Mon valley independent
2020.04.14 18:04 gaptrail
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a rail-trail that runs 150 miles from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Winding through small towns, woods, and rivers is some of the most picturesque bike riding and hiking you’ll find on a rail-trail. This subreddit is a community for discussion and sharing for the GAP trail specifically but open to other similar areas or interests along the way. Enjoy the ride!
2015.03.24 03:34 Baldish Film Club
Film Club is a community based group searching for amazing cinema in the forms of foreign, classic, and independent. We have partnered with the Alamo Drafthouse to bring great cinema to the Shenandoah Valley. There is no cost to join, only the desire to watch challenging movies with people who love movies. Pull up a chair and join us!
2008.07.23 20:58 Marin
All things Marin County, CA
2023.03.25 09:01 Sakurai-Rei [27 Mar - 29 Mar]
2023.03.25 08:53 zhuquanzhong Various statements by Zhu Yuanzhang the Emperor Hongwu, founder of the Ming Dynasty, about the Yuan Dynasty.
Sources (The first four are in Chinese, as unfortunately most Chinese historical texts are not translated): Ming Shilu Volume 29 Ming Shilu Volume 34 Ming Shilu Volume 53 History of Yuan Description of the Yuan Dynasty's Decline During the mid 14th century, the Yuan Dynasty of China, ruled by the Mongol Borjigin clan, was nearing its end. Several natural disasters compounded by years of misrule and internal instability after the death of Kublai resulted in massive rebellions throughout southern China. The rebels eventually coalesced under several leaders, including Han Lin'er, Xu Shouhui, Guo Zixing, Zhu Yuanzhang, Zhang Shicheng, Chen Youliang, Ming Yuzhen, Fang Guozhen and others. Note that the rebels were by no means united, as each rebel can be treated as an independent state which posed just as much threat to each other as their common enemy, the Yuan court. Although the Yuan court attempted to suppress the rebellions and were initially successful, court intrigue and resulting infighting within the Yuan court dashed those chances and resulted in the Yuan losing any ability to defeat the rebels. Meanwhile, Zhu Yuanzhong, a peasant rebel who at one point nominally submitted to Han Lin'er, managed to defeat the other rebel leaders and unite the Yangtze river valley by 1368. His erstwhile lord, Han Lin'er, also died under mysterious circumstances that some attribute to Zhu. Zhu then defeated the Yuan court and drove them out towards the Mongolian plateau, thus creating the Ming dynasty.
Even though Zhu Yuanzhang rebelled against the Yuan dynasty as a part of the Red Turban Rebellion, after he established the Ming Dynasty in 1368, at least for the purpose of internal propaganda, he seemed to be extremely willing to distance himself from his Red-Turban roots and derive his legitimacy from the Yuan Dynasty instead. To achieve this, he released a number of edicts and statements after his accession to the throne:
In 1368, upon his proclamation of a new dynasty, he began his official speech offering sacrifices to the mountains and rivers by saying: "As for the people of China, since the mandate of the Song ended, heaven commanded the True Man (Kublai) to enter China from the deserts and become the lord of all under heaven. The emperor, father and son and grandson ruled for a hundred years. Their mandate ends today..."
After capturing the Yuan capital Dadu the same year, he said: "I've thought about the history of the three ancient dynasties, Han, Tang, Song for some time, and always found that their ancestors were righteous and tolerant, which was the reason they were able to command the hearts of people, and so it is important that they did not forget their origins. The Yuan, since Shizu (Kublai)'s time united the realm, and acted with tolerance and virtue, it could be said that they possessed a benevolant heart. But their descendants were able to maintain this and not change; thus it was to the benefit of the land and soil."
In a letter sent to the Northern Yuan court in 1369, he wrote: "I was originally a peasant, in the past I was in the fields, and depended on the joy of peace within the nation. Suddenly various sorcerers and bandits overturned the nation, and the nation exploded into chaos..."
In a conversation with Li Wenzhong, one of his chief generals in 1370, he said, after reading a proposed victory proclamation after defeating the Yuan, he replied that Li was far too boastful, saying: You are a chief minister, so you should learn from the etiquette of sages, instead of acting as a petty local official. Even though the Yuan originated from Barbarians, they were the Emperors of China for nearly a hundred years, and mine and your parents all depended on it for livelihood and survival. Yuan's defeat was a matter of its own luck, which I could not have predicted. If we proclaim this way, learned men would likely disagree even though they do not speak up. You should change it."
In an edict titled "Edict on Pacifying the Desert" issued the same year, he said: I was originally a farmer, and I was happy to be born in Yuan times. However, at the time of the lord of Gengshen (Toghon Temur), he was weak and chaotic in governance. So heroes arose and divided the land within the seas. Even though the Yuan troops attempted to save the situation, they were unable to help, and it was the will of heaven that it be so. However, agents of chaos (rebels) inflicted great devastation upon the country, and attempted to seize land and establish themselves as kings and dukes. Watching their actions, they did not adhere to rites, and were thus annihilated...
In a conversation a few days later with Liu Bowen, his main strategist, Liu advised: "Since ancient times there as never been a group of barbarians who could take over all of China, but the Yuan, being so, ruled China in a barbaric fashion for several hundred years. Heaven in fact detests it. This is compounded by the fact the the Yuan's final ruler was licentious and inept, the state of affairs was collapsing, and the people were trapped under corruption and disaster. How would such a state not fall. Your majesty should follow the will of heaven and the people, and proclaim that you had saved the people from the Yuan's catastrophic rule, and had been undefeated in battle. Should such not be the best choice?"
To which Zhu replied: "During the Yuan, the monarch was peaceful in his abode, while his ministers were the cause of trouble. The country was misused and its abilities gradually limited. Natural disasters followed, and occurred year after year. Heaven's anger and the people's resentment led to thieves and bandits rising and becoming warlords, attacking and illegally occupying provinces and counties. I was forced into this order of affairs to protect myself, but eventually I was able to gather sizable forces and begin my conquests east and west. I eventually crushed the bandits and expanded my realm, but by then the realm no longer belonged to Yuan. Had the Yuan's lords acceded to heaven's will, and did not make themselves complacent, and make their ministers dutiful and obedient, how would there ever be a chance for uprisings? I took the realm from the various warlords, not Yuan. Today I have captured their heirs, and the desert is calm, was this not accomplished by the auspiciousness of heaven?"
A few days later he released another statement: Since ancient times heaven birthed sages to rule the realm and create laws to benefit the people. The three ancient dynasties, Han, Tang's monarchs are too distant in history, so we shall only speak of the recent past. The Song dynasty's founding emperor was capable and benevolent in administration, and the populace prospered, so heavens adored him. But his descendants were weak, and their borders were reduced, so heaven commanded Emperor Shizu of Yuan (Kublai) to replace them. This lasted until Toghon Temur, who was weak and corrupt, who did not care to administer, who lacked knowledge of the people's difficulties, so various evil forces (Red Turbans) took advantage of the chaos to rise up. The realm was in disorder, and the people's livelihoods were destroyed. I could not stand the destruction, so I rose up for the salvation of the people, and various heroes who worshipped righteousness came to join me. I defeated the cruel rebels and pacified the four seas, so they raised me as emperor of the Great Ming. This I achieved by heaven's grace, thus I was able to do it relatively quickly...
In 1373, he established the Temple of Emperors of Past Dynasties, and added all founding emperors of united Chinese dynasties to it. He thus added the three sovereigns and five emperors (all legendary rulers), Yu of Xia, Tang of Shang, Wu of Zhou, Gao of Western Han (Liu Bang), Guangwu of Eastern Han (Liu Xiu), Wen of Sui (Yang Jian), Taizong of Tang (Li Shimin, second emperor of Tang, added instead of the first emperor because Li Shimin did all the heavy lifting in unifying China under Tang and was in general a much better emperor than his father who was forced to abdicate by him), Taizu of Song (Zhao Kuangyin), and and Shizu of Yuan (Kublai). Several Years later he kicked Emperor Wen of Sui out of the temple, as he did not consider Emperor Wen worthy of standing with the others. However, Kublai, being the only non-Han in the temple, remained.
In addition to Zhu's personal statements, in the "History of Yuan", which was the official dynastic history of the Yuan dynasty compiled on Zhu's orders in 1369, all Red Turban rebels were categorically referred to by various derogatory epithets, such as "devils", "thieves", "bandits", "hooligans", and others. Some examples are:
From Toqto'a biography: Various devils and bandits rebelled between Ru and Ying, using the red turban as a signal. Xiang, Fan, Tang, Deng joined in rebellion.
From Toghon Temur's biography: Since the Red Turban devils and bandits threw the nation into chaos, various districts north and south were lost, so the Great Ming came and replaced them.
Such examples are very numerous throughout the History of Yuan.
It is possible that Zhu's statements are a reflection of general attitudes in China at the time, or at least the attitude of the Confucian gentry. Zhu considered Yuan to have ruled by heaven's mandate despite their Mongol origin, and also believed that by heaven's mandate he was destined to replace the Yuan. On the other hand, all of the destruction involved was entirely blamed on the Red Turbans, who Zhu condemned for being lawless bandits bringing chaos everywhere. He also repeatedly claimed that he either was forced to rebel himself, or even in some instances claimed that he accidently rebelled. All of these were likely done to reinforce the notion to the nation that while rebelling against the emperor is bad and is unfilial, Zhu was able to do it only because he was chosen by heaven. It is a strange world view, but it makes sense given the nature of the mandate of heaven system.
