Of Smoke and Mirrors

The Times, 9. January 1855

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The Earl of Aberdeen to resign as Prime Minister!
The Prime Minster announced this after the House of Commons passed a vote to institute an inquiry into mismanagement of the Crimean War. Speculations are now on to whom might succeed him and many point to current Home Secretary Viscount Palmerston. A note sent in by a certain Humphrey Albercourt also comments upon the preposterous amount of power now resting with the House of Commons.

The Thin Red held firm!
Special Times correspondent William H. Russell gives a captivating report from the Battle at Balaclava (25th of October 1854) from which reports have been coming back since around Christmas and which lead to today’s ousting of the Prime Minster. Writing more in depth Russell explains the battle unfolding and especially one passage is most stirring:
“The Russians dash at the Highlanders. The ground flies beneath their horses’ feet; gathering speed at every stride, they dash on towards that thin red streak topped with a line of steel.”
At the end of the article the Times promises a special report from Russell on Sunday regarding the disaster of the Light Steam Brigade.

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Parliament to start debate on conscription next week.
This has led to several minor demonstrations which had to be broken up by the police.

Captain Leeds to hunt the Dutchman!
The Flying Dutchman, which for the past decades has been a scourge upon the Indian Ocean, shall now be hunted down vows Governors-General of India Broun-Ramsey, Marquess of Dalhouse. Captain Leeds have been given command of a squadron in order to hunt down this legendary menace. A long winded speculation upon its supposed “magical” properties follows.

Other
Several other minor notices, advertisement, poems and letters to the editor.

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The Times, 10. January 1855

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Viscount Palmerston to form new government!
The Viscount has announced his intention to step in as Prime Minister after the resignation of the Earl of Aberdeen and has found support in parliament for this. He is expected to officially take office in early February. Several speculations follows on whom might be picked as his cabinet ministers and especially discussed is the position of Theumathurgical Secretary, the minister in charge of magic and magical policy. Lord Windsor is expected to be given the post of First Lord of the Admiralty as he can be relied upon to support Palmerston’s hard line on the Crimean War.

Ramon Castilla to lead Peru.
The famous general and former Libertadores was sworn into office on the 5th of January, starting his second term as president. He is considered British friendly and is praised by the Times for his progressive policies, amongst them working to abolish slavery.

In Memory of Mary Russel Mitford
A note mourns the death of Mary Russell Mitford, a poetess of some note, especially well known for her witty and remarkably frank descriptions of life in an English village.

Social Pages
The society pages are all filled with the first notices of upcoming arrangements and balls. As is customary the Queen herself will open the season with the Queen’s charity ball, this year dedicated to the widows of soldiers fallen on the Crimea. It is to be held at Buckingham on the 24th of January. Several smaller arrangements is also planned to follow suit/on the same day.

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Special Second Print!

Bloomsburry murders solved!
During the night to the 10th a seventh murder in the gruesome string of events that has been terrorizing Bloomsburry was narrowly averted. The Scotland Yard, by Inspector G. Hunter, could today confirm that the guilty party was a pack of veracious and cannibalistic creatures known as Ghouls. However, the Inspector could today assure the general public and the Times’ special reporter that the creatures had been neutralized and that there would be no danger of further attacks.

Though the police remained tight lipped on the matter the Times’ special reporter, miss Crawley, have it on good grounds that the quick thinking and outstanding bravery of three citizens saved the neighbourhood from further terrors. According to an astonished witness Sir James McGill of Her Majesties Royal Air Cavalry dispatched three of the creatures with his bare hands, aided by Mr Vasa Auri a local member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers and Miss Eveline Windsor, newly created Decanus of the Institute for the Study of Aetherics, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures.

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The Times, 24. January 1855

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The Russian Spy apprehended!
Scotland Yard could confirm yesterday that Captain William McGill has been apprehended in his quarters on the 23nd on charges of espionage on the behest of the Russian Tsarina. The Captain, nephew of the Baron of Rhuddlan, professes his innocence but Scotland Yard detective Sims claims the apprehension was done based on, with his own words, “watertight evidence”. Though the details of the charges has yet to be made public Captain McGill will likely face trial shortly. The Times promises to follow up on the case.

“The Soldier’s Battle”
“The Russian “White Tigers”, fresh from Siberia, sprang forth through the mist, forcing the bottleneck below Home Hill. The Lancashire Fusiliers, a streak of red in the grey, answered with a thundering volley. And yet the Tigers leapt forth, only to fall back in disarray as Magus-Captain Charles Darby raised a rolling wall of flickering flames before his men’s position,” Special War Correspondent Russel gives a stirring account of the Battle of Inkerman which he daubes the “Soldier’s Battle” as it was fought almost entirely under the cover of heavy mist. The mist also prevented the Russians from fully utilizing their airborne assets and their battle wizards, leading to a bloody British repulsion of their advance.

