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Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [03]

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [03] published on

Desmond found himself as distracted as before despite the outing. As he tried to concentrate on the book before him, Gunther categorized new acquisitions, ignoring him. Desmond stared at the page, the words turning into meaningless scribble. He rested his head on his hand.

Transformation Spell – beginner stage it read.

Beginner. Desmond felt betrayed by the word. Scanning the page, he let out a hushed sigh. How can I still be a beginner with all the studying I do? He tried to keep his frustration hidden. I should be accomplishing more.

His eyes caught the tome’s thicker half, the sight making his brow furrow with unconscious effort. The words of his mentor began to repeat in his mind, words that offered no comfort however true they were.

Some magic is buried so deep within a person it takes much more time and work to make it manifest. And when it does, it always proves to be much more powerful.

Desmond sighed, wishing he had more faith in himself.

He scanned the page again, finding it difficult to continue translating the script. Turning towards the window his vision glazed over, locking on nothingness. A sharp sting on the back of his neck woke him from his blankness. His teacher was not as occupied as he thought.

“Ouch!” Desmond hissed.

“How dare you sleep when you should be studying!” the elder wizard shouted, irritated.

“I was not sleeping,” Desmond snapped back with guilt in his voice as he tried to rub the burning pain away.

“You weren’t studying regardless.”

Gunther returned the switch to the shelf. Striding over he pointed to the page in front of Desmond, his wrinkled hand letting out a loud tap as his fingers hit the paper.

“I refuse to believe that the knowledge you need will come from that window rather than here. That girl across the river can do nothing for you except be an easy distraction.”

Desmond felt his face heat up as he tried to hide behind a fallen lock of brown hair. The stern voice never failed to embarrass him.

“I wasn’t thinking about Hannah,” he protested, realizing his teacher could see right through the veiled fib.

“Oh, Hannah is it?” Gunther let out a teasing smile, crossing his arms across his chest. “At least you’ve been studying love spells with great intensity.”

The blood rushed through the apprentice’s ears with growing intensity.

“What can you tell me about unicorns?” Feeling his face glowing, Desmond hoped the question would change the subject.

Gunther lowered his arms as surprised concern crossed his face. “Unicorns? Why are you asking about those infernal beasts?” He looked at Desmond with narrow eyes, his thick white eyebrows meeting.

Taken aback by the serious reaction, Desmond regretted asking. “Oh, just curious,” he answered, trying to change the subject yet again.

Gunther would not accept it. “No. You are asking because you have a reason, not because you are curious.”

“Well, I thought I saw a unicorn this afternoon. I must have been mistaken.” He faked trying to get back to his reading.

“How can you be mistaken? Either you saw one or you didn’t.”

Desmond looked up, not understanding his teacher’s uneasiness. “Okay, I wasn’t mistaken. I did see a unicorn, a black one. It was walking by the river. I thought it was strange because I’ve never seen one before. I mean, I’ve heard of unicorns but I’ve never…”

Gunther interrupted. “What was it doing?”

“Uh, just walking, I guess.” Desmond shrugged. “It didn’t seem to be doing anything. It looked back at me then it disappeared.”

Gunther grew silent, uncharacteristic for the wizard with always something to add. Desmond gave the book a nervous tap debating whether he should ask about the strange electric feelings the unicorn caused him to have. “What’s the big deal? I thought that they were supposed to bring good luck.”

The comment was greeted with a wet snort. “Unicorns bring luck like stepping in horse manure brings luck. People who say it’s lucky are those who’ve stepped in it.” Gunther gave a sarcastic laugh.

“Most don’t appreciate that unicorns are just glorified horses. The fact they are in league with elves doesn’t help either.” His tone grew dark. “What you witnessed is a bad omen. You’re best to avoid it at all costs. They’re not picky as to who they lure away.” The teacher slapped the book with a flat open hand. “Now, get back to learning that spell like you’re supposed to.”

Desmond was confused. “Unicorns sinister? Bad omens? That goes against every story I’ve heard.” He shifted in his chair watching his mentor turn his back on him. “I think it’s people who are bad for unicorns, not the other way around. Men were always looking for ways to get their hands on their magical horns.”

The sight of Gunther resuming his categorizing answered his comments. There was no more discussion.

