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Oh great, another Brogan chapter. Can't we just skip to him finding Kahlan? We've established that he's a little bitch, he's not interesting enough to justify any more time spent with him. It's not like the book is in danger of not being thick enough.

Brogan goes back to his pad to find that the old woman he was torturing has escaped and the torturer has been killed, obviously by mriswith. I guess Richard still doesn't care that potential enemies might be harboring something dangerous and thus hasn't searched their places. C'mon, man, you're a dictator now, violate some civil liberties.

Brogan, naturally, takes this as proof that the old lady was a baneling, making her the first devil worshiper who can't stand heavy metal music. Lunetta says that she should've stayed behind to help, but Brogan said she had to come with him, so he hits her for following his orders. Go back to your Saturday morning cartoon, Brogan, the Planeteers need someone to fight.

Then his sister does this:

Lunetta hobbled to Brogan's side and slipped an arm around his waist. She stroked his heaving chest. "It be late, Tobias," she cooed intimately. "Come to bed. You have had a hard day doing the Creator's work. Let Lunetta make you feel better. You will be pleased, I promise." He said nothing. "Galtero had his pleasure rape tiem, let Lunetta give you yours. I will do a glamour for you."

And suddenly Supernatural fandom doesn't think he's so bad. So he's in an abusive incestuous relationship, he's still not interesting. Darkseid has some dignity, Joker does whacky shit, Magneto is a nice guy as long as you're a mutant. They're all evil, but they're an interesting king of evil. Brogan is a big-time believer; what exactly are the tenets of his faith? Don't rape people and fuck your sister, unless you're hunting Banelings? A religious hypocrite could be interesting, like the bad guy in Hunchback of Notre Dame, or someone who is actually very moral aside from killing people, but this guy belongs in a Mark Millar comic.

So Brogan escapes from Aydindril, with the mriswith helping him get past the D'Harans. He takes it that they're servants of the Creator, because he's a schmuck, and now he's hot on the trail of Kahlan Amnell, since he's figured out she's the Mother Confessor despite being, from all accounts, a complete boob.
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So you'll remember the letter Richard was writing to Kahlan about how... you know how you had the Midlands... and they weren't all disbanded... well, uh...? Chapter 16 starts out with him sealing the letter with wax on the Sword of Truth's hilt. Thousands of years of tradition and authority, and he's using it as a stamp. By book 6 he's just gonna be using it as a back-scratcher.

Then Richard tells Gratch to take the letter to Kahlan and defend her from Mriswith, which takes four pages. I'm dead serious here. Instead of just going "Richard told Gratch to find Kahlan and protect, and gave him detailed instructions on how to find her," Goodkind spells everything out. Hello, editor? You wanna trim any of this HOT TALKING BEAR ACTION?

"Gratch really is your friend," Cara said. I can't help but think she's really missing Darken Rahl now. At least he never spent any amount of time explaining things to flying bears. With that done, time for some exposition!

Cara eyed him suspiciously. "And if this barrier has been in place for three thousand years, how did this come to happen, now?"

Richard cleared his throat as they followed him up onto the dais. "Well, I guess it's my fault. I destroyed the towers' spells. They no longer stand as a barrier. The wasteland has been restored to the green meadowland it once was."


Richard: The cause of, and solution to, all the Midlands' problems.

The two women appraised him silently. Cara leaned past him to speak to Raina. "And he says he doesn't know how to use magic."

Raina shifted her gaze to Richard. "So, what you are saying is that you have caused this war. You made it possible."

"No. Look, it's a long story."


I love how the Mord'Sith are pretty much really hot versions of the 'bots from MST3K when it comes to the backstory. I bet when Richard isn't listening, they call him "Blast Hardcheese" and "Slake Fistcrunch." They go on to point out that the Imperial Order is using magic to try to destroy magic, and Richard tries to explain the concept of hypocrisy without actually using the word "hypocrite" like he's playing a party game. Of course, the only party game the Mord'Sith ever play is Twister. PAIN TWISTER.

