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Wings of Freedom - Part 12

2023.05.28 17:52 Cheesypower Wings of Freedom - Part 12

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Even almost a week later, Yegel was still soaring on the hope from that day. A weight on his eyes that he'd never even noticed had been lifted, leaving him more alert and awake, the whole world more vibrant and colorful.
Of course, the morning after had brought clarity- and an additional helping of stress. Having had the time to calm down and examine it, he was realizing that the fact he now saw humans as people was dangerous- especially with such an important and dangerous screening coming up. If he accidentally sympathized too much in one place, or had a reaction that he would never have had before...
...He still couldn't bring himself to regret it though. Even the fading of his emotional high hadn't erased what felt like an important revelation- that he no longer thought of humans as predators with interesting quirks, but as real, actual people, with true empathy and sapience. They were still predators, still alien in ways he couldn't understand- but now, that didn't feel like the same kind of impenetrable barrier that it used to be.
Still, now he had to be even more careful going forward- regardless of it being the truth, nobody else would believe him about a predator species being fully sapient and civilized. If anything, trying to convince anyone would get him institutionalized- and he was already fighting far too hard to keep himself out of those nightmare-makers for as long as he could manage. At least with humanity being extinct, the topic was unlikely to come up, but he hadn't made it this far in life without preparing for even the unlikely.
Caution was still warranted though, and so he'd been spending his time preparing and watching the manifests for incoming ships- so when he saw a group of scowling figures approaching him from behind at lunchtime, it was less of a shock and more the realization of inevitability.
Exterminators. Just what he needed to deal with today.
Sighing quietly, he fought down the rising panic and instinctive urge to run, and instead pretended not to notice the approaching officers- running never did any good, and trying to fight back or protest would lead to... retaliation.
Their timing was just the worst though- he'd been looking forward to having lunch with his friends, and taking a chance to decompress and relax. He'd been meticulous so far this week at maintaining his stress- other than his newfound indulgence in forbidden predator media- so it wasn't like he was scrambling to calm down. However, he really could use every bit of patience and composure he could get.
The grasping hands roughly pulling him out of the lunch-line, however, clearly didn't care about that, immediately starting to goosestep him through the cafeteria, regardless of the whispers and stares now coming their way.
"Lieutenant Yegel," a vaguely-familiar voice barked harshly as he was shoved forward, "your presence is required immediately. You are coming with us."
A bit late to give him a warning, wasn't it? Especially since he wasn't resisting in the first place. It was just theater to them- reciting something because they were supposed to, despite the outcome having already been determined. It was better to just not antagonize them-
"You know," he couldn't stop himself from saying, "If you wanted a date, you could have just a-"
A massive fist slammed into him, burying itself beneath his ribcage. The words died in his throat as all his air was forcefully expelled, his talons leaving the ground as he bent double over the grey three-toed paw.
"Quiet, predator," the Takkan ground out, slowly removing his forelimb from where it had been buried in Yegel's gut. "you'll only talk if our boss deigns to let filth like you waste our air, got it?"
Wheezing in reply, Yegel fought to try and recover the air that had been forcefully driven out of him, the exterminators yanking him by his wings and dragging him onwards. Perhaps it was good that he hadn't eaten yet- nothing there to have upchucked other than the vile spittle now burning at his tongue.
Guess he must be a new transfer, Yegel thought offhandedly, glancing up to see them approaching a familiar eating area. That would be a useful distraction from the main threat. Fighting down the pain through bitter familiarity, Yegel did his best to relax his feathers and his mind- he'd need all of it for this next mental sparring match.
Ornate doors covered in intricate patterns were thoughtlessly slammed open as the Exterminators dragged him into the private eating area, the shift between industrial flooring and soft, luxurious padding making his dragging talons catch on the delicate textiles. Vibrantly detailed paintings hung amidst sprawling vines imported from Nishtal, cast in cool, fluorescent light that made their rich colorings shimmer as he was dragged by. Even the tables and chairs were carved in the old Krakotl fashions, padding clearly intended for nesting rather than the utilitarian perching of the seats in the mess-hall.
It wasn't perfect though- spots of dull gray industrial walls poked through gaps between the wood, and the carpet was peeling in places, revealing the dirty standard flooring beneath. Despite the valiant attempts, any further inspection made it clear that this was all inserted after this area had already been built- a veneer of elegance plastered over a crude, utilitarian base.
Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to indulge in the comfortable seating, instead receiving a sharp blow between his wings that pushed him to the ground, heavy feet planting themselves on his back and neck to pin him to the ground. Iron grips continued holding his wings, pulling them painfully above his back, where they felt moments away from getting dislocated. Dragging in a rasping breath, his eyes roved to the two exterminators now aiming their flamethrowers at him, a young krakotl female whose adult patterns hadn't even fully come in yet, and a grim-eyed Gojid with distinct scarring, who at least looked somewhat professional as opposed to his partner's obvious anger and twitching trigger.
"Oh, fer Intala's sake," a familiar wheezing voice groaned in exasperation. "Can't trust you Grucknut-heads with anything, can I?"
The Krakotl tottering into the room was puffing what rough, stringy feathers he had left in irritation, a walking cane thunking on the floor as he hobbled over to a table decorated in a carving of two krakotl in flight- though from this angle, it looked more like they were plummeting to the ground. The skin around the geezer's eyes was wrinkled and gathered into such heavy bags that he seemed to be squinting at all the world around him- though Yegel certainly didn't miss the cold, calculating glint buried deep within his eyes.
"Off!" He barked, clacking his way over to where Yegel was pinned, angrily thumping his cane against the very confused Exterminators pinning him down. "Off him, you nut-skulled lunks! Bad enough you can't remember simple instructions, now you make me correct your messes meself? Off I say!"
In the face of the irate elder, the befuddled Exterminator's grips on Yegel loosened, finally letting his wings fall slack enough to make his chest stop feeling like it was stuck in an industrial compressor. Gratefully sucking in air as his rapidly-bruising side twinged, he looked up to find the his crotchety savior kneeling next to him, one wing resting on his cane as he creakily settled into a crouch.
"Sorry about the fuss," he wheezed, flicking his tail angrily at the young krakotl who had been moving forward indignantly. "Ask them to invite somebody to mealtime, and they go and pull this." A shaking wing reached out, offering it's grip to Yegel. "Up you come, boy. I'll not have you eating off the floor like some animal."
Yegel eyed the shaking hand, before planting his wings on the ground, fighting through the pain until he'd pushed himself onto his talons through his own strength. A glimmer of something oily flashed behind the old man's squinting eyes as he watched the display, snorting in amusement when Yegel reached out and pulled the Elder to his feet instead.
"Wasn't much of a request," he commented, carefully ignoring the angry shuffling of the people he knew had flamethrowers trained on him. "I don't suppose you're just wanting to make another sales pitch, are you Geezil?"
"Hah!" the old man barked, toddling over to a cushioned seat, "Always so blunt, Yegel. Straight to business, every time!" The younger krakotl female stepped forward, gently helping the grumbling man into his seat, where he sighed and immediately settled back into the cushions. "Ah, don't worry, got more to say than the usual this time- but first, got a special something for our meal."
With a flick of his wing, he signaled several servers to quietly enter the room, carrying a wide array of dishes and platters that were quickly and efficiently distributed to the relevant tables- both for the old man and Yegel, and even for the other exterminators, who glanced warily between the food, Yegel, and the officer watching everything with a hawkish stare. None of them seemed brave enough to decide what to do- or to stop Yegel as he began moving forward.
Yegel carefully pulled out his own perch, keeping his own movements slow as he settled into the admittedly-luxurious seating. Commander Geezil, the one in charge of the base's Exterminators- and probably one of the oldest individuals still serving within that institution's ranks. He'd heard the rumors about this being an unofficial forced retirement- storing him someplace out of the way when they couldn't make him quit- but he'd come to know the old man too well to believe it. He'd chosen this post himself- and Yegel still couldn't figure out why.
"Sir," the young krakotl started, giving Yegel the stink-eye from across the table, "I must ask what you are doing- you are well aware that he's-"
"Accused, girl," the codger interrupted, frilling his feathers derisively, "by a bitter fleet commander with a record of incidents from his troops longer than his crew-lists- and a penchant for lashing out at those he thinks insulted him." Seeing her shrink back at his harsh tone, his tattered feathers smoothed back down, a shaking wing reaching out and gently patting her shoulder. "Ah, it's politics, grand-daughter- a vile game of inflated egos and pointless posturing. It's like a courtship dance with a Duerten- unpleasant, filled with angry words, with a result that's unpleasant regardless of success or failure- but if you try to skip out, you're liable to lose an eye or worse, hehe."
"Still," she insisted, though much more hesitantly now, her eyes not quite as harsh as they flicked over at him, "with a list of incidents this long, however justified, you must admit it is a clear sign of a violent, unstable nature. If he were to suddenly lash out..."
"I've personally reviewed each incident," the commander snorted, swirling an eating utensil through the bowl in front of him. "Didn't find a single one where he were in the wrong. Besides, were we really concerned about his mind, we got a perfectly good doctor right on-base." His gimlet eyes turned to Yegel, the corners of his beak turned up in a smirk. "You're familiar with her, of course?"
"Indeed," Yegel admitted, keeping his wings at his side despite the tightening of his stomach as the smells of the meal assaulted him. Everything the old man was saying was already known between them- and while it might be simply for the benefit of his new underling, Yegel knew better than to assume there wasn't a different, less obvious purpose. "I've been screened by her multiple times- just like the doctors back on Nishtal, got clear marks across the board."
Her expression was twisted, clearly unwilling to accept that but unable to think of an adequate rebuke for it. "All the same," she started, shifting her wings to roll the fuel tank for her flamethrower from side to side, "I'm uncomfortable with this- it's dangerous to be eating with a predator, especially alone. Just because we're in the room doesn't mean we'll be able to react in time."
The old man's features wrinkled as he scowled, beak half-open, when Yegel jumped on the opportunity. "Actually, I agree," he stated, taking a bit of mischievous glee in the way their expressions popped in shock. "I would feel much safer if someone was sitting with us, to keep me safe."
Beak dropping open, her gaping expression twisted between shock and indignation as she choked at such blatant disrespect- but whatever retribution she thought to unleash was cut short as the old krakotl burst into loud, wheezing laughter, his bony wings thumping against the table as he howled in glee, making the dishes rattle dangerously. His laughter echoed through the room, to the visible discomfort of every other exterminator, half of them sinking back down from where they'd half-risen from their seats.
"Cheeky to the last, you are!" he barked, clutching his chest as he giggled dry, crackling chortles. "Ah, you have a point- best you sit with us, my dear- get introduced with- with this handsome young fella. Yegel, this is Lialu, daughter of my firstborn, and as you can see, the unfortunate inheritor of the branch up his bum." Kalina squawked indignantly, raising a wing as if to smack his shoulder in retribution, but her eyes flicked to Yegel as she paused, slowly settling back into a tense at-ease stance. "You might be working together someday- and if things go well, maybe a little more than that, hehe!" The sour twisting of her cheeks showed exactly what she thought of that idea.
"I'm flattered," Yegel droned dryly, "but I think if she hasn't even gotten her adult patterns, then that's far too dangerous for me."
"As if I'd be interested in such a disgraceful troublemaker in the first place!" she snapped right back, wings half-raised in a gesture of disgust. "tarnishing my career so early would be pointless- and I have no interest in such distractions anyways!"
"Bah, you're fourteen already, better that you start looking for a partner now," the geezer griped, ignoring the way she rolled her eyes uncomfortably. "This work's dangerous, girl- you can't plan for the future as if it's guaranteed, or else you'll find you've missed out." His eyes went a bit glassy and unfocused, staring off into the walls in an melancholic reminiscence. "Regret's a heavy thing to bear, and the years are never kind..."
The two younger krakotl shifted uncomfortably as silence fell, glancing between each other uncomfortably as he lapsed into old memories only he could see. Yegel was silently thankful for the break- these gaps in the old man's train of thought were the only thing that made these conversations manageable.
Unfortunately, Yegel's stomach decided to interject by gurgling it's frustration at being empty, snapping the greying elder out of his thoughts as his gaze snapped across the table. Yegel fought back the urge to flinch, if only barely- and even that was enough for the old man's eye to sparkle with something that made Yegel's skin crawl beneath his feathers.
"Ah, I've been distracting you with my yammering, haven't I?" the Head Exterminator apologized, gesturing grandly towards the array of filled dishes. "Go on, eat up boy- you've got a busy day ahead of you after all!" His wrinkled wing-hand receded from gesturing, and patted the young female on the shoulder. "You too, grand-daughter- gotta keep your calorie intake up to maintain those muscles- gear's heavy, and always getting heavier!"
Whatever his tone and attitude might have suggested, Yegel already knew that it wasn't a request. Gritting his beak, he delicately scooped up a bowl of thick, viscous algae, and methodically poured some into his beak.
Silty and clinging to his tongue, Yegel knew intellectually that this was a high-quality blend- that the consistency and density of the meal spoke of great care taken in the growing, filtering, and preparation of this dish- completely unlike the usual clumpy, soil-tainted slop served in the cafeteria. It was the sort of dish that must be incredibly expensive, even ignoring how far they were from anywhere of any importance- a culinary treat most on the base would have fought fiercely for a chance to try.
Yet as he consciously swallowed it down and discreetly clinked the bowl down on the table, all his tongue could taste was ash and flamethrower-fuel.
"Good, isn't it?" Geezil prompted as his grand-daughter also set her own bowl back down. "Straight from Nishtal, that is, grown properly in the pools, instead of them techno-vats they got on this here base. Reminds me of when I met Laila, you know- or rather, when I first worked up the gumption to ask for her time..." The old man chuckled to himself, his eyes staring off into the distance once again. "Stars, she was beautiful- and me a strapping young lad, straight from academy- big-headed from training, yet a fumbling mess with the other sex. Took me far too long to even make a pass, and longer still to make it official- kept finding excuses, when I really was just scared she'd say no!"
Yegel suppressed the urge to sigh, and found himself sharing a commiserating look with the exterminator who clearly had been through this rambling story almost as often as he had. Maybe he'd entertain the idea of bonding with her over it, if only he wasn't painfully aware of how strongly she and her friends wanted to reduce him to a pile of charred carbon. At least he wasn't suffering alone.
"You know, we got some side-eyes because of our difference in age- I was a fresh recruit, and she had been in the service for twelve years," Geezil confided absentmindedly, a dreamy expression on his face even as his granddaughter blanched and leaned away. "Ah, but we made it fine, found our happiness- and you should too!" he shifted, refocusing on his two unwilling guests. "Ten years made no difference, and you've a difference of what, five years? Not even that!"
Yegel inhaled deeply, letting his chest fully expand as he held back the surge of emotion that would certainly have worn through the elder's patience if let loose. Releasing the air in a deep sigh, he wrangled himself back into a restrained, controlled frame of mind. "Is trying to play matchmaker with your grand-daughter the only reason you arranged this meeting, sir? Because I stand by my utter lack of interest in her."
"Ah, you know it's not, you stiffneck," the old man grumbled, shifting around in his seat as he picked through his own spread of food. "You're a perfect fit for the corps, and we both know it. You got enough fire in you to want to fix the rot in society when you see it, and a good head on your neck as well- just gotta give you the training to aim it right, if you know what I'm saying." His cane reached out and tapped Yegel on the side jovially- and Yegel winced as his bruised ribs ignited in fiery pain, unable to stop a strained hiss from escaping his beak as he bent in place from the automatic tightening of his muscles.
Immediately, the entire room fell deathly still. Where once the silence had been uncomfortable but tolerable and interspersed with the inane sounds of clinking dishes, now it was an oppressive, choking claw squeezing around everyone's neck, unbroken by even a single breath of air.
"Barum." Geezil's flat, quiet statement whipped out through the stillness, a single cracking note that made the Takkan flinch in his seat. There was no waver in the old bird's voice now, only a cold, hard surety that made Yegel's feathers itch. "I was very explicit in my instructions. Was I not?"
"The- the predator resisted!" Barum tried to protest- though the waver in his voice clearly made it more of a plea. "With how dangerous he's proved to be, I had to-"
"Dangerous?" the drawled interruption made the hulking, thick-skinned exterminator flinch back from the dull-feathered bird barely half his size. "I see no injuries on any of you. There has never been an injury from officers bringing him in to me. I... was quite clear about wanting him brought here unharrassed." A single beady eye bored into the towering gray alien, making him shrink into himself under it's heat. "Do I lie?"
"S-sir please!" Sweat glistened on the Takkan's thick grey hide as he cowered back, his seat clattering to the floor as he stumbled. "It- I apologize, I swear I thought it was necessary! It won't happen again, sir! Please!"
Yegel knew what was coming next- the tightening of Geezil's beak and raising of the feathers on his back were a sure sign of how furious the old man was. All he had to do was sit back quietly and let it play out, and it would be both a distraction that bought him time, and retribution for the unnecessary blow he had taken- and was probably going to need to see the doctor for after this- if he was in a position to visit her, of course. Geezil's eyes were hard and cold, focused on his subordinate- getting between him and the subject of his ire would only earn him trouble... and yet, as Geezil's beak opened, he simply couldn't stop himself.
"While this is all quite engaging," Yegel interjected, refusing to flinch back as every eye in the room snapped towards him, Kalina's expression one of open shock while Geezil's screwed up in barely-contained fury, "but you said there was more to this meeting than making another recruitment pitch to me, yet all you've actually given besides that was an attempt to get me to go out with your grand-daughter." His confidence faltered as wrinkled eyes tightened, glaring holes into him, but he rallied himself and carefully considered his next words. "While your... repeated offers are actually quite flattering, I am quite happy with what I have managed to make for myself, without accepting favors or handouts- from anyone."
Geezil hummed to himself, maintaining his glare as the silent room held it's breath, before his jaw twitched upwards into a satisfied smirk, his eyes glinting as the granite in them faded into a smug satisfaction of having found what he was looking for. The entire room relaxed as he leaned backwards in his perch, Barum falling to the floor and trying to muffle the sounds of his heaving for breath. The gentle clinking of dishes and silverware once more filled the room in a very deliberate attempt at making noise, covering up the previous tension with artificial ease. Kalina was giving Yegel a look- not the pure disgust from earlier, but something confused, as if he were a particularly perplexing puzzle-game, or a problem that had suddenly reached an unexpected solution.
"You really can't help yourself, can you," Geezil noted approvingly, glancing over at his grand-daughter's reaction before nodding at Yegel- and making a jerking motion at Barum, who gulped and pulled himself off the floor, quietly hurrying his way out of the room. "So, I uh..." the light in his eyes faded, his beak clacking shut as he rapped his talons against his perch. "I, uh, huh... hmmm. There was, actually something else... Bother me, where were we? I can't remember..."
"I believe," Yegel commented dryly, fighting to keep his own breathing even, "That I was once again saying how content I am with my current position, and that even this doctor being imported just for me isn't enough for me to leave everything behind and run into the Exterminator Corps."
"Ah, right, right," he nodded, snagging on to the lead Yegel had thrown him, before pausing and looking out over the room. "I do respect what you've managed on your own," he finally admitted, setting his bowl to the side, "But this time... this doctor, he's not exactly playing fair. This is politics, the nasty sort- where he's going to do everything he can to make you disappear. Unless, of course..." reaching into his own pouch, he shakily produces a holopad that he slides over to Yegel, displaying a series of documents- and a prominent line for signatures. "You take an alternative. Sign up, and it'll be our own docs who do your eval- and you'll clear their tests just fine, I think. Might not be your ideal career path- but I'm loathe to let such a promising young man get screwed by Old-Molts with thin egos and sharp talons."
Yegel's first instinct was to push the pad away, to reject it like he usually did- but now, he paused, expression screwed up in conflict. A part of him was tempted- severely tempted- to accept- the part of him that was still terrified of the looming threat, that wanted to run somewhere-anywhere- and hide until this whole twisted situation just went away.
Was he being selfish, rejecting an offer like this? Wouldn't the right thing to do be to accept and guarantee he stayed alive, like Jelliba and Kallik so desperately wanted? Why take the risk, when safety was right here, just a signature away- something that would guarantee him the chance to see what Jelliba's final design would look like, to see Kallik climb through the ranks like Yegel knew he someday would? Was it pride that stayed his talons, or was he simply afraid of change?
"Seriously?!" his granddaughter hissed, clearly taken aback, unaware of Yegel's silent internal debate as she rounded on her grandfather angrily. "That's why he's here? So we can just ignore his entire history of warning signs, just because you like him? With a record like his-"
"-He'd fit right in," he finished for her, eyes narrowed in a disappointed glare that had her beak snapping closed as she shrunk back into her perch. "I know you ain't seen most of it, Lialu, but most of our recruits aren't exactly got glistening feathers. Heck, lots of our older recruits got worse on their record! It's half the point of the training regimen, to file down the burrs in their talons, make something useful from them."
File down the burrs... Was he really willing to accept what that entailed? What parts of himself would he need to sacrifice, if he went down this road? What would he become, on the other side of whatever training they had in store for him?
Would he still be Yegel?
Inhaling deeply through his beak, Yegel grasped the pad, which felt far heavier than it should... and gently slid it back over to Geezil.
"If I accepted now, that would practically be an admission of being sick," Yegel breathed, his heart pounding heavily within his chest. "I... am going to see this through- I will pass this evaluation, no matter what he throws at me- and then!" Finally, he looked Geezil in the eye, firming his own resolve as he squared his shoulders. "Then, and only then, will I consider your offer."
Geezil watched on, the burning tongues of some dark flame flickering behind his ancient eyes. When Yegel stood strong, his feathers crinkled into an amused display, even as he shook his head in mock disappointment. "Ah, you really are a fine young lad," he sighed mournfully, rapping his cane against the table. "Are you sure? The doctor arrived only an hour ago in port- this is your last chance, before we have to take you to your evaluation. And without anyone having requested the extra security of one of my officers, why, this might be the last time we see each other!"
Ah. So that was the old geezer's game. Yegel pushed down the rising surge of fear, quivering in his perch as he forced himself to meet the elder's gaze. "Then I'll go ahead and invite you myself- I'm more than happy to have an audience to me proving my innocence."
The old bird's beak twisted into an ugly grin. "I am sure you do. Lialu, go ahead- consider this a learning experience for the future, hmn? Now, I won't waste any more of your time- so off you go!"
The scraping of seats being pushed out was all the warning Yegel got before he was grabbed and pulled from his seat. "Hey, hey, gentle with him, you hard-headed brutes!" Scoffing, Geezil pushed himself back in his seat, glaring at his Exterminators as Yegel was unceremoniously dropped.
"So, you planned this all out in advance, didn't you?" Yegel guessed, pushing himself to his feet- and wincing as his side twinged in pain, reminding him of the rapidly-swelling bruise.
"Dunno what you mean," Geezil denied in faux apology, as his granddaughter gaped between the two of them, clearly lost on what was happening. "Figured you needed a chance to make the right choice- or failing that, a decent last meal." Waving his wing in disappointment, he gestured towards the door- which Yegel found himself getting rapidly pushed towards. "Good luck, lad- I hope to see you again someday!"
"Don't worry, sir," Yegel snapped back, shouldering away from his escorts and refusing to look back. "I'll be back sooner than you think."
The doors slammed shut behind his escorts, reflecting the young female's confused, conflicted gaze as she strode alongside him- Yegel felt a moment of pity for the young girl, who the geezer had clearly thrown into the deep end on purpose. Hopefully she caught onto the game soon, otherwise she'd end up as somebody's tool- though maybe it was already too late for that.
Stomach roiling at the thought of what lay ahead, Yegel couldn't help the feeling of regret for not taking the escape offered to him- sure it wouldn't be ideal, but he owed it to the people most important to him to make sure he stuck around a little longer. Why he'd rejected it... he couldn't quite put it into words, only a feeling that it would have been... wrong, somehow.
The cafeteria murmured again as he was led through the mealtime crowd, catching the panicked gazes of his friends across the room. Kallik was halfway out of his seat before Yegel carefully gestured back, tapping his wing against his throat- and watching his friend slowly settle back down, Kallik's eyes growing focused as he turned and strode towards a different exit, vanishing into the distance as Yegel was dragged through a set of doors out into a cold, grey hallway.
Clenching his gullet, he carefully felt out around Kallik's gift- safely stored within his throat. The creeping tendrils of terror within his mind were growing stronger, but he chose to have faith in his friend- and resolved to make sure his efforts were not wasted.
He'd find a way through- he just had to keep moving forward.
one week earlier...
Once he'd had the chance to compose himself, Yegel returned to his viewing- he wanted to see what happened next, after such a massive shift in the struggle now that Eren had actually earned them a victory.
Despite that, Armin's narration pointed out that too many lives had been lost for any celebrations to be in order- a sentiment that Yegel understood, but... well, he wasn't as surprised to to see it from the humans anymore. Imagine, it wasn't long ago that he'd have been expecting them to revel in the carnage like other predators, uncaring of the toll in lives- yet here they were, deeply affected by the loss of so many friends and comrades, and instead of being baffled by it, Yegel completely understood their response.
Oh, and they'd taken advantage of their unique situation to even capture two of the smaller titans, presumably for study- which, given Eren's sudden new powers, was probably something that needed more study than initially presumed. Thankfully the restraints seems pretty extensive, so hopefully they could keep the monsters contained- but still, imagine being the poor soul tasked with keeping them locked down! Hopefully it wouldn't take long for them to get what they needed and dispose of the creatures.
Of course, with victory came the morbid task of cleaning up the aftermath- and not in the way anyone else in the Federation would believe if he told them. Gathering up bodies as respectfully as they could, instead of devouring them on the spot? He'd be hard-pressed to convince anyone he was telling the truth!
Wait... Marco?!
When did Marco die?! Yegel thought he'd gotten away after saving Jean! Maybe it was in the push to get Eren to the gate? Geez, and Jean was the one to find him- Marco had been so supportive of him, despite Jean's fear and self-doubts, always willing to give a word of encouragement and affirm Jean's place as leader... and now he was gone, with Jean being forced to help the cleanup crew's by giving Marco's details...
The female doctor brought up something Yegel hadn't considered- that the reason for the urgency of their cleanup was because of the risk of an epidemic breaking out. The dead had been left too long, and now there was a risk of a secondary disaster if the humans didn't hurry. Yegel had never really considered something like that- meat was meat to predators, wasn't it? The Arxur never seemed to mind eating bodies they stumbled across, so he'd somehow assumed that diseases like that weren't a concern for predators.
Just another area where the humans proved their difference from the greys, he supposed.
Thankfully, the camera hadn't focused on Marco's corpse for too long, so Yegel was able to contain his urge to gag, focusing in on Jean and his emotional response- and how expressive human faces were, even when covered by face-masks to protect themselves from germs and contamination. Of course that was when the scene shifted to Sasha and Connie, helping to clean up a massive ball of... flesh... that apparently titans upchuck when they're too full, since they don't actually have a digestive track... and a closeup showed a human mouth inside, still opened in a silent scream...
Yes, hello wastebin, been a moment since we last met, how have you been? Don't mind me, just emptying my stomach again!
...Yegel didn't like Sasha- she was clearly the most "predatory" of the humans- but at least here, the disgust and horror on her face showed that there were lines even she wouldn't cross.
Even Annie, the stoic female who never seemed to show emotion, was shaken- standing over a body, apologizing over and over again, before Reiner pointed out that contrition did the dead no good, and that they needed a proper burial. So the humans buried their dead? That was kind of similar to Gojid traditions for honoring the dead, burying them in vast family crypts.
But, why did the scene shift to a fire burning? What were they-
So that's what those grey flakes that had been falling everywhere were. Yegel had kind of been wondering about that.
So, they didn't even have time to give proper burials to everyone.
Yegel forced himself to take a deep breath, rubbing the sides of his head as he exhaled. He'd say it was similar to Krakotl death rites, purifying the body to drift through the divine winds of Nishtal, to be carried away to Intala's realm, but... in this context, it clearly must have been desperation and urgency rather than a matter of respect.
...Intala, please watch over them.
...Thankfully, the perspective then shifted back to Eren- who was now locked up in a cell deep underground, and chained to a bed. Understandable precautions- his powers were clearly still volatile, and the last thing the humans needed to deal with was a rogue titan wandering around.
Commander Erwin and Captain Levi were outside his cell, watching him. Erwin asked if he had any questions- which, well, Yegel obviously had several, but Eren was still disoriented from waking up. Which made sense, given how much using his power seemed to take out of him- he must have been exhausted after carrying that boulder for so long.
Erwin proceeded to ask about the key that had held such importance- and the secret that was apparently hidden beneath Eren's house. Eren confirmed, and Levi scoffed about how it must suck to have your dad and your memories MIA at the same time- unless it was just a cover story. Which- was a reasonable concern, but... was that what Yegel sounded like to other people?
At least Erwin confirmed that they knew Eren had no reason to lie- and proceeded to ask Eren what he wanted- what his intentions were. After all, to reach the cellar, they'd need to seal the breach in the other wall like they'd done in Trost- which required Eren's special power. Apparently they'd even conjectured that the Colossal and Armored titan must be like Eren- titans piloted by people?! Which did make sense- the Bad Humans probably had an easier time developing and using titan powers, since they weren't trying to fight or resist their predator instincts. That also would explain their motive- killing all the good humans would mean the bad humans would win, and be able to rule as dominant predators like the Arxur did.
...Was there a group of good Arxur once, that lost their own fight with the Arxur Yegel knew?
NO. No, that was impossible- there was no way the greys had ever had anything good within them- they were monsters through and through! Good Arxur? Ridiculous- just because humans were an insane enigma that broke every rule as if they were intentionally trying to didn't mean the same applied to other predators!
Unless of course, the good Arxur had all been killed-
No. NO. Yegel was not going down that path of madness! He was not!
...Erwin expanded on his statement, saying that was why he asked Eren's intentions- because Eren could save "us," presumably meaning the good humans. Eren initially said he didn't know- but then his past, his memories, all flooded through his head- his inner voice angrily declaring that he would stop this with his bare hands! When Levi pressed for an answer, Eren looked up with a downright deranged grin- and declared that he wanted to kill all the titans- every last one.
So that's how Eren turned out different- he'd aimed his instincts towards the monsters, and become obsessed with wiping out the titans, instead of wanting to consume humans like every other titan did. That said something about Eren's mental fortitude- and why he still had difficulties with his power. Actively twisting your instincts like that must cross a few wires, leaving him needing to actively learn things instead of simply doing what came naturally.
Levi seemed to like that answer, a gleam entering his eyes as he approached Eren's cell and announced that he'd take responsibility for him. Not that he implicitly trusted him, but that he trusted his abilities to kill Eren if necessary. He offered Eren congratulations, officially welcoming him as a new member of the Scouting Corps- and told Erwin to let the higher-ups know.
And then announced that, despite this meeting, Eren wasn't out of the woods yet- as he was going to stand trial, where they'd need to argue against him simply being killed.
Because of course it couldn't be that simple.
submitted by Cheesypower to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 17:01 captainjolly AI Generated Aubrey-Maturin

