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#V; From Across The Distant Shore
glimpseofwonder · a year ago
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"So... What happens now?"
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jamalflanagan · 7 months ago
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no church in the wild
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MINORS DO NOT INTERACT
Characters: old god!Thor Odinson x black!reader
Summary: You'd made it out of the small town that you'd grown up in, but when you're pulled back by circumstances beyond your control you realize that your grandmother was right. No one ever really leaves here, sweetpea. Something always brings them back.
Word Count: 7k+
Warnings: DARK FIC, HORROR THEMES, dub/noncon, murder, betrayal, cult behavior, ritual sacrifice, blood, um sex pollen? (thor uses his powers to manipulate the readers body/libido so whatever that counts as), unprotected sex (p in v, wrap it before you tap it), squirting, electroplay, possessiveness, overstimulation, crying because the dick too bomb, rough sex, breeding (a couple quick lil mentions)
A/N:  This is my other entry for @boxofbonesfic's exciting challenge (Bones Spooktacular Smutfest!), tried a little something new again. Anyways, all mistakes are mine so pardon any errors or typos I'm sure I missed a few. The divider is by @firefly-graphics. The moodboard is by me.
DO NOT repost or translate my work anywhere. Reblogs are always welcome, and let me know that you enjoy my fics.
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You’re a child, only four, when your mother and father go missing, and you end up living with your grandmother. You have nothing but a picture of your mother and father holding you after you were born. They were young parents, fresh out of high school and madly in love according to your grandmother.
You wish you could have had more time with them before the mysterious disappearance. You wish you could remember them more than you do, but as the years go on the only recollection of them that you have is that one picture. Eventually you stop looking at it, not wanting to dwell on the hole that their absence leaves in your life. It’s not a mystery that you’ll be able to solve, and the local police have long since stopped searching. Soon enough it’s like they never even were, the only proof that your parents once lived in the small town is you.
It’s not unusual, people go missing from around those parts all the time.
By the time you turn eighteen you’re a bright young woman, freshly graduated from your senior year. You celebrate with your two best friends. Chrissy Swanson, daughter of the mayor, and Jake Wyler the star quarterback. It’s his idea to go into the woods and skinny dip in the lake. Never mind the storm that’s brewing overhead, you all agree that it’s the perfect send off for you since in only a month’s time you’ll be starting college all the way across the country. You ignore the warning your grandmother gave you years ago.
Never go into the woods, you hear? There is something in the woods, and it is old and hungry.
It’s all fun, and laughter. None of you notice the electricity in the air as the rain starts to come down in sheets. Of course you all know about the danger, but you’re young and reckless and think that nothing bad will happen. It’s not until lightning touches down just a little too close to shore that you all decide to call it and get out of the water. You don’t make it two steps away from the water before the next strike of lightning hits you.
It burns, like white hot heat flashing through you right down to the very atom. Oddly enough you barely feel it, the flash of heat so quick that your brain doesn’t have time to really process the pain that should come with it. Everything after that is a blur, you’re in and out until a day later when you briefly wake to the hushed sounds of your grandmother arguing with someone that sounds suspiciously like Chrissy’s father. You can’t make it all out, but what you can makes you wonder if there’s more to the people in your life than you know.
You’ve already taken her parents...
The blood moon is a week away…
You can’t have her…
Do you speak as her grandmother or his völva...
Both. She’s been blessed…
Things go blurry again, and you sleep for another two days. It’s all a distant memory when you wake up fully, and if it weren’t for the ferning patterns of scarring against your skin you wouldn’t have believed any of it happened at all. You write off the hushed conversation as nothing but a fever dream, and life goes on.
Years later you’re working at a well paying company, you’re valued by the boss and those under him. You’re happy with your life, and something in the back of your mind tells you that it’s only temporary. Ever since that night by the lake you’ve gotten these feelings, sometimes visions of things that have yet to happen. You always brush it off, it’s either deja vu or a coincidence.
“Hey, hon.” You look up with a start, smiling a second later at Pepper Potts, your boss and perhaps one of your favorite people in the world after your grandmother. The thought of your grandmother has an icy dread running through your veins. Again you try to ignore it, but something about the way Pepper is looking at you makes you think that you shouldn’t. “You busy? We need to talk.” Your smile drops at that, she looks sad, like she doesn’t want to say what she does next. “I know you’re excited to get started in your new position but I just got a call from a hospital.” Your stomach drops to your feet, and before she says it you can hear the words. “It’s your grandmother, hon. Apparently she’s really sick and the doctor’s don’t think she’s got long left.”
“I-” You don’t know what to say, what can you say? Everything fades to background noise, and you vaguely make out the sound of Pepper telling you to take the next two months off to go take care of your grandmother. “The position will be waiting for you on your return”, she promises, and you believe her.
A day later you’re back in your little home town, and it's almost like nothing has changed. Nothing except for your grandmother who seems frailer and more tired than you ever remember her being.
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“Do you have a signal? I don’t have a signal.” Chrissy huffs from the passenger's seat of your car. You check your phone and find that you don’t either, it causes a curse to fly past your lips as you toss the useless device into your purse. “Ugh this sucks, I really wanted to go to that party tonight.” She fusses, and gripping the steering wheel until your fingers ache is all you can do to keep yourself from shouting at her to shut up about the damn party.
She’s still just as vapid and clueless as she was in high school, you think to yourself, grumbling under your breath as you peer out of the window with a scowl.
You feel on edge tonight, you’ve been feeling on edge for a better part of the last two weeks if you’re honest with yourself. You should have been back to your big city life, starting your new position at Stark Industries and settling into the big cushy office that you’d earned after years of college and student loan debt. Instead you’re stranded on the side of the road, your car mysteriously dead, and no cell service to call for help. It’s been two months since you’ve been back, and now that it’s time for you to go back to your life you find yourself stuck.
No one ever really leaves here, sweetpea. Something always brings them back.
You remember your grandmother’s words as if she were sitting right next to you. It causes a shiver to wrack your frame as you open the driver side door and poke your head out to peer up and down the road in search of headlights. Maybe you two can hitch a ride into town if you’re lucky. Though the thought of returning to town makes you sigh heavily. You don’t want to go back, it’s been more suffocating than usual, and you were itching to get away from all the fake and overwhelming niceness you’ve been dealing with for the past two weeks.
The only thing keeping you there is your grandmother’s house, she’s gone now but that last month you’d spent with her while helping her through her illness had been a gift. She still had her fire, and for a while there you thought that maybe she’d get better...but then she didn’t. Now all you have are memories of the eccentric old bird. You smile faintly as you think about her and the influence she’s had on your life, hell she’s the reason why once upon a time you had such a deep obsession with Norse myth.
Not everything they say is a myth is just a myth, some of it is true.
That's what she had said one day when she found you reading one of your old story books about the Norse gods. Thor was always your favorite, the mighty Thunderer. You let yourself drift off in thought for a moment, remembering those stories and the myths that your grandmother would tell you at bedtime.
A flash of lightning streaks across the sky, it startles you and it causes the hair on the back of your neck to raise on end when the thunder that always follows rumbles through the sky. It shakes you from your memories, and causes a shrill shriek from Chrissy in the passenger seat beside you.
Just a coincidence. Stop being so paranoid. You think to yourself, trying to shake off the feeling of foreboding that's starting to settle in your bones.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little rain, Chrissy.” You try for a lighthearted tease, but she only offers up a fake laugh of annoyance as she looks nervously out the window. You think for a moment that there’s a bright side, you aren’t alone on the side of the road. And once upon a time Chrissy had been your best friend, seems like she still was as she hadn’t wasted any time welcoming you back into her life with open arms. Sure she was a bit condescending, and uppity, but you figure that just comes with being the mayor’s only daughter. She’s a big fish in a little pond and she knows it, but she’s always had a soft spot for you. You chuckle at another memory then, drawing her attention as you pull your car door shut and shake your head.
“What’s so funny?” She sniffs, eyeing you as if you’re crazy for laughing while the two of you are stranded with no way of getting help.
“Nothing, I was just thinking about that time after graduation when me, you, and Jake got the bright idea to go skinny dipping during a thunderstorm.” As you mention it your hand drifts to your neck where the Lichtenberg figure still scars your flesh. It had been the last hurrah before you left for college all the way across the country. God you’d all been young, dumb, and reckless back then. At the time it hadn’t been funny, the lightning that hit you should have killed you, the doctor’s were sure of it, but you had survived, and even more surprising and the feathered, fern like scar that spreads from your hip, up your back, and crawls up the side of your neck to disappear in your hair still remains. Your grandmother had always said it was a sign that you had been blessed by Thor himself.
You expect to hear Chrissy laughing at the memory, but instead you get silence. Finding that strange you turn to glance at your friend only to see her glaring at nothing in particular as she keeps her gaze fixed on the windshield. She looks upset, only snapping out of it when another rumble of thunder suddenly rolls overhead. “Yeah, that was a crazy night. Especially with how you almost died.” Something about the way she says it makes you regard her warily, was that bitterness in her voice? You don’t have long to think about it before she’s perking back up and reaching for the car door as if she’s just made a decision. “I guess we better start hiking it back to town, doesn’t make much sense to just sit here.” Chrissy says, slipping off her heels and replacing them with a pair of flats that she pulls from her purse.
For a brief moment you wish that you’d thought of packing a pair of flats as well, but how were you to know that this is how your evening would turn out? In any case, you don’t exactly feel like facing the long stretch of road to walk back into town. Doesn’t matter though, because Chrissy is already walking away from the car and you barely have enough time to grab your purse and a jacket from the backseat. You manage to slip out of your expensive stilettos to carry them in one hand before you jog to catch up with Chrissy’s hurried steps. “Jesus, seriously are you sure you don’t want to just wait in the car? Someone’s gotta come by eventually.” You press, but Chrissy just laughs you off and keeps walking. She’s lucky, you think to yourself. If you weren’t such a good friend you’d let her walk alone in favor of returning to the safety of your car. You aren’t that selfish though, so the two of you walk in silence.
You check the sky with a huff, noting the dark clouds that hang heavy in the air. The forecast didn't say anything about a storm but you can smell the moisture in the air. The humidity making your curly mane frizz on top of your head. It's yet another thing that annoys you as you continue your trek back towards town. You just hope you can make it before the rain comes, you aren't sure though when you see another flash of lightning and seconds later hear the distant rumble of thunder in the distance. Another gust of chilly wind whips through the air and you pull your jacket tighter around you.
Minutes tick by, and you have no idea how long the two of you have been walking. A glance back tells you that you’re far enough that you can’t see your car anymore. It’s something that worries you, especially when you hear rustling in the nearby trees.
"Just keep walking, don't think about how creepy it is out here" you mutter to yourself, eyes glancing to the woods that line the only road in and out of town. Chrissy says nothing if she hears your muttering, her eyes darting around suspiciously as if she’s looking for something. You look around as well, noting that the other thing around you are the dark woods that line the sides of the empty road. “I bet if we cut through the woods we’ll get back even faster.” Her words make you freeze midstep.
Never go into the woods, you hear? There is something in the woods, and it is old and hungry.
Your grandmother’s warning rings loud and true in your ears as you stop walking suddenly. This time you heed your grandmother’s warning. She also told you to trust your gut, and right now your gut is telling you that something is very wrong. In all your years knowing Chrissy she’s never been the type to want to walk several miles for anything. And she’s never wanted to go trekking through the woods that surround the town. That she’s so casually suggesting it now makes you wonder what’s going on with your friend. “Chrissy, I’m going back to the car. It’s getting dark and it’s getting colder. I’m pretty sure it’s going to start storming any second now, let’s just go back to the car and wait. Chrissy marches a few feet ahead of you, stopping with a grumble on her lips before she whips around to face you with a furrowed brow and narrowing eyes.
“Will you stop acting like a dramatic bitch, and just come on? Your car won’t start, there’s no point.” She snaps, and you flinch away in surprise before your temper is ramping up quickly.
“Okay I’m not the one acting like a bitch right now, Chrissy what the fuck?” You don’t make a move, and Chrissy seems to know that you’re about to turn back. She curses under her breath, watching as you shake your head and turn around to walk back towards your car. You don’t make it far before that feeling of something being very wrong washes over you again, so you stop. Your head whips to the left to look behind you, Chrissy isn’t there and for a moment you feel guilty for leaving her by herself. You sigh, mulling it over before you tell yourself that you turn back in the direction of your car.
You nearly scream when you see the shadowy figures that stand off in the distance. The shock wears off and is swiftly replaced by fear as your steps falter. Robed and masked figures stand a foot apart blocking the road ahead, and when you turn to the left you see more robed figures wearing masks slowly emerging from the woods. You spin on your heel, prepared to go the other way now that your path back to the car is cut off and you see that there are more people behind you…at least you hope they’re people. The only clear path you have is to the right, and directly into the woods. The woods your grandmother always warned you about, and in the distance you can hear the howl of a wolf.
RUN!
It’s that voice that always lingers in the back of your mind, telling you things that you shouldn’t know are about to happen. You don’t ignore it, this time you let it guide you as you dart into the woods with your high heels in your hand. You have no idea which way you’re going, you just know that you need to keep running and listening to this voice that tells you when to turn, when to duck, and when to jump. You keep moving, not stopping even when you feel a branch lash against your cheek and split the skin. Blood trickles from the thin cut, and you don’t even feel it. Your hair gets caught in another branch and you don’t stop to untangle it, you barely wince when strands of your curly hair are ripped out. You run until your lungs are burning, and your legs are aching, it’s been too long since you’ve run. City life has made you lazy, and you think to yourself that if you can get out of this horror movie that you’ll never neglect your cardio again.
The adrenaline helps to numb everything and that guiding voice is clear as a bell as it navigates you through unfamiliar territory. Turn right. It whispers, and you do. Left here. Your direction shifts again. Jump. And you do just in time to miss the exposed root of a tree. Stop, get low. You drop to the earthy covered ground, dirt and leaves crunching under your body as you duck your head when the sound of footsteps rush by you mere feet away from where you’ve dropped down. There’s silence, but you don’t move yet because there’s a warning ringing in your mind that danger is near.
You hear that guiding voice starting to urge you to move again, and you hesitate because you can still hear people in the distance as they hunt for you. Your hesitation spells disaster, and when you finally pluck up the courage to lift yourself from the ground you can hear the commotion and rush of bodies following after you. You know they’ve spotted you, and you curse yourself for not trusting whatever it is that’s been navigating you through this ordeal.
Blindly and with no direction you frantically run through the trees and try to avoid exposed roots and rocks that might try to trip you up. All too soon though you find yourself running directly into a trap. You don’t see the heavy branch being swung into your path until you collide with it and you’re knocked onto your back with a wheezing breath. Pain wracks your body with each attempt to take a breath, “She’s over here!” A voice calls out, “I got her!” They say, watching as you struggle to get to your feet so that you can try to run again. You don’t get more than a few steps away before something heavy lands on the back of your head and you’re crumpling to the ground in an unconscious heap.
Sounds are muffled as you blearily drift in and out. You’re no longer in the same spot that you remember being last. You groan, splitting pain in your head as you blink and try to take in your surroundings. You’re being moved, dragged by your arms through the dirt and leaves, your bare legs are cut and bleeding in some spots from the rough and jagged rocks littered around the ground. You can’t feel it though, the pain in your head supersedes everything else. Your head rolls back on your shoulders causing you to view the world upside down and blurry. Shapes float in the air, things that shouldn’t be there.
A ghostly figure of a woman with a headdress made from the skull of an antlered animal passes overhead. No one else seems to notice the woman, or how she extends a thin near skeletal hand and points at you. Her voice is a raspy whisper on the wind but you hear it all the same. She calls you the chosen. His chosen. The specter vanishes by the time you manage to weakly lift your head to keep it in your sight. Your head falls back heavily, the effort to lift it causes you more pain. Concussion? You think, you’re seeing things because you have a concussion, that’s it you’re sure of it. How else do you explain the two goats you see watching as your limp body is dragged on?
You murmur in confusion, that doesn’t make sense. They look like the goats head lolling to the right to see a couple, they look so oddly familiar. “Mama? Dad?” You don’t know how you know but you do. It’s them, and they’re reaching for you, calling your name but they sound so far away. They’re here? How are they here? You open your mouth to ask but then the ghostly visions of them are shifting to horrid specters with gaping wounds where their hearts should be. Blood pours from them and they try to speak but only blood is coughed up before they vanish as well. You scream, shocked, frightened, and angry enough that you fight and thrash but it does no good and they continue dragging you along until you reach a clearing.
Torches light the space and you can make out the shapes of more masked and robed figures standing around a stone table that’s stained with blood. There’s another body, a male and he’s unconscious on top of the stone table. You scream and curse, threats fly from you and all are ignored as rough hands lift you up to deposit you onto the stone table. Rough, worn rope ties down your arms by the wrists but with as much struggling as you do the binding isn’t nearly as secure as it should be. Your ankles are tied down next, and you cry out for help, for someone to intervene but no one does, instead they all watch on passively.
A man steps forward, his robe more ornate and decorated than the plain black ones that the rest of the crowd wears. When he begins to speak a hush falls over the crowd, and he holds them in rapt attention.
“We gather here tonight under the blood moon as we have for many years to offer these sacrifices to the Old God Thor, we ask that he grant us his favor and continue to let our town flourish and prosper.”
Your eyes widen, thinking back on all the missing persons over the years and how the searches were always quick and never resulted in anyone being found. You think about your parents that you never got to really know, vanished without a trace. There were always two people missing at a time too, and now you know why. Just like before, these people are planning to make you and this stranger into sacrifices. You watch in fear as the man leading this twisted ceremony picks up a wicked looking dagger and lifts it high in the air. “No! NO DON’T—” It comes down and sinks into the bound man’s chest with a wet squelch, and you turn away feeling as if you’re going to be sick as the sound of muscle being sawed through and bones being cracked fills your ears. Warm blood flows from the body and soaks into the fabric of your silk dress and you swallow down a sob not wanting to show weakness.
You’re close to giving up when you spot something in the crowd of people. A familiar face stands there, unseen by the others, smiling at you as if to say everything will be fine. It’s your grandmother, and you can hear her voice speaking to you as if she’s actually there.
Call out to him, pray for favor and he will grant it.
You don’t question it, anything is better than doing nothing so you turn your eyes to the dark sky and stare at the red moon that hangs overhead. The words you recite are something you remember hearing your grandmother say when she was alive. Things always seemed to work out for her afterwards, and you hope that you will have the same good fortune.
“Hail to the Thunderer.” You whisper, a tear leaking from the corner of your eye as you begin to try and wiggle your wrists from. “Hail to the lord of the storms.” The man leading this ceremony stops speaking, eyeing you instead from behind his mask. “Grant me your favor, grant me your strength, and strike down my enemies, o’ Mighty One.”
“No!” The man lifts the dagger, ready to bring it down on you just as he had the poor young man lying dead next to you. You panic, forgetting the rest of the words to your grandmother’s prayer but you don’t need to say them. Lightning touches down, blazing bright and blinding and it scorches the earth, startling the man into dropping the dagger. You’re only saved by getting your wrists free and sitting up in the nick of time. Out of the lightning steps a man, or at least what looks like a man. A hush falls over the clearing, men and women drop to their knees in reverence and you stare in bewilderment at the god that you’ve summoned. The ferning patterned scar tingles and gooseflesh prickles up along your skin. You feel like there’s something buzzing just under your skin, and when the god looks at you your breath catches in your throat.
Behind you there’s a rustle of movement, the leader makes a move and you act on impulse, grabbing up the dropped dagger and lashing out with it to catch the robed man across the neck with it when he tries to lunge at you. He clutches his throat, crimson seeping through his fingers as he tries to stop his lifeblood from spilling from him. You don’t stop to watch him stumble away and fall to the ground dead, you focus on cutting through the ropes tied to your ankles instead so that you can free yourself. Jumping down from the stone table you try to ignore the sticky blood that isn’t yours causing your dress to stick to your flesh. You can feel the Thunderer’s eyes on you the whole time, and his gaze feels as if it’s scorching you. You avoid looking at him again, choosing instead to turn your attention to the man whose throat you’ve just slit. His mask has fallen away to reveal the face of the mayor, Chrissy’s father, and man that has always been kind to you and caring. Anger bubbles inside you but you barely get a chance to feel it before you’re being screamed at.
“You bitch!” It’s a woman’s voice that screeches at you, she reaches up to her mask and rips it away. You stare in shock at Chrissy, your supposed friend, and the only reason you were out tonight. “You ruin everything!” She yells, stamping her foot down like a toddler. “All through high school you were the one that everyone loved. You just thought you were so fucking special, always stealing the attention and having to be in the limelight! You’re the reason why Jake never looked twice at me and still won’t!” She shrieks.
You scoff in disbelief, her father’s dead by your hand but she’s more upset about childish things. “Maybe he’s just not into you because he doesn’t like vapid bitches with nothing to offer him except for some mediocre pussy!” You snap back, and you only have a second to appreciate how offended she is before she’s charging at you brandishing her sharp acrylics like claws. She catches you on the cheek, but you still have the dagger in your hands and it sinks into her stomach when you move to defend yourself. “Shit!” You don’t think when you pull the dagger out of her, and she splutters up blood and drops to her knees.
“Fuck, Chrissy. You disloyal bitch.” You mutter, this isn’t what you wanted but you won’t let yourself feel bad if she bleeds out.
“It should be you. I wanted it to be you.” She says, voice watery and wobbly before she whines in pain and falls to the side with blood pouring out of her.
“We don’t always get what we want.” You reply coldly before you turn to the kneeling crowd of worshippers and the scowling god. The masked faces all look at you, and you reach for the closest one to rip it away.
Margaret Carter who owns the local grocery store. She always gave you a free candy bar.
You rip off another mask.
Alexander Pierce the librarian that always let you slide on fines for bringing a book back late.
When you reach for a third mask a hand flashes out and grabs you by the wrist and twists you around until your back is pressed to a man’s chest and the bloody dagger in your hand is brought up to your neck. “That’s enough out of you.” He curses under his breath, looking to where Chrissy’s father lays dead. “Shoulda killed you first, but we can still finish the sacrifice.”
You know that voice.
Thaddeus Ross the old retired army veteran who has never liked you.
He’s seconds from plunging the knife into your chest when thunder booms overhead so loud that it makes your ears ring.
“Release her.” Gods his voice, it’s like rolling thunder and crashing waves, you can hear destruction and war. He doesn’t yell but the strength of his voice feels like it carries enough power to topple mountains. Those two words from him are enough to make Ross drop the dagger and take a step away from you, and the moment he does Thor raises his hammer and electricity crackles in the air before it erupts from Mjolnir to strike the man in the chest and burn straight through him until he falls down dead. “You were warned.” He says, and the worshippers cower at his feet. “You were told that she was to be spared from this, that she was mine.” He growls the final word and you realize that your breathing is coming out short and choppy. This isn’t happening, it can’t be real and he can’t be saying what you think he’s saying.
“My lord pl—” A simple flick of his hammer has lightning striking the person that has dared to speak. You don’t flinch, watching as he turns his anger onto the worshippers as they begin to try and scatter and run. It’s chaos, and the screaming is horrible but it soothes your anger and brings you comfort as you stand there sore, battered, and bruised. You wince when a hand grips your leg and reopens a jagged cut, looking down you see the face of a frightened woman. She looks to be close to your age, and she’s pleading for your help and begging for you to do something. You back away from her, sneering as you shake your head. “You weren’t going to help me, fuck off.” You see her eyes widen in fear, and seconds later she’s nothing but smoking ashes.
You whirl around, bare feet sliding on the damp earth under you, and it's just in time to see Thor surging forward to claim your lips in a possessive kiss. You struggle against him, hands pushing and slapping at his leather covered chest as you try to squirm out of his hold but he holds you in a grip stronger than steel. "You tried to run from your destiny, but you are mine and I was always going to have you." He growls, causing you to whimper. Too easily he backs you towards the stone table, and no matter how hard you try to fight him it’s no use. You don’t stop trying though, still angry and hurt by what you’ve just gone through only for him to do this.
The guiding voice that's never led you wrong urges you to simply give in but you don't listen.
The edge of the stone table hits your ass, and you don’t dare look behind you when you see Thor reach out to push something away. It lands with a soft thud and you know it’s the body of the poor soul that was sacrificed earlier. His hands reach for the neckline of your dress and he rips it apart like paper to leave your breast exposed. The cool air has your nipples pebbling and before you can move to cover yourself the god is lifting you into the air to lay you back against the stone table. He joins you seconds later, faster than you can move, and holds you in place with one hand while the other fishes his already hard cock out from the confines of his pants.
