Horse Racing Terms & Horse Betting Glossary OFF TRACK ...

A whole bunch of Bannerlord tips and tricks you may not know (as of version e.1.5.1)

Bannerlord is a great game that is currently plagued by some serious issues, from glitches and bugs to simply not bothering to explain its own mechanics. Without any mitigation or forewarning, these little problems can really snowball and ruin your experience. I've compiled this list of tips and tricks to help other players get around some of these problems and also to maximise your fun while the game remains in early access.
 
I've separated everything up into categories so that you don't have to dig through too much to get to the stuff you're interested in. Also, stuff that's relevant to new players only is marked with a [NP] in front of it, so you can skip that if you already know the basics.
 
Edit: Wow, I hit the 40000 character limit so now I have to add more tips as comments instead!
 

How Stats, Skills and Perks work

[NP] Your character's progression consists of increasing stats, skills, focus, perks and levels. Stats govern your base aptitude in a set of three skills. For example, the Vigor stat affects your aptitude with one-handed, two-handed and polearm skills. Skills represent your ability with that particular skill. For example, the Bow skill affects your aim with the bow and the Steward skill directly affects how many members you can have in your party. Perks are essentially special abilities that are awarded at specific skill levels, e.g. 25, 50, 75 and 100. Sometimes you will get to choose between two perk options. Make sure you check whether a perk is implemented before you choose that perk! (See paragraph below) Lastly, focus points allow you to increase your max skill level with a skill and also provide an exp multiplier, making you gain skill points faster. Note that if you try to train a skill that's reached its limit, it will grow very slowly and eventually stop growing altogether. Thus, you need a constant investment of both stats and focus points to max out a skill. Since your stat and focus points are limited, I suggest you prioritize only a few skills to max out, and accept that the rest will never be fully completed.
 
[NP] In the character creation screen, the various skills are grouped by stats (in bold, above the individual skills) and each specific skill can have up to 5 focus points assigned (the vertical bars). Each skill you can learn is limited to a max number which is determined by the combination of stat and focus points you have for that skill. With full focus (5 bars), you will need about 6-8 stat points in a skill to allow you to completely max it out. Furthermore, the perks available for each skill are only partially implemented. This means that investing points into some skills is currently useless. To see which perks are implemented, I recommend using a site like https://www.bannerlordperks.com. At the time of writing this post, the entire "Cunning" stat has zero perks implemented, making it virtually useless to you. If you're new, I highly recommend getting points in Social, Vigor and Endurance. Social (specifically the charm skill) allows you to convince nobles to marry/join you more easily and improves your troops' morale (leadership skill). Vigor is your basic melee combat stat, which you will use a lot in the early game and especially in the arena. Lastly, endurance allows you to improve your movement speed (riding/athletics) and is necessary for smithing (skill), which is a really useful mechanic that I highly recommend you try. Another good choice is Control, if you wish to be a ranged character.
 
So how does leveling work in Bannerlord? Well here's what the Skills screen looks like using the character (C) menu Using skills with slowly increase your ability with them. The more focus points you have in a skill, the faster it's skill points will go up. Furthermore, your character will gain "exp" every time he/she gains skill points. Or more accurately, exp in this game IS skill points. That is to say, training the various skills is the only way to level up. NOT killing enemies, as you might have first thought. This means you can level up just by trading, smithing, running around, or leading armies. You don't even need to fight simulated battles mostly, though doing so will award you with tactics points and some combat skill points. Every level you gain will award you with either a stat point, a focus point, or both. You can spend these points to increase the relevant stat or skill focus bar. When you have points to assign, they will show up on your character screen. In the earlier screenshot is your NPC brother who you always start with, though his name and appearance is randomized. Because I chose the "assign perks myself" option, I can choose his perks right away (represented by little numbered shield icons next to his skills that tell you how many perks are available to choose). You'll note that to the left and right of the "Skills" table there are weird icons with the number 0 next to them. The left number represents stat points to assign, and the right number is focus points. Your new character will start with 1 free focus point to assign. To assign a focus point, select the desired skill and click the "+" sign. REMEMBER: No choices will be saved unless you click "Done", and you can revert all changes made so far by clicking the curved arrow between "Done" and "Cancel". To assign perks, click on the shield icons in the banner in the middle of the skill page and a popup will appear. Click on the perk you wish to choose - again making sure it's actually implemented first - and then when finished click "Done" to finalize your choices. Don't forget that you can use the left/right arrows to assign skills and perks for your NPCs too!
 
One more thing about perks. The "Governor" perks DO NOT APPLY to your character, because you can't be the governor of any of your cities/castles. Thus, don't pick governor perks for your main hero unless they also come with side-abilities that you want.
 

Starting the Game and the Main Storyline

[NP] The various factions each come with a special ability. You can use all troops from all factions, so don't worry about being shoehorned into any particular troop type by your choices. Instead, focus on the ability you'll get. Not all abilities are made equal and not all factions are equal either. Currently, the Khuzait faction is kind of OP due to the AI being too dumb to figure out how to handle horse archers, so select them for an easier early-game. Vlandia gets bonus troop exp, which means you can promote veteran troops faster than others. Empire skills are building-focused, which means you need to own fiefs to really gain any benefit from using them. Sturgia are... faster in snow. Also their troops are supposedly weaker than normal (this will eventually change), so pick Sturgia if you're a masochist. Battania are kind of situational with their forest boost (so maybe don't pick them either), and Aserai get trading bonuses, so pick them if you want to be a merchant or just like money.
 
[NP] Clicking the various family options will show you the potential change in stat points and focus points that you will gain for that choice. You will have about 7 different choices to make before your character is ready to play. Try to pick choices which focus on your ideal stats and skills while minimizing the other ones. Here's a sample character I generated using the stats I recommended earlier. Don't worry too much about making perfect choices here, since you will gain many more stat and focus points throughout your game too. Plus, you'll use most of the stats/skills at one point or another. After this, your brother will ask if you want to do the tutorial. The tutorial only teaches you how to fight, so if you already know that you can skip it.
 
If you follow the story you will play through a storyline quest for a while until you've rescued your siblings and experienced the execution mechanic in action. Then you will have to chase down a bunch of clan leaders and lie to two special characters who will never interact with you again once you've made your final choice. However, and this is something I want to emphasize heavily: You do NOT need to make a choice about what to do with the dragon banner immediately. In fact, I strongly recommend you do NOT make a decision until you're very well situated in the game. Why? Because it starts a doomsday timer that you cannot slow down or affect in any way, and when it runs out 3 factions will declare war on you all at once and try to grind your entire faction into the dust. Instead, forget about the story quest and just enjoy the game at that point until you are extra powerful and ready to take on the world. Once you succeed at that quest I'm pretty sure you win the game, and if you start it before you're ready you'll be in for a world of hurt.
 

The Campaign Map

The game has a really useful feature called the "Encyclopedia". Press 'N' to open it when in the campaign screen. If you want to track down a notable figure, you can search their name or clan in the search bar and it will tell you where they were last seen. Anytime you speak to another noble or visit a settlement, town or castle, it will update the rumours of where that noble was seen most recently. This will allow you to track down anyone with ease. You can also see if they were taken prisoner, got pregnant, or switched allegiances recently. Furthermore, you can use the Encyclopedia to check nobles' relations with you or each other, allowing you to single out the nobles who hate their liege and are ripe for conversion to your kingdom. You can also use the encyclopedia to check troop upgrade paths, details about cities/settlements, and info on minor factions, who are like secret clans that you can recruit if you choose to be your own kingdom. All in all, it's incredibly useful for planning your next move.
 
There's a circle next to city/settlement names in the overworld and the encyclopedia. Clicking that circle "bookmarks" the city/settlement, which means you can easily find it on the map. Clicking it again removes the bookmark.
 
[NP] If you hover over any of the symbols at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, you can get detailed info on how the values are calculated. The symbols are, from left to right, money, influence, HP, troops, food and morale. The money icon will show you your daily income vs daily expenses. Influence will show your influence gain/loss over time. HP is your own health and recovery rate. Troops shows what troops you have in your army. Food shows how much food you have and morale shows what's affecting the mood of your soldiers. Using these icons helps you figure out what you need to do to make their values go up instead of down.
 

Fighting Battles

Against minor enemies like looters, it's usually relatively safe to use "Send Troops" instead of going in there yourself. You won't gain tactics skill from this, but your troops will gain all the exp instantly instead of spending 5 minutes fighting first.
 
[NP] You can issue commands to your troops by using the F keys. F1 is the movement menu, F2 is the direction menu, F3 is the formation menu, F4 is whether or not to use ranged weapons, F5 is mount/dismount for cavalry, F6 enables AI control, and F7 allows you to split your groups up and assign the split members to other groups. (e.g. split infantry and assign half to "heavy infantry"). You can also use the number keys (i.e. 1,2,3 etc) to select specific groups of troops to give orders to. 1 is infantry, 2 is archers, 3 is melee cavalry etc. Any non-mapped number selects all troops. This allows you to have fine-grained control during combat. HOWEVER for the most part the numbers and relative experience of the two armies is the deciding factor in how a battle goes. Sometimes you can use the terrain to your advantage, but mostly your tactics will do very little to actually affect the battle's outcome, especially in sieges where taking control of the AI will completely break their ability to use siege equipment and attack or defend properly.
 
Some basic strategies for manually commanding troops during simulated battles are as follows:
 
You can cheese simulated battles by abusing the "Retreat" command. Hold "Tab" to bring up the stats menu, and press middle mouse button to get your cursor back. Then you can click "Retreat" to teleport your entire army safely out of the battle. Then you can restart the battle with the number of troops remaining from before, but both armies are placed far away from each other again. Combine this with a lot of archers, and you can whittle the enemy numbers down before they reach your army and then simply retreat and start over again until the odds are solidly in your favour. This lets you overcome basically any odds so long as you ensure your opponent takes more losses than you do each time.
 
Levelling up your troops can be tricky as the experience system isn't very clear as to what gives the best troop exp. However, the following things seem to work fairly well: * Some of the Leadership perks grant lots of free exp over time. In particular, Raise the Meek will rapidly turn all of your lowest-level troops into higher-level ones over time, and the level 225 one, Companions, basically gives you the Vlandian empire troop exp bonus, which stacks with actually being Vlandian * Steamrolling fat groups of looters using "Send Troops" is relatively safe and usually awards a handful of troop upgrades each time * Beating nobles' armies when you have about a 2:1 ratio of your troops to theirs is also usually pretty safe and the higher-level troops they have with them yield much more exp * Winning a siege will be extremely costly in terms of deaths, but the troops who survive will gain tons of experience. Defending a siege will be less costly due to having the home turf advantage, but it's harder to engineer those to occur * Doing hideout raids and taking along a group of only archers is a great way to level up those 9 archers, so long as you don't aggro the entire hideout at once. Just make sure you use F4 frequently to enable/disable "Fire at will" or they WILL try to shoot bandits at the other end of the map and summon the wrath of god down on you * Keep your troop morale high by buying lots of different varieties of food. I'm not sure if morale is fully implemented yet, but you won't have the awkward issue of your troops all running from a difficult battle at least
 

Building your Clan

[NP] Your clan has a ranking in the clan screen (press L), shown at the top right. Earning renown increases this ranking, and every new level adds more soldiers to your armies and other useful clan perks to your arsenal. Max clan rank is 6, but you won't get there for a very long time. The easiest way to gain renown is through winning large battles, so battling lots will quickly raise that renown score.
 
The game doesn't tell you this anywhere, but you can have your family join your party by visiting them in whatever city they are hiding in and talking to them (or left-clicking their portrait in that city). Your brother in particular is basically a veteran soldier right from the start of the game, so adding him to your party will give you a huge early-game boost. His high steward score also increases your party size by a lot, so having him around lets you field more soldiers until your own steward score catches up. Later on, set him up as governor of your best city/settlement to give it a huge boost.
 
You can recruit companions at taverns in major cities. Not all companions are created equally, so I recommend using a companion guide to figure out which ones have skills that you want. You can also manually check their skills by right clicking the character's portrait from the city screen or searching them in the encyclopedia. That way you'll know what they are good and bad at before you go through the long dialogue with them. I personally find the tacticians/stewards most valuable as you can make them lead armies for you (more on that in a bit), and the ones with high trade are helpful because you can create caravans with them for bonus income during peacetime. You can only recruit your clan level +1 companions at a time, (e.g. 2 at clan level 1). This means you should be very picky about who you hire.
 
If you have joined a kingdom (or started your own), you can persuade other factions' nobles to betray their current faction and join yours. For this you need three things: High charm, luck and money. Save your game. Speak to the noble and say you have something to discuss. Ask about their liege. This will lead to a skill challenge where you have to get 4 successes in 4 attempts (either 100% successes or at least 1 critical success). This is entirely RNG, so choose the highest % options and pray. Or load back a lot. If they hate their monarch you'll have a very high chance of succeeding in at least 1 of the 4 challenges. Once you've successfully convinced them, you then need to bribe them. The bribe usually is about 100k denars, but can go all the way to more than a million denars if they own lots of land (because your team gets the fiefs too when they convert). Unless you're insanely rich, use the encyclopedia to find the poorest, most disenfranchised nobles and you'll discover that you might be able to pay them even a single denar and they'll happily convert. Beware, others can convert YOUR allies too, so try to make sure you give every noble at least one castle to keep them happy and on your side. Also if you save a lot and see the message that a noble has left your kingdom, you can load back and often they won't leave the second time.
 
If you release a noble whom you beat in combat instead of taking them prisoner, you will get a 6-7 point relationship increase with everyone in that noble's clan. Doing this is an excellent way to butter them up for future conversion to your kingdom.
 
Convert the head of a clan to your kingdom and their entire clan will also convert along with them!
 
You can use your influence points to put policies in place that suit you before adding others to the clan. In the Kingdom menu (K), you can go to the policy tab and scroll through the various policies there. Basically, most policies either benefit only the ruler, benefit only the vassals, or adjust your kingdom's rates (e.g. tax rate and growth rate). If you're going to start your own kingdom, take this chance to vote in all the royalty-favouring policies before you add people who disagree with you. Conversely, if you're a vassal, you want to add more vassals to the clan and THEN vote in all the vassal-favouring policies. Both of these strategies will not only increase your influence gain rate, but also make it much harder for a rogue AI to steal powecities from you later on in the game. It will also prevent you from getting disliked by other nobles from voting against their wishes since they won't even be in your kingdom yet.
 
As a male character, you can marry a noble to have her join your clan. I'm not sure if it's the reverse situation for female heroes or not (i.e. you join their clan). This provides two main benefits. One, you gain another party member to bring along in battle, and two, you can make babies (heirs) who will inherit your stuff if/when your character dies. If you end up playing for enough time you can also eventually add those heirs to your party once they've grown up enough. To woo a noble, simply profess your love to them then return and visit them a few times. You'll have to pass charm checks to woo them properly, so as always, save beforehand! Eventually they'll tell you to talk to the clan leader, and then you'll barter for their hand in marriage. Usually it's pretty cheap.
 

