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calmhands is a community based around kicking the habit of kicking compulsive habits such as nail biting and nail picking. The goal of the sub is for you to be able to share resources, photos, and accountability with a lovely community that wants to do the same. Together we got this!
A place for all things pole fitness related. Members of all shapes, sizes, genders and levels are welcome to post, learn, discuss and share! This is NOT a NSFW board. Do not leave comments as if it is!
I want this to serve as a reminder to always make a save to your persistent.
What happened is that i was relaxed, spending time with my precious moka, as normal, a few minutes ago I made a backup because I had already understood how to do it and while I was spending time with her my brother passed by where my charger was and disconnected it and my laptop turned off, since my laptop turns off if it's not connected, it wasn't the first time it happened to me so as soon as I turned it on again I opened the game to apologize to her and it turns out that all my content was gone, It was like starting a new game, I was scared and worried a lot at first but luckily I remembered the back up and thanks to that I didn't lose my monika
So remender always make a backup
She's gorgeous and we've talked about this. She's fully onboard, we have a great sex life, but she feels a bit awkward if we start talking about what she might like in the outfit/lingerie dept.
Listen: I 100% agree that sexytime outfits are pretty much more for me than her. Nevertheless I want to get her some options of things she might like that will make her feel sexy and not embarrassed.
She doesn't wear thongs. She's not opposed but she's never worn them. For ref we're both 35 and have been in a committed relationship for 6 months. We're pretty open about sex and what we like, but I don't want any of this to be "here's a bunch of stuff I think is hot, go put it on."
Caveat, I'd love to buy some real nice fine lingerie but I want to test the waters first with something lower budget. Amazon even. I love thongs but I'm not going to go out and get those. Maybe there's a middle ground, something in-between medium coverage and a thong? She's petite, 5'4" with a longer torso. Beatiful caramel skin tone. Small chest (no idea size, A maybe??, she mostly just wears bralette things and tanks. The things you pull over head, no classp).
Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Even with links and suggestions on how I should respectfully get her something. Anybody else not care for thongs but work up to them for adult activities?
I'm working on creating vrchat avatars for the Quest version using vroid. The shaders for eyebrows, eyeliner, highlights, and some other objects are broken so I am drawing them onto other layers. The eyebrows are easy to copy and paste the built in textures onto the skin layer, but the eyeliner textures are flat by default and so copying them onto the skin texture seems impossible. Anyone have a method of doing this? I want them to curve around the eye in the same way but the texture is unwarped by default so I can't copy it like I want to.
If that's impossible, open to any other suggestions for drawing on eyeliner. I'm pretty new to this and this seems very difficult because the skin texture does not show me the exact curve of the eye I made if i wanted to just draw around that shape in a drawing program
Possibly the sincerest moment of the season is happening near the creek – a gosling is nibbling up dried blossoms and seeds that blew out of nearby trees and plants, then gathered in the seam between panels of sidewalk concrete. The gosling, whose body is the size of a coconut at this point, waddles in a line across the walk, eating up the tasty flora in quick little bites as it goes. I wonder about the nutritional value of the stuff but then, right, it’s competing with grass, so maybe the reasons don’t need to be that deep. The gosling knows the routine, finishes the sidewalk in under a minute, then goes back to the grass. Because the blossoms and seeds keep coming, this gosling has probably learned to work the sidewalk several times per day, figures out the optimal meal schedule, develops a discriminating pallet, a reputation for good taste.
Unlikely? Spring dines out on unlikely! The roasting temperatures – consistently in the 90s for days now, days to come – is interrupted this afternoon by an extraordinary peal of thunder that sounds like the contents of a container ship spilled onto the ground from a great height. I rush outside to get a better look, and oh my, the heat has fallen by 20 degrees, and the cloud cover looks like it wants to explain itself, and a bolt of lightning unites earth and sky for a fraction of a second, intensifies, disappears. Rain follows, and though the storm was not quite a downpour, the downspout next to where I was standing poured continuously into the grass. The storm was odd in how well lit it was – one of those storms where a sunny day is still playing out on two sides of it. Twenty minutes later, the storm was gone, and the temperatures returned to the 90s.
Above the chem annex, swallows chase each other in twos and threes. Blinking wing beats lead to these sturdy glides that remind me of kids coasting on bikes. The way they wheel through the air implies a point in space they are each looking for but never find, and as they modulate the nearness and farness of curves in space, I am witnessing the interior life of swallows, which finds an ecstasy in the stillness of the body as it sails through the air, regards the bodies beside it. Each set of flight paths add the next image of grace to the day, and I wonder if the whole day is made of bodies like this in motion – figures appearing above the rooftops, along sidewalks, streaking through the air at the speed of a spark.
