Ashfell

Fifth Session

10/30/16

  • We all take our seats around a large round table.
  • Odd tries to convince Ethan to share a chair with him, but this isn’t the hovel and Ethan says he has to act dignified.
  • After we solved the murder, certain factions form. Because the noble council no longer has the strength it once had, the nobles are only one faction.
  • Each of the factions can’t agree who to put forward to run the city. There was lots of fighting until they decide that we’re heroes and each faction picks one of us.
  • What we say publically tends to make things happen
  • We have a hand in directing the city
  • Riley sets aside a large meeting room in the Customs House where we can meet and decide what to do.
  • We meet with our factions individually, then make decisions privately with each other.
  • The first things we get together to discuss is about whether or not to execute Catarina for the murder of her husband.
  • The nobles want her dead. She killed a noble and hid her children.
  • Daggart thinks she’s dangerous, but extremely talented in alchemy. Keep her alive, but locked up. Teach others.
  • The public mainly knows about the death of the governor, not the extent of how weakened the nobles have become. The nobles aren’t publicizing the extent of her crimes.
  • In Ashfell, if you’re a noble who murders another noble, you get exiled or locked in your house.
  • In this case, it wouldn’t been weird to have a public execution to discourage this behaviour.
  • She has shown contempt for society
  • We don’t know where her daughters are. The nobles want to find them, suspect that she killed them too. Level-headed advisors think the nobles still want to marry them off.
    Catarina doesn’t seem to care if she lives or dies. Would like to live, but mostly wants her daughters to remain safe.
  • Daggart fears that exiling Catarina, she’ll end up living comfortably in Two Rivers. She has a lot of potential wealth outside the city. It’d be the same as letting her off the hook.
  • Two daughters, ten and eight years old.
  • We all agree, totally unanimously, to leave the daughters alone, and to sentence Catarina to a life in service to the city (state alchemist).
  • We decide that the garrison is the best place to keep her locked up right now. Don’t want other nobles killing her. Want her to look imprisoned.
  • Reckonth does a fly-by and we all high-five him.
  • Overtime we start settling into our roles.
  • The city goes along with what we said, cause we saved the city. Our decisions become excused. Even if they disagree, they’ll come up with reasons why we’re right.
  • We start getting details and information that we didn’t have before, that no one had before.
  • Us and the new ruling council discover just how dire the situation was in the city without anyone realizing it.
  • Svend was good at putting on a brave face and keeping morale up, but he was under a lot of pressure.
  • Oldtown – extreme overpopulation
  • Everyone is overtaxed except for the nobility.
  • The city is sitting on a lot of extra income, raw resources, but it’s not getting back out into the city and there are too many people
  • Large group of dwarves camping in the middle of the city. Some people, reforming businesses, joining caravans, etc. But the large majority have nowhere to go. They’re refugees asking for a place to stay
  • The city, across all strata, wants to get them out.
  • Anti-dwarf sentiment until one dwarf shows up – “We found something”
  • Dwarves find “dwarf sign” no one has noticed
  • Indicate underground tunnels, secret passages to those tunnels. The dwarves explore these and say they can live under the city and grow those super nutritious mushrooms. Combat the overpopulation and hunger.
  • Win-win, we luck out.
  • The dwarves are stoneworkers, and the bones of the city are stone. They offer to tear down the wood built over the stone and make Ashfell what it was supposed to be.
  • In Greenwall, seem to have built from the outside out.
  • But they need stone. There are records of a quarry (wizards/Eloenn can tell us) to the northwest, but the bridge was destroyed. Someone destroyed it on purpose. They want to fix it.
  • We’re pretty on-board.
  • The reason Svend didn’t know about dwarf kidnappings is that the guard is stretched really thin. No news from outside the city.
  • People have different ideas to increase the guard. Some people suggest draft.
  • Then Brog shows up, he has a mercenary army of goblins and will work for Ashfell (for gold). He’ll keep the goblins busy.
  • We agree to hire him, but also want to improve the guard with Ashfell citizens.
  • Daggart was in charge of the guard. The nobles aren’t a fan. There’s a big call to replace Daggart.
  • Daggart knew that the guard was stretched to the limits, didn’t know anything about what was going on outside the city. Svend told him there was other information coming in, so he didn’t question it too much.