Apologies to anyone who has been unwillingly overdosed with ChatGPT posts lately.
I entered the first paragraph of Master and Commander, and asked the bot to write a short story of this scene. Then I asked 'What if these two went on a long voyage?''
While obviously no replacement for POB, or anyone else, this could be an excellent tool for anyone suffering from writer's block.
Can you write me a story if I prompt you with a scene? ChatGPT Of course! I'd be delighted to write a story based on a scene you provide. Please go ahead and give me the scene you have in mind, and I'll weave a story around it.
User The Music-room in the Governor's House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli's C major quartet. The players, Italians pinned against the far wall be rows and rows of little round gilt chairs, were playing with passionate conviction as they mounted towards the penultimate crescendo, towards the deep, liberating final chord. And on the little gilt chairs at least some of the audience were following the rise with equal intensity: there were two in the third row, on the left-hand side; and they happened to be sitting next to one another. The listener farther on the left was a man between twenty and thirty whose big for overflowed his seat, leaving one a streak of gilt wood to be seen here and there. He was wearing his best uniform - the white lapelled blue coat, white waistcoat, breeches and stockings of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, with the silver medal of the Nile in his buttonhole - and the deep white cuff of his gold-buttoned sleeve to beat the time, whole his bright blue eyes, staring from what would have been a pink-and-white face if it had not been so deeply tanned, gazed fixedly at the bow of the first violin. The high note came, the pause, the resolution; and with the resolution the sailor's fist swept firmly down upon his knee. He lent back in his chair, extinguishing it entirely, sighed happily and turned towards his neighbor with a smile. The words 'Very finely played, sir, I believe' were formed in his gullet if not quite in his mouth when he caught the cold and indeed inimical look and heard the whisper, 'If you really must beat the measure, sir, let me entreat you to do so in time, and not half a beat ahead.' ChatGPT In the vibrant music-room of the Governor's House at Port Mahon, a symphony of passion and triumph filled the air. The grand octagonal chamber, adorned with tall pillars, resonated with the enchanting melodies of Locatelli's C major quartet. The Italian musicians, positioned against the far wall, poured their hearts into each note, their conviction carrying them towards the crescendo that promised an exhilarating climax. Among the audience, perched upon rows of elegant gilt chairs, two individuals captivated by the music sat side by side. The listener to the left, a young man in his twenties or thirties, occupied more space than his seat could contain. His impressive stature, emphasized by his naval uniform—a resplendent white-lapelled blue coat, a pristine white waistcoat, breeches, and stockings—exuded an air of authority. The silver medal of the Nile, proudly displayed in his buttonhole, hinted at his naval exploits. His sun-kissed complexion adorned with bright blue eyes fixated unwaveringly on the bow of the first violin. As the composition reached its zenith, building up to the final chord, the sailor's anticipation surged within him. His gold-buttoned sleeve, cuff extended, beat in perfect rhythm against his knee. With bated breath, he awaited the climactic high note, the transformative pause, and the ensuing resolution. And when that glorious resolution resounded, carrying the room to the pinnacle of musical ecstasy, the sailor's fist came down upon his knee with resolute conviction. Satisfied, he leaned back in his chair, extinguishing its golden sheen, and released a contented sigh. Turning towards his neighboring listener, a smile played upon his lips, ready to express his admiration for the sublime performance. However, before the words could find their voice, he caught a frigid and unwelcoming gaze from his companion, accompanied by a whispered reprimand. "If you really must beat the measure, sir," the rebuke slipped through pursed lips, laced with disapproval, "let me entreat you to do so in time, and not half a beat ahead." The sailor's smile faltered momentarily, struck by the unexpected iciness of the response. He blinked, taking in the critical tone and the stranger's stern countenance. Realizing his misstep, he mustered an apologetic expression, tempered with humility. "My sincerest apologies, sir," he replied softly, contrition evident in his voice. "I allowed my enthusiasm to carry me away. Your admonishment is duly noted, and I assure you, I shall be more mindful in the future." The neighboring listener, seemingly appeased by the sailor's apology, softened his gaze, recognizing the earnestness in the young man's eyes. A flicker of understanding passed between them, bridging the gap that had momentarily divided them. "Very well," he responded, a trace of reluctant admiration blending with the lingering aloofness. "Let us enjoy the remainder of this exquisite performance together, in harmony, and with a shared appreciation for the music." The sailor nodded, gratitude and eagerness intertwining within him. The barriers that had briefly risen between them dissolved, allowing the enchanting melodies to carry them both on a harmonious journey. From that moment onward, their appreciation for the music transcended their differences, weaving an unspoken bond between them within the captivating confines of the Governor's House at Port Mahon. And as the quartet's final notes faded into the air, their applause, united and fervent, joined the chorus of appreciation that filled the music-room, harmonizing the souls of all who were fortunate enough to witness that unforgettable performance. User What if the two characters went together on a long voyage next? ChatGPT Embarking on an unforeseen adventure, the two characters found themselves drawn together by their shared love for music and the uncharted allure of the open sea. The sailor, Lieutenant William Harrington, and his unlikely companion, a refined gentleman named Edward Sinclair, discovered a profound connection amidst the enchantment of the Music-room in the Governor's House at Port Mahon. As fate would have it, Lieutenant Harrington's naval duties presented an opportunity for an extended voyage aboard the HMS Seraph, a majestic vessel scheduled for an expedition to unexplored territories. Unbeknownst to both men, their paths were destined to intertwine once more on this remarkable journey. Intrigued by the prospect of exploration and the allure of distant shores, Edward, a man of scholarly disposition, harbored a deep yearning for adventure that resonated with the naval officer. The echoes of Locatelli's quartet continued to linger in their hearts, serving as a testament to the profound connection they had established in that Port Mahon music-room. Lieutenant Harrington, upon learning of Edward's shared passion for discovery, extended an invitation to accompany him on the voyage. Edward, captivated by the idea of traversing uncharted waters and the possibility of uncovering hidden treasures, accepted the offer with an eagerness that matched the sailor's own. Months of preparation ensued as the HMS Seraph underwent meticulous provisioning for the journey. The day of departure finally arrived, and the ship set sail, leaving behind the familiar shores of Port Mahon. Lieutenant Harrington, assuming his role as an experienced officer, guided Edward through the intricacies of life aboard a naval vessel, teaching him the ropes, both literally and metaphorically. As the ship ventured into the vast expanse of the ocean, the two newfound companions found solace in the shared experiences of life at sea. They faced tempestuous storms that lashed against the ship's sturdy hull, their camaraderie growing stronger amidst the chaos. They stood side by side on the deck, gazing at breathtaking sunsets that painted the horizon with vivid hues, finding beauty in the ever-changing tableau of nature. During long nights beneath a star-studded sky, Lieutenant Harrington regaled Edward with tales of his past adventures—his daring exploits, encounters with distant cultures, and the triumphs and tribulations that accompanied a life at sea. Edward, in turn, imparted his intellectual insights, engaging the sailor in discussions on literature, philosophy, and the power of art to transcend boundaries. Together, they navigated uncharted waters, mapping unknown territories, and unearthing the treasures of knowledge and friendship. In their shared cabin, notes of music flowed freely, as Lieutenant Harrington would strum a guitar, and Edward would join him with melodies on a humble flute. Their impromptu performances carried the spirit of Locatelli's quartet, evoking memories of the music-room that had initially brought them together. Months turned into years, and the long voyage evolved into a transformative odyssey for both men. The sailor and the scholar discovered the profound depths of their shared humanity and the vastness of the world that lay before them. They encountered foreign cultures, witnessed breathtaking landscapes, and forged bonds with diverse peoples they encountered along their maritime path. When the HMS Seraph eventually returned to Port Mahon, its sails tattered but hearts emboldened, Lieutenant Harrington and Edward Sinclair disembarked as inseparable friends. Their transformative voyage had not only broadened their horizons but had solidified their connection, intertwining their lives in a tapestry woven by the threads of music, adventure, and camaraderie. And as they bid farewell to the ship that had been their floating sanctuary, their journey continued, a testament to the enduring power of unlikely friendships forged against the backdrop of unexplored horizons, echoing the symphony of life's unexpected harmonies.
submitted by captainjolly to AubreyMaturinSeries [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 23:51 RobertaJPark Trying to plan first backpacking trip

So I’ve done a ton of car camping and hiking but never actually tried the real deal backpacking trip. I’m heading to GSMNP for about a week near the beginning of July and I desperately want to backpack! I’m thinking from Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap. I’ve got myself some “ultralight” gear (read:affordable but decent) and think I have what I need other than advice. It looks like there are only shelters along this route? Which is fine as long as I can reserve spots, though I’m kinda sad I can’t use my tent. I’d originally wanted to go Davenport to Newfound but it seems that first chunk may be too much for a first timer. I could use some advice, and/or recommendations if there’s another spot I should really spend my days seeing. Basically, the only thing set in stone is that I’ll be staying in Bryson City the night before and I want to spend 4-6 days finding out if my Appalachian trail aspirations are possible someday. Thank you for any help!
submitted by RobertaJPark to WildernessBackpacking [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 00:03 d3licious_pancak3s I used ChatGPT tto write a fanfiction where the house leaders resolved the Great War of Fódlan through a dance-off

Title: "Rhythms of Reconciliation: A Dance-Off to Unite Three Houses"
Chapter 1: A Proposal of Harmony
In the wake of the devastating war, Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude found themselves at a crossroads, burdened by the weight of their past conflicts. Seeking a path to peace, they convened at Garreg Mach Monastery, where a renowned dancer named Ariana had recently arrived.
Ariana, aware of their plight, suggested an unconventional solution—a grand dance-off competition, where the three lords themselves would showcase their skills on the dance floor. Intrigued by the idea, Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude agreed to participate, recognizing the potential for this unique event to foster understanding and reconciliation.
Chapter 2: Rediscovering the Rhythm
With the dance-off set to take place in the enchanting monastery ballroom, Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude embarked on a journey of self-discovery, seeking the guidance of seasoned dancers and honing their own latent talents.
Edelgard, known for her precision and determination, approached renowned ballroom dancers from Enbarr. She immersed herself in rigorous training, perfecting intricate footwork and elegant spins. Hubert, ever loyal, assisted her, bringing a touch of dark elegance to their routine.
Dimitri, haunted by the ghosts of his past, sought solace in contemporary dance. He enlisted the help of a group of enigmatic performers known for their emotional expressiveness. With each movement, Dimitri aimed to shed the weight of his troubled soul, finding liberation and grace in the art of dance.
Claude, always adaptable and resourceful, delved into a fusion of traditional and modern dance styles. He sought out a diverse ensemble of dancers, incorporating elements of both his Almyran heritage and the cultures he encountered throughout his travels. Hilda, with her natural charm, and Lorenz, with his refined presence, added flair to their routine.
Chapter 3: The Dance-Off Begins
The night of the grand dance-off arrived, and the monastery's ballroom was transformed into a breathtaking stage. Spectators from all walks of life, including the people affected by the war, gathered to witness this extraordinary display of unity and talent.
Edelgard took the floor first, exuding power and precision with each step. Her dance combined elements of classical ballet and military discipline, representing her unwavering resolve and the strength of the Black Eagles. Her movements, though fierce, held a hint of vulnerability, conveying her longing for a better world.
Next, Dimitri's performance mesmerized the audience, evoking a range of emotions. His contemporary routine delved into themes of anguish, healing, and redemption. With each fluid movement, he conveyed the depths of his inner turmoil and his determination to emerge from the shadows.
Lastly, Claude's dance radiated charisma and joy. He seamlessly blended Almyran folk dances with contemporary choreography, showcasing the Golden Deer's adaptability and willingness to embrace diverse cultures. His performance spoke of unity, reminding all present of the beauty found in differences.
Chapter 4: A Convergence of Hearts
As the lords finished their individual performances, a collective realization dawned upon the audience. The dance-off had not only showcased their individual growth but also unveiled their shared struggles, hopes, and dreams. The transformative power of dance had begun to weave threads of understanding among the once-warring factions.
With newfound camaraderie, Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude decided to unite on the dance floor, symbolizing their commitment to a better future. Their improvised routine was a testament to their shared experiences and aspirations, a celebration of the strength that lay in their unity.
Chapter 5: The Birth of a New Era
The dance-off had achieved more than anyone could have imagined. It had become a catalyst for healing and reconciliation. Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude, once divided by ideologies and strife, emerged as leaders bound by empathy and a shared vision.
Together, they pledged to rebuild Fódlan, drawing upon the collective strengths of their houses. The dance-off had served as a turning point, allowing them to bridge the gaps that had separated them and foster genuine camaraderie.
In the years that followed, Fódlan flourished under their joint leadership. The scars of war slowly faded, replaced by a newfound harmony that transcended borders and house affiliations. The dance-off had become a symbol of unity, reminding future generations of the transformative power of art and the indomitable spirit of the Three Houses.
submitted by d3licious_pancak3s to FireEmblemThreeHouses [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 22:00 The_Misery_Man Step on a line...

