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Video Game / Romancing SaGa

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Mardias: a world created by the god Marda, and governed by many, many gods. However, long ago, the balance was torn apart when three evil gods — Saruin, Death, and Schirach — turned against the others, including the lord of all gods, Elore. In the end, Death and Schirach were stripped of their powers, while Saruin was imprisoned through the power of the ten Fatestones, along with the hero Mirsa making the ultimate sacrifice.

A thousand years have passed since then, the Fatestones scattered throughout Mardias. Ample time for the forces of evil to regroup. And now, across the world, eight adventurers are about to embark on their own journeys, each for their own reasons:

  • Albert — A young nobleman from Rosalia, and an aspiring member of the Frontier Guard. His father, Lord Rudolph, is the Master of Isthmus Keep; his older sister, Diana, is the beloved of Prince Neidhart, as well as his superior in swordscraft. A Wide-Eyed Idealist who believes wholeheartedly that Justice Will Prevail, but is decidedly naive at times.
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  • Aisha — A Genki Girl from the nomad Taralian tribe, who wander the Steppes of Galissa. Her grandfather, Nizam, is the elder of the tribe, and has raised her since her parents passed away while she was still very young. Despite this tragedy, Aisha is cheerful and curious about the world beyond the Steppes.
  • Hawke — Captain of the Lady Luck, Hawke is an experienced Pirate with a magnetic personality. With the Geckling Guella Ha serving as his first mate, he has gained quite a notorious reputation among the sailors of Pirate Coast...
  • Sif — A warrior from the winter wastelands of Valhallaland. Sif is one of the strongest members of the tiny hamlet known simply as Gato's Village; however, she has never ventured beyond their icy borders...
  • Gray — An accomplished adventurer who specializes in treasure hunting. His name fits his outlook on life; more than anything else, he values his freedom.
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  • Claudia — A beautiful young woman who has been raised by the witch Eule, hidden away in the enchanted forest of Mazewood. Relates better to animals than she does people. Naturally, there's a great secret about her that even she's not aware of...
  • Jamil — A cunning thief from Estamir, a city divided by the river and extremely poor class relations. His best friends are Dowd and his not-quite girlfriend Farah, and he looks out for them while dreaming of making a better life — or, rather, seizing it with his own two hands.
  • Barbara — A free-spirited entertainer who makes a living by traveling and performing all across the land. Not only is she a skilled performer, she's also a talented adventurer more than capable of handling a sword.

Then there's the mysterious Minstrel that shows up wherever they travel, several other adventurers that flit in and out of their lives — from simple mercenaries to travelers and soldiers with thier own histories and stories to tell — and the festering evil that's bubbling to the surface... And, of course, the players themselves, who chooses how to weave all these threads together and determines how their tales unfold...

It eventually got two sequels for the Super Famicom, and was remade for the PS2 in 2005 as Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song. The subtitle was dropped for release in the West, which had never before seen a Romancing SaGa title in the first place.

Romancing SaGa provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers under Estamir and Melvir both qualify. How absurdly spacious are they? Both have evil temples hidden in their depths.
  • Action Girl: Aisha, Barbara, Claudia, Sif... really, all the recruitable woman qualify.
  • All Myths Are True: The mysterious minstrel loves to regale heroes with various myths explaining the history of Mardias, often relating to quests that the player recently took on.
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of the history of Mardias and plenty of other details were only published in supplemental materials in Japan.
