Feeling of weightlessness attacked them at the same time of passing through the gate.
Shia and others were falling to the forest below them with the large army behind them, but as expected from the elite force. Not even one of them made a blunder that injured them, everyone safely landed inside the forest.
「Now! We are rushing through right away!」
Shia vigorously ordered with the roaring sound of battle behind. Without pause she took the lead and ran inside the forest.
The cloudy sky and the leaves of the thick forest interrupted the light of the sky. The inside of the forest was eerily dark. Louis immediately created light sphere that illuminated the front.
A giant boar rushed from the side. It assaulted Shia with a charge that could destroy a five, six floored concrete building with one attack.
「Make wayyy! Desuu!!」
*PAAN* The sound of the air rupturing echoed while Shia unleashed an attack that surpassed the speed of sound with her war hammer. It crashed into the nose of the boar spirit beast. Terrific shockwave was produced and the boar resisted for an instant, but Vire Drucken was swung to finish right after that.
The giant body was sent flying while snapping through trees. It was literally hit back toward the path it came from.
Shia twirled around and advanced forward as though nothing had happened.
「It looks like not the whole force was heading toward Hajime-san’s direction. Everyone, please be careful!」
「O, of course!」
Eric responded as the representative, but if he was asked whether they could instant killed a giant boar like just now, it was really doubtful. He was more or less the strongest of Balted Kingdom, and the demon king along with the beast king were also here. They would have no problem just driving it away but, doing it without even a pause was really……
「Although, we cannot whine here. Your majesty Arogan, can I leave the left side to you?」
「Who are you speaking to. We will take care of this side no matter what comes.」
「Then leave the rear to us of the beast kingdom.」
In respond to Louis’s words, Arogan slightly recovered his thoroughly broken pride and began to focus at the left side along with the elites of his country, while the people of beast kingdom under Gruelle started to take responsibility for the rear.
Eric pulled out the divine spirit arms, the great sword Tarnada while opening his mouth.
「Dahlia, we will take care of the offense. I’ll leave the enemy search and support to you. After all you’re the best in those.」
「Got it. I won’t let anything to hinder Shia-sama.」
「……Eh? Dahlia, just now, you talked casually――」
‘What?’ the gaze from Dahlia wasn’t filled with even a shred of respect. Eric averted his gaze from that. At the same time he thought, ‘This girl, she has completely changed who her master is……’. Just where the emotion as childhood friend and the bond they had raised together until now had gone to……
What’s more, what’s more, that man! Or rather is it true that he has a daughter! Is it a daughter with Shia!? Is that it!?
「Your majesty……I understand your feeling but, right now focus.」
「My, my bad, Louis.」
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「No, I really, understand your majesty feeling so well it’s painful goddammit bastard-」
Louis who always had polite bearing, the calm and collected wise and strongest person of the kingdom was naturally letting out a curse that no one had ever heard from him even once before.
At the same time, a super offensive flame spear naturally flew out, stabbing at the giant monkey that leaped out from the right bush. Furthermore, the spear immediately burst into brightly burning blaze. It seemed that the spear at least avoided the spirit stone but, it was filled with frightful amount of power, a single attack of extreme killing intent.
It was as though the spear was grandly filled with the outburst of anger of Louis-san.
Eric pretended to not see it.
Shia glanced at the members behind her who were like that before addressing the golden slime, aka Udar who was on her right shoulder.
「For the time being we’re heading to the center of the island but, is it alright?」
『Hm. This direction is correct.』
There, Shia suddenly noticed.
「Eh? Come to think of it, the star tree-san……it’s unexpectedly small?」
In Shia’s mind, the star tree was the center of the world so she imagined it to be gigantic. And then, for Shia when speaking about large tree, it would be the grand tree in her birthplace, Uralt.
From the image of the grand tree in her birthplace that boasted the height of more than 400 meters from the ground, it shouldn’t be strange for the star tree to be visible from that cliff.
And yet, she couldn’t see it.
Dahlia who heard Shia’s muttering answered her.
「Shia-sama! In the book it’s mentioned that the star tree-sama is a giant tree that pierced the sky!」
Then, why couldn’t they see it……
『Obviously because it’s in hiding.』
The one who brought the answer was the red slime, aka the divine spirit of fire circle Soare who was spreading limply on Shia’s head.
