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The Void Unravels- Year Two from Avalissa Sol'zoun's blog

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(One year after The Void Unravels)

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It was like waking up in a way. A slow, hazy return to consciousness; awareness floating to the surface through the darkened muck of sleep. But not exactly the same, no, because normally, with awareness comes recognition. Understanding. And right now? Ava had none of that.


She opens her eyes to find herself sitting at her desk. Her limbs aren't heavy with disuse. Her posture isn't slumped or sagged. She hadn't slept nor blacked out nor fainted. She'd closed her eyes with understanding and opened them with ignorance. Ignorance saddled with confusion and wariness in spades.

She doesn't know how long she sits there, hands draped in her lap, staring at a point on the wall in front of her as her vision blurs and her eyes prickle with the need to blink. Heat gathers at her eyes. Wetness glistens on her eyelashes when she opens her eyes again, vision not refocused but blurred now from the tears building up instead of strain. Beneath the confusion and trepidation she's filled with an inexplicable feeling of loss. It's filling her being, like she's wading into the ocean and it's swallowing her up; bit by bit, until she's submerged and drowning in it.

But with it comes more confusion. The sense of loss remains. It's ever present, really, but it doesn't pull sadness from her. Just a more acute confusion. She shakes her head in a vain attempt to clear it, ignoring the way the motion causes vertigo. She needs something. She needs to get herself together. She needs answers. She needs...

She needs a plan.

Ava's hands are on the desk before she's really thought to move them. She'd had every intention of standing, but her palms clap down onto paper and for the first time she realizes that her desk is... covered. Corner to corner. There's a journal set aside, in the center, on it's own. It's so obviously placed to get her attention that it's practically screaming at her to pick it up. So she does. The words on the cover, scrawled in her handwriting cause her to pause.

'[b]Start here[/b]', they read. Here are your answers, it implies.

Feeling suddenly lightheaded and unfocused, she opens the journal and slowly reads through the first page.

And then reads through it again.

And again.

Although she can't ever recall being particularly verbose (That's not right, you were. You talked so much. You talked so you didn't have to say anything.) Ava finds herself well and truly speechless. The inconsistency of her thoughts slams against the fragile understanding the journal's first page provided, throwing the validity of it's contents into question. Yet at the same time, the inconsistency confirmed the theory.

"We've lost years of memory. It's not the first time, but hopefully it's the last. We've written down important information so we can acclimate into everything easier."

[b]We[/b]. She's not surprised by her word choice. It's certainly the one she'd chose to use, she thinks. You and I separates the two versions, and if she separates herself, how can she expect anyone to treat her as herself? As if she's not a totally separate person? And the handwriting is very clearly her own. She doesn't know how much she trusts her brain right now, but the information in front of her all points to one conclusion: The journals are true. They're the one piece of undeniable truth she has.

The feeling of loss is shadowed by a feeling of raw, blistering rage. She'd lost years of her life. Not for the first time. What the hell had she been doing? Who'd done this to her? Herself? An enemy? Her country?

(Sparks and soot rise in the night sky. A magical bomb shouldn't have left traditional fires but ripped apart infrastructure leads to faults and explosions. The fires of the camps around the port hadn't helped. Like the fires around her, her rage had swelled, then, bursting from her at the seams when she realizes they'd been lied to. They were always lying. They were using them. And now they had her in a cell, determined to make her yield. Determined to make her willing to be used.)

There's a dim crackling in her head, in her ears, like a distant warning bell that's too far away to identify. The journal sits haphazardly on the desk, dropped and closed. Her hands are shaking but she lifts them to her face anyways, covering her eyes and pulling downward. Her palm hesitates over her jaw, massaging it to stop the grinding.

The rage turns sweet like a thickened molasses and she feels it- she feels it in her body like a sedative as it slowly numbed her body. The information whiplash is a good thing, isn't it? Her mind was already trying to reconnect the dots. Forge the connections. Right the wrongs that's splintered in it's design. She reaches for the journal again and reads a little further.