However, in Zhu Yuanzhang's external statements in the form of diplomatic letters to other nations, Zhu denounced the Yuan several times for being barbaric (Although he did not reduce his condemnation of the Red Turbans, he instead denounced both). For example, in his letter to Korea, he wrote: The Yuan are not like us, and in their hundred years ruling China, heaven detested their decadence and destroyed their foundations with natural disasters. China was then thrown into disorder for 18 years, and warlords arose. I was originally a peasant by the Huai river, and the rebel troops suddenly arrived, and I joined by accident. Seeing that they couldn't amount to anything, I became disturbed, but heaven and earth graced me with civil and martial servants, so I crossed the Yangtze River and learned the art of raising the people for 14 years. In those days I suppressed Chen Youliang to the west, captured Zhang Shicheng to the east, pacified Min and Yue to the south, and defeated warlords of various kinds. I then turned north to expel the barbarian emperor and cleanse China, restoring its former frontiers.
In his letter to Japan, he wrote: God likes the living and dislikes those who are cruel. In the past, we, China, were lost by the Song, and northern barbarians entered and spread their customs to defile it, thus the lands and customs of the central plains became polluted. For a hundred years, how could we not be angry? Since 1351, the central plains were in war, and Japanese pirates raided Shandong, but this was only possible because of the collapse of the barbaric Yuan! I, being from the old of China, washed away the previous humiliations and raised armies to sweep away the barbarian's rule.
Since times immemorial, emperors and kings have lived and China and ruled the various barbarians. Generation after generation, such has it always been. Only the Yuan, being originally barbarians from the northern desert, seized the central kingdom for a hundred years and polluted its customs so that they become unstandardised. Thus heroes arose and fought against the barbarians for twenty years. I, being blessed by heaven and ancestors, aided by spirits of all kinds and my various generals, took into my fold the various warlords and restored the boundaries of old. Thus I have become emperor, now for three years.
As noted the external messages and diplomatic letters differ drastically from the internal messages.
All originals texts I've quoted are below in order:
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2023.03.25 05:34 cbander [H]March 2023 Choice and Türkiye-Syria Earthquake Relief Bundle Leftovers and other games [W] Tunguska: The Visitation and other game offers
All Games Below are Steam Keys unless noted by it and are gotten from places Like, Humble and Fanatical in and out of Bundles.
I am Mainly looking for games I do not own, ones at least Playable on the Steam Deck are ones I will more likely trade for. I will also take tf2key offers but please no low balls. I will only Trade for Games I do not own, I do not want keys for Games I own since I would have to trade those for other games. An since there is no way to check if a Key is Valid without activating it they are worthless to me. Have
March 2023 Choice Leftovers
- Hero's Hour
- Jurassic World Evolution 2 (I will keep this game if I do not get any good offers)
- Demon Turf (I will keep this game if I do not get any good offers)
- Golden Light
- Rogue Lords (I will keep this game if I do not get any good offers)
Türkiye-Syria Earthquake Relief Bundle Leftovers
I may of missed some the games from the bundle I will be going through the bundle list again and will add ones I missed Some that I do not own I may keep so I will update that info too. The 3 bigger games I already used the keys for since that's the main reason I bought the bundle.
- Xcom 2
- PAYDAY 2
- Ticket to Ride
- Strange Brigade
- Stick Fight
- Farming Simulator 17
- System Shock Enhanced Edition
- System Shock 2 (may keep)
- Flynn: Son of Crimson (May Keep)
- Worms Rumble
- Mount & Blade: Warband
- 911 Operator
- 112 Operator
- X-Morph: Defense Complete Pack
- Zombie Driver HD
- Space Crew: Legendary Edition
- Death Squared
- Lust from Beyond - M Edition
- Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones
- Remnants of Naezith
- Planet TD
- Little Orpheus
- Detached: Non-VR Edition
- Agent in Depth
- Lighthouse Keeper
- Hyper Gunsport
- Meow Express
- Arcade Spirits
- Non-Stop Raiders
- The Inner World
- The Amazing American Circus
- Hack 'n' Slash
- MirrorMoon EP
- Cosmic Express
- Cris Tales
- Orbital Racer
- Guilty Gear X2 #Reload
- Alchemist's Castle
- Soul Searching
- Doughlings Arcade
- Doughlings Invasion
- Rym 9000
- Cats and the Other Lives
- Izmir: An Independence Simulator
- Guns & Fishes
- Pill Baby
- Project Chemistry
- Frick, Inc.
New Games to the List
- The Long Dark: Survival Edition
Humble Choice, January 2023 Leftovers (If I don't get good offers on these I will keep them
- Encased: A Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG
- Conan Chop Chop
- The Serpent Rogue
Humble Choice, August 2022 Leftovers
Humble Choice, May 2022 Leftovers
- Command & Conquer Remastered Collection (origin)
- Surviving the Aftermath
- If Found...
- Genesis Noir
Stand with Ukraine Bundle Leftovers, I may have missed a few or listed ones I did not mean to, I will update the List when I go through the bundle more.
- Starpoint Gemini Warlords Link
- Neon Abyss Link
- Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead link
- Project Nimbus: Complete Edition link May Keep
- Crown Trick link
- 112 Operator link
- 911 Operator link
- Amnesia: Rebirth link
- Book of Demons link
- Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons link
- Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 link
- Crying Suns link
- Dagon: by H. P. Lovecraft - The Eldritch Box DLC link
- Dear Esther: Landmark Edition link
- Drawful 2 link
- Draw Slasher link
- Endless Space 2 link
- Fury Unleashed link
- Popup Dungeon link
- Ryse: Son of Rome link
- This War of Mine link
- PGA Tour 2k21 Link
- Ring of Pain link
- Expeditions: Viking link
- Rustler (Grand Theft Horse) link
- Radio Commander link
- Kingdom Two Crowns link
- West of Dead link
- Going Under link
- Yoku's Island Express link
- X-Morph: Defense Complete Pack link
- WARSAW link
- System Shock: Enhanced Edition link
- Moon Hunters link
- RPG Maker VX link
- Slinger VR link
- Telefrag VR link
- Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine link
- Wizard of Legend Link
- Pixplode link
- Pawnbarian link
- Hexologic link
- Post Void link
- Roarr! The Adventures of Rampage Rex link
- We Are Alright link
- 911 Operator Link
- 12 is Better Than 6 Link
- A Case of Distrust Link
- AI War: Fleet Command Link
- Age of Wonders III Link
- American Fugitive Link
- Amerzone: The Explorer’s Legacy Link
- Ancestors Legacy Link
- Calico Link
- Contagion Link
- Curse: The Eye of Isis link
- Duke Nukem Forever Link
- Endless Space 2 Digital Deluxe Edition Link
- Eastside Hockey Manager Link
- Europa Universalis IV Link
- Evoland Legendary Edition link
- Fluffy Horde Link
- Galactic Civilizations Ultimate Edition x2 Link
- Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition Link
- Galaxy Grey Goo Definitive Edition link
- Gift of Parthax Link
- GRIP: Combat Racing Link
- Haegemonia: Legions of Iron Link
- Haimrik Link
- Hero of the Kingdom Link
- Hero of the Kingdom 2 Link
- Last Word x2 link
- Love Letter Link
- Milky Way Prince - The Vampire Star Link
- Millennium: A New Hope Link
- Monster Slayers Link
- Mysterium: A Psychic Clue Game Link
- Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy Link
- Oniken Link
- Papo & Yo Link
- PAYDAY 2 Link
- Project Winter Link
- Realpolitiks link
- Rebel Galaxy Link
- Regular Human Basketball Link
- Remnants of Isolation Link
- Shark Attack Deathmatch 2 Link
- Shelter 2 Link
- Sinking Island Link
- Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity Link (I may keep)
- Skautfold: Usurper Link (I may keep)
- Skautfold: Moonless Knight Link (I may keep)
- Skautfold: Into the Fray Link (I may keep)
- SKYHILL Link
- SONG OF HORROR COMPLETE EDITION Link
- Space Run Link
- Surviving Mars Link
- Sword Legacy Omen Link
- Take On Helicopters Link
- Telltale Texas Hold'em Link
- Terraforming Mars Link
- The Corporate Machine Link
- The Political Machine 2016 Link No Longer on Steam
- The Princess' Heart Link
- The Ship: Remasted Link
- The Walking Dead: Season 1 Link
- Ticket to Ride Link
- Titan Quest Anniversary Edition Link
- Yoku's Island Express Link
- YOU DON'T KNOW JACK Vol. 1 XL Link
- Zeno Clash 2 Link
- Surviving Mars: Deluxe Edition Upgrade Pack Link
- Fall Guys - Popstar Pack DLC Link
- Fall Guys: Collectors Pack DLC Link
- AppGameKit Classic Link
- Axis Game Factory's AGFPRO v3 Link
- Axis Game Factory's + Zombie FPS + Zombie Survival Pack DLC Link
- Fences 3 Link
- GameGuru x2 Link
- RPG Maker XP Link
- AppGameKit - Giant Asset Pack 1 Link
- AppGameKit - Giant Asset Pack 2 Link
- AGFPRO v3 Premium Link
- GameGuru - Death Valley Pack x2 Link
- GameGuru Mega Pack 1 Link
- GameGuru Mega Pack 2 Link
- GameGuru - Fantasy Pack Link
- GameGuru - Buildings Pack Link
- RPG Maker VX Ace - High Fantasy - The Deep Link
- RPG Maker VX Ace - Tyler Warren RTP Redesign 1 Link
---------------------------- Wanted Below are just a few of the games I am looking for, there are a lot more, so don't just think these are all I am looking for. If you have something else to trade, make me an offer, I will look through what you got and let you know.
