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How would you run ship to ship combat for 300+ entities?

2023.03.28 13:04 Hellflinger How would you run ship to ship combat for 300+ entities?

Wall of text warning; tl;dr at the top.
Question: how would YOU represent a party of 5 adventurers, with ~70-130 trained individuals backing them up, fighting ship to ship vs ~200 highly trained enemies after grappling and boarding on the open ocean?
TL;DR The current solutions are taking too long and playtesting each idea takes a long time. Many of the ways to shorten time have their own problems, or remove otherwise viable playstyles. Looking for input from others who have had the same problem. First post here so taking pointers on formatting.

The setup:
  1. Platform is roll20, external character sheets
    1. Problem: Roll20 is really struggling with the scale of the problem, being best case about 100 units across 4-6 level ship dungeon crawls on maps 30*75 or larger, i.e. not what roll20 wants to handle.
  2. System is Pathfinder 1e heavily customized, (~12 years accumulated houserules, Spheres of power content, and other custom subsystems) hence no in-built sheets. The houserules are about neutral on playtime, but as a result there won't be detailed character breakdowns.
  3. What story: Divorced third-stepchild of Skulls and Shackles, which may have dimly recognized its kin in the first few sessions, but not anymore.
  4. What happens? Ships see each other, close distance, sometimes duke it out and sometimes immediately close to 'boots on the ground'.
    1. Ship to ship approach and battle time is fine.
    2. Problem: Boots on the ground combat is taking FOREVER despite streamlined and heavily macro'd rolls. Players are a mix of experience levels, though none are outright green.
Playstyle details:

  1. Rewards/keeps valid all player playstyles
  2. Accounts for equipment and skill of allied and friendly units
  3. Takes a 'reasonable' amount of time
  4. Doesn't slow roll20 to a crawl
  5. Doesn't triple my workload as GM

Proposed answers:

  1. Stock: Campaign book AP says don't even run the encounters as simulations, run PCs vs captains and lieutenants on the deck, that's it.
    1. Good: Time short, roll20 runs better.
    2. Bad: No simulation of crew skill levels or counts. Very little variety of enemy play, no point in designing custom ships for the PCs to battle on, then use later. Necro playstyle not represented. Thing, TWG and BC shred single targets, even if AOE is disabled due to friendlies. That's assuming I still rebuild every single enemy.
    3. Feedback: I refuse to run this, players would steamroll; all counters seem unrealistic.
  2. Players vs the world (PVTW): Ran a few ships of just the PCs vs all of who are onboard. Great for a dungeon crawl, but how many before it gets boring? About 4 it turns out.
    1. Good: simulates players vs the world stealth missions, maximum loot drop, high fulfillment.
    2. Bad: performance, time, boring as a result. Doesn't account for friendly crew skill.
    3. Feedback: It's okay sometimes, but party is advancing in levels too quickly for campaign.
  3. Reduced troop count: As PVTW, but with 1/2 to 1/3 of enemies plus officers.
    1. Good: better performance vs above; abstractly represents friendly crew existing, not their skill
    2. Bad: all the same problems, but a bit faster.
    3. Feedback: It's strictly superior to PVTW, but the problem still persists.
  4. Troops, modified: Enemies and Friendlies (not PCs) are bundled together in 12s and act as one creature. Details of HOW after evaluation.
    1. Good: Performance due to fewer tokens, speed due to reduced count, friendly skill represented.
    2. Bad: rogue playstyle nearly invalidated or forced to one strategy, GM vs GM balls of stats are boring to listen to, movement between floors is tricky to simulate.
    3. Feedback: Untested; trying this next session to see if it's better due to player vote. More overhead, hopeing it's faster.
    4. How: as troop creature type, they attack everything in reach, then shoot in two lines from their squares. Not like troop type: they 'roll' distributed dice , i.e. 20 of them would roll 1, 2, ...20 each turn, then deal minimum (or less) damage to applicable targets for each roll which would hit. In practice this means you get the target's AC and deal damage according to a table. It rewards higher AC without overextending playtime.
  5. Troops, modified, player-led: as above but players customize and make troop decisions.
    1. Good: Seemingly more player agency and tactics better represented on a wider scale. Rogue has options.
    2. Bad: takes longer than above
    3. Feedback: requires more overhead from players, but will be suggested if option 4 goes well next session.
  6. Mass combat, modified: Calculate the differences in positioning and stats for crews, simulate damage using mass combat or troops until friendly troops would disperse, field what's left of enemies + officers. In practice this is done pre-session or expediently using tables, then run ~1 encounter per deck with officers and extra enemies.
    1. Good: performance, speed, crews represented. Random placement representing half a battle of movement keeps encounters interesting.
    2. Bad: too much GM arbitration (arguably), forced narrative cutscenes. Party likely to steamroll.
    3. Feedback: This is as close to stock as it could get and be acceptable.

Which strategy would you use or do you have a better one? (1-6, Stock, PVTW, PVTW reduced, Troops, Player troops, Mass combat -> stock)
Answers to easy answers:
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2023.03.28 12:42 vickyjensen11 Streamline Financial Woes with Automated Invoicing in FSM

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2023.03.28 12:25 carlaobjj123 How Can I save Money the Most while Moving House?

Moving can be a stressful and expensive endeavor, which makes it important to find budget-savvy ways to relocate. One of the most cost-effective methods to move is by renting a moving truck – this option can be much cheaper than hiring a professional moving company, plus you have the flexibility of doing the packing and unpacking yourself at your own pace. While many people opt for friends or family to assist with their move, you should also consider tapping into your existing contacts for other forms of assistance. Ask around to see if anyone you know has boxes available that they’re not using, as well as any packing material or furniture blankets they could donate. Friends or family members may also offer services such as helping with packing or loading and unloading items from the truck – all you need to do is provide them with snacks, drinks and a hearty “thank you”! By thinking outside the box and leveraging your social network for help, you can move without breaking the bank.

How can I move without spending a lot of money?

How can I save money the most while moving house?

If you’re like most people, saving money is a top priority when moving house. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to save money on your move. In this blog post, we’ll share some of the best tips for saving money on your move. From hiring a cheap movers to DIY packing, follow these tips and you’ll be sure to save big on your next move!

Get multiple quotes from different moving companies

Shopping around moving companies for the best deal can seem like a tedious task, but it is necessary to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Don’t sign on with the first company you talk to – take your time and get multiple quotes from different moving companies. With today’s technology, there are many platforms available for moving quotes online that are simple, quick and even instant. You never have to leave the comfort of home or make any phone calls in order to compare moving services and prices from top-rated moving companies near you. Collecting moving quotes can be straightforward and hassle-free by utilising moving companies websites today!

Rent a storage unit for your belongings that you don’t need immediately

Renting a storage unit for your belongings is a great option for those who don’t have the necessary space at home. It’s also a great way to keep the items you don’t need immediately but would like to have within reach when needed. Plus, rent activities such as moving vans are relatively inexpensive and make transportation of goods to and from the units easy and efficient. With rentable storage units all over, you never have to worry about not having storage available when and where you need it, making this a stress-free option for your storage needs.

Have a garage sale to get rid of unwanted items

Hosting a garage sale is an effective way to get rid of unwanted items in your home. It’s a great recycling opportunity that encourages others to reuse things they may find at the sale. After sorting through your things, you can price them as you wish and watch as they’re taken off to their new homes. You might even opt to donate any leftover items or connect with a recycling services company so they can be properly disposed of. All in all, it’s a fantastic way to declutter and make some extra cash while helping keep our environment clean!

Pack your own boxes instead of paying for professional packing services

If you’re getting ready to move, you might be considering professional packing services. However, there are a variety of advantages to packing your own boxes instead. While professional packaging services may seem slightly more convenient, they come at an extra cost, whereas packing your own items helps you save money. Additionally, when you pack your own boxes, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to organize the items in a way that makes sense to you and thus making unpacking much less of a hassle. Packing your own boxes ensures that your belongings will be safe and secure for the duration of your move. So if you’re looking for an efficient way to move without breaking the bank, do-it-yourself packing is the way to go!

Ship items that are valuable or sentimental to you ahead of time

Moving to a new place can be an exciting and daunting event. Just one of the many things you need to take into account when relocating is how you will pack and move your belongings. Shipping items that are valuable or sentimental to us ahead of time eliminates the stress of worrying about them during the move. Not only does this minimize our anxiety, but it also ensures that these important items arrive safely without getting damaged or lost in transit. This can save us a great deal of money and hassle in the long run.

Don’t move during the peak season when rates are highest

Moving is an expensive proposition, especially during peak season when rates are highest. But cheap moving companies are out there and you just need to know where to look for them. Shopping around for the best rates and doing some research can help save you a lot of money. Don’t risk going with the first rate you find – it pays off to do a little more digging and compare deals from different companies. Even if it takes you a bit of extra time, don’t move during the peak season when rates are highest – this will help ensure that your relocation doesn’t damage your wallet.
Conclusion: Moving can be expensive, but with a little bit of ingenuity and preparation, it doesn’t have to break the bank. We hope these tips will help make your move as smooth and affordable as possible. If you have any other tips or advice to share, please let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, if you need a reliable and affordable moving company, be sure to check out MTC Removals. We offer competitive rates and top-notch customer service, so you can rest assured that your belongings will be handled with care. Thanks for reading!
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2023.03.28 12:14 mdanonomy21 Follow-up diary: I am in my mid-30s, work in nonprofits, and make $125k a year ($180k joint). This week we found out we need to cash flow $11,000 worth of dental procedures in 2023, and I still spent $396 on spring things. 🌱✨