"It's the 33rd year of the King. Alliance, yes. We're on the Alliance. We're with the Tempest, Ilsava's company. We're her right-hand and we're respected. We have autonomy. Recently, our Void condition clashed with the magical reconditioning placed upon us by the Thalassian military. We did not truly lose our memory then, but we did spend a few months in a fugue state of confusion. We thought we'd fixed the problem. But we only delayed it. And our time ran out. We'll recover. And we can't fall farther than we have. But here we are."

Three years of time, of memories, of decisions and risks and rewards all gone. She'd failed herself. Every feeling, every thought, every consideration that went into each encounter, contract, or event ripped from her mind. But it was more than that, wasn't it? You forget events and happenings all the time, she thinks. Not completely, but the details, the intricacies. What's left- what matters- is the impression the event left behind. The way it shaped you and formed you. Made you. It's not forgetting every time you went to the bar with a friend that hurts, it's forgetting why those times mattered. Forgetting why that person mattered. Losing the relevancy of the events is like ripping out chunks of who you were. Leaving behind a mottled husk. A figment. An idea of what once was.

The sweetness begins to sour, like a candy left out of it's wrapper too long in blistering summer heat. It won't matter if she can repaint the picture. Knowing what happened won't bring insider knowledge. Reading her own history as if it's an epitaph won't provide closure. Not when the person who's dead is herself.

And sure, relatively speaking, for someone her age, three years wasn't a whole lot of time. It was relatively short, really. She was, more or less, a complete person. Enough memories and events and relationships and relevancy to be a real person. Not just a figment. But that wasn't what mattered. It was the principle of the thing. She'd been living here, she'd made a life for herself here. She'd done shit and mattered and all of that- all of the significance of that was gone.

The most recent chunk of her life, gone in a poof.

Well, less of a poof and more of a plop. Plop, as in dropped and scattered across this desk in a series of sprawling journals, maps, notebooks. Memories written on the back of flyers and napkins as she'd started to feel them drifting away. Schematics in folders organized in a method she'd not started using yet. Memories and information filed carefully on whatever paper was near at the time, an attempt to road map the world she'd lived in for herself when her brain could no longer make the connections itself.

She skims the brief timeline on the second page. The contracts, the parties, the world news. The events are done and gone. They won't be repeated; they can't be revisited. The significance and impact they'd had on her won't ever be reapplied. Parts of the wall has chipped and fallen away. But the people? People are flexible. Memories with the people who considered her a friend, a sister-at-arms? Those might remain lost, but the people can adapt around that. The relationship can be maintained. It's foundation remains and can be rebuilt. That information she focuses on.

"Iann is here. Vandril is here. Mama is here. We've got a lot of friends. A few close ones. The company is like a family. They call us Lissa, mostly. A name we took for ourselves to try and reinvent ourselves when we first defected. Only Iann calls us Ava anymore."

Avalissa Sol'zoun. Lissa.

The nickname tasted wrong when she tried it, muttering it to herself under her breath.

It still tasted wrong days later.

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She knows herself better than she thought. It's a startling discovery, since she'd never really been the most self-insightful person. The now familiar pang of regret rings through her as she realizes she's going to have to relearn yet another behavior that she should already know for someone her age. Growth she'd been chasing after for years is finally attained and then she has to go and let it slip through her fingers.

The first journal is finished- read and cataloged, but kept on her person at all times. It's designed to be a point of reference- a guidebook- a phrasebook for surviving day-to-day life in a world that expects certain things of her she can't possibly know to pretend to know. Not that she's going anywhere. She's been in her office for days, rarely leaving even to go to other areas of Iann's- their house. It's unfamiliar and it grates on her nerves. Nerves that are already shot to hell. So she stays in her office.

Iann brings by food and liquids for her but stays out of sight more often than not. They'd tried talking at first. But it was so exhausting to try and navigate what he might expect her to be and what she was now. What she knew versus what he expected her to know. Not through any fault of his own, though. He was patient and expected nothing. But she couldn't handle processing the information in the journal while actually interacting with other people. Even him, which just irritated her more. If it should be anyone... So they'd decided to set up a cot in her office. Leave her to dive into her own life and see if she could swim to the surface or if her body would float to the top after she'd drowned. He hadn't been happy about it, she could tell, but he'd let her. It was her choice, after all. Iann would do a lot, but he wouldn't ever take her autonomy. He deserved better than this, she thought.

