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[White Elephant] Wonders of the Dreaming Sea- For LeTipex

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  • [White Elephant] Wonders of the Dreaming Sea- For LeTipex

    So I loved the little miniature setting-book you've made! I suspect my first 3E game may well be set in and around the Dreaming Sea, and I'm definitely gonna steal some of the ideas you had. Since I felt like arting, I decided to help you decorate your setting-book a bit.

    First off, peach-haired and manacled Lee the Blind wanted an illustraction. Here we see the cryptic deity in question listening intently to the labored breathing of the chained behemoth with whose fate the god is entwined. Is it waking up? Getting ready to thrash about again?



    Also, the Mekipa are adorable! Gotta draw one of them! This one in particular is Damayanti of the Endless Grass, an influential courtier in the Court of Thorns. Here we see Damayanti meditating at sunset. Someday she's gonna be a huge wooden-masked dragon of grass and thorns who scourges the unrighteous...but for now, sleepy kitty dreams.



    So my third picture was pretty much me going, "Hey, Coral Stars! These things are awesome!"



    Buuut as you can see that picture came out kinda shitty, and drawing it made me think more about coral stars and lighthouses and cities on the shores of the Dreaming Sea, and I know you love piles and piles of setting-fluff from back when you were rocking the Plot Garden...so ignore that crappy drawing. I'ma build you a city.


    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

    The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
    -Roger Zelazny

  • #2
    Iluvar, The City of Fallen Stars:
    Iluvar is a bustling city on the southwestern coast of the Dreaming Sea. It is an ancient and much built-upon city, its ever-changing skyline brimming with ancient towers of black stone connected by centuries of more modern construction. Rope bridges and ladders abound, as houses are built atop older houses. Hammocks hang over great yawning precipices, and teams of sweating men raise heavy crates of food and furniture and a million other goods with winches and pulleys. The city is a three-dimensional maze that confuses most outsiders, rife with complicated territorial arrangements and multi-story politics and long-running family feuds over where one building ends and another begins. The rich and powerful live in the upper levels of the city, looking out over the gleaming Bay of Fallen Stars and dumping their sewage out their windows. The smell gets worse the lower you go, until you reach the rat-infested stinking metropolis that makes up the city at sea-level.

    Despite the stink and the preponderance of cold soup dishes, Iluvar is famous first as a city of fabulous wealth, and second as one of the most beautiful cities in Creation from sunset until sunrise. Iluvar lies close, some say dangerously close, to Wyld waters, and they profit from it heavily. Iluvari merchant-shamans quest into strange seas in search of fabulous wealth, and while many of them perish horribly, the small percentage who find it and return home make Iluvari a city of wonders. All the miracles of the Southeastern wyld pass through Iluvari on their way to the Guild’s markets further north and west: rare herbs from the Eastern forests, singing pearls, deadly poisons, green-skinned slaves with fiery autumn-colored hair, the rare blue oysters whose secretions can be made into age-staving cordials, white corals which turn black when a lie is spoken in their presence, narwhal ivory, the heavy and soft wood of the Sea Willows which grow in lush undersea forests and burn with a red hallucinogenic smoke, puffs of living cloud lured down from the skies with the songs of castrati and trapped in thin iron chains whose tears can nourish even the most delicate of orchids in even the harshest of environments, bars of gleaming black jade fished up from undersea mines by aquatic raksha in exchange for passionate slaves…these as well as countless shackled masses of slaves flow through Iluvar’s port.

