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Ungrounded

  • Posted on January 14, 2017 at 6:24 pm

I find sometimes that going back to the days when our autonomy was not our own, but directed by our parents and guardians, can sometimes help out with a mental state. Now, I’m not advocating anything kinky here, I’m talking about being grounded. You see, for the last 27 days, I have been grounded from writing. Yes, you read that correctly. I, a grown woman, allowed myself to be grounded from something I love doing.

However, the reason behind the ‘punishment’ is the important part. You see, I was grounded from writing because I had a very special sort of writer’s block. The kind where you hate everything you write. The kind where you believe it all to be pointless tripe and terrible dribble. The kind where you start to wonder if you’re meant to be a writer in the first place, or if you should just give up and run away to join the circus.

My best friend came up with a solution. “You’re grounded from writing for a month.” She said to me one day after I almost burst into tears for the billionth time over my works-in-progress. Of course, I tried to negotiate. Can I collect prompts? No. Can I blog? No. Can I write down my dreams? No. Damn, that one was hard because most of my story ideas come from dreams I’ve had. I was cut off entirely. No writing, except in a journal.

The first week was a relief. It was like something heavy had been lifted from my throat. I was free, and it was all thanks to my best friend, who had seen that writing had become something awful for me. I had hated everything that came out of my fingers, and she had seen it.

The second week, I started to get antsy. So I asked if I could read books on writing. She said that would be fine. So I downloaded a book called “Writing Magic” by Gail Carson Levine, one of my favorite authors. Listening to it give me prompts for writing ideas, I started to feel an itch in my fingers.

This third week was hell. I wanted to write so badly I was formulating ideas for the stories I have in the works without any thought whatsoever that this was technically cheating. I even wrote down one of my dreams (I broke my word, how awful!) because it makes a good story prompt. I immediately felt guilty, after all, but when I confessed to my bestie, she said she’d honestly forgotten that she’d grounded me.

Today, I asked, begged, pleaded even with her over whether I could be allowed to get back on the writing train. Because I was going insane. Nothing filled my time the way writing did. Nothing made me feel productive and happy the way writing did. I’d found out that without writing, I felt like I was nothing. Before, I’d been writing as a way of ‘beating my mother’. Now, however, I’m writing because if I don’t, I feel useless and listless and just plain droll.

Not to mention, I was starting to run out of things to read.

So if you ever find yourself loathing everything you write with every fibre of your being? Find someone to ground you from writing. It might just show you how much you love it again.

IWSG – 08/03/16 – The First Story

  • Posted on August 3, 2016 at 8:12 pm

We're here for you.When one thinks of the First Story they wrote, it’s usually something embarrassing, something small and childish. Not for this girl. Nope. My first story that I actually sat down with full intention to publish was an epic. A fantasy novel written in an accounting notebook. The sort with perferated columns. I felt so amazing writing that book, too.

It had started out with a dream, as all my best ideas do. This one I was a child in a jail tower, and I wanted out. That was it, that was the dream. So I set out to write the story of this girl child in a tower, and how she got out. Well, obviously, she had to be a witch. Because magic was the only way a little kid would get out of jail. But how had she gotten IN jail in the first place? It came to me, like thunder. She was being punished by the gods for being TOO AWESOME (and also evil). I.E. She’d been an amazing sorceress, fully grown and awful, and had set the world on the path of war. So the gods struck her down and made her a child again, and had the person she was born to be put into prison.

The roommate of the person she was born to was a witch herself, though, so she taught the girl everything she knew. And then, at like, twelve, she broke out of prison, disguised herself, and arrived at the palace, just in time for the three princes to need wives. She set herself up to the be the wife of the youngest prince, planning to kill off the two pairs of royals before her. Oh, and she had an amazing tiger for a pet. Yep.

This story died pretty quickly after the notebook died during one of the stints of homelessness that happened during my teenagerhood. I never even finished it, although I had plans for her to learn to be good and to fall in love. It just never got anywhere, and looking back now, it was a massive power-fantasy. But hey, aren’t the best books?

Now, the first novel I ever FINISHED writing was a LOT weirder. I was going through my weeaboo phase, and I had an inordinate love for characters who were sexually abused. I don’t know why, but I really, REALLY want to write a character that heals from that sort of trauma over the course of a few books, while also being badass and fighting monsters. Okay? Okay.

