Runaway to the Future

by TheGreatEater

Chapter 1: Training Arc pt. 1

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Soul Shard rested within her cabin, having taken the better part of a week to transform the tower of wood that had risen from the outburst of magic. Now she had a garden, more space for her work, and she had finally made the cabin a smaller height. Soul had as perfect a home as she would get.

I have enough bits to last me at least two years, or three if I’m more frugal than I normally am. That should buy me enough time to train. What about when that supply runs dry, though? I don’t know if I can fleece the same nobles over and over again, and I need to find something that pushes me further than simple rigged gambling games.

So what do I need to do for training? My wings are small, good enough to aim at something, but not big enough for lifting. So strengthen them up as well; levitation, gravity manipulation, and other magic that relies on a manifested force rely on physical strength to handle the exertions. I also need to work on my magic; I’m good enough at thaumaturgy and spell crafting itself, but I want to work on physical transformations and ritual work more. That’s the only way I’ll be able to pull off becoming the best. Then I will be ready to show the world what I’m made of. So physical work out, ritual craft, transformation magic, and then I guess doing basic exercises for building my magical core.

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The good thing with spending the better part of the last year training in magic and physical labor was that she was already in a relatively good condition physically. But the attempt at starving herself to death combined with the crippling depression that had previously gripped her had eaten away at her body’s original level of fitness.

Soul started off rear leg running in place, and doing wing ups to strengthen her wings. From there , the exercises grew in intensity, building up her forelegs and chest, rear legs and haunches, and then her wings. Being used to dedicating entire days to an intense training regimen before her depression was enough to keep her bored from the endless repetition until soon enough, her body was drenched in sweat and her body was sore.

After water and physical downtime, she decided to get started on her magical training. When it comes to transformative magic, like shape or matter shifting, most ponies think that it’s just molding magic, but it’s so much more than that. It takes the genetic and molecular structure of an object and rearranges it. If done wrong, it an be permanently damaging or even death at the worst and excruciatingly painful at the best.

It was with caution that Soul approached this subject. It was a very risky medium to practice in, but it was also one that, when perfected, would allow her the ability to go places that she otherwise wouldn’t be able to, f only because of her age and the need to improve upon her body through magic. She already had skill in transforming plants, metals, and spell components, but the transformation of other things, including the transformation of oneself, was an entirely different ball game.

She sat in front of her dusty mirror and took a deep and calming breath. She knew that relying on emotions for magic was not only wasteful, but dangerous as well. Sould had formed a psychological link to her emotions, and if that link was to be taken away, her magic would be psychologically blocked. Only through a calm and focused mind could magic be best used. Although that didn’t mean that it couldn’t be done under other conditions, it was just less than ideal. So she concentrated on what she needed to do, calm and focused.

Pushing the magic within her body, she allowed it to pool and build inside, feeling the magical energy thrum within her bones and pulse within the rest of her face. She gave a push of magic, trying to alter her facial structure; she thought that if she was to start with something small yet noticeable, she could fine tune the procedure until she got it right.

Her first attempt yielded nothing more than an itchy tingle through her face before it started to shimmer. Looking down at the book beside her she saw that she needed to mentally view her body and sculpt the body. It wasn’t about what you saw in the flesh, but rather what you saw in your mind. “Magic is in the mind! Oh Mare in the Moon, I can’t believe I forgot about that.”

Calming herself down and letting her mind focus at the task at hand, she allowed her mind to visualize herself from an outsider’s perspective. She used her mind to elongate her muzzle and form fangs, and using her magic, she felt it push and fill up the visualized form like water filling a cup. Having shaped plenty of objects in her earlier training, turning it inward turned out to be not as hard as she had previously thought.

Looking at her handywork, she saw that while she had succeeded in the transformation, she made her teeth more like a Sabertooth tiger’s tusks, which itched like nopony’s business, and left a dull ache in her jaw. But it was something that, while annoying, was still relatively easy to fix.

DONE WITH DAY ONE!!! She thought to herself.

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Having fixed her face and returned it to normal, Soul decided it was time for training her magic centers. Judging from the books in her parents' library, most ponies thought that a unicorn had a set amount of magic, and that the maximum amount of expendable magic would never change.

