Loyalty or Betrayal? [Unmaking Quest - Kidnapped]

Shinku

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Shinku bathed in the rays of the afternoon sun as he stepped out of a restaurant in Arcadia, after a couple hours of contemplating. The facade of peace still masked the chaos that loomed in the city. Almost empty streets, the deafening silence, and the ominous feeling of dread drowned the young man as he rambled along the concrete road. His mind could not stop pondering about the arbiter’s plea, of the refugees that were all lost and distressed.

It was but a few steps when Shinku heard the wailing of a lady not far from where he was. Concerned, he ran towards a corner to stumble upon the sight of Elise, the lady that he just helped. The wailing he heard appeared to be from Elise’s companion who seemed to be troubled. It was of course in his very nature to eavesdrop on conversations, in fact he has mastered the art during his stay at Opealon however, it was on rare occasions that he’d actually take interest in something that wouldn’t concern his targets.

“Oh Trey I’m glad that you’re still here. You can fight can you? I mean you have that sword with you.” Standing at plain sight, it wasn’t that hard for Elise to notice the young man, staring at them from merely a few feet. “I know it’s too much but we really need your help!” Without wasting a second, the lady rushed towards Shinku, her request laid down in a haste.

“Yes...I can fight. But what exactly is it that you need help from?” It did surprise Shinku that the lady just boldly ran towards him. It was funny that his memory of the lady was that of a passive, apprehensive one whom he had to force his assistance to. Though accounting for Elise’s timid nature, the young man could feel that the situation must be so dire.

“They have my son and my husband! Please save them! I beg of you!” Elise’s companion followed suit and begged, her eyes drenched in tears and her skin faded into a pallid complexion. She threw herself down in despair, her body shaking in anguish.

“Calm down Janica. Everything will be alright I promise.” Elise turned to her companion and consoled the distressed woman. She held both of the woman’s hands and tried to gesture for her to stand up.

“I would like to listen to your request in detail but I don’t think this is the right place for us to talk.” There was a subtle shift in the air. Ajar windows proved of wary eyes and ears that the trio had caught. Shinku, aware of the surroundings through his shadow art, hushed both the ladies. “Follow me. Let’s go to my place.” They might be a harmless lot but Shinku wouldn’t want to add further to the fear that has already struck the hearts of Arcadia’s citizens. He wanted to disappear in the shadows unfortunately, his abilities weren’t that good enough to bring the ladies with him.

---
“Here’s your card. Enjoy your visit at Suvaro Inn!” The receptionist greeted Shinku with a full smile, as she handed the key card. The young man bowed his head as a gesture of gratitude to the staff, then turned to face the two ladies behind him.

“You don’t have to do this you know. This is too much already.” Elise contested, almost hesitant on accepting the card key for their room. “Where did you get the money for these anyway?”

“Pardon me but I don’t think we have time for that discussion as of yet. Come follow me upstairs.” Shinku went ahead, the new card key still in his hand. “And don’t worry, I’ll just join you for a while to listen to your story then I’ll leave the room for both of you afterwards.” Somewhat reassured, Elise decided to follow the young man’s steps with her companion just tailing behind.

The inn’s eccentric design somehow fascinated Elise however, its elegant ambience brought out the feeling of estrangement in the lady. As she walked the ivory floor, it dawned to her that in such a world, they could never fit in. It broke her heart that her home, along with the world of Governmorne would be nothing but mere memories lost in the past. She wanted to weep, but had to keep her tears for the sake of her friend whose family had just been taken away.

“We’re here.” Ceremonially, Shinku showed the key card to Elise, then slowly placed the card on a small glass-like part of the door near it’s knob. He did the motion instructively, making sure that his companion could follow. A clicking sound prompted the young man to turn the knob and open the door. “After you ladies.” With a chivalrous gesture, Shinku motioned the ladies to step in before him.

Elise paused and looked inside the room, filled with incertitude whether to actually trust the young man. “I’m sorry but could you give us some time alone first?” The lady begged, her head bowed in courtesy of the man that was trying to help them.

“Of course. Oh, here take this.” In response to the lady’s plea, Shinku stepped away from the door then handed her the key card. “I’d be going to my room first. And that would be downstairs, on this room number.” Heedlessly, he pulled his own keycard and showed the side where his room number was printed. Without much ado, he turned away from his companions and walked towards the stairs.

“Uhmmm...Thanks!” Timidly, Elise followed up a small notice of gratitude. “And I’m sorry for all the trouble. We’ll come to you once we’re ready.”

“No rush. I’ll just be waiting downstairs.” Without facing the ladies, Shinku responded with the assurance of his patience. As eager as he was to attend to their request, he couldn’t just force them to trust him right away. What mattered most, was that he knew they were safe. At least for now.

1000/10,000
 
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Shinku

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Memories, could they be chains that lock us in the past or gifts that guide us in the future? For Shinku they were the only treasure he had that connected him from his family. Merely memories, lost in the pit of time.

As he waited for the ladies, Shinku couldn’t help but relinquish his memories of old times.

“Thanks Kane, we really don’t know what would become of us if not for you.” A man of pallid complexion spoke, his voice shaking in fatigue or hunger. “Once this famine is over, I’m sure to give back to you ten folds.”

“Don’t worry about it Aito, you know how glad I am to be always of help. And don’t worry, we will all survive this. I’m sure of it.” A smile from Shinku’s father sent off the weary man almost bursting in tears.

“Uhmmm father, wouldn’t we run out of food if we keep on sharing what we have? Will we even last till tomorrow?” Young Shinku protested, his eyes anxious of their hardship ahead.

“There’s still so much that we can do about tomorrow son. If we turn a blind eye for those who need our help now, there’s no turning that back. Besides, would you rather have people taking us for granted, should we be the ones that are in need of help?” Kane lectured the anxious kid, hoping to somehow influence the boy of kindness.

It would have been a memory worth reminiscing however, the sudden sound of an electronic chime pulled him out of his daydream. Being apprehensive as he was, Shinku decided to sense his visitor’s spiritual signature before making his way towards the door. Quickly, he recognized the aura of Elise, who seemed to be alone behind the door, thus making him move with haste. He quickly opened the door for the lady, as not to make her wait much longer.

