The King and Her Queen
Chapter 3: The Awakening
Shiro parted the tangled branches and entered the thicket. Rin
was hugging her knees and was resting her head on them. He
noticed that she had changed out of her damp clothes and into medieval
clothing. She wore a reddish brown open-fronted gown which laced
closed across a white kirtle.
He nudged her shoulder. "Hey, I'm back."
Rin did not answer, so he shook her shoulder slightly. Suddenly,
she scrambled away and pointed her index finger. He backed away
from her line of fire. "Rin! It's just me!"
Her eyes focused on him and she lowered her hand. "Oh,
sorry." She dusted her clothes and stood up slowly. "How'd
"Ok... I guess..." Shiro went over to the boiling pan and sampled
the brown liquid with the ladle.
"You guess...? Did something happen?"
"Well... I didn't expect her to cry. I thought that she'd be
happy that Saber was gonna get cured."
Rin thought for a moment. "Yeah... that is strange... Do
you think she suspects that something's wrong?"
Shiro stirred the liquid idly. "Don't know... I couldn't
tell. But she seemed convinced about the Lady of the Lake."
"Hmmm..." Rin rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "Oh well...
what's done is done. How's the antidote?"
"It's ready." He took out two cups from his pack. He poured
a third of the liquid in one cup and the rest in the next. He
handed the cup with less liquid to Rin. "Sip this over the next
hour. Don't drink it all at once."
She took the cup and blew on the liquid to cool it down. Then she
took a sip. "Gaaahhh... it's really bitter..." Rin took out
a bottle of water from her pack and drank enough to wash away the
Meanwhile, Shiro cooled some liquid on the ladle and tried to put the
liquid into Saber's mouth. The liquid spilled over the corner of
her mouth. He attempted a few more times before turning to
Rin. "Rin... she's not swallowing it."
"Here, let me try." Rin knelt next to Saber and took the
ladle. She did not have much success either.
"Oh, great... looks like one of us would have to give it to her
orally." said Rin with an exasperated tone.
"Orally... as in...?" He pointed to his mouth.
Rin nodded. "If you have a better idea, I'm listening."
Shiro hung his head. "No, not really."
They sat there for a few moments in silence. Finally, Rin
spoke. "Go ahead and give it to her. You like her, don't
Shiro blushed and protested, "I can't do that... She might not like it."
"Oh? And why should I be any different?"
"Because... because..." Shiro turned away slightly. "She
may not mind if another girl kissed her."
Rin was taken aback and her jaw dropped. She moved her mouth but
no words came out. When she composed herself, she said slowly,
"Why do you think so?"
Shiro swallowed and told her about what Bedivere did after she put
Saber on the boat. Rin's eyes widened and her hand involuntarily
covered her mouth. All sorts of scenarios were running amuck in
her mind. She forced her inner self to gather those images and
lock them in a closet.
She looked at Shiro coolly. "So, you want me to give it to her?"
"No... I mean... yes..." Shiro covered his face with his hands in
Rin took the ladle. "Tell you what... we'll take turns. As
long as she doesn't wake up, it's fine right? I won't tell if you
Shiro nodded dumbly. Rin bent over and used her hand to prop
Saber's head up. Then she quickly slurped the liquid and pressed
her mouth against Saber's.
On contact, a jolt tickled her spine and her body shuddered for a brief
instant. Surprised at her own reaction, she stayed still for a
second. Then, remembering her task, she parted Saber's lips with
her tongue and delivered the liquid into her mouth. She
maintained her position until she felt Saber swallow the liquid.
Rin drew away and laid Saber's head gently on the pillow. Her
face and body felt warm. She kept her head low and handed the
ladle to Shiro. "You're up." She took her own cup and
Rin continued to ponder why she reacted that way until she
absentmindedly sipped the liquid in her cup. She fought to
control her gag reflex and forced herself to swallow. She turned
around towards Shiro. "Can't you do something about the taste?"
Shiro wiped Saber's mouth with a piece of tissue. "Grynberg says
that the best medicine is best taken in its purest form. So... do
you want to get well or not?"
Rin muttered darkly under her breath. She surveyed their meager
hideout. "I think we should try to find a better place for
Saber's recovery. I don't mind the great outdoors, but I won't
prescribe it for someone with grave injuries. Maybe one of us
should go look around for a nearby town. What do you think?"