- Farcry Games
- AMID EVIL
- Tunguska: The Visitation
- THE GAME OF LIFE 2
- Ice Age Scrat's Nutty Adventure
- From Space
- Praey for the Gods
- Syberia: The World Before
- Streets of Rage 4
- Garfield Lasagna Party
- Any other Offers
- PC Building Simulator Fractal Design Workshop
- PC Building Simulator - Razer Workshop
- PC Building Simulator - Overclocked Edition Content
- Stellaris: Toxoids Species Pack
- Stellaris: Overlord
- I will also take tf2 keys for any game I have listed above. Make me an Offer and I will look at it.
submitted by cbander
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2023.03.25 00:08 next3days For anyone looking for something to do this weekend, here's some ideas....
There's a lot going on this weekend and even better the weather forecast looks great with 60s and 70s and only a little rain on Saturday morning.
Here's 35 local events you can enjoy at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg and throughout the New River Valley: 1. Pink Moon Peach Milkshake IPA Release Moon Hollow Brewing, Blacksburg Friday, March 24, 2023, 3:00 - 10:00 PM Admission is free. Beer and food are regular price.
Moon Hollow Brewing presents the Pink Moon Peach Milkshake IPA Release in support of the local Pink Boots Society. This year’s blend contains Loral, Eukanot and HBC 586. A heaping dose of lactose, peach purée and vanilla bean also help create a rich and delicious brew. $1.00 from each pint is donated the Pink Boots Society Blue Ridge Virginia Chapter. This helps the chapter continue to put on educational, community enriching events. The Pink Boots Society aims to assist, inspire and encourage women and non-binary individuals in the fermented/alcoholic beverage industry to advance their careers through education. Food will be available for purchase from Countryman Jamaican Grill. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685855 2. Root Down in Concert Rising Silo Farm Brewery, Blacksburg Friday, March 24, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Root Down is a jazz trio based in the New River Valley. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=684803 3. College Softball: Chattanooga vs. Virginia Tech Tech Softball Park, Virginia Tech Friday, March 24, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00 PM, Saturday, March 25, 2023, 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM (Doubleheader) Admission: Free
Watch the Virginia Tech Softball team compete against non-conference opponent the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in a three game series. No tickets are required for Hokie Softball games. Parking is available behind the outfield at Tech Softball Park and enter along the right field side of the stadium. Stands open one hour prior to the start of the game. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685859 4. Music Theatre: "Book of Mountains and Seas" Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg Friday, March 24, 2023, 7:30 - 9:00 PM Adult Tickets (based on seat location): $25.00 - $55.00 Virginia Tech Students with ID and Youth 18 & Under: $10.00
A daring new music theatre work by composer Huang Ruo and puppeteer, designer, and director Basil Twist, "Book of Mountains and Seas" is a modern take on ancient Chinese creation myths that are relevant to our current climate change struggle, featuring the chorus of Ars Nova Copenhagen alongside massive puppets and striking lanterns. The work is sung in Mandarin with English supertitles. Book of Mountains and Seas is inspired by the ancient Chinese compilation of early myths of the same title, which was first transcribed in 4th-century B.C. Book of Mountains and Seas is a 21st-century adaptation and expansion of four of these tales. The work contains timeless codes about the universe, creation, planet, nature, life, human ambition and fate, the relationship and interaction between mankind and the planet. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=678174 5. Will Easter & The Nomads in Concert Dogtown Roadhouse, Floyd Friday, March 24, 2023, 8:00 - 11:00 PM Admission: $8.00
Will Easter has one of those voices that is like a home-cooked meal for the soul. Will has the cool throwback rock edge of Tom Petty with the modern folk-Americana appeal of the Avett Brothers, but with something hard to put your finger on that could only be born out of the shadows and peaks of the North Carolina mountains. One iteration through a chorus and you’ll find yourself humming along, by the second time around you’ll be singing out loud, ready to hit the repeat button. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=684795 6. Juxtaposition A Cappella Spring 2023 Concert: Time For A Hoedown Haymarket Theater (Squires Student Center), Virginia Tech Friday, March 24, 2023, 8:00 - 9:30 PM Virginia Tech Students: At the Door: $7.00 Non-Students: $10.00
Juxtaposition A Cappella presents their Spring 2023 Concert titled "Time For A Hoedown". Juxtaposition will be performing seven new songs including their entire ICCA set. Juxtaposition is an all-male Virginia Tech A Capella group that was established in 1994 and has since produced seven albums and been awarded numerous awards and honors. They enjoy performing their wide repertoire of 70's, 80's, 90's and current hits. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685879 7. 2023 Ramp N Roads Eastern Elementary/Middle School, Pembroke Saturday, March 25, 2023, 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM Admission: Free
Renew the New presents the 2023 Ramp N Roads where volunteers will be cleaning up litter from highways and byways, boat ramps, and river & stream access points. Be prepared to pick up litter off road in ditches and over the banks. Each volunteer will be assigned a team who will be led by captain when they arrive at Eastern Elementary/Middle School. These captains will lead the on-site clean up and will provide any needed safety instructions. There will be no buses running this year. Each volunteer will take their own car or carpool and convoy to one of the planned cleanup areas. There you will be given gloves and bags to use. Each volunteer is asked to return to Eastern Elementary at noon where they will receive pizza for a to-go lunch and a t-shirt. Volunteers need to sign up in advance. This is a rain or shine event however pick up along roadways will be suspended during active rain if it happens. ReNew The New is a volunteer organization committed to stewardship of the of the New River flowing through Southwest Virginia. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685871 8. Yoga On Tap with Blacksburg Yoga Collective Rising Silo Farm Brewery, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 9:30 - 10:45 AM Suggested donation of $15.00-$20.00.
The Blacksburg Yoga Collective presents Yoga On Tap with an energizing and uplifting flow. Flow with Blacksburg Yoga Collective in the beautiful settings of the Rising Silo Saturdays. These Kundalini-inspired, donation-based Yoga and meditation sessions focus on therapeutic movements and various breathing techniques aimed toward collective wellness. Meditate, chant, and move together to ease stress, manifest positivity, and improve our awareness and focus. Admission includes the class and a post-yoga non-alcoholic beverage from the brewery. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685840 9. 2023 Warm Hearth Village Arts & Crafts Fair Warm Hearth Village Center, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Admission: Free
If you love unique, beautiful, locally handcrafted gifts and art, then attend the 2nd Annual Warm Hearth Village Arts & Crafts Fair. The show will feature high-quality artisanal goods from both artists on our campus and throughout the New River Valley. Handmade items for sale will include pottery, woodworking, home goods, accessories, soaps, candles & more. The Huckleberry Cafe will be open for grab-n-go refreshments. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=683666 10. Free Wine Tasting Vintage Cellar, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM Admission: Free
Vintage Cellar presents Free Wine Tasting every Saturday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Join them for a decadent wine tasting at our free wine tasting. They will teach you all about the regions and grapes from the wines as you taste. After the tasing, grab a bottle or glass and enjoy it with some food from their kitchen. Must be 21 or older to participate. IDs required. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685724 11. Open Virginia Tech Football Practice Lane Stadium, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 11:45 AM - 1:00 PM Admission: Free
Fans are invited to attend the open practice to get an early look at how the Hokie's 2023 football squad is shaping up. Gate 6 will open up at 11:45 AM for fans to enter. Note: It is prohibited for fans to take photos and videos when the Hokies are on the field. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685711 12. 2023 Beliveau Bridal Expo Beliveau Farm Winery, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 12:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free
Bring your friends and family and visit with the area's leading wedding professionals on display to plan your perfect wedding in an elegant venue. Wedding vendors such as florists, musicians, photographers, bakeries and more will set up in our Great Hall to talk to you about their services. This is a great opportunity to meet many of the vendors in one afternoon. Food and wine will be available to purchase throughout the entire event. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=684117 13. Women's Lacrosse: Boston College vs. Virginia Tech Thompson Field, Virginia Tech Saturday, March 25, 2023, 12:00 - 2:00 PM Admission: Free
Watch the Virginia Tech Women's Lacrosse compete against ACC conference opponent and #7 ranked Boston College. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=684297 14. Program: Vegetable Gardening Meadowbrook Public Library, Shawsville Saturday, March 25, 2023, 1:00 - 2:00 PM Admission: Free
Want to grow your own vegetables, but aren’t sure where to start? Join Dr. Emma Patterson, VCE Volunteer Master Gardener, to find out more about planning a vegetable garden, caring for it, and keeping it going through year’s end. Free seeds and soil testing kits will be provided. For ages 12 and up. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685348 15. 2023 Oyster Dinner Drive-Thru Riner Volunteer Fire Department, Riner Saturday, March 25, 2023, 2:00 - 6:00 PM Admission: $15.00
The Riner Volunteer Fire Department presents their Annual Oyster Dinner Drive-Thru featuring fried oysters, baked beans, slaw and dessert. Tickets can be purchased in advanced at Eagle Express, Riner Food Center and Village Barber Shop. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685387 16. Delta Chi's Into the Wild Benefit Concert featuring Audio Fever and The Red Ferns The Milk Parlor, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 2:00 - 5:00 PM Ages 21 & Over: $9.00, Ages 20 & Under: $12.00
The Delta Chi Fraternity at Virginia Tech presents their Into the Wild Benefit Concert featuring music from Audio Fever and The Red Ferns. Proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The Red Ferns is a groovy guitar band based in Blacksburg and Audio Fever is a Blacksburg based band as well. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685882 17. March Flashlight Tour St. Albans, Radford Saturday, March 25, 2023, 5:30 - 7:30 PM Admission: $15.00
Join St. Abans for their March 2023 Flashlight Tour which includes a little history and paranormal in one. This is a guided tour. Take a walk through the dark halls of St. Albans Sanatorium and join them for a flashlight tour of the building. Hear all the chilling tales of what paranormal investigators, and the public, have encountered within these 120 year old walls. A little bit of history, a little bit of paranormal. Tickets are available online in advance and will be sold at the door provided tickets are still available. Comfortable shoes and a flashlight are recommended as there will be lots of walking and many dark areas. Dress accordingly as the building is not climate controlled. You must be 18 years of age (16 if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian). Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685883 18. March's Beans and Banjos (Final Event) Meadowbrook Public Library, Shawsville Saturday, March 25, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00 PM Admission: $5.00 requested donation