    • However some people were able to get their hands on the material and provide a translation Long before the game began, there were many deities but two stood out from the rest; Marda; the Creator God of Mardias, and Saiva; The Goddess of Destruction. Both of them fought and their powers brought the fight to a stalemate, in order to turn the tide of the battle, Saiva created a god of her own. She channeled immense amounts of magic to her finger and pricked it with a needle; That needle became an empowered sword known as the Main Gauche/Left Hand Sword. From the wound, Elore; God of Light was born. However, Elore sided with Marda, and Saiva was defeated by Marda and Elore. After Saiva was defeated, her body broke into several parts, which became the three Dark Gods: Death, Saruin, and Schirach. Long after the battle, Mardias became useless and many of the lesser Gods left. Elore stayed and helped Nisa; Goddess of Earth to rebuild the world. Humans then were created from the Terranites (Nisa's Children) who were used as a base model. The current Deities of Mardias are the children of Elore and Nisa, with the exception of Mirsa, who was a human that became a God.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Obtaining Mirsa's Armor drastically alters Albert's look. Also, Gray gets a slight appearance change upon completing his scenario quest.
  • Anti-Grinding: The Event Rank system makes grinding a generally bad idea... Until late in the game, if you're trying to reach ER 22 and unlock Frosthold Fortress the long way.
  • Armored But Frail: The Dragon Knight has some built-in immunities to certain attacks and comes with nice equipment. He only has 5 LP.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Happened to the hero Mirsa in the Backstory, as he joined the pantheon following his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The secret recruitable characters Frielei, Captain Silver and the Dragon Knight have incredible stats but absurdly low LP, making them liabilities in the end-game battles.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The Sorcery and Necromancy spell sets exist purely so your enemies have more magic to choose from. You can't find anyone who'll teach these to you, so don't bother. This also foreshadows Red Mage's true purpose, like it wasn't obvious from the start...
  • The Battle Didn't Count: Interestingly, this can apply to your own party: in several cases, if you get trounced in a fight, the game shows your hero kneeling and recovering (though any LP you lost is still gone).
    • Actually can be used to unlock all techniques if you fight Pyrix, he has a high spark rate (Ability to learn techs)
  • Bears Are Bad News: For the bad guys, in this case. Brau isn't a bad bear, though he's definitely the strongest member of Claudia's starting team.
  • Beef Gate: As your Event Rank goes up and you defeat weak enemies, chances for stronger enemies to take their place grows. You have to upgrade your equipment regularly if you want to survive.
    • A fair few sidequests have powerful Macguffin Guardians such as the Aquatic trio guarding a cave in Crystal Lake or the Clawbug protecting the entrance to Merholm.
  • Bishōnen: One of the staple elements of Minstrel Song's makeovers.
  • Blow You Away: Aerology. Combines Razor Winds with summoning snowstorms.
  • Bonus Boss: The Jewel Beast, and Saruin on subsequent playthroughs of Minstrel Song where you can offer the Fatestones and increase his power, resulting in quite possibly the strongest boss in the entire game when you've given them all to him. Death can be fought at anytime in the Netherworld, Schirach is a New Game+ boss as the Unlucky Woman quest carries over to future playthroughs if you didn't talk to her enough times in earlier playthroughs, once it's cleared, just speaking to Schiele once will clear the quest.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: One of the Assassin Guild's recruitment methods.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After the credits of each scenario, whichever hero you played as comes out, thanks the player directly and makes a few comments about how you helped them, then prompts you to guide one of the others and disappears behind a door.
  • Broken Bird: Schiele, a drifter who constantly requests to be left alone.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Hawke. Sif also qualifies, gender aside.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Appears in the 'Creepy Butterfly' quest.
  • But Thou Must!: Averted in some places, with appropriate consequences. For instance, killing Wuhan prevents you from taking a certain quest from him. You can still trigger it, but won't get the extra rewards. In another case, if you want to keep the Aquamarine, you can't talk to or try to recruit Prince Neidhart, as the Aquamarine is his kingdom's treasure, and he won't let you keep it. Yet another case, after a certain quest, you will be offered knighthood, which you can decline. However, everytime you decline, the one offering you knighthood repeats the exact thing again and again, everytime, until the game finally lets you decline.
  • Cel Shading: Used in the remake for cutscenes.
  • Chain of Deals: You can end up on one courtesy of the Four Elemental Gods. Notably involves one of the more obvious Karma Meter moments: potentially murdering Galahad to get the Ice Sword.
