Leaf juncture crossword

Suvaid Yaseen is a Joukowsky Prize Recipient for His Dissertation on Twentieth-Century Kashmir

2023.05.30 16:44 Meaning-Plenty Suvaid Yaseen is a Joukowsky Prize Recipient for His Dissertation on Twentieth-Century Kashmir

His dissertation, Islamic Intersections: Religion and Politics in Kashmir in the Long Twentieth-Century, focuses on the previously unexamined lives and thoughts of poets, educators, ulema (Muslim scholars), activists, rebels, and revolutionaries in Kashmir. Yaseen is the Joukowsky Prize winner for the social sciences.
As described by his nominators, Yaseen’s dissertation presents a groundbreaking rethinking of one of the most hotly contested territories today, the Kashmir Valley, a mountainous region at the juncture of India, Pakistan, and China. This area has been historically described as everything from an idyllic paradise to an insurgent space of Muslim militancy.
Yaseen encourages readers to consider the area in an entirely new way by moving beyond colonial and postcolonial historiographies and employs the framework of an Islamic discursive tradition to study Muslim social and political movements. In doing so, he proposes the concept of an ‘intellectual history from the below’ that moves beyond foundational figures and movements and thinks through the potentials of poetry, biography, and religious newspapers as sources for a complex and nuanced rendering of contentious histories.
What is particularly notable about Yaseen’s dissertation is the fieldwork and skills required to obtain the research. His dissertation incorporates an extraordinarily large amount of historiographical and theoretical literature. He visited libraries and personal archives in various countries and analyzed documents written in Kashmiri, Urdu-Hindi, Persian, and Arabic.
He visited archives in New Delhi and London, uncovering local Kashmiri voices on land, language, and religion, among other political questions, through an examination of previously unknown or ignored vernacular sources, including loose-leaf poetic verses, memoirs, local periodicals as well as informal court records of Kashmir held by private individuals or associations.
“The type of archival sifting he has undertaken is invaluable, not just for discussing Kashmir but for the way we correlate between ideas and sociohistorical developments in modern South Asian history in general,” says Shahzad Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities.
Based on his dissertation research, Yaseen has published an article “Poetry as history: Maulana Muhammad Anwar Shopiani and the Ahl-i Hadith movement in Kashmir,” in the prestigious Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Yaseen is considering his next steps for publishing his research. “Transforming the dissertation into the book is the next big step. It involves a different kind of intellectual labor than writing a dissertation. I look forward to working through my ideas and writing over the coming years,” he says.
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2023.05.25 20:00 fairly_forgetful wedding recap and budget: 85 people in Chicago, garden party/church wedding in the city

I've found these super useful while planning my wedding (5/19/23- a week wed tomorrow!) so I thought I'd give back and share some of our thoughts, figures, regrets, etc!
So we started with a budget of 20k. We tried to allot it towards the stuff that was going to be expensive no matter what (venue, food) and to the stuff we cared about (photos, flowers), moreso than to "wedding stuff" that was traditional. I think we for the most part succeeded, however we did end up overbudget by far. I knew there would be surprise expenses but I underestimated them.
Overall goals: we both wrote down some dream goals for the wedding when we started to plan. It is a bit bittersweet to look back on those notes now because the wedding definitely took on a bit of a life of its own, and I think our goals did get a bit lost along the way. I wrote: Cinderella (2015) garden party wildflowers, black cat motifs, Taylor Swift, Mamma Mia vibes, delicate, whimsical, floral. He wrote: live band, ice cream cake, food truck, vibey, lowkey, fun.
Venue: (ceremony): $750. We got married at our church which could have been even cheaper but we added a few hundred for a donation to the general fund. The breakdown was a $100 cleaning fee, $300 musician fee (would have been lower but we asked the music director to learn a few new pieces for the service and wanted to compensate him for the extra work). The church is a gorgeous old Chicago church that we've been attending just over a year. We loved getting married there- the religious element was important to us, and our church community was so happy for us to get married there. It was a pretty church so we didn't really need to decorate it, which saved money as well.
Venue (reception): Firehouse Chicago ($6k). link. We looked for venues for a while and toured a few. Our guest count was sort of in between the cozy dinner party vibe we wanted, and the giant repurposed warehouse/ballrooms that most of the venues felt like. Smaller spaces that were still beautiful were wildly costly. But we liked Firehouse- it was pretty/unique enough looking that we wouldn't have to cover the place with decor to make it look halfway decent. My only regret about the venue is that it rained on our wedding morning, so they set up these big white tents outside, covering up the courtyard- and the tents were not very cute- the tops of them all stained from tree debris, etc. The courtyard was beautiful- fairy lights, flowers, Chicago brick buildings surrounding it, old trees- it felt like a little secret garden. But with the tents up... you are just in a white tent with stains on the top. I wish I'd made a better plan for rain or thought seriously about what to do and if I still liked the venue in rain mode. And it wasn't even raining by the evening! D: The tents weren't even necessary. But they were up and everything in them setup so there was no taking them down. Oh well. The venue also could have been cheaper - we added their candles for $150 (they strew a bunch of candles around for you) and their getting ready room ($500) for my bridesmaids and me to get ready in. We also took a bunch of pictures up there- it's a beautiful getting ready space. Very vintage feeling. The staff was very helpful to work with, though there were a few restrictions on vendors which we didn't love. They wanted us to use a catering vendor off their approved vendors list, and literally every single caterer would have been over 10k. We ended up going off the list (which would have incurred a small charge- not greater than the difference between that and 10k!) and since they had worked with that caterer before, they didn't charge us the fee- but still. Approved vendor lists sometimes are just a list of pricey people you can't opt out of. The staff of Firehouse was great, and the cost included people to set up your decor for you in the morning, a drop off time the day before with someone to listen to how you wanted things set up, and someone at the event all day to handle any emergencies / guide the staff for the room flip. Dinner is one setup of tables, and then you go outside for a toast/cake cutting, and the staff changes the floor around / takes away some tables to clear space for a dance floor, which was nice optimization of the space. The staff was awesome- they listened to my thoughts about what should go where, took my hampers of table numbers and a giant crossword and a guestbook tablecloth and card box and favors and 50 plus vases of flowers- all this stuff- and set it up beautifully. Prettier than I could have. I didn't have to fix a single thing. When I came downstairs in my wedding dress to go to the church, the place looked incredible. Husband wants me to add that we might have gone with a different reception space if we had known when we started planning that we were going to do the ceremony elsewhere. Part of the appeal of Firehouse was it had the pretty outdoor space where we could have a ceremony. But if we'd gone with a restaurant elsewhere, it would have been probably half the cost (since it would have combined food and venue).
Catering: City BBQ ($4,728, this is with gratuity included.) We had barbecue catering and it was delicious- we got a lot of compliments on the food. Brisket, turkey, mac n cheese, green beans, corn bread, potato salad, buns, and chocolate cake for dessert. They also did some fruit and cheese trays during cocktail hour. It took us weeks of searching last fall to find a caterer that wouldn't be over 10k for our number of guests but it was so worth the search. Chicago ups the cost on sooo many things but there are still some places you can find something cost effective if you put in a lot of time looking. We had wanted to do a food truck, particularly a taco truck, but they were all super expensive. We talked to three of them and it was going to be over 12k, some closer to 15k. We decided we didn't care that much abt the food truck and just wanted something tasty- ideally not the plated classic wedding dinners. So we had the buffet from City BBQ, and it was lovely. They were super nice to work with, and their head caterer came to our walkthrough at the venue a month prior and worked out the timeline etc with the venue coordinator. They did all the serving, setup, clean up, behind the scenes- they were awesome. So worth the money. I saw a lot of recommendations of just get some big tin trays of food and have family / friends manage the serving, but to me it was sooo worth it to have people working the event. I wanted my family and friends to be enjoying themselves.
Bar: Drinks On Us ($2k, gratuity included). The drinks were good. They provided two bartenders (one for the inside bar, one for the outside), and all the alcohol. I went with the package that had one red wine, one white wine, three kinds of beers, all sodas and such, and one custom cocktail (grapefruit fizz and vodka). The going back and forths with this vendor was a little frustrating- they have a faulty system, so as soon as I made a payment, the next day they send an email with vaguely grim language about a payment being over due- "take the easy way out and pay now before incurring 15% fees". The first time (initial deposit in December) I emailed them all alarmed. They said oh don't worry it just does that. The second time (paying the full balance in early May), I was more irritated. I'd just paid $1400, I'm managing giant payments to vendors left and right, and it's telling me I'm overdue and need to PAY NOW. It was unprofessional and a little menacing. The people were great, but the email system they have in place really soured me on them. They were very apologetic. I think I'd still recommend them, but know that you might get faulty emails warning you about late payments and fees.
Cake: Bittersweet Pastry, $140 (link we got this cake in pink and white for the cake cutting picture. Guests had chocolate cake from the caterer. The cake was beautiful, but not that good lol. But still worth it I think. This was a semi last minute addition as I realized we didn't have anything to cut for a picture.
Rehearsal dinner: A restaurant near our church. I believe this was around 2k, but my husband's parents paid for this. We had sliders and french fries and an open bar. The rehearsal was a lot of fun- the format of the room was a little restrictive, but it felt private to just our group, and it was super close to our church so we could walk right over after the rehearsal.
Marriage license: $60
Officiant: $0 (our priest officiated, she did not take a fee since our church considers marriage a sacrament and part of the duties of the church. We do donate to the church regularly though so you could consider that to be part of the fee.)
Ceremony music: see above church fee- it was about $300 but tied into the church fee
Photographer: Artbelka (Mariya Byelikova) Photography, $3,800. link. This got us seven hours of shooting, and we will have a gallery of pix as soon as she is done editing them. Photos were very important to me and I loved her style. We did engagement pictures with her, and both my husband and I are a little nervous in front of the camera. She set us at ease and got great movement pictures of us- very natural and candid and documentary style, while still having that stylish cinematic sort of feeling. We loved working with her- I'm hoping to do yearly pics with her or something. She was incredible. She also came to our rehearsal the day before because our church is in the round and is a slightly awkward space to photograph. And we last minute added an hour (we were originally set to do six hours) because we were either going to miss getting ready pics for me, or the special dances on the other end of the day, and she added an hour like 3 days prior to the wedding, no problem. Highly recommend her!
Videographer: Initially, Birch Films (James Birch Eiesland), for what was supposed to be $750 for a local Chicago videographer. It turned out he was from Minneapolis and finishing up school so he'd have to travel to Chicago and added a $200 travel fee. ok... well why are you listing yourself as local? Anyway... 12 days before the wedding he cancelled and refunded our money due to a family emergency. We scrambled and a friend of a friend who has a photography business was able to jump in. Paige Evans photography. This cost about $1200 but they also were doing it SUPER last minute, and they in general seemed more professional than James. (When we asked him how he was going to capture audio during the ceremony since vows are usually kind of quiet, and the videographer is standing a ways away, he said "his camera will pick up the audio". When we asked Paige how they would get the audio, she said they have a mic for the officiant and one for my husband. Just a glimpse into - you get what you pay for sort of thing.) They shot video of the entire ceremony, entire set of speeches/toasts, first dances- and caught highlights of other moments like dancing, guests, etc. They'll be sending me a 1 minute highlight reel in the next week or so I believe for social media, and the full videos will come later. Husband's parents paid for video, so I am not counting it towards our total.
Flowers: Romee Willow Floral, ($2k) link. Flowers were one of the most important things to me- I wanted a wildflower sort of feeling, a garden party vibe even though our wedding is in the city. I got quotes from a few florists and I really liked Romee Willow. I sent them my Pinterest board of flower inspo and they made a mood board and we talked through which flowers would be available right now, and the most important colors to me (yellow, light pink, light blue) and the shape of the bouquet, etc. They provided one bridal bouquet, 4 bridesmaids bouquets, 10 boutonnieres, 2 mom wrist corsages, a flower crown and basket of petals for the flower girl, and 54 bud vases of flowers for the tables at the reception. We originally were going to rent the vases and return them, but we wanted people to be able to take the flowers home (we couldn't, since we have cats) so we ended up getting vases off amazon link and everyone was able to take the flowers home in their cute vases. LOVED our florals. She beyond delivered. It would have been cheaper if we hadn't had the rental vases in our original contract, but she added more flowers to make up for the difference of not having the rentals. She perfectly caught the vision of what I wanted, and even though some of the flowers I wanted weren't in season (rip black eyed susans, queen anne's lace, etc) she made great substitutes. link to some pics we snapped of the flowers
Flower preservation: Bloom and Make ($600) link This was a last minute addition as I panicked two weeks prior to the wedding and realized I would want to preserve the bouquet. I wanted it pressed into a flat picture frame to hang on the wall, and I also added a pair of flower earrings. We'll be working together on this as the flowers come out of the press to see which ones look nice still and how I want to do it. I kept my bouquet in water overnight and we drove it to her house the day after the wedding. Very excited to work with her- I love her stuff on her website. She had great insight about colors too- apparently white flowers don't press that well, and reds turn brownish? She was excited to press my bouquet because it was so colorful. I can't wait to see how it turns out!
Other Decosignage/DIYs: $600ish. This was all very random stuff. Little gold wire stands to put the table numbers on. Templates to make the seating chart and name cards and table number cards. I got the templates off of etsy and made them on templett, and printed them at Staples. We did a custom crossword from etsy which was about $40 (on sale!) so we provided about 40 questions and answers, and this lady assembled it into a gorgeous "sip n solve" crossword for us. We printed it on laminated paper and got expo markers and a big poster board on an easel for cocktail hour. We also had little paper ones I printed at home if people wanted to try the crossword themselves. Probably about $60 to get the poster printed. I got a tablecloth off of ebay (still in package) for $20- super nice linen hemstitched tablecloth- and we had that set up almost like a blank canvas, for people to sign as a guest book. We also had a board of family wedding pics from our parents and grandparents' wedding days, and had that leaning on the wall behind the card box and matchboxes. All this stuff was super fiddly and time consuming- nothing individually that expensive, but just took time to make and think through what I wanted. I think they all turned out really nice though- especially the tablecloth. I plan to embroider on everyone's messages, and bring it out for holidays and have whoever attends the holiday sign it and date it- trace kids' hands, etc. A living heirloom. :) Our card box was a big yellow bread box from Michaels for $12- I didn't want a "card box" I'd literally never use again, so I got something I think is cute (I love yellow) and I'll use it as decofun storage. We also had an embroidered guest book from Rifle Paper co that was an impulse purchase in the last cpl weeks- I got worried that older guests might not sign the tablecloth and would be looking for a traditional "guest book". That did in fact happen. I'm going to try and transfer their signatures over to the guest tablecloth if I can. I made the matchbook design on my ipad and sent it to someone who had them made into matchboxes for me- about $100 for 100 matchboxes as our wedding favors. I was briefly worried no one would take any but MIL marched around with the basket and gave everybody a matchbox so we only have about 30 left which is a true miracle. Bless her heart. link to tablecloth results / inspo, and some other DIY stuff.
Invitations, Save the dates, postage: $400. I used a template on canva for the save the dates, and those were prob about $60. I found a template on Etsy and made the invitations on templett for the wedding- it's a beautiful art nouveau Mucha green frame. Those were also probably about $60-70. Most of the money here went to stamps. I love stamps. I made envelopes that match the garden party / floral vibe, but also that sort of corresponded to each guest's personality a bit. My sister who likes turtles, got a turtle stamp. My friend from ballet class got a ballerina stamp. I just really like stamps. This was an excellent excuse to get a lot of MNH stamps off of ebay I'd been eyeing for years and use them on my stationery. stationery pics
DJ: Just Press Play Productions (originally $550, but we had $9.60 added on). Very mixed feelings on this vendor. I think you get what you pay for. Most DJs were like 2k and we were reaaaally looking to save money by this time. This one was on the preferred vendors list, and they were super cheap, and brought the speakers / microphone themselves, and all we had to do (in theory) was provide the playlists and a device for the music to be played on. When I paid them, I got an irritated email about the fact that I turned on purchase protection (they requested we pay thru venmo, to avoid the credit card fees.) They requested I pay the extra nine dollars and sixty cents, and said it didn't benefit them to have the protection on, and that "they have never not shown up for their customers". I was like ...... but I paid the nine dollars, and decided to reserve judgment. They told us to make a couple of playlist- one of fast songs, one of slow songs, and one with the special music for the first dances, anniversary dance, last dance, etc. We did so. We had a call with the DJ a few days pre wedding and went over his script/transitions. He was going to announce tables for dinner, announce the speeches/transition between them, announce the dances, etc. He did some of those things. We had to do some of the transitions ourselves- everyone gave their toasts and speeches, and then we had to kind of say "that's all the speeches, thank you" and he was just standing there. The music was way too loud. We asked him a few times to turn it down, but if he did, it never took. It was super super loud during dinner, and during dancing. He texted me during the ceremony (I didn't see it till i got home that night lol) "where is the cocktail hour playlist". I didn't know we needed to make one of those- we made a slow song playlist and a fast/dance song playlist, as they had said most people do. It wasn't that he was bad... it just wasn't ideal. We should have looked into it a little more and realized we needed a cocktail hour playlist. And the email chiding us for the purchase protection thing and requesting the nine dollars really made me laugh.
Attire (groom): Husband got his suit made from scratch from an online try on place called Lords of Wool. I'm not sure if we would do it again. It was a lot of hassle to take the measurements and try and figure out what was going to be the closest fit, and when the suit arrived (cost abt $500) he still had to go to a tailor to get it altered. I think it would be easier to just go to someone to get a suit made for you locally. The suit was a light blue linen- really pretty- which was why we didn't go with a bigger name brand - nobody had that specific color. His parents paid for his suit, so I am not counting it towards our total.
Attire (bride): Here's where I really would do stuff different. I got my dress ($2k originally, more like 3.5 with alterations) from Diana's Bridal (not to be confused with David's Bridal!). The alterations cost a lot- even though there really wasn't much that needed to be altered. It fit me pretty well. They took the bust and waist in a little bit, and hemmed the dress, and added a bustle. I think we got "wedding charged" a bit. And then the real reason I am a bit bummed about this aspect is I ultimately decided to wear my mom's wedding dress for the ceremony. 3 grand later- I'm wearing a dress I had all along. So fricking silly. I wore my Diana's bridal dress to the reception, but it was a very full ballgown on little spaghetti straps. Beautiful (I still love it!) but super super heavy. Not very danceable. And I still have welts on my shoulders from those beaded spaghetti straps chopping into my shoulders with the weight of the giant ballgown all night. The bustle failed bc of course it did- it is a super heavy skirt- and my mom had to safety pin it up. I never ended up wearing the veil I got for this dress (it was this one but it was only $100 when i purchased it because the veil was for the ceremony. And by the week of the wedding I was eyeing stuff like this on ebay and just wishing I'd been more true to myself and gotten some vintage dress for less than a thousand dollars, a little more danceable, maybe even rewearable- and not felt like I had to get a "wedding dress". Oh well. You live and you learn. dresses
Hair and makeup: Nika Vaughan ($1430) link. This cost included hair and makeup for me and for two of my bridesmaids- so six hours and six services. My stylist was Lia. She did a great job for the most part! When we did the trial in March, I thought I was going to be wearing the ballgown for the ceremony. So we did loose curls and a little braid for the veil to sit in, and it was beautiful! Get to the wedding day and I'm wearing my mom's dress which has this Edwardian like high collar. I have long hair- curls/down is going to fight with the collar of the dress. But I knew I was going to switch to the ballgown later. So I said what can we do hairwise that's still sort of Rapunzely, that I can take out later and it's still curly and pretty down. So she had to sort of improvise on the day of, and she did a french braid, which isn't my favorite. Oh well. And the flowers she wove into my hair looked sort of straggly- there were daisies and things but she picked these little evergreen looking things that didn't go that great in my hair in my opinion. Oh well. The makeup was beautiful! And the hair came down post ceremony and had gorgeous curls still. I would definitely recommend them- I didn't like "bridal makeup" and wanted something more natural and modern, and they definitely delivered.
Rings: I just used my engagement ring as the wedding band again- it doesn't stack well- ($140 off of etsy, can't find the link anymore but here it is on me) and he got this ring from Ethereal Bloom for $55.
Other outfits (mostly bride): $350. I got a dress from Asos link for the bridal shower and somehow have no pictures in it. It's a great dress though, I will wear it again! Got a little clip in veil from Lulus for $30 for the rehearsal dinner, and a dress from Anthropologie for $176 for the rehearsal dinner, and shoes from Target for $26. rehearsal dinner dress.
Bridesmaid and groomsman and flower girl/ring bearer attire: I wanted each bridesmaid in a different color- we did lavender, light blue, light pink, and light green. I wanted yellow originally but they all begged me not to make them wear yellow. So I put the flowers girls in yellow lol. I did a survey of each girl's size, budget for a dress, and requested color of (pink lavender green blue yellow), and once each had a color, I looked online and found 5 dresses for each girl within the price range they listed, with their size available, in the sort of garden party fairy vibe I wanted. They then picked the dress they liked best from the 5 options. Somehow, all four bridesmaids ended up picking dresses in almost the same cut and fabric, so it looks like I told them "this dress!" but it all worked out. They looked great. two of the bridesmaids. I had a flower girl and ring bearer who were kids, and two babies to be "jr" flower girl and ring bearers. I put the girls in adorable yellow dresses, and the boys had kids / baby versions of what the groomsmen wore. I did not care about the groomsmen attire at all- they did khaki vests because they all had khaki pants already, over a white shirt. I sent each of them a link to a tie in a color matching the bridesmaids- pink, green, blue, lavender. They looked great too.
Other costs: Thankful registry ($30). Definitely recommend registering with Thankful! So convenient to use different websites across the internet- can do literally any store you want, and can attach your paypal/stripe accounts for people to send cash. They also compile a thank you note list with who gave what and when, and little notes from the gift-givers. Other random costs... we used Minted for the wedding website which was free. Definitely recommend! Our website is beautiful and looks like us, and has my lily of the valley motif which I love. We also did both digital and physical RSVPs which worked really well. Plenty of people mailed their RSVPs but a lot of the younger ppl did online. And we could just go in and enter the online stuff for people who lost their card in the mail and/or weren't tech savvy. We had a bridesmaid suite for us to stay in night before the wedding: $218. Half of us ended up not even staying there lol- one of my bridesmaids brought a plus one and she was going to be staying there with us without us knowing that ahead of time... so me and one friend just slept at our own houses (we live in Chicago) and the bridesmaid suite became moreso this one girl and her plus one, and one of my sisters. Oh well lol. For the wedding night we thought abt a hotel room but it never happened and we were happy to just come home to our cute cats and our nice apartment.
total cost: $26,524
tldr; we had a beautiful wedding. We were 6k over budget... some of that was stuff I would definitely change (skip the Diana's bridal dress and get something 3k cheaper), some of that was stuff we forgot to include (we added tip into the totals on things and hadn't had that factored into the original budget, that was definitely over a grand across all the vendors), and some of it was just stuff you don't know you need until you're buying gold wire table number holders on amazon two weeks before the wedding. If I did it again I'd do it different in some ways, but most of the things came out great. And I am SO relieved and happy to be done. Thank goodness we are married and it's done and it was beautiful. Despite the rain.
If you have any questions about anything let me know! I hope this helps other Chicago brides/grooms on a budget. It's expensive out here but we did our best to keep costs low.
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2023.04.29 18:20 Speedy_Cheese Thoughts on Generations + Spock: Reflections + PIC S3 + ST: TOS - The Cage, William Shatner's "The Return", OTOY "765874 - Regeneration" + ST: III The Search For Spock connections?