The Shawsville Ruritans and The LINC Letter presents March's Beans and Banjos and the final event of this series. Nothing lasts forever, not even Beans and Banjos. March's Beans and Banjos will be the last. Instead of having a couple of bands the organizers are inviting everyone who's ever played or sung at Beans and Banjos to come out and jam to play Beans and Banjos out in style. Beans and Banjos has been going for at least 14 years. Enjoy a dinner of beans, cornbread and desserts. Organizers ask for a donation of at least $5.00 to help keep the LINC Letter publishing. The LINC Letter is the non-profit community newsletter for Eastern Montgomery and is distributed to residents of Alleghany, Elliston, Ironto, Lafayette and Shawsville, Virginia. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685325 19. Amelia Empson in Concert Rising Silo Farm Brewery, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Amelia Empson plays a variety of Indie-Folk and Americana covers and originals from the Appalachian Mountains with talent far beyond her years. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=684804 20. Salsa Night 2023 Beliveau Farm Winery, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:00 - 11:00 PM Advance Tickets: $12.00, At the Door: $15.00
Join Beliveau Farm Winery for a dancing experience with your loved one, group of friends, or come single; you are bound to have a good time no matter what. Lessons begin at 7:00 PM and the event lasts until 11:00 PM. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685126 21. 2023 March of Ales Mardi Gras Celebration German Club Manor, Virginia Tech Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:00 PM - 12:00 AM Admission: $50.00
The Blacksburg Junior Women's Club (BJWC) presents the 2023 March of Ales Mardi Gras Celebration featuring unique beers for tasting, along with wine and a signature cocktail. Coffee, water, lemonade, hors d’oeuvres and desserts will also be available. Guests will enjoy entertainment by a DJ, dancing, and a live and silent auction. The auctions feature an extraordinary variety of items donated by local businesses and individuals. At the end of the evening, discounted Uber service will be available to guests. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door if the event is not sold out in advance. All money raised at March of Ales is used to fund service projects and donations throughout the year. The funds have benefitted groups and causes such as Special Olympics, Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, Montgomery County Christmas Store and many others. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685695 22. WUVT's Jazz Night with Copy Cat Syndrome and Yung LZRD Odd Fellows Building Lodge #20 (Wilson Avenue), Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:00 - 10:00 PM Admission: $6.00
Join WUVT for a night filled with the sweetest jazz melodies provided by Copy Cat Syndrome and Yung LZRD. Copy Cat Syndrome is a fusion trio performing jazz based in Blacksburg, VA. LZRD is a jazz band from Blacksburg, VA. Entrance to this event is ticket only (sold online) with a maximum of 50 being sold. Doors open at 6:00 PM and the music starts at 7:00 PM. WUVT-FM 90.7 Blacksburg is the New River Valley's only source for independent, alternative programming. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685887 23. TechNotes Spring 2023 Concert: TechNotes Lightnin’: Feeling the 50s Haymarket Theater (Squires Student Center), Virginia Tech Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:00 - 8:30 PM Advance Tickets: $5.00, At the Door: $7.00
TechNotes presents their Spring 2023 Concert titled "TechNotes Lightnin’: Feeling the 50s". Enjoy a night full of new songs and old TechNotes favorites and chances to win epic raffle prizes. TechNotes is a co-ed A Cappella group at Virginia Tech that performs at various events throughout the year. TechNotes was founded in 2010. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685878 24. Caroline Owens & Company in Concert Floyd Country Store, Floyd Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:00 - 10:00 PM General Admission: $15.00, Reserved Seating: $20.00
Caroline Owens is a 2X IBMA nominated Bluegrass and Gospel artist. She has performed alongside many of her heroes such as Alison Krauss, Suzanne Cox, The Isaacs, Larry Gatlin, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Lorraine Jordan and many others. And, has made quite a name for herself in the North Carolina bluegrass community. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685713 25. Hoppie Vaughan & The Ministers of Soul in Concert The Floyd Center for the Arts, Floyd Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:30 - 9:30 PM General Public: $15.00, Students: $10.00
Don't miss your chance to see the long awaited return of Hoppie Vaughan & The Ministers of Soul. It will be a fun, funky night of soul. The diversely talented Hoppie Vaughan is all about the soul! He is a blue eyed soul singer, song writer, guitar and bass player. Besides performing solo, he is the front man for Hoppie Vaughan and the Ministers of Soul based out of Roanoke, VA performing classic soul, R&B, blues and funk. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685712 26. Three Band Concert with Kenny Vaughan, Sullivan Smith & Stray Lions and Friend of the Three Southpaw Cafe & Community Space, Blacksburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 7:30 - 10:00 PM Admission: $5.00
Southpaw Cafe & Community Space presents a Three Band Concert with Kenny Vaughan, Sullivan Smith & Stray Lions and Friend of the Three. Friend of the Three is a band based in Virginia that performs adult alternative, pop and rock. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685881 27. Stand-Up Comedy Show Lost In Taste, Christiansburg Saturday, March 25, 2023, 10:00 PM - TBD Admission: $7.00
The Cosmic Comedy Club returns with performances by comedians Sage Delong, Derek Budd, Julia Goyer, Tony Rodriguez, Jermaine Callando and hosted by Andrew Gustafson. Recommended for ages 18 & up. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685853 28. 2023 Hot Diggity Dog Day (Fun for Your Dog) Beliveau Farm Winery, Blacksburg Sunday, March 26, 2023, 12:00 - 6:00 PM Admission: Free
Bring your pup and come have a day at Beliveau Farm Winery annual canine event. There's 165 acres of dog fun for your furrr-ever friend to explore and relax. Fresh air, dog parade, lots of outdoor space. Beliveau will have food and drinks for purchase throughout the day. With every hot-dog sold, they are donating 20% of our proceeds to the Montgomery County Humane Society. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685322 29. Community Quilting Bee: Rotary Cutting Fabric Blacksburg Library, Blacksburg Sunday, March 26, 2023, 1:00 - 3:00 PM Admission: Free
Blacksburg Library presents their monthly Community Quilting Bee with the the topic "Rotary Cutting Fabric". This month atteneeds will learn how to use a rotary cutter and ruler to make accurate fabric pieces. Everyone is welcome including beginners. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685349 30. Book Club: The Winemaker Blacksburg Wine Lab, Blacksburg Sunday, March 26, 2023, 1:00 - 3:00 PM Admission: $40.00
Join the Blacksburg Wine Lab for the Wine Lab Book Club tasting & discussing featuring "The Winemaker" by Noah Gordon. About The Winemaker: Josep Alvarez is a young man in the tiny grape-growing village of Santa Eulália, in northern Spain, where his father grows black grapes that are turned into cheap vinegar. Joseph loves the agricultural life, but he is the second son, and his father’s vineyard will be inherited by his brother Donat, the firstborn. He yearns for a job growing grapes and for an opportunity to marry Teresa Gallego. In Madrid, an assassination plot, conceived against the political leader of Spain by men of wealth and power, creates a storm of intrigue that sucks into its vortex a group of innocent young farm workers in Santa Eulália. How Josep’s life is changed drastically by these events, and how, ironically, they gradually turn him into an inspired vintner with an evolving vision of life, is the fascinating story of "The Winemaker". During the Book Club, enjoy four fantastic Spanish wines to taste. Chef Bryan will create a pairing board of house–made Spanish tapas, cheese and charcuterie to accompany the tasting. Reservations required. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685385 31. Willard Gayheart and Ricky Cox performing "Old Favorite Songs of the Blue Ridge" Floyd United Methodist Church, Floyd Sunday, March 26, 2023, 2:30 - 3:30 PM Admission: Free
The Floyd County Historical Society presents an encore performance of Willard Gayheart and Ricky Cox performing "Old Favorite Songs of the Blue Ridge. Ricky Cox’s friendship with Willard Gayheart also goes back 35 years. This shows in the programs they present together, harmonizing and appreciating one another’s contributions as they delight their audiences. Willard is a pencil artist from Southwest Virginia. He is originally from Eastern Kentucky, working mostly from the theme "Nostalgic Glimpses of the Appalachians". His works are positive images of Appalachian Culture, presenting the region as a place alive with interesting personalities. Besides his artistic talent with the pencil, Willard is also an accomplished bluegrass musician having played as a member of the bluegrass band The Highlanders. Ricky Cox has been entertaining and educating many of us for decades. Throughout his teaching career at Radford University he shared the history and culture of our region through his music and writing, earning a number of special recognitions along the way. Ricky contributed his photographic talents to the second of two books featuring Willard Gayheart’s drawings. Note: The event was originally scheduled for Sunday, March 12th, but had to be postponed due to inclement weather. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685328 32. Blacksburg Community Band Spring Concert Blacksburg High School Auditorium, Blacksburg Sunday, March 26, 2023, 3:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free
The Blacksburg Community Band presents their Spring Concert conducted by David McKee and Associate Conductor, Dean Chiapetto. Christiansburg High School's band director, David Miller, will be guest conducting. Jefferson Ritchie will solo on trombone. The Blacksburg Community Band, Inc. is an all-volunteer community organization formed in 1989 under the auspices of the Department of Parks and Recreation in the Town of Blacksburg. The ensemble is open to individuals of all ages and ability levels from the New River Valley and surrounding areas. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685314 33. Helping Hands Fundraiser with Spaghetti Dinner and Live Music Belview United Methodist Church, Radford Sunday, March 26, 2023, 4:30 - 7:30 PM Donations Appreciated
Join Belview United Methodist Church for some fun and great fellowship all while helping support a wonderful mission. Help them fund their Helping Hands Pantry by enjoying a spaghetti dinner starting at 4:30 PM, silent auction, raffle and live music from Eddie & Sherry Richards and Spoken For beginning at 6 PM. Belview's Helping Hands Pantry supplies clothes, personal care items, cleaning items and household items to those in need in Montgomery County, Radford, Dublin, Giles County and Pulaski and other surrounding areas. The Silent Auction starts at 1:30 PM and ends at 7:30 PM with over 40 items to bid on. There are over $2,000 in prizes for the raffle. Raffle tickets are $5.00 each, $10.00 for three or $20.00 for seven. Donate a pack of diapers, pull-ups or Depends and get three free raffle tickets on the day of the event. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685880 34. Indian Run Stringband in Concert Palisades Restaurant, Eggleston Sunday, March 26, 2023, 5:00 - 7:30 PM Admission: Free
The Indian Run Stringband from Blacksburg, VA plays fiddle and banjo foot stomping dance tunes and sings traditional songs with old time harmonies perfect for dancing the two step. From dance tunes to the blues, the Indian Run Stringband plays with love and abandon. They make old-time music fresh and new. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685310 35. Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble in Concert with Guest Artist Michael Burritt Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg Sunday, March 26, 2023, 6:00 - 7:30 PM General Public: $15.00, Seniors: $12.00, Students & Youth: $10.00
The Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Annie Stevens, performs a concert with guest artist Michael Burritt who is one of his generation’s leading percussionists. He is in frequent demand, performing concert tours and master classes throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada. He has been soloist with the United States Air Force Band, Dallas Wind Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Ju Percussion Group (Taiwan), Percussion Art Quartet (Germany) and the Amores Percussion Group (Spain). Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=685872
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!
