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The Black Swan Inn II

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  Quote Miah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Black Swan Inn II
    Posted: 16 Mar 2014 at 7:26pm
 
Stables

Thoragon was delighted to learn that he’d get a helping hand that day. Now finally, he thought, he could get more of his blacksmithing projects finished. He tossed a few more shovelfuls of charcoal into the furnace until burning red embers lit up the dimly lit area at the back of the stable. A wooden counter along the back wall was filled with many broken pieces of tools, weapons and armour. And all along the floor there stood even bigger projects just waiting for attention. Thoragon rubbed his hands together somewhat eager to be rid of a few items in his barn that seemed to take up too much space or have been there too long. He noted also that their owners will be happy to have them returned, fixed and back to their former glory. Thoragon took a lot of pride in his work with blacksmithing and he did not tolerate sloppy work. So he set high standards for himself for the reason that he would expect the same out of others. Any project he had lying around was a very important project to him. No matter how small or detailed he always put his full attention on it.

Now with the fires burning good and hot he knew he’d be ready to get to work once the horses were taken care of. That is when he heard a familiar voice call out from somewhere near the entrance of the stable. ‘Impeccable timing’ he thought with a smile as he turned and walked to greet his visitor.  The shed row was dimly lit but he could easily see the figure walking toward him. They met somewhere in the middle when Thoragon smiled and bowed his head slightly to Fuin. “Welcome back, m’lady Fuin. I trust all was well last night?”.
 
Pub
 
At the break of dawn Tom walked into the pub just as his wife Elie got to work in the kitchen to prepare breakfast. The first thing he noticed was that the air was warm and inviting. His eyes looked to the fireplace and noticed a decent flame upon the hearth. Then as he scanned the room he noticed that the tables and chairs had been straightened and the floor was clean. The entire room looked clean and tidy. He smiled, thinking of the elven lady at the bar last night. This put him in a good mood right away and he decided that since he had this extra time he’d spend it helping his wife in the kitchen.
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  Quote Fuin Elda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2014 at 5:02am
Stables

Fuin caught sight of Thoragon coming out from another room down the row in the stable and smiled.  The stable itself was still dimly lit but she could tell from his shape and gate that it was him well before they met near the middle of the isle.  "It's just Fuin unless you wish for me to start calling you Sir Thoragon.  Even Lord Elrond couldn't get me to allow people to call me lady or m'lady so I have a feeling you'll have a much harder go of it than him." She said with a laugh,  "I found the Inn to be quite the lovely just what I needed  the stew and ale really hit the spot." She smiled largely and glanced at the horses.

"I see I am too late to help with feeding and watering it seems.  I'll have to wake up earlier tomorrow so I can get the pub cleaned up before you have all that work finished."  She knew very well how much work it could be to feed this many horses.  She doubted Thoragon had a hard time of it, it was just a lot of work and that was how she was going to make sure she paid her way for the pub but taking a proper share of the work, and feeding and watering the horses would be a good part of it, though she was certain they would all need to be watered at least once more during the day possibly fed once more if they were given only a small amount of feed.  It was something she would have to find out how Thoragon operated his stable.

"So what would you have me help out with?  Mucking? Tack cleaning? Grooming?  All of them?"  She asked with a smile reaching out her hand to rub the velvety muzzle of the horse beside them that stuck his head out for attention.
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  Quote Miah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Mar 2014 at 7:31pm
Stables

“Aye, Levon did mention something about you doing some chores this morning. An arrangement you have with my father if I am correct. Not the first time someone has come to offer services to pay for their stay.” He smiled, looking at her.

Elves were… well, elves were just different he had to admit that he never quite understood, maybe mysterious was a better word. Thoragon had few encounters with elves, let alone female elves, but those that he had ever met always carried an air of superiority about them, they were the First born after all. Ever has he been enraptured by their ancient beauty and grace. They were a very intriguing race that was certain, however, he did not want to seem uncomfortably strange whenever she was around so he reminded himself that she was just like any other woman that stepped foot in his stable. He would just have to pretend that her status as a higher being mattered not, which was no easy task. For her eyes show great wisdom and intelligence. He was probably of little significance to her, he thought. Being a mere mortal and all.