The condescending way of speaking caused the expression of Eric and others to turn complicated. They put up their guard vigilantly against the surrounding while lending their ear.
『Hah, it’s pointless even if you make that kind of face. The likes of you all――』
「Soare-san, Soare-san, what do you mean?」
『-!? Yo, you want me to teach you?』
For some reason, slime Soare was jiggling weakly. Her atmosphere was like a girl who was fidgeting when getting spoken to by a person she was interested to.
「Yes. Please teach me, Soare-san.」
『Wha, what to do now? I’m, not a cheap woman like that after all? Bu, but, if Shia really want to know no matter what――』
『A barrier. Mother can interfere with space. She is distorting the space to hide her appearance.』
The earth colored slime――the divine spirit of earth Oros who was riding on the left shoulder easily gave the answer. The figure of Soare-san going 「Mukiii~~~」 while biting on a handkerchief could be easily imagined.
It seemed she wanted to give the answer to Shia. The revenge for the snatching of that role came in the form of her materializing small fire balls with puffing sound *popopo* which she threw toward Oros.
Soare-san who received the whip of the demon king before being given the carrot from his wife was completely lowering her guard toward Shia……and it didn’t stop there, she was trying to attract Shia’s attention like a girl in puberty.
What an easy god. She should be called the divine spirit of fire circle Choare-san. (Note: Combination from choroi (easy/simple) and Soare.)
Shia smiled wryly at such Choare while and asked further in order to console & erase her worry.
「Er~r, Soare-san. That barrier, is it a type that won’t allow physical approach?」
『! Yes, yes, most likely it’s something like that. In order to protect herself from the ugly attack of that ugly man too, surely mother did something like that.』
‘How’s that, the one Shia is asking! The one Shia is relying on! Is this Soare-san!’ As though to say that, Choare puffed up her chest (?) *poyon* and answered. She had no eyes, but it was obvious that her focus was directed to Oros. Oros was emitting an atmosphere that seemed to say 「Annoying」 to a great degree.
There was already not a trace left of her vestige at the beginning. Over there was a really hopeless god.
Toward such hopeless Choare, Shia’s voice was……
The word that was implicitly saying 「What are you doing dissing a person’s husband, huhh」 caused Choare to twitch and jiggle.
『-!? Wha, what!? That’s the truth! Aa!? You want to have a go-, youuu-! I’m telling you it’s pointless even if you make scary voice like that! Aa!?』
Choare hopped *pyon* and leaped to the chest of Dahlia who was running right behind.
Dahlia was completely bewildered from the divine spirit clinging on her. Even throughout history, a member of human race embracing a slime divine spirit was really rare. Dahlia was slightly trembling at the miraculous situation even while holding Choare firmly in her arms.
That Choare was trembling even more intensely than Dahlia. The parts that stretched out elastically from both her sides were covering her head (?) while she was shaking all over. It looked exactly like a divine spirit charis○ guard……
Rather than a bluff, it was already just an emotionally instable god.
「Aa~, it’s alright, Soare-san. I’m not angry at you.」
As expected, seeing the figure of the extremely pitiful god (temp), Shia smiled wryly while beckoning with her hand. Choare glanced and jiggled several times as though asking 『Really, really? You aren’t lying? You aren’t planning to do terrible thing to me when I return after you told me you aren’t angry?』.
By the way, the spirit beasts were attacking even during this moment. Most of them were taken care of by Shia casually, but Eric and others were relatively desperate with their part.
It was a truly indescribable scene amidst the tension and the roaring sound of battle.
The one who first sighed was her brethren.
『Ah!? Udar!? What are you doing! I’m not that kind of cheap woman who will return that easily for he――ah, stop it, Oros! You are calling yourself a divine spirit while doing something like thi――Ah!?』
Leaving Shia’s shoulders, Udar fired electricity that paralyzed Choare, and using that opening Oros violently grabbed and threw her.
*Poyon* Choare returned to the top of Shia’s head. Like that she limply melted out *mojowa~* and became unresponsive, like a corpse.
「Sa, say, Oros-san? Udar-san? Soare-san is unresponsive there.」
『We directly pounded honesty into her to make her quiet.』
『Shia, don’t mind it. We were just unable to watch her just now.』
「I, I see. No, but still. On my head a slime is spreading out like it’s splattered there, so I’m normally bothered though……」
It was like she was being eaten by a slime from her head.
