Burn notice jesse porter

What's the plan, Phil?

2011.12.28 23:45 What's the plan, Phil?

A place for fans of ABC's hit show Modern Family.

2023.03.27 16:21 tiredofgiproblems Sibo after eradicating pylori

I had tested negative for pylori after quad therapy last month. I still have burning stomach sometimes, if i go too long between meals, constipation all the time. I am still on a very bland diet with few vegetables, beans, rice, toast.
I noticed that I have a dry throat and mouth when I wake up and some discomfort in the chest too, not due to reflux, but some hot gas/feeling coming up my stomach. And my mouth tastes bad too.
Could this be Sibo? Or fungus? Or something else that I should push my PCP to test for?
submitted by tiredofgiproblems to SIBO [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 16:16 MjolnirPants Jerry and the Apocalypse: Part 57

Part 56
The alarms I'd placed on the camp woke me up with a start.
They weren't audible alarms, but feelings. Fright and surprise and a strong certainty that I was being watched. Feelings that I knew would make me snap awake in an instant. I peeled Avarisa off me and crouched in the tent, summoning my gear. I went with my rifle, instead of the sword, because it was more flexible.
I reached out to the alarms, which did more than just warn me, and accepted the knowledge they imparted. There were two figures approaching from the south, where the ground was level and rocky, without a lot of dead vegetation to crunch underfoot.
The fire was still burning. I could see the light of it through the tent walls. I quickly teleported myself out to a point fifty yards from the north edge of camp, into a spot I'd cleared of small pebbles and dead grass earlier, arriving soundlessly. I spread out my magical senses, and almost immediately spotted two more figures between me and the camp.
It seems we're quite popular, tonight.
I crouched and crept forward, preparing a bit of magic to drop on them. As I was about ready to attack, the two figures already in the camp changed. Both of them grew suddenly to massive proportions, towering over the tents. I could see them in the firelight, wearing nothing but their underwear. Hulks. I watched until one of them turned his face to the light, and I recognized it. Robert Kilpatrick, one of the escapees I was supposed to be tracking.
I felt something odd and familiar happen then. It was kind of like a hush, except it was magical, not audible. The wind still whispered gently through the dead trees, just as it had before. It felt familiar, and as I searched my brain for where I'd sensed this before, I got a flash of an old warehouse. I tried to focus on it, but another flash came. An office with a wall full of sex toys.
That brought the answer, and told me who the two figures in front of me were. The silent sisters, Dylan's magic-suppressing, perverted sisters. These two, together, could pose a serious threat to Kathy, Avarisa and I. Especially with the two hulks in the camp. I glanced up again and saw them getting into position in front of Kathy's tent, which was good. Kathy could handle herself better than Avarisa could.
Unfortunately, the two sisters had focused their ability on the camp itself. Which left me, outside of the camp, free to use my magic.
My original idea had been to burn them both to the ground by igniting the fat under their skin, while converting parts of their endodermis to a tincture of aluminum and diamond dust suspended in alcohol. It was a spell I'd developed using pig carcasses, and it could render a two-hundred pound carcass to a pile of ash and bone in just under two seconds. It was, theoretically at least, too fast for a victim to feel the pain of their death, as their nerve endings would be destroyed before the signals from the heat could register in their brains.
It was also too good for these two. And too fatal. I wanted to capture them and bind them. I needed to ask them questions. I also needed them to answer those questions, so I needed to take the hulks alive, too.
I considered it, thinking quickly, because Robert's companion was already quietly working the zipper of Kathy's tent down. The sisters needed to go down first. Magic applied directly to their brains wouldn't work, thanks to their abilities. But the indirect effects of magic would affect them just fine. So I needed to do something that would physically incapacitate them.
Basically, I needed to solve a problem that had plagued less-than-lethal weapons designers for-
Never mind. With a mental facepalm, I sent my rifle back to hammerspace and produced the alien zapper, instead. I'd gotten my head into wizard-space, thinking about ways of using magic to do things I already knew how to do.
I crept forward very slowly, mindful of all the dead grass and leaves, until I finally saw two figures, crouched down, facing the camp. I raised my rifle right as one of the hulks pulled his head out of Kathy's tent and threw up his hands in a helpless gesture. Kathy had been awoken by the alarms, too. These idiots had no idea who they were messing with, apparently.
I shot the first figure and then transitioned to the other without bothering to note the effects of the first shot. I shot the second figure, and it was then that I noticed the first one wasn't down. She rose to her feet, her face leaving the shadows of a dead bush. Caliope, Dylan's former right hand woman.
She had apparently seen the beam connecting me to her sister. Crap. I hadn't had any indication that this weapon wouldn't work on them. This caught me off guard. Reluctantly, I prepared my original idea.
I was about ready to kill them both when I felt their magical silence settle over me. The magic I felt flowing through me non-stop vanished. With my magical options off the table and my rifle stuck in hammerspace for the moment, I pulled my knife and charged.
Griselda moved quickly, producing a handgun that she pointed at me and fired. My armor stopped the round, but it hurt and made me stumble. As I did, I felt... Something. I wasn't sure what it was. It was magical, though. And it wasn't the flash of magic returning for a split second, nor the tiny trickle of the faintest bit getting through, as I'd experienced before with these to. It was something that simply seemed unaffected by their ability.
Unable to waste time figuring it out, I caught my footing and continued forward, aiming for Caliope. I didn't think Griselda would shoot me if I was entangled with her sister. Caliope tried to pull a gun as well, but she was too late. I was within range when the gun cleared her pocket, and I knocked it away by punching the back of the hand holding it. My knuckles impacted the bones of her hands and shattered them, forcing her to let go. The gun went flying, and then I slammed into her.
I could had driven the knife directly into her heart, but I really wanted to question both of them. Instead, I lashed it across her left bicep, right by the inner elbow. Blood immediately spurted from the wound as I severed a major vein along with the tendons. Her left arm went limp as her right tried to grab a hold of me. I reversed my grip on my knife and brought it across, between our bodies right as another gunshot rang out and another brick slammed into the back of my armor.
I recovered quickly and severed the tendon on Caliope's other arm. She gasped as I did so, the expected mix of pleasure and pain on her features. Damned masochists.
I spun, knowing that both of her arms were mostly useless. Griselda had a practiced shooter's stance, and a bead drawn on me already. I juked left, then right as I rushed her, and she fired at the last second.
This time, the bullet missed my armor and tore my shoulder open. I gritted my teeth in anticipation of the intense pain to come as I struck her with my other shoulder, knocking her down and collapsing on top of her.
A pair of loud booms rang out behind me, followed by a masculine scream. Kathy had revealed herself.
I headbutted Griselda once, smashing her nose and immediately causing blood to pour out of it. She snarled at me and headbutted me back. It made my vision swim with stars, but I was pretty sure my nose remained unbroken.
I grabbed her by the throat with my left arm and squeezed. I had planned to give her the same treatment as her sister, but then I noticed that flexing my left arm didn't hurt. A quick glance at my shoulder showed a bloody hole in my shirt and solid skin below.
I hesitated for a second, trying to figure that one out when I felt a hammer blow on my side, above the sidebands of the armor. I glanced down just in time to see Griselda draw her own knife out.
"Hijo de puta," she swore. The vitriol in her voice inspired a little in me. I got real angry. I reached down with my right hand and pressed the blade into her belly. Very low down, very slowly, sliding it in, millimeter by millimeter. She squirmed, but that only served to wide the injury.
After a second of pushing, she began to scream. Her expression transitioned from hatred to panic as the knife blade continued to slowly drive into her body.
"Alto, alto, alto alto ALTO!" she screamed, trying desperately to pull away. Something clicked in me, and I changed tactics, jamming the knife in, drawing a startled grunt out of her. I ripped it back out.
"That's a mortal wound," I told her, surprised at how calm my voice sounded. "You just started dying. The process is going to take about three days, and it's going to be very painful, as your organs are consumed by the bacteria in your gut. It's supposed to be one of the worst ways a warrior can die, stabbed in the gut like that."
She whimpered and coughed, spraying me with a fine mist of blood. I heard movement from behind me, so I slammed my head into her face again and rolled away just in time for Caliope to shoot her sister in the leg with a gun held in shaking hands. Griselda grunted with the pain as the bullet struck her on the inner thigh, just above her knee and then traveled up her leg, doing incredible damage. Caliope cried out as she saw what she'd done.
I rolled to my feet and stomped the gun out of Caliope's hand. "Idiot," I snapped.
"You're done. Both of you," I said. "Your partners back at the camp?" Two gunshots punctuated my words, followed quickly by two more. "They're dead now," I finished.
"Drop the silence, or I'll finish you both right now," I said. I immediately felt magic returning.
"Jerry?" Avarisa's voice called out. I looked towards the camp to see her standing there, looking around with a rifle clutched in her hands. I mentally recalculated who'd fired those last four shots. It seemed Avarisa had been a force to be reckoned with, as well.
"Over here!" I called. "I got two more."
I dropped a wet blanket on both of them to keep their abilities in check, and then I used magic to raise them off the ground and bind their hands behind their backs. Both women screamed as their injured bodies were jerked around roughly, but I wasn't taking any chances with these two. I levitated them ahead of me as I walked back to the camp.
I found Kathy and Avarisa standing over the bodies of two men. Both had pools of blood spreading out from underneath them.
"Well, looky who we have here," Kathy said as she recognized the sisters. "Thought you ladies were in lockup?"
Neither woman responded. Both were pale with blood loss and pain. I released them, causing more cries as they hit the ground.
"They both need healing," I said, crouching over Griselda and placing my hand on the wound in her belly. I pushed healing magic into it and felt the tissues connecting as Kathy healed Caliope's arms.
"I've got some of those blanket collars in hammerspace," Kathy said. I nodded, having a trio of them myself, just in case something like this happened. "Put one on Caliope and I'll get Griselda, then I can drop the wet blanket."
Griselda tried to struggle when I summoned the collar and attempted to fasten it around her neck, but I had six inches, sixty pounds and a whole avatar's worth of wrestling, jujitsu and judo on her. I ended up having to wrench both of her hands behind her back, gripping her wrists in one hand and cranking up in a pain compliance hold. I fastened the collar one-handed and then let her go.
"You keep fighting, I'll hogtie you," I said in a warning tone. Griselda glared at me in response, but she didn't make any more movement. I glanced over at Kathy, who was having a bit more trouble with Caliope, so I stood and walked over, stepping on one of her hands.
She growled at me, "Pinche cabron," she snarled, so I pressed down a little harder, making her wince and grind her teeth. "I got one hand," I said to Kathy who quickly bound up her other hand I reached out and took that hand, too. A quick glimpse at Griselda showed her still sitting there, looking defiant.
Kathy got the collar fastened. "I'll hogtie you, too," I said to Caliope as I lifted my foot and let go of her other wrist. "Just give me an excuse."
Both women glared at us as they scooted over to sit next to each other. They closed up tightly, hips touching. I stared at them for a second, and then I had to look away. I stood next to Kathy and spoke quietly to her.
"Can you handle questioning them?"
"Yeah," she said. "Don't you want to do it, though?" I shook my head.
"I can't. I'm... I feel like..." I sighed, unable to find the right words. Kathy met my eyes, then looked at the prisoners and then back at me.
"You're about to rip them apart," she said. I nodded.
"I get it. Go on, take a walk and cool off. I got this."
"Thank you," I said, putting a hand on her shoulder. I took a few steps forward, then I heard Kathy's voice.
"Nu uh, not you, sweet cheeks. Stick around, I need a second pair of hands."
I turned to see Avarisa looking uncertainly between Kathy and I. She'd clearly started to follow me. "Stay here," I said to her. "Kathy will need your help. I just need to be alone for a minute."
I walked off.
About an hour later, I found a large, rocky outcropping on the side of a hill near the top and climbed onto it. It kind of reminded me of the King's Seat, near my house on Earth. It afforded me a great view over a large, wooded plain, surrounded by mountains. It was a valley, I guess, but very large. I wondered what was here on Earth, since the geography of the worlds aligned, according to Avarisa.
I then wondered where we were, to begin with. The Rockies? Alps? Himalayas? Most of the mountains had snow-covered peaks. So it was a younger mountain range. Maybe the Altai mountains... The more I thought about that last one, the more I thought that might be the case. I kind of liked the thought that Eastern Mongolia had been home to a wealthy, industrious society on this world. Not that it did them any good, in the end.
Off in the distance, ahead of me, I saw a large spire, rising out of the mountains across the valley. It was maybe twenty miles off, meaning we'd be close to it by the time we made camp tomorrow. The last roar we'd heard had come from that direction.
I thought about the way I'd felt during that rather anti-climactic fight. The way I'd injured Griselda. I had done something similar to her sister once, years ago. We'd caught her unaware, and though she had managed to suppress our magic, I beat her into unconsciousness with my bare fists. She'd enjoyed the first few hits, being one of the worst masochists I'd ever heard of, but by the end, she was literally begging me to stop.
Back then, I'd felt my gut twist in disgust at what I was doing. I was doing it out of desperation, but still. It disgusted me. Her voice, begging me to stop, had stuck with me for a long time after. I had pushed through because I thought I needed to do it. And that attitude I'd had ended up leading me to murder several dozen innocent women.
This time, it was different. I had no need to hurt Griselda like that. I could have incapacitated the both of them with my bear hands, no magic, and never broke a sweat. I mean, I was almost as quick as one of the ninjas, and almost as strong as one of the hulks, and that's without magic. Even if I didn't know a damn thing about fighting, I'd be a terror for anyone who wasn't twice my size or bigger.
But I also had a head full of perfect knowledge of every martial art (not just ancient Eastern ones, either; my repertoire included countless flavors of HEMA, modern martial arts and gunfighting, as well).
Yet I'd drawn my knife, and used it on both. And the way I used it on Griselda... That was sadism, right there. I know that's her shtick, and there might be some way to claim she'd magically rubbed off on me. I know that there was some magic still happening while they were suppressing most of it. Which is a mystery I'm going to need to solve, all by itself.
But that's not what happened, I knew. That was all me. I had wanted to make her suffer.
I was lashing out, I thought.
Footsteps behind me made me turn. Kathy was approaching. She climbed up the rock and walked over to sit down next to me.
"That was fast," I said.
"Avarisa's still working them. She's actually really good at this. Took the lead right off the bat and got them talking while they were just glaring at me."
"And she's by herself with those two?" I quirked an eyebrow.
"She's got full access to a goddesses' power, dude," Kathy said. She met my eyes, and I felt the significance of that look.
"She only acts helpless when she's around you." I knew there was more to that observation than correcting my misplaced concern for her safety, but I didn't bother to engage with it. I had other things on my mind.
So I simply nodded. Truth be told, I should have noticed that, myself. But, as I said, I was distracted.
"So what have they said?" I asked, but Kathy held up a hand. "We'll get to that. It can wait."
"Then why are you here?" I asked.
"Because you're here, dummy," she responded. She turned to look out over the valley, giving me a view of her face in profile. It had changed. Not from yesterday, or even last year. But from when I first met her. She'd been a teenage cheerleader, then. An equestrian girl, with wealthy parents, who spent her weekends volunteering with a home building charity because the idea of people being homeless broke her young heart.
And she'd been through hell, too. Kidnapped and presented to Nick as a present. He had raped her repeatedly, and promised to let other men (and women) have their way with her. When Gary and Inanna brought her to the rest of us, I'd seen a broken young girl. Someone to be pitied, cared for and protected.
No longer.
The woman sitting next to me was a legend in her own right. A character, based on her, was a regular on the most popular television show in the world, playing by a previously unknown actress who was now one of the most in-demand talents in Hollywood, thanks to that role. She was a warrior without peer, as true a friend as anyone could ask for, and a woman who tended to dominate whatever situation she found herself in, just by nature of being herself.
Her nose was a little bigger, I thought. She had faint lines around her eyes. She was still too young for laugh lines, but her cheeks had filled out in places and hollowed in others. Her eyebrows were thicker. Her hair was dyed black, with blood-red stripes and white-blonde tips. She wasn't wearing any makeup at the moment, but I pictured the dark eyeshadow, black liner and black lipstick she so often wore.
I knew what she wanted me to say.
"I used my knife," I said. "I wanted to hurt them both. Griselda's belly wound... I did it slowly on purpose. She went from cursing me out to begging me to stop in about one second."
"How did you feel when you were slowly stabbing her?" Kathy asked.
"I liked it," I said.
"You had permission to hurt her," Kathy said.
"Wait, what?" I asked. "What do you mean?"
"I mean you know who she is. You know what she is. She's a bad person, who probably deserves to die. And you know that. You know about the victims that came out when we got her on trial. Remember that boy from Calle 58?"
I nodded, recalling the trial. The sisters had been fifteen at the time, and there was a twelve-year-old runaway living on the streets in the neighborhood they lived in with their father. The girls lured the boy into a building that was still under construction and castrated him, leaving him to bleed out and die.
"The things these two have done, they strip away their humanity. When you look at them, you don't see two women. You see enemies. Monsters. You gave yourself permission to hurt them."
"Yeah," I said. Her words made sense.
"Still," I added after a moment.
"Yeah," she said. "Permission isn't motivation."
We sat in silence for a while, until I had something to say.
"Everything feels fake," I said, and it took an act of will to even make myself say it. Because admitting it felt just as fake as everything else. "Almost every damn thing feels fake. Eating, moving, fighting, fucking Avarisa. Even this quest feels fake."
"So you don't want to kill Sarisa?" Kathy asked.
"I do," I said. "I want it so bad I can taste it, but... Actually doing it... It feels fake. Like it's some kind of ritual, part of a religion I don't even believe in. Everything's just me going through the motions. When I was fighting those two, it was like... Like an intellectual exercise. Right up until I thought about the knife.
"The knife, it was like... I don't know how to describe it. It had this... Weight to it. This gravity. It felt real. And then I looked at them and the desire to hurt them... It was the first real thing I've felt, since..."
"Yeah, I know," Kathy said.
I looked down, then raised my head back up.
"You feel empty," she said. "You're hurting. You feel alone in your pain, and you want other people to hurt, too. But you can't just go around hurting people."
"Until I found someone I'd given myself permission to hurt," I finished for her. She nodded. I watched her for a second, and saw light glinting off her cheeks. She was crying. I put my arm around her shoulder and she leaned against me.
"You're hurting, too," I said. She sniffed. "Inanna was as much my mom as my actual mom," she said. "You know she used to track me down, when I was out hunting Duke. She'd find me, wherever I was, and bring me food, or gear or supplies. She'd even sit a watch, so I could get some sleep sometimes."
I nodded. "I knew," I said. "Remember the books she brought you to read when you were holed up somewhere all by yourself? That was me, picking them out for you."
She chuckled and sniffed. "Yeah, I should have known her tastes were too good. I really liked those indie military sci-fi ones. The protagonist kinda reminded me of you a little bit."
"Yeah, I really liked those," I said. "They made a game based on the first one, by the way."
"Is it any good?" she asked.
"Meh," I said. "They lost the charm of the books. Just a straight-laced shooter with some cool mechanics."
There was already someone hurting, I thought. I didn't actually need to hurt anyone to not be alone in my suffering. It wasn't just Kathy, either. Brekka had lost her best friend and two children she loved like her own. Gary, Yarm, Lya, Julie, Sookie, Ishantee... The list went on. Julie was probably hurting. Michelle and Angie were Inanna's friends, as well. Eddis and Yarm Junior loved the little ones like their own siblings. I accepted that I wasn't alone. That others were suffering with me.
It didn't help, though. I thought about the two captives back at the camp, and I still wanted to hurt them.
"You know what's going on with your feelings?" she asked after I had gone quiet for a bit.
"Yeah," I said. "But knowing is not really helping. When I think about them, I still feel the urge to hurt them."
"Yeah, knowing is half the battle, dude, but it's only half the battle. The rest will come naturally to you, in time. Maybe not everyone, but to you? Yeah."
"So your professional opinion is that I'm on my way to healing?" I asked. She nodded. "That's not the only thing I wanted to talk to you about."
I knew what the other things was. I mean, it was obvious. Avarisa. I began to speak.
"You know, when Sarisa turned on me, that hurt. It really shook me, because she was my best friend. We were really close."
"You knew her for like, two years, before you met Inanna, right?"
I nodded. "Yeah. In that time, we got closer than I'd ever really been with anyone. There was a lot there. When Avarisa and I got to know each other, I recognized that Sarisa. The one I was so close to. I thought maybe that was something that could help me. Something that I'd lost that I could get back."
"You weren't fucking Sarisa, though," Kathy said.
"No, no I wasn't."
I thought for a few minutes. Kathy continued to lean on me.
"I didn't mean to," I said after a bit.
"Ahh, you tripped and fell right into her pussy. Ploop," Kathy quipped, so I poked her in the ribs. She squirmed and chuckled.
"You know what I mean. I wanted to let her in. I don't have a lot of social skills that aren't seductive. I messed up and gave her the wrong in. And now I'm starting to think it was a pretty big mistake."
"She's got it bad for you, Jerry," Kathy said. "And you're leading her on right now. I can see where this is going."
"Where?" I asked. Kathy turned to give me a harsh look. "It's a serious question. You know I value your judgement, Kathy. Kay-Kay. MmmKay?" I poked her again.
"Ack! Quit poking me, dude," she objected.
"This is what I do, apparently," I said. "I poke women inappropriately."
She giggled, and I felt the tiniest spark of happiness at that sound. For just a second, she sounded like the girl I'd first met, and not the woman I now knew. And while I loved this woman to death, I kinda missed the girl, sometimes.
"Okay, so what I'm seeing is a lot of pain. I see you, doing your thing. Working for the DCM group, making new magic. Sixty, seventy hours a week. You spend another ten, twenty hours a week with Yarm, with Gary, with me. Avarisa, though... You're the only thing she's living for. She stays home, keeps the house. Maybe you knock her up. You love your new kids, but it's not the same. You're distant.
"Meanwhile, her heart's breaking every time you stay late at work. Every time you're not in the mood to have sex. Every time you can't make some family event. Because in between, you're letting the guilt of the the life you know you're giving her get to you, so you make these moments that are all about her. And they feel good for you, too, but in the same way that handing a homeless man a twenty feels good. Her happiness isn't your priority, it's just nice.
"So she's got this emotional rollercoaster she's riding. One day, you're telling her that she means the world to you, and that you'd do anything for her, and she can see that you mean every word of it, because you do. In that moment, at least. And then, the next day, you're calling her to tell her to go ahead and feed the kids and don't wait up, you and Gary have a meeting with the president in Hawaii, or you promised Yarm you two would get some beers or something. So she feeds the kids and puts them to bed and goes out on the porch and sits and thinks. And she knows that you just don't feel about her the same way she feels about you. And you never will. And she cries into a glass of wine until she finally passes out.
"The next morning, after you leave for work, she putters around the house, trying to convince herself that it doesn't matter. That she wants you to be happy and she's doing whatever she can to make that happen. That maybe she doesn't deserve to be loved. Everything's fine, this is the best she can hope for. And that grinds away at her, little by little.
"And then one day, one of you is gonna die. An accident or a fight or maybe old age. And if it's you, she's going to collapse and end up killing herself, leaving your kids behind with all these conflicting emotions about their parents. And if it's her... Her last thoughts are going to be longing for you to mourn her. And you will, because that guilt you've been harboring for years is going to eat at you, until there's nothing left of you but a bitter old shell. And I hope to god that nothing happens that requires you to save the world at that point, Jerry, because I promise you, you'll turn into that guy Sarisa wanted to make you into."
When she finished speaking, we sat there in silence for a long time. We sat there as I contemplated how close to my own thoughts her words had struck, until the sun began to rise behind us. I realized that I needed to come clean to Avarisa. To make sure she understood where I was coming from, and to stop sleeping with her. We'd only done it a couple of times, but we'd already gotten into a routine.
"Thank you," I said to Kathy as our shadows appeared on the forest below our perch.
She shrugged. "I didn't fix anything for you."
"I know that's not how it works," I said. "But thank you for speaking truth to me. Thank you for caring. And thank you for..."
"For hurting?" she asked. I nodded. She sniffed. "Can't help it, dude."
"I know," I said. Another long moment passed.
"Is it weird that there's a small part of my brain -a very stupid and cringey part, mind- that half expects you to grab my tit and try to kiss me right now?" she asked, breaking the spell. I couldn't help but chuff a surprised laugh. Not just because that was the last thing I was liable to do to Kathy, but because I recognized that it was definitely the sort of thing that I might do to someone else. Her wit was a sharp one.
"Yes," I deadpanned. "That is extremely weird and more than a little bit unsettling. I'm not sure that I'm comfortable being this close to you, right now."
She snorted, holding back a laugh. I met her eyes and couldn't help but smile. We both looked out over the massive valley, until I saw a thin column of smoke begin to rise, a few miles away. I pulled my arm off her and leaned forward.
"Do you see that?" I asked.
"Yup," she said, climbing to her feet and then holding out a hand to help me up. I took it and let her pull me to my feet.
"Somebody's cooking breakfast," she said.
submitted by MjolnirPants to JerryandtheGoddesses [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 16:15 Simp4Bob Questions to Steve August