  • Daggart was exhausted, seems almost relieved at the idea of being fired. But he’s into our reforms.
  • He supports hiring Brog, it energizes him.
  • Suggests getting the noble sons trained as officers.
  • Some people want Daggart’s assistant to take over, some want Ilsevel.
  • People would be into having Odd be in charge (Odd’s not into it).
  • We want to keep Daggart. We trust him.
  • Eloenn asks Ilsevel to be a bit more hands-on with the guard. Ilsevel insists on two leaders, one a liaison with the mercenary army, one keeping an eye on things inside the city. Riley nominates her mother as the liaison.
  • Our decisions are unpopular at first, but once the goblins start proving themselves extremely useful at stopping centaurs, and getting us a lot of info about the area outside the city, opinion turns around.
  • No one is going to the church of Ishkur. People call for it to be closed. Aleril says no, wants to be in charge of the church, bring it back to what it should be. But there’s a lot of suspicion directed at the church as a whole.
  • Overpowering majority ask for the church to be closed.
  • Little by little, Ishkur has started speaking to them again, because of Aleril’s work.
  • Aleril is going out, healing the sick, taking in the poor and disadvantaged.
  • Riley argues for tradition and stability.
  • Levi agrees, calls for support for the church of Ishkur.
  • We want to leave it open, do a PR campaign.
  • All of this happens over the course of a year.
  • Towards the end of that period, Harper’s doing his thing and one day he decides to drop in with an orphan, to deliver it to Arlo. He discovers Arlo kind of hidden, burying the body of a child. There’s a confrontation. Arlo tells Harper that he’s trying to avoid a panic.
  • Arlo shows Harper that this child (five or six) has a spider’s mandible in its mouth, instead of teeth.
  • He doesn’t want people to find it and panic.
  • Harper sends a messenger, an older orphan boy, to deliver the message to us while we’re in a meeting.
  • While he’s talking to us, Eloenn looks up and sees someone standing behind Riley who wasn’t there before
  • A man, dressed finely, a silhouette. Details, but darkness from head to toe. Leaning on Riley’s chair.
  • Eloenn casts Detect Thoughts, directed at the man. First she feels very cold. Then she feels anticipation for a party.
  • She doesn’t sense anyone else in the room that shouldn’t be there. The guy is just chilling.
  • Xan notices too. She shoots a firebolt at him. The firebolt streaks over Riley’s head. The light flares and then the figure is gone.
  • It didn’t feel like any thoughts Eloenn has felt before. A voice echoing miles away.
  • Eloenn and Xan sort of explain what’s going on.
  • Riley spots shadows coalescing behind Odd and Ethan. They form a man and start walking toward the door.
  • Riley chases him, yelling at him. He’s leisurely heading down the hall.
  • Eloenn tires to probe his mind deeper, but the voice feels far away and he winks out again.
  • The door opens at the end of the hall. A shadow woman in very very fine clothing, nicer than modern nobles, she dances into the hall, a little spin, her dress flows around her.
  • A bewildered person looks out, super confused.
  • Different brain. Still cold, still distant, intense excitement at the coming party.
  • Riley asked the confused person, screaming has started downstairs. They said the dancing woman appeared in his room and danced in front of the door until he opened it.
  • The woman is dancing in the common room, gathering things that aren’t there. She dances out the front door. Two more figures of men either walk through walls or coalesce and join her, going out the front door.
  • Riley tries to calm everyone down. Everyone’s pretty frozen in their seats. She says something reassuring and heads out the front door.
  • Eloenn sends Reckonth up to follow them.
  • Riley can see a lot of ghost. Eerie blue-green glow from behind the clouds in the sky, moon not cutting through.
  • Glow forms a snake, heading northwest.
  • Mysterious abandoned castle is also that way.
  • Eloenn sends Reckonth into the clouds, and instantly loses contact with him.
  • Thousands of people, thousands of silhouettes, pouring out of the stone structures of Oldtown. People are fleeing into their houses to get away from them. The streets are full. They’re walking towards the King’s Road.
  • Eloenn doesn’t remember much, but a long time ago there was a holiday to commemorate a party that used to be thrown everyone 100 years. Three night party, starting at sundown, ends at sunup. All references to the party are vague, hasn’t been done in centuries.
