In Hemlock vampires are returning with the intention of taking over all living creatures. What served as the inspiration for the theme of this novel?
Well, I was always going to do a vampire book. I think, as often as we see them, we still don’t understand them. Everybody that does vampires well reinvents them for their own world. This was my chance to do that, to create a vampire that was all mine. Vampires have been in my life through other genres as long as I can remember. I wanted to see what it would look like to have a vampire in a fantasy setting, wanted to see what the creature could do and how a wizard would go about fighting a vampire. I’m fascinated with other genres, but fantasy is my home. In the past, I’ve written fantasy adventure. I’ve written fantasy horror. I just am fascinated with other genres, but I know what’s in my wheelhouse. So I enjoy mixing other genres with the fantasy world to figure out how to make them one way or the other. How do you blend a fantasy and a western? Well, in a book I wrote not too long ago, but hasn’t been published yet, I write a fantasy western. In April of 2019, my fantasy romance will hit the market. Exploring other genres I think keeps a writer sharp. But the language I’ve always spoken has been fantasy. This was my chance to write a fantasy vampire book, and if you can, you should.
I always enjoy your characters, one stood out to me this time. Aaron the Marked was a fascinating character. How did you set about developing his character and how did it differ from other characters?
Well, this is the first time we’re seeing Aaron the Marked, but it was not the first book he was written in. Because of my method of writing, my books can’t be published in chronological order. If I tried to do that, I would have series spanning decades and decades. So I have to find another way to do it. Aaron the Marked’s origin story shows up in a book that will be published April 15th, 2026. We get more of his story than we have received so far in a book that will publish October 5th, 2019. It doesn’t back up to his origin, but it backs up quite a bit. Aaron is a character that really captured my imagination. I spent a lot of time in his skin, writing him as a point of view character. I fell in love with him. So far, as written, he spans five series. He’s a major facet of my world. Aaron the Marked is a character we’ll be seeing as long as I’m writing. One day, we will be able to take all of my books and line them up in chronological order, and at that time, we’ll realize that everything I have ever written in the end, boils down to the story of two men. One of them is Aaron the Marked.
I felt like we again get to explore the dark side of humanity in this book. Do you find that you are drawn to this theme, or is this where the story leads?
All of my books are about hope in some way or another. By the end of the story we find out that it was all built on hope. Because of the childhood I lived and my life as a young adult, I have a deep understanding of despair, of the darkness of the mind and the evil people are capable of. My work is about telling people that there is a way to rise above that horror. But in order to show the power of the light, we have to explore utter darkness. So my work ends up being very dark, very depraved at points, until we climb out of that and enter happiness and well, hope. A lot of people say that my work is really dark, but I hope when they think about it a second or third time, when they find themselves trapped in despair, that they think not of the horrible parts of Jesse Teller’s novel, but of the way people were able to overcome those things, meet their darkness head-on, and triumph over it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book of The Manhunters series is called Crown. It’s already been written. It’s currently with an editor. It’ll be ready to go very soon. I’m really excited about it because if you’ve read any of my work before, you’re most likely acquainted with a character who goes by the name Sob. In her last book, we find out her children were kidnapped and taken from her. In Crown, we get to see those children. We get a glimpse of how they overcame losing their mother and the effect it had on them. No event that intense occurs within a bubble. There are always going to be ramifications. In Crown, one of the stories we embark on is the telling of those consequences. So I’m very excited to be able to explore that section of my world. We get the final segment of the telling of the Manhunters, the things they suffer, the deaths within their numbers that they have to work past, and the challenges they have to overcome. We get to meet all new villains, and alongside Rayph, try to figure out how we can prevail over them.
The busiest pirate bay in Perilisc is newly infested with vampires. These monsters will soon overrun the world, but the Manhunters must try to stop them in secret. Agents of the king are hunting Rayph’s vigilante crew. With one false step, they could all end up at a royal execution.
