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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Durbuluk
The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"What is so funny?" demanded Leokas.

"I find it humorous that even his enemies do not know his actual name."

Szordrin continued to point his wand at their captive. "One more taunt and you will not be left to recall his true name. Now, tell us all that you know about him. Do not try to hide a thing." The tiefling made a motion with his other hand to imply that he was watching the hobgoblin closely.

"I want a guarantee that you will let me live to leave this cavern and return to the Marching Mountains, before I speak," replied Durbuluk.

Kytharrah had seen the others interrogate prisoners before, so he figured he'd try to imitate them. Tapping the bottom of his axe handle on the ground, he snorted, "Talk!"

"By Torm," swore Szordrin, choosing a god who supposedly cared a lot about oaths, "if you give us all the information that we seek, we shall allow you to go free... eventually. If we intended to kill you, we would have done it by now."

Belvin and Leokas stood by defensively, while Hakam and Solisar seemed to be studying the hobgoblin's body language.

After a short pause, Durbuluk finally answered. "His name is Allustairimarinastralmindivu. Most pure-blooded hobgoblins are too stupid to remember something with that many syllables. I do not have such a handicap."

Now that this was revealed to them, it was not too shocking to Hakam. He remembered learning a little known fact that the names Calim and Memnon were also shorted forms of those famous genies' true names.

"As for who he was," continued their prisoner, "I do not know much of anything about his past. He has never told me his true background, but I suspect that he was just someone at the right place at the right time."

Leokas suddenly seemed to recall something and interrupted the current topic with a new question. "Wait! You mentioned the Marching Mountains. Are goblins gathering in force under the Marching Mountains? Are they preparing for an attack?"

"I promised to tell you of the efreeti, not of the Marching Mountains. Nevertheless, I will tell you what you should already know: the goblins are too weak to ever war against the surface world without guidance. Good for nothing but arrow-fodder are they in combat. That is why they needed someone like Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

Hakam uttered a quick prayer, and instantly, everyone felt a strong compulsion to speak only the truth.

Durbuluk smirked. "Your god cannot overcome the power in my blood, human cleric. Save your magics; I intend to speak the truth on my own."

"In that case, I affirm that you will be allowed to return to your home, provided that you answer all of our questions truthfully," said Hakam. "First, you say that you do not know much of Allustairimarinastralmindivu's past." (Szordrin looked at Hakam with shock that he so easily pronounced the name.) "When and how did you come to learn of him? And why did you join him?"

"I was high priest of Nomog-Geaya and chief advisor to Guthash, King Under the Marching Mountains. About this time last year, messengers came to King Guthash through the goblin tunnels from Calimshan. These messengers claimed to have been slaves to owners in Calimshan yet were set free by followers of Allu, a new god of hobgoblins. Seeing as I serve the only true god of hobgoblins, naturally, my ears perked up at this news. They were evangelizing, recruiting for an army with which to retake Calimshan for the goblinoid races."

"Nomog-Geaya?" asked Leokas. "Who is he?"

"Nomog-Geaya is the General, the god of authority and war. He is the true patron of my people."

Leokas was under the impression that Maglubiyet was god of both goblins and hobgoblins, and this was what they had heard some of the other goblins and hobgoblins whom they had encountered say, but he did not sense deceit in Durbuluk's voice, so he let the matter pass.

Szordrin opened his mouth to say something, but then doubted that he would be able to lie with Hakam's spell in effect, so he thought better of it.

Durbuluk continued. "Even though I knew that this new god, 'Allu', must be an imposter, I was intrigued by the message. King Guthash had been planning for years to build an army to unleash on the overworld. Perhaps this Allu could be an ally of sorts. A genie is a powerful adversary or a powerful friend. I advised Guthash to send me as an ambassador, to observe Allu and his schemes.

"I have thus pretended to be a 'priest of Allu', but while he can grant us three wishes a day, which is not a minor thing by any means, he cannot grant spells. I still serve Nomog-Geaya, and Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows this. The other hobgoblins do not. That is all that matters.

"Nomog-Geaya knows that I am faithful to him. As I bide my time, so Nomog-Geaya bides his time for when he will rebel against Maglubiyet."

Belvin, with singed hair and leathers, asked, "I suppose that you attacked us thinking that we are enemies of Allu-stair-into-the-astral-sea-or-whatever. Could we not have come to a peaceful resolution, considering that we earlier freed your kin? Or does that not matter to a hobgoblin?"

"My goal was to flee this place. You were in my path. I know nothing of any kin of mine that you freed; I only saw my opportunity to escape, since the mummies below had been destroyed. You were not goblinoids nor efreet, so you would be no friends of the efreeti, even if you are enemies of his enemies. For all I know, you are simply greedy adventurers. Whoever you are, you made my task easier, and I took advantage of this, as anyone with any intelligence would."

Hakam jumped back in with a question. "Tell us more about these mummies. Was there another mummy with them, one called El Sadhara? She would have been dressed more ornately than the others that we destroyed."

"What her name was I do not know, but there was another, yes, without a veil like the others, extremely thinning hair, terrifying presence. She commanded the undead and elementals of air and slew many of the hobgoblins with a single word, turning them instantly to ash."

"Is she still here somewhere?" asked Leokas.

"She only left just recently."

"Why did she leave?" asked Solisar.

"Someone summoned her back." Durbuluk shrugged. "I do not know why. She left her handmaidens behind."

"What do you know of her designs?" asked Hakam, "Why was did she come here at all?"

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu, when scouting the desert, had learned of her ancient temple. He discovered that she was seeking to restore the djinni kingdom that once ruled here, one that warred against the efreeti kingdom to the north.

"Her designs were thus completely at odds with Allustairimarinastralmindivu's. He sabotaged her works. Allustairimarinastralmindivu did not expect her to find this hidden palace of his, and he trusted in the 'protection' of the blue dragon lairing 'next door'. But with the dragon gone, she must have seen an opening for her revenge.

"Her forces annihilated us. While I am drastically more powerful than the poor miserable pure-bloods, I am no match for the mummy,... nor was Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

"The dragon Yrevkethend is gone?" asked Hakam. "Where did she go?"

Durbuluk shrugged. "She was last seen flying to the northeast, and she has not returned."