Anyway, so this particular book was a love story between two boys, and it’s a bit difficult to describe because it was massively anime-esque. I won’t go into it, because I hope to whip it into shape as a real novel someday, but… It’s going to be a long, long time from now. Suffice to say, the finished document no longer exists, destroyed along with the horrid machine it lived on. But it lives on in my mind.

The only thing I can really say about these experiences is: HAVE MULTIPLE SAVE LOCATIONS.

Writing Anime: Land of Gods and Monsters

  • Posted on January 31, 2016 at 10:50 am

Noragami is a sensational series that gives whole new definition to Gods and Demons. Or rather, in this case, Kami and Ayakashi (Phantoms). The series follows Yato, a down-on-his-luck god, who in general seems to have no real power. In fact, he’s honestly a god-for-hire, who will “Grant any wish for just 5 yen!” as he so cheerfully exclaims all over media networks. Seriously, this guy has a TWITTER.

Poor guy only has two followers though.

Along with him are Yukine, a spirit that he has allowed second life to serve him as a Regalia (a system that will be explained later), and Yatori, a human girl whom made a wish, and Yato is having trouble granting it. All in all a beautiful story with great characters and a lovely, multi-faceted protagonist.

So why is it so interesting? Well, because of the fact that the WORLD in which it is built is so very interesting. As normal humans, this world isn’t something WE would be able to see, but none the less, might exist along side us anyway.

Today, we’ll be exploring that world in detail, as well as the various ways we could use these details in our own writing.

In the world of Noragami, there are approximately four types of spirits. Gods known as Kami, Humans from the Near Shore, which are just regular people like you and me, Spirits which can be either human shaped or corrupted into Ayakashi, and Regalia (or Shinki) which are used by gods to cleanse and purify Ayakashi.

Of the various classes, Kami are perhaps the oddly vulnerable powerhouses of the series. One of the major arc-words of the series is “A god can do no wrong.” An article by Martin Wisse explains why this might not be such a good thing. Gods are unchangeable, eternal beings. So much so in fact that when one dies, if they have followers, they are immediately reborn, sans memories and in a childlike form. If they do not have followers… Well.

To that end, Gods are tasked with removing Ayakashi from existence, cleansing them sometimes, or destroying them others. Ayakashi are what happens when a soul stays too long on the Near Side (I.E. Our world) and gets corrupted by negative emotion, fear, doubt, or by other Ayakashi. These spirits turn into giant monstrous beasts that cause misfortune, unrest, and negative emotions in humans. If one were strong enough, it might even cause a human to fall into such deep depression that they could decide to kill themselves, thus feeding the Ayakashi following them.

Before an Ayakashi forms, however, it is most likely a Near Side Soul, or basically, a ghost. These are spirits that linger, and these are the spirits that can be turned into Shinki, or Regalia. Regalia are the most important thing for a god to have, when dealing with Ayakashi. As gods will become corrupted and suffer blight if they touch or get near an Ayakashi for too long, Shinki allow the gods to combat and purify the phantoms. Shinki act as weapons, or sometimes objects, that are intermediaries between the gods and the world around them. In fact, Regalia are so important that THEY themselves choose what their god can strike at.

If a god can get to a Near-Side Soul before it turns into Ayakashi, they can choose to send it on to the next life, or take it on as a Regalia. Shinki, however, are not easy to maintain. They are essentially human, and so each negative emotion they have affects their God. Lying, stealing, cheating, all of it physically HURTS the god they are tied to. In fact, if it goes on long enough and the human doesn’t repent, it can actually cause the god so much illness that the god has to die to be set arights. But again, a god with followers has nothing to fear from being killed, except that they would lose their current selves and start over as a child.

What we, as writers, can take from this is that magic systems are sometimes extremely complex. If your magic system is as complex as this, it MUST impact not just the plot, but the characters entirely! Yato is entirely absorbed in his role as a God. In fact, it’s what DRIVES him as the main character, and what drives him to change. The problem is, as a Kami, Yato CANNOT change on his own. He requires external forces to enact change in him. There comes in Yukine and Hiyori. But it is the Magic System that requires such measures.

