Categories > Original > Fantasy > Monster

Day 3

by Togot 0 reviews

Tyler learns about magic

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2019-08-10 - 11536 words

Day three

Tyler sat alone in the corner of his room slouched on the floor. His head hung low and his body felt numb from anger and exertion. He desperately wished that he could turn off the magical light that floated above his head; he hated that it was so bright. The room was in shambles. The meal that had been left for him was splattered on the floor, the bed was torn apart, and the rest of the room’s furnishings had been destroyed. The only thing missing to match his mood was darkness.

He felt another droplet of blood trickle down and gather on his finger tip before falling into the small pool forming on the floor between his feet. His knuckles were ripped and swollen from punching the wall, but he didn’t care. His cheeks were crusty with drying tears. After his violent outburst he’d cried until there was nothing left in him. Now, the deep ach in his hand was the only thing he could feel.

He’d been sitting motionless for what felt like hours, just staring off into space. He kept playing over the events in his mind, looking for some way for it to not be real. He knew he wasn’t dreaming, no matter how much he wished he were. This was real; he had to accept that now, so the question became how to deal with the situation. The problem was that Tyler didn’t have an answer to that.

Something moved out of the corner of Tyler’s eye and caught his attention. Everything in the room had been still for so long that the slightest change might as well have been a fog horn. He turned his head only slightly to see the door opening, and a dozen thoughts flooded his mind. ‘I’m not alone. Danger! Grab the weapon. Hide. Fight. Kill them all! They’re coming to finish me off. Let them. I don’t care anymore.’ The thoughts were automatic, and Tyler ignored them. He really didn’t care anymore, at least not at the moment.

He watched as Malenia entered the room. Perhaps it was simply the low angle that Tyler was sitting at, but Malenia seemed even larger than before. The way she held her head high, her wide hips, large bosom and strong arms. Everything about her seemed big, but at the same time well-proportioned in an odd sort of way. She seemed to be wearing a purple housecoat with fury trimming held closed by a sash around the waist of a slightly darker shade. The front was open from the edge of her shoulders down to the top of the sash in wide V that showed off her cleavage in a flattering way. Tyler noted that even her breasts seemed to be covered in that fur. Her legs were covered by a long pink gown beneath the coat, and her arms were bare except for a gold, metal band around her bicep.

Tyler thought that the outfit should have made her look like a prostitute, but she carried herself with such dignity and confidence that she came off more as a celebrity attending some kind of ball or award show. She stepped into the room carefully, as if afraid that she might step on broken glass. Not an unreasonable assumption given the state of the room. She looked around, inspecting the aftermath of Tyler’s tantrum as if she were a crime scene investigator. Her expression remained neutral and unreadable as her gaze drifted over to the blood stained patch on the wall where Tyler had beat his fists.

“Do the walls displease you?” she asked, sounding friendly but adding just a dash of sarcasm. That subtle bit of teasing made Tyler’s anger flare up, and he glared at her with eyes as fierce as a beast’s. He felt a strong desire to hit her, to lash out. Striking her would be far more satisfying that hitting a wall. He wanted to beat the smug off of her face, make her feel his pain. His thoughts turned to the sword resting in his lap, and he ran through scenario after scenario of how a fight would play out.

He was aware that such an act would be nothing short of idiocy. Tyler had seen what Malenia could do. He knew he stood no chance, but he didn’t really care. He almost wanted her to kill him, but that would be the easy way out, and Tyler hated doing things the easy way. In the end, all he did was glare at her while she stood stoically for the few seconds it had taken him to make that decision.

Malenia was studying him, reading his reactions. She seemed to come to the conclusion that sarcasm wasn‘t the way to defuse the situation. Instead, she smiled at him, flashing her teeth. From the look on her face, it seemed as if she was trying to be friendly, but the result made Tyler’s anxiety skyrocket. Every time he saw those big, sharp teeth he couldn’t help but think that she was about to eat him. Her smile would frighten a lion.

Tyler wasn’t aware of any outward expression of the tension he felt, but it must have shown in his eyes because the smile left Malenia’s face immediately. She frowned at him, puzzled by whatever reaction she had picked up on. She looked away for a moment, trying to think of what to say. Her eyes drifted back to the blood stain on the wall, and Tyler looked away from her. He felt embarrassed, ashamed, angry and worst of all, helpless. He didn’t want anyone to see him like this, and he certainly didn’t want to talk to a six-foot tall alien with magical powers.

“I realize you are upset,” she said, trying her best to sound kind, “but please refrain from harming yourself. I have no desire to see you in pain.”

Again, Tyler’s thoughts were reactionary, almost like background noise inside his mind. ‘She’s lying. She doesn’t care about me. She wants something from me. Don’t trust her. Kill her when she turns her back. No! She hasn’t given me a reason. Wait, see what happens. She‘s my only chance. She’s the only friend I have. I don’t want to be alone.’

In the end, Tyler said nothing.

Malenia stepped further into the room, though she seemed mindful of Tyler’s rising tension. He wasn’t looking directly at her, but his mind and senses were focused on her so intensely that he might as well have been staring. She walked around the edge of the room, keeping the distance between them, as if she were wary of coming too close to him, though he attained to delusion that she had any real fear of him. It was likely a consideration for his own comfort so that he wouldn’t feel threatened. She conjured a chair out of nothingness and sat down facing him so that he felt compelled to look at her.

Her eyes were soft and sympathetic. They seemed to emanate kind warmth, and Tyler felt comforted despite himself. He looked away bringing his arms and legs in a little more, like a turtle tucking itself into its shell. The last thing he wanted right now to be comforted. He wanted to be angry. He didn’t want someone to make him feel better, but Malenia seemed determined to try.

“Is there anything I can do for you?’ she asked in a voice just above a whisper.

Her words were like silk on his ears, and he felt his guard slip just a little. “Send me home,” he said in a voice hoarse from screaming.

Malenia bowed her head regretfully. “I did not lie to you, little one,” she said softly, “Returning you home is no easy task. It may even be impossible. You have my word that I will do everything in my power to help you, but it may not be enough. In the meantime, you are welcome to stay within Haven as my personal guest. It is my hope that this will make things a little easier for you. Aside from that, all I can say, is that I am truly sorry”

“You’re sorry?” he said in a voice both angry and mocking as his hands tightened into fists. He looked up, glaring daggers at her. “A hell of a lot of good that does me. You just said I’m fucking trapped here. What the hell am I supposed to do? You magicked me here, just magic me back. What’s the fucking problem?” His voice rose along with his anger.

