Fable - Ask Winter Training

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Kassandra

Princess Anireth
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"Kassandra, you cannot do this. I forbid it!"

The King's voice rang out with such authority that one might have thought had actually had some semblance of power. Yet he was not sitting on his throne, he was not addressing the assembly, he was not even speaking to one of the representatives which now lead his government. Instead he stood opposite his eldest daughter, sitting patiently in a comfortably in a plush chair.

Situated perfectly in one of the Royal Palace's many studies. "Father, please."

Kassandra's voice was soft, reasonable.

This was not a decision she made lightly, not a choice she had fallen onto in a whim. The Princess had considered this for a long time, before she had returned from AlthHaven in fact. She knew what it was she was doing, and she knew exactly how hard it would be. A small smile touched her face as she reached over, gently touching the King's hand.

"We need this." She told her father. "We are not above the law. I might have escaped the Academy, but this? It is only right."

The King looked at his daughter, his only daughter. A long sigh escaped him, his head shaking. "Our family once bred warriors. Soldiers, Generals,
Dreadlords."

Kizzie had insisted, but her fathers voice had been so quiet. So desperate.

"But...I've...I've never had much. You, all of you, are the only thing I have. I do not want to put my burdens upon you, I never have, nor will I. I am the King. My fathers put us here, but understand. Without you, without Lynu and Wilhelm. I truly am nothing."
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The Mountains of FelDraza

Her father's words echoed inside of her mind as she pulled the blanket a little bit tighter around herself. Her entire body shivering violently as the biting cold snapped against her form. She cursed herself for being such a fool, for making the choice she had, for ever deciding to be where she was right now instead of embracing the luxury and comfort of her life.

"PRIVATE ANIRETH!"​

A voice barked out from behind her, and almost immediately Kizzie snapped out of the small trench and to her feet.

Her entire body went rigid, remembering the drills she had received only a month prior in basic training. A salute snapped out from her almost involuntarily as the Sergeant stepped up to her position. His hound like eyes searching over the Princess and her drab uniform. Lips curling as he saw the girl shiver against the cold.

"Oh, I'm sorry Princess. Did I wake you up from a nap?"​

"N-no Sir." Kassandra quivered. Reminding herself, somehow, that she was more than a Princess. That she had graduated basic training, that she was a private in the Anirian Guard. That she had chosen this extra training. "J-just trying to get warm."

The Princess spluttered out, trying her best to keep her teeth from chattering.

"Oh, fantastic. I can help with that. Patrol. Meet the others on the south trench. Understood?"​

A groan was suppressed, her head dipping in a quick nod as she leaned down and scooped up her bow from the foxhole. "Y-yes sir."

She stammered, not even attempting the argument of special treatment as she headed towards the appointed meeting place. Kassandra knew there was no wiggle room, and wouldn't have taken it if there was. That was why she was here, why basic training hadn't been enough. She was the Princess of Vel Anir, but she was here to prove just what that meant.
 
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A heavy cloak was draped over Eleric's body, poking from his body his arms lay outstretched against the fire in the brazier, flexing his finger repeatedly against the heat, the 15-year-old had tried to grow whatever facial hair he could to help against the cold but it was patchy and thin, so it didn't help, he was thinking just shaving it off.

the air was thinner up here in the mountains, his breathing was heavier and more laboured, and he grew tired easier and it only made things harder than they usually were. though he presumed this was the point, the life of a soldier was far from comfortable and learning to fight in these terrible conditions prepared them for the future.

visibility was low thanks to snow but Eleric could hear the crunch of fresh snow under boots approaching and he lifted his head out of his hood to look at the approaching figure.
 
Alistair had spent far more time at Vel Draza than he expected. He expected to return to Vel Anir a week ago, but after a recent attack on the scholarly fortress in these mountains, Alistair had been ordered to remain to assist with preparing new defenses for the mountains that he long went forgotten.

While he was a Vigilite, Alistair was also a skilled rune mage who was perfect at reinforcing and creating new magical defenses for fortresses. Unfortunately, when he was not creating new runic systems for the fortifications, he was treated like any normal soldier. That meant patrols and security duties. He was a dreadlord, with a specialized skill set, at least granting him the rank of Seargent.

