Dire Consequences

Dire Consequences

A Chapter by SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
"

Lindo's insides seemed to disappear. So this was how it was going to be. This was to be the ultimate result of everything that happened. After all they'd been through, it would end like this.

"

What day was it? What was the time? Was it even still January?  Lindo’s best estimations came from two things. The first was the delivery of their excuse for food when it wasn’t being withheld for reasons like hoarding earlier “meals.” The other was when an orc or human guard came to half-carry, half-drag him out of his cell down the corridor. Lindo hated those times. They meant facing the worst of the lot.  He'd privately dubbed that man “Straw-Top” because of his pin-straight hair the color of straw and matching unibrow. The man always had a crimson tunic, dark brown hose and black boots.  He’d once noticed that the tunic had darker reddish-brown flecks staining it. Given past experience with Straw-Top, Lindo suspected those stains were blood. Maybe even his own.



                Thudding footsteps approached his cell. Drawn-out metallic creaks cut through the air, reverberating within his skull. Where was that infernal racket coming from? He threw his right across the back of his head, praying it would muffle the cacophony, and pressed his face against the floor. Bruised skin pulled at half-healed cuts on his face, but the irritation was nothing compared to Straw-Top. The opening cell door that took the hobbit’s wearied brain time to identify slammed against the side wall, making him cringe.  Lindo winced even harder when the flickering orange light penetrated the darkness in his peripheral vision. It illuminated the moldering stone that was the interior of his cell. Terror coursed through his veins. This could mean food, and hunger gripped him to his core, but could just as easily mean the light-haired human had devised some new devilry and guards were coming to fetch him and Folco.



At least, he thought, Folco would be spared Straw-Top’s latest ideas. Lindo had learned very quickly just how sadistic the human was their first meeting. The first of many… far too many… and now he might be off to yet another…  Lindo shifted away from the entrance, whimpering as his battered and bruised muscles and bones protested the movement in a wave of fierce, sharp pain.



The cell faded from Lindo’s view, the room he’d quickly learned to dread replacing it.  The room with chairs that had cuffs on the arms to confine prisoners. The room with hooks and chains on the wall. The room with a table covered with stains of dark red, khaki, dark brown and a sickly green and chains stored beneath it. Then there was the chest with a rusty lock. The chest Lindo had felt even the first time,  he did not want opened. The room had an unpleasant smell to it. The smell of mingled sweat, blood, vomit, other bodily excretions, mold and decay.  A smell far worse than even his cell, which reeked of the contents of the bucket in the corner.



It was the first time he’d seen that place, one watery broth and one stale piece of bread after he and Folco were separated. Two guards held his lower arms in a powerful grip. A third walked directly them, nudging Lindo in the small of the back with his boot’s toe any time the hobbit fell behind. Folco was already there, dangling several inches above the ground by his upper arms. For a moment, the two sets of prison watchmen simply looked at each other. Then the one with the nicest uniform pointed first at the prince, then the side of the room. The guards holding Folco aloft shoved him against the wall, clapped his wrists in fetters and attached one of the loops to a hook nearly five feet off the ground, high enough that his heels came off the ground slightly.  That was when Lindo noticed him favoring his left leg. Folco was concentrating his all weight on the ball of his right foot in an effort to keep the too-high cuffs from cutting into his wrists. The left dangled limply beneath him, his foot rolling forward at an awkward angle. Just as Lindo opened his mouth to ask Folco what was wrong with it, his guards had slammed him onto a table, chaining him to it by the neck, waist, thighs and ankles.  When this was done, Straw-Top materialized from  the shadowed back corner and bade the guards retreat to the outside perimeter of the room, ready to act if ordered but otherwise standing by and watching.



