2021.12.06 02:16 fakewomans confidentiality in therapy?
2021.12.06 02:16 R3DBeamer Can someone identify these shoes? Cheers!
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2021.12.06 02:16 android-17-living Casper on the Horizon~we are on the right track boys~ $CSPR road to success
Casper on the Horizon~we are on the right track boys~ $CSPR road to success [$500m Market cap]
Since the launch of the Casper Network mainnet this March, there have been numerous announcements across multiple industries and markets about real-world solutions being built on the Casper Network. This work is a testament to the efforts of the Casper community, which has made significant headway in establishing the Casper Network’s position in the broader blockchain ecosystem, with a focus on enterprise use.
We’re also working on new ways to give developers of all experience levels an opportunity to showcase their skills and explore the Casper Network’s unique features. That’s why Casper Association partnered with Gitcoin to create the Friendly Hackathon, which will offer $135k in prizes for developers looking to build innovative dApps on Casper. The hackathon will run from September 13 to October 11, 2021, and five other organizations, including Arcadia Group and Quantstamp, and Consensus Capital, have joined the Association in sponsoring this event.
While hackathon submissions are expected to run a wide gamut, there’s been a lot of buzz within Casper’s community of builders to bring more NFTs to the Casper blockchain via high-utility smart contracts such as the CASP-721 NFT standard and CASP-20 tokens. Experienced Web3 developers and new Web2 developers without Solidity experience are welcome to join the Hackathon, and CasperLabs has a dedicated team of Web3 developers who will be directly assisting event participants.
A continued source of developer funding, education, and support has been DEVxDAO, an independent grants program to accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology by engaging both Web2 and Web3 developer audiences. DEVxDAO is open to apply to grants to build on the Casper Network.
At the same time, Casper’s success ultimately relies on the strength of its community. To that point, our focus for the remainder of 2021 and through 2022 is on user-centric developments which will make it easier for our community to engage with the Casper Network however they want. Here’s what to expect in the months to come!
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2021.12.06 02:16 Xi_Pimping Bourgeois politics, not even once
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2021.12.06 02:16 besselfunctions Turning outrage into power: How far right is changing GOP
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2021.12.06 02:16 AWill1173 Trying to obtain a Milotic
Hello fellow trainers, I have recently began playing every Pokémon game from gen 1 and I am currently on gen 6. I have obtained a feebas and I have no one to trade to in order to make feebas evolve while holding the prism scale. Is there anyone who is also playing this game or has it and is able to help me out? These are the times I wish I had two 3DS. Thanks so much and I hope you are all having an amazing day
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2021.12.06 02:16 ValuecoderOffical When you copy codes from teams with hidden characters.....
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2021.12.06 02:16 In-order2 Lol
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2021.12.06 02:16 blindwanderer23 Would Ratchet have PTSD?
He's fought in multiple galactic wars and conflicts, saved entire planet's worth of people (in varying timelines), dealt with incompetent people on his way to objectives that may have led to casualties, and killed countless enemies with weapons that no doubt would've caused some sort of tinnitus.
With all he's been through, I'd be astounded if he didn't at least see a therapist during the times he wasn't attacking or getting attacked by things. That'd be scarring to anyone in his position. How does he breeze through all of it like he does?
I get he's a badass with quite possibly the largest arsenal anyone in the R&C universe could ever use, but I've always wondered this. Would he have it and would his easy-going attitude about everything just be a coping mechanism?
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2021.12.06 02:16 takhfifekhob کفش ورزشی ساقدار مردانه مشکی قرمز مدلSasan
2021.12.06 02:16 viralgorhythm LPT: when purchasing online, add items to your cart and fill out all the purchasing details but don’t complete the purchase. After a couple days you may get a email from the company with a discount code.
2021.12.06 02:16 milkteaeggpudding Fitness and breaking up advice
Hello. I am now single for the first time in 7.5 years. Any advice for keeping fitness goals when you feel like shit & crying all the time? I’ve been working out since before the break up. But now with finals and this curveball, I just don’t want to descend into unhealthy eating and gain weight and feel even more shitty. Any advice will help. Thank you.
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2021.12.06 02:16 ekolanderia Need a jump in the middle of nowhere? Download grindr and message dudes nearby. Took 10 minutes to find a bite, and then played on my phone for an hour
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2021.12.06 02:16 mbuckhan5515 Which best describes your viewership of ‘The Office’ ? (US Version)
2021.12.06 02:16 Goldeagle1123 German tanks and infantry advance through the ruined suburbs of Stalingrad, 12 November 1942 [1024x409]
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2021.12.06 02:16 braydahueman What does everyone do when they are stressed?
2021.12.06 02:16 BlackwaterHeist 2 dates in and I'm confused as ever
I (25f) started seeing this guy (28m) I met off a dating app around a week ago. First meeting was awkward, as they normally are, but I think it went well and before we said goodbye, he mentioned wanting to see me again.
We had our second date yesterday and I think that went well too. Main issue is is that I normally text first and I texted first after we split up from our first date. I want to wait for him to reach out first after this date as I really can't tell where his feelings are as far as "being polite" or "interested goes.
