#but it's an unfortunate fact of her powers that everyone else's day hinges on her being able to manage her emotions
chasingpj · 10 months ago
𝐔𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐑𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐳𝐯𝐨𝐮𝐬
"I might spread a rumor about you and Percy rendezvousing at midnight. The Aphrodite cabin will have a hoot with that one."
pairing: percy jackson x child of hecate!reader
words: 4,931
warnings: none
timeline: post sea of monsters
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a/n: hi hi! this is part one of a self-insert series I'm working on. in this story, y/n is a child of hecate, and this storyline follows the books. the current timeline here is post sea of monsters and will continue through the Heroes of Olympus books. though it follows the original plot, y/n has her own storyline and quests. i tried to make y/n gender-neutral but as I continued to work on the timeline for this project, i had decided that this fic is for a fem reader. guys, this is really just me projecting my fantasy into fanfiction lol. i feel like this is a slow start?? and there is a lot of info dumped in this so bear with me. it'll get better and I'll be working to improve my writing as the series continues. I was on a writing hiatus for a really long time and I'm out of practice so this is my way to get back and hopefully, exceed the skills I had when I was a consistent writer. anyways, if you have any feedback, let me know! I'd love to hear what you think. as i get deeper into the series, i might ask for some suggestions on what to do with the fic. anyways, i'll stop rambling and i hope you like it!
Part One Part Two
You ignore the aching in your neck as your focus is fixed on the herbology book in front of you. You’ve been seated at your desk for Zeus knows how long reading and taking notes in your Book of Shadows, determined to finish reading it as fast as possible. Your half-brother, Alabaster, insisted that you need to memorize all the herbs and their properties before he can properly teach you how to use them in potions. Even though you understand its importance, you hated introductory work. You are itching to get to the real stuff, resulting in you glued to your chair, studying through the night as your cabin mates were fast asleep in their beds. But as determined as you are, Ambrose, your familiar, wasn’t much help. Ambrose whines as he rubs his head against your legs like a needy kitten, making it difficult to ignore him.
“What is it, Ambrose?” You whisper, sitting back in your chair in defeat. You take a second to massage the back of your sore neck before turning to face the translucent hound sitting attentively at your side. His tail sweeps the floor as it wags excitedly, and a short huff leaves his snout as if he was proud to have finally gotten your attention.
Your eyes meet his, racking your mind to figure out what Ambrose needs to tell you. At first, you thought he wanted to play, but you didn’t have time for that, so you decided to ignore him. Usually, after being ignored for a while, Ambrose will give up, finding something else to occupy him. But tonight, he was particularly persistent, and he’s only like this when he needs to tell you something.
Before you can ask what he wanted again, Ambrose gets up from his seated position, running over to the small table that stands beside your bed. You furrow your eyebrows, the first thing you notice when you walk over are your crystals neatly placed in front of your spell books as usual. Seeing them made you suddenly remember what you had planned to do.
You had told Ambrose to remind you to charge your crystals and collect water from the lake since there is a full moon tonight and of course, Ambrose being your loyal companion, did exactly that. Before looking down at the hound, who now is breathing heavily, his tail somehow wagging faster than before, you smile to yourself.
“I told you to remind me earlier, didn’t I?” Ambrose snorts and runs around your feet enthusiastically. You couldn’t help but giggle at his excitement as you reached down to pat his head. “Good boy. What would I do without you?” You continue to praise him, grabbing a black pouch and carefully placing the crystals in it. You put your index finger to your lips, signaling Ambrose to be a little quieter despite his excitement. If he accidentally wakes anyone up, then you definitely weren’t going to be able to fulfill your plans.
You bite your bottom lip as you tiptoe out of the aisle between the bunks. You look around the notoriously cramped Hermes Cabin to make sure your assumption that everyone was asleep by now was correct. It wasn’t hard to make out the faces of your cabin mates since seeing clearly in the dark was one of your many gifts, so you carefully walked along the bunks, being as quiet as you could. You are especially cautious as you approach the front where your cabin leaders, the Stoll brothers, slept. You study them for a second, knowing for sure Travis was asleep since he was snoring and loudly at that. Before you can check if Connor is asleep, you hear him shifting in his bed. You stand frozen in your spot, hesitantly looking over and you were expecting to be met with the usual mischievous grin. Instead, his back was towards you now. You have a feeling in your gut that he wasn't asleep, the timing of his moving was much too convenient. You really didn't want to wait any longer though so you decide that you might as well leave before he could stop you.
You turn on your heels, walking over to the window before you push it open. You cringe softly as the hinges creak, and you look back at the cabin to double-check if anyone has woken up from the sound. You sigh in relief when you see no one has moved, and you turn back to the window, carefully crawling out of it. This wasn’t unusual for you. You’ve done this so many times that using windows as a mode of exiting and entering a room was as natural to you as walking in and out of a door, and soon you were hopping down onto the grass. Your back is pressed against the cabin as you walk the side of it. You look up at the trees and the sky, eyes scoping around for any harpies hanging around. After deeming that you were alone, you begin making your way to the lake, Ambrose walking by your side attentively and cautiously to make sure you are safe.
The night was clear; the stars and especially the moon shone brightly in the sky. You sigh softly, taking in the stillness of the night, admiring the glistening lake reflecting the full moon placed above it. You’ve always enjoyed how quiet and cool the nights were, preferring it more than the daytime.
Unfortunately, you couldn’t avoid it as much as you wish to. Most of your siblings can agree with you that they’d prefer to sleep in most days so that they can study and practice their magic at night. However, that wasn’t the schedule of the Hermes Cabin. It was pretty impossible to sleep in since the mornings were always hectic. In fact, the cabin was just hectic, period. There was always something going on, whether it was an elaborate prank or the guys arguing over who gets to shower first after coming back from training which usually resulted in an intense game of rock, paper, scissors. You can’t say that you didn’t like it; at least you were entertained.
You also always had someone to talk to, and because there were often new campers coming in and out of there, you have easily familiarized yourself with a lot of the kids at camp. However, like your mother, you did enjoy and yearn for the occasional periods of solitude. As fun as living with the Hermes kids was, you and your siblings did find yourselves getting a little irritable at their shenanigans. It was at those times, you did wish that your mother, Hecate, had a designated cabin.
You and your siblings had always said if they ever got a cabin of their own, they would make sure everyone had separate rooms and would have designated spaces to socialize and practice their magic so that it was quiet for the most part. Alabaster, especially, was really passionate about this topic. He complained how it didn’t make sense that your mother wasn't recognized since you and your siblings were a powerful little bunch. You all needed a space to practice your magic and practice preferably at night since you were the most powerful at that time of day; you were also less prone to making mistakes in your spell casting at night. You agreed with him and would get upset about it sometimes, but the Hermes Cabin was a place you considered to be a second home. The communal feel of the space was something you enjoyed, it was one of the few places where you felt fully accepted which was rare to find being a demi-god with abilities like yours. In return to the Hermes Cabin welcoming you with open arms, you accept the inconveniently loud environment as an admirable quirk and went on with your days.
Then to compensate for the lack of silence and solitude, you would often stay up late, taking advantage of the quiet to focus on your studies. Even if you had to sacrifice the amount of sleep you got, you felt like it was worth it.
It doesn’t take you long to arrive at the dock, sitting down close to the end with your legs folded under you. You first collect lake water in a jar before carefully taking out the pouch's crystals. Assuming you had only a few left in the pouch after laying most of them on the dock, you tilt it with your hand under it, only for the crystals to come out all at once. You fumble, hands trying to bring them to your chest, but with your luck, one of your crystals falls right into the water with a plop.
“Dammit!” You peer over the edge and groan, Ambrose whining at your misfortune as he stands beside you. You look down at the water, noticing Ambrose’s and your dim reflection in it. There was no way you could get that crystal now because you didn't know how to swim, and you consider that maybe tomorrow you can convince your twin brother, Atticus, to look for it or Alabaster if Atticus refused, which you were expecting him to.
Your breath hitches at the back of your throat, jumping back as a head of dark hair abruptly pops up from right where you were staring. Ambrose barks loudly next to you, equally as startled, and your eyes widen. You stand up hastily at the realization that Ambrose's loud barks in the dead of night will catch the attention of the harpies, and right now, that was more important to you than the mysterious person that just sprouted up in the water like a zombie coming out of a grave.
“Shush! Ambrose, quiet!” Your frantic command was enough to make him stop with a whine, and you sigh shakily, turning towards the camp to check if there were any harpies.
“I think you dropped something.” Ambrose moves in front of you protectively, a low growl coming from his chest as he cautiously studies the person. You look back where the voice came from and to your surprise and your relief, you find that the mysterious person in the lake was no other than Percy Jackson. You never had a conversation with him before, but you definitely knew about him. It was kind of hard not to know who he is since he’s been the talk of the camp since he’s arrived. Your thoughts about him weren’t any different from most of the camp. You’ve seen him fight and use his powers during capture the flag, and you were just as impressed as everyone else. You did have to admit that you found him to be pretty cute too. His eyes were gorgeous, clear, and bright like a shallow, cyanic sea. You also found it adorable how his hair always looked a little disheveled.
Your (e/c) eyes met Percy’s green ones before looking at your rose quartz in his hand. You smile sheepishly, noticing the amused look on his face.
“Ah, yeah, that’s mine.” You walk over to him, but as you get closer, so does Ambrose, and his growls get louder. "Ambrose, heel. It's okay," you say softly, and he stops in his place, but his stance is still at alert, his eyes watching Percy cautiously. You pat Ambrose's head before walking past him and over to Percy. "Thanks," you smile, taking your rose quartz from his hand.
"No problem… I don't think your ghost dog likes me," Percy jokes, moving to look past your legs at Ambrose, who’s standing tall on your left side.
"Yeah, well, you kinda scared the crap out of us," you point out, amused. You take in Percy's goofy smile as he pulls himself up from the water, and you notice that he’s completely dry as he settles on the edge before turning his body to look at you.
“It’s y/n, right?” He asks, and you nod, figuring he’s probably heard about you in passing from Connor and Travis since he was friends with them too. “What are you doing out here so late?"
"I could ask you the same thing," you retort playfully, making him smile. You move to sit down where you were standing. You spread the crystals neatly on the wood, making a mental note to get them before you go to bed.
"I couldn't sleep, so I came out here to hang out, but then a hippocampus swam up. One of its friends got stuck in a fisher's net not too far from here, so I went to help," he explains, and you nod. "I told you my excuse, so what's yours?"
You hum, "It's a full moon out tonight, so I thought I should take my crystals out. I also needed moon water for a potion, so I collected some for that," you point over at the big mason jar full of lake water. "It’s not as cool as your excuse,” you say playfully.
A short laugh comes from Percy, and when you look up from your crystals, you notice he was looking at Ambrose again, who was still in his tense stance. Ambrose was especially protective of you and Atticus, and it wasn’t unusual for him to be cautious of the new people you come across. You assumed that Ambrose was particularly tense with Percy since he had successfully caught you both by surprise.
"Ambrose, relax.” You pat the top of his head to soothe him. "Lay down." Ambrose whines, licking your hand affectionately for a little, and you can tell he was still uneasy about the other. He was hesitant, but he follows your command anyway, laying down with his head on your lap.
"You can touch him?" Percy asks, his eyes wide and curious as he watches you pet Ambrose.
"Yeah, I can touch ghosts in general. My mother is Hecate, goddess of necromancy, along with magic, the night and the moon," you tell him. "This is Ambrose. My mother gifted him to me to be my familiar, kinda like a guardian." You look down at the hound, smiling softly as you scratch behind his ear softly.
Ambrose is a burly Molossian Hound who lived in the time of Alexander The Great. From what your father told you, his breed was well valued in Ancient Greek and Roman times and was often used in war. It is easy to understand why the breed was used in war. Ambrose is huge and muscular, about 6 feet tall when he stands on his hind legs, and he weighs around 200 pounds. At first, Ambrose can come off as a little intimidating. You remember how your siblings had avoided him when you first arrived at camp before they realized that he was the clearest definition of a gentle giant. Even though he was trained to fight when he was alive, he was still as gentle as a well-trained house dog unless he was given a reason not to be.
"When did you get him?" Percy asks, his eyes focusing on Ambrose’s translucent body that looked like it is made up of this gray swirling vapor. He couldn’t exactly wrap his head around how Ambrose’s head was comfortably propped up on your thigh.
"We met on the night I was on my way to Camp so about 2 years ago. Without him, my brother and I probably would have never made it to the borders.” You look up at Percy, meeting his eyes again; you watch as his face softens as he shifts to lean back on his hand.
"Really?" You hum and nod, ready to drop the conversation there, thinking you shouldn’t bore him with the details. You didn’t really like talking about it much, but the way he was looking at you made you feel like he was inviting you to continue talking.
"We got separated from our father at the gas station a couple of miles away from here. He went inside the convenience store to get us snacks, and while he was in there, a cyclops had found us, tried to grab us out of his car. We jumped out and ran into the woods nearby," you explain as you look out at the dark horizon.
You remember the sound of your father yelling after you and Atticus and how it broke your heart hearing, for the first time, such despair in his voice. You knew your dad didn’t want to bring you guys to camp, but he knew it was in Atticus’s and your best interest to come here and be with other people like you guys.
When you and Atticus started developing your powers, your father had simply told you guys that you were special and to refrain from using your telekinesis anywhere else but home. He didn’t say anything more until one night, you and Atticus had gotten in a screaming match about a reason you don’t even remember. However, in your screaming match, the both of you were so angry that a green aura had formed around you both, and books, magazines, even cutlery were being flown across the room because of the sheer energy you were admitting as a unit. It was then your father had decided to take you and Atticus to the camp to control and learn about your powers before you guys destroyed the house over a dumb argument like who’s turn is it to have the TV remote.
"We were more concerned about the monster hurting our dad, so we decided on a whim to run in the forest. My brother and I have telekinesis powers, and I aimed well enough to send a rock right at the cyclops eye. We lost him a little after that, but we didn't know where we were. We made too many twists and turns; we had no idea what direction we came from. And then, this buddy appeared out of nowhere from a distance. I saw him glowing from far away and couldn’t make out what he was, but I felt that I had to follow him. So we did, and he got us to camp with no detours for any other monsters. He's been with me ever since," you say, and a low whine comes from Ambrose’s mouth as he nuzzles the side of his face on your thigh contentedly.
Percy nods, and he huffs softly, "You guys got lucky. How old were you and your brother when you got to camp?"
"12, we're twins. We actually got here a couple of weeks after you did,” you mention. You watch Percy’s mouth curve into a half-smirk.
“Wow," he says, amused, and shakes his head. “So you have a twin and a dead dog, no fair," he jokes. You giggle, rolling your eyes playfully,
"Oh please, and you have crazy water powers. You’re completely dry after swimming! I think that's pretty envy-worthy."
"Hey-,” he shrugs, taking a second as if to form a protest. “I guess you're right,” he admits and laughs. You laugh with him, opening your mouth to say something else but unfortunately, you were interrupted by a screech echoing in the distance.
Both you and Percy stand up quickly, trying to figure out which direction it came from. “The harpies,” you both mutter in unison. You bend down to grab your things, and you look at Ambrose.
"Go distract them, bud," you tell him, and Ambrose jumps up to his feet, and you watch as he runs away, barking to get their attention. Just then, you see the wings of the Harpies coming up from the trees of the forest. You turn to Percy, grabbing his hand quick,
“Incantare: Transpectus!" You exclaim confidently, closing your eyes to envision you and Percy becoming transparent on the dock. You've never tried doing this spell before, but you've gotten better at visualizing and setting intentions, so you had some hope in yourself. You open your eyes, not feeling any different, and you hoped that you just didn't make a fool of yourself in front of Percy. But when you look down at your hand hesitantly and notice it was hard to make out since you were see-through like glass, you sigh in relief. You smile to yourself, more than satisfied that you were able to pull that off.
"Woah, are we invisible?" You look over at Percy, able to see him just fine since he was under the spell with you. Percy looks down at himself, eyes widened as he processes he can’t see his body anymore. You observe him for a second, finding it cute how he looked surprised and obviously entertained at the fact that he was completely see-through. You feel yourself growing a little flustered, trying not to focus too much on the fact that you were holding hands with him.
"Something like that. C'mon, it won’t last too long," you whisper, and your grip around his hand tightens as you guys begin running to his cabin. You hear the harpies screeching in frustration as they swoop down to try and grab Ambrose, only for their claws to go right through him. While the harpies were growing more annoyed, Ambrose, on the other hand, was having way too much fun, running in circles and barking at them as if he’s teasing.
"Man, I wish I had a ghost dog," you hear Percy mutter behind you as you arrive at the steps of his cabin.
"Yeah, Ambrose is pretty great," you admit, watching him play with the harpies before shifting your gaze over to Percy. "Thanks for getting the crystal for me." As much as you wanted to stay talking to him, you knew you couldn't stay too long. You were still eager to finish studying, and Ambrose can only hold off the harpies for so long.
"It was no problem. It was on my way up anyways," he shrugs, and you smile, trying to ignore the fluttering feeling in your stomach. You look down, the two of you still holding hands even though the spell wore off already. You awkwardly let go of his hand, shifting on your feet.
"Well, I'll see you around," you say sheepishly, fiddling with your fingers.
"Yeah, I'll see you.” His hand comes up in an awkward wave. You nod, returning the wave. Your eyes meet Percy’s green ones one more time before turning on your heels and walking down the steps of his cabin. You notice that Ambrose is now long gone into the forest, taking the harpies with him to give you time to rush to the other side where your cabin is.
As you hurry back to your cabin, you couldn’t help but smile to yourself as you replayed the interaction you just had with Percy, and you couldn't help but wonder when would be the next time you could talk to him.
You carefully hoist yourself up, climb back into the cabin through the window, sighing softly once you get in. You slowly close the window, your face scrunching at the creaking sound, but you successfully get it closed before turning around, only to be faced with Connor Stoll standing a few feet away with his arms crossed over his chest. You gasp loudly, almost dropping the mason jar in your hand, being startled for the second time tonight.
“Oh, look who’s back,” he says, his lips pulled in his usual mischievous smirk, his right eyebrow raised as if he's suspicious of you. You shift, giggling nervously under his graze,
"Hey, Con.” Shit. You knew he wasn’t asleep, and a part of you wasn’t surprised that he had caught you sneaking out again. You weren’t too worried since Connor wasn’t one to be strict or easily angered, neither was Travis, but you can understand if he did get a little upset with you since the cabin could also get in trouble, and he worried about you getting hurt.
"You leave so often, I'm starting to think you're seeing someone," he teases, and you furrow your eyebrows, not really sure what he was trying to get at.
"I'm not seeing anyone. You know what I do when I sneak out," you tell him, putting your hand out to show him the jar full of water. After being caught the first couple of times, you had explained to Connor why you occasionally needed to head out at night. He was understanding of your reasons, telling you to try and not sneak out as often. When he did catch you, he always kept your outings secret. It came with a price, though. You were sometimes stuck doing extra chores, especially anything that had to do with cleaning, since he hated doing anything that had to do with mopping or sweeping.
"So that wasn't you and Percy on the dock?" Your eyes widen, and you feel your face get hot again. You shake your head, stumbling over your words for a second.
"Uh… n- that was a coincidence!" You hear him snort, laughing quietly as if he didn't believe you. Even though he couldn't see your facial expression very well in this lighting, he can still tell how flustered you were at his sudden question.
"Yeah, sure," he says sarcastically, and he hums, "Anyways, what are you going to do for me so that I don't tell on you?" He asks, and your mouth drops open. Usually, he wasn't so forward, and he never threatened to tell on you. "I might spread a rumor about you and Percy rendezvousing at midnight. The Aphrodite cabin will have a hoot with that one."
You gasp, "Connor, are you blackmailing me right now?" You narrow your eyes at him, and he shrugs,
"I guess you can say I am." You shake your head, walking over to your desk to put down your moon water before turning toward him and crossing your arms in front of your chest.
"... what do you want?" You ask, expecting him to make you take up one of his chores. But from the way he was smiling at you, you can tell that there was something more he wanted, and you were beginning to worry.
"Help me turn the Ares Cabin into bunnies," he says, and you shake your head frantically,
"No way! Clarisse will kill me," you whisper. Connor smiles,
"No, she won't. She can't kill you if she's a bunny," he points out, and your face falls flat,
"They're not gonna stay bunnies forever," you say, and you fiddle with your fingers nervously at the idea of the outrage you'd get from the Ares Cabin after shifting back from being bunnies. "I don't know, Con. I don't even know if I can turn all of them into bunnies at once."
Connor waves his hand at you, dismissing your concern. "I don't care for the logistics now. We can work on that later, but you have to agree to at least help me," he says. "Or I'm telling everyone I saw you smooching Percy on the dock."
"What!? We didn't even kiss. We talked for like 5 minutes!" You whisper-yell, your reactions much too entertaining for him, and he was having a hard time holding in his laugh.
"Your decision, y/n."
You sigh, throwing your head back. You look at the ceiling for a second as you consider your two choices. And you decide that getting your head potentially put on a stick by Clarisse was better than the burning embarrassment of Percy thinking you're spreading rumors about kissing him. "Fine, whatever. I'll help you do the bunny thing," you mumble, your shoulders slouched.
Connor nods with a proud smile on his face for trapping you into helping him. "Good choice. I will be going back to sleep now. Good night… again," he announces, turning on his heels and walking over to his bed. You frown a little as you walk back to your desk to study. Plopping down onto your chair, you decide that you’ll worry about Connor’s little plan later so you can focus on your studying. After a while, Ambrose comes trotting in, joining you by the desk as usual. You smile at him, praising the other for distracting the harpies for you before he lays down, his head laying on your foot.
