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This line is from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang (page) 466. The rest of the Shabad is included below.
I was originally looking up the context for the following stanza "jal thal jee-aa puree-aa lo-aa aakaaraa aakaar. There are beings and creatures in the water and on the land, in the worlds and universes, form upon form" (466-3) to confirm if I was reading it right and that Guru Nanak discussed life on other planets 500 years ago.
I found the following verses profound and thought you all would agree. Parenthesis and emphasis were added by me. Please forgive me if I have forgotten anything or made any mistakes.
mehlaa 1.First Mehl:
(Guru Nanak, 1st Guru)
mitee musalmaan kee payrhai pa-ee kumHi-aar. (466-5)
The clay of the Muslim's grave becomes clay for the potter's wheel.
gharh bhaaNday itaa kee-aa jaldee karay pukaar. (466-6)
Pots and bricks are fashioned from it, and it cries out as it burns.
jal jal rovai bapurhee jharh jharh paveh angi-aar. (466-6)
The poor clay burns, burns and weeps, as the fiery coals fall upon it.
naanak jin kartai kaaran kee-aa so jaanai kartaar. 2 (466-7)
O Nanak, the Creator created the creation; the Creator Lord alone knows. 2
bin satgur kinai na paa-i-o bin satgur kinai na paa-i-aa. (466-7)
Without the True Guru, no one has obtained the Lord; without the True Guru, no one has obtained the Lord.
satgur vich aap rakhi-on kar pargat aakh sunaa-i-aa. (466-8)
He has placed Himself within the True Guru; revealing Himself, He declares this openly.
satgur mili-ai sadaa mukat hai jin vichahu moh chukaa-i-aa. (466-8)
Meeting the True Guru, eternal liberation is obtained; He has banished attachment from within.
utam ayhu beechaar hai jin sachay si-o chit laa-i-aa. (466-9)
This is the highest thought, that one's consciousness is attached to the True Lord.
jagjeevan daataa paa-i-aa. 6 (466-10)
Thus the Lord of the World, the Great Giver is obtained. 6
salok mehlaa 1.
Shalok, First Mehl: (Guru Nanak, 1st Guru)
ha-o vich aa-i-aa ha-o vich ga-i-aa. (466-10)
In ego they come, and in ego they go.
ha-o vich jammi-aa ha-o vich mu-aa. (466-10)
In ego they are born, and in ego they die.
ha-o vich ditaa ha-o vich la-i-aa. (466-11)
In ego they give, and in ego they take.
ha-o vich khati-aa ha-o vich ga-i-aa. (466-11)
In ego they earn, and in ego they lose.
ha-o vich sachiaar koorhi-aar. (466-12)
In ego they become truthful or false.
ha-o vich paap punn veechaar. (466-12)
In ego they reflect on virtue and sin.
ha-o vich narak surag avtaar. (466-12)
In ego they go to heaven or hell.
ha-o vich hasai ha-o vich rovai. (466-12)
In ego they laugh, and in ego they weep.
ha-o vich bharee-ai ha-o vich Dhovai. (466-13)
In ego they become dirty, and in ego they are washed clean.
ha-o vich jaatee jinsee khovai. (466-13)
In ego they lose social status and class.
ha-o vich moorakh ha-o vich si-aanaa. (466-13)
In ego they are ignorant, and in ego they are wise.
mokh mukat kee saar na jaanaa. (466-13)
They do not know the value of salvation and liberation.
ha-o vich maa-i-aa ha-o vich chhaa-i-aa. (466-14)
In ego they love Maya, and in ego they are kept in darkness by it.
ha-umai kar kar jant upaa-i-aa. (466-15)
Living in ego, mortal beings are created.
ha-umai boojhai taa dar soojhai. (466-15)
When one understands ego, then the Lord's gate is known.
gi-aan vihoonaa kath kath loojhai. (466-15)
Without spiritual wisdom, they babble and argue.
naanak hukmee likee-ai laykh. (466-15)
O Nanak, by the Lord's Command, destiny is recorded.
jayhaa vaykheh tayhaa vaykh. 1 (466-16)
As the Lord sees us, so are we seen. 1
mehlaa 2.Second Mehl: (Guru Angad, 2nd Guru)
ha-umai ayhaa jaat hai ha-umai karam kamaahi. (466-16)
This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego.
ha-umai ay-ee banDhnaa fir fir jonee paahi. (466-17)
This is the bondage of ego, that time and time again, they are reborn.
ha-umai kithhu oopjai kit sanjam ih jaa-ay. (466-17)
Where does ego come from? How can it be removed?
ha-umai ayho hukam hai pa-i-ai kirat firaahi. (466-17)
This ego exists by the Lord's Order; people wander according to their past actions.
ha-umai deeragh rog hai daaroo bhee is maahi. (466-18)
Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well.
kirpaa karay jay aapnee taa gur kaa sabad kamaahi. (466-18)
If the Lord grants His Grace, one acts according to the Teachings of the Guru's Shabad.
naanak kahai sunhu janhu it sanjam dukh jaahi. 2 (466-19)
Nanak says, listen, people: in this way, troubles depart. 2
Part 24: https://www.reddit.com/Viidith22/comments/13taoss/my_roommate_is_slenderman_part_24_revised/
It had been a day or so and I hadn’t gotten a response from Megami. There are spurts where we don’t talk, she tends to be pretty accident-prone with electronics. Sometimes the frequency she’s singing goes haywire and fries it. But it had been a good five months or so since we last spoke. Taking a shot in the dark, I called Rachel.
“What is it, Terry?” She grunted, “I’m a little busy.”
“I need to talk to Megami, but she’s been MIA since the whole ‘Maerod’ situation.” My mind shot back to what Jones had told me, to watch out for “her,” momentarily questioning whether or not Dexter’s team had been dumb enough to keep her alive.
There was a pause, the line was silent. Then, a sigh, “Actually, I’ve had the same problem. I figured she just broke another phone, or was pissed at me for… Well, I’ll keep an ear out and let you know if I hear anything. What do you need her for?” She grunted again.
The line went silent again, then an exasperated sigh, “Good luck, be sure to bring The Doctor with you. You know how you can get.”
A flush of anger pulsed through me, but I took a deep breath, “Sure.”
She shrieked, “Oh shit!” The call ended.
I thought over the list of everyone, wondering what I was gonna do. I had actually intended to have Doc and Megami be the last two after Smudge, no one else would really work. Chad wasn’t right for the type of incognito mission we were doing, Abraham wasn’t available, Rachel and Sepratine just didn’t quite mesh with what we were doing, Megami was supposed to be the last one to fill out the party. I mulled it over, but I still owed David, the huuldefolk, a favor from the Maerod raid. I would’ve called Jacob, but he was in another country doing who knows what.
