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||You are on Week 652
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Six Hundred Fifty Two Ends Friday, April 18
|"It looks like the Smugglers' Cove is empty, captain," the pirate Bruce on the crow's nest of the ship called down to the others. He raised his head and looked through his pocket telescope again. "Waters be clear."
"Excellent. Onward, then!" Captain McNab ordered.
The pirate Krawk returned to his office below the deck, unable to contain his excitement. After weeks of sailing on the salty waters, they finally found the coveted Smugglers' Cove -- the very same cove where the captain's great-grandfather had buried his chest full of stolen treasures, some of which were rumored to have originated from Queen Fyora's Hidden Tower.
The captain reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a small locket. Carefully, the Krawk opened the locket and took out a tiny, folded map. The paper was worn-out and frayed at the edges, and the ink had long started to fade, but Captain McNab was still able to make out the characters and illustration.
This is it, the Krawk thought to himself. The chance to recover the family heirloom. The expensive items that could bring forth endless dubloons.
A knock sounded at the captain's door. "Come in," Captain McNab grunted.
It was Lucas, the deckhand. Captain McNab had to suppress rolling his eyes. Lucas was new to the team, and for a pirate-in-training, the green JubJub was almost completely incapable of acting like a true pirate. There were always complaints onboard about Lucas's unprofessionalism. Lucas was too naive, too gullible.
"Captain, we're almost at land," the JubJub squeaked.
"Aye, I know."
"What is our plan, captain?"
"We locate the treasure according to me trusty map before any other scoundrels get here," the captain answered, studying the map again. To his annoyance, the JubJub peeked over his shoulder at the map as well.
"Oh boy! I love treasure hunts. Are we trying to find the treasure before others do? Who are the others?"
At that moment, the ship came to a halt, jolting the captain and his deckhand. Above, they could hear the call, "Land ho!"
"We have no time to lose," the captain said, folding the map and returning it inside the locket. He glanced at his pocket watch. "The Smugglers' Cove gets crowded around noon. We only have two hours."
"But Captain, why do we have to work alone? Why can't we ask other pirates we meet for help?" Lucas scratched his head. "I mean, the Smugglers' Cove is welcome to all smugglers and pirates and the sorts, right?"
At this, Captain McNab's face darkened. He slowly turned to face the eager JubJub and said in a low voice, "The other smugglers are not to be trusted."
"Do you know why me great-grandfather buried the treasure in the first place? He..."
Date: Apr 14th
...Captain McNab's voice halted in mid-sentence as he looked down at the JubJub, who was practically dancing from foot to foot with excitement. He had started to say that his great-grandfather had made the mistake of trusting the wrong pirate, but a singular thought occurred to him.
What if Lucas's behavior was nothing more than an act?
Lucas had appeared out of nowhere wanting a job aboard the ship just after one of his usual deckhands had backed out at the last minute. At first, Captain McNab had thought it was fortunate, and he was willing to look past the fact that this replacement was a green landlubber, but now he began to wonder about the timing of it all. Lucas always seemed too excited and too innocent to the trials of a pirate's life. The Krawk had wondered on many occasions how anyone could be that naïve and sheltered, and perhaps no Neopian could be so ignorant to the pirating traditions. Lucas could just be acting so that he could get too close to Captain McNab's ancestral treasure.
"He what?" Lucas prompted.
"Nothing," Captain McNab grumbled. "Come on. There be work to do." He shoved past Lucas, who followed quietly and meekly behind.
On deck, the rest of his crew quickly assembled in front of him and awaited his orders, but Lucas paused for a few too many minutes. Again, the Krawk suspected there was more to him, but he opted to say nothing at this point.
"First, we assemble a launch party," Captain McNab began. "I shall lead, of course." He quickly picked out a few of his sturdiest crew members, but hesitated on Lucas. A part of him thought it would be wise to leave the JubJub on board. If he were some sort of spy or traitor, then it would be best to leave him behind. Besides, if he was just some foolish lad wanting to play pirate, then he'd less likely to get in the way here on the ship.
At the same time, he couldn't help but think of the phrase about keeping your enemies close. "And Lucas," he added, pointing at him. "You'll be coming with us." By keeping Lucas by his side, he'd be able to keep a close eye and perhaps learn his true intentions.