Eric who hit back a large divine spirit beast in the form of bee with his divine spirit arms muttered with a faraway look even while breathing slightly roughly.
「Hey, Louis. Can you believe it? Those people, the divine spirits……」
「Your majesty, I know what you want to say.」
「I, was desperate, for the sake of today, this day. Even now, I’m risking my life……」
「I knooow really well what you want to say. Please keep your composure.」
Right now they should be in the middle of mankind salvation plan. Ahead of this path, the answer whether human’s fate would meet its end or not was waiting.
Within such critical moment, in such extreme situation, why were they watching an unprecedented strange occurrence like a comedy skit of divine spirits……
Arogan and others of the demon race, and also Gruelle and others of the beast race were feeling exactly the same like Eric and co. It was the moment when their heart became one in the negative place.
While that was happening, light came into view ahead of the forest.
『We’re going out of the forest! Mother is right before our eyes! Ready your resolve, o children of man!』
Udar’s yell blew away the conflicted feeling of Eric and others.
Like that, the moment Shia rushed out of the forest,
A vision of death. What came into view was a compressed space. Shaking atmosphere. And then, the maximum impact that thoroughly blew away the outer edge of the forest and the ground.
(Yue-san’s space blastingQuaking Sky!?)
Shia knew very well of the threat from shockwave that was brought about by space itself. If it was Shia then it was possible to weather it using “half-teleportation”.
But, what about Eric and others?
There was no time to hesitate. Even if there was nothing that could be done, they would die if she didn’t do it. It would be a violation of her promise to guide them toward the door that opened to the future.
She stepped firmly on the ground, blazed out her faint bluish white magic power, and entered Level X instantly.
Vire Drucken was swung with speed far surpassing the speed of sound, pulverizing the sound barrier to smithereens.
Just the after wave from that blew away Eric and others who rushed out from the forest right after Shia at this time. Shia was literally hammering a result into being.
The distorted and compressed space returned to normal, which produced a severe quake at the same time. Vire Drucken was pounded into the center of that, however, it didn’t swing through till the end but crashing into space itself, dealing a severe vibration to it.
――Shia-style space magic Pseudo Gura Gu○ Fruit
She struck a bursting space with a bursting space of her own. At the center of that clash, the ground was hoisted up and the air burst out.
Even while Eric and others were struck back into the forest, they barely managed to lie down on the ground and clung on the plants, then they used divine spirit arms or spirit art to use barrier to endure the shockwave.
They felt as though they were thrust with the fact that human couldn’t do anything at all in the situation that was like a nightmare. Human was only permitted to grovel on the ground like this, that was how they felt.
However, they were thinking like that was the proof that they were still in good health, what brought that on was,
「Shia-sama! Are you safe!?」
When the rampaging wind and shockwave settled down, Dahlia was the first one to raise her voice. Ahead of the ground that looked like it had been ploughed, she saw Shia standing imposingly.
Seeing Shia coughing, she was convinced that she was alive. Relieve ran through her whole body. But, the red stain making a splat on the ground caused not only Dahlia, but everyone to be horrified.
「Kuuh, she really got me……」
Shia vomited blood. It seemed the technique that she invented on the spot was unable to completely neutralize the attack. Her body received much of the impact and became damaged.
Eric and Dahlia spontaneously yelled. Shia’s correction instantly interrupted. She unexpectedly seemed to be alright.
『Are you safe, Shia?』
It seemed Choare was awakened by the impact. She was wriggling around on Shia’s head.
「Yes, I’m fine. Just this much will heal by itself even if I leave it alone. More importantly, is everyone okay?」
「We are……all present. Thank you, Shia, dono. You saved us.」
Pulverizing a shockwave that overturned heaven and earth right from the front, and not just that, even though she vomited blood she would heal even if it was left alone, what manliness. Eric and others let out a dry laugh while Dahlia looked ecstatic.
Shia was vigilant against any additional attack while looking around.
(Uwaa, this isn’t caused by the attack just now isn’t it……)
The scenery she saw was truly horrible.