He doesn't ask me many questions about myself, but we do have good conversations and to be fair I'm very talkative so I probably answer some questions as I'm rambling on. Of course, because anxiety is my best friend, I'm worried that if I don't text first, he won't think I'm interested.
In reality I'm very interested, and have been trying to hint that I'd like to move forward (from a physical standpoint), but he hasn't made any moves as far as touching/kissing (but again, it's the second date, so...). I don't want to annoy him or anything if he's not interested though. I'm also nervous if I bring up something like kissing/sex too fast, he'll lose interest then.
Also while talking about the second date, it seems like at the moment he doesn't want to meet at nights where sleeping over could happen (work nights). I understand some people move slower with that stuff, and I hate thst I'm projecting my fears, but I'm worried he isn't interested in me physically.
Is there a good way to gage if he's interested vs being polite? Should I wait for him to text first after this date? If so, how long should I wait before either I text him or can consider him not interested?
Sorry for the rambling but thanks for reading
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2021.12.06 02:16 Alistocracy Hmmm…
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2021.12.06 02:16 Talynen Finally got a picture I like of the Outset. The texture on the BT.L grips is pretty cool.
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2021.12.06 02:16 Nicebruhh So what does foreigners think of Kolkata (Calcutta) in India?
2021.12.06 02:16 Kevvvvinap Kids getting grades that correspond with the first letter of their name
A while ago I read an article that claimed that children that are born with D or F names or more likely to receive worse grades than other kids. Whereas kids with A or B names are more likely to receive better grades. I don’t remember where I read this but I assume it’s because kids may subconsciously gravitate towards things that are associated with the first letter of their names, whether it be good or bad. Does anybody have more information about this or any evidence foagainst it. I know obviously lots of kids with F names get good grades and vice versa with A names and bad grades and there’s a very good chance this correlation doesn’t exist, however ever since I read this somewhere I’ve been less inclined to like D or F names.
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2021.12.06 02:16 I4IRESA Will lorazipan give a positive dug test
So I screwed up forgot I got my yearly drug test tommorow for work my wife seems rom anxiety and with the holidays and the hectic work schedule I've been in I kinda had a panic attack and I took a 0.5 lorazipan am I gonna get positive test and lose my job? I'm freaking out even worse now. My buddy says he's got a detox kit but will that wok in time ? I don't do any other drugs whatsoever so ever nor have I taken lorazipan before but we just got our notice from work I gotta be there 9 30 am and I took it at 7pm tonight before supper to calm my nerves. How screwed am I.
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2021.12.06 02:16 Determination7 An Outcast In Another World (Subtitle: Is 'Insanity' A Racial Trait?) [Fantasy, LitRPG] - Chapter 85 (Book 3 Chapter 13)
I'll be posting one update a day until HFY is caught up! In case you missed the previous topics:
Link to Chapter 84 (Part 1)
Link to Chapter 84 (Part 2)
On the next day, the Fiends returned with their decision, and – rather unsurprisingly – acquiesced to Rob’s demands. In exchange for full disclosure of the purpose for their journey southward, and for the exact mechanics of how their Blight barrier functioned, and for their best physicians to make an earnest attempt at restoring his Soul-Burnt arm, Rob would divulge the secrets of Crystal Bearer and explain his theory on how to cure Corruption. Their next meeting was scheduled to take place in the early afternoon; Rob and some Elves were already hard at work setting up a rendezvous point that would act as sufficiently neutral ground.
For Meyneth, this represented a small window of opportunity within which to act. Keira, as per usual, would be joining the meeting as a member of Rob’s guard detail. That left Meyneth the span of a single morning to corner their wayward Warrior and have a long-overdue discussion regarding matters of the heart. Perhaps the timing was ill-advised, what with Keira taking part in a critical gathering mere hours after their dialogue would finish, but if Meyneth put off this confrontation every time there was a stressful event in the imminent future, then they would never have it at all. More to the point, Meyneth was by now rightly convinced that Keira might never solve this matter on her own. The world would hardly sit and wait for her to work up her courage. Too much longer and she may miss her chance altogether.
Meyneth would be the first to admit that she was not a typical Dragonkin, but she was still a Dragonkin. Frontal assaults held a perpetual and undeniable allure. The core difference between her and many of her brethren was that she recognized the wisdom in constructing a plan before charging forth into uncharted territory.
Step 1: ‘Enlist Help’ was vital, and without it, Meyneth’s endeavor would have been stillborn in its conception. The backbone of any plan was to recognize what you could and could not accomplish on your own. Meyneth’s contribution to this endeavor would be her general forthrightness and her friendship with Keira and Rob. She was willing, able, and allowed to speak truths to them that others would shy from admitting. What she required assistance with was in the details of her plan’s execution; she knew what to say, but not how to say it.
Thankfully, Step 1 had already been completed. After deciding on a confidante – which took little deliberation – Meyneth approached her erstwhile companion last night and devised a plan of action with them. The two of them mapped out the likeliest possible branching paths that her imminent conversation with Keira would take, wrote a flexible script filled with pointed arguments that could be adapted to a variety of scenarios, and decided on the proper emotional beats to convey in each moment. One bout of memorization later, and preparations were complete.