“Uhmmmm...I’m ready to talk about it now. But well...can we do that downstairs?” The lady wasted no time on laying the motive for her visit, speaking the moment Shinku opened the door.

“Sure just give me a minute. Actually, can you go ahead? I promise to go down as soon as I can.” The young man responded, politely sending the lady off with the assurance of his aid.

“For sure. I’ll wait for you at the lobby then.” Trustful of her savior, Elise made her way to the inn’s lobby to wait for Shiku.

True to his word, Shinku met with the lady without much delay. Being the sole person at the inn’s lobby area, the young man was quickly able to see Elise, sitting at a wooden stool on the corner. He made haste to join the lady, taking a seat at another stool just beside her.

“Hey, so can you tell me what help is it that your friend is in need for?” Without further courtesies, Shinku quickly started with his inquiry.

“Well, I already told you what happened to our world and how some of us ended up here. Most of us are still barely getting by and yet, we face another peril. There are some of us that have developed some sick religion...ugh cult of worshipping Darkseid, the one they say is responsible for the destruction of our world. They believe that we all are that demon’s lost property and that they ought to return us to him. Well...I know because a friend of mine is part of that cult. He once convinced me to join them but of course I refused. There’s no way that I would be part of that group. He tried to force me to be one of them, even trying to drag me with him but I was able to resist him and run away. He kept on insisting that it was the right thing to do and joining them would guarantee my safety but I couldn’t bear joining a sick cult such as theirs. Now Janica’s husband and daughter are missing and I believe it was their doing. She was able to catch a glimpse of several robed men leaving from their makeshift abode one night when she came home late. She was lucky that she was able to find a place to hide or she might have been taken as well. That same night, when she entered their shack, her husband and daughter were nowhere to be found. She thought that they were from this world, warning us to leave but from her description of their robes, I am sure that it’s them.” Elise narrated, her voice trembling in fury.

“Hmmm.. how did she describe their robes then?” Shinku inquired, hoping to get a piece of clue about his targets. He moved his eyes around, checking for anyone else that could be watching them. Luckily, the lobby was empty of people save for the receptionist who seemed to be taking a nap.

“Oh of course. She caught a glimpse of this symbol on the back of their robes.” Taking a piece of paper and a pen, the lady drew an omega symbol before the young man. “I know that it’s them for I saw that same symbol on the hand of the friend I told you about.” She continued, her eyes locked on the man who she hoped would aid them on retrieving her friend's family.

“Do you have any clue of their possible hideout?” Shinku probed, eager to extend his aid for the lady.

“Well, I have no idea except that I once saw my friend...errr past friend entering a dark alley beyond the slums. Well that’s where most of us are.” The lady could only bow in disappointment, realizing how impossible their search could be.

“That’ll do. Can you take me to that place? I’ll start from there. And I promise to bring your friend’s family back.” Shinku spoke sternly, aiming to spark some hope from the lady’s anxiety. He once saw his families and friends slaughtered before him, and he doesn’t plan on witnessing the same for others now that he somehow got the power to fight for them.

“Thank you. You don’t know how much this means to me...to us.” The lady burst into tears, moved by the young man’s determination to help them.

“Don’t mention it. Now we have to move as fast as we can before it’s too late.” Shinku stood up, taking the lady by her hand. As much as he wanted to comfort the lady at her drama, he deemed that they could not waste more time if they wanted to see Janica’s family alive.

1100+1000=2100/10,000
 

Shinku

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The familiar stench of Arcadia’s urban outskirts met Shinku as he followed Elise towards the place where Darkseid’s occult followers were allegedly gathering. Yet again, he was met by the area’s old, shabby structures just as he remembered it when he visited Reeze’s place along with Jak for a bodyguard mission. He has gotten used to the stale odor of the air around him for it was almost the same air he breathed back at Kirden Wharf. The place was dreadfully quiet in contrast with its bustling ambience since the assassin’s last visit. The streets were all empty and all structures closed as if the two were stepping into a ghost town. After quite a long walk, they went to a sudden stop with the lady leaning against a wall on a street corner.

“There, on that narrow alley. Most of us avoid going near this area. I believe it’s common knowledge that this area belongs to a certain gang, uhmmm I forgot what they are called,” Elise informed, with her eyes fixed on the alley she was pointing at.

“I see. Well you said you live around here right?” Still behind the lady, Shinku whispered while concentrating on sensing any malicious presence around them.

“Yes I live just…” before Elise could even finish her speech, Shinku suddenly disappeared leaving a trace of his shadow that also disappeared after quite a while. It’s just a good thing that the lady decided to turn and face Shinku or she would have gone on talking without actually speaking to anyone. “Hey where the hell did you disappear to?” Dumfounded, the lady tried to look everywhere but found not a single trace of her companion.

Wanting to leave the lady out of danger, Shinku decided to delve into the shadow realm and portal himself out towards the end of the alley pointed out by Elise, having been able to map the area when he first visited it with Jak. To his disappointment however, he seemed to have stuck in the shadow realm for some unknown reason.

A mist of darkness and void surrounded the assassin of shadows from every side. Even the ground itself made him feel like he’s stepping on thin air, something that he has gotten used to but not for a long time. Even though he has occasionally accessed the realm through his teleportation skill, being stuck in the place gave him quite some discomfort. Moreover, it wasn’t his intention to stay at the realm but to simply pass by and access its infinite portals.

A sudden dread came over him upon sensing an unknown presence from behind him. “Ah, and we meet again.” Threatened, Shinku quickly pulled his sword and turned to face the direction from where the voice came from. It was a voice he could never forget from the time he was doing a mission at the F-Zero arena. “And oh, it seems like you still remember me. I must say I’m flattered,” the man continued mockingly, realizing how the assassin of shadows got tensed by his mere presence. The stranger stood at quite some distance from Shinku but seemed to project an aura that almost suffocated the assassin of shadows.

“Who are you and how are you able to access this realm?” Knowing that the man isn’t an enemy he couldn’t easily deal with, Shinku decided to hold his actions and look for an opportunity to make the right move. The man’s face still wasn’t recognizable from his view, thanks to the natural darkness inside the shadow realm. What took Shinku’s attention however, was the form of a black horse standing right beside the stranger. Even with the realm’s darkness, the creature’s distinctive black fur and purplish black manes were still surprisingly distinguishable. The dark flames that streamed from each of the creature’s fetlocks glowed in the realm’s absolute darkness.The assassin of shadows was obviously familiar with the creature, with its presence adding up to the fear that has started to build up inside him.

