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Peril in Mynadar

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Peril in Mynadar

By Tumaros

 

 

Preface

 

The sound of axe on gold rang through the gold mines, a very commonplace and welcome sound to the dwarves of Mynadar. This day, the metallic clanging seemed louder than usual. The dwarves seemed to work with wild vigor, adrenaline pumping through their every swing. It was no wonder the miners were so excited...a new tunnel had recently been discovered in the gold mines, lined with veins of gold ore.

 

The moment the news had reached Bargak, the current ruler of Mynadar, the city's best miners were immediatly sent to the new division. The dwarves didn't need to be told twice! Within mere minutes, the mines were filled with dwarves, ale, and a steady song to keep their stubborn energy flowing...

 

Clang clang, clang clang,

 

Swing those picks, men...

 

Clang clang, clang clang,

 

Keep them swinging...

 

There's no time, to take a break,

 

Keep on mining, mining, men!

 

Each strong hit, yields more gold,

 

For our city, Mynadar!

 

At the last phrase, a great cheer went up, followed by a rumble of dwarven laughter throughout the mines. The dwarves believed that, with this new addition, their small city of Mynadar, located in the Valley of the Dwarves, would become the richest city in all of Eternal Lands. However, they still had yet to fully explore the new tunnel in its entirety, and if they had, they would have probably changed their minds about the mines, shutting them off forevermore.

 

 

Part 1

 

Gondric wiped his forehead and rested his pickaxe on his shoulder, staring at the rich vein before him. He wiped his beard and turned to a dwarf that stood next to him-Urungt, his mining partner for decades-and sighed.

 

Urungt stopped his mining as well and looked at Gondric. "Whatsamatter, Mithrilfist? Mining too much for ye?" He smiled teasingly, using "Mithrilfist," Gondric's imposing last name. The dwarf had yet to live up to that name though, and every time someone used it the stout dwarf was humbled greatly.

 

Gondric sighed again and shook his head. "No," he muttered. "I could mine all day if need be..."

 

Urungt let out a hearty laugh. "All day? A'course ye could, Mithrilfist, a'course..." He noticed the look of pure concern on his partner's face, though, and immediately shifted his tone. "Is there something troubling ye?"

 

Gondric looked around, and then turned back to Urungt. "Well, I can't shake th' feeling that there be trouble about, in these parts. I mean, we're at the furthest edge of th' new tunnel, not a soul but us has been out this far..."

 

"Aye," grumbled Urungt. "I'll admit, it troubles me a bit as well. But don't let it bother ye, ye be in safe company." The dwarf winked and set back to swinging at the gold ore.

 

Gondric chuckled, looked around once more, and then followed suit without another sound.

 

Later that night, the two dwarf friends were given a break, and they both sat on the opposite wall of where they were mining (they had yet to leave the same posts, the gold was so rich!). Enjoying a hearty round of ale, and another round of the dwarven mining song, the two didn't worry at all about the looming darkness of the unexplored tunnel. That is, until they heard a scream from down that way.

 

Both Gondric and Urungt immediately dropped their picks and ales and held their sturdy and elaborate axes in front of them.

 

"Did ye hear that? Sounded like a goblin," muttered Gondric.

 

"Ah, we can take a goblin. Do ye want to go see what that was?" asked Urungt, holding his axe straight out in front of him.

 

Gondric nodded, and the two dwarves began to walk slowly and steadily toward the pitch-black darkness of the tunnel in front of them.

 

Minutes passed without a sound, and the dwarves (their eyes glowing red from dwarfish infravision) finally came across the limp, crumpled body of a goblin. Urungt bent low to examine the creature, Gondric keeping watch from above. The deformed creature was cut in several places with what seemed to be a double edged sword of some sort.

 

"He's hurt bad...can't be a dwarf's kill by the looks of those cuts," he murmured.

 

Gondric nodded, shivering at the sight of the goblin, and began to examine some odd markings on the walls.

 

"What is it?" asked Urungt, following Gondric over to the wall.

 

The markings appeared to be made from some wild animal's claws, probably a cat by the dwarves' guessing.

 

"Odd," whispered Urungt.

 

"C'mon, let's keep going," said Gondric, rather reluctantly. He spun around, and his eyes opened in fear.

