern. Jean manages to remain standing toe to toe with the king and priest. Sabra gets to the walls and starts climbing. Gilliam then also gets to the main room.
Sev then teleports behind the second floor to get the king out of there.He opens a dimension door to drop the king out to the middle of the room but as the king goes he manages to grab Sev and takes him too. Nandelle turns another wight in between the first and second wall as Laern stands up after the healing. Errant climbs over the second wall just before Sabra does. The priest then goes out a secret chute after hearing more people climbing over the second wall. Gilliam creates a spirit hammer to attack the dazed king.
Errant lays his hands on Maeglin which manages to revive him. Laern kills another Khaasta after accidentally releasing the wight with a stray arrow. Sabra treats Jean who couldn't move without injuring himself. Sev teleports out of the grip of the king as Gilliam continues the attacks and then the king then moves to engage Gilliam hand to hand. Errant makes is back between the first and second walls to take out the remaining wight and loses a level of essences in a attack from it.
Nandelle puts up a rope to help people climb up and down the second wall, also it could be a place to escape to. Sev puts a couple of crossbow bolts into the king as he drops Gilliam to the floor. Errant kills the wight as Sabra and Jean make it back over the second wall. The king flees down the staircase and away.
The hidden second floor to the main building is found and after battling stone elementals the party is unable to pass the final barriers to a room filled with light. We leave feeling that we didn't complete something but realizing that the Khaasta were waiting for us to attack them as evidenced by all the traps and empty rooms on all the first floors of the buildings.
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