Richard slumped down in the Mother Confessor's chair. Oh God, Kahlan is going to ANNIHILATE him when she gets back. Disbanding the Midlands is one thing, but taking out the Mother Confessor's ass-groove. Richard, you go too far!

Warning: Behind this cut, Richard waxes poetic about babies. )
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Oh joy, another villain chapter. It's been 170 pages and Kahlan is still, I don't know, waiting at the bus stop, but we're not missing a single second of the bad guy being evil. So Brogan accosts a duchess and casts magic on her by means of Ye Olde Snappe.

I cast her gnomon into a sunless glen,
and pull this soul beyond its umbra's ken.


I never knew magic owed so much to bad Scrabble hands. Anyway, using nipple magic... which is of course magic that can only be detected by checking a woman's nipples, so it should probably have stayed in either a Benny Hill sketch or an 80s sex comedy.


Not to be confused with Pain Slut Cheerleader, which of course inspired the character of Cara.

So Brogan puts the duchess under mind control and then gives her to one of his men to rape, since he's too boring to have a single redeeming characteristic. And on top of a garbage heap at that, just for that extra touch of class. Because I guess you can't be a fanatical witch-hunter and also respect women.
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So with Brogan gone, the Mord'Sith suggest castrating him and have a good chuckle over it. Dohohohoh, they have a good time there at the People's Palace. And, you know, why not? He's obviously evil. He's been abducting people right there, in that very city. Just talk to one of them, find out they've been tortured, and boom, you're done. Or just search his hide-out. You've got an army; delegate!

But Richard is all "give peace a chance," so nada. He also tells one of the generals to make sure the men don't loot the city, causing yet another person to call-out Richard. Man, it's painful knowing this won't lead anywhere.

"Don't you understand? This isn't about conquering lands and taking things from others; just ordering lands to surrender and demanding a tribute, totally different! this is about fighting oppression."

The general rested a boot on the gilded rung of a chair and hooked a thumb behind his wide belt.
They use gold on the chairs? Seems uncomfortable. "I don't see much difference. From my experience, the Master Rahl always thinks he knows best, and always wants to rule the world. You are your father's son. War is war. Reasons make no difference to us; we fight because we are told to, same as those on the other side. Reasons mean little to a man swinging his sword, trying to keep his head."

Richard rebuttals that they have the strength of ten men (err, armies) because their hearts are pure. He goes on about how if they act honorably, then people will join them willingly instead of submitting to conquest… which, again, doesn't seem to square that well with ordering people to surrender to his New World Order.


If you're not with us, then you're with Sting!

The general says he hopes that they can live in peace once they're done with all the killing, but it's a fantasy book series, so don't start investing in a time-share, bro. And then suddenly things get awesome, because guess what bitches? It turns out

THIS IS A CARA CHAPTER.


Pictured: my heart.

I'm just gonna block-quote this shit. )
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Okay, so Richard and Brogan have a one-on-one, and for some reason Richard has no idea that the Blood of the Fold hate magic. I can see how they would be Villains With Good Publicity, but even in a medieval setting, how could word not spread about their basic philosophy? They're not a secret society, they have an army and their whole deal is hating on magic. It'd be like someone thinking the Salvation Army is tasked with hunting vampires.

Anyway, Brogan tries to shake Richard down for information on Kahlan, but thanks to magic, everyone has forgotten about Kahlan. Ah, the Lacey Chabert Spell. Cunning. Everyone instead thinks that Kahlan is dead, but since Kahlan is also a princess… yes, really… she's just taken up as Queen of Galea.

nno

Pictured: canon.
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So Brogan and his sister, Magic McCrazyPants, are going to the party where they see the Mriswith Richard staked up earlier. I would've just gone with lawn gnomes myself. Blah blah, unreliable narrator. Finally Richard shows up, con entourage, and… well, it's a long speech, but I'll translate it into Patrick Swayzese.


Like this, only with geopolitics.

Basically, he's forming a benevolent dictatorship to go against the Imperial Order and if people don't like it, tough. Of course, Brogan gets a little war-boner over how awesome Richard is.

Tobias had seen eyes like this before. This was a man who would jump headlong over a cliff to come after you.

