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Offline Evie

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Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« on: December 02, 2011, 09:41:49 am »
   Chapter Four
   
   St. Hilary’s Basilica, Rhemuth
   August 10, 1136


   "Sister Helena, may I have a few moments of your time in my study, please?"

   The magistra looked up in surprise from the alms basket she carried as she collected the last of the used trenchers for the Schola’s almoner to distribute to the poor along with the leftovers from the noon meal.  The last of the few students remaining at the Schola during the summer months were filing out of the refectory, the last two glancing back at the bishop in mild curiosity.  "Certainly, Father.  Is something amiss?"

   He waved the scholars on, smiling reassuringly at them as he answered, "Oh, no, nothing like that.  It's just...a matter of business has come up, and as it concerns you, I thought we should discuss it somewhere a bit more private."

   "Of course," Helena murmured, looking as puzzled as she felt as she followed him through the Basilica to his study.  He waved her in before him, leaving the door only partially open behind him in the familiar signal to other scholars and magistri that while he could be interrupted if necessary, some privacy was requested.  Customarily the door was left fully open if any of the female scholars or magistri were alone with the rector in his study, so as to avoid even the merest suggestion of scandal, though when more sensitive matters were being discussed within, the half-closed door and, if need be, a private word with Brother Everard or one of the other Servants to remain close at hand and announce any visitors before allowing them into the bishop's presence was Duncan's preferred means of balancing the needs of discretion and privacy with the need for circumspect behavior.  She could think of no sensitive matters that needed to be discussed between them at the moment, though.  Her few remaining students were doing quite well in the refresher lessons  and individual tutorials she kept them occupied with while they awaited their classmates' return, and it was Princess Rothana who customarily assisted the rector with the Schola's business matters, not herself.  Perhaps he'd discovered some intriguing application for Deryni magic in one of the old manuscripts she and John had been perusing over the summer, then, and wished to discuss it with her?  

   Or could something have come up during his recent trip to Beldour that he wanted to talk about?  He'd been absent from the Schola for several weeks, part of Prince Payne's entourage to Torenth, since the King of Torenth's young sister Stanisha had become of an age to marry earlier in the year and therefore Payne Haldane had set forth for Beldour in the middle of June to claim his affianced bride.  The young Duke of Travlum and his new Duchess had not yet returned to Rhemuth, as they would be making a series of diplomatic visits to various Courts along  their route home, but the Bishop had left behind too many responsibilities at the Schola to return at their more leisurely pace, so he had been given leave to return earlier with his own personal escort.  His smaller party had just arrived from their eastern sojourn two evenings before.  Might something unexpected have happened during the state visit to Beldour, then, perhaps some alarming development he wished to discuss with her?  But no, surely that couldn’t be it; he’d said it was a matter of business concerning her, and what possible matter could have arisen in Torenth that would have the least bit of bearing on her personally?

   Whatever she'd expected, it wasn't what Bishop Duncan presented her with once he reached his desk.  He reached under it, extracting a locked strongbox and unlocking it to reveal a bag tied at one end.  He handed it to her.  It was unexpectedly heavy for its size, and judging by the shifting mass of circular objects within, filled with coin.

   "I apologize for the weight.  Under normal circumstances, I would have accepted tallies, but I didn't want to run the risk of the man finding some way to cheat you twice."

   Helena was baffled.  "What man?"  She glanced down at the bag, a glimmer of suspicion dawning.  "What is this, Father?"

   "It's your dower.  Your first payment, at any rate.  Seven years' worth of withheld payments was a bit more than your former brother-in-law had on hand at the time—actually, this much was well beyond what he'd brought to Ducal Court with him, but the Duc du Joux advanced him a loan."

   She felt dazed.  "The Duc...You were in Joux?!"

   Duncan shrugged.  "Among other places, yes.  I might have taken a side trip or two while I was traveling in the vicinity."  

   "But...."  A glimmer of fear shot through her.  "Does Gaspard know where I am?"  Her hands began to tremble, and she lowered the bag of money, dropping it on Duncan's desk.

   His eyes darkened with concern.  He took her hands in his.  "I didn't tell him you're at the Schola, if that's what you fear, though if he knows you are Deryni, he may well have guessed by now.  Certainly he's known you were here in Rhemuth since last January, though.  You're not worried for your safety here, are you?"