To his annoyance, Lucas actually jumped up in the air and clapped. Several of the other crew members groaned, but Captain McNab pretended not to notice.
"It's time to head to shore," the Krawk announced. "Me great-grandfather's treasure has remained buried long enough!"...
Date: Apr 14th
..."Here Lucas, ye'll be joinin' me an' Todd," Captain McNab commanded as he beckoned the JubJub to board the largest of the three rowboats alongside himself and the large, burly Lutari who held the position of first mate.
"Oh yes, captain! Right away, captain!" chirped Lucas, who seemed to be pleased as pie that he'd been specially selected for such an honor.
The Krawk frowned, deeply puzzled, but quickly brushed it off as he gave the order to dispatch the boats for the shore.
Lucas was buzzing the entirety of the five minute journey, peppering Todd and the captain with questions about everything from the kind of treasure that was hidden to what kind of fruits they sold on Mystery Island. However, he finally realized that the two pirates were resolved to ignoring him and took to "looking for dubloons" in the clear blue water surrounding the rowboat.
At last the crew reached the sandy banks of the Smugglers Cove. Eyeing Lucas carefully, Captain McNab ordered the rowboats to be hidden and for everyone to follow him to a small cavern in the jungle behind the main cave.
"Dig 'ere," he commanded, once they'd reached it.
"Right away, cap'n," Todd answered in his deep, growling voice.
"Can I help please, sir?" Lucas inquired.
"No thank ye, boy. Ye stay right where ye are, ye got that?" the captain replied, frowning suspiciously at the green ball of fuzz staring up at him enthusiastically.
"Okay, sir. Should I be the lookout then?"
Captain McNab grinned quietly to himself. Yes... lookout... lookout would work nicely... if Lucas was the lookout, then it would mean two very good things. First, he wouldn't be able to get himself into trouble, and second, he and the rest of the crew would be able to hide the treasure while the JubJub wasn't looking, so there would be no way for him to steal it.
"Yes, Lucas... ye go do that," he said slyly.
"Oh! Yay! I promise you that I won't let you down, sir! I'll be the best lookout ever!" Lucas replied gleefully, running off to stand guard just inside the jungle.
For several minutes all seemed well, and the fuzzy little Neopet whistled happily to himself when, suddenly... THWACK!!! A hooded figure jumped out of nowhere and stuffed poor Lucas into a sack. Shocked and terrified, the JubJub fainted immediately and the bandits dragged him and the rest of Captain McNab's crew off to their lair.
"Wha? Where am I?" Lucas murmured in a rather muffled voice upon awaking. He briefly surveyed his surroundings. Okay, dark cave, a couple of lanterns, lots of rope and empty sacks, and generally the place had a rather musky smell... hmmm... it could be better. He quickly discovered, upon attempting to move, that he was tied to a silver hoop in the wall.
"Shhhh!" a whispered voice he'd never heard before commanded. "Don't let them know you're awake!"
Lucas suddenly turned to his right, where the voice seemed to come from, and was rather surprised. There, sitting next to him and also tied up, was a frowning yellow Xweetok dressed in old, dusty pirate clothes and desperately trying to untie herself.
She quietly introduced herself as Carla, but refused to say any more. Then, looking up from the knots around her wrist and her large yellow eyes looked straight into his, she whispered, "We're going to need each other to get out of here..."
Date: Apr 15th
...After glancing warily around the cave, she swiveled her body carefully toward Lucas. "I can't get my hands down further than this." She reached down on the rope but it stopped close to her neck. "I have a small knife in my pocket that they didn't take. You can probably reach it with your mouth."
"Who is they?" Lucas asked groggily. Did she mean the captain? Where was the rest of the crew? He looked around the cave, letting his eyes adjust, but the only thing that surrounded him was dark rocks.
"You'll find out soon enough if you don't hurry." She gave him an encouraging nod.
Lucas inched near the Xweetok's pocket and, trying to ignore the generous amount of dirt on her clothes, he maneuvered a small knife from her pocket and held it in his teeth for her to grab. She picked it up hastily and began sawing at the ropes.
"Who are you?" Lucas asked, now that she had a few minutes to talk.
"I told you, my name is Carla," she said.
