Encapsulated nails

Nails

2008.05.03 12:22 Nails

/Nails: A place to show off your beautiful nails!
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2011.03.25 14:31 Teatoly The C was sold to pay for polish 💅

The C was sold to pay for polish 💅
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2010.12.28 21:09 eyeheartyou nail art

A place for all nail enthusiasts to share their nail art and tutorials. Professionals and hobbyists welcome! Nail art only please, anything else will be removed.
[link]


2023.03.28 17:43 laazy-slacquer Gold leaf Butterfly!

Gold leaf Butterfly!
First time trying encapsulated foil with art drawn over! Used gel for everything: structure, encapsulation, ombre (air brush), and nail art.
submitted by laazy-slacquer to NailArt [link] [comments]


2023.03.27 15:06 Sessamae Can you clarify something for me??

I just started using builder gel as I just started using the gel method a few manis ago instead of dip liquids.
I also used chrome for the first time last week. When I asked where to put the builder gel in the chrome process I was told by 99.9 percent of the people that builder gel always goes on the natural nail or at least right after prep.
However when I first started using the gel method I was told to use the builder gel as one of the last steps because you need to use that for encapsulating the powder already cured to my nail. I was told (and found out for my self) that clear powder doesn’t work well with the gel method for encapsulation.
So which is it? For builder gel when used for strengthening a mani (not lengthen)is it first or last? Or does it depend on what you are doing, for example dio powders versus caroming powder?
TLDR: I have heard both equally that builder gel (used for strength and not length) should used the first first thing on the nail and the other half swear that when doing the gel method that the builder gel should go in last to encapsulate. Which is it??
Thank you!
submitted by Sessamae to DipPowderNails [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 21:25 guerraluana I feel like I ruined those glitter nails by trying to encapsulate them on a pink jelly polish - but learn from your mistakes I guess 🤷

I feel like I ruined those glitter nails by trying to encapsulate them on a pink jelly polish - but learn from your mistakes I guess 🤷
All Brazilian polish, 2 different glitters underneath and this pink jelly on one hand, and a blue one on another
submitted by guerraluana to Nails [link] [comments]


2023.03.25 04:48 blissormsby BLISSY'S SURVIVOR IS BACK FOR A SEASON 5


After a hiatus from hosting, Blissy and the team are back for another season. In the previous season, 18 mutants took on the dangers of the sewers in New York. In this new season, It is now time for 18 new Survivors to take a leap into a uncertain future where the world is corrupted by multiple *dangerous* and *deadly* viruses. Say hello to the twisted world of **RESIDENT EVIL**.

*Resident Evil*, created in 1989 by Capcom, is an on-going, popular single-player, survival horror game franchise with 10 currently in the books! From the the midwestern town of Racoon City, to Spain, to Africa, To China, back to the states (specifically Louisiana), and all the way back to Romania in Europe. Fans have followed the franchise and has met a series of fun characters and have helped save many innocent lives across the globe.

The 18 *SURVIVORS* of this season, will have a more brutal mission... they will be fighting tooth and nail against their peers and in the end only one will emerge on top as the savior of the world and earn their title as **Sole Survivor**. Do YOU have what it takes to outwit, outlast, and outplay the rest?

__What can we offer you?__
☛ A single-themed ORG season with episode themed challenges!!
☛ Spec activities such as edgic, draft, host predictions, exit interviews, and episode recaps to help encapsulate the season!
☛ A new and growing fanbase to help create a fun and supportive environment.
☛ A friendly fun hosting team that also makes sure to take great care in creating the best experience possible for both spectators and players.
☛ A competitive gameplay season with advanced pre-planned 2 day cycles!
☛ Custom Mangas (Face Your Manga) created by the hosts with the ability to customize!
SERVER LINK: https://discord.gg/QTEgaRGJdp
submitted by blissormsby to OnlineSurvivor [link] [comments]


2023.03.23 04:44 goatfuckersupreme In commemoration of The Beatles' 60th anniversary of their groundbreaking debut Please Please Me, I've put together a tierlist of the songs and my thoughts on them and the album.

60 years ago today, four rocking lads from Liverpool released an album that would be their foothold into the forefront of a musical and pop culture revolution that was never before seen and has still never been matched to this day. The humble 32 minute album, fresh and exciting then and still rocking today, was merely The Beatles staking their claim in the industry, their proclamation of arrival. However, nobody knew how long they would stay, and nobody could predict just how much impact they would soon have.
This album is a very solid rock & roll album, one that spearheaded the sound of the next two or so years of pop and rock in the western world, though The Beatles made sure to ever be ahead of the curve with their run. Blending their influences of skiffle, rock and roll, do-wop, and some rhythm and blues, they demonstrated that were skilled enough to not only masterfully cover beloved songs, but excellent writers of pop/rock tunes in their own right, and tight musicians to boot.
On to the tier list- I'd like to start out by saying that I love every song on this album and I know all of them by heart. I think this is a very solid and fun album, these are all pitted against each other within the context of just the album. I don't think any of these are bad songs, but I tried to at least build some sort of bell curve.
https://imgur.com/a/FJvn0Zi
Now following on, in order of top to bottom of the list:

Twist and Shout

What better way to start a tier list than with the end of the album? The Beatles saved this masterfully bright, raw, and energetic cover of The Isley Brothers' rearrangement of The Top Notes' Twist and Shout. With Lennon leading vocals, this is the first peek at the rasping screams he that would become a hallmark of his musical career with The Beatles and beyond. This song was actually recording with all the others in one sitting, a ~13 hour recording session with this one to cap it off, as his voice would be too raw after this one to sing any of the other songs. This song also establishes, with other songs on the album, the three part ooo and aaaa harmonies among John, Paul, and George, which remained a recognizable feature of many of their songs to come. Noteworthy also is Ringo's drum sound, just a lovely snare texture that can only be described as thick, resulting in some wonder snare rolls on the fills. All in all, a song that left and still leaves many listeners wanting more. A masterclass in capping off a pop album. Though it's not typically the first song I go to when wanting to listen to something off Please Please Me, it's energy is undeniable and it'd be hard not to place it at the top.

Please Please Me

Coming up right behind is the album's title track, Please Please Me. Featuring a catchy melody and a sweet, simple harmonica riff that echoes throughout the song, Please Please Me does not have the bouncing raw energy that Twist and Shout has. However, it does have the signature 3 part harmonies and counter melodies in the vocals all the way through. Easily listenable, memorizable, and singable, this one is fun because of all harmonies to sing along with. A sweet tune with a tumultuous recording history, an encapsulation of their sound and image at the time very befit the honor of the title track.

I Saw Her Standing There

Coming 'round to the beginning of the album, this energetic rocker is the world a large's first taste of The Beatles. The iconic 1 2 3 4 count-in, now a staple in rock music, almost seems to exist to say buckle-up, because everything's about to change. Like Twist and Shout, this is just another solid rock and roll song, letting you know who they are, what they sound like, and what you're in for. Something that's hard to interrupt because it's so damn catchy and fun, and seemingly ends almost too soon. A perfect way to kick off their career, other than that first line (no, Paul, I do not know what you mean.)

A Taste of Honey

To start off the A tier, this lowkey cover of a 1960 Broadway tune is almost reminiscent of a dusty, drunken cowboy ballad. The tasteful descending of arpeggios during the verse, paired with Ringo's subdued drumming and McCartney's almost crooning vocals brings the mind's eye to a scene of deserts and horses, and longing for a lost love over a campfire in the hills. The reverb-drenched I will return section only lends to this, as though our western hero has saddled up, racing across the desert to reclaim this love. Paul sounds very "young" here- not much of note there, really, just felt like I should point out this observation. All in all, a rich cover- something I could hear on Cowboy Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robins.

Anna

This tender, soulful cover of an Arthur Alexander is pretty straight laced though well executed. The Beatles really nail the atmosphere of the track and Lennon's vocal lend excellently to it, probably because he always sounds like he's in pain whenever he sings anything. It could also be because he had a bad cold on the entire recording day of this whole album.

Boys

This was originally at the bottom of the list for some reason, but I bumped it way up when listening to it during this write-up. Everyone goes nuts here, and you have to hand it to Ringo for nailing this cover of the 1960 tune originally recorded by The Shirelles. Perfect for his rich timbre and complemented by the boys' hoots and hollers, Ringo bangs out this piece excellently on both vocals and drums, with the energy never dropping. A mix of the sounds of do-wop and surf, this is just an all around fun song and is a good showcase of Ringo's ability to rock with the rest of the fab four.

Misery

Coming up as second on the tracklist and shortest on the album, Misery is a sad song with a cheery instrumentation and vocal performance, save the slightly-melancholy piano run which is the highlight of the track. Originally written for young British Star Helen Shapiro by Lennon and McCartney, it was rejected and instead recorded by British singer Kenny Lynch who failed to chart but was the first person to cover a Lennon-McCartney composition (before it even released). A nice, simple song, as catchy as any other.

Ask Me Why

With elevator-music drums and an understated yet tasteful series of lead guitar fills by George, this song has very strong harmonies and an interesting chord progression that I do not have enough music theory-knowledge to explain, but it's an earworm. Though it was the B-side to the Please Please Me single, this track often seems overlooked, though I greatly enjoy it. John's rhythm guitar is high on the mix and you can really hear him whack those strings on his guitar. The vocals are tight all around, and especially sweet when John brings the lead up into his falsetto at some parts. I've always been fond of the very end, with the sizzling cymbal and the jazzy riff arpeggio by George.

Chains

Originally recorded in 1962 by girl group The Cookies, this is a pleasant cover featuring nice harmonies between the boys, and, surprisingly, George on lead vocals. I honestly thought it was John before writing this post, but, anyway, a fine cover. Not one to write home about, but I definitely enjoy it and enjoy singing along.

Love Me Do

This mildly bluesy song predates The Beatles by several years, and while it comes off as a bit corny (what does Love Me Do mean?), the rough, wailing harmonica is definitely the centerpiece of this track. Not their most refined one ever, but plenty fun to listen to and play along to. One of the first of many to just have John and Paul harmonizing with each other through most of the song. Notably not notable here is the drumming, performed by Andy White (also present on the track Please Please Me) instead of Ringo. Pretty boring as far as percussion goes, but that's what happens when you kick Mr. Starr off the drums.

P.S. I Love You

With Andy White again present, banging out an omnipresent clacking rhythm reminiscent of a slapstick closed repeatedly (which is oddly fitting), this another simple ditty by Paul. I'm especially fond of Paul's adlibbing during the last A-Section of the song. Not much standing out here beyond that, another nice early-Beatles track.

Baby It's You

A sadness-tinged but sweet cover of another Shirelles song, this is much in the same vein as Anna, though I just like Anna more. Their sha-la-las do sound humorously sad, though. Interestingly enough, George Martin, The Beatles' producer (and honorary fifth Beatle) plays Celesta on this track during the solo. Nice.

Do You Want to Know a Secret

Starting off with an oddly fitting, somewhat western acoustic guitar and sing-speak vocal intro, this song is George's first time to really shine on this track, with it being unmistakably Georgey. In this early recording, the quiet Beatle didn't sing lead much- and it's a little odd, a little frail, and- in this case, almost sounds like his nose is clogged. However, aside from that last characteristic which isn't heard again from George later on, this fragility is what would define George's vocal performance as he grew into an incredibly soulful singer, and young (only 20!) George's voice is still a treat to hear.

There's A Place

The second shortest at just 1:49, suffering a little from boring verse syndrome, though it makes up for this with interesting chorus harmonies as well as an equally interesting bridge, melodically speaking. It doesn't overstay it's welcome and it's fine while it lasts, though isn't the most memorable. Still, though- I like!
This ended up being longer than I expected, but give this album if you haven't. It's monumental for being the first step in an abrupt change in western music that the British invasion brought, and well worth a listen or 10.
submitted by goatfuckersupreme to beatles [link] [comments]


2023.03.23 04:42 goatfuckersupreme In commemoration of The Beatles' 60th anniversary of their groundbreaking debut Please Please Me, I've put together a tierlist of the songs and my thoughts on them and the album.

60 years ago today, four rocking lads from Liverpool released an album that would be their foothold into the forefront of a musical and pop culture revolution that was never before seen and has still never been matched to this day. The humble 32 minute album, fresh and exciting then and still rocking today, was merely The Beatles staking their claim in the industry, their proclamation of arrival. However, nobody knew how long they would stay, and nobody could predict just how much impact they would soon have.
This album is a very solid rock & roll album, one that spearheaded the sound of the next two or so years of pop and rock in the western world, though The Beatles made sure to ever be ahead of the curve with their run. Blending their influences of skiffle, rock and roll, do-wop, and some rhythm and blues, they demonstrated that were skilled enough to not only masterfully cover beloved songs, but excellent writers of pop/rock tunes in their own right, and tight musicians to boot.
On to the tier list- I'd like to start out by saying that I love every song on this album and I know all of them by heart. I think this is a very solid and fun album, these are all pitted against each other within the context of just the album. I don't think any of these are bad songs, but I tried to at least build some sort of bell curve.
https://imgur.com/a/FJvn0Zi
Now following on, in order of top to bottom of the list:

Twist and Shout

What better way to start a tier list than with the end of the album? The Beatles saved this masterfully bright, raw, and energetic cover of The Isley Brothers' rearrangement of The Top Notes' Twist and Shout. With Lennon leading vocals, this is the first peek at the rasping screams he that would become a hallmark of his musical career with The Beatles and beyond. This song was actually recording with all the others in one sitting, a ~13 hour recording session with this one to cap it off, as his voice would be too raw after this one to sing any of the other songs. This song also establishes, with other songs on the album, the three part ooo and aaaa harmonies among John, Paul, and George, which remained a recognizable feature of many of their songs to come. Noteworthy also is Ringo's drum sound, just a lovely snare texture that can only be described as thick, resulting in some wonder snare rolls on the fills. All in all, a song that left and still leaves many listeners wanting more. A masterclass in capping off a pop album. Though it's not typically the first song I go to when wanting to listen to something off Please Please Me, it's energy is undeniable and it'd be hard not to place it at the top.

Please Please Me

Coming up right behind is the album's title track, Please Please Me. Featuring a catchy melody and a sweet, simple harmonica riff that echoes throughout the song, Please Please Me does not have the bouncing raw energy that Twist and Shout has. However, it does have the signature 3 part harmonies and counter melodies in the vocals all the way through. Easily listenable, memorizable, and singable, this one is fun because of all harmonies to sing along with. A sweet tune with a tumultuous recording history, an encapsulation of their sound and image at the time very befit the honor of the title track.

I Saw Her Standing There

Coming 'round to the beginning of the album, this energetic rocker is the world a large's first taste of The Beatles. The iconic 1 2 3 4 count-in, now a staple in rock music, almost seems to exist to say buckle-up, because everything's about to change. Like Twist and Shout, this is just another solid rock and roll song, letting you know who they are, what they sound like, and what you're in for. Something that's hard to interrupt because it's so damn catchy and fun, and seemingly ends almost too soon. A perfect way to kick off their career, other than that first line (no, Paul, I do not know what you mean.)

A Taste of Honey

To start off the A tier, this lowkey cover of a 1960 Broadway tune is almost reminiscent of a dusty, drunken cowboy ballad. The tasteful descending of arpeggios during the verse, paired with Ringo's subdued drumming and McCartney's almost crooning vocals brings the mind's eye to a scene of deserts and horses, and longing for a lost love over a campfire in the hills. The reverb-drenched I will return section only lends to this, as though our western hero has saddled up, racing across the desert to reclaim this love. Paul sounds very "young" here- not much of note there, really, just felt like I should point out this observation. All in all, a rich cover- something I could hear on Cowboy Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robins.

Anna

This tender, soulful cover of an Arthur Alexander is pretty straight laced though well executed. The Beatles really nail the atmosphere of the track and Lennon's vocal lend excellently to it, probably because he always sounds like he's in pain whenever he sings anything. It could also be because he had a bad cold on the entire recording day of this whole album.

Boys

This was originally at the bottom of the list for something, but I bumped it way up when listening to it during this write-up. Everyone goes nuts here, and you have to hand it to Ringo for nailing this cover of the 1960 tune originally recorded by The Shirelles. Perfect for his rich timbre and complemented by the boys' hoots and hollers, Ringo bangs out this piece excellently on both vocals and drums, with the energy never dropping. A mix of the sounds of do-wop and surf, this is just an all around fun song and is a good showcase of Ringo's ability to rock with the rest of the fab four.

Misery

Coming up as second on the tracklist and shortest on the album, Misery is a sad song with a cheery instrumentation and vocal performance, save the slightly-melancholy piano run which is the highlight of the track. Originally written for young British Star Helen Shapiro by Lennon and McCartney, it was rejected and instead recorded by British singer Kenny Lynch who failed to chart but was the first person to cover a Lennon-McCartney composition (before it even released). A nice, simple song, as catchy as any other.

Ask Me Why

With elevator-music drums and an understated yet tasteful series of lead guitar fills by George, this song has very strong harmonies and an interesting chord progression that I do not have enough music theory-knowledge to explain, but it's an earworm. Though it was the B-side to the Please Please Me single, this track often seems overlooked, though I greatly enjoy it. John's rhythm guitar is high on the mix and you can really hear him whack those strings on his guitar. The vocals are tight all around, and especially sweet when John brings the lead up into his falsetto at some parts. I've always been fond of the very end, with the sizzling cymbal and the jazzy riff arpeggio by George.

Chains

Originally recorded in 1962 by girl group The Cookies, this is a pleasant cover featuring nice harmonies between the boys, and, surprisingly, George on lead vocals. I honestly thought it was John before writing this post, but, anyway, a fine cover. Not one to write home about, but I definitely enjoy it and enjoy singing along.

Love Me Do

This mildly bluesy song predates The Beatles by several years, and while it comes off as a bit corny (what does Love Me Do mean?), the rough, wailing harmonica is definitely the centerpiece of this track. Not their most refined one ever, but plenty fun to listen to and play along to. One of the first of many to just have John and Paul harmonizing with each other through most of the song. Notably not notable here is the drumming, performed by Andy White (also present on the track Please Please Me) instead of Ringo. Pretty boring as far as percussion goes, but that's what happens when you kick Mr. Starr off the drums.

P.S. I Love You

With Andy White again present, banging out an omnipresent clacking rhythm reminiscent of a slapstick closed repeatedly (which is oddly fitting), this another simple ditty by Paul. I'm especially fond of Paul's adlibbing during the last A-Section of the song. Not much standing out here beyond that, another nice early-Beatles track.

Baby It's You

A sadness-tinged but sweet cover of another Shirelles song, this is much in the same vein as Anna, though I just like Anna more. Their sha-la-las do sound humorously sad, though. Interestingly enough, George Martin, The Beatles' producer (and honorary fifth Beatle) plays Celesta on this track during the solo. Nice.

