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Visual Novel / The Letter

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Isabella Santos is a young real estate agent living in Luxbourne, England. Her latest assignment is the infamous Ermangarde Mansion — a house rumored to be cursed since the 17th century.

While preparing for a tour of the mansion for potential buyers, Isabella comes across a letter in the attic with the words "Help Me" written in blood… and then, the Ghost comes after her, intent on killing her.

The Letter is a horror Visual Novel created by the Filipino developer Yangyang Mobile. Each of the game's seven chapters focuses on a different character who has read the contents of the letter and is now cursed by an eerie, Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl. The game also features an expansive story-branching system that can alter the fate of each protagonist, as well as their relationships with the other characters. It is available for purchase from Steam.


Compare to The House in Fata Morgana, another horror VN about a cursed mansion and several characters that are connected to it.

This visual novel contains the following tropes:

  • Alien Geometries: Under the ghost's influence, the Ermengarde mansion becomes this.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Rebecca likes Ash who in turn likes Isabella who is too focused on her own problems to notice. This can change based on the player's choices.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Each chapter focuses on a different character who has read the letter.
  • Anyone Can Die: All the main characters can potentially die. Each death unlocks a memory fragment, some of which are needed for the True End.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The endings where Luke survives alone, or with Hannah as the only other survivor. Also, the True Ending sees the ghost get what she wants, even though she doesn't get to kill the rest of the surviving cast. Luke burns down the mansion and dies in the ghost's embrace, which causes her to pass on.
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  • Babies Ever After: Luke and Hannah, if they both survive and the relationship between them is good enough.
  • Barsetshire: Anslem Village, in contrast to the more urban Luxbourne City.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: If the player decides to choose the Ash and Isabella romantic route, their relationship becomes this as they continue to argue while nursing romantic feelings for each other.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Ash, Rebecca, and Isabella love triangle fit this model. Ash is the Archie while Rebecca is the Betty who grew up with Ash and has nursed a crush on him for years while Isabella is the Veronica who moved from the Philippines five years ago and is the object of Ash's affections. It's played with as Rebecca is a hothead and thus more standoffish while Isabella is sweet and loyal. Who Ash ends up with if he does end up with anyone is based on the player's choices.
  • Big Bad: The Ghost, aka the Anslem Butcher, haunts the Ermengarde Mansion and is said to kill anyone who reads the titular letter. All seven of the playable characters have to fight her off in their respective chapters. She is actually the fused spirit of Takako, a Japanese slave-turned-Meido, and Charlotte Ermengarde, the noble who rescued her, then tormented her until she had her executed as a witch. Takako came back and haunted Charlotte into suicide, wherein their spirits fused and became the terror of the main story.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The true ending. It is not the Everybody Lives ending. In order to achieve this ending, Hannah, Marianne, and Ashton must die by the time of the final chapter. Afterward, Luke performs a Heroic Sacrifice to ensure that Rebecca, Isabella, and Zachary can escape, and allows himself to die in the embrace of the malevolent spirit who has haunted them all, as she finally finds peace by having her wish granted. Zachary, Isabella, and Rebecca spend the rest of their lives spreading the truth of the Ermengarde mansion in their own way, and mourning Ashton.
    • Even the good/happy endings are this. Yes, Everybody Lives... except Rose and Johannes, who are killed by the Ghost no matter what you do. And depending on the specific ending, Luke and Hannah can still get divorced (though they learn to move on), and Ashton could still potentially ruin his potential relationships.
  • Black Dude Dies First: A very notable aversion. Not only is the sole black character not the first (or even the second) person to die in the story no matter what you do, but he is also guaranteed to live until the very end of the third chapter. This takes itself even further when you realize the Anachronic Order of each chapter's events ends up placing the ending of his chapter near the tail-end of the story's timeline, meaning he technically survives for most of the story no matter what choices you make. Not bad for the most timid and non-violent character in the entire narrative.
    • The other two minorities of the main cast (a Filipino girl and a Japanese man) are also not the first to die no matter what your choices are, so this work manages to avoid subversions as well.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Isabella's mother mentions looking at her profile page at Facenook.
