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Thread: Finger of God

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    Finger of God

    [Closed to Ashla]

    Cold drops of rain sizzled and popped as they fell onto my burning skin. They were heavy and thick, the tears of giants raining down in a baptismal font which washed the miles of road away and welcomed me back to the Citadel. I tightened my grip on my warscythe and stalked along my entry path. Moss and wet earth cushioned each of my heavy steps, the ground beneath me resisting being churned sodden by my weight. I didn’t question it, didn’t have to. The Ai’Brone monks, the Citadel’s keepers, had access to magic both powerful and mysterious. I’d seen firsthand the incredible realities which they could craft within the Citadel’s ancient walls. To them, a heavy rain and solid ground must be child’s play.

    How long has it been since the last time I was here? I wondered. So much had happened. So much time and distance that that this once familiar place almost seemed foreign to me. But the Ai’Brone had not forgotten. They had remembered the truth of this place, and my truth as well. No sooner had I stepped within the Citadel’s hallowed walls than had I found one of the Ai’Brone ushering me quickly to a prepared arena. The Finger of God they had called it. I could see why.

    A crooked tower rose from the darkness at the end of my path, stretching so far into the sky that it seemed to scratch at the very clouds themselves. I stopped for a moment as the immensity of the structure came full into view, allowing the sense of the thing to wash over me. And then I grinned, feeling my charred lips twist and crack away from sharpened teeth. This would make a good place to fight.

    While injuries sustained in the Citadel weren’t real, just another display of Ai’Brone magic, the feeling of hunting another warrior was just as natural as it was out in the real world. I closed my eyes to the Finger of God and let the memories come back to me. I could feel the delicate resistance of my blade cutting into my prey, the sweet release that the parting flesh made and how the warmth of their life poured out. A shudder of anticipation oozed up my spine and I savored it for one brief moment before choking it back into place. It wouldn’t do to allow my opponent to get the drop on me because I was dallying about in the rain.

    Enough time had passed that my opponent had to already be within the arena as well. Knowing that there was little room for error I whipped my warscythe behind me with a snap and ran the rest of the way down the path. In the driving rain my inhuman speed would make me little more than a blur as I ran, which would hopefully be enough to disorient anyone who’d happened to catch sight of me during my moment reverie. Though as I got closer the Finger of God and took stock of its sheer immensity I wondered if it mightn’t be better to just wait out in the open to be found. But I had never been one to take the easy way out.

    While the tower’s outer shell was a solid, if a little crooked, the inside was another story. Dim lights glowed from several of the hundreds of windows stamped into the walls. Given its size, the Finger of God must have been cross-crossed with miles of pathways and tunnels. It might take hours, or maybe days, to find a lone opponent within. But I’d never find them if I didn’t start somewhere. Picking a lighted window at random, one that was at least six or seven meters off the ground, I leaped up into it.

    I quickly looked around for the light source that had brightened this window only to find myself frowning and issuing a muttered curse. Instead of finding a torch or lamp that I could bring with me into the heart of the tower I found a glowing orb set deep into the room’s cobbled back wall. There was little else of note in the small chamber save for bits of crumbling stone and deep cracks which lined every surface. The Finger of God might be mighty and impressive from the outside, but the inside was rotten and decrepit.

    And then, as I was taking stock of the place, the room’s light orb winked out. One moment the room was filled with a soft golden light and the next it was filled with thick shadows and suffocating darkness. At the exact same moment, I noted, a golden light winked into existence in another far down the hallway that lay attached to the chamber’s sole door. It looked like I’d have to leapfrog my way from room to room until I found my opponent, following the trail of lights throughout the Finger.

