|"I was protecting you from the shame I brought on the family."|
|— Tonraq explaining the reason for his secrecy to Korra.|
Tonraq is a powerful waterbending master and chief of the Southern Water Tribe. Born as heir to the chief of the Water Tribes, he is the older brother of Unalaq. Growing up in the Northern Water Tribe, Tonraq served as the Northern military's general in his youth, though was banished and disinherited following the destruction of a sacred spiritual forest at his hands. He moved to the Southern Water Tribe, where he became the tribe's unofficial leader and married Senna, with whom he has one daughter, Avatar Korra.
For many years, Tonraq lived in peace with his family, but when the tensions between the Northern and Southern Tribe escalated into open civil war, he discovered Unalaq's secret scheme that had caused his banishment. After this revelation, he took on the leadership of the Southern Water Tribe rebels in order to fight his younger brother and the Northern army. After Unalaq's death, the South gained independence from the North and the Council of Elders officially appointed Tonraq as the first Southern chief in history.
Tonraq was born in the Northern Water Tribe to the chief of the Water Tribes and he later became the older brother of Unalaq. As the chief's firstborn, Tonraq was next in line to become chief of the tribe. He grew up to be a powerful waterbending master and became the general of the Northern troops.
In 151 AG, Tonraq was alerted by his younger brother that the tribe was under attack by marauding barbarians, and he immediately led his warriors into battle, chasing the invaders out of the city and into an isolated forest. The barbarians believed that they would not be attacked on what many perceived to be holy ground, but Tonraq ordered his troops to attack anyway. They managed to capture the barbarians, though had destroyed the forest in the process, and by doing so, unknowingly set loose angry spirits. That night, Tonraq awoke to the sounds of the city being attacked by the vengeful spirits. He immediately sprung to action, though his waterbending proved to be futile against the hostile entities. Although Unalaq managed to calm the spirits down and guided them back to the forest, Tonraq was banished from the North by the chief, his father, as he was the cause of much destruction. His birthright as heir to the throne was revoked and passed to Unalaq. Tonraq set sail for the Southern Water Tribe in order to start a new life. There, he met his eventual wife, Senna. Two years later, he became the father of the next Avatar, Korra.
After his daughter was born in 153 AG, Unalaq came to see Tonraq, asking for his permission to train Korra in the spiritual ways of the Water Tribe. However, Tonraq refused and continued to refuse his brother's proposition for many years.
Four years later, Tonraq called out to the Order of the White Lotus, alerting them that his daughter was the new Avatar. On a stormy night, he welcomed a delegation of three White Lotus members into his home, and he watched proudly how his daughter displayed her waterbending, earthbending, and firebending abilities. Sometime after this, Zaheer, P'Li, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua attempted to kidnap Korra, but Tonraq, along with Tenzin, Chief Sokka, and Fire Lord Zuko, stopped the criminals and placed them in special prisons designed to neutralize their bending. In response to the group's attempt, Tonraq and Tenzin decided to keep Korra isolated in a compound in the Southern Water Tribe for her own safety, so she could focus completely on mastering the bending arts.
Spectating one of Korra's early waterbending training sessions with Katara, Tonraq grew alarmed when he saw his daughter accidentally bury Katara again under a pile of snow. While Senna helped the elder back to her feet, Tonraq explained to Korra that the move she demonstrated was too rough and could have potentially injured Katara. Before the training could resume, however, Tonraq noticed an approaching storm and decided to end the session prematurely, much to Korra's disappointment.
Later that evening, the wind carried the distinctive howling of polar bear dogs across the frozen tundra, prompting Tonraq to surmise there must be a pack nearby. As Korra howled back, intending to play with the animals, he told her that polar bear dogs were not to be played with as they were wild creatures capable of devouring her in a single bite.
Waking up the next morning to Korra's empty bed, Tonraq, Senna, and Katara searched for Korra. When Senna spotted a crudely bent igloo, Tonraq ripped it open with his own bending to discover his daughter safe and sound asleep, curled up with a polar bear pup. Relieved to have found Korra, he quickly became at a loss for what to do and deferred to his wife at the same moment Senna deferred to him when Korra announced her desire to keep the animal whom she had named Naga. Both parents were convinced by Katara to let the youngster bring the animal home, noting that every Avatar had had an animal guide and that raising Naga may be exactly what the high-energy Avatar needed.