As you study, you find that you couldn’t help your mind drifting back to Percy once and a while. You deem that there was no way that you could have a crush on him since you guys have only spoken once. In the midst of your internal debate to decide what you felt for him, you suddenly remember the crystal that was retrieved for you. You remember how Percy presented it to you, holding it out for you with his fingertips. It was your rose quartz. What a coincidence. You smile, rolling your eyes as you tell yourself that you’re thinking too much into it. You look over, noticing the dim illuminating light of the beginning sunrise shining through the curtains. You sigh, deciding that you should probably get to sleep and take advantage of the maybe, four hours of sleep you’ll get tonight. You close your herbology book before making your way to your bed, and with a soft sigh, you retreat under the covers, and finally, you surrender to your drowsiness.
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jaskiersvalley · 9 months ago
So I just discovered your maned wolf Jaskier and I thought I might add something I know about them. As the original person mentioned they are not foxes or wolves but more like a wild dog but not. They are their own thing. Also their pee smells like marijuana. I've seen some at the the national zoo in D.C. they do better in pairs or with company then on their own. The last one they had before the pair of brothers they had when I went didn't do good on their own. Their legs are sk long because they are made to see over tall grass. I love manned wolves they are so unique.
This is such a delightful bunch of facts about maned wolves! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I adored finding out more about these fascinating creatures. As thanks, here’s a slightly different take on maned wolf!Jaskier for you.
True Colours
It was rare for graduates of Aretuza to get together. Mostly because their motives and goals were rather at odds with each other usually so it wasn't a good idea to get together. Things could get rather unpleasant. But, once in a while, they could set their ambitions aside and enjoy each other's company.
"I'm telling you, she was scum," Yennefer giggled, leaning into Fringilla's shoulder. "You can do miles better."
"I just wish I'd known what she was like before I wasted all that time on her." Nursing a freshly broken heart, Fringilla was eager for any kindness her peers would show her. "Humans are scum."
All too eager to agree, Yennefer nodded along. Humans were rather unfortunate creatures, she couldn't really help with that, ridding the Continent of them was quite unethical. But the thing about true colours, she could most definitely help with that.
"I've got the perfect spell! We can reveal the whole Continent's true colours." Laughter went up around them at the declaration and Yennefer sniffed as she straightened up. "You can all help. Or watch and learn."
It was quite amazing, how much power five drunken sorceresses could harness. The spell took a considerable amount of rather raw, unrefined Chaos and they all sprawled on the ground in a sweaty pile by the time it was done. Alas, in their drunken stupor, they noted that the spell had done nothing other than make the sky flash and rumble in an ever spreading wave until it moved out of sight.
The next morning they were all suitably hungover and more than ready to return to their usual duties. There was only so much time they could spend with each other before the truce ended and they were at each other's throats again.
Somewhere else on the Continent it was another beautiful day for Jaskier to follow Geralt around. He said follow because he'd once again managed to piss his boyfriend off and sent him stomping off ahead.
"Look, all I said was that you'd look better if you just glowered a little less," Jaskier grumbled. The lute case bounced against his back like it always did when he did a little jog to keep up with Geralt. "You do give the wrong impression sometimes. I swear you do this deliberately, hide the fact you're an absolutely cuddly sweetheart under all those onion-y layers of doom, gloom and...I have nothing that rhymes. Broom? Shroom? Groom? Fume! Because you're fuming!"
Funnily enough, it did nothing to ease Geralt's sulk but Jaskier was undeterred. This was nothing more than a blip in the journey of their love. A bit of bad weather, not even a storm.
They wandered in a manner Jaskier would call aimless while Geralt described as optimal in the hunt for a contract. At least it got them to a town in decent time, the soft summer light enough to get to an inn for food and a performance. Jaskier was ecstatic.
His set was going great, everyone was merry, having a blast as he belted out shanty after drinking song. Ale flowed, as did the coin. The sun was setting and he set his lute aside for a quick break. One moment he was staring out over the tavern and the next the world lurched. He was shorter, on all fours and everything looked and smelled different. Especially the patrons. A variety of animals stared back at him before pandemonium exploded. Most creatures reared back, staring in terror into the corner Geralt had been in, which was quite glaringly empty.
"What has that bastard done to us?" The cry went up and the dogs and foxes in the tavern rallied, ready to hunt Geralt down.
"I did nothing." A familiar voice rang through the room and everyone backed away as a harvest mouse climbed onto the table. Cute and defenceless, Geralt stared out at the tavern from the top of the table, nose twitching.
From his vantage point on the stage, with his long legs, Jaskier could see how the villagers weren't convinced. In fact, they saw an easy target and looked ready to exact revenge on an innocent party. Snarling, he raced to the other side of the room and hopped onto the table, towering over Geralt.
"He's innocent." Sharp teeth were bared fiercely at the crowd. When it didn't look like they would back down, Jaskier did the only thing he could. He picked Geralt up in his mouth and pretended to swallow while the tiny harvest mouse clambered out the side of his mouth and got lost in Jaskier's thick mane.
The villagers didn't look all that appeased but Jaskier didn't allow them to get out of control.
"Tasted like disappointment. Now. Shall we howl at the moon?" For some reason it seemed to do the trick and the shock of being turned into animals turned into a celebration.
In the morning, everyone was back to their regular human form, including Geralt. They had to make a hasty run from the village before the angry mob punished them for their existence.
"Whew! That was exciting. But also, what the fuck happened?"
There were no answers. Each night, as the sun set, they changed into animal form. Jaskier a maned wolf, Geralt a harvest mouse.
"I can't work like this," Geralt growled. "We're getting to the bottom of this."
Only, there seemed to be no help. Everywhere they went, the whole Continent seemed to turn into animals from dusk until dawn. Most villagers were wolves, bears, cats and other animals that could be tamed but the wild, aggressive undertones of predators were still there. A few were goats, cows and sheep, a few bulls. By contrast, courts were full of snakes and birds. Rarer, less straightforward to deal with. In Geralt's opinion, less pleasant to deal with. And no court's sorceress would give him a straight answer. They had to know something, Geralt knew when he was being lied to. But he didn't know what they were hiding.
With no other option, he headed home. Each night he climbed into Jaskier's mane, allowed his boyfriend to keep him safe from owls - some natural, others transformed humans who enjoyed the hunt. At the base of Kaer Morhen, he ran into something most unusual. A hyena gave Jaskier a flat stare from where it was curled in the overgrowth. By its stomach was a capybara and a hare, both looking a bit patchy and weathered. Even more interestingly, there was a cockatoo on the top of its head, eyes closed.
"Friends," Jaskier called, "we come in peace."
Never before had Jaskier felt more threatened than when a capybara and hare looked ready to tear his throat out.
"Eskel. Lambert," Geralt called and climbed to sit on the end of Jaskier's snout. "You made friends."
The hyena got to its feet, looming over the transformed Witchers protectively. "You know these two?"
"Geralt you fuck," the hare growled. "Is this your doing?"
"Would I be here if it was?" Jaskier didn't have to see the harvest mouse's face to know Geralt was rolling his eyes. Still, he tried.
It made the cockatoo screech out a laugh. "Crossed eyes do not become you, weird wolf thing."
Puffing up, Jaskier wanted to object but Geralt cut in. "Leave Jaskier out of this. Who are you travelling with?"
"I'm Aiden," the cockatoo replied, spreading his wings wide and bobbing down in a bird equivalent of a bow. "Cat Witcher by name, cockatoo by nature."
That, Geralt could have guessed, he was much more interested in the hyena who seemed keen to be forgotten. He stared at him until it got awkward.
"Cahir." The name said nothing but there was a broad, southern accent to it. Intrigued, Geralt wished he could take a better look at the man. He would be able to do so in the daylight.
Introductions out of the way, Geralt climbed down, only to scuttle across the gap and climb onto Eskel's back. The capybara grunted sleepily and settled back on the ground.
"Sleep. We've got quite the climb ahead of us tomorrow." At least it was warm, meaning the trek should only take a day without snow impeding them. They'd be home by evening.
They staggered through on four legs the following night. Mostly because Jaskier had insisted on stopping and admiring every angle of every view, sighing wistfully. Finally, they arrived at the door which had been left open a crack, only needing to be nudged open on silent, freshly oiled hinges.
"I was wondering when you'd get home," a voice greeted them. Vesemir did not look impressed as he looked over them. A gopher stared at them with a rather done expression. "Aretuza had a lot to answer for."
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fuckingthefictional · a year ago
Shelby’s stick together
A/N: requested by @shady80smusicsingercolor hope you enjoy, sorry it took so long- I’ve been super busy was college work! Xx
Pairing: Tommy Shelby x Sister! OC
Warnings: swearing, racist slur used in historical context, super fuckin long.
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Olivia Shelby and Linda Shelby did not get on. Plain and simple.
They didn’t get on one bit.
Liv maintained that Linda had barged her way into the family and had forcibly changed Arthur into someone he quite simply was not.
Linda however maintained that Liv was just being bratty and selfish and that she was hogging her brothers all to herself and never wanted them to be happy.
Which was wildly untrue. After all Esme was Liv’s other sister in law and Olivia got on like a house on fire with her.
When they had first met they had only slightly clashed, it wasn’t a big deal.
Arthur strolled up the blackened streets of Small Heath, Linda grasped onto his arm out of what must’ve been fear or anxiety.
To Arthur however he owned the space, people feared him and this place was his home.
He had no issue with the workers or the fire fuelled factories, or the children running barefoot in the streets together- it was as normal as could be, even the whores that littered the corners didn’t cause him to bat an eye.
This was Small Heath. His safe haven.
Linda however was tense on his arm, her eyes shooting around frantically.
It was clear she was afraid of meeting the one and only Olivia Shelby.
Everyone else had been civil to Linda (for Arthur’s sake) but Olivia was another story.
Polly claimed that Olivia had the Gypsy blessing of judgement.
Or being able to tell what a person was truly like- or what their true thoughts were at first glance.
Making Olivia unpredictable in her reactions.
And that was where they first disagreed, The Shelby’s called this power a ‘gift’ or a ‘blessing’, Linda called it Witchcraft and blasphemy in the highest.
Unfortunately it didn’t take long for Arthur to locate where his youngest sibling was (thanks to Jeremiah)
She was down by the cut with Isaiah (which was unsurprising considering the two of them flirted back and forth continuously)
It wasn’t long before the eldest Shelby heard the giggles of Olivia, and the chattering of Isaiah.
“Now what are you two doing out here alone?” Arthur boomed teasingly, purposefully trying to frighten the teens.
“Shit!” Olivia jumped, tumbling backwards and landing with a splash in the river, “Arthur you fucker!”
Linda flinched at the language being used as the other boys laughed heartily and dragged Liv out of the murky depths.
“Liv, this is Linda.” Arthur gestured to the woman stood awkwardly on the bank, “My fiancé.”
Olivia took the woman in, she didn’t like the judgement that lay in her eyes. The slight frown that she tried to keep hidden suggested that she had negative ideas of Olivia already.
Liv was clear on one thing- she didn’t trust Linda one bit.
It was frustrating to Liv. She had always been feisty (courtesy of the Shelby genes and the Gypsy blood running through her veins) but when this ‘good Christian woman’ was around she couldn’t help but make snarky comments.
But that didn’t mean Linda couldn’t hit back with harsher, nastier comments.
The needle that broke the horses back occurred the day before- resulting in Olivia to purchase a train ticket to London to stay with Ada for a while.
She was desperate to get away. The comments coming from her sister in law were enough to beat her down day after day. Liv was certain that Tommy had noticed a difference in her, after all she was closest with him.
All Olivia did yesterday was glare slightly at her sister in law, and in return got a mouthful of insults from the devil blonde.
It hurt, it was embarrassing, and even worse it had hit a sore spot in her heart.
Because Linda had mentioned the Shelby’s mother- more specifically how Olivia was the cause of her own mothers death. How it was all her fault.
That one hit close to home.
And now here Liv was, sat on a train that was heading to London. A train that her family (minus Ada) had no idea she was on.
Tommy was stood at his sisters bedroom door, his fist pounded insistently at the slab of wood.
Every knock that he made were all answered by silence. It made him feel anxious- Liv always answered the door to him. Always.
“Liv?” He presses his ear against the door, “Liv let me in please?”
Tommy twisted the knob again, but the cool metal was still locked against the latch.
If there was one thing that Tommy prided himself on, it was being patient with his youngest sister.
Sure, he was protective of Ada and they got on- but they had never seen eye to eye on most things.
Olivia, however was Tommy’s soft spot. Ever since she was tiny, she’d been able to melt his heart. He’d learnt to be patient for Liv, and he’d continued to do so.
But considering Tommy had been knocking for a good 15 minutes to no response, his worry began to erode at his patience.
Weighing his options, Tommy quickly decided on attacking the door one last time...with a strong kick.
The door cracked and flew off the hinges, leaving splinters littered across the floor.
Only one thing was apparent to Tommy however, the room was empty.
The wardrobe was cleaned out and Liv’s one and only stuffed animal which she slept with was nowhere to be seen.
Tommy’s heart was thumping out of his chest painfully. Olivia wouldn’t just...leave.
Unless she felt as if she was a intruder in her own family or was being pushed away.
He felt his feet thump on the floor, a sign that Tommy was in fact walking away from the room. Moments later he found himself in the betting den.
Esme, Linda and Lizzie were sat at their desks chatting away- as John, Arthur and Polly were crowded around one of the many finance books out of Tommy’s office.
Nobody had seemingly noticed his presence- until he spoke loudly.
“Would anyone care to tell me why the fuck Olivia’s room’s fuckin’ empty and her shit‘s gone.”
Everyone’s head turned sharply at this. Esme, John, Arthur and Polly paced forward- clamouring in confusion and fear.
The only person who was sat still and unbothered was the small figured blonde who perched on her chair, a smug expression painting her lips.
Kings cross station was always busy- it didn’t matter what time you arrived. It was always crowded.
So it was a blessing in disguise that Olivia Shelby was short in stature and could slip through small gaps in the crowds.
Liv didn’t have a plan if she was being honest. She had enough money for a taxi- maybe a hotel room if Ada wasn’t home.
With these new thoughts in her mind, Liv picked up her pace and rushed to the street outside.
It may have been just past 11 o’clock in the morning, when the taxi dropped her off at the street corner where Ada’s home was located.
Olivia, tired and mentally drained, ambled to the front door. She rung the doorbell, waiting as she heard the excited screeches coming from Karl on the other side.
Seconds later, Ada’s face appeared as the door swung open- immediately Liv embraced her older sister, trying to find some comfort.
She was upset and just wanted some peace and time away from the hurtful comments.
When evening fell and the sun crept beyond the horizon, Olivia was awoken from her slumber by the sound of the front door being opened and heavy, rushed footfalls running up the stairs.
Liv could feel her heart rate spike in fear, as she hid under the covers like a young child.
It was Tommy, immediately she came out from the linen sheets, and stared at her brother who came forward and embraced her in a tight hug.
“Thank God you’re okay,” he mumbled into her shoulder, “I thought something bad had happened to you.”
“I’m okay.” Liv whispered back, although it sounded like she was trying to convince herself as she spoke.
Tommy broke the embrace, as he cupped her face in his hands- searching her eyes for truth.
The moment she looked into her older brothers calculating gaze, Liv just found herself breaking down into floods of tears.
The older man perched on his little sisters temporary bed, scooping her up like she weighed nothing and cradling her in his lap- like he did when Liv was little.
Tommy continued to rock his sister comfortingly, it pained him to see someone he loved so much this upset.
Finally the question arose, “Livvy, What’s got you in such a state?” He asked unsure of the response he’d get.
Olivia took a deep, shuddering breath before responding, “Linda, we’ve been arguing for a few months now. I don’t trust her and she doesn’t respect me. I hit her with snarky comments and she hits me back with ones that hurt twice as much.”
Tommy nodded along, it was obvious the two girls didn’t get on. But Olivia just grit her teeth and bared it for Arthur’s sake.
“And for months she’s been saying this horrible stuff, ‘you’re ugly’, ‘you have witches teeth’, ‘freckles make you look like you’re permanently ill’, ‘it’s not surprising that the only boy who’s attracted to you is a negro’, and then yesterday she told me it was my fault that Mother died- that I killed her.” Olivia cried, tears breaking again, “And I hate myself Tommy, I’m unlovable- it should have been me that died not Mum.”
“No.” Tommy said firmly, “Don’t you ever say that- never say it again. You are my little sister, my little gypsy princess.” He stared at his young sister, “You are kind, brave, smart, loving and beautiful an’ Isaiah is lucky to have someone like you to love.”
At this point Olivia had tucked herself into the crook of his neck, almost as if she was hiding from the truthfulness in his words.
“An’ most importantly, you were not the cause of our Mothers death. You and Finn had no part to play- she was sick Liv, if she hadn’t of died when you were born then she would’ve died a day later.”
“I’m sorry for worrying you Tom.” Liv said in a apologetic tone, “And making you drive to London in a panic.”
“I’d do anything for you Livvy, you know that,” Tommy replied, hugging her tighter and kissing her forehead, “You’re a Shelby- and if that’s not enough for Linda then she can kiss goodbye to our family and Y’know why?”
Olivia smiled, “Because us Shelby’s stick together.”
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samwpmarleau · 8 months ago
1) It doesn’t fit with GRRM’s track record to introduce something as monumental as this, let alone so late in the game, and have it be what it says on the tin. For Aegon to actually be Elia and Rhaegar’s son who miraculously appears at the 11th hour to save the day doesn’t fit at all. Also, unfortunately, GRRM’s presentation of his characters of color is absolutely abysmal. While he debunked the theory of Dany blowing up the Water Gardens (THANK GOD), that doesn’t mean he’s going to magically treat Dorne how it deserves to be treated. A lot of the “evidence” I’ve seen about Aegon being real hinges on GRRM actually doing right by his characters of color and their associated storylines, which is … not likely.
2) The Golden Company was founded by Bittersteel, the #1 Blackfyre supporter who kept trying to make the Blackfyre cause succeed even long after Daemon was dead. The GC has been faithfully pro-Blackfyre ever since, and was even led by a Blackfyre, Maelys, in the Fifth Rebellion as well, which was not all that long ago.
3) The GC has never broken a contract before — in fact, their words have been “as good as gold” since the very beginning when Bittersteel founded it — so why would they now? They would only break a contract for blood (“some contracts are writ in ink, and some in blood”), for a Blackfyre. They broke the contract so they can help put Aegon on the throne and finally complete what Daemon and Bittersteel began.
4) The GC met with Viserys and Dany and laughed them out of the room. Why would they then be all gung-ho for a different Targaryen? Viserys wasn’t even a madman or pathetic when he met with them (Dany was still “a little girl”), Robert had only recently gotten the throne and therefore it was at its most vulnerable, and Viserys was well-known in Westeros as the Targaryen heir. If they were going to support a Targaryen, it would have been Viserys. Or Daenerys. Yet they didn’t. So why support Viserys’s alleged nephew instead? They would only do so because the Targaryen was only nominally one, in reality a Blackfyre.
5) Illyrio specifically says the Blackfyres are extinct in the male line, meaning they are still around, only through the female line, such as Illyrio’s late wife Serra. Aegon being Illyrio and Serra’s son would explain Illyrio’s fondness for the boy, why he’s so sad to see him go, and why he’s so invested in putting a “Targaryen” on the throne. Additionally, he found Serra as a sex slave in a Lysene brothel — quite a long ways down from the favored son of a Targaryen king. It would make sense for Illyrio, who loved her deeply, to in her memory restore what was “stolen” from her family.
6) Illyrio has a trunk full of children’s clothes, despite the fact that he’s supposed to be childless. Good clothes, too. (Those clothes are also blue, the color Aegon dyes his hair. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.)
7) JonCon notes that Rhaegar’s eyes were “a deep purple, darker than this boy’s,” implying to us the reader that Aegon is not Rhaegar’s. It’s also a hint that JonCon has suspicions that Aegon is not the real deal but is in denial, because if Aegon isn’t real, then that means Rhaegar really is lost to him forever and he can do nothing to avenge him.
8) I’ve seen the argument for “sun’s son” being Aegon but it doesn’t make sense. Asha is called the kraken’s daughter, for one, despite being a Greyjoy in her own right, so yes, it tracks that Quentyn can be called the “sun’s son” despite being a “sun” himself (and it just has better rhythm). Plus, if he weren’t the “sun’s son,” how would he instead be the “mummer’s dragon”? He’s not a dragon, he’s not a fake, nor is he being controlled by a mummer, whereas that fits for Aegon. And in Dany’s HOTU vision, there’s a cloth dragon swaying on poles above a cheering crowd — how would Quentyn fit that either (especially since he’s dead)? But Aegon would. This is also in the same passage as “slayer of lies,” mind you. Aegon is the lie to be slain. The other people in the prophecy are pretty clear as to their identities, so why would “sun’s sun” and “mummer’s dragon” be riddles?
9) The Blackfyres and their rebellions have been developed more and more through the years, including an entire Dunk and Egg book about the second one. Would be a bit odd to completely drop that thread, no? The Third Rebellion didn’t even happen until late in Aerys I’s reign, so it’s not like the Blackfyres will play a central role any time soon in D&E. In the main series, however, they would. Plus, GRRM wrote the D&E book about the Second Rebellion while he was also writing ADWD, and it’s in ADWD that history lessons about the Blackfyres are repeatedly brought up.
10) The parallel between Aegon and Jon. Jon is a real secret Targaryen raised without knowing his true identity, whereas Aegon is a fake secret Targaryen raised without knowing his true identity.
