Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 67
Chapter 67: Real Ones at a Place of Passage
Spin around and around
The world does not spin and you do not spin
But the changes to your heart do
Point Allocation (Comeback)
Asama watched the “dance” that was Kimi’s attack.
Her attacks were nothing more than steps.
Just as Futayo took a step, she would take a step of her own.
…Is it something like the deashibarai in judo?
Sending an opponent flying did not require an attack exceeding their weight. One only had to read their line of movement, and…
“Trip the axis of their body or limbs. It’s the opposite of escorting your partner in a dance. By tripping their axis, their own power loses balance and sends them flying.”
As Yoshiki explained next to Asama, a great sound rang out and Futayo floated up into the air.
But Kimi reached out an arm, forcibly pulled the girl back, and…
Threw her again.
Kimi once more collected Futayo from the air and took her hand. She pulled her back and threw her away again, but this time she held onto her collar, spun her around, swung her around, threw her, continued spinning to catch up, and made a counterattack.
She never stopped.
Asama could not help but comment on the movements and noise.
“This is a new song of Kimi’s.”
“She really needs to study more instead…”
She sure is a strict mother, thought Asama, but the impacts and sounds of a body flying through the air continued.
This dance was undoubtedly following a song. Kimi would eventually complete an official version and ask Asama and Mito to perform it with her.
…She’s probably planning to perform it at the school festival…
In the deep blue sky of an early summer afternoon, Kimi made music with the tempo kept using Futayo.
Futayo did not understand what was happening.
She was being knocked into the air, but there was no impact.
She was being knocked into the air, but it was not being forced onto her.
She was being knocked into the air, but she felt no pain.
She was simply hanging in the air like sound.
She was simply flying through the sky like wind.
She was simply floating in the heavens like clouds.
She was being rapidly and repeatedly escorted through changes to her axis and all resistance seemed futile.
If Tachibana Muneshige was naturally gifted with the ability to balance himself, this dancer was naturally gifted with the ability to view other people’s balance.
But knowing that…
…changed nothing in reality.
Futayo was knocked away and spun around in a soundless current of no tension, power, malice, or wickedness.
Even when she did manage to place her toes or her heel on the scaffolding, her body would immediately be spun on its axis.
How was she supposed to resist this? She had no idea. She could only let herself be spun, thrown around, and used to keep a tempo.
…Will she not even let me fall!?
Kimi would catch her. When her toes or heels were tossed up from the scaffolding and her arms or shoulders were grabbed to swing her around, her body would straighten, her back would stretch out, and her head would face forward.
That was the axis of her body. It was the line of power that straightened her posture.
Most likely, Kimi was lightly striking that from ahead so the power would pass straight through. It passed through so directly that it used her own body’s movements to both straighten her posture and…
…send her flying.
It was a lot like something she already knew. It was just like when Soaring Wings failed and misfired.
And a thought occurred to Futayo.
…Was I really this incapable of controlling myself!?
When using Soaring Wings in the past, she had thought she had linked her movements together.
But this series of steps at such close range led to a different result.
…I can’t link anything together!
Her movements were not precisely passing through her axis.
She quickly realized why.
She had never before fought a close-range battle on this level.
Her father had used a spear and Kazuno had naturally trained her on that basis as well. She had been given a fair level of combat training with a sword, but it had mostly been with a spear. And this current battle was even closer range than a spear, sword, or fist. This was on the level of throws and holds.
Soaring Wings and other acceleration spells were not made for situations like this.
That meant using Soaring Wings had no meaning here. Of course it was not working.
“But do I need the skill to pull it off even in this situation!?”
It was not that she did not have to do it because it was not necessary.
She had to be able to do it even if it was not necessary.
And she realized that someone here was trying to make her impossible into the possible.
That person was Aoi Kimi.
She had said she would take Futayo’s right to give up. This was the same.
“Are you going to take away my impossibility!?”
The answer was obvious. That sister and brother took away other people’s impossibilities. That was who they were.
And as she was thrown into the air, Futayo looked to her teacher.
If her husband was Ono Tenzen, then her child would be Matsudaira’s sword instructor, Ono Tadatsune.
Futayo had heard about him from Kazuno. As Matsudaira’s sword instructor, Ono Tadatsune would lead a group of bodyguards that included Tachibana Muneshige as well as establish the major Itto-Ryu school of sword fighting.