The Conscription Debate Rages On
Yesterday Parliament held the second session on the Conscription Issue, leading to a heated and memorable day in Westminister despite the snowfall. To the accompaniment of protesting “Communist” demonstrators outside the Members of the House of Commons furiously debated the topic with several memorable speeches. Soon to be Prime Minister Palmerston held a passionate speech on the necessity of Conscription for the outcome of the war, insisting that a fresh influx of troops to Crimea would break Sevastopol.
The most memorable episode however was MP John Bright’s impassionate and downright excellent critic of the measure. In a most memorable passage he declared, “The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings.”

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The Queen’s Charity Ball
The social pages are flush with the latest on the upcoming Charity Ball at Kensington.

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The Sunday Times, 25. January 1855

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The Case of the Russian Spy
The charges brought against Captain William McGill was clarified yesterday as pertaining to the theft of several important naval documents from the Admiralty, allegedly with the intention of handing them on to Russian intelligence officers. The Admiralty could confirm that if the documents were to reach the Russians it would be most detrimental to the war effort.
Furthermore evidence has surfaced to suggest that Captain McGills were a known face in certain libertine circles known to harbour republican sympathies. Inspector Sims of the Scotland Yard, currently leading the civilian investigation, suggests this may be the motif.

The Queen’s Charity Ball a great success
Having raised a significant sum for the widows of the fallen on Crimea the Master of Ceremonies has declared the much anticipated Charity Ball a great success. The Times special correspondent at the scene could confirm that the season is now official opened with several young debutants being introduced before her Majesty. Notable amongst them were the daughters of several prominent men in the nation, including the Earls of Exeter and Oxford.

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Clashes on the Dockside
Yesterday evening at the Docks near Wapping an angry mob of the basest sort threw several men into the River after having treated them to a savage beating. The attacked where accused of being Russian spies, though locals can confirm none of the unfortunates where of actual Russian origin. With the recent tensions over conscription, the editor suggests that Scotland Yard needs to step up their patrols.

The situation for those most destitute
Lady Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland and known for her charity work, writes a long and passionate letter to the Times regarding the terrible state of destitution seen across the countryside. She implores the government to do something about it, suggesting that more jobs and a minimum wage will be required. She particularly emphasis the plight of the children.

The State of the London Police
“Dear sirs.
I wish to bring awareness to the general reading public of the appalling state of mismanagement and incompetence displayed by the recently formed London Police. Indeed, I shall venture so far as to suggest that one cannot walk the streets of Eastern London at night without fear of being accosted in a most uncivilized fashion.”
The letter goes on to lament the corruption and incompetence in the force, signed of by “A Worried Gentlemen.”

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The Times, 26. January 1855

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The Aerocab Prototype unveiled
The much discussed Aerocab of mr. Hansom, rightly famed for his innovative cab designs, had a prototype unveiled at the Sao Paulo Grand Exhibition which opened yesterday, the first technological exhibition to be held in South America. The Aerocab, fully furnished with a miniature balloon, a propellar and flapping canvass wings, rose majestically but proved to be very much on the planning stage as it had to be abandoned by the driver before the cab itself rose to unsafe heights.

Though a defeat for mister Hansom’s ambitious project he insists that the design has a future and that in not too many years his customers will be able to soar in the clean sky, far above the smog of the city.

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Amsterdam Harbour shaken by explosion
During the night a major explosion coursed significant damage in the harbour districts of Amsterdam, capital of the Dutch Republic. Luckily few lives were lost as the incident occurred at night, though the property damage incurred was significant. Though the course remain unclear the Times has it on good authority that the British passenger ship, RMS Tayleur (owned by White Star), was near the epicentre of the blast and suffered catastrophic damage. Though some Dutch newspapers have claimed it to have been an accident caused by the powder of the nearby ship of the line Leijden which sank after the explosion.

However, unconfirmed reports only available so far to the Times state that a fierce magical duel took place on the harbour alongside the Tayleur involving British, French and Russian citizens. The Times then promise to follow the case closely as it develops.

Scotland Yard crack down on Libertarians; find Bolsheviks!
In connection with the apprehension of Captain McGills, which took place on Saturday morning, the Scotland Yard has investigated and cracked down on two clubs the young man was associated with, both known for harbouring libertarian tendencies. However, to the surprise of Inspector Sims who is heading the case one of them proved a front for a French Marxist group of Blanquist tendencies.