11) There’s plenty of the “human heart in conflict with itself” that GRRM loves with him being fake. Dany gets another family member, the son of her beloved brother Rhaegar — only to find out Aegon’s a fake. JonCon raises a child for over a decade, the son of his beloved Rhaegar, redemption for losing at Stoney Sept — only to find out Aegon’s a fake. Dorne (Doran specifically) gets a piece of their beloved Elia back — only to find out Aegon’s a fake. Aegon himself has believed his whole life that he’s Elia and Rhaegar’s son, the heir to the throne, has gone through many hardships to get where he is — only to find out he’s been lied to since day one. Those are all very real, very poignant beats.
12a) The supposition that Elia would save her son but not her daughter — Dornish Elia, who would value her daughter just as much as her son — is nonsensical to me. I CANNOT get behind that one bit. Maybe I can justify Elia being willing to sacrifice someone else’s innocent baby if it meant saving her own (though that’s a horrible and heartless thing to do), but I CANNOT see a justification for her saving Aegon yet not Rhaenys. 
Moreover, if the baby weren’t Aegon, why would Elia be so willing to die for it? If it weren’t hers, if she had been pragmatic/cold enough to trade her baby for someone else’s, why on EARTH would she not have left that baby in the nursery and gone with Rhaenys, her actual child? The men Tywin sent had a reputation even back then and had scaled the walls of Maegor’s Holdfast. Elia would be dumb as a bag of bricks to think they would spare “her” son and Rhaenys, or possibly even herself. If they were to magically spare “Aegon,” great! Everyone’s happy (except Tywin). But why would Elia take that risk? No. She would only tell Rhaenys to run away yet stay with Aegon because he was her child and she had no other choice.
12b) If Elia switched the babies, then why don’t the Martells know anything about it? They were involved in a Targaryen restoration, Oberyn even went to Essos to sign the betrothal pact between Arianne and Viserys. Yet none of them know that their nephew is alive? If Elia really did take the pains to switch the babies for her son’s safety, why would she not have involved her family? At the very least, by having whoever she sent Aegon with even just hint to her family that he’s alive? But they know nothing. Zilch. They put their eggs in Viserys’s basket, then Dany’s, who are at best Elia-adjacent.
12c) Who would even be able to do such a thing as switch out the babies without a soul being the wiser? Varys, probably, but there is no way in hell Elia would entrust her son to him. Far beyond simply being a shady person in general who is out for himself and himself alone, he was the one who purposefully whispered in Aerys’s ear about invented conspiracies and betrayals. He made Aerys more paranoid, more dangerous. To the detriment of Rhaegar, Elia, their children, and the realm at large. Varys is the entire reason Aerys went to the Tourney at Harrenhal in the first place, because he convinced him that Rhaegar convened the tourney to meet with a bunch of lords in order to depose Aerys. Varys directly and gleefully contributed to Aerys’s further descent into tyranny.
Elia wouldn’t have trusted Varys as far as she could throw him, certainly not with something as precious as her child, not even if she were desperate. Even if she did trust him for some insane reason, how is Varys so powerful as to find a lookalike for Aegon but not for Rhaenys? Surely it’s easier to find a black-haired, brown-eyed toddler than a silver-haired, purple-eyed baby, no? Or why couldn’t he direct Elia to one of the many secret passageways so she could escape with the kids rather than this convoluted baby swap? Or any number of other things? At every turn, Aegon (but not Rhaenys!) being spirited away by anyone, most especially Varys, doesn’t hold up. Hell, why would Varys help Elia? What does he have to gain by not only helping her but egregiously undermining Aerys? Aerys whose ear he’s been meticulously whispering into, Aerys who’s the only reason Varys is at court and has power at all? Agreeing to and orchestrating the baby swap runs counter to everything we know about him.
13) Aegon being real means Elia and Dorne are essentially dealt two blows. We and they spend all this time believing her son was brutally murdered in King’s Landing. But then, psych! He’s actually alive! They get their hopes up, the wound is opened all over again, only for him to … be brutally murdered in King’s Landing. (Or possibly elsewhere, but likely KL.) Why is that better? What would be the point of Aegon being Elia and Rhaegar’s son if he’s just going to die like his “cover story” says he did? Actually, they’d be dealt three blows, really, given that Quentyn died as well in the pursuit of Targaryen restoration. Things are going to be painful enough without having Aegon be the real Aegon.
14) JonCon didn’t come to be Aegon’s caretaker until Aegon was 5. In other words, he wouldn’t recognize whether or not this Aegon is the one he saw as a baby. But because he’s so personally invested in Aegon being the real deal, he doesn’t question it too much. The result is that JonCon, who is well-known to have been close to Rhaegar and thus Elia (proximally, not emotionally of course, what with him hating her and all), him caring for the boy lends viability to the story. Which we see in action by Doran believing, or at least being willing to listen to, JonCon’s letter.
15) The Toynes have a very negative history with the Targaryens (and Barristan) but a positive one with the Blackfyres. Would it not make more sense for Myles Toyne to align himself with a Blackfyre rather than a Targaryen? Myles, who was the one who put his seal to the secret pact?
16a) It’s been 84 years. Even R+L=J, which is as much of a sure thing as you can possibly get, is disputed by some in the fandom. Some people believe Ashara Dayne is alive, and a subset of those go so far as to say she’s Jyana Reed. Some people have some theory about the Boltons being vampires. Like. It has been so long since the last book that things that would have been surprises or interesting twists have been examined to death, so by now they seem “too obvious.” Ten years ago, Aegon being real would undoubtedly have been a much more believed thing, because we’d have just recently been told it. But now? There’s been ample time to parse everything out and to determine that no, he likely isn’t real. Same for R+L=J. Ten years ago, or longer, Jon being revealed to be the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna would have been a bombshell. But now? It’s obvious as fuck. So to circle back around to “Yep, Aegon is real!” ignores the fact that it’s supposed to be a smokescreen and a twist.
16b) Related to this is GRRM’s own words. There’s an SSM where he’s asked whether Rhaenys and Aegon are really dead. He affirms that Rhaenys is but hedges for Aegon. Why? Not because he’s saying Aegon is real, but because he’s introducing the Young Griff arc. If he were to say, “Aegon’s definitely dead, too,” or “Aegon’s definitely alive,” that would completely spoil the tension and truth/untruth of the storyline.
Do I know that Aegon’s a fake? Obviously not, since we don’t have the books. But the evidence points to it being extremely unlikely that he’s the real deal. Like I also said, however, I’m not sure it really matters whether he is or not. So far as he knows, he’s truly Elia and Rhaegar’s son. His name is Aegon, he was raised to be a king, he seems to be quite a decent young man (people who cite him tipping over the cyvasse board can suck it), he will probably ride a dragon at some point, and so on. At the end of the day, who he’s biologically related to doesn’t seem super relevant.
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aion-rsa · 9 months ago
Shadow and Bone Ending Explained: The Stag, Sun Summoner, and Black Heretic
This Shadow and Bone article contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1.
Netflix’s Shadow and Bone is a fantasy epic that has it all: A complex heroine, great supporting characters, and a sweeping plot that is based on a magical system that both empowers and isolates those who wield it. The back half of the season builds to a thrilling climax that’s both intensely satisfying and leaves plenty of room for the story to go in new directions in Season 2. (Which we better be getting, is all I’m saying.)
Let’s break down what happened in the Shadow and Bone finale and what it all might mean for the series going forward.
Alina Fully Claims Her Power
So much of the story of Shadow and Bone is about Alina’s journey to real agency, so it’s especially satisfying that Season 1 reaches its climax as she forcefully reclaims her power—both literally and figuratively speaking—from a manipulative man who only wants to use her for his own ends. Throughout the series’ eight episodes, we’ve seen her repeatedly shirk from a magical ability she never asked for and all the responsibility that comes with it, but here in the face of danger and death, she rejects the Darkling’s claim over her both physically and emotionally, fully accepting not just her own strength, but her right to wield it as she sees fit.
“You may have needed me,” she tells the Darkling, just before she stabs him through the hand and frees herself from his control.  “But I never needed you.” Striking a power pose and glowing with light, she is every inch a hero of legend as she pushes back the monstrous Volcra and saves her friends. It is an utterly triumphant moment, for a lost girl come into her own at last.
Does the Darkling Survive?
Yes, the Darkling lives to smolder another day.
No one is probably surprised that the Darkling survives his violent encounter with a volcra, eventually dragging himself beaten and bedraggled – but still looking very stylish, natch – out of the Shadow Fold. The ragtag band of shadow zombies that slouch after him certainly seems to indicate that Aleksander has successfully leveled up his abilities in some way since he couldn’t use merzost nearly so effectively in the flashback sequence that opened “The Unsea.” 
What this all means about his immediate plans for the future is unclear. It’s obvious that the Darkling is not just furious over Alina’s rejection of him as a partner but by her decision to – as he sees it – betray their Grisha brethren by doing so. (I also suspect he also really dislikes Mal at this point. Sorry not sorry, my man. #Malina for life.) It feels pretty likely that he is or is very soon about to be on the hunt for Alina once more, with a goal of regaining control over her powers and, by extension, the Fold itself.
The Shadow Fold Remains
You didn’t think the dark and ominous evil death cloud full of monsters would get destroyed in the series’ first season, did you?
It’s true, Alina doesn’t manage to bring down the Shadow Fold, but the Darkling doesn’t get to use it as his personal world domination device to subjugate every other kingdom to Ravkan (and by extension Grisha) rule either, so it still pretty much counts as a win in the end. He also exposed himself as a murderous tyrant, leveled the West Ravkan city of Novokribirsk, and animated an army of merzost shadow zombies that are clearly both dangerous and gross. Is he headed back to the Little Palace to take the throne for himself? On the hunt for Alina? Or something else entirely?
By the end of “No Mourners,” most people seem to assume that Alina died in the Fold, so other than small group comprised of Kaz, Inej, Jesper, and Zoya, no one knows that she’s off to find a way to boost her powers enough to face the Darkling again and cleave the darkness in two for good. Will the Darkling somehow realize she’s still alive? Will she be able to sense that he is too? Stay tuned.
What’s Next for Mal and Alina in Season 2?
My new favorite romantic ship heads off on their own new journey to search for a way to bring down the Shadow Fold and, by extension, the Darkling’s dreams of bending the world to his whims.
As Shadow and Bone’s first season comes to a close, Mal and Alina seem very much together in every sense of the word, cuddled up adorably to face a new horizon both literally and figuratively speaking. Now that they’ve both realized not just what they mean to one another, but how much they’re willing to risk – literally anything – in the name of staying together, it feels like there’s nothing they can’t do. (Except kiss, apparently, but I guess the show has to leave me wanting something from next season.)
What is the Sun Summoner Prophecy?
Alina Starkov’s ability to manipulate light means that she is a Sun Summoner, an extremely rare power that doesn’t fit neatly into the existing Grisha hierarchy. (Much like the Darkling, who is technically a Shadow Summoner.)
Since the idea of Sun Summoners was basically the stuff of rumor and legend anyway, many myths grew up around their existence, including a prophecy that basically predicted the Shadow Fold would not fall until a Sun Summoner was born to destroy it. (Shadow and Bone isn’t super clear on this, but the Fold has been around for over 400 years.)  Since Alina appears to be the only Sun Summoner who has ever existed, many Ravkans who follow the old religion consider her a living saint.
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Who is the Black Heretic?
Though General Kirigan initially tells Alina that the Black Heretic – the Grisha considered responsible for the creation of the Shadow Fold and all the subsequent years of destruction it has caused –  is his great-great-great-grandfather, he is, as in so many other facets of his life, blatantly lying. There has not been a series of Darklings with shadow powers who have existed through the centuries, but just the single one. This Darkling, who has gone by many names over the course of his life, is the only Darkling and is at least somewhere around 500 years old. 
Shadow and Bone shows us the creation of the Shadow Fold in a flashback, which attempts to cast the Darkling – then known as Aleksander – in at least a somewhat sympathetic light. After watching his beloved Healer Luda die and fleeing from an army of soldiers with orders to drag him back to the Ravkan king, Aleksander becomes determined to discover how to use the dangerous dark magic known as merzost to protect himself and the other Grisha, including his mother Baghra, in his care. But though he is able to access great power through merzost, Aleksander cannot control it and it pours out of him in an inky torrent, creating the gash in the world that is the Shadow Fold and turning everyone in its path into volcra.
What is the Deal with the Stag?
Though Shadow and Bone mentions Ilya Morozova, it doesn’t do a great job of explaining his importance to Grisha history, at least not beyond his genetic connection to the Darkling. In Bardugo’s books, Morozova was obsessed with the idea of amplifiers, which are specific objects like bones, scales, or animal teeth that boost Grisha power past a single person’s normal abilities. (He is also referred to among religious Ravkans as Sankta Ilya in Chains, because that’s how he was martyred after he performed a resurrection – thrown off a bridge wrapped in irons.)
The magical stag Alina, Mal, and the Darkling spend half the series is hunting has specific connections to Morozova that book fans will remember but TV viewers don’t actually need to care much about right now beyond simply being aware of the fact that the animal is powerful and ancient. Per the Darkling, its bones would make one of the strongest amplifiers ever crafted for a Grisha to wear. And since, technically, it’s the Darkling that kills the animal he can claim the amplifier’s power as his to control, even if someone else is physically wearing it.   
However, before he is able to kill the creature, the stag has a moment of true connection with Alina in which it essentially chooses her to be its avatar and receive its power, rather than allow the Darkling to claim it in her place. Your mileage may vary on whether this as effective as the book twist hinging on Alina’s decision to show the animal mercy instead of killing it outright, but there’s still something compelling in the idea that this semi-magical creature sees Alina’s worth so clearly.
Nina Must Betray Matthias to Save Him
While on what is essentially the cutest breakfast date of all time, Nina and Matthias are discovered by a group of Grisha soldiers ready to do kill him simply for the fact that he is a Fjerdan druskelle. (Translation: Witchhunter). To save his life, Nina claims Matthias is a slave trader who’s trying to traffic her, an accusation meant to take advantage of the Kerch law that promises a bounty for him in Ketterdam.
 Since the sailors only get paid if Matthias makes it to Kerch alive, they’re willing to keep the Heartrenders from killing him outright, and Nina, who must immediately go with them in order to testify, buys some time to save him. Unfortunately, since Matthias was knocked out by Heartrender power prior to all of this going down, he thinks Nina simply double-crossed him and is having him thrown in prison as payback for his original capture of her. 
Though she’s clearly upset about his sudden change of heart, things get worse when Nina learns she can’t just recant her statement in court immediately – Matthias might be forced to stay several years in Hellgate prison (which you know is bad simply from the name) because so many accused slavers are awaiting trial. How she will free him – and whether Matthias will ever forgive her once she does – are questions for next season. But hopefully, they’ll at least get another round of waffles at some point. 
The Kerch Crew Heads Back to Ketterdam – and Maybe the Start of Six of Crows?
With Alina and Mal heading off on a mission to train her powers, the Six of Crows characters must begin their own new journey. Technically, the group is heading back to Ketterdam, where Kaz will ostensibly pay off the rest of Inej’s debt, reclaim the deed to the Crow Club and probably get a little drunk in celebration of the fact that they’re all home and still alive. (Or, at least, Jesper will.) But their convenient run-in with a very calculating-looking Nina on board the ship back to Kerch seems to indicate that a new chapter of their story is about to begin instead.
For those who have read the books, you’ll know that this all feels very much like the start of the story that takes place in Six of Crows. Or, at the very least something very like it. 
As that book begins, Kaz also is once again on the hunt for a Heartrender – enter, Nina – to help with a very complex job. But in order for Nina to pull off that job, the rest of the crew has to help her break Matthias out of Hellgate prison. Since that’s where he’s currently headed and we’ve already seen that Nina is desperate to fix what she’s done to put him there, it feels like a very safe bet that we’re about to see some portion of that story unfold next season.
Given that Six of Crows is chronologically set two years after the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the show will probably have to do some fancy fudging of the timelines to make all this work. But…wouldn’t it be worth it if it means keeping these characters around for a bit longer?
What’s the Deal with Inej and Her Knives?
One of the smallest, most satisfying moments in the Shadow and Bone finale is when Alina gives Inej – who has been sweetly starstruck by meeting a woman her faith already reveres as a living saint – one of her daggers. Basically a literal representation of the heart eyes emoji, Inej declares that she already “knows just what to name it.” But what does that mean, exactly?
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Well, since all of  Inej’s other knives are named after Saints – Sankt Petyr, Sankta Marya, Sankta Anastasia, Sankt Vladimir, and Sankta Lizabeta, to be exact – it’s a safe bet the newest addition will bear Alina’s name. And given how handy Inej is with them, it’s probably the highest compliment she could pay her new friend.
The post Shadow and Bone Ending Explained: The Stag, Sun Summoner, and Black Heretic appeared first on Den of Geek.
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vedj-f-bekuesu · a year ago
Ninjago Unpopular Opinions
Following on from my watch of the entire old series (combined with already having seen the last two series), I have enough material to work with to make a sort of unpopular opinion list. Some of these are lightweight, some of these are...uh, not so much. 
These aren’t in any particular order, this is more of a “I’ll just put them down as I remember them” sort of deal. That’ll be why they appear so messy. 
-Even after all this I prefer the newest seasons to the older stuff. There have been a surprising number of good to great older seasons, but I just love that hit of S1/S2 campiness with the more developed writing of later seasons. 
-Cole sucked as a leader, aside from in the pilot episodes. In the series proper he varied from complete meathead I hated (first part of S1), to having the same mentoring personality as everyone else (S1 - S2), to being consumed by the love triangle which made him pull a really shitty move (I don’t need to tell you what that refers to). He eventually gets ironed out in season 4, but Lloyd had already taken over as leader at this point. And rightfully so, even if Lloyd’s material got knocked from season 3 as a result. 
-I couldn’t really warm up to Ronin that much for some reason. I get the reason why he’s popular, since it was pretty obvious he was supposed to be like an off-beat mentor figure to Nya, but...I dunno, unlike with Dareth, it felt like his skeevy moments were more off-kilter, plus I didn’t really like his arc in Skybound (even if that was written out of reality). That being said, his was strong in Possession even with said moments. Maybe I just need a future appearance to see how I ultimately swing with him.
-I mentioned this in my Hunted overview, but I think Skylor’s just bland. Part of the problem is that she’s mainly just wedged in as an action girl and doesn’t have too many moments to interact outside of that. That’s mostly reserved for moments where she acts as Agony Aunt (which is fine, that shows that being supportive is in her nature), but she needs more to work with. And as an obvious offshoot, if Kailor is the intended endgame it sucks in its current form. They don’t have chemistry or a decent dynamic.
-The other Ninjago ship I don’t particularly like out of all of them is...actually Geode. Yeah, Rebooted obviously wasn’t good for it considering the love triangle, but what actually did more damage to it for me was Skybound. It went so far in trying to oversteer back that it beat you over the head with the fact they were making Cole and Jay best friends after said love triangle (made really obvious when Jay is worried about Cole’s reaction to him seeing Nya in his reflection in both Possession and Skybound, when Cole isn’t even phased when he’s told). It was just really off-putting.
-Jay is a better big brother figure to Lloyd than Kai. Yeah, Kai’s true potential moment in Rise of the Serpentine hinged on realising he (and the others, mind) were supposed to protect Lloyd, they all spent Legacy of the Green Ninja’s first half being Lloyd’s proper mentors, Zane’s death prompted Kai to hover with thoughts of the Green Ninja again (which seemed to me for different reasons to being envious of power at the start, although its handling was very clunky after that), and he had the first episode in Possession which was arguably the strongest showing of a dynamic with Lloyd, but Possession didn’t have much about it outside of said episode, and the show seemed to just forget it from that point beyond some very, very fleeting and sparse bits. In the more modern seasons, it feels like Jay’s stepped up to be more supportive of Lloyd on a more consistent basis (which would make sense with the common fanon that Jay is the youngest of the original Ninja, he’d be closer to Lloyd’s age). It’s something I kind of want tapped into in a proper way at some point.
-Sensei Garmadon is a bit overrated. Just a smidge. When he’s good, he’s good, but most of the time he’s no more interesting than Wu would be in the same position. And I feel like they didn’t really develop his fatherly bond with Lloyd too well despite that being what his character was there for. Again, aside from moments where he was really good.
-Most underrated season of the old batch for me was the last minute shock, March of the Oni. I did enjoy Day of the Departed (which has a worse reputation), but I can understand why someone wouldn’t like it considering how bare it was. March of the Oni is far from my favourite season but I thought it came together really well, so the fact it’s generally panned legitimately confuses me. I guess Hands of Time would be a contender too, but I think opinion on that has swayed in its favour after the new seasons came out (and Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjutsu would be here if I included the new batch) so that’s why it’s edged out. 
-Most overrated season for me was undeniably Tournament of Elements. It’s not my least favourite season, but Rebooted and Hunted are pretty maligned to begin with, while Tournament of Elements is usually considered one of the top ones. It starts strong, has an interesting premise and there are ideas that are executed well. The thing is that the elements that people tend to praise the season for are ones I actually think the writers dropped the ball on, hence why this ended up the toughest season to get to the end of, even more than Hunted. It’s a shame, but it’s just not for me. 