We are talking PIC S3 Spoilers, William Shatner's The Return Spoilers, Star Trek Generations Spoilers, IDW's Spock Reflections Spoilers, I mean you name it there are a lot of intercollected lore threads to tease apart here.
So we have a YouTube clip, a comic series, Picard 3 Easter Eggs, a novel, and a movie from 29 years ago. Are they planning something for the 30th anniversary of Generations? Maybe, maybe not.
But all of these little interconnected storylines are very interesting to say the least. I'm not sure what to make of it all honestly, or what's going on. But here's what we know so far.
Don't read on if you don't want spoilers for the above entertainment BC this story thread weaves into a lot of different Star Trek media, both canon and noncanon.
This video sums it up nicely and connects all the dots I've also been wending on since that clip (OTOY + The Gene Roddenberry Project) dropped:
Was chatting with some fans about this recently and you know, maybe it's delulu, but all we really have at this juncture are fan theories to fill in the gaps as they've just given us a few little breadcrumbs.
Spock is visiting Viridian III to collect Kirk's remains, which parallels William Shatner's The Return as well as IDW's comic series Spock: Reflections. They gave a nod to the OTOY clip on social media. Link to the parallel between the clip and the comic below:
Then there is the Easter Egg from Picard Season 3 tying this into The Return and Jim's body being recovered. We see in The Return and PICS3 Kirk's remains are collected for "Project Phoenix". This is written on Kirk's panels in the background in Picard S3E6:
"Starfleet officer James Tiberius Kirk (SC 937-0176 CEC) was Captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 during its historic five-year mission of exploration in 2264-2269.
By 2270 (?) Kirk had earned an impressive list of commendations from Starfleet, including the Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission, the Grankite Order of Tactics (Class of Excellence) and the Preantares Ribbon of Commendation (Classes First and Second) and the Blass Award for Space Exploration.
Kirk's awards for valor included the Medal of Honor, the Silver Palm with Cluster, the Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, and the Kragite Order of Heroism. Captain Kirk was critically injured while assisting Captain Jean-Luc Picard during a situation (?) on Veridian III. His body was retrieved by Project Phoenix."
A number of times within and outside recent canon, Jim's death has been referred to as alleged, or that he was critically injured/wounded. As seen above on the screen shown next to Kirk's body in PIC S3, he is referred to as "critically injured".
During this scene in PIC S3E6 there is also a classic TOS throwback sound effect of a pulse -- a heartbeat life sign being measured (3:57):
Before you see Kirk's body you also see there is a "Genesis II" Project; Genesis I was used to revive Spock from the dead in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. (Around 3:42).
Plus this Shatner interview released by OTOY, which made it very clear that he had always intended to keep playing Kirk. Apparently Rick Berman had totally shut him down when he proposed ideas for bringing back the character:
Furthermore, a ton of the clips and tester shots that OTOY has filmed with The Roddenberry Archive have the number "765874" in the title, which is the badge number of Yeoman J.M. Colt.
She was also only one of four crewmembers serving about Pike's Enterprise who interacted with the Talosians, had gone to their planet, or who could even talk about them.
It's forbidden from anyone in Starfleet to read about that mission report without permission ( ST: TOS The Menagerie Part 1 & 2). Their planet was one of the very rare instances where visiting would have serious penalties, including a death sentence (similar to how the Genesis planet was forbidden in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock).
Anyway, how does Colt tie into this? Why is her serial badge number the title to so many of the clips, including the Veridian III clip?
Curious developments.
So anyway, now that I feel like Charlie Day with his corkboard:
What do you folks think they might be up to? Any thoughts on these seemingly random connections throughout various forms of Trek media?
submitted by Speedy_Cheese to startrek [link] [comments]

2023.04.18 20:09 kimthuong2019 apkmody.info với Giao diện dễ sử dụng các mục rõ ràng

apkmody.info với Giao diện dễ sử dụng các mục rõ ràng
Website apkmody.info là một kho game giúp người dùng tránh các khoản phí để có những trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng hơn, cài đặt nhanh hơn và không cần bẻ khóa… Bạn sẽ dễ dàng tìm kiếm các file APK (game hoặc ứng dụng) giúp người dùng tải về cài đặt miễn phí cũng như các trò chơi và ứng dụng APK gốc miễn phí.
Về phần chất lượng của website https://apkmody.info xác định sẽ là một sân chơi miễn phí an toàn tuyệt đối cho người dùng điện thoại Android và iPhone. Ngoài tốc độ hoạt động tốt hơn hơn thì việc luôn đảm bảo không có file độc hại gây ảnh hưởng hay đánh cắp thông tin người dùng được bảo mật cao hơn không như những đồn đoán, qua đó đã tạo được niềm tin đến rất nhiều người dùng.
Về phần các tính năng của apkmody.info thì được tích hợp rất nhiều, có thể chọn mục tìm kiếm rồi nhập chính xác từ khóa hoặc cũng có thể tham khảo mục game hay ứng dụng nổi bật trên trang chủ.

Những ưu điểm nổi bật của apkmody.info
● Có nhiều trò chơi, nhiều ứng dụng hay và thường được sử dụng miễn phí.
● Giúp bẻ khóa chức năng trả phí nên người chơi có thể cài đặt trải nghiệm game dễ dàng không cần bất kỳ chi phí nào.
● Update liên tục và nhanh chóng nhiều loại game mới, hấp dẫn trên website để người chơi dễ dàng lựa chọn.
● Ngăn chặn các quảng cáo của nhà phát hành trò chơi, ứng dụng cực kỳ hiệu quả
● Bạn có thể sử dụng các file APK sẽ nhẹ hơn và được tối ưu hóa nhiều thứ hơn.
Giao diện dễ sử dụng các mục rõ ràng
Tại website apkmody.info các trò chơi, ứng dụng sẽ được chia sẻ theo nhiều mục khác nhau nhằm giúp người chơi dễ dàng tìm hiểu:
● Mục trò chơi, ứng dụng tải nhiều hôm nay theo yêu cầu số đông người dùng, tại đây sẽ có các file mod mà người dùng yêu cầu và các model sử dụng rồi chia sẻ ở mục này.
● Mục chia sẻ các ứng dụng nổi bật nhất được đánh giá cao nhất, anh em có thể vào đây để khám phá.
● Mục mới phát hành giúp người chơi dễ dàng tìm kiếm những App Mod mới ra, không tốn thời gian chi phí.
● Mục đề xuất đa dạng dành cho những bạn chưa xác định trải nghiệm trò chơi, ứng dụng nào.
● Trò chơi & ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất: Lightning Jackpot, Spades Plus – Card, Sid Eternal, Texas Holdem Poker, Poker Texas Holdem, VIP Deluxe Slots, Russian Lotto online, ChessKid
● Trò chơi & ứng dụng trả tiền mới nhất: Crosswords Word, Codewords Paid , Kingdom: New Lands, BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL, G30 - A Memory Maze, FreeCell Solitaire: Premium, Alien Watch, Passepartout: Starving Artist
● Trò chơi miễn phí mới nhất:Lightning Jackpot, Spades Plus - Card Game, Sid Eternal, Leaf Contents Alliance, Corp, Texas Holdem Poker Pro, Poker Texas Holdem, VIP Deluxe Slots Games Offline, SLOTS! Casino Slot Machines by Super Lucky Casino
● Một số game, ứng dụng tiêu biểu có thể tải tại APKMody cho Android như: Minecraft Mod, Among Us Mod, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas MOD APK, Soul Knight Apk Mod, Blockman GO, Tank Stars, Motion Leap, Zooba, Best Friends, Hungry Shark Evolution, Family Island, Stick War: Legacy, Alight Motion, Shadow Fight 2, Garena Free Fire, Plants vs Zombies,...
Ngoài ra, còn có những trò chơi, game 18+ cực nóng bỏng như: Queen's Glory, Black Book, Kunoichi Tsubaki, Town of Passion, A Kiss For The Petals The New Gener,...
Hãy truy cập ngay apkmody.info để trải nghiệm những trò chơi, những ứng dụng bạn yêu thích nhé! Cùng thư giãn, thoải mái, và trải nghiệm miễn phí hấp dẫn với hàng ngàn trò chơi, ứng dụng hay nhất hiện nay.
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2023.04.18 19:38 kimthuong2019 Những ưu điểm nổi bật khi tải game tại apkmody.info

Những ưu điểm nổi bật khi tải game tại apkmody.info
Website apkmody.info là một kho game giống như CH Play Android hoặc App Store của iSO vậy, có thể nói giống như một ứng dụng bên thứ ba. Website APKmody là viết tắt của từ modified apk, nghĩa là các file cài đặt sẽ được tinh chỉnh nhằm phù hợp hoặc hỗ trợ cài đặt trên nhiều thiết bị hơn nhưng không làm thay đổi bản chất vốn có. Đặc biệt, việc chỉnh sửa này đa phần là giúp người dùng tránh các khoản phí để có những trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng hơn, hoặc là mod làm sao để có thể cài đặt nhanh hơn và không cần bẻ khóa…
Về phần chất lượng của website https://apkmody.info xác định sẽ là một sân chơi miễn phí an toàn tuyệt đối cho người dùng điện thoại Android và iPhone. Ngoài tốc độ hoạt động hơn thì việc luôn đảm bảo không có file độc hại gây ảnh hưởng hay đánh cắp thông tin người dùng như những đồn đoán đã tạo được niềm tín đến rất nhiều người dùng.
Khi bạn truy cập apkmody.info sẽ dễ dàng tìm kiếm các file APK (game hoặc ứng dụng) đã được mod hoặc hack giúp người dùng tải về cài đặt miễn phí cũng như các trò chơi và ứng dụng APK gốc miễn phí. Và với rất rất nhiều sản phẩm bạn sẽ khó lòng lựa chọn được thứ mình yêu thích. Vậy để tiết kiệm thời gian bạn có thể hãy cùng nhau tham khảo một số để mục nổi trội về rò chơi và ứng dụng tại website apkmody.info nhé!

Tham khảo một số mục đề xuất giúp bạn trải nghiệm tốt hơn như:
● Mục trò chơi & ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất: Lightning Jackpot, Spades Plus – Card, Sid Eternal, Texas Holdem Poker, Poker Texas Holdem, VIP Deluxe Slots, Russian Lotto online, ChessKid…
● Mục trò chơi & ứng dụng trả tiền mới nhất: Crosswords Word, Codewords Paid , Kingdom: New Lands, BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL, G30 - A Memory Maze, FreeCell Solitaire: Premium, Alien Watch
● Mục trò chơi miễn phí mới nhất: Lightning Jackpot, Spades Plus - Card Game, Sid Eternal, Leaf Contents Alliance, Corp, Texas Holdem Poker Pro, Poker Texas Holdem
Về phần các tính năng của apkmody.info thì được tích hợp rất nhiều, có thể chọn mục tìm kiếm rồi nhập chính xác từ khóa hoặc cũng có thể tham khảo mục đề xuất game hay ứng dụng nổi bật trên trang chủ như trên. Phần tìm kiếm hiệu quả, nhanh chóng sẽ giúp bạn dễ dàng tìm được sản phẩm bạn yêu thích nhằm đem đến những trải nghiệm giải trí tốt nhất cho khách hàng.
Những ưu điểm nổi bật của apkmody.info
● Có nhiều trò chơi, nhiều ứng dụng hay và thường được sử dụng miễn phí.
● Giúp bẻ khóa chức năng trả phí nên người chơi có thể cài đặt trải nghiệm game dễ dàng không cần bất kỳ chi phí nào.
● Website luôn update nhanh chóng các game mới,ứng dụng mới hấp dẫn để người chơi dễ dàng lựa chọn.
● Ngăn chặn hiệu quả các quảng cáo gây phiền hà người chơi của nhà phát hành trò chơi, ứng dụng cực kỳ hiệu quả
● Bạn có thể sử dụng các file APK sẽ nhẹ hơn và được tối ưu hóa nhiều thứ hơn.
Hãy truy cập ngay apkmody.info để trải nghiệm những trò chơi, những ứng dụng bạn yêu thích nhé! Cùng thư giãn, thoải mái, và trải nghiệm miễn phí hấp dẫn với hàng ngàn trò chơi, ứng dụng hay nhất hiện nay.
submitted by kimthuong2019 to u/kimthuong2019 [link] [comments]

2023.04.18 19:25 kimthuong2019 apkmody.info - kho game phong phú vui nhộn

apkmody.info - kho game phong phú vui nhộn
Hiện nay, có rất nhiều ứng dụng cho phép các bạn tha hồ tải game Mod và file Mod miễn phí, tiêu biểu là website apkmody.info. Đây là website được nhiều người yêu thích và phát triển bởi tập đoàn lớn. Website cung cấp một kho game và ứng dụng đã được chỉnh sửa giúp người dùng có thể trải nghiệm hoàn toàn miễn phí.
Đặc biệt, khi tải Games và Apps trên https://apkmody.info sẽ luôn đảm bảo về mức độ an toàn và chưa thấy người dùng qua phàn nàn về việc ứng dụng này gây hại hay là dấu hiệu lừa đảo cả. Chỉ là sản phẩm ứng dụng, trò chơi giúp bạn thoải mái vui chơi giải trí, giải tỏa căng thẳng hay sở thích mà thôi.
Nếu bạn thật sự chưa an tầm về website apkmody.info thì hãy tham khảo bài viết dưới đây nhé, Hãy tham khảo những thông tin cần thiết về nền tảng này và những đánh giá về mức độ an toàn của nó khi download game và ứng dụng premium ngay nhé!

Tham khảo một số mục đề xuất giúp bạn trải nghiệm tốt hơn như:
● Mục trò chơi & ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất: Lightning Jackpot, Spades Plus – Card, Sid Eternal, Texas Holdem Poker, Poker Texas Holdem, VIP Deluxe Slots, Russian Lotto online, ChessKid…
● Mục trò chơi & ứng dụng trả tiền mới nhất: Crosswords Word, Codewords Paid , Kingdom: New Lands, BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL, G30 - A Memory Maze, FreeCell Solitaire: Premium, Alien Watch
● Mục trò chơi miễn phí mới nhất: Lightning Jackpot, Spades Plus - Card Game, Sid Eternal, Leaf Contents Alliance, Corp, Texas Holdem Poker Pro, Poker Texas Holdem
Giao diện apkmody.info dễ sử dụng với mọi đối tượng. Với những mục đề xuất như vậy bạn dễ dàng lựa chọn được trò chơi, ứng dụng để trải nghiệm. Và chắc chắn bạn không thể nào chán với kho ứng dụng, trò chơi khổng lồ hơn 1000 sản phẩm. Hãy tham khảo ngay nhé!
Một chút về apkmody.info
Website apkmody.info là một kho game giống như CH Play Android hoặc App Store của iSO vậy, có thể nói giống như một ứng dụng bên thứ ba. Website APKmody là viết tắt của từ modified apk, nghĩa là các file cài đặt sẽ được tinh chỉnh nhằm phù hợp hoặc hỗ trợ cài đặt trên nhiều thiết bị hơn nhưng không làm thay đổi bản chất vốn có. Đặc biệt, việc chỉnh sửa này đa phần là giúp người dùng tránh các khoản phí để có những trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng hơn, hoặc là mod làm sao để có thể cài đặt nhanh hơn và không cần bẻ khóa…
Về phần chất lượng của website apkmody.info xác định sẽ là một sân chơi miễn phí an toàn tuyệt đối cho người dùng điện thoại Android và iPhone. Ngoài tốc độ hoạt động hơn thì việc luôn đảm bảo không có file độc hại gây ảnh hưởng hay đánh cắp thông tin người dùng như những đồn đoán đã tạo được niềm tín đến rất nhiều người dùng.
Khi bạn truy cập apkmody.info sẽ dễ dàng tìm kiếm các file APK (game hoặc ứng dụng) đã được mod hoặc hack giúp người dùng tải về cài đặt miễn phí cũng như các trò chơi và ứng dụng APK gốc miễn phí.
Về phần các tính năng của apkmody.info thì được tích hợp rất nhiều, có thể chọn mục tìm kiếm rồi nhập chính xác từ khóa hoặc cũng có thể tham khảo mục game hay ứng dụng nổi bật trên trang chủ.
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2023.04.13 19:27 subredditsummarybot Your weekly /r/habs roundup for the week of April 06 - April 12

Thursday, April 06 - Wednesday, April 12

Top videos

score comments title & link
321 26 comments Nick Suzuki shorthanded goal
312 32 comments [Highlight] While we're discussing the best games from this season, heres a vid i got of Caufield's last second goal vs Philly
159 31 comments [Highlight] Emil Heineman scores his 7th goal in 7 games with the Rocket to tie the game at 1.

Game thread comments

score comment
66 bloblob37 said The caps are so fucking worthless
56 ghg1999 said typically they show some fight against the leafs but this is a roster that has nothing left, ill take the result considering Arizona won also, the fact that a national broadcast spent minutes openly ...
44 dadoudelidou said 47 fucking shots on goal. Monty has reasons to be pissed.
30 CheetahLynx83 said Fuck the Leafs, may they choke in game 7 once again.
30 W4ingro1995 said Can't wait to see the Bolts go into playoff mode and do their thing against these regular season heroes
26 sean_psc said Got that out of the way, Arizona won, now we just need to see if the Capitals can pull this out (though that would probably at this juncture still mean the Panthers getting a loser point). ED...
18 davefromgabe said remember when we beat them in the playoffs tho
17 BillyShears19 said I guess its gotta be hard to stay motivated this late in the season, but that was just a sad showing
17 ApokatastasisPanton said How long do you guys think it's gonna be until a post by Leafs fans crybaby#1 TicTacOmar complaining about Bunting being penalized makes its way to the front of hockey? I give it 10 minutes
16 takeyallon said I miss Arber

Top Remaining Posts

score comments title & link
379 41 comments [Meme] The state of the team at the moment
345 155 comments [Meme] Fun fact : If nothing changes, the Montreal Canadiens will draft in the 69th position.
345 28 comments Suzuki with an unreal goal
273 41 comments Hey boys
252 28 comments Captain Nick Suzuki in a Habs pride jersey
236 7 comments Rafael Harvey-Pinard’s transformation to Brendan Gallagher continues, ending the night with a random cut on his face
236 2 comments Will there be a fight in the game ?
233 21 comments Mike Matheson on the presence of Cole Caufield around the team.
223 2 comments Which Habs Center ends up with the best FO% in this game ?
220 22 comments Montembeault Closing Out the Season
submitted by subredditsummarybot to Habs [link] [comments]

2023.04.12 22:21 bklyngal19 I am 27 years old, make $87,500 in NYC, and this week I got a cold

