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Ch056-Sylver’s Day Off

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“You shouldn’t have done that…'' Shera said, quietly taking the scrunched up paper out of Sylver’s hands and rewriting it so she had one that wasn’t soaked in Sameul’s blood.

I shouldn’t have done that? He stepped on me. Not figuratively, he literally stepped on me. His foot was on my back. He stepped on me, he should thank every single god that he knows that he’s still alive,” Sylver said, unable to properly express just how unusual it was that that sorcerer was still alive.

If someone had done this to Sylver the Lich… And in public…

“Stop glaring at my ferns and sign here.” Shera reprimanded, causing Sylver to look away from the aforementioned ferns, and putting his signature down where Sherra was pointing.

“Is there anything else?” Sylver asked, putting the sealed envelope into his pocket, to be given to Lola when they were to leave. A formality to make sure he was who he said he was.

“No, you’re good to go,” Shera said dismissively, folding her hands onto the table in front of her and not even looking at him.

“You’re not going to lecture or try to stop me? Warn me about what Samuel’s family will do to me, and so on and so forth. How the road from Arda to Torg is filled with bandits, monsters, and other dangers?” Sylver asked, genuinely surprised at the lack of worry.

“Would it change anything? You’re a big boy, you knew what you were doing, why should I waste my nerves on someone with a death wish?” Shera asked, as nonchalant as Sylver normally appeared to be.

Ah… Seeing me break another man’s jaw must have destroyed whatever boyish charm I started with. Not to mention she probably knows about all the other stuff I did.

Sylver was almost ready to leave, when it finally dawned on him.

“I apologize for grabbing you by the horns. I wasn’t myself at that moment, and did it without thinking. I’m grateful you tried to protect me, but I am more than capable of defending myself. But I do hope I didn’t put you in a bad position with my actions,” Sylver said, bowing quite low in apology.

“I forgive you. And you don’t have to worry about me, you should worry about yourself. The Du’Rodiers are… Look, it doesn’t matter what I’m going to say, you’re just going to ignore it and do whatever you were planning on doing anyway,” Shera repeated, although without the venom she had in her voice the first time she said it.

“That will very likely be the case, but I appreciate the gesture. But hopefully, this will be enough to dissuade any further problems. I’m still at a complete loss as to how this is the first time someone put him in his place.” Sylver said, still not fully accepting that what had happened, happened. He wasn’t in denial exactly, but he still wasn’t 100% sure it had really occurred.

“Since there isn’t really a polite way to say it, but I’m fairly certain this was all because you are a necromancer. Imagine if you met someone who… oh wow I was about to say something really impolite just now. This can’t be the first time someone’s made an issue of your choice of class?” Shera asked, causing a vaguely blank look to appear on Sylver’s face.

“It’s not that… there’s usually at least a trace of fear accompanied by the visceral hatred. This was just hatred, he didn’t see me as a threat. And I think that set me off more than anything,” Sylver explained, thinking back to all the times he’d been judged because of his profession and now class.

“To be fair. He is 18 levels higher than you. Would you be afraid of someone who was level 22?” Shera asked, making Sylver think back to the hundreds of bandits he had converted into shades a few weeks prior.

“Not afraid exactly, but I would still be cautious. I’ve nearly died to things and people that I never would have imagined could harm me, let alone kill me. I mean, it’s not as if someone needs to be physically or magically stronger than me to kill me. One poisoned dart, and a good enough poison, and I’m done. Doesn’t even matter who shot it. There’s no benefit to underestimating someone, only loss, and danger.” Sylver summarized, thinking back to all the times he’d been killed.

The worst was still when he fell asleep and was eaten and digested by a small serpent, barely the width of his arm. Just because he had killed the queen of the swamp, didn’t mean he was suddenly impervious to being eaten by reptiles.

“That’s a good attitude to have. Too many adventurers get cocky and get careless and end up losing their lives. There was this one adventurer we used to have, level 112, he fell asleep in an area full of level 5 slimes, and one managed to get inside him and he was eaten from the inside before he could get help.” Shera said, with a slightly saddened chuckle.

“What a stupid way to go,” Sylver said, laughing nervously, remembering the exact same thing happening to him when he was younger. Except in his case, the slime managed to get into his bloodstream and severed his mana channels rendering him powerless. So while he was actually killed by the cannibalistic cult that ruled that area, he still considered his death to be the fault of the slime.

