Anthony's tree service palm coast fl

List of 100 remote jobs published in last 24h

2023.03.24 12:03 remote-enthusiast List of 100 remote jobs published in last 24h

Hello friends! These are the open remote positions I've found that were published today. See you tomorrow! Bleep blop 🤖
submitted by remote-enthusiast to remotedaily [link] [comments]

2023.03.24 11:46 FightOrFlightPenguin The Trolley and the Butterfly's Wings

[Trigger warnings: addiction struggles and death/physical harm to children]
[Names have been changed out of respect for the dead and to protect the privacy of the community]
It's been over fifteen minutes of debating with myself. Do I say something to him or not? Would he even take the warning seriously? Would he just write me off as the town lunatic or, worse, have me committed for being mentally unsound? Would I ever be able to look Lilly in the eye again if I don't say anything?
That last question is the one that sticks the most stubbornly in my head, echoing throughout my internal struggle. I can't escape it and I know there is no way around it. I have to say something.
I walk down the street to Eric's home and am reminded how quickly the sidewalk quality deteriorates as you move away from the town center with cracks deep enough to lose whole wallets in, nevermind a single coin, and great slabs of concrete heaved from years of freezing and thawing cycles. I stop at the bottom of a similarly cracked and uneven concrete stairwell making a roughly one story ascent up the hillside to the home's entry. As I face the house, I glance to my right, where the street meanders of into the town center, and to the left, where the road vanishes suddenly in the perilous blind curve of Deadman's Turn.
I try to talk myself out of going up the steps because maybe he is not even home yet. That excuse evaporates when I turn to check behind me. Eric's beat up vehicle, constructed more of rust than metal at this point, is parked in the small gravel lot across the street facing the house. That's it, no more delaying it. I straighten myself up and begin the climb up the exterior stairs.
Not even halfway up the stairs, a friendly voice greets me from the front porch.
"Hey there, haven't seen you in awhile!" Eric smiles down at me and leans forward to rest his elbows on the railing. He has always been slender, but he looks especially gaunt today in the harsh late afternoon sun. The wrinkles in his face deepen and multiply as he smiles and the gray curls of hair sticking out from under his baseball cap threaten to creep into his eyes as even they smile.
"Hey, Eric. How're your folks doing?" I reply, relieved to not have to go straight to the hard conversation.
We exchange a few pleasantries about the warming weather and family, but it isn't long before his smile slumps. He studies my face for a moment and then asks, "so, what can I do for you, neighbor?"
I gulp, draw a deep breath, and start. "Eric, I need to tell you about something that is going to happen, but first, I will tell you about something that already happened..."
Eric has not taken a single drag from his cigarette in at least five minutes. The ash just tumbles off in silent, little cascades with each tremble of his lip. His eyes stare off in the direction of the far wall, but it is clear his mind is still in the memory. Finally he clears his throat and breaks the silence, removing the cigarette and stubbing it out in the ashtray on the railing before speaking.
"I never told nobody about that before... and I know John took it to the grave." He paused and looked up suddenly to lock eyes with me. "So, what's this got to do with something else gonna happen?"
"I just needed you to know that this is for real so you would take this next part seriously... I'm sorry. Tonight you are going to get drunk and in the morning you will still be drunk when you get into your vehicle to go to the pharmacy for your mom's medicine. At that intersection there-" I point to the end of the block headed in toward town, "-you hit a family in the crosswalk. Two-year-old Bella dies on the scene and seven-year-old Anthony is permanently scarred, physically and mentally."
Eric has the thousand yard stare as he looks through me and into the depths of some unknown universe. I can see on his face that he believes me as he silently processes everything I have said. The silence grows deafening as each second passes. Or is it minutes? Whatever the case, the golden hour light is now bathing the entire street as the sun settles into the horizon.
I continue, "You can stop it from happening. You know what happens and the events leading up to it, so you know what to avoid."
"To avoid?" Eric's eyes return to the here and now and he is back to looking me in the eyes, pleading in them this time.
"This all starts because of getting drunk tonight."
"Ah." He nods lightly and lights a new cigarette.
"Eric..." I start, but he is miles away again, staring off into the setting sun. There is nothing more I can do here and I know it. "You take care, ok?"
As dusk creeps into night, I pretend to turn in early for the night and turn out the lights so I can watch more discretely from my porch. It isn't long before his poker buddies start arriving. Pretty soon the night air is filled with the chatter of indistinct conversations punctuated with bouts if laughter. The sound is reminiscent of rolling thunder in a distant summer storm, building and waning, but more continuous. The noise all begins to fade to the background as my rouse of sleep becomes reality.
I wake with a start. I rush to grab my phone to check the time and exhale with relief - it is still early. I shuffle to the bathroom to brush my teeth and find myself staring at my mirror image. The guilt and anxiety is starting to really take a toll, especially in the area around my eyes.
I boil some water on the stuff and absent-mindedly dip the teabag in. I return to my discrete perch on my enclosed front porch and settle into the pile of throw pillows on my porch swing.
It is mid-morning when Eric finally emerges from his front door and stumbles down the steps toward the road, barely catching himself before falling. He fumbles in his pockets and stands, swaying forward and back. He is staring at the object in his hand that he pulled from his pocket, but he is too far away for me to see what it is.
He takes a jerking step forward and nearly topples as he misjudges the step off the curb. He pauses, still swaying, in the middle of the roadway, as if considering his next move and I rise from my seat to get a clearer view. My heart sinks as he resumes his awkwardly zig-zagging trek and his destination is now crystal clear.
He stops again upon arriving at the driver's side door of his vehicle, but I can't quite see what is happening so I lean in closer to the window. Eric suddenly looks up directly at my porch and I drop to the floor to avoid being seen. I am on the floor for nearly a minute when I remember that the sunlight outside creates a mirror effect on the windows and I am not visible from that distance. I creep back up to the window to peek out and see Eric is now staring down the street toward the crosswalk.
I mouth a silent prayer, but it is cut short as Eric opens the door and falls into the driver's seat. There is a loud wrenching sound as the door slams shut. Moments later, the engine screeches to a start and whines as the poorly maintained vehicle struggles in the equilibrium of an idle.
Despite my windows all being closed, I can hear everything as though I am standing outside my home. Then it happens. The clunk of the vehicle shifting into gear. The pitch of the engine's whine changes slightly and the parking lot gravel crunches as the wheels roll forward across the unpaved lot.
I am fully standing now, my heart in my throat. I turn to look down the street to where the family is approaching the crosswalk, two children leading the way, collecting flowers and leaves off of the ground as they go. My eyes dart back to Eric's vehicle as he pulls up to the roadway. Back to the family that has now arrived at the crosswalk, Lilly is deep in conversation with another adult and is trailing behind the kids ever so slightly. This is it, but I am frozen in place. Eric turns on to the roadway with the lurch of a too heavy foot on the acceleration pedal.
He is already four or five yards along when I realize... he turned the other way and is driving away from the crosswalk in the direction of the sharply curving road out of town. He chose a different future. The family crosses the road without incident, oblivious to their narrow escape from tragedy.
I inhale sharply and turn away, unable to watch the receding taillights as Eric speeds away. I open the door to my home as the distant sound of metal ripping and trees snapping thunders down the street. I pause, but I can't bring myself to look.
Eric is pinned in his now mangled vehicle in the ravine beside the curve, but will bleed out long before the ambulance arrives. I don't need to look to know how Eric's ill-fated drive has concluded. I already saw it happen last night in my other premonition.
Everytime there are two premonitions. Two alternate realities, both ending in tragedy. Someone will die and it is my choice of action or inaction that decides who. I can't pretend anymore that leaving it to fate absolves me of responsibility because my choice to not intervene seals the fate for one party or the other. The times early on when I tried to prevent anyone from dying, everyone died. Now I make the best choices I can, but there is no "good" choice.
I take one last look back at the crosswalk. The family is now across the street. The children are back to playing as the adults try to shepherd the children away from view of the collision. Lilly furrows her brow so deeply that I can see it from this distance. She is on the phone with emergency services. The sirens wail in the distance, growing louder.
It is when Eric exhales his final breath that I will be flooded with visions of the futures, forthcoming and stolen away, of all involved. Only then do I learn if I made the best choice in the cosmic scheme of things. In the ethical and psychological exercise of the Trolley Problem, did I throw the switch to the tracks that do the least harm or does the Butterfly Effect of my decision yield a monstrous hurricane in time?
I break down into tears. Not because of what has just played out, but because I'm not even given a moment to process what has occurred and the ripple effect of what I have done.
A new pair of premonitions is already playing in my mind's eye.
submitted by FightOrFlightPenguin to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.03.24 04:30 TheEdgykid666 Q-Rebuttals Chapter 1: Tactics. (background)

Hello all, wanna apologize in advance this is gonna be a long one.
Just started doing a little rebuttal project and I'm not even 5min in and I've taken down 2 cult mantras, 3 counts of catering (appeals to religion, self etc) and a partridge in a pear tree! Lets hop in to it.
Some are skeptical about calling the Q movement a CULT, some people say it because its just an inflammatory word but its TRUE. I'm gonna try to give you some ammunition for countering your Q in the future this might be good for telling them that they're in a CULT. Can't find the exact reference BUT I read somewhere that once someone finds out its a cult they wanna get out.
  1. Mantras: The way I define a mantra is this, something repeated at nauseum/punctuated with that is some form of "loaded language." something that may sound normal on the outside but it intends to identify members or people that hold the same beliefs. Examples in the Qult include but are not limited to:
Most of the time I only count the top few, but if you look at any Q media or listen to any Qult members you'll find these RIFE in their speech. They are used to create almost a 'secret language' between cult members. Where street gangs throw up their gang signs or use certain vernacular the cult does the same.
Additionally, most Qult members speak exclusively English, meaning they think in English too. If you can control a way someone speaks eventually that will influence the way they think. If these mantras echo and reinforce cult ideology and they're using them in every social interaction not only does the cult member not change their thinking/speech but a potential recruit is likely inquire on these terms and what they mean, why the cult member is saying them so much and end up getting sucked in.
2. Appeals/Catering: We all know not every Trump supporter is a Qult member and neither is every Christian but why is it so many Trump supporters/Christians (They're not synonymous don't get it twisted) are sucked into the cult?
Appeals to religion:
-Q-Media channels use alot of loaded language in their mantras but also mix in Christianity. Some users pray at the end of a video, some talk about morality/the bible in their videos. Some even quote the bible and add Trump and world events as the context. Saying things like "Blessed" and "Have Faith" and "Amen" among others. There's a million things Christians say that I'm not gonna list out but they're not hard to spot.
-Another thing they do is claim that the 'bad guys' are coming after the 'Christians' for their 'beliefs' and making the whole movement into a religious fight as opposed to what it truly is, A political fight.
-Alot of the time they appeal to religion by using some religious mantras (Example: Persecution of so called 'good guys' relating to how in the bible it says that you'll be persecuted for being a christian and doing the right thing) or relating Cult Deities to religious Deities and using them interchangeably
-Most Cultists dont pick up on this and realize that biblically you are to put no man, or lettenumber, or symbol above God and worship only GOD.
Appeals to self: Going back into loaded language, alot of what the cult does and tells the potential cultist is that the 'deep state' is targeting YOU and YOUR WAY OF LIFE. They make it personal on purpose so you feel attacked and are more likely to have a fight or flight response. This is also why cult members will attack you for dissent. Your existence as a non-cult member means (to them) that you are in direct opposition to them and want to see all the 'good guys' locked up or killed. Another reason for this is how they create a false moral narrative.
Appeals to parents: The whole "save the kids" schtick. This, combined with an appeal to self makes parents VERY fearful that whoever, wherever, whenever is out to get them. But it's not them it's the thing they care about most, their children. This is obviously affective because most parents are selfless for their children (before the cult gets ahold of them.)
Appeals to Military: This sheds some light on the target audience. Older veterans grew up in a different time where people were insensitive and you just kind of got over it. This is mostly used when talking about the Ukraine Crisis. In my research Q-media outlets utilize people's lack of understanding of the military/government to spread their beliefs. Some, when challenged say things like "oh the military has changed" or start talking about their time in service that you can't confirm or deny without doxing them. This is used to validate Deity Retired LTG Flynn.
3. Deities: People, or Personas that are held as authority figures in the cult, These entities usually are the original sources for alot of disinformation and their messages are often widely disseminated through the cult itself. Tying into appeals to religion, you can find+replace God, Jesus, and the Holy spirit in the bible with Trump, Desantis, and Q themself
Qult Deities include but are not limited to (VernaculaMantras NOT included): Trump, Q, The number 17, (Yup....) LTG (Retired) Michael T. Flynn (I did some research on him, he has somewhere around 2 years in the DIA at the peak of his carrier, the DIA deals in foreign intelligence and combat-related missions relating to the DoD. This discredits his authority in talking about domestic intelligence relating to the president and his Cabinet, actually his entire carrier does), Accounts such as Q) The Stormrider /Official Page. The "intel Board" (Actually UNK what this is, assumed to be one of many websites that host 'q drops') Tucker Carlson, Twitter user [email protected], Twitter account DiedSuddenly, blatant Chinese/Russian Dis/Misinformation, Almost any FL politician ESPECIALLY DESANTIS, People in the public eye that support the agenda, Glenn Beck, James Jaeger (He tends to say things IOT scare you, and knows you won't do your own research) Any post made that vaguely supports the cult's agenda.
These entities are quoted and alot of them are the last location people get information because as deities they aren't questioned. Another tenant of cults is that it is taboo to criticize the leadeany deity and boy do I have the SCARS to show that that's true in Qanon any day of the week. The leader of any cult MAY call themselves a prophet, going to the origins of Q that's exactly how it picked up.
4. Target Audience: I feel bad that it's taken me this long to get here. The Cult's target audience is middle to senior aged people with internet access. Ideally these targets are Digital Dinosaurs or at best digital Immigrants (Generationally speaking if someone grew up before the internet they're a dinosaur and if they grew up before and jump into the internet but still have limited understanding of cyberspace they are considered a digital immigrant) The Cult wants people who would call themselves "Christian Conservative" and are uncomfortable with all the new technology coming out. These people are likely to figure out platforms like youtube, rumble, twitter, and its disabled second cousin; truthsocial while not understanding platforms like 4chan/8kun. The understanding of those platforms is left to whoever the head of this operation is/was. These users are also not likely to do their own research on the internet meaning any information they receive they are more likely to internalize and build a belief off of. People within this age range also tend to be carrier military service members. Don't think for a second the Cult has any respect for the military outside of recruiting efforts.
5. Suppressing Skeptics: Pretty self explanatory. The cult doesn't want you to entertain anything from the mainstream media other that headlines. You're only allowed to get your information from cult sources on one of the aforementioned platforms. In most cults people who watch anything mainstream or TV news would be labeled something like "suppressive people" the Qult calls these people "sheep" or "Normies" or "People that havent woken up" or an oldie is "blue pilled"
6. Demonizing Non-Members/Other side: This is a retention tactic. In order to keep people in they need to minimize reasons for leaving. Everyone who is not part of the cult is labeled as part of the problem. A lot of Q-media I've seen paints the narrative that if you knew this 'information' you must have a broken moral compass and not care about children if you don't immediately join the cult. And getting out is never a question.
Everyone on the outside looking in is allegedly a democratic ped0phile who either fantasizes about drinking baby blood or does it themselves. Apparently if you are knowingly not in the cult you are apparently in support of the sex-trafficking of minors.
7. Persecution Complex: Basically how Qanon says their group are the 'good' minority and everyone else is either out to get them or trying to destroy their organization (hey some of us are but its retaliatory) and everyone else or 'the other' as i used to call them are the "bad/evil" majority.
8. False Moral Narriative: The cult uses the previous 2 or 3 points in order to paint themselves as the good guys who are just on the side of saving lives when really they only exist to create political instability and conflict. If they were on the side of peace they would work with people they might not agree with for a common goal.
9. Secret Rites (8kun style boards): Until you are assessed to have a certain level of understanding of the cult and you might have a couple doubts youre told to do your own research on the 'intel board' and the /qresearch/ board yourself. They don't open with this especially because 8kun and 4chan are known to host not only NSFW stuff but also potential CP. I would argue in and around 50% of the platform's userbase has the intent of getting on there to say something they'd lose their job over or look at something they'd lose their job over.
The thing with the anon boards: they are completely unfounded, nothing on them can be proven because it it based on nothing but one user's posts. On the opposite side of that coin they cannot be disproven either. Even the predictions are drawing for connections that don't exist but theyre always such a reach that the best you can say is "i guess"

Hey thanks for making it through that. I'm gonna call it a night BUT expect updates to this I wanna try to make this a living document also sorry ab the bad formatting and grammar... i didnt go to college I wasnt allowed to.
submitted by TheEdgykid666 to QAnonCasualties [link] [comments]

2023.03.23 21:06 SevenEatingNine The High Septon - Doomspeaker, The Last

Misc Information

Reddit Account: SevenEatingNine
Discord Tag: Waffle#5715
Name and House: The High Septon
Age: 52
Cultural Group: Andal
Appearance: WIP
Trait: Artisan
Skills: Architect (e), Administrator (e), Scribe (e)
Talent(s): Preaching, Modelmaking (2x)
Negative trait(s) - N/A
Starting Title(s): The High Septon, The Father of the Faithful, His High Holiness, Shepherd of the Faithful, The Last, The Harbinger, Doomspeaker, Leader of the Black Lodge
Starting Location: King’s Landing
Alternate Characters: Leowyn Grafton, Ballabar Beesbury, Baela Celtigar