Inspector Sims could report that though not related to the case of the Russian Spy evidence for the groups conspiratory nature had been found and three men was being held for questioning. The gravity of any possible charges against the men are not yet known to the public.

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Entry: 26th of January, 1855
[Eveline's Diary]

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0ºC. Bleak weather and constant snow flurries.

I woke up gasping for air this morning. The events of last night are still lingering vividly in my mind. I did not have a chance to write them down yesterday as I usually do before going to bed, leaving me today with uneasy thoughts and unresolved feelings. I need to get my head wrapped around this issue as quick as possible or I fear that I will become a nuisance to my fellow companions.

For the first time since I have come to London and started going in all of these “unexpected adventures”, I feared for my life.
Last night’s episode left me wondering if I have what it takes to succeed in this new lifestyle that has been imposed to me as the Dean of The Institute for the Study of Aetherics, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures…

My feelings ran wild…As that repulsive ogre clenched his fingers around me, I was flooded by an insane rage, driving me to struggle back. I fought back with all my might, trying to break free from his grasp (and that creature even dared to hit me!). I did not even stop when the pounding pain on my cheek worsened. But, gradually that feeling of rage turned into despair, and despair into numbness. I remember thinking I could barely breathe, that if I did not get enough air that would be the end of me. My hands and feet felt ice cold and my body indulged in a very strange state of numbness. I have never felt so scared.

And in a matter of seconds, with unwavering eyes and a killer shot precision Mr. McGill put an end to all of this unnecessary suffering. Not even batting an eyelash when the creature’s brains just exploded from the side of his head, whereas myself had barely succeeded on not turning that sight even fouler with my bile.
I fell on my heels as I dove into a trance of confusion, nausea and relief, not even able to act properly. I thought I was done for good. I had never seen someone die. I had never seen someone getting killed. My mind was travelling thousands of miles per second, not able to reach an end.

And then I heard that man’s voice, screaming my name: “Eveline”. I snapped out of it, I tried to act composed again even though I knew it would be impossible with my shaking body. Mr. McGill instructed me to pursue the fugitives, heading in their direction like nothing had happened in the brief moments before. I saw Mr. Auri running in their direction as well. Dear Diary, I do not know how I found the strength to carry on last night; I guess there is more to me than I would have expected…

It comes as no surprise that everything just tipped from then onwards. After getting overwhelmed a considerably amount of times by Mr. Aurie’s “Cricket time!” as he calls it (I just pray I will not become blind after such frequent exposure), I tasted the cherry on top of the cake and … I am even too embarrassed to write it down, nevertheless I got stomped by a horse. I am just glad Queen Victoria’s eyes have trouble reaching such a forsaken part of London or my “Lady Like” reputation would definitely be revoked. It is already shameful and painful enough to carry these dreadful bruises. I did never care of the status of a Lady that much, however somethings are just inadmissible.

Fortunately, Marianne was there for me when I arrived home and commenced what I believe it was a nervous meltdown. Poor Marianne… it pained me more to see her distressed expression than my actual wounds. I did not have the courage to tell her how I got into such shameful state; it would just worry her even more. And by the way my sheets were arranged when I woke up this morning, I could tell she came to check on me during the night. My poor, sweet and loyal Marianne… I do not think I have seen her concerned like this ever since my mother passed away.

And this brings me to my initial thoughts…Will I, the last remaining Lady Windsor, be able to walk down gracefully the path of the sword? Can I become like my brothers and fight to keep the peace of others? Or can I become like Mr. McGill and kill another soul without a second thought? Or even, become free of social shackles like Mr.Auri?

I have come to realize it…

Dulce bellum inexpertis

- (War is sweet to those who have never fought).-

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The Times, 5. February 1855

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Palmerston sworn in as Prime Minister
Today at 1 pm Viscount Palmerston will be sworn in as Prime Minister of the United Kingdoms, an important post now that our fair nation is embroiled in a arduous conflict which has already claimed many lives. Today’s Times is therefore a special edition with four extra pages dedicated to our new Prime Minister in his government.

The following articles goes in depth into both the life of Viscount Palmerston and his cabinet. The Viscount, Henry Temple, aged 71 is described as one of the leading men in the nation and his aggressive attitude on issues of foreign policy and especially freedom of trade is noted, particularly his role in the First Opium War. Furthermore his cabinet is also noted as being fairly hawkish, particularly the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Windsor, whom can be relied on to press through with Palmerston’s policies. Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sidney Herbert, is another notable Whig hardliner.