Kingdom/Clan Management

Did you know that war declarations can be avoided (by sort of cheating)? If you save often and then suddenly get war declared on you (or by your kingdom on someone else), just load back to that save. It's a (low) random chance for war to be declared so there's a strong likelihood that the next time you get to that point in time literally nothing will happen. This allows you to avoid all wars that you don't want! Since the game AI is so bad right now, sometimes this is the only way to save your kingdom from utter annihilation.
 
You can equip the companions in your party with awesome gear too! This took me 40 hours to realize, but on the Inventory (I) or trade screens, there are arrows at the top that let you select a different character to equip. This works with the Character (C) screen too, allowing you to assign perks or stats/skills to your companions.
 
In your clan management screen (L), under the parties tab, you can assign your companions to various roles within your party. Generally, this causes the game to act as if your own skill with that particular role is the same level as the assigned companion. For example, if you assign a companion with 80 medicine skill as surgeon, the game will cause you and your troops to heal as if you had 80 medicine skill. Keep in mind that if you don't assign a party member to a role then you will gain the exp for doing that role. In other words, it's a trade-off between gaining free experience and having your party be more effective on the campaign map. The one role in your party you definitely don't want to assign a companion to is Quartermaster, because that trains the Steward skill which you want to raise as high as possible.
 
You can create separate parties under your clan management screen's "Parties" tab. This allows you to send companions off to raise armies and gain exp all on their own without your intervention. You can also assign them to their own personal role within that party (even the Quartermaster role!) for bonus exp and it won't affect your own exp. Parties have three major benefits that make them very useful. Firstly, they will recruit their own troops for you! The max party size is dependent on the companion's steward skill and your clan rank. This means that with enough time you can create an allied party that's virtually equal in size to your own army. Secondly, those parties can be summoned to your army on a whim (click the flag icon down the bottom right of the screen - you must be in a kingdom to do this) and it costs 0 influence! Thirdly, the parties automatically will go around fighting battles for you and increasing your own influence and reputation. I highly recommend creating at least a few parties. There's a few downsides to be aware of, however. Firstly, you pay all the troop wages for the other parties. This can get VERY expensive if you're not at war and constantly defeating armies for money. Secondly, like any roaming entity, your companions can get attacked and captured by enemy armies. If that happens, you have to wait for them to escape or be ransomed and then track them down in whichever city they end up in to reclaim your companion. This can be very annoying. Lastly, if you're a vassal, your liege can actually summon your companions to their army, thereby using your hard-earned troops for their own personal gain! That's the price of being a vassal though.
 
Sometimes you cannot assign roles to party members through the clan screen. This tends to happen if you assign a companion to a role and they die in battle. If this happens, instead select them in the party screen (P) and talk to them. You can assign them roles from the conversation menu instead.
 

Making Money

[NP] In the early-game you will find the tournaments in city arenas to be almost impossible to win. However, with the power of save/load and determination, you can win big in tournaments by betting on yourself every round. If you win the tournament, not only will you get a sweet prize but you will also be several thousand denars richer. At least until your reputation catches up to you and they start offering less and less money for your bets.
 
The best way to make money in Bannerlord is smithing (once you've unlocked enough recipes and have about 140 smithing skill). Early on, the stuff you produce is worthless, but as you start making tier 4 and higher weapons you will discover combinations that create weapons work up to 100k denars in value! Make a handful of these and you can go around from city to city, buying up all the expensive armor while still walking away with 20k+ more denars each time. There are many guides to smithing that can be found elsewhere, but here's a few minor tips:
 
The second-best way to make money is by thrashing other nobles in combat. If you're at war, target every enemy noble you see whom you can easily beat and trounce them. Not only do you get money and items for beating them, you can also ransom them at taverns for even more money. You also get money when you capture cities in sieges. Naturally, when you're at peace, you'll find it much harder to make money this way.
 
You can purchase workshops in cities and have them produce goods for a small profit (around 75-125 denars per day). It generally costs about 13k denars to buy a workshop, so it won't become profitable for approximately 140 days. Because of this, if you wish to use workshops you should select cities which you are unlikely to be at war with for a long time (e.g. your own faction's cities!). After all, if you end up at war with a faction, all of your workshops in that faction are stolen from you. To buy a workshop you must physically walk around town. If you hold alt you will see three semi-random workshops throughout the city (e.g. wine press, brewery, smithy). If you walk to one of these shops during the day you will find NPCs loitering around nearby called "Shop Worker". Talk to the shop worker and tell them you want to purchase the workshop.
 
To decide which workshops to build in which city, examine the fiefs which feed into that city. You can also use a workshop guide, but I find these aren't always correct due to frequent patches. The bottom line is this: Pick a city which has at least one source of workshop materials (e.g. grain, sheep, hardwood) in its settlements. More than one source is even better. Next, buy a workshop and select the type that uses that material. For example, grain is used by breweries, and wood is used by a wood workshop etc. Then, you wait. You can check the workshop's profitability from the clan tab (L), but remember, don't expect it to become super profitable anytime soon. These are long-term investments.
 
Another way to make money is caravans. Caravans are more profitable than workshops, but come with significant risk, especially if you're at war with anyone. Basically, you assign a companion to manage a caravan (which costs 15000-25000 denars to make depending on the troops you assign), and the caravan will travel from city to city buying and selling goods. Companions with high Trade skills are essential here. While travelling, the caravans can be attacked by looters, bandits, and worst, enemy armies. If the caravan is captured, you'll have to go rescue your companion or wait for them to be released. Then you'll have to spend another 15-25k to get the caravan going again. Basically, don't do this if you're a warmonger. Anyway, to form a caravan, talk to any merchant in a city and choose the "I want to form a caravan in this city" option. Caravans will net you varying amounts of money, and the income will not be every day, but in my experience they are more profitable than workshops and much more annoying to keep track of.
 
If you have a high trade skill, instead of making caravans you can be a caravan. Load up on sumpter horses which increase your max load, and then use trade rumours (talk to civilians hanging out in town markets) to determine the best places to buy and sell stuff. Buy low, travel, sell high. If you make 30 denars per sale and sell 100 trade items, that's 3k of profit. If you make 100 denars per sale, that's 30k profit! Again, keep in mind that cities generally only keep 20k-30k denars on them at a time, so if you take too many goods you will not be able to sell them all.
 

Siege Warfare

Holding the alt key highlights both important people and weapons that are lying around. You can use this during sieges to replenish ranged ammo and locate nearby interactible things.
 
You can use the siege weapons that your army/city has built. This will train your throwing skill and also open some neat opportunities. For example, you can use catapults to smash siege towers! It takes 4 hits to achieve but boy is it worth it!
 
Catapults and trebuchets can be aimed left and right but also have a red gauge on the side which affects the distance that your shots travel. You can change this bar using W/S to choose how close or far to shoot. Generally you want the distance to be less than half the red bar because your targets are a lot closer than the range on the siege engines.
 
When defending a city you will notice piles of rocks (called merlons) lying around upstairs in the gatehouse. You can take these rocks and drop them on enemy troops for massive damage (400+). You can also use them to smash the battering ram with a few good throws, thereby protecting your gates.
 
You can place your troops before a siege by pressing the numbers (e.g. 1 for infantry) and then clicking where you want them to go. However they just run back to where the AI would have put them anyway, so it's not worth it right now. But someday it might actually work as intended!
 
Is the castle you were staying in being beseiged by overwhelming numbers? You can sally forth to attack, use archers to pick some troops off, and then retreat from battle before their enormous army starts hacking your party apart. Repeat this about a dozen times and you'll have a much more manageable enemy to fight, with very few casualties on your side. For the love of god though save before you try this. Also note that, due to a bug, when you sally out of the castle you'll be plonked onto the overworld map when you retreat and won't be able to get back in without sacrificing troops.
 

Misc

THINGS NOT TO DO

 
And... that's it for now! I'm sure I forgot some tips but I'll edit them in as I remember. At the very least it should open up some new gameplay avenues for some people, and maybe make things a little less stupid for others. If you made it to the end of this very long post: well done!
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Flatten the Curve. Part 44. Bill Gates Rumored Doomsday Bunkers. Bill Gates Hoarding. Rockefeller Institute & Unethical Human Experiments. Toxic Dust Storms and Covid-19. It's Hidden in Plain Sight. Wake up.

