OmaeGotoki: Volume 2 003 - The Slave Girl Has Nowhere To Run

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Even if Dane is trying to threaten her, she has no intention of acting any differently. She boldly heads straight for the adventurer’s guild, fully aware that it’s Dane’s headquarters. She’ll check to see if there are any requests related to Ink there, then she’ll leave right away.

Dane and his men smirk at her as she walks in, seeming to enjoy her appearance as a nice complement to their booze. Since they’re not openly insulting her they must be in an unusually amicable mood.

Recently, the guild’s receptionist Ila has started to take pity on Flum, likely feeling sorry for her after watching her being one-sidedly toyed with day in and day out.

“Do you really have to keep coming back here? There are other guilds in the Capital, you know.”

Ila’s voice is low enough that Dane and his men can’t hear her. Flum doesn’t even look at her as she replies.

“I’m a masterless slave, so I don’t really have a choice.”

She might be able to make a living if she came out and admitted to being the one-and-only Flum Apricot. Not only would that lead to her butting heads with Jean again, though, but she can’t imagine the Church would just sit by and do nothing. If she has any intention of revealing the Church’s conspiracy at all she’ll have to keep on living in secret in the West Quarter.

To be honest, though, Ila has a point; Dane’s interference is a real problem. He’s vandalized her house and even killed innocent people to get to her, so there’s no way she can let him be.

Flum’s determined to settle the score with him sooner or later, even if she has no idea how she’ll manage that yet.

“I wouldn’t take on any more quests if I were you.”

“Why?”

“You just made D-Rank the other day, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

Even with all the interference from Dane she’s made it through brute force alone, finally managing to raise her rank and get access to even more requests.

“You really shouldn’t have done that. Up until now he’s just found out what request you’re taking on, but now he’s specifically mixed in fake requests just to screw you over.”

She shows Flum the request list as she speaks.

“I wish you’d stop following his orders instead of just warning me.”

“Why would I do that? You haven’t exactly been a pleasure to work with yourself, and I am a part of his little group, after all.”

“Inconsistent bitch.”

“Hey, do you want me to force the worst of the fakes on you right here and now?”

Ila has no obligation to help Flum whatsoever. All she did was notice that Flum is still going strong in spite of everything and decide to lend her a little hand.

“...Fine. I won’t accept any quests today.”

She didn’t have any intention of doing so in the first place.

Passing her eyes over the list, she doesn’t see anything there that looks related to Ink. It’s possible that the request is too high-ranked to be on the list or that Dane went ahead and moved all the ‘good’ quests out of her reach.

“There haven’t been any requests about finding a lost girl, have there?”

“A kid? Sorry. I don’t think the Central or East Quarter guilds has anything like that, either.”

Ila’s eyes aren’t lying.

“I see. Thanks anyway.”

Determining that she’s telling the truth, Flum turns and leaves the guild.

Dane watches her leave, reclining with his legs crossed out in front of him. As soon as she passes out of sight he gives the men closest to him a meaningful look, and all at once they stand up and put the plan in motion.


◇◇◇


“Hahh… I don’t know what to do now. I’m still not all that familiar with the Capital yet, so I guess all I can really do is run around and hope I find something…”

Since Flum didn’t find anything at the guild, she’s at a loss as to what her next move should be.

I wish I had someone I can rely on, but I can only think of people from back home. There’s nobody in the Capital that---

“That’s right, I forgot about Otilier-san!”

Since she has close ties with the Military, she probably has access to information that Flum doesn’t. It must be fate that they reunited and even arranged for Flum to go see her in the Palace sometime soon.

“If I just walk into the Palace there’ll probably be trouble… Maybe if I go straight to the Barracks they won’t notice me?”

The Royal Army is one thing, but the king has close ties with the Church. It’d be all too careless to just walk right in.

Flum starts making her way through the back alleys towards the North Quarter, doing her best not to be seen by anyone.

“Hey! Stop right there!!”

From the alleyway ahead of her comes a man’s rough voice. Following the source of the voice she spots a young slave boy carrying a large fabric-wrapped bundle being chased by a pair of men. Without even seeming to notice her the three of them run right past her.

Turning around, Flum watches the men chase the boy around a corner.

“Isn’t that alley a dead end…?”

