A Song Of Ice And Fire

Today, we ride.

I have failed this House, this family. By my duties, the many that will never be known save Erik himself, I protect the House of Gasbjorn. The things I do are only meant so that Gasbjorn may survive and in those duties, I have failed. I have brought grave news to my lord before. I still fear how he will react to this. His daughter. He has already lost his wife and a son, to the Black. Erik can at least rest with the knowledge that we killed as many as we could and we ride to kill the rest.

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Back to the North

It is a hard thing to travel slowly when tragedy, and fear loom so close. The Glovers had beem discovered to have taken the sister of Ghordrun Gasbjorn. We sent the Nights watchman along wtih Jonas with his rangers to chase them. We had to travel slower, we had more men and items to be concerned about.

It was regretable to leave the tounament early. I had intended to spend some time with the Martels, and I’m sure that Sigurd regrets not have the chance to compete. We picked up some new members as we left for the north. It would seem that the Citadel has finally gotten around to appointing a Maester to House Gasbjorn, I had served that capacity for such a time that I am saddened by the loss of those duties. We were joined by others seeking to journey North and seeking strength in numbers.

While on the road I had a brief chance to speak with the new Measter. He is very knowledgeable for one so young and has a penchant for numbers, he would do well in stewardship. He did not study the ways of life or medicine so it seems that I shall still have my place has the house healer and its Master of Ravens. I am very delighted by this, as I have grown close to the ravens in my care. I have observed a growing kinship to all animals in myself, even Sigurd’s Mishka is freindly to me wich no doubt confounds Sigurd himself.

We stayed at the Trident to get rest and to charter passage up by boat to expidite our journey. As I tended the horses to prepare them for a sea voyage I saw a familiar face in the distance heading toward the town. It was a weary and sullen faced Jonas, he was leading a cart and praised my familiar face. I was immediatly needed to attend the fallen Night watchmen who turned out to be Arthas Snow. Arthas Snow, the name give pause as he was the bastard accused of murdering the Lady gasbjorn and took the watch to attone for the accused crime. I had never thought he commited the crime, but the ways of the court have there way of removing those unwanted and bastards are always unwanted. His wound was deep and very unclean, a rare poison had been administered to the weapon the bit him. It took much of my skill to keep him from a “walk with The Stranger” as the septens would put it. He will be forever weaker for the ordeal unless he has the willpower to push himself to recover.

We need to find someway to intercept the Glovers before they can make it back to there lands, a full confrontation with them may elicit an unwanted response from the other houses.
There is much planning to do for our return to the North.

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Arthas Snow journal entry (Assassins abound)

Day 516

My hand is weak. An assassin’s poison runs through my veins. It seems to be having a lasting effect upon me. I’m not sure if it was another assassin simply meant for me, or if it runs greater now. I will do my best to watch Jonas’ back from here out. We’ve saved each others’ lives too many times now for me to think of him as anything but a comrade.

We’re coming Aleks. Just hold on….

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A bit of Jonas' History

“We are losing our grip on the outer lands. How can we call ourselves a House if we can’t even keep order within our own villages? The people have no faith in our ability to protect them.” Lord Gasbjorn’s voice carried the sound of a sage old man. A voice usually reserved for those who spent a life of drinking and smoking yet too stubborn to die. Irony was Erik Gasbjorn was barely more than 40 years of this earth. His voice silenced the room quicker than an executioner. “The Rathal gang is moving closer to us each day. They will likely be on our castle doorstep two days out. We need a solution. NOW!”

The Lord surveyed his counselors sitting at the table. A burly master-at-arms nearly his own age, he appeared more skilled at killing veal quicker than men. Master Kain had served the family during the rebellion, but grew weak and bloated over time. Prosperity had made him unfit for a soldiers life.

Erik’s son, Ghordrun sat beside him. Not yet ready for his naming, but the time would soon come and Erik had learned any heir in this House best be ready for his ascension any given day. Ghordrun had always favored a desire for combat and had bested some of the very men at the table. He was learning the ways of the court as well. Erik had made sure of that. Not the most cautious of diplomats, Ghordrun’s temperament had a way of setting the opposition on the defensive, an advantage Erik had used many times.

