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Chapter 23: Even Failure is a Teacher
Date Published: March 23rd, 2016
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Arc 2: The Power of Knowledge
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〘〙= Status, Combat Arts & Magical Spells
〚〛= Internal Thoughts
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Chapter 23: Even Failure is a Teacher
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Suddenly a Starlight Spark Corporal walked into the Conference Room. Bowden motioned him over to him and he whispered into Bowden’s ear.
Bowden : " Make your Report Corporal"
Corporal : " Yes Sir"
The Corporal looks over at Elrick.
Elrick : " Proceed!"
Corporal : " Message from Faction High Command; 「A Labyrinth has manifested in the Coswe mine」. 「A local Low Level Boss Monster sighted」. 「Entire Raid Group Lost to the Boss Monster and its subordinates」. 「Requesting immediate assistance」."
The room goes silent.
Elrick : " What is it; what’s the Boss Monster?"
Corporal : " It’s a 「Greater PitRat」 Sir."
Egret Collins : " That’s it; Rodion’s Commission is a failure."
Lady Lorelei : " Yeah"
Everyone seems to sigh in resignation.
Elrick : " Really? Just like that?"
Lady Lorelei : " It can’t be helped"
Bowden : " Thank you Corporal; inform Chief Mithriliar that we are on our way."
Corporal : " Yes sir"
The Corporal disappears as he logs back into Realm Eternal.
Elrick : " Isn’t it just a PitRat?"
Lady Lorelei : " No; It’s a 「Greater PitRat」 we’re dealing with. It would be called a Demon PitRat if it was normally available near Towns and Cities. But it doesn’t matter at this point we have no capacity to defeat a Golem in the form of a Labyrinth."
Elrick : " Right; I forget that Labyrinths in Realm Eternal are actually a naturally occurring Golem."
Lady Lorelei : " It would take a king rank Earth Mage to located and destroy the Golem’s Core. Rodion’s Commission is not aligned with the requirements."
Elrick : " You think they set us up?"
Lady Lorelei : " By the looks of things it’s a new Labyrinth, but it’s highly unlikely that they didn’t notice. It’s more likely they used us to buy themselves more time; our success or failure was inconsequential to them. It’s our fault for taking up Rodion’s Commission without conducting a full analysis.”
Elrick : " Bastards! Milady; Are you going out there?"
Lady Lorelei : " Yes; I have to. It is at time like this that a leader has to step up; to raise the spirits of those you lead in the midst of despair."
Elrick looks like someone in awe of Lady Lorelei; his mouth curves upwards to reveal a broad smile.
Elrick : " As expected of the Lady Lorelei."
Lady Lorelei : " Bowden; I’ll see you out there?"
Bowden : " Yes Milady."
Lady Lorelei : " Elrick; walk me out"
Elrick : " Okay"
As Lorelei follows Elrick out of the conference room she notices that instead of heading for the door he heads for the Executive office; he’d properly understood that she would like to talk to him privately before she heads back to Realm Eternal.
Lady Lorelei : " I just wanted to give you feedback on the combat utilization on the 「OverSkill」 you discovered."
She speaks as she sits on one of the office sofas and Elrick retrieves 2 bottled drinks from the fridge.
Elrick : " Right; how was it in actual combat?"
Lady Lorelei : " It’s a true 「OverSkill」; capable of briefly overwhelming a near-peer in mêlée. However I’m concerned that its combat utilization is restricted by the ability to process the information coming through from the use of the side-effect of using the 〘Analyze〙 spell leaving the target wrapped in your Mana thus giving hints about the target’s movements and skill activation.”
Elrick : " I see"
Elrick : " I’ve also noticed that it’s a little cumbersome, and I also deduced that it would be difficult to effectively use the 「OverSkill」 in combat. So I started coming up with methods to reduce the severity of the shortcomings."
Elrick : " The only way is to grow smarter and improve our mental reflexes."
Lady Lorelei : " That’s what we came up with last time; unless your saying you found a way to speed-up the process?"
Elrick : " I don’t know if it would improve our mental disciplines, but I thing it would make using the 「OverSkill」 in combat a lot easier."