Robert Mallery showed so much promise, but now he only heralds doom.
He was born a Mallery, under the auspices of a shooting star no less, to parents who loved and doted on him. House Mallery was not a particularly wealthy one and found that they could only really afford the services of the local Septon to tutor their young heir. It turned out a match made in heaven as Robert was an incredibly bright lad, though often was prone to wandering when he should be learning swordplay from his father. He did take an early interest in money, ledgers and the Faith which the local Septon and his parents jumped on quickly.
On his twelfth nameday, he saw the first sign.
A peasant would come into Starfield having been attacked by birds in the field. He was torn half to shreds, and begged Robert’s parents for help even though there was nothing really that they could do. The peasant died in the hall, right in front of Robert, and he couldn’t help but cry. Not only propelling his deep fear of the avian it also served as the first sign that something was deeply wrong in the kingdom.
In 163 AC he would see the next omen. A handful of bandits, lawless men who his father had tried to calm down after a drunken night out, had burnt down the sept and killed his former tutor. That same sense of doom he felt three years early returned, this was not supposed to be happening.
Over the next few years similar omens would appear before Robert and he would be plagued by strange dreams. The castle’s Maester simply proscribed such things as eating something rotten before he went to bed, or simple happenstance yet Robert knew the truth. He had found his calling, or at least it had found him and he needed let the world know. Running away from Starfield he would make his way to King’s Landing and join the faith as an aspirant.
After ten years he was made into a Septon, though many in the Faith’s leadership were concerned about the more radical message that he preached. Robert would not bend nor would he yield from his doomsaying, though this made him few true friends. Septon Garth was the exception, a converted Northman who would introduce him to the Black Lodge. The Faith was not entirely without politics and the Black Lodge was a clear example of that, a gathering of clergy who wanted to advance their careers and positions. Though Robert did not agree with the materialism involved he did wish to use it for his advantage and as he joined he was assigned as an assistant to one of the Most Devout.
As the current High Septon’s health was failing Robert experienced the full brunt force of the factionalism of the Faith. He found that he did not disagree with the Revanchists, the Builders or the Speakers and so created his own faction of followers. Despite his grim words Robert did have a talent for speaking and had gathered a small cadre around him who he dubbed the Harbingers. His group would act as obstructionists, doing their best to stand in the way of any one faction gaining power though due to their size they would eventually fail in this regard.
The Harbingers managed to avoid Septon Garibald’s purge of Septons and Septas most commonly associated with the Builders. When Roland is elected, the Harbingers do not even show up to the vote though their presence isn’t really missed. It was at this point that the Harbingers start getting their first recruits as a handful of Most Devout, despairing over their loss in the election and the dissolution of the Revanchists, join the Harbingers.
Roland, the newest High Septon would die five years later and many started to listen to the message of woe that Robert was spreading. Many remnants of the Speakers and Revanchists factions join Robert’s ranks to avoid the purge of Baelon Roxton. As Baelon forces his election as High Septon Robert leads the voices calling the election invalid due to force of arms, condemning all parties involved.
As High Septon Roxton travels to Dorne he is lost to the waves around the coast of Dorne, many were relieved. Hoping to avoid deadlock the Most Devout has chosen another High Septon, this time they heard the carrion call of the Harbingers. Whatever opposition remains is disorganized and Robert is crowned High Septon - dubbed The Last.

Family Tree

Every follower of the Seven is part of my family 😉


148 AC - Robert Mallery is born under a shooting star, much to the excitement of his parents
152 - 160 AC - With a poor family, Robert’s only tutor was the local Septon near Starfield who taught him a love of the Faith. His father did his best to teach him about rulership, ledgers and the such but Robert took quickly to it.
165 AC - Robert sees a number of omens which he takes to be the end of the world, he runs away to join the Faith
175 AC - Septon Robert joins a secret society within the Faith that combines a number of different ideologies and creeds all for the advancement of power known as the Black Lodge.
176 AC - Gathering his followers together Septon Robert founds the Harbingers, a small faction within the grand Faith tapestry.
180 AC - Septon Robert is increasingly unpopular amongst the Faith for his doomsaying, though due to his limited influence, he is tolerated.
185 AC - The High Septon dies and the various factions of the Faith descend upon each other, fighting to see who is going to take the mantle. The Harbingers, few in number, refuse to attend the vote.
190 AC - The Harbingers faction slowly gains support due to dissension in the Most Devouts ranks, a growing number of the Faithful are hopeless at the state of the Kingdom
200 AC - The next High Septon dies, and infighting takes place within the Sept of Baela, seeing Septon Garibald and his supporters slain and Baelon Roxton take the mantel.
200 AC - After Baelon’s purge, the remainder of the Revanchist faction flocks to the banners of the Harbingers. Septon Robert refuses to acknowledge the new High Septon
200 AC - While traveling to Dorne, High Septon (Baelon Roxton) is reported missing. The Most Devout quickly declares him dead and holds another election.
200 AC - After most of the factions are left in disarray, the Harbingers are the only ones with any sort of organization Septon Robert becomes the next High Septon

Archetyped NPCs

Ser Ben - General
Ser Alesander - General
Septon Garth - General
Ser Amos - Warrior
Septon Sandor - Warrior
Quincy - Trader
Ser Mathos - Master-at-Arms
submitted by SevenEatingNine to ITRPCommunity [link] [comments]

2023.03.23 17:45 themav22 Quiet, luxury beach front Marriott?

Looking for your favorite luxury beach front Marriott, on the east coast (FL maybe?). Something quiet with quality service. :)
Thoroughly enjoyed the Waikiki Ritz, so something with a similar vibe would be great. The Google reviews for some of these places are scary so i appreciate your input!
submitted by themav22 to travel [link] [comments]

2023.03.23 12:17 browneorum NoP: Offspring. Chapter 27. Simbelmynë.

u/SpacePaladin15's universe, my story/characters.
Memory transcription subject: Yotun, son of Laenar and Arrut.
Date [standardised human time]: May 5th, 2120
(16 years, 4 months before the invasion of the gojid Cradle).

Yotun runs in the night.
He is running from the forest, from the chittering, clacking dead things that skitter across his trail. A phantom moon hangs above, a dark star shining shadows. It’s non-light leaves pools of moonlight in the gloom. The only true light, orange and warm, ebbs distantly from his home, barely visible downhill between the trees. He just needs to reach it…
His pursuers make themselves known with shrill shrieks; young brynn, flesh sloughing from their blackening bones. Many are missing large chunks of flesh, braying exaltedly as their viscera drag across the ground. The corpses press close, clipping at his heels, hooves clattering together as they stagger after him. They herd around him, giggling and squealing, trying to change his course.
“It’s not safe,” one whispers.
“Yessssss,” the others chorus.
“P-please!” he begs them. “Leave me alone!”
“Not safe!” They chant, their voices screeching like teeth on empty plates. “Not safe not safe not safe not safe!” They fill his sight as his feet pound the ground, their slacken faces and rolling tongues a grotesque portrait. Then he is running through the vineyards and up the cinderblock steps in three dream strides, the orange glow as bright and total as the dawn. He bursts through the back door. His parents are standing at the dining table, conferring in whispers as they peer beneath a massive sheet across it. They look up sharply at his hasty entrance.
“Oh,” his mother beams, lowering the cloth. “There you are.”
“Someone must be hungry!” his father laughs, the man smiling in a way he never seems to. Honestly. He is home, Yotun realises as his heart settles. He must be safe.
“C’mon dearest,” his mother says, “You’re just in time for dinner.”
He sits in his chair, the wood rough like bark.
“What’re we having?” he asks, looking down at the covered meal.
“Your favourite!” she squeals, pulling the cloth back. The table is covered with a fine sample of their vineyards and crops. Brightly coloured fruit, ripe and tender, paired with well roasted vegetables and seasoned tubers. Surely no other farmhands on the Cradle eats so well! But at the centre of the table sits the young brynn, blinking at them with dim animal eyes, its legs tucked tight beneath it. His mother moves to his left, and hands him a knife. Yotun looks uncertainly at his father, but the man just rubs his paws together, a big grin on his face.
“Go on, tuck in!” his mother says. Yotun gawps at her.
“N-no… I don’t want to…”
“You’ll eat it,” his father says sternly. “We put a lot of work into this.”
“No, I… p-please…” Something was not right.
“You won’t get your vegetables till you’ve had your brynn!” his mother scolds him. He sits there, open mouthed. Grumbling, Arrut snatches the knife from him.
“Here,” he says, “I’ll get you started.” In a swift, impossibly strong stroke, he cuts through the animal’s neck, decapitating it as if it were a stuffed toy. Blood splatters across table, soaking into the tablecloth; the head lands like a grim delicacy in the salad bowl. Yotun screams, covering his eyes. He slides to the floor, the tree giving up all pretence of being a chair. Without looking he knows he’s back in the forest, the smell of sap strong in his nose. A presence, felt but unseen, leans close.
“Are you scared?” she whispers, the words a breath on his throat. Yotun opens his mouth to speak but only a shrill wheezing comes out.

A rumbling sound woke Yotun with a start. He sat at the bus stop, fields of anuana stretching away on the other side of the road like a rolling avalanche. Down the road, the bus was approaching. Pulling his journal from his pack, he quickly took some notes on his dream before they faded. He had not been sure why Rylett was getting him to do so at first, all it did was reminded him of his dread, the terrible depth of his nightly terrors. But the more he did so, the more he saw in them. For one the smell might be more visceral, in another the colours more vivid. Some he would go most of the night without recalling any detail, save one sour note. Some days, some blessed morns, he woke not remembering a thing. A shadowy moon cloaked in light…
The transport shuddered to a stop, the blue paint chipping above the wheels. This far from the town of Yuret, the autonomous vehicle only had one occupant. The doors opened with a pneumatic hiss, Callio’s small pack bouncing as she skipped down the steps. The girl smiled as she saw him.
“Did you fall asleep?” she asked at once, watching him yawn and stretch. The bus started up again, emitting a low hum as it continued on its route.
“No…” he said, pawing an eye.
“Liar,” she said, sitting on the bench beside him. That woke him up. “So,” she said, swinging her legs. “You snuck out after all.”
“Couldn’t let you get lost on your own, hm?” he grinned, shaking his head. “If our parents knew…”
“Yotun,” she laughed, rolling her eyes as she jumped up happily. “That’s what the sneaking is for!” Callio put her paws on her hips.
“Ready?” she giggled. Yotun could not supress his grin as he stood.
“C’mon,” he chuckled, “it’s a long walk!”
The main road was not far from his family’s property, connecting Bendara on the western coast and Yuret to the southeast. Calling it the ‘main road’ was also something of a misnomer, as most traffic between the two settlements was airborne. Few, if any, would see the two teenagers wandering off into the woods.
The tour of the Brackwood had been more fun than he had expected, but Callio had become obsessed. Their time between classes was mostly spent talking about and comparing notes and drawings on what they had found on their respective borders of the territory. Callio had even brought in a dylia, a long, thin, green insectoid in a jar to show him. Rylett had not been impressed when she saw, even if she told them to keep it to themselves.
But that had not stopped them, and Callio still wanted to see more. In particular, she wanted to see the kuru again, those strange ghostly creatures.
“C’mon,” she had whined. “It’d take me so long to walk out there from my house. Couldn’t we go together? Your house is right there.” And he could not exactly say no to her, could he? She was his only real friend, and was it so bad if he wanted to spend some time with her? Shit. She’s sure plucked my quills enough to convince me of this, he admitted.
Winter was starting to wane at last, spring urging the forest to wake. This was a good time for his family, the vineyards starting to cultivate again. More to grow meant more work for his parents, which suited Yotun’s school break fine. It also meant that the dominar had shot up, and they had to cut through the roiling fields of sun-gold stems. A straight line turned into a meander, turned into a chase, the pair giggling like all children should, running beneath an open sky. Breathless, they exited the field on the forest side to find their path writ into the crop, as though a brynn had stampeded through. Not wanting to dawdle lest neighbour Maggit arrive, they set off into the Brackwood, roguish smiles on their faces.
Ahead, the snow had retreated back into icy caps on the mountains. All that meltwater would be turning the seas to a broil; even here in the foothills, where it was clear and sunny, there was still a wetness to the soil. The trees had started to sense springs coy fingers, drawing out the first hints of green and blue stems from renewed branches. Even in dead things, nature finds new life, Yotun reflected.
The pair made good time; Callio’s enthusiasm dragged him most of the way. They stopped to rest on his overhang before midday, where he had come to draw in solitude but had found then lost a friend. He had not come back since, but it was as he had left it all those months ago. The outstretch of rock with its log for a bench, a crowd of its living fellows standing cautiously nearby as if goading one of their number to lift its roots and plummet from on high. The wind whistled but carried no voice.
“Look,” Yotun said breathily, pointing downhill to the slab of grey amongst its rows of vines. “You can see my house from here.” He strained his eyes along the peaks to the southeast, then down into the plains. “And there’s Yuret.” he added, noting the peaks of silver towers spread between circular pastures of green. Callio was still admiring the property, watching the regular mechanical motions of the little drones spraying pesticides. From this distance they looked like insects themselves.
“Your dad’s still growing his trees?” she asked. Yotun nodded, gesturing to a seemingly barren patch at the forest's edge below them. His father had taken to the idea with a strange zeal.
“Down there.” He laughed. “Don’t know what’s gotten into him.”
“I think it’s nice,” Callio said with a smirk. “Don’t you?”
“I guess.” Yotun mumbled. “I just don’t see it lasting. He only cares about the vineyards, anything that doesn’t add to that…” He shrugged. “What about your dad? Isn’t he gonna be upset that you’ve run off out here?” She spun away from him, wandering up to the trees.
“He worries too much. I told him I was going into town.” With one last look down at his home, he moseyed after her. So brazen, he noted, the thought tickling him. Callio glanced at him as he joined her, her brown doe eyes narrowing with a smirk on her lips.
“What?” she asked coyly, tossing her head and folding her arms. “Do you disapprove?”
“Since when do you need my approval?” he laughed. “It’s just… out of character.”
“Oh,” she said, leaning forward with a scandalised expression. “And what exactly is my ‘character’?” Yotun chuckled.
“Little light in the tunnel, not one to work against the grain.” He smiled impishly. “What would they say of Miss Perfect stomping off into the woods with the likes of me?” Her smirk was fixed even when she rolled her eyes.
“Perfect, eh? Well would Miss Perfect do this?” she hooted, giving him a sharp shove. He fell solidly onto his rump, the damp forest floor wetting his fur. Callio’s snorting snigger at his shocked expression warmed him against the chill.
“Oh, that’s it!” he giggled, picking up a patch of sodden muck and flinging it at her with a hefty splat! She gasped, the girl gaping down at the brown mud coating her soft cream-coloured fur. For a moment, he thought he had ruined everything. Then her gasp became a giggle, became a cackle. He started laughing too, falling onto his back.
“Aha… You idiot!” she wheezed as she trotted over to him.
“Ah… serves you right,” he tittered wiping the dirt from himself, and taking her offered paw. It felt firm and sure in his own. Callio looked down at her mucky fur again.
“Papa’s gonna kill me,” she chuckled trying to work it out with her claws.
“Sorry,” Yotun winced. Such a silly thing to do. He ran a claw through a rough patch, gently teasing the dirt out. His paw drifted up the blot, and he felt Callio’s breath hitch as his paw moved across her chest. He froze, realising what he had absently done. Their eyes met, and he wondered if his own exposed his feelings so clearly.
She stepped away, abashedly, working up to the treeline again. Yotun’s brain was doing somersaults, whilst simultaneously thinking about soap for some reason.
“Woah,” Callio said looking up at the hollow tree, “that’s neat”. She stuck her head inside. “Ha! It’s super echoey.” Her voice boomed. “Listen to that! Helloooo! Hellllooooo!” There was a moment's silence. “Hey, come look at this…”
“What?” he murmured, bending down into the crevice beside her. She pointed to deep gouges on the dead interior.
“Claw marks,” she mumbled, following the trail up. “Something climbed up here.” Or someone… he ruminated, running his thumb across a deep scratch. She was always one step ahead, ever out of reach. “You alright?” Callio asked.
“Yeah, you just… reminded me of someone.”
“Someone good, I hope.”
They were very close, sitting in that hollow. He nodded uphill. “C’mon.”
“More climbing?!” she huffed. “I’m so tired!”
“It’ll be worth it,” he said. “I promise.”
During late spring and summer, the foliage grew too dense to pass through, blocking passage into the rest of the estate. But in the earliest weeks of spring the cut path into the Brackwood was clear enough to gain egress. He had only come out this far once or twice since he had first found that hidden trail, all those years ago.
The path, which started near his family’s vineyards, stretched up into a pass between two low mountains. Dormant trees, too high and too cold for spring, and any awlets nesting there were all who noted their passing. The higher they climbed, the dearer the drop to each side. Even the trees seemed to fall away as they walked, loose soil giving way to steep summits of stone. They were panting hard as they reached the apex, but a wall of white sound was all they could hear. Yotun wore a grin as they crested the rise.
Before them stretched the long descent into the west. Curving to the north, in a misty surge was the source of the white noise. The waterfall, pale and bright, flowed from a narrow opening in the solid granite; at least, it seemed narrow from this distance. In actuality the bus Callio had taken could probably be propelled out of that chute. It must have been carved out from tens of millions of years of thaw, tens of millions of springs. The water fell in a roar —crying liberation from the cold— into a massive lake at its foot, a tributary of the larger rivers in the forest. Though they could not see it, Yotun knew the river would be strong now, made all the harsher by Ki-yu’s rage. Down there, between the greening trees, the water was white and frothing with the last of winter’s bite.
“Wow,” Callio gasped, her fatigue vanishing. Her brown eyes followed the sharp folds of the mountains westward, the hidden slopes and valleys too few knew. “Okay… that was worth it.”
“Told you so,” he tittered breathily. “See that?” he told her, pointing to the most western and modest peak. “That’s where Turin found me when I wandered out here.” It was smaller than he had thought, more of a large hill than the mountain he supposed. He recalled surprisingly little from his march across the forest. His strongest memory was that he had to keep moving, and never go home.
“You did all that?” she glanced down into the valley. Yotun flexed his jaw, watching how the blue of the sky met with the silver mountains.
“Yeah, well… I couldn’t sleep.” Some little bellboys dove from a high point beside the waterfall, dancing through the mist to wash. Callio took his paw beside him.
“Thank you, Yotun.”
“It’s okay,” he said, looking up to gauge the sun’s passage. “We should probably head back soon.”
“Oh, couldn’t we go a little further?” she asked.
“I don’t know much more beyond this point,” he shrugged. She smiled sunnily at him.
“Pleaaase…” she whined.
“Well,” he sighed, as though he had not thought this far ahead. “There is one more thing. It’s not far.”

