Palm springs weather jan
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.
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.
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 19:01 rlon47 About to purchase my third tank of gas with about 2800 miles.
I picked up my XSE on October 10. It had 4 miles on it. The usual dealer full tank of gas and I had to drive it 142 miles home. I've purchased 2 tanks of gas when the low gas warning light comes on. (I know it comes on much earlier than needed.) So that is about 10 gallons a purchase. I'll use 21 for this calculation. The gas gauge is nearing the territory where the light will come on just now. I'm predicting I'll be at 2800 miles when this happens. Another 10 gallons. So 42 total gallons and just over 66 miles to the gallon. I've seen some criticism of the whole idea of PHEVs recently. I understand the point, but the wife just can't wrap her head around us relying on a full EV just yet, so this was a compromise. I think it is working out well. We've owned the car from late fall through winter and now into spring. There haven't been many long trips. That will change as the weather improves.
submitted by rlon47
to rav4prime [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 19:01 guacamoleburger [WTS] 16” Pencil Barreled FSB Upper, Crye MC Pants, 30mm Bobro offset QD mount, Dara Holster G19 TLR7/7A
Images (cat tax included): https://imgur.com/a/tWgcgMC FSB Upper
* PSA factory built *
Surplus detachable carry handle
handle sold * MOE handguard, grey * Mid length gas * Pencil profile barrel * No BCG or CH included. * A2 FH included * $240 shipped Crye Multicam Pants
* Specific model is “Army Custom” * 34S size * Great condition, accepts knee pads. Multicam isn’t my thing. * $130 shipped Bobro Scope Mount
* Single lever QD * 30mm * 1.54” height * Finish shows signs of use but 100% functions. * No tools or even torquing needed to mount on pic rail. Clamps to rail with proper pressure when the lever is engaged. I don’t need QD. * $140 shipped Dara OWB Holster
* Glock 19 * TLR7 or TLR7A * Active retention * Spring loaded, thumb activated hood * Fits slide mounted optics * $55 shipped TRADES I WILL CONSIDER
* decent SPR type barrel. Priority to criterion core 18” * criterion core 14.5” barrel * cold weather gear
submitted by guacamoleburger
to GunAccessoriesForSale [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.
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.
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
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2023.03.21 18:46 astralrocker2001 Attorney Tom Renz who is suing EcoHealth has heard from sources the next virus release will be 2024, and it will be much more deadly. The quarantine camps have been built and they are ready to send people to camps if they disobey lockdown or don't take the next deadly vaxx, via WHO Pandemic Treaty
2023.03.21 18:43 senoj96nodnarb Yesterday was the first day of spring for us here. Gorgeous weather, felt great to be out!
2023.03.21 18:36 paperclipknight Horizon 6 should be set in California
Probably jumping the gun massively (& I’m well aware Japan will be the peoples choice) but imho California is the best location for Horizon 6. It‘s big & varied enough to be able to operate in varied landscapes thus voiding peoples main gripe with, arguably the best in the series, Horizon 4 whilst being sufficiently different design to the worlds of H3&5 which are basically copy & paste jobs
I’m thinking bottom left hand corner San Diego (or LA) as the big city, north you get the central coast leading up to a scaled down version of SF (so you get the GG bridge) which then leads to the top idk 1/4 of the map being redwood forest.
Bottom 1/5 of the map would be desert & a with a Palm Springs analog, which transitions to the central valley farmland & then the Sierra Nevada’s taking up idk about 1/4 of the top part of the map - thus in turn giving us a reasonable sized section with snow come winter - with Yosemite squeezed in somewhere & I think we’d have the basis of a great map
What do yous think?
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2023.03.21 18:12 udk01 LARKIN COMMUNITY HOSPITAL PALM SPRINGS
Anyone rotating at Larkin community hospital? I would like to connect!
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2023.03.21 18:03 MugShots LVMPD Traffic Alert
LVMPD Traffic Alert TRAFFIC PROBLEM WYANDOTTE ST and PALM SPRINGS WAY 3/21/2023 9:35:44 AM incident #LLV230300089884
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2023.03.21 17:37 some12345thing REMINDER: Only DM and chat presale links/codes - do not post them publicly
With the additional tour dates coming out, I wanted to post a reminder: please do not publicly post any links or codes for ticket presale. You are fine to privately share them using direct messages or chat, but scalpers do check this subreddit and we don’t want to allow anything that would help them in price-gouging for profit.
That said: Whoo! More shows :) I’m tempted to try and see Peter in Palm Springs if I can get the some cheaper tickets.