The second journal, the one dedicated to telling herself what about her has changed and what has remained, begins with only a singular definition written boldly but kindly into the first page. Emphasis put on certain words, the ones she knows she'd choose to ignore had they not been so blatantly shoved at her. A Thalassian word, one she hardly used.

"Lo'tiorel: (n.) regret and remorse and repentance; a state of agony and torment; or sorrow said to be "created by the sudden sight of one's own misery"."

She knows she's miserable. She knows she's frustrated and confused and tugging on the one thread she has to finding equilibrium despite knowing it's so fragile it could snap at any minute and send her adrift. But being called out on it? Having her wallowing in grief for the death of herself thrown so violently in her own face so soon just enrages her. How dare she? How fucking dare she?

If she knew so much, why wasn't she able to prevent this from happening in the first place? Maybe if the effort spent into writing her future self love letters about acceptance and being at peace was spent into finding a solution before the problem reached it's apex, she wouldn't be flinging her furniture around her office in a red haze of rage and fear. Maybe if she'd- if only she'd-

"-sa. Ava. Dalah, put the chair down. Come on, that's it,"

Disassociation clears and awareness settles back into place with a click. Like a sword fitting into the sheath. Like the way your joint pops when you pull your finger to crack a knuckle and then release it back into it's socket. Ava pivots, the chair lowering in her hands but not being released. The wood still creaks from the way her shoulders tense and strain; gripping the seat and back as if pulling the chair apart will bring her some sort of solace.

Iann stands in the doorway, posture purposefully and carefully calm despite the downward quirk of his lip he can't quite mask. Can't quite hide how his hands are tucked under his own arms to prevent himself from trying to use them. He shouldn't be here at all, they both know. They'd agreed. His sudden appearance tosses her emotions in a hectic storm, swirling in her gut. He knows he's supposed to give her space and he's pretending that knowing that is enough to justify the helplessness he feels at his own inaction. She doesn't know why she knows this; he's never had to deal with her like this before. (He has. You've had to deal with him like this too. This pain is familiar to him and you on both fronts.)

There was an instinctual uneasiness at the way Iann was treating her now. Respectfully, like he understands the danger, but recklessly, like he doesn't care about it. Ava can feel the tension in the room cackle between them but he doesn't move away. He doesn't leave despite the warning blaring in the back of her mind that's so loud she's sure he can hear it. The warning that he needs to make the move to leave her alone- because she doesn't have the willpower to ask him to. But he won't. He's here, even if he shouldn't be. And if he's here, he might as well ride this out to its conclusion. He stands there, eyes darting between the chair and her with expectancy, as if determined to wait out her anger-fueled tantrum.

"Why are you here when you know I could hurt you?" She croaks, voice hoarse from disuse.

Iann's lips quirk up and the piece of shit has the gall to chuckle. Small and breathy, with an underlying twinge of exhaustion curling at it's edges, sure, but it's still a laugh. She states the obvious and in response he laughs at her.

"You can't." He replies a beat too quickly. "You won't." He amends, as if the alternative is so unreasonable it's not worth considering.

She wants to argue. Light, does she want to argue. She wants to fight- she wants to hit something until it stops moving. She wants to take the chair in her hands and bang it on the ground until the world is thrown off it's own axis from the force of her frustration.

But looking at him? How he watches her? How his body tenses when she shifts her weight to her back leg; not a tenseness of going on the defense, but the jerk of a body that's prepared to surge forward? All it does is make her tired. Exhaustion sweeps over her, blanketing her like a thick quilt and smothering her. The kind of exhaustion that comes with resignation. Not quite acceptance- but not defeat either.

She drops the chair back onto it's legs and lets herself fall into it. She leans forward, head in her hands, fingers gripping at the roots of her hair. Her breathing calms to a normal rate and she sits like that until her elbows leave numb spots on her knees.

Iann lingers at first. She figures he wants to say something, a part of her knows that he does. But she also knows that he understands nothing he says will register right now. Sometimes you have to love and be loved at a distance. Because the inferno that is your temperament or the raging storm that is your mind makes closeness burn and suffocate instead of soothe and comfort. And so he gives her space. He closes the door again when he leaves.