 

Urungt noticed his companions distress and opened his mouth as if to say something, and then shut it immediately.

 

The mutilated goblin corpse was gone!

 

"How...how can..." stammered Gondric.

 

Urungt shrugged. "It's not often that goblin corpses just pick up and walk away...there might be a creature down here with us."

 

A shiver went up Gondric's spine. His eyes darted from the claw markings on the wall to the still-stained spot on the floor where the goblin laid just a few moments ago.

 

Urungt started to head onward into the tunnel, beckoning for Gondric to follow. The two dwarves continued their trek through the silent tunnel, every now and then breaking the stillness with a comment about the veins of gold lining the entire path.

 

Suddenly, Urungt cried out. Gondric spun towards his friend, axe ready, his eyes wide. From what it seemed, a goblin had snuck up behind them and was now strangling Urungt. Letting loose a great shout, Gondric sprinted forward (as fast as dwarfishly possible) and drove his axe home, splitting the goblin skull clean in half. The small creature shivered and fell to the floor in a heap.

 

Urungt clutched his throat and growled fiercely. "Another one...with a fierce grip too!" He rubbed the back of his neck and looked at the attacker. "Seems like there's more of these little nuisances than we thought."

 

"Aye," nodded Gondric, wiping his axe on the dead goblin's chest. "We'd best be more careful."

 

Urungt nodded, and holding their axes with firmer grips, the two dwarves set off once more down the tunnel. This time, they passed for many minutes without any disturbances.

 

After a while the dwarven friends sat down to rest, and attempt to get their bearings.

 

Urungt pulled out a map of the mines from his pack, superimposed over a map of the area, and laid it out on the floor. He knelt over it and began tracing their approximate route with his finger.

 

"From what I can see, which isn't much in this blasted darkness..." began Urungt, "we've travelled nearly twice the length of the existing mine. Our path has been fairly straightforward, so..." here he moved his finger across the map of the surface towards a spot in the mid-east of Mynadar. "We must be somewheres 'round here."

 

Gondric nodded and then scratched his chin in thought. "Where do ye think this tunnel leads?"

 

Urungt shrugged. "Many places...'could double back, run below Mynadar and Kilaran Field all the way to that mine in...Desert Pines." He grimaced at the name of the dwarves' mining competitor...Desert Pines held the largest mine in all of the continent, with such diverse ores as silver, sulphur, and quartz. The dwarves made it their life's goal to show up the miners from Desert Pines once and for all, thus another reason for the excitement over this new addition to the mines.

 

Gondric nodded again, and imitated Urungt's grimace at the mention of Desert Pines. He held up a stubby finger and rose abruptly.

 

"What is it?" asked Urungt.

 

"Listen..." whispered Gondric, holding up his finger again.

 

The two dwarves fell silent, and they both listened hard. They could hear, off not to far away, the sounds of many screeches...feminine screeches...and yet, unnatural to the dwarves' ears.

 

Gondric and Urungt looked at each other seriously, and within a moment they were both off down the tunnel again, at a frantic pace, axes armed, following the unusual sounds before them. The dwarves found the tunnel begin to widen, and finally they came to the entrance of a large cavern, adorned in white stones and elaborate architecture. In the middle of the cavern there was a throne, which appeared to be made of solid gold straight out of the mines themselves.

 

The throne did not remain unoccupied though...there was a man seated at the throne. He appeared to be made of the blackest night, if night could be made into a solid. His cape, which was continuously moving (even though not a single breeze passed through the mines), seemed to be made simply of shadows banded together. Even his skin was enough to make a drow seem pale.

 

However, it was not the throne, or the throne's occupant, or the intricate architecture of the cave, that surprised the two dwarves. It was simply the source of the wild female screeches that left them frozen still.

 

Nearly a hundred female orcs were running around the seated man, whooping and screeching like the wild and deranged creatures that they were.

 

Gondric immediately ducked down and attempted to blend in with the darkness as much as possible. However, Urungt simply stood still, as if paralyzed.

 

"C'mon Urungt!" whispered Gondric, poking his frozen friend. Urungt simply dropped his axe with a loud clang and began to march steadily forward, towards the spinning circle of orcs. Gondric watched in amazement as his friend continued forward, finally stopping a few feet in front of the man seated at the temple. Just looking at this evil creature made Gondric begin to feel clammy. He sat down to keep from passing out by the overbearing fear the seated man held, and he watched helplessly as Urungt bowed low and muttered incoherently.