Alistair was sitting around the fire with the young initiate, he believed his name to be Eleric or something like that. The only upside to this miserable situation is that Alistair's boots had long been engraved with heating runes that kept his feet warm.
 
"What's your problem?" said Gosham, a direct and blunt boy (who was rather massive in size for his age, some of his peers making comparisons between him and Sable of the recent graduating class). He maintained a keen sense of reason and sharp rationality, but here he was annoyed.

Because Soleil Verdane was on his broad back, her legs wrapped around his waist and her arms wrapped around his chest. Her head was just peeking above one of his big shoulders. He was sitting down before one of the fires at the south trench, and with her clinging to him he looked like he was wearing a travel pack. She had no body heat of her own, and so she had hopped onto Gosham to leech some of his.

"Problem? Cold. For you, big problem. For me, little problem. But still problem."

"Maybe you should have worn actual winter clothing then."

Soleil, perhaps unlike everyone else, still wore the same thin, dark wispy dress and jacket that she always wore, the fur-lined collar of the jacket the only thing remotely insulating. She did have her cloak, yes, but it was packed in her (very light) travel pack, and she didn't take it out because up here in the mountains of Vel Draza the chance of rain instead of snow was slim.

"Why?" She tapped his chest with a hand. "Warm." He couldn't see it, but she elbowed her side in a gesture indicating herself. "Take warmth. Easy."

"Is that how it is?" Gosham said, irritated. Soleil was almost as cold as the snow itself, and he wanted her off. He turned his head to look back at her. "I'm only going to warn you once: go someplace else. Go over..." He glanced around, "...there. Curl up to Eleric and see how he likes it. Be careful not to bother the Dreadlord though or he'll break you in half, sand or no sand."

Soleil tapped his chest again. "Big," she said, and then pointed a thumb in Eleric's direction. "Small."

"Another 'you' problem. Figure something out, now get going."

Soleil slowly disentangled herself from the big Initiate, stood, then started across the white field with the southern trench on her left and the orange glow of Eleric and Alistair's fire ahead. A thought as she walked: might have to get her cloak if she got too warm. Snow would land on her. Melt from the warmth. Like a normal person.

Soleil walked right up to Eleric and looked down as he sat and smiled. She said, "You? Me? Partners now. Okay? New orders. Very important." And then after thinking a second added, "Surprise!"

Kassandra Eleric Alistair Krixus
 
It was a struggle to pull herself through the snows as she headed to the southern trench. Her boots, like all Guard equipment, were well made as was her coat and trousers, but the biting cold of the mountains still stung against her skin.

With every step she quietly reminded herself why she was here, why she had come here in the first place.

Her fingers curled in her coat pockets, folding into fists as she steeled herself and took an icy breath. "Excuse me."

Kizzie said as she finally found the southern Trench, approaching the small group of Alistair, Soleil, and Eleric. A small voice in the back of her head reminded her of who she was here, that here she was no Princess and carried no more authority than any other private.

"Sergeant Everren has ordered us to go on Patrol." Though he hadn't exactly been detailed in what or where they were supposed to be patrolling.

She blinked, and then suddenly recognized one of the figures she had approached. "Oh! Lord Krixus."

A small smile touched her face as she shivered. "What a coincidence, meeting you all the way up here."

Kizzie said, turning to look at the other two she did not know with curiosity. Briefly wondering if they were Dreadlord Initiates as well.

Soleil Verdane | Eleric | Alistair Krixus
 
Alistair had originally believed it to be just an extremely uncanny lookalike when he first spotted her walking through the snow, but as she neared closer and she spoke, his surprise was evident. However, he quickly centered himself. If she was here then she was in the army, and that made her a soldier, not a princess.

"Yes, thank you Private Anireth. A pleasure to meet with you again. Unfortunately, not under the most relaxing of conditions. I was informed of the patrol recently, so everyone gets ready to move. We follow the out path all the way to the third northern peak, the smallest one, and then back." Speaking her name out loud along with the word Private felt strange, but such was the new ways of the Republic.