Hi friends! I submitted a diary in February 2021 that you can find here! Since then we’ve sold one house, started higher-paying jobs, moved states to be closer to family, rented a kind of busted house, bought another charming fixer-upper of a house, and given in fully to lifestyle creep, especially when it comes to plants and gardens.
❤️ Section 1: Assets and Debt
Total Net Worth: $108,763 if you believe the equity calculator I reference below. Negative tens of thousands if you think the housing market is about to crash or even just reset!
Retirement Balance: $10,000 for me, split just about evenly between a Roth and a 401k; $25,500 for my husband, L. This will make more sense when you get to the “income progression” section, and after you accompany me as I spend money like I have money to spend, every day.
Savings Account Balance: $17,000 split between an “upcoming house repairs & dental fund.” The first $7k is spoken for already between a big chimney repair ($3k) and an expensive upcoming dental appointment for L ($4k), both in April. The remaining $10k we don’t touch – it’s for an emergency fund.
Checking Account Balance: About $1200. I try to keep this pretty low to discourage my own spending, which works only sometimes.
Credit Card Debt: $12,100 left from our home renovations and move last October. We got two 0% APR cards to finance this, and will pay both off before the APR jumps at the end of this year.
Student Loan Debt: $80,000 for L’s undergrad and MAT. $18,000 for my undergrad and (unfinished, womp womp) MAT. We aren’t paying on this til we have to, and are hoping it will be forgiven – mine via Biden, since I was a Pell Grant recipient, and L’s via PSLF.
Equity: $145,000. This number is from an online equity calculator, and is for our century-old house in a very walkable neighborhood in a popular Southern city, but who knows whether it’s real or not. Numbers that are real: We paid $575,000 for the home last fall, including a 20% down payment that my dad split evenly with us – his portion from his recent inheritance, our portion from the sale of our previous home.
When we started looking in 2021, our “stretch budget” was $450k, but the housing market exploded and it seemed like overnight the base budget for kind of place we were looking for was more like $650k (I’m committed to city living, and we wanted to make sure there was enough space for my sister, J, and her boyfriend to continue living with us, given the skyrocketing rent prices). We bit the bullet on this place after my dad offered to pay for half the down payment. That gift helped us avoid PMI, so that the rent we were paying for a worse place was comparable to the monthly payment on this one. We spent the remaining $15,000 from our previous home sale buying down the rate and on moving costs, repairs, furnishing, gardens, appliances, etc, and then still took out about $12,000 more in credit card debt to renovate the bathrooms and make a few other upgrades.
❤️ Section 2: Income
Monthly Take Home: My base pay is $125,000, and L’s is $55,000. We bring in about $11,400 a month after taxes. The whole family’s health insurance is paid in full by my work, and our pre-tax retirement contribution details are below.
Income Progression: I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, moved out at 18, and paid my own bills starting that year, but income below starts the year I graduated college.
Year 1: $15,000 (part time ABA therapist, full time baby anarchist)
Years 2-8: $28,000 (This is a rough average of my income across these years. I accepted a spot in Teach for America right out of college in order to have a salary, despite my maximalist politics at the time, and kept working with young people for years after my TFA service ended. I paid for L’s expenses in college and supported a few other family members off and on while I taught. When I took a big pay cut to do youth organizing work for a couple years, L’s teacher salary helped support us).
Year 9: $45,000 (got a full-time nonprofit fundraising job, quit teaching)
Year 10: $55,000 (got a raise)
Year 11: $65,000 (got a raise and promotion)
Year 12: $75,000 (was promoted again, realized I was still underpaid)
Year 13: $98,000 (was hired by my current employer)
Year 14: $125,000 (was promoted!)
❤️ Section 3: Expenses
Mortgage, Taxes, & Insurance: About $3,000. My sister and her boyfriend currently live with us and contribute $600 of this total payment each month, but we budget as if we pay the full mortgage ourselves.
Investment Contribution: L’s retirement is pulled out of his check before he receives it: it’s $289 a month. I put $170 into my 401k, directly out of my check. I also contribute $100 to a Roth IRA through Acorns each month. Through Acorns we also have a UTMA/UGMA account for B which gets $100 a month, and we put $40 a month into a taxable brokerage account.
Savings Contribution: We tally an extra $1.5k-$3k a month beyond expenses, and are expecting $6k back from our tax return this year. But we aren’t prioritizing savings right now, and instead are: 1. cashflowing L’s timely dental work (found out in the course of this diary that we’re looking at about $11k this year); 2. paying down the debt on our credit cards ($12k, see above); and 3. cashflowing a few must-do house projects (estimating about $8k for those).
Debt Payments: See above! As I mentioned, we have student loan debt to the tune of $100k but aren’t paying right now. I actually paid my loans down by $10k during COVID with money from our first house sale. But I panicked when Biden said he was going to forgive loans and got my full payment during the pandemic – all $10k – reversed. That money is now our emergency savings account.
Electric/Gas: $150ish, varies significantly. We installed a high-efficiency wood stove when we moved in, which cuts down on the cost of our old furnace a bit.
Internet: $80
Water: $75
Cellphone: $100, for L & I both
Subscriptions: $10 Spotify; $10 Youtube music; $2.99 Apple data; $22 NYT, for newspaper and cooking app; $5 for Acorns. I also pay yearly: $40 for the Freedom app, $20 for Hobnob, and $60 for Insight Timer.
Car Payment and Insurance: $200 for insurance. This covers both of our used cars and my dad’s used handicap van. We paid off our 2012 Honda Fit when we sold our last house, and recently paid cash for a Honda CRV with 180k miles which we use for family trips.
Medical/Therapy: $0. My therapist is $181 a session, and I see her twice a month – but this is covered by my job’s MERP card. I also get an inhaler at least twice a month - that’s reimbursed too, but would cost $60 otherwise.
Pet Expenses: Our precious pittie suffered some injuries before we adopted her. She’s on Gabapentin daily for pain management which is about $60 a month.
CSA: $40/week minimum – this is a special CSA service that has all kinds of tempting goodies, so I usually spend more.
Coworking space: $150. I expense $100 of this to work.
Gym memberships: $75 for a family Y membership, and $120 for my spin studio; I also buy 10-packs to the yoga studio down the street every few months, which are $120 a pop**.**
Donations: Varies. We give $10 monthly to our local Democratic Socialists of America and $10 monthly to the Working Families Party. We give one-off donations when asked or when we come across a need, usually $50-$100 at a time. Once we have less immediate debt, I plan to up our recurring gifts.
Childcare: $600. B goes to the best public preschool in the land – he was on the waiting list for 18 months. We previously paid double this for a subpar Montessori school run out of a church basement. Often babysitting is an extra $100 or so a month.
Kids’ Activities: $120 every three months or so – think swim lessons, toddler soccer, etc.
Outdoorsy memberships: $110 yearly for memberships to nonprofit parks, botanical gardens, etc etc. These are not too expensive and a fun way to spend a day with little ones.
House cleaner: $320. They come twice a month and charge $160 each time. This is some of the best money I spend each month.
Nuuly: $94. This has been a gamechanger for work travel.
❤️ Section 4: Money Diary
5:00 am: I wake up wheezing with two pudgy legs draped right across my chest. My three-year-old, B, gave me a cold that I’ve just recovered from, but my asthma is still a bit aggrieved. I disentangle myself from B and head downstairs to make a french press and get some work in before everyone’s up.
6:30 am: B comes running downstairs, naked and boisterous as ever. I spare a thought for my little sister, J, and her boyfriend, who share a wall with him. J and her boyfriend have been living with us since the deep pandemic when we all moved together, which has been a blessing for us. But the early mornings and constant circulating upper respiratory infections are doing them in, and they’re moving to a nearby apartment in May. This very basic one-bedroom will double their monthly rent D: And, since J is finishing up school right now and doesn’t have a steady income, L and I had to cosign their lease in order for them to even qualify for the place. Big sigh on housing across America right now.
7:15 am: B and L head out, and I get dressed and do a little more work. At 8:30, I head to my first-ever dermatologist appointment. My mom recently treated me to a mothedaughter facial where I learned that the creeping redness on my nose is likely hereditary rosacea! The facialist suggested I make an appointment with a dermatologist after I informed her that my skincare routine has to date involved only a wet rag and a heavy moisturizer.
The dermatologist suggests a gentle papaya cleanser; a phyto vitamin c serum; a rosacea triple cream; and a moisturizing sunscreen. The cost for the appointment itself ($150) is covered by my MERP card from work**,** but I pay for the cleanser, serum, and sunscreen from his office ($141) and the rosacea triple cream from an online pharmacy ($49) out of pocket. Thus begins my first-ever skincare routine. Sadly, the dermatologist’s proprietary packaging is ugly, so if you use something similar but cute, please share a link.
10:00 am: I’ve walked the dog, made another cup of coffee, turned on Freedom, and am settling into my laptop for a day of toggling between Google Docs and Zoom rooms.
12:30 pm: M barks rancorously as I’m wrapping up a Zoom call. The Tubies I ordered last week for me (and B) were delivered. It’s SPRING and we are about to eat SMOOTHIE POPS, everybody. It’s also time for lunch, so I heat up this very yummy soup (we subbed veggie sausage and it worked well) and toast a piece of focaccia. I read “I Went On A Package Trip for Lonely Millennials” while I eat. It is every bit as unsettling as it sounds.
1:40 pm: L calls — B has had diarrhea at school and needs to come home. B’s preschool is in the public school where L teaches, which means L handles all pick up and drop off, but my work schedule is much more flexible than L’s so I often do early pickups like this one. I shift my afternoon meetings, notify my direct reports that I’m signing out early, and stop for gas on the way to pick up poor little B. ($40)
4:30 pm: B and I spent the afternoon doing quiet things together – he took a bath, played with toys, and watched some PBS Kids, and I took a few minutes to tie up some loose ends at work. When L gets home at 4:30, we set up the sprinkler on our tiny front “lawn” (currently actually a patch of very-tilled dirt), where we recently seeded low-growing wildflowers.
6:00 pm: I want to drink wine with L while we make veggie fried rice for dinner, but think better of it given that I just got over a cold. L offers to make me a hot toddy (yesssss) but then realizes we’re out of lemons. He and B head to the grocery store around the corner while I finish up dinner. They get lemons, a lime, and a giant bag of lollipops for L’s students. ($11) The hot toddy is delicious.
9:00 pm: B’s bedtime routine is a wrap and my new skincare routine is complete – turns out my face does feel cleaner after a cleanser! I take a nebulizer treatment and read my favorite book that has completely transformed my life, Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts, until we turn out the lights. Goodnight!
5:00 am: I wake up wheezing deeply again. I head downstairs to eat a cold banana and take a prednisone left over from the last time my asthma was aggravated by a cold. I decide to sit for a little Sarah Blondin meditation by the woodstove before I start my early-morning work block. Lesson 8 in this course is my go-to, and is alone worth every bit of the yearly Insight Timer fee.
7:00 am: B and L are awake, but B is staying home from school today so things are a bit slower. I make a mango smoothie for B and then add kale and protein powder for L and I. At 7:45 I don my favorite lilac workout onesie (I have it in black too) and head to my spin class.
9:00 am: I am but one month into spin classes and totally enamored. The dark room and loud music extremely do it for me. After class I stop at the coffee shop next door and buy a big drip coffee to split with L, a sticky bun for L and B to share, and a bag of coffee beans cause we are almost out at home. ($28)
9:30 am: Take a quick post-spin shower while I listen to Iris Dement’s new album, which serves the sound I grew up on and a very earnest progressivism that reminds me of my parents and their sweet Boomer friends who care deeply about abortion access and post anti-racist memes on Facebook. I cover my body in Warm Feelings, spritz on Winter (the best), wriggle into some cheetah-print overalls, and head down to work until L leaves in about an hour and a half.
12:00 pm: My meeting with my boss ran over so L had to leave for work while I was mid-call. I extricate B from Disney+ (we use J’s login) and receive only a moderate tantrum in response. After some breaths, B lays on his blue rug and pretends he’s eating his lunch (a mango pop, grilled cheese, & berries) in the shallow end of a swimming pool. Pre-nap, we read Gabito, a recent fave, and B’s eyes flutter closed during the last few pages. Back to work!
3:30 pm: B comes running into my office but I need to wrap up an important task, so we listen to superhero stories together while I tappity tap. It’s raining out, and L isn’t due home til 6p, so I make a gametime decision to spend the afternoon doing one fun inside thing for me (pick out berry bushes for our garden!) and one fun thing inside thing for B (ride rides inside the mall near the garden center!). B and I gather $2.50 in quarters for his rides, and he dons his Ironman costume and rainboots for the occasion.
At the garden center, we pick out two triple crown blackberry bushes, two chandler blueberry bushes, one heritage everbearing raspberry bush, and, after a quick phone consultation with L, one black tartarian cherry tree. L loves cherries and is very excited to use them in his cocktail-making. We also pick up a galvanized steel watering can since my old thrifted one keeps leaking all over the floor when I water my inside plants. The total is $253. Because I am very excited about this purchase and it’s for our house, it counts as free in my heart.
4:30 pm: B and I are the only nerds in the mall wearing KN95s and clutching quarters in our fists. So far B has purchased a ride on a train ($1) and some tiny banana candies ($.50). He settles on a very exciting race car for his final four quarters – but the greedy car eats his money!!! ($1) We are both very sad, and start searching for a ride that might take a debit card. Then, suddenly, to our left, appears a LEGO STORE. B dashes in and we find that you can build your own tiny Lego person. He happily obliges and I spend $5 on a three-inch-tall Lego man with a spider face and a big helmet.
6:30 pm: Back at home, L and I discuss our most exciting news of the week – L’s youngest sister and her partner arrive at their new apartment in our city TONIGHT! They’ve been living several states away for years. L’s whole family lives in the area and we are all thrilled these two are coming back home. L, B, and I plan to help them unpack tomorrow, and I think we should take them a gift. L heads out to the bottle store down the street to buy two bottles of Morphos (one for us!) ($52), and then goes to the grocery store to buy White Claws and some pull-ups for B. ($25) We could save more money but life is for living.
Dinner is leftover fried rice, and B doesn’t fall asleep til 9. L and I take our favorite CBD gummies before bed and I read the “soft fruits” section of Down to Earth to prepare for our big planting this weekend.
🌿 DAILY TOTAL: $365.50
6:00 am: I wake up late today – I had trouble sleeping because I couldn’t breathe all night. I make my favorite smoothie for breakfast (which is something like this but incorporates protein powder and frozen kale and cayenne), L eats oatmeal, and B eats two mango smoothie pops plus a cereal bar. They leave around 7:15 am and I get myself together to walk the dog before heading to my coworking space for the day.
8:30 am: I pack up my stuff and ride my bike to my pretty coworking space. The sun is out! It’s spring! The trees are blooming! Everyone is glad.
1:45 pm: I heat up fried rice and drink some of the on-tap kombucha. While I eat, I read Today in Tabs and consider adding it to my monthly expenses so that I can read it more. Our cleaner texts that they’re done at the house, and I Venmo her $160 (included in monthly expenses).
3:10 pm: I decide to bike home before the final Zoom call of the day. I cannot stress enough how glorious it is outside. It’s also glorious inside, thanks to our fabulous cleaner.
Post-call, I make some smol avocado toasts and L calls to say his sibling is not in fact up for a visit tonight – they are whelmed by boxes. We pivot: bike ride to the playground! While at the playground, B is the first kid to hear the ICE CREAM TRUCK approach. Chaos ensues and we spend $5 on one scoop of cookie dough ice cream.
7:00 pm: For dinner we make mini pizzas on TJ’s cauliflower crust. I also make asparagus with a delicious flaked salt left by my bestie the last time they stayed over, and the result is pretty enough to text to them. L makes us gin fizzes with strawberries and with mint from the garden. 🌱
8:00 pm: Teeth brushing is always a slog with B, but on this night I am visited by a stroke of genius. Tonight, I explain to him that the tooth fairy has been hired for a residency at our place and is listening in while he brushes his teeth and uses the potty. If he does a good job, she’ll leave him a coin somewhere in his bedroom. L overhears and makes tooth fairy sounds (think tinkling giggles) from the hallway – B is delighted and brushes his teeth with aplomb. This is a big win! While he uses the potty, I steal away and hide a quarter under the toe of his stuffed Spiderman. He requests tooth fairy bedtime stories and falls asleep listening. ($.25)
🌿 DAILY TOTAL: $5.25
6:00 am: Another late wakeup for me. I have a spin class at 8 and a packed workday, so I make my favorite smoothie again and walk M while it’s still dark out. Afterwards, I help B with his teeth brushing/potty routine, and it continues to be so much smoother than ever before thanks to our friend the tooth fairy. This time, L stashes a dime under B’s stuffed bear. B proudly puts the dime and last night’s quarter in his coat pocket and, as I buckle him into his car seat, announces he is NOT sharing his money with his teacher today. I suppose the discussion about whether money should be treated as a public good or a personal asset can come later. On the way to school, L stops for gas. ($25 for gas, $.10 for the tooth fairy)
8:00 am: I arrive at the spin studio and learn that the teacher I expected overslept. His sub unfortunately leaves half the lights on and plays lots of Eminem. I survive the weird vibes and head home for a quick shower before work – no coffee shop stop this time! I am a disciplined and frugal Recessionist millennial.
10:15 am: Our CSA is delivered! It includes spinach, heirloom tomatoes (!! new this week!), apples, lacinato kale, meyer lemons, limes, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, red onions, shishito peppers, and mixed cherry tomatoes, plus a delivery charge, for $63, $23 more than the monthly minimum I included in set expenses. I fetch it from the sunny porch and am reminded that urgently want a pair of white platform Birkenstocks for spring. I find a pair in my size in EUC on Poshmark and buy them now: $60 with shipping, a steal compared to $110 new!
1:00 pm: My delightful neighbor and I take lunch together! We walk to a nearby eatery where I get a tempeh reuben and diet soda (my vice), $18 including tip. Over lunch we discuss parenting, gardening, her upcoming major home renovation, and how squirrels can sometimes relocate crocus bulbs. Meanwhile, B and L have early release at school so they head to a kid’s play place as a special treat to B. ($23 with snacks)
3:30 pm: B is home early but, curses, I still have much work to do! He and L chill while I tappity tap for a while longer. I eventually wrap up, but will have to do more work over the weekend.
L wants to work in his shop for a while, so B and I take the bike to the playground. He is a very good friend at the playground, running around happily with a couple of 7-year-olds he’s never met and then, when they leave, chatting amicably with an 18-month-old and his parents. He periodically begs me to let him take his pants off so he can better pretend he’s in the pool. The answer is no, but he is shirtless, shoeless, and covered in “tattoos” (washable marker), and I think that’s a pretty good compromise.
7:00 pm: Back home, L is making dinner (avocado tacos!), and I announce to him that we need a few more spring items: new (unscratched) oversize sunglasses and a beaded eyeglass chain for me, and little kid Tevas for B. I use my dad’s Amaz*n to buy the glasses and chain for me ($20) and three pairs of Tevas for B to try on. They’ll only charge us for the ones we keep, which will be $21.
L and I spend the evening drinking the Morphos he bought earlier this week and hanging out with J and her boyfriend. We turn on the AC for the first time which reminds us that we need to get an HVAC repairperson out here to check out some weird details of the old AC system our inspector caught. I mentally add it to my to-dos for the week.
We get B in bed late again – around 9 – and we watch Schitt’s Creek til almost 11. We will never tire of re-watching this show.
🌿 DAILY TOTAL: $185.10
6:45 am: I wake up breathing easy today! Blessings, prednisone; blessings, springtime.
8:00 am: L and I make eggie toasts with heirloom tomatoes, and L reveals that he had a long-awaited budget chat with the medical hospital where he’s been getting dental work done. They’re estimating we’ll need to spend an additional $11k this year to get L’s teeth in order. This kicks off a Big Conversation, during which we realize we absolutely need to be spending less than $8k monthly in order to cash flow his teeth, cash flow our must-do house projects, and pay down our cards by end of year. This should be doable, in theory, but will be a big adjustment as for months we’ve been splashing out on everything from gifts to travel to furniture to tools to fabric to support my baby-clothes-making hobby. As the conversation drags on, tension rises, and we’re both mad at each other but not sure why.
After a few breaths, I realize: we are just launching big numbers back and forth across the room, completely unmoored! I offer to make us a big fancy draft annual budget with monthly projections and schedule a date night to review. HOW FUN! L obliges after I convince him that I actually, truly, want to do this, and I find a very nice budget template on Etsy. ($20)
10 am: I run down a hill and across a parking lot to yoga, and slip in some vom along the way. Meanwhile, L and B head to the gym together.
12 pm: I take our e-bike (the one we’ve been riding around all week) to the shop and tell the bike guy that the lights and the breaks are in rough shape. He tells me they’ll fix it up, but that we should consider replacing it with a Yuba Spicy Curry which is $5200. I think not, but in my heart, I do really want to sell this one and buy a RadWagon or a Blix Packa Genie. Ebike moms and dolls, send thoughts.
When I get home, L heads to Aldi and spends $125 on berries, lots of bananas, eggs, rice, oat milk, oatmeal, snacks for B, frozen berries, fresh broccoli, yogurt, and a bunch of other stuff including Aldi swag that he is very stoked about: a matching pullover, socks, and tumbler. He then goes to Ace Hardware and buys s’mores sticks for use with our fire pit and some light bulbs ($37). B takes a nap and I plant the berry bushes and cherry tree while he snoozes!
6 pm: We head out to dinner to celebrate the big move with L’s sister and her boyfriend. It’s a long walk to our favorite taco place, but a beautiful day. B rides his pink scooter and is very cute, but reader, he is a spirited child and today he is having A Day. We field multiple meltdowns and lots of not-listening on the way to the restaurant. Dinner itself is delicious, though, and we watch the sun set over the water as we eat. It’s $58 with tip for the three of us, including a coconut margarita for L and a watermelon sangria for me.
5 am: Up and thinking about parenting. L and I had a long conversation after B fell asleep about what we could do differently to help him manage his emotions. He’s a big child in size and in personality – at 3 he’s wearing size 6 clothes and talking as much as any child that age too. He has big joy, big wonder, big imagination, and also big anger and big sadnesses. We’ve tried to follow Janet Lansbury’s teaching since B was born, but at times gentle parenting, which Janet teaches, has seemed too lax for B. I decide to return to her work anyway. I read the transcript to her newest podcast episode, and wonder if maybe we’re overengaging with B’s big feelings. Then I read this one about another child struggling with aggression, and am glad that B is at least not spitting, I guess?
10 am: B’s morning is going great after all, and we decide to pack a lunch and head out for a hike. B makes himself a ham, cheese, and hummus sandwich, and I make L and I veggie sandwiches with pesto. We happen upon a plant sale on the way home and L approves a “Fuzzy Mystery” peperomia for our bathroom. ($8) Afterwards we drop off my Nuuly at UPS (prepaid!) and head home to watch a movie while it rains. I do work things and start our new annual budget spreadsheet during the movie.
5 pm: J takes a walk with us and M the dog to a playground nearby, and while we’re out, our neighbor texts to suggest once-a-week family dinners on Tuesday (yes please!). For dinner tonight, I make Smitten Kitchen’s tomato sauce with onion and butter using the heirloom tomatoes from our CSA and it’s very good as always. L and I drink some Pinot with dinner, and B eats his spaghetti with his hands.
9 pm: My anxiety (her name is Esther) visits while I’m putting B to sleep, so after he’s down, I decide to get to the bottom of a few things via Google. As usual, this is a bad idea! I walk to bed crying and lay on L’s chest. I cry a lot more, including about the trailer for You Hurt My Feelings which I saw three days ago, and about how scary it would be if L were to die, and about how L’s parents’ best friends’ lives have never been visited by tragedy and is that possible for us too?
Therapy is on Tuesday, everyone! We will make it.
6:30 am: I wake up later than I wanted to after a fitful night. B was coughing a lot (post-nasal drip, ick), and I was thinking a lot. I have back-to-back calls today with lots of prep beforehand so I get dressed quick and grab a pre-made smoothie from the freezer for breakfast. B and L leave at 7:15; I light my Gardener candle and tuck in to work.
1:00 pm: Lunch is fried rice with a chonk of a Trader Joe’s milk chocolate hazelnut bar, yum. I eat on a call but politely turn off my camera.
4:00 pm: B and L are home and I’m still wrapping up. On the way home, they picked up some natural honey cough syrup stuff for B ($12).
6:00 pm: L and I drop B off at the Y childcare, and find out they are hosting a spring break camp for 3-5 year olds. L wants to build B’s long-awaited tree house over the break, so we sign B up for four days of camp. Very cute! And also less than half the price of other camps in the area. ($100)
6:15 pm: I check the NYT as I start up the elliptical and am sent reeling by news of the school shooting in Nashville. I try to distract myself with The Crown. Unfortunately, Princess Di is really going through it, so the distraction is a bust. I turn on Sarah Blondin’s Learning to Surrender meditation instead, and listen to it twice. I’m trying desperately to trust the universe but the hellscapeness of it all makes that difficult sometimes.
Life marches on anyhow: After our workout, we head to Trader Joe’s to buy the items Aldi didn’t offer over the weekend (fancy bag salad, plantain chips, challah, frozen greens, a Galia melon, a few other things), plus a lot more broccoli because we need it for the tofu and veggies we’re making with the neighbors tomorrow. I love this peanut butter tofu recipe, in case you’re looking for one. ($31)
8 pm: We three look at videos of baby B over dinner, and L says maybe he is ready for a second. I think I am too.
adrienne maree brown posted today,
put your attention on suffering – which is constant and everywhere – and it is all you will see. joy will come, and laughter, but you will find it brief, possibly a distraction.
put your attention on joy, being connected and feeling whole, and you will find it everywhere. your heart will still break. you will know grief. but you will find it a reasonable cost for the random abundance of miracles, and the soft wild rhythms of love.
return to love as many times as you can.
❤️ Section 5: TOTALS
Total Expenses: $1228.85
Food & Drink: $376
Fun & Entertainment: $130.85
Home & Health: $557
Clothes & Beauty: $101
Transport: $64
❤️ Section 6: REFLECTION
This week was spendy for us between the plants and the skincare routine – but I’d say we usually have at least one week a month where we spend like this. I know that needs to shift if we’re going to pay for all the things we need to pay for this year without drawing from our life savings. I’m also aware that N’s student loan payments will likely resume, and that having a second baby isn’t cheap – so I’m excited to finish our budget spreadsheet and treat it like a goal rather than a suggestion (I currently track our spending obsessively in Mint but treat the budget limits like unsolicited advice).
I do like everything we spent money on this week, though, and feel very lucky to be able to cover so many wants and needs in a given week. Thanks for reading!
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2023.03.28 12:00 WaveOfWire One Hell Of A Vacation- Chapter 58