Desmond sank into the chair. Hannah not seeing the unicorn played in his memory. He made a mental note to ask her about it the next time he saw her. Thanks to work however that would not be for a couple of days.

The sky slipped from orange-blue to slate black, twinkling stars appearing against the darkness. With night at last settled, Desmond glanced at the transformation spell. He didn’t have much time before the candlelight became too bothersome to read by. Tomorrow he would spend most of his time collecting vegetables from the garden and preparing them for storage.

I should have asked the unicorn to share some of its magic. When will I have magic of my own?

A quiet sigh escaped him, disappointed as he closed the oversized book for the night. What did the old sorcerer see in him that he himself missed?

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [02]

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [02] published on

Desmond found it difficult to concentrate on the old, mystical tome. The frail, yellowed pages threatened to crumble at his every touch. The faded writing blurred as he struggled to translate the dialect making him realize collecting mushrooms wasn’t as much of a chore as first thought. At least he was outside.

Time and again he looked out of the narrow, arched window past the neat overflowing garden. The clear, sunny day invited his attention with welcoming blue skies and wispy clouds. It was a much better alternative to being locked in a dark house studying ancient spells.

A sorcerer’s apprentice was a mundane existence at best despite the prestigious reputation guaranteed from success at his studies. If he wasn’t practicing simplistic impractical spells, his responsibilities included doing various errands around the house. From cleaning the cluttered cabin to tending the garden, Desmond’s days could not be called unique. Today his restlessness was beginning to get the better of him.

The chair creaked as he scraped it away from the angled table displaying the tattered book. With a loud yawn he stretched, his aching body fighting every move. Eyeing the thicker later half of the book, Desmond yearned to be allowed to try more advanced incantations, longing to feel more like a student than a caretaker.

Rubbing his eyes he made his way to the front door, adjusting to the changing light as it opened. A refreshing breeze met him, making the sole choice stepping outside. He stared at the untamed front yard, relieved that Gunther had never asked him to clear it save for a narrow worn pathway. He sat on the topmost cobble step and lounged backward basking in the afternoon sun.

Gunther had gone into town and wouldn’t be back until dusk, giving Desmond a rare several hours by himself. It was not to do what he pleased though. The old sorcerer expected his young charge to always study in hopes of honing the magical talent that insisted on remaining dormant within him. It was that fact that bothered Desmond the most when he would meet up with friends who went off with other teachers. They would be mastering advanced magic while he was still struggling with carnival tricks.

Desmond felt his mind drifting. As he began to doze off, he snapped up, remembering.

“I wonder if she came back yet,” he spoke to empty air, standing up to head back into the house. Ignoring the books that demanded his attention, he strolled through towards the garden, continuing into the forest that was such a bane a few hours before.

Desmond was a carpenter’s son and it was always believed he too would grow up to be a carpenter. He studied under his father the tools of the trade but something within him stirred for a different path. Desmond didn’t remember when the interest started. Even though he had not manifested any magical talent, he knew deep down he wanted to be a sorcerer.

His parents didn’t understand the unusual request their son was making. Talented children started very young and were sent off to appropriate schools soon after, but a carpenter’s son? Desmond was determined. He practiced carpentry and continued helping around the farm as he was supposed to, but every moment of spare time was used studying magic. Magic did whatever it wanted and appeared on its own time and Desmond was sure that with enough application, his own would come soon enough.

The first time he was sure he was on the right track was when he met Gunther, a freelance wizard teaching at a nearby school to supplement his own studies. He at once took interest in the boy. They spent most of the day talking and Gunther asked if he would be interested in apprenticing with him.

Desmond could not have been more excited. Here was the proof that he wasn’t just going through a phase. A real sorcerer had pointed out that there was indeed latent magic in him. For some reason it was not presenting itself as it did with more adept students. Soon after Desmond’s parents were convinced to allow him to train their son.

It had been two years. With Gunther’s guidance his magic began to flow, slow and weak but better than nothing. Living as an apprentice however was not what he envisioned. Everything was hard – the studying, the work, the chores, everything. His teacher had warned him that it would be from the very beginning of his training. Desmond was resolved to see this through although it was days like today that made him wonder whether he did make the right choice.