The truth was that it is like a muscle; the more it’s trained and used, the more magical stamina one gained. It was just the matter of increasing the intake of magic that one held, and increasing the amount of force one exerted on the outside world.

Soul decided to start with active meditation. She focused on allowing her mind to empty as she drank in the sight around her. She felt the warmth of the sun on her coat and the light breeze playing on her body. She enjoyed the smells and sounds of the world around her, all the while letting her mind simply exist in the moment, existing for nothing more than her surroundings without a thought beyond that.

After her mind was empty and her senses had been expanded to the world around her, she closed her eyes and turned her sight inward. Looking at the play of light and dark within the confines of her eyelids, she turned her mind inward and pushed her awareness towards the darkness. As she fell within it, she noticed a depth to the darkness that seemed to flow deeper, as the light became more and more dull. Eventually she fell so far within her mind, her power pushed her awareness outwards.

In this shadowy plane, the world was converted to tendrils and lines of magical bright light formed from magical energy overlapping dark energy of physical matter. From here she allowed her body to focus on connecting to the energy of the Earth, solidifying her scattered aura while charging her magical centers until her body reached a level of discomfort that threatened to rip her back to the physical plane. As the energy within her reached a crescendo, she guided it throughout her body, compacting it within the muscles, bones, and skin and allowing her physical body to glow with light in this world of light and darkness.

Having stored and gathered as much energy as possible, Soul allowed herself to be drawn into the body and flow upwards through her consciousness until she reached her starting point. She felt her skin literally crawl as the energy pulsed within the confines of her body. and with that she allowed herself to cast basic levitation on the rubble around her that she had yet to clean up, getting the magical energy circulating within the body so that it wouldn't stagnate.

This was what she was going to use as her daily training, although as the weeks progressed she was planning on slowly expanding her training to affect her entire body. She had plans for herself that she needed to get her body prepared for. But that was months from now.

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Later that night, Soul was having a nice dinner of grass and water. Soul wouldn't have enjoyed it years ago, but it was something that living out in the wilderness had drilled into her as something edible, simple, and readily accessible. While almost every pony had tastes for breads, fruits, and things of a more complex nature. grass and water was something that Soul Shard had gotten used to eating in situations when those things weren't available.

As she looked at her bed, she noticed something that she had neglected for the last year of her life: her blanket known as Friend. It was one of the things that she took the time to steal from her house when she was kicked out, but she now felt a stab of pain from ignoring it. Laying next to it, and snuggling up with it as close as possible she gathered the words that she wanted to speak.

“Hi, Friend! I’m so sorry that I haven’t been there for you like you have been for me. You really are the most best friend a filly can ask for. You never tell me I’m not good enough, or call me a feather brain, or that I can’t do magic because I’m a pegasus. You always stay with me and love me. I really don’t know what I did to earn such a magnificent friend! I promise that from now on I’ll tell you stories again, and tell you about my day while you’ve been here resting. So for tonight, why don’t I tell you a story?

"A long, long time ago, there was a little filly for whom no one had any love. She always wanted to earn the love of her parents, and show that she was worthy of their family, But it wasn't meant to be. Because according to her parents, this filly was born into the wrong race, and nothing she did could change that.

"So one day these mean parents threw this little filly away, letting her know that she didn’t matter. However, they also said that if she could prove that this little pegasus filly could do magic just like me, then she would have her life, honor, and the love that she wanted. And the parents would know the sadness they inflicted on their daughter.”

Soul yawned and nuzzled Friend. “But as that filly left, she remembered a special friend, her only friend. Something that had always loved her, been there beside her, and when it was near let her know that she was loved, even if it was only a blanket that loved her. But she couldn’t leave that friend; it would hurt too much to lose the only one that ever loved her. So she summoned it and a few other needed things and went to train.” She gave a larger yawn, her eyes drooping slightly as she nuzzled closer to the blanket. Her words were now being directly spoken into the soft folds of fabric between her hooves.

“While undergoing this training, she ignored her friend; she was so desperate to prove that she was special and worthy that she lost sight of the only one who stood beside her no matter what. And when she failed despite her constant training, the filly fell into depression and saw no reason to live anymore. It was only after she came out of that sorrow and found her cutie mark did she see the errors of her ways.”