    Their greatest treasure, though, and the source of Iluvar’s vaunted nocturnal beauty, is a preponderance of Coral Stars. The Star-Princes of Iluvar have mandated that Coral Stars are their rightful property as the children of Ireni, and they offer a hefty bounty to anyone who delivers a star to them. The wyld-twisted seas nearby are ideal for the formation of Coral Stars, and they are fished up at least a few times per year. The many black towers of Iluvar are each topped with lighthouses where at night one of the Priests of the White Star uses a Coral Star as a beacon to illuminate the bay. Heavy black paddles are passed in front of the burning light of the stone to block it out, and they use the blinking of their lights to pass coded messages to ships out at sea and to Iluvar’s tributary towns along the coast and into the wooded interior through a series of well-fortified signal towers. If the luminescent white hair and eyes weren’t a giveaway, Star-Princes can be identified at night by their fabulous glowing tattoos (they make the ink with powdered coral stars), and they give hooded lanterns and small chunks of Coral Stars to the ships of their navy so that they can signal and communicate with each other and with coastal authorities from a distance. The remainder of the Coral Stars, particularly small or unimpressive ones, are ground and made into paint which is used to light the city. At night, the unorganized mess of houses and towers and bridges and ladders that makes up Iluvar is lit by a thousand gleaming points of light, and lit by beautiful glowing mosaics. Only the Star-Princes are allowed to receive glowing tattoos, but the rest of the city follows their fashions and the people of the city adorn themselves with gorgeous tattoos of white and silver, and lanterns filled with fireflies and glow worms and blown glass bowls full of phosphorescent fish fished from wyld waters and raised in great glowing basins fill the city. Every night in the City of Fallen stars looks like a once-a-year festival of lights in any other city. Even if you couldn’t buy fantastic marvels in the shops and stalls of the Night Market, it would be worth visiting for the spectacle alone.

    Ireni the White Star:
    Iluvar’s people worship Ireni the White Star, a powerful deity who usually appears as a beautiful young man or woman of translucent white stone, burning from within with a bright white light. Ireni is a powerful and jealous god, and the patron of the Iluvari. He is also a jealous deity: he forbids his followers to worship any other god, though he is said to occasionally answer prayers which beseech him to intercede on the petitioners’ behalf with some other divinity, and indeed the Star Princes have made this proclamation into law: in Iluvar, the White Star is the only deity who may be legally worshipped.. He has forbidden his followers the making of idols or graven images, and so the Iluvari have become masters of abstract art. He has also forbidden the Iluvari from enslaving his followers, and mandates that any slave who converts to his faith and forswears the worship of any other gods be immediately freed. Ireni’s priests are quite fond of spreading stories about virtuous slaves who become followers of Ireni but whose corrupt masters refuse to free them, and of the horrible and ironic punishments Ireni inflicts upon their owners (the most common is cursing them to speak only in the tongues of beasts until their slaves are freed and a significant portion of their wealth donated to his temple).

    While most of his followers are not aware of it, Ireni is, at least officially, the God of Coded Messages, and has a moderate amount of pull within the Bureau of Secrets. Ireni’s role as the patron god of the city of Iluvar arose as a result of their frequent use of coded messages through flashing lights (at least officially-he wrangled the position through favors and blackmail), and he grows fat and powerful on the growing popularity of his cult. He is a corrupt and power-hungry god, and fond of scenarios in which he wins multiple victories with a single stroke. He forbids graven images because every work of abstracted imagery is a coded message,and a small prayer to him. He forbids the worship of other deities to force a monopoly on local prayer…and to encourage underground cults who worship in secret and couch their practices in code, so that prayers to other gods also empower him. He accepts prayers to intercede with other deities on his followers’ behalf, and shares a small cut of the prayer with the other deity involved, and his order is slowly building a small pantheon of “approved” deities who offer the followers of the White Star more frequent beneficence. He frees slaves who swear to follow him to get a large supply of free converts…and he encourages his followers to freely enslave anyone who doesn’t follow him, because slaves are a constant source of coded messages.

    Ireni has fathered and given birth to a number of god-blooded children, who can easily be identified by their white hair and gleaming white eyes. These children, known as the Star-Princes, are raised by his priests to become the rulers of Iluvar and to act as Ireni’s hands in the city. They are famed and feared in the surrounding region as potent miracle workers, for Ireni is a doting parent and the Star-Princes are taught a secret language only their divine parent knows: their prayers are fast-tracked directly to his ear, and generally answered immediately and dramatically. He has arranged for several of his favorite children to be granted divinity and immortality and purviews over small local concerns. He is particularly fond of getting his children appointed to positions managing the local weather and climate, and if the winds favor Iluvari corsairs and the rains favor Iluvari crops and illnesses have an odd habit of ravaging those who break their oath to worship Ireni and no other dieties…well, the bribes all find their way to the right places in Yu-Shan.
    Ireni dotes on Sidereals, who fill the sky with coded messages every night and whose lives are full of secret meaning. He does them favors freely and magnanimously, hoping to trade in their goodwill if his corruption ever comes to light.