Hi! First of all, I'm thankful to you, Steve August, for taking the time to answer questions from all of us costo sufferers. This will be a long post, but I hope others can find some comfort in the fact that they are not alone and perhaps some questions can be answered.
I (M18) developed costochondritis 6 months ago. I went to the gym 5x a week and did a lot of heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. I sat many hours on the computer and often with a slouched posture. Right before the costo came, I had recently been sick and I just started to get back again. I noticed how I was weaker in the bench press than usual but didn't think much of it since it's kind of expected after being sick. Later that night, I noticed a burning pain in the middle of the chest wall. I, like many others, thought something was wrong with my heart so I went to the ER and got diagnosed with costochondritis immediately. The doctor told me that I just had to rest for 3 weeks and take some NSAIDs, and after that, I would be fine. However, 6 months later, I still struggle with this and I'm not sure if I’m doing enough to make it heal. If I had to rate my pain it is often between 1-4 out of 10, but if I’ve done something stupid, it can go up to a 6-7. I've tried to do some push exercises at the gym with very low weights, (like barely warmup weights) and it feels perfectly fine. However, a few hours later I ended up with really bad pain that has taken weeks to ease out, so I’ve stopped doing everything with push now. My pain is usually in the middle of the chest wall, however, in the past few months, it has started a bit lower, to the sides around the ribs. The pain in the chest wall is worse since it feels like it affects my breathing more than the lower ribs do.
I feel the pain pretty much every day, but the morning and night are typically fine and it worsens during the day, often when I sit down and study. It usually hurts for a few hours, then it calms down and comes back later. Deep breathing does not hurt for me, which I think is weird because everyone I've read about has had trouble deep breathing. Same thing with sleep, it has barely ever affected me. The biggest thing for me is to sit down, which I have to do in school for hours making it impossible for me to concentrate. Also bringing my hand in front of me for some seconds tends to trigger it. Another thing I’ve noticed is that anything that touches the chest triggers the pain. Even a super gentle touch from a Thsirt makes it worse. For that reason, I prefer being without T-shirt when I’m at home.
What I've tried
I did contact another doctor a few months ago. He did blood work to rule out any underlying disease but It came out normal. I was worried I had an underlying issue as I've had knee problems (pretty sure it was Osgood–Schlatter disease or something similar), tennis elbow, and some other joint problems prior to Costo. The doctor, just like the first one, also told me to take NSAIDs and it should go away within a few months. I was in contact with a physical therapist that only told me the basics that I already know, like stretches that I already do such as door stretch and thoracic rotations.
I use the backpod daily, and for the past 2 months I haven't used pillows for support and the backpod seems to get more comfortable with time. I take multiple anti-inflammatory supplements like turmeric, ginger, etc vitamin D3, and omega 3. I have recently changed my sleeping posture and started to sleep on my back, instead of my side and I also removed the top mattress as I've heard a firmer bed is superior to Costo. I also have a pillow under my legs. I use a sauna and foam roller regularly and I bought an adjustable desk so I stand more and sit less and with better posture. I still go to the gym regularly and train back legs, arms, and lateral raises. I usually have no pain when I'm in the gym. I'm not sure why, but I think that as long as I am moving around and not raising my arms up in front of me or doing any chest exercises, I'm doing fine. Pain is almost always the worst when I’m in school and I'm sitting, and when I go to the gym it usually improves, at least temporarily. One thing that is also helping temporarily is Voltaren Gel (diclofenac gel), the only NSAID that works, however, I’m worried about using it too much as I did get ulcers from Ibuprofen pills when I just got diagnosed.
During these 6 months, I lost all hope for modern medicine and all doctors seem extremely uneducated on treating Costochondritis. Therefore I’ve gotten a lot of questions unanswered I’m hoping you can help me with answers. I would be very grateful if you could answer as many of these questions as possible.
The cause of costochondritis
Treating costochondritis
After treating costochondritis
Thanks for reading through all of this, I hope everyone has a full recovery!
submitted by Simp4Bob to costochondritis [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 16:00 Haunted_Marie13 IC or OAB? Or residual skin condition? 30F.

Long story short, I had a UTI 6 months ago; took antibiotics which caused a YI, used monistat and got chemical burns from it. Burned my whole inner vulvar area (inner labia minora, vaginal opening, vagina and urethra). The pain was 12/10 awful and I was pretty sure I had vulvodynia for life at that point. However 3 months ago the persistent vaginal/vestibule burning stopped and I’ve been pain free from that for two months with no sign of it returning (thank goodness) but I now am left experiencing urinary urgency, no frequency unless I drink a ton of liquids in a day, burning after urination that comes and goes, and occasional urinary incontinence. No pelvic or bladder pain though. Just urgency, some incontinence and urethral burning/pinching.
When the skin reaction occurred, my urethra burned 25/8 and I felt like I had to pee every 5 minutes and it spasmed constantly. Over time it has lessened and now I only experience sudden urgency when my bladder is full and random burning after urination. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it either. However it does spasm and hurt after a long bout of sitting I’ve noticed but not always.
I’m currently trying to figure out if a bad skin reaction to a topical medication could cause IC/OAB or if my urethra is just burnt still/has tissue damage and my residual PFD is contributing to urgency after months of my muscles guarding from the pain I was in for those three months of straight fire vagina.
Any advice/thoughts would be helpful. I am going to pt (3 sessions in so far) and my urologist is leaning towards OAB but isn’t sure yet. I also have tailbone pain which is being resolved in pt if that helps at all.
submitted by Haunted_Marie13 to Interstitialcystitis [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:58 Additional-Shirt-591 Corticoid free routine that works for me !

