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2020.08.02 16:54 2Augbarium Nude totally spies
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2020.07.26 22:01 AgentPlaster Spies totally nude
How old are you? What's your gender? Give us a general description of yourself. Mid+ 20s/f. Non-native speaker. Most likely a 5w6 or other way around, wouldn't be able to narrow it down ever, knowing true self too hard.
If you asked me irl as someone I just met to tell you about myself, I would only keep it to things that define me superficially. I would omit certain topics that I consider my private life (creative outlets, "pretentious" ones, mentioning relationships, freetime, anything lol), either cuz I don't enjoy talking about them or I don't like/trust the person and don't want them to get "interested" in me. It's not even so for self-protection as cuz I have no idea what I would answer to the questions that would follow - ppl asking me personal (deeply internal) questions often results in a ???, no idea what to say and it's often filled in randomly, lots of guesswork/bs. I think I mould the "who I am" answers around what (self-protecting/appropriate) image I'm trying to show to the world.
Is there a medical diagnosis that impact your mental/comportamental stability somehow? Social anxiety disorder stemming from many various factors (part cognitive; part having a problem acting myself in a group but it's almost gone). Atm I'm finishing a chapter of an almost a decade of neuroses after crashing and terrible choices and only now I'm growing into my personality. Hopefully. One day.
Describe your upbringing. Did it have any kind of religious or structured influence? How did you respond to it? Grew up with a single traditional overly nurturing mother. She was big on being orderly, very anxious of world and didn't let me have much experience & fail (very bad in retrospect, comfortable back then). My country isn't religious but recently I'm really enjoying spiritual concepts (Jung etc.), it's important for my self-growth & dealing with the magically almost 30 years unseen/repressed stuff lol.
I grew to PC already as a small kid and was curious how to "make those fancy effects" and stuff lol. I totally can fix my own PC if I want to but not being able to find a solution asap drives me crazy - I just want it to work, now! I got interested into stuff like photomanipulation & coding early on. As a kid I really loved making useful "furniture/devices" out of building sets.
During my teens I was dressing alternative'ish but it really looked horrible lol. No taste (no money?). I looked like an edge lord I think. I was always an outsider as a kid but it could be cuz this living area is horrible, lots of rich kids who were always criticizing someone's looks. Idk where's the edge between bullying and teasing but having legs tripped and breakfast stolen got annoying. My best friends turned out to be masculine lesbians and it appears that I seem to attract a follower chill kind of guys. I am often attracted by feminine nice/pleasant nurturing guys (hi animus?) but it never seems to work, I need someone with similar attitude towards private/public life keen on self-dev who keeps me responsible for my bs, ... like last time I dated somoene cognitively altogether different but we had same approach/stance to life despite not necessarily agreeing on everything which we were cool about. (Except the thing where he said he'll leave me in woods on a trip if I don't keep up lol. /jk)
What do you do as a job or as a career (if you have one)? Do you like it? Why or why not? Not atm, I screwed up and I don't wanna go back into it cuz the options are garbage, I don't wanna deal with them and with the feelings it evokes uuugh. As a result I just hid myself from the world cuz I feel as a "failure". I guess I need a sense of status/usefulness lol. It's not helping that ppl treat you based of what you do (or it's my Shadow's PoV at least, I am not exactly balanced).
I haven't explored the real world too much but I am alright with social settings if it only follows a given conduct and no unexpected situations, I can embrace a formal/reponsive persona very well. I found out I don't mind jobs where you get to talk to customers, such as selling them a product. Except if I don't know a sheet about it and then I am at a loss how to adapt, feels awkward.
If you had to spend an entire weekend by yourself, how would you feel? Would you feel lonely or refreshed? I am always by myself, np. I have two longterm best friends whom I'm in touch with online whenever we feel like it. They're super introverted and I don't mind when they don't respond / don't read it. I like to pingpong my thoughts this way or share with them what I'm doing or discuss things.
I don't mind being among a chill group of ppl but I don't necessarily want to actively interact / pay attention. I might dislike it if a group singles me out - just because I don't talk to someone 24/7 _at work_ doesn't mean I dislike them.
What is your relation with movement and your surroundings? For instance do you prefer a sport or outdoors event? If an outdoors event what is it? And why? If not what type of activities do you tend to engage i? I don't seek it but it's obv. important, my physical health going to hell gives me huge anxiety. (I always "forget" my promise to "exercise every day" once it's ok.) I prefer low-energy exercise like pilates - functional/longevity/correction stuff. Some adult'ish take on ballet is super fun too, feels like a great stretching exercise.
I very much enjoy stuff like festival of light (an installation event full of video projections etc.), I like taking photos there and immersing myself in the moment. It's the only specific outdoor event I like attending, feels so surreal and you're a part of it with everyone, amazing experience.
I am uh... average? with my surroundings. Basically do not throw fast flying objects at me or don't behave randomly while I'm near you, frozen by fear when you gonna accidentally land into me lol. I zone out if my surrounding's not important / no changes and I'm probably going to be excitable if I am in some cool new place (travel), probably ready to childishly explore (not by myself, hopefully with someone).
How curious are you? Do you have more ideas then you can execute? What are your curiosities about? What are your ideas about - is it environmental or conceptual, and can you please elaborate? Basically I am curious about things in front of me or concerning what I am into already. My curiosity stems from, "Why?", I wanna go deeper or for a mastery. If it's irrelevant then it's irrelevant and therefore I don't care. Contrary to me going on about mastery my patience/memorizing is kinda bad, I finish things half-assedly. I don't possess general knowledge at all but I tend to have specific interests.
Like recently I realized I can finally grow an interest in cooking by being interested in the science of cooking. Spoiler: cooking is on the backlog now.
I think I have just the perfect amount of ideas to execute (I do that as I go if I have the skill), I throw away the ones that don't fit the big picture. I don't take up things that don't relate = new things means a serious commitment and I like going deep, else it's just a distraction that will desorient me. I very occasionally try something unexpected that is probably so out of character that it leaves my friends questioning, "I'd never think you'd try that, are you ok?".
I think my ideas concern how to improve things. I am critical of my surroundings/inefficiency. The more I know the moer ideas I have so it's better to not know too much lol - I like to maintain my focus.
Would you enjoy taking on a leadership position? Do you think you would be good at it? What would your leadership style be? Idk but my superiors always end up pushing it on me...? (I am "asking" for it by bringing in ideas, questions and being responsible lol.) At my worst in a leadership I'd be an authoritian asshat cuz I'd be too self-invested in "what is the best (not for the ppl here lol)", and at my best... idk, it's complicated. Would depend on the field/responsibility/cause.
Idk if I would truly enjoy it but I would enjoy it as long as it'd be new, novelty/learning keeps my interest.
Are you coordinated? Why do you feel as if you are or are not? Do you enjoy working with your hands in some form? Describe your activity? Sorta, with some hiccups. Me attending a dance class means that I keep repeating something rhythmically on accident, totally not employing memory of what is next. It's too fast for me to memorize.
I have excellent spatial memory/orientation but I don't believe it's necessarily mbti related (?). I am not actively observing my surrounding but the important components leak in anyway, I can easily recall how to get where even many years later.
Working with my hands gives me ADHD. Ex., made a 35 pieces origami to "reset myself". The result was worth but it almost killed my patience, i whined, a lot.