Shiro nodded and stood up. "Sounds like a good idea. I'll
go. You gotta get some rest too." He paused before the exit
of the thicket. "Hey, you wouldn't happen to have medieval money,
Rin's face fell. "Darn it! I knew I forgot something.
We should've shaken down Bedivere for some."
"Just kidding!" joked Rin, holding up her hand. "But you
know what, maybe you could shake down someone else..."
Shiro stared at Rin for a bit before her implied meaning hit him.
"That's gross, Rin! I'm not touching any corpses."
"Yeah... it is, isn't it?" laughed Rin nervously. "We'll
figure something out. Anyway, come back with good news."
"Yup, I will." With that, Shiro headed out.
Rin sat next to Saber and prepared to administer the antidote for Saber
and herself. As she repeated the procedure over the next two
hours, she kept wondering why she was reacting so unusually.
"It's probably just a side effect of the spell." she
reasoned. She felt a little tired, so she put the cup down and
laid down on the ground next to Saber with her pack as a pillow.
She closed her eyes and tried to meditate.
She slowly opened her eyes to see Shiro looking down on her.
"So how's sleeping beauty?" said Shiro with a teasing tone.
Rin managed a drowsy grin. "Fine..." She yawned.
"Drat... I must've dozed off." She sat up slowly. "So...
what've you found?"
"There's a village about three miles away and another about five miles
"That's a bit far."
"Don't worry. I found some horses."
"You did?! Where did you find them?"
"They were wandering around. My guess is that they belonged to
some knight who probably won't need it anymore."
Rin felt a stab of pity and remembered that bloody field. "A
shame..." She looked up to Shiro. "How many horses do you
"Three, one for each of us."
"Hmmm... at the moment, I don't think Saber could ride. One of us
will have to ride with her. Do you think you can handle
that? I think I'm still a little stiff."
"Yeah. That I can do." Shiro grinned heartily and was glad
that he could be of help.
"Is there a place we can stay in the next village?"
"Yes, it has an inn. It's 50 coppers a night."
"Let's check it out. We can sell one of the horses to get a bit
Shiro showed Rin the horses. They examined the equipment on the
horses and decided what to keep and what to sell. They return to
the thicket and put a cloak on Saber to keep her warm. Then they
packed up the campsite and headed for the next village. At the
market, they managed to sell a horse and some equipment after a bit of
difficulty with deciphering the local accent. After buying some
food, they got a room at the inn and stabled their horses.
Shiro checked Saber's condition. "She's doing better now.
But I think she still needs more antidote. I'll go make some
"Ok..." said Rin, who was already reclining on one of the straw
beds. She yawned. "Be back before dinner."
"Of course." replied Shiro. He gathered some cooking
utensils and went out.
That evening was uneventful and so were the next two days. When
they were not caring for Saber, they spent their time exploring the
village and the surrounding area. News of the great battle and
the disappearance of King Arthur had reached the village. The
reactions of the townspeople varied from great sorrow to
indifference. Both Rin and Shiro were stunned that the people did
not love the king as much as they thought. In fact, some people
seemed to favor Mordred's rebellion.
Then on the afternoon of the third day, as Shiro and Rin were
constructing a map of the surrounding area, there was a soft rustle
from Saber's bed. Shiro and Rin turned towards the sound at the
same time and were elated to see Saber staring at them. Both of
them rushed to the bedside.
"Saber! Thank goodness, you're awake." said Rin.
"How are you feeling?" asked Shiro.
Saber's mouth opened and closed a few times before she spoke softly,
"Who art thou? Whither am I?"
Rin and Shiro glanced at each other. It was too much to hope that
Saber would know them. Rin was the first to reply. "Uh, I
am known as Rhynne and he is known as Syrowe. Thou art in a small
Saber shifted in bed and brought out a bandaged arm from under the bed
sheets. "Why is it, that e'en so forwounded am I, that mine mind
lacks memory of how I am wrought thus?"
Rin arched her eyebrows in surprise while Shiro dropped his jaw a
bit. Rin cleared her throat. "Thou wert wounded in battle
over yonder hills. We hath found thee in grievous hurt and hath
tended to thy wounds."