A slight frown flashes across Lorelei’s face and is replaced by a wry smile.
Lady Lorelei : " What do you have?"
Elrick : " In my Memory Imprints there’s some info about military research that tried to bond people to Level 3 Golems; the experiments were disastrous but they may hold the key."
Lady Lorelei : " Just what sort of Memory Imprints did you get?"
Lorelei’s face shows a worried look.
Elrick : " My Memory Imprints were unconventional but nothing dangerous; just someone who had a lot of access during his long career."
Lady Lorelei : " I hope so. In any case since Golems are so important to security on Ado we at Falcros took a look at them and came upon the same research; Golem implants are dangerous. The Golems had a nasty habit of overwhelming tendency to overwhelm the mind of the host. Level 3 Golem implants are only Viable for people with over 5000 EXP in 《Intelligence》, 《Wisdom》 and 《Knowledge》."
Elrick : " That only applies to implants using Level 3 Military Grade Combat Golems, and that means a Level 3 Golem optimised for maximum firepower using a Class 5 Golem Core. As you know Golem Core range from Class 1 to 10; a Class 1 Golem Core is the ones used in Cleaning Gels, Slimes and other rudimentary bots. A Class 10 Golem Core is capable of running an entire planet; or more accurately a Class 10 Golem Core coordinates the Class 9 to Class 7 that run systems on a planet."
Elrick : " That’s exactly what I’m saying; it’s the only viable method. We strip out the other functions of the Golem Core’s programming and turn it into an analysis engine. A Class 4 Golem Core at 3.2cm diameter is small enough to fit in the brain, or we could choose a Class 5 Golem Core at 10.7cm diameter and implant it within the Chest; perhaps even both."
Lady Lorelei : " It could work."
Elrick recognizes from the look in Lorelei’s face that she’s in deep thought; considering what he’s been saying. As not to disrupt her thoughts Elrick quietly waits for several minutes as she considers her options.
Elrick : " Well?"
Lady Lorelei : " My cursory assessment suggests that implanting a Class 4 Golem Core is feasible, but the Class 5 Golem Core is impractical."
Elrick : " Impractical; why?"
She shoots him an incredulous look.
Lady Lorelei : " For starters implanting a Class 5 Golem Core in the Chest or anywhere in the body would move around things; reducing mobility and associated capabilities. Then there’s the problem of the fact that it’s processing capability is so high that you’ll end-up with a lot of surplus capacity. Then there’s the cost; Class 1 = 1 Gold Coins, Class 2 = 10 Gold Coins, Class 3 = 50 Gold Coins, Class 4 = 100 Gold Coins and Class 5 = 500 Gold Coins. It’s impractical."
Elrick : " I see"
Elrick can’t help feeling slightly depressed.
Lady Lorelei : " Really? Don’t get so depressed and make me look like some kind of naysayer. It’s impractical, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete no-no; especially for a rearguard."
Elrick quickly brightens up and a smile replaces the frown on his face.
Elrick : " Then I’ll take both."
Lady Lorelei : " More importantly; this discovery can’t be kept secret."
Elrick : " What do you mean?"
Lady Lorelei : " This has Real World Applications, and that means Real World Consequences. This is the sort of thing that if kept secret people will kill for, and I don’t want either of us to get killed to protect the secret once the major players realize that you’ve cracked Augmented Intelligence; Virtually that is."
Elrick : " Oh?"
Elrick : " Damn-it! In my excitement over my discoveries I failed to recognize the danger the both of us in. I hadn’t realized that this is important to both Prions and Lanteans. Damn-it!"
Lady Lorelei : " It’s Alright …."
For a moment Lorelei is taken aback by Elrick’s reaction and the expression on her face turns serious.
Lady Lorelei : " Elrick I need you to understand that I’m not some sheltered girl; I’m a grown woman who has lived."
Elrick : " I do understand."
Lady Lorelei : " No you don’t! Otherwise you wouldn’t try to put me on a pedestal and truly be my friend. If we are to make our friendship work and be Lifelong Companions we will invariably add to each other’s trouble, but we will also help carry each other’s burdens; that’s what it means Elrick."