To enact this sort of magic system, however, you have to think of it as a sort of ecosystem. If there is one section of the ecosystem, it must serve another, as the Kami serve the humans to get prayers and worship, and the shinki serve the Kami as a way to gain a second life. Generally, however, your story won’t work unless this ecosystem IS the central plot, when tied into the characters. A few tips for implementing it:

  • Have one character from each section of the ecosystem, so as to show how they interact.
  • Make sure that each section has drawbacks as well as gains from the other sections.
  • Clearly delineate how this ecosystem would fall apart if one part were removed.
    • For example, if the Kami are removed, the Ayakashi overrun humanity, and if the Shinki are removed, the Gods would fall to blight.
  • Show how the ecosystem works even when one or more of the pieces is missing. Don’t just leave it to chance, work it into your plot.
  • Make it a part of the characters. Don’t SAY the character is in this part of the ecosystem, SHOW it in their actions.

If you were to adapt this to another culture, say, norse gods, it could still work on the fundamental basis. Change ‘Shinki’ to Valkyries. Change gods to Aesir. Change Ayakashi to Giants, or Aelfs, or any other number of norse nasties. You could easily tell the story of Noragami with Loki instead of Yato. Just be careful, because that could be copyright infringement.

 

First Light

  • Posted on October 17, 2014 at 12:29 am

Memory is a fickle thing, inherently wrong, yet personal in the greatest of ways. All of our memories are biased, based upon information our mind stores and corrupts. Stories we tell ourselves become memories, despite never happening. Things that happened turn out a different way when we think back on them.

Most personal to us all, and most telling of whom we will become, is our very first memory. The first bit of light our mind stores away for us in the world. These memories hide from us, little snippets of time. And then, like magic, a scent, or a sound, the touch of a familiar fabric, or the hum of a certain frequency reminds us, and it comes crashing back like nothing was ever missing at all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The prickly poking of hay. The scent of his mother, soft and creamy like milk just warmed up, and the sound of his father’s quiet voice. Later, Dirk would learn that the conversation was their first discussion about whether they should go back home to Thosfig, back to their tribe. His nose itched, and he rubbed his little fingers against it to make it go away.Noticing how sharp his little fingernails were, he curled them into his palms. Crickets chirped somewhere, and he could hear crackling, like fire. His eyes felt heavy, and he didn’t want to sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pain. Yumil remembered pain first. A too-tight grip of an adult hand around a small wrist. The red of lines cut into child-soft skin by fingernails dyed with pigment from berries.  Yumil remembers looking up at her, her tawny hair shining in the sunlight. She is beautiful, and frightful. She calls him a bad boy,voice hissing. Yumil feels his stomach twist and clench, fear climbing inside. She is angry, and to Yumil it’s as if she has always been angry and will always be angry. He finds anger burning inside himself to match, hot and terrifyingly close to tears.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She can’t remember the words anymore, but Eamon remembers the soft feeling of her mother’s chest. Her cheek fits against it perfectly. She remembers the hard push of her sister’s knee against her own leg, and the laugh in her mother’s voice. She recalls the lines of her sister’s hand and how it felt to rub her thumb along them until Lette shrieked with laughter, like it had tickled her. Eamon remembers how warm she felt, wrapped up in the two of them. A mix of flowers and cool water always brings this memory to her mind, and she smiles.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Grass tickling her nose, and a small round bug crawling along between the blades. Red like string scattering across her vision, as she was lifted from the earth. Her hand still reaching out for the little black bug, bigger hands tight against her ribs They squeezed a little painfully, but only enough to make her whine in the back of her throat. A murmur of her name, and Lette looks up. Her father’s green eyes smile down at her like the water of a murky lake. She smiles back, and giggles. His hand, scratchy with callouses, brushes back her hair.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Blurs moving past him, dark things swimming around the edges of his vision. Espin remembers crying, crying so loud and so long that he was sure no one heard him. He remembers unpleasant smells, something he later knows is the smell of sickness and waste. He remembers the crying making it worse, stopping his nose and how panicked he felt. A cool hand on his forehead was all that kept him awake, and he cried, and cried. Sleep would be kinder. His stomach lurched, and he felt hotness sear his throat and splash out his lips. Nothing eases his pain.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her big brother’s back, warm and strong. Anelace was tied to it, she could feel the soft cloth against the back of her neck, feel the bounce of his step as he walked. He talked to her, telling her stories, and she burbled back to him. Her fingers found his coarse woven dreads, tugging for attention. She remembers how he smelt like sunshine and camels. He was so big, and strong, he carried her like she was smaller than an ant, and it made her feel small and she thought he must be the most powerful thing in the world.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She was always angry. So angry. His mother was angry at him, yelling and screaming, and Jorgan hated yelling. He wanted to hide and forget. It made him cry, which made her so much angrier. She called him hurtful things he can’t remember later, things that might be true. Her palm struck his cheek, and his world went spinning. Pain blossomed in his jaw, his teeth rattling, as he toppled over. His cries came louder. The snap of a belt made his chest squeeze, and fear silenced him. His father’s footsteps, shaky and unstable, curled him into a tight ball.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What glimpse does this first light give?

