Mrs Jago’s Handy Guide to the Meaning Behind Typographical Errors. Part XXX

…. or ‘How To Speak Typo’ by Jane Jago

apprecaite (verb) – to cover oneself in apricot jam and offer specialised sexual services

coruse (adjective) – having the colour and texture of rusty wire wool

misisng – (adjective) with no idea what the fuck is going on

missign (verb) – to employ the wrong rude gesture in the heat of an argument

paberbok (noun) – antipodean antelope which subsides on used pornography

rund (verb past – participle) – having no room left on one’s hard drive and thus being reduced to wax crayon on the bedroom window

snawer (noun) – one who can swear in more than one language

steampink (noun) – steampunk writings with erotic overtones 

sufficnet (noun) – fishing net big enough for a day’s catch

tefforthan (noun –  proper) – famous welsh tenor with tattoos and a big ‘personality’

ypou (noun) – virulent yellow stuff found in nappies

Disclaimer: all these words are genuine typos defined by Jane Jago. The source of each is withheld to protect the guilty.

EM-Drabbles – Seventy-Eight

The last day of the world was scheduled for the following Tuesday.

After a lot of heated discussion as to what should be the exact date, a compromise was reached between the scientists, the religious communities and the politicians. Next Tuesday it was.

Despite some panic,Tuesday came and went. People carried on working, playing, learning, loving – living.There was outrage, of course. The scientists said it had been a political decision, the religious leaders praised their gods for saving us all. The politicians were heard to observe, acidly, that they had not specified which ‘next’ Tuesday they had meant.

E.M. Swift-Hook

Coffee Break Read – Transgressor

Caer sat on his pony looking at the dead body on the ground and wondering if he should send more scouts back towards the road, almost a day’s trek behind the caravan. This man had been alone, half-mad and no threat to the caravan, but others might even now be following the same path that they had taken from the road and for the same reason they had taken it: others who were scouts for brigands, bandits or bigger caravans than his own.
He spat in the dirt and narrowed his eyes as he looked past the file of wagons, ponies and people. It was late afternoon and his breath misted slightly in the air. The long cold winter was over, but in the barren Wastelands, spring was always slow to come. The air still carried a biting chill, even in the heat of the day and the distant peaks kept their mantle of snow and ice, tinged with crimson by the light of the huge red sun. Spring was having to claw its way free of winter’s greedy clutches so that Temsevar could bask in an all too brief season of warmth and growth.
The Wastelands were vast and magnificent. Here and there, standing proud and alone in the plain, like the lost sentinels of a forgotten age, were towering flat-topped mountains of rock, some so massive they were too big to cross in a day on foot. It was as though at some point in the distant past the ground had simply dropped away, leaving the high plateaux stranded above, like giant stepping stones, creating a two-tier terrain. If in the winter, these high grounds were the coldest and most exposed, in the spring they seemed always flushed with new vegetation before any managed to creep out of the more parched stones below.
Caer made his decision. With the work to be done, the four men he already had out scouting their back trail were all he could spare for the moment. He called to one of the mounted men who was riding with the caravan.
“Shevek, we are camping here.”
The man he spoke to wheeled his pony away and rode at a brisk pace towards the front of the train of wagons and animals, issuing sharp orders to make the night’s camp around the rocky debris beneath the steep cliff face of one of the high monoliths. Caer felt a familiar sense of satisfaction as those orders turned the straggling ranks of moving people, ponies and wagons into a brief flurry of chaos, before brightly coloured awnings, tents and pavilions sprung up from the chaos, like strange blossoms. Caer and his men rode through the quickly forming encampment, shouting instructions, solving problems, helping secure ropes and encouraging any who were slow to respond with the whips they carried curled in their belts.
In a remarkably short time, the caravan resembled a miniature town with streets and open spaces, stables, and pens. Fires were being kindled, children tending the animals as women kneaded dough and cut the vegetables for the evening meal. Toddlers screamed and got underfoot or rolled like puppies amongst the big, sharp-toothed dogs, which ignored them and begged for scraps with soulful eyes and then turned on each other snapping and snarling when an unsavoury morsel was cast their way.
Once the familiar routine was well established, Caer’s men guided their mounts towards the middle of the camp. The ponies’ short stubby ears, thick coats, wall-eyed glares and powerful necks, made them far from beautiful to look upon, but their split hooves could splay to grip surefooted even on snow and ice or could run fast on firmer ground. It was their broad backs which carried the burden of human traffic in both trade and war with a sturdy strength and agility which, for Caer, had a beauty all of its own.
The men who rode were as tough as their ponies. The older ones amongst them wore their hair long, stained red and tied back into a heavy braid, the greater length of the braid telling of ever greater age and experience. The youngest men had their hair shaved so close to the scalp as to seem bald. They were not even allowed to begin to grow a braid until they had served a year of apprenticeship with the caravans. All the men wore coats made from a brightly coloured heavy-felt cloth, over shirts with billowing sleeves, patterned skirted jerkins made from fleeced hides and plain felt britches which gathered loosely into calf-high boots. All were armed: every man wore a bandolier of wooden cartridge boxes over one shoulder and carried a crude pistol; one or two had a long-barrelled musket or rifled carbine, on their backs and each wore a long-bladed knife with an ornately carved hilt and whips hung looped at their belts.
These men were of the Zoukai, a brotherhood of warrior guardians, hiring themselves to protect the caravans which carried the trade of Temsevar. Named after the swift and ruthless, red-plumed predatory birds which hunted from the skies in these very wastes, they were bound by a strict code of honour which placed loyalty to their captain and their caravan above all else.