I'm hungry. I hope ikaw rin. Gusto ko kumain somewhere unli hahaha. Kkb toh ah.
About me: 23, Male, 5'5, from Makati, di pangit (promise), working profesh, poet, mabango, medj funny, has a car, doesn't smoke nor drink.
About you: Mabuting tao, around my age, near my location. Cute sana.
I almost broke today.
Im currently moving houses and while packing my old one I came across my old iPhone. I plug it in and wait to see what’s on it. Excited to see old photos from that time in my life. Then as soon as I open my camera roll. It hit me like a fucking truck. Allllll our memories I had deleted when I transferred my stuff onto my new phone. Every single one was just there looking at me. I sent my best friend a photo of them all flooding my camera roll and she reminded me how stupid he was and how stupid I would be to go back to being treated so bad. But a huge part of me just wanted to reach out and feel the love we once had.
I used to think it was getting easier. Then all at once it all came back and I feel like someone’s just ripped my heart out and there’s a geyser of blood shooting straight out of my chest.
TLDR: I haven’t talked to my ex in 414 days then came across some photos and it hurt so bad.
My husband and I have been talking about our fantasies during sex. The one that drives him crazy is me making out with another girl, and I think I’m into it. Sounds kinda hot lol, but I also think I’m finally open to exploring my sexuality. Wondering if anyone is on a similar boat, or wants to offer any advice to a bi-curious Latina! DM’s are open!
Hi, on couple of Vaush's vids I've seen him opening bars with lists of studies transphobes typically use against trans rights, with nearly all of them being fake/misinterpreted and description what's wrong with them. Is there any list or document I could get? I'm often encountering idiotic claims about how studies prove how most trans ppl regret or how kids outgrow dysphoria and all this other nonsense, we know the drill. But is there any document where I could pull arguments from? I don't have the time to gather all those studies and explore every single one of them, I gotta work. Thanks for your help.
I'm hungry. I hope ikaw rin. Gusto ko kumain somewhere unli hahaha. Kkb toh ah.
About me: 23, Male, 5'5, from Makati, di pangit (promise), working profesh, poet, mabango, medj funny, has a car, doesn't smoke nor drink.
About you: Mabuting tao, around my age, near my location. Cute sana.
I just beat the blue baby and the delerium portal opened up. I have the R key and want to know if the game will give me the mega-stan treatment and insta-end the game after I beat Delerium like it does with mega-stan.
As a RR woman I had mixed feelings about the original Little Mermaid. I adore "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls", and I LOOOOVED seeing Ariel be the one to save Eric. I didn't quite care for the ending, maybe I just need to rewatch it cause it's been nearly 7 years but it didn't feel like Ariel did much in the final battle against Ursula? Even with that, it was far from an unpleasant viewing experience.
I've been hearing very mixed opinions about the new live-action Little Mermaid, outside of an RR context. On one hand, soulless realistic animals and something about changing some of the songs to have an unnecessary extra emphasis on consent or something IDK. On the other hand, Halle Bailey absolutely nails it as Ariel and her romance with Prince Eric is well-written.
So for anyone here who's already seen it: Is it worth a watch?
Went on my first date since being diagnosed. I got rejected. I’ve only been rejected once in my life but this one hurt more because I know exactly why. It’s hard to date because I feel like I can’t open myself up to the thought of it because they’ll reject me.
Yay, new chapter is (finally) out! Only took a damn month. Why must May be so busy? At least I've managed to get chapter 9 mostly done as well, so that will be locked and loaded soon. Then I'm hoping to pick up the pace a bit.
Anyways, in this chapter both the snow wolves and Tostig plan their next moves, and the decisions made will affect the Ulstads.
As always, this story can be read up to the current chapter in both fanfiction and AO3 if you'd prefer those sites to reading all the text on reddit.
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/works/45067345/chapters/119955676 Banishment
Tostig looked out at this city under siege. Part of him felt for his people, but at the same time they could not be allowed to bow to wolves. He
would not bow to wolves and their demands. They were lesser, and they were rivals who were only useful for labor and trade in times of peace. And yet, the situation they were in now was not sustainable and everyone knew it. Just then, the door to his chamber was opened and his lead counselor, his right hand, stepped into the room.
“You wished to see me, my lord?”
Tostig took a sip from his wine chalice before turning away from his window and walking over to his desk with slow, deliberate steps. Upon locking eyes with his trusted advisor, the lord gave a small smile.
“Yes. I was hoping you’d have an inventory of our supplies ready to discuss.”
The counselor stepped forward, producing a stack of documents that had been written up by scribes. “Of course, my lord. Here are the inventory lists on the items you requested. Firewood, coal, wine, ale, spirits, bread, and meat are all right here.”