Soul couldn't stop the tears.

“I’m so sorry! You have always been there for me, and I almost left you forever because I lost sight of my path. But no more. I love you, Friend, and I will never leave you again.

Despite the tears, she was finding it increasingly difficult to hold her head up, and she soon found herself falling deeper and deeper into the recesses of slumber.

“Good night Friend. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The rest of that month flew by in a blur for Soul Shard. She fell into the schedule of waking up, eating, working out to physical exhaustion, sleeping, waking up, eating, doing magical training, and sleeping. She would tell Friend about her accomplishments and experiences every night, and it soon became a calming mechanism of sorts; it was the only interaction she was ever able to recieve, regardless of whether the conversation was reciprocating or not.

It was at the one month mark that she decided to test herself. Setting in her bed she looked at Friend. “Hey Friend. Guess what today is?

“That’s right! Today is testing day. If I pass my set goals, I’ll proceed to the next level of training I want to do, and I can get started on my two big projects I want to do after a year of training. I’ll need to run into town to get spell components, though that shouldn’t be a problem. I haven’t traveled to town in months so I have enough money for what I need.

"But listen to me ramble on and on like this. I guess I’m just excited. I’ll tell you how everything went tonight.” Soul Shard said bouncing around her bed gabbing excitedly to Friend. While her friend wasn’t much of a talker, having a good listener was enough for her to keep a relative grasp on her sanity as she focused on training herself to be the best.

And that training showed. Her muscles were tight and corded under her slick fur. Her body had slimmed, but not a sickly thin as much as a "muscular" thin. Her coat glowed in a soft sheen from her grooming, and it flowed over her muscles like water on a riverbed when she moved. But today was the day that would show whether it paid off or not.

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Having not bothered to buy or craft an hourglass, Soul decided that a physical test was not something worth testing with normal means. Instead, she thought the testing would show in her magical training; such things as levitation and the kinetic field of psionics exerted a physical force, and thus having an abundance of physical strength would translate to the ability to handle greater weight before her body gave out.

As for magic, Soul decided that this month’s test would test telekinesis in both hoof and wing levitation, and that it would test transformation magic in both combat transformation and intangibility transformation. There would also be spellcrafting for things such as a gravity spell, crystal enchantment, sigil craft, and most importantly a simple spell to see if her creative ability was as good as she thought it was.

To test levitation, Soul made four boulders with thaumaturgic crafting using the element of Earth to build, strengthen and augment simple pebbles into the varying degrees of height and weight needed. Starting from the right to left, the sizes of the boulders started at a filly’s height and doubled in size with each consecutive boulder. The first boulder was two hundred pounds, followed by a four hundred pound boulder, a one ton boulder, and a two ton boulder equaling a combined weight of seventy two hundred pounds.To soul, when she could lift all that weight, she would be at peak physical strength for a filly, and while she didn’t expect to lift all that weight at this test it was a goal to someday reach for further testing and a milestone to reach.

Looking at the stones before her, she lifted her left foreleg and channeled raw arcane energy through her hoof. As she focused on the lightest of the test boulders before her, a white aura enveloped her hoof and the boulder lifting it up. She felt a light counter pressure on her foreleg as if she was balancing a broom on it. Focusing on the next boulder, she pushed more magical energy through her hoof, lifting the heavier boulder. It felt like Soul was holding a heavy book and she felt the need to exert a small amount of force to hold then up. As she reached the third boulder, she felt her hoof heat up from the exchange of energy from electricity to arcane.

The aura by now was almost blindingly bright, with flaring fields of white arcane energy fields radiating from the center. Even though the third boulder only lifted an inch off the ground, she felt her muscles quiver under the force. As the pressure built up she dropped the one ton boulder and settled the others on the ground. It was only after she let the magical energy stop flowing through her hoof that she noticed how tired she truly was; her body was drenched with sweat, and she felt as if a truck had run right into her. She was out of breath, and struggling to maintain a proper stance.

The next part was going to be even more difficult, but it could wait until after a short break. Soul went to the pool of water that rested in the center of her garden. She looked at the flowers around her and let the fragrance wash over her as she took a refreshing drink of cool water. The flowers around her were not only for holidays, but was also a motivational treat for after this testing. After some simple stretching, it was time to continue the testing.