On the other hand, a part-time job where I was wrapping gifts - that felt better because you were free to figure out some aesthetically looking wrapping, you had responsibility an ppl kept it fresh. Pissed me off when ppl were like, "hurry up, it's ok" - I am sorry but are you seriously paying for a service so it looks like sh-t? I am responsible with what I do and I won't "put my name" under poorly done work, ever.
I think my eye-hand coordination is average cuz when playing shooters, I would need to train it in very slow speed and force myself to concentrate so I see the hitboxes etc. in the real time. Could be my anxiety tho, it's too fast. I usually hit most of my shots cuz I'm driving on "omg that scared me" impulses. Being competitive for too long tends to make me take it too seriously and get angry, so I no longer do that.
Are you artistic? If yes, describe your art? If you are not particular artistic but can appreciate art please likewise describe what forms of art you enjoy. Please explain your answer. I am "accidentally" artistic (mainly writing for emotions clean-up and visual art for exercising creativity). I need it to get emotions out of my system (even if I don't know I'm having them). The last time I stopped making art my mind was full of bottled up anger ugh. It's my way to wind off. I usually end up sketching then lots of human figures/faces or surreal stuff when on automatic.
Baiscally I have two art modes: one is spontaneous, I'm not really thinking about it, it's automatic. Then the second is learning & practising principles and automatically recognizing what needs improvement. I am very technical about it, I develop my own methods to accomplish what I need - to take things apart.
I photograph probably because if I didn't, I wouldn't even bother attending public events. It gives me something to do and keeps me focused. I could've turned it into business a decade ago, had a good models following - did fantasy/moody edits of alternative models, having my own conceptual ideas (but mostly it was about the right fitting setting, a purpose to create some mood, story, feeling, ...)
My photographs are a bit meh, the best part is the post-processing = being creative, trying various options to see what happens. My friend say, "it's a nice photo but there's nothing in it". That's why I am best at photographing architecture, we understand each other, ok. I don't like photographing strangers cuz it makes me feel nervous, I never know what their reaction will be if they notice me. Plus I can read their discomfort, ain't helping it makes me feel as a spy, totally stiff. Otherwise my photos are at best abstract, surreal, urban, ... else pretty boring. I need to get into "the zone" to take half-decent photos, I need to be aware and try to think out of the box.
I enjoy many forms of art, not sure about my criteria - probably not a sunset/nature/animals, it's the same thing all over. I follow modern learning artists on same websites I post at. I think I like unusual, aesthetical, interesting, ... stuff? But if someone posts "unique" style all over it's boring. So maybe it's about the ideas? Or maybe about stuff that evoke emotions/mood. But I also like photos of female models/nudes a lot, I love the raw powestrenght.
What's your opinion about the past, present, and future? How do you deal with them? I guess I am a present oriented person? I indulge in what is meaningful for me. Losing my focus means I will become scattered, constantly worried about who I am and theorizing about it lol. Apparently my identity is what I do/make. 10/10
At my worst (big stress) I am stuck in the past and fearful of the future.
How do you act when others request your help to do something (anything)? If you would decide to help them, why would you do so? Annoyeeed. You probably didn't even try and are lazy and are trying to exploit me cuz I look like someone nice (I get what I deserve, ikr). And you're probably breaking my focus already for 3rd time in an hour. Or I will help you and then you will whine that I "broke something", eff off.
Except when you're thta granny who needed a help to explain some new tech stuff in the library. I froze because I don't expect ppl to want anything from me yet they always do. I never know if the request that will follow is going ot be something I can do. I hate that part, feels awkward.
But when it's over it feels great, a good deed. I am also much more happy to help out if it's a part of my job - hell, I am bored, don't let me stare at the wall!
Otherwise if it's random ppl (street), I am extremely cautious. Could be thanks to my phobic mother tho. My SO recently helped some random homeless man and I was like, "woah, cool, but how do you know he's not just being (insert in the blank)?"
Do you need logical consistency in your life? Idk. I don't have a nonstop logics scanner like Ti doms but when I have to spot inconsistencies I will pick them out. It's important for arguments but I prefer not to talk to ppl who are emotional while arguing at all, too much bs to get anywhere, not worth. I acutally don't really talk to ppl outside of my circle so idc, they're all pretty rational.
How important is efficiency and productivity to you? Well looking at myself in retrospect, despite looking for how to do things better and automatically discovering such ways, it doesn't look like I apply it to myself? Time flies and I've done "nothing". Aka I probably forgot about my initial need and side-tracked a bit to what I see relevant by then.
I am ironically often the fastest worker at wokrplace - cuz nothing distracts me and I don't care to chitchat with ppl, I just get (the boring) stuff done, I focus. But when I am bored I distract myself by talking to ppl, unexpectedly to them.
Do you control others, even if indirectly? How and why do you do that? No? Altho... maybe "controlling" by not-controlling (learning about social skills etc.), I just wanna make sure to bs-proof. It's kinda bad for my confidence too cuz at my worst I'm trying to understand others too much, when my social skills were bad I used to feel like I did something wrong cuz I couldn't react fast enough. I should "man up" and be like "whatever" sometimes but it's also impossible cuz then I will be viewed as an asshat uuugh. Maybe I care too much about bs.
What are your hobbies? Why do you like them? Idk I feel like I have no hobbies anymore lol
Things that produce fast/immediate ersults (I need those "mini hights")
Atm getting back into reading, keeping my vocab up is important to me, my expressing sucks otherwise (I get irritated if I can't put some concept into words). I also enjoy finding connections in words, etymology etc., always gives me some "ooh" moments.
I like the "it was too slow and boring why would you make it so long" books; Ender's Game, Rand's Fountainhead, ... basically fiction strong on psychological factors, fun; as a kid LoTR & HP (the only fantasy books that don't piss me off cuz anything else is like "a poor bullied guy was special 100 pages later), ...
I am attuned to reading nonfiction primraily but I find it at the same time pointless cuz I know I will forget unless if I make it my new interest ugh
I am also attutned to reading about abstract concepts (phi etc.) but it feels boring because then I cannot come up wtih those thoughts myself, and it makes no sense to me to read someone's else's thoughts - I've got mine with me 24/7, thx
I am totally into self-dev rn, perhaps a wee bit too much
I am always kinda interested in how the world works (systems), insert any topics
Atm back into editing photography cuz it's the only thing tied to sense of accomplishment, I get to interact with the community here and there which is cool
Should take up some coding/programming/whatever again cuz it makes me think and wanna create / discover things how they work, fun
Should take up drawing cuz then I won't have million of random thoughts anymore tyvm
I don't like playing vid games too much but I love stuff like Cities: Skylines (I can get stuck at a section figuring out how to resolve a problem to min-max stuff or I learn about building realistic cities), certain isometric RPG games (the ones that "are so slow wtf I got bored"; Mass Effect, ), ... I loved Dark Soul 1 mood/world, I like tactical elements a LOT, ...
I would love to design (insert in the blank: products, architecture, systems, ...) etc. for living, I've got the perfect cognitive tools for it
... is making (art/music) collections a hobby...? It's gotten pretty huge, been at it since a kid.