Several months later, Tonraq, together with his wife and several of Korra's friends and allies, was present at the Southern Water Tribe compound when Katara attempted to remove Amon's bloodbending block from Korra and reconnect her to the elements. Katara's failure to do so left him distraught, though after the spirit of Avatar Aang restored her connection to her bending abilities, he watched proudly as Korra restored Lin Beifong's earthbending at the Avatar Temple.
The Glacier Spirits Festival
Six months later, Tonraq saw his daughter again when she and her friends returned to the South Pole for the Glacier Spirits Festival. When reintroduced to Mako, Tonraq sternly asked if he was keeping his daughter out of trouble before changing his mood at the behest of Korra. Much to Tonraq's chagrin, Unalaq and his twin children had also arrived for the festival. Despite his wife's assurances that his brother would soon be gone again, Tonraq maintained a tense attitude toward the Chief of the North.
Immediately afterward, Tonraq took a walk with Korra, his brother, and Tenzin throughout the festival grounds. As Unalaq began criticizing the lack of spirituality during the festival, Tonraq stated that traditions change, and that it was not the end of the world, though his brother refuted the claim by reminding him that sailors have been attacked by angry spirits on their ships. When Unalaq offered to teach Korra the spiritual ways of their people, Tonraq interrupted him by emphasizing that Tenzin was his daughter's mentor. Although Unalaq dropped the conversation, he picked it up again later at the banquet, prompting Tonraq to once again oppose the idea. This time, Unalaq revealed that it had been Tonraq and Tenzin's decision to keep Korra secluded at the Southern Water Tribe. As Korra mused that she had been under the impression it have been Aang's decision, Tonraq informed her that he had done what he thought was best for her, although Korra was not happy with his explanation. As Unalaq went on a few moments later with a speech about the festival, Tonraq glared in annoyance at his brother upon hearing the Chief of the North label the festival a cheap carnival in celebration of greedy and trivial humans.
That night, Tonraq was roused from his sleep by Naga's howling and the sounds of people battling. He rushed out of his house to find a dark spirit assaulting Korra. He immediately came to her assistance, encasing the spirit in ice. However, the icy prison proved to be insufficient to hold the entity, as the spirit broke though and flailed its tendrils, sweeping Tonraq aside; he landed roughly against the side of a house. After Unalaq had used his spiritbending to help the spirit depart in peace, Tonraq rushed to his daughter's side. However, when he got into another argument with his brother about who would teach Korra, he was promptly silenced by his daughter, who was fed up with him telling her what to do and whom to train with.
Journey to the center of the South Pole
Sometime later, Tonraq caught wind of Unalaq's plan to take Korra to the center of the South Pole, and he insisted on accompanying them. Unalaq tried refusing him, stating him to be a distraction to Korra and a hindrance to what needed to be done, though Tonraq roughly argued that since their destination meant traversing the Everstorm, he would accompany them in order to protect Korra. He was chided by his brother for being misguided, as it were men like him who had put the Spirit World out of balance. He dismissed Unalaq again, and reaffirmed that he was joining the expedition, challenging Unalaq to try and stop him. However, before the argument could get completely out of hand, the tense stare-down between the brothers was interrupted by Bolin. He received permission from Korra to accompany them, under the condition that he did not interfere at all with her training.
As the party ventured further into the frozen tundra of the south, they noticed that they were being followed by dark spirits. In order to avoid a conflict, Tonraq instructed everyone to keep moving, so that they could find a safe place to set up camp for the night. While sitting by the campfire before a cave that would shelter them from the harsh weather, Unalaq told everyone that the spirits were angry because Tonraq was with them, and as such, Tonraq was forced to reveal his past to his daughter, something he had kept hidden from her all that time. The revelation angered Korra, and Tonraq's pleas for understanding, that he only did so in order to protect her from the shame he had brought to the family, fell into deaf ears.
As they moved on to their destination, Tonraq tried to make amends with his daughter. He emphasized that she had every right to be angry with him, but also that he was only trying to protect her from making the same mistakes as him, admitting that he never should have entered the sacred forest twenty years prior. He stated that they thus should not go to South Pole now, as it was his belief that the spirits and the physical world should remain separate. When Korra reminded him that, as the Avatar, she was the bridge between both worlds, Tonraq insisted that she did not even know Unalaq was telling the truth. The argument was interrupted when Unalaq backed up his story by pointing out the absence of the southern lights.