"The hobgoblins whom we freed said that she had been absent since the beginning of the year," added Leokas.

Durbuluk nodded in agreement.

"And where are Allustairimarinastralmindivu and his archwizard now?" asked Hakam.

"When he saw that his plans here had failed, miserably, he fled to the Spinning Keep."

Hakam knew that he should be familiar with the term, but he could not place it.

Solisar sensed this and explained, "The Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen is the great prison of the genies Calim and Memnon, created by the High Mage Pharos nearly 9,000 years ago."

"Why would he go to a prison?" asked Hakam.

Durbuluk chuckled. "Do you not know the legends of the Calimmemnon Crystal and the Spinning Keep?"

"Clearly I do not," Hakam replied.

"Within Siri'wadjen lies the Calimmemnon Crystal," said Solisar, "in which the entrapped essences of the two noble genies strive ever for freedom. Legends say that anyone touching the gem would obtain the powers of both Calim in Memnon. Other legends say that, if the Crystal were to come into contact with the wind of the desert or the crackle of its dried sands, then the corresponding genie would be freed. Of course, the elves protected the Crystal. No one has ever entered Siri'wadjen or successfully solved its puzzles. In fact, it is impossible even for anyone to pass through the magical field of protection surrounding it."

"Typical of snobbish, arrogant elves, your definition of 'anyone' differs from that of other races," said Durbuluk. "In truth, the protections on the Spinning Keep bar genies, humans, and elves from ever touching the surface of the magical structure, but nothing prevents a hobgoblin or a goblin, like Booyagh, from touching it." Durbuluk gave a truly devilish smile.

Hakam suddenly understood the gravity of Allu's plan and why he was so interested in hobgoblins as a race. "Curse you elves," he said. "Calishites would have protected the prison with better magics!"

"Oh, we shall just go back 9,000 years and fix that then!" said Belvin.

"History has already been written," said Solisar. "We must deal with the present."

"So, Allustairimarinastralmindivu desires the power of the Crystal and needs the hobgoblins to bypass the prison's defenses," said Hakam.

"No, Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows that the power gained from touching the Crystal is only temporary. He wants the permanent power that a fully restored Memnon can grant him. He does not want to simply touch the Crystal; he wants to free the Trapped Terrors within."

"Why would he want to free both genies?" asked Hakam.

"He only wants to free Memnon, of course, but it is likely impossible to free one without the other. His original plan was to have the backing of an army of efreet behind him when the Crystal was removed from the Keep. With the aid of a multitude of genies, surely Calim would immediately be subdued and slain, and Memnon would rule."

"Why release Memnon only to be subjugated by him?" asked Hakam.

"I have always suspected that Allustairimarinastralmindivu is no one of note on the Plane of Fire. He is not noble born. None of his efreeti kin would ever follow him. I think that he believes that if he succeeds at his elaborate plan to restore Memnon to power, then he will be rewarded handsomely or even appointed to higher status among his kind."

"It seems foolish. There is no guarantee that a genie such as Memnon would reward him."

Durbuluk shrugged again.

"What do the hobgoblins get out of all of this again?" asked Leokas.

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's ultimate goal is to free Memnon and to restore the kingdom of Memnonnar, but he knows that he needs the help of hobgoblins, and in exchange, he will return to us the hobgoblin portion of the kingdom that was once ours."

"Calimshan was never yours!" protested Hakam.

"Typical Calishite human, seeing your history the way that you want to see it! Travel north to the nation that you humans call Tethyr. To this very day, you will find a gorge with the remains of a massive monolith that my people raised thousands of years ago to the greatness of Nomog-Geaya. How many human nations have monoliths that have persisted for so many ages? Do you think that wandering bandit tribes of hobgoblins could build such a thing? No! We were a kingdom. The lands of Tethyr were fully ours, not those of the Calishites!"

Hakam thought it best to return to the matter at hand rather than argue about ancient history. "Where exactly is the Keep?"

"East of here, several day's journey on foot. I do not know the exact location, but Allustairimarinastralmindivu had obtained a journal from a gnome adventurer, who claimed to have bypassed the Keep's defenses and entered it. She left a map to the site in the journal as well."

"Was the gnome's name Samber? or Ramseb? or anything like that?" asked Hakam.

Durbuluk shook his head. "No, she only signed her name as Stumblesparkle, a typical foolish nickname among those ridiculous people."

"Is this journal and map still here?" asked Solisar.

"It is," Durbuluk replied, "in on of Allustairimarinastralmindivu's storage chambers."

"Beyond the fire traps?" asked Hakam.

"Yes."

"How can they be disabled?"

"They cannot be disabled," said Durbuluk, "but that is not a problem for a fire genie or for a hobgoblin with magical blood like mine."

"I assume that they reset."

"They do."

"Are there other traps?"

"No, but the very walls of the inner chambers are composed of fire, not of stone. You natives of this plane would not fare well."

"Are there other hobgoblins still alive here besides you?" asked Solisar.

"I know not. Remember, I was just trying to escape through the tunnel behind you with my own skin, and now I have lost a good bit of that."

"Did any other hobgoblins go with Allustairimarinastralmindivu?"

"He only took Booyagh with him."

"Why did you not also go?" asked Solisar.

"My talents are not with ancient artifacts and mysteries. I was to remain as long as I could to defend against the undead. Clearly, I failed at that task, as you have now subdued me."

Kytharrah now asked a question. "What do you guard?"

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's inner sanctum."

"What do you know of Allu's dealings with Samber?" asked Hakam.

"Samber? The same name that you mentioned earlier as a possible name for the gnome? I know nothing of anyone by this name."

"He is a wizard of great power. His was the island where the Allustairimarinastralmindivu first entered our world."

"Ah, the one from whom Allustairimarinastralmindivu stole the gate."

"Stole the gate?" asked Leokas.

"This gate here?" asked Hakam.

"Yes, the gate directly behind you."

"Why would Allu steal a gate to the Plane of Fire?" asked Solisar.

"To lead through an efreeti army for Memnon to lead," said Hakam somberly.