   She knew it was silly, being afraid of Gaspard here in the heart of the Basilica—what was the man going to do, barge into Rhemuth Castle, make his way to the Schola, and lay siege to an entire community of Deryni?  And then what, demand that Helena follow him back to Joux and become a good and compliant stay-at-home dowager baroness?  On what legal grounds?  But fearing him had become longstanding habit, and such habits were hard to break free from.

   She shook her head, attempting a smile.  "No, of course not.  Not here.  It's just...I'd really rather not have to see him again, that's all."

   "Good, because I told Baron Gaspard he needn't deliver the rest of your dower in person.  In fact, he's not sending it to the Schola at all.  It's to be sent to King Kelson annually, then forwarded on to you wherever you might happen to be in residence at the time."  Duncan paused, then added reluctantly.  "I'm hoping you'll stay at the Schola, of course, since we greatly value your skills both as a teacher and as a researching scholar, but if you'd hoped to return to Llannedd in due time, you'll need your dower."  His voice softened.  "And should you choose to remain here, having your proper dower will at least give you greater freedom to come and go during the term breaks.  You shouldn't have to scrimp on your basic necessities just to scrape together enough coin to visit your family.  You're a baroness, Helena!"

   She looked down at their joined hands, fighting back tears.  "Thank you, Father.  I just hope...."  She glanced uncertainly up at him.  "Gaspard can't have been very happy to be called upon to honor the debt, especially if you confronted him in Ducal Court...."

   A grim smile touched Duncan's lips.  "He was...reluctant, yes.  He couldn't very well find a good reason to deny you the jointure that's yours by legal right, though.  Not when approached about it in front of his overlord.  Don't worry, I did allow him to save face somewhat by acknowledging that he couldn't forward the payments to you earlier due to not being aware of your whereabouts.  But I also reminded him that he's known of your presence in Rhemuth since this past January, and I implied that Kelson was rather annoyed that the delay in this year's payment had inconvenienced you."

   Helena's eyes widened.  "The King knows?" Her cheeks turned pink.

   "No, not the full story," Duncan reassured her.  "Just that you are owed a good deal of dower money that had become misdirected since your departure from the Sisters of Saint Jerome, and to expect annual installments to arrive at the Castle to be forwarded to you, since you and your late husband's family are not on good terms and you wish to avoid more direct dealings with the current baron or his retainers.  I hope that was vague enough?"  His smile grew slightly.  "Baron Gaspard needn't know exactly what King Kelson is or isn't aware of, of course.  All he needs to know is that you're somehow in the King of Gwynedd's protection now.  I'm trusting the man isn't an utter idiot, and that he'll take the warning to leave you well enough alone."

   "Thank you."  Helena blinked rapidly to dispel the tears threatening to blind her.  "I'm grateful, truly I am, it's just...I didn't want any ties left between us...between myself and Gaspard, I mean.  I know it's my legal due, but I don't want to be in his debt in any way...."

   "Helena."  Duncan's voice, quiet but firm, stopped her rambling in mid-stream.  He released one of her hands to cup her chin, gently lifting her face up to his.  "You're not in Gaspard's debt.  He owes you a proper dower at the very least; this was in your marriage contract with his brother, and he has no right to steal your jointure from you.  You and I both know he owes you far more for his treatment of you, but since only God can collect on that debt, Gaspard can at least be required to do the right thing by you financially."  He glanced down at the sack of coin.  "Look, if you wish to avoid having to touch coins that have passed through his hands, give this to Princess Rothana, and I'll have her exchange it for Gwyneddan currency of equal worth.  That will save you a trip to the moneychangers."

   She laughed softly.  "I'm being silly again, aren't I?"

   Duncan chuckled.  "Yes."

     "I suppose money is just money, no matter what its source.  And it is my right, whether I'm comfortable receiving it from him or not."

   "It is."

   She pondered the sack before her.  "Could I donate it to the Schola?"

   Duncan's eyebrows rose.  "I suppose you could, though if you do, you're likely to find your next birthday or Twelfth Night present from me is an all expenses paid visit home to Llannedd.  I'm not going to allow you to shortchange yourself, and your father's not growing any younger with each passing year."