What is your learning style? What kind of learning environments do you struggle with most? Why do you like/struggle with these learning styles? Do you prefer classes involving memorization, logic, creativity, or your physical senses? I struggle with loud environments, interruptions, lots of memorization and no time to comprehend / test it out / learn about things that connect to create multi-perspective "net" - I preferably keep memorizing passively by engaging with the material over time
My natural learning style is "keep adding up in the gaps", sense of direction is being given intuitively/subconsciously
I tend to conceptualize some things so I can remember it better if it's pure memorization, it can be a slow process as I'm not used to it
How good are you at strategizing? Do you easily break up projects into manageable tasks? Or do you have a tendency to wing projects and improvise as you go? Idk, I guess I don't (need to)? I work in bursts, everything at once, where my interest leads me. I am pressuerd by the uh... vision? or a need to get it done. If I made a set of steps to follow I would never lol, forever forgotten. I use paper to ditch there things I can't get out of my mind & to make notes when learning, that's about it.
WIth stuff I struggle with / hate I tend to limit time-wise so I don't burn myself out on it.
I often don't finish things except if it can be finished without distraction or it matters to me (= it matters if I am still doing it, that's how I know), also I keep going if it's a part of routinal activity
What's important to you and why? Being away from my stressors. Progressing in my hobbies. Constant self-growth, self-mastery, understanding the self. Small achievements, progress. Feeling of safety (socially).
What are your aspirations? Mastery. Maybe later on positive influence. Would be cool to get some stuff out there.
What are your fears? What makes you uncomfortable? What do you hate? Why? fears/stressors
Sometimes I fear mechanical things that don't I don't know how they work / they appear to work inconsistently, usually systems where you can get trapped and that are small (toilets in transportation freak me out lol), or mechanical contraptions / rotating doors oyu have to pass through and it gives me a sensation that I will get squished in it. I am slower with tech stuff and need to be left alone to physically explore all of the options to understand how it works.
I hate having to act fast / react to everything in a workplace, reactionarily, gives me anxiety. Having to do something new I am not ready for or don't know how it works, it activates my run-away/panic reflex.
Anxiety when being sick, "am I going to die?" /jk (I just make sure to have someone around me who's gonna tell me it's normal sickness and it won't worsen, thx)
Ppl who catastrophize esp. if I am alreayd anxious. I need someone who says "it's ok, you got it".
Having to keep prolonged attention to spoken information (ppl always get at me I m not listening on purpose while I just can't, it's tiring)
Uncertain future (in deep stress after losing focus)
Ppl who are stressed/angry make me stressed. Loud environments thta I am not allowed to filter out cuz I need to pay attention (to getting called). Sudden (noise/touch) interruptions.
(confused) Being asked to do something if I don't know the "why".
Being dismissed/ignored in a group settings. I just stop contributing to them and might lash out later if I made the effort to say something actually important. Even worse if it proves later on I was right and nobody remembers it.
(in stress) Being underappreciated/overlooked, not being given a fair credit
(annoyed) Having to explain myself after ppl don't get it the first time, I can't recall the things anymore the same way
(evil) Guilting with past
My anticipation getting ruined by a sudden change. Unreliable ppl (cancelling dates etc., I hate the ruined anticipation)
(in stress) Being rushed to make commitments before I am ready (so basically never if I already don't know).
Simple repetitive work that requires zero brains, I start feeling fatiqued af too early and might start making unpredictable decisions as a way to find way out
(in stress) Being given unasked for "advices"
Frequent changes to my schedule by requiring prompt flexibility (I never wanna work part time jobs again lol)
(in stress) Constant "nurturing" reminders about totally obvious things (tangible nature, my duties) when I am failing to pay attention to them cuz of stress
Ppl moralizing me if I follow work code but they want me to slip past the rules cuz "subjective feelings"
What do the "highs" in your life look like? Everything going well, no big decisions to make (tyvm). Small successes (like rn, getting my artwork awarded, felt nice). Meeting once in a blue moon with friends from abroad and going for travel. Doing unexpectedly something new out of character and enjoying the experience being carefree for once.
What do the "lows" in your life look like? Loss of focus & hobbies, ... I forgot the rest lol.
"GRIP": self-image problems, past obsession, OCD (thoughts, mental effups; organizing, minimizing, infinite proofreading, hoarding), emotive (angry), lethargic, hedonic, impulsive
Indulging in stress (comfortable): hedonistic, MMOs
Indulging in stress (uncomfortable): emotive, self-image, past
How attached are you to reality? Do you daydream often, or do you pay attention to what's around you? If you do daydream, are you aware of your surroundings while you do so? I zone out all the time, no idea what's around me except navigating around "obstacles", full auto-pilot, "get fast from A to B, listen to music, stick to your fav/safe spots". My form of daydreaming is explained in next Q.
Imagine you are alone in a blank, empty room. There is nothing for you to do and no one to talk to. What do you think about? I would ask what are you after and probably will make an excuse to pass cuz I hate being evaluated/psychoanalyzed by strangers, just piss off D:<
But to answer this (for science), I would probs just zone out if I had to stay. My thoughts circle around on their own without me trying to think about anything specific nor being actively aware what they're on about, and I let them.
How long do you take to make an important decision? And do you change your mind once you've made it? How long? You mean, never? If I don't have an existing underlying factors to make one I am screwed. Like right now. I am realizing that my previous experience nor going after best possibilities will resolve it cuz they're irrelevant. I am choosing the one which is lesser stressor. Ideally I choose the thing that "I know is correct for me", I just know it's the one if it exists.
No, I don't change my mind about things I decided on. Except the things "woah it looks cool (someday)" and then certain dicks get at me that, "you'er lazy, you didn't do what you said". Idk how ppl manage to misunderstand me lol? I never mean a specific timing.
Then I have a set of "impulsive" decisions/tasks that I made in some weird mode and I will forget about them.
How long do you take to process your emotions? How important are emotions in your life? Unconsciously with art, so probably instantly? Otherwise it will be a very long theorizing session if I totally neglected them, ending up in random burst of emotions and anger, full Shadow form (yup it was fun).
I like ot evoke emotions by listening to moody music (it makes me feel calm & focused + it filters out surrounding), otherwise my emotions are like sulking, stubborn, excited, angry, annoyed, whiny, neutral, don't-care, not-even-here, whatever.
Do you ever catch yourself agreeing with others just to appease them and keep the conversation going? How often? Why? Well I am pretty straightforward with ppl who are direct. With ppl who aren't I am super careful cuz I can vibe they're not "good" for me or I don't care about what they have to say, literally don't care. So I just go "mhm / yeah idk / maybe". I also often do that when I am focused. The other time I do that cuz it's impossible for me to make an opinion instantly, I need to let it sink in. I think this makes me appear unauthentic because most of the ppl don't understand that "I might" atittude.
Do you break rules often? Do you think authority should be challenged, or that they know better? If you do break rules, why would you? I don't break them cuz I don't wanna get yelled at / attract attention and deplete my energy on it. But I whine about dumb rules or avoid them, I question them if I can see they're legit bad and discuss it with an authority (often useless cuz they're not in the lead of it or are acting from a place of fear).
Most of the rules have a solid reason to be in place so no need to break them. Obviously there are exceptions like employers making up shitty rules that don't even exist in the laws yet they keeping lying, then I don't mind arguing with them and pissing them off. I detest ppl who think they can exploit others cuz they're uninformed.
