What You Ought to Do is Sing

Magic Hollow 

 It had been kind of a weird day! Minerva had woken to find every little bit of metal in her bedroom had gathered around her body while she slept. There was nothing like rolling into consciousness with a doorknob, drawer pulls, a hundred bobby pins, and other miscellaneous items clinging to one's person! From there, various bizarre but largely minor things had happened - her cereal spoon curling in on itself in her hand, her house key breaking down the middle, one of her rings launching itself from her finger and disappearing in the horse pasture. This didn't usually happen!?!

 By the time she arrived to the haunted house parking lot, things seemed to have settled down. Way down, actually, because whenever she got to feeling brave and thought she might try a little metal trick, nothing happened at all. Her eyes didn't even change color in the mirror. It was hard to decide whether her magic working strangely or not at all was scarier.

 Still! On the bright side, this was going to be a fun adventure. Minerva sat in her car and texted Ashley to alert her to her arrival, and would sit there in waiting for a response, not quite brave enough to go stand out in the darkness alone.

She'd decided on a black t-shirt and jeans after an hour of panicking entirely because no one could see your armpit sweat marks in a black shirt.

Which was great, because she was absolutely armpit sweating on the drive over. Nothing in this haunted house could hurt her, she knew. But she was at great risk for embarrassing herself!

She rubbed her palms on her denimed thighs before stepping out of the car, parked thankfully very close to her friend.

"Hi!" she greeted simply, all smiled and one hand thumbing briefly at her cross.

This was going to be fine. Really. She felt a little better already just seeing Minerva.

 Ah! There she was! Minerva all but rolled out of the Subaru, half-expecting her power to suddenly break her door handle or something. Yet, silence remained on that front! She grinned toothily at Ashley and locked her door behind her. "Hey!" The greeted would be accompanied with the silent offer of a hug, and if Ashley would let her go in for it she'd give her a quick squeeze! "Gosh I have butterflies in my stomach already," she confessed with a giggle as they started to walk. Up ahead, sPoOkY sounds emitted from the haunted house, which looked a lot like several tin-sided sheds smooshed together. Very creepy, if you asked Minerva.

Ashley would absolutely take a hug and wonder if Minerva could tell she was panicked for every second of it.

But probably not because it was a quick friend hug, and she broke into a grin as Minerva admitted her own nerves.

"Me too," she said, looking ahead. "I will try not to grab on to you, but, like. No promises. Maybe this'll be nicer because it's their trial run before Halloween."

And then someone shrieked inside, as if to prove proooobably not!

 Ashley shared her own sense of nervousness, and Minerva felt grateful that it wasn't just her. Why would it be! She giggled for the promise and warning all in one, shaking her head as they wandered up to the line. The shriek from inside elicited another laugh from her.

 "I miiight grab you," she said softly, grinning dumbly. "Or at least walk really close to you." There was a faint worry that maybe that wasn't okay to do or say but also she trusted Ashley to probably tell her if that was the case! Still, she'd grab her own cross too and sort of tug on it, nerves accumulating.

Nervous! They were both nervous! But it was a safe kind of nervous, Ash told herself. This was by people did things like this. It was fun, right?


She glanced over, noticing Minerva's hand on her cross. Ash pondered for a few seconds before...

"I saw a. Talking dog the other day. And when I was near it, my cross lit up."

 Ashley spoke up, and the conversation was an unexpected one! But it was not unfamiliar. Minerva's eyes lit up some, as if they were sharing juicy gossip - which, really, they were. "Dude," she whispered, tone a mix of eager and conspiratorial as she leaned in. "I've met a dog like that." She thought of Marybeth, and considered how she could manage to respect her privacy and also share pertinent information.

 "Apparently some vampires can turn into animals. Like dogs and birds." She thought of Whitewing, too, but her cross never glowed around him! He was an unexplained mystery. Suddenly, under her grasp, the little crucifix curled sharply around her finger! Very tightly! "Ah!" she exclaimed, but was still whispery, staring down at it with an expression of exasperation. "Why!"

Whoa! What?

Ash barely had time to say anything because something way, way weirder happen. Her eyebrows rose, and she gave a little gasp.

"Wh- are you just really strong?" she half-laughed, briefly so startled that she didn't even consider Minerva's power.