   Helena laughed.  "I suppose I shall have to keep it then, or at least enough of it to allow for visits home, just so you're not tempted to misappropriate Schola funds."

   "Don't forget you'll soon have a growing kitten to feed also, now that Pouncer's litter is nearly weaned.  The Basilica's growing short of mice, now that we've got so many cats underfoot."

   She shook her head with a wry smile.  "Fritha doesn't eat that much.  I'm sure that sack weighs more than she does, even empty."  She indicated Gaspard's payment.  "Since you have a strongbox, would you hold that in trust for me until I can get one of my own to keep it in?  Or better yet, if you would add it to the Schola accounts, I'd rather just draw my portion in the form of tallies.  I'd feel more secure keeping track of it that way rather than having so much gold on hand, and most of the merchants I deal with in Rhemuth accept our tallies anyway."

   "I'd be glad to."  He lifted the sack of coin off his desk and bent to store it back in his strongbox.  As Helena studied his bent neck, she frowned at the sight of a newly mended rip in his cassock.  It was an odd place for a tear, not at the shoulder seam but slightly behind it, extending from the back of his neck diagonally downwards towards one shoulder blade.  Something about the sight caused her gut to clench in instinctive reaction, and as Duncan straightened, she noticed something else she'd not noticed before.  Something she might not have noticed even now, if the sunlight streaming through his window hadn't hit it just right, and if she'd not been looking in just the right place at that very moment, her eyes drawn there by the unusual tear in the fabric that led her eyes straight to it.

   "Jesú!"  Helena turned shocked eyes up at Duncan as her hand reached up towards the faint pink line barely visible across the skin of his neck just above his near shoulder.  She realized what she was doing just before her fingers made contact with it, and she drew it sharply back as if from a hot iron.  "That's a freshly Healed cut, isn't it?"  Her fears returned, this time not for herself, but for him.  "You fought him, didn't you?"

   He didn't ask her to clarify who she meant, nor did he try to evade her question.  He simply stood silently before her for a long moment, his eyes searching her face before quietly saying, "Yes.  He tried to ambush me after I left the Jouvian Court.  Don't worry, though; the cuts were shallow and, as you can see, easily enough Healed."  A gleam of grim amusement lit his blue eyes.  "I may have left Gaspard looking a little worse for wear, though not in such bad shape that he can't get together your next payment.  He wasn't expecting a bishop to be in fighting trim, I don't think, and when it comes to dagger play, he'd make a great carpenter.  He wields an edged weapon like a hammer."

   She lifted her shaking hands to her mouth.   "Please don't joke, Duncan!  You've made an enemy of him, and he's a vengeful sort...."

   "He won't be my first enemy, I assure you, nor do I expect he'll be my last, more's the pity."  

   She shook her head.  "I'd never have told you any of it if I'd ever dreamed you'd be in harm's way...." Her tears began to flow unchecked.

   Duncan gently clasped her shoulders, drawing her close.  “Helena....heart....I'm all right.  Believe me, I've had far worse wounds.   And I will be careful.  I knew his measure before he ever made a move against me, even before I approached him in the Duke's Court.  I was expecting him to try something of the sort.  The altercation was quite brief; it ended almost as quickly as it began."    

   "But you shouldn't be taking chances for...my dower's not worth...."

   "You are worth going after it for."  

   She dropped her gaze from his, her cheeks growing warm.  He released her, taking a step back, the sudden loss of his comforting embrace leaving her slightly dizzy.  She wondered if he'd meant to address her by the endearment she'd thought she'd heard in his quietly spoken words, wondered also if she might be reading far too much into it.  She'd heard him address Lady Sophie in such terms before, as "sweeting" or "heart," albeit only rarely, and had thought little of it knowing his feelings towards the younger magistra were far more paternal than anything else.  

   "You mustn't take such risks on my account," she whispered.

   "Then fortunately I haven't any more travel plans to Joux in my near future," he replied, his voice light, though his expression remained serious.  "I might have taken a little too much pleasure in wielding the swift sure hand of Justice, especially across the craven's fleeing hindquarters, though I'm having a bit of trouble summoning up the proper amount of penitence."

   She gaped at him, unsure of whether to break into tears or an appalled laugh.  The laugh won, emerging as a watery giggle.

