Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Innocents in Remorse Way
It occurs within the afternoon sunlight
The movements of the thoughts that seem to escape one's grasp
Where could their destination be
Point Allocation (Family)
A single figure was seated atop the stairs.
That person was Kimi, her long hair fluttering in the wind.
Sitting on the stairs, she was propping her face up on her palm, looking downward all the while.
Below her there was a large stairway, the second schoolyard, and another stairway. In the second schoolyard, the clubs of the physical type were performing mock battles and undergoing combat practice as part of their respective club activities.
However, Kimi was directing her gaze beyond them and their actions.
What she was looking at lay beyond the school campus. It was a straight path forward in the nature sectors.
In front of the road, paved with resin meant to imitate stone paving, a single boy stood.
The lines of his uniformed, slender figure showed he was Toori.
Kimi looked at his back as he stood there, unmoving. She said this, sighing as she spoke:
“If you’re scared, it’s fine if you go back, Toori — Because you’re my idiot brother.”
Kimi spoke those words, hugging her knee to herself. And after a while, at the place she was looking at, Toori started to move. He would wind around, repeatedly start to sprint with his body slanted forwards, and pole-dance low on a streetlight’s pole…
“Hehehe, that idiot brother of mine. Just as I thought that the atmosphere was right, you punch it right in the face.”
It was just as Toori had pole-danced too much and had started to slowly crawl up the streetlight’s pole like a bug.
A voice could be heard from behind Kimi.
“What’s Toori doing? Huh? Is that a new type of game? Or should I blow him off it?”
“Teeheehee, Sensei. I had heard that you were drinking in the cafeteria, but what have you come here for?”
“Well, maybe… I’m just enjoying the cold air.”
A figure clad in a jumper, bottle of sake clutched under her arm, sat down to Kimi’s right.
The figure fixed her hair, which was slightly mussed.
Kimi frowned at her.
“Fufufu, Sensei. You can’t comb your fingers through your hair unless it’s for fashion. Toori does it a lot; but it’ll damage your hair, so leave it to me.”
As Oriotorai was seated next to her, Kimi combed her hair with a comb she took out from her bosom.
Oriotorai left her hair to be fixed by Kimi as she wished; but she relaxed her face, which was flushed with blood as a result of her drinking.
“What is it? That’s really creepy, Sensei.”
“Ah, no, I was reminiscing about how a granny in the neighborhood would do this for me.”
“A granny… Could it be that you come from the Izumo district?”
“Hehehe,” Oriotorai narrowed her eyes as she laughed.
“Well, I’ve been to lots of places, but I’m probably the most happy here.”
“Fufufu, Sensei. Please don’t tell me your life story even after suddenly getting all drunk and treating me like a granny.”
“Isn’t it fine? Or maybe I should say, for me, this is a day to be celebrated as well.”
“Oh, what a coincidence, this is a day of celebration for Toori as well. It would be nice if he wanted to celebrate more tomorrow, though.”
Hearing Kimi speak, Oriotorai nodded. She turned her gaze to Kimi.
“…Wait, don’t look this way, the comb won’t pass through properly, will it?”
“Sorry, sorry,” Oriotorai apologized, but she touched her neck with her empty hand.
She fingered the chain hanging there before moving on to the other chain dropped towards her chest.
“Keep going, keep going…”
Her words were directed to the subject of her gaze, Toori, who stood atop a pole.
Kimi combed the back of her hair.
“Fufu, will Sensei be my idiot brother’s ally?”
“Whether or not I’ll be the idiot brother’s ally, I don’t know, but I will become Aoi Toori’s ally~ Or Kimi, or anybody else’s. At the very least, I’m definitely the ally of everyone in my class… Ah, but, teaching staff can’t be directly involved in inter-student battles; so when it comes to that, you’ll have to forgive me, alright?”
Kimi nodded. She stood up to comb the other side of Oriotorai’s hair.
“…Oh? Ah, as I thought.”
“What is it?”
“Before, Masazumi crossed over here, coming from Tama over there. Somehow, it seems that she was trying to pass through to the halfway point of Remorse Way from the nature sector, but she’s a girl who always seems to cut through weird places…”
Kimi lightly touched the comb to her chin, inclining her head.
“Teehee, but well, I wonder what the vice president intends to do? Going to a place like Remorse Way…”
There existed a figure striding through the forest.