First Prev Next Royal Road
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The slight rustle of the dense foliage could be hard as he stepped, two of the pack frowning at him as he sheepishly gestured his apology. The mono-deer that they were tracking perked its head up to look around, the singular eye carefully scanning the surroundings.
The slightest twang of a bow sounded from a tree nearby, the arrow lodging itself just below the neck of the animal. A mortal wound, though not instantly fatal. The deer tore into the forest, blood drops leaving a trail.
Joseph exhaled and lowered his crossbow to unload, the tension from readying to fire it lost now that someone else had gotten a shot off before he could line up something useful. Jax quietly chucked at his reduced enthusiasm once he dropped from his perch, lightly patting the Human’s back and gesturing for him to follow.
“Worry not, Grand Hunter, your specialty resides in taming the wildest of Lilhuns rather than hunting beasts.”
Joseph gave him an unimpressed glare until he couldn’t maintain it, a smirk playing underneath the facade as he navigated the rough terrain. “When you asked if i wanted to join you hunting, i thought it would be a little less...” He glanced to the other two of the pack whom were tracking the animal, one inspecting the path it took while the other kept their bow ready in case something was to hunt them back. “Public.”
Jax dismissed his concerns with a paw, his other idly adjusting his bandoleer of arrows and crossbow bolts, though the male didn’t bring his crossbow this time. “They have not synchronized yet. It is of no concern if they hear us speak.”
He raised a brow at the Lilhun. “Something on your mind?”
The male hushed him as the two doing most of the work signalled that they had closed in on their quarry, both bows drawn and ready. Joseph peered over one of their crouched forms to see the deer stumbling as it changed direction, a moss-wolf some distance nearby prowling low in the brush while blending into its surroundings. A look to the others confirmed that no one else had noticed the moving moss, so he patted Jax on the shoulder, receiving a questioning expression and repetition of the gesture to remain quiet.
A second inspection of the wolf proved to be a wise decision, the beast having caught their scent and changed targets to check out the other source of food that was somewhat closer.
“Jax.” The Grand Hunter hissed quietly, successfully gaining the male’s attention. He pointed to the low-laying animal, though Jax raised his brow in response. A huff was given as he loaded his crossbow and aimed it, pausing to allow his breathing to steady along with his heart rate. One of the other hunters noticed, scowling at him for the breach in stealth.
Sure enough, the deer noticed the more rapid movements of the Human as the weapon was brought to bear, the prey taking off again into the trees. The hunter who was about to complain turned to argue with Jax on his behalf, the action being all the wolf was waiting for.
Joseph’s crossbow recoiled in his hands, the string snapping from the impulse as the animal took to the air. The corpse of the moss-wolf crashed down just inches behind the whining male, the startled expression turning into a slight shock as he noticed the bolt barely protruding from the head of the creature that was going to turn him into its next meal. The Human frowned at his weapon, dejectedly clipping it to his armour with a sigh.
Jax looked back and forth between his Grand Hunter and the eliminated threat, a low chuckle being generated when the stunned male who was saved weakly pointed towards where the deer had run off. Permission was given to head towards it, but not to stray too far. “Perhaps the ‘hunter’ part of your title suits you better than we suspected.”
Joseph crouched next to his kill, the bolt proving too difficult to remove. “I have no idea how you guys didn’t see a moving moss patch.”
“I am surprised you are so calm.”
The Human paused his attempts to free his ammunition, a contemplative expression taking over as he scanned the air around him. A few blinks broke him from his thoughts as he reached a conclusion. “I guess because I’ve been under guard from you guys for so long that i got used to having help if i need it.” He looked over his shoulder to nod at Jax. “Thank you, by the way.”
The black-furred male smiled. “I am honoured you put so much trust in one such as i.”
Joseph shrugged. “You, and whichever one of the girls up there is keeping tabs on me today.”
He turned around as he stood, abandoning the retrieval operations to see Jax looking around cautiously. “Ah, right. You can’t smell that.”
Jax became slightly more distraught. “My injury prevents it.”
A regretful wince crossed the Human’s face. “I meant Lilhuns can’t. Here.” He let out a two tone whistle, though both notes were rapid and close together in pitch. A black shadow dropped from a tree next to Jax, startling the male. “Calm down. It’s one of Trill’s girls.”
The Head of Security kept a tight grip on his bow as he stepped closer to Joseph. “You have these Blades simply following you?”
He shrugged, not overly concerned anymore since he had spent quite a bit of time idly watching them during his visual scans for Tel. They were pretty good, but he knew why Tel called them ‘dull’. Unlike his most recent addition to his circle of affection, he could hear them on occasion, and they often chose hiding spots that weren’t the best. It could be a result of lesser skill, or maybe he had just gotten good at finding them. “Like i said in the base; you get used to it.”
“Do you not fear they will target your life?”
A skyward glance preceded the thought. “At this point, I’m kind of tired of worrying about it. Besides, they listen pretty well, and Tel seems to have some serious pull with them.” A second shrug was given to confirm his apathy. “I’ve taken to thinking of them as a secret security force or something.”
Jax looked him up and down for a moment, releasing the breath he had been holding as he turned his attention back to the Blade, the latter dutifully kneeling towards the Grand Hunter with their gaze buried in the ground. “What proof do you have they are obedient?”
“What proof do you need? They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to so far, minus taking proper breaks. Pretty sure I’d be dead ten times over if they wanted.”
The male raised a brow at his annoyance, banishing the thought as he audibly mused what might be sufficient. He turned to Joseph with a grin. “Perhaps asking them to disrobe? No disloyal assassin would part with their shadows and weapons in such an environment.”
Joseph stared flatly at the Lilhun. “You just want to see her naked.”
“I am ensuring your claims are valid.”
“I’m not telling a woman to strip out here for something as benign as that.”
Jax made a show of looking hurt. “Surely you do not think of my motives as impure!”
“Jax, I’ve spent the last 3 weeks with someone who looked at me like a piece of meat to be eaten. I know that look in your eye.”
A paw was waved. “Tel is hardly an example of an upstanding citizen.”
Joseph snorted, approaching the stilled Blade and crouching near their height. “Fair.”
Jax watched him as the Human placed his hand under the female’s chin to raise her face, the impassive expression not budging as she offered no resistance. A dagger was removed from her holder on her hip, Joseph waving it towards Jax.
“Pretty sure that letting me take their weapons wouldn’t be the best idea.”
“Or they wish not to fight multiple opponents.”
The Grand Hunter huffed, standing and pulling the Blade to her feet gently, the knife returned with the handle in her direction. “Just ask her to grab whoever is free to come help drag these two back.”
Jax did as requested, obviously curious as to what the Human meant by ‘two’ until the other hunters quietly dragged the deer through the brush. “You will need to practise a communication method if you are to command a shadow force.”
Joseph sighed, rubbing his temple with his thumb before brushing his hair back with his fingers. “Honestly, just knowing your damn language would help a shit-load, even if i couldn’t pronounce half the words.”
The male hummed for a moment. “I believe you would be able. It may be accented, but it would suffice.”
“The question there is ‘how badly accented?’. You all have the translator tech to help you out and Sahari still sounds french. You sounded... I want to say German. Harrow got off mostly clean there, though.”
“Oh? What of your mates?”
Joseph cringed at the plural. “Tel worked out any transition before i heard her speak it. Pan... Honestly? Pan kinda sounded... I don’t remember, actually. I’ve gotten pretty used to how she speaks now.”
Jax shook his head. “Regardless, it would bode well for you to study as much as your kit.”
A glance was given, the Human feeling pride in his adopted daughter as he watched the other two hunters lay their catch next to his own to take a break. “I guess i could ask you guys for lessons or something, but everyone’s pretty busy with the settlement. I’d feel guilty if i tried to drag you out of what you need to do for something that stupid. Plus, i am absolutely shit at learning that kind of thing.”
His black-furred companion patted his back, leaning in to speak quietly into his ear, the deep bass of his voice rattling him somewhat. “What if i were offering to teach you some things your mates might like to hear during the moons?”
Joseph felt his face scrunch in distress as he worked to parse the meaning of the suggestion, a smirk breaking the expression in time with the stunned laughter. “Are you trying to motivate me to learn Lilhun so i can talk dirty?”
Jax shrugged. “Perhaps not so directly, but i can fathom a phrase or two that they might appreciate to hear from you.”
He blinked, giving the male a skeptical examination. “Not typically my thing.”
“Would you wish to learn how to tell them how dearly you cherish them?”
The smile answered for him. “That doesn’t sound like a terrible motivation. I’d want to keep it a surprise though. Well, that might be hard to do if it takes forever.”
“I am teaching Violet.” Jax offered casually. “It would not be much effort to include yourself.”
“And i could help her with her English writing while you try to hammer it into me, yeah.” He raised his eyebrows in consideration. “Yeah, okay. If i could bother you with that, I’d appreciate it.”
The male shook his head at the grateful look. “I have stated before, Joseph. You are my Grand Hunter. I will do as you command.”
“Not commanding you.”
“And yet, i treat it as such. If it will benefit the one whom spared mine existence and led me to accepting the affections of my bond, then i shall do all that i can.”
Joseph defaulted to the mild annoyance he felt whenever they took his ‘role’ too seriously. “Jax, at this rate I’m going to think you have a crush on me.”
Jax tossed on a disbelieving expression, his voice overly dramatic. “Oh woe is me! Does this low one’s love not satisfy you? Mine mate! You may have mine mate if i may only have your heart!”
A firm tap to the stomach was enough to stop the theatrics, the rumbling laughter at odds with the soothing rubbing the male applied to the effected area. “A simple ‘no worries’ or ‘not a problem’ would suffice.”
“But then i would be barren of the opportunity to displease you.”
Joseph nodded, his thin smile eased by the genuine levity in his eyes. “Figured as much. One of these days Harrow is going to be sad that you keep offering her.”
Jax huffed in amusement. “Does she not do such herself?”
“I try not to take you two seriously.” He quickly dumped that train of thought into the nearest black-hole, changing topics to encourage the process. “What made you start teaching Vi anyway?”
“I have done as much for my younger siblings.”
Joseph raised a brow. “No ‘den’ or ‘blood’ prefix?”
“They are kits of my blood-mother, though most do not share the same sire.”
He thought about it for a moment. “Fair, i guess. What was home like for you?”
Jax stepped to the side, taking a seat on a log while they waited for whoever was going to come give them a hand. “My den? Simple, if i were to say.”
“Simple? You end up on a military vessel after working years in security, and that had no catalyst?”
The male chuckled. “One does not always need a tragic beginning, Joseph. My den was simple. Four den-fathers and a single den-mother. We lived too far to be a part of a larger den, so my exposure to such was little more than what i have seen on my travels.”
“So what sparked the career in security?” Joseph prompted with a passive curiosity.
Jax tilted his head slightly as his ears maintained some semblance of vigilance, his focus on the conversation but still maintaining awareness. “Two of my den-fathers were in similar roles. They would tell us stories of their time on this planet or that site, often embellishing the roles into tales of epic proportions to entertain us before the moon grew too high.” The Lilhun smiled softly. “I suppose i wished to become the same. If not for the glory that they imparted upon their retelling, then to pass along my own tales to my kits.”
Joseph nodded, a wistful expression following the explanation. “So you wanted to do awesome shit so you could brag to your kids, huh? I can understand that.”
The male spoke softly, noticing the longing hidden under his voice. “Violet is a wonderful kit to have, Joseph. I fear i have began thinking of her as my own as well.”
He cycled a deep breath, a smile tugging at his lips. “She’s the ‘den-kit’, Jax. She’s all of ours, in a way.”
“That much is true, my friend.” Jax agreed with warmth to his eyes. “What of your parentage?”
“Mine?” The Human asked in surprise before humming in thought while he tried to summarize the important parts. “Mom worked as a receptionist for a pharmaceutical company before she got sick. Dad worked at whatever he could, eventually taking a construction job for the Union after mom passed...” He exhaled as the memories of his father’s funeral without a body still lay somewhat fresh in his mind despite how long it had been. “He was really excited to be off the planet, mom had always wanted to go. I got a letter a few months after, explaining what happened when he didn’t come back on time.”
Jax took the news sombrely, his face showing that he sympathized with the pain of loss. “My own blood-mother passed shortly before this deployment.”
“Sorry to bring it up.”
The Lilhun shook his head. “Worry not. It was a natural departure to the Great Hunt. She raised many young and loved them all equally. She was a fine female who made each of her kits feel her embrace.”
“Your dad...s... still alive?”
“Two are.” He clarified passively. “Though they have since found new love for their retirements. I have not personally met their mates, but i trust that my blood-mother has imparted a high standard in them.”
A light snort was returned, the comfortable smile on Joseph’s face easing itself into place. “Brothers and sisters?”
Jax chuckled. “I am near the younger of the progeny, only three are less.”
Joseph shook his head slowly. “Too many for me. Rob gave me enough headaches.”
“My kin are kind. We have had our disagreements, but we hold each other fondly nonetheless.”
Joseph bobbed his head to concede. “That works. Think you’ll be able to get in touch with them when we get off this rock?”
The Lilhun fell silent for a while. “Perhaps. I know not of their deployments.”
The Human found himself wrapping an arm around the massive male’s shoulders to pull him into a side hug, Jax doing nothing but accepting the affection from his seated position. “We’ll get in contact with them at some point, okay? I’ll see if Rob or Sil can figure something out, get in touch with your family.”
Jax nodded quietly. “I worry now that i may have grown too used to this.”
“Why’s that.”
A mirthless huff escaped the male. “Friends are sparse in my previous field of work, as much as the current, i suppose. One would need to relocate before any connection may take place. It can be a lonely endeavour.”
Joseph felt that he had more to say, opting to rub the guy’s shoulder to show that he was ready to listen. Based on Jax allowing his weight to rest against him, the message was received.
“When i... The moon that i assaulted... The moon in which you spared me.” He started again, stumbling over how he wanted to frame his thoughts. The Human patted his friend in reassurance. “I worried that i may lose those that i began to feel closer to. Pan, i am ashamed to admit, was not a concern of mine at the time, though i realized after that she had begun to be a part of my pack before i was willing to accept. I wanted to keep them safe.”
“I know buddy, i know.” Joseph continued his light rubbing on Jax’s shoulder, letting the male get whatever he needed to off his mind.
“Now i find myself fond of each of you. Pan has developed to be a fine Paw, Sahari seems less burdened by her past, Nalah has softened her edge, Tel has become manageable.” He chucked at that one. “Harrow has become my mate, and although Violet is not my own, i feel the same fulfillment as if she were... I fail to find a depth to this gratitude i have for you, yet you keep giving me more to be thankful for.”
Joseph paused, squeezing Jax tightly as he absorbed what the male had to say. “You guys are my family, Jax. All i can say to that is...” He inhaled as he tried to find the words, exhaling once he succeeded. “You matter to me, buddy. I care about you.”
Jax met his gaze, his left eye dulled and less responsive to the light as his right focused on the scars around Joseph’s. An opened mouth failed to voice a thought, a soft huff causing it to be abandoned in favour of a second. “We have quite the unorthodox relationship, no?”
The Human gave the male one last squeeze before parting, a laugh joining the action. “Yep. That we do. Now if we could get past you asking me to join you two in bed then we might have something to call normal.”
Jax rose to his feet as two more of the pack returned, the slight tint of peppermint signalling the return of the Blade. “You have befriended and lead a people who you were unaware of before this. I believe normality has long since departed.”