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Song follows Rayph Ivoryfist as he gathers his friends to return the prisoners that escaped from Mending Keep. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
It’s a simple idea. There’s a prison break. The worst criminals in the world are released, and one man takes it upon himself, with no funding and no support from the crown, to hunt these fugitives down and end their reign of terror. It’s an idea we’ve seen before, but I got stuck on it, and I thought, “What would make this idea different?” I realized the thing I wanted to focus on was the characters themselves, their relationships, and the relentless nature of their leader. It’s not a crime story. We’ve seen crime stories. Song is an exploration of friendship. So that’s what I focused on. I’ve always had this idea that if real trouble ever hit, I could call on a small collection of men and women who surround me to face off any horror that entered my life. And I think it’s not unique to me. I think everybody has that group of people, that if things really went bad, they could call on to help them fight their way out of it. This book is a love story to that kind of friendship. It asks the question, “If my back was against the wall, and I desperately needed help, who would I call on?”
When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
When I started writing the story, I had the prison break. I had the characters of the Manhunters themselves, and I had the villains. But when I write all my books, I do not know exactly how it will end or how the plot will progress. All of that comes to me as I write. This book just kept surprising me. I would write a scene and see that it was going in a completely different direction. I would write something and see a twist coming down the road. I let a friend read this book before it was published. His criticism of the book was that it paid off too many times. He said it reaches one climax after the next. I think Song is unique in the fact that I spend 250 pages setting up four different climaxes. But it wasn’t planned. The book is just complex.
As always, your characters are thoroughly developed. What is your writing process like for creating characters?
When I write a character, I like to do away with all archetypes. I think they get in the way. When I meet somebody in real life, I don’t think to myself, “Oh, that person is an underdog.” or “Oh, I know people like this. This guy is a survivor.” Those aren’t the kind of things that hit me when I meet someone. So why would I think that when creating a character? A lot of people talk about knowing the motivation of your characters. But motivation is pliable. I can tell you why Rayph does a thing because I want him to do it. The traits I like to concentrate on are my characters’ hang-ups, the things that bother them, the things they cannot tolerate. I think too often writers create characters in a bubble. They try to describe their character in artificial terms. They create a character outline or a character spreadsheet. They try to create their character in a sterile environment. But that’s not how we get to know people. I like to think about character creation as going to a soup kitchen and meeting people there. Real lives, real problems.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
Well it’s already written. The entire Manhunters series is completed. I will be doing some rewrites and final touch-ups of course, but the story’s already been told. The second book in the series comes out April 15th. It’s called Hemlock, named after the city that is the poison capital of my world. In this story, the main villains the Manhunters find themselves up against are vampires. These are not vampires as we know them in the modern world. I took inspiration for my vampires from the original legends. This is before Anne Rice, stories centuries older than Bram Stoker. In the original vampire legends, they were all monsters. No good, no mystery, no romance, just vicious monsters. When they were hungry, they were pale. After they fed, they took on a ruddy complexion. And when they were full, they were a close shade of purple, because their bodies were suffused with blood. My vampires are old and powerful, nearly immortal, and diabolical. Vampirism spreads like a poison, like a plaque, and the Manhunters fight to stem the tide. So look for it April 15, 2018.
Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.
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Set in the world of Perilisc, Jesse Teller returns to this world with another series sure to captivate readers. The Manhunters series starts off with Song, and tells two story lines that intertwine. Rayph Ivoryfist is an immortal magician that has his own personal demons to fight, but is bound by honor to protect the land and the boy he believes to be the next great ruler. When the prison he built is destroyed and all the evil had brought to justice is released he knew he needed help. Rayph than builds his own army of powerful beings, with his old friend Smear at his side. Parallel to the story of Ivoryfist preparing for battle is the story of Konnon, the father that wants a cure for his daughter’s paralysis. To help his daughter Bree, Konnon must work with his partner Glyss. Together the two of them have a reputation for being unstoppable and deadly. They live up to this reputation, knowing each other inside and out. The two pair’s separate missions will unavoidably end them up together in the town of Song, the question is, who is alive in the end?