What is the ideal life, in your opinion? Great question, just recently I think I figured out a part of it. Working any job that isn't a stressor for me / doesn't fatique me, while having tons of time aside for whatever interests me, potentially even turning some of those things into freelancing. - That's now, not forever.
This is a bit in a contrast of me sometimes being like, "I can do better and let me super-mega-ultra-over-achieve-and-burn-out cuz this will fail as it's a wrong choice" lol. Been there. I learned the hard way.
But ideally finishing my studies so I can work in desired field that supports my cognitive toolset. It's going to take a couple of years to figure out what pulls me in after this chaos I made, but once I get it, good luck anything changing my direction.
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2020.07.18 14:38 18Jlulbarium Spies nude totally
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2020.06.11 09:01 criterion_infection Nude totally spies
It’s one of life’s little indignities that the house behind you can see the back of yours. The time between my moving in and meeting my neighbor was long, but I tried not to judge his home from my privileged view, and the deciduous trees in our backyards lessened the psychic tension a little more each summer until a branch from one of his trees grew out to a bough from one of mine, and, just like that, the squirrels had a shortcut to take across our yards.
Like every summer in New England, it was hot and humid. Despite half a lifetime of that moist hell, I still didn’t have an air conditioner. The other house only had one, in the window of an attic that looked small enough to have only one room. One day after I had finished reading for the night, I got up to turn the light off and glanced out one of the windows. This window had a view through a gap in the foliage straight to one of his windows. I couldn't help but notice that his light was also on. Both of our windows were open, and I was a bit grossed out by the intimacy. I turned the light off and, on my way back to bed, noticed that he, too, had turned his lights of within seconds of me.
I have since seen the species of darkness that I first noticed draped behind his window that night on countless occasions, all of which have been mundane. According to Pilate from Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon,” “There’re five or six kinds of black.” She goes on to describe one as “wooly,” but I have named it “under the couch.” It's warm and almost bright, like black felt in direct sunlight. Unlike the smoother, flatter blacks that obfuscate like cool glass, this black veils your vision like a fungal colony, textured, uneven, porous, animate.
When I woke up the next day, I didn’t know what to do. The quotidian tedium of my life had been broken like the boredom of an elementary school math class when someone passes you a note reading, “Do you like me?” Good luck learning to divide fractions after that. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was an intention behind what had transpired, but what could I do? I could knock on his door, but to say what? “Excuse me, sir. You don’t know me, but I live behind you. Could you please leave your lights on until I fall asleep tonight? Your darkness is just a bit too baroque for me.” Was he attempting to communicate? Should I leave something in the window? A candle or two, like he’s Paul Revere? Something tasteful but not too pushy, like a single, yellow rose? Thinking about the absurdity of the whole situation made me feel better, and I eventually steeled my will enough to get out of bed and go about my day. When I returned to my bedroom that night, his light was on, and in a vase on the windowsill was a yellow rose. It was stunningly gorgeous. The tree branches enhaloed the rose in a composition so technically adroit but also soulful that, if it had appeared in a film, the cinematographer would have won all the awards that there are to be won in that field. Then he switched his light off.
The next day, I got up and went straight to the window. I had to see what was going on over there. I couldn’t, though. Only a featureless rectangle of bare wall was framed by his window. Here’s a fun experiment that you can try at home. Look from every window of your house into as many of your neighbors’ windows as you can. You’ll be surprised by how infrequently you have any real sense of what’s in the rooms into which you’re gazing. You can also do this from the street, although I’ve found that my success rate is a bit higher there. This is also a great way to discover new species of black.
The yellow rose was gone, but the halo of tree branches from the night before seemed more like a tunnel, and a sturdy one at that. I’m no civil engineer, but I have crossed bridges that exuded less structural integrity than the leaves and twigs before me. I had to be sure, so I opened the screen and tossed my wallet out the window. It fell right through into my backyard, of course, and I went out to retrieve my wallet before some bird or rodent could steal it.
Later that day, I did the laundry and took it outside to hang it on the clothesline, but there was no sunlight. My whole backyard was totally shaded by the now-solid canopy above. When did that happened? Had it been like that earlier in the day? It must have happened since the last laundry day. To no avail, I tried to recall my most recent memory of sunbeams dancing through the gaps to descend upon my weeds. Nobody says, “Ah, yes. The dandelion by the fence bathed in a shaft of sunlight just last Tuesday.”
I took the laundry inside to put in the dryer. I realized that I could either buy a telescope to spy on my neighbor or move on with my life. Besides, although yellow isn’t the most common color, roses are a common flower, and you only ever buy them as single roses or by the dozen or half-dozen. It’s not like I had thought of exactly seven marigolds. I thought incessantly of seven marigolds for the rest of the day.
Night fell, and there was nothing in my neighbor’s window. His light was off, and under the couch hung there comfortingly. That night, I dreamt that I saw myself as I slept from a vantage point from which I could also see the arboreal tunnel from my house to his. One by one, seven golden tarantulas, which I later identified as Pterinochilus murinus, crawled from his window to mine. No matter how hard I struggled, I couldn’t lift in finger in evasion or defense as they slowly chewed through my window screen to wend their way down to my floor, up to my bed, onto my body. Each of the seven chose a part of me. They didn’t just bite me. They began to eat me. The dream seemed to last for hours as they worked their way deeper and deeper into me, leaving craterous wounds. As they glut themselves, their abdomens distended until, a just after dawn, they had all burst with a quiet, squishy squirt of a liquid that used to be me.
When I woke up, I thought that my bed was still covered it blood. It was just sweat. It was a lot of sweat, even for me, even for July. My mouth was dry, too. I felt like I had been drained. On my way down to the kitchen to drink a pitcher of iced tea, I noticed that a letter had come through the mail slot, but it was far too early for the mailman. I took the letter with me and opened it between gulps. Only my first and last names were on the envelope. Inside was an invitation to a progressive dinner to be held that night on my neighbor’s street. The letter listed the addresses of the homeowners hosting each course. I threw a bathrobe on and went outside with the invitation in one hand and a full glass of iced tea in the other and walked to the next street over. The sun still hadn’t risen. The houses on my street were a century older, whereas those on this street were a decade further in need of a paint job. When I got to my neighbor’s house, I checked the number. It was on the invitation. Dessert was to be served at his house.
I showed up to the hors-d’œuvre house with stuffed mushrooms. The woman who answered the door looked confused. “I’m here for the progressive dinner. This is the appetizer house, right?” She affirmed that it was, and took the mushrooms. No one else was there. She asked me what cologne I was wearing. It was Green Irish Tweed. As I looked for something of hers to compliment, she broke the silence by asking if I had just moved to the street. I told her that I was from the next street over and was just as surprised as her that I had been invited. She let me know that punctuality wasn’t a virtue on her street.
She opened up a bit after trying my dish. Say what you will about me, but I can still stuff a mean mushroom. My eyes eventually settled on a rather grotesque painting on her wall of what I thought was supposed to be a stork’s delivering a baby. It was clearly done by a young child. She told me that one of the families on the street had son who liked to paint, and would occasionally give his artwork to his neighbors.
Families eventually began to trickle into the house. They all asked what I was wearing. Several housewives made the same joke that they wished that they had smelled me before Father’s Day, as if they could afford bottles for their henpecked-looking husbands. The stork painting was apparently new, because they all gushed over its apparent quality and remarked how the son was taking after his father, a supposedly successful artist.
