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What Victoria 3 Can Learn From City-Builders/Economics Games Like Anno 1800, Songs of Syx or Rimworld

2023.03.21 19:40 AneriphtoKubos What Victoria 3 Can Learn From City-Builders/Economics Games Like Anno 1800, Songs of Syx or Rimworld

So, Victoria 3, is by far at its best when being an economics and pops simulator. Saying this, the city-building genre really 'get'/pioneer the core gameplay loop of Victoria 3 and I think it would serve Victoria 3 well if they leaned/expanded upon city-builders.
Part 1: Basic gameplay loop of City-builders and their relationship to Victoria 3
I'll use Songs of Syx as my primary example here, but most city-builders have these mechanics too. Songs of Syx starts you off with 10 dudes and the gameplay 'victory' condition is growing your city to 10,000 ppl. The game can support, however, up to 30k ppl, but I digress. In this game, you start off by gathering resources. Your population is primarily immigrant-based, as in, if you get your happiness up, you're going to be able to get more people. This wholly parallels Victoria 3's initial loop of getting ppl out of being peasants, raising their SoL, getting more ppl to come and work in your factories, getting more SoL, getting more ppl into your factories, and repeating the loop. In Victoria 3, you also have ppl gaining their base resources, like grain or clothes, and if those resources and bountiful and cheap then, you're gonna get more immigrants. This is also paralleled in Songs of Syx as if you give more concessions to your subjects, like increasing their rations, giving them more clothes, making their cities really nice with decorations and whatnot, they're gonna be happy and more immigrants will come to your city. This supercharges your economy more which allows you to build more and increase the number of goods produced. You can also change the birthrate by setting up childcare, which is something you can do in Victoria 3 through your laws and through SoL. Victoria 3 really parallels city-builders going, 'The more consumer industry you have, the more your ppl like it, the happier they'll be'.
Victoria 3 needs to have less abstraction w.r.t the consumer industry and simulate housing. One of the biggest things which show happiness in Cities Skylines, Songs of Syx, [insert city-builder here] is the amenities of your city. Victoria 3 abstracts amenities to clothes, furniture, and services. I know that it's kinda dumb to have a billion types of services and consumer goods, but they need to show that, 'Yes Mr. Smith is getting 2k-3k calories of food, he's able to have a house that isn't a shack, he has enough clothes, he has entertainment, etc'. Yes, I know that if you hover over the Standard of Living you can see that 'Oh, this guy pays 30% more for his goods,' or 'This dude pays 10% less for his goods and is able to advance to upper strata' but I wanna understand what's happening in the life of a person in my empire.
Part 2: Substitution in Resources, Modularity of Production Methods, and General Resource Shortages
Rimworld and Songs of Syx are both really good examples here as they both expand the imagination with respect to resources when making furniture, clothes, etc. You can use different resource inputs to create a secondary good. In Rimworld, I can use steel, wood, stone, etc to make furniture or pottery. In Victoria 3, I have to use wood and tools to make my furniture. I have have to use lead and dyes if I want to create glass. For furniture, I can't substitute wood for steel or iron if I'm an iron-rich and wood-poor. For glass, I can't make a production method that allows ports to make sand and make my glass that way. I have to use lead.
I'm not saying that we should be able to make clothes and furniture out of human leather, but there are some cases in Victoria 3 where you should be able to make your own Production Method. An example of this is paper. If I have a lot of fabric and not a lot of wood, something that has been done in the past was making your paper out of cotton. This is a thing in Songs of Syx and in other city-builders, this should be a thing in Victoria 3.
By far, the most egregious error is with farms. Why can't there be production methods which switch farms from grain/rye/whatever to fabric? Linen is literally grown everywhere. There should be PMs that allow farms to output wood or ethanol/fuel, which is something important as that's how Brazil got its money. Rimworld does this pretty well where you can even cultivate rats that make fuel. Unrealistic as that is, there need to be ways that show how farms diversified their crop and modified themselves through the 19th and 20th centuries.
In both SoS and Rimworld, I can basically 'make' my own production methods by setting how efficiently something can be made and how many ppl can work on it. We should be able to 'make' our own production method by setting which input goods it takes in, setting which secondary production goods it creates, and how many ppl will be employed by it. For example, I should be able to make clothes factories that trade fabric for dye if I'm a dye-poor nation and I can't trade for it.
Part 3: Removal or Improvement of Warfare
The Anno series used to have ground warfare in the past. Now, it doesn't. Unless Victoria 3 gets a more realistic interpretation of how wars were fought, they honestly should remove it from the game. The game is honestly less than the sum of its parts bc of how bad it feels to play when doing warfare. Anno 1800 removed ground warfare even though it was a staple through the series with even Anno 1701 DS having ground warfare. However, they removed it because it didn't add anything to the game. However, they kept naval warfare. Naval warfare in 1800 is good and somewhat approximates real-life naval warfare. They kept that in the game as it added more and showed how powerful the navy was back in the 19th century.
Songs of Syx, on the other hand, has really good land warfare and is basically Total War light with better logistics. Your economy really ties into your armies as they will revolt if you can't supply them. However, if you have good tech/your armouries are at full employment and you can crap out armour by the thousands, you can crap out thousands of fully armoured troops that will crush everything in their path. This shows that either of these features can be tenable in a city-builder game.
Victoria 3 has half-assed warfare and would honestly be better if they removed it from the game as there's nothing worse than your ally joining the other side and then reloading bc you can't even do the classic, 'Welp, time to micro the hell out of this war'. Warfare doesn't really add anything in Victoria 3 and if the rumours about warfare being too computationally intensive are true, it should just be removed.
Victoria 3 really is toeing the line between a Grand Strategy game and an economics sim. However, the game directors really want to go in the direction of an economics sim and the mechanics need to be changed in order for it to be an economics sim rather than a GSG. Like, if it can't depict some of the stuff that happened in the 19th century, at least make the economics part of the game really good.
Also, play Songs of Syx. It's quite possibly the best city-builder in the genre.
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2023.03.21 19:31 SteveFrench12 Stepping Stone Club

Stepping Stone Club submitted by SteveFrench12 to soccercirclejerk [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:26 Key-Piece-3206 Sports Betting Arbitrage Guide

Originally posted in lunchmoney


This is a common sports betting method that goes over how you can make $500 per day, risk-free by capitalizing on mispricing in the sports betting market. Although legalization only happened recently, sports betting around the world has seen a significant amount of new sportsbooks starting up every year. This, along with the complexity of adjusting to the supply and demand of bettors means that sportsbooks often have very mispriced odds.
This creates a significant opportunity for people to bet on both possible outcomes of an event and guarantee themselves a profit! Before I show you more, check out my other guide here, which goes over how to make $5,000 - $10,000 risk-free by signing up for new user bonuses with various regulated sportsbooks!
*This guide assumes you know the basics of sports betting. If you do not, please follow this link to find a quick online guide

What is Arbitrage Betting


How to Find Arbitrage Opportunities

How to Avoid Account Limits

By arbing, you guarantee a profit for yourself, which guarantees a loss for the sportsbooks, something they are not very fond of. It is important that you read the T&Cs of each sportsbook because many will put certain clauses that target arbers and other undesirable customers.
If you are playing only on regulated sportsbooks in your country, you should never have any problem withdrawing your money unless you do something very wrong. Remember, arbing is legal so this alone will not warrant the sportsbooks to hold your funds.
Below are some tips to stay off the radar of your sportsbook for as long as possible:
1. Round Bets to a Reasonable Number:
2. Don’t Deposit/Withdraw Frequently:
3. Stick to Main Markets if you are in it for the Long Haul:
4. Don’t Make Repeated Bets:
5. Bet Only on Major Leagues:
6. Deposit/Withdraw to One Bank Account:
7. Never Cover Bets on the same Sportsbook
By doing all this, you will most likely fly under the radar for a significant amount of time and if you are consistently betting each day, you can make thousands of dollars. For reference, I made almost $20,000 from arbing and about $5,000 from sign-up bonuses and I wish I had this guide when I started!

Tips to Maximize Earnings

1. Keep an Optimal Amount of Funds in Sportsbooks with the Most Arb Opportunities
2. Take Advantage of Boosts
3. Place your First Bet on the Sportsbook that is Heavily Mispriced


Feel free to comment and ask questions below! Also, let me know if you want me to do any other betting guides!
*This document is for entertainment purposes only and is not financial / investment advice. Please read the T&Cs of each book to make sure you are complicit with their rules and your local regulators' laws. This guide is not intended for real money betting and it is only intended for adults. If you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER
submitted by Key-Piece-3206 to matchedbetting [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:25 AngryPandayang Reminder to avoid W(Wirpro), I(infosys), T(TCS), C(Cognizant), H(HCL) companies.

I just want to say no matter how desperate you become as a new grad or someone new to tech. Do not settle on WITCH as a stepping stone. I am currently still working at (C)ognizant while looking for a real job and I am reminded everyday why these companies are the bottom of the barrel. Not only was my position a lie but the leadership is so far removed in the brain they do not particularly see the problem in just assigning random projects that have nothing to do with your skills or education to you. You will be left with a year of wasted time, just go live with your family or something while you try to get your first job.
Also they will try to trap you with a sign on bonus and having to relocate closer to an office even if you WFH because they know ppl would simply just quit immediately. They treat the US branch like step children while trying to force us to work or have meetings during working hours for India.
Non stop training, this is all they do. You gain nothing from just training and never actually doing anything to use said training but for some reason they think after long hours of training you will be an expert...
Some will say they had a good experience but take that with a grain of salt, these companies are crap.
submitted by AngryPandayang to cscareers [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:23 forest-Guy- I live in a farmhouse in the middle of an enchanted Forest. Strange things happen here and I would like to tell you about all of them.