    • The characters frequently visit a coffee shop called "Czarsbucks".
    • Rebecca is mentioned to have played a lot of Nancy Blue games as a child.
    • Marianne has a lucky d20 from her Druids & Demons campaigns.
  • Bloody Horror: The ghost can make the Ermengarde Mansion appear as one.
  • Body Horror: While mainly just the ghost, the CGs that show what happens when said ghost gets its hands on the main characters aren't pretty.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Luke and Hannah have one over the course of the game. How it goes is based on your choices.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: A potential ending is having Isabella, Rebecca, Ash, and Zach survive the game but destroy their individual relationships except for Zach and Rebecca so they stop hanging out. Though the potential to make up is hinted.
  • Brutal Honesty: Almost everyone has at least one moment of this, either as a guaranteed piece of dialogue or as one of the many negative dialogue choices you're allowed to pick for them in conversations. This is almost never Played for Laughs though; most of the cast does not take blunt criticism well, and you will almost always hurt your current character's relationship with them by running with these options when they're presented.
  • Bury Your Gays: In the True End, all LGBT characters die.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one else believes that Isabella saw a ghost in the Ermengarde Mansion, until later on.
  • Chain Letter: The eponymous letter. Subverted. The letter was originally just a call for help until a group of young pranksters added the chain clause.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Rebecca has a crush on her childhood friend, Ashton. Ash can reciprocate if Rebecca and Ash's relationship value is high enough.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each of the main characters is associated with a color.
    • Pink: Isabella and Rebecca. Isabella for her blazer and Rebecca for her hair.
    • White: Hannah and Luke for the white clothes they wear.
    • Green: Zach due to his shirt.
    • Black: Marieanne due to her hair and pants.
    • Red: Ash due to his shirt.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The titular letter is written in blood, and when someone is killed because of the curse, bloody messages appear on the walls near them.
  • Creepy Changing Painting:
    • In her chapter, Hannah sees a creepy painting of the ghost during a tour of the mansion. When she points it out to the other characters, the painting changes to a normal mirror.
    • Another example can be encountered during Rebecca's chapter if Isabella ended up in a coma.
  • Creepy Child: Kylie becomes a textbook example of this whenever she's being possessed by the ghost.
  • Creepy Doll: What Luke thinks of Kylie's doll Narcisa.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Every character with an unnatural hair color has eyes to match.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Since the player can mend or break relationships it's possible for the main characters to be rejected by their love interest.
  • Dirty Cop: Harvey Lee, the Chief Inspector of the Luxbourne Police is hinted to be one in Ash's chapter and is confirmed in Luke's chapter.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • Isabella hits Ashton when she becomes too annoyed with him, which is Played for Laughs.
    • The player can invoke this by having Rebecca not apologize to Luke after she assaults him at the café.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Completely averted in the Kill 'Em All ending. When Luke finds himself trapped inside the mansion and the ghost rapes him, the game pulls no punches in showing what a genuinely horrific experience it is.
  • Driven to Suicide: The prologue narration states that the last person who lived in the Ermengarde Mansion, Charlotte Ermengarde, committed suicide. Later on in the game it gets heavily implied she did this as a result of being ceaselessly haunted by the ghost and subsequently driven to despair.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: In order to trigger certain character deaths or ruin certain relationships, you have to deliberately choose options that are cowardly, impulsive or very clearly offensive. Surprisingly, this also applies to the True Ending, which is not an Everybody Lives ending and requires you to deliberately trigger the deaths of Hannah, Marianne and Ashton before sending Luke off for a Heroic Sacrifice. And this is after you unlock the Memory Fragments that are triggered by every individual character's death.
  • Everybody Lives: It's possible to achieve a Golden Ending where all the main characters survive, though their exact fates depend on their Relationship Values. The curse is broken, at least for a good long while, and with the exception of The Stinger, nothing ominous ever happens again. However, this is not the true ending of the VN.