The barely there panties you wear meet the same unfortunate fate as your ruined dress, and when his rough fingers run through your folds you aren’t nearly wet enough to take him. It’s a problem easily remedied. He uses his influence to slip behind your resistance, pumping pheromones into the air and focusing them on you. He watches the change overtake you, your breathing becomes less erratic and deepens, your body heats up, and becomes more responsive to his touch. When he tweaks your nipples between the rough pads of his sparking fingers you keen, unable to stop the sound from escaping you. You don’t know why or how but your mind is steadily becoming more and more hazy with need and lust. Your scent spikes and your arousal slowly begins to drive you to the point of rubbing your thighs together. It’s like an ache that settles in your core and the longer it goes unfilled the more that ache begins to hurt. It’s a struggle but you remember all the things that Thor is the god of and you curse under your breath at how easy it is to manipulate your body for him.
Give in. Give in. You hear it chanting in the back of your mind and you try to shake it off and ignore it.
It becomes nearly impossible as Thor's touch works its way over you. He draws a moan out of you when he glides his fingers ever so lightly over your now slick sex, he does it again this time letting electricity shock against your sex and cry out at how sensitive you feel. That ache grows to the point that it makes you want to weep at how badly you need the relief. “Your struggle is pointless, I’ll have you either way.” His words make you shudder in both fear and anticipation, somewhere in the back of your mind you want him to have mercy on you and quell this ache. You know it’s not right, but there is no denying what you need right now, and it’s all you can do to keep yourself from begging.
You squeeze your eyes shut, trying to think of anything but giving in, but when you feel his fingers spreading you open and teasing against your hole as it clenches around nothing you give in to the desperation. There’s another teasing spark when his thumb brushes your clit and you nearly cum from the sensation only to find yourself falling short of the goal. Tears gather in the corners of your eyes, and you give in when you feel his heavy body beginning to settle over yours. His soft belly presses against yours when he positions himself between your thighs, and a soft “please” whispers its way past your lips.
The thick head of his cock runs through your folds, gathering wetness and smearing your slick over him before he slides to your entrance and begins to push his way in. The first thrust has your breath rushing out of you, and a strangled cry on your lips. He’s so much bigger than anyone or any toy you’ve taken, the stretch of his cock burns in a way that has pleasure and pain both swirling together to make your eyes roll back. You attempt to angle your hips away, but his large hands catch them and hold you down as he begins to rut into you, barely giving you any time to adjust to the sheer size of him. Tears leak from your eyes, moans and cries of pleasure rush out of you. Each thrust has your body sucking him in deeper until you can feel the tip of his cock kissing your cervix and it draws a near scream out of you with how he batters his cock into your body.
“Mine.” He growls against your temple, and you whimper, lifting your arms to wrap around his neck in an effort to hold on and ride out the onslaught of his powerful strokes.
No one’s ever fucked you like this, and you doubt anyone else can. It’s nearly too good, too much, yet you can’t help but crave more. You need more. “Don’t stop…fuuuuuck, please don’t stop.” You beg, legs hooking over his hips to open yourself up more and it gives him an even better angle to sink his thick cock into your clenching cunt. You squeeze him tight, right on the edge and when he slips a hand between your bodies and lets a spark shock against your clit when his thumb brushes over it again you cum with scream, your juices gushing from you and soaking your thighs. He doesn’t stop, not even when your body clamps down like a vise around him. The god simply fucks you harder and all you can do is take it and let him claim you with each pummeling thrust.
“I’ll claim you here too.” He says, sliding his hand to your lower belly, and you can feel the added pressure as his hand presses down against the bulge that his cock creates. You lift your head to look, and the sight has you clenching and cumming again with a sob of pleasure as your juices splash against your thighs. He’s so big and you know you’ll be feeling him for days but you’re too far gone to care. Your body milks him as if the thought of him breeding you is what it needs, you hear the grunting curse from Thor at the sensation and seconds later his cock twitching inside you before the warmth of his seed is painting your walls.
“Yes, yes.” You chant the words, clinging to him trembling and lost in your pleasure. His hands go to your hips as you roll them to meet his thrusts, chasing another high as he mouths at your throat and marks you with bruising bites. He remains hard inside you, still thrusting his thick length into you as deeply as you can take him.
“That’s it, give yourself to me and I will give you everything.” He husks into the crook of your neck, you let out a shaky moan, hips giving a filthy grind against his cock that makes him groan in pleasure and holds you there so you can feel him filling you to the brim.
“Anything?” You pant out, keening a second later when you feel his beard scratching softly against your skin as he groans into your neck.
“Anything and everything.” He swears, hissing when you clench around him again. If this is the bargain then you’ll take it and worry about the consequences later. He’s already shown you that he’ll take what he wants regardless, so why fight it when you can use it to your advantage instead. You nod, words failing you when he draws back and begins to move again. He gives a satisfied hum against your throat, and the way he fucks you now is like a man possessed. His hands on you channel a low current through your body, just enough to set your nerves alight and make every sensation you feel that much more intense. It’s a pleasure like nothing you’ve ever experienced before and it’s dizzying and maddening.
“Fuck, fuck…Thor!” You cry out his name, your hips losing their rhythm as you writhe in overwhelming pleasure. Your walls pulse frantically around him, and before you can register it you’re cumming again with a silent scream.
“That’s it, cum for me. Give me what’s mine.” He growls, pulling back so he can watch your face as you fall apart on his cock. “Mine.” That possessive word has you mewling, and when you feel a strong hand circle your throat with a light squeeze you shudder with a loud moan. “Say it.” He demands, snapping his hips hard and making you squeal with the way his cock slams inside you.
“Y-yours!” You cry, beginning to chant the word as your walls greedily take the battering from the god’s cock. It’s not long before you’re spiraling over the edge again, sobbing at the exquisite pleasure and trying to push him away. Thor is insatiable and hungry for more, he doesn’t let you get away from him as he takes you apart on his cock and drags you right back to the edge until you can’t tell when one orgasm ends and the next one begins. You lose count, and track of time while Thor fucks you in that clearing. He gives you no choice but to take the hard, possessive, and intense fucking that he gives you.
You’re barely conscious when he finally spills inside you, fucking his seed deep into you whispering that he’s made sure it took. You’re exhausted and spent, putting up no fight when he gathers you into his arms and a flash of lightning engulfs you both. You barely make out the difference in your surroundings, drifting in and out of consciousness until you finally succumb. You’re bathed and tended to while you sleep, and then you’re laid in bed where Thor does his best to resist taking you again.
Hours later you’re awoken by the feeling of intense pleasure overtaking your tired body. A look between your thighs has you locking eyes with Thor as he keeps his face buried between your sore and trembling thighs.
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ruknowhere · 16 days ago
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Twilight Hours
Sadakichi Hartmann - 1867-1944
The colors of the rainbow are fading in the silent
and distant West, and the heartache of
twilight trembles within my aching breast.
For the light of my love has faded like sunbeams
in the West, and the color of twilight will
tremble forever in my breast.
II
I think of thy kindness often, when lonesome I feel
and cold, I have not forgotten our childhood,
nor your loving words of old.
And still my sweetest songs of life are floating
in dreams to thee, like whisperings at eventide,
across a clouded sea.
III
We two are sitting in the bark, and listen to the
wavelets’play, the shore is melting in the
dark, day’s echoes silently decay.
Oh life, with all thy hopes so fair, wilt thou
too float away, like visions rising in the
air that greet the parting day!
IV
She stands amidst the roses, and tears dart from her
eyes that like the fragrant roses her soul
must fade and die.
He stares at the twilight ocean on the shore of a
foreign land, a faded rose is trembling
within his soft white hand.
V
The rushes whisper softly, the sounds of silence wake,
large flowers like sad remembrance float
on the dark green lake.
Were life but like the waters, so bright and calm
and deep, and love like floating flowers
that on the surface meet.
VI
The naked trees of autumn grope shivering through
twilight’s gloom, athwart the whispering branches
its dying embers loom.
I dream of life’s defoliation, as I watch with
silent dread, leaf after leaf departing, like
hopes long withered and dead.
VII
In haunting hours of twilight dreams restless the
turbulent sea, and heaves her white wanton
bosom in endless mystery.
Dream on, dream on, titanic queen, beloved sea, at
thy wanton breast, I would find rest
in endless mystery.
From Drifting Flowers of the Sea and Other Poems (1904) by Sadakichi Hartmann. This poem is in the public domain.
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xsugarysweetsx · a year ago
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I hope I got this right it's kind of a mess
May I request option 3 with Oikawa please 😅
A bit about me : I'm 4'9 a bit on the chubby side with tan skin and shoulder length black hair
Personality type is ISTP. I'm quiet and awkward but once I get to know u I can't stop talking. I can be a bit lazy/introverted sometimes but if I'm with friends I know how to have fun. I seem kinda cold and distant but that coz I don't really know how to show affection, but I do care v much. I'm a ppl pleaser and tend to follow the rules so I can blend with the crowd. (I seriously need an outgoing person in my life 😐) love quiet places, bookstores, theme/water parks, reading, watching anime and frozen yoghurt. I have a vintage/kawaii? aesthetic
For the scenario : fluff with some spice at the end maybe? 👀
How about Oikawa finally having a break after volleyball season to spend with his family. He just wants to sleep in with u but the kids have other ideas so they end up going to the beach. Oiks is just being a child himself and having fun with his kids making sandcastles and swimming while u r chilling with one of the kids coz u both don't like the sun. Maybe oiks crashes a beach volleyball game just to show the random strangers how it's done 😌
Again congrats on the milestone and Thank you 😗 ily
A/N; don’t worry this is just fine! And thank you♥️
warnings; Spicy near the end~ not too much tho!
Please enjoy~
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"It's so nice to have you home after so long" you sigh cuddling into your husband's side
He had finally gotten a break from volleyball and now he could spend time with you and your kids. After marrying Oikawa things were a bit hard when it came to quality time. It was even harder after you had become pregnant. He wanted to always be with you but at the same time, he had to be at his games.
Luckily he and his team had gotten about 3 months off, the same as summer vacation. It was one of those rare days when he got to sleep in with you. No early morning jogs, or workouts, just cuddling with his favorite person.
"Yeah, it seems like the only time we cuddle is late at night when I get home but," he shuffles to face you completely "now I'm here and we can sleep all we want" he lays a hand on your waist
"mm yeah" you hum snuggling in for some more sleep
"Mama! Let's go to the beach!" your son came marching in followed by his younger sister
"Yeah, papa! Beach!"
*Sigh*, so much for rest. S/N climbs onto your side of the bed while D/N makes grabby hands to be lifted up. Oikawa lifts her with ease and onto his stomach. You lift your son to sit between you both, here was the center of both your worlds. Your son was 7 and your daughter was 4. They were both polar opposites, D/N was basically a mini Oikawa and your son took more of your attitude.
"well so much for rest..." he sighed "how does the beach sound princes?" he asked you. Ah yes and, you were stationed with him in Brazil while he was on their team. It was almost like constant summer there. Although by the time the kids would be older he wanted to go back to Japan. For now, where you were was just perfect.
"sigh...maybe some sea breeze would be nice" both your kids start to jump on the bed with cheers and smiles "Alright, alright everyone, get dressed and then some breakfast and we can head out."
They stopped quickly and ran to their rooms to grab what they wanted.
"I love how you handle them" Oikawa complimented you with a kiss on your cheek "Come on, I wanna see you in a two-piece!" he shouts down the hall going to help the kids get ready. Going into your drawer you dig through your clothes until you come across a two-piece
"Hmmm, maybe not this time--oh! I remember this one!" you said pulling out one piece from the bottom. It was your favorite color with a low cut back and winches waist. Sure bikinis we’re the race right now but this really made everyone turn their heads. Especially a certain captain ;)
Slipping into the swimsuit you ready yourself with your sandals, bag, glasses, and other necessities. Mostly things for the kids like sunblock, towels, some beach toys, hats, and so many other things. To think you used to only take sunblock and maybe a book, thing change when your a parent huh?
"where is my darling wife? We're just about--whoa there! Hy if you look that good I might drop the kids off at my sister's place" he smirked coming over to you and wrapping you in his arms "Mmm you're just too beautiful for other men to see" he whined
"Well, too bad Mr, the kids want to go to the beach, and besides we haven't gone in a while. It'll be fun, come on" you said taking his hand in your and leading him back to the kitchen. kids were fed and ready, with huge grins on their faces. Usually like walking to the beach with them since it was only about a 10-minute walk.
locking up the doors and putting on some sunblock before you left you're on your way to enjoying a nice beach day. Walking along you say hello to neighbors and store owners. Y/D/N was sat atop of your husband's shoulders, while your son held your hand skipped along the sidewalk. You love to have moments like this. Happy simple moments together.
"Look, Papa!" your daughter points to the yellow-white sand of the beach with beautiful Crystal waves crashing onto the shore. A satisfying salty smell was in the air that filled your heart with excitement.
"Come on bud" Oikawa squats down to pick up your son. He had a habit of not letting them walk in the hot sand, his way of being an "awesome dad". But he was right, it was very thoughtful of him, he even did it to you before.
After finding a good spot he put down both your kids and helps me to set up. You open up the umbrella spread out some blankets and put down your small bag where you had carried some snacks and other necessities.
"Come here kids, you need your block" they both line up so that you can spray and lotion them down. Being in Brazil the sun was much closer than in Japan. Which meant sunscreen was a must!
"You too Toru, come here." you motion with your finger. he practically skipped over to you and plopped down on his knees ready for you to lotion him up. now listen, this was a way of kind of establishing your place to other girls who were around you. Some of them would give you looks and you would just smile back as you applied sunscreen to your husband.
"You turn lovely~" grabbing the lotion he turns to you and starts to apply. Starting gently at your face, then to your shoulders, your arm, your thighs (his favorite), and your back
"Alright, who wants to get into the water?" He said excited standing up
“Me, me Papa! Me!” Your little girl was excited as ever and of course a daddy’s girl. Picking her up abs jogs over to the water, leaving giggles behind
“What about you sweetheart? You want to join your father and sister?” You ask your son and he shakes his head coming over to your side
“I’ll just stay here mama” your son was a lot like you in a way. While your husband preferred to be in the spotlight, you and he preferred to cheer him on from the sidelines. Either way, you had company now. Climbing onto your lap he lays against you as you both enjoy the salty breeze.
You always loved the smell of the ocean, the calm saltiness in the air, the subtle sounds of the waves. It was coming, a bit strange but you really enjoyed it. An even better view was watching Toru enjoy himself. He held your daughter in the air and brought her down when a gentle wave would come and hit them both.
It’s then you saw your husband‘s eyes light up like Christmas lights. He then screws over to a volleyball game puts his daughter on the sideline and begins playing with them. He didn’t know whether to laugh or scold him, or maybe both. He eventually had a ball set over to him and he spiked it over the net. Then again you knew he couldn’t help himself whenever this would happen. You can only count the number of dates on the beach where the same scenario would happen.
It ended up with him apologizing for getting sand in your eyes. About half an hour later they came back, a bit sleepy from all the energy they had just used up. Sitting under the umbrella you bring out the snacks and juices. Everyone enjoyed their favorite sandwich, and small side snacks, and favorite drink. Looking over at your phone you had seen the time went by and it was already past three in the afternoon.
After one more return to the ocean all together y’all start to pack your things and head home. Your daughter fell to sleep on Toru’s shoulder on the way back home. Just as you enter your home the cloud started to roll in. This was your favorite part about beach trips when they ended and rainy days, it just made everything so much cozier.
After putting your son and daughter into bed for their naps you make your way to the bathroom to wash off all the sand. Getting in for us to turn on the warm water and close your eyes. The warm liquid cascading down your body relaxes in your muscles, meanwhile, the thunder clapped in the background faintly. You hear the shower curtain move slightly making you look over your shoulder.
"Hey," he said softly coming closer and pulling you towards him by your middle. He loves to do this, taking a calm shower with you close to him. Nothing really sexual about it but more intimate, and heartwarming. He felt closer to you, more content. Although sometimes it did lead to something more. But overall he loves to have a little alone time with you.
His hands squeeze your body slightly as his lips find your shoulder and neck.
"What are you getting at?" you giggle biting back a sigh
"Mm nothing, just admiring my wife's body is all," he answers a few seconds later you feel something poke at you
"Well, I would ask what's in your pocket--but obviously I can't"
"Well, is there asleep, and we have all night long~" his tongue Finds Its way gliding from your neck of your earlobe and taking it between his lips. He gives a small nipple and a chuckle escapes his chest.
"Aren't you tired from the beach?" you ask turning around and wrapping your hands around his neck
"I'll have to remind just how much stamina a volleyball player can have," he growls picking you up with easy and pinning you to the cool wall making gasp "and we have about, uuhh 7 hours until midnight"
Oh boy, you were in for a long night~
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I hope this was okay! ♥️
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blindinkpoet · a month ago
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Lay down Your sweet and weary head The night is falling You have come to journey's end Sleep now And dream of the ones who came before They are calling From across the distant shore ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvF31-2bVNE... )
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chazz-anova · a year ago
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Chapter 4
Fandom: Far Cry 5 Word Count: 16k Pairing: John Seed/OC  Summary: After being kidnapped by John, Veronica is presented with a whole new world of problems. A/N: Guys I don’t know how, but I finally powered through and finished this chapter! It got longer than I intended, but there’s a lot going on lol. Fair warning, there is a relatively steamy scene in this chapter! Not smut, but enough to warrant a heads up.Thank you to everyone on here who inspires me daily to keep chugging and shout out to all my mutuals and followers who reblog my OC content! I love you guys 💛💛🌼 
AO3 Link Here!
Veronica’s head pounded, and she felt dirt beneath her hands. She tried to move an arm and found she couldn’t move at all. Panic started to rise in her as she remembered taking a bullet in the leg at Woodson’s Pig Farm, then she’d blacked out. “This one?” She heard a man’s gruff voice ask. 
“No, this one.” Another voice corrected. Barely opening one eye, Veronica saw she was on the ground next to another woman and two men stood over her. “Don’t seem very worthy…” The first one commented and leaned over, taking a closer look at her. 
Directly above her, the other man responded, “It is not for us to judge. Deliver her unto the waters, the Cleansing begins tonight.” With a shrug, the first man bent down and hoisted her over his shoulder. 
The woman struggled to stay awake, but blackness swarmed at the edge of her vision, creeping in slowly until it overtook her once more. 
The next time she awoke, she was wet. As she tried to take a breath, she realized she was underwater. The deputy coughed and sputtered, choking on air as she was pulled up out of the water. In front of her, she could just make out headlights illuminating the lake, framing at least two others who were being guided out of the water with her. “We must wash away our past, we must expose our sin. We must atone, for only then can we stand in the light of God and walk through the gates of Eden.” Preached a voice that chilled her to the bone. 
Veronica’s vision cleared incrementally, and she finally saw John Seed on the shore of the lake. As the other hostages passed him, he anointed their heads with something. When it was Ronnie’s turn, he stopped and met her eyes. “Take the others and go. I need to cleanse this one personally.” John muttered darkly. The man guiding Veronica released her shoulders, and she stood in front of her enemy. Though her vision was now clear, the world still swam with stars around the edges. Her thoughts felt muddled from the Bliss both in the bullet she’d taken, and in the water.
John handed the book he’d been reading from to the peggie as he went to the trucks behind them, and the deputy caught a glimpse of the tome. It was white with gold trim, and the Eden’s Gate symbol was embossed on the front. 
A moment later, the truck started up behind them and rumbled away into the night. John rolled up his sleeves slowly, anticipation coating his gaze. His blue shirt was only half buttoned, offering a view of his defined chest. V saw the sin of ‘Sloth’ had been carved there, and then crossed out. The scar didn’t yet look too old. 
John’s steely gaze never left hers, and he tilted his head to the side as he observed her. Suddenly, he grabbed her arms and forced her down into the water. Veronica fell backwards as he caught her off guard, and futilely slapped at his arms and chest as she breathed in swathes of lake water, filling her lungs with the fluid.
Just when she thought she was going to pass out again, he brought her up for air. “Sinner…” He sneered at her, as though her very presence offended her. 
“Fuck.. you!” She sputtered out, learning how to breathe once more while spitting up water. 
Rage contorted John’s features at her defiance and he stiffened, about to thrust her down once more. Just before V hit the water again, a voice behind them called out, “Do you mock the cleansing John?” And the man froze. 
Behind them, another truck had pulled up and Joseph Seed stood in front of it. He stared at them, his presence cautioning John. “No, Joseph, I-”
He was cut off by Joseph hushing him before he could finish the thought. “Shh. You have to love them, John. Do not let your sin prevent that. Bring her unto me.” 
Hesitation and a hint of resentment passed over the Baptist’s features, and he paused only a moment before obeying his brother. John jerked Veronica out of the water, practically dragging her to where the Father stood. 
V resisted as much as she could, but could still feel Bliss coursing through her system as stars flew in and out of her vision. Joseph got face to face with her, reaching upward to cup her face in his large hands. The deputy tried to shy away from the intimate act, but found that she couldn’t. 
“Despite all that you have done, you are not beyond salvation. You’re not here by accident or by chance, you’re here by the grace of God.” Joseph’s words held weight, and she felt the first flickering of temptation for a simpler life. “You’ve been given a gift… now all that remains is to see if you’ll embrace it or cast it aside.” The Father stared into her eyes, pleading with her. 
Tears welled up in Veronica’s eyes, and she felt them running down her cheeks despite the water that still clung to her. She thought of her friends, and the thought of saving them felt more distant than ever. ‘I could just let all this go. No more favors, no more killing. I could be free. I need to do this.’ V’s Bliss addled mind tried pushing her further, and she frowned. ‘No.. I can’t abandon them.’ She thought, becoming more confused as the drug clouded her brain. 
In front of her, Joseph turned to his brother. “This one shall reach the Atonement… or the Gates of Eden shall be shut to you John.” As he said this, the man reached for the other and pressed their foreheads together. Though the action was kind, the warning was still clear. The two looked at each other for a moment more, and Joseph turned to take his leave. 
Veronica observed John watching him go, a kind of sadness in his eyes as his brother got in the truck and left them. His gaze slowly turned back to Veronica, and he regarded her with barely contained anger. “You will confess. Every sin you’ve ever committed, no matter how petty, no matter how small… I will pull them all from you. Then we’ll see if you’re worthy of atonement.” He chuckled derisively, as though she was beneath her.
The deputy boiled with wrath at his dismissive attitude, the familiar feeling wrapping around her like a cozy blanket and giving her strength. John once again grabbed her arm, intending on taking her to his own truck, but didn’t get far. V resisted his pull, and he tried to jerk her up the slope of the shore. Using his own momentum, Veronica pulled the both of them to the ground. 
John released his grip on her, and planted both hands on the ground to try to help himself up. Before he could stand, Ronnie rolled over and pushed him back down. He landed on his back, the air rushing out of him on impact and stunning him. 
Seeing her opportunity, the woman scrambled over and climbed on top of him, pinning him to the ground. Her hands searched frantically along his sides for a knife she desperately hoped he’d be carrying. John thrusted his palms upwards, trying to push her off of him; but Veronica held fast, bearing down with her hips.  
Finally- she felt smooth leather and followed it until she felt cold, solid metal. With a sharp breath, she pulled the blade from its sheath and up in an arc. Underneath her, John’s eyes widened and he grabbed one of her wrists to throw her off balance. 
Veronica could feel his heart hammering as she met his eyes and brought down the blade in a smooth motion. The knife drove hilt deep into the wet silt directly next to the pair, inches away from them. The world seemed to stop and the only sound was their heavy breaths. They held each other’s gaze and neither of them could move. 
The unspoken question hung in the air and John released her wrist. He silently held up his hands in the classic ‘I mean no harm’ position, and Veronica’s brow furrowed. They stayed like that for a moment in shared confusion, considering what this meant; and then the deputy swung a leg over and swiftly got off of him. The moment she stood completely- she started running, leaving John on the lakeshore.
Weighed down by her wet clothes, V struggled through the woods and resisted the urge to look back. ‘What the fuck was that!!’ The woman yelled at herself, not understanding her own actions. She ran until she physically couldn’t, and stopped to catch her breath. Each time she inhaled, her lungs screamed with the exertion. 