When she asked about what she would be doing he gave a nod to the horse she was petting and said, “Aye, all those things and maybe a bit of tacking up and riding too, but we’ll see.” He started walking back to the tack room, indicating for her to walk with him. “I have few young lads that come here every mornin’ to take some of the horses out for exercise.” He stopped and turned to the row of stalls where several heads and inquisitive eyes were stuck out as if they knew they were being talked about. “Now these six here will go out today for about an hour of riding. Their owners will not be here to see to them all week so I have to make sure they get out at least once a day. Then farther near the back of the stable are the cripples. Those there will go out for an hour but only to be walked and enjoy the sunshine for a bit. They are recovering from injuries and can not be ridden.”

At the tack room Thoragon grabbed two halters and two leads off the wall. He gave one set to Fuin and pointed to her own horses’ stall. “Well, you might as well as begin with your own. We will both muck out the stalls into the middle of the aisle until the riders come. If you need to take a horse out of his stall then tie him up.” He held up the halter and lead rope in his other hand. “You start here and I’ll work in the next stall to you.” He handed her a pitchfork and took one for himself and then walked into the first horses’ stall. The horse, which was his own and who was very well trained at this morning routine, walked up to him confidently as if he expected pets or treats or something. Thoragon stroked the thick muscular neck of his black horse, Loki and easily slipped the halter over his head and led him out of the stall, tying him in the aisle where he would be safe from an accidental poke with the fork. He then walked around behind the horse and grabbed his pitchfork and started to pick through the various pieces of good and dirty straw.
 
“So, Fuin” he said, while he worked. “I’m curious, though, if I am being too nosey just say so. What brings you so far from home to be here? Do you have family here?”
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  Quote Fuin Elda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2014 at 4:38pm
Stables

"If it gets more work done it makes sense I suppose that I would not be the first."  She said giving a nod, she could tell that he was a bit; off around her.  She knew what it was it had happened many times before, more often now that she was far older than she had been back in the days when she was young.  She did her best not to let it get to her, it had at first.

She nodded as they headed to the end of the row to what she assumed was the tack room, one of the perks of mucking stalls was the chance to ride a few of the horses.  She certainly did not mind the chance to exercise a few horses.  She turned and looked back most of the horses had their heads out and ears pricked looking at the two of them and she could not help but smile, the horses seemed to know Thoragon well,  "Sounds like a full day of work just exercising this lot."    With that she turned and took the lead and halter that the Gondorian offered before pointing to her own horses stall, she grabbed the pitchfork and headed to it.  She stood and gave the tired mare a gentle pat the horse resting her neck and head on Fuins shoulder the weight was almost painful but she knew the mare did it more out of love and exhaustion.  As Thoragon slipped into the stall beside her he was a big burly black beast compared to her little mare he behaved well, and reminded her very much of her first warsteed Innisfail.
"It's alright dear we are just going into the hall so I can clean the little bit of mess you've made then you can go back in rest."  This earned her a nicker and the horse raised her head so that she could slip the halter on.  "And once I"m all done the chores I'll give you a nice long rub."  She said softly as she led the mare out.  This got a snort and the mare stood there head down a bit looking up at her as Fuin tied her up.

With one last pat she headed into the stall there wasn't too much mess at least and she made quick work of the bits of messed straw.  However she paused when Thoragon asked what brought her so far from home, the smile she had on her face faded.
"No, I have no family here.  I came here because I suppose this is where the currents took me."  She said shaking her head.  "I was almost dead or dead, I'm not quite sure, I assume almost dead since I certainly still have the scar from the wound that should have killed me.  I woke up with Dol Amroth.  Why I was sent to  Dol Amroth rather than the Grey Havens is beyond me, but I will take being alive and far from home to being dead. and stuck in the Halls."  She said with a shrug, she wondered if Thoragon wished he had not asked as she finished up her mares stall.
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  Quote Miah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Mar 2014 at 5:44pm
 