"Are you a pirate?" he asked curiously. "You don't talk like a pirate."
"I'm... in training," she said. The final strand of rope snapped and she flexed her hands with a grimace. Quickly, she reached over and untied Lucas from the silver hoop. "I was walking in the jungle and some figures in cloaks grabbed me," she explained in a hurried whisper. She paused, listening for sound, while examining for an escape. "What about you? You seem to be a long way from home. Were you on vacation or something?"
Lucas was about to respond when he realized Carla did not take him for a pirate. He was wearing a leather vest, but Captain McNab had yet to bestow him with the customary skull and crossbones patch everyone else in the crew wore. Thinking of the captain, he recalled the Krawk's words about mistrusting other smugglers.
"Yeah," he muttered. "Vacation. Why would someone grab us like this?"
"Not sure," Carla responded, turning her yellow eyes toward him, "but I know it has something to do with this pirate my crew is looking for."
"A pirate?" Lucas asked, frowning.
"Yep," Carla said absentmindedly. "My captain said he stole something from him. He’s a pretty bad guy; goes by the name of McNab. Captain McNab..."
Date: Apr 15th
...Lucas's response was instinctive. "Captain McNab!" The exclamation tore from his lips, cutting Carla off. He shook his head as he stared, shocked. There was no doubt in his mind as to who she was talking about. "What do you mean?" His words were a squeak, which, he knew, meant one of two things: either he was excited... or he was shaken.
The glance locked with his sharpened. "You know of him?" Carla whispered, her yellow eyes bright. "McNab?" Though her manner of speech differed, the Xweetok moved in a way that was instantly familiar to Lucas. One hind foot behind the other, Carla's knees were bent in the stance of a pirate readied for combat. It was a predatory image -- whether it was meant to be, or not. If Lucas had felt dazed before, he was certainly awake now.
"I've heard of him," Lucas mumbled and Carla's posture relaxed. The JubJub's chest continued to rise and fall in quick succession, however. He was new to Captain McNab's crew and knew little about the Krawk's character. The warning the captain had given him repeated itself again in Lucas's head. Other pirates could not be trusted. They were capable of many an unpleasant thing. Did that extend to Captain McNab, too? He was a pirate, after all. Wasn't it only to be expected? Lucas had known that pirates weren't, strictly speaking, good when he'd signed up. It was part and parcel with the adventure he'd sought and pursued still. "What did he do?"
Carla had taken her time in assessing him. Apparently satisfied, she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear before she replied. "McNab is a distant cousin of my captain's. Their great-grandfathers," she related, "led a crew together as captain and first mate." The other Neopet paused, eyebrows pulling taut, as she considered how much to tell him. "The treasure built up between them was the stuff of legends."
Lucas blinked at the awe in her tone. "Go on," he said. While true that Captain McNab had connected his great-grandfather to the treasure they hunted, Lucas had always had the impression that it belonged exclusively to his great-grandfather. The existence of a great-great uncle was nothing he’d heard before.
Carla lowered her already-hushed voice. "The treasure was meant to be shared between the descendants of these two when the right time came. Some years ago, though," she went on, "McNab stole the map to its location from my captain. It's for that reason that we -- my crew -- are here."
"You think that he's here? Now? At Smugglers’ Cove?" Lucas's breathing accelerated once more. "Why?"
The Xweetok looked at him before glancing over her shoulder. "The treasure can only be found under certain circumstances, with certain tools." She pursed her lips. "That's all I'll be saying about that. We'd best leave now." Carla nodded toward Lucas's left. "I think I've worked out a means of escape..."
Date: Apr 16th
...As Carla grabbed a candlestick for a weapon Lucas noticed her accent changing. She sounded more like a pirate now, which made him wonder. He thought that perhaps she was pretending not to be a pirate in case he was one. The yellow Xweetok seemed very clever and capable.
"He always seems to leave fer at least an hour every day at this time. I think he goes to The Golden Dubloon, which means if we move quickly we can make it out of here." Carla's voice sounded very confident and unafraid.
"Are you sure about this Carla? Maybe we should wait for reinforcements." Lucas was trying to stall her since he was worried about his crew. He had not heard them or seen them at all yet.