  • Clothing of the silhouettes is finery, much nicer than today’s nobles.
  • It was difficult for Reckonth to tell, but the silhouettes were coming out of side-streets that lead to the Greenwall, so the ghosts are coming from there as well.
  • There’s a lot of screaming, but we haven’t seen anyone dying.
  • Riley’s following the ghosts, so is Xan. The streets are very crowded. If you try to touch one, they wink out of existence and reform. Don’t acknowledge anything going on around them.
  • As they come out of the houses or whatever, they seem excited, talking without sound, but once they get into the street, they fall into lockstep.
  • If we follow them, we end up on the King’s Road and the ghosts are heading out of the city. They don’t seem to be hurting anyone.
  • Eloenn goes home to do research and resummon Reckonth.
  • When the sun rises, it’s extremely cloudy and misty. The silhouettes fade, but it feels like they’re still there, you just can’t seem them.
  • The road they’re following doesn’t seem to be there anymore, heading north and swinging west.
  • Grassland, rolling hills.
  • Riley can tell they’re following the eerie snake-like light in the sky. Toward the mountains in the northwest. Hasn’t been explored in a long time, until the dwarves re-built the bridge that goes to the quarry.
  • Odd’s with Callum
  • Enid with Riley
  • Eloenn summons Reckonth, he only appears as a raven.
  • Almost as if someone has tried to conceal any history on those mountains and the castle. * One book about that area, someone has scribbled over the name of the castle and most of the information. The spell Mending helps a bit.
  • What she can gather is that there was a noble family that essentially protected Ashfell, saw it in a feudal sense. Ruled for some hundreds of years. Very little context for the history. Don’t know how long ago.
  • She gets the sense that it’s one family, five or six people over many hundreds of years, not a lineage.
  • Could be elves, it’d fit if it was dwarves, but castle doesn’t make sense. Could be tieflings
  • Ashfell was aware of them. Everyone 100 years, they’d have a three day party, thrown by a specific member of the family (different one each time). So-and-so threw Dance of Illusions. * Each dance has a specific name. All other names are redacted.
  • Nothing like happened last 100 years. The bridge has been down over 600 years.
  • Eloenn takes the information to her parents. They are equally dumbfounded.
  • Research on ghosts makes it seem like these are indeed ghosts. “A person who was a silhouette, don’t acknowledge anything around them, living out some past event.”
  • There are undead things that can attack people, but the type of story this lines up with, this type of ghost doesn’t attack people
  • Eloenn sends her raven around with a message to meet back up at the Custom’s House.
  • They see Reckonth as a rotting dead raven with white eyes, losing feathers. But he looks normal to Eloenn, and he looks normal once the sun comes up.
  • We all meet up and Eloenn starts to explain things, but Riley says they need to walk and talk. Eloenn gathers up her notes and books and we head out of the city, to the quarry. Daggart shows up, says good, I was gonna tell you to go. He’ll keep guards in the streets to keep the peace.
  • Eloenn can tell us that there used to be a road, but it was dug up. Very weird, it was a lot of work.
  • We continue riding toward the quarry. Where the hills and mountains start getting rocky, there’s fog that doesn’t fade or thin out when the sun rises.
  • Eloenn casts Detect Magic and senses something watching us, something bad.
  • She whispers to people through Reckonth, to let them know.
  • Seems like it’s getting very dark, very fast. Seems like twilight, we’re concerned about horses’ footing.
  • No ghosts yet, Reckonth still looks normal.
  • We decide to lead the horses. They’re quite, but not too tense.
  • Just like the night before, we’d guess the moment the sun sets, we see the glowing light form, starting to the northwest and trailing toward Ashfell. Over our heads.
  • Not long after that, the first silhouette forms on the path behind us and walks past us. Seem like it was there before but we couldn’t see it.
  • We don’t recognize this area at all. We’d be afraid of being lost if we weren’t on a road. We haven’t reached the bridge yet.
  • Reckonth is losing feathers, according to everyone else.
  • Eloenn sends Reckonth out to find the bridge, he’s gone for a long time, but he says the bridge is just ahead.
  • Eloenn casts Detect Magic again. There’s something sideways about anything magic Eloenn looks at. Slight strangeness to herself, definite strangeness to Reckonth.
  • We’re in a heavily forested area. Towering, tall, tops lost in the mist.