“Not going to drop it, are you?”
Joseph sighed, joining the convening group to ready the results of the hunt for carrying. “Fuck off, Jax.”
“Of course, Grand Hunter.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
They returned to the settlement after a few hours, a break being taken part-way to give those who were pushing the smaller carts a chance to rest their legs while Jax and himself took over once they got moving again. The gate, having never really held a massive door in which the name would suggest, had become something of a topic amongst the construction team as a wolf had wandered in at some point. Luckily, it was noticed by Nalah and Sahari before it had the chance to do much besides startle some people.
This also had the side-effect of causing the blond-furred female to seek him out once he walked within the walls.
She approached, prompting him to pass off the cart to someone else so that they could bring it to the hunter’s lodge, the subtle golden stripes running down her body contrasting with the leathers she wore often whenever she was being more hands-on with whatever was being built at the moment.
They hadn’t really spoken since the morning, Tel’s mark being a point of contention and then a mention of a bath house being their last proper interaction before Harrow dragged him off to be physical tech support. There was a slight worry that something would be brought up again, he wasn’t really looking forward to reiterating how little he minded the whole ‘mark’ thing now that Tel had more-or-less been accepted, but he would if it came up.
A skyward glance occurred as he struggled to come to grips with how smoothly his new... Mate? Girlfriend? Bodyguard? Assassin... Mate. How smoothly his new mate entered into the pack dynamics proper.
“I suppose your hunt was successful.” Nalah mused as she watched the group cart off the two corpses, her expression exposing that she was at least somewhat impressed. Joseph shrugged, following the gaze for a second.
“We need to work on awareness. A wolf got way too close and nobody noticed.”
She raised a brow. “Is anyone injured?”
“Nah.” A lazy shake of his head was the most emotive he could have been about the matter. “I put a bolt into it before it could do anything.”
The female furrowed a brow skeptically, her eyes scanning his face. “I would have expected you to be rather worked up after something like that.”
“Jax said the same thing.”
She shrugged. “It is what we have come to expect. Previously, you would have insisted on extensive defensive measures and caution.”
The Human exhaled, rolling his eyes in contemplation as his weight shifted to his other foot. “Yeah, i guess. I don’t know. Been facing death too often to worry too much about it at this point.” A frown appeared as the words left his mouth. “That’s concerning.”
Nalah slapped his shoulder with a laugh, the impact off-balancing him. “You have sought an assassin for your bed, Joseph. I would say you are trying to lay with the Void rather than fight it.”
He rolled his eyes more genuinely this time, a smile and a slight blush of embarrassment ruining the attempt to seem annoyed. “Ha. Ha. Very funny.” Nalah smirked at his displeasure as he continued to whatever brought her to him. “So what’s up?”
Her expression remained smug for a moment before she shook her head and pointed off to a rapidly developing framework for a building that was partially blocked from view. “We are progressing on the bath house first, since you seemed to be interested in the project and the pack were in favour, and i would like your more direct input while others craft a suitable solution for the gate.”
“Sure, i guess.” He answered, not entirely sure what he could have to offer to professionals and the woman who literally designed the layout of the village. She liked to run ideas by him, but that was mostly just formality, right?
A firm nod was returned, Nalah placing her paw on his shoulder and leading him to the site.
The skeleton suggested that it was going to be a sizable building, if nothing else, though it was just the exterior and basic layout that was framed. The orientation suggested that it would be a single entrance with a split to the dedicated baths by gender.
It was a slight oddity to him. Lilhuns had no issues seeking out recreational sex, and as far as he was aware, they didn’t really care about being naked in front of others, but that might just extend to others in their den or pack.
“Hey, Nalah?”
He paused to think if he should even ask the question, mentally sighing when he remembered that they would likely answer whatever he asked, regardless of how personal it was. “How is nudity viewed in your culture? You guys didn’t seem to really care until clothing became an option.”
She gave him a confused look, smirking once she finished processing his query. “Do you miss seeing our forms, oh venerable Grand Hunter?”
The female dodged his weak attempt to tap her arm with his fist. “I’m happy without the distraction, thank you very much.”
“Oh, so it is pleasant to see?”
He ignored her, a chuckle returned.
“It is not preferred, if that is what you are asking.” She answered after her amusement wore off. “Besides the basic utility and protective qualities, we do value modesty. Though, that is quite fungible within the confines of the den.”
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye as they walked, a step avoiding a placed marker for future construction. “So you guys don’t mind as much within the base?”
Nalah hummed, her tone suggesting he was only partially correct. “Privacy of one’s den will influence it, yes, but it is the people where it truly matters. I, for one, would rather not be bare if i can help it, but i also wouldn’t put much thought into it if i were to be such around our own.”
He nodded, understanding where she was coming from. It wasn’t much of a stretch to be naked around people who spent the better part of a year seeing you like it. Not like there was anything left to be embarrassed about at that point. “I can see that.”
“Yourself?” She asked passively, killing the time while they crossed the expanding village.
“I hate it.” He noted aloud, though it was mostly him voicing his opinion rather than thinking about it. “In company, anyway.”
“Would it ease your mind if we were as well?”
He shot her a doubtful stare, the placid expression on her face showing no ulterior meaning to her offer. “I’m pretty sure I’d be stared at or assaulted.”
Nalah snorted, nodding at a Lilhun who seemed to be taking a break some distance from the nearing construction. “As you viewed our forms?”
A blush took to his cheeks. He was going to argue, or even just deny, that he had inadvertently taken more than his fair share of time noting the similarities of their builds to the human counterpart, but the attempts died in his throat. “Sorry.”
A jolt to his back stopped his self-chastisement. “We are a different people. It is understandable that one would be curious.”
He cleared his throat, desperate to jump topic before it got to questions he would rather not answer at the moment. “How are things with Sahari?”
He proceeded a few steps before noticing that she had stopped, her gaze fixed on the treeline beyond the wall. He doubled back, worry evident.
“Everything okay?”
“Yes, apologies.” She answered after snapping from her reverie. “I am not accustomed to others being aware.”
A soft smile formed on his face. “Look, i had a talk with her. Don’t look at me like that.” He pointed a finger at the beginning form of betrayal in her expression. “I didn’t tell her anything, but, i did want to figure out if it would only get you hurt to keep this up.”
“Joseph, I am aw-”
“Keep it up.”
She stared slack-jawed as he cut her off in her attempt to dissuade him from asking her to move on, the encouragement seeming to have been something she didn’t expect. “Pardon?”
A huff of amusement preceded the light hand on her shoulder. “I said that you should keep it up. Sahari just needed a push, she’s spent a long time thinking that she didn’t deserve to be loved since she lost her old mate. I...” He paused for a breath, his eyes falling to the ground. “I spent a long time thinking the same, Nalah.”
A choked sob caught his attention, the female’s tears building on her fur prevailing any attempt for her to speak. He took advantage of her relaxed legs equalizing their height to pull her into a tight hug, a hand gently rubbing her back.
“Hey, it’s okay. I’m here for you.” He cooed in a soft voice. “Don’t try to talk yet, just let it out.”
Though she didn’t start bawling, she did return the embrace, the damp moisture feeling cool on his neck as she absently nuzzled into him. A slight rasp worked its way into her voice. “Thank you.”
He chuckled, the smile causing his cheek to press into her own. “You asked me to bring her back, right? I thought you might like it if i tried to bring that part of her back too.”
Her grip almost crushed him, though he didn’t allow the groan to ruin the moment. “She had lost everything dear to her, yet she saved myself and given me purpose when i had none. All this time i wanted to repay her in any way i could, yet you have done so effortlessly.”
“I didn’t do much.” He tried to assure the now-weeping female, intensifying his back rubs.
She shook her head, dampening his ear in the process. “You have given her a connection to herself and released her of her shackles. I know of no way to reward you, nor apologize for my immature actions in the past.”
A slight confusion settled. “All i did was have a few chats with her over a fire when we were alone. You were the one to support her so much.”
The choked laugh came out in time with an ease of her squeeze, his breathing becoming easier. “She bonded to you, that much would have been cause for celebration enough.”
“She what?”
“A moment, Joseph.” Nalah quietly pleaded. He bit back his bewilderment for the time being. “She sought revenge for her mate, for nothing else could exist within her. She could laugh an empty laugh, smile a hollow smile, but she could not truly feel more than a cold rage and sorrow. You have given her what she has lost, and then given her hope.”
His protest died in his throat at the gratitude in her voice, a defeated sigh escaping as he dismissed his concerns about the topic. It would be brought up later, but now wasn’t the time, it seemed. “Pay me back by making her happy. She’s a good friend of mine and I’ll be pissed if you screw up.”
The female separated, a content smile dominating over her previously overwhelmed expression. “Is there anything i may do for you personally?”
“I’m used to Harrow by now,” He warned, a smirk appearing as the atmosphere lightened. “You aren’t going to fluster me by joking about sleeping with me.”
“Only if you wished it so.” She winked, a free paw drying her eyes as she chuckled.
Proving his experience in dealing with Jax and Harrow to be ill-suited to dealing with Nalah, he stalled, closing his eyes as he sighed. “Let’s start by getting this bath house underway.”
“Of course, Grand Hunter, my apologies.”
“Shut up, Nalah.” He patted her back to get them moving now that they had spent a while just outside of the construction. Several of the crew were beginning to give them confused looks and he was worried they would think he was bullying her. She shook her head, but finished escorting him to the site once the evidence of her slight lapse in composure had been removed.
A soft clicking barely preceded the startlingly large impact tackle-hug that enveloped him, Mama having approached from his blind spot silently thanks to the soft dirt. She made a point of covering almost all of him with her frame and long blades, the purring reminding him that this was the first he had actually seen her since he had left for the trip. He worked an arm free and returned the hug the best he could.
“Hey, Mama. I missed you too. Sorry i was gone so long. Are you doing okay? Pack didn’t drive you nuts?”
She reluctantly released him, a chittered laugh returned for his joke as she nodded. Joseph smiled at the massive insect, two thoughts passing his mind and battling for which would be voiced first. “Would you be interested in learning how to write English with Violet? We’d be able to talk more then.”
The question seemed to have caught Mama by surprise, a consideration was given until she looked to Nalah, the female watching the reunion with a small smile. “You need not fear for the effect that your occasional absence would have on our progress.”
Mama shifted her regard back to him, a passive nod given. He couldn’t fight off the warmth he felt thinking about actually conversing with the two who had been with him so long. “Jax and me are going to be teaching Vi once we work out a schedule. I’ll let you know when.”
She nodded again, seemingly remembering something and gesturing for him to remain where he was. He agreed, a brow raised in confusion.
It wasn’t a long wait, two more large forms around Mama’s size curiously tagging behind the mother. The two were subjected to a brief conversation with the familiar Atmo, several gestures being pointed in his direction. Feeling the need to do more than stand there in surprise at seeing more of them, he waved lightly, offering a polite ‘hello’ while trying to reign in his rapidly developing theorizing.
The red Atmo approached first, circling him slowly while taking its time to inspect him, Mama still speaking to them all the while. Finished their observations, the second blue one repeated the gesture, taking less time to complete it.
The two consulted each other, occasionally looking to Mama for something before continuing.
“Is something wrong?” He asked no one in particular, Nalah shrugging, seemingly as confused as he was.
“They had little interest in our own.” She commented, brows lowered in consideration.
Joseph checked himself over for something that might be weird. Other than his legs and lack of more animal-like features, he was pretty close to the company they had been helping. He was a pretty average height when compared to everyone, though most of the males had a few inches on him when they stood upright to their fullest. He was wearing his worn-out clothing that he brought with him on the cruise, so maybe that was it?
“Am i that weird looking?” He asked over his shoulder, Nalah laughing at the self-conscious tone.
“Physical features are a lesser focus of our people, Joseph.” She explained as the three Atmo had slowed their discussion. “That is not to say that you are not a peculiar subject.”
“Wow, thanks.” He deadpanned, becoming slightly more aware of how far he departed from what they would look for in a partner of their own species. It seemed stupid to think about it now, especially since he... It just crossed his mind due to the Atmo’s reaction, is all.
The clicking and pantomiming stopped as the two new insects approached him without circling him again, both bowing low before him. A heavy set of blinks tried to follow whatever the hell was happening when Nalah spoke behind him.
“Hello, Violet.”
Excited clicks drew his eye to his daughter displaying her sign to the female before walking up to nuzzle into Joseph, the Human chuckling and lightly stroking her as she held up the sign for him as well, though it still only carried the cluster that was Lilhun script.
“I’ll assume that’s you saying ‘hello’,” He crouched to be eye-level with her and gave her a hug, her blades quickly resting over his shoulders as she placed her head against his and purred contently. “You’re doing great, sweetie. I talked to Jax, and we’ll set up some dual lessons soon. Think you could do both English and Lilhun, or do you want to focus on one for now?”
The pressure of her hug forced him to shift his neck so that she had room to do it without cutting into his armour, the alternating sets of legs causing her to bounce slightly.
“Ask Jax when he’s free, i think he should be at the hunter’s lodge right now assisting with what we brought back.”
She nodded, giving him one last squeeze before leaving in that direction, a second sign displayed to the Nalah on her way out, eliciting a chuckle from the female as she said her own farewell.
Once the ‘den-kit’ had passed the point of view, the two Atmo rose to their height, offering him a more shallow bow as they excused themselves back to their work and exchanging with Mama again as they did so.
Joseph inhaled, turning to his friend with pursed lips. “So... What the fuck was that?”
She shrugged. “They seemed to do as much whenever she is around.”
A sigh was returned. “Whatever. Show me where you want my input.”
Nalah patted his back and led him to where she was planning to put the actual baths, though he didn’t have much to say for most of it. It all seemed pretty well thought out to him.
The only part he was confused about was a plan for a significantly smaller set of baths that were sectioned off on either side.
“What are those for?”
The female gestured to them lazily. “That one is for the High Huntress and whomever she has accompany her,” Another paw was raised towards the far end of the site. “And that one is for yourself, until another of proper station is acquired.”
He raised a brow. “Why do i need a bath out here?”
Nalah smirked. “I believed you may enjoy the novelty of the arrangement, if not simply appreciate the privacy. Or would you like to be intruded upon by Harrow again?”
He thinned his lips, a firm nod given as he remembered the female fighting the urge to inspect him while delivering important information. “Point taken.”
A/N: 8k views on RR – They’ve reached Mi’low now. We’re hovering at 4.8 stars, which is neat! I think.
This arc is looking to be a bit shorter, and more of an ‘at home’ section while we clean up the mess from last arc, so it’ll be pretty character focused. Romance, major plot elements, Tel... yeah, we know where that’s going.
Finally: The two comments to pass 10 upvotes were you guys telling me how much you like the story... so.. DAWW
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2023.03.28 11:20 reverehealth Lasik Surgery in Utah Experienced Providers Revere Health