  • Challenge Run: Easy in-game path to one: Collect all the Fatestones and set them on the altars in the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Voila, super-powered Saruin. Have... fun?
  • Character Level: The Class system. One of the bonuses of New Game+ is selecting a starting class for your hero from a list that you've unlocked, saving you some extra Jewels.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: Your hero. In most cases, all you have to do is ask. While accessing them can be problematic, the actual recruitment typically isn't.
  • Combination Attack: Comes in two forms: regular combos and Vortexes, which add flashy graphics that impress the gods.
  • Conspicuously Selective Perception: Becomes apparent when using the Lurk/Move Silently proficiencies to sneak past enemies; activate the right one and it won't matter if your footsteps are echoing loudly or you just walked right in front of that fish, so long as you've covered for the sense they do use to locate you.
  • Cool Gate: The Gate to the Netherworld and Purgatory
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Fatestones, though only in the sense that they keep Saruin Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Dowd is so nervous and flighty, one wonders how he became a thief in the first place.
  • Crossdresser: Jamil's storyline starts with this; at one point he has to crossdress to get past a guard, by passing himself off as the newest member of Wuhan's harem. Farah is extremely amused. While you can perform this quest with other heroes, they can't take this option.
  • Cute Witch: Myriam.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: The "Moonlit Butterfly" quest results in the client discovering this. Initially assumed to have walked out his family while his wife was deathly ill, the player character discovers the father had actually found the cure to her condition only to get lost inside Mazewood Forest and die there. The butterfly plaguing the woman was her father's soul trying to reach out.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Death, in addition to being the god of death, is also the maintainer of the life cycle and the protector of lost souls. He even serves as the harvest god for the people of Uso.
  • Developers' Foresight: Subverted. The generic no-name mercenaries players can recruit early on in the game tend to have powerful weapons for the time they're available. Those thinking they can pilfer these characters for Disc One Nukes will often find these items un-movable. That doesn't stop you from looting-and-booting named characters, though.
  • Determined Homesteader: Most of the citizens of The Frontier qualify.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The Nymph Statues. Three brothers pull up three sacred nymph statues in their nets, and decide to try selling them. This calls down the wrath of ocean god Yucomb, who sends his followers to get the statues back. Mainly through violence. After two of his brothers die horribly, the third decides to return the last statue to the sea and beg forgiveness. He's met by their baby sister... and their mother, who grabs the statue from him, ranting about how they'll live like royalty, then plummets to her death. In front of her only surviving son and daughter. Jeez...
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Terrology. Tear chunks out of the earth, or just open a chasm under your enemies' feet, plus self-camoflage and powerful magical shields.
  • Doom Magnet: The entire Frontier.
    • The three Nymph Statues also qualify, considering how angry Yucomb is at their theft.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: If you don't beat the sleeping Jewel Beast before he wakes up, this happens to the whole Frontier.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The 'generic' mercenaries are only known by their profession.
  • Fake King: Late in the game, the villains take advantage of Theodore's Lawful Stupidness by replacing him with a Knight Templar Body Double, who promptly starts making unreasonable demands of his peers and declares war on Weiserheim because Lady Flammar won't give him the Ruby Fatestone.
  • Fiery Redhead: Aisha, who combines this with Cheerful Child.
  • Final Death: Watch those LP; if those run out...
  • Five-Man Band: Since there's five slots in the party, it's easy enough to build your own take on this. Who fills what roles obviously varies.
  • Genki Girl: Aisha.
  • Glass Cannon: Any build focusing on Magic.
    • As far as characters go, Dragon Knight, Captain Silver and Frielei. They have impressive stats, but LP counts that barely surpass starter mercenaries make them very frail.
  • Global Currency Exception: To train in Classes, you need Jewels. While you receive these from Sidequests, some chests, and using skills, the cost for higher levels add up fast.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: Some of the gods take a more direct hand in matters than others; thankfully, the evil gods aren't the only ones who are active. Your actions attract the attention of different gods; impressing them enough (by taking quests they find interesting/beneficial or even just fighting different types of monsters) can lead to them abruptly intervening during battle, to impressive effect.