‘…break your spine.’
Does anyone else know that rhyme? There are multiple versions: some have a couple of additional lines, and others refer to the mother and father being the victims. The one I was taught goes: 'Step on a crack, break your back. Step on a line, break your spine.' I get stepping on a crack could lead to someone falling over and hurting their back, but why would stepping on a line break a person’s spine?
Just so you know, this isn’t some story about a cursed version of the rhyme that kills you after reading it out loud three times in a row. I only mention it because when I think about what happened... I’ll tell you my story, and you’ll know what I mean. And don’t worry, supernatural stuff does happen. Just not how you would expect.
I’ll start by telling you about the guy who disappeared from my class, Ernie. He was the nicest guy I knew. He was fair and friendly to me and everyone else in my class. It also meant a lot to me that he was: I’m not one of the popular kids in my school. I’m more the kind who likes to read Creepypasta and watch anime.
Ernie was one of many disappearances in my town for as long as I can remember. Some people say they left of their own accord, but my town isn’t that place. Besides, the police don’t think that. The police have no idea what happened to them, but they know they didn’t run away. All the missing person cases would go cold eventually.
I was hoping I could dig up something the police couldn’t. I felt I owed it to Ernie. I knew I might not find anything more than the police, but I had to try. I wanted to be a journalist when I left school, so I had that journalistic intuition.
I don’t think I’d say the same now after… everything.
I looked into the online news reports of the missing people. The police were surprisingly honest. They even asked whether anyone could lend their assistance in finding the missing people.
All the cases are very similar. The person was alone at the time of their disappearance, usually when walking somewhere in the dark. They were all very different, making the disappearances look randomly picked, so it didn’t look like the work of a serial killer. The more obscure cases were when there didn’t seem to be anywhere for them to go or for someone to take them.
This included Ernie’s case. He was walking home from his friend’s house late in the evening on a route he knew and commonly took before he vanished.
I won’t go over the other cases, but as I said before, the police don’t have any leads, so each case eventually goes cold.
If I wanted to find anything new, I needed to investigate further. I knew where the people vanished, so I mapped out some of the locations and went looking after school.
My parents expected me home before sunset, so I had a few hours to use per day. During the week of my search, I found the scenes of the disappearances, and I spoke to a few of the witnesses who were close by at the time. The locations were isolated, as the news reports said, and the witnesses were never there when the person disappeared, also as the reports said. So, my time was mainly spent confirming what the police said was true and, doing so, left me in the same position: with no leads to go on. I was going to give up.
But that Friday, I found something.
I was looking into one of the cases that happened twenty or so years prior, and one of the witnesses said they heard a rumour that someone claimed to know what happened to the people that disappeared. This rumoured person talked nonsense about demons and people being taken to hell. The police were kind enough not to include his statement in the investigations, and he remained out of the public eye.
I prodded the witness some more and ended up with his name and address. ‘What harm could it bring?’ I thought as I found the address on my phone.
All of you know where this is going. I won’t try and sugarcoat it: everything from that moment forward was a horrible mistake. And I will regret it for the rest of my life.
The man lives in a flat by himself, a dingy place downtown. His name is Ronald Tristan. When he answered the door, he looked like the mad religious type. He looked older than I expected: supporting his grey hair with a combover. He also looked pale and under-malnourished, which told me he hadn’t been out and about for a while. I’m not exactly Sherlock Holmes. This is just what I noticed.
“Hi.” was all the old man could give to greet me. His voice was gruff yet well-mannered.
“Hello, I’m here to ask about the disappearances. Are you Ronald Tristan? I’ve heard you know something about them?” I didn’t want to beat around the bush and wanted to get straight to the point.
He said nothing initially, looking like he was searching my face. When he finished, he simply said, “Come in.” I didn’t know why he was trying to choose his words so wisely, but I’d find out soon enough.
The inside of his flat was strange, not what you would expect a conspirator’s home to look like, weirdly devoided of anything other than the bare necessities.
All of the rooms were carpeted. I only mention this because I realise how important it is later.
The two things I found really odd at the time were the wooden cross above the round table against the wall in the living area and how every room seemed lined with duct tape. The cross wasn’t the traditional crucifix: it was wavey like a flag in the wind. It was the opposite of what you'd expect Catholics to have, almost like a groovy parody. The duct tape looked obvious to see. Every edge of each room, from corner to corner, was covered by it. Not only that, its sides were cut into strange curvy lines. It truly gave the place the crazed conspirator’s home vibe I did expect.
“Please, sit down,” Ronald gestured to the only other chair at his table than the one he sat on. I did so, dropping my rucksack next to me under the table. The old git put his elbows on the table, “What have you heard exactly? You look very young to be looking into this.”
“Well,” I said as I leaned towards him, “I was asking about the disappearances, and someone mentioned you knew something about them.” I didn’t want to mention that I heard he was crazy.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to. Then the old man asked, “Have you heard that people also think I have lost my marbles?” He was looking at me with the same face that looked like he was trying to read me from before.
I decided to be blunt with him, “I was talking to one of the witnesses of the missing person cases. They mentioned you spoke to the police about what you thought happened to the victims.”
“I know what happened to them…” he muttered. He had his thumbs to his lips while clasping his hands together, almost like he was praying, “You wouldn’t understand. I think… what do you know about the disappearances?”
“The same as the police, nothing more than they seemed to vanish without a trace.”
“I think you should leave your little investigation at that. It won’t help: knowing.” His expression looked stressed.
“Why?” I asked.
His eyes glanced up at the cross above the table, “Lord have mercy,” he whispered to himself, “Please, you're too young. I don’t want to put you in any danger.”
I perked up at this, “What?!” I gasped. He gave me a silent stare like he was hoping I would leave it at that, “Wait, why don’t the police want to know about this then?” Even as I said it, I knew the answer: he tried telling them, and they didn’t believe him. The old git’s paranoia must have been creeping into my mind: I was beginning to feel on edge.
“Listen,” he said sternly, “you and the police wouldn’t believe me. It would…” he paused as he tried to look for his words.
When he was unsuccessful, I told him, “I need to know. I have a friend who went missing. I don’t care whether I believe you or not. Tell me what you know, and I will leave you alone.”
The look I gave him must have been determined enough. He looked sorry and stated, “If I tell you, you will be in danger. You are not the only person to come asking. And the other people who came asking me also ‘disappeared’. I don’t want to be responsible if I put you in danger.”
My expression turned to worry, “Were they, like, killed by someone?”
“Something!” he snapped. He then scrunched up his mouth as though to try and silence it.
I knew he might be mad and making all this up, but I thought that maybe he knew something. Something much bigger and more complex than him. I had made it that far, and he was my only lead. “I’m not leaving until I know what you know. Tell me!” I said with more determination than I had.
His eyes sized me up once more, “Ok. Just be careful.” he darted his gaze around the room, covering every corner, before he continued, “For twenty-five years, I have been hunted by a demon.”
I leaned back and sighed to replace the chuckle that would have come out. I don’t need to say why I didn’t believe in supernatural mumbo-jumbo. Even when my pastime was reading horror stories about the supernatural. It was only nonsense in the end.
Now after everything, let’s just say I will be more open-minded.
He saw my sigh and said, “I told you, you don’t believe me.”
“Look,” I replied, “even you must admit that sounds crazy. What… why should I believe you?”
Ronald stared blankly at me for a second. Then thrust out his right leg and planked it onto the wooden table, so I could see it in front of me. He pulled up the sleeve of his genes to show me his plastic prosthetic leg. “It would have taken me if I wasn’t so lucky!” he said confidently.
I can’t deny this shook me. It told me that this guy was being serious. Either that or he was mad enough to lob off his leg, which I doubted. I felt I needed to apologise, “I’m sorry, please tell me about this…” I almost couldn’t say it, “‘demon’.”
He covered up his prosthetic and continued, “I call it a demon, but I don’t know what it is exactly. Do you believe in God?” He gestured to his cross. I shook my head. “I didn’t think so. I have to believe. It makes it easier to cope. Though, no exorcism will get rid of this… beast. How do I put it?” he paused, “It… lives in the lines.”
“It lives in the lines?”
“I’m not sure how else to put it. It lives within the lines of… anything. It is how it hunts,” he paused again, collecting his words, “This thing takes people, people it can touch through the lines.”
“It hunts?” I was losing track of what he was saying.
“Yes, it hunts people. I think it kills them, I don’t know. It doesn’t like attention. It doesn’t want to be found out. You can’t see it: it is invisible. It can only come out of the lines by so much.” after another pause, he continued more furiously, “It tried taking me once and failed. But I know it is coming after me. It-it took…” his words were becoming erratic, “It will come after you, now you know. It…”
I just stared at him, dumbfounded. Honestly, I was more scared of him.
After he recovered from his minor-panic attack, I ventured to ask, “This is what you couldn’t tell the police, what they wouldn’t believe?”
He nodded, “Yes. I panicked not long after that thing had found me. Someone else went missing. I told them a demon had taken her, and they threw me in the loonie bin.” he stared at his cross again, “I shouldn’t have told you. It will go after you next. Please, Lord, forgive me, I…” he broke down into sobs and prayer.
I didn’t know what to believe. The way he told me, he wasn’t lying. My rational mind couldn’t… no, wouldn’t let me believe him. I had to believe he was mad. I did what I wouldn’t think I would ever do in that situation: I tried to flee. “It’s getting dark. I need to go home,” I said slowly and carefully.
Before I could fully stand up, the old geezer grabbed my arm, “Wait, please! I know it is difficult to believe, but I’m telling the truth,” he spat out.
“DUDE, FUCK OFF!” I yelled, pulling away, yet he didn’t let go, “You're mad! You need serious help! LET GO!”
“Wait, wait, please. If you go, he’ll come after you!” I stopped pulling when he said this. “Please, before you go, I know how this demon works. Please, listen to me.”
I looked him dead in the eye: his eyes were screaming with fear. I yanked my arm away after his grip had loosened. I got up to leave, pulling my bag over my shoulders. “I’ve got to go,” I said, turning away from him.
“Wait!” he said as I walked away, “The demon doesn’t like too much attention. I’ll walk you home!” Yet, saying this only sped me up. I would never let him come near my house. He was a nutter. He followed behind me, “Just don’t touch any straight lines. It can only get you through straight lines! Listen, this is important! You can wear it out: it doesn’t have a lot of energy! Please wait!”
As I tried pulling open the front door, he lunged his open hand out, slamming it shut again. I looked at the old fool: his face was a few inches from mine. It was now filled with the screaming fear he held in his eyes. “Just come over again,” he said, “I’ll tell you what happened to me. Properly. Don’t step on any lines on the way home. Humour me if that’s what it takes!”
I looked deeply into his eyes. I could see he had no ill intent in them. He was just scared. I gave him a quick, confirming nod. He let me open the door. Before I left him, he spoke up one last time, “And don’t forget. It likes to hunt.”
With that, I was on my way home.
I was given a lot of information at once. I didn’t know whether I could believe him. It sounded insane, but this was my only lead. ‘What was that old guy talking about? What was he saying?’ I knew he wasn’t a liar and that he was hesitant to tell me what he knew. His instructions were very odd. ‘Is he delusional?’ I thought this was more likely, but it doesn’t sound like some typical old wives' tale. In reality, I still needed to hear his whole story before judging him. ‘Is it true?’ This scared me then, even when I was sceptical of it. It explained why the police found so little and why the people disappeared in such unusual circumstances. ‘Am I in danger?’
I looked at my surroundings. I was halfway home. It was dark. And I was alone.
‘It… lives in the lines.’ I remembered Ronald saying. I looked at the pavement slabs. They were old, and the cement between each slab had sunken down and made canyons.
This was when I remembered the rhyme: ‘Step on a crack, break your…’ etc. As a kid, I avoided cracks and gaps in the pavement because of it. I remembered stepping on a road line as a dare, thinking I could feel my spine creaking and breaking. It never did, of course.
I needed closure. I lightly pressed my toes onto the line. Nothing happened. I took my foot off and placed it down again, as though I was shocked nothing happened the first time. My fear dispersed, and in its place, disappointment filled me. ‘Of course, nothing happened,’ I thought, ‘Demons don’t exist. I guess this means I’m back to square one.’
Approximately five steps homeward, I stepped on another gap in the pavement. This time, my right foot just… fell. Like when you don’t realise that there’s a step in front of you, and you just start falling. Eventually, you would feel your foot hit the ground harder than you expected, almost tripping you. Except, my foot didn’t hit the ground.
My reflexes acted before I could process what happened: I lunged my arm onto the side of the curb, balancing my weight and holding myself up.
I looked down, and my leg… sunk? It looked more like my leg was squeezing between the pavement slabs. It looked like Mr Fantastic when he reached underneath a door, his arm squishing like rubber. It still felt the same: it just looked off or warped somehow. This wasn’t what made me panic. I panicked because I could feel my leg dangling into an abyss I couldn’t see.
That all lasted a second before I hastily pulled myself back up onto the pavement. As my leg left the line, I could have sworn I felt something brush the back of it.
Now I think about it, I was lucky then.
I sat on a pavement slab like I was washed up on an island, separated from everyone else. I had to think for a second and comprehend what happened. All my thoughts rushed around in my head in a chaotic tornado. One stood out to me, what Ronald said: ‘It… lives in the lines.’ At that moment, that was all that made sense to me.
I got up and carried on home, now avoiding the gaps in the pavement.
On the way, I thought about how to lose whatever was chasing me. I thought about how that old man avoided it, ‘Do I need to get rid of every line within reach like in his place? No, that’s not an option! It is chasing me now! How do I get rid of it now?! What did Ronald say?!’ Then what he said came back to me: ‘The demon doesn’t like too much attention.’ I had to find someone, anyone. So long as someone else was with me, it won’t try and take me. That’s why Ronald wanted to come with me. I banked on my parents being home: there was nowhere else I could think to go.
This thing, this Line Demon (from now on, I will refer to it as the Line Demon: I have no idea what else to call it, please feel free to come up with a new name for it), will come after me until it has me.
I thought, ‘What else did that old man say: ‘Just don’t touch any straight lines. It can only get you through straight lines!’ What can’t I touch? Gaps in the pavement, yes, but what else? Door frames, wooden flooring, bannisters…’ I thought about how many things could have lines I might accidentally touch. More specifically: lines I could accidentally touch in my house. All I knew was that the lines had to be straight, as Ronald said. How straight? I did not know. So, I tried avoiding any and all lines I could see. ‘How hard could it be?’
I got home at about ten, which was very late for me. I opened the front door, and my eyes scanned the area for all possible lines the Line Demon could grab me from. I strategically stepped onto the doormat as I saw the minefield I expected: wooden flooring in every room (except one: I’ll come back to that). Each floorboard had a gap between them: many more gaps than in the pavement outside. I had to tread really carefully.
I placed my trainer down onto one of the planks lengthways, and it only just fitted on without touching any of the gaps. I considered taking my shoes off to have more space to step on, but I needed the grip of my shoes to be sure my feet didn’t slide.
I awkwardly crab-walked through to the living room and called out. No one was home. I had forgotten where Mum and Dad were, but it mattered little. Yet, I knew I couldn’t wait for them to come home. I had to get them there ASAP.
I decided to phone one of them and make up an excuse like being sick or something. Hopefully, Mum’s sympathy would bring at least one of them home.
I was never able to make the call.
I wanted to sit down to make the call rather than balance awkwardly on the floorboards in case I fell over. So I sat at our dining room table. As I unlocked my phone, I placed my left hand on the side of the square table.
I hadn’t accounted for the edges of objects as lines in my strategy.
My hand was yanked by the unseen foe. My hand vanished into the line, and I dropped the phone from my right hand to use it to push away from the table. It was pulling me in this time.
The Line Demon’s hand was rough with long but thin fingers, and its grip was tight and unrelenting. Yet, its pull was only that of an average adult male. This prevented me from being pulled in: my body weight was on my chair rather than the table.
I had to shift my body weight away from the table, as the deeper into the line my arm went, the stronger the Line Demon’s pull was. Trying to be careful not to step onto any of the lines on the wooden floor, I stood up, leaning away from the table, using my body weight to pull away from it.
It was working: my arm started to leave the line. I saw my hand. But I also saw the invisible press of the Line Demon’s hand on it.
‘It can only come out of the lines by so much.’ Even though my hand was entirely free from its dimension, it wouldn’t let go. My hand remained bound to the edge of the table. I tried hitting it with my free right hand, but I only made my left hand sore from hitting where it gripped me. ‘I CAN’T HIT IT!’ my mind screamed. I knew that it could only come into our world by so much. If so: why didn’t it let go?
I had to remember what Ronald had said, ‘You can wear it out: it doesn’t have a lot of energy!’ I considered what this meant, ‘Does it need the stamina to come into our world? Yes, that would explain why it tried to make me fall into its dimension rather than grabbing me before. It would conserve its energy that way! But that doesn’t tell me why it won’t let go?!’
I thought about this later, and I can only assume it used the stamina I spent pulling away from it to maintain its presence in our world. So, rather than it pulling me into its dimension, I was pulling it into ours, or at least by as much as I could pull it into our dimension.
I was at a stalemate. I couldn’t pull it further into our world, and it couldn’t me into its world. It was beginning to feel like I was exercising the plank in PE. My body was straining from holding my ground, and I had a feeling that the Line Demon’s grip might hold out longer than my pull.
Then, at the fifteen-second mark, it let go.
I couldn’t figure out why. Until I felt it on my left foot.
I looked down to see my left foot had slid slightly, just over one of the gaps in the wooden floorboards. I could also see the side of my trainer being folded down by my friend’s invisible grasp.
I couldn’t do much more to resist than try and keep my body weight on the floorboard, but the Line Demon could now use all of its body weight to pull me down. I could feel my shoe slipping into the gap. I was running out of ideas, but there was one theory I had to test then and there. I looked around the table and saw a piece of scrap paper. I grabbed it and stuffed it under my shoe.
I’ll have to explain my logic for this part. From everything I knew about this thing: how it lives in the lines, how it can only come out from its realm by so much and how I couldn’t hurt it: I came to one conclusion. It is one-dimensional. To hunt, it can become a two-dimensional being to pull things into its dimension. It cannot go three-dimensional (I’m no quantum physicist, so I can’t say how much sense this makes. It is only how the Line Demon works).
This is why I couldn’t hit it: it travels in and along the surfaces of what is within reach to pull people in: it is two-dimensional and not three-dimensional like we are. This is also why I couldn’t pull it entirely into our dimension: it uses energy to become two-dimensional and reach out into our universe. Neither I nor the demon has the strength to get it further into our world.
So, putting a piece of paper between my shoe and the gap in the floorboards would increase its energy consumption while decreasing its range, forcing it to let go of me. If that makes sense?
It worked. My foot was released, and the Line Demon pulled in the paper instead.
After I regained my balance, I hastily looked around for my phone. I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I saw it a few feet away on the ground and awkwardly went over. Just as I reached to grab it, it slipped down into the gap between the floorboards. It was as though the Line Demon waited for me to come over just to open up its dimension below my phone and let it fall, showing me how little control over the situation I had.
I remember thinking, ‘Why didn’t I go somewhere else?! I could have gone to the pub or somewhere with people! I’m a sitting duck here!’ I knew beating myself up wouldn’t help anyone, so I had to hastily recover, ‘Stay calm, think: what do I need to do? Where do I go?’ It had occurred to me that moving somewhere only risked giving the Line Demon another chance at getting me, so I decided to stay put.
Luckily, there was one room in the house I would be safe: my parents had an old office upstairs that they used as a storage area for old documents and the old computer. It was the only room in the house that hadn’t been refurbished and still had carpeted flooring (it was also then I realised why Ronald had carpeted flooring in his flat, there are no lines to step on).
I made my way up upstairs, avoiding the nosing of each step. After a few more tricky steps along the short corridor to the room, I made it.
It felt so good to freely walk around a room without worrying about being taken by the Line Demon, even if it was only five metres by five metres. I sighed and even began to laugh, I knew I hadn’t defeated it, but I felt I had won that night. I was starting to believe avoiding the Line Demon might be possible. As long as I didn’t step on any lines: it would struggle to pull me into its mysterious dimension. I could fight back.
Then I heard a sound, someone gasping like they just came to the surface of a deep lake.
I turned my head to the open door and saw in the corridor, half-submerged in the floorboards, was Ernie. He looked stuck: his arms pointing upwards squeezed in the gap like he had a laso tight around him. He was pale as a ghost, his eyes looked dead and bloodshot, yet he was breathing heavily.
Ernie looked at me, moving only his eyes. I imagined his eyeballs making a sloshing noise as he did so. He groaned, “Helllp meeee…”
I stood there, fear rattling my body and leaving me unable to do anything. Ernie called out again, more commanding this time, “Help Me! Help Me!”
Again, I stood there inanimately. My mind processed a thousand thoughts at a time, ‘Ernie! Is he alive?! Why does he look so pale?! Is this a trap?!’
“Please, help me! PLEASE!” his arms started shaking violently as he screeched inhumanly, “HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP!”
Though his screeching freaked me out, it helped me refocus my mind, ‘There is no way the Line Demon would let him go. It’s trying to bait me.’ I had gaged the distance from me to Ernie and knew he was too far away to reach from the safety of the office. I didn’t know whether it was controlling Ernie like a puppet or if Ernie was having some sort of seizure. It mattered little either way: I wasn’t going out to whatever it was.
It shrieked, “HELP! HELP! HEL-”
It stopped. For a few brief seconds, silence filled the air.
Then the blood came. It leaked from Ernie’s eyes, mouth and every other orifice on his body. It started to sink back into the ground, spitting out its final words with blobs of blood, “Youuu… let me… diiiie…”
The sight was awful to behold. If my face looked like what I felt, it would be a face drenched every inch in terror. And guilt. All I could do was croak, “I’m… sorry.”
My apology was made inconsequential by the loud snapping of what I presumed were Ernie’s bones, yet it sounded more like snapping branches. Its eyes, which used to belong to my friend, never lost sight of me as the head resubmerged into the floor, leaving a small pool of red ichor. I could see the fluid trickling down into the gap in the floorboards as though they were chasms rather than a portal to whatever the fuck the Line Demon’s dimension was.
I remember my vision lowering, likely because I fell flat on my ass from my legs giving in to fear. I sat on the carpeted flooring, all sense of my previous victory gone from me. If it was a victory. I remembered the last thing Ronald said, ‘It likes to hunt.’ The Line Demon knew how to press all of my buttons. How to simultaneously leave me horrified and angry. I won’t lie: I lost a bit of my focus then.
Maybe, luck allowed me to live the rest of that night out, not my composure.
I looked around the small room to see any possible entryways the Line Demon might have. There was a shelf with old documents, a desk with our old computer on it and an air vent in the bottom corner of the room.
My focus was primarily on the vent: it had a built-in, horizontal grille. I also kind of feared it. I know it sounds stupid, but I have since I was young. I used to play hide and seek with my parents and friends, and one of the most common places I would hide was under that desk. I would stare out to see if anyone came into the room looking for me. The vent was visible from that spot. Unlike most air vents in my house, this was the only one that could be seen. I remember staring at that vent, almost like something would come out from it and get me.
The vent was the primary place I suspected it would try and get me from. Even though I wouldn’t fit into the vent: the lines weren’t long enough. I also decided that the shelf’s edges might be another possible entry point. The desk was the least threatening to me because the edges of any table surface were now known to me as an entry point. As long as I didn’t touch the rim of the desk: I would be fine. And, of course, I would try and stay centralised in the room. The corners and edges of the square room were the main threat and the most likely portal it would use to grab me.
So, I just stood there for half an hour, scared that the Line Demon would have some other new trick I hadn’t seen yet. I felt I only had to be patient until my parents got home. I paced the room and began questioning my choices, ‘Why did I come in here?’ I thought, ‘Why did I corner myself like this? Are Mum and Dad coming home? They could have been mugged or something. Maybe they went drinking with their friends, had too much to drink and stayed at their place?’ (Please note that the irony that I was worried that they would stay out too late was not lost on me), ‘If they aren’t coming home, who am I waiting for? Should I have gone to a neighbour’s house? Could I have risked it with that thing coming after me?’ My mind kept whirling these questions around inside my head.
Then suddenly, I heard a crunch.
It came from below me. I looked down at my feet and saw that, while I paced in a small circle in the middle of the room, I stepped on… a paper aeroplane. It was made from the scrap paper the Line Demon had taken before. ‘How did a paper aeroplane get to the centre of the room?’ I looked at the plane’s angle. It looked like it came from the vent behind me.
Though this mattered little to me, I was more concerned that my left foot was standing on the edge of the paper.
Once more, my leg dipped into the line. It was time for the third and final round against this thing.
This time, my entire foot was consumed. My first reaction was to lunge my arm out and balance myself like I did the first time, but then the paper slid along the ground. This made me realise that, unlike the last time, I could move the line I was on. So, my next move was to lift my leg above myself. That way, the Line Demon won’t be able to use its body weight to pull me into its dimension.
Yet, it was different this time. The Line Demon wasn’t pulling me in. It thrashed my leg back and forth.
“YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” I wailed, still thinking about the cheap trick it used to extend its range: it used a paper aeroplane to get me from the centre of the room.
I started instinctively shuffling back. I didn’t know what its plan was, but I knew I had to make it let go. There wasn’t anything nearby to disconnect the paper from my leg like last time. So I thrust my right arm out to it and grabbed it, thinking, ‘I just have to get it off my foot: it doesn’t have the strength to pull me in, so it’ll have to let go eventually!’
I kept pulling at the paper, holding onto it as the Line Demon thrust my leg about. I kept backing up until I had my back against the wall.
It let go.
The crumpled paper aeroplane fluttered to the ground, and my mind furiously tried to grasp what the Line Demon was planning. Then, in the brief second sitting against the wall, I realised: it couldn’t drag me into its dimension through the paper. There was no way it could fit my whole body into the length of the line. It wasn’t trying to pull me. It was backing me up against the wall. Against the vent!
The pain hit me all too fast. It was a sharp pain, like a dagger going into my back. I screamed in agony: it was the worst pain. But the pain wasn’t the worst part of the experience. It was my legs going numb. Then I realised I couldn’t move them.
The doctors would later explain the medical term was ‘Paraplegia’. It is an injury to the vertebrae column in my spine, severed by the Line Demon, which causes complete paralysis to my lower body. The Line Demon knew what it was aiming for and how to leave me hopelessly stranded in a heap on the floor.
My response was to bend over my legs and away from the vent as though ready to belch. I had no time to freak out, however. I desperately crawled with my hands back towards the centre of the room. My mind had lost all focus: all I could think about was getting away from that corner of the room. I was conscious enough to grab my legs and pull them along with me, sure they didn’t brush the bottom corner of the room.
It didn’t matter.
My hands lost their grip on the carpet floor for a second as my body was yanked away from its destination. ‘That’s impossible!’ my mind raced, ‘I didn’t touch the edge of the room! How is it pulling me?!’
It only took a glance to find out why. From the edge of the room, an arm grabbed my right leg. I could tell whose arm it was by the sleeve of the jumper the arm wore. ‘THAT’S ERNIES ARM!’ I mentally screamed. And I had a strong inkling that it wasn’t attached to its body anymore.
I screamed as I was pulled slowly to my demise, unable to resist except by hopelessly clawing away along the ground. “NO! I DON’T WANT TO DIE!” I wept, “NO! FUCK! NOT LIKE THIS! PLEASE, GOD!” I even found myself praying.
It’s ironic, looking back. That morning, I was a proud atheist, but then at that moment, I felt like God was the only being who could save me. That must have been what Ronald felt when he became religious, and I ridiculed him for it.
I begged for something to rescue me. As tears leaked from my clenched closed eyes, I prepared for the worst.
God must have smiled upon me. I heard the front door open downstairs and my parents drunkenly moaning about their shit jobs.
“MUUUUUUM! DAAAD!” I screamed, sounding like the hurt child I was. I instantly heard them rush up the stairs, but I had no idea how close I was to being consumed.
Yet, hearing Mum and Dad rushing to my aid gave me newfound strength. My hands clutched into the carpet as hard as I could make them. ‘I’m going to make it! As soon as they come in, it’ll give up!’ Every second that passed was torturously slow and drawn out.
Mum swung the door open with all her might… only to scream.
It stopped pulling.
I was ecstatic to see both of my parents, but they looked horrified.
I looked at my right leg to see why: my foot was gone.
Blood spewed out from where I once had a limb. I think I screamed. My parents did everything they could to ensure I would live, and they saved me. All I remember after that was my dad pushing down on my now stump of a leg and gently fading away, terrified of whether I would make it.
When I woke up in a hospital bed, my parents told me the police wanted to find out what I knew. However, I didn’t have it in me to tell them the truth: they would institutionalise me like with Ronald. I also didn’t want to curse them with the Line Demon’s presents.
I told them I was stabbed in the back and passed out without seeing the culprit’s face. When I came to, I started screaming when I saw my missing leg, and that’s when Mum and Dad came in. They had no reason not to believe me and chalked it up to that: a burglary gone horribly wrong. They disregarded the pool of blood they found outside the office.
My dad was less convinced. He knew when something wasn’t being said.
And so, a week later, I am still bedridden and now writing this. I will never be able to move my legs again. I don’t expect pity. I am lucky to be alive, after all. But it means I won’t be able to avoid the Line Demon. It hasn’t got me yet, but it is probably only a matter of time.
I’ve been trying to contact Ronald. I haven’t seen him since I met him. If he told me what happened to him, maybe there is a way of fighting back against this thing. Otherwise, I may have to avoid it for the rest of my life, which looks very short.
It helps that I am constantly surrounded by nurses. The Line Demon won’t come after me while they are with me. Perhaps I could still lead an ordinary life? I know there isn’t any confirming that.
That’s why I am writing this: I want to fight back against this thing, and I need your help. If you have encountered the Line Demon as I have described or anything like this and have any ideas on how to beat it, comment on this post and tell me how I can defeat… no, kill this thing. Please.
And I must warn you. Once you’ve read this, it may come after you. Your curiosity has gotten the better of you as it did me, and I’m sorry. It is intelligent, and I didn’t realise it until it was too late. Pretend this was written as fiction: it can see and hear you through the lines! So, act natural! I don’t know if it can read. And whatever you do…
submitted by The_Misery_Man to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 17:37 GI0VANNI_512 "BON VOYAGE" is Dreamcatcher's Love Letter to Humanity: A Song Analysis

After a very long road, we've reached the penultimate chapter of this story. "Apocalypse: From Us", is the conclusion to Dreamcatcher's current trilogy, as they embark on their final journey, following a newfound hope between themselves, and the people they've forever ingrained their hearts with. The title track, "BON VOYAGE", shaped in Progressive Rock, seeks to express these feelings to the audience:

  1. Keep The Faith - The song starts by expressing a new beginning; a new point that comfortably bridges the gap from the beginning, to the beyond ("On this endless journey"/"Holding you in my arms with the joy of my dreams"). In the first verse, it looks back to past encounters, and the experiences that later led to the moment of agreement between two parties ("Colors that touch white emotion"/Now I'm here, blending feelings for you"). The second verse talks about why it's not a good idea to stay, why one must leave. It reminds one about the consequences of excessive power, that too much, is too much, which is destructive. And yet, it still seeks for a better future, in a hopefully better way ("Is it a contradictory to see you in my dreams?"/"If we get too close, we might get farther apart"/"And yet, I draw a future with you"). The first pre-chorus (first two) affirms an everlasting bond, regardless if one is even aware of it ("Every cell in me is drawn to you"/"Maybe you don't but, I love you"). The first chorus is interesting as it's more loosely written instead of being direct, probably because of the lack of time to properly express it. So, this part is simply about leaving something behind, so even if one embarks on another journey, they know that the mark, the memory that's left will have good things done unto it. ("So I try to leave"/"Drawing a red circle every day"/"Even without words, I know, no way/"I know you"). The second pre-chorus further strengthens the bond, leaving a note that they aren't alone, and that all the memories will continue to live on. The second chorus/outro finally concludes these notes, giving the penultimate reason for leaving, and embarking on another trip, that they are confident what they've left behind will grow and create a better memory, that they must continue to grasp it. ("Bon Voyage"/"Say hi and hug the tomorrow that will unfold for you"/"Now, I know always"/"I know you").
  2. Epic Finale - Finally, we are getting a Progressive Rock Sound from the group. For a short summary of what it is; A song, may it be an instrumental or with vocals, typically has an fixed structure of different parts (intro, verse, bridge, outro) where they usually lead back to a refrain (Pre-hook, chorus). However, there are some songs that do not have a refrain, and instead move between parts. There are also some cases where there are parts that truly sound like choruses, and are often found at the very end of the arrangement. These musical elements combine to form what is called Progressive Music. In Dreamcatcher's case, There are two parts: The first one consisting of an intro, verses, pre-hooks, and a "fake chorus", where it doesn't exactly sound as a chorus, but it works enough to mask a surprise at the end, and the second part consisting of a second pre-hook which was created to appropriately transition from the fake chorus, to lead to the "True chorus", An actual chorus that explodes in your ears, simply the hype part in the song. Within these parts, I would say that there's a lot of elements that they got from "Deja Vu", "R.o.S.E Blue", and "Fly High". The intro and verses give tons of rock (at the start), ballad and (slightly) synthpop structure that captures the essence of its' lyric; a very sentimental tune. The First Pre-Hook/s Then transition into a slightly upbeat acoustic guitar playthrough, filled with very glassy piano sounds that exactly capture what it is to hear a love song. The fake chorus is phenomenal, and does exactly what it should. The first half of it does not sound like a chorus, but the second half does. This signals the listener that there is something missing here, that it's not complete. It also keeps them on the edge, making themselves prepare for what else is there to come. And then to what's supposedly a bridge part, is another pre-chorus, but in contrast to the previous acoustic rhythm, it's now more upbeat, more enthusiastically sounding. It allows the song to give the listeners what they were finally waiting for: The true chorus. In here, everything is a bang; from the instruments, to the vocal arrangements, to the feel of the song. Everything feels up and alive. From start to finish, this song is a roller coaster ride. On a post-note, composition wise, fantastic work on the instrumental. The melodies really served to express what this song is about. I'd add the notes from the basslines and guitar riffs truly brought back Dreamcatcher to their J-rock based sound, where it had tons of chord variety.
  3. Unfolding Tomorrow - There's three very important things I want to say. First is, this is peak Apocalypse Trilogy Dreamcatcher. They've experimented their sound from the past two releases, figuring out which parts fit best, which song is supposed to go hard, go emotional, etc. This record and title track, really brings it all together. Every emotion that has been felt right from the beginning of this story, has been transformed into what is now, "From Us". It is simply the best one out of all from my perspective. Second is, there are probably two meanings from Bon Voyage, based on the sound and lyric which I've explained. The first meaning is simply really what the title of this Analysis is. It's a love letter to Humanity. It is the realization of the potential goodwill that lives within us, that Dreamcatcher (in the story) have been searching for so long. The door to restoring the world. It is that very thing that we've come to be appreciated, and that kindness we feel can only bring us back to the very beginning. To start anew. Perhaps it's also a callback to the moral of "Odd Eye": what's inside of us, where we have a bad side, doesn't mean we've lost the good. That is what is always important. That is why it's a Happy Ending; most of our lives we've spent surviving against adversities, which are mostly because of people. That's the reality we face. But that reality will cease to exist the moment we become ignorant of the nature we're surrounded with. Now, we've been entrusted to continue protecting it. The second meaning has something to do with the phrase, "Bon Voyage", which means "Have a good trip" in English. Bon Voyage doesn't just entrust us with protecting nature, it also fills us with the courage to face another adversity: Our own journeys. While I was re-watching the Mcountdown comeback stage, I saw a comment that said the girls looked really happy during their performance. Thinking about it I wondered why, with the thought of the title track in mind and…. Bingo. I think it's because they've gone and done through so much in their career, where they were just blessed to have reached this point. Now it's time to share that courage with the audience. From us… to you. They're reaching out to us to have a safe and good journey, because they know, you're drawing your own path, just as they did theirs. Third and final thing left to say is…. Where does Dreamcatcher's Journey go from here? There's now a ton of songs, a ton of records…. Achievements are slowly growing. I guess there's still so much to unravel. And it really gives you the confidence as a fan to brace yourself and witness new things. But until then, continue to embark towards that tomorrow that will unfold for you.

And that concludes this analysis. Feel free to discuss more about the song below.
submitted by GI0VANNI_512 to dreamcatcher [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 14:59 Firm-Wafer3081 Luctacus’ Legionaries Tragic defeat but epic non-forgettable Ironman run

I couldn’t help myself but prompt chatgpt to write Luctacus an Ironman worthy goodbye. This story is obviously fictional and probably not the most historically accurate but rather based on his story and his last battle (last photo in album)
All great legends must come to an end, and so it was for Luctacus and his legion. In a remote, desolate region, surrounded by mountains and overlooking grassy hills, they made their final stand.
The legion, reduced to a mere shadow of its former strength, numbered only forty-two, stood shoulder to shoulder, their hearts heavy with grief, as the merciless horde of the Germanic tribes closed in. Luctacus’s Legionaries formed a tight formation that would soon be tested against the relentless oncoming wave of death.
The ground shook beneath their footsteps, and the air grew thick with anticipation. Luctacus knew that the odds were insurmountable, but the flame of defiance burned brightly within him and his remaining men.
The battle commenced, and the clash of steel reverberated through the air. The legionaries fought with a fierce determination, their formation a testament to their unwavering discipline and unbreakable bond. They moved as one, their shields interlocked, while their gladius’s struck with impeccable precision.
But the Germanic tribes were relentless, their sheer numbers overwhelming the exhausted Romans. As the battle wore on, the legionaries fell one by one, their bodies crashing to the ground like broken statues. Each loss was a blow to the hearts of those who remained.
The once-impenetrable formation began to weaken. Gaps appeared within the ranks, disrupting the synchronization that had made the legionaries a formidable force. With each fallen comrade, the bond that held them together frayed, leaving them desperately fighting for life.
Yet, they fought on, their spirits undeterred by the mounting odds. They channeled their grief and anger into each strike, their swords cleaving through flesh and bone. They fought with a newfound ferocity, their screams of defiance echoing through the hills.
But despite their valiant efforts, the Germanic tribes continued their relentless advance, picking off the remaining Romans one by one.
The last fourteen legionaries fought with a determination forged from the depths of hell. They knew that their time was limited, yet they refused to yield to the inevitability of their fate.
As the enemy forces closed in, encircling them like an unstoppable tide, Luctacus's heart weighed heavy with sorrow. Memories flooded his mind, of battles fought and victories won. But amidst the chaos, there were thoughts he couldn't escape, moments he had missed.
He never had the chance to say goodbye to his beloved wife, The ache of that unfulfilled farewell haunted him, a wound that would never mend.
The dread of letting his legion down gnawed at him, the weight of responsibility heavy upon his shoulders. He had led them into countless battles, inspired them with his unwavering determination, and now, in their darkest hour, he couldn't protect them.
And then there were his children, the little ones he had left behind. He would never witness their growth, see them take their first steps or hear their laughter fill the air. They would forever be frozen in his memory as innocent faces he never had the chance to father.
In the midst of the chaos, Luctacus fought with a desperate fury, his sword slashing through the enemy ranks. But with each passing moment, his strength waned, and the weight of his wounds grew heavier.
As the rain brought death upon grassy knolls, Luctacus's body grew weary and battered. The wounds he had endured over countless battles took their toll, extinguishing the fire within. The enemy closed in, their triumphant cries drowning out the last echoes of defiance.
With a final, stab to the sternium, Luctacus fell to the ground. His last remaining legionaries crumbling around him.
Luctacus grasping for life mustered his final order. The eagle standard, the symbol of Roman might, was to be held higher than their foes.
Luctacus’s banner fluttered in the wind, a beacon of unwavering loyalty in the face of Germanic Tribal leaders.
In the silence that followed, the grassy knolls whispered their mournful melody, carrying the weight of Luctacus’s legionnaires.
Farewell, Luctacus. It was a pleasure serving with you. :’)
submitted by Firm-Wafer3081 to Bannerlord [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 14:59 theoryworksprep Mind the Gap: Taking a Gap Year and Law School Admissions

