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Saruman and the Three Rings (of the Elves)
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Eärwen of Mithlond
The Shire


Dec 14 2012, 6:56am

Post #1 of 26 (1099 views)
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Saruman and the Three Rings (of the Elves) Can't Post

While re-reading "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" tonight a thought hit me which I can't believe never occurred to me before. Around the time of the White Council's assault on Dol Guldur when they drive Sauron out, did Saruman know who had the Three? From the way that the descriptions of Saruman in this chapter hit me just now, my guess is that he did, and that motivation to control the Three (held by other members of the Council!) was part of the drive for power in wanting to find the One. Thoughts? Any specific points from Lord of the Rings or other writings on how the Three interacted with each other or the One would be helpful, thanks!

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Hobbies: Swimming, long walks on the shore


PhantomS
Rohan


Dec 15 2012, 12:36am

Post #2 of 26 (452 views)
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Saruman the White Hanky [In reply to] Can't Post

the mystery of the Three is that no one knew who had them apart from the ring-bearers themselves, even though people guessed it was those three. It made sense that Lothlorien, Rivendell and Mithlond would be secure against Sauron, simply because their rulers were powerful in their own right- the best disguise for the Three Rings. Even Gandalf didn't show any hint of wearing the ring until the very end. You'd think Saruman would take Narya if he knew about it, but he didn't. I guess he figured himself a Ring-Maker and above the Elvish Three Rings, hence he didn't bother looking for them.

He would know about the Three and decide that they wouldn't give him any power, so even if he knows he won't bother to look for them.


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 15 2012, 6:58pm

Post #3 of 26 (362 views)
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Oh, he knew [In reply to] Can't Post

There's no way of knowing if he was 100% sure, but close enough. In "Many Partings" in LOTR, when Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf (and others) overtake him in Dunland where he's a beggar in the wild, there's this passage:

Quote

For a moment his eyes kindled. "Go!" he said. "I did not spend long study on these matters for naught. You have doomed yourselves, and you know it. And it will afford me some comfort as I wander to think that you pulled down your own house when you destroyed mine."

I interpret that as: "You ruined your Three Rings when you destroyed the One, so hahahaha."

At the Council of Elrond, after Gandalf reveals Saruman's treachery, Elrond says: "This is grievous news concerning Saruman...for we trusted him and he is deep in all our counsels." He was head of the White Council, and led the effort to expel the Necromancer from Dol Guldur through magical means that are never detailed. Wouldn't that role have entailed him knowing who had the Three, either by accidental revelation or direct confiding in him?

The chapter you cite in The Silmarillion is a little contradictory in the same paragraph, saying:

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Of the Three Rings...no open word was ever spoken among the Wise, and few even of the Eldar knew where they were bestowed.

Okay, so we have a vow of silence and "few" knew where they were. Then:

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Therefore ere the Third Age was ended the Elves perceived that the Ring of Sapphire was with Elrond [etc]"

So now it's "the Elves" who know where they are. How many knew? The wisest among them, maybe 1%? Lots of them? It's hard to say, but it's clear there are good guessers among them. Why wouldn't Saruman be just as good at guessing, if not more so, since he was the #1 expert on ring lore and would be more likely to discern the telltale signs of rings of power?


Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 15 2012, 11:28pm

Post #4 of 26 (326 views)
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"You ruined your Three Rings..." [In reply to] Can't Post

I've often wondered about that. Much is made of the fact that Celebrimbor forged the Three on his own, in secret, and they were never contaminated by Sauron. How, then, did their powers depend upon the One?






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Felagund
Lorien


Dec 16 2012, 12:35am

Post #5 of 26 (449 views)
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One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to bind them [In reply to] Can't Post

In creating the One Ring, Sauron irrevocably bound all of the other Rings of Power to the One. That's why he had to spend so much of his native power on the process. The best explanation is in The Silmarillion:

"...but secretly Sauron made One Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should last. And much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into that One Ring; for the power of the Elven-rings was very great, and that which should govern them must be a thing of surpassing potency..." ["Of the Rings of Powerr and the Third Age"]

A bit like Morgoth - in order to control the very matter of Arda he had to pour a vast amount of his own personal power into the endeavour. Plenty more on that in the "Myths Transformed" chapter of HoMe X: Morgoth's Ring.