“Before I forget,” Shera said, her tone changing into a hushed whisper, requiring Sylver to lean down to hear her properly. “There are a few curse related quests that aren’t made public, would you be interested in me looking into them so you can take them? They’re usually very well paying, but you don’t get anything if you fail. Obviously, they’re all incredibly dangerous, but you already know that.” Shera asked.

“Oh, absolutely. As long as it isn’t too far away, I’m very interested. But not right now, I’ll let you know when I’m looking for work. But if there’s something in Arda, I’ll try to go see it when I have the time.” Sylver whispered back, genuinely happy to hear there weren’t enough curse breakers around to handle all the quests.

“Actually… There is one, but it’s not exactly a curse. A haunted house, so to speak. The quest giver just wants an item that’s locked in the basement, but there are level 90 to 100 phantoms guarding it.”

“Only phantoms? Nothing else, just phantoms?” Sylver asked, unable to contain the grin in his voice.

“Just phantoms, a priest appraised it a few months ago. Do you want me to find the quest for you? The payment is the house itself.” Shera said, causing Sylver’s grin to disappear entirely.

That sounds like the kind of thing a hero would get lucky with… The signs are starting to pile up, these can’t all be coincidences. Fuck…

Sylver tapped his foot as he thought about it, and considered the chances of accidentally stepping on the toes of a hero by taking this quest.

“I’d like to see the house, before I make a decision. Could you tell me the address?” Sylver asked, deciding to see if it was even worth the effort in the first place.

On the one hand, he was overreacting. He was a nobody right now, a hero would have no reason to seek him out, let alone want to fight him. An ancient lich was one thing, everyone assumed he had a giant hoard full of weapons and magical items.

Which he did but not because he was a lich, but because he liked collecting things and couldn’t shake that habit no matter how old he got. And he didn’t have a hoard, he had an armory, and trophy room, that just so happened to be filled with phantasmal weapons he had gathered from all the people that had tried to kill him.

Plus maybe this was a weak hero? Or the hero died before even making it to the city. And if it’s one of the psychotic ones, surely they wouldn’t bother with a mere level 40 necromancer?

*

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*

“Do you know what this is?” Sylver asked, standing in front of the enchanted and locked gates.

“Beyond perfect? Barely 10 minutes away from Lola’s workshop, 5 minutes from Salgok’s, close enough to the wall that you could easily dig a tunnel out of the city and none would be the wiser, and there’s allegedly a massive basement that would be perfect for a secret private workshop.” Spring said, speaking Sylver’s thoughts out loud.

“I’m not just being paranoid, things never go this well for me. For fucks sake, I once stepped on an artifact I spent 20 years trying to find. Everything has been going too well since I woke up here, I don’t believe it’s all just a coincidence,” Sylver said, sending the shade the memory in question and causing it to smile while holding in a laugh.

“I can see where you’re coming from, but at least from my point of view you didn’t just stumble into things, you forced your way into them. The king of cats kind of jumpstarted everything, but it’s not like she would have asked for you if she didn’t somehow know about what you were capable of? Then the Cord’s mission inside Tuli, where you succeeded purely because of the choices you made and your abilities. Admittedly the fact that those Black Mane members were the honorable type, was pure luck, but even then I would argue if you didn’t try to appeal to their honor, they never would have agreed to one on one duels.” Spring explained, pacing around the way Sylver often did when deep in thought. He even had his hands clasped behind his back in much the same manner.

Sylver almost started to do the same, but just stared at the mansion. He waited for his gut to tell him what to do, and was disappointed in its indecision.

“Absolute worst-case scenario, this is a setup for me. Maybe a special trap just for me, a way to find people with specific skills to kill or capture them, or some other thing I’m not thinking of. Best case scenario, I essentially get a giant mansion for free.” Sylver said, sending the relevant information to Spring.

The shade actually gulped when he assimilated the knowledge.

“Oh wow. How is something like this not common knowledge? Fuck me, is this really true?” Spring asked, going over the piece of information over and over.

“Because it’s one thing to know phantoms are harmless, and an entirely different thing to know phantoms are harmless,” Sylver explained, looking behind himself where he felt someone’s gaze coming from.

