“So, who won?”
“I think he said Squad S?”
“You could hear over that roar?”
“Wait, who’s that standing on the hill?”
Many questions were coming from the audience as the monitors had shut off once more as Tuvira activated Version 2 of her pact weapon. Not much could even be heard over the static and storm that followed Typhon’s emergence. However, their questions were answered once the monitors were restored. There, standing on the hilltop alone, her uniform ripped, body covered in cuts and bruises with her obsidian sword held up high, was the Princess of Fire, Lissandra Starlight.
“Squad T’s Leader: Tuvira Moonstar has been eliminated and returned to Drakos.”
“Squad S’s Vanguard: Ash Spitfire has been eliminated and returned to Drakos.”
“Squad S’s Leader: Lissandra Starlight has taken control of the Hill.”
“Squad S’s Leader: Lissandra Starlight is the new Queen of the Hill.”
“The Attackers Win!”
The announcements back in full swing repeated the last 5 seconds of the match, and though the audience was still confused, all it took was one person’s outburst—
“Yes! Yes! YES! We did it! They did it! Little Lizzie won!”
Dr. Torchedgaze, usually quiet and to himself, screamed to the stars about the victory giving out a flaming roar that filled the sky. Now something could have been said about the fact that the Cardinal was clearly picking sides or the fact that he called the princess Little Lizzie, but no attention was given to either as the crowd roared in conjunction.
“And there you have it, folks!” Dr.Windchaser said as he too recovered from the shocking revelation thanks to Dr. Torchedgaze. “The winner of the grudge match between Squad S and T ends in a narrow victory for Squad S!”
Lissandra stood there in silence as she received the cheers and adoration of many. Honestly, she couldn’t move or cheer with them even if she tried due to the sheer strain on her body, yet she could still move her eyes. In the direction of the Royal Floor, a seat was still empty, as she expected, but that didn’t stop the bright smile that shined on her face. As the realization that she had won her first Squad battle and not just that, she had finally beaten Tuvira. And it was all thanks to—
Lissandra blinked, and she was no longer on top of the hill, nor did she have Ignis in her hands; instead, she was in the Arena’s changing room being tackled by Alexis.
“Liz you fucking did it!” Alexis said, rubbing her face against Lissandra’s as they were both back to peak condition.
“Yeah, congratulations.” Baron nodded, but even he couldn’t hide the smile on his face.
“You and Ash were amazing!” Scott said with stars in his eyes.
Lissandra stared at her friends and then gave Alexis the hug she was clearly aiming for. “Honestly, I should be saying that to all of you. I couldn’t ask for a better team, let alone friends. We really pulled it off even with us scattered about.”
Lissandra laughed as the rest joined in under the realization that their teamwork needed actual work. Though it was probably for the best, they didn’t work together in their first fight since Squad T’s synergy was well above their own. So much so that even now they were missing someone.
“So Scott, where did Ash go this time?”
“Well…” Scott scratched his cheek.
“Wait, did you just call him Ash?” Alexis, Baron, and Scott all questioned at the same time.
“I-I’ve done it before. Why is everyone surprised?”
“Yeah but never with a smile on your face,” Alexis said with a knowing smirk. “You know Liz your heartbeat kind of jumped up a notch too.”
Lissandra shoved Alexis off her. “Of coursse it did. Our Vanguard iss misssing. Hiss halfbreed body may not have been able to handle the domain asss well asss oursss.”
“Still doesn’t explain why the room feels like a sauna right now.” Alexis teased until she got chopped on the head by Baron.
“Enough of that. He went out to go check on Tuvira.”
“Oh… I should’ve guessed as much.”
“I’m sure it’s just because she was so close to winning and lost. Don’t worry. Ash won’t leave us.” Scott said, trying to reassure Lissandra, who wasn’t too worried about Ash leaving the team. She knew he’d never leave them.
“Well then, let’s go get him.” Lissandra declared before she headed out of the changing room with the rest of Squad S in tow.
The moment Ash Spitfire could see again, he took note that Squad S had won with Lissandra still out on the field. Scott, Baron, and Alexis each had their words to say to him for the victory, and he wished he had more to say other than thanks, but he had to see Tuvira.