    The Iluvari Corsairs:
    When the people of the surrounding lands think of the City of Fallen Stars, they may think second of the gleaming lights of Iluvar at night, but they will first think of the face that Iluvar shows most often to the rest of the world: huge slave galleys and fast little cutters with black sails and black flags decorated with the symbol of the White Star. The Star Princes maintain a large fleet, and grant command of a ship to captains of their choosing…but the captain is expected to pay a hefty annual stipend to the city and to maintain the ship himself. Their navy is given a great deal of leeway in how they go about fulfilling these obligations. Most turn to piracy.

    The black sails of the Iluvari corsairs are dreaded up and down the coast, and throughout the Dreaming Sea. They are most fond of coastal raids to pack whole villages into their slave galleys for sale back in the City of Fallen Stars. Many clever pirate princes plan their voyages well in advance, and send small groups of infiltrators to towns they intend to raid weeks or months ahead of time. These infiltrators send secret messages out to sea at night with blinking lanterns, and when they get a message back they disable the local defenses as best they are able to make the raid go smoother. Such men are of course hated and brutally executed whenever they’re caught, and have contributed to a reputation that the local coastal countries are rude and inhospitable to foreigners, which only improves Iluvar’s trade. Many more successful pirate-princes use the profits from their expeditions to fund the private construction of small fleets to enable them to assault harder targets.

    The corsairs also raid shipping, though they spare any ship which bears a letter of passage from the Star Princes. Such ships fly a black flag with a white star, and their captains are taught a code they can use to indicate their protected status at a distance with flashing mirrors or lanterns. This code changes every Calibration and is provided renewal of the letter of passage with the Star Princes in Iluvar. Letters of passage are expensive. The fine for taking a protected ship is the confiscation of a captain’s vessels and a hefty fine paid to the injured party. Of course, sometimes protected vessels get mysteriously lost at sea…the Dreaming Sea is a dangerous place full of riches, and who is going to notice if the loot from that port town you raided is a bit heavier than usual? There are stories, of course, of the gods punishing such offenses, but more corrupt crews sometimes risk it.

    The Hearthmasters’ Guild:
    Every few decades a fire sweeps through the overcrowded city of Iluvar. The better-off neighborhoods generally have warding talismans and fire brigades armed with hand-held pumps and pipes running out into the bay, but there are always many casualties. The Star-Princes have attempted to strictly regulate fires in the city as a result of the repeated disasters, resulting in the creation of the Hearthmasters’ Guild. They go clad in red and armed at all times with at least one small horn of an expensive and poisonous powder known to assassins as Dead Candle Dust and quickly becoming known as Hearthmasters’ Powder in the southeast. When exposed to fire, the powder quickly absorbs the air essence in the area as it burns, causing the fire to flare suddenly brighter and hotter before dying out. The Hearthmasters are tasked with managing fire in the city, and they are paid by a number of vital business to stay on the premises and maintain important fires…and they are also tasked with regulating illicit fire usage. Hearthmasters spend more time investigating and prosecuting unauthorized stoves and cooking fires and incense burners than doing anything else, and they collect heavy fees for unlicensed firestarting. Those who can’t pay are sold as slaves, or simply indentured until they pay off their debt if they are followers of the White Star.

    Hearthmasters generally travel in the company of a small band of warriors (usually a mixture of mercenaries and Hearthmasters-in-Training), and they serve as a de-facto police force within Iluvar. This role has been increased lately by Deep-Eyes Tirle, the current Guildmistress, an outcaste Water Aspect who made her fortune as a corsair and has hired a number of the more disciplined and skilled members of her former fleet as enforcers for her guild. She’s popular with the people, and the Star-Princes heed her counsel on domestic defense: she’s raided enough port cities to know how to handle it. Several of the Star-Princes are privately concerned that she’s growing too influential, and are worried that if they give an order she doesn’t like she may have the strength not to follow it.