Alistair cast his glance at the other two in the squad.

"Soleil, I don't care if what you said is true or not. You are here now, so you are coming with us. Eleric you are taking point." Alistair was aware of the initiate's abilities, and they were naturally suited for taking the front in a patrol.

Eleric Soleil Verdane Kassandra
 
Eleric Hadn't paid the dreadlord not much mind, it seemed he was mostly content keeping to himself and to be honest he didn't want to disturb him. Eleric stared and blinked at Soleil, his fellow classmate, he was confused and unsure how to answer her. Still, he managed one-word "oookaay," she seemed to be a strange one which wasn't uncommon amongst the dreadlords and magic did weird things to people, so he tried not to judge.

Eleric Hadn't really been paying attention to the private that had approached too distracted with Soleil but his attention snapped to it as the name Anireth was spoken. he immediately turned to face the two, seeing the princess, he immediately got on one knee lowering his "your highness, it is an honour." From a young age, he had been taught to respect the royal family, the guard was in his blood and the guard served the crown.

Eleric would stand as Krixus started handing out orders "yes sir" Eleric understood why he was in front he could see magic as well as see an enemy's next move before they even made it. Eleric wrapped his heavy cloak around him as he began to trudge out from the trench taking point as he was told heading towards the third northern peak.

Soleil Verdane Kassandra Alistair Krixus
 
Soleil had no idea who Kassandra truly was, not even Alistair's mention of the name of Anireth sparking any kind of recognition. It was in fact more informative to her that Alistair had referred to her as a Private, for she did have a keen awareness of the ranks within the Guard. But of the Royal family and elements of the monarchy? Useless information, so Soleil had deemed it, long ago expunged shortly after learning about them in the early years of the Academy. To one of the Houses she would have been sworn (at least before the Revolution), and since it had been they who controlled the Dreadlords, it was they whom Soleil needed to be aware of. So the Royal family was dismissed. Irrelevant.

When Eleric addressed Kassandra as "your highness," Soleil simply tilted her head. Studied him. Studied why he might have said that. Couldn't discern the reason. She would address it in a moment.

Dreadlord Alistair ordered her to come along on the patrol. Good!

She fell in right behind Eleric, following him out of the trench, and lingering a little too close for what most people would consider a sensibly respectful distance.

"You?" she said to Eleric. "Mistake!" She jerked a thumb over her shoulder back at Kassandra. "Her? Not 'highness.' Only Private. No rank called highness."

After a second, she smiled.

"See? Us? Good partners."

Kassandra Alistair Krixus Eleric
 
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A smile flickered towards Alistair as he offered a warm greeting, something she was rather thankful for. Being treated as who she was supposed to be was something of a struggle, but a good one. Many of the Guardsmen were still uncomfortable around her, and she'd noticed some officers going out of their way to make sure she got special treatment.

Not that she ever asked for such a thing. Just the opposite.

In fact when Eleric fell to one knee her hands waved almost immediately, head shaking as she smiled at the boy. "Please, that's not necessary."

The Princess begged as their party began to break away, the other girl pushing herself against the Anirian who had bowed to an almost uncomfortable degree. Pointing out the 'mistake' Eleric had made before Kassandra could say anything else.

She couldn't help the small smile that touched her lips at the girls odd manner of speech, not to mention the words that came forth.

"Yes." She added as they began to walk, moving through deep trenches in the snow that had been dug out. "I'm just another Private."

The Princess said. "Or you can call me Kassandra."

Though she'd noted that Dreadlords tended to be far more formal than other soldiers.

As they began to walk the group ascended, the cold wind biting at their heels as they moved further into the mountains around Vel Draza. The air becoming thinner, the clouds above darkening, and small snowflakes beginning to fall.
 
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As they walked Alistair's eyes began to glow with soft blue light, granting him enhanced vision into the winter terrain. He could agree to treat Kassandra as just a normal soldier, and he would try his best to do so, but that did not mean he would not look after her. No matter what, if Kassandra was harmed during this patrol, it would be his neck that they would ring.