My phone rang as I stood, leaning against the couch, “Jones, something wrong?”
He chuckled, “Not in the least. You got your group together?”
“We’re one short.”
“No problem, bring everyone by tonight, we need to prepare on our end, and Dexter sent us a bit of backup.” He hung up.
I called up Doc and Smudge, telling them to be at my place and ready by the time dusk rolled around. Heading to the bathroom I downed my meds, trying to shake off a weird feeling that slowly crept up on me. As if something was going to happen when we got there. It was more than just a bad feeling, but a conviction, I knew something would happen, and it made me uncomfortable. One of the pills I took was supposed to ease it, but when it got that bad, it meant my brain had already determined some kind of outcome. It’s not a superpower or anything, more like enhanced intuition. It only happens when my brain has the information to go off of. But there’s a disconnect between my conscious and subconscious, so whenever something like that happens, I just have to wait for it to come to fruition.
Stepping into the office, I looked around, “Where’s the new guy?”
Xavier looked up, baffled at the sight. Then Jones stood, walking over to greet us, the bags under his eyes less defined, “He’s in the back getting himself something to eat. Smudge, nice to see you again, you haven’t aged a day.” Smudge chuckled at that, “You must be The famous Doctor, I want to thank you for coming. I’m sure you’re a busy man.” He outstretched his hand, but Doc just gestured between Jones and me.
“You see, that’s how you should greet me. You really ought to get a notepad out, you might learn a thing or two about how to respect your elders.”
“If I remember correctly, I’m about 2,000 years your senior. When did you start your… questionable medical practices again? 16th, 17th century?”
Doc ignored me, angrily shaking Jones’s hand, “Nice to meet you, lad! Glad to hear somebody thinks highly of me, even if it is a meager thinskin.”
“Me and my dislocated fingers thank you for that.” As he brought his hand back, Jones uncomfortably pushed his fingers back into their sockets one by one. “So, who were you planning on bringing? You said there was going to be another?”
“Right, had my sights set on a Siren, she’s pretty skilled and can be silent when the occasion arises. But I couldn’t get ahold of her.” I paused, “Actually, you’ve got your ear to the ground, you heard anything about someone named Megami? It’s been a few months since we talked, I’m kinda worried.”
Jones was a mannequin, despite trying to seem calm, his eyes flicked to Xavier before shooting back to us. He leaned against his desk, reaching for his coffee mug several times, not looking away from us, before finally grabbing it, and raising it to his mouth.
I stared hard at Xavier, a few moments later, he cracked, “Look it was a life or death sit–”
My legs tightened, I could feel the meds pushing to the side as I grew, stepping over to him in two long strides. He threw out his hearing aid, grasping his one intact ear as he held himself up with his free hand on the desk, “You killed Megami! Tell me why I shouldn’t give you the same treatment!” Something grasped my waist, then each of my legs. They were trying to push me back. When I released a tentacle to shoot Xavier through the head, I felt a prick stab into it. I fell limp, shrinking back down instantaneously.
Much calmer, I looked at my surroundings, Doc stood over me, making sure I was fine, Smudge looked between Xavier and me, wondering how he should react. Then I saw Xavier, Jones standing beside him, and on the other side of the desk, just across from us, stood the blonde buzzcut, and scarred musculature, of a Texan soldier. “Fucking Tucker.” I chuckled with disdain, “Of course.”
“Wish I had my H.O.P.S. but unfortunately it was destroyed along with the U.S.P.M. You’re one terrifying son of a bitch when I’m not in a full suit of armor, I’ll tell you what.” Looking close, I noticed he was wearing one of the older exosuits they used to wear. It was clean, but there were scuffs in the black paint job here and there.
“The U.S.P.M is just a bad fucking omen at this point.”
“Hey, we didn’t kill Jeff, and we didn’t kill Megami. So why don’tcha chill the fuck out.” Tucker crossed his arms, staring at me.
Smudge let out a jittery sigh, “You know, Jane’s death wasn’t necessarily the fault of Jeff.”
I looked at him, “Are you really going to side with the thinskins on this one?”
“Terry, behave yourself. We’re only here for Joseph’s sake. After we’re done you can go wipe out the US government. But we’re here for a reason. Doctor back me up here.”
“I’m neutral in this, I don’t care much for anyone.”
“And yet you’re here to help save Joseph.”
He sighed, “Joseph is okay I suppose. But I’m here because Terry gave me a deal on a pixie a month or so back.”
Smudge and Doc continued their back and forth as I stared at Xavier, he stood upright again, fixing the aid back into his ear, “I don’t blame you, Terry, I’d kill me too. I even did. But at least wait till this is over, yeah? I wanna slip in one last good deed if I can.” He blinked tears back as he put on a ski mask.
“When we’re done, I’ll thank you, but you better hope we never cross paths again.”
“I could say the same to you… I could.”
The air was still for a minute or so, even Doc and Smudge had stopped their bickering. “Well then.” Tucker smacked his hands together, making a metal clink, “Y’all ready to kick some shit in?”
“How long is the drive? I’ll need at least an hour to recover.”
Jones answered, “Hour and a half to two, you’ll be fine. We’ve got guns in the van, all suppressed. I had a mutual acquaintance of ours send us a care package yesterday. Regardless, I say we should all keep our blood inside our bodies.”
Tucker joined in, “Speaking of, I managed to scrounge the materials to make up some of those SIOM rounds. I left them in the van, along with the last resort.” He winked at me.
Jones nodded, “We should be good to go then, you guys oughtta join us in the van, less conspicuous.”
I nodded, “Yeah, that’d make the most sense. I’ll be taking the lead when we get there though. Which reminds me, you never sent me the schematics.”
“Oh, yeah, I’ll send them over. Are you gonna have enough time to put a plan together?”
“Yeah, I already know how we’ll follow into the building. I was thinking Tucker at first, but without his suit, he’s basically just a liability.”
He rolled his eyes, “Yeah, we’ll see about that one.”
As the van slowed, Tucker pulled on his combat gloves. He was decked out in full gear that I hadn’t really noticed till we got in the van. A flexible vest that was essentially a skin-tight long-sleeve shirt, meeting his wrists. His pants were tight and were made of the same fabric as his shirt.
We came to a complete stop as he slung his rifle around, clicking off the safety on his Bizon. Doc clapped his book shut, and Smudge stood.