  • Eloenn puts a symbol on a tree to make sure we aren’t going in circles. She meant to do a glowing phoenix sigil, but it comes out as a red raven.
  • The horses start getting bothered by the silhouettes.
  • All dressed for the same party. One era’s worth of party.
  • Eloenn studies them closely. While they’re all dressed similarly, don’t all have the same body type. Nobles tend to be thin or heavy, not muscular. Some of these silhouettes are manual laborers, some have had many children, all dress fine, but different underneath the clothes.
  • Not in formation, but not just enough space for them to walk at equal speed and not bumping into each other.
  • The mist is rolling out over the forest, out toward Ashfell.
  • Riley finds, on the side of the road, a wolf the size of a bear. Recently dead, killed by spears. The spears are gone.
  • The dwarves would have told us that there are unnaturally large wolves in the mountains, but no people. No people in the mountains.
  • The horses are very spooked.
  • The ghosts all look human.
  • The fog is exhausting us, we guess it’s about 9 at night.
  • We know the trees thin out before the bridge, and it’s only getting thicker. Eloenn sees no bridge through Reckonth.
  • It’s early fall.
  • We find a little clearing to make camp. Eloenn sets up an alarm around camp.
  • Ethan snuggles up to Odd.
  • Xan and Eloenn keep watch.
  • In the night, we hear distant wolves howling. As Eloenn is studying, she realizes that she can easily read by the glow of the light in the sky. But it’s very very quiet. An uncomfortably quiet, like the wind is holding in a scream. Painfully quiet.
  • In the morning, the trees don’t look the same. When the sun came up, the trees are in a different formation, not as packed. Still mist. Sun is muted. But it doesn’t feel as crowded.
  • Above the treeline, it looks different, but Eloenn can’t put her finger on how.
  • Riley hasn’t experienced anything like this in the Greenwall.
  • Detect Thoughts during the night revealed no one around.
  • We continue on. Riley attempts to remain optimistic.
  • It’s still pretty quiet.
  • Enid sees something buried in the leaves, to the side of the path. It’s a child’s toy. An old gross teddy bear. It’s not magical. Enid doesn’t want it, so Eloenn takes it.
  • She examines it closer. It’s extremely old, 20-40 years, but Eloenn can’t believe it has been out here the whole time, it would’ve rotted away.
  • Some of the party members are reluctant to take the bear, but Eloenn wants to keep it, thinking it’ll be useful. As per Xan’s suggestion, she puts the bear in a handkerchief sling and hangs it from her saddle.
  • Sometime later, Ethan spots something person-shaped. It’s a scarecrow, hanging from a pole like it would be in a field, but it’s in a forest.
  • It’s pretty far from the road, 100 feet. Eloenn looks closer with Reckonth.
  • Definitely creepy. It has stuffed hands. Rusty knives in place of the fingers.
  • Where the farmer gloves meet the jacket, it isn’t stuffed with hay, but black feathers. Eloenn calls Reckonth back.
  • Doesn’t look as old as the bear.
  • Xan launches a fire bolt at it. It bursts immediately into flame. It turns its face to look at us. It falls off the pole, in a heap on the ground. It reaches out and grabs the pole and gets to its feet. Starts lurching toward us.
  • Reckonth flies over, hails it.
  • Its head falls off, a swarm of crows fly out of it, dispersing into the sky. It collapses into a heap of burning cloth.
  • Eloenn took her eye off the bear and it has disappeared.
  • Eloenn puts the fire out, it was probably going to go out on its own anyway.
  • After a bit of travel, we realize we got turned around on the path. We see the campground we woke up in. There’s still a sleeping roll there, and there’s someone in it.
  • Reckonth sees brown hair but not much else.
  • Xan stealths over and taps on their head. They don’t react. They pull the roll down, and it’s a corpse.
  • Ethan feels very strongly that this corpse looks exactly like him.
  • Everyone else doesn’t think it looks anything like Ethan.
  • To everyone but Ethan, it looks like an ancient dried out corpse, mummified. To Ethan it looks like someone who died yesterday.
  • He thinks it’s his twin brother.
  • Riley gets Ethan away from the body.
  • When Odd looks down back toward Ashfell, he sees the teddy bear. It’s facing us, but just sitting there.