You can keep reading The Fated Sky which is free to download 24-28 November and is the first part of Transgressor Trilogy, and the first book in Fortunes Fools by E.M. Swift-Hook.

Granny’s Forty-First Pearl

Pearls of wisdom from an octogenarian who’s seen it all…

Ruralness

Right let’s get this one buried shall we? The twee images posted on whichever antisocial media you frequent are not real.

Yes, you can pick blackberries and make jelly – not jam for feck’s sake the seeds will germinate in your rectum. Yes, you can pick sloes and construct sloe gin.

But. Neither of these activities is accomplished wearing a floaty frock and ballet flats. You need wellies and a stout stick to hook the required and beat back the stinging nettles.

And, running barefoot through the fields? 

Good luck with that. If the thistles don’t get you the cowshit will…

Author Feature: The Humility of Humans by Chrys Cymri

The Penny White Series comes to a dramatic close with The Humility of Humans by Chrys Cymri.

Gentle waves chimed across the golden sands, touching my bare feet with warm water. The blue skies, the green hills, and the birds which wandered the shoreline all added to the beauty of the place. But my eyes were drawn to a far more glorious sight. I never tired of watching my husband flying towards me, his hide shimmering between black and green in the bright sunlight. On his left foreleg glittered a gold bracelet, twin to the one on my left wrist.
The dragon tipped his right wing and began to spiral down to the beach. I placed a hand on my hat, holding it firmly as Raven landed twenty feet away. A blast of air from his wings blew across my chest, and then fine sand stung my sunburnt legs.
Raven walked towards me, grumbling under his breath as his weight made his feet sink deep into the soft sand at every step. There were disadvantages to being nearly twice the height of a horse. When he reached my side, I lifted a hand to touch the warm skin near his red-rimmed nostrils.
After a moment, he said, ‘No air thin places over this island, either.’
‘Land crossings?’
‘Several,’ he acknowledged. ‘But those would only lead through to the Earth equivalent.’
‘Not much of a help,’ I agreed. ‘Especially as I don’t have my passport with me. Or any way of explaining how I’ve ended up in–remind me what Caribbean island we’re on now?’
‘According to Cornelius, the inhabitants call this island “Taino”,’ Raven said. ‘I have no idea what that is on your world.’
‘I don’t either.’ I sighed. ‘There are times when I really miss Google.’

You can keep reading The Humility of Humans by Chrys Cymri as it is available now.

A Bite of… Chrys Cymri

(1) What have you found the best and worst aspects of writing the Penny White series?

This was the first time I’d embarked on what, I quite early on, realised would be a nine book series. The worst bit was trying to make sure I kept straight descriptions of the characters, so I didn’t change their eye or hair colours! I also wanted a character arc for all of the main characters, and that was challenging.
The best part was spending so much time with characters which I enjoyed. Once I found each one’s ‘voice’, dialogue flew from my keyboard. Sometimes one of them would surprise me by going in a new direction which, upon reflection, made sense.