The gymnasium was empty, thanks to everyone still in the stands cheering, so there was no one in the halls to get in Ash’s way as he made it to Squad T’s changing room on the opposite side of the gym. Whoever thought a circular gym was a great idea is a piece of wyvernshit! Ash thought as by the time he found the room, there was sweat forming against his forehead. Yet before he entered the room, Ash overheard Tuvira and Tekka.
“I’ve decided to relinquish my position as the Squad Leader to you.”
“Wait, what? This some kind of a joke? We need you on our squad to even be eligible—”
“Zip it. By Dragons you’re an annoying blobfish. I’m not leaving the team. In fact, I’m taking your position as the Vanguard.”
“Why’s that? You won the leadership fair and square just because you lost one battle doesn’t mean—”
“My Prince!” Tuvira squealed as she wrapped around the corner and jumped into Ash’s arms. “You know it’s rude to listen in on a princess’s conversation. Looks like I’ll have to teach my pup some manners.”
“Uh what?” Ash said with a slight blush. He seriously got caught eavesdropping so soon after confirming what lay within their hearts. Maybe Ash really was a stalker.
“Oh right, I forgot you’re not a pup anymore. You’re a teen shark, a sharky if you will.”
“So does that mean—”
Tuvira took a step back then gave a curtsey the same way she did when they first met, except this time, her smile gleamed with a sparkle of darkness. “Yes! All is forgiven, my Prince. Though, you shouldn’t keep secrets from your princess.”
“What secrets?” Ash scratched his cheek with a laugh. “As if I’d hide anything from my little princess.”
Tuvira’s eyes widened, and she tilted her head slightly, but in the end, she decided to accept her Prince’s word as she pointed to the tall figure behind Ash. “Tell that to her.”
Ash froze as he slowly turned around to look up at the Dragoness who snuck up on him. She wore a red and black uniform adorned with white feathers around the collar. Her eyes had an emerald glow that, once paired with her short black hair, she started to resemble a certain loud-mouthed princess. Yet the aura she gave off was nothing like royalty, more akin to a beast.
“So, this is where the Prince has been hiding.” Her voice was hoarse as if she had spent too much time yelling. “To think it’s my generation that found him. Does that make me the Harbinger of the End, or does that make you?”
Ash gripped onto Royal Rose. His left eye flickered from white to black. That woman needs to die. The thought crossed Ash’s mind, yet that was a thought Ash had never had before, nor would he ever wish to have again as he calmed down and the darkness drained from his eye.
“Oh?” The Dragoness’s eyes lit up. “Your will is stronger than you realize. Is that why you decided to become a Human?”
Ash let go of Royal Rose and smiled. “Sorry to disappoint, but I was born this way.”
Ignoring Ash, the Dragoness stared down at Tuvira. “Do you really put up with his games, little princess?”
“Of course.” Tuvira bounced up and latched onto Ash’s arm as she stuck her finger up at the Dragoness. “It’s fun you know. You should try it.”
“I’ll pass.” The Dragoness replied, walking away from the two, uninterested in playing any games with hatchlings.
“Boo, you’re no fun Chara.”
“Can’t have fun without a challenge.” Chara chuckled, then glanced back at Ash. Her emerald eyes now ignited into burning rubies as her teeth sharpened like her pupils. And with a voice that blazed to life she spoke. “You better enjoy this while you can, cowardly Prince, because unlike the little princess. I don’t plan on letting you stay hidden. I will drag you back into the light.”
“Who the hell are you?” Ash finally asked.
“Hmm? Has my baby sister never mentioned me?”
“Your sister… don’t tell me—”
“Char!” Lissandra screamed as she jumped into Chara’s arms for a hug. “When did you get here? Why are you here? Did you see me fight? It’s been too long!”
“It’s Chara. I’m sure you can say it right by now.”
“Oh… sorry Chara, I’m just—”
Chara placed her hand behind Lissandra’s head. Then, with a slight crouch, she leaned forward, brushing their foreheads against each other. There Lissandra’s eyes widened as Chara sprouted 4 dragon wings that pushed away her cape, revealing the fact she didn’t wear a regular uniform as she had ripped shorts and a torn short-sleeved shirt. But more importantly, on her hips were twin swords paired like scissors with jagged handles akin to a shining star.
“I see. You really have grown.” Chara stood up as her wings disappeared, yet her eyes stayed red.
“D-did you just force our stars to align?”