-Best ninja suits...honestly, I don’t really notice the suits unless they’re really bad, because I’m used to franchises where costume changes mark radical permanent redesigns, and are not just par for the course of the brand (it makes perfect sense with a toy brand who want to sell you the same characters over and over again but still). Not counting the S11 suits since they weren’t part of the old batch, I guess I’d honestly say the ZX suits, maybe? They’re simple, but they’re cute and very distinct. Also Sons of Garmadon Cole channelling the Movie costume was a very good move (and arguably looks even better ripped up in Hunted aethetically), and Kai’s suit was bleh in Sons of Garmadon but its overhaul in Hunted was way better. Also, just as a wildcard, Rebooted Lloyd looks like a more finely tuned ZX suit. Actually, just one last bit on a tangent to note a difference the show makes to the figures that demonstrates the figures’ limitations. For Kai and Jay’s S11 suits, their figures invoke similar feels (because underneath the accessories they do have a lot in common), whereas they feel very different in the show because while Jay sticks to the figure and looks snug, Kai has a lot exposed around the neckline, as if his gi is hanging loosely on the shoulders and should join Cole in the “For fucks sake it’s an ice realm wear a jacket please” club. 
-Worst ninja sui--what the hell happened to Cole and Nya in Hands of Time?! Nya’s main issue is that it’s trying to work too many colours and they just don’t mesh well. I think this was the time they were partially adapting the movie’s change, but they were clinging onto her having red to both represent Samurai X and her ties to her brother, but they should have just picked one or the other because it just doesn’t work the way it did in Skybound. And Cole’s outfit is just hideous. Its balance of colours and accents is all off-kilter, and to top it off the shoes just don’t work and somehow look like socks with sandals. I didn’t know that was doable with a whole suit. Finally, on a general note, I’m not a fan of when the suits are all very similar bar some very, very minor differences. One could argue that it makes them look more like a team, but I prefer the individual personality to come out. 
-It’s hard to judge the best and worst episodes, honestly. The seasons from Tournament of Elements onwards are done so tied to each other that picking an episode is rather difficult outside of designated finales (or the odd Jay-focused/Zane-focused episodes that happened in seasons 7, 8 and 9). I guess for best I’d say stuff like The Quiet One, or The Fall, or Grave Danger, or stuff like that would be up there. Worst episodes in those seasons are even harder, because usually it’s how arcs over episodes are written that get to me, not individual episodes.  This all being said, it’s much easier to do this with the more episodic first three seasons, and to that end I would still say that Tick Tock is my favourite standalone episode still, and Home is still my least favourite. For all the times the writing has dropped the ball, nothing has legitimately pissed me off more than what this episode did because it’s in its own category of bad writing. 
-There have been some concepts thrown in that, while they definitely wouldn’t work out in the long term, make for interesting snippets of what-ifs. Like, I loved the bit where Jay was a show host and got around the stage using his lightning powers. That seems like such a natural fit outside of his ninja identity I wish I’d thought of it. Imagine Bradley Walsh using lightning to get around the studio, that would be metal as fuck.
-On the other side of that coin, the bizarro Ninja are the single most overrated concept in the show. I don’t like Scourge the Hedgehog to begin with, but he at least had some efforts to make him unique (that fell flat, but eh). The bizarro Ninja are the equivalent of Evil Sonic; cliche and undeveloped. They’re not even useful for the cliche idea of framing the actual Ninja since even though they’re seen doing delinquent behaviour, this is never addressed. Heck Nadakhan was more effective with this idea. Thing is that I can’t blame the show at all for this. While the concept is naff, the show itself treats them as they actually were; Garmadon’s puppets and the scheme of the episode. Aside from bizarro Jay’s behaviour to Nya being full of unfortunate implications, there is no greater purpose for their existence, and the show never tries to do it again. It’s really the fans that have inflated their appearance in this case because I guess the idea of “take this nice character and give them an evil version” is just so appealing to the teenage demographic. Screw that, corruption is way more fun and interesting. 
-What I can blame the show for is the single worst execution of an idea, because to this point I still consider Kai’s green ninja “arc” in Tournament of Elements to be the single worst executed arc (yeah, even worse than the love triangle, but that one is still bad). The sad thing is it managed to convince me that it wasn’t such a bad concept when they explained it by being an offshoot of his depression following Zane’s death (before that I was very sceptical it could fit it in naturally after the last three seasons). But then it was used once when Skylor tried to get Kai to stab Lloyd in the back during the skating match (which Kai completely rebuffed and seemed over his depression-rooted negative vibes on Lloyd), and once more when he was overcome by the power of the staff. The latter is especially infuriating since this would have been the perfect opportunity for a character moment. Like, Lloyd and/or Skylor could have fought to get Kai out of the trance of the staff and see that his friends mean more to him than having power. It practically writes itself and is a perfect set-up. What happens instead is that Cole is technically the one to save Kai from himself as he rams the Roto Jet into the chamber and makes the rocky serpentine structure come crashing down on Kai. Maybe interesting to read into if you want a Lava reading of the show, but in that moment is just a wasted opportunity. Come on!
-Actually, also talking about other bad concepts, I don’t miss those weird energy dragons they could summon starting from Tournament of Elements. The dragons in Rise of the Serpentine/Legacy of the Green Ninja were fine because they had a logical reason for being there and actually were integrated into the plot (so you got to watch them being maintained and having moments with the ninja). The energy dragons in Tournament of Elements existed for one character as a plot thing (Zane’s, because he always had the good plots in the earlier seasons), but then everyone else suddenly could do it too and they became convenient plot devices and nothing else. Airjutsu I was more okay with because it seems more like a tool they’d use and could be integrated better, but I can also see why that stopped being used (outside of that one bit in Prime Empire).
-The Elemental Masters are both over-hyped and underdeveloped. The normal civilian cast really got the shaft once the series decided it wanted to explore this lore, yet the only ones I really got interested in in any way were the villain EMs and Karlof. And even Karlof is overlooked by the fandom, by the looks of it. 
-Jay actually came off the best in the Rebooted love triangle. He’s not entirely perfect, but he is essentially the biggest victim as a result of it in that season, and what Nya and Cole did either bordered on or was outright callous for different reasons. I think if people gave Jay the biggest shtick for Rebooted’s events, it’s influenced with how Skybound botched trying to patch it up. 
-The movie was a net positive influence on the show. Aside from me preferring the designs of the movie anyway, it forced the characterisation to actually pick a lane for each character and stick to it, mitigating a lot of the haphazard characterisation issues. The inconsistency in later seasons is tone instead, which is maybe why people thought the characterisation was inconsistent between Sons of Garmadon/Hunted and March of the Oni/SotFS (when really, they weren’t that different if at all). The show also made a good call in ignoring movie Zane’s characterisation; as much as I enjoy it in the film, it really didn’t gel up with what the show had done with him, so trying to force it in would have been more of a characterisation jolt than any of the early season stuff. 
-I’m generally fine with Jaya and Pixane. The former I can see why people would be off about it because there have been some badly written periods for them, but I think on the whole it manages to hold it together. The latter was written in surprisingly smoothly given the circumstances, so it’s no wonder I don’t see discourse about it. 
-Oh yeah, I don’t get Wu/Faith as a ship. Like, she was the cool drill instructor/aunt to everyone, including Wu. This is a quick one because it’s just a very small aside.
-Also I can’t really get behind Polyninja either. If the characters had a fairly even spread of interaction and moments between each other I could, but the spread ends up like lots of moments between Cole and Kai varying from little moments to huge dollops, and Cole and Jay having a whole best friends affirmation arc due to the fallout of the love triangle, to Kai and Jay having barely anything to work with and anyone with Zane getting a couple of table scraps occasionally. It’s not even enough.
-Following on from that though, Zane feels the least integrated with the group dynamic in general. He’s has some of the best plots and stories in the show, but nearly all of them have been focusing on him solo. And not even SotFS or Prime Empire helped with this one. Hopefully MoM can smooth this one out a bit. 
-Finally for this post, after going through all those seasons I still prefer Nya’s movie voice to her show voice by a significant margin. Sorry Kelly Metzger. 
I think that’s it. I’ve actually been on this for a week but I’ve been allowing time for more thoughts to come to me, because there have been a lot of thoughts coming in batches. I think I’ll leave it at this though, because I think most of it is covered pretty well.
I have at least two more text posts like this planned, but they’re not strictly about the old seasons so I’ve left them for after. I’m looking forward to them though, because they’re on specific topics and that is my bread and butter pudding. 
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Psycho Analysis: Christmas Special Villains
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(WARNING! This analysis contains SPOILERS!)
Much like I did for Halloween, I wanted to do a bunch of one-shot or at the very least minor Christmas villains, which presented me with an interesting problem – most Christmas specials don’t really have villains. Usually the main obstacle to overcome in any holiday special is some sort of emotional fault of the main character, a lack of belief in the spirit of the holiday, or something to that effect, and when there is an actual villain, it tends to just be ones from the show at large with a Christmas-related scheme. Like I’m not doing Princess Morbucks or the Kanker sisters for this.
Luckily, There were a few I was sure on, and I managed to scrounge up a few more to deliver five lovingly-wrapped holiday villains. We have:
Mrs. Claus from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
Ghost Writer from Danny Phantom
Robot Santa from Futurama
Edna Jucation and the Faculty Four from Codename: Kids Next Door
The Woodland Critters from South Park
Here’s the most interesting thing: Despite Christmas stories tending to lean more towards internal conflict and self-reflection, when they do have actual, tangible threats like these, they tend to be honestly and genuinely great. This is in stark contrast to A lot of the villains from the Halloween specials, who tended to just be big scary baddies without much oomph to them.
Actor: Mrs. Claus is portrayed by Carol Kane, an incredibly prolific actress who you may know best as Valerie, the wife of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride. And much like in that film, she manages to be as enjoyable and funny as the guy playing her husband, which is a tall order indeed – in that film it was Billy Crystal, and in the special it’s Gilbert Gottfried.
Ghost Writer is portrayed by Will Arnett of all people. This was post-Gob Bluth but pre-Batman and BoJack, so while not unknown by any stretch it’s definitely weird to go back and see him in a Butch Hartman action cartoon of all places. He does a great job, as to be expected; when has he ever done poorly?
In his first appearance, Robot Santa was voiced by none other than John Goodman. Normally I’d say Goodman would be perfect for the role of Santa, but… this one’s a maniacal robotic serial killer. It’s a wonderfully jarring juxtaposition. After that, John DiMaggio gave Robot Santa a voice for his other appearances, and he does a good job for sure. Obviously he’s no John Goodman, but really, who is?
Edna Jucation is voiced by Candi Milo, and the Faculty Four are played by Dee Bradley Baker and Darran Norris; Baker is the Unintelligible Tutor and Thesaurus Rex, while Norris is Mr. Physically Fitastic and the Human Text. These are all top-tier veteran voice actors, and they do a fine job, but I can’t particularly say they really make any of these characters stand out or be memorable, which is a shame.
As to be expected, the Woodland Critters are voiced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Big shock there. Even less shocking is that they are perfectly funny as these depraved animals.
Motivation/Goals: Out of all of these, I think it’s really fitting that Mrs. Claus is the one with the best motivation. As the HEAD head vampire in the North Pole, she has turned Santa into a vampire and put a halt on Christmas because she is overworked and exhausted, having to do all the household chores all year while Santa only works one night. It is absolutely, perfectly understandable that she snapped… but apparently this isn’t even the first time, as Santa mentions at the end this has happened on multiple prior occasions. You think he’d treat her better after the second or third time, but then we wouldn’t have a plot.
I’d say that Ghost Writer and the Woodland Critters are tied for the next spot; both of them have solid reasons for doing what they’re doing. Ghost Writer was just a humble author trying to finish a Christmas story in time for Christmas, but unfortunately this caught the eye of the extremely Scroogey Danny Phantom, who absolutely hates Christmas due to traumatic events caused by his family fighting on Christmas in the past. Danny, in a moment of incredible callousness, blasts the poor ghost’s manuscript to bits and then proceeds to rub it in, which drives GW to breaking the annual truce and using his powers to torment Danny by trapping him in a Christmas story where he and everyone else can only speak in rhyme. It’s honestly hard to feel sympathy for Danny here, but GW does take it a bit too far.
The Woodland Critters, on the other hand, are just utterly depraved… but that’s to be expected seeing as they are the creations of Eric Cartman, inhabiting a Christmas story whose sole reason for existing is to make Kyle look like a tool. In the story, they get Kyle knocked up with the Antichrist. You see, there master is Satan, and they want nothing more than for his spawn to be born into the world. They really just exist as a reason for Cartman to rip on Kyle for being a Jew at Christmastime, as Kyle himself points out in their debut episode.
Edna and the Faculty Four are a bit simple and amusing, as is befitting of a gimmicky villain from The world of the KND. They team up with the Delightful Children because Substitute Teacher’s Day is virtually unknown compared to Christmas, the kind of absurd, wacky reason for villainy you’d expect from a world where some of the most feared supervillains include an evil dentist and a vampire who spanks people. Robot Santa is likewise extremely simple, yet effective: every Christmas he flies down to Earth to punish the naughty – which is everyone except Zoidberg. This is due to a programming oversight that left his standards set way too high, so no one can ever measure up. Except Zoidberg. There’s really not much more to him than that, but really, does their need to be?
Final Fate: Mrs. Claus is redeemed at the end of the special thanks to Billy, who helps her understand the true meaning of Christmas and who heals her husband so that he can apologize. Things seem like they might work out for real this time because now Malcolm McDowell’s vampire is around to help with tidying up, so hooray! Happy ending here!
Ghost Writer gets thwarted because Danny picks up an orange; as Ghost Writer never watched Drake & Josh and thus didn’t realize that “door hinge” is an acceptable rhyme, he was unable to continue writing his story and got beat up by Danny and his rogues gallery and then thrown into Walker’s prison for breaking the yearly truce in the Ghost Zone. At least he got to complete his book?
The Woodland Critters go out when Santa comes in and blasts them away with a shotgun… but since they are technically fictional characters, they show up in Imaginationland to cause problems. Still, it’s reassuring to know they can be taken out with simple firearms.
Edna Jucation, the Faculty Four, and Robot Santa really don’t have any canonical final fate; they just get defeated and then go on their merry way. In Robot Santa’s case, he actually showed up quite a few more times after his initial appearance to wreak havoc, but the Faculty Four and Edna were entirely oneshot antagonists.
Final Thoughts & Score: Christmas honestly fares a lot better than Halloween does as far as I can see. The villains tend to be a lot more thematic, or at the very least they have more personality and thematic function. Halloween doesn’t really have any sort of core themes to work off of as opposed to Christmas, which has a lot of reoccurring themes in works based around it. Still, most of these characters just settle on being funny.
Mrs. Claus and the Woodland Critters are the best of the bunch here, and both earn themselves a spot on the Nice List with a 9/10 each. Mrs. Claus is just a lot of fun, mostly because of the fact she has legitimate grievances on top of being a unique twist on the character. Mrs. Claus as a vampire overlord who commands hordes of vampire elves? That’s the sort of creative wackiness that Billy & Mandy delivered on. The Woodland Critters are just funny, plain and simple, acting as the sort of amusing subversion that could be expected of from South Park in its glory days as well as being totally in line with Cartman’s personality. These are the exact sort of original characters I’d expect from a guy who ground up a kid’s parents and made them into chili, what with their blood orgies and ultraviolence. Amusingly enough, they score a point higher than Cartman did in his own Psycho Analysis, which is mostly due to their limited appearances meaning that they stay remarkably consistent, where Cartman tends to be whatever an episode needs to be, be that hero, anti-hero, or villain.
Next up are Ghost Writer and Robot Santa, who both get 7/10. Ghost Writer is a very amusing oneshot, but it’s honestly weird that out of all the Villains from Danny Phantom, he’s the first one I talked about. You’d think it would be Ember or Vlad or something… at any rate, he’s an amusing antagonist, but he’s also one who it’s hard not to view as being in the right, especially since Danny was just a jerk to him completely unprovoked due to his own personal hangups with the holidays. As usual with fun ideas on the show though he was only ever used once, which is a real shame but at the same time understandable; his gimmick really only works with Christmas, so it would have been weird shoehorning him into another episode’s plot. For what he is, he’s fun.
Robot Santa has a similar problem, not really being able to function outside of Christmas specials, but his few appearances leave him as an amusing antagonist who never really overstays his welcome. He’s not as entertaining or engaging as, say, Mom, but he definitely offers some laughs with his hilarious concept and his ridiculous levels of bloodlust. Points t him for helping out the heroes in the first Futurama movie too.
That just leaves us with Edna and the Faculty Four, and the Faculty Four just manage to scrape onto the bottom of the Nice List with a collective 5/10. They don’t really have much character or personality, especially when compared to the heroic Marvel pastiche that is Elfa Strike, but as brief amusing gag villains meant to pay loving tribute to the Fantastic Four, I think they’re decent. Edna is not so lucky; she’s a bit obnoxious, shrill, and doesn’t really correlate to any sort of Marvel character, which is baffling since the entire episode is one big love letter to Marvel comics. Sad to say, but she’s landing smack dab on the Naughty List with a 2/10. She doesn’t even have a cool gimmick!
I suppose that wraps it up for Christmas special villains. Doing something like this is tough, because it really makes you sit back and wonder what sort of Christmas villains you should put on. Obviously I avoided any theatrical film villains, but that did leave one particularly glaring omission of a villain from a holiday special… a big, green, unpleasant omission. He’s a mean one, for sure...
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plus-size-reader · 2 years ago
Run Away
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Negan x Plus size!reader
Word Count: 1452 words
Warnings: reader is pregnant 
Summary: Reader finds out she’s pregnant with Negan’s baby and gets scared about her reputation.
Negan was a monster, you knew that but for some reason you didn't care. He was a powerful, charming leader with a (for the most part) level head. Even if he did occasionally lose his cool, and get a little aggressive, it was never with you.
Perhaps that was why you were so thankful for the dead having taken over the world. You didn't want to know what kind of man Negan would have been, if not for the shambling targets he constantly had to hunt down.
The fact of the matter was, the world was what you made of it...and you were the Queen. Negan had made sure that no matter what, you would be given the respect you deserved.
I hadn't been an easy road though. When you first arrived at the sanctuary and become Negan's eighth wife, there were a few complaints. The other women didn't want to live with you, and the men had began talking in secret about you.
It was clear what their problem was, none of them thought you were beautiful enough or contributed enough to stay with the saviors.
Luckily though, Negan didn't seem to care about what you'd been called in private. He'd taken you in like the caring, brilliant man that he was. There was no way he was going to let anyone else discount that.
He was their leader, and he wouldn't take their disrespect. No direct questioning of Negan, of any kind, was allowed under any circumstances. Everyone who lived on the compound knew that, but for some reason, all those chuckle-heads felt justified in tormenting you over it.
Sure, you carried yourself differently than the rest of Negan's wives and had proposed to him instead of waiting for him to ask you. That was simply because you knew what you wanted. The end of the world didn't mean the end of all human ambition and drive.
You were still alive and you were determined to live your life to the fullest, even if that meant you had to be the only one doing so.
Negan had seen that ruthless drive in you, and wanted a part of it for himself, if anyone was going to be able to rule the saviors by his side, it was you. Your strength and desire to succeed had made you his queen and that control meant something to you.
In fact, Eugene once joked that the other saviors were more afraid of you than your husband.
That being said, your entire reputation crumbled the second you found out that you were pregnant...or it would, if the news spread to the rest of the camp. As far as you knew, none of the saviors before you had managed to successfully carry and raise a baby in the hostile world that you all now inhabited.
It just hadn't been done, and you were doubtful that you'd be the exception.
You also knew that you couldn't tell Negan. He wouldn't understand and would probably suggest something otherworldly if you suggested keeping your baby.
There was no way to know what would happen if you came clean about it so what were you supposed to do? As it would turn out, there weren't very many good options for raising a baby in the apocalypse.
So you did the only thing you could think of...you ran.
There was no where you had in mind to be going, and no way to track how far away you'd gotten from the sanctuary, so you just kept running until you couldn't anymore.
In fact, you got so far away in the next few days that none of Negan's men could find you. He was angry, sure, but more than angry, he was worried. Never in all his life had Negan cared for you, and it was horrifying. The idea that something could happen to you out there filled Negan with a genuine fear.
And that wasn't something he ever wanted to feel.
The searching lasted months, before Negan's men finally found you, in the woods covered in dried blood and fixing to pop. Simon was shocked above the rest of them, something that he was quick to tell you.
As far as Negan was concerned, after the first few weeks, they should have been looking for your corpse out there in the woods.
The last thing you wanted was for Negan to find out you were back in the same way that you didn't want him to find out why you had gone in the first place. However, it didn't come as a surprise when Simon brought you back to the compound, Negan anted you waiting for him.
All you could do was sit nervously on the leather couch of the office, waiting for your beloved husband to arrive. You could hear the voices outside but there was no way to know what was going on outside the door, until it opened of course, and that only made you more anxious than you already were.
But you just had to sit in uncomfortable silence until someone decided to end your suffering.
Thankfully that ending came before you completely lost your mind, the door swinging open abruptly. The hinges creaked loudly only to be followed by the familiar stomping of Negan's footsteps on the concrete...those damn leather boots.
That sound had never upset you before, only inspiring excitement in you as far as you could remember. Now all you could think about was how angry he was going to be with you for leaving, and he didn't even know the baby yet-though if he looked closely, he would be able to tell.
Luckily for you, the second his eyes locked on you, he couldn't even think straight. You were alive, after months and months of worrying that you could have gotten torn to shreds, you were just sitting in front of him.
Just that quickly, every bit of stress that he'd incurred in the past few months had washed away completely. Everything was going to be fine now that Negan had you back...he was sure of it.
However, he couldn't let you know how ecstatic he was because no matter how in love with you he was, you had broken one of his number one rules and that wouldn't go unpunished.
"Where in all hell have you been?" he barked, swinging Lucille around as if you would be afraid of that thing. Other people may have panicked at the idea of the bat coming near them, but not you. Perhaps you were desensitized to it because you spent so much time around it when it wasn't in use.
Whatever it was, you were glad for it, because that was really one of Negan's only intimidation techniques.