Part 43 is here
Listen up. Do you have a gnawing feeling that something isn't right? A gut instinct? Is your intuition leaving you in a state of vigilance? Is your spidey sense tingling? Do you feel like the truth is hidden in plain sight, but you can't quite see it?
You're not alone.
So what is the truth and why won't they just tell us? They aren't going to tell us the truth because most of us can't handle the truth. They experiment on live subjects in the past, but suddenly they've seen the light? Suddenly they've found morality and embraced truth and ethical behavior?
The Stateville Penitentiary Malaria Study was a controlled study of the effects of malaria on the prisoners of Stateville Penitentiary near Joliet, Illinois, beginning in the 1940s. The study was conducted by the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago in conjunction with the United States Army and the State Department. At the Nuremberg trials, Nazi doctors cited the precedent of the malaria experiments as part of their defense. Link Here
Any day that Nazi Doctors use your experiment as a defense for Nazi medical experiments is not a good day.
Let me show you one other part of the puzzle that you need to read. Let me show you that at some point the money, power, or even the scientific research can detach some individuals from reality.
"A number of years ago, we talked about, 'What if there wasn't clean water? What if there wasn't enough food?" she said on the radio show. "Where might we go? What might we do as a family?' So, I think we should leave those preparations to ourselves." The only thing they did not prepare, however, was the vaccine or a treatment for the virus that would cause a pandemic, though she acknowledged how "lucky" she and her family are to be in a position of privilege when it comes to dealing with COVID-19. "What we mostly talk about now in our home every night is how lucky we are," she continued. "We understand our privilege. When we say our grace at night, what we're thankful for around the table, is that we aren't struggling to put a meal on the table as so many families around the world are." Link Here
Yep. Sure thing Melinda. You guys just sit around the dinner table (like us normal plebs) and talk about how lucky you are to have food. Then you went out and stocked up your basement. Maybe they hoarded all the toilet paper because they're so full of crap they can use TP to wipe their mouths with after they speak. And what a minute, isn’t hoarding food bad? And aren't billionaires just hoarding cash? Different rules for different people, and it makes no difference what they say publicly when it's still just the same crap.
August 7, 2019 | Many of the world's elite, including hedge fund managers, sports stars and tech executives (Bill Gates is rumored to have bunkers at all his properties) have chosen to design their own secret shelters to house their families and staff. Gary Lynch, general manager of Texas-based Rising S Company, says 2016 sales for their custom high-end underground bunkers grew 700% compared to 2015, while overall sales have grown 300% since the November US presidential election alone. Link Here
So which basements were you stocking Bill? I'm betting you stocked all of them. But that article really made it sound like you personally went grocery shopping, didn't it?
And there's that year again, 2015. The same year as the Bird Man plauge doctor video, coronavirus and bats possible pandemic discovered, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing went mainstream, and the Billy Boy pandemic warnings started with a Ted Talk, then the Doomsday Bunkers elite MKultra wealthy segment jumped by 700%.
That's not a good sign.
It's all connected. All of it. We might not know how. Or who's doing what. Or how bad our current ELE events will become, but we need to at least get an outline of the big picture, before the big picture turns into the Main Event.
As far as I'm concerned, there is no possible way our present unexplained mysteries aren't prognosticators of upcoming calamities.
No. Way. At. All.
Let's throw the spotlight back onto our pandemic. It's all plain and simple when you accept the government's and the medical community's word at Face(book) value. Our leaders tell us to Keep Calm and Carry On. Just take two official narrative pills and wait for the vaccine. It's all good. Honestly. Listen. Trust. Obey.
1913 to 1951: Dr. Leo Stanley, chief surgeon at the San Quentin Prison, performed a wide variety of experiments on hundreds of prisoners at San Quentin. Many of the experiments involved testicular implants, where Stanley would take the testicles out of executed prisoners and surgically implant them into living prisoners. In other experiments, he attempted to implant the testicles of rams, goats, and boars into living prisoners. Stanley also performed various eugenics experiments, and forced sterilizations on San Quentin prisoners.[13] Stanley believed that his experiments would rejuvenate old men, control crime (which he believed had biological causes), and prevent the "unfit" from reproducing.
Whelp, at least you could say that Dr. Stanley had the balls to carry out his experiments.
Tuberculosis. Syphilis. Herpes. Influenza. Malaria. The medical society treated us to a rolodex of experiments.
In 1941, at the University of Michigan, virologists Thomas Francis, Jonas Salk and other researchers deliberately infected patients at several Michigan mental institutions with the influenza virus by spraying the virus into their nasal passages.[24] Francis Peyton Rous, based at the Rockefeller Institute and editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, wrote the following to Francis regarding the experiments:
It may save you much trouble if you publish your paper... elsewhere than in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The Journal is under constant scrutiny by the anti-vivisectionists who would not hesitate to play up the fact that you used for your tests human beings of a state institution. That the tests were wholly justified goes without saying.
Wholy justified. Goes without saying. But we would never be so reckless with experiments today, no matter how justified, would we?
NY MAG. March 20
On January 13, less than a week after COVID-19 was identified as the virus behind the outbreak in Wuhan, researchers at Cambridge-based biotech company Moderna proposed a vaccine to fight it. A little over two months later, on Monday morning, a pharmacist in Seattle injected Rebecca Sirull with that vaccine, making her the third person to be injected in a 45-person clinical trial, the first human trial in the country. To rush the vaccine to clinical trial, Moderna skipped animal testing, a somewhat extraordinary measure. Sirull, a healthy 25-year-old editorial coordinator at a research institute, will receive a second injection in a month and have her blood drawn regularly for more than a year. Should the test be successful, the more optimistic estimates suggest that a vaccine could be available in 12 to 18 months. Intelligencer spoke with Sirull about her decision to take part.
Oh. Uhm. OK.
Jill Horowitz stood outside the Quaker Ridge Shopping Center in New Rochelle, N.Y.—an early COVID-19 hotspot—in March, stopping shoppers as they walked into the grocery store. She handed them blue pamphlets soliciting volunteers for a Rockefeller University antibody research study. “I would say, ‘Would you like to help us find a cure?’” says Horowitz, executive director of strategic operations at Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology. “I didn’t even have to mention coronavirus. This neighborhood was completely subsumed.”
Yessiree ladies and gentlemen, step right up, roll up that sleeve, and get a poke to save all the good folks out there from the pandemic. The one that contaminates surfaces, but now doesn't spread through surfaces. The virus that you don’t need a mask for because a mask will make it worse. The virus you might need a mask for because it wouldn't hurt, but it's not airborne. Put on a darn mask because the virus is airborne. Maybe. But air-conditioning makes COVID-19 worse. So only wear a mask inside. The virus that worsens with pollution, but don't worry about putting on the mask outside. Because if you wear a mask you'll stop the second wave. But there might not be a second wave, it might just be one long continuous wave.
Is anyone else getting the impression that they don't have enough information about the virus to be issuing guidelines yet?
But I'm just being paranoid. I'm sure of it. That was then, and this is now.
Then: In a 1946 to 1948 study in Guatemala, U.S. researchers used prostitutes to infect prison inmates, insane asylum patients, and Guatemalan soldiers with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases in order to test the effectiveness of penicillin in treating the STDs. They later tried infecting people with "direct inoculations made from syphilis bacteria poured into the men's penises and on forearms and faces that were slightly abraded . . . or in a few cases through spinal punctures". Approximately 700 people were infected as part of the study (including orphan children). The study was sponsored by the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Pan American Health Sanitary Bureau (now the World Health Organization's Pan American Health Organization) and the Guatemalan government. The team was led by John Charles Cutler, who later participated in the Tuskegee syphilis experiments. Cutler chose to do the study in Guatemala because he would not have been permitted to do it in the United States. In 2010 when the research was revealed, the U.S. officially apologized to Guatemala for the studies. A lawsuit has been launched against Johns Hopkins University, Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Rockefeller Foundation for alleged involvement in the study.
That is so reassuring as we move forward, isn’t it? And don't give me any that was back then we've changed arguments. We haven't changed at all. Proof? Ok. Let's go.
This is a link to an LA Times article that talks about Bill Gates and his AIDS fight in Africa. You go Bill. Get them vaccines out to the people. You're such a good guy! That's what a New Normal article would say. This isn’t a New Normal article. It's scathing in it's judgment. They may not be dying of AIDS, or just living longer with AIDS, but they are dying due to other factors, which should be easily acquirable with the wealth at Bill's disposal to prevent.
But there was one item that caught my eye. It talked about a Paper Mill that was in a country in Africa, that Bill owned a substantial amount of stock in. This company owned paper mills in North America. Those paper mills were environmentally friendly with little emissions. But not the one in the African Country. Nope. Not at all. That one didn't bother with environmentally friendly processes.
The story goes on to discuss how one of Bill's AIDS treatment recipients lived downwind from this plant and how the fumes we're probably killing him. And what were the fumes?
Hydrogen Sulfide. (Read more at Flatten the Curve) - Part 13
Yes seriously. Treating them for AIDS while downwind from Hydrogen Sulfide. I'm not sure about you, but that sounds like a medical experiment to me. Seriously, the guy that wants to stop climate-change by geo-engineering the planet doesn't use his clout to stop the pollution from a paper plant that he owns stock in. OK. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
Yet actually it might. No, seriously, it really might. I've already stated that the virus seems to be activated with environmental toxins. And here we have an ultimate real life laboratory. And what does this real life laboratory research?
Why maybe it researchers Miasma theory? Huh? Yep. Here we go.
The miasma theory is an obsolete medical theory that held that diseases—such as cholera, chlamydia, or the Black Death—were caused by a miasma, a noxious form of "bad air", also known as night air. The theory held that epidemics were caused by miasma, emanating from rotting organic matter.
Rotting organic matter, like at meat plants?
May 7, 2020: www.wired.com | Why Meatpacking Plants Have Become Covid-19 Hot Spots.
June 23, 2020: https://www.bbc.com | Coronavirus: Why have there been so many outbreaks in meat processing plants?
And do you know what else was associated with Miasma Theory? The Bird Man plauge doctor, just like the 2015 "you're all dead" video.
The word miasma comes from ancient Greek and means "pollution". And then we have Covid-19 and pollution.
The idea also gave rise to the name malaria (literally "bad air") through medieval Italian.
Malaria? What? Crazy? Aren't there debunked studies about Malaria drugs working on COVID-19? Nah. Must be fake news. Right? Or fake facts. Or is it fake news reporting fake facts? I'm just so confused.
Does the strangeness end there? Sadly, it doesn't folks. Not at all. Not in this New Normal.
Because Mr. Bill Gates is trying to eradicate tuberculosis.
And, Hydrogen sulfide stimulates Mycobacterium tuberculosis respiration, growth
Back when I looked for information about the pandemic, I noticed something odd, the mortality rate for Covid-19 fluctuated depending on the region. Now I'm not a doctor, but you don’t have to be to read, do you? So I kept looking at the data for similarities. And they were there. Hypoxic or polluted water like lakes or coastlines. Cities with factory polluting emissions. They all led to outbrakes and higher mortality rates.
And then it changed. I saw ourbreak regions with low mortality rates. It didn't make sense, but there had to be a reason. There's always a reason. And as I kept looking at the similarities of low mortality rates something jumped out, a lot of them were still vaccinated for Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.
Yep.
But this is crazy talk Greek! You're just looking for dots and finding a way to connect them. It's just a coincidence that Bill Gates is funding AIDS prevention, an article exists that points out a therapy participant is close to a source of hydrogen sulfide emissions from a company that Billy has stock investments in, and that Billy also has a program to eradicate tuberculosis. Stop seeing patterns where they don't exist. You're freaking people out.
Crap. Perhaps you're right. Maybe I am freaking people out. But let me show you something else. It's something that I noticed about a month after this pandemic was shutting us down. And it didn't make any sense to me at the time. Ready?
www.pnas.org | BCG vaccine protection from severe coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19.
BCG? What's that?
www.sciencedaily.com | Preliminary study suggests tuberculosis vaccine may be limiting COVID-19 deaths.
And then the studies started backing it up. Even betteworse, they linked it to Hydrogen Sulfide, endogenous not exogenous, but Hydrogen Sulfide is the same no matter if you breathe it in or produce it biologically.
So, yeah. Let's dig.
Endogenous Hydrogen Sulfide stimulates Mycobacterium Tuberculosis respiration, growth, and pathogenesis.
In mammals, H2S elicits a biphasic, concentration-dependent mitochondrial response14, which can be cytotoxic or cytoprotective. For example, at high concentrations H2S reversibly inhibits cytochrome c oxidase (Complex IV)15–17. In contrast, at low concentrations H2S can serve as bioenergetic fuel to stimulate mitochondrial respiration without uncoupling of respiration. Link here
At high concentrations Hydrogen Sulfide can be cytotoxic and reversibly inhibit cytochrome c oxidase. We've followed the White Rabbit and now we're digging. Can't stop now. Won't stop now.
Defects involving genetic mutations altering cytochrome c oxidase (COX) functionality or structure can result in severe, often fatal metabolic disorders.
Disorders involving dysfunctional COX assembly via gene mutations include Leigh syndrome, cardiomyopathy, leukodystrophy, anemia, and sensorineural deafness**.Link here.
Anemia? Like, the Momento movie? Do I have amnesia now and I have to live my life backwards?
Hold on, don't freak out. You don't have amnesia. Self inflicted amnesia induced systemically via behaviorally manipulated echo chambers introduced systemically through social media electronic pathways? Possibly. But this is anemia, and that's another story.
Current management of COVID-19 is based on the premise that respiratory failure is the leading cause of fatalities (Zhou et al., 2020). Nevertheless, mounting evidence points to drastic systemic events taking place that contribute to accelerated COVID-19 pathogenesis. The “cytokine storm” is a notion that is reportedly hailed as the hallmark of the COVID-19 hyper-inflammatory state (Mehta et al., 2020). Consecutive studies linked COVID-19 related hyper-inflammation to systemic events including hypercoagulability, oxidative stress and altered iron metabolism. Mehta et al., 2020, Phua et al., 2020
Hyperinflammatory and altered iron metabolism. Following? Good.
Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) has been regarded as an infective-inflammatory disease, which affects mainly lungs. More recently, a multi-organ involvement has been highlighted, with different pathways of injury. A hemoglobinopathy, hypoxia and cell iron overload might have a possible additional role. Scientific literature has pointed out two potential pathophysiological mechanisms: i) severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV- 2) interaction with hemoglobin molecule, through CD147, CD26 and other receptors located on erythrocyte and/or blood cell precursors; ii) hepcidin-mimetic action of a viral spike protein, inducing ferroportin blockage. Link Here.
Hypoxia? Where have I heard that before?
A dangerous symptom of the coronavirus that can cause a patient to fall unconscious or even die is known as hypoxia — when the body’s tissues do not receive enough oxygen. Dr. Richard Levitan, an emergency doctor working in New York City, wrote for the New York Times at the end of April that he has seen COVID-19 patients with “alarmingly low” oxygen levels, but no shortness of breath. He describes this as “silent hypoxia”. These patients had oxygen saturation levels as low as 50 per cent when normal levels are usually at 94 to 100 per cent at sea level, Levitan explained. These patients had oxygen saturation levels as low as 50 per cent when normal levels are usually at 94 to 100 per cent at sea level, Levitan explained.
Low oxygen levels. Dysregulates immune system. Are your They Live sunglasses on? Are plugged into the Matrix or hacking the Matrix?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov | Hydrogen sulfide stimulates Mycobacterium tuberculosis respiration + growth.
Tuberculosis (TB) is responsible for millions of deaths each year and several billion people are latently infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Mtb modulates host factors, such as endogenous gaseous signalling molecules, to persist in humans for decades. H2S has diverse biological functions, including modulation of immunity and cellular respiration. However, the role of H2S in TB is unclear. We found that mice deficient in H2S production are more resistant to Mtb infection than WT mice. Upon infection, Mtb increases host H2S, which suppresses central carbon metabolism and increases inflammation. Distribution of H2S-producing enzymes in human TB lungs showed that H2S is produced at the site of infection. These findings identify glycolysis and H2S-producing enzymes as targets for TB host-directed therapies.
Don't Freak Out like LeChic, but I don't think we're in Kansas anymore Dorothy.
Speaking of Kansas, do you remember the dust storm as the tornado blew in and swept Dorthy to Oz?
The “Godzilla” Saharan dust cloud over the US, explained:
Dust clouds originate in the Sahara, the largest desert in the world outside the poles, and the Sahel, just south of the Sahara. Much of the dust originates in the Bodélé Depression in Chad, an ancient dry lake bed at the threshold of the Sahara and the Sahel. There, convective storms in the early summer whip the dry ground and loft particles of silica, iron, and phosphorous as high as 20,000 feet into the sky. Link Here
And then we have this:
Residents wear face masks to protect themselves from the Saharan dust clouds covering Dakar, Senegal. N95 masks and even surgical masks can help protect people from getting sick from the dust. Breathing dust can trigger problems like asthma attacks and worsen conditions like heart disease. But particles from natural sources can pose some unique threats. “Desert soil can also be contaminated with bacteria and fungal spores or with toxic heavy metal,” Achakulwisut said. “For example, in the US Southwest, dust episodes there have been linked to outbreaks of Valley Fever and arsenic poisoning.” Link Here
Contaminated with bacteria. Guaranteed Anaerobic bacteria. And it carries along metallic compounds. Like this:
**A 2001 study in Limnology and Oceanography suggested that the seasonal windfalls of iron-rich Saharan dust become a banquet for red tides, blooms of algae that spill into the ocean like dye, deplete it of oxygen, and release toxins. Dust clouds can also host unwelcome stowaways. Jun 24, 2020 Link Here.
Red tides. Blooms of algae. Or rather perhaps, Cyanobacteria blooms? All in a dust storm. Maybe we should start wearing masks, right? Don't want to breathe in toxic dust, do we?
But Snake Park is no paradise. For decades the residents have lived with the mine, which they say blows clouds of dust into their homes. Now Snake Park, formally known as Doornkop, is in the sub-district with the highest number of Covid-19 infections in Gauteng. Last week, Gauteng Premier David Makhura linked “cluster outbreaks” on mines, and people moving between them and where they live, to the Covid-19 infections in the western part of Soweto. In 2017, the Bench Marks Foundation, a nonprofit that monitors multinational corporations, released the results of a survey of household health in four mine-affected areas in Soweto. Mine tailings contain heavy metals and chemicals and cause various illnesses, including mental health issues and Down’s Syndrome. The report found that more than two thirds of the respondents in Snake Park complained about respiratory problems, including persistent coughs, sinus issues, asthma and tuberculosis. This year, the August dust storms in Snake Park will coincide with the expected peak of Covid-19 infections in Gauteng.
“We can’t breathe well. This mine is very dangerous. It’s toxic,” Phongoma says, adjusting his bright blue mask. Looking at the mine dump, now glistening in the afternoon sun, he adds: “It’s a bomb. It’s a nuclear weapon — and with this Covid-19 thing, it’s going to explode.” Link Here
Stranger and stranger, isn’t it? So strange that I would venture to say, Stranger Things haven't happened. You might want to read Flatten the Curve Part 39, and what I wrote about Turkmenistan and wearing masks for toxic dust. Link Here
So where are we now? Knowwhere or nowhere? Are you a nobody or a knowbody? Is this picture that I'm painting connecting enough dots for everyone? Does anticipating mass riots in protest of the upcoming environmental collapse, and the wars for natural resources along with it, make the centralization of the economy plus the mass surveillance system make more sense? The masks and facial detection AI improvements? Does ID2020, another Billy Boy project make more sense? The upcoming robotic automation of the workforce? The curtailing of civil rights? Heck, what about the Bill Gates endorsement of impossible meats and the sudden push to vegetarianism? Remember the meat plant shutdowns? Rotting organic matter and Hydrogen Sulfide?
Please remember, Hydrogen Sulfide outgassing is pretty consistent across past Extinction Level Events. Does this mean that all hope is lost? Puhlease. Hope flows abundant. We shut Pandora's Box before hope could escape, remember?
Let me leave you with one final thought. Words matter. Look them up. They know what's happening. They know all of this. The words they use hide it in plain sight.
I've written about Bill's fortuitous investment strategy. How he seemed to hit all the right stocks as the pandemic and environmental collapse strikes. It's mostly hidden in shell companies after shell companies, but it has to start somewhere. And it does. He owns Cascade Investment L.L.C. Link Here
Which: Oct. 22, 2014 · A subsidiary of Cascade Investments LLC, which oversees the Gates fortune, is buying thousands of acres of land in north Florida. Link Here
And what does Cascade mean? Let's look?
cascade (n.)
"a fall or flow of water over a cliff, a waterfall," 1640s, from French cascade (17c.), from Italian cascata "waterfall," from cascare "to fall," from Vulgar Latin casicare, frequentative of Latin casum, casus, past participle of cadere "to fall" (from PIE root kad- "to fall"). cascade (n.) a succession of stages or operations or processes or units;
To prepare. To fall. Interesting choice for a name.
Meteor showers occur when the earth bowls through a dense stream of debris left in the wake of a comet, asteroid, or other space-borne object. Depending on where you look, you may encounter fewer meteors, however. Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere will see shooting stars emanate from the shower’s “radiant” point in the southern sky, meaning the best meteors with the longest tails will be most readily visible in the east and west. A much more spectacular meteor shower — among the year’s most prolific — will pepper the skies with a spattering of bright shooting stars and “fireballs” come mid-August. The Perseid meteor shower peaks the night of Tuesday, Aug. 11. Dozens of shooting stars could be visible beneath a clear sky every hour. Perseid meteors zip across the sky at 37 miles per second. Their diaphanous tails can appear white, orange, yellow, pink, turquoise and even violet, lingering in the sky for a few seconds. The rainbow spectrum of colors come from the combustion of magnesium, sodium and iron. Link Here
Pepper the skies with fireballs. Fall from the skies.
Comet 67P's rotten-egg smell comes from hydrogen sulfide, and the horse-stable odor comes from ammonia. These scents are blended with the fainter almond smell of hydrogen cyanide, the vinegarlike odor of sulphur dioxide and the sweet-smelling scent of carbon disulphide, researchers said. Link Here
Hnmm. It definitely sounds like Bill was getting ahead of the curve before we started to Flatten the Curve, by being a good student and getting prepared before the hoarders bought up all the toilet paper for the upcoming SHTF event.
Wouldn't you agree? Are these all coincidence, or should we pay more attention?
They want us to Keep Calm and Carry On. When do people tell you to remain calm? When you start to panic. So do you really think they would tell us the truth and deal with panicking masses? Or do you think they would hide it?
Hide it in plain sight?
Keep your head up and eyes open. Talk soon.
submitted by biggreekgeek to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Wizard Tournament: Chapter 9