It was time for the hunt to begin.
Step 2: ‘Locate Keira’ was solved in short order. Once again, she enlisted help, this time in the form of one of her dearest friends.
“Good morning, Vul’to,” she said, approaching the Vanguard outside of his house. “Might I trouble you with a request?”
Vul’to perked up and quickly nodded. For some reason, he seemed especially happy to see her as of late. Meyneth hadn’t the faintest notion of why, but she wasn’t going to complain about someone treating her very presence as special. It was an unfamiliar experience, but a welcome one, to be sure.
“Of course,” he replied. “What can I assist you with?”
“I need to discuss a subject of importance with Keira – do you happen to know where she is?”
Vul’to took a moment to think it over. “Last I saw her, she was heading westward. I believe that she’s claimed an empty spot near the tannery as her own personal training grounds, so I’d wager a fair amount of gold that she’s working out her frustrations on stationary targets as we speak.”
Passing time via exercise, Meyneth thought. She must be nervous about her upcoming meeting with the Fiends. Considering all the ways that it could go wrong, I can scarcely blame her.
“Thank you,” Meyneth, giving Vul’to a smile. “Your assistance has saved me valuable time.” She inclined her head, and a moment later, turned away. “Apologies for leaving so soon, but I must go meet with Keira while the morning is still young.”
“Before you go,” Vul’to said, forestalling her departure. “Is aught amiss? You have a severe air about you. If Keira has gotten herself into trouble, I’d like to be there when you speak with her. She’s my friend too, after all. Is there anything I can do to help the both of you?”
Meyneth shook her head. “The offer is appreciated, but my current script only allows for a one-on-one dialogue. Duels grow too frenetic when a third person is added to the fray.”
“Duels? Scripts?” Vul’to raised an eyebrow. “What exactly is about to transpire between you and Keira?”
“It’s nothing overly serious,” She replied. “I’m merely going to trample over her insecurities by forcibly bringing her repressed feelings to light. In doing so, she will no longer be able to hide from making certain important decisions she needs to make, and the resulting flurry of decisive action will set her life on its proper course before the decay of indecision rots her happiness from the inside out.”
Meyneth adopted a relaxed expression to set him at ease. “Not to worry. I’ve come armed with a plan.”
Leaving Vul’to perplexed and dumbstruck, Meyneth made her way over to Keira’s private training grounds – which was a rather generous interpretation of an empty backyard that long-dead Humans had left behind as a parting gift. When she arrived, Meyneth wasn’t the least bit surprised to find Keira engaging in push-ups. Minuscule beads of sweat ran down the Warrior’s face, and her long, flowing silver hair that stretched down to the small of her back had less than a half-dozen strands out of place. She was a perfect picture of Elven beauty, reaffirming Meyneth’s longstanding theory that the social vampires who’d harassed Keira throughout her youth had insulted her appearance without believing their own words.
Honestly, I haven’t the slightest idea why she and Zamira grew a tad envious of my visage, Meyneth thought. Keira especially. The sole purpose of one’s personal appearance is to attract a mate, and she’s long since ensnared Rob in that regard.
“How fares your morning?” Meyneth asked as she approached. Keira grunted in acknowledgment, finished her last ten push-ups in the span of several seconds, and pushed herself to her feet in one final motion. Her task now completed, she greeted Meyneth with a small wave, as an even smaller smile – tinged with apprehension – crept across her face.
“It’s certainly a morning,” the Warrior replied, in a dry tone. “Nothing to do besides wile away the hours until I’m granted the opportunity to stand guard against soulsucking liars. For the third time.” She smirked. “I can only hope that your day has been more fruitful than mine.”
“It is,” Meyneth assured. “I’m in the midst of accomplishing an important task.”
“Really?” Keira leaned a bit closer. “What might that be?”
“Freeing you from the cage you’ve locked yourself within.”
The air may as well have dropped several degrees. “Meyneth,” Keira began, a knifelike edge to her tone. “Fair warning: I’m in a foul mood. Now, would you care to explain that statement of yours?”
“Do you love Rob?”
There it is, she thought, as Keira’s mouth fell open. A decisive blow. Frontal assaults still haven’t lost their luster.
Meyneth counted to five as she watched Keira sputter, the Elf’s silver hair whipping about as she whirled around in a panic to ensure that no one else was nearby. When the time allotted for Keira’s distress had expired, Meyneth repeated her question. No progress could be made without first establishing a proper dialogue. “Do you l-”
“Quiet!” Keira hissed. “What in the world are you doing? You can’t just saunter up and inquire about that topic without even the barest minimum of preamble!”
“Why not?” Meyneth countered. “Do you believe me to be the only person who’s asked themselves that question? I imagine that more than three-quarters of the Deserters have ruminated over the subject by now. Likely with each other, their theories and predictions shared during a pleasant midday lunch as a form of passing amusement.”
Keira’s face flared red as a burning tomato. “Which Villagers have been gossiping?” She said, in a tone that threatened violence. “Give me names. All of them.”