Have you ever been tail down the side of a mountain by a band of angry machete-wielding onion people with Jack o’lantern like faces and major territory issues?
Have you ever been followed through the woods by a mysterious hooded figure crunching through the brush and stalking your every move from just beyond the tree line?
Have you ever been stabbed through the center of your palm by a stumpy little demon shrub with needle like spikes hiding beneath the leaves and running down its trunk like exterior? Not to mention the erratic demonic tendencies some of the plants around here seem to sometimes possess.
Well, if you have experienced any and or all of what I had just mentioned, then you probably already have a good idea of the place and some of the things I am about to tell you.
If you haven’t, however, then are you in for one heck of a tail. Because the stories I am going to be sharing with you during my free time moving forward, might just be some of the craziest things you've ever heard. But before that, there are a couple things you should know about me first.
My name is Blake, and I live on a farmhouse.
It's nothing fancy (obviously) just a big old building right in the middle of nowhere surrounded by layers upon layers of thick bushes, trees, and mountains high as the eye can see. The kind of place where cellular towers are practically non-existent, and the nearest civilization is at least a gazillion miles away. That kind of farmhouse.
I also work here. Making around eighty bucks an hour. Which I guess is a little above average for most gardeners, but I did let the owners know I was just about ready to work for free. All I needed was a roof over my head and a place to sleep. But they insisted I take the money or go find some other place to sleep. And so I did.
Other than being a full-time gardener at the farmhouse, I am also a part time forest runner on most days. Although it's not my second job of choice, it's just something I do on the side whenever I want to. Plus it bumps up my salary a bit, and I appreciate the extra money I get from doing it. Despite how crazy and insanely dangerous it almost always gets.
What is a forest runner? Well, on the one hand, I want to say it is one of the easiest things in the world. Since it mostly involves walking into a single patch of forest, making a loud noise, and immediately turning back to run in the opposite direction. But what you run from is what makes it tricky. And whether or not you are fast enough to outpace whatever hears you, also makes the difference. I can't believe I am about to say this, but I also run away from monsters for a living.
Ferocious, blood thirsty creatures ready to tear you limb from limb The second they grab hold of your jacket and pull you towards them. Those kinds of monsters. But I don't just run away from monsters in the forest. I also run away from other things too. Wildlife. Creatures of different shapes and sizes. Spirits. Ghouls. Ghosts. Goblins. And my list favorite of them all: Mermaids.
Okay. Maybe mermaids aren't supposed to be on the list. I just had that one "experience" with a particular mermaid a few weeks ago, which almost scarred me for life. I kinda have most of the memories a bit blurry but let’s just say because of her, I was literally almost seafood. But before then, I've never actually seen one in person. But I've heard stories.
Stories of how they rarely swim up to the surface and whenever they do, you are not to approach any of them, under any circumstance, unless invited. I wasn't. And I approached one anyway. Safe to say, it really didn't bode well for me when I did that. Lesson learned that's for sure. But do you know what? Let that be the first story I tell you.
The first thing I remember from that experience was the image of a blonde girl sat crying by the riverbank. It was a Saturday evening, and I was out raking a bunch of leaves when her incessive sobbing was carried over to the farmhouse by the wind. At first I chose to ignore it. Hoping that, it was just that. Incessive sobbing carried over by the wind and nothing more. But then the sobbing grew louder, and I promise I had a very good reason to go check it out.
At this point, it was just me at the farmhouse and no one else. My boss "Frank" was out hunting with the farmhouse dog, and his wife "Linda" was out supplying a fresh batch of mixed herb to the nearby villages and markets. Which reminds me.
Remember how I said the nearest civilization was at least a gazillion miles away? Technically, that's not entirely accurate. The nearest civilization is not a gazillion miles away as I initially had you believe. Sorry about that. The nearest civilization for real this time, is actually just a couple walks downhill. Past the field of murdering bush lilies, and through the enchanted trees of killer mushrooms. Then, voila. Civilization. But the nearest 21st century civilization however, that's the One that is at least a gazillion miles away. The place where the rest of present-day humanity lives. Yeah. Super far from wherever this place is. Anyway, back to the story.
So there I was. Standing in the middle of a clearing in front of the farmhouse, a small pile of dried grass and leaves sitting in front of me and starting to Russell over from the wind. I placed the bud of my rake on top of the heap, preventing it from spreading any further and causing me to start over, while I lifted my head up to listen intently to the sounds in the wind. Again, it was just as I described. Sobs. Someone crying. Soft sniffles, coughs, and everything. You didn't need an otolaryngologist to help identify what your ears were picking up in that moment, it was just so clear that the person doing the crying might well have been right next to you.
I jumped at the thought of something sneaking up behind me while I was distracted and began searching my immediate environment for any potential anomalies that might have gotten past the wooden fence surrounding the farmhouse. Poltergeists. Trolls. Ogres. And a sumo sized demon gorilla with red eyes and muscles the size of bowling balls. Believe it or not, but these are just a few of the abominations that have somehow managed to cross on to the compound one too many times before, and if it weren't for the intervention of Frank and Linda, the power couple currently running the farmhouse, the aberrations would probably have done a lot more than break a few things while also nearly giving me a heart attack in the process.
But after a few quick nervous glances over my immediate environment, and finding not one thing out of place, I turned my attention over to where the sobs sounded the loudest. It was coming from a fairly large crack in the fence on the west side of the farmhouse. A demarcation that when gazed through, revealed a whole new world consisting of a deep gray sky, rocks, a bunch of trees that were hopefully weren't harboring zombie tree people, and its most alluring feature of it all. A great body of water that is almost as gray as the sky itself. That is where the sobs were coming from. And like any reasonable person in that situation, my initial thoughts were NOT to check out the strange noise emanating from beyond the fence.
I mean, just think about it. I was all alone, on a hill. In a farmhouse located right in the center of a very large, very enchanted mystical forests, capable of hoarding a huge amount of very dark, very demented creatures, which are seemingly on a never-ending hunt for lonely gardeners, and farmers, and small groups of villagers to torment, or possess, or straight up consume whenever they are feeling a bit frisky.
So yes. I most definitely wasn't about to leave the comforting embrace that the squarish wooden structure around the farmhouse provided, to go investigate a strange sound that just so happens to be coming from the same place I was warned on multiple occasions never to visit. And whenever I asked, I was straight up told mother nature herself was sleeping at the bottom of that very river and waking her up was asking for trouble.
I never could tell when Linda is joking, or when Frank is being serious. But when it comes to things concerning the forest and around the farmhouse, I always listen. So if mother nature herself is sleeping in that very river, then mother nature herself is sleeping in that very river. And instead of investigating the strange sobs, I ignored it. But then, it got worse.
There was a sudden ear-piercing screech as whatever was crying by the river, let out a scream that almost blew out my eardrums. The intense whale only lasted for about a moment, but every second was an excruciating eternity, causing me to let go of the rake I was holding and cover my ears in reflex. It was so loud it must have reverberated round a good chunk of the forest, sending a few hundred birds scattering into the air, and a dozen more rodents dashing for cover. When the screeching finally stopped, it was as if the world fell silent, and nothing moved.
It took a few seconds for me to be comfortable enough to uncover my ears, setting my hands by my side in the process. I blinked a couple times before scanning my environment once more, searching for anything out of the ordinary. For some reason, I was certain a display of such fierce vocal capacity, especially one of such intensity, was bound to disturb the mother of forest, rousing her up from her slumber. But instead of waiting around to find out, I gathered up my equipment, abandoned the rest of my work for that evening, and began marching towards the farmhouse where it was safe. Ish.
Besides. I run away from monsters for a living. I don't face them. If anything, I want to say that was consistent with my character. Also, when that monster is essentially a superpower of the forest resting in your backyard, it kind of puts a lot of stuff into consideration. Plus, I was all alone so. Yeah. Definitely wasn't waiting around to find out.
Approaching the farmhouse in a haste, I made a beeline for the equipment's shed positioned on the east side of the compound, almost directly opposite where the strange sobs were initially coming from. Now, the sobs were quiet. But that doesn't mean something was not still back there.
Reaching for my keys in my lower right pocket, I pulled them out in a flurry of clinks and jingles, while instinctively feeling for the specific key I needed with the tips of my fingers. As the farmhouse is situated in a very remote area of the forest, we don't often get that many unwanted visitors from the nearby villages and settlements who want to take things from us without asking. But it is still advised we lock up anything of value because, well, where do you think some of the creatures around here get their weapons of callus destruction from?
Nearing the doors of the shed, I finally picked out the key I needed from the bunch, then used that to flick open the rusty metal lock and entered the belly of the Makeshift storage unit. Inside were rows after rows of very sharp, very blunt instruments of numerous shapes and sizes, with each one Easley being the perfect leading murderous tool for any band of pissed off bulbus shaped vegetable people to ransack, steal, and utilize to illegally carve out any portion of the forest and claim it as their own.
They were knives. Blades. Scissors. Hoes. Clippers. Shovels. Diggers. Daggers. Slicers. Splicers. And of course. A big ass sword standing in a stone on the opposite side of the far wall. The rest of the stuff were just scattered haphazardly, with some of them still hanging on the metal rings connected to the woodwork lining up the ceiling, while others were resting on the tables, and some lying on the floor.
I dumped all of my equipment, then stepped out closing the doors behind me and remembering to lock it. I continued my march toward the farmhouse, but just as I rushed up the flight of small stairs and placed my hand on the doorknob, I heard it again.
The crying from before.
This time however, it was different.
This time, it sounded more human.
I don't know what came over me. It was as if a million little metal fists shot out of nowhere and punched me right in the gut. The creature's pain became my pain, and its worries became my worries. I did not like the feeling.
The crying took me back to a point in my life I really did not like to think about. It made me sick to my stomach and made my eyes want to water. Every cough. Every sniffle. Every audible inhale I now heard emanating from just beyond the fence, made me felt gross to my core. I wanted it to stop.
But instead of running upstairs and throwing on a pair of earplugs, I decided to do the opposite.
I went to go investigate the strange sobs coming from beyond the fence.
And before you role your eyes at me, I promise. I had a very good reason for doing so. I just can't tell you about it at the moment. Brings up too many unwanted memories. Just know I needed to confirm that whomever or whatever was crying by the river, wasn't going through a similar thing I ones did. And if he or she wasn't peaceful, or friendly, then I will simply not approach them.
That's it.
So after releasing the doorknob and taking in a few deep breaths, I backed away from the front door and took off down the flight of stairs, turning in the direction of the west side of the farmhouse. To where the sobs were coming from.
Although now it wasn't full on sobbing, it was more of a blend between sniffling and coughing. Which was starting to decrease in frequency and intensity as I got closer.
I was halfway across the yard, mere feet away from gazing through the crack in the fence when I suddenly remembered the vicious scream from earlier, which then prompted me to do a quick u turn to go grab a pair of earmuffs from the top of my desk within the farmhouse. Sometimes, strange noises emanate deep within the forest at night, and the earmuffs primarily helps to preserve my sanity whenever that happens. It also helps to block out sounds like annoying chattering crows, shadow whisperers, and sleepwalking inducing river sirens. Amongst other things. But the main reason why I went back for it that evening, was to help protect my ears from the screeching.
I used the opportunity after snagging the pair of blue earmuffs, to gaze out my window overlooking the river on the west side of the farmhouse. I didn't quite catch a glimpse of whatever was crying by the water, on the count of my window not being in exact focus to the sobs, so I threw on the muffs, went downstairs, and headed out the front door.
I once again turned in the direction of the sobs which, I could no longer here as much. But blocking out the crying like I said, wasn't really what I was going for. I wanted to make sure whoever was crying was okay. And just as I was approaching the fence, ready to peer through the crack in the wooden structure surrounding the farmhouse, someone got in my way.
There was a sudden pressure against my back as something had landed so gracefully behind me, that it completely escaped my sense of hearing, bringing me to a literal standstill. I didn't even need to turn around to find out who it was. The scent of fresh blood in the air. The waves of dark aura pushing against my back. The ability to move as fast and as silent, so as to completely evade the senses. There was only one forest aberration I knew could do that.
"And just what do you think you are doing?"
I heard the voice of Sebastian ask from inside the back of my head, sending ripples of dread down the length of my spine. I turned around slowly and came face to face with the thing that would forever be the number one reason why I find owls to be one of the scariest species of birds on the planet.
Sebastian was a part man, part owl hybrid thing, with a ghostly white face, deep black eyes, and a feathered, makeshift winged cloak that was just as deep, dark, and menacing as his eyes. He has no beak. But lips. And it doesn't really matter because when he speaks, they don't move. At all. No matter the circumstance.
"Have you suddenly lost your tongue boy? I asked you a question. What do you think you are doing?" he added, his cold voice bouncing around in my head and his gaze frozen solid.
I tried saying something, but I was so captivated by fear I forgot how to speak. My entire body was shaking like a leaf, and I was pretty sure I was about to piss my pants.
Among all the aberrations in the forest and Frank just so happen to pick the creepiest looking one of them all to serve as my babysitter. Thanks Frank. I really appreciate it.
"Don't make me repeat myself boy," Sebastian said, his tone dropping to sinister levels.
"SPEAK!" he ordered, and the ferocity of his pitch almost caused the inside of my skull to split in two.
I swallowed the fear stuck in my throat and finally spoke.
"There's... It's... Someone needs our help," I said. My words somehow managing to form a cohesive sentence. "I just wanted to..."
Sebastian jerked his head to the side to glance over my shoulder. More specifically, he glanced over my shoulder to stare through the crack in the wooded fence behind me.
We both heard the sniffling noises simultaneously.
After a second or two, Sebastian then snapped his head in my direction, returning his soulless gays back on me.
"Were you invited?" he asked, a hint of calm resignation in his tone.
"What?" I replied, genuinely confuse at his question.
"Were you invited?" he asked again, with his voice starting to shift into enraged annoyance.
In fear of not wanting to piss him off any more than I already did, I simply shook my head in response, hoping that was enough non sassy, non-disrespectful way of indicating I was still at a loss of what he was asking.
Letting out a sigh, he said, "Take a look." And I began to slowly step backwards while keeping my eyes trained on him. It was not until my back connected with a flat wooden surface behind me that I finally broke eye contact in order to turn around, crouch, and gaze out the crack in the fence standing on the west side of the farmhouse. And the view was just as I described.
There was the deep gray sky with all its glory. The smooth dark rocks. The towering trees looming overhead. And the large body of water that had her swampiness resting underneath. Everything was as I described with one exception. Now sitting on one of the rocks by the left side of the river, with her back turned and both of her legs stuffed into the water, was a girl. Or more specifically, a young woman.
Her hair was a mixture of white and yellow, with rows of beads running half circles along the back of her braid, decorating her already very colorful, very voluminous hair all the way down to her lower back. Her shoulders each held three sets of clothing strips, which appeared to act as the primary (hold me up support) for the rest of her slim green looking attire, and the tone of her skin was a pale shade with a hint of Olive undertone. She looked hunched over in her sitting position, with her hands, each one decorated with rows of transparent blue bangles, lifted up to her face, cupping her eyes and nose as she continued to sniffle and sob quietly into the morning breeze. I didn't even have to sight her tail to know what kind of creature she already was.
Some of the creatures in the forest, especially the mermaids, take great pride in the kinds of accessories they wear, and in the way they look. If you were to ask me why, I would say it probably has something to do with ethnic origins or simple personal aesthetic choices. Suddenly, the question Sebastian kept repeating to me made a lot of sense. If you don't ask a mermaid for permission before approaching, things for you can become really painful. And for a brief moment, I wondered if the screeching noise from earlier had anything to do with the kinds of things they are capable of.
So, in light of the sudden Discovery that I was in fact dealing with a potentially hostile mermaid, my drive for wanting to help her process whatever grief she was going through suddenly plummeted. Especially now that I knew she was capable of letting out a screech that could easily rip apart my skull if she wanted to. And because of that, I ceased staring through the gap in the fence to lean back and look up at the frozen stature of Sebastian looming just behind me. He kept silent as always, and continued to observe me with a steady gaze, waiting for me to speak of my findings. I gave myself a second to process the image I had just witnessed before speaking.
"It's a mermaid," I said, perplexed at my Discovery.
"Yes," Sebastian replied, his lips shut, and his voice reverberating around the inside of my skull.
"I can't believe it. I've never seen a mermaid before," I said.
"You should count yourself lucky then rabbit," Sebastian said, unmoving. "Those who sight a mermaid for the first time from such close distance don't usually walk away to tell about the tail," he added. "They always end up doing something stupid."
"Stupid?" I asked, flashing a nervous smile.
Sebastian picked up on my former intentions and shot me a disappointed angry stare.
"Stupid like trying to get nearer for an even closer gander," he said, his pitch-black eyes narrowing and warning. "What were you thinking?" he asked, and luckily for me I did not have to answer the question.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash as if a tree had toppled over in the distance. Sebastian spun his head around, twisting his neck so the back of his head was now facing me. I squirmed at the site of his forward backwards appearance, never having gotten acquainted with most of his characteristics and capabilities in the short time I've known him working at the farmhouse. After a second or two, Sebastian then twisted his neck back into place, returning his dark gaze back on me.
"What is it?" I asked, standing up from my crouched position by the fence and allowing the thought of the mermaid disappear from my mind for a moment.
"You should get inside. Now," Sebastian replied, taking a step back before opening his massive dark wings and spreading them to the sides.
He arced his knees a little bit, and with a single downward flap of his wings, he was airborne. Off the ground by a total of eight feet, before coming to a halt midflight to stare down at me.
"Get inside and lock the doors. Now!" he barked, eyes narrowed, and his wings flapping up and down by his sides keeping his suspended state.
"But you still haven't..."
I never got the opportunity to complete my sentence.
Just then, an almost invisible ball of spiraling blue energy, shot out from somewhere behind me and collided with the body of Sebastian, sending him flying across the front yard and expelling him from the premises entirely.
I immediately took out my earmuffs and was hit with an eerie silence. My heart was pounding. My brain was starting to enter a hyperactive panic mode. And my breathing became ragged and intense. What the hell just happened?
I didn't have to wait for my answer.
I spun around to the sound of rapid approaching footsteps, and almost had a heart attack from what I saw.
Running towards the farmhouse from the other side of the fence. Bare feet. With the lower half of her dress dripping with river water, and the top part of her attire and voluminous hair flowing in the evening breeze, was the mermaid. In full spectacle.
Her eyes were the color of midnight. Her gait, although a little hindered by her dress, seemed just like the way a normal girl would run. The rows of transparent blue bangles on her forearm and wrist, were now a bright luminescent glowing color. And they were streaks of dried-up black makeup tears running down the sides of her cheeks, prove she was indeed the one crying moments earlier.
She resembled something straight out of a marionette's horror movie running towards me and I was a deer caught in headlights. I couldn't believe it.
I started to back off slowly and she snapped her head in my direction, causing my heart to almost leap out of my chest.
"Hey! No! Wait! I'm not going to hurt you!" she yelled, rushing towards the fence, and lifting up her hands defensively. "I just want to help," she added, finally coming to a halt, and staring at me through the gap in the fence.
"Something terrible is coming this way and it's all my fault," she said. "Please. We need to leave"
She continued to stare at me through the crack in the fence, a look of genuine concerned plastered across her face. Her dark blue eyes held a tinge of guilt behind them, and her cheeks and lips were flushed with honest worry. She reached out an arm through the fence, as if physically showing she wasn't a threat. That's when I looked down and found that the rows of bangles on her hand, the same ones that were glowing a bright luminescent color only seconds before, were now dimming back into their original shade, almost as if they were in a state of powering down.
"Please," she whispered, and I lifted my head up to meet her gays once more.
For a second, I didn't move. I was frozen in fear and contemplating weather to Make a run for the farmhouse and lock myself in, or run away with this stranger offering to take me to a new location. The safety of the farmhouse had already been compromised thanks to her, and it was about to become a hotspot for major forest aberration activity.
I took a moment to consider my options. I really did. But the renewed sound of trees toppling over from somewhere behind me, accompanied with the ground shaking rumble of a dozen legs digging into the ground and barreling towards the farmhouse in a rush, suddenly made my decision that much obvious.
"Please. We need to go. Now!" she said, with her arm still stretched. And without a second thought, I carefully placed my hand on hers, and the instant my palm came in contact with the inside of her hand, the rows of transparent blue bangles on her arm lit up, and she immediately let go of my hand and grabbed my forearm instead.
I looked up at her face in horror, but before I could utter a word of protest, the insides of her eyes grew brighter, and she lifted her arm up, flinging me over the fence sooner than my mind was able to comprehend what was happening.
I was airborne. For like 2 and a half seconds. But it felt like a lifetime. And while I was busy somersaulting over the fence, the world around me seemed to slow down, giving me plenty of time to catch an upside-down glimpse of the humongous forest creature now climbing its way into the compound from the other side of the fence.
If none of what I've said so far has remotely sounded crazy in the slightest, this is the part where shit should really start to hit the fan. Because climbing into the compound from the other side of the fence, in a downwards arc of its massive body, was the biggest forest crab I have ever seen.
The thing was huge. Like, really huge. It possessed a dirty brown colored appearance, with some parts of its shell-like armored plating covered in green splotches. Its legs were long and pincer like, and its two main frontal claws were massive, reinforced gauntlets ending in scissor like appendages. It had tiny, jagged needles coating almost every inch of its crustacean, with the most vicious looking ones located on its arms, its legs, and the sides of its shell. And other than the overall monstrous sea creature vibes the think presented, there was another disturbing aspect to the thing.
On its back. The topmost part of its shell. Sitting on what resembled a saddle and wielding a slag of rope that somehow connected to the giant crab's antenna, was a rider. Donning some kind of yellow, red ceremonial armor.
The mermaid had planned to catch me as she already had a hand stretched upwards, ready to somehow break my fall the second I cleared the compound and was falling on the outside part of the fence. But she might have thrown me further than she can catch me because our fingers barely even brushed the top of one another before a look of horror flashed across her face, and I mentally braced myself for the inevitable rough landing.
What followed was almost instantaneous.
The world around me sped up and I watched as a ground littered with sharp rocks and stones rushed towards my face. And the last thing I remember as I fell onto the ground was smashing the side of my head against something hard before going blank.
This next part might have Played out as if in a dream sequence, but it was just the symptoms of my brain going into shock.
I was sprawled on the floor. Unmoving. But I could still perceive most of my surroundings. The side of my face in the ground was warm, and I could make out the sound of something growling and bashing against a wall, and the voice of someone crying out over the noise in the distance.
"Hey! Are you okay? I'm sorry I did not catch you. Please. get up. Hey! Can you hear me? Please. Get up. Please!"
"Easy stone breaker. Easy." A second voice spoke out over the noise, and the bashing stopped. So did the growling.
"Look princess. What you've done."
The second voice belonged to a man. And if I were to guess, I would say it belonged to the same person I saw riding the giant crab.
"Please. Get up," the girl said.
“Disappointing,” the man said. ”You see princess, this is what happens whenever you do this. Death. Destruction. And innocent people suffer for it.”
There was a pause.
“I mean, I try my best to minimize the second one, but you can't seem to stop yourself from causing the first one," the man continued. “If you would just come with me back home princess. Watermeena misses you. Your parents miss you. And I’m sure you must be tired of all this constant running?”
I couldn't quite see what was happening mainly because I had fallen facing a patch of bushes, but the rock my head was now resting on beside a nearby tree, provided enough elevation for my peripheral vision to catch some of the action.
First was that the mermaid was still standing outside the wooden fence surrounding the farmhouse. However she was now in some kind of forward leaning stance, with her arms pushed out in front, holding steady a giant transparent blue dome that had seemingly appeared from nowhere and enveloped the compound. Trapping the giant crab and its rider inside.
Second was that she seemed to be getting tired. She had her head lowered, staring at the ground. Her arms were shaking. Her legs were quivering. And the bangles on her arms were starting to blink on and off, indicating that they were probably stressed and overheating, or were simply losing power. Either way, she looked like she was about to pass out and I felt like I needed to do something.
I slowly lifted my head up and was immediately rewarded with a sharp ache shooting through my skull. I lowered my head and winced in pain, before waiting a few seconds and trying again.
This time, I was able to lift my head up and also shuffle my first step forward. And my second. And my third. Other than what I was certain was a broken knee, twisted ankle, and a bruised rib, which were all yelling at my brain for my body to stop moving, I had no other injuries. At least, so I thought.
“Huh,” the voice of the man said. “It seems as though your pedestrian casualty survived after all.”
Still laying on the ground, I lifted my head up and turned in the direction of the farmhouse. The mermaid had also lifted her head up to stare back at me.
There were fresh tears running down the sides of her cheeks. But she now had a smile plastered across her face. A smile of relief. With a little worry sprinkled in.
“Well, isn't that just wonderful,” the man said. ”Now princess,” he continued, “the ball is in your court. You either bring him along and we all go in search of a healer to help dress his injuries, in which case we leave him there and continue onward to Watermeena. Or you leave the poor fellow here to bleed out, and instead do what you've always done. Run. With whatever charge still left in those rings of yours. Just know I cannot guarantee his safety if you do choose to run. Stonebreaker gets a bit agitated when he hasn't had his dinner. And guess who hasn't eaten all day because of you.”
The mermaid looked up at the rider on the crab, then look down back at me. The smile had disappeared from her face and was now replaced with the familiar flush of worry. I turned my attention away and continued to press forward on my elbows and remaining good knee. And after a little while, I was able to make it to the trunk of a tree and lifted myself up to rest my back on it.
Wait. Did he just threatened to feed me to the crab? And did he just say I was bleeding out?
I looked down and was mortified when I saw a trail of blood smeared along the ground from where I sat, all the way to a collection of rocks sticking out of the ground which must have been my point of impact. I lifted my hand and felt a deep gash on the side of my forehead, and a sticky warm liquid was now between my fingers and running along the side of my face. I was suddenly like headed, and unable to focus on anything around me but the voices speaking in the distance.
“Hey! No! Open your eyes! Stay with me!”
Wait. When did I close my eyes?
“He is going into shock. It's now or never princess. Make your choice.”
“No. Please. Wake up,“ I heard the voice of the girl ask, reminding me of that particular memory I really did not like. I opened my eyes to a blurred mess of the things around me, then turned my attention over to where the blurred figure of the mermaid still stood holding together the blurred dome wall.
“Time is running out princess. A few more minutes and he is going to lose consciousness. You should make your choice now.”
“Promise me you won't hurt him,” the girl said, her voice restrained. “And promise me your beast wouldn't lay a single claw on him either.”
“As the commander of the royal army, you have my word princess.”
There was another pause. And just as I began lowering my head and shutting my eyes closed, I made one last attempt in hopes of saving my ass and also preserving the mermaid's independence since it really seemed like she didn't want to go with him.
“Screech,” I said, mustering some of the remaining ounce of energy I could to say that one word.
“What? The mermaid replied,” sniffling.
“That thing you did earlier. Do it again,” I said. “Scream.”
“But that was an accident,” she replied, “and it can hurt you.”
“Just do it,” I said. “Please.”
"Don't bother princess," the man said. "Your disorientating song might have led us to you, but it is not going to drive us away.”
“Good,” I replied, lifting my head up to stare in their direction and blinking a few times to clear my vision. "There is someone I would like you guys to meet."
I turned so I was now facing the mermaid.
“Do it,” I said. “Now.” And with a reluctant nod of her head, she let out three consecutive wails that were not as vicious as the first one, but still packed enough punch to force My hands to cover my ears in response. Even stonebreaker seemed to stumble on his legs a little, before shaking his head to the sides and brushing off the noise. When she was finally done, she lifted her head to stare up at me, with the look in her eyes begging the question. What now?
Her answer came in form of The River beside us starting to bubble over, with a large dark humanoid shape slowly rising up from the deep.
She was awake.
Suddenly, the bangles on the mermaid's hands sparked a bright flash, forcing her to flinch in pain before releasing her grip on the blue dome and dropping to her knees. The bangles began dimming back into their original shade and the blue dome surrounding the compound evaporated.
The man did not cease the opportunity to steal the mermaid in that moment. Instead he was transfixed on the entity now emerging from the water.
The figure in the river continued to rise, until it was out of the water to its waste and was facing the direction of the farmhouse.
It was big. Very big. Its body was made entirely of dark brown roots and tree bark, and its eyes were hollow circuits of glowing lights. There was a greenish bluish swamp like slime covering its entire body, and the hair on its head was long, dark, drenched, and coated with seaweed. Its overall visage was akin to the top half of a woman, and when she spoke, it was with a thousand voices that came before her.
“I am Kiai Ohana. Mother of nature. Guardian, and protector of all living things in the forest. Crab fender.” The thing lifted her hand to point at the man sitting on the giant crab, which was now 10 times smaller in comparison. “You are currently violating the sanctity of this land with your presence and putting the life of yet another of my own at risk. As you and your men have done on multiple counts before,” she said, lowering her arm. “No longer should I allow such acts from you go unpunished. Leave now and consider this to be your final warning.”
Without saying another word, the crab fender pulled at the rains of his beast, steering his massive crustacean away from the mermaid and exiting the compound by crawling over the same fence he crawled in.
“You too little one,” the spirit said. Turning her attention over to the mermaid. “I must continue to recuperate. You must be on your way. Now.”
The mermaid got to her feet and rushed over to where I had my back against a tree.
“But can you please help him,” she said. “He is like this because of me.”
She tore a piece of her dress and pressed it against my forehead.
I want to say it hurt like hell, but I was already slipping back into unconsciousness, and everything was becoming numb. The girl kneeling in front of me was but a blur again at this point.
“I know,” the spirit replied. “I will see to it that he is treated. But you must go. Now. Like the crab fender, you have also caused a lot of trouble and are now trespassing on private land. And I cannot have that.”
“Okay,” the mermaid replied. “And I'm sorry for all I've caused. I really am. But thank you for accepting to help him. She said. Thank you."
“It's my duty little one,” the spirit said. “Don't thank me. Besides. I know this one. He is a sapling in training. Hopefully he is able to blossom before the start of the dark days, or a simple head injury would be the list of his problems. Now go little one. And don't come back.”
“Okay,” the mermaid replied.
Before leaving, the mermaid ended up wiping the blood from my face with the piece of fabric, then tor another piece from her dress and wrapped it around my head like a Makeshift Band-Aid. After that, she took my hand in hers and leaned in closer.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
And with that, she got to her feet and began bolting down towards the river, and just as she jumped into the water, I blinked a few times to clear my vision, and caught sight of her transformation as she dove into the water. Headfirst, tail last. Then, she was gone.
But the spirit was still there.
“Don't worry little sapling,” the spirit said, as my vision began to tunnel. “Help is on its way,” she added. “Save your strength and get well soon. The dark days are almost upon us. And I am going to need every man and woman of the runners, prepared to trade their lives for the forest. Including you.”
I could only mutter a silent "what?" Before I completely blacked out. And when I woke up a few hours later, the first thing to cross my mind was an echo of what the spirit had said.
"The dark days are almost upon us. And I am going to need every man and woman of the runners, prepared to trade their lives for the forest. Including you."
What the hell are the dark days?
submitted by forest-Guy- to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:16 ferry120997 How to make bandaged wrists look… Not bad?