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2023.03.21 17:22 meandme004 First Hugelkultur
One of my friend helped for 15hrs and finally finished it together , just in time for the rain. I’m in Palm Springs, California. This spot is a West wall.
Supplies : Dead branches available on the property, mushroom blocks from a local farmer , slip sheets from Costco , Starbucks coffee grounds, juice pulp from local juice stores and backside of a grocery store has all organic matter needed😍.
Any comments or suggestions?
Thanks in advance. Hugelkuktur
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2023.03.21 17:00 jobsfordevelopers Backbase is hiring Senior Backend Developer
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2023.03.21 16:54 31loveletters Movie Outline - One Small Favor
Stew Baby Movie - film Fall 2021 to Fall 2022, release Spring 2023.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Milana Vayntrub, and Tom Bateman
Directed by Kristen Stewart
Summary: Follows the pregnancy journey of a lesbian couple and their unlikely donor.
“Five years, how has it already been so long?” Millie asks (played by Milana) as she shuffles through the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Kristen (played by Kristen) is sitting at the table sipping a glass of OJ, both women wearing warm pajamas.
Kristen looks up from her OJ and says “haha. Yeah. I… I think it is finally time,” a pursed smile remains on Kristen’s face as Millie brings breakfast to the table and stops to put a hand on Kristen’s shoulder. She reaches up to grasp Millie’s hand, their wedding rings showing.
“Do you… do you still…?” Millie asks, blushing and shifting awkwardly.
“Yes,” Kristen answers with certainty. “It has to be your brother. That way our baby will still be half you, in a way,” Kristen’s fingertips caress along Millie’s hand. “Will you invite him over so we can ask?”
Cut to Kristen, Millie, and her brother (played by Bateman) sitting at the table, just finishing dinner. Millie is wearing a blue blouse, her brother a polo, and Kristen a black T shirt. “So, John, we really need a favor,” Millie begins and looks to Kristen.
“Would you fuck me?” Kristen asks daringly. Her voice softens. “I… I mean … I’m ovulating and… we were hoping to get pregnant.” After a couple minutes of convincing, Millie excuses herself and while Kristen takes John by the hand and leads him to bed.
Their coupling begins somewhat awkwardly, the two of them undressing and getting into missionary somewhat stiffly. They look down between themselves, realizing it isn’t working. “Hey… trust me,” Kristen cooes supportively and guides him off, up to his knees, and then she bends steeply forward, engulfing his member in her mouth. It takes several moments of her slow bobbing to bring him to full length, which she does patiently.
“And…” she trails off, reaching to the night stand, and withdrawing water-based lube. She dabs some on her palm and reaches down, smearing it all around her vulva and dipping it inside.
“Try number two,” John manages to muse as Kristen retreat to her back again, helping John to climb on top of her. Their eyes are on each other’s faces as he sinks in to the hilt, Kristen nibbling her lip. And yet as the moments go by, his downward humps getting into a rhyming, he asks “want to change it up?” It’s a sign this has moved from pure duty to having an element of enjoyment, but Kristen’s smile widens and she nods. “Turn over then,” John suggests, lifting himself back up to his knees.
He watches Kristen turn over onto her hands and knees, and then gets in position behind her, sliding himself in and getting up to speed. They cut later to Kristen being on top, John feasting his hands across her petite figure, then finally they cut to missionary. But this time in missionary, they’re making out deeply, Kristen’s hands locked around the back of his shoulders and their bodies gleaming with sweat as John’s pace quickens even more until finally pressing himself deep inside and holding firm, his cheeks flexed as he throbs a potent load into his sister in law.
Next there are scenes of Kristen and Millie holding hands as the pregnancy is confirmed and as they watch the live ultrasound.
After Kristen is three months along, they tell the rest of the family at dinner. “How did you conceive, a donor bank?” Millie and John’s mom inquiries sweetly. After sharing a glance with John, Kristen answers, “oh yeah, donor bank, Turkey baster, real boring,” she answers with a knowing grin.
A few more scenes cover the gender reveal - it’s a girl - and baby shower, to which Emilia Clarke makes a cameo as a friend. Also simply showing the two going out on a picnic and preparing their house for the anticipated arrival including working together on the crib.
“Two weeks left, are you ready?” Millie asks, nestling up to Kristen in bed. The slender tomboy’s belly is swollen spectacularly, containing the baby that will soon be joining them.
She nods, “I’m so ready to meet our daughter,” and grasps Millie’s hand, leaning in close as the two begin to kiss. The kiss deepens, the two turning toward each other, until Kristen slides down and begins sucking lustily at Millie’s impressive, heavy tits, leaving them slick with spit and sporting a could purple hickies. At the same time, Kristen’s hand slithers down and pets insistently but expertly at Millie’s pussy - rubbing her clit, teasing inside with a couple fingers, and pressing her palm against her mound until her wife cums, pale chest heaving.