Meyneth lowered her upper eyelids and gave Keira a flat stare. “Doing so would take longer than the day, let alone the morning. As stated, your love life isn’t a matter of secrecy to anyone in possession of functioning eyes and ears.”
“If you’re so damn well sure of yourself,” Keira said, fingers twitching. “Then why bother asking?”
“To gauge your response,” Meyneth said. “On that note: do you love Zamira?”
An exceptionally complicated expression sprung up on Keira’s face. Amongst the Warrior’s roaring tempest of emotions, Meyneth was only capable of parsing out a thick undercurrent of panic; the rest might as well have been hidden beyond a thick fog. Fortunately, Meyneth and her confidante had been prescient enough to plan around Meyneth’s conversational deficiencies. Much like her initial query regarding Rob, this was a question she already knew the answer to. The purpose of asking it was to provoke a response and lead the discussion down a particular path.
“Hmm,” Meyneth said, feigning analysis. “There’s a spark of something in there, but lesser so than with Rob.” She clapped her hands together. “In that case, I fail to see any reason for further delay. I believe that Rob is currently making plans with Elder Alessia – would you prefer seeking him out on your own, or shall I bring him to you?”
“Why not?” Meyneth fixed her eyes forward. “Your heart has already made its choice.”
“...If only it were so simple as that,” Keira replied, in a voice made of granite.
Meyneth let out an audible hum. “You wish to spare Zamira’s feelings?” She offered. Keira hung her head, averted her gaze, and said nothing.
...Three, four, five. “Prolonging your decision will harm them both,” Meyneth stated. “You know this.”
Keira’s shoulders tensed. “...After Men’ta died,” she said, quietly. “Zamira was the first among the people of The Village to put forth an honest attempt at making amends. She approached me of her own accord, admitted her mistakes, and willingly extended a hand of friendship. That meant...so much, and still does. She’s important to me. I don’t want to lose her.”
“You make it sound as if she’s going to run for the hills with tears streaming down her face,” Meyneth said. “Zamira is an understanding person who possesses a deep inner well of strength. Your friendship won’t disintegrate in a flash merely because you gave your heart to another.”
“It might.” Keira released a deep sigh from within her chest. “People often try to keep friendships alive when romantic affections go unrequited. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. The best of intentions won’t always be sufficient – emotions are too complicated by half to predict so easily. What right would I have to demand Zamira’s continued presence around me when it would cause her nothing but pain and resentment?”
The fact that no one has ever held legitimate romantic interest in me grows more appealing by the hour, Meyneth thought, dryly. This is a convoluted mess that I hope to never have to untangle for myself. She took a moment to peruse the branching chain of conversation patterns etched into her mind, and with some degree of trepidation, selected one that was best discussed at the beginning, rather than the end.
“...You could take them both as lovers.” She hazarded. “With their knowledge and consent, of course. Although, if you go that route, I must also recommend that you allocate more points into Endurance. You’ll need it.”
Keira’s eyes widened as large as dishplates. “I can’t possibly do that,” she snapped. “I’m not someone who plays with others’ hearts for my own amusement!”
“Hence the qualifier of ‘with their knowledge and consent’,” Meyneth elaborated. “It’s a slightly more common practice in Dragonkin territory, although I’ve witnessed a few instances among the Deserters. It can work quite well, assuming all parties in the relationship agree and are satisfied with the terms. Rob and Zamira are fond of each other, so they might be perfectly willing to share, and who knows? Perhaps in time that fondness between them will itself grow into love. That way, all parties involved will be on equal footing.”
Keira shook her head violently. “I can’t,” she said, desperate. “Wouldn’t be fair. Wouldn’t feel right. I’m not...”
She screwed her eyes shut and fell silent. Meyneth took a mental step back and dropped the subject as if it were made of burning coals. In truth, while she would have supported whatever decision her friend made, it had been her hope that Keira would decline the option. Meyneth hadn’t lied when she said that she’d seen that particular form of romantic entanglement function quite well; if anything, it resulted in fewer duels to the deaths in broad daylight over hidden paramours. The issue was that it functioned well...for mature people with experience concerning romance. People who were open, honest, and aware of their feelings.
Keira couldn’t even confess to the object of her affections while alone and under the gentle caress of moonlight. It was yet another perfect opportunity squandered after months of stagnation. She exhibited a distressing level of trepidation towards the topic of romance as a whole, and Rob and Zamira were no better. Perhaps the three could revisit the option at a much later date, but presently? They weren’t remotely mature enough to handle the potential insecurities that often arose from entering into a nonstandard relationship. That type of union would end in blood and tears.
Unfortunately, while Meyneth had wanted Keira to decline the option, she hadn’t expected the Warrior to do so with such a frantic tone and pained face. She looked as if she was in the process of being tortured with pins and needles.
“Doesn’t matter,” Keira suddenly blurted out. “This is baseless conjecture. Neither of them feel that way about me.” Her mouth twisted into a sneer. “Here’s a secret: I haven’t learned Seduction. The Prerequisites were never met. No one, in the entire span of my life, has loved me in that manner.”
Meyneth felt a small thrill of joy. It wasn’t often that she was posed a question that she could not only answer, but answer based on her own personal experiences, and without having to rely on outside assistance or a script.