"Keep your eyes open. It's cold and most things would not live up here, but that just means that the things that do live up here are a special kind of crazy."

There had been reports passed around of lights being seen in the distance for the past few weeks, but the command did not know of any group of people that lived this close to Vel Draza.

Soleil Verdane Eleric Kassandra
 
Eleric kept his eyes ahead of him focusing on the trail ahead of him as he trudged through the snow, he hadn't looked back but he could sense how close Soleil was, if she were any closer she might have as well have been Eleric's own shadow. "yeah, yeah I get it and sure, we're good partners" he would respond to Soleil.

"or adapted to hunting here." Eleric would add to Alistair's warning, there are far worse things to be killed than other humans, he heard about lights in the distance from the fort, light didn't necessarily mean sentient, plenty of things that can produce light magically, and none of them good, Will-o'-the-wisp were the first that came to mind.

Eleric activated his magic, his eyes glowing but not like Alistair's, his iris were filled with streaking colours of the rainbow the steaks falling into his pupil. if there was anything magical around here would be first to know.
 
The Dreadlord Alistair had a warning for them, but Soleil was less concerned about things lurking in the snow-covered mountainside than she was with staying close to Eleric. Killing was fun (beasts were boring though), but leeching what warmth she could presently took a higher priority. Alistair? Kassandra? They were alert. They could keep vigilance.

Soleil wormed in a little closer, behind Eleric and slightly to his left, touching his arm and pointing up as they walked. "Sky? Foreboding. Maybe storm. Look! Snowflakes. Enemies deadly. But weather deadly too."

She touched his shoulders.

"If storm, share cloak? Good strategy! Us? Good partners. Also us? Warm together!"

Kassandra Alistair Krixus Eleric
 
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The flakes of snow continued to fall, the wind pressing against gaggle of young Anirians as they continued to trudge through the snow.

Kassandra watched as the odd speaking girl squished herself against the one of the Initiates. Her lips pursing for a moment as she wondered whether or not the two were a couple, or something close to it. Though from Eleric's reaction she doubted it.

A small, amused smile flickered over her face, though she didn't add to the conversation.

Instead she heeded Alistair's words.

Her gaze pulled away from the two Initiates and dragged towards the mountains around them. For a few minutes she saw nothing extraordinary. Cold mountain tops, a sheen of white snow, and the haze of the clouds above blocking out any true light.

If this is a soldiers life, I can see why mother and father didn't want it for me. Kassandra mused to herself, not wanting to complain out loud. Fingers grasping the edges of her cloak and pulling them a bit tighter before suddenly she caught something in her periphery.

Lips thinned, and her head turned as she moved her gaze towards the east.

There, something within the snows shifted. "Dreadlord Krixus."

She called through the sound of the wind.

"I think there's something over there." Her gloved finger raised, pointing towards a small mound of snow that seemed to be moving ever so slightly.
 
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Alistair was busy performing his own sweep of the landscape as they patrolled. The two initiates were...confusing to say the least. He wanted to berate them for their lack of formality, but the Academy did produce strange individuals. He would leave them to their antics until it truly became a problem.

He turned to look in the direction that Kassandra was pointing and he quickly picked up the movements she had pointed out.

Eleric had not seen anything magical, so it was likely to be an animal of some sort...Then again, he may have just missed it.

"Privates provide support. I will be moving closer to take a look."

He nodded at all of them, waiting only long enough to be sure they all heard him, before moving towards the small mount of snow in question. Alistair had not moved for his sword, yet. Unless it proved to be incredibly dangerous, he would likely be able to handle this with just his magic.

Eleric Soleil Verdane Kassandra
 
Eleric turned his head to face Soleil as he felt her hand on his as she pointed into the sky to point out the storm before moving to his shoulder, Share a cloak? that would they be touching, like cuddling? His face turned red at her suggestion. His thoughts going all over the place, flustered by her request. Does that mean she likes me, like, like likes me?