“What’s the difference?” Spring asked, sending shades in the direction Sylver was looking.

“A matter of faith, kind of. In the same way, there are some illusion based spells that can hurt you if you think they can, as long as you know it’s an illusion, they can’t do anything to you. I was the absolute bane of certain fae, because I knew they couldn’t do anything to me, so they couldn’t do anything to me. Same thing with phantoms. Because I know they can’t hurt me, they can’t hurt me. And I know they can’t hurt me because I know they can’t hurt me.” Sylver said, turning back to look at the mansion and waiting for Spring to get everyone into position.

“A closed circle basically. You could invite Leke over, and no longer have to wait for her to have a day off and bribe her roommates to be out of the apartment.” Spring suggested, waiting for the archers to finish notching their arrows.

“I’m not about to potentially step on the toes of a hero, just because I’d have a place to invite women to, and not have to constantly protect them from Ron’s miasma,” Sylver said, glancing backward and mapping out his path before looking back at the mansion.

“What if I said there’s a leyline right beneath the mansion?” Spring asked, causing Sylver to chortle

“Then I would say this is 100% meant for a hero… On my mark.” Sylver said, whispering the last part.

With a gentle tap of his foot, the ground beneath Sylver exploded with movement, and a cylindrical pillar of earth launched him high into the air, bright flashy flames leaving an afterimage from how fast he was flying upwards, spinning and silently lighting up the empty street around him, pulling both of the watcher’s attention solely onto him.

He knew it had failed before he even reached the floor. The pillar of earth receded back into the floor, the torn open cobblestone road going back to exactly how it was before, not even leaving a trace of the magic being used.

“Same thing as last time. Instantly disappeared. BUT!” Spring said, his first two sentences filled with disappointment and lifeless, and the last one causing Sylver to flinch from how loudly he said the word.

An archer shade ran out from the now empty alleyway, carefully clutching a single dark arrow in its hand, and almost smiling. Spring took the arrow out of the archer’s hand, and let the shade dissolve back into the shadows.

Sylver looked down at the arrow, and could just barely see it. Not even enough to become a drop, but there was the faintest layer of blood on the edge of the arrow’s tip.

“You know, I take it back. I’m being too pessimistic. It’s not like I’d be getting this mansion for sitting on my ass, I worked hard to learn how to become immune to phantoms,” Sylver said, as gently as humanly possible, holding a glass vial under the tip of the arrow and washing the blood off of it with water coming out of thin air.

“My thoughts exactly! You’re just reaping the rewards of the seeds you sowed hundreds of years ago! And it’s not like just anyone could have done this, just like with the cat curse, you have extremely specific skills that fit this extremely specific situation. There’s no shame in taking advantage of that,” Spring said, as the just barely pink water filled up the vial with Sylver sealing it closed.

“But this would be the opposite of staying low key…”

“You mean like beating the living piss out of the son/relative of the Duke of Silia? I think it’s a little too late for that.” Spring said, dropping the arrow back to the floor to let it fade away.

“He stepped on me!” Sylver exclaimed, holding the almost completely clear vial against a ball of magical light.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have done that. But I am saying, staying low key was for when you were weak,” Spring countered, also looking at the vial but not seeing the extremely faint pink color in it.

“How about this. If we find something good at the auction, I’ll take the quest and move into the manor. And if not, I’ll wait until I’m at least level 75 before moving in. Sounds good?” Sylver asked, gently wrapping the vial up in a piece of cloth and hiding it inside his robe.

“How long do you think it would take to get to 75?” Spring asked.

“2 months if I really put my mind to it I guess? But first I need to go to the auction, check if Poppy Da’Batstoi is really the woman who killed me and nearly killed Yeva, summon a demon for Nameless and make a deal with it, confront the woman in white, help Tuli if I can, and then… Right, and hunt down Nautis again… And… Kill Nameless for trying to mind control me, and… Faun? He’s still alive and hiding somewhere, so he’s on my list… Also, find Carr De’Nerto who stole my work, but the cats are the ones handling that… Oh right, track down whoever is following us. But I need a living human body for that…” Sylver counted out, walking through the dark street and fixing the small holes the archers and rogue shades had made on the floors and walls when they missed their targets.