She doesn't make it past the first page that day. Or the next. But she re-reads the definition over and over and over. Willing herself to believe the implication she's tried to tell herself. Demanding that she believe what she'd believed when she'd written the journals.

This isn't your fault.
It'll be okay.
Don't wallow. Move forward.
Keep fighting.

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There are sketches of people in the third journal. They're not great- she'd always been better at drawing things that relied on geometric shapes. Like her engineering designs, or the more harsh parts of nature who's curves are sharp and who's angles are crisp instead of flowing and bendy. They're even drawn with drafting pens- black and white, blue and red. She doesn't really own anything else, she supposes. But they're clear enough to paint a picture- or hash a sketch, so to speak. Beneath the sketches are descriptions. Basic, impersonal bits of information. Like she'd draft up for a target. Quick nuggets of information that would help her identify the person at a glance.

But on the back... on the back of each page is more. A story, quickly jotted down. A whole relationship summed up in the spaces of a 6x9in journal page. She reads through these pages slowly at first. Then frantically, flipping between page to page; reading each page a few lines at a time, one page after the other, until the stories have somehow blended together. And it makes sense. For all it's grammatical wrongness and all of it's technical incorrectness, it feels right. It feels so much more right to have their stories combined.

He's the easiest. Always has been, in a way. There's no risk with him. It wasn't just that there was no judgement ever, but he didn't fight like us. And we loved that, as much as we bitched about him needing protection. He was soft. The cushion we could fall on when we felt prickly and frail and brittle. We think he always knew that, too, even though our friendship took awhile to bloom. We credit him with the whole thing, given how we-

-avoided her at first. Didn't like the temptation, didn't want to shit where we ate. But she was incessant, and we clicked so damn good together. We hadn't had a friend like this before, not unless we count Iann. And there could never be anyone to replace Iann, but... in another world? Where he didn't exist? She'd be the one. Because the way she laughed when we wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her to our side? The way-

-his cheeks flushed and looked a little bashful. But proud, too. Always both, because he so desperately wanted us to like the gift and to appreciate him, because he wants to be wanted, but proud because he knew he did well. Just wouldn't let himself acknowledge it. Not until we-

-swooped behind her, using her shield for cover as we fell onto our belly to stabilize the shot. And we couldn't hear him hit the ground, even in his plate armor, over the roar of the spectators and over the roar of blood pumping in our ears because the way she looked at us? The confidence we saw for the first time in her eyes as she looked back to confirm that-

-we weren't just a job for him. He cared about us. He believed in us and stood by us every time we veered too close to the edge. He saw what we could offer and that's what he focused on, not the rest of the shit we did to cope in our own way. We picked fights in bars to avoid thinking and he promoted us. Made us his lieutenant because the next morning we'd roll out of bed anyways and do what we had to. He saw the best in us.


For a moment, she sees nothing but black and it makes her breath halt and her heart hammer in her chest. Her ears are assaulted by the sounds of her own pulse, steady but faster than it should be. When the haze lifts she feels different. Off kilter. Buzzing. She looks at the sketches and begins to rip them out of the journal, careful not to tear the words. She mashes them together, frantically layering them partially atop the other until each face is somehow mushed into the others beside it. She feels... Looking at them together she feels... It would feel nostalgic if it hadn't settled over her so violently. She's drenched in nervous sweat and her skin crawls with the urge to...

She hadn't felt loss before, she realizes. She'd declared the feeling that'd coiled in her chest as loss, but it had just been another version of pain. Of fear. But this feeling? The tightness in her throat that closed off her airways and forced her to hunch over her desk, pressing her forehead to the pile of pictures? The feeling of longing tainted- no- poisoned by a feeling of deficiency. Displacement. Dereliction. Desolation. (You'll get them back, but they won't be the same. You aren't the same, why would they be?)

She spends the rest of the day combing through the third journal, scratching out every use of the word 'we' or 'us' and replacing it with 'I' and 'you'. That night she dreams of the sketches coming to life. She dreams of the stories like they're memories. Even if they're fogged over and not quite right. Even if they're lacking enough details to feel truly real. She thinks of the people she'd written about, spent the effort to draw as flatteringly as possible. And she finds herself deciding that even if she can't trust herself... she can't be rude enough to assume how they'll feel for them. She won't be the same, but that doesn't mean normalcy can't be regained.