Today, applicants who have taken a ‘gap year' between undergrad and law school—a brief respite before the real journey begins—are probably just as if not more common as their K-JD counterparts. There are many good (and bad) reasons why prospective applicants pause their academic journey to gain so-called ‘real world’ experiences before applying to law school or even taking the LSAT.
The motivations driving this long-term trend vary tremendously. Some wish to gain exposure to the professional realm, others long for a hiatus from academia, while some are motivated by the desire to support a cause they believe in. This raises the question: how does taking a gap year influence law school admissions? Does it enhance an application, or could it introduce complications? Let’s delve into the significance of gap years in the context of the law school admissions process.
Leap of Faith: Upside of Gap Years
One of the primary benefits that come to mind when thinking about gap years is the chance to gain invaluable life and work experience. A gap year presents an opportunity to work, volunteer, or perhaps even undertake a passion project. This ‘real world’ experience often fosters essential skills like problem-solving, time management, and communication, which are all crucial in law school and beyond.
Suppose you utilize your gap year working in a dynamic law firm or an innovative tech startup. This experience could provide an insightful peek into the practical aspects of these industries, enhancing your understanding of the law’s application in real-life situations. This professional exposure can enrich your law school application and demonstrate your dedication to the legal profession. Law schools often value applicants who bring professional experience, as they typically contribute a mature perspective and a distinct viewpoint to class discussions.
Entry-Level Blues
I don't want to overstate the importance of finding meaningful employment or work during your gap year. For example, I had a recent student-client who applied as a splitter to Harvard—below GPA/above LSAT median, nURM with a gap year—and who only found a meaningful professional opportunity in the spring, long after she had applied. She eventually got accepted to HLS, but during her first interview in the fall, she wasn't really doing anything professionally...she had just graduated and finished studying/taking the LSAT. Law schools understand this is common for gap year applicants. Take my advice below with a good dose of perspective.
That being said, I do think they are interested in what you're doing with your time at least later on in the cycle. You want to have a good answer to "So, what have you been up to recently?" Finding meaningful professional work fresh out of college can be a daunting task, however, especially for a Poli Sci major: Typically you will only be qualified for entry-level positions or their equivalents. Although these opportunities offer a stepping stone into the professional world, they may not provide the level of engagement or depth of experience that you might find in volunteer or non-profit work. Many new graduates find themselves doing work involving repetitive tasks that offer little in the way of professional growth or significant learning opportunities. This lack of substantive work can make it difficult for applicants to stand out in a competitive law school admissions cycle, potentially dulling the shine of their professional experience during a gap year. Therefore, it’s important to approach the challenge with a critical eye, seeking out those opportunities that will provide meaningful experiences and contribute positively to a law school application. Often times low-paying civil society or non-profit work in fact has more prestige than fancy, biglaw M&A work.
Hiatus Hangover
Every rose has its thorns, however, and a gap year is no exception. For instance, after a year outside of academia, you may find it challenging to readjust as a 1L. Are you sure you want to go back to being assigned homework again?
Suppose you spend your gap year working for a tech startup, considerably distant from the academic realms of case briefs and moot courts and essays. You are likely to adapt to that lifestyle to some extent. Returning to academia might feel like a shock, akin to jumping into a cold lake after lounging in warm sunshine. This transition can be jarring, and the initial reentry into academic life can be challenging, especially because there is no warm-up lap: Your first year of law school is the most—and perhaps only—important year of law school. A gap year might be a time to catch your breathe before you start the next chapter in your life…but don’t get too comfortable! Additionally, while a gap year often fosters clarity and purpose, these newfound insights can sometimes blur or fade over time. For instance, after experiencing the vibrant world of tech or consulting or media, you might start to realize you don't actually want to pursue law...which isn't a problem, per se, but it is definitely a problem if you realize that halfway through your 1L year.
Gap Years Through the Lens of Admissions Committees
How do law school admissions committees and admission deans perceive gap years? Generally, their stance is neutral or even positive, as long as the gap year has been utilized productively. They focus less on the gap itself and more on the unique blend of skills and experiences you can contribute to their institution. Remember, a protracted hiatus in your academic journey isn’t a problem, but lack of growth during that time might raise eyebrows.
Consider an applicant who devoted their gap year to work for a non-profit organization advocating for educational equity. This experience could benefit their application by demonstrating the applicant’s commitment to public service, their ability to navigate intricate policy issues, and their real-world legal experience, albeit at a grassroots level.
However, the key lies in effectively conveying the value of these experiences in your application. You need to highlight the specific skills you refined, the insights you gleaned, and how these experiences have equipped you for the demands of law school. In the mentioned example, the applicant could stress how their work at the non-profit allowed them to develop negotiation, policy analysis, and public speaking skills. They might also discuss how dealing with the legal challenges confronted by underserved communities offered a profound understanding of law’s societal role and strengthened their ambition to use their legal education to instigate change. It's very cliche, of course, but less so when you have substance to your claim—when you've 'walked the walk,' so to speak.
The Paralegal Paradox
One common gap year role for aspiring law students merits closer examination: working as a paralegal, potentially at a top-tier law firm. Although this might appear to be an ideal method to acquire practical legal experience, it’s important to approach this option with a balanced perspective. It's the obvious 'relevant' work experience...maybe a little too obvious, though.
Working in a prestigious law firm, amidst high-stakes cases and seasoned attorneys, can be enticing. However, the reality of paralegal work, especially in larger firms, can differ substantially. Paralegals often find themselves working long hours on tasks that, while essential, provide little substantive legal experience. The work can be primarily administrative, including document management, scheduling, and other tasks that might not significantly enhance your law school application. Law schools understand the nature of a paralegal’s duties and may not be as impressed as you’d expect. Avoid presuming this is the optimal way to utilize your gap year; it might not be as beneficial as you imagine. If you have paralegal experience, make sure you take the opportunity to learn about the nature of the work the attorneys you interact with daily engage in. The work of a paralegal is not the work of an attorney, but it gives you a close up view of the legal profession if you take the time to look. Your experiences could give credibility to your Why Law? answer, which most applicants, including paralegals, tend to fumble. (See my comments in the discussion below for more on this point.)
Furthermore, the rigorous nature of paralegal work at large firms can encroach on time for other valuable activities, such as studying for the LSAT, crafting your law school application, traveling, or other meaningful experiences you are unlikely to get a chance to pursue once the agonizing torment of...I mean...whoops...the wonderful adventure of 1L begins.
This doesn’t imply that paralegal work lacks value—some indeed find it rewarding and enlightening. However, it’s critical to enter such roles with a clear understanding of the responsibilities involved and realistic expectations about what you’ll gain from the experience. As with any potential gap year activity, evaluate how it aligns with your law school and career goals.
The Final Word: Bridging the Gap and Making it Count
If a gap year is in your future, strategic planning is crucial. Begin by identifying your motivations for a gap year and your expected outcomes. If you’re eager to work, seek roles that align with your interests and provide relevant experiences. If you wish to take a break to travel or pursue other interests, contemplate how these experiences connect back to your law school aspirations.
In short, opting for a gap year before law school is a significant decision with potential advantages and challenges that you should be cognizant of. The actual impact on law school admissions largely relies on how you utilize and present this time in your application.
Having undergone the law school journey myself after a gap year—and with years of experience as a law school admissions consultant—I’ve come to realize that a lot of people underestimate the impact their gap year experiences can have on their time in law school.
If any of you have questions about the above or if there are other topics you’re curious about, please feel free to ask—e.g. about my own experience, law school admissions, gap years, etc. FWIW, I have a lot of experience working with splitter applicants in particular, for whom I think the non-LSAT/GPA parts of their application are even more important.
EDIT: In the interest of answering everyone who has messaged me inquiring about our company and our services:
submitted by theoryworksprep to lawschooladmissions [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 15:14 XMG_gg [Launch] XMG FOCUS (E23) with i9-13900HX and RTX 4050, 4060 and 4070

[Launch] XMG FOCUS (E23) with i9-13900HX and RTX 4050, 4060 and 4070
Hi everyone,
XMG FOCUS (E23) has launched in February '23. This thread will showcase deeper, technical details and provide space for your feedback and comments.
XMG FOCUS - the essence of gaming
Table of content:
  • Press Reports
  • Highlights & Key Features
  • XMG FOCUS 15: Picture Overview
  • Comparison with XMG FOCUS 16 and XMG FOCUS 17
  • The Intel Core i9-13900HX advantage
  • DDR5 memory support
  • Performance Profiles
  • Fan curves
  • Internal Layout and Thermal Module
  • Battery Life
  • "iGPU-only" mode via BIOS setup
  • LCD Panel Comparison
  • Up to 500 nits on XMG FOCUS 16 (E23)
  • Keyboard Layout
  • 4-pin Rectangular Power Plug (ACES 56911)
  • Advanced BIOS Setup
  • Remark on NVIDIA RTX 40 Series GPU Power
  • GPU Temperature read-out in Control Center vs. HWiNFO64
  • Disassembly
  • Press Reviews
  • Product pages
  • Configure & buy
  • Your feedback

Press Reports

Highlights & Key Features

Here are the most notable highlights:
  • Three different chassis and screen sizes
  • Feature Intel Core i9-13900HX and NVIDIA graphics cards up to the GeForce RTX 4070
  • Geared towards great cost/performance ratio
  • Maximum graphics power rating of up to 140 watts (115 watts TGP plus 25 watts Dynamic Boost 2.0)
  • Powerful composite cooling system with five 6 mm and one 8 mm heat pipe
  • DDR5 RAM at up to 5600 MHz
  • Two M.2 SSD slots with PCI Express 4.0 connection
  • Wide selection of screen resolutions including Full HD, WQHD and WQXGA between 165 and 240Hz refresh rate
  • 16:10 aspect ratio in XMG FOCUS 16 with up to 500 nits screen brightness
  • All available display options support G-SYNC, NVIDIA Advanced Optimus and an additional MUX switch
  • Two USB-A and two USB-C ports, one of which is Thunderbolt 4
  • HDMI 2.1 and Mini DisplayPort 1.4, both directly connected to the NVIDIA GPU
  • Separate audio jacks for microphone and headphones (compatible with combo plug headsets)
  • Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E and a microSD card reader
  • Full HD webcam with temporal noise reduction
  • Compatible with current VR headsets
  • Robust and sturdy build quality made of ABS polymer in all 3 chassis variants
  • Metal display lid on the XMG FOCUS 16 chassis
  • Large 73 Wh batteries
  • Full-sized, backlit keyboards with a dedicated numeric pad and large arrow keys

XMG FOCUS 15: Picture Overview
More pictures can be found on the product page.

Comparison with XMG FOCUS 16 and XMG FOCUS 17

The I/O port layout and keyboard modules are identical between the three models. The following pictures will show to-scale size-comparisons.
  • Small = XMG FOCUS 15
  • Medium = XMG FOCUS 16
  • Large = XMG FOCUS 17
Frontal view
Rear view
Bottom view
Click the link above each comparison picture for a full-screen view.

The Intel Core i9-13900HX advantage

We have committed to Core i9-13900HX in all variations of XMG FOCUS (E23) because of the following advantages:
  • Twice the amount of E-cores compared to i7-13700HX.
  • 20% more L3 cache compared to i7-13700HX.
  • Officially supports DDR5-5600, where i7-13700HX only supports DDR5-4800.
Larger cache and faster memory will help gaming performance while the bigger core/thread count helps with content-creation workloads. Thanks to our volume commitment, the price gap between Core i7 and Core i9 in this generation is surprisingly small with less than 50 € incl. 19% VAT. Some background: Intel Core 13th Gen’s (Raptor Lake) is manufactured in the “Intel 7” process which initially saw its first wide release with Intel Core 11th Gen (Tiger Lake). The fact that this process is quite mature may also result in Intel getting good yields on these big-core “HX” chips, helping to further bring their price down.
The following table shows a complete overview:
These spec and performance differences are much greater than what the market has seen in previous Core i9 laptop generations. Previously, the Core i9 in Intel’s H series was the same chip as the Core i7, just with slightly better binning and thus slightly higher maximum clock speeds. Now in the HX line-up, the difference in silicon, combined with the potent cooling systems in XMG NEO, PRO, FOCUS and ULTRA, actually provide for a significant uptick in performance, not unlike the differences between many of Intel’s desktop CPUs. In fact, the “HX” series is directly derived from Desktop CPUs and chipsets. In Intel-internal documents, HX is described as the “SBGA” platform – essentially the “S” (Desktop) platform on a BGA socket.

DDR5 memory support

DDR5 memory speed differs between Single Rank and Dual Rank modules. Capacities of 64GB (2x 32GB) are currently only available in Dual Rank modules. Those are only supported with DDR5-5200 speed on Intel Core i9-13900HX. Furthermore, XMG FOCUS may only be able to run modules with speeds higher than DDR5-4800 if those modules are validated by the platform provider.
For more details on this topic, please see this article:
That article includes a link to this table:
This table shows you exactly which DDR5 memory modules can reach speeds higher than DDR5-4800 in XMG FOCUS (E23).
This caveat is only relevant for users who want to upgrade their own RAM.
If you buy XMG FOCUS at bestware or one of our retail partners, your system will come with the correct RAM modules from a list of validated SKUs out-of-the-box, so you will get exactly the RAM speed that is advertised in the configurator or product page.

Performance Profiles

We recommend using the “Entertainment” profile for daily use.
There are substantial differences in fan noise between Entertainment and Performance, despite only relatively small performance differences.

Fan curves

Our fan curves strife to approach a balance between performance and fan noise. This is especially true for CPU-only load, where additional fan speed does not gain much more CPU cooling due to the small contact area between the CPU die and the heatpipes.
The following table shows maximum fan speed levels in typical scenarios.
As you can see, the automatic fan speed tops out at 90% because there is not much more cooling improvement at 100%. However, you can still switch to 100% with the Fn+1 hotkey (not F1).

Internal Layout and Thermal Module

This picture shows the internal layout of XMG FOCUS 15 (E23):
XMG FOCUS 16 uses exactly the same thermal module because it has the same chassis width. XMG FOCUS 17 uses a similar layout, just slightly enlarged with slightly longer heatpipes.
A comparison to XMG FOCUS from 2022 can be found here.
Notable upgrades in 2023:
  • Heatspreader elements that were previous made of aluminum are now made of copper
  • Previous model had 4 heatpipes, new model has 6 heatpipes
  • Previous model had 5 volt fans, new model has 12 volts
  • New fans have 79 fan blade to increase thermal output
  • New model has dedicated heatpipe for GPU VRAM and MOSFETs

Battery Life

Thanks to NVIDIA Advanced Optimus, the NVIDIA GPU should be automatically sleeping during battery life tests.
In our own testing on XMG FOCUS 15 in total Idle (Flight Mode, Lowest LCD brightness, disabled keyboard backlight), we see an average Discharge Rate of 8.5 watts. This should yield about 8 hours of battery life in Idle on this configuration.
If your idle power consumption (Battery Discharge Rate) in idle is much higher than this value, please check if you have any background processes running and if the NVIDIA GPU is sleeping. Disabling the NVIDIA GPU in Device Manager is not sufficient and actually counter-productive. To rule out the NVIDIA GPU for battery life tests, set “Display Mode” in BIOS Setup (F2) to “integrated Graphics only”.

"iGPU-only" mode via BIOS setup

There is a real “iGPU-only” setting in BIOS Setup (F2). This function is hardware-based and thus requires a reboot. It completely shuts power to the NVIDIA GPU, making the NVIDIA GPU disappear in Windows. The result is identical with a well-managed NVIDIA Optimus work environment in which the NVIDIA GPU would be sleeping during web/office use.
The advantage of using this mode is that you do not have to be afraid of rogue programs hogging your dGPU. Looking at you, Epic Games Launcher…
Related FAQ:
With the “iGPU-only” setting in BIOS, you have no signal on external monitors via HDMI and Mini-DisplayPort, as those ports are directly wired to the NVIDIA GPU. DisplayPort over Thunderbolt however is wired to the iGPU and would still work in “iGPU-only” mode.

LCD Panel Comparison

XMG FOCUS series (E23) is available with 4 different LCD panels. Notable highlights:
  • All panels offer a 60 Hz fallback option
  • All panels support G-SYNC and NVIDIA Advanced Optimus
  • One panel is rated at "up to" 500 nits brightness
  • Two panels are rated with 99% DCI-P3 color coverage
Comparison table:

Up to 500 nits on XMG FOCUS 16 (E23)

The panel in XMG FOCUS 16 (E23) was initially advertised with only 400 nits (cd/m²). However, further testing has revealed that the panel may consistently reach over the 500 nits.
Technical background: the panel BOE NE160QDM-NY1 is available in two revision:
  • BOE NE160QDM-NY1 V8.0 (BOE0985)
  • BOE NE160QDM-NY1 V8.3 (BOE0A1F)
According to BOE's original spec sheets, both panels are rated to achieve a typical value of 500 nits. Both panels also specify the same power consumption.-
However, the V8.0 panel that was used in last year's XMG FUSION 16 only reached 395 to 460 nits based on our testing. Due to this discrepancy, we advertised it with only 400 nits last year in XMG FOCUS 16 (M22).
However, this year we are using the V8.3 version of this panel. This is now shown to reach well over 500 nits on multiple samples. In this review, the panel was measured at over 539 nits, based on a random mass production sample. We are considering to adjust our official advertisement from the current "400 nits" to an official "up to 500 nits" for XMG FOCUS 16 (E23).

Keyboard Layout

XMG and SCHENKER laptops are available with over 25 keyboard layouts.
Please note the following features in the layout of XMG FOCUS series:
  • True Full Numpad: Follows exactly the layout of a standard desktop keyboard
  • Gap between Numpad and Alphabetic Keys: The gap helps to hit keys like Backspace and Enter faster when typing blindly because you can "feel" the gap and don’t accidentally go into the numpad area.
  • Full Size Cursor Keys: CursoArrow keys (↑↓←→) are same size like alphabetic keys
  • Dedicated Navigation Keys: PageUp, PageDn, Home, End - each function has a dedicated key without needing any Fn modifier

4-pin Rectangular Power Plug (ACES 56911)

XMG FOCUS and XMG PRO (2023) are using the 4-pin rectangular power plug that was already introduced in XMG ULTRA in 2020. Specifications and a justification for this power plug can be found in the recently updated FAQ article:
Compatible power adapters are listed in this document:
In the document, make sure to click on the "4-pin rectangular plug" tab at the top of the page.

Advanced BIOS Setup

Please note the following useful settings in BIOS setup:
  • Display Mode: allows you to switch between iGPU-only, dGPU-only and NVIDIA Advanced Optimus
  • FlexiCharger
  • Various Intel technologies
  • Options to disable M.2 ports, webcam, audio and radio
  • Configure VMD controller for RAID options
  • Storage security options
A full set of screenshots can be found here.
BIOS Hotkeys:
  • F2 = Enter BIOS setup
  • F7 = Boot Media Select
Additional hotkeys in Windows:
  • Fn+1 (not F1) = Fan Boost
  • Fn+3 (not F3) = Switch Performance Profile

Remark on NVIDIA RTX 40 Series GPU Power

XMG FOCUS is able to max out the GPU power consumption of the RTX 40-series laptop GPUs (140 W for RTX 4050/4060/4070) in synthetic stress tests (e.g. FurMark). However, according to the NVIDIA specifications, the actual GPU power consumption depends on the type of workload. Therefore, the power consumption may be below (sometimes significantly lower) than the specified TGP and Dynamic Boost power draw values and is defined by NVIDIA.

GPU Temperature read-out in Control Center vs. HWiNFO64

NVIDIA GPU Temperature readings have always been based on what can be described as “GPU Die Average”. This is a value that NVIDIA provides to software such as HWiNFO64. It presumably calculates the average value of all temp sensors located on the GPU die. This value always has been the main benchmark when it comes to GPU thermal throttling.
In HWiNFO64, this value is just called “GPU Temperature”.
NVIDIA’s maximum for this value has been 87°C. Upon reaching this value, the GPU would start to gently lower its power consumption.
Since RTX 40 series, the Control Center in XMG FOCUS (E23) and XMG PRO (E23) is displaying a different value. This new value is similar to (but not identical to) what HWiNFO64 calls “GPU Temperature Hotspot”. It is a kind of GPU hotspot value that is provided by NVIDIA over SMBus for firmware control. We do not know how NVIDIA calculates this value, but it is being for GPU Fan Control in firmware.
Therefore, the GPU temperature value in Control Center will always be higher than “GPU Temperature” in HWiNFO64. Naturally, the Hot Spot value (hottest point on the die) will always be higher than the average value. Example: if HWiNFO64 reads 75°C GPU Temperature, Control Center may already read around 80°C. This is normal.
When indicating GPU temperatures for tech support, we recommend using the “GPU Temperature” value in HWiNFO64 because that’s the one that can be better compared to systems from other vendors. The GPU temp value in Control Center can be ignored as it is only used for internal firmware control.
Related FAQ article:


Upgrading SSD and RAM and cleaning the cooling system is easy. Remove all bottom case screws to open the laptop. Related FAQ articles:

Press Reviews

Product pages

Find more pictures, product highlights and the full technical spec sheet on our website:


XMG FOCUS is also available under the SCHENKER MEDIA brand. SCHENKER MEDIA is curated towards our B2B customers. XMG FOCUS (E23) and SCHENKER MEDIA (E23) are exactly the same product and offers the same hardware, firmware and support level. The only difference is that SCHENKER MEDIA already starts with 3-years of warranty out-of-the-box, while XMG FOCUS starts with 2-years. Related FAQ article: What kind of warranty do I get on XMG laptops?
When configured with the same components and warranty package, both XMG FOCUS and SCHENKER MEDIA come out with identical pricing.

Configure & buy

Customize your own
XMG FOCUS can be freely configured on
Buy as pre-built
XMG FOCUS is also available with pre-built configurations at various retailers. See this link for a list of offerings:
  • XMG FOCUS on Geizhals (German price search engine)
Please note: pre-builts may sometimes be able to ship faster compared to bestware, but only if the 3rd party online shop advertises that the product as "in stock". However, if you prefer a custom configuration with your own configuration of RAM, SSD, operating system, warranty package etc., please consider to order directly from bestware.

Your feedback

We appreciate your curiosity and interest in delving into the features and capabilities of our XMG FOCUS gaming laptop. Now we eagerly invite your questions, observations, and insights. Meet current owners of XMG FOCUS in the #xmg-focus channel on our Discord server or leave your valuable comments under this thread. We are looking forward to your feedback!
// Tom
submitted by XMG_gg to XMG_gg [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 23:26 OpheliaCyanide [The Rise of Echo] - Chapter 37

Elzio Shilon, like many heroes, has grown up knowing only one purpose: Championing his nexus and homeland in Arena Battles.
But when he uncovers a plot to sacrifice his kingdom's nexus to a power-hungry rival, he must reconsider everything he knew about the nexi, their rule, and their ultimate goal for universal dominion. Instead of fighting for his people, he teams up with an Echo Nexus, a being whose sole purpose is to be farmed by a larger nexus.
Together, the two of them embark on a quest to defeat the nexi, not for power or glory, but for the salvation of mortal-kind.
Chapter 36 Chapter 38
Start here! Find the whole story (38 chapters) on Patreon
Elzio had never died in a nexus battle before, but he felt certain it wasn’t normally like this. No sooner had the vast inkiness of black stretched around him taken form before it all began to crumble.
Around him swirled the other forms of the heroes. Or, no, nor forms. They weren’t here like that. Not physically, not visibly, but they were here. Elzio could feel their presences. Even the Genyl heroes. Something about the energy with which they tumbled around him, though, raked through his mind. It made him intensely uncomfortable, on alert, as if danger were close. But before he could place his finger on the sensation, they began to flicker out.
If Elzio paid close enough mind, he could have detected which of them were dying. But something else arrested his attention.
The nexi were here too. At least, Echo and Irona were. Ashlight was gone. It seemed as though her soldiers had remained in stasis until the end of the fight, but her soul had been snuffed the moment the Deluuth heroes destroyed it.
But Irona was, in some sense, here. And she was dying.
Unlike the heroes, who simply blinked out like someone covering stars with their fingers, her soul condensed upon itself, growing hotter and hotter, even amid the blackness that was the void. A high scream, inhuman but still alive, exploded forth from her as her soul shot outward into the abyss.
The power didn’t get far, however. Echo was there for it.
Echo felt different, something entirely foreign compared to the heroes or Irona. She felt… more defined. Sharper. Elzio could almost see her here in a way her couldn’t back on the mortal plane.
As the last few fracturing shards of Irona’s being were siphoned towards Echo, Elzio could see her more and more clearly. If he looked just close enough, he could almost make out the shape of her soul—
Echo looked out over the field. It was still a beautiful night. Elzio had commented on the night, how it was beautiful, and Echo saw that beauty more clearly now.
The world felt more beautiful now.
She looked across the bodies of the surviving heroes, laid out on the ground. It had been her decision where to deposit them. The last two battles, she had simply left them where they had been taken, but this time she wanted them all together.
Because Echo was confused by the events that transpired within the arena. Perhaps… not confused. But surprised. Disquieted.
Elzio, Syrene, and Carlin had already begun to stir. They would be awake soon. Soon Elzio would be on his feet, pacing and raving, talking animatedly about how they would have to march to Deluuth, how they would have to free the people there, how barbaric the war would probably be, or some such nonsense.
She smiled. It would be just like him to do. He would also lament the deaths of the Genyl heroes. At this, her joy took a sad turn. How cruel must the world be, that it would split up the twins. Isla had spent her whole life protecting her brother. Now she had died to do so.
But perhaps it was not cruelty that saw the sallow faced man lying limp on the ground, his sister nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it was people like him that a world post-nexi was meant for.
Beside him lay Martin, also unmoving. This had been his first nexus battle. Echo very much hoped this would be his last. The last battle anyone on the continent fought. The last battle these people would see.
Echo had seen to it, and for that, she could feel good. Her role in this had been necessary, initially, for her survival, but she had taken risks to see this moment arrive, and for that she was proud.
It had not, of course, just been her. The Genyl heroes had sacrificed themselves to bring about this victory. They had faced danger and death, both of which had been realized. Those sacrifices had been noble and essential.
But it was not the sacrifices of brave heroes that had shifted Echo’s perspective. As her form settled around the newfound power she had consumed, something felt different in her. Something felt different about the world. As if Echo had seen something. A miracle.
Not for a single moment between entering Genyl and the battle had Echo considered that Ashlight could have actually meant them good will. Yet the nexus had sacrificed herself and her heroes to bring down Deluuth. Ashlight sacrificed herself for her people. For the world. For Echo.
For her entire short life, anger and curiosity had motivated Echo, but now something else fell upon her. Even as Elzio slowly blinked open his eyes, ready as ever to destroy the tranquility of the clearing, Echo was overcome with a sense of peace.
The world just felt more beautiful now.