Even still, you didn't really know how to answer his question. You couldn't tell him where you'd been or who you'd encountered in your few months of freedom, because all of those things would out why you left and you were trying to push that conversation off as long as you possibly could.
Not that it was working, because you could see the wheels turning in Negan's mind and he was going to put the pieces together eventually.
"I just felt like a change of scenery" you lied, trying your hardest to assure him that it was the truth, not that you actually thought it would work...it didn't.
All that got was a scoff. "If you wanted a damn landscape change, I would have driven you into town, this is something different. What the hell were you hiding from?" he asked again, damn him for knowing you so well.
This time you sighed, your heavy shoulders falling at the action. Your breath was hard to take and hurt your chest on the exhale. You were holding a secret that no person was meant to bare on their own. You knew that you'd have to come clean eventually, so it would be better to rip off the bandage as quickly as possible.
"I'm pregnant...and I knew you wouldn't want to keep it" you huff, standing to show him the large bump protruding from your abdomen. It was all going to be down hill from here, you were sure of it, but you didn't care.
There was nothing he could say or do that would take priority over the child you'd grown to love in these past few months when you were all alone with no one but the fetus that had forced you from your home in the first place.
No matter what he said, nothing could come between you now. All it had taken was a little bit of a road trip to prove it to yourself.
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editoress · a year ago
A little more on my Destiny self insert, featuring @ssugakookies~.  Nothing big, just a day in the life of making trouble.
Elizabeth was in a tiny bit of a pickle.
A less informed individual might assume that the pickle proper had been escaping from the whirlwind trap of a planet she had been snooping on.  The atmosphere had been a jumble of looping currents, and a number of unfriendly ships had been buzzing just outside orbit.  And the surface of the planet itself had been summarily unsettling.  The Solicitor’s instruments hadn’t picked up anything too far outside the ordinary, but it had felt wrong.  It reminded her of the stories of radiation fallout sites, abandoned places with no obvious danger that nonetheless ate and burned at whoever wandered in.
But Elizabeth’s whole career was snooping in dangerous territory, and this was a workday afternoon. She had even sent Kel a quick message—not least so someone would know she was alive and planned to be back in a few days.
She propped one foot up on the seat and took a huge bite of the burrito she’d packed.  She hadn’t been sure of this particular lead at first. It had come from an acquaintance, a buddy in the making, rather than a true friend.  Despite her doubts, though, this had been a startlingly successful trip. She owed Geriks a favor—and a good long talk about their sources.  Geriks’s exact house was among their many taciturn secrets.  Elizabeth hadn’t pried about it.
But hey, maybe they would be friends soon.  She could use some more friends from races outside the City.
She could use a few days off, too.  It would take at least that long for her to sort through the data she’d grabbed. Most of it was text, though there were a few images and schematics here and there.  Of what, she didn’t yet know.  But she was very interested to find out.  It was a very good haul.
The aforementioned pickle lay in the damaged book in the cargo hold.
Physical books were long out of style, and based on the electronic data Elizabeth had uncovered, she surmised that had been true even for the beings who had lived in those ruins. And yet, there had been a book.  A metal cover with intricate hinges protected pages that weren’t paper, exactly.  There was no telling what kind of writing it contained, or even whether it was legible.  She hadn’t examined it properly—and wouldn’t, because she refused to touch it.
She kind of wanted to touch it, and she didn’t like that at all.
She didn’t like that it was a real, old-fashioned book, and she didn’t like the feel of the place it had come from, and furthermore she didn’t much care for the way it sat around and faintly beckoned.  Her burrito suffered for this displeasure.
Elizabeth knew when she was outmatched, which was, to be fair, most of the time.  She wasn’t a guardian or a proper warrior.  Nor was she any kind of weaver of magic.  The honest truth, deep down, was that she wasn’t even a good information broker; she just made the right friends.  There was far more cajoling than cunning involved. But she had enough cunning to know that this book was outside her bailiwick.
Concerning bailiwicks, she had a few constables in mind.  But who to choose?
Part of her wanted to turn it over to the vanguard, or at least Ikora.  Elizabeth might wave cheerily at their laws as she bypassed them, but at the end of the day, they were guardians; they worked to save people.  Elizabeth wanted that, too.
And even if she avoided light-based management, there were plenty of rank-and-file guardians she could trust.  True friends, people with good hearts.  Actual, real-life heroes.  Assuming they could figure out what the right thing was, Elizabeth had absolute confidence they would do it.
She sighed and leaned back, stretching her legs out until the rested against the bulkhead.  “Shut up,” she told the book, though it hadn’t said anything.  Just to stop it from getting any ideas.
As much as she wanted to throw the book like a frisbee anywhere it couldn’t cause harm, she also wanted answers from it.  This whole trip had been a search for answers; she needed context for all the weird stuff going on.  Elizabeth understood that D-money was playing in the big leagues and didn’t want her involved.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to stop her from sticking her nose in it.
If anyone knew what this alien tome was and what to do with it, it would be D-money.  (She wouldn’t call him the Drifter, like he was a band. They were friends.  At least her nicknames made it sound like he had a name.)  He might not tell her anything but tall tales, but he would know.  And maybe he could even use it for… whatever he was doing.
Elizabeth trusted the man with her life.  Maybe not with her wallet, and certainly not with any excuses about where he’d run off to lately—but her life, absolutely.  On the other hand, her conscience wouldn’t allow her to make that decision for everyone else.
The fact remained that picking a guardian was the safer option by a long shot.  D’s shenanigans were fascinating and even tempting, but they were an unknown factor.
Elizabeth finished off her lunch thoughtfully.  She ran down her list of friends and acquaintances a few times, but there was no one else with the possible combination of power, good will, and know-how to take this artifact off her hands.  Besides the void, of course.  She could always space it in between systems.  But that would require her to leave well enough alone.
The trip back was a quiet one, no matter how much music she blared—and the Solicitor had quite a selection.  She scanned the data she’d raided, shaking it down for any unfriendly programs.  She exercised to keep her body from going stir-crazy in on the little two-deck ship.  And though physically she avoided her new least favorite artifact, mentally she never put it down.
The harsh blur of intersystem travel cooled to a lovely vista of stars.  There was only one thing to do.  As soon as she saw planets again, Elizabeth leaned over, feet tucked under the seat, and opened a comm line.
“Beth?” came Quinn’s voice.
Elizabeth grinned.  So it was a Beth day.  Kel knew her as Beth.  D-money called her Liz.  She had introduced herself to the Spider as Liza.  Hers was a name given to nicknames, and she scattered them around to help remind herself where the lines were.
Except with Quinn, who knew and used several variations of her name.  There were no lines with Quinn.  D might be a genius, but Elizabeth had figured that out way before him.
“Greetings from the beyond!” announced Elizabeth to the comm.
Quinn snorted.  “Tell the beyond not to get caught.  You’re stressing Glyph out.”
Elizabeth thought that was an unfair accusation; even if she did cause Glyph distress, she was by far the minority shareholder in that joint venture.  “The beyond is chastened,” she allowed nevertheless.  “Got a minute?”
Elizabeth settled her chin in one hand.  “I’m looking for consultation services.  How much do you charge, hourly?”
“How many sweets are you bringing back this time?” the guardian quipped without missing a beat.
“Only the bitter fruits of knowledge, I’m afraid.”  She wrinkled her nose and sighed through it.  “Quinn, I need your advice.  I found something, and I have no idea what to do with it.”
“You want my advice?” Quinn repeated, disbelief in her voice.
“Well, yeah.”
“Am I going to get blamed when something happens?”
Elizabeth blew a raspberry and hoped she could hear it through the comm.  “Look, I just need to talk to someone about this.  You’re my best friend and you’re good people.”
Quinn made a dismissive noise right back at her, but Elizabeth could almost see her smile. “Okay, okay.  I’m listening.  What’s going on?”
The weight lifted off Elizabeth’s chest just hearing that.  Maybe she wasn’t a good spy or scout, but she had incredible friends. As long as Quinn stuck around, she could figure out the rest.  “So this might sound like the start of a horror play,” she began, “but I found the creepiest book.”
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moeverythingcorner · 2 years ago
Treasure Chest
It was dark, way too dark to see anything in the rather tight chest she had been locked into. Earlier that day, she had a disagreement with their dad about Axel, more specifically about their dad raising his hand at him. Ayame knew her twin didn't do anything, the man was just angry about something and wanted to blow off some steam, unfortunately for the "older" twin, he was spotted first. The brunette knew how much the man's punches stung and just how bad the bruises got; she couldn't let that happen, not when neither of them had gotten the chance to heal yet. In a rash moment, she raised her voice to stop him; it couldn't even be called shouting but she could definitely be heard and the man didn't like it, anyone with eyes was able to tell that much. However he did not hit Axel, turned away from him completely, heading into Ayame's direction instead. The girl didn't waver; taking the danger head on.
Strong, firm hand grabbed a fistful of chestnut hair, dragging the small, petite girl towards a damp, dark and dusty basement. Cement walls without paint or decoration surrounded not only them but also the object of fear; an old, wooden chest with black hinges and a single lock, key nowhere in sight. Nothing else sat in the room which only made it more creepy.
Even if just barely but a person of her size could fit into said chest and Ayame knew that way too well already. Having to be punished as often as her, the dad had to be creative as having too many injuries would be way too noticeable, thus at times like these, he had to switch to psychological abuse. One of his never ideas was locking her in for a while -until he remembered that she exists and let her out- usually a couple of hours, maybe a day. This was no different. Roughly shoving the girl inside, he locked the chest right away, not giving her any time to protest at all. A door was slammed shut once the stairs stopped creaking, earning itself a flinch and then quiet. Nothing but the dripping water droplets that echoed in her ears. The floor above was just as quiet, not a single one of the planks made a noise. That was a good sign and Ayame booked it as an absolute success.
Even after her eyes adjusted to the awful dark, she could not see a thing. Air so warm and sticky, it made her lungs feel as if they were barely filled with any oxygen, soon enough forcing her to pant to be able to breathe in enough of it.
Time was passing by so slowly, a single minute felt like a year and a whole lot of years have passed.
Loud breathing and dripping water filled her small ears, making them feel as if they were throbbing. Nostrils filled with the scent of old and wet wood. All she saw was dark, not the slightest of light making it through the thick wooden planks that made up the chest. It was cold, dark and very unpleasant, breathing and heartbeat never slowing down.The feeling of being trapped washing over her in strong continuous waves, pulling her under as if to drown her without a chance of coming to the surface.
Shivering helped each and every injury to make themselves known as they got pushed against the bottom of the box. Such an uncomfortable position, it would definitely cause the bad kind of soreness all over her body if she could even get out by herself. The man had every intention of leaving her there if that was not the case. Having a horrendous intolerance for weakness didn't make the kids' jobs easier when treating injuries or helping each other, that however never stopped the siblings. They always had each other's backs, no matter how scary and powerful their dad was. That usually led to even worse punishment than before but they stood up for each other even if they were too afraid to do so for themselves.
Growling stomach was the only thing that actually let Ayame know time was actually passing; mouth dry; lips chapped.
Once the top of the chest was opened he left, leaving the blinded girl alone. The light feeling so bright, so unnaturally powerful, tiny shaking hands had to cover sapphire blue eyes. Trying to give huge pupils enough time to readjust to the new lighting conditions and no one came down, no one but the dad was allowed to and the fact that nobody broke that rule made her heavy and tired heart feel way lighter. Finally squirming herself out of the wooden structure that trapped her for so, so long let her breathe deeper, more freely. Standing was out of the question for now. Muscles aching all over and her eyes were nowhere near being used to the sudden change in lighting. For a good while it was pure agony, then it slowly toned down, never actually leaving but easing to a more bearable level.
Losing complete touch of time didn't help to solve just how long the girl sat in the chest, waiting, trying to stand up, to breathe a little easier. Having no windows in the cellar was not reassuring, nor helpful in any way imaginable. The small girl could easily recall the time their dad decided to seal up the little, narrow window without any paint on its almost rotten, wooden frame and fogged up glass.
She could hear whispering from the top of the stairs. Judging by his height, it had to be Axel for sure. He was calling out to her, trying to get her attention, get her to stand up and join him.
A hug. She knew a hug was coming her way the second she defeated the staircase, and to put it lightly, she wanted that hug. The warm and caring embrace of her siblings that always made her feel better right away. Ayame needed that more than anything and was ready to walk on pins and needles to get it.
Not wasting another second, weak, trembling legs pushed her out of the box, stumbling to, and then up the stairs, melting into his arms, no longer bothering to hold herself upright. Luckily being as awfully light as she was, Axel could carry her without any difficulties at all. Being carried always meant that she had no more strength left for walking and usually, that meant even more punishment, right now, Ayame couldn't take any more.
Axel was careful and gentle not to cause any more pain than she was already in. He made sure not to be loud both because their dad was asleep and if he woke up and saw them like this, they would be dead and also because he knew just how sensitive her ears were after barely hearing anything for such a long time. It was already the next day, meaning his sister had been in that basement for not less than 24 hours. The boy never had to go there and thus had no idea what happened during that time.
Always took the trouble, no matter how bad things got and Axel hated that more than anything. He wanted nothing more than to protect his sister and seeing how many times he's failed, how many times she protected him instead, it made him feel powerless and weak. For now, all he could do was gently lay her down on the couch and get Hide to make her some food. It seemed like such a small thing in his eyes and had no idea just how much that gesture meant to his sister. Hide always made Onigiri when things got especially bad like today.  Axel sitting down beside his sister as they waited for the eldest sibling to finish.
As the sound of boiling water and the scent of cooking rice filled the air, a melancholic smile smeared onto Ayame's pale, worn out face and once again, she knew that things could be alright. Maybe not today, nor tomorrow but one day. As long as everyone was alive, they had a chance to make their lives better and for that future, Ayame was ready to give her life.
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queen-of-bel · 2 years ago
Another Devil Survivor character analysis! This time, I'll be talking about my favorite SMT law rep, Amane.
naoya | kaido | atsuro | gin | mari
As the Shomonkai's maiden, Amane is a very quiet and reserved girl. I think most of her personality is shaped by her father, who has very clear expectations for what kind of person Amane should be.
Amane seems to be very distant and detached from other people. We know she's not in school anymore as her father pulled her out of school once she finished her compulsory education to focus on her duties as the Shomonkai's maiden. But even while she was a student, I can't imagine she had many friends. Her dad is a cult leader, and Amane is part of that cult, so I think she may have been alienated by her peers while she was in school.
If we look at how the other members of the Shomonkai treat her, we can see that she's basically placed on a pedestal and revered among them. They always call her "Lady Amane" despite her young age.
Essentially, I don't think Amane has ever had any meaningful interaction with people her age, or at least someone who views her as an equal. This lack of connection leads her to become seemingly detached to other people, and I think this is exactly how her father took advantage of her.
As I mentioned earlier, Amane's father has a very strict and precise image of how his daughter should act. She is the maiden of the Shomonkai. She should be calm, charismatic, and above all, display leadership qualities equaling his own.
The first time we see these expectations is actually in the prologue of the game. After Naoya tells Amane that the demon summoning program is complete, Amane asks Naoya if he would be willing to cooperate with the Shomonkai.
Now, if Naoya agreed to this, it would be a huge win for the Shomonkai, and this isn't something they can afford to mess up. Amane's father needs to be certain that he gave this his best effort.
I would've assumed that the founder himself would be the one to ask, but the fact that he asked his 16 year old daughter to do so instead says to me that he expects her to be able to deliver the same results he would have.
Another thing I want to point out is that I think it's very possible that Amane was Naoya's primary point of contact throughout his development of the demon summoning program. If Naoya was primarily in contact with somebody else throughout his time working with them, it would be weird that Naoya delivers the finished product to somebody other than that person. Again, the founder's plan hinges on the success of the demon summoning program. To put her as the face of this project instead of himself really speaks volumes about his expectations of Amane.
Even if Naoya's point of contact was somebody else, we know for sure that her father trusted her enough to ask for Naoya's help. We can start to see how high his expectations for Amane were, and imagine how the pressure of this must have affected her.
Another example of Amane's, quite frankly, dysfunctional relationship with her father is with the whole Jezebel mess. When Belberith made a pact with her father, her father agreed to place Jezebel inside Amane. I think we need to pause and really acknowledge how fucked up that is to do that to your own child.
Now, I'll be honest. I don't think her father did any of this with any malicious intent. Her father does love her and care about the wellbeing of humanity, but these feelings are extremely misguided. He's a naive and idealistic man, as we see when he takes Belberith's words at face value. He also believes in the greater good, thinking that the lives of the people who were killed by the summoned demons are a necessary sacrifice for humanity's survival.
Amane initially shares these sentiments, but when she starts hearing another perspective from Remiel, she begins to change her mind.
Like her father, she still wants humanity to survive the ordeal sent by YHVH, but she now sees there's a way to do so without causing so much destruction and chaos.
Amane defying her father and siding with the angels actually is another perfect example of how detached she is from humanity.
The truth is, the lockdown was caused by a single person-- Amane's father (no, Naoya has no fault in this. my Naoya analysis has the justification for this). As such, humanity's potential judgement day is solely the responsibility of the Shomonkai's founder.
Now, to kill everyone in the lockdown and strip away the freedom of every person on the planet based on the actions of a single person is... harsh, to say the very least. If you're not only going to agree with, but also advocate for the ones who propose that idea, you have to be disconnected from humanity.
I'm in no way trying to say that she's a mean or cruel person, but to me, her viewing humanity as a collective whole as opposed to being made up by billions of individuals does reinforce the fact that she lacks meaningful connections with people.
Still, she's only doing this because she thinks this is a better outcome for humanity. Her primary goal above all else is to save as many people as possible. Unfortunately, for most of the game, she has only really been exposed to 2 methods: her father's, and the angels'. Both are extreme, but the success of one plan would mean far fewer casualties than the success of the other.
Amane doesn't really want to side with the angels, but for her, it's more of a "lesser of two evils" type of situation. Her actions on Naoya's no kill route prove this.
She at first very strongly objects to Kazuya becoming the King of Bel because she believes he will use the power of demons for evil. As of the seventh day, she still believes that becoming the Messiah would be the best way to save humanity.
On the eighth day, however, Remiel flees from her mind and returns to heaven. Remiel does so in order to prepare God's Thunder to purge the world, but Amane doesn't know this yet.
As I said before, Amane lacks real friendship or connections with other people. I think it's safe to assume that Remiel was the first person/being to treat Amane as something other than the Shomonkai's maiden. I'm sure she was already traumatized by her father placing Jezebel in her, so the comfort of divine intervention was something she clung on to.
So how did she feel when she realized Remiel had abandoned her without explanation? Hurt, for sure, possibly betrayed. Her father has already been killed by Belberith, and her only other source of comfort is now gone.
She initially feels bad for failing Remiel. She really thought she'd be able to convince Kazuya to become the Messiah, but instead, the opposite happened. After seeing how hard Kazuya is working for humanity's sake, however, those reservations disappear.
It's at this point that she realizes she was just a tool for both sides. Her ability to hear both holy and unholy voices was manipulated by demons and angels, and that realization came crashing down on her.
If Kazuya chooses to convince humans that the angels are the true enemy instead of killing all those with dissenting opinions, Amane will attempt to take lead of the Shomonkai, vows to never yield to YHVH and the angels.
She steps into the battle when a faction of Shomonkai members who are still loyal to Belberith attack Kazuya. If Kazuya saves her, it solidifies her opinion that Kazuya's path is the correct one to follow, and she pledges allegiance to the Overlord.
This is a very drastic shift from her moral stance two days prior, but it's actually very in line with who she is. Remember, Amane isn't necessarily on the angels' side, but the side which will save the most humans. After seeing that Kazuya ordered the demons to stop attacking humans, and knowing that the angels are more manipulative and selfish than she originally thought, she now sees the best way to ensure everyone's safety.
In the fight against Metatron, Metatron asks Amane why she has switched sides. Amane firmly states her wishes have never changed. Sick of being manipulated by both demons and angels, she goes on to say that humans must now stand up to regain control of their own world.
Interestingly, this moment is the only time we see Amane speak with such emotion and conviction for herself. Even in her route, she still has the calm demeanor she's always had. When she thanks Kazuya, she thanks him on behalf of Remiel and the other angels. But in Naoya's route, when she defies Metatron, it really feels like she's speaking for her own beliefs. She's not spreading the teachings of her father. She's not speaking to others on behalf of the angels. It feels like she's finally broken out of the shell that her father built for her, and she's standing up for what she believes in, as Amane Kuzuryu and nobody else.
Amane is a very sad character to me because she's always been used her whole life. She's devoid of any personality of her own because everything about her very existence has been strictly dictated by her father. The angels manipulated her and she followed that path because she felt it was her only option. It feels more like she's just a shell of a person, only walking the path she's on because somebody else led her there. She's a lonely person who was never allowed the opportunity to express herself or be who she wants to be.
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Ignore This Post If You Don’t Want To Deal With Heavy Stuff
This is a personal post and it’s not a fun one. If you’d rather not deal with my stuff, I’d try to scroll past this one.
I’m just really hurt and I need to get this out of my system.
It’s not news that my dad is an abusive piece of shit if you’ve been following me for a while. Truth be told, my mom isn’t that much better. She feeds off of his toxicity that he shows to her and takes out the bullshit of being married to him onto me.
I was a teen pregnancy in the South. Go fucking figure.
And I’ve been abused by them for the last 20+ years. Usually psychological and emotional, but it has gotten physical. As sick as it is, I’m kind of glad they take out most their bullshit on me. That means my brothers get as little of it as possible, but they still aren’t immune when my dad goes on rampages.