Stables

Most of what Thoragon heard made little sense to him. He had never even heard of a place called The Grey Havens before, and what were these Halls she spoke of? He assessed what he heard in his mind, which was racing for an appropriate reply. He sensed the uneasiness of her words and thought that if she was sensitive to speak of it then perhaps he had ought to respect her privacy. She had a fatal injury and then became washed ashore at Dol Amroth? Well at least it was a place he had heard of. He was so taken aback by her story that he didn’t know what to say at first. He was just a blacksmith after all and not all that educated on all the far outer areas of Gondor. When finally he found some words to say he said, “Fuin, your story fills me with great sadness and wonder, but you need not speak of it if it is too difficult for you. I mean, I will respect your privacy on the matter, and be glad with you that you are not stuck in such halls that would cause you so much fear and dread. If being here aids you in getting home then know that you may stay here as long as you need to.”
 
Thoragon picked through Loki’s stall fairly quickly, tossing the wet straw and manure out into the shed row and then adding half a bale of fresh straw. He refilled the water pail with fresh water and then untied his horse and led him back into his stall, which was now fresh and clean again. He tossed in a couple of flakes of hay and moved on to the next stall.
 
This was the usual morning routine, only this time he had help therefore most of the work was accomplished before the two boys showed up to exercise the horses. And right on time as on any other day they strode into the barn with their riding boots and riding crops. “G’mornin’ master Thor. What happened here? Did you get up extra early or something?” asked one of the boys as they approached. They noticed Fuin and then looked back to Thoragon as he was stepping out of a stall he just finished.
 
“Early? Nay, as you can see I have help this morning and maybe for a few days, I do not know. This here is Fuin,” he indicated with his hand. “She is a guest here but is also helping out with some chores around here, just so you know. We will be taking out a few to exercise today as well, so go on and tack up your mounts.”
 
The two boys, aged 14 and 15 quickly nodded and then hurried off to the tack room anxious to get to work. Thoragon stood watching them for a moment and then turned to Fuin. “Good boys those two. They work for cheap and are good with the horses. I’ve never had a horse come back lame. They’ll walk ‘em and groom ‘em and make sure they are good and taken care of before they leave. I’ll give them each a silver coin, which is not much but it keeps them coming back.” He said, smiling.
 
Thoragon then went about the task of clearing the aisle so they could begin riding. He took his horse Loki and put a harness on him and then hooked him up to an empty flat decked trailer that was parked at the back of the barn. As Loki moved ahead slowly step by step, Thoragon quickly forked the manure onto the wagon. Once the wagon was full and the whole aisle was clear of waste he led the horse and wagon outside in front of the stables. He left them there and walked inside. “When the boys get back from their ride they will take and dump it.” He said to Fuin. Thoragon dusted his hands on his legs and then smiled. “All we have to do now is sweep the aisle clean and we can go on that ride. What say you?”
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  Quote Fuin Elda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Mar 2014 at 7:25pm
Stables

Fuin gave a nod to his words.  "It is not difficult, beyond I am unsure why I am here, I do remember watching a sunrise and thinking it would be the last I would see on these shores.  I have faced death many times through many wars that are distant memories to the race of man so the Halls of Mandos I do not fear or dread, they are a place of rest really until the soul is ready to return to life.  I mostly worry that they will be boring and that life as a child will be far more rewarding and that I will remember my life here too swiftly and become old and dull once more by comparison."  She said smiling once more as she finished picking out her mares stall.  "That and I would be in Valinor beyond this world and unable to return for my kind is passing west and I still have a love for Middle-earth, but if you have questions I will try to answer them, my heart is light and without sorrow for the event even if my mind is confused."  She said with a laugh tossing more straw.  She topped up her water but left her without more hay, she'd not finished her first bit of food yet having stirred later than most other horses.  Slipping the halter off she went and continued this task until they were finished with the stalls themselves of course that was when the boys that Thoragon  had spoken of earlier.

