Homeward bound animal welfare group photos

Animal welfare groups lose court challenge over ‘Frankenchickens’

2023.05.30 11:22 Mashed-Cupcake Animal welfare groups lose court challenge over ‘Frankenchickens’

Animal welfare groups lose court challenge over ‘Frankenchickens’ submitted by Mashed-Cupcake to Ethicalpetownership [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 10:18 JoshAsdvgi The Creation of Our People

The Creation of Our People

The Creation of Our People Happened This Way...

The creation story began long, long ago when Waziya, the Old Man, lived beneath the earth with his wife, Wakanka.
Their daughter, Ite, grew to be the most beautiful of women, thereby captivating the attention of one of the associate Gods, Tate, the Wind.
Though not a Goddess, Ite became the wife of Tate who lived at the entrance of the Spirit Trail.
She bore Tate four sons, quadruplets--the North, West, East and South Winds.
The first son became cruel and hard to get along with, so Tate took his position as first son and gave it to his boisterous second son, West Wind.
Thus, the order of the Winds became West, North, East and South.
Because of the association with the influential good and helpful Gods through the marriage of Ite to Tate, Waziya became dissatisfied and yearned to have the power of the true Gods.
Iktomi, the Trickster, always anxious to further discontentment and promote ridicule, bargained with Waziya and Wakanka and Ite, promising them great power and further beauty for Ite if they would assist him in making others ridiculous.
He even promised Ite that her enhanced beauty would rival that of the Goddess Hanwi, the Moon, who was the pledged wife of the great Sun God, Wi.
So Waziya, Wakanka and Ite agreed to Iktomi's bargain.
Possessed of a charm given her by Iktomi, Ite became more and more conscious of her beauty and less and less devoted to the welfare of her four sons, the Four Winds.
At this time, Sun saw Ite and, struck by her incredible beauty, invited Ite to sit beside him at the feast of the Gods.
When the time for the feast arrived, Ite came early.
Finding the place next to the Sun vacant, she took it.
Sun was pleased.
When Moon finally arrived, she saw her seat had been taken, and she was so ashamed that she hid her face from the laughing people, covering it with a robe.
And Iktomi, the planner of this event out laughed everyone.
After the feast, Skan, the Sky God and judge of all the Gods, called a Council.
He asked for the stories of Wi, the Sun, who had forsaken his wife; of Ite, who dared take the place of a Goddess; and of Wakanka and Waziya who had wished for godlike powers; and Iktomi, the schemer.
Then Skan passed Judgement.
Sun was to lose the comfort of his wife, Moon.
He was to rule only in the day, allowing Moon to rule at night.
Whenever they were together, Moon would always cover her face in shame.
Ite's sentence was severe because of her vanity and negligence of motherly and wifely duties.
She would give premature birth to her next son, who would be unlike all other children, and her children would not live with her but with their father, Tate.
She was, furthermore, instructed to return to the world and live without friends.
Still more, she would remain the most beautiful of women, but only half of her would be so.
The other half would be so horribly ugly that people would be terrified at the sight of her. Henceforth, she would be called Anung-Ite, the Double-faced Woman.
Wakanka and Waziya were banished to the edge of the world until they could learn to do good for young children and old people.
They too were renamed for their misconduct, becoming known as the Witch and the Old Man, or Wizard.
Iktomi was also banished to the edge of the world where he was to remain forever friendless.
He accepted his judgement with his usual smugness, reminding Skan that he still had the birds and the animals with whom he could live and upon whom he could continue to play pranks.
Tate, who was also judged for marrying Ite, was instructed to raise his children properly and to do a woman's work.
Thus he lived along with his four sons, the Winds, and his fifth son, little Yumni, the Whirlwind, in their home beyond the pines in the land of the ghosts.
Each day his sons travel over the world according to his instructions.
One day, as the Four Winds were on their tours away from home, a shining object appeared outside of Tate's tipi.
Tate looked out and saw a lovely young woman, beautifully dressed.
Tate asked her who she was and where she came from.
She replied that she came from the Star People, that her father was Sun and her mother, Moon, and that she had been sent to the world to find friends.
She also told him that her name was Whope.
When the Four Winds and Whirlwind returned home, they were surprised to find that their father had taken a woman.
But after Whope had prepared for each of them, her favorite meal, and no matter how much they ate, their plates remained full, they realized that she was supernaturally endowed.
They learned that their father treated her, not as a wife, but as a daughter.
They welcomed her into their lodge.
Soon, each brother wanted Whope as his woman and competed with one another in showing her favors.
Tate decided to hold a feast, to which all the Gods should be invited.
At this feast Tate honored his guests with presents.
Many told stories of their power and there was much dancing.
Then the Gods asked Tate how they might please him.
He told them that if they honored his daughter, Whope, he himself would be pleased.
Then they asked Whope what she wanted.
Whope arose and stood by Okaga, the South Wind, who folded his robe around her.
"I want a tipi for Okaga and myself, a place for him and his brothers."
So her wish was granted and Whope became Okaga's wife.
And then, as a present for the couple, the Gods made them the world and all there is in it.
The banished Waziya and his family were also involved in the story.
In the beginning, the Wizard. the Witch, their daughter, the Double-faced Woman, and Iktomi, the Trickster, were the only people on earth.
Iktomi grew tired of playing pranks on birds and animal's.
He had fun doing it, but they never showed any shame over their misfortunes.
So he, again, went to Anung-Ite, asking her what she most desired.
She told him that if she would tell him, he should never resort to tricks and pranks again.
She explained that if her people tasted meat and learned about clothes and tipis, they would want such things and come to where they could be had.
With these instructions, Iktomi then went to the wolves, seeking their aid in bringing mankind to earth.
Again, in return for help, Iktomi swore to abandon his pranks.
The wolves agreed to this and Iktomi instructed them to drive moose, deer and bears to Anung-Ite's tipi, where she would prepare food, clothing and tipis to entice mankind.
Then Iktomi gave to one of the wolves a packet, which Anung-Ite had prepared containing tasty meat and fancy clothing for the man and woman.
He then directed the animal to take the packet to the entrance of the cave which opened into the world.
The wolf did as instructed and when it saw a brave young man apart from the others, it presented the packet, telling the young man to taste the meat and advising him and his wife to wear the clothing.
The wolf told the young man that the people also should be allowed to taste the meat and see the clothing, and that there were many such things as these on earth.
The young man, Tokahe, the First One, was pleased to do this, for now he would be considered a leader.
When the people tasted the meat and saw the clothes Tokahe and his wife wore, they were envious and asked how they too might obtain such things.
The old man of the group then directed that three brave men accompany Tokahe to find out where such good things came from and to prove that Tokahe was truthful.
The four young men set out and, led by the wolf, they entered the world from the cave.
They were led to a lake where Anung-Ite had pitched her tipi.
She appeared to Tokahe and his companions as a beautiful young woman.
Iktomi appeared as a handsome young man.
The four young men were shown much game which Iktomi had previously arranged with the wolves to have driven past.
Anung-Ite gave them many tasty foods and many presents of fine clothing for them and for their people.
Iktomi told them that he and his wife were really very old, but by eating this earthly food they remained young and attractive.
When the four young men returned through the cave to their people, they described what they had seen.
But an old woman, doubted such wonders, cautioned them to be wary.
The people argued some wishing to go with Tokahe, others saying that he was a wizard.
When Tokahe offered to lead any who wished to follow him up to the earth, the chief warned them that whoever ventured through the cave to the earth would never find the way back.
Nonetheless, six men and their wives and children joined Tokahe, and they left the underworld guided by the wolf.
When they reached the earth it was strange.
They became lost and tired, hungry and thirsty.
Their children cried.
Anung-Ite appeared and tried to comfort them, but they saw the horrible side of her face and ran in terror.
Iktomi appeared in his true form and laughed at their misery.
Their leader, Tokahe, was ashamed.
The revelation of Iktomi's falsity and Anung-Ite's ugliness was then removed by the appearance of the Old Man and the Witch, who, according to the prophecy at the time of their banishment, had come to understand the qualities of mercy and tenderness.
They appeared to Tokahe and his followers, bringing food and drink.
They lead the disheartened group to the land of the pines, to the world of the Ghosts.
They showed them how to live as men now do.
Thus Tokahe and his followers were the first people on earth.
Their descendants are the Dakota.
submitted by JoshAsdvgi to Native_Stories [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 10:04 Zephir18 Thief the king of downsides and ideas to make it more fun to play [PvE]

With the upcoming balance update in June i would like to put some lights on Thief and why in my opinion its the most boring class in the game when it could be something more unique and interesting. Looking at gw2 wingman for May, in raid and strikes thief is one of the least played class, probably mostly played in its niche roles like sololamp, kite q1/q2, samarog and opening a door".
This post will focus on instanced contents and will quickly review most of the problems its playable builds have, while giving some ideas to improve the gameplay of them, hoping to help the balance team to make Thief a more fun class to use in PvE. Its not because some of its builds have good damage that the builds are fun to play.


  1. Power Daredevil : pDD use the core traitline "Critical Strikes" which already bring a big downside. - Twin Fang requires you to be above 90% of your health to gain crit damage. 90% is too much, bring it on par with "Keen observer" which is 75%. Make the crit chance available without having to flank. - Weakening Charge is a locked animation which is very bad because its the main dps skill. - Dodging : Bounding Dodger requiring you to dodge every 4sec to upkeep your damage, in comparison Vindicator Forerunner of Death is 10sec. Havoc Specialist is also extremely unfun to play with, being out of stamina to deal decent damage and so turning vigor into a permanent "condition" to play with is dreadful, rework this trait please. Not a downside but Daredevil F1 is the exact same mechanic as core thief, i might be wrong but Daredevil is the only e-spec that literally has no unique mechanic, give DD a proper new mechanic or improve/rework stolen skills because right now only 2 are good (Magnetic bomb and Detonate Plasma). I recommend reading this excellent post to go more in depth with power Daredevil
  2. Condition Daredevil : Just by writing this i see myself leaping to my death. You like dodging every 4sec ? what about adding another forced movement. This build requires you to constantly be aware of your positioning leading to a lot of frustration. - Death Blossom is the main skill that we use and his the main culprit why the build is so frustrating to play. Let the player choose if they want to move or not by pressing a movement key. - Venoms : Please let venoms stacks, let fractals groups have more than 1 condi thief and squad groups more than 2 condi thief. Telling your commander to swap sub or telling someone if they can swap class/build because there's already a condi thief in your sub group is so weird.


  1. Rifle Deadeye : - The change to Death's Judgement was good but meaningless because you forgot to make Rifle 3 also pierce. - The movement speed while using kneel is too slow, why are we faster walking backward than frontward ? - Random stealth from allies interfer with our rotation
  2. DaggeDagger Deadeye : Interesting niche build that works only if you can stand in the back of your opponent to malicious backstab, the main problem here are allies, if they give you random stealth your dps will suffer a lot. Maybe make Deadeye e-spec unaffected by allies stealth, only the player can stealth himself. - Shadow Flare reveals you, meaning you need a very precise timing when using it, very frustrating if failed. I don't know how to make this skill less frustrating to use.
  3. Pistol/Dagger Condition Deadeye : A fun and fast paced build that got obliterated by He Who Must Not Be Named because he saw a certain video on youtube. Please bring back this build from the dead. - the Shadow strike shadowstep is weird in PvE, instead of unlocking repeater after only using Shadow strike , make Shadow strike only available in melee, if the player is at range, create a new range skill that will also unlock repeater. No more constant shadowstep - can't stack Venoms. - Revert the repeater ini nerf in PvE so we can have more versatility in our utility skills
On a side note i feel like Deadeye could be way more interesting if the stealth access was reworked. The unique mechanic of Deadeye and what makes this e-spec fun are the big stealth attacks but the stealth access is bad when played optimally. Rifle Deadeye build will run out of stealth and Cloak and Dagger is too expensive on condition Deadeye. My idea is : why not gaining a F2 stolen skill everytime we reach at least 5 malice ? Stealth wouldn't be a problem anymore. I feel like it will bring more build diversity for Deadeye. "One in the Chamber" and " Silent Scope" could be reworked into more interesting traits.


- First of all I really wish to know why Specter has to play with 3 less initiatives from the get go? this kills theory-crafting because we are forced to play with Trickery traitline to make Specter usable. - Why in the adept line of Specter there is 2 healing traits that compete with each other ? Consume Shadows will always win, rework the boring trait Second Opinion . - Specter Shroud should be more interesting/impactful than a waiting room for initiatives or Consume Shadows. Rework "Second opinion" to improve Shroud DPS, Traversing Dusk to a more heal/support oriented Shroud that helps with alacrity and Shallow Grave to a more barrierevive oriented Shroud. Switch tier trait for Traversing Dusk and Consume Shadows - What's the purpose of Scepter 2 ? Remove weakness from it and make an AoE attack that deals torment or poison up to 5 targets to help with cleave and if allies are nearby give also protection up to 5 players around Specter . The ally-targeting idea is interesting but doesn't work in GW2. - Finally revert the shroud health nerf in PvE and nerf "Consume Shadows" instead. To avoid DPS build to take this trait, change it to something with expertise scaling. Right now the healing per Stack are 10% make it like 5% by default and the more expertise you have the more % you will add to the healing up to 10% max, if its too much tweak the numbers.
  1. Alac-DPS Specter : - Wells spam to provide alacrity, wait and see next update. - Shroud is boring - Scepter 3 animation with a dagger sometimes feels clunky to use - Shroud 5 Mind Shock should also give stability at the start of the channeling, not just after waiting 3s. - Am i the only one liking the old Well of Bounty ? all this skill needed was a change to the boon order. Something like : Stability -> Aegis -> Protection -> Resistance -> Mights first.
  2. Condi Specter - can't stack Venoms - Almost no cleave capability - Shroud is boring - Scepter 3 animation with a dagger sometimes feels clunky to use - "Well of Sorrow" should be improve/buff a lot, a dps skill that can only be equiped on Specter deals less damage than Thousand Needles a core dps skill that can be used on any build.
The huge downside with Specter e-spec is to not fall asleep while playing it. What do you guys think ? Do you agree ? what's your ideas to make thief more fun to play ?
submitted by Zephir18 to Guildwars2 [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 09:51 Maleficent_Hall8021 True Testimonial to my Marriage

Here is a lil story about the last year of my life... I wonder if the crazy stalker I married for all this crap to blow up will find it... but it is a testimonial that has been provided to an officer friend of mine just in case.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing out this testimonial in the event that my wife pursues unjustified legal action against me.
A year ago my wife and I had separated due to unresolvable issues… during that time frame she was contacting previous relationships and family members trying to get them to admit to actions on my behalf that never occurred… such as sexual abuse to family members or physical abuse to ex relationships.
Accusations were made by her making claims I had been in contact with her ex boyfriend and was conspiring with him to upload “nude” photo’s of her and that he was doing the same because their relationship “ended badly” and she had read a random post on reddit about a lady that was being recorded previously.
I had asked to see said post but by that time the post had “miraculously disappeared” so no evidence of said post could be found. From there accusations were made by my wife accusing me of recording her 24/7 and watching her. Later she had made comments to a neighbor that was a friend of ours saying that the landlord was also recording everyone and watching them.
She had contacted family to get her and her animals to move back to Arnprior. Throughout a 6 month period I would receive texts with wild accusations about how movies were based on her life… crazy individuals in said movies were me and that we had to discuss what was going on.
She had also requested that I send her a few of her items via Purolator however I did not because anytime she made said request… the next day she would be telling people I was intolerant to transgender… potentially a serial killer and many other disgusting false accusations to my character.
Finally I had gone over a month without hearing from her, started to get my life back in order… then our anniversary came around and she had contacted me again with a complete tone shift… she wasn’t making any wild accusations against me but she apologized admitting her head was in the wrong place… and that her grandfather was very ill and she missed me.
So we got to talking again… I got emotional feeling like I was hearing my old wife again… loving, caring, compassionate… still a little “out there” but hearing the genuine… her in the tone of her voice… from there we continued to talk over the phone for a few months… things were getting a bit rocky but when she got very stressed about what was going on in Arnprior… she would slip into a manic state…
She had talked about how she was special… god is a space whale talking to her… and she needed to build a space catapult to benefit man kind and to show the world that she was more capable than anyone ever gave her credit for… also claiming she is highly intelligent but has just been hiding it from the world.
At this point I had relapsed back to the emotional I want my wife back… I want my family back state so my judgement got bad at this point… she clearly wasn’t all there so to speak but after about a month of talking on the phone my only concern was to “get my wife home” and try to help her with the relentless love method… express my appreciation… pride for her… etc etc almost hourly.
She had finally made it back home with the help of one of my friends… unfortunately she had set my friend off during the drive because the duration of the trip my wife was… well saying how one of my coworkers was dangerous because he had a bad alcohol issue and cocaine habit during his depression…
This set my friend off because my friend knows this particular gentleman and his struggles and knows he isn’t a bad guy at all… so she quickly shut down that conversation… I gave my friend 250$ as appreciation for her bringing my wife home.
When she got back into the house… immediately it felt like she had never left… in the sense she didn’t need any readjusting period despite being gone for so long… as soon as she was back in the place she was already proceeding to set it to her fashion… which I didn’t mind I wanted her to feel at home because for me it was her home too despite everything.
She had lost her financial backing with ODSP due to dishonesty and not following their instructions in regards to a house she had half ownership with a previous relationship with but she had just signed over the place to him to quickly sort that matter however she couldn’t do that in Arnprior as the office was located in Renfrew for ODSP.
After getting settled for a few months she had gone to talk to ODSP as per my instructions to get back on as… she was causing tension financially so to speak. I wanted to keep my wife happy at that time… so I was spending money to keep her happy or attempts to… but later she started saying it was causing a financial sword over our heads… and the things I got her pissed her off more because as she put it… she should be able to do this stuff for herself and “not have a man do it”… from there getting angry at myself and the government for her financial situation or lack there of.
It did bug me I was working my ass off to support my wife and her pets… and when mention of wanting a pet of my own I was denied because we “couldn’t afford it”… but she wanted karate lessons, she wanted supplies for arts n crafts… she wanted to try variations of foods for her health benefits and when they didn’t pan out (none of them did) it’d just cause more issues.
She began to fall back into her old habits… living in her own filth… mountains of used Kleenex… sleeping all day, doing nothing to really contribute… I didn’t mind because I thought I was helping my wife get rest… then it felt like she was just out to find any reason to literally scream at me… We had spent many years enjoying open world survival games together, does a lot of exploring… It got to the point anytime her character got attacked I was accused of abandoning her… not just in the game but suddenly now I was doing it in real life too… I explained to her it’s a game, and I am there for her when I can… both virtually AND in reality… as you can imagine that was not met with kindness or understanding.
From there I was accused of not understanding the situation and not listening… that day I came home from work after an entire day of horrifically heartless texts from her, to find her gone… nothing but a passive aggressive painting of a black streak across a white canvas… her non married initials signing the work and a letter stating that since I didn’t understand anything maybe this painting will spell it out for me.
She later returned to not say a thing, just stormed off to the room to give the silent treatment (take a nap) then woke up hours later to aggressively inquire if I got the hint… I just apologized… didn’t want to set her off more and there was nothing I could say that will make her feel better… or less hostile… so I swallowed my pride as guys seem to be taught to do against losing battles. Then later came out informing me to shut up… don’t talk… don’t move… don’t even breathe… “Shut the fuck up and listen to me”… and I did…
From there she grew more angry… I would attempt to take her out for breakfast… a nice walk during nice days… and it didn’t matter… if she saw someone walking their dog without a leash regardless of how well trained the dog was she would flip out for the rest of the day about how it’s irresponsible, that dog was probably the dog that bit a squirrels tail (there was a stumpy tailed squirrel in the park) and how the lady was probably a horrible mother to her kids… just completely scattershot anger.
By this point I was frustrated… I worked my ass off daily to make her happy, feed her and her animals, and all I was getting was spite and hatred… I couldn’t talk to her about anything or anyone because it would set her off… I was done at this point, saying how all she did was find some reason to get angry… insult my coworkers (the troubled guy)… and all she could say was it was my fault… I make the world seem so horrible… I made those people sound so horrible… I had mentioned my coworkers bad habits but defended him stating he went through hell… he’s not a bad guy, I listed off all the wonderful things he did for complete strangers… that wasn’t met with understanding… I was accused of doing cocaine, hanging out with the guy doing bad things and that I was JUST as bad as he was for defending his troubles… I wasn’t defending I was understanding.
By this point I was so broken down she had stopped to ask me one night… and I saw the blank emotionless expression on her face and deep down I knew she was in a manic state… but asked me… “Do you hate me?” I said no… I love you… but I hate the way you escalate everything… a walk in the park can destroy your day… nice things ive done for you… you found a way to turn that against me and make me feel bad for trying to love and take care of you. I don’t hate you but I don’t feel like you love me… honestly I feel like you hate me.
She escalated it… screaming how she doesn’t feel loved, she feels like I’m treating her like a ticking time bomb and I cant just BUY her affection with trinkets… I never honestly bought her anything short of a massager for her pains… everything else she had specifically asked me to purchase with some speech about why she needed it… I was literally begging her at this point not to escalate… HEAR MY WORDS… PLEASE… She stormed off to the room yet again… I didn’t want to share a bed with her so I slept on the couch… I also had to work in the morning time.
I woke up early in the morning at around 6 for my shift at 8am… she was up, hopping in the shower, saying she’s going out (she never goes out) and she doesn’t want to be here with me here cause I “hate” her. I proceeded to inform her I didn’t want her there anymore… I didn’t want to keep being a scapegoat for her unresolved traumas… yea bad thing to say but that’s essentially what was happening… generally happens between folks and still happens to me this day… severity depends on the person screaming at me… So while I was in the washroom before going to work she storms out of the room screaming “YOU NARCASSISTIC RAPIST ASSHOLE!”… I was done by then, I’ve taken a lot of her false accusations over when she left the first time… and since she returned…
I got out of the bathroom informed her she needs to leave!... and went to work while getting her screaming and trying to chase me out the door. From there she proceeded to post lies about what happened… so at this point I got annoyed… temporarily changed the wifi password because she didn’t pay for it anyways and I wasn’t offering it up to someone blasting me with lies on the internet…
By the time I returned home from work I changed it back because I knew she needed internet to find her way out of my home… she didn’t realize… said I was trying to trap her there and left to go sit at tim hortons. I had sent her a message saying I did change it back before I even got home but you didn’t notice clearly… but I changed it back BECAUSE I don’t want you to stay and I know you needed it to find someone.
She came back a few hours later grabbing her stuff and her dog… asked me to watch her cat till she could return for her… Which I did, I loved Carrie and despite my wifes accusations of me being abusive towards animals in the past and a public reddit post that had also stated that her pets were scared of me… she clearly wasn’t concerned about leaving her cat with me… and rightfully so, I fed her when I woke up and fed her again when I went to sleep until she came and collected her.
This time around I didn’t say bye to the cat like I did the first time she left… holding Carrie and bawling my eyes out cause I didn’t want… any emotional farewells… She came back with a notoriously known junkie in town whom she was moving in with. This lady was apparently in an abused women’s group so my wife had given her some sob speech I’d imagine… the boo hoo my husband is abusing me when the reality was quite the opposite.
She had started showing up in my apartment when I wasn’t there with this individual I didn’t trust with good reason (she later stole from my work… or her sleazy drug addled boy toy).. so I had informed my wife I didn’t want her showing up with this lady while I wasn’t there because at this point I didn’t trust ANY of them.
December 9th she had contacted the police for an escort to pick up her stuff… saying how I wasn’t allowing her to, I was being unreasonable all because I asked she didn’t do it with her friend when I wasn’t there… hell she had the option to come alone when I wasn’t there if that made it easier… but she didn’t feel “safe” so she came by collected her things with the police, I stood outside chatting with them… they didn’t seem too impressed with her and rightfully so with what followed..
The officer had informed me that she had reported that I was sharing explicit pictures of her… but she didn’t have anyone SAY I was… didn’t have any evidence stating I was (cause I wasn’t) but she wanted it to stop… how the hell would she think I could stop anything if I never started it… so I informed the officer any “loving” pictures I had from my wife that she voluntarily (and did) send me… were long gone and she knew that… Officer said okay she will let her know… and everyone parted ways.
I started up my night schedule with work a month or so later to find a pounding on my door at 10:30pm… thinking ah crap… only person crazy enough to show up at my door at that hour when I never get guests… is her… I opened the door and an officer is standing there… asks me if I knew Marie… I said in an unimpressed tone yes… that is my wife who has been trying to make my life a living hell… he looked at me with understanding and informed me that she had reported me for “sexual assault” however… they had to inform her that alleged dirty pictures… wasn’t sexual assault (it was over pictures again) I informed the officer that I had told the officers who showed up December 9th that the pictures were long gone already. The sad irony of the accusations is she was closer to sexually assaulting me than anything else... (Yes that is possible... when you dont want to engage in sexual activities with the person and they pressure you throwing your marriage as an excuse... that is how you pressure a guy into sex)
He apologized for the inconvenience and informed me that they were getting a little tired of her constantly showing up and harassing them over all of this stuff when its pretty clear im not doing anything… she was wasting their time and mine and everyone was getting tired of it. I was less surprised at this point that it had gone this far... one issue with her disorder is she cant take guilt anymore... she had a lifetime of it... as a result she lost all accountability for her actions to the point that the bad things she was doing... became the things i was apparently doing in her eyes because she couldn't take the fact she sunk so low.
I get to work that day and my coworker informed me that the junkie (she knew her too) had called my work to put in a complaint against me… saying I violated her privacy when she was a guest at my workplace (I wasn’t employed here during that time so she shot herself in the foot) then proceeded to tell my coworker that she was going to apply for a job here but didn’t feel safe with ME here and that I had sexually assaulted my wife. (I informed the cops of this slander and they informed me they’d talk to them about it, not sure if they did or not)
From there I hadn’t heard much until she got a job as a crossing guard at a school in town… a school one of my coworkers had kids going to… from there she overheard my wife saying very unpleasant things in front of the kids… the parents… and my coworker had reported her for it… didn’t hear any follow up I just thanked my coworker for being the first person to stand up for me rather than just say “Ignore her, we know the truth even if she doesn’t”
I started talking to an amazing person online recently through a dating website… go figure… I’m willing to bet if I ever started dating this person my wife will claim that I cheated on her with this person I didn’t know prior to her departure or some other crazy accusation… It’d be nice if she just left town… she is just annoying the people here… hurting me… and doing nothing to help her own reputation… People were mad that I brought her back and I don’t blame them… I hate myself for it too... stupid me though i put my heart out on the line and what did i expect from someone who couldn't handle her own physical let alone mental health and was too busy going after everyone else's to distract from her own.
submitted by Maleficent_Hall8021 to u/Maleficent_Hall8021 [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 06:30 farmer_giles91 12 Days Honeymoon in Tokyo & Kawaguchiko with tips and observations

I just had my honeymoon (originally scheduled for Jun 2020). My wife and I are in our early thirties. It’s my wife’s first time in japan while it’s my fourth. I’ve benefitted immensely from stalking Tokyo travel reddit and would like to return the favour. I’ll provide some of my tips and observations to the end (skip to the end if the itinerary doesn’t interest you), some of which I think haven’t been mentioned before.
Thank God pretty much everything went to plan, and my wife thoroughly enjoyed the trip. We spent 12 days in Japan, most of it in Tokyo and 2 nights in Kawaguchiko. Many people were surprised to know that we’d be spending most of our trip in Tokyo, but I thought it was just fine because Tokyo had a lot to offer. My wife and I aren’t big on visiting shrines or ticking tourist hotspots off a checklist. We don’t shop much, but we did a lot of it simply because it’s Japan and we bought lots of quality-of-life items (not fashion) for ourselves and others. Given how much my wife really enjoyed the trip, I think others with similar interests could find something helpful too.
Pre-trip planning
Planning during the trip
Day 0 (Wed) 17 May - Arrival at Haneda Airport to hotel in Shinjuku
Arrived in Haneda late, about 11pm. Clearance was quick but baggage took 30mins. As I wouldn't make my stipulated airport limousine timing, I had no choice but to cancel my airport limousine and take the metro to our hotel in Shinjuku. I tried Apple wallet’s Suica at first. It worked seamlessly but I felt that a physical metro card was just faster so I eventually switched over. We reached after midnight, so do let your hotel know in advance if you anticipate arriving at odd hours.
Day 1 (Thurs) - Shinjuku exploration
Originally planned to visit Tsukiji on day 1, but given that we arrived late the previous night, agreed with my wife to change the plan and spend the first day doing the Shinjuku itinerary.
Day 2 (Fri) - Kappabashi St., Fabric Town, Akihabara
Day 3 (Sat) - Cooking class in Shinjuku, Shibuya
Day 4 (Sun) - Komazawa Church, Harajuku, Shibuya
Day 5 (Mon) - Tsukiji Market, Ginza Muji/Uniqlo, Tokyo station
Day 6 (Tue) - Tokyo National Museum, Fabric town revisit, Akihabara revisit, Ochanomizu
Day 7 (Wed) - Shinjuku Gyoen Garden, Mori Museum, Ginza Wakamatsu, Shinjuku
Day 8 (Thurs) - Kawaguchiko
Day 9 (Fri) - Fuji Q Highland, Shimoyoshida Honcho St, Batting Cage
Planning for Fuji Q & Morning Jog: I didn’t plan to go to Fuji-Q highland before the trip. Always felt it a bit of a waste to visit amusement parks overseas. That’s until I realised that Fuji Q had some of the most exciting (I mean world-record-holding) rollercoasters in the world. Maybe they don't hold the records anymore, but that intrigued me enough, because most amusement parks only had 1-2 coasters. Problem was that wife is terrified, and she said cycling on the streets of Kawaguchiko was already like a coaster ride for her. Still, I'm really thankful she encouraged me to go and said she was happy waiting and taking pictures for me. So I decided I would reach at opening time, and buy time by paying for the fast passes and try their top three coasters. The night before, we felt that we had to make decisions on our itinerary as it was our last day at Kawaguchiko. If Mt Fuji still wasn’t visible the next day, we'd go to Oshino Hakkai, if it was, we could try going to Shimoyoshida to get a nice picture.
Day 10 (Sat) - Kichijoji, Ghibli Museum, Kichijoji Jazz bar
Woke up before sunrise for a run and to attempt to catch a sunrise picture of Mount Fuji. Streets were completely empty. Even ran to the famous Kawaguchiko Lawson for a picture. Headed back for an onsen bathe (note: we never used the room's shower, and always went for an onsen bath throughout our stay in Kawaguchiko as it was just too convenient). Took a 7am bus to return to Shinjuku.
Day 11 (Sun) - Tokyo Sky Tree, Shinjuku, Back to Kichijoji, Shibuya
It was a crazy day where we simply hit the places we wanted to revisit regardless of proximity. Headed to Tokyo Skytree in the morning to check out another Ghibli store in hopes of getting another Ghibli shirt; reason was because I ended up buying one at the museum I really loved (made in Japan, beautiful colour, perfect fit. I hesitated at first because I couldn't try it). If you’re not going to the Ghibli museum, this is probably the best store available for Ghibli goods. Alas, the museum's items were really quite exclusive. Headed to Shinjuku to try curry udon, then to Kichijoji to try satou beef balls and dangos and to make some purchasing decisions on some sports equipment. Then we ended up at Shibuya (my favourite place!) to the mega Don Quijote and Tokyu Hands to shop for gifts for others. It was a lovely end to our trip!
Day 12 (Mon) - Back home
Best trip ever, says my wife.
Tips for travellers
I've decided not to mention the specific food places as far as possible because I think there's more than enough recommendations available elsewhere. I also think sometimes that we get a bit fomo if we build up too many must-go spots. Enjoy the process of discovering new places! But feel free to ask me more if you like.
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2023.05.30 03:45 Junior_Button5882 Spring-heeled Jack

Spring-heeled Jack
Spring-heeled Jack is an entity in English folklore of the Victorian era. The first claimed sighting of Spring-heeled Jack was in 1837.[1] Later sightings were reported all over the United Kingdom and were especially prevalent in suburban London, the Midlands) and Scotland.[2]
There are many theories about the nature and identity of Spring-heeled Jack. This urban legend was very popular in its time, due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point that he became the topic of several works of fiction.
Spring-heeled Jack was described by people who claimed to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that "resembled red balls of fire". One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an oilskin. Many stories also mention a "Devil-like" aspect. Others said he was tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English.