"Yes, exactly," confirmed Durbuluk. "As I said before, Allustairimarinastralmindivu was supremely fortunate to have found an open portal to his plane, and he simply passed through it. He came upon the abode of some powerful wizard with a portal on an isolated island and a band of hobgoblin pirates — with a sailing ship no less. Is it so surprising that he saw this as an opportunity? Everyone knows that to this very day a deep and ancient magic still bars all genies from using their own magic to enter Calimsham or wizards from calling them here. No such magic prevents a portal to the Plane of Fire from operating, however. All Allustairimarinastralmindivu had to do was dismantle the portal and transport it here to Faerûn to rebuild. As you can see behind you, he succeeded."

"Allu told the hobgoblins that the gate would bring warriors from Clangor," said Leokas.

"A lie that appealed to their simple minds more than the truth."

"How is it that Samber has not already located his missing gate and taken it back?" asked Solisar.

"The gate is protected against attempts at scrying. Allustairimarinastralmindivu is not foolish. He knows that the one from whom he stole the gate is a powerful spellcaster who could scry on the gate to find him and teleport here on a whim."

"Why has he not opened the portal yet?" asked Hakam. "Why has the Army of Fire not already come through?

"Because a petty and weak human wizard, a stowaway on Allustairimarinastralmindivu's ship, stole the key."

The party knew that this "petty" wizard was Malick of Darromar, the very one who had set this whole adventure in motion by hiring Leokas many months ago, but they tried hard not to let on to Durbuluk that they knew this or, worse, that they had the very key on one of their persons.

"Is the army waiting on the other side now?" asked Hakam.

"I do not know; I only know that until this mummy attacked us, Allustairimarinastralmindivu was still searching for the lost key. It was a major missing component to his plan. With the loss of the key and now the destruction of his army, the efreet's last chance is to free Memnon earlier than he had willed."

"Is there a way to destroy the portal?"

"I do not know that either. Booyagh might."

"Should we destroy the portal?" asked Belvin.

"There is no need for the portal to be destroyed if the key is still missing," said Solisar.

Kytharrah was growing noticeably bored of the interrogation by now and was scratching at his itching, rotting flesh, causing more fur to fall out.

"Are you satisfied yet," asked Durbuluk, "or do you have further questions?"

"Does the path behind us lead out of the caverns?" asked Solisar.

"It does, to the desert sands."

"How do Allustairimarinastralmindivu's magic bottles work?" asked Hakam. "Is he actually summoned when someone opens the bottle, or do we merely view an image of him?"

Durbuluk seemed thoughtful. "How would you know about these bottles?"

"We found one in the past and foolishly opened it."

"You. You are the ones who have the key. He has searched for so long, and had he only waited, you would have come to him!"

"Were it the case that we had the key," threatened Hakam, "we would have to eliminate anyone who might inform Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

"Now, now," said Durbuluk, "your so-called worshiper of Torm here already gave me a promise."

"Our agreement with you says nothing about finding you again after we let you go."

"After you let me go," said the half-fiend, "you will never find me again. I assure you."

"Nevertheless, you will tell us about the bottles."

"Unlike the bottles crafted by your own people to entrap efreet for their own purposes, these bottles summon Allustairimarinastralmindivu himself for a short time, after which he returns from where he came."

"If one were to open a bottle and then destroy it before that time had passed, what would happen?"

"I have no idea," said Durbuluk.

"Does Allustairimarinastralmindivu have any weaknesses? Or are there any means we could use to bargain with him?"

"You could offer him the gem key." Durbuluk smiled, but then he continued. "If that fails, you could use ice magic, which tends to work well on fire creatures. To be honest, I have never considered attacking him, so I do not know. It seems a foolish thought."

"Bored, bored, bored," complained Kytharrah.

"The fire traps in the chamber below," said Hakam, "what triggers them?"

"They only trigger for non-hobgoblins," Durbuluk replied, "and they only trigger moving away from the center of the four columns."

"So the way into the inner chambers are blocked? Is there any other way in?"

"That tunnel is the only way in. Are we finished here? Are you not yet satisfied? I have told you everything."

"To satisfy us and our agreed-upon conditions, you must tell us everything written in the gnome's journal."

"What? Absurd! I cannot read the language that the journal is written in, and even if I could, do you truly expect me to have memorized it?"

"Can you at least recall the map?"

"Not well enough to draw a copy for you. I only saw it once."

"Then you must retrieve it for us," said Hakam.

"That does not seem to me part of our agreement."

"You agreed to answer all of our questions, and we are questioning you about information found in a document that you clearly have access to. In any human court, this argument would be upheld."

"Perhaps in a human court," said Durbuluk.

"That is the only court that matters at the moment," said Hakam.

"Stay here, and I shall retrieve the the book for you."

"And risk you escaping?" said Leokas.

"We will escort you as far as to the fire traps below," said Hakam.

"So be it. That is only fair," answered the fiendish hobgoblin. "Lead the way."
Session: 99th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 20 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — The Wonders of Wildspace
~ 6th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, morning
wildspace


"I think that one prophecy is about the dragon in that one song that Jayce used to sing," said Brad.

   "What are you babbling about?" said Gren. "You've been trying to solve the prophecies for hours. We are flying higher than we've ever been; isn't that exciting enough for ya?"

   The main deck and castle decks were crowded with all 40 souls — including the animals — aboard the Frihet as it rose higher and higher into the sky, with the exception of Jayce, who was at the spelljamming helm in the forecastle. Many of the sailors were in the rigging for a better view. Even the sailors who were on their sleeping shift were here. Most were looking down, having never seen Toril from this perspective, a beautiful giant orb of blue, green, and brown, with white strands of clouds. About a third of the left side of the disk that they could see was covered in darkness, like a waxing or waning moon, as the sun was to the starboard side and they were pointing north.

   There were numerous conversations among other small groups of sailors, with one stating ignorance about the world not being flat and another responding that only a landlubber would think such a juvenile thing.

   "Some of the worlds are flat!" said Nargroth, interjecting into one such conversation. "The Rock of Bral, for one, is too small for an ocean, but even if it had one, you could not sail around it; it has a topside and a bottomside." The half-orc's tusks were fully visible, so large was his smile. So long had he wanted to leave Toril and see other worlds. It was finally happening.

   "He speaks the truth," confirmed Solisar, when one of the sailors challenged this. "The sailors had come to trust the sun elf as a fount of knowledge about spelljamming.