My schadenfreude at listening to their chipped-paint daydreams was delicious, unlike the food, which was as mediocre as the company until a woman who was wearing a dress that pushed more boundaries than an insolent fourth grader—her son, for example—entered. She gave me a hug, but looked disappointed when she retracted, “You smell more like a blade of grass than a man,” she said. She also told me that she was glad that I had accepted her invitation and couldn’t wait for me to see their home at dessert. She called me her backdoor neighbor. Her son just glared at me as he held the cheeseboard that they brought. I’m no stranger to curdled milk, but this was something else: goat, sheep; hard, soft; French, Italian. This board had everything. The accompaniments were just as exquisite, especially the honeycombs. The mother was the life of the party, although I wondered if it was only to distract from her son’s table manners.
When the course ended, we went to the entrée house. In the front hall was an almost wall-sized painting of something. It was a giant, but not a giant human, but also not an animal. It was nude, and wore only a wreath on its head, like a Roman emperor. It was clearly an adult, but retained some baby-like features. I later learned that biologists call this neoteny. Someone saw my surprise and told me, “He was the first prophet to wear the leafen anadem.” The child’s father had painted it. The only painting to which I could compare it is Francisco Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son,” but it was in no way derivative thereof. The composition was technically adroit, but also soulful.
I don’t know how long it was before I smelled the charcoal grill. Had everyone just politely ignored me while I gaped at the painting? I hope so. I heard the boy’s mother announce, “It’s time to play for the queenspiece.” I walked into the parlour and saw the mother crouch down like an obese gargoyle and pour a circle of salt around her son. We all made a circle around him, and he began to read our minds. Whenever someone was eliminated, they took a seat around the edges of the room. After most of the people had been eliminated, he outstretched his arms palms-up, and his mother poured a mound of salt into both hands. Animals, vegetables, and minerals were all within his purview, as were our more abstract thoughts. Finally, only the hors-d’œuvre lady and I remained. Beads of extra-salty sweat ran down the back of the boy’s hands. He opened his mouth, tilted his head back, and his mother poured salt into his mouth. He rotated to face me, then his mother, and said through half a mouthful of salt, “Mom, he thinks you’re a milf.” Everyone laughed. I took a seat in abject embarrassment without looking at him or his mother. After an apparently predetermined allotment of time, the child was unable to read my opponent’s mind, and she was declared the winner.
The mother brought out what I had smelled earlier, a grilled brood comb. Unlike the friendlier honeycomb, these hexagons are where bees mature from eggs to pupae. The cells darken with reuse, and these were now the color of rough jet. Most people think that jet black and pitch black are the same black, but jet and pitch are only distantly related, and jet alone has several subspecies. One cell in particular, the queen cell, had a fingerlike outgrowth to accommodate the increased sized of the future monarch. The winner, as promised, got the queenspiece, but we each got our own, normal slice of the comb. Yes, I ate it. It was pretty good. We Americans are a far too squeamish about insects, but a bit of courage and the right recipe would be enough to change most people’s minds.
The gaiety continued to the last house, dessert. After everyone had made a plate and we had broken off into little groups, the lady of the house made another announcement. I know; how many announcements can one woman make? Her man had just finished his latest painting. We were all invited up to his second-floor studio to witness the unveiling. The room really was as bare as it had looked from my window, and the tunnel to my window seemed even more overgrown than before.
The dessert lady cleared her throat, and we all turned to the sole object in the room, a curtained frame. She threw the curtain off to a cacophony of shrieks. “The eight-legged throne!” someone cried, and I can’t describe it any better than that. This painting was, I hope, derivative of Francis Bacon’s popes, because the alternative is that both painters were inspired by the same phenomenon. The fact that the painting was a self-portrait signifying the death of the painter, the most recent prophet to wear the leafen anadem, eventually dawned on me when someone lamented, “I thought that we had more time.”
“His widow’s upstairs,” said the lady of the house.
“I thought that you were his wife.”
“I’m just their subject,” she said. “We all are.”
I looked to their son, and he nodded. I slurred an excuse as I made my way out of the room and back downstairs. Then I saw them, many more than seven. There were easily seven hundred. I screamed like a little girl as they crawled all over the tables and chairs, all over the cookies, cakes, and ice cream leaving sugar-clawed tracks. I tripped over myself running back to the only unlocked room on the second floor. Everyone was still there, looking through the tunnel to my home, but it wasn’t my home anymore, and it wasn’t I inside, although the resemblance was uncanny. The tunnel wasn’t really the tunnel, either. It was the leafen anadem. The creature in my bedroom was living out one of my more avant-garde fantasies. “So you’re going to be that kind of prophet,” said the milf.
The spiders came into the room, and my only choices were to fight my way out of the house or flee through the tunnel, so I froze. A few spiders crawled onto my shoes and bit the cuffs of my pants. Then they pulled me. They pulled me with their supple little tugs. A spider, even a tarantula, isn’t very strong, but the alien strength of their boneless bodies nauseated me. I followed them out of the room to a staircase, and up the stairs to the door to the one-room attic. The spiders let go of me. “Well?” asked a woman’s voice through the door.
I’m not a good person. I don't want good things to happen to people. I’ve tried to make my life small, though. I keep my interactions with others to a minimum and narrowed my existence to the corridor from my home to a deli and a library. I only concern myself with the most trivial of day-to-day minutiae to shrink my life until the day when it shrinks down to nothing, and we’ll all be better for it.
“No, thank you,” I said. I walked back downstairs without looking into the studio. There were no spiders. I walked home. Over the next few days, I had central air conditioning and a door with no mail slot installed in my house, had all the trees in my backyard cut down, bought a mailbox and the thickest, most opaque curtains that I could find, and nailed them to every window frame in my house.
I’m a bad man and I said no. I’m sure that a worse person said yes. The thing with a woman’s voice always finds someone to say yes. If you think that the eight-legged throne is for you, then just leave your windows open. It’s almost mating season.
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2020.05.23 02:15 Cirkusleader Nude totally spies
So the other day I threw out a Ranking of all the Palaces, and before that one of all the Showtime attacks.
Today I’ll be tackling a ranking of the Phantom Thieves (except for Joker. Because that’s kind of unfair).
As usual, there are spoilers ahead. And this is all just my opinion. It’s cool if you disagree. In fact, if you disagree I’d love to hear your thoughts and reasons!
Anyway, before we begin I’m going to break down what these rankings are based on.
Story - How well are they integrated, and how good is their story.
Confidant - How good is it? Does it flow well?
Codename - Does it fit? Does it sound cool?
Attire - How cool and unique is their costume?
Usefulness - How good are they in combat?
Seems pretty straightforward. So without further ado, let us begin with number 9!
9 - Sumire Yoshizawa
And we’re already going to be controversial! Huzzah!
Look. I know a lot of people love her. But honestly she’s… not all that amazing in my opinion. Time to delve into why!
First off, her story. She is integrated into the story very poorly. She comes up for the odd scene here and there, but she never really does anything of any importance other than drop Kasumi’s pocketbook. But otherwise it REALLY feels like Atlus tried their absolute hardest to just not put her in the game. When she gets her powers she gives a lame excuse as to why she can’t join. Then when she wants to join we’re forced to turn her down with another lame excuse.