Desmond walked through the dense vegetation this time not begrudging his needing to be there. Gunther had sent him on so many treks for his various needs, he became familiar with the surroundings, unlike in the beginning when getting lost was a common annoyance. He was now even able to walk through the forest in the pitch of night and still find his way. Maybe his magic was of a more practical nature rather than what he hoped.

An unusual rustling caught his attention. Desmond kept a careful ear out. “It can’t be wolves, it’s daylight. It has to be wind blowing through the trees.”

The rustling began again this time accompanied by an even more familiar feeling. Goose bumps waved all over his body. The electric tingling from that morning returned. Desmond picked up his pace, attempting to see if he could get a glimpse of what he was sharing his walk with. Something had to be causing the inexplicable sensation. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to find out though.

Nothing else was out of the ordinary. No birds were taking to flight screaming a warning call or small animals scurrying away from a particular area. The forest was as normal and calm as he was used to it being.

The sound came again.

“Wind. It’s wind.” Desmond repeated the words trying to regain the conviction of his first realization. Just as it had started, the feeling stopped. Speeding to a trot, Desmond reached his desired destination as the trees faded into a clearing.

A brook lay ahead of him, clear water running over shiny smooth stones. The sight made him forget the strange incident.

“Too bad it’s not hot enough,” he said, taking in the sight before him. “That water looks good enough to jump in. Guess I’ll settle with getting my feet wet.”

Taking off his boots and rolling his pants, Desmond positioned himself on a sturdy rock. He kicked both legs, splashing the refreshing water, looking over at the home across the river from him.

Stacked stones made the walls of the quaint cottage, its roof topped with a thick layer of thatch. A grassy clearing surrounded it, an incomplete wall separating the house from the rest of the imposing forest.

There was no one around as he could see, but it was obvious that chores were being worked on. A large basket of wet laundry sat next to two poles holding a line taut. Sheets billowed stiff with water, the wire sagging where they hung, but the poles remained firm.

Desmond kicked at the water again, catching a glance of a large figure from corner of his eye. An animal was walking opposite his direction, a slight turn revealing an ebony horse following the edge of the riverbank.

Remembering the rustling, he felt a feeling of foolishness over finding out he had gotten nervous over escaped livestock. Desmond stood and placed his wet feet back into his leather boots while watching the animal. If someone had lost a horse it would be best to catch and return it. Maybe he could even get a reward for his trouble.

He stood still as he decided on a course of action. The horse didn’t look like it was in a rush although there wasn’t a bridle for him to grab onto. With any luck it would be tame enough for him to lead back home.

Desmond followed the horse’s slow pace, beginning to realize the way the creature acted. It walked as if it were half its size and weight, not the typical plodding.. Its coat also remained a rich deep black instead of shining brown in the sunlight. It didn’t even make a sound while Desmond could hear his own footsteps crush grass and snap twigs underneath him. He studied the black figure as it continued along the river edge, its swishing tail catching his focus.

“It can’t be.” Desmond gave the surrounding area nervous glances. “Slim, lion-like tail. No horse has a tail like that.” Not believing what it signified, Desmond stepped back. “Turn around,” he whispered, clenching his fists. “You can’t be what I think you are. Turn around and show me.”

Obliging him, the creature arched its deer-like neck, revealing a fine, Arabian profile. And growing from the center of its forehead was a single spiral horn.

The tingling started, this time with such intensity that Desmond was knocked back, his eyes blinded with white stars. Like a flame an uncontrollable urge to follow rose in his chest. Fighting the impulse Desmond staggered, struggling to regain his sight. The feeling dissipated along with the tingling. The battle was won for now.

The animal pawed a cloven hoof, tearing at the grass. The movement betrayed a hint of frustration.

“Desmond? Is that you?” s

The words coming from across the river broke the spell. Startled, Desmond turned behind him, seeing a young woman waving from the bank. He spun back expecting the unicorn to be there. It had retreated into the woods not making a sound as it had appeared.

“Did you see that?” Desmond pointed to the place where the unicorn used to be.

“See what?”

“The unicorn, it was right here.” His voice trailed as he searched around.

“A what?” She either not know or didn’t hear what he was talking about.