"I umm err-" he stuttered out as he quickly turned his gaze away, Kassandra provided an out for the befuddled initiate, as he turned his attention to the pile of snow that was moving that the other two had spotted. Eleric would draw his sword, his magic wasn't really offensive, but he was ready to move in to help should he need to, he need this distraction from Soleil.
 
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Soleil had a dim and distant awareness of what true cold was like, back before her magic completely subsumed her "normal" body. Now its effect was muted, and it was produced only by the mimickry of her Sandform to that formerly normal body of hers.

Still, it was a problem, even if now a dulled one. It was a problem and it was one the gusts of wind exacerbated.

Yet the weather was not their only concern. As Dreadlord Alistair gave his instruction and stepped off, Soleil was all too willing to let him take the lead.

She looked from Eleric to Kassandra and said in general of Alistair, "Him? Powerful. Easily handle it. Us? Weather is our enemy."

She smiled broadly and suggested further to the two of them, "Make patrol short. Cut corners. Get back to fire quicker."

Kassandra Alistair Krixus Eleric
 
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Shifting her bow off her from her shoulder, Kassandra ran her finger along one of the strings from her pouch. Giving it some much needed slack, then quickly notching it onto the bow itself. An arrow was drawn seconds later, and she watched as Alistair slowly began to move towards the odd mound of snow.

Her head turned away from watching Alistair for a brief moment, shaking her head emphatically at Soleil's suggestion. "We can't do that!"

The Princess said discouragingly.

"There was just an attack." Kassandra reminded Soleil, not watching Alistair anymore but instead focusing on the younger Initiate. "Something could still be out there, and the Guard has entrusted us with fi-"

Before she could even finish her sentence the mound of snow suddenly exploded.

A creature burst forth from it's confines, it's skin a blueish green tone, a huge club was slung over it's shoulder, and it's fatty face looked more confused than angry as it let out a shrill roar. Almost seeming to bound back from Alistair.

"WHOSE IS YOU 'POSED TO BE?!"

The Troll demanded loudly, somewhere between angry, sleepy, and confused.
 
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As Alistair carefully made his way through the snow, it was impossible not to pay attention to the initiates' antics. The Academy was making them more strange every year.

Upon closer inspection, the mound was rather large. Alistair reached his hand out to touch it, but before he could, the mound exploded revealing the gigantic newcomer.

On pure instinct, magical runes erupted across his clothing as he quickly unsheathed his blade. He would have dove directly into an attack but slid to a halt as the creature bellowed out its question.

The creature was intelligent...kind of. That was a good sign. He glanced back to ensure the others were safe before he turned back to focus on the hulking behemoth.

"I am Alistair Krixus of the Republic of Vel Anir. Who are you?"


Soleil Verdane Eleric Kassandra
 
Eleric immediately stepped back as the towering brutish creature burst from the snow. A troll, it had to be a troll. was the immediate thought that went through the teenager's head but at the very least his magic had an effect on the troll.

"‘da name's Bitzrog Stonesplitta an' yer on ma mountain, now bog off 'umiez, I am try'n ta have a kip!"
The troll demanded, it seemed he wasn't aware of the anrian's presence on the mountain or at least this was his first encounter with them. Eleric could feel no intention to attack right now, his mind was a bit too groggy for him to get a proper read of his state, was he hibernating up here?
 
Kassandra? Not in favor. She would require more convincing. Or, if Soleil could get Eleric and Alistair on her side, then they could simply pressure her into cutting the patrol short. There were ways.

But the one problem—the one big, troll-shaped problem as it turned out—was that their patrol wasn't quiet, which would have helped Soleil's case immensely. Or, maybe it wasn't a problem at all. Maybe it was good. The troll could help cut the patrol short. There were ways.

However, Soleil was at present fascinated by something which stole away whatever faculties could have been used to generate a devious plan or two. The troll questioned Alistair, bellowed out his name, and made a demand. Soleil cocked her head and made a popping sound with her lips.

Then she pointed toward the troll and, with a glance to Kassandra and Eleric, said, "It can talk!"

As though it were the funniest thing in the world to her, she burst out laughing in that lilting way of hers. She certainly didn't seem all that concerned about the presence of the giant, nor its capacity to potentially do harm to her comrades.