I have what I suspect is contact dermatitis on my wrists- both of them. It has slowly spread across my left wrist onto the top part of my hand near my thumb, and the right wrist it started from the right side and spread across the whole wrist. I DO have an appointment with a dermatologist but it is far out.
It is ugly. It is red, scaly, dry, and bumpy. It also sucks up any type of lotion I put on it ( and I have tried a LOT of different creams/lotions. ) I’ve started to put a cream on it, then a bandage or bandaid over top to lock in that moisture, and that seems to help. However, now I have big ol’ bandages over both my wrists and the side of my left hand and people keep questioning me about it. Due to the cream I put on it, I can’t keep peeling back to bandage to show people my weird rash thing because the bandage won’t stick good after I peel it back. These bandages also keep me from wanting to itch it, which I tend to do right in the morning when I’m half asleep. The itching has also caused me to break skin a few times which makes the rash / dermatitis look even worse.
Is there any possible way to make the bandaged wrists look less like an.. unalivement attempt coverup? I’ve had good-willed strangers at my job try to talk to me, concerned professors at school, classmates. All of my friends know what it is cuz I’ve had the dermatitis for months and they’ve seen it uncovered. Do I just tell people to mind their business?
Also, any advice on how to treat it is also appreciated. My appointment with the dermatologist is still 2 weeks out. Can provide pictures if necessary.
submitted by ferry120997 to Advice [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:15 luckydrunk_7 He probably believed in fairies and the walking dead, poor fool.

In WMF, chapter 68, during an exchange between Kvothe and Maer Averlon, the Maer refers to Kvothe’s concern over Cadicus’s possible sympathetic attacks as “spells” or “sendings” and Kvothe’s desire to make him a gram as a “charm.” Kvothe dismisses the Maer’s framing comments as foolish, uneducated ‘vintic superstitions’ and says-
“He probably believed in fairies and the walking dead, poor fool.”
Something I love about PR’s storytelling is how he buries real plot points among character commentary with offhanded comments like this.
Kvothe is feeling haughty, his knowledge of the arcane and snooty assumptions that things like ‘fairies and walking dead’ are presented as silly small minded thinking. But, as we well know, Kvothe is not far from discovering his own ignorance concerning fairies.
This makes me wonder if Kote, in the cut flower silence of a man waiting to die - isn’t already truly “walking dead” and that this little nugget in WMF is burying the lead. Perhaps Chronicler is interviewing some version of a ‘ghost’ - a memory - a fading legend, and the true purpose of ‘humanizing himself’ is Kvothe looking for a way to pass through the doors of stone and die.
submitted by luckydrunk_7 to KingkillerChronicle [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:08 Iudicatio Is deleting everything the only way? Will it even help?

So the situation is I've been addicted to the internet in some way since about 4th grade, when I used it to cope with being ostracized by everyone around me.
But now I am 25 and still unable to finish my bachelor's degree or pass exams. I just got a new job and so far the boss is happy with my performance, but I'm afraid internet addiction could ruin that too. (There are almost no fixed shifts and you kind of just work whenever you want).
I have tried everything to moderate my usage. Blockers only work for about 5 minutes before enter the unblock PIN. I have tried "dopamine detox " type interventions but my usage always backslides in the weeks and months afterwards. I have already deleted Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and all mobile games long ago but my addiction to YouTube and reddit continues. I also did not download the apps and only access them through the browser but it didn't really help.
I have a good friend who is a professor at my university (but not my professor) and he said, the only option is to delete them and never look at them again because a) I'm not seeing anything that helps me and b) you will never make real connections or create real change from the internet.
However, I feel uncertain that this would work because it's so easy to browse reddit and YouTube without an account. Also there are a lot of helpful things on YouTube, but I suppose the negative impact on my studies far outweighs the positive.
How do you manage YouTube specifically? Is never going on the website again the only option? I don't think I am able to stick to "academics only ", I will inevitably start watching other things. I have tried to make this resolution in the past and I was never able to keep it.
My life is not totally terrible and I think I have plenty of other things that I could do, but I don't think of them in the moment before I start scrolling.
submitted by Iudicatio to nosurf [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 19:00 Tactical-Kitten-117 What's your favorite fruit of each type?

Each type as in berry, melon, tropical fruit, stone fruit, etc! I thought this to be a more fun discussion than simply favorite fruit, or top X favorites.
There's probably more categories, but what I can think of, here's some examples:
Stone fruit - Avocado, apricot, peach, nectarine, I believe cherries fit here AND in berries too!
Citrus fruit - Grapefruit, lemon, orange, blood orange, mandarins, clementines
Tropical fruit - Bananas, mango, pineapple, kiwifruit, dragon fruit, coconut. I think cacao would be here too, but it's not really a fruit to eat chocolate (cacao nibs should count though!)
Berries - Grapes, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, and I believe tomatoes/grape tomatoes would belong here. Maybe cucumbers as well?
Melon - Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, technically coconut as well
Tree fruit (this might not be a real "type") - Pomegranate, persimmon, apples, pears, plums, I think dates go here too.
Anyway, those are some examples just to give an idea. There's definitely more fruit, and probably more types/categories.
For stone fruit, I think I'd choose avocado, as much as I love fruit, I dislike most stone fruits for the oversized pit/seed. Avocado is savory/creamy and rather unique, so it gets a pass there.
Citrus fruit might be a hot take, but I love grapefruit most! A lot of people don't like it, but I find that you just need to put more work into peeling them. Unlike most citrus fruit, peeling the membranes off each slice is basically a necessity for grapefruit to shine. But it's AMAZING when you do!
Tropical fruit, I absolutely love pineapple. It's good with savory things, and the uniquely acidic flavor it has is really nice. I guess I like being bitten back by pineapple lol
Another unpopular one, I love cranberries. Not in sauce, juice, or dried (although those are good) but raw or frozen. They're very tart, but that means they go really well as a topping for sweets. The sourness makes them kind of like citrus berries!
I'd say my preferred melon is cantaloupe, firmer than watermelon, it has a slight "carrot-y" taste, and still about as refreshing as any other melon
Lastly, tree fruit. Pomegranates are fantastic, provided I can buy the arils already prepared. The crunch is just divine!
So those are my top picks of each type of fruit, what are yours? And bonus question, what's your favorite category overall? Think of it like being sorted into a Hogwarts house, but type fruit instead
submitted by Tactical-Kitten-117 to CasualConversation [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:58 a15minutestory [WP] You are a student in the most prestigious magic academy in the kingdom. No one knows how you got in, sure you have amazing magic potential, but you’re “magic blind” meaning you can only feel the presence of magic and not see any magic. [Part 64]