Carla rolled her eyes at the small green JubJub. "If we don't do this now, then we have no chance of escape. This bandit is smarter than me and certainly smarter than ye. Me father got out of worse jams than this all his life." the yellow Xweetok said this and motioned him to follow her.
Lucas was a little insulted but he had no time to say anything. While shuffling his feet in worry she grabbed his vest. He could do nothing now but follow her.
In a whisper, Lucas began to talk again as they went down the cave. "So, who's your father, anyway?" The JubJub was really curious, since he read about pirates every chance he got.
"Ye... ye wouldn't know him. He's only known by other pirates." Carla sounded like she didn't want to talk about it.
"Oh, please? It might calm me nerves if you talk while we escape." Lucas thought that, if he knew who her father was, then maybe he could figure out who Carla was.
Just as Carla was about to speak they heard a loud tapping...
Date: Apr 16th
..."Get down!" the Xweetok commanded harshly. Lucas didn't have a chance to reply before he was pushed toward a dark corner of the room.
"Hey! I--" he cried indignantly before being firmly shoved toward the ground. A wad of moss found its way into the JubJub's mouth, but he could do nothing except fight against the weight of the Xweetok pressed against him. The cobblestone floor felt cold and wet against the JubJub's fur, sending a shiver up his tiny spine.
"Shh!" Carla hissed, holding a long finger to her lips. "Do ye want us to be caught?" Lucas shook his head as much as he was able to against Carla's paw. The Xweetok's yellow eyes widened as the tapping sound grew louder. The two 'pets sat in tense silence for a few moments before it stopped. A few moments later it picked up again, but only for a second. This time, when it faded away, Lucas knew whoever had been making the noise had left.
"I think you can take your paws off me now," Lucas muttered brusquely as he spit the salty moss out of his mouth. Carla grinned sheepishly before stepping away from the JubJub.
"Sorry, matey. I just get a bit carried away sometimes." Lucas appreciated the Xweetok's honesty, but no apology was going to remove the foul taste in his mouth that the moss had left behind.
"What... I mean, who... was that?" the JubJub questioned as he brushed some loose dirt and rocks out of his fur. Carla shrugged nonchalantly.
"Me best bet is that it was one of them pirates that captured us in the first place." Lucas frowned. Now that he thought about it, the tapping did sound oddly reminiscent of Captain McNab's peg leg. The JubJub didn't dare to reveal this information to Carla, since it might've given away his identity and he wouldn't -- no, couldn't -- let that happen. Therefore, Lucas decided to change the topic.
Date: Apr 17th
"...You say you're new to the pirate profession. How did you get involved?" He smiled awkwardly, hoping she'd be receptive to elucidating on the topic.
"First of all, little mate," she started, not smiling, "being a pirate isn't just a profession, it's a way of life." Carla hesitated, then continued. "I never said I was new to being a pirate."
The JubJub frowned and narrowed his eyes. "So, you lied?"
Carla laughed slightly; it was evident to Lucas she could have easily produced a deep, hearty chuckle should she have wanted to do so. "A pirate should never lie. Half-truth, sure." She smiled wryly. "I said I was in training... I've been in training all me life."
The JubJub frowned at this new information. "So, you come from a pirate background?"
"Me father were one a' the most feared swashbucklers south a' the Island of Krawk," the Xweetok remarked, a grin plastered on her face. Her features then took on a dark and almost ominous quality. "O' course, that was before..." she trailed, seemingly unwilling to complete the thought. Carla shook herself. "I were left to be cared fer by a distant relative still in the pirate tradition, and one of me dad's closest friends."
They neared a turn in the cave system when the tapping was again heard.
"Get down again, little mate!" Carla ushered with a hiss as she threw the both of them toward the ground. Again, Lucas felt the Xweetok's crushing paw.
They were still spotted, though. However, it was not McNab.
"Ye were trapped here, too?" a familiar Lutari said to Lucas.
"Ye know him?" Carla asked the JubJub.
"Er..." Lucas trailed, still unwilling to share information.
"We be in the same crew," the Lutari began. He frowned, but then smirked devilishly. "Oops. Were I not supposed to say that?"
There was the tapping again. Lucas and Carla spun around. Standing there was McNab.
"We gotta run," the Xweetok urged, but it was quickly evident that Todd wasn't going anywhere; this was a ruse. A setup.
