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A Thistle among Roses

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Introduction to A Thistle among Roses
The following text is meant to represent diary excerpts written by my character (Julie “Thistle” Simons) in our current Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle, but there are a few things I would like to say about this project before I set out. To start with, I am entirely new to Vampire and I have been miraculously avoiding the game until very recently. Therefore, it seemed fitting to play a character who knows about as much about the world as I do. She was embraced two weeks prior to play and therefore shares my own confusion and ignorance about what is so cool about vampires.

Furthermore, this is an experiment in writing fiction in English, something I have not done before to any great extent (I cannot remember a single instance, actually). The text is deliberately pretentious in style, which feels somewhat odd, because that is not a style I would ascribe to myself normally. However, I will do my best to capture the world of my character as I perceive it, whilst trying to keep at least some dignity. Any kind of feedback is welcome as long as it is contstrucive and I would like to say thank you to those of you who have already contributed.

Some problems will arise for those of you who are not fluent in Swedish, since I do not intend to reproduce material already existing in Swedish (like information about the other characters, for instance). Apart from that, I hope that the diary will speak for itself, so now the time has come for me to step aside and let Thistle in.

A Thistle among Roses so far
Part I: Omega Alpha
Part II: Dead in a City that Sleeps
Part III: Death and Deliverance

Some useful links
Wikipedia entry on Vampire: the Masquerade
Discussion thread on Rollspel.nu (in Swedish)
Thistle described in that thread (also in Swedish)

Part III: Death and Deliverance
A faint breeze touching my face, the muffled sound of traffic, a chink of light between the heavy curtains; slowly I opened my eyes. I inhaled, felt the cool morning air fill my lungs, and as I exhaled, I let the nightmare flow out and dissolve. As usual, the illusion felt frighteningly real and with its clutches driven deep into my still drowsy soul, it refused to let go. Gradually as I breathed, reality returned and the night’s dream gradually faded into memory, one bit at a time. Breathing in…

…breathing out, standing outside the derelict building, the others engaged in conversation about how to best charge the occupants and free the sheriff. They went in, leaving Sam and myself outside in the chill, dank air. Realising that the two figures were gone from the room, we tried to warn the others, but it was too late. Gunfire erupted from inside the building and after some confused commotion of noise and fighting, one of the figures had disappeared and the other was unconscious.

…breathing out, back at the Elysium, trying to find somewhere safe to put the rescued sheriff. Two strange figures arrived, allegedly goons sent by Robert’s mentor. After some questioning, they left with both the sheriff and the captured man, or whatever he was, who had been torturing the sheriff. Sam was acting more strange than usual, and invoked on us his bizarre interpretation of the word “art”, using only a severed arm and the brick wall of the Elysium.

…breathing out, Robert ordering me to follow him to his apartment and me refusing. Oh, how I wish he wouldn’t be so obstinate. I would’ve liked to tell him I was sorry, but I instead I became angry and yelled at him again. I tried to resist when I grabbed me and shoved me into the boot of his car, and I might actually have had a chance to get away if it hadn’t been for Sam, the bastard. I thought he was on my side, but obviously not. I was all alone.

…breathing out, lying sprawled on the floor of Robert’s apartment, realising that he has passed out. Feeling a heavy tiredness coming over me, I went to sleep, curled up in a corner. Sam avoided me, and I couldn’t believe why he had betrayed me like that, why he had taken sides against me. Then, finally I fell asleep and the dream ended, or so I thought.

More urgent matters of the day forced out the memories of the night, today was the first examination on the course in mathematics and I had to pass, because otherwise my meddlesome parents would cause problems. I spent the entire day revising, but even though the understanding was there, I never seemed to be able to apply it to the questions asked. At noon, I left for the university and took the exam. Leaving, I thought I’d failed. I went home, fell asleep early, exhausted by the mental effort.

And then the coin of dreams flipped again, and waking up, realising I was in Robert’s apartment, I panicked. The memory of my day of studying receded and the imminent terror I felt the night before began to return. Robert and Sam still seemed to be asleep, so I slipped out and hurried towards the university. Behind me, I could almost feel how they woke up, how they would start searching for me to bring me back among their horrible midst. Ahead of me, I had an exam to pass, having made a special arrangement enabling me to do it in the evening. The questions were exactly the same and the answers flowed from my mind onto the paper without effort. Handing in the exam after a third of the allowed time, I felt sure I had nailed it.