submitted by next3days
to VirginiaTech [link] [comments]
2023.03.24 23:30 delipity [25 Mar] 1,495( ↓ 101) New Cases; Rolling 7-day avg: 1,574( ↑ 9)
Daily New Covid Cases by DHB reported 25 Mar 2023 (as at midnight Friday 24 Mar 2023)
- New Cases: 1,495 ( ↓ 101)
- Rolling 7-day avg: 1,574 ( ↑ 9)
Last 10 days of the Rolling 7-day average Reported 25 Mar 2023
|Location ||New Cases ||Change ||Seven Day Rolling |
|Total ||1495 ||-101 ||1574 ( ↑ 9) |
|Auckland ||146 ||+10 ||134 ( ↑ 7) |
|Bay of Plenty ||65 ||+7 ||59 ( ↑ 2) |
|Canterbury ||263 ||-4 ||271 ( ↓ 1) |
|Capital and Coast ||99 ||+8 ||104 ( ↑ 3) |
|Counties Manukau ||109 ||-32 ||127 ( ↓ 1) |
|Hawke's Bay ||40 ||-10 ||51 ( ↑ 0) |
|Hutt Valley ||47 ||-4 ||49 ( ↑ 2) |
|Lakes ||36 ||+6 ||34 ( ↑ 0) |
|MidCentral ||50 ||-14 ||51 ( ↓ 2) |
|Nelson Marlborough ||66 ||-1 ||61 ( ↑ 1) |
|Northland ||31 ||-10 ||43 ( ↓ 1) |
|South Canterbury ||16 ||-7 ||22 ( ↓ 3) |
|Southern ||156 ||-19 ||167 ( ↓ 4) |
|Tairawhiti ||10 ||+1 ||14 ( ↑ 1) |
|Taranaki ||37 ||-14 ||45 ( ↑ 1) |
|Unknown ||2 ||-2 ||3 ( ↓ 1) |
|Waikato ||94 ||+2 ||101 ( ↑ 1) |
|Wairarapa ||18 ||-3 ||18 ( ↑ 1) |
|Waitemata ||174 ||-12 ||182 ( ↑ 3) |
|West Coast ||22 ||+2 ||21 ( ↑ 1) |
|Whanganui ||14 ||-5 ||17 ( ↓ 1) |
|Date ||7-day rolling avg |
|Fri 24 Mar ||1574 ( ↑ 9) |
|Thu 23 Mar ||1565 ( ↓ 7) |
|Wed 22 Mar ||1572 ( ↑ 0) |
|Tue 21 Mar ||1572 ( ↓ 17) |
|Mon 20 Mar ||1589 ( ↓ 4) |
|Sun 19 Mar ||1593 ( ↓ 9) |
|Sat 18 Mar ||1602 ( ↓ 23) |
|Fri 17 Mar ||1625 ( ↓ 6) |
|Thu 16 Mar ||1631 ( ↓ 28) |
|Wed 15 Mar ||1659 ( ↓ 8) |
No hospital data today source: MoH GitHub data
submitted by delipity
to newzealand [link] [comments]
2023.03.24 21:53 EldritchEggoWaffle WARDEN OF THE WEAVER - PART 62: "A HARSH WORLD; HOPE EVEN IN DARKNESS"
Wings worked against wind, as the squad continued their aerial sprint.
In spite of their best efforts, they couldn't close the distance soon enough. They were still much too far from the city to gain any new insight into the attack--too far away to do anything, too far away to even know much of anything.
High Knight Von and Sergeant One-Wing led their respective squads onward, roaring through the air over the high grasses. Locust Spire was just on the edge of the horizon now. Within view, but still out of reach. Already, Von could feel that something was very wrong in the great Jikkellian settlement. Nagging dread in the pit of her gut gnawed at her as she drove forward. For a while, the wind carried with it the smell of smoke and ash. However, now those scents had dissipated, almost as if the wind had suddenly changed directions. The orange-red glow of flame had settled over the city like a corona, when the grand Spire of jade jutting up from the city's skyline first became visible. Now, the glow had softened to the point it may have no longer have been there at all.
And the Spire itself--the city's namesake, and jewel of Jikkellia--did not seem quite right. Von couldn't quite say why, but it seemed somehow... different; wrong; changed in some way.
What was going on? Was this what Lord Vellnoth was trying to tell them?
Come to think of it... what HAD Lord Vellnoth told them? Aside from ordering them to release the Amphibian and the suspected terrorist, there really hadn't been much information relayed, had there?
Von found it strange. She could hardly recall what the Gardener In Green had said, at all. She would've assumed something as life altering as speaking directly to the God of all Jikk would have left a greater impression on her. She'd assumed it would have inspired her mind, rekindled her soul. As it was, the event had hardly done more than leave her confused, feeling like a lost hatchling who'd just been introduced to something they didn't understand; some concept or experience they needed an adult to explain.
Her mind quickly turned from looking inward, to gazing out at the grasses stretched before her. Just ahead. There was movement.
Von glanced over to her right at One-Wing, but the frown on his face told her he'd already noticed the same thing she had.
High Knight Von drew her sword. Like clockwork, every Knight and Spire Watch behind her followed suit, drawing their own weapons. One-Wing was the last to unsheath his blade. He'd only just readied it when the sound and heatwave of an explosion broke out behind them.
The entire rear flank was taken out in a single strike. The remains of those soldiers caught in the blast were sent hurtling to the ground like small blackened meteorites.
"Post-Six!" Von called out.
The soldiers followed their orders--and their training--falling into a new, defensive position. Or, at least, they began to take up the Post-Six formation. They were interrupted partway through by a second explosion.
Where the fuck were the blasts coming from?
More body parts and scorched remains rained down to the landscape below.
"Ground!" One-Wing bellowed.
What was left of their rapidly thinning squad dropped altitude, coming down for a quick landing.
Von frantically scanned the surrounding grasses as she came to a landing with the others. She saw no one. There was no cover, and it was midday. There wasn't anywhere to hide, yet she still didn't see a single soul.
"No one move," said a commanding voice behind her.
Every head swiveled around, to face the assailant.
Von saw one, then three, then six seperate figures appear behind the soldiers. From the corners of her vision, more appeared. She could hear others, by the sound of their bootfalls and the clanking of their armor.
High Knight Von and her entire squad were completely surrounded.
The figures were Nerthran; mothmen of the Jagged Fields Kingdom. A lot of them. Von counted at least fifty, if not more. Ordinarily, Nerthran wore silver robes of fine silk, as part of their customs. These particular mothmen were wearing their robes, but had opted to don silver chainmail overtop the garments--or, in some cases, even steel plate. They wielded exotic-looking weapons. Crecent-shaped waraxes and ornate katanas; elaborately crafted claymores and thrusting blades shaped like wedges of pie. Even their more familiar arms--their longswords, daggers, and polearms--had been crafted in a way that would have intrigued even the greatest Jikkelian blacksmiths. Yet, of all the weaponry these mothfolk wielded, none stood out more than that of the one who'd stepped forward to call out.
The mothman called out a second time, shouting a single word: "Hold!" He held his unique weapon in both hands, gripping it at the center. It was a cold black color; as cold and black as a Lich's heart. It was as long as the mothman was tall. He held it at a tilt so that it crossed his body diagonally, like a large dark strike-through on a warning symbol. It was shaped like a staff. At both ends, it split off into two prongs like a serpent's tongue.
Now, Von began taking notice of the emblems on the breastplates, gauntlets, and bracers of the foes before her. They showed a symbol; a streak of silver running through a pair of moth wings, crossed by two blades. Her mind searched for meaning. After a moment, recognition finally set in.
Stonewing Pillar Mercenary Band.
They were ruthless criminals and sellswords, well-known in Jagged Fields but infamous even in Jikkellia. She'd never dealt with them personally, but she'd learned about them while undergoing the political and diplomacy training required to reach the rank of High Knight.