You know, I don't have a problem with Richard's character or intelligence (even if it is fun to riff on now and again), but those of you who do, feel free!

Richard also tells McCrazyPants that her crappy dress is the prettiest, which means he's either showing that social status doesn't mean squat to him or that he's fantastically condescending. Then he goes on to talk about how magic isn't evil, despite what the Imperial Order and the Blood of the Fold think, and naturally, someone protests that magic is totes evil. Totes, I say! Richard replies…

"A child, come anew into the world, is magic. Would you call that evil?"

And that puts us at Defcon 4 on the Cara Mason Incredulity Scale.


"The song Magic by the band Pilot… would you call that evil?"

More speechifying, and man, there is a time for the inspiring statements of intent and it is not every other page. It boils down to "killing babies? Not cool, Imperial Order." Naturally, someone calls him on his plan to conquer the world to save the world, saying that was pretty much Darken Rahl's MO. Richard, of course, replies that he doesn't want to rule the world, but it's the only way to attain peace. Which was… also Darken Rahl's MO. Anyway, this goes on for A WHILE. I had no idea you could use this many words to say "If you're not with me, you're against me." Also, I should note that one of the ways Richard sets himself apart from Darken Rahl is that he doesn't torture his enemies or kill innocent people. Remember that a few books from now, because Richard won't.

ETA: Does anyone else think it's weird that a series all about the evils of Communism has the moral message of "the ends justify the means"? I'm reminded of a Gladiator parody where Maximus said "I will kill whoever I have to get what I want" and Commodus is like "Exactly!"
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Chapter 10

More villainy. Ho-hum. Our Big Bad gets in arguments with old ladies and proves that he was always picked last for debate team. Because smart villains are for Commies!

Basically, he figures out that Kahlan faked her death with magic. You know that scene in Inglorious Bastards where Hans Landa figures out there are Jews hiding in a house? Well, imagine that scene if the farmer were serving him milk and all the time going "Man, them Jews love them some hiding. Why, you could say there are Jews right under the floorboards!"

Chapter 11

Still more villainy. Apparently, the D'Harans spent two hours doing devotionals to Richard, which I feel would've been a good time to exercise his new casual, hands-off managerial style. I'm sure even the Tea Party doesn't pledge allegiance for more than ten minutes. Maybe the difference between him and the evil Darken Rahl is that Richard allowed potty breaks.

Newly-crowned Richard also invites Brogan, the villain with the dubious accent, to a party. Maybe he intends to show him a be-movie. Hey, if Goodkind can keep this up, so can I. Brogan is all het up to go to magic nun las vegas and figure out the magic that's hiding the Mother Confessor, but Richard is swinging his army-dick and man, Brogan isn't fighting his way past an army just to get out of going to a party, not unless it's an MTV Movie Awards after-party or something.

Oh, and Brogan's men are torturing an old lady and a little girl. You know, it's hard to tell with all the moral ambiguity and shades of gray in this book, but I think they may be the antagonists.
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So Cara goes for a walk. There are no survivors.

Nah, it's Richard going, with his Mord'Sith, the boy-bodyguards, and Gratch, driving everyone into a panic. Of course, Cara is used to people screaming when she's out in public, so coo-coo.


Like this, only cooler, because Cara > elephants.

By the way, if you're bored of Richard and his awesomesauce posse going around impressing people, set yourself in for the long haul. There is less entouraging in the show Entourage than in this book.

They visit the local D'Harans, who are presently on the side of Jagang like I told you, and the Mord'Sith deliver the message "bow down, bitch," and I guess the bodyguards say "you got served." Or maybe it's like The Last Dragon and Richard's going "Ain't I the prettiest?" and the Mord'Sith go "Sho nuff!" Either way, it's very impressive, especially since Richard uses his invisibility cloak to show-off his magic. The General is still playa-hating, so the Mord'Sith give him some straight-up Agiel. But even so, the cloak plan goes to shit. Shoulda let Cara work something up. She came up with Operation Cleavage in Princess, you'll remember.