“The problem,” Malenia said calmly, “is that I don’t know where to send you. I have never been to your world, nor do I know where it is in relation to ours. Even if I had that knowledge, it would still be difficult. A sending spell is far more complex and dangerous than a summoning spell. No matter where you were, the magic Termall used simply brought you to the symbol he had made on the floor. If I were to try and send you without a similar beacon for you to arrive upon, it is almost a certainty that you would be killed.”

Tyler looked away sharply. His eyes ticked back and forth as he processed what she had told him. He looked desperately for a way out of this problem, some kind of overlooked solution, something he missed. He pushed his emotions aside, and his analytical mind took over, going over every detail. But he kept coming back to the same answer: he didn’t understand enough about magic. He didn’t know enough about how magic worked to find a way around the obstacle. The only possible solution was to learn more, and Malenia seemed like the best person to teach him. If he wanted to go home, he needed her help. “Alright,” he said. His voice was tired with a defeated tone to it as he looked at her. “What now?”


Tyler stared at his room dumbfounded. It looked as good as new. With a wave of her hand, Malenia had fixed everything he’d broken. He’d watched as the wood put itself back together, the cloth fabric re-stitch itself, the food return to his plate, and even the stool now rested in its previous place. The only thing that remained was Tyler’s blood staining the wall.

“Ok, it’s really magic,” he said. “but how does it work?”

“Simple really,” said Malenia as she smiled at him proudly. “You think of what you want, put some power into it, and it happens. The more complex the spell, the more you need to focus. The more power you put into it, the stronger it will be.”

“What do you mean, ‘put power into it’?”

Malenia tilted her head slightly, and Tyler realized she didn’t quite know how to answer the question. She thought for a moment and then said, “It’s akin to flexing a muscle, only in your mind. As you use magic, it drains you. The stronger you are, the more magic you can do without rest.”

‘So there is a limit,’ Tyler thought. “Ok, so you can use elements, teleport, manipulate things, and will inanimate objects into existence. What about life? Can you just conjure up animals?”

“No,” she said. “The more complex something is, the harder it is to create from nothingness, and most kannin can only create objects made from elements they are adept or trained to manipulate. Something as complicated as a living creature is beyond the skill of any kannin.”

“What do you mean adept at manipulating?” Tyler asked.

“All kannin have one or two elements with which they have a natural affinity. You might call it their specialty. Some are skilled at using stone while others find it easier to manipulate water. Such talents often run in bloodlines. Any kannin can learn to manipulate any element with years of dedicated practice, but it helps to have someone who is adept with that element teach you how. That is the task of the masters here.”

“I see,” said Tyler. “What about teleportation? Are there masters who are adept at that that we could talk to?”

Malenia frowned. “I’m afraid I am the only one in Haven adept at teleportation. Termall learned the basics of the skill from me when he was younger.”

“Oh,” said Tyler, suddenly feeling awkward. ‘So much for that idea.’ He looked at his room while him brain sifted through all the information he’d just been given, cataloging, analyzing, and memorizing. But something bothered him. “So someone who is adept at using stone just magicked up this whole castle? What about these clothes? Is there a master of fabric here?”

“Not exactly,” said Malenia. “The castle is made of normal stone that was shaped with stone magic, though it is held together by enchantments in a few places.” Tyler’s mind immediately went to the bridge. If it was held together by an enchantment, why hadn’t the thing collapsed when he had walked on it? Not that he was complaining, but it did put a hole in his theory.

“As for your clothes,” Malenia continued. “Most kannin learn how to weave fabrics to make one permanent source we can manipulate. It allows us to change our attire without having to actually change it.” Malenia held hear hands out to her side, and Tyler watched as the clothes she wore shifted around her body as if it were alive. It slid across Malenia’s fur, stretching and shrinking, changing color to a darker hue until Malenia was wearing a completely different outfit.

It was another purplish outfit, though it was leaning more toward red than anything Tyler had seen her in yet. It had a more baggy, loose feel to it, with large open sleeves without shoulders that seemed to hang around her arms, cut low in the front with a darker shaded sash wrapped around her waist. The flowing skirt when down to her ankles, and there was a wide trim at Malenia’s bust line the same color as the sash. It almost looked like a night gown.

Tyler stared at the new outfit, blinking as if his eyes had played a trick on him. The only thing he could even compare what he had just seen to was a morphing affect done by a computer on a picture. “That’s handy,” he said flatly, unable to think of anything else.

“Indeed it is,” said Malenia. “I used a similar method to shape your katana using metal drawn from the ground. Otherwise it would have vanished the moment you touched it.”

Tyler nodded and then froze. He felt a knot in his stomach as he looked up at her smiling face. “Why would it have vanished if I’d touched it?” he asked. He hadn’t told her about the ice, and then another thought occurred to him. “And how do you know it‘s called a katana? I never told you that.”

“Just a guess, I suppose,” she said. She sounded uninterested in the question, but Tyler wasn’t letting it go, not this time. He might have accepted that she could guess about his mother due to some different parent-child dynamic on this world, or even him calling out in his sleep, but not this. Tyler was positive that he hadn‘t referred to his sword as a katana, and he hadn‘t told her about the ice.

Tyler saw something pass behind Malenia‘s eyes as she watched him, and a horrifying thought occurred to him. He pushed it out of his mind the instant it popped in there. Not because of it being ludicrous, though perhaps it was, but because if he was right, then simply thinking about it might make it impossible to test.

Tyler casually walked over to the bed, feigning interest in order to keep his back to her. With Malenia unable to see his mouth, he thought, ‘So, what’s this planet called anyway?’

“It has no name,” Malenia whispered into his ear. Tyler spun around and jumped away, startled. He hadn’t heard her move up behind him. That, along with his suspicion proving correct, sent a jolt of panic through him. Malenia could read his mind, and had ever since they had met. In all likelihood she had heard every thought that had popped into his head.

“Well done,” Malenia said as she turned and stepped away from him. Her voice was light and friendly, though Tyler suspected more than ever that it was just an act to put him off guard. He watched her every move more closely now, analyzing every gesture, expecting an attack to come any second now that the jig was up. Instead, Malenia just turned around a few feet away and looked at him, standing with her hands clasped behind her back. Tyler recalled how she had pulled a sword from nowhere the other day. Was she going to pull out a weapon?