photo courtesy of flickr.com

Queens: Are They So Evil?

  • Posted on April 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Enjoy my minor attempts at Poetry. Keep in mind, I haven’t written anything poetic since highschool. You’ll quickly see why.

A precarious thing, a Queen becomes;

She’s known for beauty, for faith, for something

and that thing is what makes her so hated.

Too beautiful. Too faithful. Too loving.

Her downfall, that Queen, is that she cares.

She cares about her husband, perhaps,

or her people.

or herself, just a little too much.

And that leaves her lost, and alone, afraid and scared.

She isn’t prepared.

Sold to another kingdom for her ransom,

She marries, and she is not his favorite. He barely loves her.

She does everything she can.

Or he loves her, but he loves his old wife more.

Poor Queen, lost.

She takes up magic, takes up the old ways of lying and beauty and power.

She takes up new ways of passion and heart and anger.

The Evil Queen they call her.

Is she truly evil?

For wanting nothing more than stability, and hope?

Is she evil?

Or is she hurt? Lonely?

No one cares to ask, as they stab the sword into her dragon breast,

or throw her dashed down on rocks.

She is dead, poor Queen.

Poor evil Queen. She is dead.

Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Posted on April 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm

To be quite honest, old Jack has tapped me out. I have no idea what to write about this particular fairy tale. So I decided to try something stream-0f-consciousness, to see if I can get to the bottom of what Jack and the Beanstalk means to me. You see, I never really liked the tale, even as a child. It made no sense to me. If you were going to sell a cow, why would you do it for a few coins? Cows make milk, right? So why not keep the cow, scavenge for food around the forests and stuff, and try and survive that way?

So, yes, even as a child, I wasn’t easily fooled. I knew that no giant beanstalk would grow from a few green beans. I’d tried. It didn’t work. Magic, or not, beans did not equal giants. This was clear to me from a very young age. But there was one part of the fable that drew me. I loved the idea of the Harp of Gold and the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs. These two prizes, seemed so very, very unreachable for me.

Perhaps it was because Harps always seemed so… elegant and rich to me. I tried very hard not to put myself down, but I knew I would never have that sort of beauty in my posession. And the goose? I wouldn’t even know how to care for it. So I envied Jack these few things. I wanted to have them, and he did, so I hated him. Amazing how easy it is to fall into sin that early.

The thing about these two prizes was, however, you had to pass by a giant to get them. And this giant wanted to grind your bones to make his bread. Clearly, the poor guy was calcium deficient and needed some kind of supplement.  I felt sorry for him! But at the same time, he was really, really annoying. All that fee-fi-foh-fum humdrum, it made no sense. Why let your prey escape by being so loud?

Also, the whole tale has no real conclusion. Yes, Jack cuts down the stalk, but what about the rest of the giants? Can’t they come down any time? Shouldn’t they be able to toss down some magic beans and then wreak revenge on the wayword Jack? Oh wait, I don’t remember THAT happening in the original story. Someone should tell Jack and the Beanstalk from the Giant’s point of view. That’d be nice.