In the midst of the forest, shadowy due to the afternoon sunlight, Masazumi walked as she looked around the area.
Masazumi was carrying a paper package under her right arm.
“Coming in from the side in order to take a shortcut to Remorse Way was a bad idea…”
I thought to follow what the café’s female shopkeeper had said and stop by Remorse Way before I headed to the Academy and gave this small package to Toori. Lying right in front of Ariadust Academy, Remorse Way was a road that passed through a section of several nature sectors, lined up next to each other. If you walked through the nature sectors sideways, you should reach it faster than circling around the edges of each sector, but…
…I’m not lost, am I?
The nature sectors came in blocks, just like the residential and transportation sectors; but to recreate natural conditions, in places where natural sectors lined up the divisions between blocks were not clear. Where the greenery grew tight, a wall of leaves and branches came into being. I had already passed by several roads, but I only just realized that the number I had crossed didn’t match up with my calculations.
“…Somehow, it seems that I’m leading myself into being spirited away.”
When I was in Mikawa, there were many similarities amongst the phenomena that happened within the city. And above all else…the “Princess Disappearances”.
I still remember the phenomenon where my mother disappeared. I still remember what I saw when I returned home: The people in the neighborhood gathered around the fence and the magisterial automatons searched my house.
The feeling of loss and the regret that welled up afterward still exist in my heart as if they were fresh memories. The fact that the phenomena took someone close to me remains fresh in my mind as well.
Even now, after one year has passed, I don’t want to ever make time for myself to be alone; and though the clerical phone I wasn’t carrying at the time is the cheapest you can find, I always carry it with me now, never letting it leave my skin. Just like it’s a charm.
“No way. I’m pretty sure that I’m already in the forest next to Remorse Way.”
Listening carefully, I can hear in the distance the sound of goods being brought in from the continental port. I can make out the shadows of ships moving through the sky, and there’s probably also the echo of Naruze and Naito as well as the rest of them clamoring in the skies. So I think I’m fine, but for now…
…When I come out into the next road, I’ll try walking towards the Academy.
And after handing this package over to Toori, I’ll investigate Remorse Way.
So Masazumi thought.
…Where’s the road?
In her panicked thoughts, there existed the fear about being spirited away; but there existed also a strange feeling of expectation.
And that was…
“I wonder if I’ll figure something out if I investigate Remorse Way.”
Just like the female shopkeeper said, just like Sakai said, if I investigate Remorse Way, will I be able to understand what lies within everyone?
I wonder. Masazumi ran her gaze through the cracks in the walls of branches and leaves as well as those between the trees, and as she did…
Masazumi came out into a small garden built within the forest.
I raised my voice into the air. The open space was an earthen square tens of meters in length. There was a small house, a place of repose, and there were children playing in the open plain. On a wooden bench next to them, there were also several parents that had accompanied their children here. Looking around, there was a small path to the stern; but that seemed to be the proper entrance.
This is the first time I’ve come here, but I remember seeing the roof of this place of rest from one of the Academy’s windows.
“I didn’t mistake the road?”
Sighing once, Masazumi looked from the place she had left to the building that was the place of repose.
It was a building whose interior took up a large amount of space. Coming from the entrance, it had one room, and further inside there was a room with beds and a large window. Figures of people could be seen in the entrance, and in the interior that carried a tinge of evening shadow; but the atmosphere was…
…like that of a conference room.
Thinking this, Masazumi halted her gaze on a plaque stuck to the wall of the place of rest. The metal engraving indicated:
“ ‘May the spirits find repose’ 1618…”
“Something for the repose of souls, then?” Masazumi judged. If it were thirty years ago, then Mikawa and its surroundings would still be busy and the insurrection that used Catholic spells against the government oppression and the resulting battles that were occurring everywhere in the Far East would have been ongoing.
I had heard that while still young, Lord Motonobu had suppressed those insurrections and secured his place as the head of the family.
“Something from that time, then? …It was left here even after Musashi’s renovation.”
She drew a breath.
Masazumi saw the directional sign pointing towards the forest, where it was written: “Forward Way”.
“I wonder if there’re many reposiums around here?”
Looking at the light coming from Remorse Way, just beyond the trees, Masazumi stepped into the forest again.