“My compliments,” she said praising him again. “You figured it out much sooner than I expected. You spotted all of my hints very quickly.” Her smile broadened until she was beaming at him like a proud parent. “I am impressed.”

Despite her compliments, Tyler was far from happy. He felt naked, exposed, vulnerable. Malenia had been playing with him all this time, hearing his every thought, probably laughing about it. He was nothing but a joke, and that made his blood boil. He raised his left hand, moving painfully slowly to grasp the scabbard of his sword. The tip of his thumb rested of the guard, ready to break the lock at a moment’s notice. He glared at Malenia while she smiled condescendingly at him.

“Oh my, you are upset,” she said, raising her eyebrows slightly. “Do forgive me, I meant no harm.”

Malenia showed no fear of Tyler at all, and her condescending tone did nothing to quell his anger, but her words were enough to make him think. Malenia had humiliated him, but it was still relatively harmless, so far as he knew. Was that really worth attacking her with a sword over?

“If I may make one small criticism?” Malenia said in a manner that left no doubt that she was amused by his predicament. “If you wish to test whether or not someone can hear your thoughts, do not do so moments after the possibility occurs to you.”

“Then why did you fall for it?” Tyler asked, his eyes narrowing with suspicion.

Malenia gave a graceful shrug. “You would have found out eventually. I simply wanted to see how long it would take you.”

‘She was testing me,’ Tyler thought, and he became angry at himself the moment he did. Malenia’s smile widened ever so slightly, confirming that she had indeed heard him. The situation was becoming more frustrating by the minute. Tyler had a hard enough time controlling what came out of his mouth. How the hell was he supposed to censor his thoughts?

His mind raced with possible ways to prevent her from reading his mind and he realized with dread that she could hear his thoughts even now. She would be aware of any contingency he thought of the moment it occurred to him. So many questions came forward without his bidding: did she have a range? Was this magic, and if so, how could it affect him? Did living things just give off thought waves that kannin could pick up on? Were all kannin telepathic, or was it just Malenia? Just how much had she already learned from him? So many questions, and not a single answer.

Malenia watched him with great interest, no doubt curious as to how he was going to attempt to block her out. The biggest problem was that Tyler couldn’t be sure of whether or not he was successful. It wasn’t as if he could read her mind to learn if he was really blocking her, or if she was just playing dumb so he’d stop looking for a method that might actually work.

He figured the best way to do it was to simply use sensory overload. He’d spam his own mind with as many nonsensical thoughts as he could to mask the real ones. He was usually thinking of a dozen different things at any given time anyway, he’d just have to think about them a little louder. He brought every thought to the forefront of his mind until the jumble was loud even to him, and in the midst of it all he thought, ‘Can you hear me now?’

Malenia winced as if in pain and turned her head away. “That is an interesting trick,” she said after a moment. “How are you doing it?”

“It’s called multitasking,” Tyler answered, feeling more confident. “Deal with it.”

“Most impressive,” Malenia said with a smile. She didn’t sound like someone who had just been beaten which worried Tyler, and he had another problem. Causing this cacophony inside his own mind was very taxing. Keeping it up all the tame would not be easy. It might not even be possible.

“I suppose you won’t be needing this after all.” Malenia said, feigning disappointment as she held up an odd looking trinket. It appeared to be some kind circlet, a round piece of gold with a green jewel on top. “And after I went through all the trouble of making it for you.”

“What is it?” Tyler asked as he eyed the item suspiciously. He had no interest in jewelry, but he knew that if Malenia had made it for him, it was more than just a pretty trinket.

“A little enchantment to shield your thoughts and feelings from others,” she said, sounding rather proud of herself.

‘So they can sense my feelings too?’ he thought. He only remembered to scramble the second half of the thought. This was going to be hard, but shielding his emotions was downright impossible.

Malenia smiled at him, and Tyler felt like he’d been caught in a trap. “The enchantment is placed on the jewel,” she explained, pointing to it. “The metal will act as a buffer between it and your body, so that you can keep it far enough away from your skin for it to still be affective.”

Tyler looked at the shiny gift. He had to admit that he liked the thought of blocking them all out without having to do it himself, but something in his gut whispered a warning. If he accepted this, he could be relying on Malenia even more, and he already owed her far more than he was comfortable with. Tyler looked at the piece of jewelry, and he saw a leash. “No thanks,” he said. “I’ll manage on my own. Besides, I would never wear something that…girly.”

Malenia looked at the item again, slightly puzzled. She probably didn’t understand why Tyler would describe it as girly, but in the end she bowed her head gracefully and slipped the item into the sash she was wearing. “As you wish. “ She didn’t seem defeated or put off by his refusal, and that irritated him. He just couldn’t feel like he’d bested this woman.

“Now,” she said, brightly as if everything that had just transpired had not. “What would you like to do today?’

‘Letting me choose,’ he thought, and he remember to scramble his thoughts. He realized this was an attempt to placate him. She was giving him some illusion of control to counter his feelings of helplessness and suspicion. It was just an attempt to appease him after making him angry. Still, just because he understood that didn’t make it any less appealing. It would be nice to forget how screwed he was, if only for a moment. Take a step back and get a fresh perspective. It sounded nice, but where to go?

Tyler thought for a moment. There were dozens of options, but it didn’t take him long to realize the obvious. If he wanted information on how to get home, there was only one choice. “I want to go to the library.”

Malenia looked at him for a moment. She wasn’t exactly frowning, but she wasn’t smiling anymore either. Her expression was neutral, so he couldn’t be sure how annoyed she was by his decision. She bowed her head slightly and said, “Very well.” she turned and walked out of the room, and Tyler followed her.

Malenia didn’t say a word as they made their way to the library. The awkward silence made Tyler uncomfortable, not that he would ever admit it. The problem was that he was now aware that he didn’t have to, Malenia could feel his emotions. He thought about the golden trinket she had offered him. Why would she do that if only she could hear his thoughts? She wouldn’t, which meant that the others could do it as well. An entire race of telepaths. That was a scary thought.

Tyler did his best to hide his thoughts, though it was not easy. If Malenia was picking up any of it, she wasn’t reacting. They passed several students, though they could have been masters as Tyler wasn’t sure how to tell the difference. The only two he’d met had both attacked him, but he hoped that wasn’t their only distinguishing feature.