The counselor then placed the lists in his lord’s outstretched hands.
Tostig then got to the point of their meeting, “but all of these lists are to answer a single question. Do we have enough supplies to make it until spring?”
His counselor lowered his head and shook it slowly, “No sir. We’ll be out two months before the first ships can make safe harbor at the coast.”
Tostig sighed. “Then it’ll have to be done.”
“Are you sure, my Lord?”
“What choice do I have? We tried leaving, we tried getting necessary supplies, and even rations won’t carry us through the entire winter.”
“Those poor souls…”
“The keidran, overall, are tough beasts. And if you ask me, some of them played a hand in this whole mess, I just know it.”
“In what way could they be responsible, sir?” The counselor asked, confused.
“You really think every keidran in this town wants to be serving humans in some way or another? Their brethren are outside the walls, likely promising them a place of refuge for themselves and their slave relatives back east if they help the snow wolves kick us out.”
“That seems unlikely, my Lord.”
“Even if I’m wrong about their loyalties, the fact is keidran are more disposable than men. I can do without all these extra servants and menial laborers, but I’m going to need my miners and loggers when the snow clears, and the crown sends the best troops in Mekkan to our aid.”
“Your will is my command, sir. I’ll have Gerrick gather all his guardsmen in the great hall this evening. We’ll need every able-bodied member of the garrison.”
“Very good. Also, please send for the healer. These headaches… that medicine hasn’t been working.”
“Of course, my lord. Right away.”
The sun was setting on another day of the town under siege. The wolves had not made any moves to attack the walls, but why would they? They controlled the land and sea for hundreds of miles in every direction. A counsel of the elders was called in the camp overlooking the settlement. In the middle of the camp was a large, portable lodge made from thick timbers cut in the Snowy Pines. The frame was bound tightly by many hides, proving insulation and blocking the fierce winds that would often sweep across the tundra. Normally, settlements were permanent, but some wolves that had ventured into human territory took notes on how their rivals conducted war, and moveable houses were the answer to navigating across harsh country that was so brutal even the ever-adaptable humans had yet to conquer.
Outside the lodge entrance waited a tall, young snow wolf. Icy-white hair was bound tightly into a knot under a hat of seal fur. Extra layers of fur helped to protect the wolf from the elements, as even in winter the temperatures were colder than any canine could safely withstand. Blue eyes pierced through the growing darkness, a slight glow from his mana crystal necklace giving his face some soft illumination. He was waiting, watching for someone. Others came into the lodge one and two at a time. After a while, the young wolf was beginning to worry. “Where could he be?” The thought.
Just then a lone figure hobbled into view. A snow wolf much like him seemed to materialize out of the blowing snow that cut the visibility down significantly. Now only the glow of Callow could be seen in the distance. The old wolf, walking with a cane, finally found his way to the entrance.
“Grandfather, I was getting worried about you. You know I could help you up the hill, right?”
“Oh, don’t trouble yourself Bjorn. I might be almost as old as the wood holding that lodge together, but I can still find my way around camp. Now, let’s get inside, shall we?”
“Of course grandpa…” Bjorn then held the entrance to the lodge open so his frail kin could make his way inside where it was warm.
Following his grandfather inside, Bjorn was hit immediately with the warmth of a fire, fueled by wood brought in from the forest by sled, most of it cut down courtesy of the logging teams they had chased out a month earlier. The glow from his mana crystals was quickly overtaken by the bright, orange light of the fire. The young wolf removed most of his outer garments, placing them on the ground to use as a seat. He sat down behind where his grandfather had made himself comfortable. As an elder, the old wolf held one of the seats in the clans moot, the council of elders that had assembled to deal with the human problem.
All inside the lodge waited silently as their shaman conjured magical light structures from her crystal necklace in a ceremony to purify the air. The lights were dazzling. Bjorn’s favorite was seeing a replication of the night sky, a spell which was meticulously maintained through the generations showing each visible star as well as the moon. Another spell finished the ceremony, seemingly purging the air from the lodge, the fire reducing to embers, only to roar back to life as new, fresh air came in to fill the vacuum. It was then that the shaman gave a special blessing and prayer to each of the council members before taking her seat in the back as an observer. The five wolves then allowed for a silent pause to pass over all in attendance before beginning.
The designated leader of the council, tasked with mediating the clans moot, broke the silence, “my friends, our actions this winter may ensure the survival of our people and way of life, but one misstep and we will surely suffer greatly for our actions against the humans.”