    • Actually it is more than that, buying magic from temples and fighting in certain regions will also increase the value, and performing Vortexes corresponding to each god.
  • Guide Dang It!: Certain subquests fall into this.
    • Example: To make Dowd recruitable, you have to play Jamil's story, let Dowd leave when he asks, then, once it becomes available, agree to destroy the Assassin's Guild, then sleep at the Inn in South Estamir. That lets you pick him up in later playthroughs, anyway...
  • Hidden Elf Village: Merholm. In this case, though, the inhabitants only head there after deciding that the world's growing too dangerous.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Cosmology. A few protective spells compliment THE RAW POWERS OF THE HEAVENS THEMSELVES.
  • Honor Before Reason: Theodore adores this.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: You are the hostage held by Scorn and Schiele has to give up her Fatestone to save you. However it was a Restraining Bolt keeping her dark magic sealed away causing her to awaken as her old self: Schirach quickly kills Scorn, leaving the stone behind for you to keep.
  • Human Popsicle: Freilei but that can also be due to the effects of the Obsidian Sword
  • Human Sacrifice: Unrelated to the Virgin Sacrifice below is how the player can engage in this, by venturing into the Underworld and offering up one of your party members to Death. Death always takes the second person in the party, not the fourth as you might expect.
  • Idea Bulb: Always appears over a character's head when they learn a new technique.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Appears a lot in Minstrel Song; not only did everyone get makeovers for The Remake, they all ended up with very fancy and detailed clothes. Even Jamil and the others living in the slums of South Estamir...
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Both sitting around visible to all and 'hidden', requiring the use of a certain skill to reveal it.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The game's defining feature is its "Event Rank" system. Random encounters and completing quests all advance your Rank; allowing for new events to happen, new enemies to appear and the game to progress. Quests can be failed if your Rank advances too much while they're active and some can even be missed entirely. This is also the reason the game encourages exploration and enforces Anti-Grinding, as grinding too much early on will make enemies impossibly strong and will lock you out of pertinent events and the items behind them.
  • It's Personal: Jamil towards the Assassin's Guild after learning what they did to Dowd/Farah's mother.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Gray has completely even stat-growth across the board, for better and for worse.
  • Joke Character: Herman. Aside from being an asian stereotype in on his own joke, he has low stat growth in all areas except Endurance; preventing him from performing any role other than damage-sponge. (And even then, Sif does it better!)
  • Justice Will Prevail: Albert's worldview, taken to eleven by Lord Theodore and the Knights of the Dominion.
  • Karma Meter: Related to the Relationship Values with the Gods: you can curry favor with the evil Gods, too. There aren't many opportunities for this (outside of knowing where to fight and how to perform the combo the bad Gods like), but when they come up...
  • Kenji Ito: Composed the entire Romancing Sa Ga series music.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Invoked by the start of one scenario, and Subverted; Neidhart saves Aisha, but she's more curious about his kingdom than she's interested in him, and he has his own Love Interest in Diana.
  • Last of Their Kind: The Taralians are descendants of the the goddess Nisa's chosen. During the last war between the gods, she sheltered them in her underground temple; they emerged to find the world vastly changed and their culture all that remained of the old world.
  • Lawful Stupid: Lord Theodore. So utterly convinced that his code of honor trumps everything else, to the point where he's perfectly willing to execute one of his most loyal knights over suspected cowardice... because said knight got slashed in the back during an ambush. And without a witness to confirm they were ambushed, he assumes the knight broke the code and tried to run away, something knights never do in Theodore's mind.
  • Leitmotif: Each of the leads has their own theme, ranging from Aisha's airy music box-ish 'Feel the Wind' and Jamil's easygoing 'I'll Take All The Treasure!' to Albert's heroic fanfare 'Hope For Justice' and Sif's steady 'Courage Becoming Resolve'.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The secret characters Freilei, Silver and Dragon Knight have absurd stats....and absurdly pitiful defenses. Not an issue for regular fights, but end-game bosses will eat them alive.