None of the kannin he passed seemed to pay him much mind. They would glance in his direction if he caught their eye, but little more. It still struck Tyler as odd that they would have so little reaction to him. It made him think of every horror movie he’d ever seen, and he was the dumb teenager about to be sacrificed to the devil. That scenario certainly fit the somber mood as Malenia can to a stop at their destination.

The doors to the library looked more like they led to a dungeon. They were bigger than the doors to Malenia’s office and made out of stone. They had some kind of symbols etched into them that Tyler guessed were words, but he couldn’t be sure. Malenia stood before the doors as if she were challenging them. Back straight, hands on her hips, and eyes fixed with a steely gaze, she looked as though she were preparing for a fight. Tyler wondered if he’d made an error in judgment. Still, the best way to start looking for a solution to a problem was with information, and where better than a library?

After several seconds, the massive doors began to open slowly. The sound of rocks grinding against each other echoed down the hall, and Tyler felt the sudden urge to run away. He noticed that the other kannin were keeping their distance, but they didn’t seem too bothered by what was happening. The doors opened, and Malenia stepped though, swallowed up by the darkness that lay beyond. Tyler hesitated only a brief moment before following her.

The library was pitch-black; there was not a single source of light, and as the doors closed behind him, Tyler found himself completely blind. He stood frozen for a moment, his heart pumping harder as fear and panic crept into his veins. He strained to hear whatever he could, but there was nothing but silence. The room was filled with as much silence as it was darkness, a crushing, deafening silence that made Tyler hold his breath when the sound of his own lungs were as loud as a dinner bell to his ears. His muscles became tensed, and his hand rested on the mouth of his scabbard with his thumb lightly touching the guard of his sword, ready to react at the slightest disturbance.

A faint light appeared near him which gradually grew, revealing that Malenia was the one creating it. She held the ball of light in her hand and let it float up over her head where it continued to intensify until the room was revealed. It was smaller than Tyler had thought, not much bigger than the library at a grade school. He had imagined that a place as grand as Haven would have a much better selection. Not a good sign.

Tyler was surprised to find that the kannin had books at all. It wasn’t that he didn’t expect them to have a written language, but for them to record them in books was interesting. Tyler had expected scrolls, or tablets, or perhaps something utterly unique. This was refreshingly human.

“And who is this?” said a voice from just behind Tyler. He spun around gripping his sword, but when he found a face inches from his own. He nearly tripped over his own feet backing away. He hated how these things kept sneaking up on him. This one was another female, but there was something off about her. Her eyes were glazed over white, and she held herself like a puppet on strings. Her head was hung low as if it were too heavy for her neck, and her arms dangled lifelessly at her sides. Her face seemed frozen in a vague smile, almost like a mask.

“This is Tyler,” said Malenia in a formal tone. “Tyler, this is Romat. She tends to the books.”

“Hi,” Tyler said awkwardly, trying to be polite. He knew it was rude to stare, but this time he just couldn’t help himself. The woman’s head had turned in a very unnatural way to look at Malenia when she had spoken, and then back to Tyler when he had. She seemed to follow sound which, along with the state of her eyes, made him suspect that she was blind, but her facial expression hadn’t changed at all. It seemed frozen in that unnatural, smile which made a shiver go up Tyler‘s spine. She had grey fur which made her look old, and her ears were floppier than anyone else that Tyler had seen so far, as if even they were as limp and lifeless as the rest of her seemed to be. Everything about her seemed droopy, as if gravity were heavier for her.

“He sounds tasty,” she said. Her mouth moved very little when she spoke, and her words were only a whisper, but her smile seemed to widen ever so slightly.

Tyler wasn’t sure if what she said was a threat or a flirtation. He also wasn’t sure which one would have unsettled him more. He would have dismissed it as teasing, but Malenia stepped forward, as if to insert herself between them.

“You have been punished once already, Romat” said Malenia in a dark tone. “If I am forced to discipline you again, you may find it difficult to perform your duties.”

Romat moved her head in an odd sort of way to look at Malenia again. “Such an overreaction,” she said. “Don’t tell me you’re still upset over that. Geeno did live, after all.”

“Barely,” said Malenia, and there was no mistaking the anger in her voice.

“Your decree was that none are to kill another within these walls, was it not?” Romat said. She seemed to be taunting Malenia. “and I did not kill him.”

“This is not a debate,” Malenia said, raising her voice with authority. “and lest there be another misunderstanding, let me be clear.” She stepped closer to Romat, and lowered her voice. “If you harm this one, I will kill you.”

A long, uncomfortable silence followed. Tyler did not dare breathe as he watched the two woman facing off. Malenia’s threat hadn’t removed Romat’s grin, and frightened Tyler. Who was this Geeno guy, and what had Romat done to him? Whatever had happened, Malenia was clearly pissed about it. Perhaps coming here had been a mistake after all.

Romat turned to face Tyler’s general direction, and her lifeless gaze made his chest tighten up until he thought his heart might stop. She stared at him for an uncomfortably long time until she finally asked, “What was it you wanted?”

Tyler‘s face felt unbearably hot as blood rushed to his head. Having Romat‘s attention made him more nervous than speaking to the entire school when he was still in 3rd grade. He took a breath and swallowed hard to gather what was left of his nerve to speak. “I’d like to see every book you have regarding summoning, teleportation, and locating objects and places.” to Tyler’s surprise, he sounded far more confident than he felt.

Romat didn’t react at first. She stared at him blankly with that same half smile. “You don’t give up easily,” said Malenia, and Romat turned her head slowly to look at her. The two women stared at each other a moment before Romat bowed her head ever so slightly. Tyler wondered if they’d had a private conversation by reading each other’s minds.

He heard a noise and turned to see several books floating towards them. They hovered in front of Tyler, stacked one on top of the other, until he touched them. The moment his fingers made contact, the spell was broken, and he nearly dropped them as gravity reestablished its hold. “Thanks,” he said in a strained voice. Romat simply looked at him and nodded.

The doors opened back up and Malenia gestured for him to leave with her. He stole one last glance at Romat before he left. She was still standing there, staring off into space as the doors closed again. Tyler stood outside the doors looking at his books for a moment feeling rather awkward. “Got anyplace I can read these?” he asked.