Shaking his head, he walked back to where he had been sitting. “Maybe I was just seeing things but I know I wasn’t,” he muttered. The girl’s lack of reaction made him question his senses. “It was too real to be a figment of my imagination.”

“So aren’t you supposed to be studying? I thought old Gunther didn’t let you out of the house this far.”

Her voice brightened his face. “It feels that way,” Desmond answered, dismissing the unicorn. “He went into town and I decided I needed a much deserved break.” He sat back down and smiled at the girl, unsure if she could see him doing so. Removing his damp shoes he placed his feet back into the cool water, disappointed at not being able to get a reward for returning a lost horse.

“Well, unlike you, I have to get back to my work. A girl gets no breaks around here.” She hoisted up her basket of laundry.

Desmond cupped his hands around his mouth. “I’ll supervise!”

She laughed and waved him off, returning to the clothing. He sighed, splashing the water, trying not to get caught staring.

Hannah was the same age as him, a slender young woman with fire-red hair. She wore a plain dress with the hem tied up showing off her bare feet. Thanks to all the work the sorcerer demanded of his young charge, Desmond had to resort to learning Hannah’s chore schedule and making sure he was at the river every chance he got when she did them. He could see her without being too far from the house to get into trouble when Gunther started calling.

He felt himself blush causing him to wiggle his toes. He leaned back on his elbows looking over to the where the unicorn was standing.

“How could Hannah just miss seeing a unicorn? And if I wasn’t seeing things, what was it doing this close to people anyway?” He was more bothered by the latter question than the former.

Although unicorns are not rare they are also not common. The made their homes as far away from people as they could. There are stories of unicorns coming to the aid of kings and living under their care, but those stories were repeated less than the rumors of unicorns stealing maidens away. Whichever was true, Desmond couldn’t get his mind off of the incident. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes, allowing himself to slip into a welcome nap.

Hannah chuckled as she watched Desmond fall asleep with his feet in the water. “He does that every time,” she said to the blanket, continuing her work. “If he’s not careful, he’ll end up in that river.” A mischievous smile crossed her lips. “I hope I’m there to see it if he does.”

She continued to spy on him from behind the hanging laundry. She remembered first meeting Gunther’s student. They had come to purchase dried herbs from her mother. He was quiet didn’t make eye contact much. When he did though he couldn’t help but let loose a modest smile, one that would get a little wider whenever Hannah would come into the room.

She swayed her head and let out a little laugh as she put up the last of the laundry. Taking one last look at the sleeping apprentice, she picked up the basket and walked back into the house.

Helping her mother with dinner was the next of her chores, one that didn’t need to be done just yet. Hannah decided a quiet stroll would be a good way to pass the time. Glancing over one last time to where Desmond had been sleeping, she was greeted with an empty stone. He was gone.

“Gunther expects him to do so much work.” Hannah wiped her hands on her shirt, disappointed. “But if he is to become a sorcerer he will no doubt do a lot more later than what he’s doing now. I’m glad my life is simpler.” She paused. “Okay, maybe not as exciting but simpler most certain.”

Being barefoot she walked along the soft, grassy edge avoiding the rock bed. She was not looking forward to a careless slip to send her into the water. She chuckled again. “I’m sure Desmond would like to see that,” she said remembering her own similar thought before. The sound of his name made a smile appear. His vision was enough to keep her company if she couldn’t have him actually with her. “I wish he wasn’t working all the time.”

She sighed, not hiding her longing.

Hannah started humming and twirling, dancing to the music in her mind. She spun until dizziness sent her tumbling to the ground. She continued to hum, digging her toes into the grass. As she tilted her head side to side to the melody she imagined, a shadow stretched beside her.

“Desmond?”

Hannah hoped to see his familiar figure walk out and surprise her. She called out his name again. As with the first time no answer followed. Instead, a slight rustling revealed a black silhouette among the trees. Alarmed, all she could think about was her mother’s warnings about going out too far alone. Between natural predators and travelers with less than chivalrous ideals there was no telling what could be lurking around.

Hannah lifted herself, trying not to either frighten or gain the attention of what may be watching her. The shadow jumped to her opposite side. Following, she spun herself around, ready to run at the first sign of anything coming out from its hiding spot. The quick turn dug her heel into the ground, catching her foot. She fell forward onto her hands, panic waving through her.