I have a vague idea of why that place is called Remorse Way.
“If you descend from the Academy and walk the road for a while, there’s a stone slab to the side. The words inscribed on it are: ‘1638 All those who reside in Musashi pray for the girl, Horizon A’s happiness in her next life,’ huh.”
Thinking about it now, doesn’t it seem like that’s related to the name Remorse Way?
Regret always follows loss. That also applies to me. When my mother disappeared…
…I should have done that… I should have done this…
On that day, when I went to the Academy, I said that I would be back; but I don’t remember an answer. Whether it couldn’t be heard or whether I couldn’t hear my mother’s answer, I don’t know. It might be that my mother disappeared in that time, ever so slight though it was.
Masazumi thought. A regret the same as hers had created that stone slab and the place of repose that held the name of a reposium, and it had left those things behind.
If that was so, that girl is the embodiment of the remorse of Remorse Way.
Wondering about it, Masazumi took a breath, stopping in order to inhale the forest air.
At that moment.
Suddenly, a voice could be heard from outside.
The voice was a voice of song that echoed from afar.
A voice that sang the Song of Passage melody.
Masazumi knew who was singing the Song of Passage. It was a voice she had heard in the morning and just before noon.
Morning, just before noon, and afternoon. There were times when business was a little slow, so she would always sing every so often. As for today, now was the time for the afternoon song.
Behind her, the voices of the playing children could be heard coming from the park.
Masazumi heard both the voice of song and the voices of playing as they mingled together; and she turned her gaze toward the stern of the ship, where it could be heard the Song of Passage was coming from.
…Today, it feels like I’m hearing her voice really often.
It’s been one year since both P-01s and I have come to Musashi. However, if I think about our relationship, it’s only the relationship between one of the staff members of a café and a student that is one of the customers. Yet, I’m able to understand what she does every day…
…Comparing the situation now with the past, we’ve started to talk quite often. About borrowing books and the like.
I also talked about my mother, and today I also told her about my body; though it’s more like that spilled out.
It’s probably a one-sided feeling, but it’s certain that she’s someone with whom that I can talk about things like that.
We’ve both lost and been deprived of things, and for the both of us there are things that we have been able to gain in Musashi, the place we’ve come to.
“…I wonder if it would be fine for me to say that we’re friends?”
The words she muttered only because she was alone were left hanging in the air, and Masazumi once more set forth, walking forwards.
Stepping on the grass, setting her sights on the scenery and light that poked through the gaps of the trees…
She immediately came out onto the road. The scent of leaves and wood hung thinly in the air.
Turning around to look, the shadowy forest where she had been walking and the place of rest she had just seen were silently existing beyond the branches and leaves. However, the forest was dimly lit.
I walked a pretty long way, she thought.
…So it really is a place for the repose of spirits? From outside, it really looks like a quiet place.
Well it’s evening, the kids playing there must have gone home, Masazumi thought.
And as she did…
Suddenly, a voice called out to her from the street behind her. It was coming from a relatively high place. It was the voice of a man, ringing out from the window of a carriage stopped in the road.
“What on Earth are you doing in a place like this, Masazumi?”
The voice I can hear is one I am well acquainted with. However, for me, it is a voice that makes me cower.
It is the voice of a person who was unable to answer my hopes, in a time long past.
He left my mother and I, and even though he called me to Musashi…
…This person did not even meet with me often.
It is the voice of my father.
Under the afternoon sky, the scene of a meeting set in Remorse Way, a meeting between a carriage and a student came into being.
There was a gaze that watched it from afar. The owners of that gaze were sitting on the steps to the Academy: the female teacher with a sake bottle under her arm and the long-haired girl giving the teacher a manicure. The two of them looked at both the student in uniform and the carriage.
“—Masazumi’s gotten out. It seems like she’s talking to the people in the carriage, though.”
“Hehehe, Sensei, why is it that there’s seaweed in the gaps of your nails?”
“That’s simple. Aren’t there sometimes times when you don’t have chopsticks? With that, what you need is courage and decisiveness.”
Rather than that…
“Isn’t that strange? Over there and over here…”
Oriotorai jutted her chin forward, pointing something out.
What she was indicating as “strange” was Masazumi, who was facing the carriage, a serious expression on her face as she stood unmoving. But that wasn’t all.