Tyler sat alone in his room, staring at the food that had been put out for him. He looked at the hunk of meat that Malenia had magicked up for him. He still didn’t fully understand how magic worked. Where had the meat come from? Did an animal somewhere just get its leg ripped off? Had this come from earth, or had Malenia cooked it herself, or was there a kitchen that Malenia had summoned it from? Tyler knew that anything that magic made out of nothing would simply disappear if he touched it, so it had to have come from something.

Despite all of his unanswered questions, and the suspicion it cast on the meal, Tyler knew he had to eat something, and he didn’t want to think about what someone with teeth like Malenia’s considered a meal. He just hoped that this hadn’t been a person at one time. Still, he’d eaten McDonalds. How much worse could this really be for him? He picked up the chunk of meat that looked like it had come from medieval times and bit into it. To his surprise, it tasted delicious. The meat had flavors that were alien to Tyler. The closest comparison he could think of was a mix of smoked salmon and a mild barbeque sauce.

Encouraged, Tyler took a sip of his drink, and found that it tasted like a mix between apple sauce and grape, but the liquid was thicker, like chocolate milk. ‘Well, at least there’s that,’ he thought to himself as he ate his meal in a slightly better mood. He flipped open the first of the books, using the hand that wasn’t greasy, and looked at the pages. He stared at the unintelligible scribbles for a moment as his oversight dawned on him. “Oh you idiot,” he said with a heavy sigh. He had gotten so used to Malenia speaking English that he had just assumed there would be a similar spell in place for reading. It wasn’t a big problem, he’d just ask Malenia about it tomorrow, but it did ruin his plans for the evening.

“Need help?” said a soft voice from inches away.

Tyler cried out in surprise and fell out of his chair, rolling to his feet in a crouched position. He moved to draw his sword, but he didn‘t have it on him, having left it next to the desk. He hadn’t heard Malenia enter the room or known that she was there until she had spoken right into his ear. He looked up at her standing over him with her hands behind her back and an amused smile on her face.

“Would you please stop doing that,” he said. He looked at his sword on the opposite side of the chair. He‘d set it down because he‘d finally started to relax. He wouldn‘t be doing that again anytime soon.

“My apologies,” she said, though she didn’t sound very sincere with that smile. “I thought you might need this.” She held up a small curved piece of glass. “Most kannin can cast a translation spell for themselves to read these, but I imagine you’ll need something special.”

Tyler reached to the object but paused. “I can’t touch that, can I? Won’t I erase whatever enchantment you put on it?”

Malenia‘s smile grew, showing her pointy teeth. “Clever boy, you remembered.” Malenia seemed to beam at him which made Tyler feel very uncomfortable. “Not to worry.” she said. “I placed the enchantment in the center of the glass, so it will be far enough away from your fingers.”

“You can do that? Enchant a specific part of something?” Tyler asked, though it was more him making a mental note than asking a question.

“Of course,” said Malenia and she held up her free hand. Tyler watched as Malenia’s sharp finger nails grew longer and bigger before his widening eyes. Her new claws made Malenia look more like a polar bear than ever, but just as he was wishing he hadn’t left his sword on the other side of the chair, the claws shrank back into Malenia’s finger tips.

Tyler blinked twice while staring at Malenia’s hand. He never would have guessed that she had just had claws a second ago if he hadn’t seen it. If the process had caused her discomfort she showed no sign of it. The scientific part of Tyler’s mind separate from the fear began to analyze what had happened, but it didn’t make sense. He could understand how her claws could grow so fast, in theory, but how had they shrunken? Had her body just reabsorbed the material like a tadpole absorbs its tail? No, that shouldn’t work with the keratin which made up fingernails. He was still having a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that magic seemed to ignore the conservation of matter. In the end, all he could do was sigh and accept the gift, trusting that it would work.

“Thanks,” he said as he got back in his chair and tested out the glass. One side of it was flat, and he placed it over the page. Sure enough what he saw was English, though that only raised more questions, but he was too mentally exhausted to ask them. Besides, there was something else on his mind that had been nagging him.

Without looking up he asked, “Malenia, what happened to that guy, Geeno. You seemed really upset about it.”

Malenia was silent for a moment, and Tyler looked up at her. The look on her face surprised him. Malenia was looking down and away with a sorrowful expression. Without meeting Tyler’s gaze she said, “She ate him.” She gave a bitter smile and added, “Well, she ate most of him anyway.”

Tyler stared open-mouthed at Malenia with an expression of shock written plain on his face. He had thought that Romat had beaten a student or tested a spell on someone, but to have eaten him? He looked back at the hunk of meat sitting on his table, and he felt his stomach start to heave.
“Oh god,” he said in a choked voice as he got up out of his chair. His knees felt weak and his hands trembled as his lunch threatened to come back up.

“Something wrong?” Malenia asked

“Please tell me this wasn’t a person,” Tyler said breathlessly as he tried to calm his stomach. He went pale at the thought of eating a sentient being.

“No,” Malenia said with indifference. “It was one of the running beasts that inhabit this area. The younger ones hunt them from time to time. Why, is it not to your liking?”

“Let’s just say that I have issues with eating people,” Tyler said as he let out a breath, relieved that he would not be adding another item to his growing list of problems.

“I shall try to keep that in mind.”

“Great,” Tyler said as he felt color coming back into his cheeks. He tried to clear his mind of the conversation as he prepared to read the first book on locating objects and people. He would need his head set on recording mode in order to read all of these. He was aware that Malenia was still standing behind and just to the right of him, but when he turned to see if she needed something else, she was gone. No sound, no movement, just gone. He stared at the empty space before shaking his head. “I really hate it when she does that,” he said to himself before going back to the book.

He read for hours, though it was hard to tell how many. No clocks and no windows made it impossible to tell time in this place, and when Tyler was focused, he often lost track of time anyway. The thought occurred to him that a different planet would likely have a different orbit than earth. How many hours were in a day here? How many days in a year? Tyler shook the academic questions out of his head. He needed to focus. The problem was that these books weren’t being very helpful.

It seemed that kannin were more concerned with practical application than theory. He’d managed to burn through two of the books, and both focused on how to cast the spells more than what forces were involved or how they actually worked. He read the page he’d just finished again, looking for some kind of hint, but there was none.

“To locate an individual familiar to you, picture their face in your mind. The more clearly you can picture their likeness, the more affective the spell will be. Ask to know where they are. If they are in a location you have seen before, you will see the location. If you are being blocked, put more power into the spell to overcome the opposition.”