   They heard footfalls approaching in the corridor.  Duncan smiled, drawing a clean handkerchief from his sleeve and handing it to her.  "That's probably the Archbishop; he sent a message earlier saying he hoped to drop by for a brief visit sometime this afternoon.  We can't have him thinking I'm in the habit of reducing my magistri to tears.  Can you try to look as if I haven't spent the past half hour flogging you?"

   She gave a more genuine laugh this time, dabbing at her tears and taking a deep breath to regain her composure.  Archbishop Cardiel entered the room, giving Helena a surprised but courteous nod of greeting when he spotted her.  "Sister Helena...."  He broke off in confusion as he noted her red-rimmed eyes and the square of fabric quickly crumpled in one hand in an effort to hide it.  "I'm sorry, is this a bad time?"   He glanced at his auxiliary bishop.  "I could come back later, if that would be more convenient."

   "No!" she said hastily, glancing at Duncan.  "Bishop Duncan just informed me of...of some wonderful news, that's all.  I was just on my way out."  She gave the Archbishop a reassuring smile, then looked back at Duncan.  "Thank you, Father," she added softly.

   "You're quite welcome," he replied equally quietly.

   She left them together, her mind a whirlwind of thought as she made her way out of the Basilica and crossed the Schola's courtyard towards Abbot's Tower to return to her private chamber.

#

   St. Hilary’s Basilica, Abbot’s Tower
   August 10, 1136


   Helena stood at the top of Abbot’s Tower, staring blankly out at the fields beyond the Castle walls, over the rooftops of the small lodgings where some of the married Servants of Saint Camber who had moved to Rhemuth from the hidden village of St. Kyriell’s now lived.   Although it was summer, a mild breeze tugged at her robes at this height, but she was oblivious to the gentle currents, lost in her thoughts as she was.  A tumult of emotions roiled inside her, and she needed time to herself to sort them.

   Was she reading too much into the rector’s kindness?  Perhaps he’d have done the same for any of his magistrae deprived of a source of income that was her rightful due, though there was no way to know.  Hers was hardly a commonplace situation, after all.  But there’d been something in his eyes when he’d looked at her, something about the comforting way he’d drawn her close and his quiet voice had soothed her, that made her both hope and fear that mayhap there was something more behind his actions than mere priestly concern over the well-being of one of the many sheep in his pastoral care.

   Then again, she mused, she could simply be as dim-witted as one of those proverbial sheep, reading far too much into Father Duncan’s actions than he’d ever meant, seeing in them only what she wanted to see rather than what actually was.  And what if he did have feelings for her, feelings that mirrored what she had long since begun to feel for him?  Even if that were the case, what future could there be between a man under holy vows and a woman too damaged by her experience with marriage to ever want to enter another one?

   It wasn’t marriage that she yearned for, though.  It was relationship—the joining of hearts—that called to her more strongly than even the desire to join bodies, although that thought brought a sudden warm flush to her cheeks, making her glad of the cooling air sweeping past her.   She forced her thoughts quickly away from that subject; was it blasphemy, to think of a priest so?  She was glad he was in holy orders; if he’d been free to wed, would her yearning for a closer relationship with him be able to override her fear of allowing any man that close to her again?  Or would fear end up proving stronger than love?  Helena didn’t know.  In truth, she was relieved not to be in a position where she might have to find out.

   Still, it had felt heavenly to be held by him, however briefly and for whatever reason he might have done so.  Was it sin to want the comfort and security of being held by a man she loved, even if she couldn’t hope to have him fully?    Was it sin to have such feelings in her heart for a man who had already given his life and his vows over to Another?  She hoped not.  

   And if he did return her feelings, would that jeopardize his vocation in any way?  She prayed it would not.  She knew the calling on his life was a genuine one, wanted to do nothing that would damage his ministry in any way or destroy his reputation as a man of honor and integrity.  She didn’t want to cause upheaval in his life; all she hoped for was to be allowed to share some small corner of it and the freedom to let him know somehow, someday, how very precious he'd become to her.  Would God understand, even if no one else would?  Even if others must never know?

   She closed her eyes against a sudden flood of tears.


Chapter Five:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=793.0
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 10:15:02 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 10:12:41 am »
Glad that Gaspard got his come-uppance, but sad that our glimpse of Cardiel was so tantalisingly brief!