  • Eye Scream: Some of the deaths involve this.
  • Fictional Province: The Luxbourne area is fictional. However, characters do refer to real-world locations.
  • First-Episode Twist: Near the end of Isabella's chapter, Rose dies.
  • Foil: While Ash and Luke are on the opposite sides of the law, they are very alike, something Luke notes in his route. Their families were broken as children, they are filled with self-hatred and regrets, jaded by their dealings with the dark side of the world, over cautious and secretive by nature and their respective love interests at the start of the game are cheery and kind, but this makes their differences more apparent. Ash is a cop, who was able to find parental substitutes in Andrew and his wife, is filled with regret over his failures, is cynical with the world as he's seen its darker side because of his work, has friends that he truly trusts and Cannot Spit It Out to Isabella. Luke is a businessman that regularly dabbles in criminal activities, never received any parental affection after his mother passed away early, knows exactly what kind of person he is and is disgusted by it while also fearing just how horrible he can be, is paranoid about everything and is married to Hannah.
  • Food Porn: This game features nice pictures of pancakes, cakes and many other dishes, often accompanied by descriptions of said dishes.
  • Foreshadowing: The intro cinematic shows the letter without the send-this-to-five-people clause, hinting that it was added later. It also shows glimpses of the potential fates of a few characters, such as Zach and Rebecca’s deaths, Isabella’s car accident and Hannah’s possession.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The main four protagonists' roles in this are very clearly defined.
    • The Cynic: Ashton
    • The Optimist: Isabella note 
    • The Realist: Rebecca
    • The Conflicted: Zachary
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Much like the above, all four members of the main group fit neatly into each category.
    • Sanguine: Isabella
    • Choleric: Rebecca
    • Melancholic: Ashton
    • Phlegmatic: Zachary
  • Gay Option: Hannah and Marianne can have a romantic relationship.
  • Gentle Giant: Zachary is the biggest character in the novel by far. He's also a complete softie and just about everybody knows it.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Filling out the branching tree completely. Some of the tree's nodes require multiple specific conditions to unlock.
    • Getting the True Ending, particularly since it differs from the Everybody Lives ending, in that certain characters have to die.
    • Some character relationships, since some choices can affect the relationship between characters that the player is not currently playing.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Luke Wright is a pompous, rich, racist, and overall unpleasant Jerkass who abuses his butler, constantly insults everyone around him, is suspected to be responsible for many crimes, and is Ashton's Arch-Enemy. Depending on the route, he can also kill his own wife and confess to killing her father in cold blood, then pin it on Zack while going on a racist tirade against him. This changes when his chapter reveals his Hidden Depths.
    • Lady Charlotte Ermengarde is revealed to have been a deplorable noble pretending to be a saintly woman. Freeing the girl Takako from slavery, she proceeds to ruin Takako's life for discovering her infidelity, eventually killing her cat, Eduard, and Takako herself. Her death due to being haunted by Takako's spirit is completely well-deserved, and even then, her reign of terror continues as she fuses with Takako's ghost, and becomes a supernatural Serial Killer who sadistically torments the protagonists.
  • Haunted House: The Ermengarde Mansion, which has been unoccupied for several centuries due to its reputation despite having otherwise wealthy owners.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Isabella's friends are made up of two sets, Ash and Zach and Isabella and Rebecca.
  • Human Sacrifice: Should Zachary meet up with Professor Andrew in his chapter, the professor brings this up. He says that one way to break the curse would possibly be to offer up something or someone as a sacrifice to the ghost. In most endings, this idea is promptly shot down the moment Zachary brings it up, but the true ending plays it straight, as Luke decides to sacrifice himself as atonement for murdering Hannah and dooming her and their unborn children to the curse.
  • Hypocrite: A lot of the characters have varying shades of this. Some are made this way depending on the routes you take as them, but others have their moments regardless.
    • One of the fundamental flaws of Isabella and Rebecca's dynamic with each other is that they're both quick to point out the splinter in the other's eye while ignoring the log in their own. They both have many moments of being stubborn, bossy, easily annoyed and even petty and childish whenever the other one gets on their nerves, and they both really don't like this about each other.