A gasp escaped as Hannah raised her head as a black unicorn emerged from the brush. Her eyes were fixed on the ebony creature with the deep blue eyes. The ivory horn shone with a faint golden light, the silken black coat rippling like liquid.

The unicorn began to step back where it came, content at the maiden’s notice. Hannah felt confusion overwhelm her. It was always dangerous to confront a wild magical creature but the girl could not allow a unicorn to just pass her by.

“Don’t go! Please don’t go.” She stretched out her arms, her eyes filled with desperate pleading.

The unicorn stopped facing her. Hannah inched closer, feeling a tremendous pull. No matter what happened she needed to touch the unicorn. She needed to prove to herself that this wasn’t a wonderful dream she was about to awake from.

“Please, I’ve never met one of your kind before. I know I’ll never again.”

The unicorn stepped lightly, stretching towards her. Placing his velvet muzzle within her hands he pushed until her head was resting against his cheek.

Hannah trembled with overwhelming emotion. She hugged the unicorn’s neck, breathing in the perfumed smell of its coat. Gathering enough strength, she pulled away, still convincing herself the encounter was real.

“I am Alaric,” the unicorn spoke. Hannah fell back onto her knees. “What is your name?”

“My name is Hannah.”

“Hannah, I make one request from you. Return to this place tomorrow as the sun begins to set. I will be here waiting. Will you do that for me?”

She shivered at the sound of his voice. “Yes, I promise,” Hannah answered without hesitation.

Alaric bowed before her. With a fluid motion he turned from the young woman kneeling in the grass, trotting off.

Hannah sat motionless, staring into the area where the unicorn stood. As the sky began to turn dark orange with the setting sun she snapped out of her daze. Realizing she was late for dinner she jumped up, heading back home.

I can’t tell anyone, she thought as she ran. I made a promise no matter how much I want to tell everyone!

Her encounter with the black unicorn would have to remain a secret for now.

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [01]

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [01] published on

The forest awoke from its slumber glowing with the radiance of first morning light. Crystalline dew clung to fragile leaves as a breeze broke the stillness with its swaying whisper. The ancient woods sat in quiet majesty, shrouded in a translucent mist that brushed the ground with its softness.

The ebony ghost made his way through the hushed grove. Grass parted as each cloven hoof came down, shrubs pulling away as to not mar the silken coat. The mist swirled around his legs, climbing up about him in vain to hide the glimmering ivory horn that rose from his brow like a delicate crown.

The black unicorn continued his slow pace, the soft crunch of greenery contradicting his large powerful frame. Warm rays broke through the canopy above creating a glowing lace pattern beneath him. The mist at last gave way dissolving in the light as timid birdsong began to echo all around. Alaric raised his narrow muzzle feeling the wind brush through his long mane.

Even though the woodland was always his to lay claim if he wanted, Edinrahn was where the unicorn came from. Legend had it that it was home to pools of ancient magic, remnants of the Great War between the First Unicorn and the First Dragon. Whether the legend was true was uncertain. All Alaric knew was that the Valley pulled at his very being making it easy to feel comfort in such a place. As with all things though, a price was to be had for such a sanctuary, that truth reminding him of why he ventured so far.

A clumsy rustling snapped the creature out of his reflection, his graceful head turning. At first Alaric was ready to dismiss the noise as some groggy, blundering animal but the faint voice proved otherwise. His narrow ears perked up, pointing forward, his muscles tensing. The last thing he wanted was to come across a hunter. Unicorns may be immortal but they are not immune to a violent death. Despite the threat that heralded the sound, Alaric took a few steps forward, his base equine curiosity overtaking higher reason.

Alaric stopped, the rustling starting again, the voice louder. “This can’t be a hunter,” the he spoke to himself, taking care not to raise his voice louder than a whisper. “No hunter makes that much noise if he plans to catch anything.”

His sharp ears swiveled as they searched, studying the sounds as he took in a deep breath for clues. As the scent entered his sensitive nostrils, his eyes dilated with intrigue. It was human but not that of a rugged hunter or farmer. It was an optimistic, youthful fragrance still teeming with hope. The unicorn lost his care as he drank in more, filling with a need to discover whom the sweet smell belonged to.