Around her, the woods felt as though they were closing in. She thought of the feeling of John’s knife in her hand, she pictured plunging the knife square into his chest and feeling his blood running through her fingers. This train of thought made her sway, almost nauseated. She stood there hunched over for a few moments- willing herself back to reality. 
Once her breathing returned to normal, Ronnie looked around her. She was surrounded by trees, small animals rustled through the fallen leaves on the forest floor and an owl could be heard somewhere among the pines. No other noises reached her, and she took a deep breath. What had happened back there? Why had she spared John? Why had he spared her? None of it made sense, and the woman wanted to crawl into a warm bed rather than think on it any further. Instead; she continued on through the woods, hoping to come across a road. 
It was only five minutes later that Veronica could hear the sound of gunshots coming from the top of the slope she was climbing up. She froze, wondering if the others had discovered her absence. Men and women yelled up ahead, and she knew she had to advance. 
As the deputy finally came out of the woods, she was confronted with a full on battle. The citizens of Hope County that formed the Resistance had taken up arms- and were engaged in an epic clash against John’s men. 
She was faced with a long dirt road leading up a hill, a concrete building serving as a security post stood a little ways ahead. Black Eden’s Gate flags adorned the structure, marking it as their territory; atop the gate, peggies shot down as many members of the Resistance as they could. 
“Out of the frying pan and into the fucking fire it is!” Veronica huffed, exasperated. She took cover behind a rock as bullets flew past, trying to figure out the best course of action. Only a moment later, a green Jeep careened up the hill, screeching to a halt next to the rocks V crouched behind. 
Pastor Jerome hopped out of the vehicle along with a couple Resistance members, and the man grinned upon seeing her. “Deputy! I’m glad we aren’t too late… though I expected to find you almost up the hill to John’s bunker.” 
Relief washed over Ronnie- almost overwhelming her. “Is that where we are?” She yelled over the gunfire, her voice sounding distant and disoriented even to herself. 
“No, this is just the security gate; the bunker is at the top of this hill! There are more folks still trapped though that need saving. Are you in?” Jerome asked while digging through the back of the Jeep.
V took a few deep breaths to steady herself, knowing she didn’t have much of a choice. “Nowhere I’d rather be!” She replied dryly as she dashed over to meet him behind the vehicle. “Tell me you have some extra guns?” The woman inquired, peering into the back.
The pastor pulled out an M60 and loosened the strap for her before handing it over. “Your favorite!” He joked before loading his shotgun. “You ready?” 
Loading her weapon, Veronica felt the effects of the Bliss finally starting to wear off completely when confronted with the adrenaline of battle. “It’s now or never!” She affirmed, loading her own weapon and looking down the sight. 
They nodded at one another before rushing out from behind the Jeep. Jerome instantly took out one cultist with a shotgun blast to the chest. Veronica was close behind, firing a hailstorm of bullets towards the concrete gate, taking out one and wounding another. 
From behind them, a blue truck with a mounted gun pulled up; firing rapidly at the peggies. A couple of them were sent flying- and a cultist threw a grenade into the truck bed with an audible clang. “Grenade!” Ronnie yelled, diving for cover behind another boulder. With an earthshaking crack, the truck exploded into a fiery blaze, consuming two members of the Resistance. “Fuck!” The deputy shouted, letting forth a ferocious yell as she shot down three more peggies. 
Jerome took care of two at the top of the gate and ran forward, followed by another woman Veronica didn’t know. ‘Just how many people have joined this Resistance already?’ She thought, surprised by the response from the people of Hope County. 
The battle raged on, but Veronica pressed forward. Finally coming to a stop behind a concrete barrier in front of the security gate. She pulled her M60 and shot down two more cultists almost mechanically. 
Across from her, behind another barrier, Jerome had stopped and lifted his shotgun. Before he could get off a shot- a bullet whizzed past and caught him in the shoulder. He cried out and dropped back down behind cover. His hand went to his shoulder, coming back scarlet. 
“Jerome!” V yelled, looking for a safe way to run over to him. 
He caught her eye and shook his head, shouting back “I’m okay!” 
She hesitated before giving him a nod, and aiming forward again to shoot down another peggie. The woman who’d followed Jerome peeked up from her cover, taking out the last two cultists with her AR-C. 
An eerie silence settled over the battlefield, this checkpoint officially secured. Veronica scanned the area once more but saw no one, and took the chance to catch her breath. The deputy reloaded quickly, and made her way over to Jerome who now stood in front of the structure. He was surrounded by the five remaining Resistance members; one was next to him dressing his wound. 
“We need to hurry, or we have no chance-” One of them started.
Jerome cut him off quickly, affirming “They will not make it to that bunker!” He turned to Ronnie, saying “I knew it meant trouble when we couldn’t reach you after your last transmission. I’m glad the Lord pointed me in the right direction… how did you escape, Veronica?” 
Her mind flashed back to the lakeshore with John, and how she had squandered an opportunity to put an end to the Valley’s suffering. She recalled his eyes, how surprised he looked. He had looked at her as though he was seeing her in a new light, almost. The thought sent a shiver down Veronica’s spine, and her wet clothes suddenly felt as though they were clinging too tight to her skin, almost suffocating her. The deputy didn’t even know where to begin to explain this to Jerome, she certainly couldn’t tell him the truth of it. “Oh, I- they left me alone with just a couple guards… I took them out and got away.” She stuttered, covering poorly. 
The pastor quirked an eyebrow- he knew she was hiding something. Rather than dwell on it though, he got to the task at hand. “Listen, the cult’s moving the rest of the prisoners up the road. They’ve got one of our guys, Merle, too. Time’s wasting- grab what you can and go save them. I’ll call in some more of our people… we’re gonna need them to pull this off.” 
“We have more people?” V questioned.
“Like I told you Veronica, you’ve caused quite a stir… you’re inspiring people.” Jerome replied, as though it were obvious.
The woman frowned, not thinking of herself as particularly inspiring. “I’d better get going.” She said suddenly, turning to hike up the road. 
Further up the trail, corpses were strewn along the hill; both Resistance and peggies alike. Veronica stepped over one, hearing more gunfire and even explosions ahead. Rounding a corner, she was met with two women who appeared to be Resistance members. They were crouched behind a truck. “Hold up!” One of them yelled as V approached. 
She crouched beside them, holding her weapon close. “What’s up?” Veronica shouted over the sound of several consecutive detonations. 
“Those fuckers have a mortar! You’re gonna have to be real careful crossing that bridge!” She responded, cupping her hand around her mouth to make her words louder. 
Ronnie’s head rolled back to look at the sky in vexation as she said to herself “Oh you have got to be fucking shitting me.”
Four men from the Resistance ran up behind them, one of them shouting “We gotta get him, we can’t leave Merle behind!” 
The deputy sighed deeply, the sound of mortar shells going off in the background only adding to her growing migraine. She stood up, saying “Well let’s go!” and following the trail to the bridge that was facing the mortar assault. 
The crew stood behind a small shack at the end of the trail, watching the unrelenting blasts. “How do we get past this, deputy?” One of them asked her. 
Veronica shook her head, not seeing any good options. She turned around to see the group, all looking to her for an answer. The woman took a deep breath and looked back at the bridge, yelling to them “I think the only option… is to run like hell!” On the last word, V took off in a sprint and ran as fast as she could underneath the bridge. 
Her back slammed against the concrete under the overpass, and she could hear whistling as they fired off the mortar once more. ‘Guess we’ll see how this works!’ Ronnie thought to herself and braced for impact. 
The mortar shells battered the bridge with echoing explosions, making it impossible to hear anything but the roar and ringing in your ears. Fiery blasts welling up and flaming out in seconds, sending shrapnel flying. 
The woman clamped her hands over her ears, screaming her stress into the explosion. The last round of detonation came and went, and all seemed well. V peered out from underneath the bridge and saw a metal storm drain ahead. Seizing her opportunity, she ran through the runoff under the bridge to the metal pipe, ducking inside just as another mortar was shot off. 
The next blow came far too close, knocking her back against the wall of the drain pipe. Veronica cried out suddenly, her attention immediately coming to her left arm. From her shoulder protruded an ashen piece of shrapnel, blood welling out of the wound from the sides. “Oh fuck..” Ronnie’s words came out strained, and she touched the wound tenderly. Pain flamed through her whole arm, making her wonder how deep it was embedded. ‘I have to keep going, there’s no other options.’ She gritted her teeth, realising she didn’t have her backpack or first aid kit. She’d almost forgotten about her ordeal earlier and losing half her equipment. A trip to the general store was most definitely on the list after she got through this. 
Another blast came and went, and through the smoke she could see another bridge offering her some much needed cover. In a few seconds, she ran from the storm drain to her next shelter.
From beneath the second bridge, she braved another two blasts from the mortar. Her arm protested every movement, but V knew she was almost to her target. About a hundred feet ahead of her, a long wooden bridge loomed over a small waterfall. To the side of it was a metal pole fitted with a zipline. 
The sight of the latter brought Veronica a much needed smile as she thought ‘Good thing it isn’t my dominant arm that’s fucked up!’. The deputy ran full tilt, her right hand grasping the handle of the zipline and sending her careening to the other side of the river. The adrenaline was almost enough to take her mind off the pain ripping through her other limb.
Landing safely with an undignified roll meant to preserve her left arm, the deputy laughed joyously. “That right there makes it all worth it!” She said to herself, turning around to run up the hill to where Merle lay ahead. 
Veronica came out of the bushes at the top of the hill to see a man tied up next to two corpses. Beyond him- a peggie was manning the mortar that had given her so much trouble. She shot him with no hesitation before springing forward to free Merle. 
“Goddamn, thanks deputy! I thought I was a goner!” He shouted, getting up off the ground and running a hand through his hair. His brunet strands were styled in an unironic mullet, and matched his grease-stained hot rod flames shirt. 
“No problem, you must be Merle?” Veronica assumed, eyeing him up and down.
“That I am ma’am! Oh shit, someone just sent up a flare! More peggies are comin’!” The man asserted, bending down to grab a discarded gun from one of the corpses. 
A red light flew through the sky, announcing their location to every cultist in the area. Before either of them could say anything else, Merle’s radio beeped and Jerome’s voice came over it, “We’re sending a bird now, it’ll be there in two minutes... stay strong!” 
Veronica took a deep breath, readying her weapon as peggies started running across the wooden bridge towards them. She shot them down once they were close enough, sweeping her aim over the gorge beneath them where more raced up the hillside. Their numbers seemed truly endless as Ronnie took out soul after soul, dropping them like flies. The seconds dragged on like minutes as they were overwhelmed with the force of John’s men. 
“Merle, go man the mortar!” Veronica shouted to her companion as she took down three more cultists. 
Following her instruction, the man ran to it and lifted the device, throwing in round after round and savaging the men on the other side of the bridge. 
More peggies rushed across the bridge and up the hill, cornering them. Veronica shot them down one by one, yelling into the night as she fired. Suddenly, dust sprang up in a tornado and took everyone’s sight away. 
The blades of a helicopter could be heard above, and Veronica continued shooting aimlessly into the cloud of dust as it lowered to them. 
Merle abandoned the mortar and ran to the chopper, climbing in the back. Veronica put down one last peggie before following suit and jumping in the other side as bullets flew by. 
“Man, my heart’s beating a million times a minute! Goddamn, deputy, you swung in there and saved our asses.” Merle praised, panting with exertion. 
As the helicopter flew into the night, Veronica watched the pile of corpses she’d left in her wake grow further away. More peggies ran across the bridge to where they once were, shouting after them. Soon they were passing over the lake where Veronica had been held captive not even an hour earlier. “Hell of a night…” She said distantly. 
At the top of the hills the deputy could clearly see John’s ‘YES’ sign lording over the valley. Her face grew flushed with anger at this reminder of her enemy, of the man who made her feel so many things. Veronica looked down and watched the forest give way to farmland, and soon she saw the steeple of Jerome’s church in the distance. 
She cradled her left arm close, the pain ebbing in more and more as the adrenaline left her. As the deputy looked down, drying blood coated her arm in a red glove; she was relieved to see the wound didn’t appear to actively be bleeding anymore though.
Minutes later, the helicopter let the deputy off at the Spread Eagle, she thanked the pilot and Merle before heading under the awning. The chopper took off once more and left her alone in the moonlight. V let out a long breath, trying to digest all that had happened to her just today. “I hope every day isn’t like this, otherwise shit’s gonna be hard to top when this is all done.” She joked to herself dryly, sighing. 
“At least you still have your humor.” An unexpected voice said behind her.
Veronica startled and turned to see Mary May standing in the doorway of her bar with a smile. “Man, you scared me half to death!” Ronnie chuckled. 
The barkeep moved out onto the porch to join her, resting a hand on her right shoulder. “I’m glad you’re alive, deputy. Jerome got real worried after you radioed him, and convinced folks to head to John’s bunker to help you and the others. It was pretty moving.” She nodded, recalling Jerome’s words.
“He seems to have a way of doing that.” Veronica agreed, looking out into the night sky. “The stars never stop taking my breath away out here.” She murmured, wonder in her eyes.
“You doing okay? After everything, I mean.” Mary May questioned, concern clear on her features. 
Veronica considered everything she’d been through in mere days. After a relatively simple life, it all seemed like too much; yet the state of shock V was proving to be in after tonight’s battle had left her feeling rather numb. “I’d probably feel better with a drink.” She murmured, hoping to keep herself from thinking of her interaction with John earlier. “Also, can you get me some gauze? I think I’ll need some help with this…” Ronnie turned, showing her friend the wound she’d sustained earlier.
Mary May nodded- her eyes widening “Oh shit, let me grab my first aid kit, cmon in!” She insisted, beckoning the deputy inside. 
Hesitating a moment, her gaze lingering on the stars. As she turned to go inside, she caught another glimpse of the YES sign and couldn’t help but feel frazzled. “I can’t wait to destroy that dumbass sign.” Veronica grumbled angrily. She took her spot at the bar and sighed, her arm throbbing.
The barkeep returned with a first aid kit and pulled out a cotton ball to dab in alcohol. She set it on the bar and sighed, warning, “This is gonna hurt like a bitch. You want something to bite on?” 
Ronnie thought it over, but decided against it. “Go ahead, I’ll be okay.” She asserted, taking deep breaths. 
Mary May took a deep breath of her own and grabbed a pair of metal hemostats. Gently as possible, she gripped the blackened piece of shrapnel. Just upon touching it, Veronica whimpered quietly. The blonde took another breath, and with one sharp tug wrenched the jagged obstruction from Veronica’s arm. 
V couldn’t help but cry out and pound her fist on the bar, causing bottles to shake in her wake. The piece of shrapnel was tossed in a bowl on the bar, and Mary May padded the wound with alcohol. Veronica winced, exclaiming “Motherfucker!!”
Her friend grabbed a pressure wrap from the first aid kit, applying it quickly to stifle the bleeding. “There, all better.” Mary May patted Veronica’s back reassuringly.
“Holy fuck where’s my drink!” The woman slumped against the counter, her arm sore. 
The barkeep set a glass of whiskey next to Ronnie before grabbing her own, saying “There’s more where that came from!” 
Veronica sat up to take a sip, professing “Thank god for bartenders!” 
Two hours later, Veronica was too drunk to speak let alone feel. “Mary May, I dunno if I’m cut out for alla this.” She slurred, gesturing widely with her hands. The woman laid on the floor of the Spread Eagle, the world spinning above her. 
Her friend popped her head over the bar and looked confused. “Whatdya mean?” Mary May asked- her words just as slurred as Ronnie’s. 
“This. All this. John, Joseph… Jingleheimer-Schmidt.” V snorted as she thought of the silly rhyme, and she sang the rest loudly, “His name is my name too!” The woman sat up from the floor, swaying as though she may go right back down. After a moment Veronica continued, her tone changing drastically, “I did something… not good today.” 
“Did something?” Mary May looked at her suspiciously. 
“I beefed it man. I like. Made the worst choice in the history of choices. What the fuck is wrong with me!” Her head fell in her hands and V groaned loudly.
“Well are you gonna tell me whatcha did?” The barkeep asked as she stood up and walked to the end of the bar. 
“...No.”
“Tell me!” 
“I literally don’t think I can.” 
Mary May stood above Veronica now, her hands on her hips. “If you don’t tell me, I’m gonna havta cut you off!” She threatened with a small smile. 
Ronnie’s head fell to one side as she regarded her friend, and after a moment she gave her a lazy smile. “I’ll tell you… if you help me up.” She said in a sing-songy voice, reaching her arms up and making grabby hands. 
“You’re the one who got on the floor dummy.” The blonde sighed as she planted her feet and helped Veronica stand. 
With a groan, the deputy swayed a moment before steadying herself. She hiccupped as she mumbled, “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” 
The barkeep looked at her expectantly with a quirked eyebrow- though her serious demeanor was diluted by a barely contained drunken smile. 
After a moment- V held up a finger and chuckled, “You almost had me there Mary May! I, for one, think it’s time for bed.” No matter how much she imbibed, she knew telling another soul of her encounter at the lake was not an option. 
Her companion regarded her skeptically before breaking out in a grin and clapping her on the shoulder. “Hey, I’ll let you slide this time… but only because of your help with the Widowmaker today!” Mary May shook a finger at her as she settled back onto a barstool. 
“You’re damn right!” Ronnie joked, turning to make her way upstairs. She exchanged her goodnights and took to the steps, not quite trusting her footwork. A sense of relief washed over her as she weaseled out of telling her newest secret. ‘Gonna have to be more careful than that..’ She thought, annoyed with herself. 
Much stumbling later- Ronnie was able to change and collapse into bed in what had become her home away from home. The comfy sheets enveloped her and coaxed her into sleep; quiet snores sounded from under the covers in seconds. 
As soon as V’s eyes closed, she was dropped into a restless slumber. She opened her eyes in a dream, and was piqued at the sight before her. 
Once more, the deputy was on the lakeshore with none other than John Seed. It was all as before- the pair of them wrestling in the silt under a half moon. Ronnie straddled the Baptist, hoping to gain the upper hand in her Bliss addled state. Her hands found the knife again and it was raised above her. As it drove down, the scene changed significantly. 
Veronica no longer gripped the blade, and instead her hand cupped John’s cheek as she met his lips. The Baptist stiffened for only a moment before returning her kiss. One arm wrapped around her and his hand travelled up to tangle in her tresses. 
John broke their embrace and pulled her hair, tilting her head up and exposing her neck. As he pulled her blonde locks, V let out an approving whimper. The man kissed along her exposed collarbone, stopping at the base of her neck. He traced his tongue along her jugular and could practically feel the life running through her artery. Almost unable to help himself, John bit her once; eliciting a squeak from Veronica. He quickly kissed over the spot as if in apology. Pulling back, their lips clashed once more and he savored her taste. 
The blonde ground her hips against him as the heat rose between them. A quiet moan escaped John, and she could feel him growing hard against her. Taking her revenge, Ronnie bit his lower lip swiftly. When his lips parted she brushed her tongue over his bottom one and felt his meet her. 
John sat up, cupping a hand under her buttocks and lifting her with him. With him sitting up, Ronnie adjusted accordingly; wrapping her legs around him. The two of them pulled back, both of them panting. There was heat in his words when the Baptist leaned forward and murmured, “I want you to blow me.” 
At his words, Veronica felt things low in her body tighten and she nodded wordlessly. John wore a wolf’s grin as he settled back once more, giving her full access to him. V scooted back a bit and trailed a finger down his semi-exposed chest; her finger coming to hook on his belt. She grabbed the tail of it and pulled, unclasping the buckle and tugging the accessory from the belt loops it had been secured in. 
In the front of his jeans, John was hard and ready. Ronnie rubbed a hand along his length over the fabric with a small smile. When she touched him, the man tilted his head back and let out an appreciative sigh. She liked the effect she had on him. 
Her hand went for the button on his jeans, and then the zipper. He helped her tug them down, leaving his plain black briefs as the last layer. Seizing the opportunity to tease- V lowered her head and kissed him through his briefs; making a show of it. “Fuck..” John moaned and made eye contact with her. Veronica smiled mischievously at him and bit the elastic of his undergarments, pulling it up and releasing with a snap. 
The woman grasped the band of the briefs, about to free his member when a crash sounded from outside the dream; snapping Ronnie out of her fantasy.
Waking up in the black room, Veronica sat up and looked around wildly for the source of the noise. When her eyes landed on Boomer standing next to her bed, and her toppled over M60 laying on the floor with a box of now scattered bullets; her heart rate started to slow and relief washed over her.  
The cattle dog looked up at her guiltily, as if apologising for knocking her gun over. The woman sighed and shook her head with a smile, “Boomer- you just saved me from something… potentially disturbing.” She commented while patting the bed for him. The heat of the dream still clung to her skin and she knew her face was a hearty red.
The alarm clock read 3:36am, only a couple hours since she’d gone to bed though it felt like minutes. Boomer hopped up with her and settled against her legs. V settled back down and her thoughts strayed to John’s face as she’d teased him. She bit her lip and took a deep breath, wondering ‘Why does my brain hate me? I cannot be dreaming about him, like some middle-schooler with a crush.’
Ronnie tucked her unbandaged arm under the pillow and rolled over, hoping not to fall back into the same dream when her eyes closed once more. What vexed her most was knowing a deep, dark part of her hoped for the exact opposite. 
Hours later, the deputy woke from a blessedly dreamless slumber. Boomer cuddled up against her side, still asleep. Sunlight filtered in through the curtained windows, dappling the mahogany flooring with specks of gold. Veronica laid there, taking in the silence; after the last few days she knew it was something to treasure.
She had only a brief reprieve before thoughts of her dream surfaced once more. John’s quiet moans, the feeling of their lips meeting, how he had held her as though she was his only salvation. A thrill ran through her and she shook her head, trying to clear the thoughts away. Ronnie buried her head in the covers with a quiet groan and attempted to focus on something else. 
Her mind wandered to Joseph’s sudden appearance, and his exchange with John. Veronica recalled how John had sounded almost fearful when his brother questioned him, asking if he ‘mocked the cleansing’. ‘Then him saying ‘You have to love them’... what the hell..’ She wondered, brow furrowing. V shuddered as she thought of Joseph’s words to her, ‘You’re not here by accident… you’ve been given a gift…’. The feeling of his hands cupping her face was as real as it had been last night and she felt dirty. ‘What fucking gift. All I see are fucking burdens.’ The woman brooded bitterly. 
The burden of rescuing her friends and building the Resistance grew every day, but there was no way she could abandon the allies she’d made and join Eden’s Gate. At the end of the day, she was secure in her decision to be an icon for the Resistance; though they demanded much of her- Veronica could never give up her free will and become one of Joseph’s pawns.
Almost randomly, Ronnie thought of Nancy, someone who had been a family friend for years. The woman her mom had worked with at the Sheriff’s Department, who she herself had worked with. They’d even had her over for dinner and a couple barbeques, it wasn’t much but there had been trust there. When Joseph had taken the helicopter’s headset after it crashed and he’d spoken to the seemingly worried sheriff’s dispatcher, the woman had called him ‘Father’. Veronica bit the inside of her cheek as she worried, ‘That can’t have been all he meant when he said this wasn’t by accident.’ 
A knock on the door startled both Veronica and Boomer, and the pair sat up quickly. “It’s open!” The deputy called, pulling up the sheets around her despite the black tank she wore. The door opened and Pastor Jerome came through, closing it behind him. He smiled gently, murmuring “Sorry if I woke you.”
The blonde shook her head- pulling her legs up to her to sit criss-cross on the bed. “You’re fine, I was already awake. Just thinking.” 
Nodding, Jerome replied “After the week you’ve had, I’m sure.” He stood there silently a moment before continuing, “Listen, Veronica, I have something I need to ask of you.” 
V pursed her lips before saying, “Okay. Shoot.”
“John has put out more air support the last few days, and I think we need some of our own. Nick Rye owns Rye & Sons Aviation, and I know he would be a good addition to our cause; I heard over the radio he could use some help against the cult. What do you think?” The pastor regarded her expectantly. 
Veronica ran a hand over her arm as though she was cold, and displeasure was clear on her face. She sighed before responding, “Honestly, I was hoping to take a day. Or even half a day. I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet.” It was all she could do to not groan in exasperation. Inwardly she cringed at how whiny she felt she was being- but wasn’t she owed some time after yesterday?
The man looked almost disappointed in her as he commented, “There isn’t really time to take a day off, Veronica.” Before she could get too annoyed, he went on. “You’ve seen what we’re up against. They’re taking us against our will. I know you’re tired and I know you want to look for your friend, but Fall’s End was just a piece of the whole community that needs our help. Once we’re strong enough- we’ll free every last one of the cult’s prisoners, then we can all rest. You have my word.” 