 Ashley would initially only get a panicked sort of laugh as a response. "Uh!" she began, and tried to focus on making it come undone and go back to the way it was supposed to be. "No, I just - have been struggling like this all day," she confessed, with more nervous laughter, realizing her eyes were probably being real purple right now. She focused very hard on staring at the cross and trying to tug her finger free. "Okay, whatever, this is fine!" Said when her attempts were all in vain, and just closed her hand around the pendant and smiled.

The line moved forward, and Ashley inched along, but it was near impossible for her not to want to solve this problem now. It was hard to tell in dim, spooky lighting how tight the cross was, but clearly it was enough that it didn't come off easily.

"It's no big deal," she said gently, a small smile in her voice. "I've had stuff acting up too, lately."

Not today, but in general. And maybe she... had a power she wasn't entirely sure of yet.

"We have time before we get in if you want to focus and see if you can take it off."

 Jeez, what was scarier, this or the haunted house! A recurring thought. She chuckled nervously again. Ashley had been experiencing power malfunctions too lately! That made her feel better, sort of. Well, not really. That sucked for Ashley.

 The cross had warped so tightly that she almost could not move her finger around in its grip. It pulled on her skin when she twisted it, and she sighed, exasperated. "Ugh! Can you undo the clasp for me?" Maybe it would be easier, somehow, if she could just not have her hand stuck to her chest.

 "What's been happening to you?" Keeping her voice low, hyper aware of the crowd around them. "Or. I mean. I guess we could talk about it later if you want!" Or now! Or later! She struggled to think clearly right now, oops.

That Ash could definitely do. Minerva was a good bit taller, but she rose on her toes slightly to grasp the clasp and release it. Definitely better to have it loose than attached to her finger and her neck, gosh.

Her own voice fell as Minerva's did, and she glanced ahead at the line as it crept along. This was suddenly much scarier when Minerva was, like, trapped by her necklace?!

"So I kept getting these mystery nosebleeds. And then... animals started acting weird around me? About the same time. But only water ones. It's really strange."

 There was, at least, some relief to having the necklace taken from her neck! She thanked Ashley with a shaky little smile, staring at the other girl as she listened raptly. But also twisted at the pendant clinging to her finger.

 Animals acting strangely around her while her nose bled! Whoa! That was super mysterious! "Whoa," she said lowly, eyes wide. "Nose bleeds are like... your thing right?" Like her magic thing, but Minerva was pretty maxed out on her bravery tonight, so she wouldn't say that word.

 Suddenly, the necklace popped off her finger! It felt like it had tried to take skin with it - it didn't, thankfully - and she would hiss and sigh as she stuffed the darn thing in her purse. She just wasn't gonna think about that right now!

She nodded.

"Definitely my thing," she breathed, maybe a little tiredly. Nosebleeds did not get more fun over time. She spent so much time blowing dried blood from her nose. And feeling lightheaded.

Not that she was totally complaining. Ashley had incredible power, and she thought back to Agostina calling her an angel.

And then Minerva was free! She felt some relief in her shoulders and considered taking off her own neck before deciding that seemed... rude.

"Maybe it's all Friday the 13th stuff."

Even though hers had happened well before then.

 Wow! Maybe Ashley had some other power she didn't know about! Minerva was far from connecting any of the right dots, though - her only experience in animals getting weird was that one lady who had made Dude crazy angry and then hurt herself with the silver ore in the woods. Was Ashley a Were person???

 Wait, no. She'd undone her necklace and didn't cry out in pain or anything. Duh.

 "Ohhhh," she responded, eyes wide again. "Maybe so!" As if Ashley had just stumbled upon a likely theory for an ancient mystery. Her eyes wandered back to the haunted house. "Spoooooky." This said with a giggle, making light of it, even though she was privately very close to totally convinced!

 Minerva was tempted to go back to the vampire conversation, but suddenly, they were being ushered up to the front of the line as the people ahead of them went inside! She could hear the revving of some kind of engine, like a chain saw probably, and ghoulish cackling. HEART RATE SPIKE!!! Thankfully, this was not accompanied by any metallic antics.

Ashley's mind was also on the vampire conversation, and she wrung her hands a little as they became very much next in line. There was no way any of this could hurt them. It was just... mind stuff. No one could actually hurt them. It was fine. It was fine!