When they arrived to the Everstorm, the party was ambushed by dark spirits. Noticing a spirit charging at Korra, Tonraq used his bending to move his daughter to safety and attack the charging entity, though he was easily brushed aside. After Unalaq had driven off the spirits, it became apparent that the team's supplies and equipment had been destroyed. Tonraq insisted they turned back, stating it had become too dangerous to keep pressing forward. However, when he firmly said that they were leaving, Korra coldly interjected, telling that he was the only one who would be leaving. After Mako ensured him that he would keep an eye on Korra, Tonraq reluctantly complied with his daughter's wish. As he was riding back home, the sky suddenly lit up with the southern lights, and he stopped to gaze at the spectacle, smiling proudly at the success of his daughter.
After seeing the fleet of Northern Water Tribe vessels, Tonraq called a meeting at his home to discuss what was happening and what the Southern Water Tribe should do. After seeing his daughter angered by Varrick's idea to go to war, he told her that Unalaq was the one who started the tensions, though he asked Korra nonetheless to go talk to her uncle and mediate at their behalf. After she left, Tonraq was approached by Varrick, who stated that the South should prepare for war.
Later that day, Tonraq broke up a fight between Northern and Southern waterbenders, coming to his daughter's aid as she had been unable to do so. He sternly told the Southerners to return to their houses, as the Northern Water Tribe soldiers were not worth their trouble. Since the tensions were still high between him and his daughter, Tonraq attempted to strike a conversation with her, though she left, despite him calling after her.
At some point during the day, Tonraq was approached by angered Southerners who wanted to start a rebellion to expel the Northern troops and their chief. However, Tonraq decided against joining their cause, as he would not rise against his brother.
The following day, when Tonraq was enjoying a meal with his wife, Korra came by their house. She happily embraced Tonraq, who lovingly held his daughter. As she expressed her relief over his absence among the rebel force, he made it clear that he was unaware of the lengths Varrick was willing to go, and continued with an apology for having held Korra back all those years, as he was very proud of the Avatar she had become. After he reconciled with Korra, the family shared a tender moment, though it was interrupted when Unalaq came in. Tonraq curtly stated that they were not expecting him, though much to his surprise, Unalaq ordered him and Senna be arrested and tried for conspiring to assassinate him.
Tonraq was placed on trial with his wife and the other captive rebels before Judge Hotah. Though Hotah ruled Senna innocent and had her released, he sentenced Tonraq and the others to death. Korra became outraged at the ruling and threatened to kill Hotah, forcing Unalaq to convince Hotah to remand the sentence to life imprisonment.
Tonraq was later visited in prison by his wife and daughter. Though Korra wanted to break him out, Tonraq advised against it, as she would be starting a war, in which the North would crush the South.
Much later, Tonraq and the other prisoners were transferred onto a prison ship bound for the North, only to be busted out by Team Avatar. Once safely on Varrick's yacht, Korra revealed that she had found out from Hotah that it was Unalaq who orchestrated the barbarians attack on the North which led to Tonraq's banishment, as well as staged the trial to get his brother out of the way. Shocked to learn of his brother's betrayal, Tonraq resolved to remain in the south to organize resistance against Unalaq, and advised Korra to appeal to the United Republic's president, Raiko, for aid from the United Forces.
Tonraq and the other rebels retreated to the surrounding mountains of the Southern Water Tribe capital city. However, after hiding there for some time, the rebels could not wait any longer for Korra's return and Tonraq guided them back to the city, intending to expel the Northern troops by themselves.
By nightfall, the rebels had successfully managed to push Unalaq's forces back, though as Tonraq commented on their achievement, Desna and Eska arrived with several dark spirits, as well as Unalaq. The reinforcements proved to be too much for the rebels and Tonraq ordered his men to fall back, before setting out alone to confront his brother in an attempt to end the war once and for all. Distracting the twins, he quickly incapacitated Unalaq's bodyguards and attempted to attack his brother, but Unalaq stopped his attack and boasted that he was no match for him. Tonraq denounced Unalaq as his brother, since he had betrayed him and had him banished, and as the true chief of the Water Tribes. A heavy battle ensued between the brothers, with Tonraq managing to dodge most of Unalaq's attacks and get within striking distance, but before he could land his blow, Unalaq struck his unprotected stomach with an ice pillar. Trapped in the ice, Tonraq received a final devastating blow that left him defeated.