The familiar beginnings of anger ran hot under her skin as he brought up her lost friends, and Ronnie asked, “So I’m supposed to just forget my friends are out there and overextend myself?” Her brow furrowed as she looked at Jerome, annoyance creasing her features. It wasn’t as if she was the only member of this fledgling Resistance who could pull their weight.
He crossed his arms, answering “Of course not, but we have to focus on what’s reasonable right now-”
The deputy scoffed and cut him off, remarking “Now rescuing my friends isn’t ‘reasonable’? You know, I don’t think much would even be getting done if I wasn’t busting my ass for you guys.” 
The pastor frowned and looked irked at her observation. “Don’t forget who saved your life yesterday, deputy.” His words were measured and carefully contained. 
Veronica stood up from the bed, her hands on her hips. “Don’t forget who saved your life the day before yesterday, pastor.” Her tone was irate, and she tried to take a couple deep breaths to calm down. With everything that had happened in the last day, she was fried and at the end of her rope. Irritation came naturally with that perfect cocktail.
Jerome stared at her for a moment, his annoyance seemingly melting away as he suddenly said, “I hope you’ll think about what I said, Veronica. We couldn’t do this without you. Get some rest, if you truly need it.” Before she could respond, he opened the door and was gone. 
The deputy found it was hard to bristle and stay mad at someone who had started acting rather reasonably, and her vexation faded into a mild annoyance as she turned to look at Boomer. “What a good way to start the day!” She said to him sarcastically. 
The pup laid his head on his paws, letting out a short doggy sigh. Ronnie attempted a smile as she ruffled his floppy ears- but she felt she was falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. “I guess I know what we’re doing today then. At the very least, I’m getting a goddamn shower.” She asserted and walked over to the dresser to lay out an outfit. 
As she pulled open the drawer, V thanked her drunk self for having enough sense to change into pajamas and throw the clothes from yesterday’s battle into the corner. The woman quickly found jeans and rummaged through the loosely folded tee shirts. Lifting out a plain white crop top, Ronnie smirked at the text on it, ‘Trouble Maker’. “This feels appropriate.” She chuckled and tossed it next to the jeans. 
With her outfit set- Veronica made her way to the shower. While she got it to the correct temperature, she unwrapped her bandage on her arm. The deep wound looked somewhat better, a scab had closed over the pink tissue inside the gash and no new blood welled from it as she tenderly touched the area. 
Finally, she stepped into the steamy sauna. The warm water ran down her skin and she envisioned the last few days falling away with the droplets. “I can handle whatever life throws my way, I’m making the right decisions… everything is going to be okay.” She murmured into the stream, hoping it would prove true. 
Twenty minutes later, V felt she’d sufficiently scrubbed herself of last night’s ‘Cleansing’ and turned off the water. She found a towel and stepped out, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror; she winced at the dark circles under her eyes. Before exiting, Veronica leaned over the tub and grabbed her hair, twisting it to wring the water out. She knew it was going to be unbelievably frizzy by the time it dried hours later. Veronica toweled off as much as possible and pulled her clothes on, her wet hair hanging limp and soaking through her shirt. 
As she came out of the bathroom, she saw Boomer waiting for her on the bed; his tail wagging when he glimpsed her. “Hi buddy!” Ronnie said in a baby voice and pinched his cheeks. He got off the bed and followed her as she grabbed socks from the dresser and sat down next to her boots. Once V sat on the floor, Boomer swooped in and licked her face before she could raise an arm and fend him off. “Back, beast!” She laughed, pushing him away. 
Veronica pulled on her black combat boots as her dog circled expectantly. When she stood, he barked at her once before waiting by the door. “Okay okay here we go!” She placated him while grabbing her backpack and gun. The M60 hung heavy and deadly around her shoulders, and V thought as she hoisted it with a grunt, ‘I am never gonna have to do arm day again!’. 
The pair walked downstairs and found the bar wasn’t incredibly busy, just enough patrons to keep Mary and Casey busy. Ronnie was almost to the door when Mary May called out to her, “Hey V!”
Veronica cursed silently, she’d been hoping to avoid the barkeep because of her slip up last night. She put on a happy smile and turned to face her ally. “Hey May! What’s up?” 
The other woman filled a glass from the tap as she replied, “Just checking in… Jerome left in quite a hurry after talking to you.” As she set down the glass and picked up another- she met Ronnie’s eyes. 
The deputy looked away and nodded with a sigh. “Yeah. Everything’s fine, I just snapped at him. I’ll stop by with an apology later, don’t worry.” She relented easily. 
Mary May placed the second glass next to the first and nodded to her. “I know things are tough right now Veronica, but we care about you and this cause. We just want the best for both.” The bartender replied almost cryptically before gripping the two steins to take to her patrons. 
Watching her go, Ronnie felt a twinge of guilt. ‘Well now I really can’t fuck up saving this Nick guy.’ She thought before sighing and turning to leave. She only hoped she was up to the mission at hand.
V pulled out her map she’d acquired from Dutch, looking for Rye & Sons. She was relieved to see that Nick Rye was one of the names highlighted on the map, and that his home was just down the road from Fall’s End. “I’m in the mood for a nice walk, how ‘bout you?” Veronica looked down at Boomer whose tail wagged rapidly, slapping against her leg repeatedly. “Sounds like a yes if I’ve ever heard one.” Ronnie chuckled and bent down to pet him a moment before they departed. 
Standing a moment later, she nodded, “Let’s get shit done.” 
The pair walked through the forest, going to their destination in a straight shot while avoiding detection from the road. While taking in the sprawling plains and farmland that lay just outside the woodland- V thought about the task ahead. 
She knew she’d heard of Rye & Sons before, in fact she was almost sure her mother had taken her flight test there. Veronica envied her mother’s drive to do any and everything, the woman had decided on a whim that she wanted her pilot's license and purchased a seaplane. Ronnie’s mom had tried to teach her how to fly a few times when she was younger, but to no avail. The deputy remembered the basics but not much else. She’d have to remember to ask Nick if he’d ever trained her mother. 
Thinking of her mom, the woman sighed and hoped she wasn’t worrying. ‘At least I know Olive is safe!’ Veronica thought of her feline friend, trying to find the silver lining. She hoped without hope to see her mother, and her pet just once more.
 After trekking for no more than thirty minutes, Veronica spotted a hangar preceding a long dirt runway through the trees. As she approached, she noted how many Eden’s Gate helicopters she’d seen circling overhead on her walk; just as Jerome said. 
In front of the hangar- three peggies sat behind their individual covers. One of them shouted something, then opened fire on the building. The blonde sprinted from the treeline, moving to crouch behind a sign that read ‘ACTIVE AIRPORT, NO TRESPASSING’. 
Veronica lifted her gun that had hung loosely in front of her, and took out the cultist nearest to her before dashing closer. The deputy came to rest near a sign that pronounced this as the area for flight training.
The other two peggies shouted and ran closer to their fallen companion, but V took them both out swiftly. As she put a bullet into the second one, two Eden’s Gate trucks rumbled up the flight strip with eight more adversaries. 
Springing over the fence around the hangar, Veronica ran into the structure and almost bumped straight into who she assumed must be her charge. The man wore well-worn jeans and a sleeveless flannel over a Rye & Sons tee. His medium length brown hair was shaggy around his ears, but mainly covered by a worn baseball cap. Though sunglasses covered his eyes, V could tell she’d spooked him. 
Before the man could raise his AR-C to her, Ronnie raised her hands up and said “Hey hey, the name’s Veronica. I’m with save-your-ass inc., hold up with the bullets!” 
Nick paused before giving her a nod, “I’m Nick Rye, good to make your acquaintance! Let’s finish these bastards off!” He reloaded his weapon and charged from behind his cover. The peggies in front of him were faced with a quick spray of bullets, knocking down one and startling the others as they ran for cover. 
The deputy was quick to follow him, shooting down two more with her LMG. Boomer ran from behind her into the fray, latching onto one man’s arm and wrenching him to the ground before executing him with a swift bite to the neck. The cattle dog ran to the next nearest peggie, attempting to do the same; the man grabbed his scruff and threw him to the ground with a grunt. Boomer let out a high pitched yelp and was stunned for a moment. The cultist turned his gun on the pup, and was about to fire before a hail of bullets whizzed by, more than one penetrating his skull and spraying bits of his brain and gore upon the runway. Veronica stood a few feet behind him, and when he fell she ran to her companion and put a hand on his side. 
Boomer got up and steadied himself, barking at her and letting her know he was okay. “Don’t scare me like that!” She yelled at him, worry clear on her face before she turned back to the battle. 
Ronnie took cover with Nick, both of them demolishing their enemy. They took out two at a time until there were none, and the dust finally began to settle. The two of them peeked up over the sturdy wooden crates they were behind, making sure no cultists lingered. Nothing moved on the runway and they both stood, taking in one another. “You’re not too shabby with that rifle.” Veronica nodded to him with a smile. 
The man returned her victory grin, commending her as well, “Right back ‘atcha, big guns! You sure are some cavalry.” 
“Comes with the job I guess.” The deputy chuckled. 
Nick wandered back into the hangar, remarking “I appreciate the backup and all, but I’ve got a huge problem.” In the back of the hangar there was a small corner bar, the aviator made his way to it and quickly poured himself a glass of something strong. 
As he did, Veronica followed him; she raised her hand with two fingers and quirked an eyebrow at him. Nick nodded and rummaged in the askew cabinet for a second glass and poured her a drink next to his. “Well you’re in luck, because I am a problem fixer. What’s up?” Ronnie inquired as she lifted the glass to her lips. Her eyebrows raised at the strength of her drink and she savored it a moment, deciding it was some sort of bourbon. 
In front of her, Nick took several swigs as he muttered, “Fuckin’ cult… now we’re trapped. Trapped! I swear I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch John Seed!” He finished off his drink in one final chug and started to pour himself another as he continued, “Did you see them take off with my plane?” 
The woman shook her head, drinking a bit more.
“Well that was our ticket out of here, and I need it back! I’d go myself, but my wife’s due any second…” Nick looked at Ronnie, pleading “Without that plane, we’re fucked. My family needs your help.” 
Veronica finished off her own drink and nodded, replying “I can get your plane back, but the problem may be… getting it back. I don’t really know how to fly one.” At the last part, she looked away. It was somewhat embarrassing admitting to the owner of an aviation business that she didn’t know much of aviation. 
The pilot clapped her on the shoulder with a smile, saying “Oh don’t worry about that, I’ve been doin’ this my whole life. I can teach you on the fly… get it?” 
While Nick chuckled at his joke, worry crossed Veronica’s features as she considered the ramifications of not being able to learn ‘on the fly’. She also worried about Nick’s remark about leaving, since she hoped to recruit him for Jerome. At the end of the day, she knew it wasn’t her right to sway him one way or another; he had to do what he felt was right for his family. Especially if it was on the verge of expanding.
Acting as bartender, the pilot poured her another generous dose of bourbon and commented “If I know the cult, they’ve taken my Carmina to John’s Ranch. It’s got the only other landingstrip big enough to land the thing!” Setting the bottle on the bar, Nick met her eyes once more and sighed as though expecting her to decline, “I know it’s a lot to ask but… I’m desperate, partner.” 
At hearing the location of the plane a devious smirk replaced any worry on Ronnie’s face. Taking her whole drink in one shot, she conceded, “If I’m gonna be breaking into John’s ranch, I’m gonna need at least one more drink”  And pushed the glass to him. 
Nick broke out in a grin, pouring her one last drink before she set off. The deputy lifted her glass in a mock toast and took the drink as a shot once more before asking, “What’s the fastest way there?” While pulling out her map. 
The man traced a finger down the blue line of the Henbane river, answering “Some of those peggies we just took care of came from here. If you go down to the dock behind the hangar, I’m sure you can commandeer a jet ski no problem, courtesy of Eden’s Gate.” 
V nodded and adjusted her M60 against her chest, saying “Sounds like a plan! I’ll get your plane back. Let’s just hope it’s in one piece.” She murmured the last part, still doubting her piloting skills. 
As the deputy was exiting the hangar, Nick called out “I really appreciate this, Veronica! I’ll talk to you soon!” 
Turning around, Ronnie gave him a smile and a small nod, hoping to hold up her end of the bargain. 
Outside, the morning sun was still shining brightly. Not a single white cloud marred the baby blue of the horizon. Veronica wandered down a small dirt path, kicking up dust with her black boots. Birds sang overhead in the trees, and the quiet rush of the river could be heard in moments. 
Coming out of the treeline- Ronnie was met with a plain dock with a small shack at the end of it. In the water beside the dock floated two off-white jet skis. “How much did these guys pay in paint jobs alone?” Chuckled the blonde as she clambered aboard the nearest one. 
She revved the engine once before treading water- the front of the craft coming out of the river with the speed. Waves flew high behind her as she followed the curve of the river, and the deputy smiled at seeing Boomer running along after her on the shore. 
Only a few minutes later, the pair had reached the boathouse behind the ranch. It was a long red building that was desperately in need of a paint job. The boathouse was open, and no one patrolled the long dock coming off the structure. V pulled up alongside the dock and turned off the engine, stepping onto the dock and miraculously not falling into the water as she exited the jet ski.
Her footsteps sounded hollow as she crossed the dock to the dirt path. With a sharp inhale, Veronica started up the slope with Boomer at her tail. 
At the head of the trail minutes later- Ronnie stumbled into what appeared to be John’s backyard. The green grass was manicured, but looked as though it could use more water. Two short sets of steps let up a stone wall to a lifted seating area with two lounge chairs. Passing them, Veronica saw the ranch ahead. 
A flagstone path led up to the side of the house, surrounded on all sides by patches of delicate yellow flowers. The ranch itself was bright cherry wood with a natural finish. The structure was two stories, and a hangar and guard tower were attached to the property. V ducked into one of the flower beds as a guard strolled past the side entrance. 
The man was whistling to himself and held his gun loosely. It seemed they didn’t get  much trouble up here. As the woman peeked above the blossoms, she pulled out her binoculars and took count of how many guards there were. “At least two snipers… six guards that I can see... probably more. This place is huge.” Ronnie grumbled as she put the binoculars in her backpack once more. 
The guard from before made his round in front of her once more, and this time Veronica followed behind him. Surging forward, the deputy placed a hand on the top of his head and another on the side of his face and wrenched his neck upwards with a sickening crack. He instantly became limp in her arms, head lolling from his broken neck. Veronica dragged him back into the sea of flowers she’d emerged from. 
V dispatched three more guards this way as they patrolled around the campus of the ranch. On the third, she needed to find a different flower bed. With a huff; she dragged him out of the way and squated there for a moment- brushing away the beads of sweat dripping down her forehead. 
As she took a rest among the petals- the music that she’d been tuning out reached her ears. “... Come meet the man who reaps the land of which we walk upon! The time has come for judgement, but we ain’t done nothin’ wrong! Join us all we all can sing along… oh John! Bold and brave!” A cheery choir sounded their praises of the youngest Seed brother. 
Massaging her temples, Ronnie couldn’t help a dry laugh, “Wow, someone needs an ego check.” 
She attempted to block out the song once more, and got back to work. Her plan was to take out the rest of the guards on the outside of the ranch and then tackle the inside. No more peggies had wandered to the side of the structure in some time, and she knew it was time to expand her hunting grounds. 
Coming around the front of the ranch while still hunkered in the garden, Veronica saw a man directly in front of the porch with a long iron pole embedded in his chest. His blood had dried crimson around the base and it looked almost melded to his body. Beyond him, a cluster of guards gossiped in hushed tones. V struggled to hear them, catching only passing phrases. “The Father isn’t happy with…  Something to do with that girl… Say’s he’s compromised…” Was all she could hear. 
As she craned her neck listening, another louder voice rose above them all. “Get back to work! John expects you to guard, not cluck like hens.” He said disdainfully. The new voice came from a rather imposing cultist with the Eden’s Gate symbol tattooed on his forehead. 
Taking her eyes off the group she saw the first of the snipers on the balcony of the hangar. The second perched at the top of the guard tower- both of them scanning the grounds. As the group of three disbanded, V moved away and went around the side of the ranch that she’d already cleared. 
She walked up a short staircase embedded into the natural rock and past a simple fire pit next to a utility shed behind the house. Coming to the end of the fence surrounding the home, the airfield lay in front of her. Veronica stared down the vast runway, taking in the sight of the mountains in the distance. It was a scene that never failed to amaze her. 
Dead grass crunched underfoot as Veronica strode to the long ladder on the side of the hangar. “All this money and you can’t afford a gardener?” She mocked John pettily with a childish expression. 
Finally, her boots met the rungs of the blue ladder and she pulled herself up to the shortest roof. Comprising of multiple levels, Ronnie had to pull herself up the side of the main roof of the hangar and then scramble up the railing of the guard tower. She did this as quietly as possible, avoiding making the many unladylike noises she was tempted to as she hurtled the rooftops. 
Her hands grasped the hot metal of the railing, and she noticed the ironwork. Every other section had a scale wrought into the metal. She couldn’t help but be curious as to why. 
Hauling herself over the rails at the back of the tower, Veronica leaned against the building a moment as she caught her breath. In a moment, she was ready and pulled her black hunting knife from its sheath. The second sniper stood ahead, watching the road beyond the ranch. V lunged forward and executed him quickly, plunging her blade hilt deep through his soft tissue as he spasmed to the ground. 
Veronica pulled his body around the structure out of sight, and looked down at the guards. On the level below her lay the last sniper, and below that the final peggies patrolled. The intimidating man with the Eden’s Gate tattoo seemed to have gone inside. 
Having taken out the highest lookout, Ronnie was free to pursue the second sniper. She dropped down to the roof, sneaking over to just above where the sniper was and staying as low as possible. She lurked above the man, waiting for the perfect moment. When all the other guards were turned away she leapt on the sniper, grabbing his long greasy locks and slamming his head into the concrete balcony hard and fast. The man barely made a sound before going limp, allowing her to pull him into the loft of the hangar and stash the corpse in a dark corner. 
As Veronica rounded the corner to the stairs, she caught sight of Nick’s plane. The yellow seaplane looked a little worn, but had much character. The deputy smiled as she thought of the pilot teaching her mother to fly in this chartreuse beast. 
Caught up with the image in her mind, V didn’t notice one of the remaining peggies wandering into the hangar. The man spotted her and startled with a shout. “Hey! The sinner is here!” He yelled to his crew outside, causing Ronnie to scramble. 
She grasped her LMG and shot off quickly, missing the man at first. He shot off a few rounds in response- narrowing missing her. The blonde ducked behind the railing of the loft, looking over it and taking aim; she riddled her opponent with bullets as his companions arrived. They all took up arms and ammo flew through the air wildly. It was only luck that Veronica was not struck. 
After letting loose a few sprays and only killing one of her enemies, V found herself needing to reload; the rapid fire from across the room didn’t afford her the time. Swiftly, she pulled her .44 Magnum from its holster, hammering off a few shots and catching the second to last peggie in the chest. He staggered backwards and fell to the ground with a thud as his ally came to avenge him. The final lackey sprung out and took aim. Before he could let off a shot Veronica put a single round through his skull and that was that. 
Reluctantly creeping down the stairs- she brushed past the bleeding corpses and out of the hangar. There was one last guard on the premises, and she intended to take the ranch for the Resistance. The woman wandered to the front of the house, stepping around the body of the man in front.
The wide double doors stood open, and Veronica peered inside. The room was bathed in a warm glow from two candled chandeliers and dim overhead fixtures. Two of the shuttered skylights were open, letting the sunlight leak in to lazily cast its glow in two fixed squares. Shadows cast in every corner made her nervous as she crept along, looking for the final cultist. As V cleared the front doors and stepped up the ledge into the living room, she heard a creak. Just as she’d heard it, someone came crashing into her and she was knocked to the ground. The back of her head sprung off the hardwood with a thump and she collapsed on her back. 
Standing tall and formidable above the deputy was the man from before, he looked down at her with an evil smile and said, “I’ve heard a lot about you, girly.” 
Ronnie was too stunned to reply, and her vision swam for a moment as her head throbbed. 
The peggie bent down and grabbed a fistful of her shirt, lifting her up as he bent down to meet her. Veronica was half lying down as the man hovered over her, his rancid breath reaching her as he spoke, “You know, you don’t look like much. Don’t know why everyone’s so interested in you. Maybe I should have a taste and find out?” As his last words, the man licked his lips and his gaze travelled down her body. 
Skin crawling, Veronica finally gathered some strength to struggle but was held fast in his grasp. She  pushed at him and found her opponent to be an unmoving mass. 
With a laugh, the cultist stood up a bit straighter, backhanding the blonde and releasing his grip at the same time. “Seems like you don’t like that idea!” He mocked, standing up and stepping away from her. 
Ronnie spun back to the floor, falling on her side with blood trailing from her mouth as stars swarmed her vision. She took deep breaths and tried to regain her senses as she heard the man say “I s’pose I’ll let them know you’re here then. You’re all John’s been talkin’ about.” Her sight came back slowly and she saw him reaching for his phone. He stood next to her feet, his left side facing her. Veronica took one last deep breath and mustered all her strength, kicking out high and at an angle with all she had. 
She struck home, dislocating his knee at the joint with a meaty pop. The peggie screamed high and loud, like music to Ronnie’s ears. He fell to the ground and clutched his leg, gasping from the pain as he looked at her with pure rage. “You bitch!” He howled, his voice still thin with agony. 
Starting to get her footing once more, V reached for her Magnum with a grunt of exertion from her head still spinning. Not quite off the floor- she aimed it at him and sneered, “Life’s a bitch, I just work here!” She squeezed the trigger as he tried lunging for her, and his face took the brunt of the round. 
The man fell to the floor, now unrecognizable. Veronica stared at his body- her breaths going from long and ragged to measured and even. As she took in his lifeless form, she felt no remorse. The adrenaline pumped its way through her system, leaving her an aching shell. Her jaw was sore where he’d beat her, and her head pounded from the collision with the hardwood flooring.
With a groan, Veronica holstered her weapon and looked around the room, finally having time to take it in. To her right was a long glass case with some Eden’s Gate memorabilia, as well as fine china and copies of the Word of Joseph. In front of her stood an extraordinary stonework fireplace that rose to the ceiling; it was preceded by a tasteful bear’s skin over a muted rug. A leather couch with red throw pillows sat on the rug before a cherry wood coffee table, and this is where the woman wandered to. 
Ronnie plopped down on the sofa, sinking into the soft cushions. On the cushion next to her, a large leather book sat open. Trying to distract herself from the pain, she flipped it over- holding a finger in place of where the reader had been. The cover read “Fahrenheit 451”, causing the woman to quirk an eyebrow in surprise. She didn’t expect this to be John’s light reading. Veronica recalled reading the dystopian novel in high school, she’d always thought of herself as someone who would fight the good cause. 
Setting down the novel, another article caught her eye. V reached for a note written on plain paper on the other side of the couch. She marvelled at the handwriting which she knew had to be John’s; perfect script comprised of neat loops and impressive cursive decorated the page. 
“Dearest Brother Joseph, 
As promised, the town of Fall’s End is now occupied. I went after the three biggest pillars of this community in Mary May, Pastor Jerome, and Nick Rye. And After marking them with their sins, a seed of doubt was planted among the residents. 
I forced every one of them to question what they really believed in. Question what side they should be fighting on.
There was bloodshed, but if not for those I converted, it would have been much worse. 
The ones we saved have been brought into your flock.
The ones who fought are dead. And then sinners who fled- I’ll catch them.
That’s another promise.
Your brother, 
John”
Veronica set the letter where it’d been, unsure how she felt. Though she wasn’t surprised at her disgust for his forceful converting, she was almost startled at the feelings of sadness for John. It was clear how desperately he wanted his brother’s approval; and if the display at the lake was any connotation, he certainly didn’t have it. Especially after losing Fall’s End. The blonde scoffed at the thought, ‘Why the hell am I feeling bad for that nutjob? He made his bed, now he has to lay in it.’ She scolded herself silently. 
Before she could go further down that train of thought, she caught sight of something she desperately needed on the coffee table. “No way.” V chuckled, leaning forward and ignoring the ache in her body. 