“Alright, everyone up, we need to get to the gun cases.” Jones had come back through a door-sized hole connecting the back of the van to the front. He’d already pulled his mask over his face, the only color that came from him was his remaining eye and parts of his lips, only revealed by small, cut strips in the fabric.
We stood, sidestepping so he could get to the guns behind the seats. One by one we filed out the back.
Xavier hopped out the back, followed by Jones who stared at Tucker for a moment, “Did you uh… Did you put a new scope on this?” He raised his PS90 which held an ACOG and a suppressor.
“Oh yeah, it’s kinda like a thermal scope. But instead of heat it picks up… well I don’t actually know. But you should be able to see anything invisible or not.” Xavier inspected his own gun, “Sorry guy, I only had enough for Jones and me. You should be fine, but just cause you don’t got a fancy scope don’t mean you can go missing your shots. Them rounds’re expensive as hell.”
“Well, let’s get going, I’ve got the map down, I know how to get there. Second floor of their basement has the data. Unfortunately, we have no idea what security looks like, so we have to be cautious if we intend to stay hidden.”
Tucker spoke, “Just to be clear, you’re upfront, Jones is behind you, then the Doctor, then Xavier with me covering our asses.”
“Smudge is behind Doc, and while I’d like to have Xavier in the back–”
Xavier rolled his eyes, “Well I’d like to have you in back.”
Tucker sighed, “Anyhow, guess it works. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll have a huuldefolk I can put some rounds through. Release some of this tension.” He shot his gaze between Xavier and me.
“Well let’s head out. Smudge, you’ll be able to keep the cameras down right?”
“Based on what you said about their layout I should be able to, but I won’t be able to keep us hidden from the perception of the guards once we’re inside. There are far too many electronics I need to keep down so if we run into anyone inside the building, we need to kill them and hide their bodies to avoid being caught. I can’t keep the entire building down, so I can’t stop them from setting off an alarm if we miss anyone.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem.” Tucker lifted his gun.
“Let’s hope those sights are as powerful as you say.”
Before long, we were on our way. We’d parked some distance out so as to not draw any attention. Taking the lead, the only noise I could hear was the occasional snapping of twigs as we walked through a forested area. Despite having come in contact with the exoskeleton previously, it still surprised me how stealthy Tucker could be wearing it.
Breaching the treeline, I held up my hand. Surrounded by a gravel driveway stood a three-story tall modern office-style building. Men patrolled around the lot, all wearing tactical gear. Focusing on the shadows, I could tell there were hidden guards as well, those ones were wearing light, flexible clothing and minimal if any weapons.
“Smudge,” I whispered, waving him up with two fingers.
“Yes.” As he looked out, he seemed to understand, “This will be a tough one if they aren’t all humans. Seems like there are about 30 guards that may see us. If even one of them is around a five, I won’t be able to blind all of them from our presence. If Rachel were here we’d be able to determine such a thing, unfortunately, we don’t have her spiritual sense.”
“I might be able to help with that,” Tucker whispered from behind us.
“What kind of bullshit caused you to break formation without my asking.”
“As I said, these scopes can sense alternative forms of energy. I have a few frames of reference, I know what civies look like through this thing. Smudge, if you can point out all the hidden ones, I’ll be able to tell you what we’re dealing with.”
Smudge looked at me, then shrugged, “Alright, if you’re certain.”
“We’re good to go then? That was the last one?”
“So it would seem, that scope of yours ought to be reliable.”
“If we don’t get by, you have my full permission to do whatever you want to Xavier.”
Jones butted in, “I believe that’s up for me to decide. I still need him around.”
Smudge whispered at a frequency that’d set dogs off, “Enough bickering, you’re worse than when I have to babysit Chad and Rachel. Everyone get in formation, it’s easiest on me if we go in single file.” Getting back into position, he spoke up, “Sorry Terry, I know you’re leading, but, well you get it.”
I nodded back to him, “Everyone ready? No piss breaks past this point. If you have cold feet, just head back to the van.” I looked back to Xavier, to which he flipped me off, signaling me to start.
I wasn’t worried about the situation until we got about ten feet from the door. One of the two guards standing beside it looked over at us. I signaled everyone to stop, and the guy continued to stare. A few moments later, he shrugged, facing forward again, and we continued on through the door.
There was no one in the immediate vicinity, though there were several cameras pointed toward us, blinking.
Smudge said one word as he took a deep breath, “Break.”
Nodding, I signaled for the three of us up front to take the right wall, and the other three to take the left.
Once Smudge caught his breath, he stood back up, and we all got back into formation, right as a guard turned the corner. I shot a tentacle out, grabbing him by the throat and snapping his neck, all while bringing him closer so we could hide the body.
That was when an alarm went off, “FUCK! Keep the humans hidden, Doc and I can handle ourselves.” My brain froze time, trying to figure out what happened. Eventually, it clicked, heart monitors, a precaution not even Maerod took.
“Leave me out of it Smudge, I can handle myself too. You need all the focus you can get.” Tucker stepped up, aiming down sights.
The door bashed open before I could get my tentacles out. Turning, Tucker already faced the door, dropping people in one to two rounds a piece.
Turning back toward the dead body, I headed on, alarms blaring overhead. Bodies came and went. Despite how badly we’d apparently messed up the plan, I knew where the database was, and I refused to let anyone stand between me and it.
Each step I took was further than the last, “KEEP YOURSELVES SAFE, I’M GOING FURTHER IN!”
“Not without me you’re not!” Metal clattering rang out, “IMBECILE!” Doc caught up to me as I flung several bodies out of the way.
“Watch where you’re throwin’ em!” Tucker yelled out, “We shouldn’t split up!”
I was already at the staircase making my way down when something smacked across my face. Turning to my right, I saw a lanky man with his hands in his pockets. He was slouched as if bored.
“FINE, GO DOWN, I’LL MEET YOU THERE!” Swinging a tentacle at him, he made a popping motion with his mouth, the limb slammed into a wall. Shooting them all at him, he blew air out in a circle, then at me directly, lunging at me as he threw me off balance. He kicked me in the chin, then down on my head, knocking me to a knee. A second later I was thrown into the air, then to the ground.
“Damn man, you look like you could use a hand.” The strange man stood over me, offering me his right.
I took it, spinning him around, snapping his arm, and flinging him against the wall, where lay motionless. I stabbed him in the head, then the heart just to be safe. Scoffing at his arrogance, I headed down the stairway.
When I got down to the second basement floor, there were already several dead bodies strewn about. Everyone was hiding behind metal tables. Tucker injected Doc with something, sitting beside them was a heaving Smudge.