    “Here we go,” I whispered to the dark room, my voice so low that it was drowned in the deluge of the downpour still raging outside the window. Nodding to myself, I tightened my grip on my warscythe and plunged headlong into the waiting darkness.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  2. #2
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    Ashla's Avatar

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    When one is easily uptight, quick to anger, and just plain in a cranky mood, it was easy for them to resolve to violence. It was one thing, one person who pushed her here. At this point, betrayal was a common occurrence in Ayleth's life. What was it though about this one, however, that had caused tears to fall from her mismatched eyes? It was her apprentice. She left so suddenly, unable to take the changes in Ayleth's personality. Why though? Was she not just doing what seemed for the best? Was she not doing these things for the sake of the world?

    Ayleth was doing the right things... right?

    None the less, sorrow grew into bitterness. Bitterness transformed into a deep anger. She needed to let it go. Unable to hold it back anymore, she stepped into the one place in Corone where it was legal to kill. It was the Citadel. The arena itself, which's name could mean less to Ayleth, was a tower. She was inside it, and the crumbled ruins seemed nothing new to someone who watched an entire country wither and die. The bland building, lacking of life, was so void and empty. The halfling herself could see it, she had been teleported inside by the monks, but outside the ancient tower was nothing short of magnificent, even in the pouring rain. It was actually a realistic image of how many people could be. Outside, how many people could be fine when inside... it was a storm.

    Ayleth's storm was a blizzard. The freezing winds, oh how they swirled so beautifully - only to cause so much damage. The winds would roar loud as a lion, causing all to wrap up inside for cover. As layer upon layer of white formed, those caught inside became trapped. Isolated. Numb. Ayleth was caught inside. What telling was there of when it would let her out. Or did Ayleth have to dig out herself? To become Ashla once more? What did it take for cloudy skies to turn back to blue, and for hills of snow to retreat once again?

    Ayleth just shrugged at the question.

    In this tower, Ayleth was in a small room amongst the higher floors. It was dusty, had turned over tables, and had massive cobwebs forming in the corners. This scenery, it reminded her of what she wished was not home, but was. A little known land called Eiskalt. It reminded her of the land of the elves, which to that day was overun with the undead. It was the home of her mother, who had died so young giving birth to her.

    But for what cause? Ayleth asked silently, Was I worth such a sacrifice?

    Then, sounds steadily grew. Random noises increasing as it got closer. A hint of a smile appeared on Ayleth's face - it was her opponent. She reached for the single sword located at her hip. She pulled it about an inch away from her sheath, the blue damascus blade coming into view. Her simple black shirt barely rippled, even with her steel chainmail beneath. Her black shorts were slightly wrinkled. Her boots, which had steel plates on them, reached up to her knees. The black, thin stockings that were beneath though ran to where they almost met her shorts. Ayleth slowly crept up to the walls, where the shadows roamed. She placed her sword in its sheath, reaching for her dagger, Deadpetal, instead. The knife was a beautiful steel, the carving of a rose engraved into the blade with masterwork quality. How many times was this grey blade turned red like roses with blood as well? She lay low, close the door, and went silent. She held her knife in a reversed grip, perfect for sneak attack assassinations, as she waited.

  3. #3
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    Finding my enemy was turning out to be even more difficult than I had imagined it would. It would have been hard enough if the Finger of God had just been a basic tower with a maze of rooms and corridors winding through it. I cursed the Ai’Brone monks as I leaped twenty feet from one floor to the next, my bone claws digging into the cracked stone railing above as I swung over it. I should have known that the monks wouldn’t give me a straightforward arena.

    I thought about calling out to my opponent, who doubtlessly was searching for me just as diligently as I was searching for them. I paused at the last moment, with the words humming right behind my teeth. Then I swallowed them back down. I wasn’t exactly a stealth target in here, what with the sullen glow and pounding footsteps. But if my enemy wasn’t searching for me, if they were lying in wait, then there was no sense in making a sneak attack any easier for them. Why should I have all the frustration here anyways?