Jesse Teller has a way with describing the setting that really makes you feel like you are there. The swamps that Rayph visits, you can almost feel the mud clinging to you, smell the decaying woods and animals used for sacrifices, and feel the tension that the people around the main characters create. The level of detail that goes into settings, also goes into the action. While this is great for really getting into things, those with a weak stomach for gore might not be pleased. Teller describes in detail the torture of some characters, and details the death of many. This level of detail may not appeal to all, but Teller can also detail the compassion and love between two characters just as well. The example of Konnon and his daughter Bree. There is no question about the devotion and love he feels for his daughter, it is relatable and pulls at the heart strings. A father’s undying love and willingness to do whatever he must to save her, no matter what the cost is to himself.
One of Teller’s greatest skills is relationships. Not romantic quest love relationships, but bonds between people and spirits. These bonds draw the readers in sometimes more than the story lines do because they are so powerful and relatable. As I read Song, I felt the bonds that form between Rayph and his army. The magic that makes it so they can all be connected is just a piece of the puzzle, they genuinely build a brotherhood and work as one. Konnon and Glyss while not blood brothers move as one unit together, they are bound and know each other so well there is no need for words. It is a great read for the relationship factor alone. If you enjoy studying and reading about human (or in this case non human) relationship Teller will not disappoint. Through his use of many magical creatures from humans, to fairies, to demons, all working together for a common goal the passion for survival and willingness to put all differences aside for is apparent. Perhaps it is a good lesson for modern society, put our differences aside and work together to defeat the evil looking to rip our world apart.
Pages: 319 | ASIN: B074GP13JC
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Mestlven follows Meredith as she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies. What themes did you use as you built this new story in the Perilisc series?
As a man without a father attempting to raise two sons, in a lot of my work, I study fatherhood. In this book, I studied motherhood, and the effects of a mother’s estrangement from her children. I wanted to study obsession and how it can dominate the mind and creep into the soul. So far in the work I’ve published, I’ve played very little with love, and the love that I did show in Chaste was an old and familiar love. In this book I wanted something new and fresh. Of course, I wanted to spend some time on revenge. It is an idea that’s gone through my mind often in my life because of my childhood, and I wanted to develop that theme and play with it in my work. In most or all of these topics, I found a certain amount of cathartic release. Mestlven really did help heal me in a lot of ways, and I’m very thankful for it.
The town of Mestlven is a haven for the depraved, dirty, greedy and perverted. How did you set about creating this vivid world?
In my past, I learned that when you live with darkness, you live in darkness. If you’re violent and ugly, the world you live in can’t help but be the same. Evil breeds more evil. The tragedy of Sob’s situation is that she is so enthralled by the idea of her own revenge that she attracts darkness to her. In many places, she had the opportunity to walk away from this darkness and find some other kind of peace. She had the friendship of Sai Sibbius Summerstone, and the love held out to her by Jeffery. But in both these situations, she turned away from that, seeking darkness. Usually, we find what we go looking for. There were many places in the city of Mestlven where you can find goodness and light. But Sob goes out of her way to avoid those places, to look for deadly pets and vile foes, and so the book is wrought with them.
The Pale is very morbid in this story. What was your inspiration for The Pale? Did anything develop organically?
For the most part, all of my work develops organically. My writing style is very much like I go around setting ideas into motion and watching them spin out of control. Very rarely do I plot an idea’s course. I started out with the idea of a festival of death, and tried to picture the city that would willingly hold such a festival. I realized that none would. None would truly welcome in the goddess of death to take over their city. So she would force her will upon them. I started looking at the sort of things that would be held sacred by the goddess of death, thinking of what would be The Pale’s virtues, what would she love? That’s when I realized she would see killers and murderers as her most beloved. She would hold sacred certain diseases, and when she sees someone like Sob, preparing to paint a masterpiece of death, she would send aid. I pictured the face of death, and what that face would look like, and for some reason, the image was of a beautiful woman with pale skin. So I named her The Pale. My gods I cast as people. They’ve all got their own likes and dislikes, loves and desires. They have their own flaws and their own sins. The only trick to creating my religion is understanding the quirks and foibles of the deity.