Most likely, surely, this place that was surrounded by forest was originally a verdant plain, a tranquil place where pure small stream of a slender river could be heard running. There was no doubt that it was a place that truly like heaven.
Such place, now its ground was ploughed, countless rocks lied here and there or stabbing on the ground. At the center of those rocks were several craters. The green plain was carbonized and blackened, with black smoke rising up from several spots. The river was destroyed messily, with the ground turned into muddy state like in a wetland. The surrounding forest also had some place where fire was still burning.
It was exactly a place of tragedy that was just visited by a cataclysm.
Of course, that cataclysm was meteor, and the culprit was Shia’s hubby. It could be said that it couldn’t be helped, at that point of time it was like an inevitability but, when Shia saw this disastrous scene, she couldn’t help from leaking out a strange voice 「Uboa」 .
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『……No matter what kind of conclusion that mother decided, that man won’t bring destruction. That’s right isn’t it?』
Oros confirmed once more. ‘You can really, definitely, 100% hold back that demonic man right?’, he asked like that with a bit of desperation in his voice.
「If I’m beaten up viciously, or I die, or those kinds of thing happen, I won’t be able to guarantee it but……surely it’ll be fine!」
Oros held his head like Choare before this. He thought, ‘Really, just what terrible existence the children of man called her’.
「Anyway, let’s go! After all I cannot cover up everyone from that kind of impact every time!」
Eric and others recovered from their speechless state hearing Shia’s order and they followed behind the running Shia.
Like before, they couldn’t see anything at the center of the plain. What was reflected on their eyes were only the river at the other side, the mountains, and the cloudy sky.
But, Shia certainly sensed it.
Her rabbit ears were twitching, listening to the sound of wind. The movement of the wind at the center zone was obviously strange. She could hear the sound of the wind being partitioned by an invisible wall and flowing to other direction.
『Shia, what’ll you do?』
Udar represented the others and asked. He asked how would they entered to the place that was isolated spatially.
「I’ll smash it.」
『……Of course it is.』
Udar jiggled as though to say ‘Of course you’ll say that~’.
Shia stood at the boundary line that her rabbit ears informed her the position of, and brandished Vire Drucken high above her. What she would do was the same like before, a strike technique that directly struck at the space.
「Good afternoon! We come visiting!!」
*Knock knock knock*
The war hammer was giving a knocking that was extremely troublesome for the residence behind the door. The first attack cracked space itself, but a panicked repair was done immediately. But, the second attack immediately came. The crack spread even further. The third attack caused the destructive sound like glass breaking to resound.
The sigh that came into view ahead of them caused Eric and others to hold their breath.
「That’s……the star tree Lutria-sama……」
It was a gargantuan tree. A giant tree that must be reaching 400 meter above ground. The trunk was extremely thick, and the root couldn’t be seen. It was as though the root was deep inside the earth, as though what could be seen from the ground was from the middle of its trunk.
The leaves and branches were extending largely, giving the impression of a broad-mindedness that would envelope everything.
It was imperturbable, solemn, like a tree of star towering high at the center of the world that anyone couldn’t help but watching it in fascination.
Although, it was also clear that it was exhausted. The leaves looked like they had lost their vibrancy, and even the number itself looked few. It was in a state that couldn’t be said as “thriving” at all.
The trunk and branches were also dry, giving impression that it was somewhat like a dead tree.
Because of that, after feeling moved, the emotion that surfaced next inside Eric and others was sorrow.
Eric and others were at a lost of word.
But, their stupor was erased by a flustered voice that they had never heard until now.
「……Eh? Ho, ho……w? Eh? No way, an accidental resemblance with other person, I mean other giant tree?」
Yes, it was Shia who was shaken.
The unexpected look of Shia who was unperturbed no matter what time it was caused wondering gaze to gather.
But, Shia looked like she had no presence of mind to care about that.
Perhaps that couldn’t be helped.
After all, the tree was just too similar. With the tree of her birthplace that she was familiar with. The giant tree that had continued to stay withered without rotting since far away in the past, so big that it contained a great dungeon inside it, which showed its solemn figure due to regeneration magic――the grand tree Uralt.
Was it a coincidence?
No, obviously it was a coincidence. If not then what would it be?
Eric and others were also bewildered seeing the bewildered Shia……
『I’m unable to stop you……so, my fate has come to an end――』
A voice that echoed in the world resounded.