In the early 19th century, there were reports of ghosts that stalked the streets of London. These human-like figures were described as pale; it was believed that they stalked and preyed on lone pedestrians. The stories told of these figures formed part of a distinct ghost tradition in London which, some writers have argued, formed the foundation of the later legend of Spring-heeled Jack.[3]
The most important of these early entities was the Hammersmith Ghost, which in 1803 and 1804 was reported in Hammersmith on the western fringes of London; it would later reappear in 1824. Another apparition, the Southampton ghost, was also reported as assaulting individuals in the night. This particular spirit bore many of the characteristics of Spring-heeled Jack, and was reported as jumping over houses and being over 10 ft (3.0 m) tall.[3]

Early reports

📷Illustration of Spring-heeled Jack, from the serial Spring-heel'd Jack: The Terror of London
The first alleged sightings of Spring-heeled Jack were made in London in 1837 and the last reported sighting is said in most of the secondary literature to have been made in Liverpool in 1904.[4][5]
According to much later accounts, in October 1837 a girl by the name of Mary Stevens was walking to Lavender Hill, where she was working as a servant, after visiting her parents in Battersea. On her way through Clapham Common, a strange figure leapt at her from a dark alley. After immobilising her with a tight grip of his arms, he began to kiss her face, while ripping her clothes and touching her flesh with his claws, which were, according to her deposition, "cold and clammy as those of a corpse". In panic, the girl screamed, making the attacker quickly flee from the scene. The commotion brought several residents who immediately launched a search for the aggressor, but he could not be found.[6]
The next day, the leaping character is said to have chosen a very different victim near Mary Stevens' home, inaugurating a method that would reappear in later reports: he jumped in the way of a passing carriage, causing the coachman to lose control, crash, and severely injure himself. Several witnesses claimed that he escaped by jumping over a 9 ft (2.7 m) high wall while cackling with a high-pitched, ringing laughter.[6]
Gradually, the news of the strange character spread, and soon the press and the public gave him the name "Spring-heeled Jack".[7]

Official recognition

📷A public session at the Mansion House, London (c. 1840).
A few months after these first sightings, on 9 January 1838, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Cowan), revealed at a public session held in the Mansion House an anonymous complaint that he had received several days earlier, which he had withheld in the hope of obtaining further information. The correspondent, who signed the letter "a resident of Peckham", wrote:
It appears that some individuals (of, as the writer believes, the highest ranks of life) have laid a wager with a mischievous and foolhardy companion, that he durst not take upon himself the task of visiting many of the villages near London in three different disguises—a ghost, a bear, and a devil; and moreover, that he will not enter a gentleman's gardens for the purpose of alarming the inmates of the house. The wager has, however, been accepted, and the unmanly villain has succeeded in depriving seven ladies of their senses, two of whom are not likely to recover, but to become burdens to their families. At one house the man rang the bell, and on the servant coming to open door, this worse than brute stood in no less dreadful figure than a spectre clad most perfectly. The consequence was that the poor girl immediately swooned, and has never from that moment been in her senses. The affair has now been going on for some time, and, strange to say, the papers are still silent on the subject. The writer has reason to believe that they have the whole history at their finger-ends but, through interested motives, are induced to remain silent.[8]
Though the Lord Mayor seemed fairly sceptical, a member of the audience confirmed that "servant girls about Kensington, Hammersmith and Ealing, tell dreadful stories of this ghost or devil". The matter was reported in The Times on 9 January, other national papers on 10 January and, on the day after that, the Lord Mayor showed a crowded gathering a pile of letters from various places in and around London complaining of similar "wicked pranks". The quantity of letters that poured into the Mansion House suggests that the stories were widespread in suburban London. One writer said several young women in Hammersmith had been frightened into "dangerous fits" and some "severely wounded by a sort of claws the miscreant wore on his hands". Another correspondent claimed that in Stockwell, Brixton, Camberwell and Vauxhall several people had died of fright and others had had fits; meanwhile, another reported that the trickster had been repeatedly seen in Lewisham and Blackheath.[citation needed]
The Lord Mayor himself was in two minds about the affair: he thought "the greatest exaggerations" had been made, and that it was quite impossible "that the ghost performs the feats of a devil upon earth", but on the other hand someone he trusted had told him of a servant girl at Forest Hill who had been scared into fits by a figure in a bear's skin; he was confident the person or persons involved in this "pantomime display" would be caught and punished.[9] The police were instructed to search for the individual responsible, and rewards were offered.[citation needed]
A peculiar report from The Brighton Gazette, which appeared in the 14 April 1838 edition of The Times, related how a gardener in Rosehill, Sussex, had been terrified by a creature of unknown nature. The Times wrote that "Spring-heeled Jack has, it seems, found his way to the Sussex coast", even though the report bore little resemblance to other accounts of Jack. The incident occurred on 13 April, when it appeared to a gardener "in the shape of a bear or some other four-footed animal". Having attracted the gardener's attention by a growl, it then climbed the garden wall and ran along it on all fours, before jumping down and chasing the gardener for some time. After terrifying the gardener, the apparition scaled the wall and made its exit.[10]

Scales and Alsop reports

📷Illustration of Spring-heeled Jack, from the 1867 serial Spring-heel'd Jack: The Terror of London
Perhaps the best known of the alleged incidents involving Spring-heeled Jack were the attacks on two teenage girls, Lucy Scales and Jane Alsop. The Alsop report was widely covered by the newspapers, including a piece in The Times,[11] while fewer reports appeared in relation to the attack on Scales. The press coverage of these two attacks helped to raise the profile of Spring-heeled Jack.[citation needed]

Alsop case

Jane Alsop reported that on the night of 19 February 1838, she answered the door of her father's house to a man claiming to be a police officer, who told her to bring a light, claiming "we have caught Spring-heeled Jack here in the lane". She brought the person a candle, and noticed that he wore a large cloak. The moment she had handed him the candle, however, he threw off the cloak and "presented a most hideous and frightful appearance", vomiting blue and white flame from his mouth while his eyes resembled "red balls of fire". Miss Alsop reported that he wore a large helmet and that his clothing, which appeared to be very tight-fitting, resembled white oilskin. Without saying a word he caught hold of her and began tearing her gown with his claws which she was certain were "of some metallic substance". She screamed for help, and managed to get away from him and ran towards the house. He caught her on the steps and tore her neck and arms with his claws. She was rescued by one of her sisters, after which her assailant fled.[4][12]

Scales case

On 28 February 1838,[13] nine days after the attack on Miss Alsop, 18-year-old Lucy Scales and her sister were returning home after visiting their brother, a butcher who lived in a respectable part of Limehouse. Miss Scales stated in her deposition to the police that as she and her sister were passing along Green Dragon Alley, they observed a person standing in an angle of the passage. She was walking in front of her sister at the time, and just as she came up to the person, who was wearing a large cloak, he spurted "a quantity of blue flame" in her face, which deprived her of her sight, and so alarmed her, that she instantly dropped to the ground, and was seized with violent fits which continued for several hours.[14]
Her brother added that on the evening in question, he had heard the loud screams of one of his sisters moments after they had left his house and on running up Green Dragon Alley he found his sister Lucy on the ground in a fit, with her sister attempting to hold and support her. She was taken home, and he then learned from his other sister what had happened. She described Lucy's assailant as being of tall, thin, and gentlemanly appearance, covered in a large cloak, and carrying a small lamp or bull's eye lantern similar to those used by the police. The individual did not speak nor did he try to lay hands on them, but instead walked quickly away. Every effort was made by the police to discover the author of these and similar outrages, and several persons were questioned, but were set free.[14]


The Times reported the alleged attack on Jane Alsop on 2 March 1838 under the heading "The Late Outrage at Old Ford".[11] This was followed with an account of the trial of one Thomas Millbank, who, immediately after the reported attack on Jane Alsop, had boasted in the Morgan's Arms that he was Spring-heeled Jack. He was arrested and tried at Lambeth Street court. The arresting officer was James Lea, who had earlier arrested William Corder, the Red Barn Murderer. Millbank had been wearing white overalls and a greatcoat, which he dropped outside the house, and the candle he dropped was also found. He escaped conviction only because Jane Alsop insisted her attacker had breathed fire, and Millbank admitted he could do no such thing. Most of the other accounts were written long after the date; contemporary newspapers do not mention them.[citation needed]
📷Ad for Spring Heeled Jack, a penny dreadful (1886)
After these incidents, Spring-heeled Jack became one of the most popular characters of the period. His alleged exploits were reported in the newspapers and became the subject of several penny dreadfuls and plays performed in the cheap theatres that abounded at the time. The devil was even renamed "Spring-heeled Jack" in some Punch and Judy shows, as recounted by Henry Mayhew in his London Labour and the London Poor:
This here is Satan,-we might say the devil, but that ain't right, and gennelfolks don't like such words. He is now commonly called 'Spring-heeled Jack;' or the 'Rossian Bear,' – that's since the war. — Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, p. 52[15]
But, even as his fame was growing, reports of Spring-heeled Jack's appearances became less frequent if more widespread. In 1843, however, a wave of sightings swept the country again. A report from Northamptonshire described him as "the very image of the Devil himself, with horns and eyes of flame", and in East Anglia reports of attacks on drivers of mail coaches became common. In July 1847 "a Spring-heeled Jack investigation" in Teignmouth, Devon led to a Captain Finch being convicted of two charges of assault against women during which he is said to have been "disguised in a skin coat, which had the appearance of bullock's hide, skullcap, horns and mask".[16] The legend was linked with the phenomenon of the "Devil's Footprints" which appeared in Devon in February 1855.[citation needed]

Last reports

In the beginning of the 1870s, Spring-heeled Jack was reported again in several places distant from each other. In November 1872, the News of the World reported that Peckham was "in a state of commotion owing to what is known as the "Peckham Ghost", a mysterious figure, quite alarming in appearance". The editorial pointed out that it was none other than "Spring-heeled Jack, who terrified a past generation".[17] Similar stories were published in The Illustrated Police News. In April and May 1873, it reported there were numerous sightings in Sheffield of the "Park Ghost", which locals also came to identify as Spring-heeled Jack.[18]


📷North Camp in Aldershot as it looked in 1866.
This news was followed by more reported sightings, until in August 1877 one of the most notable reports about Spring-heeled Jack came from a group of soldiers in Aldershot Garrison. This story went as follows: a sentry on duty at the North Camp peered into the darkness, his attention attracted by a peculiar figure "advancing towards him." The soldier issued a challenge, which went unheeded, and the figure came up beside him and delivered several slaps to his face. A guard shot at him, with no visible effect; some sources claim that the soldier may have fired blanks) at him, others that he missed or fired warning shots. The strange figure then disappeared into the surrounding darkness "with astonishing bounds."[19][20][21]
Lord Ernest Hamilton's 1922 memoir Forty Years On mentions the Aldershot appearances of Spring-heeled Jack; however, he (apparently erroneously) says that they occurred in the winter of 1879 after his regiment, the 60th Rifles, had moved to Aldershot, and that similar appearances had occurred when the regiment was barracked at Colchester in the winter of 1878. He adds that the panic became so great at Aldershot that sentries were issued ammunition and ordered to shoot "the night terror" on sight, following which the appearances ceased. Hamilton thought that the appearances were actually pranks, carried out by one of his fellow officers, a Lieutenant Alfrey.[22][23] However, there is no record of Alfrey ever being court-martialled for the offence.[24]


In the autumn of 1877, Spring-heeled Jack was reportedly seen at Newport Arch, in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, wearing a sheep skin. An angry mob supposedly chased him and cornered him, and just as in Aldershot a while before, residents fired at him to no effect. As usual, he was said to have made use of his leaping abilities to lose the crowd and disappear once again.[25]


By the end of the 19th century the reported sightings of Spring-heeled Jack were moving towards the north west of England. Around 1888, in Everton, north Liverpool, he allegedly appeared on the rooftop of Saint Francis Xavier's Church in Salisbury Street. In 1904 there were reports of appearances in nearby William Henry Street.[26]

Aftermath and impact upon Victorian popular culture

The vast urban legend built around Spring-heeled Jack influenced many aspects of Victorian life, especially in contemporary popular culture. For decades, especially in London, his name was equated with the bogeyman, as a means of scaring children into behaving by telling them if they were not good, Spring-heeled Jack would leap up and peer in at them through their bedroom windows, by night.
However, it was in fictional entertainment where the legend of Spring-heeled Jack exerted the most extensive influence, owing to his allegedly extraordinary nature. Three pamphlet publications, purportedly based on the real events, appeared almost immediately, during January and February, 1838. They were not advertised as fiction, though they likely were at least partly so. The only known copies were reported to have perished when the British Library was hit during The Blitz, but their catalog still lists the first one.
The character was written into a number of penny dreadful stories during the latter half of the 19th century, initially as a villain and then in increasingly heroic roles. By the early 1900s he was being represented as a costumed, altruistic avenger of wrongs and protector of the innocent, effectively becoming a precursor to pulp fiction and then comic book superheroes.


No one was ever caught and identified as Spring-heeled Jack; combined with the extraordinary abilities attributed to him and the very long period during which he was reportedly at large, this has led to numerous and varied theories of his nature and identity.[citation needed] While several researchers seek a normal explanation for the events, other authors explore the more fantastic details of the story to propose different kinds of paranormal speculation.[citation needed]

Sceptical positions

Sceptical investigators have dismissed the stories of Spring-heeled Jack as mass hysteria which developed around various stories of a bogeyman or devil which have been around for centuries, or from exaggerated urban myths about a man who clambered over rooftops claiming that the Devil was chasing him.[27]
📷Henry de La Poer Beresford, 3rd Marquess of Waterford (1840)
Other researchers believe that some individual(s) may have been behind its origins, being followed by imitators later on.[28] Spring-heeled Jack was widely considered not to be a supernatural creature, but rather one or more persons with a macabre sense of humour.[4] This idea matches the contents of the letter to the Lord Mayor, which accused a group of young aristocrats as the culprits, after an irresponsible wager.[4] A popular rumour circulating as early as 1840 pointed to an Irish nobleman, the Marquess of Waterford, as the main suspect.[4] Haining) suggested this may have been due to him having previously had bad experiences with women and police officers.[29]
The Marquess was frequently in the news in the late 1830s for drunken brawling, brutal jokes and vandalism, and was said to do anything for a bet; his irregular behaviour and his contempt for women earned him the title "the Mad Marquis", and it is also known that he was in the London area by the time the first incidents took place. In 1880 he was named as the perpetrator by E. Cobham Brewer, who said that the Marquess "used to amuse himself by springing on travellers unawares, to frighten them, and from time to time others have followed his silly example."[30][31] In 1842, the Marquess married and settled in Curraghmore House, County Waterford, and reportedly led an exemplary life until he died in a riding accident in 1859.[citation needed]
Sceptical investigators have asserted that the story of Spring-heeled Jack was exaggerated and altered through mass hysteria, a process in which many sociological issues may have contributed. These include unsupported rumours, superstition, oral tradition, sensationalist publications, and a folklore rich in tales of fairies and strange roguish creatures. Gossip of alleged leaping and fire-spitting powers, his alleged extraordinary features and his reputed skill in evading apprehension captured the mind of the superstitious public—increasingly so with the passing of time, which gave the impression that Spring-heeled Jack had suffered no effects from ageing. As a result, a whole urban legend was built around the character, being reflected by contemporary publications, which in turn fuelled this popular perception.[32]

Paranormal conjectures

📷Spring-heeled Jack illustrated on the cover of the 1904 serial Spring-heeled Jack
A variety of wildly speculative paranormal explanations have been proposed to explain the origin of Spring-heeled Jack, including that he was an extraterrestrial entity with a non-human appearance and features (e.g., retro-reflective red eyes, or phosphorus breath) and a superhuman agility deriving from life on a high-gravity world, with his jumping ability and strange behaviour,[33] and that he was a demon, accidentally or purposefully summoned into this world by practitioners of the occult, or who made himself manifest simply to create spiritual turmoil.[34]
Fortean authors, particularly Loren Coleman[35] and Jerome Clark,[36] list "Spring-heeled Jack" in a category named "phantom attackers", with another well-known example being the "Mad Gasser of Mattoon". Typical "phantom attackers" appear to be human, and may be perceived as prosaic criminals, but may display extraordinary abilities (as in Spring-heeled Jack's jumps, which, it is widely noted, would break the ankles of a human who replicated them) and/or cannot be caught by authorities. Victims commonly experience the "attack" in their bedrooms, homes or other seemingly secure enclosures. They may report being pinned or paralysed, or on the other hand describe a "siege" in which they fought off a persistent intruder or intruders. Many reports can readily be explained psychologically, most notably as the "Old Hag" phenomenon, recorded in folklore and recognised by psychologists as a form of hallucination. In the most problematic cases, an "attack" is witnessed by several people and substantiated by some physical evidence, but the attacker cannot be verified to exist.[citation needed]

Counterpart in Prague

A similar figure known as Pérák, the Spring Man of Prague was reported to have been seen in Czechoslovakia around 1939–1945. As writers such as Mike Dash have shown, the elusiveness and supernatural leaping abilities attributed to Pérák bear a close resemblance to those exhibited by Spring-heeled Jack, and distinct parallels can be drawn between the two entities.[28] The stories of Pérák provide a useful example of how the traits of Spring-heeled Jack have a broad cultural resonance in urban folklore. Pérák, like Spring-heeled Jack, went on to become a folklore hero, even starring in several animated superhero cartoons, fighting the SS, the earliest of which is Jiří Trnka's 1946 film Pérák a SS or Springman and the SS.[37]

In contemporary popular culture

The character of Spring-heeled Jack has been revived or referenced in a variety of 20th and 21st century media, including:
Spring-Heeled Jack (1989) – a combination prose and graphic novel by Philip Pullman in which Spring-heeled Jack saves a group of plucky orphans from the malevolent Mack the Knife.[38]
The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack (2010) – an alternate history novel by author Mark Hodder, portraying Spring-Heeled Jack as a time traveler.[39]
The Springheel Saga (2011) – a three-series audio drama produced by the Wireless Theatre Company.[40]

See also

External links

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2023.05.30 03:35 Master_Antelope What if I Rewrote Miraculous? (Season 4, Eps 1-13) (minor spoilers for S5)

Sorry I've been gone for a bit, I had a storyline to finish up and a few bad bouts of writer's block, but I managed to get to this finished up! Here's Season 4, eps 1-13! Be sure to leave some feedback!
Season 4 (March-April):
  1. Truth: First change (shared with Lies): Lukanette/Adrigami are clearly established to have been a thing over multiple weeks/a month, with the NY special being the second(?) time they’re truly established. I doubt it’s truly satisfactory, but stuff still has to work within this specific season/the larger narrative, so… eh. Second change: Andrew Hendrol is present for the concert on the Liberty (“I might have to challenge you guys to a battle of the bands one day.”) and slips off to transform into Dragonus just before Luka arrives akumatized. He absorbs Truth/Eyebeam’s (renamed Light Eye) powers then buggers off to appear later in Lies. Third change: Shadow Moth’s design. While I personally like it, it wasn’t terribly popular. So here's a slight redesign: the main body can stay the same with its purple overcoat and black lapels but make the purple a bit darker and the lapel is the same as it was on Hawk Moth. His cowl is now a chromed blue with a peacock feather “eye” right on the forehead instead of his Zuko monocle. His skin turns indigo like Mayura’s and his eyes are like Duusu’s, but more malevolent. The biggest change to his costume is the function of the tailcoat itself: its tail is like a male peacock’s train, long and vibrant blue with pinkish feather eyes in the back, and it opens and spreads in reaction to his emotions. For example, if he’s pleased or angry, it opens up and spreads out behind him, and if he’s exasperated/neutral, it folds back down. Fourth change: Marinette’s transformation into Ladybug is fixed this time around.
  2. Lies: First change: Marinette isn’t as fan-girly over the Adrien life showing, instead wondering if he’s doing alright with his schedule. Tikki and the others assure her that he’s probably used to it, and she doesn’t have to be so worried about it. Of course, this doesn’t dissuade her nerves, especially not when the modeling session the show films has Lila in it. Second change: The art room scene gets a couple added lines of dialogue (“Adrien. Our parents raised us for perfection, but we don’t need that. We’re already perfect. We’re perfect. Just show me your truth.” “But… I’m not sure what that truth is.” “Let me show you.”) before their class starts. Third change: the Hendrols are present for Prince Ali’s birthday party – it’s why Dragonus skedaddled from the fight – and Andrew manages to hide and transform without anyone noticing, avoiding Lies’ sphere. Even Dragonus can’t risk touching the sphere, even if his cravings for power – much like a vampire – don’t go away.
  3. Gang of Secrets: First change: Tikki attempts to console Marinette after she talks about worrying about Shadow Moth and Dragonus (“Well, Duusu had always been a bit chaotic. I could imagine that he might be causing Shadow Moth a problem or two. As for Dragonus… he can’t have it much better than you right now, right?”), which cuts to Andrew Hendrol and the Dark kwamis all having a dance party to unknown song that sounds suspiciously similar to “Hips Don’t Lie”. Second change: Instead of the girls just barging up, Tom and Sabine give them permission to go up and check on Marinette. “She hasn’t been answering for us, maybe she will for you.” And the dollhouse doesn’t break from Rose taking off the roof. Rather, Rose trips on something – maybe a roll of thread or a screwdriver or loose paper – and knocks into it. Same result, though, but Alya rightfully calls Mari out: “Okay, Marinette, something is really wrong with you. I’m sorry we can in uninvited, but your parents said we needed to check up on you, and I’m sorry Rose broke the house, but it was a complete accident and you’re blowing up over it. There’s more going on here than just boy trouble, isn’t there? We’re your friends, girl, we want to help.” To which Mari replies: “Maybe I don’t want your help, or your friendship anymore. Get out!” Third change: Dragonus swoops in during the fight and knocks around the Gang of Secrets himself after LB catches Lady Wifi, which inadvertently gives LB time to talk LW into rejecting her powers. Fourth change: Rena Rouge doesn’t look as off in this episode, where her skin was a few tones too light. Dunno if it was intentional, but that still could be fixed. The episode ends as normal.
  4. Mr. Pigeon 72: First change: a biggie. Alya acknowledges Lila’s number of akumatizations and says, “You know, even if you couldn’t tell me about Lila’s lying about being BFFs with Ladybug, you still could’ve told me – or anyone, for that matter – about how she threatened you in the bathroom. No one threatens my BFF with impunity.” I know a lot of people were upset with Alya’s passiveness over the whole Lila situation, but this line will have impact throughout the rest of the rework. Second change: I found this out on a whim, but it turns out city pigeons are a kind of dove, so Bob Roth wasn’t entirely wrong. Fun. Third change: Andrew Hendrol is watching the evil pigeons transform people outside and figures out he can’t go out, transformed or not, without getting touched. Vorrath: “When has that stopped you before?” Andrew: “I’ve got it.” Cut to later, he invades the fight between the illusions and Mr. Pigeon in a giant mech made out of a sentimonster that he teleported into so he could fight. Overkill doesn’t begin to cover this guy. Fourth change: I’m tempted to change Ladybug’s Lucky Charm suit to her permanent one, but if I did, certain episodes wouldn’t have as much oomph later… hmmm. For now, her suit can stay the same.
  5. Psycomedian: Honestly don’t know what to do with this one, it’s a fairly solid little episode; funny, love square-y, gives Gabriel some background and Cat Noir some spotlight. I guess I can really just add Dragonus to the mix: Psycomedian tries his emotion-gimmick on him and he no-sells it (there is a lot, and I mean a lot of lore behind Dragonus/Andrew Hendrol, so I think it would be easier to link my original fics with him up to the point I’m at for posting and you can explore his background there, as well as his powers) then proceeds to quickly skirmish with Angrybug: “There’s the fire I sensed when I absorbed your powers! Why don’t you let loose like this a little more? Finish the job!” (Again, lore makes sense if you read my main fics, I’m sorry, but he’s such a big character in my works that I don’t know how to condense it down. I’ll try but expect that later.)
  6. Furious Fu: First change: I’m really, really confused as to why Fu and Marianne are not referred to as husband/wife or at least married. They would’ve gotten married, right? It’s not a thing that I or the fandom seem to be upset about, I’m just super confused, and if anyone is willing to enlighten me, I’d be thankful. For now, Fu and Marianne are a couple, husband and wife, like they should’ve been since Backwarder or before. Second change: During the fight between LB/CN and Su-Han, guess who shows up but Dragonus. Su-Han freezes for a moment, which gives LB/CN time to snatch the Miracle Box, but Su-Han tries to pull it back. SH: “Ladybug! You did not tell me the Dark Dragon Miraculous was in Paris!” CN: “Sounds like you never asked!” Dragonus: sarcastically “Aw, now you’ve hurt my feelings.” Draws sword and points it at SH. “So you’re the Celestial Guardian I heard about. Head honcho, I’m guessing.” SH turns his aggression towards Dragonus. SH: “You and your kind are a blighted spot amongst the history of the Miraculous, demon!” Lunges. “Heavenly Retribution! The Righteous Will of the Justiciar Breaks the World’s Evil!” Dragonus dodges most of the attacks and matches a few of them, but Su-Han lands one good punch to the stomach. Dragonus: “growls Alright, then. You aren’t as much of a pushover as they are… or the Guardians at the Temple were. If we’re going to talk in metaphors, here's mine.” Flies away from SH and presses center of sword, opening a compartment and pulls out a purple pendant on a chain, emblazoned with a stylized T-rex face. “The grand unity of dinosaurs and dragons humbles the arrogant monk. Rexx, Vorrath, Unify!” (See here for appearance: https://archiveofourown.org/works/42733506/chapters/114090748 use ctrl-F and search "Thero"). “Thero Dragon flies as the Dark Guardian!” This reveals to everyone present that Dragonus has more of the Dark Miraculouses at his disposal and subsequent “oh crap” from Su-Han reveals how serious it is. By this point, LB/CN ran off, Thero Dragon taunts Su-Han and flies off, then doesn’t return until the battle with Furious Fu in the stadium, where he absorbs FF’s powers and briefly fights LB/CN before flying off again, proclaiming that “You haven’t seen the last of Thero Dragon!”. Episode ends as normal, but Su-Han will appear again this rewrite before Ephemeral.
  7. Sole Crusher: Okay, major change time again. I know a lot – almost utterly ridiculously so – of people do/did not like Zoe in the slightest. But, since I’m trying to stay fairly… fair to the source material (while adding new and interesting concepts), we are including Zoe, only her introduction is going to be quite different. Zoe has come to Paris because her time at her boarding school was cut short due to complete and total bullying, and her own father, a man we know as Robert Lee from Audrey, is too distant to think of another arrangement within NY and sends her to Paris to be with her mother. So, Zoe is going to be quite sullen/angry with her situation, and this becomes apparent when Marinette runs into her. Marinette apologizes profusely, but Zoe gives her a glare and basically tells her to bugger off. Marinette, though, recognizes something is wrong and pries just a little more (and it’s framed as Marinette trying to keep Zoe from attracting Shadow Moth’s attention while simultaneously trying to help), and Zoe reveals a bit of what’s happened – including the one friend – but not the full story nor which family she’s living with. Marinette, being the all-but-Lila-loving hero she is, preps a bag for the new girl. “Even if life has been bitter, it helps to have something sweet!” Marinette says. Zoe gives her a strange look. “What’s your angle? Everyone has one. Why’re you helping me?” Zoe asks, confused and suspicious. Marinette blinks in surprise and shrugs. “It’s the right thing to do, especially when you’re in a new place. I gave you my number if you’d like to chat.” Zoe blinks twice, clearly surprised by the generosity and seeming genuine nature of the girl in front of her. “Okay, then. I guess I should give you mine so… you know.” Marinette holds out her hand. “So I don’t lose it.” The first step to breaking Zoe’s rough exterior has been taken, but said rough exterior still persists when Zoe arrives at the hotel. Another major change: Audrey, while trying to be more supportive of Chloe, still has her preferred child, and that preferred child is Zoe, because, and this will cause drama later, “Zoe is one of only four people in my life who don’t grovel at my feet.” Chloe walks into the lounge/dining hall and hears this and immediately goes nuclear, but her rant is cut short by Zoe snapping at her to “Shut your mouth, you little brat.” Chloe is, of course, horrifically offended, but Audrey breaks it up before it escalates and sends them to get to know each other better… which, given this Zoe, goes about as well as expected. She snaps at all of Chloe’s rules, throws the diamond heels, and when Chloe calls her a “horrible half-of-a-sister”, Zoe throws it right back at her. This back-and-forth continues to school, where Zoe doesn’t bend to Chloe’s whims, but instead blows up at her again – which inadvertently does two things: it proves that Zoe isn’t like Chloe, but she’s quote-unquote “bad” in other ways. Of course, someone – Andrew Hendrol – sees this whole debacle and comments, “Such a powerful response to Chloe’s bratty self, such a temper. Oh, yesss, I like her.” There’s still “scaring Damocles” and “Marinette/girls talk about Zoe and Chloe”, but it’s less of Chloe’s influence and more “wow she’s scary but I bet Chloe had something to do with it.” Marinette and Zoe’s text still goes through, and Chloe still snaps at her for texting Marinette, but Zoe just snaps at her. “It’s none of your business, Chloe.” Chloe, on the other hand, makes it her business and goes back to her notebook, eventually landing on cockroaches in the locker (reused material, really?) to punish Marinette, and Zoe actually stumbles, a haunted look in her eyes. She staggers out of the room (taking the heels with her) and out to the roof, prepping to throw the shoes away in anger (perhaps a metaphor for something more disturbing) before losing the will to and she just breaks, resting her head against the bar and starts to cry. Andre comes up to her, they talk, and Zoe reveals her original dream of acting. “I’m good at it, but then everyone expected a different Zoe and they pressured me and I broke and now I can’t think of acting or anything without getting angry… I don’t like being angry. Not with the people who don’t deserve it, not with Chloe, not with anyone… I just want to be me, but I’m scared that the angry one is me…” Andre sighs. “You know, it might be good for you to… put a little bit of time between your past and now. Choose what you want to put in the Dream Cellar, and once you’ve… adjusted, you can come get it. Or you can leave it. The choice is yours.” Zoe’s akumatization stays the same, the general akuma battle remains the same, except for Thero Dragon Siphoning off Sole Crusher’s powers and stomping a few civilians for big kaiju battle time while taunting Chloe (“You can run, but I know I’m in your nightmares!”), which provides LB/CN enough time to find the akumatized sneakers and break them. The barge scene is a little different: Zoe explains what happened, and while her backstory with the crowds and roaches hasn’t changed too much, she adds, “I had one friend, but even she wasn’t around very much… not enough to help me when I needed it. I don’t blame her, she had a rough childhood, too, but I still pent that up. I’m sorry you had to see my outbursts. I get it if you don’t want to be my friend.” Of course, huggy happiness still ensues, the Bourgeois confrontation still happens, though Chloe’s basis for her demands is “If she stays here, she’ll make me stress out and ruin my perfect me!” and her threat is to crush you like your NY classmates did, while Audrey just rolls her eyes. “Chloe, quit being melodramatic. I understand Zoe’s not been the best sister – which is a discussion we will have later – but she’s not going back to New York now. I’m certainly not going to be responsible for her return fares.” The episode ends with Andre asking Zoe to “Call me Dad. I know your father is… distant, and I don’t know if I can replace him, but-” Zoe hugs him. “Thanks, Dad. Promise me you’ll make the choice to take your past out of the cellar, too.” The episode ends the same, with a much happier Zoe thanking Marinette for everything as a photo album (with dates so we can at least see it was a week or two between this and Queen Banana!) plays across the screen.
  8. Queen Banana: First change: Chloe’s “half-of-a-sister” bit when she bursts into the art room is now “Giving the lead role to my half-of-a-sister who just came out of nowhere a week ago?!”, and all of the talk of going back to New York is replaced with snappy but ultimately toothless posturing about ruining her life. Zoe, of course, is having none of that and snaps back at her with “The only way you’re ruining this movie is if you pry it from our hands!” The art room scene ends the same way as in the original, but the scene in Bob Roth’s office is changed a little bit: Not as much mention of going back to New York and more mention of Chloe’s pride as she says “You said our hands, which apparently includes the producer’s hands, too. Oh, I love a good loophole!” Zoe is oddly okay with this and confidently whispers to the others “We just need to outlast her, trust me.” Second change: Andrew Hendrol is part of the filming crew – “Live soundtrack design” he calls it, while Chloe calls it useless – and escapes the ‘enchanted sleep’ part of the filming, and is shown to get increasingly more annoyed with Chloe, to the point of risking his secret identity as Thero Dragon by offering to play the fire-breathing dragon suggested by Alya (“Lemme do it, I’ll knock that role out of the park, just let me actually blast her with fire.”). Third change: After Marinette’s rousing soapbox speech, Zoe pats her on the shoulder. “See what I meant about outlasting her?” Fourth change: Not to be outdone, Everett Hendrol, Andrew’s father (who is also present in the theater unlike Gabriel, showcasing the closer relationship Everett has with his son than Gabriel does with his), has also chipped in some pocket change (an amount of several thousand euros in Europe money I guess), so the film is entirely cut off from the city’s funding and Chloe’s interference, and when Chloe runs off, Everett darkly chuckles once as Andrew calls out “Cry me a river, Queen Banana!” (Everett is aware of Chloe’s antics and the Hendrols as a family have no sympathy for those, especially the rich, who act like fools). Fifth change: Again, Chloe’s revenge plan isn’t to get Zoe sent back to NY, she’s going to crush Zoe in a way only she can come up with… which is banana. Sixth change: There’s less of a “my fault” moment from Zoe and that weird “promise” bit is gone, now it’s just Zoe deciding to face down her sister and give her a reality check. “You want to know why we waited until you were gone to shoot the movie? Why we talked Gabriel Agreste into funding it? It’s because no one could stand your bratty behavior! Not because we hate you, not because anyone turned against you, but because you couldn’t swallow your pride and work as part of the team. If this is how you acted as part of Ladybug’s team when you were Queen Bee, it’s no wonder you were kicked off!” Queen Banana gets infuriated, Ladybug saves Zoe, they scooter off into the subway, where Ladybug commends Zoe’s bravery, but definitely winces a little bit regarding Queen Bee. “Chloe, for all her faults, wasn’t terrible as Queen Bee, but she really had attachment issues to the Miraculous, even after I tried… and failed to explain to her that her secret identity was compromised. But I doubt I’ll have that issue with you. Zoe Lee, (insert Miraculous speech here).” Seventh change: Once Queen Banana’s banana gun is glued up and she realizes she’s about to lose and runs, guess what, Thero Dragon drops in front of her, triggering Chloe’s trauma from the Miracle Queen incident. Thero Dragon Siphons off Queen Banana’s banana powers for the fun of it, then activates the power of the Dark T-rex Miraculous, Silver Tongue, which manifests as a purple blast of energy that, if it hits a human target, allows the T-rex holder to manipulate the minds of their target… which Thero Dragon uses to break down all of Chloe’s confidence and restraints, all the while tormenting her with things like “Your mother hates you,” “Your so-called friends despise you,” and “You’re utterly ridiculous.” Ladybug and Cat Noir start driving him back, but he managed to do enough damage as he needed. “I don’t know why you bother defending a traitor,” he says. “She wouldn’t do the same for you.” Queen Banana by now has fallen back, crying, and freeing her from Shadow Moth is an act of mercy, but Chloe still refuses the Magical Charm based on her own (self-nurtured) hatred for Ladybug and Vesperia, both for replacing her and failing to save her from Thero Dragon. Eighth change: Chloe, in her anger, swings at Zoe when she declares her hate, only for Zoe to catch it way too fast and lower Chloe’s fist while she gives her speech, and once Chloe takes the Charm and the akuma is repelled, Andre steps in and reprimands her for trying to hit Zoe, even going so far as to… “Chloe Bourgeois, your behavior is becoming completely unacceptable. You are embarrassing yourself and your family. Give me your phone. You are hereby grounded for a week.” Chloe looks shocked. “WHAT?!?” Andre is stern. “I’ve failed as a father. I should’ve tried to keep your behavior in check when you acted out, and I see I’ve failed terribly. There are so many people we will have to apologize to, especially your classmates for everything you’ve done to them.” The episode ends with Marinette and Tikki wondering if this new approach to Chloe’s behavior will do anything good.
  9. Gabriel Agreste: First change: Shadow Moth’s monologue is merged with Gabriel’s scene in the mausoleum under the mansion, first with Gabriel with his back to Emilie’s coffin before he turns to face it. Second change: When Nathalie offers Gabriel half of her sandwich, he initially refuses (“You need your strength.”) and she insists, then he crumbles (“You’ll need your strength, too.” “…Alright. Thank you.”). Third change: Andrew Hendrol is not present at the art-room fairy-tale-comparison blah thing, but Zoe’s response to Marinette’s question changes to “My mother has been attempting to treat her kids equally. Unfortunately, that means when Chloe got grounded for a week, I had to miss out on the dinner party. Had I known this was gonna happen, I would’ve put up more of a fight.” Also because of this, Zoe is NOT in Marinette’s room, but she is patched into the whole conversation thanks to Max and Markov. Fourth change: Audrey Bourgeois is throwing glares at Andre (apparently over punishing Chloe) and takes note of the solitary gold-trimmed black mask shaped like a lion’s head. “Don’t tell me he’s coming. You invited Hendrol?” “I had to. Otherwise he’d invite himself and ruin everything unexpectedly. At least now we can expect it.” Continuing the trend, after the Tsurugis arrive at the party, a shiny silver sedan rolls into the front gate, and Everett and Andrew Hendrol step out. Everett is in a pure white suit, in complete contrast to the rest of the party, and the hostility in the air is palpable as the car mogul and his son enter the foyer. “Gabriel.” “Everett. I would… like to welcome you to the party. Though the dress code specified darker clothes for all attendees.” “Really? I didn’t notice that, but even if I had, my black suits are all being cleaned. This is all I had.” “Indeed. Your mask, as requested.” Everett weighs the black lion mask in his hand. “Well, it’s not quite the cut obsidian I had hoped, but given your work, I shouldn’t be surprised.” Gabriel is imperceptibly seething. “I must ask you to stow your device-” “Neither of us will do that, and your little scrambler isn’t going to work on it, either. Your tricks, Gabriel, have been done by men greater than you a thousand times. And I’m the only one still standing.” Of course, when Chloe and Marinette sneak into the ballroom, everyone is giving Everett Hendrol a wide berth as he’s drinking something. Sixth change: The transformation into Shadow Moth from civilian form is still “Nooroo, Duusu, Unify!” I always hated that Dual Metamorphosis nonsense. Seventh change: Andrew Hendrol is fiddling on his phone – the only one that works, but Chloe can’t take it bc he already slapped her hand – when people start to leave Adrien’s room. Eighth change: Gabriel’s threat to Felix is more explicitly “I just need to snap my fingers, and you will be thrown out of here and I will tell everyone the truth about what you did and what you are. Think of your mother, Felix. She’d be devastated to see her only son hauled off for stealing from me… or the Hendrols. Everett is easy enough to provoke, and all I’d have to do is blame whatever I do on you. He’d personally see your life become pure torment.” Ninth change: Thero Dragon pounces on the Collector and Siphons from him, chuckling darkly as he does. “Clever plan, Shadow Moth, clever plan, indeed. But you aren’t fooling anyone.” Tenth change: We get a second epilogue: after Gabriel’s scene, we cut to a scene in the Hendrol mansion. Everett Hendrol is sitting at his desk, watching a chess board on the surface. The white pieces are miniature statues of him and other people, including Andrew, the black pieces are mini statues of Paris’s elite and relations: Gabriel as the king, Emilie queen, Tomoe and Amelie as bishops, Audrey and Andre as knights, Bob Roth and one unknown person as castles, and the pawns are their kids (Adrien/Chloe/Kagami/Felix/XY and three blank ones). The pieces are all at rest like the beginning of a game, but the queen (Emilie) and one castle (as yet unknown) are lying down. Everett just smirks, moves one of the white pieces a space forward, then a black piece. Everett Hendrol declared war.
  10. Mega Leech: First change: Polymouse or Manimouse for Mylene’s super-name? I want public opinion on this. Second change: Andrew Hendrol is present at the “Stop Project Oxygen” rally and reveals a bit more depth to his character (and potentially a motivation for Thero Dragon): he is very conscientious about the environment, and he becomes increasingly annoyed with the ad and brutally picks it apart. “Two of my best friends’ parents work for the Hendrol Motors Advertising Division and this is exactly what they said a bad ad looks like. Also, Paris’s investors are brainless idiots who barely know how to stand up for themselves, let alone save the planet.” And he snaps at Chloe. “Wasting water? You mean like you do by existing? And don’t get your dad in this, my dad would destroy him.” All in all, he sides with Mylene first. “I’m getting my dad to counter-fund this scheme, he’s already gone to war.” Andrew then leaves right before the Minidiktators show up to transform into Thero Dragon. “After all, they can’t get me if my ears are covered.” Thero Dragon is just brutally attacking Mega Leech by himself… revealing a scary level of contempt for sentimonsters. Third change: The Minidiktator possessing Cat Noir is expelled through his real ear, not the cat one. Fourth change: Ladybug’s suit doesn’t weirdly swap between Lucky Charm suit and normal near the end, it just stays normal. The rest of the episode… ends as normal. Even that scene at the end.
  11. Guiltrip: I don’t really have too many problems with this episode, nor do I really remember any complaints about (though I’m sure I’ll be corrected in the comments), the most I can really think of is adjusting it to fit my current ideas. So… First change: Juleka speaks clearly and no one’s parroting her words. Second change: While the first half of the episode plays out the same, Andrew Hendrol is noticeably absent, but once the second half starts, he shows up and he’s very unhappy/unpleasant to be around. It’s explained that he had to take a day off for stomach flu (and, little lore bit, he’s always very temperamental after a bout of sickness). As such, he doesn’t have much in the way of patience for the second half’s antics, but unlike Chloe, he’s quietly stewing and not drawing too much attention to himself. This extends to the later fight within Guiltrip (after he leaves the science lab when he realizes the only ones left are him, Chloe, Sabrina and Lila), as his negative emotions as Thero Dragon end up being so bad that Guiltrip gets hurt by them… and he flies off the handle once a bubble pops against him. He cools off eventually, but yeah. Third change: No animation errors. God, this episode was a doozy.
  12. Crocoduel: First change: Luka acknowledges that Marinette hasn’t been around since Zoe first joined the group instead of not seeing her since their breakup. Gotta love the writers forgetting characters being in places at times ugh. Second change: Fix the animation errors. Third change: About half the partygoers (Mylene/Ivan/Rose/Nino/Alya) know that Jagged Stone is the twins’ father. Fourth change: The sky doesn’t immediately become overcast the moment Jagged and Anarka are akumatized. That was just weird. Fifth change: When Cat Noir complains that he and Ladybug don’t have wings, Thero Dragon flies over them and taunts “But I do!”, he flies up, Siphons from Guitar Villain and Captain Hardrock, then pits them further against each other for giggles. Then he reappears to Siphon off Purple Tigress’s power. Sixth change: The Tiger Miraculous transformation phrase is “Paint my Stripes!” not “Stripes On!”. The episode ends otherwise normally.
  13. Optigami: First change: As an extra precaution to keep potential suspicion from Ladybug away, Gabriel makes sure Audrey invites Adrien’s entire class plus two extra invitations that go to Luka and Kagami. Second change: The first elevator bit with the entire class is stupid, so it’s getting changed to “Andrew Hendrol (who is in the elevator) rolls his eyes and punches the close button while Marinette tries to avoid Alya”. Third change: Andrew Hendrol slips out just before Audrey gets akumatized and discreetly transforms into Thero Dragon, and he immediately picks up on the smell of Shadow Moth in the building. He starts prowling around the building, waiting for the right moment to strike. This moment comes when Style Queen is about to hit the elevator Marinette/Adrien are trapped in, just before Shadow Moth calls her off. He blindsides her with his clamp weapon, then disarms her (literally) with his sword before Voyaging to the floor below, cackling the whole time. Fifth change: When Ladybug realizes that “Nino” is actually a sentimonster and calls out Shadow Moth, “Nino” starts laughing as his eyes glow gold and his body starts to deform into a monstrous shape. Thero Dragon’s voice starts echoing out of it. “And to think you almost got revealed because of an ally’s actions, Ladybug,” he said. “First the Turtle brought out without your explicit orders, then what? Someone betrays you for the Miracle Box? The only way to protect what you hold dear is this: ally yourself with me, and I can grant you access to powers you could only dream of. Consider my offer, because if the trend continues, you might lose more than just your privacy because of a fake butterfly.” Ladybug runs off to get the Turtle Miraculous Cataclysmed. Sixth change: Marinette is a little shaken by the end of the episode and some of her words are a little more barbed than intended, to which she apologizes and offers a solution to the problem faced that day, giving Alya the Fox Miraculous full-time, but gives her a few rules to follow. “If I find out you broke one, I’m taking the Miraculous back. Understand?” The episode ends pretty much the same. Oh, and that phone in the Miracle Box container? It’s (a little clunkily) mentioned that Marinette created the one during a “random creation attempt” session with Alya.
So, yeah. Now that I've finished working on my main Dragonus storyline and summer's on the way, I might be able to get the second half (plus the halves of Season 5!) out relatively quickly. As I promised, here is the link to the main Dragonus storyline, I'm almost finished posting it all. It's a divergence from Season 3 with some concepts pulled from the NY special and Season 4/5, but all in all it's a pretty good read (I don't exactly redeem Chloe as much as punch her until she understands that she's been horrible but she definitely becomes better): https://archiveofourown.org/series/2798386
Give me feedback, please! Your feedback helps me make this better!
submitted by Master_Antelope to miraculousladybug [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 22:49 Munchulax [US][Selling] Miscellaneous volumes for sale