She stood in the stall she had just finished as they came running in she gave them a small smile as they questioned how Thoragon had gotten all that work finished before they caught sight of her.  Thoragon sent them to work quickly and when he told her the pay she gave a nod, "It is a fair wage for them I am sure, there are many places that would likely give them far less for their work and they seem happy and eager enough that it."  She said before helping him clear the isle of the wet straw that they had pulled from the stallsand the wagon with the great black horse stood calmly.  "I'd say that horse is well behaved or doesn't care to drag a wagon around more than he has need to."  She said as she took the pitchforks they had both been using and put them back where Thoragon had taken them from.  There were brooms there as well so she grabbed one for herself and one for him as well.  "and that some riding would be quite pleasant."  

With that she began the task of sweeping away the last of the mess that they had made from mucking out the stalls.  It was a task that likely would have taken only a few minutes with one person, with two it was even swifter and soon their work with cleaning was done.

"So which horses will we be taking out first?"  She asked as she held out a hand for the broom to put it away.  It was going to be interesting, she was not use to using a saddle so she was certain that by tomorrow her bottom would be plenty sore even if she was an elf.
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  Quote Miah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2014 at 11:12pm
 
Stables

With the cleaning done and out of the way Thoragon was ready to go on a ride. It would be the only chance he would get all day to see the sun and breath the fresh clean air, as he would spend many hours that day inside the barn foraging steel. In a way it was a break for him before he started on the many other tasks that needed tending to at the blacksmith station located within the stables. When Fuin asked which horses they would be taking out first Thoragon pointed to the stall near where she was standing. "You can take the chestnut mare, Sandy who is owned by one of my permanent clients that lives in the City. According to the schedule he will not be riding her today, so she’s yours for the next few hours.” He said, smiling. “And if you feel more comfortable riding with no saddle then you may do so. I noticed you had none on your own mare last night.”

Once Fuin was standing ready with her mount, Sandy, Thoragon quickly pulled out the horse from the next stall down. His name was Brutus and it wasn’t too hard to understand where he got his name from, for he was a rather large and muscular grey horse that stood proud and tall when he stepped out onto the centre aisle. He was very well trained and stood quietly while he was being tacked up but his gaze was directed to outside where he was eager to be. Thoragon explained to Fuin that it was his cousin’s warhorse. My cousin just came in a few days ago and will be laid up here in the City for a while so Brutus here will need a good work out today to help keep him fit. Don’t worry Sandy is quite capable of keeping up with him. She is by far one of the finest and fittest horses in the stable. In fact, the owner races her with other horses for money sometimes. So, I must keep her fit at all times.”
 
Thoragon tightened up the cinch and stretched out the stirrups before he stepped up into the saddle with ease and taking the reins in his big hands. He turned to Fuin next to him. “I suspect you are nothing less than an excellent rider so I won’t have to tell you to hang on when she wants to gallop, and gallop she will! Come on then.” he waved her on and they rode out of the stable. Everything was put away and would be fine until they got back. This was a usual routine for the stablemaster but only this time he had company, and he was happy to have it too.
 
They walked on for about a mile just talking before they kicked their horses into a trot. Thoragon asked Fuin many questions about her homeland having found himself becoming more and more curious about her. Despite knowing very little about elves and where they came from he thought it all quite interesting even if he would forget all the names of places that she mentioned. Mainly he just enjoyed her company and if she did most of the talking he would just listen and try to paint a picture with her words in his mind. Soon though they had reached the three-mile mark and the warm up exercising was about to come to an end.

“Alright, Fuin” Thoragon looked over to her as he began to stand up and lean forward on Brutus. He took a good hold of the reins and urged his horse on to a easy gallop. Together they galloped steady, under a hold, for at least the next two miles when finally he slowed his mount down to a trot again.