“Well, we don’t have that much time to chat. In fact, I’m sure Amy is getting sick of stalling mom.”
“Another lecture.” Lissandra chuckled.
“How about when you’re done? I’m sure my Squad would love to get to know the Red Comet herself.”
Ash locked eyes with Chara while the rest of Squad S had their heads bowed, even Alexis, as the pressure Chara gave off was something normal Dragonoids couldn’t bear to look at. Where she intentionally forced them to keep their heads down until she passed.
“Hmm, I’ll think about it,” Chara said, looking back at Lissandra, her pure green eyes softening up, even the Red Comet’s blaze, as she whispered something in her sister’s ear that made Lissandra turn red herself.
“I-I don’t need help with that!”
“Then don’t use my advice.” Chara shrugged before her eyes widened with a sigh. “I guess time’s up.”
Walking past Squad S was a man in a red and black uniform like Chara, where one hand stayed on his side over his katana, and the other used to cross his chest as he bowed. “Yes, Lady Starlight. The Queen mother has grown quite impatient with Amy’s games.”
“I see.” Chara cupped her hands. “Kaen! You can let the rabble through now!”
From behind Ash, coming out of Squad T’s changing room, was a female student dressed in a red and black uniform who scratched her ear as she didn’t even look in Ash’s direction.
“Thank the Dragons, those kids’ questions were non-stop.”
“Nobody told you to do an AMA.”
“Sorry princess, but not everybody has a heart of coal—”
Everything happened fast. All Ash knew was that Tuvira was in her draconic state standing in front of him and that the girl had burst into flames as the guy sheathed his katana with a Klink!
“For Fire Cleanses All.” Was all the katana-wielder said as he had just turned his presumable teammate into ashes. And that was something Ash couldn’t let go of, and with a quick twist of Royal Rose, he launched forward with the blade drawn. Only to be pulled back by Tuvira’s tail as the space in front of him burst into flames.
“I missed.” The katana-wielder clicked his tongue as his blade settled back into its sheath with a Klink!
“Oh, my Prince, didn’t I tell you I wouldn’t let you get crushed by a dolphin.”
“But we can’t let him get away with that—”
“Yeah! You tell him! Shin should learn that he doesn’t need to chop off someone’s head just for telling the truth!”
The entirety of the hallway was filled with screams from Tuvira and Squad S as Kaen, who should have been the pile of ashes in front of them, was now standing up, brushing off the ashes from her shoulders like everything was ok!
“Wh-why are they screaming?” Kaen asked. “I thought they’d be happier to see me ok.”
Shin shook his head, still undecided if he should try killing her again. “Because, idiot. The dead don’t talk.”
“Haven’t they heard of rising above the ashes?”
“That’s a figure of speech to most people.”
“Kaen, Shin, quit messing around, and let’s go,” Chara said as she grew bored of the little show and proceeded to walk past Squad S.
“As you wish, Lady Starlight,” Shin said with a bow. “I apologize for taking up more of your time.”
“Buh-bye little lizards, oh and sorry for scaring you. Hope none of you pissed yourselves.” Kaen laughed.
And like that, the three members of the Queen’s Dragoons, the strongest Squad in the academy, left the gymnasium leaving a lasting mark on Ash.
Soon after, Squad S and T were re-welcomed onto the stage with a quick yelling from Mr. Fireheart as Squad S was not supposed to leave their changing room. As both Squads still needed to finish up with the formalities.
“And though one Squad has lost, both teams should be given a round of applause for their bravery and courage to stand up against one another, albeit some having caused more issues than the others. We should congratulate both for an exciting match!” Dr. Windchaser said as the crowd cheered.
There both Squads bowed and waved to the crowd, then faced each other respectively based on their roles where they were supposed to shake hands. Yet only the vanguards and leaders did as Tinto, Taniss, and Tomsk were in no mood to look at, let alone touch a member from squad S. Alexis’s rampage wasn’t so easily forgiven and so looking at the tension Tekka was the first to break it.
“So Ash, this may be the last time we’re on equal footing,” Tekka smirked with an outstretched hand. “Seeing as you’ll still be a vanguard.”
Ash took Tekka’s hand, responding with a smirk of his own. “Damn, not only did I let you keep your job, but I also got you a promotion too. Tekka buddy, you owe me big time.”