   Not everyone was enjoying the view. Rinald was trying to get a view down on the planet that he was leaving, but his wife Maegyn, who was severely afraid of heights, was clinging to him. His sons, Torm and Therion, were nearly hanging off the rail for a better view, which only made their mother more nervous.

   With the exception of Rinald's family, all of them had been high over the surface of Toril in the Frihet before, high enough to notice the planet's obvious curvature, but none of them this high. The magic of the spelljamming helm was such that elevation was gained far more quickly than forward motion while within the gravity well of a planet. They had been climbing and accelerating for more than a half hour now. The most they had ever traveled straight up in the past had been about five minutes.

   "How high are we?" asked Ombert, who was trying not to look nervous, as he stood at his position in the aftcastle.

   "I am not certain," said Solisar, who was standing by him. "Remember that this is the first that I have traveled so high either. Perhaps 3,000 miles? The elves of the Imperial Navy explained to me that Toril's gravity well was about 4,000 miles."

   "And what is that supposed to mean?" asked the halfling.

   "It is the point at which down will no longer be down," the elf replied. "We will know when it happens."

   "3,000 miles!" exclaimed Loreene, the short-haired first-mate. "How big is Toril?"

   "If we had tunneled that far through its surface," said Solisar, "we would not yet have reached its center."

   "Look at that there!" said one of the sailors named Diero. "Is that a tornado?" He pointed at a spiral cloud formation traveling over blue ocean far south of the continent of Zakhara, (which was itself south of Faerûn.)

   "It could not possibly be a tornado," said Solisar. "It is far to large for that. See, it would cover all of the Chultan Peninsula there. Perhaps it is what a hurricane looks like from wildspace."

   There was a sudden jolt, and Rinald's daughter Miri let out a scream before her husband Stedd calmed her.

   "What was that?" asked the captain.

   "It is what I told you would happen," said Solisar. "Our ship is now operating under its own gravity. Order our helmsman to roll us over."

   "What?"

   "Trust me."

   "Helm, roll us full about to starboard," called Ombert.

   A sailor, Indo, on the main deck below, relayed the order to Jayce in the forecastle.

   No one felt anything unusual — there was no feeling of vertigo or motion at all — but the disk of Toril that had been below them flipped around to be directly above them in a matter of seconds.

   "Valkur's beard!" cried out one of the crew.

   "Is spelljamming magic so powerful as to move the very worlds?" asked another.

   "It is we who have moved," said Solisar. "Toril is exactly where it always has been."

   "I get it," said Gullbeak. "We are upside-down now but stuck to the floor." He jumped up and down on the deck a few times to confirm his theory. (Kytharrah, too, joined in the "jumping game" and continued long after the gnomish sailor had stopped.) Maegan, seeing her world now above her instead of below her, lost all feelings of unease from height.

   Since most of them had been looking down at their world, only now did some of them notice the rest of wildspace.

   "Hey, the moon is below us now!" called one of the sailors.

   "Where are the stars?" asked Therion. "Do not the stars live in the Sea of Night?"

   "They are all still there," explained Solisar. "You simply cannot see them because the sun is too bright. We must be in its shadow to see stars; it must be night." He pointed up at Toril. "The shadow that we can see on our world is night for all those on Toril right now. If we were to sail to that side, I assure you that we would see many stars."

   "What now, navigator?" asked Ombert.

   "At this point, I think we can rely solely on the magic of the helm," said Solisar. "Give order for Jayce to point us at the moon. Then we should head directly toward it."

   Ombert called out a command to dip the bow of the ship down, which was relayed. Toril fell quickly astern and the moon, Selûne, was now directly ahead. It was a half moon, its left side aglow from the sun's brilliant light. To the right of the moon were the Tears, trailing behind in the same orbit. Only nine were visible as distinct objects at this distance, appearing as unblinking stars, but there were hundreds of asteroids in the Tears.

   "If we are 4,000 miles from Toril now," asked Oma, "how much farther is it to Selûne?"

   "According to the maps that I have acquired," said Solisar, "the moon is 183,000 miles from us."

   Oma gasped. "Even Jayce can only fly the Frihet at 80 or 90 miles per hour," she said.

   "We just came 4,000 miles in 40 minutes, remember. The spelljammer travels different speeds in different contexts. Now that we are free from Toril's gravity well, our speed will be far beyond that, almost unimaginably fast. I am told by my spacefaring kin that we can reach Selûne in mere minutes. Pardon me, I must speak with Jayce now."

   The black-haired elf moved down the steep steps from the aftcastle and crossed the deck to the forecastle doors. He entered the helm room where Jayce was sitting in the magical chair, head and arms pressed tightly into shaped recesses. Jayce's eyes stared straight ahead, but Solisar knew that the bard's senses were greatly enhanced, such that he could see every passenger on the deck outside and even any piece of seaweed stuck to the bottom of the keel.

   "So, my pointy-eared friend, how does this high-speed thing work?" asked Jayce.

   "Unfortunately, I am not certain," said Solisar, "Try to focus on the moon. Do not try to move us forward so much as concentrate on being there."

   "I shall see what I can do," said Jayce, who began humming a song as he tried to feel how to make the ship move forward. After a half minute or so, he spoke again. "Ah, I got it. We are moving. Nine hells, we are moving!"

   Solisar stepped back outside onto the deck and looked out. Everyone else was looking aftward. There were many audible gasps. Toril was shrinking, and quickly. It was subtle at first, but soon it was undeniable. Their bodies once again felt no feeling of motion; Toril and Selûne simply were changing shape behind and before them.

   After only a couple minutes, Toril was small enough behind them that one could cover it with his or her fists. As for the Tears of Selûne, several dozen were now visible.

   "I can't believe me that home is so many thousands of miles away," said Gren, looking back.

   "A hundred thousands," corrected Nargroth.

   "Do people live on the moon?" asked Niff, the bald halfling sailor.

   "Yes!" said Nargroth. "Are we stopping there?"