I put my tentacles away, and a sudden burst of gunfire came from the back of the wide-open office room. A few bullets hit me, but I was already too tall, they crumpled on impact.
“THEY GET AHOLD OF YOUR FORMULA!?”
“Fuck that’s loud, yeah, there was a leak a few months back! Doc ain’t doin’ so hot!”
“That’s, The Doctor, to, you.” He spoke each word with individual breaths.
Walking toward the guards, they panicked. With a thud hitting my chest, one of the men screamed, “We need you up here!” Looking down I found a pinless grenade, which I kicked, knocking one of the men unconscious. Bodies tumbled over one another as it exploded, sending shrapnel everywhere. A few pieces stuck in my face, but I headed straight for the room.
“YOU’LL WANT TO GET BACK! SOMEONE IS COMING FROM DOW–” The ground gave out from under me, falling a few floors, I was kicked into a wall in a dark room, aside from the hole. Landing on my feet, I looked around, rubbing my side. I felt something wet, where I’d been hit. Then I saw who it was. A scaly humanoid, each scale tipped with a tinted blue, serrated prong. His shadow fluctuated, then its eyes sprung open, and a black mist shot me. I blocked with my tentacles, but they were cheese to a grater.
“Kenet himself breaking in here? Must think you’re hot shit!”
I grunted, springing off the wall, using a shredded tentacle to slam the scaly man with a table. Sure enough, the mist formed into a shadow-walker, same as Jacob. I slammed my fist into his face before he could react.
“I NEED SOME LIGHT DOWN HERE!”
But the scaled man already rebounded, swinging his pronged fist at my face. I managed to block with my arm, but it was getting stiff.
“DOC, I NEED YOU!”
I heard Tucker to my left, “He’s still recovering, close your eyes!”
Before I could tell him I couldn’t close my face, a clinking sounded, and I saw a small metal canister roll into view. A blinding light took over, banging nine times, each followed by a flash. Then several gunshots.
Accepting the pain to come, I grabbed the scaled man, flinging him into the ceiling, dazing him. The shadow-walker was already dead on the ground, three bullet holes planted in his skull.
“Got any weaknesses on the other one? Never seen anything like him.”
“SKIN TRANSFORMATION, WE MUST WEAR HIM DOWN!”
The prongs tipping his scales had already shrunk considerably. Stumbling to his feet, he glanced down at the motionless skinwalker, “Goddamn.” His scales evaporated, leaving behind a hollow man, standing still, “Ju–”
Tucker put a bullet right between his eyes, “Didn’t have to ask buddy.”
As we turned to head back up the stairs, a thud reverberated from behind us. Turning back, Smudge lay, face first, and uncovered. He wore a full-body outfit ensuring no skin was revealed, but my concern was on whatever had dropped him down. Aside from the alarms, it was eerily silent. They landed on Smudge, hopping off, and kicking him into the wall.
The black suit was almost a fabric, but it was certainly mechanical. Parts at joints stuck out slightly, giving him mobility along with full body protection. At his neck, the material fluctuated, phase shifting at the slightest movement. The entire front of his helmet was a velvet red visor, the changed to a light blue when the light reflected just right. He had several weapons littering his body, including two hook swords, an unknown kind of pistol, a pump action shotgun, and a few others; all of which were as black as his armor.
I had to lean my head and chest down to avoid hitting the ceiling. I couldn’t move anymore, and Tucker looked a little nervous, “DOC! YOU ALIVE!?”
A German accent replied with a chuckle, “He was already dead.”
“Yeah, right.” Tucker said, “What’re you waitin’ for big guy?”
Shooting out my back, I held the odd man at tentacle point, Tucker readied his carbine, and the man retrieved his hook blades.
“Come, let me get this over with.”
Tucker stammered, “B-be careful.” He swapped magazines, “This guy is radiating like a human.” He fired a round, I felt it slide between two tentacles, and as it hit the man in the visor, an explosion errupted. I engaged, picking the man up by the leg, but before I could fling him, pain shot through it, the tip was sliced off. Tucker fired two more rounds, both exploding as they met their target, filling the room with a cloudy haze. I took a deep breath, forcing myself to move, but I felt like a turtle.
Suddenly, my leg ripped up, I held in place, stabilizing with a few tentacles, then smashed where a crack had formed on his visor, but he swung his other blade down, cutting it in half. A rapid succession of explosions slowly knocked the man back, and for the first time, he looked at Tucker, throwing one of the hookblades at him, it was angled for his face, but he snatched it mid air, then lunged at the man. He slammed the blade down on his shoulder, spinning it around and hooking the back of his arm, yanking him in, Tucker punched full force. In an instant, Tucker was against the wall, falling face first into the tile floor, leaving ceramic to crack the area around him.
The man chopped the last of my tentacles down as he approached me. When they were practically useless, he put the remaining blade away, pulling out the pump action shotgun. He shot me in the face six times before throwing the gun to his side. A small stream of black ooze dripped down my chin, and I had a hard time seeing anything in front of me.
“Damn, you’re one tough fucker, I’ll give that much.”
Pulling out his pistol, he proceeded to unload every round into my forehead, despite being ordinary metal, something about them kicked like a mule. When that gun was out, he dropped it, looking to his right, seeing where Tucker had dropped his gun.
“I wonder, how will you hold against explosive rounds? Not well?”
As he picked it up, I felt something prick my back, a familiar sensation made its way toward my heart, like organic WD-4D.
“You’re awfully quiet over there. Lost will to fight?”
“You’re an asshole!”
“Please, stop, I’ll shit myself.” He let out an antagonizing laugh, “You’re strong, but you’ve too much a stiffy going on there.” He let off a round into my face, nearly knocking me down, but I staggered just enough to stay in place.
“Wow, this has some nice kick to it, perhaps I’ll join the military after this.” He shot three more into my face, with each explosion, my skin peeled away just that much more, my brain rattled, but my limbs loosened.
By the fourth round, I regained some mobility, walking toward him. He stepped back, switching the gun to burst fire. I maneuvered around three bursts, only getting hit three times, each one in my torso. Those explosions seemed to boost the Doc’s serum, and I was able to grab the man by the head, crushing his visor with the palm of my hand. “You rely too much on your gadgets and luck. Neither will get you out of this.”
The helmet cracked, and blades shot out, slicing my fingers off. He pulled his remaining hook blade and slid under me. A sharp pain hit the back of my skull, then a cracking reverberated through my head. A metal clattering followed, and when I turned, the man stood there, shocked. He lunged back, throwing several kunai at my face, but I ducked them. With my full range of motion returned, I slung one of the tables at him, flinging him into a wall front-first.