Section One: Assets and Debt (NW $184K)
Section Two: Income
Income Progression:
Main Job Monthly Take Home: $4400, this is approximate as I’m paid biweekly and some deductions aren’t taken out of the third paycheck of the month
Section Three: Expenses
Day 1 – Friday
7:20 am – My alarm goes off, and I do my morning routine (brush, wash face, skincare – face wash, vitamin C serum, eye roll-on, moisturizer, sunscreen). I mostly use drugstore products with some nicer things I find as promos or get as presents. Just started using Black Girl Sunscreen and I love it! My work week makeup is literally just filling in my eyebrows and a few swipes of mascara. I pack some food and hop on the train.
8:30 – I go to physical therapy biweekly because of chronic neck and shoulder problems. It has helped immensely and is very conveniently located where I work. My copay is $10.
9:45 – After getting settled at my desk, I get an Instagram notification from the mutual aid account Pocket Change Pools and Venmo $5 to their fund. I heat up water for tea in my very cheap and handy electric tea kettle and eat a Greek yogurt and protein granola bar. My paycheck hit today, so I Zelle my portion of rent ($1750, in monthly expenses) to my partner T.
1 pm – I didn’t bring lunch but there is always free pizza at our department’s grand rounds lectures so I go listen in while eating. Afterward there is a goodbye party for a doctor who’s moving, so I snag some homemade cake and grab a couple Milk Bar cookies to take home.
2:30 - Today is pretty slow because the doctor who sees most of our Friday patients is out. After texting my brother and a few friends, I semi-impulsively decide to get a new credit card to get more travel benefits. All these weddings and trips are adding up! I apply for the Capital One Venture card, which has a $95 annual fee that will be charged later, and get approved immediately. This is great because I recently decided to finally get TSA pre-check, and the card will reimburse that fee.
4:30 – I eat an orange at my desk while doing miscellaneous admin work. At 5:40, I leave work and pick up some Amazon packages. I have been super into plants recently, and I ordered some pots for our tiny balcony’s railing to try to grow flowers, a watering can, as well as adhesive shower caddy shelves for our bathroom. T. comes home after stopping at Trader Joe’s ($11 my half). We put almost everything on Splitwise and settle up every month or so.
7 pm – I walk over to meet my friend for iftar (she’s fasting for Ramadan) at an amazing casual Indian restaurant ($26 my half). Afterward, we walk to a chai place nearby that is absolutely packed, and very delicious. I insist on paying, since she’s in grad school ($21).
11 pm – I get home and chill with T. for a bit, shower, nighttime skincare (toner, hyaluronic serum, eye roll-on, and face cream), brush/floss/mouthwash. I stay up too late scrolling, and fall asleep around 2 am.
TOTAL: $73
Day 2 – Saturday
11 am – I really like to sleep. I lay in bed on my phone for a while, then slowly get ready, water my plants, and make a little brunch – tea, frozen hash browns, Greek yogurt, and an orange.
4 pm – The outdoor pots I bought won’t fit on our rails and one is cracked. I find a different planter at Macy’s and impulsively add on a little beauty product sampler for $10. I will split the cost of the planter with T. ($42, $21 my share). I also update my finance spreadsheet, which I try to do after every paycheck, and pay a bill from a recent doctor’s visit ($10).
5 pm – Today is the three year anniversary of my grandmother’s death. She was one of the first victims of COVID, and I’m pretty sad. When T. gets home (he works Saturdays) I have a little cry while hugging him, then we decide to go for a walk and get some fresh air.
6 pm – We eventually pass a tapas restaurant that looks amazing and I convince him to get an early dinner. I get a red sangria, he gets a ginger mojito, and we split several tapas and a lava cake for dessert. The food is amazing! T. usually pays for date nights but since this was unplanned and my idea, I offer to split the cost ($118 total, $59 my half). We walk home quickly to avoid some very ominous looking skies.
7:30 – I originally had a girls night tonight, but it got postponed. T. already made plans with a friend so I decide on a quiet self-care night. I recently ordered a cute photo album for all the random printed photos I have, so I put that together. I waste time on the internet for a while, call my dad to check in on him, and then take a nice long shower (wash hair, shave, and do a face mask).
2 am – I wanted to wait up for T., but I’m exhausted and I pass out.
Total: $100
Day 3 – Sunday
10:15 am – Wake up and get ready. We’re going to T.’s church for Palm Sunday mass. I have some tea and bring a granola bar on the train. The church is packed, and we stand for a while before sneaking into a pew.
1 pm – That was a long service, but it’s beautiful out and we take some time (and pictures) to walk around the cherry blossoms in a park nearby. On the way back from the train station, we stop by a local bakery that T. loves. He gets a coffee and cheese Danish and I get a croissant and a couple mini biscotti. T. pays $11. We eat the pastries at home alongside scrambled eggs he makes.
2:30 – I am trying to behead and propagate/repot some of our succulents that have gotten elongated and sad. My cousin texts me that he and his wife are going for a walk nearby with their very adorable baby, so we meet up with them. Baby is mostly asleep but extremely cute, and we walk through a couple different parks before hanging out at their apartment for a bit.
5:30 – We get home, I finish dealing with my plants, and we snack on chips and salsa and the biscotti while watching SNL clips. We do a couple hours of work on our new IKEA Hemnes dresser, which has taken literally forever to put together.
8:15 – In need of an easy dinner, we heat up a couple of Trader Joe’s frozen vegan Pad Thais, but tragedy strikes when T. tries to set up everything on a laptop desk on top of an ottoman, it slides off, and our water glasses break. We spend way too long vacuuming and cleaning up, salvage the Pad Thai, watch more SNL and eat the Milk Bar cookies.
10 pm – I take a shower and then get on a weekly Zoom with my family. This started at the beginning of COVID and has become a tradition, which is nice because we’re pretty spread out across the country. We talk about a family wedding this fall and I get sucked into looking up plane tickets and hotels. My sleep schedule has been horrendous lately. I fall asleep at 1:30 am.
Total: $0
Day 4 – Monday
8 am – I wake up but am exhausted and fall back asleep until 9. Luckily I can basically make my own hours at work since I schedule my own appointments.
10 am – At work, I do my usual breakfast of tea, yogurt, and granola bar, and catch up on emails. I also scroll through a money diary and do the NYTimes crossword and spelling bee. T. doesn’t work Mondays, and he goes to Trader Joe’s ($30, $15 my half).
12 pm – I sit in on a very long Zoom meeting and say nothing. I didn’t have food to bring from home, so I walk to Trader Joe’s (we are a little obsessed…) and get my go-to peanut udon noodle salad plus a small pack of dark chocolate-covered almonds ($6). Walking back into the hospital, I grab a couple extra surgical masks. There’s some sort of fire alarm system testing going on while I eat, which is very loud.
3 pm – My patient calls to reschedule two minute before his appointment, when I’ve already prepped everything. Sigh. I eat an orange, some random Indian snacks, and a Bacci chocolate.
6 pm – I head home, snack on chips and salsa, and we finally finish the stupid dresser. It looks really nice, honestly.
8 pm – We make lemon ricotta pasta with spinach for dinner and open a bottle of sauvignon blanc with it. My pro tip for wine is to do a bunch of those online wine subscriptions and trials, which will usually give huge discounts on 6-12 bottles for first timers, or periodic big sales if you stay on their email lists. We still don’t have a couch, lol, so we chill on our armchairs afterward watching SNL clips and eating thin mints.
10 pm – We have to rearrange our bed and nightstands a little to put the dresser where we want it. We put in the drawers and breathe a big sigh of relief.
11:30 – I shower, decompress (scroll), and go to bed at 1 am.
Total: $21
Day 5 – Tuesday
8:30 am – Wake up. I usually work from home Tuesdays and I don’t feel great, so I sleep until 9. I check my emails in bed and see that my new credit card is on its way.
10 am – I get up and get ready. The building’s maintenance guy stops by to change a couple lightbulbs for us (they’re built into the very tall ceilings). I make some loose leaf tea on the stove with fresh ginger to hopefully help my feel better, along with frozen waffles and an orange.
2 pm – I text my team to let them know I’m not feeling great, just in case I have to miss a work event tonight. I take a COVID test, which is negative. I look at my bank accounts and see that CD interest rates are crazy right now. I transfer $1K to my HYSA then make a second CD, which is a 14mo term at 5% APY! I transfer $10K directly into it from the HYSA.
4 pm – I re-steep the tea leaves and ginger for more tea. I used up my little pouch of loose leaf tea, so I find a nice bag of assam tea on Amazon and set up a subscription with the first delivery schedule for my next subscribe and save day in May. It’s a 1lb bag for $18, but I won’t get charged until it ships.
5 pm – I’m feeling okay, so I mask up, pack some tea and water, and leave for the work event. It’s hosted by an organization we work with and targeted toward patients. There’s been an issue with the turnstile at my station accepting Metrocard swipes lately (it doesn’t let me through, and then when I try again it says just used). I have to pay with my phone ($2.75). I swing by work to change into nicer shoes and get some supplies, then walk over with my coworker. The event venue is gorgeous with great views, and I have some hors d'oeuvres and a small glass of wine.
8:30 – I get home and realize that I left my rings in the bathroom right before leaving, since I took them off to wash my hands. UGH. I leave a voicemail with the venue. I am unfortunately starting to feel much worse now. I shower, watch an episode of New Amsterdam in bed with T., and celebrate the election victories in Wisconsin and Chicago.
11:45 – bed!
Total: $2.75
Day 6 – Wednesday
8:25 am – I wake up and still don’t feel great. It’s super gross outside – gloomy and drizzly. I decide to go to the venue to see if anyone found my jewelry. The janitor remembers me and says he’ll check the lost and found, and gives me the manager’s number. Of course, just as I get back to my office, I get a call back that they have my rings. I finish my granola bar, walk back and forth again, and finally settle in for the day.
11 am – I have the usual tea and yogurt, and update the database for one of our genetic testing studies. I make more tea (an herbal mandarin ginger), and write some patient result letters. I am exhausted! I organize my to-do list.
2:45 pm – I never ate lunch, so I order a tomato soup from Panera with a baguette and walk over to pick it up ($9.50). It doesn’t come with croutons, which is very sad, so I fill out a customer complaint form in hopes of a credit or refund. I do more random patient and administrative things.
5:30 – I order dishwasher pods and mascara on Amazon. My current one is pretty dried out, and I’m money diary-influenced to try the very cheap Essence mascara! Total is $28.60, but T. will cover $11.60 for half of the dish pods ($17). I drop off a patient letter in the mailbox nearby and go home.
6:30 – I snack on Trader Joe's takis and an orange and chat/chill with T. I also order more dish soap on Amazon ($7.40, $3.70 my half). We do Indian food for dinner. I make an eggplant curry with red onion and tomato, jazz up TJs frozen chana masala with some fresh ginger and onion, top everything with fresh cilantro, and eat with frozen garlic naan. We watch New Amsterdam again, I shower, and honestly no idea when I go to bed.
Total: $30.20
Day 7 – Thursday
9 am – I STILL don’t feel well so I text my team that I’ll be working from home. Do the usual email check from bed.
10 am – Similar breakfast to Tuesday: more ginger tea, this time with tea bags, waffles, an orange, and hash browns. I don’t have much work today, so I spend some time looking up couches because we really need one.
2 pm – I finish the lemon ricotta pasta. This fatigue is really getting to me.
6 pm – T. gets home, and because he is a wonderful person, he volunteers to make dinner while I rest. He does one of our easy go-to meals, pasta with tomato sauce and oven-roasted chickpeas. Pasta twice in one day? Oops.
8:45 – I get an email from Panera apologizing for their mistake and giving me a $10 credit! Free/cheap lunch for future me. T. looks at the couch options I found, I get some advice from my family, and we decide to make an in person appointment at a furniture store for after work tomorrow. I set my alarm so I can get to a dermatology appointment in the morning, and go to bed at midnight.
Total: $0
WEEKLY TOTAL (most things rounded): $227
Food + Drink: $147.50
Fun / Entertainment:
Home + Health: $56.70
Clothes + Beauty: $15
Transport: $2.75
Other: $5
Overall, this was a pretty typical spending week for me. Most of my money probably goes toward food, but I’ve had a lot of miscellaneous home expenses while settling into the new apartment. I didn’t make any big one-off purchases this week like plane tickets or furniture, but those have been happening a lot recently (we bought a couch the day after my money diary ended).
The fire and subsequent move-out, storage of things, subletting, and new apartment took a big chunk out of our savings at a time when we were hoping to start planning for big life things so we are trying to be pretty frugal for now until things balance back out.
I also would like to stop ordering so many packages from Amazon, because it feels wasteful, but I think those will definitely slow down eventually. The subscribe and save feature is good for saving packaging and keeping stocked on essentials.
Side note, definitely need to get my sleep schedule to a more healthy place. I tend to need my chill time/mindless scroll time at night, but need to start winding down earlier! Thank you for reading :)
submitted by bklyngal19 to MoneyDiariesACTIVE [link] [comments]

2023.04.10 06:40 Fragrantes-135 trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng

trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng
Website https: //apkmody. info là một kho game giúp người dùng tránh các khoản phí để có những trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng hơn, cài đặt nhanh hơn và không cần bẻ khóa…
Về phần chất lượng của website https://apkmody.info xác định sẽ là một sân chơi miễn phí an toàn tuyệt đối cho người dùng điện thoại Android và iPhone. Ngoài tốc độ hoạt động hơn thì việc luôn đảm bảo không có file độc hại gây ảnh hưởng hay đánh cắp thông tin người dùng như những đồn đoán đã tạo được niềm tín đến rất nhiều người dùng.
Khi bạn truy cập https: //apkmody. info sẽ dễ dàng tìm kiếm các file APK (game hoặc ứng dụng) đã được mod hoặc hack giúp người dùng tải về cài đặt miễn phí cũng như các trò chơi và ứng dụng APK gốc miễn phí.

Về phần các tính năng của https: //apkmody. info thì được tích hợp rất nhiều, có thể chọn mục tìm kiếm rồi nhập chính xác từ khóa hoặc cũng có thể tham khảo mục game hay ứng dụng nổi bật trên trang chủ.
Những ưu điểm nổi bật của https: //apkmody. info
Có nhiều trò chơi, nhiều ứng dụng hay và thường được sử dụng miễn phí.
Giúp bẻ khóa chức năng trả phí nên người chơi có thể cài đặt trải nghiệm game dễ dàng không cần bất kỳ chi phí nào.
Có nhiều loại game mới, hấp dẫn trên website để người chơi dễ dàng lựa chọn.
Ngăn chặn các quảng cáo của nhà phát hành trò chơi, ứng dụng cực kỳ hiệu quả
Bạn có thể sử dụng các file APK sẽ nhẹ hơn và được tối ưu hóa nhiều thứ hơn.
Giao diện dễ sử dụng các mục rõ ràng
Tại website https: //apkmody. info các trò chơi, ứng dụng sẽ được chia sẻ theo nhiều mục khác nhau nhằm giúp người chơi dễ dàng tìm hiểu:
Mục trò chơi, ứng dụng tải nhiều hôm nay theo yêu cầu số đông người dùng, tại đây sẽ có các file mod mà người dùng yêu cầu và các model sử dụng rồi chia sẻ ở mục này.
Mục chia sẻ các ứng dụng nổi bật nhất được đánh giá cao nhất, anh em có thể vào đây để khám phá.
Mục mới phát hành giúp người chơi dễ dàng tìm kiếm những App Mod mới ra, không tốn thời gian chi phí.
Mục đề xuất đa dạng dành cho những bạn chưa xác định trải nghiệm trò chơi, ứng dụng nào.
Trò chơi & ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất
Lightning Jackpot
Spades Plus – Card
Sid Eternal
Texas Holdem Poker
Poker Texas Holdem
VIP Deluxe Slots
Russian Lotto online
POP Big2 — Capsa
Con đầu đàn bắn cá
Busidol Game World
Injustice 2
Jurassic Monster World
Wordington: Word
Crostic – Puzzle Word
Ryahs Rhythm: Word
Game Triệu Phú Kinh
Super Brain – Đố vui
euro xe buýt xe khách
Touchgrind BMX 2
8 quả bóng – Trò chơi
Parkour Race
Toca Wednesday
Trò chơi & ứng dụng trả tiền mới nhất
Crosswords Word
Codewords Paid
Kingdom: New Lands
G30 – A Memory Maze
FreeCell Solitaire: Premium
Alien Watch
Passepartout: Starving Artist
Flamebait Games
Purrfect Apocalypse
VoC: The Beasts of Burden
Trò chơi miễn phí mới nhất
Lightning Jackpot
Spades Plus – Card Game
Sid Eternal
Leaf Contents Alliance, Corp.
Texas Holdem Poker Pro
Poker Texas Holdem
VIP Deluxe Slots Games Offline
SLOTS! Casino Slot Machines by Super Lucky Casino
Russian Lotto online
Skill Cap Games
Pocket Chess – Chess Puzzles
Crunchy Avocado Chips
ChessKid – Chơi & Học hỏi
POP Big2 — Capsa Banting poker
Hãy truy cập ngay https: //apkmody. info để trải nghiệm những trò chơi, những ứng dụng bạn yêu thích nhé! Cùng thư giãn, thoải mái, và trải nghiệm miễn phí hấp dẫn với hàng ngàn trò chơi, ứng dụng hay nhất hiện nay.
submitted by Fragrantes-135 to u/Fragrantes-135 [link] [comments]

2023.04.09 16:32 lazynope7876 kho game giống như CH Play

kho game giống như CH Play
Website https ://apkmody. info là một kho game giống như CH Play Android hoặc App Store của iSO vậy, có thể nói giống như một ứng dụng bên thứ ba. Website APKmody là viết tắt của từ modified apk, nghĩa là các file cài đặt sẽ được tinh chỉnh nhằm phù hợp hoặc hỗ trợ cài đặt trên nhiều thiết bị hơn nhưng không làm thay đổi bản chất vốn có. Đặc biệt, việc chỉnh sửa này đa phần là giúp người dùng tránh các khoản phí để có những trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng hơn, hoặc là mod làm sao để có thể cài đặt nhanh hơn và không cần bẻ khóa… Về phần chất lượng của website https://apkmody.info xác định sẽ là một sân chơi miễn phí an toàn tuyệt đối cho người dùng điện thoại Android và iPhone. Ngoài tốc độ hoạt động hơn thì việc luôn đảm bảo không có file độc hại gây ảnh hưởng hay đánh cắp thông tin người dùng như những đồn đoán đã tạo được niềm tín đến rất nhiều người dùng. Khi bạn truy cập https: //apkmody. info sẽ dễ dàng tìm kiếm các file APK (game hoặc ứng dụng) đã được mod hoặc hack giúp người dùng tải về cài đặt miễn phí cũng như các trò chơi và ứng dụng APK gốc miễn phí. Về phần các tính năng của https: //apkmody. info thì được tích hợp rất nhiều, có thể chọn mục tìm kiếm rồi nhập chính xác từ khóa hoặc cũng có thể tham khảo mục game hay ứng dụng nổi bật trên trang chủ. Hãy cùng tham khảo một số trò chơi và ứng dụng tại website https: //apkmody. info nhé!
Trò chơi & ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất Lightning Jackpot Spades Plus - Card Sid Eternal Texas Holdem Poker Poker Texas Holdem VIP Deluxe Slots Russian Lotto online ChessKid POP Big2 — Capsa Con đầu đàn bắn cá Busidol Game World Injustice 2 Jurassic Monster World Wordington: Word Crostic - Puzzle Word Ryahs Rhythm: Word Game Triệu Phú Kinh Super Brain - Đố vui euro xe buýt xe khách Touchgrind BMX 2 8 quả bóng - Trò chơi Parkour Race Toca Wednesday Trò chơi & ứng dụng trả tiền mới nhất Crosswords Word Codewords Paid Kingdom: New Lands BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL G30 - A Memory Maze FreeCell Solitaire: Premium Alien Watch Passepartout: Starving Artist Flamebait Games Purrfect Apocalypse VoC: The Beasts of Burden Trò chơi miễn phí mới nhất Lightning Jackpot Spades Plus - Card Game Sid Eternal Leaf Contents Alliance, Corp. Texas Holdem Poker Pro Poker Texas Holdem VIP Deluxe Slots Games Offline SLOTS! Casino Slot Machines by Super Lucky Casino Russian Lotto online Skill Cap Games Pocket Chess – Chess Puzzles Crunchy Avocado Chips ChessKid - Chơi & Học hỏi POP Big2 — Capsa Banting poker
Những ưu điểm nổi bật của https: //apkmody. info Có nhiều trò chơi, nhiều ứng dụng hay và thường được sử dụng miễn phí. Giúp bẻ khóa chức năng trả phí nên người chơi có thể cài đặt trải nghiệm game dễ dàng không cần bất kỳ chi phí nào. Có nhiều loại game mới, hấp dẫn trên website để người chơi dễ dàng lựa chọn. Ngăn chặn các quảng cáo của nhà phát hành trò chơi, ứng dụng cực kỳ hiệu quả Bạn có thể sử dụng các file APK sẽ nhẹ hơn và được tối ưu hóa nhiều thứ hơn. Hãy truy cập ngay https: //apkmody. info để trải nghiệm những trò chơi, những ứng dụng bạn yêu thích nhé! Cùng thư giãn, thoải mái, và trải nghiệm miễn phí hấp dẫn với hàng ngàn trò chơi, ứng dụng hay nhất hiện nay.
submitted by lazynope7876 to u/lazynope7876 [link] [comments]

2023.04.08 16:03 dangtinden01 ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất

ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất
Hiện nay, có rất nhiều ứng dụng cho phép các bạn tha hồ tải game Mod và file Mod miễn phí, tiêu biểu là website https://apkmody.info. Đây là website được nhiều người yêu thích và phát triển bởi tập đoàn lớn. Website cung cấp một kho game và ứng dụng đã được chỉnh sửa giúp người dùng có thể trải nghiệm hoàn toàn miễn phí. Đặc biệt, khi tải Games và Apps trên https: //apkmody. info sẽ luôn đảm bảo về mức độ an toàn và chưa thấy người dùng qua phàn nàn về việc ứng dụng này gây hại hay là dấu hiệu lừa đảo cả. Nếu bạn thật sự chưa an tầm về website https: //apkmody. info thì hãy tham khảo bài viết dưới đây nhé, Hãy tham khảo những thông tin cần thiết về nền tảng này và những đánh giá về mức độ an toàn của nó khi download game và ứng dụng premium ngay nhé! Trò chơi & ứng dụng miễn phí mới nhất Lightning Jackpot Spades Plus - Card Sid Eternal Texas Holdem Poker Poker Texas Holdem VIP Deluxe Slots Russian Lotto online ChessKid POP Big2 — Capsa Con đầu đàn bắn cá Busidol Game World Injustice 2 Jurassic Monster World Wordington: Word Crostic - Puzzle Word Ryahs Rhythm: Word Game Triệu Phú Kinh Super Brain - Đố vui euro xe buýt xe khách Touchgrind BMX 2 8 quả bóng - Trò chơi Parkour Race Toca Wednesday Trò chơi & ứng dụng trả tiền mới nhất Crosswords Word Codewords Paid Kingdom: New Lands BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL G30 - A Memory Maze FreeCell Solitaire: Premium Alien Watch Passepartout: Starving Artist Flamebait Games Purrfect Apocalypse VoC: The Beasts of Burden
Trò chơi miễn phí mới nhất Lightning Jackpot Spades Plus - Card Game Sid Eternal Leaf Contents Alliance, Corp. Texas Holdem Poker Pro Poker Texas Holdem VIP Deluxe Slots Games Offline SLOTS! Casino Slot Machines by Super Lucky Casino Russian Lotto online Skill Cap Games Pocket Chess – Chess Puzzles Crunchy Avocado Chips ChessKid - Chơi & Học hỏi POP Big2 — Capsa Banting poker Một chút về https: //apkmody. info Website https: //apkmody. info là một kho game giống như CH Play Android hoặc App Store của iSO vậy, có thể nói giống như một ứng dụng bên thứ ba. Website APKmody là viết tắt của từ modified apk, nghĩa là các file cài đặt sẽ được tinh chỉnh nhằm phù hợp hoặc hỗ trợ cài đặt trên nhiều thiết bị hơn nhưng không làm thay đổi bản chất vốn có. Đặc biệt, việc chỉnh sửa này đa phần là giúp người dùng tránh các khoản phí để có những trải nghiệm sử dụng dễ dàng hơn, hoặc là mod làm sao để có thể cài đặt nhanh hơn và không cần bẻ khóa… Về phần chất lượng của website https: //apkmody. info xác định sẽ là một sân chơi miễn phí an toàn tuyệt đối cho người dùng điện thoại Android và iPhone. Ngoài tốc độ hoạt động hơn thì việc luôn đảm bảo không có file độc hại gây ảnh hưởng hay đánh cắp thông tin người dùng như những đồn đoán đã tạo được niềm tín đến rất nhiều người dùng.
Khi bạn truy cập https: //apkmody. info sẽ dễ dàng tìm kiếm các file APK (game hoặc ứng dụng) đã được mod hoặc hack giúp người dùng tải về cài đặt miễn phí cũng như các trò chơi và ứng dụng APK gốc miễn phí. Về phần các tính năng của https: //apkmody. info thì được tích hợp rất nhiều, có thể chọn mục tìm kiếm rồi nhập chính xác từ khóa hoặc cũng có thể tham khảo mục game hay ứng dụng nổi bật trên trang chủ.
submitted by dangtinden01 to u/dangtinden01 [link] [comments]

2023.02.22 23:09 BrainstormBot ⟳ 3 apps added, 41 updated at f-droid.org

⟳ f-droid.org from Tue, 21 Feb 2023 07:10:25 GMT updated on Wed, 22 Feb 2023 22:02:17 GMT contains 4062 apps.
Added (3)
Updated (41)
submitted by BrainstormBot to FDroidUpdates [link] [comments]

2023.02.10 21:24 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 55]