      • Rebecca is arguably the worse of the two in this regard. If you decide to have Isabella make more mature or levelheaded choices during her chapter, at least one instance where Rebecca is involved will actually lower their shared relationship value. The reason? Rebecca expects Isabella to be unable to let the situation go (and actually bemoans her history of this a little in her internal monologue), and the latter taking the high road instead manages to confuse and infuriate her further to the point that she herself is unable to let it go.
    • After Hannah spends quite a bit of her chapter complaining about men who constantly hit on her and make her uncomfortable, she ends up doing exactly that with Zachary, and even has the option to keep doing it after he asks her to stop. However, actually going through with that choice leads to her recognizing and regretting her behavior after he calls her out on it, so she's not as straight an example as some of the others are.
    • Marianne telling people to let their pasts stay in the past might seem like this since she clearly hasn't done that and, in the route that leads to the True Ending, never does. However, its made clear in the end that this is just a front that she puts up.
    • Ashton has a problem with not telling people the full details of a given situation and expecting them to trust his word, despite frequently pressing people into spilling everything they can whenever the scenario is reversed. His expectations of Isabella in particular are especially high, considering he has a lot of things he hasn't worked up the courage to tell her yet.
    • Luke has a master's degree in being this, which shouldn't surprise anyone considering what kind of a person he is.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: One character can eat a "yummy" pie. The possessed Hannah made the pie either from a cat or with human intestines.
  • Identical Stranger: Luke and Hannah look very similar to the last owners of the Ermengarde mansion, Charlotte Ermengarde and her fiance, Eduard Godfrey. Turns out to be a plot point as Luke's similarity leads the ghost to grow obsessed with him.
  • Idiot Ball: While not as bad about this as some other works in this genre, plenty of characters still pass this around from time to time. The non-linear storytelling only serves to highlight these moments when they happen.
    • Rebecca sees the ghost for herself while driving Isabella home and writes it off as a side-effect of her flu once it disappears, all so that the story can continue on with her not believing the latter's claims of what she saw beforehand. It gets worse when you realize this event happens a short time after the two get done arguing about the matter.
    • After Rose is found dead in her home with the words "Help me" written all over her wall, almost no one who saw both the letter and the news report on Rose's death manages to make a connection between the two.
    • Marianne doesn't start catching on to a single thing regarding the ghost until it's nearly the end of her chapter. Even if you've had Zach show her and Hannah the supernaturally-distorted pictures in his chapter, the memory of the event is never recalled once the ghost starts showing up in hers.
    • Most of the characters' potential deaths require you to have them make stupid or thoughtless choices at key moments in their respective chapters, regardless of how smart or perceptive they've been up to that point. Especially egregious with Marianne, whose death scene requires her to A. believe that her long-dead schoolmate/former crush is still alive exactly as she remembers her from many years ago, and B. agree to stay with said schoolmate forever.
  • Immaturity Insult: Rebecca frequently belittles and chastises Isabella for acting like a child and not being very mature most of the time, especially if their relationship is allowed to deteriorate over the course of the narrative.
  • In-Series Nickname: Nearly every single main character has one with Hannah being the only exception.
  • Interface Spoiler: There's a relationship chart you can look at any time you want to examine where you currently stand with the other characters. This not only allows you to gleam who all of the playable characters are before you meet them, but also take an estimated guess on who will likely die no matter what the player does; Rose is noticeably not listed in the relationship chart, in spite of her screentime in Isabella's chapter.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The Letter doesn't exactly have the most original plot ever, being heavily inspired by Japanese horror media and all, and the game lampshades this several times via different characters.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice:
    • In each of the routes, a single choice near the end will determine whether or not the character lives or dies. It’s not always obvious, though, and Hannah’s route in particular has a few more wrinkles and outcomes.
    • Depending on who is alive at the end, Luke might have the choice of burning the mansion or the letter which will lead to slightly different endings.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Due to not having varying sprites, the characters always wear the same clothes. In one egregious scene, Isabella is supposed to be in her pajamas, but her portrait still shows her in her regular outfit.