Hello guys,
I have been struggling with eczema around my mouth, eyes and on my forehead for a few months. My dermatologist prescribed a steroid cream (everyday, then every other day, then twice a week, then once a week before stopping) and a moisturizer with 15% glycerol, 2% liquid paraffin and 8% vaseline (dexeryl). It did help but the eczema came back when I discontinued use of the steroid cream. The idea that I might need to use cortisone my entire life completely freaked me out (this reaction was probably caused by a bit of ignorance), so I decided to try to heal my skin by moisturizing it well and using soothing / anti inflammatory products. It was better than nothing but my skin was still tight in comparison to how it felt when I was using steroids + it was still peeling. The combination that worked the best during this extreme moisturizing journey was :
- Dexeryl
- shea butter
- vaseline
Even with this routine, I would have to reapply shea butter and vaseline during the day on my eczema patches because they were peeling, matte and tight.
A week ago, I started using the La Roche Posay Lipikar MED, mostly because it is sold as a medical dispositive (and not just a moisturizer for atopic skin) and as an alternative to topical steroids. Well, in 3 days, my eczema cleared up. No more peeling, no more patches. My skin is still dry but not *eczema dry* anymore. I have hypopigmentation where my patches used to be, which sucks but is the ultimate sign that my skin is healing. Here is my current routine :
- Regimen lab wave serum. I got it because the brand offers a set of this product and their C.R.E.A.M that I was dying to try. It doesn't irritate my skin. I don't see a noticeable plumping effect but it contains nice hydrating, soothing and barrier supporting ingredients.
- La Roche Posay Lipikar MED. Really the star of the show. It contains Endibioma which is a proprietary bacteriophage that equilibrates the skin's microbiome by reducing the amount of inflammatory staphylococcus aureus. The microbiome of healthy skin is comprised of around 10% of this bacteria. This number can go up to 90% on eczema skin. Endobioma kills 99% of staphylococcus aureus in an hour but leaves the other bacterias, the good ones, untouched. It works really well for me and I love how smart and healthy the mode of action is. Source (in french) : https://www.lequotidiendupharmacien.fdes-mangeurs-de-bacteries-pour-traiter-leczema I was able to read this article by taking a picture before the thing that asks you to connect to the website came lol. The product comes in an airless pump and has to be kept in the fridge. It also contains glycerin, vaseline and liquid paraffin but I feel like it just isn't moisturizing enough for my face. Still note that when I started using it, I was using it by itself and even though my skin didn't feel moisturized enough, the eczema was still healing.
- Regimen Lab C.R.E.A.M. It contains ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids at a ratio that has apparently been proven to be ideal to repair the skin barrier. It also contains tons of soothing ingredients, including 5% dexpanthenol, which is the active ingredient in the bepanthen pommade. It also contains palmitamide MEA which is supposed to teach the skin barrier to repair itself. I really wanted to try it out because of the impressive ingredients list that kind of soothes my FOMO when it comes to ingredients that can help my condition. It is nice and I will keep using it.
- Bioderma atoderm intensive balm around my eyes. The C.R.E.A.M burns the skin around my eyes, which is weird because it feels gentle everywhere else on my face, including around and on my lips. This product also contains palmitamide MEA, ceramides and cholesterol. On top of that is contains glycerin and various sugars to soothe and hydrate, sunflower seed oil, canola oil and caprylic/capric triglyceride as emollients, liquid paraffin as an occlusive, and zinc to soothe. The reason why I use this product and not the one from the same line that is specifically meant to be used around the eyes is that the Atoderm intensive eye doesn't contain palmitamide MEA.
- Vaseline because the 2 moisturizers aren't enough lol. I would love to find a non greasy heady duty occlusive for the morning. I was thinking about a silicone gel. I still think that I will keep using a thin layer of vaseline for at least a few weeks and try alternatives later. I am open to recommandation !
- For sun protection, I have tried the SVR cicavit+ SPF 50+ which is the only product I have found in French pharmacy that doesn't contain alcohol or fragrance, isn't too heavy and has no white cast while containing non irritating chemical filters. It still irritates my under eyes and the skin around my lips. I've read tons of sunscreen reviews and my next trial is going to be the Dr G R.E.D Blemish soothing up sun SPF 50+ PA++++ because it seems to meet all my criterias and contains soothing ingredients. I am open to recommandations for this category too !
I know that a week isn't that much and that my eczema might come back but the Lipikar MED has given me such relief and I am faithful that things will keep getting better. I have read reviews of people who have tried the same product but seen no result so like everything, it doesn't work for everyone but I couldn't keep my positive experience to myself.
Good luck guys !
submitted by Additional-Shirt-591 to eczema [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:50 AnUnknownEarther "The Harvest Festival: A Deadly Warning"

The small town of Millfield had always been a quiet place, but every year, something strange would happen. A festival would take place, and no one knew what it was for or why it happened. But every year, the residents of Millfield would prepare for it, and outsiders would flock to the town to witness the strange rituals.
Wendy, Sam, and Jenna, a group of friends, decided to attend the festival. They had heard about it for years and were curious to see what all the fuss was about. They arrived in Millfield just before midnight, and the town was already buzzing with excitement.
As they walked through the streets, they noticed that everyone was staring at them. They felt uneasy, but they shrugged it off and continued exploring. They saw strange rituals taking place in the town square, with the townspeople chanting and dancing around a bonfire. They saw odd symbols etched into the walls of the buildings, and they noticed that the decorations seemed to move and shift on their own.
As the night went on, the friends began to feel more and more uneasy. They had thought they were safe, but they started to realize that something was very wrong. They tried to leave, but they found that the town had become a maze, with the streets leading them in circles.
Finally, as the sun began to rise, they found themselves back in the town square. The bonfire was still burning, and the townspeople were still chanting. Wendy, Sam, and Jenna tried to blend in, but they knew they didn't belong.
Suddenly, the chanting stopped, and the townspeople turned to face the three friends. They realized that they had been found out and tried to run, but it was too late. The townspeople had been waiting for outsiders to arrive, and they had been preparing for this moment for years.
Wendy, Sam, and Jenna were surrounded, and they knew they were in trouble. The townspeople began to close in on them, with strange weapons in their hands. They realized that they were about to become part of the festival, in a way they could never have imagined.
As the sun rose, the festival ended, and the residents of Millfield went back to their normal lives. But Wendy, Sam, and Jenna were gone, and no one ever heard from them again.
The festival continued every year, with new outsiders arriving to witness the strange rituals. But the residents of Millfield knew the truth. They knew that the festival was not just a celebration, but a warning. And they knew that the outsiders who dared to attend would never leave the town alive.
submitted by AnUnknownEarther to Horror_stories [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:29 ThatGuyBob0101 Life of a Predator Part 60 - Start the Countdown

Not my best chapter, but I needed to get past this part.
As always, credit to u/SpacePaladin15 for the original story, and this is an alternate universe from The Nature of Predators. Also, links to every other TNoP fanstory, as usual.
The Nature of Predators Literary Universe
First Previous
Sovlin hesitated. Assault squads one through six had all gone dark. Half of his men weren't responding. And aside from the feeds that Okex had been intercepting, which the krakotl claimed had just been staring at a storage closet for the past few minutes now, Sovlin had no information on why. The only hint they had gotten was the sound of some of his soldiers screaming from the storage closet. Maybe he could-
"Sir?" a sulean interrupted him. "Team Seven just went dark in sector A12. Whatever it is, it's cutting through us, and none of our men can stop it." He cursed.
"... These goddamn monsters…" He knew a lot of the men in those squads, and he knew all of the team leaders personally. At least Recel and Okex were okay. But beyond that… How many good men had died here already?
"... Call a full retreat."
"Sir?" the sulean questioned.
"We can't fight this. Whatever it is… we're gonna need a bigger gun for it. Hold a perimeter around the place, and pray that it doesn't get any ideas about going outside. I'll call in a Devastator class." The sulean recoiled in shock, but nodded his understanding and trotted off. This colony was the source of half of the deuterium for the entire Federation's military. An infestation like this needed to be dealt with… Sovlin just hoped he could finish the job this time.
Ajax noted the movements of the aliens through the cameras. They were falling back. Good. That meant no more human deaths today. But it also meant that they'd be regrouping. He'd need to get his people ready, and fast. With a thought, Ajax made the speakers blare to life.
"Everyone, we're leaving. We have enough deuterium to jump out of here. I know this has been a long, and scary day for all of us, but I need all hands on deck, here. This ship needs to be ready yesterday."
He powered up the reactors remotely, letting the engineers adjust the power output and parameters, while the navigation team hustled about nervously. Some of them were more nervous than others. Ajax voiced a dozen minor adjustments to his crew, watching them all get to work despite the shellshock. His view flipped from camera to camera, until he spotted… them. The aliens. Emma's adopted pets.
Part of him wanted to just vent them and be done with it. She was already gone. But they could still be of some use. And he would endure the sight of them… if only to honor what Emma would have wanted.
Ajax cursed to himself in the confines of his microservers. God damnit!!! He should have known that Emma was going to charge back into the fighting! She had run from threats before, and all it had ever gotten her was burned and broken! People tended to recognize patterns like that, and Emma wasn't a fucking exception.
And now… his stupidity had cost her her life. The least he could do was pay her back by not killing her pets. But… speaking of the aliens… There was one of them that he still needed to talk to. Now.
He sent his body down the halls, feeling the thrusters of the ship thrum to life, ready to go at a moment's notice. The remaining systems his people needed to calibrate were the weapons and the inertia dampeners. And the last thing he needed was a nosy kolshian while that was going on. Ajax yanked the door open, startling Buise, who was with his adopted siblings in a small, tucked-off bathroom.
"... Buise. You and I need to talk. Privately." The kolshian looked to his brothers hesitantly, anxiously stepping forward. He looked back at the pair of concerned venlil with slight sorrow before continuing with Ajax. Buise and the AI made their way through the halls until Ajax was certain they were out of earshot.
"... What the hell was that, Buise?" Ajax said in a calm, but threatening tone. The kolshian flinched slightly.
"I- I'm sorry-"
"You're one of the best programmers I've seen, even from back on Earth, and you thought it was a good idea to fuck with the camera system?" Ajax interrogated.
"I- I was lost, and I had to get Umo-"
"Emma's gone," the AI stated plainly, stopping whatever excuse that Buise planned to muster.
"... Wh-... What?" he asked under his breath.
"I couldn't locate her, because you were busy fucking up my entire security system. I couldn't save Evus, because you blocked me off." Ajax watched Buise as he halted, staring into nothingness, wide-eyed with shock.
"I-... I- I didn't…"
"You didn't WHAT? You didn't MEAN to get Emma killed???" he roared hatefully. "You didn't MEAN to sabotage me, I'm sure, but guess fucking what, Buise, you did." Tears formed at the edge of the kolshian's vision.
"... Just go tell Hemie and Reagel what happened," Ajax ordered, "And get out of my sight."
Recel cursed to himself. Damnit! There had to be something he could do! It had been months since he had been demoted, due to his 'lack of results', and a foolish part of him hoped that he had done all he could or ever would for the humans. But, of course, he was included in the assault on their one remaining safe-haven. And now, he was transporting another innocent creature away to be interrogated…
How the hell could he pull this off??? He couldn't free this Emma kid alone! Unless-... Maybe… Maybe if I'm not alone... He hesitated. There might not be any going back after he did this. But… the alternative was leaving Emma to die in a cell somewhere…
Recel anxiously warbled as he began to record a message.
submitted by ThatGuyBob0101 to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:25 WickedGangBelow March topster in no particular order. Thoughts and suggestions? :)

March topster in no particular order. Thoughts and suggestions? :) submitted by WickedGangBelow to Topster [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:23 Proof-Astronaut-574 Solar Radiation and Wire Fencing

There was a debate in a garden group about using wire fencing for a trellis. Some argued that it would become excessively hot in the summer and burn the vegetation. I notice that normal galvanized fencing does not heat up substantially. My question: what are the physical laws that control how solar heat is absorbed and dispersed in steel wire fencing?
submitted by Proof-Astronaut-574 to Physics [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:14 SmithOfLie Thunderstorm over Temeria (homebrew campaign) first session recap as Imperial Intelligence report.

It became a bit of a tradition in my group for me to write down a recap of the events after the session, as a reference for the future. Having just moved from a different system and starting a new campaign in the Witcher I decided to have a little fun with creative writing and do it with a framing device of a report of Nilfgaardian intelligence written well after the events took place. I don't know if there's any interest in this kind of content but since "Story from The Path" is a thing I decided to share it here, maybe someone will enjoy it.