(2) If you were going to do a spin-off series, which other character would you most want to write more about and why?

Clyde would have to be the main character. For some reason, this hymn-singing carnivorous snail is the favourite character of many a reader. Although the Church, in the books thus far, is grudgingly allowing him to train to be a priest, there’s a lot more of his story which I could tell.
I have written several short stories (available free in digital format) about some of the characters in the series. If I were to write another, I think it would be about Bastien, the flying messenger rat who goes up against his rat king because of his love for a small gryphon.

(3) What other projects do you have in mind now the series is finished?

Before Penny took over my life, I was working on a five book space opera. I’d actually finished what I thought were the first and second books, before realising that I needed to go back in time and start with another part as the first book. It’s slow going at the moment, as all of the world building needs to be thought through.

Chrys Cymri is a priest by day, writer at odd times of the day and night and lives with a small green parrot called Tilly because the upkeep for a dragon is beyond her current budget. Plus she’s responsible for making good any flame damage to church property. She loves ‘Doctor Who’, landscape photography, single malt whisky, and my job, in no particular order. When she’s not looking after a small parish church in the Midlands (England) she likes to go on far flung adventures to places like Peru, New Zealand, and North Korea.
You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, YouTube and her own website.

EM-Drabbles – Seventy-Seven

Axan threw back his wolfskin cloak, whirled his sword above his head and leapt from the farship, roaring a battle cry.

Wheat before the scythe, they fell, contemptible peasants, as defenseless as the crops they grew. After, Axan joined the others making revel in the village with the women of the men they had slain and ample supplies of ale.

He fell asleep thinking life was good.

The sun rose but he did not stir. Throat cut in his drunken sleep, like the rest. The women washed the blood from their hands before going to bury their own beloved dead.