At the end of the coffee table sat a sizable plastic bag filled more than halfway with what she was willing to bet was kush straight from Oregon. Delighted laugher bubbled out of Ronnie as she cracked open the bag and sniffed the fresh, green scent. Removing one bud from the ziplock, she twisted it in half and admired all the little crystals hanging on the leaves like dewdrops. Orange hairs grew and curled like ivy over the nug and Veronica couldn’t be happier. “Literally everything was worth it!” She exclaimed, dropping the nug back into the bag and standing suddenly despite the pain. 
“Where there’s weed, there’s papers.” V asserted, setting down the bag and peeking in the end table next to the couch. No luck there, she checked the one on the other side with baited breath. Upon opening the drawer she saw an orange packet of waxy papers and snatched them up. 
Tossing the papers on the table, Veronica resolved to look for a rolling tray. “Surely Nick won’t mind me taking a smoke break.” She murmured as she walked around the fireplace into the dining room. At the end of the table was a silver tray with several instruments on it. Ronnie grimaced and moved the hooks, pliers, and scissors to the table while saying, “I don’t wanna know..” 
Tray in hand- the deputy made her way to the living room. Halfway there, she was stopped by a sharp ringing cutting through the air. The phone on the dining room table sounded off, ringing a few times. She set the tray down and went to stand by the simple landline. Though there was no caller ID, V could only assume this wasn’t for her. It rang only twice more before cutting off with a beep, and the caller’s voice could be heard leaving a message. 
Joseph spoke from the beige phone, his voice eerily calm, “After all the atonements, all the confessions. And all that you have done for me and Eden’s Gate, it’s not enough. Is it John?” His accusation came loud and clear. In only a moment he continued, “Cast away your past. You need to open up your heart, you need to see that there is more love all around you. All the pain and suffering you spread will not help us in the long run.” The man pleaded. 
Veronica thought about this, wondering what in John’s past he must do away with. Who are we without our pasts? Though she agreed with Joseph that the pain and suffering was not necessary, she found it rather paradoxical that he could be the one to ask this of his sibling. 
The Father’s voice cut through her thoughts, speaking once more. “These actions will only feed the sin inside you. It will grow stronger, it will convince you to do wicked things. Things I cannot forgive you for. Those you want to scar with your intentions, they will heal. They will become carriers of your sin. They will spread that sin to others… is that what you want, brother?” Joseph almost sounded angry, as though he already knew the answer. Ronnie felt like she was missing an important piece of the puzzle.
After another intent pause, he murmured callously, “I’ve seen your death in a vision. You’re destined to be slayed by one who shares your sin, if you don’t succumb to your own sins first. It’s only a matter of when. I’ve seen you die young. I’ve seen you die old. The difference between those two outcomes is how much love you let into your heart, and whose love.” Taking a shaky sigh, he said his goodbyes, “I hope for your sake that you heed this warning. I love you, brother. I love you.” 
When the phone clicked and the line went silent, Veronica released a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. Practically none of that made sense to her, but the weight of his words seemed to ring true. All she knew is that Joseph couldn’t be trusted, not even by his own brother. She could only assume John’s position in the cult was clearly in jeopardy if Joseph could tell his brother he foresaw his death in such a cold manner. 
Finally making her way back to the couch, Veronica broke down some buds by hand and quickly rolled a joint. The woman was relieved to find a lighter in the bottom of her backpack, and made use of it right away. 
Inhaling the sweet smoke took away all Ronnie’s worries, if only for a moment. She relaxed more with each exhale and revelled in such a lucky find. “Looks like John only smokes the good shit.” She said to herself as she neared the end of her toke, the aches and pains she’d felt no longer bothering her to such a degree. 
The blonde stubbed the joint out on the rolling tray and shoved the ziplock bag into her backpack with a relaxed grin. As she packed up and stepped out of the house, the now afternoon light blinded her for a moment. Through the blinding light she saw a form advancing on her, and quickly distinguished Boomer who now ran to meet her. The pup jumped up on her, licking her hands as she greeted him with a high-pitched “Hi baby boy!” and ruffled the fur on his head. When Boomer was done getting pet, V bent down and said, “Hey, I don’t think there’s room for you in the plane. You stay here, and I’ll be back, okay?” Hoping she conveyed her point. The cattle dog cocked his head to the side before strutting into the ranch, already walking like he owned the place. 
With that settled, Veronica followed the flagstone path down to the hangar, stepping into the air conditioned hush of the building. The bright yellow plane stood there the same as before, and thankfully she didn’t feel so nervous about flying it. Whether this was misplaced confidence, she couldn’t tell. Ronnie hit a glowing button on the wall, opening the garage and spilling in daylight. 
Climbing into the cockpit, the deputy pulled out her radio and called to Nick, “Hey wingman, I’m ready. I think I can get her started up okay…” As she spoke she  flipped a few switches then pulled a handle in the middle and shifted gears on the left. The engine sputtered to life and V eased her foot onto the accelerator. “Let’s see if I remember my Microsoft flight simulator…” She chuckled to herself and the plane rolled out of the garage.
Her heart started beating faster as she turned down the runway and started picking up speed. Veronica could feel the bird lifting off the dirt and into the air as she tilted upwards. Suddenly, she was quite grateful at all the times her mother had forced her to practice in her own plane. “Oorah, deputy! Now you need some distance, just go north for a bit. How ya doin’?” Nick called over the open line. 
“Going great, not on the ground!” Ronnie called and tried to keep her voice from trembling. All her nerves returned as she thought about how she did not want to go down in a fiery wreck. 
Veronica kept her breath even as she gained some elevation, flying over trees and plains alike. “You’re doin’ great! Now, I need to make sure they didn’t mess with it. Let’s run some tests! Hang a sharp left at the crop circle and fly low along the river!” Nick called out. 
Obeying him and taking a glance out the windows to see where the crop circle was, V answered, “I tell you I don’t know how to fly and you tell me to fly into the water?” She was only half joking.
Brushing her concerns aside, he said “You’ll be fine! It sounds like you’re a natural! Go ahead and dip that left wing. That’s the one that worries me, it’s always acting up a bit.” 
As the plane dipped to the left, turning smoothly, Ronnie breathed a sigh of relief when she evened out. 
“Yep, you’d have gone into a full on barrel roll if something was wrong. I guess the cult’s got some competent pilots.” Nick commented begrudgingly. It sounded as though he were eating chips on the other end of the line. 
Heart almost stopping, the blonde said “Nick, can you please not say things like that.” 
He chuckled, “My bad! Stay low at the river.” 
V lowered the level and dipped the nose of the plane slowly, the river coming closer with every second. She started to pull up and even out, gliding smoothly a few feet above the current. She followed the curve of the river and found it easier by the second.
“And goddamn! Breaking into John’s ranch of all places and making it out in one piece! Way to show those fuckers!” Nick suddenly cheered over the line, making Ronnie smile. 
“It’s my pleasure, trust me!” She assured him. 
Not done with his tangent, he continued “That’s all they do around here anyways! Show  up at your door and take everything you own, just like they did to me! Good thing we didn’t lose that plane, we’d have been fucked.” He muttered, going from bitter to thankful in no time flat. 
Concentrating on staying level with the water, V said absentmindedly “Glad I could help.” She felt a certain sense of pride as she maneuvered the aircraft, her luck serving her well on this venture. 
“You should be coming to a big fork in the river, hang right!” Were the next instructions called out. 
The wing of the plane dipped right as Ronnie listened, following the river back. The trees flew past as she flew along the waves, elk could be seen running through the marshes to her left. 
Nick came across the line again, sounding hesitant, “You know, I don’t know if you have any little monsters at home but... the thought of leaving mine fatherless terrifies me! And mine ain’t even born yet!” He confided in her.
“I don’t have any yet, but I understand. You want to be there, and can’t risk not being there.” The deputy called back, unsure where he was going with this.
After a moment he replied, “ If running means saving my family at the cost of losing my home, so be it! ...That’s the right move ain’t it?” 
Mulling it over, V said “At the end of the day, you gotta do whatever is gonna get you to sleep at night, Rye!” 
He was silent for almost a minute before saying, “Makes my goddamn blood boil that I gotta uproot from the place that my family worked so hard to put together! They worked every inch of this land with blood and sweat, and now I gotta lose it all to some man-bunned little twerp and his posse of inbreds?” 
Veronica stifled a laugh at that comment as he continued, “No, fuck it, you’re right deputy! You don’t mess with the Ryes without getting a scar! You should be flying over a field right now, if you see any peggies or Bliss tankers blow them sky high!” 
As she looked down at the field she spotted several of both and figured it must be a Bliss depot. Moving her hand to pull the trigger mechanism next to the middle handle, the machine gun whirred as it powered up and shot a hail of bullets at the red silo below, causing it to go up in a fiery blaze. The deputy circled the field, taking out two more silos, three Bliss tankers, and a dozen peggies with ease. 
“That’s the stuff!” He hollered excitedly. When no more were in sight, he called, “If you take a smooth left that should put you on course for my airfield. See you soon, Veronica!” 
After a relatively rough landing, Veronica was safely parked in front of the hangar she’d been at a couple hours ago. Nick came out of the hangar with a grin, saying “You son of a bitch… you did it, thank you!” He immediately went to the side of the craft, inspecting it. “Kim! The plane’s back!” He called to his wife.
“Yeah, I heard!” Came her reply. She didn’t sound too interested. 
Nick went to the other side and held the bottom, pushing against it and getting the wheels turning. “Help me turn it will ya?” He asked, gesturing to the side closest to her. 
V obliged, gripping the steel and maneuvering with him. As they steered the vehicle, Nick said “Ya know, for the first time in a long time, I finally feel like things are going my way! Those damn peggies… Kim c’mon!” He called her again. 
“I hope to god they didn’t fuck with her…” He commented, sounding frazzled as he stopped turning and walked around it once more. “You know, this plane has been in my family for three generations. Can you believe that? My grandpa first got it when he got back from World War II, it was his pride and joy.”
As Veronica listened, she heard Kim behind them yell, “Nick!” 
The pilot was digging in the cockpit as he rambled on, “I made some modifications over the years but-” 
“Nick!!” His wife called once more, sounding urgent. Exasperated, Nick yelled back “Kim, will you just hurry up?”
Annoyed, Kim shouted “Nick the peggies are on their way!” 
Pulling his head out of the plane, the man looked almost surprised. “What? Damn, those fuckers won’t give up!” 
With a humorless laugh, Ronnie said, “I guess not!” 
A sleek white plane flew from overhead and dropped a bomb further away from them as gunfire erupted from Nick’s house. 
“Fuck!” Veronica exclaimed and held her gun at the ready, scanning the horizon for more of them. 
Nick climbed into the plane and said to her, “Look, I’m better in the air but you’re a beast on the ground! I’ll hit ‘em high and you hit ‘em low, what do you say partner?” 
Ronnie nodded, holding out her fist for a fistbump. “Let’s do this!” 
Returning the fistbump, Nick said “Oorah! Kim’s in the house, I’m trusting you to keep her safe!” and started up the plane. “Kim, you stay inside till I get back!” He called over his shoulder and took off. 
More gunfire rang through the airfield and V ran towards the house where several white trucks had pulled up. Several peggies were already running towards the home as she made her way there, and she raised her gun to shoot one. He took a few bullets and stumbled, falling to the ground. She jumped over the railing of the porch, landing securely on the deck and immediately taking up arms once more. 
Veronica quickly executed two more cultists who ran towards the house, watching for the reinforcements that would surely be coming. One of them jumped the opposite railing and ran towards her. V used the butt of her gun to slam into his face and send him falling to the ground before taking care of him. 
Nick flew overhead expertly, firing the machine gun rapidly and sending a few peggies flying as he strafed them. The shining yellow of the aircraft looked almost cheerful as it evened the playing field. “Veronica, they’re attacking my airfield, I need you on the ground over here!” Nick called over the radio.
“I sure am getting my steps in!” She called back jokingly as she did a quick glance to make sure no more peggies threatened the house. Ronnie ran down the porch steps and back up the road to the hangar, ducking in the side door. Through the open garage, at least four cultists hid behind cover. 
Reloading quickly, the deputy squatted behind a large crate and looked over it, sending ammo flying as she saw a man switching cover. She shot him down, and then his friend whose head was lifted too high. The final two converged on her, but she took care of them in no time.
Two more off-white trucks pulled up the strip, both with a mounted gun. “Don’t get too close, I’m gonna drop a bomb on these guys!” Nick shouted to her, the radio crackling. The seaplane flew overhead, releasing deadly cargo upon the vehicles as they both fired rapidly towards the hangar. The bomb whistled through the air and fell with a thundering crack, both trucks lost in a molten blaze. 
When no more cultists converged on them, Nick radioed once more, “Alright! I think we’re in the clear then! I’m comin’ down… do you think maybe  you could help us with our luggage?” 
“Only if you’re sure you’re leaving!” V begrudged, knowing the aviator didn’t truly want to leave. 
The plane rolled down the airstrip, coming to a stop in front of the hangar once more. Nick hopped out and gave the woman a winning smile. “We make a pretty good team!” He applauded. 
Ronnie returned his grin, walking by his side back to the house. “That’s for damn sure, peggies beware.” She chuckled, the heat of battle slowly ebbing away from her. 
Minutes later- Nick was grabbing suitcases and setting them outside as Veronica lingered in the doorway. “Let’s go!” He said to his wife while setting down another small bag. 
“No!” Kim exclaimed, her back against the wall of the living room as she watched him work. 
Walking back into the house- Nick reached for another round of luggage while sighing, “Kim, you don’t understand…” 
Kim threw her hands up, exasperated, “Don’t understand what? That they’re stealing our land, kidnapping our friends, and doing god knows what else?” She followed her husband as he handed Veronica a large yellow suitcase, and immediately took it from the deputy’s hands. 
The blonde regarded her with some worry, as the black-haired beauty looked as though she was about to pop out of the plain white v neck she wore. Her swollen belly indicted that baby Rye would be along very shortly. 
Nick only sighed as Kim set the briefcase down and she went to him. “Nick, your grandfather built this place. You really wanna turn your back on that?” Once again, he didn’t reply and went to grab another bag. The woman stepped in front of him, her hands held up to stop him. She looked pleadingly into his eyes, “And what about all the times you talked about handing off the business to our daughter?”  She asked. 
Looking away, he murmured “Well I’ve talked about handing the business off to our son..” 
“You’ve seen the ultrasound, you know it’s a girl.” Kim sounded like she was reiterating something she’d said many times.
With a shrug Nick nervously said, “That’s a fuzzy black and white TV screen, I mean those things aren’t reliable!” Looking for some support, he nodded to Veronica, who wished she was anywhere else as the couple bickered. 
“Nick.” The one word was cautionary, and Kim stared at the man as he shifted uncomfortably. A moment later, he put a hand on her arm and she chuckled quietly.
He sighed, saying “I love you.” and pulling her closer. 
A beaming smile plain on her features, Kim said, “Me too.” 
The couple held one another for a moment with an air of content, before Nick turned towards Veronica. “Well V, looks like the Rye family is digging in.” As he spoke he walked out the open front door to retrieve the luggage he’d already set outside. “And hey, if you ever need any air support, just give me a holler. You and me, we’ll be like Butch and Sundance.” He asserted while setting the luggage back in the house.
A grateful smile was returned as V replied, “I think that’s a little before my time, but I catch your drift.”
There was a pause and Kim said, “Nick.. they both died at the end.” Which he rebuked. Shaking her head, the woman turned to Ronnie with a spark of worry in her eyes as she asked, “Please take care of him.”
Veronica smiled and nodded, saying “I’ll keep him outta trouble.”
Setting down the last bag, Nick chimed in- “Or into it!” 
Striding back towards the door, V laughed, “That remains to be seen! Hey, could I trouble you for a ride back to the Seed Ranch? I think I’m gonna crash there tonight, I told Boomer I’d be back.” 
Nick glanced at Kim for approval, and she nodded with a smile. “I think I can do that deputy!” He gave her a thumbs up before kissing Kim on the forehead and walking to the door. 
The pair made their way back to the airfield and into the plane, Veronica squeezing into the back. “Man, these things are not made for comfort.” She complained and adjusted a few times, unable to relax into the stiff seat. 
Shuddering to life, the plan rolled down the strip and quickly gained speed. Nick expertly guided the craft into the air and they were away. Trees and fields blurred beneath them as they picked up speed. 
“Kim seems nice!” Veronica shouted to him over the sound of the engine. 
Turning back an increment, Nick nodded “Yeah she’s a sweetheart, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.” It brought a smile to V’s face to see the love these two shared, and she hoped to one day find something like it. Though, she never thought too deeply on it; part of her believed it wasn’t a possibility. 
The long stretch of grass that led to the ranch was soon in sight, and Nick lined the plane up with the cones along the stretch. He landed the plane smoothly, and Ronnie could barely feel them come to a stop. “You’re a real pro! My landing was not nearly as easy.” The woman chuckled recalling the extremely bumpy touchdown she’d made today. 
Nick jumped out of the plane, allowing V some room to struggle out of the back. “I’d better be decent, I’ve been doin’ it long enough!” He held out his hand to her and they shook hands firmly. “Thank you, Veronica. For everything.” The pilot gave her a small, sincere smile before climbing back into the craft. 
“No problem, I’ll be seeing you soon! I’m gonna need those aerial skills of yours!” The blonde waved him off as the plane turned around and ascended once more. 
Once Nick was out of sight Ronnie crossed the runway and passed the hangar, making her way to the ranch. In front, two Resistance members stood together with their guns hanging around them. They chatted casually, but hushed and straightened up as the deputy approached. “You boys got here quick!” She called to them, trying to set a casual tone. 
The men nodded to her and one responded, “Yes ma’am, Jerome got word from Nick and set us on down. You’re doing a great job, deputy.” As he spoke, his friend nodded in agreeance. 
At their straight stance and decorum, V felt the urge to tell them ‘At ease’, but resisted. “Well, I’m gonna crash here tonight. I’ll be upstairs, you guys can just hang.” She insisted. 
They nodded bashfully and stepped around her, walking down to the front of the property as Veronica stepped inside. 
For the second time that day, the blonde made her way through the ranch. She smiled at seeing Boomer curled up on the black couch, sleeping soundly. Deciding against petting and waking him, she wandered upstairs. 
‘Now where’s the bedroom…’ Veronica wondered and stepped through a door on the stair landing. The door led to a balcony which granted access to two more rooms. The first appeared to be a study as she peered through the windows, and she moved onto the second room. 
Stepping through the double doors, V closed and then leaned against them with a deep sigh, closing her eyes and feeling all the tension of the day leave her. “Finally alone…” She murmured, reveling in the silence. 
“Not quite.” A voice startled her and she jumped, turning to the other end of the room and the source of the voice. The large bedroom was home to a stately king-sized bed sitting in the corner, and sitting on the end of the bed was John Seed. 
Ronnie’s blood ran cold and her breath quicked at the sight of the last person she wanted to see. “Wh- what are you-?”
Before she could finish her question, he cut her off and met her eyes, deep emotion filling them, “Did you really think I couldn’t get back into my own ranch? That I would just take this lying down?”  As he spoke he stood from the bed and stepped closer to her. 
Though she wanted to run back out the door, Veronica couldn’t move and her mouth had run as dry as the Sonoran desert. Thoughts raced through her head, and she didn’t know what to do. 
When she said nothing, John came closer. “Well?” He probed, a thin line of anger in that one word. 
She moved away from the door, not taking her eyes off him. “I don’t know.” She replied lamely. 
The brunet stared at her a moment, the anger in his eyes replaced by another emotion V couldn’t identify. It felt like hours before he asked what he truly came here to learn, “Why didn’t you kill me, deputy?” 
Veronica looked at him, her brow furrowed and unease clear in her eyes as she recalled their struggle. Pursing her lips, she could think of no answer to satisfy him. She barely knew for herself why she couldn’t go through with it. 
When she said nothing, he continued. “I’ve taken your friends captive, I’ve stolen from those you swear to help, I’m the enemy. Why am I still standing here now?” 
The blonde could no longer meet his eyes and she looked away with a sigh, preferring to stay mute. 
Without warning, the Baptist charged forward and grasped her shoulders, shaking her once and holding her in place. Surprise was clear on her features as he shouted angrily, “I asked you why, dammit!” 
Answering before thinking- Veronica shouted back “I felt your fucking heart!” John looked almost stunned, all the rage draining from his face. “I felt your heart beating in your chest and I looked into your eyes and I couldn’t fucking do it. Is that what you wanted to hear you fucking creep? Are you happy now?” Her wrath boiled under her skin as she relived the moment of weakness.
Silence fell as the pair regarded one another, tension hanging heavily in the air. John’s large tattooed hands still held Ronnie’s shoulders, keeping her in place. She glared up at him with anger clear in her eyes, unsure what to do. 
Closing the gap in only a second, John pulled her close and their lips met as he stole a kiss. It lasted only a second, and Veronica pulled away from him abruptly. The rage in her eyes was diminishing and uncertainty flickered there. John released her shoulders and simply looked at her, his expression unreadable. 
Fully embracing her innermost desires, V threw her arms around the man’s neck and their lips clashed feverishly. John’s arms wrapped around her and the pair were a frenzy of lips and tongues. 
The pair walked backwards step by step, and John’s hands wandered to the hem of her shirt. He lifted it slowly and Veronica broke their embrace to raise her arms so he could strip her. They met again with the same passion and the deputy frantically started undoing the buttons on his shift before pulling it off and discarding it carelessly. 
As they kissed her hands ran over his now bare chest, wanting to feel every inch of him. John bit her lip, causing her to gasp. Veronica put her arms around his neck once more and pulled herself up, wrapping her legs around his waist. His hands assisted, lifting and gripping her roughly. 
Several moments later the pair had made their way to the bed, falling into the silken sheets. Their quiet moans melded as they embraced, and V put a hand on his chest before sitting up, her legs straddling him. Halfway breathless, she asked “Is this a good idea..?” And worry crept into her gaze. 
“Not at all.” John replied before capturing her lips once more. He wrapped an arm around her, holding her close as he rolled them over. Now on top of Veronica, he reached down and pulled off his belt as she fiddled with the button on her jeans.
As they threw all caution to the wind, their fates were sealed.
25 notes · View notes
suoirallesalta · a year ago
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A Masterlist of all @suoirallesalta edits!
Every edit is tagged under #suoiredits. edits are sorted acc to their books! enjoy
click here for my art masterlist!
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Making Sabina in the Character without using Character’s assets style (edit challenge
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Kepler, in only the harness. 
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f!Adam
Jen in her dress including the lingerie
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Simon Montjoy in Ava’s dress
younger Mitzi Montjoy
AVSP MC as on the cover
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💫 Nia Ellarious
the perfect pair? (Nia x MC in an AME crossover)
Goddess of the Sea (Nia x Sunkissed edit)
Nia and Imtura with... moustaches
Nia with TE Alma’s hair and MTFL Ava’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
Nia as Neisha (new avatar)
Starry Nia (#BladesAW)
Empress of The Shadow (#BladesAW)
Nia as BloodBound women: Kamilah (#BladesAW)
Nia as BloodBound women: Rheya (#BladesAW) 
the pretty young girl next door (#BladesAW)
Quartermaster Nia Ellarious (#BladesAW)
Nia Ellarious as TE MC (#BladesAW)
Nia Ellarious as Shreya (#BladesAW) 
Nia Ellarious in her dress including her lingerie
nia ellarious hot goth girlfriend
The Priestess (GIF edit) (Nia in RC outfit)
Tyril Starfury
cold and broody™ vampire elf (#BladesAW)
cold and broody™ bodyguard (#BladesAW)
cold and broody™ elementalist (#BladesAW)
cold and broody™ orc (#BladesAW)
cold and broody™ designer; feat. f!Tyril (#BladesAW)
f!Tyril (#BladesAW)
Tyril with f!Blaine’s hair (#BladesAW)
rogue-ish Tyril Starfury (with a beard)
The Mage (GIF edit) (in RC outfit)
Scream(o)s from the inside (Kade album cover edit)
Bald-ur (#BladesAW)
Damn those elves and their magicks (Mal - Aerin hairswap)
Modern Rogue-ish Mal Volari (with a beard)
StarCorp
Blades of Lust and Sensuality
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Jax Tora and Robin Matsuo (face swap)
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Duke Richards in the banana mascot outfit from Platinum.
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Charlie Smith
A relaxing day at the waterfall! (edit inspired by Charlie Premium Scene!)