Walking over to where he’d dropped Tucker’s rifle, I snagged it, and walked over to the man. He staggered back to his feet, a broken nose and a shard of ceramic sticking out of his eye. I held the gun to his forehead and fired, his head bursting like a pipe bomb.
I stumbled over to Tucker, dropping his gun beside him, and dropping to one knee. I smacked him in the face a few times, “You still alive?”
He rolled onto his side, “Kinda wish I wasn’t.” His face was covered in small cuts from the ceramic tiles, “Wish I’d had my Odyr suit, couldda kicked his ass. Fuckin hell what a dick.”
I sat beside him, “Hopefully he was their last line of defense, I think your gun gave me a concussion or something.” The room spun, my stomach on a Ferris wheel.
“Wow, the Doctor was right.”
I turned to the stairway, Xavier held Jones’s arm around his neck, helping him stand, “What happened, is Doc really dead?”
Tucker staggered his way to a standing position, “Nah, that stuff I gave him slows heart rate. He was too stupid to check for a full minute. He should still be alive, don’t worry.”
“And you two?”
Jones cleared his throat, “Smudge hid us, but he was worn down.”
Hearing that, I turned back to see Smudge, still laying flat. I stood, stumbling over to him, checking his pulse. It took a bit, but eventually, I felt a weak heartbeat. “DOC, YOU ALIVE UP THERE!?”
“I suppose!” He groaned.
“WE NEED YOU DOWN HERE! SMUDGE IS IN BAD SHAPE!”
A faint hint of a sigh made its way down the hole. I picked Smudge up, and moments later, Doc landed on the ground, a leg giving out from under him.
Some time passed, and we patched ourselves up as best we could before heading back up to the proper floor. Jones was able to walk on his own, but his right leg was in bad shape. I carried Smudge on my back, and despite Tucker’s several broken bones, he was walking just fine, occasionally stumbling from a torn tendon. As far as Doc went, the only sign he showed he was injured was his panting. Fortunately, we never ran into anyone else aside from the odd straggler, and we managed to grab the data we needed.
With the stressors passed, we laughed and joked, trying to bring ourselves back down from the adrenaline high. Exiting the building, I spoke up, “Xavier, I’m not going to forgive you, but I will thank you.”
He looked over at me, “To be fair, it was the Doctor’s idea.”
“That’s why I’m not forgiving you, anyone could’ve done it.”
“Oh, fair enough. Guess you could’ve done it too aye Doc?”
“That’s Doctor.” He let out an exhausted sigh, “In theory, but by the time I got around to it, who knows if Terry would still be alive. For a thin-skin, you did well.”
That’s when a limo pulled up through the gravel headed right for us, stopping just in time to not hit us, “Doc, wake Smudge, have him get you guys out of here. NOW!” I set him on the ground behind me.
“Well, I certainly hope he’s feeling up to it.”
“If not, you guys need to run.”
The back door opened, and a man in a suit stepped out. Pulling off his glasses, he tossed them in the back seat before closing the door and signaling the driver to leave. They couldn’t get away fast enough.
“Terry, son of Charles, I was under the impression you wouldn’t get involved with us. But after the Maerod incident, we decided we should implement additional security measures. Seems we should’ve invested more heavily into that. What was your intent here? If you had just called on Charles and told him about us, I’m certain he could’ve turned the entire building to mist.”
“If you know that, why’d you come to see for yourself, you can’t kill him. Or are you really that arrogant?”
The man laughed, “Because the alarm is still going off. If he had come, there would be no signal sending the alarm. You’re strong sure, but even three assassins managed to do this to you. Hence the difference between you mortals and us gods.”
“Didn’t realize living for 3000 years classified me as mortal.”
“You know, it’s interesting. Even after thousands of years, some still feel the need to attach themselves to this world. It’s as if they’re unaware of the insignificance of this world, this solar system, galaxy, supercluster, hell this universe! If you will live to see it all end, then what’s this part of it matter? They get animals to give themselves more meaning, call them pets. They feed the animal, water them, domesticate them, protect them. But they also prevent them from living in their natural habitat. Pulling the animal from where it belongs to give themselves a sense of purpose, it’s selfish wouldn’t you say?”
“Sure, I guess in a nihilistic sense.”
“So why are you here? To retrieve your pet? As I’ve said, there’s a transmitter in there, I saw what you pulled. Data on where your pet is. Why not just let him live in his terrarium?”
“He’s one of us now.”
“Due to your interference.”
“What are you really doing here!?”
“That’s the question of the day is it not? Quite frankly, I think Maerod was right to kill her. You’re far too attached to this world, though I suppose you are still a mere child. You could be so much more wise, and yet you refuse to allow it, you latch onto what’s been lost when you could focus on what you could have.”
“Sounds to me like you’re not quite past your own insignificance.”
He sneered, “Are you certain that’s your final answer?”
“I guess so.”
“Gods, the apple really does fall right to the roots.” The grass around him shriveled to dust when he charged me. Time stopped as the gleam in his eyes froze me, each fist pummeling me to the dirt, creating a deeper crater with each fist.
Then I was back in place, so was he. I’d never felt it so strong before, but I couldn’t deny the reality, he would kill me. Unlike Maerod, that man had absolute control over his soul, a feat all my attempts couldn’t achieve. All I could do was hold him off until I had an opportunity to slip out of his perception.
The grass around him slowly disintegrated, ready for his lunge, I leaped into the air, grabbing him mid-air with my tentacles and throwing him full force into the building. I sprung myself to the forest, latching onto a branch and engrossing myself in the tree, doing what I could to suck as much energy out. It wasn’t long before I was forced out. The tree crumbled to dust and I lept from it, charging the man with what little extra energy I had. He stood still, tanking four punches to his face. He kicked me back, nothing but a streak of blood running down his nose.
I lunged back searching for another tree. I found one a ways back, flinging myself at it, I fell into it and absorbed the tree’s power. I forced myself and found I could suck it out of other nearby trees. Until I was once again forced out, the trees crumbling in decayed mass, “You’ve gotten a bit stronger, Charles must be so proud.”
“What are you trying to achieve? Is losing your HQ really that important?”
He stepped toward me casually, “The same thing Maerod was trying to achieve, and really all the other gods in this disoriented country. However, no, killing you isn’t punishment for the damages, it’s for the audacity it took for you to do it. Entering my domain and destroying my primary facility? That takes balls, unfortunately, the rest was only a few inches.”