『My beloved children. Is that, the choice that you have made?』
It was a cool and clear voice that seemed transparent. However, it was a sad voice that emitted bitterness and despair somewhere in it.
“My beloved children”――anyone understood that those words weren’t directed to Eric and others.
The will of star tree Lutria was directed to the three divine spirits clinging on Shia.
Udar lightly floated while making his thought echoed.
『Mother, I abandoned my mission even while knowing of your anguish, I won’t ask you to forgive me for that. Still, mother, can you please listen to these children’s words just one more time?』
The star tree didn’t answer. Oros stepped forward at that interval of silence.
『I’m……I’m, unable to discover hope from the children of man. I’m here in this state because of my insufficient strength. If you believe that I’m unworthy as a divine spirit, then I will accept any kind of punishment that you decide. However mother, I only wish to ask you one thing. Are you really, won’t listen to the words of the children of man anymore?』
Actually, in this moment, wasn’t it the star tree Lutria who wished to listen to the words of the children of man one more time? That was the only source of hesitation that was remaining inside Oros’s heart.
But as expected, the star tree Lutria didn’t answer.
Soare tried to say something, however, she was unable to find any words and held her tongue. In her heart, she didn’t believe in something like the children of man reforming themselves. If she spoke honestly, she was simply in this situation because of her insufficient strength like Oros.
However, if she was asked whether she really didn’t feel anything at all, then she also wouldn’t be able to say anything. For the current Soare, she couldn’t find any reason to deny the wish of Eric and others who wished to express their atonement even if they wouldn’t be forgiven.
The hesitation that was shown for the first time by Soare who previously had no such doubt also wasn’t responded by the star tree Lutria.
『It can’t be helped』
She only made her voice that was colored with very deep sadness to resound,
「Wawah, Udar-san!? Oros-san, Soare-san!」
The three divine spirits scattered around particle while shining and vanishing. The surprised Shia anxiously thought if the star tree judged that the three might be betraying her and terminated them, but looking closer, she could see three faint lights inside the trunk of the star tree.
It seemed the star tree was taking in Udar and others into inside her.
She wondered just what was her intention……
That intention immediately became clear to see.
『I will resist, for the sake of the world. O woman of another world, know that my determination will never break.』
The star tree emitted light. Like the figure of brilliantly shining great tree in legend.
From the middle of that gigantic trunk, a human form appeared as though in substitution of Udar and others who were sucked in.
The converging light was gradually obtaining clearer form.
「……The star tree, Lutria’s……avatar」
It was beautiful. It even made everyone held their breath. It was extremely sublime.
Pure white garment, and snow white long hair. The skin was also white like snow, with faint light enveloping it. A great number of white spherical lights were revolving around her, like a star that was being served by many satellites.
Within the star tree Lutria that was displaying pure white from her everything, there was just one point, it was only her eyes that were slightly shining silver. Inside those eyes were sadness, and despair, and then resolve.
They distinguished it at least.
That just words would be impossible to do anything at this late.
If that was possible, then something like a divine punishment wouldn’t be handed down in the first place. A lot of children of man wouldn’t be killed. The decision that was handed down to the children of man who wouldn’t stop no matter how many times she exhausted all her words, wasn’t something which was that simple.
That decision was truly, the very last method that the star tree Lutria passed with a feeling as though her own heart was torn apart.
Surely, for Lutria it was like tearing apart her own body in proportion of how many the children of man were killed. Because she loved them, no, surely she was still loving them even now.
However, the world was already cornered to a despairing degree.
That was why, the mother wouldn’t stop. There was no way, she could stop.
The children of man, the children that she loved, she would――destroy them.
In order to save all other living things. For the sake of the future.
「That kind of future, it’s just too sad.」
Future was something that should be weaved for the sake of happiness.
At the very least, Shia lived believing that.
That was why,
「Star tree Lutria, prepare yourself! This Shia Hauria will beat that kind of future to death!」
‘I’ll make you lend a rabbit ear with means of brutality desuu!!’ Such fighting spirit was boiling up.
The signal of the start of battle was the shower of white light that Lutria fired.
Shia stepped on midair while charging into that maelstrom.
「I’ll fulfill my promise! Please show me-, how you oppose the fate!」
The words that Shia yelled were transmitted.