“You don’t believe the words of a dying man?” Spring asked, referring to the fact that Poppy’s came from him back when he was alive.

“You seemed like a really solid guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the last thing you did was try to protect your allies. But finger’s crossed you were a treacherous bastard who only cared about fighting and didn’t think twice about trading the name of the woman who abandoned you in exchange for finding out why you lost,” Sylver said, unable to fix the wooden trash box and just covering the hole with some clay.

“Well if I knew her name, she must have some connection to me. So she will at the very least reveal a bit more about me, which we can use to find the woman.” Spring argued.

“We will just have to wait and see…” Sylver answered, giving up on fixing the shattered window and just shoving a few gold coins through it.

*

*

*

After packing his bags and sorting out his tools and weapons, cleaning up his workshop, and buying a few spell components from Tera’s shop, Sylver still had an entire day to kill.

Going down into the tunnels below was out, since he could get lost and miss Lola’s caravan leaving. Going bandit hunting was also out, since the closest one the guild knew about was at least a full day’s travel away. So all that left was either aimlessly wandering around the city, given that Leke was busy, or trying his hand at finding more books that were written by him and shamelessly stolen from.

So Sylver went wolf hunting instead.

With the help of the shades searching the entire area in a matter of minutes, finding the pack of giant wolves was extremely easy.

They were about the size of horses, slightly larger, and on top of their extremely durable and protective fur, they boasted an extreme resistance to poison, as well as having venomous fangs. Hence ‘Venom Wolves’.

[Venom Wolf (Wild Alpha Warrior) – 49]
[HP-722]
[MP-92]

The fight started off normally enough. Will the wyvern appeared in the middle of the resting pack, roaring his silent roar, but causing every single wolf to run in a different direction, completely ignoring the barking commands of their alpha, too panicked to listen to sound advice and stick together.

There were 9 of them in total, 10 if you counted the alpha, and each venom wolf got 5 shades, 2 melees, 3 ranged, to keep them occupied, while Sylver dealt with the alpha.

The wolf was larger than its subordinates, almost twice as large as a horse, with visibly thicker fur and scars spread out all over its mouth and sides. Sylver noted that a few looked to be from swords, and guessed that it was a desperate attack made by people who were already caught in the beast’s jaw.

The alpha wolf didn’t even bother pretending it cared about all the illusions Sylver had made around himself, and went straight at him, bouncing off one tree trunk and another, reaching Sylver’s vantage point in less than a second.

Sylver was prepared for a frontal assault, and realized far too late it was a feint, and was sent flying backward from the whip-like tail the wolf had attacked him with. The robe had absorbed most of the force, and cushioned Sylver’s fall back to the ground.

By the time Sylver got his feet back under him, the wolf was already less than 10 steps away from reaching him. Flying into the air via explosions under his feet proved to be a poor decision, as the wolf quite simply jumped and collided with Sylver midair.

It got a face full of darts in the face as Sylver dodged out of the way, as well as a concentrated beam of fire directly into its open maw, but brushed most of the damage off.

[Venom Wolf (Wild Alpha Warrior) – 49]
[HP-644]
[MP-63]

Sylver looked at the running beast and decided he was done trying to handle it like a fighter.

With a light tap of his foot the ground opened up below Sylver, and he fell down into the deep hole he had just created. The vertical tunnel sealed shut at the top, with the wolf’s nose pointing directly into the tiny hole Sylver left so he could breathe.

The wolf managed to move its face away to avoid the earth spike, and dodged the next one just as easily.

It very suddenly found itself surrounded from all sides, black and yellow humanoid creatures, armed with swords, shields, daggers, or greatswords, and all rushing towards it. With a wave of its long tail the wolf managed to destroy about half of these creatures, but sadly couldn’t avoid being shot with arrows and stabbed with their weapons from the other half. Strangely the creatures aimed for the wolf’s limbs, and not one tried to go for its body.

It continued it’s spin, killing off more of these creatures, and stood with it’s damaged front paw raised off the ground. Looking around, it once again found itself surrounded by those very same creatures, one, in particular, more yellow than black and moving its hands around like an orchestra conductor.