Quartermaster of the Dreadlord (DSAW)
Quartermaster of the Flotillan Pirates (DSAW)
Siren of The Light (DSAW)
Charlie as Atlas, Eli and Shreya from TE (DSAW)
Maggie
Maggie! M-Maggie? (MM and DS Maggie Crossover)
Maggie with HC Hazel’s hair and QB Poppy’s outfit. (#suoirandom request)
Oliver Cochrane
Oliver Cochrane as Luke Hemmings
oliver cock rain (DSAW)
f!Oliver (DSAW)
Distant Sores (Charlie x Edward face swap)
DS MC using BaBu2 sprite (DSAW)
Distant Couture // Hot Shores (DS x HC crossover, DSAW)
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Ayna Seth
student!Ayna and professor!Ayna
Ayna as Imogen from ILB
buff ayna
Ayna as Jackie in the Open Heart 3 CG
vampire!Ayna
Ayna Seth
Ayna Seth as a Lovelink Match
Ayna Seth as Robin Tora
aynia ellarious
TA meets TA (Ayna - Aiyana Midthunder crossover)
Blaine Hayes
m!Blaine in f!Blaine’s dress
f!Blaine as m!Blaine
Blaine with PT Raleigh’s Hair and MOTY MC’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
Blaine Hayes edit inspired by @aestheteasteria’s icon
Tatum Mendoza
John Somerset x Tatum Mendoza crossover
Tatum in Ayna’s dress / Tatum as Ayna
MC
politics reporter and student (FA mc x WT mc)
MC with ATV Pax’s hair and TNA Robin’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
Ayna x MC
girlfriends
partners
Bodyguard Murphy (lmao)
Murphy Icons <3
I think I got the address to the wrong Murphy
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Skye Crandall x Gerard Way
Dark Mage Ajay (choicedits challenge)
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Power Duo (Luz x MC)
Bridgette Gardner with TRH Cedric Vescovi’s hair and PM Hayden’s Outfit (#suoirandom edit)
Luz Estrada in her dress including the lingerie
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Noah Marshall in the banana outfit (edit request)
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Sadie McGraw
Sadie McGraw (in the TNA MC’s Golden Dress)
A bit younger Sadie McGraw
Sadie McGraw (in casual(?) outfit)
Aislinn Tanaka
Aislinn Tanaka in QB Poppy’s outfit and diff black hair
aislinn tanaka hot goth girlfriend
aislinn tanaka hot goth girlfriend 2
aislinn tanaka girlfriend
aislinn tanaka’s v short hair
Gabe and MC as Mal and Nia
Babe Ricci with long hair
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The Boys
Ava as Britney from ILITW
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IGHT (NB face swap)
MC with TE MC’s hair and BB MC’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
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bryce.. lahela .. and,, uh.. bryce sterling..
Rookie Ramsey
Rookie Varma
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Raleigh Carrera
Raleigh Carrera with AME Mackenzie’s hair and VOS Naomi’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
An exclusive sneak-peek at Raleigh Carrera’s fuck-the-stereotype Vinyls look that has got the fandom in meltdown!
Raleigh Carrera with BOLAS MC’s hair and THM Eris’s outfit. (#suoirandom edit)
A Very Wilshere Christmas! (Album Cover)
The Hottest Couple of the Industry (Avery x MC)
Poppy is just angry Avery
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Zoey Wade
“Besties!” (mc and Zoey as Mc and Ava from MTFL)
priestess zoey wade
zoey in floral
zoey in floral (beach-wear edition)
TA Zoey Wade
Zoey Wade as Atlas Ernhardt
Zoey Wade in TE MC’s gala outfit
zoey in the dress she gave to mc in the first chapter
Ina/Ian Kingsley
Ina Kingsley with TF Becca's hair and BB Kamilah's outfit. (edit request)
Ina Kingsley with TNA Sam’s hair and WT MC’s outfit. (#suoirandom edit)
Veronica with TNA Sofia’s hair and ACOR Sabina’s outfit. (#suoirandom edit)
MC with BP Courtney’s hair and QB Poppy’s outfit.
how (ridiculous) mc would look if she actually wore that ligerie under that dress
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📰 Robin Tora
Asian Robin as Ava Lawrence from MTFL
Asian Robin as Ava Lawrence from MTFL (#2)
Asian Robin as Ava Lawrence from MTFL (#3)
Robin as Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan
Jax Tora and Robin Matsuo (face swap)
Robin in an oversized baggy shirt
wait, wrong Robin- shit (Sofia TNA edit)
Robin Tora as Robin Tora and Robin Tora as Robin Tora
Robin as Cassian in Witness
Robins at the beach
robin hood
asian f!robin tora as blaine hayes
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Flame the Crow & Me : One Boob (TC&TF face swap)
Annia Adairious (TCTF AW)
orc!Val (TCTF AW)
Kenna Rys with NB Katherine’s hair and HSS Principal Rivera’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
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🌙 Atlas Ernhardt
Atlas Ellarious
Atlas, the adventurous elf
Queen of Vampires, Atlas, of Clan Ernhardt
Vampire Queen Atlas (edit #2)
Atlas, the Snow Princess
Atlas, the Moon Princess
Atlas in genderfluid flag colors!
m!Atlas in f!Atlas’s Gala dress
f and m!Atlas swapped
☀️ Eli Solaris Russell (my mc)
Eli’s first (accidental) spell cast!
Eli’s momentous first day at Penderghast
⚙️ Beckett Harrington
“Small dapper Beckett… confirmed.”
Beckett as Connor from Detroit: Become Human
Shreya Mistry
Shreya “Wonder Woman” Mistry
❣️ Pend Pals
“All dressed in black.”
Pend Gals on a night out in matching black outfits (#1)
Pend Gals on a night out in matching black outfits (#2)
Magick Docs (OH crossover)
Pend Pals in Belvoire attire
Pend Gals on a night out after the Amorelia Day Gala (faceapp faceswap edit)
The Elementalists - Across the Dimension (2D art crossover)
💞 Shreya x Atlas
“your eyes, they shine so bright”
“Hey Shreya.. Marry Me”
“Wedding Day!”
💞 Beckett x Eli/MC
Beckett and Eli in a western setting
Eli x Beckett face swap
Eli x Beckett in Robin x Sofia art (lmao)
🌟 Double Trouble (Eli/MC + Atlas)
Hydrobreath (Eli + Atlas)
“my younger twin sister” (double trouble x mtfl edit)
Misc
Blood of the Sun (a spinoff movie poster)
Coolness of metal and water-atts (meme)
Alma with FA Dionne’s hair and D&D MC’s outfit (#suoirandom edit)
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Sam Dalton
Sam Dalton as Sam Dalton and Sam Dalton as Sam Dalton
Sam Dalton with BB Serafine’s hair and TCTF Val’s outfit. (#suoirandom edit)
Sofia as Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil
the cake on sofia’s skirt works as floral print
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John Somerset x Tatum Mendoza crossover
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Vampire Harlenay
Flynn o’Malley in fem VOS characters’ hair 
Flynn o’Malley in fem outfits
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Anna Koishi
Anna Koishi, at the club, with short pink hair
Anna Koishi with TE Atlas’s hair and PT Avery’s outfit. (#suoirandom edit)
Anna Koishi as Atlas Ernhardt
politics reporter and student (FA mc x WT mc)
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Asian f!Dakota with Hispanic f!Dakota’s hair
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Daenerys, the mother of dragons (using TRR mc)
TRR mc as Daenerys (edit #2)
the greatest witch of our time (BB mc as Hermione Granger)
me before you (poster edit with TRR Mc and AME Adam)
Aquaman (ft Cassian and Ava)
Wolf Bride wolf in Poppy’s outfit
Imogen Dragons
rip fallen books
The Crew (DSAW)
Wizards of Waverley Place (THOBM edit)
omg a hit tweet (pb meme)
Choicedits Challenges
ACOR Sabina without using her assets
OpH Jackie without using her assets
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger using Choices assets
Priestesses of the Light
Coldplay’s Higher Power album cover using only Choices assets
Asian Wolf Bride MC as TE MC
Lovelink Edits
Nicholas Adley in Pirate Outfit
Jamie Grant in multiple outfits from HERO
33 notes · View notes
theparanormalperiodical · a year ago
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Top 10 Scariest Horror Films You Didn't Know Were Based On A TRUE Story feat. Trailers + Where To Watch
There’s something about horror films that are based on real events that just make me weak.
So weak, in fact, I’ve decided to spend the last *checks watch* one and a half years of my early 20s delving into the facts and the fiction haunting the horror genre. 
My parents must be so proud.
Most of these films wear the badge of ‘this is reality or close enough to it, anyway’ with dignity, leveraging gullible paranormalists like me to drive ticket sales. The Conjuring (2013) is just one of these films that is explicit in its basis in reality, going on to rake in 16 times its budget and inspiring me to delve deeper into my occultist journey.
(No, really, they’re so proud.)
But the ventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren are not the only experiences of horrifying and haunting events to be reinterpreted via the silver screen. There are some horror films you wouldn’t expect to have reality flushing through their veins.
Some of horror’s biggest hitters aren’t just living in your nightmares. They actually happened IRL.
Which is, ummm, fine, yeah, it’s not like I need to sleep anyway.
*Stay tuned to discover the horror films you didn’t know were based on true stories and the real accounts that inspired them.*
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Jaws (1975)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1fu_sA7XhE 
This cinematic classic follows the adventures of a great white shark as it terrorises the summer resort town of Amity. A couple of corpses later, and the local police chief, rookie marine biologist, and wild-card shark hunter track the beast down themselves.
Most horror films use a person or a story as a basis for a film. Jaws, however, is an amalgamation of experiences recorded by the writer of the novel inspiring the film, Peter Benchley.
Benchley admittedly had a life-long obsession with sharks and was inspired to write a book on a rogue great white after reading about a bloke called Frank Mundus.
"...in 1964, I read an item in a newspaper about a fisherman who harpooned a 4,500-pound great white shark off Long Island. I remember thinking at the time, Lord! What would happen if one of those monsters came into a resort community and wouldn't go away?”
Quint, the wild card shark hunter, was based directly on Mundus.
Another influence, although not referenced by Benchley, was the 1916 New Jersey shark attacks.
In high summer, five Americans were attacked by a great white off the coast of the Jersey Shore with 4 falling victim to their wounds. For the next 11 days, the same shark cruised along the 70 miles of the beach towns and small villages. The shark even performed the first shark attack reported in US history, countering the long-standing belief that sharks couldn’t bite through human bone.
(Spoiler alert: they can.)
When beach goers came to the beach early morning to discover the 3rd victim bitten in half, this was disproven. After that discovery - which bares a striking resemblance to the opening scenes of Jaws - the story hit The New York Times front page.
Just like the film the mayors tried to deny there was a deadly shark making the rounds to secure profit to their seaside resorts. And just like the film a swimmer was even mauled in an estuary.
It wasn’t long before they settled on the identity of the perpetrator and the locals set off with rifles and pitchforks.
(Not sure how useful they’d be against a shark, but okay.)
The shark met its end after it attacked one of the hunters’ boats, a scene we also witness in the film.
You can rent it for £2.50 on Amazon Prime.
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Deliver Us From Evil (2014)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWDM_p68HAQ
We follow a policeman who has a side gig as an exorcist as he encounters strange goings on in the Bronx. Ralph Sarchie chases up the paranormal activity and attempts to untangle why possessed people are painting ancient messages and images in various places.
Here’s the thing: none of this actually happened. As far as we know, anyway.
What this film is based on is the real Ralph Sarchie who wrote the memoir Beware The Night as an ode to his work as a demonologist. It’s based on his character, his tone of voice, and how he carried out his work.
Sarchie presents his work as his destiny, as some form of divine intervention he believes was signalled by his survival of a severe illness he contracted when he was 10.
He claims to carry a splinter of the ‘true cross’ - I guess the one Jesus actually died on - and considers himself more of a priestly figure armed with relics and holy water than a paranormal investigator.
Sarchie has worked on many possessions and hauntings, claiming he didn’t charge a cent despite the high fee he probably got from the book sales and the film’s debut. The most famous tale is that of the ‘Halloween Horror’:
A woman named Gabby began to see a woman floating in a cloud of white smoke in the corner of her bedroom. It wasn’t long before this smoky woman began to speak through Gabby according to her partner Dominick.
Gabby’s friend then says this was the ghost of a woman murdered on her wedding night. She then apparently saw the spirit of her father. Activity followed with flying books, moans and growls, and the word ‘HELP’ written on the mirror. Eventually an incubus rocks up and is hell bent on attacking various family members.
When Gabby gets possessed in the presence of Sarchie and his paranormal-busting-partner, he exorcises her of the spirit.
In total, Sarchie has assisted in 25 exorcisms and hundreds of ‘house exorcisms’.
You can watch it for free on Netflix.
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The Blob (1958/1988)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdUsyXQ8Wrs
*cue the canned screams*
In some rural town in America, a meteorite crashes to the ground. Someone investigates and a jelly globule attaches itself to their hand before consuming it. It then begins to consume their entire body. It’s not long before it starts to consume, well, everyone and everything in its path.
8 years before the horror icon first became a cult classic, two police officers in Philadelphia saw something float down from the sky. They thought it was a parachute and decided to investigate.
What they discovered was a six feet wide purple glob of odourless gloop. It was filled with crystals and gave off a mist. One of the police officers took the plunge - quite literally - and dipped a hand in. He kept the hand, but noticed the sticky residue left on his hands.
The gloop quickly disappeared and left the grass underneath it unbent. It was allegedly only there for 25 minutes. They were the only ones that saw it. It soon made its way into the press and the FBI asked the Air Force to investigate. They declined.
You can watch it for £3.50 on Amazon Prime.
Wolf Creek (2005)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S13W69FQhs
Two British tourists are backpacking across Australia when they run into trouble in Wolf Creek National Park. A helpful local offers to help fix their broken down car and provide some shelter. Turns out the helpful local is actually a psychopathic xenophobic murderer. He entraps tourists, lures them to his shelter, and tortures/kills them.
Most gory horror films can be compared to real life murders and other crimes. Unfortunately, even the most imaginative forms of torture or murder has probably already happened. But the film was directly based on the backpacker murders committed by Ivan Milat in the 90s.
Milat murdered 7 people aged 19 to 22, preying on those encouraged to backpack across Australia after several tourism campaigns revealed how cheap and easy it was. In ‘92 and ‘93 the bodies were discovered in Belanglo State Forest with the wounds and injuries suggesting the scenes played out in film were similar to those Milat committed.
In late ‘93 a force dedicated to hunting the unknown killer emerged. It used gym memberships, gun licensing, and police records to narrow down a list of 32 suspects.
It was only when Paul Onions, a British backpacker reported he was nearly murdered near Belanglo State Forest that the police could pinpoint that Milat.
You can watch it for £2 on Amazon Prime.
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Open Water (2004)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9q1qJi1nMs
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare: being left in the middle of the ocean. A distant couple decide to take a relaxing break and head out for a scuba-diving vacation. Their holiday is ruined, however, when the guy driving the boat f*cks up the head count and thinks everyone is back on board after a diving sesh. The couple come back to the surface and discover the boat is gone.
Yep, this all happened in real life.
In 1998, Thomas and Eileen Lonergan went on a scuba diving trip to Australia’s Coral Sea. They were mistakenly stranded by the boat crew leading the dive and their absence wasn’t noticed until 2 days later when a bag containing their belongings was discovered.
The crew and other rescue teams searched the area but did not discover their bodies. Personal belongings were found.
A diver’s slate - a device for communicating underwater - was one of these items.
"Monday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone who can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 1998 3pm. Please help to rescue us before we die. Help!!!"
The other items that washed up, including a wetsuit, suggested they had probably not fallen victim to shark attacks but had become disoriented, dehydrated, or injured by coral. Alternate theories claim it may have been a murder-suicide to avoid the slow, distressing death of being left at sea, or that it was a faked death/disappearance. No bank accounts had been tampered with, however.
Tougher regulations for scuba-diving in Australia shortly followed their disappearance.
You can watch it for free on Amazon Prime.
The Rite (2011)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hG3ktopqv8
We follow exorcist-in-training Father Gary Thomas as he navigates the loss of this faith. When the opportunity for fighting growing demonic possessions arises, Thomas decides to become an exorcist. We see Thomas as he is confronted by evil and reaffirms his devotion to God.
Portrayed by veteran actor Anthony Hopkins, Father Gary Thomas is a real American exorcist - one of the 14 Vatican-verified exorcists working State-side. He did in fact study in the Vatican to become an exorcist, and another student he met there would chronicle his experiences in the book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist.
Thomas even spent a week on set advising the director, utilising his experiences of the 100 odd people he had seen possessed in his career.
Just like in the film, Thomas echoes that most people that come to him for an exorcism have been abused in their past, linking mental health issues to demonic attachment. Thomas also has a lot of praise for the film, claiming the way those possessed moved in a serpentine way is accurate to those he has seen:
“I was beginning to do some deliverance prayers. Within a few minutes she began to tremor and her facial countenance began to change. You saw a snake. She began sticking her tongue out like a snake and hissing and rolling her eyes. She coiled herself up.”
- Father Gary Thomas on a possessed Venezualan woman
You can watch this on Amazon Prime for £2.50.
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The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6Mm8Sbe__o
Anthony Hopkins refers to a staple horror film - a film with truth spilling like blood from a bloated corpse…
This psychological horror sees an FBI trainee as they work with an imprisoned serial killer to hunt down a murderer, Buffalo Bill. Add in just a dash of transphobia and we arrive at the film that made my parents actually walk out of the cinema when they first saw it.
First, let’s talk about Hannibal Lecter and his role as an advisor to the FBI: this has actually happened, using a seasoned killer to catch another. The most famous example of this is none other than Ted Bundy, one of the most infamous in history. Bundy told investigators to stake out the graves of victims or the places where bodies had been dumped as necrophiles like himself would return to the site.
Bundy actually helped them catch Gary Ridgeway who killed an estimated 90 people.
Now let’s turn to Buffalo Bill. The characters were never directly inspired by real people but their crimes were. He was an amalgamation of other crimes with Ed Gein serving as the main inspiration. Ed Gein, most known for skinning his victims and wearing the skins, took 9 lives and would also inspire the character Norman Bates.
He would make clothing out of body parts, make soup bowls from dug-up skulls, and build chairs from human bones.
Ted Bundy even made another appearance in Buffalo Bill’s character in terms of how he lures his victims, acting hurt and helpless until the victim was just within reach.
You can buy this film on Amazon Prime for £8.
Scream (1996)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWm_mkbdpCA
This satirical slasher redefined the genre, putting comedy firmly into horror as we know it. It follows Sidney Prescott, a preppy high school student, as she navigates high school drama and a rampant serial killer.
Just like The Silence Of The Lambs, the crimes witnessed in Scream had basis in reality. Daniel Rolling - the Gainesville Ripper - was an American serial killer who murdered 5 students in Florida within the short span of 4 days back in 1990.
Rolling would sexually assault, rape, threaten, and kill his young victims before leaving them in ‘sexual’ positions. He even decapitated one of those murdered and left the head on the shelf opposite the rest of the body amongst other vile acts. He later claimed his motive was to become a ‘superstar’ like Ted Bundy.
Yeah, that’s enough of that.
You can watch this on Amazon Prime for £2.50.
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The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUQd9OB75dw
It’s time to hear about another vacay gone cray-cray. In the middle of a roadtrip to California, a family’s car breaks down in a mysterious area closed off to the public and they encounter a strange community of cannibals.
Instead of being based on modern crimes that hit far too close to home, this film is based on a historic event - or the legend of Sawney Bean.
Bean was a mythical leader of a cannibalistic group of insurgents in the 16th century. He grew up in a community of witches and later began his own community full of his children which he expanded with rampant incest. They would leave traps and eat their prey in a cave.
The King of Scotland, James VI, even led a team to root the family out of their lair. According to legend they were burnt at the stake while others were hung.
This tale also bears similarities to urban legends from Russia: there is a trope in the Southern Urals which claims after the Chernobyl accident irradiated peoples would become savage peoples, echoing the nuclear testing themes shown by the film.
You can watch this on Amazon Prime for £2.50.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1978)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKn9QIaMgtQ
In this cult class gore-fest we see a group of friends visit an old homestead but instead run into a family of murderous cannibals.
Yet again the crimes of Ed Gein make an appearance. The friends walk in on a home full of furniture made of human remains and meet a man - Leatherface - wearing a mask made of human skin. We also witness various people butchered in different brutal ways.
But this film also has a more political inspiration. Tobe Hooper - the director, producer, and writer - pinned his inspiration on changes in the cultural and political landscape, focusing on misinformation that overran America during the 70s.
*looks into camera a la Jim from The Office*
Hooper pinned the claims of a true story onto the film, responding to how he felt he was being lied to by the government regarding things like Watergate, the 1973 Oil Crisis, and the Vietnam War. The news only confirmed the brutal acts of humanity.
"man was the real monster here, just wearing a different face, so I put a literal mask on the monster in my film".
You can watch this for free on Amazon Prime.
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Well that was, uhh, fun?
If you enjoyed these traumatic discoveries - you know, that some of the most terrifying horror films of all time are based on real people and crimes - then make sure you like ‘n’ reblog to let me know.
I post a new article on horror and the paranormal every Saturday + a new real ghost story everyday so make sure you hit follow to tag along for the ride!
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redwinterroses · a year ago
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angsty third life prompt: grian missing his wings. bonus for impulse or tango interaction.
It actually turned out less angsty than I intended... Might revisit this one later. I was also inspired by this one piece of fanart I saw but can't find now, where Grian doesn't just have elytra he has actual parrot wings, but they’d been ripped off. It was beautiful and I am v sad that it has vanished. lol. Anyway, enjoy. ;P
_______
He really doesn’t like being stuck on the ground.
Grian shades his eyes with one hand, gripping his new iron sword in the other, and surveys the desert beneath Monopoly Mountain. The sun is just rising, but the heat rising off the golden sands is already enough to sting his skin and a bead of sweat rolls down his neck. Heat waves shimmer deceptively, nearly making him miss the real form moving across the dunes.
He glances over his shoulder at Scar, but the red-lifer is currently distracted doing… something with the storage chests. There’s no way it’s organizing, but probably best not to ask; instead he takes the chance to slip away.
Sliding down the side of a massive dune, he skids to a stop just as Impulse reaches the foot of the mountain.
“Halt, who goes there?” Grian says, brushing sand off his jeans and holding up one hand to stop Impulse. “Friend or foe!”
“Friend, friend – always a friend.” Impulse grins, and raises both empty hands. “Just came to chat with Scar.”
Grian rolls his eyes. “You’ll leave with less gear than you came,” he warns. “Scar’s been scamming people out of their stuff all day.”
With a gesture, Impulse dismisses his concern. “I heard, I heard… which is why I brought extra.” He pulls a pair of enchanted iron shoes out of his rucksack and waves them temptingly.
That gets a chuckle out of Grian. “Clever.”
Down at the level of the desert the heat is worse than before, and he instinctively twitches his shoulders to fan his wings – but, of course, there’s nothing there. The rough edges of the stumps twitch restlessly under his shirt, and the dull pain he keeps trying to ignore spikes a little.
Impulse, narrowing his eyes, rearranges the strap of his rucksack and jerks his head toward the distant treeline. “You want to… take a walk?”
“You just got here,” Grian says, but he glances up the cliff toward where he left Scar. He could slip away, just for a little bit… “But sure – this place is blazing hot. I almost can’t think in this heat.”
“You’re telling me. Come on, there’s a little pond just over that first hill; we can cool off there.” Impulse turns and starts trudging back towards the distant shadows of the trees..
Grian follows him, his feet sinking into the soft, shifting sand. He hates how it drags him down, hates the way it gets into his shoes and between his toes, as if it’s trying to remind him with every step that he can’t escape it.
“You, ah… you okay there, G?” Impulse’s longer legs have taken him further ahead, but he stops and waits for Grian to catch up. “Looking a little… tired.”
“Just – hating gravity is all.” Grian forces a little laugh and doesn’t stop when he reaches Impulse, continuing on. Ahead of them, the shady forest promises cool relief. “Stupid, I know.”
“Ah.” Deliberately slowing to keep Grian’s pace, Impulse nods. “Yeah, I miss elytra. It’ll be great to get back to Hermitcraft and be able to fly again – I bet it wouldn’t even take two rockets to cross this entire world.”
Grian doesn’t answer, but his wing-stubs flutter again in frustration. He feels so heavy. So earth-bound in this place – this tiny world that ripped his wings from him and dropped him into a killing game he only had a slim chance of surviving.
“Oh… right.” Impulse sounds like he’s answering a question no one asked. “Gosh, Grian, I’m sorry – that was pretty insensitive. But you’ll get your wings back too.”