    The Flashing Mirrors:
    Raised from birth as fanatic followers of the White Star, or drawn from skilled warriors who have become devout converts (often after some miracle from Ireni), the Mirrors are an elite order within the Priests of the White Star. They live and train on the grounds of Ireni’s temples, and their services are sold to wealthy merchant princes or given freely in service of the White Star or the Star Princes. They predominantly serve as assassins, but they also sometimes offer their services as bodyguards, spies, and saboteurs.

    The Mirrors are deadly martial artists who practice an unusual style of martial arts which they call White Star Style, but which outsiders occasionally refer to as Flashing Mirror Style or Dancing Lighthouse Style. They wear deep blacks and greens, and go armed with a wickedly curved sickle-like blade and a glove with a mirror woven into the palm. The Mirrors are obsessed with light, and make use of it constantly to distract and disorient their opponents. They are fond of reflecting sunlight into their enemies’ eyes using their palm-mirrors to cover an attack or create an opening, and they are also fond of taking advantage of that expectation and blinding enemies with a highly polished blade instead while they deliver a blow from the hand the enemy is trying not to look at, or a solid kick. They aren’t above other forms of distraction or misdirection either: the Mirrors kick sand in enemies’ faces, throw bags of flash-powder, fill houses with smoke before moving in to the kill the occupants, use disguises to get into restricted areas, and make use of poisons or hallucinogens to weaken a target before they go in for the kill. A favorite move is to take a deep breath, toss a small sack of Hearthmaster’s Powder into a candle or fireplace to cause a blinding flare-up and roar in order to cover an entrance, and take advantage of the de-oxygenated air in the room to tire one’s opponents out quickly.

    Flashing Mirrors who have proven their skill and loyalty are given a gift by the Star Princes: the symbol of the White Star tattooed onto one of their palms in ink made from a Coral Star. At night these tattoos blaze with white light like a bonfire whenever they are uncovered, and expert mirrors open and close their fists to create flashing strobe-effects to make it almost impossible for their opponents to see or predict their movements. Mirrors will sometimes use smaller amounts of ink to decorate tassels on their weapons, so that the eye will track the flashing lights in the dark rather than the weapon itself, whose position is generally unrelated to that of the whirling tassel.

    Sidereals who wish to learn Crystal Chameleon Style are often sent by their sifus to study with the Mirrors for a time. The Mirrors include at least one Lunar, Dancing Eel, among their number, though Dancing Eel is entirely unaware of the existence of Sidereals and the Sidereals are entirely unaware that Ireni has a fanatic Lunar assassin at his disposal.

    Food and Drink:
    As fire is expensive and dangerous and strictly regulated, food in the City of Fallen Stars has a unique character. Pickling and salting are commonplace, and many items which would in other cultures simply be cooked are instead preserved in brine or vinegar prior to consumption. Smoked and salted meat and fish are common, as are cuts of raw fish down by the port. A number of cold soups and alchohol-soaked vegetable recipes are local favorites. Soft dough-and-fruit pastries are a pleasantly sweet desert item, and candied fruits and nuts are ever-popular. The wealthy, of course, tend to flaunt their fire by serving roast boar to a whole party of guests or hiring chefs to make a performance of searing pans and flashing flames and juggling knives.

    Pets and Wyldlife:
    Cats are popular in the City of Fallen Stars, because they can easily handle a three-dimensional environment and they are useful for keeping down the teeming rat population in the lower levels. The local breed is tawny brown with green-gray eyes, and often comes with stripes or spots of black or dark brown. They generally run wild in the city, though many are the families that leave fish or saucers of cream out and care for the local strays.