This being the fourth book in the Perilisc series, are you developing a fifth book or a different story?
We’re going to set this story line here for awhile. In 2019, we’ll pick up where we left off and head into a 5-book epic series I have already written that will take us through The Escape. But for now, we’re going to head southwest and find Rayph Ivoryfist for a trilogy called The Manhunters. When we left Rayph Ivoryfist in Liefdom, he had had a falling out with his king, Phomax. In my next book, Song, Rayph has been wandering the countryside of Lorinth, helping out where he can, and waiting for the king to die. Soon, a new evil organization rises, and he must gather what allies he can and rush off to face it. That’s where we go next. It introduces a set of new characters, characters that will show up again everywhere. With the first seven books I release, my goal is to build a character list. I’m introducing as many different people as I can organically in order to have them in place for later novels. What’s exciting about Song, and really the entire Manhunters series, is that we get to meet a new cast of characters, all unique and varied, all of which are leading somewhere. And we get to make cheese.
Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.
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Mestlven is the latest book in the Tales from Perilisc series by Jesse Teller. I found this to be the best book yet by Teller. The last novel Chaste left many characters in turmoil. This time Teller takes us to the city of Mestlven. Here we learn about Sob and her past. We learn about her obsession with stealing jewels and how she became the deadly assassin that she is. We also discover just how troubled and deep her instability runs and why she became this way. Joining her in this novel from the past is Emily, the young girl in Chaste that she saved and took under her wing, and Sai the swordsman that was her friend and companion on their last adventure. In this story, though, Sai is no longer her friend but an unfortunate enemy that she shares an understanding with. Teller introduces several new characters that the story line focuses on as well, Mort, the priestess of the Pale, Saykobar, a wizard of immense power, and Donnie the Ego, the young man that runs a mass crime ring. Together their destinies intertwine and we see the full savage and cruel world that Perilisc is, where modern decencies are nowhere to be found and suffering is common place no matter what your station in life is.
Mestlven is the town Sob is from, the castle Sorrow Watch, was her home when she went by the name Meredith and was married to Malcolm. She was content in that life, even though her true love Stephan, Malcolm’s brother, was dead. Malcolm loved Meredith and together they had a child, a girl named Megan. This is the baby she always referred to in Chaste. Her life however was destroyed when a group came and murdered her child and Malcolm. This set her insanity into full swing and a series of events that followed lead her to become the deadly assassin she is. Sob returns to Mestlven to exact her revenge on the people that ruined her life. The town of Mestlven is a haven for the depraved, dirty, greedy and perverted. Their perversions know no bounds and Sob means to rid the town of those that soil her home. She shows no mercy to those that made her this person. The goddess of death, The Pale, sends Mort into Mestlven to assist Sob in getting her vengeance. The Pale works in gross and morbid ways, such as taking a disease from one and then sending to another that the Pale wants to inflict pain and suffering on. Mort has the skills to do the bidding of the Pale and her works coincides with Sob’s.
Mestlven is a well composed story line with dynamic characters. Jesse Teller is able to bring their minds to life, their personalities are deep and complex. Sob’s story is heartbreaking and despite her clear insanity the reader can’t help but feel great compassion for her and want to see her achieve her goal of vengeance. So many of the other characters are not what they seem from beginning to end. You’ll end up loving characters your supposed to hate, and characters you trust will betray you. I won’t say that there is a happy ending, but sometimes you settle for just having peace. Teller has composed another great novel and I look forward to reading where the story line of Perilisc will go next.
Pages: 330 | ASIN: B06X8YNCF1
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Chaste is the third book by Jesse Teller in the Tales from Perilisc. In Teller’s prior book, Legends of Perilisc the god Cor-lyn-ber is mentioned the father of Hope and Light; Chaste focuses on Cor-lyn-ber and his followers in the small town. The town of Chaste is a remote town dedicated to Cor-lyn-ber that has been overcome with a deep sickness. Five strangers to the town arrive and all their destinies take a turn. The book is dark and filled with detailed violence. It is not for someone looking for fairies and elves. The theme of rape, abuse and murder run though the whole book revealing a dark and sick society struggling to find the light again.