What separated wings and hoofs were two things. Hoofs were a small enough foci that they gave off a sign of their use, most notably an aura both around the target and the appendage channeling the arcane energy. The second one was drainage. While the hoof, like a unicorns horn was smaller it also allowed a set amount of power to be channeled. But the wings, on the other hand, were focis for targeting arcane energy as well as a pegasi’s unique brand of magic, thus getting rid of the controlled power used. Although this was a greater drain, it was traded off for no noticeable tale that it was being used other than the wings being open. Even then, using pegasi magic for anything other than weather crafting or flying was not expected by the other races.

The most important thing about a pegasi’s wings was the fact that they were packed full of nerves and receptors that allowed a pegasi to perform many useful tasks. Most pegasi used these nerves to sensing electromagnetic fields, such as the gravity of the earth and moon, electromagnetic radiation given off by the sun, and well as the electromagnetic energy given off by living things. What was especially interesting was that with training, even more magical energy could be acquired. This was useful when flying above the clouds, or going for long flights where navigation was critical. It was also a useful tool for blind pegasi who used their wings to maneuver around, sensing these fields like a bat or dolphin would. In some ways a blind pegasi was able to see more than those with sight, even if they could never experience color other than the trails of yellow light within the dark confines of their otherwise sightless eyes.

It was this skill that Soul Shard had perfected; even though she could see, she had heightened her targeting ability and trained her seeing eyes to visualize these sensations and convert her pegasi magic to other venues that most pegasi would never dream of. Sitting on her haunches she flared open her wings, allowing her senses to focus on the smallest of the training boulders. She wrapped her gravitational magic around it, and as she lifted it from the ground, Soul felt her underdeveloped wings flare as the boulder's weight pressed against them. but was nonetheless able to keep it off of the ground. It was at the next boulder that she hit her limit. Despite the fact that she was able to lift it, her whole body felt as if a weight was slowly crushing against her ribcage, making each breath a challenge while making each feather slowly spread apart as the gravitational force pushed against them.

Still being able to lift four hundred pounds with only pegasi magic was quite a feat, as far as distance lifting was concerned. Most pegasi naturally spread their pegasi magic while holding things; It’s what air chariot carriers and pegasi movers used to carry such insanely heavy weights. But it was another thing entirely to push that magic outside the body and use it at a distance intentionally, since the farther from a target one was the more magic was required to lift it.

She spent the next half an hour in meditation, gathering magical energy from her surroundings and compacting it within herself. After a month of undergoing this process, she had slowly become able to hold more arcane energy within herself, and while that in turn increased her internal stores of magic, it had also allowed her body to tap into a greater reserve of magical power when she needed it.

And so came the evaluation.

While I’m proud of what I can do with my hoof, I’m rather disappointed that I can’t do heavy lifting with my wings.Although I guess four hundred pounds is better than nothing. So I give myself a B on that. Or maybe a B+ if only because I couldn’t lift a ton with my pegasi magic. I guess that can be done next test.

Soul then moved on to centering the course for her transformative magic evaluation. This course consisted of two parts: A wooden model of a pony that acted as a combat target, and a short 400 meter course. The course consisted of a zigzag of pillars and a tunnel like maze with multiple holes with in it. The course ended with a small tower standing thirty feet tall; this was the perfect test of Soul's ability to control herself in an intangible, cloudlike state.

Looking at the wooden "pony" before her, she calmed herself, allowing her mind to go blank while absorbing her surroundings. She allowed her focus to flow internally centering her visualization on her outside appearance, visualizing her neck muscles, joints, and bones to become spring-like and coiled like a cheetah’s spine. She saw her jaw and mouth structure become like that of a viper's. She flowed her magic within herself and allowed the magic to fill up the changes she saw like water filled a cup. She felt her body conforming to the change; this was definitely worth a month of work on transforming her body. She felt that this was one form that would be most useful for combat. This form would give her the ability to whip her neck and head at lightning-fast speeds, and after a bit of training, Soul would be able to store magic in her gums and inject her opponent with it like snake venom.