My right hand twitched.
My sword was on the tip of my tongue.
If not for my brief hesitation, everyone standing near me would have been massacred in a matter of seconds. Within that minuscule moment, however, the warden appeared next to me holding a canteen.
"Thought you'd get away with hiding this extra canteen?" she asked.
I turned my head ever so slowly to see her holding the empty container in her hand. My eyes darted up to hers and the two of us shared a moment. It was a moment very different for her than it was for me. She reveled in her cleverness; a prisoner thought he would get away with a crime on her watch. As for me, I stood stopped in time. Images flashed before my eyes of what would have happened had she waited just one second longer to chastise me.
Her eyes bulging, her throat opened; three guards severed by wind magic, holding their entrails in their hands as they screamed; a trail of blood leading into the darkness and disappearing at the far gate. I heard the sounds of crossbow bolts whizzing into the night, gnashing dogs, and screaming patrolmen as I slowly drifted back down to reality, and remembered to answer her.
"I... I forgot to turn it in," I said softly as I averted my gaze. "I planned on handing it to Officer Lewis in the morning."
"Uh-huh," she said as she turned back to her men. "Go back to the first bunk and search the way I showed you this time. Come on," she said as she marched away.
I slowly turned around and looked at the hay scattered around my bunk. They hadn't missed the tome– it just wasn't there at all. I stared at the hay strewn about and tried to make sense of it. No matter which way I sliced it, I was completely miffed. The only thing I could think was that one of the guards had found it and stashed it. But why would they do such a thing? Certainly not to protect me. Maybe they had it in for another prisoner and planned on planting it in another bunk.
My mind swirled as the guards continued their inspection. We were up late standing in the cold at attention as the search expanded into the other bunks, and eventually into the mines. I knew what was coming down the pipes, I just didn't know how it was going to shake out in the end. I could hear the guard we'd attacked getting chewed out by Officer Lewis somewhere behind my bunk.
"So, what we have here now, is that you were attacked by ice in the winter, and nobody saw a damn thing but you."
"I swear! Two prisoners! One of them had a book, h-he cast a spell to make the ground icy, you gotta believe me."
"Cast a spell to make the ground icy," Lewis repeated flatly. "Are you hearing yourself right now? How did nobody see anything, huh?"
"Well, everyone was sleeping, Officer," he contended.
"Oh, because people fall asleep the moment their head touches the hay?"
"... When you work 'em like we do... Yeah, they do."
"... Fair point," Lewis conceded after a brief pause. "Still, this doesn't look good, Larry."
"Warden Skully!" came a call from the distance. "He's dead! Hammer's dead! He's in the mine!"
That was the end of decorum. The prisoners began murmuring around the camp as guards scrambled to maintain order. Skully was on the warpath. I heard at least two guards get fired, and several received reprimands. We were ordered to clean up our bunks and go to sleep, but I was wired; we all were. Something had changed the entire trajectory of the night, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what. How could a tome simply disappear like that? Was Hahnahkordia real, and watching over me? I had come to face to face with Eluviel– clearly, gods existed. Could they also have favorites?
Whatever had happened, regardless of who'd helped me, not knowing where my tome was terrified me. If it was in someone's possession, there'd be trouble; my name was written in ink behind the cover. I decided it was too risky to leave it to fate, and pulled my pickaxe out of its cubby. After the guard would pass, I would get to work digging a hole inside my bunk. Whenever I noticed the guard's headlamp illuminating the path outside, I would quickly get back under my hay and pretend I was asleep. I repeated this process until I had a decently sized hole, and summoned my tome back to my hand. I set the book down into the hole and gingerly pushed the dirt overtop of it before packing it tight. Thankfully, it didn't appear to be noticeably different from the dirt that surrounded it.
I felt better about knowing where my tome was, but I still laid awake all night thinking about it. It was an honest to gods miracle that I had witnessed. I didn't sleep a wink before the sky brightened and the whistle blew. I heaved a heavy sigh and began to gather my things when a tall figure appeared in front of my bunk. I lifted my eyes to find Officer Bradley standing over me. I quickly stood up, "Y-yessir?"
"Warden wants to see you," he said simply. "You look like crap, there. You're not sleeping?"
"Just tired in general sir," I replied.
"Well, how's about a little break today, eh?" he said with a smile and waved me forward. "Come on, follow me."
I followed closely behind him as the other prisoners appeared outside of their bunks, watching us as we walked. I avoided eye contact as they started hollering at me.
"Oooh, what did you do, Fish?"
"They got Fish!"
"Did Fish kill Hammer?"
I left the noise far behind me as we proceeded up the hill and toward the warden's tower. My spirits lifted. I hadn't been inside the warden's tower before, but I knew for a fact that it would be where the information I needed would be kept. Records, maps, names, the whole nine yards. I paid close attention as we made our way up to the tower. Officer Bradley opened a gate and stepped onto a platform, beckoning me forward. I stepped onto the platform with him and it wobbled as though it weren't fastened to anything. He pressed a button on a control panel and the platform lurched. I nearly fell over and Bradley caught me by the sleeve.
"Careful, there."
"Y-yeah," I said quickly as we lifted up off the ground. I looked around as the ground grew further away, and I observed the intricate pully system that carried us into the sky.
"You're always looking at stuff," Bradley commented. "Always lookey-loo with you," he rhymed with a self-satisfied chuckle.
I laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, I guess I just like knowing how stuff works."
"You'd make a good engineer," he nodded at me. "Too bad you were sold to a camp like this eh? Y'know a lot of folks around here," he looked out over the camp. "They got nothing going on in their noggin, there. But you're a bright one. Can tell just by looking at you the way you observe things the way you do."
I remained silent as the lift stopped at the top with a snap and a click. He opened the gate and waited for me to exit first before he closed it behind us and directed me to a doorway. "Hopefully you observed something that'll help the old bat crack this case. Boy, is she pissed." I didn't get a chance to ask him what he meant before the door to the warden's tower was wrenched open.
Warden Skully stood in the doorway, a scowl on her face, and a white stick in her mouth that smoldered at the tip. From the way she was staring at me, I feared that she had truly found something incriminating.
x - - x - - x - - ★ - - x - - x - - x
I sat patiently on the wooden bench in her office as she leafed through some papers on her desk. Officer Bradly stood quietly outside the door, crossbow in hand as he overlooked the camp. I looked around the room, taking in as much information as I could. On the wall was a map of the region, covering a decent chunk of the empire west of the Galgian border. I followed the main road with my eyes up to a mine labeled Corrick Mine. Judging by its position in reference to the mountains, I figured that had to be where we were working. I followed along the road to a nearby settlement called Binnacle Village. If we left in the dead of night, we'd make it there by morning, granted we kept a steady pace.
"What are you looking at?" Skully called from her desk.
I snapped my head forward, "N-nothing, Warden Skully. Just... looking around the room."
"Well, don't," she said, staring at me above her reading glasses.
I closed my eyes and sat with my hands in my lap making not a sound as I listened to her rustle through her papers. After a few minutes, I heard her stand up and I opened my eyes to find her moving around the side of her desk. She stopped in front of it and leaned against it with her arms folded. She stared at me for several seconds before beginning.
"How'd you do it?" she asked, lifting an eyebrow and staring down her nose at me.
I paused before answering. "Do... what, Warden Skully?"
"You know what," she insisted. "If you tell me now, I'll go easy on you."
I had almost fallen for this tactic once before when the headmasters tried it. I wasn't even rattled; if she had anything on me, this discussion wouldn't be happening. What I needed to know was how she had linked this to me. They didn't have inquisitors here in the Diesel. Prisoners talked to one another, and there would be no way to keep them from warning one another about this ruse once if failed the first time. So she had to have picked me specifically.
"I suspect... you must think I attacked that guard?" I asked.
"No," she unfolded her arms and dropped them down her desk, adopting a more angular lean. "Alfred slipped on the ice and made a scene. There was no attack," she lifted her hands and assigned air quotes to the word attack. "As if mages could infiltrate my camp," she scoffed. "This place is a fortress. No way in or out– not unless you can fly."
"Then," I shifted my eyes left. "You suspect that I killed Hammer?"
"I don't suspect it," she shot back. "I know it. And you're going to tell me how you did it."
I swallowed. "Ma'am, I-"
"Don't play dumb," she interrupted, taking a step forward. "You two had beef. He kicked your ass and you wanted revenge. You killed him somehow; hid his body in the mine. I'm asking how you did it."
She had nothing. I would give her nothing.
I shrugged, "Warden, I don't know how to tell you this, but Hammer was a really, really big guy. I fantasized about it, sure, but I'm small. Way too small to handle a guy like that."
"That's what you want us to think," she tapped her temple. "But we're on to you. You see, we asked around the camp about where Hammer was last seen. You want to know where he was last seen?"
We held eye contact until she answered.
"He was last seen following you into the mine," she said finally.
That was bad news. I maintained my poker face.
"By who?" I asked.
"Don't matter who," her face twisted up. "And watch the way you fucking talk to me."
"Yes, Warden," I responded softly. "My apologies, Warden."
She sighed and shook her head. "Gill? I'm going to give you one last chance to be honest with me. If you tell me something I don't like, I'm going to have you whipped until the day is done, you understand me?"
I felt my heart start thumping. This was really bad. She wasn't letting up. She knew something, but what? What could she have found? I started to wonder if I should just make something up– to snitch on someone, anyone.
"How did you kill Hammer?" she asked.
I closed my eyes and let out the breath I'd been holding. "... I did not kill Hammer," I said in a defeated tone. "And I don't know who did."
She stood there for several seconds before moving for the window. She placed her hands behind her back and surveyed the camp silently for several seconds.
"I'm sorry," I spoke again. "If I really did know something, I would tell you all about it. I have no loyalty to the people in this camp. If I had someone to sell out, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I don't. I don't know anything at all about what happened the other night. I don't know who killed Hammer, but... I'd be lying if I told you I was sad about it."
She turned and eyed me.
"I'm not upset about it," I said again firmly. "I'm only sad I'll never get the chance to do it myself."
I half meant it.
"Stop your yammering," she said in a somber tone. "We know you didn't kill him."
My body lightened a hundred pounds when she said it. I allowed my head to bob forward and rested my hands on my knees.
"Hammer was found... deep in the mine," she continued. "His body was so mangled. It was like he'd been hit by a truck carrying bricks. Then dragged for a few miles," she added.
I didn't know what a truck was, but I knew better than to ask. Whatever it was, it had to be a beastly Diesel machine to pack the kind of punch Tovin could.
"I was hoping you knew something," she went on. "One prisoner said you were up in the mine, but I couldn't get anyone else to corroborate that story. At this point, I'm just in awe. Whatever got to him turned him into a bloody sack of broken bones. I want more than anything to think it was another man what got him, but," she sighed. " I'm thinking I need to make a phone call to the capital now."
A fonekall to the capital? I had to assume, through context clues, that it was a Diesel word for pilgrimage or journey. It still didn't make any sense to me in that context. Why would this incident require her specifically to leave the camp? Was this more serious than I thought it was?
"Alright, then," she said before knocking twice on the window. "Dismissed."
Officer Bradley opened the door and stepped inside. "We all done in here?"
"Yeah, we're done," she murmured. "Get him on back to work."
He nodded toward the door and I left the room. I wasn't leaving empty-handed though. The map on the wall gave me a decent sense of direction, and I also noticed that her cabinets didn't have any locks on them. On top of all of that, I knew how to operate the lift now. In one trip to her office, I managed to eliminate several x-factors that I had been worrying about. The idea of getting the information I needed and escaping the camp was shaping up to be a real possibility in my mind rather than just a hope and a plan. Officer Bradley came with me to gather my things and then escorted me to the mine.
"Hey," he called to me, just short of the entrance.
I turned around and he tossed me a canteen. I caught it; it was heavy.
"Take that with you, there," he grinned. "And don't tell nobody I did that, eh? I sure am glad you weren't involved in any of that Hammer business. Keep your nose clean. Big boss is coming soon, and ol' Skully will be all stick and no carrot if you know what I mean." He tipped his hat and left back to the offices.
I had no idea what he meant.
I was thankful for the canteen though, and I got the gist of what he was saying. I had only narrowly avoided the warden's wrath, and with Hammer out of the picture, I had a lot less to worry about at camp. It was hard to feel positive as I swung my pickaxe. Each swing caused the spot under my ribs where Hammer had struck me to surge with pain. My temple throbbed when I chewed my piece of stale bread for lunch. I was dead tired from not having slept the night before, and I had given my body no real chance to heal its injuries. That night, while I was washing up, Tovin appeared next to me.
"Hey," he said quietly.
"What's up."
"How was it?" he asked.
"Easy. We're in the clear," I whispered.
He sighed with relief. "That was a dangerous situation."
"I can still feel the situation all over my body," I joked. "Hey, if I never said thank you," I stood up straight and stared at him. "Thanks, Tovin. You really saved me, y'know? I think he was gonna kill me."
He averted his eyes and folded his arms. "Yeah, yeah. I'm still in pain from that stupid tattoo they put on the back of my neck. Can't imagine how you must be feeling right now."
Everyone at the camp had a number forcefully tattooed on the back of their neck. It was done really unprofessionally, and the sloppy hand of the tattooist often drove the needle deeper than need be. It caused me a headache that lasted my entire first week. Tovin's was fresh, and it explained why he kept closing his eyes tightly at random intervals.
"I knew deep down it was a really bad decision to step in," he went on. "I saw him beating on you like that, and I don't know. My body just moved. I still don't fully understand it."
"What?" I asked as I dumped my bath water out of the bucket and placed my sponge inside. "What do you mean you don't understand it?"
"I said I don't know," he responded in an aggravated tone. "Something about the situation didn't seem right to me. It was like I was watching a professional soldier with his hands tied getting beaten up by an idiot." He turned and met my gaze. "Like you were holding back or something. It just didn't seem fair to me and I can't understand why I felt that way. Clearly, he was the stronger person, so..." he trailed off. "Look, we're done talking about it, alright? Did you learn anything while you were up there? Anything that can help us?"
It was incredible that his old self was bleeding through his brainwashing. He didn't know it, but he was actually angry seeing a Galgian mage getting thrashed by a Diesel brute. He was so damn patriotic that even Huede couldn't fully erase it. His pride in his country was literally baked into his being.
"Yeah," I answered him. "I learned some good stuff. Don't worry about that. I just need you to be ready to move when I wake you up."
"No need to worry about me. Just make sure your plan goes better than your last one."
"It did work though," I smiled coyly.
"That doesn't give me any confidence," he grumbled as he made his way to his bunk. "Sooner than later please," he called back to me. "Blisters hurt. Back's killing me."
It wasn't like I wanted to be in a prison camp any more than he did. We only had one shot at freedom though. I wasn't about to piss it away because I couldn't be patient. That night I slept like a log. I didn't know if it was just because I had missed a night of sleep, or if it was because I wasn't anxious about the Hammer situation anymore. But I apparently slept through a loud engine, the main gate opening, and many other things the prisoners were complaining about in the early hours of the morning after the whistle blew.
There was a larger-than-average vehicle parked outside the gate. It had what appeared to be a giant ballista mounted to the top, as well as a large metallic piece on the front with blades sticking straight out. I stepped out of my bunk and found a bunch of men in uniform leaving the camp. They were dressed in dark clothes with gleaming black boots, white gloves, belts, and hats. They marched in unison some carrying crossbows, some armed with long silver tubes that widened at the ends with shining wooden finishes. All of them had a saber hanging from their hip, and a shorter knife just behind it.
"Those people are armed to the teeth," commented one of the prisoners a few bunks down. "What are they doing here?"
"They look like government officials," responded another. "Maybe they were here to investigate what happened to Hammer?"
"Nobody cares what happens to us man," he shot back. "Least of all the empress. You're dreaming."
I watched them file out of the camp and get into their vehicle one by one. A tall man with a big scar on his cheek followed behind them all. The scabbard on his hip was gilded at the tip and there was a jewel on the sword's pommel. He had some kind of satchel slung over his shoulder resting against his opposite hip, and he stopped to have a word with Officer Lewis who was waiting outside the gate. After the two of them exchanged words, they shook hands, and the crew departed. As we watched them leave, Lewis approached us all screaming his head off about all of us gawking.
It felt like every guard on the payroll was breathing down our necks throughout the day as we worked. I couldn't help but wonder all day about the uniformed men. They had been walking from the direction of the mine, not the office buildings or the warden's tower. I also had no explanation for why they were so heavily armed. They looked like they had prepared for war. I hadn't been afforded a single opportunity to speak privately with Tovin until we were washing off at the end of the day. He appeared around the same time he always had– right when I was finishing washing my feet.
"Hey," he greeted me.
"You're really fast at bathing," I said as I scrubbed between my toes.
"I prefer the word efficient," he shot back. "Did you see those men in uniform this morning?"
"With the white gloves and hats?" I looked up at him, "Yeah, I saw 'em. They were leaving camp really early this morning."
He folded his arms and shifted his weight to one side, "Tch. You slept through all the racket they made when they got here? Must be nice. Anyways, I was wondering if you could tell me about them."
"I was hoping you could tell me something," I said as I scrubbed my heels.
"You either huh? Yeah, nobody seems to know anything at all about them," he said. "I thought they were with the fancy-looking guy with the fur around his neck."
I stopped scrubbing and turned my full attention to him. "The who, now?"
"Him," he thumbed up at the warden's tower. I looked over his shoulder up at the tower to find Warden Skully standing next to a tall man in expensive clothes with a brown fur scarf wrapped loosely around his neck. He leaned forward on a fancy cane and surveyed the camp through round black sunglasses. His teeth were so white I could see them through his wide smile all the way from where I was sitting.
It was him. Mortimer, the man Skully herself reported to. He was the head honcho she'd beefed up security for. And that meant that tonight, the guard would be halved. It had happened so much sooner than I imagined it would.
"Gill," Tovin said, stepping in front of me and breaking my line of sight to Mortimer. "You're staring. C'mon, try not to be so obvious."
"R-Right," I said, going back to scrubbing my feet.
"Is everything alright?" he asked.
"Yeah," I answered quickly. "More than alright, in fact." I wrung out my sponge and dumped the water out of my bucket. "Let me ask you a question."
"A question?" he asked. "Sure."
"Are you prepared to leave tonight?"
His mouth opened and he lifted his eyebrows in surprise. "Tonight? Really? I mean, I don't know, security is really bad right now," he said, looking around the camp. "Are you certain that's wise?"
"He isn't going to stay the night," I said, looking up at the warden's tower again. "Tonight, he's leaving. And when he does, Skully is going to slash security down to a skeleton crew. She herself might even be leaving to make a fonekall to the capital."
"A what?" he asked, his face wrinkling up in confusion. "Wait, how do you know all of this?"
"I overheard her having a conversation with Officer Lewis. Just trust me on this. An hour after lights out, I want you to sneak down to my bunk," I said as I picked up my things. "It's really simple. All you'll have to do is stick close to me and do as I say. We'll be long gone before they ever even realize we're missing."
"How are you so sure he's going to leave tonight? How do you know for certain that's the guy she was talking about? There are too many holes in this plan, Gill, this isn't a good idea."
"It's the only shot we're gonna have, Tovin, like it or not. And besides, look how giddy she's acting around him," I said, nodding toward the tower with my head. He turned to see her talking real animated with her hands and cackling so loudly we could hear her over the general murmur of the prisoners. "That's the guy. You just have to trust me. I'll be watching closely to see if he leaves. When you get to my bunk tonight, I'll let you know if we need to stay here another night."
He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck anxiously. "Dammit, alright. I hope you know what you're doing."
I didn't– not entirely. I went over contingencies in my head as I sat in my bunk waiting for the lights to go out. I was trying to come up with a plan for each juncture where we risked getting caught. In the end, if we could make it to the top of the warden's tower without being noticed, we were in good shape. I had some preparation to do first. As the lights popped off one after the other, and the prisoners settled into their bunks, I got to work on my shirt. I pulled it off over my head and tore it the way Gerrard had taught me.
“Momma had three of us at the same time,” he said as he worked. “Triplets run in our family. Her momma taught her how to make one of these, and she taught us how to make them too. It's how you carry three babies with only two arms.”
It had worked flawlessly that day. I had zipped around the hymnasium ducking under dodgeballs, flipping around, and zigzagging at ridiculous speeds. Even through all of that, the tome hadn't so much as budged. After I finished getting my shirt tied up the right way, I slipped it back on. It slung over my shoulder and under my opposite arm like a sash and felt snug like it was supposed to. I waited for the lone guard to pass on his patrol before crawling over to the corner of my bunk to retrieve my tome. As soon as I pushed my fingers into the dirt to uncover the spellbook, the entire mound collapsed. I froze for a moment before feeling around inside the small crater.
The tome was gone.
My heart started thumping as I sat back on my knees and stared at the empty hole. Absolutely nobody had seen me bury it there. Furthermore, there was no conceivable way someone could have dug the tome out of the hole and then covered it up in such a way that the dirt held fast on the surface like that. Was someone messing with me on purpose? I didn't have time to think about it; a whisper came from the bunk next to mine.
I turned slowly to my left.
"Fiiiiish," came the whisper again. It was the prisoner next to me.
I swallowed and moved on my knees up to the wall that separated us. "... Yeah?"
"Good, you're up," he whispered back. "It's going down tonight, Fish."
"W-what do you mean?" I asked, a lump forming in my throat. "What do you mean it's going down?"
"Tonight, man. Someone saw almost all the guards leave the camp today while we were in the mine. Only like ten of 'em left here. We're all breaking out of here tonight. Pass it down to your neighbor."
Part 56
Writing Prompt Submitted by u/My-Last-Hope
submitted by a15minutestory to A15MinuteMythos [link] [comments]

2023.02.07 20:29 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 54]