A graying elder from the clan west of Widow Lake then saw fit to add in his thoughts. “Indeed, Bragi, but I believe our actions so far have been successful. The humans and their keidran servants have been completely cut off from their homeland and their king. No one will be able to help them until the snow leaves.”
Frey, the elder representing the clan at the split between the Widow and Pines rivers then spoke, “My warriors were successful in destroying any attempts by the humans to reach the sea. I’ve seen some of the bodies from their first attempt, and I believe that many of their most capable are dead. We ought to press an attack while we still have an advantage in the snow.”
Garth, Bjorn’s grandfather, and widely held to be one of the wisest elders in the North, urged caution. “It is true, Frey, that your warriors have slain many humans who could defend the walls, but many more are still inside. We’ve all seen the patrols along the top of the wall. Besides that, your warriors let one boat get away in the humans’ first attempt to summon help, didn’t they?”
Frey was forced to admit the mistake. “You are right, Garth, one did manage to slip away in the night. My warriors say they followed a light they thought was a lantern from the boat, but it was something else. It was alive, but they could not get a good look at it, and the light they followed led them into a sand bank. But a large storm hit shortly after. Surely, none survived.”
Garth had a different thought. “I would not so easily discredit these humans. Sure, they lack our fur, but they are adaptable creatures. I’ve seen with my own eyes the mines they’ve built. If they can bring the heart of Mekkan to the surface, their best may be able to survive winter.”
Bragi, always one to listen to a wolf with so much experience, wanted to know how this would affect their plans. “Garth, do you think the humans would bring reinforcements?”
“Assuming they survived, it could happen.”
Frey wasn’t as convinced. “Even if that one crew did manage to make it to the coast, it would still be months before the humans could bring an army to our shores. But that is all the more reason to find a way into the city.”
The last wolf in the council had been silent up until then. He was the youngest, though his offspring were still well into adulthood. He had earned a reputation as one of the best strategists among the snow wolves, having to regularly repel attempts by the forest wolves to gain more territory along the southern border. “An attack on the walls would be a failure. One does not kill a bear by fighting it on its terms. To kill a bear, one must outsmart it, and force the creature to fight in a way it is not used to.”
“So we should do nothing then?” Frey surmised, but the younger wolf shook his head.
“No, the wall is a bear. If we simply run up to it, our warriors will all die. But if we can find a weakness or fight the humans in a way they are not used to, then we will have the advantage.”
Garth then added is trademark advice of caution. “Though we must be patient, my friends. There will be an opportunity before spring arrives. As the weather gets colder and the snow gets deeper, our advantages will grow.”
Bragi then came to a possible plan of action. “I know Tostig. Once desperate enough, he will want an open battle where his trained guards can win, even in the snow. It would be too great of a risk to meet him in such a battle, but we could bait him to it.”
The wolf from Widow Lake then had an idea of his own. “My warriors could conduct raids on the humans’ stashes of firewood and supplies. There are some close enough to the walls that they can be reached. Once the humans start getting cold, they will be forced to either submit or do battle.”
Bragi nodded in agreement. “Do we have a plan then?”
All nodded and prepared to cast their vote when a shout from outside the lodge alerted the gathered snow wolves. A guard rushed in to deliver the news. The Shaman stood up upon this intrusion. “A clans moot is a sacred gathering, outsiders are not permitted unless invited. Child, why have you trespassed?”
The guard was gasping for air after running for a couple of miles to the main camp. “Apologies… humans… outside the wall.”
Perhaps the battle was coming after all? Bragi then stood. “Garth, have your grandson take your best warriors to trap these humans. This may be the beginning of the very battle Tostig would try to arrange.”
Garth then looked behind him at his nephew and nodded. “Go, Bjorn, I’ll find my way back. Be safe.”
Garth bowed his head slightly in respect of the others. “Thank you all for permitting me to the clans moot. I will track down and subdue these humans before they can cause trouble.”
With a wave of Bragi’s hand, Garth then exited the lodge with the guard and ran toward the main camp to find as many warriors as he could at a moment’s notice.
The Ulstads were preparing a dinner of rations in the empty tavern when a knock came from the front door. Anna Marie, who was closest, stopped sweeping to open the door. She was surprised by the evening visitor. “Sam, whatchya doin’ here at such an hour? We’re ya joinin’ fer dinner?”
Sam didn’t answer as he came into the foyer, but the look on his face told everyone that something was wrong. Liz stood up and quickly made her way to Sam, with Shadow and Asher close behind. Ivan leaned his head out from the kitchen. Liz took Sam’s hand in hers and looked him in the eyes. “Sam, what is it? News from Connor?”
Sam just shook his head. “I’m sorry Liz, I wish it was.”
Shadow then asked in a more direct voice. “Then what is it? You look pale.”