Elrick : " I’ll I… I’ll try harder"
Lady Lorelei : " Good. I’ll make sure that you get the credit for linking the Golems of Realm Eternal with Augmented Intelligence. Then I suspect things will get rough for us for a while, but it’ll die down in a few months. You’ll be famous for a while longer, but you can handle it. Everything will be alright Nabi; I’ll make sure of it."
Elrick : " Thanks Estelle"
She stands up and gives the worried Elrick a tight hug and when she feels him relax in her arms she lets go and vanishes into Realm Eternal.
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On Vampira (one of the 5 hidden Vampire Worlds) the Continental invasion had been blunted by an unexpected enemy. The crafty Vampires had released a virus that caused the body to release Mana. The effects of the Mana virus lasts for 10 to 25 days but it was enough to force the Asgard Continental Republic’s Armies to retreat to their Beachhead; essentially putting an end to their advance across vampire lands.
The withdrawal of the Asgard Continental Republic’s Armies would give the vampires the room to reorganize their armies that had been crippled by the speed of the invading force. This was crucial time without which they would be in serious danger of collapsing. But now that the Asgard Continental Republic’s Armies had been blunted the vampires were confident that the situation would turn into a war of attrition.
The vampires understood that the Asgard Continental Republic would not fight a war of attrition; the Continentals valued their people too much to waist them in an unending war. The vampires understood that as soon as the continentals predicted a war of attrition they would hastily pull out their armies and return to ado. However it was unlikely that the Continentals would abandon their beachhead and the vampires understood that it was only a matter of time before the continentals send the Immortal Atlantians to whittle away at the vampire legions.
None of the Demon races had predicted that the Continentals would conceive of something as nefarious as the Immortal Atlantians. All the Demons understood that the Atlantians are weak, but they recognized that the Atlantians are also Immortal, Fearless and completely under Continental control. The Continentals held the only key to Atlantian Rebirth; the 『Eldar』Stone. There was no conceivable method to tempt the Atlantians away from the Continentals.
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Safely back on Chaos Island Elrick’s thoughts couldn’t help but be about Golems and Labyrinths. He questioned himself about why he hadn’t heard anything on the forums about there being Labyrinths on Chaos Island. He postulated that it’s very likely that there are Labyrinths but none of the users have ever encountered one; after all the environment on Chaos Island is already more dangerous than the standard Labyrinth on Ado. Though he couldn’t help wondering what sort of creature would the Labyrinth’s Golem Core would allow to take-up residence.
The existence known as Labyrinth is in fact a Golem born from the exposure of an Elemental Wisp to a Mana Event. The most common Mana Incidence to result in a Labyrinth is a Lightning strike. More Labyrinths are born from lightning strikes than any other incident. In the Mana rich environments of the Arello Galaxy the atmospheres are saturated with Mana thus making lightning strikes Mana Events.
The Arello Galaxy is full of ancient Labyrinths; some of whom have reached God rank in magical capacity and therefore spawning unique ecosystems to sustain their Mana requirements. Labyrinths allow monsters that don’t represent a threat to them to take up residence and thus create a symbiotic relationship where the Labyrinth offers shelter and protection while the monsters supply the Labyrinth with Mana gained by feeding on vegetation or monsters outside the Labyrinth.
Elrick continued what he calls his work of ages; the mining. Over the months Elrick had steadily forgotten about his schedule and prioritized mining the rare minerals because they represented real value. Even so to actually mine and stockpile the ores required the use of the 『Mining』 Skill, 『Appraisal Magic』 and【Alchemy Magic】 to compact the Ores for storage.
In Elrick’s opinion the Ant meat was worse than shit through sheer grit he ate it day in and day out; conserving his original food for moment when he couldn’t take the Ant meat anymore. The Ant meat was indicative of the high muscle density of a creature that possessed a 《Strength》 and 《Durability》 over 1000 EXP. That made the Ant meat extremely hard forcing Elrick to boil it before trying to fry it; boiling in spices like a stew is the only way he could get the meat to absorb spices.