Shia’s words, and her figure that was sending back the destructive white light was so heroic it stirred the soul. It gave a kick on the butt to Eric and others.
「Tsu, Louis! The offering and the ceremony of prayer!」
「By your will! Move toward the root of the star tree!」
Balted force started running. Eric turned a sharp gaze toward Arogan and Gruelle and their men who were about to break into a run too.
Even without words, what he wanted to say was conveyed. Arogan smiled bitterly.
「I get it. After losing Tyrant and seeing the hero has no intention to take down the god, we have no other way except changing our plan. We won’t harbor unneeded ambition at this time.」
Those were really calculating words. But, it was far better compared to them using transparent words like 「We are repenting」 at this place.
Gruelle also shrugged and nodded. Fitting for an opportunism, he seemed intent to protect the previous promise of fully following the lead of Balted Kingdom.
Eric nodded to that and immediately followed behind Louis and others.
The knights of Balted Kingdom were each carrying a baggage on their back. They took out several large orbs that were two sizes bigger than a fist.
Originally, even a big spirit stone would only be as big as the tip of a thumb. From that it could be seen how absurdly big they were, they were worthy to be called as “treasured orb”. Naturally, they were filled with enormous spirit element that was collected from the populace.
Eric kneeled in front of the star tree. He put his hands together in front of his chest in a praying posture and began to pray with closed eyes wholeheartedly. At the same time, Louis used the art of restoration toward the spirit element stored inside the precious orbs.
Light particles rose from the piled up orbs, returning back to the star tree.
「Mother of all, star tree Lutria-sama! I beg you, please listen to our repentance-」
Eric’s words resounded.
There was something responding.
「Tsu, your majesty!」
Louis’s voice was tinged with anxiety. When he looked back over his shoulder, there was a spirit beast dragon forming from the ground right at that time. It opened its jaw and spirit element was visibly converging there.
「Prompt execution――”Wind’s Palisade”」
The one who moved the fastest was the demon king Arogan. The wind barrier that was focused on deployment speed blocked the dragon’s breath……but, as expected from a spirit beast existing in the turf of the star tree, it was in a different level.
Arogan’s barrier was easily scattered.
「The element is earth, compressed state, hardening formula triplication! ――”Rampart”!!」
Just before the barrier was blown away, a thick stone wall rose up like a rampart from the ground.
Surprisingly, the caster was Dahlia. It seemed she anticipated that Louis would be focused on the ceremony of offering and so she guarded the rear.
Dahlia’s barrier was firm, it was blocking the dragon’s breath even while it was getting shaved.
But, they couldn’t feel relieved from that.
「Tch, as expected we won’t even be allowed to make a single repentance huh……」
Arogan muttered with a bitter expression. Ahead of his gaze, the ground here and there was squirming. Those spots were taking shape, not just dragon, but also lion or bull. In addition, powerful spirit beasts were coming out in succession from the surrounding forest.
Eric’s expression twisted sorrowfully while he took the great sword Tarnada into his hand and stood up.
Since it had come to this, he was intending the other to continue the ceremony while they held back the assault of the spirit beasts. On the sky above, clashing sound and flashes were still flying around grandly. It was the proof of Shia fighting against the star tree, but conversely she had no leeway to face the spirit beast on the ground too.
「In the first place, the promise is to open the path until the star tree……we can only do this now.」
Eric who said those words was stopped by Gruelle’s hand.
「No, you continue your prayer. We will take them on.」
Gruelle smiled wryly at the suspicious Eric while transforming into dragon.
「……All this time, it was only you who was purely calling out for repentance and reformation. Rather than the prayer of a hundred of us, the prayer of you alone will be more resounding in the heart. In that case, we will at least do everything in our power for your sake.」
「……I’ll believe in those words. Take care.」
Eric nodded after a slight hesitation. He turned his back on the approaching spirit beasts and kneeled once more. And then, he began to offer his prayer wholeheartedly.
Gruelly’s wry smile deepened at that straightforward attitude. Arogan seemed to understand what was the meaning of that smile, he made the same expression while starting to face the spirit beasts.
「Facing against the spirits beasts that are mighty without equal without breaking their spirit stone while they can revive endlessly, now then, how far we will be able to resist……」
While he muttered such thing.
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