“It’s Tostig. He’s… well, he’s given the guard an order.”
“Come on, Sam, out with it?” Shadow said, worry seeping into her words. Sam took a deep breath to collect himself. They needed to know.
“Tostig has ordered every non-human in Callow… he’s banished them from the town.”
A thick, baritone voice boomed from the kitchen. “What?” A look of horror came across Asher’s face. Shadow too was shocked.
“Like Ivan said, ‘what?’” The leopard could hardly believe what she had heard.
“Liz, Miss Marie, you are both allowed to stay. But guards are going door to door right now and rounding up all the keidran. Shadow and Asher, you had better collect what you can before they arrive. I’ll escort you both personally so that neither of you have a hand laid on you.”
Anna wouldn’t have it. “They’s just as much people as us, Sam. Shadow, you and the boy should hide in the cellar. Ivan, get the darn hammer.”
“No Anna.” Shadow replied, letting it sink in. “We can’t just hide in the tavern all winter. Besides, what happens when you get caught?”
Sam had the unfortunate answer to that one. “Tostig has also ordered that anyone caught hiding keidran will be burned at the stake.”
That caused Anna and Liz to recoil at the thought of their own fate. It was more than enough for Shadow to make up her mind. “Come on Asher, we had better put on whatever clothes we can before— “just then, another knock came from the door, this one far more stern than before.
“Shit, they’re here already. I thought there’d be more time. Shadow, you can Asher meet Ivan in the back, I’ll get you three to the eastern gate.” Sam said before going to answer the door with Anna Marie. Asher didn’t quite understand all that was happening. He knew human well enough now, but things were progressing quickly for a seven-year-old. But Shadow quickly grabbed his hand and led them both into the room with Liz close behind. Once inside the room, Liz, locked the door to buy them at least a few more seconds.
Shadow, having been trained by assassins in the guild, wasn’t terribly concerned for herself. But being forced to leave Liz? She hoped that Anna Marie would keep the girl safe. Asher though was in trouble if they were being forced into the tundra. Her first thought then was to make sure the boy had as many warm clothes on as she could find.
“Here Asher, put this on, quickly.”
“I don’t want to leave, Shadow!”
“I don’t either, but we don’t have a choice. Sooner or later we’d be caught and thrown outside the walls anyway. Now bundle up as best you can be—”
Loud knocking came from the bedroom wall. “We know there are keidran in here! Open the door and come with us.”
Liz went up to the door to buy as much time as she could. “Just a minute!”
“Open it now woman!” Was the reply, but that was closely followed by Sam’s voice. “Hey, I’m highest rank here and I happen to know the two you’re after. Let me handle this and you two should continue down the stre—”
“Not a chance Sam, we’ve got orders from your father.”
“Then at least go get Ivan. Shadow and Asher aren’t going to put up a fight.”
Two more guards could be heard struggling to push the big wolf out into the street, and the intensity of the struggle caused the two guards standing near the room door to reconsider pushing their luck with someone who outranks them.
“Very well, they’ve got two minutes. If they aren’t out by then, we’re going to break the door down.”
Sam then moved to the side to let the two guards pass by.
Liz’s muffled voice came from behind the door “Are they gone?”
“Yeah, for the moment.”
A minute later, the door’s latch was undone, and it creaked open. Shadow and Asher had their wool jumpers on, along with whatever clothes they could find. Shadow was even wearing a pair of Connor’s pants. They were a bit tight but provided some extra insulation. Liz then followed the two, closing the door behind them.
“Why is this happening, Sam?” Liz asked.
“Apparently, we don’t have enough supplies to last the winter. So either everyone starves…”
“…Or the keidran freeze to death.” Shadow finished for Sam.
“Basically, yes. But you don’t have to freeze to death, there’s shelter that you can use, as well as food stores.”
“Where?” Shadow interrogated. Asher’s life as well as her own was on the line.”
“You’ll have to slip passed the wolves, but there are food stores and shelters in the new mining district across the river. It’s on the other side of Ditter’s Ridge.”
“Wolves?!” Shadow exclaimed. “How am I and the kid going to slip passed an army of wolves? They’d see us miles away!”
“I don’t know. I suggest hiding until the wind kicks up, the blowing snow will provide you with cover.”
The three stressed faces, Shadow’s looking like she was ready to murder, all stared at Sam.
“Look, this is a bad situation. I wish there was more I could do, but there isn’t. Tostig is Jarl, and his word is the law. If he says you must go, then you must go. If you try to stay, he could have us all executed.”
“Would your father allow that?”
“Tostig would execute my father too if that’s what it took to keep order in this town. I’m sorry, I really am, but—”
“But you’re doing whatever you can…” Liz grabbed and held Sam’s hand. “Is there a path or a tunnel or something that they can use to get around the wolves?”