That was when the questions started. More questions than Lindo could possibly remember. Questions whispered, questions bellowed, questions mumbled and questions simply asked in a conversational tone. “Where are the rest of you? You look like you and the paladin scum had help. Who was helping you?” Questions for both young hobbits, though it was Lindo who bore the brunt of Straw-Top’s wrath when both refused to answer. “Tell me who’s been giving you quarters, or you get more of the same!” First, it was dripping wax from a burning candle along his forearm. Lindo shuddered at the memory. Nonetheless, both remained stubbornly silent. Then Straw-Top had slowly peeled off the dried wax, leaving raw, stinging skin in its wake. “Give me something to work with! Save yourself unnecessary pain!”  Sometimes, his attention turned to Folco. One contemptuous remark particularly stood out in his memory. “What sort of prince allows one of his subjects to suffer for his own wrongdoing right in front of him and does nothing?” Straw-Top gave a soft chuckle. “And to think many believe I’m the one with the cold heart!” 



Then, to Lindo, he’d remarked “why follow orders to not tell me anything from someone who clearly does not care about you any more than he does about grains of sand by the sea?” Jerking his head toward the stricken-looking Folco, he’d said “truly, it is him, not you, who Dremeadow wishes to punish for his treason, for his aiding the murderer of Queen Arabella, his own mother. Help us, rectify your past errors, and we will forgive what we know was simply your following His Highness’ orders.” A smile Lindo might have taken as compassionate but for the malicious gleam in frosty eyes crossed Straw-Top’s face. “We cannot fault obedience to a member of the royal family, misguided though it was. Just help us.” Only reminding himself that Kiran had been with him, Folco and his cousins that entire afternoon and that the paladin still had the powers he would have lost had he participated in the assassination of Folco’s mother, not to mention that Folco had consulted him to confirm Kiran had not once left the sight of either of them lest he make a grave error in judgment kept him from buckling beneath his tormentor’s manipulative tactics. Submission was increasingly tempting, especially when Straw-Top grew bored with burns and turned to breaking various bones in his left hand.



 Folco responded to the heavy implications against his character with silence, wide dark eyes, tight but quivering mouth and a brow twisted in pain and defiance. He’d blanched the first time he was accused of not caring about what was happening to Lindo and his eyes looked overly bright. When he’d reached his limit, the prince shouted, voice higher-pitched than usual, “really, if you think you’re going to get information out of us that way, shouldn’t you be trying that on me? Am I not the one who logically knows more? Please just leave him alone…” Straw-Top had merely laughed. “Oh, Your Highness, perhaps you could spare your- friend? Servant? No matter. Whoever he is, surely you could spare him a lot of pain by telling me now? You have every means of stopping this whenever you like. All you need to do is desist in your treason and cooperate..”  Lindo shook his head to discourage his friend from succumbing to the demands, earning a slap across the face. Then the tortures resumed, lasting until he’d fallen into a swoon, remembering nothing until his awareness came back to him in his cell. There would usually be a pitiful excuse of a meal along the lines of potato peels, dirty water and stale bread crust as though his captors saved food discards for their helpless prisoners. Each “conversation” and “meeting” since that first had been more or less the same, the only difference being the torments the creatively sadistic man cooked up. There’d been a recent reprieve because Folco had managed to convince the interrogator to believe Kiran was in the Waste of Dré, but Lindo knew the lie would be discovered sooner or later. Hopefully later.



Lindo feebly rolled his head in the direction of the opening metal door, cringing at the miniscule movement. Evidently, his neck did not like turning his head today. Then again, considering that what seemed like only a short while ago but could just as easily be several days, Lindo’s neck had been jerked by the end of a rope, for the fair-haired man’s latest idea of trying to elicit information from the two young hobbits was having Lindo in a noose.  However, rather than putting him on a stool and kicking it out as they would to kill him, they’d thrown the rope over a beam bisecting the ceiling.  They’d then tied one end about his neck- his hands had been tied behind his back to prevent interference- and held the other, pulling until Lindo’s toes barely skimmed the ground.



Something struck his forehead, then hit the floor of his cell beside him with a soft thud. He turned his head to see his latest food- an apple core. He reached for it, but then a rustling motion led Lindo to swivel his head the other direction. He found himself staring into the sneering face of one of the humans. “My, my, someone’s seen better days,” chortled the man. Lindo frowned. In mock sympathy, the guard commented “it’s a shame your friend isn’t the friend you thought he was.”