One light in my life is my grandmother. My dad’s mom. I don’t know how he ended up this way with a mother like her. Unfortunately the closest thing I’ve had to a real dad, her husband, is no longer with us.
I actually kept a lot of the abuse a secret from them. I don’t know why. Fear? The belief that I deserved it somehow? I don’t know if Max ever really knew how badly my dad was killing me. Part of me wishes he didn’t.
My grandmother has become more aware of the abuse over the last few years because I’ve been more open about it. But I still kept secrets. I never told her that I was diagnosed with PTSD. I never told her how my dad would hunt me down if I tried to run from him, or the time he hit me and then threatened to let me live on the street if I ran away from home again, or the time he ripped my door off it’s hinges because I was trying to hide from him and made me live without a door for 6 months because I “didn’t deserve privacy”, or when he ripped my tv out of the wall and threw it out the window...
And I don’t think I could ever bring myself to tell her about my suicide attempt when I was 12 and how when he found out I tried to kill myself he started screaming at me more. Telling me I was selfish and how I would go to hell. I can’t tell her about any of my other attempts either.
She’s appalled by her son’s behavior. Rightfully so. And she does her best to protect me, but there’s only so much she can do. She’d let me live with her again like I did last summer if she could because she wants me away from him, but my uncle and his sons needed a place to live so there’s no room for me. I’m not angry at that reasoning at all, I swear. She did the right thing and my cousins really needed her. I’m glad she could help them.
Things were already tense at the house because of what happened my graduation day. I used my preferred name when I crossed the stage because I, mistakenly, thought that that one day was about me and I should have been as happy and comfortable as possible. My father disagreed. But my grandmother defended me because I did nothing wrong.
That was the first time my grandmother got a taste of his behavior as an adult directly. She’d dealt with his violence as a teenager, but it was never directed at her before. 
Things seemed to have gotten better these past few months. My parents found a use in me.
My little brothers are in their school band and my mother asked me to help them with a fundraiser: a dinner play they wanted to put on. Since I had experience with theater, I knew that putting on a dinner play was going to be more expensive than they anticipated. Paying for the royalties and copyright alone would put them in the red. So, I offered to write one myself. For free.
I spent days learning how to write a play because I’d only done stories and poems before and I spent days writing it until it was good enough to put my name on. It wasn’t Shakespeare, sure, but I was proud of it. And people seemed to like it, so we were getting ready to make it a reality. I would direct it and kids from my brothers’ school would act in it after I held auditions.
I was so excited that something I wrote would be out there for people to enjoy. I was so excited to work with the stage again and help kids find a passion for the theater.
Today we had auditions. Or we were supposed to.
Only four kids showed up. That was less people than there were parts.
But, I gave them a fair audition. And I passed out parts as I could. I even gave a part to girl even though I knew she would be better for a different part, but she was the only one that auditioned for that part and I had no other choice. I gave a part to a kid who couldn’t act worth a damn because I had no one else, so I told her she could have the part and I would work with her to help her get the performance I was looking for.
I was crushed! I was told that so many people were interested in my play and that the drama class would join in because they liked the idea.
But I didn’t take that out on the kids or their auditions. Everyone got a fair shot.
But, my cast wasn’t completed. My mother told me that they would invite other kids and try to fill in the missing parts with more auditions and I agreed because what else could I do?
I made it clear that the cast we had wasn’t the official one and I did not give out scripts to the “cast” to learn there lines because of it.
But then I found out the reason auditions were so bare. The posters advertising the auditions gave out the wrong date! The drama kids were told the wrong day!
The adults in charge, myself included, missed a crucial mistake and kids that were enthusiastic about the auditions missed their chance!
So I made it clear that we would have more auditions on Monday for those who missed out because it wasn’t their fault.
And, since these were supposed to be fair and equal auditions, I told everyone upfront. If there were other students that were better in these roles, the unofficial cast would lose the part they were given.
Because that’s how auditions work. Everyone gets a fair chance and the part goes to the best person for the role.
Apparently, this makes me selfish and power-hungry. 
My mother went on a tirade about how I should give special treatment and show favoritism to the students that showed up on the right day, despite the fact the the other students missed out because we messed up.
I told her no because the other students needed fair auditions.
She told me I wasn’t allowed to do my play if I was “going to hurt people’s feelings.” As if the children were toddlers that didn’t understand what auditions were. She claimed that me rejecting students would cause some sort of uprising.
I stood my ground. Everyone gets an equal chance.
If they wouldn’t do that, then they couldn’t use my play.
So my play was cancelled.
And it crushed me. So, I went to my room, privately, and cried.
Because I was hurt.
And I called my grandmother, who knew how hard I worked on the play and how excited I was to help. And I cried.
And then my father came home.
I heard him screaming down the hall at me. His voice was booming and I got scared. I was terrified. I was trembling. I thought he would come after me. I started pleading “No, no, no” under my breath but he could hear me and it made him even angrier.
He started screaming at me that I was behaving like a selfish child. His favorite insult when I wouldn’t do what he wanted. He called me power-hungry. I heard him banging on the walls so I knew how badly he wanted to hit me. He threatened me that he would give me a reason to act the way I was acting as if fearing him to my core wasn’t reason enough.
And I was still on the phone with a grandmother. She heard every word.
As quietly I started pleading with her to get me out of there. That I was scared and that I wasn’t safe. That I was afraid he was going to hurt me.
She told me to just hide in my room, but I knew that wasn’t a safe option because he rip the door off it’s hinges like he did before. And that was the first time I told her about that,
“He better not touch you.” She said that after a moment of silence once I revealed how much of a monster her son really was. Secrets started flooding out of me about what he’s done to me. How he hit me and when I ran away those women brought me back to him. I needed help I need to get out.
She tried to stay quiet so he couldn’t hear us.
She told me that she couldn’t come get me because that would make things worse. And I knew she was right. She was an abuse survivor herself and she knew what he would do to me if he knew I called for help from his mother.
She said she would get me tomorrow just to get me out of the house and to call her again when he couldn’t hear me anymore if he came back.
I skipped dinner that night. I was starving, but it didn’t seem worth it to go upstairs. Not while I was still crying. He hated me even more when I cried.
I couldn’t stop crying for a long time. Eventually I went numb. I hate when I go numb. I know he hates my emotions but I need them. I don’t want to feel nothing.
I’m sorry if some of the typing got erratic. I started crying again. I couldn’t see. 
If you stuck around this long. I’m sorry. You’re probably dealing with your own stuff and didn’t really need mine, but I did warn you.
But if you have stuck around this long. Thank you. I need to know that there are others that care. I don’t want to feel alone.
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nerdy-on-main · 3 years ago
I love Book XV.  The possibilities for crazy theories are endless.  And boy, do I have them.
Namely, that The MC Hasn’t Bargained with the Devil Yet.
Bargaining with the Devil so far seems pointless, on some level.  Nothing seems to hinge on the MC’s decision.  Regardless of what the MC chooses, Lucio will get the body back.  Neither the Devil nor Lucio seem to need the MC to say yes at all.
The Devil already has everything he requires to see things through.  Or, if it’s not entirely his doing, he knows the other players already have what they need.  The MC becoming incorporeal and Lucio returning are either the results of the efforts of others - like the “bridge” Valdemar creates, perhaps, in Julian’s route - or the fulfillment of bargains already in play.
The MC’s decision does not affect the Devil’s plans at this point.  So, assuming he isn’t just doing this for a laugh - why does he offer?
(Lots of details, some fringe stuff, TL;DR at the End)
Additionally, despite the obvious stakes of life and death for the entire city, this doesn’t feel like a deal with the Devil.  (Although that’s usually true, in stories like these.)  He asks for trivial things, and the MC is not bound and marked like the other characters, resulting from their deals.  The MC’s body doesn’t share “the sign of a bargain struck” - although, granted, if the MC chooses to deal, they immediately lose possession of their physical form, so perhaps that’s not the best metric.
None of the Major Arcana, including the Devil, can lie, but they can omit information or twist the truth.  This is important.  The Devil never mentions whatever other factors might be in play.  The only constant truths the Devil indicates are that he doesn’t like Lucio and would prefer not to work with him, that he’s curious about the MC, and that the plague will return.
I would argue that this indicates that the MC is being primed to deal with the Devil in the future, and, since everything else proceeds as it would have already, the offer the Devil extends to the MC was NOT an actual bargain, but rather an experiment to test the MC’s willingness to bargain.
Which begs the question:
If events are already set in motion, and the Devil doesn’t need the MC’s cooperation at all, what does the Devil have to gain from the MC (or their LIs) at this point, or in the future?
For which we need to consider:
What is being offered?  To whom?  Why - what does this allow?  What is (or isn’t) specified in the deal?
In Julian’s route:
Lucio arrives first, to “extend a special offer” to Julian and the MC.
“Since you’re soooo worried about the plague, he [Lucio’s ‘patron’] can stop it from coming back. Forever.”
He gets one last snide comment in before disappearing: “Not that it matters if you say no.  I’ve got friends in high places... and friends inside the palace.  They’ll make sure I’m back in time for the big show.  Just you wait.”
Why wouldn’t the choice matter?  If it didn’t matter, why make the offer?
Once Valdemar and the Devil are found in the maze, the Devil promises that despite Valdemar’s threats, “no harm will come to you... while I am here.”
The Devil promises “the plague will never trouble this realm again” if the MC spends one night with the Devil in the realm between.
The offer is made to both Julian and the MC.  Both Lucio and the Devil speak as if Julian and the MC would be partners in the effort, but the offer specifies that it would be the MC between realms.  The MC’s company is the “trivial” cost.
The full offer is here:
“Join me in the realm between for one night.  That’s all I ask.  In return, I swear that the plague will never trouble this realm again.  You’ll be free to go at sunrise.  In the meantime, I will not harm you, or anyone at this party.”
“It’s such a strange request that I feel stunned.”
It is a strange request, because it sounds clear enough, with so many details... but the specificity of the details is also cause for concern.
The plague will never trouble this realm again.  But will it be cured, stopped, destroyed?
The MC will be free to go at sunrise.  But will they be able to?
In the meantime, I will not harm you, or anyone at this party.  But will anyone be hurt afterward?  Will someone else - someone standing right there making threats, be able to harm Julian and the MC?  Will people elsewhere still be in danger?
Regardless of the MC’s choice, both the MC and Julian find themselves in the realm between.
If the MC refuses, the Devil lets Valdemar continue with their plan: they perform some sort of alchemy, and both Julian and the MC’s bodies fail, forcing them into the realm between.
If the MC accepts, the Devil grins, curls his finger... and that’s the last mention of him.  The MC feels a jolt in their chest, and they’re stricken with pain. Julian grabs their arm and is also hurt.  As a result, both of them are ripped from their physical bodies.
The MC’s body dissolves, and Valdemar drags Julian’s off with them.
The choice seems pointless and cruel.  It’s unclear whether it’s Julian’s actions, Valdemar’s, or the Devil’s which pull Julian from his body when the MC accepts.  Is it because he grabbed the MC’s arm?  Because Valdemar followed through with their threat the instant the Devil disappeared?  Because the bargain prevents the plague from existing in this realm, and somehow both Julian and MC are still linked to it via their previous illness?
Julian had asked a pertinent question, “Why make us an offer in the first place?  What do you care about the plague?”
The Devil had responded, “I don’t.  The plague isn’t my doing, and I have nothing to gain from it.  You, on the other hand, will lose a great deal if it returns. [...] Stopping the plague is only a trivial effort for one such as myself.”
What makes the plague a “trivial matter” for the Devil?  Is his power really so great, or does a way to stop it already exist?
For good or ill, does accepting this bargain accomplish anything that wasn’t going to happen already?
In Nadia’s route:
The Devil promises to “handle” Lucio, and in three days time, “he will be gone forever.  You will never see him again” ... if the MC and Nadia agree not to interfere with the Devil’s plans for the next three days.
“I can promise no harm will come to you, MC, nor any of the rest of the partygoers at my hand.”
He makes this offer to Nadia.  She asks the MC their opinion, but, ultimately decides to refuse the Devil’s bargain, and he shrugs it off.
“If you’re so set on doing this yourself, very well.  I promise I will not get in your way. [...] I will admit, I’m quite curious to see what you come up with.”
There’s a few interesting parts of this conversation.
At the start of the conversation, the Devil speaks of their “common enemy” - but he never explicitly says that enemy is Lucio - he lets Nadia and the MC assume that.
If the MC says, “You’re our enemy”, he deflects.  He states the fact that Asra, Julian, and Portia had lied to Nadia, which is true, but he lets her anger flare up and never actually says that this “common enemy” is Lucio.
If the MC asks him, “Who is it?”, he distracts.  He makes a show of reviving a desiccated pomegranate, and says, “I think you both know.  There is someone who has been a nasty thorn in your side lately.” Which, again, could be true.  There have been quite a few people that could fit that description, actually.  But, again, he still never explicitly says “the enemy is Lucio.”
His segueing comment is, “Lucio will soon outgrow his uses.  And, frankly, I find the man distasteful.”  And, once Nadia and the Devil agree that “distasteful” is an understatement, he says “It is within my abilities to remove Lucio from the equation for good.”
These are stated explicitly. They must be true.  If Lucio is already firmly in the Devil’s grasp... why would he outgrow his uses?
The fact that there’s a stipulated time limit is also interesting.  What will happen in three days?  Is it possible that Lucio wouldn’t be around past that time anyway?
In Asra’s route:
The Devil offers to reunite Asra and Faust, in return for the MC’s time and company.
If the MC accepts the Devil’s offer, they are “compelled” to respond to his question whether they enjoyed the Masquerade.  That, I think, is actually curiosity on the part of the Devil.  He wants to know the person he might work with.
If the MC tells him they did enjoy it, he mentions that it’s unfortunate it didn’t come sooner.  If you tell him you didn’t, he says there’s no pleasing everyone.  Either way, the Devil emphasizes that Nadia worked so hard, and that it would be nice if someone appreciated her efforts.
In Asra’s route, the Devil is the most persistent.  He keeps pushing the MC’s limits, and he keeps comparing them to Lucio.  If they accept right away, they’re “reasonable and efficient” - unlike Lucio.  If they initially refuse, then accept, they’re still “reasonable” - he “knew [they’d] come around” - but he knows they’re stubborn, and now he knows their limits a little better.  If they refuse twice, he threatens Asra and Faust, and calls them irresponsible.  The MC doesn’t care about them.  If the MC then accepts, for their safety, he tells them that it’s “a relief” and that “[They] didn’t really have to make this so hard for [them]self.” - as if they were always fighting the inevitable.
...Just like Lucio.
The most disturbing part of the deal, to me, is that it is offered to the MC directly, and the Devil refuses to deal with Asra.
Asra: Get on with it.  Tell me what you want.
He all but spits the words out through clenched teeth.
The Devil: Oh, not from you.  We’ve already dealt, you and I.
“Oh, not from you.  We’ve already dealt, you and I.”
I’ve saved Asra’s for last, because this is the part that bothers me.  In Nadia’s route, the Devil offers her the choice.  In Julian’s, although the decision is ultimately the MC’s, the Devil doesn’t say that Julian couldn’t be the one to decide.  Asra is denied, because he and the Devil have already made a deal.
That could be participation in the ritual, but I don’t think that’s true.  If taking part in the ritual nullified future bargains - then why are Nadia and Julian not excluded as well?  We know that Julian made his deal with the Hanged Man.  We witness it in Book XIII.  It is implied that Nadia made her bargain with the High Priestess, though I don’t believe that was revealed explicitly.
Although Asra represents The Magician in the ritual... he never says that his bargain was with The Magician.  I think that the Devil excludes Asra, because Asra’s bargain was with him.
The Major Arcana can be contacted via personal connection and identification, or via extreme personal circumstances.  What wasn’t extreme about the circumstances Asra was under during the last Masquerade?
The card Asra draws in Book X of his route is The Devil, presumably about Lucio.  But Nadia and the MC both draw cards about themselves.
“... The Devil.  A trap that I’ve let myself fall into... a bond I refuse to escape.  That’s ominous... this one was Lucio’s favorite.  What could it mean?”
I think Asra is worried about the MC dealing with the Devil, because he already has.
The effects in the ritual room - the private dining room, might be telling.  Although other people have been in and near the private dining room, Asra is particularly affected.  Only Asra seems compelled in the ritual room.  Everyone else (Mercedes, Melchior, Volta, Muriel, Nadia) is unsettled, but Asra is physically affected.  In his route, Book XII, his compulsion is strong enough to pull him into his seat.  In Nadia’s route, it’s not as strong, but his reaction is similar.
“Asra stares overlong at a plate near Nadia’s seat, spine rigid.”
And that could explain why the chains form around Asra when he tries to search for Faust.  He can’t act against the Devil, because he is beholden to him.  If the Devil doesn’t want him to be able to summon Faust, he won’t be able to.
Also in Book X of Asra’s route, when Lucio pins Asra to the wall, if the MC yells, “You’re stronger than him,” Asra looks shocked, and Lucio responds, “You think your little master is stronger than me?!  I’ve got him wriggling like a worm!  Pinned like a mere bug!  I found a real master here... you could have this too, Asra.  You just have to accept him.”
The difference between Asra and Lucio is that Asra made his bargain and quit.  Lucio accepted the Devil and kept working with him.
Why would the Devil make a deal with both Asra and Lucio?  Because he can gain two servants without changing terms.  Because the Devil’s in the details.  And although he has to speak the truth, he’s not held to anything he doesn’t explicitly state.
For me, this brings the “three days” specification back to mind.  What if the Devil promised to revive the MC for Asra, and promised that Lucio would return “for the Masquerade” - or some similar specification of terms?  Asra’s bargain is immediately upheld.  Lucio gets sent between planes for a period of time.  The Countess goes comatose, the Count is presumed dead - the Masquerade never finishes.  That’s why the ritual room - the private dining room - is warped in on itself.  That’s why there’s all the warnings that the MC is running out of time.  The next Masquerade starts, reaches the point where things previously left off, and then Lucio’s bargain comes into play.
And, in the meantime, the MC becomes desperate to get back, to stop Lucio, and prevent the spread of the plague; to get back, and help the people that love them. 
And that’s when the Devil will have an opportunity to get a third bargain.
The only full, universal truth, which the Devil mentions in all three routes, is that he doesn’t like Lucio.  Lucio’s a poor servant, a spoiled, whiny brat, and the Devil is tired of dealing with him.
So why would he?  Why did he deal in the past?  What would make it worth the trouble of accepting his bargain in the first place?  Lucio’s not a magician.  Lucio’s not reasonable.  Lucio never thinks of things in the big picture.
The Devil never mentions whether Lucio is back for good.  Only one person, Lucio or the MC, can be corporeal at a time, due to the constraints of the ritual... but that doesn’t mean that Lucio’s bargain with the Devil ever explicitly stated that he would be back forever.  If Lucio hasn’t returned permanently, the MC already has a chance at getting their body back - maybe in three days time.  But, since the MC doesn’t know that, they’re more likely to panic, to get desperate, to make a deal.
“He will return uninvited.  He will offer you a gift when you need it most... Turn it away, or you will fall into his hand... Just like the rest of us.”
Muriel doesn’t talk much.  He never says that “He” refers to the same entity throughout.
“He [Lucio] will return uninvited.  He [The Devil] will offer you a gift when you need it most.” - So far, the results seem trivial, unaffected by the MC’s choice.  How can we be sure this is the time of that offer?
“Turn it away, or you will fall into his hand... Just like the rest of us.”
The Devil only makes bargains where he comes out on top.
If Lucio isn’t permanent, neither is the plague.  That’s why dealing with the plague is a “trivial” matter for the Devil.  That’s how the Devil can promise that the plague will never trouble this realm again.
Lucio’s return might not be permanent, regardless of current plans and schemes on any side.
The events of the past are always the same, regardless of the MC’s choices in the present, regardless of which path they choose.  Events already in motion proceed as they will, as per the terms of the bargains at the time they were created.
Which could mean... this was always a trap for the MC.  The Devil’s put up with Lucio for this long, and been so gentle with Asra, because he wants the MC to serve him.
As far as curses go, Asra’s is mild.  Nearly pleasant. Bring someone back from the dead, and the only result is you share your heart with them?  Feelings?  Memories? Why, that’s not so bad, is it?
If they care so much about each other... why not foster that bond?  Let them both come to you, to protect each other.  After all, isn’t that what they’ve talked about before?  Disappearing into their own world, together?  Nothing else matters, if they’re together.
All the more reason to accept the deal.
And, even if the MC didn’t choose Asra... wouldn’t they still want to help?  To see Julian’s good intentions and Nadia’s well-laid plans finally pay off?  They deserve so much better than what they’ve been through - what they’re still having to go through now.
And, the MC might, eventually, be in the position to guarantee that they succeed... for a price.
The only thing being tested is the MC’s willingness to bargain.  Everything else proceeds as it would have already.
The only thing that differs, that can be measured as a result of the Devil’s offers, promises, and threats, is the MC’s willingness to bargain, which the Devil might simply find interesting as a momentary diversion, OR, because information is being gathered for something that hasn’t happened YET.
And, by having made the offer at all, the Devil has made the MC statistically more likely to choose to bargain afterward.  His chances are improved regardless of whether or not the MC agreed to the current offer.
If the MC did agree, the Devil could point out that, yes, well, things might not have gone the way the MC would have liked, but the Devil did keep his word... and now, surely, the MC has become wise to the Devil’s antics and would know what to expect?  It would be sooooooo much more difficult for him to pull the wool over MC’s eyes now... and besides, now it’s no longer a trivial matter.  Now, the MC really needs him.
If the MC did NOT agree, the Devil could argue, “Well, we didn’t deal before, and look what happened!  You couldn’t have wanted this!” - which is NOT an untrue statement.  It implies there was a connection between the possible deal in Book XV and the ultimate outcome, but it doesn’t explicitly state that outright.