No one spoke. Erik’s look of disappointment insulted his men more than any words could. “Elgar, I want you to take a few of your men out and find their encampment. Scout it out completely. Get me numbers and a count of their arms. I want to know what we will be up against. Least we can do is walk into battle knowing our enemy for once.”

Elgar, also a man from the rebellion, had a knack for using only a few of his rangers to turn the tide of an entire battle. He was a master at war, but fearful to speak his mind before his lord. “Yes, my lord. I shall have reports by the morning.” Elgar looked around the table. “I will send a messenger at the first opportunity.” The master of ravens had been absent from the table for some time. He grew sick with no recovery in sight. Erik felt it would be reprehensible to replace him while still alive.

“Good, Elgar. I would suggest men that you do not value. The Rathal have proven themselves excellent hunters. You would not want one of your best men falling to them before the real battle.”

“Yes, my lord.” Elgar turned to leave. He always hated how Erik treated his soldiers as second class. “Real” battle was a common term used to distinguish Erik’s favored method of battle from Elgars. He rattled his brain on the soldiers he would use for the task. He needed skill, but the skilled men were the ones he would need in two days time to defend the castle. He entered the barracks. His men stayed in their hammocks, but gave Elgar their attention.

“Listen up men! I need a few of you to go with me. We must scout the Rathal camp. We have to get numbers of men, weapons, and hopefully, weaknesses.” The sound of a collective sigh filled the room. “I don’t want to hear it you ungrateful maggots! You do nothing but sit around all day asking for a fight.”

“Sir, this isn’t a fight. This is scout work,” spoke one of the rangers mid-spoonful.

“And until you prove yourselves in battle, this will be all the work you get. Kal, Medwin, you’ll be coming with me.” The two men were barely out of training. In fact, Kal had just finished qualifying with his bow only a few days ago. This would be a test for the new men. Sadly, it could be a test that would end in their deaths if not managed properly. Best to not let them know it. Neither had a family to speak of. Medwin’s closest relative was a dying grandfather nearly a months travel away. He’d likely never hear of his grandson’s death before his own. _Better that way. _

“Jonas! You too. It’s time we saw how well you can hide out there. Be ready in less than an hour. We need to find the camp by the morning.” Choosing Jonas was easy. The boy, barely out of his twenties had been caught for thievery. It was a loaf of bread. Lord Gasbjorn was intent on punishing Jonas publicly by cutting off his fingers. After Jonas had been convicted, he made an offer for his hands. In exchange for his digits, the boy would return all the goods he had stolen. At first this seemed like a worthless trade to Erik, but Ghordrun was interested and so his father indulged the boy.

Jonas’ residence proved to be worth more than most of the villages under Gasbjorn rule. Relics and artifacts only Erik himself could identify were among the treasures Jonas had stored. He stole not for the value, but for the thrill. His skill was obvious. Erik needed no further evidence. After having the relics returned to their proper chambers in the castle, Erik gave him a deal. Jonas Reeve would serve house Gasbjorn as a Ranger willing to serve any call of his lord or commander. In exchange for his service, Jonas would keep his hands intact and use his skills for the House. Elgar knew Erik’s thinking. Jonas likely wouldn’t last but a few days in the dangerous bandit ridden hills. Erik got all his property back and would soon be disposed of this wretched little thief.

Elgar could see the makings of a trail that led from the main road. “See this, men. They parted the road here. Likely meaning to make camp not but half a mile off the road. Close enough to hear any travel, but far enough to hide from regular traffic. We must be quiet from here on.” He motioned for Kal and Medwin to take the left of the path and Jonas to stay with him on the right.

Ten minutes later they were near the camp. It rested in a small valley. A few subtle fires were visible, dying out. They regrouped on a hill nearby with perfect view into the camp. “You two will go around the south side. All I need you to do is verify my count. I see seventeen tents from here. One belonging to the commander himself. We’re looking at roughly one-hundred fifty men, if we’re lucky. Try to get close enough to determine their arms. That will matter far more than how many of them there are. Be back here by sunlight. We need to be leaving by then. Now go!” The slightest hint of daylight was already visible on the horizon. It wouldn’t take long before there was enough light to see.