Imperial Capital, 24.06.127X
For the eyes of Lord Vattier de Rideaux
As per Your orders I have investigated the events of the 1272 campaign and specifically the part that the persons of Jean Loze, Llawn Chwpanau and Thorkell Barrowborn played in them. The following reconstruction of the events is based on the compilation of the reports, both from agents in the field at the time and from the Army Group East under command of General Voorhis, amended whenever possible with original sources and witness statements.
Personal details of the subjects of this report are included in the dossiers attached, summary as follows:
Thorkell Barrowborn, Witcher, age unknown but earliest found reports suggest him being active as early as 1195; origins unknown, styles himself as coming from Lan Exter.
Jean Loze, mage, age 54, Toussaint, wanted for abandoning assigned duties in Imperial Service.
Llawn Chwpanau, halfling, bard, age 30, Nazair, escaped the sentence of indentured servitude issued against Chwpanau family for heresy.
To the best of our estimates the first meeting of the above mentioned persons happened sometime around the middle of April 1272 alongside the opening moves of General Voorhis offence. Large numbers of civilians from the region of Angren were moving North at the time, pushed by the frontline established by the 4th Maecht Division. Loze, Chwpanau and Barrowborn became part of that exodus and have encamped with the same group of fleeing peasants somewhere to the North from Pass of Klamat.
It was then that a squad of the irregulars stumbled upon the refugees. They were one of the groups under command of Colonel var Leuvenhoek, whose division was moving towards Maribor and securing the crossings of River Ina at the time. Irregulars were deployed on the Eastern shore of Ina to secure the flank of the advancing division and distract the Nordling forces. The group that unwittingly led to the formation of the Barrowborn’s Hanza was led by the man known as Zdravko. Attached is his full criminal file, before amnesty for volunteers he have been awaiting execution for the following crimes: murder, armed robbery of citizens, imperial banks and courier offices, rape, the theft of sacred objects, arson in a state prison, perjury, bigamy, deserting his wife and children, inciting prostitution, kidnapping, extortion, receiving stolen goods, selling stolen goods, passing counterfeit money, and using marked cards.
The fact that the Zdravko’s group did not report from their deployment was not considered unusual at the time, according to the reports anywhere between third and a half of irregulars end up deserting and taking up banditry, it is a criticism of the doctrine but at the time it was considered an acceptable rate given that their activities would take part mostly in the territory under Nordling control. Their fate was discovered later when the advancing forces found their remains.
Report by the scout Zephras Lun indicates that Zdravko’s group was defeated and killed in combat with the wounds suggesting at least three different assailants. Of particular note were wounds that appeared to have been dealt with thrown weapons used with deadly precision. Zdravko himself was an exception, as he was apparently taken alive and later executed by hanging.
Witnesses of the event were interviewed at the later date, their testimony revealing the details of what happened. In particular the testimony of one Niemir sheds light on the incident, the relevant excerpt quoted below.
Interviewing Agent: So what happened when you stopped for the night?Niemir: Them Black Ones showed up from the woods, ploughing bandits one and all. [Spits on the ground.] How’s that the gods have not punished them, I just don’t understand.
Interviewing Agent: True! So what did they do?
Niemir: What do you think? They were going to rob us, I could see that in their eyes. And the looks they were sending my Mira. But one of them noticed that girl that tagged along with us, and said something about her fitting the description. The girl was fitting, true, but not that fitting. But as long as they were not eying my Mira.
Interviewing Agent: So, they tried to sully her?
Niemir: They killed the matron who was with the girl and tried to grab her, but they did not get much far after that. She starts screaming “Help! Help! I can pay!” I thought she’s screaming in vain, who’s going to risk their skin against such bandits? But I was wrong.
Interviewing Agent: Someone did help her? Unbelievable.
Niemir: There were three of them. One stood up and shouted they should leave her alone. He was a middle aged man, and didn't look like much. They turn on him and say “Don’t push your nose where it does not belong or you might lose it.” but he does not back down. So then the butchery starts. There was this little lady there, no taller than my seven year old daughter. She walked up, swung her hand and one of them bandits starts screaming, blood gushing from his forehead. I have never seen anything like it. Some of the Black Ones started shooting at that, some moved on the two of them with the swords. And then the other one showed up. A Witcher he was, large like a bear, stepped to one of the Black Ones and just opened him like a side of pork. Just like a side of pork. [Shudders visibly.]
Interviewing Agent: What happened next?
Niemir: The three of them, the Witcher, the little lady and that mouthy man killed all of them Black Ones.
Interviewing Agents: Just like that?Niemir: Well, the leader of them Black Ones, a bearded bastard, he drops his weapons and calls for pardon. The knightly man, the first to speak up, accepts it. But in the end we strung the bastard up. The Black One that is, not the knightly one.
Further investigation into the matter revealed that the girl introduced herself to the group that saved her as Anna Vomanor, daughter of Baron Vomanor. The Vomanor estate was at the time already under Imperial control. She speculated that the Nilfgaardian army is searching for her to use her as the hostage to secure the baron's cooperation. Given the location and timing as well as the fact that the description has been distributed among the Irregulars there is little doubt that the whole affair was part of the Operation Scripture. As such the detailed report on the other aspects of the operation, including further identification of persons of interest is attached, while this analysis will focus on the action’s of Barrowborn’s Hanza.
The hanza itself apparently formed the next day when the rescued girl hired Thorkell Barrowborn, Jean Loze and Llawn Chwpanau to escort her to Vizima, where associates of her father could pay for the service rendered. According to the interviewed witnesses the group left together, moving North by the trails in Mahakam foothills. Not being burdened by heavy luggage the Hanza quickly left the refugees from the camp behind.
The next confirmed evidence of their course comes from rather unexpected sources. The following is the text of a barely legible note found in an abandoned shepherd shed on a mountain meadow. Spelling and grammar original.
I new we shood ave anged dem elven bitch and er whoreson. But no som plowing skondrels show up and ask “Ave you eveedense?” Wot plowing eveedense I need? Dem’s be elfen skum? So we ang em. But that girl and er frends, bloody scary bastards both. I bet she bewitchered us with er clever words, dats why me and boys loosent our resolution! May the gods sent pox on the plowing girls and er disgusting lovers.
Despite the poor command of language it seems obvious that the hanza stumbled upon a lynching in progress and prevented it from happening. Remarkably it seems that the situation was resolved without bloodshed, which if the notes is to be believed should be in large part credited to Chwpanau’s oratory skills.
The route the hanza took suggests that they decided that southern crossing points of Ina might already be in Imperial hands and that the safer choice would be the ford at Ewes Crossing. Ewes Crossing being a modest village, set on the route used by shepherds taking their flocks to the mountain meadows for summer grazing and then back towards Temeria proper for winter.
At the time, according to the later findings, the village became a rendezvous point for numerous groups of refugees from Angren, looking for a way North, away from the frontlines. Despite the radical circumstances the gathering remained well ordered and organised. This seems to be mostly due to the efforts of one Maria Fenringher, a woman of strong convictions and some charisma, who became a de facto leader of the gathered masses. More detailed analysis of her activities is to be found in the report by the Political Affairs bureau as well as a copy of a pamphlet distributed by so called “Commoners Cooperative Chapter of Temeria”, both attached.
As far as the hanza’s dealings with the Ewes Crossing leadership went it seems that they managed to work out an agreement. The details on the events are sparse, but in accordance to Fenringher’s ideas anyone could partake in community facilities and supplies as long as they provided some kind of beneficial service. With no evidence of the hanza being turned away we must assume that the group agreed to provide such a service and received hospitality in return.
Given the information on the hanza members it is highly probable that at least part of their contribution would come from Chwpanau’s performance. She was already starting to gain a reputation as a bard, interestingly her instrument of choice being an accordion.
The following excerpt allows us to reason out what other contributions the hanza made.
Location: Eastern Temeria, about an hour away from the ford on Ina along the road to Burdoff.
Site description: A mass grave, dug with the use of hand tools, pretty shallow, not covered, about 8 meters by 4 meters; the insides showing signs of the burning fire [...]
Site findings: Partially burned remains of at least 6 humans, possibly up to 12, the following body parts have been catalogued: [...]; heavily damaged remains of 6 ghouls, despite fire damage it is possible to discern that at least three have been killed by brutal, heavy cuts of an extremely sharp blade, notably two of the cadavers bear discernable signs of previous fire damage prior to being burned (see, the comparison of tissue samples fig. 3 and fig. 4) consistent with the effects of combat magic. [...] Regarding the inquiries to the nature of combat magic used, the type of wounds inflicted speaks against assumption that it was one of the Witcher signs. Those simple spells, while not without their use, do not focus the magical energies in the way implied by the provided samples.
Marcos Crauser, University of Loc Grim forensics department
The location of an exterminated ghoul’s nest lies at the most direct route North from Ewes Crossing and as such it could be considered a risk for the refugee column. Given the numbers estimated six ghouls were no danger to the safety of the whole, but predation on stragglers or children could not have been excluded. It is therefore a highly probable assumption that Thorkell Barrowborn was contracted in his capacity as a Witcher to resolve the issue.
The evidence of the use of advanced combat magic suggests that Loze took part in the combat. It is also the first unambiguous proof of his use of spellcasting in the service of hanza’s mission. It is unclear which members of the group knew of his magical talent by this point. One can assume that Barrowborn might have become aware of them through the workings of his Witcher amulet, but whether Chwpanau and their charge knew of them at this time remains unclear.
submitted by SmithOfLie to WitcherTRPG [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:13 Redundant-Honse NOP Crack - Collared Citizen - 5

Rescue Hospital, Venlil Prime
A small amount of rescues have been released at this point.
——— ———
The day had come. I was going to see my ‘family’ again soon.
The designated room was similar to the office I’ve been to prior, save for the bag-chairs being replaced for couches. I now noticed that the room seemed horribly small, confined in all the wrong ways. It was really a small room. With one door. And no windows.
My minder was in the room with me and making encouraging gestures with his tail - it didn’t help in the slightest.
“It’s good that you are nervous about this, Fori. You have to let these emotions out, it’ll be good for you.”
If I let the emotions I want out you’d have to pull me off a Venlil. And I’d fail the mission.
“It’s the home stretch now, you’ll be released and reintegrated into the Venlil Republic in no-time!”
Okay, that was reassuring. It made me feel better about the situation, ever so slightly. This was the last step. The last hurdle. I’ve suffered and dealt worse, this should be nothing.
Keep up the happy tail, flick your ears at appropriate moments, and you’ll never have to see them again.
I caught my paws grasping at my neck, bare and missing the comforting weight of the collar. I suddenly felt naked. Vulnerable. Maybe I could conduct better research from within the hospital, after all?
No! I could do this! This was nothin-
The door opened with a click. A light grey paw gently wrapped itself around around the edge before pushing forwards. The door was all but shoved open as the three of them slowly walked into the room. My mother was first, stopping dead once she laid her eyes on me and having to be nudged forward. By my father. The darker Venlil’s eyes widened at my sight and his paws sought out my mother’s shoulders, resting on them as they shuffled off to sit on the couch opposite me. Then came my sister. She was light, the same shade as me. Bigger than when I last saw her, almost my size now - her eyes were glistening with moisture.
My paws dug into the couch behind me as I forced my ears to perk up. Tears welled up unprompted.
“Mum... dad... Pesti, it’s been so long.” I forced the words out of a coiled throat.
This is for the mission.
——— ———
Meadows Bounty market square, Venlil Prime.
Four years ago.

“Young lady, just where do you think you are going?”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Drat! I turned around to see mum standing in the doorway with her paws on her hips. “Just going out to see the stalls, mum. Maybe see if Miss Varnel has some more of that fruit juice of hers.”
Shes not going to buy it.
“I’m not buying it. Come on Fori, can’t you help out your family a little before you go off to that college? Everyone loves your displays...”
Oh... yeah I did feel kinda guilty about that. More, now that she mentioned it. My friends would still be there when I actually arrived at the college so there wasn’t really any need to spend the day with them today, no need to make mum worry. “Fine. What do you need me to do?”
Mum instantly brightened up. “Wonderful! Why don’t you bring some of your namesake up to the windows? It’ll look good in this light.”
And it would, too. I could put it down besides the purple flower and it’d mesh wonderfully.
——— ———
Nobody spoke for a while now. That was good - I didn’t want to speak with them, but the session would have been a waste if we stalled.
We had to make progress, after all.
“How are things at the flower shop? Is the market square still a thing?”
The three of them looked pained at that question, exchanging glances in some sort of silent communication I couldn’t decipher.
Eventually, it was my younger sister who spoke up.
“The shops gone, Fori.”
The shop... was gone?
“We just couldn’t run it after- afterwards.” My mother forced out the words as if it was difficult. “We never bothered fixing it up. There’s a lovely memorial there, now.” Her ears perked up. “Guess we can cross your name off it now!”
There. That’s good. Just get them talking about Meadows Bounty, catch me up on all the things I missed as if I cared in the slightest.
——— ———
“Can I suggest my namesake, Mr Gafen? The yellow is most pleasing!”
The boy blushed orange at my overly polite speech, and turned oranger still as he mumbled out an affirmative. I carefully readied a bouquet for him and passed it over.
“That’d be twenty credits.” I leaned in. “Five, if you tell me how it goes afterwards.”
“I-I don’t kiss and tell!”
Kiss!?” I lurch backwards in mock surprise. “Already kissing girls, Gafen? Before marriage? You scallywag, you scum! At your age too...”
“We’re the same age!”
“You sure? Cause you’re blushing like a schoolboy.”
“Wha- fuck you, Fori!”
I burst out laughing at that, steadying myself on the counter. “You ain’t my type, Gaf. Besides, what would your girlfriend say?”
Ha! “Yeah whatever, see you on Aafa!”
——— ———
Somehow, my younger sister found herself sitting besides me. I flinched at her touch despite myself. Idiot, you took actual blows without flinching! She obviously lurched back at that reaction and I forced myself to coax her into a hug. She nuzzled into my side. I had to stop myself from tearing into her.
“We- we... we thought you were gone!”
What’s up with her voic- she’s crying!
My wool!
Awkwardly, I started patting her on the back. She sobbed into me.
The room was quiet. Everyone was staring at me. I was expected to do something right now, wasn’t I?
“There, Pesti. I’m here now, aren’t I?”
She nodded into me.
“Come on. You’re a big girl now, you’re stronger than this. Cheer up.”
She wouldn’t have lasted a week in the farm.
She wasn’t budging. I turned to mother for guidance only to find her mimicking her actions with father. At least he wasn’t bawling for no reason. It was a pathetic display that caused my blood to boil. Why are they crying? What right do they have?
——— ———
The floor plants were stubbornly refusing to fit. It was paradoxical - I did this every day, and every day I eventually got all of them to fit so why do they never fit first try? With more force than was necessary, I shoved the pot holding my namesake forwards. The pot scraped against its neighbours but it did nicely fit into the middle and make the floor look nicer.
Yellow in the middle, purple on either side, and black on the edges.
“Hey mom, is there anything else for the floor today?”
Some general noises of busywork echoed out of the back room before mum’s head popped out around the doorframe. “It looks good, Fori! The pots behind you are uneven though, fix them up?”
Wordlessly I turned around and got to shoving the pots into position. Nobody really looked at the floor since all the flowers and plants we sold were on eye-level, but it was important to keep the store looking loved. Arranging pots was the least I could do.
Mum was right, I could spend this one last day with the family.
The second the mechanical shriek pierced my ears, my blood froze within my veins. Everyone knew that shrill sound. The Arxur were here. Why were the Arxur here - where was the Space Corps!?
Why wasn’t I moving!?
A loud bang from the back room got my attention and I snapped my focus to it. Dad barrelled out, scuffing his shoulder on the doorframe, and leapt over the counter before continuing onwards towards the door. Numb, a worry flickered through my mind at the potential damage he had done to his should-
Suddenly I was thrown to the floor. I was in the doorway. Dad’s knee clipped me and sent me sprawling across the floor.
My head hurt, did I hit it on a pot?
Another bang caught my attention once again, this time it was mom. She made her exit with far more grace than dad did and swerved around the counter before sprinting towards me. I held up a paw for her to help me u-
The wind got knocked out of me. She stepped on my stomach.
My eyes watered from the pain. My head was pounding. I looked upwards - outside - mom and dad were gone.
Why were they gone, what about me? What about Pesti!? Where is my sist-
A snap broke through the alarm, filling my ears.
My leg burned.
Something heavy fell on me.
Pesti. Her eyes, wide, bore into my own as she searched for purchase against my wool. She found it. Her weight pressed into me with every step and kick she scrambled over me and out the door. She was gone by the time I managed to turn my head.
Why wasn’t I running? The alarm sounded so why wasn’t I running?
What’s wrong with me?
Why did they leave without me?
My head hurts...
——— ———
I had here in my arms. Tight. I could here her spine cracking as I increased the pressure. How does she like it-
“Not so t-tight, dear.”
I released my mother. She took a step backwards, swaying slightly.
My minder was saying something, speaking to my ‘family’. I wasn’t listening. This entire encounter was wrong, I wasn’t prepared for it. Nothing back on the farm had prepared me for seeing them - not like this. I was supposed to have a rifle in paws. I was supposed to kick down the front door alongside the Arxur. Not... not this!
But it was done. It was done.
They left, at some point. When I wasn’t paying attention.
My minder sat me back down on the couch. He asked if I was okay and I said I was, and thankfully he didn’t ask anything else on the topic.
Apparently he had something important to tell me about, regarding the ‘Gaians’.
This was good progress.
——— ———
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submitted by Redundant-Honse to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:11 Gel-is-fun-anally Beta has been hugely dissapointing

Go down to the bullet points if youre not interested in the context of my general opinion about Diablo as a franchise.
Tiny bit of context, i have been a diablo fan since around 1997. Played diablo 1, but as i was around the age of 6 or 7 when it was released i wouldnt say i fully grasped the game back then, but i remember being captivated by it. My real Diablo experience started with Diablo 2, which i have played on and off for around 22 years. Whenever i could get my schedule to line up with ladder start i made a character, i have been playing both softcore and hardcore, being a big player on D2JSP, min/maxing my chars, theorycrafting, extensively done more or less all content that the game has to offer both pvp and pve.
I played Diablo 3 for a period, but overall the game isnt for me, and i simply dont enjoy it, didnt enjoy on release and didnt enjoy it as the game developed and got expansions and turned into the ''modern'' version of d3.
Im sadly hugely dissapointed in the beta, and while im aware its a beta, IMO it doesnt look very promising looking at the fact that the game will be released in 2 months. I could write multiple pages, but ill try to keep it short.
As has been said numerous times and something most people seem to agree on, is that the visual aswell as the sound presentation is great, i enjoy the graphics, i enjoy the way gear looks and so far ive enjoyed the music, even with some hiccups like wierd transitioning, and some areas and boss fights seem to be lacking a distinct personal musical theme.
Im okay with the graphics, besides some small issues, as has been said before and something Blizzard already mentioned will be looked into is stuff like necromancers skellies, which looked out of place with their d3 like style. Some skills lack personality and distinquishable animations. I popped back into d2r which overall doesnt have this issue. It might be because of my boomer eyes, but some skills in D4 looked muddy and when there were a lot of action didnt pop out really well.
There also were some visual design choices that dissapointed me like Frozen Orb, which just looks like a more boring version of the d2 version.
Now, unfortunately, thats where the pros stop for me.
My issues with the game is mostly focused on:
Mind you, that there simply isnt enough time until release for diablo 4 to change some of these fundamental issues, especially stuff like leveling scaling which IMO hurts the game tremendously!
Currently i think Diablo 4 is 4 or 5/10, and as it looks atm is setting out to become the worst diablo title of the main series. Diablo 3 burned me greatly, and Diablo 4 havent given me anything to get hyped about, i will definately not be buying this on release, but will await how the end game and overall game systems will be recieved. There is potential, but i think Diablo 4 needs at least a year of development more before it even gets close to being a good game.
submitted by Gel-is-fun-anally to diablo4 [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 15:04 Numerous_Honeydew940 Final Boil of 2023 - so many changes...