The Devil does keep his word, if you choose to deal with him.
In Asra’s route, the Devil keeps pushing you to say yes, and will fulfill the terms of his bargain.  Asra and Faust are reunited, either in the physical realm or the realm between, and they both arrive at the ballroom unharmed.  In Julian’s route, it’s harder to tell.  The Devil specifies that no harm will come to them while the Devil is present, and then immediately leaves, leaving Valdemar to do whatever they want, which, primarily, is “harm”.  The fate of the plague is unknown, but might be under the effects of plans already in motion.  In Nadia’s, he simply promises not to get in her way, which might mean they were never at odds to begin with.
So, what does the Devil get out of the offers he makes in Book XV?
At most, it makes things already in motion go a little more smoothly.  At the very least, he gets what he requests of them... and that’s only really relevant in Asra’s route.  He does get your company, for a brief time.  In Nadia’s, no deal takes place, and in Julian’s, they join him between realms - and he seems to leave them there.
In all three, what he gains is insight - into how the MC makes decisions, and how their presence or absence affects the people around them.
Now, either the Devil is screwing around with the MC and their LI for the hell of it (no pun intended), which, of course, is fully possible - he IS the Devil, after all...
...Or he’s setting the MC up for something else.
The possibility remains that the MC is being groomed to deal with the Devil - later.
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thesffcorner · 2 years ago
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Glass is written and directed by M Night Shyamalan. It’s the third film in a series that started 19 years ago with Unbreakable and takes place 3 weeks after the events of Split. It follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who after the death of his wife, has become a vigilante, dubbed the Overseer by the public. He has been trying to find the Beast (James McAvoy), who has in the intervening time kidnapped 2 more sets of girls. However, during their confrontation they get ambushed by the police and admitted into a sanatorium, under the eye of Dr Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist who has three days to ‘cure’ both of them from their delusion that they are superheroes.
I really enjoyed this film. It still suffers from some pacing and dialogues issues, as do most of Shyamalan’s films, but a lot of the problems I had with Split, are fixed here. It’s a clever examination of our culture’s perception of superheroes and extraordinary humans, and I think it’s a fitting conclusion to David, Kevin and Elijah’s story-lines.
I think the best way to talk about this film, would be to go over the characters, because much like Fantastic Beasts, the positives and negatives are tied to the various character story-lines. So, in descending order let’s start with the positives.
Kevin Wendell Crumb:
Kevin’s character, I feel has both the strongest arc, and gets most of the screen times, so it’s only fitting we start with him. In the intervening time between Split and Glass, the Horde, we find out has kidnapped two more sets of girls, a group of cheerleaders being the last one. All of the personalities we saw in Split make a comeback, and while I still maintain that Hedwig is the MVP, and best character, I was surprised at how much I both liked and looked forward to seeing Dennis, Patricia and Kevin himself.
I really do have to comment MacAvoy; he is genuinely the reason this character works at all. He has such a good grasp on all these different characters, that me and my friends just had fun guessing which personality had the light in different scenes, and we all guessed first try, often without even McAvoy having any dialogue. He is so good at creating different mannerisms and body language for each character, and they are all (especially the main 5) are recognizable and distinguished from each other.
I was also happy to see a ton of the other personalities. I didn’t count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we did see all 24 of them; there are two scenes where the asylum uses hypnotic lights to cycle between the different characters in Kevin’s body, and we get a taste of most if not all of them. None of the other personalities get any real weight to the story, but I did like the subtle hints that the Horde was disintegrating, with some people joining Patricia and Dennis, and some maintaining to fight against them.
Speaking of Dennis, I was SHOCKED that I actually liked him in this film. I think the smaller role actually helped establish what was meant to be his conflict in Split, which was his desire to protect Kevin, and Patricia’s indoctrination that only the Beast can truly do that, with his hesitance to kill any of the girls. He is faced with Casey, and her being amicable and caring about Kevin are what really push him over the edge into realizing the Beast is wrong, and I really liked that.
Patricia was the weakest of the mains in Split, but here she gets some interesting scenes with Elijah. She is the Beast's priestess and first disciple, but even her faith and commitment waver in the face of someone like David Dunn who is capable of all the things the Beast is, and maybe even stronger. She was the one that was the most susceptible to Dr. Staple’s ‘therapy’ because she’s the most committed to the idea that the Beast is superhuman; if he isn’t and he is just a mad monster, than Patricia has to come to terms with the fact that all the people she killed for him were innocent and for nothing.
Hedwig doesn’t really get an arc, but he is still the most entertaining and funniest character. He gets several scenes to shine with Elijah and David, but the stand out was definitely his ‘relationship’ with Casey, which brought some much needed levity to this otherwise bleak film.
Kevin, who didn’t get much time to shine in Split, gets a bigger role here. I thought the idea of him more or less imprinting on Casey because she was the one to show him kindness and their shared trauma was fine as a character turn. What I didn’t really like or understand were the weird romantic undertones between them, and also Casey's speech to him about what happened to her uncle after the Beast let her go, should have made no sense to Kevin, since he didn’t know about her scars; it felt like it was directed at the audience, as Shyamalan realized Casey didn’t get any conclusion in the last film.
As for the Beast, I really liked the way Elijah essentially manipulates him to fall perfectly in his plan, and I think the film does a decent job at presenting the duality of him being at once, there to protect Kevin from the world, and at the same time a destructive and evil force in the world.
Elijah Pierce:
Speaking of Elijah, he was by far my favorite character in the film. Samuel L Jackson is great in any role, but here he brings a real joy to this character that’s at the same time appalling, and sympathetic and pitiable. He makes terrible decisions, hurts people and has no concern for anyone other than as to how they fit in his grand scheme, and yet you can’t help but root for him. He’s incredibly clever, and his medical condition makes it near impossible for me to hate him, mostly because there are plenty of characters who treat him poorly in the film.
This entire plot hinges on his plan, and while I won’t spoil it, I will say that I DID NOT see either of the twists coming, and I was pleasantly surprised with the direction the film took. Jackson got some great interactions with both Willis and McAvoy, and I really liked that he not once is tempted to believe that what Dr Staple tells him is true; that’s why she decides to perform the ‘procedure’ on him immediately. I also really liked the scenes he gets with his mother, especially at the end; I thought that was a very touching moment, and humanized a rather monstrous character.
David Dunn:
David was the only character I feel like was rather wasted in this film. He has a lot of screen time especially at the start of the film, while he’s still trying to find the Beast, and I really liked the Batman/Oracle dynamic he has with his son Joseph throughout the film. Unfortunately, once the characters are in the asylum, he sort of gets lost in the shuffle, and doesn’t really have a proper arc like Kevin or Elijah. He basically goes through the same arc he had in Unbreakable, except less well executed, and faster.
and he’s the one that really puts a wrench in the ‘therapy’ Dr Staple has, which is hard to explain without talking about Dr. Staple.
Dr. Ellie Staple:
Dr Staple specialized in people who have delusions that they are superhumans, so she spends most of the film trying to convince the three, especially Kevin and David, that they don’t. Except this isn’t really convincing as a potential twist, because we KNOW that David and the Beast are capable of doing superhuman things. With David, he’s never been sick, he’s never broken a bone, he survived a train crash that killed everyone else, he can lift more than weightlifters in their prime, he can sustain heavy blows and injuries in his body, and he looks amazing for someone who at that point is probably around 60. Even the explanation of his visions felt too contrived; the movie doesn’t make an effort to disguise the way he figures out Hedwig is the Beast by showing us the ‘clues’ that he supposedly picked up on to make that judgement; it’s very clearly some form of superpower, and I don’t see how anyone in the audience would believe even for a second that David isn’t superhuman.
The same goes for the Beast; I don’t care how good at parkour and rock climbing you are, you can NOT walk on ceilings, stick to flat surfaces or throw metal tables like they weigh nothing as a human, you just simple can not. Getting shot at point blank even via a malfunctioning shotgun would KILL YOU. This whole section felt like wasted time, because I as an audience member at no point believed any of it was true, and really disliked that out of all people the one that it worked best on was David.
There is much more I can say about Staple, but I won’t because of spoilers. The one thing I will say, is that it makes sense that she would try to dissuade the trio from believing they are gifted first, and I understand why that part was in the film, I just feel like maybe it would have worked better, if we didn’t already have two previous films where we establish their powers already.
The other thing was that she was just a horrible psychiatrist. Letting Casey talk to Kevin, but not letting Joseph see his dad, claiming that David attacked one of the cheerleaders when there are witnesses that he didn’t, using water to subdue David in what is essentially torture, while at the same time telling him his fear of drowning and isn’t actually his kryptonite because he’s a regular man… look it makes sense at the end, but without that twist, you begin wondering WHO RUNS THIS SHOW? How is this legal?
Casey, Mrs. Pierce and Joseph:
Joseph was the one who had the least amount of screen-time and least to do. I liked his role as a tech wizard, Oracle-style figure to David, and I enjoyed the scene where he writes a speech to convince Dr Staple that his dad is just a senile old man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but other than that he doesn’t have much to do.
I liked Mrs. Pierce the most, because I really like her relationship with Elijah. I appreciate that she acknowledges that he is not a good man, and has done horrible things, while also loving and caring about him deeply, and being proud of his intelligence and strength. She was a really good character.
Casey I liked better here, because she was a little more proactive, but I still don’t really understand why she cared about Kevin to the extent that she does. First, he did hold her hostage and try to eat her, ate two of her classmates, and then ‘let her go’ in the sense that he left her locked in a cage at the zoo. Why was she so touched by that so much that she was willing to get involved with him again? I don’t think the film really does a good job at distinguishing between her relationship to the Beast vs Kevin (I’d even throw in Dennis in there, since their interactions are also creepy), and even if we say that her attachment is purely to Kevin, the film doesn’t really explain why she would want to do anything to do with him!
Some Miscellaneous Thoughts:
I did like the breakdown of the superhero genre, and the play with tropes and conventions like the Villain Team Up, the Former Villain Joins Forces With the Hero To Defeat a Bigger Threat, the Twist in the Third Act, Secret Plan All Along, etc. I liked how the secondary characters filled out a roles in each of the heroes’ lives like the Sidekick, the Emotional core, the Mentor. I even liked the self sacrifice to bring light to truth aspect of the story.
However, I think that there were definitely things that needed improvement. Like I said, the middle part does drag, and the ‘therapy’ angle didn’t really work and felt like a waste of time until we get to the climax. I also thought that the idea of superhero books being a fictionalized history lesson on real things was interesting, but the way the movie presents it, it’s both not a convincing case and not very interesting, because it does sound crazy. The other thing that tied into this was the idea that Staple’s therapy and similar measures have worked so well for centuries, until specifically Elijah came along; that seemed a little unreasonable as well.
I liked this film. If you like Shyamalan, slow, character driven explorations of the superhero genre and or any of the actors, go see it. If you don’t, then skip this film; don’t go into it thinking you’ll get Watchmen, because you won’t; the closest would be season 1 of Heroes.
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waveypedia · 3 years ago
Power of Four AU - Chapter 2
Chapter 1
Donald Duck was a worrier.
He worried about his safety. He worried about his boys. He worried about Scrooge and Della, back when they were still around.
He glanced at the egg resting in a bundle of Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s old mismatched hatching fabrics.
Wait, no- bad train of thought.
There was a different bad train of thought he needed to board.
How unfortunate.
But he was Donald Duck. Nothing in his life was ever fortunate.
He turned to the calendar, with its picture of two puppies splashing each other playfully with a faded stain of orange from when Louie had called upon his inner picky eater and flicked carrot juice at the wall. The date when Mrs. Beakley had left Webby was circled in red, well over two weeks ago. Long after her estimated return time.
It’s a Shush mission. They’re unpredictable, Donald reminded himself. But the cold sinking feeling in his stomach refused to leave.
He sighed and leaned his head into his hand. His thoughts were muddy from the lack of sleep, but he had a report due for his crappy job that he couldn’t afford to lose. At least in half an hour Louie would wake up. He was a night owl. Even though he wanted his boys to sleep, it was always nicer staying up late doing his stupid work with a warm, cuddly baby in his arms. And Louie loved cuddles.
A loud /crack/ startled him out of his hazy stupor. Instantly awake, his heart in his chest, he glanced around furitiveky for the source of the sound. Memories upon memories of dangerous times adventuring with Della and Uncle Scrooge, being in the Navy, and Paperinik days flashed through his head.
He didn’t want that life for his boys.
Even after he found the source his heart didn’t slow down, because there, nestled neatly in her blankets, laid Webby’s egg.
With a crack down the middle.
Donald’s heart jumped and he immediately abandoned his work and lunged for the egg. He knew exactly what to do, having hatched three boys with only Daisy’s help. He was already reaching for the phone now, abandoning the fact that they’d broken up for her steadfast help.
He glanced at the pink-and-green crocheted blanket with a heavy heart. It was the one that Mrs. Beakley had brought.
Fear settled deep into Donald’s belly.
She would be so sad to miss this, and he was dreading breaking the news to her.
But at the same time, he was terrified she’d never come home to meet little Webby, egg or no egg.
“Unca Donald, Unca Donald! There’s a stranger at the door and Dewey’s gonna open it!”
For once, Donald thanked his lucky stars that the houseboat was small. Sure, it was cramped, and barely big enough to hold four lively children, but at least he could reach the front door easily before Dewey had a chance to open it.
Donald yanked the duckling back at the last second, despite his cries of protest.
“C’mon, Unca Donald, strangers are just friends you haven’t met!” Heaving a sigh, Donald glanced down at his youngest kid. Webby’s curious and innocent almost completely mirrored Louie’s
He sighed and ruffled her feathers. “Not everyone, dear. Who’s there?” he called tiredly over the chorus of the kids’ voices.
“Franki Rustfeathers, here about your electrical bill.”
Donald’s heart started pounding and he scowled suspiciously. “We don’t have electricity right now. We’ve cut it.” If he had to go through another harrowing call, he would scream.
“We’re prepared to offer you a new deal, but I need to speak with you first.”
At Donald’s silence, the duck outside groaned. “Look, you can give my boss Ludwig von Drake a call, but I came all this way. Please just let me in.”
Donald’s stomach turned. Shush.
He yanked open the door to reveal a short, dark brown duck wearing a stiff uniform and sunglasses. They glanced over the four children for a moment, but looked away just before any of them would think anything of it. Stomping inside, they pushed past Louie, and the youngest boy hurried to hide behind his uncle and clutch his leg.
Donald gently set Dewey down as Huey closed the door with care. “Kids, there’s a new set of cards in my bedroom. Go check it out.”
Louie, Huey, and Webby hurried off excitedly, but Dewey turned to his uncle with suspicion dawning in his eyes. “Why don’t you want us around when you talk to the angry duck, Unca Donald?”
Donald sighed. “Because I’m afraid he doesn’t like kids much. It’s nothing personal, but if we’re going to get the electricity back I need him to be in a good mood. Electricity means TV. Okay, kiddo?”
Dewey’s face brightened. “I’ll do anything for TV,” he promised, and sprinted back to the bedroom.
Shoulders heavy, Donald padded over to the kitchen where Franki was waiting. He started behind the counter, ruffling through the empty cupboards. “Do you want anything to drink? Water, tea...?”
Franki shook his head and motioned for Donald to take the seat across from them. “We just need to talk.”
Donald nodded and sat down heavily. “What’s the deal?”
“Listen, Mr. Duck,” Franki leaned forward, their elbows resting on the table. An instinctive comment about manners rose to Donald’s beak before he could stop it. “We’ve been searching for you for four years. You have been very hard to find.”
Donald raised an eyebrow. “I made sure of that. I have a lot of... unfriendly people who would be happy to know where I live and that I have four children under my care and my care alone.”
Franki huffed. “Anyway, as you are aware, Bentina Beakley, an agent of SHUSH, left her granddaughter under your care five years ago when she went on a mission. Four years ago, enough time had passed that Agent 22 was declared MIA, basically killed on a mission.”
Donald had been expecting this. He had accepted this truth long ago. Yet it still felt like a punch in the gut. He nodded.
“We need to talk about her granddaughter,” Franki added emotionlessly.
Donald stiffened and he braced himself, squeezing a fist under the table. “What about her?”
“Well, her first legal guardian, should anything happen to Mrs. Beakley, is Scrooge McDuck,” Franki replied.
Donald scowled and struggled to keep his temper in check. “She’s happy here. She doesn’t even know she’s not my kid - Della’s kid.” He slammed his fist on the table. “My family has already been ripped apart once. Don’t make that happen again.”
Franki groaned and rubbed at their temple. “Look, man, please don’t drag your complicated family drama into this.”
“Then let Webby stay,” Donald snapped.
Franki sighed. “I’ll see what I can do. No promises.”
Three days later, across town, an old miser’s face brightened at the sight of them, and that look alone made Franki almost tell him everything.
“Is there any news?” the old duck whispered, hope shining in his eyes.
Franki sighed “I’m sorry, Mr. McDuck. It was a false lead. I will let you know if I find anything else.”
Scrooge’s face fell. “All right then. Good day.” His voice broke on the last syllable and in his hurry to close the door before the agent saw, he slammed it shut.
Bentina would have lectured him about that. About how old the hinges were and how much money and time it took to fix it, since he was too cheap to replace anything.
He slumped down against the door, the emptiness of his house swirling and settling around him with a finality that wouldn’t lift for seven years.
He stayed there for a long time.
I was writing this during class and I had to slip my phone away quickly so I deleted the note doc. I nearly had a heart attack but I got it back so everything’s fine :P
The two prologue-ish chapters are done! After this we move into present time.
Donald is very, very protective of his kids. And Webby is his kid. It’s the same way in canon and you can fight me on this. But I’m thinking in this story Hortense and Quackmore died early on, and with that and the stuff with Della and Scrooge Donald knows all too well how tough it is to be split from your family. And Webby is his family.
Meet my new OC, Franki Rustfeathers! They’re a nonbinary Shush agent and one of Ludwig’s prominent admirers. They are also Done With This Shit. Plus more on them later!
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bookwormchocaholic · 3 years ago
If Belle was living in the world of Fahrenheit 451? 📖
Rating: Mature
Synopsis: Belle French loves and collects books. Unfortunately for her the written word is forbidden. 
Notes: It has been forever and a day since I actually read “Fahrenheit 451″; I forgot most of little details. But I remember the general premise. This verse is a combination of that, plus 1984, The Book Thief, and other things. Special thanks to the wonderful Nonny who submitted this; I’d love to know your identity so that I could gift this to you. This prompt snapped me out of my writer’s block. Not beta-ed, expect mistakes.
Belle cringed at the creak the hinges made as she openedthe back door of the flower shop. She had hoped to sneak in without beingnoticed, but from the movement in the front of the shop, she knew that herfather had heard her return home. Pushing through the entrance, she struggledwith the bulky sack of the day’s provisions. She had spent two hours standingin line to receive her and her father’s rations. Meager though it was, shetraded some of the coupons they did not need for other items. Bartering was theonly way anyone could get enough to survive from day to day. The State allottedonly a certain amount per citizen. No more, no less. There was no poverty,everyone was equal and had similar possessions.
Onlythe Statesmen received special privileges.
Butthat wasn’t even what weighed the bag down. It was the contraband buriedunderneath.
Her father sauntered in and bobbed his large head. “Howdid you make out?” Moe inquired, without so much as offering a pleasantgreeting.
Belle scrunched her nose as the whiff of alcohol thatburned her nostrils and made her eyes water. To have a drink now and then wasone thing, but the way her father did it, it was sickening. He’d drink himselfinto a stupor and would end up useless for the remainder of the day. Or worse,violent.
“I found some ham and a ham bone. And beans. I also got bread,three apples, and some cheese.” She didn’t dare mention what else she had. Herfather would never understand and though she was a fully-grown woman, he’d beather within an inch of her life for risking their security.
Moe hiccupped and sniffed loudly. “I’ll be laying down.Call me when supper is ready.”
He shuffled out of the room and she listened to his heavyfoot falls as he climbed up to their living quarters. Like most who had theirown business, she and her father lived in the second story. They were lucky;they each had their own small rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. A small, bleak existence,but at least they had a decent roof over their heads.
It could be worse. Bellereminded herself. Those poor pathetic souls who were imprisoned had nothing.There was no hope for them. For whatever reason, they had gotten on the wrongside of the State and would be punished for the remainder of their days.
Belle set the sack on one of the counters where she oftenmade the flower arrangements that she and her father sold. The common folknever bought flowers, how could they when they never had any money. It was theStatesmen who purchased bouquets for their wives and lovers, or they madeorders if they wanted decorations for their galas. Their little shop providedher and her father enough capital for them to pay the mandatory taxes. Inreturn, they managed a business, they had a place to live, ration coupons forfood, and seven sets of clothing for each day of the week. Seven plain dresses,a couple cardigans, underthings, and one pair of sturdy shoes – that was allthat she and any other woman was permitted. The State assured the public thatwas enough; after all you could only wear one set of clothes at a time.
Never mind thattheir closets are overflowing with finery. Belle considered bitterly.
Openingthe bag, she rummaged through and had her fingers on it when she heard her father thudding back down the stairs. Shehoped that he had not run out of drink again. Last time he hurled the emptybottle at her head, narrowly missing. He backhanded her and would have doneworse if he hadn’t remembered a bottle that he stashed away under his bed.
Belle shoved everything back into the bag and turningback around, she schooled her features into placid expression.
Moe filled the doorway once more, his arms crossed, hisjaw set. “Forgot to say, Gaston is coming over this evening. We’ll befinalizing the details of your marriage.” He grunted, “Be sure to cook enoughfor three.”