  • Lizard Folk: Guella Ha and the other Gecklings.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Aquamarine, the Black Diamond and the Moonstone.
  • Mad Scientist: Ewei. If that's not bad enough, he's a Flunky Boss and That One Boss.
  • Magikarp Power: Martial Arts is pitiful at the start of the game due to characters' low Strength ratings. If you give it a chance however, it can result in some of the game's best attacks.
  • Making a Splash: Hydrology. Default healers combined with time manipulation and summoning magical fish to ram your opponent.
  • Master of Illusion: Illusion. Fire, Ice and Lightning spells, phantom Body Doubles, plus the ability to put enemies to sleep or snap friends out of it.
  • Mind over Matter: Demonology. Sure, it's dark energy, but it's used mainly for Status Buffs and energy waves.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Fatestones. They're even different types of jewels (Ruby, Aquamarine, Topaz, Opal, and so on) and can be equipped for various bonuses.
  • Money Spider: Gold Dragon. They always drop Pure Gold which sells for 1000G. There is a little trick involving having to only fight them during the Mine Assaulted quest. Do not save any of the miners when farming Gold Dragons as it may remove them from the passageways. Simply kill and return.
  • Multiple Endings: The scenes that play depend on what quests you finished, who was in your party, and other decisions both major and minor.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: Opposing elements cancel each other out, barring you from having a full selection of spells: Pyrology opposes Hydrology, Aerology opposes Terrology, Illusion opposes Demonology, Cosmology opposes Sorcery, and Bewitchery opposes Necromancy. However, there's a way around this: Certain weapons channel magic. Teach a caster all the spells of that class before learning the non-barred class, then equip the channeling weapon on them. Voila! Just remember that the channeling cost is based on your skill with that weapon, not any actual talent with the magic itself...
  • Mythology Gag: The Saw from The Final Fantasy Legend returns in this game as the Bilqis Axe, which turns into the chainsaw with the technique: Fury of Bel'kwinith. Not as effective as the original as you can't cut Saruin, or his siblings into pieces as you did the Creator.
    • To further reinforce the point, it relies on the Agility stat, which the original Saw used.
  • Neglectful Precursors: The pantheon of Gods is mostly the second generation; the original, ancient gods left after the war between them tore Mardias apart. Apparently they couldn't be bothered to help clean up. And all this was before Saruin started acting up...
  • New Game+: Mainly lets you choose your next hero's starting class, along with raising the Jewels payout with each new generation. Also unlocks a few quests, or in one case, carries over your progress in it. Now, if you manage to complete all eight heroes' stories in a single save file...
  • Nice Hat: Very common in Minstrel Song. Most of the heroes have unique or distinct headgear; so do most recruitable characters and important NPCs... even regular NPCs can get nice hats if they're the right model.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "Vampire mummies are on board; please disembark in an orderly fashion."
  • Noble Wolf- Silvan, one of Claudia's animal companions.
  • Not Good with People: It's not that Claudia's shy or snobby; she simply isn't used to dealing with others outside of Eule and her animal friends.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Followers of Yucomb, god of the sea, who can take human form with his blessing. One of the Minstrel's tales is a fable about the Nymph Statues that connects them to mermaids: According to the fable, the statues are actually three of Yucomb's daughters, Taken for Granite after a Star-Crossed Lovers incident.
  • Pirate Girl: Captain Silver.
  • Playing with Fire: Pyrology. Combines the usual flame-flinging fun with protection and auto-revival
  • Prestige Class: The Legendary Classes, which all have the same effect: lowering the cost of all your techniques. However, this also means you don't get to enjoy the bonuses other classes offer, some of which are arguably much better, like Rosalian Mages and Imperial Scholars.
  • Quest for Identity: Recruitable ally Darque's subplot revolves around this.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Captain Silver.
  • Relationship Values: Not with your party members, but with the Gods.