Anyway, fight scene, pow! The bodyguards practice saying "you just got knocked the fuck out!" while Cara and co. cut bitches. Some mriswith bust in too, and Richard takes them on. After killing them, the general buys that he's the Lord Rahl.


How conveeeeenient…

Richard is a little disgusted with his own evil overlordness… enjoy it while it lasts, folks… but he goes with it. One of the Mord'Sith has died, though. Richard bucks tradition to give her a funeral with full honors and screw the devotionals! Because if there's one thing the Mord'Sith hate, it's tradition, so she'd probably appreciate that.

Cara, probably thinking about how lame it is to have a boss who also wants to be your pal, like, c'mon man, just let me do my job and cut me my check, tells Richard that Hally would've wanted to die protecting Richard and he replies "I'm 3-1 and I plan on keeping it that way!" Or words to that effect.

ETA: Calvin & Hobbes FTW.
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The woman in the lead pushed back her hood, letting her long blond hair, plaited in a single thick braid, fall free. Her blue eyes searched the wall where he stood.

"Lord Rahl? Lord Rahl, where…"

Richard blinked. "Cara?"




Then Gratch shows up to totally kill my buzz, but before Cara can be introduced by killing a flying bear, Richard stops the fight and so it turns out that pretty much everyone there is trying to protect Richard.

Cara's all smiley over Richard's invisibility cloak (probably because it will make it easier for him to disappear when she wants to screw Kahlan) and it turns out she came up with the plan to pretend to be bad guys to get Richard out of trouble. And she didn't say anything like "I'll give those guards something to guard against!" before doing it, either.

With a "mischievous smile"… man, Bookverse!Cara needs to watch the Valium… Cara introduces her bitches, Hally, Berdine, and Raina, and she explains the bond between the Lord Rahl and D'Harans. Basically, magic Twitter. Naturally, we get about half a dozen pages about this. Long story short: Richard is the magic against magic and everyone else is the steel against steel. Cara, of course, is the awesome against less awesome. She keeps dweebs and lamers out of Richard's way. Richard is all "but I don't know any magic!" and Cara is just "bitch, LEARN."

Even longer story short: Although a lot of the D'Harans are bonded to Richard, some of them don't have D'Haran blood and are wimps. Luckily, the Mord'Sith have brought a document from a high D'Haran muckety-muck saying "relax, this guy's cool." And if a commander is bonded to Richard, then his men are usually bonded as well, which makes the whole thing sound like a video game. Kinda like an RTS game meets a dating sim? Between missions, you have to convince generals of the rightness of your cause in an exciting mini-game! "Richard Rahl, I'll only follow you if you can beat me at golf!" No, really, Richard has to demonstrate his magic to get this general on his side. It'll probably be a QTE in the video game.

Richard says "Hally, I could kiss you!" and Hally shuts him down because they don't have idioms at Pain-Loving Leather-Clad Assassin School, before going "j/k, what's a little rape between friends?" Richard shuts himself down, because the only moral difference between him and Jagang is going to be their opinions on consent, so he'd better keep that going. Then he tells the Mord'Sith they need to change into their red leather outfits for his plan… I don't know, maybe we should let Cara do the plans from now on, she's shown a real aptitude for it… but they keep him in the room because they must protect him (he turns his back, natch). This is going to get awkward when he needs to pee. And talk about your mixed signals. "Lord Rahl, you have freed us, we don't have to have sex with you anymore. Now wait here while we change clothes!" Which wave of feminism is that, three and a half?
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Chapter 7

Richard gets lost in the big city, inspiring the classic film Babe 2: Pig In The City, and misses Kahlan. Then we get a rant on Communism or welfare or some damn thing. Look, if Communism worked, we'd all be speaking Russian, but ffs, get on with it, man. We're coming up on a hundred pages and there's not been one leather-clad bisexual dominatrix.