  • Love Triangle:
    • There can be one between Isabella, Rebecca, and Ashton. Which girl ends up with Ashton, if either, depends on how the player built their relationships earlier.
    • Alternatively, Hannah, Marianne, and Rebecca can have one between Luke.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: A strange example. At the beginning of Ashton's chapter when he sees the ghost for the first time, he rules out his wine as being the cause not because it isn't actually supposed to do that, but because he hasn't actually drank any of it yet.
  • Maybe Ever After: Luke's romance endings with Marianne and Rebecca. In both of them, the narration states that the two are good friends, but only time will tell whether or not they'll become a couple.
  • Misery Builds Character: In the True End, the surviving characters make works of art spurred on the events of the game, including the death of Ash. Zach makes a movie about his experiences, Rebecca writes a book about Charlotte's life and Isabella becomes a painter famous for her dark themes.
  • Modular Epilogue: The epilogue goes over each character's fate, depending on what the player did as them.
  • Morton's Fork: In most routes of the game, Luke is given one near the end of his chapter. Luke can heed Isabella's advice and burn the entire mansion down, or decide to just burn the letter instead. Both choices lead to the good ending and epilogue, though torching the mansion does give you an extra scene where the ghost gives Luke a forlorn farewell.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Isabella and her friends sometimes recall Isabella's first sale at Devlin Court which apparently involved a dead body stuffed into a sofa.
    • The secret outings between Ash and Zach where the former asks the latter to "help him with something". Isabella notes how it's something only they know about, and Zach vaguely mentions the "last time" he ended up covered in chicken down and insisted it "was that bad" after Ash scoffs it off as the opposite.
    • Ash and Zach's first meeting is never really explained in detail. All we know is Zach was in the wrong place at the wrong time which led to Zach punching Ash, Zach being sent to jail for a short period of time and Ash later clearing Zach of the charges.
  • No Romantic Resolution: In the true ending, it is impossible to successfully complete a romance arc, since all the surviving characters end up losing their potential love interests to the curse.
  • One Degree of Separation: Isabella, Rebecca, Ash and Zach are friends and Isabella meets Marianne, Hannah and Luke at the open house of the Ermengarde Mansion. Zach then meets Hannah later as the photographer for a home magazine about their new house and later meets Kylie, who is Luke's goddaughter, Rebecca's student and friends with Takako, the ghost! Hannah realizes that Rebecca is a childhood acquaintance. Finally, Luke turns out to be the person Ash is currently investigating as he caused Professor Andrew's, Ash's mentor, wife's death.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: The game has a few of these. One such encounter is early on in Marianne's chapter, where Luke follows Marianne home after meeting in a pub.
  • Palette Swap:
    • When Ashton visits the bar, he notices how similar Bartender G looks to Chief Inspector Lee. Both characters use the same sprite with some minor changes. They even share the same voice actor!
    • Father Norman also has a similar sprite and shares the same voice actor too.
  • Plot Threads: Each chapter follows the character it is named after and they have a tendency of intersecting with other character's chapters.
  • Precision F-Strike: Everyone gets to deliver at least one of these in their respective chapters.
    • Hannah unleashes one on Luke in one version of the housewarming party.
    • Rebecca tosses out several isolated ones during her chapter, especially if you choose her negative dialogue options and double-especially if you've been progressively worsening everyone's relationships with her.
    • Marianne manages to avoid these for a while, but eventually starts handing them out once she's completely hammered at the bar.
    • Ashton drops a real gem of one when the ghost starts coming after him in the parking garage to Isabella's workplace.
    Ashton: This isn't in my fucking training manual!
  • Press X to Not Die: The game has these, though, thankfully, the player can retry them without having to load an earlier save. They're also skippable.
  • Put on a Bus: After Rose dies in the first chapter, choosing for Isabella to skip work and then attempt to meet with Rebecca results in this, as she will be comatose for what is effectively the entire story and any further dialogue options involving her will be null and void. On the other hand, choosing for her to stay home from work and then avoid Rebecca results in her being put in the morgue.