Belle nodded, holding her breath,willing herself to remain calm. There was no point in protesting the engagementor the fact that she didn’t even like Gaston. Under the State’s laws, as awoman, she had no rights or privileges. Her father had guardianship over herand then when she was married, her husband would be in control of her fate. Shebarely had a voice in her own home, forget having a voice in the world.
Noone has a voice, let alone a woman. The fairer sex wasconsidered amongst less than second-class citizens. It had been that way for aslong as she could remember.
Only God knew what kind of husbandGaston would make. In all likelihood, he would be terrible. He made a terriblefiancé. He was loud and domineering, he liked to hunt, and was a member of theState.
“You’re lucky he’s willing to takeyou off my hands.” Moe grumbled, as if he could read her thoughts.
“Yes, father,” Belle nodded again,hating herself for agreeing with him.
At twenty-five, she was consideredold to be married off, especially when most brides were wed barely out of theschool room. Had her first fiancé not been eliminated by the State for his resistanceactivity and she deemed damaged goods because of her association, she wouldhave married young too. Gaston had simply come by one evening, stated that hewanted her for a wife, and after some bartering, with her father believing thathe had come out ahead of the deal, Moe agreed. Suddenly she was engaged. Shehad been sitting in the room the whole time and neither had asked her opinion.Gaston flipped a few coins on the kitchen table and Moe snatched them up andwent off to celebrate at the pub.
Belle felt her stomach knot as sherecalled how Gaston had backed her into a corner and took what he consideredhis. He strutted off as if he had done nothing wrong. She hated whenever Gastonvisited. It would take weeks for the bruises to disappear. And Moe didn’t care,so as long as she didn’t bother him and he had plenty to drink. There was noalternative to marriage.
Moe coughed and blinked. His eyeswere now glazed over, his expression was emotionless. Once more, he went backupstairs.
Belle sighed, dug through the bagand removed the forbidden item. I’ll haveto hurry. Tucking it under the flap of her cardigan, she hurried downstairsto the basement.
A single flickering bulb lit theroom. The dusty, filthy bowels of the house reminded her more of a dungeon, butit was the only sanctuary she had in the world. Not even her bedroom was assacred. Not when Moe pilfered through her belongings to sell, or wheneverGaston called on her to visit.
Belle went to the closet next to thestairs, slipped inside, and closed the door. Black swam before her eyes, butshe knew where she was going by touch alone. Having done this hundreds of timesbefore, she felt for the wall and patted it until she found a box. Nudging thebox aside, she felt a smile tug at her lips as she located the hole in thewall. She crawled through it and crept into the small crawl space beneath thestairs. Her father didn’t know about this hidden place. It was the only thingin the world that was truly hers.
No more than four feet in width andsix feet in length, it was dark and there was dirt and there were insects and spiders,but none of that bothered her. She preferred it to the outside world.
Belle laid the contraband down andlit a candle, which provided her with a little light. While it was dangerous tobe messing with fire, she reasoned that for a few minutes the risk was worthit.
She held the forbidden item closerto the flame.
This was the fifth book that she hadfound. She might not be able to read much tonight because of Gaston’s visit,but tomorrow she would wait until her father went to bed and sneak down aroundmidnight to find out who Jane Eyre was. It was funny how she found this book.The State investigators had discovered a household with books hidden in theirattic and to make an example of it, they carried boxes full of books and piledthem into a mound in the street and then set them ablaze. This Jane Eyre must have dropped off, becauseshe found it lying in a gutter.  
Books were forbidden, as werenewspapers, and writing of any sort. The State provided the people with Statesanctioned entertainment and news via a large screen in each household. Theirscreen was in the kitchen. Print was dangerous. Print led to freedom of thoughtand fake news. Print led to writing and the State believed that people whowrote would cause trouble. Someone might write something against the governmentor its leader, something terrible and inflammatory. Those caught with books ornewspapers or writings of any kind, they were exiled from their homes. Theirhomes were burned down and they were imprisoned.
The State reasoned that it wasbetter that the public not know how to read and write. It was for the greatergood. Everyone was safer that way. There was no dissension.
Belle chewed on her lower lip.Thanks to her mother, she knew how to do both.
Years ago, when her mother was alive,Mother used to regale her with stories of how children once went to school tolearn how to read and write, and they were taught other subjects. They learnedabout other countries and mathematics, and women had their own careers. Thatwas before the Reforms. According to her mother, corrupt leaders had come topower and when the leaders felt threatened by the people, they issued a series ofReforms. The State assumed control of everything; the rights of the people weredismantled, books were collected and burned, paper and pencils and ink were nolonger available.
Before her mother died of cancer,she had given Belle Her Handsome Hero. Itwas a keepsake that had been passed down through the women in the family andhidden from all prying eyes. Not even Moe knew about it. The book was the storyof Gideon, who went on adventures and slayed the dragon, and did what right andgood. Her mother had taught her to read and write, and then told her about thecrawl space under the basement stairs. Somehow her mother had known that shewould need a sanctuary away from the world.
Belle’s eyes moistened and sheblinked the tears away. Not a day goes bythat I don’t think of her. She added her newest book to her modestcollection and blew out the candle.
She crawled out of her hiding place,put the box back to cover the hole, and climbed out of the closet. Whileloathed to leave her little hiding place, her father would want his supper andGaston would be over soon to visit her.
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bb-bigbang-org · a year ago
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EPISODE 2 -  “I feel like there was no drama caused this week” - CODY
well pretty sure i just ruined my relationship with drew. i think he is pissed at me for not evicting cody. but my true alliance is with joe and frosby. they wanted to keep cody and i was doing what they wanted and joe kept saying we had the votes. and thankfully we did! but the house is definitely going to be split now. drew really wanted cody out because someone told him joe, brooke, frosby, and cody were in an alliance and he wanted to break that alliance up. but sorry drew! had to do what i had to do!
Oh my lord
I had a good feeling that if I survived it was gonna be close. Holy shit I was one vote away from first boot!!! 
But I survived, and I’m humbled a lot by it. I’m not going to carry on. I’m basically only talking strategy at this point with the couple of people who have reached out to me via DM’s in Joe and Mandi
The big piece of info that I found out late after my trust rankings were done is that Kayla is after me. Which came as a tad surprise initially but in retrospect it’s not at all because she hardly spoke to me after I gave up the character. My impression of her is that she was incredibly put off by me in character mode and therefore she did not wanna be guilty by association. Which is certainly a fair point. However it might cost her the game if she’s too vocal about this
So Episode 1 is in the books and now is time for the good ol Frosby recap. Wow I learned bits and pieces about everyone and learned what I want to do for this season. First off I need to establish the most important factor for this season hinges on 1 thing, Katrina. We have a final 2 pact and our goal is to work our way into the finale by working different ends of the game without drawing to much attention to ourselves. To do this I had to find myself some quiet players to get myself sitting nice and pretty with and I found that in both Andrew and Desiree who both are going for the same strategy as me. Along with that I have a really tight alliance with Both Joe and Mandi. I am totally cool with using this alliance because I know joe is a good player that is excellent at working a social game but I also know that due to him taking third last season I know that he will have a big target on his back and that means less of a target on mine which is good. Finally the last element to my game is completely tanking every challenge to hopefully get people to forget about the fact that I am a challenge beast. The main reason I was voted out last time was due to the fact that I won every other challenge I was in, this caused everyone to see me as one of the biggest players in the game when in reality I was just a good cover piece for Bob and Ferg. This time I'm choosing my fate and im choosing to play on the outside but to be a good outside player I need to avoid the limelight and to do that I need to tank challenges (While still doing a partial good job that it looks like im not tanking them) As for Katrina she is running the same strategy as me with trying to stick on the outside but she is working with players like Kayla and Brooke which is a great because like myself with Joe, sticking around Kayla and Brooke will keep the heat off of Katrina and she can use them to hopefully do a good push in the later half of the game. 
Now to talk about the first vote. I for one had zero care about either player, but I figured keeping Cody in the game would create more chaos that I can hide on along with the outsider players im teamed up with. All 3 of us voted for cody so not only did we keep him in the game we also don't have to worry about cody getting mad at us for not voting for him plus we are in the majority of the aftermath vote. Now we are at the next HoH challenge and im going to tank this one and just see who wins this bad boy. Watch Cody win it, that would be hilarious and Kayla would be in big trouble. 
PS:  Im still fully new to Big Brother in general  so I'm crafting these ideas and strats on the go so don't judge me for pulling any stupid plays in the future. Here is your warning I will in fact do stupid plays. 
I’m going hard for this HoH and I’m pretty sure the only reason I want it is so Joe can’t have it.. who would I nominate? Probably the people who don’t reach out to me. Kayla, Joe, Mandi, Ash, Sammy and Cody are 100% safe with me but everyone else is fair game. 
Ok so my number 1 objective of this week is to avoid going on the block at all costs. I will consider that an absolute win because after receiving 6 votes against me I’m in a super odd spot. And the person who is HOH this week in Austin was one of the 6 who voted to evict me last week. However he told me that his vote was kind of up in the air and he could have gone either way. So I feel better about him being in power over someone who was vocal in wanting me out such as Kayla or Sammy
I have decided to throw out Kayla as a target to Austin with the main reason being that she is after me, and I feel like she genuinely is playing a smart game and playing both sides. I think she has great adaptability in the game and could easily slide under the radar despite voting incorrectly at the first eviction
Hopefully this works and Kayla and another person go up
So I have spoken with Desiree and it turns out Austin was leading the charge to take me out from her perspective so that is a bad idea lol. I’ve asked her to suggest the other person and she chose Frosby which is great because he is someone who definitely had my back
Unfortunately the objective of that alliance idea hasn’t quite been fulfilled as i was hoping we could include Austin to try and throw ideas into his head and show some loyalty. But it sounds as though I am his number 1 target so there’s no point forcing such a big thing onto him
So I have spoken with Desiree and it turns out Austin was leading the charge to take me out from her perspective so that is a bad idea lol. I’ve asked her to suggest the other person and she chose Frosby which is great because he is someone who definitely had my back
Unfortunately the objective of that alliance idea hasn’t quite been fulfilled as i was hoping we could include Austin to try and throw ideas into his head and show some loyalty. But it sounds as though I am his number 1 target so there’s no point forcing such a big thing onto him
Daily Thoughts for Day 5:
Collecting Votes:
The house seems pretty split on the vote. It's interesting to see two groups forming for votes and I'm wondering if that's indicative of any alliances that are lurking. Austin & Sammy are leading the campaign to vote out Cody. They have both messaged me with a very similar list of people that they say are voting Cody out, so I'm guessing they are a duo. Despite their efforts, I do believe Pennino is going this week, and that's where my vote is going. But, it is going to be a close call and nothing is certain. To be honest, I'm not super gungho on either one going. On one hand, Cody doesn't seem trustworthy. But, he is a big target that we can worry about later, and it's always good to have a target bigger than you in the house. Pennino has been putting in very little effort in this game, which I don't want to see rewarded. Ultimately, I'm going with Pennino because that's what Frosby is doing, and he's my biggest ally. That being said, I want to keep an eye on Cody because I am worried he may be making deals to stay here. He's definitely still on my radar.
Pennino's Eviction: The votes went exactly as I'd predicted (7-6 with Pennino being evicted). Of course, I can't know for sure who voted where, but the numbers lined up with what I thought would happen. I do feel bad about Pennino going because he seemed like a sweet kid, but I am just glad to be on the right side of the vote today and I feel good knowing that, even though I don't have a single alliance chat, I still kind of know what's going on in the house. But, now that the first eviction is up, it is time to start solidifying alliances. Let's go!!!
Daily Thoughts for Day 6:
HOH: So, I abstained from the HOH competition this week. I feel bad about having to do that, but I just have a lot going on on my end with these protests and I didn't have the social energy to ask for selfies. I'm not sure I would've wanted the responsibility yet, anyway. One Step At A Time, just like my pre-season song pick.😉 Austin won HOH and I feel okay with that. Not super excited or scared. I've chatted with Austin and he campaigned against Cody last week for votes but I ultimately did not end up voting that way. He probably knows that, but still I don't think I'm at the top of his radar.
Alliance Formed: I might have done something bad for my game... I voice chatted with a few people, including Cody, and he seemed fairly cool. Then, he privately messaged me asking about forming an alliance. He picked one person and I picked one person. He picked Andy (which is great because I love Andy) and I picked Frosby. It might be a dumb idea to join an alliance with the person at the very bottom of my trust rankings, but for some reason I believe he has good intentions? It was definitely a show of good faith for us each to pick a person to join. So Cody is definitely growing in my favor this week. I plan to stay true to that alliance.
Strategy: Originally, Cody suggested Austin for the alliance along with Andy. I told him that Austin was the one spearheading the campaign against him and that adding him to an alliance probably wasn't the best idea. I think offering this information to Cody allowed him to trust me a bit more, while also potentially making two more people in the house who are bigger threats than me. Cody said that Austin is playing both sides and he also is worried about Kayla as a threat to his game. I definitely agree that Kayla is a threat, she seems well-connected and well-versed in BB ORGs. But at the moment, I don't have any personal targets.
Ok so I’m on the block again. No surprise there. I’ve been told by Austin that he has some sort of backdoor plan in place for if he wins the veto where he saves me and someone else goes up. However I genuinely know nothing else. He could be flat out lying 
I’m really sad that it’s me and Joe. He is my number 1. But I’m confident that we can work together with our alliances to keep us both safe and eliminate whoever gets backdoored...
I have come up with a move tho. So basically, one of the things I did when Austin was HOH was I sold out Kayla. Told him she’s not to be trusted, can’t keep her around. Turns out they’re working together so I couldn’t win there
Instead I’ve gone down the reverse psychology route with a move I’ve never personally tried before but hopefully it works
I reached out to Austin and said to him that I’m really close with Brooke, and if the backdoor plans work I do not want her gone. But I’m actually saying that because he might see what I’m saying, take advantage of it and put her up to “weaken” me. When in reality if Brooke goes up, the person it weakens the most is Kayla.
While myself, Brooke, Joe have been aligned throughout the whole game. I have realised that Brooke plays too loyal of a game to her people. And her number one person no questions asked is Kayla. I think it’s not good if both of them are kept in the game together. So that’s why I’ve made this move because I’ll happily take out Brooke if it means her Kayla doesn’t have a lot of power and can take out me. Because if it’s me and Kayla on the block next to each other I have lost Brooke’s vote. So I wanna prepare for the possibility of me and Kayla on the block later down the line by taking out someone who would not vote to save me in that hypothetical in Brook
Daily Thoughts for Day 7:
Key Order: Austin nominated Cody & Joe. That doesn't surprise me. He told me that Cody was his target and Joe is a pawn because he is well-liked in the house. He also assured me that I would be safe this week. What was most revealing, though, is the key order. I referenced the key order back to my predictions for votes on the first eviction. All of the people that I suspect voted for Cody to go were given their keys first, except for one. I was given my key in the middle, and then all of the people that voted for Pennino to go. However, Katrina was in the the latter group, despite her voting to evict Cody. This leads me to believe that Austin still thinks I voted to evict Cody and that Katrina is the one who flipped her vote. Katrina was the last person he convinced to swap, so it would make sense that he would assume she was the one to flip her vote. ......Am I playing both sides of the house? Am I the villain? Oh man... I'm just glad Austin put me in the middle instead of towards the beginning, which would make this way more obvious.
Alliance Chat: Based on the key order, Andy has surmised that Katrina and Ashley are floating atm. I don't know why he didn't include Brooke or Mandi, because they were also in the bottom half of the list and they are not in our alliance. He is suggesting we form an alliance with those two as well to catch the floaters, but I think it's a bit too soon to make that call based entirely on key order. I suggested we wait a bit and see what happens this week.
Austin nominating Joe and Cody irritates me so much. I guess he wants an enemy in me.. Austin better watch his f*cking back because if Joe leaves, I’m out for blood
Austin made it quite clear, the alliance he is in, with they key placement. It looks like the house is divided in the ones that wanted Cody out(Austin, Kayla, Drew, Lukas and Sammi) and the ones that wanted to keep Cody (Frosby, Mandi, Brooke, Andrew, Desiree) Katrina, Ashley and Chloe seem Wild cards. Idk this game is long, I’m later on showing you guys, my alliances chart. 
That’s how the house is divided. FROSBY
Well this is the worst, like the actual worst thing that could have happened at this point in the game. Cody and Joe are both key allies for the 2 alliances i'm in and basically one of these alliances is going to lose a player. The player I would like to go home would be Cody. The alliance I have with Cody is with Andrew and Desiree and honestly I was already working with both of them before cody came into the picture so if cody got voted out not much would change between our trio alliance. As for Joe, I really need joe to stay in. He is a future vote shield plus him and his sister give me great intel and safety in the game that can push me into the game. The only thing is they will both be extremely strong in the late game so we will have to be careful about that. As for working with Katrina, she is good allies with Austin in the background of the game so that helps knowing which way he may be going in the future now knowing that he can be a challenge threat. As for the Power of Veto competition this is really hard for me. Like I want to save Joe so he won't go home but its WAY to early to show who my true allies are. Also if I choose 1 over the other I am hurting my connections with either alliance so the best course of action is throw the game and pray Cody gets a massive amount of votes.  
Holy fuck
I’m so sad I lost the veto. However I’m glad Austin won because he has told me that he has a crazy plan. Which I’m being super tight lipped about and I’m pretending that I’m gone. In which I think legit everyone thinks is gonna happen
I actually have no idea what Austin’s plan really entails. It might end up being really bad for an ally of mine however it will save myself and could save Joe which I’m all for! Joe is my boy in this game. Being put on the block next to him is horrible. Hopefully we both survive and one of us wins the next HOH
i kinda forgot about these so lets just go back and start at day 1 . i was happy to see a few familiar faces like sammy lukas and chloe . didnt know any of the rest but happy to meet new ppl. kayla and drew seems great so bounded with them pretty good at the start. after the first hoh and veto i could kinda tell they was a lil goup in the house like brook, joe,frosby,and ash all seemed close but they also talked about being in othe games together. to my fucking surprise i WON the second hoh comp . i put up cody ( becuase no one trusted him) and joe ( bc i secretly wanted him gone ) . it was simple cody would probs go but if they was the chance i won veto i had a backdoor plan. THEN  i fucking won veto as well. so i talked with my alliance ( lukas,drew,sammy,chloe,and me) they wanted ash to go up so i thought it was perfect timing for me to take cody down and put up ashley so that foursome loses a number. fist time ever im good at challenges so wish me luck bc i feel i have a target now and will need it 
Cody's bitch ass thinks that I'm playing a piss poor game, but I don't care about that little catfish. I care about taking out the bigger guns, and right now- miss conniving, scheming, manipulative, fake ass lips, nails and extensions Ashley... is going HOME! 
I know that Chloe is a little mad that Cody is being taken down and what not, yeah I understand that. But that fake attitude that Ashley has over some of these houseguests, myself included, that isn't apart of this "premade" of her, Joe, Frosby and Brooke... UGH WE WON... and I HAD A BIG PART IN THAT ROLE... GOURMET MEAL HERE I COMMMMMEEEE
Daily Thoughts for Day 9:
House Drama: In the morning, Cody got upset with Drew for not responding to his DM's and decided to air his dirty laundry in the house chat. I think this was a stupid idea because Cody already has a big target on his back for the whole "house meeting" on Day 2. Once I woke up and saw what he did, I told him he really needs to lay low if he doesn't want the whole house against him. Hopefully he will listen to that advice... I understand it's frustrating that Drew doesn't like him and doesn't respond to his DM's, but Cody made an enemy out of him by accusing him of leaking the Unde9able alliance. He can't expect Drew to all of the sudden be fine with him just because he dropped his "character".
Contingency Plans: Before the POV winner was even announced, Ashley was in my DM's asking me if I'd vote Cody out. (For the record, I'm pretty sure she voted to keep Cody last week...) Austin won POV which seemed like the final nail in the coffin for Cody. In DM's, Frosby & I were already agreeing that if we needed to vote Cody out to save ourselves, we would. If Cody was going to be eliminated anyway, it would be better if the house didn't know we were with him. 
POV Ceremony Fallout: In a shocking turn of events, Austin took Cody off the block and replaced him with Ashley. Nobody was expecting this and we were all very confused. As far as we were concerned, Cody was Austin's number 1 target. Before the POV ceremony, Austin DMed me, intending to tell me the plan. I didn't log on until immediately after the POV ceremony, so I didn't see it. After the ceremony, I messaged him and he told me that Ashley, Frosby, Brooke, & Joe all had pre-game relationships, so he wanted to take one of them out. I immediately messaged Frosby about this, and he said that they have played together before but he barely talks to Ashley and Brooke hates him. Him and Joe seem to be close, though, which is fine by me because I like Joe too.
Voting: I spoke with all of the alliance members separately about which way we should vote. I guess we're all still a little nervous because it seemed we didn't say anything about the vote in the group chat until we had all decided in DM's. Andy was the only one considering voting out Joe, because he believes that we could get Ashley on our side. He didn't seem that pressed, though, and ultimately the group decided to vote to evict Ashley.
This round was a lot more telling as I was able to get some legs within the game and I tried super hard to diffuse my target. With the exception of when I called out Drew for his lack of social play I feel like there was no drama caused this week. And even that I think more people were on my side with that than other people have been and understood that it was a game move. Because legitimately I do feel like Drew is setting himself up for failure. He’s made it too obvious that he’s not willing to work with anyone who I seem to be close with and hasn’t talked to majority of them. And even though we are only up to week 3, it’s the day 1 bonds that are maintained throughout the game that matter most. If someone only starts talking to me properly later in the game and unapologetically does not care about the lack of bond they will not get my vote
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