“Well I think that’s a story for another time. Right now I believe you have something urgent to do so I won’t hold you that long. Like I told you the last time I simply wanted for us to talk but well, as of now, take this as a gift from me. I guess I messed you pretty bad the last time and as a token of apology, I caught this shadowsteed for you.” With a flick of the man’s finger, the dark horse beside him suddenly disappeared and then showed up right beside Shinku.

“Don’t you think it’s quite dangerous to attack an enemy’s fortress without enough weapons of your own? Well, that thing would certainly be of big help. And I’m sure you know how formidable that creature is.” Shinku decided to take a glimpse of the fearsome creature but kept his attention at the stranger. The dark horse seemed tame enough to simply stand still right beside him even though it's known for its aggressive behavior.

“Alright I’m off now, see you some other time lad.” As quickly as he appeared, the stranger suddenly vanished, with Shinku being sucked in by an unknown force. He knew the same feeling when stepping on each of the realm’s portals but being simply sucked in without him stepping on one, didn’t help with the long feeling of dread he had since his temporary imprisonment.

Within just a few winks, the assassin of shadows finally found himself back at Arcadia’s urban outskirts. Luckily, he was at the exact place where he intended to land on previously when he delved into the realm of shadows. For quite some time, Shinku felt some haze, still processing what just transpired. Gradually however, his senses started to come back until finally grasped that he was back at Arcadia. He quickly noticed an unknown presence just beside him but was relieved upon realizing that it was the shadowsteed that the stranger at the shadow realm gifted him. Cautiously, Shinku tried to touch the creature’s mane but pulled his hand back upon sensing the creature move. Still wary of his new pet, the assassin of shadows instead put his mind back on his current mission. With that, he carefully moved through the narrow alley, trying to sense any hostile presence around him. Surprisingly enough, the shadowsteed voluntarily followed him as he moved along.

2100 + 1065 = 3165/10,000
 
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Shinku

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Dreary silence accompanied Shinku and his shadowsteed as they moved along a narrow alley in Arcadia’s urban outskirts. After being temporarily stuck at the shadow realm, the assassin of shadows decided to simply walk yet with haste instead of using his shadow pass. He couldn’t help but ponder the stranger’s intention of meeting him in the shadow realm. Although still having the memory of the wounds he suffered from the stranger’s blast, being able to get out of the realm without any harm assured Shinku that the stranger meant no harm, or at least at that moment. What puzzled him though is the stranger’s ability to access the realm. Only the practitioners of the shadow arts are able to get in and out of it and as far as he remembered, only people of their village knew of the shadow arts. Or perhaps, that’s what he was made to believe. Suddenly remembering his rescue mission, the assassin decided to brush off the thought from his mind and focus on the task at hand. He quickened his steps, figuring that he had already wasted quite some time.

After a long walk, he decided to stop for a while upon reaching the end of the alley which offers two different paths of exit. He closed his eyes and tapped into the shadow realm’s energy to detect his probable targets within his shadow tracking range. Seeing the shadow realm in his vision somehow distracted him yet again, bringing him back to the recent event with the stranger. He can’t help but to be lost in fear of encountering the stranger again. He struggled to regain his concentration for a while until finally, bits of spiritual forms appeared one after another. There were few spiritual signatures within his tracking range and were mostly concentrated on a single direction, making it easier for the assassin to choose a path. He delved farther, carefully observing the movement of each being that he encountered with his otherworldly sense. It was after a few moments when he stumbled upon the form of an adult and a child, both seemingly having their hands and feet bound. Not too far from the victims were two adults, moving in a rhythmic manner, as if performing some sort of a dance ritual.

Before he could observe further, Shinku was pulled out of his trance by a sudden surge of energy near him. As he observed around, he suddenly noticed a person lying just a few yards from where he was. The person was wearing a black robe, with a huge part that used to cover the person’s chest burned. He quickly glanced at the shadowsteed beside him where the sudden surge of energy obviously originated.

‘How could I have missed that one? If not for this shadowsteed, I would have been in danger,’ Shinku thought, grateful for his companion’s assistance. The stranger was indeed right, had he not been accompanied by the shadowsteed, who knows what the now lying man could have done to him. Perhaps, he has gone too arrogant from plenty of missions that he has successfully accomplished. There is however, very little time to think of past mistakes as the presence of several more people came rushing towards them. There must have been at least four of them, if he could recall from his shadow tracking or maybe more.

‘I have been found.’ Not wanting to have the situation escalate further, Shinku decided to use his shadow pass to reach behind one of the approaching men and knocked him down from behind.

“Please, whatever you do, never kill any of them. They might have turned crazy but they’re still my fellows from Governmorne.” Shinku recalled Elise's words from when they were approaching the place. He could understand how the lady felt and as much as he wanted to thoroughly clean up the cultists out, he’d rather try as hard as he could to just knock them out. That was the reason why he wanted to avoid as much encounter as he could but unexpected circumstances do arise from time to time.

The assassin of shadows disappeared just in time before two more men appeared from a corner. He was able to successfully knock out the two new arrivals as well but the last one seemed to be a different case altogether. This one seemed keen enough to detect his surprise attacks and quick enough to retaliate. He didn’t expect to find some skilled combatant among a group of mere cult fanatics.

“Who are you and what are you doing in our territory?” The man was similarly dressed in a black robe just as the previous ones he encountered. The robe’s hood made it hard for Shinku to see the man’s face, not that he might identify this one if he could.

“This is not your territory, if I recall correctly. You are mere infiltrators as well,” Shinku remarked. It wasn’t his nature to actually talk in combat yet at that time, the assassin of shadows seemed to be trying to either buy some time or keep the enemy’s attention to himself.

“Not yet maybe, but once Lord Darkseid rules over this planet, everything will be ours!” With stunning speed, the cultist charged towards Shinku, aiming to land a fist. The assassin of shadows however, was able to enter into his shadow in time before the fist could hit him. The assassin’s shadow pass gave way to a dark energy blast that came from the shadowsteed. No matter how fast the cultist seemed to be, the suddenness of the attack made it impossible for him to evade. The impact from the dark energy ball hurled the cultist towards a concrete wall that easily knocked him down.