Do You Want to Know a Secret

Starting off with an oddly fitting, somewhat western acoustic guitar and sing-speak vocal intro, this song is George's first time to really shine on this track, with it being unmistakably Georgey. In this early recording, the quiet Beatle didn't sing lead much- and it's a little odd, a little frail, and- in this case, almost sounds like his nose is clogged. However, aside from that last characteristic which isn't heard again from George later on, this fragility is what would define George's vocal performance as he grew into an incredibly soulful singer, and young (only 20!) George's voice is still a treat to hear.

There's A Place

The second shortest at just 1:49, suffering a little from boring verse syndrome, though it makes up for this with interesting chorus harmonies as well as an equally interesting bridge, melodically speaking. It doesn't overstay it's welcome and it's fine while it lasts, though isn't the most memorable. Still, though- I like!
This ended up being longer than I expected, but give this album if you haven't. It's monumental for being the first step in an abrupt change in western music that the British invasion brought, and well worth a listen or 10.
submitted by goatfuckersupreme to tierlists [link] [comments]


2023.03.22 15:07 reggiebby Proper top coat application to prevent lifting from cuticle/side walls?

I’ve had a little bit of lifting from the cuticle area and I think my application of the layers is the culprit.
I do base coat, then BIAB, then top coat - all by NaioNails, fyi.
I understand that I should leave a small gap at the cuticle, and I do that, but my question is particularly about the top coat - should the top coat go a little bit “past” the layers below so it encapsulates everything and makes sure that not one bit of the base coat/builder gel is left untopcoated?
I hope my explanation makes sense. I’d be happy for any tips!
submitted by reggiebby to DIYGelNails [link] [comments]


2023.03.18 07:15 blacindian Encapsulated gel x press on nails I did in myself 💅🏾

Encapsulated gel x press on nails I did in myself 💅🏾 submitted by blacindian to Nails [link] [comments]


2023.03.17 21:25 blacindian Encapsulated press on set I did on myself 💅🏾#nails

Encapsulated press on set I did on myself 💅🏾#nails submitted by blacindian to Nails [link] [comments]


2023.03.15 14:45 cosmicdecember I expect this to get buried given the new song and album news but I'm back to continue my countdown after a few weeks off. Here's #31-40! I'll have to reevaluate once LIBAD drops but until then, I'm sticking to the months-long work I put into this.

I expect this to get buried given the new song and album news but I'm back to continue my countdown after a few weeks off. Here's #31-40! I'll have to reevaluate once LIBAD drops but until then, I'm sticking to the months-long work I put into this. submitted by cosmicdecember to avengedsevenfold [link] [comments]


2023.03.13 23:44 Kolif_Avander The Cobblestone Path


This passage is from the journal of a women named Jessica Norton.
In my city, the roads stretched themselves throughout the landscape. They went so far that they even passed the mountains that hid our city from the rest. It was said that along this road there was a dirt path that led into the large forest that spread itself along the northern area of the district. The forest had a silver lake that would, at night, dazzle and shimmer, reflecting the moons beauty. Not only that but it was also said that a person lived in these woods inside a log cabin that could only be located by following an archaic cobblestone path that led to the house. The myth was that anyone who made it to the house would never return and those that lived would get lost trying to find it and eventually make their way back to the city. In the myth it was even said that, on a rare occasion, a person would come into the city and murder those who had attempted to find the cabin. Whether this myth was no more than a fake tale told to scare people around a campfire or whether the legends and myths of old were tangible, what I experienced that night was so vivid and abhorrent that it will stay with me until the day I die.
I was twenty-one at the time and I was partaking a multitude of part-time jobs to keep up with my rent. All the jobs I took on were at night as I was in college during the day. Not only that but the night had grown darker in the recent weeks so I could only rely on the streetlamps to navigate my way home. It was around one o’clock in the morning and I was finishing up my shift at a grocery store that I had been working at for a couple of months. My friend, Sarah had come into the store. She did the one to six shifts for the early hours of the morning. Why someone would be getting groceries at one o’clock let alone four or five o’clock I don’t know but I didn’t care either. Sarah unbuttoned her coat and unveiled her scarf that was hiding half of her face. She came over to me and exchanged words for a moment, during which I couldn’t help but feel as though she was on edge about something. While we were talking, I commented on it to see if my intuition was correct. “Well, the thing is maybe I am being paranoid or something, but the thing is I am sure that I saw something lurking outside.” In response to this, I rolled my eyes and said, “It was probably just an animal.” and patted Sarah on the shoulder while chuckling. “Oh, whatever!” Sarah said and I walked out, playfully shaking my head.
The street was so gloomy that the lamps could barely fight the thick cloak of darkness that choked all crevices of the city. The wind was harsh, lashing at my body from all angles. I hastily put on my coat and made sure that the hood was tight around my head so that I wouldn’t expose myself to the wind's fury. I trekked along the pavement, being faithful to the lamps in the hopes that they would guide me to the bus-stop. It had rained earlier that day and due to this the pavements and roads were slippery. I fell victim to the weather as I slipped on a pool of water, yet I was able to regain my balance by grabbing onto a lamp for support. Due to the shock, it took a while to regain my composure, but I eventually came to my senses. I looked around my environment and behind me in the far distance I could ever so slightly make out a figure that seemed to be hiding in the dark. I tried to focus in on this figure however I soon lost focus of it, and it was lost to the shadows. Shortly after that I felt a distinctive chill that crawled its way up to my spine and made its way to my skull. I could feel a cold sweat beginning to pour down my forehead and my body began to freeze. I slowly gathered myself and continued to walk down the street.
I found myself at a curb and I could see the bright flashing car lights fly past me. I hesitated for a while in fear that, due to the darkness, the cars wouldn’t see me, and I would end up being a red smear all over the road. I eventually got the courage and darted towards the other end of the street. Luckily, I got across unscathed and in one piece. To the left of me, where I would normally go to get the bus, the road was cut off by police. This meant I would have to go a different way to get to the bus-stop, I would have to go into the dark depths of the inner-city. The inner-city was littered with thin alleyways that were encapsulated in darkness. The walls were drenched with a viscous sludge that seemed to be decorated in all areas of the city. There were no lamps that provided some sort of visibility, there was only the moonlight that reflected the large pools of water that had been left by the rain. Luckily, I was prepared and had a flashlight with me. The flashlight, however, did not go far and was quite dim. I navigated around the inner-city, trying to use my memory to figure out where I needed to go.
I made my way to a large courtyard. The courtyard was once a luscious plane of grass that local residents would sit at during the afternoon. However, the courtyard seemed to be barren of any form of greenery and was instead covered in the same viscous sludge that had clung to the walls of the buildings a few moments before. I stood froze at the edge of courtyard, considering whether or not to go across it, when I heard a loud metallic beat of footsteps approaching from behind me. I turned to see a dark figure a close distance away from me. The figure seemed to be approaching swiftly and without a second thought I attempted to dart across the courtyard. However, as I got to a third of the way across, the sludge had wrapped itself around my shoes and I could feel it slowly dragging me in with it. I jumped forward however I fell into the sludge and could feel its darkness attempting to consume me. The orchestra of metallic footsteps grew louder and louder. For what felt like an eternity of wriggling in sludge I eventually tore myself out of its grasp and stumbled out of the courtyard. I turned back and could see the figure now at the beginning of the courtyard, it began to make its way across however seemed to not struggle against the sludge.
I ran with my clothes now tattered from the struggle and headed into one of the thin alleyways in the street. I hid in amongst the rubbish of a garbage can, with my eyes peeking out of its crevice. I could see the moonlight reflecting the figure as it approached towards the alleyway. Its face was a ghostly white that adorned an uncanny grin that exposed all of its rotting teeth. Any other grim details this being may have possessed were hidden by the rim of its large top hat. I heard the footsteps growing even more aggressive as it approached, the hard metal thuds crashing against the fractured pavement below. It came very close to me, so close that I could hear the heavy, demonic breathing of the creature. However, it seemed to not have noticed me hiding and it left taking its orchestra of metal thuds with it. After I could no longer hear its daunting sounds, I stepped out of the garbage bin and carried on towards the bus stop.
I eventually came out of the inner city and was back on the main road. In the distance I could see the bus stop. I darted towards the bus stop, using every ounce of my energy to get there. I had gotten halfway across the street when I started to feel extremely cold and almost instantly I was frozen in place. I could see that the streetlights began to flicker and then popped. After only a few seconds the street was completely pitch black and I started to feel numb.
After, what only felt like a few seconds, I awoke to see large pine trees towering over me. I looked down and I saw a cobblestone path below me that I was being dragged along. I was bound by a thick piece of rope that went from my shoulders to my ankles. I attempted to turn my head to see what I was being dragged by and I could see a tall man wearing a dark black coat who was holding the rope that was wrapped around me. Although my vision was blurred, I could make out a log cabin in the distance that was dimly lit by small lanterns that were decorated randomly across the cabin.
I did not even attempt to struggle as I knew that any efforts would have been futile. I could feel the grime and dirt that had collected itself between the cobblestones grasping onto my jacket. I could see the dim light shining on the near trees and the dragging was abruptly stopped. Instantly everything went dark, and I could feel a ragged sack around my head, the iron smell of blood emanated from the sack, invading my nostrils. I could feel the cold hand of the man pulsating as he forcefully uprooted me from the ground. He began to roughly move me into the house, each plank making a sharp creaking sound as I stood on them. Eventually, I was thrown into an old chair that looked as though it had been soaked in old blood with crooked nails that had randomly been hammered into the chair. Worn leather belt straps were firmly wrapped around my wrists and ankles, keeping me bolstered to the chair. The sack ripped from my head; I could see the room I was in. The room adorned noses, ears and fingers that were suspended by fishhooks. Blood seemed to cover the counter tops of the room and had bronzed with time.
The man hastily left the room; the door slamming shut behind him. I attempted to release myself from the leather belt shackles that gripped themselves around my wrists. After an arduous attempt at liberating myself from the chair, the prongs of the belts began to loosen, and I was able to free my wrists. I hastily began to loosen my ankles from the chair; the door swung open. The man stood at the doorway; his grin being fully extended. The sound of friction as his teeth grinded together. I attempted to flee the room, but the man darted towards me in a flash. He tackled me to the ground, his cold hands grappling around my shoulders pulling me towards him. I stretched my arm out towards to the blood-stained counter where a sharp knife lay. I was flipped over by the man who began to strangle me and with each second, I could feel myself getting more tired as each breath of air left my body. Using my hand, I blindly searched around the countertop, attempting to grab the knife. My sight began to go blurred and I remember feeling as though I was going to die in that moment. I grabbed the handle of the knife and thoughtlessly forced the knife into the man's throat. A black sludge trickled down the cut where the knife had been, and this black liquid began to pour through of the crevices of the man's teeth. The rugged grasp of the man loosened giving me the little strength I had to push him off me. A quiet hiss, like that of a snake was heard from the man as I got up. I darted towards the door and crashed out of the house, stumbling as I fell down the small steps that led off the porch.
The trees were imposing, they towered over me every turn I took. There was a thick cover of darkness that made it troubling to see what was around me. For a long time, I felt lost in the thick void of trees that I was surrounded in. My legs ached from the arduous journey across the forest. Standing at the edge of the forest, I could see an array of lights shimmering in the distance. I plodded along the main road, where I eventually found myself in the city. The grime and sludge that was once covered all over the apartments was no longer there. Trembling along the streets, I eventually staggered into the apartment complex. The smell of moist carpet filled the air, and the buzz of the UV lights invaded my ears. Slogging my way to my apartment, I opened the door and fell onto my bed.
The next morning, I awoke peacefully, yet still in my dirty clothes. I hastily got up, realising that I hadn’t even attempted to call the police. That morning I went to the station and attempted to explain to them what had happened. I told them about the sludge and the pale man but the more I detailed the events that had occurred the night prior the more that I began to realise how crazy I sounded. The response from the police was a mix of confusion and concern. In my last efforts to try and convince them that I wasn’t just some local crackhead, I explained to them how there was a log cabin in the woods which was presumably where the pale man resided. When I exclaimed this detail to them the room seemed to shift. Both policemen who were interviewing me at the time slowly looked and at one and other with disbelief. They told me that they would investigate it and have people go over to the log cabin. A week later, they told me that they found no pale man within the log cabin however there was a potent aroma of chemicals within each room of the house, especially the kitchen. Not only that but they said they found a battered and broken chair within the kitchen, the same one I had been strapped to. However, the chair was vacant of any nails or blood. As I wrapped things up with the officers, I had a feeling that they knew something that I didn’t. Ever since I had told them about the cabin, they seemed on edge and shaky. While I was leaving the building, I even saw one of the officers who had interviewed me before muttering to himself “I can’t believe this is happening.” I asked him what he meant by this. His face, covered in desperation, turned to me and said, “He’s back.” After hearing that I was extremely unnerved. I decided to get a drink and go home.
Ever since that dreadful night I have attempted to remove it from my mind however it has clung to my brain like a parasite. It has been seven months since then, yet I still can’t shake the memory of that pale man lurking in the shadows. I hope I never see him again.
submitted by Kolif_Avander to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.03.10 21:43 quartzgirl71 Delivering the Goods. The Murdaugh Fascination: A Theatrical Analysis