She gets a bad feeling about all this. Right on cue, the raw sounds of a struggle reach her ears.

“Don’t think you can get away with that, you little slave brat!”

“Die! Die! Your stupid life is worthless, so hurry up and die! That's ours!”

“P-Please stop, that’s all I have left…! It doesn’t belong to you…!!”

In the West Quarter, there are some people who really mean it when they tell you to die and are more than willing to lend a hand to that end.

Flum doesn’t recognize either of the men from the guild so they likely have nothing to do with Dane, but that doesn’t mean she can just let them do as they please.

“...Time for a little detour.”

Flum really isn’t suited for life in the West Quarter. Scuffles like this are by no means rare; the West Quarter is so unsafe that finding lynched children or vagrants is practically a daily occurrence. The key to survival, as the locals put it, is to learn to turn a blind eye. Flum is still young and rash, but even if she wasn’t she probably still couldn’t bring herself to ignore those in need.

“Stop right there, you two!”

She stands in the only exit to the alley and addresses the two men as they kick at the boy.

“Huhn? Who do you think you are?”

“You tryin’ to pick a fight with us, brat?”

The men are more hot-headed than she’d expected; they crack their knuckles as they start closing in on her.

They’re unarmed, and it doesn’t look like they’re hiding any weapons. They must be stupid wandering around here like that, or maybe that just proves they were in a rush to catch the kid… Scan --- their stats are too low for them to be anything but common people. Looks like I won’t need a weapon, either.

After she finishes gauging their strength, she balls her fists. She’s a complete novice at hand-to-hand, but that shouldn’t matter.

The men snort with laughter as they watch her drop into a ready stance.

“If you don’t wanna get hurt, little lady, you should hurry up and get lost.”

“That’s my line.”

“Ha, looks like you’re too young to tell dreams from reality. Lemme wake you up real quick!!”

He flies at her with both arms swinging, but given the differences in not only their stats but their experiences it’s almost too easy for Flum to dodge him. After getting an idea of his reach, she bends back to avoid his punch and uses the momentum of returning to her base stance to deliver a powerful blow to his face.

“Bugueh!?”

Blood sprays from his shattered nose as he awkwardly falls backwards. She’d cut her knuckles on his front teeth, but it takes only a split second for her regeneration to kick in and seal up the wound.

“How dare you---!”

The second man charges at her swinging, but she easily backsteps out of the way. He follows up with a straightforward kick, which Flum grabs with both hands. To be honest, though, she didn’t think about what she’d do if she actually caught him, so she decides to just kick him back.

“Guahh!!”

She sends him crashing to the ground, and after rolling for a while he crashes into a wall and stops moving. At that moment the first man gets to his feet again, but the will to fight has already left his eyes.

“We won’t forget this…!”

He grabs his fallen comrade and helps him to his feet, and leaving that cliched line behind they flee the alley.

“They’re hot-headed, but at least they’re sensible thugs…”

By West Quarter standards they’re the quiet, obedient type.

Flum dusts herself off, then walks over to the boy. She crouches down and addresses him in a kind voice.

“You okay? You’re not hurt too bad, are you?”

He shakes his head.

“Good. Can you stand?”

She extends a hand to him. He timidly accepts it and stands up.

“There’s a good boy.”

The boy has a slave mark on his cheek just like Flum, but the colour is raw like fresh blood as if it hasn’t been there very long. Flum’s real interest, however, lies in the cloth bundle.

“Is that important to you?”

“...Yeah.”

“Did you just run away from a slave merchant with that?”

“I hated it there…”

“Hahaha, yeah, I can imagine. I hated it, too.”

If it’s possible to run, then running is the best thing to do. The chances that such a little kid became a slave through legal means is almost zero, after all.

Fortunately, if she can get him to an orphanage then the slave merchants shouldn’t be able to reach him.

“Do you have a home you can go back to?”

“No. My family’s all dead.”

“In that case, I’ll take you to the church, okay?”

She can’t take on any more children, and there’s no reason to not just let Ed and Johnny deal with him.

“I don’t know if you’ll end up in the orphanage there or not, but at least they’ll look after you for a while.”

Flum grabs his hand and starts walking, but he doesn’t budge.

It’s then that Flum finally notices the smell from the white bundle the boy is carrying.

A brown fluid seems to be slowly oozing out of it.