Final Boil of 2023 - so many changes...
Final boil for 2023 - 10 gallons of concentrate at 5ish brix
I started this year as I have been collecting and boiling over that last 3 years, buckets on a few backyard trees and boiling over a campfire. starting with 8 trees (6 red and 2 norway) and 8 taps, ending with 10 trees and 15 taps. I started in January and pulled my last tap on Thursday 3/23.
over the course of the season I added:
  • DIY barrel evaporator using a water pressure tank, but still using the same roasting pans to boil.
  • source for super dry heat treated off-cut wood from a shipping crate manufacturer (FREE), to suppliment the hardwood I cut and split by hand
  • new 24" x 18" x 6" flat panwith a draw off that almost looks like it was custom made for my barrel.
  • Small, 50 gpd RO system.
  • actual Syrup Hydrometer (instead of just going by temp measured with a digital probe thermometer
Projects for over the summer:
  • Improve the barrel burn area by blocking off the rear bottom corner, making a ramp to funnel the heated air under the pan more efficiently (I noticed after the first couple burns the rear bottom just stacks up with charcoal and doesn't seem to burn well anyway)
  • permanently adding a tuyere for the blower (pipe running the length of the burn box with holes drilled in the top to push the air straight up towards the pan). Right now the pipe is just sticking in under the door
  • adding a second 50 gpd RO membrane
  • rigging up a better preheater system, haven't decided on a copper coil around the stack or a pan over the back of the boil pan with a ball valve.
  • replace the galvi chimney with a black one and add a damper to help keep some heat in the barrel
  • I also bought more spiles and 50' of tubing and will try to mark some additional trees on the farm I hunt. which also probably means I'll need to pick up a couple 30 or 50 gallon barrels for storage of the additional sap (right now I'm storing in 5 gal buckets.)
submitted by Numerous_Honeydew940 to maplesyrup [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:55 Ok_Dinner8491 Nature of Hunters: a WOD/NoP Crossover [Part 1/3]

Memory Transcription Subject: Turvek, Venlil Monster Hunter
Standardized Human Time: 21st September 2194
Why am I currently holding my heavily injured Krakotl comrade in my arms at daybreak?
Oh. It's because said Krakotl, Jeldus had the bright idea to let a bunch of Vampires diablerise each other to see what would happen.
It all started when me, Jeldus, an Arxur named Shavon, Gojid named Nivdel, and our boss, a Human woman named Aubrey got several missing person's reports coming from a nearby cave system. We went inside and found several sleeping bags arranged in a rather sloppy manner. Shavon even commented on the display being no worse than Jeldus' room, in which a small argument ensued. Afterwards, Aubrey said we should split up with her reasoning that it would be spookier that way. We then split up with me, Aubrey and Jeldus going right as Shavon and Nivdel going left.
That's when things started going down hill. We heard screaming coming from Shavon and Nivdel's direction and we headed there only to find Nivdel being manhandled by a vampire and a catatonic Shavon getting his blood sucked by another leech. Jeldus pulled out his flame-thrower and burned the tick who was slurping from Shavon's neck, causing the other bloodsucker to drop Nivdel, in which he ran to Shavon. Shavon proceeded to shoot one of the bloodsuckers in the chest, after which I brandished my weapon and prompted Jeldus to light the area. He then threw a bundle of glow-sticks at the ground revealing four vampires, each of them from a different clan. The first one was a large, burly African American man who was from Clan Brujah, the second one was a Quasimodo looking motherfucker from Clan Nosferatu, the third one was an Asian supermodel girl from Clan Toreador, and lastly the fourth one was wearing a Cobra Commander style mask and was from Clan Ventrue. There was a brief exchange of words between us, up until Shavon shot one of the blanks.
Afterwards, there was a battle which resulted in our hard one victory. We then noticed Aubrey being held by the Ventrue at knife point. We were stopped in our track by the ticks use of the Vampiric discipline of Dominate. there was a brief exchange of words until he stabbed our boss and proceeded to take off his mask halfway to drink her blood. Unfortunately for the Blue Blood, it was blood of "low-class" causing him to puke. I then threw my weapon at him, knocking his mask right off of his head. Shavon and I grabbed our boss before she fell over. The vampire recovered, revealing himself to be none other than Sebastian LaCroix, Former Prince of Los Angeles. LaCroix then attempted to use Dominate again only for it to be countered by our combined incoherent screaming and wearing sunglasses. We then proceeded to stab the disgraced Prince with multiple stakes, sending him into torpor.
We then drove home with four murderous vampires, currently in torpor. So that we could interrogate them later on. I'll tell you the aftermath of this event on a later date.
submitted by Ok_Dinner8491 to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:52 Luxury_Dressingown How culpable do you think the average Crockett churchgoer is in the final events of the show?

I've seen a few different takes but a lot of people seem to strongly condemn the Crockett congregation. I wouldn't say they are blameless - far from it - but I'd give them a lot of grace for believing in their priest and even a fair bit for participating in the massacre.
Here's how I would defend them. These are the events of the show from the perspective of average Crockett Island practicing Christians:
They aren't blameless, and our heroes show the right course of action at every point. They probably should have interrogated a miracle more when Leeza walked, like Sarah wanted to do by running test. They could also have been more reflective on God and miracles, like Hassan. They should have been more concerned about Paul's dark Good Friday sermon, like Milly. They could have resisted the urge to kill once turned, like Annie and Ed. But Sarah, Hassan, Milly, Annie and Ed are unusually strong characters in certain key ways, and I wouldn't damn the average person for failing to live up to those high standards.
They are tricked and manipulated, and crucially, they quite literally turn to the light when they realise this and what they have become.
submitted by Luxury_Dressingown to MidnightMass [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:38 clad_95150 Power Supply doesn't work when connected to the additional P8 power connector of the motherboard.

Hello there,
I have a problem and just wanted to know if someone could explain to me what happened (to not do it again next time)
First my config :
Motherboard : Tuff gaming b550 - plus
Power Supply : STRAIGHT POWER 11 - 1000W Platinum
Proc : AMD Ryzen 3600
Ram : 32Gb DDR4 G.Skill Trident 3200CL16
Graphic card : 3080 Ti
All was good for some time, then a few weeks after changing my pc case (from a no-name to a PC-O11 Dynamic), my computer suddenly had two blue screen one after the other.
I tried to checks things, unplugged/plugged every connectors and I saw somewhere someone saying to check bios settings, I went there and put all setting to automatic (only one setting was changed, sadly I don't remember which one).
Thing is, after exiting the bios menu, my PC got quiet and didn't work anymore, pushing the power button didn't do anything at all apart for a clicking sound.
I did multiple tests and noticed that the problem comes from either the mother board or the power supply. => My mother board has two power connectors: The power supply works when it's connected to the 2x12pin (all the fans begin to works, the rams lights up) but when it's connected to the 2x12 AND the 2x4 connectors the power supply does a clicking sound and doesn't work (the fan doesn't rotate).
When I did the test the screens weren't plugged in, so I don't know if my PC can be used with just the 2x12 pin connected to the psu. (didn't wanted to try it too much).
There are no trace of burns on the mother board (I checked on the weldings near the P8 connector) and the resistors seems okay.
I think about buying another mother board to be safe but wanted to ask :
Thanks you for your help and have a good day.
submitted by clad_95150 to pchelp [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:36 th3frozenpriest Heroes in the Making - Chapter 16

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The entry to the tunnels that ran underground throughout Milagre was inconspicuous enough. In fact, if the priest hadn’t pointed it out to them, they likely wouldn’t have found it. Tucked behind an unassuming stall at the corner of the Market District was a stone wall. Not only was the wall part of the buildings of the Residential District beside it, but there was also a stone door, fitted so perfectly that they couldn’t even identify the seam.
“Normally, this is a closely guarded secret of our organization,” the follower of Atlas said, leaning heavily against the door so it pushed inward. “But you know what they say about desperate times.”
“Hold on,” Leonov said, stopping the man with one hand on his shoulder. “We should go first, to make sure there are no enemies waiting inside.”
“There won’t be any danger,” the man assured Leonov, sounding confident. “This safe house, and the tunnels connected to it, they’re all under the protection of Lord Atlas. You can’t get in unless a member is there to accept you.”
“It’s protected by Divine Magic?” Falynn asked, studying the door intently. She couldn’t spot any of the runery that was usually in place for blessed spaces like this. Maybe it was sewn into the stones themselves, she thought. “He must be stronger than I thought if he can cover an area so large.”
“He is our greatest protector,’ the priest said, his chest swelling with pride. “He is the firstborn of Bora Bora and once King of our country, you know.”
This was all known, of course, but they didn’t have time to discuss the matter further. Leonov simply pushed past the man, shouldering him roughly to the side with a sigh of impatience. Taiki followed, standing more than a head taller than the man and silent. This, combined with the hulking form she presented with her heavy armor, finally convinced the man to give up his protests. He stepped to the side and gave a small wave, inviting the others inside.
Falynn offered him a sympathetic smile, by now used to the impatient nature of her two party members. “Don’t worry, they’re just taking your protection seriously.”
That seemed to give him some small comfort, and he returned the druid girl’s smile if a bit hesitantly. The smile faded completely, however, when he met the stoic, uncaring neutral glare of Roni, who had resolutely held the rear. She gestured him inside, and, feeling like he’d been intimidated enough for one day, he stepped through the hole in the wall without comment. She slipped in after him, allowing the opening to seal behind her. The lack of sunlight from outside made the small space seem pitch-black for a moment, but her eyes adjusted quickly, and she could see several magic torches lining the wall of the room, providing just enough dim light to see.
The wall had led into a large open space that seemed to occupy the entire building in one floor. There was enough room to allow twenty people to sit comfortably, and indeed, many tables were scattered around, with chairs tucked against them. It seemed as though the place had just been abandoned. But the fireplace in the corner was cold and empty, even if the hearth had been swept clean.
“Very tidy for thieves,” Roni commented, which just seemed to annoy the man.
“We’re very organized,” he said, regaining just enough of a spine to glare at her. “We’re not highway or forest bandits. We take ourselves seriously, and we’re taken seriously.”
She met his gaze without the slightest change in expression, saying nothing. He gave a quiet sigh, choosing to drop the matter entirely. Instead, he made his way to the front of the group, gesturing at the stairs that led down and out of the room, the only other exit. “The tunnels are straight through here.”
“Right,” Leonov said. “Taiki and I will take the lead. Falynn, you stay in the middle, and Roni, you watch our back.”
The elven women nodded, and Leonov opened the door into the tunnels. Twenty feet in, Roni slid the bow over her shoulders, seeing that the tunnels were too small and twisting to make accurate shots possible. She drew her knife instead, casually flipping it in her hand as she occasionally glanced behind them. Some of the priests near her eyed the action nervously but didn’t bother to comment.
For nearly three hours, they wound their way through the tunnels without any sign of trouble, though their trepidation only got worse the further they went. One of the priests, made irritated by his mounting nerves, asked, “It takes two hours to walk from one end of the city to the other. How have we walked for three, and not found the exit?”
“The tunnels twist and turn,” the follower of Atlas explained. “It takes nearly twice as long, but it’s the safest route for us. We’re nearly out now, just be patient.”
It was as they rounded a corner and entered their first cavern, that they encountered something strange. This cavern, with half a dozen paths branching off to different parts of the tunnels, also had a large opening along one wall. Well, it was an opening, but it was also sealed by a massive stone wall. The only evidence that there was something more to it was a long line of faded runes. The runes, incredibly complex and of a language none of them could recognize, had been completely drained of mana.
“These weren’t disabled in a hurry,” Falynn said, moving closer to the massive stone barrier. She put a hand to it, but almost immediately pulled away as if the rock had burned her. “By the mother, that’s a lot of natural energy!”
“So it’s nothing evil?” One of the priests, a follower of Komag asked. For a follower of a god of war, he was remarkably timid.
“Nature is neither good nor evil,” Falynn said, staring intently at the stone in her way. “It’s just another form of life.”
“Say that to the natural disasters that can destroy entire towns,” the man grumbled, but just quiet enough that Falynn could pretend not to hear him. “If it’s sealed away, it’s probably for a good reason.”
“But it’s not sealed,” she pointed out. “The runes are dead. Now it’s just a big stone in the way.”
“Do you know what kind of runes they are?” Taiki asked. It wasn’t the first time she’d displayed an interest in magic. “If it’s natural, you probably recognize them, right?”
The druid girl bit her lip thoughtfully as she stared at her runes. Then she coated one hand in mana and dragged a thumb across her forehead. After another minute of silent consideration, she shook her head. “I don’t recognize the language, even with magic to assist me. That can only mean one thing.”
“Which is?”
Falynn rested a hand against the stone blockade once more. “It was Ancient Magic that sealed this off.”
That sent a shiver through the group. Even the least magic-literate among them knew that the Ancients were unmatched in power. To put it bluntly, they had no rivals, even in the modern world. The only thing that could undo the work of an Ancient, such as these runes, was another Ancient. The more studious among them knew that the Ancient tongue was a unique thing, known only by them. Even if you knew the words and their meaning, you couldn’t replicate the magic. It would just be words, without the power behind them.
Falynn had an intense look of longing in her eyes, as though she were considering removing the stone barrier to see what was on the other side. Taiki, the first to notice this, stepped forward to put one hand on her shoulder. “Perhaps we should leave it alone, Falynn. We don’t know what’s on the other side. It could be dangerous.”
“I know what’s in there,” the druid corrected, but she removed the hand that was touching the stone. “But you’re right. If it was guarded, there’s probably a good reason. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining a sacred place.”
So instead, she knelt down at the front of the door and put one hand on the floor. With just a touch, she shattered a small area of stone, turning it into the dirt. A second later, a small flower grew out of the new soil, bright and vibrant as if it had been growing there for weeks. With the small mote of light, she left hanging in the air above it, it was her version of a tribute to the power inside. It would continue to grow and flourish in this place, fueled by the large reservoir of natural energy that lingered nearby.
“There,” she said, standing with a smile and dusting off her knees. “Alright, let’s go then.”
The rest of the group, though not as personally drawn to the seal as she’d been, still showed great interest in it, and were reluctant to leave the cavern at first. But with the party to urge them on, they got moving again, and within the next ten minutes, they noticed the tunnel beginning to rise higher. The last few hundred yards were a steep climb, but they took it eagerly, relieved to finally be leaving the tunnels.
“Oh my,” one of the priests said, “Wait, don’t attack!”
“What’s going on, Leonov?” Falynn asked. Trapped in the center of the group, she couldn’t see the exit yet, so she didn’t know what was going on. Was it an enemy attack? “Is everything alright?”
“Let’s have all of you out of the tunnel,” a commanding voice said. “Spread out along the wall, and don’t move.”
One by one, the rest of the group filed out of the narrow tunnel entrance. Falynn hurried the people in front of her, eager to see what the situation was and to support her allies if it was going to get dangerous. But when she left the tunnel and her eyes adjusted to the mid-day light, she felt herself relaxing at once. There was a group of armed figures, yes, but they were the uniforms of the Royal Guard. There were also two figures in white robes, clearly Issho-Ni Masters.
“Why are you stopping us?” Taiki asked, taking a step closer to the group of armed figures. “We’re not your enemy.”
As she stepped forward, the foremost line of soldiers drew their weapons, brandishing them at her. They made no move to attack, but it was enough of a threat to make her stop, and stare at them incredulously. An awkward sort of silence filled the area. Taiki’s face slowly transformed from confusion to annoyance. Before it could completely change to anger, Leonov stepped forward himself, making sure he held his hands up in a gesture of surrender.
“It’s a fair question,” he said, looking to the leader of the men. “What is the purpose of this? We were part of the attacking force on the city.”
“We know you were,” one of the white-robed figures said. With a gesture, he had the soldiers lower their weapons, though they remained drawn. “But while you were inside, there was always the chance that you could have been possessed.. With us being so close to victory, we can’t take any chances of enemies escaping.”
“Victory?” Leonov repeated the word, his eyes wide. “With only three hundred? We took the city back?”
“That’s what we’ve been told,” the Issho-Ni Master said, smiling. “Apparently they teamed up to kill the Primeval, and after that, the rest of them fled.”
“Wow,” Falynn said, at a loss for words. “So that’s it, then? It’s over?”
“Well, the trouble with the Infernals is. But apparently, there are still a few big threats out there. But greater warriors than we are dealing with that. You might as well take the chance to rest and relax. We’ll have a mage over soon to verify that you’re not possessed.”
submitted by th3frozenpriest to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:26 Liquid_H My own fanfiction