  • Eloenn doesn’t want the bear any more, Xan sneaks the bear into their cape. Ethan is very unsettled.
  • Knowing that this can happen, we’re laser-focused, and Riley helps keep us on track. We make good time back to the scarecrow remains and continue on our way.
  • Time passes and the trees start thinning out.
  • There are a large number of crows and other large black birds watching from the tree tops, lining the path, not making any noise, just watching.
  • Riley keeps us moving at a brisk pace.
  • Odd glances behind us. The teddy bear is behind us again, sitting in the middle of the path, in the fog, even though Xan was sure they had the bear in-hand.
  • Our horses are stopped, but Riley can swear they hear hooves. Eloenn hears hoofbeats coming from the path ahead. She’s also the first to see a figure in the fog riding down the path toward us.
  • Riley gets out her bow.
  • Eloenn sends Reckonth forward.
  • The horse is dead and the rider is basically skeleton. Had armor, but rust is flaking off. Looks like it should fall apart.
  • Eloenn does Detect Magic, it’s intensely magical. Nothing indicating it is being maintained, the air is sustaining it.
  • Riley shoots an arrow into its eye socket. The skull snaps back and lolls, but it continues riding past.
  • The horse and its rider disappear back into the mist. Rides past the bear.
  • We continue on, losing track of the bear.
  • We see the first rise of the stone bridge and we hear water. A distant waterfall.
  • Through the mist, on the bridge, Eloenn sees a very large, well-built, black carriage, with two horses attached to it. The horses are alive. The biggest she’s seen.
  • The carriage is stopped in the roadway. A few yards onto the bridge. The horses are tossing their heads and growling.
  • As we approach, one of the side doors opens.
  • The horse eyes aren’t on fire. The carriage is nothing that would be found in Ashfell. It’s so big, even eight regular horses couldn’t move it. These two horses are huge enough to move it. No driver, but there is a seat for driver.
  • The door opens on its own and nothing comes out. Reckonth sees nothing inside. It looks empty.
  • Mid to late afternoon.
  • Riley cautiously approaches. The inside is very nice, very fine. Plush seats. Room for all of us to fit inside.
  • Detect Magic. The horses have traces of magic about them, but they themselves are not magical. Enlarge was not cast on them. The carriage is not magical.
  • Riley starts to unhitch one, and it stomps on the stone bridge. It has red eyes.
  • If we shut the door with no one inside, it latches, then unlatches, and swings open again. Same happens with Reckonth inside.
  • Bridge is about an hour away from the quarry.
  • As far as we know, after the bridge, the road goes straight to the quarry.
  • We don’t want to leave our horses behind, so we ride past. The big horses watch us but don’t move.
  • We cross the bridge without incident. The mist is thinner, the sun is breaking through better. Trees continue to thin. Landscape is rocky. It feels like things are looking up.
  • We travel for about 45 minutes, then Odd hears a jumble of noise from behind us. We get out of the way just in time, the carriage runs full speed by. They blow right off the road, on a path that we didn’t notice at first. The carriage is heading down a rocky path away from us.
  • Eloenn marks the path with a glowing raven (unintentional, again).
  • We move on and we overlook the quarry. They aren’t very many dwarves, but they are there. They won’t come out of their tents. They threaten us until they know who we are, then they let us in.
  • They describe ridiculous freaky shit and they want us to fix it. About the same time as the freaky shit in the city, same kind of stuff as in the forest.
  • Have heard people weeping in the dark, creatures trying to attack them, ghosts, noises they can’t explain or describe, coming from farther north.
  • Most people went into the quarry to get away from all this nonsense.
  • Riley reassures them that it shouldn’t last more than one night. And we’re going to investigate.
  • We leave the horses with the dwarves and follow where the carriage went.
  • As we’re following the carriage tracks, we can see there used to be a road there, but it definitely isn’t there now.
  • The sun is setting when we reach the end. We see the tracks have continued over a slope, as we round the slope, we catch sight of a striking and amazing castle. We’ve see the parapets from Ashfell on a clear day, but now we see it’s huge, sprawling over the base of the cliff and up it. Can’t imagine how anyone could’ve built it. It’s hanging off the side of the mountain. Right on a cliff face.