Once you get to Maruki’s Palace she becomes the focus… for about 20 minutes. The first like, tenth of the Palace is about her. But once you free her and she joins the Thieves, she unfortunately becomes a sort of background character. She doesn’t really have any motivations beyond “I want to beat Maruki” which is the same motivation everyone has.
I will say, though, that her first awakening is really good. It’s so different from all the other ones because, just like her cognition, it’s all an illusion. So her awakening has this cool illusory effect and the reason for it is basically because people keep telling her she isn’t Kasumi even though she thinks she is.
Now for her Confidant… half of it is worthless. And I mean that literally. Because the first 5 ranks are getting to know Kasumi, not Sumire. When she becomes Sumire again, she literally is the opposite of the first 5 ranks. That means you have half the time to get to know her. And it doesn’t have any real continuity to it. No real flowing, overarching story. It’s sort of just “Hang out with Sumire”. Kinda lame. Sorry.
Now, her Codename is Violet. And I get that “Sumire” in English is Violet but I don’t really see anything Violet about her. Her hair is red. Violets are… er… violet. Her clothes are black. I dunno. It’s just kinda weird. Like, it doesn’t really have anything to do with her. And I don’t feel like a translation is much of a codename.
Now for her attire. It’s cool. BUT… it’s also just fem-Joker. I know that was sort of her original concept. But I don’t really like it. I don’t like that her clothes are just Joker’s clothes but on a woman. Her mask is kinda cool though. And honestly I really like the rapier and rifle. It’s really damn sweet.
Finally; her usefulness in combat. She’s actually pretty solid, but that’s basically only because in the single Palace where she’s available almost every enemy is weak to Bless, which she has. She DOES have a heal ability and high crit though. So even if you’re using her, say, in Mementos or in the challenge battles she’s decent.
Overall; wasted potential. It’s a real shame too because I think if she were actually in this game I could end up liking her.
8 - Makoto Nijima
Hot take pt 2, Nuclear Damage Boogaloo!
Yeah listen. I’m one of the 4 people alive who doesn’t really like Makoto. I know everyone is going to yell at me and downvote this so hard I end up stuck in the chamber of the Holy Grail. But still. This is how I feel.
For story… here’s the thing. Makoto is introduced in a terrible way. As they say, first impressions are hard to erase. And her first impression is incredibly standoffish and rude. And honestly, her like second through fifteenth impressions follow suit. It’s either her being a bitch, or her being really dumb. Then she awakens to her Persona for… no real reason? I’ll get into it more later with other characters, but normally the awakening comes after a powerful realization. So, Ryuji learning that Kamoshida broke his leg on purpose, for fun. Or Ann learning Kamoshida raped Shiho. Makoto… doesn’t learn anything new. Kaneshiro just repeats that he expects to be paid his money. And after she awakens, much like Sumire is for Maruki, she’s not really relevant to the Palace. She doesn’t have some deep, backstory linked reason to take Kaneshiro down. So she just kind of falls in line with the rest of the crew. However, I will admit that she does hold down a pretty necessary place in the group. She essentially is the person forcing the plot forward when others get off track. I don’t really think this adds anything to her character, but I realize that without her it would just be “Ryuji, Ann, Yusuke, and Futaba being meme lords while Morgana and Haru laugh to themselves about who knows what.”
And I think most people agree her confidant is bad. Like 80% of it is Makoto being super nosy and poking into a random NPCs personal life while Joker… is there. Like, Joker’s presence is irrelevant here. And unlike basically everyone else, she doesn’t learn anything. She just ends up being right. Her NPC friend’s boyfriend is just trying to sell her off as a prostitute. We don’t even really know how their friendship plays out after that. It just kind of abruptly ends and is pointless.
Her Codename is Queen. Because… she doesn’t play chess. Or Shogi. Nor is she royalty. Nor does she lead the team. Nor is her attire regal. Like the name has nothing to do with her as a character. So yeah. Pretty not great name.
Her Thief attire is… Okay? It's kind of bland. It's just like a grey leather armor set. I don't dislike it, but I do think it's a little uninspired. Oh. And I do truly hate her mask. It's like… And iron slab. That's all. Like I said, it's really not noteworthy.
And now her usefulness… Makoto is weird because her best build is having her be “just okay” at everything. You can build her to be a physical attacker. And she’ll be decent but never eclipse Ryuji. You can build her as a mage but she’ll never eclipse Ann. You can build her as a healer and she’ll never eclipse Morgana. It's best to just have her with decent magic, decent phys, and decent heals. But then… There's not really a reason to use her over the BETTER phys, magics, and healers.
So yeah. Makoto is… She's there. She is a part of the team.
7 - Haru Okumura
“Who is the real criminal here, in this building? Haru Okumura!”
I doubt this one will be as controversial. Unfortunately Haru got the short end when it comes to this game. Her presence (or lack thereof) isn't as bad as Sumire but it's pretty minimal.
So Haru is unfortunately barely involved in her own arc. She is overshadowed by Morgana until he rejoins. She then gets her time to shine when she awakens and then… That's it. That's all she does. It REALLY hurts honestly because I do like Haru. But she got screwed because they gave Morgana an arc here that I don't think he needed. Her awakening scene is really good though. But I’ll be ranking those another day.
Her confidant line is awesome though. Going with Haru and trying to guide her as she stumbles through running the company her father left behind is excellent. You really get a down to Earth view of her larger than life character as she struggles with real emotions. She deals with feeling she can't trust anyone while she tries to pick up the broken fragments of her life by befriending Joker. It's so good. Seriously. I love this confidant. Also vegetables.
Her codename is Noir, which means Black in French. And it’s to remind her that the Phantom Thieves are not necessarily morally good people. It’s interesting, and I think it fits the very French style of her attire. I like it, but I wish she had something more suiting. Though it IS better than Beauty Thief.
Haru’s thief clothes are also cool. They’re one of the only sets that isn't mostly black. Sure she has some black parts, but also some pink and white. And with most of the others having drab, black clothes it really stands apart. Plus her hat is absolutely awesome and looks fantastic. Her mask is cool too. It's the only one that doesn't seem kinda outlandish. And the whole ensemble fits the motif of the femme fatale.
And Haru is pretty useful, but not overly so. I mean, her magic and physical skills are just okay. But she has the two damage reflect skills which are awesome. Really helpful in a pinch. And her gun is great for tech attacks.
6 - Morgana
Now I don’t want anyone to think I dislike Morgana. Because I love my boy. But I do think he gets outshined by everyone else.
In the story, he is essentially the main driving force of the Thieves (and not just because he’s a car). Without Morgana the Thieves wouldn’t have started, and you’d have no idea how to do anything. Plus, he’s always there to provide his take on situations, and assist.
Well, except for one part. The main part that drags him down.
The Okumura arc and Morgana have been discussed into the ground. But if you want my brief take; I think he is definitely in the wrong in the argument, and I don’t really think he grows as a character. It’s more like he shrinks as a character then reverts back to normal.
Now, Morgana doesn’t really have a confidant line. He ranks up automatically. But honestly I don’t mind. Joker spends more time with Morgana than literally everyone else. So I think you get the equivalent feel from just always having him around.