Bad news. That's what they were.
Von raised her sword. "You're interfering in official business!" This hardly encapsulated the scope of their crime (especially after launching a direct attack) but it was all she could think to say in the moment.
The mothman smiled. "Actually, you're all about to assist us with our business."
One-Wing scoffed at this. "What makes you think we'd do that?"
His smile broadened. "What makes you think you have a choice?"
They had a single goal now: reach the statue before the worms reached the surface...
Quijj took the lead. Councilor Lemma informed him she had wings of her own and therefore did not require his assistance when it came to flight (and also that if he continued treating her like a stack of lumber he needed to carry around, she was going to smack him silly). Quijj did not argue. The Councilor flew right behind him. And right behind her--bringing up the rear--was Flower-Seed. It was not a position he was particularly fond of--what with the worms on the loose and all--but he certainly wouldn't have wanted to be in front, either. Last wasn't as good as being in the middle, but of course, Flower-Seed was a gentlemen and Lemma was one of the city's honored leaders. So, back of the pack it was for ol' Flower-Seed.
They rushed up through the narrow hole in the cavern tunnel with a furious speed that would have made even a hive of Hellflies envious. The tunnel ended at an old well that had fallen into disrepair. In actuality, it had never really been used as a well to begin with. The 'fallen into disrepair' part--as the Councilor had explained--was just a story the Jikk of the city had always told one another. It was the sort of story that had been told so many times, for so many years, no one really questioned it or gave it a second thought. The truth of it was the Council of Three in Days Now Gone had decided to build a false well to cover the hidden entrance to the old city. It was sort of an emergency entrance, should one ever be needed.
If only those Jikk of the distant past had known their secret tunnel would not be used as an emergency entrance, but rather, an emergency exit. If they had known this, then perhaps Quijj, Flower-Seed, and Councilor Lemma could have avoided the problem they currently faced; *the fact that those same long-dead Jikk of yesteryear had elected to board up the false well so as to keep any hapless citizens or curious younglings from inadvertently stumbling upon their secret drop shaft to the old ruins.
Quijj had grunted something about this not being an issue when the Councilor broke the news of this "minor problem." Flower-Seed was fairly certain the old tavern keeper would have grunted the same grunt of reassurance, no matter what the Councilor had said. Quijj was painting himself more and more as the kind of Jikk who would take a sledgehammer to a door, if his key didn't fit. Grunting all the while.
When they reached the end of the shaft, Flower-Seed already knew what would come next. His hunch was confirmed when Quijj cautioned them to cover their ears. Flower-Seed now saw what would follow quite clearly in his mind. And how had he not seen this coming? Of course the crazy old bastard was going to blast his way out. Because of course he was.
Quijj was a valuable ally to have at a time like this, but once the smoke cleared, Flower-Seed hoped he would never again find himself in any dire situations with Quijj again, anytime soon.
Or ever again, if it could be helped.
When this was all over, if he made it out alive, Flower-Seed decided he was going to curl up on a nice warm cot by a hearth someplace, and sleep for about four straight Sun Cycles. Maybe even five. Six, while he was at it. Why not? He would certainly have earned it, if he managed to survive all of this chaos and bedlam.
There was a brilliant flash of white and orange; a roaring, echoing BOOOOM which ripped through the entire shaft. A loud crashing, splintering sound rose from above. Heat and a gust of hot air hit Flower-Seed in the face.
Then, they were shooting straight up into the air, no longer inside the shaft. The midday sky was above them again, fresh air in their lungs and the city stretched out all around them. The three of them came to a landing on a patch of scraggly blue kaynarr grass. The scattered stone and wood shrapnel that had once pretended to be a well lay scattered about, near the place where they'd made their exit. All that was left of the false well was a dark round hole and a broken ring of stone no higher than Flower-Seed's shin. There were black iron gates closing in a section of scrubby looking Debbler trees. The backs of several houses ran along the gate on one side. On the opposite side, a large warehouse loomed over the trio of . They were standing in a fenced-in raindrop shaped lot that had clearly been set aside for the sole purpose of secluding the well. The droplet shape of the lot came to a soft point between two houses, where a narrow gap had been left. The three of them wordlessly made for the opening.
The Councilor took the lead now. As soon as they'd made it to the other side of the row of houses, she took to wing. Quijj and Flower-Seed did likewise. They flew over the streets and walkways of a rundown residential neighborhood. Flower-Seed saw only a small handful of citizens. They were huddled together in small groups, hugging one another or saying silent prayers.
"What did I miss?" Councilor Lemma asked, looking around. "Is the attack over? And... where in Vellnoth's Name did all these vines come from?"
Flower-Seed tried to answer, but couldn't. He wasn't sure he had an answer. His vision had told him of the threats below ground, but hadn't filled him in on everything above the surface. What he and Quijj had witnessed with the Drill Flies seemed too miraculous to retell.
Quijj grunted. "A savior."
"A savior?" Lemma asked uncertainly.
Flower-Seed nodded. They were flying side by side now. "Yeah." He smiled to himself. It felt good to smile. Even after all the devastation and death, the fact that there had been a savior...
He didn't have the words for it.
They cut across the city, reaching the Cobbler's District in what felt like seconds.
"There's the statue," said the Councilor.
They landed just before the carved jade depiction of the Jikk hero of legend: Kylo the Great. This statue was identical to the one that had been in Lo Syy Tett, in Proeliator Plaza. There was another in front of the City of the Wandering Moon, as well as a fourth statue in Irogon Nath. Or, at least that's what Flower-Seed had been taught as a youngling at the Learning Hall. Kylo the Great had been one of the founders of Lo Syy Tett and Locust Spire. A true hero of all Jikkellia. Or so it was said.
Councilor Lemma hurried over to the back of the statue. There was a crevice just large enough for her hand. She stuck the Y of her fingers into the opening. Her face took on a look of deep concentration. After a moment, a panel was revealed in the base of the statue. There were gears, dials, and a single lever.
"Who would have thought," Flower-Seed mused.
The Councilor got to work. She began turning the gears and dials. Her hands became a blur for a moment as she input the secret sequence. Finally, she pulled the lever. Beneath the statue, there was a sound like gravel spilling from a wheelbarrow. Then, there was only silence for a moment.
Slowly, the statue began to rise several inches from the ground. When it stopped, the panel snapped back into place.
"It's done," said the Counilor, breathing a sigh of relief. "I just hope we weren't too late." There was a sadness in her eyes however.
Flower-Seed offered a sympathetic expression. "A bit overwhelming isn't it?"
Lemma waved a dismissive hand. "No, it's just... the Advisors. I just hope they made it out."
"There was no choice," Quijj said firmly.
"Yeah," Flower-Seed agreed. "We had to seal it off. Otherwise, who knows how fast those things might've spread."
The Councilor nodded. "I know. I know. Still... E'Shesh. She tried to protect me. When they were going to place me under arrest. She stood in front of the knights."
They all fell silent.
After a few moments, the three of them began to glance around at one another. A knowing look crept across all three of their faces. In unison, Councilor Lemma, Quijj, and Flower-Seed all whispered: "The Jailer."
Quijj nodded, giving one of his usual grunts. "Uhh huh." His expression had darkened. The look in his eyes was downright frigid.
Flower-Seed shook his head. "I don't know why, but ever since we were down in the ruins... it's been as if a curtain was lifted, from inside my mind."
Councilor Lemma nodded. "I know exactly what you mean. A part of me was fully aware of The Jailer and his deeds in Lo Syy Tett. Yet... it was almost like... I wouldn't quite call it a trance--I wasn't under any spell, or hypnosis, at least not as best as I can tell--but rather... it's as if I held a kind of complacency toward everything. I can see now how truly horrendous that Jikk is. Him, and what he's been doing. But... he must have had some way of making all of us intentionally ignore the problem."
"Mind Mother," said Quijj. "That'd do it."
Flower-Seed eyed the tavern keeper. "Mind Mother? Are those things even real?"
"Oh, they're quite real," said Lemma. "And if that's the case, it would actually explain a lot. From what little I understand of them, those creatures secrete a psychic enzyme that lulls the minds of those around it. The longer it occupies an area--so long as it's well-fed and undisturbed--the wider its field of influence. The Jailer must have somehow compelled a Mind Mother to do his bidding, and influence the minds of Jikkellians in a way that would further his terrible cause."
Flower-Seed considered this. "But if we're about to realize we were being influenced now... does that mean this Mind Mother is dead?"
"Tough to say," said Quijj.
"Indeed," said Lemma.
Quijj grunted in what might have been alarm, or perhaps frustration. He was gazing up at the sky.
"What is it?" Flower-Seed asked. But he already knew. He saw it too now. "What is that?"
His mind was overtaken with yet another vision. He saw the entrance to the underground ruins, as it was being sealed off. Just before the large stone slab blocked the passageway leading down into the City Before The City, five Jikk leapt through the rapidly shrinkly gap and onto the street. Breathless, they collapsed to the stonework.
A fraction of a second later, something else followed in their wake. It did not land, nor did it collapse onto the street as the Jikk had. Instead, it shot upwards into the air. The stone slab closed what remained of the opening.
But it was already too late.
One of the Jikk lying in the street began to scream. Flower-Seed saw that Temporary Councilor E'Shesh had indeed made it out of the ruins before the entrance closed. She was lying on her back, looking up at the sky with a look of pure terror plastered across her face.
The thing that emerged from the opening ignored the Jikk, however. It continued to climb through the air, until it was high above the vine-covered rooftops and city streets below. It rose higher still, before slowing. It hung there in the sky for several seconds, before rocketing away. It was headed toward a confrontation. Flower-Seed could not quite discern the nature of this confrontation, only that it would decide the fates of a great many.
