• Published 8th Apr 2013
  • 4,616 Views, 428 Comments

Dusk Dawns - AlphatheGriffin17

Book IV Now taking up lessons with the Princess of the Night, datingthe student of the Princess of the Sun, coping with some bad memories and being the Seventh Element, Dusk certainly has a lot on his plate. And that's just stuff to do with hi

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The Tragic Tale of Fallen Soul

Meticulous planning,
Tenacity spanning,
A thousand year exile
Is simply why I'll

Be Princess eternal
My empire nocturnal
And seen for the wonder I am

There's no waking from this Nightmare
Be prepared!
Yes there's no waking from this Nightmare!
Be prepared!

The ponies gathered in the square all applauded as Princess Luna finished her rendition of this particular song in the form of her darker side. She transformed back into the princess they all knew and were growing to love and took a bow from her performance, Dusk included in the enthusiastic applause that followed.

With the trick or treating concluded and the games coming to a halt, this was the time of Nightmare Night when everypony would gather in the centre of the town and share things related with the celebration, almost like telling stories around a campfire and with pretty much the same concept. The fire in question, however, was bright green, and the ponies gathered were all dressed up as monsters and the long dead.

Like a campfire gathering, those assembled would take the opportunity to tell scary stories or sing creepy tunes that would both send shivers down the spine and appreciate the fun of being scared on this night. Rainbow Dash had told a few of her own ghost stories, a few which had the younger ones shivering with fright and ponies had sung renditions of songs such as In The Dark of the Night and Land of the Dead. Luna had now just finished her contribution and looked quite proud of herself, as she bowed humbly.

"Thank you everypony, thank you," she said once silence had fallen.

"Yes, well done again Your Highness, a wonderful performance," the Mayor complimented. "Now, who's going to be next?"

"Ooh, I wanna go, I've got another story!" Rainbow called.

"Rainbow, y'all have been three times already," Applejack reminded her. "Let somepony else have a turn."

"Fine then," she grumbled. "It was a good one though…"

"Dusk," Twilight whispered, "you should go next."

"What?! Me?!" Dusk asked, shocked.

"No, she means the other guy sitting with us who also just so happens to have the same name as you," Spike said sarcastically. "Of course she means you. You'd be great this."

"I um… I don't know…"

"Come on Dusk. Not only do you have a varied and detailed knowledge of Equestria history, but you also have your magic. Imagine how well you could tell a story with those puppets, everypony would love it!" she encouraged.

"You… you think so?" he asked.

"Well, they did at the Magic Contest, didn't they?" she reminded him.

"But Twilight, I-"

"I'm not forcing you to do something you don't want to," she said quickly. "I just think it would be good for you, that's all."

Dusk thought about this for a moment. He had already felt like he was going to die with fright at the Magic Contest when he'd first gone on stage to perform at Canterlot and he'd barely kept control of himself when he'd actually got on the stage. Since then, it had pretty much been his solemn vow that, even though he had achieved something, to never ever do anything like that again.

And yet this wasn't quite the same thing as that. He wasn't in front of a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands of strangers that were watching his every move, but in front of Ponyville, in front of his friends and the princess. There wasn't any kind of judging going on, it was just a little bit of fun they were all having. Even some of the children had come up just to show off their costumes or act out little plays.

It was this thought and Twilight's encouragement that made Dusk stand up tentatively and step out into the middle, clearing his throat to get attention.

"I'll um… I'll go next, if uh, nopony else minds," he said nervously.

"Well, do they?" the Mayor asked. Nopony else spoke. In fact, they all seemed a little excited at the prospect of him going. Perhaps they knew what he could do. "Well Mr. Noir, the floor is yours."

"You can do it Dusk!" He looked back to see Twilight beaming at him proudly. He took a little more confidence from that, as he stepped out into the middle.

Trying to ignore the fact that all eyes were focused on him, Dusk thought of all the legends and myths he had come across during his time reading. There were a few Ancient Pegasi myths, such as the Twelve Labours of Hoofacles or the slaying of the Gorgon Medusa by Pegaserses, but somehow for Nightmare Night, he didn't think that would cut it. He needed a tale that would be guaranteed to chill, not just have a straight up hero and villain.