This smell… don’t tell me it’s---

She has a good idea what it is.

It’s an awful lot like that smell.

Ahh, I get it now. The reason why those weren’t Dane’s men was because they would’ve recognized this smell.

“Hey, so what’s in…?”

“Do you want to see?”

The boy pulls away the cloth to reveal the object’s true identity.

There before Flum’s eyes is the head of the slave merchant who had bought her.

It’s been split down the middle, of course, but the two halves have been forcibly stitched together. A rank, rotting brown fluid oozes from the suture.

“This is Dad. You murdered him.”

Following in the same vein as those posters covering her house, Dane must be looking down at her as a mere sixteen-year-old brat and trying to corner her mentally.

“I really wish you’d used your chance to just run.”

Now that she knows it’s all just part of Dane’s plot, nothing the boy says can bother her. Her agitation quickly subsides.

“Why’d you have to kill him? There wasn’t any reason to, was there?”

Instead, Flum’s heart is filled with a cold that would put a murderer to shame.

“If you want to blame me for what I’ve done, then blame away. No matter what you say, though, I won’t ever regret killing your ‘Dad’ or whatever you claim he is to you.”

“It’s because of you I’m a slave!”

“You can stop talking now. Make sure to tell Dane that these cheap, roundabout tricks won’t work on me.”

Flum turns around and starts walking away.

Just then---

“Kh… Uwaaaaaaaaaaahh!!”

The boy lets out a loud cry and charges at her back.

His employer would get angry if he didn’t at least try to kill me after failing, I guess.

She calmly turns around and kicks the knife out of the boy’s hand.

“Agh!?”

The glinting silver blade draws a luminous arc through the air before hitting the ground.

The boy looks up at her with a terrified expression as he falls backwards onto his butt.

“Jeez, I hate how underhanded he is… There’s no need to turn that, of all things, into a big deal…”

Flum spits out those words before leaving the alley.

Dane’s influence is a lot more expansive than she thinks. In fact, the reason why she and Milkit are forced to do all their shopping in the Central Quarter is thanks to his collusion with the local stores, ensuring that they get turned away at the door. Up until now, all of his enemies have eventually been cornered financially and mentally instead of just physically before he ends them once and for all.

“This is the first time he’s come at me so directly, though… I need to be even more careful from now on.”

He could come after her anywhere and at any time. As long as she’s in the Capital she can’t let her guard down.

Leaving the alleys and entering a main street, she slaps her cheeks to clear her mind and is about to start off towards the Palace again when she notices something.

That smell again, this time with the added scent of fresh blood.

“You’re kidding me...”

She slowly turns her head to the side like a tin soldier’s.

Lying there are the corpses of the two men from moments before, deep gashes in their backs.

I was wondering why Dane used thugs that weren’t his… Maybe it was so he could kill them like this?

It might be to get rid of any eyewitnesses in case the boy failed.

At any rate, this clearly isn’t Dane’s typical style. He wouldn’t just kill someone he hired like this --- in fact, he’d be far more likely to use their failure as leverage to blackmail them into a more permanent relationship with him.

As she stands there in confusion, three guardsmen run up to the scene, likely called by a passerby.

I don’t know what Dane’s thinking and I’m not going to find out just standing here, so I’d better just leave this to the guards.

Flum moves to leave the scene.

“Halt.”

One of the guards calls out to her.

“What is it? I’m just an innocent bystander. I just happened to be passing through…”

Without listening to a word she says, he draws his sword.

“W-Whoa, what’re you---”

“You’re wanted on suspicion of murder. You’re coming with us.”

“That’s nonsense, I just got here!”

“Be quiet! You’re clearly the one responsible for this heinous crime!”

His words really are nonsense.

“...Don’t tell me Dane’s made the Royal Army into his pawns, too?”

She’d heard that he was expanding his power base, but she didn’t expect him to start using the Military. Chances are that he only managed to blackmail or bribe a squad or two in the West Quarter into doing his bidding, but that alone is more than enough to accuse her of a crime or two. If they catch her there’s no telling what ‘evidence’ they’ll have against her.

The punishment for the murder of two men is execution. Worse, if she hurts a soldier on-duty the charges against her will only increase.

Since they won’t listen to her, her only option is to run.

“Kh!”