The two of us hid behind what little foliage existed near the mines and watched from atop the hill as the other prisoners gathered their things and made their way to their bunks.
"Are you sure we should be hiding?" asked Tovin. "Doesn't that make us seem more suspicious? And when they find that thug's body..."
"No," I said as I watched the guards herding the prisoners. "If we're caught trying to sneak back into the crowd, they're going to know we were missing. When they find out what happened to Hammer, that'll make us prime suspects."
"You don't think they'll notice that we're missing now?" he asked.
"I don't think so. They do sweeps along the bunks, but they never really check under the hay. They just assume you're under there."
"Hammer was a big guy," Tovin countered. "You don't think they'll notice that?"
I didn't want to admit that I hadn't thought of that. Tovin was only just now starting to trust me– I didn't need him thinking I was some kind of idiot, or he'd never follow my lead.
"I already thought of that," I lied. "Hammer's bunk is in the third row of bunks. It'll take us maybe thirty seconds to run down that hill and get situated. It'll be like we were never gone by the time they notice he's missing."
"... So, you've been paying attention?" he asked. "To the guard rotations? The way things work around here?"
"From the moment I got here," I assured him. "After the lights shut off, you're going to see three prison guards making for the offices over there on the other side of camp. They'll be leaving one behind to walk the bunks."
"Walk the bunks?"
"It's what they call it," I shrugged. "One guy has to walk down the paths where all the prisoners are sleeping and keep an eye on things. He'll walk down the bunk in the first row, where you and I sleep. Then, he'll turn right there," I pointed to the juncture where the path elevated and winded around up the hill. "He'll walk down the second row of bunks, then make the same turn and walk the third row of bunks. His patrol route is a wide figure eight pattern."
''I see," he whispered. "So, when he makes that first turn..."
"That's right. We'll have all the cover we need to slip down the hill, around his back, and get into our bunks. We'll just have to be quick and quiet."
I heard him shuffling around behind me and turned to see him sitting down cross-legged. "Alright," he said after a moment of silence. "I'll follow you when you say the word." I nodded toward him and peered through the vegetation down the hill.
"In the meantime, though," he piped up. "I want you to answer a few questions for me."
"Sure," I said quickly as I monitored the camp. "Anything. Shoot."
"How is it possible to take someone's memories?" he asked.
"... Well," I shrugged. "Magic, I guess."
"I was aware that magic allowed one to bend the rules of reality," he responded. "But to think it could give one dominion over another's most personal thoughts and memories. That's a terrifying power for anyone to wield in their own self-interest."
"You're right," I said. "A hundred percent. But don't misunderstand," I turned to him. "There's only one mage we know of with that kind of power. It's not like we're all born with equal capabilities in Galgia."
"Is that right?" he asked. "Is this man the king?"
"No," I chuckled. "Galgia isn't a kingdom, it's a theocracy. We have a panel of high priests who control everything. That being said, there's a lot going on underneath their noses. They don't realize it yet, but the true rulers of Galgia are a trio of headmasters at Eye of Newt University."
"A trio of headmasters?" he asked. "Secretly ruling the country? Is that really possible?"
"I guess it would be wrong to say that they're ruling the country," I corrected myself. "But they wield power far beyond anything the high priests could comprehend. They control a deity known as Galgalim, Source of All."
"You're... you're joking," he marveled. "A god? I don't believe you. How?"
"I don't know how," I said quietly. "All I know is that they're using her."
"Eluviel," I answered. "That's her name. She's the many-eyed creature you harbor in your subconscious."
I heard him audibly gasp.
"Yeah," I affirmed, glancing back at him. "You've seen her. I knew you had."
He stared at the dirt in quiet contemplation. "How did you know?" he asked finally.
"You're bald, and you're here," I answered.
The lights around the camp began to shut off with a loud pop one by one. I watched closely for the departing guards; it wouldn't be long now.
"That... doesn't make any sense," he huffed. "I'm more confused now than I was before."
"I'm not going to have time to explain it to you now," I whispered. "Get ready for my signal at any moment."
I heard him shuffle to his feet behind me. I watched the camp closely. Three men armed with crossbows departed the camp right on cue, heading up the hill toward the office buildings. If there was one thing I could be sure of, it was that Skully ran her camp by the clock. I swallowed as I watched the beam from the guard's headlamp bounce down the walkway of the first bunks.
"He'll be making his turn in about fifteen seconds," I announced. "Get ready to run."
"I'm ready," he affirmed.
The moment the guard turned the corner, I waved Tovin forward and darted from the bushes. The two of us hurried down the hill as quietly as we were able. My adrenaline surged as I glanced up at the warden's tower– I could see Skully's silhouette as she moved around inside. I returned my focus to the path ahead. We made it down to the camp, and I held up a hand to signal for Tovin to stop at the second row of bunks. I peered around the corner to see the guard standing closer than I imagined he would be. He was about halfway down the path and appeared to be arguing with someone in their bunk.
"Let's go," I whispered.
The two of us hurried across the path and rounded the bend toward our bunks. Where we should have been home free, instead disaster struck. The two of us froze in place. A second guard was making his way down the path.
"You said there'd only be one," he hissed.
"I've never seen two of them on patrol!" I whispered back before the two of us retreated back behind cover. I'd forgotten that the warden asked for security to be beefed up until her boss came and left. How was I supposed to know that that would apply to the night guard too? Would he really visit the camp after working hours?
"What do we do?" he asked urgently.
"Working on it," I assured him as I sidled along the edge of the first bunk to steal a glance around the corner. If the guard had moved on already, we would be able to follow stealthily behind him and turn the corner back to our bunks. Running back up the hill wouldn't be an option, as he would surely notice Hammer was missing when he made his rounds through the third row of bunks. Following his path was our only option.
And it went up in flames the moment I poked my head out to see where he was. He was actually walking toward us for a reason I couldn't comprehend. Had he heard us? Had someone seen us and snitched? Whatever the case, this was bad.
"Gill?" Tovin whispered, panic in his tone as we watched the beams from the headlamps approaching from both sides.
"There it is," I heard the guard say from the other side. "Found it," he added as I watched his headlamp illuminate a canteen lying on the ground. Someone had dropped their canteen and had asked the guard as he was passing if he'd seen it. That explained why he was on his way back, but that knowledge did absolutely nothing for our current situation. The two of them would meet at the end of the pathways and Tovin and I would be sandwiched right between them.
I looked to my right and watched as the light grew in intensity. The guard patrolling the first bunks would be turning the corner any second. I looked left and gathered that the guard patrolling the second row of bunks was about fifteen seconds behind his partner.
"Tovin," I whispered quickly. "When I do it... run for your bunk."
He stared at me wide-eyed, the whites of his eyes glowing in the moonlight. "Do what? Gill, what are you about to do?"
"You said you trusted me," I whispered. "Time to prove it."
I lifted my hand into the air and voiced the command.
My tome fell into my hand and just as the guard stepped around the corner, I envisioned the symbol for Sleet, and swept my hand across the ground beneath his feet. His legs came out from under him, but he managed to stay upright as he bent over backward to try and balance himself. Tovin darted forward and leaned back, sliding underneath the guard and toppling him at the same time. I couldn't believe how fast his mind worked– it was amazing how quickly he'd chosen the perfect course of action.
I moved around the frozen patch of dirt and kicked the headlamp off of the guard's head before racing down the path. I glanced over my shoulder to see him trying to scramble to his feet, but continuing to slip and slide as he reached for his helmet.
"What's going on over there?" I heard the other guard shout as I turned and faced ahead. I saw Tovin dive into his bunk, and I began to hear prisoners murmuring around me.
"We're under attack!" the guard shouted. "Mages!"
I quietly slipped into my bunk and tore my boots off as quickly as I was able. The lights around the camp began to pop on one by one as I tossed my headlamp and my canteen into the cubby. I quickly covered myself in hay and swallowed hard as the camp came alive. I truly hadn't had a better course of action than that, but what would I do with this tome? Would they recognize what it was? Regardless, we weren't permitted to have personal possessions. It'd be contraband, and reason enough to investigate. As I wondered whether or not I should just burn the damn thing, guards began marching down the pathway.
"Prisoners!" one of them shouted. "On your feet! Out of your bunks, now! Move it!"
I closed my eyes tightly and took a few short breaths before placing my tome in the hay and covering it as best I could. I stood up and slowly moved out from the bunk, trying my best to look as groggy as the other prisoners. Within minutes the camp was swarming with every guard on the payroll, both officers, and the warden herself. One of the guards was walking with Skully and Officer Lewis down the first row.
"Not him," spoke the guard as he walked. "Not him either. No, he's too big too. The ones who attacked me were smaller."
It seemed he'd gotten a better look at us than I'd hoped. One by one, the larger prisoners were ordered to get back in their bunks until there were only a handful of us left. I glanced down the line to see about seven other prisoners, Tovin included, still standing at attention.
"You're sure?" asked Warden Skully as they reached the end of the path.
"They were smaller, Warden," he spoke confidently. "They ran down this row and disappeared. They're both here."
"Alright," she said just audibly enough that I heard her. "And you said one of them was holding a book?" she inquired.
My blood ran cold. I did my best to keep a straight face, but that was about the worst thing I could have possibly heard. How had he managed to even see that? In all that commotion, in the dark, while slipping on ice, he caught a glimpse of my tome? I took a shaky breath and closed my eyes. If they searched my bunk thoroughly, this would be it– the end of the road.
"Contraband check!" Skully announced. "I want these bunks searched from top to bottom!"
My heart fell into my stomach.
This can't be happening, I thought as I watched the guards tearing bunks apart. My only option is to fight my way out now, isn't it? How would I get away from all the guards though? It isn't like I can run very far either. Their vehicles can move at least as fast as I can, even with Jetstream active. Maybe they won't find my tome. Maybe they'll just miss it, and I can hide it somewhere safer in the morning before- oh what am I saying, of course, they're going to find it. Tovin was right, we should have just tried to make it back to camp before everyone finished cleaning up.
The guards moved into my bunk and the warden stopped in front of me. She grimaced and leaned in to get a better look at me as I kept my eyes straight ahead.
"What the hell happened to you?" she asked.
I actually didn't have an answer for that. I still looked like shit from when Hammer wrecked me in the mine earlier. I wracked my brain for an answer but kept coming up short. A cave-in? That wouldn't work. I fell? That wouldn't fly either. Her eyes narrowed as the seconds passed.
"Prisoner. Answer me."
A bead of sweat raced down my brow. I couldn't think of anything at all to say. The pressure was crushing me as two guards joined at her side, staring at me expectantly.
"I... I fell," I answered. I knew it wouldn't work, but silence felt like a worse option.
"You fell, huh?" she asked, placing her hands on her hips. "Uh-huh. Sure," she said sarcastically.
"He won't tell us who did it," Officer Bradley came to my rescue. The warden and the guards turned their attention to him as he walked up next to me. "Warden, these prisoners here at the camp... they got this kind of code, there. You snitch, you're gonna get it worse."
"Was I asking you?" Warden Skully snapped. She turned and eyed me suspiciously. "You're gonna tell me who did this, or you're working without food tomorrow." She bore her beady little eyes into mine. "Water neither."
I swallowed. I was already both hungry and thirsty as it was. Telling her about Hammer would just link me to his body whenever they found it. But what was I supposed to do?
"H-Hammer," I sputtered out. "Hammer did this to me."
"Go get Hammer," ordered the warden, a guard departing at her command. "This is rough," she added as she eyed my injuries. "He's too big of a guy to be beating up on a kid like this. What if he hurt him to the point where he couldn't work? Big bastard is messing with my money."
"Where did this happen, there?" asked Officer Bradly.
"Uhh..." I stammered. "Th- the uhh..."
I can't say the mine. The guard had been doubled; they were all over the place today. They wouldn't have missed a savage beating like that. While cleaning up? No, there would have been a ton of witnesses. But Bradley had just told the warden that snitching would get you in hot water. It wasn't impossible that a guard could have missed that. I have to make something up quick, even if it's not completely believable.
"He took me b-behind the bunks while we were c-cleaning up," I said as I allowed myself to look her in the eye for the first time. "He did it because he was mad about me not sharing what I found with him."
"There was an altercation between the two of them earlier," one of the guards whispered into her ear.
"I remember it," she said as she looked deeply into both of my eyes. "... Hammer didn't mine none of that flint rock you brought me the other day either, did he?"
"No ma'am," I answered quickly.
"Hmph," she scoffed. "Didn't think so."
This was going better than I had hoped. But the biggest hurdle was to come. The guards were getting closer to my bunk in their inspections, but things really took a nosedive when the guard that had left to fetch Hammer returned sweaty and out of breath.
"Warden!" he called to her.
She turned toward him with her face twisted up in anger. "Why are you standing here without Hammer?"
His face was as white as a ghost as he glanced between her and Officer Bradley. "Because, umm... Warden, Hammer is gone!"
"What do you mean, gone," she seethed.
I stared at the two of them in disbelief at how much of a mess this was turning out to be. The warden looked at Officer Bradley, and then back to her guard before staring off into the far distance for what felt like too long. Bradley and the guard eyed one another wearily as she began to twitch around her right eye.
"Sweep the camp," she said finally. "We're getting to the bottom of this tonight. If you find a book," she turned to face Officer Bradley. "You bring it to me, and only me. Somebody is getting whipped to death over this."
I resisted the natural reflex to take a big cartoony gulp, but I couldn't control the shaking in my legs. I prayed to Hahnahkordia the warden's keen eyes wouldn't notice me shaking like a leaf and question me further. Officer Bradley and the guard departed to follow their new orders as the guard tasked with the contraband check moved into my bunk. I was breathing shakily as they went through my cubby and tore apart the hay I slept in. I wanted more than anything to turn and watch them, but Skully was standing right in front of me. My heart pounded and my legs quaked as I waited for them to find the tome.
"Clear," sounded one of the guards as they departed the bunk.
My eyes popped open, and a wave of relief and confusion settled in on me. Impossible. There was no way they didn't find it. I felt faint; so much weight had lifted off my shoulders at once that I felt light as air.
"Is that how you've been searching those bunks?" barked the warden as she moved past me. "I can't believe I have to show two grown men how to do a contraband search."
I slowly looked over my shoulder to see her bent over and pulling the hay out. She was actually sweeping the hay out over the path into a thin layer.
"You don't just dig through the hay!" she shouted again. "You pull it all the way out, like this!" she grunted as she worked. "It's called the Skully Method. Leave no stone unturned. Now what you're gonna do is go back to the first bunk you searched, and do it just like this. You understand?"
Suddenly, she stopped. She stood up and the guards leaned in.
"Uh-huh," she said, placing her hands on her hips. "You idiots would have just walked away from this."
If only the warden hadn't been standing in front of me, I'd have gotten away with it clean. If only I had just hidden the tome in my pants or something, they never did pat me down. There were a million different things I could have done differently, but I didn't. This was my reality. I was going to have to fight my way out.
Or be whipped to death come sun up.
Part 55
Writing Prompt Submitted by u/My-Last-Hope
submitted by a15minutestory to A15MinuteMythos [link] [comments]

2023.01.30 02:31 mayaderen69 I am 27 years old, make $51,000, live in Chicago, work in museums, and this week I met my celebrity crush!

Section One: Assets and Debt
Retirement Balance (and how you got there): $25,802. This number makes me sad because it looked better before the market took a turn, but I know that’s part of the game! Both my jobs have offered a five-percent match. Putting in that portion of my salary, even when I was overdraft-my-account broke, has been one of the financial decisions I’m most grateful to my past self for.
Equity if you're a homeowner (and how much you put down and how you accumulated that payment)
Not a cent!
Savings account balance: $6,050 in regular savings, $726 in my Health Savings Account.
Checking account balance: $126
Credit card debt (and how you accumulated it): None - I didn’t have a credit card until last year, and now I pay it off every week. It’s a nice way for me to check in on what I’m spending.
Student loan debt (for what degree): $12,023 in debt for my undergraduate degree in English and French literature. Most of my tuition was covered by a scholarship, but I took out these loans to cover the rest. I haven’t made payments since they’ve been paused, since this total amount could be covered under the student debt relief plan, since I was a Pell Grant Recipient. I’m not counting on it, but it would be amazing to have a clean slate!
Anything else that's applicable to you:
I’m incredibly fortunate to have graduate education offered as a benefit of my job - they pay for my tuition, and I cover student fees. Since my tuition remission technically qualifies as income, I do pay taxes on it, which are deducted from my paychecks in monthly installments. I’m currently finishing up a Master’s in Art History, which would cost $61,000 annually if I were paying for it out of pocket - eeep!! I love this field, but sometimes feel a little nihilistic about how expensive the barriers to entry are in museums.
A Master’s doesn’t guarantee you a job in the field, but it is pretty much an expectation that I have one if I’m going to advance past a certain point. Most people I know who started in museums at the same time I did have had to pause their careers to go back for further study, so I feel very fortunate to work on both simultaneously, even though it makes for a busy schedule.
Section Two: Income
Income Progression: I've been working in my field (nonprofit fundraising and events) for 4 years. My starting salary was $31,000. I was told that negotiating it was not allowed - in retrospect, I really wish I’d pushed back on that more because I know other (male) coworkers did so successfully, but at the time I was totally ignorant about how these things worked.
I moved to my current institution 3 years ago and started making $36,000. Because of the pandemic, raises were paused and my salary was cut a few times to varying degrees - gotta love that cost of living decrease!
Last year, I started in a new role at the same institution and negotiated my salary up to $50,000. I received a two percent raise this year, bringing me up to my current compensation of $51,000. I know this isn’t a huge amount of money, but it’s still surreal to me to be able to pay for everything I need and still have money left over to save at the end of the month! I feel so incredibly fortunate, and love that I can afford to be generous now with friends and family members who are struggling.
Sometimes I still feel so angry about all the years I spent sleeping on an air mattress and living off leftover catering, blaming myself for having poor financial skills when really I was just being severely underpaid. But I want to focus more on cultivating gratitude for all the abundance and opportunities I have now, and working to make my industry more equitable for interns and employees now.
Main Job Monthly Take Home:
$2,427. This is a little lower than it would be if I weren’t in grad school, based on the tuition reimbursement income tax situation noted above.
Side Gig Monthly Take Home
I occasionally work weddings on weekends with an old coworker - she pays me $50 an hour, which made all the difference when I had a lower salary. This isn’t a regular job, but probably nets me an extra thousand dollars a year.
Any Other Monthly Income Here
Section Three: Expenses
$735 - My half of rent for a two-story loft, shared with my boyfriend. We make similar amounts (his income fluctuates since he works on contract) but don’t share finances. Since I hate paying bills, we have a system where I pay the rent, he takes care of all other utilities household expenses, and we settle up at the end of the month.
$7 - The monthly breakdown on my portion of our renter’s insurance.
Retirement contribution
This comes out of my pre-tax income in my paycheck.
Savings contribution
$700 monthly transfer
Investment contribution
None - I want to focus on building up my personal savings for the time being, especially since we’re thinking about moving in the next few years.
Debt payments
None - I’ve stopped making payments while they’ve paused during the pandemic, since I’m still holding out hope that good ol Joe might forgive my debts.
Donations (please specify if monthly or annual). Feel free to also put volunteer hours you normally do as well!
None - I’d love to establish more of a charitable giving practice, but for now I’m focusing on building up my savings.
$50 - my half of the monthly bill.
$40 - my half of the monthly bill for wifi.
I’m still on my Dad’s plan, along with the rest of my siblings.
$75 annually for my print New Yorker subscription - it’s such a luxury to get the print issue in the mail every week, but we love doing the crosswords with our coffee on the weekends, and I like to cherish the fantasy that I’m keeping print media alive. I also read my boyfriend’s Jacobin and New York Times subscriptions.
$15 monthly for Amazon; my other streaming subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, HBO) are shared.
$5 monthly for Patreon - I have to support my Sex and the City recap podcast!
$5 monthly for Spotify - I might switch to Apple Music soon, since Neil Young pulled his music and no service which can’t stream Harvest Moon is worth it to me.
Gym membership
$35 monthly
Pet expenses
None, but I’m dreaming of the day I can acquire a dog!
Car payment / insurance
I pay $80 annually to be added as a driver on my boyfriend’s policy.
I put about $100 monthly on my CTA pass.
Regular therapy
This will be $27 a week once I meet my deductible; for now, it’s $207 a week.
Paid hobbies
None currently - I’d love to sign up for a regular pilates class once I finish my degree!
Any other expense that's relevant to you
I pay $350 each semester in student activities fees (this irks me because it’s not like I can really take advantage of the activities offered with a full time job - but I know it’s a bad look to complain about my mostly-free degree!)
My boyfriend wakes me up with blueberry pancakes and espresso! We eat a leisurely breakfast together and read the news. After breakfast, he does the dishes and I start a batch of focaccia dough so it can rise for the next eight hours - starting the week with fresh bread makes me feel like a domestic goddess, and I’m a strong believer that every meal needs a carb-based side.
We take advantage of the rare mild winter weather to drive out to a forest preserve and do a trail run (by which I mean, my boyfriend runs nine miles, I run one mile and then walk around and listen to my podcast). I do some botanical studies for one of my classes, which focuses on landscape writing and drawing- I love the way being in school helps me to focus my attention on things which aren’t necessarily productive, but shift my way of being in the world.
As is tradition, we stop at a chinese buffet for lunch. He gets into a small altercation with a man over the steamed crab legs; I break my personal record for the maximum crab rangoons eaten in one meal (eleven). We love it here! (24.00 for both of us, paid by my boyfriend).
We stop to pick up some produce for the week - we typically shop in bulk once a month for proteins and staples at Costco, and then do a few smaller trips each week to get fresh things. This week it’s mushrooms, kale, green onions, cilantro, limes, bananas, dates, and milk. (28.00, which we’ll add to our shared tab).
My boyfriend watches the game while I make dinner - I’m doing Molly Baz’s golden soup with chicken, ginger, and garlic. It needs to simmer for an hour, so it’s a perfect sunday supper recipe, and will leave enough leftovers for me to take for lunch. I finish the focaccia, throw some laundry in, and prep my overnight oats for the week.
I’m trying seed cycling to see if it helps balance my hormones and make my PMDD less hellacious, so this week’s batch includes flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds, along with coconut and date. Making this ahead in big batches ends up saving me a ton of time since the list of ingredients is so obscenely long.
We eat dinner. My boyfriend does the dishes while I finish up the piece of writing I’m sharing for tomorrow’s workshop class.
I do a yoga video (love my girl Adriene) and do my skincare (Glossier milky jelly cleanser, The Ordinary hyaluronic acid, and Dieux moisturizer) and we tuck into bed early for some shared kindle time. I’m reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - such a gorgeous trio of novels!
Wake up disgustingly early - Mondays are among my busiest days, so if I don’t make it to the gym in the morning then I won’t make it at all. I get in 25 minutes on the stairmaster, then run back home and shower before putting on minimal makeup (Supergoop glow screen, Glossier cloud paint and boy brow).
I log on a little early to answer some pressing emails which came in over the weekend. My work lets me take flexible hours on Monday, which is such a blessing, so I can attend class from 9-12 and finish my workday later in the evening - but I don’t like to have urgent things hanging over me when I know people are waiting on a reply.
I’m running late, so my boyfriend drives me to class- he is an angel, I am bad at time management.
My class is about landscape writing, and we spend the first ten minutes looking at the trees outside. I love having something in my life which forces me to do things like this - sometimes I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe, let alone look at a leaf, and these moments remind me that all the forced business and productivity is kind of an illusion. All I really have to do is exist in this world.
I share my writing, which is about the industrial history of the chicago forest preserve, which used to be a site of secret nuclear experimentation during the second world war. In the years after the war, they weren’t certain of what the effects of the radiation might be, so the land went undeveloped for years until eventually it became the beautiful, pristine forest it is today. But underneath everything the original pile reactor is still buried beneath a stone monument. It’s such a strange, haunting history, and I love writing about it.
I’m out of class but working from home today, so I take the train back home and eat the lunch my boyfriend made: shaved brussel sprouts, kale, and cranberries with tuna salad and a dill dressing.
Log on for my work day. I plan events at the museum, which can include everything from exhibition openings to private dinners in the galleries for extra special guests. I have loved museums my entire life, and still can’t believe I get to be a part of this beautiful, special place. That said, the art world also attracts a lot of ‘creative’ personalities, and so a lot of my day is spent fielding requests from brilliant people who aren’t used to encountering mundane realities.
I don’t like to take a dinner break on Mondays since I’d prefer to work straight through the evening and be done earlier, so I snack on some focaccia and boursin cheese at my desk. I also try a glass of a natural wine I was gifted by a caterer - I think it’s delicious, but it’s a little too funky for my boyfriend’s taste.
Finally done for the day! I log off and we watch The Last of Us - a little scary for me, but anything to see Pedro Pascal. Pack up my lunch for tomorrow, do my skincare, and go to sleep.
Don’t make it to the gym this morning since I’m already tired thinking about how long my day is. Get dressed in my favorite pleated pants and j.crew sweater since I’m going into the office today but want to be cozy. Overnight oats, New Yorker, rinse, repeat.
Take the bus to the train to the office. I walk through the galleries to reach my office every morning, and they’re especially beautiful when it’s snowing outside.
I’m trying to be better about taking my lunch break, so I heat up my leftover soup and focaccia to eat in the lobby while I watch the snow and read. It feels weird to be away from my desk for longer than thirty minutes, but at least I left for a little while!
Head out from the office to pick up my dinner before I have class across the street. Packing two meals in a day is simply too depressing for me, so I always order Sweetgreen as a little pick me up before my night class - this week I’m loving the crispy rice bowl. I always have them add sweet potato and lentils, which makes it filling enough that I can stretch it across two meals. I eat it in the grad student lounge while I eavesdrop on other students' conversations, and think about how much of a difference the few years after undergrad make. (14.35)
Evening class! We’re debating the ethics of artists adapting their familial histories of mental illness in their exhibitions. The first two hours fly by; the third starts to drag a little - it’s been a long day. Do jumping jacks on my ten minute break to get the endorphins flowing.
My boyfriend picks me up from class so I don’t have to brave the evening bus schedule - public transportation has been way worse since the pandemic! We snuggle up and pass out early.
I’m working from home today, so I take advantage of my nonexistent commute by rolling out of bed at the last possible minute and pulling on a loungewear set. It’s my mom’s birthday later this week, so I schedule some flowers to be delivered from me and my brother - he’s in college so I cover the cost ($59.95).
Eat my leftovers lunch while I start on some readings for next week’s class - I try to get as much done as I can during the week so I can take a true day off during the weekend.
I’m in a bad mood from barely moving all day, so I decide to run over to the gym before my virtual therapy session tonight. There’s nothing more humiliating than the realization that my existential angst can be solved with endorphins, but if nothing else at least I can make it work for me!
Back from the gym, I take a quick shower, saute some mushrooms and tofu, and blend up a quick ginger miso vinaigrette for my salad. I’ve miscalculated my time, so I end up saving my dinner to eat after therapy.
Virtual therapy - we usually meet in person, but this week we’re observing extra precautions because of a covid exposure. Therapy has benefited my daily happiness immeasurably and helped my general sense of doom feel less omnipresent, but sometimes the cost of it still makes me anxious - I researched local practitioners with sliding scales extensively for over a year, and this was the most affordable option I found. I try to remember that mental health is a privilege worth paying for, and I’ll reimburse myself through my HSA, but sometimes it still stings to pay almost as much as I do in rent for therapy. Once I reach my annual deductible, each session will be only $20 a week, but for now it’s ($210).
In the office bright and early because we have an event today! We’re hosting a reception for a local celebrity, who I happen to have had a crush on for the past decade, so of course I’m wearing my silkiest black jumpsuit in an attempt to be both chic and work-appropriate.
We’re walking through the galleries with our celebrity guest. Cannot believe I’m discussing the minutia of the evening’s signature cocktail with a man I saw perform onstage a year ago in front of a thousand people. He keeps vaping a little too close to the Rembrandts, but no one wants to scold him.
Our celeb requests a tour of the galleries - I am buzzing!! We end up having an amazing conversation around the repatriation of artifacts to their native countries. Whatever else happens tonight, I am on cloud nine.
After a slightly chaotic evening corralling guests and cueing up AV guys, I’m very much ready to be at home in my PJ’s. I’m starving and can’t imagine having to make dinner, so I stop by Shake Shack to grab a burger on the way home. (13.38) I expense my taxi, since I’m working late at an event, which is great because surge pricing is out of control (27.42).
I log on a little late today since we worked after hours last night. Spend my extra hour snuggling in bed and stepping out for an iced coffee (4.39).
Heading out for a friend’s dinner party! I usually try to bring a showstopper dessert, but since I failed to plan ahead this week I stop by a local shop for a bottle of sparkling wine, selected purely based on its label (13.49).
Call an uber home since I’m holding out hope for an exceptionally productive Saturday to make up for a busy week. Kiss my friends goodbye, make apologies for my uncool lifestyle (14.32)
Crossword, sun lamp, pancakes, redux. Settle in for a morning of thesis research on the sofa while my boyfriend does work downstairs.
We’re both feeling stir crazy and need to shake it up after a morning of working at home. We venture out to a local brewery that doesn’t mind if we work on laptops when it’s not too busy. We each polish off two sours in the course of the afternoon. (17.50 with tip)
Back home for an early dinner since we skipped lunch. We found a great deal on steak the other week, so we have it with mushrooms, a red wine sauce, and polenta. Having an open bottle to polish off is just a bonus!
At the end of each day please tally up your daily expenses. Then at the end of your diary please tally up all expenses in the following categories:
Food + Drink: $98.11
Fun / Entertainment (Do not include food/drink here UNLESS it's attached to a larger event. For example, going to a baseball game and buying peanuts and hotdogs will all fall under this category BUT boozy brunch or a happy hour with a friend would not.)
Home + Health: $210
Clothes + Beauty: $0
Transport: $24.32
Other: $59.95
Lastly, reflect on your diary! Honestly, this diary made me want to go a little easier on my spending habits! I think it’s easy for me to get caught up in the comparison game and feel like my savings aren’t up to par with what they should be for my age, or could be if I’d chosen to work in a more lucrative field.
If anything, looking at this week as a whole made me aware of the ways I might spend money sharing special experiences with my friends. Working while going to school leaves so little time for socializing, it might be worth it for me to spend a little more saving time if it would allow me more social activities.
I also have to say - I've learned SO much from this community! It has been such a big part of me feeling positive about my relationship with money and working through my anxiety around a lack of financial knowledge. I'm grateful for all of your judgement-free advice!
submitted by mayaderen69 to MoneyDiariesACTIVE [link] [comments]