“I haven’t learned Diplomacy,” she said. “And as unlikable as many have found my personality to be, I’m not so dismal at negotiations to warrant that little recognition by the system. I can pinpoint several prime examples where the system should have granted me that Skill, and yet, the desired message never appeared. It made little sense to me until I eventually learned that, for whatever reason, some people simply can’t learn certain Skills. We exist as arbitrary blind spots in the system.”
She crossed her arms. “At the time, the knowledge shocked me to my core. Now, after witnessing Rob’s interactions with the system, I am no longer surprised that it can be...imperfect.”
Keira was staring, blank-faced. “You think I’m one such blind spot?”
“I find that assumption far more likely than the alternative,” Meyneth snorted. “Unless you mean to tell me that the two people who have been gaping at you for months with starstruck eyes wouldn’t take you to bed if given one clear signal of intent.”
Keira, once again, fell silent. Meyneth started her count.
At ‘three’, Keira spoke. “Doesn’t matter,” she whispered. “They don’t care anyway.”
“IT’S FINE AS IT IS!” The Warrior bellowed. Meyneth’s claws reflexively extended by a half-inch as Keira snarled, eyes wild. “Don’t you get it?! Things right now are stable! If I make the wrong move, this happiness I have, it, it all goes to shit in the time it takes to fucking blink! And so what does it matter if I’m some sort of system blind spot? That proves nothing! Rob and Zamira might be attracted to me – for some fucking reason – but that doesn’t mean they love me, they just want-”
Keira slammed her lips shut, shame and self-loathing bursting across every inch of her expression.
Ah, Meyneth thought. I erred.
She’d assumed that Keira’s lack of self-confidence stemmed from the Elf’s poor treatment by The Village as a whole. What Meyneth was witnessing now went even deeper than that. Someone, a specific someone, had taken Keira’s self-worth, dragged it through the mud, and tossed it aside without a second’s care.
Meyneth didn’t need outside assistance to recognize that kind of hurt.
Her first impulse was to find the Someone in question and devour their innards. Unfortunately, that would require learning who the Someone was, and she doubted Keira was in the mood to share that information at present.
The script didn’t account for this, Meyneth groused. And if I could fix this kind of pain with mere words, I would have helped myself long ago.
“My apologies,” was all she could say. “I pressed too far.”
Keira’s posture relaxed by a fraction. “It isn’t your fault,” she said. “This isn’t a subject I’ve discussed with...anyone. Ever.”
“Do you wish to-”
“No.” Keira closed her eyes. “Leave it be, please.”
Neither of them knew what to say after that. As a distraction from the awkward silence enveloping her in a cold embrace, Meyneth picked up the shattered pieces of her script and began to look them over, seeing if there was anything left to salvage. I can’t solve Keira’s internal hardships, she thought. But her external stressors are a different matter. She won’t have to worry about rejecting Zamira if a rejection is no longer necessary.
“Thank you for your time,” Meyneth said, inclining her head at the now-taciturn Warrior. “I sincerely pray that the dark specters of your past will cease to trouble you in the near future. Please focus on setting those thoughts in order; in the interim, I will do my best to assist Zamira to the greatest extent of my capabilities.”
Meyneth turned around and walked away, her stride brimming with purpose and her head racing with possibilities. This conversation with Keira was only the beginning; she wouldn’t stop until the three fools who called her a friend were living their lives to their fullest. They deserved that much and more. Motivation infused her soul, and her stride became a sprint, the disparate ideas floating within her mind slowly coalescing into a plan.
Had she been slightly less motivated, she likely would have stayed long enough for Keira’s thoughts to catch up with everything that just transpired.
“Wait,” Keira said, to an empty backyard. “Assist Zamira how?”
“I’m sorry,” Taleya stated.
Rob blinked a couple times. “Okaaaaay,” he said. “About what?”
Her downcast eyes snapped upwards in an instant. “What do you mean ‘about what’?” She exclaimed, with a note of irritation. “Must I describe – in detail – every single facet of my blunder?”
Guess this is why she wanted to talk in a secluded area, he thought, furrowing his eyebrows. “Well that’s just rude. This apology doesn’t sound very sincere at all.”
She sputtered. “You don’t even know what it’s for!”
“That’s hardly an excuse.”
Taleya was about to retort when Rob let out a snort, his poker face cracking. “Sorry, sorry,” he chuckled. “Couldn’t help myself. Seriously, though, I can’t remember what you would need to apologize for. Unless it’s because you’re the one who told Urian that I’m the ‘flame-addled simpleton’ who keeps using all the Firebombs, in which case, apology not accepted, what the hell is wrong with you.”
“I’m fairly certain that was Jevora,” Taleya remarked. “Heard her complaining once or twice about a lack of ‘forceful illumination’ for her birthday celebration in several weeks.”
“Oh my god, it was that nouveau riche jerkoff?” Rob ran his hands down his face. “Just knew she would try and get back at me one day. She’s had it out for me ever since I told her braindead husband that he couldn’t fill up Spatial Storage space with his giant-ass luxury bed.”