I hope.
Neither of them say it, but they both think it – and know the other one is thinking the same.
As they finally reach the cover of the trees, and step into its cooling shade, Grian pulls off his shoes and shakes the sand out of them. “Stupid sand,” he growls. “Stuff gets everywhere.”
“You don’t have boots yet?” Impulse raises an eyebrow. “They keep the sand out—”
“No, Impulse,” Grian doesn’t even bother keeping the irritation out of his voice. “I don’t have boots yet. Or armor, or a decent kit, or anything but bread to eat, or even a partner who’s not probably certifiably insane.” He tucks the shoes under his arm, electing to go barefoot on the soft grass, and snaps: “Where’s this pond?”
Impulse doesn’t react to his harsh tone, and the sympathy in his face makes Grian feel like he should apologize. But before he can, Impulse leads him deeper under the oaks to a small, sandy-shored pond. “There,” he says, pointing. “And good idea – think I’ll stick my feet in too.”
They sit down in the shade of a massive oak tree, and Impulse pulls off his own boots, dropping them with a clank into the grass. Stretching, he leans back and lets his now-bare feet fall into the water. “Ahhhh,” he says. “Yep. That’s exactly what I needed.”
Dipping his own toes into the clear water, Grian weaves his fingers into the grass, and gives a sigh.
“Sorry, Impulse,” he says, his voice softer against the distant sounds of birdsong and the wind rustling the leaves overhead. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you. It’s just… hard to get used to, you know? Being… grounded.”
Impulse reaches over and claps him on the shoulder. “Hey,” he says. “It’s not forever.”
“No, just until I die. Or everyone else does.” For the first time, the realization that there will only be one survivor of this game strikes him fully, and he looks over at Impulse. “Impulse… by this time next week, one or both of us could be dead. We might kill each other.”
Impulse shakes his head. “Nah…” he says, but then falls silent, any further protest dying on his lips. They both know it’s true. As peaceful as this moment is, shared in the cool quiet of the oak grove with their bare feet making ripples in the water, it can’t last.
“Might be worth it,” Grian adds suddenly, forcing his voice to be light. “Cause some chaos, go out in a blaze of glory – just to… you know. Get back.” Back to Hermitcraft. Back to the sky.
“Aw, come on, G. Don’t talk like that – you’ve got a real shot at winning this thing.”
Grian shrugs noncommittally. “Maybe,” he says.
But I’d rather fly than win.
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glimpseofwonder · a year ago
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“Can you help me?” The young woman asked, her voice calm even though her eyes bordered on desperate. “Please. I have to find my son.”
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fuzzhugs · a year ago
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Cycle - Redwall Midwinter Gift Exchange 2020-2021
Made as part of the @redwall-midwinter-gift-exchange. A gift for @autobot-scout-riella.
               “Exactly how far north are we?” Dandin asked Mariel as he shivered against the cold wind blowing in from the sea. “I think my blood is about to freeze.”
               The Pearl Queen had made ground along the sandy shores of the far Northlands. Together with Bowly Pintips, the three warriors had been sailing for nearly a season since leaving Mossflower, traveling wherever the wind took them, stopping at whatever island or stretch of mainland took their fancy.
               None of them had any great experience sailing, and after floundering around for several days, they came across a group of sea otters who had spotted their vessel in distress. A dozen of the younger otters, keen to explore the oceans, joined Mariel, Dandin, and Bowly, bringing their knowledge of the ocean wind and waves, helping ensure the vessel didn’t sink or run aground.
               Mariel responded to Dandin’s complaint by throwing another cloak at him. “I didn’t realize sailing around the tropics had made you soft.”
               “I’m not soft, I just prefer having feeling in my footpaws.”
               “Better wrap ‘em up then. We’re gonna be staying until we’ve resupplied.”
               “Assuming we can find anything edible in a place this cold.”
               “That’s why you and I are going to go scout around.”
               “Abandoning ship, mateys?” Bowly Pintips came up to them.
               “We’re going to go see if we can find food for the stores,” Mariel informed him.
               “What about me? Just supposed to stay here and sit on my paws?”
               Bowly was young and often stubborn. Mariel saw a lot of her younger self in him. Though he had been reliable in the past, he was not highly experienced in foraging or wayfinding on land, so Mariel found him another task to do.
               “Help the otters set up a camp along the shore. We’ll probably be staying here a number of days. Keep the tents on the windward side of the Pearl Queen. We’ll stay a bit warmer that way. Scrounge for driftwood as firewood too. We’re going to need to keep a fire going.”
               Bowly gave an exaggerated salute and marched off to issue orders to the otters, Mariel and Dandin fighting to stifle their giggles over his comically serious demeanor.
               Before leaving the ship, both Mariel and Dandin bundled up against the cold, wearing multiple layers and wrapping up their footpaws in strips of cloth. With practiced skill, they shimmied down the ropes and landed on the beach, marching along the cold, wet sand.
               As the beach transitioned into plains, the ground became hard. The dirt itself was frozen. The otters had spoken of lands where there was no summer and the earth was permanently frosted over. Dandin found the idea of a land without summer hard to believe, but Mariel, after everything she had seen in her life, found there was very little that was impossible.
               While the two mice wandered, they found a few bushes that managed to grow despite the cold. The berries produced by the bushes were bitter, but edible. Mariel noted their location and began making plans to send a foraging party to gather them later.
               A short time later, Dandin stopped and squinted into the distance. “I think I see a pair of trees up ahead. On top of that hill.”
               Mariel stood beside him and squinted as well. They had not yet seen any other trees along the plain, so it would be strange to see any standing alone in the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless, there they were. Atop a distant hill, two of the oddest-looking trees Mariel had ever seen. The trunks curved upward in an unusual fashion and the branches that she could see were bare of leaves.
               “They look dead,” Mariel said.
               “I still want to have a look,” Dandin replied. “We’ll be able to see for miles if we make the climb.”
               Mariel nodded, and the two mice set off toward their new destination.
               The hill was covered in a layer of thick, brown grass, coated with a thin layer of frost like much of the rest of the landscape. Shortly after beginning their ascent, Mariel and Dandin began to notice there was something odd about the hill.
               “This grass is strange,” Mariel told Dandin, running her paw up and down the wiry strands. “It doesn’t feel like a plant.”
               “And have you noticed that the ground feels softer and warmer than on the plain? Do you think we should leave?”
               “I’m not afraid of a hill. I’m going to the top.” Mariel continued toward the trees near the summit. Not wanting to be left behind, Dandin hurried after her.
               “What manner of trees are these?” Mariel wondered aloud as she felt the trunks. “No bark, no twigs, no sign of any buds. This doesn’t feel like wood, it’s more like…bone.”
               “Let me feel,” Dandin stepped forward and rapped his paw firmly against the strange tree.
               The ground began to rumble and shake, and the hill seemed to sway from side to side. Both Mariel and Dandin were forced to hang on to the tree in order to stay upright.
               “What did you do?!”Mariel shouted as the rumbling intensified.
               “I didn’t do anything!” Dandin shouted back as he clung to the tree with his eyes shut tight.
               Mariel glanced over the crest of the hill to see if it was collapsing, only to see the ground was getting farther and farther away. They were rising into the air.
               “Dandin,” Mariel said, her voice nearly a whisper, “this isn’t a hill.”
               “What do you mean this isn’t a hill?” Dandin said, still clinging to the tree.
               “It’s not a hill, it’s a creature. Some enormous creature.”
               The rumbling and movement stopped as the creature held still. Now that it was upright, Mariel could tell that she and Dandin were standing directly on top of its head, which was higher from the ground than the roof of the Abbey.  The creature stood on four legs ending in hooves. Mariel opened her mouth to speak when a booming voice rang out from beneath them.
               “K’to tam naverk’hu?”
               Mariel’s ears rang. This creature was louder than even her father’s bell that now hung back at Redwall. Whatever the creature was saying, she didn’t understand it.
               “Ch’to tii delayesh ‘s moyey golovoy?” the creature spoke again, just as loud as the first time.
               To the side, there was what Mariel took to be an ear. She yelled at it as loud as possible. “I’m sorry! I don’t understand you! We don’t mean you any harm!”
               “Ah, small-folk,” the creature said, now speaking more quietly. It lowered its head to the ground and Mariel and Dandin scurried off. “What are you doing upon my head?”
               “We thought you were a hill,” Dandin explained. “We were going to climb those…trees on you head to look around the plain. We’ve never seen a creature like you before.”
               “My antlers. My people are called ‘deer.’ You small ones are not from around here, I am thinking.”
               “We are travelers. Our apologies for disturbing you.”
               “It is no matter. It is time for me to rejoin my herd.”
               “Your… herd?”
               “My kind travels in groups. For safety. For companionship.”
               “Can we see?” Mariel asked, ever interested in seeing new things.
               The deer lowered his head and Mariel eagerly climbed back on. Dandin followed more cautiously.
               “You never told us your name,” Mariel called down toward the deer’s ear.
               “Rufus,” the deer said. “I am called Rufus.”
               Every step Rufus took was jarring, but the mice could tell that the deer was moving slowly and trying to step gently. He brought them over hills and waded through what would have been an impassable river to creatures of Mariel’s and Dandin’s size. Rufus came to a stop above a broad valley, and Mariel and Dandin were breathless at what they saw.
               The valley was filled with others of Rufus’ kind. Some had antlers, others did not. The sea of reddish-brown fur seemed to sway and flow like the ocean. The number of deer before them was uncountable. Steam rose from the valley floor out of great pits in the ground, further obscuring the true size of the herd in a thick fog.
               “Even in winter, this valley is kept warm by the heat from the earth,” Rufus said, “but we often must leave to find foraging ground.”
               “Why not live further south?” Dandin asked. “It is warmer there, and there are plenty of good things to eat.”
               “I did once wander far to the south. I have seen your forests. While their beauty is clear, they are not suitable for a herd of deer. The trees would crowd us in and keep us from running.”
               “Running?” Mariel questioned.
               “We are not the only creatures of this cold and barren land. There are others. The wolves hunt us down and consume us.”
               The thought of one creature eating another sickened Mariel. Eating a fish was one thing, but even among vermin, only the worst would consume the flesh of another.
               Now in the midst of the herd, Rufus stopped as another deer stepped up to him. They rubbed their muzzles together in some form of greeting.
               “My mate, Sylva,” Rufus said, introducing the female of his kind.
               “Privet malysh’ki. Dobro pozhalovat’ v’ nashu dolinu,” the deer said in her own tongue.
               Sylva does not speak your language,” Rufus said to Mariel and Dandin, “but she welcomes you to our home.”
               “How is it that you speak as we do?” Mariel asked.
               “I was once as I imagine you are. A traveler. An explorer. I wandered a great distance from the herd, eager to see the world. I saw many great things and learned much on my travels, but I eventually realized I had wandered enough, and I returned to my home. Perhaps one day you will feel the same and return to where you came from.”
               “I don’t think we’ll ever tire of traveling and exploring,” Mariel said.
               “Maybe so. At the time, I desired to return to Sylva,” Rufus nuzzled his mate affectionately, “but I see you travel with your mate. Perhaps this will be enough for you.”
               “We’re not,” Mariel started to say while Dandin shifted his paws awkwardly, but a loud bellowing interrupted her and echoed across the valley. Every deer perked up its ears and spun its head in the direction of the call.
               Before Mariel or Dandin could ask about the noise, Rufus had spun around and began to run alongside Sylva. Neither mouse had ever traveled at such speed. As the wind rushed by, Mariel and Dandin clung to Rufus’ antlers, fighting to maintain their position as Rufus bounded along, adding to the thunderous rumbling of countless hooves pounding the earth.
               As the entire herd ran, Mariel glimpsed grey figures running near the edge of the herd, driving the deer one way and then another as they fought to escape.
               “Rufus, what’s happening?” Mariel shouted, trying to make herself heard over the din.
               “Wolves,” Rufus gasped as he panted. “The hunters. The killers.”
               As the herd ran on, the mice managed to see the wolves more clearly. They ran on all fours like the deer. Ears back and fangs showing, saliva dripping down their sharp teeth the wolves looked like monsters.
               Within minutes, the deer had crossed a distance that would have taken the mice most of the day, but still the wolves pursued.
               There was a scream of pain, and as quickly as the chase began, it ended. The wolves swarmed around a fallen deer and began their carnage, ignoring all of the other deer as they ate.
               The herd continued to run for several more minutes before all the deer halted their retreat and settled on a new stretch of grassland. Rufus was panting heavily, his breath steaming out of his mouth and nostrils. On his head, Mariel and Dandin were likewise breathing heavily, their hearts pounding and limbs trembling.
               “Are you small ones injured?” Rufus asked once he had regained his breath.
               Dandin helped Mariel to her feet. “We’re fine, Rufus. How long until the wolves come again?”
               “They will not hunt again for several days,” Rufus said casually. “They have made their kill and will be satisfied for some time.”
               “I’m sorry for your loss,” Mariel said. “Did you know the one who…fell?”
               “No, but his sacrifice will be remembered.”
               “Sacrifice?” Mariel asked, confused.
               “One dies, the rest of the herd survives. This is the way it has always been.”
               Mariel was shocked at Rufus’ seemingly callous to the loss of his comrade. “How can you say that? Those wolves are monsters!”
               “They require food just as any other creature. They must consume meat in order to survive.”
               “And why must their survival cost your people their lives!?”
               “It would be far worse for us if the wolves did not chase us. If they did not take from us, our numbers would grow until we had consumed all of the plants in the land, and then we would all slowly starve to death, as would all the other creatures who call this land home. The chase ensures that we are strong enough to endure the harshness of the north. The old and inured who would otherwise perish painfully are given the dignity of a quick death. The death of one allows the herd to survive. Likewise, we encourage the wolves to be strong. If we did not run, the wolves would become fat and indolent. They would die as soon as hardship took hold. It is all necessary. The land needs us. The land needs the wolves. The wolves need us. We need the wolves.”
               Mariel scowled, unhappy with Rufus’ explanation. “There must be another way.”
               “What do you suggest? My kind do not have the clever paws to farm the land as you small folk do, nor are the wolves  able to catch fish. While our way may seem unpleasant to you, it is nonetheless our way, and we must continue in it if we are to survive. Come, I will take you back to where we met.”
               Rufus crossed the valley with the mice riding along. The wolves were still gathered around the fallen deer. Mariel made to look away when she saw the smallest of wolves nearby, running around and playing with each other as they stumbled on their inexperienced paws.
               “Though they will grow to chase us done,” Rufus said, “I can still see value in their existence. Do the pups not deserve a chance to grow and thrive?”
               Mariel did not answer. She was through arguing with Rufus. She remained silent until they reached the spot where they had mistaken Rufus for a hill. She gave him a cordial farewell, though she remained fuming inside. On the way back to the ship, Mariel and Dandin stopped to gather some of the berries they had spotted before.
               Back at camp, the others were thoroughly impressed by the story Mariel and Dandin told them. Bowly was jealous that he hadn’t been along to meet Rufus. Mariel let Dandin do most of the telling as she warmed herself by the driftwood fire, staring into the flames as she regarded the northlands. She could not understand the casual way Rufus accepted the death of his fellow deer. Living and dying based on chance seemed an awful way to exist. Even as the fire died and everybody went off to sleep, the thoughts continued to run through Mariel’s mind until she too drifted off into slumber.
               The next day, Mariel went off on her own, searching for other sources of food besides the bitter berries they had found the day before. She had wandered to the south where the grass was taller, hoping to find something edible hidden between the tall, leafy blades.
               Late in the morning, Mariel’s ears caught the sound of some creature in distress. With a high jump, she was able to see over the grass into the distance where a pair of ravens were swooping down, harassing some creature who Mariel could not see. Pushing through the grass, Mariel made a beeline toward the ravens, getting her Gullwhacker ready to deliver a painful lesson to the disagreeable birds.
               She came out of the grass swinging, delivering a solid blow to the skull of one of the ravens in mid-swoop. The birds gave a harsh cry and switched their attention to Mariel, diving toward her with talons outstretched.
               With a whirlwind of blows, Mariel pummeled the birds with the knotted Gullwhacker, striking at the wings, heads, and beaks until they understood that their time would be better spent elsewhere.
               Pushing through the rest of the grass, she came to where the raven’s victim lay. Mariel came to a sudden stop when she saw what it was. It was one of the wolves, but a young one. Though it was only a pup, it still stood as tall as a young badger. It was covered in scratches from the ravens’ talons, but it seemed unperturbed by its injuries now that the birds were gone. Its attention was now fully focused on Mariel.
               Before Mariel could decide whether or not to run, the wolf shoved its face toward her a made a series of loud sniffs before it drew its tongue up the length of her body, leaving her clothes and fur slightly damp from its saliva.
               “You’re welcome,” Mariel said, shaking herself dry. “I’ll just be going now.”
               As Mariel turned to leave, she was suddenly lifted from the ground. The pup had grabbed the back of her cloak and was carrying her away, trotting along without a care in the world. Mariel thrashed about, trying to free herself, but the pup’s grip was too tight and Mariel was too small to have much of an impact on the pup’s behavior.
               The pup continued carrying Mariel over several miles as she hung helplessly in its grasp. She had tried reasoning with the wolf, but either it did not understand her or did not care to listen to her, so Mariel waited, biding her time until she had an opportunity to run, though she had serious doubts that she would be able to outrun even this little wolf.
               When they reached a clearing, Mariel spotted a fully grown wolf with several other pups nearby. When the adult saw the pup carrying Mariel, she bounded over and began to speak to the pup.
               “Nikolas, ya zhe skazal tebe ne ukhodit. K’to eto? Chto vii nadelali?”
               Though Mariel did not understand the words, she recognized the tone. At Redwall, she had heard Mother Mellus use the same sort of voice when scolding the dibbuns. Whatever this pup had done had evidently displeased its mother.
               The pup responded, dropping Mariel as it did so, but its answer was more of a series of barks than an actual language. Nonetheless, the mother understood her pup and turned her eyes down toward Mariel.
               “Tii ranen, malen’kiy?” the wolf asked, waiting for Mariel to talk.
               “Sorry I…I don’t understand,” Mariel responded, fighting to remain calm while facing down the giant monster. “I don’t know your language.”
               The wolf straightened up and closed her eyes for a few moments. “I speak…small tongue…little. Son say you… save son. This wolf… thanks you. My name… Sveta.” Sveta sniffed the air and looked back down at Mariel. “No need… fear. No harm you.” Sveta sniffed again. “You been with deer.”
               “I met them yesterday,” Mariel said, finding her voice. “I saw them being hunted.”
               Sveta nodded. “I not there. Hunters bring food… for mothers with pups.” She gave Mariel an appraising look. “I am feeling… you do not like this.”
               “It is cruel,” Mariel said, unafraid to speak her mind. “Killing other creatures and… eating them,” she shuddered in disgust.
               “Cruel to let pups eat?” Sveta asked. “Wolves no fish. No catch bird. No eat grass. Better to let pups die?”
               “There must be another way. Some way for both deer and wolf to exist without all this killing.”
               “You not first to think this. Grandfather Urgan try to abandon hunt. Leave pack. Not seen again.”
               Mariel’s ears perked up at the name but she kept silent.
               “Wolves not forget what deer give up. Come with Sveta. Sveta show you way of wolf.”
               Sveta knelt down and allowed Mariel to climb atop her head. She barked something at her pups and led them out of the clearing along a trail which wound up into the hillside. The path took them to the bottom of a cliff that had undergone a rockslide at some point in the ancient past. Resting among the rocks and boulders were hundreds of deer skulls, some with antlers, other without. They were all perfectly aligned, obviously placed with care and purpose.
               “Wolves not forget,” Sveta stated firmly. She stepped forward and brushed her face against one of the skulls an in almost intimate gesture. “Every moon pack visit memory hill. Remember prey. Thank prey,” she dug at a pile of dried vegetation, “bring offering to prey. Prey not only food. Prey are life. Life of pups. Life of wolves. Life of pack. Disrespect to prey, disrespect to pack. No kill without need. Punishment for wasting life high. Cherish life of prey. Cherish own life. Even pups know this.”
               Mariel looked and saw that Sveta’s pups were walking up to skulls and imitating their mother’s gesture. Mariel had not seen any devotion to life this deep anywhere outside of Redwall, and though its form here was strange, it was not unrecognizable.
               “The deer know of this?” Mariel asked.
               “Deer know well. Deer know value. All have place in cycle. It is way. Small mouse understand?”
               “I understand better than I did, but it is still difficult to grasp.”
               “Small mouse need time to think,” Sveta proposed. “Sveta bring back to plains.”
               Sveta gathered her pups and took them all back down the hills and through the clearing to where Mariel had fought the ravens. Sveta knelt down once again and let Mariel slide off her head and onto the ground.
               “Thank mouse once again. Pup precious to Sveta and pack. Sveta remember mouse well.”
               “Thank you, Sveta,” Mariel said. “I hope your pups grow up strong.”
               Sveta nodded and called to her pups. Within moments, they were off, darting through the wilderness, no doubt going to rejoin their pack.
               Dandin was visibly relieved when Mariel returned to the campsite. She had been gone much longer than she had intended, and with giant creatures roaming the land, it was no wonder he had been worried. Mariel didn’t say much, but sat by the fire, thinking about the way of life of the deer and the wolves.
               “This is a strange land, Dandin,” Mariel said, “but perhaps not as strange as we first thought.”
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atinytokki · a year ago
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Across the Night
v. Learning the Ropes 
The oil lamp needed trimming. No one else in the hold was awake to do the job, and Seonghwa knew Captain Bae hated seeing wax on the deck, so he rose from his hammock to take care of it.
It was sometime just after midnight on his seventeenth birthday and they were anchored at Tae Gyungkaai.
Business had been doing well since Seonghwa returned to the sea and joined the Monarch on its latest supply runs to the colonies and back.
Mr. Hwang seemed to know what had taken place between him and his mother without ever being told, and wisely refrained from mentioning it, content to take the boy under his wing regardless and teach him his cooper arts.
They would be setting out for Kon again at first light and another hiatus would begin— Seonghwa’s most dreaded times.
Now that he had cut his ties, he had nowhere to go.
Hwang had suggested he find some others his age, but the only apprentices he’d encountered in Kon were either too good for him or too suspicious, either budding naval officers or the lurking, unsavoury type.
No matter how lonely he got, he wouldn’t turn to a pirate for company. They couldn’t be trusted.
Seonghwa realised as he swung there in his hammock that he needed to confront himself about whether or not lack of companionship was the root of the issue.
Perhaps he needed more than just friends, perhaps he needed some adventure as well.
Everything was very routine on the Monarch, and Seonghwa appreciated how organised the profession was, but there was something missing from the waters they navigated back and forth across constantly.
The unknown.
There was a shade of that feeling growing in him when he woke the next morning to a thick fog surrounding them on their journey north.
Seonghwa abandoned scrubbing the inevitable wax spot for the main deck, where he watched with baited breath as Captain Bae decided what to do.
They’d raised anchor no more than thirty minutes ago and sailed right into the mist, with only the faint beacon of the lighthouse indicating where the end of the peninsula was.
If they weren’t careful, they’d run aground and sink on the reef.
Slowly, the Monarch advanced through the fog and Seonghwa held his breath.
“Sail to starboard!” The man in the crow’s nest alerted them, hissing through his teeth so as not alert whoever it was that was rapidly gaining on them.
“What’s going on?” A loud voice came from behind and Seonghwa quickly turned to hush him, realising it was a groggy Mr. Hwang, rising from bed when he noticed the strange quiet over the deck.
“Jolly Roger, sir!” Another call came from the rigging and Seonghwa’s blood went cold.
Pirates.
Mr. Hwang was immediately pulling on his arm, trying to get him to return belowdecks where it was presumably more safe, but Seonghwa evaded his grip and hurried to the quarterdeck to hear the captain’s plan.
“We have a better chance passing them and hoping the scum haven’t spotted us yet than we do on those rocks,” the man was saying as he rubbed his temples harshly.
“But sir, we’ve only the stern chaser to fend them off with,” Quartermaster Namgoong argued back, serving as the helmsman currently as the man with the most blind sailing expertise. “They outgun us… to a ridiculous extent.”
“But they don’t know that!” Seonghwa yelled up from where he stood, and when the captain regarded him curiously, he saw himself up to the quarterdeck. “We still have a better chance if we follow the beam from the lighthouse and lose them around the north coast of peninsula.”