“Jonas, you and I get to check the north side of the camp. We need to see if there are any captives or perhaps they’ve kept some of their loot.” Jonas nodded and began to head off ahead of Elgar.

He came to a good resting spot. He could see the tents in question, but nothing inside them was visible. He turned to speak, “Elgar, I think…” before words could escape him, he saw the tip of an arrow escape from Elgar’s left eye. The responsible bowman was nearly a hundred yards off and barely visible behind the dead officer. With no weapon at the ready, Jonas ducked into the foliage. Lying on the ground he tried to string his bow. His heart beat like never before. He had come close to getting caught and punished for stealing before, but his silver tongue had saved him. Somehow, Jonas didn’t think he would have a chance to talk to this man. The bow snapped straight without a string and flipped a few feet further into the woods. That sound was quickly followed with an arrow piercing the tree just an arm’s length away from his face. It was the sound he fired at, not you. Jonas told himself. He flipped on his belly and crawled through the brush. He had no bow and only a small blade to fight with now. His options were limited. His only hope would be to catch this man off-guard. _He just killed the best Ranger here, should be too hard, right? _

The hunter’s footsteps came close. Jonas knew the distance from the sound. He couldn’t move any more._ Too close. He would hear me. _His small blade rested backwards in his hand. His heart beat so strong he thought the sound might give him away. He could see nothing as he faced the plants. The footsteps were getting closer. There’s no way he can’t see me. He realized he was holding his breath. Probably the only reason he hadn’t been seen. Then, he felt it, so close. The hunter’s right foot rested only inches from the shoulder of his prey. Just as his foot lifted, Jonas flipped to his back and drove the blade into the brigand’s calf muscle, tearing it from the bone.

The archer screamed in pain. His first reaction brought the bow down in an attempt to shoot the ground beneath him. Jonas rolled around his left keeping the blade in his hand and ripping the muscle until the blade exited its human sheath. It took no effort for Jonas to knock him to the ground in the same move. Face first in the dirt, the Rathal hunter searched for his blade and tried to gain ground with one good leg. Jonas’ blade took no time finding a new home. Avoiding any more screams, he jabbed right into the throat. All life deserted the man. Jonas had never killed a man. He thought many times how he could do it so easily while sneaking around a victim’s house. Never had he actually taken a life until now. It happened so fast.

Jonas looked up. His first instinct was to retrieve his bow. He looked for the arrow marking the tree above its resting place. Just before he began to head towards it, he saw two silhouettes in the woods. The other watchmen were likely responding to the screams of their companion. He wouldn’t be able to reach the bow now. HIS bow. Jonas looked down. His heart sank. The bow had broken in their struggle. He had only the two blades for weapons now. Taking a quick survey of the land and his situation, he had to head towards the camp if he was going to have any chance of escaping the watchmen.

The light was starting to break. He didn’t have much time before he would be seen by anyone awake. Keeping a low profile he came upon the outer edges of the camp. Just then he heard the sounds of more men screaming. The far side of the camp was alive with activity. Kal and Medwin had been discovered. It wouldn’t be long before they were dead. The whole camp seemed to be headed in their direction. Jonas ducked into the first tent he saw. Not knowing what to expect, he came to his feet as quickly as possible brandishing both blades. Nothing. A few cots were empty and several chests and barrels filled the room. A quick survey and a few picked locks proved it was one of their treasure hordes. A few casks of rum filled the remainder of the tent.
He dare not touch the tent flaps until he could assess the situation. The small slit he could see through showed no men outside. As he pulled the flap back, a large battle-scarred man stepped out of a neighboring tent facing the southern side of the camp. He was surveying the scene. His back was covered in tattoos. The Rathal marked their leaders permanently with tattoos. If they were ever to commit an offense worthy of demotion in a normal army, it would be worthy of death to a Rathal. He must be the chief. Jonas rolled out the back of his tent and scurried over to the chief’s tent. Rolling under the backside of the thick leather tent, he saw the back of the man. He stretched, reaching for the sky as most did just after waking. Two women lay on his bed. One was terrified, stifling her tears. Jonas could not tell if the other was even still alive. “Do as I say and you may yet live.”