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Elizabeth
Valinor


Dec 16 2012, 3:42am

Post #6 of 26 (330 views)
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Then... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in what way could it be said that they were not tainted by Sauron? I understood that passage to refer to the Rings of Men and Dwarves, which Sauron also made.

So long as the One has been lost, the Three have been in use. Ok, I assume, because no one is claiming ownership. But, wait: Gollum claimed ownership for a while. Was that not a problem because Gollum didn't know about the others or attempt to control them?

And, Elrond and Galadriel were apparently using theirs to protect their lands from decay, and once the One was destroyed that protection was lost. But what protected them before Celebrimbor made the Three? Why do things not revert to that status?






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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 16 2012, 4:53am

Post #7 of 26 (344 views)
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Apparently there's a flaw inherent in Ring-of-Power making. [In reply to] Can't Post

And Sauron figured out how to exploit this flaw.

(I picked up this insight in the RR about eight years ago; let me see if I can find the source to credit.)

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 16 2012, 5:33am

Post #8 of 26 (459 views)
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It was Smallbottle in Jan. 2004. [In reply to] Can't Post

A Ring Primer

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Felagund
Lorien


Dec 16 2012, 4:48pm

Post #9 of 26 (299 views)
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golden flaw [In reply to] Can't Post

Good memory NE Brigand - the Ring Primer is great!

As well as the flaw in the very creation of the Three Rings (an Elvish transgression elaborated on in Tolkien's Letters 131 & 181), there's also a potential issue in the material used to forge those Rings or indeed the other Rings of Power. The "Myths Transformed" chapter of HoMe: Morgoth's Ring I cited earlier contains a couple of interesting quotes on the nature of gold:

"...Morgoth's power was disseminated throughout Gold."

and,

"...all gold (in Middle-earth) seems to have had an especially 'evil' trend - but not silver."

With this in mind, we perhaps shouldn't be surprised that the One Ring's base metal was gold. However, at least one of the Three Rings was gold (set with a sapphire) - Vilya, first borne by Gil-galad and later Elrond. Nenya, we learn, was made of mithril (set with an adamant / diamond) but I can't find a reference to Narya's base metal other than that it was set with a ruby. Of the other Rings of Power, the Seven are described as golden (The Sil, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"), each the foundation of seven great hoards. As for the Nine, I can't find specific references to the base metal used. At any rate, at least eight of the Rings of Power bound to the One Ring were forged of gold - a metal described by Tolkien as especially tainted by the original Shadow.

Interestingly, even though Sauron wasn't able to dominate the Dwarf-lords through the Seven Rings there is a direct connection made between their possession of those Rings and "an overmastering greed of gold... of which evil enough after came..." (The Sil, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"). The mania of Thráin in the wake of Azanulbizar, of Thorin in interlude between the death of Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies, and also the sad end the Master of Lake-town are also all linked with gold.

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 16 2012, 4:59pm

Post #10 of 26 (286 views)
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A few possibilities [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Why Sauron can control the Three even though he didn't make them: I think that even though he didn't make them specifically, they were made with the knowledge he gave to the Elves, so he had insight into their nature and how to corrupt them. Though poor Tolkien would roll over in his grave for me to bring up technology compared to the rings, I think it's fair to say that if you made the iPhone version 1, you could figure out how to bend the version 2 to your will even if you didn't make it yourself.

2. Why Gollum couldn't control the other rings: Galadriel told Frodo "Did not Gandalf tell you that the rings give power according to the measure of each possessor? Before you could use that power you would need to become far stronger, and to train your will to the domination of others." Hence Gollum wasn't strong enough to control the others, and nasty as he was, he didn't try to control other beings, he either killed them or hid from them. She also says: "Only thrice have you set the Ring upon your finger since you knew what you possessed." That makes me think that since Gollum didn't know what he really had, he wouldn't have thought about using it to control the Three which he also didn't know about.