E.M. Swift-Hook

Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 29

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

Of course Em wasn’t the only person to note the approach of the heavies. One of the majorettes whistled and a group of baton twirlers moved forwards, to be joined by what looked very much like the same group of Saturday night fighters as had words with the pipe band.
The group of security guards abated its pace somewhat in the face of a wall of fists and twirling wood. Another figure emerged from the mob. He wasn’t particularly tall, and he wasn’t a local, but he was as broad as an oak tree and he carried a chainsaw in one knotted fist, swinging it as easily as if it was a child’s toy. He gave a brief nod to Ginny as if thanking her for the opportunity.
“See them lot there,” he said, “they burned the house I grew up in because my father wouldn’t sell it to their rotten little boss. Dad died a month later from the burns he sustained. And them bastards got away with it.”
The biggest of the majorettes swung her nunchucks meaningfully. “Then they are due for a few bumps if they try anything, ain’t they.”
About half the majorettes and a half a dozen hefty young men stepped forward from the roadblock in the direction of DumpCorp Security. Who eyed the size and determination of the opposition, then shook their heads and retreated. The defection of his heavies seemed to be the straw that broke the dam of Dump’s insecure grip on reality.
“Get me my guns,” he screamed. “Gonna shoot my way through these rednecks and wasters. They are going to learn who is boss round here.”
Schilling laid a hand on his forearm. “This is England, Ron, you can’t have guns here.”
Dump actually stamped his feet. “I can have whatever I like wherever I like. I’m Ronald Dump, the most successful businessman in the world.”
That was about enough for the crowd and ‘the most successful businessman in the world’ was nearly buried in flour bombs.
The sound Ronald Dump made as the flour hit him was high and inhuman. As he keened his rage to the sky, Schilling grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him.
“Stop it Ron, control yourself. We can’t afford for you to lose your shit now.”
But Dump was too far gone in rage to listen to anybody. He slapped Schilling across his cheek before turning a feral grimace on the now quiet crowd. He bent his corpulent frame – in a manner that made Em think he might burst like an overstuffed sausage – and scrabbled about under his trouser leg. When he somehow levered himself to the vertical once more, he held a small, but serviceable, pistol in his fist. He waved it in the direction of the wall of people who blocked his route to where he wanted to be.
“Now let’s see who’s brave if it might hurt.”
Nobody reacted.
Dump’s hands shook and the hectic colour of rage ran up his fleshy luck to the top of his head.
“Move. Or I’ll shoot somebody.”
Schilling grabbed his wrist. “Stop it Ron. Get your head together and stop it.”
“Get my head together? You get your head together! I pay you to sort things out and you let this crap happen.”
Suddenly the gun was pointing at Schilling’s face. He must have been a good deal braver than he looked because he faced his employer without flinching.
“Stop it Ron. You are beginning to look like a loser.”
This wasn’t at all how Em had envisaged the scene playing out. To be honest, she was beginning to wonder if it could all be solved without bloodshed. The tableau was broken as Ginny walked over to stand at Dump’s other side. She said something to him in an undertone and he stiffened.
“What the hell is she doing?” Ishmael hissed. “Doesn’t she realise that she’s just engaged with a certifiable manic. With a gun.”
“I haven’t the faintest idea.” Em felt slightly sick.
A hand came round in front of her and waved a familiar hip flask. “I’ve called the police. A picture of that wombat waving a gun seems to have galvanised them into action,” Agnes remarked. “I just hope they get here before he shoots somebody.”
“Me too. Particularly as somebody could easily be our newest sister.”
Ishmael grabbed Em’s arm. “She isn’t stupid enough to think she could survive being shot at point blank range?”
Em took a good belt of Agnes’ best cherry brandy. “I don’t think so.”
Whatever Ginny had said to Dump didn’t seem to be pouring any oil on troubled water, rather the reverse in fact, as the temperamental billionaire was waving his arms around and screaming unintelligible insults. He appeared to have forgotten his gun for the moment, but Em didn’t have a lot of hope of that remaining the case.
Schilling made a remark that brought flags of colour to Ginny’s cheeks. But she wasn’t to be deterred and her response came back whip quick.
Whatever she said must have struck a nerve, because Em thought Schilling would physically attack her, but he drew back and spat full in her face instead.
“Ever the gentleman, Mister Schilling,” this time Ginny spoke loud enough for the assembled company to hear. “I’m sure your lady mother, wherever she may be, is truly proud of you.”
He snarled but didn’t make any rejoinder.
Dump looked from one to the other and the muzzle of his pistol followed his little pink-rimmed eyes.
“I shall have to shoot both of you,” he announced. “We can’t have loose talk like that ruining my reputation.
Ginny put her hand up to the very ugly hat she was wearing and turned to smile at him. He must have seen something in her eyes because he took a step backwards. She followed him and struck his gun hand with whatever she had taken from her hat. He screamed as if his throat was being cut and the distraction was sufficient to allow a couple of the majorettes to pile in. One pushed Dump to the ground and sat on him, while the other kneed Schilling neatly in the gonads. He dropped to the ground retching and she stood over him nonchalantly waving a baton that Em was pretty sure had weighted ends.
Ginny bent down by Dump and removed something from his hand.
“Loser,” she said just loud enough for Em and Ishmael to catch it.
The sound of sirens came as a welcome distraction and Em tapped Ishmael on the arm.
“Shall we fade back into the crowd a bit?”