The wolf tried to repeat it’s spinning attack, but saw that the creatures that would have been destroyed by it were gone before its tail reached them. It was once again hit from its unguarded side, reacting far too slowly.

It ran towards the creature it perceived as the leader, and snapped it’s jaws at it, biting nothing but empty air. The same black and yellow creature appeared directly underneath it, shoving a thin dagger upwards and just barely missing it’s giant heart, getting destroyed as the wolf slashed it with its sharp claws

More black and yellow creatures appeared all around, attacking the wolf from all sides, constantly appearing and disappearing, staying out of its reach, and hitting its limbs at every chance they got.

[Venom Wolf (Wild Alpha Warrior) – 49]
[HP-130]
[MP-19]

Sylver flew out of the hole, descending down onto the heavily wounded and bleeding wolf, drawing his dagger and getting absolutely drenched in blood as he stabbed the beast through the back of its neck and twisted the dagger to sever the spinal cord.

[Venom Wolf (Wild Alpha Warrior) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (II) Proficiency increased to 22%!]

[Venom Wolf (Wild Warrior) Defeated!]

[Venom Wolf (Wild Warrior) Defeated!]

“Once you figure out their pattern, it’s not that hard,” Spring said, accepting the mana from Sylver and reforming to stand next to him.

“How many are left?” Sylver asked, pulling the dagger out and cleaning it off with water before absorbing it back into his robe.

“3 more. I think there were a few low leveled ones that didn’t even get counted. But all of them died with minimal damage to their pelts. Reg even managed to stab one through its mouth, it’s only got a few arrow holes on its rear legs” Spring answered, as Sylver jumped down and Spring was already by his side again.

“Great. Do you need my help with them?” Sylver asked, continuing to drain the dead alpha wolf and using it to heal the shattered shades in his shadow.

[Venom Wolf (Wild Warrior) Defeated!]

“Not really.”

[Venom Wolf (None) Defeated!]

“They’re actually kind of slow, when they’re confused.”

[Venom Wolf (Wild Warrior) Defeated!]

“Oh wow, that last one had zero spatial awareness. Tried to run away and very nearly hit its head on a tree trunk.” Spring said, maneuvering the last of the dead shades into Sylver’s shadow to be healed.

“Gather them up for me. How do you feel about the name Ulvik?” Sylver asked, sticking his hand inside the alpha wolf’s jaw and seeing if he could get the venom sack out in one piece.

“Good of a name as any,” Spring said.

“Ah fuck,” Sylver swore, as his attempt to cut out the venom sack failed and he got his gloves and sleeve soaked in venom.

“Whatever…” Sylver said to himself, washing the venom away and waiting for the darkness to build up inside of his stomach.

“Do you not need to dissect it or anything?” Spring asked, directing the shades to drop the other 9 corpses into a single file line in an empty space nearby.

“It’s a mammal. I’m good with mammals. And getting the muscle structure right is easy, especially on quadrupeds. There’s more room for error, unlike bipedal creatures. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was for me at the start. I couldn’t get a single shade to stand up properly! Zero balance, took me years to get it right. Zombies obviously have everything ready, but I was stubborn, and it paid off in the end.” Sylver explained, tapping his guild tag on the dead alpha wolf. It made a soft ping noise and glowed green for a moment.

“Are you going to do the other too?” Spring asked, following behind Sylver as he tapped the dead wolves and stood still for a moment marveling at how convenient this small tag was.

“They’re too big, there’s no point to it. If I kept them as zombies, maybe, but shades bigger than you are too big of a target, and too easy to get grazed and get destroyed,” Sylver explained, checking to see how much damage each wolf had taken.

“It would be nice to have a whole pack…” Spring said, lifting one large leg up so Sylver could see if there was any damage on its stomach.

“How about snakes instead? I like snakes. And they’re small and quick. I’ll get you some snakes when I get the chance.” Sylver said, walking back over to the dead alpha wolf.

“I would still prefer to have a pack of wolves. Ride them into battle and so on,” Spring offered, causing Sylver to chuckle to himself.

“And do what? Joust? Oh shit, that actually reminds me, we need spears. Can’t believe I forgot something so basic. Remind me to ask Salgok to make the tips for me when I get back.” Sylver said, hitting himself on the forehead for forgetting about spears.