"So how did you find out about the... animal... vampire thing?" she asked softly, and then suddenly the doors were opening to a dimly lit hallway and oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh.

She gave a little squeak as she stepped in, and all it took was a light breeze brushing her hair on the way in for her to jump a few inches.

Good start!

 How did she find out? Minerva scraped together the beginnings of her tale as they were beckoned forth, and as promised, she walked very close to Ashley. Close enough to touch shoulders and maybe impede her ability to walk in a straight line! When Ashley jumped, so did Minerva, and she immediately let out a reflexive giggle.

 "So I was walking to my car after class one night, and I tripped and fell on the sidewalk," she began, talking fast and peering around the dark room, unable to keep the story short and sweet, especially in this state of nervousness! "And this little pug-kinda dog came running up to me! She was being really cute, bringing me some papers I had dropped."

 An employee in a dark, "blood" spattered costume stepped from the shadows and made a sound that Minnie could only describe as a bark. No touching, but definitely close enough that she grabbed Ashley's arm and sort of shrunk against her with her eyes squeezed shut hurryhurrygo!

 "And she saw where I'd scraped myself and she said "ow!"" Talking faster now and through panicky laughter. "And eventually she told me she wasn't actually a dog but a vampire who turns into a dog and there are more like her but she was really nice."

That was... crazy. And it was also hard to properly respond because she was leaning right back into Minerva,

But. A pug had just talked to her? And been friendly?! Also there was BLOOD and actually, that wasn't super scary for someone like Ashley.

The atmosphere was spooky enough, though, and she yipped as the chainsaw she'd heard before appeared, hooking an arm with Minerva's to try to escape in a hurry.

It was a short-lived scare, but her heart raced, and she tried to spit out words that made sense.

"The one I met wasn't nice! A big mean- snarly German Shepard!"

She sounded excited about it because her blood was all adrenaline!

 Chainsaw time!! Minnie shrieked, a high pitched sound that dove into mad giggling as the girls linked arms and dashed onward! She strained her ears for Ashley's response, and might have exclaimed about how unfortunate that was - she couldn't imagine the fright of meeting an unfriendly german shepherd vampire - but would be cut short! Almost literally! As the chainsaw that had roared at them several feet back was suddenly ripped from the house employee's hands and sailed toward them!

 It was fortunate that the chainsaw was without blades for safety reasons! But still it was very unfortunate that the rogue chainsaw should go flying for the backs of Ashley's knees as if it had a very important meeting on the other end of the haunted house.

There were different kinds of screams you could hear in a place like this.

A giddy, laughed shriek. A startled yell. A wail of discontent.

But as something struck Ashley hard, very hard, in the back of her knees, the scream was a very honest one. This moment broke the rules as she had come to accept them. This was a scary place, but nothing could touch her. Nothing could hurt her.

This did both, and her legs naturally gave way to send her tumbling forward, gripping in primal fear to Minerva and, unfortunately, likely taking her down too. Her hands struck cheap wooden floor panels, and the whimper that followed made her confusion and greater feelings very clear:

This had suddenly stopped being fun.

 Minerva was immediately disoriented, hollering and falling down with Ashley so quickly that her brain didn't know what planet they were on for a second. She realized something had struck Ashley, at least, but what or when or how badly was lost on her as her world spun back into some semblance of understanding. The ground hurt!

 "Are you okay??" The question came in more of the same panicky fashion, Minerva twisting to look Ashley over - she didn't seem to be mortally wounded, which was nice and all, but this was still freaky.

 There were less pleasant cries down the path ahead, and over the sound of confused voices was the metallic wobble wobble sound, like flimsy sheet metal being shaken by hand. Then, it was a lot less tolerable, like fingernails down the side of a car, as the tin siding began to break loose from the spooky sheds, pulling screws free with them.

 Probably time to go now!!!

Neither of them had signed up for this. Ashley tried not to cry often, especially in front of other people, but she couldn't help it in this moment. Her face heat up, her vision threatening to blur. But this was not a time for lying on the ground like a startled child. The sounds ahead were a different kind of scary. If these were sound effects, they had to be award winning.

She pushed herself up on to her hands and knees, having heard the question but finding herself unable to respond to it.

"Go!" she screamed, and she would feel bad about it later, because she was the reason they weren't going in the first place, and Minerva knew better, and it was all deeply scary in a way that left her tasting the fear.