  • Ahead of us, there’s a chasm. Across from it is an upright drawbridge. The tracks from the carriage went right off the side. The drawbridge was not lowered. We get the sense that it wouldn’t been bad for us if we’d been inside. Looking over the side, we just see water way below, it’s dark though.
  • The gap is very wide, 300-400 feet across.
  • The construction is like what’s underneath the Greenwall, but bigger and better, better preserved.
  • The mist is rising up along the mountain. Riley sees a “way” that slopes down, sees torchlight.
  • Reckonth just sees a light in the fog, drifting down the path, theoretically carried by someone we can’t see. Path runs downward and along the chasm.
  • Ethan can’t see in the dark. Odd picks him up. Ethan says he just needs his hand held. Odd blushes and puts him down, takes his hand.
  • The path leads us around a curve that makes us lose sight of the castle. At the base, the light moves across a rope bridge.
  • It’s still well above the water, looks super old and rickety. Doesn’t give out under the pressure of mage hand.
  • Enid runs across the bridge no problem.
  • Eloenn is slower, holding onto the sides because it’s swaying. She makes it across. She uses magic to clean her hands.
  • Xan goes next. She slips halfway across, but she catches herself and gets across.
  • Odd and Ethan go. They get two-thirds across when one of the boards breaks under Odd’s foot. Ethan grabs him, barely saving him from falling down into Savior’s lake. They make it the rest of the way.
  • Riley goes last, she’s slipping and sliding, but she manages to make it too.
  • We find ourselves on a strange platform. There are ancient gargoyles, wind and rain has striped off the features. Looks like the wall has a faded face. Featureless skulls pushing out from the rock.
  • In the side of the cliff, two sputtering torches to either side of a doorway. Down the tunnel, we see the torch we were following disappearing. The two torches don’t seem magical.
  • We head down the dark tunnel. Shorter than we thought, it dips down. When we start ascending again, we see that the light we’ve been following is in the doorway at the top, just a floating ball of light, no person attached. It disappears as soon as we look at it.
  • As we get to where the light was, we see that the tunnel lets out to the side of the drawbridge. There’s a garden built into the side. The whisp comes back, casts light on a gathering place. A theater almost, but we realize it’s a gallows. Seats are gathered around it in a semi-circle. Eight ropes are set up. The whisp is floating in the center, above the stage.
  • The seats are three sets of stands.
  • As we enter, the whisp drifts toward the wall, part has collapsed and we can get into the walkway and the drawbridge.
  • We have to pass the gallows. As we approach the collapsed part of the wall, the breeze kicks up, and Eloenn hears a strange strained sound of a rope being pulled behind her. She looks through Reckonth and sees an elf body hanging from the rope nearest us. She turns around and sees nothing. She taps Riley, who also sees nothing.
  • Enid feels something wrong. Every time she looks at Reckonth, he’s looking away, but she feels like he was just looking at her. Reckonth looks dead again.
  • Riley hears music on the other side of the wall, faint.
  • Reckonth doesn’t feel weird to Eloenn. Xan touches him and sees old skin and feathers come off of him. Eloenn sees a larger number of feathers than normal come off, but there are more feathers underneath. Xan sees dead rotting skin.
  • Detect Magic – the mist is magic, everywhere around us.
  • We go to investigate the music. We enter a broad walkway that goes from the drawbridge to the courtyard before you’d enter the castle proper. The doors going in are so old, they’ve collapsed in different directions so there’s a gap.
  • Walking along are these shadowy figures, walking through the collapsed doors. The familiar blue-green light is shining out from within.
  • If we look up, the snake is reaching out toward Ashfell. But above the castle, the snake spirals down into the castle. The cloud make it impossible to see where the spiral is ending.
    There are no carriage tracks.
  • The music is coming from the courtyard beyond the doors. None of us have heard it before. Piano-like. String instrument on keys, multiple of this instrument are playing.
  • We slide inside, have to pop the silhouettes to get in. There’s a large round courtyard. In the center, there used to be a fountain, but it’s collapsed. Half is kinda still there, leaning into a hole in the ground. The shadows are dancing, paired off around the outside, moving inward as they go, one by one topple into the hole.
  • If we look up, storm clouds made of glowing blue ghosts, writhing and thrashing and providing light for the courtyard.
  • Eloenn casually insults everyone in the party.

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tauvyk hazelfern

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