“What are you talking about?” Lindo choked out, the words scratching his parched throat. “What do you mean?” The human placed a slice of bread crust on the ground beside the battered hobbit, near his good hand.  He then sat down against the wall, leaning against it as casually as Lindo and his friends would at school before the trouble in Drémeadow began. The halfling stared in profound confusion. He’d never seen a guard look that nonchalant and relaxed. Then again, this one was young. Almost as young as he was. Lindo doubted there was even five years difference in the man’s age from Folco’s or his own.



The corner of the man’s mouth slid up in a smirk. “Oh, just that he’s made a terrible mistake.. And I do believe we all know who will pay for that one. You strike me as an intelligent lad.” He added in afterthought, “For a halfling.” He gestured to the crust, assuming an unconvincing façade of sympathy. “Come now, aren’t you going to eat? Or is the provender not to your liking?”



Lindo narrowed his eyes, but shifted his hand onto the bread crust. “I didn’t think you lot cared whether or not I eat.” He hated how slurred and weak his voice sounded. The hobbit squeezed the woefully meager fare in his fist, crushing the stale bread into a crumbly ball, uncertain whether to eat it. The old fears of his food being tampered with resurfaced. It was, after all, foolish to accept food from a known enemy, though this was a situation where the alternative was starvation. Thoughts of poison had long dissipated, but there was such thing as potions to lower one’s defenses as a means of getting information. That could not be ruled out.



The shadowed human scoffed “Don’t be daft, little fool, we need you alive.” He seized a handful of Lindo’s hand, pulling to the prisoner was looking at him. The flickering torch light illuminated auburn hair and pitiless hazel eyes. “At least, until it is decided otherwise. Who knows, after that foolish maneuver of your prince?”



Lindo’s insides seemed to fill with ice. He was starting to have an idea about what his captor  was referring to, but nonetheless demanded, “what are you on about?”



“Oh,” sneered the man, “you should know, you were there.”



Lindo shrugged. “Perhaps I’m every bit the fool that man who likes asking questions says I am?”



In response, the guard yanked Lindo’s head so close he could feel hot breath on his face. “Don’t be pert with me or any of us. Do you KNOW who you’re dealing with?” He relinquished his grip, flinging Lindo to the ground. The impact of his torso against stone sent a fresh surge of pain through his battered body. Lindo, reeling, gritted his teeth against the agonizing tidal wave. When it subsided, he said, panting, “please, I just asked what’s going on.” It was mortifying how whiny his voice was. When did he become so weak? He struggled to sit up, but collapsed back to the ground after managing to get his shoulders and head off the ground with his good hand.



The human laughed. “Come, you’ll soon find out. Come, stand up and follow me…” He stared down at the shaking hobbit, shaking his head and tsk-tsking in mock sympathy. “Ah, but you cannot even sit right now… never fear, I’ll carry you.” He picked up Lindo, making sure to hold him in his most  bruised areas, and began to carry him out of his cell.

 

~*~*~



            Lindo was dropped unceremoniously into one of the chairs. The hobbit slumped sideways, though fortunately there were arms to prevent him from toppling from his seat. Folco was already there. The first thing Lindo realized was the guards had not chained or roped them. He’d braced himself to have his bones bruised and skin rubbed raw by the force of his weight on iron shackles or roughly woven rope for nothing. The second thing he noticed was Folco’s condition. The shoulder injury wasn’t new It had been visibly dislocated last time. Straw-top had even told the orcs not to bother clamping his right wrist into the metal restraint attached to the wall. “I daresay His Highness won’t get much use out of that arm,” he’d said with an unpleasant laugh. “I’d hate to cause Drémeadow’s prince any unnecessary pain.” Now, however, it was at an even more unnatural angle. Several bumps protruded through Folco’s loosely hanging tunic in places where they shouldn’t be. Fresh tears outlined with dark stains marred his good elbow, both knees, and the upper part of his injured arm. The mottled black, blue, purple and green bruise that ran from jaw to temple on the right side of Folco’s face was new, as was the dried blood crusted along  his chin and neck from his mouth.