A scream belted out from the tent. The ragged woman cursed the chieftain’s name and grasped at her bindings. The bewildered man walked into the tent. “What the f-,” Jonas’ blades cut each tendon just above the heel. The embattled veteran was now helpless as he fell to the ground. Jonas sprung on his back with the two blades just above the skin. One blade rested on each shoulder in between the third and fourth ribs. One for the heart, another for the lungs.

“It’s a shame I won’t have the time to punish you properly for what you have done to the people of these lands. I will make sure that you are properly displayed as a warning.” The chief began to speak, but Jonas had no intent to hear his words. Blood began to spill across the dirt floor. He looked up at the woman. “The men will scatter in a few seconds running from the fire. Scatter any rum or wine you have out in front of this tent. They won’t be able to reach you. Run north, find the road and you will come across the castle. Ask for the protection of Lord Erik. You will be safe.” He pulled his picks from his coat jacket and quickly set the woman free. She quickly found all the remnants of the previous night’s celebrations and went outside to pour them out.
Jonas returned to the first tent. He palmed a few trinkets and took his flint. He uncorked the barrels and stuffed them with torn sheets from the nearby beds. With a small bit of flint, he started a torch. Five barrels rolled out of the tent. Lit and setting fire to anything that would take. It was completely daylight now. He could hear the confusion in the camp.

Exiting the tent, he grabbed the chieftain’s body. He dragged it out as far as he estimated he could without being seen in the woods. Using the chains from the captive woman, he chained the body to a tree. A quick check reassured him there was no point in trying to find his other companions. He was alone.

After three hours, Jonas saw the familiar castle walls. Only then did he emerge from the tree line. The House guard quickly came to his aid. “Are you alright? Where’s Elgar? What happened?”
“Take me to Lord Erik. I would tell him myself.” Erik took audience immediately after hearing of Jonas’ return. Jonas told him the story of Elgar’s death and told him where to find the chiefs body.

“You killed him? You weren’t even to enter the camp! This is why I don’t order my Rangers often. I can’t trust them to follow a damn word I say. But you, Jonas, have served me well. Call the troops. We march to their camp today and end this! They will no doubt be scattered and confused from this. Let us take advantage.” Master Kain called the men to arms, waddling as fast as he could to the courtyard.

“ To arms! To arms!” could be heard slowly fading. “Jonas, I would have you take me to the body.”

“Yes, my Lord.” As he rose, a small trinket fell from his cloak. Lord Erik’s eyes were drawn to it right away.

“I see you took some for yourself.”

“No, my lord, I didn’t mean…”

“No worries. Keep them. You have surely earned them today as long as you left the remainder for your lord.”

“Yes. They should be intact in the camp.”

The encampment was a burned and charred pit of human and leather remains. Rangers encircled it and sought out any stragglers foolish enough to try to claim their own treasures. Only a few of the Rathals remained, most would be picked off by the archers in the woods. Lord Erik had the land left as it was found. He loaded up the hoard to take back to the castle and put the body in proper crucifixion at the camps entrance.

The brigand raids slowed for a long while after this. Jonas Reeve saw quick promotions among and the Rangers as he led his teams to hunt and destroy any Rathal remnants. Slowly, Erik gave his scouts more respect for their methods of battle and Jonas more respect for his results. Only a year later, Jonas was given command of the entire unit. A few of the elder, more experienced Rangers were vocal against his promotion. These Rangers bravely met their end in battle days later. Since then, none have questioned his position or his frequent absence from their ranks at the behest of Lord Gasbjorn.

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Silver and a little Gold go a long way, but doesn't seem to buy good soldiers.

Arthas and myself were catching up. Unfortunately, I can not travel the way I did when I was younger. These years take toll on a mans endurance. Sleep called to willingly and almost lost me my life. We came to rest at a small inn along the road to the Trident. We were only expecting a short stay and a move to the river to catch a boat for greater speed. I conversed with a few knights of the House Roote. They seem to be good men. They are now another House I may be able to rest during future endeavors.