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2023.03.28 10:57 No-Worry-4234 Being sent to a peace court for an unpaid invoice from Orange

Hi, guys, first of all thank you for your time in reading my post and thank you in advance for any advice and help.
So I have been served with a subpoena yesterday regarding an unpaid invoice from Orange back in 2021. I have appealed the invoice by reaching out to their customer service on 09/01/2021 (I found my email for it), as the number I had was with my employer back then and the invoice was made after my employment contract has ended and I have returned every work related item, including the SIM card to my former employer. I was told that once my employment contract ended, the working phone number would automatically be deactivated or turned into a prepaid number.And I did not need a second number so I simply just gave it back. However to me it was not the case, as the number was still active a while after my employment and even worse, an invoice of 82,1 euros was generated for whatsoever reason. My guess is either someone within the company has used that number or my former employer stopped the payment but the contract was not yet ended properly with Orange, but anyways, I had no idea what happened.
Thus for this reason, I contacted Orange explaining the situation but was told that I needed to contact them again in one month (February 2021). Unfortunately I have simply forgotten this matter after a month and it was left like that. My case with Orange was neither closed or followed up. And in a month I received an email from Orange saying they would suspend the number. Since I did not need that number I simply did not do anything about it. And I also completely forgot that I need to come back to them at that time.

I did receive debt collection agency letters later but never a registered letter. They were simply put in my mailbox and I could have treated them like scam mails. And after a while those letters stopped and I thought this whole invoice issue was just over, but apparently I couldn't be more wrong about it.
So now nearly 2 years later I had this bailiff ringing the bell at my door saying I had owed Orange money. Confused as I was, I took the paper without further questioning. The bailiff simply told me to contact Orange and figured out what happened. And when I contacted Orange today, I was told that Orange simply could not help me with this matter anymore, as the debt is with the debt collector now and Orange has refused to provide the initial contract I had back then and the origianl invoice, also the details of the invoice as in what service it was for and what date the cost was generated etc.
I have already filed a complaint with Meldpunt and requested Telecom Mediation service. However, I still would very appreciate some legal advice on this matter. As the legal fee plus the invoice plus the late payment fee has amounted to nearly 500 euros, which I find extremely unjustified for an intial invoice of 82,1 euros. On top of that, I still believe the invoice was incorrect as it happened after my employment contract ended and no longer had access to that SIM card anymore. Plus, without the origianl contract and invoice, I find it hard to believe this debt even exists in the first place, or if it is indeed for a service that I have purchased or used.