“Not if the light exposes us,” Namgoong played devil’s advocate yet again. “Then any secrecy we may still have will be gone.”
“So if they fire on us then, we use the stern chaser,” Captain Bae picked up on Seonghwa’s idea quickly. “Then we put as much distance between us as we can and hope they leave us alone, assuming we have more guns than we do.”
“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, lad,” Namgoong hummed, giving him an encouraging back pat. “Let’s just hope this works.”
The entire company remained silent while the Monarch sailed onward into the fog.
The quiet that descended over them as heavily as the cloud was unbroken save for the creaking of the boat, hauntingly moaning in protest as they advanced.
Seonghwa kept his eyes trained on the distant light that was growing nearer and tried not to think about the mysterious pirate ship behind them.
“Hug the coast,” Captain Bae cautioned Namgoong as he began turning a few points to the port side. “They won’t dare follow us all the way to Kon, they’d be shredded by the shore batteries.”
Gradually, the fog began to thin. The heat of the light was evaporating it more the closer they got, and as they turned inland, rounding the edge of the peninsula, the ship behind them didn’t alter course.
It looked as if the pirates had never even been pursuing them as they continued north, a safe distance from shore should they pass Kon on their way.
“They let us go…” Seonghwa realised as he glanced around the illuminated Monarch. “But why?”
“It appears they are on a journey of their own and had no interest in us,” Bae supplied, keeping a shrewd eye on the departing pirates and handing Namgoong his spyglass to catch sight of the inscription on the enemy’s hull. “What does it say?”
Namgoong squinted through the glass before lowering it and taking in a shaky breath. “It’s the Stardust. And it was headed northwest, in the direction of Panhang most likely.”
“Panhang?” Mr. Hwang repeated, confused. “Why?”
It was a question no one save the pirates themselves could answer, and it bothered Seonghwa for the entire rest of the day.
Hwang found him in the stern angrily assembling a barrel that evening, and settled in for a chat about the issue.
“As soon as we make landfall the authorities will be notified, no worries,” he rambled on casually while he inspected the apprentice’s work. “That Eden was seen moving north is valuable information.”
“That’s not it,” Seonghwa sighed as he leaned back and wiped the sweat from his face. “It’s the fact they were going to Panhang. Why there, of all places?”
Hwang hummed and stacked the barrel with some others, silently signalling his approval of the craftsmanship. “True, it’s not a known pirate hideout. Unless they’re in the mines somewhere, which is unlikely because those mines are actively maintained by the Kim family of Jangwon.”
“And otherwise, it’s a trip out of their way with no clear purpose,” Seonghwa added, forlorn.
“Either way, son, it’s not our business to discover why and track them down,” Hwang reminded him as one of the sailors, Ryeo Yongsun, arrived to transfer goods to the new barrels. “For all we know they could have turned starboard to the archipelago at the last moment. Pirates aren’t the most predictable types.”
“Wonderful!” Yongsun cheered as he uncorked a barrel of his own and let the rum inside flow into Seonghwa’s freshly made one. “A new cushion for the most treasured golden liquid in all the Earth!”
His overdramatic bearing made Seonghwa break into a smile subconsciously, and he tried to relax and put the morning’s events out of his mind for now.
“Do you always talk like that?” He snorted when Yongsun went on and on with praise for the leakproof barrel.
The man either ignored or didn’t hear him, too occupied with excitedly gathering the free sailors around for a drink.
“Don’t think we forgot your birthday, lad!” Mr. Hwang chuckled, grabbing him around the shoulders and sitting him down to have cake placed in front of him and a dozen riotous men singing their rowdiest tune in his ears.
Seonghwa only managed a couple sips of the alcohol before deciding firmly that it wasn’t for him and trying to sneak away while Hwang and Yongsun argued about which wine they should get him to try instead.
The galley was nicely peaceful and quiet and there would be many dishes that needed washing by the end of the night, especially if the men had gone and made a mess in there to prepare for this surprise.
Old Tak Moon was already there, frying himself some fish leisurely and avoiding the party as well, and he had the sense to leave Seonghwa to his musings when he was done.
He was trying to enjoy himself and be thankful for his senior crew members’ efforts on the behalf of their “baby” but the future hung over his head and the mysteries in his dreams plagued him until they reached Kon.
Harp music was playing from somewhere, a classical piece well known and beloved in the palace, and he was on a blanket in the garden with his older brother the prince until torrential rain poured down from the heavens and the nightmare ended in sweat and shivering.
Even on a ship having left behind his old life, the truth of the past haunted him.
Again, Seonghwa was left with nothing to do when the merchant business went on hiatus until their next delivery.
Out of habit, he made his way to the capital and wandered to his old childhood home.
It was as if ten years had gone by instead of one when he saw the overgrown grass and boarded up windows.
“Excuse me,” he asked the neighbour who was painting his fence across the street. “I wanted to ask about the woman who lived here less than a year ago. Her name was Lina... Do you happen to know where she went?”
The man frowned at the house and shook his head. “She must have left in the night, secretly. No one here has heard from her since before winter.”
Seonghwa tried not to be upset as he thanked the man and walked around to the back garden, where he had once sat and cried at what Mother confessed to him.
There was a fogged up bottle tucked under the bench with a note inside. Without needing to ask if it was for him, Seonghwa shattered the glass and poked through the shards for the curled up paper.
“He will know you by your scar” it read, and there was no need to wonder who it referred to.
Seonghwa lifted a hand to the small white mark just under his hairline. He thought once he had been born with the blemish, but Lina told him differently.
It was his only physical connection to who he really was, the second prince who had been dropped once as a baby by his eager older brother, a secret only the three of them knew.
Seonghwa tossed the strip of paper into the nearest street lantern to burn and walked away from that cursed place. If this was Mother’s way of making reparations in her hasty departure, it wasn’t nearly good enough.
Even if he had been returning with the intention to stay with her, it would’ve been impossible with the woman gone.
She sent him away too, in the end. She had stolen him for his pretty face and when she realised there was no more value in him, she packed up and disappeared.
There was a tightness in his empty chest that choked him up inside with solitude and reminded him that he had to find his path on his own now.
The only road he saw as he returned to the docks that day was the friendly Mr. Hwang waving at him from the Monarch and beckoning him home.
He was to be a cooper’s apprentice and then a cooper himself one day, and he would have to come to terms with that reality.
The flashes of his opulent past in fragmented memory were to be forgotten completely.
Seonghwa never should have remembered them.
It wasn’t until the next summer that life on the seas began to change.
Seonghwa was eighteen, and though he had grown in many ways, his social circle and aspirations hadn’t.
Hwang ran a quaint business on shore during the off seasons and offered Seonghwa a place that he refused, content with his pleasant room rented at the inn with his regular income on days when he wasn’t in his hammock on the Monarch.
Like every other young man his age, he wanted independence and the ability to sustain himself but didn’t know how to branch out with so few connections.
At eighteen, he was living a life of so many paradoxes that it seemed like folly to even attempt to let anyone get to know him.
That, and the fact that he didn’t know what he wanted beyond a peaceful life and a view of the ocean.
The summer was hot and uncomfortable just like the previous year’s, and though Seonghwa didn’t know why all the major events always seemed to take place in the summer, he was the first to snatch up the news bulletin when he heard the cry through the streets of Kon; the Dread Pirate Eden was sunk and piracy was dead.
Seonghwa thought it a tad theatrical as a headline, but as the unsettling quiet of autumn moved in, he realised it was true.
No other ships would dare to cause trouble as brazenly as the Stardust, especially with the Navy’s power on the rise.
The very Stardust he’d seen fly north through the fog was at the bottom of the sea, and the Navy had caught on to the dread pirate at Panhang no less.
There was still no explanation what he was doing there beyond glowing testimonials from several lieutenants of Admiral Kim’s swift action in pursuing Eden, so Seonghwa put it out of his mind while he brought out the nice plates and laid the sailors a proper meal for the occasion.
“Come on, Seonghwa, m’boy!” Jeom Dongyul whined as he thrust an empty cup at him. “Will you not offer us a celebratory tot of rum?”
Seonghwa rolled his eyes and brought all the mugs he could hold back to the galley for Tak to fill with whatever alcoholic beverage the men were clamouring for now.
He still refused to drink any himself, having seen its effects on the already feisty crew members, and was even careful to avoid handling it, as if any contact with such a beverage could somehow addle him.
“Coconut cream and pineapple juice have been mixed in to sweeten it further for you,” Tak Moon announced as he brought out the remaining drinks and passed them around the cheering men, bowing exaggeratedly before taking a seat and a swig himself.
Seonghwa may be the favourite in all other food related tasks, but Old Man Tak Moon had him beat when it came to liquid gold, as some of the men called it.
“A toast! To fewer thorns in our sides,” came a rousing voice from the back of the room.
Bok Junghwa— the newest hire, but still older than Seonghwa, keeping him in his spot as the youngest and most innocent, though the latter position was completely by choice.
Smiling fondly at their enthusiasm, the apprentice raised his water glass and clinked it against Hwang’s.
To fewer thorns indeed, he thought to himself, ready for an easier workload.
No pirates meant no roundabout trade routes and no midnight watches, shorter voyages and more expensive cargo, and safer seas to enjoy and make money on.
But it only lasted another year, because piracy was not so dead after all.
A nineteen year old Seonghwa found himself pacing the decks in the dark on a midnight watch before finishing his shift and collapsing at the table with some of the other men, who were drunk and useless for a completely different reason.
They were scared.
It only took one threat to send the Monarch back into a defensive position, and it wasn’t even a threat they’d encountered themselves.
Six different ships at the merchant’s symposium at the beginning of autumn had reported being attacked by this new pirate.
Six ships in different trade routes, all of them since the equinox.
The new contender was motivated and he was fast.
“Merely eighteen, they say,” Kim Jinho was muttering as he nursed a mug and fiddled with his money pouch. He nodded in Seonghwa’s direction. “Almost the same age as you.”
He didn’t have to ask who the sailor was talking about before Dongyul supplied a name for him.
“The Pirate King.”
Seonghwa’s eyes narrowed and he sat back and crossed his arms. It didn’t make much sense as an alias, at least not to his reasoning. “Why do they call him that?”
What right did anyone other than his own distant father have to be proclaimed king?
“Because if anyone could reunite the fragmented horde of buccaneers that remain, it would be him,” Junghwa shrugged helplessly.
No wonder everyone in the maritime market was worried about the pirate.
“Who is he?”
Namgoong’s voice answered from behind as he approached, sending a chill down Seonghwa’s spine. “No one really knows. We only have eyewitness reports, and those range considerably.”
Yongsun spoke as if possessed, his eyes fixed on the handle of his cup as he recounted some of their stories, a true old salt.
“They say his soul is made of fire. He hides his burning heart underneath an icy skin,” he paused to craft another metaphor before continuing. “His every edge, every angle is sharp and deadly, like a frost bitten sword. He chases the wind but battles the waves.”
Seonghwa was wrapped up in the vivid tale and his voice dropped to a whisper. “Why?”
“Because he is twice-stricken by the sea,” Yongsun suddenly met his eyes and held the gaze as he took a gulp of rum and brushed his arm over his mouth. “She took everything he loved from him, over and over again. Why else?”
Seonghwa sat back again, his chair creaking and breaking the spell.
“That’s a lot of information from a few so-called eyewitnesses,” he scoffed before turning to a hitherto silent Mr. Hwang. But then again, Seonghwa hadn’t been present at the meeting. He’d been eyeing the weapons shipment they were delivering. “Does Yongsun always speak in verse or just when he’s drunk?”
“Always,” the older man grinned as he refilled glasses around the table. “Haven’t you been paying attention?”
Seonghwa couldn’t help but crack a defeated smile as the men laughed at him and ruffled his hair. They loved few things more than drinking and teasing him, and he could hardly complain.
The next evening found him on watch again, but this time Captain Bae pulled him aside beforehand with some extra instructions.
“Be sure to get a high vantage point and scan the surroundings before you finish,” he warned with a sigh. “Mr. Bok’s shift is after yours but he injured his leg and won’t be able to climb to the crow’s nest tonight.”
His orders were technically somewhat vague, and being afraid of heights, Seonghwa wasn’t keen on going up there alone with the wind battering him, so he rationalised his avoidance by picking apart the man’s words and creating his own definition of a “high vantage point.”
Glancing up into the sails, he imagined scaling the rigging and falling to his death and shivered.
No, he didn’t need to go up there. The quarterdeck was high enough to suffice and he saw nothing.
The bell signalling the end of his watch clanged gently and Seonghwa exhaled a shaking breath.
Everything was fine. No Pirate King was hunting them, and the shipment would be delivered safely as usual.
As he settled into his hammock and pulled his blanket tight around him, he didn’t know of the silent ship following just out of range.
They were being watched for the perfect opportunity, and he had just given it to them.
...
A/N: Already a huge event in the Treasure timeline is on the horizon! Excited to see what happens next? Don’t forget to drop a comment and follow on Twitter for more behind the scenes snippets <3
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aerica13 · a year ago
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@alicenginger tagged me:
rules: tag 9 people you would like to know better/catch up with!
Last song: no body no crime by Taylor Swift (which I absolutely adore and highly recommend if you haven’t heard it yet)
Last movie: Knives Out! Finally had the chance to get my dad to watch it; still just as amazing the fourth or fifth time watching XD
Currently watching: When I’m not watching Haven S5 with @alicenginger, I’m watching the Great British Baking Show
Currently reading: ...A bunch of Supernatural finale fix-it and/or extremely AU fanfics. Not doing much print book reading, although I’m going to be doing a bunch once the semester starts (thank you Seminar on Popular Materials)
Currently craving: My mom’s carrot cake, since she and my sister are discussing making it soon sitting across from me and I’m so beyond ready XD
Currently playing: MONSTER PROM. So much Monster Prom, I love this game so very much and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s a) loves the chaos of Tumblr and b) not really a video games fan because I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised like I was!
Tagging: @paalme, @grayraincurtain, @broken-pumpkin-l-o-v-e, @shores-of-my-heart, @zachattack1776, @presidenthades, @distant-rose, @shireness-says, @captain-truffles - and of course, as always, no pressure if you’d rather not :)
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ts1depot · a year ago
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Pics of Another TS3 World in the Works...
So, if you read my last post, you know that I’m busy troubleshooting my current WIP, Pottersville. In the meantime, here are some preview pics of another world that I have on the back burner, based on the open worlds of both Saints Row and GTA V, with a touch of Starlight Shores...
▼ Below is one corner of the world. As you can see, I’m primarily working on terrain paint right now so that it blends in with the distant terrain.
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▼ This area below doesn’t look like much, but this is where the rural/country part of this world is located. It will have the train from World Adventures running through town like clockwork!
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▼ This is just a little southwest from the rural area of this world, with the movie studio district to the left. There will be a few modernist mansions located in the surrounding hills here. 
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▼ Studio area at ground level. The mountain in the background I plan to make bigger and taller, because I like how the mountain looks in Starlight Shores. This one right now looks a little too wimpy, more like a molehill.
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▼ Studio area from different angle. These set of roads will lead into Downtown that will look a little bit like Starlight Shores, since both will be based on LA.
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▼ Two modernist mansions overlooking the studio district. Across the water (where the lighthouse is) will be the poor/industrial district, which is still pretty much unfinished.
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tombeane-blog · a month ago
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Federalism Versus Centralism
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World"
Tears For Fears
There were multiple state abortion cases winding their way to the Supreme Court.  Different states put varying time limitations on the right to an abortion - until a heartbeat, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 20 weeks, 26 weeks, unlimited to the moment of birth. 
Are we really believing that it is the job of 9 people on the Supreme Court to morally or scientifically determine which of these should be the law of the land?
The Supreme Court's Roe V Wade Decision wasn't just about abortion.
The decision was about the Constitution itself.  And maybe now the left and the right will come to an agreement on something after all.
The Framers of the Constitution realized that different states had different priorities.  And that the original states did not necessarily share a common set of principles or values.    
Heck, some states didn't even like each other.
Hence, America became a Federation of States not a Country. The Founders were very clear they wanted a federation of states with a very much constrained federalist authority.  The specific responsibilities of the federal government were clearly defined and then limited to that definition by the 10th Amendment.
The revolution was all about throwing off authoritative control from a centralized and unresponsive government in far away England.  Many colonists even resisted forming a federal union at all because of the fear of recreating the same thing within our shores - thereby ceding control to some distant centralized authority. 
A lot of arguing took place in Philadelphia from May to September, 1787.
For many decades now a lot of law has been made by 9 unelected judges and increasingly more control has been given to one person and to a massive and growing array of Bureaucratic Departments.  In many cases we are now ruled not by legitimate laws passed by Congress but by Executive Orders and rules within the Department of Education, the Bureau of Land Management, the FHA, the EPA, DHS, etc, etc, etc.  
Can anyone deny that this massive federal machine is easily corrupted, generally incompetent and incapable of administering laws and rules across a nation as diverse as the various states that comprise the United States?  Especially when the number one priority of elected federal officials and unelected bureaucrats is getting re-elected or maintaining their bureaucracies?(*)
That's why today every major ideological disagreement has to go to the Supreme Court - where a ruling is made as much on the ideologies or emotions of the judges as it is on it's original intent - i.e., does it adhere to the U.S. Constitution?  
Why?  Because many of these orders and rules weren't passed by elected representatives that could be held to account.  And that is why you hear so many arguments to the Supreme Court about fairness or equity or emotions (people will be harmed!  it's not fair!)  Those are legislative arguments, not Constitutional arguments.
Allowing 9 unelected persons to effectively make law is problematic, ensures disagreement and is dangerous to the future of the United States of America.
Dobbs v. Jackson:  "the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives".
Does that sound Authoritarian?  Does that destroy democracy or enshrine it?
The Founders were not interested in one size fits all solutions from a central government.  Just the opposite.  They structured the U.S. Constitution specifically to prevent it.  
5 Supreme Court Judges just agreed with the Founders.
That's the Laboratory of Liberty and Freedom as it was designed in 1787.
People move from state to state for many reasons.  Taxes, laws, climate, culture, jobs, health, etc.  Unlimited access to abortion may well become one of those reasons.
The abortion debate now comes to your state -  to you - and to your elected representatives.  As the Founders intended.
Will abortion over time be rationalized throughout the country as each state learns from the others what works and what it's people want?  Will it eventually become available nationwide with limitations such as pills contraceptives and legal, available, early termination?  If so, neither side may be completely satisfied but most will finally accept it as legitimate law.
The Supreme Court has ruled generally from the left and center-left for decades.  
Now it would appear to some to be right and center-right - although that is misleading.  Deciding based on the Constitution appears far right to some, but isn't it really just making sure the laws are aligned with the only constant definition of America?  
The Constitution is not a set of laws.  It was never intended to be.  It is a guiding document.  The details were purposefully left to the people.
It is the definition of a process whereby the people and their elected representatives within a federation of states govern themselves.  
The Supreme Court was designed to manage the process, not dictate the outcome.
And, maybe a Constitutionalist Supreme Court - limiting centralized government as the framers intended - will now lead the left to understand the wisdom of not relying on 9 unelected serve-for-life persons, centralized Executive Orders and federal Nameless Bureaucracies for rules and laws and dictates - but - on the legislative process and the will of their own elected state representatives and their fellow citizens.  The people closest to you.  And your values.  And your problems.
The 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Is it possible we may all finally agree on that?
(*)The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was created in 1967 when people only had access to a few broadcast stations with limited viewing fare.  Is this still a problem?  Well, we still have the CPB.  National Public Radio anyone?  And to this day the federal government pays farmers to not grow crops and even destroys some crops to keep prices artificially high.  (Vote for me Mr. Farmer!)
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neonaltarofthedraoi · 3 months ago
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Twilight Hours - Sadakichi Hartmann
The colors of the rainbow are fading in the silent       and distant West, and the heartache of       twilight trembles within my aching breast.
   For the light of my love has faded like sunbeams          in the West, and the color of twilight will          tremble forever in my breast.
                                   II
I think of thy kindness often, when lonesome I feel       and cold, I have not forgotten our childhood,       nor your loving words of old.
   And still my sweetest songs of life are floating          in dreams to thee, like whisperings at eventide,          across a clouded sea.
                                   III
We two are sitting in the bark, and listen to the       wavelets’ play, the shore is melting in the       dark, day’s echoes silently decay.
   Oh life, with all thy hopes so fair, wilt thou          too float away, like visions rising in the          air that greet the parting day!
                                   IV
She stands amidst the roses, and tears dart from her       eyes that like the fragrant roses her soul       must fade and die.
   He stares at the twilight ocean on the shore of a          foreign land, a faded rose is trembling          within his soft white hand.
                                   V
The rushes whisper softly, the sounds of silence wake,       large flowers like sad remembrance float       on the dark green lake.
   Were life but like the waters, so bright and calm          and deep, and love like floating flowers          that on the surface meet.
                                   VI
The naked trees of autumn grope shivering through       twilight’s gloom, athwart the whispering branches       its dying embers loom.
   I dream of life’s defoliation, as I watch with          silent dread, leaf after leaf departing, like          hopes long withered and dead.
                                  VII
In haunting hours of twilight dreams restless the       turbulent sea, and heaves her white wanton       bosom in endless mystery.
   Dream on, dream on, titanic queen, beloved sea, at          thy wanton breast, I would find rest          in endless mystery.
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seekfirst-community · 3 months ago
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The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager © 2022. Don's website is located at Dailyscripture.net
Meditation: Does the Lord Jesus ever seem distant to you? When John recounted the scene of the apostles being alone at sea in a storm he described the situation as "dark" (John 6:17). It was dark not only physically but spiritually as well. Although they were experienced fishermen, they were fearful for their lives. The Lord's sudden presence - and his supernatural ability to walk towards them on top of the rough waves of the sea - only made them more fearful! John says they were frightened. And Jesus had to calm them with a reassuring command: "Do not be afraid because I am here with you!"
The Lord Jesus is a very present help in trouble
Aren't we like the apostles when we experience moments of darkness, fear, and trials? While the Lord may at times seem absent or very distant to us, he, nonetheless, is always present and close-by. The Scriptures remind us that the Lord is "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Whatever storms may beset us, he promises to "bring us to our desired haven" and place of calm rest and safety (Psalm 107:29-30). The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. Do you rely on the Lord for his strength and help?
Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we put our trust in him and in his great love and care for us. When calamities or trials threaten to overwhelm you, how do you respond? With faith and hope in God's love, personal care, and presence with you?
"Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your saving help and your watchful presence in my life, especially in times of trouble. Fortify my faith with courage and give me enduring hope that I may never waver in my trust in you."
The following reflection is from One Bread, One Body courtesy of Presentation Ministries © 2022.
time out
“They wanted to take Him into the boat, but suddenly it came aground on the shore they had been approaching.” —John 6:21
Jesus is the Lord of time. He can make time go backward (Is 38:8) or stand still (Jos 10:13). He made it possible for His disciples to go a few miles across the Sea of Galilee literally “in no time” (see Jn 6:21).
Jesus even gives us the power to move up the clock. The Blessed Virgin Mary seems to have moved up the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry (Jn 2:4ff). The Syro-Phoenician woman seems to have “fast forwarded” Jesus’ ministry to the Gentiles (see Mt 15:24, 28). Jesus even lets us hasten the time for His final coming (see 2 Pt 3:12). We are not helpless cogs on the wheel of time, but, as Christians, we share in Jesus’ lordship over time.
The Lord created time by creating the heavenly bodies (Gn 1:14). Satan used time to dominate us when he brought death into the world through our sins. Jesus freed us from the bondage of time and death by His death and Resurrection. He gave us power over time by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will finally end time when He comes back on the last day, at the end of time, to take us with Him to the happiness of eternity. Because of Jesus’ Resurrection, time is our servant, not our master. Praise Jesus, the Lord of time!
Prayer:  Jesus, may I give You my time and let You be Lord of it.
Promise:  “The word of God continued to spread, while at the same time the number of the disciples in Jerusalem enormously increased.” —Acts 6:7
Praise:  Pope St. Pius V accomplished much in his six-year pontificate. He implemented the decrees of the Council of Trent and promulgated the resulting catechism in 1566.
Reference:  (For a related teaching on Interpreting the Present Time, listen to, download or order our CD 81-1 or DVD 81 on our website.)
Rescript:  "In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat for the publication One Bread, One Body covering the time period from April 1, 2022 through May 31, 2022. Reverend Steve J. Angi, Chancellor, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 3, 2021"
The Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat agree with the contents, opinions, or statements
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