Delivering the Goods
The Murdaugh Fascination: A Theatrical Analysis
The Murdaugh saga has been featured, some would say sensationalized, on Netflix, HBO, and in other documentaries and podcasts, popularizing the pull of the trial that has seized the nation. In general, murder cases draw interest because of the level and gruesomeness of the crime and often riveting storylines. But compared to others, the Murdaugh trial had more in store for us than the usual, bringing additional seductive components that heightened our enthrallment.
From myths and religion to water cooler gossip and kitchen table conversations, we love good stories. With the ensnaring question of whodunnit, mystery stories afford us ample opportunity to wonder, to ponder, in our eagerness to solve the case. A murder trial lets us travel down many lines of questioning, like the Murdaugh defense's “two gunmen” theory, putting the pieces of the puzzle in place until a picture emerges, one that makes sense. Like an Agatha Christie novel adapted to the stage, a murder trial coaxes us to look ahead, to imagine how it might conclude. How will the jury decide? What will be our verdict?
Murder is both a high crime and a personal one. But Murdaugh yielded more: familicide. This aspect carried great allure. We ached to understand the motive behind Alex's criminal deeds; in his depravity he seemed to descend to new historical depths. Since he took the stand in his own defense, a seldom used legal strategy for accused murderers, we got to know him better than we might other defendants. We listened to character witnesses, his son Buster, his brother John Marvin, to discern motive, to uncover truths.
One of the truths we uncovered was the sensational backstory that Murdaugh offered. The eleven-month 1995 OJ trial, to which Murdaugh is readily compared, came up short in this regard. But the plot line of Murdaugh's backstory coughed up plenty scandalous gems: scores of financial crimes, drug addiction, a multi-generational collapse, and most salaciously, three more corpses. Some argue that without the boat accident that killed Mallory Beach, the calamity of familicide may have been avoided. Only the Beach death, effected by Alex's inebriated scion Paul, was barely suggested in the Murdaugh trial, the other two bodies not even appearing as apparitions, so we sated our curiosity appetites by gorging ourselves on a host of other digital resources.
Taking place in the digital age, Murdaugh set itself apart from the OJ spectacle. With the Internet at our fingertips, we replayed evidence at whim. From Alex's prison telephone calls, to his alibi-shattering kennel video, to his recorded interrogations, we parsed his words and body language, with experts guiding us along the way. In reference to Paul, whose brain escaped its skull largely intact, did Alex say, “I did him so bad!” or “They did him so bad!”? We repeatedly listened, judged, and wondered how anyone could interpret it otherwise. So many questions demanded answers; each sentence encapsulated a puzzle to solve.
In this live-streamed whodunnit, we grew into armchair jurors. With our knowledge of the case, we decided the value of the evidence, the veracity of statements, the weight of emotions. In short, it was interactive drama. But unlike the twelve in the box, we could discuss passionately our opinions with friends and others on social media. We compared notes as we progressed through the witnesses and pieces of evidence, all the while racing to judgment. As laymen we knew better than the coroner, dubbed Dr. Armpit, how to determine time of death. We were convinced that we could have conducted experiments more scientifically sound than did the expert witness, Mr. Frisbee Fone-flip. So often did we intone: I could have done better!
But to the many questions we juggled in our minds we didn't always get satisfactory answers. For many of us, Alex's motive for the crimes eluded clear demarcation. Was his world really collapsing around him, as Prosecutor Waters laid out? Were his financial pressures enough to drive him to gun down his wife, Maggie, and Paul? Was his marriage about to crumble? Where did all the stolen money go? The open questions left us psychological room to maneuver. In our minds, the mystery continued.
The courtroom morphed into a stage for this Shakespearean tragedy: the mighty fall from grace of the prominent Southern lawyer and legal dynasty. For nearly a century, the Murdaughs were the law, deciding who to prosecute. And now the tables had turned; the stage had reversed, as if through a mechanical system of levers and pulleys instead of one that impedes through influence the wheels of justice. We gasped in awe at the predicament, the unfolding of events that when viewed individually – the lies and drugs, the stealing, the recklessness – seemed abhorrent, but when linked sequentially, viewed causally, ending in a double family murder, defied belief. The real-life drama sucked us in.
As is often the case in high profile trials, the venue served as the nexus of a legion of themes: jurisprudence, criminology, psychology, sociology, history and more. We viewed the actions in the courtroom, this theater in the round, through multiple lenses. Historical Murdaugh iconography removed from view; the pull of Southern social power on witnesses and law enforcement; psychological drivers of the crimes; legal cat-and-mouse strategies inching the trial forward. Multifaceted perspectives danced kaleidoscopically before our eyes. We were bedazzled.
When Shelly Smith, caretaker of Alex's mother, took the stand, she broke down in tears. Speaking of the Murdaugh family, she told us, “They good people.” In her testimony her worlds collided. She could not resolve the evidence with her personal history working for the man soon to be sentenced to two consecutive life terms. Moreover, Alex's social influence could not sway her to change her truth. In her tears we saw the confluence of so many forces in her life and, by extension, in our lives. The trial brought into high relief the interplay of circumstance and human intention. All the world's a stage...and Shelly played her part.
Trials of magnitude force us to focus intently on interpretation of evidence. We exercise daily our interpretative skills, appraising body language, words, and actions of friends and strangers alike. But the Colleton County courthouse homed in on all of that with high resolution, enormous stakes, and play-by-play commentary in case we needed – or desired - it. Many of us did, again and again. We relished comparing our interpretations to those of the experts, who often provided insightful commentary and crackerjack knowledge most of us lacked. The spectacle of the trial ripened into a learning experience, the courtroom metamorphosed into a classroom.
And it was in this classroom that we tested ourselves. We evaluated our knowledge of the facts of the case. We pitted our interpretation of events against emerging testimony. Most importantly, we assessed our own judgment of human nature. While we analyzed the trial's actors, we engaged in self-reflection. And, in this sense, we put ourselves on trial.
In sum, the Murdaugh murder trial tantalized us on so many levels, advancing a ravishing display of attractions: a criminal backstory, dotted with a chain of corpses; the collapse of a historically powerful clan; the question of motive and depth of moral depravity; stolen fortunes; the live-streamed mystery of a whodunnit; the appeal of participating in these Internet-fueled interactive theatrics; and at its core, the role of guns, drugs, money, social influence, and lack of accountability. In essence, we all had front row seats to witness masterpiece theater authored, packaged, and delivered under the name of Murdaugh. This trial forged compelling narrative, juicy water cooler gossip, and possible fodder for yet another Grisham bestseller. To be sure, more chapters are yet to be written. And we simply can't put this real-life dramatic page-turner down - because, in a nutshell. it is a story about us.
EDIT: Delivering the Goods. The Murdaugh Fascination
First, my gratitude to the mods and y'all for the journey and your kind words. I reveled in reading your comments and learning from your insights, occasionally wondering what David Foster Wallace would have thought of us entertaining ourselves to death, particularly at the expense of a double homicide. Moreover, I have now familiarized myself with the meaning of TLDR, and we can now put that baby to bed.
But truthfully, my piece was far too short. My AP English teacher would have verbally slapped me silly for my glaring omissions. For what is a theatrical analysis of a tragedy without discussion of the protagonist's Achilles' heel?
This point, to my understanding, has received little attention from our many commentators. Maybe I simply missed it among all the digital outlets. Alex's fatal flaw was clearly his hubris. His was a hubris that coursed through his family history, found its way into his veins, and spilled over into a double homicide. That he consented to three interrogations is comprehensible only if we believe he had convinced himself that he could sweet talk his way out of the picture. Surely, he performed a cost-benefit analysis of speaking with law enforcement. He weighed his skills as a well-practiced hoodwinker against the suspicion that would have shone on him had he not cooperated with SLED. He rolled the dice and lost.
But he lost only just barely. And this point too has received little shrift. Without the kennel video, by any analysis Alex would be a free man. Imagine: the brazen brutality of two shotgun blasts to Paul and the many Blackout bullet rips through Maggie - and Alex would have walked if not for the technology, the off-hand concurrence, that let Paul “testify from the grave,” as Prosecutor Meador informed the jurors in closing arguments.
Was I alone awash in tears as we listened to Meador's words? Google won't tell me how often murder victims have nailed perpetrators a posteriori. But considering this synchronism in the Murdaugh case – wow! It can proselytize a deep-rooted atheist tout de suite.
And Alex continued to talk. Most likely, he felt his back was against the wall and needed to explain away his lying alibi, and so he took the stand. And again, with another roll of the dice, he lost. One of you posted a link to Lawyer Natalie (thanks!), who gave her arguments as to why this was a mistake. In her analysis, James the Juror said it plainly, in replying to the question, why he voted Alex guilty: his responses.
There we have it: without Alex's responses, his testimony, a larger doubt would have remained in the jury's collective mind, possibly enough to tip the scales in his favor. So, again, even with Paul's tombstone testimony, Alex still had a shot at walking free had he not taken the stand. Far from being a slam dunk, his conviction rested on his own missteps, (talking to SLED and testifying), which he could have easily avoided but for his arrogance, and the fortuitous find of the kennel video.
Possibly you have found your own omissions that need addressing. But the ending to my essay needs amending, too:
….because, in a nutshell, it is a story about us, 'both as individuals and as a nation.'
The drama on the individual level I addressed to some degree in the essay. But zoom out and the Murdaugh saga quickly morphs into a metaphor for the morally bankrupt state of our society. I hinted at this previously, but let's flesh it out a bit.
At the risk of being overtly political (stop me before I pull a Norfolk Southern!), let's view Alex in the broader context of American society.
In a nation obsessed by guns, in 2021 Alex added two more individuals to the tally of over 40,000, over 100 per day, laid low by a pull of the trigger. And if we throw in the nation's addiction to drugs, we find the number of overdoses in 2021: over 100,000 (how many due to the Sackler family?). Not that drugs necessarily killed any one in this saga, but they played seemingly more than a modest role. From his ingestion of so many opiates, maybe it was that “monster” that Alex had become, as Judge Newman suggested, his calm belying the visual horror.
If we continue down this path of analysis and observe the inequality of money (ie. greed) in America, to use the first fun fact that google offers: in 2019, 79% of the wealth in America was owned by millionaires and billionaires. In the same year, three people had more wealth than the bottom half of all Americans. Quiz time: name the three. (I failed my own quiz). Do we have to invoke the Middle Ages for an apt comparison? But whether Alex's financial crimes were driven by his drug involvement or pure greed, take a look around (as two banks go under): Alex is symbolic for a run amok America. My reading of the evidence bears this out. How about yours?
Social influence and lack of accountability are more difficult to quantify, and I see I am running up against the clock here. So, I will leave it to you to sort those ones out. But one of you posted a comment to the effect of: the higher-ups need a few more convictions for their crimes. I agree. But part of the problem is, as you know, their actions aren't necessarily criminal. They write the laws.
So, again, thanks for your comments and encouragement in suggesting I write for a living. Much of my interest in this case rests on the fact that I have far too much time on my hands. So, if you have any openings in your university departments, start-up cubicles, or Hollywood features (am I breaking Reddit rules?), just let me know. I have many other talents to offer, but please note: I don't do windows.
And if it's not too late, it must be time to awaken that TLDR baby.
Peace, y'all.
submitted by quartzgirl71 to MurdaughFamilyMurders [link] [comments]


2023.03.10 01:29 BacidiaGlory Initial Impressions: Renav Goods Sidezips

Renav Goods Sidezips
Specs:
Zipper boots
Normal height
Superlux horsebutt
A1 last
Unstructured toe (an absolute must in my book)
Veldtschoen 270
Woodsman heel
Redbrown halfsole
Antique brown welt and edge
Cost: 495 (+ paypal fees). Half paid upfront, half paid before being shipped. I don't know if pricing has changed, but to me, this is a hell of a deal.
Renav Instagram post (I was honored to see them. Hilarious he calls me Mr. T btw)
https://www.instagram.com/p/Cpckkttvygh/?hl=en
Hey all. Second review here. Let's see if I can be a bit better this time! Tried to be better with pictures-- maybe I'll get the hang of this at some point. I went a solid 5+ years without taking a singular picture of myself, now I find myself taking pictures most days. Feel like I'm trying to merge onto a freeway where everyone is going 120mph.
Ordering/Talking about Indonesian companies
Ordering is simultaneously both the fun and frustration with the Indonesian companies. I really wanted (more) side zip boots. I have a pair of Tecovas, but it's sorta different. I would kill for a pair of Viberg sidezips. Rolling Dub Trio Gleaners seemingly very hard to get a hold of. Long story short, sidezips are not easy to get ahold of. The options out there are far and few between. So that coupled with my love of customization/small boot makers, directly led me (back) to the Indonesian boot companies. After poking around a bit, I decided on both Benzein, now Briselblack, and Renav as options. Was going to place an order for sidezips with both companies, but Benzein was going through their transition stuff, so they weren't taking orders. Settled with "just" ordering pair of sidezips from Renav.
If you haven't ordered through Indonesian companies (and have the gumption to deal with the negatives), I highly recommend it. I know others won't recommend it for newer people in the boot game, but to me, ordering from the Indonesian companies is some of the most fun you can have with boots. Many options and it's all up to you. I love the interesting leather options I see and have read coming out of Indonesia.
Ordering specifically with Renav, I just reached out on WhatsApp and told him "Hey would love to order pair of sidezips" and we conversed from there. One of my favorite things about the ordering process is how I was conversing with a real person. Just conversing with a real person, trying to figure out what boots I wanted and how. There was no formality with email endings like "Thank you, [customer service rep]" I don't know. Think it's awesome lol. Sorry, a lot of talking here. Think the experience with the Indonesian companies is a bit more than just buying a pair of boots though, trying to encapsulate that.
Placed order in October, got quoted to be done in January. Ended up being finished very end of February, shipped early March. Honestly, no complaints here. I am patient. I want craftsmanship. I'll wait.
Initial Impressions
Leather: Renav sent me his list of all leathers he had. I didn't have a specific leather in mind, just that horsebutt is clearly objectively the best leather of all time and nothing can even come close. In the list, I saw he had "Superlux horsebutt" from Cloe and had never heard of it. Sounded sweet. Decided to go with it after Renav sent me a picture. In person, I think the leather is fantastic. Gorgeous grain without being over the top. Subtle yet noteworthy.
Welt/Sole: I love veldtschoen welts. I think they look amazing. Functionally, I really have not immersed myself in what the best welting is-- and truthfully, I don't care. For me (and almost all of you), this is all aesthetics. Think it looks awesome. As for edge, antique edging is my go to for everything. For the sole, I honestly don't have much of a preference. The redbrown half soles are nice, but I probably would have been happy with almost anything lol.
Sizing/Comfort: I think the sizing is fantastic with initial review and walking around for a bit. Renav nailed it. I took measurements, pictures, and went from there. I told some generic guidelines but I was mostly just letting Renav figure it out. He told me he was going to go with 28.5cm last and adjusted the ball of the foot to accommodate for my feet.
QC: I gave these an immediate ocular pat down and was very impressed by the QC. I don't see anything obviously wrong with them. I'm really not one to inspect for perfect stitching and what not, but nonetheless, I was impressed.
TLDR;
Fantastic experience start to finish. I see people in this subreddit asking about Sidezips quite a bit. If you are somebody who can deal with the risk of customization/sizing of Indonesian companies, I think Renav Sidezips should absolutely be on your radar.
Would love to answer any questions or take anymore pictures if people would like.
Also, my cat, Dashal, doesn't understand the hype. He's unimpressed, like always. Win some, lose some.
submitted by BacidiaGlory to goodyearwelt [link] [comments]


2023.03.09 23:05 dianamoser I’m a nail tech and here are my shorties! Both hands are different. I have no patience to encapsulate my dominant hand with my non-dom hand lol

I’m a nail tech and here are my shorties! Both hands are different. I have no patience to encapsulate my dominant hand with my non-dom hand lol submitted by dianamoser to Nails [link] [comments]


2023.03.09 06:05 Determination7 An Outcast In Another World (Subtitle: Is 'Insanity' A Racial Trait?) [Fantasy, LitRPG] - Chapter 178 (Book 5 Chapter 4)