Tekka chuckled, giving a quick glance to his father, who had actually clapped for his performance. “I suppose I do. Well then, if it’s within my power, I shall grant it to you.”
“Good because Royal Rose needs some repairs Arena isn’t too kind to blades.” Ash looked at Royal Rose, and she was indeed in dire need of some fixing as she was still chipped and quite close to breaking where if Tuvira hadn’t stopped Ash earlier, she’d probably burst.
“Oh, that’s all. That’ll be easy with my connections. So what? You just need steel and a new engine?”
“I’ll send it to your PDA,” Ash said as Tekka received a ping. All Ash did was smile the moment Tekka’s jaw dropped as he pulled up the list of materials he used to forge Royal Rose.
“How in Dragon’s name did you get Ivory from a Behemoth?”
“You’re not the only one with connections.”
Ash laughed at Tekka’s sudden loss of color from his sapphire eyes, and as that was going on, Tuvira faced off with Lissandra.
“I can’t believe after one battle, you’re stepping down.” Lissandra outstretched her hand. “Especially when we finally became equals.”
“Didn’t I tell you? We can never be equals. I’m a Hostage, and you’re a Princess of Fire.” Tuvira spat, making Lissandra slowly pull back her hand with a slight tremble she tried to keep hidden, but Tuvira saw through it all. However, it wasn’t with her eyes but rather with her heart, and there she took the hand that reached out to her.
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.” Tuvira smiled, showing off her shark teeth in full bloom. “Right, Lizzie!”
Lissandra smiled right back at her age-old rival turned friend or rather amicable rival as she replied. “Of course, Tuvira.”
“No, no, no. You can’t just call me Tuvira. C’mon, don’t be a blobfish think of a nickname.”
“I’m not calling you Tuvi.”
“Boo, you’re no fun Lizzie.”
There the two paused for a moment before laughing, shocking the crowd as after that heated battle, no one expected to see a Princess of Water and Princess of Fire laugh together. Yet they did without a care. Until Dr. Windchaser reminded them of an important fact.
“With the victor decided, there is only one question: what did Squad S win from the duel? As we know previously, Squad T wished for the dismantlement of Squad S and the recruitment of Ash Spitfire. However, Squad S had remained undecided. A choice allowed under the option that Tuvira has the right to refuse the request. So then, Lissandra Starlight, have you made your decision?”
“I have Dr. Windchaser. Tuvira Moonstar, as the defeated, I want you to relinquish your rights to Ash Spitfire and hand them over to me!”
There the room went silent as no one really understood the extent of what that meant, nor did they know why Ash was wanted by both princesses. Nevertheless, none of that mattered in the grand scheme of things as Ash didn’t agree to either of their demands!
“Nani! I mean, what the hell do you mean her rights to Ash Spitfire! I’m Ash Spitfire, a person, a Human, a Dragonoid. I have my own rights! Tuvira has no rights to me—”
“And that’s where you’re wrong, my Prince,” Tuvira said, shutting Ash up as she stared at Lissandra with sharpened ruby eyes. “Are you sure that’s what you want? Especially right after we made amends.”
“Sorry, but my vow with Ignis dictates I must stay true to myself, and you deserve some form of punishment for putting your and my Squad through this whole ordeal. Besides, you can always refuse, you know.”
Ash relaxed as there was no way Tuvira would ever say yes to that, even though he was positively, absolutely sure Tuvira had no rights to him! He was not a slave, nor was he a simp!
“I could, but—” Tuvira released her control over Ash. “I’ll accept your demands For Fire Cleanses All.”
“For Fire Cleanses All,” Lissandra replied as, that sealed the deal with the crowd joining in with the saying.
“For Fire Cleanses All.”
“And there you have it, folks! Tuvira Moonstar has lost all rights to Ash Spitfire. Whatever that means.” Dr.Windchaser said with a knowing wink that no one would believe, not even Ash.
“What the hell does that even mean! Did we seriously get nothing after all this work! And I am not an object! Tuvira, I thought we were a prince and princess couple—”
Tuvira raised her hand. “I’m sorry Ash, but like I said before, I could never be with a lying prince.”
“I’ve never lied to you!” Ash whined.
“Yes, yes, keep telling yourself that, but more importantly, I’ve decided that you are to be my new rival.” Tuvira pointed her finger at Ash threateningly.