I must have fallen asleep at the table as I awoke to find a disastrous scene. A man I had felt uneasy about in the tavern below was dead on the floor. Many arrows and a sword held him to the floor. Arthas was laying against the bed, barely holding to life. One wound caused him more trouble than it should have. A local healer came to help. He mended Arthas as best he could but suggested I get him to greater care as soon as possible. The rest of the scouts I kept with me had been murdered by the man that almost killed Arthas. I feel like my mens training has suffered in my absence. A severe regimen will be given to them when I return, lest I lose more.

I traveled to the Trident as quick as I could after Arthas had gotten as much rest as could do him well. Nearly as soon as I arrived, I stumbled across Hakim. It was good to see a familiar face, Dhornish or not. His healing hands are a blessing to this House. I made my way to meet with Lord Gasbjorn. He was not pleased with my inability to catch Lord Glover, but other men were still in motion and he seems to have more allies in his employ. Without intent of chase, we are closer to Glover than we have been this entire time.

Sigurd has proven to question my purpose in this family. He is still young and headstrong. The field of battle will come soon enough and perhaps he may prove himself. In fact, I expect it. This family needs a good man to take the mantle of Knight. It should go to a man that has the ego for it.

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More troops don't make you safer

It seems that Terran Glover has gotten a good lead on us. Regardless of my tracking skills, they have made off ahead of me and even with our skills of the hunt, we are still too slow. The folk around the parts we have traveled are very kind, but of very little help. You would think someone would have seen a group of twelve men escorting a young girl. Regardless, when we entered Riverrun, a man gave me a message from the other scouts I had ordered to travel by boat. He is headed to the Trident and he is mustering more troops. Men who can be bought, can be bought again. I am not worried about them. Still he is expanding his numbers. Perhaps he thinks he can stop men like me with more soldiers. Little does he know, soldiers won’t stop me. In fact, the more their are, the easier they are to deceive. He will die. It is only a matter of time.

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Declaration of Intent

I, Arthas Snow, write this in my journal as a declaration of my intent. I will kill Terran of House Glover. He has kidnapped my sister, and shall pay for this with his life. If he has harmed even one hair. If she is remotely smudged, his suffering will be legendary. Demons in Hell will sing songs of it.

(A huge whole is torn though the paper as if the quill used to write this was stabbed into the journal)

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Winter comes early this year.
It seems the day before the start of the tournament was not a good day for house Gasbjorn. Lord Ghordrun was awoken to some terrible news. One of the members of the black, under our care, had been murdered in his sleep. I had my suspect and went to question him while the Lannisters insisted on surrounding our camp until they could figure out if they wanted to stick their noses into our business. Fortunately, Lord Ghordrun was allowed to have control over the situation and after handled, joined us in the mornings hunt. I was able to find the two boar that eventually became our victims. Shortly before dusk, we returned victorious with two boar in hand and immediately began the roast. My lord seemed disturbed, so we rode back to our camp together. I would have preferred to party with house Glover, a privilege left for Sigurd instead. Ghordrun confided several things in me which had been bothering him none would be as disturbing as the discovery of his young sister taken from our tents. Our captain of the Guard, Jacobs, lay on the ground, victim of an obvious poison. Lord Gasbjorn dealt with the incompetent guards as I began tracking the footsteps away from our camp. Arthas and James joined me. The tracks led past the Glover camp and into the eastern woods. Just as we discovered that the culprits had horses waiting for them, we were set upon by brigands. The skills of Arthas were proven again as he downed three men with his arrows. I jumped into the woods to take advantage of the darkness and find our assailants. In short order, I found an archer. He proved better than me in the fight, so I backed off, and did what any reasonable man would do, I threatened him with empty words. I warned him that his life was in danger from a deadly archer in the woods. He didn’t believe me and began to move closer. Snow delivered a perfectly timed and placed arrow to fill my empty words. The brigand was more than willing to comply at this point. h1. As we dragged him back home, we discovered Sigurd in the woods, snoring and in deep sleep. He had been drugged the same as Jacobs. Our captive indicated that one Sir Terran Glover was responsible for the abduction of our young lady and likely the drugging of Sigurd. I expected better of House Glover, recently our guests. We were able to tell our lord what we had found and begin assessing our next moves. I hope Lord Glover is against this plot of Terrans, for Terran will be hunted, found, and executed by my hands for this travesty. His station will not protect him from me. Unfortunately, Sigurd had news as well, House Callus had not been eradicated as we thought. The allies of Vendel’s rebellion had returned. I spent many of my younger years hunting remnants of the bastards rebellion. It seems Winter has come for us a bit early this year. We best prepare for a long winter as our house has done many times before.
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History's Returning