            “What’d you do to him?” Lindo exclaimed, outraged. His voice came out stronger than it had been in eons.



            Straw-Top raised an eyebrow, looking confused. “Me?” He looked at Folco and comprehension dawned. Touching the bruised part of the prince’s face- Folco winced- Straw-Top said, “oh, that. And that.” He moved his hand to the badly injured right shoulder. Folco’s face blanched white in pain and he let loose a most undignified yelp. Straw-top sneered, removing his hand. Folco slumped lower, features twisted in pain. “Those wasn’t… weren’t me. I’m under strict orders not to cause that sort of harm to him. I’m not foolish enough to ignore them, and if it wasn’t His Majesty or someone authorized to give the king’s orders, then I wish whoever did that luck; they’ll need it.”

 

 Lindo’s blood ran cold.  Not for the first time, he thought How could anyone allow that sort of treatment of their own son? Out loud, he said, glaring, “you expect me to believe that, do you?” He no longer feared the penalties of insolence. They were going to hurt him either way. He might as well try to pay them back by throwing barbs their way and robbing them of some of their dignity. Folco gave a barely perceptible shake of his head, but Lindo ignored his friend. “And here I am thinking you’re reasonably intelligent.”



The fair-haired man gave a shockingly pleasant smile. “I’m not planning to hurt you, so you can skip the insults.” His eyes shifted to Folco. In a voice devoid of respect, he commented “with all due respect, oughtn’t you to be teaching your subjects to respect their betters, Your Highness?”



Hoarsely, Folco responded, “I do. When I consider someone their better.”



The human’s eyes blazed. For a fleeting second, Lindo thought the interrogator might strike the prince, but he did not. Instead, the man said “I do not intend to harm you today. I just want to talk to the both of you about why lying is a bad idea.”



A long, drawn-out moment of silence commenced. Lindo, nonplussed, gave the human he’d come to dread a quizzical look. Folco wore a similar expression to when he and Lindo had been chased up a tree by the vicious dog Lindo’s neighbor used to own when they were small lads, before the neighbor had been ordered to get rid of it after a stream of complaints.



            The volatile Straw-Top stared, smiling, then assumed a look of hurt. “What, I suppose you both think me a monster? Well?” Both hobbits said nothing. “That’s painful to know. Especially since I’m a compassionate fellow.” Across from him, Folco’s jaw dropped in undisguised incredulity. The man turned to him, pouting. “I suppose  that is understandable, Your Highness, given our history, but surely we could put the past behind us and rebuild from there? Surely you have the clemency to put past errors where they belong in the past?”



            Lindo frowned. The cordiality did not comfort him. In fact, he was beginning to feel rather apprehensive. Straw-Top looked too pleasant and too relaxed. The man had no concept of empathy. His  words were as insincere as Folco’s would be if he tried to claim to be a beggarly orc girl from the land of Mongaup on the continent’s extreme southeast. No matter how honest he appeared on the surface, it was a boldfaced lie. I wouldn’t trust you as far as I could THROW you, you vile, thrice bedamned sack of manure, he thought in unbridled fury, stifling the temptation to voice his thoughts aloud.  So take your lies and put them where the sun never touches.



            Folco stared the human straight in the eyes, quietly replying, “What you speak of is more the present than the past. Jarmir and I have already...”  He broke off, voice quavering. Closing his eyes to collect himself, the prince finished, “spoken.”Lindo cringed, his worse fears confirmed. Only one thing could have possibly incited the elf gone wrong, someone even Lindo knew had others do his dirty work for him, to speak to even Folco. The wordplay his friend employed to misguide their enemies, saying that Kiran “was” in the Waste of Dre, had been found out. Somehow, Jarmir and his henchmen had realized neither the paladin nor the rest of the refugees were there.