Tonraq was imprisoned in a tent in a Northern encampment near the South Pole, where he was joined by his daughter and her friends, as well as by Tenzin and his sister. He apologized to Korra, believing to have failed her since he was not able to retake the Southern Water Tribe before Harmonic Convergence came around. When Unalaq announced his plan to fuse with Vaatu to become a Dark Avatar, Tonraq pleaded with his brother to reconsider for the sake of his humanity. Tonraq and the others were saved by Bumi, and a heavily wounded Tonraq was staggered to the Southern spirit portal, supported by Mako and Bolin. There, he told Korra to enter the Spirit World, while he would remain behind and fend off anyone who tried to follow her. However, his suggestion was turned down by Korra, and after sharing a hug with her and telling her he loved her, he was flown back to the compound on Oogi by Asami.
Tonraq was brought to the healing hut, where he stayed with Senna, Asami, and Katara to watch over Jinora's spiritless body. After the young airbender woke up, he happily hugged his wife upon hearing the news that their daughter was all right and had saved the world. Following Korra's return to the mortal world, Tonraq was elected by the Council of Elders as the new chief of the now independent Southern Water Tribe.
Stopping the Red Lotus
Two weeks later, Tonraq traveled to the Northern Water Tribe, where he met up with Lord Zuko. They visited the new chiefs of the North, Desna and Eska, and alerted them that they needed to check up on a secret ice prison in the western tundra. While traveling down the elevator to the bowels of the prison, Tonraq interrupted Zuko and Eska's conversation on their attempts on Avatar Aang and Korra's life, respectively in favor of their undivided focus on keeping P'Li in prison.
Tonraq stood with Desna and Eska while Zuko returned from his aerial scouting mission on Druk, his dragon. Upon asking whether or not he had seen something, Zuko pointed Tonraq in the direction of an apparent snowstorm, which the chief recognized to be Zaheer's doing. As the Red Lotus members drew near, Tonraq and his companions charged them, while vowing to the airbender to imprison him again as he had done before. The Southern chief promptly locked in battle with Zaheer, however, soon after Ming-Hua resurfaced with a freed P'Li, the combustion bender moved to attack Tonraq. He tried to protect himself from the attack with a wall of ice, though the charge exploded against the ice and he was thrown back, knocked unconscious.
Sometime later, Tonraq received word from Lin Beifong that Korra's jeep had been found abandoned outside the Misty Palms Oasis and he was implored to meet the Chief of Police at that location. He traveled there with Zuko on Druk and awaited his daughter's return at a local cantina. When she and Asami eventually returned, Tonraq hugged her, relieved that she was safe. Learning that Asami was to thank for their escape out of the Si Wong Desert, he politely nodded at the engineer, before reintroducing Korra to Zuko and asking if she had already heard the news of Earth Queen Hou-Ting's fall. When Korra instantly recognized that act to be the Red Lotus' handiwork, Tonraq was warned by his daughter that the fall of the Queen's reign would only be the beginning.
When Mako and Bolin revealed that the Red Lotus was on its way toward the Northern Air Temple to wipe out the Air Nation, Tonraq suggested that Zaheer was bluffing, though Mako pointed out that the airbender was not the type to bluff, considering he already took down the Earth Queen. When the team voiced the need for a radio, he reminded them that there was a portable model in the jeeps they used to get there, though its signal would not be strong enough to reach the temple. As such, they all headed toward Zaofu, where a stronger radio transmitter could be found. When Suyin announced that she would prepare her airship to leave for the temple herself, Tonraq helped her make the necessary arrangements.
Attempt to ambush the Red Lotus
On board the Zaofu airship with the Beifong siblings, the Metal Clan guards, and Team Avatar, Tonraq took part in a discussion of how to attack the Red Lotus, suggesting Lin's idea to approach from the mountainside could work. He gave a weird look at Bolin when he suggested disguising himself as a lost hiker and luring the Red Lotus out with bird calls. Upon Korra suggesting she turn herself over, Tonraq told her they could figure out another way, but when she told them to first save the Air Nation to help the world's balance, he assured her they would be with her. After asking if her daughter spoke with Zaheer, she told them about his new terms: she go to Zaheer alone at Laghima's Peak at noon, once there, he would release the airbenders. Suyin suggested using their numbers advantage to split into teams; Tonraq would join her, Lin, and the metalbenders at the base of the peak.