“Get into position,” Millie instructs with a smirk as she catches her breath. Kristen shifts her hips to the edge of the bed and cocks her legs to the side, baring her pregnant pussy perfectly for Millie to get on her knees beside the end and deliver her tongue to it… cutting after Millie gets going and winks up at Kristen.
There are then a couple scenes of deciding to go to the hospital as her contractions indicate labor has begun, and then of Kristen and Millie holding the baby together.
“She’s your daughter,” Kristen insists to Millie warmly, and the two kiss.
After a couple more scenes of getting home and getting settled, the movie ends with a scene of introducing the newborn to John. “Here, meet your uncle,” Millie carefully transfers the newborn into his arms, “and thank you…” she adds quietly to her brother.
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2023.03.21 16:45 puggie33 me and anna did a photoshoot in the school library😼
2023.03.21 16:39 cricetomys312 I don't know how to paint my own toes but I'm so excited for Spring that I've started trying some hot weather colors! 😊 😃 😀 😄 😁 💋 😘
2023.03.21 16:39 DoctoDevRel Tech Life 179 🌱 Equinox
And happy second day of spring! March 20th
marks the first day of spring, aka Equinox this year. This means that the earth is perpendicular to the Sun at the moment and the northern hemisphere will continue tilting towards the sun until the June solstice.
We hope the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming wherever you may be. March is usually in between when it comes to the weather, but we're just happy that we can start biking again without the inconvenience of the cold!
Aside from the bright news about spring being here, we also gathered exciting tech content just for you! Start your spring by reading an interesting article from the collection here
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2023.03.21 16:27 Fragrant-Chance9618 Applied to ng sde positions but cannot pass most resume check. Please help!
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2023.03.21 16:21 MrLocoLobo 30(M) looking for an older woman whom can be my best-friend, a loyal lover and a fellow old-soul:
I find myself rather at a crossroads in my life where I’ve had poor experiences with women in their early to mid-20s but never had an opportunity to prove myself desirable to those with an older age-gap.
I’m living my past-life in my current-life, 30 physically but 77 mentally.
This generational and traditional gap has never been so apparent because our cultures are vastly different and perhaps that’s where I differ from most gentlemen my age.
Simply put: I don’t fit in, I find it both a blessing and a curse.
Where others are blasting the next rap track at a full deafening bass-boosted volume, I’m rocking out to songs of decades past singing along and shredding an air-guitar.
I’m extremely chivalrous: well-mannered, I practice proper etiquette, holding store-doors, car-doors, pulling seats-out and pushing them back in, serving others before myself and love cooking for my significant-other.
My very healthy relationship with my mother is a fine example of how well a relationship with someone older than me could work.
Sure I can be pretty playful too but I’m also quite serious.
Let’s get to know one another this spring and have a picnic or go on a nature walk making the best of the lovely weather to come.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
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2023.03.21 16:20 AengusCupid Feral Humans Also deserve a coffin.
| || |
I was surprised that despite being a feral Human, who's sense of humanity is almost non existent and is slowly turning into one of the undead. submitted by AengusCupid to cataclysmdda [link] [comments]
Is still considered as a human.
Pov of My character:.
"They were my comrades. A fellow soldier like me, driven insane by whatever madness is out there. I wish I could have given them a better end"
2023.03.21 16:17 rrmdp 📢 JPMorgan Chase is hiring a Relationship Banker - Palm Springs Market - Palm Springs, CA and Surrounding Cities!
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2023.03.21 16:04 Sufficient_Bowl7876 918 Arborist
🌳🌬️ Oklahoma's Spring Winds: A Hidden Threat to Your Trees 🌬️🌳
Spring has sprung, and with it comes the notorious Oklahoma winds! While we enjoy the warmer weather, these gusty conditions can be detrimental to our beloved trees. 🍃💨 https 918 Arborist
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2023.03.21 15:55 brewNub CLE South Brewery Crawl
The second edition of the CLE South Brewery Crawl is set to kick off on April 1st! Finally, winter is behind us and spring weather is on the horizon.
Collect your punch card at any of the 5 locations, and visit all by April 16th to receive a commemorative glass at your last spot!
- Broadview Heights Brewing
- Blue Monkey
- Hoppy Dude Brews
- Schnitz Ale Brewery
- Jolly's Pizza
I have a feeling that I have a better chance of completing this compared to the Cleveland brew passport.
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