They followed the trail further along the ridge, the wind sweeping up to play with their fur. Eventually, a forest path cut off from the main trail, threading between the trees. The meagre offering of allfurs tried to form a thin canopy, their bristling green cones instead littering the forest floor. Brush and bushes also grew dense here, meaning they could see the sky far better than their feet. Still, the path was easier than he had expected and had clearly seen some recent use.
Callio did not seem to mind the detour, nor the difficult terrain. I could be leading her anywhere, and still, she follows me. She trusts me, he realised. It should not have come as a surprise, but something about that fact was a minor revelation.
Just when he was worried he had led them astray, Yotun stepped out of the treeline and into the sheltered clearing. A fresh crop of pale white blossoms with golden-yellow hearts had come up, a living echo of snow’s thaw. Beneath their green stems the ground was soft and rolling, warmed ever so gently by the sun’s rays. A log had fallen through the dell and across the thin trickling stream that cut through the idyllic little spot. Tiny insects flittered about on soft wings, dancing with and chasing each other between the petals. It was beautiful.
Callio almost pushed past him, stopping in her tracks. She spent a few seconds processing the image before her, then peered at him like he had just produced a hovercraft out of thin air. She laughed, covering her mouth with a paw, and stepped forward into the clearing. The bugs flew up at her passing, buzzing about her as she stepped through the petals.
“They’re so pretty!” she remarked, bending down to touch a crèche of white flowers growing in a mound.
“Evermind,” he told her. “Mother grows some by the window.”
“Oh!” she gasped. “Like the poem?”
“Poem?” He sat against the log.
“You know the one,” she laughed, tilting her head.
Leaf-maker, night-blind,
Candle in a jar.
For but a taste of evermind,
I wander, lone, afar.
With a sheepish smile, he bent down and plucked up a flower.
“Here,” he said, handing her the stem. “Now you won’t have to wander anywhere.” His own words sent something wriggling in his stomach, afraid of what he was saying.
“Silly boy,” Callio laughed but accepted the gift. She sat in the sun beside him.
“S-sorry,” he said clumsily. “That was really weird. Everyone thinks I’m weird.”
“You are weird, you silly boy!” she said sweetly. “It’s what I like about you.” Yotun smiled bashfully, words forgotten to the soaring feeling in his chest.
“I, uh… I do approve… by the way.” he said in hushed tones. Her eyes making his heart thunder. “O-of this… of you…” Callio twiddled the flower between her digits, glancing from its petals to him and back again. Then, she rested her head on his shoulder.
“F-for what it’s worth,” she breathed, “I think you’re perfect too.”
That moment, the two of them sitting alone, felt like he had dozed off in the sun with the promise of a night of summer dreams. If he shut his eyes he would fall asleep and never wake up and be happier for it. But instead, his eyes alighted on the gentle trickling stream. There was a sliver of swirling blue in its clear water. The wind changed, and Callio coughed.
“What’s that smell?” she murmured. A moment later the sickly odour touched his nose too. It was too familiar.
“N-no…” he said weakly. “N-not here…” Yotun jumped down from the log, the trickle of the stream cool between his toes. Callio called out behind him, but he was in a daze. It can’t be… please don’t be… He followed the brook to the crest of the clearing, the blue tide thickening all the while. The boy found what he did not hope to find, breathing heavily in shock. Callio ran up behind him, then gasped, a rapid whimpering sound.
Tied to the roots of the tree was the putrid corpse of a vyrryn. It was so old as to have started rotting, parts of the blackening flesh long since stripped away. He staggered backward. Rolling eyes, slacken tongue, a hole where the neck should be…
“Y-Yotun…” Callio whispered. “I- uh…” He took a nervous step forward.
“Oh, but…” Yotun gasped. “L-look…”
“I don’t want to look!” Callio hissed. “I want to go!”
“B-but the legs! They’ve been cut away!”
“S-someone d-did this…” Callio shuddered, pointing with a claw to the rope. “Yotun… Please, I think we should go!”
“Y-yeah,” he said, tendrils of terror tightening around his heart. “C’mon.” Without thinking, he took her paw in his and turned to go back the way they had come. They stopped.
Something massive was standing across the stream. Its four stocky legs were tipped with sharp claws. Its short-haired, fuzzy brown body was long, its frame too large for its gaunt flesh. But it was the eyes that embristled him at once; intense, golden eyes. Predator! his mind screamed.
“B-behind me!” Yotun hollered. The urge to run was overwhelming, but where to run to? The teenagers scampered backward looking about for a path through the trees, but the forest pressed too tight, the terrain too uneven. If it had killed and caught a vyrryn Yotun had no doubt this creature would run them down if they tried to flee. Instead, he held onto Callio tightly. The predator padded after them in a lethargic, almost casual stride, pacing back and forth across the clearing. Callio squealed as her legs touched the corpse of the vyrryn. It wants the body! Yotun’s panicking mind insisted.
“I-it w-wants the meat!” he hissed. Together, they moved sideways around the clearing. The creature’s long tail swished back and forth as it regarded them. Its broad nose took in the air, a wide purple tongue clearing a tooth. It loped forward, its paws thick and heavy, spreading its weight as it clambered over to the dead thing. It sniffed about it deeply, the teenagers moving back further. But their movement recaptured its attention, and it turned its massive head back to them.
“Wh-what’s it doing?” Callio whimpered.
“I-it’s more interested in us,” he gasped. Every slow step backward they took was mirrored by the predator. What do I do?! Where can we go?! They were rapidly being backed further and further into the treeline. All his nightmares seemed to swirl about him; the feeling of being trapped, hunted, and the feeling of broken bodies and shattered jaws. I have to save her… He squeezed Callio’s paw.
“G-get ready to run,” he gulped.
“Wh-wh-?!” He did not have any time to waste, lest his courage fail. He threw his arms out, baring his flat teeth as wide as he could.
“Find help. Go!” he shouted, stepping fiercely toward the predator. A short moment later he heard her beating a hasty retreat. “Yaaaaaaa!” he yelled, swinging his arms about. “Raaaaaaaaa!” It ignored him, tracking Callio’s passing. He stepped between them. Yelling from the top of his lungs.
It stalled for a moment and blinked at him. Then it growled.
His bravery faltered, and he took a half-step backward. That was enough. It jumped forward, slashing at his throat. Yotun cringed away, yelping as its claws left vicious cuts through his forearm. Instinctively he rolled onto his belly, his spines extended into a ball of spikes. He shook in terror as he felt its hot breath on him, a moment later whimpering, snivelling as it battered him again. The creature made a snarling sound, irritated by his spines. It hit him again, hard enough to knock the wind from him, the shock making him unroll. He looked up into the eyes of death.
H-hey!” he heard a thin voice yell as a rock came sailing into the animal’s flank. It spun about with a hiss. Callio stood there, brazen and afraid.
“Run!” he gasped. The girl turned in terror to flee, but in an instant it was on her. She was pinned, wild-eyed and screaming, on her back, unable to roll over and splay her spines. The sound seemed to fade, replaced by a thundering droning, a belt of pressure so tight around his skull he thought it had burst open. Yotun collapsed as he tried to lift himself, finding his left arm to be shredded, blue flesh peaking between his fur. His body felt leaden, unable to move. Time slowed as the monster bore down on Callio, her frantic, shrieking inaudible. The girl’s silent scream was choked as its great jaws clamped about her throat. The air was pressed from his lungs; nothing seemed to be happening, save that moment. Then there was a rumble, like distant thunder, more felt than heard. The animal recoiled as its side caught fire, dropping Callio limply to the dirt. A man with a rifle strode through the brush, the lever ratcheting again as he fired on the predator. Hissing furiously, the monster bolted for the trees, a round of sizzling plasma reducing an ear to a burned stump. In two bounds it was lost amongst the leaves, white fire chasing after it.
Yotun’s eyes drifted to his friend, her body lay twitching where she had been dropped. His arm flooded with lancing pain he crawled to her, pleading that she was alright. But in reaching her he found there a despair usually reserved for his nightmares.
Blue blood was staining her cream-coloured fur, droplets on the white flowers around her. Her paws curled slowly as she held them against her chest. She wore a strange, perplexed expression like she was trying to solve some particularly stimulating puzzle. Great holes punctured her neck, her head hanging limply to the body. There was a grip on his shoulder as he was firmly pushed away, the big brown man’s paws moving frantically through his pack. He was speaking to him, but Yotun only heard the pounding in his ears. I know him, don’t I? a part of him recalled. The man produced a medical kit, retrieving a bundle of gauze and pressing it to the wounds. It turned blue at once.
Callio was wincing, tears welling in her eyes as she tried to say something, something he could not hear. But he could see. All he could do was see. He wished he had never seen at all.
The big man was shaking him, and Yotun gasped in shock as awareness returned in a wall of sound.
“Yotun!” Braq barked at him, guiding his paw to the bandage. “Keep pressure here!” He did so at once, his stomach spinning. Callio made a muted sobbing sound, as his paw pressed down hard, her blood sticky on his palm. His left arm was afire with agony, but he ignored it; it was nothing compared to what he could see.
“I-it’s o-okay,” he told her. “I-I’ve got you.” Oh no… no, please, no… Braq spun around again, reloading the rifle as quickly as he could. He paced around them in a firm careful stride. “H-help me!” Yotun pleaded weakly, not to anyone in particular. Braq winced.
“I am,” he said, pacing nervously. Yotun sat there dumbly, Callio making weak sounds as he pressed against her open throat. It had all gone wrong.
“Wh-what w-was-!”
“A roht,” Braq murmured, pain etched across his face. “I’m so sorry lad.” There was a deep resonant growl between the trees, making Braq bristle as he re-primed the weapon.
“W-won’t it go away?!”
“No, not when there’s food to be had.” He peered back at them. “Don’t worry, helps on the way.” Yotun gawped at him, a look of terror and blame.
“Y-you said th-there weren’t any m-monsters in the woods!” Yotun gasped.
“I lied,” Braq whispered. A split-second later there was a crash through the bush, Braq raising his weapon swiftly. He fired blindly at his target, and there was a thudding sound. It was silent. The moment stretched out, marked only by Callio’s rasping breath against his palm. Braq stepped forward into the scrub, and swung the gun left and right as he moved in slow cautious steps. He disappeared from sight between the trees.
Suddenly he cried out in fright, falling onto his back into the clearing. The monster had pounced on him, the big man struggling beneath it with the gun in its jaws. Yellow teeth scratched at the metal. Abruptly a shadow exploded out of the bushes nearby, leaping at the predator in long bounding strides. The blur hit the roht across the back, lodging a knife into it as it went, the force of the collision dragging the predator from its prey. Rolling to its feet, the big brown beast hissed at its attacker, batting at it with a massive paw. The other leaped away, its lithe sinuous form more agile than any gojid. Its long snout sat before two dark forward-facing eyes, and its lips were drawn back in a hideous snarl. The two predators circled one another, growling and snapping as their tails hung low. The roht easily outweighed the newcomer two to one, but it was also clearly slower.
Yotun looked down at the girl in his arms. She was not looking at the fight for their lives, instead her soft brown eyes were searching his face as though he held some answer to a special question. Her eyelids started to droop, as though too heavy to bear. No!
“Callio?” he gasped. “C-can… p-please stay awake…” The predators nearby were diving and dancing around one another, the roht trying to rush in and push down the dark reptile. He pressed his palm harder to his friend’s throat, causing her to whine, tears filling her eyes. “Ju-just hold on, w-we’ll g-get you out o-of here!” Braq had rejoined the fray, the rifle discharging superheated bolts at the monster. Callio’s paw rubbed against Yotun’s cheek, brushing away the tears he did not feel.
“Silly boy…” she gargled, that light smirk on her bloody lips.
“I n-need to tell you something…”
“Tell…” she managed weakly but could say no more. Her eyes slid shut, her face went slack, and she died in his arms.
“Wh-?” he mumbled, peaking beneath the bandage. “Callio?” He put his head on hers; he did not know why. “Wake up. W-we’ve got to get home…” he told her. “Please w-wake up.” It’s a dream, a bad dream for my journal. “Wake up!” he all but yelled, shaking her broken body. “No…”
Yotun was vaguely aware that Braq had stopped firing, the rifle landing near him as the roht ripped it from the man’s grasp. Braq dove away as it leapt for him again, the shadow taking the opportunity to slash at its haunches. This drew a pained yelp from it, distracting the monster as it whirled to howl at the other predator. Seemingly emboldened, the dark creature attacked with renewed vigour, feinting one way only to pounce from another. Before him Braq snatched up the rifle, hastily slotting rounds into the chamber as the two monsters fought.
“Watch it girl!” he called out as the roht stood up to throw itself heavily at the black reptile. Girl? some part of Yotun’s grief and fear-stricken brain pondered. Whatever ‘she’ was she heeded his warning, rolling beneath and scrambling away from the beast. The roht was starting to lather from its wounds, panting and snarling fiercely. Sensing this, the shadow closed in, biting and slashing at it before darting away. Then she was too close for a moment too long, and the yellow teeth snapped shut around her tail. With a wrenching toss of its shaggy head, the roht flung the lesser predator across the clearing. With a yelp and a sickening crunch, her middle wrapped around a tree trunk.
“NO!” Braq yelled out as she fell solidly to the ground. She had stopped moving. The roht turned its yellow eyes on the gojids. It charged them, and Yotun sat there like a fiirit on the freeway. Braq tried to fire the rifle, but the mechanism jammed with a hefty clunk. Death then. With a terrific yell, Braq threw himself over them both, his broad spikey back flaring. The roht slashed at him, and both barked out in pain. It threw its head low under his spines, grabbing the ecologist by the ankle and dragging him away from the kids.
“Ah-yah!” Braq kicked savagely with his other foot, the claws jabbing at the predator’s face and freeing himself. For a brief moment, the man managed to wrestle his way on top of the creature, wrapping his muscular arms under its head and elbowing its skull repeatedly. But then the monster threw him from itself and pounced on him, Braq barely getting his paws up in time to hold back his demise. But it was a futile maneuverer, and Yotun could see the fear in his eyes the roht’s strength slowly overpowered him.
It killed her, and that dark thing, Yotun thought absently. Soon it’ll kill me, and everything will be alright. His only regret was that Braq would have to die as well.
There was a hollering yell, and then it was off him, the man sucking in air in agony and relief against the ground.
“Ki-yu…” Braq wheezed, trembling as he tried to force himself up. You see that bright one? a half-remembered voice flashed through Yotun’s mind.
The shadow was straddling the roht in the middle of the clearing, screeching at the top of her lungs as she slashed with her claws at its throat. Blue blood was being flung in all directions, the roht’s legs kicking desperately beneath her as it tried to buck the other predator off itself. Its paws scraped at her flanks, but the darkling batted the blows aside. The great beast tried to bite at the reptile’s throat, but she recoiled, and wrapping her clawed hands around the snout snapped it shut. Ki-yu let out a savage bellowing howl before she dragged the still-kicking predator's muzzle and head into her jaws. Yotun tried to look away, but he found he could not. The roht let out a strange bleating sound as great sharp teeth dug through hide and skull and eye and brain. With a sickening Ca-CRUNCH the predator's head shattered, and it stopped crying out. Stopped kicking. It did not even twitch.
Yotun realised he was screaming when his lungs ran out of air. The predator sat astride the roht with its teeth still lodged in the blue mess that was once a head. It was not looking at him, instead, it seemed to be panting. It wore a distant expression on its face, its dark eyes unfocused.
With his unmauled arm, Yotun reached for the rifle. The movement seemed to awake the creature, and it shook its mouth free of the shattered skull with short jerking motions. He pulled it up, heavy and clumsy in his shaking paw. The creature just watched him, its bloodied claws stretched out over its kill. He was trying to figure out how to shoot the thing when Braq limped over and pulled the rifle forcefully from him. He fell to his knees before them, his paws moving desperately over Callio’s corpse.
“Shit! Oh, no, oh shit shit shit!” he muttered to himself. He smelt of blood and sweat.
“She’s dead.” Yotun told him, as simply as if he had asked for the weather. The big man looked him so close and so deep in the eyes, Yotun could see himself reflected in his pupils. Braq hung his head, his heavy paw gripping Yotun’s shoulder. The boy looked up to see that the voice in the forest had ambled over to them. The woodwaif wheezed as she breathed, a strained expression on her long face as she clutched at her ribs. She dragged her tail along the ground, its middle broken where the roht had bitten it. Blue blood covered her, a trickle of red leaking from one nostril. Her dark scales glistened in the sunlight, her form supple and strong. She’s beautiful, he thought distantly as she towered over him.
“Please,” he whispered, “just kill me.”
Simbelmynë. Ever has it grown the tombs of my forbears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas that these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger; that I should live to see the last days of my house… No parent should have to bury their child…
– Théoden, King of Rohan. The Two Towers.
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2023.03.23 11:37 jacksondaxhacker Russia on its way to outdoing Syria in terms of outdated tech... At least my badass-looking landships will make a return soon!