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  Quote Fuin Elda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2014 at 1:09am
Stables

Fuin took a look into the stall at the chestnut mare.  She was lean and toned like any horse would be for running.  She nodded  grateful that she'd not have to ride on a saddle, though she figured she had best get use to it eventually.  
"You and your big horses."  Fuin said with a laugh, "I will have to get Sandy to run circles about you and your big horses since she will have the benefit of a lighter load upon her back."  With that she went and fetched the bridle that was hung up on a peg that was marked for Sandy since she was a permanent fixture.  Fuin glanced at the saddle that looked to be the mares as well and decided that with her little boast the mare would probably need all the help she could get the war steed was much larger than she was and very fit. 

She opened the stall to the mare and gave the horse  gentle pat and a brush down before sliding the bridle over her head and leading her out of her stall and  giving Thoragon a smile as they mounted up he was quite right about her being an excellent rider, when one was Ages old one had better be.  The two of them headed out of the stables at an easy walk and she could see that Thoragon was quite happy to be out of the stable and under the sun and in the wind.   There was a good number of questions that she answered, where she was from where she had lived over the years, which was a good number of places, she could tell that he had not heard of many of these places, perhaps a few vaguely from tales that parents would tell their children before bed of magical elves that fought against dragons and darkness but she could tell most of it was simply enjoying company.

Fuin had to admit that she too was enjoying the company, she had spent much of her time alone the last few days aside from her mare, who was not as good company as one might think for an elf, though she was decent enough.  In Dol Amroth she had never gotten overly friendly with anyone, she had been after all an oddity, an elven woman brought in in white clothing with flowers long withered strewn in her little boat that was not sea worthy in the least by any proper mariners reckoning.  And then Thoragon spoke what his words meant was unclear but  Fuin caught his movements and gave a laugh, Brutus matched his name from the looks of it he had a brutal stride fit for a warhorse that ate ground at what would be an alarming rate if she were facing down the two of them.  Sandy snorted angrily at her for letting the big horse go ahead of her like that while she was still stuck trotting though it was perhaps only a few moments that Fuin had watched the large horse surge ahead.

"Alright Sandy lets go."  She said she did not stand she lacked the saddle or stirrups to do so.  Instead she pulled her legs up so that she was almost crouched on the mares back and squeezed her sides gently with them and kneaded the mares neck.  The racing horse responded with zest and sprung forwards and though her gallop was an easy one it was swift and Fuin had to sit up so that she didn't charge right past Brutus and Thoragon and onwards.  The distance they covered was amazing before they both pulled up though Sandy fought this at first  shaking her head but quickly fell in line with her riders wishes.

"She seems to think that that was not much of a run and that she was jogging I think. " Fuin said with a bit of a laugh as they began trotting once more.  She had to hold the reins a bit tighter than she had before the gallop at first.  Sandy wanted to go back to a gallop but Fuin would not allow it she needed a bit of a rest first perhaps they would run again later in the ride but she was learning the way Thoragon did things and she would follow the stable masters example.

"Have you ever gone riding with those boys?"  She asked suddenly curious as to the stable masters demeanor towards company, it seemed like it was not something he overly had while working or riding and they seemed to be there to ride often enough.  "Or do they ride a different circuit for horses that don't need as much exercise?"
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  Quote Miah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2014 at 4:33pm
Stables

As they walked along to give the horses a short breather Fuin asked if he ever rode with the two boys who came to exercise the horses. Thoragon nodded, “Aye, sometimes we all go out together but I am usually busy working in the barn. It just depends on the amount of work I have to do that day. They are reliable and seem to enjoy getting paid to ride. I trust them with the horses too, but I will be looking for an assistant to help me with the other chores that need doing when I get busy.”  He knew that Fuin’s time in Minas Tirith would not be forever and sooner rather than later he would have to find someone to fill the position of stablemaster’s helper.

After a short while it was time to pick up the pace again and so they set off on another two-mile trot followed by a four-mile gallop. They were several miles out on the Pellenor when they finally turned around and rode back to the stables, alternating between trotting, galloping and walking the remaining mile to cool off the horses. Up ahead they could see the two boys leaving the barn with another set of horses. It was all in a days work for the boys, who also ran as messengers in the afternoon for certain businesses in the second circle marketplace.
 