    I padded along the new level, following the ebb and flow of the lighted rooms around throughout it. I knew that I had to be pretty high in the Finger by now, having ascended too many floors to keep track of. At least I had my restorative abilities to keep me from getting exhausted going up all these tower levels. I’d have hated to be a regular mortal fighting in this area. Something which I’m sure the Ai’Brone had taken into account.

    I flexed my claws with anticipation as I crept into this floor’s first room, casting a brief look from around as I did so. Soon, I told myself. I had a feeling that something would finally be happening soon.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  4. #4
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    Her opponent was in the room.

    In the darkness, she only saw what seemed to be a silhouette of her opponent. Even so, the tall and study man was tall and mighty. He had a scythe on him as a weapon. To most, this would be a scary image. To Ayleth though, the scythe's symbol, death, was a common part of life.

    Ayleth crept slowly, as to avoid making any noise. Nimble and agile, she did not trip or stumble over the crumbled rocks on the dust coated floor. This bland, broken room was about to come to life. Ayleth felt her blood flowing faster... The edge of Deadpetal was glazed over in crimson ice. The "watermelon effect" sounded fun and all... but this was no child friendly effect. This bacteria infested ice was so intoxicated, it was stained red. Capable of stinging, burning, itchiness, even skin decay, Ayleth's blood ice was certainly something one would not like to make skin contact with. Actually getting cut with it was even worse. Infections of various kinds could wreak havoc on the body. Not to mention headaches and hallucinations that could come up as much as five minutes after the cut. Like all ice too, blood ice of course led to frostbite.

    Okay, so maybe this stuff was fun... for Ayleth to watch. As her victims writhed in misery and pain. Yeah, lot's of fun!

    The icy warrior made her move. She vigilantly stalked her opponent, waiting for her moment. She usually did not sneak attack like this. An opportunistic fighter though, she accepted the challenge. The mud elf planned on nicking her opponent's neck (or face if the neck didn't work.) She didn't need to even cut him, just tap him with the icy blade and she would be satisfied enough. Ayleth though, shot high. A good cut was worth a shot. Her own silhouette was right behind her opponent's, like two puppets acting out a scene in a show. Ayleth smirked, confidence shining through as she, in an instance of enhanced speed, made the lunge.

  5. #5
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    Another one, I snarled to myself as I skimmed the broken furniture. Another damned empty room. I was beginning to wonder if the Ai’Brone had even sent another person into the arena with me, or were just letting me run around the tower like some Thayne’s damned fool. The rage was beginning to rise up within me, a red tide welling from the depths of my molten core to fill my veins with liquid fire. Sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit, my frustration gets the best of me. Frowning, I stabbed at a nearby chair with the blade of my warscythe.

    And that was when I caught a glimpse of an edgeless shadow creeping up behind me.

    I barely had time to register what I was seeing before the shadow moved. And when it moved, it moved fast. Inhumanly so. And on top of that, it was completely silent. If I hadn’t caught a lucky glimpse of the shadows that the light orb cast behind me, I wouldn’t have even noticed that someone else was in the room with me. Apparently the Ai’Brone had given me an opponent after all, and that opponent seemed to be quite proficient.

    While my mind floundered in processing the attack my body reacted without hesitation. Experience earned in a thousand battles driving me forward without thought. Muscle memory forged through hours of combat training drilling the proper reaction to any situation into me. It was time I knew had been well spent as the edge of the assassin’s blade slid across the back of my neck instead of thrusting into the flat of my throat.

    The blade was chill against my charred flesh, a chill that was deeper than mere cold steel. But cold wasn’t something to worry a creature with liquid fire running through its veins. And my thick charred flesh protected me from the worst of the knife’s edge. The cut it had made wasn’t terribly deep, and William’s restorative abilities were already resealing the wound. But for some reason the cut burned in a way completely different from my own fire.