Anyways thanks for reading and any advice would be appreciated!
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2023.03.28 10:54 Emotional_Form257 I'm about to lose my fucking mind

So my girlfriend (25F) and I (22M) live together. I have a few posts about her alcoholism and it's not really getting much better. She keeps crying and saying she's going to quit but she never does.
But that's not really the main focus of this post today. I just quit my job because I was offered one with a huge pay bump at a different company. The only issue is I'm on a probationary period for 6 months and this specific company isn't known for letting any mistakes slide by. It's nerve racking but I'm excited by the possibilities of it.
My girlfriend and I both work. She's a low level manager at a retail store, and she's only been at the job for about two months. She was fired from her last job for reasons that aren't relevant.
Well I discussed this new job of mine before I accepted the job offer and put in my two weeks and I asked her if she would be okay with working for at least the next six months in case my new job doesn't work out the way I'm hoping. She agreed.
Well her job has an attendance points system. Basically, calling out or missing a shift or being late counts against you, and in her case, 12 points in 6 months means you're automatically terminated at the company.
I accepted the job offer 2 days ago. Tonight she came up to me, drunk (of course) and told me she had texted her boss and quit her job. I was obviously upset and I asked her why and she told me that she was already close to being fired since she had racked up 10 attendance points in her 2 months at the job.
Apparently, all those days where she said she wasn't scheduled when I was pretty sure she had been, she had just been calling off because she was too hungovestill drunk from the night before.
I got upset but tried to keep my temper. I sent her a few links to jobs in the area which I knew would be within her interests and proformance levels and told her she needed to apply to them as soon as possible (she uses Indeed so it's a one click apply) and she told me she NEEDED TIME TO GREIVE THE LOSS OF HER RETAIL JOB.
I consider myself a very level headed sort of guy. I try not to get bent out of shape about small things but this got under my skin. She's constantly complaining about how stressed she is about finances. We're stretched just a bit too thin for comfort, but it would be fine if she was still working at this job at least until I got my first check. But NO.
I nearly lost it and found myself unable to talk to her for the rest of the night. It was, at the very least, incredibly inconsiderate to not discuss something like this with me before doing it.
I feel sort of betrayed, and I can't stand to look at her right now. She's mad at me for not cuddling her but I'm just too upset.
What the fuck do I do.
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2023.03.28 10:04 Square_Hat517 (Reddit) WHere To WAtch "John Wick: Chapter 4" [ONLINE] For Free

Action Movie! Here’s options for downloading or watching John Wick: Chapter 4 streaming the full movie online for free on 123movies & Reddit,1movies, 9movies, and yes movies, including where to watch the anticipated Action movie at home. Is John Wick: Chapter 4 available to stream? Is watching John Wick: Chapter 4 on Disney Plus, HBO Max, Netflix, or Amazon Prime? Yes, we have found an authentic streaming option / service.
Watch Now: John Wick: Chapter 4 [ONLINE] For Free
Watch Now: John Wick: Chapter 4 [ONLINE] For Free
John Wick: Chapter 4 is by far the best of the four films starring Keanu Reeves as the eponymous hit man, the first of the cycle that I’d recommend—albeit with an asterisk. The new film (which opens Friday) has many of the same problems as its predecessors; although these problems are interesting, they’re far more fun to contemplate in the rearview mirror of thought than in the real-time forward motion of viewing. But something happens, fairly late in the game, that converts the film’s merely technical displays of bloody murder into something suspenseful and romantic, if no less silly. The details are too good to give away, but there’s no harm and much pleasure in considering how the movie climbs, slowly but surely, to that light-headed summit.

One of the curiosities of the John Wick series is that, as an entirely original creation dependent on no prior properties, it has nonetheless given rise to an alluring and self-perpetuating mythology of its own. The premise of Wick world is cleverly paranoiac, built around the tentacular connections between the crude underworld of contract killers and the shadowy overlords who keep them in action. That wicked authority is called the High Table; it dispenses orders to kill on pain of being killed, ratifies contracts for murder, and brokers the deals for bounty hunters. It commands John to kill, and it sets him up to be killed, but it also sets the tone of the movie. The High Table exemplifies a super-élite of secret societies with elaborate rites, deeply rooted aristocracies, a flaunting of mind-bending wealth, and the executive ruthlessness of a transnational shadow government that has the power to wreak havoc in public with impunity.

On 24th March 2023, Keanu Reeves starring JW4, is coming to your nearest theaters. This American neo-noir action thriller will be 169 minutes long and distributed by Lionsgate. Already, the official YouTube trailer is out, vibing fans' expectations!

If you are looking for online stream options for this film, you may get updates soon. Also, which platforms can you rely on to watch this newest chapter of John Wick? We will uncover the info here!

John Wick: Chapter 4 will be out on 24th March 2023 in the US! However, this fourth installment of John Wick was initially scheduled to release on 21st May 2021. Nevertheless, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the whole shooting got delayed, which impacted the official screening too.

Also, the title cast- Reeves' had some agreements with The Matrix Resurrections (2021) at that period. In the meantime, John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) official trailer was uploaded on YouTube on 10th November 2022 from Lionsgate Movies.

Is John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Streaming or in Theaters?

John Wick: Chapter 4 will first debut exclusively in theaters on Friday, March 24, 2023. It’s hard to believe that this is nearly two years later than its originally intended release date of May 21, 2021!

If you would rather wait to watch it from the comforts of home, keep reading below, so you can learn more about the movie’s streaming and home media release details.

When Is John Wick: Chapter 4 Streaming Online?

Streaming release dates can be quite unpredictable at times. Each streaming service has its own different practices in regard to when a new film can finally be released online, which may also be influenced by a film’s production company too. While John Wick: Chapter 4 is likely to be available for streaming on one of the major streaming platforms, its release date on streaming is still a bit of a mystery. It's a guessing game for now, but keep an eye on this space for future updates!

Where to Watch John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Online?

As of now, the only way to watch Avatar: The Way of Water is to head out to the movie theater when it releases on Friday, Dec. 16. You can find a local showing on Fandango.

Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait for it to become available to rent or purchase on digital platforms like Amazon, Apple, YouTube or Vudu, or available to stream on Disney+. Read on for more information.

Is John Wick 4 on Netflix?

The streaming giant has a massive catalog of television shows and movies, but it does not include ‘John Wick: Chapter 4.’ We recommend our readers watch other dark fantasy films like ‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.’

Is John Wick: Chapter 4 on Hulu?

No, ‘John Wick 4’ is unavailable on Hulu. People who have a subscription to the platform can enjoy ‘Afro Samurai Resurrection’ or ‘Ninja Scroll.’

Is John Wick 4 on Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime’s current catalog does not include ‘John Wick 4.’ However, the film may eventually release on the platform as video-on-demand in the coming months.fantasy movies on Amazon Prime’s official website. Viewers who are looking for something similar can watch the original show ‘Dororo.’

Is John Wick 4 on HBO Max?

No, John Wick 4 will not be on HBO Max since it’s not a Warner Bros. movie. The company previously released its movies on the streamer and in theaters on the same day. However, they now allow a 45-day window between the theatrical release and the streaming release.

Casts of John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

Can you imagine the very famous John Wick with Keanu Reeves? Expectedly, Keanu stars the title character- John Wick, with a bunch of other talented cast members, including Donnie Yen (Caine), Bill Skarsgård (Marquis), Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shimazu).

What Is John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) About?

Remember the story when John Wick first got introduced? He searched for a man who invaded his home and stole his belongings in chapter 1. Then, chapter 2 portrayed John Wick's mission to assassinate a target. Finally, we saw him fighting his way out of New York in the latest chapter of John Wick back in 2019.
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2023.03.28 09:37 vaasuki1359 Types of website audits

Types of website audits
A website audit is a detailed evaluation of the structure, content, and functionality of your website with the goal of identifying any potential for improvement. Increasing traffic, enhancing user experience, and improving website ranking are the three main objectives of a website audit. There are several kinds of website audits, each with a distinct goal and a distinct set of advantages. So, learn digital marketing courses in Bangalore and get more information about website audits.
Below listed are the types of website Audits:
Technical Site Audit:
An in-depth analysis of your website's architecture, code, and server settings comprises a technical website audit. This kind of audit evaluates the structure of your website, including its speed, mobile friendliness, and SEO. The objective is to find any technical problems that can be impairing the functionality and ranking of your website.
Content Site Audit:
A content website audit analyzes the text, graphics, and other material on your website. This kind of audit evaluates the usefulness, worth, and relevancy of the information on your website, as well as how well it conveys your message to your intended audience. A content website audit aims to find weak points in the content and develop a plan for producing high-quality content that attracts and converts users.
SEO Website Audit:
The goal of an SEO website audit is to make your website as search engine-friendly as possible, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This kind of audit assesses the on-page and off-page SEO of your website, including keyword placement, meta tags, and backlinks. Finding places where your website may be enhanced can help it rank higher and appear more prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Analytics Website Audit:
An analytics website audit measures the effectiveness of your website, taking into account user behavior, traffic, and conversion rates. To determine areas where your website may be enhanced to maximize traffic, engagement, and conversions, this sort of audit evaluates your website's analytics data, including Google Analytics. The objective is to develop a data-driven plan for enhancing the functionality of your website.
Above are different types of website audits. Every digital marketer should learn about it and be aware of it. In order to learn these strategies, you can enroll in an institute that offers the best Digital Marketing Courses in Bangalore and assists you with placements. Digital Academy 360 would be the right place for someone looking to build a career in digital marketing. Whether you are a newcomer seeking to learn the basics of a new digital skill or an experienced professional wanting to develop your skills, you may find a course or program that is suitable for you. Considering that the school's courses are instructed by experts who are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge and experience, you can be sure that the training you receive there is of the highest level.
Course Curriculum:
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2023.03.28 09:10 Grey_wolf_whenever Something about the idea of never speaking to my family again has shifted in me

I want to post this here because I don't know where else to share it and I want to know if anyone relates. I apologize, it is massive. It is my first time posting on this board and I am under some emotional duress.
My family unit is basically five people, myself 30m, my older sister 35f, our biological father, our younger step sister 19f and our step mother.
I have issues with my older sister. Every time we're together there's inevitably a conversation that leaves me feeling horrible. I honestly feel insane typing this, like some part of me is convinced that I'm imagining it, or over reacting. But the most recent situation went like this, at a family gathering the day after a wedding, the five of us and my amazing partner, my plus one for the nuptials. Older Sister talked to me about my relationship with a semi estranged biological mother that I have worked to repair a lot of damage from over a decade and a half from a divorce. Her tone was accusatory,
she starts with a "mom thinks you hate her", I reply "I don't think mom thinks I hate her, I know I don't visit enough but-"
"then why don't you visit more, she thinks you hate her"
"I know I should, it's just a really, really, long bus ride and-"
"why don't you rent a car? You're an adult"
I am an adult, we had just spoken earlier, as a family several hours ago, about my difficulty finding a job after being laid off in January.
"It's still a long drive. I honestly wish Mom would visit sometimes" "It's only 2 hours, that's not a long drive and you're making excuses" "2 hours is a long drive for m-" "No it isn't"
My expression changes. I am now having a bad time. After a shockingly, inappropriately short amount of time, sooner than I could say a word, my sister immediately says "what? What are you glaring at me for?" And offers a vaguely remembered taunt about me being angry.
Mom visits me about once a year, I visit her once or twice a year, usually overnight. This is more contact than we've had in the past. I talk to Mom, she doesn't think I hate her. We have less issues than ever. It's still a sore spot, for who wouldn't it be? I can't functionally imagine a situation in which my sister doesn't know this will make me emotional. In fact, I think it transcends a personal emotional effect: this is rude. It's purpose is to inflict pain. If this is the story of a repeating cycle, one that always starts the same way is it foolish to think this?
I went into an incredibly blank state, all I could do was walk around. I felt like I couldn't speak, and sitting outside the gathering I see my step mom. She asks what's wrong, I reply, she says "I see" and goes back into the party. Later on, it torments me that I tried to share this with her and neither her, nor her daughter who I used to consider very close could simply knock on my door. Accused of "closing them off" I maintain: I was just down the hall.
I felt like I could see the future. What always happens, happening again. Eventually I'll talk to my father. I just can't help it, it's very hard to contain, her words can cut me so deep. And every time he just acts like I'm a rude jerk for being upset. I don't need him to intervene, I've told him this when I apologize for being upset, i would be so helped by even condolence. I've been begging at this altar of paternal affection, I'm here to tell you: there is no God.
During a family dinner a year or more ago, the five of us, my sister complained about anxiety symptoms and I offered a suggestion: a combination therapy and anti anxiety prescription. I'm not a doctor but that's not the point: I was sharing it along with the information that it had worked for me, the first time I had told my parents I had even done therapy, frowned upon by our them, I thought this offering of information would help ease her fears about seeking treatment.
She responds, loudly and in tears "I don't need therapy, I don't have anxiety like you, I'm autistic you fucking asshole"
I feel the need to share this: she has used "autism" as a get out jail free card many times.
She cries and goes upstairs, the dinner continues silently. I ask my father if he thinks that reaction was warranted and he has no response.
"I don't know, you're being dramatic. Besides, I don't know what you want me to do"
I don't know what you want me to do. Ive heard that sentence a hundred times. The solution can not come from me, because then he can do it sarcastically. It's happened before. Words of comfort. I have told him this, how a simple "I'm sorry about that and I don't think you deserved it" would be an entire world.
This most recent time, after the conversation about our mother, I found myself in such a depression, I didn't speak for the rest of the day and just kept my head down in my room.
The next morning when she was out I said something, I could feel my blood pressure rise and my body tense as it almost unwillingly slipped out of my mouth.
"[Sister] lectured me about mom"
The eye roll I received made me want to die. Complete rejection, disappointment in a look. "You do this every time" he says. " why do you have to be all moody?" He sneers. But I've told him why, we had this conversation today, 8 weeks ago, 4 months ago, a year ago, 2 years ago. We have this same conversation, me andy father, and when he responds he always says "I don't know what you want me to do", the tone completely dismissive. This time I say it together with him, in unison, to make a point. I've heard it so many times, and all I want is for him to show the level of interest to offer me any condolence. He knows this, and it would be easy to just put an arm on my shoulder and say "I'm sorry that happened to you" but it never happens, the point is clear: I am being disruptive, and that itself is the problem.
My father is an Olympic champion of dismissal. On one family trip I was having a hard day, my older sister making many repeated small comments, criticizing looks, intelligence, morality etc. My parents, father and step mother, pull me aside to tell me that it's because in the conversation over breakfast I had referred to myself as the "athletic child" and that she had taken offense to that, as it means I called her fat. In context, my comment earlier in the day was a joke about my own athleticism: "I got all the athletics genetics" I jested, after all I had a couple semesters high school tennis and I enjoy jogging. We were a trio of very nerdy kids, unathletic kids. Im skinnier than my sister, we do not have the exact same build, but I didn't think she's overweight and I have never, ever, in my remembered life made a comment about it, disparaging or not. My sister shouts at me, red faced, as I am in line at an outdoor restroom "Owen! Move! You are always in the way!" My crime? There were people behind and I was taking a too long to figure out the coin operated bathroom door (you have to put the coin in the slot. Still, rare to see). Privately I become upset by the days events and let slip a phrase in anger "shes been yelling at me since high school", a strategic blunder as my father now pretends I'm actually angry about something that happened in high school, and he can successfully play it off as A, a ridiculous long time grudge that I'm being horrible and holding onto and B, denying knowledge of the situation. He tells me I should "save it for my therapist"
My sister gets back to and the conversation is dropped completely. The rest of family talks to my older sister as if nothing has happened and I follow like a silent wounded dog on the days activities.
I am not addressed by any member of the rest of the group trip, besides my always loving partner, who my family talks past me to speak to about anything. My dad waits a few hours to ask me a casual question, about some boat he saw, I respond in quiet, defeated, embarrassed, impotent anger "that's what you want to talk to me about?" And he resumes his previous eye roll. He takes the same dismissive voice "oh, you're still upset."
I simply have lost the spirit of it. My stomach and back feel tremendous pain from the stress, I go nearly comatose. I cant eat, I can't hold onto water, and I spend the rest of the day, luckily that same day, shivering in the bedroom of an air bnb, being held by my supportive partner, waiting for our flight. I am in emotional ruin, I've explained it so many times I've lost count but: every time this happens I feel the effects worse, like it kills a larger part of me.
My partner and I avoid talking to them. I have nothing to say. I look at my father like a stranger, so indifferent to anything, so willing to plead ignorance "how was I supposed to know you were being upset" He'll say.
We call and Uber and move to sneak away. I make a weak goodbye. "That's sad" my father says, barely looking up."
"You're a selfish, spoiled child who doesn't deserve any of this" my step mother responds. More context: I have crossed the state in a blizzard to take care of this womans pets after her original sitter, my younger step sisters boyfriend, had to suddenly leave them adrift mid vacation, with no one to feed the dog and cat. She later bought her daughters boyfriend a car. They put a down payment on my sister's house. But I'm spoiled, because they have done the pitiable charity of including me. I tell her I never want to hear from her again. You won't, she responds. I offer a final Fuck You, she returns it. I leave.
I imagine their reaction to reading this. Poking full of holes "it says recently, but that vacation was technically a year ago" they'd immediately, bluntly state.
I do not offer this sentence, full dissolution, lightly, it is not common. I understand the pain of being disconnected from family all too well: my father's father has disowned him, and, in a letter addressed to "resident". It is an early, defining memory of mine. I was too young to understand the reasons, if there were any, I still don't know. The only times I've brought it up came after equally miserable conversations. It came from me as an offer, a plea that I have to, in any way I can, claw away from this miserable maelstrom of rejection that eats me alive.
I've never felt I had the strength to follow through on it, I am so needy. I despise my weakness immensely, that I crave their approval, the comfort of something I'm so held at arms length away.
But now, writing this, here, it feels like a light. A chance for both parties to forgive, and heal, and not keep opening wounds and I think maybe I understand my grandfather a little. Maybe it's not unimaginable this would be for the best.
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2023.03.28 08:51 vaasuki1359 What are open graphs