"I thank thee. When I am fit, I shall find a way to acquit thy
kindness." Saber's face grew pensive. "But still... mine
mind remain veileth, for I remember not such past battle. Truly
told, I remember not a great many things."
"Dost thou remember thy name?" asked Shiro haltingly. At a
moment like this, he regretted not having enough time to practice
medieval English at the Academy.
Saber smiled. "Arturia... at least, that I knowst to be true."
Rin clasped her hands with glee. "That is well, Lady
Arturia. Tis a good omen of thy healing."
Arturia studied Rin for a moment. "Dost thou knowst me?
Thou firstly spake to me with such familiar cheer."
A drop of sweat trickled down Rin's forehead. "Pardon mine
speech, milady. As a physic, I assume such manner to lift the
spirit of mine patient. I believeth that cheer doth stave away
Arturia let out a small chuckle. "Then blessed am I to have thee
attend me. Know that thy cheer liveneth mine spirit, though mine
limbs refuseth yet to yield to mine bidding."
At these words, Rin's lips drew into a smile.
"Pray tell, Lady Rhynne, how long must I abide till I can rise on mine
own strength? And e'en more so, how wilt mine memory fare?"
"Thou bore grave wounds upon thy person, and thy blood floweth forth in
great quantity. In many a patient likened to thee, some regained
their self o'er a fourtenight. But some remaineth abed and their
past forgotten. I truly hope that providence will grant thee a
boon and thou will overcome this trial."
Arturia nodded. "Then I shall await thy counsel." Her eyes
softened. "Once again, I am in thy debt. Know that mine
gratitude knoweth no bounds."
"Then my first advice to thee is thus. That thou shall consume
food when thou hunger and thou shall rest otherwise."
"I shall follow thy counsel. Please allow me to partake a meal
"And that you shall." Rin stood up and walked toward the
door. "In honor of thy waking, I shall request a feast fit for a
king." Rin beamed Arturia her most charming smile.
With the word 'king', Shiro stifled a chuckle.
"Please await mine return." She opened the door and left.
This time Shiro felt Arturia's gaze upon him and turned to meet
Arturia's eyes. After a few moments, Shiro felt his cheeks flush
and he glanced away with a bit of embarrassment.
"Dost thou knowst me, goodman Syrowe?"
Shiro wasn't sure what to say. After a moment, he decided to
follow Rin's example. "Tis such as my companion hath said.
I only wished to greet thee with cheer." He walked over to the
table and began to move it over to Arturia's bed. "I shall
prepare this table for our meal."
"Thou seemst not accustomed to thy speech. Whither dost thou hail
Shiro remembered Bedivere's reaction and swallowed. He had to be
careful. "From a land far, far away. It is called Nihon."
"Nee-hun? Then thy land must be far, for I hath not heard of such
"Tis far, indeed." Shiro began to roll up the crude map on the
"What, perchance, might that be?"
"Tis a map of the village and the fields nearby."
Arturia noted the quill and the inkbottle. "For what purpose dost
thou construct this map?"
Shiro tried to do some fast thinking. "Er... um... we art
travelers. We construct a map so that we would remember this
village just in case we pass this way again."
Arturia was silent for a bit and then nodded. "That is
prudent." She shifted to lie on her side. "Pray, tell me,
of the lands that thou hast seen."
Shiro scanned his memory for all the touristy places that he had been
to and their medieval counterpart. He did not want to pick a
place that might cause a belligerent reaction from Arturia. After
some consideration, he settled on Greece. "There is a land beyond
the southern ocean and west of the Aegean Sea. It is called
Shiro continued to tell Arturia about the landscape of Greece and its
culture until Rin entered carrying a tray of food. One of the
inn's maids was behind her and was also carrying a tray of food.
Shiro went and took the tray from the maid who blushed when their hands
touched near the tray handles. When the maid left, they put a
bowl of soup and some bread within Arturia's reach. Rin took a
pillow from her bed and helped Arturia prop herself up.
By habit, Shiro clasped his hands together and was about to say
"Itadakimasu", but was interrupted by Arturia's soft prayer for the
meal. After the prayer, they enjoyed a pleasant meal together
while Shiro continued his description of Greece.
After the meal, they talked for a bit about other lands.
Eventually, Arturia yawned.
"Methinks, I shall heed thy counsel and rest."