If the idiot did not fill that role, then it had to be Kimi.
That girl laughed as her hair danced around her.
“You’re overthinking this. Just to be clear, I received no training at all from my mom. Don’t mistake me for the athletic type. If anything, I’m the cultural type. So if you’re mistaking me for a master swordfighter…”
“You’re saying the Far East’s master swordfighters can be matched by nothing more than my natural cultural senses.”
Futayo’s vision was flying through the air and her hearing was spinning around, but the voice still reached her.
“Listen. …I have a dream. And it isn’t just what you see here.”
She added a “so”.
“Respond, warrior girl. I’m willing to teach an ignorant country girl the steps, but a warrior should be able to at least recognize this, right? …Here, I’ll match our voices and then move out ahead just this once, okay?”
Futayo’s question was useless and she was caught off guard regardless.
“C’mon. 3, 2, 1…go!”
When she was sent flying this time, Futayo realized something had changed.
She had to preface it with a “most likely”, but…
…Our movements have changed!?
Asama instructed Hanami to begin recording and gathering data.
Kimi was using a very un-spell-like spell.
“That’s Kimi’s stage spell, Turning Point.”
While Turning Point was indeed a spell, it was only an acoustic and illumination spell. It provided no divine protections or special effects. All it did was decorate a song and dance.
The sign frames that started up contained the different songs she had written in the past and different adlibbed chord patterns, and they could provide the optimal sound and lighting based on Kimi’s instructions and movements.
…The main defining trait is how light it is.
All the fat had been trimmed in making Turning Point and it was the base of the other spells Kimi used. Even Summit Dance had been made by adding divine protections and effects on top of this.
But, thought Asama. If Kimi is bringing out Turning Point on its own…
“She’s testing out a song pretty early on.”
“She doesn’t like going for half measures in anything, so it should be fine,” said Yoshiki with a smile. “And she has performed this one at my place before.”
Then a voice reached them. It was Kimi’s voice. The sound of Futayo being sent flying acted as a hand drum’s four-on-the-floor beat and the tempo was around 135.
“Where shall I go tomorrow? I can go anywhere today.
“Where shall I go today? I think I’ll go there.”
The blows to Futayo’s axis rang out and the sky began to give tension to the sound.
It was music. The low beat of a bass drum joined with the melody of strings, but Kimi’s voice remained light.
“I’m going dancing somewhere in the city. Somewhere in the city where you are not.
“I’m going singing. I can go at any time to find you where you will be tomorrow.”
Her voice reverberated through the air.
“I take your hand, and dance, and smile, and make so many selfish requests.
“Let’s meet somewhere again tomorrow too. Give my present self a push forward tomorrow too.”
…This is a trance focused on a high-speed loop.
The song name on the sign frames was Today’s and Yesterday’s Dance. From the sound, it seemed to be based on the Gagaku trance music popularized by Kagami, a band of their upperclassmen who had graduated this year. Their song had been titled Routine, so this may have been an alternate “underclassman” version. Asama felt they would have difficulty performing this song in Kimitoasamade, their Gagaku band, but this was only the first verse. Still, it sounded nice, and…
Futayo flew through the air as Kimi hummed an interlude, but then Asama saw something.
…Futayo’s movements are changing, aren’t they?
Asama looked over to Yoshiki who crossed her arms.
“This is a large step forward. …She’s done it by matching the song, but she’s at least falling feet-first now.”
The sound guided her.
The song let her run even when she was sent flying and her footing was uncertain.
Running was a series of rhythms. It was the same as using Soaring Wings. But…
Kimi had likely chosen a song that matched her movements.
Even when she was spun around or sent flying, she could follow the song’s lead to always land on her feet.
And she could keep going.
Futayo belatedly realized that Kimi’s right hand held her left hand, the one that did not hold the Tonbo Spare.
That was the girl’s way of escorting her, and…
“Heh heh. Are you ready for the third time around? …I hope you have a handle on it now.”
Kimi let go.
“Let’s up the tempo. I won’t ask you to follow my lead, but you know what that means, don’t you?”
“Judge.” Futayo nodded. “I will do my best to respond in advance.”
A moment later, Futayo was thrown into the air with even greater speed than before.