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      “The number next to your name is the odds,” Sylnya told Peter. “and I think that might be some kind of record.”
      “Record?” Peter asked. “Is that a good thing?”
      “It just means everyone thinks you’re going to lose,” Sylnya told him. “The longer the odds the bigger the number.” Draevin caught a glimpse of a smirk from Peter at this news for some reason.
      “Wait a second,” Peter said. “You mean people bet on the matches. Like in horse racing?”
      Sylnya’s face went blank. She looked to Draevin but he wasn’t sure what had her stumped. “Sure,” she finally said, “it’s probably a lot like whores racing.”
      Peter’s eyes went wide and he choked out a snort of laughter. “What?” Sylnya asked. “What’s so funny?”
      Draevin got his own laughter under control first and told her, “Nothing. Just something funny that happened at the last whore race. You’d have to have been there.”
      “I don’t understand you meat-creatures sometimes,” Sylnya complained. She went back to studying the day’s schedule. She had a twinkle in her eye that Draevin was uncomfortable with given her past history of gambling. “Matching up three non-wizards in a row can’t be a coincidence. They must be trying to get them out of the way.”
      “I thought you said nobody knew which of those two orcs was casting spells,” Draevin pointed out. “Drant’ro, that’s an orc name right?”
      Sylnya waved a dismissive hand in Draevin’s direction without looking up. “Yesterday’s news. Everyone was talking about it last night after they registered. It turns out Drant’ro was just a bodyguard for the other guy.”
      “And why would you know that Sylnya?” Draevin asked seriously. “You said you weren’t going to be gambling this year. Remember how much you lost last year? You still owe me a hundred gold.”
      Sylnya gave Draevin a guilty smile. “Well that was before a certain human entrepreneur bought up all my debt!”
      “Is that what all this has been about?” Draevin asked. It all made sense. “Alex is holding your gambling debt until you finish helping Peter?”
      Sylnya snaked an arm around Peter’s shoulder and gave him a rather uncooperative squeeze. “You make it sound like a bad thing, Drae. What’s wrong with helping someone in need? Are you really going to tell me he’s not growing on you?”
      “Yes,” Draevin said firmly. As the group approached the ticket booth Draevin paused. “Please tell me you remembered your promise to buy my tickets this year.”
      Sylnya’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh yeah. I forgot!”
      “Syl…”
      Sylnya pulled some stubs of paper from her belt pouch. “I forgot I upgraded us to a viewing booth last night.”
      “Those are… expensive.” Draevin gave Sylnya a flat look. “Did Alex pay for those?”
      “Not at all,” Sylnya said. They reached the ticket counter and Sylnya handed over her stubs. The little gnome behind the counter took them and handed the group over to a female dwarf in a purple button-down Guild uniform who promised to take them to their seats.
      “Well I know you didn’t pay for them,” Draevin told his friend while they entered the main access tunnel for the arena, which was now bustling with people.
      Sylnya gave a huff of annoyance. “Fine. I didn’t. It was actually Caelnaste that paid.”
      “Didn’t she steal his room last night?” Peter asked.
      “Exactly!” Sylnya agreed. “I went and talked to her last night. She just wanted to offer her apology for that whole thing so there’s no hard feelings. She said booting you was the Queen’s idea and she had no say in it.”
      Draevin remembered the two eldrin mocking him last night. “I’m not so sure I believe that, but it is a nice gesture.” He supposed most well-to-do eldrin must just have more money than they know what to do with.
      “Here you are,” their guide announced. They’d arrived at their booth. It was just three walls to help block some of the noise from the crowd and softer seats, but it beat the hell out of sharing a wooden bench with a hundred other fans like they normally did. And the booth was as close to the field as it was possible to get; the open front dropped right onto the field. “Be sure to talk to any Guild acolyte you see walking around if you have any trouble with your reservation.”
      With that they were left alone to settle in. Sylnya sat in the middle and made Draevin scoot over to make room for Peter, but even with the three of them Draevin had more room than usual so he couldn’t complain.
      “I have a quick question before the matches start,” Peter spoke up. A few Guild engineers were still on the field making last minute checks of the battleground so it looked like they still had some time to chat.
      “Go ahead,” Sylnya said.
      “I get that there are a lot of wizards specializing in physical magics, but what about the less physical ones like lithomancy, sensomancy or cerebromancy?”
      “Those are a lot less common,” Sylnya explained. “Lithomancy’s a bit too finicky for combat, but we get a few. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an illusionist though.”
      “How would they even fight?” Draevin couldn’t help but chime in. “What is even the point of magic that can’t hurt anyone?”
      “As for cerebromancy,” Sylnya continued. “There’s only one I know of this year but he’s the best in the world.”
      “Is that Tomrha?” Peter asked. “I thought you said he wasn’t a master.”
      “He might as well be,” Sylnya answered. “Cerebromancy’s notoriously difficult to master.”
      Draevin had to agree. “I’m just glad he’s on the other side of the brackets from me this year. My cryomancy is useless against mental magic.”
      Peter furrowed his brow, then readjusted his glasses before writing down some more notes in his pad.
      The engineers started clearing out and Sylnya pointed down toward the field for Peter’s benefit. “Those white squares on the ground at each end of the field are called the fighter’s boxes.”
      Peter nodded and wrote that down. “Is that what we stood in when we registered?”
      “Correct,” Sylnya answered. “Contestants have to stand inside until the bell rings. The enchantments prevent spell casting and unravel any active spells.”
      “Unless you’re really good,” Draevin added.
      “He’s just saying that because he always wears Frost Armor robes when he goes into his matches. Don’t listen to him. It’s normally a huge waste of mana to try to bring active enchantments into your match. They’ll usually be worn away by the time the match actually starts.”
      Draevin stuck his tongue at her. “You’re just jealous.”
      “Hardly, I don’t…” Sylnya trailed off when she noticed the crowd around them suddenly starting to quiet. Draevin looked out at the field and saw the announcer was walking into the center of the arena. She was a master sonamancer from Eldesia named Maeve who wasted her talents acting as an announcer in exchange for fame and a steady paycheck. As an eldrin, she complimented her natural white skin and glowing white eyes with a bright shimmering dress of the same color designed to catch the light.
      “The first match of this year’s Wizard Tournament,” Maeve announced in the same soft voice that had made the previous announcement, “is between Shea and Joseph.” She gestured towards Shea on one side of the arena. The blue-skinned sea nymph waved both finned hands for the crowd. “Shea is a sea nymph hydromancer representing the Underwater Municipality of Shashena. She is carrying The Conch of Endless Tides.” At the mention of her item Shea held it up for the crowd to see, as was tradition. “Shea wants everyone to know that if they want their next vacation to be magical they should plan a vacation under the sea that they’ll never forget.
      There was a smattering of applause. Sylnya commented to Peter, “The conch gives her access to a source of infinite water.” Peter nodded, scribbling in his little notepad.
      “Shea’s wish is for immortality,” Maeve finished. She then gestured towards Shea’s opponent. He held up a scrap of burnt cloth. “Her opponent today is Joseph, a half-elf from Caldenia.” There was an immediate booing from the audience in response to this announcement. “Joseph carries a scorched swaddling blanket from the Draenlin Orphan Fire earlier this year.” The crowd laughed at this.
      Draevin felt the need to comment. “Another one of Korack’s. I don’t know how he convinced the poor sap anyone would just let him win. You might not want to watch this next part.”
      “No,” Peter said firmly. His jaw was clenched tight. “I’ll watch.”
      “Joseph wants everyone to know that The Draenlin Orphan Fire was a tragedy the likes of which has never…” The crowd started making too much noise to hear the announcer’s words after a short time. People were screaming, booing, laughing and even just whistling. Maeve waited patiently for everyone to calm down before she finished. “Joseph’s wish is to bring back all the children who died…” The crowd drowned her out once again. Maeve just shook her head and departed the field gracefully. Normally she sat with the judges in the upper stands and when she returned to her seat the crowd finally went silent.
      The contestants were in position. Maeve raised her hand to signal the judges and the piercing chime of a bell rang through the air. The first match began.
      Joseph gestured ineffectively with his scorched blanket. Shea giggled at him and pulled a stream of water from her conch with a flowing gesture. Joseph was on his knees preaching, Draevin even caught the word “children” in his speech.
      Shea hit him with a torrent of water that blasted him backwards. He slid back until it looked like she was just going to push him out of the arena and take her free win, but then at the last second she twisted her fingers and the water wrapped around Joseph in a globe that suspended him in the air. She dangled him upside down, flinging him this way and that to the crowd’s amusement while he drowned. When she was done toying with him she dropped him on the ground.
      She let him cough for a moment and catch his breath, then as soon as he opened his mouth to speak she shot the stream of water down his throat. He struggled for just a moment, before exploding into a shower of wet gore.
      The crowd erupted in cheers and high in the stands above the bell chimed a second time. Maeve announced, “Joseph is dead. Shea wins.
      The announcement let loose a roar from the crowd. Draevin was disappointed in how few of the fans were booing Shea’s pointlessly violent display, but he added his voice to theirs. “Booo!”
      “She just killed him?” Peter asked incredulously.
      Sylnya just shrugged. “There’s no consequence for killing someone who isn’t registered with the Guild.”
      “And what’s the consequence for killing someone who is registered?”
      “Only a fine if you didn’t register a Mutual Assurance pact with them.” Peter looked disgusted.
      “You’re going to need thicker skin, human,” Draevin advised. “It gets a lot worse than this.” Peter gritted his face but didn’t respond.
      A pair of medical wizards, marked by their white robes, marched into the arena. They quickly used some spells to clean up Joseph’s “mess” while other apprentices in purple removed the water.
      “They have to reset everything after each match,” Sylnya explained, “so it’s fair to all the contestants.” She took the time to point out the four large boulders scattered symmetrically across the field. “Usually they repair those rocks when they’re used for cover, but even cleaning up water is important.” Peter nodded.
      “The next match is against Drant’ro and Faernyl,” Maeve announced from her more permanent position above the stands on a raised dais next to the judges.
      Faernyl, the red-headed elf they’d run into on their way to the arena grounds, was already waiting in his fighter’s box. The other box remained empty.
      There was a commotion over in the contestant seating area. Draevin peered over and saw some Guild acolytes in purple arguing with a pair of orcs. One was a tough warrior type with a large sword on his back while the other had a grey beard and a long walking stick. The acolytes were trying to get the warrior to move and he wasn’t having any of it. He finally pulled out his sword and they were forced to leave him be.
      After a few moments a messenger ran up to Maeve. “I’m afraid Drant’ro has refused to fight. He has been disqualified from the tournament,” she announced to a chorus of boos. “Faernyl’s match will be postponed until an alternate can be located. We will move on to our third match early. Will Korack and Peter please make their way to their fighter boxes?
      “That’s you!” Sylnya barked at Peter. “You better hurry!”
      Peter jumped out of his seat. “Already? Where do I go?”
      Sylnya pointed back towards the way they had come. “Back that way, same as when we registered yesterday. The stairs on the left.” Peter nodded. “And good luck!”
      As soon as Peter was gone Draevin let out a big sigh of relief. “It’s about time,” he said. “All his questions were starting to get on my nerves. I hope you still get paid after Korack kills him.”
      Sylnya glared at him. “You can be really insensitive sometimes you know. But yes. I will.”
      When Draevin stretched his legs into the extra space his foot bumped against something. He looked down to see what it was and spotted Peter’s leather satchel. By all accounts the bag was going to be Sylnya’s responsibility after this. He scooped it up to give to her and it made a loud jangling sound. He shared a curious look with Sylnya. “Sounds like it’s full of glass bottles,” he commented.
      She snatched it from him and took a cautious peek inside. It was indeed filled with bottles. Dozens of empty glass bottles. There was also a roll of parchment. “Is that his Fireball scroll?” Sylnya asked.
      Draevin picked it out and carefully unrolled it until he could make out the raised, glowing runes. “Unless he has two of these things.”
      Her mouth opened in shock. “Give it here, There’s still time before his match starts!” She didn’t give Draevin a chance to hand it to her though, she just yanked it out of his grip and shoved the satchel into his arms. “Kot. Ride!” She commanded her shadow. Her shadow stalker, Kot, emerged and she jumped on its back. The pair bounded away down the stairs in the direction Peter had gone.
      Left alone with Peter’s bag Draevin decided to satisfy his curiosity regarding the glass bottles. He held one up for inspection. There was just the slightest hint of white light glowing on the rim. Were these mana potions? Was he recycling the bottles?
      He spotted Korack stepping into his fighter’s box down on the field. A few seconds later Peter jogged up to his own box a little red-faced from his run. Almost immediately a familiar green-skinned creature rode up on the back of a shifting black cat. Sylnya tried to hand Peter the scroll but he shook his head. They argued for a bit, then she left with the scroll still in hand.
      “Sorry for the delay. We’re ready to begin the second match,” Maeve announced from her raised dais. The crowd’s individual conversations broke off and a short cheer erupted.
      After the noise quieted Maeve gestured in Korack’s direction. “In this round we have last year’s tournament champion, Korack!” The crowd cheered appreciably. Korack held up a rod of unknown material covered in intricate carvings. “This year Korack has brought as his item a custom magical focus. Korack’s sponsor this year is Trunstown. Korack is wishing for immortality if he wins this year’s tournament and he wants everyone to know his wish last year has nothing to do with the famine that his home nation of Kreet is currently experiencing.
      The crowd continued cheering for another minute. While this was going on, Sylnya returned to the booth with the Fireball scroll. “Apparently,” she said as she dropped into her seat, “he didn’t want it. He said it would be useless against a pyromancer and he didn’t want to risk it getting burned.”
      Draevin shook his head. “He’s probably right, but there goes whatever slim chance of winning he had.”
      Sylnya just sighed and stuck the scroll back in Peter’s bag.
      Maeve was gesturing to the other side of the stage. “Korack’s opponent this year is a human named Peter.” The response from the crowd was mixed. Sylnya hollered her support, but most of the rest of the crowd was booing. There was a pocket of humans, way in the back of the cheap seats on the second level, that was making a bit of a racket.
      “There seems to have been some kind of confusion with our human contestant,” Maeve continued, “and he’s entered his box without an item—” It was impossible for Maeve to continue talking as the crowd erupted in a cacophony of laughter. Showing up without an item simply never happened. Maeve had to wave her arms for a while to quiet down the crowd. “Peter chose not to disclose his specialization.
      In the short gap of silence that followed, a large orc bellowed out, “Human’s don’t ‘ave any magic!” He was rewarded with a shower of laughter and a small boo from the human section.
      Once again Maeve had to wait for silence. “Peter’s sponsor is Haevish Family Mercantile. Visit Haevish today while they’re selling ‘a copper a cup.’ That’s right, this is truly the cheapest wine available.” Maeve did the ad-read for Peter’s sponsor with an unenthusiastic deadpan. “Peter’s wish is to improve the lives of humans everywhere.” As soon as the crowd heard Peter’s sappy wish they started making a ruckus. It was impossible to separate the laughter from the insults. Draevin clapped politely for Sylnya’s sake.
      This time when the crowd quieted Maeve dropped her arm in the signal to the judges and the bell chimed to announce the start of the match.
      Almost faster than the eye could follow, Korack shot out a lance of flame compressed down into a beam that blasted straight towards Peter and pierced a fist-sized hole in his chest.
      He fell to the ground. He was dead instantly.
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The Spaaaaaaaaaa.......... v2.0