 

The man in the throne smiled and snapped his fingers. A group of ten or so orcs broke away from the unusual dance and approached the seated man. He gave them a command in the stiff orcish language and they began to whoop excitedly, staring greedily at the dwarf. The man in the throne snapped his fingers again, and the following carnage was too much for Gondric to bear. As soon as the first orc twisted Urungt's head off with a sickening crack, Gondric rose, abandoned all hopes of stealth, and sprinted down the tunnel faster than any dwarf could ever imagine.

 

 

"Urungt...dead?" asked a dwarf incredulously.

 

"Female orcs?" questioned another.

 

Gondric held his hands up, panting wildly in an attempt to catch his breath. He slumped along the wide entrance to the mines. The large group of dwarves surrounding him grumbled and shifted their picks around uncomfortably, anxiously waiting for more information about Gondric's experience.

 

Finally, Gondric was breathing easily again, and he described the trek with Urungt down the tunnel. When he got to the part about the orcs, he choked a bit, and continued softly. "An' then...when those...those things...got a hold of Urungt...I made for here faster'n I'd ever run before."

 

The dwarves fell silent. Not only had they lost one of their strongest miners, but they also had some fears about the new tunnel they had discovered.

 

"Mebbe we should close off th' new tunnel..." came a quiet suggestion.

 

"An' lose all that gold? This new tunnel could change the future o' Mynadar!" shouted one of the miners.

 

"That's not always a good thing..." muttered Gondric, and again the group fell silent.

 

After a few minutes, the same dwarf that had suggested to close off the new tunnel spoke again. "We should be takin' this to Bargak." The other dwarves nodded, muttering in agreement, and soon Gondric and four other dwarves (two of them the dwarves that had argued over closing the tunnel) had set off towards the elaborate structure in the centre of Mynadar that housed Bargak, the ruler of the entire Valley of the Dwarves region.

 

 

Within a few minutes, Gondric and his group were headed down the great hall of the king of the dwarven valley. As they reached Bargak, a large and surly dwarf with a demeanour that could frighten off a bear with one look, the royal guards spun to the sides of their leader, and the dwarven group bowed low.

 

"Me lord," began Gondric, rising from his bow. "We be here representing the miners of the gold mine to the south, and we bring urgent news."

 

"What is it now?" grumbled Bargak, his head resting tiredly on his right hand. "Another tunnel has been discovered?" he asked hopefully, his eyes brightening.

 

"Nay," muttered Gondric, and Bargak shook his head in dismay. "However," Gondric continued, "this does concern th' new tunnel."

 

"Well, on with it then!" growled the dwarven king, the fingers of his left hand tapping impatiently on the arm of his throne.

 

"Er..." Gondric stammered, "we seem to have run into a slight problem." He proceeded to describe his experience with Urungt.

 

When he finished, the dwarven king's actions mirrored those of the miners. "Wh...what? Urungt...goblins...female orcs..." Bargak trailed off, Gondric nodding solemnly, and slumped back wearily in his throne.

 

"I would suggest that we either close that new tunnel off..." started Gondric, but he was interrupted by Bargak.

 

"What? Close off th' tunnel? But...but we need this, for the future o' Mynadar! Think o' th' trade!"

 

"Exactly what I said, me king," muttered the miner who had originally said the same thing back when Gondric had first told them.

 

"OR..." shouted Gondric, "we could fight them."

 

Bargak shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Me men have never faced any o' their kind before," he murmured, referring to the female orcs. "Male orcs, yes, and they've taken their toll on our forces indeed." He closed his eyes, recalling a past battle with an invading orc tribe from the western mountains. That day he had lost nearly his entire military force, even though his men outnumbered the orcs. "An' from what I hear, the female orcs are worse than the males." A shudder crept up his spine, and he looked around uneasily.

 

"We could send for allies," suggested Gondric.

 

"Allies, eh?" grumbled the stout ruler. "An' where d'you suppose we would get them, miner? Kilaran Field? All they ever do is fight among themselves. Tarsengaard? Nordcarn? Both competitors. No, this be a dwarven fight." He held his head in his hands.