“I can’t believe Gunther has me doing this again,” Desmond grumbled as he pulled away rotting tree trunks to reveal their tiny white cache. “How many mushrooms could that old man need?”

He fell to his knees with a frustrated groan, scooping up the chalky fungus with his hands. Dumping them into a waiting basket, he slapped the dirt off with a loud clap. Sighing, he reached into his blue robes, pulling out a yellowed piece of paper. The list made Desmond wrinkle his nose.

“Mushrooms, herbs, tubers. I already have to do the gardening when I get back. This list is going to keep me searching for things all morning.” He folded the crackling paper, placing it back into his pocket. “Why can’t Gunther just buy these in town instead of having me look for it every other day?” Still fussing, he reached over scooping up the last of the mushrooms, ready but unwilling to go on to the next item on the roster.

The black unicorn came closer, keeping himself hidden. He smiled at the disappointment displayed at morning chores, finding humor at how conflict could be found in the simplest of things. Alaric admired boy’s charm as well as his simple yet striking countenance. As sunlight shone on the long strands of brown hair he brushed from his face with a pale hand, the unicorn understood why the elves of the Valley were so taken by humans.

Desmond continued with his task, collecting the needed items with as much care as he could muster. With every ingredient he fought the urge to head back to the cottage where his studies awaited him along with more work. He didn’t dare try the patience of his teacher. He was frustrated enough with his curriculum without having punishments heaped on top of them. He kneeled again, begrudging the soil being ground into his favorite pants.

As he dug into the soft earth the hair on the back of his neck began to stand. A tingling almost like static ran through him, making him shudder. Desmond stopped, unnerved by the feeling. He held his breath as a large shadow started coming up beside him.

“Desmond!”

Birds took flight at the voice’s petulant sound. Startled, Desmond turned with a quick jerk, almost tipping over the basket. The brush behind him crackled.

“That’s weird.” He paused, looking around. “I could have sworn there was something behind me, something big.” Disturbed, Desmond shuddered again trying to rid himself of the sensation.

“Desmond? Can you hear me or what?” the second voice yelled. The young human looked up with a more exasperated expression than before but this time feeling comfort in knowing he wasn’t alone.

“I need you back at the house! There are other errands and the list can wait.”

“But you just sent me out to get you these things. I’m almost done!”

“Like I said, they can wait!”

Wiping off his clothes, Desmond shook his head. “I wish he would make up his mind.” He picked up the basket, giving his robes one last shake. He rubbed at the soil staining his knees but no amount of slapping made them fade. “Oh, great,” he mumbled. Just one more thing to add to his growing list of annoyances.

His skin tightened turning cold. Goose bumps broke out on every inch of his flesh. The tingling returned just not as intense as before. Desmond spied over his shoulder not seeing or hearing anything suspicious.

The gruff, disembodied voice called, “I’m not going to wait all day!” The growing agitation was becoming more obvious. Not wanting to hear his name screamed one more time but drawn into finding the source of the strange sensation, Desmond made his way back home with deep reluctance.

“Desmond,” Alaric mouthed to himself as he watched the boy disappear. “I’m sure such a modest name will be the first thing the elves will decide to change.”

The unicorn though over what he had just witnessed. “Very curious. Why didn’t the magic do what it was supposed to? Any other would have been enchanted making luring them away simple. I’ve never had the opposite happen before. ”

Alaric paused, sorting his thoughts. “This one did feel something, that I’m sure of, but not enough to be potent. The intrusion of the other didn’t help either.” He faced the direction Desmond disappeared to. “This pretty prey will require a little more effort. The elves will just have to wait.”

Letting out a satisfied snort the ebony ghost nodded as he vanished into the brush and back into the deep woods.

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [COVER]

Egoraven: Legend of the Silk Rose [COVER] published on


BOOK 1: LEGEND OF THE SILK ROSE
Written and Illustrated by Daphne Lage

Desmond the sorcerer’s apprentice is smitten with Hannah, the midwife’s daughter. But when the unicorn king Alaric decides to make the girl his own, will Desmond find the courage not only to fight the powerful suitor but to ultimately tell Hannah of his love for her?

Prose with illustrations
Cover coloring by Jeremy Roberts

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