“Uh-what!” Ash was now even more confused, yet he couldn’t help but smile as he held onto Royal Rose. “You know what, fine. If you want it like that, then so be it, little princesss.”
“I can’t wait to crush you,” Tuvira said with a monstrous smile that showcased all of her salivating teeth.
“Wait, what? You can’t do that! What about the deal!” Lissandra screamed.
“Don’t worry, Lizzie, I won’t get in your way with Ash Spitfire,” Tuvira said as she thought about her true prince hidden within that shell.
“My way! I’m only doing thissss asss your punissshment! We all know how much you adore the halfbreed.” Lissandra said, convincing most but not all as Alexis saw through her friend giving a thumbs up of approval.
“Well then, it seems we’ve dragged this on a slight bit longer than expected.” Dr. Windchaser coughed as things were getting a little too private for this public atmosphere. “With this, the first Squad battle of the semester is over! I look forward to the next one should any Squad decide to fight it out!”
That night Ash spent it stargazing with Tuvira as he told her about finally hearing from his parents or rather his mom. How she answered, how she told him to have fun, and how she was always watching over him.
“Wow! Now all you have to do is stick it to that dolphin!”
“Yeah, I guess I can start passing Astrology.” Ash laughed as Tuvira sat next to him on the bench punching the air.
“Yup! Just try not to mention the dark star part.”
“So you do keep secrets.”
“Not from you.”
“You know Ash.” Tuvira stared up at him with wide ruby eyes where. Ash could only think about how cute she was until the thought was lost as she bit his arm. “MMMMM!” (You’re a terrible Liar!).
“I am not,” Ash said, laughing until he felt sweat bead down his forehead.
“Greetings Ash, Tuvira. I hope I’m not interrupting anything.” Lissandra said with her arms crossed.
“Nothing at all Lizzie,” Tuvira said, releasing her teeth from Ash’s arm.
“Good, so you wouldn’t mind if I took Ash from you tonight.”
“Of course not,” Tuvira said, getting up with a yawn. “It’s past my bedtime anyway. See you tomorrow Ash.”
“See ya.” Ash waved to Tuvira, who responded in kind as she went back to her dorm room, leaving him alone with Lissandra.
“So what do you want?” Ash asked, dropping the playful tone he had with Tuvira.
“Hmph, is that any way to talk to your Leader?”
“It is when she’s being a pain in the ass.”
Lissandra shrugged. “It’s not my fault she wanted to dismantle our team.”
“Yes really. It’s actually your fault remember.”
Ash scratched his cheek. “Ok, I get it, but that doesn’t answer my question.”
“Come to the Arena. I want to settle something.”
Ash raised an eyebrow but followed her without a question since he felt it. The desire in her heart as they were finally going to have their rematch.
Inside the gymnasium, they stood across from each other in the middle of a plain with just a training sword in each of their hands. Unfortunately, Lissandra didn’t have that much control over the stars to change up the setting within Arena’s Domain, so they couldn’t use real weapons, nor could she use her powers as that might kill Ash. The most she could do was make it so they didn’t have to fight on an orange basketball court.
“Not as extravagant as our first duel, but It’ll do,” Ash said as he got into his self-taught stance that seemingly left many openings, but Lissandra knew the truth as she didn’t let her guard down.
“Remember, the first to fall on their back loses.” Lissandra was poised and ready to lash out but remembered an important fact. “If you want, you can draw blood or whatever you like to do to get into the fight.”
“So you know about that.”
“Why else would you have thorns on your blade’s handle.”
“Good point. But you must have spent an awful lot of time watching me.”
“It’sss the job of a Sssquad’sss leader to know about their comradesss.”
Ash laughed. “As easy as ever to get you worked up princesss. But don’t worry I don’t need that.”
Ash stared at Lissandra with eyes of violet as stars gleamed from his pupils. Which made Lissandra smile as her own eyes sharpened as her hair was set alight.
“You know Ash, have you ever thought that you’re just a late bloomer? That you just haven’t awakened your Draconic Ancestry?”
“Maybe, but doesn’t that mean I’m different. So I’d just be called something else other than a human or halfbreed. Maybe I’d be called a monster.”
“Or maybe we’d call you a Dragonoid.”