Toori, who was sitting atop a streetlight, was staring into the distance.
Just like the two, he was looking at Masazumi, staying completely still.
He was staring.
Behind Masazumi, to the direction where she turned, there stood a carriage.
Drawn by two horses, it could hold six passengers, with the benches facing one another inside each able to seat three people. Through the opened window, a single man was on the middle of the bench to the back of the carriage. The black-haired man, body clad in western clothing, lightly held up his hand to silence the men sitting across from him.
“What are you doing here?”
Masazumi felt her body contract at those words, directed towards her though their owner was not looking at her.
I’m shrinking from him.
Masazumi herself understood this. She knew the reason for this clearly as well.
However, this is not the time nor place to wither away. In the interior of the carriage, where I can barely see through the window, opposite to Father there is a member of Musashi’s provisional council as well as an executive from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In Okutama there are many businesses that were started personally or as part of clubs, not to mention unions.
Therefore, Masazumi spoke.
“—There are still many things I do not know about Musashi, so I was surveying the area.”
I’m speaking like I’m trying to earn myself points, she thought. And if things went as normal…
…I see. It was his pattern to leave me silently, only the echo of that statement in his eyes giving any form of acknowledgement.
However, something different came to pass.
“Is there anything you’ve found out about the reposium inside the forest you’ve just come out from?”
There was some surprise at receiving a response from her father, but what Masazumi reacted to was what he had actually said. The words that her father had spoken to her could be thought to be merely lip service for the sake of his appearance, but all she could say at that point was:
“—Um, is there something about that resting place?”
If my father knows something, I’d like to ask. However…
“You haven’t studied enough. It’s shameful that you don’t know a single thing.”
Spoken to in that manner, their gazes never meeting, Masazumi felt herself start to frown.
Concerning the condition of the parent-child relationship between her father and herself, “unclear” would be the best description. It could probably be concluded as bad, but they had never clashed to the point where one could clearly say that, nor had they ever conversed.
…However, when Mother disappeared, this person…
He didn’t come to Mother’s funeral for her supposed death. In his place a messenger came, and I was encouraged to move to Musashi.
I told my father about wanting to attend the Academy as a person desiring to be a politician on Musashi.
The voice that answered me said this:
“What are you saying? —Turn your eyes elsewhere, away from being a politician on Musashi.”
…Do you not care about me?
That was the first time I had thought this.
One year has passed since then. He doesn’t meet my gaze, and we don’t speak often. And as for now? I wouldn’t be ignored when he’s in front of his clients, would I? He wouldn’t respond by saying that he doesn’t care, would he?
Therefore, now, Masazumi tried to say something.
…Not enough study?
Today, I was told something similar to what the café’s female shopkeeper and Sakai told me. I know that I haven’t studied enough. Not knowing about Musashi, not knowing about the people in the same class as I, I know that I’m unable to match my father, who has already reached that position. However…
…I haven’t forgotten to learn.
I want to say that. Yet, how should I say it?
Not knowing this, a smoldering heat was born in her stomach.
Simultaneously, a voice spoke from within the carriage.
“—Be that as it may, my dear, you are carrying something quite strange.”
Eh? Masazumi looked at the small package clutched under her left arm.
…Why’s he interested in this landmine-like thing—!
“My business transactions also deal with that kind of thing. It is a first edition copy, making it even more rare.”
“Ah, no, this is, um, a friend’s…”
Masazumi tried to follow up with an explanation, but her father’s voice rang out, stifling hers.
“I don’t really understand, but…give it to me.”
Masazumi gulped down a breath.
I can’t do that. This isn’t mine. It’s something that annoys me, and I don’t want to carry it, but I can’t.
Yet, Masazumi thought this.
She thought that this was a transaction.
If I show integrity, their impression of me will be good; and this impression will continue into the future. If I resist, I will be treated as if I am still a child. However…
“If it’s a friend’s, then buy one after this and send it to him. He won’t notice.”
The other side of the transaction had even prepared an escape route.
If I do not give it to him, the clients will take that as my father’s shame and I will be seen as a person whose will is difficult to bend.
If I give it to him, my father will be able to show his clients evidence that he can make me do things according to his will, and it will give the indication that I hold no position other than the one of a submissive servant.
If I desire to be a politician, then what I am to do is completely within my grasp.