I tried to leap back again to gain a foothold, but all nearby trees crumpled to dust. Seeing no other way, I charged him again, but just as I came face to face, I spun and sidestepped, launching a single tentacle for the back of his heart, but on impact, it turned to dust.
“Unfortunately, the rest of you won’t be so easy to get rid of.” He turned, jumping, and once again, I met his bloodthirsty gaze. My skull cracked on impact, and when my head hit the dirt, a crater was left behind. He stood over me, “I’m gonna be on his shitlist for this one, but really, it’ll be worth it.” He pointed a finger gun at my head, and as the darkness closed in, three gunshots followed by a familiar light filled my senses, and when I could see again, his head was missing, the body still standing up-right, three bullet holes oozing blood at different angles...
I staggered to my feet, adrenaline keeping me awake. I looked around, seeing everyone but Smudge scattered around, “RUN! HE’S GONNA BLOW JUST FUCKING RUN!” I used my tentacles to move, sticking them in the ground and launching myself, then staggering to my feet. I headed in the direction the van was in, and a few seconds later, an intense blue light erupted from behind me, the shockwave hitting immediately after.
Part 26: Coming Soon!
Hi y'all! I placed an order from a seller on May 8 and haven't heard anything from them. The estimated delivery date was 23 May, but that has come and gone with no contact from the seller. I sent a message 2 days ago just checking in and radio silence. I've scoured the page and even checked the seller's insta and I don't see anything about being on vacation or anything like that. So my question for you fine people is: how long do I wait before requesting help from Etsy? I want to make sure I've done everything possible to give the seller the benefit of the doubt, but I also don't want to lose money. Any help is appreciated, thank you so much!
(Not sure if it matters, but the item is an enamel pin. The listing doesn't say "made to order" or anything like that, but I did ask the seller in my message because I know that takes time.)
I've been trying to make decks with my lesser-used cards and Orka is my latest experiment. The idea of this deck is to force my opponent to fight over the middle location, then win the others with a cheeky Orka and Namor.
Here's my list so far:
(3) Mister Fantastic
(4) Jessica Jones
(6) Orka eyJDYXJkcyI6W3siQ2FyZERlZklkIjoiT3JrYSJ9LHsiQ2FyZERlZklkIjoiTmlnaHRjcmF3bGVyIn0seyJDYXJkRGVmSWQiOiJRdWFrZSJ9LHsiQ2FyZERlZklkIjoiQ2xvYWsifSx7IkNhcmREZWZJZCI6Ik1yRmFudGFzdGljIn0seyJDYXJkRGVmSWQiOiJXYXZlIn0seyJDYXJkRGVmSWQiOiJKZXNzaWNhSm9uZXMifSx7IkNhcmREZWZJZCI6IkhvYmdvYmxpbiJ9LHsiQ2FyZERlZklkIjoiTmFtb3IifSx7IkNhcmREZWZJZCI6Ik5lYnVsYSJ9LHsiQ2FyZERlZklkIjoiS2xhdyJ9LHsiQ2FyZERlZklkIjoiTGl6YXJkIn1dfQ==
To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and paste it from the deck editing menu in Snap. I try to think of card choices in terms of packages, so here they are
Main Wincon: Orka, Namor. What the deck is built around. Ideally we'd play Namor right and Orka left, then stack mid with other cards.
Backup Power: Jessica Jones. I wanted another card that goes tall on the cheap and Jessica has done a pretty good job of that. She can contest a side lane decently well, or go mid if you follow her up with Namor or Orka in a side spot. I'm fairly happy with Jessica but she's also probably the most easily replaceable.
The Lure Package: Nebula, Lizard. Play one or both mid to keep the opponent from building up the other locations too high. If they don't fight over it, we probably win mid off these alone, so that's nice.
Team Players: Mister Fantastic, Klaw. Help contest the other locations without stepping into them. These cards make a huge difference.
Flexible Plays: Nightcrawler, Hobgoblin, Cloak. These cards allows us to contest other lanes in the early and midgame even if we plan to ultimately win that lane with Orka (Jeff would almost certainly be better than Nightcrawler -- he's currently pinned). Cloak is particularly important as it ensures we don't just lose vs. Debrii or locations that place cards.
Disruption: Wave, Quake. We're only planning to play one card on T6 so we might as well limit our opponent to the same thing with Wave. We can also drop Cloak alongside Wave on T5 for surprise swings. I originally threw in Quake just to grind some boosters for her but she's proven to be an incredible surprise play. We almost certainly want to play her mid anyway to keep the side lanes open for our wincons and shuffling up the locations usually hurts our opponent more than it hurts us since we only fill one lane while most decks want as many cards in each lane as possible.
Any thoughts would be appreciated! I've had some success with the deck in Infinite but it definitely feels like it needs something else to get to the next level.
Next Chapter 26 - Rest for the Righteous Last Time:
Aiden, Laran, Leor, and Oriwyn - under the employ of Arcadia - executed a daring plan to rescue Oxcard from the clutches of the crime boss Daisy. They managed to get to his room without trouble, but leaving proved to be much more difficult. Laran was cornered and forced to fight several thugs after being seen while skulking around Daisy’s compound. The rest of the party found him and made sure he won the fight but were unable to prevent one of the thugs from alerting the entire building to their presence. What followed was a harrowing flight from Daisy’s forces and Daisy herself. With Leor’s assistance, everyone was able to clear the building and run off into the night, but not without sustaining several injuries. The party made good their getaway however with their client and target in tow and, determined to stay ahead of Daisy’s reprisal, left the city of Tripit behind.
Daisy clutched my throat, the slashes across her face leaking crimson blood that pooled in her snarled teeth. She looked like a wild thing and had me both lifted and pinned to a wall as if I weighed almost nothing. I struggled to breath, kicking my legs feebly, until I suddenly woke up.
Laran was staring down at me. He looked very concerned and more than a little frightened. It took my brain another few seconds to adjust to our surroundings and fully shake off the nightmare.
All of us were arrayed around a clearing underneath hastily constructed tents. I could see Oriwyn crouched beside Ox, who was laying out in the middle of the clearing. Oriwyn’s nose was swollen and her green skin was mottled purple around it - her face looked a little crooked in general, but she seemed to be moving fine enough. Arcadia stood next to the pair, holding a fan and waving it at Oxcard’s face. Groaning, I sat up. Leor sat on a tree stump and glanced at me with a tired grin. Brams lay curled up by her feet, and every once in a while I noticed she would reach down and scratch his head while Oriwyn busied herself with Oxcard.