 

"Ask the miners, there be some strong men in there..." began Gondric, and the dwarves that had accompanied him all nodded in agreement.

 

"But they would have t' be trained!" shouted Bargak, standing up from his seat and shaking a fist. He began to pace around, every once in a while looking off to the west, to the setting sun. "Tell me again about the cavern."

 

Gondric sighed. "Well, it was elaborate. Amazing architecture, none I've ever seen before. There were lots o' female orcs, all circling around this...one man. Dark guy, seemed t' be death himself, made of nothing but wispy shadow."

 

Suddenly, a dwarf in a deep purple cloak, seated near Bargak's throne, rose. He tapped Bargak on the shoulder, and the dwarf stopped his pacing.

 

"Yes?" asked Bargak. "Is there something you wish to say, Ekwin?"

 

Ekwin nodded. "Yes...to him." He pointed at Gondric and spoke directly to him. "This man, you speak of...you said he was dark, shadowy, seemed to be the essence of death himself?"

 

Gondric nodded.

 

"Did he have magical powers?"

 

Gondric nodded again, and described the situation with Urungt and the orcs.

 

Ekwin gulped loudly, and began to shiver. "Unusual architecture..." He pulled out a parchment and a feather and began scrawling something on it. When he finished, he showed it to Gondric. "Did it look like this?"

 

Gondric examined it. "Exactly."

 

Ekwin nearly collapsed. He steadied himself on his seat, and looked around, pure fear on his face.

 

"Something wrong, Ekwin?" asked Bargak.

 

"C-close that tunnel...immediately..." stuttered the shivering Ekwin.

 

"But why?" asked Bargak, starting to sweat in nervousness.

 

"That cavern that he found...he found the home of the dark god of death...he found the place where Mortos resides."

 

Ekwin fell silent, his eyes rolled up into his head, and he fell in a dead faint.

 

 

Part 2

 

"Now tell me again why yer doin' this?" questioned Gondric, his body shaking involuntarily even in the boiling hot chamber.

 

Ekwin sighed and paused his ritual preparations. Still swooning every now and then, he managed to hold still and said, "Shutting off the chamber won't do anything to Mortos except slow him down for a few minutes. With the appearance of Urungt, he's most likely now aware of what this tunnel could be used for, and he might have already sent his minions after us...perhaps those goblins that you two came across." He paused for a moment, looked upwards, and sighed. "The only way to defeat a god in his corporeal form, and send him away from this world, is with assistance from another god. That's why I am preparing this ritual...to bless you with the grace of the goddess of life, Aluwen..."

 

Gondric held up a hand. "Hang on there...I'm not to following any god or goddess that's not meant for dwarves...Aluwen's an elf goddess."

 

Ekwin groaned, and had to steady himself again before he could continue. "But how else are we to defeat the god of death, without the power of his most hated opponent, the goddess of life?"

 

Gondric opened his mouth, and then closed it. Ekwin had a point, life is the strongest power against death. He crossed his arms and nodded, anxiously awaiting for this ritual to be over. He never trusted much in magic, believing it was for cowards. But still...

 

Within ten minutes, Ekwin finished the precise preparations, and the ritual began. As he called out to Aluwen, pleading for her grace, Gondric felt a sudden warmth flowing through his body. He felt as if he was being cleansed, from the inside out, and soon his whole body became a heat source. Then a cold chill ran up his spine, causing him to shiver. The ritual continued on and on, the minutes becoming hours, and when Gondric felt he could stand no longer, Ekwin was laying on his bed, completely worn from the ordeal, and bidding Gondric to leave.

 

When the dwarf left the temple, he felt different...he viewed the world in a different way. Things he normally wouldn't pay attention to he found himself appreciating greatly. When he found his thoughts wandering to Mortos, who was somewhere underground at this very moment, he lost control of himself and nearly killed a passing miner. At one point he realized his rage, and as he was yanking on his axe (which was embedded a full foot into solid rock!) he realized what had happened. He was now the corporeal form of Aluwen. He could feel her essence as part of him, her mind part of his. Gondric shook his head, amazed at it all, and started to head to the barracks. Here he was supposed to meet up with Bargak, the dwarven warriors (the ones that remained, at least), and the entire mining force that was able to fight...which was nearly all of them.