   "The citizens of the moon call it Leira, not Selûne as do we," said Solisar. "The Leirans are extremely xenophobic; the elves suggested strongly that we do not stop there unless we fall in dire need of air or other supplies. They even use magic to cover the near side of the moon so that their cities cannot be observed from Toril. The government of Leira actually demands that all ships approach from the far side, which we need to pass on to Jayce, as we are almost there."

   "What races live there?" asked Nargroth.

   "Primarily elves and humans, I am told."

   Ombert called out, "Dead stop!" and the moon and planet stopped changing size.

   Though it was well past the end of many of their shifts, most of the sailors remained above deck. A few, however, were growing anxious. "I don't like this!" said Rimardo. "It is too quiet out here, too... empty!" He went below deck.

   Solisar laid out a map across a small table behind Ombert. He glanced behind at Toril and ahead at Selûne (or Leira) and then made some measurements with some tools upon the map. Ombert looked at the map with him.

   "I believe that that largest speck of light there is Sadness, the largest of the Tears," explained Solisar. "All of the Tears are orbiting around the central Tear, called the Castle, which is not large enough to see from where we are, but here it is on this map."

   "How are we supposed to navigate to the Rock of Bral if the Tears are moving?" asked Ombert. "It would be like sailing to a floating island!"

   Like the moon's rotation, the speed of their orbits around the Castle are synchronized with their orbit around Toril," said Solisar. "You can think of them collectively as a single revolving object. Just like we only ever see one side of Selûne from our world, so Sadness is always about 100,000 miles from Selûne and 138,000 from Toril, no matter what time of the month it is."

   "Ah, I understand. So we can make this heading here," said Ombert, taking a measuring tool from Solisar's hands and curving out a path on the map. He then called out a heading for the crew to pass on to Jayce. Moments later, the moon and Toril and the Tears began orbiting around them, as if the Frihet were the center of the universe.

   "Take us forward!" commanded Ombert, and the Frihet launched ahead, meaning, from the perspective of those on board, that the tiny speck that was Sadness grew into an object the size of a fingernail in about half a minute's time.

   "Where is the Rock of Bral relative to Sadness?" asked Ombert.

   "It is here on the map," said Solisar, "about 20,000 miles from Sadness. Once we get closer to Sadness, we should be able to sight this Tear here, Dragon Rock. Sadness is about 50 miles in diameter and we can see it from here. Dragon Rock is the largest of the Outer Tears trailing behind Sadness. It is only ten miles in diameter, so I expect we will be able to see it clearly once we travel about 80 percent.... Yes, it must be that speck there, see?"

   Dragon Rock was indeed a tiny speck next to fingernail-sized Sadness.

   "Dragon Rock is a major spelljamming port," said Solisar. "From Dragon Rock, I am told that one aims first for Tear #213 and then Tear #202. Finally, one can sight the Rock of Bral from there, at a distance of 2,000 miles."

   "How many Tears are there?" asked Loreene.

   "Hundreds," said Solisar. "Most of them do not have names, and most are smaller than a mile in diameter. They are spread out over a distance of some 80,000 miles. The Rock is actually one of the smaller ones. It was originally a hiding spot for pirates. You can see how finding a one-mile-long object in an 80,000-mile area could be difficult if one did not know the way!"

   Omert adjusted their course and had Jayce head straight toward Dragon Rock. In only a minute's time, Dragon Rock was close enough for them to make out features. It continued to grow larger and larger until suddenly, it stopped growing.

   "What happened?" asked Ombert. "I gave no order to stop."

   "We are just at the edge of Dragon Rock's gravity well," said Solisar. "The spelljamming magic will not take us into a gravity well at wildspace speeds. We must be within about ten miles of it."

   "Something moving high above bow to port," called out the lookout from the crow's nest, gazing through a spyglass. "It look like a giant squid, but it has sails!"

   "Ye don't need a spyglass to see that," said Gullbeak. "There is another one right there, probably two miles away."

   "Are they pirate ships?" asked Szordrin.

   "What flags are they flying?" asked Solisar.

   "Ain't no skull and crossbones, but I don't know the colors either," called the lookout.

   "Is that a shark?" asked Martin. About a mile to starboard, traveling roughly parallel to the Frihet was a sailing vessel constructed to look roughly like a hammerhead shark. It was moving past them at a good pace but was clearly now under the power of wind created by its helm, as its sails were full.

   "Are all spelljammers made to look like marine creatures?" asked Belvin.

   "No, those crafted by our people make them like birds or butterflies," Solisar replied.

   Then he said, "Captain, we need you and the crew to 'sail' us around Dragon Rock. Keep us from getting any closer to it, though, or we will drop into its gravity well."

   Ombert began calling out orders for his crew to steer around the ten-mile wide rock floating in front of them in a clockwise manner.

   "Look! There are buildings on it," called out one of the sailors. It was true, they could see a collection of buildings at the edge of the asteroid. The other spelljamming vessels that they were seeing were all heading toward these buildings. They could count over a dozen other spelljammers now, some of which seemed to be docked close to the buildings.

   "It is a spaceport!" said Nargroth.

   "I think that there is another port there as well," said one of the other sailors.

   "The vessels are oriented the same as the plane of the bulk of the asteroid," noticed Ombert.

   "Yes," said Solisar. "We shall have to do the same when we approach the Rock of Bral. Otherwise, when the asteroid's gravity overcomes ours, what is sideways or up for us might suddenly become down! Notice how the buildings are all on the flatest side."

   The sailors especially were fascinated by the strange array of vessels that they saw. Besides the ones crafted to look like squid or hammerhead sharks, there were several vessels that appeared fish-like, with sails coming off the sides and bottom of the hull like fins and large curved, round windows made to look like eyes. Not all the ships had a nautical theme; there were also multiple vessels with an insect motif, with wings instead of sails and long, spindly legs, perhaps for landing on flat surfaces instead of ocean water. They were too far away to make out any persons on board these vessels, so they looked like giant creatures floating through the ocean of space. Only a few other vessels looked like a standard sea-sailing craft as they had.

   The Frihet sailed through the darkness around Dragon Rock. It was strange to everyone on board that it took them far, far longer to circle half way around a ten-mile-wide asteroid than it did to travel the nearly 300,000 miles from Toril to where they now were in their solar system. They passed scores of additional ports, each with more approaching and departing ships, as they circled, and were introduced to still more varieties — ships that looked like birds, like Kara-Turan dragons, like tiny asteroids carved to look like dwarven heads, like butterflies with wings made from giant leaves, and still others with no comparison to anything that they had ever seen.