As I sat up, Laran’s concerned expression broke into a relieved smile so genuine that it made my heart hurt. I wasn’t even injured, yet here he was acting like I’d just gotten up off my death bed. My head still felt fuzzy, so when he held a canteen out to me I took it gladly and took a big drink of water. I granted myself a few moments of silence before getting down to the business of trying to lead again.
“Where exactly are we again? I remember slumping down on the road when Arcadia’s golem gave out, but I don’t really remember anything after that.”
Laran smiled and nodded. The sun shone down on his jade-green skin and helped burn away the remaining damp from the night before. Laran sat back and seemed to finally properly relax. As he did, I couldn’t stop my attention from being wholly drawn to him.
In that moment he was really, really good to look at. And listen to. And be around.
“Ain’t surprised you don’t remember much - we had a time a’ things for sure. Last night - g’morning by the way - a teamster named Alex found us and dragged our sorry hides to this clearin’ off the road. They didn’t ask much about us, though they seemed to get the impression we were in need a’ help something fierce. Right now they’re headed back to Tripit to get our stuff from the Sable Sky - I worked out a price to make it worth their time and delay, then they only accepted half o’ it - and we’re patching everyone up.”
I nodded thoughtfully and took another swig of water. As I swished it in my mouth I realized my throat felt raw as if I’d been yelling or screaming - I hoped I hadn’t been and that the raw feeling in my throat had been solely caused by stress. My mind flicked through a few things to say - I figured I was the Commander, and as bad as we all looked and felt we had still won - before I landed on a sardonic tone. It was time to celebrate with the troops.
“Well everyone, good work. Sorry for sleeping in - I need my beauty sleep much more than the rest of you!” I grinned in what I hoped was a confident way. Oriwyn laughed a bit - it sounded like it hurt her a little to laugh unfortunately - while Leor just snorted. My tone and face shifted to sincerity as I continued.
“More seriously everyone, I think we did it. I think we won despite the odds. How is Oxcard doing?”
I glanced at Arcadia. Tears welled in her eyes and I could tell she was furiously blinking them back.
“Ox is okay, or stable at least. He keeps on breathing and Ori thinks she’s finally managed to fully stem the bleeding.” Arcadia looked down, worried, at her brother. Oriwyn smiled up at her and stood, wiping her slightly bloody hands on a cloth she had on her person. The goblin-mouse reached over and patted the taller woman’s shoulder.
“He’ll be right as rain, especially when he wakes up I think. He’s really quite deft with a needle - I’ve seen sloppier stitch work on people’s pants than he managed to do to himself.”
The ghost of a smile touched Arcadia’s lips as she gazed down at the sleeping Oxcard.
“Yes, he’s always been good with needle and thread. He was the one who kept our clothes in good repair when we were growing up, and unfortunately this isn’t his first improvised surgery. Ox is a survivor. He’ll pull through.”
I noticed, but obviously chose not to comment on, the quiver in her voice when she said that her brother would pull through. I looked him over myself - he seemed to be breathing evenly, and there were some bandages tied around his whole torso that were yet to be spotted with blood, so that seemed like a good sign at least. Satisfied, I turned back to address the group as a whole.
“Can I get a status report from everyone? How are we all doing?”
Laran immediately answered.
“I thought you might want to know! For injuries, I’ve received a small cut on my torso. Arcadia has some pretty bad gashes on her left palm and right forearm. Oriwyn is bruised and her nose was broken - Leor snapped it back in place a few hours ago when Ori started having some trouble breathing, so it looks pretty nasty. Speaking of Leor, she has some burns on her hands from her stunt with the lightning, but Ori managed to find some weird plant I’d never heard of that’s been helping with the pain. Finally, Brams got something of a cut, but it isn’t very deep. It is on his wing though, so as it is healing he will need to be careful about moving too much.”
I nodded and thanked Laran for his report. He looked pleased with himself, and I resolved to thank him privately later for helping me lead the team. All in all, we had gotten off relatively okay. All of us were alive and we had managed to achieve our objective. I took a moment to savor the victory before my mind stumbled into the next inevitable question.
I sighed as I began to contemplate the question. We likely couldn’t go back to Tripit since Daisy knew what we looked like. Leor might be able to chance it since she’d been outside the whole time, but even then I didn’t think any of us were in a hurry to test that theory out. As another consideration, Arcadia had been through a lot with us, and I felt like I needed to address that fact before too awful long.
“Arcadia, what’s your plan? Or what was your plan? Because I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we don’t want to go back to Tripit any time soon.” I said it with a laugh, but Arcadia looked anxious. I suddenly realized what I said could come across as accusatory. “Hey, it’s not your fault. We knew what we were signing up for and we all did it willingly.”
“You shouldn’t have. Glad you did though.”
The voice was scratchy and strained, husky and rough. We all whipped around to see Ox’s head slightly raised. He had a hand up to shade his eyes from the sun. As we stared at the newly awakened orc, Arcadia sank to her knees and started crying what I could only assume were happy tears. Oxcard grinned thinly and shuffled back, bracing himself against the pillow that had been jammed under his head in an attempt to sit up a little straighter.
“Come on Arcay, get over here.”
Arcadia shuffled over to Ox, nearly crawling. She wrapped him in a gentle hug, careful not to disturb his wounds. He raised his arms and wrapped the human-shadeling in a hug. Her head nestled against his shoulder and she whispered something. The rest of us tried to give them what space we could. When Arcadia broke off the hug and sat back on her haunches, the white spots of skin on her face near her eyes were splotched red with tears. She turned to the rest of us.
“I cannot thank you enough. You all did what no one else was willing to.” It looked like she was searching for more words, but was having a hard time coming up with them. “We cannot thank you enough.”
Ox nodded low in an approximation of a bow.
“Assuming we’ve put enough distance between ourselves and the city, I think we’re safe for the moment. I should be ready to move on by nightfall.”
Oriwyn made a sound like someone lightly stepping on a chicken, a sort of strangled squawk with a burbling undercurrent thanks to her nose.
“Nightfall? As in nightfall tonight?!? As in you’re going to get up and walk tonight?” Her tone was incredulous, and I inclined to agree with her. Oxcard was clearly still not okay, and even if he could walk I didn’t think it would do his stitching any favors. Arcadia just smiled and stood up.
“Okay, we can get moving tonight if everyone else is okay to move. I’ve got a few golems here, and this time someone will be awake enough they won’t rip themselves open trying to get away from someone who is trying to help them.”