A slave-driving murderer had just publicly declared war on us. The cheering and applause of the people standing around us was an eerie and ominous accompaniment to the feeling of dread swelling in my chest and radiating down to my stomach. He'd captured all of them thus far. I swallowed and dropped my gaze down to the pavement as it dawned on me that all of those people had tasted freedom, and were then immediately and mercilessly hunted down and dragged back to hell.
But there was an interesting caveat there. He called us by the names O'Malley had erroneously wrote down in his ledger. The men that were chasing us that day had picked up our actual fake aliases, but then we'd killed them at the inn. It seemed that knowledge died with them– a drop of good luck in a raging downpour it seemed.
"William," I said just loud enough to catch his attention.
He turned and eyed me. "Huh? Were you talking to me?"
I lifted an eyebrow. "Yeah. Who else would I be calling William?"
He narrowed his eyes, "It's Tovin, you spaz."
I glanced around nervously. Nobody appeared to have been listening to us. I took him by the shoulder and led him away from the crowd gathered around the picture boxes. "What are you doing?" I hissed.
"What am I doing?" he scoffed. "What are you doing? You know my name. What, are you playing a game right now?"
"Our aliases," I said through my teeth. "We're using fake names, remember?"
His expression changed from annoyed and confused to forlorn and somber. He swallowed and looked away. "... I'm losing it again, aren't I?" he asked.
I remained silent. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want him to feel worse about it, but that would have been a dangerous slip-up in front of the wrong person. Before now, I was starting to think that Tovin back home had overblown how quickly the mental decline would be.
"Don't worry about it," I said finally, passing him on the sidewalk further into the city. "Come on. We need to find a way to make some money."
"And fast," he added, trailing behind me. "We need food, clothes, and a couple of beds. And more cigarettes, too. I've only got a few left and I'm trying to make them last."
We walked the mazelike streets of Bronzegirder looking for work. I wasn't used to Diesel society yet and often found myself hung up on storefront windows that marketed all kinds of gadgets and technology. I would do my best not to stare when people walked by wearing metallic pieces on their persons.
Some wore gadgets on their forearms, some on their wrists, and others in various other areas. I wondered what purpose they served, where they were sold, and how expensive they could be. And it wasn't just the gadgets. There were far more dark-skinned people here than we had in Galgia. It was something I had read about but never experienced. They ranged from light tan all the way to almost black, and it just added to the culture shock.
There appeared to be people living in the buildings above the storefronts. The tall towers we had seen in the far distance earlier served as housing as well as business space. Diesillians stood on their balconies, some hanging wet laundry, others leaning over their railing while they enjoyed a drink or a smoke. We passed so many things I would have wanted to stop and look at were we not being hunted. DuPonte seemed awfully sure of himself when he said he'd find us, but for the life of me, I couldn't imagine how one would find antything they were looking for in this city.
"I'm totally lost," I admitted. "We need a map or something."
He remained quiet. I turned to speak to him more directly only to find that he wasn't behind me anymore. My stomach dropped as I looked around at the sea of people.
"William?" I called out. "William!"
It was no good. I'd have to literally scream if I wanted to breach the drone of the crowd, and I couldn't afford to draw too much attention to myself. There was also the possibility that he'd forgotten his name again anyway. I adjusted the straps of my backpack and sighed deeply before doubling back. He couldn't have wandered too far away, and he'd be easy to spot against the horde of people in more modern clothing.
I kept close to the storefronts as I picked up my pace. I began to peer into each store as I passed them. The longer I searched, the more I worried. He wasn't in his right mind. He'd get himself noticed and captured if he let too much slip, or pulled down his hood. I came to the turn we had taken after we'd left the picture boxes. He was with me at this point, I was sure of it. I turned around and swallowed as I scanned the crowd.
This was really, really, bad.
"William?" I tried again. I decided to cross the street and nearly got run over by one of their vehicles. It screeched to a stop and when I lowered my arms, I found the front of the metallic machine inches from my face.
"Git the fuck oudda da road!" shouted the pilot, shaking his fist in the air. I quickly scurried onto the opposite sidewalk and made my way down the street with the flow of the crowd. I kept my eyes peeled as I walked. It was difficult to see over everyone's shoulders. Diesillians were a good deal taller than Galgians as a rule, and it made it a nightmare for an average-sized guy like myself. Just when I was about to start asking around, something caught my ear.
Something I never expected to hear– music.
I stopped in my tracks and the public parted around me like a river around a boulder. I turned toward the sound and followed my ears to a large silver pavilion nestled between two tall buildings. It looked like an empty lot that had been designed for another tall building but instead served as some sort of inner-city courtyard where live entertainment performed.
I slowly approached as a woman stood in front of a mic stand singing while a band performed with shining metallic instruments behind her. She had black hair styled in a way I'd never seen hair styled. It was pulled up and around under a hat and shined the same as her red lipstick did. But what awed me the most was that she was singing.
No danger; no combat; no sign of beasts being summoned forth. She sang beautifully, adding something to music that I had never in my life once considered because in Galgia, to sing was to slaughter. Music was a tool of war and forbidden entirely outside of such circumstances, for if one of us were even to hum, anything could come crawling out of the resulting portal.
But here she was, singing what I presumed were the words to a poem in perfect rhythm and harmony with the band that played behind her.
"You're my machine, my heart's ignition. The gears that keep my love in motion. You're the engine that never tires– the pistons set my soul on fire."
I was completely taken in. It was therefore no surprise to me that here in the crowd, I spotted Tovin watching her with equal admiration from the edge of the stage. I weaved through the crowd as politely as I was able and then stopped next to him. He glanced at me before quickly returning his eyes back to the stage. I didn't say anything to him; no words needed said so long as she was singing.
"You, my dear, a love machine, the one that keeps my bearings clean– I'm addicted to your engine's roar, your power's what I'm living for."
I wasn't a hundred percent sure what she was talking about, but it was clearly a love song written for one lucky guy. When the song was finished, she ever so slightly lifted her ruby-red dress from the sides and took a bow. The crowd clapped, a few whistles coming from somewhere behind us.
"Thank you," she said softly into the mic. "It's important to remember that love conquers all," she said, passing her deep black eyes over us. "Hatred fades over time, but love lasts; it endures. This next song is about a long lost love and reconnection."
We stayed and listened to a couple more songs before she left the stage, and the band with her. She disappeared on promises of returning tomorrow for a second show. Of all the things thus far I had seen in the land of our enemy, something so sweet as non-weaponized music ranked among the most surprising and awe-inspiring.
As the crowd began to disperse back onto the main street, I turned to Tovin. "Hey, do me a favor and don't disappear like that. I didn't know where you were and we've got to stick together."
"Can we come back here tomorrow?" he asked, completely ignoring what I'd said. He stared at me with hopeful eyes, a small smile on his face. It still felt strange of him to ask me permission for anything, but I couldn't deny that it was a pretty magical performance.
"Only if we live that long," I answered with a heaping helping of snark. "We need money so we can get off these streets tonight. Come on, we're losing daylight."
He looked past my shoulder and suddenly pointed. "What about that?"
I turned to see a bulletin board posted on the side of a building not far from us. On it were several posts, but one of them specifically read, "200 Octim Sign-On Bonus." The two of us walked up the board and looked over the job.
"There's a sign-on bonus," Tovin said as his eyes moved down the paper. "The Empress needs you. Galgian dogs sent monsters to run amok in our fair empire. Officials are spread thin amidst heightened tensions with Galgia's military. Find and kill monsters for bounties. Seek employment at the Hunters' Barracks at 443 Alloy Avenue on the north side of town. Look for the men in uniform."
"Monsters?" I asked. "There aren't any monsters in Galgia. None in all of Aurii if our textbooks are accurate."
"You want to at least check it out?" he asked.
"I think we'd be wasting our time," I said dismissively. "We hiked through a bunch of wilderness closer to the Galgian border and we didn't see anything all night."
He folded his arms. "Then let's get our sign-on bonus and leave."
That was such a fantastic point that I pushed my palm against my forehead and visibly cringed. "Oof. Why am I so dumb?" I whined.
"I don't think you're dumb," Tovin said as he moved down the bulletin board to look at other flyers. "I think you're just honest to a fault. It never would have occurred to you to do something so underhanded."
I would never get used to compliments from Tovin. It was like watching a different person wear his body and speak with his voice. Had life at ENU really been such a drag on him?
"None of these other jobs are offering money upfront," he added, turning to face me. "Let's head to the north side of town and see if we can find Alloy Avenue."
x - - x - - x - - ★ - - x - - x - - x
The walk was long and difficult– not because it was too far, but because we had to pass so much delicious-smelling food along the way. I hadn't been sure before if Tovin was as hungry as I was, but the north side of Bronzegirder was quiet enough to hear both of our stomachs growling in concert with one another. The buildings were made of brick in the district we wandered through, and the walkways were closer to cobblestone like the kind we had back home. The roads were three times as wide, there were benches along the walkways, and they had planted trees caged in black iron gates at the trunks. The few people that strolled the sidewalks on Alloy Avenue were well-to-do, dressed in expensive-looking suits and wearing high hats with wide brims.
"I like this side of town better," Tovin said as we looked for building addresses. "Though I have to say, I'm surprised to see trees in the collossity."
"Goes a little against what we were taught doesn't it?" I asked.
"I don't recall being taught anything," he grumbled. "It's just another thing I somehow know."
I cast him a sympathetic glance and he didn't seem to like it. He scowled at me, "Don't you pity me."
"I'm not," I rolled my eyes. "I'd never feel bad for you Tovin, not in a thousand years."
"Just shut up," he snapped. "We're here."
He stopped in front of a brick building with an impressive stone staircase that had bronze handrails running up the length of them. At the top were two men in uniform just as the flyer had indicated. He was the first to start up the steps and I quickly followed behind him. As we passed them I took a good look at their uniforms. I could have sworn that I'd seen them somewhere before. We walked up to the glass doors and pulled them open.
A blast of warm air blew over us as we entered the building and it was a welcome reprieve from the cold. Inside was smaller than I had anticipated. I was expecting high ceilings, murals, metal artwork, and all kinds of stuff from how nice the outside looked. Instead, we found ourselves standing in a dirty lobby about the size of a headmaster's office. There were several rows of chairs dotted with people filling out forms on clipboards. At the back of the lobby was a little window with a man sitting on the other side. He was dark-skinned, had a shaved head, and bore a grisly pink scar across his cheek. He waved us forward when he noticed us.
"Let me do the talking," I whispered to Tovin, taking the lead in front of him as we made our way over; he didn't protest.
"Afternoon, gentlemen," he spoke into a microphone that relayed his voice to us through a little black device on the window. "Thinking about joining up?"
Before I could even speak, Tovin leaned onto the counter. "So when you say monsters," he adopted a skeptical look. "You mean like the ones that don't exist?"
The man behind the counter rolled his eyes. "Oh, great, another conspiracy theorist."
"What did you call me?" Tovin shot back.
"Ahhh, ha ha," I called out loudly, pulling Tovin back by his shoulder. "My brother is better at fighting than talking," I covered quickly. "Just talk to me from here on in."
He cast me a disinterested glance before handing us both clipboards with forms attached. "Whatever. Just read the whole thing and sign the liability waiver at the bottom. He's free to deny their existence while they're chewing his face off, but the empire won't be responsible for it."
I took both of the clipboards and passed one to Tovin. The two of us sat down and began going through them– and immediately, we faced a problem. They wanted first and last names, home addresses, medical history, and something called landline numbers. Tovin and I exchanged glances; this wasn't going to work.
I stood up and slowly walked back up to the counter as I looked over the document. Every time I looked, it seemed more and more ridiculous. Blood type? Social security number? Insurance provider? I didn't know what any of this meant. It might as well have been in an entirely different language.
"Did you have a question?" asked the man behind the counter.
"Yeah, I don't have most of this information," I said, setting the clipboard down on the counter. "Sorry, but we're gonna have to just go."
"Well, hang on now," he said, reaching under the little pass-through window and retrieving the clipboard. "I take it you boys are homeless then?" he asked.
"Uhh... Yeah," I answered tentatively. Did they really have such a homeless problem that he was able to jump to that conclusion so quickly? "We don't know how to answer these questions, so thanks anyways."
"I said hang on, dammit," he called through the mic before swiveling around in his chair and pulling some kind of lever underneath it that caused it to sink lower to the floor. He opened a cabinet and began rifling through it. I peered through the window at his chair– it was on some kind of ball axis that allowed him to spin in it freely. I felt like every couple of minutes I was seeing something I'd never seen before. He swiveled back around and lifted his chair back up before he handing me a new form. It was more like a strip of paper with three questions on it.
Shirt size, shoe size, and pant size.
There was a second slip of paper underneath it. I looked back up at the window attendant as Tovin appeared next to me. I handed him the slip of paper and we exchanged glances.
"The empire isn't being picky right now," spoke the man through the speaker. "You'll be assigned a number, a gun, and a uniform. You won't be eligible for emergency care, and you can't be assigned to a party. It'll be just the two of you. If you're still interested, we need all the help we can get."
I shrugged at Tovin, and he got to work filling out the information. I leaned on the counter and jotted down my uniform size before signing the waiver and handing everything back. He took both of the documents and then nodded toward the door on his right. "Come on back."
He reached under the table and did something that caused the door to make a whirring sound. It popped open on its own, and he thumbed us over to it. "Close it on your way in. Walk straight down the hall and through the third door on your left. Your hunter number is 27B and his is 28B."
We walked down the hallway and found the designated door already opened and with a sign on the inside that read, "Uniforms HERE" with an arrow pointing into the room. We were met by a portly woman with bouncy curls that hung down to her shoulders. She sat behind a desk absolutely surrounded by hanging uniforms, all kept in clear covering. She sized us up with a retractable ruler– the coolest ruler I had ever seen. After she took our measurements, she began sifting through uniforms.
"Why did they ask us for our sizes if they were going to measure us?" Tovin grumbled.
"I don't know," I whispered. "Just be quiet."
"Don't tell me to be quiet," he shot back, elbowing me in the ribs.
She turned around holding two suits by the hangers, one in each hand. "Your uniforms will come out of your first bounty collected," she announced. "No money needed upfront. Change into them and make sure they fit." We took them from her and she breezed past us. "Holler out here when you're changed." She closed the door behind her.
We turned away from one another and began getting dressed. I pulled back the crinkly clear material and looked down at the uniform. Now that I was seeing it closer, it was actually an extremely dark shade of blue, rather than black as I had thought prior. I looked down at the hat and held it in my hands. I had seen it before. Then, all at once, it came rushing back to me.
These were the uniforms of the men that had come to the mine. They had come carrying guns to inspect the worksite after what had happened to Hammer. Skully must have thought a monster had gotten to him based on the state of his body. I stared down at the uniform in disbelief. Could monsters really be running around in Diesel territory?
"You better not be looking over here," Tovin warned.
They had mistaken what Tovin had done for a monster attack. Skully's "fonekall" wasn't a pilgrimage. It was some form of long-distance communication. She reached out to the capital to request aid from someone, and they sent these guys. I began to wonder if I was making a mistake. If we could be dispatched like that, then we could feasibly be sent back to the camp.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. We were only in it for the sign-on bonus. Once we had that in our hands, we'd be outta here. We could even jump to the next town. They knew nothing about us other than our clothing size. We could be dust in the wind by tomorrow morning.
I shoved those thoughts to the back of my mind and quickly got dressed. The uniform fit perfectly, it was comfortable, and best of all had been designed with a high collar. It covered our neck markings perfectly. I turned to see Tovin with the hat on already. He looked like a classic Diesel villain from a comic book I had read as a kid.
"It fits nice," he said, testing the range of motion he had in his arms. "I think this will work."
"Yeah," I nodded. "Let's get our money and get the hell out."
"Speaking my language," he smirked.
He moved for the door and leaned out, calling for the attendant. I looked at myself in the full-body mirror and did a quick turnaround. I had to admit, I looked pretty darn stylish. The white gloves, belt, and hat looked pretty good against the dark blue and gold buttons.
The woman returned and smiled at both of us, her curls bouncing as she tossed her gaze cartoonishly left and right between us. "You two look good!"
"Thanks," I smiled back. "When do we get our sign-on bonus?"
"Oh, don't worry about that just yet," she said, moving back to her desk. "Do you boys know how to shoot?" she asked as she sat down.
"Shoot?" Tovin asked.
"A gun," she clarified, her smile fading. "Have either of you shot a gun?"
"No, ma'am," I answered. "Our parents didn't let us near them growing up."
"That's no problem," she said, lifting her hands. "We're happy to teach you the basics. You'll just exit the room and go left down to the very end of the hallway. I'll buzz you through the double doors at the end, and Old Mitchell will take you from there."
Tovin audibly groaned, and I took him by the arm, leading him out of the room. We walked down the hallway as he bellyached about what a waste of time it was. It was unlike him to turn his nose up at the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a new weapon. In fact, he'd been acting weirdly childish lately. I didn't like it. It beat dealing with Tovin-Classic, but it was still a hassle. As we neared the end of the hallway, we began hearing the sound of guns being fired one by one.
The doors buckled and hummed the same as the first door had, and we pushed them open. We passed into a large room with Diesillians shooting at targets a good distance away. This was why the building was so large and the lobby was so small. The brick walls were covered in informational and safety posters, as well as what appeared to be schematics for the weapons themselves.
I looked across the large room to see a man striding toward us. He was wearing shiny black boots that were laced tightly to his calves. His pants and jacket were hunter green, and he bore perhaps the silliest mustache I'd ever seen; It was long and curled at the tips. I had to be careful not to snicker– his eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses, and I couldn't tell if he was watching me.
"New recruits?" he called out to us from entirely too far away.
"Yes sir," I called back. "My brother and I just signed up."
"Brothers!" he exclaimed. "I love it, dammit!" He stopped in front of us. He was chewing on something and was being as obnoxious as he possibly could about it. He was wearing perhaps the stupidest hat I had seen of the Diesel yet. It had no visible brim and was high on one side while sloping down toward the other. For the life of me, I couldn't discern the purpose of it.
"You boys know how to shoot?" he asked.
"No sir," I shook my head. "We're new at this."
"Good," he smiled widely. "That means you haven't formed any bad habits yet. I love newbies," he said before waving for us to follow him. "Come on, let's get you your rifles. I'm Mitch, but folks around here call me Old Mitchell."
"James," I said as I followed after him. "This is my brother William." It was difficult to talk over the noise of the weapons. I occasionally jumped when someone shot their gun nearby– a reflex I couldn't wait to be rid of. He led us to a small room; so small that it might as well have been a glorified safe. He disappeared inside and came back out holding two guns. The same long metal tubes Tovin and I had been attacked with at O'Malley's inn.
We each took one and promptly inspected it. Suddenly, Old Mitchell stepped forward and grabbed both of our guns by the barrel, lifting them so they were pointed at the ceiling.
"You boys ever even held one of these?" he barked. "Careful where you aim. Never point one of these at anything or anyone that you're not prepared to destroy."
"They sweep you, Mitch?" asked a man as he passed behind us.
"Pointed 'em right at me," he called back with a laugh. "We'll get 'em straightened out, don't you worry about that." He looked at us both, chewing aggressively. "Now I'm gonna let these rifles go. You keep 'em pointed up, you understand?"
"Yes, sir," I answered.
"Sure," Tovin said in a disinterested tone.
He let go of our rifles and we kept them pointed at the ceiling as we were told. I looked up and down the length of the tube before turning it over and inspecting the area under the barrel. It was split underneath with what looked like some kind of spring running along the length of the tube.
"They're not loaded," Mitch said, waving for us to follow him to the other side of the room. "But you will always treat them like they are. I'm going to show you how to load them over here. Set them down on the desk, I'm gonna stand between the two of you so I can watch you both."
I set my gun down in front of me and looked to my right. There was a box of what I presumed to be bullets. I expected them to be round pellet-like projectiles, but they were tubular with roughly textured heads on them.
"Turn your weapon over. You'll notice you can see a spring inside the bottom of the barrel. Close to the other end of your gun, you'll find a little round tab there. Take that tab and push it with your thumb all the way up toward the tip of the barrel. You'll then pop it out to the side there."
I did as he asked, and sure enough, the barrel popped out to the left at the tip of the weapon. I glanced over at Tovin who was struggling with the spring. Old Mitchell moved over and helped him with it. "Sometimes they get stuck," he muttered as he got Tovin to the same step I was at.
"Now," he shouted. "Take your ammunition right there in the box next to you, and begin placing the rounds into the underside of the barrel, flat side first. Then, you'll load more bullets into the gun overlapping one another. Be careful not to let the rounds collide with one another too heavily, or you could have a little accident."
I loaded the bullets carefully one after another until the barrel was about full. He checked on Tovin's rifle, and then inspected mine.
"Good. Now realign the barrel, there and come with me to the bay," he said, starting toward the practice range. I carefully lifted the weapon and rested it against my shoulder, turning with Tovin to follow him. When we stopped at the range, he motioned for Tovin first. "Come on, Will, we're gonna start with you."
"Pass," he said nonchalantly.
Old Mitchell blinked twice. "What?"
"I want to see Gill do it first," he said, stepping out of my way.
"It's a nickname," I said quickly, stepping up to the range. "Anyways, I'll go first, I don't mind, what do I do here?"
Mitch remained silent for a couple of seconds before clapping his hands once. "Okay! Well, go ahead and pull the hammer back."
I looked down at the weapon and then back up at him. Sensing my confusion, he carefully reached forward and pulled back a little tiny lever on the top of the rifle until it clicked. "That's called pulling the hammer back," he said. "Will, you watching this?"
He didn't wait for a response. "Next thing you're gonna do is pull that lever out underneath the gun. That's going to load the weapon with a fresh cartridge. You're gonna do that between every shot, now. Lift it up against your shoulder like this; get it snug in there." He pulled it against my shoulder. "Look down the iron sight there at the tip of the rifle and line it up against your target. Your weapon is primed and ready to fire. You're good for fifteen shots before you've got to reload. You can always flip it over to see how many bullets are left. Go ahead and aim carefully, and try and hit that target paper down there."
At the end of the range, there was a piece of paper with a silhouette of a human head, shoulders, and torso. I closed one eye for better aim and held the gun tightly as I lined up my shot.
"Don't pull the trigger," Mitch advised in my left ear. "Squeeze it. Squeeze the trigger until it doesn't move easily anymore. Then when you're sure about your aim, squeeze with just that little bit of extra strength you need."
I did as he said, and felt what he was referring to. With my target in sight, my hand steady, and my aim as true as I could hope for, I fired the weapon. The shot rang out right in my ear, but interestingly enough, it wasn't so bad when I was the one firing. I was ready for it, and expecting it.
"Holy smokes!" exclaimed Mitch. "You put one right between the eyes!"
"Beginners's luck," said a man from behind me. "I did the same thing first time I shot, and never did it again."
"Let's prove him wrong, James," Old Mitchell laughed. "Now use that lever under the gun to eject the casing and load a fresh bullet."
I pulled the lever and the shiny little bullet casing popped out the top and flew over my shoulder. It was a really satisfying feeling.
"Do I pull the hammer again? I asked.
"Nope, it'll pop back down. You'll only pull that hammer back the first time. Go ahead and fire again, only this time, aim for the neck."
"Alright," I said, closing my eye and tightening my focus. I squeezed the trigger just as I had the first time and shot a hole straight through the center of the target's neck. I lifted my head and smiled. "I hit it!"
"No way," said the man behind me. "Ain't never shot before, my ass. He's taking you for a ride, Mitch."
"You're sure you're new at this, son?" Old Mitchell asked, one eye half shut. "That's really impressive, kid. Seriously, if this is your first time holding a rifle, you might be cut out for the military. Had a staff sergeant with worse aim than you."
"Alright, alright," Tovin pushed me aside. "My turn. Let me show you something you'll never forget."
The two of us took turns shooting for hours. We hadn't even noticed the time going by. For once, it seemed Tovin had found something he wasn't naturally amazing at, and it was infuriating him to no end.
Conversely, I found something I was really, really good at. I hit my target almost every time, and to be honest, I couldn't figure out what was so difficult about it. A crowd had gathered to watch me shoot. I got really swift with the lever, and could shoot out both of a target's eyes, and put one in its forehead in a matter of seconds.
Tovin wasn't a bad shot, but I knew how he felt. If he wasn't first, he was last as far as he was concerned, and at one point he about threw his rifle. Old Mitchell had to talk to him about how some things come naturally to others, and how he shouldn't be discouraged from coming to the range and practicing.
It was rich hearing Tovin get that talk of all people. The natural genius that outshined everyone, struggling with something for the very first time. I almost couldn't believe I was better than him at something, and of course, it just had to be the thing that we'd never do again once we found our friends and went back home.
Our friends.
We were wasting time here. "Hey, Mitchel," I turned toward him. "When do we get our sign-on bonus? It was supposed to be something like 200 octims."
"You get your sign-on bonus when you bring back your first bounty," he responded quickly.
"What?" Tovin shouted. "That's not fair! We signed on, now where's our money?"
I was equally upset. We were lied to. But it made sense that they couldn't just hand us uniforms, cash, and a gun, and let us go. They wanted to make sure we at least killed a monster.
"It's fine," I said with a sigh. "Where can we find bounties?"
"It's not fine," Tovin protested.
I yanked him by the collar of his shirt and looked him in the eyes. "It's fine," I said slowly and firmly. "We'll run out, bag a monster, and be back before dark."
He held eye contact with me for several seconds before shrugging me off of him and walking away. He stormed across the bay and left through the double doors at the other end of the room.
"My brother was the same way," said Mitch. "Hard-headed. Stubborn as a mule. Loyal as anyone you'd ever meet though."
He had no idea. Tovin wasn't just difficult, but he was turning into a walking liability. I didn't know how much longer I could take him acting like this. Suddenly, Mitch extended his arm, pointing to a door adjacent to where he'd gotten our guns from.
"Bounty board is in there. Come on, I'll show you."
It was a medium-sized room with several corkboards wall to wall filled with bounties. Every monster was named and almost all of them were sketched to a professional degree. You could find how much money the monster was going for, which hunters it had killed, where it was last seen, as well as whether or not there were hunters currently after it.
They had a system where you would notate which monster you were going after, and if you didn't return, they'd add your name under the list of hunters that died searching for it. There were so many monsters I couldn't believe it, and according to Old Mitchell, these were only the monsters within a five-mile radius of Bronzegirder.
I learned the process of choosing a bounty and chose a smaller monster with no names under its fatality list. Mitch agreed it was a good monster for beginners, and offered a few pointers for tracking it. I submitted the bounty request and got it approved before leaving the bay and heading down the hall in search of Tovin. I entered the lobby and didn't see him. I left the building and found him at the top of the steps staring out into the street where a couple of vehicles were hauling something massive together under a tarp.
Several uniformed hunters were walking slowly next to the vehicles. Their uniforms were tattered and bloodstained, and a few of them walked with a limp. We watched as the exhausted men passed the building on their way down the road. Two of them were sobbing silently, but we could tell by their exposed teeth and wrinkled expressions that they'd lost someone.
From beneath the tarp, a scaly limb fell off the side of the vehicle and dangled lifelessly. It was a reptilian-looking arm with an open wound, and the shredded remnants of a uniform hanging from its claws.
"Gill," Tovin said quietly. "Is that..."
"Yeah," I answered.
"That's definitely a monster."
Writing Prompt Submitted by u/My-Last-Hope
submitted by a15minutestory to A15MinuteMythos [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:49 Flimsy-Barnacle9850 Help IDing Old Ring