Flum breaks into a sudden sprint.

“Stop right there, murderer!”

The guards call out loudly and conspicuously before starting after her. She can feel the gazes of countless passersby on her as she runs. The soldiers continue shouts of “Murderer!” as they chase her, and increasingly more people turn to look at her.

Feeling almost like a real criminal, she runs through the Capital as the sun beats down on her overhead.


◇◇◇


A girl tends to stand out when she’s being chased by soldiers, especially if she has a slave mark on her face. It’s only natural that Flum sticks to thin alleyways that see little foot traffic.

It really feels like I’m getting driven further and further into a corner, though…

Her weapon is a greatsword, which means that she’s at a large disadvantage in close quarters even though she isn’t planning on trying to fight off her pursuers.

All she has to do is make it to the West Quarter Church, which is under the paladins’ jurisdiction not the Military’s, or back home, where Eterna is waiting. If both those fail, she’ll have to make it out to the North Quarter and get Otilier to cover for her.

“I won’t let you get away!”

Flum can run faster than the soldiers can. Noticing that, one of them sends a chunk of ice flying at her.

They’re throwing magic at me now!?

It isn’t very powerful, but it’s plenty precise. The half-meter-long arrow of ice hits the ground near her feet and shatters, sending razor-sharp shards of ice into her legs.

“Kh…!”

Her wounds heal right away, but it’s enough to slow her down. Worse, the path ahead of her splits into three.

Straight ahead is a dead end. The other two roads… where do they lead again?

She knows the West Quarter fairly well now, but not well enough to have memorized every alley.

Whatever, right it is!

Fortunately, Flum chooses the path that leads directly to the church.

Unfortunately, the bowman blocking the path in front of her is ready and waiting for her.

An ambush!?

She isn’t able to react to the enemy that suddenly appears in front of her in time. His arrow buries itself deep into her thigh.

“Guh…!”

He puts his next arrow to the string as the two soldiers following her start to close in.

T-This is nothing compared to what that ‘ogre’ could do…!

She yanks the arrow out of her leg with brute force.

“Gh, AAAAAGH!!”

Seeing her yank out the arrow and hearing her hoarse scream, the soldiers all hesitate for a moment, intimidated. Making use of that opening, Flum casts Scan on the bowman in front of her.

Niv Cranfeldt
Attribute : Air
Strength  : 450
Magic     : 112
Stamina   : 381
Agility   : 253
Intuition : 162

His stat total of 1,358 puts him at about C-Rank. Assuming he’s a typical soldier, the two behind her are probably about as strong.

On the other hand, Flum’s stats including her equipment are as follows.

Flum Apricot
Attribute : Reversal
Strength  : 670
Magic     : 538
Stamina   : 1,194
Agility   : 920
Intuition : 128

Her stat total is 3,450, putting her stat-wise at B-Rank.

In a one-on-one fight she wouldn't have any problems, but it’s not that simple. Not only are there three of them but she can’t afford to kill them, whereas the soldiers are clearly using lethal force; any normal person would’ve died of hemorrhagic shock after getting hit in the thigh like that unless they received immediate treatment. She’s not sure she can win against them with such a handicap.

Escaping without hurting them is probably impossible, so I’ll just crush the guy right in front of me and get out of here!

Watching for magic from behind, she charges at the soldier in front of her while they’re still recovering from the shock. He steps back and fires his next arrow, but she draws the Zweihander and deflects it. One of the soldiers behind her puts his hand to the ground, causing a frosty streak of ice to streak towards her feet.

Right before it hits her she jumps, and---

“HAAAAAAAAA!!”

---she swings down at the soldier in front of her. He holds up his bow to guard, but needless to say it isn’t enough to stop the blade as it rends his armour. It leaves a thick gash in his chest, but it won’t be enough to kill him.

“You’re the ones who started all this, so don’t hate me for it!”

As soon as she lands she starts running again.

The bow soldier joins the other two in chasing after her, despite losing his weapon.

“Really, why the hell are you all so determined to do what Dane says!?”

Even if he’s blackmailing them it’s just disgraceful.

Flum has no problem leaving the heavily-armoured soldiers behind as she runs, and just when she’s about to lose them completely --- a two-meter-tall barricade appears in front of her.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…!”