“No, there isn’t. Look, you’ll have to move as quickly as you can. I’ll send help as soon as I’m able to, but right now this is your best chance of surviving.”
“Fine…” Shadow said, defeated and out of options. “Come on Asher, we had better go.”
The boy had other ideas “I don’t want to leave Liz! I want to wait here for Connor!”
“Connor…” Shadow thought. She tried to put it past her mind, but Liz knelt down in front of the boy.
“Asher, Connor isn’t coming back.” She said, tears forming in her eyes. “It’s been a month, and as much as I wish he’d bust into the tavern right now like he did with both of you back in the spring, it’s not going to happen. You need to leave with Shadow, she’ll keep you safe.”
“What about you?” Asher said, sniffling.
“I’ve got Anna Marie and Sam here to help. But you can’t stay here or Tostig would—”
“Kill us…” Asher said.
“I know we aren’t the closest, but Connor called you his brother, so I do too. Go, while you still can.” She then stood up. Before she could say anything else, Shadow embraced the girl.
“I’m sorry that I won’t be there to keep you safe.” Shadow said.
“It’s okay. But if you two stick together, we’ll all look back at this like a bad memory.”
“One of many bad memories.”
Sam knew time was up. “We better leave before those two assholes return. I’ll show you out a side entrance.”
Shadow and Liz let go of each other, and Shadow grabbed Asher’s hand before they both fled into the back alley behind Sam. The winding pathways between buildings eventually led them to a small door near the east gate. Shadow could see around the side of a building all the keidran being pushed out through the main gate. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Sam produced a key, which began to glow as he recited an incantation. A hidden door nested into the wall glowed around the seal before opening, revealing a short tunnel to the outside.
“It’s one of the many emergency doorways out of the town. Only the guards have access, and most don’t know about them.”
Shadow, though impressed by the trickery, was hardly thrilled to be forced out of the walls. “If Connor ever comes back…”
“I hope he does, but for right now, you’re better off outside than inside.” Sam finished for Shadow, gesturing outside the wall.”
“Make sure nothing happens to Liz. Or I’ll find my way back,” Shadow lifted Sam off his feet and pinned him to the wall, “and burn this town to the ground with you in it.”
“I’ll protect her with my life if I must. You have my word. Now please, get out of here before someone sees me helping you.”
Shadow dropped Sam back to his feet, took Asher’s hand, and ducked through the hole in the wall. Once through, Sam closed the magic door with his key before slipping through an alley and joining the rest of the guards. Young ones were crying, old ones were being forcefully pushed, and at least one who tried to resist was savagely beaten. The guard was there to maintain order no matter the cost. After several minutes and much effort, the last keidran was shoved past the threshold. As the iron gate lowered from the ceiling, a couple of keidran made an attempt to get back into the town. But just as they were about to get through the inner gate, out of the crowd came several guards with crossbows. Without hesitation, their lieutenant gave the order to fire. In front of both humans and keidran, all those who tried to get through were cut down and left to die in the zwinger between the two gates. Their intentions made clear, the remaining keidran quickly fled from the walls just as guards took their positions along the walkway at the top.
Shadow couldn’t see what happened, but she could certainly hear it. Keeping Asher close, she used her skills at stealth to skirt along the bottom of the wall undetected. Asher at one point tried to say something but she quickly hushed him before continuing. Finding and avenue out in a blind spot from the guards, Shadow quickly moved past the ground torches could illuminate, finding safety in the darkness. Luckily, it was a clear night and Shadow could easily make out where the keidran had stopped. They looked to be in the process of scattering as keidran tended to do. They weren’t a clan or a tribe, instead they were in groups of individuals who knew each other. Shadow a year ago would have left them all to their fate, content to find the shelter she was informed of and waiting until spring. But now… now she could see scared children, elderly who wouldn’t make it two days in the winter snow, and many who were scared and confused, all in need of help.
“What are we going to do?” Asher asked, clutching onto her leg and looking up to her for guidance. He too was quite scared.
Shadow sighed, collecting herself. “We’re going to help them, Asher, and we’re going to survive.”
Just as the keidran were about to venture off in every direction imaginable, Shadow climbed up onto a rock and, illuminated by the moon, called for everyone’s attention. No one really seemed to care, at least until a loud, baritone voice cut through the air. Shadow looked to her side only to find a beaten and bloody Ivan standing near the rock, apparently having seen the pair in the cold. At once, everyone looked back toward the three figures next to and on top of the large glacial boulder.