2023.01.11 17:45 antihumanist-bastard There's no such thing as "good" and "bad" people

There are good and bad actions. There are good and bad patterns of behavior. There are people who often engage in helpful patterns of behavior and people who often engage in harmful patterns of behavior, but there are not "good people" or "bad people".
The only way you can conclude someone is a "good" person is to conclude that their actions will never change. On this view, after a certain point, none of us control our own destiny. At some unknown juncture, we suddenly become utterly unable to chart our own course. Helpless as ships without rudders, we are "alive" only in the way that a leaf blown on the wind is "alive" - motion, no thought, no capacity for judgement.
And can such a leaf be judged by where it lands? Is it up to the leaf?
So: there are either people with choices, in which case people can never be truly written off, but instead only judged by their next choice, or there are leaves: neither good nor bad, simply blown on the wind.

Once you stop treating people as ends in themselves, you are lost.

submitted by antihumanist-bastard to offmychest [link] [comments]

2023.01.04 16:56 LordIlthari Monsters Chapter 65: Debrief

I am The Bard, who dislikes myself at times, recognizing in my own heart the wickedness which I would see purged from the world.
They saw it in the rising dawn, the rays of ruby light reflecting off of the reforged plated sides of the ancient fortress. A modern city rose beneath her shadow, rebuilt from the ground up from a truly apocalyptic catastrophe. The Iron Keep stood strong, as it would for the rest of the age.
Scylla sent word for Zeal, and also for the others if they wished to come, to see the city from the air. All came, and the Black Lion grinned ear to ear as she watched her home sprawling out before them. “It’s good to be back. Besides, I doubt any of you ever saw it from here, pretty-boy excepted.”
”Even I haven’t seen it from this angle.” Karna replied. “Flying as high as an airship is a bit too close to the sun for me. The air’s thinner up here, can’t get good purchase on it.”
The Iron Keep itself had needed a serious rebuild following the invasion by Yeenoghu, but the city itself had been left as little more than a pile of rubble. First the rain of demons resulted in spectacular damage. Then the use of artillery to contain the demons within the city. Then the arrival of a god, the death of a god, the clash of titans, and ultimately the final duel between the scoundrels and the ascendant Ascalon. Nothing had remained of much of the city but ash and dust. Millions had died in that single battle, and any other city might have been utterly abandoned.
But not the Iron Keep. Though the fearsome plating that had covered its walls had been melted and run like water through the upper district, the city remained. The Iron Wardens would not abandon their sacred post, and after the labors that Janus and the rest of his wardens had given in service of the world, the Ordani would not demand that of them. So instead, they worked together, and brought the city back from the dead.
As they approached from the east, they saw the least damaged parts of the city, the eastern fortress. This sector had received far less glory than the west, but deserved it no less. Its five terraced walls had held against wave upon wave of millions of gnolls crashing in from the east, and against the endless rain of daemons coming down from above. The ancient walls had been ripped down and climbed over by ramps made from the dead, and yet they had held. The upper two walls still retained some of their ancient character, but all sides had needed a rebuild. The walls now jutted out with triangular patterns, plated with steel to deflect cannonballs. The Brother’s War had taught the world that the age of the flat facing castle wall was over, now was a new age for new, impregnable fortresses.
Above it all, the castle proper, a maddening network of towers, baileys, courtyards, secret passages, and deathtraps still stood. And in their center rose the original tower, soaring seventy feet into the air above the rest, plated with iron. It was not rendered as this to deflect shots, for it had been built before the age where gunpowder was widely known. But it did its purpose well in the dawn, the shining sides reflecting the light of the sun out into the unconquered wilderness. It was a lighthouse and a fortress, a quite literally shinning example of civilization’s defiance against chaos. Above it, the flags of the Iron Wardens and the Ordani flew boldly in the high mountain winds.
They came up to that great keep, and began to dock with it to disembark. Great hooks were thrown out by tower and zeppelin alike to bind the two together and bring the mighty airship into berth. They looked down then on the new city, sprawling out before them and rising from the ashes. Here where once was all butchery, now there were wide boulevards and rising arches. Proud homes and businesses, often rising three, four, or even five stories tall. The great cathedral of Kord was still in the process of being rebuilt, its frame covered in scaffolding and laborers who scuttled like ants.
It was in many ways very grand, though the pragmatism of the Iron Wardens was on full display. The wide boulevards were well suited to cavalry charges, each one measured to be just the width of a cavalry company. They were also all lightly inclined, so any invader would be perpetually fighting uphill. The grand arches also doubled as excellent firing posts for riflemen, and hid cannons behind the masonry. Each house had a flat roof with a garden to help endure a siege, and form a firing platform from which to shoot down on the streets below. Aside from these lethal killing fields, the streets were narrow, with tall houses at either ends. All the better for building up barricades to control the flow of movements for an enemy army. The city was built both to maximize the effect of civilian resistance, and the brutal fist of the army, against any invader.
The Iron Keep had been bloodied to the point of exsanguination, but much like its Wardens, that hadn’t stopped it. It had returned, stronger than ever.
But it wasn’t quite as it was before. The original one certainly didn’t have a skydock, and the Keep was no longer the Wardens to watch alone. They still kept their stoic vigils through the cold stone halls, but not alone. The city and the keep was fast growing to be a crucial center of industry and administration, as the de facto capital of the eastern colonies. It was busy now, busier than it had ever been in the time of Janus, with the grey-clad wardens now only a few among the colorful mass of Lions, Paladins, mages, bureaucrats, and all others.
There were even scientists now. Most ecological, anthropological, chemical, and meteorological data would be sent back to the universities at San Jonas, Raevir’s Landing, and Hold Glamdring, there was one field where the Iron Keep dominated. It wasn’t weapons manufacturing either, but space exploration and astronomy. Raymond’s Lunar Teleportation Circle still remained in one wing of the castle, now wholly converted over to the research, exploration, and exploitation of the moon. The scoundrels had returned from the battle on its surface with a deep fascination for the orbiting body, and regularly returned, leading to the eventual establishment of the Hound One lunar research base.
Basil and Karna paused briefly by the path to that wing, looking at nothing, looking back in time. Both remained there for a long moment, watching their grandfather’s legacy play out in front of them.
Then Basil nodded, and turned to go. “Come on pretty boy, we’ve got a lot of work to do catching up.”
They did indeed, as they were in the process of unloading the great airship. It had taken another two days and nights of constant travel to return at last to the iron keep, and once there, work began immediately. Fuel had to be replenished, passengers let off, weaponry refitted and reloaded. To bring the airship back into ready condition was a substantial process and thankfully, not the Paladins’s problem. Far more to their concern was an order they had received within ten minutes of docking. They were to report at once for a debriefing. Word had spread up along the colonies of the fall of Janusburg, and unsurprisingly, command wanted answers.
They continued on their way towards their assigned meeting room, a growing concern rising among the quintet. Karna was visibly worried, Zeal unreadable in her armor, Basil under his illusions, Samuel appeared depressed, but resolved.
Thorek was the one who had the hardest expression to read. Even the interior of the castle was still too bright for him to see unaided, so he continued to wear his blindfold over his malformed eyes. He still moved as if he could see perfectly clearly, his hyperenhanced vision allowing him to see clearly even through the minimal light seeping through the cloth. The inability to look the dwarf in the eye made him hard to read, and his face seemed to show he was lost deep in thought, as though he wasn’t even present.
Zeal and the medical staff had attempted everything they could to assist him, but there was nothing that they could do. His eyes weren’t injured, they had completely transformed into something unprecedented and strange. Furthermore, examining them caused the dwarf remarkable pain due to the lights of the medical ward, and thus they had been able to do little but to wait until he could be brought to a more complex facility. Even so, he took it in good humor, though he did note that it was far harder to sleep that it had been previously. Some of that was because of the amount of light his eyes took in even with his eyelids closed and a blindfold on. Some of that was because of the nightmares, but he didn’t mention those.
They entered into the room they had been ordered too, and Basil stiffened slightly. Samuel recognized the twitch of his fingers, moving towards where his sword normally rested. Karna sensed a surge in hostile intent despite no apparent change in aggression. It was as though a sudden cloud had emerged out of Basil’s soul at the sight of those waiting for them. Strange, normally he couldn’t read anything from Basil whatsoever.
”You.” He remarked, just with enough intent to be reasonably considered surprise, and enough malice to know that such intent was entirely an excuse.
The you was not directed at the heavily armored woman sitting in the central chair, as was her right as lay of the castle. Castellan Konstantina Rokossvky of the Iron Wardens was a large woman, easily taller than a dragonborn, and packing nearly as much muscle. She was a goliath of a woman, in every sense of the word, her grey hair cut short, her armor unpolished but moving as naturally as skin. The ancient blade of the Iron Wardens, the mighty two-handed executioner’s blade Duty hung across her back, alongside a mighty tower shield. Her face showed little emotion, but her eyes portrayed a deep curiosity. They flicked briefly across the party. Samuel’s missing eye, Thorek’s blindfold, Basil’s broken sword. Questions hung in the air, a calulating mind waited patiently behind the curious eyes, preparing the precise phrasing of questions necessary to begin drawing conclusions.
Neither was the you directed at the unarmored, but no less lethal man sat at her right hand. Commander Maximillian Lee of the Black Lions, though hard to recognize outside of his power armor, sat reading a report in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. He set both down at the approach of the party, and then discretely stowed both under the table when nobody was looking. Basil and Thorek noted an unfinished crossword on the back. He might have passed for human if he dyed his hair and let it grow long, but it was too red, and his ears too pointed, to be anything but half-elven. His eyes moved one by one over each of the paladins, lingering briefly on Karna, narrowing faintly. It seemed instinct drove him as much as logic did Konstantina, and whatever it was, something about the young aasimar was making his skin crawl.
The you was directed at the third man, sitting in the lowest seat, because he knew he was by far the one with the most authority in the room. Placing himself in a relatively minor position physically only amplified the effect of his actual position, while providing a clear air of humility and deference to the other two who’s territory he was intruding upon. The most powerful man in the union, the Lord Commander, Alexander Sigil.
The elder aasimar met Basil’s gaze, and the other paladins quietly realized that he was meeting all six of Basil’s gazes. He seemed professional yet relaxed, a comfortable smile that showed no teeth rested on his lips. “Basil, it’s good to see you again.” He remarked with a friendly tone, speaking quietly, but always heard. He turned from the glaring paladin and noted each of the others. “Karna, likewise. Zeal, I hope you’re doing well.” Then he considered the other two. “I hope the same for you and Samuel as well Prince Kazador, but I suspect that I hope vainly. Please, take a seat, there’s coffee and water if you take either. I’ve heard reports that Janusburg was destroyed, and that you helped lead the survivors away, but details beyond that are slim. I want everything, from the moment that things went wrong, up until you met with Scylla and her patrol force.”
The paladins took their seats, Basil sitting directly across from Alexander so as better to discretely glare at him from under his illusion. “I’m surprised to see you here Alex.” He observed. “I would have thought you considered your time too valuable to personally attend to a debriefing.”
”Well, I received a report that a town had been sacked, a major installation in the colonies destroyed, and an orc horde was on the march. These may have been exaggerated, you know how stories can form and twist beyond any resemblance to the truth, but the tower was gone. Beyond that, unprofessional as it might be, I did have two nephews and a close friend missing in action and reported as trying to divert an army into the mountains. That would have perhaps been reason enough if I were not in my position, but as it stands, it was a contributing factor to the former issue.”
Basil frowned slightly at the mention of a friend, seemingly ignoring the apparent concern for himself and his cousin. Then he heard the faint click of Zeal’s helmet nodding. His eyes flicked briefly to her, then back to Alexander. There were six cracks, a sound which all the paladins besides Basil and Alexander were confused by. By now they recognized the sound of Basil preparing to strike with his spines, and stared at him.
Basil’s glare towards Alexander remained hidden under the illusion of his face, but the intent was plain to sense from those who knew him. Previously, his mood had been contemptuous. Now it was outright murderous. Samuel shifted slightly for his swords, concerned that Basil was about to attack the Lord Commander for apparently no reason. The others stared at him, Zeal most of all. One thought raced through their minds. What the hell had gotten into him?
Alexander seemed either ignorant or unconcerned, simply steepling his fingers and shifting his gaze to each of them one by one. “So then, who would like to begin?”
And so the paladins told the tale, as much of it as they knew, correcting one another at times, explaining all that they had seen. They told of the hunt for the war camp, the dead elf, the attack, their retreat. They told of the battle at Janusburg, the burning village. They told of the fire, of the explosion, of the retreat, and of their last, desperate stand. They explained in the fullest detail they could, though limited by their own personal perspectives. They had seen so very little, and yet spoke much.
When all was said and done, and the questions to clarify details were answered, Alexander spoke again. “Right then, if my colleagues have nothing more to ask, then I have a few additional questions for each of you, man to man, or woman in Zeal’s case. I’d prefer to ask them privately so that we can ensure things are as honest as possible, and make sure that we move forwards with the right approach. I hope that won’t be a problem.”
Maximillian raised an eyebrow carefully. “I’d like to know what kinds of questions are being asked here. If it potentially could be relevant to matters of our national security or the security of the colonies, I’d like to hear them as well.”
”Likewise. It is best to ensure we receive all information possible.” Konstantina added.
”Nothing of the sort, any questions that were relevant to that sort of thing were already asked by you. I trust you absolutely as regards the decisions on this theatre. This is paladin business, nothing to do with the grand strategy or individual tactics, but individuals. Given that with the exception of Zeal being one of my own students, I am the only master of a paladin order here, and as such I have specific responsibilities.”
That sort of commentary left several of the paladins shifting uncomfortably. It carried unfortunate implications which played tantalizingly along their guilt. Only Zeal and Basil seemed unaffected. One was calm, the other contemptuous. Basil spoke first. “Naturally, if it’s a private chat you’d like, I do have some time. I’ll need to look over TA applications when I get back, home, but it was going to be a late night anyways.”
The pair exited to a private room, and Alexander offered Basil a seat. The younger man didn’t take it. Alexander didn’t sit either. Basil stalked the room, circling the elder paladin with open malice. His illusion flickered away, revealing his true form in all its ugly hate. “So, what exactly is your angle here?”
Alexander ignored Basil’s stalking, and was unbothered by the revelation of his true shape. He’d seen it the entire time. He calmly sat down, but he was no longer smiling. “Hundreds of my people were murdered, a major installation has been destroyed, homes burned, fields ravaged, and the expansion of my nation was dealt a serious blow. At the same time, a powerful new enemy has emerged on my borders, and it appears that my paladins have been badly wounded in body and soul.” His voice never raised, but an unsheathed fury, like a layer of earth pulled back to reveal the mantle, filled it.
”My angle, prince of nightmares, is to determine how best to reconstitute my forces, ensure their rapid recovery, and deliver a shattering blow that will eradicate this threat with such complete brutality that it will ensure peace and prosperity for another fifty years.” He concluded.
Basil then asked his second question. “What did you do to Zeal?”
Alexander’s eyes narrowed at that. “I helped her. Because that is what I do.” He remarked. “I would like to think I possess an equal capacity for that to your ability to kill. In particular, I took her in to my order after the death of her prior master, helped ensure she could live a normal life without being regarded as a diseased monster, and made certain she was approved for experimental trials with the medicine which helps control her transformations. As for my future intentions, to continue helping her. I brought with me a spare case of the medicine since she may have run out, and I note that she clearly has. Her withdrawal symptoms are apparent if you know what to look for, but I am pleased that you did not feel the need to kill my student. So, thank you for that I suppose.”
”That medicine, what is it?” Basil asked suspiciously.
Alexander moved to a full frown. “The specific details of my student’s medication is not necessary for any element of your duties. Your enhanced blades can bypass her leothropic form’s defenses regardless of whether her medication is active or not. In fact, it suppresses those abilities entirely. Beyond that, you do not need to know. You don’t use poisons, so there aren’t any alchemical reactions you need to be aware of. I cannot prevent you from studying how to kill my paladins, nor remove your unhealthy view of them as your prey. But I will protect their privacy when you overstep your bounds.”
”Astounding how many things you can be wrong about at once, and so confidently.” Basil remarked.
”Well, we can continue discussing how impressive you are and what a fool I am or we can focus on the rather more important task of dealing with the imminent threat to my country. If you do not consider that well beneath you.”
”My focus is always on threats to the Ordani.” Basil replied coldly.
”Then consider perhaps what threats might be internal. Clearly a number of things went wrong over the past few weeks. I want your evaluation of them and what to do in response.”
Basil nodded at the internal threat sitting at the table. “Firstly, lack of good information on the terrain and what tribes are active in the area. We were effectively flying blind, resulting in us stumbling into the wrong target. Secondly, overly emotional response, my own included, to the discovery of our dead kinswoman. Our resulting actions were hasty. Thirdly, insufficient forces to protect the civilian population. Fourth, insufficient force exercised to ensure that the local orcs considered violence to be their worst possible response. Fifth, insufficient diplomatic efforts.”
He took his seat. “To resolve the first, we should, in the long term, focus on more detailed cartography and more work on acquiring local guides, ideally druids or rangers. Get one of those on side and you will know every rock and leaf in their territory. The second issue would require more work on stronger socio-emotional training for our paladins. If you’re willing, I’ll put you in touch with a few of my colleagues to help consider approaches for retraining existing paladins and integrating techniques into training our squires. Thirdly, given our limited local knowledge and the likely aggression of the nearby orcs in response to this, I would recommend pulling civilians out of the area into areas better under our control and knowledge. Until we secure better local knowledge, further colonization attempts should be primarily military in nature, and located further north where our weaponry can be put to better use. Exploitation of the northern oil fields might be one option, it’s hard to sneak upon anyone in the steppe. Fourth, the leaders of this attack, the ones called Temujin, Urz, Urma, Magado, and especially Orsus must be eliminated as swiftly as possible. For the fifth, speak with the diplomatic corps and listen to them rather than military advisors.”
Alexander raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been considering this for quite some time I see.”
”Anything less than absolute success demands an analysis to figure out how to not make the same mistakes twice.” Basil replied. “And I do try not to make the same mistakes twice.” He spoke with words laden with personal history.
”I see. I do hope you apply some of that analytical skill to certain professional relationships at some point. You’ve effectively answered my questions, and I gather you would rather not spend any more time in the same room as me as necessary. You are dismissed.”
Basil rose. “I don’t make the same mistakes twice.” He repeated. “And with my clearance level and other sources, my evaluations are more accurate than you would like.” He remarked, then turned his back, cloaked himself in his illusions, and left the room.
Samuel considered the Lord Commander carefully. He hadn’t ever met the man before, but something clearly existed between him and Basil. Something that appeared to be deep-seated, vitriolic, and entirely one-sided. He studied the elder paladin carefully, trying to divine what exactly Basil saw that incited such wrath. Alexander appeared to simply be a well put together, if moderately handsome at best, man in his early forties. He patiently waited for Samuel to take his seat, face calmly cheerful and interested. Nothing in his appearance, mannerisms, or behavior indicated what exactly had set Basil off. He seemed to simply be a polite, patient, understanding fellow. If anything, he was rather underwhelming for the title of Lord Commander. If not for his armor, then Samuel likely would have guessed that he was a fairly well-liked economics professor or successful therapist, not the leader of the most powerful country on the planet.
”Is something wrong?” Alexander asked politely.
Samuel blinked and took his seat. “No, not at all. Just thinking.”
”An admirable pastime. Would that more made a habit of it.” Alexander joked. “Now then.” He said, returning to a serious tone. “I want your view, specifically. What went wrong, and how do we prevent this from happening again?”
Samuel nodded, having considered this for a long time. “We acted overly hastily, and that resulted in a tragedy. We attacked the very people we came to this country to help. That cannot be allowed to happen again. Teams going forwards need to be working with local tribes to help better identify war camps, or prevent them from forming in the first place. Increased trade in the area might help. At the same time, if we want to avoid being perceived as a threat, we should pull back the colonies. New areas should only be set up with local permission. Beyond that, we need more orcish translators. I strongly suspect that our attempts at negotiation broke down due to a lack of translators on our side, and possible nefarious actions from the godsworn’s translator.”
”I see, thank you for the comments. This is the second time this translator, this “Orsus” has been brought up. I’m beginning to suspect we may need to dispatch a team to remove him.”
Samuel frowned at that. “If we do that, then we’ll need to make it subtle, make it look like an accident. Otherwise we jeopardize future diplomacy. While he struck me as an exceptionally evil individual, he appeared to be close with the godsworn’s leader, the cleric, Temujin. And as for him, I do not think we can kill him, and I dread what might occur if we try. If there is anyone who can unite the orcs, it is that man. If we want to bring them in, we must make an ally of him.”
”Given these circumstances, I am uncertain how likely that is to occur.” Alexander noted. “But I appreciate your commentary, and am impressed by your ongoing vision. More than a few would have become embittered by this experience.”
”I want to bring an end to this, to make sure what happened here never happened again. I mean to make shires of this place, not charnel houses. That cannot happen if we repeat our mistakes, or if we bring war where there is no need for it. This was a spectacular failure long before the battle. We must fight without fighting to prevent such catastrophes. Our way is better, but nobody is going to see that if we approach with swords in hand.”
Alexander smiled. “The will of Peregrin lives on I see. That same idealism. Good, that was all I needed to know.”
Samuel nodded and rose to leave, but paused. “You’re not what I was expecting sir.”
Alexander chuckled. “You’ve spent a lot of time around Basil, haven’t you?”
”Yes. He doesn’t appear to like you much sir. If it’s not too much to pry, why is that?”
”A complicated series of factors, a number of which are Basil’s business to disclose as it involves some information I’m certain he would prefer remain private. But of those that I can say, it’s a combination of political disagreements, envy, and his own ideals twisting his view of reality. He seems to think that I am a tyrant in the making, with an insatiable lust for power.” Alexander explained, raising his hands with a feigned dramatism. “He’s right of course, that I do crave power, but not for its own sake. He’s too much of an idealist to recognize that power is what you need to make things better, from the individual up to the world. If you don’t have power, then you’ll never be able to make anything better, and never be able to protect that which you care for. Seeing as I have a rather vested interest in making the world a better place, I do naturally seek to become stronger at all times, and to make those around me stronger besides so that we can work together for the betterment of the world.”
Samuel nodded. “Appreciate the explanation sir.” He said, going away and thinking deeply on what the Lord Commander had said. It seemed appealing, but there was something in it he did not trust. Perhaps it was simply his idealism running into the man’s own pragmatic philosophy. Still, he did not quite know what to make of the man, and resolved to consider him carefully.
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2022.12.30 06:15 ZeroCentsMade THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MACRA – The Macra Terror Review