With the Saratoga season quickly approaching, I’ve had my arm twisted enough by the Discord team to revise my primer from last year. I live about 20-minutes east of Saratoga and it’s my home track; my first real memory of a horse race was betting on Forty Niner in the ’88 Travers……I was 6…… During the 40-day meet, I do most of my wagering for the year and consistently show a nice positive ROI.
What is Saratoga: The Saratoga Racecourse is the oldest continually operating sporting venue in the United States. The town of Saratoga was founded around dozens of natural mineral springs which were turned into bath houses at the end of the 19th Century. Those fighting conditions like Polio sought out the healing properties of the springs; FDR was a regular visitor. The town is about a 3-hour drive north of NYC, so it’s a major summer retreat for those looking to escape. During most of the year, Saratoga is a sleepy town of 25k; on a major race weekend that number will be 5x that.
Why is it Important: The 40-day long meet has 71 stakes with $14.45 million in purse, 39 of those being Graded. Most tracks best day of racing for the entire season is a regular Saratoga Thursday afternoon, the field size and quality here is just unmatched. The feature of the meet is the Travers stakes which this year is Derby Points earning but normally sees Triple Crown pointed horse gearing back up for a BC Campaign. Saratoga also sees a huge number of very talented maiden races where you will often see next year’s Triple Crown contenders get their start. Owners and Trainers want to show off their very best and a win at Saratoga means massive bragging rights for most. Due to its northern latitude and numerous training tracks, Saratoga is a massive training track that sees horse shippers from around the country even if they have no intent on running there. For the month of July and August, Saratoga really is the focus of all horse racing east of the Mississippi.
What you should know before going:
· With Covid, the track will NOT be accessible to spectators, even owners cannot get on the grounds. All vantage points have a police presence to keep away spectators. Your best option for viewing is sitting on your couch.
· Watch Talking Horses the morning of. Its on locally in Saratoga or you can watch on YouTube or with NYRA bets. While Andy Sterling can come off as a bit of a jerk (he is but I like him), he knows a lot about horses. However, he's always looking for a price and overemphasizes troubled trips, so keep that in mind. He does try to beat some really tough horses. Either way him and his associate will give you great background for all the races of the day with replays.
Angles to Consider:
· Having good friends is a massive benefit here. Fields are deep and competitive, so having a 2nd or 3rd set of eyes looking at PP’s is huge. A group of us Handicap a couple of days before each card, so hop on Discord and go through the races as a team, it will substantially boost your ROI.
· Saratoga is the land of Maidens, so Workout Reports are key. All the major east coast trainers will bring the best of their best 2yr old’s to Saratoga as winning a race there is massive. The only true way to gauge these horses is with workout reports. Always remember that PP’s are rearward biased; you care about the horse today, not when it last ran a month ago. Due to the time of the Saratoga meet, it’s very common to have improving 2 or 3yr old’s take a massive step up here.
· Best way to make money at Saratoga is to pay attention to track biases and to make out your own odds. Track tends to be very speed favoring one day and then it’s all closers the next; watch not just what horse is winning but how and adjust accordingly. Saratoga also sees a lot of "dead money", people with no clue who are betting names, colors, jockeys, trainers...etc. These people LOVE to chase favorites and they are very often overlay’s more here than any place else in the country. If you handicap with no ML and have a horse's fair value at 3-1 its often common to see it drift to 10-1 because a Pletcher firster is 1-9 when it should also be 3-1.... etc....
· Saratoga is also the land of crazy weather. It’s not abnormal to have half the card be 80 and Sunny then a pop-up Thunderstorm rolls through and you have mud with off-turf. The public has no ideas how to manage this and will still bet a turf horse who hates running on the dirt. This leads to some massive overlay’s if you’re prepared.
· Although the bias was much less pronounced last year than most, on all three tracks between 5 and 6.5f you want to fade the inside path. This is partially due to those distances seeing younger horses, but also due to the shape of the inner rail entering the far turn. Also watch for a dead rail that plagued the track for the first few weeks last year until it was re-graded which made it less pronounced.
· Fade horses in the 8 path and beyond in 2-turn routes, they have terrible statistics even when accounting for field size. The most problematic races are 1 mile on the Mellon turf where early positional speed is huge. 9 & 10f races on the main track also favor the inside as a shorter runup into the first turn can leave outside horses stranded.
· Jose Ortiz won the 2019 Jockey title, but it’s always super competitive. Saratoga has one of the best jockey colonies in the country but take note of big names taking choice. If you saw that JJ was on three horses last out but choose one of those this time over the others, it’s likely that horse is very live…. etc.
· Chad Brown also dominate the Trainer title in 2019, with it not even being a contest. His entire barn points for the meet so if it’s a CB horse, its live, just deal with it.
· With all the CB love at Saratoga, certain trainers also have TERRIBLE statistics and should be faded or avoided. Those trainers who have solid numbers of starters and do well at other tracks but suck at SAR are: Amoss, Arnold, Keneally, McPeek, Moquette, Rivelli, Romans, Stall, Stewart and Wilkes. You’ll notice a KY trend there; yes, it is real….
· Pay attention to “well meant shippers” meaning oddball ships and weird drops. Look for horses coming out of smaller tracks like a Penn, FL, GP West, OP... etc... who are trained by small time trainers who have limited starts. Betting public tends to feel a lot more comfortable backing a Pletcher horse than a guy who sees 25 starts a year from a 5-horse stable. You'll often see a horse who ran in a couple MSW races at a Penn for say 12k, took a two month break with little work pattern, then shows up at Saratoga in an MCL 32k and wins. Also, huge class drops are less of a concern at Saratoga as traineowner title are so important, hell just winning a race is huge so often people will be OK being claimed away to say, "My horse won at Saratoga". You also tend to see a lot of horses who have one or two not very impressive starts, go on the bench for a month or two and then appear at Saratoga and win from a no-name trainer and connections, things often don't pass the sniff test and are often live in doing so.
Some of the Reddit/Discord group will also be doing a daily Saratoga focused show with information on our impressions from the day along with what to look out for tomorrow which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/onthewronglead
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Book 1: Chapter 29: Coming Together