What are open graphs?
Social media platforms utilize the Open Graph protocol to decide how web pages should be displayed when shared on their networks. A set of meta tags that are added to a web page's HTML code to explain details like the title, description, picture, and kind of shared material. Social media networks employ this data to construct an aesthetically appealing and educational preview of the material, increasing the likelihood that viewers will click through to the page. Learn more about the open graphs by joining digital marketing courses in Bangalore.
Facebook released Open Graph in 2010, and it has since been adopted by other social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The protocol has evolved into a valuable resource for website owners and marketers seeking to boost the exposure and engagement of their content on social media.
Benefits of Open Graphs:
The ability to modify how a web page is presented when shared on social media is one of the main advantages of Open Graph. Without Open Graph, social media sites would choose the title, description, and image that will be shown based on their own algorithms, which might not always be precise or suitable for the content. The ability to precisely choose what information is presented thanks to Open Graph increases the likelihood that people will click through to the page.
Open Graph can enhance search engine optimization in addition to increasing content visibility and interaction on social media (SEO). SEO is relying more and more on social signals, such as how often a website is shared or how much engagement it gets. It is possible to indirectly affect a website's search engine position by utilising Open Graph to raise its visibility and interaction on social media.
It's crucial to follow a few advised practises while utilizing Open Graph. First, make sure that the title and description properly reflect the content of the page. They should be short and defining. Second, the image utilised must be of a good caliber and pertinent to the text. In order to guarantee that each piece of material is presented appropriately on social media platforms, it is crucial to select the appropriate type for it.
The abovementioned are some useful aspects of open graphs. Learning this is very beneficial to your website. One may enroll in an institute that offers the best digital marketing training in Bangalore with placement support to learn more about this topic. One institute that can be considered above all others is Digital Academy 360. Learners will gain practical experience with tools and projects from the real world during the courses, allowing them to develop their abilities and confidence as they study.
Course Curriculum:
The institute also provides adaptable scheduling choices so that students may learn at their own speed. This makes it a perfect platform for anyone who wants to upgrade or retool their skills in the digital industry.
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2023.03.28 07:46 vaasuki1359 What are do follow and no follow links

What are "do follow" and "no follow" links?
In search engine optimization (SEO), the HTML elements do-follow and no-follow are used to regulate the flow of link juice or PageRank. They are used to tell search engines whether or not to follow a certain link and transmit their value to the connected websites. However, you can learn more about this by enrolling in digital marketing courses in Bangalore.
A do-follow link is a link that passes on the value of the link, also known as link juice, to the linked page. When a page includes a do-follow link, search engines will follow the link and index the linked page, allowing it to receive the value of the link and potentially improve its ranking in search results. Do-follow links are the default setting for links and are considered the standard for most websites.
A No Follow link, on the other hand, is a link that does not pass on any value to the linked page. When a page includes a No Follow" link, search engines will not follow the link or index the linked page, meaning it will not receive any value from the link. No, follow links are often used when linking to external websites or pages that are considered spammy, untrusted, or low-quality.
No, follow links are also used when linking to affiliate websites, sponsored content, or paid links, as search engines may consider these types of links as attempts to manipulate their rankings and penalize the linking website. In addition, No Follow links can also be used to reduce the risk of passing on link juice to low-quality pages on your own website, thus protecting your overall link profile.
Understanding the distinction between Do Follow and No Follow links and how to use them effectively is crucial. For instance, utilizing an excessive number of "no follow" links might hurt your website's visibility and search engine rating since it tells search engines that you aren't linking to relevant, high-quality material. Using an excessive number of Do Follow links, on the other hand, might provide problems as it may be interpreted as an attempt to influence search engine results and lead to penalties.
Above mentioned are a few useful aspects of Do follow and No follow links. In order to learn more about these, one may enroll in an institute that offers the best digital marketing courses in Bangalore with guaranteed placement assistance. Digital Academy 360 is the right place to go. You may discover a course or program that is appropriate for you, whether you are a beginner trying to learn the fundamentals of new digital talent or an experienced professional looking to advance your abilities. You can be confident that the training you receive at the school is of the highest caliber since its courses are taught by professionals who are passionate about imparting their expertise and experience.
Course Curriculum:
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2023.03.28 07:17 Righteous_Fury224 Sympathy for a Succubus - Meridiana’s Story. Part 2