Perhaps a tale of a fallen hero, one that could be tragic as well as scary and one that they would perhaps understand or relate to. It didn't take him long to think up the perfect one.

He started off the story by weaving a colour puppet out of the air, in the form of a white pony dressed in golden armour, standing tall and proud.

"This is a sight that… most of you are probably familiar with," he started off, trying to suppress the butterflies performing callisthenics in his stomach. "The Royal Guards of Canterlot. An elite force, to um say… the very least. Brave, strong, fierce in battle and loyal to our… fair rulers." He nodded to Luna, who watched attentively, while he made his puppet act out his words. "For as long as Celestia and Luna have ruled, they have been present, protecting our homes and our princesses from all who would do them harm. We owe them… a lot, that much is certain.

"But have you ever wondered how, exactly, they began? Who was it that began this legacy of protectors to the realm? This is where our… my tale begins, both heroic… and tragic." Looking around, he saw that everypony did seem quite intrigued by this. Spurred on, he tried to speak more confidently and carried on. "It began a very long time ago, when Equestria and the ponies that lived in it, suffered through a much darker time…"

He let the image dissolve and got a few gasps when a Paraserpent replaced the image of the guard, its mouth open in a hiss. It and a few others began to chase groups of ponies, who sprinted away, clambering over each other to try and escape.

"This was an age of chaos, which most of you may recall of a month ago. Nothing made sense, nopony had trust or friendship and everything was dangerous. Paraserpents slithered down every street, preying on those foolish enough to wander out alone, everypony cowering in fear, with the hopes that they wouldn't be the next to fall. All the while, their master, the draconequus Discord, presided over all he surveyed, laughing and revelling in the suffering he, and his vile minions, caused."

The puppets were now portraying this and Dusk could clearly remember Discord's laughter in his head whilst he made the form portraying him chortle on his throne, the sound mingling with another, far too familiar kind…

"It seemed, in this dark time, nopony would be safe from Discord's clutches." A Paraserpent was bending over a filly, silently screaming as it neared. "But there were some who resisted…" The snake's advance was suddenly halted by Pegasus mare, who struck the creature in the face and sent it reeling. "A small group of brave stallions and mares, who were able to remain unaffected by the fear and doubt Discord, fought against him in whatever way they could." The mare knelt down, allowing the filly to jump onto her back and fly away.

"Together, they fought to protect the innocent and the helpless, no matter what Discord threw at them. They would never back down, never give in, never surrender." The next scene he portrayed was of a more fierce battle between the Paraserpents and the resistance. "And among them, the bravest and strongest of them all, was their leader, a noble and proud Pegasus pony, known only as…" Said Pegasus, a muscled, silver-furred stallion with a long mane of gold, knocked aside his foes like they were nothing. He stood tall and proud on the battlefield and led his fellows in the charge.

"Brave Heart!" He enlarged the stallion, trying his best to add further detail. "It was said that his eyes, as blue as raging river, were sharp enough to see from Ponyville all the way to Appleloosa, that his strength was as great as a fully-grown dragon's and his resolve was as immovable as the sturdiest mountain. A true hero of his age, valiantly leading his comrades in arms to fight against Discord's power in an attempt to restore harmony to their homes, no matter what the cost."

The number of Paraserpents increased, Heart and his companions being steadily overwhelmed. "But even then, they were small and the enemies they fought seemed to swarm without end. But, side-by-side, they fought on, to die for their cause if they had to and they probably would have… had it not been for the timely intervention of fate's hoof." In a bright flash, all of the Paraserpents were gone and replaced by two shining beings. The group stared in awe at them, none more so than Heart. "For it was on this day that a new hope arrived to fight for their cause and, for once, it looked like they might have a chance to win."

"Seeing this chance, Brave Heart offered them his blade and those of his warriors, to protect them as they had with ponies before. They accepted and so, history ran its glorious course." Now, two separate battles took place: one between the princesses and the lord of chaos and the other with their brave fighters and vile minions. "The outcome was decided long before it had begun; Discord was turned into stone, his minions were wiped out and the fighters of harmony were victorious at long last.