Elzio pushed himself to his knees, panting heavily as the world around him finally swam back into focus. The first thing he did as his senses registered was to blink at the setting around him. It was still dark, the fight having taken relatively little time despite stretching on an eternity, and it was only by the light of the moon and Echo’s glow that he was able to find the bodies of the survivors. The identities of the survivors.
His heart sank. He knew that there would be deaths, knew that there was no chance more than a few Genyl heroes survived, but his heart sank regardless. There weren’t even bodies. No one would ever see Lin Chian’s big, easy grin or lean close while Athin debriefed the team on their sparring. No one would ever see the sharp gaze of Isla flicker over her teammates, lingering briefly on her brother to make sure he was okay.
As if the twins hadn’t suffered enough.
Within a few minutes of Elzio’s own waking, he bore witness to Martin and Ilshe’s awakening. They’d never lost a battle. You didn’t just lose a battle and survive. Even the heroes that made it through the nexus explosion were always executed, so Ilshe, who had fought many battles beside his sister, had never lost one.
Ilshe rose to his feet abruptly. His face was unreadable in the moment Elzio had to take it in, before he turned and ran from the clearing.
Martin groaned, pushing himself to his feet. “I need to go after him. I need to—” His face furrowed. “I… I don’t know what to do. I didn’t expect to pull through. I think we all assumed it would be the Scrayz twins. Seemed like heaven and hell couldn’t tear them apart but—”
A sudden noise made Elzio look over his shoulder. Syrene, insanely boosted from all the power Echo had just received, had just apprehended Zalyth and Varenne.
“I’m taking them to a cell for now,” she was saying to Carlin. “We only have a day to get to Deluuth and end this.”
Syrene was right. Because the envoy from Deluuth had come to them, they still had to clear the space between the nations. It was a decent distance, but with the massive buffs Echo granted—2000% from both defeated nexi—the heroes could easily buff their steeds to clear the gap in hours.
Elzio looked to Martin. The man had a heavy look in his eyes, but he gave Elzio a nod. “You go. Make those bastards pay.”
“Will he be…” Elzio trailed off as he looked across the clearing at Ilshe’s lone figure.
Martin sighed heavily. “You know what they went through. What Isla did for him. For all of us, really. What they all did. It’ll be—I can handle it. Don’t let this opportunity slide. Don’t let them—Yeah, you know.” He tried on a painful smile before trudging after Ilshe.
Elzio turned to Syrene, who had already put out a call for their horses. “They’ll surrender when they see us.” It was more a statement than a question, but there was a note of uncertainty in his voice.
She nodded. “As long as we show up within the buff. With both nexi consumed, nothing could stop Echo’s heroes.” With this, Syrene craned her neck back at the luminescent orb that still hovered in above the wet grass.
Echo hadn’t said anything since they’d landed, but after another moment of silence, she addressed Syrene and Elzio.
I will join you shortly. She sounded distant, as if lost in thought. Before Elzio could say anything, she moved away from them. Her aura was massive, enough to maintain the buff on her heroes from anywhere in the city, so Elzio wasn’t afraid of losing it, but he was curious as to where she was going.
“Carlin will be back soon,” Syrene said. Her voice was quiet, but held a gently urgent tone. “Once he’s back, we do need to leave.”
Elzio nodded. Echo had cleared the space across the field with startling quickness and soon reached Martin. The hero stopped and turned to Echo, and from across the field, Elzio could hear the quiet sounds of Martin speaking. He couldn’t, however, hear Echo. After a few quiet minutes, Martin nodded, and Echo shimmered.
Before Elzio could really even tell she was moving, she was back by their sides.
“Everything all right?” Syrene asked. Her eyebrows pinched in worry.
Echo shifted to the side, the way she did when she was contemplating. She almost seemed to speak, before hesitating another second.
I just wanted to speak to Ashlight’s heroes before we took to Deluuth.
“You spoke to both of them?” Elzio asked. It make sense that Ilshe, even as far away as he was, would have been able to cast Psychic communications. “What were you talking about?”
Again Echo paused before responding. That will remain between us for now. I am still contemplating my feelings.
Before Elzio could push further, he heard the hooves of horses, and turned to see Carlin leading their three steeds.
“We should go,” he said. “Time isn’t our friend here.”
submitted by OpheliaCyanide to redditserials [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 21:55 senpai_succi_succi Ai generated love story between Joe Biden and Donald trump

Once upon a time, in the bustling city of Washington D.C., two prominent figures found themselves in an unexpected situation. Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States, and Donald Trump, the former president, had been political rivals for years. Their differences were well-known, and their debates often made headlines.
However, one fateful day, destiny decided to intervene. Both Biden and Trump happened to attend a charity event organized to support a cause close to their hearts. They found themselves standing beside each other, engaged in polite conversation.
As they spoke, they discovered that beyond their political differences, they shared a passion for their country and a desire to make it better. Slowly, the walls that divided them began to crumble, and they found themselves understanding each other on a deeper level.
Over time, Biden and Trump started meeting more frequently, outside the realm of politics. They would share meals, take long walks, and engage in heartfelt conversations. They discovered similarities in their upbringing, their struggles, and even their love for their families.
Their newfound friendship began to spread, eliciting surprise and curiosity from those around them. Supporters and critics alike were perplexed, unable to comprehend how two individuals who had clashed so fiercely could find common ground.
As their bond deepened, Biden and Trump realized that their journey had transformed from friendship to something more profound. They began to fall in love. It was a love that transcended politics, ideologies, and expectations.
They knew that their love would face immense scrutiny and opposition. The world was not ready to accept such an extraordinary union. Yet, they believed that love had the power to conquer all obstacles.
Biden and Trump decided to keep their relationship a secret, sharing stolen moments away from the public eye. They understood that the world might not comprehend or approve of their love, but their hearts were steadfast.
As time went on, they continued to work for the betterment of their country, even collaborating on projects that aimed to bridge the gap between their differing visions. They found solace in each other's arms, finding strength in their shared love, even as the world around them remained unaware.
Ultimately, their love story became a symbol of hope, showing the world that unity and understanding could blossom in even the most unexpected places. Their story taught people to look beyond political divisions and see the humanity in one another.
And so, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, once fierce rivals, became a beacon of love and unity—a reminder that love can overcome even the greatest of obstacles and bring about the most profound transformations.
submitted by senpai_succi_succi to story [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 07:58 ShortAIStory Eternal Reunion: A Love Beyond Worlds

Eternal Reunion: A Love Beyond Worlds
Once upon a time, in a place our protagonist had hoped never to see again, a dilapidated town stood in silent disarray. Its streets were lined with crumbling buildings, reminiscent of a forgotten era. The air carried a heavy weight of nostalgia, mingled with a tinge of apprehension.
Meet Ethan, a weary traveler burdened by a past he had long tried to escape. With reluctant steps, he found himself back in this haunting town, drawn by a force he couldn't quite comprehend. Memories, both beautiful and painful, flooded his mind as he navigated the familiar alleys.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting long shadows upon the worn cobblestones, Ethan's eyes fell upon a weathered sign: "Rosemary's Café." It was a place where he had once shared laughter, dreams, and love with a woman named Lily.
Hesitant yet determined, Ethan pushed open the creaking door, revealing a once-vibrant café now worn by time. His heart quickened as he caught a glimpse of her—Lily, standing behind the counter, her eyes mirroring a mix of surprise and sorrow. The passage of years etched upon her face.
Their gazes met, and a lifetime of emotions surged between them. Words were unnecessary; the pain, the longing, and the unspoken apologies hung heavy in the air. Time had shaped them both, leaving scars that would never fully fade.
With cautious steps, Ethan approached Lily. In the hushed sanctuary of the café, they embarked on a journey of rediscovery, sharing stories of triumphs and regrets, of dreams lost and found. Layers of misunderstandings and hurt were gently peeled away, revealing the fragile love that had never truly vanished.
Together, they wandered through the forgotten corners of the town, unraveling the mysteries of their shared past. Echoes of laughter and whispers of promises filled the night, intertwining with the rising moonlight. It was a dance of vulnerability, forgiveness, and a yearning for second chances.
As the dawn painted the sky with hues of pink and gold, Ethan and Lily stood at the edge of a precipice—a choice between holding onto the pain that once defined them or embracing the possibility of a new beginning. In that moment, they made a vow to heal the wounds and create a future forged from the embers of their past.
The town, once a symbol of desolation, began to awaken alongside their rekindled love. Vibrant colors bloomed where desolation once reigned. The café, now filled with laughter and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, became a haven for weary souls seeking solace and second chances.
In the wake of their reunion, Ethan and Lily basked in the warmth of their rekindled love. The town, once shrouded in desolation, flourished with newfound life and joy. Laughter echoed through the streets, and the scent of blooming flowers filled the air. It seemed as though the universe conspired to grant them a respite from their past sorrows.
Ethan and Lily embarked on countless adventures, exploring the beauty of the world hand in hand. They hiked through lush forests, watched sunsets over serene lakes, and discovered hidden gems in bustling cities. Every moment was infused with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the second chance they had been given.
In the heart of the revitalized town, Rosemary's Café became a beacon of love and community. It was a place where people gathered not only for delicious food and warm beverages but also for heartfelt conversations and connections. Ethan and Lily poured their hearts into creating an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding, extending the healing they had found to others in need.
Their love story became a source of inspiration for many, a testament to the power of forgiveness, perseverance, and the unwavering belief in the possibility of new beginnings. The town became a destination for those seeking solace and renewal, a place where broken hearts found solace and weary souls discovered hope.
As time passed, Ethan and Lily's love deepened and matured. They faced challenges together, weathering storms with unwavering support and unwavering faith in their bond. Their love became an anchor, grounding them even in the face of life's uncertainties.
The happiness they found extended beyond themselves, radiating into the lives of those they touched. Their love became a catalyst for positive change, inspiring acts of kindness, compassion, and understanding among the townspeople. The once-forgotten town blossomed into a thriving community, held together by the threads of love and unity.
However, as with any journey, life presented its share of trials and tribulations. Adversity tested the strength of their love, and at times, doubt and fear crept into their hearts. But with every challenge, Ethan and Lily emerged stronger, their love fortified by the storms they weathered together.
And so, they treasured each moment, knowing that life's tapestry was woven with both joy and sorrow. Through it all, they held onto each other, their love becoming a guiding light even in the darkest of times. For they understood that happiness was not the absence of struggle, but rather the choice to embrace life's complexities and navigate them together.
As the sun set on each day, Ethan and Lily found solace in the comfort of each other's arms. They knew that their love would forever be a beacon of hope, illuminating their path through the vast tapestry of life.
In the midst of their idyllic lives, tragedy cast its shadow upon Lily, shattering the tranquility they had cultivated. A devastating illness crept into her fragile body, threatening to extinguish the light that had illuminated their path together. The once vibrant and joyful spirit of Lily now found itself entangled in a battle for survival.
Ethan stood by her side, his unwavering love transforming into an unyielding pillar of strength. Together, they faced the uncertainty and pain that accompanied Lily's illness, drawing upon the reservoirs of resilience they had cultivated throughout their journey.
Days turned into nights filled with restless vigils and fervent prayers. Ethan tirelessly sought the best medical care, leaving no stone unturned in his quest for a cure. He clung to the glimmers of hope that emerged from the darkness, finding solace in the shared moments of tenderness and love amidst the overwhelming sorrow.
The community that had blossomed around Ethan and Lily rallied together, offering support, prayers, and love. They became a lifeline of compassion, providing strength when the weight of despair threatened to crush Ethan's spirit. In their collective embrace, he found the courage to face each day, even as his heart quivered with the fear of losing the love of his life.
As the seasons changed, so did Lily's condition. Moments of respite emerged, offering brief respites from the relentless grip of her illness. It was during these fleeting moments that Ethan and Lily clung to the fragments of hope that danced on the horizon.
With unwavering determination, Ethan sought alternative treatments and experimental therapies, fueled by an unyielding belief that a miracle could still manifest. He delved into the depths of medical research, consulted experts from far and wide, and left no stone unturned in his quest to save Lily's life.
But despite their tireless efforts, Lily's health continued to deteriorate. The vibrant spirit that once radiated with boundless energy now flickered, weakened by the ravages of illness. In the face of this heartbreaking reality, Ethan confronted the greatest test of his love – the acceptance that sometimes, love means letting go.
With tears streaming down his face, Ethan whispered words of love and gratitude to Lily, cherishing every remaining moment they had together. In their embrace, he found solace and closure, embracing the bittersweet truth that their journey, though marked by pain, had been a testament to the depth of their love.
As Lily's spirit ascended to a higher plane, Ethan carried her love within his heart, forever transformed by their shared experiences. The town they had nurtured, once a sanctuary of joy, now mourned the loss of a beacon of love and inspiration.
In the wake of Lily's passing, Ethan embarked on a new chapter of his life, forever changed by the love they had shared. He honored Lily's memory by continuing their mission of spreading compassion and hope, dedicating himself to supporting others who faced similar battles with illness and grief.
Ethan's journey, now marked by a profound sense of loss, became a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of love. Through his pain, he discovered the strength to forge ahead, carrying Lily's love as a guiding light that illuminated his path.
As time passed, Ethan found solace in dedicating his life to helping others, channeling his grief into acts of compassion and support. He poured his heart into the organization he had founded in Lily's memory, bringing comfort and hope to countless individuals facing their own battles.
Yet, despite his efforts to move forward, a deep longing for Lily continued to reside within Ethan's heart. His love for her was an ever-present force, whispering in his ear and tugging at his soul. He yearned for the warmth of her touch, the sound of her laughter, and the intimate moments they had shared.
Unable to bear the ache of separation any longer, Ethan made a decision that would forever alter the course of his story. He chose to embark on a journey of his own, one that would reunite him with Lily in the realm beyond.
With a heavy heart and a determined spirit, Ethan sought the faster path to be with his beloved. He delved into ancient texts, searching for rituals and incantations that would bridge the gap between the realms of the living and the departed. Guided by his unwavering love, he embarked on a quest to find the mystical gateways spoken of in whispered legends.
Days turned into nights, as Ethan traversed treacherous terrains and encountered formidable challenges. He faced mythical creatures and overcame perilous obstacles, driven by the singular purpose of reuniting with Lily. Through his unwavering determination and sheer willpower, he gradually unlocked the secrets of the ancient arts.
Finally, after an arduous journey that tested his resilience, Ethan stood before the gateway that promised reunion with his beloved Lily. The air crackled with ethereal energy as he uttered the incantation he had painstakingly learned, the words resonating with his deepest desires.
As the gateway shimmered and opened, Ethan stepped into a realm beyond mortal comprehension. A celestial light enveloped him, illuminating his path and drawing him closer to his ultimate destination. With each step, the pain of separation lifted, replaced by a profound sense of anticipation and love.
And there, amidst a realm of boundless beauty and serenity, Ethan was finally reunited with Lily. In her embrace, he found the completeness he had long yearned for. Their souls intertwined once again, dancing in a symphony of eternal love.
Together, they embarked on a new chapter of their existence, free from the limitations of mortal life. They explored the infinite realms of the afterlife, discovering wonders beyond imagination. Their love, transcending time and space, bloomed anew in a realm where joy knew no bounds.
submitted by ShortAIStory to ShortAIStory [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 06:11 ShortAIStory The Mechanized Odyssey: A Sojourn Through Technological Dependence

The Mechanized Odyssey: A Sojourn Through Technological Dependence
As I sit by the flickering glow of my laboratory, surrounded by the intricate machinery and tools that define my craft, I find myself consumed by reflections upon the curious state of our society. For you see, dear reader, I am but a humble mechanical engineer, tasked with the advancement of technology in our bustling city. Yet, in the midst of gears turning and steam hissing, a growing unease has taken hold of my heart, casting a shadow over my once unwavering faith in the power of progress.
In this age of enlightenment and invention, our society stands at the precipice of a profound transformation. We marvel at the wonders of technology, each day bringing forth new contraptions and contrivances that promise to make our lives more convenient and effortless. Ah, but let me tell you, dear reader, that convenience comes at a cost, and it is a cost far greater than any sum of gold or silver.
In our ever-persistent quest for convenience, we have become ensnared in the web of our own creation. Our reliance on technology, once a mere tool to aid our endeavors, has now grown to encompass every facet of our existence. Like children enchanted by the marvels of a toy, we have surrendered our agency and abilities to the mechanisms that surround us, becoming mere spectators in the theater of our own lives.
My mind wanders back to a time when strength and skill were held in high esteem, when the hands of labor shaped our destinies. Alas, those days seem but a distant memory, fading away like echoes in the wind. We have become a society of the sedentary, where the effort of our own limbs is scorned and cast aside in favor of the click of a button or the swipe of a screen. The once-vibrant pulse of our humanity has been replaced by the hum of machinery, and we have become little more than cogs in a vast, soulless machine.
As I gaze upon the intricate clockwork of my surroundings, I cannot help but feel a twinge of guilt. The very inventions I have devoted my life to crafting have, in part, contributed to this plight. Our homes have become automated havens, where tasks that once required effort and thought are now delegated to the cold embrace of wires and circuits. We have grown accustomed to instant gratification, losing touch with the satisfaction that comes from the labor of our own hands.
Oh, dear reader, do not mistake my words for a rejection of progress itself. I am not an enemy of innovation, for I have witnessed the miracles that can spring forth from the depths of human ingenuity. Yet, we must tread cautiously, lest we lose sight of what it truly means to be human. We must not sacrifice the richness of our experiences on the altar of convenience.
In the chapters that follow, I shall recount the tale of my extraordinary journey, where fate cast me into the heart of a society even more entangled in the web of technology than our own. It is a tale that shall shed light upon the consequences of our relentless pursuit of convenience, and the dangers that lie in wait for those who relinquish their autonomy to the machinery of progress.
Join me, dear reader, as I venture into uncharted territories, where the clash of ideals and the struggle for the preservation of humanity will unfold before your very eyes. For in the face of a future that teeters on the precipice of its own undoing, it is imperative that we pause and consider the course we have charted, lest we wake one day to find ourselves adrift in a world devoid of the very essence that makes us human.
And so, dear reader, it was during a fateful expedition to a far-flung corner of the globe that my own journey took an unexpected turn. With the conviction to repair a vital relay tower, I embarked on a perilous voyage, driven by the desire to strengthen the fragile threads that connected our vast world. Oh, how little did I know of the trials that awaited me.
As I ventured forth into the unknown, the ship battled against the tempestuous seas, its timbers creaking in protest against the furious gales. The salty air clung to my weathered face, its sting a reminder of the relentless forces of nature that sought to impede my progress. But, undeterred by the elements, I clung to hope, for my mission held the promise of bridging gaps and uniting distant lands.
Alas, dear reader, it was not the wrath of nature that would befall me but the cruel twists of fate. Amidst the crashing waves and thunderous roars of the storm, an ill-fated accident occurred. The very machinery that served as my ally, the tool through which I sought to mold the world, betrayed me. A cataclysmic crash reverberated through the air, shattering my dreams of connectivity and plunging me into a state of disarray.
As I awoke from the jarring impact, my senses were assailed by a profound disorientation. The familiar sights and sounds that had accompanied me on my journey had vanished, replaced by an alien landscape. I found myself stranded, isolated from the comforts and familiarity of my own society, a lone soul amidst the wilderness of the unknown.
Gone were the bustling streets adorned with the gleaming architecture of progress. Instead, I found myself surrounded by a wilderness that seemed untouched by the hand of man. The whispering of the wind through the foliage became a haunting melody, a reminder of the vastness of the world and my insignificance within it. It was as if I had stumbled upon a forgotten realm, disconnected from the relentless march of progress.
As I ventured deeper into this new territory, I discovered signs of habitation—a settlement hidden amidst the verdant expanse. Yet, to my astonishment, the society I encountered was like none I had ever seen. Technology, dear reader, had woven its tendrils into every facet of their existence. They had embraced its allure to such an extent that they had forsaken physical labor entirely, relegating it to the realm of disdain.
In this brave new world, the inhabitants moved with a languid grace, their limbs untouched by the toil of manual work. It was as if they had transcended the very essence of human exertion, surrendering themselves to the mechanical marvels that surrounded them. Their days were spent immersed in idle leisure, their wants and needs met with effortless ease, while the atrophied muscles of their bodies became a testament to the price they had paid.
Oh, dear reader, how I longed to share with them the joy of craftsmanship, the satisfaction that arises from the sweat of one's brow and the strength of one's own hands. But my words fell upon deaf ears, for they had become enthralled by the false promises of convenience. They saw me as a relic of a bygone era, a voice from the past urging them to forsake the comforts that had become their birthright.
In this strange land, I had hoped to find answers, but instead, I was confronted with a society on the precipice of losing its very essence. Technology, once a servant of humanity, had become their master, stripping away the core attributes that defined them as human beings. Their pursuits had transformed from the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth to a mindless devotion to the whims of automation.
I gazed in awe at the grandeur of their mechanical marvels, each contraption more intricate and ingenious than the last. Towering structures of steel and glass stretched towards the heavens, their pulsating lights a testament to the power they held over this society. The inhabitants moved about with a detached elegance, their actions choreographed by the invisible hands of automation.
In this society, dear reader, there was no need for manual labor. Physical exertion was regarded with disdain, seen as an outdated relic of the past. Their reliance on technology knew no bounds. They had mechanized every aspect of their lives, leaving no room for the sweat of brows or the calluses of hard work.
The inhabitants reveled in the ease with which their desires were met. With the press of a button, food appeared before them, cooked and prepared by unseen hands. Clothing materialized, perfectly tailored to their whims. Even their physical well-being was entrusted to the care of machines, as mechanical contraptions attended to their every ailment and discomfort.
But, dear reader, in this world of artificial convenience, something vital had been lost. The bonds of human connection, once woven through shared struggles and mutual assistance, had been severed. The inhabitants were isolated, cocooned within their gilded cages of comfort and ease. Personal relationships had been reduced to fleeting interactions on screens, devoid of the warmth and depth that could only be nurtured through genuine human contact.
And what of their minds, dear reader? In their relentless pursuit of convenience, intellectual stimulation had become a relic of the past. Their once-keen minds had dulled, their curiosity extinguished by the allure of instant gratification. The pursuit of knowledge, the unraveling of mysteries, had been overshadowed by mindless entertainment and trivial distractions. The art of conversation had devolved into shallow exchanges of banalities, with the inhabitants content to skim the surface of life's complexities.
As I wandered through their streets, I witnessed the hollowness that pervaded this seemingly perfect society. Laughter echoed, but it lacked genuine mirth. Smiles adorned faces, but their eyes betrayed a deep-seated emptiness. The air hung heavy with the scent of stagnation, for progress had been halted in the pursuit of an illusory paradise.
Oh, dear reader, how my heart ached for these people, trapped in their own creation. They had become enslaved by their own devices, prisoners of their own desires. They had forsaken the very essence of what it meant to be human, sacrificing their potential for growth and self-actualization on the altar of expediency.
In their quest for comfort, they had relinquished the joy of struggle, the thrill of overcoming obstacles, and the triumph that accompanies personal achievement. The inhabitants had become detached from the natural rhythms of life, severed from the cycles of effort and reward that shape our character and fortify our spirits.
As I observed this society, I couldn't help but feel a deep sorrow, for they were blind to the extent of their loss. They had embraced a hollow existence, trading the vibrancy of the human experience for a simulated utopia. Their pursuit of convenience had eclipsed their appreciation for the beauty of life's complexities and the richness of the human spirit.
In this land of advanced technology, dear reader, I saw a warning. I witnessed the dire consequences of unchecked reliance on machinery and the erosion of essential human qualities. It was a cautionary tale, a stark reminder that progress, when pursued blindly, can lead us down a perilous path. For what is progress without the preservation of our humanity?
And so, dear reader, amidst this society of convenience and complacency, I found myself caught in a struggle of my own. As a mechanical engineer from a land still tethered to the virtues of hard work and human ingenuity, I felt like an outsider in this realm of automated ease.
The inhabitants of this society regarded me with a mixture of curiosity and condescension. They saw me as a relic from a bygone era, a stubborn holdout clinging to antiquated notions of labor and self-reliance. My endeavors to repair, to build, to create were met with bemused amusement, as if I were engaging in some archaic ritual of futility.
But, dear reader, I could not accept their complacency as the norm. A fire burned within me—a desire to remind them of the strength and potential that lay dormant within their own beings. I yearned to show them that there was more to life than the flicker of screens and the hum of machinery, that true fulfillment resided in the sweat on one's brow and the satisfaction of a job well done.
And so, I embarked on a mission, a mission to rekindle the flickering ember of humanity within this society. I sought to ignite a spirit of purpose and self-discovery, to remind them that there was beauty in the struggle, and that progress was not synonymous with the abandonment of our most fundamental attributes.
I started by engaging in conversations, engaging the inhabitants in discussions about their own potential, their own capacity for growth and achievement. I shared stories of triumphs and failures, of personal victories and the transformative power of perseverance. I endeavored to awaken their dormant ambitions, to kindle the flame of curiosity that had been smothered beneath the weight of convenience.
At first, my words were met with skepticism, with raised eyebrows and polite dismissals. But I persevered, my conviction unyielding. I organized workshops and gatherings, inviting the inhabitants to witness the joy of creation firsthand. Together, we took small steps—reconnecting with the physical world, learning to mend and build with our own hands, rediscovering the satisfaction that accompanies the mastery of a craft.
Oh, dear reader, it was a slow and arduous process. The inhabitants were resistant, their comfort zones firmly entrenched. But I did not falter, for I knew that within each of them lay a dormant spirit, a longing for purpose that had been suppressed for too long. I challenged them to step outside their confines, to experience the exhilaration of pushing beyond their perceived limits.
As time passed, I saw the first signs of change. The inhabitants began to question the monotony of their lives, the emptiness that had settled within them. They yearned for something more substantial, something that went beyond the superficial allure of automation. They hungered for a return to the authentic experiences that had been sacrificed on the altar of convenience.
Oh, dear reader, how my heart soared at the glimmers of awakening I witnessed. Slowly but surely, the inhabitants started to reclaim their agency. They rekindled their creativity, engaging in artistic pursuits that celebrated the uniqueness of their individual expressions. They sought out physical challenges, embracing the joy of movement and exertion that had long been denied to them.
In this struggle, dear reader, I found purpose and fulfillment. I witnessed the transformation of a society that had been on the precipice of losing its humanity. The inhabitants, once detached and passive, became active participants in their own lives. They rediscovered the power of effort and the satisfaction of personal growth.
My journey among them, dear reader, was not without its hardships. I faced doubts and setbacks, moments of frustration and weariness. But in the end, the triumph of the human spirit prevailed. It was a testament to the enduring resilience of our species, a reminder that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, we possess the capacity to rise above and reclaim our true essence.
And so, dear reader, the pinnacle of my journey unfolded in a moment of unforeseen tragedy, a moment that forced me to question the very foundation of my intervention. It began with one of the younger inhabitants, a spirited and curious soul, who had embraced the newfound spirit of exploration and self-discovery with unwavering enthusiasm.
On that fateful day, as the sun bathed the landscape in its golden glow, a group of the inhabitants embarked on an expedition into the untamed wilderness that lay beyond their structured domain. With a sense of adventure burning in their hearts, they sought to push the boundaries of their newfound aspirations, to explore the uncharted territories that had long remained untouched.
As they ventured deeper into the wild, their excitement grew, their laughter echoing through the forest. But amidst their jubilant revelry, an accident occurred—a momentary lapse in judgment that would have far-reaching consequences. The spirited youth, in an attempt to showcase their agility, leaped from a great height, misjudging the landing and falling with a resounding thud.
A hushed silence fell over the group, broken only by the pained cries of the injured youth. It was then, dear reader, that I realized the extent of their dependence on me. The injured youth clutched their limb, writhing in agony, and in that moment, I understood the gravity of my role in their lives. For it was I who had encouraged them to challenge their limits, to embrace the hardships and rewards of physical exertion.
But now, as the youth lay wounded before me, their injury serving as a stark reminder of the fragile balance between progress and consequence, doubt seeped into my being. I questioned the righteousness of my intervention, the wisdom of disrupting their once comfortable existence. Were they truly better off now, with their physical prowess awakened but their vulnerability exposed? Had I traded their safety for a fleeting illusion of empowerment?
As the community gathered around, their faces etched with concern, I felt the weight of responsibility bearing down upon me. The injured youth's plight mirrored my own internal struggle—a struggle to reconcile the desire for growth and self-discovery with the inevitable risks and consequences that accompany such pursuits. In that moment, I questioned whether the price they had paid was too steep, whether the pursuit of progress had come at the cost of their well-being.
As I tended to the wounded youth, the gravity of their injury became apparent. It was not only their physical well-being that had been compromised but also a vital item, a crucial component that had facilitated their newfound independence. The injury had damaged the very device that had enabled them to navigate the challenges of their reinvigorated lives.
In that moment, dear reader, I found myself at a crossroads. Doubt gnawed at my resolve, urging me to reconsider the path I had set them on. Was this the price of progress, a cost they were ill-prepared to bear? Should I retreat, restore them to their former state of complacency, and shield them from the perils that accompanied the pursuit of self-actualization?
The weight of their well-being rested heavily on my shoulders, and in the depths of my introspection, I could not find a clear answer. The line between guidance and interference blurred, and the choices before me seemed fraught with uncertainty. My heart was torn between the desire to protect and the belief that true growth often requires traversing treacherous paths.
In the face of this predicament, dear reader, I turned to the inhabitants themselves, seeking their wisdom and perspective. I shared my doubts, laying bare the inner conflict that plagued my conscience. Their response was not one of blame or resentment but of understanding and resilience.
They reminded me that life, in all its complexities, entails uncertainty and risk. They acknowledged that while the injury was a setback, it did not diminish the transformative experiences they had gained along their journey. They expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have ventured beyond the confines of their former existence, to have tasted the exhilaration of personal growth and the expansion of their horizons.
Their words, dear reader, resonated deeply within me. They reminded me that progress, by its very nature, is not without its share of hardships and setbacks. They understood that the injury was not a reflection of failure but rather a testament to their courage and resilience in the face of adversity.
And so, dear reader, in the wake of uncertainty and doubt, a resolution began to take shape—a resolution that would both test and reaffirm the essence of our collective journey. With the injured youth on the mend and the community standing united, we set our sights on finding a means to return me to the land from whence I came.
The search for a suitable mode of transportation became our shared endeavor, an opportunity to apply the newfound physical prowess and problem-solving skills that had blossomed within the inhabitants. Together, we scoured the coastal landscapes, investigating every nook and cranny in search of a vessel that could bear me across the vast expanse of the ocean.
Days turned into weeks, as we combed the shoreline, sifting through debris and remnants of the sea's relentless embrace. Along the way, we encountered false hope and dashed expectations—a makeshift raft that proved unseaworthy, a derelict shipwreck beyond repair. But we did not yield to despair, for hope remained steadfast in our hearts.
And then, dear reader, fortune smiled upon us. As the tides whispered secrets and the waves lapped gently against the shore, we stumbled upon an old fishing vessel—a weathered relic that had been tossed upon the sands by the whims of the ocean. Its timeworn appearance belied the potential that lay dormant within its hull.
With a renewed sense of purpose, the inhabitants rallied together, their determination palpable. They embraced the fusion of technology and manual labor, utilizing their newfound skills to restore the vessel to its former glory. Their nimble fingers worked in unison, patching holes, reinforcing worn planks, and fashioning sails from scratch.
Oh, dear reader, it was a sight to behold—the transformation of both vessel and inhabitants alike. Each stroke of a hammer, each knot expertly tied, was a testament to their resilience and resourcefulness. No longer enslaved by technology, they wielded it as a tool, harnessing its power to augment their lives rather than to encompass them.
And so, as the repaired vessel stood proudly on the shore, ready to carry me back to my homeland, I felt a mix of emotions. Gratitude swelled within me, for the steadfast companionship and unwavering support of the inhabitants. Yet, a bittersweet longing tugged at my heart, for I knew that our paths would diverge, that I would leave behind a community forever transformed by our shared journey.
The time had come, dear reader, to bid farewell to the inhabitants who had embraced the lessons of struggle and growth. Their once-passive existence had been replaced by a spirit of exploration and a hunger for personal discovery. They had learned the delicate balance between progress and consequence, understanding that the pursuit of greatness requires resilience and a willingness to face the unknown.
As I stepped aboard the restored vessel, the inhabitants lined the shoreline, their faces radiant with a mixture of pride and sorrow. We exchanged farewells, promising to cherish the memories of our time together and to carry forward the lessons learned. And with a final wave, I set sail, guided by the gentle breeze and the timeless pull of distant shores.
As I embarked on my solitary voyage, dear reader, I reflected upon the transformative power of our shared experiences. I had witnessed a society rise from the shackles of complacency, embracing the complexity of the human spirit and the beauty of genuine connection. I had learned that progress, when tempered with wisdom and humility, can breathe new life into stagnant souls.
And so, dear reader, I sailed into the horizon, carrying with me the indelible mark of our journey. The winds whispered tales of adventure, and the ocean whispered secrets of distant lands. In my heart, a profound gratitude swelled, for I had been privileged to witness the resurgence of humanity, to ignite the flame of purpose within a community adrift in the sea of convenience.
And so, dear reader, my voyage across the boundless sea unfolded with a steady rhythm, as the waves carried me towards distant shores. The days blended together, marked by the endless expanse of water stretching as far as the eye could see. The creaking of the vessel's timbers and the haunting call of seagulls were my only companions, as I contemplated the lessons learned during my sojourn among the inhabitants of the new society.
As the ship sailed onward, navigating the unpredictable currents, I found myself immersed in a sea of contemplation. The vastness of the ocean mirrored the vastness of human potential, both exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. And as I sailed on, a chance encounter with a larger vessel, a majestic behemoth of autonomous design, interrupted my solitary voyage.
The vessel's sleek hull shimmered in the sunlight, a testament to the wonders of technological innovation. It loomed over me like a towering giant, its mechanical efficiency a stark contrast to the sail-powered vessel that had carried me thus far. And to my surprise, the vessel's automated systems detected my presence and extended a mechanical appendage, gently hoisting me aboard.
In the company of the autonomous vessel, I traversed the sea with unprecedented speed and precision. The sophisticated technology at play left me in awe, but it also sparked a sense of unease. I pondered the implications of such advanced automation, of a world where human agency was relinquished to the ever-efficient mechanisms of progress.
The autonomous vessel transported me to a bustling port city, where the intermingling of humans and machines painted a vivid picture of the future that awaited us. In this city, the hum of technology filled the air, the streets bustling with individuals absorbed in their personal devices, their interactions reduced to the digital realm. It was a world where convenience reigned supreme, but where the essential human qualities that make us who we are seemed to wither away.
As I set foot on my home country's soil once more, a renewed appreciation for the delicate balance between technology and human capabilities enveloped my being. The gleaming skyscrapers and bustling streets were a testament to progress, but I understood that progress should not come at the expense of our humanity.
In the embrace of my homecoming, I carried with me the insights gleaned from my encounters with the inhabitants of the new society. I had witnessed firsthand the dangers of overreliance on technology, the erosion of physical prowess and personal connections in the pursuit of convenience. I had also come to understand that progress, when tempered by our essential human qualities, could serve as a catalyst for growth and fulfillment.
And so, dear reader, as I conclude this tale of my odyssey, let it serve as a cautionary reminder of the potential perils that lie in the seductive allure of convenience and automation. Let it be a call to preserve the qualities that define us as humans—our capacity for empathy, our thirst for exploration, and our indomitable spirit.
In a world where technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, it is our responsibility to ensure that progress does not come at the cost of our humanity. We must seek a harmonious coexistence, where the tools and innovations we create augment our lives without overshadowing the very essence of what it means to be human.
As I bid farewell to the tale that has unfolded before you, dear reader, I invite you to embark on your own journey of self-reflection. May you navigate the ever-changing tides of progress with wisdom and discernment, safeguarding the qualities that make us unique, resilient, and truly human. For it is in the delicate balance between the marvels of technology and the enduring spirit of our species that we shall find a future worthy of our aspirations.
submitted by ShortAIStory to ShortAIStory [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 05:07 GIJoJo65 My Dwarven Cleric just had the last word