 

Gondric entered the crude barracks building, and found himself being dragged along by Bargak, who was muttering away.

 

"Aye...I can feel her power in ye...good, good...this way..."

 

They entered the main room of the barracks, and Gondric was greeted by a round of applause from nearly one hundred battle-clad, axe-bearing dwarves.

 

"Is this the force?" he whispered to Bargak.

 

Bargak nodded eagerly, and indicated Gondric. He shouted out to the dwarven troops, "Men, I present Gondric, who has been blessed with th' grace of the goddess of life, Aluwen! He will be our key to defeating Mortos!" A cheer went up, and Gondric found himself blushing.

 

"Now," continued Bargak, "I know most of ye haven't even handled a true battle axe before..." Some dwarves that were looking at their weapons curiously nodded. "However all of ye have the strength, and th' strong dwarven courage, to win this battle, and cleanse our mines!" Another cheer went up. "For Mynadar!" shouted Bargak, and he leaped out of the way as the whole force followed Gondric out to the mines...to the cavern of the lord of death...to their fates.

 

 

The dwarven "warriors" made their way through the mines, Gondric leading them through the tunnel. The group seemed to have a very stifling silence about them, almost as if they made a noise, they would be killed. Even Gondric thought the tunnel seemed a little quieter than before, even with the echoing beat of the marching dwarves. Only once the group ran into a goblin, and before they even had a chance to attack it, the creature fell dead just at the sight of the dwarven force.

 

Finally, they came to the entrance of the cavern. Gondric warned them to be careful, reminding them of what happened to his former mining partner. Yet just a look at the female orcs caused some troops to move unsteadily forward. Each time they were revived by another dwarf, though, and after a few minutes of scanning the area, Gondric let out a great war cry, and the entire dwarven force rushed forward like one huge mass.

 

Within a minute, every orc in the cavern was caught in a fierce battle with one of the dwarves. Gondric found it hard to tell which side was winning, both were taking an equal beating. However, his mind immediately set to his goal in the cavern...his eyes spun towards the figure in the throne...the lord of evil, Mortos.

 

He ran forward, keeping his guard up, and as soon as he was within arm's length of the dark creature, he found himself thrown back five feet. He sat up and saw the dark god rise from his throne, a smile contorting his twisted, maniacal face.

 

Mortos laughed, a high-pitched, unnatural laughter that could be heard throughout the cavern, even over the noises of battle.

 

"So," he roared in a voice that caused Gondric to fall back down again. "So Aluwen has found a corporeal form, and decided to try and challenge Mortos, god of evil? A dwarf...pitiful Aluwen, simply pitiful." He raised his hands and began muttering in a guttural language, a telltale sign of a spell casting.

 

Gondric's suspicions were confirmed, and he spun out of the way just in time to dodge a lightning bolt aimed at him. He lunged for his axe and growled fiercely. He glared at Mortos with absolute hatred, Gondric slipping out of consciousness, Aluwen taking over the dwarf's body.

 

Gondric lunged forward again, this time preparing for the odd force field around the god, throwing his axe at it a moment before he would have crashed into it. The air surrounding Mortos seemed to shudder, the images inside bending and contorting. Then the air seemed to pull inward, dragging Gondric along with it, towards a small hole that was forming at the chest of the dark god. Then, in one huge explosion, the air inside that hole rushed outward, blowing dwarf and orc alike to the edges of the cavern.

 

The battles around the edges picked up abruptly, and Gondric was down for only a second, finding himself lunging for Mortos once more. This time, however, Gondric did not anticipate the force field, and he continued to run, headfirst, five meters from the globe of protection...three meters...one meter...

 

Mortos laughed maniacally, snapped his fingers, and disappeared from sight. Gondric hurtled forward blindly, not being able to slow himself in time, and smashed into the other side of the cavern. He roared in fury and spun around to find Mortos standing once again in the middle of the cavern, his laugh reverberating through Gondric's mind.

 

"Oh, it is indeed a fun game we play, Aluwen!" roared Mortos, and he clapped his hands twice. With a loud snap, a massive, jet-black panther with blood-red eyes...a d'ray-kel, a cat-like demon of Mortos's realm...appeared at the dark lord's side. "However, my pet doesn't want to be left out. Why don't you two play a game of cat and mouse?" He roared with laughter, and disappeared from sight.