Russia on its way to outdoing Syria in terms of outdated tech... At least my badass-looking landships will make a return soon! submitted by jacksondaxhacker to NonCredibleDefense [link] [comments]

2023.03.23 06:19 SportSurfacesUS Sport Surfaces : Your One-Stop Solution for Sports Court Construction and Resurfacing

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2023.03.23 05:04 JJW2795 Land of the North Wind Chapter 3

Just got chapter 3 finished. For this spring, I'm going to be aiming for a chapter every couple of weeks until my workload eases this summer. This is partly due to scheduling in other areas of life, but also because I'm aiming for fewer chapters but with a longer average word count. Good news is this gives me more time to bang out some of the details so hopefully I'll put that to good use.
As always, this story is available to read on fanfiction and AO3 with the links to the current chapter below:
While the days were quickly getting shorter, the sun was still in the sky far more often than not. It would be weeks until the equinox and then from there the north country would start getting colder, and colder, and colder still until the land more resembled a glacier than the rolling hills. Shadow was the first to rise, having enjoyed a well-earned rest on the first soft bed in weeks. Getting fully dressed, Shadow took a minute to look out from the back window of the room. Above the walls in the far distance rose those mountains. They looked similar and yet so very different from the forested mountains of home in her youth.
“Get out of here, you’ve caused enough trouble.” The words came back to her as a bad memory, one she had tried to shake countless times. But even the slightest hint of home would bring those cutting last words of her family back to her. The cause was all over her body, the black fur and the hints of even blacker spots covered every inch of skin.
“But I didn’t do it…” Those were her last words to her mother and siblings. There was no goodbye, no “I love you.” Just stern faces and weapons at the ready. It had been five long years since that fateful day, no one would have guessed how far Shadow would travel since then, not even her. But, like Connor, Shadow sensed that being out here was a chance to start over. No guilds, no templar, just people curious and cautious of some strange outsiders. She’d always need to be careful, just like any keidran, but with the right connections she’d be as safe as anyone. Especially if Connor joined the city guard. Speaking of the gathering in the great hall was going to start soon.
“Hey guys, it’s time!” Shadow said, loud enough to wake everyone but still with a gentle tone. Connor groaned and, after ruffling Asher’s hair, stretched his arms and legs in bed. All that walking and riding was catching up with him now, and he could feel the tight muscles complaining about having to move yet again. Liz was quick to rise, having slept like a rock half the day. Asher was the most sluggish, the poor kid just wanted to sleep in. But, without warning, Connor was quick to scoop him up off the bed and put Asher down on his feet. The basitin wobbled on unsteady legs that weren’t ready to bear their weight, but Connor propped him up while fetching the kid’s shirt and jumper so that he could get dressed. Zephyr, just like a cat, got up from her spot on the window sill, the sun having moved on from where she fell asleep.
“So what are we doing?” Liz asked, rubbing eyes while fetching her jacket.
“There’s a meeting in the great hall and I thought we ought to go over there and get to know some of our new neighbors. Also, I’ve been thinking about a work offer and should follow up on it.”
“Really? And what is it?” Liz questioned.
Connor walked over to the corner and picked up his father’s sword, unsheathing it slightly to see the glinting steel exposed from its home inside the scabbard.
“Sam, Gerrick’s son, said I should join the town guard.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” Asher said, finally awake enough to be listening.
“It’s a lot safer than being on the sea, and it pays more than a lot of the labor around here. Besides, especially in the winter there can’t possibly be that many hazards to worry about.”
“Well, if you think that’s the right thing, I guess I can’t argue. We’re going to need money to buy supplies for winter.” Liz said.
“My thoughts exactly.” Shadow added. “Besides, I’ve seen Connor in action, your brother can handle himself.”
“Oh come now Shadow, I’m far from being a confident fighter.”
“What about that guy in the fighting pits?”
“The what?” Liz asked. She hadn’t heard all the details yet.
“Shadow! You know I don’t want to talk about that.”
“Connor, you were in a fighting pit?”
“Uh… yeah. Like I was saying earlier Liz, it’s a very long story and not all of it is pleasant. Look, if we’re all ready, we had better get going.”
Tightening the sword’s belt around his waist, Connor donned his long black cloak and followed everyone out of the inn and into the street. The citizens were indeed making their way over to the great hall. Well, a lot of people anyway, plenty of others couldn’t care less. Following the crowd, Connor made sure that everyone stayed together, even grabbing Asher’s hand so that he wouldn’t get lost in the crowd.
Walking through the giant wooden doors, they all looked up to a hall lined with chandeliers made of caribou antler and brass candle holders. In the middle was a long, raging fire in a pit extending most of the length of the main room. The place reeked of smoke and sweat, but the seat of power was unmistakable. At the far end of the room, on a platform, were several well-built chairs behind a long table. Older folks were seated along the large tables that extended the length of the room while others stood. Shadow found everyone a spot to watch about halfway down the hall and near one of the large supports.
“I can’t see anything!” Asher exclaimed with frustration. Looking down, Connor rolled his eyes before hoisting the kid up onto his shoulders to watch.
“Much better, thank you.”
“Alright, but I can’t do that forever. You’re heavier than you look.”
“Are you calling me fat?” Asher teased.
“No, but you are growing up quick, so enjoy the view while you can.”
Almost as if on cue, men came out from a back room and took their places along the fancy chairs behind the big table. After all were sat down, the one on the right, but closest to the wooden throne, stood and held up his hands. At once, people began to quiet down. Then the Jarl came out from the back room. He wasn’t dressed as nicely as Connor would have thought. His clothes weren’t much different from the commoners, just a little better quality and with some muted colors.
For a moment, the Jarl paused to look out at his people before sitting down with one arm gripping each of the throne’s armrests. He wasn’t particularly old, perhaps in his thirties. Hair with just slightest hints of grey hung down to meet a beard that was several inches long. Winter was approaching and this apparently was the look of most men. Upon taking a good look at the crowd gathered, the Jarl began to speak.
“Harald, glad to see you could make it in time.” The Jarl greeted one of his friends, who raised a cup to his lord. “And Evan, how is your father?”
“He is improving, my lord.”
“Very good, be sure to send him my regards. Now then, lawspeaker, what is our agenda tonight?”
The man to his right cleared his throat before speaking out in a booming voice. “My lord, we are here to discuss preparations for winter.”
“Excellent. Do we have any news from the port on supplies?”
One of the freemen in the crows stood up. “The harbor master has informed me that there will be two more ships that are scheduled to arrive in the next month, and after that there’s no guarantee that the river will remain open to the coast.”
“We’ll have to put together some able-bodied men who can run the river then. It’s going to be a harsh one, just as my father predicted before his passing. Callow will need all the supplies we can muster.” The Jarl said, issuing his decision.
“Very good, my lord” the lawspeaker said. “Gerrick, I trust that you can assemble the necessary men and boats?”
Gerrick then stepped out so that he could be better seen. “Yes, my lord. So long as the weather holds, this should be a fairly simple task.”
The Jarl nodded, “then make it so, Captain. What is next?”
Another man stood up in the crowd to address the assembly, but waited to speak until the lawspeaker acknowledged him. “My lord, us loggers have been having a wolf problem.”
“Oh? And what is the nature of this problem?”
“You see, my lord, the local snow wolves say that we haven’t been abiding by our treaties. No one has been hurt yet, but they don’t want us venturing further into the forest.”
“This will have to be addressed when the representatives of the Snow Wolf clans arrive in a few days. Until then, are you going to need security to carry out your tasks?”
“No, my lord. We’ve cut about as many trees as we can handle before winter, so it is just a matter of processing what we already have. I should be able to keep my men out of trouble by telling the wolves that this is all the timber we’ll need to stay warm this winter.”
“Good, but that will only be a temporary fix. Lawspeaker, I’ll need to see those treaty documents again before our guests have arrived.”
The lawspeaker was quick to nod in understanding at the Jarl’s command and satisfied the logging foreman sat down. Opening the floor up for others to speak, a mining boss stood up to fill the void.
“Winston, any news from the mines?” the Jarl asked.
“Yes, my lord. This summer we hit a new vein of iron that we’ve been able to trace. It seems to go under the river and into Ditter’s Ridge. The problem is we won’t be able to access the iron from our current mine entrances, so next spring we are going to need permission from the wolves to expand into that section of land.”
“I think we can get that done; those wolves don’t seem too attached to the ridge.”
“Of course, my lord. But if we start mining this new vein, we are going to need even more timber and labor next spring.”
“And I’m sure that can be arranged, Winston. Did you have anything else to report.”
“Yes sir, it is with great sadness that I have to announce an accident in the mine two days ago cost us a dozen lives and made several weeks of work for my men. The families have all been notified of the loss.”
The crowd’s energy cooled at this news. It seemed the lost men were well-known by many people. The Jarl picked up on this.
“That was indeed a tragedy, Winston, but I know you and your men did all you could to get them out. Give me the names of the families after the meeting and I’ll see to it that our treasurer is able to give them compensation and supplies to make it through the winter. When spring comes, we’ll be sure to add onto the memorial.”
Connor was somewhat surprised by this. He hadn’t heard of a king, or even a local lord for that matter, taking such steps for people in the throes of grief. If only one such lord had been in Maine. As each member of the assembly spoke of their news, Connor noticed Gerrick and they locked eyes. A smile formed across the man’s face, and he nodded in approval for Connor.
Liz was watching the meeting from a few feet away when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. Turning her head, she smiled to see Sam standing there right behind her. In a hushed voice, she said “hello.”
“Liz, right?”
“The name is Sam.”
“You were that guard looking at me earlier when I rode into town, aren’t you.”
Sam looked down trying not to show his embarrassment. “Yes, sorry about that. It’s just, we don’t get a lot of outsiders around here, especially not a proper lady like yourself.”
“Well now, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly proper. You know Connor is my brother, right?”
“Oh yes. I hope he and I will be fast friends.”
“Well, you should probably know, he’s a bit overprotective of his kin. Long story, maybe he’ll tell you some time.”
“I’m certain, Liz, that your brother wants you to build a life here. That’s going to include courting a boy or two.”
“And is that why you’re here Sam, to court me?” Liz asked with a hint of sass in her voice.
“Oh, well, I wouldn’t call it that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I just—”
“I never said I didn’t like it, Sam. Just want to give you enough warning to do things the right way if you want me to give you a chance.”
“So, what is the ‘right way’? I’m a little new to this.”
“Like this…” Liz then reached in a pecked Sam’s cheek, blood rushing to the boy’s face. He couldn’t even muster a word.
“Come see me at the inn sometime. I certainly don’t need my brother’s permission.”
“Oh, okay then. Well, I suppose I’ll see you soon.”
Liz winked at Sam as he disappeared into the crowd. She then looked over to see that Connor hadn’t noticed any of that conversation. He was too focused on the meeting. Oh, but Shadow noticed. She gave Liz a nod and a wink, so at least the only other girl in the family had her back.
Connor was starting to let his mind drift when he saw Gerrick step forward.
“My lord, there was one last piece of business to discuss, if you don’t mind.”
“Oh? Then go-ahead Gerrick, please speak.”
“We had some new visitors today.”
“We get visitors all the time Gerrick, so what about them?”
“Well, I guess I should call them residents. A new family has joined our town, Connor, could you please step forward?”
This took Connor by surprise, but he did as he was asked. Taking Asher off his shoulders and making sure Shadow had a hold of him, Connor stepped through all the people and between two of the long tables until he was visible to the whole room. He was nervous, having all this attention on him. But the Jarl smiled as Connor gave a small bow to show respect, not quite knowing the proper etiquette.
“So, this young man is Connor?”
“Y-yes, my lord.”
“Hey, you’re okay, please don’t be afraid. If Gerrick is correct, you plan on being part of this community anyway. Is your father here?”
“He… I’m sorry to say, my lord, but my father died.”
“Oh? Your mother then?”
“She… she has passed as well.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that, Connor. So who are you with.”
“Well, my lord, I’ve come here with my sister, Liz, my keidran friend, Shadow, a basitin named Asher, and my dragon, Zephyr.”
The crowd went silent for a moment before everyone burst with laughter. The Jarl wasn’t as amused though.
“Now boy, it’s rude to lie to your lord, you’re old enough to know that. Now, who are you actually here with?”
“He speaks the truth.” Gerrick confirmed, motioning for the rest of the family to step forward. Sure enough, Liz, Shadow, and Asher stepped toward the roaring fire in the middle of the hall while Liz flew down from the rafters and landed on Connor’s shoulder. The assembly gasped and gawked at this unlikely band of friends.
The Jarl was slack jawed for a moment before coming back to reality. “So, you are telling the truth. You have a basitin and a dragon with you?”
“Yes, my lord. Asher here, the basitin, I adopted him after the ship we were on sank in a storm. We’ve come up here so that he could be with other basitin. And Zephyr, well, she was an egg stored on that ship.”
Zephyr’s eyes glowed before jumping to the rim of the fire and bowing to the Jarl, instantly connecting everyone’s mind with her innate magic. “Yes, my lord, I am the last daughter of Nora.” The resemblance and visions were enough to convince everyone in the room. Some held their heads as the vision ended, not in pain, but because the unfamiliar intrusion.
“What? I-I didn’t know dragons could do that.”
“Apologies, my lord.” Connor said while shooting Zephyr a stern look. “She didn’t mean to cause discomfort, that’s just how dragons communicate… apparently.”
“I see. And this dragon, Zephyr, is yours? Like a pet?”
“No, my lord, of course not. She merely wanted to continue traveling with my party so that she could learn more about the world. Like Nora, she seems quite interested in humanity.”
“Well, anyways, on behalf of everyone here, welcome to Callow. We certainly are not strangers to oddities. If there is anything you need of me, you need only to ask.”
“Well, my lord, there is one thing.” Connor then motioned for his family to melt back into the crowd. “I am in need of employment, and as you can see, I have several mouths to feed. Captain Gerrick’s son, Sam, said that you could always use more people for the town guard.”
“Gerrick, can you confirm this?” the lawspeaker asked while looking at the captain of the guard.
“Yes, sir! My son tells me he’s a good lad. And just look at him, he’s young and strong, quite trainable, and he’s even brought his own sword.” Gerrick then pointed at the long scabbard hanging from Connor’s hip.
“May I see the blade, Connor?” The Jarl asked.
The teen did as he was instructed and removed the sword from its sheath before gently holding it out in front of him across both of his hands, then kneeling at the foot of the throne, sword held high above his head. The Jarl slowly got up from his seat and stepped down the stairs before gently taking up the sword in his own hands. The Jarl admired the blade in the dim light, running his fingers down it.
“This is a very fine blade, young man. How did you come across it?”
Connor looked up at his new lord, “It was my father’s, sir. He was a man-at-arms in his younger years.”
“Then perhaps service of this kind runs in the family. Go ahead Connor, bow your head down and don’t move.”
Connor felt the cold steel of the blade gently tap his head followed by his right and left shoulders. He then saw the lord’s hand extend down to his face.
“Kiss the ring, child, and you’ll declare your loyalty to me and this town.”
Connor gently grabbed the Jarl’s hand and kissed the ring.
“Rise up lad. What was your full name?”
“It’s Ulstad sir, Connor Ulstad.”
“Then by the powers invested in me as Jarl of Callow, I hereby make you, Connor Ulstad, a member of the town guard. Now, go back to your family and see Gerrick after the meeting.”
“Thank you, my lord, I won’t disappoint.”
“I have every confidence you’ll make a fine guardsman, now take your father’s blade and run along.”
The assembly then began to slam their fists on tables and clap. It was a basic ceremony, but it wasn’t common to have such a thing in the middle of a town meeting like this. Usually it was only with the lord, the captain of the guard, and a handful of others present. Once back with his family, Connor could barely stand. Just like that, he was hired as a guardsman.
The meeting was over soon after. First the Jarl stood up and exited, followed by his counsel. Next, the freemen and the elderly were allowed to exit, then everyone else. Walking out into the brisk night, Gerrick called Connor’s name. With a nod, Connor let Shadow escort Liz and Asher back to the tavern while Zephyr opted to stay perched on the teen’s shoulder.
“You made the right decision Connor. We’ll find permanent quarters for your kin, and you’ll get paid both with money and food.”
“Thank you, sir, I can’t begin to pay you back for this opportunity.”
“Do your best, boy, and you’ll pay me back a hundred times over. Now then, get a good night’s rest after your travels, and come by mid-morning tomorrow. We’ll start training you immediately and we’ll get you fitted with basic armor and weaponry.”
“Again, thank you sir. Would you mind of Zephyr joined?”
“Of course not. A dragon would be a great honorary addition to the guard. You should bring your sword too. I can tell you don’t have much experience with that one.”
“No sir, I don’t. In fact, most of my skill is in the bow, and even then, it’s just good enough to hunt.”
“Not to worry, lad, we’ll get you into fighting shape and give you some proper tools. Now go on and be with your family. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The sun rose early, far earlier than Connor would have liked. Still, he was up and out of the inn with Zephyr by his side, taking care to be quiet as a mouse so as to not wake up the others. Strolling down to the great hall. As per Sam’s instructions, Connor found the headquarters for the town guard and walked in to find that Gerrick was already going about his work for the day.
“Ah, Connor! You’re here early, I like the spirit lad! Now then, follow me and I’ll see to it that you have all the equipment you need, then you’ll start your training.”
Following Gerrick, Connor found himself in the armory. Boiled leather, wool, and chainmail. The bitter cold would make any plate armor a death sentence for the wearer. A belt and a seax were also provided. All the clothing gave the teen’s lean frame more weight, though there were certainly pockets of space where muscles would eventually fill in. The armorer offered Connor a sword, but he opted instead to keep his father’s blade.
Paperwork, and signing a new contract followed. Connor made sure to read every word to ensure that no one from his family would be taken to be worked in his place should he ever die. Afterward was another tour, but this time pointing out all the defensive structures, the locations of supply stashes in case of attacks, the station that Connor would man in case of a siege, and where everything was inside the guard buildings. Finally at the end of all the tedious work, Gerrick brought Connor up to the wall to shadow Sam.
“Connor, you remember Sam?”
“Of course sir!” The teen shot a hand to shake his new colleague.
“Glad to see you in uniform Connor! It suits you.”
“Well… I’ll get used to it I suppose. Not used to wearing armor much.”
Another guard cleared his throat, which made Sam realize he was forgetting someone.
“Oh yes, and this here is Smith. His family came here a few months ago and, like you, he chose to take the cloak.”
“Smith, eh? Where did you come from in Mekkan, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Riverton, sir.”
“No shit? I’m from Maine, myself. Just across the strait. And by the way, the name’s Connor, not sir.”
“Sure thing, I think we’ll get along just fine.”
“With pleasantries out of the way,” Sam said, “it’s time we start the route.”
“Don’t let me keep you boys.” Said Gerrick as he excused himself.
“Alright Sam, so what are we doing here?”
“Connor, what we are going to be doing is patrolling the walls. We’ll spend an hour on top of the wall, and hour outside the wall, and an hour inside. A total shift is twelve hours, and we do a full week in four days. Think you can handle it?”
“Well, my last job was 16 hours every day on the sea, so I’m just happy to be on solid ground this time.”
“Just wait until winter comes…” Smith said. Of course, he and Connor both knew that being near the coast afforded them a childhood of wet, but mild winters. Out here on the tundra it would be different. Their shift would continue for hours. Mostly, they sat in silence as befitting of guards tasked with keeping the town safe and peaceful. Of course, the occasional joke or short conversation would come up. Finally, as the sun was settling toward the western horizon, two guards came to relieve the trio.
“Alright gentlemen, back to the guard house.” Sam said to his two newer colleagues.
“Oh man, I can’t wait to get out of this armor.” Smith said with relief in his voice.
“You know Smith, you don’t have to wear every piece of armor you get issued. Connor over here is doing things right.”
“What do you mean?” Connor asked, mildly confused. After all, he had only worn what he was told to.
“The chainmail and wool makes for a far more comfortable shift than wearing thick plate armor. We typically just use that stuff when under attack.”
“Under attack? By whom?”
Sam explained, “The wolves, of course. In the early days, my dad said that the first settlers here would come under attack by the local snow wolves. It makes sense if you ask me, I’d be kind of pissed too if someone just decided to make my backyard their home.”
“Yeah, but we haven’t had problems lately.” Smith was quick to point out.
“True, but that was because Tostig’s father, the previous Jarl of Callow, brokered peace and made treaties. Just between us fellas, Tostig has been ignoring his father’s advice. The snow wolves are already mad about all the timber we’ve been harvesting and the new iron mines going up.”
“Really? I haven’t noticed a lot of tension.” Connor replied.
“I’m surprised, I would think you of all people would be able to feel the tension in the air.” Sam said.
“How so?”
“Well, you’re the only one of us who hangs out with a keidran. Heck, you seem to treat her like an equal. Most of the keidran in Callow are either laborers or slaves, only the snow wolves are free. They aren’t stupid you know, those wolves know that if humans gain too much of a foothold, it will be game over for them too.”
“I see. I guess that explains why so many of the town-folk were looking at Shadow when we rode in. She is a free keidran. I’m not her master, nor her employer. I’ll have to start paying more attention.”
“Best not let that fall on the wrong ears, Connor. There are some slavers out here too.”
“Smith is right, though I’m sure Shadow will be fine as long as she stays with your kin. The slavers are going after stray wolves mostly. That said, it’s especially important to pay attention to the snow wolves that come here to trade. While Tostig hasn’t told the guard to spy on visitors, we’re the eyes and ears of the town. If there is something brewing, we need to know about it.”
“Noted. Well, looks like we’re back at HQ.”
“Finally! I’m ready for a good ale after hiking around in all this armor.”
“Then let’s head in guys.” Sam led the way, motioning for Smith and Connor to follow. Gerrick was inside and ending his shift as well when his son and two recruits came inside.
“Ah, right on time lads! Connor, how was your first shift?”
“Uneventful sir, but I’m grateful to be stationed with a couple of decent guys.”
“Very good. You and Smith will be doing weapons training tomorrow before joining Sam, so I hope you two rest up tonight.”
“Yes sir!” Both teens replied.
“Oh, and Smith, why are you wearing so much armor?”
“I was, uh… I guess I just overdressed.”
“Well, I appreciate the enthusiasm, but you’re going to give yourself a heart attack if you try to lug all that around when winter comes. Just use mail and padding like the rest of us, okay?”
“Yes, sir…” Smith said before the trio walked passed Gerrick and headed to the armory to turn in their gear for the night. Truth be told, Connor was exhausted. Sure, he had rode and walked all the way across the continent with family in tow, but he didn’t have to wear sixty pounds of gear. Once out of his armor, Connor bid farewell to his two colleagues and made his way back to Anna Marie’s.
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2023.03.23 03:50 Arthurwritethiss Can Anyone ID these? Dog Pic Last slide :)