Can anyone help give any information about this ring? It reminds me of a cornucopia spilling out gems lol. I really know nothing about it except for the back story posted below. Its definitely old. It has a 24k gold stamp that is almost completely worn down. It has no other stamps/makers marks. The diamonds are old mine cut, & they are real. Under a loupe at 60x you can see some very small inclusions. They also test positive for Diamond on Diamond tester. I have no idea if the rubies are legit or not. I don’t know much about rubies or red gemstones at all. They test in Diamond range on Diamond tester. They are square & step cut. Very clear, can see right thru them, with some inclusions like needling/silk.. some surface blemishes on some of the stones. Tried to scratch test them but they scratched glass. Could they be glass filled rubies or spinel? Garnet? Tourmaline? I just don’t know. Any idea on the origin of the ring? The old mine cut diamonds and 24k gold setting make me think it really is very old. I would love to know the period of time it came from or anything to point me in the right direction.
Back Story of how I got it - Almost 10 years ago, I met up with an older lady off fb marketplace to purchase a vintage solid 18k gold ring.. her listing didn’t mention it being 18k and neither did she when I got there. She simply referred to it as a gaudy man’s ring lol. I mentioned it being a cool vintage style ring and she explained that it was owned by her father since at least the mid-late 80s. She seemed to appreciate my admiration for the vintage find & said if I really do like old stuff then she had another piece she wanted to show me. She brought this ring out. She said it was even older than the first one.. that her father owned it her whole life since she could remember and believed it to be passed down to him by relatives prior but wasn’t really sure. She didn’t really seem to care about the value or history of either of them, just that they were among several pieces she inherited and that these just sat in a box cuz they were too ugly to wear so it was time to part with them.
I asked her if she had gotten this one appraised and she said no, after her dad left it to her it went into her jewelry box and never saw the light of day again. There was a pawn shop on the corner near her house and I asked if she had taken them there and she kinda ranted a bit about how she brought a gold necklace there and they offered her much less than it was worth melted & that everything in there was grossly overpriced so she would never offer them any more of her business. She ended up selling both rings to me for like 60 bucks total.
submitted by Flimsy-Barnacle9850 to ThriftStoreHauls [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:44 PepperedNacho AITA for refusing to pickup my kid from school on my day off?

I share custody of my child on a 4:3 split which I have the majority. My child’s mom is supposed to pick up from school Tuesday through Thursday. This makes today my day off from picking up.
I have a stressful and busy job that I have to plan around. The mom knows this but still somehow gets scheduled on her pickup day. She texted me asking to pick up today.
I asked why is she being scheduled on her pickup day? Is it not clear with her boss or what? Didn’t get a real answer.
I’ve been accommodating before when this situation has come up but I’m tired of taking the shit end of the stick: whether it’s paying her rent in full because her and her fiancé somehow can’t manage (didn’t ask to pay back), taking my kid to her moms on holidays when her mom is supposed to pick up, or this (not the first time).
After stating, “you need to figure it out. I’m tired of taking the shit end of the stick” I was cussed out, threatened with court and then blocked.
Am I not seeing something or am I being manipulated? AITA?
submitted by PepperedNacho to AmItheAsshole [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:42 Flimsy-Barnacle9850 ID this old ring

Can anyone help give any information about this ring? It reminds me of a cornucopia spilling out gems lol. I really know nothing about it except for the back story posted below. Its definitely old. It has a 24k gold stamp that is almost completely worn down. It has no other stamps/makers marks. The diamonds are old mine cut, & they are real. Under a loupe at 60x you can see some very small inclusions. They also test positive for Diamond on Diamond tester. I have no idea if the rubies are legit or not. I don’t know much about rubies or red gemstones at all. They test in Diamond range on Diamond tester. They are square & step cut. Very clear, can see right thru them, with some inclusions like needling/silk.. some surface blemishes on some of the stones. Tried to scratch test them but they scratched glass. Could they be glass filled rubies or spinel? Garnet? Tourmaline? I just don’t know. Any idea on the origin of the ring? The old mine cut diamonds and 24k gold setting make me think it really is very old. I would love to know the period of time it came from or anything to point me in the right direction.
Back Story of how I got it - Almost 10 years ago, I met up with an older lady off fb marketplace to purchase a vintage solid 18k gold ring.. her listing didn’t mention it being 18k and neither did she when I got there. She simply referred to it as a gaudy man’s ring lol. I mentioned it being a cool vintage style ring and she explained that it was owned by her father since at least the mid-late 80s. She seemed to appreciate my admiration for the vintage find & said if I really do like old stuff then she had another piece she wanted to show me. She brought this ring out. She said it was even older than the first one.. that her father owned it her whole life since she could remember and believed it to be passed down to him by relatives prior but wasn’t really sure. She didn’t really seem to care about the value or history of either of them, just that they were among several pieces she inherited and that these just sat in a box cuz they were “too ugly to wear” so it was time to part with them.
I asked her if she had gotten this one appraised and she said no, after her dad left it to her, it went into her jewelry box and never saw the light of day again. There was a pawn shop on the corner near her house and I asked if she had taken them there and she kinda ranted a bit about how she brought a gold necklace there and they offered her much less than it was worth melted & that everything in there was grossly overpriced so she would never offer them any more of her business. She ended up selling both rings to me for like 60 bucks total.
submitted by Flimsy-Barnacle9850 to whatsthisworth [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:41 Next-Isopod-641 Giving the chance it deserves! This weeks first stream on Kick!
submitted by Next-Isopod-641 to stream [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:34 ThrowRA147936 My(26F) mom(58F) said she wants to die but I don't know what to say or how to react.

All my life I've been my mom's therapist for her severe depression. Literally all my life, I remember her venting to me about our lack of money and how my dad sucks when I saw 2. It's made me start just seizing up when she gets emotional now because idk what to say or do and any time I try to help she doesn't seem to hear me. She's been crapped on her whole life, by her parents, friends, brother, and husband. I loved my grandparents but they treated me better than they treated my mom. My mom idolizes them and hasn't been the same since either one passed but I can't begin to imagine what it's like to loose a parent. My grandfather payed everyone's bills and he fixed everything that was broken. He was the first to go and it hit my mom hard because she acts like we was Jesus. My grandpaw was a great guy but he was of the older flawed mindset when it came to women and also jobs so I don't think he ever acknowledge my mom's art career as a real job. Neither did my grandmaw. But my grandmaw and uncle had to qualms about regularly going out to eat on my mom's art money. My grandparents were good sometimes but they could also say some not good things. They weren't evil but the me now wouldn't have delt with them talking to me the way they talked to my mom. Back in the day I was extremely depressed had severe anxiety and would have let someone beat the crap out of me if it meant I could keep them happy. I went to therapy though and take meds now. My mom doesn't go to therapy but she takes meds even though they don't seem to work. Her living environment ment probably makes her depressed. My parents are hoarders so their house is disgusting and the toilet broke so they have no toilet or running water. Their "saving grace" is the fact they live in the middle of the woods so it's not like anyone will see them going to the bathroom outside. My dad's probably depressed too but he's extremely stubborn and would never in a million years go to therapy. He just says mean things to my mom instead. Though sometimes she repeats the "mean things" he says and they're actually really supportive, proactive, and not mean at all. It's extremely confusing. I've recommended therapy and she says she could use it but that's it. It's like she's lost the ability to do anything for herself anymore. She also things people are constantly judging her so I'm not sure if she could even keep going to a therapist if she got one. I'm worried she would not like what they say and decide to not see them anymore. I don't know what to say or do for her but I want and need her to get better. I want to see the happier mom, heck I'd like to meet the whole new mom since I've only known depressed mom. I also have two daughters now and I'm afraid she's going to start trying to cry to them like she did with me and it's not ok. The mean and hurtful things she can say when she's down are not ok and she definitely can't say them to my daughters.
TL;DR: My mom's(58F) severely depressed and has been my(26F) entire life. She told me she wants to die but I have no idea what to say or do. I don't want her to be depressed anymore though. I want her to get help and stick with it but I have no idea how to convince her. I'm worried she's going to try and use my daughters as therapist just like how she's used me as her therapist my entire life. What can I do or say to her?
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2023.03.21 18:33 JC273699 New Year

did you make an attempt at a lifestyle change, dissolution of a bad habit, or other "New Year" resolutions, that didn't seem to pan out?
Only this dystopian hell-scape would encourage us to make drastic changes to our lives while the world around us is stalled, frozen, and bare. How are we supposed to nurture a Spark when we are annoyed & hassled with maintaining our body temperature? Life mimics Life. Cycles mimic Cycles.
Yesterday, with the Vernal Equinox, we officially moved into the Time when the Earth begins to re-awaken, to be drizzled with hydrating rains, breaths of warm air, and the promise of germination & New Life. & Today (right now), less than 24 hours later, is the New Moon in Aries.
THIS is a time of New Beginnings. THIS is when the Earth, and subsequently, the inhabitants of Earth are primed to ignite the Fire that will see them through New Beginnings.
NOW is when you make your resolutions,
NOW is the Time to Light the Fire,
NOW is the New Year...
you didn't do wrong by not sticking to a new routine when it's 20 degrees out with no Sun. Now is your Time. Absorb the morning & evening Light through the Crown. Allow the electrons ripe on the Earth's surface to course through your feet & neutralize those pesky free-radicals. Light down through the Crown, Magnetism up through the feet. Complete the circuit.
Let them sink the tentacles of fear, war, and disease into your mind, and you will see the progression of the dystopian nightmare.
Learn to identify, appreciate, and contribute to the beauty that is emerging all over the Earth, and you will see the Return to the Light.
with everything escalating on the global stage, ask yourself --is this really what i want to sacrifice to AGAIN? incessant fighting over this week/month's new argument fodder? the next political scandal?
or do I want to put all of my skills, energy, and focus into creating the New World -- one based on a connection to & reverence for nature; producing and sharing real food; the tracking of Celestial Bodies; and a love & appreciation for all Life on Earth?
You get to decide if you will see Heaven or Hell.
submitted by JC273699 to conspiracy [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:33 JC273699 New Year

did you make an attempt at a lifestyle change, dissolution of a bad habit, or other "New Year" resolutions, that didn't seem to pan out?
Only this dystopian hell-scape would encourage us to make drastic changes to our lives while the world around us is stalled, frozen, and bare. How are we supposed to nurture a Spark when we are annoyed & hassled with maintaining our body temperature? Life mimics Life. Cycles mimic Cycles.
Yesterday, with the Vernal Equinox, we officially moved into the Time when the Earth begins to re-awaken, to be drizzled with hydrating rains, breaths of warm air, and the promise of germination & New Life. & Today (right now), less than 24 hours later, is the New Moon in Aries.
THIS is a time of New Beginnings. THIS is when the Earth, and subsequently, the inhabitants of Earth are primed to ignite the Fire that will see them through New Beginnings.
NOW is when you make your resolutions,
NOW is the Time to Light the Fire,
NOW is the New Year...
you didn't do wrong by not sticking to a new routine when it's 20 degrees out with no Sun. Now is your Time. Absorb the morning & evening Light through the Crown. Allow the electrons ripe on the Earth's surface to course through your feet & neutralize those pesky free-radicals. Light down through the Crown, Magnetism up through the feet. Complete the circuit.
Let them sink the tentacles of fear, war, and disease into your mind, and you will see the progression of the dystopian nightmare.
Learn to identify, appreciate, and contribute to the beauty that is emerging all over the Earth, and you will see the Return to the Light.
with everything escalating on the global stage, ask yourself --is this really what i want to sacrifice to AGAIN? incessant fighting over this week/month's new argument fodder? the next political scandal?
or do I want to put all of my skills, energy, and focus into creating the New World -- one based on a connection to & reverence for nature; producing and sharing real food; the tracking of Celestial Bodies; and a love & appreciation for all Life on Earth?
You get to decide if you will see Heaven or Hell.
submitted by JC273699 to starseeds [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:26 mrsue89 Can't figure out if Waltham pocket watch is gold.