When they arrived back at the barn Thoragon dismounted, pulling the reins over Brutus’ head, and looked over to Fuin. “Well, how was that for a ride Fuin? You are an excellent rider, though I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. If you want you can take out another if you wish for there are four more yet to go out. If not, the boys will see to it. For myself though, I think I will put this fella away and get to work on some of my metal projects ere lunchtime.” He said as he began to loosen the girth on the saddle. “I’m sure the forge is good and hot by now. You should come by later. I’m making something special I’d like you to see.”
 
He glanced over to the stable of horses that were now mostly seen to and content in their stalls. “After lunch all the hay and water will need to be checked and topped up if they are low. I will then pick through the stalls and see to a few horses that are in medical care, which will need to have their wounds cleaned, poultices checked and I dare say some are in need of re-bandaging. Would you like to help me with all that too?”
 
Once Thoragon removed Brutus’ saddle and bridle he brought out a few brushes from the tack room and groomed the stallion until his coat was polished to a shine. He then led him back to his stall and made sure he had hay and water. Once he was satisfied that his cousin’s horse was comfortable he stepped back out of the stall and walked over to check on his own horse, Loki, who either seemed pleased to be back in his own stall munching on hay or else devising up some crafty scheme to cause mischief. The horse definitely had a peculiar temperament.
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  Quote Fuin Elda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2014 at 12:15am
Stables

Fuin gave a nod, indeed it would take longer to clean all of the stalls with only one set of hand to do the work.  She did think for a moment to offer to stay, yet she knew in time wanderlust would find her even if she did have mind to stay in one place.  Imladris had once been her home as had many others though Imladris had been one of the few places she had been able to travel to and from without care of hour or request of liege or those that would tend to the safety of the gates for there were none in the Homely House.

"Until I go or you find one then, I suppose I shall have to make do."  She said with a smile,  before long they were back to galloping this one was a longer run and Sandy was more than happy to finish the run this time as she was a race horse not a war horse before they walked the remainder of the distance back to the stable.  She could see it with ease and noted the two horses that they were taking out.

"It was enjoyable, and you are an excellent rider as well but I can only say I expect that from a stable master.  I will let the boys ride, it is a good way to earn silver, a fun one compared to other tasks that they could be doing for work in a stable like mucking stalls or cleaning leather tack."  She said with a laugh.  "I'll start on taking some of the lame horses for their hour long walk, they need it as well."  Hopping down from Sandy's back and pulling the reigns over the mares head her neck was warm but no longer sweaty after the mile long walk. She led her into the stall and pulled the bridal off giving her another pat.  "Something special you say?  I"ll look forward to it."  With that she shut the stall door She headed to the tack room and put the bridal up "I"ve experience with dressing and tending wounds, not on horses but I'll help."  She said returning,  "Though I will probably check to see the wounds on some of the horses am looking to take out for their walks to make sure they aren't in too rough shape for an hour long walk if they've got bandages it's not like they can't tell me when they are hurting."  She said with a smile.  She took one of the brushes from Thoragon and began brushing the chestnut mare until she gleamed before giving her a pat and topping up her water and hay.

She headed to go get a lead to take out one of the lamed horses for their walk.  The one she stopped at had a slightly swollen ankle that they were favoring slightly.  She stopped before the stall and held her hand out to the horse, he came quickly and looked at the halter and lead.    "I'll come and check in at your forge when I'm done with this lovely boy, he seems excited to go for a nice walk."  She said slipping  the halter over his head and opening the door to his stall. he fell in line and she watched his gate and figured at long as it was a slow walk they would likely be able to manage being out for the better part of an hour.  She stopped though and slid her hand down his leg and ran her fingers over the ankle it wasn't warm which meant it was well on the way to healing she'd have to make sure he didn't decide to go for a trot today.  With that they headed out of the stable she would make sure they were never further than a few minute walk from the stable.
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