So Masazumi thought.
However, she thought that there was something that she had to keep.
And that something was this.
Even if I am trying to become a politician like my father…
…I don’t want to become like him.
In spite of this…
A voice could be heard. This was the final decision. As a hopeful politician before the people who hold power in Musashi, what choice should she make? Her father was chasing her towards a rushed judgement.
She didn’t know. Even not knowing, Masazumi thought to follow her heart. She thought to let herself speak what she wished, leaving it to her own judgment. She thought that that was her heart’s true decision.
It was at that moment that suddenly a voice came flying at her from her right. It was the voice of a boy.
“Alright, Seijun, nice job~~!!”
Along with that voice, a gust of wind blew from the right.
A boy whose brown hair would shake with every step. He pranced lightly between the carriage and I.
“You brought that for me, didn’t you!!”
He snatched the package under my arm from me, as if he was robbing me of it.
“Ah!” As I turned to look at him, my voice spilling out, he had already twirled around, the chains decorating his clothes clinking, and was trying to head back the way he had come.
He entered the space between the carriage and I, still stepping about as if he was dancing.
“Thanks. I have to play the games that’ve just been piling up all of tonight, but Naruze and Naito didn’t bring me this and were just flying around; so I was wandering around without thinking~”
There was one reason that the voice that called out to him was a question. His face had changed to the point that it could be seen just by looking at him.
“You really don’t look well, you know…? Are you alright? Did something happen?”
Toori’s smiling face was oozing sweat; but yet, he took a deep breath, and after a moment…
“Don’t worry about it! It’s just that I ran a little!”
As he spoke, he lurched towards the Academy.
“You’ve probably heard this from president Sakai, but will you be coming tonight? Tomorrow I’m going to confess to the girl I’m in love with, so we’re having a party at the Academy the night before.”
“Y-you idiot, what’s with that all of a sudden?”
There has to be a limit to a changing of topics. Let alone for the fact that they were in front of Masazumi’s father and his clientele, for some reason, Masazumi could feel heat rising to her cheeks. Still steaming with the annoyance that she was blushing, she frowned.
“Like I’d go. It’s a violation of school rules. About that…”
Masazumi recalled Lord Motonobu’s greeting at noon. According to that…
“Tonight it seems like they’ll be having fireworks in Mikawa. Since that’s happening, and we’ll only be able to see it from the sterns of every ship, there’s no restriction on movements between ships tonight… If I’m going anywhere, that’s where I’ll go.”
“I see. Well, I wanted you to come if you could.”
Masazumi asked. Toori looked over his shoulder at her. However, his face looking at her from the right was stained with shadow from the sun in the west, to his left. As such, Masazumi could not make out his facial features clearly.
All she could do was listen to his voice, which remained audible.
“—The person I’m confessing to is someone Seijun knows well.”
“Huh? W-wait a minute! …You aren’t going to cause any trouble for me, are you!? Are you!?”
“I wonder about that~” Toori started to run, weaving around.
“Don’t do anything embarrassing, alright!? Really, definitely don’t do anything like that, alright!?”
So she said; but as Toori ran away, all he did was wave his hand.
“Really,” Masazumi muttered. Suddenly, she realized the situation she was currently in. Panicked, she dipped her head towards the wagon.
“I-I am very sorry…”
“Not at all.”
The answer came from her father’s business partner. He folded his arms and nodded deeply.
“To think that the Master of Remorse Way would come here… —It’s been a good 10 years, hasn’t it?”
“The Master of Remorse Way…?”
Masazumi asked. The business partner looked at her out of the corner of his eye.
He nodded, dipping his face slightly.
“You should take a look there.”
Having been told this, Masazumi looked at the pedestrian paving on the opposite side. Below the thick shadow born from the afternoon light, there stood a single stone slab.
That stone slab was…
“Earlier, a girl died in an accident here. It wasn’t publicized.”
“That stone slab…belongs to the girl Horizon A, doesn’t it?”
“Judge, that is correct. Horizon A. Short for… Horizon Ariadust.”
Masazumi held her breath as the words of that voice, spoken whilst facing downwards, reached her ears.
She could see Toori as he met up with her sister and the others. She could see that his sister was embracing him as he hung his head, devoid of energy.
“Isn’t Ariadust the name of the Academy…?”