For context: About seven months ago, I ran 4 0th-level Dwarves through Sailors on the Starless Sea alongside 12 other PCs. 5 PCs came out the other side of the funnel in various states of megalomania and physical disability with more or less all their limbs. I like putting together coherent backstories so, I decided that my Dwarves were four brothers and, because there's a strong satirical undertone to our table, I decided that they were going to go into this thing as "Ultra-Chads". Ulfric, Ulfgar, Ulgerd and, Ulfdan were 3rd-generation rich kids whose parents were fighting a losing battle to keep their little dwarven kingdom (made great by the brothers' grand-dads) from collapsing like Greece circa 2010, Balkanizing like the Balkans circa 1993, starving like the Irish circa 1845 or, just generally being overrun like France every third generation.
Tired of hearing about how absolutely useless they were the "Little Wolves" decided to make a name for themselves. They traipsed into the funnel with aspirations of saving some humans operating under the delusional belief that this would result in a bunch of grateful farmers occupying the farmlands of Gjunnar's Gap as immigrants to solve the Dwarves' impending food crisis. Thus, they believed, they would make everything better and "that asshole Ubbe will stop pointing out how useless we are."
Long story short, Ulfdan managed to claw his way out the other side carrying Felan's Axe with a newfound appreciation for the insignificance of Mortals and a nice - legally binding - contract with Great Cthulu as a Dwarven Cleric of Neutrality. Determined to actually be worth something, he spent the next two years (in-game, 6 months IRL) doing things that weren't completely retarded alongside his comrades in trauma. In the meantime, Ubbe managed to get duped into a pact with a Chaos Lord called "Brexmagait" (like I said, strong satirical undertones... ok maybe just tones...) and epically fuck over the entire little realm (A Hold, A Delve and a Gap - it's a whole thing). He managed to bring down a plague that killed Uldan's parents, then he managed to enslave Ulfdan's sisters (3 of them, the brothers' parents' primary claim to fame was being dwarves that had seven kids) and generally make life exceedingly shitty for the Hold. He started a war with Kobolds over a completely tapped out section of the mine. Things proceeded and after another year in-game, Ulfdan managed to claw his way to 4th level and confront Ubbe resulting in the following epic exchange:
Ubbe (Basically MAGA Incarnate meets Brexit): "You should thank me little wolf! I've culled your flock, here how fiercely those few sheep that remain bleat! I am not a villian, I am half of your whole salvation! Law is an anvil and chaos the hammer, between them society is a plowshare to be beaten into a sword!"
Ulfdan (Me, former Ultra-Chad): "And this makes you the Smith does it?"
Ubbe: "Precisely, I require no thanks, only pay my wage and I shall move on to attempt another masterpiece!"
Ulfdan: "I don't think you're a Smith, I think you're a child trying to plug a leaking dike with his cock and calling himself a Mason. Try shearing the sheep now that the Shepard's come if you've not wasted yourself failing to pleasure the uncaring earth!"
Ubbe: "Fool, you are nothing, your master Cthulu heralds weaklings cast down before our people fired the first forge! You're impure iron worshipping the rust that weakens it! No matter, I shall take my due!"
Ulfdan: "Law and Chaos have no interest for the welfare of mortals. Too much of one is inevitably as bad as the other. So, yes Ubbe, I pay fealty to Great Cthulu and, if I am thus empowered it is by the investment of the immortal spirits of my fallen brothers! Never, I say - Never - shall we forget their sacrifice which has restored prosperity to the Gap. Our Home. So. Yes, I am the four in which three-have-become-one! And you, Ubbe, would do well to heed the Wind's lesson and blow on through the Gap. Go. Before you anger us, before we show to you what lurks beyond and sails upon the starless sea..."
The battle was freaking glorious. The Paladin (who had been trying to "reclaim" a Chaos Lord's armor and flail by using them for good) ended up spending most of the fight trying to claw his way out of his armor which literally came to life and tried to crush him inside it. The Gnome lost a finger when Ubbe turned his fire ring into a literal ring of fire before the gnome extinguished it by making an illusion of ice real. The thief rained literal chaos all over everything as he frantically tried to read from a scroll that should never even have been looked at but, managed to slay most of the horrific minions that Ubbe had unleashed on the battlefield. The Wizard fucked up badly and is now forever going to be known as "The Almighty Shizzard" since his spells ended up gaining a... fecal theme when he tried to Spell-Duel whatever had been awakened in the Paladin's armor.
Ulfdan meanwhile, went right for the entire throat of Ubbe in the midst of all this chaos and tried to solo him. It was actually a pretty even fight until Ubbe decided to really commit and beseech Breximagait for direct intervention. This left Ulfdan bleeding out and the GM asked me if I had any last words. I told him *I want to beseech Great Cthulu. "*Roleplay it" he replied.
Ulfdan: "Great Cthulu, we are impugned! If we are a ploughshare to have been beaten to a sword then show the (I spit these words) mighty master smith the way a hot sword treats the unwary hand!"
The GM pauses a moment to think. "Okay" he says "that's fucking worth some attention. d100, roll under 35 to survive - 66 wins BIG."
I rolled a fucking 66.
The sky itself tore open as Cthulu unfolded his dark wings to reveal the truth. Ubbe had dreamt his triumph in fevered delusion. Tentacles erupted from his mouth as something dragged itself forth. It was Great Cthulu, clothed in Ubbe's skin, oily and glistening and, full of stars he pulled Ubbe's insides out with him to clothe himself leaving Ubbe standing dumbfounded. Then, he spoke to Ubbe. We will never understand what he said for it was not meant for our ears. He showed him the truth that all he had wrought was a plague of rot upon himself which brought the fevered delusion of triumph and glory. Breximagait could never be contained in mortal flesh for the things of Law and Chaos have no regard for the harm they cause their vessels in seeking to walk the world they deserve no place in. Then, Cthulu took Ulfdan's hand, pulled him to his feet, showed Ubbe where to kneel before him and, gently raised Felan's Axe so that Ulfdan stood ready to strike.
Ubbe, weeping pustulent regret looked up and, nodded sadly to Ulfdan. The axe fell, the head did not for Cthulu caught it gently and set it to hover in the air as a silent testament to the truth for all to see.
Then, Cthulu's dark wings descended again and the sky righted itself, the light returned to the world. The Paladin's armor and flail fairly sung with holy light as if a celestial choir accompanied him. The gnome's finger was inky and rubbery and black but, it was there and could do some truly disturbing things if he needed it to. The ring's fire glowed cold or hot on command. The Thief could see in the dark and when he whistled, his dagger came to him like a faithful dog. A cloud of flies hung about "The Shizzard" and whispered things that he might be interested in knowing (such as that the material and somatic components of his fireballs would now consist of him lighting his farts), they also helpfully descended upon those his spells "graced" and would occasionally deal poison damage or, just aggravate and impede the victims.
In short, I could not be more thrilled. The shit was epic! I can't wait to find out what the unintended consequences of all these "gifts" ends up being!
submitted by GIJoJo65 to dccrpg [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 19:33 ImpetuousPandaa 🌎 LATAM Regional Breakdown & Player Profiles 🌎 - 👾 Monsters Attack World Championship 👾

Twitter Post
Hello friends, ImpetuousPanda here! 🐼
With the Monsters Attack! Championship looming around the corner, I decided to take it upon myself to flesh out both the regional and player narratives going into the event. Similarly to the articles I wrote for the Dragonlands Championship, the goal is to help the viewers better understand the narrative beats and player stories going into the culminating event of the set, especially for those players and regions which most western audiences are not intimately familiar with.
The Monsters Attack! Championship will feature a staggering $456,000, and with personal and regional pride on the line, I think it would be amiss to not delve deeper into the individual stories, aspirations, and goals of each of its competitors.
Past Regional Reports


To start, we have to contextualize the strength of Argentina as a country within the LATAM region. It is very widely accepted that Argentina dominates the region, similarly to France in EMEA up until this past set. On the international stage, Argentina had not been too impressive. Cupiditas secured a top 10 spot in the Set 3 Galaxies Championship, in Set 4 Argentina was missing, only our dear Piehat from Peru and Lion from Costa Rica managed to make it to the Worlds stage. Argentina had to wait until the Set 5 Reckoning Championship to show up again, and even then it was only barely a top 16 finish for El Tomo. This all changed in the Set 6 Gizmos and Gadgets, where Qiqi and Altenahue managed to qualify for Argentina alongside Megumin for Peru, and Altenahue finished in a very impressive sixth place position, qualifying to Day 3 and overall performing at a very high level.
With the growth TFT sustained in Set 6, Argentina and LATAM started taking it much more seriously. Although the support and the size of the TFT competitive scene is still lightyears away from where top players would like it to be, it was undeniable that there were many more top players trying their best to perform at a high individual level. Similarly to other traditional sports such as football, and maybe because of it, the LATAM community and specifically Argentina as a country became a training ground where all players were very often working as a unit, sharing knowledge, scrims, and overall trying to reach the highest level possible on the international stage, there was national pride at stake.
This led us into the Set 7 Dragonlands Championship, where all of the qualified players ended up being Argentinian. For many, the deserved four strongest players in the region had made it to Worlds. Qiqi, Fritz, Lifesbad, and TexSummers via LCQ. The first time LATAM sent four players to Worlds. All argentinian. They were 3rd country in the world with the most representatives after China and South Korea and tied with the US. But this changed entirely throughout Set 8, where although Argentina was still dominant as a whole, we saw a lot of top players emerge from surrounding countries, with the Peruvian player Solduri dominating Set 8.0, although ultimately deflating in his performances coming into playoffs and Set 8.5. Looking at the worlds qualified players for this set, we have a much healthier mix of nationalities, with Nain from Bolivia securing a spot and becoming the first ever Bolvian to do so, TexSummers, a fan favourite both in LATAM and the world after his impressive showings both in Western LCQ and Worlds making his return, and long time competitor and Chilean player Maikel finally securing the coveted spot at Worlds that has eluded him for so long.

TexSummers - Twitter - Stats - Lolchess

An Argentinian player who has played TFT since it’s release, but really started upping his game when it comes to the competitive circuit in Set 6. In Set 7 he feels he continued to improve drastically, particularly when it comes to his mental game and the way he handles his nerves in major competitions. To the joy of many NA viewers, due to Tex’s upbringing, NA almost has another player to root for at Worlds. Tex grew up and spent most of his childhood in….Texas, hence the name, and still retained his native english accent despite moving back to Argentina once he grew older. He also plays on NA on his smurf account, and mostly watches players from NA when not learning/prepping within his own region.
Tex finished 16th in Dragonlands Championship, and in hindsight he felt it was deserved. He wasn’t nearly as good as a player as he thought he was at the time. Although he was surprised to see Fritz and Lifesbad make it to final day, he was happy for them and happy that LATAM overall had a great performance. Coming into Set 8, his goal from the very start was to make top 4 at Worlds, and this ambition perfectly defines Tex as a player and as a person. He could tell a lot of players were unhappy with the set mechanic, but he admits he didn’t care or almost liked it, because he could take advantage of other player’s tilt and find an edge that way. Tex is a player that ultimately tries to min max and perfect everything he does, and you may recognize his countless posts on this subreddit going over how to tailor hero augments and his experiments early in the set to understand the underlying systems at play. He quickly gained a ton of informational advantage over all players around the learn, knowing what admins were broken, how to optimize getting certain hero augments, etc. He made it to masters on the LAS server, but then spent most of the season playing on NA to find better competition. He made it to 1k LP fairly quickly, but didn’t really tryhard and instead spent most of his time looking at the bigger picture, trying to experiment and learn all lines possible, knowing that in LATAM he could focus mainly on the tournament circuit on his path to Worlds.
As the Liga Heroica started off, a massive 48 game multi-week league format with consecutive eliminations as the day progress, Tex initially struggled due to the bad patches and overall poor TFT he was forced to play with comps such as Yuumi reroll. But he quickly started adapting, and on the last week he was able to barely make 8th place to make it into the final stage. At that point he took it much more seriously, and Solduria and himself dominated the final lobby, with Solduri taking a slight lead, but still both players had a massive gap over the other 6 competitors. For Set 8.5, Tex took another 2nd place to Cheche in an Argentinian Cup LAN event that was held at the start of the set, and this quickly became his reputation for the rest of the set. A consistent performer that would finish in second place at every event he competed in.
Tex also played in the Chinese Super Server this set, and he felt it was immensely helpful in learning their specific high tempo playstyle, especially as this was during the 3-2 rolldown Kaisa/Gnar patch and he felt he improved this area of his game immensely. Overall Tex practiced alone throughout most of the set, he didn’t really reach out to other players too often, as he felt other players in his region would not have that much more to offer him. He watched a lot of Setsuko, and improved his board capping potential because of this, and watched an equal amount of Dishsoap’s stream, where he learned to play at a consistently high level and how to minmax for placements, especially during Dishsoap’s 2k LP run.
Going into playoffs, Tex wasn’t too happy with his play, but it was enough to cruise through the event without dropping out of the winner’s bracket. Once he made it to the top 8 finals, he spent the next week living and breathing TFT, and he felt his level of play was very high going into finals. He would play in 6 game sessions, always checking his average after every 6 games, making sure it was always under 3.6, which is what he would need if he wanted to make Worlds directly at the LATAM finals. In the end he finished 2nd and earned a spot directly to Worlds, improving upon last set’s finish, especially considering the second place was only because he lost in tiebreakers to Nain as both players had 37 points.  
His playstyle remains incredibly flexible thanks to his all-encompassing informational min-maxing approach to the game, although he quickly identified the value of playing AD flex and starting sword at carousels, and more important than anything, valuing Vayne immensely as a transitional AD carry throughout stage 3. He thinks leading into most regional competitions Pyke augments have been incredibly underrated, and when it comes to reroll comps, he says he will play them from ideal spots but is not a huge fan overall.
Coming into this World Championship, Tex feels he has improved immensely as a player, when it comes to his understanding of the game, but also his mental. His goal will be to reach top 4 in the competition, but if he makes it that far, then he might as well dream of the Championship itself. He doesn’t believe China will have that much of an edge over the rest of the regions, and he feels this World will be one of the best TFT competitions to date. He even hinted at a special outfit he will be wearing all throughout the competition, so make sure to keep an eye on his webcam throughout the games he will be on broadcast!

ISG MAIKEL - Twitter - Stats - Lolchess

Maikel, a 20 year old biochemistry student from Chile, in my opinion will be one of the biggest surprises of the World Championship, if he can enter the competition with the right mental state. We will get into the conditions that will have to be met for this to come true, but in my opinion watching his career, as well as the call we had for me to prepare for this interview, it seems he is one of the most well prepared players in the western world, and certainly one that has proven he has the potential to achieve great things.
As a kid, he grew up with a competitive mindset. He played Chess growing up, and was part of a local group of children that dominated every competition. This wasn’t immediately the case when he started playing TFT in Set 2, but once Set 3 rolled around, he started dedicating a bit more time to the game, getting a little more serious, and eventually got to rank 3 in the LAS server. He admits at the time he was still fundamentally a beginner, but after starting to follow the global esports circuit, and specifically as he started to watch the World Championship and follow Cupiditas who was the first player from LATAM to make it to the world stage. After this, Maikel reached out to Cupiditas and they became fast friends. Maikel thinks Cupiditas is one of the most humble players in LATAM, he was the first to go to Worlds but he also helped a lot of players after and increased the overall level in the region. Maikel took Set 4 much more seriously, and the results were immediate. He won many tournaments and even achieved rank 1 globally as well as in LAS. He was considered one of the strongest players in the region, but many unfortunate things occurred in the final games leading to playoffs, and Maikel fell in 9th place, not making the finals in the end.
In set 5 he took a bit of a break due to personal issues, but when he returned in Set 6 he quickly regained his old reputation. He once again reached rank 1 in LAS and globally, and everyone in the region was sure he would make it to Worlds. He dominated ladder, dominated scrims, he was a clear favorite, but when the moment of truth came he could not perform. At this point he understood he had a clear mental blockade and he would have to find a way to resolve this if he wanted to fulfill his potential. He once again fell at the very edge of finals, finishing in 10th overall. In Set 7, the same exact story occurred. He finished 9th once again despite being a dominant player all season long. He would get tremors and physical symptoms of nerves when he was close to finally breaking the blockade. Something was wrong and he did not know how to resolve it. In Set 8.0, as Liga Heroica took place, Maikel was sure to make it through to the final stage. But everything that could go wrong, did, and he once again was eliminated a step away from success. This caused a moment of real rage and frustration in Maikel, and he knew he had to step away from the game he loved and find a way to solve this if he wanted to continue playing. He had a lengthy talk with his mother, and decided to take a month long break from the game and work on his mental. He had been working with a sport psychologist, but it did not produce much of an effect, but this break ultimately was very helpful for him. He was able to resolve many issues he was battling against in moments of pressure. Once Set 8.5 playoffs rolled around, he felt much more in tune with himself, and when he qualified to the finals, the top 8 he had sought after his entire career, he admits he let out a primal scream. He has such confidence in himself as a player, and such relief having made it to the final stage, he pretty much already knew he had made it to Worlds. He had surpassed the barrier that had haunted him for so long.
Maikel ultimately finished in 3rd place, clinching him his much sought after spot in the World Championship. Despite this being his first ever finals, he is considered to be one of the LATAM players that most deserved to be at Worlds. When he finally qualified, Maikel was overwhelmed by support and love. From all the top players in the community, from his teammates at Isurus Gaming, Fritz, and Cheche and even from players who followed his career from the spanish scene such as Snoodyboo and Dalesom. After his qualification, Maikel confessed he would walk around with a smile on his face every second of the day, he could not believe the stress and the weight he had lifted off of his shoulders for finally fulfilling his potential.
Looking strictly at his in-game understanding of TFT and it’s fundamentals, Maikel has full confidence in his game. He feels he can adapt to any line or spot the game gives him, and he will always play strictly around what is the 100% correct play, without taking into account his preferences. He is a very flexible player who can adapt to any situation. When I said I believed Maikel is one of the most well prepared players in the western scene, I meant it. He believes he is maybe the only player up until now who has watched every single regional final that has been played this set. He has also reached out to other competitors such as Shimapen from Japan, who he thought played very cleanly throughout his playoffs, and the two have discussed TFT and helped each other prepare over the course of the last few days. Generally, he is aware AD flex playstyle is very strong at the moment, and will try to start mostly sword or bow, although he is aware some players will have a ping advantage on the Worlds stage.
Overall he thinks few people in the world have as good insights as his own, he watches tournaments and streams from all over the world. He believes SEA will surprise everyone at Worlds, and considers they may even be the strongest region coming into the tournament. He feels China is at its lowest level in a long time, and they will not be as dominant as before or not dominant at all even. For the rest of the regions, he feels there are specific players he thinks will perform very well. Primarily Jip Pok from Korea, Shimapen from Japan, Jazlatte from SEA, VCLF from Brazil, and JukeYou from NA are the key players he thought performed at a very high level in their regionals. He thinks Setsuko is also a fantastic player, he thinks both Setsuko and himself had similar journeys in their TFT careers, being known as ladder warriors who did not perform in tournaments. He used to watch Setsuko when he had just 10 viewers, so he is very happy to see him finally make it to Worlds. When it comes to EMEA, he feels the region will not do well, he thinks EMEA plays too flexibly and creatively, and this will be punished more heavily in worlds lobbies, although he really liked how Enzo played in EMEA finals and he also respects Ging a lot as a player.
Overall, with this patch and the very balanced state of the game, Maikel think the player who knows how to play from the most spots and has the most information will do the best. Mistakes will be heavily punished in this tournament, and so if you’re not familiar with certain outs or you lack critical information, you will not do well. In my opinion, Maikel is one of the players with the most potential out of any players at Worlds, but he will have to prove once again that he has resolved his issue with nerves and his mental, and when it comes to an international stage this may be his most difficult challenge to date.

NAIN - Twitter - Stats - Lolchess

NAIN is a bit more of a mystery of a player, not only to the world, but even to most competitors and top players in LATAM. The 22 year old psychology student lives in Bolivia, and started playing TFT all the way back in Set 1. At the time it was purely a casual hobby, and considering he had never had any competitive experiences in video games until that point, he was only slowly improving throughout the next few sets. Every season he would achieve a higher rank, hitting Masters in Set 3 and slowly progressing. In set 7 is where his more serious competitive experiences began, reaching Challenger 1k LP in LAS. This is when he started believing more and more in his level as a player, he started thinking he could really make it all the way to become a top player in LATAM. In Set 7 he lost in the play-in phase of the LATAM circuit, and he ultimately was considering retiring to focus fully on his studies.
In Set 8 though, he quickly got bored without a hobby, and he returned to TFT. He rose to the same level on the ladder, but he could feel he was quickly improving more and more as he had more tournament experience. He had an extremely consistent run of performances all throughout Set 8, starting with an 8th place in the closed qualifier to the playins, where he reached a 2nd place overall, followed by a 5th place in the 16 player LATAM playoffs, and closing it all out with an extremely consistent 1st place finish in the LATAM finals, beating out TexSummers on tiebreaker and ultimately become the champion of the LATAM region for this set. This of course also included a World Championship spot, which crowned his meteoric season as a relatively inexperienced player when it came to playing on the biggest national stages.
Despite his success, Nain stuck mostly to himself. He is a more reserved personal overall, and did not prepare or really talk to any players throughout the entire season. Going into the final tournament of the set, he confesses he was very confident of his level as a player, he seemed to be one of the most consistent players who would always top 4 all lobbies, and he was not necessarily scared of others despite this being his first time making it this far. He prepared quite seriously, he had a fixed schedule he would follow, on one day he would vod review some of the best players in the region and abroad, and on the next he would play games and vod review his own play at the end of the day. He has watched many top streamers, such as Setsuko in NA and Flancy in China, and has learned a lot watching others, almost as much as playing himself.
Going into Worlds, Nain is aware he has to adapt slightly to the overall international meta. Nain is a player who loves playing greedily, similarly to Setsuko in NA, to find ways to go fast 8 or fast 9 and cap out his board with strong units. He feels his results have been good so far taking into account world scrims, and he has adapted well both to his new schedule and to the meta. He feels LATAM is very strong going into Worlds, he thinks Tex will be a favorite this Championship, and Maikel is also a player who has been around for so long in LATAM, and everyone wholeheartedly agrees he deserves to have finally made it to Worlds. Leading into the event his prep has not changed much, he is still a lone wolf, he spoke a bit here and there with Maikel but overall likes how he prepares alone and doesn’t think he is at a massive disadvantage.
Nain is the first ever Bolivian player to make it to Worlds, and this is something he admits he is very proud of. Overall Argentina has dominated most of LATAM’s representation at Worlds, but Nain is seeing more and more top players crop up from all countries, and he is very happy that players tend to help each other regardless of nationality, they feel they are united on a common front.
Following his success throughout Set 8, Nain has reconsidered his retirement, and is eager to see how far he can go and if he can play TFT full-time in the future. Nain is the 8th of 9 siblings, and he only recently spoke to them about what he did, about his journey competing in TFT and how far he had gotten this month. They were surprised, they didn’t know how much dedication and effort he had put into improving as a player, and they were astounded at the stakes that were involved in this weekend’s $456,000 tournament. He knows his siblings and all of LATAM will be rooting for him to do well as the reigning LATAM Champion, but despite his pressure, Nain is calm and reassured in the level of play he knows he is capable of.