If nothing else, they’re extremely thorough for going so far to stop a mere slave. Either they knew she was going to be headed this way or all the other routes are barricaded the same way. It’s short enough that she shouldn’t have too much trouble climbing it, but if the soldiers chasing her don’t catch up to her in that time the soldiers surely waiting on the other side will.

She can’t just throw in the towel here, though.

Flum puts on an extra burst of speed as she runs at one of the walls of the alleyway. She jumps and kicks off the wall, and sailing through the air she kicks off the opposite wall and manages to barely fly right over top of it.

“Impossible, she just jumped it!?”

“There’s no way a normal slave could just do something like that!”

She lands neatly on the other side, noticing the soldiers in the corner of her eye as they stare at her wide-eyed. Sparing no time she immediately starts running again, quickly putting distance between herself and the barricade soldiers. One of them throws some Fire magic at her, but she leans out of the way to dodge as she runs.

I can do it! If I can only make it out onto the street the church should be right there!

Flum recognizes this alleyway; she can’t get lost from here. The exit to the street is right in front of her; as soon as she makes it there all she has to do is ask the paladins for help and she’ll be free of this mess.

As soon as she can she’ll head right back home; there’s a fair chance Eterna and Milkit are also under attack from Dane’s men.

I’ll start worrying about them as soon as I’m safe.

What awaits Flum on the street, however, isn’t hope but despair.

“Kh...”

The ten soldiers waiting there quickly surround her and train their bows on her, cutting off her escape. The soldiers from the barricade catch up a moment later.

“Your great escape ends here, Criminal Flum.”

“I take it you’re supposed to be in charge here?”

The man standing behind the wall of soldiers is wearing armour with a slightly different design from the others. Something about his facial features reminds Flum of Dane’s henchmen.

I guess like personalities lead to like expressions, huh.

“Do you really think you can get away with abusing your power like this!?”

“Of course. It’ll be especially easy to make this whole incident disappear, especially since you’re only a slave.”

In other words, they don’t realize that she was one of the Hero’s companions and are only chasing her under Dane’s orders.

“I’m sure the Major General would be in tears if she saw her men wagging their tails at scum like Dane.”

“Well, she doesn’t have to know, now, does she?”

“You won’t deny it, huh? I guess that means Dane has some dirt on you after all. Seriously, if you’re so desperate to save your own skins I can’t even imagine why you decided to become---”

“Fire!”

All at once the soldiers surrounding her loose their arrows, cutting her off. She swings the Zweihander and knocks away some of them, but she can’t defend herself from all directions at once. Arrows embed themselves in her shoulders, arms, abdomen, and legs.

“Gugh!... ugh, hah... uu…”

Even if she heals quickly, the pain doesn’t fade so easily. She breaks out in a cold sweat as her face twists with pain. Maybe thanks to her anger, her mind is still crystal clear, and she doesn’t even fall to her knees.

“Impressive, but there’s no way you can---”

“GAAAAAH!! Ah, ha, haah… AAAAAAGGHH!!”

She howls as she yanks out the arrows one by one with her bare hands.

“Haahh, hahh… gh, gah, OAAAAAGH!!”

Casting away the last of them she glares at the soldiers surrounding her. Most of them can’t handle her intimidation and take a few nervous steps back.

“D-Don’t falter! She’s only bluffing!”

Even the commander’s lip is trembling.

He’d heard that she was nothing more than a common slave. He wasn’t expecting her to be unfazed by more than ten of his men, let alone have the spine to stand against them. He’s probably at least as shaken as his men and even more confused.

“C-Calm down and fire again! Think of this as a training drill! That’s not a human, only a training dummy!”

“Don’t treat me like some thing! I’m not just going to give up and get killed here by trash like you!”

“There’s nowhere for you to run! If you kill any of my men only more soldiers will take their place, and by the time we finally catch you your death with be all the more painful!”

Give up and die, or resist and die.

She’s had to make that choice before, and she’ll make the same choice now.

“I’ll die either way, right?”

“Of course.”

“Then I don’t care if I die a criminal. I’ll live by my will and my will alone!!”

She runs straight for the commander.

“W-What!? S-Somebody stop her! Stay back, stay baaaack!!”

Flum doesn’t know why he’s so scared.

He probably thought he was safe because he’s a soldier.