Can't figure out if Waltham pocket watch is gold.
I aquired this pocket watch and having a tough time figuring out if it was gold or not. I know the chain on the watch is not original and not gold. There is not gold mark on the inside of the watch. The watch is from late 1890s per the serial number of the movement. There is a small diamond on the back of the watch. Someone told me per the Waltham Hallmark on the watch it should be gold but I'm unsure about that being there is no gold mark. I've done a stone acid test and the gold held under 14k and 10k. Don't believe it would have if it was rolled gold or gold filled. Thinking I'm just having my doubts of it being real since no gold mark but needed some advice. Thanks.
submitted by mrsue89 to pocketwatch [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 18:05 sideswipe781 UFC San Antonio Betting Preview (& UFC 286 Review)

Bet record: 17-31, Staked: 53.75u, Profit/Loss: +4.96u, ROI: 9.24%, Parlay Suggestions: 21-6
If you’re not bothered about my ramblings on last week’s opinions, scroll down for UFC San Antonio Breakdowns
(For context, my UFC 286 Preview for that event can be found here:

UFC 286
Bets: 4-3, +5.74u, Parlay Suggestions: 3-1
✅ 3u Gunnar Nelson & Marvin Vettori both to Win (-115)
✅ 2u Jack Shore & Impa Kasangany to Win (-180)
✅ 1u Jack Shore to Win in Round 2 or 3 (+241)
❌ 1.5u Omar Morales to Win (-110)
✅ 1u Leon Edwards to Win (+250)
❌ 1u Juliana Miller & Omran Chaaban to Win (-125)
❌ 0.25u Marvin Vettori, Gunnar Nelson, Jack Shore & Juliana Miller all to Win (+205)
As I said in my initial comments about UFC 286, I think it really under delivered from a fan perspective because of the lack of high level UK prospects. Without a Molly McCann, Darren Till, Paddy Pimblett or a Tom Aspinall, the fans just weren’t as excited or vocal throughout the card.
With that said, I’m always having fun if I’m making money! This was my third winning event in a row, a streak of over 10u profit in March. It was obviously a card of strong favourites but I’m mostly happy with the spots I chose to pull the trigger on. The Nelson/Vettori parlay was nice as both men delivered exactly what I expected them to, and Jack Shore also came through to cash a bigger priced prop bet. It’s really satisfying when your reads on fights turn out to be spot on, and your bets cash with relative ease as a result. Here's some live thoughts on the card + my breakdowns:
- So proud of Leon Edwards man, that was one hell of a performance. The way he levelled up that takedown defence and made his shots count in the clinch. It was one of those complicated fights to score in that he was moving backwards and fighting defensively for the most part, but he certainly landed more shots and had the better moments. Really happy to have gotten 2/1 and 3/1 (boosted) on the dog there.
- Jesus Christ Rafael Fiziev is quick. The combinations he was throwing in the first minute of round three were some of the most terrifying spurts of offence I’ve seen in some time. And then just a minute or so later Justin Gaethje starts winging massive uppercuts and cannot miss with them. That was such a good fight, real back and forth stuff. I feel like Gaethje was lowkey a really good underdog spot all week but it’s hard to give those opinions credence sometimes when the masses are all hyping up Fiziev. At least I identified Fiziev was not a good bet.
- Massive shoutout to Gunnar Nelson for performing exactly like a -400 should, as I expected him to! He got in, landed a takedown, and found the sub soon after. I still wish he would have done that against Takashi Sato, bur he rounded out the parlay with Vettori and made it a winning night for me! Along with Hadley, he was the best parlay option on the card (as I suggested).
- Casey O’Neill didn’t shoot for a takedown. Not the fight anyone was expecting. It’s disappointing when that happens but there’s not really a whole lot you can do. Jennifer Maia is a really underrated striker so god knows why Casey chose that path. When you consider the way Jake Hadley approached his fight and compare it with O’Neill…that’s the difference between good fight IQ and bad. I actually said in my analysis “I trust O’Neill’s dedication to her gameplan here” which is hilarious. Don’t think I can be blamed for not seeing it coming though haha.
- All week I was a little bit confused by all the love for Roman Dolidze, as I got on Marvin Vettori pretty early and didn’t really see a whole lot of reasoning that I understood. To be perfectly honest, Dolidze had more success than I expected him to, and any fighter other than Vettori would probably have wilted and got stopped. With that said, that’s exactly why I bet Marvin, so I don’t necessarily think it was a bad read at all. A solid parlay leg.
- Jack Shore vs Makwan Amirkhani played out exactly as I expected it to. Amirkhani’s a good grappler, so I wasn’t surprised nor worried when he clearly won round 1. In fact, I was more confident in winning my bets as soon as the horn sounded, and it showed. I don’t really understand how a professional fighter can have such a glaring cardio issue and not address it or adjust his style. I hope they keep Makwan around, those Round 2/3 props will always be good. Happy to finally win one of those bigger priced prop bets. I’ve historically been pretty good with props but somehow been on a dry patch since I started posting here.
- Chris Duncan v Morales was a frustrating one. Morales will look back on that one and be pissed off at himself, because he should absolutely be winning that. Chris Duncan really isn’t very good and I am already looking forward to fading him in the future. Hope they try and build him up because there’ll be a good fade waiting to happen. Annoying fight to lose but fair play to Duncan for identifying the path to victory. Glad I went with a smaller stake for a volatile fight.
- A shame what happened to Dusko Todorovic. Christian Leroy Duncan is a really exciting striker so I was looking forward to seeing more of him, but you never want to see that happen. I hope we don’t have to wait until the next England card for C L Duncan’s next fight, but I also hope they give him a bit of a lay-up for to allow for a proper “debut”.
- Nicely done from Jake Hadley, making use of his striking advantage and not getting sucked into a grappling affair. Always annoys me when someone has a distinct advantage but doesn’t use it because it’s not their plan A. He was the best parlay piece of the card. Good for Hadley and I’m excited to see what else he has to offer. Wish I’d gone with him instead of backing Juliana Miller.
- I was keeping half an eye on Herbert/Klein and Wood/Carolina whilst at work. Doesn’t look like I missed a whole lot and haven't bothered to rewatch.
- Juliana Miller with an awful performance. Veronica Macedo looked much improved but it didn’t take a whole lot to defeat an opponent with no plan B. I didn’t anticipate Macedo being the stronger fighter of the two, which changed a whole lot. Poor decision from me to back an inexperienced fighter at -400 like that. Grim. Inexperience really showed.

UFC San Antonio
I'm really excited for the main event of this one, very glad they put this fight together. Unfortunately the headliner is a massive cut above the rest of the card in terms of popularity and calibre, but we’ve had worse cards this year, I don’t mind it. Usually I’d rejoice over the fact we aren’t in the Apex…but we are in Texas, where judging has been historically AWFUL. There isn’t a whole lot we can really do with that information though, except consider how much of a fighter’s win probability is based around them finding a finish. Fighters who are likely to win without the judges getting involved will be the less volatile spots this week.
From a betting perspective, it’s a very weak card. The bookies have done a really good job of pricing the punters out of any value, as my conclusions to most fights see me lining it pretty close to the books, where there ends up being no real numerical edge on either side! Nonetheless, I’ve broken down most of the bouts on the card below:

Cory Sandhagen v Marlon Vera
Marlon Vera has always been one of my favourite fighters. Backing him to win inside the distance when he was a prelim fighter was a spot I always looked out for back in the day, so it’s great to see him climb so high in the rankings. I always support and ride with the fighters that make me money over the years, and Vera has been one of the best of them.
Unfortunately, Vera’s always relied on his power and finishing ability to really carry him through fights, as there are a lot of instances where he’s down on the overall scorecards, before finding a finish. His wins over Dominic Cruz and Frankie Edgar are the two best examples recently, but his issue of being a slow starter also made this applicable in wins over Davey Grant, Nohelin Hernandez and Guido Cannetti. Also similarly, he was being thoroughly outboxed by Rob Font in their main event encounter last year, but the Ecuadorian was stealing rounds with knockdowns in a very similar way.
Considering I expect this fight against Cory Sandhagen to be a closely contested one, Vera’s inability to win minutes and start strong could end up becoming a problem here. The pivotal question in this fight is whether or not Vera can hurt or finish Sandhagen, as I certainly lean towards favouring Cory if this fight goes the distance and Vera hasn’t scored multiple knockdowns.
Vera is one of the most dangerous guys P4P on the roster, with KO and Submission potential across all five rounds – but Sandhagen has been pretty damn durable in his MMA career. Aljamain Sterling was the only man of 19 able to finish Cory, and it came in under 90 seconds. Sandhagen’s performance there was such a disappointment that I’m convinced there was something else going on that hindered him that night. Petr Yan also dropped Sandhagen with a spinning back fist combo, but that seemed very much like Cory getting caught unaware – and he looked like he recover instantly.
Given the calibre that Sandhagen has fought against in the last four years – I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt in assuming he can stay safe here. If that is the case I expect him to win rounds with superior output and a faster pace – especially considering he’s got a high likelihood of being one round up after five minutes.
I’m not super confident in that take though as it’s hardly on the level of Garbrandt vs Jones or something! So it’s a fight I’m definitely lining as quite close. Sandhagen deserves to be deemed the favourite for the above reasons, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Vera’s dangerousness was enough to tip the balance in his favour, or if he was able to win a round by just point striking anyway.
I saw a stat this week that said there have been 10 rounds in 2023 where a knockdown is landed but the round still ended and was scored. Of those scorecards, the fighter landing the knockdown won 8 of 10 times. Whilst it’s highly implied that a knockdown means you’re more likely to win the round based off how the following minutes take place, that does still imply the judges are leaning towards awarding damage over minute winning (I personally hate the way MMA judging has gone these days but it is what it is). Just something to consider when you think about Chito’s path to victory.
At the end of the day, it’s an intriguing fight, and not one I think anyone should be rushing to the betting window for due to the small margins in the various skill discrepancies.
How I line this fight: Cory Sandhagen -150 (60%), Marlon Vera +150 (40%)
Bet or Pass: Pass

Holly Holm v Yana Santos
Holly Holm is one of those fighters who makes your memory play tricks on you. I instinctively feel like I have a good read on her style and overall calibre, but then when I watch tape she’s always a much more underwhelming version of that fighter I have in my head. She just doesn’t really put her stamp on rounds – spending too much time in the clinch and does not have high enough volume. 3.24 significant strikes landed per 15 minutes is a shockingly low number, especially considering it’s Women’s MMA and Holm has a lot of in cage time. To make matters worse, Holm averages 0.72 takedowns per 15 minutes and is now 41 years old.
Whilst there’s a lot of data to crunch on Holm, there’s actually a surprisingly smaller sample size on Yana Santos. Considering Kunitskaya (previous surname) has been a known name in Women’s MMA for some time, it’s pretty crazy to think she only has 7 UFC appearances to her name – most of which are against a lesser calibre than Holly Holm. She’s also coming off a two year lay-off having had a child with Thiago Santos, which adds further uncertainty to an already tepid read.
As I’m sure you may have noticed by now, this breakdown is much more stat-based than I typically offer (though Women’s MMA is a lot more accessible for stats), because I honestly cannot bring myself to re-watch Holly Holm’s career and I’m instead relying on what the numbers are telling me. Perhaps that’s a bit lazy, but this is the 8th week of UFC cards in a row and I am feeling very burnt out! I just don’t think either woman has a particularly commanding style, and there’s a hell of a lot of intangibles floating around this fight (old age, post-child birth, lay-offs, levels of competition, Texas judging etc), so it’s a very easy pass.
How I line this fight: I won’t line a fight I haven’t taped, but I do not recommend Holm at this price.
Bet or Pass: Pass

Nate Landwehr v Austin Lingo
It’s a shame Alex Caceres had to pull out of the originally scheduled bout against Nate Landwehr, but good to see they managed to find Austin Lingo a fight so soon after the Ricardo Ramos one fell through a couple of weeks ago (still annoyed I didn’t get to cash some easy money there). From a fan perspective, this bout is probably the most entertaining of the three available!
Both dudes are hardnosed strikers that like to fight gritty and wear out their opponents. Neither are particularly gifted from a technique perspective, but you’d be hard pressed to find fighters that can out work these two. Pitting them against one another is going to lead to an exhausting fight.
Landwehr is the much more experienced of the two and has clearly had more career success implementing the brawling style, but I think this is just one of those matchups that’s going to be fought quite closely, given how it should play out. Landwehr relies on sheer busyness and drowning his opponents to win rounds but, if he can’t necessarily do that to Lingo, do you really have a whole lot of confidence that he’s going to be the clear round winner? The guy gets hit by 5.56 significant strikes per minute. Considering we are in Texas and there is added volatility to the judging, any fighter that can land 5.56 S.Strikes is live to win a round or two!
Landwehr’s key to winning this fight is going to be in his wrestling, as that’s where he will clearly assert himself. But can he even get it there though? Lingo’s debut performance against Youseff Zalal was a big red flag in terms of his takedown defence, but he looks to have improved it in his following two bouts. However, those came against a lower level of competition so could well be flattering Lingo’s overall ability. His takedown defence stats are quite skewed, and he’s coming off an 18 month layoff which muddies the water even more.
I think the edge in experience and overall competence at the hard-nosed styles means that Landwehr deserves to be favoured here, but I think the pricetag is a bit ridiculous. He should get the win, but I would be very surprised if he does it with the dominance of a -275. The lay off for Lingo means that he can have anywhere from a very low floor to a reasonably high ceiling. Both men are durable and will have moments in this fight, so this is one of the fights where I’m expecting some wild shit from Texas judges. If you’re convinced about betting Landwehr at -300 here, you’re crazy. Lingo the value side, but mostly based off intangibles and hypotheticals, which doesn’t fill me with enough confidence to pull the trigger.
How I line this fight: Nate Landwehr -200 (67%), Austin Lingo +200 (34%)
Bet or Pass: Pass