I was browsing archives and found this alternative story written by Stalker-impressed younger me far in 2007. Thought you would enjoy:
New Game -> loading:

Nuclear blast … zooming out… whole world turning around into a sphere disappearing into (the void) nothing … black picture fading in to nerve cell with one slowly spiking ganglius, (very gray palitras) more spikes occur, more cells reactivating, zooming out from the hero’s brain till a half dead face is shown.
Very quick zoom in… (showing the hero’s memories):
First scene, dreamlike, bad tape color movie picture like, dreamlike sound : major Podkladowsky and a senior general in a well decorated KPSS like communist general’s office. The general has a blue Earth like orb on his shoulders on the place where the red stars should be:
The General: Damn this pest, damn this hell, my boy! (A knuckle blow at his desk) I’ve had enough, we all had enough of this war, of these zombies … (crazy laugh) … and those smartasses in the laboratory keep telling us this is ought to be an extraterrestrial life form. What a fucking irony – appearing from our graves, not from the stars. Someone made a very big mistake decades ago, my boy, and I’m afraid there is no turning back.

The hero: ready to do whatever it takes, sir.
The General: Right, right … there’s not much left to be done, my boy. We humans are already an extinct race. But a rabbies dog can bite can quite nasty, don’t you think … (crazy laughter again). So go and drop this fucking firework into the damn big wound at mother earth’s body … may God save her soul. Go! Go away and put an end to this madness! Conversation over!
Hero turns slowly again to the door, peeking over his shoulder at the half mad General. Door opens up:
The picture quality betters:
Sc-fi modern era big room, much of electronics everywhere, in the centre of the hall on a pedestal a shark like huge nuclear device – which warhead is being placed by two science assistants wearing the same blue earth sign on their shoulders. One of them an Asian always smiling.

The other one joking: Remember Tsar Bomba - 3% percent of sun’s energy released in milliseconds ... this baby here will make the sun look pale. What crazy idiots want to put that to use here … all of us will be fried chickens in a millisecond … whatever – looks like a better choice compared to these poor rotten bastards outside.
The asian smiles, than turns to the hero: Unfortunately no one has a better idea today than using the last tone of the uranium and heavy hydrogen supplies nowadays. Well … looks like an impressive end.
A voice comes from the heroes left side: an old man with a long beard and gentle wise look says: - Where one sees end some see beginning, some don’t see any change at all … and smiles.
The hero: - Wise words.
The Asian laughs, doesn’t seem to notice the old man at all: - Hehe, please don’t take my pessimism so sarcastic – you know better we are living in quite interesting times.
a 3dimensional projection appears on the right side – an Earth like orb, but the ocean water is black, the rest is not green but gray. Zooms right at the Ukraine, near Pripyat.
-This is our well known drop zone, but I believe we instruct someone to do that for the last time … there’s nothing left to throw at this Zone anymore, and the Zone itself is paling – intelligence say that all the land, structures and everything has disappeared at all and the surrounding lands are sucked in the place of the absent territory… like by a black hole. And some stupid individuals still moving on that rock think that with this thousand suns blast they can put it back… oooh don’t look me that way, I know I’m not supposed to say that, but let me tell you. The moment you lift off I’ll put a bullet in my head. This is my peaceful solution. Now get out, get on that bomber and do it! The rest left from the fight forces are instructed already to be your escort. Well, I’m happy that this all comes to an end, whatever doomed it may be.
The general turns his back, no one else wants to talk to the hero. He can walk around, but the only way he can go Is the next hangar where a SU-34 bomber is. Interacting option appears and he climbs into the cockpit. Meanwhile the only thing in the heroes backpack is a letter from his dead wife:

Privet, Petya
I know it isn’t easy for you being so far away from me. Believe me, I’m trying to convince myself everyday that where we are we are most helpful in this situation. Since the whole thing started … you know very well this is not a real life for anyone. You risk your life fighting this pest, I try to understand what’s going on from the science side. I think tomorrow I will be able to find out at least a little. Believe me if you want, but one of our last automatic psi detecting traps captured one of THEM! I’m so anxious to be in the team making the contact. There are many risks, I know, but with the new developed mind training methodology we are sure to succeed. Whatever happens, know I will be always around you, in your thoughts, in your mind – you know some of us became capable of little miracles…
I kiss you, looking forward seeing you.
Tvoya Masha

After climbing the already sitting co-pilot says over the radio:
- Ooo well look who’s coming: The fatalist! The crazy devil himself ready to sow destruction on his path and beyond. If someone told me years ago when you said once after gallon vodka that you’ll push the big red button you we’re right I would blame him mad for sure. Sit down my friend, time to fly all along the watchtower!
A lifting off related control tower chat, automated lift off, ground below gray, some fire, much smoke.
Flashes of battle all over, escort chat with other planes about a near happening dogfight. A strange black medusa like flying aircraft appears from the thick almost black rainy clouds, chased by some F-22s. Missiles launched – the strange creature falls down burning with a tone full of agony. On the crash with the surface the picture dims like from a psi attack.
Right after the F-22s more of the medusas appear – the hero takes control over the avionics and helps the other in a dynamic dogfight with the accordingly dynamic and stressful radio chat and music environment.
After the battle, in which the bombers takes unavoidably some damage and some relaxed relayed radio chat the following information is given directly to the SU-34 bomber. Lifting field is ours again, skies are clear!
The hero points the aircraft into a big bubble anomaly ahead, strange electronics sounds and unknown machinery activate while flying through the anomaly inside, looking pretty strange, completely black and lighted only by few lightings inside. A heavy acceleration, G effect and picture shutters, the aircraft launches itself vertically like a rocket above the clouds. A fascinating sight of the step up, beautiful shader sun effects and flares over the soft looking clouds. The aircraft takes almost ballistic trajectory – space entering effects (meteor burnings, absence of air, other engine noises). Shortly after a deep dive again where after the smog a reverse volcano shaped like surface is seen, with whole villages sucked in a funnel-like form, with creatures rising from the graveyards next to the churches, climbing trying to get away from the funnel.
Computer status reports announce taking a bomb drop trajectory, while a warning of malfunction in the bomb bay appears. The hero turns its chair and crawls to the bomb where he sees a hallucination of the old man effortly supporting the holding mechanism. The hallucination disappears and the hero takes the old man’s place. A short blast with pneumatic torn cables round and the hero finds himself falling next to the bomb into the void. Upon reaching the volcano’s filled with emptiness black center the dream slowly fades away with a white blast in front.
The hero wakes up in situation where the white blast appears again and again becoming reddish while a strange bloodsucker like creature hits him on the head with anger. It gets a shotgun shot in the head, dies with horrifying growl and the psi shock effect appears again:
- Damn, says someone next to the hero, I just can’t get used to their minds death. You’re alright? I saved your ass, you know? And you know the orders of the Zone – if someone saves your ass you must save his the next time or you become a mindless sucker like the one you’ve been just attacked by. Let’s move. No idea how you appeared here. Some say bloodsuckers bring newcomers here themselves … crazy idea, right? Whatever the reason, welcome to hell my friend! (crazy a general like laughter, in some sense the savior looks just like the general, only much younger) Let me bring you to Siderovich, he can deal you some stuff so you will be able to actually save my ass next time.
Loading screen showing the second page of the hero’s diary (first is the letter from Masha). Second page text:
Dead, alive? Where am I and do I exist, no idea! One thing I know I’m probably dead for anyone I knew...
submitted by Liquid_H to stalker [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:20 greg0525 I will never go back to the forest