Part 30 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

Weekend Wind Down – The Queen of Swords

The old woman had always been protective of her deck of tarot cards. “Don’t you be touching they. They’m no good to the likes of you.”
Later, as the growth in her belly began to claim her life, she came to rely on Ruth, and they became more than teacher and pupil. Even so, it was a surprise when the old one pressed a cloth wrapped package into her hands one day.
“Don’t open they until I’m gone. They only knows one master. But you should be able to get one use out on them before they dies with me.”
Ruth put the cards in her pocket and got on with life. She was busy enough with caring for the dying wise woman and dealing with the calls on her skills as a herbalist not to think about the future at all, leave alone a one-use deck of tarot cards.
When she closed her mentor’s eyes for the last time and placed a kiss on each wrinkled eyelid, Ruth sat back on her heels and rubbed a weary forearm over her brow. Things, she thought, were about to get difficult.
She wasn’t wrong. Her troubles started almost immediately with the arrival of the young man who now owned the cottage in which she lived. He was one Donal Thatcher, nephew to the woman whose corpse was barely cold. At first Ruth thought he wanted her out, but he was lazier and cleverer than that. He would, he said, allow her to stay in her home if she became his second wife. It was not precisely an appealing prospect, but she knew the village looked to her to accept his offer and remain as their healer and herbalist. If she was to be burnt at both ends by a lazy demanding family and a hard physical job, why nobody cared about that. It was her place to be useful. Even her own father made it clear there was no place for her in the family home.
“You chose to be ‘prenticed to a witch now you be payin’ the price,” he said before shutting the door in her face.
It was hard not to feel vengeful as she retraced her steps towards the now overcrowded cottage. Her father might say that it was her own choice, but it was he who had made it impossible to live as his daughter. He who had made her life miserable and had crowned his petty cruelties by refusing to consent to her marrying the boy her heart hankered for. She sighed and mentally shouldered her burdens. What to do?
There was, on the edge of the forest, an old oak tree where she had held hands with her love in the carefree spring of her life. As if knowing her need for a connection with past happiness, her feet took her to that very tree, while her mind grappled with the problems of here and now. Impelled by who knew what impulse Ruth put her hands against the rough trunk and rested her cheek on the sun-warmed bark.
“Where are you, my love?” She expected no answer, but it comforted her just to think of his strong, brown face.
“I’m coming, Ruth. I’m coming.”
She turned in half a panic, not daring to believe her ears.
“Where. Where are you?”
“Meet me at midnight.” Then she heard the joyful note of his laughter before he was gone from her mind.
Was that real? she wondered. But no. It couldn’t be. It was just her heart playing tricks with her.  Then again, what if it was a real sending? She walked into the cottage still lost in thought to be greeted by the shrill scolding of Donal’s fat wife. 
“Where have you been, you lazy slut.”
Ruth didn’t trouble herself to answer, and a bout of slapping and hair-pulling might have ensued had not a long, angular shadow fallen over the chaos of what had once been a serenely pretty sitting room. Donal’s wife took one look at who stood in the doorway and dropped to the floor in a deep curtsy. It was the moneylender, the only man of any wealth within half a day’s ride, and a man who even her mentor had feared for his affinity with the dark. Ruth looked into the narrow, whiteness of his face and knew what he had come for.
“Mistress Ruth,” the voice was deep and smoothly cold, and it jangled against her nerve endings. “Mistress Ruth. I come to offer you the protection of my name and my hearth.”
“Oh no, sir. She cannot do that sir,” Mistress Donal babbled. “Her is already promised to us.”
“Is that the truth?”
“No. I am promised to nobody.”
The bony man looked severely at both women.
“My offer is on the table. I shall call at noon tomorrow for Mistress Ruth’s answer.”
He turned on his heel and all but collided with Donal, who had been hovering behind him. The three cottagers watched as the moneylender mounted his tall horse and rode away without a backward glance. Donal grabbed his wife by the wrist.
“You don’t lie to that one, stupid slut.” Then he turned a fulminating eye on Ruth. “And you. You now have until noon tomorrow to make up your mind. It’s him or us. And he’s killed three wives already.”
Ruth nodded. “Aye, I know. It looks as if you win. But for now can I have some peace and quiet please.” She was about at the end of her tether and surely even Donal could see she should be pushed no further lest she break altogether. 
He looked at her for a moment then laughed a harsh laugh. “I suppose we can give you that much. One last night alone before you come to our bed.”
His wife licked her lips and it was all Ruth could do not to allow her revulsion to show in her face. She managed to keep a calm exterior, though, and went quietly into the room that served her both as bedroom and the workshop where she prepared her potions and simples. Shutting the door quietly behind her, she sat down on the narrow whiteness of the bed and shuddered.
Where had her options gone? The same place as her carefree youth she thought. For a moment she felt the claws of despair, but she straightened her spine. It was no good repining, a decision must be made. She could become Dermot’s second wife, or she could accept the offer of the moneylender, a man who she believed to be deeply involved in the darker arts.  Neither choice promised much of a chance at happiness. Once she admitted  that it strengthened her resolve. She would take neither, instead, the minute it grew full dark she would leave. Of course Dermot wouldn’t let go of her that easily and neither would the moneylender. Somehow none of that seemed to matter, she would just go.
The window was big enough to climb out of if she took only a small bundle of things, and the world away from what she knew could hardly be less friendly than what she was facing in the familiarity of the place where she was born. Maybe, she thought with a warming of the area around her heart, she would even go back to the oak tree and wait there until midnight. 
She carefully gathered together a small pile of things, not too much because she would need to carry everything she took. She was hunting for her warm cloak when her hand fell on a small cloth-wrapped bundle. The tarot deck. 
Even through the cotton wrapping Ruth could feel the cards growing warm in her hand as if they would speak to her. She bowed her head in respect before opening the pack and allowing the tarot to tell her what it would.
Whilst she laid the cards out her conscious mind registered that the pattern on the table was unfamiliar, but her hands and the cards seemed to know what they were doing. As she finished, her right hand went to a card and a voice in her head said ‘moneylender’. She was unsurprised to see the hanged man, symbolic of death and disgrace. ‘Donal’ showed the Devil’s leering face. ‘Remain’ her hand turned over the symbol of chaos and misery that was the tower. ‘Leave now’ she felt the warmth of hope even as she turned over that very card. 
“And lastly, Ruth,” this time she whispered aloud, her voice a thread of sound in the orange light of sunset. Without hesitation she turned the card. It was the queen of swords. The last piece in the puzzle adjuring her to have courage and purpose. 
Ruth bowed her head in acknowledgment and a single tear ran down her cheek, but it was cathartic rather than sad. 
I will rest a while, she thought. Then I make my own life away from this place. She rested, quiet in her mind for the first time since the old witch fell ill. 
When the moon rose she was ready, slipping away like a wraith in the night.
Whether it was her new found courage, or whether the spirits of the tarot were watching over her she knew not, but for whatever reason her escape ran flawlessly and she soon found herself in the woodland being drawn ever westward as though by an invisible string from her heart. Around her the sounds of the nighttime wood were somehow comforting and she trod bravely with her feet making little noise on the thick loam beneath the trees. Once in the fitful moonlight she saw a badger snuffling about his business, and once a stag raised his horned head to gaze limpidly at her passing.
She supposed it must be midnight when she reached the mighty oak. Reaching out her hand she smoothed his bark and felt the ageless incurious spirit that inhabited the heart of the tree. As she communed with the forest giant her ears caught a breath of sound, and her heart leapt into a blaze of joy. By the time the sound resolved itself into the wheels of a wagon and the hooves of a horse she was standing at the side of the track with her bundle on her shoulder. He didn’t even need to stop the wagon, merely reaching down a strong arm and lifting her onto the seat at his side. They kissed briefly then both set their faces to the east and the miles that must be covered before sunrise. 