I felt a pang of nausea as I closed the door behind me, and had to lean on the wall for support as I dragged myself to the bathroom. I felt like I had been depraved of something essential for months, I felt hunger, lust, thirst, need for… no, I wasn’t yet prepared to follow that line of thought to its obvious conclusion. In a few minutes, my actions would soon show what was true anyway. Inside the ladies’ room, there was a girl standing in front of one of the mirrors, brushing her blonde hair from her temples. I don’t know what triggered my reaction, but it might have been the sight of her pale, vulnerable neck.

As I hit her from behind, her forehead shattered the mirror into a hailstorm of glass, falling with us towards the tiled floor. Blood spurted from a gash over her left eyebrow and not being able to control myself, I began licking it desperately, tearing at the edges of the wound, trying to increase the flow. It felt like having walked through a thousand mile desert, almost dying of thirst, and then being offered one droplet of life-giving water at a time. I craved more. Ignoring her frail, flailing arms, I slammed her head backwards into the floor, exposing throbbing arteries. Instead of just sinking my teeth into the poor girl, as I had done with the young man in the park, I tore at the flesh, ripping tissue and severing blood vessels. I’m surprised that I managed to drink any of it, because it was cascading in such quantities that most of it must surely have been splattered onto the floor, my clothes and the dying female struggling underneath me. When it was all over, I experienced the strangest feeling, as if I had cheated my way into paradise.

I must have passed out for a few seconds, because when I woke up, the feeling of bliss was gone and understanding what I had done, a mounting despair grew in my heart. Her innocent, young body was sprawled on the floor, a pool of blood still expanding as I watched. There was blood and glass everywhere, but instead of the attraction I’d just felt to it, I felt only aversion and anguish. Not only had I done again what I did to the young man in the park, but this time, I had also killed someone, I had done to her what was done to me two weeks ago. It had to end, and it had to end now.

Not knowing quite how I got there, I found myself on the rooftop, balancing on the edge of a fifty-foot drop. I looked across the skyline, the sky to the west still bearing the fading colours of the dying day, I realised that I did not belong here. What I once had been was stolen from me and I had become part of a nightmare. For two weeks, I lived with it, because it affected only me. Until tonight. Slowly, I leaned forward and began to fall to the ground, towards death and deliverance.

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Introduction to A Thistle among Roses
The following text is meant to represent diary excerpts written by my character (Julie “Thistle” Simons) in our current Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle, but there are a few things I would like to say about this project before I set out. To start with, I am entirely new to Vampire and I have been miraculously avoiding the game until very recently. Therefore, it seemed fitting to play a character who knows about as much about the world as I do. She was embraced two weeks prior to play and therefore shares my own confusion and ignorance about what is so cool about vampires.

Furthermore, this is an experiment in writing fiction in English, something I have not done before to any great extent (I cannot remember a single instance, actually). The text is deliberately pretentious in style, which feels somewhat odd, because that is not a style I would ascribe to myself normally. However, I will do my best to capture the world of my character as I perceive it, whilst trying to keep at least some dignity. Any kind of feedback is welcome as long as it is contstrucive and I would like to say thank you to those of you who have already contributed.

Some problems will arise for those of you who are not fluent in Swedish, since I do not intend to reproduce material already existing in Swedish (like information about the other characters, for instance). Apart from that, I hope that the diary will speak for itself, so now the time has come for me to step aside and let Thistle in.

Introduction to A Thistle among Roses
The following text is meant to represent diary excerpts written by my character (Julie “Thistle” Simons) in our current Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle, but there are a few things I would like to say about this project before I set out. To start with, I am entirely new to Vampire and I have been miraculously avoiding the game until very recently. Therefore, it seemed fitting to play a character who knows about as much about the world as I do. She was embraced two weeks prior to play and therefore shares my own confusion and ignorance about what is so cool about vampires.