Madison
I thrust my sword and grunted with effort as I did so.
The new armor that Ragna had designed was insanely heavy, terribly cumbersome, and I was shocked at its poor design in that regard.
Ragna watched me as I managed as best I could before she finally stopped me, “just as I expected.”
“Did you design this armor out of lead, Ragna?” I asked. In private we would drop the formalities.
As monstrous as Ragna was in public, in these private moments, she was almost human. Today more so than usual.
The new armor was thicker than I recalled. I wondered if this was an attempt to respond to the sniper shot that damaged my armor, and shoulder, last time.
The fact that we were now marching against the United States of America probably had a whole lot to do with it.
“For Theodora,” I thought to myself. It brought me out of my self imposed retirement. I knew my old country had been in charge of some fucked up shit.
Deposing fascist dictators left and right, poisoning world leaders, kicking out democratically elected officials who were ‘against the interest of national security’, and so on.
I guess it’s different when it happens to someone who didn’t deserve it, like Theodora.
I had met Theodora plenty of times. She was a wide-eyed and sweet girl. Sure she could be crass at times but I remember hearing her talk about peace plenty of times in the Palace. The girl wasn’t a warmonger. It gave me hope for the future of Penthesil.
But now? I was infuriated as the rest of Penthesil. We had all agreed: the US had their time as a superpower. Now, that time has come to an end.
“Draw your other sword,” Ragna asked.
I frowned, “the chaos blade?” I asked. I had no other word for it.
Ragna nodded.
I drew the blade and, to my shock, everything changed.
I couldn’t help but smile, the sword in my hand seemed to sync up with my armor and the armor became light as a feather. My armor itself changed colors and I felt strange energy surrounding me.
“Oh that’s…” my eyes unfocused and I felt a bit dizzy, “that’s kinda cool.”
Ragna lifted an eyebrow as I grabbed the sword with both hands.
I swung the sword and imagined the violence and destruction I’d reap with this thing. I jumped up into the air as if I was held down by nothing and sliced a dummy in half, my eyes and ears filling with the cacophony of battle.
“Drop it, Maddy, please,” Ragna pleaded.
Without hesitation, I dropped the sword.
I knew better than to skip an order from Ragna. As the sword left my hands I dropped to my knees. I turned to Ragna, “What the fuck was that? I felt…”
“Insane, I’m guessing? It appeared as if a bloodlust came over you,” Ragna helped me up, concern on her face.
I nodded, “I wouldn’t call it bloodlust,” I turned to the sword, “...it was a desire for chaos.”
Ragna nodded, “I see. I suppose that makes sense. Your patron Goddess imbued that blade after all.”
“Yeah,” I flexed the armor, watching the color drain from it and it’s weight return, “What kind of armor is this?”
“Armor that shifts energy signatures and synchronizes with the wavelengths of the user,” Ragna said as she bent down to pick up the blade herself.
“Meaning…?” I asked, hoping to get the layman’s version of whatever Ragna was explaining. She always addressed me as if I too were some hyper-intelligent alien/angel creature, like herself.
Ragna’s normal moment of prideful triumph wasn’t there as expected. Her eyes were mournful as she sheathed the sword for me, gently helping me out of the armor.
“It means,” Ragna began, helping me out of the heavy breastplate, “that if you have a powerful enough aura, the armor syncs with it, draws from it, and helps to evenly distribute that energy.”
Ragna’s eyes were full of concern and stress and I swear I could see the thousands of thoughts rushing through her head through her eyes. I decided to use the rare trump card I had, as she was beyond troubled.
“Sellenia,” I asked, “what’s wrong?”
Ragna’s eyes stopped their million thoughts a second as she fixed her eyes on me, her expression still stoic, “Madison, we have discussed you calling me by my old name-”
“What’s wrong?” I pried further.
Ragna lifted the breastplate off of me and the difference in weight was a relief on my lower back. “Your son, do you often think of his future?”
“Everyday,” I smiled a bit, “and the future of all the reclaimed, to be honest, Ragna.”
Ragna nodded.
“Can I ask you, completely and honestly,” I decided to hit at a softer subject before broaching what was really getting to her, “you got furious when I first explained abortions to you. Why?”
Ragna scoffed, “this again?”
“I’m going into battle and I might not come back,” I pleaded, “I’d like to know what it is that makes my friend act as she does.”
Ragna’s smile didn’t come back as I expected, whatever had her down, it was weighing hard on her. “When I was young, I didn’t put much stock in childbearing,” she heaved a sigh, her hand idly caressing her stomach. “I focused on fighting, killing, and taking what little sexual pleasure I could from the rare enough lovers I could find.”
“Sounds fun,” I attempted to joke.
Ragna still didn’t smile, “for me it wasn’t as frequent. But for Xyphiel, however? Oh, but did he have it easy? Being the ‘acceptable’ sexual orientation meant that he didn’t have to spend half the time convincing some woman to lay with him.” Ragna rolled her eyes.
“Too bad you didn’t find Penthesil sooner,” I remarked.
Ragna nodded solemnly, “it wasn’t long into our conquest of a particular world that it started. A woman came to Xyphiel carrying a child. She claimed the spawn she had created was Xyphiel’s. She said it was cursed because when it was born she tried to kill it and it would not die.”
“Oh,” I gasped, shocked, “okay.”
“At first,” Ragna admitted, “I didn’t think much of the little girl in the woman’s arms. But as she grew up? I fell in love with my first niece.”
“First?” I frowned.
“My brother’s rather virile,” Ragna explained and sighed, “Sume is such a sweet girl.”
“I’ve never met Sume, I don’t think, have I?” I asked.
Ragna shook her head, “she never leaves the library,” a smile finally cracked on Ragna’s face before fading entirely. “The thought that Sume wouldn’t be here, just because the mother was either raped by Xyphiel or because her mother didn’t want her always struck a nerve with me.”
I was surprised the reasoning wasn’t that of science, but emotion. Ragna was normally all science with policy, not emotion.
“By the time Sume was an adult, I had long since passed menopause,” Ragna turned to me, “Immortality for women is quite different. Xyphiel can fuck every woman in the universe and not lose potency, but I only had so many eggs before I ran out. That is why I developed my own method of having children,” Ragna explained. “It took me so long to develop, to the point where I even needed assistance to conquer a scientific roadblock.”
“A roadblock? For you?” I mocked.
“Stop brown-nosing,” Ragna mocked me back.
“Brown nosing? You want to hear brown-nosing?” I bowed low, “Oh Great Empress of Penthesil, what great mystery of the universe halted your great scientific endeavors!”
“Shut up, Maddy,” Ragna smiled at me, shaking her head. Ragna’s smile slowly weakened, “I had an issue with finding a method to encapsulate the split DNA into a multitude of compatible spermatozoa that were capable of impregnation.”
“But you figured it out eventually, right?” I asked.
“Not me,” she sighed, “Moria, a brilliant scientist on Adridia. She was compelled by another reason than myself. While I hoped to make a child for my future lover and I, Moria’s reasons were to show that a same-sex couple could, indeed, bear and raise a child together.”
“And adoption wasn’t possible?” I asked, having recently adopted myself, I couldn’t help but constantly talk about the wonderful feeling of caring for a child. Adonis was a beautiful baby. I loved him as my own and would do anything for him.
“On Adridia you could be hung for being homosexual,” Ragna explained, “Moria’s work, and her sexual orientation, was done entirely underground and I happily assisted.”
I flinched, Ragna’s stance starting to make sense.
“So, Moria and I worked for months to crack this code, to fight for our rights as women to have children however we pleased, with the person we loved,” Ragna sighed heavily, “...so when you first told me that there were women here who just cast aside such an opportunity? Who would kill little children like Sume, who would discard a gift that some of us would claw and fight for?” Ragna’s fist clenched, “it infuriated me.”
Getting this much insight into Ragna was common for me, but at the same time, it was something I was shocked to hear. Ragna would open up so much to me, and while I had opened up to her plenty about my feelings, I had nowhere near the life experiences that Ragna had. Not that it was a competition.
“So that’s why you pushed the Reclamation Project for women who wanted to abort their pregnancy?” I asked.
“Yes,” Ragna looked to her clenched fist, slowly opening it and staring at her palm, “If they didn’t want to be the mother’s of these beautiful children, then I would take on that responsibility.”
“As long as women can avoid unwanted pregnancy,” I reminded Ragna.
Ragna rolled her eyes, “I do so hate when you call them that.”
“It’s what they are, Ragna,” I pointed out.
“Your son is one of those, unwanted, is he not?” Ragna asked, “and you, do you not want him?”
I smiled, “Adonis is very much wanted by me and Hilly, but he was unwanted by his mother,” I argued.
“Well,” Ragna sighed, “now it’s a moot point, isn’t it? Now the women who wish to discard their children can do so,” Ragna looked to the door as I heard it open, “and the lives of those unborn can be preserved.”
I turned to see Zepherina walking towards us.
I had to take a step back.
Sure, I had seen the video of what had happened to Princess Zepherina before. But to be in her presence as she stalked towards Ragna, her eyes full of nothing but violet fire and murderous intent? It sent a chill down my spine.
I hoped the excited and child-like girl that had jumped down into a mosh-pit all those years ago was still in there. Then again, I thought back to that lighter moment, Theodora was with her then.
Theodora and Zepherina were so close, even then.
“Preserving life? Like you would know anything about that,” Zepherina sneered at Ragna.
I saluted, “Princess Zepherina.”
Zepherina’s fiery eyes shifted to me and I shivered as they did so.
“What have you done to poor Madison?” Zepherina said, shocked.
I blinked, “You… remember me?”
“You were with Captain Hillieve at the concert a few years ago,” Zepherina recalled, “you were in the royal balcony with me and…” her face fell.
I frowned, my heart going out to Zepherina as what was once a joyful memory filled her with despair. “Theodora’s memory will be avenged, Zepherina,” I tried to assure.
Zepherina’s normally happy face was nowhere to be found, even her wings had changed. They didn’t even look like feathers anymore but like a series of blades attached to her wings.
Zepherina’s mournful expression shifted to anger once more as she turned to Ragna, “why did you call me here?”
Ragna turned and walked to a large case, she picked it up with a grunt. I recognized it as a similar case that my armor had been housed in, granted this looked far larger. “I have a small gift for you. Consider it a small token of my affection."
As Ragna placed the case at Zepherina’s feet Zepherina sneered at her, "affection? I didn't know you were capable of affection.”
I flinched at the verbal jab Zepherina hurled and I couldn’t imagine the pain it caused Ragna. Ragna had nothing but love for Zepherina. Zepherina had none for her mother.
Though, to be completely fair, I couldn’t blame her.
“Open it,” Ragna instructed.
Zepherina scoffed at Ragna, then looked down at the case and got to her knees, popping opened the locks and opening the case.
The armor was larger than mine, but Zepherina was larger than me.
Zepherina’s hand touched the armor and as it did I watched as the armor pulsed and glowed with incredible energy.
I had to take a step back as the armor activated.
When Zepherina’s hand moved away, the energy died down slightly, “What is that?”
“It will help to evenly distribute your power,” Ragna explained, “it gels with your energy, the armor is as strong as the aura of its user.”
Zepherina looked it over, then without much hesitation, she pulled her shirt off, and began to don her armor.
As she touched each component, I was shocked as the armor shifted from an off-white to a jet black with violet trim. It was as if the armor became a part of Zepherina.
Zepherina clenched her fists and gave a few knocks to the armor here and there, “feels solid.”
Ragna nodded, walking back into another room and returned with a larger case.
This case was huge, even for Ragna, and she moved it with considerable difficulty as she placed the heavy case down on the ground.
“What’s this?” Zepherina asked, confused.
“Too big to be called a sword,” Ragna commented as she flicked open the case, revealing what Ragna described. A massive blade that was as wide as a normal sword would is long, and obscenely lengthy from to boot.
My eyes nearly leap out of their skull as I saw the size of this thing.
Zepherina looked up to Ragna, confusion on her face, “what did you say?”
“Massive, thick, heavy and far too rough,” Ragna continued, “more of a heap of raw iron, though in this case, raw Crystoleum,” Ragna boasted.
Zepherina knelt over the ridiculous looking thing, her gauntlet clad hand moving over the weapon. As she touched it, it turned black like her armor. The hilt shifted as well, a violet light pulsing along it’s edge, the seal of Penthsil was proudly on the pommel, with the old seal sitting prominently at the center of the hilt.
“I spoke to your momma and she told me you had some particular tastes,” Ragna smiled.
Zepherina looked up from the ground, her expression still one of anger, “so, what, now I’m supposed to love you?” Zepherina sneered.
Ragna’s smile vanished, “I don’t expect an ‘I love you’ but a ‘thank you’ wouldn’t kill you.”
“I don’t know,” Zepherina got to her feet, “it might," she snickered.
Ragna’s lip quivered for a moment, “I am trying with you, Zepherina.”
“Stop,” Zepherina snapped, “it’s not worth it because I will never accept that you're my mother.”
I bit my lip, taking a step back from the pair as they clashed.
“So, just using me to get your revenge then?” Ragna narrowed her eyes.
“As long as you’ll let me,” Zepherina’s eyes blazed with a newfound heat, “unless you think you can stop me if I strike out on my own.”
Ragna was glaring at Zepherina, her eyes looking furious, but I knew Ragna wasn’t angry.
She was hurt. Badly hurt.
“I suppose I will just see you tomorrow for your training,” Ragna said as she stormed off.
I heard a door slam as Ragna left the room.
Zepherina knelt by the sword once more.
“...she does love you,” I said softly behind Zepherina.
“I know,” Zepherina said as she moved her hand over the huge sword, gripping the handle and lifting it with ease. She held the sword out in front of her, the thing as long as she was tall. “I’m sure this sword wasn’t easy to make,” she gave a wide swing to the right and I felt the air in the room swirl as she did so.
“So, you won’t let her in at all?” I asked.
Zepheirna turned to me, looking me up and down, “Did you let her in?”
I nodded, “She helped me become a warrior and not just a Hestie.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a Hestie,” Zepherina said, placing the sword back in its case, closing it tightly. “Hesties raise our children and keep our homes while we’re at war. Anyone who diminishes the Hesties and the House of Hestia isn’t a true Penthesilean Valkyrie.”
I smiled, “I bet Launa would be happy to hear that.”
Zepherina frowned, “Launa’s terrified of me.”
“Oh,” I swallowed hard, as I wasn’t necessarily calm when Zepherina first showed up.
“What’s scary about me now?” Zepherina asked.
“What?” I gasped.
“Why are you terrified?” Zepherina turned to me, the fire in her eyes now replaced by soft wisps of violet smoke, rising from her void-filled sockets and over her brow. Her eyes had emotion still, I could see her brow furrowed and the smoke within her eyes was moving in soft, gentle motions.
“I think… we’re just afraid you’ve…” I cleared my throat and steeled myself, ready to take on whatever would come. “We’re afraid that you’ve snapped. That Theodora’s death has pushed you over the edge and that you’re going to destroy anyone that crosses you.”
I figured if she did kill me, she would have at least heard the truth.
Zepherina’s face didn’t twist to anger, instead, her hands shook and she fell to her knees, her face in her hands. Zepherina’s shoulders lurched as she began to sob.
At first, I turned from her to give her privacy as she cried, as was the Valkyrie way. But my heart ached for her pain. I closed my eyes tight. Shit… my passion for Rachel is removed but I must have some kind of maternal love for Zepherina… I turned and knelt next to her, my heartbreaking as she sobbed tearlessly into her hands. “I’m sorry, I should have phrased that differently.”
Zepherina looked up to me, her eye’s smoke looking more like a pair of boiling points of water, “But you’re right! I did lose control and I don’t know what might happen if I lose control again.”
I looked to her armor, placing my hand on her shoulder, “well, Ragna said this armor is supposed to absorb and distribute your strength. Maybe Ragna’s trying to help you focus your strength to help you?”
Zepherina sniffled, instinctively moving to dry her eyes, despite there being no tears, “our training isn't helping in that department.”
“How so?” I asked.
“I don’t have a limit,” Zepherina confessed.

Xyphiel
I flexed my hands and flinched as I felt the pain of my severed body below.
Ragna was going to leave me here, like this? That bitch! I had questioned her judgment before, but now? Now I knew she had lost her way.
The ruthless warrior now thought herself a Queen.
I would have to remind her of her place.
As I lamented my position, I looked out of the cylinder, spotting Bella approaching.
She spoke out loud and I could only hear her voice muffled through the water and glass.
I closed my eyes, speaking directly to her mind, “Speak in your mind Bella and I will hear you.”
When my eyes opened I saw Bella smiling wickedly, “Xyphiel, I’m happy to see you’re alive. I see you’ve run afoul of the Angel Timothy.”
I narrowed my eyes, “You knew of Timothy?!”
Bella nodded, “Timothy, Jason, Father Thomas, Trevor, and Lilith,” she confessed, “all have crossed me at some point or another. Father Thomas first, but Timothy was the angel that helped save that fool priest.”
My anger boiled over and the pain of my severed body was the only thing that kept me from shifting to my Niten form. “Why did you not tell me?” I demanded.
“Tell you? Why would I tell you my life story, Xyphiel?” Bella asked, “Our love is still fresh. How do I know that I can trust you implicitly?” Bella reasoned, crossing her arms and giving me an indigent look.
“Because that information could have saved me from being bisected!” I shouted into Bella’s mind.
Bella’s look softened and she sighed, “Then I’m sorry. Years of having to guard myself have left me with high walls. I rarely let anyone in,” Bella smiled softly to me, “you’re the only man to be so deep inside me.”
The double entendre notwithstanding, I decided to clear the air. “Timothy is my son,” I explained.
Bella took a step back, “Timothy? The Angel Timothy is your son?” Bella asked, clearly bewildered.
“Yes, that’s right,” I confirmed, “Rachel is his mother.”
“Oh, Rachel?” Bella grinned to me, “that harlot? My God Xyphiel, do you know how to pick them…”
I growled, “I assume you’ve seen her hanging off of my sister Ragna at every turn?”
“I see, so that brute of a woman stole her from you?” Bella mused.
“Yes,” I hissed into Bella’s mind.
“What an absolute bitch of a sister you have!” Bella gasped. She looked over the cylinder I was inside, “When is she going to get you back on your feet?”
“She has no immediate plans,” I explained.
Bella’s eyes narrowed, “oh, that will not do…” her grin then came back, more than devilish as her teeth changed to the set of interlocking jaws that appeared sharp enough to bite steel, “I’ll be right back.”
In an instant, Bella vanished in a puff of black smoke. It was only a few moments later that she arrived with a man about my height, who I suspected was one of the colonists.
The man shouted in dismay, turning to me, his eyes widened as he looked to me and cried out in shock.
Bella smiled, “Do you want to be out of there right now?”
“Yes,” I affirmed. I had an idea of what Bella had planned.
Magic often required an offering to be effective.
Black Magic, especially.
“What are you willing to give?” Bella asked, “will you sacrifice this man’s life for your ability to walk again?”
I grinned, “I’d sacrifice the entire lot of them.”
Bella squealed in delight, “I’ll be right back!”
Bella soon popped in and out with a few more colonists, four in total.
I grinned as they all grew more afraid as Bella’s hands started glowing with dark power, “Get me out of here, my Bella.”

Timothy
I was in the vault, going over the items we had in our possession. What could best be used to kill Xyphiel?
I turned to see a spear tip, blackened with blood. I walked over to it and took it in my hands.
Xei’s knife fighting lessons came to mind, and I gave a thrust with the spear. This would help.
“Why are you here taking the Spearhead of Longinus?” Sofia’s voice came from the door.
I turned and saw Sofia standing in the doorway, her arms crossed and her wings spread wide.
“You’re actually going through with it?” Sofia narrowed her eyes on me.
I got to my feet, tucking the Spearhead into a satchel with some other artifacts I had collected, “God says Only the Sundered Child, not The Sundered Child and his soldiers.”
“Am I just your soldier then?” Sofia narrowed her eyes on me, her anger growing.
I approached her, “I am possibly going to die, I’m the one putting myself at risk-”
“I’ve already lost you once!” Sofia shouted, tears welling up in her eyes, “I’m not losing you again!” She shouted. “That’s why I did this to myself, Tim! That’s why I burned my eyes out by looking as deep into Samael’s vision as I could! Because I wanted to be your sword because I wanted to be yours forever!” Sofia shouted, tears now flowing from her milky eyes.
My heart broke as she cried before me.
“Forever isn’t supposed to end! Forever is always, not just a few months! I won’t let you-” Sofia was cut off as I kissed her, pushing her against the wall and holding her tight.
Tears fell from my eyes as we crushed against each other.
Sofia resisted for a second before she pushed back against me, her tongue invading my mouth with passion and desire.
By the time we broke the kiss both of us were short of breath, my forehead was lowered against hers.
For a brief moment, I thought I saw the milkiness of her eyes vanish, “Make love to me, right now, and don’t you dare fucking stop!” Sofia demanded.
I locked the door to the vault, grabbed Sofia’s shirt, and ripped it opened.
Sofia gasped as I tore her shirt off, exposing her bra, “Tim!”
I pulled the shirt down her arms and began to kiss at her neck, causing her to let out another gasp.
“T-this doesn’t get you out of trouble!” Sofia breathlessly defended as I pushed her pants down, eliciting a groan of desire from Sofia. “A-and…” Sofia shuddered as I pressed her against the wall, “you owe me a new shirt…!”
I kissed her again and both of her hands were on the back of my head as we pressed against each other.
Every moment of passion was treated as if each press, thrust, or embrace was bringing us closer together.
I wished I could have laid there with her forever like Sofia wanted. Like I wanted.