This post is part of a series of reviews. To see them all, click here.
This review is based off of the Sun & Moon/BBC Studios animated reconstruction of the story

Serial Information


Confusion is best left to the experts. (…) I can stand an operation on its head better than anybody. – The Doctor
Can you imagine if this story had come out in the modern show? Control's insistence that "There are no such thing as Macra. Macra do not exist! THERE ARE NO MACRA!" has a similar meme potential that the Silents did, its offbeat sense of humor would have made it incredibly popular, and, oh yeah, the show would have actually had the ability to make the Macra look decent (in fact we know that last point for a fact).
Instead, The Macra Terror has a very complicated reputation all things considered. I remember back when the animated reconstruction for this story was announced the general reaction among fans seemed to be, "why this story though?" See, at the time, The Macra Terror had something of a mixed reputation with many arguing that it belonged among Troughton's weaker stories.
I think, for me at least, the recent animated reconstruction has allowed for an appreciation of this story I didn't previously have. This was Ian Stuart Black's third and final script for Doctor Who and in a lot of ways it feels like Black is taking a lot of elements from his prior two serials and blending them together. Specifically the dystopian elements of The Savages and the mind control aspect of The War Machines are being worked together. Since these ideas fit together extremely well, this means that The Macra Terror has a solid foundation. And, I've got to be honest here, I think this is Ian Stuart Black's best story.
For one thing, it's certainly his funniest. Savages and War Machines were both pretty humorless affairs, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but The Macra Terror has a lot more to work with on this front. Because Macra Terror's unnamed colony is outwardly happy to the point of being disturbing, there's a lot of room for a twisted kind of humor. Colony characters like Barney the band leader or the always friendly Pilot provide a sort of too-sanitized sheen of niceness over the colony's darker exterior. Even the voice of Control gets in on the humor at times with its increasingly desperate insistences that there definitely is nothing going on in the colony and certainly nothing called Macra.
But I think that the big thing that The Macra Terror does so well compared to Black's other scripts is that it feels much more real. The Savages leaned a bit heavily on its allegory and rushed its ending, while The War Machines was somewhat held back because its main villain was a computer, rather than people. While Black's three scripts are all really strong, and of course our main villain turns out to be some very intelligent giant crabs, the colony of Macra Terror feels like a real place. That outwardly joyful side mixed with a disturbing underbelly just feels so true.
The colony (and this came up in The Savages but why must Black never name things?) is a constant swarm of saccharine songs all about how wonderful it is to blindly obey control. At one point we hear a cheer of "let them know, let them know/let them know they're happy!" and the idea of having to tell someone that they're happy is so perfectly dystopian. Control himself is represented by a static image on a video screen and a commanding voice, presented in a way that hints at the colony's darker side.
I think this story really allows the 2nd Doctor to shine in ways he hasn't previously. The interstellar Charlie Chaplin thing works really well in opposition to this big shiny false utopia he finds himself in. There's a unique joy that you get from watching the Second Doctor break things, and he gets to break a lot of things in this story. He even voices what is arguably one of the first attempts at a philosophy for the show at one point: "Bad laws were made to be broken."
This is the first real story Jamie gets. While he was present in the background of the last two stories, his last minute introduction meant that we was never properly written in. But in The Macra Terror, Ian Stuart Black gets the first crack at really developing what will become an iconic Doctocompanion relationship. Jamie just works with the Second Doctor, far better than Ben does in my opinion. Even at a pretty early stage, the comedic back and forth between the two is already taking shape.
Jamie also gets some solid solo moments, his bravery, already well-established as his most consistent character trait at this stage, shines through a lot here, as he ends up heading off on his own multiple times. His trek through the forbidden areas gives us our first really meaningful clues as to what's going on. He also gets one of the show's funniest moments when accidentally roped in to performing a dance for the colony's cheer squad and performs the "Highland Fling", which naturally ends with the performer flinging themself out of a door.
Polly seems to have settled into a role as the Doctor's research assistant after The Moonbase (shame this is her final full story then). She doesn't do a whole lot in this story but does have a few good moments bouncing off of the 2nd Doctor.
I should note at this juncture that Ben and Polly find their roles from The War Machines essentially reversed. In that story Polly was brainwashed early and Ben was desperately trying to get her out of it. Polly at one point finds herself waiting to report Ben's escape until after its completed. Here we get that flipped with Ben the only one of our heroes who gets brainwashed successfully (the Doctor destroyed the brainwashing equipment, naturally). Ben saves Jamie from being found out stealing a key rather than Polly but the effect is essentially the same, especially since Jamie is so suspicious of Ben that Polly has to stick up for him. Ben does get some redemption by being the only one free at the end to be responsible for blowing all the Macra up with their own gas.
And, okay we've gotten this far and had essentially nothing but praise. So, what's wrong with this story? Well, I think the story's big flaw is something that hasn't completely survived the junkings policy – the Macra props. We do of course have images of the things, but we don't have a ton of footage of them in action. We do have Frazier Hines' description of them though – he called them "rubbish". As for the video footage we do have? Honestly, I think they look okay. I think the biggest problem which we can't really appreciate without a full episode, is that they're so bulky and immobile. Also it's worth noting that only a single Macra was built for the episode, meaning that they just never get to be an impressively massed force, although the animation essentially papers over that flaw. On a smaller note, I do think the ending is a bit rushed. While not nearly as severe as The Savages, since at least we're not leaving behind a companion and hoping they can solve racism, it does feel like the final episode kind of races towards the ending a bit.
Let's finish by talking about the colony characters. I quite liked Medok who, after our heroes initially help capture him, turns into their primary ally until his death in episode 3. There's not much to say about him, but he does represent a sort of triumph of free will – until we see how the colony squashes that free will. The Pilot (no actual name given) is perhaps a better expression of free will triumphing, as he does eventually break free of the conditioning (notably, the Doctor broke the mind control equipment in his room as well). Before that though he's used as a representative of the colony's friendly exterior. He's always kind and polite, but it really is just surface level. Ola is in charge of colony security. He seems like a nasty piece of work, but it's kind of unclear how much of that comes down to the brainwashing.
The Macra Terror is a really strong story. I am slightly curious what I'd think of it based on the original – how much do those giant immobile crab props detract from the story? – but I think that the story itself is strong enough to overcome any effects deficiencies.
Score: 9/10

The Reconstruction

Stray Observations

Next Time: Let's see what science fiction tropes haven't we covered yet…shapeshifters? Yeah that'll do.
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2022.12.20 17:57 hjello_jello Crossword is a classic GROND denier 🥱😔🤨 “Maidenhair Leaf” sure is a weird way to spell THE WOLFS HEAD

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2022.11.22 03:50 kerry_lusignan The Edge of Hope: Reflections on Regret for a Marriage in Crisis

The Edge of Hope: Reflections on Regret for a Marriage in Crisis

IMAGINE HOLDING A crystal ball that could reveal your marriage’s fate in ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Picture yourself gazing into the smokey orb while asking a series of questions: Will I be happy if I stay? Will my problems follow me if I leave? Is our marriage doomed to contempt, devoid of kindness, and forever riddled with blame no matter what we do?
At their core, such questions deal with regret and how it pertains to a relationship in crisis. They seek to discern the cost of taking action versus staying put. They are powerful because they poke at our hopes, fears, and, most importantly, the unknowable.
As a relationship expert, I suspect the fear of regret informs our decision to stay or leave an ailing marriage and influences our willingness to risk. Marital strife is a tempest of confusing emotions. We can feel utterly paralyzed or steeped in self-righteous indignation. We can hover on hope’s edge but opt to no longer risk connection. We can feel tired and defeated. If children are involved, the stakes are exceptionally high, and so, understandably, we can (also) feel conflicted. Whether to end one’s marriage is arguably one of the most challenging decisions many of us will make in our lifetime. The ramifications of staying versus leaving loom large, and it is normal to feel paralyzed. So I wonder, what can regret psychology teach us about marital crossroads where we contemplate severing a marriage and dissolving our vows? More pointedly, when we envision our future selves leaving our marriage once the kids are grown or signing on for the long haul despite years of gridlock or a lack of intimacy, might these contemplations have a ripple effect? Maybe imagining our future selves in potentially regretful scenarios causes us to dress-rehearse for tragedy and sets the stage for self-fulfilling prophecies that ultimately lead us asunder. Maybe imagining we have few options and fearing we are inherently unlovable commits us to a cozy yet banal existence?
When we distill it down, the question seems simple: Will taking action in my relationship cause it to change for the better or worse? But here is the rub, what is taking action? Is staying in an unhappy marriage and choosing to work on your relationship action? Is leaving your marriage action? What about doing nothing? Is that a case where non-action is a form of action in itself?
When left untended, marital problems eventually become a Gordian knot. The moments where we can successfully minister to our partner’s feelings with a few kind words, a hug, or a gesture of kindness become increasingly rare, complicated, and ineffective. For seemingly inexplicable reasons, healing from past hurts or recalling fond memories feels impossible. So, (understandably), we begin to believe that healing our marriage is not attainable, that the relationship has gone bad, and that maybe it is better to part ways — to spare our partner of oneself or oneself of one’s partner.
This is the land of negative sentiment override (NSO), a term coined by Dr. John Gottman, which speaks to the tendency toward viewing our partner and the history of our relationship through a darkened lens. It is a symptom as much as a state. Characterized by a loss of hope, our memories, once imbued with fondness, get recast in our mind’s eye and become concealed by gloom.
NSO is, in essence, a cumulative byproduct of missed opportunities for connection: sliding door moments, where we turn away (and against) junctures that necessitated our care and presence — we neglect to ask about the biopsy, forget to say we’ll be late, or dismiss the melancholy expression on our partner’s face — again and again. If you are here, you are likely exhausted, lonely, and wondering if relationships are supposed to be this much work. You may even be tempted to deal with your marital gridlock decisively and with force. The big red button called DIVORCE is flashing in your mind’s eye, and your fingertip is quivering. Most of us manage to abstain (until we don’t) from pushing that button. After all, it is far easier to remain in a known hell than to venture into unknown heaven. Intuitively, we sense that shaking up the status quo involves taking risks, and risk almost always equals uncertainty — which our brains are wired to loathe — so we bide our time.
To complicate matters, relationships can appear to pivot from acceptable to not overnight, leaving a relatively short window of opportunity between commitment and filing for divorce. According to Gottman’s research, the average couple waits six years from the onset of a problem to initiate couples therapy, and half of the marriages that end in divorce do so within the first seven years. It seems hindsight is where we recognize that all the signs were there: that gut feeling we chose to ignore, the comment we swept under the rug. A relationship has its seasons, and I am talking about the cusp of autumn — the time of year when we have an almost preternaturally-like ability to sense the shift in seasons. Before we glimpse that first gold leaf contrasted against a field of green, nature whispers that change is coming, and we feel it in our bones. It is what Joan Didion speaks to in her memoir, Blue Nights — the gloaming, a window when the days shimmer brightly and, at the same time, begin to dwindle so subtly that we do not see the harbinger of what is yet to come. Winter.
Relationships are like that. We miss the rising water, the sea change on the horizon, and the cusp of catastrophe just beyond. By the time we sense trouble, we are submerged, drowning. Research on the psychology of regret shows that most of us suppress, distort, and quash many of our daily regrets without ever even realizing them. What remains (and continues to haunt us) is a smaller subset of regrets, which has me wondering if the quashing of regret goes hand-in-hand with an allergy to hope. Perhaps we cannot feel disappointed if we never dare to dream, so we silently relinquish our dreams and wash our hands of hope. We make deals in dimly lit alleyways, our subconscious momentarily appeased. We sign the dotted line and remain in marriages that are lifeless but inhabitable. So, I ask you this: what would it feel like to hope?
The Dilemma of Choice
In our culture, we tend to think that a life well lived is a life brimming with choice. All we need do is search on Amazon for shampoo to discover a staggering array of options. Similarly, this illusion of abundance applies to humans. Online dating sites seem to intuit a plethora of perfect matches, social media platforms entice us with fleeting connections, and professional networking sites purport myriad ways we can increase our status and clout. But the research on regret claims otherwise. It asserts there is an underbelly to perceiving our options as limitless. It contends that having many choices comes at a cost, something researchers Roese and Summerville (2005) coined the Opportunity Principle.
In What We Regret Most — and Why the authors assert that our feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment are most significant when we believe we had opportunities to take corrective action and do things differently but passed. In other words, we find ourselves at life’s critical junctures — moments when we can play it safe or take a chance, and overwhelmingly, the research suggests we are filled with regret when we believe we could have taken a different path but opted out. It is an unsettling idea; the notion that it is not the knockdown, drag-out fights, or even an affair that ruptures a relationship. Instead, invisible forces conspire — all the words never said, the gestures never made, the moments we quietly turned away — each accumulates into a montage of memories littered with regret.
This is the power of the road not taken — the birthplace of remorse. It hints at the notion that merely believing we have few options results in our playing it safe and maintaining the status quo. To assert one’s disappointments or draw boundaries with a belligerent spouse; to cease being codependent and stop enabling an addicted partner; to risk showing sadness when we habitually default to anger or shutting down requires a belief in something more. That belief might be in one’s inherent lovability, warts, and all. It might manifest as gentle acceptance and quiet humility, trusting in forces bigger and more significant than oneself. Whatever it is, there is no denying that it is damn hard to muster. We are naturally cautionary creatures inhabiting a culture that promotes scarcity and abundance. How do we rally courage when we live in a world where a new mate, better shampoo, or more meaningful career are just a mouse click away and yet remain eternally elusive?
Implicit in the opportunity principle is the assertion that we are in a double bind regarding our heart’s affairs. On the one hand, believing we have options and are worthy of love and belonging — at its best — can spur us to take action, like insisting that a negligent partner give us equal regard, accept influence, and lose their contempt. To paraphrase Brené Brown, when we arrive at a place where we understand that love and belonging — our worthiness — is a birthright and not something we have to earn, anything is possible. Yet, on the other hand, some of us default to a crisis of commitment prematurely; we chronically threaten the relationship; carry a misplaced assumption of overall blame, and have a distorted sense that abundance lies elsewhere.
Failures of Boldness
In Brown’s interview with Dan Pink, author of The Power of Regret, she and Pink assert that over time, we tend to regret more what we did not do versus what we did do; that regrets of inaction are far more common than regrets of action. This aligns with the research on regret, showing it to be temporal by nature. It makes sense. Memory is not static. In life, we constantly add new information and experience to our understanding of who our partners, relationships, and selves are. Hence, our insight into the implications of our actions (and non-actions) evolves and is (a lifelong) work in progress.
Think of life as a book and its different phases as chapters. Moments, where we fail to act, are akin to missing pages and leave us grappling with something regret psychology calls counterfactual thinking. CFT refers to our tendency to create possible alternatives to events that have already occurred. We imagine something contrary to what happened and inhabit a landscape of if-only. If only I had apologized sooner. If only I had communicated honestly or restrained from sending that text. Interestingly, CFT also correlates with shame and an absence of self-compassion, both traits that undermine empathy, connection, and living wholeheartedly.
We most commonly regret situations where we fail to be kind, courageous, and bold. The moments where we remained a bystander in the arena of life, opting to trick ourselves into believing we can pass on vulnerability — only to find ourselves facedown in the dirt of regret and the muck of if-only years later.
When sitting at the crux of an irrevocable choice, perhaps the most essential question we can ask is will we regret an action later, and if so, how might we regret it?
If this is true, perhaps the best we can do is to create a list of everything we don’t know about our future life. Then notice what comes to mind when we envision different scenarios. Picture your seventy-five-year-old self in a decades-old relationship — a marriage identical to the one you have now. Imagine you did nothing and played it safe. What benefits and losses transpired by maintaining the status quo? Did the gains outweigh the cost? Were you courageous? Were you kind? Repeat this thought experiment by envisioning what occurred in your marriage when you ceased doing business as usual, insisted on equal regard, and ran headlong into heartbreak. Does your future self live a rich and meaningful life even if the marriage ends? Notice how each scenario makes you feel. Ask yourself what love is — what a good-enough relationship is. Is it okay to want more than good enough? Write down everything you associate with a healthy relationship and list these qualities in order of importance. Have the most meaningful aspects of love come easily to you? What does it mean to have to work on a relationship? What does it mean when the work of a relationship is letting it go?
ONE OF MY favorite television series, The Umbrella Academy, is a science fiction fantasy about seven dysfunctional siblings born with supernatural abilities who come together to prevent the impending apocalypse. Like all good dystopic fiction, the series explores themes, including time travel and the consequences of one’s actions. My favorite character, simply called Number 5, is a 58-year-old time traveler stuck inside the body of his 13-year-old self (a casualty he incurred resulting from an accidental time jump). In season three, Number 5 encounters a future, eighty-something version of himself dying and entombed in a cylindrical chamber. As the old Number 5 takes his final breaths, expending his last bits of energy, he instructs his younger self not to save the world. Given young 5’s primary purpose has been to stop the apocalypse, this shakes him to the core, and haunted by the words of his future self, he grapples with whether to act or take heed. He can anticipate his regrets, which gives him the wisdom of hindsight. The world is going to end. Will he sit this one out?
In many ways, our relationships are our world. No crystal ball can guide us when we sit on hope’s edge, contemplating our marriage’s fate. But the research on regret offers us a compass. It cautions us of the toll incurred when we remain passive bystanders in a marriage. It emphasizes the significance of making crucial life decisions informed equally by our imagined future selves, the felt urgency of now, and the lessons from the past. It argues for the merits of balancing hindsight with foresight. More than anything, it serves as a cautionary tale concerning mistaking any moment — no matter how big — for the entirety of our story.
I suspect that a well-lived life is a life replete with regrets; we need not trick ourselves into believing otherwise. Rather, we can take a deep breath, shed the weight of no regrets, and set our sights on the lessons love continually throws our way. Because if we step away and look at the big picture — the kisses, knockdown drag-out fights, tears, and tender moments — it becomes easier to see that our marriages begin and end every day, as they always have and always will.
There are chances — to love better, love differently, and love well in life. Of this, we can be sure.
Thank you for reading my work. If you like what you have read or find yourself face down in the arena, join me for my next free upcoming webinar: Is My Marriage Worth Saving? An essential discussion about gaining clarity, courage, and skills in making one of the most challenging decisions of your life.
This article, written by NCCT’s Kerry Lusignan, was originally published by The Gottman Institute and republished with permission.
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2022.10.26 14:38 origamidreaming I am a 35 year-old lawyer in London making $377k, and really starting to enjoy cooking (1 year update)