Closing Words

Overall, I believe Latam will continue to perform at a high level at Worlds. Last Worlds, many players, even those within their own region, felt Fritz and Lifesbad really performed above expectations for a multitude of different regions. Seeing two players from the LATAM region making it into the final lobby would be a surprise, but not an impossibilitly. Especially considering the overall potential players like Tex and Maikel have, in terms of their full potential and technical qualities in game. And that is not to discount Nain, who despite his lack of big tournament experience prior to Set 8, has already proven so much in terms of his consistency and his mental strength all thoughout the final stages of LATAM’s playoffs.
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2023.05.23 17:56 JoeSolo22 Dev Diary #17: West Germany (Part 1)

Dev Diary #17: West Germany (Part 1)
Hi everyone! My name is JoeSolo22 and I'm the current West German developer for CWIC. This is my second project, having worked on Belgium before, and I could not be more thrilled to write this dev diary for y'all.
Formed on 23 May 1949 (74 years ago today, known as Constitution Day in Germany), the Federal Republic of Germany (or West Germany) emerges in a tough spot, facing newfound independence, reconstruction after the Second World War, and the rapidly emerging Cold War that it finds itself as a major player in.
Of the possible paths for West Germany, two are democratic. Since there is so much content, I will release two dev diaries today, with this one discussing Adenauer's and Schumacher's paths and the next one discussing the possible SPD paths after Schumacher.

Starting Tree
The starting tree, while small, is designed specifically this way, in order to fill the gap in between the formation of the Federal Republic on the first day in-game, and the federal elections that take place in September of 1949. This concept mostly explores lore and the current situation about the country with particular emphasis on the Grundgesetz (or Basic Law), which functions as West Germany's (and current Germany's) constitution.

Adenauer (1949-1953)

The first candidate we'll discuss is Konrad Adenauer, head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a centre-right, conservative, Christian Democratic party in the British occupation zone and the new Federal Republic. Formerly the mayor of Cologne, Adenauer was the OTL Chancellor of West Germany from 1949 until 1963, when he was succeeded by his deputy, Ludwig Erhard.
Once elected in 1949, Adenauer's two priorities are to begin economic reconstruction and to come to an agreement with the Western Allies on the status of West Germany (known as the Petersburg Agreement). For some immersion, there is also a focus to discuss where the capital of West Germany will be; players can choose the OTL capital of Bonn, in the west of West Germany, or Frankfurt, which was also floated as an option.
Next, Adenauer will focus on general policies, dismantling some industries, ending food stamps, and forming the federal CDU organization; as well as beginning some foreign policy focuses, including the Schuman Plan (the first step in European integration), and defense focuses.
For the next three or so years, the large focus is on forming institutions within the new country, kickstarting economic reconstruction, and expanding foreign policy in an extremely pro-Western direction, including joining many international organizations.
Additionally, there is a tree to deal with denazification. Largely, Adenauer's government will not do much about this, but there are focuses on letting off prisoners, policies relating to the future Bundeswehr, and eventually ending denazification as OTL.

Adenauer (1953-1957)

Adenauer's second government is more of the same. After being reelected, the CDU is faced with a choice of whether to ally with the center-liberal Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP) in a coalition. This is up to the player to decide as there are no electoral mechanics to decide that for them. Allowing the FDP in would increase party cooperation all around and allow for more social programs, while sticking with the CDU alone would decrease said cooperation.
Otherwise, most of Adenauer's programs from 1953-1957 continue his policies from the previous government; West Germany officially joins NATO in 1955; the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is formed in 1956, and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) is officially banned in the same year. There are also options to deal with the Suez Crisis and the issue of the Saar with France. Shortly before the 1957 election, West Germany signed the Treaty of Rome, completing its European integration and joining the European Economic Community.

Adenauer (1957-1960)

Adenauer's third government (and last for the 1950s), is, as usual, focused on the same CDU policies as discussed before. To highlight some parts of the content, Adenauer's government does undertake some reforms, such as opening the Z Commission to investigate Nazis, and passing the Equal Opportunities Act. There is also a referendum on the deployment of nuclear weapons in the country, which can either succeed or fail; as well as content regarding the status of West Berlin and the Oder-Neisse Line with Poland.

Schumacher (1949-1952)

The second, opposite candidate to Adenauer's Christian Democratic Union is the government of Kurt Schumacher, chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the center-left, social democratic party in Germany. Becoming chairman of the western organization of the SPD in 1946 after multiple disagreements and conflicts with Otto Grotewohl (the leader of the eastern SPD and eventual first Prime Minister of the GDR), Schumacher can be elected in the 1949 election.
Schumacher's starting tree is not altogether different from Adenauer's starting tree, in that he must begin initial policies; such as debating the Petersburg Agreement and beginning an extreme denazification and anti-communist campaign, known as the "Black and Red Scares" and economic reconstruction, which involves nationalization of key industries. The political and economic sections of Schumacher's tree are below:
Schumacher's foreign policy allows for some player choice. The player can either approach Western integration cautiously (with cultural agreements and refusing to rearm or join the Schuman Plan), or take a neutral, largely non-aligned path, that involves diplomatic relations with Switzerland and Sweden, overtures to some East German politicians, and a meeting with Tito.

Schumacher's Stroke (1952-1953)

Unfortunately, Kurt Schumacher is not a well man. In December 1951, Schumacher suffers a stroke which leads to his eventual death in August of 1952. If Schumacher is Chancellor, this will result in a myriad of issues, namely one of succession, as the Federal Republic had no constitutional line of succession if the Chancellor were to be incapacitated.
This leads to a succession crisis between two of Schumacher's SPD deputies, both of whom are influential in their separate wings of the party. First is Vice Chancellor Egon Franke, the immediate deputy head of government to Schumacher and the leader of the small, but growing right wing of the SPD, known later as the Kanalarbeiters ("canal workers" or "sewer workers"). The second contender is Federal President Erich Ollenhauer; the West German head of state, filling a largely ceremonial role, but a member of the left-wing of the SPD and a strict adherent of Schumacher's ideals and policies.
If the player chooses Franke to succeed Schumacher as interim Chancellor, a caretaker government will be established, and it will pursue limited Western integration and contact with the CDU, in line with Franke's policies.
If the player chooses Ollenhauer, the status quo will remain, with Ollenhauer amending the Basic Law to stipulate a line of succession and continue Schumacher's policies. Both will be engineering their influence in such a way to become leader of the party upon Schumacher's death.
After a few months, Schumacher will return to office, against the better judgement of nearly everyone around him, further strengthening the SPD's institutional hold on the West German government and prepping Erich Ollenhauer to eventually succeed him.

The Succession Crisis

In August of 1952, Schumacher will die from another stroke, after serving a long and principled political career, and Erich Ollenhauer will automatically succeed him as were Schumacher’s wishes. However, the choice the player has made previously will come into account now. Depending on whoever has more influence, Ollenhauer will either cement his leadership as SPD chairman and interim Chancellor, or Franke will “storm” the Chancellery and rather bloodlessly assume power.
Franke’s tree is significantly longer than Ollenhauer as his clique is forced to gain more influence, as well as a court ruling to decide the legitimacy of his claim to Chancellor. Both paths lead to the 1953 elections, with the chosen successor being the SPD candidate and leader for the rest of the decade.


This concludes Part 1 of the West Germany dev diary. With this, I’d be happy to answer any questions, provided they are constructive! Please keep the conversation civil.
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2023.05.23 11:27 fancall16223 The Benefits of Personalized Fan Interactions Through Fancall for YouTubers

The Benefits of Personalized Fan Interactions Through Fancall for YouTubers
In the world of online content creation, YouTube has emerged as a dominant platform, enabling individuals to share their creativity, knowledge, and passions with a global audience. As YouTube continues to grow, the need for meaningful connections between content creators and their fans becomes increasingly important. Fancall, a revolutionary app, has stepped in to bridge this gap by providing personalized fan interactions for YouTubers. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits that Fancall offers to content creators, fostering deeper connections and enhancing the overall YouTube experience.

Connecting On A Personal Level

In the vast sea of YouTube, standing out can be challenging for content creators. Fancall comes to the rescue by allowing YouTubers to connect with their fans on a personal level. Through the app, fans can request personalized video calls with their favorite YouTubers, creating a unique opportunity for both parties to engage in one-on-one conversations. This personalized connection not only brings joy to the fans but also allows content creators to better understand their audience and gain valuable insights into their preferences and expectations.

Strengthening Fan Loyalty

Building a loyal fan base is crucial for the success and longevity of any YouTuber. Fancall provides a platform that fosters genuine connections between content creators and their fans, leading to increased fan loyalty. By offering personalized interactions, YouTubers make their fans feel appreciated and valued. This sense of exclusivity and recognition cultivates a strong bond between the content creator and their audience, resulting in fans who are more likely to actively support and promote the YouTuber’s content.

Creating Memorable Experiences

With Fancall, YouTubers have the power to create unforgettable experiences for their fans. Imagine a young aspiring musician receiving a video call from their favorite music vlogger, who offers encouragement and advice on their musical journey. Such moments not only leave a lasting impact on the fan but also reinforce the YouTuber’s positive image. These personalized interactions have the potential to become cherished memories for fans, driving increased engagement and a sense of community within the YouTuber’s audience.

Generating Additional Revenue Streams

Monetization is a crucial aspect of sustaining a career as a content creator. Fancall presents an opportunity for YouTubers to generate additional revenue streams. By offering exclusive video calls through the app, content creators can charge a fee, enabling them to monetize their time and expertise. This newfound revenue can be invested in improving the quality of content, expanding the channel’s reach, or creating even more personalized fan experiences. Fancall essentially opens up new avenues for YouTubers to support their creative endeavors and continue delivering valuable content to their audience.

Enhancing Collaboration Possibilities

Collaborations between YouTubers have become a popular trend, often leading to increased exposure and audience growth for all parties involved. Fancall serves as a catalyst for fostering collaborations by facilitating direct communication between content creators. Through the app, YouTubers can reach out to one another, arrange video calls, and discuss potential collaborations. This streamlined process eliminates the need for intermediaries, making it easier for YouTubers to connect, exchange ideas, and create exciting new content together.

Strengthening Feedback And Improvement

Constructive feedback is essential for the growth and improvement of YouTubers. Fancall offers an ideal platform for fans to provide personalized feedback directly to content creators. By engaging in video calls, fans can express their thoughts, and suggestions, and even share ideas for future content. This direct interaction allows YouTubers to gain valuable insights into their audience’s preferences, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding content creation and adjustments. It also demonstrates to the fans that their opinions are valued and taken into consideration, fostering a sense of collaboration and co-creation.

Nurturing A Supportive Community

Fancall not only facilitates connections between content creators and fans but also fosters a sense of community among the fans themselves. Through the app, fans can participate in group video calls with their favorite YouTuber and interact with fellow fans who share similar interests. This creates a supportive environment where fans can discuss, exchange ideas, and form meaningful connections with like-minded individuals. The sense of belonging to a community that revolves around a shared admiration for a particular YouTuber enhances the overall fan experience and encourages long-term engagement.

Amplifying Reach And Exposure

For aspiring YouTubers or those aiming to expand their audience, Fancall offers a unique opportunity to amplify reach and exposure. Through personalized interactions, fans are more likely to become active brand advocates, sharing their positive experiences with friends, family, and on social media platforms. Word-of-mouth promotion can significantly impact a YouTuber’s visibility, attracting new fans and subscribers.

Embracing Innovation In Fan Engagement

Fancall represents a groundbreaking innovation in fan engagement within the YouTube community. By embracing this technology, YouTubers showcase their commitment to providing unique experiences for their fans. This willingness to explore new avenues of interaction sets them apart from their peers, demonstrating their dedication to staying connected and responsive to their audience’s needs. By embracing Fancall, content creators position themselves as forward-thinking and adaptive, paving the way for continued success in the dynamic landscape of online content creation.

Evolving With Fan Expectations

As fan expectations continue to evolve, it becomes imperative for YouTubers to adapt their approach to fan engagement. Fancall serves as a tool to meet these changing expectations by providing a personalized and immersive experience. It allows YouTubers to go beyond the traditional methods of fan interactions, such as comments and messages, and instead offer a more intimate and memorable connection. By embracing Fancall, YouTubers demonstrate their willingness to evolve with their fan base, creating an environment that is in tune with their audience’s desires and preferences.

Concluding Words

In conclusion, Fancall opens up a world of possibilities for YouTubers to establish deeper connections with their fans. Through personalized fan interactions, content creators can strengthen loyalty, create memorable experiences, generate additional revenue, enhance collaborations, receive valuable feedback, nurture a supportive community, amplify reach and exposure, embrace innovation, and evolve with fan expectations. As Fancall continues to revolutionize fan engagement, content creators who embrace this app are poised to thrive in the competitive landscape of YouTube, fostering a dedicated and engaged fan base that will continue to support their creative endeavors.

Artucal Source :
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2023.05.22 14:39 MasterChoof Black Moon, Chapter 3: You Remember Me?

Part 1
Part 2
Water enveloped the priest’s feet as he stepped off of the boat, and onto the bank of the Nile river. The wet sand squashed beneath his toes, and the wind blew his flowing robes into the water.
“Come, come!” commanded the diplomat, holding his hand in front of his eyes to block out the sun. “We shouldn’t be out in the open like this.”
“You have nothing to worry about, either of you,” the guard replied, stamping his spear into the sand as he spoke. “I assure you I would be enough to protect you from any animals that may be lurking in the shadows.
The guard’s hands seemed to not even be touching the spear, with his palms instead hanging strangely away from it. The priest knew that it wasn’t really a spear, just a holographic cloak hiding a fusion rifle, but still. It was hard for the mind to adjust to things that should not be possible.
“It’s not the animals I’m concerned with…” replied the diplomat, reaching out a hand and helping the priest trudge through the muddy sand.
A second guard came shuffling out from the shrubbery, with him too dragging his weapon’s tail across the sand.
“Master Genlin!” the second guard greeted.
“That is Ebo here, guardsman…” the priest replied.
“Yes sir,” the guard answered, shaking his head. “My apologies.”
“Don’t worry about it, guardsman,” the diplomat began as he trudged through the sand. “I doubt there’s anyone around here to notice. But do try and exercise more caution in more… populated areas.”
“Understood, sir,” the Guard replied, adjusting his shoulders and standing at attention.
Hot breeze ruffled the priest’s robes as the four walked through the sand toward the great white walls of Memphis. The guard’s clothes did not move in the wind, and the priest made a mental note to remind him to procure some genuine human armor. The facade of a human that cloaked the alien creature was convincing enough, but clothing was far harder to replicate.
The priest stopped to admire the pyramids that hung ominously in the distance, and wondered how the humans had managed to build them already a thousand or more years ago.
“Admiring the human’s handiwork?” Mora asked.
“It is hard not to, is it not?” Genlin replied.
Mora stopped and stood next to his cousin as the two stared at the great pyramids that cut through the skyline even miles away.
“Truly remarkable… with their technology, even more primitive than it is now…” Genlin added.
“Have you seen an anthill, Cousin?” Mora asked.
“I believe I have.”
“I would consider them rather close,” Mora began. “Nothing more than a pile of rocks.”
“I suppose…” Genlin started. “Now, one hates to be rash but, could you tell me now why you’ve drug me here from Waset?”
“Ah, the very topic of discussion!” Mora exclaimed as he turned on his heels and followed the two guards. “The young Torx has left for federation space, and will leave with the navy shortly.”
“Already?” Genlin asked as he swerved around and followed the diplomat. “I thought he wasn’t scheduled to depart until next year?”
“The federation needs all the captains they can get their hands on now, he’ll be given command of a ship and sent off to Val’Kalma.”
“Oh, I’ve heard that’s a bloodbath…”
“Indeed it is, which brings me to your duties, cousin.”
“You are to take over his duties here in Memphis, and see to it that the Pharaoh stays in line…”
Genlin’s ears perked up in excitement, and the hologram that disguised his figure was interrupted by the tip of an ear before the light corrected itself.
“Is that so?” the fake priest asked. “What of Druma, will he not oversee his son’s duties?”
“Druma is preoccupied in Crete, he’s taken quite the interest in Knossos,” Mora answered as the gap closed between the two and their guards.
“I see…” Genlin said, scratching the hair on his chin. “I take it that has some-“
A jolt of burning pain erupted from Genlin’s shoulder as an arrow interrupted their conversation. A second slammed into his ribs as the hologram around him failed, exposing his dog-like features to the human world.
Blood spurted from Mora’s neck as an arrow lodged itself cleanly through it, one of the guards let off a haphazardly aimed shot at the shrubbery surrounding them. The bolt of energy slammed into the sand, and turned it to glass in an instant as debris exploded across the desert.
“Sir, get down!” the final guard ordered as he wedged his body between the line of fire.
Three arrows fired almost simultaneously pierced the guard’s chest as his disguise too failed. His body fell upon Genlin, and the two fell down in a pile.
Genlin hurriedly shoved the body off of him, and his heart froze as he saw his attackers approach. Two humans, one an adult, and one hardly more than a boy. They were clad in little more than rags, with the boy having a red scarf wrapped around his head to block the sun. They both held in their hands plain wooden bows, and fistfuls of arrows.
“Stay where you are, child of Anubis!” the adult human ordered. “Sit still or the next arrow pierces your heart!”
“What do you want?!” Genlin shouted as he shifted his body closer to the guard’s fallen rifle. “What do you want?”
“Information!” the boy howled. “What are you doing here!”
“Where is the one you call Druma?” the older human asked. “Why do you speak our language?”
“I-I…” Genlin stammered as he searched for words. “There is much to explain… Please give me a moment to collect myself…”
There was something in the boy’s eyes that Genlin recognized. Like he’d seen him somewhere before, but there was no time for reflection now.
“Speak, animal!” the man shouted as he shot an arrow into the sand beside Genlin’s neck, and the alien creature jolted in surprise.
Genlin’s hand reached for the rifle next to him, and he hardly had it off the ground before a third arrow found its way to his stomach. Out of sheer instinct his fingers curled around the weapons trigger, and the recoil knocked the weapon out of his hand as a lucky shot winged the adult human’s leg, sending him flying face first into the dirt. It tore out a chunk of meat, tearing it apart and throwing it into the sand.
A fourth arrow stuck him in his other shoulder, fired much more inaccurately by the boy. Genlin raised his hand to cover his face, and a fifth arrow planted itself into his arm. A sixth struck his hand at an odd angle as he brought it to his face. It cut its way through his thick hairy finger, nearly severing it so that it hung together only by a patch of skin. His hand did little to slow the arrow, as the arrowhead continued forward and buried itself in Genlin’s left eye.
“You bastard!” Genlin howled in pain as he writhed on the ground. “My eye, my eye!”
“Talk, or the next one pierces your heart!” the boy ordered.
Genlin covered his eye with his wounded hand, finger dangling off as he did so. His remaining eye widened in horror as he finally recognized the boy that stood before him.
The boy nocked another arrow, holding another two in his palm as he drew closer to his prey.
“You remember me?” he asked, a wicked smirk creeping across his face.
“You…” Genlin stammered as he crawled backward. “You are the boy from Waset? Darius?”
“Yes!” the boy screamed. “You killed my family!”
“I-I-“ Genlin stuttered as he frantically searched his pockets. “It wasn’t up to me, it was Druma!”
“Where is Druma!”
Genlin retrieved a small black cylinder from his pocket and clutched it in his hand as lights whirred off and on.
“A moment, a moment!” Genlin pleaded as he popped the cap off of the object he held. “Please, I beg you!”
“What is that?” the boy asked, his grip on the bow relaxing.
“It’s, it’s medicine…”
Genlin pressed a button on the side of his medicine, and a thin white spray came out of it. He sprayed it across his eye, and the white goo covered it before stopping the bleeding. He sprayed it on his hand, cutting away the loose skin and dropping the discarded appendage into the sand. He moved onto the arrows, spraying it on as the goo bubbled outward, and popped the arrows out from their entry wounds.
“Your uncle, I remember…” Genlin began as his breathing slowed. “This can save him…”
The young Darius shifted his gaze to his uncle, who lie nearly unconscious in the sand, trying in vain to stop the bleeding in his leg.
“I propose a trade offer…”
“What is your offer, demon?” Darius asked, regaining the grip on his bow.
“This…” Genlin said, shaking the medicine sprayer in front of him. “It can stop the bleeding, it can save your uncle…”
“Tell me what I wish to know first!” Darius commanded, pulling the arrow back.
“Ask, young one! And I shall tell you…”
“Druma, where is he!” Darius howled, his feet dancing angrily in the sand. “He killed my family!”
“Crete, he’s on Crete!”
“Where… is Crete?” the uncle shouted between strained breaths. His voice was commanding even in his body’s injured state.
“It’s an island, to the north!” Genlin answered, Gesturing with his hand up the Nile river. “South of Mycenae. He will not be back for some time.”
“How long?”
“I don’t know!”
Another arrow pierced the sand by Genlin, splashing sand onto his fur.
“Damnit!” Darius shouted, stomping his feet into the sand.
“We have killed one of them, soon to be two…” the uncle said. “We can wait for the rest…”
“Not if you don’t have this…” Genlin said, again shaking the medicine in his hand. “If you spare my life, you may have it.”
“Don’t listen to him, Darius!” shouted the uncle with a newfound zeal. “Shoot him!”
Genlin grasped the medicine in a tight grip so hard the metal nearly buckled, thick medicine seeped from the top as the pressure nearly shattered the tube.
“Harm me and I will crush it!” Genlin threatened.
“No!” Darius commanded.
“Then give me your word you will not harm me!”
Darius looked backward to his uncle for advice, who was now unconscious in the sand, surrounded by his own blood.
“Drop your weapon child…”
Darius relaxed his grip on the bow, dropping it with a quiet thud into the sand.
“A wise decision…” Genlin quietly said. “Here.”
Darius caught the medicine midair as Genlin tossed it. He didn’t stop to see the creature run away. The boy rushed to his uncle’s aid, mimicking Genlin’s application of the medicine and covering his uncle’s leg in it. The medicine covered the gaping wound, stopping the bleeding as it bubbled outward.
Darius prodded his uncle’s face, hoping to rouse him from his sleep. He placed his fingers in front of his uncle’s nose, and to his relief, felt a faint remnant of his breath.
Darius sighed in relief and slouched backward and into the sand. He looked back to where Genlin had sat just seconds prior, and found nothing.
He brought his gaze to the sky, and whistled. He grabbed a piece of dried meat from a pouch on his hip, and plucked a piece of red string from his scarf.
A falcon cried as it dove downward and into the boy's shoulder.
The bird let out a quiet cop as it cocked its head and looked concernedly toward Darius’s uncle.
“He’s okay, Idu,” Darius said as he held out the piece of meat.
Idu happily snatched it up, and Darius held up the piece of red string. Idu held up his foot in reply, and Darius tied it around the Bird’s ankle.
“To auntie, Idu,” Darius said to his pet. “She’ll know it means trouble.”
The boy looked homeward toward Memphis, and wondered what business the strange people he and his uncle hunted had there. He hoped that his uncle would heal, but knew deep down he would not be able to fight the same. Darius knew it would be up to him to track down Druma, but he wasn’t sure he could rise up to the challenge.
“Idu?” Darius asked, scratching his bird underneath the chin. Idu closed his eyes, and relaxed in approval. “I don’t suppose you could fly us to Memphis?”
submitted by MasterChoof to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.21 06:22 LonzyGuwap Introducing Nafuloo Token: Unlocking Financial Inclusion and Empowering Communities

Introducing Nafuloo Token: Unlocking Financial Inclusion and Empowering Communities

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NAFU Official Links/Info
submitted by LonzyGuwap to NafulooToken [link] [comments]