It was amazing how quickly her tone changed. She had just been tearfully hugging him, and now she sounded wry and sarcastic at her brother’s antics like he was a six year old who had brought her a mud pie or something. I shook my head in wonder - none of the rest of us in the party had siblings as we all were only children. Obviously Arcadia and Oxcard had not been born to the same mother - my rudimentary knowledge of how the birds and bees worked with the ancestries in Tala indicated as much - but still, they acted like how I thought siblings acted, and they obviously shared a deep bond. It felt good to have that dynamic around, as if it were something the rest of us might have been missing as a group. Shaking myself out of my reverie, I decided to make an announcement.
“I’ve been thinking, and I wanted to offer the two of you a chance to join our group.” I looked around at the existing members of the party, and they all nodded happily. Oriwyn nodded so aggressively she winced as the movement jostled her injured nose. Arcadia and Oxcard looked at each other. I hastened on to add more.
“You don’t need to decide now of course. Actually, if you’ll have us, I was going to ask if we could accompany you to wherever you planned to go Arcadia. We should be safer in a group if any part of the road is likely to be treacherous, plus new company is always a good thing.”
Oxcard said a few quiet things to Arcadia, who said a few quiet things back. I tried not to listen in despite my burning curiosity. Oxcard shrugged and said something else, and then Arcadia turned back to us all.
“My plan was to go to Diareen. It’s a trade city out towards the northern edge of the province. It’s not as big as Tripit, but I figured it would be big enough that we could find something to do.” Arcadia’s face fell a bit as she continued. “Also, I figured that having the river boats as well as the roads would make it easier to escape if Daisy caught up with us.”
The mood in the clearing soured as Daisy’s name was uttered, but after a few seconds Leor did her best to break the tension.
“Diareen, huh? Can’t say I’ve heard of it before, but it sounds like as good a plan as any. I vote that we follow along with Arcadia.”
There was a quick chorus of agreement as the rest of the party also expressed their support of the plan. We hadn’t spent long in Tripit, but we hoped this would also work well for us - we figured we could look for work as guards for a river boat or something. The only thing I was certain of was that it would be a long time before I accepted another rescue mission unless I absolutely couldn’t avoid it. I still felt a little nervous and jittery from the night before, and despite feeling mostly better the memory of the nightmare hung around in the back of my mind like the aftertaste of a bitter plant.
With our path being decided, I perked up and pushed down the previous night’s terrors. I felt a trickle of energy flow into my limbs and looked around the campground properly.
“Okay! With that being said, let’s make preparations for travel. How long is it to Diareen, Arcadia?”
Arcadia stayed kneeled next to Ox. As she spoke I noticed that she looked very tired - this whole ordeal had taken a huge toll on her, and it was beginning to show. I hoped I could convince her to take it easy for a bit. Regardless, she thought for a moment before giving me an estimate.
“About three weeks unfortunately, unless we get very lucky and the teamster is headed that way. Also at some point the road will go by the river so we could try and catch a river boat - they aren’t fast, especially since they’d be headed upstream instead of down, and we would need to pay our way, but we wouldn’t need to walk!”
I nodded, not particularly relishing the idea of that long spent traveling but resolved to its necessity. Leor spoke up with a question.
“Are there towns on the way? I don’t know how we’re doing with money exactly, but three weeks is a long time. We will definitely want lodging and we may even need to stop to take on work.”
Ox answered as Arcadia was trying to remember the route.
“Though Arcadia and I haven’t left Tripit much, I’m aware of some of the routes and where they lead. By my reckoning we have four or five small villages and two places big enough I’d call ‘em towns. Could be worse.”
I nodded, relieved. If the places that Ox had mentioned were spread out relatively evenly, that would be a village every few days - that felt a lot better than the ten day trek from Eightside to Tripit. With a grin, I stood and stretched.
“Well, I’ve been asleep too long today as it stands. Let’s get things prepared around here so we can head out tonight!”
There was a flurry of activity afterwards. With much protest, we managed to convince Arcadia to lay down for some rest. Despite her repeated insistence that she wasn’t tired, she was asleep within a minute of laying down and slept almost until nightfall. Oxcard also lounged, drifting into fitful bouts of sleep. As they rested, the rest of us tried to get things shifted around and packed as best we could. Most of our stuff had been at the Sable Sky since stealth had been so paramount to our mission, so we would need to wait for the teamster - Alex - to get back to actually be fully ready to go.
In addition to packing and resting, Oxcard, Oriwyn, and Laran took another go at closing Oxcard’s wound. I made the mistake of watching them remove the old stitching and had to stumble away to get sick in a bush. Eventually, I got the all-clear from Laran and came back into the clearing. Oriwyn had a bucket full of bloody rags that she was going to take to a river and wash. Leor volunteered to go with her, and the two of them left. Meanwhile Oxcard was sitting propped up fully after some time to recover and looked a little better, though redoing the stitches had obviously caused him pain. By the time Alex returned, Oxcard looked like he might actually be healthy enough to walk.
We still didn’t let him of course.
I talked with Alex a bit, thanking them for their help and making good on the price that they had haggled down from Laran the night previous. They offered to give us a ride, which we gladly accepted, and helped us pack our bags up as well. In return for their kindness I offered whatever services we could render to make their journey more comfortable. They accepted, though both of us knew there wasn’t much we could do to help. We learned that Alex would be able to take us as far as Squat’s Hollow - about a third of the total journey - before needing to attend to their own business, which was about as lucky as we could reasonably hope to be. As night began to fall, we had everything loaded on the teamster’s wagon, including Oxcard. Just in case, Oriwyn went ahead of the impromptu caravan to check for any of Daisy’s goons, but seeing no one, we made our way out to the road and started on the next stage of our journey. Elsewhere
: The large man was on his tiptoes trying to reach the top of a shelf, straining to get the can of beans down. Frustrated, he rocked his weight back down onto his heels and glared at the beans disdainfully. With a sigh, he called for his wife to help him out, hoping she wasn’t busy with customers. As his wife opened the door, he reflected on how lucky he had been to find her - she was kind, warm, smart, had a great way when dealing with people, and was taller than him by at least half a head. The man didn’t know why he liked tall women, but he knew he certainly did and fate had seen fit to imbue this lovely giantess with everything else he had been looking for in a partner. She immediately saw the offending can and got it down for him, taking a quick moment to give the man a quick kiss on the tip of his nose. A goofy smile spread across his face as she turned back and closed the storeroom door, returning to the desk at the front of the building. After all, Yada’s combination inn, bath-house, and general store was the only thing in the woods for miles, and someone would always show up eventually.
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I've been listening to those guys with the amped up radios who bullshit on 27000 kHz range transmitting thousands of miles but usually I can only hear half of the conversation.