It was early morning. Thick clouds were looming in the sky. It was a powdery grey with no hint of sun, so thick and pregnant with rain that it blackened the edges of everything. The clouds hung overhead, drifting slowly in and out of the trees, their shadows were thrown on the ground, swaying across the ground. Fish from the river nibbled at the bank, sampling the cool air. The thick leaves of huge trees formed an almost impassable barrier between the forest and the town. The air was full of moisture as damp leaves soaked up water from the ground and released it again in a cool mist that clung to everything it touched and left behind a scent that smelled like rain and new beginnings.
I had been running for almost an hour. Water splashed from the puddles that my feet pounded against them, darkening my pants and splattering mud onto my tracksuit. My shoes dug into the dirt and grass, which crunched beneath me, my breathing was heavy, and my heart was pounding in my chest. The cool air was like a gift, sent by God himself as I was sweating profusely. This was not how I pictured myself getting ready for my wedding to the love of my life. The running was only meant to help me lose weight, and yet, I found myself falling behind my ideal fitness level. Just when I thought I could go no farther, I could run no longer, I found myself at the end of the Black Rain forest, which was still a mile from my home. I leaned over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath. My lungs felt like they were on fire. The air smelled of green plants and animals and decomposed leaves. I breathed in deeply, feeling the weight of this morning pushing me along.
I checked my watch and got relieved that I had reached my goal and the 3 miles of running were done. I looked up at the sky. The clouds were darker and more threatening now. I did not care if I got soaking wet but at that point, I changed my mind and decided to cross the forest before it started raining. Catching a cold would not be a good idea before the wedding. I started walking towards the trees and turned onto a smaller dirt road that bordered the edge of the forest.
It was the same forest in which I had played as a child and watched birds build their nests and run around with my best friend Robert hiding from their parents. My aunt always complained about me wandering off into the woods and getting lost on occasion but by that time, I knew the forest very well. She told me that I was too old to be doing such things and I should be at home with her or out hunting with my uncle and cousins. I remembered watching the tall trees swallow my parents and sister when we ventured up past them to get the lumber I had stacked there earlier that week. Or, what gave me peasant memories were the picnics with my family. It was always me who was tasked with finding a nice meadow or clearing where we could settle down, set up the temporary table with chairs and have a nice meal.
I remember the sun, which was bright and warm and the grass smelled like my mother's freshly-baked bread. The sandwiches, covered in plastic and smelling like my mother's homemade soup, were a little taste of home, even if they were eaten far from it. I spent hours just sitting there, watching the dance of the creatures through the trees. All sorts of mammals socialized that day: foxes, badgers, otters, and a single raven perched in a tree while its companion spoke with another raven on the ground. Sometimes they stayed out even after dark, supposing the weather was warm enough. My father used to make fire and my brother, my parents, my uncle and aunt and their kids were all sitting around the fire, singing. The fire was bright and warm and it made the night feel cosy. The fire served as the centre of their camp circle and it was the place where we roasted marshmallows on sticks and sat around telling stories when it got cold. The fire sputtered and crackled, sending sparks of light into the night sky. The smoke spiralled above us up into the branches of the trees that made a canopy over their heads. I sometimes played with my cousin or caught lightning bugs with my brother.
My uncle sometimes told exciting campfire stories. Stories about the forest, which was believed to be haunted by the ghost of some children who had disappeared years ago and some locals could still hear their screams and voices. The ghosts' voice was said to ring through the dead branches and whistle through the empty air, keening like a siren. Sometimes at night, their cries could be heard ringing through the hollows. But I myself had never experienced anything like that. I had never seen more than a shadow in the woods.
What I have seen, was something much more terrible. But before I tell you more about it, you need to understand what the place where I live is like.
Black Rain is an island not far from the western coast of British Columbia. It rains every day because of the wet climate. The community of this island is like a big family. Almost everyone knows everyone, and many people love and hate each other at the same time. But those who think fondly of each other are very close. Oscar Gray, an athlete who has won several of the running races organised on the island every year, donated one of his kidneys to Louis Barnes, a terminally ill boy. His act was in the papers for weeks and his heroism is still remembered today. Not everyone made such a sacrifice, but if someone broke down on the road, for example, you could be sure that the second or third car, if not the first, would stop to help. If you came for dinner, you left with a stomach full of Mrs Keagan's apple pie. Or you were almost bound to meet Mayor James Harrison, who always had a wry sense of humour and smelled like pipe tobacco.
But Black Rain (the town has the same name as the island itself) also has its dark little secrets that the visitor would never see. It is a town of many contrasts that hide these dark little secrets behind charming smiles and gentle voices. For example, no one really knows the kind and charming Mrs Keagan, who raises her grandchildren by locking them in a dark cellar for weeks. Mrs Carter owns the local sweet shop and regularly bakes cakes of sweet dough full of dried insects, which she then feeds to her neighbours without their knowledge. The Crimbles were a family living on the outskirts of town and raised chickens in small coops on their land. One day Mr Crimble murdered his wife and buried her under an old walnut tree, which then grew through her skull, forming an intricate root system that was shaped like a woman's face. Or few people know Mr William, who regularly buried animals in his back garden and performed strange rituals.
But there are also open secrets, such as Martin Owens Jr. who is said to talk to extraterrestrials and some patrols have also seen UFOs over his house on more than one occasion. But it is also well known that Martin would smoke weed before watching space alien movies on the History Channel. There is Kim Nguyen, the receptionist at the clinic; she always has a cut on her finger and smiles with her eyes but never with her mouth. Betty, the Greek lady who owns the pastry shop—nobody had ever seen her smile, not even in photos from when she was younger. And Brad Fritz, whose wife left him for a man from Holland, and Diandra Beck, who almost stabbed Lisa Chapman through the heart with a serving fork at the local restaurant.
Allan Wilson could sit in his rocking chair for hours on end and stare out the window overlooking the street without batting an eye. But then there was Emma Perez, who used to spread her clothes at night while she sang loudly. And Carl Young was famous for going to Black Rain cemetery to talk to ghosts.
There were thousands of other little things Black Rain is hiding.
As in all small towns like this, news spread fast by word of mouth. It is just a comment or a whisper, accompanied by a suggestive wink or a pat on the back of the hand, and the human chain of news is set in motion. And it works much faster than anyone would guess. Gossip spreads like wildfire through the island and many people liked gossipping about couples as well, sometimes to great success. However, these couples are so close that they could survive the rumours and stories that emerge about them. The saga often disrupts the ties between friends, but there is also a growing sense of belonging and community at Black Rain. People are drawn into the group with the power of their friends and neighbours because they never know when they may need help or help from others.
So I was still looking at the huge trees that used to be my playground as a child. Even after I had my first major success in my career as an architect, I will secretly visit these woods, hoping that someday I will find the clearing where I spent my childhood summers. I was still looking down on the woodland clearing when the first raindrops fell on my face. I couldn't help but smile – had I ever been that young? That carefree? I was standing under the trees of the forest, watching how tiny rivulets of water made their way through the carpet of leaves, forming translucent streams between tree stumps.
But as I was walking deeper into the forest, the first raindrops fell on the leaves. It seemed I would not make it home before the rain but I did not want to run anymore. I wiped off my forehead, leaving a line of a mixture of sweat and rainwater on my skin. I stopped took a short break to collect myself and drank some water from my bottle. I looked up, inhaled deeply and took a deep breath. The taste of fresh spring water was soothing and refreshing, the way water tasted when you first woke up in the morning.
Deep in the forest, the shade of the trees and the mild, steady breeze that roamed among the leaves was now getting rather chilly than pleased with the cold raindrops. The trees were swaying, their branches parting to reveal the dark sky. A few drops of water landed on my cheek and soaked into my hair. I brushed my hand over my eyes to keep them open and shook off the rain droplets from my skin.
After a while, all the signs of sweat and exhaustion were gone as I started to shiver, my breath coming out as white clouds in front of his face. I shook off the polo shirt that I had put on as I marched on toward home. I stepped into a puddle and water splashed all over my shoes but he didn't care, just kept walking.
It was gloomy, the light from the sky stretched through the forest but they were not enough to fill in all the shadows. I tried to focus on walking straight but it was now pouring so heavily that I could no longer see where one tree ended and another began. I stumbled over a branch, which I had not seen. My feet found roots underneath them and I fell down but did not hurt myself because I landed on a thick pile of leaves that cushioned his fall. After standing up, I noticed something odd.
One moment, it was not the rain that I could feel on my body. I sensed something else in the air, something sinister and eerie, hiding around me. A feeling of heavy stillness of the ominous sensation that something terrible had happened there. Or was it only my mind? I looked a few meters away to my right. I was not sure what I saw because it was covered with some bushes and the rainfall but the ground was disturbed and it seemed that there was something.
I started walking towards it slowly. As I was approaching it, for some unknown reason, my heartbeat was getting faster.
Black Rain was a small enough town for anyone to be on the lookout for anything suspicious, and if something terrible happened, someone had to see something. I just hoped I wasn’t the first one.
There was a point I was not sure that I should get closer. Because whatever it was, did not belong there. As I was trying to get closer to the undergrown and find my way among the sharp branches, I was careful not to slip on a wet rock. A few seconds later, when I went through the last group of bushes, I saw it. And that was the most terrible moment of my life. My heart was beating in my throat and the blood rushed inside my ears. I suddenly felt as if someone was watching me and he turned my head, but I could only see brambles and trees. Some voice urged me to go back but my curiosity was stronger than my instincts.
And then I saw her.
The girl was hanging from a branch of a tree. She was naked but so dirty with mud that her face and parts of her body were not visible. Her arms were tied behind her back and her legs were tied together. She was still, lifeless and motionless. I turned away quickly and took a few deep breaths and had to throw up. I didn't want to look at her anymore.
The body was twisted and contorted. A human body but with the features of a wild animal, the girl was a young girl, she appeared to be 18 years old with long brown hair. She had a beautiful face but was so dirty and bruised, that she was beyond recognition. The girl’s naked body with its purple bruise, its blackened eye and its mouth open in a scream of terror.
But it was not only the sight of the girl which shocked me. The strange items around the murder seemed out of the place too: a mound with candles on it, a pile of sticks, some kind of pentagram symbol, and a bloody cross were placed around the hanging body.
'Jesus Christ! 'What a sadistic bastard would be capable of doing such a thing?' - I told to myself.
The girl's body was swaying ever so slightly in the breeze, her lengthy hair obscuring her face. I couldn't tell if her eyes were open or not, and I didn't want to know. I turned away, but the image was burned into my mind and I started running back to town as fast as I could, not caring how much the sharp branches hurt my face anymore.
My first destination was the police station. I was running there like crazy without looking back not looking back. I didn't even realise that my running performance was like crazy. Sadly, the lady looking at the reception desk told me to find officer Miller at the Seven Bears Pub. Of course. I should have known that.
Roger Miller wasn’t a particularly intelligent person. There were more police officers in town but he was the only one I didn’t like. In front of his favourite place, the Seven Bears Pub, he smelled alcohol. He was wearing denim, a brown jacket and a baseball cap. His scruffy clothes and unshaven face gave the impression that he was a homeless, rather than the local constable. The man's eyes were bloodshot and his clothes were wrinkled and covered in dirt. He looked like he had been sleeping in his clothes for days. His hair was greasy and stuck to his head in clumps. The smell of cigarettes and alcohol wafted from him in a cloud. The man stubbed his cigarette on the ground and stubbed it out with his boot.
When I told him what I had witnessed and it took ages until he found the car keys (he left them inside the pub). There was Freddie Tucker with him, a local guy who was actually a member of a weird community and they called themselves the Black Purgers. They were a bunch of folks, they went to the parks and forests all around town with flowers, they played music and all. And I had always known they were hiding something.
Anyway, Roger and Freddie were great friends and drinking buddies. Probably that was the reason why Freddie had never got caught when driving drunk or had never been charged with domestic violence because it was known he hit her sister a few times.
I begged Roger for bringing some more people with us and surprisingly he wasn’t against the idea. Probably because he was aware of his own cognitive limitations too.
Roger went back to the pub and came out with Keith Young, a local lumberjack.
‘Hey Keith, this young man says he has witnessed a witch hanging from a tree in the forest. Wanna feel like checking it out? But I think he is still on drugs so what probably will happen is that I will just arrest him.’ - he told him as we were approaching the jeep.
‘Sure!’ - he said and he jumped into the car. Roger cranked the engine and we were on the way to the forest.
On the way there, they were busy sharing gossip and idiotic jokes with each other that I totally ignored. However, I was happy that I was with three strong men because the murderer could still be lurking in the forest.
The image of the witch was burned in my memory and it was only the girl who I could think of.
After a few minutes, Roger turned to the left, onto a dirty, narrow road. On both sides of the road, there were huge pine trees as if guarding the forest. A few minutes later, the car came to a halt and we all got out as we had to walk from them.
The rain had stopped, but the ground was still wet. My shoes made squelching sounds as I walked. The air was cold and damp and smelled of pine. There was a sense of foreboding in the air as if the forest was warning us to turn back. I wasn’t sure the others had the same feeling though but they weren’t the type to back down from a challenge. Countless night fights in the pub taught them how to be tough.
‘So, which way, young man?’ - Roger asked me and I pointed in the direction I believed was the right way to the crime scene.
We all followed Roger into the forest, stepping over roots and around trees.
The ground was uneven and we had to concentrate to keep from tripping. As we were going into the deepness of the forest, a cold chill of dread ran through me like an electric current because I was sure the people with me had no idea what they were going to face.
We all crept through the undergrowth, the sharp branches snagging our clothes and scratching them. The leaves were so thick that it was difficult to see more than a few feet in front of us. The ground was squishy beneath our boots, and the air was damp and smelled of blood and fresh mud. I could hear the sound of something moving through the brush, but I couldn't tell what it was. I had the feeling that we were being watched. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I was sweating despite the cold. I could hear the others breathing around me, and I was sure they were all thinking the same thing: what was waiting for them?
‘So Freddie, you are also a member of the Black Purgers, right? What are you doing, if that’s not a secret?‘ - I just wanted to have a small talk, to break that depressing silence but instead, the most stupid thing left my mouth.’
‘Oh you know, just cleaning the area from negative energies. We have some rituals to summon good spirits and forces to put them in the right state of mind. We light candles, stand in circles and chase away any negative energy or entities that might be lurking. Once the area is purified, we begin to chant, filling the air with positive energy. Staff like this.’ - he said.
Then I thought for a moment and replayed the same things in my head. Purifying the area from negative energies…
There was something in his eyes I didn’t like. He had thought at the back of his head, I was sure.
‘Do you believe in witches?’ - I blurted it out.
‘The fuck are you talking about?! No such things as witches.’
But I knew he was lying.
Could he? Could he know about it? Could he have been the murderer? Was there the killer with me? It seemed his community hid dark dark secrets. I started to shiver more but I didn’t have more time to think about it because I realised we reached the crime scene. I could recognise it from the shape of the trees and bushes.
The only problem was that the area was empty without any traces of disturbed ground and the tree itself was completely untouched, without any signs of a dead body hanging from the tree.
I stopped.
‘So? This is it?’ - Roger asked.
No words could leave my mouth. I looked around. No religious items, not a drop of blood, nothing would tell that the place was a horrible scene of a murder.
‘What the fuck has just happened?’ - I said out loud.
I started to feel embarrassed but only until the point when I looked at Freddie. His expression was shocked and his face was as pale as a dead body. His face told me everything.
I didn't know what was scarier: the fact that I was standing next to the murderer or that the body disappeared with all those religious items around it. Because I could tell you, man, he himself didn’t know what the hell had just happened, just like me. We both expected the same scene as me.
Then I felt the presence of something behind me. I turned around and noticed a girl standing there. She had long black hair, her face was white and blood was running down from her eyes. Other than that, she was beautiful.
And then it came to me: she was the girl from the tree. And none of the men around me saw her. Only me. She was staring at the tree which she had been hanging from.
I didn’t want to know what would happen next but my legs told me to run away as fast as I could and they didn’t have to tell me twice. The trees passed by in a blur and seemed to fly by faster and faster as if they were being sucked into the centre of a tornado. They moved in a hypnotic circle around me and everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. My legs pumped harder than they ever had before, harder than when I ran against Ryan Field or when I tried out for the track team my junior year or even when my football coach had screamed at me for not being fast enough to catch the quarterback's long pass. My heart thundered in my ears, just like the skies in the distance, which sounded like the prelude to an apocalypse.
They have been reported as missing people ever since and I have never told anyone I was the last person who saw them. No bodies have ever been found.
Later the girl turned out to be Hannah Howe, a local teenager who went missing. She was believed to be a witch by some locals because she was interested in witchcraft. Well, they weren’t far from the truth. When I checked her Facebook photo, I immediately recognised her and I knew it was her.
What I don’t want to know is what happened to the three men but I am sure, Freddie Tucker is still burning in hell. When I approach the forest, I still hear his screams.
submitted by greg0525 to DarkTales [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:20 PageTurner_Official Macbeth (Act 2)

Act 1

ACT 2, SCENE 1: Court of Macbeth's castle
[BANQUO & FLEANCE enter with a torch]
What time is it, boy?
The moon has set, but I haven’t heard the clock yet.
And the moon sets at twelve.
I think it’s later than that, sir.
Wait here, and take my sword. [gives FLEANCE his sword] The heavens are keeping the stars dark… Here, take this, too. [gives FLEANCE his belt & dagger] My eyes are like lead, but I don’t want to sleep. Angels of mercy, please, help me restrain the evil thoughts filling my mind during rest!
[MACBETH & a servant enter with a torch]
Give me my sword. Who's there? [takes back sword]
A friend.
Aren’t you asleep yet, sir? The king is in bed. He’s been unusually happy and showering your servants with gifts. This diamond is for your wife being such an attractive hostess and keeping him so comfortable.
Our hosting duties were lacking due to the short notice of his visit, but— if we’d had proper time to prepare - everything would have been even better.
Everything’s fine. Last night, I dreamed that three witches showed you a prophecy.
I don’t think about them, but - if you wish - we can discuss when we have the time.
Sure, whenever you’d like.
If you’ll agree to follow me when the time comes, it will result in great honor for you.
I’ll listen to you as long as I retain my honor and my conscience stays clear.
Excellent; in the meantime, have a good rest.
Thanks, sir; you do the same!
[to the servant] Go tell my wife that she should strike the bell when my drink is ready; then, get yourself to bed.
[exit servant]
Is this a dagger that I see in front of me— with the handle facing my hand? Come, dagger, let me hold you. [he reaches for the dagger, but his hand passes through it] I can’t touch you, yet there you are. Deadly apparition, is it impossible to touch you even though I can see you? Or are you just a hallucination created by my feverish brain? I still see you as clearly as the dagger I am now drawing. [draws dagger] You’re leading me in the same direction I was already going; I had already planned to use a dagger. My eyes are either playing me for a fool, or they’re making a fool out of my other senses. I still see you, and now blood has appeared on your blade and handle. This dagger doesn’t exist; it’s these thoughts of murder that are affecting my eyes. Half the world is asleep— being abused by wicked dreams. The witches offer sacrifices to their goddess, Hecate, and— awakened by his wolf’s howls— Old Man Murder walks like a ghost on his way to do the deed. Oh, firm, solid Earth— don’t listen to my steps or their direction; I fear the stone’s echoes will reveal my location and break the perfect silence that’s so suited to the situation. While I’m here plotting, the king is still alive, and talking about it curbs my willingness to act.
[a bell rings]
Now, I go, and it’s as good as done; the bell is my signal. Duncan, don’t listen to the bell, because it is your summons to either heaven or hell.
[MACBETH exits]