Ash chuckled. “Maybe—”
Their blades clashed as Ash saw Lissandra’s dash. She was fast even without being fully in her draconic state, but Ash wouldn’t be caught off guard as he had his own partial draconic state. Something he’s had since the beginning, yet now he was finally aware of it.
With locked eyes of violet and green, Ash went limp, letting Lissandra push forward with her momentum and, like a whirlwind, twisted around her with his blade coming back down.
Lissandra kicked off the ground getting away from the downward slash, but Ash followed close behind, and their blades met once more with equal force. The sound of wood clashing flowed with the breeze.
Another strike, another block. Another parry, another dodge. They both fought each other not for pride, not for power, and certainly not for prejudice because with one look, even from the stars above, it was no mistaking the two Dragonoids’ dance.
“C’mon Lissandra! That all you got?” Ash said after having knocked Lissandra with his last swing. “Go on, show me why I decided to let you lead.”
Lissandra laughed. “Let me? Is that what you call getting turned to ashes.”
“That wasn’t funny.” Ash gave her a blank stare as Lissandra looked all too pleased about her pun. “How about we finish this?”
Holding onto his wooden blade, Ash felt its resolve. He had no idea how an inanimate object could have something so abstract, yet for as long as he could remember, tools felt like partners to him. Maybe Ash really was crazy, but that was just more proof he was a Dragonoid.
And like that, Ash knew his blade would break with the next swing where the domain itself felt the dark ripple. Yet Lissandra couldn’t see it. Rather, she was blind to it as the only thing on her mind was to answer Ash in kind. So, with her own blade catching on fire, blazing to life where it would soon crumble, the Princess of Fire dashed forward roaring:
Amethyst to Emerald, with their wills alight, the two clashed with a shock wave that left a crater in the ground. And like last time, their stars aligned, ending with Ash on his back as he gazed up at Lissandra, except he didn’t shed tears as he laughed.
“I really lost to you again. Though that flaming sword was clearly going overboard.” Ash said, taking in the smell of scorched earth.
“Didn’t I tell you—”
“All’s fair in a battle,” Ash grumbled, knowing her saying all too well. “So what now?”
“Now I claim my prize as the victor.”
“Wait, we didn’t say anything about that—”
Ash was silenced as a ruby-scaled tail wrapped around him and lifted him up where he could see Lissandra’s monstrous smile. With her head adorned with horns as if they were a crown, the area around Lissandra burned.
“Ash Spitfire, from today onward, you are mine. Take joy in knowing that a Princess of Fire does not mark her territory often. In fact, you are the first person I’ve ever claimed, so know if you break my heart, there will be hell to pay. For Fire Cleanses All.”
It took a moment for Ash to process what he had just heard. Partly because he was burning alive. And mostly because what he heard was just the most bullshit, asinine declaration of Lissandra’s feelings for him that could ever be possible. Worse of all, it didn’t even sound like Ash had a choice in the matter!
Lissandra squeezed Ash tightly. “Now listen closely. You’re going to have to learn how this works and fast. A commoner, or better yet, a male, has no right to refuse a Royal’s advance. I thought you knew this, seeing as Tuvira made her claim loud and clear—”
“But we weren’t dating.”
Lissandra laughed with a slight blush. “Dating? Oh no, while there may be a possibility of such in the future with mother’s approval, of course. You are simply my sword, my shield, my sworn knight, if you will. To come to my aid when I need you the most. And more importantly, you are forbidden from ever looking at another woman the same way you look at me. Got it?”
“I can assure you that you’ll be the only one receiving this look princesss.” Ash said with his last act of defiance being a narrowed gaze filled with hate as there was no way in Dragon’s name this was how he’d get his first girlfriend!
“It’s official all Dragonoid women are crazy,” Ash muttered, remembering how his mother said something about kicking his father’s ass.
All while Lissandra simply smiled as she no longer smelled Tuvira’s watery scent attached to Ash, instead replaced with her own fire. And though he was a halfbreed or rather a human, and this alone would upset many, more so than the equality act ever would. Lissandra didn’t care because, to her, Ash was her Vanguard and, therefore, an official Dragonoid.
“I won’t deny it.” Lissandra giggled with emerald eyes that captured Ash’s defiant gaze. “I’m a little bit crazy.”
To be continued in Volume 2 as the Timeline continues...
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