Soul whipped her head as fast as possible, giving fast bites to the neck, legs, and face of the dummy before her. The only weakness to this that Soul noticed was that at lightning fast speeds, each bite into a surface cause the tooth to jerk. This slowed her down by fractions of a second and caused a twinge of pain. That’s a good grade on speed, but a slightly lower grade on the tooth. That could cost me; although wood is stronger than flesh, it’s still a weakness to improve upon. But I do maneuver faster than a normal pony could without a magical boost, so that’s a plus. I guess I could give myself a low A so far, or perhaps a B because of the pain.

With that evaluative conclusion out of the way, Soul started preparing for the next test. Intangibility was harder than simple shapeshifting in that it required one to not only morph the shape of the body but expand magic to hold oneself together. This also meant that doing spells without an enchanted item as an anchor was nearly impossible since most of one’s focus was on keeping oneself in one piece; even the rare S rank unicorn would have trouble with such an endeavor. But the trade off was the inability to be physically harmed with mundane attacks. It gave the user increased stealth, access to normally inaccessible areas, and the ability to fly without wings in a matter of speaking. So it was more of a defensive spell than a combative one, which is why she not only crafted the obstacle course but also separated the combative aspect and this one.

Although Soul could theoretically implement both shapeshifting and intangibility at the same time, it was too advanced for her at the moment as well as more strenuous on her magical reserves than she wanted to deal with. So shifting to her true form, she once again allowed herself to clear her mind. Feeling the magic build within her, she grabbed her body and felt herself push and flow outwards, creating separation within her body and allowing herself to enter a cloud like form.

Her consciousness expanded, giving herself a 360 degree field of vision which was disconcerting even after a month of training. With the initial transformation underway and six seconds wasted on regaining her bearings, she focused on the rest of the course.

Stretching her cloud-like body to flow between the posts wasn’t hard. It was simply shifting the magic to stretch herself like a snake and flowing between the sets of posts. When she hit the tunnel she decided to push herself and enter each of the four six-inch holes. The hard part was that the holes were very dark. They prevented Soul from seeing and forced her to expend energy to feel her way around. This spell would be useful if she ever was trapped or needed to make a sneaking entrance or escape.

It was a minute later that the entirety of her body was out of the walls as a white cloud of magic. Racing up to the top of the tower, she put her reformative magic to the test, since going intangible wasn’t nearly as hard as going back into a physical form.

Visualizing her body, she pulled the magic together and reversed the process of intangibility, effectively going back to her physical form. Unfortunately, she messed up with the conversion slightly, causing a blast of pain and heat to jolt through her body and forcing every swear she knew to say out of her mouth.

She took major points off of herself for both taking to long to get her bearings and botching the transformation to tangibility, with minute details from the entire run decreasing her score here and there.

she gave herself a C, causing her over all score to even out to a B-. While others might not have been as strict and would consider B a bad grade, Soul interpreted it this way: while in some areas she was ahead of her age bracket, her score ultimately made her less than perfect in general. If she was to impress other unicorns some day or she should need to use her skills in a practical setting, a B simply would not cut it. If she was to wow the Princess and make fools of those who rejected her, she needed to not only be powerful, but she needed to be the best. It was the only way to prove that she wasn’t a failure.

After a quick teleport back to the cabin, she got herself a quick bit to eat and a nice refreshing drink of water. She could now focus the rests of her tests indoors where everything was nice and cool. First, she retrieved a steel barrette in the shape of an ouroboros, a snake devouring its own tail, with the clip being on its underside. This was to be the enchanted item in this evaluation. Soul imparted three spells onto the barrette, each one just as important as the next. The first was a dual purpose spell that would hold the barrette in place as well as prevent it from being removed by anyone but keyed individuals or herself. It was a simple spell that was used for things like sticking pictures on walls and holding up a pony’s hair in improbable styles that a lot of the well-off were known for.

She parted her bangs to the left side of her face and clipped the barrette into place. Shaking, nodding, and rolling her head around vigorously, she was proud that her clip not only held in place but wasn’t pulling on her hair roots. The next spell was even simpler. It was a mind link spell allowing her to control any spells or enchantments while keeping those spells and enchantments from sucking away at her energy reserves. like an enchanted item usually would.