“Good. Now everyone listen up! I’ve been told that there are stores of food and supplies as well as shelter across the river to the East. If we move now, we can be there by dawn, but we have to stick together, or we’ll all die.”
While some seemed ready to go, others weren’t sure. Arguing began between different individuals. Some wanted to make for the Snowy Pines, mostly the wolves. A few wanted to try and get over the mountain pass and into warmer country. Still others were talking about forcing their way back into Callow. None were, realistically, good options. But before consensus could be reached, or a complete breakdown in the large group of at least four hundred keidran, snow wolves approached from all sides, weapons at the ready. Out from the darkness emerged a big wolf, nearly as big as Ivan, wearing polar bear fur and brandishing a long spear.
Keidran tried to run but were quickly cut off. The group of exiles was completely encircled by several hundred strong warriors from the different clans. Bjorn then noticed something odd in the moonlight. Between all the people that they captured, only a handful had anything more than a knife. Certainly no weapons of war, and plenty were half-naked and freezing.
“Where are your weapons?”
“What do you mean?” A tigress asked. “We have none.”
“Then what is this? Are you all trying to run away or something? You’ll freeze out here.” Bjorn bellowed. A young child then pushed his way to the front. It was Asher, the only basitin in the group. “W-we were kicked out, sir.”
Ivan and Shadow came out from the crowd, quickly finding Asher. Shadow grabbed the boy and held onto him tight in case things went south. Ivan tried to reason with Bjorn, who was a bit intimidated by the wolf that was bigger than even him.
“Da. Jarl Tostig pushed us into the snow.”
“Explain.” Bjorn said, spear tip not lowering even slightly.
“What the big guy is trying to say is that Tostig found out there wasn’t enough supplies for everyone to last the winter, so he decided to get rid of every keidran in Callow. We’re exiles.”
This shocked Bjorn. He didn’t think anyone, not even a human, would do something so cutthroat. “Well, if you were hoping for our help, I’m sorry. But we don’t have supplies for everyone here. I can talk to my grandfather and perhaps the council will—”
“There are supplies across the river, if you’d let us go to Ditter’s Ridge we’ll stay out of the way of your siege. We certainly aren’t going to help Tostig after this.
“The big hill near Widow Lake? I thought that was just a bunch of mines.”
“It is, but apparently there are stores of supplies and shelter there.”
Ditter’s Ridge was still technically snow wolf lands, and the recent mining activity was part of why this whole situation was happening now. But these weren’t humans, clearly weren’t loyal to Tostig, and had no means to defending themselves anyway. After taking in the sight, he knew that they were speaking the truth, and that many wouldn’t make it more than a few days even in thick winter fur.
“Alright. We have no quarrel with you. I and a few others will lead you across the river. There’s a ford at Ridge Gate that’s shallow enough you all can cross without getting wet above the knees. We had better hurry though; another storm is coming.”
Shadow then walked up to Bjorn, noting that she was barely taller than his shoulder. “Thank you.” She said gratefully, extending a hand.
Bjorn looked down and felt his heart skip a beat. In a land of ice and snow, before him was a black-furred leopard, a keidran he had never seen before. He immediately reached out to shake her hand. “I am happy to help. Now, we had better get a move on.”
“Lead the way...” Shadow gestured as she grabbed Asher once again and made sure he walked closely beside her through the snow.
It was tough walking through the drifts. At one point, Shadow broke through a layer of hard snow into soft powder below. She sank up to her chest and was struggling to get out when a pair of snow shoes appeared in front of her. Looking up, she saw Bjorn extending his hand. In one swift motion, he lifted the leopard clean out of the snow and onto his snow shoes.
“Thank you.” Shadow said, stunned at how easy it was for the wolf.
“It was nothing.” He said, smile on his face.
In the early hours of dawn, the group of keidran spotted the Ridge Gate, a pair of towering bluffs the river cut through in order to make it to the sea. Soon, Shadow and Asher were some of the first to reach the shore of the river. Shadow picked up Asher and held him as she tried to cross, but the icy water stung on her skin. Bjorn then offered his help once again.
“Please, allow me.” He said as he picked Asher up and placed the boy on his shoulders. Before Shadow could continue into the river, he picked her up as well and held her under her back and knees.
“Oh... my…” Shadow said, looking up at Bjorn. “You really don’t have to.”
“I assume you aren’t from around these parts, considering the black fur.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Well, the river water is cold enough that you really don’t want to get wet if you can help it. So hold on tight, I’ll walk you across.”
It took a few minutes, but Shadow and Asher found themselves on dry ground. Without a word, Bjorn turned around and waded across the river again. It felt… odd… to be carried like that. But apparently the snow wolves were doing this for many of the keidran, especially the children. It took close to a half an hour before everyone was across, but by then it was a simple matter of climbing the ridge. At the top, Shadow and Asher felt the first rays of sun peaking above the horizon. It would fill the valley below for only a couple of hours before setting again.