Tyler shook his head and sighed in frustration. This was getting him nowhere. Every spell had been described in the same basic way. Tyler couldn’t even use magic, but if he had been able to he wouldn’t have needed a book. He had been expecting a thesis on what words had what affects, tricks to getting around problems, the forces involved, but every single explanation read like stereo instructions. Insert peg A into slot B. The books all seemed to be comprised of a dozen ways to cast the same spell. Tyler realized with disappointment that the only reason the books were so thick was because kannin lettering was so large.

Tyler thought back to Malenia’s statements regarding magic, and there seemed to be a pattern. Kannin didn’t care how something worked so long as it worked. It was both a problem for Tyler, and a cause for hope. It certainly made it harder to understand the forces involved when the very people who used it didn’t, but it also meant that there was probably a loophole that Malenia had never thought of.

Tyler slouched on his stool and rubbed his eyes. It had to be dark out by now, and this place was sucking the energy right out of him, both physically and emotionally. ‘That’s enough for one day,’ he thought as he got up and walked over to his bed. He’d start fresh in the morning after a good night’s sleep. He knew he could certainly use one. He curled up in bed, and the light dimmed on its own. That was certainly something he’d like to bring back home with him. He closed his eyes, and let sleep take him away.

Tyler was running. He didn’t know why he was running, he just knew that he was running and scarred. Something was chasing him, though he could not see it. He just wanted to get away, but he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. In fact, there was nowhere to get to. He was in a forest that had just now appeared, though this didn’t seem odd to him. There was no end to the trees, though he didn’t know how he knew that.

Jumbled, disjointed thoughts entered his head. ‘Need to get away. Want to be safe. Run!’ He seemed unable to think clearly. His mind was more feelings than consciousness, and even they were random and volatile. Fear, panic, confusions, a sense of being lost and alone, and the desire to escape seemed to make up his being now more than any sense of self.

Then, Tyler was falling. He hadn’t run off a cliff or fallen down a hole. The ground had simple crumbled beneath him and disappeared into nothingness. He reached out, desperate to save himself, or to be saved, and his hands found a hold. He clung to it with all his strength, scared out of his mind. Fear so intense that it was unlikely he would ever let go.

He looked up and saw that it was a stone spike in the side of a mountain that was now simply there, but then the rocks cracked and crumbled. The spike he held became a giant finger covered with white fur. The finger was attached to a hand, and the mountain itself shattered as an enormous Malenia emerged from the rubble, lifting Tyler even higher into the air. All Tyler could do was cling to her for dear life, but then she flipped her hand over, and Tyler lost his grip.

He fell screaming only to be stopped in midair. There were thin strings attached to his arms and legs that went up to Malenia’s fingers. She moved a finger, and Tyler’s arm jerked up. She moved another and his leg kicked. She laughed as she made him dance for her like a toy. It was a loud, cruel, cackling laugh that seemed to echo off of the empty space surrounding them. Then Tyler woke up.


Tyler wasn’t sure how much sleep he’d actually gotten, but he knew he wouldn’t be getting anymore. He was feeling too restless to read, so he decided to go out for a stroll, taking his sword with him. He didn’t have any destination in mind. He just wanted to walk around un-chaperoned and see the things not on the tour. Tyler just couldn’t shake the feeling that Malenia was hiding something from him, and last night‘s dream had done nothing to alleviate those suspicions.

He was surprised to find that his door wasn’t locked. It made the room feel a little less like a prison cell, but then again, where could he really go? There was no one waiting for him in the hallway, so he decided to see where his feet took him. Every step seemed to echo off the walls, and it reminded Tyler of just how alone he really was. The only human being on the planet.

There weren’t even any kannin in this part of the castle. Every room seemed to be empty, and the halls were vacant. It almost felt like a ward at an asylum. Blank halls with closed doors and no noise. The place was so unnerving that Tyler was beginning to wonder if he was in another nightmare. It wasn’t until he’d gone up two flights of stairs that he ran into a kannin female with a skunk-like fur pattern. She blinked in surprise at the sight of him, but then just stared blankly, as if waiting to see what he would do.

Tyler was again struck by the little inhuman nuances of these creatures. The girl didn’t seem frightened or curious. She just stared at him with a neutral expression. If she didn’t know what he was, she didn’t seem to care, and if she did, she didn’t seem to mind what he’d done to her classmates. A human would have been shifting nervously, much like Tyler was now. He felt awkward and uncomfortable. He didn’t know this kannin. What should he say to her?

“Uh…hi,” he said, feeling like a grade-schooler who was trying to talk to a girl for the first time.
“Hello,” the girl replied calmly, her expression remaining blank.

“My name’s Tyler,” he said, trying to be friendly.

“I know,” she said in the same calm voice. “My name is Nots.”

“Nots?” Tyler said frowning. “Like tying knots?”

At this the girl frowned and tilted her head like a dog, which looked odd given her skunkish appearance. “No,” she said slowly. “My name is Nots.”

‘Something must have gotten lost in translation,’ Tyler thought. “Ok.” he said. “Sorry.” Nots hadn’t sounded angry or offended, but Tyler wasn’t sure what else to say.

The girl continued to stare at him a moment longer before calmly walking away, leaving Tyler alone feeling like a jack ass. “I really hate this place,” he said to himself with a tired sigh.

He left the dorm area and wandered around the corridors for a while. Haven felt like a maze and all the signs where in a language he didn’t understand. Tyler wished that he’d brought that translating glass with him. Still, the best way to find your way around a new place was to get yourself lost, and Tyler was certainly lost. It wasn’t a problem since he wasn’t actually going anywhere, so he just kept walking until he passed a window. It was dark out alright, and he seemed to be on the third floor. He could see kannin milling about in the courtyard just like they had been during the day. The area was lit up by floating orbs that hung in the air like balloons. Tyler thought the sight was rather tranquil.

Tyler walked on aimlessly. He felt tired, but he didn’t want to risk sleeping again, though he knew he was only prolonging the inevitable. Eventually exhaustion demanded that he stop, and he plopped down into one of the benches scattered about the hallways. He looked around at all the strange creatures walking by. None of them seemed tired at all. Didn’t they ever sleep?