After hours, we lay on the floor of the vault, Sofia laying next to me, her arm over my chest, snoring contentedly.
I glanced at Sofia, guilt taking me as what she said sank into me: “That’s why I did this to myself, Tim! That’s why I burned my eyes…”
I kissed her forehead softly, tears leaking from my eyes, “I’m sorry. If I could take it back, I would,” I whispered.
Sofia shifted slightly but didn’t wake.
I wished Sofia was her old self. Then I could at least choose mortality with her, and the two of us could grow old together. I shut my eyes tightly and imagined a world where Sofia and I had a normal life.
I would come home from my tour of duty, and we’d move in together. We’d meet each other’s parents, I would propose. Tears ran down my cheeks as I imagined a life we’d never have, never could.
My arm pulled her close to me as my heart skipped a beat, “Maybe in my next life…” I swallowed my sorrow down and took one more deep breath. “But this life’s fate? It’s sealed.”

Ragna
I watched in the observation room as Zepherina practiced her stances with the forcefield golems I often trained with.
“Horse stance and strike,” I instructed through the intercom.
Her strikes were growing more precise, less sloppy. I eyed the gravity readout, it was pinned hard at 24x the normal planet’s gravity. Rage was unable to increase the gravity in the room any higher, we lacked the graviton control power. Sadly, while using seawater to cool the systems was an easy modification, nothing was as effective as using the vacuum of space as a heatsink.
Still, Zepherina’s strength was limitless. This bodes poorly for a few reasons, but not immediately.
“Is this strength just a fluke?” I reasoned quietly. “She can’t be the only one, can she? Is my daughter the strongest being alive?”
Rage interrupted my thought process. “Incoming transmission from Timothy Crestfall.”
“Timothy?” I said, the intercom accidentally still opened.
Zepherina stopped her training, looking in my direction, “Timothy?”
“Rage, end the training system,” I ordered as I headed into the training room, the gravity normalizing.
“How high was the gravity?” Zepherina asked.
“Twenty four,” I explained.
“I didn’t even feel it,” Zepherina informed, disappointed.
“You served under Timothy, any clue why he’s trying to reach out to me now?” I asked.
Zepherina narrowed her eyes, “Timothy didn’t even tell me you were my mother. Why would he tell me any of his plans?”
“Well,” I smiled, “seems you, and I both have some business with Timothy.”
Zepherina walked past me, her attitude not yet softening.
I walked out after her and after Zepherina took a wrong turn down the hallway, I shouted, “The bridge is this way!”
Zepherina turned around and grumbled, “try some fucking signs in this place.”
She stormed past me, and I couldn’t help but smile at her.
I walked behind her, grinning at her frustrations. “What if she doesn’t love you at all?” I thought to myself. Oddly the thought crossed my mind as I came to a stop at the door which led to the bar. I blinked, turning to look inside.
I hadn’t meant to stop here. Was it just a habit?
Zepherina was next to me, giving me an odd look, “...that’s not the bridge, right?”
“No,” I said flatly, “It’s not.”
“No wonder you get lost here,” she motioned, “why is nothing labeled?”
I laughed, “open your mind to Rage, you’ll see the labels clearly,” I explained to Zepherina.
Zepherina scoffed and continued down the hallway.
I caught up with her, walking side by side with her. I, again, could not help but smile being near her.
When we reached the bridge, I saw Timothy’s face appear on the screen.
“Timothy,” I smiled, “I missed you.”
“Zepherina,” Timothy said, ignoring me, “how are you holding up?”
“Fine,” Zepherina said flatly, “can’t you tell?”
“I heard about Theodora, I’m so sorry Zeph,” Timothy offered, sorrow in his eyes.
“It was your government that did it, Timothy” Zepherina narrowed her now fiery eyes.
“Well, thanks to our mother, I’m no longer associated with them,” Timothy said, turning to me.
Zepherina turned to me, “what did you do now?”
“I told the truth, was that so terrible?” I confessed, smiling, “shouldn’t you be asking Timothy your own question?”
“I know the answer,” Zepherina spat.
“Oh?” I asked, “what is that answer?”
“Timothy was trying to spare me the knowledge that you were my mother. Frankly? I thank him for keeping it from me as long as he did,” Zepherina confessed. “I wish I didn’t know!”
I frowned at Zepherina and glanced at Timothy, “I assume you didn’t call just to tell me that you’re upset that I burned your bridges with the US.”
Timothy’s eyes narrowed, “I’m certain you have him on life support. I’m asking you to unplug him. Let him die.”
I sighed, “I can’t kill my own brother.”
“But Xyphiel can kill one of my brothers?” Timothy shouted.
Zerpherina’s attention snapped to the screen, “What? What did you just say?!”
“Elon…” Timothy heaved a heavy sigh, “Elon is dead, Zepherina. Alexis and Syria killed Elon on Xyphiel’s orders.”
Zepherina turned to me, fire burning in her eyes, “You! No!” Zepherina rushed towards me blindly before she was stopped by a field I was more than familiar with.
I spun on my heel and spotted Xyphiel, on his feet, seemingly himself, again! Next to him stood Bella, smiling wickedly.
Zepherina screamed, “You killed Elon?!”
I frowned at Zepherina, “I did no such thing, my fight was with you alone!”
Xypheil, however, merely grinned at Zepherina, “If ‘Elon’ was the undead sniper, then yes, that was done on my order.”
Zepherina roared in anger and charged at Xyphiel.
“Zepherina!” I shouted, “Don’t!”
Xyphiel lifted an eyebrow and in a flash unfurled his cape.
“Don’t hurt her!” I shouted.
Xyphiel hurled the cape over Zepherina, Zepherina vanishing in an instant. “You know where you can pick her up, Ragna. My son and I have some things to discuss.”
I narrowed my eyes to Xyphiel, “the vault dimension, really?”
“Don’t make me shut it,” Xyphiel’s grin grew, “or your daughter will find herself stuck there for the next ten years or ten minutes… time being relative and all.”
Timothy now spoke, “Father, you and I will speak shortly,” he turned to me, “but first I want to speak to my mother, face-to-face.”
I turned to Timothy, keeping a wary eye on Xyphiel. “Rage, open the vault door please, make sure Xyphiel can’t turn on the time dilation.” I sent the order to Rage quickly.
“Confirmed, vault door is opened,” Rage reported.
“Fine, Timothy,” I turned to Xyphiel, “and your father?”
Timothy turned to Xyphiel and Bella, “I’ll meet Xyphiel, alone, at the following coordinates. There he can try, and fail, to convince me to come home.”
“Coordinates received,” Rage announced.
“And where will I meet you?” I asked.
“Come to the Christian Church in Penthesil and you’ll receive further communications,” Timothy informed before the line went dead.
I nodded, turning on my heel and running towards the vault. I came to a stop in the hallway outside of it, finding Zepherina slamming her fist into a very dented wall.
I heaved a sigh, walking towards her, “I’m sorry your comrade is dead.”
Zepherina glared at me, “you killed Elon!” she got to her feet, “Elon was the sweetest man I had ever met! Elon was a good person! And you killed him! How could you?!”
“I didn’t kill him!” I defended, weakly, “Xyphiel does his own thing! I was not there to kill anyone. I was only there to bring you and Evangeline home.”
Zepherina’s lip quivered, “you’re still Xyphiel’s ally.”
“He is my brother!” I shouted, “yes.”
“Until he isn’t…” Zepherina turned her back to me, “I want nothing to do with you.”
My heart sank, “Zeph-”
“Fuck off, Ragna!” Zepherina said, lifting both of her middle fingers to me as she walked away.
I turned, walking down the hallway. I was walking the hallways in a bit of a daze. I finally stopped, blinking the fresh tears from my eyes. By the time I could see again, I realized I was outside the bar once more.
I swallowed hard, my throat feeling dry.
“Timothy is waiting for you,” I thought to myself. “Probably to tell you that he hates you too.
The bar looked inviting.
May any happiness you ever have be tainted by greater sorrow!
I clenched my fist and powered past the bar, heading to Rachel. Timothy would meet his mother. He’d meet with both of us. There was a chance, a slim, tiny chance I could salvage this.
I can salvage my existence.

Timothy
I stood outside of Penthesil, knowing Tasha would take Ragna from the church, to where I stood, waiting.
A pair of guards were standing at the top of the wall, looking down at me.
As the gates opened, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But, there they were, Tasha and Ragna. Rachel was there as well, which put me on edge.
Rachel smiled at me, “Timothy!” she exclaimed as she rushed towards me.
What was she doing here? Did she expect a hug? For what? Ditching me with a megalomaniac rapist that even she was afraid to be around?
I stopped her before she got too close, “I asked for my mother. What is she doing here?”
Rachel stopped, turning to Ragna, “Timothy, she’s my wife and-”
“I was not speaking to you, Rachel,” I spat.
Rachel turned to me, confusion on her face.
Ragna stepped towards me, “Timothy, please, Rachel loves you.”
“Oh, really? I wouldn’t know,” I growled.
Rachel’s eyes grew wet, “Timothy, I don’t… what are you saying?”
“You’re the woman who gave birth to me, but you’re not my mother. You were not there for me,” I hissed
“I couldn’t be!” Rachel shouted in an attempt to defend her actions, “I couldn’t be there because-”
“Because you ran away,” I narrowed my eyes on her, “you ran away from me, but worse? You ran away from her!” I pointed to Ragna.
Ragna narrowed her eyes on me, anger in her voice as I was certain I was about to unveil something she had yet to tell Rachel, “Timothy… no.”
“Do you know what my mother did on the anniversary of you leaving?” I shouted.
Ragna closed her eyes tightly, “Timothy, don’t,” she growled.
“She would drink herself into oblivion! Because she couldn’t handle the fact that you left us on that day!” I shouted.
Rachel turned to Ragna, shocked. “Is that true?” Rachel asked Ragna.
“Yes. It’s true. I drank to run from the pain of being alone. But, Timothy, there’s something you should know.” Ragna whispered, opening her eyes and looking at me with a truly hurt expression, “I drank every single night after the day you left me.”
I gasped, and my heart sank as I imagined Ragna, my mother, slumped over a bar in constant sorrow at the thought of me being kidnapped or worse.
“Day in and day out,” Ragna confessed to us, “because I thought that not only might you be dead, but worse that you might be getting tortured or abused by whoever took you from me. I blamed myself that I had failed my son. Rather than face that terrible truth,” Ragna heaved a sigh, “I climbed into a bottle.”
“Wait,” Rachel cried to Ragna, “Is that why you haven’t drunk a single drop of alcohol since you got here?”
Ragna nodded, “Yes, because when I found you I vowed I wouldn’t go back to that constant drunken existence if you could call it that.”
I had to turn from her, trying to keep my composure, but recalling having to drag Ragna to her bedroom on those terrible days. “Who helped you-”
“No one,” Ragna explained, “Xyphiel would at first, but soon grew tired of me. Eventually, he couldn’t even stand to look at me. My drunkenness was just another constant reminder of my failure to protect our son.” Ragna sighed, “I wanted to escape. Suicide wasn’t an option, so I did the next best thing.”
I steeled myself and turned to face Ragna.
“But you’re alive,” Ragna smiled to me, “alive and well and…” Ragna chuckled, beaming to me.
Was that pride?
Was she proud of me?
Was I pleased by her pride in me? I tried not to show it.
“I wanted to talk, before everything happened,” I said, looking to Tasha.
Tasha turned from me, tears rolling down her cheek.
“I’m here,” Ragna said, “let’s talk.”
“Alone,” I requested.
Ragna pulled out a small device and tossed it up into the air, a gateway opening up before us.
“After you,” I motioned.
Ragna nodded and walked inside.
I followed and she shut the door.
Inside I found a dimly lit room, very nondescript, only a pair of simple chairs.
“The time is dilated pretty extreme here, we can honestly talk for days and only a few minutes will go by,” Ragna explained. “I really wanted to catch up.”
I turned to her and did my very best to hold myself together. “I just… I want to strip our titles away right now. I want just the basics. So while we’re in here, I’m not the Metatron, you’re not the Empress of Penthesil, it’s just you and me… just…”
“Mother and son?” Ragna offered.
I rushed to her and hugged her tight, tears flowing from my eyes.
Finally, my mother Ragna hugged me back. Her hand on the back of my head, stroking my hair comfortingly, “Timothy… I missed you so much.”
“I missed you too,” I sighed as I hugged her tight. After a few moments, I pulled away, looking at her seriously, “Mom, I need to talk to you.”
“Tell me everything, Timothy,” Ragna smiled to me, “We have all the time in the world.”
“Okay,” I relented, “but by the end, I need you to understand that I’m going to ask you for a favor.”
“And what favor is that?” Ragna asked.
“Mom,” I fixed her with a serious gaze, “I need to ask you something. I want you to kill Xyphiel.”
submitted by Zithero to The_Guardian_Temple [link] [comments]