Hi, I am trying to clear out some miscellaneous volumes I no longer need!
Prices don't include shipping, but after $50, I'll take $5 off shipping. Please feel free to make offers, especially if you are bundling many volumes! Thank you!
Timestamp: https://imgur.com/a/XnEwqnU I tried my best to photograph any noticeable defects.
Volume Price Condition Condition Notes
5 Centimeters Per Second $7.50 G3
Adachi and Shimamura Manga 1 $6.00 G4 Crease on front cover, scratch on back cover
After the Rain 1 $6.00 G3
Animal Crossing: New Horizons 1-3 $14.00 G4
Barakamon 18+1 $8.00 G4 Imperfect cover
BL Metamorphosis 2 $6.00 G4 Remainder mark
BL Metamorphosis 4 $6.00 G4 Remainder mark
Chio’s School Road 1 $4.00 G2 Spine impact damage
Flying Witch 1 $5.00 G3
Gakuen Polizi 1 $5.00 G3 Yellowing, sticker on back
Goodbye, My Rose Garden 2 $7.50 G4 Remainder mark on bottom
Hakumei and Mikochi: Tiny Little Life in the Woods 8 $8.00 G4
Horimiya 1 $6.00 G4 Back cover has slight crease, wouldn't show up in photo
Horimiya 12 $6.00 G5
Horimiya 13 $6.00 G4 Front cover has slight crease
Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible 3 $6.00 G4 Dent on back cover
Laid-Back Camp 1 $6.50 G4
Laid-Back Camp 1 $6.50 G4
Laid-Back Camp 4 $7.00 G5
Laid-Back Camp 10 $7.00 G5
Laid-Back Camp 11 $7.00 G4
Laid-Back Camp 12 $7.00 G4
My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected 7.5 $7.50 G4 Spine tear
Pokémon Adventures Collector's Edition 2 $8.00 G4 Back cover creased
Ran and the Gray World 7 $6.00 G3 Front cover creased
Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie 1 $6.50 G4
The Way of the Househusband 5 $6.50 G4 Scratch on back cover
Toilet-bound Hanako-kun 1 $6.00 G4
Attack on Titan 25 & 26, My Hero Academia 11 & 21, One-Punch Man 16 $4.50 ea or $20 for all 5 G3-G4​
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2023.05.29 19:10 Frostdraken The First true Voyagers: Chapter 26 (Part 2)

Amid a galaxy of brutal chaos there are stories to be told, tales of valor and justice, of fear and despair. But amid these stories are the guttering flames of adventures untold, the potential for a universe of entertainment and savage joyous fun. The Oblivion Cycle embodies just this kind of crafted chaos, creating the potential for creative exploits and raucous tales. If you are new to the TOC setting feel free to join the community at TheOblivionCycle to check out some of the background lore or to discuss themes with other readers. I thank you all for your support and continued willingness to read, as always, Please Enjoy!
+ Chapter 1 + Part 1 of Chapter 26 + Next +
Continued From Part 1 of Chapter 26
Leon walked over towards Myung, her helmet was on and calibrated as well from what he could see. She turned and looked at him before asking over the internal comms “Are we almost ready?”
Leon gave her a clunky thumbs up and a smile before he asked “Myung, how are you feeling? That descent was a little rough, I know you don't like flying very much.”
He saw her give him a little head shake inside her helmet before she answered him. “I don’t know. I feel ready to go, but I am feeling a little shook.” she admitted.
Leon reached over and patted her suited shoulder. “Don’t worry too much about it, we are all here together right?” she smiled at the comment and nodded “So, if anything happens we will all be there to help you. No problems right?”
She repeated “No problems. Thanks Leon.” He gave her another firm shoulder slap and walked to the exit ramp. The airlock was currently closed in preparation for a decontamination run. It would try and do its best to decontaminate their suits before they exited to the surface.
He turned and looked across the crew. Oliver and Dr. Kimathi stood shoulder to shoulder, looking ready for anything. Joice was standing next to him and Myung had moved over towards him as well. Chad had returned to the cockpit with Samuel and would be monitoring their condition remotely. If something unthinkable were to happen, they would be standing by to move the shuttle to assist if possible.
Satisfied that everyone seemed ready he spoke to them “Okay. This is a big moment, nothing like this has ever been attempted in human history before. I want you all to know that there is nobody else in the universe I would rather have by my side, well except for all of you that is. But we had to leave some of you back on the ship.” he chuckled.
Continuing on he spoke “What I am saying is that you are the best crew I could have ever imagined you would be. I am proud to be in charge of such outstanding people. Ok, enough feelings shit, let's do this.” he finished. He heard a few overlapping voices agreeing with him as he turned and adjusted his G402-K across his chest and stepped into the decontamination chamber.
Leon moved into the airlock and felt the door close behind him via the subtle vibrations in the deck underfoot. He raised his arms and took a wide stance to minimize any creases in his armoured suit. A second later the room turned dark as a subtle purple glow emanated from seemingly everywhere. The high intensity ultraviolet light bath was accompanied by a fine mist of antimicrobials and pure undiluted hydrogen peroxide. The harsh chemicals were then washed from his suit by a quick deluge of pure deionized water that washed the contaminants down a drain at his feet. His suit’s visor darkened as the booth was lit again this time by harsh orange light as the heat lamps quickly dried his suit.
The insulation kept him from feeling any of it and he lowered his arms as the light switched to a subtle green and the outer airlock opened. He raised a hand to block out the bright light that suddenly streamed into his eyes. As his visor automatically polarized itself he stepped forwards and let the airlock close behind him.
He looked around, his eyes wide with wonder. In front of him was a small stand of bushes and a tree that looked similar to anything he might have seen back on Earth except for the slight orangish tint to its bark. He glanced to his left and saw more of the low bushes next to some low brackish looking water, and over the water he saw movement. Insect-like creatures in their thousands flitted too and fro above the low weeds, seemingly unconcerned about the aliens that had landed in their midst.
He smiled, real life aliens, close enough to touch. He looked down at the short ramp that led to the dark soil of the planet itself. He took a few steps forwards till he was on the cusp of reaching the planet’s surface itself. He cleared his mind, this moment would likely go down in history. He needed to say something symbolic to mark the occasion, in a flash the words came to his mind as if they had been hiding there all along.
He took a deep breath and stepped forwards. As his foot touched the ground he spoke “All of the chaos and pain of our past has led us as a species to this exact moment. Billions lived and died bound to the mother Earth, toiling in her loving embrace. But no more, we are no longer bound to her fate. We are free.”
A tear welled in the corner of his eye. The significance of the moment was not lost on him. It was a nice thing to say he thought, a reminder of their origins while imagining their future. He smiled as he took a few more steps. He turned to the shuttle in time to see Joice step from the airlock and walk down the ramp. Like him she paused at the foot and looked around in wonder.
She spoke too as she stepped off “Another world. Are we the aliens now?” she chuckled. Leon laughed too at her comment, it was true.
It took a few more minutes for the rest of the crew to exit the ship, once they were all together on the ground and had acclimated to their new reality Leon spoke. “Okay. We are on an alien planet, but don't let that go to your heads. Remember, we are the invaders here. Like as not everything remotely hostile is going to try and take a piece out of us, so be wary. Joice and I are armed, so if we encounter any large threats try and clear the line of fire. Understood?”
A chorus of agreement met his statement and he nodded. Joice spoke up “Suit checks, make sure everything is green. Pressure, oxygen levels, suit integrity. I don't want any excuses, if you have a problem let's fix it here.” She commanded.
Leon flicked his eyes to the suit diagnostic and sent the results to Joice. After another few minutes of checks, everyone seemed to be in the green.
Leon unslung his rifle and motioned towards a conspicuous outcropping of rocks in the middle distance. “Everyone ready? Okay, let's move out. We are going to put some distance between us and the shuttle as it likely scared off anything interesting when we landed.”
Joice stepped to his side and Taylor’s voice spoke over the link. “Good luck guys, we will be with you every step of the way. I’m like your little guardian angel.” The man joked.
Oliver responded “Taylor, if you were my guardian angel I would be very cautious.”
Taylor grumbled a little and said “Well, I’m here regardless. Keep your eyes and ears open, we don't have any idea what's down there.”
Leon stepped off the hardened and cleared dirt left from the SSV’s descent and immediately his armoured boot sank into thick clinging mud.
“Shit…” he muttered under his breath. Turning to look at the others he warned “The ground gets unstable really fast over here, watch your step.”
Leon kept walking, testing his steps and moving along the slightly more solid areas of the noxious swamp. After ten minutes of this trudging they had finally reached the large rock outcropping. He lifted a hand to call for a rest and the others stopped nearby.
Leon took a swig of water from the small tube near his throat, the cool liquid soothing his parched throat. The suit’s were designed to keep the internal atmosphere cool and dry. While that did wonders for keeping him from turning into a swamp inside the suit as well, it made his mouth somewhat dry.
He turned and took a breath saying “Okay, that wasn't too bad. How are you holding up?” he asked the other four following behind him.
Joice gave him a thumbs up before turning to look closely at some sort of moss cover growing on the rocks. Myung was breathing heavily, her small frame having to work a little harder to get the bulky armoured environment suit to move. She raised a hand and made a gesture saying to give her a minute.
Leon looked towards Oliver and Dr. Kimathi. The big Australian man was having no trouble at all it seemed, he looked even fresher than Leon himself felt. Not exactly surprised by the fact, Leon took note of their location and then opened a direct link to the ship.
“Leon to Taylor, come in.” he said quickly.
Taylor’s voice responded almost immediately. “There you are, I was expecting to get a report from you sooner than that. How are things on the ground captain?” he asked in a genuine tone.
Leon leaned back up against the rocks and looked around. The area behind them was a long stretch of low grassy swampland, their tracks disappearing into the muck soon after they had passed. He said “Well, it's been no walk in the park that's for sure. The ground seems to be very soft and the humidity in the air is hovering around a perpetual eighty percent. If we didn't have these environmental suits on then this would be a real pain in the ass for sure.” he said honestly.
Taylor seemed to chuckle though the sound was distorted by the connection fizzing slightly. His voice squirmed through the speaker amid the interference as he said “I’m starting to lose you, you might need to set up a reception rod where you are.”
Leon nodded to himself and said “Thanks for the heads up.” switching back to the local comms net he remarked “Okay, we are going to keep moving unless someone sees something of great interest. Joice, I'm looking at you.” he said with a chuckle as the blond haired woman stood up suddenly. A curious look on her face as she had been messing with the moss growth.
Tucking away some small sample of the yellowish plant she walked towards him and motioned into the distance. “I want to try and make it to that grove.” She said.
Leon turned and looked in the direction she had indicated, in the distance he could see a grove of trees. They were spindly and dark, their bark an almost olive black with yellow green leaves. He cocked his head slightly as he shrugged.
“That looks as good as any location to set up. Lead the way Joice, I'll cover the rear.” Leon said with a gesture towards the front of the line.
As Joice and Myung started walking towards the nearby grove, Leon turned to Oliver and asked “Oliver, can you give me a reception spike?”
Oliver nodded inside his helmet and pulled a small device from his belt pouch. It was a small rod-like device about the thickness of a marker but longer. He walked the side of the boulder pile and stabbed it into a crevice in the rocks. With a flick of his eyes he activated a remote link to it and watched as its slightly larger top unfolded like a sunflower.
After a few seconds he was looking at a tiny spinning receiver antenna and a general broadcast dish. The relay would have battery power for about twelve hours if they used it sparingly. Plenty of time to cover their short expedition.
Oliver took off after Dr. Kimathi as Leon set up the spike, a few moments later he had finished and he tested the connection to the ship once more. “Taylor, this is Leon, come in please.”
Taylor’s voice answered him, much clearer than it had been before. “I read you loud and clear Leon, I take it you set up a relay?” The man asked unnecessarily.
Leon just gave him an affirmative and asked “Is there anything of value or interest in our area that you can see from the orbiter?”
The younger man was silent for a second before replying, “No. Nothing that stands out from a few thousand miles at least. I wish you the best of luck.” The link cut from the other side and Leon snorted.
As long as they had something better to do on the ship than watch all of history being made, he might as well get walking. He grumbled slightly to himself in mild frustration. Why couldn't they have set down on a nice ocean beach world or at least a world that had solid ground. Not this ever present sticky mud that seemed to coat everything in existence.
He sighed inside his climate controlled suit and started walking after the group, his G402-K gripped tightly in his hands. They were starting to get far enough away from the SSV that there was the very real potential for larger and potentially predatory animals to appear.
The planet had been listed as life-bearing in the Aori data cores, but it hadn't been listed as colonised. He had to believe there was a reason for that. It could be as simple as the planet being newly discovered before the war with the Ruiners had happened, but he had a gut feeling that it was more than that. The planet was dangerous, he could tell just by the stillness.
He looked around as he caught up to the others, the air was heavy with moisture and still, no wind moved the branches in the trees or stirred the surface of the many brackish ponds. The planet didn't seem to have a very active weather system, they hadn't seen any geological activity to speak of on the way down nor had the orbiter picked up on any mountain ranges. It was possible that they were just in a bad location, but without any active geological processes, things would never change.
Lowlands would remain lowlands forever and slight hills would be worn down over eons till the entire planet was a single vast marshland filled with nothing but trilling insects and the remains of larger plant species. From what he could see there were a few types of scraggly tree that still stubbornly clung to existence despite the murky living conditions.
After another few minutes of trudging through the thick mud and slime they had finally reached the small copse and stopped. Joice and Myung took no time to start getting their equipment set up, pulling various specimen jars and small analyzers from their packs.
Leon nodded to Dr. Kimathi and waved her over. She complied and said “Yes Leon?”
He took a second to scan the area again but saw nothing larger than some buzzing insects hiding in the shade. Feeling a little more secure he asked her “What do you think of this place? Does something feel a little off to you?”
She looked around and then replied smoothly “No, perhaps the lack of wind? I guess that would make sense though, this world has very little in the way of topography.” She shrugged inside her suit as she said it, the motion almost entirely absorbed by the bulky environmental garb.
He shook his head again, still not able to ease the feeling that they were in danger from his mind.
He turned around quickly as if trying to catch a stalker, and saw nothing once more. Dr. Kimathi looked him up and down and muttered “Paranoia… Look. Leon, if there is something…” she started to say but stopped as Oliver shouted in alarm and pain.
Leon immediately brought his rifle to an upright position, his muscles tense and his mind alert for the slightest danger. What he saw baffled him for a second, Oliver was thrashing in the shallow water near the base of one of the trees. What looked like a vine wrapped around his right leg.
It took him a few precious seconds to relise that it wasnt a vine at all, it was actually some manner of snake-like creature. It was wrapped around the man’s leg, its head near his thigh. It looked like it had bitten through the unarmoured part of Oliver’s suit.
Oliver yelled again and the thing released him and splashed into the water near Myung. The small woman screamed and started to climb one of the scraggly trees as the alien viper started to swim off towards one of the larger ones.
Dr. Kimathi screeched “Don’t let it get away, If it’s venomous I will need it to make antivenom!”
Joice stood stock still, gun aimed at the creature as it moved towards her. She seemed to be frozen in fear, not moving at all. Leon swore as he broke into a sort of stumbling run. The blood rushing in his ears was as loud as thunder as he made a dive for the creature before it could cause any more harm. He made a grab for the serpent and was rewarded with the feel of something round and distinctly snakish in his hand. He grunted in surprise as he felt something press against his palm almost like the flat of a tiny hand before the creature wriggled free of his grip.
He sloshed around for a moment before spotting it again. This time it was making a beeline for the same large tree he had noted earlier, likely its den. He pushed all other thoughts out of his head as he sprinted after the elusive animal. His legs burned from walking all morning in the thick mud and carrying the weight of the heavy environmental suit. His lungs ached as the clinically sterile air was pumped from the compressor on his back.
With one last herculean effort he threw himself bodily at the tree to try and block the entrance to the thing’s burrow while also making another desperate attempt to ensnare it.
He hit the surface of the scummy water and felt something hard smash into his side knocking the wind from his biological lung. His bionic lung remained unaffected allowing him to retain enough presence of mind to latch onto the writing form partially trapped underneath his body.
He heard an angry hiss followed by pressure on his cybernetic right arm. Lifting it up out of the water fully, his eyes widened as he saw the entire length of the serpent-like animal wrapped around his arm, its fangs buried deep in the fabric of his suit.
He chuckled as he got to his feet and said to the thing “Ha, you wont get me like that, that arm isn't something you can hurt.”
Dr.Kimathi rushed to his side carrying one of the large specimen bags. She held it open as Leon carefully stuck his arm inside.
No sooner had the creature’s head passed the lip of the bag then it let go and tried to escape, but Dr. Kimathi was too fast, sealing the bag and holding it up as it writhed angrilly. Hisses and something that sounded almost like an angry duck issued from it as Leon rushed over to where Oliver was leaning against a tree, his injured leg held up in the air as he used the trunk for support.
“Oliver, are you alright?” He asked the tall man anxiously.
Oliver shook his head and groaned “No, I don't think so. My leg is burning, I think that thing injected me with some sort of venom. I can feel it spreading up my leg.” he said in a pained voice.
Leon turned to Joice and shouted “Joice, get Samuel to evac us right now!” The slightly shell shocked woman nodded her head inside her armored suit and immediately started talking over a secure line.
Leon grabbed Oliver’s shoulder and asked him “Can you walk?” When Oliver nodded he continued “Okay, that’s good. We need to get to a clearing so the SSV can pick us up.”
He took a limping step with the man, his bruised leg and side smarting heavily. As he took another step he felt the weight on his shoulder lessen and turned to see Dr. Kimathi holding Oliver’s other shoulder. He gave her what he hoped wasn't too pained of a smile and continued walking the injured man towards the light.
Myung and Joice followed behind, Joice’s gun raised and Myung holding the still squirming sack containing the little monster.
It took them several precious minutes longer to exit the small wood than it had for them to enter it, Oliver’s pained noises driving Leon onwards despite the mounting pain in his side. It felt like he had dislocated something, potentially even fractured a rib or two in his mad dash to apprehend Oliver’s attacker.
He cursed under his breath. What a colossal fuckup this entire venture had turned into. He should have expected something to go wrong, the law of Murphy notwithstanding, it was just his luck that something would have happened. Just as things started falling into place there always arose some ugly problems.
He reached the open swamp, the trees falling away behind them as the bright sun once more filled his eyes. He heard another sound though, not the whispering of the trees behind him or the slurping of their footsteps, but more of a distant roar. The sound got louder and more pronounced till he looked up and saw the small dark form of the shuttle approaching them at high speed.
It was a measure of Leon’s trust in Samuel’s piloting skills that he didn’t flinch as the craft screamed towards them before executing a bone liquifying high G maneuver to almost instantly bleed off excess speed. With a loud hiss the SSV touched down onto the muddy ground and sunk almost half a meter into the muck. The side hatch opened and Leon started towards it.
He stopped at the bottom of the ramp and swore. Speaking into the comm network he said “Chad, you are going to have to disengage the decontamination airlock. Oliver isn't going to be able to walk himself through and we can't wait for the full decontamination process.”
Chad spoke up in response, his voice a little tense from stress. “Okay Leon, what the hell happened out there?”
Leon shook his head angrily even though he knew the man wouldn't see it and spat a little aggressively, the pain in his side growing with every step. “Just do your goddamn job right now. There will be time to explain it politely when we get back to the ship.” he turned to the others and shouted “Move your asses, we need to go now!”
To the credit of everyone on the ground they were all in the shuttle and strapped in in less than two minutes. Leon felt the SSV lift off the ground with its powerful jets. The shaking of the shuttle making him grind his teeth in pain.
Oliver sat across from him with Dr. Kimathi on one side and Joice on the other. Leon squinted his eyes in pain as the shuttle started to hit turbulence again, he had definitely dislocated something in his side.
He gasped out loud causing Myung to look over at him and ask “Leon? Are you alright? You don't look so good.”
Leon raised his right arm to give her a thumbs up when a particularly violent tremor shook the shuttle like a dog would shake a rat.
Leon’s side spiked in pain so intense he stopped breathing. His eyes rolled into the back of his head as he passed out, the last thing he heard before the swirling pain overwhelmed him was Myung yelling for Dr. Kimathi.

End of Transmission==
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2023.05.29 15:52 sprungy Things to do: May 29 - June 4

May 30
Group bike ride w/TBN
Historic Ashbridges Bay history walk
All About the Historic Beaches history walk
Blue Jays vs Brewers @ SkyDome. $1 hot dog night
Blue Jays game w/Meetup
$9.99 True Romance @ Cineplex
Unforgiven @ Revue Cinema
The Machine w/Meetup
🎱 Pool and Drinks Social @ Dundas West Shoxs Billiard Lounge 🎱
Let's read "Birnam Wood" by Eleanor Catton
Recreational Volleyball, 6-8 pm
Casino bus to Niagara Falls
SiriusXM free preview. Until June 5
Lovejoy @ Danforth Music Hall
Wunderhorse @ Velvet Underground
TIFA: Max Porter Presents Shy @ TD Music Hall
Braids ~Euphoric Recall~ String Ensemble @ Paradise Theatre
Nu music night @ Horseshoe Tavern
90s hip hop night @ Bovine Sex Club
Isaia Huron @ Drake Underground
JAZZ.FM91 Sound of Jazz Concert Series: A Celebration of Nimmons 'N' 100
Inside Out Festival. Until June 4
Trivia @ Stout Irish
General Trivia at Snakes & Lattes Annex
Something Something Trivia Night
Trivia Tuesdays at Radical Road
The Rec Room Trivia League - Mississauga
It's Tricky Trivia at Folly Brewpub
It's Tricky Trivia at Rorschach Brewing Co.
Weekly trivia roundup
Mirvish lottery for $19 discounted Harry Potter tickets
Without Whom @ Alumnae Theatre
Cirque du Soleil Kooza. Until June 18
Disney Animation: Immersive Experience Toronto
Stranger Things : The Experience
The Office Experience @ Yorkdale Mall
Jurassic World The Exhibition @ Square One
Registration continues for JAM sports leagues
Yoga at ExPlace
Slow Flow Yoga for Black Womxn
YMCA free 7-day trial pass
GoodLife Fitness free 7-day trial pass
Presto card discounts. Various attractions, shows , restaurants
Free admission to various attractions via TPL Map Pass Program
Toronto History Museums free admission
Spring Flower Show @ Centennial Park Conservatory. Free admission
Self guided Discovery Tours
Seeing the Invisible An Outdoor Augmented Reality Exhibition
Volunteer w/Bike Brigade
Volunteer w/Nature Stewards to remove invasive plants
Old Dada @ Absolute Comedy
$5 comedy @ Yuk Yuks
Skyline's The Limit @ Second City
Double penetration fantasy night @ Oasis
Everything is purple party @ M4
$2.99 KFC Tuesday special. Ends today
$12 wing special @ St Louis
50% off wings @ Wild Wing. Drink purchase required
50% off wings @ Crown and Dragon. After 5PM. Drink purchase required
$10 unlimited toppings @ Pi . Co
Summer drink days @ McDonald's. Until Sept 4
Birthday freebies. Marble Slab, and more

May 31
Crazy Laneways of Toronto, & Graffiti Alley history walk
City Architecture: Queen Street West history walk
ULTIMATE FRISBEE All Genders Welcome! No Experience Necessary
Cycling - Tommy Thompson & Ashbridge's - 20+KM INTERMEDIATE
Aga Khan Museum free admission after 4PM
Gardiner Museum free admission after 4PM
AGO free admission after 6PM
Blue Jays vs Brewers @ SkyDome
Ella Mai @ History
Embrace Presents: Elder @ Lee's Palace
Opera revue burlesque show @ Dakota Tavern
$9.99 True Romance @ Cineplex
Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno. Free screening @ Alliance Francaise
Horse racing @ Woodbine. Free admission and parking
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Kitchener Panthers. Free baseball @ Christie Pits
Online trivia
Brass Facts trivia w/Meetup
Karaoke @ Penny's
Karaoke Wednesdays The Irish Shebeen Pub Hosted by KJ Sharon
Bingo @ Flash On Church
Old Dada @ Absolute Comedy
Skyline's The Limit @ Second City
comedy @ Yuk Yuks
June 1
Mayoral candidates @ OCAD
Horse racing @ Woodbine. Free admission and parking
Bingo @ Flash On Church
$9.99 True Romance @ Cineplex
Sunglaciers @ Monarch Tavern
Karaoke @ Penny's
comedy @ Yuk Yuks
Old Dada @ Absolute Comedy
Skyline's The Limit @ Second City
June 2
Horse racing @ Woodbine. Free admission and parking
Bus to Casino Rama
MOCA. Free admission after 5PM
Good Kid @ Opera House
Death Cab for Cutie @ Massey Hall
Saddle Up. Classic country party @ Owls Club
Saddle Up w/Meetup
Bingo @ Flash On Church
Karaoke Fridays Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub Hosted by KJ Sharon
Karaoke @ Hermie's
Karaoke @ Mimico Pub and Grill
Karaoke @ On the Rocks
Karaoke @ Royal Canadian Legion 614
Karaoke @ Zak's Bar and Grill
Karaoke @ Fox and Fiddle Wellesley
Karaoke @ Alice's Place
Mike Lynch @ Yuk Yuks
Old Dada @ Absolute Comedy
Skyline's The Limit @ Second City
Young Cucks dark comedy show
Charity Comedy to benefit Bike for Brain Health
June 3
$10/$15 unlimited GO Transit
Bus to Casino Rama
Horse racing @ Woodbine. Free admission and parking
$2.99 Tom & Jerry @ Cineplex
An Evening of Musical Mantras
Death Cab for Cutie @ Massey Hall
Bingo @ Flash On Church
Mike Lynch @ Yuk Yuks
Old Dada @ Absolute Comedy
Skyline's The Limit @ Second City
Comedy Showcase @ Nothing Fancy
June 4
$10/$15 unlimited GO Transit
Bus to Casino Rama
Bata Shoe Museum free admission
Horse racing @ Woodbine. Free admission and parking
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Hamilton Cardinals. Free baseball @ Christie Pits
Bingo @ Flash On Church
Karaoke @ Toby's
Free drop-in kickball @ Alexandra Park. Beginners welcome
$18.88 unlimited evening bowling @ Splitsville
Old Dada @ Absolute Comedy
Skyline's The Limit @ Second City
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2023.05.29 12:57 maximusaemilius Two aliens visit a very old forest on earth.