Asama was the first to notice because she was monitoring Kimi and Futayo’s Blessings.
Futayo was thrown out into the air and flipping around again and again, but…
“She didn’t use Soaring Wings.”
“She’s redoing it all from the ground up. She’ll use it eventually, but she can get pretty far just with the standard bodily reinforcement divine protections. Futayo-chan was trained to do that.”
Is that how it works? wondered Asama before realizing something.
Asama: “S-see! Since I don’t understand this, it means I have no combat sense! Now who was it calling me a gunner shrine maiden, a sniper shrine maiden, or a genocide shaman!?”
Gold Mar: “Isn’t it way more dangerous if you can cause that much damage without any sense to guide it?”
Mal-Ga: “That’s right, Margot. It’s the results that matter, not your sense. What a dangerous shrine maiden…”
Asama: “You just called me dangerous, didn’t you!? Didn’t you!?”
But Futayo was gradually regaining control of her movements. Kimi had clearly been throwing her out into the air before, but now…
“It looks like she’s spinning herself around.”
“She’s figuring out the locations and meaning of the axis lines that Kimi has been exploiting. From what I can see, her accuracy is poor, but she’s grasping this with some real conviction.”
When Asama asked that, Yoshiki’s eyebrows rose and she smiled at the girl.
“I’m talking about her individual style. …For example, that Tachibana Muneshige boy who joined you lately has a natural sense of balance. Not only can he stand on a blade, but he could probably settle down and live there. His balance is a very ‘polite’ thing and he has a great sense for ‘accepting’ it. If there’s a foothold there, he touches it, reads it, and responds accordingly.”
“What about with Kimi?”
“While she does have the same ‘politeness’, she has more of a sense for ‘providing’ balance. If there’s a blade, she can determine its balance at a glance, but instead of accepting that, she more actively moves in to ride it. She has excellent balance, but she never stays still. She provides her own balance to her opponent and maintains it by continuing the dance.”
“Futayo-chan can’t reach either of their heights.”
What Asama had seen was enough to know that Yoshiki was telling the truth there. Asama gasped a little, but…
“Then what kind of technique is she trying to grasp here?”
Futayo took a leap atop the scaffolding. On the outskirts of Kimi’s dance, she spun herself around when sent flying and she was repelled again when she placed her feet on the scaffolding. But…
“She’s gradually developing her own pattern. …Can’t you tell?”
The corners of Yoshiki’s mouth rose.
“With Shinto acceleration spells like Futayo-chan’s Soaring Wings, you have to continue stringing the acceleration together. Since she has to pave her own path of acceleration, she can’t use the ‘acceptance’ form of balance. She has to ‘provide’ her own balance to make any location into her own path. Also…”
Before Yoshiki could continue, a solid sound rang out.
Kimi had repelled Futayo’s axis.
Futayo was knocked back into the sky, but then something changed.
…That was fast!?
Futayo’s rotation clearly accelerated.
“They’re on the fifth time through the song, so she knows what is coming where. And instead of waiting for the sound and reacting, she’s moving out ahead of the music. …Kimi’s doing a good job here. She’s made dancing to the music into a way of attacking first. To Futayo-chan, this is a performance of her martial arts forms, but once she is allowed to surpass those set forms, it becomes a real battle with certain limitations in place.”
A solid sound rang out. Futayo leaped and spun around.
The girl’s hair drew a clean circle for the first time. She had made an undisturbed rotation, which was…
“Futayo’s normal movement…”
Futayo realized her body was moving.
…Did I surpass it?
She was following along with Kimi’s dance. They had already passed the fifth run-through, so she knew the song and dance perfectly.
But that did not mean she could move ahead of the dance and keep moving.
Kimi was adding some slight alterations to keep Futayo from exceeding her so easily. But in that…
Futayo saw her own axis line.
She had learned it all too well after Kimi hit that line and sent her flying time and again.
Where did her strength flow when she took action? How short or long was the line? She could see that wavering line now.
She understood it.
Her strength moved from her right toes, passed through the front of her ankle, wrapped around her inner shin a little, and slipped below her kneecap. It rose through her thigh, twisted around toward her crotch when moving forward, and wrapped around toward her butt when moving back.
By matching the bending of her joints to that pulsing strength, she could change the thickness and heat of that axis line, but…
…That strength passes through one spot more than any other!