"Thanks, Todd," McNabb started. "We'll be havin' to escort these two to a more permanent facility."
Todd grabbed the two. Lucas was outraged. "Why me? What do you have against me?" He looked at Carla, her yellow eyes large and desperate. "Why her?"
The Krawk turned to Lucas. "Ye can't be trusted... and she!" He pointed condemningly at the Xweetok. "She be the first mate in the crew of me distant cousin. She be me adopted grand-niece."
McNab turned and walked away. "Lock 'em up, Todd..."
Date: Apr 17th
..."Aye aye, cap'n," Todd said, holding onto the pair in his burly grip. No matter how they tried to get out, the first mate wasn't going to let them go.
"Todd!" Lucas said. "Come on! You don't have to do this! We're on the same crew!"
"Lad, ye barely be a pirate and ye barely be a member of our crew!" the Lutari gruffed. "To me, this be a blessing in disguise, a perfect chance to be rid of some of the dead weight on our ship..."
Lucas gulped at that as the Lutari took them deeper into one of the caves. After several minutes, he came to a large rock in the cave system that was clearly blocking a different cave. With a hard grunt, he pushed a large rock out of the way with one of his feet and tossed Lucas and Carla into the room. A clatter rang out as they landed and the JubJub realized that they had been tossed onto a pile of old bones.
"This be where those who betray their captains are kept," Todd said with a growl. "Enjoy ye new home for as long as yer able to."
Lucas tried to get to the entrance before the Lutari closed it off, but was too late. The large rock was placed in front of the door, trapping the two of them inside.
"We're trapped!" Lucas cried out.
"Oh no..." Carla said. "This is just what I wanted."
The JubJub turned to Carla and saw that the Xweetok had a sneaky grin on her face.
"What do you mean?" Lucas asked.
"It's all going according to my plan," she said. "Remember how I said that you need certain tools and specific conditions to find the treasure? Well, everything is about to fall perfectly into place..."
Date: Apr 18th
...Lucas felt his jaw drop as he gaped at the other Neopet. "What do ye mean?" he asked again. "Fall into place how?" The JubJub couldn't imagine how being stuck inside a cave with no means of escape could be considered in any way "perfect."
Carla's grin widened toothily and she waved him closer. "Ye shall see." Bending down, she began brushing at the packed dirt that carpeted the cave floor. "Come on," Carla urged, "help me." Her fumbling claws seemed to be looking for something -- or, rather, feeling for something. She squinted as she worked. "Oh, Pawkeets," she complained. Their only light came through the minute cracks in the cave wall. It wasn't much to go by.
Lucas's feet made scuffling sounds as he joined in her search. "What are we looking for, exactly?" Making a particularly decisive swipe, he almost tripped over. "Oof." There were two small, oddly-shaped dents in the ground. "What in the..." His voice was confused.
Dimly lit as the space was, Lucas saw white teeth flash a second time as Carla's grin returned. "That," Carla told him, her voice emphatic, "is exactly what we be lookin' for. Good job." She reached toward her neck as Lucas frowned and drew a long bronze chain out from beneath the red bandanna she wore. Glittering on the end of the necklace was a tiny spherical object. Lucas gasped. It was the exact twin of the amulet he'd seen with Captain McNab in recent weeks.
"This locket belonged to me father's great-grandfather," Carla said, removing it from her neck. "Me great-great-grandfather. It's what we need to access the treasure." Gripping it with both paws, she snapped it neatly in half. Seeing Lucas's continued frown, she shrugged. "What McNab has is a replica. My dad," she hesitated, swallowing, then continued. "He feared that he might try and steal the locket from his possession and replaced it secretly. The real one he gave to me."
"Why?" Lucas had to ask. The silence that met his question was telling. Carla obviously felt uncomfortable talking about her dad, as he'd sensed before. It was, nevertheless, a valid query. Why would McNab want to steal the locket? "Was the map you told me about supposed to be inside?"
Carla nodded at length. "McNab probably wouldn't have shown ye, but yes." She lifted a piece of paper briefly from her pocket. "It's because of this map that I know that this cave is where we have to be." Her chuckle was bright, triumphant even. "A great stroke of luck, it was, that we were put in here."