    Parrots are another popular pet: bright, colorful, intelligent and easily trained, and capable of carrying complex messages, their multicolored wings fill the City of Fallen Stars and beautify it during daylight hours. Even at night, the city is well-lit enough for birds, and so small fabulously colored birds flit between the lights devouring the swarms of moths and insects which are lured to the city every night. Their ever-present shit adds to Iluvar’s complex and unpleasant aroma.

    Monkeys run wild in small bands in the upper levels of the city. Someone brought them in centuries ago as a pet, they bred, and now they’ve become a damned nuisance to the wealthy denizens of Iluvar. They come in two local varieties: a small red-furred monkey with a long prehensile tail and a high piping voice, and a large golden-furred ape with ridiculously long arms and legs and no tail. They leap around and squabble and open latches to sneak in and steal food before dashing out the window again. Most of the rich neighborhoods of the city retain the services of a monkey-catcher who endeavors to keep the things from their area. The rich take a smug satisfaction in eating dishes which include monkey flesh or brains. The poor absolutely love monkeys because they generally only trouble the upper levels, and intentionally release the creatures. Sometimes they train them to steal jewelery or shiny objects, and red and gold monkey spirits or characters with a monkey motif often serve as tricksters and champions of the poor in local theater. The local monkey god is currently trying to get in the White Star’s good graces so that he can take advantage of the situation more effectively.

    Falcons and eagles have historically been uncommon in the city, but in the past few decades a small and growing community of falconry enthusiasts has burgeoned among the upper classes. Fishhawks (ospreys) are most common, and are generally accepted as favored by the White Star for their black and white imagery and their endurance. They can be trained to hunt the smaller red-furred breed of local monkeys, which adds to their popularity. Abstract osprey emblems are common in the ornamentation of the rich these days, especially among navy families. There’s some overlap and some rivalry with the local parrot breeders, who worry that too many hawks in the skies could cut into their business. Hawks are only popular among a small portion of the rich, but they're seen as emblems of wealth and power and cruelty by the poor, and powerful villains in popular street-plays often feature hawkish imagery or have pet hawks.

    Glowfish are small carp with trailing fins who are remarkable for their luminescence and their beauty. Brought to the city by a lucky fisherman who had a few spare glass bottles when his boat drifted into the Wyld, they’ve been bred in the subsequent century into a dozen varieties which vary in color and shape. They are bred in great stone vats with glimmer with light, their eggs gathered weekly and transferred to new vats to mature lest the adults eat their young. Adults are sold in glass bowls or tall blown glass lanterns with open tops. Glowfish are perhaps the city’s most common pet, and only the poorest homes on the lower levels of the city lack at least one or two to light up rooms at night. Years of breeding has rendered them hardy-they can survive in rainwater as easily as salt water, and on table scraps as well as insects, but dirty water will kill them, so it is important to remove uneaten food and debris from their containers. The headmaster of the local glassblower’s guild recently married his daughter to the son of the headmaster of the local fish-breeder’s guild. Their night wedding was spectacularly decorated, even for the City of Fallen Stars.

    Iluvar is full of small gardens on rooftops and on balconies and even hanging in pots. Fire is restricted, so plants that fruit heavily and don’t require cooking are very popular: grapes, berries, tomatoes, and even certain types of squash fill the city. Taking advantage of the year-round source of flowering plants is a small Beekeeper’s Guild in Iluvar, and their rooftop gardens are full of small red and gold-furred bees who produce a deep brown honey sold up and down the coast. The Beekeeper’s Guild is very popular with the locals in its neighborhood: the monkeys avoid the place, for the bees sting mightily and taste foul.

    The Exalted:
    A bustling city so full of trade is bound to attract a few powerful personages. A city near the rim of the world, full of tattoos (some of which glow) and merchants who trade with the Raksha is a friendly place for a Lunar. Ireni is famous in Yu-Shan for coddling Sidereals, and it is not uncommon for them to take their rare vacations in his vivid city. The City of Fallen Stars is one of the places these two are most likely to run into one another, and when the Chosen of the Moon and the Chosen of the Stars wish to meet in private to negotiate, it is generally in Iluvar. The meetings don’t always go well: the City of Fallen Stars has earned its name in more than one respect.