"Now, Brave Heart and his fighters needed new purpose. For now the battle was won, what were they supposed to do? They had known battle their whole lives, how could they be expected to simply give that up? That was when one of the sages made them an offer." Celestia made a motion of knighting Heart with her horn. "In return for their stalwart service and unbreakable courage, the new rulers offered them the chance to be their guards, protecting both them and their realm from whatever force would threaten their security and peace. In addition, they also made their heroic leader their official captain, the first of many to have that title.

"But throughout it all, Brave Heart had been ignorant of one thing: he had fought with the powerful beings, yet he had never learned their names. They gave them: the youngest was Luna, the eldest was Celestia and Heart knew that, from the latter of those wonderful names, he would never forget hers and he would do anything for them… especially her."

"Yeah, yeah interesting and whatever, but where's the scary stuff?" Rainbow complained. "Come on, this is Nightmare Night, not a history lecture."

Dusk was snapped out of his bubble from her complaint. "Well um… I uh, haven't finished yet…"

"Good, then get to the good stuff already, this isn't gonna last forever," she added impatiently.

"Perhaps, Rainbow Dash, if you would remain silent and allow him to tell the story, you will get what you so desire," shot down Luna.

Rainbow seemed to be caught between a sarcastic response and the respect she was meant to have for the princess. Fortunately, both Luna's authority and the prank she had played on her previously kept the daredevil Pegasus quiet and she withdrew in a silent huff, though warily watching the princess.

Dusk offered his teacher a grateful look, who nodded in response, along with a gentle smile.

"Please, go on my student. I believe the rest of us are finding your tale quite riveting," she encouraged.

"Yeah, I am," piped up Pipsqueak. "So, what happened to Brave Heart? Did he fight some big monster or go on a big quest?"

"Did he live happily ever after with the princesses?" asked a filly dressed as a princess hopefully.

"If only that were true." The sombre note he had in his voice seem to make everypony lean forward in anticipation. "For a time, he was quite content with the life that he had serving under the princesses. He was a hero to all, loved by fillies and foals, adored by mares and envied by stallions. He had the respect and loyalty of those who served under him and he had made his name in the pages of history. He had everything he could possibly want… and perhaps that was the problem, that led to it all changing."

The images changed, showing Brave Heart being adored by all who saw him. Then, as Dusk went into the next part of the story, he subtly lowered the brightness of the puppet he was using, while it acted out the events he narrated.

"You see, as I said before, he was a proud stallion. He knew how strong he was, how great his deeds were and he wasn't afraid to profess them. Though he had honour, he also saw no point in leaving any victory uncelebrated and he had never known defeat. He also liked to have a goal, something to set his sights on and to achieve. Before, he had a goal, but now the fighting was over. Having everything he ever wanted, he needed a new purpose to fulfil, some sort of new challenge for him to take up. Though, perhaps, not one of combat, but something a little more personal…

"Peace, in truth, had made his warrior spirit restless and his mind erratic, desperate for something, anything to prove that wouldn't upset the balance. His reasoning was that if he could have prowess on the field of battle, he could woo a mare to be his. But what could possibly satisfy that kind of desire? Surely, he could have the heart of any mare that he wished, but that would prove no challenge for one of his stature. He needed one who would match him in every way, who was just as great as he was and would truly be worthy of him. It was this, combined with her unrivalled beauty, her compassion and kindness towards him and his devotion to her that lead him down this dangerous path.

"For he had fallen in love with Princess Celestia."

Dusk was silent for a moment to let that sink in. Everypony seemed to be rapt with attention now, leaning in closer. Even Rainbow, perhaps finding this a little relatable, was taking a bigger interest in his tale.

"So, knowing that the Princess must feel something as strong as he did for her, after all, how could she not, he went to her to win her heart. This would surely be his greatest triumph, to have the hoof of the Princess of the Sun, to let all know that she was his and his alone. Perhaps he would even become a prince, an even greater achievement." He depicted him boldly striding up to Celestia. "Bristling with self-confidence, brimming with hubris, he told her what his heart desired without a moment's hesitation, without even considering the possibility of failure."

"And… did it work?" the princess filly asked again. "Did they get married and live happily ever after?"

The innocence of childhood, he mused mentally. "If only, little one," he replied. "For, though she cared for him deeply, as she did all of her subjects, she couldn't return his feelings for, despite what he thought, she simply didn't feel the same way he did. She loved him as her friend, her subject and her protector, but not in the way that he envisioned.