With the cultist still a bit conscious, Shinku decided to move towards his knocked down enemy. “What is your purpose for abducting people? Who are you working to?” Shinku demanded, pointing the blade of his sword at the man in question.

“Do you seriously believe you can just boss me around? We are the children of the great Dark Arbiter. We will be inheritors of the new world. We…” Before the cultist could even continue his speech, his consciousness unfortunately left him, leaving the assassin void of answers.

“What a troublesome bunch,” the assassin of shadows remarked with a deep sigh. “Well I believe my presence here has been found out. I will have to move ahead and leave you here. I know your kind can trace their masters so if you really are a gift to me, you will know where I am.” Hoping that the shadowsteed could understand his words, Shinku decided to speak to the dark horse knowing that he had to move more carefully from now on. Surprisingly, the shadowsteed responded with a whicker, seemingly in acknowledgement to his words. With that, the assassin decided to go on with his rescue mission.

The tunnel-like alley featured several twists and turns that made it difficult for Shinku to navigate. He had to carefully use his shadow tracking skills to analyze the movement of the beings around him that might lead him the proper path towards where the victims were being held. Being in a critical situation, the assassin decided to use his shadow pass to evade a couple of probable enemies as it was for his best interest to avoid any further confrontations as possible. He moved forward in a hope that the shadowsteed would be able to follow him some time later. Knowing of the creature’s ability to conceal itself, the assassin of shadows trusted that it wouldn’t cause some unneeded ruckus that might endanger his rescue mission.

3,165 + 1,278 = 4,443/10,000
 

Shinku

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The sun has now sunken, leaving a dark evening sky in the whole of Arcadia. Silence has completely enveloped the still chaos-stricken settlement with most of its inhabitants hiding at their own shelters. It might have been at Shinku’s best interest, for he could more freely move in a concealed state so long as he chose the right spot to position himself. Everything would go more smoothly, or that’s what Shinku could have hoped for. Unfortunately, he was put into a halt by a frightening aura that suddenly placed a suffocating ambience on the assassin’s immediate surroundings.

“Quite some courage you’ve got there stranger.” As Shinku surveyed the place for the source of the sinister aura, he was startled by a voice that called out from above him. Atop a lone towering building on the assassin’s right side, stood another robed cultist with the hilt of a sword visibly protruding from the left of his back. “And reaching up to this point means you must be strong.” The robed figure continued, as he pulled a short sword from the sheath tied behind him.

Similarly, Shinku drew his own weapon, regretting the fact that he did not conceal himself as he walked towards the enemy’s headquarters. The lone building must be the cultists’ base Shinku thought, having someone of such caliber guarding it.

As if merely waiting for him to draw his own weapon, the robed figure dove towards him the moment Shinku pulled out his blade. Startled at the enemy’s insane speed, the assassin decided to hop away just in time before his speeding opponent could hit him with its weapon.

“Impressive, now let’s see you avoid this!” Shinku flinched upon suddenly hearing a voice from behind in spite of his opponent’s image still visible from his front view. He gripped his sword tighter, quickly turning around to block a sword strike from behind. A loud crash echoed at the back alley of Arcadia’s suburb. Two metals loudly clanged, erupting sparks of friction embers between the two. The continuous clash of swords caught the attention of the other cultists around the area. Several steps could be heard from a couple of people rushing towards the place of battle.

“Ah Avernus is already on it. Come on we’re not needed here. That infiltrator’s as good as dead.” One of the cultists remarked, inviting the others to withdraw from the place. Confident of their companion, the rest of the robed men quickly left the place without question.

“So you’ve got quick reflexes eh. Here’s another one!” The voice again came from behind Shinku who was lucky enough to be able to pull his body out the blade’s downward path. The assassin then swooped down and quickly pivoted in an aim to similarly attack his opponent from behind.

With Shinku’s evasion, his enemy was forced to tuck himself forward, then dove into a roll to evade the assassin’s blade. Avernus, as he was named by one of the cultists, rushed to kick himself upward then lounged towards Shinku, his foe even a little window of rest. The assassin of shadows decided to pour all his strength to defend against the attack, blocking his opponent’s blade with his own. The cultist swordmaster followed up his attack with several other strikes, forcing Shinku into a grave defensive stance.

Each of Shinku’s blocks were successful however, his opponent’s last blow was so strong that it sent him flying towards a brick wall. Before he could regain his balance, another attack came rushing towards him forcing Shinku to enter his shadow and reappear just a few feet away from his point of origin.

“You sure are one tough opponent but you seem to be nearing your limit.” True enough, Shinku was barely able to catch his breath from defending against his opponent’s fast and continuous attacks. “Ah I couldn’t remember since the last time I felt this thrill of battle. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this would be short lived for this time, I’ll end it.” The gap between Shinku and his opponent was crazily closed in by merely a wink of a second. The assassin could only flinch upon noticing his opponent’s blade suddenly closing to just a few inches above his head. A sudden splash of blood, followed by a thin black smoke appeared just in front of the cultist where the assassin used to be.

Just a few seconds late and Shinku would have been cleaved in half if he wasn’t fast enough to use his shadow pass for the second time. He panted, with his right hand covering a deep wound that opened on his left shoulder. It would have been better had he teleported away where his enemy could not see him however, all he could muster was a mere few meters distance just in front of the cultist.

“Impressive...impressive indeed. You sure are one persistent being. But then again, how long would you last?” Before the cultist could utter the last word of his speech, Shinku recklessly charged forward, clashing his sword against the formidable foe. “Desperate aren’t we? Very well let’s fight to our heart’s content stranger.” Though surprised, Avernus was able to easily defend from Shinku’s sudden attack. From a visible spot of the cultist face, an eerie smile formed before it contorted to a maniacal laughter as the clash went on continuously. The cultist’s moves seem to be more laxed, as he defended himself against the relentless strikes of the assassin of shadows. Even though Shinku was one on offense, Avernus’ proud stance could easily give way that the cultist is still on the winning side of the battle.