Ash could feel cuts at the backs of her knees. Nothing that would threaten her, not really, but enough to further inspire the sense that this wasn't a joke. She found her feet, and whether Minerva was leading the way or she was, she'd push toward the way they'd come in, feeling very small and vulnerable in a space that itself seemed to keep shrinking around them by the second.

 Go okay!! Minerva would sort of gracelessly scramble to her feet and bolt after Ashley with heavy breaths, still more shocked than anything else.

 Outside, more people had gathered for refuge from the actual terror happening inside and outside. The lights would all come on as employees and patrons alike left the building. The pieces of tin siding had balled themselves up, several feet away from the wooden bones of the sheds, leaving cotton candy pink insulation revealed. Screws littered the earth. Realization struck Minerva. She never should have left the house!

 For now, she would say nothing to incriminate herself. When it seemed they were safe, though, she would sort of paw guiltily at Ashley and ask again, breathless, "You okay?"

She felt embarrassment trickling in as they made it out and everything was... fine.

Scary. But fine. She gave a little nod, feeling like she'd made a big deal over nothing. Ashley twisted a little to look at the backs of her legs, finding one rude, clumsy cut in her pantleg. She could feel the sting, but it wasn't really worth even looking at.

"Yeah," she said a little belatedly. "Sorry I yelled at you."

A slight sniffle, and she smeared away whatever was at her nose (thankfully, not blood) before looking sheepishly to Minerva.

"Are you?"

 "It’s okay," she said quickly, immediately forgiving her. That was just the way fear made people sometimes! If Ashley would allow her, Minerva would reach a hand for her shoulder in an attempt to be reassuring. "I’m okay!" Quieter, she added, "I think uhhh. I think I did that." Way to ruin the fun MINERVA

Everything was okay. Everyone was okay. It was so unlike Ashley to freak out like that, and the shame of it lingered.

She was distracted, at least, by something she should have realized. Ashley's eyes widened, and she glanced back to the haunted house all lit up and... cheap looking for it. Patrons continued to file out, looking shaken by it all.

"Whoa," she said softly. "You're... really powerful."

Spoken with awe in place of fear, at least right now.

 Minerva smiled sheepishly, almost sad. She didn’t feel powerful - she was feeling pretty out of control! She just sort of... laughed uncertainly.

 "I woke up with my bedroom door knob on my pillow," she squeaked, with another laugh. She wasn’t sure why she said that except to explain how bizarre the day had been. "Maybe it is Friday the thirteenth. Gosh I’m so sorry I got you into this mess!"

A doorknob on her pillow! How did a doorknob even come loose? Did it get ripped out of the door?

Gosh. Ashley marveled but also felt some sense of concern. What other metal things were in her house? In the walls? Could she... pull supports down by accident?

"You don't have to be sorry at all," she insisted. "You didn't know this would happen. That's all so... crazy!"

And made her dumb nosebleeds seem ridiculous in comparison.

"Do you feel any different? After it happens?"

 Ashley insisted it was okay! But Minerva was still feeling a steady pulse of guilt. She had known her ability was behaving strangely today. She should have called this haunted house thing off, but it had just been too tempting for a fun time. Her wibbly smile persisted.

 "I get really tired. I have gotten a nosebleed from it once," she said with a little laugh, as if there was some solidarity to be found in that. "But usually it just makes me feel weird and fatigued if I use it too much." She had never pushed it very far once those sort of feelings set in. What if using it too much could literally kill her? That was a new and scary thought!

 She was feeling scattered right now, but the weariness had yet to set in over her thundering heart.

Gosh. Did Minerva feel weird and fatigued now? Asking it felt like it might jinx things. Ash brought a hand to her necklace, then decided very quickly against that, just in case it might grab on to her hand too.


"Maybe we can just go on a walk around a bit and see how you feel?" she suggested. Driving home seemed dangerous given that cars were made of metal.

And to think Ashley had been complaining about nose bleeds.

 "Uhh that's probably a good idea," she agreed with a nervous little chuckle. "I was going to suggest going to get something to eat but." She'd leave it at that, suggesting that such was a bad idea! This should probably be the last public place she went to until she figured out what the heck was happening here.