He paused. “What were we talking about again?”
“I was apologizing.” Taleya winced. “Would it be a proper show of sincerity if I helped you devise a plan to feed Jevora and her husband to the Blight?”
“That’s in extremely poor taste. Let me think about it.” Rob raised an eyebrow. “Should probably explain why you’re apologizing first, though.”
“I walked away!” Taleya said, throwing her hands up in the air. “When you revealed that the gods were targeting you and your friends out of a sense of sick and twisted amusement, I couldn’t bear to hear it. And when Vul’to later told me that a god spoke to you, with words of bitter hatred no less, I couldn’t bear to hear that either.”
She pursed her lips. “I don’t know if I should be offended or relieved that you’ve apparently forgotten about it already.”
“Trust me, I didn’t forget.” Rob sighed. “The thing is, as annoyed as I was when you stormed out, I can’t really blame you for it. What I said can’t have been easy to accept.” He paused. “Mind telling me what’s changed between then and now?”
“I required time to come to terms with the...implications,” she grimaced. “Of a world where its creators are sadistic creatures of vice. And to grow weary of being a damned coward who spent every day avoiding her closest allies out of lingering shame.”
“Honestly, it’s not a big deal,” Rob said. “I figured you would come around eventually. Didn’t really need or expect an apology.” He smirked. “And at this point it just feels kind of weird not having you in the Party.”
Her grimace deepened. “You are owed another apology,” Taleya murmured. “I repeatedly joined your Party at every possible opportunity in an attempt to ingratiate myself and become a permanent recipient of Fast Learner.”
Rob rolled his eyes. “Taleya, I’m not stupid. I knew that too.”
She winced. “Was I that blatant?”
Rob held his thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart. “Little bit.”
Taleya rubbed her forehead. “Shit. Forgot you were a prescient bastard with a Diplomacy of 10 or god knows what. I don’t suppose you happen to have any magic words to help soothe the crippling guilt I feel over Randor and Lycia’s death? If I’d offered my position in your Party to them – and others – on more occasions, they would have been higher-Leveled when the Blight came.”
Rob’s smile faded. “Wasn’t your fault or mine,” he said, in a small voice. “A few Levels here and there wouldn’t have made a difference.”
“Told myself that already,” Taleya said. “Didn’t work. The effort is appreciated, though. Thank you.” She hesitated. “And...thank you for the easy forgiveness. I swear that I won’t take it for granted.”
“Hey, I’m no saint,” Rob said. “What if I’m being chill – as in, lackadaisical – about this whole thing because I want to make you feel indebted to my overflowing generosity?”
“Then I must beg you to teach me your ways.”
They shared a smirk. A moment later, Taleya’s gaze sharpened. “In all seriousness – be wary when meeting with the Fiends,” she stated. “They’re planning something. Those who quickly agree to terms they dislike are either pragmatic or underhanded. I’d bet the depths of my coffers that the black-eyed behemoth of a Fiend you met with before is both.”
“Figured as much,” Rob sighed. “I’ll be on guard for chicanery and duplicity and all that jazz. I doubt they end up trying anything too bad – especially since we’ve been scoping out the meeting spot since sunrise – but my finger’s on the panic button until further notice.”
“Then go with Lothren’s grace – argh.” Taleya made a face like she’d smelled a sewage pump. “May the day when I stop giving praise to those reprobates out of habit come soon. Simply put: good luck, Rob.”
Rob’s heart swelled with pride as Taleya held up her hand for a high-five. After the Deserters’ sacred ritual had been performed, he said his goodbyes and started making his way over to the meeting location.
Thanks for staying out of that one, Rob thought, as he walked.
The Deserters and Fiends had agreed to rendezvous at a small house in neutral territory. Three people from each side would show up, say their greetings, and then immediately start to exchange information and take a look at Rob’s arm. He was bringing Keira and Zamira, while the Fiends were bringing Goroth, Faelynn, and one of their Healers. Keira’s Danger Sense was a necessity in the event of an ambush, and Alessia had reluctantly acceded her spot to Zamira after recognizing that a second person with Fiendish Auto-Translate was more valuable than an Elder with a splitting headache. Most importantly, Helkath wasn’t attending – thank Christ – so in theory, the whole affair should go off without a hitch.
It wouldn’t, but a man could dream.
Keira was waiting for him when he arrived. He gave her a wave, his good cheer fading when he noticed how on edge she was. Shuffling in place, eyes twitching, fingers inching towards her greatsword – she seemed about ready to fight the next thing that looked at her funny. The other Elves nearby had noticed her demeanor and made themselves scarce, and they only spared a moment to glance at Rob’s arrival before studiously turning away. If sparks were about to fly, then they didn’t want too stay too close and be set aflame.
“Keira?” He asked. “You okay?”
At the sound of his voice, every muscle in Keira’s body stiffened. “Rob!” She said, in a warbly falsetto. “You’re here!”
“...I sure am,” he said. “Going to have to repeat my question of ‘you okay’, because you’re not exactly filling me with confidence.”
“Everything is fine!” she proclaimed. Rob raised his eyebrows to the very top of his forehead. A second later – and with visible effort – Keira forced herself to relax until she’d attained something resembling composure.