He probably thought Flum was completely cornered and as good as harmless.

The second wave of arrows is a lot less organized than the first and most of them miss her. Only one manages to hit her, stabbing into her calf.

“Yes!”

One of the soldiers pumps his fist. He probably thinks that she’s going to lose her balance and fall from the pain, but he’s sorely mistaken.

Arrow still in her leg she reaches the soldier between her and the commander, and raising her sword she mercilessly brings it down on his head.

A low, deep, wet thud resounds.

The pitch-black blade crashes into his helmet, crushing it along with his skull, caving his head in instead of splitting it down the middle.

His brain is crushed. His death is instantaneous.

He was probably a respectable soldier who only followed the orders he was given --- his only flaw was putting his trust in the wrong man.

“Ee…!”

The commander falls backwards, desperately trying to flee from Flum even as he wets himself with fear.

Unease quickly spreads through their ranks as they start to break formation.

Flum can’t miss this chance.

This is my chance!

She suppresses the urge to stop and kill the commander; if she gets caught here there’s no point. Prioritizing her getaway, she sprints away without looking back once.


◇◇◇


“This way’s also blocked off…”

No matter what angle Flum tries to approach the West Quarter church from, she only runs into more barricades. At this rate it’d probably be best to assume that all routes to and from the church have been completely cut off. They’ll probably have some explaining to do to the paladins, but however forceful the plan is she can’t deny it’s effective. She can’t just break through with brute force; regardless of the power struggles going on between the two sides, beneath the surface they’re still technically working together. Not even Ed and Johnny would take her side if they saw her killing soldiers.

I’d love to meet up with Eterna-san and Milkit, but they probably won’t let me anywhere near the house. If I’d known this was going to happen I would’ve let Eterna-san help from the beginning… no, I guess I still wouldn’t have. If she’s not at the house then she can’t keep Milkit safe.

Milkit’s safety comes first and foremost, so since Eterna’s the stronger of them her role is clear.

I guess leaving the West Quarter’s also going to be difficult, but given all the routes in and out I get the feeling that’s where they’ll be spread thinnest… I should be able to find something.

She stops for a moment in the darkness of a nearby alley, leaning her body against the wall and letting out a sigh.

The wind blows a piece of paper into her feet as she stands there.

“...Hm? What’s this?”

She picks it up. Printed on it are the words [WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE: FLUM THE RIPPER] along with a realistic drawing of her making a cruel, merciless expression. At the bottom of the flyer is the Royal Army’s seal and a handsome bounty.

She clicks her tongue and balls it up.

“Those bastards… They even made wanted posters!?”

Dane must’ve figured out that she’d resort to killing soldiers eventually and planned accordingly. If that’s the case, then he probably already has a countermeasure in place for if she tries to leave the West Quarter.

“At this point I may as well just kill everyone I see and get it over with.”

She’d said it as a joke with a half-smile, but she’s surprised to hear murderous intent dripping from her voice.

“Oi, there she is! It’s Flum the Ripper!!”

Just then a thug finds her and calls out. The man isn’t a soldier but one of Dane’s men, and clutched in his hand is one of the wanted posters. Now that she’s paying attention she can spot similar posters stuck to the walls, even.

With this, Dane and his cronies have gained enough of a justification to kill her even in broad daylight. From now on she’ll have to deal with Dane’s men and bounty hunters in addition to the Royal Army --- but not just that, now that she has a ‘reputation’ even normal passersby will notice her and help with her capture by reporting her on sight.

“I don’t care how plain I am, at this point somebody had better recognize me!!”

If anyone recognizes her as one of the Hero’s companions, then someone will surely recognize this whole fiasco as a plot of some sort --- but putting her hope in that would be no better than leaving it all to luck.

All manner of thugs and ruffians start swarming towards her at the first thug’s call like low-level monsters.

“My only way out is…”

The alley she’s hiding in is a dead end, but the alley is narrow and the roof on her left side is fairly low.

“...Up!”

She runs down the alley, kicks off the right wall and barely manages to gain enough height to grab the eaves of the house to the left and pull herself up.

“She’s on the roof! After her!!”

[[YEAH!!!]]

Dane’s probably promised his men some sort of bonus if they catch her.

The overly-enthusiastic ruffians clamour up to the roof after her in hot pursuit.


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