Furthermore, this is an experiment in writing fiction in English, something I have not done before to any great extent (I cannot remember a single instance, actually). The text is deliberately pretentious in style, which feels somewhat odd, because that is not a style I would ascribe to myself normally. However, I will do my best to capture the world of my character as I perceive it, whilst trying to keep at least some dignity. Any kind of feedback is welcome as long as it is contstrucive and I would like to say thank you to those of you who have already contributed.

Some problems will arise for those of you who are not fluent in Swedish, since I do not intend to reproduce material already existing in Swedish (like information about the other characters, for instance). Apart from that, I hope that the diary will speak for itself, so now the time has come for me to step aside and let Thistle in.

A Thistle among Roses so far
Part I: Omega Alpha
Part II: Dead in a City that Sleeps
Part III: Death and Deliverance

Some useful links
Wikipedia entry on Vampire: the Masquerade
Discussion thread on Rollspel.nu (in Swedish)
Thistle described in that thread (also in Swedish)

Part II: Dead in a City that Sleeps
I was swimming in an ocean of pain, thrashing about, desperately trying to stay afloat. The roiling surface was coloured by my own blood, emanating from a gaping hole in my heart, the centre of my universe. A ghastly light without source lit this inner ocean, revealing to me that there were no shores, no means of escape and no way to end the suffering. But then, suddenly the churning stopped, the light faded and I felt solid ground underneath my feet. As the fluid drained away, so did my strength to fight, and when all support was gone, I found myself lying facedown, a wooden floor expanding farther than I could see.

After what felt like only a few minutes, someone picked me up by the scruff of the neck, and forcing my eyes open to slits, I peered out at yet another nightmare. I seemed to be on some kind of stage with an audience gathered in small groups, some standing together, subdued voices reaching me, but their meaning swallowed by the distance, others sitting around a large table, also engaged in conversation. None of them seemed to care about me. Then I turned my head and saw who, or what, was holding me, and if I’d had a beating heart, the sight would have made it stop dead. His face was the face of a man long dead, bleak cheekbones protruding through the thin scraps that had presumably once been flesh. For a moment, I stared into his eyes, which seemed to have been put into the sockets from somewhere else, not quite fitting. I was drawn into the abysmal blackness of his pupils, and the more I looked, the more they dilated, until the void engulfed me.

I can only vaguely recall what happened after that. His gaze seemed to pierce right through me and I could still see him, even with my eyes squeezed shut. He scrutinised my soul for an eternity before releasing me, letting me collapse into a heap on the cold floor. Rolling into a foetal ball, I tried desperately to wake up, to open my eyes and see the white-painted ceiling of my apartment and once again realise that it had been nothing but a bad dream. But however hard I concentrated, the voices and conversations on and around the stage kept seeping into my mind, refusing to go away, mentioning my name, pulling me back into the whirling nightmare. Eventually, a deep, rasping voice, filled with authority and power, agreed to keep me alive. Why I don’t know, if this is what existence is about, I hardly see much point in going on.

Lying there on the stage, alone in my universe, I thought about the young man I’d lured into the shadows the day before. Looking back to what happened that evening, I can’t understand what force drove me to do something like that; it was like I was possessed by some evil spirit who forced me out from my apartment to prowl the streets, almost as if I was hunting for something in the night. At the time, I just felt an urge to be with someone, anyone. For myself, alone. I found him standing somewhat tipsy in a corner, looking like he didn’t know where to go next. Smiling shyly, I asked him if he wanted to share a fag with me. He laughed heartily and probably thought I was an exchange student or something, but yes, he’d love to share a cigarette with me. As we began to walk slowly, he explained to me that Americans generally mean “a male homosexual” when they say “fag”, and that my question therefore had been rather funny. As if I didn’t know. I laughed with him anyway. I’ve always been good at mimicking dialects and I find British English to be rather quaint.

Soon, I couldn’t control myself and ignoring all social codes, in the shade of a vast maple, I pulled him towards me and kissed him hungrily. He must have thought me mad or high, but he didn’t try to resist me until the blood began to flow. I honestly do not know what happened, but suddenly there was blood all over, on his neck, on the lapels of my blouse and on my hands. In my mouth, the taste making me dizzy. I felt exalted, I felt life return to my thirsting body and with it came a sensation of absolute bliss, like if we had already had sex and this was the perfect climax. It was ended abruptly, however, when someone cannoned into me from behind, knocking the wind out of me and sending me sprawling, facedown on the wet grass. Soon, the bastard followed me down and made sure I couldn’t move. I heard my young lover’s shrieks subside, gradually giving way to muffled whimpering.