Before the group separated, Tonraq embraced Korra, telling her he was proud of her and that her risk to save the Air Nation would be remembered for generations. He reciprocated her expression of love before they broke away, Korra warning him that Zaheer was not fond of world leaders, to which he told her he could handle him; she just had to stay focused on her mission. He formed water tendrils and ascended up the mountain with the metalbenders.
The group soon learned the Red Lotus had double-crossed them. Tonraq shot up the mountain just as Zaheer was about to escape with Korra, attacking with his tendrils. When Korra fell off the side of the cliff, he used the extensions to grasp her by the wrists, encase them in ice, and pull her back up. He cut the Red Lotus' airship from its rope anchor, leaving Zaheer with nowhere to go. The waterbender and airbender traded blows, neither able to land a significant shot. After his daughter knocked their enemy down momentarily, Tonraq froze his tendrils and went in for a finishing blow, only for Zaheer to jump away at the last minute, ensnare him in a tornado, and throw him off the cliff. He was saved when Kuvira caught him with her metal wires, but was left to watch in sadness as Zaheer flew away with his daughter.
The group settled in a forest outside the temple, where Kuvira bandaged Tonraq up. He told her he owed the metalbender his life and thanked her. They were soon rejoined by the rest of Team Avatar, Tenzin, and Kai on his baby bison, Lefty. Mako told them about their escape with Bolin's lavabending. With Zaheer having taken Korra, Tonraq asked what their next move would be. Kai told them about where the airbenders were: a series of caves owned by the Red Lotus. With Oogi returning to them, the group had a sensible way to reach the location in question.
After Kai led the group to the caves, Tonraq and Bolin helped Tenzin off Oogi before going in with the rest of the group. They broke through and, after quickly disabling the Red Lotus sentries, got the captives released from their chains. Tonraq told the group to get everyone out while he searched for Korra, Mako and Bolin coming with him. Jinora gave them her location before they set off.
Upon arriving in Korra's prison hold, they found her in the Avatar State and beginning an aggressive pursuit of Zaheer. He wanted to help out, but was blocked off by Ghazan. Mako told Tonraq to get out, assuring him he and Bolin would take care of Ghazan and Ming-Hua. The waterbender emerged from the cave, telling the remainder of the group they needed to help Korra.
Though the airbenders were able to combine the powers and use a tornado to free Korra from Zaheer's grasp, she was left in a perilous condition due to the poison that had been drawn into her skin. Tonraq held his daughter in his arms, caressing her cheek and telling her to hang on. When her eyes closed, he began to tear up, continuing to clutch her as Suyin worked to bend the metallic substance out of her. After Korra was freed of the poison and began talking to Tonraq, he embraced her tightly, saying he would never let go.
Two weeks later on Air Temple Island, Tonraq joined Senna, the Beifong siblings, Tenzin's family, Zuko, and President Raiko as Asami wheeled out a debilitated Korra to them. Seeing her in her formal attire, Tonraq knelt down to her daughter, telling her she looked beautiful and kissing her on the forehead, earning a faint smile from Korra. When Raiko commented she did not look good, Tonraq told him he would not either if he went through the same ordeal. He later watched as Jinora's airbending master tattoos were revealed by Tenzin at a formal ceremony.
After the ceremony, Tonraq waited with Senna, Naga, and Kya on the ferry dock of Air Temple Island while Korra said goodbye to Tenzin, Jinora, and the rest of Team Avatar. He later boarded the steamship heading toward the Southern Water Tribe and looked on while they were being waved off. Over the next three weeks, Tonraq grew worried about his daughter's well-being, noticing her lack of sleep and appetite, and although he decided not to push her, he was pleased that she eventually went to seek Katara's help.
In parallel, following the anarchy in the Earth Kingdom, Tonraq, alongside the other world leaders, tasked Kuvira with restoring order to the chaos-ravaged nation, granting her the position of interim president until the Earth Kingdom was stabilized enough for Prince Wu's return and restoration to the Earth Kingdom throne.