3. Preservation of realms: it's my impression that Rivendell and Lorien were nice places to live before the Rings of Power were made, but not necessarily special. Gandalf mentions: "There is a wholesome air about Hollin. Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves." But it was the Three which made them the sublime places that we read about, so with the failure of the rings they would revert to being a nice abode, but not that special. Another consideration is the existential decline of the Eldar and rise of Men, so that time would more rapidly erode the charm of elven lands and make them mediocre like mortal ones, hence even reverting to a previous status wasn't an option anymore.


elevorn
Lorien


Dec 17 2012, 3:24pm

Post #11 of 26 (264 views)
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was it not [In reply to] Can't Post

Sauron's teaching and instruction on how to make the rings that bound them to him power. Because he taught them how to make them, thus he was able to percieve them in their existence and bend them to his will if he could.



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telain
Rohan

Dec 17 2012, 6:07pm

Post #12 of 26 (255 views)
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my thoughts exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

As for...

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I think it's fair to say that if you made the iPhone version 1, you could figure out how to bend the version 2 to your will even if you didn't make it yourself.


I think it's a good analogy and I won't tell The Professor if you don't...

So not only did Gollum not know what he had, but neither did Bilbo when he possessed the one Ring. And since Bilbo was not really a much more powerful force than Gollum, it makes sense that he did not have control over the other Rings either (either through lack of power, lack of intent, or both.) I wonder here is lack of intent and lack of power works both ways -- since Bilbo does not use the Ring wittingly nor maliciously, he does not seem to suffer from its inherent evilness. I wonder how long he might have lasted, keeping the Ring in his possession...

With "preservation of realms", I always find Tolkien's interaction between place and people to be so, so interesting. In reference to the land changing after the three Elvish Rings were removed, I wonder if perhaps that is a legacy of Sauron's, erm, "technology". Though I am not sure that Gandalf was referring to the three Rings when he said


Quote
"There is a wholesome air about Hollin. Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves."


Here perhaps it was simply the interaction between the people and the place Tolkien was emphasizing?


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 17 2012, 6:35pm

Post #13 of 26 (322 views)
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Wholesome Hollin and Homely Houses [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, you got my meaning. I think I didn't clarify my context with that quote about Hollin being wholesome. I should have said that even without the power of rings, Hollin became a better place to live because Elves enrich every environment they call home. (We see the same can be said of northern Mirkwood with no ring involved.) So by the same token, Rivendell, Lindon, and Lorien would have been better-than-average places to live before the Three Rings were there, and they probably would have reverted to that better-than-average status, but that would be a steep letdown from their Ring-enhanced sublime atmosphere.

Additionally, the more I think about it, I think that when Galadriel said they were doomed to become "a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten," she was anticipating the rise of Men and the overall decline of the Eldar which was already happening. Lorien and Rivendell couldn't return to their pre-Ring status because of this world decline in Elvish fortunes; they were going to sink lower than they had ever been before. Only Vilya's and Nenya's powers of preservation were staving off that deterioration.


(This post was edited by CuriousG on Dec 17 2012, 6:37pm)


Eärwen of Mithlond
The Shire


Dec 18 2012, 7:01am

Post #14 of 26 (275 views)
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This definitely confirms the point [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for bringing up that part from "Many Partings" -- I think your interpretation has got to be right. Which brings me back to my thoughts about Saruman's path to corruption and desire for power.
I guess the point I am realizing now is that I never considered how long Saruman had desired power. I must not have paid enough attention to his backstory. I think until now I had just kind of assumed that when he took Gandalf captive in FOTR, he had just turned corrupt not that long before that, maybe as a result of interacting with Sauron with the palantir. And I'm realizing now how off that was. He wanted unquestioned authority over everyone ever since the White Council was formed, which he didn't get because Galadriel, who called the Council, had more respect for Gandalf. He wanted to find the One and use it to "order all the world to his will" (Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power etc") long before Sauron revealed himself as Sauron or left Dol Guldur. And so this is why I'm wondering if the politics on the White Council in any way influenced or increased his desire to find the One for himself. Did he feel that having the One was going to be the only way to assert his dominance in Middle-Earth over peers who had the Three?
This might seem too speculative, but I think it's really different about Saruman that he was not, like most people, corrupted or tempted because of the influence of the Ring. (No one offered it to him.) Rather, the seeds of corruption were already there in his desire for dominance that came from being in a place of power, which led to the desire for more power -- a cycle of corruption.
At least, this makes sense to me...