 

Screams of "D'ray-kel!" erupted from the dwarves, who were still fighting the stalemate battle. Gondric roared in fury and charged for the great beast.

 

The d'ray-kel dove for Gondric at the same time, and the two found themselves caught in vicious close combat. Gondric swung his axe wildly at the d'ray-kel's eyes, catching one and causing the creature to rear up in pain. Gondric made a note of the cat's reaction, but wanting mainly to escape the violent creature's grip, he wiggled his way out and backed up against the wall.

 

The d'ray-kel stared around with its single eye until it could recognize Gondric, and dove furiously forward. Gondric anticipated the motion, and held his axe out at the last minute at just the right height, causing the d'ray-kel's other eye to explode as well. As before, the d'ray-kel reared up in fury, and spotting the soft underbelly, Gondric made a fierce uppercut with his axe. The d'ray-kel screamed and hissed, and eventually fell on its back wiggling. Gondric took his axe and made a fierce slice right through the great beast's neck, and the squirming cat abruptly laid limp on the ground. Some of the ravenous orcs who didn't have a dwarf to fight ran over to the creature and began tearing off the skin, diving into the feline meat. (Some of the anxious dwarves who didn't have a orc to fight took advantage of this situation...and soon the hungry orcs were dead!)

 

"I banish thee, Mortos!" shouted Gondric, however his voice came out as that of a female. "For the good of all the people of these Eternal Lands, I banish thee to the god's realm, where you shall be kept under constant watch, and these people shall know peace once again!"

 

"Bah! Curse you!" came a shout from the middle of the cavern. Gondric spun around and found Mortos shaking his fist angrily at him...however his body was slowly deteriorating. "This war is not yet won, goddess of life!" There was a loud snapping noise, and both Mortos and the d'ray-kel disappeared. At the same time, all of the female orcs that were still alive fell, dead.

 

The cavern erupted with the cheers of the dwarves that remained, and Gondric felt his normal self returning to consciousness. He began to take in his surroundings, and what had just happened, and had to steady himself on the wall of the cavern. He heard a faint, sweet voice in the back of his head...

 

You have done well, Gondric Mithrilfist. You have served all the good peoples of the Eternal Lands, and have assisted me in an ongoing struggle against the dark lord Mortos. Thank you, and your deeds shall not go unrewarded. Now gather your troops and leave, dwarf lord.

 

As the last words sank in, Gondric suddenly realized that the ground was shaking below him. Rocks began to fall and crumble all around him.

 

"Quick!" he shouted, sprinting for the tunnel, the only exit. "It's all coming down! Run!"

 

The small group of dwarves that remained followed Gondric through the tunnel, leaving a path of destruction in their wake, as the entire empire of Mortos came crashing down.

 

 

Epilogue

 

"What is it?" asked the dwarf king.

 

"Me lord," began the small dwarf, fumbling with his pickaxe. "The miners guard has reported a slight problem..."

 

The king of the dwarves leaned forward in his seat. "An' what might that be?"

 

"Well, y'know how we've been attacked by what seems t' be a never-ending stream of goblins in th' past few days?"

 

The dwarf king nodded.

 

"It appears that...well...after we kill one, it sits there for a minute or so, and then...well, me lord, it comes back to life."

 

The dwarf king crossed his arms and smiled. He turned to Ekwin, his right-hand man, and they both figured the same thing.

 

"Mortos," muttered the dwarf king, spitting as he said the name of the lord of evil, which was recently banished to the realm of the gods. "He's up t' his devilish tricks again."

 

Ekwin nodded. "We have no choice but to continue killing them. Send word to the miners guard to come as soon as possible."

 

"Yes, sir," muttered the small miner, and he scurried off.

 

The dwarf king crossed his arms and shook his head. "It's amazing...th' miners..."

 

"It is indeed," murmured Ekwin, nodding.

 

"I mean, a small dwarven town like Mynadar is now one of th' most popular trading centres in the world. It's a tough job t' rule..."

 

"Good thing we have a king like you, Gondric." Ekwin smiled.

 

"That's Gondric Mithrilfist, t' you," laughed Gondric, finally able to use his imposing last name with pride.

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