And another thing! There are NO female parts in that story, except for the ‘naggy mother’. Really? Maybe Jack should be Jill! Girls can climb giant beanpoles too! Although to be honest, I can’t think of a woman who’d sell a cow for a couple of magic beans. …Well, not off the top of my head anyway. That isn’t to say there aren’t any, just that I don’t know any. Perhaps Jill could climb the stalk and then make peace with the giant?

Well, now I’m getting into territory of a new novel, and that really can’t happen, so I’m going to end this respectable five hundred some odd words with this. Don’t sell your cow. Feed it grass. Milk it. Live. Be happy.

Is He or Isn’t He (Human)?

  • Posted on April 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Today we discuss that ever famous trope, the one thing that makes every horror movie ever awesome, the one thing that turns fairytales from fairy to Faery tales, and the one thing that I absolutely adore when done right. When in doubt, use this particular cliche, because honestly, it never gets old! On Tvtropes.org they call it the Tomato in the Mirror. Personally, I like the fact that it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Including yourself!

Is he human, or isn’t he? This goes for women too, but too often, we forget that men exist in fairy tales as anything other than the prince, or the rescuer. Or sometimes both. As one-dimensional as this is, some of the best  scares in the world, come from the idea that the person you are with is not who he says he is. So here’s a quick guide to whether or not your beau is in fact, human!

1) Salt! It is your best friend!

In most societies, Salt is considered a purifying presence. (maybe because of what it does to slugs, who knows.) People consider it pure and useful. In the old days, there was a saying “Worth his salt”. This was because back in those days, people were actually PAID in… You guessed it. Salt. It preserves meat, adds flavor, keeps rot away, and best of all, salt lining a doorstep or a window keeps the evil from entering a home. Supposedly.

The Pearl Princess
A Fairy Tale of the Value of Salt
Once upon a time, there lived a woman on the top of a mountain that lived in a cottage and had geese. In the
large nearby forest, she would pick grass for the geese and fruit to carry home. One morning, a handsome
young count came into her presence. He asked if she had no one to help her carry her things. She told him
that she was poor and had no one to help her and asked if he would be so kind since he was strong and tall.
He agreed but soon he was groaning under the weight. “These are so heavy, can we rest,” he asked? “No.
Go on a bit more,” she coaxed. ” He tried and tried to take the bundle from his back and found he could not.
He began to think she was a witch. As if she could read his thoughts, she tried to console him by saying:
“Don’t get angry. I will give you a present when we get to my home.”
Soon they arrived at her little cottage. It was a bit run down though neat and tidy. There was another women
there who asked: “Kind mother, you have stayed away for so long. You were missed.” “I met with this kind
gentleman, who carried my burden,” replied the old woman as she took the bundles from the Count. “Sir, you
may rest upon the bench. And you, little one, go inside the house lest he fall in love with you.” The Count
was somewhat surprised at the old woman’s comment. The girl was homely and old looking and he thought
love was an impossibility unless she was considerably younger.
The Count fell asleep. When he awakened the old woman was there ready to give him his reward for his
kindness of carrying her bundles. She placed an emerald green box in his hand and admonished him to take
good care of it. He put the unopened box into his pocket and left. He was unable to find his way out of the
forest even though he had been able to before. Finally, after three days, he came to a large town. He was
greeted by a guard that was instructed to take all strangers to the King and Queen.
He respectfully explained his situation: “Your Majesties, I am a Count. I have lost my way.” The King asked,
“How can you prove what you say?” The Count began to search his pockets and found the emerald box and
presented it to the Queen. Upon opening it she gasped in surprise and fainted. The guards seized the Count
and the King helped the Queen. As the Count was being taken away she awoke and asked that he be
released for she wished to talk to him…. alone.
Once alone the Queen began her sad tale. “I have three daughters. The youngest was rare and wonderful.
When she cried, pearls fell from her eyes instead of tears. One day, their Father, the King, decided to divide
his kingdom so he called our daughters before us. ” He said: “All of you love me. But she who loves me best
will receive the greatest part of the kingdom.” The Queen continued. “Each child giggled and said that she
loved her father best but was asked to tell how much. “The first daughter said that she loved her father as
much as the sweetest sugar. The second daughter said that she loved him as much as her prettiest dress.
Our youngest was quiet. The King asked her….”How much do you love me.” She replied, “I know not what to
compare my love to, Father.” He encouraged her and asked her to think again. “I do not like even the best
food without salt. Therefore, I love my father like salt.” He became angry not understanding the compliment
she had given him for salt is worth more than gold sometimes. “Like common salt,” he raged! He had the
kingdom divided between the two oldest daughters and placed a sack of salt upon her back and she was
lead into the forest by two guards. I begged him not to but he wouldn’t change his mind. I wept. She also
wept and the road to the forest was strewn with the pearls from her eyes. After a few days, the King regretted
his behavior and the soldiers were sent into the woods to find her. They could not. We have wept since.” And
so ended the Queen’s sad tale.”When I opened the emerald box, I saw the pearl that my daughter used to cry. Where did you get it” the Queen implored?