   "That is an elven vessel," said Solisar, pointing to one of the leafy butterflies.

   There were suddenly gasps from many of the crew. "Good gods!" cried out Miri, Rinald's daughter. "They are beautiful."

   "I have never seen this many stars!" said Loreene. "They seem so much closer from here."

   As the Frihet passed into the shadow of Dragon Rock, eclipsing the sun, the decks of the Frihet were covered in darkness and brilliant stars became visible.

   Ombert was scanning space, trying to convince himself which of the many specks of light ahead of them was Tear #213. With all the stars, the process suddenly became more complicated, but this problem was solved by simply orbiting a bit further around Dragon Rock to bring the sun back into view. Then, by using Dragon Rock and Sadness as reference points, he and Solisar agreed that the third "star" to the left was #213, and Jayce sent them heading in that direction at spelljamming speed.
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Character Backgrounds
Provide a brief background of your character and their thoughts about the letter they received.
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My Life Story - told by Belegor (me)
When I was born, my parents named me Belegor, which comes from the word beleg, which means ‘great’ in Elvish. I believe the name fits me very well. My mother was an elf, and my father was a human. My father was a drunkard, though, and they didn’t stay together long after that. My father took ownership of me after they broke up.
My father bought a ranch and we lived off of it. Over that time, he taught me the finer things in life: drinking, flexing, and hitting things really hard, preferably all at once. I excelled at them all.
For my 18th birthday, my father gave me a big axe that he said would make me a true warrior. He said I could put my mark in the hilt, to truly make it mine. I went out into our bull pen and slaughtered the biggest one with the axe, and then I asked my father to put the eye of the bull in the hilt. He laughed and said he was proud of me. The next time he went into town, he did what I asked. With such a mighty blade, he said, I should go out into the world and prove myself as a true fighter.
Since then, I have done all I can to make my father proud. I drink a lot, flex a lot, and kill many things. He said it would give me a charm the women can’t resist, but I haven’t had much luck with that so far. It must be because of my looks. I am strong like a human, but I have the elegance of an elf. Bah, elegance. As far as I know, you can’t kill things with it, so what good is it? Ugh. I need another drink.
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Epic × 3!
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Prelude
"Dead slow!" shouted the halfling. "Prepare for landing."

   Captain Ombert Stronghull's orders were relayed from aftcastle to main deck to the helm room in the forecastle.

   Toward the aft of the main deck, young Oma yr Raisa el Catahras crouched low in her violet gown with her arms around her knees. "Oh, I do not like the idea of landing," she said.

   The seven-foot-tall, 300-pound frame of the half-orc Nargroth Kilmander, in stark contrast, was half-hanging over the port railing, enjoying the rush of a controlled fall out of the sky. "I do not like the idea of crashing;" he called back. "Landing is great!"

   "You are not helping!"

   "Lay down!" called the Captain. Oma sprawled herself flat on the deck, not understanding the naval command.

   "Lay down!" echoed Martin, a human sailor standing near the forecastle with a daisy tattoo on his bicep.

   The 40-ton bulk of the Frihet was now some twenty feet over the deep waters of the Shining Sea — now fifteen feet, now ten feet.

   "All hands, brace for landing!" shouted Ombert.

   ...now five feet.... The flying galleon struck the surface with a slap, as walls of ocean spray shot forth on both sides to collapse again in a sizzle. Beneath their feet, they felt the wood of the deck surge.

   Tied up within a small pen in the center of the deck toward the stern, a dromedary camel and a white warhorse nuzzed and neighed. Nargroth stroked the back of each of their necks. "Do not be afraid, Kamila and Cloud," he said soothingly.

   "Helm down!" commanded the Captain, and his order was echoed once again. Suddenly, a cool breeze reached them, carrying with it the smell of salt water, as the atmospheric envelope surrounding them was dispelled.

   "Jayce's landing was more vigorous than yours have been," noted Hakam yn Hamdulah el Anachtyr, as he clutched to the aftcastle rail to the right of where the captain stood on a crate behind the wheel of the mundane helm.

   "He did a fair job," said Solisar Keryth, who was standing next to the Calishite cleric. "Remember that the spelljammer travels much faster now," added the gold elf.

   Ombert licked his finger and held it to the wind. "Of course! We are coming in against the wind...," he said. Then he called out, "Stand by to go about!"

   Nargroth made the two large animals lie down, and then he and Martin rushed over to the main sail. Two other pairs of sailors rushed to the other sails. There were Gren and Niff to the bow and Loreene and Brad to the stern.

   Jayce, looking as out-of-place as usual in his dark eye lenses, stepped out onto the main deck from one of the doors to the forecastle. "How did I do? Amazing piloting, eh?" He removed some flint from his pouch and prepared to light his pipe.

   "Rougher than I would have preferred," answered Hakam.

   "You almost made me puke, orcwit," said Oma.

   "Ready about?" shouted the captain.

   "Aye, aye!" called back the six sailors in near unison.

   Ombert spun the wheel counterclockwise, exhibiting more strength than one would expect from such a small humanoid. "Helm's a'lee."

   "Lee ho!" called the six sailors in unison, as they yanked simultaneously on taught ropes.

   Jayce ducked at just the right moment as the boom of the main mast swung overhead as he approached the aftcastle steps to join his friends.

   The Frihet was tacking into the wind, which was from the north. The three adventurers now looked to starboard to take in their destination, the great city of Calimport, the most populous city in the known world.

   "I must admit that sailing under the power of the spelljamming helm is far simpler than under the power of Akadi," said Ombert. "The wind is always behind us when we are aloft."

   "I could cause it to come from the bow if you prefer a challenge," said Jayce.

   "The wall is indeed impressive," said Solisar. He was referring to the twenty-foot tall sea wall that surrounded the capital of Calimshan.

   "In the stories of my people," Hakam said, as if quoting from memory, "the foundations of these walls were laid by marid and dao during the time of the reign of Calim."

   "We know," said Jayce. "You are talking to a bard and an historian, remember?"