 "Tell me more about your water animals," she requested gently as they started off, still riding high on nerves! The crash was inevitable at this point, she figured, but when it would hit was a mystery.

Oh, food was probably a good idea? Maybe after a walk. But Minerva's question was suitably distracting, and she gave a somewhat shy shrug as she fell into explanation.

"Oh, it's... kind of silly, but. I was at the aquarium. Looking at jellyfish. And all of the sudden I realized they were spelling out..."

She drew it out with a finger in the air.

"'Hi.' Like really clearly. And then my nose started bleeding."

 Jittery feelings would be shuffled off in favor of listening intently to Ashley's explanation, and her eyebrows rose up in astonishment! Jellyfish! Spelling hi!

 "What!" was all she could say at first, in the sort of sharp whisper that people did when they were excited but trying to be quiet. "Dude, that's - wow! Like... maybe you're an actual aqua man!" Ha, ha. "Or. Aqua girl." Ashley the Fish Whisperer!!

It was hard not to grin. She scuffed one foot as they walked a slow amble to nowhere in particular. Away from the haunted house where the ghost had turned out to sort of be Minerva!

"It's all pretty silly so far," she said. "None of the other animals seemed to feel much. The jellyfish kind of bunched up together at the glass next to me until I left the room. I don't think jellyfish are smart enough to do any of that, so it would have to be like... my brain making them do it? Without me realizing?"

Why would her brain make jellyfish greet her?

 Silly! Minerva didn't think it was silly! She might have interjected to say as much, but she was respectfully listening instead. It was pretty exciting, if you asked Minnie. She grinned crookedly. "Yeah, my brain does metal stuff without my permission sometimes too," she said with some sort of dry humor, gesturing loosely behind them. "Still, that's super cool! Have you, like... thought about ways to test it? Like going to the lake or something?"

That was a good idea. In fact, she knew that was possible. But.

Ashley wibbled over what came next, uncertain if it was too open or not. But Minerva had been very honest with her, and she didn't seem the type to judge. So.

"I should," she said. "I think it... freaks me out a little. When I was learning healing, I really only ever did it on purpose. This being so out of control scares me. I had to get a... blood transfusion a while back, I think from it going crazy, and I'm still paying it off."

The last bit came with an honest but nervous laugh.

 Ashley suddenly went a little deeper with what really concerned her about this! Minerva's face blossomed into a look of surprise and concern, and she resisted the urge to grab Ashley's arm again and even to hug her. Wow!! "Oh my gosh that's so scary wow," she blurted, especially about having a blood transfusion! She couldn't even imagine! "That makes sense though - not wanting to like, exacerbate that or anything."

 The eerie but unmistakable sound of tires whining against pavement would suddenly reach them. It wasn't sharp, like someone slamming on their brakes or accelerating too hard - it was a very soft, inconsistent pattern of squeaks. Eee, ee, ee! From the parking lot, a newer-looking car was creeping towards them - there was no driver, no lights, not even a turn to the tires. Just a thousand pound car being dragged across the lot.

 Minerva stared dumbly at it, purple-eyed and shocked, as if she wasn't sure this could actually get any worse.

It was comforting in one sense, a little scary in another. Acknowledgement that it was definitely frightening.

But then there was a distraction, a new version of a previous one, and Ashley looked to the sound wide-eyed. It took her a moment to actually spot where it was coming from, if in part because it felt so... absurd.

And yet it was there, undeniably, scooted along as if prodded by some giant hand.

"Maybe let's... move further from it."

How was Minerva going to get home?

 Minerva sometimes just felt like a sentient magnet!! This was not great. She nodded a bit floppily for Ashley's suggestion, and would make to shuffle away, in any direction, but felt a steadily-mounting unease. What if this car followed her slowly for the rest of her life?

 The screeching became steadier, like someone trying to stop just a little too hard, but for... a long time. The car dragged sadly towards them at a slightly faster rate, and as Minerva spotted it, it made her jump slightly, very startled! "No! Why! Stay!" This as she sort of hiccuped into a faster pace, something close to a jog. Distantly, she thought to tell Ashley to leave, to get away from this mess, but also, selfishly, she was very scared of dealing with this car alone.

It was almost funny, this car slowly chasing them. But it represented something much scarier.

Really. How was Minerva going to get home? What would she do once she was there? Was there any way to fix this?