"My family has lived in these mountains for more than three thousand years."
"How can you be sure of that?”
"Because we have records going back two thousand years and then records of my family's tribe before that. For that reason, no one knows these mountains better than I do, and even then, I still don't know everything there is to know. Every time I go out in the woods, I feel something new."
Krill glanced over at Sunny.
If he could raise an eyebrow he would have.
Of all the places they could go on their weekend, and she had decided to go on a guided hike. This would be just like something Adam would do.
He thought of all the people he wouldn't have to remind Sunny how dangerous Earth forests were with their trees, and animals, and poisonous plants, and, well, pretty much everything.
"Don't give me that look, Krill. You know if Adam was here, he would take us out to do the same thing, and you needed to quit moping anyway. He's going to be back soon."
Krill crossed his arms emphatically,
"I am not moping."
"You are too moping, and it's honestly kind of pathetic. You get all cranky when Adam isn't around."
”Fuck you!”
”Why are you so aggressive? Don’t worry, Adam will be fine! Why do you worry so much?”
"That's because I worry about his health and safety."
"He's a grown man."
"He's a man child."
”Awww is momma Krill missing his little Adam?”
”Fuck you too… Also you know I’m right about that.”
”I didn’t say you weren’t.”
Krill sighed and turned back to look at their guide who was staring on in mild amusement.
This human had dark tan skin, deep brown eyes and long dark hair pulled back from his face. He wore a green ranger's uniform, but she knew for a fact he was off duty,
"We're ready."
He smiled, and motioned them to follow him.
Krill held onto Sunny's shoulder as they followed the human into the woods.
"Aren't we going to take a trail?"
"You don't need a trail when you have me."
"I definitely think a trail would-…"
"Is your mind ever still my alien friend?"
Sunny shook her head,
"No, never, not even a little bit."
"Well try. I can't show you anything if you don't also listen."
"Now that just makes no sense!”
Sunny huffed and the ranger sighed,
"There is more in these woods to hear, that there is to see. The wind leaves the animals."
They passed over soggy earth and into a meadow filled with bright wildflowers. Krill was about to ask another question, but the ranger held up a hand despite not looking at him,
"Shhh, just listen, to the silence."
Krill turned to glower at Sunny, and she smirked at him, but he angrily did as told, focusing away from his eyes and towards his ears. He could hear the wind in the trees, the distant chirp of birds, rustling in the underbrush, their feet as it moved over packed earth.
In the silence there was also a strange rushing. A sort of white noise that you expect to find at the ocean but comes from deep within the mountains.
He watched their new human friend from the corner of his eye as it led them deeper into the mountains. For all Krill knew this creature could be more interested in killing them and eating them.
How did Sunny even know him?
With his usual paranoia, Krill continued to watch as the green clad human lead them through patches of shadow, over rocks and through little mountain gullies. He used no trail, but it seemed as if all of his senses were alive, following something into the forest. He used his hands to trace over rough packed dirt. He scanned his eyes through the underbrush and lifted his head eyes closed allowing little gusts of air to sweep hair about his face.
He listened, and occasionally, Krill thought he saw the human smelling at the air.
And as they went, they were led deeper and deeper into the forest, Krill had to admit that there was something peaceful about it, almost surreal, like being removed from one's own head and being surrounded by the quiet.
A couple of times, he thought he saw the human smiling over his shoulder at him.
They had made it a good hour or two into the woods when they broke into a nearby clearing. Sunny was about to step out with him, but right at the edge of the treeline, she was stopped by the human, who had pulled back into the shadows.
Sunny blinked and looked around.
Krill did as well.
The ranger shook his head.
Krill looked over Sunny's shoulder, but in the clearing, he saw nothing, nothing except for a strangely geometric circle of wildflowers, in the middle of which there was nothing but a barren patch of dirt.
That was strange, there seemed to be nothing growing inside that circle.
"We go around."
The man muttered.
"Because, we don't want to trespass."
"Trespass on what exactly?"
Krill found himself whispering.
"Well, the fey, of course!"
The human smiled at him, and he wasn't entirely sure if the creature was pulling his leg or not.
"What are the fey?"
The human smiled again, slowly motioning him to follow as he led them around the open circle,
"The fey or fairies, are a group of mystical creatures known to make mischief. Most of the time if you trespass on their land, you forfeit your rights as human, and the laws of the fey world become absolute. If you take anything from a fey, you are immediately required to stay with them for the rest of eternity. There are many rules governing the world of the fey, so it is best just to avoid them."
Krill snorted,
"Ah yes... fairies."
"You laugh, but through all these years as a ranger, I have seen things I cannot explain."
"Like what."
"Like the time someone went missing in the forest. He was lost on a relatively well traveled hiking trail. We didn't find him for over six months. The search party was called off after those first few weeks. Six months later I am hiking in an unrelated part of the forest forty miles away in the other side of a mountain, and I find this man's decomposing corpse hanging from a forty-foot tall tree, with impact wounds that looked like he had been dropped from a great height. There were no cliffs in the area, and it appeared as if the man had died one month earlier."
Krill frowned. The math on that didn't particularly add up.
"Then a year ago we went looking for a missing child. His parents turned around for five seconds and when they turned back, he was gone. I found his body forty feet up a sheer cliff-face, stuffed into a crevice five months later. He had been dead only two hours, and was wearing the same clothes he had been lost in."
Sunny's eyes widened and Krill snorted.
He was expected to believe that?
The ranger waved at him.
"Say what you will, but the forest is a dangerous and unusual place if you don't know how to respect her."
"Would you say you are superstitious then?"
"Very. Look, I can't explain everything in the world, and I have no desire to do so. I see no harm in giving things the respect they deserve even if, later, it turns out I was wrong."
The human was not particularly kidding about him being superstitious. More than a few times, he leads them around strange objects or formations. There was at one point, a time when they were heading towards another low gully in the middle of the woods, and all of a sudden, their entire party grew very uneasy.
The woods seemed darker to Krill than they had before.
But he shook it off.
Sunny seemed to be behaving similarly.
But the ranger, he looked downright terrified, grabbed the two of them by the arm and pulled them away quick time, setting them to a low jog in the opposite direction.
Sunny and Krill stared at him in confusion not entirely sure what to make of it.
"What was that all about?”
The human just shook his head.
"We were not welcome!"
"From what!?”
"Does it matter? When you are not welcome somewhere, you do not question it."
"What are you worried about, angering the wendigo?"
It was at that moment that Krill was pretty sure he had made a huge mistake, as the human maniacally sprinted at him like a madman, grabbed him and had a hand pressed over his mouth in under a millisecond flat. Even Sunny looked shocked.
"We do NOT joke about those kind of things here!!!"
He let Krill go, and Krill stared on in confusion and mild terror.
"I come from a line of people who believe you can attract things to you based off the kind of energy you put off. Now I don't know if it's true or not, but joking about something's existence is bound to piss it off enough to test its patience don’t you think?"
He took a deep breath and adjusted his shirt,
”Now there are a few other things it could have been. It could have been the den of a mountain lion, or a bear. It could have been a subliminal sense of danger, an incorrect smell, or the way the rocks looked. Or it could simply have been us all getting paranoid at once, but whatever it is, I would rather be safe than sorry. Now come on, let's take you back. After your little stunt there with name-naming we better don’t risk anything…"
Krill stayed quiet and tried not to joke more about the supernatural things., despite finding it funny and not really believing a word the man said.
Apparently, humans tended to take that sort of thing seriously.
Krill did not, all that supernatural stuff was definitely absolute bullshit.
They heard more stories form the strange ranger, about finding people in places they shouldn't be, staircases in strange places, the sudden loss of time.
"There was one point, when I was doing some training out in the field. We were on top of a mountain, and I went off to go to the bathroom. It was so weird, after I was finished, it was like time seemed to slow down. I got starving, and I was looking around in the forest thinking I might be able to find something to eat. I was so hungry. It was all I could think about, and then suddenly I see one of the other rangers, sort of snaps me out of how hungry I was."
He shrugged,
"I raise my hand to him and this guy looks terrified, he runs up to me, and he's going off about where was I and what was I doing, what is going on we have been looking for you. Of course, I am super confused and as what he's on about, and this guy looks at me, and he's all like: dude you have been missing for three days."
Krill and Sunny stared at him.
"I know, strange isn't it? To me it almost seemed like hours. But it was three days and almost twenty miles over to the next mountain ridge. I don't remember any of it."
"Sounds like a dissociative fugue."
"Maybe, whatever I was it was strange."
Behind them, the sun was just beginning to fall and the undergrowth was heading towards a deep black.
They could see the parking lot just ahead of them, and it was at that moment, a blood curling shriek echoed up from the trees at their back.
Sunny leaped nearly a foot.
Krill squealed.
The ranger jumped.
The scream came again.
It sounded like a woman's voice in absolute gut-wrenching agony. Like she was being eviscerated from the inside moving out.
The ranger turned back towards the trees his chin down his eyes up,
"Get slowly back to the car, but don't run."
"Don't run? Don't run!?"
"Yes don't run. It's a mountain lion."
He stared hard into the trees,
"It is a mountain lion and if you run it will have no other choice than to chase you. They don't like to attack from the front and running will trigger her hunting instincts. Walk backwards towards the car very slowly and do not take your eyes off the treeline."
Off to his side, Krill heard a sharp metallic snik and watched as Sunny's spear suddenly appeared in hand.
Of course, she wasn't worried.
But together they backed towards the truck and got in.
As their headlights turned on, the high beams broke over a body hunched up against the treeline.
Sunny cursed in Drev.
The ranger nodded,
"See? Mountain lion."
Krill stared in paralyzed horror at the massive cat, as it stalked back into the trees.
"Going to have to call that in. She is way too close to the trails for comfort, someone is going to get hurt. Hmm weird behavior from her…"
As they were driving away, Krill looked back towards the woods, where the mountain lion had gone to.
Glancing over the scenery, he couldn’t see it anymore, only a shadowy shape of a person was standing there…

Wait a second…
He did a double take as he thought he saw a tall willowy figure with antlers, standing at the edge of the treeline in almost the same spot as the mountain lion, angrily staring at him with glittering red eyes.
Woah what?
When he looked again it was gone.
He sat back in his seat, eyes straight forward.
He had a greater appreciation for the woods now because, for some reason, on Earth nature is connected to something strange and unexplainable, and whatever it is Krill was not interested in finding out.
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Want to find a specific one, see the whole list or check fanart?
Here is the link to the master-post.
Intro post by me
OC-whole collection
Patreon of the author
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2023.05.29 12:51 maximusaemilius Empyrean Iris: 2-8: Becoming of age (by Charlie Star)

FYI, this is a story COLLECTION. Lots of standalones technically. So, you can basically start to read at any chapter, no pre-read of the other chapters needed technically (other than maybe getting better descriptions of characters than: Adam Vir=human, Krill=antlike alien, Sunny=tall alien, Conn=telepathic alien). The numbers are (mostly) only for organization of posts and continuity.
OC Written by Charlie Stastarrfallknightrise,
Typed up and then posted here by me.
Proofreading and language check for some chapters by u/Finbar9800
Future Lore and fact check done by me.
As a small interlude, here have ONE chapter of what Krill and Sunny where up to when Adam was gone.
Note to self: write more stories what they did in the months Adam was gone later.
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"My family has lived in these mountains for more than three thousand years."
"How can you be sure of that?”
"Because we have records going back two thousand years and then records of my family's tribe before that. For that reason, no one knows these mountains better than I do, and even then, I still don't know everything there is to know. Every time I go out in the woods, I feel something new."
Krill glanced over at Sunny.
If he could raise an eyebrow he would have.
Of all the places they could go on their weekend, and she had decided to go on a guided hike. This would be just like something Adam would do.
He thought of all the people he wouldn't have to remind Sunny how dangerous Earth forests were with their trees, and animals, and poisonous plants, and, well, pretty much everything.
"Don't give me that look, Krill. You know if Adam was here, he would take us out to do the same thing, and you needed to quit moping anyway. He's going to be back soon."
Krill crossed his arms emphatically,
"I am not moping."
"You are too moping, and it's honestly kind of pathetic. You get all cranky when Adam isn't around."
”Fuck you!”
”Why are you so aggressive? Don’t worry, Adam will be fine! Why do you worry so much?”
"That's because I worry about his health and safety."
"He's a grown man."
"He's a man child."
”Awww is momma Krill missing his little Adam?”
”Fuck you too… Also you know I’m right about that.”
”I didn’t say you weren’t.”
Krill sighed and turned back to look at their guide who was staring on in mild amusement.
This human had dark tan skin, deep brown eyes and long dark hair pulled back from his face. He wore a green ranger's uniform, but she knew for a fact he was off duty,
"We're ready."
He smiled, and motioned them to follow him.
Krill held onto Sunny's shoulder as they followed the human into the woods.
"Aren't we going to take a trail?"
"You don't need a trail when you have me."
"I definitely think a trail would-…"
"Is your mind ever still my alien friend?"
Sunny shook her head,
"No, never, not even a little bit."
"Well try. I can't show you anything if you don't also listen."
"Now that just makes no sense!”
Sunny huffed and the ranger sighed,
"There is more in these woods to hear, that there is to see. The wind leaves the animals."
They passed over soggy earth and into a meadow filled with bright wildflowers. Krill was about to ask another question, but the ranger held up a hand despite not looking at him,
"Shhh, just listen, to the silence."
Krill turned to glower at Sunny, and she smirked at him, but he angrily did as told, focusing away from his eyes and towards his ears. He could hear the wind in the trees, the distant chirp of birds, rustling in the underbrush, their feet as it moved over packed earth.
In the silence there was also a strange rushing. A sort of white noise that you expect to find at the ocean but comes from deep within the mountains.
He watched their new human friend from the corner of his eye as it led them deeper into the mountains. For all Krill knew this creature could be more interested in killing them and eating them.
How did Sunny even know him?
With his usual paranoia, Krill continued to watch as the green clad human lead them through patches of shadow, over rocks and through little mountain gullies. He used no trail, but it seemed as if all of his senses were alive, following something into the forest. He used his hands to trace over rough packed dirt. He scanned his eyes through the underbrush and lifted his head eyes closed allowing little gusts of air to sweep hair about his face.
He listened, and occasionally, Krill thought he saw the human smelling at the air.
And as they went, they were led deeper and deeper into the forest, Krill had to admit that there was something peaceful about it, almost surreal, like being removed from one's own head and being surrounded by the quiet.
A couple of times, he thought he saw the human smiling over his shoulder at him.
They had made it a good hour or two into the woods when they broke into a nearby clearing. Sunny was about to step out with him, but right at the edge of the treeline, she was stopped by the human, who had pulled back into the shadows.
Sunny blinked and looked around.
Krill did as well.
The ranger shook his head.
Krill looked over Sunny's shoulder, but in the clearing, he saw nothing, nothing except for a strangely geometric circle of wildflowers, in the middle of which there was nothing but a barren patch of dirt.
That was strange, there seemed to be nothing growing inside that circle.
"We go around."
The man muttered.
"Because, we don't want to trespass."
"Trespass on what exactly?"
Krill found himself whispering.
"Well, the fey, of course!"
The human smiled at him, and he wasn't entirely sure if the creature was pulling his leg or not.
"What are the fey?"
The human smiled again, slowly motioning him to follow as he led them around the open circle,
"The fey or fairies, are a group of mystical creatures known to make mischief. Most of the time if you trespass on their land, you forfeit your rights as human, and the laws of the fey world become absolute. If you take anything from a fey, you are immediately required to stay with them for the rest of eternity. There are many rules governing the world of the fey, so it is best just to avoid them."
Krill snorted,
"Ah yes... fairies."
"You laugh, but through all these years as a ranger, I have seen things I cannot explain."
"Like what."
"Like the time someone went missing in the forest. He was lost on a relatively well traveled hiking trail. We didn't find him for over six months. The search party was called off after those first few weeks. Six months later I am hiking in an unrelated part of the forest forty miles away in the other side of a mountain, and I find this man's decomposing corpse hanging from a forty-foot tall tree, with impact wounds that looked like he had been dropped from a great height. There were no cliffs in the area, and it appeared as if the man had died one month earlier."
Krill frowned. The math on that didn't particularly add up.
"Then a year ago we went looking for a missing child. His parents turned around for five seconds and when they turned back, he was gone. I found his body forty feet up a sheer cliff-face, stuffed into a crevice five months later. He had been dead only two hours, and was wearing the same clothes he had been lost in."
Sunny's eyes widened and Krill snorted.
He was expected to believe that?
The ranger waved at him.
"Say what you will, but the forest is a dangerous and unusual place if you don't know how to respect her."
"Would you say you are superstitious then?"
"Very. Look, I can't explain everything in the world, and I have no desire to do so. I see no harm in giving things the respect they deserve even if, later, it turns out I was wrong."
The human was not particularly kidding about him being superstitious. More than a few times, he leads them around strange objects or formations. There was at one point, a time when they were heading towards another low gully in the middle of the woods, and all of a sudden, their entire party grew very uneasy.
The woods seemed darker to Krill than they had before.
But he shook it off.
Sunny seemed to be behaving similarly.
But the ranger, he looked downright terrified, grabbed the two of them by the arm and pulled them away quick time, setting them to a low jog in the opposite direction.
Sunny and Krill stared at him in confusion not entirely sure what to make of it.
"What was that all about?”
The human just shook his head.
"We were not welcome!"
"From what!?”
"Does it matter? When you are not welcome somewhere, you do not question it."
"What are you worried about, angering the wendigo?"
It was at that moment that Krill was pretty sure he had made a huge mistake, as the human maniacally sprinted at him like a madman, grabbed him and had a hand pressed over his mouth in under a millisecond flat. Even Sunny looked shocked.
"We do NOT joke about those kind of things here!!!"
He let Krill go, and Krill stared on in confusion and mild terror.
"I come from a line of people who believe you can attract things to you based off the kind of energy you put off. Now I don't know if it's true or not, but joking about something's existence is bound to piss it off enough to test its patience don’t you think?"
He took a deep breath and adjusted his shirt,
”Now there are a few other things it could have been. It could have been the den of a mountain lion, or a bear. It could have been a subliminal sense of danger, an incorrect smell, or the way the rocks looked. Or it could simply have been us all getting paranoid at once, but whatever it is, I would rather be safe than sorry. Now come on, let's take you back. After your little stunt there with name-naming we better don’t risk anything…"
Krill stayed quiet and tried not to joke more about the supernatural things., despite finding it funny and not really believing a word the man said.
Apparently, humans tended to take that sort of thing seriously.
Krill did not, all that supernatural stuff was definitely absolute bullshit.
They heard more stories form the strange ranger, about finding people in places they shouldn't be, staircases in strange places, the sudden loss of time.
"There was one point, when I was doing some training out in the field. We were on top of a mountain, and I went off to go to the bathroom. It was so weird, after I was finished, it was like time seemed to slow down. I got starving, and I was looking around in the forest thinking I might be able to find something to eat. I was so hungry. It was all I could think about, and then suddenly I see one of the other rangers, sort of snaps me out of how hungry I was."
He shrugged,
"I raise my hand to him and this guy looks terrified, he runs up to me, and he's going off about where was I and what was I doing, what is going on we have been looking for you. Of course, I am super confused and as what he's on about, and this guy looks at me, and he's all like: dude you have been missing for three days."
Krill and Sunny stared at him.
"I know, strange isn't it? To me it almost seemed like hours. But it was three days and almost twenty miles over to the next mountain ridge. I don't remember any of it."
"Sounds like a dissociative fugue."
"Maybe, whatever I was it was strange."
Behind them, the sun was just beginning to fall and the undergrowth was heading towards a deep black.
They could see the parking lot just ahead of them, and it was at that moment, a blood curling shriek echoed up from the trees at their back.
Sunny leaped nearly a foot.
Krill squealed.
The ranger jumped.
The scream came again.
It sounded like a woman's voice in absolute gut-wrenching agony. Like she was being eviscerated from the inside moving out.
The ranger turned back towards the trees his chin down his eyes up,
"Get slowly back to the car, but don't run."
"Don't run? Don't run!?"
"Yes don't run. It's a mountain lion."
He stared hard into the trees,
"It is a mountain lion and if you run it will have no other choice than to chase you. They don't like to attack from the front and running will trigger her hunting instincts. Walk backwards towards the car very slowly and do not take your eyes off the treeline."
Off to his side, Krill heard a sharp metallic snik and watched as Sunny's spear suddenly appeared in hand.
Of course, she wasn't worried.
But together they backed towards the truck and got in.
As their headlights turned on, the high beams broke over a body hunched up against the treeline.
Sunny cursed in Drev.
The ranger nodded,
"See? Mountain lion."
Krill stared in paralyzed horror at the massive cat, as it stalked back into the trees.
"Going to have to call that in. She is way too close to the trails for comfort, someone is going to get hurt. Hmm weird behavior from her…"
As they were driving away, Krill looked back towards the woods, where the mountain lion had gone to.
Glancing over the scenery, he couldn’t see it anymore, only a shadowy shape of a person was standing there…

Wait a second…
He did a double take as he thought he saw a tall willowy figure with antlers, standing at the edge of the treeline in almost the same spot as the mountain lion, angrily staring at him with glittering red eyes.
Woah what?
When he looked again it was gone.
He sat back in his seat, eyes straight forward.
He had a greater appreciation for the woods now because, for some reason, on Earth nature is connected to something strange and unexplainable, and whatever it is Krill was not interested in finding out.
Previous First Next
Want to find a specific one, see the whole list or check fanart?
Here is the link to the master-post.
Intro post by me
OC-whole collection
Patreon of the author
Thanks for reading! As you saw in the title, this is a cross posted story written by starrfallknightrise and I'll just upload some of it here for you guys, if you are interested and want to read ahead, the original story-collection can be found on tumblr or wattpad to read for free. (link above this text under "OC:..." ) It is the Empyrean Iris story collection by starfallknightrise. Also, if you want to know more about the story collection i made an intro post about it, so feel free to check that out to see what other great characters to look forward to! (Link also above this text). I have no affiliations to the author; just thought I’d share some of the great stories you might enjoy a lot!
Obviously, I have Charlie’s permission to post this and for the people already knowing the stories, or starting to read them: If you follow the link and check out the story you will see some differences. I made some small (non-artistic) changes, mainly correcting writing mistakes, pronoun correction and some small additional info here and there of things which were not thought of/forgotten or even were added/changed in later stories (like the “USS->UNSC” prefix of Stabby, Chalar=/->Sunny etc). As well as some "biggemajor" changes in descriptions and info’s for the same stringency/continuity reason. That can be explained by the story collection being, well a story collection at the start with many standalone-stories just starring the same people, but later on it gets more to a stringent storyline with backstories and throwbacks. (For example Adam Vir has some HEAVY scars over his body, following his bones, which were not really talked about up till half the collection, where it says it covers his whole body and you find out via backflash that he had them the whole time and how he got them, they just weren't mentioned before. However, I would think a doctor would at least see these scars before that, especially since he gets analyzed, treated and goes shirtless/in T-shirts in some stories). So TLDR: Writing and some descriptions are slightly changed, with full OK from the author, since he himself did not bother to correct these things before.
submitted by maximusaemilius to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 11:45 mymugazine Sip, Smile, and Show off Your Quirky Side! Unleash the Magic of Personalized Mugs at My MUGazine! ☕️🎉 #MugMagic #ExpressYourStyle #QuirkyMugs

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Source: My MUGazine
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2023.05.29 07:04 wanderingdorathy Is my puppy already reactive?? Advice appreciated

Hi, I have a 6 month Australian Cattle Dog. I live in a tiny home parked at a pretty large hobby farm that frequently has visitors ranging from a single person to larger groups.
My dog is finding his big boy voice and has now on a couple of occasions REALLY barked at a few people. They’re usually people who are by themselves and are somewhat at a distance and I’m thinking the barking could be a response to the dog being surprised/ startled.
We go on walks around the property 3-4 times a day and loop in stopping to say hi to the chickens or goats or bunnies. We’ve done these off lead from day 1 and have really great recall- it’s something reinforced almost daily (were currently never off lead except for at home, but my goal is to get to off lead hikes) . 3/4 of the times he’s gone full big boy bark at a person is when they’re around the farm animals. I can’t figure out if he’s just startled because 95% of the time there’s not people around on our walks or if he’s possibly “protecting” the animals.
I’m really concerned about this. His recall goes out the window. If this continues he’s bound to bark at a child at some point because kids can go into the enclosure to play with/ pet the animals. And I rent- so if my dog starts causing issues with visitors to the farm they’re not going to be happy about it. He’s generally really friendly, but the barking is scary
I’ve been working on preparing him when I think there might be people on our walks by just letting him know in advance, but I don’t always know before we leave the house.
When I read about reactive dogs whose training goes out the window when they’re triggered it feels like the same story, but he’s only 6 months old and shouldnt have trauma or ptsd responses. If it gets worse from here we’re about to have a really difficult decade and a half.
Advice? What do you think?
I’m just really worried he’s going to bark at a little kid and our housing situation we’ll be in jeopardy. I know that’s extreme, but long walks and lots of space to run around are a dog’s dream and I don’t want to lose all these great things. Plus I don’t want him to feel scared/ anxious
Thanks for your help all
submitted by wanderingdorathy to puppy101 [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 05:59 Determination7 An Outcast In Another World (Subtitle: Is 'Insanity' A Racial Trait?) [Fantasy, LitRPG] - Chapter 198 (Book 5 Chapter 24)

Author's Note:
Reddit was having issues when I posted the last chapter, so just in case anyone missed it, the previous chapter (197) starts here.
Also, the next chapter will come out a week from now, on June 5th.