Two years after their return to the South, Tonraq agreed to let Korra, although she was not fully recovered yet, return to Republic City, since she believed that the city was where she needed to be to continue making progress. He wanted to arrange a White Lotus transport for her but was told not to, and subsequently watched her depart on a small boat from the docks in Harbor City.
Six months after Korra's departure, Tonraq traveled back to Republic City and was warmly welcomed to Air Temple Island by Tenzin. However, when the airbending master stated that everyone was excited to see Korra again, he grew confused, as he had been under the impression that his daughter was already in the city as he had received a number of letters from her stating as such. When Tenzin assured him that Korra was not with them, Tonraq asked where his daughter was if not there.
Tonraq attended Prince Wu's coronation as the new Earth King and bore witness of Kuvira's declaration of usurping power in the Earth Kingdom, renaming it the "Earth Empire". Following the ceremony, he discussed the matter with the other world leaders and they agreed to send Suyin Beifong to talk to Kuvira to ask her to reconsider her stance on the matter.
Weeks later, after Kuvira's defeat during her attack on Republic City, Tonraq attended the wedding of Varrick and Zhu Li at Air Temple Island. He was seated next to Opal during the ceremony and at a table with his wife, Tenzin, and the presidential couple during the dinner party.
Tonraq and Senna later returned to the Southern Water Tribe, where they were visited by Korra and Asami several days later. Surprised with their presence, as he had believed them to still be on vacation, Tonraq warmly hugged his daughter in greeting. When Asami revealed that they had had to cut their adventure short, Tonraq immediately grew alarmed and asked for clarification but was soon reassured by Korra that the two of them had not encountered anything they could not handle. When the foursome moved the conversation inside for dinner, Tonraq soon picked up on the nervous vibe coming from his daughter as she was struggling to find her words. When she and Asami announced that they were together, Tonraq immediately voiced his support. After a short celebration, however, he asked who else knew about their relationship and warned the couple to keep their personal life private. His well-meant advice struck a wrong chord with Korra. When he tried to explain himself, saying that she had a habit of getting ahead of herself, a defensive Korra accused him of being narrow-minded and left in a hurry with Asami, despite his assurance that he had not meant to hurt her.
As a warrior, Tonraq was brash and hotheaded, relying on his physical strength to protect the tribe, and was never particularly connected to the spiritual world, much like his daughter in the early stages of her Avatar training. Tonraq's personality helped strengthen the bond between him and his daughter, given that they largely understood the world in the same way. Conversely, Tonraq's disregard of spiritual matters and his direct approach to situations exacerbated the rift between him and Unalaq; the two developed an unstable relationship, based on their mutual disdain for the other's attitudes and beliefs toward the Spirit World. It was ultimately Tonraq's temperament and lack of spiritual understanding that Unalaq exploited in order to banish Tonraq from the Northern Water Tribe.
As a waterbending master, Tonraq is able to use his abilities to effectively maneuver over the battlefield by creating ramps and slides made of ice. Contrary to a more classical style of waterbending, he tends to rely more on his own brute strength to overpower his opponents and utilizes a more aggressive style of waterbending; combined with his quick reflexes, this makes him a dangerous adversary, to the point that he was able to defeat several Northern Water Tribe soldiers and momentarily hold his own against Zaheer, although he could not defeat him.
As a former general in the Northern Water Tribe army, Tonraq is a very capable leader and fighter, showing great proficiency with Water Tribe weaponry. His great physical strength and endurance makes him resilient in battle. Tonraq has also proven himself to be very charismatic and insightful, which earned him great respect from the people of the Southern Water Tribe.
- Tonraq is the first character to speak in The Legend of Korra, outside of the opening sequence.
- Tonraq is the second known individual of regal status to lose their birthright and subsequently be banished from their homeland by their father, next to Zuko, though Tonraq's banishment was the result of the actions of his younger sibling, rather than his father, and he was ultimately content with his life in banishment. Additionally, both characters eventually achieved positions of power.
- Tonraq also shares some similarities with Iroh, as both were generals in their nation's military and lost their right to their respective thrones to their younger brothers.
- Tonraq's worry for Korra during the time she spent recovering from her injuries in the South Pole caused his hair to start graying.
|Chief of the Southern Water Tribe|
171 AG – Present
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