All amounts are in US dollars, using google's exchange rate when I was typing this (I have income/assets/debt in the US, UK and Canada). Things might not add up perfectly due to rounding! I've previously written a money diary, if there's interest, and highlighted changes from last year.
⭐️Section One: Assets and Debt
My net worth is about $2m (pretty much flat from last year, I feel like I've continued saving a good chunk of my pay but the markets aren't doing well and I'm paid in pounds -- last year it was around £1 = $1.37, and now it's around £1 = $1.15.).
🔲Assets -- I own a 2-bed flat in Canada (my younger brother lives here rent free but pays for utilities/maintenance) and I live in a 1-bed in London with the Dog, the values below are the price I paid (so the change from this year and last is purely due to exchange rates fluctuating).
Type Amount Today Amount Last Year Notes
US IRA $252k $309k Tax-advantaged, rollover from 401(k)s
UK Pensions $118k $118k Tax-advantaged
UK ISA $70k $64k Tax-advantaged
General Investment Account $650k $629k Mostly Vanguard stock and bond ETFs
Vested Employer Equity $33k $100k Publicly traded
Canada Home Value $470k $525k Purchased 7 years ago
London Home Value $818k $975k Purchased 3 years ago
Cash $54k $63k
Type Amount Today Amount Last Year
Canada Mortgage $16k, I remortgaged last year $88k
London Mortgage $416k $575k
⭐️Section Two: Income
I've been a lawyer for 12 years -- first 5 at a big law firm in NYC ($165k starting salary + $7,500 bonus, and left with $230k salary + $70k bonus). Since then I've worked in-house at both a private company ($135k starting salary, no bonus, and now-underwater stock options) and now at a public company. It looks like a took a pay cut compared to last year, but it's just the exchange rate changing (my comp is roughly the same).
⭐️Section Three: Monthly Recurring Expenses
Type Amount Today Amount Last Year Notes
Mortgage Payments $2,200 // $350 $3,800 London // $2,800 Canada
Dog's Health Insurance $110 $90
Utilities $190 $150 gas, electricity, water
Council Tax $190 $150 paid for 10 months out of the year, not sure why council tax is like this in London
Internet & Cell $60 $75
Dental $35 $11 Healthcare is free; I pay for vision out of pocket
Donations $120 Not tracked previously Dog shelter and mental health support center
Other $35 $30 Apple storage, Amazon Prime, Spotify, NYT and Duolingo
⭐️Section Four: 7-Day Diary
1️⃣SUNDAY -- $114.91
Sunday, funday! I wake up at 8 but stay in bed to enjoy Dog cuddles, read my overnight texts, work on today's crossword puzzle, and scroll through instagram. Some good news and some bad -- good: a friend is pumped to run a half-marathon; bad: a friend just had major dental surgery. I send $51 in support of the charity run and order soup for the friend who's now unfortunately on a liquid diet ($35). At 10 am, I leave the house for an agility class with the Dog (this is the last session, paid two months ago) -- I take the tube there and back ($3.98). The Dog is a me-pleaser and food motivated, so training classes are a dream! On the way home, I buy a blueberry, banana and yogurt smoothie ($5) and eat it with leftover focaccia, cheddar and olives. I spend the rest of the day doing life admin (moving my out-of-season clothes into storage boxes, light vacuuming) and just manage to get to the grocery store before it closes at 5 -- $19.93 for toilet paper, tortelloni, nectarines, blueberries, tomatoes, tortilla chips and salsa. I make myself a salad with guacamole, tomatoes, tortilla chips, cucumbers, red onions and halloumi for dinner, finish the focaccia, and end the night with a face mask and paint my nails ("not red-y for bed" on the toes, "ballet slippers" on the fingers).
2️⃣MONDAY -- $16.71
I wake up at 8:30 and head into the office at 9 with the Dog, I'm very fortunate to be in a dog-friendly workplace and it's honestly the best perk. I take the tube there and back ($7.40). Breakfast is free (yogurt, cereal and a latte, my employer has continued to provide breakfast everyday in an effort to bring people back to the office). We don't have a mandatory return-to-work policy (yet) but I like to go in a few days every week to socialize and for a change of scenery. I take a break at 10 to walk the Dog for an hour in a nearby park. I buy some tomato soup, bread and a small bag of dried mango slices on the way back to the office for lunch ($9.31). I am in meetings from 2-5:30 and then leave for home at 6. London feels like it's coming back to life, but it's still not the same pre COVID. Despite it being rush hour, I am able to get a seat on the tube 90% of the time which is nice with the Dog. The Boy comes over at 8 after his workday ends and we order Thai delivery (pad kee mao, pad thai and spring rolls, he insists on paying as usual). He stays the night (also, as usual), we catch up on his holiday to Italy last week and I'm immediately dreaming of where to go next.
3️⃣TUESDAY -- $38.82
I wake us all up at 8:30 again. After some fun time, the Boy leaves for the gym at 9:30 and I do not... instead, I decide to be "productive" by buying pastries for the office ($31.42) - a few croissants, pain au chocolats and cinnamon buns. I take the tube there and back with the Dog ($7.40). I eat a cinnamon bun for breakfast and bring last night's leftover pad thai for lunch. I work pretty much non-stop from 10-6 in the office, other than a few tea and coffee breaks. I then relocate home and take another call from 7-8, video off so that I can use up my leftovers (I make some fried rice with broccoli and eat all the blueberries). I spend the night rewatching Jerry Maguire and playing with the Dog since we weren't able to go on a longer walk today.
4️⃣WEDNESDAY -- $42.98
I decide to work from home, waking up 30 minutes later yet starting work at 9 am -- the beauty of a 1 minute commute! I start with a bowl of oatmeal with honey and cranberries, then take a few meetings in the morning while doing laundry. At noon, I take the Dog for a one-hour park walk with a detour to our local farmers market for fresh pappardelle, rocket, parsley, bay leaf, oranges, blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes, anchovy fillets, parmesan, broccoli and mince meat (both beef and pork) ($42.98). I spend 30 minutes cooking a meat ragu with the shopping haul supplemented by my pantry (then leave it to simmer for 3 hours) and work until 7 pm, I eat a bunch of fruit for dinner as I've been snacking all day (does eating spoonfuls of pasta + sauce count as snacking?).
5️⃣THURSDAY -- $7.40
I make breakfast at home (a pseudo-egg mcmuffin with salsa) with a large mug of tea. I then head out at 8:30 but take a 30 minute detour so that the Dog gets some time in the park ($7.40 tube ride there and back). Lunch is provided by my employer today (chicken caesar salad). At 6, I end up going to the pub with some colleagues (free in the sense that someone else bought the rounds, I'll get one next time). I decide to leave early at 8 and head to the Boy's place, he makes me a gin & tonic, and we order sushi for dinner (he pays). We fall asleep after some fun time and a few episodes of Ted Lasso (I just started, no spoilers please!).
6️⃣FRIDAY -- $230.48
I take a leisurely 30 minute walk back in the morning with the Dog and just make it in the door at 9 when my cleaner arrives ($69.73 including tip). I work until 6, with a break for the Dog to get a second walk and a lunch break for me (BLT sandwich, tea and some defrosted berries), and then head to a local charity shop to eye a bag I've been interested in for awhile. I decide to buy it ($160.75), feels a bit expensive but the condition is immaculate and the price is less than half of retail. The Boy comes over to my place this time, and we half cook (roasted courgettes and asparagus, plus a rocket salad) and boil some pasta with Wednesday's leftover ragu.
7️⃣SATURDAY -- $52.01
My body is super predictable. I wake everyone up at 8:30, feed the Dog and then hop back into bed. We both sleep in, have some fun time, and then head out for brunch at noon with the Dog (I get eggs benedict and a mimosa, we split some bacon, the Dog gets a free biscuit from the restaurant, he pays) followed by a walk in Hampstead Heath. We stop by my favorite coffee shop -- pumpkin spice latte for me, hot chocolate for him ($7.80, I pay for both of us). It's a surprisingly beautiful day so we stay at the park longer than expected and attempt to solve the New York Times' Saturday puzzle together (spoiler: absolute failure). We drop the Dog at home, and the Boy comes with me to the grocery store ($44.21) because I'm feeling lazy and want fresh food but don't want to carry it: lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, nectarines, lemons and limes, coriander, rapeseed oil, cheddar, almonds, pizza dough, rotisserie chicken, butternut squash, cucumber, tortilla chips, rocket, jazz apples, and cauliflower. He then heads off to a boys night and I go to yoga class ($9.50). For dinner, I make myself a caesar salad, catch up on podcasts, and call it an early night!
💰TOTAL -- $512.81
This was a pretty standard week for me other than the gifts (apart from the two monthly charities that I support, I don't budget for gifts or donations; I give ad hoc throughout the year when things come up and then set aside a portion of my spring bonus to "top up"), the bag (I'm trying to compromise on my desire to consume goods by buying gently used where it makes sense) and the cleaner (she comes roughly once every 3-5 weeks, not once a week). I also spend on average $50 per month on the Dog on top of insurance, although that varies quite a bit (with some months no spend at all) depending on when she runs out of things.
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2022.10.26 05:55 StubbornDrakon [Reaper] An Ancient Path: Chapter 3

When the tunnel ended, it didn’t open up as broadly as Lindon had expected. Instead of a huge room, he found himself at the juncture between five other tunnels, all similar to the first. The ceiling was barely over his head, and the rock looked like it had been chewed to a sharp edge. The air here sizzled even more strongly than outside until it felt like insects crawled over every inch of his exposed skin.
The moment they arrived, footsteps like drumbeats approached, along with a sullen glow the colour of live embers. Lindon clenched and unclenched his fists, cycling his madra in preparation for a fight, and kept his mind on the dagger in his pocket.
But what good would any of that do against a dragon?
“Bid welcome,” Eithan announced, “to the last great descendant of Serpent’s Grave.”
A massive black shape shouldered its way through the tunnel like a man pushing through a tight doorway. It turned blazing eyes on Lindon: they were inky pools of darkness, with a circle of furious red where the iris should be.
The skin of the creature’s reptilian head was cracked and leathery, pure black, and clusters of blazing embers burned on its back.
By the light it carried with it, Lindon saw the creature clearly.
“Is this...is this what a dragon looks like?” Lindon whispered.
“A dragon? No, no, I said it was a descendant of dragons.” Eithan threw out a hand in presentation. “Orthos is clearly a magnificent turtle.”
Lindon had wondered if the shadows were playing tricks on his eyes.
Orthos was a massive black turtle, the peak of his shell rising as high as Lindon’s head. He was as long across as a horse but thrice as wide, and his squat body looked heavy enough to sink a ship. The facets of his shell glowed sullen red around the edges, and black smoke rose from him in hazy waves.
He locked eyes with Lindon, growling like an avalanche. Lindon cycled desperately, pulling his dagger into sweaty hands, ready to dive behind the column in the center of the chamber.
Orthos’ mouth dropped open, his jaw gaping so wide it looked unnatural, and smoky red light began to rise up his throat.
“Some days are better than others,” Eithan said, stepping between Lindon and the draconic turtle. “He recognizes me on occasion, and will even guide my servants through the tunnels. But other times...”
Black fire billowed out of the turtle’s mouth, filling the walls with oppressive heat and a prickling so sharp it became painful. Lindon’s eyes watered, and he pushed himself against the column of stone.
Eithan swiped his hand in a single gesture, blasting the Blackflame madra apart like a gust of wind tearing through a cloud. “Be polite, Orthos. You have a guest.”
The light in the turtle’s eyes turned orange, like a living flame, and he roared his defiance. Lindon dropped the halfsilver dagger to the ground in his haste to clap hands over his ears.
And Eithan moved forward, shoving the sacred beast’s mouth closed with both hands. The roar cut off with a snap.
“I know it is difficult,” Eithan said, his nose inches from the turtle’s. “But gather yourself and hear me. A boy has come to train here. He is one of the family. He will be my student.” Orthos struggled but couldn’t escape the implacable grip of the Underlord. “He could help us, do you understand?”
Orthos’ eyes finally moved up to Eithan’s, and crimson irises dimmed into a look of helpless confusion.
Finally, the turtle growled once, and Eithan released him. “I’m sorry for getting rough. If this works as I intend, you could both learn from one another.”
“Bond…” the sacred beast said in a voice like a rumbling volcano.
Despite Lindon’s encounters with Elder Whisper, it still surprised him to hear a six-foot turtle speak.
Evidently, that one word exhausted Orthos’ energy because his eyelids fluttered and then slid closed. He sank down onto his belly, letting out a breath like a furnace.
“That’s the plan,” Eithan said, patting the leathery head. The turtle slowly rose to his feet. “Well, Lindon, go on. Limitless power and only likely death await.”
Lindon wanted to walk forward, but the creature’s sheer size, overwhelming heat, and the uncomfortable needle-prickling of destruction aura kept him where he was. “Is this still my choice?”
“Certainly. You have a choice between sharing the power of an ancient dragon-beast or, instead, spending three hours a day in meditative cycling until you can begin to touch the faintest whiff of destruction madra, and then still run the risk of it killing you.”
Lindon stepped forward and placed his hand on Orthos’s head. The turtle’s skin was rough and craggy, like a mixture between scale and volcanic rough. He was hot to the touch, but more disturbing was the mild sensation that Lindon’s skin was slowly eroding away by sheer proximity to the destructive power of the sacred beast.
His madra slipped into Orthos with no resistance- one advantage of pure madra. Orthos’ madra was black and blood-red twined together, dark and hungry, like a malevolent wildfire. Lindon almost broke contact immediately; the turtle’s spirit was so overwhelming and unrestrained that he was sure it would consume his madra instantly.
Black eyes filled with circles of shining red swivelled up, meeting Lindon.
“It’s not a complicated technique,” Eithan said. “Swear to share your core with him, and to accept his power in return.” After another second, he added, “I’ve found that saying it aloud helps the process. That goes for you, too, Orthos.”
“I swear to open my core to you and share my power,” Lindon said, though he was ashamed to hear his voice quaver a little. The hand on Orthos’ head was starting to get uncomfortably hot.
Orthos’ mouth slid open. Thick, inky flames gathered in the back of his throat, streaked with bloody red.
Eithan moved forward. Lindon took a step back, half-lifting his hand away from the sacred beast’s head.
“I swear,” the turtle thundered in a voice that slammed into Lindon’s ears.
A stream of pure madra flowed from his strongest core, sucked away beyond his control. Lindon stumbled back, releasing his touch, but the bond between their souls did not break. Instead, Orthos drank in his power until the core was almost empty.
Then a black-and-red river plunged into Lindon, burning through his madra channels like molten iron through his veins. It didn’t hurt nearly as much as he felt it should have; the worst part wasn’t pain; it was the feeling that his spirit was burning up. Crisping and blackening like a leaf in a fire. That he was dying, hollowed out.
Everything that was Lindon was burning away. Fire and destruction madra surged into Lindon in incredible quantities, and he instantly forgot everything Eithan had told him about separating madra. He would be lucky to survive this with a Blackflame core, let alone one of pure destruction. However, Eithan was not going to give up so easily.
“Heart of Twin Stars! Now!”
Eithan’s words shook Lindon out of the abject horror of seeing his core burn with black fire. He dropped into a lotus position and began to cycle as the record back in Sacred Valley had instructed. Just as he had done when splitting his core, he envisioned his core splitting like a river, flowing in two directions, madra cycling inward and outward rather than collecting in his core. This time, however, he imagined pans in his spirit, sifting through madra like Foundation children used to pan for fish or crystals in Sacred Valley’s rivers.
It only worked because of the vast difference between fire and destruction madra. Until now, Lindon would have assumed that they felt similar, but where fire madra was ferocious and hungry, racing to fill every space it had access to, the destruction madra was a roiling tempest, an all-consuming hungry Void that hummed and stung with the force to reduce anything it came into contact with to nothingness. Though only seconds passed outside Lindon’s soul, he felt like he had spent our holding back a tide of destruction madra while allowing fire to pass through. Rather than splitting this core into a second, he began to cycle the fire madra towards his hands, pushing it out like a clumsily assembled Striker technique. He shot to his feet as furious spurts of reddish Blackflame spurted from Lindon’s body, but as the seconds passed, he grew more proficient at this excruciating madra separation. The fire flowing out of him grew redder and redder, tinged with orange and yellow, tongues of blue and white flickering out. The technique of a pure fire Path.
It hurt more than any pain Lindon had ever felt. More than Li Markuth tearing his body apart. More than the process of attaining the Sandviper body. The madra channels in his hands and feet strained like reeds used to drain the ocean, and his skin seared and blackened. He felt his Iron body activate, but it was a patchwork fix at best. Lindon couldn’t take much more of this. But he would.
Either this would work, or the dark fire would burn him to ash.
Eithan watched the two of them with hands on his hips. Orthos and Lindon were both screaming, though he doubted either heard it, and jets of fire speared out of Lindon’s limbs, lifting him off his feet and melting through grooves in stone. The aura of the place had gone wild, making this cave an oven and steadily devouring anything inside. A Copper who stepped inside this place would have the air scorched from their lungs as their skin crisped and blackened. As he saw the fire emanating from Lindon turn pure, he allowed himself a small smile. The boy was doing it, and the world should be afraid. But now, now came the true test. He had neglected to tell Lindon about this step, fearing the boy would be so anxious that the process failed. But now, he yelled out.
“Lindon, you need to listen to me. You’re doing well, but half of the madra you’re being given isn’t enough for what we need. You need to push the boundaries of your core. Heaven and Earth Purification Wheel! NOW!” His Underlord lungs shook the cavern’s walls, and Lindon heard him.
Screaming with agony, Lindon despaired. He was barely holding back the tide of destruction madra, barely letting the fire madra escape without killing him instantly, and now… to move the Wheel. It was enough to tempt Eithan to give up and die. But he had made a promise to Eithan. He would not fail.
Visualizing the stone wheel, keeping the madra sifts where he can constructed them, he began to rotate it. It was five, ten, twenty times as difficult as normal. Every rotation of the Wheel made Lindon want to go back to the pleasant experience of having Sandviper venom coursing through his veins. But, like a spindle gathering string, every agonizing spin of the Wheel drew in more madra.
As fire poured out of Lindon’s body, and the Purification Wheel pushed the boundaries of Lindon’s core outwards, the destruction madra he was cultivating grew denser, purer.
It occurred to Lindon that attempting this process with another type of madra might be genuinely impossible, as even with his newfound skill at separating the fire and destruction, there were still traces of fire madra left over. But as Lindon’s core grew blacker and blacker with destruction, it destroyed the impurities within itself, consuming them, annihilating everything but that which contributed to the entropic surge.
But the flow of madra never wavered or stilled. Outside Lindon’s soul, Eithan sensed the balance the boy had achieved and smiled. He was still in agony, of course, but the screaming had stopped, and the Underlord watched as a slow grin spread across Lindon’s face as he felt the formation of a stable destruction core. Now that the core had reached a critical mass of destruction madra, the newly injecting fire madra was being partially consumed but mostly splashing off into the channels Lindon had constructed for it. How hands and feet looked like burnt chicken skin, but his soul resonated with power.
Now, for the most difficult part. “Lindon, I need you to listen to me. You’re performing wonderfully. The destruction core has reached the point where separating it from the fire is eas- well, not easy, but easier. You’re ready for the final step.”
At this, Lindon let out an audible groan of pain, disbelief, and exasperation, but Eithan persisted.
“Right now, Lindon, you have a pure destruction core. That’s a feat in and of itself, destruction Paths are rare and hard to develop to this level of purity, mostly because of the rarity of aura. But that isn’t Hollow King madra. I need you to do something for me, and I need you to do it without questioning why. You need to do it without hesistation or doubt or it will destabilize your core and kill you. But you can do it, and if you do… you’ll have done something only one person ever has. Now, you need to keep sifting the madra and cycling the Purification Wheel, and you cannot, under any circumstances, let up. Now, at the same time, you need to press down on your core. Compress it, will it to grow denser, smaller.”
Lindon’s expression changed for a moment, and then he let out a shout of agony. “It’s… it’s not possible, Eithan.”
“Yes!” Eithan shouted, a tinge of manic joy entering his features. “It is impossible! The Wheel pushes the boundaries of your core out, and new madra is flooding in. It’s utterly impossible to compress your core under these conditions. Now do it.”
And Lindon did. Pressing down on his core like he did during the transition to Copper, Lindon wrestled against himself, against his own cycling technique. It was agonizing and useless and created no tangible effect he could see or feel other than making him feel like a wet rag used to wring out Blackflame by the dragon he had seen in Suriel’s vision of Northstrider. It hurt… so badly. His will fought against itself, but slowly, he felt it deepening.
His destruction core stopped roiling, the all-consuming tempest of black madra stilling as Lindon infused something into it he couldn’t directly perceive. It was impossibly difficult, but Lindon began to notice a change in the nature of his madra. His black core began to gleam like armour, a solid sphere of destruction madra so dense it almost seemed to hum and tug on every other part of Lindon’s soul. It was now larger than his other pure core, but not by much, and yet it felt immensely more powerful.
Lindon had no way to describe this change other than as all-consuming. He stared into a void, a well of destruction so deep it consumed everything, his pain, his struggle, his perception of the outside world. With nothing but will, he polished his destruction madra until it gleamed with dark light and shone with the consistency of a black liquid metal. It almost reminded Lindon of Suriel’s armour, condensed into a sphere. It was… awe-inspiring.
Eithan stared with joy and awe and a small amount of surprise. He had known that Lindon could do this but… to see it again. It… no. Best not to even think about it. He let out a whoop of joy and then moved to stand underneath Lindon’s floating body, still held aloft by jets of fire. A quick activation of his Hollow Armour ensured that the unfocused fire madra couldn’t even inconvenience him and that he was prepared to catch Lindon when- ah, there it was.
Lindon stopped screaming as the inflow of madra from Orthos stopped. He felt like a rag that had been rung dry, but his spirit soared. His core of destruction- no, of Hollow King madra, rotated slowly without his direction, gleaming like a dark star of liquid energy. He was Jade.
Then he promptly fell unconscious. Eithan caught him.
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