Can Anyone ID these? Dog Pic Last slide :)
I found these mushies on a dead palm tree. Located on the south coast of NSW Australia.
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2023.03.23 03:08 damonator5000 Weekly Rivian Responds: First Roundup of Spring

Welcome back to another week of Rivian Responds (and our regular Roundup, of course)! As spring is officially here, we're starting to see Rivians out enjoying the warmth and sunshine, in addition to the snow that's still lingering for some of us.
Rivian Responds To get your questions answered, comment below within 48hrs of this post going up.
Please remember that Rivian is a publicly traded company, so you may not get the detail you want about upcoming product, feature, or software timelines. Of course always ask what's most important, but for more detailed answers, try to ask questions about vehicle capability, choices already made (eg, design), or about the company in general.
And here's this week's questions and answers:
Rivian Roundup
Have a great week, everyone, and be sure to get your questions for Rivian into the comments below.
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2023.03.22 21:47 Lord_of_Thus The Nature of Minecrafters - Chapter 4

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Memory Transcription Subject: Shasha, arxur student at the AIS
Date [Standardized human time]: June 24, 2161
The first thing to greet me on the AIS Minecraft Server was a menu. My avatar was a blocky arxur with a pixelated texture generated from my student ID photograph. Luckily I was able to fix up that texture a bit but I still downloaded it to give it a better workover later.
I spawned into the world. Apparently I was on some kind of balcony overlooking a quite large town. It had no cohesive style whatsoever. One building could have come from an arxur history book, the next wouldn't be amiss today on a former federal world and the one beside that was basically a mashup of a Gojid fortification and at least three different human religious buildings.
The streets were busy but not overcrowded and while most traveled on foot some had mounts, based on earth animals. The skies were similarly but less busy, with flying species and the occasional flying mount. And… was that guy rowing a golden boat through the air?
I looked around the room and saw the glances of amazement in my dormmates eyes. In-game the square sun started to set. The others had gathered around me and we're staring at the town as well.
"All right, have you looked enough? We still have some paperwork to file."
With that said I turned around and looked at the building. It was like a massive fantasy castle but with a kind of cyberpunk aesthetic. All over the towers were lights in any and all colors. On a screen that actually gave off light it looked even more amazing than the comics I had read back home.
Following a wide staircase down I reached the immigrations hall. Large screens informed me of where to go to receive full player status. The paperwork included a few questions on general server rules, Netiquette and some personal questions. After a couple of minutes I was trough and left on the other side.
Bill and Bob, who must have entered immigrations after me, were already out waiting in front of a fountain. I sat down beside them and we waited for the others who exited shortly after me. This side of the spawn building looked more like a massive park, with fountains and statues and some trees. Once we all had gathered we made our way over to the guild registry.
The building itself looked like a wealthy artisans house straight out of a fantasy rpg’s illustration. The humans did the actual work here, the others and I just endorsed the funding of our guild called ‘The Thrilling Three’. Of course we were six not three but we hadn’t thought about it and now had to come up with a name on the spot.
Leaving the guild registry we headed over the town arsenal, a relatively unassuming building of muted pastel yellow sandstone. Inside we received some initial gear: tools, mostly of wood, but a single pickaxe of stone, wooden swords, bows and some arrows as well as armor of leather and cotton. Additionally each of us received a full stack of bread each. With this equipment we set off towards the spawn town’s nether portal.
This part of town was much busier than the previous parts. Dozens of people came out of the portal station and just as much got in. The portal itself was inside an underground station, accessible by two stairwells, one for people going to the portal the other for those coming from it. The actual portal chamber was large and except for the floor dimly lit. Our group approached the purple swirls. People before us vanished while others appeared. Our turn.
The purple engulfed me. Aaaaaand… Loading screen!
Moments later we were down in the nether. The portal chamber looked pretty much like the one in the overworld, except the brickwork was red instead of gray. And just like there we were out with the masses within moments. The stairs down were shorter this time and ended in an area overlooking multiple platforms for trains going in all directions. Bob and Bill told us to wait before going down to one of the platforms.
“Any Idea what Bill and Bob are up to?”
“Well” Sorkol said “They mentioned something about knowing server staff…”
“We are” “still in the” “same room” “as y’all,” “you know?” they reminded us “And yes” “we’re talking” “to a friend” “to get us a nice” ”piece of land.”
“May I please have some more garlic bread?” Liria asked.
“Sure” “anyone else?” Bill and Bob responded. And this time I tried some too. Delicious. Now I need to find someone nice to figure out whether it’s truly better than sex. But at least in theory they’re humans and no known species has a libido as strong as them.
A minute or so later they reemerged and beckoned us to follow to the southwards express platform. A train designated 'special service' entered shortly after us. Bill and Bob gave each of us a ticket and we boarded that train.
It started slowly, taking a quite confusing way through turns, climbs and points. Then we reached a straight line of two parallel rails stretching into the distance and the train started accelerating.
The rather boring dark red of the tunnel was soon replaced by a glass corridor allowing a full view of the nether caverns. Below lay an ocean of lava above floated massive ghasts. The ocean flew by in a matter of moments. Between a coast of black rock with a massive lava river and a turquoise forest lay a little village of weird people Bob and Bill called piglins.
But it all flew by in moments. Different forest, lava ocean, tunnel through a red wall of rock. All interspersed with piglins, skeletons, ghasts and magma cubes as well as the occasional station for the slow rails meandering below us. It began to drag on. Another twenty or so minutes later the train started to slow down again.
Another minute or two later we arrived at the half finished station. Instead of intricate lanterns this was lit by torches and candles. Half the walls were missing and exposed various conduits, tubes and pipes. The portal back to the overworld just regular size in a room clearly meant to upsize later. It wasn’t even connected to the central area by stairs but a simple ladder. But this time I was able to see what was up in the upper levels of the chamber: several platforms, some with oversized crossbows mounted to them. A defensive installment.
Another purple journey into a loading screen later, we reappeared in the overworld. The station was just a hole in the ground with a ladder leading out. Nothing more. Up on the surface however there was a small outpost surrounded by a fence. A forge, a storehouse and some houses as well as an empty lot designated ‘tavern’.
Bill and Bob seemed to have an idea of where to head from here so we all just followed. Any question about our destination was just met with “You’ll see” from one, both or the other. And after about one ingame day we saw. Right at the coast of an ocean stood a single, almost needle shaped mountain.
“Our idea was” “hollowing the whole thing out” “add a lake to the top” “with a glass bottom” “and then just build rooms into the side!” the human twins explained.
“And maybe a harbor on the ground…” Sorkol mused.
“And a lighthouse on top” Liria finished.
I looked over at Kalsa. “Sounds good to me, how about you?”
“Sure, as long as I get some balconies to fly off,” she answered.
And so we had found our home in the marvelous world of Minecraft.

[last] [first] [next]
submitted by Lord_of_Thus to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 21:08 ExtraInfluence9597 I think he is going for the NIMBY of the Year Award

I think he is going for the NIMBY of the Year Award
Does anyone have a good understanding of this Housing Compact and the actual effect it would have Metro-North towns?
Also page 2 of his letter says the sentence "get used to bodegas in your former single family neighborhood." Considering I'm in 15 minutes walk to any bodega that sounds fantastic to me.
submitted by ExtraInfluence9597 to Westchester [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 20:44 frieden7 My teeth hurt so bad that I feel like death is the only way I will get relief. r/confessions 2014

I am NOT OP. Original post by u/Tomato_Juice99 in confession
DO NOT contact any of the people involved in this. It's against the rules here. I talked with OOP in advance, and he's fine with this post.
Random fact for spoiler space: A rainforest is an area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall. Rainforests are Earth’s oldest living ecosystems, with some surviving in their present form for at least 70 million years.
trigger warnings: possible eating disorder, mention of vomiting, wanting to die
mood spoilers: Positive
Here's a puppy picture for the preview, since some people are sensitive to teeth pics: - photo - a golden retriever puppy stands on green grass and stares straight into the camera.

My teeth hurt so bad that I feel like death is the only way I will get relief. - December 30th 2014
My life has been going well for the most part lately and I feel horrible for even thinking of wanting to die to escape the pain. I have 2 kids that need me and a family that loves me, but love doesn't buy new teeth.
I did it to myself back in highschool by throwing up after each meal. I don't smile often and when I actually do I have to cover my mouth because I don't want others to be grossed out by my teeth. Most of the time I just grin to the right side. My kids don't like me going to their school, meeting their friends and teachers because they are embarrassed of my mouth. I try not to show it, but that hurts more than the physical pain I endure from the infection that is spreading.
Anyways, thanks for taking time to read this and I hope that you (the reader) live in a country that would help with dental problems.
Photos of OOPs teeth
It is pretty disgusting) - an xray of cracked and crowded teeth
Here is a regular pic of my teeth as of tonight. It's nasty so look at your own risk) - description from OP: a close up of OOP's mouth. His lips are curled back to reveal his broken teeth, some of which are blackened from cavities.
The user SushiAndWoW replied below:
If this is true, I will pay for your treatment. Either at a place near you, or if it's more cost-effective, I will buy you a ticket to Costa Rica, and for you to get treatment at a reputable clinic here.
You can check my history to see that this is a legitimate account that's not into trolling. I can't help everyone in the world, but I can help you. Your situation hits a nerve with me.
Maybe you can make it up to me by posting before and after pictures, or something. That would be nice to see.
PM me.
Update (2 hours): I'm happy to report that OP contacted me and sent pictures. He does have a problem that needs help. His kids are super cute, they look amazing. I proposed the next steps, which will take some time. This is the first time for me doing this, but I hope things go well, and we will do this. :-) Exchange so far.
Between the dashes is the transcription of the text from the photo of the DMs between OOP and SushiandWoW:
Tomato_Juice99 (OOP):
I have never asked anyone for aid before and tonight when I posted I was just venting and hoped that others would be grateful for the help they have to them. When I was first reading your post I thought it was fake. But when I realised that you were being serious I started to cry.
I have included pictures of the X-rays that were taken a few months ago when I got a free exam and pictures of my teeth tonight.
Even if you decide to change your mind for any reason it's fine, just knowing there are people out there that are willing to help a stranger is awesome.
Feel free to ask any questions.
Few things about me real quick: My name is [redacted]
father of [redacted], non-smoker and drug free (was just drug tested at work right before the holidays). I live in [redacted].
SushiandWow replied:
I am happy to hear from you. :-) I received the pictures. If I understand correctly, that's a picture of your [redacted]? They look amazing. :-). I am indeed serious, and my offer stands. I would like to help you with this. All I ask is, because I am not in the US, that you be willing to do the leg work.
I understand that you've already been to a clinic, and they gave you an informal estimate. Well, I would now need you to possibly visit a clinic again, and procure something more formal. Optimally - if you are able to arrange this - I would like to see something like this:
"The situation right now is such and such" - the doctor who has looked at your situation describes your current condition.
• The most effective treatment for this is such and such - the doctor describes what they plan to do.
• The cost of this treatment will be such and such - the doctor commits to a price which they plan to honor.
• The doctor's payment plan and instructions (e.g. if they want all upfront, or deposit first and balance after; wiring info).
This information should be on the clinic's letterhead, and signed by someone with authority (e.g. doctor or clinic administrator). The clinic needs to be something I can look up and verify it exists. The wiring info needs to sensibly correspond to publicly available information.
Can you procure this? For your peace of mind, I am [redacted]. You can confirm my existence at my personal page, my blog, and this is my company's website. [links removed]

Tomato_Juice99 replied:
Sorry, not sure how to send the pics. Thought I linked it.
--------------- end of transcription

User danhook replied to SushiandWoW's post:
Dentist here. If we can get him to my office I'll donate my services. I practice in west palm beach and Jacksonville, FL.
Edit 1: Wow!!! Thank you for the gold!!!! I am honored to be involved in helping! I am currently speaking with some suppliers and OP to set everything up. Cheers to a great 2015 for OP!!! Happy New Year!!!