It created a power that pinned her to the ground.
That strength was not released. At the front end of her foot, it travelled directly out and through the floor.
Kimi’s attacks were clearly carving into her body on that axis.
…Were you preventing me from giving up so you could teach me this!?
In front of her, the dancer was smiling, singing, and dancing.
She seemed to be saying that was all a dancer was meant to do. And…
“Heh heh. Stop making me dance all alone.”
Kimi closed her eyes a little in a troubled expression. Futayo realized what those words and that expression meant.
She was telling Futayo to come to her. So Futayo said “judge” with a nod and then used it.
From Asama’s viewpoint, only Kimi remained. But…
After appearing in front of, next to, or behind Kimi, Futayo would spin and vanish.
Those were already nothing more than afterimages.
…She’s all round her!?
As Kimi danced and made long steps along the scaffolding, Futayo pursued her. She used the scaffolding one or two removed from Kimi and then moved in as if being reflected. And of course…
“You need to get closer in than that, Futayo-chan. If you don’t, you can’t get a step above her. So…”
“Run wild and fast.”
Futayo was on the move.
She could hear Kimi’s voice. The song’s lyrics reached her.
“I take your hand.”
Here it is, thought Futayo.
The next line was “and dance”. The bass drum sounded near the “d” of the “and” and it matched her own tempo. If she twisted her right leg to leap in at that moment, she had a feeling she could achieve the fastest and optimal angle. Of course…
…It might be nothing more than a feeling.
She might not actually pull it off. She might simply be mistaken.
But she still thought she could pull it off at that “d”.
She could trust in this timing more than any other circumstances.
Even if she failed, she could still believe in it and charge in.
So she listened to Kimi’s voice and focused on her body’s line of motion.
To predict the moment and get ahead of Kimi’s movements, Futayo charged in.
Kimi sensed Futayo darting forward atop the scaffolding.
It was a straight-on shot.
It was sharp.
She also used her feet to send her body hopping upwards from the hips.
She predicted when Kimi was going to send her flying and entered a midair front flip on her own.
But Kimi could see Soaring Wings’ spell circles on Futayo’s feet and knees.
If she made this front flip when Soaring Wings was trying to move her forward, the discrepancy in direction would cause it to fail.
…What is she planning to do!?
Kimi kept her legs dancing as she asked that silent question.
Just like before, she moved in to sweep Futayo’s legs out from under her. She would rule the stage and declare this the spot she would stand on next.
At this point, spinning was Futayo’s only option.
Would she spin herself and receive Soaring Wings’ failure?
Or would she take Kimi’s jab at her axis and receive Soaring Wings’ failure?
The result was the same. So…
“What are you planning to do!?”
As soon as she asked that, Kimi briefly lost sight of Futayo.
It was not that she had vanished. She had seemingly been starting a front flip, but…
Just as her body tilted forward, she swung it backwards and forced herself into a backflip.
Futayo made a backflip while moving forward with great speed.
This was her first time attempting this kind of trick.
It was a simple idea.
If Soaring Wings self-destructed when something stopped it from moving forward, there was only one way to make a jumping dodge.
…I have to keep my legs moving forward as I spin around.
That meant a backflip.
While running forward, she would spin backwards in the air. To do that, she had to pour even more acceleration into her forward-moving legs. Otherwise, her jump would not have the strength needed for a full flip.
The greater her speed, the more inadequate the strength when she made the jump and the more her body would try to move forward. It was even possible she would not gain enough height and her back or head would hit the ground.
But Soaring Wings gave her what she needed.
When she leaned backwards, her thighs and knees pointed upwards, so the sky was “forward”.
But her angle was a little off. She was leaning forward as if she had a shallow bend in her knees. But…
It had not been destroyed. Her acceleration spell was still active. It shined and responded to her call.
<Continued Accumulation: Possible: Confirmed>
Futayo felt a tremor. It came from her own body and she did not know why. This was nothing more than learning she could still use this familiar spell at such a low speed.
But this was a first. She had equipped herself with an unknown technique.
“Heh heh. If you have a new move now…then let’s keep going.”
Kimi’s leg flew toward her knee-first. It was trying to sweep her legs out from under her.
Then Kimi saw something.
As she made her roundhouse kick, Futayo tilted her upper body and entered a head-first side flip.