Occupation: Ship-building
Hobbies: Swimming, long walks on the shore


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 18 2012, 1:59pm

Post #15 of 26 (226 views)
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Your point makes sense to me too [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien wrote about how long Saruman desired the One Ring, and how he searched the Gladden Fields for it, and how first he thought having Sauron in Dol Guldur might "wake it up," then later it seemed better to boot out Sauron in case he found it first.

But I'm not sure if he ever explicitly wrote that Saruman knew that three other people on the White Council possessed Rings of Power, and he did not have one even as council leader, and how, given his pride, that must have gnawed away at him like a worm in his brain. I'm sure it did, and led to his downfall. Maybe Tolkien wrote about it in a letter or some personal notes, but I'd expect to find it stated openly at least in The Silmarillion, and I haven't.


telain
Rohan

Dec 18 2012, 3:15pm

Post #16 of 26 (260 views)
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going slightly off-topic... [In reply to] Can't Post

... in response to your latter point:


Quote
I think that when Galadriel said they were doomed to become "a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten," she was anticipating the rise of Men and the overall decline of the Eldar which was already happening.


I wonder, too, if this was a comment on the differences between Noldor, Sindar, and Sylvan. I don't have the information at hand, but I thought, as Tolkien wrote it, that most or all of the Noldor left in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age took the ships, and that the majority of Elves who would/did stay in Middle-earth would have been of Sylvan descent. Am I off-base, or did Tolkien also suggest that the Sylvan have been "a rustic folk of dell and cave, (or forest)" without the "organizational abilities" of their Noldor and Sindar brethren?


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 18 2012, 7:57pm

Post #17 of 26 (266 views)
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It does sound a bit haughty; and, a contradiction for Galadriel? [In reply to] Can't Post

It may be haughty of her, but I think you're right. Galadriel was probably referring to people like Thranduil's, who are noble in spirit but couldn't be counted on to create a comparable Menegroth, Alqualonde, Tirion, Gondolin, etc. Legolas led a group of Sylvan Elves to Ithilien after the war to make it a wholesome place, but it doesn't appear to be more than that: not a Lorien, Rivendell, or anything too special, just something better than mortal lands.

When I think about this some more, isn't it out of character for Galadriel to create a realm like Lorien, where the wonder mainly lies in the trees? Sure, Caras Galadhon was a nice city, but it was none of those I listed above. Instead, the greatness of the realm seemed to reside in the trees and the ambiance of the land. All that from a Noldo? When you look at what the Noldor did in Aman and Beleriand, they weren't forestry types but builders of cities and fortresses. Legolas commented that Hollin was strange in that the plant life didn't remember the Noldor who lived there, only the rocks that had been used in construction. So, why was Galadriel so green? Not that the Noldor were anti-environmentalists, it just doesn't seem like one of their preferences or strengths.


Eärwen of Mithlond
The Shire


Dec 19 2012, 5:17am

Post #18 of 26 (239 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm wandering in the realm of speculation here. : )
I just never thought about the White Council that much before... there might be some reason I started wondering about it now. ; )

Occupation: Ship-building
Hobbies: Swimming, long walks on the shore


telain
Rohan

Dec 20 2012, 1:46pm

Post #19 of 26 (223 views)
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interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely recall a certain landscape distinction between the various Elves: Noldo - mountains/wide vistas, Sindar - ocean/rivers?/water, Sylvan - forests (obviously!). So, yes, perhaps it is a bit strange for Galadriel to have created a realm in the forest. "Green" Galadriel -- I wonder how much of that was serving the needs of the majority of her people? (and perhaps a bit of reparations?) Now, come to think of it, Caras Galadhon was a city situated on a hilltop -- a compromise? So the penchant for building is there, and a bit of the preferred landscape.