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Two British Citizens confirmed dead in Bursa Earthquake
Two days ago, on the 3rd of February, a massive earthquake rocked central Anatolia, laying waste to the historic city of Bursa. Two British citizens, William Harlow and his wife Jenifer Harlow has been confirmed killed during the disaster. They were in the city on the behest of the British Embassy in Istanbul. No other British citizens are reported to be in danger or missing.

Bursa was once the first capitol of the Ottoman realm, though it has long been but a shadow of its former glory. Early reports suggests that the earthquake has almost entirely levelled the historic town.

Belgian General Election underway
The Belgian General Election is underway and the Catholic Party is expected to win a clear majority over the only opposition, the Belgian Liberal Party. Voter turnout is not expected to be particularly high, following on the trend from previous elections, and the Times correspondent in Brussels confirms that the general interest in the election is lukewarm at best amongst the general populace.

Lord Burghley to cancel his lecture series
The Marquis of Exeter, Lord Burghley, Brownlow Cecil has cancelled all three of his planned lectures on Antediluvian Britain after he fell ill during the opening session at London University. He has stated that in the interest of his health he will retire to his estate in Exeter at the advice of his doctor.

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Entry: 28th of January, 1955

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-1 ºc. Unpleasant weather followed by a snow storm.

I was never on top of the class regarding my clairvoyance abilities and yet lately they seem to be stronger than ever. It has been two days since my last journal entry and it appears that my ongoing personal dilemma has been answered by fate.

It turns out there is no rational answer to it. To attack or to perish, in the face of real danger there is not quite much left to do than to succumb to our survival instincts. If I were to ask myself while bearing a clear state of mind, would I have ever consider the possibility of taking another life away, I am strongly positive that the answer would be no. It is not in me to hurt others and I do not know the feeling of bloodlust. And yet, I have killed someone. This sounds completely illogical, but I have figured that reality is not always coherent. Perhaps because sapient beings are not coherent themselves…

On that note, father’s reaction to life in general continues to baffle me. I have already spent too much paper and ink on this subject but the latest events caught me off my guard. The last fight has left me both emotionally and physically wrecked to the point that I no longer remember what is like to be in a “normal” state again. I suppose that after being stabbed, splashed by blood and roughly sewed up (not in a million years had I thought this would ever happen to me) the ghost of the man who I call father would show signs of slight concern. I was struggling to keep conscious as I arrived home and saw father sitting in my dining room waiting for me. I barely remembered our conversation, only the overwhelming pain and efforts of refraining from fainting on the spot. Regarding my condition, he treated me distantly and strictly as usual. I recall thinking that person’s heart has really shut down after the passing away of mom and that no other living creature, not even his children would restart it again.

But I heard concerned in his voice. It startled me! I could not escort him to the door, however sitting from my armchair I could hear him turning back and wishing for my quick recovery. That was the last thing my tiny heart could handle that night. I immediately asked Marianne to help me to my room, hoping a good night of sleep would be able to put some of my anxiety and suffering to rest. It did not, but that is something I would rather not describe in detail. For now, I will keep it hidden inside a little Pandora Box and wait for the right moment to defuse it…

A tremendously tedious week awaitens me as I have to behave in bed (or in my prized armchair contrary to Marianne’s complaints and pleads to stay in bed) and make sure my wound is healed completely. The doctor comes by every morning around 10 pm, carefully and meticulously executing his healing magic to the point that I can see progresses from a day to another. I truthfully wish the scar will not be noticeable, for I am still an unmarried maiden.

For today’s thought I would like to finish with a tribute to my father’s slumberous sensibility:

-filius est pars patris
A son is part of the father.

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Entry: 2nd of February, 1855

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2 ºc. Foggy and cloudy.

London has glowed dimmer for me. After what I have predicted to be a very dull week, I am at last free from any doctor’s appointment and I no longer require any rest. There is barely any evidence of a scar, unless I touch the spot thoroughly or look directly at it at a certain light. Even though that was my greatest concern until quite recently, I have been having my hands full with other issues.

Sleep has become my worst enemy. Every time I close my eyes for a quick restoring nap, images just keep flashing back. I keep recalling that woman’s bloodshot eyes full of intention to kill me immediately turning blank as the head detaches from the body. Somehow, that scene keeps overlapping with the creepy laughter of that strange girl-like being we found during the Ghouls incident… My head is a mess… I need to rest, but at the same time I cannot bring myself to get it. My research has been the only thing that has been able to keep my mind sane. Fortunately I have been advancing on it pretty well.