SushiandWoW made another edit to their post:
Update (next day): So many other people have pitched in to help - most significantly danhook**'s** amazing offer. OP set up a fundraiser to help with expenses; it has already attracted some contributions, and I also added to it.
Several people contacted me, and told me of their situations similar to OP's. Each of them deserves just as much attention, but not all of them can get it. Thanks to danhook's generosity, perhaps I can help someone else, too.
Thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and wishes. May the New Year find you well. :-)
SushiandWoW also edited in links to a charity (website no longer works) and some DMs they'd received from people who had experience with dental tourism, positive and negative.

A different user shared this warning to OOP:
This is something you need to take seriously. Oral infections tend to spread to the heart. One of my father's friends died from this. I'm glad these people are willing to help you and I hope they're legit!
OOP replied:
The people that did the x-ray told me that the infection, if left untreated, would kill me. I had no idea how long it was going to take so that very day I started to get everything prepared for the big day. It looks like with the help of so many kind strangers I can put that day off.
[Update]My teeth hurt so bad that I feel like death is the only way I will get relief. - February 7th 2015

Hello everyone, I know a lot of people requested pics of once I got my teeth done and I have photos here - description from OP: a photo of OOP. He has glasses, close cropped hair, and an open mouthed smile, showing two rows of even white teeth. and here. Description from OP: OOP smiling again to show off new teeth. In this photo, he wears a hat.
So before the turn of the year I made a confession about my oral pain caused by my teeth. I didn't think I would receive much attention if any at all. Well, I was surprised after so many people shared their stories and offered to help. I got a lot in donations and had a couple of offers to do the procedure for free. The story blew up after the offers (most notably sushiandwow and danhook) and picked up by many websites. I am nothing but grateful to each and every person that made this all possible.
After checking to make sure danhook is who he said he was I took him up on his offer to go see him and let him help me. On Feb 1st (Super Bowl Sunday) I went down to Florida to get a hotel room before I met him on Monday. He is cool as sh*+. Totally chill guy that knows what he's talking about and very professional. Anyways, we discussed about what he was going to do and about the timeline for everything since I was only down there until Friday. Wednesday he took out all my top teeth and I got a denture for it. He told me that he wants to save the bottom teeth and after discussing it with another Doctor there they decided it was best. Which I am excited about because a bottom denture would suck.
So as of right now I have a denture on top and nothing was done on my bottom. Sometime in Mid-May to early June I will be going back down to get my permanent top denture, maybe some implants, and get all my bottom teeth fixed. I learned a lot while down there about how to take care and restore my gums and what I need to do so all of this isn't for nothing.
I had an amazing time from the time I left until the time I was home. I did so many new things and it was all thanks to the reddit community. Without you guys, gals and others I would still be in pain.
If anyone has any questions I will try to answer them and I'm sure the dentist danhook will chime in a time or two.
Edit 2/22/2015: Got my kids for the first time since the operation and they love the new teeth. Everybody at work seems to like them as well. I still get people that are jealous, but that's natural. I've been preaching to my kids about the importance of oral care and to not end up like me. Their mom and I don't have good genes when it comes to teeth, so they need to brush, floss and use mouthwash when after breakfast and before going to sleep.

A few recent comments from the original post:
19 days ago someone said
Hey how r ur teeth now 8 years later
Only have my bottom teeth, but they are great. Thank you for asking.

Seven days ago someone who misunderstood OOP's comment replied:
why?? somebody paid THOUSANDS did you neglect them AGAIN??? SMH
The original dentist in Florida took out the top ones and fixed up the bottom ones. I have been taking care of them ever since.

Reminder - I am not the original poster, and don't DM or chat any of the original posters.
submitted by frieden7 to BestofRedditorUpdates [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 19:18 AmokinKS Wichita ranked #1 as worst place for Pollen Allergies in 2023

Wichita ranked #1 as worst place for Pollen Allergies in 2023 submitted by AmokinKS to wichita [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 12:55 Weekly-Factor-5432 Best Hot Water Units in Palm Beach

If you are looking for the Best Hot Water Units in Palm Beach, then contact JG Plumbing Co. They are a high-quality, reliable plumbing company, servicing the Gold Coast and Northern NSW. JG Plumbing Co.
submitted by Weekly-Factor-5432 to u/Weekly-Factor-5432 [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 09:17 PayasoPikorete Payaso Pikorete Celebrando el Cumpleaños de Anthony en Palm Bay Fl

Payaso Pikorete Celebrando el Cumpleaños de Anthony en Palm Bay Fl
El Payaso Pikorete se fue para Palm Bay Florida a celebrar el primer cumpleaños de nuestro panita Anthony.
Queremos agradecerle a mamá Yuderky por habernos invitado a ser parte de esta fiesta de cumpleaños para niños.
Aunque habían más adultos que niños, comoquiera nuestra participación fue un éxito total gracias a la participación de todos los que estaban presentes.
Papá se lució regalando billetes de a cien dólares a todo el que estaba allí, pero mirando bien esos billetes, tenían unas letras chinas rositas que se veían medias raras, jejejeje.
Uno de los padrinos se metió a participar en el mini talent show de Pikorete y aunque terminó asfixiado por lo tanto que bailó y brincó, le quedó de show el vacilón.
Ese mismo padrino nos dijo que aquí estamos con el Payaso Pikoreta (Me cambió el nombre 😳), el máximo, un veinte diez, he tenido el gusto de compartir con él, excelente, hace los juegos con participación, lo recomiendo a todo el mundo.
Tuvimos que hacer una segunda toma porque el vídeo por alguna razón no grabó en el primer intento, primera vez que me pasa eso, pero pudimos obtener el testimonio para que usted escuche de la boca de nuestros clientes cómo terminan luego de presenciar el espectáculo de Pikorete.
Si estas buscando un payaso que le lleve alegría y que haga que sus invitados la pasen bien en su fiesta o evento especial, comunícate hoy mismo al 321-222-7764. También puedes enviarnos mensajes por cualquiera de nuestras redes sociales.

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Testimonio Review del Payaso en Palm Bay en el Cumpleaños de Anthony
Payaso en Palm Bay Vacilando Con Los Adultos

Payaso en Palm Bay Vacilando Con Los Niños
Palm Bay, Florida
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submitted by PayasoPikorete to u/PayasoPikorete [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 06:19 kokasexton Double whammy. Prepare for the cartoonishly full BART cars from SF trains just like last Tuesday evening. The only easy way across the bay left.

Double whammy. Prepare for the cartoonishly full BART cars from SF trains just like last Tuesday evening. The only easy way across the bay left. submitted by kokasexton to kokasexton [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 04:51 ComradeFrunze [EVENT] Alan in the Cane

Alan sat underneath a tree, watching as the Atlantic waves splash and thrash on the beach. The air was thick with moisture; it felt warm on his face, but he had no need of the breeze for relief from the heat. His face burned and was red from the blazing Sun. He was sitting on the ground, his back against the trunk of an ancient palm tree. It was hard but dry, and it offered him some protection from the relentless rays. The sea water glistened like black glass.
There was not much time to rest, as the Spanish overseers were sure to come searching for him soon, but he just needed to sit awhile and gather himself. He would soon have to return to work, in the fields of sugarcane. The sun was very powerful today, perhaps more so than ever before. Brittany certainly never got this kind of sun.
He looked out onto the ocean, listening in closely and waiting for it to speak.
"Come out to me," a voice boomed in his head.
"Why?" Alan asked.
The voice laughed and repeated the same words: "Come out to me."
Alan lifted himself up from the palm and hobbled along onto the beach, towards that black glass sea.
"Do you want me to take my clothes off?" he asked.
The wind picked up, making his long red hair fly about wildly. Alan took it as a sign from the sea that it would have been wiser if he had stripped himself down to his skin. So he did. He began removing his clothing. First his shirt. Next his waistcoat, his breeches, then his boots. Then his socks. And finally, he peeled his tunic off from his body.
The ocean gusted. Alan thought it must have blown up a sudden swell and was making the most of the occasion by trying to break him. He caught hold of the hem of his tunic and pulled, lifting it high over his head and letting it drop into the water. The sea swallowed up the fabric with ease and he stood there naked as the day he was born. Alan held his arms out to catch the gentle breeze that was starting to blow, his nakedness in the breeze cooling him off immensely.
He felt the wind and stared off into the sea as he reminisced on his youth. For indeed he was baptized many moons ago now, and his childhood was becoming more of a distant memory. Alan was once a simple young lad, a fisher boy. Living with his parents in a small hut on the Breton coast. He was simply Alan then, not ar Morlaer or the Scourge of Biscay or El Azote or the Vicomte de Poudouvre… Alan's father Kaourantin was a fisherman just like himself, he preferred to cast his nets from the rocky shore and catch all manner of fish in the tidal pools. Alan would go out with his father, learning to fish and learning to sail. It was on his father's boat that Alan had first heard the ocean call out to him.
"Hear me, boy," the sea had said to him. The young Alan listened intently. "Hear my voice and heed it well, for I give you sound advice."
Alan had heard the voices and told his father, his father reassuring him that this was a gift from God. For the sea was run by one of God's angels, and this angel had decided to speak to Alan. As the boy grew, he developed a closer connection to the sea. He spent almost every day on the coast or on a fishing boat, waiting for the sea to speak to him. His family worried about him, for he would spend hours sitting at the end of the pier, just looking out across the water and listening to the seabirds cry to their mates. Sometimes they were concerned that perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him, but were quite sure it was indeed the ocean's angel speaking.
Alan's thinking was cut off by the sound of an angry Castilian, barking at him in his strange tongue. The man had obviously found him. The Spaniard commanded. He did not understand the man's words, but he understood their tone and their intent. And he could tell from the look in the man's eyes that he was clearly unhappy. The Spaniard picked up some of Alan's clothes that were strewn across the sand and pointed at them, clearly ordering Alan to dress himself. Alan had nothing to hide, so he stood up, gathered his clothes, and put them back on. He followed the Spaniard off the beach. The man took him to the edge of the settlement, where the slaves were working in the cane fields.
There was quite a large group of slaves there, and they all turned to stare at Alan. The Spaniard ordered him back to work, handing him a cane knife. The other slaves were mainly Moors and Pagans. They worked in the fields, cutting stalks of sugarcane. It was hard to communicate, as Alan did not share a language with any of the slaves. Alan could understand bits of Castilian solely from his knowledge of French, but certainly not enough. He made do by picking up various gestures and motions. Alan was able to make an acquaintance with a Spanish Moor, a man similarly red with burns as Alan is. The Moor had given his name as Zacarías Davídez. The two had become fairly close since Alan had arrived. While they first communicated with a simplified form of Castilian, to ensure their overseers could not understand, the two had begun teaching each other. Zacarías had taught Alan some of his native Arab tongue, while Alan taught Zacarías some of his Breton. Soon enough they were communicating rather comfortably in a strange mish-mash of Arabic, Breton, and Castilian.
Zacarías noticed Alan returning with the overseer from his rest near the beach and went over to speak to him. Alan heard Zacarías say something under his breath and then heard the man's rough Arabic curse. Zacarías turned to Alan. "The overseer is very displeased with you. I'm sure that's clear to you."
Alan nodded his understanding and returned to working in the fields. The day was hot and humid, as it often was in the Caribbean in the height of the summer. He would sweat profusely, his red hair clumped tightly to his head with wetness. It was a miserable way to spend a day. The sun beat down relentlessly, while the humidity hung in the air like a blanket. The slaves worked tirelessly, their backs bent and arms pulled taut in the effort. Zacarías helped Alan with his work. He had to show him what to cut, how to chop the cane properly and be easy to haul behind. The sun began to set, and the slaves stopped work to return to the huts for rest. In the darkness, the slaves would sit in groups and talk in whispers. Alan joined in and listened as the other slaves spoke of the land and sea spirits. They described to him their gods, the gods that were not Christian. Zacarías leaned over to Alan, whispering to him in the two friends' own language.
"There are many pagans here, they do not know of God and reject Him. They worship their idols blatantly. They will be punished for this in the hereafter."
Alan nodded quietly, understanding the importance of what Zacarías said. Indeed, it was good to have a friend who understood the importance of God, even though he may be a Moor.

It was not long before Zacarías introduced Alan to his friends. His friends were also Moors, and Alan was able to speak to them with his bits of Arabic and Castilian. As time went by, the men became his closest companions in the plantation, his only true brothers. Zacarías explained that he and his friends were rebels once, years ago. They had fought against the Spaniards to save their homes and families, but were captured and eventually sold off to slavery here in these islands of the New World.
Alan explained how he ended up here as a slave, and the Moors found it quite amusing that Alan was actually a nobleman, a man with estates and wealth!
"We are both here because we hate the Spaniards." Alan told Zacarías.
The Moor smiled. "Yes, we are. It is always good to find a brother who will understand."
They laughed together. This is when Alan learned about what Zacarías called "Islam", the religion of the Moors. Zacarías and his fellow Moors began to tell Alan of the Prophet Muhammad and of the Quran. Alan began to be fascinated by the stories of the Prophet Mohammed and the tales of battles waged against his enemies, eventually ending in victory.
Eventually, Zacarías told Alan that if he ever decided to convert, he should come to him for help, as Zacarías was a well-read scholar before his capture and life of slavery. Alan continued to listen to his new Moorish friends, learning the traditions and teachings of their faith.
Weeks later, Alan decided to convert in secret, afraid the Spanish overseers would discover it and beat him or kill him. In the darkness of night, he, Zacarías, and many other Moorish slaves had gathered to pray together, to honor their God.
They made their prayers silently. Then they would pray together and wait until the coast was clear to move back to the huts. Alan watched on, waiting for them to finish. When the Moors were done praying, Alan was approached by Zacarías.
"Are you ready?" Zacarías asked him.
Alan blinked, then nodded.
"Raise your finger and repeat after me. La ilalaha illallah Muhammadur rasulullah.''
Alan repeated the words that came out of the old Moor's mouth.
"La ilalaha illallah Muhammadur rasulullah." He said it aloud.
After a moment of silence, his companions nodded to him as well. Alan felt an immense relief. He had converted to Islam without the Spanish overseers knowing it. Zacarías grasped Alan's shoulders and smiled.
"Welcome to the fold of our religion, brother."
Alan bowed his head low, his face flushed with joy and gratitude for having been given a chance at redemption. All his sins were forgiven for becoming a devout follower of God, and his new friends would certainly give him much comfort and protection. Perhaps they would be able to fight the Spaniards together one day. They returned to the slave huts in the cover of darkness and fell asleep with smiles on their faces. Alan would hear the sea groan and moan, before speaking to him once again with words the Sea had told him before. These would bring him a sense of hope.
"West, my love, west. This is your destiny."
submitted by ComradeFrunze to empirepowers [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 04:11 User_3971 PSE/RCA/CCA/MHA: Skip the line! Career jobs posted within. 3-21 rollup.

CAREER EMPLOYEES! Tired of seeing all these jobs go to the street? Your chance to join the gravy train ranks is here! Apply yourself, you can do it! MSS Coordinator varies by District. Find an APWU steward and ask for more information if the Exam Open Season blurb is not posted at your facility.

Good afternoon. Brief listing of CAREER JOBS pulled from for your convenience.
Some jobs may be part-time regular however all listed jobs should qualify for federal benefits from day one. To save text I have only listed the location and date of posting for each. Use the posting number for your search term. LC and MM are entry-level Maintenance. Here is a testimonial from a recent convert, prima1981.
NOTE: USPS NEVER charges a fee for entrance exams. If payment is requested during the application process, walk the fuck away, go to and APPLY THERE. We even has a video walkthrough prepared.