“I wonder how long you could ignore that wound of yours.” Avernus mocked, seeing the assassin soaked in his own blood. “Well shall we try with this?” The cultist suddenly vanished, making Shinku almost trip forward with his last strike. Within just a few winks, the assassin had to turn himself to defend against an attack that came from his left side. The cultist again disappeared and this time came from behind.

For a while, Shinku was able to defend against the cultist’s random attacks until his foe’s blade finally found its way to the same spot of his earlier wound. Luckily, the assassin of shadows was able to pull himself back before the sword could dive deeper into his skin. He winced in extreme pain as blood continued to gush out from his shoulder. Though in spite of the excruciating pain, Shinku was still able to hold his ground in a low defense position, expecting another surprise attack from his enemy.

4,443+ 1101 = 5,544/10,000
 

Shinku

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“Brilliant! You’ve really caught my interest. Most of my opponents would have died at this point.” Avernus smirked, somehow impressed by his opponent’s resilience. Surprisingly, he did not follow up an attack this time rather, he stood idly as if mocking the assassin of shadows.

A deafening silence filled the makeshift arena, having the two contenders both at rest. Avernus’ attention seemed to have shifted elsewhere, while Shinku kept his guard, wary of his opponent’s idleness. A strong gust of wind blew from the east, sweeping the stench of blood and sweat that lathered the air in the battlefield.

“Very well, I decided not to kill you now. You’d be more perfect as a sacrifice for Darkseid.” After quite a few moments of repose, Avernus finally resumed the battle starting with a surprise attack from behind. An after image of the cultist was left where he previously stood, almost deceiving Shinku if not for the assassin’s keen sense of danger. The assassin of shadows was able to quickly turn and block the cultist’s sneaky blade. As expected however, the cultist’s attack was followed up by several frenzied strikes, pushing Shinku back with each clash. The assassin was barely able to hold his stance, still bearing the pain of his fresh wound.

Before hitting a wall, Shinku decided to step into his shadows, evading the cultist’s last blow. He could now barely stand, dizzy of having lost a lot of blood.

“Surprise!” To Shinku’s disappointment, Avernus was able to follow his path of teleportation and appeared in front of him just a few seconds after his arrival. An open palm welcomed the assassin of shadows, placed just a few inches away from his face. “Sleep now.” He wanted to move but alas, his body suddenly went limp. The paralysis was quickly followed by a sudden flash of light, which rapidly faded into utter darkness.

Avernus lowered his hand and was about to catch the assassin of shadows when a ball of dark energy suddenly bolted out from above. The cultist was able to evade the attack with ease, leaping out of its trajectory. Looking up, the cultist saw a black horse, floating in the sky. The shadowsteed indeed found its way to its master as Shinku had predicted. Not wasting a second, the shadowsteed dove to the ground and caught its unconscious master before the latter hit the ground. Gracefully, the shadowsteed was able to safely guide its master’s body to lie at the concrete pavement then stood on guard. It let out a loud neigh, as if challenging its master’s opponent. The pavement where Shinku lay suddenly opened a dark portal, collecting his unconscious body.

“Aha so you did not come here alone eh stranger. A wise choice...a wise choice indeed.” Avernus grinned, then switching his focus to the shadowsteed. He expected the creature to have fled, the moment his master was sucked into the dark portal but for some reasons, the shadowsteed stood guard. “Now did you stay here to challenge me? Or are you still protecting your master? Well that’s for me to find out.” In an instant, Avernus disappeared and like a ghost, reappeared behind the shadowsteed aiming for a downward slash. The dark horse was quick enough to propel itself forward and avoid the attack. It then turned around and countered with a dark energy ball.

Meanwhile, Shinku woke up and found himself lost somewhere in the shadow realm. Having been used to the realm’s distinctive aura, the assassin of shadows was able to quickly realize the place. For some reasons, the pain that he felt earlier had gone. He made sure by touching his left shoulder but alas, the wound that his opponent caused was gone. It wasn’t that long however, when his tranquility was disturbed by an eerie presence. He felt the same ominous feeling as the time when he was forcefully detained by the stranger, who gifted him the shadowsteed.

“We met at last,” a hissing voice echoed, causing Shinku to raise his guard. He quickly lowered his hand to draw his sword but to his disappointment, he realized that he was weaponless. “Since you’re here, that means you’re ready to partake in my trial,” the voice continued as the shadow of what looked like an enormous black snake appeared on the dark mist in front of the assassin of shadows. Gradually, the shape of the shadow morphed into the form of a human until the figure finally emerged from the mist. In front of Shinku appeared a human-like being, covered in black scales from its neck downwards. The being’s face resembled that of a lady except for its eyes that contained amber reptilian-like irises. Its deep hissing voice however, signified that the being was of a male gender. It’s bare skin was almost purplish black, and its long hair which almost resembled thin dried vines were pure pitch black. As he spoke, his mouth revealed two sharp fangs and a dark crimson reptilian tongue. The being had a huge snake tail where its legs were supposed to be, causing it to slither rather than walk.

“I’m afraid I have no idea of this trial that you speak of. Nor do I know who you are,” Shinku replied in a composed manner, concealing the fact that he was still wary of the being before him.

“Now that’s quite amusing, shadow weaver. You have been feeding me all these years with the blood of your victims and yet, you’re telling me that you have no idea of who I am,” the being mocked, followed by a loud guffaw.

“Hold on, does that mean that you’re a shadow demon and you’re sealed in my sword?” Shinku exclaimed, seemingly more relaxed, realizing that the being before him was connected to his sword.

“You are correct that I am a shadow demon and Orochi is the name. Now, about being sealed, I’d rather say that I am the sword and the sword is I.” Orochi, as the being introduced itself, clarified as he slithered closer to Shinku.

“So, what is this trial that you were talking about? And how did I get here?” Shinku inquired, keeping his calm although a bit uncomfortable at the demon’s proximity.

“Well you’ve unlocked the door to my realm, the moment you’ve fed me with the last blood I needed to finally unleash my power. Now about the trial..” The demon quickly slithered back then dispelled the dark mist before Shinku.