Andrea Lee v Maycee Barber
This one should be pretty fun! It’s speed and agility vs power and force.
Andrea Lee is a complicated fighter to get a full read on, as her performances have really varied throughout her career. She’s well rounded enough to outstrike most equally levelled opponents on the feet, and her grappling isn’t too bad either. Takedown defence needs a bit of work though.
The biggest issue with Lee is those back-to-back losses to Lauren Murphy and Roxanne Modafferi. It’s just inexcusable to lose both of those of those fights when you’re the calibre that Andrea Lee is. I know you can argue she got robbed against Murphy (it’s probably the key example of Texas judging being so bad), but she let the fight become quite close. And yes, Barber lost to Modafferi, but that was all determined by an injury and anyone who tells you otherwise is a hater or hasn’t watched it.
I’ve always thought Barber was overrated in terms of skills, but her physicality and strength are a bit of a gamechanger in the Women’s divisions. She’s well-rounded, but statistically has lesser output than Andrea Lee…which is always concerning. I expect this one to be quite competitive, where Andrea Lee could easily stay safe on the outside and jab her way to a win, as long as she gets on her bike and utilises good footwork. Maycee will plod forward and look to land the power shot, but that’s not a particularly high percentage outcome to rely on in Women’s MMA. If she can get her hands on her and utilise the clinch, I think it’s all one way traffic from there though. Maycee is reliable to do that, at least.
I can understand Barber being the favourite based off the finishing upside, imposing striking with good metrics and ability to land takedowns…but I’m just still not wholly convinced by her ability as a mixed martial artist outside of the way she implements brute force. It might be enough here, but I just don’t like her at this short of a price. Lee has a clear path to victory that, whilst I’m not convinced she can execute it, should be taken seriously.
How I line this fight: Andrea Lee +163 (38%), Maycee Barber -163 (62%)
Bet or Pass: Pass

Alex Perez v Manel Kape
It’s just impossible to know what we’re getting from Alex Perez at this stage, isn’t it? I like Manel Kape and rate him relatively highly, but I have always maintained that Perez on his best day could well be a champion at Flyweight. I bet him in most of his fights in the buildup to the title bout against Figgy – and I bet him there as well. Unfortunately Figgy was still in his explosive prime so it didn’t work out, but I expected Perez to become somewhat of a title eliminator gatekeeper from then on. Since that loss two and a half years ago his career has taken a peculiar turn – eight fight cancellations and a 91 second loss to Alexandre Pantoja.
There are just so many question marks surrounding Alex Perez at the moment, and that makes it impossible to know what to expect in this fight. If he was at his best, I’d consider him a slight favourite here, but who knows. Kape’s weakness is clearly defensive wrestling, and he can sometimes be low volume enough on the feet that he makes fights closer than they need to be. Perez has a good enough style to make that work and win here…providing we get him at his best.
I didn’t dive into much tape for this one as I knew I wasn’t going to bet it at all. If you think Kape beats Perez based off the footage available then you’re getting a decent price!
How I line this fight: Didn’t tape, won’t line it.
Bet or Pass: Pass

Chidi Njokuani v Albert Duraev
It’s crazy how much Albert Duraev’s stock has fallen, all in one loss to Joaquin Buckley. Before that bout he looked sensational on the Contender Series, and followed it up with a dominant win over Roman Kopylov as a -450 favourite. He absolutely does his best work in the grappling and showed that he doesn’t have much of a plan B if he can’t land takedowns or settle his opponent on their back. I’m also not too convinced by his cardio, and any opponent that will make him work hard to secure top position can weaponise his questionable endurance in the later rounds.
Buckley’s such a physical and stocky guy though, I think he’s naturally going to be a tough opponent to take down when you’ve got a bit more of a wirey frame like Duraev does. Chidi Njokuani isn’t so muscular and stocky, so I think it’s fair to assume that Duraev’s going to be more of a threat with the takedowns than he was against Buckley.
The problem is, Chidi showed some really impressive get ups after the initial takedown and doesn’t usually settle on the bottom whilst he’s fresh. Dusko Todorovic isn’t the best grappler in the world by any stretch, but Chidi was doing all the right things to prevent hit back from lying flat on the mat, and if he has similar success against Duraev he’s cruising.
The finish to the Robocop fight was a bit of a concern, but that fight heated up to a ridiculously fast pace in round 1 that I think Chidi cardio dumped, got rocked, and kind of quit on the bottom against Rodrigues. The same could happen again, but it would rely on Duraev pushing the pace aggressively with his striking, which isn’t something he often does.
Overall, I think Njokuani definitely deserves to be a favourite here as he is much more dangerous on the feet and has shown us already that he can successfully answer the questions that Duraev will ask. The Russian also does not have much of a plan B and doesn’t always do a whole lot with his top control except set up submissions. Considering Njokuani is a BJJ Black Belt, and the judges probably won’t appreciate those kind of optics from Duraev, I’m not massively convinced by his chances here.
I’m interested to see what kind of price they’re giving for Njokuani ITD in this fight, as I’m quite convinced by his finishing ability since he moved up to Middleweight, and Duraev is very hittable if he gets stuck on the feet. If I can get + money on it I think I’d have a small wager.
How I line this fight: Chidi Njokuani -175 (64%), Albert Duraev +175 (36%)
Bet or Pass: 1.5u Chidi Njokuani & CJ Vergara Both to Win (+122)

Steven Peterson v Lucas Alexander
I complain pretty much every week about the UFC’s current fighter calibre having massively declined recently, and nothing proves my point like Steven Peterson finally becoming a betting favourite for the first time in 8 UFC bouts. The guy has been the perfect litmus test to determine whether any fighter is UFC level, and those he has beaten were notoriously bad at the time and didn’t last long at the top level (Chase Hooper excluded because he had some “name value”).
He’s got some similarities to Austin Lingo in that he is some generic white guy with bad tattoos, that doesn’t have any real skill but is gritty and dedicated to the fight. If you can’t put him away, you’re going to have keep your shit together or he might surprise you by sheer output and ruggedness. No fighter that is credited mostly for their ability to take a punch and walk forward deserves to be a -175 favourite, but they also don’t always deserve to be massive underdogs either (see breakdown of Landwehr vs Lingo). The thing that baffles me the most though is that Peterson isn’t much of a finisher (6 of his last 7 went the distance), meaning the books are putting a fair bit of stock into his ability to win a decision.
So…Lucas Alexander. His UFC debut was a quick loss via RNC, but it came off a slip from a kick and the rest was kind of a formality at that point once Brito got the back as a result. Personally I don’t really put much/any stock into that loss as I don’t think it showed us anything about him apart from his defensive grappling isn’t elite? Ask yourself this…if this was Lucas Alexander’s UFC debut, would the line still be the same? It depends on what the regional tape looks like, but I’m quite sure it wouldn’t!
Therefore, we have to go back to the regional scene to actually get a glimpse of Alexander…and there is a lot more to be intrigued by than you might think. He’s a better technical striker than Peterson! He’s got great fluidity and movement, throws a varied arsenal of kicks and combos (lots of leg kicks, which will halt that forward pressure), and switches stances quite often. I’m not too sure how he’ll deal with being crowded by Peterson and his intense style, but I fully expect him to get the better of the majority of the striking exchanges whilst they’re at distance.
To win this fight cleanly, the grappling is the answer for Peterson…but Alexander’s defensive wrestling and get ups aren’t bad at all from what I’ve seen! I’ve seen evidence of him using the cage to get back to his feet and reversing position in the clinch, as well as maintaining position in top control. Apparently he’s a black belt as well, but I try not to immediately assume that makes you a good grappler (he does have 3 submission losses tbf). I did see a few submission attempts and successful reversals from bottom against Jeremias Fernandez, and was impressed with how he handled being on the bottom. The two regional scene submission losses both came in 2018, and honestly he looks like he’s improved his wrestling/grappling a lot since then so I’m not massively concerned by them.
Peterson has averaged just 1.61 TDs landed per 15 minutes, which isn’t a massively high number and doesn’t really fill you with a whole lot of confidence that he’s going to stick to a grappling based gameplan in this fight, especially when we know how much he enjoys brawling. If he does come with that kind of gameplan then I guess I expect him to be favoured (still hard to say how good/bad Alexander’s grappling is), but if he opts to strike I think he’s at a disadvantage.
For me, this fight is clearly a pick’em, or at least leans slightly towards Peterson as the favourite. I do expect Alexander to perform better than his +150 price tag suggests, as I think he’s got the potential to keep out of danger with the grappling and actually outscore Peterson on the feet. This fight probably goes the distance and, given the hesitance I have about Texas judges, I’d much rather be on the + money side there as well. Alexander is still being regarded as a “UFC debut” fighter in my eyes so I won’t be staking much here…but if you’re betting Peterson at -180 I think you’re crazy.
How I line this fight: Steven Peterson -120 (54%), Lucas Alexander +120 (46%)
Bet or Pass: 1u Lucas Alexander to Win (+150 or better…waiting to see if the juice continues)

Trevin Giles v Preston Parsons
Preston Parsons looked really good in his win over Evan Elder last year, with the latter going on to impress everyone with his latest performance against Nazim Sadykhov a few weeks ago. Parsons has a really suffocating wrestling/grappling style, forcing his opponents to work and threatening with a variety of submissions. He can be a little “submission over position” but he’s got an arsenal of really good sweeps from bottom. His striking also looked decent in the loss to Daniel Rodriguez, throwing shots at angles and landing pretty cleanly on D-Rod a few times.
He faces Trevin Giles, who has had a pretty eventful UFC career so far. Giles suffered back to back R3 losses to Zak Cummings and Gerald Meerschaert in fights he was clearly winning, where lapses in concentration saw him snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He then went on to be the benefactor of one of the worst decisions in MMA history when he beat James Krause by decision. Giles hasn’t really gone on to do a whole lot in his UFC career since, but a well-aged win over Roman Dolidze stands out as the highlight.
Giles has decent striking himself, but he is such a low volume fighter that I think he’s going to struggle to win rounds against Preston ‘Pressure’ Parsons if he doesn’t do damage. The younger fighter will be happy to push the pace in this one, varying up his striking with a few takedown entries and just overwhelming Giles, who likes to fight patiently and methodically on the feet. Giles looks clean when he’s involved in a staring match on the feet, but when the tempo turns up and things get a bit wild he kind of loses all composure and technique (see losses to Morales and Du Plessis recently). Giles is also a decent enough grappler, but he’s prone to reversals on the mat (which Parsons will definitely try to execute), and can accept bottom position if his initial guard sub or two get shut down.
I’m struggling to really see why this one is being lined as a pick’em here, as Giles doesn’t hold a whole lot of advantages that I think he’ll be able to implement. He’s clearly a good striker, but the low volume should prevent him from really being able to show that off properly, and he won’t be the fighter looking to put his stamp on rounds when he’s fighting at a tempo way higher than he wants. He’s more experienced, but we’ve also seen lots of examples of poor fight IQ consistently creeping into Giles’ game and he hasn’t addressed the flaws of his style.
I’d line Parsons as a small to moderate favourite in this fight, and I’ll be betting him for a couple of units as a result.
How I line this fight: Trevin Giles +150 (40%), Preston Parsons -150 (60%)
Bet or Pass: 3u Preston Parsons to Win (+100)

CJ Vergara v Daniel Da Silva
To me, this seems like one of those fights where the UFC are acknowledging Vergara has paid his dues, and are giving him a bit of a softball as a result.
No one really knew what to make of Vergara when he got to the UFC – a KO win on the Contender Series in 41 seconds is usually a red flag more than anything! They lined him up with Ode Osbourne for his debut, where he was a +170 underdog. He put a really impressive display in that fight, with many thinking he actually won against a guy that is quite well respected at Flyweight.
Next, he was a +270 underdog to Kleydson Rodrigues, who was making his debut as a highly, highly touted prospect. Everyone and their mothers was on Rodrigues in that fight, yet Vergara fought a really smart and dedicated gameplan and won a close split decision. I had a big bet on Kleydson in his fight a few weeks ago, and rewatching the Vergara fight had me respecting him all over again. Given what we saw Kleydson do to Shannon Ross (not that the latter is a world beater) did nothing but improve Vergara’s stock.
Then, for his third UFC bout, he gets Tatsuro Taira! Probably one of the top 5 hottest unranked prospects in the sport right now. That was the first time we saw Vergara actually look like the +220 underdog that the books had him as, but given the hype around Taira that’s actually a respectable number to be graded at! There really isn’t a long list of fighters who are willing to fight Taira at the moment, so the matchmakers have probably scheduled this fight as a thank you for Vergara being a company man.
They’ve given him Daniel da Silva (Lacerda) as a reward. DdS is a pretty wild fighter, with 15 bouts all ending inside the distance (and none even reaching round 3). That kind of kill-or-be-killed style is certainly fun to watch, but it doesn’t really work out as well as you’d think when you hit the big shows. Don’t get me wrong, he looks pretty decent in round 1, but Vergara is a durable guy that has shown good IQ in the cage so far. He should find a way to stay safe in that opening round, probably by landing a takedown and coasting in top control like Jeff Molina did (also, shoutout Jeff Molina for handling the social media chaos with grace last week!), or by pushing that ferocious striking pace and keeping da Silva on the backfoot.
Even so, da Silva is a liability to himself in Round 1 as well, as we saw in losses to Francisco Figueiredo and Victor Altamirano. Getting kneebar’d by Figgy’s subpar brother is a pretty bad look, and he had absolutely no answer for Altamirano’s ground striking as soon as he was on his back. His commitment to the guard sub is insane, and it’s probably going to be responsible for yet another loss here against Vergara.
I think we’re getting a decent price on Vergara here. The blueprint has been written on Da Silva and, whilst Vergara will have to be careful for the opening few minutes, I think CJ’s got him covered here. I jumped in on the -275 as a parlay piece, as I think there’s an argument Vergara should probably be a bigger favourite here?
Also, as a side note from watching Molina vs Da Silva – Damn James Krause was a good coach. What a waste!
How I line this fight: CJ Vergara -300 (75%), Daniel Da Silva +300 (25%)
Bet or Pass: 1.5u CJ Vergara & Chidi Njokuani Both to Win (+122)

Vinicius Salvador v Victor Altamirano
I loved Vinicius Salvador’s DWCS performance against Shannon Ross and I’m really excited to see him make his debut, but I’m not massively sure about how good he is as an overall fighter. His style instantly makes him a fan favourite, but using nothing but head movement to defend, and having that cocky style that throws ridiculous highlight reel kicks isn’t really a positive trait when you’re looking to put your hard earned money on a fighter. It looks cool and can sometimes impress the judges…but it’s a risky game and can easily see you getting caught clean or making mistakes. There’s a reason Michel Pereira doesn’t fight like a lunatic anymore.
Salvador hits hard and absolutely has knockout power, having finished 13 of his 14 wins by KO (the other was a submission). He’s also lost inside the distance in three of his 4 losses, and Shannon Ross did have him hurt for a second or two in the DWCS fight. He’s a chaotic fighter, and I’m really annoyed we got robbed of the chance to see him fight Daniel Da Silva a few months ago. It would have been fireworks.
This might sound stupid as a genuine piece of logic and reasoning, but I have always fully believed the notion that Mexican fighters have the best chins and next level toughness. It’s kind of a dumb narrative for me to hang my hat on, but I am always hesitant to side with a knockout-based fighter if it’s a Mexican opponent they’re trying to put to sleep. We saw Altamirano eat a few clean and heavy shots from Daniel Da Silva in his last bout, which makes me think I might have to side with my illogical narrative once again.
With that said, I still think Salvador deserves to be favoured by a small margin here. Victor Altamirano just isn’t very good. His win over DdS was kind of a high variance random knee, and he was clearly losing that fight up to that point. He was competitive in the win against Carlos Hernandez, but I feel like that fight didn’t do much to show off the skills of either guy and it really solidified that they are equally matched as entry level UFC fighters. It was like an intense sparring session, where neither guy had any real sting on their shots and only looked to point score, with a bit of cage pushing thrown in for good measure.
The power discrepancy between Altamirano and Salvador is too big to ignore here. Salvador is going to come out hot and look to take Victor’s head off, and I just don’t think Altamirano is going to be able to earn back the respect of Salvador here. The striking should be one-way traffic whilst they’re fresh, simply because Salvador’s going be doing damage with almost every shot that he lands. As the fight wears on though, I expect Altamirano have a lot more success in the later minutes, as he settles into the fight and has grown confident he can withstand the power (as well as some of the sting coming off Salvador’s shots).
Altamirano doesn’t look like wrestling/grappling is his preferred skillset, but I think he would do well to lean on it a bit here. I haven’t been able to really find any tape on Salvador’s defensive wrestling/grappling, but I have to assume that a fighter with as little technical discipline as him is probably not the greatest grappler in the world.
I see Vinicius Salvador as something similar to the Brazilian equivalent of Trevor Peak. It's easy to get ahead of yourself and try to fade a guy with brute force and no technique, but it’s important to realise that the judges don’t score technique and as long as Salvador is landing something, he’ll earning favour with the judges and threatening to score a finish too.
I don’t think Altamirano is the guy to capitalise on those defensive lapses of Salvador, so I think the Brazilian is the rightful favourite. However, there’s not enough value on the line to justify a bet here, and Salvador could easily be the maker of his own downfall with his reckless style, and that’s not the kind of guy I like to back.
Very excited to see this one play out. I will probably throw Salvador into a couple of my untracked degenerate parlays, but officially it’s a no-bet for me.
How I line this fight: Vinicius Salvador -120 (54%), Victor Altamirano +120 (46%)
Bet or Pass: Pass