She spends the next day crossing those out and rewriting the plural usage, shoulders pulled up to her ears with shame, like a dog admonishing itself for biting it's own tail. She sits in her hard chair and stares at her reflection and thinks of 'we's' and 'I's'.

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The fourth and fifth journals are so highly technical it makes her laugh when she first opens them. It's little things like this, more than the journal dedicated to the task, that reminder her she's still herself. Like her eyes, that are so familiar that she sorta believes she's the same person. These little reminders that she's not really changed all that much.

The fifth journal she more or less ignores for now. It covers her engineering pursuits for the last few years, doing her best to explain her line of reasoning and thinking when she'd made the blueprints and plans. Because a blueprint is all well and good but doesn't explain why you chose to use a diffraction generator instead of a radiation emitter on a particular project. It also doesn't detail the thought-process behind the design. The lessons learned, the failed attempts and the conclusions not so obviously brought forth from the trials.

So she glosses through the fifth journal, focusing mostly on the first section, which details the devices she'd been using day-to-day. This journal will be something she slowly returns to as she combs through the last three years of her work.

The fourth journal, however, is focused on her. Her current training routine, the weapons she's preferring. It details how much her fighting style, training regiment, and health quality had changed during the years she's now forgotten. It gives her a timeline for her body and it's current status. She knows she fights with a rotating armory of weapons and she lists which she might be most out of practice with, and which she's been training with the most.

And they're in depth. She lists her average diet, weight, muscle mass, sleep patterns, water intake, measurements, recent injuries and the extent of which they were healed magically or organically. She lists the weapons she's used, measuring them in every possible way and creating algorithms and formulas to determine an array of different conclusions relating to them and her current physical status. She hasn't used daggers in nearly a year, and so her grip would need to be adjusted, her muscles, which are currently focused on lifting and hefting a medium-to large sized bat wild need to be adjusted, for instance.

It all makes sense, but one thing that doesn't make a Light damned lick of sense is that she doesn't use shields anymore. That she has instead learned to use magic. Honest to Light Abjuration magic.

She'd never been able to use magic, much to both her mother and father's great disdain. She was an Sin'dorei- Ren'dorei- elf, so sure, she had the basics. And she understood the core tenants of it and could manipulate magically affected items for engineering. Runes, gems, dusts, scrolls- those worked. She could use those. Could even sort of direct magic from one object to another, like from a scroll to a gemstone.

But she couldn't fucking wield it. She couldn't harness it. Couldn't draw it forth.

Except apparently she could.

The recent enslavement- attunement- to the Void had seemed to unlock whatever hidden potential she'd had within her. She didn't know if she should be pleased by this. The magic was nice, but was the cost worth it? The Void?

That in and of itself had been a whole ordeal, early on in this process. When it'd first really sunk in that she was Void-attuned. A Void-being. It was one of the only times she'd left the office, storming out of Iann's- their house in Ironforge, down to the closest thing she'd get to a temple without going to Stormwind. (Which she wasn't-isn't ready for yet.) The priests within the Hall of Mysteries had been calm and accommodating, apparently used to semi-deranged, heavily disassociating elves barging in and begging for absolution and the solace that their condition didn't fully bar them from the Light's blessing.

Their words had comforted her, at least enough to calm her. She'd spent the rest of the day there, explaining her situation- the whole situation- to one elderly priest by the name of Durmond. She'd picked him because he'd seemed the closest to senility. The least aware, the least likely to remember her or pay too close attention. She'd vented her frustrations about the memory loss and of her current association with a power she'd desperately tried to avoid growing up.

She'd never been particularly religious growing up, she'd explained. To be honest, she'd always sort of preferred the Human and Dwarven interpretations of the Light over that of the Quel'dorei. They'd felt homier and warmer, ironically, than those who's worship of the Light revolved around sun allegories. But she'd always believed in the Light's power. How could she not, with a literal fountain of Sun magic sustaining her people?