Elrick had previously thought that he would one day eat the exotic meats of legendary beasts like Wyverns and Dragons but now he understood that it would be impossible in the foreseeable future given the difference in the 《Strength》 and 《Durability》 Stat; you need muscle to chew after all. Right now Elrick was struggling with the Ant meat and in his opinion eating it is hell. The one benefit of such hard meat is that chewing the meat counts as exercise.
Overlooking his stockpile of Ores Elrick immediately realized that he wouldn’t have enough space in his various inventories to stow all the ores he can mine despite all his compacting. Elrick had been using the Basic 〘Matter Conversion〙 Set, and the Basic 〘Synthesis〙 Set of 【Alchemy Magic】 to convert small ores into larger Ores until they reached the maximum size for an single item to fit inside a Magic Chest; which given that the Magic Chest can hold an entire buffalo meant the ores could reach a significant size.
The larger the Item being manipulated by 【Alchemy Magic】 the greater the Mana requirements. Fortunately for Elrick his Mana capacity had reached a level where he could now manipulate large items. Since 〘Matter Conversion〙 would require exhaustive sorting Elrick decide to rely 〘Synthesis〙 on to save time. Elrick reasoned that he would have plenty of time to refine the ores once he was able to use 【Earth Magic】.
Elrick had brought with him 2 Magic Bags of Holding that contained 3 Hunters Lears, 6 of the 10,000 capacity Magic Chest and a Magic Toilet variation of the 10,000 capacity Magic Chest with 10,000 of the 50litre capacity containers. However doing his basic analysis Elrick concluded that given the overall space available to him he would still come up short. The ores represented an unexpected boon for Elrick and he was keen to gain as much profit as possible from his incarceration.
Elrick kicked himself thinking that he should have expected that Chaos island would be chalk full of rare minerals given that it was made by the Ancients who possessed sufficient exotic energy sources to build the original Asgard. Deliberately coming back to Chaos Island was not a viable option Elrick because he had a lot of objectives and every day spent on Chaos Island made it a day harder to fulfil his objectives; not to mention that it left Starlight without its sole Prion.
Elrick’s answer came in the form of cargo holds; he would cannibalize the 2 remaining Hunter’s Lears to fashion massive cargo holds out of the tough exoskeletons of the Army Ants. The one impediment for Elrick is the dangerous Fungal Spore-Seed of the Crystal Plant. Since he’d learnt that heat could kill the Spore-Seeds he decided that his best option was to cook the exoskeletal carapaces of the Army Ants.
Therefore in one on of the smaller caverns he had managed to dig out he used his cooking set and all other items that could generate heat to make a large oven. Once the oven was complete he could cook the carapaces of the Ants until they were safe to use in the construction of massive cargo holds. Elrick would not allow his windfall to go to waist; his arduous toiling away on Chaos Island would be profitable enough to compensate him for his lost time if he had anything to say about it.
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Mining is difficult work and ordinarily you’d have to dig up a thousand times more dirt than ore, but Chaos Island is different; it was made by the Ancients. Ado treaties prevented countries from mining Chaos Island but an individual was free to mine to their hearts content. The problem with mining on Chaos Island is that large scale mining would attract the monstrosities that populate the prison known as Chaos Island.
The existence of Magic changed the way mining is done, and an Earth Mage could do the work of thousands of men using their hand held implements. In fact Earth Mages can do a far better job than heavy machinery, and not even Golems can match Earth Mages in mining. Such is the effect of Magic and the reason that even Elrick could conceive of digging a 1000km tunnel by himself; the reason being that it wouldn’t be that hard for a dedicated team of Earth Mages.
Elrick’s target minerals on Chaos Island are Isotopes of Gold, Silver, Platinum, Iron, Titanium, Varodium, Mithril and Oriculcum. Elrick considered himself extremely lucky for him to have found Oriculcum which is as rare as Mithril and more user-friendly. Oriculcum can be considered a universal magical catalyst metal; able to bond with most metals to produce magical alloys. Oriculcum Steel is probably the most widespread use of Oriculcum; producing a metal 50 times better than carbon steel.