"Though she conveyed this in the gentlest, kindest way possible and, though he did apparently accept this, little did she know that something changed inside him from that moment. For, because of her, for the first time in his life, he had failed. Now, his pride, his resolve and his heart were shattered when she'd uttered those words. Stricken by grief, burdened by this crushing blow, he wandered alone into the gardens, raging and cursing both himself and her. It was strong enough that he shattered stone, so loud it could be heard up in Cloudsdale, echoing on the wind. The lament of his broken heart, among those cold, lifeless statues…

"… that was when he heard his voice, whispering to him in the darkness." Dusk formed the grey form of Discord encased in stone. "Sensing his despair and his troubled mind, it was said that Discord, his enemy of old, spoke to him from his stone prison. Were he in his right mind, Brave Heart would have left then and there, shut out his ears to his snake-tongued devilry. But he wasn't in his right mind and so he listened to him, entranced by what he heard.

"Using his foul words and his malevolent mind, Discord was able to gradually twist Brave Heart against his princess, whom he had once served so dearly. He painted a portrait in his head that she was the villain in all of this, that she had allowed his feelings to build to a point where she could dash them, just to prove that he wasn't as great as he thought himself to be. He praised him, appealing to his pride, whispering that he was indeed the greatest and that Celestia was cruel for having done this to him, how she was using a mask of virtue and kindness to gain the love of her subjects to keep them in line which, he told him, was even worse than any reign of tyranny.

"Now, at first, Brave was untrusting of him, but only slightly. For, if Celestia was truly as kind as he believed, why did she allow her sister's beautiful night to be shunned and her bitterness grow? If she were truly loving of all her subjects, why did she not return the feelings he so strongly felt? If her reign was so great, then why did he only feel truly content under Discord's, when he had true purpose and a goal to fight for? If he helped to set him free, Discord tempted, he would always have purpose as his servant, always have a goal to achieve and he would make Celestia sorry for crushing his heart like this.

"Tempted by all that Discord offered him, clouded by his vanity and anger, Brave Heart agreed and the two began to scheme. They both knew of the embittered Princess Luna, for Discord had already begun with her, and that they could convert her to their cause with some effort. This would also leave Celestia more vulnerable without her sibling and give them clear route to the true source of power. So, working with her, Heart began to push her temptations and bitterness further, using what his new master taught him. Pushed on by the Captain, Luna did give in to her corruption and became the mare of darkness we know her for on this very night.

"But Celestia wasn't afraid to act for the safety of the realm, even if it was her own sister that threatened it. She used the Elements to imprison her sister for a thousand years in the moon she had once raised, removing Heart's aid against her. But that didn't stop him and, in his anger, here solved to take the Elements by force.

"Now," he went on, portraying a grand castle in a lush green forest, "some of you may know of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters, where Luna and Celestia used to reside, deep in the Everfree Forest. Celestia abandoned it not long after the imprisonment of her sister. You could easily say she did this because of the emotional hardship she had with the place, that it wasn't the same without her sister by her side. That's true enough, but there is another, far more sinister reason. For many years ago, something terrible happened, while Celestia had left on royal duties…"

He stopped speaking and simply showed them, a few more gasps elicited from the crowd from what they saw. The castle had started to burn, a raging inferno consuming it from its very foundations, enveloping it in an orange bloom. Ponies ran in terror from the blaze, scrambling and clambering over one another to try and get away, other guards tried their best to evacuate everypony and fight the fire, some of them running back inside the castle through the mighty oak doors.

"And, at the centre of this chaos… him."

The scene changed to the interior of the castle. Several guards, some with lances, some with swords, unicorns using magic, were engaging another figure in dark grey armour. Their opponent moved with lightning speed, the flames dancing around him, sword whizzing through the air as he cut down any guard brave or foolish enough to stand in his way. Soon, there were none left, nothing but the figure… and the flames.

Then, his face was shown. He looked slowly up from the scene, his eyes burning as much as the inferno that raged around him. His fur, no longer silver, was now the same grey hue as the armour he wore. His mane, once golden as the sun, was now a deep purple, flowing around him like some twisted robe of royalty, but the glow of the fire made it look like a river of blood. But his eyes now… now they too were grey, burning with anger, but also dead, lifeless… meaningless.