ACT 2, SCENE 2: The same
The same wine that made the servants drunk has made me bold; it knocked them out and gave me fire. Listen! Quiet! That was an owl’s shriek— an omen of death– like when the night watchman strikes the midnight bell on the day of an execution. Macbeth is killing Duncan right now; his doors are open, and the drunk servants' snores make a mockery of their job as protectors. I gave them enough drugs to make them seem dead.
[offstage] Who's there? What’s that?
Oh no, I fear the servants woke up, and the work isn’t done yet. If we’re caught, we’ll be ruined. [she hears a noise] Listen! I put the servants’ daggers where Macbeth couldn’t miss them. Had Duncan not looked so much like my father while he slept, I would’ve killed him myself.
[MACBETH enters]
My husband!
I’ve done it. Did you hear a noise?
I heard an owl and some crickets. Did you say something?
Just now.
As I was coming down?
Listen! Who’s sleeping in the second bedroom?
[looking at his blood-covered hands] This is a sorry sight.
It’s foolish to call it a “sorry sight.”
One servant laughed in his sleep while the other one cried out, “murder”, and they woke each other up. I stood there, listening, as they said their prayers and fell back to sleep.
Malcolm and Donalbain are sleeping in the same room.
One cried, “God bless us,” and the other said “amen”— as if they’d seen my bloody hands. I heard the fear in their voices but couldn’t say “amen” to “God bless us.”
Don’t dwell on it so much.
But why couldn’t I say “amen?” I was in profound need of God’s blessing, yet the word stuck in my throat.
We can’t think about it that way, or it will drive us crazy.
I thought I heard a voice cry, “sleep no more! Macbeth murders sleep.” Innocent sleep— the sleep that soothes all of our worries and brings an end to each day; the kind that eases our ache’s after a hard day’s labor and relieves our troubled minds. It's the greatest and most nourishing course in the feast that is life.
What do you mean?
The voice continued to cry, “sleep no more” to the entire house. “Glamis has murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor will sleep no more; Macbeth will sleep no more.”
Who was it that cried those words? My noble Thane, you weaken yourself by obsessing over such things. Go get some water, and wash this filthy blood from your hands. Why did you bring these daggers with you? They must remain at the murder scene. Go, take them back, and smear the sleeping servants with blood.
I'm not going back; I’m afraid to even think about what I’ve done. I don’t dare to look at it again.
You weaking! Give me the daggers; the sleeping and the dead are as harmless as pictures. It’s childish to fear a scary painting. If Duncan is still bleeding, I'll cover the servants’ faces in blood; it’s vital that they look guilty.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Where is that knocking coming from? How is it that every noise terrifies me? [looking at his hands] Whose hands are these? Ha! They are plucking out my eyes. Would all of the water in Neptune’s ocean wash this blood from my hand? No, this hand would turn the green seas red.
[LADY MACBETH re-enters]
Now my hands are bloody like yours, but I would be ashamed to behave as cowardly about it as you are.
[a knock sounds offstage]
I hear knocking at the south gate; we must return to our bedroom. A little water will wash the blood from our hands. It will be so easy then! You’ve lost your determination.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Listen! More knocking. Put on your nightgown so it won’t seem as if we’ve been awake and watching the whole time— and don’t look so sad.
The only way I can acknowledge what I’ve done is by forgetting who I am.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Wake Duncan with your knocking. I wish you could.
[they exit]


ACT 2, SCENE 3: The same
[a knock sounds offstage; a PORTER enters]
What a lot of knocking! If a man were the gatekeeper of hell, he would grow old turning the key.
[a knock sounds offstage]
[pretending to be hell’s gatekeeper] Knock, knock, knock! In the name of Beelzebub, who’s there? Perhaps a farmer that hanged himself for hoarding grain with the expectation of charging high prices during a famine that never came. [speaking to an imaginary farmer] You’ve come at a good time. Make sure you have enough napkins; you’ll be sweating plenty, down here.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Knock, knock! Who in the other devil's name is there? It’s probably some slick schemer who swore allegiance to two opposing sides— someone who committed treason in the name of God— yet he couldn’t make it to heaven. Oh, come in, schemer.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Knock, knock, knock! Who's there? Perhaps, it’s a tailor who skimped on the fabric for some of those French, baggy pants. Come in, tailor; you can roast your goose in here.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Knock, knock! It never stops! Who are you? This place is too cold for hell; I’m done being its gatekeeper. I wanted to let in someone from each profession that had given into temptation.
[a knock sounds offstage]
Coming! Coming! I beg you, don’t forget to leave me a tip. [opens gate]
My friend, was it so late when you went to bed that you had to sleep in?
That’s true, sir; we were singing and dancing until 3:00AM, and alcohol is great at provoking three things.
What three things would that be?
Indeed, sir, it provokes a red nose, sleep, and urine; it provokes desire, but it also hinders it. Drinking may arouse desire, but it inhibits performance; therefore, it could be said that alcohol is a traitor to sex. It makes a man feel good, but it also stifles him; it gets a man up, but then it lets him down. It eggs him on and then leaves him dismayed; it gives him an erection only to take it away. Finally, it gives him erotic dreams, but they disappear and leave only the need to pee.
I believe alcohol did that to you all night.
Yes it did, sir. The alcohol called me a liar to my face, but I took my revenge. It may have weakened my legs and knocked me off balance, but I was too strong for it; I defeated it by vomiting.
Is your master waking up?
[MACBETH enters]
Our knocking woke him; here he comes.
Good morning, noble sir.
Good morning to you both.
Is the king awake, noble Thane?
Not yet.
He ordered me to come see him early this morning, but I’m almost late.
I'll take you to him.
I know that hosting the king is joyful work, but it’s still work nonetheless.
It lessens the pain of labor when we enjoy the work. This is the door.
I'll be the one to wake him— it’s my job, afterall
[MACDUFF exits]
Is the king leaving today?
Yes, he requested that we have everything ready for his departure.
It was a wild night; the wind blew down the chimneys where we slept, and people said they heard strange death screams and grievous cries in the air; terrifying voices prophesied fire and chaos that would bring about a new but awful time. The owl— an omen of destruction— hooted all night, and some say that the earth shook from a fever.
It was a rough night.
My young memory has nothing to compare it with.
[MACDUFF re-enters in a rush]
O horror, horror, horror! I do not have the words nor the heart to believe it!
What's wrong?
Chaos reigns! A sinful murder has broken open God’s temple and stolen the life from it.
What are you saying? The life?
Do you mean the king?
Go to the bedroom, and let the monstrous sight destroy your vision. Don’t ask me to say it; go see it for yourselves, and then you say it.
Wake up, wake up! Sound the alarm; there has been a murder and treason! Banquo, Donalbain, Malcolm! Wake up! Shake off that fake death of sleep, and look upon the real thing! Get up, and see the very image of Doomsday! Malcolm! Banquo! Rise— as if from your graves— and walk like ghosts to see the true face of horror! Ring the bell.
[a bell rings; LADY MACBETH enters]
What's happening? Why is that hideous trumpet calling everyone together while people are trying to sleep? Come on, tell me!
Oh, dear lady, this news is not for you to hear; it would kill a woman instantly.
[BANQUO enters]
Oh, Banquo, Banquo, our royal king has been murdered!
Oh no! It happened in our house?
It is too cruel no matter where it happened. Dear Macduff, I beg you— take it back; say it’s not true.
[MACBETH & LENNOX re-enter with ROSS]
If I had died an hour before this happened, I would have lived a blessed life, but - from this moment - there's no reason to continue living; everything is meaningless. All grace and distinction are dead. The wine of life has been poured out, and only the dregs remain.
What’s wrong?
You are, but you don’t even know it yet; the very origin of your bloodline has been stopped.
Your royal father has been murdered.
Oh, by who?
It seems as if the servants tasked with watching over his sleep are the ones responsible. Their hands and faces were covered in blood— along with their daggers, which were found unwiped and lying on their pillows. They only stared at us in confusion; they shouldn’t have been trusted with any man's life.
Even so, I regret killing them in my fury.
Why did you do that?
Who can be wise, shocked, calm, furious, loyal, and neutral all at once? No man can. I was so enraged that I lost all reason. There Duncan was— his white skin stained with his red blood— covered in gaping wounds and left to rot. Then, there were the murderers— soaked with his blood— their daggers covered in gore. Would anyone who loved Duncan— and had the courage to do it— have done otherwise?
Hurry, take me away from here! [she faints]
Help the lady.
[whispers to DONALBAIN] Why aren’t we saying anything? We have the most reason to be outraged.
[whispers to MALCOLM] What should we say? We might also be in danger; it could strike from any hidden corner. Let’s run away; we can’t start crying yet.
[whisper to DONALBAIN] Nor can we let sorrow dictate our actions.
Look after the lady.
[LADY MACBETH is carried out]
We’ll get dressed and have a meeting to discuss how this mess happened. Right now, we’re shaken by fear and doubt. I’m in God’s great hands, and, from there, I will fight against this malicious treason.
I will too.
We all will.
Let's take a moment to regain our strength, and then we’ll meet in the hall.
[all except MALCOLM & DONALBAIN exit]
We shouldn’t go to their meeting; liars feign grief too easily. I'm going to England.
I’ll go to Ireland; it’s safer to split up. Here, every smile could have a dagger hiding behind it, and the closer they are to the throne, the more dangerous they’re liable to be.
This is just getting started; we’ll be safest by avoiding it entirely. Let’s get to our horses without wasting time on farewells. We’re justified in sneaking away; there’s no mercy left for us here.
[they exit]


ACT 2, SCENE 4: Outside Macbeth's castle
[ROSS & an OLD MAN enter]
I remember the last 70 years well. In that time, I’ve seen many strange and dreadful things, but they pale in comparison to what I saw last night.
Yes, old man, the skies are troubled by the acts of men, and they threaten the bloody earth with storms. The clock says it’s daytime, yet darkness is still stifling the sun. Is the night overpowering the day because it’s so powerful, or is the sun too ashamed to show itself?
It’s unnatural— just like the murder that was committed. Last Tuesday, a falcon was soaring in its rightful place when it was suddenly killed by an owl— which normally prey on mice.
Strangest of all are Duncan’s fast, beautiful horses— they’re the best of their breed, yet they went wild and broke out of their stalls. They couldn’t be calmed and acted as if they were at war with mankind.
It is said that the horses ate each other.
To my amazement, they did; I saw the whole thing. Here comes the good Macduff.
[MACDUFF enters]
How are things going, sir?
Can’t you see how they’re going?
Do we know who committed this bloody murder?
It was the servants that Macbeth killed.
Oh, what a horrible day! What could they have hoped to gain?
They were bribed; Malcolm and Donalbain— the king's two sons— have fled, which puts them under suspicion.
That’s even more unnatural! It’s a wasteful ambition that causes sons to kill their own father! Then, it’s most likely that the crown will fall to Macbeth.
He has already been named king and is on the way to Scone Palace for the coronation.
Where is Duncan's body?
It was taken to Colmekill - the sacred burial place for all Scottish kings - where it is said a guardian watches over their bones.
Will you go to Scone?
No, cousin, I'll go to Fife.
Well, I’m going to Scone.
May the coronation go well. Goodbye! Let’s hope that our new king will be as good as the last.
Goodbye, old man.
May God bless you and those who would make good things out of the bad and friends out of enemies!
[they all exit]

Act 3
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2023.03.27 14:18 Stable115 Happiness and relationships

Recently a friend of mine invited me to his house since he wanted some company and help after his recent divorce, and this made me think about the concept of relationships and how it affect some men.

a big chunk of my friends are married or in a relationship without marriage, only a handful are single, whenever we sit i notice a reoccurring pattern, a difference between the single ones and the ones who are with someone.

when the single ones talk, i can see they are energetic, excited, goal-driven, i can see a spark in their eyes, a certain aura around them so to speak..

but when attached friends speak, all we hear is talks about home, kids, partner, life for them has become small, it's centred around their partner or kids and how to please them, they no longer have a burning passion to explore other deep aspects of life.

i see a dull, heavy-weighted person with responsibilities that killed him, a person who gave up on life, and they are unhappy

some of them admitted they regret taking the decision of being engaged with someone

society have indoctrinated men since their childhood that happiness and purpose of life is having a partner or marry or have kids.

personally i've been single for the last 4 years or so, this decision was among the good decisions that improved my life in many aspects in a noticeable way..financially, physically, mentally and spiritually

i was with my last partner for two years, and it was good, whatever i want or "need" she do, and vice versa, whatever she need or want i do, we did many things together and had much plans for the future, i thought it was happiness and purpose, but not after i realized that whatever i want i can do myself without outsourcing it to someone else, it was inside me all the time, the keys to suffering and happiness are within you, you are the master of your fate, whether you know that or not is another matter.

when i came to this conclusion and epiphany that i don't need someone to do what i want or feel what i want i told my partner the truth, she was understanding and we handled the matter maturely and splited.

after all, everyone is seeking their own happiness and fulfilment, others come secondly.

now, if you are in a relationship or married the odds you are too attached to consider freedom, then this post is not about you.

however, if you are single you should rethink your decisions, you don't need someone else to feel good, you are the only person who will make himself feel a certain way, whatever your feelings are, for the most part they are your responsibility...

why would you go above and beyond, through many ups and downs, to be with someone, it's draining and limiting your potential.

the time, energy, money, peace and well-being you sacrifice to be with someone is extremely valuable, that if you spent it and invested it on yourself you'll be on a whole new level of progress, happiness and realization of self

there is no person on this world who will be as you wish, seeking happiness from an external source; other people, is foolish to say the least

that friend of mine, and before him another one, went through a painful and sad spiral

seeing men around me and in society who destroy themselves or accept to have a low quality of life to be in a relationship is frankly disheartening, i don't want to see that anymore.

be yourself, be happy, don't change in order to please someone or to be with someone.

you see..there is a plant called "venus flytrap", it lures the bugs by emitting a scent attracting the bugs and when they are inside it traps them and eat them.

same thing with relationships, they look good, beautiful and attractive from outside, but once you are in, things change, don't fall for the pictures and posts you see in social media of people claiming to be living the life.

it is not love, this is your body playing tricks on you to make you breed, love is something else, love for the higher good, God (if you believe in one), people around you, love for truth and realization...etc.

society conditioned you that romantic relationships are love, pure and honorable, which is not the case if we think about it..

you either like the body, money, beauty, status, personality, mindset etc ..

nobody is with someone just like that, everyone is with someone because they are taking something from them that benefit them one way or the other, either psychologically or physically

no one is doing the other a favor with being with them, it's a mutual benefits exchange.

romantic relationships are the same as any other type of relationships like business, family, friendship etc...you are exchanging something for another thing.

if you "love" one person for a reason then you don't love them, true love radiate toward everything and everyone no matter who they are or what they do, plants, animals, humans, everything, you don't need a relationship to love..

and obviously i'm not talking about "romantic love" that's sexual tension nothing more, modern use of the word "love" has corrupted it's meaning.

here is someone who explain it in another way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVjRuM7Rong

un-plug from this narrative that you have been taught, life is so much wider and deeper than a relationship, you'll ask me what is there ? i'll leave it to you to find out.
you will need to un-learn the illusions you have been fed for years, see life from a new perspective, see the truth about yourself as a limitless being.
consider this an advise from a brother, don't limit yourself, don't bound yourself, be a free bird, by investing on yourself you can reach bigger things, very big things if you are serious enough, whatever you want you'll achieve, instead of directing energy and time toward someone else with the hope and illusion that you'll be happy and realized, if you do that then you are using only a very small percentage of your potential.

as schopenhauer put it, relationships are like a bunch of hedgehogs feeling cold, they try to get closer to each other to feel some warmth, but if they got too close they will hurt and poke each other with their thorns.

society taught you and indoctrinated you to think you are hedgehog, you are not, you are fine and perfect by yourself, you are complete, you don't need assistance and approval from an external source.

and as Carl jung said, if you feel lonely while with yourself then you are in a bad company.

i don't want to see another hurt soul from this. bless you everyone.
submitted by Stable115 to Morocco [link] [comments]

2023.03.27 14:16 Proof-Scholar-5025 Pm lotion may be worsening my acne

I started a routine and it was going fine I was purging like I expected and some breakouts were going away, I was being patient but for some reason I switched to the cerave pm lotion and it was fine at first but after a week I’ve noticed my skin becoming so oily and these huge cystic red pimples coming out my cheek, not to mention today it burned around my eyes when I put it on. I’m gonna stop using this and I’ll see the acne goes away
submitted by Proof-Scholar-5025 to Skincare_Addiction [link] [comments]