   "They are signalling us," said Solisar. A series of colored flags of various shapes had been run up a pole atop one of the towers of the wall.

   "Yes, yes, I know what the wind speed is," mumbled Ombert, as if someone had spoken to him. Then he called out, "Signal our answer!"

   A spindly gnome at the forecastle was rapidly attaching flags to a rope. (Ombert had hired him and several other sailors on at a town in Lantan, after Hakam and Jayce had convinced the hin to captain their magical vessel, since the Frihet was somewhat larger than the halfling-built Daisy.) The gnome had a rather pointed nose, and the other sailors (at his request) called him "Gullbeak".

   The flags were displayed, and they waited for the harbormaster to respond with a new set of flags.

   "We are permitted entry into the port," said Ombert.

   "Then take us in, good captain," said Jayce.

   Under Ombert's expert piloting, the Frihet passed between the two guard towers at the gate of the great sea wall, which was thirty feet thick. It was an annoyingly slow process and required the efforts of many sailors.

   "That is a good number of boats," said Jayce. He was severely understating the view before them — literally half a thousand sailing vessels were within the sheltered harbor. The waters themselves were covered in debris, both floating trash and the tops of wreckage. Rising from the wooden docks at the shore was the great metropolis of Calimport, with stone and mud-brick buildings of every shape and size surrounded by tents and flags of all colors and punctuated by domes, arches, and minarets galore. Rivers of people could be seen in the streets leading down to the water.

   "I dropped him off at the marina there," said Hakam, pointing to the left. He was referring to their wizard companion, Szordrin Dundragon.

   "Aye, but the harbormaster is sending us to those larger docks on the other side," said Ombert.

   "Where did you tell him to meet us?" asked Solisar.

   "At the marina," said Hakam.

   "Well, it will not hurt us to step aground for a bit, will it?" asked Jayce.

   "The longer we tarry, the greater the chance that Yrevkethend breaks through to the refugees," said Hakam.

   "I am just going to get a single drink with Loreene and Gren," said Jayce.

   "And with me," called up Nargroth from the main deck.

   "Fear not, good cleric; we are not going to visit a festhall!" continued Jayce.

   "Hey, maybe you aren't!" said Brad as he tied off a rope behind them.

   Hakam still looked annoyed at the prospect of a long stop.

   "Look, I have not been to the mainland in months; I am not going to stand on the ship while you search for a tiefling amongst all these people. Also, recall that I have sat on my hindquarters for the last eight hours and that magic chair is no Calishite floor pillow!"

   So, once the ship was docked, a good number of the sailors headed into the taverns of Affar Drudach of Ylar Sabban, the Inn Sabban, while Hakam and Solisar struggled to push their way through the crowds west toward the marina. The streets had an overwhelming smell of seafood from all the fishmongers selling their wares.

   "Watch your money pouch," warned Hakam, who was clearly uncomfortable with the throngs of people about.

   "Is Memnon like this?" asked Solisar, referring to his friend's home.

   "Not at all," said Hakam. "It is far less crowded. Also, I rarely go down to the street level; I walk the drudach walls."

   Solisar glanced to the right and noticed an elevated pathway with steps periodically leading up to it. Many of the buildings had entryways opening to this walkway rather than to the dusty ground below. They were approaching an archway in one of these drudach walls and passed through.

   "We have entered a new district or sector," explained Hakam.

   They passed through another similar arch as they followed a winding road through the Dock Ward, passing countless bazaar tents and booths, inns and taverns, and sea-related guildhalls, until they reached the marina in Bayown Drudach of Jarûz Sabban and walked out onto the floating wooden platform.

   Hakam was correct to assume that Szordrin would be waiting for them at the same spot where he had dropped him off months ago. The black-bearded wizard stood by a couple barrels, and his weasel familiar, Ferry, was curled up and napping atop one of them.

   "Alae! said Solisar. "It is good to see you, Szordrin."

   "Why do you have two barrels?" said Hakam.

   "They are full of spices," said Szordrin. "Calishite spices are the rage on the Rock of Bral, remember? I have arranged for us to make a good profit from this."

   "Black market spices, no doubt."

   "Not at all! They were legitimately purchased from Pasha Halus!"

   "Even so, we have no need for more cargo. Captain Stronghull and I already arranged for a trade agreement with the Lantanna. The Frihet is full of smokepowder and clockwork inventions, purchased from the sale of The Daisy."

   "So we are sailing a large explosive into wildspace now? It seems that spices are a safer route. I spent my own coin on these barrels up front; they are coming with us."

   "Fine, but you are going to have to wait here for me to go get Nargroth and another sailor; Solisar and I cannot carry those!"

   "I shall be here waiting as before."

   So Hakam and Solisar left the marina to find Nargroth. As they walked away, Ferry clicked and chirped at his master.