Higher 〘Matter Conversion〙 of Oriculcum produces Oura; a metal that rivals Uru in properties. Combining Mithril and Oriculcum produces a number of high strength alloys including Andaril which is popularly known as Adamantium. Given the widespread uses of Oriculcum it’s easily one of the most valuable of the rare metals, and some isotopes of Oriculcum are even more valuable than commonly available Uru.
Elrick was elated when he stumbled upon a small vein of Oriculcum and he hoped that it would be enough to buy the Magical Heritage he was after. On Ado possessing an extensive magical knowledge in the form of a Magical Heritage is extremely important for Crafters and it allows you to create your own unique spell formulas that can be imbedded on exclusive items.
In Realm Eternal repeating a crafting action won’t create a recipe, and similarly repeating a set of actions won’t create a skill. Both skills and recipes require spell formula, and the ability to direct Mana flow by designing runic pathways is gained through study. To gain such knowledge individuals spend years at academies perfecting their craft or they acquire the relevant Magical Heritage; though in some instances a Memory Imprint would be sufficient.
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It happened several RWT days later; the disclosure that Nova Horizon had Failed to complete Rodion’s Commission was overshadowed by Nova Horizon’s revelation that implanting a Realm Eternal Class 4 Golem Core into the Brain of a Realm Eternal body would grant the user computational capabilities of a 100 Petaflop Computer; a discovery Dr Estelle Lorelei van Onsling (PhD in Microbiology UCT) attributed to one Nabi Elrick (Managing Director of Starlight Spark).
In the over 20 television interviews Dr Lorelei van Onsling conducted with major broadcasters over the next few days she thoroughly explained what the discovery meant; the world’s brilliant people would suddenly become a great deal smarter than they were already. What that meant was that the world of the future was suddenly at hand and the best scientists in every institution would spearhead the development of the most exotic technologies previously thought to require decades of further study.
Even Nabi Elrick was forced to conduct a number of television interviews explaining the processes that lead to his discovery. On Atlantis the Divine Council of the Sacred Sacrament which boosted influence that rivalled the Council of the Sword proclaimed Elrick a Sacred Acolyte; Luminary Pathfinder of the Highest Order. The Divine Council of the Sacred Sacrament is and organization of those dedicated to Virtual Reality Magic (previously MMORPG Magic).
Elrick being an aspirant mage was excited about being proclaimed a Sacred Acolyte and readily accepted an invitation to attend the public ceremony at the Atlantis Central Squire where the Divine Council of the Sacred Sacrament would confer upon him the Title of Sacred Acolyte meaning that all affiliates would henceforth address him as Proctor. Bubbling with excitement Elrick revealed that despite all his growth he was still a geek and this was an opportunity to geek-out in celebration with the other Realm Eternal geeks.
However nothing could have prepared Elrick for the effect of taking centre-stage; hundreds of thousands had shown-up to bear witness. Such is the power of Wilson Archibald; the High Proctor of the Divine Council of the Sacred Sacrament. The fact that Wilson Archibald is a Prion is unknown to most but his closest companions and other Prions. The fact that Wilson Archibald would bestow such honour upon Elrick was indicative of the earth shaking power of Elrick’s discovery.
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Elrick’s gain in prestige not withstanding the revelation of the path to Augmented Intelligence had created a seismic shift in power. The Lanteans were already moving to contain the fallout, but they were already too late; Pandora’s Box had been opened and the Lantean work of ages would lie in ruin in its wake. As expected of Prions Elrick and Lorelei had thrown a giant spanner in the carefully crafted machinery and the damage could not be undone.
Already Governments that possessed an 『AIVRE』 were already moving to duplicate the effect of implanting a Realm Eternal Class 4 Golem Core into the Brain of a Realm Eternal body on their own systems. However duplication is not a simple matter and though inevitable they couldn’t afford to wait. The code of an 『AIVRE』 is in simple terms an operating system for Virtual Intelligences, and the parallel processing of thousands of units gives it the computing power to host billions of Virtual Intelligences.