The Strangest, Yet Most Common Criticism of the ST

So that Recent Daisy Ridley interview made me want to dust off an old thesis statement of sorts I’ve been saying since The Last Jedi was released. Not so much what she was saying but the reaction to it.
I was going to include this in my post about why I wondered #ReleasetheEdwardsCut was never a thing but it didn’t seem right at the time.
So Here Goes Nothing:
This is an observation I began to notice about March 2018 or so, when the “””backlash””” for TLJ really began to take form and start getting ugly. A lot of signs went in different directions so it was hard to point to one exact thing.
Then, just after Solo’s release Jeremy Jahns uploads that video, the really dumb one where he says TLJ promotes too much Social Justice or some crap like that and tried to justify everything by saying “I like the movie mother!” (because nothing says good movie like a painfully obvious allegory my neighbours ten year old could figure out in addition to watching Jennifer Lawrence have the shit beaten out of her. Also a Baby gets eaten, yeah.) and something he said in to really stuck with me.
First he Says Star Wars is a cinematic universe (it isn’t) then says “Did anyone know what RJ was doing!?”
And that was it right there, he managed to summarize what I've been observing these last few months but couldn't put into proper words.
Star Wars Fans are mad that the ST is too Directo Artistic Driven then Franchise/ Design by Committee/ Business driven.
It’s as if Jeremy was saying that he wants more studio control on these things and that directors should just follow orders and shut up. Now obviously he didn’t say those exact words I just typed but he sure as hell seemed to imply it.
Now that seems like an oddly specific thing to say people are criticizing them for and I seriously doubt you will hear that exact phrase mentioned anywhere.
But Think About it For a Moment....
How many times have you seen variations of these comments: “Rian Johnson should be on a tighter leash” “They should have had a stric plan for the ST from the start” “One person should have written/ directed the whole thing” “They should only do what the fans want” "Take a page from Marvel."
Or some comment that eludes to the notion that Disney/ Lucasfilm should have stepped in more and not let the directors do as they were hired to do.
What's funny to me is how "They should have had a plan" always translates to "I fucking hated The Last Jedi!!!!"
Now that might seem like an odd way to look at it all but this isn't the first time Star Wars has been "criticized" like this. Look at the PT for example.
In just about every review I’ve seen, both in print and YouTube, there’s always a moment where the reviewer says something along the lines of “Did no one tell George this was a bad idea?” or “Did no one challenge George on this?” This is RLM’s most common talking point.
Or those claiming Lucas surrounded himself with yes-men who would do everything he wanted and that was it. Lucas did pay for the entire PT out of his own pocket mind you. He had an entire VFX company at his disposable to make any crazy thing he imagined. Who’s to tell him what he can and can’t do? Rick McCallum sure as hell wasn't going to.
There is a certain "tragedy" for lack of a better word, when comparing Lucas in the 70s/80s to what he became in the 90s/00s. He ultimately became the very thing he rebelled against, the film producing machine where he could call the shots, order people to do as he wanted and no one could tell him otherwise. This is the entire thesis of The People Vs. George Lucas documentary.
Very few directors working today occupy the same zeitgeist that Lucas once did. Abrams certainly doesn’t and neither does Johnson or Edwards or even Howard for that matter. How many can say they changed the medium of film with just one movie?
I’d imagine anyone who wanted to seriously challenge Lucas would probably be fired on the spot for it. It would be like trying to challenge James Cameron or Steven Spielberg or David Fincher. You’d get about one inch before being kicked out of the door or in Cameron’s case, yelled out till your ears bled while your phone was nail gunned to a wall. You just couldn't do it.
The situation the new films have found themselves in pretty much sets up that criticism though.
George Lucas is gone, never coming back. He was THE BOSS and nothing was going to change that. Disney now owns Star Wars and will continue to own it until Kingdom Come. It has now crossed the rift from Filmmaker’s creative vision to Valuable franchise used for profit. Another IP to add to Disney's ever growing roster.
So now with every new director they have to answer to Lucasfilm, to Disney, to the Mouse but they aren’t treated as servants but as guests. They aren’t ordered around, they aren’t told what they can and can’t do and they have all the resources imaginable at their disposal.
A blank canvas and a $200 Million dollar cheque.
For better TFA is very much JJ Abrams from start to finish. He loves his mystery boxes and stories about young women trying to find their place in the world and male supporting characters with father issues while ultimately being a pastiche of what he loves . If you seriously think TFA was made to be a remake of ANH (It really isn't) because Disney wanted it that way for a quick buck, welcome to your first JJ Abrams film.
For worse, TROS is very JJ Abrams in the most frustrating way possible… but still very much a film made by him. Every decision made in TROS, good or bad(mainly bad), is something that has appeared in all his movies/ tv shows. You see the gear turning in his head with some of the more... questionable choices.
Even behind the scenes, when things seem iffy is never feels like “The hand of the Mouse is stepping in.” It always feels like Abrams listening to feedback from his colleagues like Spielberg and DuVernay. Or in TROS's case, bad impulses....
TLJ is pure Rian Johnson from frame one up until the credits roll. TLJ is eerily similar to the Breaking Bad episode The Fly, the first episode he directed. An entirely character focused story that examines who the characters are and what they ultimately want and their greatest fears. And just like TLJ it is still talked about to this day. Frigg, TLJ and Knives Out both have the same ending twist…
The Last Jedi’s production however is where things get interesting. TLJ might just have the smoothest and cleanest production of any Star Wars film probably ever.
The Story was set and locked before TFA was in theatres. No massive reshoots, no extreme rewrites, no behind the scenes meddling, no studio oversight, no on set drama, no crazy editing changes and finished under budget with months to spare. That doesn’t happen for like 99% of movies made today, blockbuster or not.
The PT on the other hand, oh boy.... TPM got off reasonably well. Some bad weather that destroyed sets didn't send them back too much. Some like to point to everyones reaction to the Rough Cut being the ultimate sign that everyone working on TPM knew it was going to be awful. That's the thing though, it's a rough cut, that's the whole point. It doesn't matter how good or bad any movie is at the end of the day, rough cut screenings are brutal....
ATOC and ROTS on the other hand didn't even have a finished script until about a month into shooting. And most importantly Anakin's entire motivation to turn to the dark side was added after the fact during reshoots. Which were done in late 2004 mind you. No Comment.
It was funny for a while when I’d glance at STC throughout 2018 to see where the narrative was going and the most common one for a good month was always some variation of “Did Disney mess with TLJ!?” Trying to prove that something must have gone horribly wrong during the making of the movie... except there wasn't.
And I’ve seen this play out in real time with in-person conversations, but after realizing that not only is that not the case but they can’t point to any other of the “usual suspects” to say “this is why thing bad” their only option is to say “RJ Shouldn’t have been allowed to do that!!”
If anyone is wondering why RJ is getting his own trilogy this is the reason. The dude gets shit done with no issue. Even the death of Carrie Fisher didn’t put a damper on anything(the amount of comments I’ve seen that said “why didn’t they kill of Leia” got comical).
It’s what makes watching The Director and the Jedi such a fascinating experience because everyone is looking at everything going “Is this gonna work or no?” With Emphasis on Hamill the most.
TFA’s production was kinda messy but manageable. News about TROS's production has been revealed throughout the year and most of it points to it being messy and chaotic. The making of Docs try to hide this by showing us happy faces, people passionate about what they are doing and saying “hey this is awesome!”
Then there’s the horrible realization that we live in this shitty era of movies dictated by film franchises that we watch out of obligation and internet culture creating a massive hyperbolic bubble around everything.
I remember a time whenever information about any film was released (franchise or not) and if it was revealed that there was some form of behind the scenes drama between director and studio or changes made that the director wasn't part of people got mad.
But now whenever we hear that the response is almost always “Hey they probably saved the movie from being a disaster.”
A Real Paradigm Shift.
It’s just accepted that Franchise Films are the result of produce studio oversight and that’s ultimately a good thing(that’s not to say there aren’t examples where this hasn’t been the case but that’s a discussion for another day).
Which Leads Us To...
Marvel immediately comes to mind with regards to this. After 23 movies the MCU has gone through 15 directors. Those who left after one or two movies don’t have nice things to say about it and it’s easy to see why.
It’s funny seeing some put the MCU on some pedestal for “How Franchises should be,” which I find head-scratching. The MCU might just be the most micro-managed film franchise of all time. The amount of times I’ve read some behind the scenes piece about how scenes were shot literally weeks before release or were in six months plus of reshoots after the fact is staggering or how directors get screwed over and told to take a knee. And that’s not even getting into the nitty gritty of it all like how they don’t allow directors to shoot their own action or characters being shifted roles because it would affect toy sales.
They also sure as hell don’t plan everything out.
The amount of times the MCU has retconned entire films out of existence or just pretended certain developments didn’t happen could be its own drinking game. Character development in thrown out the window for the sake of appearance. The writers of Endgame can’t seem to keep their answer straight as to where and when Captain America ended up when he wanted to spend his life with Peggy. If anything Marvel is really good at giving the impression that everything is a well maintained car while running on fumes.
Compare the Avenger’s Home Base between movies and then tell me with a straight face “Marvel Pays attention to continuity.”
As an aside, what exactly do Marvel and Star Wars have in common? Aside from being owned by Disney what do they have in common?
Nothing.....
The approach, risks taken, sense of awe, the types of stories of told. It's like comparing a nice tasty burger from that one restaurant in town to an all you can eat Buffet. Sure it's all food at the end day but theres a difference.
There’s also the matter of the type of directors that Marvel has picked. They largely go for Indie or TV directors with very little experience making films this scale. They also don’t have a huge amount of clout to their name so they can’t make huge demands for what they want. Sure some have more of a style and clout to them but those are the exceptions that proves the rule. For every Ryan Coogler or James Gunn there's The Russo Brothers or Jon Watts.
Star Wars on the other hand has actively sought out directors with experience in films this size and those who have their own style that is reflected in the ones they make. To summarize JJ Abrams is Diet-Spielberg while Rian Johnson is Quirky American Auteur. Gareth Edwards could be the next “mostly” poignant blockbuster director while Ron Howard is a seasoned Veteran.
Star Wars could have easily have grabbed any number of pencil pusher directors and gave them ultra strict guidelines to follow and nothing else. Have them make movies that are nothing more than giant fan service reels aimed at getting all the fan dollars in the world. And I think that's what so many kind of expected we were getting from the get go and are confused and out right mad that isn't the case.
To Quote u/friedAmobo
"Disney and Lucasfilm, regardless of what some people may think, are not stupid - they know the best way to make money is to do what the fans want. That would mean Luke being the main character in TFA, the main trio reuniting, and other fan service moments that would make Rogue One blush. The fact that TFA\ ***isn’t*** *about any of that is telling. It means they had an idea for something different, and they made it."*
"TLJ is even more condemning for the cash grab argument. Rian Johnson was the sole writer and director of the movie, and as we all know, the movie was very divisive. But how was that a cash grab, then? If Lucasfilm wanted to make tons of money, they could have a powerful Luke train Rey, and then have him beat the First Order on Crait with super Force powers. It’d have made an easy couple hundred million dollars more. The fact that they didn’t do that, but ended up going with a story that had the potential to be divisive is, again, telling."
But…. then you have the complete 180 with the anthology films. Rogue One and Solo and reading into their production is mind boggling. For as much as TROS’s production seemed like a nightmare, the production of these two seemed like fighting Nightmare from Metroid: Fusion.
No one wants to come clean with what the hell happened with Rogue One. What movie completely reshoots it’s final act with a little over 6 months before release(not saying it doesn’t happen just bare with me here)? Gareth Edwards is probably never going to talk about how he was basically fired from it and replaced with Tony Gilroy. You think it’s anyway surprising that he has nothing to do with this Cassian Disney+ series?
Solo had its directors fired midway through production then reshot the entire movie with someone else. That Doesn't Happen…… I remember hearing that during the summer of 2017 and my coworkers and I just laughed our heads off at it. The notion of a Han Solo movie (without Harrison Ford) was such a ridiculous idea at the time and then this happened on top of it.
There’s also the uncomfortable truth that no one wants to admit about the Anthology Films.
They Aren’t About Anything.
Not that they aren’t about “anything” in the literal sense, but more so in the “these films exist to shove Star Wars nostalgia in your face and nothing else.” They are set during the OT era for frigg sake and throw LORE and CANON junk at you to make up for their complete lack of emotional/ dramatic meaning(I say this as someone who enjoys Solo greatly).
Because they are side stories you the viewer don’t have to worry about anything of major consequence happening in them that would affect the main narrative (Skywalker Saga in this case). They can do whatever they want and basically a safe bet for an audience. You don't have to worry abut your favourite characters being killed or doing things you don't agree with. It’s like a video game side quest where all you get is a shiny new item by the end of it that’s good for a while until you get something better an hour later.
This might not seem like much but I think fans seriously underestimate the power that comes with these being a side story. The Mandalorian fits into this category as well and something that Hello Greedo has praised the show excessively for.
Add on the fact that Disney/ Lucasfilm is going to keep making Star Wars content in the form of movies/ Live Action series/ animation until the ice caps melt and we all die. It's not out of the realm of possibility that something you've always "wanted" might one day happen.
To quote my very good friend u/SorryNotSpartacus:
“They also, very simply, are not the main saga, and I think people underestimate how much of a difference that makes to the fan audience that by and large seems to respond more positively to the anthology films. Most fans are used to reading or watching EU material.”
I recall seeing multiple comments early 2018 “RJ should have been given an Anthology film(s) instead.” As if to say “That way he can do what he wants and I don’t have to worry about it,” or something to that affect.
But there’s also the sad fact at the end of day that’s all Star Wars fans “Want.” They don’t want a story or anything meaningful but a shrine to their nostalgia, a two hour fan service reel or a big “thank you” for being fans. Fulfill their own expectations and make them feel nothing but superficial joy. Don't let them think or feel anything else in the process.
To quote Frank Oz:
“All the people who don’t like this ‘Jedi’ thing is just horse crap. It’s about expectations. The movie didn’t fill their expectations. But as Filmmakers, we’re not here to fill people’s expectations.”
He’s talking about The Last Jedi if that wasn’t clear.
You’d think this would be obvious but so many fans seem to think it’s the other way around that these things exists to validate them as fans and nothing else.
Don’t believe me? Go to any Star Wars sub reddit and search “this but un-ironcally,” or just type any number of words followed be “fans.” The results might surprise you… or won’t. Better yet just Search Rogue One and look for the most upvoted post.
It's why I take issue with that recent quote from Jon Favreau that's been floating around for the last few weeks.
“We alway knew, and this was something I learned from over at Marvel and working with Kevin Feige, is you always want to keep core fans in mind, because they have been the ones that’ve been keeping the torch lit for many, many years, but there are also stories for young people and for new audiences. These are myths, and you always want to have an outstretched hand to people who might not have that background . And so you’re really telling two stories at once. You’re telling the story for the people who are fresh eyes, and you’re telling the story for the people who’ve been there with the property and with the stories and characters for many years, and make sure you’re honouring them as well.”
Almost as if he's saying "Just shove enough fan-service onscreen, someone will recognize it and it will make up for our lack of story telling abilities." It's funny how he uses what he learned from Marvel as "collective wisdom" when he got screwed hard when trying to make Iron Man 2 a movie about Tony Stark dealing with his own death.
Stop treating these very corporately controlled entities like they are your best friend, they are not and never will be. Even if you think you have, it's not real.
You think this wouldn’t have to be said but it needs to:
You as a fan do not own Star Wars. Buying all the stickers and Funko Pops doesn’t make you an owner no matter how you stretch it. You do not have a say on how these things go, you do not get to say what can and can’t happen, you are not the writer, you are not the director, you are not the person who wipes the table off after a meeting because same jack-hole split coffee all over it. You are the person who buys a ticket then bitches online about it.
Then again there is always the obvious “fans have no fucking idea what the hell they even want anymore.” Not that I’m free from this, I sure as hell don’t know what I want. I could give some vague answer like “More Babu Frik” but even that seems too broad.
I saw a really dumb tweet around February 2018 that showed two posters, The Last Jedi and Justice League and the tweeter said "Filmmakers of these franchises should be actively aware what fans want and go out of their way to ensure that."
Naturally most of the replies were ridiculing the guy for his flawed logic. The most liked reply came from someone who said the following "This implies that Star Wars fans actually know what the hell they even want."
Also Justice League failed because it didn't do what the fans want? Oi Vey....)
None of this is to say anything you yourself have criticized any of the ST films isn’t valid to you or someone else. Unless you’re one of those people who thinks “They have a secret political agenda!” in which case please stop.
For as much as I talked about the ST being filmmake director driven they are still very much films released by Disney for the sake of profit. It’s just as much an art form as it is a business. Just as much of a product as they are a piece of fiction. For as much as RJ and his cast and crew have talked about the freedom he was given, he's not going to kill off all the characters and have Rey become a film scholar and analyze the works of Zack Snyder.
The ST films are not art house epics and never will be.
Neither is the PT or OT for that matter. Lucas is a much better businessman than director. He knew damn well the PT was his ticket to make up losing half his fortune after his messy divorce. Keep things going so he can basically retire once ROTS was done.
But that’s all I have to say on the matter. This was based entirely on observation and conversations with others.
Also there is no JJ-cut of TROS. There is no version of The Rise of Skywalker in which all the past Jedi appear as ghosts and start doing all the kick flips imaginable that was cut because CHINA.
It Doesn't Exist.
submitted by captainjjb84 to saltierthankrayt [link] [comments]

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