The comment about the rocks remembering, but not the plant life -- I quite like your interpretation. The Noldo worked more with stone, therefore that is the material that would remember them most. I might add that perhaps rocks have longer "life"/memory and plants (especially short-lived grasses and shrubs) might more easily or quickly forget?

Fascinating stuff, this.


Cyberia
The Shire

Dec 21 2012, 12:13am

Post #20 of 26 (194 views)
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The elven rings didn't enchant the lands [In reply to] Can't Post

The elven rings didn't enchant the lands, they held at bay the corruption of the world that Morgoth injected. Thats why the elves wanted them, and that's why it's not out of character for Galadriel/Elrond....They were restoring what once was.

Also, I think this is why the Valar pardoned her when she rejected The One, because they, and she, knew that through her rejection of The One she was also rejecting her kingdom. Nenya needed The One to exist. In otherwords, she humbled herself for the sake of goodness.


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 21 2012, 1:11am

Post #21 of 26 (297 views)
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Yes, she didn't need Saruman to taunt her with her fate [In reply to] Can't Post

She knew already that Nenya was doomed and she'd lose Lorien. "I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel." Not: "I'll stay here after the One is destroyed and see what happens."


SilentLion
Rivendell

Dec 26 2012, 4:50pm

Post #22 of 26 (192 views)
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Galadriel spent most of the (post-exile) First Age in Doriath [In reply to] Can't Post

Where she fell in love with Celeborn, and was best friends with Melian.

She also lived in Eregion long enough to see that mode of livng go awry.

I think Lothlorien was modeled on Doriath more than any other realm. She was a Noldorin ruler of what was mainly a Sindarin realm.

I envision the Girdle of Melian as not so much a wall, but a soft barrier of trees working in concert to impede the progress of any enemies or strangers trying to enter Doriath. I envision the 'defenses' of Lorien being modeled after this kind of 'craft' which Galadriel learned from Melian. It was a superb defense which could only be overcome by treachery within (in the case of Doriath), or an immensely powerful external force (such as Morgoth or Sauron himself).

That's how I envision it. Others may see it differently but I don't see it at all unusual that Galadriel ordered Lorien the way she did, given who her mentors were.


Nerven
Rivendell

Dec 26 2012, 5:41pm

Post #23 of 26 (163 views)
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I [In reply to] Can't Post

 never thought it is strange that Galadriel chose Lorien as her realm. I always got the feeling that Galadriel was very attached to nature, more than the other Noldor. One can see it in her grieve in that passage

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"I grieve in Middle-earth, for leaves fall and flowers fade; and my heart yearns, remembering trees and grass that do not die. I would have these in my home."

It seems to me that she loves nature very much and prefers that to living in a castle.
Isn´t there soemwhere a quote in which she often would walk beneath the trees of some region of Doriath? I think that is an influence of Yavanna, teh same influence one can see in her likening for Dwarwes, for she was also a pupil of Aule but I get the feeling that she was "closer" to Yavanna.


Cyberia
The Shire

Dec 27 2012, 12:32am

Post #24 of 26 (205 views)
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The defense of Lorien [In reply to] Can't Post

Isn't there some line about how Galadriel could (for the moment) keep Sauron from even finding Lorien? Something like the Eye would slide off and not be able to focus on Lorien. He knew generally where it was but not specifically, and could not spy on the land or the people within.


Nerven
Rivendell

Dec 27 2012, 1:10pm

Post #25 of 26 (170 views)
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That [In reply to] Can't Post

is the quote I think you are referring to:


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Three times Lórien had been assailed from Dol Guldur. but besides the valour of the elven people of that land. the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself. Though grievous harm was done to the fair woods on the borders, the assaults were driven back; and when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cle


Nothing besindes Sauron in person could have destroyed Lorien.

Sauron knew very well where Lorien was, he always tried to see Galadriels thoughts, but he wasn´t able to, while Galadriel was able to read some parts of Saurons mind.

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