Gods above I hate Morgana’s codename. Because it isn’t a codename. It’s a shortening of Morgana. That would be like someone named Robert going “So my codename is Rob”. Like… that’s not a codename. That isn’t how codenames work. DAMMIT RYUJI WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE PICKED SOMETHING BETTER?! ...Ah well. This one sucks. Let’s move on.
His thief attire is great too. I kinda wish his head wasn’t so… bobble-heady. But I get that Japanese games tend to do that kind of thing. I do like how it’s essentially a fuzzy onesie with a hood though.
As for his use, remember how earlier I said speccing Makoto as a healer doesn’t eclipse Morgana? That’s still true… BUT… honestly Morgana isn’t that much better. Because healing isn’t related to stats. It’s more related to the abilities they get. And the only thing Morgana gets over Makoto is resurrection spells. Plus he’s super squishy. He has like 200 HP at level 99 which is basically nothing. If he gets hit by a lightning attack it’s basically over. And because his confidant is automatic, you don’t get a lot of his good abilities until later in the game.
Sorry, kitty. I still love you. But you ARE kinda useless…
5 - Yusuke Kitagawa
“A breathtaking sight!”
I love my boy Yusuke. It helps that he’s voiced by Matt Mercer, and that one of his battle lines is “How do you want to do this?” But honestly, Yusuke is one of my favorite characters.
Let’s start off as usual. Yusuke is first introduced as a sort of antagonist… well, it actually may be more accurate to say that WE are the antagonists. Yusuke really just wants to be left alone to make art at first and the Thieves kind of push themselves onto him. It’s a really interesting way to show how some people feel about the Thieves’ ideals. Basically, he doesn’t want to be saved but we want to save him. And while he’s a bit quirky, he is the best part of this arc. And his awakening is sick. as. fuck. Unfortunately though, I do think he falls off after his arc here. He quickly becomes “the guy who is there to just be quirky and weird”. And while that’s okay, I feel like he doesn’t really DO anything after Madarame’s arc wraps up.
I absolutely love his confidant line. Essentially Yusuke is in a slump. He can’t make any art because he feels his heart is clouded. So Joker begins going around with him to try to help him out. Some of the scenes are actually hilarious, like the boat scene, and the church scene. And some are very touching. The main events, too, are fantastic. The part where he presents his painting “Desire” and all the art snobs talk about how bad it is (which I don’t get at all. I think it’s a phenomenal painting) is great because it shows a different, more pessimistic side of Yusuke. Then at the end he takes that very same painting and makes a change to it, then renames it “Desire and Hope” (and it’s still awesome) and everyone praises it because he’s realized that his friends are his “hope” which will keep him from giving into his desires and becoming distorted. This shit is great. I love it. Probably one of my favorite confidant lines.
Obviously Fox works for Yusuke. Because his mask is a fox. It’s pretty self explanatory. It’s not amazing. It’s not bad. It just fits.
And Yusuke’s Thief Attire is awesome. It’s like a leather jacket with a massive collar. And his mask is fantastic. The only thing I don’t really like about his costume is the tail. Not because of how the tail looks, but because of its placement. It’s like… weirdly along his leg instead of in the center of his back. It’s just kind of off-center and it bothers me. But that’s just a bit of a nitpick. Otherwise I love his costume. In fact I think it’s my third favorite behind Akechi and… uh… Akechi. Eh. We’ll get to that later.
Now for his combat ability. By all rights Yusuke shouldn’t be that great. I mean, Ryuji does far more physical damage than him, and Ann does a lot more magic damage. He also doesn’t have any amazing buff or debuff skills. HOWEVER… this man crits more than a weighted 20-sided die. This could just be my own personal experience, but I swear every third physical attack from Yusuke is a crit. It’s bananas. So he’s great, if a bit unreliable, for setting up big Baton Pass damage.
So yeah. I love Yusuke. I just wish he was more important in the story after his recruitment, and a little better in combat.
4 - Ryuji Sakamoto
Ryuji gets my fourth spot. I love this boy. But he has one major thing holding him back.
His confidant is ass. But we’ll get to that.
We need to first start this properly. Ryuji is one of the main focuses of this story. I know a lot of people say he stops being relevant after Kamoshida but that’s… just… false? Like. Factually incorrect. I mean, just because his “arc” is done doesn’t mean he isn’t relevant to the plot anymore. He’s more relevant than anyone I have listed before him on this list.
I mean, let’s look at this factually. Ryuji is the primary force pushing to change Madarame’s heart. This isn’t really about Yusuke. But more about how he wants to take down evil people. Without Ryuji, we give up on Madarame when Yusuke decides to kick us out.
Without Ryuji, Makoto gets sold as a sex slave. Ryuji throws himself INTO TRAFFIC to save her. None of the rest of us were going to.
Without Ryuji, Haru’s fiance drags her off and we never help her or recruit her. Because Ryuji is the only one who stands up to him. Well… except for Morgana. But he gets kicked into a brick wall because he’s a cat.
Anyways, let’s talk about him in Kamoshida’s arc. I actually think this is where he’s the weakest. Because this arc is more about Ann than him. We establish that Ryuji wants to stop Kamoshida, and is upset that Kamoshida broke his leg. But that isn’t really his reasoning behind fighting Kamoshida. He wants to take him down for the same reason he wants to take down every Palace ruler. He hates people lording their power over others. I actually like that Ryuji doesn’t really change as a character either, because he is the most pure hearted boy in this game. He doesn’t need to change.
Anyway. His confidant sucks unfortunately. It’s not quite as bad as Makoto, but like hers, Joker isn’t really needed here. This whole thing is basically Ryuji dealing with the track team, who hates him. He does come to the realization that sometimes he needs to accept a loss so other people can feel better, and that he doesn’t need to be liked by everyone so long as his friends like him. It’s nice. But like I said, the storyline is sloppy and Joker being there doesn’t matter for like 90% of it.
Now Skull makes sense. Because his mask… is a skull. And his persona is a Pirate, which are famous for skull imagery. So uh. Ya’know. It works,
I love Ryuji’s Thief garb. It’s cool as shit. A leather jacket, necktie, his awesome mask, and the badass metal spikes on his back are sweet. My only complaint is the complaint I have with a lot of these. It’s… it’s just black. Like, I wish there was more coloration for these costumes. Most of them are like 95% black.
Finally, Ryuji is awesome in combat. He’s definitely the strongest as far as physical damage, he gets Charge to make his physical STRONGER, he has a ton of HP, and he has a full party attack up. As well as some decent lightning damage to hit weaknesses and baton pass but well...everyone has that. Even so, this dude is a heavy hitting tank. He does crazy damage with physical attacks. And he never leaves my team once he’s on… in fact, that’s the case with everyone on the team from here up.
So yeah. I love my son. Stop bullying Ryuji.
3 - Futaba Sakura
Little sister gremlin gets the third spot and I love her. Futaba is one of my favorite characters in the game in general.
Firstly, her story is absolutely incredible. I think she has the most relation to her Arc because… well it's ABOUT her. Normally the arcs are about two or three people. For example, Madarame and Yusuke share and arc. Kamoshida, Ann, and Ryuji share an arc. But here this is 100% about Futaba. And I really like how it works. A girl whose mom was involved with dangerous people has her mind shut down while she’s walking with her young daughter. She collapses into the street and dies, and the daughter blames herself and shuts herself away from the world. It hurt the old heart. And even after she joins, Futaba maintains an important role. She fills the role of an informant. We need some info? Futaba’s on it. We need to get into a database? Futaba. We need to rig casino games? Futaba.