    I lashed out behind me with my warscythe as I stumbled forward, the warped wood of the chair splintering under the trampling weight of my bone carapace. It was a blind, wild swing, but my own inhuman speed and strength meant that even a wild swing could be fatal. And with it, I let loose the full fury of my molten core, sweltering heat rolling off my in a wave. If the assassin kept pressing in close, I trusted my innate toughness and restorative capabilities to keep me alive long enough to make things very uncomfortable for them.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  6. #6
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    Ashla's Avatar

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    Ayleth didn't even react to her minor victory in her half-won strike. The blindly swung scythe was coming down fast. Agile as well as speedy, the half-elf rolled away from the massive pole arm as wood from smashed furniture flew around. While she dodged the warscythe, dust and splinters managed to find her. Ayleth's eyes watered from the irritation of the dust, and splinters embedded her upper legs and arms. To recover, ice started forming across her body - her icy healing. Her splinters began to heal. Ayleth's eyes were red like a faint, glazy blood moon.

    Only several feet away from her opponent, things only got worse. Heat. Severe heat. It was like she was close to erupting lava. No burns were being caused, so far it was only an annoyance. However, it was still enough to cause her to rather harshly back away. Unable to see her opponent clearly, she only saw his burning silhouette.

    An amused smile crossed her face, Ice versus fire? Classic.

    She had dropped her dagger somewhere within the last several moments all this happened. Still on her feet though, she drew her damascus hand-in-a-half sword, the Hailstorm's Daughter. Her posture was still sturdy, like a warrior. It maintained a level of elegance though, and showed she was intelligent as well as just plain good. Emotion driven and still young though, the tears falling down her face signified more than just how much dust got in her eyes. She took several deep breaths, recovering from the last several seconds. She still could not see clearly, and considered her missile options. Her handheld crosspistol, Parva, would be of little help with her current eyesight. Her abilities could be of use, but... not directly.

    For now, she needed to buy her own time. She would diplomatically use another sharp weapon: words.

    "Nice move," she approved her opponent, "Perhaps this would be a good time for introductions? My name is Ayleth."

    Her sentences were short, quick to the point. No matter what tactic she used, she did not "play with her food. Maybe even hearing his name would give her eyes enough time to adjust. Stupid dust... I hate this tower already.

  7. #7
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    My swing missed, as I thought it would, but striking my opponent down hadn’t been my real goal. What the swing had accomplished, and quite well to my estimation, was to drive her back. Her, I could see now. She was a young half-elf woman, dark of hair, and with a form which told of her experience in combat situations. Her skin was shiny, peppered with glittering jewels which caught the light from the glow orb, like shards of ice embedded in her skin. She’s also dropped her dagger and drawn her sword. A smart move when combating a weapon with a longer reach, I knew. Not that it’d do her much good against my warscythe.

    Despite my restorative abilities the burning in my neck was getting worse, not better. I reached up and felt the hot wetness of my blood, but the wound itself was nearly shut. So it wasn’t that. I caught a glimpse of some reddish crystal on the dagger at my feet, the one that the half-elf had dropped. The burning had to come from some form of poison then. And it must have been a potent one at that, if it was something strong enough to overcome my healing.

    That puts my on a timer, I grimaced. I had no doubt that my restorative abilities would eventually burn up whatever poison the assassin used, but the effects could incapacitate me long before it happened. And even if it didn’t, the growing pain could prove too distracting against an opponent as skilled as the half-elf appeared to be. As much as I enjoyed toying with my opponents when I could, it was in my best interest to end this fight quickly. I focused my mind on the thought as I flicked my pooled blood from my claws.

    The elf spoke as the blood splashed into the ruins of the furniture underneath my feet. Fire blazed as the molten liquid quickly ignited the dry, cracked splinters beneath me. I heard her words, but let them flow over me. It didn’t matter what she had to say. All that was left was the slaughter. I left my face split into a feral grin within the rising flames around me. And then I summoned my power and my hand flew towards my enemy, a magma shot hurtling from it with wicked speed.