The Next Day
Purging the Merfolk of their Corruption went so smoothly that it made Orn'tol anxious. He wasn't alone in that regard; up until the moment where he, Malika, Rob, and Keira returned home with Waymark, all four of them had been half-anticipating some disaster or betrayal to arise from nowhere. It was only after Waymark safely deposited them in Acrastor City that Orn'tol allowed himself to believe the Merfolks' gratitude was real. Today, no one would need to die.
The thought released a tension in his chest that he hadn't known he was holding. Spirits lifted, Orn'tol quickly sought out Meyneth. Back when Rob was busy Purging Corruption, Orn'tol had used that time to envision several battle strategies involving his Party's new Skills. He'd assumed that Meyneth, as the oldest and most experienced member of Riardin's Rangers, would be able to help him refine his ideas even further.
Perhaps he shouldn't have been surprised when the waves of his optimism immediately broke against the rocks of a firm, blunt denial.
"Are you sure that our Skills would lack synergy?" Orn'tol queried, trying not to sound discouraged. "Temporal Trap and Temporal Freeze have proven useful in a variety of scenarios."
Meyneth shook her head. "Don't misinterpret me. When I say that there's little point in employing our Skills together, it isn't because yours are inadequate – rather, they're so valuable that they should be combined with more effective options."
Orn'tol's mouth fell open. Was that...praise? While not unwelcome, he wasn't quite sure how to proceed. What was someone supposed to do when praised? Deny it so he wouldn't come across as arrogant? Accept it so that she would feel her judgement was sound? Offer commensurate praise so that she wouldn't lose confidence in herself?
Wracked with indecision, he went a full, shameful second without responding. Orn'tol knew he was overthinking everything, but he couldn't help it. Conversations with people other than Malika and Rob often felt like treading through Mine-laden fields. The last thing he wanted to do was say the wrong thing and sour her mood.
Mercifully, the Dragonkin seemed ignorant of his turmoil, speaking on as if he hadn't faltered. "Temporal Trap releases a time-slowing cloud in a large area, and Temporal Freeze puts a target in stasis for several seconds," she continued. "As you've stated, those Skills have proven useful on many occasions. They can be utilized both offensively and defensively, setting up our Party for massively damaging attacks or allowing us to escape from moments of critical danger."
She glanced at her claws. "That is why combining your Temporal abilities with my skillset would be counter-intuitive. Leap and Shadow Walk let me engage and disengage at will, and while I can deal high damage with Armor Rend and Chosen Target, freezing an enemy in place won't benefit me as much as it would – for example – Keira. Her Ragnarok is significantly easier to hit on a frozen enemy, and it far outpaces my strongest offensive capabilities."
"That's true," Orn'tol assented, relieved they were talking about people other than him now. "Um, out of curiosity – your original, un-Awakened Class was Thrasher, correct?"
"Indeed. To answer the question shaping within your mind; Skills such as Shadow Step and Chosen Target aren't typical for the Class." A wry smirk formed on her lips. "Nor are they typical for most Dragonkin. My people seldom pursue avenues that would be more befitting of an Assassin. It's not quite dishonorable, but you'll always find less glory in the shadows than on the front lines."
"Yet despite being a Thrasher and a Dragonkin, you learned Assassin Skills?"
Her smirk faded slightly. "It is said that sometimes, people's life experiences and desires can override the inherent framework of their Class. Rob is living proof of that. This phenomenon is also why my Class's Awakened form is called 'Executioner'. I doubt that other Thrashers who underwent Awakenings would receive the same title and bonuses."
Orn'tol didn't ask who Meyneth was intending to Execute. If she wanted to talk about it, she would. She did seem despondent, though, so he said the first thing he thought of that might improve her mood. "I believe the Skills were trying to help you," he offered. "They wouldn't have given you abilities that went against your Class without a reason. They were responding to your desires in the best way they knew how."
Meyneth grimaced and lowered her eyes. All too late, Orn'tol realized that bringing up the Skills in this fashion was never likely to improve someone's mood. It was a strange, horrifying thing to know that the Skills they drew power from were actually the imprisoned souls of long-dead people, all with tortured wills of their own. His awareness of the truth was like a haunting specter, constantly hovering beside his ear, whispering reminders whenever he began to grow comfortable in his own skin again.
Without Diplomacy's repeated assurances that the Skills wanted to be used – so they could eventually be freed – some members of Riardin's Rangers might have sworn off combat entirely.
"I pray that you are right," Meyneth finally said. "If the Skills have granted me these abilities out of sympathy, then I will use them with...pride." She hesitated at the end, muscles taut, before relaxing. "Regardless. You understand my reasoning about our Skill synergy, correct?"
Orn'tol seized the opportunity to discuss their original topic like a starving man diving for a fallen scrap of food. "Yes! I do, yes." He made sure to smile. "You didn't need to overstate my Skills just to plump up my ego, though. Your abilities are extremely valuable as well." A measured amount of humility is the proper way to handle this, I think.
She raised an eyebrow. "Orn'tol, aside from Rob, you're the most important member of our Party."
His cozy humility exploded in his face like a crate of Firebombs. "What?!"
"For all our talk of my nonstandard Class Skills, I'd never even heard of abilities such as Temporal Trap or Freeze before meeting you. They may be unique to you, and you alone. Then there's Flight of the Coward, which affords you unparalleled battlefield mobility when retreating. Then there's Sharing Hand's bonus EXP, which – to be candid – would earn you a permanent spot in any other Party even if you were Level 1."
She shrugged, as if her claim was the most logical thing in the world. "Am I wrong?"
"Others are higher-Level than me," Orn'tol reflexively blurted out. "More experienced. Keira is-"
"Keira is a hammer," Meyneth stated. "An exceptionally powerful hammer, yet a hammer nonetheless. Like a hammer, she has but one objective: hit the nail. Kill the enemy. Your Skills, Orn'tol, bestow options and advantages that no one else possesses. If Keira died tomorrow, or I died, or Zamira died, we could theoretically train up a suitable replacement."
Her voice took on an argumentative edge. "Not so with you. Show me where else we can find a Combat Class user with the ability to slow enemies and rapidly boost our Party's EXP growth."
Orn'tol was left speechless. None of that felt right to him, but he didn't know how to win a debate with Meyneth when she got like this.
He was rescued by the door to their room bursting open, revealing a cheerful Elven woman who appeared to be about Meyneth's age. "Hi there, Meynie!" She practically skipped inside, uncaring of Orn'tol's hastily-drawn bow or Meyneth's extended claws.
...Meynie? Orn'tol cast Identify on the woman, marking her as a Level 12 Artisan. Was this one of Meyneth's few Elven friends he'd heard of? Truth be told, Orn'tol had halfway assumed they didn't actually exist, although he was wise enough not to admit so out loud.
"Greetings, Diantha," 'Meynie' said, sighing as she retracted her claws. "I seem to recall instructing you to knock before entering my room. Our Party has run into trouble with unwanted visitors as of late."
There was no small amount of exasperation in her tone, but it was balanced by an underlying fondness, which Diantha obviously picked up on. "Oh, come now," the Elven woman laughed. "What's the worst harm that could befall a Party as strong as yours?"
Meyneth's eye twitched. "Tell me why are you here."
"To see you off, of course."
"How did you know that we're leaving?" Orn'tol asked, in an attempt to gain footing in the conversation.
The Elven woman looked at him, smiling brightly. "I didn't," she confessed, "but Meyneth always runs off on adventures without telling us, so it was an easy guess to make. Don't you think that's just plain rude of her?"
Before Orn'tol could respond, she leaned forward, eyes glimmering as she cast Identify. "Oh! You're Orn'tol the archer boy." Diantha nodded. "Congratulations on clearing Level 60. Very impressive." She turned towards Meyneth again. "What message would you like to relay to Saria and Velia? They'll be upset you didn't meet with them."
Meyneth sent a furtive glance at Orn'tol. "Tell them..." She sighed. "Tell them to be well in my absence."
Diantha's smile widened. "That definitely sounds like a Meynie sort of message." She turned back, exiting through the doorway. "I won't intrude on your talk any longer – say hi to your Party members for me!"
And then, like a sudden storm, she left as quickly as she'd come. Orn'tol blinked several times, his head nearly spinning from the mental whiplash. It was probably why he spoke without thinking. "Meynie?"
"...Please keep this to yourself," Meyneth said, shuffling uncomfortably. A hint of embarrassment snuck into her posture. "They started calling me that one day, and I haven't been able to make them stop. As you can see, meager things like 'impropriety' or 'vast differences in Levels' barely seem to concern them."
For the third time, Orn'tol was rendered speechless. Not because of the nickname, but because of Meyneth's demeanor. He still remembered how she'd been when Rob first brought her into the Party; shy, taciturn, and with an almost palpable sense of self-loathing about her. While shades of that old Meyneth yet remained, she'd improved markedly from before. This Meyneth could take friendly banter in stride.
This Meyneth had friends.
It made Orn'tol realize how much some of his Party members had changed since Rob's arrival eight months prior. Keira still loved battling, but she wasn't as filled with rage as she was in The Village. Zamira had changed to the Class she truly yearned for, and showed her emotions more openly. Vul'to had faced a terrible ordeal, and was overcoming it. Rob went from only thinking of survival to accepting great responsibilities that would have crushed others. Faelynn, although Orn'tol hadn't known her as long, was slowly gaining confidence in herself. Malika...
Well, Malika was more unshackled than changed. She'd always been ostentatious on the inside, and now she could express it as she pleased. As her brother, it was everything he'd wished for her.
But what of me?
"Meyneth?" Orn'tol began, hesitantly. He needed to ask this before his resolve gave way to embarrassment. "Have I changed? Discounting combat and Levels. Have I changed?"
She stared at him, taking a few seconds to comprehend his meaning. "Not particularly."
"...Oh."
"That isn't a bad thing," she clarified, after observing his reaction. "Maybe you were different before I joined Riardin's Rangers, but ever since I've known you, you've consistently been reliable, fair, honest, and hard-working. If anything, the true accomplishment you should be proud of is that – despite achieving a high Level at an early age – you haven't changed. Most people in your position would've grown arrogant and pigheaded. Personally, I am quite pleased that you are largely the same Orn'tol I met half a year ago."
That was several compliments too many. Orn'tol hurriedly muttered his thanks, then dashed out the door, hoping that Meyneth hadn't seen the flare of red in his face.
--
This is the life.
A gentle breeze blew through Rob's hair, perfectly encapsulating how he felt in that instant. He took a second to soak in the sensations of Keira's head leaning on his shoulder, the warm sunlit rays, and the silence of an early morning where few people had yet to drag themselves out of dreamland.
Pure bliss. Enough to ignore the void horizon blotting out the majority of the sky, even. To give Elatra the tiny amount of credit it was due, this was the type of unique moment that he'd never experienced back home. Partially because he and Keira were laying on a public rooftop, which was illegal in most states, but why sweat the details?
As if reading his mind, Keira spoke up. "Have the dimension mages made any progress on creating a portal to Earth?" While she assuredly knew the answer – Rob would've been cursing up a storm if progress was stalled – she also knew that talking about it always put him in a good mood.
"They have." Rabid butterflies swirled in Rob's stomach as he imagined speaking to his parents and Jason once more. "It'll take the mages a bit longer, but every day is another step forward. Only a matter of time now."
He could feel her cheeks rising into a smile. "That's fantastic. I'm happy for you."
"Thanks. I'm happy for me, too." Understatement of the century.
They both trailed off into comfortable silence. Several minutes passed where Rob thought of absolutely nothing.
It was glorious.
Sadly, his brain eventually booted up again. "Urian is close to an Enchanted Item breakthrough," he said, remembering that he hadn't told anyone yet. "Says he's working on 'something big'. It'll be done...soon, I guess? Do you know what influences an Artificer's rate of progress?"
"Not in the slightest," Keira answered. "I don't think Urian truly knows, either. His field is more of an art than a science."
"That's fine. We can be patient."
She nodded. "And all of our other business is taken care of?"
"Just waiting on the Overseers to set up the next big meeting this afternoon."
Keira tapped her fingers on the rooftop. "We should do something to fill our last day of boredom."
"Boredom, huh?" Rob stretched, letting out an Oscar-worthy sigh. "I wouldn't call it that. Connotations are too negative. How about Peace? Rest and Relation? A much-needed cessation of insanity?"
"It was all those things." She grinned. "Then I grew bored."
Rob did a quick mental count. "Keira, it's only been nine days since we fought the Leviathan." He froze. "Oh my god, it's already been nine days since we fought the Leviathan. How did time go by so fast?"
Keira pointed up at the sky. "You'll be granted a longer respite once we've ripped their souls asunder. Consider it your spoils of war."
So if I murder the divine pantheon, I get more vacation days? Rob chuckled. If I didn't already have a million other motives, that alone would've been enough. "Well, if you want to make today count...nothing beats spending time with you. Let's go on a date."
Her smile deepened. "Words worthy of Diplomacy. You know, I think the broom closet should be unattended right now."
"...As tempting as that is, I meant an actual date." He allowed himself a minor sense of pride at having triumphed over his libido. "The kind where we hang out and do random shit that turns into fond memories. There hasn't been much of a chance for that recently."
Keira hummed to herself. "I like the idea, but what would we do that's better than laying here and enjoying each other's company?"
And wasn't that the million-dollar question. The worst part of Elatra, besides the eldritch abominations, malicious gods, ravenous monsters, Leveling High, hostile locals – okay, the fifteenth-worst part of Elatra was that it could be jarringly boring at times. There was no internet or Netflix to keep Rob occupied while alone, and even their most bustling cities struggled to match the hangout choices provided by a simple college campus. In general, Elatra's entertainment industry was severely stunted compared to Earth, owing to lesser technology and people's efforts being focused on trying to survive.
Let's see, he thought, tabulating a list. There are restaurants, which is an option, although Zamira would kill me if I 'endorsed' a place before her father opened up his. The theater houses are fun, but they're closed until Fiendland fully recovers from the Titan's Fist evacuation. There's the marketplace, which has...some random stuff to browse we don't care about. No festivals planned for another month...escape rooms haven't been invented...
"Damn," Rob muttered. "I'm coming up blank. We'd just be wandering around the city while people point at us and gasp."
Keira fell silent for a few moments. "...Honestly? That sounds incredibly amusing."
--
She was right. Mostly.
Rob felt like Moses parting the Red Sea as he and Keira made their way through Acrastor City. The markets were bustling with activity, just as anticipated. He and Keira had waited hours before heading out to ensure that the streets were as crowded as possible. After all, why go people watching when there were no people around?
In retrospect, that might've been overkill, Rob thought, as he watched the frankly comical effect their presence had inspired. The first Fiends who'd seen them immediately spread news of their arrival, causing entire streets to have cleared a path before Rob and Keira even set foot in them. A bit of guilt crept into Rob's conscience as he saw hundreds of people squashed to the sides, almost like sardines in a can. He'd intended to make their day slightly more interesting, not completely throw it off its axis.
On the other hand, their pointed fingers, soap-opera gasps, and open mouths of shock were objectively funny. It was all Rob could do not to laugh, because he knew laughing would just make things worse. Some of the more sensitive bystanders would totally interpret it as Rob laughing at them, specifically, then spend forever agonizing why the hero of Fiend territory thought they were such a joke.
At least Keira didn't seem conflicted. She was reveling in the attention, striding forward like a lioness who knew she was at the top of the food chain. It did a lot to improve Rob's mood; he could give-or-take the star treatment, but if she was happy, then he was happy.
Still, he mused, as a child's eyes widened to the size of dishplates. This is going to take some getting used to. When Rob was Level 50 to 60, he'd often been mobbed for autographs whenever he traveled in public. It'd been exasperating, albeit in a fond way. Apparently, 50 to 60 was the Level limit for approachability, as the Fiends' perception of him had changed dramatically since he killed the Corrupted Leviathan and soared from Level 67 to 80. Before, it was celebrity worship, and now it was just...
Worship.
That was the only word Rob could think of to describe how the Fiends were looking at him. Less like he'd leaped off the pages of a storybook, and more like he'd fallen from the heavens themselves. It was common knowledge that he'd heralded Fiendland's salvation on multiple occasions. Additionally, being Level 80 was like carrying around a flashing neon sign labeling him as the second-strongest person in Elatra. To put that in perspective, the sole person stronger than him was so powerful that she warped international relations merely by existing.
For a brief, awful moment, Rob understood a fraction of why the Dragon Queen had turned out the way she did. No one should be looked at like this. Rob knew he was just some shitlord from the States, a habitual twitter scroller who'd seen plenty of celebrities crash and burn when their vanity got the best of them – and despite that foreknowledge, he could still feel the Fiends' reverential gazes burrowing into his mind, like little worms of arrogance infesting his ego.
Their shocked gasps seemed less funny, now.
Message Sent to Party Member: Keira Rob: u mind if we do something normal ? Keira: Normal? I'm not sure I follow. Rob: were in a market Rob: lets, i dont know, buy something Rob: cause this is startin to get a lil weird
Keira shrugged, then gestured towards a random market stall. Rob followed her lead, the Red Sea parting once more to reveal a single gobsmacked Fiend. Admirably enough, the man hadn't abandoned his stall, holding strong as living legends walked up to greet him. "M-may I be of assistance?" the vendor squeaked.
Rob glanced down at what was on display. Small, cooked animals were lined in several rows, pierced by thin wooden sticks. A quick Identify informed him that they were rigzets, essentially Fiendland's version of squirrels. Doesn't look very appetizing to me, he thought, but I'm willing to try new things. "How much?"
Message Sent From Party Member: Keira Keira: Did you bring funds? Keira: I wasn't anticipating we'd purchase anything. Rob: ... Rob: oh shit i forgot were broke
"No no no!" the vendor sputtered, in a panic. "I couldn't charge either of you. You're...you're our saviors."
Rob was tempted to take the man up on his offer, but he'd stopped at this food stall to feel normal, damnit, and getting freebies wasn't that. With a flash of sparkling mana motes, Rob produced an HP Potion from his Spatial Storage and placed it next to the rigzets. "How's that for a fair trade?" he said, putting on his PR-friendly smile.
He received yet another open mouth in response. Suppressing a sigh, Rob grabbed the closest rigzet and took a bite.
Five years ago, Rob had visited a local diner with his parents. It was meant to be a fun family outing, or so they said. At the time, Rob had been annoyed that Jason couldn't tag along, as he'd wanted to discuss the latest and greatest superhero movie with him.
By the end of his meal, he was extremely happy that Jason wasn't there. Rob wouldn't have subjected his worst enemy – let alone his best friend – to the implements of torture disguised as food that diner served them. The sponge cake was the worst of it, his idealistic thoughts of I'm Willing To Try New Things dying a stillborn death once his tongue sampled an unknown material that was both springy and foul. Rob and his parents left that diner vowing never to return, but it was too late. What had been eaten could not be uneaten.
Rob recalled that incident the moment he bit into the charred rigzet. While it tasted nothing like the sponge cake, it answered a question he'd asked himself those five years prior: Will I ever eat something this terrible again?
The answer was a resounding yes.
Here was the problem, though. If he expressed his very honest, very valid opinions, the poor Fiend vendor in front of him would suffer for years to come. He'd be marked as the man who fed Fiendland's savior bad food. At minimum he'd wind up shutting down his business, at worst...who knows. Elatrans were fucking crazy. They had to be, to eat things like this.
And so Rob summoned up every last iota of his willpower, kept his poker face steady, and performed his most heroic act since detonating Titan's Fist at close range: he chewed. Once, twice, thrice. "Not bad," he said, the lie slipping from his mouth with the effort of a martyr kneeling onto an executioner's block.
It was almost worth it to see the Fiend's visible relief wash over him in a wave. "It is my pleasure," he professed. "Thank you, Roy."
"We should be thanking you," Keira muffled, in-between chewing her own rigzet. "This is delectable. May I have another?"
She's serious, Rob realized, with dawning horror. That wasn't Keira trying to make the vendor feel better. She actually liked it. Good to know, I guess. Keira has some odd preferences.
Wait, did I just insult myself?
--
The next vendor stall they visited was much less damaging to body and spirit. "I'm looking for two genres," Rob began, speaking to the starstruck bookseller in front of him. "Heroic adventures and tawdry romances. You have anything that fits either of those?"
"Interesting choices," Keira commented, as the bookseller scrambled through her wares. "No judgement – they're my favorite genres as well – but I wouldn't have expected you to be a fan of romance. Not publicly, anyway."
"You do remember that I love trashy TV dramas, right?"
She let out a faux sigh of displeasure. "If only I could forget the tales you've told me. At least the novels I read don't have secret twins lurking around every corner."
"You're missing out," Rob laughed. "These books are for Orn'tol and Malika, though. Wanted to support their new hobbies now that they've taken up interests besides training."
He paused, then turned to the bookseller. "Keep the tawdry romances PG-13. By that I mean no sex scenes that go beyond kissing and a fade to black."
The bookseller promptly removed most of the books she'd been collecting, reducing the stack to a third of its size.
"Thanks." Rob scratched the back of his neck. "Also, uh, do you take HP Potions as payment?"
--
Rob was merely a flawed, mortal man. He wasn't nearly strong enough to hide his amusement over the third vendor stall they visited. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I'm not that tall."
The vendor colored with embarrassment as Rob examined the 'Roy the Savior' action figure from top-to-bottom. "I apologize for-"
"No, no, this is awesome. Handcrafted wood, right?" Rob's grin broadened. "And it comes with a little crate of Firebombs! You really did your research."
From beside him, Keira checked to see if her miniature greatsword was appropriately oversized, nodding in approval when she found that it was nearly as large as the Keira figurine itself.
Once the Fiend vendor was certain he hadn't caused any offense, he sagged with relief. "If it pleases you, then take it. I would never ask for payment from-"
Rob was already dumping a pile of HP Potions in front of him. "Gimme the whole Riardin's Rangers set." Jason is going to lose his shit when he hears about this.
--
The rooftop was exactly as Rob and Keira had left it; refreshingly isolated. Especially for Rob, who'd hit his limit at being gawked at. "What excuse should I give the Overseers when I say we somehow ran out of Potions?" he asked.
Keira nonchalantly waved her hand. "Claim we were attacked by a Blight."
"In broad daylight? In this part of the city? Localized entirely to a passing street brawl?"
"Incredible, isn't it? We were just as surprised as anyone." A warm smile spread across her face. "Thank you, Rob. I had a wonderful time wandering the streets with you. Even learned of some new good food."
Rob grimaced. "Not sure I'd call it good."
"You didn't like the rigzets?"
"Keira..." Rob mulled over how much to say. "It was legitimately the worst thing I've ever eaten in my entire life."
Her smile dimmed. Before Keira could apologize, Rob cut her off – he'd had more than his fill of unnecessary apologies from the Fiend vendors. "And you know what? I'm kind of happy it was so bad. That's better than if it was just mediocre. It's a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life, and I got to share it with you*.*"
She snorted aloud. "You truly believe that?"
"The difference between a bitter memory and a funny story is the people you were with at the time." Rob gestured broadly around them. "Take Elatra, for example. Hate this place, not gonna sugarcoat it, but you're here. Hard to stay miserable when the girl you love is by your side."
Keira rested her head on his shoulder, the corners of her lips rising into a smile. "Has anyone ever told you that you possess some odd preferences, Rob?"
"What, to my face? Yes."
As she was about to reply, both of them received a group Message that derailed their trains of thought in an instant.
Group Message Received Diplomacy: The Grand Overseers are almost ready.
It was all that needed to be said. Rob and Keira nodded to each other, standing up right away. Their final day of boredom had been spent well, but now, there was business to attend to.
Just one more meeting, and it would be time to pay a visit to Harpy territory.
--
Message Continued Rob: I really shouldn't say anything about the gods? Diplomacy: Not this early in a nascent alliance. Diplomacy: Our allies don't fully trust you yet. You'd be viewed as a madman. Diplomacy: While Titan's interference in Dwarven territory could give some credence to your claims, it wouldn't be enough to sway the inborn biases of a society which puts immense faith in its patron deities. Diplomacy: I know you already know this.
Yeah, but it still sucks, Rob grumbled to himself. He'd hoped that Diplomacy would have some magic silver-tongued cheat code to get the Elatran Leaders on board with killing the gods. Baby steps it is. First we make nice with the Harpies, then we kill the Blight and the Dragon Queen, in either order, and THEN I'll start floating the concept of deicide.
The Overseers activated the Message Crystal network right as he finished his thought. Rob stepped forward, placing himself ahead of Riardin's Rangers and the Elders, same as the last meeting. One-by-one, voices sounded off from the Message Crystals as Seneschal Sylpeiros, King Cyraeneus, and representative Nerasi re-introduced themselves.
"Before we begin," King Cyraeneus said. "I must once again offer my sincerest gratitude to Rob. You've done a great service for Merfolk territory; one that we won't soon forget."
Rob smiled sheepishly. "Anytime." Getting praised for Purging Corruption would never get old.
"I'm also highly impressed that you made it back to Fiend territory so quickly," the King continued, with a hint of guile. "You swim as fast as any Merfolk."
"Good cardio will do that," Rob replied, grateful for the lack of a video feed to show his expression. While he'd hid it as best he could, the other territories were starting to figure out how Waymark functioned. Thankfully, he'd been able to prevent them from learning about Fiend teleportation magic, but that could only last for so long. "Anyway, who wants to go first? I'm ready to hear some juicy gossip."
Seneschal Sylpeiros made a noise somewhere between a grunt and a sigh. Something about it immediately put Rob on high alert. "I have two pieces of news to share," the Elven Leader said, in a perfectly measured tone.
"Then don't keep us in suspense," Nerasi impatiently stated.
"You might wish I had." Another grunt-sigh. "First: I've spoken with the Gellin. They have agreed to join our alliance, and will send representatives to accompany us during our travels to Harpy territory."
Rob said nothing. Sylpeiros wouldn't be this out of sorts over good news. If anything, his announcement just caused the tension in the room to rise even further.
"Second..." He hesitated. "My messengers have returned. They successfully spoke to willing contacts in Harpy territory. And...according to them, Harpy King Elnaril has declared war on the Dragonkin."

--

More chapters are available on Patreon.
Thanks for reading!
--
Next Chapter
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2023.03.03 12:02 BratDaddyFreckle I love my new fiery pink brat nails! Swipe to see my previous set (encapsulated trans colour hearts) next to my healing fox tattoo 💙🩷🤍🦊

I love my new fiery pink brat nails! Swipe to see my previous set (encapsulated trans colour hearts) next to my healing fox tattoo 💙🩷🤍🦊 submitted by BratDaddyFreckle to Nails [link] [comments]


2023.03.03 00:43 Western_Cockroach169 How to play an arsehole? - Continued

Hey there, so thank you all so much for the amazing feedback. I’m pumped for tomorrow and have got that mindset nailed down. I could use one more favour though. The actress of Allison also mentioned how she was struggling to show a development of her role. I’ll paste her message here. Any advice, ideas or tips would be greatly appreciated!
“Hey everyone! I’m the actress of Allison and I could also use some help, I want to portray her in a way that shows her devolving and becoming more and more frustrated as the performance goes on. I really want encapsulate that female rage and show her anger without it looking tacky.
She’s got major daddy issues and is very isolated from most people, she suffered a lot of neglect and her older sister (Steph) is engaged to Elliot.
I want to show progress as the continuous sexism takes place over and over repeatedly with how her self control deteriorates but don’t know quite how.”
For info on the story check out the first post
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2023.03.01 22:12 drawricks Just watched the dub premiere, thoughts?