Tamires Vidal v Hailey Cowan
The UFC are being very generous to Hailey Cowan, aren’t they!? After trying and failing to set her up with one of the worst fighters on the roster, Ailin Perez, they’re trying again to offer her a bit of a soft entry into the UFC.
The problem is that Cowan is just simply not very good, so I think she’s going to struggle against anyone that’s borderline UFC calibre. Tamires Vidal sits on the fringe, and she seems to be the much more dangerous of the two and actually has some process to her striking, so I think Cowan deserves to be the underdog once again.
The betting line here has been on a real journey already. Books opened Cowan as a +200 underdog, and it looks to have been jumped on by some opportunistic value bettors – and rightly so! I just hope the steam has come in because they think the line was wide, not because they have any real faith in Cowan!
I’m intrigued to see how far the overcorrection goes, as this one really should land around a pick’em. The books won’t mind tipping the balance towards Cowan if it means they’ve got equal money on each side, as this isn’t going to be a high stakes fight so they’ll prioritise keeping the book green.
I have to remind myself of the calibre I’m dealing with here though…both women are low level and high variance is at play! If all the money on Cowan continues to come and Vidal’s price gets bigger, then a true value bettor should pounce on any decent size + money…but you really do have to accept that you’re getting into bed with variance here.
How I line this fight: Tamires Vidal -110 (52%), Hailey Cowan +110 (48%)
Bet or Pass: Pass

Bets (Placed bets in bold, others are pending as line may improve)
3u Preston Parsons to Win (+100)
1.5u CJ Vergara & Chidi Njokuani Both to Win (+122)
0.25u Njokuani, Parsons & Vergara All to Win (+330)
1u Lucas Alexander to Win (+150 or better)
Parlay Do’s: Njokuani, Parsons, Vergara
Parlay Don’ts: Sandhagen, Holm, Landwehr, Barber, Peterson, Cowan

UFC 287 (Breakdown next week but don’t expect line to hold)
2u Michael Chiesa to Win (-150)
Best of luck with your bets!
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2023.03.21 17:43 cmc9819 Packaging

It’s the fact she cared more about spending money on her office than the real packaging and stones to put on the rings. She’s literally putting $700+ necklaces in earring cards she got from Amazon💀 it’s giving jewelry you win from a 50 cent claw machine.
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2023.03.21 17:42 ivis_viny GM4A(playingF) – Seeking someone to play Tatsumaki in a OPM AU, Literate, Discord RP

Being a superhero means you have special abilities capable of saving the whole world. Every day is a day you wake up and rise against an invasion, an assault, a deadly monster uprising, etc. And as thanks, you are greatly rewarded. This isn’t a world of vigilantes skirting the edges of the law while hiding their identities. Instead, superheroes are a part of the Hero Association. A company that licenses, funds and promotes up-and-coming heroes of all tiers. From C rank to S rank, if you qualify, license, and stick to your contract, you’ll be given a life you’d never imagined of by the Association. Heroes are more than humble and justice-seeking fighters for good. They are the celebrities of this world. Book deals, movie deals, late-night interviews, reality series, singers, award shows, etc. People don’t see heroes as just their saviors, but they’re entertainers too. The Association seeks to grow the popularity of their supers by marketing them in ways dependent on the kind of super that they are. Regardless, if you are above C-rank, you’re bound to be used in some marketing ploy. Whether it’s to sell toys, a product line, clothing or movie tickets, you’ll become part of the Association’s money-making and fame-growing schemes.
Lately, there has been one popular trend. Two A-rank heroes were uncovered by a snooping journalist to have been dating together, behind closed doors. When the public caught wind of the relationship, the fans could not have been more wild for the juicy story. Since, the Association has cooked up all kinds of super pairs depending on what people were saying online, speculating or simply by researching their large lines of heroes and finding which two would be the most compatible in the eyes of the public. While this has been gone to drum up publicity for their chosen heroes, there is one scenario that interested them greatly.
Forum posts and threads online discussing the hero relationships where one common thing - regardless of man or woman - constantly popped up. “I’d never be able to date a hero!” “What hero would ever be interested in a normal person like me?” They were probably right. But the Association began to see a trend among the posts online - dating a hero? A total fantasy. It’d never happen. But what if it did…?
Polls were sent out. Answer the poll and win a chance at a free luxury dinner. This interested Karasu Katsumi, a salaryman that lived a perfectly average life that didn’t really even look into superhero topics or trends. He simply worked, paid his bills and moved along with his day. However, the promise of a free luxury dinner was quite enticing. Turns out, whatever answers he sent in, matched with what the poll was looking for. As it turns out, Karasu fit everything they desired in a candidate for their next publicity stunt: A top-tier hero dating an average, normal citizen. After reading nearly a thousand poll answers from different submitters, Karasu seemed like the ideal person. Perfectly normal, average, plain-looking - he served as a fantastic stand-in for all the people that will see this unfold. Your normal, average, everyday person would LIVE through Karasu and imagine that could be them someday. Suddenly the concept of dating a hero wouldn’t be a mere fantasy - but could be a very real reality. And which hero to pair him with…?
The Association wanted to go big for this one. They wanted to go wild. Terrible Tornado, their ranked #2 hero, would be the date. As much as she didn’t like it, didn’t like him, and didn’t like the publicity stunts - her contract was owned by the Association. They must engage in a public-only relationship that showcases the dynamic between a top-tier hero and an everyday salaryman. While there is difficulty in the beginning, a bond is surely to develop between the two. The shenanigans, adventures, drama and dilemmas that come will be unexpected for the fake couple, as well as the development of possibly real emotions and a chance for two people that have never engaged in deep friendships or romances, to explore that realm.

Hello, kind of a long one, huh? This is a plot I’ve been hoping to do again with someone new. I am looking for someone that is creative, capable of playing multiple characters but primarily Tatsumaki/Terrible Tornado, very active, Literate - Adv. Literate and able to write over Discord. If you want to discuss the plot more, ask any questions and iron out the details, please DM me with an intro about yourself, why you’d be a good fit, and what interests you about the RP. Optionally, you can shoot me a very short writing sample. I seek people’s literacy in terms of grammaspelling/punctuation as opposed to lots of detail (when it comes to samples.) Thank you again for reading and hope to hear from you if interested!
submitted by ivis_viny to Roleplay [link] [comments]

2023.03.21 17:37 JaceBelleren It's a (return of the) trap! Baseless early speculation on what The Lost Caverns of Ixalan may be

In what has become a mainstay of the news-cycle of Magic, MaRo has used a blogpost to foreshadow things to come. In this case, it is the reveal that The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the second set after March of the Machine (and its Aftermath), will be focussing on a subterranean setting:
This probably does not stray too much from anyone's expectation as not only the name alluded to it heavily, but also because Ixalan as a plane already lent itself to going in such a direction. While there are a lot of themes prevalent in Ixalan, one of its strongest certainly was a reflection on colonialism and imperialism - as witnessed in both the conquistador-vampires of (the continent) Torrezon as well as the Sun Empire, having recently turned more militaristic and keen on vengeance than before. While therein certainly lies a strong foundation for a narrative to follow up on, Ixalan as a whole - despite its obvious allusions to 15-17th century seafaring powerstruggles - has its bedrock somewhere else. While colonial oppression and the aforementioned conflicts certainly are an integral part of it, Ixalan seems to be based on the notion of the age of "discovery" (AoD), contentious as the word "discovery" might be when there is a whole continent of peoples who didn't feel the need to be "discovered" in the first place. Yet not only has MTG addressed that pretty succesfully in Ixalan as far as I can tell, it also would be only a halftruth assume that the plane would be a more or less direct lift from our world's history to Ixalan's.
No, Ixalan is not only an age of discovery-plane, it is also an age of discovery-plane as filtered through the pulpy early science-fiction and adventure literature of the 19th and early 20th century. There may be no world as foundationally enamored with literature as Ixalan besides Innistrad in its everpresent adherence to gothic literature and the (moon-)silver screen. Ixalan is adventure-serials become incarnate, heavily inspired by R.L. Setevenson, Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle, to name only the most immediately obvious ones. Seen through this lense, the sometimes - unfairly, I would say - criticized as scatterbrained Ixalan makes a whole lot of internal sense.
Vampires and Sun Empire are the stand-ins for the poltical struggle of the AoD, pirates the displaced sailors and soldiers born from ceaseless struggle and to give all of this an air of adventure and levity, the filter of fiction makes a lot of sense. Bring dinosaurs in there, make pirates the freedom-loving swashbucklers we know them as and thus, in turn, lean heavily into the tropes this type of literature has to offer. European people at the time were clamoring for evermore tales from the deep jungles of Meso- and Southern America and could imagine the wildest thngs lurking in there - ranging from dinosaurs (recently starting to be discovered large-scale) to quite more ignorant and sinister assumptions. In the span of a century and in this weird mixture of fascination, unbridled ego, adventurous obsession, terra incognita-speculations and exoticism, works like "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (Verne) and "The Lost World" (Doyle) were becoming bestselling phenomena. To assume dinosaurs were still somewhere in the earth? Not unfeasible or at least not completely off the table. It thus makes sense for Magic to also lean into that if they were already willing to make such a risky, real-world-history laden top-down-design as Ixalan in the first place. Magic has proven that it could handle sensitive topics quite well the first time around plus Ixalan is popular as world - despite one of its limited formats being quite unfavorably received -, so another stint makes a lot of sense and a lot of people happy.
But where does this leave us in terms of what to expect, which mechanics and which storyline might they choose? It is, of course, too early to say, but from all that can be assumed if one is to take the "Lost World"-approach as the route to go in, some things can be assumed nonetheless. Or at the very least, it is fun to assume what Magic might shake up or leave as is.
1.) World-design: A Hollow World
Knowing that Lost Caverns will play underground, it is pretty straightforward to assume how we get there. Orazca has not appareared out of nowhere, it has been seated somewhat underground till woken from its slumber. Much like that, the Elder Dinosaurs were never gone, they just appeared from way underground. There had been other subtle hints of subterranean entrances, like the temple of Aclazotz or eyeless demons stalking some parts of the jungles. However, after the discovery of Orazca and even more than that, a full-scale Phyrexian invasion breaking open the earth, Ixalanians all-around are eager to explore *roll credits* the Lost Caverns of Ixalan. It will not only be earthy and rockish biomes, oh no. There will be these, yes, but going witht the slightly whacky vibes of adventure novels and serials, there will be whole underground seas (not that one) down there, lush dino-filled jungles and dark, menacing corners where really nobody should have ever gone. It will be colorful and rich and not compromise too much on what Ixalan is famed for. Though likely, the sea will be less prevalent than before overall.
Pairing all this with what was said before, I think we can expect this: a fully-fledged subterranean set which leans heavily into Ixalan's literary background and thus combines it into a swashbuckling adventure-romp with a lot of adventure-literature tropes. I expect traps (quite literally), exploration (also literally), skirmishes and battles (third time's the charm) and maybe even a riff on the venture-mechanic, yet not exactly that.
2.) Mechanics
Ixalan has not the strongest suite of mechanics since most of its design-space has been eaten up by creature type-support. Amass a critical amount of creatures, stick some lords in there, boom, you have your limited format. Triple-Ixalan was relying heavily on that to carry its weight and it made it into a fairly streamlined experience, even though RIX did some heavy lifting in correcting the first set's blunders. Judging from the Rabiah-Scale, Ixalan was popular in spite of its mechanics more than because of them. It is fair to assume that RnD will want to stick with what worked and make work what did not. You may not be able to rip out the core of "your creature-type matters" of Ixalan and it is a defining feature people like, but there will be more mechanical wiggleroom now. Magic has gotten confident in batching-designs recently and I think it will happen this time again. Looking at Neon Dynasty, I think this is the model of the future:
- Creature type-matters-set, but like NEO. Batch Merfolk + Rogue, Vampire + Knight etc., like NEO batched Samurai + Warrior, Ninja + Rogue. The only issue therein is, that p.e. Merfolk is more of a supertype than a Samurai is, but nonetheless, I think it can work this way.
Other than that, adventure always have one trope that we all know and some love: traps! Magic already has a - pretty good - design for trap-cards which is flexible enough to apply to MTG in this state of design. Ixalan before was unbridled jungle, but after Orazca resurfacing, it is time to shine a light on lost civilizations, abandoned cities and treacherous descents. Some - or all of it - not so naturally made. Maybe there are even still guardians of Ixalan's abandoned places? Adventure-literature would suggest that ...
- Traps will return! They are mechanically flexible and do provide wiggle-room outside of the usual creature-type-matters of Ixalan.
Speaking of guardians; there will of course be Ixalan's creepy palm-like eyeless demons, which are blackbased and have been featured to drain people and give advice to the willing. They are thus not feral and can be found in Ixalan's underground descents. This is pure speculation, but underground settings, with demons no less, have regularly been connotated with claustrophobia, the dampness of a skyless air and slow grasp of mold and rot. All of which causes madness or at least declining mental states, often expressed as "mill" in MTG.
- Mill will be a mechanic, probably UB and demon-based. Would make a lot of sense for some more sinister "descent into madness"-type scenarios plus it could play well with traps. (Archive Trap could really use a reprint, right?)
The descent is also quite literal. While I do not think that something like Venture will see the light of day in Ixalan, since it is heavily tied to DnD and also fairly complex and not that popular, I see a different solution to this. Explore- returns as the workhorse-flavor-mechanic and it feeds Quest-cycles. These quests are not like Zendikar, but are the equivalent to the fliplands we know from original Ixalan. Do something a couple of times and they flip.
- Explore is a flexible, flavorful mechanic. It symbolises descent into the setting quite well (digging deeper into the library) and could feed into interesting choices assuming mill and deck-density is a thing to track. I think this could work out well: would you really explore too far ahead if it means your library empties soon? Seems like a neat concept. Furthermore, venture is always defined by the end-room of a dungeon just as much as the starting-point. Yet we are in lost territory here, nobody knows that it is 5 or 7 rooms till the endpoint. I thus think there will be something like quests as enchantments. Do something a certain amount of times and you reveal a secret, the other side of the card. On Ixalan, these can easily be enchantment-quest-lands just as we know. I think this is far more elegant than venture.
Other than that, I assume Battles will be a thing:
- Not only are they recent as they will premier in MoM, but assuming they do not stay a one-off-thing, Magic likes to recontextualize things and link things together via mechanics. Battles could be used to symbolise the struggles between the different adventuring parties and are a main-stay of adventure literature. Having small-scale battles between different biomes within the caverns both explains and shows the world more and, in the more lighthearted tone Ixalan often uses, becomes less grandiose than in MoM and thus ... fun and rambunctious. It's epic to have battles like the "Invasion of XYZ" ... it's fun to have battles like "The battle for Jim Sliver's Lost Hats". Alternate enough between serious and fun, something Ixalan is already adapt at, and that could prove fun while flexing the designers' muscles just like they did with MDFCs. Everything in moderation.
Lastly, Raid will probably return. Simple as that, no notes really. It is easily applicable to pirates and established fairly firmly as "their" mechanic, even appearing in Jumpstart 2022, and fits perfectly in pirates raiding other treasure-hunt-parties for exactly that.
Speaking of treasures ... Yes, they will be there, for better or worse. They had been designed for Ixalan way back then and their inflationary use since then is no fault of this plane. On Ixalan and for ascend they worked, this time they will be back again, yet not as focussed on (hopefully).
3.) Story and Characters
Here we are with a section that can barely be one at this point, so I will not go into this too much. However, with the sparking of some recent planeswalker who is featured on a card called Thrilling Discovery, ropes down into a cave and is trained academicaly at a college, I think it is a given who will be one Planeswalker here. It is the perfect Indiana Jones-moment without feeling too forced if at all.
Other than that, I believe we are headed into a downtime-ear of Magic with the aftermath-storylines of MoM and ... Aftermath ... dealing heavily with character-driven repercussions of what was lost. And for that, I see none other than Jace being more apt. While I do think most compleated planeswalkers will meet their end in MoM, even Ajani, I do think Jace has a lot of story left in him - not only because of Vryn - and he would once again be a perfect ticket into Ixalan. It could be a bittersweet reframing of the first Ixalan: Jace returns to the place where he finally got to be loved and appreciated fully for what he was, only this time he returns having lost the love of his life, maybe to bury her remains or her memories where they were both happy.>! The first time around, it ended with him removing the memory of him from her so as to not endanger her.!< This time around, not being able to bear her loss and finding himself unable to move on, he plans to mournfully and also somewhat selfishly remove the memories of her from his own mind. Throughout his new adventure on Ixalan, his friends from the Belligerent and Vraska's positive impact on this world, he realizes that the best thing he can do is to honor her by remembering her as much as it may hurt. This, in the end, causes him to keep her memories and to finally set off on the path to search for his mother on Vryn and find peace with all that happened.
Pirate-Jace would also be quite interesting artwise as well. You know who wears hook-hands and peglegs? Pirates. You know who will have lost a Phyrexianized arm or have an adjustible metal-arm? Jace. Now if that doesn't scream piracy...
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