            “Ahhhhhh,” said the human. “Then I suppose you realize that you and your loyal subject over there are in very deep trouble.” Folco said nothing. “Since you seem reluctant to rectify matters, I suppose this is where I am to inform you of the consequences intended for your actions. Unless either of you wish to cooperate?”



            “I have no intention of telling you where everyone else is, if that’s what you mean,” said Folco. He moved to cross his arms, then buried his face into the crook of his good arm, in fresh throes of agony. Lindo, too, shook his head in refusal. "And I'm not a traitor and I certainly had nothing to do with what happened to my mother.."

 

            “I see. Well, the orders from the king and his advisory are this. If you tell us about the whereabouts of at the very least the queen’s murderer, you shall have mercy. Why, if you’re helpful enough, the two of you may walk free  or only with minor punishment! BUT.” He slammed his hand on the table. “If you  continue in your refusal to cooperate, Your Highness, you will pay the price with your friend’s life. It won’t be a quick end either. What say you?”

 

 Lindo's insides seemed to disappear. So this was how it was going to be. This was to be the ultimate result of everything that happened. After all they'd been through, it would end like this.   He’d had a bad feeling when he’d left his family at the feast on New Years’ after saying his farewells that he might not see them again, but dismissed it at the time as being the obvious result of leaving Drémeadow. He’d never expected to hear he would be killed. Lindo was only 18. He hadn't even graduated from Upper School! He did not want to die. If he did, he would never turn twenty. He would never be an official adult.

 

However, if the alternative was betraying everyone else, then it was obvious what his friend, the youngest  Foxtrot, one of the princes of Drémeadow, would have to do.

 

He looked toward Prince Folco. His friend's mouth hung open in a silent scream. His gaze was as though it were transfixed on something thousands of miles away. Just as Lindo opened his mouth to say something, anything, whether feeble words of comfort, insistence that he do right by his people above all or reassurances that he'd forgive Folco no matter his decision in this nightmarish no-win situation,  hands seized him roughly and removed him from the room.

 



© 2015 SpeedyHobbit Armstrong


Author's Note

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
Give me any constructive criticism as you see fit, I want to make this writing awesome!

I'm moving chapters around and will likely insert a chapter between the previous chapter (Slip of the Tongue, Jarmir's point of view) and this one, most likely from the point-of-view of Kiran, the man accused of leading in the murder.

The hobbits in this book, its prequel Democracy's End and its sequel Traitor Princess are based off Tolkien's hobbits, but they are not exactly the same- for example, the age of majority for Dremewadow hobbits, and tir physical maturity is nearly the same as a human of the same age. I'm using the term "hobbit": as a placeholder until I devise a new name.

My Review

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Featured Review

This was good. I still don't see there out on this one.
Hopefully their rescue pans out.
I have a few edits here: https://diigo.com/079sqa
Otherwise, if you can find a way to pull the first half of the chapter more into the present, I think it will be more painful (in a good way) to read.
Let me know when you add more to the story!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

And thanks for review! =D
jjwilbourne

6 Years Ago

yeah. The stuff that already happened. It may not be doable though. At least not doable with the pla.. read more
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

I may be able to pull it off, possibly even a little while on elliptical since my coach said to do 4.. read more



Reviews

I have reached the end of what you have done on this book so far, and am left hanging. Well done. Let me know when more is available.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

I shall certainly do! I'm going to feel the need to update dream until then... and possibly pulling .. read more
This was good. I still don't see there out on this one.
Hopefully their rescue pans out.
I have a few edits here: https://diigo.com/079sqa
Otherwise, if you can find a way to pull the first half of the chapter more into the present, I think it will be more painful (in a good way) to read.
Let me know when you add more to the story!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

And thanks for review! =D
jjwilbourne

6 Years Ago

yeah. The stuff that already happened. It may not be doable though. At least not doable with the pla.. read more
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

I may be able to pull it off, possibly even a little while on elliptical since my coach said to do 4.. read more
'He seized a handful of Lindo’s hand, pulling to the prisoner was looking at him.' has to be some sort of typo.