Richard also runs afoul of some soldiers, who are mean, making the 'boo welfare state' thing even more pointless. Do we really need two scenes pointing out that the bad guys are bad? The book is already so heavy that they won't let you on an airplane with it because they're worried it'll be used as a deadly weapon. Also, the evil soldiers have an accent that mainly consists of shoving "be" in every sentence like Puff Daddy sampling a song. Richard nearly gets himself tortured to death by snarking at the soldiers, and it's not even snark good enough to be worth dying for, but then some D'Harans step in and say "man, we got this." Ruh-roh! Looks like trouble for everyone's favorite Seeker besides Harry Potter!
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Chapter 4

Villain chapter! Okay, so there's this bunch of witch-hunters or whatever who hate magic and their leader has this sister with magic but he's using her to find other magic? Interesting enough, but four chapters and no Cara? Talk about burying the lead.

Chapter 5

SISTER VERNA, GODDAMNIT, I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE PAIN-LOVING BISEXUAL ASSASSINS IN RED LEATHER, WTF IS WITH THESE MAGIC NUNS?

So they're at the funeral of Nathan Rahl (just… don't ask) and the Prelate, who is obviously still alive since nothing could kill someone with such a cunning hat.


Lady Gaga: 2050

Verna and Warren, this guy who was studying to be a wizard and totally got gypped on being the Hermione to Richard's Harry, trade some bald-faced exposition out of respect for the dead who might not have been paying any attention.

She chuckled. "I miss Richard, too."

An easy grin brightened his face. "Really? He was a rare person, wasn't he? I can hardly believe that he was able to prevent the Keeper from escaping the underworld, but he had to have stopped the spirit of his father, and returned the Stone of Tears to its rightful place, or we would all have been swallowed by the dead. To tell the truth, I was in a cold sweat the whole of winter solstice."


"You mean Richard Cypher, the guy who's in love with Kahlan but can't do her because her magic would claim his soul, but then he did it anyway because he loves her so much the magic can't make him love her more?"

"The very same!"

Verna flirts with Warren a little, but because of this whole temporal anomaly thing he's young enough to be her son, and the idea of MILF hunting won't be invented for a thousand years, so that's out. Magical cock-blocking: A proud tradition in the Midlands!

Now the Sisters of the Light need to choose a new prelate… "Whoever pulls this ruler from the stone will be the new prelate of the Sisters!"… and Warren tells her they can't let whoever is chosen be a Sister of the Dark. Well, duh. Can you imagine? The new curriculum would probably have to "teach the controversy" of the Keeper being evil. "Are we so sure the dead rising to destroy all life is a bad thing? It's only a theory!"

Also, Emperor Jagang is coming… sometime… so his men are doing one huge drumroll to mark his arrival. Man, when he gets there, he'd better do the mother of all pratfalls to justify that. Everyone is ominous'd out by the drums, especially since Jagang might not arrive for months yet and the drums will keep up. However, they tolerate it because the drums aren't vuvuzelas.

We close the chapter on a guard running up to Verna and telling her she's need. Quickly, Warren, to the nun-mobile! Supernun awaaaaay!

Chapter 6

NUUUUUUN POLITICS! Interesting note: In the book, apparently the Creator is male? That's a pretty interesting change in TVverse canon. Almost like they were working overtime to make the canon more feminist.

OH LOL. I know I was joking about the ruler in the stone, but as it turns out, the Prelate's ring of office is stuck in a light web which only the one true Prelate can get out. That's like one of those sci-fi versions of a classic story. "Space Romeo, how dare you come here after killing RoboMercutio!"

So yeah, Verna's the new Prelate. She's all reluctant hero about it, but Warren is like "dude, big pimpin'." After, like, ten tries, Verna gets Warren to stop calling her Prelate and, though being Prelate will hinder the death-worshiper investigation, they have no choice but to go through with it.
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So Richard manages to defeat the Mriswith… yeah, spoiler, he doesn't die on page twenty-five of a six-hundred-page book… with some help from good ol' Gratch. It turns out the Mriswith can talk, just in time for Richard to interrogate them and find out Jagang sent them. So Jagang's got the Imperial Order, the Sisters of the Dark, the Blood of the Fold, the D'Harans, AND the Mriswith on Richard's ass? I bet he also e-mailed him Lost spoilers.


"Six years to find out it's just a fucking magic island? Assholes!"