    But I wasn’t going to leave this fight to a simple, if powerful, explosive bolt. As soon as the shot left my hands I was in motion, the full weight of my inhuman abilities propelling me forward with blinding speed. In my hand, echoes of green lightning crackled along the black stone length of my warscythe. I’d willed the lesser form of the blade’s deadly enchantment to life. Already a razor edge as light and strong as mythril, the blade would now effortlessly pass through shielding magic and steel as if they weren’t even there. The magma shot would explode as it approached the target and then I would hurtle through the resulting explosion, my own innate fiery nature protecting me from it, and would cleave through her with a single stroke.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  8. #8
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    The flicker of bright, burning substance burst forth. As it raced towards her, the teary eyed Icebreaker's sharp reflexes kicked in. Nope, he did not give her vision time to heal; although she did escape the explosion of molton rock - kind of.

    As the girl hit the dusty floor, she felt the combined rubble beneath her chest and the sharp pain of burning… splatters of lava had hit her back legs like rain. A hiss escaped her as the more than third degree mini burns scattered across her lower legs. The sound of rapid footsteps behind her caused explosions of adrenaline. As her ice based healing abilities covered her burns in numbing frost, she rolled onto her back and lifted her damascus sword to a war scythe crashing down on her.

    As the weapons clashed, an ear piercing scream of metal sounded. Eyes widening, the girl put her second hand on her sword's hilt as she reinforced her weaker blade with mini-layers of plynt strength ice. . . That scythe was made of mithril! It was breaking through. . .

    As lightning sparked from the enemy's blade, flashes of unnatural, magical light flashed across the room. As moments passed, the rooms barrier's revealed as a burgundy, moldy crumbling castle wall. Turned over bookshelves and broken tables briefly faded in and out of viewing range as the dust finally cleared from Ayleth's eyes. She saw his face. It was unknown, too twisted for nature. As lava naturally flowed across his charcoal face, his eyes glowed an unearthly yellow. Ayleth's eyes widened, she went pale when she realized she had met this man somewhere. Where, however? At this point he was a familiar stranger attempting to fry her. Not with fire, but with lava and lightning. On the filthy tower of empty ruin, her pounding heart reinforced what she did in fact know. She needed distance.

    That blade, that blade that still sunk into the ice that bridged her half broken blade together was sparkling with electricity. Considering that her ice was frozen water, the lightning was naturally attracted to it. The lightning dug into the ice like roots. Small zaps would sting her face with miniature claws for several seconds at a time. Face squinting in pain, she tried to throw her aggressor off from beneath his feet. Literally.

    Tapping her plated, sweating foot, which was several inches from his, ice silently slithered beneath his shoes. As the lightning continued to static about, the slippery blue coating of smooth ice was briefly visible to any who looked below. Sweating and burning, Ayleth growled at the heat master, "Ow. . . That stings. . ."

    Her face squinted even more than it already was. A mass of ice swiftly reached up from the dirt covered floor. Ayleth hoped it would push him off balance. The ice beneath his feet would cause him to slip as he tried to regain a steady footing. If this worked, which she honestly doubted, it would give her time to retreat; to bolt towards the doorway.
    Last edited by Ashla; 09-17-2017 at 09:53 PM.

  9. #9
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    The hammering of my heart in my ears nearly drowned out the tremendous crash of the magma shot’s explosion. Nearly. Blinded by the flash and unable to hear anything I could only hope that my warscythe struck true. I expected to feel either the pressure that signified my striking true or the complete lack of resistance that would signify a missed target. What I didn’t expect was for my blade to slam to a complete stop the moment the electrical enchantment discharged.

    Holding back was a good way to get yourself killed and I knew this, so I’d put every ounce of strength that I could muster into my swing. When it stopped dead in the middle of its arc I was floored. All thoughts of the conflagration surging around me and the spreading itch in my back were washed away with the disbelief that had crashed over my awareness. When activated, the enchantment on the warscythe allowed it to cut through steel and spell alike with the same ease its razor edge had parting flesh from bone. True the effect was limited to a single swipe of the blade each time, but even so it had never failed me. Not until now. How had this waifish little sneak managed to overcome my brutal strength and powerful magic? The afterglow of my explosive attack faded from my vision and I would have been less surprised to see a dragon in the assassin’s place than I was to see the truth.