  • Relationship Values: All of the playable characters have relationship values with each other, which will change over time depending on the player's choices. Character relationships will affect the epilogue as well as some story branching.
  • Room Full of Crazy: All of the ghost's victims use their blood to write "Help Me" multiple times throughout the room.
  • Scary Black Man: Zachary is the exact opposite. Even Isabella has the potential to be scarier than him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Luke can do this if he refuses to sacrifice himself shortly before the true end.
  • Spooky Photographs: One of the photos that Zach takes of Hannah ends up being this, due to the ghost's presence. Trying to make another copy of it doesn't help.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: The Letter is generally good at averting this, especially for how extensive the branching tree is, but there are still some examples.
    • Prof. Andrew Clark gives some useful exposition on the supernatural, but he only appears in Isabella's and Zachary's chapters on certain routes. Zach's meeting with him is also required for the True Ending.
    • Marianne's chapter explains more of her backstory with Lorraine if she pursues Hannah, particularly if she goes up to the first floor of the mansion instead of staying on the ground floor.
    • Luke's chapter ends a bit abruptly if he only burns the letter. In the True Ending, this isn't even an option. Once triggered, Luke will either trap the others inside the house with the ghost or Luke will burn the mansion down and sacrifice himself to the ghost.
  • Story Branching: While the game never permanently diverges into different routes, a lot of scenes and dialogue are exclusive to certain player decisions.
  • The Stinger: Happens after any ending where Luke is alive and has the potential to romance someone. In it, Kylie screams in terror that the ghost is still here and after her, before her neck gets snapped. The Doylist explanation for this, of course, is the game teasing the True Ending for you. The Watsonian explanation is left completely up to the player's interpretation; whether the ghost returned to haunt everyone, whether it murdered Kylie in a final act of spite, or whether it was simply another bad dream.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Yeah.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The pranksters that added the "send to 5 people" part planned to give the letter to some of their classmates to scare them.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: Can happen in Hannah's chapter.
  • Token Minority: Despite the story using this as part of the narrative a few different times, the fact does remain that Zachary is the only named black character in the entire novel.
    • Subverted with Ashton, who is (a bit surprisingly) the only Japanese protagonist in the story, but is joined by one of Marianne's colleagues and potentially the ghost otherwise. It's subverted rather than averted because the former only gets one scene and the latter is never actually confirmed to be Japanese, only implied.
  • Torture Cellar: Marianne can find one in her chapter. It's connected to the wine cellar of the Ermengarde Mansion. She also gets trapped in it if she survives her chapter.
  • True Companions: Isabella, Rebecca, Zach and Ash are this. If Isabella dies in chapter one, they are heartbroken.
  • Tsundere: Rebecca is halfway between a classic case and a modern one, leaning more towards the former as the story goes on.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Much like a few other visual novels of this type, you have the ability to ruin every single main character's lives and relationships as much as you feel like, and can even have each and every one of them die in various distressing ways if you so desire. The story does everything it possibly can to make you feel bad about doing it, though.
  • Wham Line: In Ashton's chapter, if Isabella is still alive, we learn something major about Isabella when Seb the security guard says of Isabella's boss, "The least he could do is be considerate to her, after a family member's passing."
  • What Does She See in Him?: A lot of characters wonder why Hannah married Luke.
  • Where da White Women At?: Downplayed. Hannah and Zach can be in a romantic relationship, but it's mainly just Luke who has a problem with it. It's also the only possible romance for Zach.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust:
    • If Hannah has a bad enough relationship with Luke he will flat out murder her at the end of her route. Surprisingly Inverted later, as this is required for the true ending.
    • In a similar (and less subtle) way, not going to work and avoiding your friends at the end of Isabella’s route will get her killed.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Averted for most characters who have very realistic hues, but in the cases that do fit the trope (pink for Rebecca, green for Rose Cooper, and blue for Kylie) nobody comments on it being unusual.


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