Kassandra Alistair Krixus Eleric
 
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Kassandra had to forcefully quiet the 'eep' that nearly fell from her lips as the mound of snow suddenly exploded into a troll.

A bloody troll!

Never in her life had Kizzie seen such a thing. She had read of them, of course, even seen drawn depictions, but never had a chance to actually meet such monsters. A hand covered her mouth as she gasped, Soleil's glee quickly spreading to her as well as her fingers fell away to reveal a bright beaming smile. "My goodness."

The Princess exclaimed, shaking her head as the thing named itself and continued to speak. She couldn't quite believe it, and then suddenly it said something rather...wrong.

She looked to her companions, then to the Troll, and slowly began to trudge forward.

"Umm, sir?" Kassandra said delicately. The Troll almost immediately turning towards her.

"Who dis now?"

"Hello, I am Private Anireth, or Kassandra." The troll looked incredibly dubious, at the little human girl, but let her continue to speak as she moved through the snow. "I think you might find, this mountain is actually in Anirian territory."

For a moment the Troll seemed to stop and think, a hand coming up to scratch at his head.

"Bitzrog...Anirian?"
The troll said, seeming not to understand that the mountain could belong to anyone but himself.
 
Alistair just stared blankly back at the large troll before him. He did not want to sound pretentious, but who did this creature think he was? Alistair believed he was a match for him, but this troll could not possibly demand from the entire might of Vel Anir.

He moved to speak but was cut off by the voice of someone behind him. Immediately, he tensed as his sword moved ever so slightly to block the path of the troll from Kassandra. Yes, he knew she was a private, who would certainly be getting a lecture on why running up to a troll was a bad idea, but for now, his mind went to keeping the princess safe.

Alistair could not hold back the eye roll before explaining to the troll.

"Yes, Anirians, a large group of humans...Like a lot. This mountain is in our lands." He pointed into the distance where Vel Draza would be.

Kassandra Soleil Verdane Eleric
 
The troll looked in the direction Alistair pointed, a vacant stare as the swirling snowstorm blocked any sight of Vel Draza, Bitzog looked back at the man.

"I don't care how many of you 'umiez 'der are, i was 'ere first, dis iz ma mountain, ya 'ere me!"

The troll was getting angrier Eleric didn't need his magic to know that, from its raised voice and more aggressive tone and stance if Alistair continued this, it was going to become a fight real quick. Eleric inching closer to Alistair, just in case he needed to react faster than he could warn the others, his grip around his sword shift nervously.
 
Eleric inched closer to Alistair. And Soleil inched closer to him. Close to Eleric's ear she said quietly, "Kassandra? Alistair? Let them fight troll. Us? Just leave. Easy."

And after a second, to better emphasize her point, she added, "Waaaa~rm fiiii~re."

Soleil in that moment held no concern for either the princess or the Dreadlord. If anything, they stood in the way of what she actually wanted. And the troll? Also no concern (even though she still felt the sharp but distant inkling of the desire to kill it).

Her priorities were certainly arranged in quite a difference order than those of her compatriots.

Kassandra Alistair Krixus Eleric
 
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"BESIDE!"

Kassandra was about to say something else, perhaps offering the Troll a compromise that it could simply walk away from this whole encounter as long as it made sure not to harm anyone. Yet before she could get a word in the massive creature continued to speak.

""Der lots of Bitzrog people here too!"

The words came out of the Troll's mouth, and almost immediately Kassandra's mouth fell open in shock.

Her gaze flickered towards Alistair for a brief moment in confusion. She had never read about a troll problem in the mountains of Draz, but then again the range was a large one and the only city the Anirians had ever built here was the Fortress. "I...Do you meant there's more of you?"

The Troll, now shifting through emotions faster than she could track nodded.

"Ya, dum little umie not even know! Rogtown!"

A laugh escaped from the creature's throat, and Kassandra couldn't help but balk. Was this creature serious?! There was an entire town of Trolls? And the thing had named it after itself?! Her lips thinned, and slowly she looked at Alistair.

Entirely stumped on what to do next.
 
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