Two Days Later
Rob's eyes snapped open. Panicked shouts were resounding from outside his tent. The first notion that popped into his sleep-addled mind was relief, as an ambush was preferable to the nightmare he'd been having. That sentiment lasted until a distant explosion obliterated the final remnants of his drowsiness, sending him and Keira sprinting out of their tent with weapons in hand.
Chaos awaited them outside. People weren't quite running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but it was close. While the coalition had known that a night attack was possible and prepared themselves accordingly, no one was ever truly ready to be assaulted with spells and Skills as they frolicked through dreamland. Arrows peppered the ground at their feet, the majority landing harmlessly away, although Rob spotted a few soldiers with fresh wounds seeping blood.
He spared a passing glance for the numerous banners the coalition had erected across their campsite. Each one was raised twenty feet high, decorated with lights in order to glow in the dark, and marked with wartime symbols indicating a desire to engage in peaceful negotiations. The Harpies answered by filling the banners with arrow holes and setting many of them on fire. Diplomacy's plan had been doomed from the start.
Kicking his brain into high gear, Rob activated Quick Thinking and sent Messages checking on Riardin's Rangers. His eyes traveled up towards the night sky, seeing a canvas of pure darkness broken up by stars and moonlight. It must have been the dead of midnight or close to it. Arrows were impossible to see coming before they'd already hit the ground, and the only indication of Harpies flying above were the shadows blotting out the stars every so often.
Thankfully, the coalition had planned for this. As if on cue, multiple orbs of brilliant light shot upwards, mages from each faction contributing to the effort. The orbs hung in the sky like floating lighthouses, banishing enough darkness to allow Rob to see what he was dealing with.
A resigned expletive slipped out of his mouth. There had to be at least four hundred of the fuckers up there, maybe five hundred, swarming like a colony of feathered bees. It was the worst-case scenario of what the coalition envisioned – Elnaril sending the maximum number of Harpies he could realistically field without leaving the capital undefended.
How am I supposed to fight them? Rob wondered, asking himself a recurring question that he'd never been able to answer. They can't kill me with piddly arrows and long-range spells, but my allies aren't so durable. Somehow I doubt they'll listen if I tell them to stop being cowards and come fight me in melee range.
All thoughts of attacking were swept aside when the Harpies began dropping a very different projectile towards the coalition base camp. Rob opened and closed his mouth several times, shock suffusing every cell in his body. He recalled the explosion that had awoken him, the moment now disturbingly re-contextualized.
The Harpies were airdropping crates of Firebombs.
"THAT'S COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, YOU LITTLE SHITS!" Rob summoned his own crate from his Bound Items, tore open the cover, and grabbed a Firebomb in each hand. He activated Bulk Up for extra Strength and hurled Firebombs towards the falling crates with the best baseball throws he could muster. One, two, three, four, five, six – the crate's supply rapidly depleted as Rob threw again and again, trying to intercept as many payloads as possible, Keira following his lead. They were joined by coalition archer support, arrows sniping at crates that were out of reach.
Dozens of roaring explosions lit up the sky. While some of the crates had gotten through, most were turned to dust before they could hit the ground, reducing the Harpies' shock-and-awe tactic to an impromptu fireworks display.
Throwing Proficiency Level Increased! 6 → 7
Throwing Proficiency Level Increased! 7 → 8
"THAT'S RIGHT!" Rob whooped. "LEAVE THE KABOOMS TO THE EXPERTS!" He paused, then turned to Keira, looking abashed. "Um...was this my fault? Are they actually copying me?" Please don't tell me I accidentally advanced warfare by a century.
"We can ruminate on that later," Keira answered, skillfully dodging the question. "For now, we should focus on retaliating by any means available."
No sooner had the words left her mouth than a glowing yellow projectile shot up into the sky. Orn'tol's Chain Arrow nicked a Harpy on the edge of their wing – which was all it needed to begin the process. A tenth of a second later, the arrow veered to the right and struck a different Harpy in their stomach. It ripped out and through the other side, taking another ninety-degree turn to spear an unsuspecting Harpy in the back. And so it went, chaining from target-to-target with ruthless efficiency. By the end, twenty Harpies had been struck, eight of them falling out of the sky, unmoving.
Rob saluted the display. "Yeah, I don't have any ranged attacks on that level. I think we'd be better-off guarding the people who do."
They rushed over to where the Fiend mages resided, discovering the group huddled under cover, besieged by a stream of arrows and spells hammering down around them. Rob sent off a quick Message to Vul'to, then jumped in front of an icicle spell that would have gored a Fiend through her neck. "Sup."
"Lord Roy!" The Fiend's jubilation froze when she saw the icicle sticking out of Rob's shoulder. "Are–"
"No time for chitchat. If I cover you, can you fire back?"
After some thought, the mages nodded. Rob gave them a thumbs-up with his left hand and deflected an arrow with his right. He turned his full attention to the projectile storm raining from above, calculating which ones he'd be able to block and which ones he'd need to take on the chin.
The next few minutes became a blur of activity. Arrow. Skill. Arrow. Spell. Spell. Skill. Arrow. Arrow. It never ended. His slow walk towards Harpy Settlement #4 was proving to be an invaluable experience, because he wasn't sure if he could've kept up now without already knowing how to handle a barrage of small projectiles. Even Keira was struggling; while Danger Sense told her where she needed to move, it was reaching a point where she physically couldn't execute the motions fast enough. Rob would've expected the Harpies to lay off once they noticed that he was there to play defense, but if anything, they were attacking more fiercely than before.
Almost as if they held a grudge against him or something.
Outwardly, he was projecting the supreme confidence of a Leader. Inwardly, he was honestly starting to get a bit worried. While he'd only taken about 300 HP of damage, a different resource was beginning to wane: his Stamina. Quick Thinking consumed 3 Stamina for every second it was active. That combined with his constant movement was...tiring. He'd activated Second Wind to restore 35% of his Stamina, but unlike his Vitality-based abilities, this one had a cooldown of 24 hours. In a couple minutes, he might actually need to ask for a short break.
Was that the end of the world? No. Was it embarrassing? Potentially. Leaders weren't supposed to ask for breaks. At least, he thought they weren't. Elatrans could be weird about what constituted a good Leader. Rob was still figuring out when he was supposed to act like an invulnerable pillar versus when he was allowed to be a real person. I miss when I didn't have to care about this sort of thing.
His reputation was saved by Vul'to's timely arrival. The Soul Guardian burst onto the scene in a mad dash, skid to a halt, took a stance, activated Auto-Guard, and proceeded to swat away the Harpies' projectiles as if they were no more than gnats. "I will protect the mages from here on out," he calmly stated. Vul'to's movements flowed like water, his voice showing no sign of exertion as he spoke. "Put your efforts towards an offensive strike."
Rob suppressed a relieved sigh as he deactivated Quick Thinking. "For the record, when our Party inevitably complains about my risk-taking later, I'm going to say that both you and Keira signed off on a Rob Plan."
"You can't be serious," Keira blurted out, panting heavily as she rested. "Our enemies are in the sky. What scheme could you have possibly concocted that would put you at risk?"
Rob hesitated. He was distinctly aware of the mages listening in as they fired spells, devoting a portion of their brainpower to gathering gossip material. Anything he said here would reflect on his status as Leader. That included overly-casual speech and devising schemes that by all rights should get him a one-way ticket to the loony bin.
Then he remembered that allies were dying around him, and he stopped caring so much about what other people thought.
"My usual method for dealing with mobile enemies is Rampage spam," he began to explain. "That isn't viable here. I'd run out of MP long before I reached their altitude, and even if I somehow made it, what then? I can't dodge mid-air. They'd turn me into a pincushion. So here's what I was thinking..."
His explanation was brief. By the time he'd finished, the mages were staring at him with eyes wide as saucers. Keira merely nodded. "Very well. I'll accept it."
"No complaints?"
"You left yourself an escape route. That already makes this plan safer than most." She turned away, gesturing for him to follow. "Let's go find Malika. If I'm not mistaken, she'll be at Orn'tol's side."
It wasn't hard to locate her. They only needed to trace the empowered spells blasting upwards like rocket launchers. Rob did a rough headcount of the Harpies' numbers, estimating that, despite their ambush, the battle wasn't going well for them. Over forty had been felled by Malika's spells, Orn'tol's arrows, and the other coalition mages and archers. The Dwarven riflemen were also putting in work, gunshots echoing as Harpies were struck by blindingly fast projectiles they'd come entirely unprepared for, their race inducted into a new era of war with a baptism of lead and gunpowder.
Conversely, Rob would bet his life savings that not even fifteen coalition members had perished. While he didn't have any proof of this, he knew from experience that basic arrows and mediocre spells lost striking power when fired from a long range. And unlike the Harpies' army consisting of everyone-they-could-get, the coalition soldiers were the elite of each territory. They were tougher, stronger, and had access to superior healing magic. In this instance, quality trumped quantity.
Especially when the quality was so lopsided. As Rob ran, he saw a lightning spear shoot up towards the sky and explode into a ball of electricity, frying a dozen Harpies in an instant. Moments later, the surrounding air seemed to dry out, like a heat wave passing through, as moisture was collected into a towering plume of water. Once it was ready, the plume burst upwards and casually washed away another dozen Harpies as if they were drowned rats.
Sylpeiros and Cyraeneus. Ambush or no ambush, long range or close range – didn't matter. Leaders were terrifying in every scenario.
Rob found Malika and Orn'tol in good spirits. The siblings had a whole squad of Vanguards protecting them, like a pair of pint-sized siege cannons with ground support. "Rob!" Malika exclaimed, the instant she saw him. "MP Potions! Forthwith!"
In a flash of blue mana, he produced three Potions from Spatial Storage. "Your humble servant is here," he remarked, in a tone drier than the air.
"Only three Potions? Bah! Give me more!"
"Your humble servant has no wish to deal with an Archmage with a hangover."
Grumbling, she grabbed the Potions and chugged them like a frat boy on spring break. Rob rated her chugging prowess at a solid 7 out of 10, judging that – while she'd grown considerably – there was still room for improvement.
"Should..." Orn'tol started to say something, then thought better of it. Rob could guess what he was thinking. The boy was worried that they weren't being properly respectful of the situation, joking around in the middle of a warzone where allies were suffering. He'd likely come to the same conclusion as Rob: that letting Malika keep her morale up was more important. "Are we winning?" he instead asked.
"Easily," Rob affirmed. That was never in doubt. It would've taken something going catastrophically wrong for them to be in danger of losing. In reality, today's battle was just another leg in the extended marathon that the coalition was running. Rather than obsessing over a transient victory that was all but guaranteed, they needed to minimize casualties so that taking the Harpy capital was a feasible prospect. That meant being careful, guarding their back lines, and only attacking when it was safe.
Oh, and crushing the Harpies so that they wised up and retreated.
"I am...concerned," Orn'tol admitted. "The Harpies should have been aware of our strength. Yet by the end of this night, unless they soon retreat, their losses will mount in the hundreds. Why waste so much life?"
Rob narrowed his eyes at the sky. "Couple possibilities. Elnaril could be screwing around. Blights think that wasting life is absolutely hilarious. He is part Leader, though, so I can't imagine he'd be quite that frivolous with his resources. With that in mind, I don't think the Harpies are going to fight to the last man – they probably came here intending to thin our numbers and skedaddle. Severe losses would prevent us from being able to seize the capital. Their initial Firebomb barrage could've potentially done that on its own."
"And it failed."
"Sure did. Now they're stuck trying to do it the old-fashioned way." Rob shrugged. "They might have a backup plan. If so, we'll handle it, no worries." He faced Malika. "Speaking of plans, I've got one. Do you mind holding onto some MP for me?"
She opened her mouth to respond – then froze, her head turning sideways. Rob followed Malika's gaze towards the Gellin encampment, his brow furrowing at what he saw. All thirty Gellin were exiting their tents in near-perfect unison. They reminded Rob of a collection of wind-up animatronics, with movements that weren't entirely synchronized and robotic, yet also weren't dissimilar enough to appear fully lifelike. As the Gellin drifted forward, moonlight mixed with the light emanating from the mages' sun orbs, bathing them in an almost ethereal glow.
A small shiver crept up Rob's spine. He didn't know why, but something about the situation was giving him the heebie-jeebies. Maybe it was because he'd never seen a Gellin awake at this hour before. He'd gone on more than one midnight walk to clear his head after a bout of nightmares, and while he'd met the occasional Fiend, Dwarf, Elf, or Merfolk, the Gellin were always sequestered in their tents.
His shiver crawled up to the back of his neck, making its little hairs stand on end as a thrum of mana built within the Gellin. Even Rob's meager Sense Mana could feel it. Thirty Gellin had joined into three Mage Circles, linking their power, creating...something. A force. An aura. It lacked physical form, yet felt no less threatening than one of Sylpeiros' lightning spears.
The space above them seemed to shimmer, as if viewed through a lightly-smudged eyeglass. Virtually invisible if you weren't paying close attention.
Or if you were flying hundreds of feet in the air.
The Harpies didn't try to avoid it. They didn't even know it was there. Lightning spears and plumes of water were obvious. Flashy. The Gellins' something simply wafted upwards, like rising heat, until it reached the sky and engulfed a multitude of Harpies in a devouring fog.
Piercing screams cut through the din of warfare.
The affected Harpies reacted in different ways. Some went still as statues. Some writhed as if electrocuted. Some began attacking invisible enemies. But regardless of how they reacted, they all fell, and they all screamed.
Rob covered his ears. It was the worst sound he'd heard since Elnaril laughed at him through a Message Crystal. The battlefield didn't completely grind to a halt, but it definitely slowed, with both the attackers and defenders needing to process what the fuck just happened.
"Was that Mind Magic?" Malika whispered, her bravado gone and vanished.
"It appears so," Keira quietly answered.
"I...did not know it could do that."
"Neither did I."
After shaking his head to reset his thoughts, Rob stepped back from everyone, ensuring that he was out of their line of sight. Much as he wanted to take a breather, he couldn't. The Harpies were reeling – this was a perfect opportunity to execute his plan.
He just needed to finish the prepwork. Hefting his longsword, Rob turned it around and pointed it at his heart.
And paused.
My hands are shivering, he realized. Why are my hands shivering? I've done this before. He willed his hands to stay still, nearly snarling when they failed to cooperate. This is a waste of time. Don't be a fucking bitch, Rob. Just lie back and think of England.
Living Bomb ready.
Rob used Spatial Storage to switch his clothes for an unbloodied ensemble, then tapped Malika on her shoulder. "Do you have enough MP for a big wind spell?"
She blinked, jolted out of her reverie. "Oh. Um, yes. Why?"
He told her of his plan. A broad grin split across her face, transitioning into an excited cackle. "You're a madman. Let's do that straight away."
As Malika charged her spell, Rob attached a Waymark point to the ground, then summoned the Dwarven Sheet Metal from his Bound Items. Keira, Orn'tol, and the Vanguards spread out to give them some space. The Vanguards were looking on in awe; Rob could only hope that they'd enjoy the show.
"We have to time this just right," he told Malika. "Fire the spell on three. Understand?" She nodded so hard that she probably gave herself whiplash. Rob placed his longsword in Storage, holding the Sheet Metal with both hands.
"One." Malika held onto her spell, ready to unleash the fury of an Archmage with a cause.
"Two." Rob leaped into the air, positioning the Sheet Metal under his feet like a surfboard.
A miniaturized tornado slammed into the Sheet Metal, propelling Rob up, up, and away. He lost his balance pretty much immediately, tumbling onto the Sheet as wind pressure buffeted him without mercy. His ascent skyward was so sudden and so jarring that he was actually surprised when he came face-to-face with a Harpy. The two of them exchanged bewildered stares. Rob felt tempted to say a variant of one of the classics, like 'You come here often?'
Then he remembered why he was there.
This was it. No going back. Justified or necessary or otherwise, once he activated Living Bomb, he will have spilled Harpy blood on Harpy soil. There was a sense of finality to it that almost made him hesitate.
"I wish you'd stayed home," Rob muttered. The Harpy's survival instincts kicked in, his wings flapping in a hurry, yet it was already too late. You couldn't outrun a thought.
Living Bomb.
The world became obscured by flame, heat, and noise. Rob wasn't sure how many Harpies he'd caught in the blast radius, but the EXP infusing his soul informed him that it was more than a few. Without waiting, he cast Rampage to push himself out of the Bomb's center, then Waymarked to safety so that the Harpies couldn't take revenge after the Bomb faded. The Rampage movement was a necessity; he wasn't taking any chances that using Waymark while in the middle of the Bomb might somehow bring it back with him.
His feet now on solid ground, Rob was treated to an awe-inspiring spectacle. A colossal sphere of fire hung above, like the core of an angry sun, its surface twisting with unbridled energy. The sound it emitted was one long, continuous, ear-splitting explosion, as if the Bomb was a sentient creature noisily lamenting the ones who'd escaped its grasp. This was the first time Rob had seen his Skill from an outside perspective, and in that instant, he truly understood why it was so effective at shattering morale.
As it did now. Living Bomb rapidly faded, but by then the Harpies were already in retreat. The one-two punch of the Gellins' mind attack and a giant fuckoff explosion had doubled their casualties in a matter of seconds. Even if that combo hadn't broken their spirits, not withdrawing at this point would be tantamount to suicide.
Rob allowed his shoulders to relax as a collective sigh of relief passed through the coalition. Their battle was over. Victory was – Wait, what's up with that guy?
Relief gave way to confusion as they noticed a figure in the distance sprinting towards them. It was an...Elf? One of Sylpeiros' Scouts? As everyone watched, the Elf in question passed straight under the fleeing Harpies, neither faction looking at each other as they traveled in opposite directions. The sight was borderline surreal, adding another obstacle to the emotional gamut that Rob was still running. Maybe I can go to bed and pretend I didn't see anything.
Plausible deniability was taken from him a moment later, when the Elf got within range of the coalition's Heightened Senses and started bellowing at the top of his longs. "MONSTERS! PACK OF MONSTERS AND BEASTS! LEVEL 50 AND ABOVE!"
His declaration just left them more confused. There was no such thing as a pack of high-Leveled monsters roaming the surface of Elatra. At first Rob thought that a Dungeon had grown for too long and was beginning to overflow, but the truth ended up being far stranger.
"About...thirty...monsters and animals," the Elf Scout wheezed, once he'd gotten close and could speak in full sentences. "Coming this way. Some are...natural-born. Beasts who've lived for centuries. Others are monsters. Used Identify. Think they...were plucked from Dungeons."
Everyone glanced at Sylpeiros, an unspoken message in their eyes: "He's your Scout. You sort out this mess." The Seneschal put on a deep scowl, somehow managing to direct it at over a dozen people simultaneously. Once he was sure they'd received the full force of his ire, he composed his features and turned towards the exhausted Scout.
"While I don't doubt your words, what you've described is nonsensical. Setting aside how such an eclectic group of creatures was brought together...monsters and natural-born animals are hardly allies. They'd rip each other to pieces under normal circumstances. Animals from differing species would be at odds as well."
"I am merely reporting what I've seen. In one such example, I witnessed an enormous bat flying alongside a misshapen creature of mana that could only have been spawned within the depths of a high-Level Dungeon."
"Are the animals infected?" Rob asked. "This sort of thing happened back when The Village of Ixatan Forest was invaded. Animals got possessed by the Blight."
The Scout paused, searching through his memories – or rather, his log of system notifications. "Yes. An 'Infected' Status Effect appeared when I Identified the animals. Until you provided context, I was unaware of what that implied."
As Sylpeiros continued speaking with the Scout, Rob stopped to think, constructing a timeline of events. This pack of high-Level creatures couldn't have been assembled on short notice. It must've been years in the making, Elnaril searching Harpy territory with a fine-tooth comb, scooping up wildlife and plundering Dungeons.
Rob resisted the urge to shake his fist at the sky. When Kismet warned him that Elnaril had 'strong creatures' to use, it would've been nice to have some extra fucking details. Vague omnipotent asshole.
Anyway. Elnaril corrals his Pokemon, then prepares to ambush the coalition along with his Harpies. Except...the timing went wrong. Or maybe the position? Controlling that many powerful creatures couldn't be easy. Like attempting to drive thirty cars at the same time. It was probably why the coalition hadn't been ambushed until now – Elnaril was waiting for them to get closer. Regardless, the plan was likely supposed to be the Harpies attacking in tandem with the monsters...but the bombing run largely failed, and the monsters were late to the party.
Rob grimaced as he realized how much of the coalition's victory came down to blind luck. Elnaril's plan was unsuccessful due to logistical issues on his side, not because of any stratagem on the coalition's part. If the Harpies had successfully used their pets as distractions, unloading crates of Firebombs while high-Level creatures ran amok through the battlefield...
The coalition still would have won. But their casualties would've been enormous. Enough to make invading the capital untenable.
Everyone else came to the same conclusion as they listened to the Scout's tale. Sylpeiros remained silent for a time, looking more pensive than someone might expect from a Leader who'd just prevailed in battle. "We shall discuss areas of improvement at a later date," he said, sighing. "How long until the monsters arrive?"
"Roughly four minutes."
Sylpeiros drummed his fingers on his thigh. "While we could swarm the monsters with superior numbers, the vast majority of our soldiers are unsuited for combating enemies over Level 50. The monster will fall, but not before inflicting casualties. Instead, I propose that myself, Cyraeneus, and Riardin's Rangers go forth and hold the line. The rest of our soldiers will defend base camp, kept out of harm's way, firing projectiles at whichever beasts draw near."
He frowned. "Even so, thirty monsters above Level 50 aren't so easily repelled. They may be able to fly, or have carapaces that blunt conventional attacks. It would be best if the entire lot focuses on our group, but some will choose to bypass the front line in favor of assaulting the coalition base camp. Casualties are inevitable."
"No. They aren't."
Rob stepped forward, walking in the direction the Scout had come from. A familiar swell of anticipation built within him. "Counter-proposal. I go. Alone. You all stay and deal with whoever slips past."
Numerous opposing voices exploded in unison. Rob countered them with an explosion of his own, summoning a crate of Firebombs and chucking it into the distance. The faint BOOM bought him a moment of stunned silence.
"No bullshitting," he said, fixing them with an intent gaze. "You want to minimize casualties? This is how we do it. Base camp will be vulnerable without high-Level people to protect it. Hell, some of you might die if you try to 'hold the line' in the middle of an open field. It only takes one screwup to get your head bitten off, and the monsters outnumber us. But me?"
With a flourish, Rob summoned his longsword and activated Step of the Wind. "They. Can't. Kill. Me."
He was off before anyone could raise another protest. None of them followed, perhaps sensing something in his voice indicating that it would be a bad idea. Just as well – Rob would've physically thrown back anyone who tried.
No one else needed to risk their lives today.
It only took him three minutes of running at full speed to locate the monster stampede. They were impossible to miss; a menagerie of oversized animals and abominations with the strength to depopulate a city. For almost anyone else in Elatra, the sight would have filled them with the dread of someone who knew their death was imminent, and that they could do nothing to stop the reaper's scythe from swinging.
Rob waved. The monsters screeched when they saw him, letting out a symphony that could be graciously described as hideous. Music to my ears. Out of curiosity, he cast Identify on the first one in line to die.
Name: Lord of the Caves
Level: 57
Race: Blighted Bat
Status Effects: Infected, Thirsty
Description: An existence well above Ixatan's Lord of the Forest that nearly killed you three times over. Gee, I wonder what happens now that you're 70 Levels higher and with pent-up resentment towards big beasties? Play nice, Rob, or you'll break your toys.
"Sorry, but breaking them is the fun part." Inwardly, Rob sent thanks to Elnaril for delivering him a herd of acceptable targets to use as living stress balls. After the unpleasantness of being forced to kill his first non-Blighted Harpies, this was a golden opportunity to let loose – and he was going to make damn good use of it.
The monsters drew closer. Any second now, the carnage would commence. Elation and certainty mingled within him, letting him know that he was in his element. He emptied his mind of worries, soaking in the view. There were no war strategies, allied casualties, or moral quandaries to concern himself with.
Just him, and his prey.
Rampage. Rob flew upwards towards the Lord of the Caves. It was a freakish behemoth of a bat, its head as large as a man's body. The creature sank its fangs into Rob's torso, biting down as if four longswords were piercing through him, vital organs shredded to confetti.
637 Piercing Damage Sustained!
It tickled. Rob completed his swing, landing a direct hit on the Lord's head. He didn't activate any additional offensive abilities, because he didn't need to. Blood for Blood increased his damage based on his missing HP. Rampage highly increased the damage of his next attack. Headsman increased his damage by 25% when attacking an enemy's head. Bone Breaker doubled the damage he dealt to an enemy's bone structure.
With all those passive effects stacking onto each other, the bat's neck was almost severed in one clean stroke. Thanks to Lifesteal, Rob immediately recovered most of his lost HP, like nothing had ever happened. Despite the bat's head hanging by threads, it stubbornly clung to life for a few moments longer – but only a few.
Swordsmanship Level Increased! 9 → 10
One down. Plenty to go. Rob pivoted to the next-closest monster, a gargantuan bear that reminded him of an Ixatan beast that had caved his chest in, once upon a time. Emboldened by nostalgia, he put a bit more oomph into his next attack, stacking Rampage, Power Slash, and Imbue Vitality.
The bear's outer hide was abnormally tough, similar to a Vanguard's armor. That mattered up until the point Rob broke the skin, after which Imbue Vitality's quadruple damage effect savaged the beast from within, its insides reduced to crimson mush.
Level Increased! 84 → 85
5 Stat Points Gained!
BERSERKER Level Increased! 82 → 83
An apelike creature with distended arms leaped ahead of the rest of the pack, enormous hands wrapping around Rob before he could dodge. It let out a warbling bellow, squeezing down with enough pressure to bend steel. Rob's bones, durable as they were, started to crack.
Vitamin D(efense) Level Increased! 10 → 11
Cute. He flicked on the Flames of Vengeance, azure fire covering his body. A grin spread over Rob's face as the beast shrieked and let go. "No, no, we were having a moment. Don't hide from your emotions." Rampaging forward, he jumped on the ape's head and gave it a big ole' hug. The shrieks intensified, mighty fists pounding at his body, fracturing more bones in a desperate attempt to dislodge him.
It was all for naught. The ape's struggles slowed, then ceased, its brain cooked from the inside like spaghetti in a microwave.
Pyromania Level Increased! 2 → 3
The next one on the chopping block was an honest-to-god giant spider. Rob shivered as he summoned a crate of Firebombs and promptly Riardin Special'd the skittering menace into the hereafter. Arachnophobia's 300% damage bonus against spiders combined with Pyromania's 30% fire damage bonus – well, 40% now – meant that it lasted about two seconds before crumbling like a pile of chitinous kindling.
Good riddance. Monsters and abominations were one thing. Spiders...ugh.
Rob checked back the way he'd come from, narrowing his eyes when he saw that a couple monsters had skirted past him while he dealt with their friends. He chased after something that must've been birthed in a Dungeon on a bender, its body comprised of flying limbs and harsh edges that hurt to look at if he stared for too long.
The floating Picasso painting in monster form suddenly whirled around, aiming multiple sharpened points at Rob's head, neck, eyes, heart, and liver. It was a phenomenally well-executed attack that would have been the envy of any Combat Class user.
Unfortunately, Picasso had chosen the one target in the world that could turn lethality into a detriment. With a thought, Rob deactivated all of his defensive Skills, then activated Dauntless Reprisal, reflecting the damage of five grievous blows back onto the creature. It collapsed into itself, twitching on the ground, silently pleading for mercy as a longsword ended its suffering.
Swordsmanship Level Increased! 10 → 11
As Rob reactivated his defensive Skills and chose his next target, something in the monsters' attitudes shifted. Several of them went from stampeding ahead to turning towards him on a dime. Their movements were stiff and jerky, as if puppeteered by an unseen force.
"Hi Elnaril!" Rob twirled his longsword. "Hope you don't mind me Old Yeller-ing your pets here. I'm sad to say that you didn't train them prop–"
The creatures pounced in unison. Claws and fangs savaged Rob's from head to toe, tearing off limbs and pulling apart flesh. A good chunk of his body mass disappeared in seconds.
Platelet Party Level Increased! 20 → 21
1021 Combined Damage Sustained!
"Wow, that's a lot of damage." Rob grinned, blood dripping from the corners of his mouth. "On an unrelated note, guess what Skill just came off cooldown?"
Level Increased! 85 → 86
5 Stat Points Gained!
BERSERKER Level Increased! 83 → 84
BERSERKER Level Increased! 84 → 85
Rob stood in the center of a crater. Living Bomb had ripped the ground open like scooping ice cream. He was once again back to full health, Lifesteal having converted 50% of the damage he'd dealt into HP.
And he'd dealt a lot of damage.
"It's like I said," he whispered, to nothing in particular. "They can't kill me. When I put my mind to it, I'm a better monster than they could ever hope to be."
The thought didn't distress him like it would have back home on Earth. It wasn't so bad, being a monster to monsters. Kept his friends alive, put food on the table...there were worse careers, he supposed.
Rob jumped out of the crater, searching for new targets. Living Bomb wasn't nearly large enough to take out all of them at once. He set his eyes on a fleeing wyvern and gave chase. As the gap closed, he checked his available Skills, and oh would you look at that, Imbue Vitality was off cooldown now.
Swordsmanship Level Increased! 11→ 12
One monster fell. Then another. Then another. Rob alternated his Skills, rotating between whatever abilities were available.
Swordsmanship Level Increased! 12→ 13
More creatures tried ganging up on him. It didn't work.
Platelet Party Level Increased! 21 → 22
Headsman! 4 → 5
He sliced and cut and Firebombed everything in his path.
Pyromania Level Increased! 3 → 4
Until eventually...
Level Increased! 86 → 87
5 Stat Points Gained!
BERSERKER Level Increased! 85 → 86
There was nothing left.
Rob found himself surrounded by a pile of mangled corpses. He tried counting to see if he could reach thirty, then gave up. Too many mixed-up body parts. It was likely that a couple monsters had gotten past him, so he'd just have to hope for the best.
His prayers were answered when he arrived back at base camp. A wide smile split across Rob's face as he counted a mere six monster corpses littered around the outskirts. They hadn't even gotten close. Most importantly, there wasn't a single allied corpse anywhere in sight.
Zero casualties.
Everyone was staring at him with various looks on their faces. Rob didn't bother trying to decipher all of them. They could think whatever they wanted to think – results were what mattered. The coalition may have lost some soldiers in the Harpy attack, but from the monster stampede?
Zero goddamn casualties.
Rob took a bow, then went straight for his tent. He wasn't going to find a better note to sleep on than this. His consciousness faded the moment he closed his eyes.
And the nightmares didn't dare to come for him.


Changes, Character Sheet, Skill List
Thanks for reading!
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2023.05.29 04:46 scarlet2248 Recommended Wedding Venues by State Part I

Recommended Wedding Venues by State Part I

California Wedding Venues

Carneros Resort and Spa

Located at 4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa. It has a rustic charm where you can see vineyard views and rolling hills. Also offers a hilltop restaurant with an outdoor venue that can accommodate up to 300 people. Catering, wedding planning, floral arrangements, photography, and other services are available. And the starting price is $200 per person.

Park Winters

Located at 27850 County Road 26, Winters. This is a five-star wedding venue and estate located in the middle of a farmland. There is a historic inn and event barn. This would be perfect for those who love a natural outdoor wedding surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Mountains. Catering, wedding planning, floral arrangements, photography, and more are available. Prices start at $150 per person and can accommodate up to 200 guests.

Montage Laguna Beach

The address is 30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. This romantic waterfront venue offers a lush grassy setting looking out over the coastline and blue sky. The largest ballroom has 7,500 square feet of space and can accommodate up to 500 people. Prices start at $250 per person. Services offered include catering, wedding planning, spa, music, and much more.

Oregon Wedding Venues

Sentinel Hotel

Located at 614 SW 11th Ave, Portland. This hotel is housed in a historic downtown building dating back to 1909. There are several exquisite banquet rooms to choose from, ranging from 50 to accommodate up to 900 people. The ballrooms are ornately decorated with elaborate carvings and elegant chandeliers. Prices start at $150 per person. Necessary wedding services are also available.

Mt. Hood Oregon Resort

The location is 68010 East Fairway Avenue, Welches. Which can give you a dream forest wedding surrounded by lush forests and the majestic mountains of Mt. Hood National Forest. Unlike other wedding venues, guided hikes and rafting excursions are available here. There is also a golf course for your use. The largest venue can accommodate up to 400 people. Prices start at $100 per person.

Lakeside Gardens

Located at 16211 SE Foster Rd Portland, Lakeside Gardens offers essential vendors for photography, videography, flowers, DJs, and hair and makeup services. It is surrounded by a lake and offers a natural view of the garden. The largest hospitality venue can accommodate up to 300 people. Prices start at $100 per person.

Washington Wedding Venues

The Edgewater Hotel

The luxury hotel at 2411 Alaskan Way, Seattle, was named "Best Classic Hospitality Venue in the Seattle Area" by Seattle Bride magazine. With views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and the Seattle skyline. The ballroom can accommodate up to 220 guests and prices start at around $200 per person.

Sodo Park

Located at 3200 1st Avenue South, Suite 100 in Seattle. This is a century-old building factory with a different style that makes it very popular in Seattle. The high beams and steamy ceilings make it unique. The entire venue can accommodate up to 300 guests and costs around $150 per person.

Cedarbrook Lodge

The address is 18525 36th Ave S, Seattle. Here you will find a lush garden setting and luxurious accommodations. Indoor and outdoor hospitality venues are available to choose from, starting at $150 per person.

Arizona Wedding Venues

Boulders Resort & Spa

The address is 34631 N Tom Darlington Dr, Scottsdale. This resort has a fantastic desert and rocky landscape. With open views and the vibrant colors of the desert sky at sunset. Offers a luxurious spa, and outdoor ceremony space. Prices start at $200 per person and can accommodate up to 300 guests.

The Phoenician

Located at 6000 East Camelback Road Scottsdale. There are various styles of venues to choose from, whether it be lush green gardens, sparkling waterfalls, or breathtaking valley views. There are also several sizes of banquet rooms to choose from. Prices start at $250 per person.

Arizona Biltmore

The resort is located at 2400 E. Missouri Ave Phoenix. Nestled among palm trees and mountains. A magical oasis forms at the base of the Phoenix Mountain Reserve, enjoying a tranquil desert setting. There are also two pools available and a total of six wedding venue options for up to 400 people. Starting at $150 per person.

Nevada Wedding Venues

The Venetian

An old-school luxury hotel located at 3355 South Las Vegas Boulevard, it can bring you the most traditional and unique Las Vegas-style wedding. Here you can admire the Italian style of architecture. Featuring indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces, and luxury accommodations. Starting at $200 per person.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

Located at 11011 W Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas. Unlike other luxury hotels, here you have a view of the Red Rock Canyon. The hotel offers five ballrooms and wedding venues that can accommodate up to 300 people. Prices start at $150 per person.

Neon Museum

Want to try something different for your wedding venue? Choose the Neon Museum at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, with its vintage neon signage, outdoor ceremony space, and unique atmosphere. You can take very vintage and fun photos. Prices are $2,500 for a two-hour rental, perfect for smaller weddings.

Idaho Wedding Venues

Boise Depot

Located at 2603 W Eastover Terrace, Boise. This is a historic Spanish-style building that was once used as a waiting room with the building. 8-hour rental is $1,455 and can accommodate a minimum of 165 people. It is important to note that government-owned venues like this have strict rules of use. So it is best to check carefully before renting.

Chateau des Fleur

The French-style building at 176 S. Rosebud Ln, Eagle. The largest ballroom features ivory walls, beautiful windows, an outdoor exit to the garden, gold chandeliers, and delicate gold wall sconces. Seating for up to 240 guests starts at $100 per person.

Still Water Hollow

Located at 18120 Dean Ln, Nampa. Has a rustic style and offers brand new indoor barn facilities. Tables and chairs for 150 people, pond with waterfall, fountain, and bridge. Rustic and elegant style venues can be designed for different styles of weddings. 12-hour rentals start at $5,500.

Utah Wedding Venues

Castle Park

A full-service event venue located at 110 South Main Street Lindon. Featuring an old castle-style building with outdoor ceremony space. Starting at $5,500 for a 12-hour rental. Catering, wedding planning, and other services are also available.

Red Butte Garden

Magnificent gardens at 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City. With expansive views of mountains, valleys, and gardens, offering a beautiful backdrop of plants. There are also waterfalls, ponds, and many more beautiful spaces. We recommend coming during the growing season of the plants which is the warmer months. This allows for a ceremony to be held in the stunning rose garden. Four-hour rentals from $2,500.

Log Haven

Located at 6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road Salt Lake City has a spectacular mountain wedding and reception venue. With countless natural features and waterfalls, the area also offers activities including skiing, hiking, biking, and golfing. Prices are affordable, with menu pricing starting at $32 per person.

Montana Wedding Venues

Chico Hot Springs

Located at 163 Chico Road Pray, Montana, this is a great year-round destination for weddings in Montana. Offering a variety of natural beauty and architectural features. Besides the historic stone houses, there are also mountain views. You can also soak in the hot springs to relieve the fatigue from the ceremony after a long day. Four-hour rentals start at $2,000.

Rockin' TJ Ranch

The address is 651 Lynx Ln, Bozeman, with unparalleled views of the Bridger Mountains and open meadows. This wedding venue has been a professional wedding service for 20 years and offers full-service planning. Basic venue packages start at $9,495.

The Ranch at Rock Creek

Located at 79 Carriage House Ln, Philipsburg, this large ranch allows the exploration of five mountain peaks. Find nature's rest and inspiration in the peaceful, storied West. It is also the world's first Forbes Travel Guide 5-star ranch. With ten square miles of rivers, forests, valleys, and vistas.
Of course, this luxury experience comes with a hefty price tag. Charters start at $90,000 per night for groups of 21 or more, plus 23% of the ranch fee.

Wyoming Wedding Venues

Jackson Lake Lodge

Located in Moran, Grand Teton National Park, this is a beautiful lodge less than five minutes from Jackson Lake. Known for its iconic views of the Teton Mountains. It is a must-see venue for couples who love nature. Because of its location within the National Park, Jackson Lake Lodge is open seasonally from mid-May to early October. Rates start at $150 per person.

Shooting Star Jackson Hole Golf Club

The address is Shooting Star, 6765 Crystal Springs Rd, Teton Village. In addition to the golf course view, a pond, lake, or stream is one of the beautiful views. Starting price is $200 per person.

Wyoming Stargazing

Are you an astronomy enthusiast? Check out the Stargazing Agency located at 1135 Maple Way G1, Jackson. Their wedding packages include the opportunity to learn about the constellations, planets, and the fascinating stories behind them. Stargazing tour leaders will guide the group through the night sky, answering questions and gaining insight into the beauty of the stars. This will be one of the most unique themed weddings guests have ever attended. Prices start at $175 a person.

Colorado Wedding Venues

Boettcher Mansion

Located at 900 Colorow Rd, Golden's premier historic event venue, the Boettcher Mansion offers unparalleled service in a meticulously maintained estate. Along with the beautiful mansion, there are mountain views for you to enjoy. The ballroom can accommodate up to 150 people with six-hour rentals starting at $3,500.