Lucas's furrowed brow became more furrowed still. "But... if this is where we're supposed to be, then why are we here instead of him?" It didn't seem to make sense. "Unless..." he mused, "your dad falsified the map, too?"
The sparkle in Carla's yellow eyes was all the confirmation he needed. "McNab's out looking in the wrong area," Carla half-smirked, tone gloating, "and he has absolutely no idea." The Xweetok's glance fell a moment later and the hesitation she'd had earlier returned. "I told you a bit before, about my dad? He was once a glorious pirate, feared by all he met. McNab was his rival." Her sharp claws tugged into her arms as she folded them. It was an oddly vulnerable look Carla showed Lucas now. "McNab... he... made it his mission to win against my dad in every way and he... beat my dad's spirit in. He held a grudge, see, as he thought the treasure should belong to his side of the family alone." Her voice became bitter. "It was his great-grandfather, not my dad's, after all, who was captain. Ever since, my dad's been a shell of his former self -- still a captain, but not the same."
Lucas didn't know what to say. He opened his mouth but Carla cut him off before any consolation could be offered. "Here." Holding out half of the locket, she gestured to the indents in the cave floor. "We need to place the two halves in the ground and we need to do so together." She met his glance firmly. "The keys are spelled so that they'll only unlock if placed by two different Neopets." Her mouth, usually given to smiling, twisted. "It was supposed to ensure that one descendant of each pirate -- my great-great-grandfather and McNab's great-grandfather -- accessed the treasure together. Ye, however," she went on, "will do just fine."
As Lucas took the locket half between his toes, his thoughts flew hard and fast. Two Neopets were needed to access the treasure. McNab, undoubtedly, had planned on using Todd. Before he placed it in the ground, though, he had another question. "Is this the only condition? You told me that you knew McNab would be here today."
Carla made a noise of agreement. "Yes. High tides usually make it so that most of this cave system, including this specific cave, is underwater." She cleared her throat. "Today's the first day in a decade that it's been completely dry and that the keyholes have been exposed." So, that was what she'd meant in saying that there were conditions to be met in addition to tools to be used.
Lucas bounced where he stood. "So, together?" Carla winked at him and they placed the locket halves into the ground. He danced away at the sound of a rumble, deep and profound. It grew into a groan as, with a shudder, the rock split apart. Air whooshed into Lucas's lungs as he watched. It wasn't just the floor that cracked open. Slivers of rock, both large and small, dropped to the ground from the cave walls. Closing his eyes, Lucas opened them to see a staircase that had opened out before them. The coins he could spy at its base gleamed in the light that now streamed into the cave. Awe filled him and he could feel a smile spread across his cheeks. Now that was a treasure trove.
His smile was nothing compared to the grin that wreathed Carla's. "Dad!" the Xweetok cried. As the walls had fallen about them, figures had appeared in the dust. The pirates weren't any Lucas recognised but were, undoubtedly, Carla's crew. The JubJub made to move away; he'd participated in the treasure hunt, but the treasure itself didn't belong to him. Carla's paw, however, snaked out to rest on his back, stopping him from leaving. "Where are ye going?" she demanded, her eyes dancing.
It was difficult for Lucas to find his voice. "I don’t know," he said. It was true. He'd been kicked out from Captain McNab's crew and it was impossible for him to return there. "I'll have to find another crew to join." He sighed, feeling the beginnings of a headache. There was nothing else to be done.
The look Carla gave him was as sneaky as the look she'd given him when they'd first been stuck in the cave. "It seems you've already earned a place in one."
Lucas leaned over the ship rails as his new crew sailed out of the Smugglers' Cove. It had taken several hours to completely excavate the treasure. His muscles were sore and his stomach hungry. Sniffing at the air, he turned, laughing, as Carla came up behind him. In her paws was a well-laden plate of food. "Come on," she appealed, pointing to where most of the crew lounged. "Join the celebration."
"Soon," Lucas promised. "Wait just a moment."
Carla's eyebrows pulled together. "What for?"
Lucas jerked his head in the direction of the Cove. If one listened, carried on the wind was the sound of a distant roar. He met Carla's eyes with some satisfaction. They both knew who that voice belonged to.
Date: Apr 19th
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