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 10:25:06 am »
A wonderful chapter - I am certain Bishop Duncan enjoyed stepping outside of his normal priestly role to render more knightly justice to Gaspard.  Quite a handy thing to have been trained in weaponry as a Duke's son!

Now Sister Helena must come to terms with her feelings for him.  She seems to be heading in the right direction, understanding her need for a true relationship but one with necessary restraints.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2011, 10:44:40 am »
Quote
"I might have taken a little too much pleasure in wielding the swift sure hand of Justice, especially across the craven's fleeing hindquarters, though I'm having a bit of trouble summoning up the proper amount of penitence."
   ROFL at vision this brings up.  I am sure Cardiel will hear his confession and not impose too much of a penalty though  ;)


Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2011, 12:10:15 pm »
*Cardiel rubs the bridge of his nose and attempts to understand*  "So let me get this straight...you whacked him on the posterior with the side of your broadsword?  Aren't you supposed to use the edge of a bladed weapon?"

 ;D
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 02:28:24 pm »
"Yes, Father - but I didn't want to kill him.  If he's dead he can't make dower payments to Sister Helena."

"That may be so, but I think you should have at least wounded the man.   Oh very well - your penance is three Hail Mary's, and a week of extra sword practice with your cousin when he's next in Rhemuth."

:D

 

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2011, 06:45:39 pm »
Not to be too gross, but if it had been me--I would have kicked him in a very different place.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2011, 06:53:16 pm »
Heh.  Not exactly feeling the love for poor Gaspard, eh?   ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 07:15:07 pm »
Heh.  Not exactly feeling the love for poor Gaspard, eh?   ;)

After Duncan, his Duke, and Kelson are through with him it probably will be "poor" Gaspard!

Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2011, 06:34:14 am »
LOL Elkhound - and it couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving person  :D


Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2011, 09:01:33 am »
LOL Elkhound - and it couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving person  :D

The thought of Gaspard on the street in his underwear would provide much satisfaction to Helena.

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2011, 09:38:30 am »
The thought of Gaspard in his underwear anywhere would probably bring back PTSD nightmares for poor Helena.  She'll gladly settle for him remaining in some kingdom very far off from wherever she is at any given moment.  She won't even begrudge him keeping some of his income; that just means he won't need to come begging on her doorstep!   :D
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 12:56:49 pm »
And Gaspard isn't going to tell anyone that he had his butt whipped--literally--by a priest.

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2011, 01:24:48 pm »
Nooo, I suspect it's going to be an ice cold day in Hell before he'll confess that to anyone, including another priest!   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Four
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2011, 07:12:38 pm »
I would be more than happy to tell the entire 11 kingdoms that Gaspard had his butt kicked by a bishop!!
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

 


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Karma: 29
Jerusha Jerusha
Karma: 24
DesertRose DesertRose
Karma: 24
Laurna Laurna
Karma: 17
revanne revanne
Karma: 17
Bynw Bynw
Karma: 12
derynifanatic64 derynifanatic64
Karma: 9
Shiral Shiral
Karma: 10
Elkhound
Karma: 8
Alkari
Karma: 7

* Online Time

DesertRose DesertRose
123d 19h 45m
Evie Evie
123d 8h 30m
TheDeryni TheDeryni
116d 1h 15m

* Forum Staff

Bynw admin Bynw
Administrator
DesertRose admin DesertRose
Administrator
Evie admin Evie
Administrator
Shiral gmod Shiral
Zipper Sister
Unicorn636 gmod Unicorn636
Requiem
Laurna gmod Laurna
Community Supporter
revanne gmod revanne
Community Supporter
DerynifanK gmod DerynifanK
Community Supporter
gmod Jax
Community Supporter
judywward gmod judywward
Community Supporter
KK gmod KK
Our Queen
gmod Alkari
Community Supporter
AnnieUK gmod AnnieUK
Community Supporter
Jerusha gmod Jerusha
Community Supporter

* Board Stats

  • stats Total Members: 332
  • stats Total Posts: 22184
  • stats Total Topics: 2234
  • stats Total Categories: 14
  • stats Total Boards: 136
  • stats Most Online: 181

* Calendar

September 2019
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