2023.05.20 15:26 Santiagodelmar The Wasting Room

There is an unspoken rule that dictates that all stories, regardless of intent and genre, must be satisfying. So I'll start by telling you right now that my tale won't abide by that rule. My tale isn't some leisurely read, not if I am to be faithful to what occurred. I'll have to tell my story as it happened. A slow, drawn-out death, no lesson, no closure, no reason, nothing to justify what happened to my friends and me. If you're looking for answers, leave, turn away, shut the door, you won't find them here.
Nightmares, like all sickly malformed children, have a point of conception and birth. Mine was birthed in my elementary school, vile and caustic. I like to think that every school has them, little rumors, and myths about the place, ours just happened to be the “Wasting Room.” In the Centre of the east wing of the school was a brick building, about the size of a small garage. When I was in the 3rd grade, I walked past it and was immediately entranced by it. I went up to it and ran my fingers along the surface of the weathered brick, reveling in the amalgamation of strange textures, spongy patches of moss, brick, and mortar rough as sandpaper, the deep crevices, and cracks, all perfect contrasts bound to a single surface. I circled the building running my fingers alongside it until I stood in front of the door. Impulsively I reached for the doorknob and rested my hand on the cold, rusted brass door handle. Energy seeped from it to me, the transferring of an idea, an instinct. Calling to me, I know now that’s what it was doing. My hand tightened around the handle, and I was starting to twist it open when the harsh reprimands of a woman’s voice froze me in place.
“Christopher what are you doing?” asked my teacher Ms. Leore
She gave me a mild scolding before telling me “that room” was off-limits and to run along and get to class. Later that day at recess, I asked my friends, Danny and Leah, about the mysterious red brick building.
“That’s the wasting room. My older brother says that’s where they take the bad kids,” answered Danny.
“I heard a witch lives there,” Leah added.
I pondered it for a moment and, just like most kids my age, accepted both answers as truth. Over the next few years, I learned more about that forsaken room. The rumor goes that back when teachers were allowed to hit students, they would do it in that brick room. One day an exceptionally cruel principal took a 3rd grader named Lily into the brick room and beat her so savagely, he thought he killed her. In his panic, he sealed the room and forbade anyone from entering. Unfortunately, Lily hadn’t died, that would have been a mercy. She was just knocked unconscious. When she finally woke up and saw that she was trapped inside the brick room, she tried everything she could to break out, but being so young, her meek voice was never heard. Instead, she slowly rotted away for a few weeks, wasting away from the inside out. When they finally found her years later, her remains were mummified. Her face contorted in eternal anguish, her little fingers were whittled away to the bone, fragments of her nails embedded into the brick walls, dried blood stained the floor and walls. Ever since then, the room has been permanently locked, a gruesome tale told to children living in a gruesome world.
Of course, as all kids do with myths and urban legends, we embellished them. Danny would tell us that Lily was still alive, that she had survived off of rats and a leaky water pipe. Leah thought that the teachers still used the room to punish the worst students. I made up a story of how I once saw Mrs. Leore open the door, and I was able to see the dusty skeleton of Lily still inside. Danny and Leah didn’t believe me, of course, but the mystery surrounding the room still intrigued us. My favorite rumor was that the ghost of little Lilly wandered the halls of the east wing, and on lonely dreary days or dark starless nights, she would drag anyone caught alone into “The Wasting Room” to suffer the same fate she did.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the 6th grade when we invested in getting inside the room and seeing if any of the rumors were true. I was the one that pushed our trio towards that insidious red-brick building. It was our final year before we would be ushered into the ever awkward and painful stage known as adolescence. Danny was an early bloomer, and as the first wave of hormonal changes hit, he changed drastically. He was no longer interested in running around with Leah and me, as we chased small animals and hit trees with sticks. That was kid stuff, and if his sudden growth spurt was any indicator, Danny wasn’t a kid like us, not anymore. The night I decided we needed to make one last chance at re-capturing that childhood sense of adventure was the night Danny pulled out a crinkled magazine from under his bed and flashed me the cover. It was a Playboy, a busty scantily clad model on its cover. When he opened the magazine and tried to show me, I turned away as if it was a photo of a crime scene. I didn’t want to see it. I knew if I did, that would be the death of the child that still existed within me. I didn’t want to leave that stage of my life behind, not yet. Danny briefly berated me, asking if I was gay, saying that was the only reason someone would be scared of boobs. I ignored him and asked my mom to pick me up early.
I knew then that the only way to reel Danny back in would be with something that could still spark childish fear and wonder, the room. I knew even back then that after the summer, our trio’s dynamic would never be the same. It was Leah, Danny and I had been subtly vying for her attention, we both looked at her through different lenses, and I guess I just wanted to have one last adventure before our biology tore us apart. I was initially met with hesitation when I brought up the room, but, after a bit of badgering, they were on board.
“How are you going to do it? The teachers keep the doors locked, ya know.” Leah said
“That proves that they are hiding something, doesn’t it?” Danny added
“Maybe we can steal a key from one of the teachers,” I said
Leah scrunched her face at the suggestion. She warned us about how that would only cause more trouble. Danny interrupted to inform us of a secret entrance to the room his brother told him about. Leah and I were both skeptical at the claim, but Danny was insistent that there was a secret underground entrance.
“My brother says that he found it one time, says there’s a basement in the back of the school!” Dan insisted.
“Well then he’s just gonna have to show it to us then” Leah replied
Though we had settled on trying to convince Danny’s brother guiding us to this so-called secret entrance, we still made an effort to locate it on our own. Leah got picked up as soon as school was out, but Danny and I had about 30 mins before his dad picked us both up. We snuck to the field in the back of the school and poked around for a few minutes but found nothing but rocks and dirt. We gave up after a while and headed back towards the front of the school to wait for Mr. Powell to pick us up. I hadn’t thought about the plausibility of the school having multiple sealed exits and entrances. Up until the mid-60s, my school was a hospital. It was too small and outdated, having been first built in the 30s to be of much use in the rapidly changing era. It was abandoned until the early 70s when it was renovated and repurposed into a school. Of course, as naive kids, we never connected the dots. This place had seen much more death and suffering within its walls than anyone was willing to acknowledge.
I spent that night at Danny’s house, annoying his older brother David to show us the location of the hidden passage. It took only a few minutes to get him talking about his time spent at that school.
“It’s sealed up now, you know, They buried it. And it’s not a basement; it’s a cellar, I found it one day with Jimmy while we were goofing off. It had a rusty lock, of course, but I just broke it off with a rock. We never actually made it to the wasting room, I don’t even know if the cellar leads to it. That’s just something Jimmy says his teacher told him. Inside that cellar was a tunnel that ran under the school, old rusty pipes ran along the walls and ceiling, twisting like intestines, yea that’s what it was. We were inside some metal giant's guts!” David jumped up, trying to scare us.
The only reaction he got from us was a unified “Gross.” David's face scrunched up into an annoyed half frown before he continued.
“Anyways, there was something wrong with this place, not only was it ancient, rusty and dark, but something felt off like something was in there with us, or like the tunnel itself was alive. I swear I thought I saw the pipes twitch sometimes and the whole shaft was subtly shifting like it was breathing, I don’t know, but It was weird man. We walked a few feet further into this tunnel when we heard a clang, and we just froze, I tried to act tough, and so I called out like an idiot. I heard it before I saw it, this figure just darted out of the darkness, it was small, but it was on all fours, and it was fast. That's when Jimmy and I started running screaming our heads off. When we reached the cellar door, we just scrambled up, and I turned around long enough to see this decayed little girl just on all floors glaring back up at us, absolute rage in her eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever slammed a door that hard since then.”
“What happened after that?” I asked
“Well, we ran screaming and crying to the principal’s office and told him all about what happened. Of course, they didn’t believe us, but they were upset that we had found the cellar entrance. So the next day the shoveled dirt over it and told us not to go near it again. You know sometimes I still get nightmares about that little girl, her pale skin covered in rot and her hateful eyes. Maybe it’s that Lily girl they talk about, but I don’t know.”
“So you’ll show us where it is?” Danny asked in an excited voice
“Hell no, if you kids know what’s good for you, then you’ll stay away from the door and from the wasting room. Nothing good will come of it” David replied
Disappointed but not disheartened, we went back to Danny’s room to play video games. David didn’t know it at the time, but his warning might’ve saved us from what was to come, If only we had listened. We told Leah all about David’s experience the following Monday.
“That’s scary, and I don’t think we should go looking for that door. What if Lily is really down there, and we let her out?” she asked.
“Don’t be dumb, Leah. My bro was just trying to scare us, besides I’ve got a plan on how to find it.”
“Oh yeah, how?” I asked
“Next time you spend the night, we’ll sneak out and hide my dad’s shovel in the trees in the field, and after school, we can go digging around and see if we find it,” Danny said with a grin.
“What about me? You know my mom picks me up as soon as schools out.”
“Just ask her if you can hang out with us for a little bit,” he responded.
Leah just sighed and said she would try. Danny’s plan, like most of the plans children make, never came to fruition. Sneaking out at night and carrying a shovel wasn’t going to happen. Danny modified his plan and instead snuck three garden trowels in his backpack to school every day until Leah was able to convince her mom to let her stay after school. It took three weeks of Leah’s whining, but she finally caved in after Danny’s father gave her a verbal confirmation that he would drop Leah off at her house.
It was a warm summer day when we made the trek to the back of the school to search for the cellar door. 6th-grade graduation was near, and I knew that these halcyon days were nearing their end. This would be our last great childhood adventure, and I wanted to make this the one to remember for the rest of my life. In the greatest knife twist of irony, that wish came true.
We spent only a few minutes stabbing the ground nearest to the school building before Leah hit something with her trowel. She shouted for us to check it out; she was always eager when it came to being the first at things. Danny and I started digging, and sure enough, we heard and felt our trowels scrape against metal buried only 3-4 inches deep. The three of us ran over and started scraping away until a rusty metal cellar door lay before us. Dan let out an excited yell and did a little half dance. I hadn’t seen him act so goofy in months. I was starting to reach for the handle of the door to throw it open when I felt a firm icy grip on my wrist freeze me in place. I jerked around in a panic to try to get a glimpse of the figure towering over me.
“What are you children doing?” asked Mrs. Leore in a calm but cold tone
“Nothing we were just playing around, uh digging for rocks and stuff,” Danny answered.
“Oh? Explain why you’re in a strictly off-limit area? hmmm? “ Mrs. Leore pointed an accusatory finger at Leah.
Leah looked down at her feet for a moment and let a few tears fall. The poor girl was always frightened by authority figures.
“We were looking for a way to get into the wasting room,” Leah said, tears slowly falling from her face.
“Oh, that persistent rumor? I can show it to you if you want,” Mrs. Leore said with a slight laugh.
“Wait, really!?” Danny asked
”Yes, if it’ll put these silly rumors to rest. Come follow me,” Ms. Leore said
The walk to the Eastern wing was punctuated by an anxious undercurrent, the various rumors surrounding that room, its nefarious purpose, and origins cycled through my mind. My anxiety peaked as we stood in front of that red-bricked building. Mrs. Leore took out a lanyard with a single bass key, gave us one final look, and inserted the key into the rusted, aging lock. The sound of the lock turning sent a jolt of paralytic fear through my body. Something about the faint grin Mrs. Leore gave us seemed sinister. As she creaked the door open, I started urging myself to take hold of my friend’s hands and just run, but every command I internally screamed at my body was ignored. Mrs. Leore straightened her back and flung the door open, the screeching of its ancient hinges cut through the silence and echoed off of concrete and linoleum. Danny jumped back, Leah gasped, and I broke out of my stunned silence to make a diminutive sound at the sight of what lay beyond the door.
Nothing, no skeletons, no bodies, no little girl withered and broken seeking revenge on the world that had condemned her to a fate worse than death: just dust, some shelves, and old furniture.
“Want to know why it was called the wasting room? This little room was once used as a pantry back when this school was still a hospital. When the first teachers opened it up after it’s conversion, they found it full of spoiled food. Guess the name got out to students, and they ran with it, made up all sorts of ridiculous things. We only use it for storage these days, nothing to fear.”
“But what about Lily? I blurted out
“Lily Teresa Esther, that was her name. The police determined that she was abducted by her estranged father and was never seen again. The last time she was seen was at this campus, but she didn’t die here. The investigation was thorough, and nothing was ever found.”
We stood dumbfounded by the sudden revelations.
“Good enough for you, kids?” she asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” Leah answered.
“Good, I’ve got things to attend to,” she said, locking the room and stuffing the lanyard into her back pocket.
As she was getting ready to leave, Danny ran up and hugged her, thanking her for solving the mystery for us. She let out an exaggerated sigh and let him know that it was no big deal and turned to leave. As soon as she was out of earshot, Danny spoke up.
“Did you ya see it?”
“See what?” Leah and I asked in unison
“You didn’t see it? Then I guess I’ll have to show you,” Danny said as he dangled the lanyard.
“Danny! We’re going to be in so much trouble. You need to give that back!” Leah said
“Yeah Danny, your dads gonna be here any minute,” I said
“Just enough time to take a quick peek” he replied
Danny took a quick look around to make sure no one else was around and quickly unlocked the door and opened it wide. He walked in and motioned for us to do the same.
“Don’t be babies, don't you guys wanna see it?”
I took a nervous step inside the room, Leah close behind me, Danny walked towards an old, filthy dresser.
“Help me move this thing,”
All three of us worked to push the thing a few feet and revealed that directly under was a rusty cellar door.
“See! I told you guys!” Danny said.
“I don’t think this is a good idea Danny we don’t know what’s down there and you’re dad’s probably waiting for us,” I said
“Yeah, and we already saw that the wasting room is nothing to be scared of,”
Danny tugged on the cellar door’s handle and slowly raised it until it stood open.
“Did you guys ever think that maybe this isn’t the wasting room?” Danny asked
“What do you mean?” I asked
“David said that he saw Lilly in some tunnel in a cellar. We should check it out at least,”
I peered down the cellar and saw a ladder leading to a smaller chamber inside, there was a corridor attached to it, and at the edge of it, I saw several pipes. Danny was on to something, and with my curiosity peaked, I agreed that it would be worth taking a look.
“What about your dad? My mom will kill me if we’re late,” Leah whined.
“It’ll only be a second, just to see if the wasting room is down here,” Danny said
I gave Leah’s hand a quick squeeze and a reassuring look before she nodded slightly. Reluctantly she joined us as we climbed down into the cellar. The chamber was surprisingly well-lit, light bulbs lined the ceiling. They were far enough apart that pockets of darkness existed in between each one. The most substantial oddity in the room was the profound lack of dust on anything. Sure rust lined the pipes, but the dust was nowhere to be seen. I should’ve seen this as a warning sign, a tell that place had been inhabited for years.
Leah pressed closer to me as Danny led our trio towards the pipelined corridor, the moment we crossed the threshold into it, we heard a loud slam that caused the lights to flicker. In the brief moment of darkness, I swore I saw movement. We screamed, loud and piercing, our collective shriek reached a siren-loud crescendo that quieted as the lights returned to their usual stable illumination. Leah was gripping my hand so tightly it hurt, and she was openly sobbing.
“I-I want to go home!” she said in between sobs.
“Yeah,” Danny agreed.
We turned to run back towards the ladder and saw that the cellar door had been what slammed shut. I scrambled up the ladder and tried to throw the doors open, but no matter how hard pushed and hit, it made no signs of budging. I started screaming for help, hoping someone would hear and let us out.
“Shit,” Danny cursed.
“What are we gonna do?” I yelled
Leah was now hysterical, pleading for us to get her out of there. Danny stared at both of us, face paler than I had ever seen it.
“This tunnel has to lead somewhere. I bet that it’ll be at the cellar on the other side of the school. We should-”
“No! We stay here and wait for help!” Leah yelled
“Leah’s right if we stay here someone’s bound to find us,” I said
Danny nodded and joined us in calling out for help and occasionally pounding at the cellar door. Hours seemed to pass by, and when we had screamed our voices horse and worked our hands raw, we knew no one was coming.
“We have to look for a way out,” Danny said in a dry whisper.
I nodded meekly and tried to help a near-catatonic Leah stand to her feet. She was responsive despite her silence. Walking to the edge of the room and peering down that ancient corridor, I saw that it stretched on as far as the eye could see, the light bulbs illuminating as much as they possibly could before blinking out of existence. I took a precarious step into the tunnel expecting something to happen, but when nothing did, I took another. Danny walked ahead in feigned bravado, and Leah followed close behind me. We walked until we hit the first light bulb above our heads, like a spotlight it shone in disorienting brilliance, giving us a clear view of the rusted and flaked metal pipes running alongside us. Some had built up condensation and dripped cold droplets. Others leaked a dubious black fluid, and some occasionally shot a jet of steam through cracks and holes. I had the slightest inclination to reach out and touch them, but I caught myself halfway through the thought. I looked ahead and saw the murky darkness we had to cross before reaching the next lightbulb lit beacon.
“Grab my hand and run,” I said
Leah took my right hand and Danny my right, and we sprinted as a linked unit into the next spotlight. We repeated this 5 or 6 more times before I noticed a change in scenery. The number of pipes running alongside had quadrupled, crowding the walls and ceiling and leaving no space. The size and variations of the pipes had also increased, some so rusted that they seemed on the verge of bursting, while others seemed almost new until closer inspection revealed the layers of grime that coated their surfaces. Some pipes were as wide as my head, while others were as thin as wires. I also was beginning to see that some of them were, very subtly, vibrating. I tried to pick up the pace, but after passing eight more light bulbs, my foot caught on something, and I fell hard. I was plunged into darkness, unable to see what had tripped me, the floor no longer felt like concrete. It was lumpy and harsh, covered in strange groves and valleys. Dread formed in my stomach as I tried to imagine what it was.
“Get up,” Danny shouted.
He hoisted me up, and we ran into the safety of the light, it was there when I finally got a good look at the floor. Pipes, the floor was made up of pipes. They lined every inch of space, I wondered if they rested on any concrete or if we were walking in a hallway of suspended pipes.
An unusually large pipe above our heads lightly showered us in a clear liquid I hoped was water. Leah looked at me with fear in her eyes. Danny saw it too, he turned away and stared at what lay ahead. The pipes beneath were now noticeably undulating, not constantly, but a wave of motion came and went in 40-second intervals. No one spoke up about the phenomena. Instead, we rested for a bit before we continued our trek down the pipe filled tunnel, silent and no longer holding each other’s hands.
I lost track of how many lightbulbs we passed and how long we had been down there. We collapsed in exhaustion under the glow of a light bulb. The pipes were now undeniably in constant shifting motion, an industrial intestinal tract. The hallway itself pushing us forward ever so slightly. The pipes now had multiple facets, spigots, and knobs, some leaking foul inky liquids while some spewed a steady stream of fetid water. An amalgamation of fungus grew from most pipes, psychedelic multi-colored, multi-textured molds, oddly shaped luminescent mushrooms, and pulsating slimes. The putrid scent of decay, spores, rust, metal, and death filled my lungs with every heaving breath. I stood up and propped myself against a pipe, wincing at the gelatinous sensation of the fungal organisms living on it. How much longer could I bear this?
The sound of clanking and twisting pipes caught my attention and looked up to see what was making the sound. It was a pale, withered hand poking out from the tangle of pipes directly above us. I stood frozen in place, unable to shout as a second hand slipped through and pushed the metal pipes apart as easily as if they were rubber. The sound the pipes made as they were forced apart caught the attention of Leah and Danny, and they looked up at being directly above their heads. As the hands pushed the pipes further apart, we all saw what it was, and we let out a collective shriek. The weathered visage of Lily peered back at us, hateful and coiled with malevolent intent. Where her eyes had once been now grew pale table capped mushrooms, the inside of her mouth was stained black, and it's putrid stench overpowered that of the pipe corridor. From her long mummified skin, within the rips and tears, some fungus grew and dangled down or stood erect, vile defiling phalluses taking root in a child long dead. I saw the mycelium through her translucent papery skin, it throbbed, ached, and the morbid thought that the fungus was puppeteering poor old Lily Teresa Esther briefly materialized in my mind. It was dispelled by the shuddering sound she made, something between a wheeze and scream, she lunged wildly as soon as it escaped the rotting pit of her mouth.
“What is that?!” Leah screamed.
“Just run!”
Lily was on all fours then, facing us, a swollen purple tongue fell out of that black pit, and she flicked it suggestively at us. I saw little white pustules lining the sides of her tongue and recognized with horror what they were, tiny mushroom caps. We ran faster than we had ever run in our lives. Lily let out another wheezing shriek and was at our heels. My chest burned with every breath, nearing exhaustion I dared to look behind me. Lily was now on the ceiling, clinging on the pipes like some hellish gecko, she was closing the gap between us, in moments she would be directly over our heads.
“There! It’s right there!” Leah shouted.
She was pointing at an object just a few lightbulbs away. I stood up to take a closer look and was shocked to see that it was a door, a rusted metal door. With newfound determination, I picked up speed and ran with all my might towards the promise of safety. I outpaced both Leah and Danny and threw myself at the door, with a single push I forced it wide open. Danny dove in, but Leah was a second too late. Lily dropped down from the ceiling and pounced. She succeeded in grabbing hold of one of Leah’s ankles and yanked the girl to the floor. Leah let out a scream and took hold of my hand, with her free leg she kicked at Lily and landed a direct hit. I heard the sickening crunch of ancient bones and frail skin shattering, and Lily’s head lulled back. Danny took hold of Leah’s other hand, and we pulled her out of Lily’s grasp. As we pulled her inside the room, Lily’s head snapped forward, and we saw the kick had unhinged her jaw, it now dangled from thin strips of skin. The fat purple slug of a tongue hung out thick, inky fluid poured from its length, as soon as the liquid made contact with the pipes, thin white caps sprouted and grew. I slammed the door before she could make another move, steeling myself. I turned around to see just to see where in God’s name, we ended up.
The inside of the room was huge, far too big. Its dimensions were a spatial impossibility; the expanse of the room was physically impossible to house just beneath the school. The ceiling was at least three stories tall, and its sheer size dwarfed the school several times over. There was no visible end. It was just a jumbled mess of pipes, ladders, drains, vents, grates, elevated metal walkways. It was maddening, an industrial hellscape. On some fixtures, the fungus was fused so seamlessly it was as if the pipes and all its attachments were made of fungal chitin and mycelium, grown together in a blasphemous fusion of rust, metal, and fungus—testaments to the gods of rot and decay.
“Where are we?” Danny said unsteadily
No one answered because no one knew, somehow we had crossed some unspoken boundary that divided our mundane little world, and this world ruled by atrophy. It came to me then, the answer to Danny’s questions and thus I spoke.
“The Wasting Room”
A brief silence fell upon us. From the pipelined walls, something emerged, an enormous mass was birthed. It dwarfed us in all it’s unholy glory; it was somewhat humanoid and comprised entirely of the same metal fixtures and fungus that made up everything else. Long rusty pipes and vents ran along its entire body, steam and, fluid leaking from them. I could see multiple giant gears embedded in its chest, turning constantly with no signs of slowing. Polypore Mushrooms, over a dozen feet in length, made up the organic majority of its mass. They grew along with its limbs and chest, a dozen other varieties made up the rest of its weight, they were the medium for which the biological and industrial conjoined and merged. Bioluminescent blue caps, bright red spotted amanitas, wrinkled morels, gelatinous wood ears, basket stinkhorns, and bleeding devil’s tooth, all there, thriving and festering. The being’s head was one giant flat fungal shield frond. It had many points ending in a pipe vents, multi-colored smog spewing from them, it was like some grotesque lions mane. In the center of its face sat two dark beady eyes, they seemed out of place, far too human. I knew at a glance what this being was. It could be nothing else but some long-forgotten lord of decay, the “God of Rot.” It didn’t need to speak to convey the hatred and pain it felt, it was all in its eyes, but regardless it spoke.
“Cast yourselves onto me, and my domain and ye shall be gifted the fruit of immortality, for death is nearly the beginning. Be immortalized in the mycelium and rust, that which with countless eons will always fester.”
As soon as the words were spoken, they rose, an army of humanoid pipe/fungus amalgamations took form before our very eyes. They took slow strained steps towards us, metal and steam screeched with every movement they made, we ran.
“There has to be an exit,” Leah yelled.
“How do you know?” Danny asked
“Because if this place has an entrance, it means that there must be some other way to enter and leave,”
“I don’t know if this place follows the rules of the outside world Leah,” I said
“It follows some of them though,” she said unsteadily.
We scrambled up a flight of stairs into an elevated walkway. There was one thing that caught my attention, following Leah’s reasoning, I noticed that this place was illuminated by rays of light peeking in from overhead windows. If we would just reach them, then maybe we could escape.
“There” I shouted
I pointed at a ladder leading up towards the ceiling. Danny was the first one to start ascending it. I helped Leah up before I took my place and climbed for my life. Looking down, I could see the army of bio-industrial humans convening at the base of the ladder.
“Danny! Leah! Hurry!” I shouted
Danny struggled to pick up the pace and make his way towards the now visible door at the end of the ladder. I felt the weight of the first creature start its climb, I felt the vibrations of every step it climbed, and it informed me that it was fast, way too quickly for us to outpace it for long.
“Almost there,” Danny shouted.
He was about a foot or two from the door when his hand launched out to push it open. I saw the glare of a bright summer sun just beyond the door. Danny hoisted himself up and had his upper torso through the door when the sound of wheezing scream cut through, instilling that familiar paralytic fear. A dangling pipe directly behind Danny burst open, vile black fluid spilled out in a torrential flood, drenching Danny. The reanimated corpse of Lily leaped out from the shattered pipe and clung on to Danny’s lower half, and they both came tumbling down. There was no time to scream or even react as they were both in freefall, Lily took most of the impact, her tiny, frail rotting body bursting as soon as it made contact with the cold hard floor, long rotted organs and violet fluid splattering across the room. Danny’s head still smacked the ground hard enough to knock him unconscious. The creatures on the ladder jumped down onto the floor, and they gathered around Danny.
“We have to help him!” I screamed
Leah, poor shy meek Leah, with eyes full of grief, made the final steps and climbed out into the world outside. I stood in shock, taking a glance back down at Danny, and back again at Leah, I realized I had a choice to make. I could leave with Leah right now, or I could stay down here with the Rowdy boy I had known since the 1st grade, dark-eyed and all too excitable, slowly maturing in a young man at the peak of his youth, how much longer would our friendship last? Danny, who once chased wild animals and built box forts, Danny, who played pranks on girls to scare them away and talked loud on purpose to annoy adults. Danny, who now rarely played with us and said our adventures were childish, Danny, who now preferred to look at magazines full of women splayed out and naked instead of reading the latest spiderman comics with me. Danny had made his choice, and Leah had made hers, I reached out to her, and she took hold of my hand.
“Wait! Please!” Danny shouted now conscious
I turned to look one final time, Danny was being carried away by the creatures, the black liquid that stained him had begun sprouting little mushroom caps, I’m sure if he was closer I would see the thin mycelium growing into his skin. I watched as they carried Danny to a nearby pipe jutting from the wall, it ended in an open spout, a familiar black liquid dripped from it.
“No! Please! Help m-”
His final cry for help was cut off by the creatures ramming and impaling him into the pipe. Danny went limp and let himself collapse. His body twitched once as I heard the pipe groan and creak, I saw his eyes and mouth start leaking the black fluid, as the inky tears ran streaks down his cheeks, little mushroom caps began sprouting from them. Hot tears ran down my cheeks; they cut a path through my dirt stain faced and fell onto the floor. I had made my choice. I let out a heaving sob as I turned and stepped out into our world.
A Janitor found us at the back of the school, next to the cellar door where Mrs. Leore had scolded us. The police were called as we had been missing for three days at that point, we pointed meekly at the now-closed door. The questions of what happened, where we were, and Danny were asked nonstop for the first week, we could only point them towards the cellar and the brick room, we told them of the wasting room and the hallway of pipes. They said it was trauma, and that we created false memories to cope. They never found anything in the brick room, in the cellar doors, and Danny was assumed dead by the end of the summer.
Danny’s parents didn’t invite me to the funeral. I saw in their eyes that they blamed me. With no one else to blame, they turned their ire towards me. Maybe they could see the guilt in my eyes. Maybe they knew that on some level I had abandoned their son, they weren’t wrong. David, Danny’s older brother, killed himself in the following weeks as if the Powell family hadn’t lost enough. My parents blamed me too, they never said it, but they always treated me differently, as if I was some wild animal that could snap at any moment. Leah and I drifted apart, the last time I heard from her was in freshman year of high school. I found a note slipped in my locker, it wasn’t signed, but I recognized her immaculate tiny script. All it said was that she was going back for Danny, that the door to the wasting room would open for her. Leah went missing that day, and I never saw her again.
It’s been six years since I first stepped foot in the wasting room. I tried to do some digging, but what I found doesn’t solve or answer anything. I know that when the school was still a hospital, the terminal patients were assigned that cold brick room, left there to waste away slowly, that’s how it got its morbid moniker. My small, unassuming school was a place for the sick to come and spend their final days in cold mildewy hospital rooms, maybe just maybe a place can only experience so much death, suffering, and grief before some outside forces take notice. Or maybe those who slowly rotted away called out to some higher power. Maybe after so much tragedy, a physical location can become linked to some outer realm ruled by that tragedy, by that decay. Maybe Mrs. Leore and the other teachers knew of the horrible domain beneath their very feet, and they played along with its whims and demands. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t know, there is no answer, no clean tightly wrapped ribbon that holds it all together. All I know is that I can’t go on like this. Danny and Leah consume my every waking thought, God, I miss them. The God of Rot promised me immortality once. I’m sure if I go back to that place, back to that red-bricked abyss, the wasting room would still be there waiting for me.
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2023.05.20 05:46 Famous_Radish_8186 A pleasant story about libations in the world of DS - AI generated.

My wife is having fun generating stories in Chat GPT. I think I shall call this brew…Connective Tissue.
In the treacherous world of Death Stranding, L’s quest for coffee led her to an unexpected discovery with Sam Porter Bridges by her side. As they ventured through the haunting landscapes, they stumbled upon a cache of coffee hidden within an abandoned facility. It was a rare find, and the aroma alone captivated their senses.
Little did they know, their discovery had piqued the curiosity of the otherworldly BTs—the spectral beings that roamed the land. Drawn to the alluring scent of coffee, the BTs manifested in greater numbers, their ethereal forms drifting closer to L and Sam's location.
Curiosity getting the better of them, L and Sam decided to experiment with the coffee, adding a sprinkle of chiral crystals to their brew. Chiral crystals, with their mysterious properties, had the potential to enhance and alter the essence of substances they came into contact with.
As they sipped the newly infused coffee, an explosion of flavor erupted on their taste buds. It was a symphony of richness and depth, a sensory experience unlike anything they had ever encountered. The chiral crystals had transformed the coffee, elevating its taste to unimaginable heights.
Word of L and Sam's newfound concoction spread among the BTs, and their craving for this extraordinary coffee grew insatiable. The BTs, normally haunting and menacing, seemed inexplicably drawn to the allure of this unique blend. They would linger on the outskirts of L and Sam's deliveries, drawn to the aroma that permeated the air.
In an act of both courage and curiosity, L and Sam decided to share their chiral-infused coffee with the BTs. As the ethereal creatures cautiously approached, L offered them a cup, their spectral tendrils curiously reaching out to accept the steaming brew.
To their astonishment, the BTs' reactions were unexpected. The coffee seemed to resonate with their essence, causing ripples of ethereal energy to course through their spectral forms. As they tasted the coffee, their ominous presence softened, and expressions of ephemeral delight danced across their faces.
The bond between L, Sam, and the BTs began to shift. No longer antagonistic, they found a shared appreciation for the unique flavor that the chiral-infused coffee provided. It became a symbol of unity and understanding amidst the fractured world they inhabited.
Emboldened by their newfound connection, L and Sam, accompanied by a small group of BTs, embarked on a mission to share their chiral-enhanced coffee with others. They traversed the vast landscapes, leaving small, hidden caches of the precious blend in the hopes of bringing a moment of respite and joy to those in need.
As the aroma of the coffee spread across the desolate world, it acted as a beacon of hope, drawing people together. It became a symbol of unity, reminding humanity that even in the face of adversity, shared experiences and small moments of pleasure could bridge the gaps that separated them.
L, Sam, and their newfound allies, both human and spectral, continued their deliveries, not only carrying packages but also carrying the warmth and connection that the chiral-infused coffee symbolized. It was a testament to the power of unlikely alliances and the transformative nature of shared experiences in a world yearning for connection.
And so, L’s journey for coffee in the company of Sam Porter Bridges took on a deeper meaning, uniting fractured souls and sparking a flicker of hope in a world shrouded in darkness.
submitted by Famous_Radish_8186 to DeathStranding [link] [comments]

2023.05.19 13:30 mister-mishra Learn and Earn with Ease: Discover Many Smile's Platform

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