When I finally was pulled to my feet, I could turn my head enough to see what was going on behind me, although strong arms still encircled my chest from behind and effectively pinned my arms to my sides. A small man, dressed in what looked like a shabby lab coat was staring into the young man’s limp face. I don’t know what kind of mesmerising gaze that little man possessed, but after a couple of minutes during which I dared neither to act nor to speak, the young man stumbled away, muttering incomprehensibly about going home to sleep. The small, weasel-like man turned his very much unwanted attention to me and told his unseen companion a lot of things I didn’t understand. He said that my blood was thin and that he couldn’t determine my lineage and that there was something unusual with me that he couldn’t pinpoint. After a moment’s consideration, he told his burly companion to “convey her to our vehicle”, as if I was some sort of commodity! The grip was relaxed, but as soon as I turned around to look at my assailant, something sharp and hideous hit me squarely between my breasts, and all my strength dwindled away as he hoisted me onto his shoulder and carried me away.

Fully occupied with feeling miserable and worrying over whatever happened to that young man, it took me a while to become aware of the fact that it was Sam who was dragging me across the floor, away from the stage. I noticed that people had been speaking about me, that some sort of deal had been sealed in which Sam and some other fellow called Robert had been designated as our guardians. I didn’t know who “we” were, but everything that lead away from that stage had to be good, so I stumbled to my feet and, supported by Sam, I made my way out of the great hall into an entrance lobby. During the ensuing conversation, I was able to sort out that this Robert fellow wasn’t particularly pleased by having this extra responsibility thrown upon his shoulders. I kept close to Sam, both for physical and emotional support, and he valiantly defended me in front of these objectionable types.

Later, the man in the lab coat, whose name was Dr. Moss, called us inside to talk with Calebros, the Prince of New York. A whispering conversation with Sam made me understand what this was all about. The Prince turned out to be the horrid being who had scrutinised me on the stage, and I averted my eyes from him the whole time, trying to forget the face I associated with that deep, rasping voice. He gave us a mission to free a sheriff, a man whose name I had never heard. When we were on our own again, the endless rant about our being worthless vermin continued, but fortunately, he soon left us to go fetch his car. Perhaps I should say something about the others, except for Sam and Robert, who have had their share of this story already. First, there is Dylan, an eloquent Irishman who seems to be the most sensible in the group, always having something relevant to say and treating me like a person and not something the cat dragged in. Second, there is Rafi, who looks like he’s from the Middle-East, but claiming to have lost his memory, he doesn’t know much about his past. Perhaps he is nice, but I feel somewhat uneasy about him.

I bought a packet of cigarettes to calm my nerves, but surprisingly, my lighter sparked more than just a flame. Rafi, the fifth member of our little group, panicked and threw himself on the ground, seemingly wanting to get away from me. Sam quickly stepped between us and as soon as the flame died and my cigarette was merely smouldering, Rafi regained control of himself. Again, they were upon me like vultures, with Robert in the lead, scolding me for the obvious crime of lighting a cigarette. Actually, it felt rather good to know that these people had weaknesses, that they were afraid of something I wasn’t. When the situation had cooled down somewhat, Dylan gently pointed at me and mildly told me to look down. I wish I hadn’t.

I inhaled the smoke deeply, but I hadn’t noticed that some of it didn’t take the normal route to freedom via my nostrils, but rather sought its way out through the front of my coat. Not believing what I was seeing, I undid the buttons and put my hand inside to let it run over my blouse, feeling the outline of my bra and… something else. The cloth covering my left breast was torn and underneath the fabric, an inch from my sternum, was a gaping hole, as if the nightmare had been true and someone had really driven a stake through my heart. Seeing my distress, Dylan guided me through a procedure I can neither explain nor remember clearly, but after focusing on something else and somehow telling my body to heal, the wound was gone. Still, I know it was not a hallucination, because the clothing is still in shreds.