5,544 + 1,079 = 6,623/10,000
 

Shinku

Vengeful Assassin of Shadows
Level 3
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With the dark mist dispelled, Shinku found himself standing on a piece of black muddy land surrounded by shallow waters. He surveyed the marsh-like territory as the shadow demon waded through the waters which submerged it up to its waist. Shinku witnessed an islet rose from the spot where the shadow demon stopped after moving a couple of feet away. The appearance of the islet was followed by the formation of two gigantic trees that both rose from each of the islet’s edges. Then, at the center of the islet rose a small obelisk made of mudrock, and stopped at the height of the shadow demon’s knee before forming a flat oval disk. The shadow demon slithered towards the obelisk and effortlessly climbed to sit on its flat surface. As it rested and coiled its snake tail on the surface of the disk, spikes shot out from the disk’s edges except for a few spaces on its front. The spikes then arched upward, and continuously grew till they stopped just a little above the demon’s head.

“So shadow weaver, I have but a simple task for you,” Orochi hissed, then raised his hand forward as if for an invitation to come close. Instantly, a small portion of the black mud rose just a few feet in front of Shinku and formed a crude figure of a human being. Intricately, the figure shifted and morphed, forming fingers, joints, face figure and muscle shapes, as if being molded by an invisible being. Finally, the figure was covered in scales from it’s torso up to its arms and legs similar to that of the snake demon's. What greatly surprised Shinku however, was that the figure’s face was formed as an exact copy of his.

“So this is the boy is it? The one who’s parents and friends got killed boohoohoo…,” as if the surprise ended at the figure’s face, it did start to talk in a high pitched and distorted voice. The awakened figure or rather, creature looked over its shoulder, at the snake demon who summoned him.

“Silence, I summoned you here to test him not to mock him,” Orochi hissed, turning the summoned being’s attention back at Shinku.

“Well, you heard him boy. I’m here to give you some hard action!” Before his statement could even fully end, the summoned being shot forward, summoning a sword on its hand and pulling it back in a head on slash, meant to behead the assassin of shadows.

Being attacked, Shinku attempted to step into his shadows but realized that he was already inside the shadow realm. Still, with his quick reflexes, the assassin of shadows was able to slide out of his opponent’s sword path.

Even without the snake demon’s instructions, defeating the being in front of him appeared to be the task at hand. However, how would the assassin of shadows be able to accomplish such a feat without his sword?

Shinku’s opponent was quickly able to pivot itself to attempt another attack against the assassin of shadows. Shinku however, was lucky enough to have hopped back before the sword’s blade could reach his chest.

“Now I wonder, till when are you deciding to fight me with your sword sheathed,” the summoned creature mocked, throwing a barrage of strikes right at Shinku who was quick enough to evade every blow.

“Ah of course I almost forgot. The test is for you to be able to summon your blade. You’ve wielded it for so long, you should have had the connection with it by now.” The snake demon’s voice now seemed to connect directly to Shinku’s head. He could hear Orochi’s voice ring inside his ears like a hissing noise. Having zero clue about the connection that the snake demon was talking about, the assassin of shadows could only be lost in confusion while attempting to run away and dodge each of his opponent’s attacks.

“Now come on lad. This ain’t fun. Draw your sword already!” The summoned creature snarled, while harassing Shinku with its relentless strikes.

“So that’s it? Not even a single clue of how I can bring out my sword,” the assassin of shadows complained, as he unfalteringly evaded each of his opponent’s attacks. He expected an answer but the snake demon seemed to have kept its silence since after its last statement.

Cuts and wounds have started to appear one by one at Shinku’s body. He was able to dodge several fatal strikes but unfortunately, he could not fully prevent himself from being cut. He tried to form his hand as if holding his sword but no matter how hard he tried to materialize the sword even in his head, nothing happened. The battle all seemed like a repetition of running, sliding and evading for Shinku who still appeared weaponless.

“You’re getting slow!” Shinku flinched upon suddenly hearing his opponent’s voice behind him. He could not see the creature’s action but his senses compelled him to simply get out of the way. True enough, his opponent’s blade hit the ground where the assassin of shadows was targeted. Finally, Shinku was able to find an opening which he used to kick the creature away. The strength of the kick however, wasn’t strong enough to push his opponent to a safe distance. With the failed attack, the cycle of evasion continued.

Such a desperate state indeed for the assassin of shadows, who could not do anything other than run and avoid his opponent’s attacks. Having fought with the sword his whole life, he suddenly found himself powerless without it in his hand.

As the battle went on, Shinku just grew more fatigued and messed up as more wounds appeared on his skin, one after another. Desperately, he needed to summon his weapon or find a way to somehow counter his opponent’s attacks. He wanted to give up, but as he remembered the promise he made before the charred bodies of his townsmates, he could not simply accept defeat without avenging the lives of those that he once held dear. Then, with a sudden stroke of luck, he was able to grab his opponent’s wrist and guide the blade away. Quickly, he followed up with a strike at his opponent’s abdomen using his knee. Having his opponent disoriented, he was able to strike a blow using his right hand and not wanting to give up on the advantage, he kept on pressing with his fist blows, now pushing his opponent back.

The luck however, ended when his opponent was able to stab Shinku through his stomach. The best he could do was to gather at least his determination to pull himself back and away from his opponent. The rush of strength was only short-lived, for as soon as he was able to walk a few inches back, all the fatigue and pain came to him like a raging water that was poured to him all at once.

“Well for a second there I thought this was going to be fun. But i guess this is it.” The figure disappeared in front of Shinku then quickly reappeared above him, aiming for a straight slash. He wanted to move his legs but the pain and fatigue made them so heavy that he couldn’t even lift them just a few inches above the ground. Rapidly, his opponent drew closer, the blade approaching him like a comet falling from the sky. Out of desperation, he reached up with his right hand as if holding a sword. His eyes were blurred by his sweat that he couldn’t even wipe out. It would have been better, for at least his death wouldn’t be as sharp or that’s how he could imagine it to be. He must have been at the last seconds of his life for everything just faded into a slow motion as the blurred figure of the creature grew even closer and closer and…

The sound of massive clangs of metal rang inside the shadow realm dispelling more of the dark mist that still surrounded the area around Shinku. The assassin of shadows instinctively tightened his grip, upon sensing a solid object that suddenly formed in his raised hand. He could feel the heaviness of the opponent’s blade clashing against whatever he held in his hands. The excruciating pain that punished his body slowly faded along with the sharpness of his vision that slowly made him see the dark blade that he held.