Her body fell sideways in midair and she took a position similar to a backflip as her legs followed her body.
Soaring Wings’ direction was generally based on her torso’s front axis line.
So Kimi watched Futayo move. Futayo leaned her body back first and then adjusted her legs “forward”. By maintaining a twist from the torso to the thighs and then to the knees, she kept Soaring Wings from breaking.
The strange side flip was made from a rotation and intersecting twists and she added in a spin to orient her torso forward just before landing.
In that instant, static ran through Soaring Wings and the ether light scattered from it.
She pulled it off. Futayo stuck the landing.
Kimi saw Futayo pull out ahead of her movements and begin the next action.
But just as Futayo tried to move from her landing, she suddenly lost her balance.
She had just finished a series of unfamiliar actions, but it likely had more to do with letting her guard down. After all, she had just finished using nothing but her combat sense to get through an extremely difficult action.
Kimi knew what would happen to Futayo’s body.
Unable to control her movements, she would hesitate and end up airborne.
Futayo was prepared to fail.
She had let her guard down after clearing two tricky parts in a row.
She had gotten ahead of Kimi’s actions and she understood her own axis lines, so this should have been when she began her own actions.
But she had lost that first opportunity.
She felt regret.
Of course, her body remembered overcoming those tricky parts. She could use those memories to use Soaring Wings at extreme close range in the future. But…
…This is how I start it off!?
Soaring Wings would shatter and she would be thrown into the air.
I couldn’t finish it, she thought while prepared for her failure.
“Heh heh. Silly girl. Have you forgotten? I’ve taken away your right to give up.”
A moment later, Futayo was thrown into the air, but not by Soaring Wings misfiring.
It was Kimi.
She had swung her hand back and grabbed Futayo’s arm.
Kimi twisted Futayo’s body into the proper form and had Futayo properly land on her feet’s axis lines. She was now positioned to take the next step. Namely, moving out ahead of Kimi.
She felt dazed, she felt confused, and she felt doubt, but at the moment…
So I don’t have to give up on myself, she thought.
An unexpected tear fell from the corner of her eye at that thought, but…
She used the speed that Kimi had preserved for her.
On the limited scaffolding, she used her full strength to live up to the dancer’s expectations.
Loud noises joined the music.
The rapid movement and rotation had whipped up thin clouds around the scaffolding off of the Ariake’s western side.
The clouds had no center. That was because the two creating the movement in the middle were racing around the scaffolding, swinging their bodies around to jump from foothold to foothold, pursuing each other, and exchanging steps, hands, and legs.
But there was a difference between the movements of the dancer and the warrior girl.
The dancer moved about and rotated horizontally with bending movements at the center of it all. The warrior girl made a rapid series of vertical and horizontal rotations and made use of piercing lines of motion.
But they were both dancing.
“I take your hand, and dance.”
A loud noise rang out, but…
The dancer occasionally grabbed the forceful warrior girl’s movements and spun her around.
“And make so many selfish requests.”
Once the warrior girl regained control, the standard flow was reestablished.
“Let’s meet somewhere again.”
She moved in time with the dancer, reached out her hand, had it swept away, and yet used her motion to spin around.
“Give my present self.”
“A push forward.”
As if to say she could go even further…
She continued on.
“Wait, wait. What is this?”
Asama heard the workers speaking as they performed repairs in the vicinity.
She could clearly see what it was they were talking about.
It was a dance.
As Kimi moved around the scaffolding and performed a leaping dance, Futayo seemed to decorate Kimi’s surroundings. And including the afterimages, Futayo’s numbers were in the double digits.
To take Kimi’s hand, they all pursued her and tried to grab at her.
“She can still get away, can’t she?”
A warrior tried to capture a dancer.
Kimi may have been using her dance to symbolize that structure.
Oh, thought Asama.
If this dance represented the narrator of the lyrics Kimi was singing…
…She wants to take someone’s hand and lead the way, but she’s afraid to.
That was Futayo’s role.
She was the child who had no skill, the child who had no self-confidence, and the child who could not take that first step forward.
The person watching over her was trying to reach out a kind hand and to listen to her, but…
With that, the child rejected it. She felt comfortable and safe with the usual but stagnant desire.
However, that made her unable to catch up to the person whose hand she was trying to take.
A loud sound rang out.