Already quite a good dub to begin. Nathan Wilson nails it as Ataru, really encapsulates his lover boy and jerk attitude. Jade Kelly sounds just right as Lum, I like how her voice becomes energetic everytime she says darling and when she goes berserk, and yes this is her first lead role. But the highlight here is Cat Thomas as Shinobu, and in my view the best voice so far and it's pretty nice how she fluently pronounces Ataru's name. A little fun fact: Cat has theater stage acting experience, and she uses that experience for her anime dubbing roles. Also one of my favorite VA's at Sentai Filmworks, and some her other notable roles are Yui Yuigahama in Oregairu, Faputa in Made in Abyss, and Wiene in Danmachi. Recently, she's playing Yumechi in Akiba Maid War.
A few criticisms I would have is that most of the rest of the characters sound flat, as if they are just reading the script and barely doing real acting, and I hope that improves later on. There is also too much shouting and slapstick on this ngl. Of course, it's too early to make a proper judgment on this dub, as we wait for more characters and how they'll sound.
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2023.03.01 04:42 ForkShoeSpoon A Love Letter to Seyda Neen

I'll try to be brief. (Joke)
A lot of ink has been spilled (or maybe more accurately, a lot of .MP4's have been uploaded) admiring the introduction to Morrowind. Typically, the focus of the discussion is made by unfavorable comparisons with its sequels: Character generation is quick and direct. The player's natural instincts to lift everything not nailed down are used to introduce them to controls and basic concepts using the objects in the first two rooms. You are instructed that your orders are to pursue the main quest, before being plopped outside in this new land, as strange to the character as it is to the player, free to explore, find your destiny, do as you please...
But that's not really what I want to talk about. Beyond gushing about how players are introduced and invited to embrace the freedom of the open world, far less attention is usually given to what Seyda Neen tells you about this strange new world. In my opinion, that is where the game really excels.
While complaints abound about TES IV and V railroading characters into the main quest, Morrowind is actually also guilty of the "sin" of removing player choice -- the first quest anyone encounters begins with being forced to steal Fargoth's ring from where it's been hidden by the local bullies in the Imperial Guard. For most players, the first interaction they have with the world after exiting the tutorial section is with Fargoth, where they're presented with a childishly simple moral dilemma: Fargoth wants his ring. You found his ring. Do you give him his ring? This is the type of "Be Kind / Be Mean" moral dichotomy that later Bethesda games are bemoaned for, but here it serves as a fantastic first introduction to what Morrowind is about: "This game is about making choices." That is the purpose of that stupid little opening quest.
Should you choose to return Fargoth's ring to him, in his joy he tells you to "be sure to visit my friend Arrille in Arrille's Tradehouse!" It is here the player is taught the second thing the developers wanted them to know about this world -- that decisions have consequences. Making decisions to help certain people may make you friends, and those friends will confer benefits. A typical character may find that Arrille now has 70, 80, or even 90 disposition towards them, and intuition (or a glance at the manual) tells players that this means they get better prices from him. It's such a tiny, stupid little quest, but it serves its purpose as an orientation to what Morrowind is about perfectly. Long before you live in a Mushroom House and are banned from public transit, Morrowind flashes warnings at you that this is what the game wants you to do -- to make decisions, pick allies and enemies, and live with the consequences.
Personally, I don't think the game completely lives up to the advertisement of that little opener. Certainly, the game's full of morally grey decisions -- are you Thieves Guild, or are you Fighters Guild? How will you deal with the Telvanni if you join the Mages Guild, and vice versa? Several of the factions have pivotal moments where you are forced to decide something big and serious, about whether to go along and be complicit in something you know to be wrong, or to buck the status quo (several, but by no means all). But, as I'll argue in a minute, big decisions are vanishingly rare in the Main Quest. You can vary your approach to problem solving, you can famously even complete the quest without ever meeting the Imperial Spymaster you're ordered to work for, but beyond this, the Main Quest is a straight line -- you either follow the path charted for you by the heavens (or perhaps meddling Imperial forces, or perhaps meddling Daedra...), or you do not. Where the game truly thrives (and what keeps players coming back) isn't so much decision making in my opinion, but ambiguity and interpretation (further discussion of this point is beyond the scope of this post).
The next likely quest you'll find to guide you along this path of recognizing yourself as a moral agent in Morrowind is given by Vodunius Nuccius, who directs you to his friend Darvame Hleran who runs the local Silt Strider. Darvame Hleran introduces players to the concepts of Morowind's travel services (others have already written more about the value of Morrowind's travel system than I could ever hope to add to). But beyond this introduction, Darvame Hleran tells you Vodunius Nuccius always seems unhappy. Should you choose to confront him with this fact, he confesses his misery is brought on by a cursed ring, and begs you to buy it from him so he can buy the first ticket off Vvardenfell.
This poses a new moral dilemma to the player. The decision about whether or not to return Fargoth's ring is childishly simple. It is Fargoth's ring. You did find it. But now, you're posed with a new dilemma. You are fresh off the boat here (literally). You just got out of prison. You owe this man nothing. Do you give him what may be your last dimes, perhaps ill-gotten gains from fleecing the Census and Excise office of everything that wasn't nailed down? Here, Morrowind asks players the question: Do you wish to be altruistic? Will you, like St. Rilms, give away your shoes solely because someone else needed them? Whether or not the game provides ample opportunities to be altruistic beyond Seyda Neen is another discussion, but this is another wonderful early character defining moment, which may guide your character towards religious factions, or self-assigned quests of liberation...
And speaking of liberation, Darvame Hleran guides the player towards another feature of Seyda Neen -- the smugglers of Addamasartus. "Noone will care if you kill or steal from criminals," she tells you, leading the player towards free exploration, independent dungeon diving, and collecting loot loot loot from the smugglers' dens of the bitter coast and beyond.
But Addamasartus is a perfect place to transition from how Seyda Neen teaches players about mechanics to how Seyda Neen teaches players about the world -- because Addamasartus has slaves. This is another simple moral dilemma for the player (Do you free the slaves? Do you leave them? Do you murder them? Again, a childishly simple choice, but a choice nonetheless). But moreso, it introduces you to the hard facts of the political realities of Morrowind. Freeing these slaves is a no-brainer, as they are held in bondage by wanted criminals -- but slavery itself exists beyond this cave, and this is your first moment witnessing its harsh realities. Conversations with Imperial aligned NPCs in Seyda Neen will teach you that many in the Empire are disgusted with the practice -- but it is the law of the land and not to be tampered with. By allowing the player to revel in the liberation of these first enslaved NPCs, it makes the moral challenges to come all the more difficult. What will the player think or feel when they see the mines of Caldera? Or the (Imperial run) kitchen of the Inn in Gnisis? What will they make of the Hlaalu plantations, or the Telvanni slave markets? Or of Divath Fyr's bodyguard? Tasting the joys of liberation early makes it all the harder for characters to assimilate into the world they've been thrown into, to embrace Dunmer customs which naturally disgust our modern sensibilities.
But Seyda Neen teaches us about moral ambiguity in the Empire as well. The first thing I noticed stepping into the town (other than Fargoth's cheery face) was the squalor of the shacks by the water -- exclusively occupied by the native Dunmer. This is the reality of the Empire the game wants to introduce us to, as it is in Empires across time. The invaders have brought with them luxury and prosperity which they promise to the indigenous, upon whom they seek to impose their ways. The result is what we see in Seyda Neen -- haughty Imperialists live fat and barely hide their disgust at the locals and their customs, while the locals chafe at the Imperial yoke from the poverty they are allotted. Most remember racism in Morrowind as chiefly being a Dunmer characteristic, who in their xenophobia despise even Dunmer outlanders, who may dream of driving out the N'Wah, whose Temples still teach that Beast races are their inferiors. But on the contrary, the game spends an equal amount of time putting the Empire's disgust for their conquered-not-conquered subjects on full display -- the nakedly colonial tone of The Ruins of Kemel-Ze is still some of my favorite worldbuilding in any game, you can see the inspiration from British colonial anthropology.
The two remaining quests in Seyda Neen immerse us further in exploration of the moral stains of the Imperial apparatus. The first is an obvious one -- a local bully in the Imperial Guard wants us to shake down our (possibly) new friend Fargoth. This quest is a simple tool inviting the player to get rich by doing bad, simple as. But the fact that we're being asked to do wicked deeds by the local cops is the cherry on top -- the game is screaming to us that no institution is clean on Vvardenfell, a fact we continue to learn over and over, no matter which questlines we pursue.
But by far my favorite quest in Seyda Neen is the murder of Processus Vitellius, the local tax collector. It is my favorite because it brings everything together perfectly. By the time we've found Processus Vitellius' body, we likely have already learned the other lessons about the world of Morrowind from Seyda Neen -- that the Dunmer are xenophobic slavers, that the Imperials are disgusted with them and lord over them in squalor while gaining from their resources and commerce, that the cops are bullies, and that the tensions under the surface of this society are a powder-keg waiting for a spark. And here we find: The body of the tax collector. What do we do with this information? Do we like the tax collector? Do we like the Empire? Could any of our (perhaps anti-colonial, perhaps anti-slavery) moral convictions justify murder? And do we trust the Imperial authorities, who ask us to shake down the locals for them, to handle this matter?
Of course, we are presented with the dilemma of whether to turn over the gold we find on his body to the Census and Excise office or simply take the money and run. And, if we pursue the quest to its completion, we have the option to sympathize with Foryn Gilnith, who may be thuggish, but whose grievances may also be legitimate, and whose financial plight under the new masters of the Empire is plain to see.
But there's one small detail I want to linger on: Thavere Vedrano, a local Dunmer woman, was in love with Processus Vitellius. I love this detail, so so much. Vedrano is deliberately placed separately from the other local Dunmer, living on her own keeping the local lighthouse. You get the sense that she's perhaps a little lonely, perhaps a little alienated herself, living separate from the opulent Imperials, but also not amongst the poverty of her fellow Dunmer, aloof from social fabric with her books and her view of the Inner Sea to keep her company. And she fell in love with the tax collector. It's just *chef's kiss*, I love love love the simplicity and subtlety in this decision.
And I especially love Thavere Vedrano because she offers a window into the connections you might form with the homeland you've been thrown into with nothing but the clothes on your back. You can never be anything but an outlander. But that doesn't mean you have to be just an Imperial dog. Morrowind defies black and white characterization, and in this simple little romance, barely portrayed, barely characterized, you see a possibility of connection with local customs, a hint that you just might fit in here in your own way.
Which is why I want to wrap up the section with some mild griping about the main quest. Should you visit the Imperial Spymaster, you are told to join some guilds, get experience, and learn more about your new society, which is more wonderful orientation to the game world. But your first two quests have you working for Cyrodiil's CIA to smuggle Morrowind's artifacts into private hands and immediately violate Morrowind's most sacred customs of ancestor worship by stealing the bones of a nobleman and providing them to a necromancer -- which, by that point, you know is a horror to the Dunmer, the most taboo spiritual abomination imaginable. After promising a world of decision making, of navigating morally grey areas, you are given no options to progress the Main Quest other than committing these gross violations (except for killing Vivec, an option you won't know exists until much later). It's as if the game now wishes to say not that it is a game about hard decisions, but a game that simply wants to tell the player it's a dirty world, so get in the muck and roll around little piggy. Whether this was due to developer time constraints, or simply a desire to portray a morally bleak world, I can't say. It's just always been a small disappointment to me.
I want to close by quickly contrasting with a moment in Skyrim. I find most complaints about TES IV and V tedious and exhausting (particularly when they go on for twenty full hours...), but there's a moment in Skyrim's intro that sticks in my mind as a perfect example of what changed between games. If, in Skyrim's opening sequence, you choose to side with the Empire, you will eventually come to an Imperial torture chamber. Your companion, Hadvar, says something to you along the lines of "these are the torture chambers -- by the Eight, I wish we didn't need these..."
This one line encapsulates the different approaches the games take towards moral ambiguity for me. Some of the moral decisions in Seyda Neen are very, very obvious -- some are more challenging and ambiguous (handling the murder of Processus Vitellius in particular). Skyrim was a game that very self-consciously wanted to pivot back to moral greys after the detour to simple moral binaries in Oblivion (Which side of the civil war are you on? And what is your stance towards Paarthurnax? Etc.). But the way it introduces the player to these moral ambiguities is very different. It is afraid that if it does not flash warning signs at the player that some moral greyness is occurring, they might miss it. It is not enough that the Empire is allowing Talos worshippers to be dragged off in the middle of the night -- we must see torture chambers. And players are provided a moral guide, like Virgil in Dante's The Divine Comedy, to remind us aloud that torture is bad, but some think it's necessary.
I don't necessarily think this is a bad decision -- Skyrim's greatest strength is that it is accessible, and that its world is immediately engaging and inviting. That's why it's such a smash hit, and why I love it so much. But it is a difference, and I think it really gets to the core of why Skyrim's world never connected with me the way Morrowind did. Skyrim is full of lore that I think is just neat-o -- but it doesn't like giving the player the freedom to explore moral ambiguity in the same way. Are you pro-racism, or anti-racism? Are you pro-torture or anti-torture? The world of Skyrim seems to present itself not as a hard morally grey world of conflicting feelings and interests comingling (think of the Hlaalu, Great House of Imperialism, Great House of the Camonna Tong, Great House of Slavery, Great House of the Twin Lamps, a Great House of Contradictions and Commerce) than a world of clearly enumerated and enunciated trade-offs, where your goal as a moral agent is to pick the least bad option. Is the Empire stronger united? Will Skyrim be a greater threat to the Thalmor if freed from the Imperial yoke? It is difficult to imagine a kiss snuck between a loathed tax collector and a lonely lighthouse-keeper in such a world, a world that's afraid you'll miss any theme not spoken to you aloud. At least, that's how I feel.
TL;DR: I really love Seyda Neen.
submitted by ForkShoeSpoon to Morrowind [link] [comments]


2023.02.26 21:39 TheJaunted Scathach Talk Part 1.1 - Scandinavian Origins

Intro "here".

1. Skadi and Scathach


I will do whatever I must to protect my world.
— Scathach-Skadi
First matter to be addressed is the canon relationship between Skadi and Scathach. Through it, we get at the heart of my theory and build from there. What came across to most fans as a random fusion between Scathach and a Norse deity, it actually came about as necessity [1]. The first thing that stood out to me about their mixing was a seemingly innocuous difference in their height. This is not unknown, many seem to talk about it as if it made sense. “Scathach must have been young when they were fused”; or something to that effect. However, no one asked why. Why would Scathach have to be young?
Her “locked in” height is a similar to how Pseudo-Servants are formed, themselves under the umbrella of Divided Spirits like Scathach-Skadi, but only if they encompass a piece of a divinity. Pseudo-Servants are a case where deities or heroes without the ability to take on a Ghost Liner themselves rely on the body of a living human to do so, with the stipulation that Pseudo-Servants are Divided Spirits only if they hold a piece of a divinity. This living human vessel has a connection to the Holy Grail War in some way, where the likes of Emiya Shirou, Tohsaka Rin, Kirei Kotomine and Bazett Fraga McRemitz have appeared. In each case, we see the vessel locked into the height they had during their participation in the Holy Grail War. This, however, is where the similarities end, and it’s for two very specific reasons. Before I continue, let’s review the requirements of a Pseudo-Servant under the “divided spirit” category.

  1. Vessel must be a living human.
  2. Vessel must be a living human associated with the Holy Grail War.
  3. With requirements 1. and 2. met, vessel must have a deity possessing them.
Does Scathach-Skadi fit the bill? Surprisingly not! Starting with requirement number one, Scathach-Skadi has the Class Skill “Divine Core of the Goddess”. This is described as “a Skill that expresses one being a perfected goddess from birth. Further, as described when applied to a fellow Divided Spirit Quetzalcoatl:

Although she is purely a Divided Spirit, given that it is not the case where she is possessing a human being, she attains an EX Rank in this Skill.
It’s explicitly stated that Quetzalcoatl is a “purely” a Divided Spirit because she isn’t possessing a human. She is wholly an inhuman being. Scathach-Skadi is ranked as a Divided Spirit, a Servant manifestation, just like Quetzelcoatl. So, how does this Class Skill come to bear with Scathach-Skadi? She ranks lower, but not for the reason you’d think. Scathach-Skadi ranks lower only because Skadi had Giantess as well as Goddess traits. Otherwise, she would have been of equal ranking with Quetzelcoatl. It’s only because of this blending (of Jötunn and Æsir) and nothing else that she ranks lower than her fellow Servant Manifestation. What does that mean? It should be obvious: nothing about her, nor her fusion partner by implication, is human. She wouldn’t be a pure Divided Spirit, a Servant manifestation of a goddess, she’d be a Pseudo-Servant possessing a human.
I want to digress here to flesh out what it’s meant by being “purely a Divided Spirit” via delving into the Shinto origins of the term. The Japanese term provided for the regionalized term “Divided Spirit” is “bunrei”. Loosely translated, this is the act of cutting a kami into portions as well as the term for the apportioned kami [2]. This division is part of a larger processes, a ritual called Kanjō [3]. A kami is seen to be beyond psychical form, but it can be invited into an object for ritual and worship. This object, fused with the kami, is referred to as a “shintai” [4]. This shintai is housed on the grounds of a temple, often in a special cabinet or altar, or even spot on the grounds. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to what can “house” a kami, but are commonly put into magatama, swords, etc. It is through Kanjō where we find bunrei, where the housed kami is ritually divided into portions for the purposed of housing the portioned spirit into a new, second location. This act is likened to a candle lighting another candle; kami are not diminished and infinitely divisible. This has happened many times, in the temples of Inari the most. The “bunrei” is carried and then housed in its new shrine, or even a personal kamidana of someone’s home. The point being: I believe this is the cultural ground from which the concept of Divided Spirits (the portion of a kami, not possessing an object; “bunrei”) and Pseudo-Servants (the kami-possessing-object; “shintai”) come from and are conceptualized in Fate. The former is purely a portioned piece of a deity, purely a Divided Spirit, if it isn’t housed in something as with the latter, namely a human. So the natural next question would be: what does that imply for Scathach? Why use her at all for Skadi if other deities can just have “Servant manifestations” of themselves in the manner of a Divided Spirit, like Quetzalcoatl? Well, I think it’s important to understand the circumstances of their mixing, which I think is the lynchpin of Scathach’s origin in Scandinavia.
In 1000 BC, according to Fate, Ragnarok takes place. Normally, the Age of Gods in Scandinavia ends with Surtr wiping the texture of the World off the face of the earth. But in the 2nd Lostbelt, this event never takes place. We find a world that is frozen, in time and quite literally on the brink of destruction. This “Broken Ragnarok” sees the death of the gods, except for one: Scathach-Skadi. Odin is said to have done two things with the last of his strength: first he mixed Skadi with Scathach, then locked Surtr-Fenrir inside the sun. With the last of his power, Odin partially sealed Surtr away. The gods are dead, leaving Scathach-Skadi the sole divinity.
Still, why not give her a Ghost Liner of her own? We’ve seen others do similar, again in the manner of Quetzelcoatl. Even Stheno and Euryale also fall under the EX rank of “Divine Core of the Goddess”, and are in Servant Class containers as well. The difference here is the level of strength. Normally, deities cannot fit into Servant Class containers and only do so in a weaker form. For Stheno and Euryale, they are said to become stronger when they take on their Class containers. For them, and their weaker legends, it’s a step up to become a Servant. In the case of a Divine Spirits, in order for them to manifest as Servants, “their Saint Graphs are reduced to a similar level as Heroic Spirits, losing much of their power and Authority”[5]. Skadi was one of the principal gods in Norse myth. She was a warrior and hunter, a bride of gods including one of the head gods: Odin. For Scathach-Skadi to be a Servant manifestation of a goddess, Skadi must become much smaller compared to her original self, like Quetzalcoatl or Tamamo-no-Mae. It would be an interesting reason, if it weren’t for one problem.
Nearing the end of the Age of Gods, after the cataclysm caused by Sefar, divinities deteriorated into Divine Spirits. In the Scandinavian mythos, it came to an abrupt end whereas the Age of Gods deteriorated overall until approximately 0 AD globally (some island nations - viz. Britain and Japan - persisted a little longer). In the Scandinavian Lostbelt, the Age of Gods didn’t end as it did in Proper Human History. In Proper Human History, there was no Age of Gods after Ragnarok. Skadi, along with everyone else, would be gone in our timeline. What about the Broken Ragnarok? There would be no reason why she couldn’t persist until 0 AD, the official end of the Age of the Gods globally. It does seem to have continued as far as we can see in the 2nd Lostbelt, so she should have been able to persist merely as a Divine Spirit. And even if there was some reason for putting a smaller piece of her into a Servant Class container, why not just take Skadi and just make a stand-alone Servant manifestation? It’d probably take less strength to do that than to make a Divided Spirit and then mix it with Scathach on top of that. Maybe it wasn’t that simple, maybe both were dying and shared the same fate.