    While the abstract art and aniconic imagery and forbidding of worship of the gods might make an Anathema nervous, the Immaculate Order has no hold in Iluvar, and the White Star and his followers have no real objections the Anathema…as long as they don’t try to get people to worship them, they don’t openly worship other deities (walking down the street glowing proclaiming the Unconquered Sun the rightful King of Heaven is gonna hurt his credibility a bit), and they don’t cause trouble. The Star Princes are perhaps less afraid of the Exalted than they should be: they’ve enjoyed a few centuries of being the biggest fish in the pond, subduing opponents with divine miracles and the greatly-exaggerated rumors of their own sorcerous prowess, and many of them believe the reputations of the Dragon-Blooded and the Anathema to be simply rumors and stories that have grown to ridiculous proportions over time. They will, of course, try to steer powerful individuals they encounter into serving in Iluvar’s navy wherever possible.
    Last edited by Wise Old Guru; 12-30-2014, 09:08 AM.


    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

    The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
    -Roger Zelazny

    Comment


    • #3
      Very pretty. And the pictures are nice too!

      Comment


      • #4
        I love this, and I'm going to use it immediately when 3E is released.

        Comment


        • #5
          This is amazing. Both the illustrations and Illuvar. I'm going to use so much of that in my campaign.

          I don't know how to convey my thanks well enough for that gift. Seriously, dude, you're awesome and then some.


          Ultimate Jade-Screened Exalted Scholar, Savant of the Immaculate Texts, No Moon Scholar
          THDR : Future Dragon-Blooded campaign, and other links.
          If you like Ex3, you can support Holden on Patreon!

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          • #6
            I'm glad you like Iluvar. I was reading up on the pirates of the Barbary Coast when I was writing it, and I like the idea of the old-school Islamic laws meant to encourage people to convert (you can't enslave muslims, muslims get discounts on taxes, etc) as something PCs could run into. Also, Creation needs at least a couple vaguely monotheistic religions, and the Path of the White Star fits that niche.

            ...I reserve the right to post more bits as they occur to me, since there's more Iluvar bouncing around in my head.


            So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

            The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
            -Roger Zelazny

            Comment


            • #7
              By all means do so if you feel like it, I'd be glad to read it.


              Ultimate Jade-Screened Exalted Scholar, Savant of the Immaculate Texts, No Moon Scholar
              THDR : Future Dragon-Blooded campaign, and other links.
              If you like Ex3, you can support Holden on Patreon!

              Comment


              • #8
                Really well done I am showing this to my ST to see what he thinks. The game I am playing in we are actually just South of this city! Love the description of it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm deeply delighted that other people are playing in and enjoying Iluvar. I want to take advantage of this opportunity, though, to thank Le Tipex for Dir Jal. I've made it a big part of my Dreaming Sea.


                  So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                  The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                  -Roger Zelazny

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Where is Illuvar in relation to Ysyr(The center of my current dreaming sea campaign). Sounds south of it, but mainly curious for this awesomeness.


                    The Book of Laughing Serpents Series(Latest Here)
                    Many Limbed Manual
                    Patreon here: https://patreon.com/undeadauthorsociety
                    San Jeanro Co-Op writer. Volume 1 here Volume 2 here Volume 3 here
                    My folklore and horror blog, here:http://undeadauthorsociety.com

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                    • #11
                      In my game, Iluvar is on the coast of the Dreaming Sea to the North if Ysyr, and the Iluvar empire dominates most of that coastline. I put them south of some mountains so they can have slave mines to the North. But you can put them anywhere the place fits.


                      So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                      The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                      -Roger Zelazny

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks! Now to explain why no one has heard of them for the last two sessions...


                        The Book of Laughing Serpents Series(Latest Here)
                        Many Limbed Manual
                        Patreon here: https://patreon.com/undeadauthorsociety
                        San Jeanro Co-Op writer. Volume 1 here Volume 2 here Volume 3 here
                        My folklore and horror blog, here:http://undeadauthorsociety.com

                        Comment

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