"On that day, the stallion Brave Heart was no more and he became… Fallen Soul…" Fallen turned his back on them as he said this and placed down a faceless visor over his features, disappearing into the tongues of flames that consumed his former home… and former friends.

"He tried to take the Elements of Harmony and try and use them to free Discord, letting the fires burn around him while he strode through the castle, letting those who would flee and letting those who would fight fall before his blade. It looked like nothing would stop him… until she returned." The flames were suddenly extinguished by a brighter light that streamed forth from a white figure, Soul whirling around to face her. "Celestia had come and he was ready to face her. He would stride forth on the field and make her pay for what she had done to him. He raised his blade, opened his wings and charged…"

"But then, he saw her face and was caught dead, like an animal in a trap." He showed Celestia's demeanour, one of shock and sadness and Fallen suddenly stop, his blade mid-swing. "It was said that he looked upon the face of her that day and realised the horror of what he had done, the madness that had consumed him and driven him to do this. Others say that it was enough for him, satisfying to see the same look of pain on her features as he once had when she had broken his heart.

"Nopony knows for sure. All that is known for sure is that Celestia and Fallen didn't meet in battle on that day and that he dropped his sword, removed his helm and surrendered to her without a fight. He let himself be taken off by the guards that he had once counted as his friends, stripped of the title Celestia had bestowed on him and sentenced to eternal imprisonment in the darkest, deepest pits of Tartaurus for what he had done."

He showed Fallen again, locked away in a dark cavern, knelt down in the darkness so that he was barely visible.

"There are whispers though that he is still there, even today in that dark pit, serving the long, long time for his horrific act. That Discord had changed something about him to give him another edge over his enemy and that he had vowed that, one day, he would return to Equestria. To see his master freed, to enact the chaos he would serve, forever lost in the darkness of his sins never to see the light of redemption. On the day he would return, he would see his master freed and the world that would never accept him… would burn."

He enclosed his story showing him again amidst the flames, eyes glowing in the fading dark at the conclusion of his story. Dusk too was returned to reality, looking around at the shocked, horrified faces of his audience. A few of the children were shaking, as well as some of the adults, the Mayor's clown wig shaking as much as the rest of her did.

Finally, Pipsqueak broke the silence. "Wow… that was really scary!"

Several of the children cheered and the adults also began to follow with applause, making Dusk flush from the attention but also feel quite relieved that they didn't think his story was silly.

"Yes um, er, quite chilling," the Mayor agreed, doing her best to control her fear. "A um, very well told story Du- AGH!" She screamed as one of her aides came up behind her and startled her unintentionally.

"Is it over yet?" Pinkie popped her head of the candy she had buried it in, clucking nervously with her knees wobbling comically.

"Okay… I take it back, I mean just… whoa…" Rainbow added, staring at Dusk with a kind of awe.

"I want my blankie," Spike whimpered, shaking in his scales.

Dusk was rather surprised at the effect that his story had. He didn't expect it to be that scary, but he was clearly wrong. Though she was scared, the smile Twilight gave him was enough to make him feel proud for doing it.

Then he saw Princess Luna.

She didn't appear scared or unsettled in anyway, but she was gazing at him for a bit in a way that made him feel a little uncomfortable, almost like a parent who had discovered them hoofpainting on the wallpaper in the living room. She smiled a little when she saw him looking at her and beckoned him aside, though he still felt a little nervous as she did.

"That really was a great story!" said Pipsqueak again while he was leaving. "Your magic is cool to watch."

"I'm glad you thought so, thank you," Dusk said to the Trottingham foal.

"It was really scary but I liked it. It's just a story, right?"

Dusk was about to reply that some of the story's elements were based in actual historical fact, even though it was primarily a lesson to children not to become too overconfident and proud of their deeds, but he caught Luna's eye again. The look she had made him change his answer to a more innocent one.

"Yes, it's just a story," he reassured him. "Now, you run along, I need to talk to the Princess."

"Okay, tell her I said hi!" The foal scampered off to join his friends, while Dusk caught up to Luna, who stood in the shadows of a clearing of trees.

"To be young again," she mused, looking out after him.