With the Mriswith all dead, Richard calms down Gratch's berserker rage, leading to a touching scene.

Tears welling in his eyes, Gratch crushed Richard to his chest.

"Grrratch luuug Raaaach aaarg."

Patting the gar's back, Richard struggled to get air into his lungs. "I love you too, Gratch."


Magnificent.

The rest is mainly recapping of what's gone before, although it's not that helpful for those of us playing catch-up. I had to check the Wikipedia page. But anyway, Richard tells his guys to chop off the Mriswiths' heads and stick them on pikes outside the Confessor's Palace to buy them some time. I can only imagine how Kahlan is going to feel about this when she gets back. "I leave to fulfill a prophecy and not only do you throw a party, but I come back to find the decapitated heads of invisible lizard people on my front step?"

That done, Richard vows to 'give the Dream Walker nightmares,' which puts us at Defcon 2 on the Cara Mason Incredulity Scale.


"Dream Walker sounds like a song by Stryper."
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Yeah, so, this is the third book of the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, and would've formed the basis for the third season of Legend of the Seeker if/when the series continued. Take it away...

Backstory: Remember those few episodes where Richard had to go to a nunnery to learn magic from magic nuns? You remember, with The Seahawk of Casual Sex??? Well, in the second book, that was pretty much the entire plot, with a lot more characters and shit. But they got rid of all that to focus on Cara's feelings, so it all worked out. Anyway, Richard had to go off and leave Kahlan, because I guess she couldn't go with him for some reason even though that would make things much simpler for everyone, and at the nunnery there were some evil magic nuns who served the Keeper instead of the Creator. I guess under the feeling that it's worse to serve in heaven than to... serve in hell.

So their evil plan for Richard went awry (I think it involved sex. Did it involve sex? Pretty sure...) and now they're on a boat (not Penny's). They all wake up from a nightmare of Emperor Jagang torturing a different Sister of the Dark for her failure, sort of a Chaotic Evil pep talk. In the process, he grabbed one of the Sister's breasts hard enough to leave bruises, thus ensuring a complaint from the HR Department of the Damned. So the ladies, who all happen to sleep in the nude -- is that an evil thing? Is that why so many annoying celebrities go commando? -- get up to turn the ship around and go where Jagang ordered them, not even bothering to get dressed. I'll tell them what I told my dad, there's always time for pants. Naturally, the sailors respond to six naked ladies like sailors, so one of the SotD uses magic to gouge some eyeballs out. Feminists, man.

Meanwhile, in generic fantasy name, Richard and his pet gar, who he raked his brain to name Gratch, are eating spice soup. How's spice soup work anyway? Soups are named after the chief ingredient. By their very nature, spice is someone you add to a soup, not the main soupy bit. Why not 'salt soup' or 'bits of saltine cracker soup'?

Oh, yeah, Richard killed the mother of this baby gar (it's like a bear with wings. That sound you heard is every one of you making a Stephen Colbert reference in your head at the same time) and then he took the baby and raised it as his personal attack dog and Jesus, when I put it that way it sounds really bad. So, tl;dr, Richard is a Pokemon master.


Fact: Cara isn't kept in a Pokeball. The rest of the world is kept outside a Pokeball.

Some exposition goes down, along with some annoying Mary-Sueness from Kahlan... who as a child stole a roasted duck to give to a beggar woman. The beggar then yelled at her for not giving her gold, which I'm pretty sure is a joke from Scary Movie? So Kahlan's mother told her that if you help someone, they become your responsibility, so then Kahlan spent the entire day helping the woman find a job. I guess the moral is never help anyone ever? Huh. Odd story.

Then some invisible lizard people in capes attack (look, it's the third book, and not all the plot points can be 'bisexual dominatrix assassins in skintight leather') and Richard goes...

"Dance with me, Death. I am ready," Richard murmured [...] With the words came an instinctive understanding of their meaning: it was a morning prayer, meant to say that you could die this day, so you should strive to do your best while you still live.

That's why I say "Hang in there, kitty," when I charge into battle. Cliff hanga!

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