“So that’s all it takes for you to draw your sword eh. I guess the real fun starts now.” Shinku’s opponent hopped back, crediting the assassin of shadows for finally being able to gain his weapon. His mouth opened into a wide grin, his eyes widened out of excitement. With the assassin of shadow’s summoned weapon, the tension in the battlefield now grew even stronger.

6,623 + 1,472 = 8,095/10,000
 

Shinku

Vengeful Assassin of Shadows
Level 3
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Shinku was startled by black chains that protruded from his sword’s hilt and suddenly coiled themselves on his wrist. It made him feel like the sword has made itself as a part of himself. He waved the sword, making a feel of its lighter weight. Moreover, the stab wound he got earlier along with the other cuts he received have all been miraculously healed.

“Enjoying our new blade aren’t we? Now, why not test it in battle?” Shinku was still marveling at his sword when his opponent rushed towards him in a head-on attack.

Shinku however, was quick enough to move his blade and clash with his opponent’s weapon. The summoned being again followed up with several strikes but the assassin of shadows was able to fairly defend himself this time, rather than pathetically running like earlier.

“Hah at last a worthy opponent. But don’t think this is all I could do,” the summoned being exclaimed, then leapt back away from Shinku. He pointed his sword towards the assassin of shadows and murmured some chants before releasing snake-like shadow energies that rushed towards Shinku.

The assassin of shadows was able to avoid the attack in an insanely rapid escape that even Shinku himself got surprised at. His opponent however, seemed to move as fast, as he felt a sudden rush of wind that was caused by a blade that slid over his shoulders, and into his unguarded neck. Crazily enough, Shinku was able to turn his body to avoid being beheaded and even counter an attack at the summoned being.
Again blades clashed, as the sound of the colliding metals resonated throughout the shadow demon’s territory. Outburst of battle cries echoed, mixed with the summoned being’s maniacal laughter.

Meanwhile, back at the cultists’ lair, Avernus seemed to be enjoying himself as he avoided energy blasts from the shadowsteed that chose to attack the swordsman from the sky. The cultist simply moved around the battlefield like a dancing madman that mocked the shadowsteed with his performance.

“Ahaha there’s no way a mere pet like you could win against me. You might be unreachable now but let’s see how long you could stay afloat,” Avernus mocked, as he continuously avoided the shadowsteed’s relentless attacks with ease.

True enough, the dark horse’s attacks seemed to be significantly increasing in intervals, indicating its diminishing strength. It wasn’t that long when the attacks stopped, replaced by soft whickers by the obviously fatigued shadowsteed.

“See I told you. You’d be at your limit eventually. Now come down here and let’s make this more fun,” Avernus again scorned, his lips forming into a wide grin.

Desperately, the shadow steed replied with another blast of shadow energy that simply got past by the cultist’s ear. An explosion could be heard nearby, followed by a deriding laughter that echoed throughout the lair.

More blasts came towards the laughing cultist right before one of the blasts could hit him at his chest. “Now I don’t know exactly what you are targeting but you did almost succeed in having one fly at me,” Avernus continued with his scornful speech as more shadow blasts rained from the sky. The attacks weren’t as accurate as before, making the blasts even easier for the cultist to avoid.

The smile on the cultist’s face finally faded when the shadowsteed suddenly disappeared from sight. “Oh come on, you didn’t just escape from me did you,” the cultist exclaimed, being unable to detect even the dark horse’s presence. “Jeez what a cowardly minion.” The cultist was about to make himself at ease when a sudden attack surprised him from behind. An attack from the shadowsteed finally succeeded in connecting with the cultist, who was thrown a couple of feet away.

“Impressive.” The cultist wiped a few dirt from his robe and slowly stood up to the ground. He expected another attack but the shadow steed seemed to be too tired to do a quick follow up. “However, it seems like you’re now at your limit minion,” the cultist remarked, his scornful smile reforming on his face.

“Now let’s see you deal with this!” With his long-held fervor, the cultist charged at the shadowsteed like a sudden gust of wind. To his disappointment however, his attack was blocked by an intruding contender. A great force exploded from the impact, pushing the shadow steed back and shattering the ground below them.

“Ah you’re back.” Avernus leaped back, after the unexpected collision. As the dust settled, he could see Shinku standing before him, holding a peculiar sword that pointed towards the ground. “But it seems a lot has changed. I wonder, have you gotten so strong after just a while?”

The cultist’s confidence however, was crushed when a sudden attack surprised him from behind. He was able to block the attack but was pushed several yards away by its insane force. Avernus was about to open his lips when Shinku charged without giving the cultist enough time to rest.

Again their swords collided, with the strain making the cultist shake in tension. “You…” Before Avernus could continue, he was knocked out by a head strike from the butt end of Shinku’s weapon.

A sudden scream from inside the towering lone building near the place alerted Shinku. His opponent has been knocked down but the real mission hasn’t yet been fulfilled.

Without wasting more time, Shinku rushed over the building where the scream came from and kicked the door open. The building housed plenty of the cultists but what got the assassin’s attention were two cultists dressed in uniquely decorated robes standing at the center. Between the two distinguished cultists lay a man and a young girl both bound in ropes. The victims were about to be devoured by a monstrous plant when Shinku stepped into his shadows and reappeared to cut the devourer just in time.

“You will both be fine, just stay right here,” Shinku assured the victims before cutting their bonds with his blade.

“Intruder!” One of the distinguished cultists yelled before releasing a fireball towards the assassin of shadows. Shinku quickly grabbed the hostages to move them out of the attack’s path. Before the other cultist could make its move, the assassin of shadows quickly made his way behind his attacking foe and knocked it down with the butt end of his sword.

On the other end of the building, the other cultists were being taken down one after another by the shadowsteed’s blasts. None of the cultists could do anything as the dark horse rushed towards his master.

“Quickly, ride that horse and escape from here!” Though hesitant, the male adult quickly grabbed his daughter in a sudden adrenaline rush and placed her on the horse’s back. He followed suit, after which the shadowsteed flew away leaving his master with a handful of enemies.