Part 1
Aha, welcome back good reader.
Now where was I?
Oh yes. I was enjoying my second glass of homemade Lemonade and contemplating the round of sandwiches before me.
“These…sandwiches… I have not ever eaten anything like them before,” I said as I lifted the top piece of bread with an extended index talon to see for myself what lay within. It was as the Magus said, just sliced ham of a very high quality and cheese. I was impressed to see no mould or rot in either the cheese or ham. The Magus must be very wealthy to have such fresh and fine produce.
“I don’t suppose you have Meridiana. You’ve been away for a long time, over a thousand years if I am correct?”
I nodded as I replaced the top piece of bread, withdrew my talon, picked up the triangle of two pieces of bread with contents and took a bite. My eyes flew open after a second as the English Mustard went straight through my palate like a ballista bolt and smashed into my nasal cavity, exploding as Greek Fire would do. An utterly, delightfully mildly painful sensation and taste experience.
“Oopps… sorry… that’s the mustard you are experiencing. I did warn you but perhaps I should have explained more…” mused the Magus as he observed my reaction with a curious expression.
I waved away his apology and crammed the delicious food into my mouth, devouring it in less than a few seconds.
“…mmmpphhh… no… it’s delectable … a perfect torture! A fabulous flavour enhancement plus delectable pain! Fantastic!” I said with my mouthful, spitting out some crumbs and bits of meat as I spoke. Demons are not renowned for their table manners. Ahem.
“Ahh I see… how interesting. Well then, you are going to love a lot of food we can produce these days… Vindaloo curry, Szechuan Hotpot, Wasabi… Carolina Reaper Rectum Wrecker Chili Sauce …”
I burst out laughing at that last one, dribbling some half chewed bits of sandwich from my jaws, down the front of my chest. I didn’t care, that was immensely funny. If only Senior Management knew of it… perhaps they did? Meh…
“Ha! I always suspected that Demons had a sense of humour,” said the Magus with an interested air, leaning back in his own chair as he observed my giggling.
I wiped myself up, scooping up and eating the dribbled remnants, trying to regain a little dignity once more.
“Of course we have a sense of humour. We have been dealing with humanity since you lot became self-aware tens of thousands of years ago. You semi-bald monkeys are an endless source of entertainment for us.” I sat back in my plastic chair, my tail swishing in amusement. “Show me this “hot sauce”. I must see it!” I insisted.
The Magus reached into the pocket of his pants and took out a small black glass covered device and started tapping on it. The glass lit up instantly.
“What is that?” I demanded to know. The device looked magical in nature.
“This is a phone. There is so much I have to teach you Meridiana. You are immortal and have a genius intellect so it should not take long in either case. Once I show you the basics I know you will be fine. This device lets me have the sum of human knowledge at my fingertips. Oh… I see you do not believe me. It is true. I have no reason to lie to you. We have come a long way since you were last here Meridiana. Humanity has split the atom and created weapons that can devastate entire cities from tens of thousands of miles away, we have been to the moon and back, over 5 times. We are a globally interconnected species now who can board a machine and be whisked to another continent in mere hours, all safely I may add. I can use my phone and speak instantly to another person halfway around the globe. Here, this is the Hot Sauce you are interested in…” he said as he looked up and back at me, passing over the device.
I took it from his soft hands. He had not done any physical work in over a decade. There were no callouses present that a labourer, tradesman or peasant would have on their hands, just smooth supple pale skin. The hands of a scholar I noted.
The device or ‘phone’ had a picture now displayed on the glass. The picture was of a small bottle of sauce but I couldn’t read the writing.
“I can understand your language Magus but I am unable to read it,” I said as I looked at the picture.
“Oh but of course! A minor detail I have overlooked. The last language you were familiar with was Latin, correct?”
I nodded still staring at the phone in my hands. Such a remarkable device yet he treated it so casually. And he had forgotten a minor detail. This was indeed welcome news. What else had he missed I wondered? No matter, such things would reveal themselves in due course.
“Umm… let me see now… you are capable of reading another person’s thoughts right? That’s in your power set yes?”
My eyes shot up to his.
“How did you know…”
He held his hand to stop me from speaking further, then sighed for a moment, rubbed his chin before considering his next words.
“Most people these days don’t know, or to be honest, don’t care about your kinds existence. In fact, demons have become part of human entertainment. You are seen as figures of myth and fantasy. While I know that some demons still occasionally get through the void, usually through cracks in reality and often cause mayhem here, it is quite rare these days to see that happen. On the whole I think that the majority of those that do get here see what the world is like and decide to keep their heads down and blend into human society. I think that they actually like it here and that does not surprise me at all. Anyway… the thing is… and you aren’t going to like this… is your power set, or what most people believe it to be, was codified in a game some fifty odd years ago. A man who created the game did a lot of research on all demons, putting it all that into a book which a game could be played from. Your kind became fantasy monsters for people to kill in their imaginations by rolling dice to determine the outcome.”
I sat with my jaw gaping wider as he spoke. We had become figures of entertainment? No longer inspiring fear and terror into humanity? I began to grow enraged. My eyes started to blaze with infernal heat.
The Magus invoked his power and will upon me, seeing my wrath was beginning to engulf me. I was completely under his control despite his promise of not doing that. Interesting and also a touch arousing. I swallowed nervously, bowed my head in a sign of docility and obedience.
He sighed as my fury dissipated.
“I am sorry for that but I can’t afford to have you going berserk in my garage. You are a genius Meridiana, I know you are. You are a demon who has been imprisoned for over a thousand years and you have a lot to catch up on but losing your temper will not help you... at all. Please, do not make me do that again but also be aware that if you lose control, I will bend you to my will, totally. I want you to use your mind Meridiana, please, try and think first before reacting. It is not my intent to control you. A free agent is far more effective than a mindless automaton drone. Besides, I don’t want to have to replace furniture or clean up the mess. In addition, I would be fucking furious with you if you damaged the car as my insurance premiums will rocket if that happens.”
The look he gave me was visceral, he meant every word he said. Fascinating.
“Yes Magus,” I said meekly, not knowing what the car or insurance premiums were. I considered it best to play along and discover what this Magus required of me.
More so, I had not felt power like that since I last came before a demon prince, like the one who cast my into my cell for a millennia. Who is this man? He seemed calm now, so I returned to eating the rest of the gourmet bread snack also known as the sandwich.
“Anyway… as I was saying… we are aware of demonic powers. I was going to ask if you could read my mind. I can allow that. Your power of Extrasensory Perception as we call it, should be sufficient enough for you to learn how to read English, which is one of the more common languages spoken and used in the world today. I will allow this as it would take far too long to teach you to read. And time is of the essence here.”
I swallowed my last mouthful of food after savouring the exquisite pain of the mustard once more.
“I agree, I will do this Magus. And if that sauce is anything to go by… painful going in and coming out! Marvellous! Humanity had almost reached a level of infernal punishment it appears,” I said as I returned my attention to the Magus with a coquettish little smile. “I must say that this is a novel use of the power that you seek me to use. To learn rather than use it to gain knowledge and thus power over you. You are being naïve Magus. How do you know I will not misuse my ability, ferret out your secrets to hurt you with?”
He gave me a cold laugh that actually made me pause for a moment.
“Because really I don’t give a fuck about myself Meridiana. What you see is the husk of a man. I have nothing except my knowledge, my money, this house, its contents and car. All meaningless items in the grand scheme of things. My life blew apart two years ago. Nothing you could do would hurt me because I have gone beyond feeling pain. I knew that you would try and betray me, hurt me, try to drag me into hell to torment me for eternity. Don’t bother, I’m already there.”
I stared deep into his eyes.
They were dead deep down inside.
This was a man who smiled and felt some amusement yet that was the body and the mind going through reactions and reflexes from a lifetime of experiences. Simply put there was no joyousness in him, no spark of life.
Whatever joy this man had felt had been burned out of his soul. I would know, I had done it to countless humans before. That he was still functional showed he possessed an incredible amount of willpower and inner fortitude. Most mortals would either have taken their own lives by now or be snivelling, dribbling wrecks, covered in their own filth, rocking and crying hysterically in the corner of the room until they died, wasting away from the void that ate them from within.
I sat back, momentarily stunned. My Magus was like a living Lemure, the first form a damned soul takes when they appear in hell. Soulless, formless, blobs of creatures which had no spark left within, just the memory of the guilt, rage and sorrow to torment them for eternity. What had happened to extinguish this man’s spark I wondered? And why does he require my servitude? The most interesting aspect of his demeanour was that I did not have to corrupt him at all, he is already writhing in inner torment. My attitude shifted once more. I will now view this Magus as a Demon Prince, one of power, cunning and potential cruelty. That I can work with.
“Shall we begin? I will enter your mind to learn how to read as you command Magus, nothing more,” I said as I sat forward giving him a reassuring smile.
“Needs must as the devil drives,” he muttered to himself. I raised my eyebrow at that phrase, most curious.
He held out his hand to me which I took gently in mine. I made sure my talons were withdrawn and looked down at his pale hand in my dark ruddy bronzed one. It was small in comparison yet I could feel the power within. This Magus was not one to be manipulated without consequences.
“We shall begin, my mind to your mind Magus,” I said quietly as I concentrated on forming the mental bridge between our consciousnesses.
In my minds eye I saw the Magus’ mind. An imposing mighty fortress of grey stone with a small sally port door open next to the main portcullis that was firmly shut. I stepped cautiously in, noting the murder holes above me and sensing the immediate danger of imminent harm if the Magus chose to attack me within his mental fortress.
I could go no further and dared not reach out to test his defences. A small book appeared in the air in front of me. This would be the conduit for the transfer of knowledge. I took the book in my hands cautiously, pressed to my forehead and began to absorb the knowledge it contained.
A couple of moments later I was done. I looked back at the cover of the book and now could read it, “Teach Your Child How to Read”. I laughed out aloud. My Magus was being a tease, cheeky little swine! I let go of the children’s reading primer and stepped back outside, ending the link.
“Very amusing Magus. For one who has no spark, you still appear to appreciate a joke.”
“Yeah… some things I just do, habit I suppose?” He shrugged and sat back again. “I appreciate your restraint Meridiana. I know you could have tried to assault me from within, our minds and wills becoming locked in conflict but you choose not to attack me. Why?”
“The answer is simple Magus, I wish to stay here… with you. You have made it abundantly clear that I am bound to you. How, I do not know. In any case, you freed me from eternal boredom. For that alone I am grateful. Yes, we demons can feel emotions such as gratitude surprisingly enough. In my past all who summoned me demanded my servitude and compliance, you asked first. That is novel. I like new things as you seem to understand. So I adhered to your request. And now I can read English. What a versatile language it is! And confusing as well…”
“Yeah, you’ll get that. English is weird but it works. I still have trouble with where and were when I write. And I’m a native born speaker! Anyway, I think it is time I should you around your new home Meridiana. However, I think you will have to shift your form from it’s current state. You’re just too tall for the doorways and your wings are huge.”
“Oh yes… of course…how did...oh right… you already knew…ha! That you know so much about me and my powers is… liberating in a way. I shall be interested to see what else you think you know,” I said as I stood up and focused my power of Shape Alteration, morphing into my other true form, that of a coffee dark skinned, black eyed human female with long black flowing tresses that went well past my shoulders. My breasts were ample, hips curvaceously wide, legs long and shapely, cheek bones high and lips pouty. I was totally naked. My height was now a modest 5’6” in the old measurement, perfect for my generous proportions.
The Magus raised an eyebrow, giving me an appraising glance that hinted that his base urges still were functional. The hind brain and little head still seemed to worked within him. I smiled demurely back at him.
“Will this form be sufficient?” I said as I stretched my arms above my shoulders, thrusting my chest out provocatively then pirouetting for him, showing my well-rounded ass.
“Is that your mother’s original form? Lilith?” he asked with genuine curiosity.
“My, I am impressed at your scholarly knowledge Magus. No, my mother is Naamah, not Lilith. I would be Lilium if Lilith was my mother. Let me test you now, who is my father?”
“Cain as far as the bible says.”
“Well done!” I clapped my hands with a little peep of true amusement. Even though my Magus is a mortal, he is a learned one and I appreciate intelligence in a being.
“I now have to ask you something Meridiana, a cosmological question, just for my own curiosity. Your origins are what we historians refer to as the Judo-Christian stream of culture and religion. Yet there are dozens of human cultures with differing belief systems, featuring gods, demons, angels, divine beings and such. Do they exist in conjunction with your kind or are they merely different manifestations of the same thing?”
My eyes widened once more. Firstly because my naked form was not driving the Magus into a slathering lustful man who’s penis should be bulging with longing by now, aching to be inside me. More so though, he was truly interested in the realms beyond. Incredible! His discipline and mental control is something to be wary of.
“Truthfully, we are but one realm amongst a myriad of others. I know of the ones you speak of. We stay out of each other’s… territory to use a euphemism. The Deva and Rakshasa from the Hindu pantheon stay within their boundaries as do Oni from the lands of Nippon and so on,” I said as I folded my arms over my tits and pouted at his lack of sexual enthusiasm.
He nodded as he stood up.
“I knew it! But also Sir Terry Pratchett was right…maybe? My question now is… did we create you with our thoughts. Was human belief the catalyst that brought your kind into existence? Chicken and egg…” he said musing to himself as he walked over to one of the shelves, removing a large white fluffy robe then coming back to hand it to me.
“What has poultry got to do with anything? And who is this knight you speak of that deduced the multiple realms that lay beyond the universe” I said in a mildly aggrieved tone as I snatched the soft robe from his hand. It was made from the finest cotton weave I had seen, far higher quality from anything that could come from looms of Egypt. I put it on seeing how my nudity was not having the effect I wanted. What bliss it was as I relished the supple softness of the material against my skin. My Magus must have paid a fortune for such a garment.
“I’ll explain later. Come, this way,” he said gesturing to a small flight of tiled stairs that were in a corner of the basement garage.
I sniffed haughtily and walked forwards, taking the lead.
Walking up the two dozen or so steps, I came out into a marvel of lavishness and luxury.
Stunning polished white ceramic tiles made up the floor. Ahead oh me was a superbly created and polished, reddish granite top bench, full of sparking crystals that refracted the light when it hit the surface. I sensed this was a food preparation area, a kitchen but of the likes that I had never seen before. A metal spigot, presumable for water stood above two deep looking metal troughs in the centre of the stone bench. A few bowls and plates sat unwashed in the trough. I saw glass faced cabinets that held within more crockery and glassware that Gerbert ever had, even when he was Pope! Other cabinets held bottles of…something? I was not close enough to read the labels.
Another large, tall, double doored metal box stood opposite the stair doorway. The Magus saw me staring at it.
“That’s the fridge.”
“The refrigerator. It is where we store food and drink to keep it cold and fresh for preservation.”
He walked over to the metal box and opened the door to show me it’s contents.
Inside was a cornucopia of jars, bottles, containers filled with food and drink. A light illuminated the interior as the door opened.
“Such powerful sorcery Magus!”
“No Meridiana, just technology. It is merely a machine, not magical at all, although in a way I suppose it is to you. Heh… a very wise man once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Sir Arthur was right of course.”
I nodded in wordless agreement. That was profound wisdom indeed. And yet another knight who exceeded their station through knowledge. So much to learn!
“Would you like a beer? I need one I think,” said the Magus as he bent down to open another compartment of his food storage machine.
“Beer? You mean Ale?”
“Hmm… I don’t have any IPA’s, just lagers. Try this and see if you like it,” he said as he withdrew two small brown glass bottles from the lower compartment. The Magus placed them on the bench, took out a small tool from a sliding drawer and popped the metal bottle tops off with a swift motion. He passed me the icy cold bottle then took up his own and toasted me.
“Here is to our partnership Meridiana.”
The Magus tipped his bottle in a small salute to me then drank deeply of his… beer.
Returning the gesture, I then took a hesitant sip. It was cold like the lower levels of hell, slightly bitter yet oh so crisp and refreshing. Totally different to the Lemonade I had just drank and very unlike ales I had consumed in the past. I swallowed and enjoyed the sensation.
“A partnership hmm? Most interesting Magus,” I said as I looked further around the space I was in.
The room was like a lords hall, one long space that measured at least 66 feet in length, maybe more, it was hard to tell with a cursory glance. The width was probably 18 to 20 feet. To my right was a large well made table surround by half a dozen plushily upholstered leather chairs and beyond that a space where there were luxurious divans and more chairs.
What excited me the most though were the shelves filled with books that bordered an entire wall. My mouth opened at the sight of so much knowledge! In front of the large table, surrounded in what must be an emperors ransom in the clearest pure glass was a little open air atrium, filled with flowing plants, creeping vines and small fruit trees as well as a small fountain in the shape of the head of a childlike Dionisius, with water spewing from his mouth, splashing into a little stone pond in front of its face.
“Do you worship the god of wine?” I asked intrigued as I gazed at the stone head wreathed in grapes and vines.
“Huh? No. That was a leftover from the previous owner’s bad taste. I couldn’t be bothered to get rid of it as it would have cost a fortune to do so so I’m stuck with the little bastard. I keep the fountain on because it stopped the bloody mosquitos from breeding in the pond,” he muttered darkly.
“You astonish me Magus. You live in an opulent palace, surrounded by glass, granite and marble yet you complain about the cost of removing the effigy of a dead god… how intriguing.”
I shook my head. So much to take in all at once. It was a heady rush. He shrugged as though this was nothing to be proud of, merely something he lived in.
The pristine white tiles felt cold upon my bare feet as I wandered over to the bookcases. In front of me was a blue…velvet? … couch piled with colourful cushions. That would be my seat of power I decided.
Behind the couch was another huge set of windows, framed in dark burnished metal and obscured by a gauze curtain. To each side, pulled back, were two more heavier curtains made of another ever so finely crafted fabric. On the floor was a large carpet that had the look of one that had come from the inner steppes of Asia. I knew of these as there were a highly prized item in Gerbert’s day, each costing a small fortune in gold.
I turned and stared at all the books lining the shelves, marvelling at this priceless horde of knowledge. Some of the books were tall and large while others were small enough to fit into the palm of your hand. I could now read the titles that were clearly written in the most precise calligraphy across the spine of each book. So much to read!
I took my ease upon the wonderfully comfortable blue divan, relaxing amidst the plush silk and fluffy cushions and gazed back at my Magus who took his seat in a black leather clad… throne?... that swivelled on a pivot! Astounding!
“So my Magus…what do you intend of our partnership? To be honest, and that’s rare coming from a demon, I am still confused as to why you require me? You seem uninterested in the carnal exquisite pleasures I can bestow upon you, you are already richer than my last master… and he was a Papal Prince! So what is it then?”
He leaned forward, placing his half-drunk bottle of beer on a low level table that separated our seats. Sitting back he, steepled his fingers into a pyramid of evil contemplation as he calmly regarded me.
“Oh… that’s quite simple and from what I know of your abilities and powers, it will be super easy, barely an inconvenience for you. What I want is for you to kill some people who deserve an express ticket to hell. Their rotten souls are destined for your realm anyway, you just get them there, painfully, ahead of schedule.”
My eyes widened, lighting up with both surprise and savagely gleeful delight as this was turning out to be the most extremely interesting summons I have ever had as I took another sip of my beer.
How supremely fascinating indeed.
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