Rin nodded and helped Arturia lie down. Then she gestured to the
bell-pull near Arturia's bed. "Should thou require anything, thou
needst only pull yonder rope. We shall be with thee anon."
"Mine thanks. And good night." said Arturia and closed her
Rin took Shiro's hand and together they left the room. She turned
to Shiro and whispered in Japanese. "We shouldn't tell her that
she's the king. Did you mention anything like that when I was
"No, I was worried about it too. She's supposed to be in Avalon,
right? Just like the legends say."
Rin nodded. "We were in luck that she has amnesia. But I
don't know how long that would last. If she regains her memory,
I'm not sure if I can stop her if she decides to go back to Camelot."
Shiro paced a bit. "I heard in town today that the lords are
meeting to talk about choosing the next king if King Arthur isn't found
within a week." Shiro thumped his fist into his palm. "Oh
yeah! While I was gathering some herbs outside of town this
morning, I saw a bunch of guys on horseback."
"Which way were they headed?"
Shiro closed his eyes and tried to remember. "I think they were
headed toward the battlefield."
"Hmmm... I think it's too late to look for survivors... they may be
looking for something else."
"If they're looking for Arturia, they'll search the battlefield."
"Or... if Bedivere told them about the lake, they'll search there too."
"Do you think they'll look here?"
Rin rubbed her temples and thought for a bit. "I doubt it... but
we're so close to the battlefield. If they're not looking for
Arturia, they may be looking for other survivors. I think we
should leave as soon as possible."
Shiro nodded and then crossed his arms. "Yeah, we should leave...
but Rin... what are we supposed to do in the long run?"
Rin froze. Of course, if Arturia was supposed to be gone, how
long could they maintain their secret? Rin bit her lip.
"I... I don't know... at the moment, I just wanted her to get
well. Ask me again in the morning."
Shiro sighed and uncrossed his arms. "Yeah, I wanted to save her
too. But now..." He ran his fingers through his hair.
"I'm not sure what we should do." He smiled ruefully. "It's
been a long day. Let's get some rest."
Rin agreed and they went back into the room and went to bed.
Rin and Shiro woke up early and had a small breakfast of bread, cheese
and tea in the common room downstairs. After breakfast, Rin began
packing while Shiro went to the market to get supplies. While she
was packing, she heard a rustle from Arturia's bed. She stood up
"Good morning." said Arturia softly.
"Good morning." replied Rin as she made her way to Arturia's
bed. "How art thou?"
"Mine slumber was deep and mine spirit refreshed."
"Tis well." Rin paused. Now that Arturia was awake, Rin
felt a bit uneasy about changing her bandages. For some reason,
she felt more self-conscious. She took a deep breath. "Thy
bandages must be redressed."
Arturia merely nodded. "If that needs be so, then I am ready."
"Abide here for a moment. I shall ready mine self."
Rin took out some soft cloth and a roll of bandages from her
pack. Then she fetched some warm water in a basin. When she
entered the room, she was surprised to notice that Arturia had pulled
aside the bed sheets and had unbuttoned her gown which exposed her
upper torso and her trewes. Rin paused for a moment by the door
as her mesmerized eyes wandered over the length of her body.
Internally, she shook herself, and laid the basin on the table next to
the bed. She poured a bit of sanitizing alcohol into the warm
Rin sat on the bed and cleared her throat. "I will remove thy
bandages from thy... chest. After that, I wilt lift thee to mine
self to unroll thy bandage from behind. Art thou ready?"
"I beg thy pardon." Rin leaned forward and undid the bandage over
Arturia's chest. Rin's hands made their way behind Arturia's
shoulder blades and back.
Arturia lifted her arms and put her hands around Rin's neck.
Rin's eyes grew wide at the contact and her skin broke out in
goosebumps. She drew a deep breath and lifted Arturia off the
bed. She sat up straight and leaned Arturia against her upper
body. Arturia shifted her arms to go around Rin's neck and rested
her chin on Rin's shoulder.
Rin had changed Arturia's bandages in the past, but Arturia was
unconscious during those times. Changing her bandages was a
practiced procedure and this occasion should be no different.
But today marked the first time she would change her bandages while she
was awake. For some reason, Rin found it hard to
concentrate. On her own volition, Arturia had wrapped her in this
peculiar embrace. The unexpected action caused a bit of confusion
in Rin. However, a part of her interpreted the action as proof of
Arturia's trust. Thinking about it left a warm glow within her.