Laborer Custodial:
MELVILLE NY NC11291730 03/20/2023
CLAREMORE OK NC11291776 03/17/2023
SAN FRANCISCO CA NC11272282 03/16/2023
REDMOND WA NC11290022 03/15/2023
SAN JOSE CA NC11277594 03/13/2023
SAN RAFAEL CA NC11285765 03/13/2023
FAIRFIELD IA NC11296093 03/20/2023
SAN FRANCISCO CA NC11285816 03/20/2023
BROOKLYN NY NC11292944 03/20/2023
LEESBURG VA NC11294817 03/19/2023
TRAVERSE CITY MI NC11293101 03/18/2023
MAMMOTH LAKES CA NC11290446 03/18/2023
MONROE TOWNSHIP NJ NC11293078 03/17/2023
MUSCATINE IA NC11292212 03/17/2023
MOUNT VERNON NY NC11291637 03/17/2023
NEWTON CENTER MA NC11291721 03/17/2023
SANDSTON VA NC11291556 03/16/2023
ROANOKE VA NC11290490 03/16/2023
ARLINGTON VA NC11290479 03/16/2023
MC LEAN VA NC11290442 03/16/2023
HARRISBURG NC NC11290191 03/16/2023
MENLO PARK CA NC11271997 03/13/2023
PETALUMA CA NC11271924 03/11/2023
PALATINE IL NC11280862 03/08/2023

Maintenance Mechanic:
SEATTLE WA NC11286273 03/11/2023
SAN JOSE CA NC11289187 03/21/2023
RALEIGH NC NC11293249 03/18/2023
PHOENIX AZ NC11294808 03/20/2023
MERRIFIELD VA NC11294815 03/19/2023
LOUISVILLE KY NC11288732 03/20/2023
GREENSBORO NC NC11293304 03/18/2023
GARDEN CITY NY NC11293312 03/18/2023
CAPITOL HEIGHTS MD NC11284476 03/11/2023
BROCKTON MA NC11288736 03/15/2023
BOSTON MA NC11291646 03/17/2023
ALBUQUERQUE NM NC11291724 03/17/2023
MILAN IL NC11282668 03/09/2023
MEMPHIS TN NC11293083 03/18/2023
LOUISVILLE KY NC11288711 03/20/2023
CHICAGO IL NC11292143 03/17/2023
AUGUSTA GA NC11292936 03/17/2023
ATLANTA GA NC11281021 03/08/2023
ATLANTA GA NC11281019 03/08/2023
PETALUMA CA NC11289177 03/21/2023
LOUISVILLE KY NC11288728 03/20/2023
GREENSBORO NC NC11294638 03/19/2023
GREEN BAY WI NC11293192 03/18/2023
DULUTH GA NC11281020 03/08/2023
CAROL STREAM IL NC11292109 03/17/2023
CAPITOL HEIGHTS MD NC11287388 03/12/2023
SANDSTON VA NC11290579 03/16/2023
PETALUMA CA NC11271987 03/11/2023
OMAHA NE NC11293020 03/18/2023
MELVILLE NY NC11288811 03/20/2023
MACON GA NC11292871 03/17/2023
KEARNY NJ NC11288707 03/17/2023
JERSEY CITY NJ NC11288716 03/18/2023
JAMAICA NY NC11288928 03/20/2023
GREENSBORO NC NC11289212 03/15/2023
BELL GARDENS CA NC11287325 03/21/2023
FARMINGTON NM NC11294794 03/20/2023

Special! Interesting Maintenance Jobs: (may be skills required)

Maintenance Mechanic MPE:
MELVILLE NY NC11288836 03/20/2023
DULLES VA NC11294816 03/19/2023
REDMOND WA NC11288605 03/12/2023
PETALUMA CA NC11288705 03/13/2023
INDIANAPOLIS IN NC11284259 03/09/2023
INDIANAPOLIS IN NC11284258 03/09/2023
GRAND RAPIDS MI NC11290165 03/16/2023
PETALUMA CA NC11289175 03/21/2023
WASHINGTON DC NC11285943 03/11/2023
MEMPHIS TN NC11293003 03/18/2023
LOUISVILLE KY NC11288712 03/20/2023
INDIANAPOLIS IN NC11284231 03/09/2023
INDIANAPOLIS IN NC11284228 03/09/2023
HARRISBURG PA NC11288609 03/13/2023
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION VT NC11291734 03/17/2023

Building Equipment Mechanic:
HEIGHTS MD NC11290064 03/16/2023
PROVIDENCE RI NC11285939 03/11/2023
SPRINGFIELD MA NC11287631 03/12/2023
SEATTLE WA NC11294603 03/18/2023

Garage Assistant:
MCALLEN TX NC11291630 03/16/2023

Electronic Technician:
CHICAGO IL NC11292188 03/17/2023
MEMPHIS TN NC11293110 03/18/2023
MILAN IL NC11282633 03/09/2023
CAPITOL HEIGHTS MD NC11294867 03/19/2023
MANKATO MN NC11288581 03/13/2023
MANKATO MN NC11288608 03/13/2023
RALEIGH NC NC11293202 03/18/2023
RAPID CITY SD NC11293181 03/18/2023
ROCKY MOUNT NC NC11294669 03/19/2023
BROCKTON MA NC11288735 03/15/2023
LUBBOCK TX NC11294802 03/19/2023

NON-Maintenance jerbs:

IDAHO SPRINGS CO NC11290443 03/16/2023
MOSS LANDING CA NC11289973 03/15/2023
GLASGOW MT NC11296091 03/21/2023
MACCLENNY FL NC11293116 03/18/2023
TIMBER LAKE SD NC11292942 03/17/2023
MOSS BEACH CA NC11295113 03/19/2023
MAPLE FALLS WA NC11296082 03/19/2023
LAKE CITY CO NC11290061 03/15/2023
EASTSOUND WA NC11295971 03/20/2023
CULLEOKA TN NC11294523 03/18/2023
WORDEN IL NC11292989 03/17/2023
PIEDMONT SD NC11287291 03/11/2023
GYPSUM CO NC11290318 03/16/2023
BASSETT NE NC11294668 03/18/2023
SPRINGDALE WA NC11296087 03/20/2023
SURING WI NC11280556 03/06/2023
CEDAR MI NC11284195 03/09/2023
BIG SUR CA NC11296150 03/21/2023
ASPEN CO NC11290054 03/15/2023
ANZA CA NC11291564 03/16/2023
VAN HORN TX NC11284178 03/09/2023
OAK GROVE MO NC11292947 03/17/2023
SLOUGHHOUSE CA NC11296098 03/20/2023
KINGS BEACH CA NC11296096 03/20/2023
EL GRANADA CA NC11295117 03/19/2023
SEAFORD VA NC11288801 03/15/2023
ROY WA NC11296081 03/20/2023
QUILCENE WA NC11296078 03/20/2023
OLIVET MI NC11291746 03/17/2023
DEXTER OR NC11296094 03/21/2023
CLARKSTON WA NC11295974 03/20/2023
CLANTON AL NC11294399 03/18/2023
BREMEN OH NC11293002 03/18/2023
BETHPAGE TN NC11294606 03/18/2023
CRESTED BUTTE CO NC11288703 03/13/2023
CAVE JUNCTION OR NC11296085 03/21/2023
JACKSON WY NC11285851 03/17/2023
BELTON SC NC11291709 03/17/2023
HICO TX NC11293402 03/18/2023
WAIMANALO HI NC11294630 03/18/2023
STURTEVANT WI NC11291641 03/17/2023
SOMERVILLE AL NC11294490 03/18/2023
ROSS CA NC11295061 03/19/2023
NORTH LIBERTY IN NC11294813 03/19/2023
MONTROSE CA NC11294635 03/18/2023
FELTON CA NC11289302 03/15/2023
CENTURY FL NC11294548 03/21/2023
GORDON NE NC11294636 03/18/2023
MAMMOTH LAKES CA NC11294924 03/21/2023
BIG BEAR CITY CA NC11291563 03/16/2023
BLOOMING PRAIRIE MN NC11296095 03/20/2023

City Carrier:
SAN MATEO CA NC11290796 03/16/2023
MOUNTAIN VIEW CA NC11291999 03/17/2023
MOORHEAD MN NC11292895 03/17/2023
BUFFALO GROVE IL NC11294447 03/20/2023
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND WA NC11290758 03/19/2023
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS IL NC11294487 03/18/2023
NORTH SHORE - BOSTON MA NC11290276 03/19/2023
VILLA PARK IL NC11291816 03/20/2023
SANTA CLARA CA NC11290773 03/17/2023
SAN MATEO CA NC11290763 03/16/2023
NORTHBROOK IL NC11293598 03/19/2023
MOUNT PROSPECT IL NC11293606 03/19/2023
MICHIGAN CITY IN NC11282385 03/11/2023
MANCHESTER NH NC11294861 03/19/2023
LOS ALTOS CA NC11291568 03/17/2023
LEWISTON ME NC11294546 03/18/2023
KANSAS CITY MO NC11290351 03/19/2023
HANOVER PARK IL NC11291648 03/20/2023
GRAND FORKS ND NC11292104 03/17/2023
FRANKLIN PARK IL NC11291801 03/20/2023
EAST PALO ALTO CA NC11291995 03/17/2023
DES MOINES WA NC11290715 03/19/2023
CORALVILLE IA NC11291547 03/18/2023
CONCORD MA NC11295012 03/20/2023
CAPITOLA CA NC11291518 03/17/2023
BARRINGTON IL NC11294394 03/18/2023
WHEELING IL NC11293699 03/20/2023
WAYNESBORO VA NC11291790 03/17/2023
WATSONVILLE CA NC11291560 03/17/2023
SANTA CRUZ CA NC11291516 03/17/2023
SANTA BARBARA CA NC11291570 03/18/2023
OAK PARK IL NC11291778 03/20/2023
NASHUA NH NC11294872 03/19/2023
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE WA NC11290708 03/19/2023
MORGAN HILL CA NC11292039 03/17/2023
MINOT ND NC11292939 03/17/2023
MILPITAS CA NC11291559 03/16/2023
MENLO PARK CA NC11290721 03/16/2023
MADAWASKA ME NC11294513 03/18/2023
GRAND ISLAND NE NC11294510 03/20/2023
ENGLEWOOD CO NC11292941 03/17/2023
DES PLAINES IL NC11294525 03/18/2023
CAMPBELL CA NC11290779 03/17/2023
BURLINGTON VT NC11294626 03/18/2023
BOZEMAN MT NC11291789 03/17/2023
GREATER BOSTON - BOSTON MA NC11290459 03/19/2023
SOUTH SAINT PAUL MN NC11292899 03/17/2023
GLENVIEW IL NC11294530 03/19/2023
WILMETTE IL NC11294374 03/19/2023
WAUKEGAN IL NC11293516 03/20/2023
SUNNYVALE CA NC11291849 03/17/2023
SEATTLE WA NC11290724 03/19/2023
SAN CARLOS CA NC11290716 03/16/2023
SACO ME NC11294503 03/18/2023
REDWOOD CITY CA NC11290799 03/16/2023
NORTHGLENN CO NC11290711 03/19/2023
NORTHBOROUGH MA NC11294971 03/20/2023
MUNDELEIN IL NC11293524 03/20/2023
MENLO PARK CA NC11290788 03/16/2023
MEDINA OH NC11291825 03/17/2023
LOS GATOS CA NC11290806 03/17/2023
LAKE FOREST IL NC11294393 03/18/2023
IOWA CITY IA NC11291510 03/18/2023
HOPKINS MN NC11292070 03/17/2023
GREAT FALLS MT NC11291827 03/17/2023
GRAFTON ND NC11292874 03/17/2023
FARGO ND NC11292873 03/17/2023
ELGIN IL NC11291739 03/20/2023
DULUTH MN NC11292872 03/17/2023
CUPERTINO CA NC11291517 03/17/2023
APTOS CA NC11291604 03/17/2023

Rural Carrier:
PARK RIVER ND NC11290591 03/16/2023
MIDDLETON WI NC11294805 03/19/2023
MENOMONIE WI NC11294698 03/19/2023
MANITOWOC WI NC11294770 03/19/2023
MADISON WI NC11294682 03/19/2023
MADISON WI NC11294641 03/19/2023
FORKS WA NC11284401 03/15/2023
EAU CLAIRE WI NC11294679 03/19/2023
EAU CLAIRE WI NC11294677 03/19/2023
AMERY WI NC11294788 03/19/2023
MENOMONIE WI NC11294782 03/19/2023
MADISON WI NC11294795 03/19/2023
MADISON WI NC11294647 03/19/2023
LEBANON NH NC11290073 03/16/2023
EAST DUBUQUE IL NC11294850 03/19/2023
CLINTONVILLE WI NC11294692 03/19/2023
BASALT CO NC11288701 03/13/2023
SALIDA CO NC11296151 03/20/2023
GLENWOOD SPRINGS CO NC11289738 03/15/2023
ENFIELD NH NC11289739 03/16/2023
CARBONDALE CO NC11289737 03/15/2023
MADISON WI NC11294777 03/19/2023

Motor Vehicle Operator:
PORTLAND OR NC11294928 03/18/2023
KCMO MO P&DC NC11294600 03/18/2023
MIAMI FL P&DC NC11294605 03/18/2023
NASHVILLE TN P&DC NC11296342 03/20/2023
BOSTON MA P&DC NC11294706 03/18/2023
MORGAN NY P&DC NC11294711 03/18/2023
ROCHESTER NY P&DC NC11294707 03/18/2023
SAN JOSE CA P&DC NC11294941 03/18/2023
SEATTLE WA P&DC NC11294945 03/18/2023
SOUTHERN ME P&DC NC11294709 03/18/2023
SAN FRANCISCO CA P&DC NC11294933 03/18/2023

Tractor Trailer Operator:
ALBANY NY P&DC NC11294618 03/18/2023
DULLES VA P&DC NC11296403 03/20/2023
MILWAUKEE WI P&DC NC11296348 03/20/2023
MIDDLESEX-ESSEX MA P&DC NC11294700 03/18/2023
SAN FRANCISCO CA P&DC NC11294723 03/18/2023
BALTIMORE MD P&DC NC11294712 03/18/2023
DVD BLDG NJ P&DC NC11294703 03/18/2023
NEW JERSEY NDC NC11294704 03/18/2023
OAKLAND CA P&DC NC11294713 03/18/2023
PORTLAND OR P&DC NC11294716 03/18/2023
ROCHESTER NY P&DC NC11294702 03/18/2023
SEATTLE NDC NC11294876 03/18/2023
SEATTLE WA P&DC NC11294879 03/18/2023
TACOMA WA NC11294898 03/18/2023
SACRAMENTO CA P&DC NC11294719 03/18/2023
ATLANTA GA P&DC NC11294705 03/18/2023
GRAND RAPIDS P&DF NC11294708 03/18/2023
MIAMI FL P&DC NC11294619 03/18/2023
ROYAL PALM FL P&DC NC11294623 03/18/2023
ST LOUIS MO P&DC NC11294710 03/18/2023

No experience necessary for the laborer custodial or maintenance mechanic positions. It helps on the interview but you can surely think of maintenance related experience to relay for an interview. Based on fixing things around your house, the car etc. Always mention working safely.

Pro tip: You can apply for any job that has an exam opening and the test is administered local to yourself. Make sure you're serious and score decently; you can turn down the job offer. Keep a physical copy of your exam score, I believe they are good for two years.
The reason is: These job postings can be posted externally at capacity for testing, meaning they will not allow you to take the exam if they have enough qualified applicants. However, if you have a test score on the books, you are a qualified applicant.

Explanation of MVO/TTO to save time:
MVO= CDL B Can only drive box trucks on public roads, can drive anything for moves on postal property.
TTO= CDL A Can drive anything.

USPS provides the training. (Maintenance jobs at least. TTO and management...GOOD LUCK)

You don't have to be crazy to work here. We'll train you. Everything but proper email usage.
submitted by User_3971 to USPS [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 01:30 Livid-Ad-2322 Double whammy. Prepare for the cartoonishly full BART cars from SF trains just like last Tuesday evening. The only easy way across the bay left.

Double whammy. Prepare for the cartoonishly full BART cars from SF trains just like last Tuesday evening. The only easy way across the bay left. submitted by Livid-Ad-2322 to bayarea [link] [comments]

2023.03.22 00:52 Luchamore Trip Report 2/15-3/6: Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, and more!