   "Yes, Ferry, I am well aware that Pasha Halus is the leader of the Loyal Order of Fishmongers, not the Spicemonger Fellowship."

~~~~

   "So, I poked me head in a place called the Copper Ante," said Brad. "Learned today that hin dames look just the same as human dames under their clothes."

   "Why wouldn't they?" asked Loreene. "Hin are just miniature humans."

   "Racist," stated Niff, who was himself a halfling.

   "I expected them to have hairier feet!" explained Brad.

   "Why would they have hairy feet?" asked Gren.

   "Haven't you seen the captain's feet?"

   "What I don't understand," said Martin, "is why did they need to be without clothes for you to notice their feet? As usual, you do not make any sense!"

   "It's the style these days for ladyfolk to shave their feet," said Niff.

   "Is it the style for menfolk these days to shave their heads?" asked Gren. (Niff was bald.) "And why are your feet shaved?"

   "Hey, look! It's our favorite trickster wizard, Szordrin," said Martin.

   Hakam, Solisar, and Szordrin were coming across the gangplank. Behind them Nargroth and a sailor named Guttar were carrying the two barrels over their heads as if they were baskets of laundry. (Guttar was a huge, muscular man who never spoke.) They carried the barrels to the cargo hold in the steerage deck.

   "Let me show you what my kin did to enhance the ship," said Solisar, guiding Szordrin into the forecastle and past the open door to the small room where the magic helm sat. "First of all, it turns out that the helm that we had was a Netherese spelljamming helm, which was only a rumor among the scholars of spelljamming history. They were much slower than standard helms but had the added feature of causing a ship to hover for many hours, even when the helmsmen vacated the chair. You can see how this would be useful to a nation with many flying cities. The elves were delighted to have come across a real specimen and offered an even trade of a modern major helm for our Netherese helm, which they wanted to study and display in a museum."

   The new helm had a more elegant look to it than their old helm. Solisar led Szordrin further on to the steps down to the lower deck and continued, "I agreed to the trade but also got them to agree to refurbish the ship and build separate cabins. As an example, here is our new wizards' laboratory."

   The lower deck, which used to be a mostly open space, except for the first mate's cabin and the galley in the stern. Now had a narrow hallway leading aft with doors on each side. Solisar opened one on the left to reveal a small rectangular cabin with a desk, a shelf for books and scrolls, and an assortment of candles and writing implements.

   "Across the hall here is our crew lounge." This room was a bit larger and had a table and chairs for eight.

   About this same table, Hakam, Solisar, Szordrin, Jayce, and Oma later sat that evening, as above deck, the captain and his crew piloted the ship out of Calimport harbor.

   "Mythlos arrived at the keep," Hakam explained to Szordrin, "but he found it destroyed, flattened to the ground by the blue dragon. Yrevkethend managed to track Rinald there. Rinald was able to evacuate a good number of the keep's inhabitants into the dwarven ruins below. They are all, including Mythlos, now holding up there, but their supplies and food are running out. We have already stocked the ship with food for them."

   "How long ago did this happen?" asked Szordrin.

   "Near the beginning of the year."

   "I suspect that this was motivated by the dracorage," said Solisar.

   "It must be what caused her to violate her agreement with Sseth and the bronze dragons," said Jayce.

   "I have already notified the duchess of Tethyr," Hakam continued. "She was aware of the rage, but her armies are spread thin with other matters. Before we can head into wildspace, we need to rescue Mythlos and Rinald and any other refugees."

   "It seems to me that Rinald should have offered himself to the dragon and spared the destruction and loss of life," said Szordrin. "He put his own family at severe risk."

   "You never met Rinald," said Jayce. "He was a good man and would certainly have sacrificed himself if it would have changed matters."

   "In a manner of speaking, I did meet Rinald."

   "A statue of Rinald does not count," said Jayce.

   "We will reach the Rock of Bral shortly enough, Szordrin," said Solisar. "The new helm is significantly faster. We will make up lost time."

   "We have no deadline in any case," said Hakam. "Leokas is free from his geas; we are free from the ice devil Tosvin; our exile by Samber is over; and Ilthian is back on her island."

   "Presumably," said Solisar.

   "The more time we give Samber, the more powerful he will become," said Szordrin.

   "Cassiera and Galadrel arrived safely at the High Forest before Mythlos left them," continued Hakam, ignoring Szordrin's protest.

   "Cassiera was that snake woman who stowed away on The Daisy, was she not?" asked Oma. "She followed you into the mine before you all vanished, but who is Galadrel?"

   "Galadrel is Leokas' mother," explained Solisar.

   "She was his wolf, Stormshadow, in disguise this whole time," said Szordrin. "We only found out becuase we entered an anti-magic field in our travels."

   "A werewolf?" she asked.

   "A lythari," corrected Solisar.

   "And what about Samber?" asked Szordrin. "He is, after all, the only reason all of us are together."

   "I was just waiting my turn," said Jayce. "Let me tell you what I have already shared with Hakam and Solisar.

   "Samber was born in the settlement of Dtakkar on the island of Suj about 50 years ago. His full name is Samber Lamstrand. Both names are common Lantanna names. He started out with a typical story. Like many boys in Dtakkar, he took an apprenticeship in one of the clockwork toy factories. He also became a follower of Gond and became one of that church's temple boys.

   "I found that Samber learned magic from a young friend named Ronan who was an orphan and raised by gnomes. The boy was not Lantanna, and he was described as having silver hair and golden eyes."

   "A half-gold half-silver elf, perhaps?" asked Solisar.

   "No, he definitely was not an elf," continued Jayce. "In any case, this boy who introduced Samber to arcane magic and his whole gnomish family vanished one day, and no one knows where they went. Samber, I am told, was not that bothered by it."

   "He probably murdered them," said Szordrin.

   "As a child?" said Oma.

   "If Samber were a murderer, I believe that all of us would be dead by now," said Solisar.

   "His sins are deeper than that," said Hakam.

   "That is all I know of Samber's childhood," said Jayce. "Once he reached adulthood, he became a full clergy member of the Church of Gond. Those who knew him during that time claimed that he was one of their most promising priests. He mixed his arcane and divine magics to animate the toys that he created and became mildly famous for this in Dtakkar. This fame attracted the attention of a woman named Avilda SeKorc. He proposed, and the two were married after about a year of courting."

   "And Avilda looks like Ilthian?" asked Szordrin.

   "Yes," Jayce replied, "but she had red hair, green eyes, and pale freckled skin, like the average Lantanna maiden.

   "Samber and Avilda seemed to have had a happy marriage, at first, but they were unable to have children. This devestated both of them, and they tried a wide assortment of solutions, including herbs and the most bizarre gnomish contraptions, all without success.

   "I spoke with Avilda directly, and she told me that she left Samber because he 'loved his work more than me,' but the town gossip says differently. See, Avilda remarried and had four children with her new husband. Samber is the one who is infertile. He knew this and tried his hardest to give his wife children. According to the elderly neighbors, Avilda left because Samber began experimenting with creating a child using magic, which ended with disturbing results.

   "The priests of Gond told me that Avilda's departure threw Samber into a severe depression. Her remarriage drove him mad, and he disappeared. No one in Lantan has heard from or seen him since."

   "When did he disappear again?" asked Solisar.

   "About 35 years ago."

   There was a knock on the door. It was Nargroth. "Milady, the captain is calling to lay aloft. We have cleared the harbor; you are needed at the helm."

   Oma rose to head to the spelljamming helm.

   "Well, that is the story I have," said Jayce. "Now I am off to bed. Wake me when we reach Belvin and Leokas."
Session: 101st Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 18 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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