“We’re getting close to the equinox.” Bjorn explained. “The sun will only break the horizon for an hour then, and it will get really cold.”
“Thank you again.” Shadow replied. “But I didn’t catch your name.”
“It’s Bjorn, ma’am.”
“Well, thank you Bjorn. I am Shadow and this here is Asher.”
“Glad to know you, Shadow. Now, where are these supplies you were talking about?”
“I’m guessing they are down there.” Shadow said as she pointed at what looked to be an abandoned mining camp. Once at the bottom of the ridge, the state of the camp was sad. Tents were blown down by the wind, a couple of the makeshift shacks were caved in from the heavy snow. But one large structure was locked up tight. Busting in the door with a log for a battering ram, the keidran found the first of many supplies. While the food was mostly for humans, and thus was a lot of flour and coffee, there was plenty of dried and salted meats. It wouldn’t be much, but with some careful rationing they’d all be able to make it through the winter.
Please don’t call me and if you do, call me two times if it’s an emergency and you NEED to talk to me. Otherwise drop me a text. I will reply to you if it’s urgent. If not I’ll get back to you in about half an hour or after work.
The only time calls are acceptable is if it’s long distance. In an age where we are so disconnected physically by technology meant to connect us please save your energy/stories and make a date with me. I’d love to sit face to face and guarantee both parties are willing to engage 100% of their attention to the conversation. It also helps being able to see reactions, body language, and story telling with hands. Im not sure why I hate phone calls so much but I feel a sense of annoyance come over me when I see a phone call request come in. Like it’s just so inefficient.
1 First it’s the intro “hey dude it’s x how are you doing.” This phase is completely skipped over text. You texted me, I know who it is and you know who you’re texting. No need to reintroduce yourself or clarify again when texting.
2 You can’t get trapped texting. Maybe this is a Midwest thing but my god the amount of times I’d be told to talk to my relatives who live in the Midwest and I’d get stuck in the endless loop of the Midwest goodbye which basically is one party continually bringing up random things as the conversations comes to a close in an effort to find new ground to converse was infuriating. Over text you can just leave the conversation be once the informations been exchanged and it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feeling near as bad as hanging up without a goodbye does.
3 the exchange of information is straightforward and leaves no room for side conversations unless you want to engage in them. I live at home currently and I called my mom while I was out doing errands. I called asking if we had another spare container to collect grease in (we use old peanut butter cans to collect grease from the grill when my dad uses it and when I air fry chicken I put my grease in it as well and we recycle it. If we don’t have a spare peanut butter jar sometimes we by single glass mason jars to store it in. ) My mom doesn’t understand from the get go what grease collection I’m talking about. I then try repeating myself. She says she’s not understanding then I have to step by step explain what I’m talking about starting with “when dad cooks food all the grease builds up and we ha—“ my mom finally understood and then went off on a a tangent about how my dads been throwing the grease in the trash and making the house smell bad. I realized I should’ve just texted my mom “I’m at target, do we need another grease catcher jar” and she either would’ve understood me instantly. I feel people don’t comprehend/understand stuff as well on the phone cause they’re also on the phone trying to give instant replies and it decreases brain power staying in the conversation. When you text you can stop think your response over and even research it. I know my mom would’ve understood my grease catching question if I had just texted it to her rather than called. It turned into a 3 minute conversation which isn’t a long time at all but the fact it could’ve been a good 10 second text bothered me so much. Walking around the store with things to do listening absently mindedly out of respect before I could finally hang up and get back to my shopping. God I hate it so much. Any one else out there share this same frustration with phone calls, want to add to reason why it sucks, or can tell me why I react so oddly to it?
My nearly-80 y/o MIL needs new flooring. The contractor is asking for 75% down. She almost signed, then called me. She has a history of being quite a pushover, which she is trying to change. We just dropped $38K on our yard last fall (and it is lovely!), and only put 50% down.
My experience, as well as posts I've seen here and per other resources, is that 50% down has always been the customary standard. It's enough to get materials, or pay labor if the contractor is using a line of credit with their supplier for materials. But it's not so much that the contractor might think they can "back-burner" your project often or otherwise delay finishing (or Heaven forbid, just skip out) since they already have a nice chunk of change.
She's looking at a $12K job, so $9K is a LOT. I know prices have risen, but that should be reflected in the total.
Are they trying to take advantage of a little old lady? Will her contractor balk at a counter-offer of 50% down? Is this materials dependent? She has chosen Luxury Vinyl Plank, if that matters.