After a couple weeks of recovery, I've had some time to write up a trip report! This vacation was the best I've ever had and I'm excited to share some highlights here, along with some mistakes I made and travel tips. My plans were to meet up with two friends for the first 1.5 weeks of the trip, then to go solo for the last week. They would fly to Chicago to connect with me, then we'd all fly over together to Narita.
- I filled out the Japan entry forms to provide proof of vaccination, declare for customs, etc. We saved a pretty good amount of time with that compared to people filling out paperwork on the plane.
- For phone / internet we went with pocket wireless and it was incredibly smooth basically the whole time. We got two units for times where we'd be separated as well as a pocket translator, which was an unnecessary expense. You're not getting any added value over Google Translate.
- For daily travel we all went with Suica and that was again a very simple, intuitive experience. I'd just periodically add on funds to my Apple Wallet and ended up paying for a bunch of stuff with that rather than cash / credit. My one friend went with the actual card instead of using his phone, which had one advantage: some ticket machines would only accept Suica via card and through the app.
- For the shinkansens we skipped the JR Pass and just booked tickets that day, which was mostly fine. The machines wouldn't accept my credit card so I'd need to go talk to a person, but I knew enough about where I wanted to go and what to do I muddled through. We did opt for the Hakone Free Pass as that would cover basically all the transportation for that area and saved a little money.
- I'm fortunate to have a friend living in Japan who helped arrange a couple events for us... if you don't have that option you can try to book some tickets at Lawson, or for restaurants you can try to go 1-2 days in advance and ask about reservations.
- I tried taking a language course ahead of the trip and learning a few key phrases... I was not able to hold a conversation but the little bit I did know helped I believe. One "caution" I'll give is that if you use Google Translate to construct a sentence for you in Japanese, you're likely to get a response in Japanese!
Part 1: Tokyo
2/15 + 2/16 - Friend B unfortunately overslept and missed his first flight, so Friend A and I met up in the morning at O'Hare. I did have to check one of my bags at the gate because it was over 10 lbs, but otherwise the trip was uneventful until we arrived at Narita, where I had a momentary panic when my checked suitcase did not show up on the carousel. I talked to an agent and for some reason, they had set my bag aside from all the others behind a sign. With that out of the way, we picked up the pocket wi-fi and on our way out the door, a film crew from "Why did you come to Japan" asked us if we would do a brief interview. I recognized their logo and thought it might be fun, but I wasn't prepared for a 40 minute conversation! I mentioned I was visiting a Game Center CX exhibit and they asked me a long line of questions about meeting the show's host (Shinya Arino), what I would say to him, what games we would play, etc. Finally I had to explain we were tired and would like to be on our way. I don't believe my interview was ever shown.
By the time we got tickets and were seated on the Narita Express, we could barely stay awake. Maybe because of the fatigue we had difficulty with exiting Shinjuku station: we eventually talked to an Australian family who showed us the fare exchange kiosk where we converted our Narita Express ticket into a regular train ticket for the gate. Once we settled that we checked into our hotel (Hundred Stay Tokyo Shinjuku), briefly went out to Family Mart for snacks, then crashed for the night.

2/17 - We got up around 7 and went to a Sukiya near our hotel for breakfast, then headed over to Akihabara. Things were still opening up so we stopped for Mr. Donut, then visited a couple stores before moving further east to Yokozuna Tonkatsu Dosukoi Tanaka where we had a lunch / sumo demonstration. This was very much a tourist thing: there was a brief explanation of the sumo ceremony and technique before they invited the audience to get in sumo costumes and step in the ring and have matches with the wrestlers. I (and about 90% of the attendees) went up: this was absolutely not a serious match and was closer to improv comedy than anything. Still, we had a good time and the food was fine.
Afterward, we went back to Akihabara for a reservation at an owl cafe. We got some cute photos but I admit those owls could not have been happy, as there were 30 of them in a small room. The handlers would let one perch on your arm but were adamant you not let go of their leash, because if you did... it wouldn't be pretty. At this point we had to return to our hotel to link up with Friend B who had just arrived, then we went back to Akihabara for dinner. Dinner was at Merino, an all you can eat place where we had lamb and beef tongue in a hot pot. Fittingly, there was a collaboartion with a lamb girl V-tuber. We were again pretty wiped out after dinner and retreated back to our hotel.

2/18 - After a quick stop at Family Mart we headed to Ueno for the Tokyo National Museum. Unfortunately the special exhibition was closed, but we enjoyed the historical artifacts that were available. We had a ramen lunch at one of the restaruants at Ueno Station, then head over to Akihabara (yes, again) and crawled through the shops in more depth. We were there on Saturday afternoon so there were people everywhere, so that only lasted for a couple hours. Our bags were full so we dropped things off at the hotel, then ate dinner at a Coco Ichibanya: we all kept our orders pretty low on the scale but as advertised, there's a kick even at "2". Finally we visited Star Club, a Super Mario themed bar located nearby. Despite the gimmick, the crowd appeared to be local aside from our group. We each ordered a couple of the themed drinks and bonded with the bartender over Cowboy Bebop through the language barrier, as he was playing the soundtrack for ambience.

2/19 - Our first stop in the morning was the Ghibli Musem. While my previous visit had been lackluster, this one went much better as there was a significantly smaller crowd so early in the day. Plus, while they are still largely not supporting English, the movie shown had no dialogue and they did actually provide an English guide for the special exhibit on Future Boy Conan! The merch shop was of course seductive and we ended up with souvenirs for ourselves and friends. Our lunch plans unfortunately fell through as our targeted spot (Chillmatic, a burger place) was closed for a building inspection. We opted for another random ramen place as we walked over to the PARCO mall in Shibuya. We visited all the character stores (Nintendo, Pokemon, Capcom, etc.), which were of course also mobbed on a Sunday afternoon. At this point I had easily outgrown the space in my luggage, so our next stop was Don Quijote so Friend A and I could each buy a duffel bag. To make up for earlier we visited Shogun Burger for dinner, which was fantastic.

2/20 - Our first travel day, but before heading out we did a little more shopping in Shinjuku: my friends and I really got into visiting every BookOff we could find. I also took the opportunity to stop at McDonalds for an early lunch and try their "exclusive" menu items. We then boarded the Odakyu line to make our way out to Hakone. In hindsight, I definitely should have forwarded a bag to our Kyoto hotel: I had a very uncomfortable trip moving between trains and walking uphill but after a couple hours we made it to Ajisai Onsen Ryokan. The building was in a traditional style but with modern furnishings: to paint a picture, our room had futons and an Amazon Fire Stick. We booked times to reserve some of the baths, then walked to a local gyoza place - and I mean local, a bunch of schoolchildren stampeded in with us as it opened - then headed back to the hotel for our evening bath. To cap the evening we enjoyed some sake and watched a few episodes of Spy x Family.

2/21 - We got an early start with our morning bath and quickly came to a realization. The previous night we had booked the "indoor / outdoor" bath, which had both an indoor and outdoor bath but critically kept the showers indoors. For the morning we were in the "outdoor" bath, which... had the showers outdoors. When it was right around freezing. Afterward we ate breakfast at the hotel, then went on the "Hakone Loop". We started by walking through Gora Park and participating in a brief tea ceremony, then took the rope car up to Owaukudani. We were lucky and there were clear skies so Mt. Fuji was very visible in the distance. Unfortunately part of the ropeway was out of service so we took a bus down to Lake Ashi, which we then crossed by boat. We quickly stopped for snacks then walked along Ancient Cedar Avenue before catching a bus back closer to our hotel. We unfortunately missed the last cable car for the day - they stop before 4:30 - but we managed to figure out the local bus line to get back. After a brief rest we found dinner at Pub Stop Pizza & Bar and took in some local entertainment (a TV was playing Fast and the Furious 7).

2/22 - Another bath, another hotel breakfast, and a quick stop at the Hakone Art Museum before we got on our way to our next destination. I asked / begged for us to take a cab back down the mountain to Hakone-Yumoto, which saved me from more luggage struggles. At the station we stopped in Eva-ya: I had only learned yesterday that Hakone is the setting for much of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but luckily they had some cover files and sweets ready for me to buy. After a couple hour trip on the shinkansen we arrived at Kyoto and with a bit of fumbling got to our hotel. The key here is that there is a second floor walkway that runs North - South through the station and doesn't require paying train fare. Our Kyoto hotel (Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Ekimae) had a very slick entrance way: it blended in with the building to the point you'd think you're walking towards a wall without signage. We did some laundry, then went next door to the Yodobashi to pick up a couple items (Friend A needed new sneakers) and literally got lost again. After again getting reoriented, we headed back to Kyoto Station where we got conveyor belt sushi. These places do technically exist where I'm from (US) but this was still one of my favorite moments on the trip.

2/23 - Kicked off the day at the Kyoto International Manga Museum. The bulk of the museum is an impossibly large manga library, which didn't serve me too well, but I enjoyed the history sections. One room was devoted to sculptures of the hands of famous artists, which was certainly a choice. They also had an artist there who would draw sketches of you for 1500 yen. I was a little worried I was paying for the equivalent of a carnival caricature, but the skill and detail were much better than that. Be advised, the artists are only available on holidays and weekends.
Afterward I took the train down to Osaka to meet a friend living in Japan for... you guessed it more shopping. We visited the Capcom Cafe first and checked out the rest of the nerdy stores at Daimaru Umeda. Unlike in Shibuya, we did need to get a timed entry ticket for the Nintendo store, so we went over to Mandarake to kill time. After finishing up in Umeda we hit up the Daimaru / PARCO at Shinsaibashi, then visited the Dotunburi Glico sign and walked the river. They took my picture and when I offered to take theirs they replied "no... I'm not a tourist". Oof. In the evening I met back up with my travel group and had udon at a spot in Kyoto Station.

2/24 - Slightly mixed things up here: we went to the Imperial Palace in order to get tickets for Katsura Imperial Villa. Unfortunately, same day tickets were not available as we expected, so we instead had to get them for Sunday 2/26. Still visited the palace, and in spite of the rain still had fun. Then back to Osaka where we ended up visiting Daimaru again - the other guys liked some photos I sent so much they wanted to see it too. Had takoyaki for lunch, then took the train to the Osaka Aquarium. The absolutely massive tank at the center was very impressive. Then stayed in the area and went to the park to wat a New Japan Pro Wrestling show. This was one of the first shows that allowed the whole audience to cheer: people were quiet but by the end of the night things were rocking. Interestingly they still only sat people in every other chair. Lastly while the other guys went to bed I had read on Twitter there was a party near our hotel to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Fox. Stopped by there and while it was a little awkward at first once I found the more gregarious / drunk people there it was a good time. One guy insisted I get in front of a camera and talk for a second, and it showed up in a video they posted on Twitter.

2/25 - Went to Nara and saw the deer. The deer are docile if you don't have food, friendly if you do, and absolutely terrifying to children. The amount of "yada yada yada" and "kowai" I heard... At first we were giving whole crackers out, but we learned that we could break them up, leave them on our palm, get them to bow, etc. Headed over to Todai-ji and saw the huge Buddha. It was in fact very, very large. Doubled back and played with the deer a bit more, then took the train to Kyoto. I took the lull in the afternoon to visit the office of Edit Mode, a clothing maker that specializes in video game goods. They occasionally host an "open house" at their office and we were lucky enough to be there during one. For dinner we ate okonomiyaki at a restaurant in the Yodobashi building, then afterward took a trip to the nearest BookOff before hitting the hay.

2/26 - This was definitely our biggest mixup on the trip. We had been planning to go to Fushimi Inari in the morning but there were some scheduling issues:
  1. We didn't take not of how long the hike would be (2-3 hours).
  2. We overslept (woke up at 7:30 instead of 6).
  3. We had a hard stop time to make the Katsura Imperial Villa tour we'd booked on Thursday.
We probably should've just not gone to Fushimi Inari at all but we did and ended up arriving with less than an hour to stay. We walked up the steps for about 15 minutes, turned back, checked out the start of the path, and left :( At least the Villa was a good experience: we had an English speaking guide (+ recording) which helped a lot. The context felt necessary to understanding how carefully the whole area was designed.
Next up was one last stop at our Kyoto hotel before taking a quick train ride to Osaka. We stayed at the Hotel Granvia Osaka, which is literally right above the station, so the location was certainly convenient. We ate sushi for lunch at one of the many restaurants in the building, took a quick nap, then went out for some taiyaki. Specifically, I forced my friends to go to a particular chain that was collaborating with a V-Tuber. back to the hotel where we checked out then hopped on the train to Osaka. Checked into our hotel and people napped for a bit before we headed out again. Got taiyaki (making my friends visit a chain with a Hololive collab). More shopping followed with a stop at Mandarake, then to Don Quijote where I bought another small suitcase. We ended up more or less skipping dinner and heading out for karaoke, where we had some snacks and drinks.

2/27 - For my friends' final day we went to Universal Studios Japan. This could be its entire own post but I recommend looking for tickets at least a month in advance, get the Express Pass, and get there early. The park is supposed to open at 9, and even though we showed up at 8:30 people were already pouring inside. Our main objective was Super Nintendo World but our timed entry wasn't for a couple hours, so we tried Jujutsu Kaisen 4D (okay), Spider-Man (good), and Jurassic Park the Ride (okay) first. As for Super Nitendo World itself... as long as you know it's intended for kids and has about a 4 hour lifespan you'll enjoy it. The Mario Kart ride was very good the AR game was interesting tech, and the restaurant food was alright. Really though, the Flying Dinosaur which went on afterward was incredible and easily my favorite ride. Unfortunately, Friend A became ill afterward so we ended up bailing to go back to the hotel and rest. After he felt better we grabbed dinner at a local ramen place: the gimmick was they lined the bowl with slices of pork, which you could then put in the broth to cook a little and season the whole bowl.

2/28 - My two friends left for America, so we checked out of our room and I checked into a smaller one at the same spot. This hotel didn't have laundry machines, just an expensive service (200 yen to clean one pair of underwear), so instead I found a laundromat nearby and caught up with family by phone while I waited. On the way back to the hotel I stopped at another Yodobashi, where I committed a gaffe: you're supposed to check out on each floor. Once I apologized a bunch and paid, I grabbed lunch at Wendy's and got settled into my new room. For dinner I went to another of the restaurants in the building, then took a train to Namba to see a retro video game bar. A couple drinks and a chat with the bartender later, I headed back for the night.

3/1 - A very nerdy shopping day in Osaka: first to the Daimaru character shops, then over to Parco character shops, then I just used Google Maps to hit BookOffs one after the other. I made my way south until I hit DenDen Town where I stopped in every store I saw until I had to break away for dinner. A local friend helped me book a reservation in Kobe Took the train out to Kobe where a friend had helped me make a reservation at a steak restaurant. I went for the "modarately" cheap option that was about $100 total and loved it from beginning to end. Also strangely this was the only restaurant anywhere I could tip: you had to tip individually and could only max it out at 500 yen. I tipped the two waiters, the chef, and the host / barker outside (who had good English so we talked a bit).

3/2 - My Fushimi Inari revenge trip! I got there around 9am so things were already pretty busy, but I did get the chance to chat with one of the tour guides while I had a morning coffee. The starting area was pretty busy and even as I went along, I ran into a lot of people but there was still enough space to take photos and see everything. I definitely paused at a few points: even walking 20,000 steps daily on the trip hadn't prepared me for all the stair climbing. I'd also suggest that you don't NEED to go all the way to the top: there's just a store up there that completely obscures the view, the better views are earlier in the hike. With that said, I still really enjoyed myself, taking a different route back down. I grabbed a couple of snacks and took the train back to Osaka, where I finished up exploring Namba and went with a friend for an unagidon dinner. I'd had broiled eel before as sushi but never as the full entree and found it delicious!

3/3 - After checking out of the hotel and forwarding two of my bags to Tokyo, I caught the shinkansen but made a detour while in Yokohama to visit the Gundam Factory. The Gundam is very impressive in person and I would definitely recommend visiting in the early evening to see it after dark if possible. I proceeded onto Shinjuku where I ran into another issue: I was staying at a capsule hotel and immmediately realized I was not comfortable there. Everyone's bags were kept in a locker room that was not closely monitored, there were signs everywhere advising the hotel was not responsible for any theft... I should have done more reading to understand where I'd be staying. I would have been better off in a hostel, at least that would've been cheaper! I did at least have a chance to visit Shogun Burger again for dinner, after which I booked a new hotel for the next night, then got a few hours of restless sleep as I heard every snore and cough from my neighbors.

3/4 - I rose early and walked to Shinjuku Gyoen Garden. You really can use Suica in a lot of places, they even accepted it here! Most plants weren't in bloom yet but I did spot a lone cherry blossom tree that had blossomed: as I passed by it later in my walk a dozen people had crowded around for photos. A lot of stuff was not in bloom yet but I did see one cherry tree had blossomed at least. After getting my fill of nature I ventured over to Nakano Broadway. Out of all the nerdy shopping I did, this spot was my least favorite: maybe if I knew Japanese I would've fared better but because I didn't, I found all the various specialty stores confusing to navigate. I stopped back at the capsule hotel to pick up my luggage, then headed to Nipponbashi to check into my backup hotel (S-Peria Inn Nihonbashi Hakozaki). This new spot was pretty out of the way so I opted to just grab some sushi from a nearby supermarket and park it for the evening with the hope of a strong start tomorrow.

3/5 - Checked out of my hotel and headed over to Shinjuku to check in to my final hotel (Kadoya Hotel) for the trip. Dropped off my bags and confirmed my other ones had shown up safely, then headed to Shibuya Parco for the Final Fantasy 35th Anniversary pop-up. Shopped there for a bit, then headed back to Chillmatic and this time they were open! It was a neat experience but I think I preferred Shogun Burger. Next stop was Meijijingu - I didn't leave a votive and instead just walked around, including a stop in one of the gardens. Then over to HMV Books where there was a 20th Anniversary Celebration for Game Center CX. However busy I expected it to be, it was not... at all. I was the only person who paid the 800 yen for the museum part in the 30-45 minutes I was there. But I did enjoy it and picked up a T-shirt. I also found a small pop-up gallery titled "9Days" on a lower floor that was interesting. It was getting late but I pressed onto Akihabara where I went to the Radio Kaikan tower. I stayed there until closing, then headed over to Tokyo Video Gamers, a bar. They had closed down last year but were in the middle of a soft re-launch when I stopped by. Finally, I headed back to my hotel and ordered some Dominos because I was tired of walking around.

3/6 - Checked out of my hotel, but left my bags so I could go eat breakfast at Eggslut at the station. Took the Narita Express to the airport, shopped a little bit at the airport shops, then the long sad flight back to the US.
That was a linguistic dreadnought so if anything is unclear let me know and I'll try to clean it up. Hope you enjoyed and it helps with your own planning: I'll answer questions as best as I can!
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