“In the forest, I met an old woman and carried some bundles to her home. I didn’t see a
beautiful princess.” When the King was told of this, the three of them returned to the forest to look for the old
woman.
She was in her cottage spinning with the homely child beside her. An owl came to the window and the old
woman said, “It’s time to go to the well.” Off she went deeper and deeper in to the forest. She brought up a
bucket of well water and began to wash her face. As she did so, the homely mask soon came off and in the
moonlight you could see she was the beautiful princess.
Meanwhile, the Count had strayed from the King and Queen and climbed a tree to find them. But what he did
see was the girl, a beautiful girl. He edged out further on the branch to secure a better look but the tree limb
creaked. The girl heard the noise and placed on her mask as she ran from the well. He recognized her as the
goose girl from the old woman’s cottage. He climbed down the tree as quickly as possible but the fair maiden
had disappeared.
He found the King and Queen and said, “I think I have just seen your daughter. She probably went down this
path.” The three went hurriedly down the path and came upon the old woman’s house. They peered in the
window and saw the old woman alone at her spinning wheel. They knocked softly and heard her response:
“Enter. I was expecting you.” They asked the old woman if she knew of her daughter, the Princess. The old
woman rose from her stool and pointed a finger to the King and said, “Three years ago, you unjustly drove
her away. She who was good, kind and pure as salt! She put out her hand, which was filled with salt and
asked, “do you know the value of salt and therefore the love your child has for you?”
The King expressed his sorrow and beseeched the old woman to show him his daughter. A door opened and
the Princess appeared. Everyone wept tears of joy but only the princess wept pearls. The King asked her
forgiveness and said that he had no kingdom left to divide and that he had nothing of worth to give to her.
The old woman said: “This child needs nothing. She is as the salt of the earth, pure, life giving and watched
over. Her pearls are finer than those of the sea and she shall always have them.”
Upon this comment, the old woman put up her hands and said that for the years the Princess spent tending
her geese, the cottage was hers to keep. The kindly woman disappeared and the cottage changed into a
beautiful palace.
In all of the commotion, the Count was overlooked and he began to go. The Queen stopped him and asked if
there was any way that they could repay him for finding their daughter. The King offered his gold, the Queen
offered the pearls. He looked at the Princess and asked if she would marry him. The Princess agreed…..
And they all lived happily ever after.

The Salt Institute

2) Sage. See Salt, because it’s the same situation. Purification properties, protection from those who might harm you. Wear it as perfume, and if he flinches away, he is evil! Or maybe just in possession of a nose, because honestly, Sage has a really pungent odor. But it can be used to purify a home of spirits. Especially useful when one wants to avoid the situation poor Violet’s situation on American Horror Story. Just light a bundle of sage and let it’s fragrance touch every corner of your house, and put a small + symbol over each door and window with the ashes, and you’ve got yourself a safe home.

3) Tiger’s Eye. This stone has often been touted as protective. Just Google It and you’ll find a plethora of options. You see, it resonates with your own protective barriers, if you’re the type of person to believe that all people have these psychic protections, and strengthens them. Wear a tigers eye on the subway, or when dealing with people you don’t particularly care for. Wear it at work to avoid being noticed by the boss when s/he is on a rampage! Hey, there ya go!

So go forward, forewarned and forearmed, and meet your beau with a tiger’s eye around your throat, and some salt in your fist! Make sure that lover isn’t there just for your lovely insides!

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