The assassin of shadows however, didn’t seem to mind the escaping horse as he took down the rest of the cultists. I didn’t take that long when all of the cultists laid on the ground save for one of the distinguished cultists whom Shinku grabbed by his collar.

“Ddddarkseid. Hhhhe will surely punish you for this…,” the cultist stuttered while still trying to keep his composure.

“Where is this Darkseid you are speaking of and what do you plan to accomplish with this kidnapping of yours,” Shinku demanded, then brought the cultist closer.

“We...will...not…” Unfortunately, the cultist’s consciousness left him before he could utter another word. Suddenly sensing the presence of another mob closing in, Shinku quickly entered his shadow to leave the place.

“Arcadia police! We got you all surrounded. Surrender now…” Before the officer could continue, he was tapped on his back by another fellow police.

“Uhmmm commander. I don’t think that would be necessary.” With his companion’s intervention, the officer finally realized that everyone in the lair was lying unconscious.

Puzzled, the officer could only command his troops to carry the unconscious cultists into their prison wagon.

8,095 + 1,328 = 9,423/10,000
 

Shinku

Vengeful Assassin of Shadows
Level 3
LV
0
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
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Awards
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€8,461
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Erde Nona
Profile
Click Here
Shinku watched from a corner as Arcadia’s police picked up the unconscious cultists one by one. Having the authorities take over the place somehow brought the assassin relief knowing that his foes would be taken to a place where they would not be able to do further harm. There seemed to be enough of them to capture all the cultists in no time. And with all of the culprits unconscious, the job is obviously a breeze for them. Quickly, the assassin of shadows decided to step into his shadows before someone around him could notice his presence.

He into his shadows, and through the now peaceful alley, to reunite with Elise who might be furiously waiting for him after being left for quite a long time now.

It was indeed a very long day for the assassin of shadows who did not expect all the sudden turn of events. He got a shadowsteed of his own, was able to get stronger thanks to the awakening of his sword and more importantly, the acquaintances of his lady friend have been brought back to safety. Shinku however, could not make himself at ease, knowing that a greater evil is still at large. He wasn’t able to gather enough information but he hoped that the thwarted kidnapping could somehow slow down whatever great evil they were planning.

Shinku returned to the corner where he left Elise. Although Elise’s friend was not yet around, the assassin of shadows could still witness a heart-melting scene with Elise carrying the young girl in her arms and consoling the man who was still shaking in terror. Even from a distance, he could see a few tears flowing from Elise eyes.

“Oh hey thanks!” Elise quickly placed the young girl down and rushed towards Shinku upon seeing him standing by the alley’s entrance. “You don’t know how much it means to us,” Elise continued, then bowed at Shinku in great gratitude.

“You’re welcome but right now, I guess it’s time for us to escort them to your friend. She must be so worried right now,” Shinku remarked, causing Elise to quickly stand up upon realizing her friend’s point.

“Ah yes of course. Let’s go.” With all exuberance, Elise ran towards her rescued friends who later had to get back up to the dark horse due to fatigue. With that, the victims were escorted back at the inn where Shinku and the ladies stayed. The assassin of shadows was somehow relieved that the lady seemed to have forgotten of her abandonment.

A heartwarming reunion was witnessed when Janica finally met her husband and daughter who entered their room. A melody of cries and desperate speeches filled the room with Janica’s family being brought back together. Tears continued to flow from Elise’ eyes as she witnessed her friends bond closely after the dreadful kidnapping.

“Thanks again. We do not know what we could have done without you.” Again, Elise faced Shinku with utmost gratitude at her friends’ rescue. She covered her face as tears continued to gush out of her eyes.

“Hey everything’s ok now. And I’m still here to prevent anything bad to ever happen again.” Shinku started to comfort the lady with a few pats on the lady’s shoulder. Somehow, it broke his heart seeing his friend cry before him. He couldn’t remember when he last empathized with someone, leaving him in a somewhat awkward situation. He did not know how to comfort the lady but knowing that the tears were of relief, he decided to simply let the lady cry her heart out.

“We really owe you our lives big time.” Shinku was surprised at the sudden appearance of the man near him. He was so focused at Elise that he failed to notice everything else.

“It’s my pleasure. I know what it feels to lose someone and I wouldn’t have anyone else pained by that feeling.” Deep inside Shinku, a feeling of regret formed being unable to do the same at his own townsmates. A feeling of relief however, somehow banished his regret seeing the genuine smile of the man before him.

“You did selflessly save us, so I believe you. And again thanks a lot. We surely would have died there if not for you.” The man smiled, extending his hand in an invitation to shake Shinku’s hand.

Shinku reached for the extended hand and then bowed in acknowledgement of the man’s gratitude.

Joyous talks and laughter followed after that, as the temporarily separated couple tried to catch up with each other. As if the night is unending, Elise and her companions bonded with stories of the dreaded event that just occurred.

Unnoticed, Shinku left the room then retreated towards his own. In spite of still being uneasy, Shinku’s fatigue caused him to quickly retire for the night. He knew that there was still more to the event than it seemed, especially due to the odd confidence of the distinguished cultist even after having all them wiped out.

The news of the arrested cultists spread over Arcadia like wildfire, bringing about conflicting opinions amongst the citizens. The dread of chaos still loomed the streets of Arcadia but somehow, the news put a lot of the citizens at ease but caused even more tension with the others. No one still knew about the kidnapping but having some sinister occult group around was enough to bring more panic to the heart of several civilians.

“Ah it’s almost done,” a shadowy figure hissed, hiding at an abandoned barn at the edge of Arcadia. Thorny large vines infested the place, seemingly serving as its protector. A sinister laugh could be heard echoing from inside the barn as the surrounding area further shifted, gradually turning the ground into a gloomy forest, infested by foreign monstrous plants that sprouted one after another.

Shinku woke up, disturbed by a sudden surge of appalling aura he felt from afar. He sat on his bed, trying to get a feel of the heaviness that filled Arcadia’s air.

“So it is not over yet,” Shinku remarked grabbing his sword at the table near his bed. He opened a drawer from the end table beside his bed to collect a peculiar necklace that was gifted to him by Reese. Satisfied of his equipment, the assassin stepped into his shadow once again, ready to start another mission.

9,423 + 1,060 = 10,483/10,000
 
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