We soon left for the harbour in order to investigate something concerning Rafi. Apparently, he had arrived in the city on a ship on which he was the sole survivor, the rest of the crew having been mysteriously slaughtered. There was also something about a coffin, which seemed to be the important bit. However, someone managed to drive of with it without us realising it until it was too late. Apart from the first half of the registration number, we didn’t have much to go on.

After a while, when I felt stronger, I wanted to return to my apartment, which turned out to be a fairly bad move. For some outlandish, freaking reason, they, and I mean all of them, but particularly Robert, had gotten into their heads that my life was to be wiped clean. He even had the nerve to stand in my living room and propose to set fire to the entire apartment! I forgot all my fears and just tried to get everyone to leave as soon as possible. What frightened me most was that all of them seemed to be against me, albeit that Dylan had a more rational approach and actually tried to make me understand why I had to join them and not stay here. Even Sam was against me. Thinking of the poor man I had assaulted the night before, I decided to join them, not wanting to let that happen again.

We finally arrived in Riverdale, where this sheriff guy was supposed to be, the only problem being that we had no idea where to begin. While standing there arguing what to do next, I dropped my cigarette, and not thinking more about it, I lit the last one I had left. However, I dropped this as well, and bending down to pick it up, through a cellar window, I caught a glimpse of the most horrible scene imaginable. Before I recoiled, I realised that a mutilated body was hanging from the ceiling with two men standing nearby as if interrogating or examining the corpse. What had I been drawn into, standing outside this building late at night, preparing to charge in to rescue a man I’d never heard of? If there was a god, I’d pray to him for this to be a nightmare and for the morning sun to bring deliverance rather than death.

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Introduction to A Thistle among Roses
The following text is meant to represent diary excerpts written by my character (Julie “Thistle” Simons) in our current Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle, but there are a few things I would like to say about this project before I set out. To start with, I am entirely new to Vampire and I have been miraculously avoiding the game until very recently. Therefore, it seemed fitting to play a character who knows about as much about the world as I do. She was embraced two weeks prior to play and therefore shares my own confusion and ignorance about what is so cool about vampires.

Furthermore, this is an experiment in writing fiction in English, something I have not done before to any great extent (I cannot remember a single instance, actually). The text is deliberately pretentious in style, which feels somewhat odd, because that is not a style I would ascribe to myself normally. However, I will do my best to capture the world of my character as I perceive it, whilst trying to keep at least some dignity. Any kind of feedback is welcome as long as it is contstrucive and I would like to say thank you to those of you who have already contributed.

Some problems will arise for those of you who are not fluent in Swedish, since I do not intend to reproduce material already existing in Swedish (like information about the other characters, for instance). Apart from that, I hope that the diary will speak for itself, so now the time has come for me to step aside and let Thistle in.

A Thistle among Roses so far
Part I: Omega Alpha
Part II: Dead in a City that Sleeps
Part III: Death and Deliverance

Some useful links
Wikipedia entry on Vampire: the Masquerade
Discussion thread on Rollspel.nu (in Swedish)
Thistle described in that thread (also in Swedish)

Part I: Omega Alpha
Where to begin? I truly don’t know, because the events of the last two weeks have totally shattered my world, and finding a stable point of reference seems beyond my capabilities. I write this because I think that perhaps it will help me reconstructing my world into something coherent and comprehensible, but deep down I know that if I can’t find something or someone stable, all my efforts will be in vain. Nevertheless, I will try, because I don’t have much choice, do I? I suppose it would make sense to start from the beginning, even if the beginning seems more like an ending to me. It is now Friday, 22nd October and it’s exactly two weeks since I fell asleep, died, or whatever happened to me.

It was a Friday like any other, although I had yet to establish routines in New York, having lived there for only two months. My studies in mathematics weren’t going very well, mainly because I didn’t attend enough lectures and spent too much time exploring New York’s streets by night rather than delving deeper into the mysterious world of abstract mathematics. This particular night something terrible happened. I guess I’ve only got myself to blame, but I can’t help projecting my anger and fear towards the man who did this to me. I met him at a party to which I’d been haphazardly invited the same evening, and to which I went because I didn’t have anything else planned for the evening and because I felt like relaxing with people I wouldn’t have to face the next day in class.