He passed the time by studying their appearances and mannerisms, much the way he had studied his classmates his freshmen year. Kannin had all manner of colors and patterns. Tyler tried to pick out common traits, maybe they had breeds like dogs did, or racial traits, but there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. A boy with spots here, a girl with stripes there, and no two seemed alike. Occasionally he saw one that had a color pattern similar to an animal he recognized, like Nots. One girl had stripes like a tiger. Another had the pale eyes of a husky, but most of them were just bizarre.

Some of them shot curious looks his way, but none approached. Tyler wondered what they were thinking, and instantly scolded himself when he remembered that they all knew what he was thinking. He began jumbling his own thoughts again, and a few of the closest kannin paused a moment, looking at him with greater interest. His little trick was certainly having some kind of reaction, but it was mentally exhausting, and he wasn‘t sure if they really couldn‘t read his thoughts, or just thought he was odd.

Tyler gave up, deciding it was easier to not think at all. The problem was he didn‘t know how to do that. He just wanted to relax and forget about his situation, if only for a moment.

He let out a breath and rubbed his face, trying to clear his mind. He would have sold his soul for an MP3 player with a few good songs on it. Then Tyler realized that he didn’t need one. His songs were all in his head. With a chuckle, Tyler tilted his head back and closed his eyes. He didn’t have to worry about them reading his thoughts if he wasn’t actually thinking about anything. His mind wandered a moment before it found a song that suited Tyler’s mood: Just Another Brick in The Wall.

Tyler let the words, the music fill his mind, pushing out all conscious thought, all his worries and stress, and all his anger and frustration at his helpless situation. The song echoed in his mind and so did the images it conjured up. Soldiers marching like robots, children sitting at their desks like drones, the faces of the faculty all preaching nonsense to him while he flipped them off. He sang it in his head as loud as he could until he couldn’t hear the real world anymore.

The song finished, and Tyler felt refreshed. He considered listening to it again, but it had done the trick. He opened his eyes, and the sight that greeted him scared him stiff. Nearly a dozen kannin had gathered around him. All were staring at him with great interest in a very uncomfortable way. They all had pleasant expressions, but they were the brainwashed kind of smiles that Tyler had only seen on Sci-Fi movies just before the pod people sucked your soul out.

Tyler felt extremely uncomfortable. He never liked being the center of attention, not even around other humans. Did these things suddenly decide they wanted to eat him? A minute ago they could have cared less about his presence, so what had changed? Did closing his eyes make him a tastier target? Fear and panic began to rise in him, and he realized that he had his back to the wall, which only heightened his anxiety. The only way out was straight through them, but they were all so close, and his sword was in his lap. Not a good spot for a quick draw. Could he swing his weapon before they swarmed him?

“They mean you no harm.”

Tyler’s head snapped around to see Malenia standing to his right. Her arms were folded across her chest under her large bosom, and she had an amused smile on her face as she observed the situation. Tyler wondered how long she had been there, this time remembering to scramble the thought as best he could. He looked back at the students. Only a few of them had taken notice of Malenia’s presence, though it hadn’t encouraged them to leave. They didn’t seem to be as frightened of her as Alanna had been.

“Well what the hell do you all want?” Tyler asked. He was sick of being gawked at.

“They want to hear more,” Malenia said, as though it were obvious. Tyler realized with some embarrassment that they had been listening to the music in his head. He realized that anyone would probably be interested in some new songs they had never heard before. He relaxed, but only a little. He still didn’t like having these things crowded around him.

“Well I ain’t no CD player, so piss off.”

Malenia made the crowd disperse with a glance. They didn’t scatter, simply turned and walked away, going back to whatever they had been doing before. There were no complaints or objections which again struck Tyler as noticeably inhuman. Malenia looked at Tyler with a faint smile. “Forgive them; they’ve never heard anything like that before. Such fascinating sounds, and the pattern to them is so…invigorating. What was it?”

“What, you guys don’t have music here?” Tyler asked. His tone reflected his foul mood. He hated being the center of attention, good or bad, and the stress was getting to him.

“Music?” Malenia made it a question.

‘Guess that answers that,’ Tyler thought. He stood up, wanting to have his back away from the wall and to be in a position where he could better react. Malenia made no attempt to stop him. She simply stood by passively while Tyler assumed a less vulnerable position. “So what are you doing up so late,” he asked, ignoring her questions. “Don’t you sleep?”

“Not often,” she said, maintaining her pleasant demeanor. “What of you?” she asked, and a teasing smile spread across her lips. “Trouble sleeping?”

The way she said it made Tyler very suspicious, but then again she was a mind reader. “I’m stranded on an alien planet were I can’t seem to go a day without someone threatening my life,” he said bitterly. “So yeah, kinda hard for me to relax.”

Malenia seemed to think for a moment and then smiled at him. “Follow me,” she said, and she walked past him without explanation. Tyler felt a twinge of irritation again at the presumption that he would follow behind like an obedient puppy, but there had been something soft in her voice that made him want to follow.

The two of them walked side by side down the hallway in silence for a time. It wasn‘t until they were heading up a spiraling staircase that Malenia spoke again. “Have the books been of help to you?”

“Not really,” Tyler said. “I’ve gone through two of them, but I haven’t learned anything I couldn’t have guessed. The only part I don’t understand is that ‘ask for what you want.’ stuff. The fuck does that mean? Ask who? God?”

“I don’t know who or what god is,” said Malenia, “but I was referring to magic, though I suppose ‘ask’ was not the best word to use.” She looked up as if pondering something. “It’s difficult to put into words, but when one uses magic, they give shape to their will with their energy. You want something to happen and it happens. The more clearly you focus or define what you wish to happen, the better the results.”

“I see,” said Tyler, though he didn’t really get it. He realized it might be impossible for him to understand something so far removed from his experience. He had no idea how a person put power into something because it wasn’t something he could do. In the end, he just had to take her word for it.

“Wait a minute,” Tyler said. “’You were referring to magic? You wrote that book?”

Malenia smiled without looking at him. “Very good,” she said. “Though to be more specific, I wrote all of them.”

“Wait,” said Tyler, stopping in his tracks, “You wrote all the ones I’m reading, or all the ones in the library?”

“I wrote the all of the books that you are reading,” said Malenia. She stopped and turned to face him. “As well as most of the books under Romat’s care. Though I did procured a handful of others from different clans. Storing information in such a way is rather uncommon for kannin.”

“Why’s that?” Tyler asked. It struck him odd that a race who relied so heavily on something that needed to be taught wouldn’t write it down more.