The other is, given the giants we've run into, we can be certain that it is still before the A.D. era, and that Age of Gods-level Mystics still exist, but we don't yet know why that is.
— Da Vinci, 2nd Lostbelt
Ragnarok, in both PPH and the Broken versions, all the gods die. All except for Skadi in the case of the Broken Ragnarok, which is where Surtr became a global threat instead of a local one and destroys all nine worlds of the Norse cosmology. All the other gods died before Odin sealed him away. Odin, too, perishes. Just prior, he mixed Skadi with Scathach. Maybe there was more to it than just preserving her out of affection or for the people left behind. Like I said, why portion off a Divided Spirit and then mix her on top of it? Maybe this act implied something worse. Maybe she was dying and there wasn’t much left to save.
Skadi was a warrior and a hunter. The other gods trembled at her wrath over the death of her father. Perhaps, knowing her personality, she came to the defense of her world and ran into the front lines against Surtr-Fenrir. Regardless of the actual event, Skadi likely was killed or was dying, as all the gods were supposed to die in the Twilight of the Gods. If so, her Divided Spirit could have come from an already weakened version of her. Maybe what was left was far too weak and required something to strengthen it, or someone in this case. Much like the Phantom Spirits of Moriarty’s design during Epic of Remnant, Odin had to mix her with another figure on hand to save Skadi. In a last act of desperation, he mixed what was left of Skadi with Scathach— not weakening her in order to exist as a Servant manifestation, but fortifying what was left of her with someone similar enough. And maybe that is their “fateful bond”, for Niflheim is half eaten by the Fenrir and utterly destroyed after Surtr eats him. Perhaps these two survived long enough, only just barely, and were mixed to achieve a Servant manifestation. Odin created Scathach-Skadi “to catch Surtr’s eye” from the rest of the gods. Odin probably use used them as a distraction as he sealed Surtr into a false sun. It was likely a ditch effort, Scathach-Skadi ended up being the only divinity left alive in the Lostbelt, after all.
Back to Pseudo-Servants, with another point worth bearing out as well. Pseudo-Servants are considered a type of possession, and that’s why I liken it to a kami taking up residence in an object according to Shinto, where the object-plus-kami equals what’s called a “shintai”. Not only does that differ from what Scathach-Skadi is, to not belabor this point too much, we never actually see Scathach alive during any Fuyuki Holy Grail War. The only Holy Grail War she did participate in was in the Mooncell, but again as a (High) Servant, not a living woman. The clincher is the fact that, regardless of it all: alive, dead, Servant, Grail War, Mooncell, Lostbelt, Signularity, we’ve never seen Scathach young. We’ve never seen her immature version. We’ve only ever seen her at her full, adult height every single time. So, this one instance of height difference is a loaded piece of evidence, implying so much more than it appears. Why would Odin reach into the future? It certainly isn’t the case, she’s just as tall in every modern or future instance. We can even be sure she wasn’t a candidate in her own time because of this fact. With this height difference, we can be almost certain she wasn’t a candidate before then, too.
To emphasize this, let me flesh out the timeline: according to Mash herself in the Scathach Trial quest: “[Scathach] is mentioned in the Celtic myths of the first century, particularly the Ulster Cycle!” So, between the first century AD and 1000 BCE when Ragnarok took place, Scathach was used for the mixing by Odin. I still hold that it’s likely that she was very close to the time, specifically in the moment of Ragnarok she was on hand for Odin, thus physically there. There are two reasons, one of which I will explore when we cover her Gate of Skye. For now, I’ll focus on real-world Irish myth. The reason for my belief isn’t only because of the immediacy and circumstances of the Broken Ragnarok, with all the gods dead and Odin using the last of his power to lock away Surtr (a job he only half did, by the way) and save Skadi, but by the fact Scathach was considered immortal at the time of her own myths in the Ulster cycle.
Cu Chulainn once refers to Scathach with the epithet “Búanann” in the original texts. John MacKillop translates this as “the lasting one”, as do others [6]. It is also the name of a goddess, a “nurse of warriors” as she’s called by Fionn for her aid (viz. “mumi na fīan”, “fian” as in fianna). She’s a similar being to Scathach, in regards to Cu Chulain as far as her role is concerned— a tantalizing clue to the latter’s possible identity. Cu was even said to have sought Buanann along with Scathach [7], perhaps they were one and the same. That’s for another theory. For now, the fact that Scathach is seen as “the lasting one”, someone who is – according to the root word “búan” – “everlasting”, “constant” and “enduring” [8]. Someone, who in her own mythos and thus her own time period, is seen as immortal.
So, here we have Scathach who is not human at the time of her “mixing” with Skadi. She is considered immortal by her time with Cu Chulainn, and her claim as a Heroic Spirit. She’s also young when the mixing happens. To drive the point home at just how young she may be, she is possibly no older than sixteen. According to John Hopkins [9] a girl does most of her growing 6 months to a year prior to their first menstrual cycle (called their menarche). After that she grows only a little more, stopping around their mid-teens on average. This last bit of growth after menarche averages out to about another 2 - 3 inches before reaching their full adult height. That is approximately the height difference between Scathach-Skadi and Scathach, according to their profiles.
So, not only do I believe this all leads to Scathach being physically in Scandinavia (Sweden, specifically [10], but I believe I can point to the inhuman figure she once was, including the name she would have gone by at the time. Before I reveal the name, let’s explore some mythological aspects of Scathach, as a refresher, from the Ulster Cycle. It’s important to point out, because something is amiss with Scathach in Fate. It is on purpose, I believe, and gives foundation to not only her origin in Scandinavia, but why she has a Gate of Skye to begin with.

2. Otherworlds of the Celtic and Norse Traditions


And Oisin would have asked the princess who and what these apparitions were, but Niam bade him ask nothing nor seem to notice any phantom they might see until they were come to the Land of Youth.
An Otherworld is a hard thing to nail down. It’s seen as a part of the Indo-European mythos, since it appears as a motif with many cultures who were impacted by this invading group. We find their influences throughout Latin and Greek cultures, in Celtic and Norse. We find it even as far as India, in vestiges of invaders, in both the language and mythology. The Otherworld is seen as this shadowy realm parallel, or even overlaid, on ours. It’s accessible through various means, and various entry points, in the real world. The Jotunn of the Norse were said to live there, Jotunheim being either a location far north, at the ends of the world, or even somewhere parallel to ours; found in caves or the more inhospitable places of the world. The gods, too, dwell in the Otherworld, either in mountains or in bodies of water, concepts familiar with the myths of the Greeks and the Celts. The Afterlife is in the Otherworld as well, usually separated further by hurdles, boundaries or bridges. They have their similarities, and yet their differences as far as Celtic mythology is concerned. To paraphrase Kenneth W. Harl: they have similar culture to others, but it’s done in a very Celtic way. So, in order to make my second point we should have a foundational, even if general, understanding of what constitutes an Otherworld in a universal sense and in a specific Celtic sense. In this way, I can show that Scathach is not only a being of the Otherworld (which is essential), but likely an alien character to the Celts or is at least influenced by the Norse in the region. Along with these, what an Afterlife looks like overall between the Celts and the Norse, and crucially their key differences .
It should be said that there are other cultures, who aren’t associated with the Indo-European influence, that share hallmarks of the Otherworld concept, especially in regards to the Afterlife. This is a very general definition I mean to explore here for purposes of my theory, because the concept of the Otherworld and the Afterlife by extension are both similar and vague, but that is because it is all too human. Joseph Campbell suggests as much when he talks of the earliest indications of spirituality, and mythology, in human beings. It is with the treatment of the dead we find our spiritual origins; in essence, it is with humanity’s brush with, and understanding of, death itself that we came to regard a spiritual world. The first story tellers, he said, were those who came to understand that something went missing upon death. Something about the person left them with their last breath. The body stopped moving, came apart. None of that inspiration or animation was left; they were gone. What was left was this thing that did nothing like them and rot away. Where does this “spirit”, this “anima”, go? It must be a hard-to-reach place, then. Otherwise you could go see them - and they, you - without effort. The world of reality, and the other place, came to be in this moment of human development. It’s with this understanding of death that led to the first animal religions, too. A relationship where the hunter and the hunted shared a spiritual connection, as well as that of predator and prey. Magic, offerings and totems come into play here. Personal gods and ancestor worship, too. Such imaginings are, to Joseph Campbell, early humans, newly conscious to the drama of death, told themelves. How else does a thinking man, a self-aware man, approach the ghastly concept of life living from the death of another? Joseph Campbell provides a couple of examples of how mythologies and religions treat such discrepancies, I’ll provide them here for the sake of belaboring the point.
Among the Nivkh people, they raised a bear as family, treating it well through its life. They ceremonially kill it, eat it and serve it its own flesh, dressing the remains as an honored guest, so that when it goes to the “other” place, it reports of its care and honorable treatment, despite the ghastly reality of the world in which it lived for a time. The Blackfoot tribe of North America had a similar tradition, a myth Campbell delves into and I won’t here, where a dance is done in honor of the slaughtered buffalo, to appease the Animal Master (the shamanistic archetypal being of the species) and in hopes of resurrecting the animal, encouraging its spirit to come back as a willing participant in the cruel drama of the planet.
The Afterlife, more specifically, is an unwelcome place for mortals. This was an exploration in logic of what I touched on before: where does that part of a person go upon death? Surely it must persist, and archeology is rife with examples of cultures globablly that believed the dead persisted in some manner— their tombs filled with toys, weapons and couches (even boats) for the deceased’s use. The Afterlife is more inhospitable than any other location of the Otherworld, however. It is usually barred to humans, for the dead have their allotted place. Demigods may do so at times, or some divine capture/invitation or other event may see the living go there for a time, but for the most part it is impossible. It’s a one-way street. Divinities preside over the dead end the underworld environs. Rivers block the living from accessing this realm, as do ferrymen, guards, high walls, gates, hounds/wolves and mists of forgetfulness. A myriad of concepts, in the Indo-European tradition and not, keep the dead to their own world and the living to theirs.
For instance, as another example of a non-Indo-European mythology: Hawaiian myth. Those who died in that tradition would be presented with a challenge in hopes of making to the Afterlife: to climb a tree, whereby one may go on a healthy, firm-looking side, or may hazard the withering, decrepit looking half. Those who take “the easy way” end up falling, betrayed by the appearance, and are dropped into a labyrinth from which they have to escape. Mesopotamian cultures, also excluded from the Indo-European influence by academia, have Irkalla, the realm of Ereshkigal, which is guarded by many gates and guardians. In Egyptian myth, the Afterlife is a hazard for even the great Ra, whose body is protected by his kin on his boat ride to morning. They pass through gates, evade hazards and repel Apophis, the Serpent who desires to swallow the Sun. The mortal dead, too, have their own hurdles. Some even tried to sell “hacks” to rich payers on how to safeguard their travels into the Afterlife, lest they run afoul and never make it to the end. These “Books of the Dead” were many in number, with one being the most famous.
I bring these points up because now I want to point out specifics regarding the Otherworld, mainly in the Celtic and Nordic tradition, and their “Afterlifes”, too. Specifically on where they overlap and, just as crucially, where they diverge.
The Goidelic Celts (comprised of the Insular cultures we know as the Irish, Scottish, Cornish, Welsh and Brythonic) have long since lost their cosmology. Where other cultures have a world origin and a general understanding of where their gods resided, where the dead go, etc., the Celts have been heavily influenced by outside cultures by the time they put their oral teachings to paper; Romans, Christians, Norsemen, Gauls, etc. For the sake of example, the “Book of Invasions of Ireland” is somewhat of a Christian “fanfiction”, you may say. It’s a carry over of old pagan figures and events adjusted into Christian “headcanons” explaining the origins and events of the Celtic mythic world through an Abrahamic lens. This employed various invading peoples, who themselves had a long ancestry dating back to Noah. For the most part, the gods were changed into sorcerers or great kings, or even as fallen angels; demigods and the like survived merely as renown heroes. Of course, we know that isn’t the case. Much is lost, but we do have many stories, and hints even in the most euhemeristic or Christian interpretation.
We also see invasions by the Norse around the time of the first Celtic text, specifically the Norwegians. They came along the north, skirting the Orkneys, the Shetlands and the Hebrides, hitting the Irish coasts from above and from the Irish Sea between Ireland and Britain. They took over many places, mixing with the people and ruling for a time. These “seakings”, said to be led by the sons of the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok himself, set up a their rule on the Isle of Man, throughout the Hebrides and Scotland, and on port cities on the four major rivers of Ireland. These Northmen intermingled with the Irish, selling some as slaves to the Islamic Empire at the time. They were not welcome and their intermixed children are called Norse-Gaels today. They had names of both Celtic and Norse, implying that they needed two names to go back and forth between to two cultures. However, the Irish saw these descendants as traitors. So much so that they were called “Dubgaill” in their time, or the “Dark Irish”. The Norse themselves were named the Lochlannach, meaning the people of Lochlann. Lochlann is another name for Scandinavia and/or the lands under Scandinavian control. We even see this word survive today as the surname “MacLochlann”— “Son of a Norseman”.
The Norse had a heavy influence earlier than this as well. Since the Bronze Age (2300 - 450 BC in Scandinavia, encapsulating Fate’s 1000 BC mark) the Norse have been trading with not only the Mycenaean Greeks, as evidenced by Mycenaean coins in Scandinavia and Scandinavian amber found throughout the Mediterranean, but with the British Isles as well. One of the key components to bronze, the mass production and use of bronze being the reason we call it a “Bronze Age” culture, is tin. Tin, however, is scarce in many places. The prime source of tin for both the Scandinavians and the Greeks was from mines in Britain. While the Gaulish Celts, specifically of the La Tene culture (c. 450 - c. 1 BC), held most of the European trade, it was from them the Norse learned to build better boats and travel into the British Isles themselves later as vikings. They even imported metalworkers from the Celts and learned from them directly. By the time the Gaulish people fell during the Iron Age, the Scandinavians were ready for their time during the Age of Migration, overlapping with and leading directly into the Viking Age. The kickoff for the Irish was the sacking of the monastery of Iona, where the vikings followed the same known trade routes laid down over a thousand years.
The location of the Irish Afterlife it is sort of muddled, either in the west on the Island of the Happy Dead, in Spain (Iberia) south of them, across the east in Albach (Britain), etc. Some interpretations say that Donn, a god of the dead, resided underground. He himself, an older god, is replaced in the Book of Invasions by a similarly named “Milesian” who was the first of his people killed in Ireland (according to the Book of Invasions), becoming the god of the dead. Even Ireland’s “gate to Hell” itself was said to in the burial mount Sid Cruachan.
The Otherworld for many cultures was seen as being in the periphery of their own world, this is especially true for the Celts, just coming through at certain times, places and even every day locations parallel to that of the Otherworld. The aos sidhe lived in the burial mounds like Newgrange, the Tuatha De Danann lived under the seas or across them on islands [1]. The sea itself is seen as a barrier to the Irish from seeing their gods. Illusions and mists, employed by the gods, hide the Otherworld from mortal eyes. We see this in the Immram (voyage tales), and in every cycle of Irish myth. Manannan mac Lir uses his mists - his feth fiada - to hide his realm. It can also cast illusions, faking a large army to deter invaders. It’s the same mist through which Oisin, Fionn mac Cumhaill’s son, passes with the aid of Niamh, possibly Manannan’s own daughter.