Thus isolating a specific constantly changing Virtual Intelligence code and analysing it would prove to be a significant challenge complicated by the fact that the Phoenix Consortium had deliberately made it impossible for them to alter the Realm Eternal Simulation. Therefore those seeking to duplicate the discovery would have to follow Logical Progression and build an environment where users could be virtually implanted with something similar to a Realm Eternal Golem Core.
Countries not possessing an 『AIVRE』 and the large numbers of independent corporations would take the simple path of sending expeditions into Realm Eternal in a race to reach the potential benefits the minds of their best thinkers might uncover. Tens of billions of dollars would flow into Realm Eternal as Corporations sought to establish a base of operations in Realm Eternal. The lack of Hypnotic Induction Full Immersion Capsule Pod more commonly known as 『Hipno Pod』 meant that the average users with a scientific degree would be recruited into working for the Global Conglomerates seeking to gain an advantage.
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The scale of what was happening just a few weeks after the revelation surprised Elrick. His Prion mind predicted the impact of virtual reality on global trade but what was happening was completely outside his calculus. Elrick had thought that industries would collapse and countries with efficient State Owned Enterprises and good State Public Health Care would fare far better that the heavily privatized countries such as the United States, but his discovery would generate a cluster of uncertainties.
Elrick couldn’t fully understand what was happening and it would take time for even Prions to gather enough information to even attempt a reasonable forecast of the future. For that matter Elrick and the other Prions had to re-evaluate their place in the grand design because very soon there would be thousands of people whose intellect exceeds that of the average Prion. On the other hand Augmented Prions could become something fearsome.
Elrick’s biggest concern was the Lantean action; a millennia old power doesn’t falter so easily. Elrick along with many Prions worried over the choice the Lanteans would make; and if their reading of ancient history was correct the Lanteans would not shy away from taking direct action if they believed it could regain them the advantage. The Lanteans were the biggest wild card in this entire scenario, and if they chose to move then humanity would face destruction in days.
Fortunately Lanteans are not Homogenous and some may side with humanity if things came to a ahead. Elrick couldn’t avoid responsibility for unwittingly bringing the situation to the precipice. To Elrick’s bewilderment the vast majority of Prions found the dangerous situation exhilarating. Elrick then realised that he’s an oddity amongst Prions since most Prions detest being under the oppressive Lantean Thumb. Elrick on the other hand simply wanted to survive and live out his days in peace and security.
Like other Prions Elrick couldn’t avoid the consequences of his desire for knowledge; the curse of being Prion is the unquenchable thirst for knowledge. It’s a fate no Prion can Avoid, and it is that thirst for knowledge that makes Prions incompatible with whatever nefarious plans Lanteans have for humanity; assuming that Lanteans actually have nefarious intensions. It was not outside the realm of possibility that the Lanteans were actually working for the best interest of humanity.
However; few if any Prions ever believed that Lanteans were friendly and Elrick wasn’t one of them. He firmly believed that Lanteans represented an existential threat to Humanity; it’s just that until now he thought there wasn’t much humanity could do against their overwhelming power. But now things were different, and humans could close the 10,000 year technological gap in decades thanks to Virtual Reality.
Elrick believed that if the Lanteans blink humanity would stand a chance in 20 – 50 years. Technology would advance at such a rapid pace that by the time the Lanteans resolved to take action it would already be too late; they would have lost the initiative and war would produce casualties on both sides; something they’re not used to. Elrick knew that the days of him keeping his head down were over; he was famous the world over and every move he made would come under scrutiny.
Elrick resolved to use that fame to his advantage; he could no longer run and hide. He would have to fight; for his family, for his friends, for Lorelei.
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The reason for this time’s long delay is that I had originally wrote it that Lorelei agrees to keep the Golem Implants secret. But in the next chapter Logical Progression demanded that both Elrick and Lorelei die in real life because the Lanteans wouldn’t just wait around for a bomb to blow up in their faces.
The other problem is that if they’re the only 2 with Golem Implants it would essentially make them OP; so I had to avoid that Power Creep. Everything special about one person in Realm Eternal has to be reasonably achievable by the next person.
Consequently I had to rewrite this chapter and the next one thereby changing the direction I had intended to take the story.
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