Still, she had to concentrate and do her job. Rin took a deep
breath and focused on her task. She carefully peeled the bandages
starting from Arturia's chest and around her back in a
counter-clockwise motion. She also peeled off the bandages around
her left shoulder. Finally, she removed the bandages around her
waist. She picked up a soft cloth and dipped it in the warm water
in the basin.
"I shall now cleanse thy skin with this cloth. The cloth boreth
some tonic, so thou might feel its sting. But be at ease, the
tonic wilt improve thy healing."
Arturia's voice whispered softly near her ear. "Please proceed."
Rin slipped her hand between herself and Arturia. Since she could
not see a part of Arturia's front torso, she relied on the tips of her
fingers to guide her hand. Just underneath the folds of the
cloth, she could feel those sinewy muscles born out of wearing
armor. Rin closed her eyes to help herself
concentrate. Tracing the contour of her body, she gently
wiped across her chest twice, just over her breasts. Then she
moved down just underneath her breasts and across to the other side.
When she identified scarred skin, she slowly wiped around it. But
sometimes, whenever she passed near the scarred skin, she felt
Arturia's arms tense up around her neck for a brief moment. Other
than that, Arturia made no other reaction.
She rinsed the cloth and wiped Arturia's sides and upper arms. By
now, Rin's confusion was replaced by a sense of serenity as relied on
touch alone to sense the contour of Arturia's body.
She rinsed the cloth again and reached around Arturia to wipe her
back. As she was wiping her back, Arturia leaned a bit closer to
her and her breasts pressed against Rin. Rin's cheeks flushed
when she felt its warm softness through the thin fabric of her summer
tunic. The sense of serenity was quickly supplanted by the
increasing beat of her heart. Goosebumps were spreading all over
"This fragrance about thee... reminds me of camellia." said
Arturia, her breath tickling her earlobe.
Rin paused for a moment and wondered why Arturia said that when there
were no flowers nearby and she wore no perfume. Then, with
practiced discipline, Rin resumed her task. She rinsed the cloth
from time to time until she finished wiping Arturia's back. As
she was reaching for the clean bandages, she lost her balance and fell
with Arturia onto the bed. Arturia let out a small gasp.
"Ah! I'm sorry!" said Rin into the pillow.
Arturia put her hands on her shoulders and pushed her up
slightly. Her face wrinkled to a slight grimace of pain.
At that moment, there was a rushing of wind and the sound of heavy
footsteps on the floor. A hand gripped Rin's shoulder tightly and
lifted her off Arturia. Then, like a rag doll, she was tossed
against the wall where she hung as if she were a fly stuck on a
web. Rin's vision exploded in stars as her head hit the wall and
air was driven out of her lungs by the force of the impact. When
she finally managed to focus her vision, she saw a tall figure clad in
a dark brown cloak with a large hood. Frizzled gray hair spilled
out from the hood. A wrinkled hand with long thin fingers which
ended with yellowed long nails slipped out from the billowy sleeves to
touch Arturia's cheek. The very image screamed evil magician in
Rin's mind. Her face paled and she trembled in fear.
That wrinkled hand moved down to Arturia's throat and then to her
breast. Arturia's lips moved, but Rin could not hear
anything. The hand pressed against the breast and Arturia
appeared to gasp in response. Then the hand moved to slide across
her stomach and down to her abdomen.
A dam of rage broke inside Rin, washing over her fear. She
gathered her will. "A binding spell... counter..." thought
Rin as she wove her fingers to cancel the spell. "Curse him...
CURSE HIM! How DARE he!" Her right arm broke free and she
leveled her pointing finger at the dark figure. She directed all
her mana at the tip of her finger. "GANDR FYRE!" she screamed the
curse with all her will.
A dense amount of black energy erupted from the tip of her finger and
sped toward the magician. The magician looked up and held up a
hand as if to block the energy. The dark energy hit the hand and
splattered like paint hitting a wall. The force of the impact
caused the magician to fly backwards and to be pushed up against the
opposite wall. The dark energy continued to push against an
invisible barrier. Behind the barrier, Rin could see the magician
gesturing frantically. A circle of bright light appeared behind
the barrier and the magician sidestepped swiftly to the left. To
Rin's great chagrin, the curse broke through the barrier and sped into
the circle of light which closed in upon it and dissipated, leaving
only a shower of white sparks.