Butterfly Pavilion

The Butterfly Pavilion at 6252 W 104th Ave, Westminster can turn your wedding into a fairy tale. Offering outdoor venues such as gazebos, gardens, and a theater. There is also a popular and unique butterfly release ceremony. It is important to note that there are a variety of butterflies and plants, so please treat them with care. The minimum venue rental is $1,800.

Great Divide Brewing Company

Great Divide Brewing Company, located at 1812 35th St, Denver, allows you to host a beer wedding. Up to 75 guests can be accommodated so they will be in the middle of a keg. The atmosphere will be more relaxed and enjoyable, and a bar and drinks, planning, equipment, and servers will be provided. Rentals are for 6 hours and start at $3000.

New Mexico Wedding Venues

La Fonda on the Plaza

The hotel at 100 E San Francisco St, Santa Fe has a long history as well as a cultural background. It can provide an elegant atmosphere for your wedding, with unique hand-carved furniture in each room. There are four ballrooms to choose from, with authentic New Mexican décor. This includes charming fireplaces, hand-punched pewter chandeliers, and traditional terracotta tiles. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $4,000.

Loretto Chapel

Located at 207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe's Museum of Historic Places is perfect for weddings. Accommodating 139 guests, the interior of the chapel features original stained glass windows and an ornate altar. In particular, the church's famous spiral staircase is the star of many articles and is worth a look. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $2,500 and services include the use of the church and wedding coordinator.

Albuquerque Balloon Museum

This is the hot air balloon museum located at 9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE, Albuquerque. It offers soaring spaces and panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains. The museum features displays of hot air balloons of all colors and eras, including a weather lab. The price to rent the entire museum and North Plaza for six hours is $6,000.

North Dakota Wedding Venues

Red River Zoo

The Zoo at 4255 23rd Ave S, Fargo will be the most interesting wedding venue. The zoo is home to animals such as red pandas, gray wolves, and Pallas cats. There is plenty of space for outdoor weddings as well as indoor receptions, and a carousel is available in one of the venues. Saturday weddings start at $1,500 and services include tables, chairs, and access to the zoo exhibits.

The North Dakota Heritage Center

The address is 612 E Boulevard Ave, Bismarck. The museum showcases the state's rich history from its earliest geological formations to the present day. Offering a variety of indoor spaces, including galleries and a theater, it provides a unique and educational wedding experience. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $1,500.

Avalon Events Center

Prefer a more modern style wedding? The Event Center at 2525 9th Ave S, Fargo, while historic, offers five function rooms and new audio technology. Five ballrooms offer seating for up to 700 people and a full bar. Saturday weddings start at $2,000.

South Dakota Wedding Venues

Chapel in the Hills

The church at 3788 Chapel Ln, Rapid City is a place of beauty and inspiration. There are museums, trails, and hillsides to host services. Weddings are performed by the Chapel's pastor and it is open for weddings from May 1 to September 30 each year. The price is $400 for the use of the chapel and courtyard area. This includes a $100 minister's fee.

The Lodge at Deadwood

The address is 100 Pine Crest Lane, Deadwood and the backdrop will be the beautiful Black Hills. With four adjoining event rooms and the main ballroom, it provides the perfect space for weddings of any size. Wedding packages are available at a variety of prices, with the least expensive buffet package starting at $65 per person for a minimum of 100 people.

Buffalo Ridge Resort

A rustic resort located at 1312 Coteau St, Gary. Offers charming and historic wedding venues including a restored barn and beautiful chapel. The venue can accommodate up to 300 people and prices start at $4,500 for a Saturday wedding.

Nebraska Wedding Venues

Scoular Ballroom

The Ballroom at 2027 Dodge St, Omaha, is located just minutes from downtown. Located in the historic Scoular building, from the grand Italian marble floors of the atrium to the romantic balcony overlooking the spacious and inviting ballroom. Offering a modern and elegant wedding venue with a grand ballroom and beautiful outdoor terrace. Accommodates up to 300 guests and starts at $4,000 for a Saturday wedding.

Rococo Theatre

The theater at 140 N 13th St, Lincoln can give you a movie-like wedding. The theater has seating for up to 500 guests. The bride and groom can get married on stage while the guests sit in the first few rows of seats. Saturday weddings start at $2,500.

The Barn at the Ackerhurst Dairy Farm

Located at 15220 Military Rd, Bennington, this is an Omaha landmark and a historic site in the area. This wedding venue can accommodate up to 450 guests and includes an outdoor ceremony space and a large terrace with a fireplace. Off-season wedding rental rates start at $2,500.

Kansas Wedding Venues

Madison Avenue Central Park

Central Park at 512 E Madison Ave, Derby features a lawn, theater, and playground. And in the southwest corner, there is an event center including an indoor reception and outdoor patio. Accommodating up to 370 people, rates start at $800 for an 8-hour rental.

Petroleum Club of Wichita

The address is 100 N Broadway St 900, Wichita. this is a rooftop wedding venue located on top of the iconic Ruffin Building. With views of the skyline and city, it offers personalized service and beautiful décor. Wedding venue fees start at $4500.

The Oread Hotel

Located at 1200 Oread Ave, Lawrence, the hotel has two large outdoor patios. The patio overlooks the city and the Kansas River. There are nine different banquet rooms to choose from, the largest of which can seat up to 275 people. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $4,000.

Oklahoma Wedding Venues

The Dominion House

The main house is located at 602 E. College, Guthrie. The boutique hotel offers both intimate and grand wedding packages, including romantic indoor and outdoor venues. The outdoors includes a wedding garden and a four-season chapel, while the grand ballroom is designed in the opulent style of the 1920s. Wedding packages start at $2,000.

Glass Chapel

This is an intimate wedding venue located at 1401 West Washington St S, Broken Arrow. This chapel offers a unique and romantic wedding venue with a beautiful glass chapel and outdoor garden. The triangular roof and all-glass walls will make you feel like you are in a fairy tale world. Outside, the gardens and woods complement the modern design. The church can accommodate up to 100 guests and wedding packages start from $2450.

The Springs Event Venue

This is a wedding planning company that offers multiple venues. Event venues are located in various cities throughout Oklahoma, including Edmond, Norman, and Tulsa. Versatile and affordable wedding venues are available with a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $3,950.

Texas Wedding Venues

Grand Galvez

This is a historic hotel located at 2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston. The hotel is surrounded by lush gardens, expansive green spaces, and sparkling beaches. An indoor ballroom and terrace are included, and the ballroom features floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the bay. Up to 200 guests can be accommodated for a great wedding service. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $10,000.

The Bell Tower on 34th

This beautiful clock tower is located at 901 W 34th St, Houston, and has a castle-like interior with a magnificent grand staircase, arches, and marble floors. Every aspect of the building is luxurious. Wedding packages are available on an all-inclusive basis, with prices starting at $10,000 for a Saturday wedding.

The Oasis on Lake Travis

This restaurant is located at 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin.Along with an event center located 450 feet above Lake Travis, offering unparalleled views. An outdoor patio overlooking the lake is available. Up to 400 guests can be accommodated and prices start at $5,000 for Saturday weddings.

Minnesota Wedding Venues

The Gale Mansion

This mansion at 2115 Stevens Ave, Minneapolis is also a very popular wedding venue. With a warm atmosphere and inviting decor, it offers an elegant and convenient space to host the wedding of your choice. 12 hours of rental costs a total of $5,700 including the rental of the mansion and ballroom.

The Outpost Center

The address is 6053 US-212, Chaska. Built on 32 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, it is a beautiful and peaceful venue close to the city. The main venue's red facade and green roof create an oil painting-like backdrop. It has the ambiance of a barn wedding with all the amenities and gorgeous rustic grounds. Wedding packages start at $4675 for 50 guests.

Nicollet Island Pavilion

The event venue at 40 Power Street, Minneapolis is full of unique charm and style. Exposed brick walls and tall industrial ceilings create an open atmosphere full of character. You can have the best views of the Minneapolis bridges and skyline at this venue. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $3,500.

Iowa Wedding Venues

Brenton Arboretum

This is a botanical garden located at 25141 260th St, Dallas Center. It has approximately 2,500 plants representing more than 500 different species, cultivars, and hybrids. Offers great outdoor views and can accommodate up to 300 people. Saturday weddings start at $2,500 and services include access to the gardens and a wedding coordinator.

The Temple for Performing Arts

Located at 1011 Locust Street, Des Moines, it offers a large auditorium, recital hall, and suites for weddings. The Grand Hall can accommodate up to 450 people and features a tinted glass skylight and a magnificent original light fixture and a sculpted ceiling. High-season wedding receptions start at $4000 for the venue.

Figge Art Museum

The Art Museum at 225 W 2nd St, Davenport. The museum's lobby can accommodate 200 guests and has a modern design with high ceilings and terrazzo floors. The striking river view offers countless possibilities. The outdoor terrace provided also offers a magnificent view of the Mississippi River. The rental fee for the lobby is $2,500.

Missouri Wedding Venues

Lemp Mansion

Located at 3322 Demenil Pl, St. Louis, this mansion was once the home of a beer magnate but was the site of three suicides. It has since been turned into a restaurant and hotel, offering historical and ghost tours. The mansion has four sites, including a mansion, terrace, auditorium, and loft. Ceremony fees range from $950-$1900 and meals start at roughly $47 per person.

Jewel Box

The public gardening facility in Saint Louis is made of glass plates and copper frames. It has a variety of flowers and plants and is filled with bright sunlight perfect for wedding photography. It can accommodate up to 250 people as a ceremony venue and costs $1,000.

Wild Carrot

Located at 3901 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, with indoor hospitality space and loft and terrace. Includes renovated industrial building and outdoor patio. Prices for Saturday weddings start at $4,000 and can accommodate up to 200 people.

Arkansas Wedding Venues

Castle on Stagecoach

This is an old castle located at 6601 Stagecoach Rd, Little Rock. Offering intimate indoor spaces, the castle's unique architecture and décor provide an elegant and luxurious setting. The venue includes a lawn, barn, and stables. Prices start at $6,673 for 50 guests.

The Brick Ballroom

The event space at 119 B S Broadway St, Siloam Springs, was formerly a Chevrolet dealership. The building is 100 years old. Inside are black walls and original tin ceilings, vintage glass chandeliers, blue benches, and a built-in bar with a sink. There are also 5,000 square feet of covered balconies and gardens. The starting venue fee for a high-season wedding is $3,000.

Osage House

Located at 243 Pace Ln, Cave Springs, offers a beautiful and modern wedding venue. The venue is suitable for couples seeking minimalism, with architectural designs mostly in black and white. A chapel will be located a short distance from the lobby and included in the wedding package. With a maximum capacity of 428 people, wedding venue rentals start at $2800 in high season.

Louisiana Wedding Venues

The Elms Mansion

Located at 3029 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, the mansion is a typical Italianate-style building. It features an imported hand-carved marble mantel, decorative cornices, 24-carat gold sconces, and a 48-foot ballroom. Accommodates up to 400 people and starts at $4,500 for a Saturday wedding.

The Presbytère

This museum is located at 751 Chartres St, New Orleans, and has a rich history. A collection of elaborate carnival artifacts and memorabilia. You can hold a ceremony among the beautiful exhibits and rich artifacts and enjoy a fun evening with your family. Accommodates up to 500 guests, starting at $6,590 for 50 guests.

Race + Religious

It is located at 510 Race Street, New Orleans, and has three buildings with brick courtyards filled with greenery. The hotel has 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space on the ground floor. Dinner parties can accommodate up to 90 people, and prices start at $7,500 for Saturday weddings.

Alaska Wedding Venues

Alyeska Resort

This is a leisurely resort located at 1000 Arlberg Ave, Girdwood. is Alaska's premier year-round destination. Featuring more than 300 guest rooms, many fine dining experiences, a saltwater pool, a ski hill, and bike park, and a brand-new Nordic Spa. The ballroom can accommodate up to 220 guests. Reception rentals range from $500 to $1,000 and include five hours of event time.

The Alaska Zoo

The Alaska Zoo is located at 4731 O'Malley Rd, Anchorage. Inside are animals such as polar bears, wolves, snow leopards, and other rare species. The zoo has very spacious halls and lawns and a bright greenhouse. Hospitality hall rentals start at $800. Lawn rentals start at $1,450. Greenhouse rentals start at $675.

Hotel Captain Cook

Old fashioned hotel located at 939 W 5th Ave, Anchorage. One of the meeting and function rooms has a stunning panoramic view and fireplace. Panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet. Accommodates up to 600 guests and Saturday weddings start at approximately $5,000.

Hawaii Wedding Venues

Haiku Mill

The address is 250 Haiku Rd, Haiku, a unique European-style building amid Maui's lush surroundings. With over 150 years of history, it is an important landmark. A quaint and beautiful ceremony can be created. The venue can accommodate up to 100 people and prices start at $6,500 for a Saturday wedding.

Kauapea Beach

Also known as Secret Beach, has a 3,000-foot-long North Shore beach. Enjoy a sparsely populated stretch of beach with breathtaking views of Moquawe Island and Kilauea Lighthouse. Perfect for your seaside wedding venue. You can look for the right wedding contractor to prepare everything for you and prices will probably range from $800 to $1500.

Moana Surfrider

The resort is located at 2365 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu. First opened in 1901, it is just steps from the perfect shores of legendary Waikiki Beach and within walking distance of Honolulu's most popular shopping, dining, and entertainment attractions. There are seven event rooms in total, and the ballroom can accommodate up to 300 people. Wedding packages range in price from $3,500 to $9,500.

To be continued

After introducing the most popular and unique wedding venues in the western and central states, we will continue to cover the wedding venues in the eastern states. Stay tuned for part two of our wedding venue recommendations. In the meantime, if you choose an outdoor wedding venue, check out our multi-sized, stylized wedding tent. it will ensure that your outdoor wedding is not disturbed by the weather.
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2023.05.29 04:38 blankxlate Sweet Vengeance 6

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Memory transcription subject: Illia, Federation Communications Technician
Date [standardized human time]: October 21, 2136
Kiran and I embraced for what seemed like forever, idly sitting on the rainbow grass that colored the forest floor while huddled together in the darkness. The campfire near us was still full of life somehow, and provided a good amount of illumination throughout the campsite.
It was quite difficult to sit on my haunches upright, with nothing supporting my back. Despite that, It was well worth it and I would sympathize with her for as long as was needed. I remained alert, with my weapon still in my grip in case the human decided to return for round two. I gently massaged the girl’s back with one of my forehooves, hoping that my attempts at soothing her would ward away the trauma she had experienced.
“Illia..” Kiran sobbed into my chest, drenching the fabric of my jumpsuit. “T-thank you, thank you. I was scared that you didn't m-make it.. I don’t know what I would do if you didn’t. P-please don’t leave me.” She pleaded.
“I’m not going anywhere, sweetheart, don’t worry.” I replied, my voice a faint whisper. “The only thing that matters now is that you’re safe. You don’t have to worry about that.. thing anymore. It’s gone.” I consoled her, wiping the still-wet tears off of her ruffled feathers. “More importantly, are you hurt?” I checked her over, examining her lithe body from multiple angles.
She thought about that for a little while, then sat up, stretching a wing. She let out a cry of pain once it was half-way extended and brought it back down gingerly, wrapping a wing around her upper shoulder. I reached forward out of sympathy, my maternal instincts moving me to comfort her.
“Oh, Jild.. L-Let me see, honey.” I crooned. She heavily reminded me of my eldest, only daughter, and it was amusing how alike they were, despite being of different species.
I tenderly prodded the dull side of my hoof-paw against her supposed injured appendage, trailing it up towards her shoulder, which earned a startled chirp from her, followed by a slight jump away from my touch. The area of where her wing met her shoulder was bruised a deep purple, visible even beneath her feathers from where she collided with the tree. I was beyond grateful that nothing had broken, or even shattered. That would require extensive care, and we were lightyears away from the nearest hospital.
“How d-does it look, Illia? W-Will I be ok?” She sniffled, caressing her discolored limb while being mindful of its positioning. Sadness etched itself across my face, but I forced a hopeful look in Kiran’s favor. Thankfully, the bruising was the extent of her injuries, none of which were life threatening, though were still in need of urgent medical attention. The most I would be able to do would be to give her painkillers and make a sling for her.
Our best option now is to find Orsik and the rest of the crew.
“It’s.. fine, honey. Don’t you worry. I’ll get you fixed up, and you’ll feel all better, ok?” I said while rummaging through my bag for my first aid kit. I had a thorough understanding of how to dress wounds, as well as the proper medical procedures that came with it. Kiran would need her arm immobilized so that any further injury could be avoided. We’d better find help soon, I can only help her so much. I internalized.
Pulling out the kit, I took out a bottle containing the painkillers and a small, square-shaped piece of cloth, which unfolded into a much longer strand of fabric. I cautiously draped the cloth along her shoulder, positioning her arm along her abdomen much to her discomfort, and tied it off. Her arm was now fully supported, and the risk of worsening the injury had decreased. Feeling satisfied with my work, I grabbed the vial of painkillers, urging her to take one. I then grabbed one of the large bottles of water from my pack, holding it a distance away from her beak. “Drink, sweetie.” She welcomed the fluid into her mouth, tilting her head back as I poured the bottle. She eagerly chugged down the substance in record time, unmistakably parched. It had probably been a while since her last drink of water.
I leaned back and returned the now empty bottle to my bag, and observed her checking out my handiwork. Her gaze met the ground suddenly, and she froze, her eyes glossing over. I waited for her to say something, anything. Her abrupt silence was starting to worry me.
“Sweetie?” She gazed off into the distance, no doubt reliving her near-death experience. “Are you alright?” I nudged her, snapping her attention back to me. Tears began to bubble in those wide eyes of hers again; her grip on my jumpsuit tightened, and her hackles raised. She was visibly shaking.
“It.. it came out of n-nowhere. I could feel it w-watching m-me, even before I s-saw it. It.. I knew it w-was there, and th-then.. She whimpered. T-there was so m-much blood, and I-I.. Her voice was hoarse, describing her contact with the predator. “I-I was.. Was so s-scared.. I-I’ve never been more scared b-before in my life..” She choked the words out. “I didn’t know what to do, I-I couldn’t m-move.”
I lay my head gently on top of her own. “That’s just your instincts kicking in, honey.” I assured her. “Everyone has them.” I felt her rapid heartbeat slow gradually as she listened to my words. “You’re safe. Relax, my sweet.” The corners of my mouth turned up in a smile. “I am very proud of you, setting up camp all by yourself. You’ve proven to be very strong and capable out on your own.” My smile died down a bit. “I’m sorry that I didn’t come sooner, but I didn’t forget our promise.”
She released her tight grip on me, reeling back and looking at me with one eye. She swallowed. “Neither did I. I-I knew you would come, so I w-waited.” There was a pause after that, the both of us glad to be in each other's presence. “Thank you, Illia.”
I flicked my ears toward her, and my grin grew wider. “Of course. Let’s get out of here.” I stood up on my hind hooves with a grunt, stretching out my tired muscles. I extended my paw downward towards her, and she took it with her uninjured wing. I helped the virtually weightless girl to her talons, and hefted my backpack over my shoulders. My poor spine ached in protest, practically begging for a break. “Ready?” I turned my head towards her.
“Illia?” She spoke after a moment, craning her neck up towards me.
“Yes, Kiran?”
“That thing, the h-human.. Did you k-kill it? Where did it go?” A worried look crossed her avian features, waiting for my response. I wouldn’t want to worry the poor girl, but I don’t want to lie to her, either.
I inhaled sharply after a moment, inadvertently giving away the answer to Kiran even before my admission. Her brows upturned slightly with worry. My own eyes latched onto hers, and I breathed a sigh, confirming her suspicion.
“Y-you.. You didn’t kill it?! It’s still out there?! Oh, Inatala..” Her feeble legs wobbled, and I kept her from falling over. “W-why? Illia.. Y-you should have killed it when you had the chance! How is it e-even here? Did it f-follow us?!” The distraught avian squawked in alarm, and my ears flattened in response from the sudden change in pitch.
The loud krakotl girl was likely to attract unwanted attention, with how boisterous she was currently. I gently clasped a hoof-paw around her beak, attempting to silence her. “Hey! Calm down, sweetie. Deep breaths. We’re not on Nishtal, or anywhere else. Remember? There’s bound to be predators around here, so we have to be quiet.” That silenced her instantly. “Please, for both of our sakes.” I concernedly whispered. Her frantic chirping died down, and I released my paw.
I inhaled deeply, my lungs pulling in the night’s chilly air. I’d have to answer the many questions that she has bombarded me with now, lest her little heart stops.
A long breath escaped my lips. “I hesitated. I.. I couldn’t pull the trigger, knowing that I would be ending the life of a sapient, living creature. Killing is wrong, regardless of whether it’s prey or predator. I refuse to stoop down to its level.” I explained my actions. “As to how it got here, we must have picked it up somewhere around the time when we boarded the bomber ship. I had a suspicion earlier, I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.” I was sorely tempted to put the murderous bastard out of its misery then and there, but it didn’t sit right with me.
She clicked silently to herself, the gears slowly turning in her head.
“I-I thought something was wrong, on the ship, with how you were staring at the door. I was w-worried..” She nervously fidgeted, her talons puncturing the surface she stood on. “Uhm, why.. W-why does the human want to k-kill me? What d-did I do?” She timidly met my gaze again, glancing up at me with watery eyes.
I snorted, raising a four-digit paw and setting it down gently on her uninjured shoulder.
“It isn’t you, Kiran. Killing is in a predator’s nature, their bloodlust drives them crazy. They can’t help it even if they tried, that’s why we can’t live in peace.” I snorted, angering myself over my own rant. “I just wish that we had finished the job.” I muttered, referring to erasing humanity from existence.
Something else was plastered on her face now, something not dissimilar to a look of betrayal. “Illia?” She gulped. “D-do.. do you have predator disease?” Her voice was unsteady, but at the same time, nothing but a faint whisper.
Those words rekindled a flame in me that I thought to be snuffed out a while ago. I snorted angrily, outraged that she would even ask me such a thing, after I had saved her life. She would be dead if I hadn’t intervened, but here she was, accusing me of being the very thing that I had saved her from.
The adrenaline in my system dissipated as I stared into her frightened eyes, and I restrained myself from throwing a fit. Kiran was young, and couldn’t comprehend that predator disease wasn’t an actual illness, but instead was a way for the Federation to retain its chokehold over its citizenry. Though, I wasn’t about to berate the girl over flawed conspiracy theories. She clearly knew nothing of the pain it caused, as naive as she was.
But I knew it well.
She was as stiff as the trees surrounding us, eyeing me expectantly. I felt a pang of sadness as I noticed that she even stepped back a few paces, away from my reach. The Federation had indoctrinated her far beyond the point of recovery with their nonsensical rhetoric. It was insane to think that one misguided accusation was all it took to break apart the bond between two people. There was no use reasoning with her, but I could try.
Is that how she saw me? A predator? That caused me more pain than any weapon could physically inflict, especially coming from her. Where did this even come from? I was nowhere close to matching the Humans’ brutality, or even the Arxurs’, and yet, she still regarded me as one of them.
I released a snort, dismissing the indirect insult. “No.” I said sternly, clearly heartbroken, as much as I tried to mask it. “Honey, we’ve known each other for quite a while. If I truly had.. ‘Predator disease’, don’t you think I would have shown signs of it by now?” I left the question in the air as Kiran attempted to make sense of my reasonable statement. “Well?”
“T-That makes sense..” Her voice cracked.
“Don’t you trust me, Kiran? Why would you ask such a thing?” My own voice wavered as my heart split down the middle, waiting for her reply. Although, I knew what it would be.
“I do.” She squawked a little while after, catching me completely off-guard. “It’s just.. I-I heard you, threatening the p-predator. Y-You were so b-brave, and instead of running the other way, you just.. held it at gunpoint, and shooed it away from me. You weren’t s-scared at all, even when it wanted to kill you.” She gulped.
“Of course I was scared. I was terrified.” I pleaded. “But I couldn’t just stand back and do nothing, not while your life was at stake. I had to be strong, whatever the cost. It would forever haunt me if I had left you to die, to save myself. I would n-never, I c-couldn’t..” I whimpered through ragged breaths, a dam of emotion bursting through my guise of strength. “I have known nothing but pain and anguish since I set hoof on this planet. I’ve already lost so much, and losing you would absolutely destroy me.” I sobbed, gasping for air. I felt embarrassed, having Kiran see me in my current state. I had tried so hard to be strong for her, but the events of this past week have finally caught up to me.
I wept, hiding my tears in the crook of my elbow. I felt a warm touch caress my upper arm, and I moved my arm away from my eyes. Looking down, Kiran had moved closer to me with a comforting smile on her face. It would seem that she had discarded the ‘sulean predator’ claim after witnessing the humiliating waterworks display in front of her.
“I believe you.” She smiled with her eyes. Relief washed through me instantly. She was the one person in the Federation who had wanted to be my friend, let alone even talk to me. Despite being on a mystery planet with a slim chance of escape, she was a light in the darkness. I hope she knows what she means to me.
I grew a smile of my own and latched onto her in another embrace, being careful not to disturb her shoulder. I snorted through my nose contentedly. “Thank you.” I sniffed. Although startled at first, she returned the hug, squeezing me tightly. While embraced, for a brief moment all of my worries had faded away, replaced by a feeling of adoration and hope. We departed from each other, our bond reinstated.
“See? I’m not foaming at the mouth, am I? Guess I’m not a predator after all.” I joked, hoping it would be well received. I gently tickled her side with my hooved manipulators, causing her to giggle.
“Ok, ok! I trust you! The little one laughed, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes. Her breathing returned to a calm pace. “So. Where to now?”
“What do you mean, little one?” I inquired. “It’s pitch black out there, surely you’re not thinking of heading out now, are you? The human is still out there, and it probably isn’t the only thing we have to worry about.” Wandering through the wilderness in the dead of night wasn’t the best idea, with the looming threat of predators. We’d have to make do here, where our chances of surviving the night were slim enough as it was.
“O-Oh, yeah, you’re right. I-I’m just.. scared that it may come back.” She sheepishly admitted.
“Listen to me.” I met her frightful gaze. “I will not let that thing hurt you ever again. Not while I’m still here.” A motherly tone painted my words, although sounding a bit too harsh.
“Promise.” I smiled. “Is there only one tent?” I switched the subject.
“Uh, y-yeah, sorry. Is it ok if we share?” She asked while walking up to the circular formation, opening it up.
“Of course.” The exchange was awkward, but we had to make do with what little we had. I climbed inside of the tent after her after taking out my floodlight, switching it on and setting it down directly in front of the tent’s flap, facing towards the shadowy trees. That’d provide us extra security, I hoped. I set my bag down onto the tent’s floor, feeling much better now without it weighing me down.
I plopped down onto my natural state on all fours. I had been ambling on my hind hooves for most of my stay on this planet, and had forgotten the comfort of having my weight equally distributed throughout my body. The muscles in my back ached, and I slid down and rolled onto my side, being able to relax at long last. I scooted my backpack towards me, intending to use it as a makeshift pillow. I released a snort of contentment as I rested my skull on the surprisingly comfortable rucksack. , the tent floor being surprisingly comfortable. A tired yawn escaped me, and my tongue lolled out of my mouth on autopilot as I felt my eyelids droop.
As much as I had wanted to sleep, I wouldn’t be able to, not with the threat of danger still lurking in the forest. We were most vulnerable while sleeping, especially while it was still dark outside. The fire was still going and was fairly close to our tent, but I wouldn’t trust that it would completely protect us from predators. I groggily sat up from my makeshift restplace and shook myself awake, followed by a tired groan. I grasped my forehooves around the weapon that I had clumsily discarded onto the tent’s floor, checking the railgun’s ammunition. Dread hit me with the realization that I was down to a singular bolt. That didn’t make me feel entirely secure, but it was better than nothing at all.
I looked to Kiran, who was already tucked in and ready for the next day. She lay down on a blue sleeping bag, completely enveloped inside of it, except for her head. I chuckled to myself while watching the adorable child snuggle inside of the bag that was far too big for her size.
She caught me staring at her. “Illia?” She spoke, cutting out the crackling of burning wood for a moment.
“Yes, dear?” I yawned again, the tiredness taking over me became unbearable at this point.
“W-What’s the plan for tomorrow?” She asked me with an inquisitive inflection in her voice.
“Well, I would imagine that we’d try to find Orsik. That’s really the only option we have right now. That way, you can be treated by an actual doctor, and not a silly sulean.” I quipped.
“I-I don’t think you’re s-silly..” She admitted meekly.
I faced her, flattered by her comment. I smiled. “Thank you, sweetie. That is very nice of you to say.” A light in the darkness. I crawled over to her, resting on my side next to where she lay. I had my weapon at the ready with a forehoof resting on top of it. I looked down at her adoringly as she shuffled inside of her covers. “Sweet dreams. I’ll see you in the morning. We’ll go looking for everyone else tomorrow.”
“What about the ship? Shouldn’t we go there?” One of her blue eyes studied me.
“I came from there, it’s nothing but a smoking heap of metal now.” I yawned. “We shouldn’t move too far away, Orsik said he’ll come to us. Besides, we’re safer here than out in the dark, right?”
Kiran whimpered, not satisfied with my answer. “Remember our promise?” I asked.
Her deflated look withered away. “Y-yes, I do..” She breathed. “O-ok, only if that means that we can leave as soon as they f-find us.”
“Of course. We won’t stay here longer than is absolutely necessary. I’ll get a signal started in the morning.”
“A-Aren’t you worried about predators? What if they come while w-we’re sleeping?”
I lay my head down onto my satchel. “I am.” I admitted. “And I would prefer not to meet them anytime soon. I think it’s a great sign that we haven’t already.” I gave a dismissive snort, hoping that was the last of her questions. “They won’t bother us, at least not tonight. The floodlight should keep them away, no worries.” I reassured her.
“Oh, ok. Good night, Illia.” She chirped.
“Good night. Sweet dreams, little one.” I caressed her feathers, then committed myself to watching the tent’s opening for the rest of the night.
- - -
I awoke, cursing after realizing that I had been asleep. I didn’t expect myself to be awake for the entire duration of the night, but I was still upset with myself for giving in to my fatigue. Something could have happened, but I was glad nothing did. I was still tired, having stayed awake for most of the night watching over Kiran. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes with a forepaw. My railgun was still grasped in my other forepaw, and I brought the gun up to my hip, holstering it.
Some of my worries over the human still being out there somewhere had faltered; perhaps it lost interest after witnessing my display of superior strength? Predators preferred a challenge when hunting, but their small brains understood when the odds were not in their favor. This human in particular probably saw our small group as easy pickings, and had developed a taste for krakotl flesh. That’d explain the blood spattered all over it, almost as if it were a trophy.
I looked at Kiran, who was still sound asleep. The beautiful orange of this planet’s sun filtered in through the translucent barrier surrounding us; its angelic rays permeated throughout the tent and casted a wondrous shine onto her dull blue feathers.
I yawned, standing up on all fours and leaned into a stretch. The soreness had worn off, and I was ready for another long journey, this time with the presence of my avian friend. I had another long day of strengthening my hind legs, no doubt. I just hope that the rest of the crew were close.
I unzipped my dirty jumpsuit, checking my small cuts. They seemed to be in relatively good shape and had scabbed over, leaving a soreness behind. After confirming that the wounds weren’t infected, I zipped my uniform back up.
I gently shook the sleeping Kiran awake. “Good morning, sleepy. It’s time to head out.” I whispered softly. She stirred and sat up. “Are you hungry? I have some rations.” I reached for my pack, snatching two cans of processed vegetable bars and handed one to her. “You need to eat to keep your strength up, honey.” I dug into my own helping quite quickly, stowing away the empty can. It wasn’t the best tasting thing in the galaxy as it was made specifically for the krakotls’ sophisticated palate. “How did you sleep?” I spoke between mouthfuls. She ate hers bit by bit, to the best of her ability. I imagine it would be difficult to eat something with a beak as narrow as hers was, so I patiently waited for her to finish.
“I slept well, actually.” She faced me, full of youthful vigor. It was almost as though her self confidence had drastically improved overnight. She stretched her good wing out, and checked the sling on the other. Once she was done with her helping, she got up, brushing her manipulators through her feathers. “How about you, Illia?”
“Good! I’m glad. Me, I slept like a fawn.” I fibbed, stifling another yawn. “Oh, let me take that from you, sweetheart.” I motioned to her empty vegetable bar container. I collected the tin from her, tossing it along with the other. I reached for my bag, leaving the heavy non-essentials inside the tent. I slugged it over my shoulder once more, my spine thanking me for lightening the load. The pack’s weight felt far more manageable than it did before. I might even be able to actually walk around with it this time. I wondered.
“Are we ready to go?” I stood in front of the tent, raising a forehoof to unzip us to freedom. The krakotl girl chirped her affirmative after checking herself over, and we both exited the tent, ready for another adventure. Upon leaving, I was extremely surprised to see that I didn’t even have to reignite the fire, as it was still burning, although not as strong as yesterday. The crimson tree that Kiran had made the campfire out of was highly flammable, if I had to guess. That would explain the randomly scorched trees throughout the landscape that I saw earlier. I was relieved that none of them combusted while we were asleep.
“Alright. Let’s head this way, shall we?” I plucked some of the damp yellow moss from a neighboring tree with a spare piece of fabric in between my hooves in case it was an irritant, which was smart thinking on my behalf. I chucked the large bundle into the blaze, smothering the few flames that remained. The fire choked for a moment, then began eating away at the moss, emitting a white column of smoke that snaked towards the light orange of the morning sky.
We checked if we had everything, then started on our expedition. I wasn’t sure where we’d go first, but it would have to be relatively close to where the campfire was in case anyone was nearby. I eyed the skyline before us, the mountains in the distance were a wonderful gradient of bright reds, purples, and yellows, perfectly blending together.
I breathed in the fresh morning air. This would have been a delightful trip, were we on a civilized planet. It still was, to an extent. The native organisms of this untouched wonder of a planet were truly a sight to behold, regardless of its many dangers. From the vivid colors of the flora to the deep red sky watching overhead, everything about this world was eye-catching.
We ventured throughout the crimson woods, encircling the campsite while keeping an eye on the smoke signal so that we wouldn’t veer off-course too much. I also was wary of the tall grass and dense shrubs around us, concentrating on even the slightest noise or movement. Today was particularly windy, so my efforts were in vain. We kept to the more open areas, even if that meant making sharp detours around areas where a predator could be concealed in.
Every now and then we would stop for a break, as I had done before. Kiran fared well during our hike, if not even better than I. We stopped underneath the shade of some crimson trees for another rest after a long while. I unpacked one of our water bottles, taking a small swig before handing it to Kiran. We rationed our supplies as best as we could, but we were quickly running out of food. We would soon have to resort to checking if the local flora were edible.
The smoke signal was still in my sight, and we only had a small distance to go in order to complete our full circle. I had thought about calling out into the woods, but decided against it, as it was likely that we would attract unwanted attention. I felt extremely uncomfortable within the dark woodland, despite having a firearm in my possession.
I lay on the grassy floor on my side, attempting to cool myself off. Kiran was doing much of the same, though in a sitting posture. I lifted my head up, snorting through my nostrils to get her attention.
“Having fun?” I smirked playfully. She clicked her beak together with amusement.
“I would be, if the sun wasn’t burning into my feathers.” She squawked between pants. She rested her head against a rock that put even the brightest of rainbows to shame.
“It’s not all bad, is it? It's all about perspective; look at the positives! You have to learn to appreciate the little things in life.”
“Ok, I appreciate..” She glanced around her surroundings, looking for something of value. “I appreciate this rock, does that count?” She gestured behind her. I couldn’t help but chuckle. “It is quite the rock, isn’t it?” She giggled in response. I adored bonding with the girl, she was almost an extension of my own child, in a way.
I didn’t find it odd or strange at the time to fawn over the beauty of an inanimate object, as we both admired its various colors. “Alright, that’s enough geology for me, I think.” I stood, dusting myself off. I heard a faint snapping sound, and my eyes traveled back to the avian, who now looked absolutely petrified, a lone eye focusing on me. She looked almost as scared as she had been when the human attacked her, but this is far worse. Is she looking at me?
I tilted my head in confusion. “Honey? Y-you’re scaring me.” I chuckled nervously. “What’s wrong?” She gave no response. I suddenly felt a massive surge of anxiety wrack my brain, and my ears perked up. The same feeling that haunted me on the ship returned for a comeback, and this time, my question didn’t have to be answered. I heard shuffling a good distance away from me, and I whipped my head in that direction, following her blank stare. My ribcage tightened as I struggled to breathe. I watched the tall grass adjacent from our position, waiting for something to happen.
The first thing I saw were its horrible forward-facing eyes with slit pupils, instantly recognizing it as a predator. They both were dilated, intent on feasting on our bloody flesh. The feral predator observed me with its piercing golden orbs as it slunk closer. It stalked towards us with its head low to the ground, stray droplets of drool spilling out of its long, gaping maw of which were lined with dozens of razor-sharp teeth capable of effortlessly crushing bone.
I didn’t know what exactly I was looking at, but I knew it was there. The beast prowled out of the tall grass in short strides with its ghastly head low to the ground, drooling over our new and alien scent. The lengthy blades of grass combed over its rainbow-colored hide as it revealed itself. Both it and the grass were a near match in terms of coloration, as I strained my eyes to focus on its appearance.
As it moved further into the light, I was able to get a better glimpse of it. The creature itself was covered in skin instead of fur, which was odd. The upper body of the animal was speckled with various bright colors that mimicked the grass, only for it to darken as the pattern stretched towards its underbelly, and morphed into a full jet black where it reached its clawed feet. I had never feared death before as much as I did right now.
I snapped myself out of my terrified stupor, jumping up to my hind hooves and quickly yanking my railgun out of its holster, jabbing it towards the thing with shaky hooves. I gasped for air as my lungs felt heavy, staring down the freak of nature. My heart sank even further and nearly burst out of my chest as I saw two other predators just like the first emerge from behind it. Oh, fuck. The weapon in my hoof suddenly seemed insignificant.
My eyes widened. We have to leave, now. I grabbed Kiran without a word, pulling her along rather roughly. I dashed as fast as my legs could take me while gripping around the length of Kiran’s wing. I didn’t look back once, only focused on making it back to the tent. There was no guarantee that the fire at the campsite would dissuade them from indulging in their hunger at all, but what other option did we have? I glanced back, and was horrified to realize that the reason why they didn’t already tear us apart was because they were giving us a head start. The monstrous things were playing with their ‘food’, for fun.
I looked down to Kiran, then up to the smoke rising from the campsite. We wouldn’t make it in time. I had to make a choice. I swallowed with teary eyes. ‘’G-go.” I flicked an ear towards the campsite. “Now!” I squealed. She obeyed my order without hesitation, and fluttered over that way.
I was not at all prepared for what I was about to do, and doing so would most definitely result in my death. Weeping, I stood in place as the grayish-blue feathered girl escaped to safety.
“H-hey!” I bleated at the top of my lungs while hopping around vigorously, doing everything in my power to attract the predator’s attention towards me. “Over here!” My voice was hoarse, filled with a mixture of emotions. I hope Kiran will be able to forgive me.
All three of their large heads whipped towards me, my diversion evidently working. I holstered my weapon and turned tail, speeding the opposite way and galloping wherever my legs would take me. I leaped through twisted trees only large enough for me to fit through, and hopped over large rocks, hoping it would slow the monsters down.
Just when I thought I was clear, my hind leg unfortunately latched underneath a root peeking out of the ground, forcing me into a halt. I stopped moving instantly as my momentum ceased, and a sharp pain shot through my ankle. I yelped in distress, my upper body smacking onto the dirt with a hard thud. I whined as my weapon was flung out of its holster, landing in front of me. I crawled towards the weapon with all of my remaining strength.
The predators sauntered over, a threatening growl reverberating through the pack’s leader. I crawled towards my last chance at living, finally reaching it. I fitted my fumbling fingers around the weapon as the predator leader charged toward me while I turned around, leveling the weapon with the rainbow demon’s skull. I expelled a single and final shot as the round soared through its nose, expelling a fountain of brain matter behind it as it fell limp, a couple of feet away from me. The other two creatures were taken aback at first, but were now furious that I had dispatched their leader. I was hit with the horrific realization that I had just used the last of my ammunition.
They slowly pressed onward as I lay on my back, a hideous expression of hunger plastered on their flesh-eating faces. I shut my eyes tight, bracing for an excruciating death. Is this it? Is this how I die? At least I can rest well knowing that Kiran is safe. Please, don’t let my death be for nothing. I prayed to whatever deity was listening. Let my family I lo-
My thoughts were interrupted by a sickening crack, followed by the predator closest to me snapping its head back and toppling over, painted by its own viscous blood that spilled out of a gaping wound in its skull. It had taken a clean shot to the side of the head, dying as soon as the projectile had landed. The third predator scampered away after hearing the loud noise, staring daggers into whatever it was that ended the life of its friend. It tucked its tail between its legs in submission, hissing towards my savior before retreating back to where it came from. What on Jild just happened?
I turned my head to my side slowly, still wary of my surroundings. Right next to me was the same human whom I had spared earlier, with its signature metal pipe still strapped to its back. Its arm was outstretched towards the dead predator, with a terran-made weapon grasped in its paw. It lowered the gun down to its side, and I screamed as it began stomping towards me, intending to claim its stolen kill. “O-Oh, Jild, no! P-please, don-don’t eat me!” I cried, trying to reason with the predator. Without thinking, I mindlessly raised the spent railgun up to the thing in an attempt to shoot it, and it retaliated, wrapping its gloved fingers around the weapon. It effortlessly ripped the useless gun away from my grasp with a mighty paw, tossed it to the side, and wrapped its paw around my body.
My nightmares were coming true. I would be eaten alive, without remorse. I would much rather have died at the fangs of the feral predators instead of the human’s. The human would take its time as it stripped me of my flesh, feeding on my suffering.
I was lifted up slightly with incredible strength while screaming my head off, struggling to worm away from its mighty grasp. I squirmed violently, not having enough air in me to continue screaming. The murderer held the gun’s muzzle up to my neck and uttered a single sentence with a deep, growling rumble: “Stop fucking moving.”
My translator implant belted out the meaning to me and I stupidly followed its orders and froze. I shut up, both terrified and surprised that it could understand me or even articulate comprehensive words. I was fully expecting it to sink its fangs into me, but instead the masked figure slipped the straps of my bag off of my shoulders, dropping me onto the ground and taking my satchel. It began to search through it diligently, tossing out what wasn’t to its liking. The human took out the last of my water supply along with my medkit and interestingly enough, a few of my vegetable bars. It tossed my near-empty bag back to me and slung its own massive bag around, stuffing the supplies inside.
I could only watch as it stole what little supplies I had left. For a moment, I was filled with pure, unbridled rage, replacing my fear with anger. “You m-monster!” I stood on my hind hooves, ignoring the pain burning through my right ankle and attempted to make myself appear as big as I could. “Y-you killed them!” I shouted at the emotionless predator. It had ripped my colleagues to shreds until they were unrecognizable, and it would pay. It in turn slightly tilted its mask towards me, unimpressed. I shrunk back down as its gaze fell upon me, and my ears flattened to my skull.
A low rumble came from it, which my translator picked up on as a chuckle. It was laughing. How dare you?! I snorted angrily. “You.. you’re.. Laughing? Wh-What is wrong with you?!” I yelled at the deranged predator. At that moment I wished I could go back in time and pull the trigger.
“I’m the monster. That’s funny.” It sadistically remarked. “I’m not the one who bombed an entire planet full of billions of innocent women and children.” It turned to face me fully, stalking over to me in angered steps. My posture tightened as I cowered in fear; its hulking shadow blocked out the sun above me. This was the closest I had ever been to the human, or any predator, really. It could probably smell the copious amount of fear that my body was producing.
“I should kill you right fucking now.” It growled with its deep, venomous tone. It held its weapon tightly to its side, threatening to break it. The being relented, apparently deciding against it. Wasn’t it going to eat me?
It stood there, staring down at me, unmoving. “W-why?” I whined. “Why did you.. k-kill them?!”
“You’ll have to be more specific.” It taunted me. My anger only grew.
“The.. the forest. Admit it! You killed them! I s-saw, I was there! Only a predator can do what you d-did!” I gasped, not meeting its gaze.
“Forest?” It scoffed. “What the fuck are you going on about?”
What?! That made no sense.. Assuming it really didn’t know what I was referring to.. Had it not killed that group of krakotl? No, that can’t be. Is this a case of predatory deceit?
“Wh-wha..” I stammered, confused.
“If you’re talking about the ship, that was me.” It boasted, speaking of the murderous act almost as if it were proud of it, which sickened me to the core. “I enjoyed every second of watching those featherfucks gasping for air, pawing at the airlock. I’d do it again, if I could.” Its grating voice resonated through my bones.
"Monster!" I exclaimed in agony, with a red hot rage coursing through my veins. I was furious over the monster’s admittance of murdering the bomber ship's crew.
The murderer cut me off as I breathed to speak, instantly shutting me down. "I may be a monster, but know this:" It leaned forward until I could see my own reflection in its bloodstained mask. "I am a monster of your own making." It spoke harshly, sending shivers down my spine.
I felt a wealth of various feelings welling up inside me, none of which I could openly express. I could only stand there, waiting for its next move.
It spoke again, “I’ll give you one last chance: you stay far away from your friends, especially that fucking bird, unless you want to die. Next time I won’t hesitate to kill you.” It proclaimed with a gravelly voice. It unfolded upward, straightening its spine. It then turned, walking away with its bounty into the wilderness once again, leaving me alone and confused.
Why on Jild did it save me? That made no sense whatsoever, and went against everything I had been taught. Did it really hold back its bloodlust just to taunt me over how much it loved killing? Why didn’t it eat me while I was vulnerable?
Multiple questions flooded my mind, and I had developed a headache that was worsening by the second.
With the human gone, I was left to my own devices. I picked up the scattered contents of my pack, recollecting them.
I heard the rustling of leaves across from me and I whipped around, facing the source of the noise. I was too spent emotionally to even process fear with my body mass producing adrenaline. I could do nothing but lean against a lone stump as I accepted my fate.
I had a good run.
- - -
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2023.05.29 00:58 TSMaynard1 [RF] ABP "Always Be Preparing"