A very dark chapter indeed. You're really making me feel sorry for these guys. Good job. Nice cliffhanger at the end, too.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Yeah, that was meant to be hair. That sentence could use rewording anyhow, now that you've called my.. read more
Craig2591

7 Years Ago

You're doing a good job portraying what they're going through.
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thanks! Here's hoping help happens or a way to escape surfaces or they're royally screwed ( no pun i.. read more
I love it!!!!! It is like reading the Lord of the Rings which I love but then it is something completely different. Keep it up!!!! Great job!!!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thanks so much! Going through revision but hope to have new chapter up within a week or two!
How exciting! A fantasy bit with hobbits and orcs and the like! J.R.R. Tolkein would be proud! Your use of description is superb. I can see the jail scene and just how ghastly it is. I would reccomend distinguishing Folco and Lindo from eachother, as to me they sort of meld together into the same character. I also would like some more description of the wicked Prince and wherever it is that he is taking the hobbits to torture them.

I found a few sentences that I think could use a bit of rewording.

"Lindo had learned very quickly just how sadistic the human was their first meeting." In this sentence 'the human was their first meeting' is what gets me. Perhaps a comma after was would help indicate that 'was' goes with 'human' and not with 'their first meeting.' Hope that makes sense.

"A third walked directly them.." I think you ment 'to them.'

"The first was the food delivery, though Lindo.....“being too impolite” under questioning." This sentence is rather long and a little hard to digest. I had to read several times before it sank in ( the small font that this website automatically places text in doesn't help either)! I would suggest breaking it up into two sentences. You could probably get rid of the word 'though' and end the sentence. The next sentence would then begin with 'Lindo had been informed.."

Best of luck with this book! I am impressed thus far! Fantasy seems a challenging genre to write!

Margo Seuss
Courtesy of the Constructive Critics


This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


kept me on the edge of my seat

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thanks! This is definitely one of several darker chapters (=
Interesting and captivating read, truly enjoyed thanks for sharing

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thank you for reading and for the kind review!
Hi,
You have created a strong setting and made if feel real. I now care about your two heroes and I'm feeling the concern that they may or may not make it. So you have planted the seed that "anything" can happen.
Here are a few suggestions.
"What day was it? What was the time? It could still be January, or it could be April." The addition of: ". . .or it could be April." Decreases the impact of his loss of time.
I think that if you tighten up the first paragraph it will carry a serious punch. The scene will have the stark harsh pain and confusion that is there without any distractions.
"Lindo shuddered at the memory of pain akin to accidentally touching a heated pot." The description isn't needed here. His shudders are enough to convey the emotion.
Then, to Lindo, he’d remarked “why follow what I’m assuming was orders to not tell me anything from someone who clearly does not care about you any more than he does about grains of sand by the sea?”
"assuming was. . ." try reading this without those two words and see if the sentence is stronger.
"Folco showed every sign of crumbling beneath the heavy implications against his character." This sentence says a great deal about Folco. could you tighten it up? Make us see his wavering, his near "crumbling" vs telling us he is about to?
Strong characters. You've painted a good picture of the setting.
Thank you
Nonnye

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Hey Nonnye!
Thanks so much for taking the time to review. I'm glad to hear I've yielded those.. read more
This is extremely entertaining, my dear. I constantly marvel at your imagination. Now you have me thinking about a name for the race of characters you've created. One small thing you might want to rewrite; at one point you say "a pair of auburn hair and pitiless hazel eyes."

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thanks so much as always for the extremely kind review! I've made the edit, deleting the words "a pa.. read more

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Added on April 18, 2014
Last Updated on January 26, 2015
Tags: prince, prisoner, treason, justice, crime, punishment, suffering, pain, torture, fear, death, betrayal, execution


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SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

Long Island, NY



About
My name is Cher Armstrong, also known as Speedy Hobbit. I'm a USATF athlete in racewalking for the Raleigh Walkers club team. I just graduated from Queens College in Queens borough in New York Ci.. more..

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