    Ice mage, were the only words that registered in my addled mind. Glistening spots shone in icy patched on the woman’s skin where the magma shot had actually managed to reach her. But even those spots were few in number, a testament to her defensive capabilities with her chosen element. That alone would have earned her my respect, but what absolutely floored me was the sight of her outstretched sword, which had been cleaved in two only to seemingly have been repaired by ice the instant my scythe had bisected it. That same ice was what had trapped my weapon, holding it fast against her repair job. She’d reacted perfectly, timing her counter to the instant my enchantment discharged. It was an amazing display of skill to a degree that I’d only ever seen one or two individuals possess.

    No wonder the Ai’Brone had paired us against each other.

    I recovered quickly, pushing my admiration for the woman’s talent aside. I could express my appreciation for her talents should we ever meet outside the Citadel, but in here we were still mortal opponents. Until then I had to think of her as nothing more than incredibly dangerous prey.

    The floor lurched under me as a mass of ice thrust up under my feet. I reeled backwards, trying to get away from the simple attack and yet unwilling to lose grip on my warscythe. Dangerously off-balance, I did the only thing I could think of and clamped down on the ice as strongly as I could. Three long seconds passed as I hung backwards supported by the grip of my clawed feet and my death grip on the smooth haft of my weapon. Then my weapon tore free from the ice with a snap at the same moment the ice block beneath me splintered under the stress of anchoring me.

    I could only glare as the assassin as I fell backwards into the inferno that was blazing to life where my magma had lit the garbage in the room.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  10. #10
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    Ashla's Avatar

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    Finally. Distance.

    At the door, she was in a poor shape. Her sweat beaded hair was hung over her face as she slightly hunkered over. Breathing heavily, she clenched her sword in a half-sword grip. One hand safely clenched the blade with the other held the hilt. The weekend ice crunched and withered, her sword finally broke in two as the entire room started to go up in smoke. As the rich, orange fire caused light to burst as a backdrop for her opponent, she was once again taken aback by his face. That face. . . Was so familiar. . .

    The image of a broken clock tower, burning acres, and a flaming man embracing the fire crossed her mind. The hysterical laughter towards a young girl's stupidity, the way his hellish smile and brimstone words ridiculed the younger teen.

    "Run home, girl. If you wish to leave, the chamber will take you out and hopefully give me a worthier challenge.”

    Her eyes widened. As sweat coated her body, her blue eye became coated with ice. "You…"

    The fire hit the legs of a still standing table, causing the entire piece of furniture to fall and cause a burst of extra flame. Smoke flooded the room, coating her view of him and rotting the air with fumes. With heatwave after heatwave slamming her face, she held the broken blade shard in the historically taught throwing position. Holding it by the flat, she threw the sharp damascus at his general direction. Clenching the hilt of her half broken sword, she turned to run. This room was on fire, undesirably energy draining, and now. . now she had emotions slamming her with as much intensity as the burning sensation of even distant fire.

    Ayleth thought she was darned by the monks for all this. She, Ashla, came here to relieve stress, not develop even more!

    "Run home, girl. . ."

    She needed to clear her head, get back in the game. With her main weapon broken, her puny crossbow pistol being able to do nothing, and her dagger pretty useless as well, she was at a severe disadvantage. She could freeze many liquids, but still could not cool lava. Lightning was attracted to any kind of H2O, he already made her stinging, freezer burnt legs shake in pain. . .

    He still outclassed her, Ashla, in every area.

    She needed to run. Hide. Figure out her next move in another room.

    She hoped he would not follow her.
    Last edited by Ashla; 09-17-2017 at 09:58 PM.

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