Pine needles brushed across Paul's arms as he charged through the trees with his bugout bag slung over his shoulders. Weighing in at forty pounds, it hardly slowed him down as he’d practiced this hike many times. He flicked his wrist and checked his Garmin Solar 2 Tactical Watch. The timer read: 2:23.
“You can do this, Paul.” He increased the pace and gritted his teeth, the weight finally having an effect. Paul bounded over a small creek, up a rolling hill, and pushed through a row of baby birches into a clearing. He doubled over to catch his breath and looked at his watch one more time. Two hours and twenty-eight minutes. Paul pumped his fist in victory.
After a short break, he approached a thorny bush in the center of the clearing. Paul brushed aside sand at the bush’s trunk, revealing a yellow rope. He pulled it, which lifted a hidden door in the ground covered with dirt, shrubbery, and other camouflage on the top side, and drab gray iron on the other. Underneath, wooden stairs descended into darkness. Paul retrieved a flashlight from his pack, clicked on the beam, and disappeared into the earth.
At the bottom of the steps, Paul faced a steel door and a combination lock. With several quick swipes of the dial, he opened the lock and tugged the metal door, which creaked as it cracked open. Paul flashed the beam on the offending hinges and shook his head. Something to fix later. He stepped into the secret chamber and pulled a hanging aluminum chain that turned on a large halogen light, illuminating a twenty-foot by eight-foot metal rectangle. The exposed corrugated walls revealed the bunker was nothing more than a shipping container. Paul buried it two years ago and had divided the interior into three spaces. The entry had a shelf with four dozen gallon jugs of sealed water along with a portable toilet, stacks of toilet paper, and a wastebasket. The middle section was the main living area and contained a futon, a TV with a DVD player, and a neat collection of movies underneath. A nightstand housed a small library of books, including the Bible, The Art of Meditation, Buddhism for Dummies, and other spiritual tomes. The back area of the unit had two shelves filled with canned food—black beans, green beans, peaches, peas, carrots, beef, and chicken. There was also a stationary bike, which was Paul’s proudest accomplishment because he had rigged it to a giant battery that provided power to all the electronics.
Paul was a prepper, and this would be his home when the end of the world came, an event he believed was imminent. The global economy was a house of cards built on greed, corruption, and inflated asset prices, but worst of all, it was based on a faith in paper and digital money.
His fear was triggered four years ago when he attended a lecture by a professor who explained the fragility of the world’s financial system. If a few banks failed, it would rattle people’s confidence, causing a herd-like response. Thousands of people would rush to withdraw their cash, which the banks no longer had because they’d invested it. The banks would either fail, and everyday folks would lose their life savings, or the government would print new money to replace the missing money, making all money worth a lot less. Anyone holding dollars would attempt to convert them to other assets.
Just like dominoes, the banks would topple over one by one, and as they crashed, people’s faith in money would crater. After all, what was money? It was just paper with printed images and numbers that we’d all accepted as having value. More recently, money had become numbers displayed on a computer screen, something Paul knew firsthand as he spent the first seven years of his career working at a regional bank in Asheville, North Carolina. Paul could literally change someone’s net worth with a few keystrokes. He could turn a pauper into a millionaire, or he could bankrupt the richest account holder. Sure, there were safeguards, but all were built on faith, which Paul believed was misplaced. Most people didn’t realize that the Federal Reserve only required each bank to hold at least ten percent of its deposits as a reserve. Ten percent. That’s it. The rest of the money was invested in loans or other financial instruments. As the rich bank owners and executives pushed for bigger and bigger returns, they invested in riskier and riskier assets. The lessons from the financial crisis of 2008 had been forgotten.
Once the monetary system collapsed, the entire economy would become paralyzed. Without a means of exchange, transactions would halt. Think about it. If someone tried to give you a slip of paper that you thought was worthless, would you give them anything of value in return?
The doomsday scenario would escalate. Food and water prices would skyrocket, but with no way to purchase them, many would starve. But people don’t just roll over and die, they would riot and take what they need to survive. Marshall Law would be implemented, but citizens would revolt against the government they felt had cheated them.
As Paul listened to the lecturer that fateful day, a depressing epiphany struck. Everything he’d learned and everything he’d spent his life acquiring was worthless.
Growing up, Paul had been taught the value of money, saving, and planning for retirement. He internalized these lessons as a teen after his father got sick and lost his job. His mother had died when he was very young, but his father still managed to provide him with a stable childhood, even though they were barely middle class. When his father fell ill, Paul witnessed firsthand how fast a family could sink into financial trouble, which couldn’t have come at a worse time. He was applying to colleges, and instead of choosing the one he liked best, he chose the one that gave him the most financial aid, which turned out to be a small school half-way across the country. He also didn’t choose a major he was excited about; he chose the one that would offer the safest financial prospects—economics with an emphasis on banking.
The distance from home meant that Paul didn’t see the rapid deterioration of his father. It wasn’t until he returned for the funeral that family friends told him how the disease had spread. His father had refused to let anyone tell Paul because he didn’t want that to distract Paul from his studies.
After graduating, Paul accepted a job at a bank, and immediately signed up for the company’s 401K match. Most college graduates can't grasp retirement when they enter the workforce, but a 401K match was free money. Over the next several years, Paul worked diligently to advance his career while saving most of his salary. He’d mapped out his life on an excel spreadsheet and calculated that he’d be financially secure at 53.
Everything went according to plan until that damn lecturer came along and blew it up. Sifting through the rubble of his grand scheme, Paul realized that in the new world order, he possessed no skills to survive. The savings he’d so meticulously built up would have little to no value. When the economy collapsed, he'd be like a baby, unable to do anything for himself.
After a week of wallowing in despair, Paul rallied himself. “I can still fix this” became a daily mantra. To start, he threw himself into survival classes. The first was a basic camping course where he learned how to create shelters and start a fire. The next class was more advanced and focused on water purification and building snares for small game.
Paul continued working at the bank, because he needed to pay for the classes and survival equipment he began hoarding, but on his next vacation, he put his training to the test. He planned to camp for a week in the Appalachian Mountains, but the temperature swings, especially at night, were too much. Paul lasted three nights in the wild. The humbling experience forced him to admit that he wasn’t a bushman. His depression returned until he stumbled upon an article about “preppers”—individuals who prepare for end of world disasters. Suddenly, things made sense. He didn’t need to abandon all the comforts of modern society. He needed to prepare for the end of the world the way he had planned for retirement.
As Paul traveled down the rabbit hole of prepping, he uncovered an underground society of people like him who knew the truth about the world’s demise. Of course, not everyone believed it would end because of an economic collapse. Some thought a nuclear war would destroy civilization. Others feared electromagnetic pulses from the sun would wipe out all modern electricity. And still others worried a massive volcanic eruption would spew enough ash and soot into the air to blot out the sun. There was no shortage of theories about the world ending, but one thing was clear. The world would end. Did it matter how it happened?
Paul began his prepping quest by purchasing ten acres an hour and a half outside of Asheville. It had plenty of small animals and a creek running through the middle. He then transported an unused cargo container to the land and buried it. This was the toughest part of the plan because it required heavy equipment. Next, he dug out a staircase and installed a steel door at the entrance. Finally, he furnished it with a mix of modern comforts and survival essentials.
Almost every weekend, Paul trekked to his underground sanctuary and made improvements. He also planned his bugout strategy. When the end of the world hit, he figured he needed to be safely hidden in his home within two and a half hours, a time he had achieved with this latest trip. Everything was set, and Paul could finally relax. He was prepared.
Paul slumped down on his futon and considered playing a movie or cracking the bottle of Jim Beam whiskey he stored in a special cabinet, but he shook off the urge. Those things were the rewards and comforts he’d enjoy after the world ended. His fingers rubbed the top of the Bible, something he planned to read cover to cover once the global economy cratered. He’d have plenty of time then to discover his spiritual side, but not now. Something else needed to be done. Something he’d missed.
The biggest mistake a prepper can make is assuming he had everything covered. This was the lesson taught by Yannis, the guru of the prepping world. He was so well-known within the doomsday community; he only went by one name. The guy was sharp as a whip and could live off the land, if necessary, but he preferred a more sophisticated lifestyle, so he created a luxurious cave that contained backup systems for all his backups. Food, water, shelter, and electricity were all taken care of, and it was projected that Yannis could survive ten years comfortably after the apocalypse. His famous blog titled “ABP” stood for Always Be Preparing. It was a motto Yannis lived by and something Paul aspired to, but as he sat in his bunker after the relentless hike, fatigue set in. He didn’t want to think about prepping or his bugout strategy. He wanted to just be.
Paul tilted his head back onto the futon’s cushion, and a loneliness crept into his mind. All his prepping left little time for relationships. He dated off and on in college, but it was never anything serious. It wasn’t like his high school sweetheart, Kristin Summer. They dated junior and senior year, but then Paul broke it off when his father got sick. Paul couldn’t focus on romance, and he knew the relationship wouldn’t have worked when he left for school 1,500 miles away. It still hurt when he learned from a friend that Kristin started dating Derek Gorman, an old classmate Paul hated. It hurt even more when he found out they had gotten married.
After college, Paul joined a couple of dating sites, but he hadn’t used them in over two years. Most women wouldn’t understand his prepping lifestyle, at least that’s what he feared, so he rejected dating before anyone could reject him. But most wasn't all, and with eight billion people on the planet, there had to be someone for him. Almost without thinking, Paul pulled out his phone and opened “My Match,” the site where he’d had the most luck. His profile still had a photo from his early banking days. He was clean shaven with a naïve smile. The face staring back in the picture differed greatly from the bearded survivalist he’d become. Would anyone consider a relationship with the new Paul? Only one way to find out. He snapped a selfie, uploaded it, and then updated his hobbies with the first being “prepping” followed by “survival skills training.” He finished by pressing the button that showed he was actively looking for someone. All he had to do now was wait.
After spending the night in his bunker, Paul checked the dating site in the morning. No response. “It was a stupid idea,” he told himself, and stuffed his phone back into his pocket. He locked his container and returned home.
Over the next two weeks, Paul received zero requests for a date. He didn’t even receive a message from anyone to start a conversation and test the waters. “Shake it off, dumbass,” he said alone in the confines of his cottage-style home. “The world is going to end, anyway.” He clenched his jaw and did what he always did. He researched more ways to survive. Paul poured over blog posts and imagined worst-case scenarios. How could his water be contaminated? Maybe he should bury some caches of water. What if someone finds his shelter? Maybe security cameras were needed. What if he gets lonely in his shelter? No ideas came to mind.
After his eyes got tired from reading, Paul clicked out of his browser, and the list of all his apps stared at him. For reasons unknown to him, he opened Facebook, something he hadn’t done for months. There were a handful of notifications and a couple of friend requests sent weeks ago. His heart raced when he saw the name of one—Kristin Summer. When he accepted, he saw she was on-line right then.
Should he message her? Would that be weird right after accepting her request? But wasn’t it weird that he hadn’t responded for several weeks? He pulled up the messenger and typed. “Hey. Sorry for the delay in accepting your request. Hadn’t been on Facebook in a while. Been busy. Hope you and Derek are well.”
He curled his lip in disgust as he typed Derek’s name and considered deleting it, but he took the moral high ground and hit “send” with his message unaltered.
Kristin Summer. Just the thought of her name brought a smile to Paul’s face.
The sound alerted Paul to a response, which he read out loud. “Hey Paul. Good to hear from you. Derek and I divorced a little over a year ago. It was rough at first, but it was for the best. How are you?”
Paul’s eyes widened with shock and excitement. He couldn’t believe Derek was so stupid to let Kristin go. Paul could at least blame their breakup on his father’s illness. His fingers prattled away on the keyboard. “Things are amazing.” He stopped typing. That was a lie. Should he pretend like things were great or should he be honest and tell her about his prepping and the end of the world? Neither option sounded appealing. He tapped the keys without writing until he settled on something uncontroversial.
“Working at Trinity Bank in Asheville. It pays the bills. Where are you?”
Within a minute, the sweet sound of the notification binged. “I’m not too far away in Durham. If you’re ever in town, let me know.”
If you’re ever in town, let me know.
Paul couldn’t believe his eyes. Was Kristin asking him out? He shook his head. Nah, she’s probably just being polite. But maybe. If there was any chance, he had to find out. He chewed his lip and deliberated his next response. Fortune favors the bold, he told himself. Then he remembered Matt Damon telling people that in the now infamous commercial for FTX months before its collapse. When that occurred, Paul thought it was the beginning of the end, and he lived in his bunker for two days before emerging and finding the world still intact.
Paul clenched his fist. It was still good advice, and he had to try. Almost involuntarily, he typed, “I’ll be there tomorrow afternoon. If you want to get together, let me know.” His finger hit send before he could talk himself out of it. There was no qualification in the message. No waffling or hedging. It was clear Paul wanted to see Kristin. The only question now was whether she wanted to see him.
The next ten minutes felt like ten days. Paul paced back and forth with his hands over his head, and he glanced at the monitor every few seconds, just in case his ears had missed the notification alert.
There was nothing.
A dark depression filled the room. Why had he gotten his hopes up? What was the point, anyway? The world was going to end.
Paul leapt to the computer and his eyes widened with each word he read. “How about a lunch at The Fig Tree Restaurant on 7th?”
People overuse the word literally, but Paul at least felt like his jaw was literally on the floor. He had a date with Kristin Summer, the one woman he had loved. His hands rattled away at the keyboard. “See you at 1 tomorrow.”
“Holy crap,” he muttered to himself.
Panic replaced his excitement when he imagined sitting down and talking to Kristin. What would he say? “Hey Kristin, what have you been up to? Oh me? I’ve been working at a job I hate and planning for the end of the world.”
He drifted into the bathroom and stared at the scruffy character in the mirror. Paul could only cringe at the thought of Kristin’s reaction upon seeing him. She might not recognize the bearded loner who resembled Ted Kaczynski more than the short-haired, clean-shaven teen she last saw.
Only one thing to do.
Paul had to prepare. He opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of clippers. He began trimming his beard and mustache as short as the clippers would allow. Next, he applied a generous amount of cream and shaved all of it off. Paul smirked at the young man hiding under the shabby beard, but it still wasn’t enough. He set the guard on the clippers to a four and began shaving his head. In college, Paul cut his own hair to save money, and the skill came back to him quickly. He dropped to a three and worked in a fade on the sides and then finished with a two. Paul turned to the left, then to the right, and assessed his work. Not bad.
Next thing to prepare was his outfit. Paul slid the door of his closet open and evaluated his choices. A banker’s suit was too stuffy, and his mountain man denim was too hermit inspired. He yanked the clothes aside and climbed deeper into the recesses of his wardrobe until he found a nice buttoned-down shirt and a dark pair of slacks. It gave just the right vibe of successful and stable, while not trying too hard to impress, even though that was his precisely his goal. Paul laid the selection on the chair by his bed. Durham was a three-and-a-half-hour drive away, and he wanted to make sure he got there with time to find parking, and maybe use the restroom. He set the alarm on his iPhone for 6 a.m. That would give him plenty of time to take a shower, have breakfast, and get dressed.
There was no chance of falling asleep easily. His mind raced with thoughts, questions, and various scenarios about what the day would bring. To relax, he poured himself a double whiskey, which he downed with a single slurp. He poured another and sipped.
Kristin Summer. He shook his head, still in disbelief.
As the effect of alcohol set in, Paul laid down on his bed and shut his eyes. Tomorrow would be a good day.
Paul slipped into a deep, satisfying sleep until his mind jolted him awake. It was past 6 a.m. He didn’t know how he knew. He just knew. Paul had slept through his alarm. He snatched his phone off the nightstand, but it was out of battery. He checked his watch and saw it was 7 a.m. There was still time to get to Durham.
Paul jumped out of bed and into the bathroom. He flicked on the light switch, but nothing came on. Paul toggled it on and off, but the outlet was dead.
Police sirens wailed in the distance. Paul meandered out of his house and onto the front lawn. Aside from the sirens, there was an uneasy stillness. Paul’s neighbor Kurt ran out from his home with two suitcases that he flung into the trunk of his car.
“Kurt. What’s going on?” Paul asked.
“Fort Knox was bombed. All the gold was obliterated. And something happened to the electricity and the internet. They shut it down.”
“I don’t know, man, but it’s not good. No one has access to news, no money, nothing.”
“Where are you going?” Paul asked.
“I don’t know. Somewhere isolated. I’m just hoping there are no more bombings or other attacks.” Kurt jumped into his car and sped away.
This was it. The world was ending. All of his preps were about to pay off. But what about Kristin? Paul didn’t want the world to end. If he tried to get Kristin, there was no chance he could reach his shelter before things get hairy. Plus, there was no way he could find her. He didn’t have her address, and she might have already left Durham for somewhere safe.
Paul forced himself to focus on his plan. This was what he had prepared for. He dashed back inside and changed into his camouflage gear, grabbed his bugout bag, and then sprinted to his truck. He drove through his neighborhood and reached the main road. His shelter and plans were to the left. Kristin and the unknown were to the right. The whites of Paul’s knuckles flared as he gripped the steering wheel. Now was not the time to waffle. He turned left and hit the accelerator.
Paul gritted his teeth and raced down the street. Keep going. Keep going. He urged himself on. Almost involuntarily, his foot slammed on the brakes. Paul couldn’t do it. He’d planned for the worst all his life, and while he sat alone with the engine idling, he had to admit the truth. He’d lived all his life in fear.
Paul yanked the wheel and turned around toward Durham.
submitted by TSMaynard1 to shortstories [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 00:48 gatopreto13 First Trip Ever! Report 05/21 - 05/26

First of all I want to thank everyone in this sub because all the tips and tricks were so useful to make my first trip the perfect trip to WDW! Never used Genie+, so I guess I was very lucky with crowds levels and timings to go to the rides, but also it helped that we did always rope drope to end everyday (yes, my feet hate me by now). This was a very special trip as we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and my birthday.
Hold on, this is going to be long!
Day 1 (05/21) MK - I still can’t believe how my first day was such a perfect day. The crowds were low and I was able to ride everything I wanted to and this includes 7DMT (as a huge Snow White fan I loved it), Big Thunder (10/10!), Space Mountain (my neck hated it), Tron (such a shame is so short), Pirates, Haunted Mansion and even things that were not on my must do list such as Jungle Cruise, small world, Peter Pan, Under the Sea and all the other small rides and also Monsters’ Laugh Floor and Phillarmagic. The end of the day was really fun because after HEA we rode AstroOrbiter and was great to see everything illuminated from the top, a great experience!
We were so so lucky, when we arrived 7DMT had been down and got open just as we reached the line so it was a breeze! A perfect day for the start of the best trip ever! Also I have to confess I cried a lot at Happily Ever After, even more because it was exactly one of the things I was celebrating in this trip, our wedding anniversary :)
Day 2 (05/22) HS - Another day of luck, I waited so little to RotR and did everything I wanted to less Hollywood Tower. The only ride were I waited like hell and the wait time was not accurate at all was Slinky, plus the heat was hitting hard and I was feeling really awful so I guess it didn’t help also. We did RoTR (just WOW), Millenium Falcon, Slinky, Toy Story Mania (much funnier that Buzz Lightyear at MK), MMRR (still singing “nothing can stop us noooow” until today), Alien Saucers, Star Tours and spent plenty of time at Galaxy’s Edge immersed on the theming. We went to Oga’s Cantina by the end of the day (incredible experience), followed by Savi’s Lightsaber Workshop and by then it was already dark and rainning a lot which made it even more amazing, we felt that we were really sneaking to something secret, it was 10/10!
Day 3 (05/23) AK - I never thought this park would be so beautiful! This is by far the one with an overall best theming. We did the Safari early in the morning as I seen suggested a lot of times and animals were very active. Rode Everest twice, I loved it! It’s such a dynamic coaster, even when you already know what’s going to happen. We also did River Rapids, Dinosaur (a bit shaky this one), Naavi River (THAT animatronic tho!!) and FoP (sad that the 3D is already so messed up, it took away a bit of the immersion), also we did the Gorilla trek but it started to rain A LOT at the end of the day so we left earlier than we wanted to but we already did everything we wanted to.
Day 4 (05/24) MK - back to Magic Kingdom we repeated out favorite ones - 7DMT, Big Thunder (more than once!), Tron, Space Mountain, Pirates - and hopped on the train 2 times (I had to give a treat to my feet), went to Tiki Room, my husband insisted to go to Carousel of Progress and spent the rest of the day singing the song. It started to rain a lot but we didn’t give up and I have to say that riding Big Thunder while raining is such a fun experience! We lost a lot of time because of the rain, lots of rides started to close down because of thunder but we tried to make it the best. Closed the night with a shopping spree and once again I cried because MK means so much to me, all that magic that was my world when I was a child, seeing all the charactets who were my “friends” bak then it was very emotional to me and when I said goodbye to MK I cried a lot.
Day (05/25) EPCOT - this was the big celebration day! My wedding anniversary and my birthday! Wore my buttons with pride and got a huge surprise with Epcot! That park is great! My husband also loved it! We did Cosmic Rewind (one of the best coasters ever! I was a bit dizzy after it but worth it!), Test Track, Mission Space (both missions), Ratatouille (sooooo cool), Soarin’ (it was so cool, never thought I’d like this so much)and here comes the magic: we really wanted to do to Space 220 but we couldn’t grab a reservation. I installed an app to get notifications when there was an open spot but everytime I received one and tried to make a reservation it wasn’t available. We had no hope but that morning, while with my phone in hand I received the notification, and went right to MDE app and we did! The perfect birthday present! So around 4.30pm we closed the day for our Space 220 reservation (amazing experience, the food is not all that but the experience…worth every penny) and after we went to our other reservation: Biergarten. The food was amazing, a shame I couldn’t eat more because we didn’t plan to do Space 220 before but we tasted a bit of everything we wanted, the show is really cool, kids were dancing, people were singing and I was gifted a birthday cupcake with a candle :D
It was this day that we figured out: we need to come back. We always thought this was a once in a lifetime experience because we come from the other side of the Atlantic and this is a very expensive trip for us. But this worths the effort and we liked Epcot so much that it was like the spark for it.
Day 06 (05/26) HS - my stamina was getting low, but I was so happy for this trip! We repeated everything we did on the first day, the park was crowded but we managed it well with the waiting times. I was so happy that I even agreed to go on Tower of Terror (I went to the one at DLParis and I hated. I hated this one as well but the group we went with was so fun that made it a bit better). My husband spent all day talking about next year’s trip and while in lines planning the days (I always do the planning but he’s really hyped to go back). The end of the day couldn’t have been better with Fantasmic. Guess who cried again? My husband even took a photo of my crying potato face, it was very emotional, seeing all the characters while saying goodbye to this magical world!
If you stayed until here thanks for reading! We are now planning to go next year and also go to Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Center, so if everything goes for the best, next year I’ll have a new trip report for you!
Now I need to come back down to earth, have a great life and stay magical everyone!
submitted by gatopreto13 to WaltDisneyWorld [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 22:45 ErGTA123 25 [M4F] - USA - Geek seeking out other geeks