It started with my cousin’s naming day. Many neighboring delegates arrived to share in our family’s joy (as well the should). The hunt went well, their were many boar brought down to feed the mouthes of those accepting our hospitality. One particular incident, however, should have caused concern. Whilst hunting with my dogs, who had of course run to the thickest part of the woods, I found myself on foot facing an enraged boar. Having caught me by surprise I did not move swiftly as it grazed me with it’s charge. It swung around and again faced me, raising my axe to bring down the beast. It charged at me with malice. Without warning it collapsed in front of me with an arrow, black as the moonless night, sticking out of its chest. As I finished off the beast I noticed one of the black, sitting astride his mount. Obviously this is the one who had intervened. Well, at least he did so quickly.
Later, as I would think about that shot, I thought that this member of the black would make for shot for the tournament that was decided should have our precence felt. Upon offering this to the man I learned that I had been beaten by my comrade, who took him for his cousin, exiled many years for the slaying the Lady of the House. He still denys his involvment to this day. I must now go and ponder these things as we begin our journey to the south. Perhaps Uncle would care to know who is joining us at this time, perhaps not…

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Made some new friends....

This evening started off well. Our House held a celebration for their daughters coming of age. Many neighboring houses came to visit. I made many friends from amongst the soldiers of House Glover. We swapped stories of battles and skirmishes and they drank. Lots. A fight broke out at the table for the head of the house. One would think such a thing would happen at the childrens table or from an old grudge amongst soldiers. Instead, it was two knights. Shame the fight was so quick, it wasn’t even long enough to take bets on. Sigurd forced his opponent into submission rather quickly. Shortly after, I was approached by my Lord’s second son. He told us of a tournament which the Lannisters were holding. We were not directly invited, however, we could not allow a tournament to go without seeing the skill of our fine soldiers. Perhaps they will reconsider their lack of invitation when we have taken their gold. Fortunately, I had little to drink, so I was able to head for bed and get ready to take off the next day.

We left the following evening before sunset. I sent some of my best scouts ahead on the road. Our land is full of brigands and thieves trying to make a name for themselves. Even in our own lands we must assume their are enemies nearby. Shortly into the journey, I came across a few of my scouts. Some of my best. Must have been an ambush by some very skilled men. Down the road a carriage seemed to be bustling with activity. I quickly went back to our carriage to alert them that they need to prepare for engagement and I took off. Quickly, riding with me was a man all in black. I had not seen him until now, but I heard he made quite a stir in the hunt for last evenings feast. We approached the scene to find the enemy still in the process of taking prisoners. We immediately started freeing prisoners from a distance. I thought I was an excellent archer. My ally proved to have much more skill than I. One of the thieves ran off with a small child. After clearing most of the enemy, I made a dash for the child. I was able to catch up with him, perhaps too quickly or too late. I guess it would depend on how you interpreted it. As I caught up to the man, I hear him and the child scream. It was followed with a bear deciding to take our thief for a snack. Fortunately, the child was ‘saved’ by being tossed aside. I did my best to take down the bear with a single shot or at least disable him long enough to get the child and run from the bear. Instead, I only angered him. And that cost me a rib. The bear charged into me sending me backwards into the snow floor. With the bear nearly on top of me, I had to act fast. I could see killing the bear on my own would be a feat. I only needed to direct him away from the child and we could come back to save him. I ducked behind a tree, only to be scratched again. As I contemplated my next move, my new archer friend pelted the bear with three arrows bringing him to the ground. We recovered the child and went back to the camp. Perhaps we should go back and get the bear for meat or furs….

So, as I see it, I made three friends in the past couple days. A group of Glover soldiers, an archer from the wall, and a bear. The bear isn’t my friend anymore….

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