“In the beginning, around twenty years ago when Lord Motonobu became the leader of Mikawa, he read the Matsudaira’s family name backwards, further erasing the last syllable in the name so as to show his allegiance to the Testament Union. From MATSUDAIRA, ARIADUST was born. He said that the protection of the name Matsudaira was no longer needful.”
“Of course, the Testament Union acknowledged Lord Motonobu’s will and returned the name to its former spelling; but that name still remained in several places. The Academy is one such example, and the child who used that name was…”
Masazumi’s father spoke thus, as if to steal the business partner’s words out of his mouth.
“Have you not heard of this? —Lord Motonobu of Mikawa had a wife and child by common marriage.”
And regarding that.
“The child’s name was Horizon Ariadust… Remember it, so you can rid yourself of this lack of study.”
All words fled from Masazumi’s mind at this sudden declaration.
However, at that point everything did not just come to an end. Her father’s voice continued to speak out.
“The carriage that was involved with Lady Horizon’s accident was Lord Motonobu’s carriage. It was headed towards the ceremony to dedicate the renovation of Musashi. Her body was recovered by the Matsudaira family, but no inheritances were forthcoming. This is a story not meant to be spoken of publicly. Tomorrow, it will be exactly a decade since that day.”
“A thing of the past.” Her father’s business partner lowered his eyes and muttered those words.
“However, for the Master of Remorse Way, the remorse probably continues in real time. Because if you look merely at the outcome, he killed Lady Horizon.”
“Huh…? What do you mean by that? He killed her?”
Masazumi frowned. However, when she looked inside the carriage, the business partner was shaking his head.
It was a gesture that expressed how he could not tell her.
Therefore, Masazumi spoke. If she could not directly ask what happened with Aoi here…
“Then, you cannot mean that the Master of Remorse Way is…”
Those words formed themselves into a whisper, spilling out. That which the female shopkeeper had said, that which Sakai had said…step into the midst of everyone, and know. The secret the people of Musashi kept.
“The remorse of Aoi ‘Toori’. Wordplay using double-entendre to make the words Remorse Way…”
“Judge,” that short answer was all her father said. His business partner laced his fingers together.
“He was also injured, and was immediately taken to Mikawa with Lady Horizon by carriage. Yet he was the only one to return from Mikawa, treated and sleeping from anesthetics. After that…what remained was an unending remorse.”
Ah…, Masazumi thought. I’ve had that kind of regret before. The time nearly ten years ago when I learned that I was unable to inherit a name; and one year ago, when I comprehended that I had lost my mother.
…Regret is carved into my body.
Masazumi thought thus.
The Aoi that lost that girl ten years ago doesn’t seem to match up with the Aoi of today.
I have experienced regret, so I understand. However, Aoi is different from me. And that was…
…Why can he smile? Why can he confess? Why can he play around at night?
This wasn’t something that you could conclude just by saying that it’s because he worships a God of Entertainment. Thinking about it simply, you could come to the conclusion that it was just because he’s irresponsible; but if that was the case…
…despite the fact that everyone knows this, why do they continue to support him?
He’s called “Impossible”, his physical ability is low due to his injuries, and he’s talentless; but yet he’s the man who was elected to be both the chancellor and student council president. Even if supported by the Testament Union, maintaining your status requires the support of the populace. And the people, whether it be that female shopkeeper or his classmates, no matter who it was…they did not hate that idiotic Aoi.
…Why was that?
He laughed like he had forgotten his past regret. He looked like he was utterly carefree.
“Why does everyone support him…?”
I don’t know. I investigated Remorse Way, but it feels like the puzzles are just coming one after the other.
And there’s no way to know the answer but one.
“—Are you willing to step into it, Masazumi? The place where his remorse goes?”
In response to her father’s words, Masazumi started and turned back. However…
“We will be late to our meeting… This is all for now.”
The carriage started to move as he spoke.
In the blink of an eye, the carriage headed off towards the Academy. Following it with her gaze, Masazumi saw that Aoi and his sister were no longer under the Academy’s stairway.
“I’ve been left behind.”
That thought rose unbidden in my heart.
I know only a single fact.
…That I know nothing at all.
- The “Toori” in Aoi’s name is pronounced the same way as 通り, the latter half of Remorse Way.
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