When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by the young man I’ve now come to view as the one who ruined my life and destroyed my world. He was cute, with blue eyes glittering with wit. I suppose I felt like being cared for, felt like trusting someone even if he was a complete stranger. He kept me mostly to himself during the evening and I let him do it. I’m pretty sure our emotions were mutual, albeit that his ultimate purpose proved utterly different from mine. I’ve never been hooked on drugs, but smoking joints and dropping various fairly lightweight narcotics has never scared me before. However, I should have known better than to do it with someone I’d only known for a few hours, even though he was the most charming young man I’ve ever met.

Hours later, I found myself lying on my side in the wet autumn leaves of Central Park. I felt miserable in all ways imaginable, cold to the bone and with a gnawing and inexorably growing feeling that something was terribly wrong. I must have passed out, because when next I regained consciousness, I was lying on a sofa, all wrapped up in blankets, still feeling more dead that alive, but somehow safe. Residues of the drug in my blood must account for the weird room I found myself in, because it was a place of nightmares. A man was standing by a narrow window, looking out at the moonlit city, and before my soul was recaptured by Morpheus, I felt gratitude towards this unknown man. I knew that I had been betrayed and left to die, and that for some unknown reason, I had been saved.

The following days (I had not yet begun to use nights to denote passage of time) were blurred into a continuous haze of eerie dreams and I was never sure when I was awake and when I was asleep. Afterwards, I’ve been able to figure out that I must have spent at least five days in that hellish place, assuming that the drugs didn’t take more than a few hours of my life. I learnt that the man’s name was Sam and I know that he was kind to me, but that’s something patched together from many fragments of conversations I only partly remember. I have no distinct memory of what he was like or why he treated me well. The dreams were driving me crazy and early one morning, I felt I had to escape, to drag my way back to whatever reality awaited me out there.

Don’t ask me how I managed it, but I somehow crawled my way out of the gloomy apartment and out into the waking world. The chill of night was still in the air, and revived by it, I forced myself to flag down a taxi and head for home. I remember the driver looking at me quizzically, but I was too exhausted to do anything but rasp the address and note that his eyebrows rose in surprise yet again. Obviously, he didn’t think that a dishevelled creature like me could live in such a posh part of the city. I arrived home just before the break of dawn, and with clothes and shoes still on, I lay down on the bed and…

…awoke. I can’t explain it any other way, but that’s how it felt. I was still ill, like I’d been down with a fever for several days and now was recovering. Sunlight fell through the half-drawn curtains, warming my stomach as I lay staring into the ceiling. I blinked a couple of times, trying to remember the fleeting nightmare, but the memories of lying on the ground, dead and fallen like the golden autumn leaves, were quickly fading. When I blinked again, I had forgotten the surreal apartment and its considerate tenant. I didn’t realise that something was wrong until I found that the milk in the fridge had gone sour. I found a heap of newspapers and letters inside the door, and looking at the date of the topmost issue of The Economist, I noticed that it was Thursday 15th. Whether I had been terribly ill or the nightmare was real, I had been away almost a week.

I spent the entire day trying to understand what had happened, and figured out that the drugs must have caused the nightmares and the definitive feeling of dying. By a miracle, I had somehow made my way to my apartment and survived the ordeal. My absence at the university had been noticed, but I was able to explain it away by telling them about my illness, leaving out the bit about drugs. During the day, I gradually felt better and when the sun began to approach the western horizon, I had dismissed the past few days as an exceptionally bad and bizarre trip. When I finally went to bed again and the coin of nightmare and reality was flipped again, I found that a naive notion.

For eight days now, the coin has been spinning, shifting me from one nightmare into another. When I wake up, I can’t rid myself of the feeling that the dream is real, but as time passes, the conviction fades. After that first morning in my apartment, I’ve never been sure of what is real. Perhaps nothing is, and even my writing these words is part of a complex labyrinth of delusion I can’t find my way out of. I stay up all night, and when I fall asleep before sunrise, I dream about waking up from a nightmare that lasted all night. Then, when the sun is about to set again and I go to bed, I wake up again, the dream of the day receding like the light of day. Which one is real? Am I only dreaming this weird existence of being dead in a city that sleeps, or am I indeed awake now and during the day merely dreaming that everything is all right?

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