The intensity and duration of the sound said it all. Futayo had begun to catch up.
“I take your hand, and dance.”
That phrase was repeated ad infinitum. That desire was restated ad infinitum. To make that the “specialty” inside her, the awkward girl awoke to her own movements. And…
“Wait, wait… Hey, you guys!”
The nearby workers called over the others
“Look! This is getting even crazier than at Mikawa!”
A diagram formed in the sky.
Futayo used her weapon’s extension device and repeated uses of Soaring Wings to begin drawing a high-speed back-and-forth.
With Kimi at the center, she used the scaffolding at one position removed to repeatedly leap in from different angles.
Futayo charged in and tried to take Kimi’s hand, spun around and tried to move back, and dodged before leaping to another piece of scaffolding.
By repeating this, she created two circles of afterimages. One circle danced right around Kimi and the other accelerated on the outer edges of the scaffolding. They whipped up the wind and the ether light as they matched Kimi’s movements and spun around.
The people watching were awestruck. They all focused their eyes beyond the bursting clouds and wind to view everything created by Kimi’s rotation and the two rings of Futayo.
“It’s a compass…”
The compass was spinning. The dancing shrine maiden controlled the spinning of destiny at the center.
And she distinctly held her hand forward.
Come, that hand said.
This fingertip is the point of the compass.
And so Futayo raced forward.
She poured in all of the speed she had accumulated in Soaring Wings.
The tip of her spear raced forward to pierce through the dancer.
This will work, thought Futayo.
I can use this direct path to send my spear straight through Kimi.
She did not hesitate to pierce her classmate and teacher with her spear.
If she held back here, she would be looking down on Kimi despite her own inexperience. So…
With a shout, she thrust her spear forward.
At that very moment, she sensed a certain presence.
I recognize this, thought Futayo.
She did not quite know what this was, but she still recognized it.
She recognized the sense of distance, the aura, and the atmosphere.
She had definitely experienced this before and “fallen victim” to it.
She sensed danger, so…
She twisted her body in midair. Without stopping Soaring Wings, she forcibly lowered Tonbo Spare.
She swung Tonbo Spare to the left, toward the Ariake.
A moment later, light burst from Tonbo Spare’s tip.
A line of light had flown through the air, collided with it, and been intercepted. It came from…
Futayo saw it.
Asama was aiming her bow toward her from Ariake’s edge.
She had already fired the arrow and Futayo had intercepted it.
It had been a training shot with no real force behind it.
But Futayo understood exactly what Asama’s shot meant.
“Do you understand?” asked Kimi. “That was a recreation of the Logismoi Oplo ‘Pheugos Gastrimargia’ shot that hit you at Magdeburg.”
Futayo quickly arrived at Kimi’s scaffolding and Kimi held a hand out to her.
“Isn’t this great? That will never happen again. …You just proved it yourself. You weren’t even focused on defense. You were on the attack and moving quite quickly, but not even a surprise attack from an Asama-class shot can get through to you.”
Kimi took her hand, pulled her forward, and gently embraced her.
“Now for your final test.”
“What is that?”
“Judge.” Kimi pushed on her back. “I’m giving you back your right to give up.”
As soon as Kimi said that, Futayo realized she had lost all of her speed from that push on the back.
Soaring Wings vanished, but it did not misfire. By dropping her speed, it lost the support for its power and was neutralized.
And after giving her that gentle inertia, Kimi spoke.
“Don’t give up.”
With that, she pushed Futayo out into the air.
Futayo was shoved from the edge of Kimi’s scaffolding and into the empty space between scaffoldings. She entered freefall.
Futayo was thrown out into the bottomless sky.
As Asama put away her bow Katatsubaki, she saw Futayo slowly falling.
Kimi bent her hips, held a hand to her forehead, and watched Futayo fall.
Asama felt this sight was a perfectly natural one.
…Oh, she was shoved off.
And after a second…
“Eh!? W-wait! She’s falling!!”
Gold Mar: “Eh? Really!? Sorry, I kind of forgot about that. Ah ha ha.”
“We have to do something! Um, c’mon, Kimi!!”
Kimi did not look back her way. She simply looked down where Futayo had fallen.
She tightly clenched her right fist. And then…
A loud noise rang out.
The noise coming from Futayo’s location rang loud in the sky.
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