“Not everything is fine,” she admitted. “But it won’t affect our meeting with the Fiends, and it’s a matter that I’d prefer be discussed at a later time.”
Rob examined her for a few moments before shrugging. “Your call. If you say you’re good, then you’re good. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need something, though.”
“Of course,” Keira said, a bit more at ease. “Thank you.” She paused. “As an aside, did you – by any chance – happen to speak with Meyneth today?”
“Haven’t seen her. Did hear on the grapevine that she was going around and talking to random civilians for whatever reason.” The arrival of a familiar face caught his eye. “You could ask Zamira – she might know more.”
For reasons that she refused to explain, it took Keira a few solid minutes to regain her composure after that comment.
It turned out that the Fiends’ chicanery and duplicity had started early, because when Rob, Keira, and Zamira arrived at the meeting location, an important figure was already missing.
“Where’s Goroth?” Rob asked, as he hesitantly sat down at the table. “I was led to believe he would be here.”
“That was the planned arrangement, yes,” Faelynn explained, as she fiddled her fingers with nervous energy. “However, after further consideration, he decided that it could cause a power imbalance if a Level 36 Fiend was present at a non-hostile meeting between allies. As a...um...show of good faith, he elected to switch out his attendance for that of a second Healer, in order to better facilitate the restoration of your injured arm.”
The breadth of information that Diplomacy – currently Level 16 – could glean from a flicker of movement was mildly terrifying. Is their Healer telling the truth?
“Don’t appreciate the short notice change,” Rob said, directing a wintry gaze at the Fiends. “But as long as you’re officially speaking for Goroth, then I’m willing to roll with the punches.”
He lifted his limp right arm and laid it into the table. “Speaking of punches, I miss being able to throw them. Before we get started on the information exchange, I’m going to need at least a cursory examination of what Soul-Burnt is and how to fix it. Otherwise it’ll be on my mind the entire time we’re talking.”
“Of course,” Faelynn said, eager to please. “That’s why Yezrun and Sigdra are here, after all.”
“He’ll need to explain his nature,” the older male Healer – Yezrun – intoned. “I won’t take one step closer until he does.”
Faelynn was too slow to hide her wince of anxiety. Keira laid a hand on Rob’s shoulder and kept it there. Rob narrowed his eyes at Yezrun, who returned his gaze with a hard stare that brooked no argument, the man glaring forward with two orbs of pitch-black surrounded by furrowed lines of age and hardship.
Rob sighed internally. What, does he want to throw up too?
“You’ll have to be more specific,” Rob said. He leaned closer, causing the Healers to tense and flinch backwards, their masks slipping. “What does ‘nature’ mean, exactly? Say what’s on your mind – we’re all friends here.” Theoretically.
The three Fiends glanced at each other, unspoken words passing between them. “Our people can use Soul Magic,” Faelynn eventually said, speaking slowly. “This includes an inherent Racial Skill called Soul Sight. Explaining the sensation would be similar to explaining sight to a blind man, so for the sake of simplicity, imagine that each person has a soul nestled inside their body, and Soul Sight allows us to discern their soul’s makeup at a glance. Each race follows a general template, although individual souls are uniquely distinguishable from one another.”
Rob leaned closer – this time, out of interest. “So you can ‘see’ my soul’s arm? Does it look fucked up?”
“...Yes,” she replied, at a loss. A moment later, her face brightened as if she’d been struck by some sort of epiphany. “Are Zamira and Keira unaware of your Status? Is that why you aren’t-”
“They know anything and everything that I do.” Not even Diplomacy was a secret anymore.
More silence. Rob tamped down his irritation; according to Diplomacy, it wasn’t the right moment for him to turn up the aggression. A few more vague avoidances on the Fiends’ part, and it would be.
“Faelynn, this is the fourth time we’ve met in so many days. There’s no need for subtlety or doublespeak anymore.” He gestured, palm open. “I won’t take offense if-”
“Feigning ignorance, even at this stage?” Yezrun interrupted. “Predictable. You were given a chance, creature, and you squandered it.”
He pounded both fists on his shirtless chest. Markings that Rob had assumed were tattoos lit up with a brilliant white light. His inner ear protested as the space around them warped, leaving Rob feeling like he was a passenger on a plane that had abruptly taken a ninety-degree nosedive. The sensation dissipated as quickly as it came, and when his vision cleared, Rob was unable to stop himself from firing off a string of expletives in both languages.
He, Keira, and Zamira were surrounded. Yezrun’s teleportation spell had transplanted five new Fiends into their now-cramped meeting room. All were Combat Class users over Level 25, none of them seemed very happy to be there, and one of them just so happened to be Rob’s ‘favorite’ Fiend of all.
“Helkath!” Faleynn stood and jabbed an accusatory finger at him. “What in Argath’s name are you doing here?! When Goroth hears-”
“Goroth knows,” Helkath said, stepping forward. “Stand down – my actions are sanctioned.”
Rob sighed. I really wish I was surprised.