"You don't need to worry about that Luna," he said politely.

She cocked an eyebrow at him. "Dusk, I am well over a thousand years old, in case you didn't notice."

"I was always taught to um… to never ask a mare about her age," he replied. "Besides um… you look good on it…"

She appeared surprised at the compliment, but she giggled a little and kept her smile. "Thank you Dusk, that's kind of you to say so."

"No problem…" he mumbled, clearing his throat. "Now um… you wanted to see me?"

"Well, for a start, I wanted to compliment you on your efforts. An entertaining retelling, my student," she said. "I found it most riveting, to say the least. A testament to your performance at the Magic Contest."

"Um… thanks," he replied unsurely.

"What is the matter?" she asked, picking up on his nervousness. "Have I offended thee… you?"

"Not at all," he quickly said. "It's just… I got the feeling you wanted to say something more…"

"Nothing escapes your notice, does it?" She placed a hoof on his shoulder. "Fear not, you're not in trouble, but, though it is primarily a legend for children, you know of the historical connotations behind the story?"

"Of course, all stories have a basis in fact," Dusk nodded. "Why?"

"Just a word to the wise, do not mention that story around my sister," she warned. "For obvious reasons."

"Of um… of course," he agreed. "But still, even if it is true, he's imprisoned forever. He can't exactly break out of where he is, can he?"

Luna was silent for a minute, but replied with a rather false smile. "Yes, just a story." She quickly moved back to the circle. "Now come, I believe there is one more thing the town wishes to do."

Dusk had a feeling that she might be keeping something from him, but reminded himself that she and her sister had born witness to these painful events and she was probably just feeling a little lashback from that. He certainly didn't blame her and didn't plan to question it.

So, he followed her back the centre, where the Mayor had called everypony's attention.

"Now, I believe we should have one more song to close this spooky celebration," she said, affecting a spooky voice that just made Dusk snigger a little, "and I know the perfect one. Take it away!"

The band began to play a haunting melody, one that Dusk instantly recognised, as did many of the townspeople, for they soon began to take up the song when it kicked in.

Colts and fillies of every age
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us, behold the sight
Of our town of Nightmare Night

This is Nightmare Night
This is Nightmare Night
Stars start blinking in the winking light
This is Nightmare Night
Feel the fear, great or slight
Trick or treat,
Till the neighbours up and die of fright

It's our town, in the moon's bright light
In our town of Nightmare Night.

I am the one in Everfree
The last thing you will ever see
I am the one lurking in the swamp
Great big teeth ready to chomp!

This is Nightmare Night
This is Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night

In this town, we call home
Everypony hail to the Nightmare song
In this town
Don't we love it now?
Everypony's waiting for the next surprise!

In the shadow, creeping in the alcove
Something's waiting to close in a bite!
This is Nightmare Night
Very scary?
Oh yes, quite

Aren't you scared?
Well that's just fine
Say it once, say it twice
Run away like frightened mice
Bathe in the pale lunar light

Crawl and bite
Like a parasprite
In our town of Nightmare Night

For the next part, Pinkie, Applejack, Twilight and Dusk respectively took up the different parts of the tune.

I am the one who goes cluck, cluck, cluck
Ready to eat your candy up!
I am the crow of scariness
I am the one you can't even guess
I am the one in the cloak and shroud
Floating down on a darkened cloud

This is Nightmare Night
This is Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night

By our rules you must abide
Don't even try to run or hide
Rest assured, though try you might
None are safe on Nightmare Night

In this town
Don't we love it now?
Everypony's waiting for the next surprise!
Nightmare Moon will be joining us soon
Feel the fear burning in you so bright

To close up for the finale, Luna became formless smoke and began to dance around the crowd, now again reforming as Nightmare Moon and scaring a few ponies before flying off again, even adding an evil cackle to it.

This is Nightmare Night
What a fright!
Won't you please make way for royalty
Nightmare Moon now takes up our tune
Everypony hail to the nightmare queen now!

This is Nightmare Night
This is Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
Nightmare Night
In this town, we call home
Everypony hail to the Nightmare song!

Luna finished on the stage and bowed once more, just as the music closed. With a round of applause from the end of the song, Dusk grinned, safe in the knowledge that this had been on great Nightmare Night.

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