Finally, the piece de resistance: A variable, gravity spell that would only affect her personal self without spreading to the outside world. In other words, she’d feel the additional weight and her body would react as if it weighted more, but physically she wouldn’t have any weight increase, nor would that increased gravity affect anything she interacted with (at least, not without consciously expanding the spells aura)

It took her two hours of work to perfect, but when it was completed she had a clip that could multiply gravity by a minimum of 1.5 times, and a maximum of five hundred times. Although she didn’t think she’d ever need it that high, Soul wanted it in case it became necessary later on.

Starting with the minimum, she placed the clip on and immediately felt the spell flood her body. It was slightly uncomfortable, but that was the only way to know it was working. She thought that if she were to keep boosting the weight up every time, she would get used to the sensation and she would be at peak physical performance in no time. Her only problem was that she’d need to take off the clip for a few hours a day to ensure that she was not just strong, but gentle and slow enough to hide any boosts to her strength and speed; she’d not have any limiters to how fast she was moving once the weight was diminished, nor would it be a good idea to injure others by carelessness. But for getting as close to perfection as possible, she needed to push herself beyond what was normal.

Please with her results, she gave herself her first A+, having created a stable, self sustaining gravity spell. The next test few tests passed with startling ease, since they were her favorite subjects: Crystal Enchantment and Sigil craft. The Enchantment she worked on with her crystal passed layline energy through the stone while binding the excess energy into it as an auxiliary node, with an additional enchantment siphoning ambient magical energy from her surrounding area. This allowed her to have a large reservoir of magic with little effort, thus creating the world's first artificial magic pool. In nature, this was rare to come across, but it would recharge a mage’s energy reserves when tapped into. The Sigil was a simple array of sigils that drew in ambient light and amplified it within a circle, creating a sphere of light as bright as several candles.

Being happy with her creations, she gave herself an A for originality as well as her success in implementing them. The last part though was the hard part, though: a custom spell of her choosing. As one could tell by now, Soul was hard on herself. This was far different, though. This needed to be perfect.

She calmed herself down and allowed herself to tap into her MPC, her Magic Pool Crystal, and recharge herself. Soul Shard felt her body thrum with power as the artificial pool flooded her body with raw arcane energy. Next, she emptied her mind and entered a magical mindset.

She began casting.

Concentrating over the table, Soul laid down the sphere, magically twisting and turning it upon itself. This caused the sphere to diverge and become two spheres with an outer and inner shell. She laid down the spell formula and variables, and then began forming links within the plane, altering the lines of planar force and reconstituting the sphere’s spell formula to be more complex, taking into account the additional formulas.

Once this was in order, she pushed the arcane energy through her hoof and allowed the magic to be cast within the spell she previously set up. As the spell was fed and set upon her desk as an anchor, a bubble began to take form, enveloping all the work she had done. It started as a shimmer, then an oily, bubble-like glow began to form, It’s shape wobbling from the force pushing and pulling as it began to set and take shape. Then with a final push of power. Soul formed a reality bubble: a miniature pocket dimension.

Grinning like a mad mare, she decided to do the final two parts of the spell: Displacement and replacement. The Displacement was a simple twisting of the bubble's variable shell, placing all the things inside it into the astral plane; Soul did this with relative ease. Replacement followed: with another twist in the opposite direction, Soul brought everything back. She would have cheered at her success, but the exhaustion got to her before she could, and she passed out in fatigued satisfaction.

Soul learned two valuable lessons during that test. One was that just because she had the knowledge to do something didn’t mean that she had the power to do it without over exerting herself. The second was that it was absolutely necessary for a filly to pace herself rather than using brute force to get a job done. there was a time and place for brute force, but practice and evaluations didn't fit in that criteria. So she gave herself an A for the creation, but lowered herself down to a C+ for the overexertion and passing out.

Combining all of her grades, she ended up with a B+. It wasn’t an A like she wanted, but it was above average. And considering that she was grading herself as if she was a grown mare above average across the board was a very good indication of her future improvements. She was so close to being excellent, she knew she could hit that grade on the next section of her training. But she had passed. For now, at least.

Author's Notes:


Next Chapter: Training Arc pt.2 Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 32 Minutes
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