And now the sun shone fiercely down, and the riders passed into a golden haze, in which Oisin lost all knowledge of where he was or if sea or dry land were beneath his horse’s hooves.
— Celtic Myths and Legends, T. W. Rolleston
He also employs it as a cloak of forgetfulness, wiping the memory of his adulterous wife Fanda and that of Cu Chulainn, so they would forget each other and their tryst. This mist is a powerful barrier, as is the sea itself. Manannan mac Lir explains that what Bran and his crew see as water and waves are, to him and in his Otherworld, the fields of Mag Mell and the foam of the crashing waves are his horses. It was also at the bottom of lakes where the gods dwelt. We see this in the tradition of the Mainland Celts especially; the Gaulish peoples (using the gross, blanket term here which represents many individual tribes sharing similar culture and language, but hardly a true singular and united culture). They left hardly anything written outside of carvings, these themselves bearing little information. Roman accounts tell of how the Gauls would make offerings at lakes. Jewelry, ornamental weapons and more were found at the bottom of said lakes when the Romans conquered an area and drained them. The treasures from the bottom, the sacred offerings to the divine, were auctioned off by the Romans to fund Caesars campaigns.
The Norse, too, have their own relationship with the Otherworld. In some ways, they are similar to the Irish. Mists, for one, hold a place in their Afterlife; “Niflheim” or “Mist Home”. It is a dangerous obstacle for a seafaring people [2]. They prayed to Thor for favorable weather, and according to Kenneth W. Harl, he may have been the primary deity before the cult of Odin took prominence during the Viking Age. His influence over the weather was sought, his beard and hair the very color of a favorable horizon. What’s more, even later during the Viking Age, Thor was seen as the primary opposition to the coming god of the Christians. Even those who converted, a slow process that saw them first accept Christ as a powerful god among many, turned to Thor more than Jesus when it came to sailing.

Helgi was very shifty in his faith; he believed in Christ, but made vows to Thor for sea-faring and hardy deeds.
— Landnámabók, part 3, page 5.
The footnote giving more information on this sates:

This mixed state of faith seems to have been common to the early settlers; we are told, however, in the concluding chapter of the Book of the Settlement that even this uncertain state of Christian belief became extinguished in the course of generations, so that the land was entirely Heathen for nearly one hundred years on Icelandic form 120 winters.
The valkyries were also said to have associations with mist, fog and clouds, drawing a similarity between these views. MistMist, a Valkyrie named in the Poetic Edda [3] whose name means “cloudy”, evokes the image of Valkyries being associated with descending in mists and clouds. We even have a more direct, yet poetic, connection in the The Lay of Helgi the Son of Hjorvarth (Helgakvitha Hjorvarthssonar) there is a passage that, according to Henry Adams Bellows, “suggests the identification of the Valkyries with the clouds”.

Thrice nine there were,
but one rode first,
A helmed maid white of hue;
Their horses quivered,
there came from their manes
Dew in the dales so deep
Mist, too, had practical applications as a hazard for the Norse. Fair weather was ideal, where out at sea the sight of haze on the horizon could either mean a coastline or a squall. This is an actual technique used as a method to identifying storms in the open ocean or possible land masses [4]. This is because the crashing of sea water against rocky shorelines and from storms kick up salt particles into the air, a seed that promotes foggy and misty conditions. Sea Smoke, too, as well as Harr (a specifically British phenomenon), have to do with frigid, northern waters.
To complete this, so as not to concern you that I am drawing purely on conjecture, we find this exact instance in the Njarl’s Saga, concerning Njarl’s sons as they flee from Iceland. Here they happen upon a haze on the water and a kind of rough waters, taking both as a sign that they are close to land.

Now it must be told how Njal’s sons, Grim and Helgi, left Iceland the same summer that Thrain and his fellows went abroad; and were aboard ship with Olaf Kettle’s son of Elda, and Bard. They got so strong a wind from the north that then they were driven south into the main; and so thick a mist drove over them that they could not tell whither they were going, and they were out a long while. Then they came to where was a great ground-sea, and thought they must be near land. Njal’s sons asked if Bard could tell at all to what lands they were likely to be nearest. “Many lands there are,” said he, “after the set of wind that we have had, the Orkneys, or Scotland, or Ireland.”
— The Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland, Walter Gregor [1881]
Note: a “ground-sea” is a rough sea with high waves, likely from a coastline. So we have both here; rough waters, coming with mists/fog on the water, both of which imply nearby land. In this case, for the seafaring Norse of the Njarl saga, it tells them they are likely near the Isles.
This aspect pairs with a paper by Kristel Zilmer titled “Scenes of Island Encounters in Icelandic Sagas - Reflections of Cultural Memory” [5] where he point out that islands for the Norse were not only places for mythic events and a tantalizing clue to their mindsets about their known world for anthropologists, but served as marks along a route at sea. They would use naming conventions based on notable features to spot these places as hazards, or even as safe havens. This brings me to a place where myth and history converge, possibly in this spirit. A place on the route of the Norwegians as they traded, and later invaded, Ireland via the Irish Sea, passing through and conquering the Shetlands, Orkneys and the Hebrides. One of these Isles stands out, having both Celtic and Nordic owners like the Isle of Man and Ireland itself. In myth, it is even the place that Alexander Cameron, in his book “The History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye”, says Fionn went hunting and stumbled upon Scathach. I am talking, of course, of the Isle of Skye.
You may be anticipating the next point and I will be brief, because even Cameron above only glosses over the argument, along with a list of the engaged authorities on the subject. It is a debate embattled by men better than I, and I will not cast my lot for or against any of them in a professional manner. I will only say that enough supports my purposes for this theory. I am referring to the debate on the origin of the word “Skye”. It is, regardless, agreed upon to be a folk etymology of a name that predates Indo-European language groups. An unknown word’s meaning is replaced by a newer one. It likely had an original name that sounded similar to “Skye”, a word lost to time, with a new meaning applied to it by later cultures. Skye has ultimately become a word associated with the cultures that came later. The two main contenders, etymologically, come down to us as follows: one is the Winged Isle, a Gaelic origin. It stems from the term n t-Eilean Sgitheanach, the etymology stemming from the word for shield, “sciath”, which also evokes the image of wings. There is more controversy over this word, grammatically, but I will leave that alone. The other folk etymology is of Norse origin: the “Misty Isle”. The latter seems to have taken prominence and popularity compared to the former. This term is believed to be from the Norse language skuy “mist” or sky “cloud”— the misty or cloudy isle. Regardless of the debate, if we were to look at both these terms, I will predictably support “Misty Isle” in this theory. I do so only for two reasons: 1) it’s of Norse origin, which supports the premise I tackle here, and 2) that in popular imagination, the island is known by this name more than by the former. Travelers in the region [6] remark that it is often misty, even during winter where you’re more likely to get rain than snow. A poetic name for the Isle in Gaelic is Eilean a' Cheò, also meaning “misty isle”. Whether this Gaelic name for the Isle came before or after the Norse term is unknown, but again leanings tend to be toward the name being “misty isle”. So it’s by this reasoning, along with the use of islands by the Norse according to features and landmarks, I feel this gives plenty of credence to the “mist” interpretation for my purposes.
However, another point needs to be pointed out. The etymological root of “sky” is very similar to “skuy” [7]. Overall, the etymology points to vapor, haze, mist and covering, descending into different forms. An interesting link exists between the “mist” and “cloud” interpretations, one that doesn’t invalidate, rather could reinforce, my point about everything I have gone over so far. There’s an interesting use of clouds for navigation. Clouds can indicate the presence of land, especially when in otherwise cloudless skies. This can be found even in old survival manuals for the navy, as well as from the viking themselves noticing such relationships [8] [9].
Considering what I’ve gone over, a “cloudy” or “misty” home for Scathach, serving as a possible island marker for traveling Norse, whom also settled in the region, could provide a foundation for the Fate universe to mimic reality, with Norse legends influencing the region and thus allow Scathach to not only settle, but also “transplant” her Mystery there. That’s important to settle, if my the next parts are going to hold any weight for my theory that Scathach came form similar circumstances in Scandinavia.
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2023.02.22 20:25 DailyfredisHERE I watched Persona (1966)


https://preview.redd.it/ueeitrtvdsja1.png?width=960&format=png&auto=webp&s=22b93574f31afdecbcf0c7c3ec94d2b720e1ce09
Okay so I watched this movie solely because Letterboxd users kept saying it's a masterpiece and I decided 'why not, it's only 1h and 25 min long' (which is suprisingly short for a movie like this). I ended up really loving the movie. The opening scenes felt extremly surreal, I genuenly had no idea how or why was there a spider, a hand getting nailed to a table and a boy staring into faces of two women seemingly morphing into each other. As the movie started showing Elizabeth (Liv Ullman) in her hospital room, I couldn't help but notice how disturbingly bleak the room looked, it was only Elizabeth, a bed, a TV and an unseen light source coming from the ceiling. Everything felt like it was floating in a vast open space of pure nothingness. What shocked me the most though, is how Ingmar Bergman (the director) saw the rule 'show don't tell' and shoved it up it's own ass. The characters only speak about the events, we are never shown something that isn't currently happening on the screen. And with a movie as minimalist as this, the cinematography, acting, writing and atmosphere are crucial for the movie to work, luckily, Ingmar Bergman managed to perfectly assemble all of those elements. The black and white cinematography is perfect, the shadows and the light and the still shots of the characters moving around/talking work amazingly and the shadows encapsulate the atmosphere in an amazing way. The story is very well written and the acting is phenomenal. Liv Ulman and Bibi Anderson give bone chilling performances. Some of the scenes however are very confusing, specifically two scenes: the one where the shot just burns up and the surrealist imagery appears again. And the other thing that really confuses me is whether or not Elizabeth and Alma are the same person or two separate people. Overall, amazing movie, Ingmar knows his shit for a guy who watched 'Creature From The Black Lagoon' everyday for his birthday.

Great movie, 8/10
submitted by DailyfredisHERE to iwatchedanoldmovie [link] [comments]