The main characters are Father Frank, Cheryl the barmaid and self-appointed watcher of the town, and the five strangers, Ambul, Ruther, Sai, Sob, and Trevonne. Cheryl watched her parents die, her mother and battle and her father murdered. They were the religious leaders for Cor-lyn-ber and Cheryl from that point on lost all faith in her god. The first half of the book is all about the devastation of the town, the murders of their children, the sickness and evil that penetrates the land and people. The reader learns little about the five strangers only getting pieces of their history bit by bit. Trevonne is wizardass in training, she arrives in the town of Chaste weak and sick. Sob, an assassin and thief has taken on the role of protector of her. Ruther appears to be the leader of their group with a no nonsense mentality. Ambul and Sai call themselves brothers but they are not related. Sai is known as the great swordsman and dreams of a woman each night where they continue their love saga from afar. Ambul is referred to as the gentlest and good man known to man. He is an innocent and pure of heart, with a secret past.
The five strangers arrive in the town right after the death of another child. They all feel there is a wrongness in the town. The first night there Sob is out looking for jewelry to steal and comes in contact with the killer of the children. She recognized there was something evil and not human from the start but wasn’t staying around to investigate further. Meanwhile, back at the tavern and inn Ambul goes missing after a fight with Sai. The fight was brought on out of nowhere, the towns sickness already infecting them with its poison. From here the story of finding their missing friend, discovering the source of the sickness and purging the town of the poison is told.
The story of Cheryl is key to the novel, and she goes through a drastic transformation. Like all major transformation in life hers is a hard story and she learns lessons of pride and sacrifice. She also learns just how much control the gods of Perilisc have over her life and that of the world around her. She learns that her destiny is set by them, not herself. She must face her past, and Cor-lyn-ber himself.
Overall this book is not for the reader looking for a happy ending fantasy novel. This is fantasy at its darkest. Abuse, demons, and torture are key themes and some are described in vivid detail. If you can get past all that, the story is one of transformation, overcoming evil and delivering justice.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: B01J0FVC9S
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Legends of Perilisc is a collection of short stories that tell the mythological struggles of royalty, immortal love, unruly wizards, and lost heroes. Did this book always start out as a collection of short stories, or did you write the stories individually and later decided to consolidate them?
The stories were written individually. Many of them were written many years ago as a way of answering questions. I needed to know things about my world, like how it was created, and where certain things came from. Every world has a creation myth. I needed one of those. I wanted dragons, and I needed to know where they came from. Some stories in here helped me deal with my own demons and come to terms with my past. Some of the stories bind together books I would later write. Others were just dream stories. For instance, I always dreamt of knowing how Clark and Ferallorn met. To Love A Beast came from this desire. The plan was never to publish this book. It shouldered its way in when I realized I wanted to give prospective readers a look at the world to help them decide if they wanted to commit to reading one of my novels.
What is your favorite story from the collection and why?
I have two. The Apprentice’s War showcases a wizard named Saykobar. It is exciting to see his introduction to the world. It gave me a thrill to write the first words of his story because Saykobar goes on to do many great and terrible things. He shapes the course of the world. It was fun to watch him shrug up from the ground like the bud of a poison flower.
Then there’s The Stalwart. This was the first short story I wrote about Perilisc. I wrote it in 2005, sent it out to magazines for publishing, and received a handwritten rejection letter. I was told the story had promise, but there were major things wrong with it, major things wrong with the world it was in. No one source has had a greater impact on the creation of this world than that one letter. It focused me, helped me realize what I was doing. It’s my favorite of my many rejection letters, and I’m lucky to have gotten it.
Simon the Bard seems to be the only consistent character through the different stories. He travels the world claiming to be a simple story teller, but seems to be much more. What were your ideas when creating this character and did he turn out as planned?