"It's okay," she said, though it probably wasn't? It was okay in the sense that Ashley wasn't mad, but.

"Can you try to push it back?"

 It wasn't okay! She understood what Ashley meant, though, that she was forgiven. It didn't soothe her as much as it would have if any of this was normal! Could she push it back?

 Minerva faltered in her steps, sort of stopping to walk backwards. What could she even do? Hold up her hand to tell it to go back? Before she even really had the sense to try it, the car suddenly stilled, silent, as if it was trying to be inconspicuous. Black marks peppered a trail behind it on the pavement.

 Whew! Her eyes struggled to focus, and her field of vision narrowed down to a single point of clarity - barely! Everything around that point dimmed and glimmered with pricks of low light. Minerva stood as still as she could, but wavered slightly as she bent to put her hands on her knees. "Whoa."

Oh. Whoa! It was... that easy! Ashley was about to celebrate a bit before it was clear Minerva was feeling the effects now.

"You alright?" she asked gently, moving to put a hand on Minerva's back with a very light touch.

"You stopped it!"

Quietly delivered praise, as if too much noise would jinx it, or maybe just knock Minerva over.

 She was alright! At first, she wasn't sure whether she'd said that out loud, but she really only managed a wibbly nod of her head. She was okay! She stopped it! Everything was great!

 "Okay, I need to." Sit down. Which was what she did, and absently reached out to... pat Ashley's knee reassuringly. "Sorry buddy."

Ashley would sit, too, an automatic gesture toward reassurance.

Poor Minerva. She felt for her deeply.

"We've got all the time in the world," she said. "I wonder if I could... heal it somehow."

 All the time in the world! Minerva fixed her swimming-pool vision on the car she'd accidentally dragged out of place and bobbed her head emptily. Maybe they didn't have all the time in the world. She wondered how bad this could get. Could she pull all the iron out of her blood? Impale herself on a flying fence?

 She shook her head. Noooo. Scary thoughts. Why did brains do stuff like that.

 "Heal dizziness?" she questioned haphazardly, trying to look at Ashley, but her eyes steadily swam away from her face repeatedly.

Maybe it was just dizziness. She felt a little foolish for having said anything, in retrospect.

"Maybe not. I- I wish I could understand a little better what causes it. The mechanics of the side effects we feel. I don't know."

She fell quiet, wringing her hands a little. Rika was good at powers, but maybe not necessarily at stopping them.

Where could they go without metal? And... how long could this last?

Ash sat by her friend, feeling useless in a way that sat unhappily in her chest.

 "Yeah," she agreed simply, wearily. The gentle spinning and in-and-out focus of her vision made her feel sick. She understood, though. She wished it was easier to know what made things get so funky. She rubbed at her eyes and would risk sort of leaning shoulder-to-shoulder against Ashley. Even now, when she'd thought she would have run out of magic energy or something, the cross at Ashley's neck would tug at its chain, reaching away from Minerva.


She looked at her feet, and at Minerva's feet, and wondered how long they might be here. Ashley didn't have anything to rush home to, but it was more an issue of...

Could it be days before it stopped? How unwell would that leave Minerva? She couldn't exactly go to a hospital. Ashley actually couldn't think of many places more full of metal easily made volatile.

Her head jumped up a bit as the chain on her neck tugged, the cross making a decision that it was better to exit now. Ash huffed, but couldn't deny nervousness about anything wrapped around her neck behaving strangely.

"At least it's not glowing," she joked, grabbing the cross (though not the chain) and watching the links it connected to push away anew with her adjustment.


 Somehow the sound of it drew her attention. Minerva would look at it slowly, and managed a hollow, but genuine, laugh for Ashley's words. She didn't like that, though! Her mind followed a similar trail to her friend's - metal around the neck seemed really not great. Her vision blurred around the wobbling chain.

 "Maybe you should take that off," she said, her words spaced out so that she could try to enunciate them better. Gosh, when would this end! Please!

That was probably a good idea, and she nodded. She had some fear that the moment she unclasped the chain, the whole thing would go firing off. So she held the cross tight as she played with the clasp that had conveniently rotated around in front of her.

She managed it fairly quickly, holding the necklace in a tightly clenched fist once it was removed. Ash put it with care into her bag, then.... crumpled the top of the bag shut, lest the metal work harder to escape.

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