2023.02.22 19:10 WaveOfWire One Hell Of A Vacation - Chapter 42

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The meats for the meal were thawing, any incoming catch was skinned and stored, and the usual candidates to amuse her were all off taking care of the various tasks required of them as the end of winter approached.
Given that her tasks had proven to be somewhat inadequate to maintain her attentions at a sufficient rate, Tel had taken to doing something to pass the time between ‘war games’ and cooking.
Browsing Joseph’s terminal.
It sounded mundane, sure, but the Human had apparently brought much in the way of entertainment when he installed the tech needed to talk to his brother from the shuttle. ‘Games’ were an item of note, though when she was still pretending to not understand him she had overheard him complain about the power draw on the grid, so those would likely not be a feasible means in which to sate her boredom. Unless she wished to disable most, if not all, of the facilities in the den, that is.
It might be funny, but she was sure Joseph would make her do any required repairs by herself.
Which left music. Humans loved music and her Grand Hunter, it seemed, was no exception.
There were so many different kinds, each nothing like the last. Due to various circumstances, she was never in much of a position to listen to most of the types that Lilhun culture had to offer, but what she had noticed from the scattered mission left much to be desired. It was all so... vapid. Primal with little substance to support the instruments.
So she reclaimed her purloined throne, navigated the menus that she recognized from watching Joseph work the system, and started listening at a low volume from where she left off. The first song was gritty and metallic, sounding much like various alarms that she had once had a paw in triggering and mixed into a rhythmic presentation of aggression and power.
She liked it. Tel produced one of the quills she kept in her fur and a small container of ink to mark the number of the song onto a tiny tablet for future listening, along with a small code to describe what the music was. Recording completed, she awaited the song to finish, her foot tapping in time with the beat and her head nodding along as it played.
Another song of rapid percussion and heavily distorted stringed instruments were accompanied by melodic vocals that sung of the macabre and sorrowful. The song after that switched to a steady booming with violent synthesized sounds. The odd song here and there seemed to be more subdued in nature, but she quickly skipped past them in favour of the more malicious in the selection.
Those made her feel alive.
A song that mixed the slower thumping bass with the distorted instruments played. She quickly decided she enjoyed it, jotting the number and code down with a small smile. The music ended all too quickly, switching to one of a lighter mood. It was fine, but didn’t fit the kind she had discovered she preferred. The last number was a good one.
A larger number next to what she assumed the song’s name to be increased by one when she clicked it. A play count? The arrow in that column... If she chose that, would it list the music by the number?
Curious, she sorted the music by frequency of playback, tapping the one with the highest amount.
It was a simpler affair than she was expecting, consisting of stringed instruments that were primarily strummed and accompanied by minimal percussion being backed by a swelling string bass. It seemed to be listened to quite a bit and she could understand why. The music was somewhat slow yet mournful, the lyrics of the piece defeatist and hopeless. It was sobering, yet somewhat addictive.
She felt an odd connection to it. Something pulling at an aspect of herself she had never registered or had long since buried. It stirred her right until it ended, eliciting a frown.
She reached out to play the song again, mostly to rectify the brevity issue, when she accidentally touched a prompt that had appeared just as her pad was to touch the screen.
The menu for music was gone, replaced by a familiar office and a male who seemed to have been quite tired, opting to consume a dark beverage from a white mug that Joseph had claimed to miss on occasion. Usually at a loud volume and paired with an exasperated flail.
“Tel, right?” Robert asked, his brow raised from the unexpected conversational partner. She nodded, somewhat unsure of what to do in the moment and more than a little annoyed that she didn’t write down the number for the song. “Is Joe around?”
“He is attending to his duties at the moment.” She informed him with a slight bow. She did not bend a knee to any but those by her oath, with few exception. Joseph may be younger than his kin, but he held far more power in her life. Robert leaned back in his chair with a surprised huff.
“I was about to curse myself out for asking you because i wasn’t aware you could speak English.” He chuckled into his drink as he sipped. “I take it that isn’t the only development? Joe cut last week short before we could talk about his side of the stars, so I’m behind by quite a bit. Last thing i heard was him planning to have a fire and asking me about brushes.”
She was about to offer to retrieve the Grand Hunter when a smirk played across her face. It had been quite a while since she was able to cause mischief and Joseph happened to have caught her off guard recently. She had been more surprised by her own reaction than the fact that he had openly implied he found her form alluring, though the return of her advances was notable in and of itself. All things considered, this was the perfect opportunity to mess with somebody and the best part was that she needn’t fabricate anything. The recent events had been quite interesting without embellishment. It was only a small contribution that she would possibly annoy the Human by robbing him of the chance to soften the story.
“There has been much of note, elder kin of Joseph. Much of note indeed.”
She couldn’t help herself as her tail spun in it’s usual pattern, only slightly hampered by the chair in which she sat.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The crossbow was mostly a success. Mostly because it managed to avoid exploding. The rest of the project that wasn’t a success was the string snapping with high enough velocity to actually cut his skin. Joseph sighed, Harrow would handle it. He had been offloading a lot of the work on her, but at this point she understood more about it than he did. He was just the guy with the ideas.
He walked into the facilities wing, tossing the crossbow on the med bay bed and wrapping a small strip of healroot on his fresh wound. It wasn’t as effective without good ‘ol ‘Mantis spit’ but it was better than most other options he could manage and he didn’t want to worry the Atmo with his habit of getting hurt so often.
The thought had him rubbing a bruise on his rib that the war game had ended with him getting. The spears were blunted, but they still hurt. Luckily, it was a shallow strike that wouldn’t have done much more even if it was sharp. Not that he was in a hurry to lessen the degrees of separation he had between him and swiss cheese.
First aid completed, he grabbed the semi-functional weapon and started towards the doors to start on his long awaited ‘punch-daggers’, an addition to his personal armament that would give him even footing against the natural claws of Lilhuns. He had a modified design that would cup the palm side of his fingers to allow him the ability to grab as well as punch instead of sacrificing one for the other. Mama was kind enough to delay the work she was doing to accommodate his rushed weapon crafting, so all he needed to do was spend countless hours ensuring that the two sets of blades were carefully tempered to be more than serviceable in case of use.
That was, of course, in addition to the armour he had been mentioning on-and-off for quite some time that Jax had insisted he commit to, with the creation process being detailed to the others for mass production. It was a set of shin and forearm plates since they would be simpler to make and faster to produce outright for the rest of the pack, and a replacement chest piece to cover the vitals.
Specialized melee weaponry was something that everyone was looking forward to as well. Jax wished for something akin to a war axe and even Tel asked for a significant length of ironwood rope to be made for her to tie onto the looped end of her daggers. He wasn’t sure why they wanted those things specifically, but he had time and it would pay for everyone to be armed in a way they found comfortable. The others were mostly okay with what they had on hand until they could get the metal to produce more bladed edges.
He was about to push against the outside door when he heard a male voice that didn’t match that of Jax coming from the terminal room. Peeking into the workshop, re-dubbed ‘sewing room’ in light of Pan’s increased workload, he was met with Mama working on some struts for a future building and Violet processing some leather from the badgers. He waved to them but decided he was more curious about who was talking to Robert.
As he closed in, the voices at play became much more clear.
“Okay, then?”
“So then they wrap the core in a smaller gauge. Like this.”
Leaning in through the doorway, he looked to see the screen showing a diagram of a coil around a core of some description, though it was greatly simplified to the point where it was meaningless without context. Tel was taking notes on a small tablet of ironwood, some Lilhun script and Arabic numerals populated the top half of the space available and the lower was a dense pack of more scribbles that hurt his head to look at for too long. Whatever they were discussing, it was holding Tel’s interest more than almost anything, save for screwing with him or participating in war games. Joseph cleared his throat to introduce himself into the arrangement.
“I see the local shit-disturber decided to talk to you today.”
Robert replaced the diagram with a view of his office; a pot of coffee was being poured into his mug by an off screen participant that he thanked briefly, a soft click announcing that they had left coming through the speakers only a moment after.
“Tel was filling me in on what i missed since the fire.” He replied dryly, his expression shifting to one of a stern disapproval.
Joseph’s eyes widened. He had ended the last call early to avoid bringing up a lot of what happened until he could find a way to phrase it without his brother personally venturing into space to kick his ass for trying his damnedest to get himself killed.
“I learned quite a few things, actually.” Rob sipped from his mug as Tel shot Joseph a smug smile. “So, you get attacked on three separate occasions, two of which happening back to back and one of which being by more Lilhuns.”
Joseph opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by his brother raising a palm.
“You usurped another pack and have since doubled your following. A following that you had to threaten to compliance.” He edged the words with judgment. “And your whole personal pack can speak English now. A development you use to sexually harass them.”
Robert motioned to a very distraught looking Tel, the latter forcing her ears to droop and pouting while staring at the ground like Joseph had been beating her regularly.
“You even force yourself on the sweet, small, and defenceless Pan.” He thumped his fist onto the desk, several trinkets jumped from the impact. “And if that wasn’t enough; you’re forcing them to fight one another for your own sick fucking amusement!”
Joseph scowled, Tel screwed with him, but this was a few steps too fucking far. He was about to start going off of the both of them for thinking he would be such a piece of shit when Robert broke his momentum.
“I approve.”
The Grand Hunter started at the screen, his face frozen between being enraged and confused. “What?”
Tel started laughed, her arms clutching her stomach as she roared. Rob chuckled to himself as he fixed a displaced bauble. “She was right; that was worth it.”
“What the fuck?” Joseph protested, more confused than upset now.
“Tel told me the actual events, don’t worry. I approve of how you’ve handled things.” Rob shifted his eyes to stare off screen with a mildly conflicted expression. “I would rather you stop trying to visit mom and dad so often, but other than that...”
Steam thoroughly depleted, Joseph sighed, shooting Tel a sour glance as she wiped a tear from her eyes through the mild giggles. “Yeah, it’s been... Something.”
Rob leaned back in his chair, sipping at his drink while giving him a large nod. “I would say. Between getting a girlfriend and commanding a village, I’d think you’d have your hands rather full.” Robert rested his head on his hand. “Wasn’t going to tell me about your newfound ‘mate’? Though i could have guessed you two would become an item.”
Joseph rubbed his neck with his hand, still reeling from the emotional roller coaster that the interaction put him through. “It’s... Honestly, I’m still coming to grips with everything myself. I didn’t want to say anything to jinx it. Plus, she’s not human, so i wasn’t sure what you would think, and-”
“Joe.”
“...Yeah?”
“Did it work?” Robert asked with a bemused grin.
Joseph flushed, his expression forced into one of embarrassment at the breach in decorum. “Don’t you think that’s a little personal?”
Rob stared with a half-lidded disappointment. “God dammit, Joe.” He sighed, taking a deep drink of his coffee. “Look, Emma’s gone. She’s not coming back. You’re about as far from her as you could possibly be in every sense. You’ve finally found people who you can meet with a blank slate and have found a connection with them you would never try for back on Earth. There are no expectations of you, no rules, no limitations. I’m betting you’re hung up over cultural stigmas and it’s eating at you. Let it go.”
The Grand Hunter’s expression stiffened, his eyes refusing to meet the man on the screen.
“You should know better than anyone that the only person drawing a line in the sand over species or whatever suggestive intrusions are happening in your head is you. I couldn’t care less as long as you’re happy. I, and no one i keep in company, would give the slightest shit if you came home with whatever or however many partners you wanted. As long as it’s mutual, that is.” Rob pulled his tie loose, unbuttoning the top few slots on his shirt as he spoke. “You’re going to ruin everything if you keep worrying so much about ruining it. I get that you’re hardly in a situation where you can blindly ignore everything, but you need to put in the same effort they’re putting in for you. They don’t value the same things we do. Hell, if anything, they seem to find a lot of what we do confusing, but are willing to set aside differences to accommodate you. Do the same. Lord knows you’d be better off for it.”
Tel glanced at him with an unreadable expression as his brother lectured him, her eyes appraising something in his reaction. He could argue against Robert as many ways as someone could ask, but he knew Rob only wanted what was best for him, even if the approach was blunt enough to give a barn door to the face a run for its money. The man already felt guilty about being a main factor for his little brother ending up stranded on an unknown planet as it was.
The elder brother shifted forward in his chair, lifting himself slightly to adjust the angle as he abandoned the topic after saying his part. “So now you’re going for two weeks, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Joseph answered weakly, clinging to the life raft presented. “It’s going to be rough, but we should have a few weeks to prepare, assuming the switch between seasons is as gradual as i think it is.”
“Who’s going with you?” The question came loaded with an answer behind it, though Joseph couldn’t parse what.
He rubbed his neck, averting his eyes again. “I don’t know. I can’t take Pan.”
“And i would yell you into the dirt if you were stupid enough to try.” Rob commented with a lilt.
Joseph ignored him. “I really don’t know. Why?”
Robert set down his empty mug. “You’re taking Tel.”
“What?” The two in the terminal room questioned the man on the screen in unison, the Lilhun seeming to flinch at the idea.
Rob pointed to the bewildered Lilhun. “Her. She’s going with you.”
He furrowed his brow, rapidly blinking at the command. “Again; what? Why?”
His brother propped his elbows on the table, lacing his fingers to rest his chin. “Because, besides Pan, she seems like the only one to dig that stick out of your ass. I don’t much care who else you take, minus that Jax fellow, but I’m putting my foot down right now. You’re taking the ‘shit-disturber’. You need your shit disturbed. You’re not invincible. I thought that spending a month and change with a screwed up ankle and however many injuries would beat that lesson into you.”
“There are plenty of people here who can cover my ass.” Joseph hissed, more upset with the demands than the subject.
“And they all answer to you with utmost loyalty, for the most part.” Rob deadpanned, nodding towards the confused third participant. “She couldn’t give less of a shit about your opinion if you decide to do something blatantly suicidal. I’d bet she’d be the one to knock you on your ass before you got the chance.”
“What makes you think I’d try to get myself killed?”
Robert stared.
“Okay, fair.” Joseph rubbed his neck again, the area becoming raw from the repeated action. “But really though, any of them would do.”
“You have three real choices, by my count. Two, really, assuming you want to avoid fights later down the road.”
“Oh? You know my situation that well, do you?” He slipped the sarcasm into his voice a bit heavier than he intended, an assessment that Rob came to as well.
“I know that the two packs are on the cusp of fighting over housing because of a conflict of ideals. It really doesn’t take much to guess what carpenters would do without a foreman to yell at them to stop them from shoving nails up their noses or something.”
He thought about it for a second, running his fingers through his hair. “Build the way they want to while no one is looking?”
“Yep. Happened here. We had some codes that needed to be revised for general safety around a foundry. Crew didn’t see an issue, so they didn’t bother meeting the new standards.” Rob rested his temple on a thumb, stress oozing from the memory. “The rules of OSHA are written in blood. They learned that by applying fresh ink.”
“Ah.” He replied, genuinely stuck for a rebuttal.
“Yeah. Almost cost us the entire facility and three contracts. Needless to say, i have excess supervision on staff there now. Even if the crew submits complaints about it.” Robert waved a hand. “So I’d recommend keeping... Natalie? Natalia?”
“Nalah.”
“Keeping Nalah around to keep them on a leash.” He finished with a nod in appreciation at the correction.
“Pan could do it.” Joseph suggested with a raised brow. He was mostly curious as to his brother’s input on the matter.
“Pan is busy covering for you. Something that you really shouldn’t take for granted.”
“So I’m down to either Harrow or Sahari.” He sighed.
“Harrow... The one who’s helping you with that crossbow in your hand?” His brother pointed to the weapon.
Joseph held it up, the string still dangling in two pieces. “Yeah, it’s mostly done.”
“And she’s the only one, besides you, who understands how to make your weaponry, right?”
“... Yes?”
“And it would be nice to arm your village on the very real chance they need to fight off either the wildlife or less-than-friendly visitors.” Rob spoke flatly. “Arms that they won’t have access to while a significant portion of your viable forces are off on a possibly dangerous, scratch that, likely dangerous adventure for at least half a month.”
He couldn’t come up with a response to that.
“So Harrow is going to stay. Nalah is going to stay. Jax I don’t trust and Pan is going to be taking over while you’re gone.”
Joseph raised a finger. “Jax is a good friend of mine.”
“He met you by giving you those scars and attacking your surrogate daughter.” Robert replied with a slight disdain.
“We’ve made up and Violet loves him.”
“He’s blind in one eye. You are not taking someone who has half his vision as a blind spot into possible enemy territory.”
Joseph leaned against the door, fight thoroughly removed. “So why Sahari?”
Robert shrugged. “She was in charge before you were and Tel seems to have experience working with her.”
Tel flicked an ear, speaking up to remind them she was there. “I was of the assumption that you knew not of us beyond what little you have seen through the screen.”
The man on the screen glanced at her. “You relaxed more as i shot down everyone else. Doesn’t take a CEO to notice your opinion on the matter. The shift in syntax is pretty noticeable too.”
Joseph snorted a laugh as Tel gave his brother an evaluative look before shifting her attention to him. “Can he be our Grand Hunter?”
“Hey!”
Rob continued, ignoring the exchange but allowing a small smile to show. “So yes. Sahari and Tel. They’ll keep you breathing long enough to sort out whatever the hell tribal agreement they have or at least help you drag your ass back to base when everything falls through.”
The Grand Hunter chewed his cheek before letting out a defeated breath. “I’ll consider it.”
“That’s the best I’m getting isn’t it?”
“Yep.”
Rob leaned back in his chair, scowling at his mug as he tried to sip from it. “Guess that will have to do.”
He nodded, his mind wandering back to what he seen before the conversation started digging into issues he would rather not think about. “What were you two talking about before i showed up anyway? I seen a diagram but it wasn’t much to go off of.”
Rob fidgeted with a ring on his left hand, the gold band shifting across the finger showed a lack in prolonged signs of wear. “Tel was asking about instruments used in our music. Seems she found your collection and was checking it out.”
Joseph cocked a brow at Tel. She was quick to look disinterested but responded to the silent query.
“I get bored. It was different.”
“I don’t care if you listen to tunes, I’m more surprised you care.” He corrected before taking an interested cadence. “What genre did you like? I have a bit of everything, though most of it is alternative rock and midtempo bass.”
“It’s all dad’s music.” Rob added with a smirk.
“Dad knew his shit.”
“Dad would listen to ‘House of the rising sun’ on repeat for hours.”
“Oh, was that the name?” Tel interjected as her ear perked up, the conversation slipping into one were she could contribute. “It was passable.”
Both of the brothers looked at her with surprise.
“Which version?”
Tel faltered, noticing the competitive gleam behind their eyes. “Both?”
“Cop-out!” Joseph cried. “’Five Finger Death Punch’s cover is better.”
“Like you didn’t practice the acoustic version endlessly.” Rob jabbed, rolling his eyes thoughtfully for a moment. “’Lead Sails and a Paper Anchor’, too, if that endless strumming on the phone was anything to go by.”
“I like acoustic.” He mumbled. “You don’t need extra equipment.”
“Anything else you liked?” Rob ignored his sulking brother. Tel referenced her tablet for a moment, the contents apparently being shorthand for songs she enjoyed.
“I can’t read the titles, but i found song... Five-eight-six to be enjoyable.” She read the number with a hint of confusion at the two’s antics.
Joseph scratched his chin for a moment. “That would be... ‘Faust’ by Mick Gordon, if i remember correctly.”
Rob laughed. “The ‘Doom’ guy?”
Joseph shrugged. “It’s a good song. Heavy, powerful, and aggressive as hell.”
Tel looked between the two with a flopped ear in confusion. “What’s ‘Doom’?”
Her confusion intensified as Robert started wheezing with laughter when his brother covered his face with his palm, an audible groan sounding out beneath the obstruction.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The sun was busy.
Pan was thankful for Jax offering to assist her when she had to break up another argument between Nalah and the workers, this one actually being the fault of Mi’low’s pack as they had tried to salvage materials from the structures used in their recreational activities. Luckily, Jax was imposing enough to placate them while she fetched the High Huntress to talk some sense into them, herself being a defective having earned her no authority with the pair of carpenters.
It seemed that her performance in the ‘war games’ had gained the respect of one or two of the new pack, though it had only elevated her from disdain to tolerance. Even that much was enough to have them listen when she assigned them a rotation for the snares. It certainly made her job easier, in any case.
She could only imagine how stressful it will be once Joseph has left.
She stopped in her tracks.
He would be gone. Not forever, of course, but he would be far beyond her reach. She wouldn’t be able to feel his warmth, his scent, his emotions, his wandering touch and soft kiss. She traced her lips with a claw.
There had been much prohibiting them from completing their union. Not that they could mark one another to solidify the relation, that is. A curious question to Harrow cleared up some assumptions about the process, the answer revealing that it was not a permanent solution and would need to be repeated every so often to keep the mark noticeable. She had blushed when the details had been given by the surprisingly forward female, but she was thankful for the clarification regardless.
She traced her lips again, this time with different thoughts coursing through her mind.
Hesitation, traces of fear, and yet, expectation and desire. The conflicting emotions that she gleaned through the bond had allowed her to give her mate time, even if she wished for nothing more than to partake of him. He held something that stayed his hand and she would dutifully wait until he felt ready to discuss it.
A discussion that seemed further and further away as the events kept hampering their progress.
His constant injuries and required efforts towards managing the pack had already stripped their time together to just rest and brief moments of placid conversation, but the reveal of his journey had put such potential conversations far out of mind.
It was frustrating, but she understood. She had waited her entire life with naught but a prayer. She could wait a bit longer.
She heard a strange series of noises coming from the terminal room, melodic and purposeful unlike anything she had heard since her time aboard the ship. Curiosity getting the best of her, she peer into the room to see Joseph navigating the terminal with menus she didn’t recognize from her communications with his brother.
“Hello. You seem tired.” She responded with a hint of worry.
He turned in his chair to face her, waving a paw to dismiss the concern. “Oh, hey Pan. I’m okay, just had a bit of a weird conversation with Rob earlier. Something i forgot about was mentioned, so i figured i would try to set something up for everyone while I’m gone.”
She perked up, her tail rising from it’s low position, a small curiosity about what he had in store playing within her. “I had forgotten he was to contact you.”
Joseph sighed, the tiredness spreading to his shoulders as he stood to approach her. “Yeah, me too. Tel answered and was catching him up when i noticed.” The Human glanced to the ceiling of the den, a sliver of curiosity across his expression. “She got into my music at some point and was bothering him about how it was made.”
Pan felt her worries start to dissolve as she interacted with him, a giggle escaping into her wrist as she pictured the cook showing such interest in something besides causing mischief. “I believe that would be an amusing thing to see. I would like to hear your people’s music some time.” Her ears drooped as she remembered what she should be doing. “Though, I suppose i should pass along the assignments to those who need them before it becomes late.”
“Or,” He wrapped an arm around her, pulling her into his chest as he lowered his voice to speak into her ear. “We could cuddle up in the chair and just forget the world for a while. Just stay there and I’ll show you what music i have. We can pick out what we think the others would like for fun. How’s that?”
She fully melted into his arms, the low soothing tones of his voice reverberating through her and shaking loose the stress. The tasks could wait, her presence was requested here and she held no reservations about accepting the summons. Her ear flicked in assent, her mouth too busy keeping the smile confined to her face. She breathed him in as she relaxed in the embrace.
Anger, hesitation, guilt, expectation, resignation, and many other traces were felt through the bond. Joseph had quite the reason to seem to drained, it seemed. It was no matter, she would rest on his lap and nuzzle into him as they enjoyed whatever he had in mind for the music to soothe him. She would be his release as he would be hers, the two gaining strength to move forward from the other’s presence.
“Here, I have an idea for the first song.” He pulled her by the paw, his fingers pressing into the flesh of her pads. They were strong, encapsulating the entirety of her extremities yet holding them with a controlled ease. She wondered if he thought about how she felt beneath his touch as much as she thought about being under it, the pinpoint pressure effortlessly gliding over her skin. She squeezed his paw, the action mirrored as he smiled over his shoulder.
He dimmed the lights, the illumination being near pitch black for even her. She fidgeted at the unexpected darkness until the soft blue of the screen in the room alleviated her of the shadow. Joseph brought up a few menus, deftly navigating them until he chose the song he wished to share. He pulled the chair forward, moving to the side to allow her room to fit upon it next to him.
Exhaling with a smile, she pushed his arms to the side and sat upon his lap, shifting herself to get comfortable while wrapping around his waist with her tail, her head feeling his chin resting on it. He was surprised, but the rumble of a quiet chuckle and a loving paw that stroked her stomach told her he was pleased with the decision as much as the bond did. There was more underneath, but it was subdued as if something was holding by a fine string of reservation. That was fine, they both needed this more at the moment.
He reached out with his free paw to navigate the last of what was required to operate the machine, pausing as he did so. “Huh. I guess Tel likes Argent Metal and Atreyu.” He commented absently while looking at the screen.
“Is that music?” She asked, more enjoying his voice than the topic, though it was interesting to learn about the female whom will be accompanying her bond in her stead.
“One’s a genre, a type of music, and the other is a band.”
“Do you enjoy them?” Her ear flicked curiously.
“Yeah, but they’re more of a mood thing for me. I’ll show you some other time. For now, i have something i think will fit.” He engaged the software to begin the music, laying back in the chair and pulling her by her waist to adjust her position, a soft yelp of surprise drawing a chuckle from her mate that the young one mirrored.
The lights dimmed again before being replaced by a serine cycle of colours as generated patterns began accenting the bell-like instrument that plucked away to serenade their moment. His embrace tightened to pull her into him, his heart slowing as he relaxed.
There was no leadership. No panic. No management of expectations. No fear of failure. No defect.
Just her and her bond.
She pushed herself into his neck, the slight scent of sweat seeming sweet in the moment. She focused on the music that played through the terminal.
She smiled. It was a nice song, warm yet with a somewhat sad tone.
“Do you like it?” He asked, the smile evident in his tone.
“I do.” She hummed along with some string-like sound that played below the bell. “What is that instrument?”
“Hm? Which one? The one you’re humming to?” She nodded, feeling his jaw brush over her fur. “That is an accordion, i think. Basically a weird wind instrument that doesn’t use your lungs.”
“And the bell?”
“I think that’s a glockenspiel. Couldn’t tell you how they work.”
She swayed with the music. “Does this song have a name? I would like to hear it again some time.”
Joseph laughed. “Laka-Koffa. It’s something that dad used to play for mom when she got sick. They’d read together with it on repeat in the background after Robert left. Said that it felt like he was still there in a way, though i never got why.”
She shifted to look at him, the greens and blues from the terminal showing his closed eyes as he escaped into moments past. How much longer would she be able to enjoy their time together before he must leave? The temperature had begun warming, it was barely enough to draw frost from their breath now. Would she yearn for his embrace more than she already did during his brief absences? Would he have this song played for him should he return lesser than he had left? Would she be left with little of this moment but the soft chimes of bells to recall him should he never rejoin her side?
“I can’t go with you can i?”
Joseph stiffened, his grip on her tightening slightly. He exhaled slowly. “... No.”
“Will you return?”
He adjusted his grip to encapsulate her entirely. “I’ll drag myself back with my fingers if i have to.”
The song ended, switching to a more energetic string and percussion arrangement with a female vocalist. She didn’t pay much attention to the song, instead focusing on the slight fear that dwelled within her bond.
He was as worried about her as she was him. She smiled, placing a paw to his cheek to direct his gaze to her. Without words they observed each other, the patterns of lights reflecting on their eyes.
“I will wait for you.” She whispered, dragging a claw through his hair. The declaration had many subtle meanings, all of which she meant.
He didn’t respond, simply pulling her close to enjoy her warmth. She felt him place a soft kiss between her ears. A small burning desire flared underneath the warmth of his love. She rested a paw upon his, their heart rates slowing in tandem as they indulged in each others comfort.
The music changed.
It sounded hopeful.

Next

*A/N: Votes are:
Tel - 29
Sahari - 19
Nalah - 10*
Fun fact: during the mental drafting of the next events; Nalah and Sahari were who i was gonna send. Seeing the reaction from you guys had me change up the events! I think I’ll like the next section more now ;)
Thanks to everyone who voted. Idk how often I’ll do these, but if i find a split where i dont really care, you guys will get to choose!
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