Last night though, I have found a way to fall asleep and avoid initial night terrors. Without Marianne’s knowledge, I have snatched a bottle of Porto wine reserved for our fine guests. One small glass is all I need (also it is all my body can take) and my mind goes immediately blank. I am able to sleep through the night, though it does not safeguard me from a shaky, sweaty wake up.

On another matters, I wonder how my circumstantial companions are doing. Not that I was expecting them to pay me a visit, as Mr. Auri loses track of the world when he is working and Mr. McGill just does not fancy me at all. Despite of that, I still care about them in a way. I also wonder if they struggle… Probably this is exactly the reason why Mr. McGill finds me quite displeasing, for having these naïve thoughts and knowing nothing about crude, real world emotions.

I have also been thinking about the clinic where all these events occurred. I might find some peace in repenting for what happened… Maybe that doctor’s proposition on becoming a nurse might not sound so empty after all.

Nevertheless, mom’s anniversary is coming soon. I am feeling a bit anxious about it. It has been a while since the family has been reunited and I miss my brothers deeply. I wish from the bottom of my heart for them to be safe.

- bibamus, moriendum est
Let us drink, for we must die.

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The Guild Quarterly, 6. February 1855

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Preface
The editor wishes his readers a pleasant if belated new year and wishes it will be promising for both the guild and its associates. Indeed, the new year has already seen several interesting new developments within the field of Theumaturgical studies as well as both history and numerology. Notable is the recent contribution by Lord Burghley, Brownlow Cecil, in the field of archaeology and antediluvian studies where he has greatly enlarged our understanding of the ancient systems of graves and standing stones across Britain. In particular his sound arguments for the existence of a British antediluvian civilization has garnered praise and approval from the scientific community. This edition is for this reason especially dedicated to the ancient civilizations of the British Isles and topics related to them.

Telluric Lines of the Moors, Coincidence or Constructed?
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It is widely known that Telluric Lines, currents and pools of concentrated aetherical energy, is especially prevalent in the more remote parts of the British countryside. Indeed, it seems the spreading pollution called industrialisation by some is deluding and erasing those once found in more populous areas. Yet more so then anywhere else the great stretches of moorland across Great Britain seems to hum with the invisible power of the Tulleric. And finally we may be one step closer to understanding why.

It is my belief that we must look to the ancient remains of the moors, especially the standing stones or Menhirs as the French call them, for the solution to this problem. After careful studying several ancient sites across the Welsh moorland and on the Salsbury plains, further detailed below, it seems clear that most every Telluric current or node in the area flows past, split or changes course at these ancient monuments. Indeed, I have been able to prove that at the famous Stonehenge circle every stone is in fact linked to the others by at least three Telluric currents, though they are relatively weak after presumably millennia of heavy use by the Paynim magicians of the Celts and others.

But not only do these currents flow past or pool at these stones but I believe they are also in part controlled by them and indeed that the real purpose of these massive undertakings once were the direction and manipulation of Telluric energies. How this is done I have yet to discern, but based on a few experiments conducted by Francis Belhoven almost a century past such a mechanic seems plausible. And what an intriguing possibility it is! Yet the question does of course still remain, why would the ancient people of do this, and which of them were able to accomplish such feats? Was it indeed as is believed the Celtic people mentioned by Roman historians or was it rather remains of an even older time and the great Antediluvian civilizations?

Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Baronet and Historian

Observations on the Occupants of Celtic Burials
After an extended study of the many Celtic burials that has recently come to light across our country, and especially by looking at the funerary assemblage, I am now able to offer some observations upon those found interred within these sites. It should first be noted that there seems to be two types of burials, those of great kings or chiefs and those of great warriors. The first type is certainly the least controversial and the most common, usually characterized with a wide funerary assemblage of valuables and earthly goods likely imagined as the things needed by the great king in the afterlife. Often it is here we find the richest gold treasures of the type which has made these graves such a popular hunt for thieves and other miscreants.

However, there is a second type of graves which I have named the Warrior Graves. These are distinct in their lack of noted valuables as well as the share amount of weapons, armaments and protective magic left with the deceased. Without exception the interred were also physically large specimen of either Human, Beastman or in a few rare cases Ogre heritage, suggesting they were great warriors buried in readiness for battle. It further appears they were all buried at the prime of their age, having died without any overt injury to the body most likely resulting from choking or hunger.

The more intricate details of these practices are as of yet unclear to us and awaits further excavations but as a final note I wish to raise that point that not a single individual interred appears to have possessed any form of magical abilities nor, curiously, were any of the individuals Eldren.
John Yonge Akerman, Professor in British Paymin Cultures at the University of Cambridge

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