And somehow, the outsiders were involved. Specifically, the outsider who had served as Locust Spire's unexpected savior.
Flower-Seed only caught a brief glimpse of the thing in his mind's eye, but that had been enough to fill him with a deep, almost existential feeling of dread.
The worms. They had fused together to form a single being. High Knight Pyx's plate armor. The thing was using it.
A giant parasitic worm-thing in platemail. It was coming for the outsider. And there was no stopping it...
The vision broke away. Flower-Seed found himself on his knees with dark green blood dripping from his eyes and mouth. The vision had been too much for him. Whatever had altered his curse--whatever force, whether it be supernatural, or simply the blow he'd taken to the head at the front gates--it had amplified it to a magnitude Flower-Seed could not handle. The previous vision had nearly caused him to black out. This one had almost ruptured his brain. He wasn't sure how many more of these "visions" he could take. The next one might very well kill him.
He slapped his palms down on the sidewalk, gasping for air.
"Are you alright?" Councilor Lemma asked.
Flower-Seed shook his head.
"What is it?" Quijj asked with much urgency. "Vision again? Did you see a mothman?"
Flower-Seed shook his head again, then promptly coughed up a thick glob of blood onto the stonework. He tried to stand, but his legs were much too weak.
Quijj hurried over and hooked an arm around Flower-Seed, helping him up. "Easy now," he whispered.
"Worms," Flower-Seed said, almost choking on the word. "Worm man. Man made of worms. Headed for the outsider." He took a deep breath, and that seemed to help. Not much, but a little.
Quijj eased him into a sitting position, before releasing him. He drew his strange weapon, examining it a moment before turning to the Councilor. "Can you tend to him?"
"Where do you think you're going?" she said in a tone of reproach. Her hands were on her hips. She gave the tavern keeper a look that reminded Flower-Seed of the way his mother used to look at him as a youngling, on evenings when he'd been out causing trouble with his friends.
"To stop it," Quijj said matter-of-factly. He turned back toward the sky, using his weapon to point at a dark, fast moving dot in the distance. The worm-thing. It was traveling at a tremendous rate of speed, trailing away from the city.
"Alright. In that case, I'm coming with you," said the Councilor.
Quijj grunted in disapproval.
"Don't give me that. I'm the High Councilor, afterall. I have a sworn duty."
"I'm coming too," Flower-Seed said, struggling to his feet.
"You can't," Lemma said. "You aren't well."
"I'll be fine. C'mon. Besides... you can't just leave me here on the sidewalk by myself."
Quijj eyed them both a moment, before slowly nodding. "Fine. Just keep behind me."
"Don't tell me what to do," said the Councilor smiling warmly. "I swore to serve and protect my city. That includes every last citizen."
"Humff," Quijj grunted.
Lemma regarded Flower-Seed with some concern. "Can you fly?"
"I think so."
"Alright. Then let's be off."
Quijj nodded, grunting again for what may have been the hundredth time.
The changes still hadn't fully set in.
He scarsely resembled his former self. His body was similar to that of a Jikk's, but his wings were like those of a giant moth. And his body, his wings, his entire form was entirely comprised of vines and sunflowers.
Doka was still getting accustomed to his new form. He was still getting accustomed to a lot of things. Ever since the outsiders first arrived in Lo Syy Tett, Doka had gone through a transformation even his new body could not fully represent. Which was saying quite a lot, considering his new form was the direct physical manifestation of the personal and metaphysical journey he'd undergone. He had died for Gods' sake!
He had died.
He'd died, but there had been no White Staircase. He hadn't seen the face of his creator. He'd seen only darkness, before his soul took up residency inside the Moon Moth.
So much of what he'd believed his entire life had been a lie. It made him wonder what else might also be a lie. What even was the truth? Did such a thing exist?
He had DIED!
His mind kept shouting the words over and over like a chant, as if reminding him of this fact might spark some greater intuition, or reveal some hidden meaning. It did not. The reminder only compounded his confusion with a whole lot of noise echoing inside his own head.
He had died.
This was a fact he was still grappling with, even now. Really, it had only been his body that had died. His spirit, soul, and mind had remained. He was now in a kind of life after afterlife. It was beyond strange, in a way that caused his brain to ache if he thought about it too long.
What a journey it had been since the duel with the Frog.
Doka had been granted revelation and realization, one after the other, in a constant barrage of perspective-shifting events. He'd been shaken to his very core--changed in the most fundamental sense of the word. He'd become someone completely different. Yet, at the heart of it all, he was still him. He was still Doka. Just a far more enlightened, less xenophobic and ignorant Doka.
However, this enlightenment also allowed him to see the problem; a problem that had not yet come up, but would have to be addressed sooner, rather than later.
The problem was, he'd been granted revelation and realization, without any real reflection. He'd been transformed, but hadn't yet had even a single spare moment to contemplate the meaning of it all. He was experiencing the effects, without fully understanding the causes. He'd been changed without stopping to consider the ramifications of so much change, on so many fundamental levels.
These things troubled him, but they were Deep Troubles of the Long Term. There were other, more urgent troubles to deal with in the meantime.
Doka and the soft shell soared over the open grasses; a flower-moth-grasshopper-hybrid and a curtain of shimmering blue. Doka looked down at the sheet of water below him. David was stretched out like one great flat square, casting no shadow as he passed over the land.
"What's wrong, bud?" asked the soft shell, taking notice of Doka's gaze. "You alright?"
Doka stilled his thoughts. "I want you to listen to me, Soft Shell. There's going to be trouble up ahead."
"Uh, yeah. I know. That's why we're coming to the rescue, remember? Don't tell me you're getting nervous?"
It was still a bit strange to hear the human's familiar voice coming from the shimmering polygon of liquid. Of course, the two of them had encountered far stranger things than this, on their journey. Particularly in the Sands. Doka had an idea that if not for some doing on the part of the cloaked figure, both his and the soft shell's minds would have been permanently shattered by the experience.
Doka said, "I don't mean once we reach the woods. There is an ambush waiting for us, well before then. A group of mercenaries."
The human was silent a moment. "I can't detect anything like that. Are you sure?"
"Aye. I'm certain of it. They're concealing themselves from your Energies ability to discern their plot. I am able to see it because of my connection with things that lie beyond the mortal world."
"Alright, well... we'll just have to take them out quickly, so we can hurry up and save Artie and the others."
"No," Doka said firmly. "I want you to continue on without me."
"What? But why? It doesn't make any sense to split up. We'll be able to deal with them faster if there are two of us."
Doka shook his head. "You don't understand. They are the ones who attacked Locust Spire. This is personal for me. You can't be stalled in reaching the woods. Your mission is far too important."
"Is that their big plan? To keep me fighting them, just to delay us getting to Artie?"
"That isn't their intention, but that will be the result of their actions, regardless. They have another reason for wanting to defeat you and I."
"Okay? Well don't leave me hangin. What's the reason?"
"Retaliation for stopping their attack on Locust Spire, for one. These mercenaries will try and destroy anyone who stands in the way of their goals. They wish to sew chaos and confusion. Anarchy. They don't want us undoing any more of what they have done, or what they plan to do. I can sense a dark plot. They're working with agents of Pharoah Dowlmad."
"I don't know that name, but I get some pretty fuckin' evil views from it, for sure."
"That would be an accurate assessment. The leader of these mercenaries wishes to leave the valley. There is something beyond the God Shelves he seeks, which will grant him unyielding power. Even I cannot discern his full intentions, but these are the things I have been able to determine."
"I see. Well, I still don't understand why you have to try and solo these guys. Let me help you knock 'em around. We can--"
"No," Doka said firmly. "This really is something I must do on my own. Please try and respect my wishes."
Doka could almost feel the human's mind turning, formulating further protest. Then, it was as if the soft shell finally came to a conclusion. Perhaps, he finally understood that this meant something to Doka--that this was important; a meaningful step on the path to redemption.
At last, the soft shell relented. "Alright, alright. Fine. But if you get into any trouble... if it's more than you can handle, or you--"
"I know how I call out to you," Doka said.
The human sighed. "Okay. Then I guess we'll split up. Um... where exactly is this ambush happening, anyhow?"
"Start traveling northward. Your mind will tell you when to correct your course again. That won't delay your arrival any. You would have had to travel North for a ways,, once you reached the woods. You're just doing it a bit sooner than necessary."
"Alright. Will do. Just... be careful, Doka. Okay? Seriously."
"And you as well, soft shell," Doka said. "Gods willing, I will see you again soon."
Deskant was well-versed in the power names held in the In-Between. This was why he'd worked so hard to become a Named Enforcer of the Stonewing Pillar Mercenary Band, on top of his other titles and stations. Most of the mercs in evidence were only foot soldiers, or Prospects. Leader Rave hadn't wanted all of his best warriors away from Home Base, afterall. The Stonewings were far greater in number and power than they'd ever let on to nonmembers. In their line of work, it was always best to hide your hand. You didn't want your rivals (or even your allies) knowing your full capabilities. Which was exactly why Deskant was joined on his current mission by the lower ranking members and memers-in-training, mostly. However, this was not the case with all of the mercs here in the open grasses. There was Angus the Arsonist, Vizloth the Philter, Gondin the Foul Ozmon the Worm-Wielder, Ujak the Unhinged.
Then, of course, there was him. Deskant the Demolisher. This was a moniker he had earned after many years climbing and clawing his way up the ranks of the band. He now filled the role of Chief Communicator, as well as being Rave's Right Hand when they were away from Home Base (even if that title actually belonged to Xider, whenever Xider wasn't around--like now--Deskant was the one who stepped up).