In my family, there were fantastic storytellers. I wasn’t concerned with playing with my siblings and my cousins. I wanted to be standing by the poker table in the haze of smoke, listening to the adults tell wildly inappropriate stories. I always wanted to tell those kind of stories, always wanted to tell a story well. So I apprenticed under the great storytellers of my family, learning everything I could about how to craft a description and how to nail a climax. Simon is a result of that training. Stories are important. It’s how we understand who we are and the world around us. Stories give us power, the power of knowledge and the power of understanding. That was the concept behind Simon Bard. He’s a wandering storyteller. But he only goes to the people who need to hear the story. He goes to the heroes that need light cast upon the world around them in order to commit acts of bravery and startling deeds of wonder. Simon has shaped the world. He helped craft it and he loves it. He is trying to provide guidance. He is exactly how I planned him to be, and I’m very proud of him.
Will readers ever get to find out what “The Escape” is?
Yes, The Escape is so important. It is the defining moment of my world. It provides the B.C. / A.D. point for my history. The Escape is a world-changing event. It brings about much hope and much despair. I can’t tell these stories without it. It will be revealed in books to come, and its effect will forever change the face of my world.
Will there be another book that tells more stories of the land of Perilisc?
Oh, man. Is this ever a firm and resounding yes! Perilisc is the platform for 26 books. I have 21 of them written, and today I started the 22nd. In rough draft form, I have written 10,600 pages of Perilisc story. I have five more novels to write before I set Perilisc down for a moment and concentrate on other places. Perilisc is the name of a continent, not a world. These novels tell the story of that continent. But after these books have been written, I cast light on other corners of the world. I have conceived three acts to my career, and after these 26 Perilisc novels, I will have finished Act I. There is more Perilisc coming. I have decided to publish a book every six months for the next 32 years.
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Legends of Perilisc is a collection of short stories created by Jesse Teller. This collection has eight different stories that all tie together along a timeline. While each story can stand alone there is a sense that it’s building up to something that we don’t get to in this book. Each title is subtitled with a phrase like “120,000 Years Before The Escape” (Teller p.7) and “Three Years Before The Escape” (Teller p. 197). While the preface lists the date as being after the Escape it offers no clue to who is escaping what. This leaves the author open to create many more books in this series. There is one character that reoccurs in most of the stories, Simon the Bard.
At first the beginning story sounds like a twist on the Greek Mythology stories from when the Gods battled for control of the world. While some of the names mentioned do link back to mythology, most of the characters are original to Jesse Teller. Their personalities and names differ from one story to the next. I think this lack of continuity is intentional and well done showing the different times and places in Perilisc. These stories are dark; they are not happy endings with moral lessons. It is a work of fantasy unlike anything I have come across. Each individual story tells of a quest, usually the quest is to find someone and kill them. Through these short stories you get so much detail though. The author does not waste words. Every line is important to character development, the action or setting.
Piecing together information from the different stories we learn more about Simon the Bard. He is the constant so far in the world created by Teller. He travels the word claiming to be a simple story teller, but is always in the right place at the right time to offer important information. He is immortal, and has magical powers but the reader does not discover just how deep those powers go.
As with any collection of short stories it can be frustrating to get small pieces of a story line and not see where they end up. Knowing that all these story lines interact building up to “the escape” is even more frustrating given the huge jumps in time. Chances are we may never know more about the characters we read about. One example is Konnon. His story is brief, we find out about his devastating childhood, his enslavement to an enchanted beast, and his revenge. His story takes place in one night, but we don’t know how this fits into the overall story line. It is just a good snap shot into the world and how it is developing through time.
Legends of Perilisc is a great collection for the reader looking for a fresh take on fantasy novels. It is not for the reader looking for a happy ending and a magical quest with elves and good wizards. This collection is dark, full of death and evil. Topics of patricide, cannibalism, adultery, rape and many more dark topics fill these stories. A good read with an open ending leaving the author free to continue this world and create many more stories to entertain and shock his readers.
Pages: 141 | ASIN: B01I7KD9O8
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