“Few kannin would find value in preserving their knowledge for others,” she said. There was something low in her voice and Tyler saw a sorrowful look in her eyes.

“So why do you do it?”

Malenia turned to Tyler and gave him a cheerful smile, though it looked more like a mask to him than ever. “I have a different perspective than most.” She turned her eyes forward again and resumed walking, forcing Tyler to do the same. “Do your people use books often?” she asked.

Tyler weighed the question in his mind. It seemed harmless enough. “Yeah, we write down damn near everything.”

“And why do you do it?” asked Malenia. Tyler could tell that she was smiling by the teasing tone of her voice.

“Because we do see value in it,” Tyler answered, smirking to himself. “So are the other books going to teach me anything, or all they all the same?

“I suspect that you will find they all follow the same line of thinking.” she said. “Would you like me to return them for you?”

Tyler thought about that for a moment. If they were all the same, then he was just wasting his time. Then again, it was the only lead he had. “No. I’ll finish what I started, just to be sure.” They went past another floor and Tyler looked through the doorway as they want by. “Where are we going anyway?”

“Here,” said Malenia as she headed through a door at the next level and down a hall. Tyler could see an open doorway at the end, and for a moment it brought to mind the light at the end of the tunnel described by people with near-death experiences. The image sent a shiver up Tyler’s spine, but he followed Malenia.

What awaited him on the other side was not heaven. It seemed to be a social hub, though not like the main hall. It was an open room with a high ceiling and pillars boxing an outline along the side walls. The pillars had hallowed out holes in them where balls of light illuminated the room. There was no wall opposite the door, but rather a terrace going outside. There were about a dozen kannin scattered about talking with each other. None of them paid him any mind.

Tyler walked over to the balcony. He had a clear view of the cloudless sky and the two moons shining brightly. Looking straight up, Tyler saw that he was in one of the towers where a section of the outer wall had been cut away. Looking down told him that this room was on the castles left side, as he could see the courtyard off to the right.

Tyler gripped the railing and leaned forward slightly to get a better view of the stars overhead. The magical lights of Haven held the darkness of the world at bay, but beyond the castle’s walls, the world was black. Only the clear sky was alight with a thousand tiny lanterns. As Tyler gazed up at them, he felt as though to top of the world had been taken off, and he might fall through it if he let go of the smooth cold marble his fingers now clenched to.

He didn’t know much about astrology other than the big and little dippers, but some subconscious part of his mind told him that these were not his stars. He stared at the two moons, one larger than the other and tinted red, and it finally dawned on him. “I’m on an alien planet,” he said to himself in a hushed whisper. It seemed an absurd revelation after being here for three days, but somehow it just hadn’t sunken in. He was the first human to set foot on another world, and there was a chance that no one would ever know.

He felt his chest tighten up as the weight of his situation pressed down on him again. Looking up into that vast black sky, Tyler felt more alone than he had ever dreamed possible.

“I often come here to relax and to think,” said Malenia. “I had hoped it would please you, yet it seems to have had the opposite effect.” The concern in her voice made Tyler look at her. She was staring at him with sympathy written all over her face. He didn‘t want to be pitied, no matter how bad his situation was. It always made him feel weak. Maybe he was.

“Just wondering which of those twinkling lights is home,” said Tyler as he turned his eyes back to the sky. He tried to sound nonchalant about it, but he knew that she could sense his emotions.
Malenia stepped up beside Tyler and looked up at the sky with him. “Is that what those are?”

Tyler smiled. “Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you wouldn’t know that. All those little lights are stars, just much further away. Some of those stars have planets circling them, though we’ve never found another that can support life.” Tyler lowered his gaze, looking down into the courtyard where he saw several kannin milling about. “Until now.”

“Your people have looked?” Malenia asked. She turned to look at him, and she seemed genuinely surprised. “Without magic?”

Tyler smiled proudly as he took a step away from the railing. “We don’t need it,” he said, patting his sword affectionately before walking away. Despite his bravado, Tyler was scolding himself. ‘I shouldn’t have told her that,’ he thought. Tyler had no idea what Malenia’s intentions were, but he’d seen enough Sci-Fi movies to know that the less he told her about earth, the better. If Malenia truly meant no harm, than there was no harm in not telling her about earth, but if she really was just keeping him around to pick his brain, then the fate of the earth might depend on him keeping his mouth shut.

“Thanks for showing me this room,” he said as he headed for the door, “but I really need to get some sleep.”

“Are all humans so hard on themselves?” Malenia asked, calling after him.

Tyler stopped in his tracks. ‘check,’ he thought to himself, not bothering to scramble it. Malenia shouldn’t even know what chess was, and the thought only coincided with his feelings which Malenia could sense anyway.

“When and how?” Tyler asked bitterly, though he was sure he already knew.

“I heard every thought you had those first two days,” Malenia said. She spoke gently, sounding neither triumphant nor condescending. The sound of claws clicking on stone told Tyler that Malenia was walking up behind him.

‘Queen takes knight,‘ he thought, feeling defeated.

She stopped just behind him and said, “You need not worry, little one. As I have told you, I mean no harm to you or your world.”

“How do I know that?” Tyler asked, raising his voice in anger and turning around. He moved so that he stepped away from her, widening the distance between them. “Unlike you, I can’t read thoughts or emotions. All I have to go on is your word, and I don’t know you well enough to trust that. For all I know, you’re planning on abducting more of my species to eat or enslave, and you’re just keeping me around as a lab specimen to learn what you can so that it‘s easier.”

Malenia was silent for a long moment. The look on her face wasn’t defensive or angry. If anything, she looked sad. “I realize your experiences thus far have been less than ideal, but if I wished you harm, I could simply rip anything I wanted from your mind, give you to Turell to do with as he pleased, and feed what was left to Romat.”

Her words made Tyler want to reach for his sword, not because he felt threatened, but because he felt helpless. Malenia smiled as if amused which only made him angrier.

“What’s so funny?”

“Your reactions are never what I expect,” she said. “You feel helpless despite being feared and respected, vulnerable after being told you are safe, and you feel guilt for killing others while defending yourself.”

At that, Tyler’s anger flared until it could no longer be contained. His eyes went wide with outrage, and he shouted, “Stay out of my head!”

What few conversations had been taking place around them ceased immediately, and all eyes followed Tyler as he stormed out of the room.
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