Faelynn and Helkath descended into a short argument that the latter, with his superior numbers and presumptive authority, was guaranteed to win. Yezrun the Trojan Horse Healer was also on Helkath’s side, making Faelynn’s only nominal support the second Healer she’d brought along, who was already doing her best to shrink into her seat and disappear. Recognizing that anything they could say would be like throwing gasoline on a fire, Rob, Keira, and Zamira sat back and watched in silence.
That didn’t mean they were idle. As soon as the Fiends’ argument began, Rob removed Vul’to from his Party. It sent a signal to the Deserters on the outside – specifically, that things on the inside were fucked, but not so fucked that it was time for them to storm the gates and mount a rescue. Keira kept her hand at its place on Rob’s shoulder without increasing or decreasing her grip strength, a silent message that her Danger Sense hadn’t gone off, meaning that despite the teleportation ambush, none of the new Fiends intended them imminent bodily harm. And while the Fiends were distracted by their verbal slapfight, Rob tapped his ring finger twice on his inner thigh, signifying to Keira and Zamira that he was going to stick around and see where this plane crash was going to land before bailing. If the second negotiation was anything to go by, Helkath was far more honest when emotionally compromised, and Rob wanted answers while the Fiend was in the mood to give them.
After all, this wasn’t just Helkath acting on his own. Numerous Fiends had gotten together and agreed that supplanting their leader and invading a glorified luncheon was a perfectly logical course of action. There had to be a damn good reason for that – and if there wasn’t, Rob was going to start breaking kneecaps. With that pleasant thought in mind, he repeatedly cast Not A Scratch in case of a sudden attack, kept his finger on the Waymark panic button, and waited for the Fiends’ infighting to subside.
One minute later, Faelynn sank into her chair, defeated. Helkath turned his dark gaze towards Rob, face taut with emotion. “Rob,” he began, phrasing the name like an insult. “If I am here, it is because you – a man who propagates lies of mutual trust and understanding – are still refusing to admit your true nature. You claim the moral high ground with every breath you take, yet you expect us to ignore the falsehood that has been staring us in the face since the moment we laid eyes upon you. I say: no more. This mutual fiction has been allowed to persist for far too long.”
“Shut the fuck up, Helkath,” Rob said, disregarding Diplomacy’s instructions. “I’m sick of your shit. You’re lucky that your actions haven’t already led to the death of every Fiend in Broadwater.”
Black eyes narrowed. “Is that a threat, creature?”
“It’s an obvious outcome to a predictable series of events,” Rob said, like he was explaining 2 + 2 to a child. “We set up a peace treaty. You broke it. Want to know what happens when peace treaties get broken? People die. For extremely avoidable reasons. Do they not teach History class in Fiendland?”
“Peace with a monstrosity such as you is doomed to failure,” Helkath scoffed. “If Goroth had the sense to realize that, he would have struck you down when the chance presented itself. The fact that he is willing to parlay with Elves who accept you as one of their own is an affront to good sense.”
“You know, the Elves weren’t nearly so bitchy as you when they first met me,” Rob countered. “And considering they tried to kill me on sight, that’s really saying something. I get that there’s bad blood here, but maybe if you took a second to pull your head out of your ass, you’d be able to see that I’m not like the Humans you’ve fought against in the past.”
“That much is certain,” Helkath growled. “As you are no Human at all.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
“I mean...okay?” Rob replied, ignoring the undercurrent of dread welling up from the bottom of his gut. “Status Screen says otherwise. Can’t show it to you, but it says ‘Race: Human’, right there in big bold text.”
“Then you are a liar,” Helkath continued. “Or the system is wrong. For decades, I have seen Humans, fought Humans, killed Humans. The shape of their souls are as well-known to me as any Fiend’s. And you, creature, are no Human.”
The Fiends he’d brought with him adopted aggressive stances and extended their claws. Rob didn’t care. The sight of a group of hostile, battle-ready soldiers was nothing compared to the sensation of the world falling out from under him that Helkath’s proclamation had induced.
“No more tricks. No more lies.” The Fiend pointed a glimmering claw at Rob’s face. “This is your final chance, so speak well.”
He bared his teeth. “What are you, and whose soul did you devour?”
Big announcement: Outcast Book 2 is now available on Amazon! Book 1 did better than my wildest dreams, and a large chunk of that success was due to you guys coming out to support it in a big way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
If you'd like to give Book 2 a boost as well, please considering adding Book 2 to your Kindle Unlimited library for free (assuming you have KU). Doing so helps the story via algorithm weirdness.
If you'd like to support it in another way, reader reviews help a lot too.
You guys are seriously the best fanbase I could've asked for, and I'm looking forward to bringing you more story for a long time to come. As always, thanks for reading!
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2021.12.06 02:16 Ivan-Drago- Recently bought this happyboi. Can he join the party?
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2021.12.06 02:16 Chkb_Souranil21 linux new kernal version
I have a question is after the release of the newest linux kernal and the distros that are using the kernal are being more unstable? cause i saw some post reagrding the unstable nature of different distros in various different people's computers. though i haven't updated my pop os distro on my computer and also is not noticing any unstable nature with my computer.
many people told different issues with their different distros such are those are listed below:-