The moneylender was at the cottage early next morning, banging on the door and waking the inhabitants with cold curses.
“Where is she?” he demanded.
Donal didn’t pretend to misunderstand. “In her room. She begged the favour of one night alone. She hasn’t come out.”
“Fool.” The dark wizard felled the lazy thatcher with a blow of his staff. “Fool. She has flown. I awoke this morning to the sure knowledge she was gone.”
“She has nowhere to go.”
“It seems as if nowhere is preferable to either of us.”
Without awaiting invitation he shouldered his way into the cottage and up the narrow staircase. He kicked wide the door of the stillroom to see an open casement and an empty room. Cursing under his breath he was at the table where the tarot deck still lay in two strides. As he reached out his hand to dash the cards to the floor they seemed to crumple before him like leaves in the autumn wind. Only the card at the centre of the unfamiliar pattern remained intact.
The Queen of Swords stared at the dark wizard from a pair of calm green eyes…

©️Jane Jago

Hope

Hope springs eternal, but, for why?
It’s magic lending wings to fly
Lifting hurt hearts upto the sky
To sink again when truth comes by.

Hope springs eternal like the flowers
Called forth by each seasons powers
Building schemes into strong bowers
Until the truth its scheming sours.

Hope springs eternal from the rocks
Of grim reality’s brutal knocks
Its key the door of dreams unlocks
And from those dreams the waking shocks.

Hope springs eternal, as the stars
But an unfaithful lover mars
The lives of those whose touch it tars
When truth the whole illusion jars.

Hope springs eternal, weaves a rope
With which we bind ourselves to cope
With all that life throws in our scope
And this illusion springs from hope.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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