Shooting my shot out there once again and seeing how it lands. For the most part I'm really searching for someone who I can vibe with, match my energy or be attracted by it, and love me for me. A how you say? GENUINE relationship. If we don't hit it off, that's totally cool with me. Now as for who you're getting into with, well I love making art, 3D animation for the most part and expressing myself through it. A lot of factors play a huge role into inspiring me, anime, music, action movies. And it's been amazingly fun getting into this world and finding something that makes me feel satisfied when I create something.
A huge part of my personality once you really start to get to know me is my love of Harleys. I own one and it's become a huge part of me personality wise. My main form of transportation to and from work or where ever. Every ride I become more and more one with it. And seeing the mods I put on to it really reflect myself onto it. Bonus points if you ride as well, doesn't matter what type of bike :) At the end of the day I'm a motorcycle enthusiast.
Really I'm a huge nerd, my love for anime, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, DC just goes deep. Stuff like that has been with me since I was in dippers. Tell me about your favorite animes, mine include Black Clover, Violet Evergarden, and much much more. Most of my music taste is usually OSTs, Punk Rock, classic rock, 80s, and JP music but honestly share some of your faves if you got any. Usually, if it sounds good, it's getting added to my list. Really love action films that fuel my desire to create, like John Wick, Jackie Chan movies or Donnie Yen action. But I do enjoy me a good drama. I don't drink or smoke and never plan to, so I hope this isn't a deal breaker, it's just not who I am.
I also game, but my gaming has been mostly during my free time or when I need an hour break from working on creative projects. I'll play any game with you if you game. My mindset is not what I "ME" wants to play, but rather we're enjoying each other's company and playing something fun together. I play on PC mostly but I do have a PS4. Just tell me what games you may play and I might just have it in my library
As for work, I'm employed at the LEGO Group and has now become a huge part of my life. I have a passion for my craft there and I never take one second of my employment there for granted. Making peoples/kids days is what drives me to improve. I own two cats and a Lab. I love them to death! If you have pets as well let me know! Feel free to ask for a photo of me once we start chatting and I'll share one. And if you made it this far, if you decide to message me, if you had to watch one movie forever what would it be?
submitted by ErGTA123 to ForeverAloneDating [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 22:42 ErGTA123 25 [M4F] - South Eastern USA - Geek seeing out other geeks

Shooting my shot out there once again and seeing how it lands. For the most part I'm really searching for someone who I can vibe with, match my energy or be attracted by it, and love me for me. A how you say? GENUINE relationship. If we don't hit it off, that's totally cool with me. Now as for who you're getting into with, well I love making art, 3D animation for the most part and expressing myself through it. A lot of factors play a huge role into inspiring me, anime, music, action movies. And it's been amazingly fun getting into this world and finding something that makes me feel satisfied when I create something.
A huge part of my personality once you really start to get to know me is my love of Harleys. I own one and it's become a huge part of me personality wise. My main form of transportation to and from work or where ever. Every ride I become more and more one with it. And seeing the mods I put on to it really reflect myself onto it. Bonus points if you ride as well, doesn't matter what type of bike :) At the end of the day I'm a motorcycle enthusiast.
Really I'm a huge nerd, my love for anime, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, DC just goes deep. Stuff like that has been with me since I was in dippers. Tell me about your favorite animes, mine include Black Clover, Violet Evergarden, and much much more. Most of my music taste is usually OSTs, Punk Rock, classic rock, 80s, and JP music but honestly share some of your faves if you got any. Usually, if it sounds good, it's getting added to my list. Really love action films that fuel my desire to create, like John Wick, Jackie Chan movies or Donnie Yen action. But I do enjoy me a good drama. I don't drink or smoke and never plan to, so I hope this isn't a deal breaker, it's just not who I am. I also game, but my gaming has been mostly during my free time or when I need an hour break from working on creative projects. I'll play any game with you if you game. My mindset is not what I "ME" wants to play, but rather we're enjoying each other's company and playing something fun together. I play on PC mostly but I do have a PS4. Just tell me what games you may play and I might just have it in my library
As for work, I'm employed at the LEGO Group and has now become a huge part of my life. I have a passion for my craft there and I never take one second of my employment there for granted. Making peoples/kids days is what drives me to improve.I own two cats and a Lab. I love them to death! If you have pets as well let me know! Feel free to ask for a photo of me once we start chatting and I'll share one.
And if you made it this far, if you decide to message me, if you had to watch one movie forever what would it be?
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2023.05.28 22:28 NamelessNanashi [The Gods of Dragons: Beginning] Ch 9 - Shifting Futures

--- Table of Contents ---
Spring 4984, 9 Kuromoth, Spring Equinox
“Archmage, I thought you had already gone…” Brom’s voice, beyond Her door. She didn’t move, didn’t bother to look towards the closed portal. Had it been months or years since he'd last come to sit with Her?
“I will be leaving presently…” Archmage Morndancer’s cold voice answered. She squeezed tighter into Her little ball in the dark corner. It didn’t matter that he would be gone. He left the tower often, but it didn’t stop Her punishment. Even as the season turned from winter to spring, She'd stayed locked in Her room. With no books and no company. Occasionally being taken out to give samples in a lab completely separate from that of Her treasures. Only their yowls and barks from down the hall offering any comfort.
“It’s an important day, isn’t it, Archmage? Perhaps Sellon will pass the test.” Ran’s voice. Did he sound nervous? Her head tilted, just a little, towards the door. The half-circle of light from Her window did very little to banish the darkness of the room. She hadn’t bothered to light the candles. What was the point?
Morndancer scoffed, “Doubtful. Ronni didn’t manage it. And just as his sister before him, Sellon will join the Mages Guild whether he passes or not.” Sellon and Ronni, Archmage Morndancer’s children. She'd heard of them from Brom and Ran. So they were Mages as well. Perhaps they would be the ones to come take Her blood and cut Her hair in future. It didn’t matter. Nothing had ever mattered.
“But a Wizard-Cleric of Saint Bede might…”
“Enough.” Morndancer interrupted Brom, “Bede is no god, he wasn't even a decent Mage, he was and is a villain. We would not have this responsibility to save the world if he and his lot hadn’t doomed it.”
“Of course, Archmage, yes.” nervous feet shuffled outside Her door.
“Even now, Shaloon is trying to locate the next storm.” Morndancer continued his chastisement, “They come more frequently and destroy greater swaths of land. If we continue to be as useless as the other Talons, there will be no world left to save. So rather than waste your time on prayers to usurper gods, you had best refocus and redouble your efforts while we are away. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Archmage,” Brom and Ran said in unison.
“Good. And be sure to return those to the library when you have finished with them.” the hiss of fabric on stone accompanied the Archmage's exit.
Her door handle jingled, and Her head came up a fraction, but, “Wait…” Brom’s whisper. Silence followed, and She dropped Her head again, pressing her closed eyes into Her knees. Minutes passed, or was it hours? Did it matter? Maybe She would crawl into Her bed and try to sleep. Time passed faster that way. Or maybe She would just stay here in Her little ball in the corner.
“He should be gone by now…” Her lock clicked, and the door creaked open, but She didn’t bother to look up, “Goldy? Maybe She’s sleeping…” Brom whispered.
“Damn, it’s dark in here. Red, can we get a light?” She didn’t answer Ran’s request. What was the point? They would find Her and they would take Her for samples. She didn’t have to help them do it. “Grab the candle from the table, Brom. My hands are full.”
She could feel the life of a tiny flame beyond Her door. Felt it draw closer and enter Her room before it flickered and died. “Oh, Goldy… please don’t…” the shuffling of feet moving carefully in the darkness came closer. She tried to pull in tighter, tucking Her head against Her chest and letting Her now shoulder-length hair fall forward to further hide Her face.
They crouched at either side of Her, Brom setting the useless candle down to Her left with a soft ‘tink’ of brass on stone. Something much heavier was placed on Her right, the familiar scents of hardbound leather, paper, and ink… “We brought you some books, Red…”
She lifted Her head, looking through the tangled strands of golden hair and seeing a pair of worried faces looming in the dark. “If you light up the room a bit, we can read,” Brom slowly pushed Her hair back, careful not to touch Her skin. As though She would burn him. She might have. If She could find the energy.
“You’re not supposed to...” Her voice crackled from lack of use, making Her whisper even more inaudible.
“What?” Ran leaned closer, but She didn’t repeat Herself, “It’s been months, Red. You’re not in trouble anymore.”
She blinked silently at him.
“Look, Goldy,” Brom shuffled forward, still in his crouch, “things can go back to normal now. The Archmage will be out for a few days. We can take you to play with the animals tomorrow.” She shifted Her blank stare to him. Brom waited for a moment, searching Her face for a familiar flicker of excitement. She didn’t give it to him. He sighed, “We’ll leave these with you then. You can read them when you’re ready.”
Brom made to stand, but She grabbed the hem of his sleeve, “Stay with me…” On the candle, the smallest of lights began to flicker to life. Brom sat down with a groan, and on Her other side, Ran plopped down even less gracefully.
He leaned his back against Her bed and picked the top book off the small pile they'd brought Her, “We can stay until lunch, Goldy.”
“But we still have a lot of work to do…”
It was enough. The candle burned brighter, and She shifted Her legs down, taking the book Ran passed to Her. Things would finally be returning to normal. As they always had been, and as they always would be.
Shon woke long before the kitchen servant would come to fetch him. Everything was the same, and yet nothing would ever be as it was before. Sitting up, he ran his fingers through his hair, only to realize that everything wasn't the same. The other two boys who'd reached maturity were also awake. It looked like Gaven hadn’t slept at all, his sandy hair tousled and his dark eyes bloodshot.
“This is it then… the last morning in the dorms?” Gaven whispered the useless question. Nan, the oldest by a month, nodded in silence. Shon didn’t bother with even that much, swinging his legs off the bed and kicking something. Another difference. A final gift from the Church. A leather pack for him to carry everything he owned.
Shon dressed in silence only broken by the shuffle of the other two joining him. After tying his boots, he started packing the bag. It was large enough to fit all of his clothes and even his seven journals, though the eighth made it a very tight fit.
“Should we make the beds?” Nan whispered. Again, Shon didn’t answer. Instead, he stripped the blanket and sheets from the mattress, folding them neatly and placing them with the pillow at the foot of the bed.
“Yeah… they'll have to strip them to wash anyway…” Gaven said, following Shon’s example.
They'd just finished when the door creaked open. Normally woken by the morning bells, Gaven and Nan both jumped, looking from the dark window to the door then at each other.
The servant girl who usually woke Shon looked in on them with some confusion, then hummed in understanding before holding the door open for them, “Come on then. There may be some leftover dessert you can have while we make breakfast…”
Shon doubted he could eat anything at the moment. His stomach worked itself in knots that put an uncomfortable pressure on his heart that in turn seemed as though it wanted to beat its way into his throat. The entire sensation made him feel a strange sort of nauseous. Nan and Gaven looked no better than he felt, and they both swallowed before exiting the room. Gaven took a moment to look back over his shoulder before shaking himself and setting his eyes forward. Nan seemed to rush from the room, too afraid to look back. Shon took one last look around before following, the door clicking closed behind them.
He let the other boys walk ahead of him and wondered what they were thinking. Gaven would be taking the test with him today, but Nan had been selected to join the Masons Guild and had opted to accept the offer right away rather than try for one of the divine orders first. Perhaps Nan was the smartest of them.
“We'll miss you…” the servant girl whispered so only Shon could hear, “It isn’t glamorous, but it’s honest work... if you want to join the Servants Guild…” the Servants Guild was a loose association of otherwise privately employed cleaners and cooks. It was the last choice for orphans, but also their most common destination. She'd meant the offer as a kindness, so Shon nodded in thanks, though nothing but the most desperate situation would ever see him join.
The head cook looked up as they entered the kitchen, nodding in understanding, “Couldn’t sleep?” he asked Nan and Gaven, who mumbled incoherently in response. To Shon, the cook smiled, offering only a silent nod.
The girl who'd reached maturity with them was already in the dining room, staring mournfully at a plate of hastily scrambled eggs and a few cookies from the night before.
“Hey Lara, couldn’t sleep anymore either?” Gaven asked with a strained smile. Shaking her head, she picked up her fork and tried to force down some of the breakfast. She'd been accepted into the Tailors Guild, but unlike Nan, had chosen to take the test with Shon and Gavin. Just in case.
The cook himself brought the boys their plates of eggs and cookies, and they ate in silence until the morning bells sounded. The three unused to being up early jumped at the sound, exchanging nervous looks. Their juniors and the priests would come flooding in soon, laughing and talking and enjoying another breakfast with friends and the closest thing they had to family. It would be the last time the four of them ate with the others in this room.
Shon didn’t know if he could take the bustle today, even if it was the last. Or maybe because it was. He stood, taking his mostly full plate and returning it to the kitchen. The cook looked from the untouched food to Shon and back again, then picked up a pair of cookies and held them out to him, “You might not be able to eat now, but you can save these for after.”
Shon took the gift, meeting the cook's eyes and nodding in silent thanks. The cook returned the nod and Shon left the kitchen without looking back. He slipped the cookies into one of the side pockets of his new pack as he made his way to the courtyard. He passed the bathroom, its wall lined with low-hanging sinks and a single long mirror. He'd practiced arching his eyebrows in that mirror...
Entering the courtyard, Shon hesitated, remembering his first early morning. When he couldn’t sleep for excitement at the mere possibility of training with a real adventurer. He'd wanted to learn to fight, but more than that, he'd wanted to learn how to train. After all, he would be doing a lot of that once he joined the Temple. It would be helpful to have a head start… Or, that's what he'd told himself back then.
Shon shut the door with a click of finality that rang in the still morning air. To his left were the classrooms where the city's children took lessons. Just thinking about his last lesson, with only those coming of age, still made him blush. To his right was the door to the chapel, where he'd sat with the other orphans through the weekly sermons. Shon respected the god of life and healing, but Soleil had never been his patron. Across from him was the clinic, where the Clerics of Soleil saw to the needs of the sick and injured. He'd only been sent there once, after breaking his arm trying to climb the tree in the courtyard.
Shon would have no need to pray to Soleil specifically, and the Temple kept their own clinic... if he passed. If he didn't... There was a chance he would see the clinic again, perhaps the chapel...
Shon stepped off the walkway surrounding the central tree, and a familiar voice sounded from its roots, “Feeling up to a few exercises?” Master Veon-Zih asked, rising from his cross-legged seat in one fluid motion. Shon stopped in their little clearing and nodded, letting his pack slide off his shoulder and flop heavily to the ground. “I take it there's nothing fragile in there then?” Veon-Zih asked with a chuckle.
The idea that a thirteen-year-old would have something valuable or fragile enough to break just by dropping the bag finally pulled Shon all the way out of his contemplations. He arched a skeptical eyebrow at his master.
“There, that’s more like it. You looked like a rather well-preserved zombie.” Veon-Zih took Shon by the shoulder, shaking him, “Not a thought in your head, or skip in your step.”
Shon shook his head, sinking into his horse stance to start his drills. He punched with his left fist first, and Veon-Zih took position just out of reach, so Shon’s knuckles barely brushed the fabric of his tunic. Shon held the position until Veon-Zih also threw his first punch. He aimed for Shon’s face, sending a wave of air and ki over his skin and nearly touching his nose. Shon didn’t flinch.
They worked through their punches in unison, nearly touching but never quite connecting. Shon worked in silence for a while then said, “Too many thoughts…”
“And none of them new, I’m sure,” Veon-Zih commented.
Shon nodded, “The same ones circle again and again. Even though I can’t do anything about them... yet.”
“Not until after the test.”
Shon had to swallow a sudden lump in his throat and nodded again, unable to speak even if he'd wanted to.
Veon-Zih moved on to the next strike, and Shon copied him. He'd lost count of the punches but followed his Master's lead. “I don’t suppose you want to talk about it?” Master Veon-Zih asked.
Shon shook his head but then sighed. Most people seemed to like thinking out loud, especially when troubled. He didn’t understand why, but his usual quiet contemplation wasn’t working, so maybe… “If I don’t pass…”
“I would think of all days, today would be the one to take a break!” Father Branston called from the chapel door. He began strolling towards them with a broad smile, “Do you think you’ll be done in time to join me?”
Was it time already? Shon glanced around, noticing Nan, Gaven, and Lara approaching from the living quarter, all looking pale, their lips drawn in tight unsmiling lines.
Veon-Zih hadn’t come up from his stance, so neither did Shon, but the Monk did laugh, “Keeping a routine can be soothing in times of great change.” he winked at Shon, “Even if it’s a positive change.”
Shon tried to smile at Veon-Zih’s apparent show of faith but wasn’t sure if he'd managed it. What if…?
“Well, I don’t want to rush you. Can I trust you to get Shon to the Chapel on time if I take the others now?” Father Branston laughed as though he'd said something particularly humourous, his great belly bouncing with mirth.
“We'll be there.” Master Veon-Zih assured Father Branston, and Shon nodded mutely, resuming his drills and trying not to watch the others leave. “We have plenty of time,” Veon-Zih whispered, “Take a few deep breaths. It's the end of your childhood, not your life.”
They moved from drills to kata. Master Veon-Zih stayed in front of Shon, moving with him and matching his routine strikes with the appropriate counters. “You were saying?” it had been awhile since Shon had tried to speak, though his head continued to spin with the half-formed thoughts.
“I don’t want to think about not passing,” Shon said, kicking high and hitting Veon-Zih’s waiting arm.
“Do you believe such thoughts will jinx you?”
Shon dropped his kick and punched as the kata dictated. Veon-Zih was right; working through their regular routines did seem to help calm his pounding heart. “I don’t know… Maybe? It’s stupid, though. Whether I pass or not was decided when I was born. It won’t change just because I think about it.”
“Emotions are rarely logical.” Veon-Zih smacked Shon’s punch aside at the last moment, and Shon moved smoothly from that strike to the next, “It’s normal to be nervous. One of your peers is just as nervous, and he already knows where he’s going.”
“They all do…” Shon mumbled, snap kicking straight in front of him, confident in his Master’s speed to dodge and counter.
Veon-Zih did indeed dodge, but instead of the usual counter he hooked Shon’s foot with his own and tried to pull him off balance. Shon only stumbled for a moment, shifting his form to a different kata and counter, his body moving before his mind could catch up. Veon-Zih spoke as they continued the different form without finishing the first, prompting, “Even those taking the test have other plans, just in case?”
“Lara was accepted by the Tailors, and Gaven is going to enlist in the guard…” They had sped up the pace, and Shon needed to concentrate, now on edge in case Master Veon-Zih decided to shift the practice again. A few more strikes in, the Monk dropped below Shon’s punch and swung at his ribs, forcing Shon to block. Shon switched the kata to his most recent on instinct, using the block to redirect the punch rather than stop it as the original kata would have dictated.
Veon-Zih smiled, his eyes twinkling at the move as he picked up the pace even further, “Both of those are honest jobs and noble callings.” Shon could only grunt in response, now moving too fast for him to think of anything but the exercise. Veon-Zih continued, “The enlisted make up the bulk of Hengist’s armies, and their loyalty is admirable. The Tailors Guild not only clothes the populace but often creates beautiful works of art that serve to enhance the natural beauty of the human form.”
The Master hadn’t even broken a sweat, but Shon had to gasp out, “But I don’t-” before he was interrupted by another unexpected punch. He countered but then disengaged, breathing deep and slow, “What will I do? If I don’t pass? I thought about joining the enlisted too but…” but the idea of being so close, and yet so impossibly far from his failed dream, pained him in a way he couldn’t put into words.
When Shon didn’t continue, Veon-Zih asked, “Will you reconsider joining me then?”
Shon blinked at the Monk, his eyes going wide. He'd thought he'd lost his chance with the Monastery when he'd denied Veon-Zih for the Temple three years ago, “You mean you'll still take me?” he stammered out.
Veon-Zih closed the distance between them and placed a firm hand on Shon’s shoulder, “So long as you are an obedient and willing student, remember?”
Shon’s eyes burned and another lump rose in his throat, preventing him from speaking. He nodded, and Veon-Zih smiled, turning away from him so Shon could rub his eyes without the Monk seeing. He still wasn’t comfortable with the thought of failing, but he felt a little more at ease, knowing he wouldn’t be alone even if he did.
“Shall we go then?” Veon-Zih scooped up Shon’s pack and held it out to him, “Destiny awaits no man.”
The Grand Chapel was dedicated to all the gods of the kingdom, and though today it was closed to the public, the doors were still crowded with families from every walk of life. Merchants and craftsmen mingled excitedly with one another while their children nervously awaited the start of the test that would determine the trajectory of the rest of their lives. A smaller group of only two families stood apart from the throng. Dressed in fine clothes and protected by private guards, the nobles surveyed the commoners with a detached air as though above the gods themselves. The boy Shon often saw at the Temple was among them.
Shon stopped just outside the crowd, arching his neck to try and see the doors. His quiet dread had turned to jitters of nervousness as he and Master Veon-Zih walked through the city. He wasn’t sure if he'd wanted to run or stop moving altogether. Now that they were here, he tried to distract himself by studying the faces and movements of those gathered. Though if he tried to draw them now, the shaking of his hands would probably make the pictures impossible to decipher.
The differences between the nobles and commoners, in particular, caught his eye. One of the nobles, a man of middling years, wore long robes with a high collar buttoned tight to his neck and looked as if he would rather be anywhere but here. Shon had just finished scanning up the man’s robes when their eyes met. A shiver, entirely unrelated to the general anxiety of the test, ran down his spine.
The noble’s eyes went wide, and he started for Shon, the edge of the crowd giving way for him like the sea before a ship. “You…” his voice was breathy, and he reached out. Shon stepped back and ran into Master Veon-Zih, “They are back, truly?” the strange man asked, his eyes fixed on Shon who could only stare in bewilderment.
“My good lord Morndancer!” Father Branston’s joy-filled greeting sounded from the side, “So your youngest has come of age has he?” the Abbot seemed to snap the noble from his focus, and he turned away from Shon as Branston made his way through the crowd, Lara and Gaven close behind.
“Yes, Abbot.” Morndancer surveyed the Cleric with what Shon could only describe as contempt, though the look hardly wiped the wide smile from Branston’s face, “Will we be starting soon? Sellon and I have business with the Mages Guild.”
“Though if young Sellon should find himself capable…” Branston started, but the noble snorted. “Ah well, to each their own.” Branston finished, turning away from Morndancer to address his young charges.
From a pouch on his belt, Father Branston pulled forth three small books that shouldn’t have been able to fit in the little bag, “I present to you, your papers.” He fanned the books out before him, and each of them took the one closest to them. They were bound in leather with the seal of the Kingdom of Daanlin embossed on the cover. The knight on the kingdom seal rode a horse and held a shield with the seal of Clearhelm on it, three tall pine trees in front of a snow-capped mountain.
Their papers were proof of their citizenship and would serve as a record of their lives and accomplishments. Master Veon-Zih had shown Shon his own papers months before. It held a record of every border he had ever crossed and every teleport he had ever taken, as well as proof of all of his adventures and every job performed for any of the kingdom’s organizations. Veon-Zih’s papers were a veritable tome compared to Shon’s meager notebook. Opening it to the first page, Shon saw his name followed by his presumed place and date of birth. It detailed that he had been raised in the Church in Smildna and when he had come of age. At the bottom was a place labeled but left blank for the date and results of today’s test…
Branston was still speaking to them, but Shon only partly registered the words, “You should keep your papers on you whenever possible. You will need them to reenter the city any time you leave…”
Veon-Zih placed a hand on Shon’s shoulder, and he nearly jumped out of his boots in surprise. Leaning down, the Monk whispered in his ear, “Soon this book will be full of your adventures and accomplishments. Regardless of what happens today.”
“Abbot,” Morndancer interjected as Father Branston finished his explanation, “the test? Some of us have places to be.”
“Yes, yes, patience is a virtue, my dear Lord Morndancer. The sun will rise no faster with you tapping your foot at its pace.” he lowered his voice and continued to address the anxious children, “I am so very proud of all of you. Know that no matter what is discovered today, the light of Soleil will always shine with joy at what you have and will accomplish in your lives.” Shon wondered if any of the adults realized that their constant efforts to comfort their nerves seemed to be having the opposite effect. Shon’s palms were sweating as he closed his papers, and he had to wipe them on his pants to try and distract himself from his pounding heart.
“Follow me,” Branston turned away, walking through the middle of the crowd that had suddenly grown hush at his movement towards the door. Veon-Zih gave Shon one last pat, then slipped Shon’s pack from his back and tossed it over his own shoulder. Letting his student know without words that he would be waiting for Shon to return, one way or another.
Shon could feel the eyes of the noble Morndancer boring into him as he followed Father Branston through the throng towards the Grand Chapel. What was that man's problem? Who was back? Shon was too distracted by the test to dwell on it, but the man had made his skin crawl, and having him at his back wasn’t helping his nerves.
Father Branston turned to address the crowd as the doors began to swing open, “The testers will enter alone and present their papers to the clerks by the door. Families and friends may wait outside until the test is complete.” Nervous adolescents made their way forward, careful not to jostle one another, many accepting last-minute hugs and well wishes from their families.
Shon thought he remembered the Grand Chapel well from his visit almost six years ago, but was struck again by the beauty of its art. The masterwork statues and carvings were outshone only by the stained glass dome that painted the round floor in bright light of every color he could imagine.
Of the ten gods, eight representatives stood opposite the doors, waiting quietly while the testers handed their papers to the clerks and shuffled nervously in the middle of the majestic holy site. Neither the Temples of Horsa nor Saint Giorgos were present. Their absence wasn’t surprising. The Temple of Saint Giorgos only took those of noble birth and would give their tests separately, and the Temple of Horsa was openly shunned in Clearhelm, its only branch located in the capital city of Tarorn.
Shon handed one of three clerks his papers. She took them with only a glance, hastily scribbling Shon’s name on a long list before handing the book to one of the others who wrote the date in the spot allocated. By the time all the testers had filtered in, there were about twenty young boys and girls huddled in the center of the room.
The Cleric of Hengist, in robes of white and blue, stepped forward to address them. “You are gathered here today in the hopes of being chosen to serve. To serve the province, the kingdom, and most importantly, the gods. But before the gods can choose you to act as their divine hands and voice, you must train and study hard their tenants and virtues. And before even that, your body must be able to hold and direct their power. For a feather that cannot hold ink will never be a quill. This is not a test of your worth but of your natural, innate ability.”
As he spoke, two other Clerics, Father Branston of Soleil and a female in the colors of Lune, stepped forward, each holding something round covered with a dark cloth. The Cleric of Hengist continued, “Very few are born with the capacity to touch the divine, there is no shame in failing.” the Clerics of Soleil and Lune removed the protective coverings and everyone had to shield their eyes from the brilliant light that flared in Father Branston’s hand.
Squinting as his eyes adjusted, Shon could just make out an orb glowing in a bowl in the Abbot’s hands. The Cleric of Lune held a similar sphere, though it appeared dead beside the brilliance of the other. “When we call your name, you will touch the empty vessel,” the Cleric of Hengist gestured towards the unlit stone, “and then you will touch the vessel filled with divine magic,” with his other hand, he gestured towards the light. “Do not hold the stone for longer than a moment. If your body is unable to channel the magic it could do serious harm,” he warned.
“Trase,” one of the clerks called from the door, reading off the list they'd compiled. A tall boy stepped forward on shaking feet. He approached the Clerics, who nodded solemnly, all encouraging smiles gone. Reaching out, he touched the unlit orb, then with a deep breath, reached for the glowing vessel.
Nothing happened. Trase pulled his hands back, and Branston whispered -though all could hear in the stillness of the room- “It’s alright lad, you may go…”
“Anhala,” the clerk called, and a girl jumped before rushing forward to try.
The first six failed before a girl named Gena reached shaking hands to the orbs. As her fingers brushed the light vessel, the dead sphere in her other hand began to glow. She gasped, holding tight to both globes, now both shining brightly.
“Congratulations, my dear, you may choose an order…” the Cleric of Hengist gestured to the altars around the Chapel. Gena pulled her hands back slowly, and the unlit stone died once again. Shon watched as she walked to the altar of Soleil to await the end of the test before beginning her life as an adept in training at the Church.
“Shaclin Ebonheart,” the noble boy Shon often saw at the Temple stepped forward, rubbing his hands on his pants before reaching for the orbs. Nothing. He held on, and Father Branston gently removed the boy’s fingers from the light orb. Shaclin pulled away sharply, clutching his hand to his chest and whimpering. His skin had grown red and blistered.
“I’m sorry…” the Cleric of Hengist whispered.
Shaclin turned away without a word and strode for the door, still clutching his burned hand, silent tears staining his cheeks.
I won’t cry… I won’t… “Shon,” Shon closed his eyes, imagining himself in the Temple chapel with its calm silence and soothing scent of incense. He could almost smell it when he opened his eyes and moved forward.
Time slowed down… it took hours to reach the Clerics. Days to raise his hand to touch the dark orb. Now that he was closer he saw that they were actually crystals, tumbled into perfectly smooth spheres. His palm covered the dead stone, and it felt cool, as though it had just been dug from the ground by adventurous children. He reached for the stone bathed in light, feeling the warmth radiate off it before he even made contact. It wasn’t nearly hot enough to burn, and yet Shaclin’s hand had shown blisters.
Shon touched the stone. The warmth filled his fingers and crawled up his arm. It flooded his body like a vessel being filled with water before flowing out his other arm and down his hand. The dead stone came to life, its coolness replaced by the warmth of the divine magic, using him as its conduit connecting the two.
“Congratulations, son, you may choose an order…”
Time sped back up, and Shon let his hands slide off the stones. “Congratulations,” Father Branston echoed, nodding towards the altar of Hengist, “The rest is up to you.”
Only two others passed the test. A girl with long auburn hair and green eyes had joined the Temple with Shon, and a boy had gone to the Church of Saint Bjarki. They stood by their respective altars as the last of the failed testers left the Chapel. Gaven and Lara managed strained smiles at Shon as they left. He attempted to return them but wasn't sure if he'd managed it. The eight Clerics all breathed sighs of relief as the last left, and Branston and the Cleric of Lune returned the covers over the stones. Though still lit by the light through the colored dome, the Chapel seemed so much darker without the divine light to fill it.
“Four this year! An entire fifth!” the Druid of Cathbad exclaimed, her brown and green robes rustling as she danced in place.
“Yes, quite remarkable. Twice the average.” the Cleric of Saint Bede agreed. Though he resisted dancing for joy.
The Cleric of Hengist was also smiling broadly, though when he spoke, it was to the kids, “You may spend the afternoon with your families. Report to your chosen order before sixth bell.”
The girl who also joined the Temple of Hengist, Daisy, gave Shon a warm smile and hurried with the others to retrieve her papers. Now marked with their status as divine conduits. Shon walked behind them, his nervousness replaced with excited anticipation. He felt somehow full and empty all at once. With one door open, another had closed...
Shon stepped into the morning light to find the crowd had cleared. Only the three families of his fellows remained, hugging and kissing their children in joy. “We shall have a feast fit for the King!” Daisy’s father exclaimed, lifting her into the air as if she were no more than five. Shon’s stomach growled.
“Hungry?” Veon-Zih asked, stepping out from beside the door and presenting Shon with his pack. Shon felt his cheeks go red, and Veon-Zih laughed, rubbing his own belly, “I could use some lunch myself.”
Hastily Shon dropped his pack and rifled through the outside pockets, finding the cookies in the last one left to check. They were cracked and crumbled in some places, but he held one out to Veon-Zih regardless.
The Monk took it with a bow, “I am trying to resist being disappointed.” he confessed as Shon eagerly shoved his own broken cookie in his mouth.
He nearly choked, and Veon-Zih patted his back hard, not helping. Shon managed to swallow, then stammered, “Master, I…”
Veon-Zih interrupted with a laugh loud enough to fill the empty entryway, “Just promise me you won’t let your new studies dull your old. I plan on testing you with each visit.”
"Visit?" Something Shon couldn’t name filled his chest with warmth reminiscent of the divine light, "Test? You..." He thought he might burst with barely contained hope. No one could be so blessed... "You'll still train me?" Shon asked.
“I happen to be good friends with one of your future teachers at Hamerfoss.” Veon-Zih stated for the first time, “I’m sure he'll welcome my visits. If you'll have me…”
Shon didn’t have words for an answer. Instead, he lunged forward, wrapping Veon-Zih in the first and only hug he could remember giving anyone.
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