In retrospect, after the Razing and the Sunwell's restoration, she understood the difference between the Sunwell and the Sunwell with honest to Light... Light in it. She still hadn't made the pilgrimage to visit it. Durmond recommended she should, though quickly remembered she would not be allowed to, with her...condition. He consoled her through that heartbreaking revelation as well.

Now, though, she sat at her desk, contemplating the concept of being able to use magic.

According to her notes, she used it sparingly. A bit of teleportation here, like mama used, a bit of shielding there. According to her notes, she was wary about using magic, because she didn't understand what it might do to her connection to the Void. Even if most of the spells she used were Arcane- her competency to using the magic increased due to her exposure to magic in general via the Void corruption.

But now she knew. Using magic broke her mind. But it'd been broken. As much of a strain as it'd been on her sanity, they'd had a healer and mage check the day after she 'awoke'. The damage was done. There wouldn't be more of this nature.

And so now she wondered. What worse could happen? She started having the same thoughts as she did when thinking about weaponry. Why limit herself? Why limit herself to one small gun when she could have a big one? Why limit herself to producing a buckler-sized shield when she could make a wall that spanned yards? Why limit herself to creating a shield at her arm, instead of across the field over an ally?

With those thoughts in mind, Ava pushed away from her desk, scooting the chair along the ground. She re-positioned herself to face the far end of her office, the bookshelf. Scanning the shelves and settling on an object, Ava lifted her hand and pointed towards the small box of scrolls. She knew the theory of magic. She'd tried using it enough as a student in Quel'thalas.

[b]1.[/b] Gesture to the target with one hand. Create a connection, implied, between your body and the target. So she pointed to the box.

[b]2.[/b] Harness the energy in the world around you with the other hand, grasping and securing it for your use. So she cupped her other hand in front of her and thought about gripping the Arcane as though she were curling fingers around the hilt of a blade.

[b]3.[/b] Harness the energy within you and combine it with the energy outside. She didn't know what that meant, not really. Technically, sure, but not- well... She could feel the energy thrumming beneath her skin. She always had been able to. And she could use that energy to influence runes or gemstones while inserting them into inventions. So if she just mimicked that... right?

[b]4.[/b] Envision the desired effect of your spell. The intention behind what you aim to do. See it clearly in your mind's eye and twist the magic accordingly. Abjuration was easy. Not easy, but easy. It wasn't complex. She just needed to think of a shield. Not a fireball. A sturdy shield. A- no small shield. Small target. Worry about sturdy when you have a real threat coming at the shield. Don't think about fireballs. If she could create a small, spherical shield around the- no, square? The box was square, but can the shield- A spherical shield around the box would work fine. Not a fireball.

[b]5.[/b] Release the energy toward the target.

Ava inhaled and exhaled once. Twice. Three times. Lingering- she was hesitating, would that matter? Stockpiling energy or is she sitting on a finite amount? Is it increasing in amount as time passes? Or is it increasing now because she's thinking about it increasing? What happens when a shield increases in power? Is that where the sturdiness comes from? If she thinks about it too much does it-

Her attention snaps back into place after it slips too far to maintain the holding of energy. Ava watches as the energy coalesces around the box. (At least your aim is still good.) The shield forms, a bright, pinkish purple indicating the magic was mostly Arcane. (Score!) But then, in the span of a few short seconds, the shield increases in size. And increases still. And then bursts forward into the wall, shattering itself and the wall on impact.

Lissa pushes up from her chair and stumbles back on instinct, eyes wide at the unintentional property damage in front of her. As the rubble stills and the dust from crushed stone settles in the air around the spot, she spies Iann, looking through the dust with the same shocked expression she feels on her own face. He asses the situation, eyes darting from her, to the wall, to the way her hand is still (Idiotically.) outstretched towards the wall.

And then his lips quirk into a small smile. He straightens and steps over the wall she'd broken and into her office. He doesn't tuck his hands under his arms this time. He doesn't linger. Doesn't hesitate. Instead, he strides forward to her, takes her outstretched hand in his, and brings it to his lips for a soft, chaste kiss on the knuckles. "Would you like some help, Dalah?" He asks, voice low and soothing but heavy with emotion.

She doesn't hesitate either. "Yeah, I would."

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By Avalissa Sol'zoun
Added Jan 7

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