  • Reincarnation: It is All There in the Manual: When any life dies, be it man, beast or flora, when they arrive in the Netherworld they must abandon their memories of their lives in order to be reborn, otherwise they must remain in the filth of Purgatory until the stress forces them to abandon their memories.
  • The Remake: Minstrel Song
    • Remade for the Export: Minstrel Song was the first Romancing Saga game released in the West and was simply titled "Romancing Saga".
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Saruin, obviously, as per the Backstory; also, The Jewel Beast, destroyer of the Frontier unless the player delays his awakening... and sometimes not even THEN.
  • Secret Legacy: Claudia is actually the princess of Melvir, whose mother died shortly after her birth, and was given to Eule to protect her from assassins. Naturally, Claudia herself is the only one unaware of this.
  • Shout-Out: Odd example: the unlucky Louie and his two identical brothers.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Before the final battle, Saruin makes a dramatic speech about making the world pay for his past humiliation and imprisionment. Your hero tells him to stop whining already and get to the fighting.
  • Split Personality: Poor Darque suffers from a form of this that can turn into a full-fledged Split-Personality Takeover if you favor Aldora. Sucks to be them.
  • Spoony Bard:
    • While The Minstrel is a decent ally, easily available for most of the game, he automatically leaves whenever you enter a pub, can't participate in any of the three ending quests, and if you complete the Trials of Elore, he won't rejoin you at all, so trying to use him may be more trouble than it's worth.
    • The 'generic' mercenaries you can hire have extremely low LP — only 3 or 4 compared to the usual double-digit range — so avoiding Final Death is a massive pain.
    • The Dragon Knight recruitable in later playthroughs sounds amazing given his built-in immunities to certain attacks and excellent stats. Shame about that LP though....
  • Stairway to Heaven How you enter The Trials of Elore
  • Status Buff: Bewitchery. All about self-enhancement, self-healing, and the odd Ki Attack.
  • Stealing from the Till: Implied. Melvir's treasurer Patrick is nonplussed to find out monsters were robbing the bank in Aurefont. That's because he may have been paying off thieves to do the same thing beforehand.
  • The Stoic: Claudia and Gray.
  • Summon Magic: All the different schools include a 'Summon Elemental' spell, calling a Elemental Embodiment to take your place in battle for a bit. Since they're limited to just that element, though, this isn't quite as great as it sounds.
    • There is Stimulacrim: Summon a Snowman to fight in your stead, only problem is that it eats up a lot of BP and possibly LP but the Snowman summons can replace all characters and each Snowman has 777 HP, if Character was KOed when Snowman was summoned, the HP of it will be halved.
  • Threshold Guardians: Silver Dragon guards the Opal and one of Yucomb's servants guards the Black Diamond.
  • Treasure Map: Can be Randomly Dropped by various monsters, directing you to the appropriate dungeon in hopes of unearthing some really good/rare equipment... though you can only find and unearth the chests with the proper skills. One also figures into a subquest: tracking down Captain Silver's Treasure.
  • Tsundere: Farah towards Jamil.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: A few, though the most notable example is the fight against Spite outside of Yucomb's Temple.
  • Urban Segregation: North Estamir is a bustling port town where the upper class wallow in comfort; South Estamir is a slum ruled by slavers, thugs and beggars.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Involved in two different quests; in the first instance, you can actually choose to walk away and abandon the victim to her fate rather than tail the guy into the sewer. This earns you massive points with Saruin, though you obviously lose out on the reward.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: No matter which of the three ending quests you use to unlock it, it all comes down to the same place: Saruin's prison Quietus, sealed beneath Isthmus Keep.
  • Waif-Fu: The Martial Arts skill allows anyone to specialize in this. Barbara, in particular, always starts out with this.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If your chosen hero loses all their LP, that's it — Game Over.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Albert. Aisha also fits, drifting towards the Pollyanna later on.
  • With Catlike Tread: When pirates raid a town, they do so loudly. With their theme song blasting the entire time.


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