Rave had dubbed him the Demolisher because that was exactly what he did. He demolished things; people, places, anything and everything in his path.
"Just cooperate and everything will be fine," Deskant said.
The she-Jikk in the plate armor only glared at him.
"Yeah, I don't like those worms either, but they're effective." He waved his hand toward the infected Jikk soldiers. "We'll remove the parasites and we won't release anymore on your city, so long as you keep doing exactly as we say."
Ozmon the Worm-Wielder stepped forward, clutching his strange club--a dark, polished thing which which looked more like two long, slender serpents twisted around a stick than an actual club--and nodded. "All be righted, once we've finished here."
The she-Jikk said, "We shouldn't be negotiating with the likes of you."
Deskant laughed. "Good thing this isn't a negotiation. It's a hostage situation. If you hadn't noticed." His eyes scanned the row of infected Jikk. Half their number were currently inhabited by parasites. The other half were standing behind the she-Jikk and the one who'd identified himself as their Sergeant. "Now, remember... when you see the outsider, you flag him down. That's all you have to do. Leave the rest to us."
"Uh, 'Skant?" Angus said uncertainly.
"Yeah? What is it?"
"They're almost here. I can smell 'em."
Deskant smiled again. This was just too easy. "Alright. Everyone out of sight. Time to do what we do best, fellas."
There was a collective cheer from the other mercs. The lot of them moved into position.
Zruu--Tri-Hook leader and newly appointed Chief of the Clawhook Bandits in the wake of Chief Xovvo's murder--felt the entire world shift with such remarkable suddenness, that for a moment, he was certain he'd lost his grip on reality. One moment, Zruu had been seated in the bridge of the Black Pyramid beside his fellow Tri-Hook members, Coldcradle and Fann. The next thing the new Bandit Chief knew, he was plopping down hard on his ass in a field of knee-high emerald green grass. He'd been watching a formation of Gliders appear through the viewing window of the bridge. Sky Pirates, he had no doubt. He'd been mentally scrambling for a course of action. His mind had of course first turned to the Pyramid's weapons system. However, just as he was about to suggest this to Coldcradle and Fann, all of a sudden, it was as if his chair had been pulled out from under him--and everything else around him ripped away, right along with it.
"What the FUCK?" Coldcradle bellowed.
Zruu saw his two companions in the grass, just a few short meters away. Fann was there beside Coldcradle, looking furious but saying nothing.
Zruu's eyes burned with rage. "My thoughts exactly." He looked up to the sky. The Pirates. They were up there in the Glider Pods. There were also small Gyff craft as well. Collectively, there were four dozen of the bastards. The Sky Pirates made up three seperate V patterns, while the Walking Stick Men flew in a straight row side-by-side. Together, they made what looked like three arrows and line segment. And there, in the patch of sky between them, was the place where the Black Pyramid had been. The place where Zruu himself had been, on the bridge of the Pyramid.
But the Pyramid was gone. And now, Zruu was down here on the ground.
It made no fucking sense.
"Uh, Chief?" Coldcradle said warily.
Zruu took his eyes away from the sky and leveled his gaze at the other Bandit. "What?"
Coldcradle pointed at something lying in the grass a few feet to his left.
Zruu cocked his head to one side. Then, he was back up on his feet in an instant. "Is that who I think it is?"
But he already knew it was. There, motionless on the ground, was the Vakk Onillcoth had sent as honorary reinforcement. Lequell's body was covered in so much blood, it barely looked like a body. Really, it looked more like a slab of meat glazed in strawberry jam. Zruu had never seen tickman blood before. He was mildly surprised to know it wasn't green, or yellow like many Insectoids. It was a deep maroon, much like his own blood.
Lequell's head was cleaner than the rest of him. Probably because his head had been separated from his body. It was sitting face up a few paces from his bloodied corpse. His lifeless eyes stared up at the sun. They'd gone a dull gray color, instead of their usual black.
Zruu had seen more dead bodies than he could ever recount. Seeing one more now meant about as much as any of the others had. He felt nothing for the Vakk he'd barely known. If anything, he considered him weak for dying so easily. And so soon before their mission was complete.
Zruu raised his boot and punted Lequell's head through the air. It shot up at an arc, before disappearing in the high grass. He turned to the other Bandits. *"What the fuck do we do now? How the fuck did we lose the fucking Pyramid?"
He kicked Lequell's body hard enough to splatter some of the blood, painting several blade of grass burgundy.
"Ziilkdamnit! Now I've got blood on my boot." He turned his foot sideways and attempted to rub the drying fluids off onto the dirt. This mostly worked, but there remained a streak of the stuff he couldn't quite wipe away. "Ziilkdamnit," he cursed again.
"Was it the Pirates?" Coldcradle asked.
Zruu glanced up at the sky. The Pirates had broken their formations and were now flying in a disorganized swarm. They were headed east. They didn't seem to have any interest in the three Bandits down on the ground far below them, from what Zruu could tell. "My gut says no. I think those Sky Pirates and Gyff are just as confused as we are. I have no fucking clue what just happened, but I can tell you one thing... we're gonna get Chief Xovvo's Pyramid back. I don't give a shit what it takes. If it costs all three of us our lives. We're gonna get that damned thing back."
"A Pharoah had to be involved," Coldcradle said. "They're the only ones who could pull something like this off."
Fann nodded his agreement. "That bitch Camaria, most likely."
"I don't give a shit," Zruu said. "Pharoah or no Pharoah. We're getting it back." He locked eyes with Coldcradle, then with Fann, before looking off toward the horizon. "But first... we're gonna keep heading where we were headed. We're gonna deal with the she-ant before we do anything else. We don't have the Pyramid now, but we won't need it. I'll kill her with my bare hands if I have to."
Coldcradle said, "Then let's get to it. Let's hunt that bitch down. For the Chief."
Zruu and Fann voiced a howl of agreement. "For Chief Xovvo!" they said together.
The three members of the Tri-Hook took to wing. The only thing on any of their minds was murder...
"What's the matter?" Flower-Seed asked. His tone was that of someone trying to hide the fact they were in a great deal of pain.
Councilor Lemma studied his face closely. The two of them were flying side-by-side over the city, with Quijj just up ahead. The elderly tavern keeper insisted on taking the lead, it seemed. It was just as well. Lemma had wanted to stay back with Flower-Seed to make sure he was alright. He definitely wasn't alright, but wouldn't admit it.
As much as Flower-Seed's condition concerned her, it was the scene down below--down on the city streets--that concerned Lemma the most. She turned back to the group of younglings she'd spotted.
She and Flower-Seed had a bird's eye view of what remained of Elgganath Parkway in the eastern part of Locust Spire. Just as they'd flown past one of the only large structures that hadn't been reduced to rubble here, they'd caught Lemma's eye almost immediately. There were close to three dozen in all. Younglings no older than adolescents. Some of them were sitting on the sidewalk with their heads between their legs. Some of them were embracing one another. Many of them were simply standing in place, looking up and down the street as if they had no idea what to do, or where to go. Several of them were huddled together, speaking in frightened voices.
Lemma slowed her acceleration to a crawl. Seeing this, after a moment, Flower-Seed did the same.
Quijj craned his neck to look back at them. "You alright?"
Lemma nodded. "Yes." And after a moment's contemplation, she added: "You can go on without me."
Flower-Seed opened his mouth to say something. Then he saw the younglings. He looked from the group below, then back to Lemma. Understanding dawned on his face. He slowly nodded. "Go on without me, as well." After taking a brief moment just as Lemma had, he said (somewhat hesitantly), "If you can manage on your own, that is."
Quijj nodded in response, giving them a grunt of aye, before flying onward.
Lemma and Flower-Seed hung there in the air, and watched Quijj disappear behind a row of vine-covered warehouses. Lemma sighed, turning to Flower-Seed. "The city just suffered a horrible tragedy. They need their leader."
Flower-Seed nodded. "I know."
"Especially the youth. They look completely lost. Without hope. The fire and the explosions are over, but now they need guidance to know how to pick up the pieces."
"I know," Flower-Seed repeated, punctuating the words with a gentle smile. "Well... what do ya say we get down there? See how many we can reunite with their parents."
Lemma returned his smile. "I just hope most of their parents are still alive."
Flower-Seed looked away. "Yeah." He shook his head. "Gods. What a harsh world this is."
"It is. But as long as I'm around, there will always be hope left. That's what they need to see. The Jikk of this city. They need to see the light of hope still shines upon them. Even in darkness. There is always hope."
Doka could sense the terrible power radiating off the figures just ahead. There was a Fragment User in their midst. As well as multiple masters of the Old Arts and Dark Channels.
And there was something even greater. He could feel it, like a vibration inside his brain.
As he drew closer, he saw the Jikk he was supposed to see, and the mothmen he wasn't. One of the mercs was utilizing a Cyphering technique to hide their presence. Doka could only see them through his connection with the Realms beyond life, beyond mortals.
Doka flew faster, closer, closing in on them.
One of the Jikk--a she-Jikk High Knight named Von, Doka saw--held up her arms and began waving at him. She was trying to flag him down. Doka had no doubt, this was what she'd been instructed to do. The Jikk weren't apart of this. They were only pawns, used by the mercs.
Doka dove down, came to a landing.
In his new form, he could speak to more than just the soft shell. He called out to the High Knight. "It's alright. I know you've done all you could."
The High Knight and the other Jikk stared back at him, stonefaced. Doka could see beneath their expressionless faces; could see through them. He could feel their desperation, their shame.
That was when the mercs sprang their trap...
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2023.03.24 21:45 treeOfLife1875 My favorite drink has gone missing
Been looking all over the mon valley and Pittsburgh area for about two months now. I cannot for the life of me find any cases of Vanilla Coke Zero. Has anyone seen any?
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