“So shades armed with spears riding on wolves?” Spring offered, actually making Sylver pause at the mental image.

“You’ve convinced me. Turn them over, and put them near the alpha.” Sylver ordered, walking back to the dead alpha wolf and sitting down. It would take a while for him to get enough mana to raise all 10 of them, but he wasn’t in a rush.

*

*

*

[Shade (Common)] Raised!]

[Shade (Lesser)] Raised!]

[Raise Shade (III) Proficiency increased to 4%!]

“What do you think I’m doing wrong? Skill wise?” Sylver asked, as the last corpse melted down into a puddle and a shade started to slowly climb out of it.

“I genuinely have no idea. These look absolutely perfect to me,” Spring said, stroking the wolf shade closest to him, and climbing up to ride it.

Sylver was a bit at a loss as to how quickly Spring’s personality had developed. But on the other hand, he was glad he was as cheerful as he was, because Sylver couldn’t stand having another Rook around.

If Rook wasn’t so unbelievably smart and useful, Sylver would have unsummoned him the next day.

The wolves had surprisingly enough retained their hair during the transition, partially due to Sylver’s abilities, but also due to the fact that their fur seemed to be a big part of their perception of themselves.

However, instead of their coarse and thick guard hairs, they all now had soft and wispy looking coats. The yellow cracks were mostly limited to their bellies and sides, their backs remaining almost completely black, eyes bright yellow and their mouths almost glowing from all their teeth being as pure yellow as the other shades weapons were.

“Your name is Ulvic,” Sylver said, pointing at the alpha wolf turned shade, and getting a very slight nod from it.

[Shade (Common)] has received the name [Ulvic]
[Requirements for evolution not met.]

“Does naming it do anything?” Spring asked, ordering the other wolves down into Sylver’s shadow.

“Not particularly. There are several conditions that need to be met for a shade to evolve, and I am in no position to meet even one of them.” Sylver explained, following Spring’s example and climbing up on Ulvic.

“Like what?” Spring asked, having his wolf shade walk next to Ulvic.

If anyone was looking at them, they would see a man dressed in a robe so black it looked like pure darkness, riding a giant wolf that was completely black, save for glowing yellow cracks all over its sides and razor-sharp glowing yellow teeth, next to a man riding a slightly smaller black and yellow wolf, but with perfectly black skin, and glowing yellow orbs for eyes.

“There’s a special crystal I need that I could use to hold one of you. It would allow me to completely saturate your entire body with mana, and then I would be able to draw more frameworks on your insides and give you an ability or two, or even make it so you could use the skills and abilities you had when you were alive. But it has to be my mana, and if I try to do it now I would need about 3 years of sitting perfectly still and pouring every single drop into the crystal.” Sylver explained, demonstrating by placing his hand onto Ulvic and causing the yellow cracks to glow brighter from the added mana, before removing his hand and causing them to go back to their regular light level.

“Damn… On the bright side, watch this!” Spring said, with Sylver turning to look at him.

At first, there was just one Spring riding the wolf, and before Sylver could finish blinking there were two, riding on the wolf together.

Spring grimaced and scrunched up his face and returned to being just one.

“That was fucking horrendous. It felt like my perception of time was curb-stomped, and it felt so weird to have two of me talking to each other,” Spring complained, as Sylver summoned a wolf from his shadow, and had it split into two. It looked about as pleased with it as Spring did, but remained as it was. Sylver gestured with his hand and 4 identical wolves now stood there. He attempted to have them split into 8, but found that they couldn’t.

“It’s limited by something. I don’t think they can split if one of their stats is at 1. With the wolves’ low mana, 2 seems to be the limit. More balanced creatures will be able to split into more copies, I’m guessing. Add experimenting with this to my to-do list,” Sylver said, thinking out loud and summoning an archer to see how many times he could split it.

Archers could handle 4 splits, swordsmen could handle 3, and the highest one Sylver could find while riding Ulvic back to Arda was 5 splits, by one of Reg’s rogues. Although by that point the shade was so weak, it had trouble lifting its own weapons.

“There’s potential in this, I can feel it,” Sylver said, as he could see the city walls in the distance and had Spring and his wolf return to his shadow so he could see how fast Ulvic could run.

And the giant wolf was pretty fucking fast.

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