Rin shook herself free of the remnants of the binding spell and wove
her hands to cast another attack. Meanwhile, the magician had
leveled a glowing staff in her direction while those long fingers drew
glowing glyphs in the air.
"This is bad... he's got an artifact..." thought Rin as she wove
a defensive spell with her other hand. She stopped for an instant
when Arturia's outstretched hand blocked her vision. Arturia
seemed to be saying something to the magician. The magician
lowered the staff and dismissed the glyphs with a wave of his hand.
Arturia turned to Rin and spoke clearly. "Be at ease, Lady
Rhynne. Tis my old friend, Merlyn."
Rin blinked. Her thoughts were a jumble. "Merlin...?
Wait... it can't be... is it really? That this is the real
Merlin?" An image of the distinguished old man flashed in her
mind and her excitement of meeting the real Merlin rose.
The magician drew the hood back and Rin gasped in surprise as
voluminous tresses cascaded down as they were freed from the hood's
confinement. A wizened face that could have belonged to
somebody's doting grandmother greeted her with a tight smile. But
her eyes trapped Rin in their gaze. Those golden eyes studied her
with trite amusement.
"Ye surprised me, girl. I almost dinna catch that." said Merlyn
dryly. "Mine apologies fer roughin' ye up. I thought ye
were tryin' to have yer way with Arturia."
Rin's shock at Merlyn's gender gave way to her anger. "Me?
Have mine way? Doth thine eyes doubt mine womanhood?"
"I dinna doubt it." replied Merlyn calmly.
"She's not like that, Merlyn." explained Arturia. "She was
dressing mine bandages."
"She dinna look it when I found ye."
"Ye art mistaken. She hath fallen upon me unwittingly."
"Oh? An' I suppose those moments when Guinevere fell upon ye wert
"Guinevere?" asked Arturia slowly. "Who do ye speak of?"
Warning bells rang in Rin's mind. "Ah! She must be thy
friend." said Rin as she quickly made her way to Merlyn's
side. "Pardon us for a moment." She grabbed Merlyn's arm
and with surprising strength, pulled her out of the room and into the
Merlyn let out a small yelp as she was tugged out of the room.
Rin quickly closed the door behind her. She drew a circle above
them and chanted "Silentium."
Merlyn looked up and her eyebrows arched up in recognition of the
spell. She turned her gaze on Rin. "Ye have somethin' to
tell me, lass?"
Rin bowed her head slightly, and looked off to the side. "Well...
yea... but I am unsure of how to commence mine tale."
Merlyn studied her for a moment. "How did ye meet Arturia?
Ye can use common. I've no need fer high speech."
Rin felt a bit at ease and reverted her speech pattern to match
Merlyn's as she told her how Shiro and her found Arturia in the
forest. She told her that she bandaged her wounds but did not
mention using any spells in the process. She also left out the
part about Shiro's enchantment on Bedivere.
Merlyn listened patiently. Her eyes never left hers even though
she had finished her tale. They stood there staring at each other
for few seconds. Then, with a blur, Rin found herself pushed up
against the wall with Merlyn's hand over her forehead.
"Ye lie, girl." accused Merlyn.
Rin screamed as a vast pressure swelled in her mind. She felt
like she was falling in a great abyss as memories of the last few days
flowed like a stream past her. Images of the summer sped past,
followed by her last year at the academy. Then, she caught a
glimpse of her favorite professor, Arase. His words pierced her
mind, "Give in, then it's all over."
"That's right! I have to fight this!" Rin gathered her will
and obliterated the images flying past. Then she raised her head
high and pulled the mana stored in her earrings, bracelet and
amulet. She expelled it all with a great outward thrust into the
pressure around her.
When the sensation of gravity returned to her body, she heard loud thud
across from where she stood. Her eyes fluttered open as she sank
down to her knees in exhaustion. On the opposite wall, Merlyn sat
against it with a blank look in her eyes and blood trickling down her
"Oh great..." muttered Rin as she stood up unsteadily and leaned
against the wall. She walked as if in a trance. "Now we
really have to leave... soon..." She opened the door to the room,
walked in and closed it quickly.
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