Her confidant line is also great. She’s spent years locked away and we need to help her break out of her shell by doing more and more difficult tasks. And it ends in the same location it begins, but with a totally different feeling. It’s a lot like Yusuke’s where he has a painting everyone hates, then one everyone loves. Futaba starts in Akihabara and is terrified of the crowds around her. But at the end she goes to Akihabara and spends hours there, completely on her own, because she was “having fun”. It’s awesome. The only thing I don’t like is the bit with Kana. There’s a part where, for whatever reason, she spies on a grade-school friend whose parents basically forced her into porn modeling. It’s weird, unnecessary, and barely related to the overall “plot” of her confidant.
Now as I said, Futaba plays the informant role. So Oracle works very well. It’s great too because it’s the only name besides Joker that isn’t super on the nose. Until this point we have Skull, Fox, and Panther, who are just named after their Masks, Queen whose name makes no sense, and Mona which is… just his name. Oracle is basically a metaphor for how she guides the party by examining their surroundings and working to guide them. It’s sweet.
Now, I really like her outfit. I think the cool tron looking stuff is great. It’s mostly black with these cool green lines that are fantastic. However… I hate her “mask”. Don’t get me wrong, I think the goggles fit her character. But they just looks do dumb. Like, they make her look like a frog. It kinda sucks.
And Futaba in combat is kind of weird. Because she doesn’t actually fight. Instead she offers party buffs or enemy debuffs as fights go on. She can do things like increase your attack, decrease enemy attack, heal you, give you SP, and more. She gets even more abilities in Royal which are amazing. Futaba plays a small but critical role here that can’t be filled by anyone else (Literally. Morgana tries for the first half of the game).
So Futaba is fantastic. The only things holding her back are her mask, and Kana.
2 - Ann Takamaki
“This beautiful rose has thorns!”
So this probably isn’t surprising since she’s my #2 spot on this list, but Ann is my, as the kids say, “Best girl”. She’s great. Honestly behind my #1 on this list I think she’s just outright the best character.
Time to delve in to why!
First, as I said before, the story of Kamoshida’s arc is very much about her. She is the person who has lost the most to him, and he is actively blackmailing and pressuring her the entire arc. Then, when her best friend tries to kill herself because Kamoshida is a dickhead, she goes into full on revenge mode. But she spares Kamoshida in the end. Not because she’d feel badly about killing him, but because she feels he needs to repent.
The rest of the game is spent with Ann being the kindest member of the team. However we still see that emotional volatility we saw with Kamoshida. For example, she is the person who fights to help Yusuke. Nobody else really seems to care about Yusuke one way or the other. But Ann wants to take down Madarame to help him. Even after the whole nude modeling fiasco. But when Madarame tricks them and reveals that he “killed” Yusuke’s mom, Ann gets PISSED. It’s clear she cares for other people to such an extent that seeing them being treated unfairly makes her angry. Heck, she’s the one who is pushing against Makoto the hardest at the beginning, but when Makoto gets in trouble, Ann is the first one to run after her, and then the first to befriend her and apologize. This continues for the rest of the game. Ann is fucking great. She’s seriously like the most emotional party member in the best way.
We see this more in her confidant, which I think is one of the best ones. It builds off of Kamoshida’s arc, with Shiho in the hospital. Ann is struggling because she wants to show Shiho that she has a “Strong heart” in order to inspire Shiho to get better. But she doesn’t really know how to go about this and asks Joker for help. After a run in with Mika (whose heart I am still upset we did not get to change) Ann decides she wants to be the #1 model around by trying her absolute hardest.
The rest of her confidant revolves around this. She wants to be the absolute best to inspire Shiho. At the end, she succeeds and Shiho not only recovers, but loves life again, all because of Ann.
Then, in her final rank, Ann decides that she wants to keep this drive to be the best. Not for Shiho or herself, but for anyone else who is downtrodden so she can show them that determination can get you anywhere. It’s so damn good.
Now, her Codename. Panther. Because her mask… is a cat mask. And her costume has a tail. That’s it. I dunno. It fits.
Now, I love her costume but not for the reasons you may expect. It is the ONLY costume where the primary color ISN’T. BLACK. There is NO black on her costume. And I also love the color scheme aside from that. The red looks fantastic, and the pink on her gloves is a good compliment. And honestly, I think her mask looks fantastic. It’s one of the best ones.
And finally, her combat skills. She was good in P5, but she is INCREDIBLE in P5R.
First, she is the highest magic damage dealer with a Severe multi-target attack, both fire boost and amp, and like, 85 magic at level 99. If you wanted you could throw on a charm or guard to bump that to 99.
She also gets concentrate so it’s even more ridiculous. And a FULL PARTY variant with her Tier 3 Persona.
She has sleep moves, which are the best for setting up technicals, meaning better baton passes
And she can heal if necessary.
Ann can literally destroy (everything). In my recent playthrough on hard she took out all of Yaldy’s arms during the ominous light converging phase (except the one immune to fire) in a single hit. It’s actually insane.
There is no reason not to use her. In fact, I’d argue she’s the single best party member for combat and honestly, it’s not even close.
Ann is amazing, and I wish more people realized that instead of going “LOL FANSERVICE CHARACTER”
1 - Goro Akechi
“That one got betrayed by its teammate! I wonder how THAT feels!”
Now, let me discuss the thing everyone is going to yell about. I know this is a list ranking the Thieves and he never officially joins but like… come on. He’s on the team for two full Palaces, and both of those Palaces heavily feature him. So I’m counting him. And I know people hate him. But he belongs in the #1 spot. Just follow me on this.
Firstly, the story is more about him than any character. Every single thing that happens up until Shido’s Palace begins involves Akechi. While the Thieves are slowly changing the cognition of the world to make life better, he’s off killing people like Wakaba, Okumura, and all of Shido’s political rivals. He’s involved with the Shujin Principal, who he kills. He was messing around in Madarame’s Palace, as well as Kaneshiros. He killed Futaba’s mom and set up the fake Medjed. He killed Okumura. He set the group up so he can kill Joker. This entire game is as much about him as it is Joker. Hell, Yaldy even selected him to be the anti-Joker. And in the final Palace, he’s got the most riding on it. He wants to beat Maruki KNOWING he’ll die because he doesn’t want others dictating his future.
Then we have his confidant in P5R it is AMAZING. Now, it is just a bunch of random hangouts. However what we see is him slowly coming to be friends with Joker. He sees Joker as a sort of friendly rival. Someone who can actually challenge him. But once Akechi learns that Joker is actually one of the Phantom Thieves he feels betrayed. He realizes the “friend” he made is actually his enemy, and someone he needs to kill. He grows a hate for Joker because his first and only friend turned out to be an enemy. It’s just insane. I love it.
Now his codename, Crow. It’s great because, at first, he says that it’s to disguise his true identity, but in actuality it’s to show his real identity underneath his disguise. Also, Crows are often called a “Murder” and well… you know what kind of person Akechi is.
His attire is also awesome. BOTH of them. I love his first one because it has an almost 1800’s military feel to it. It’s basically a white officer’s uniform with a badass red cape. I’m not the biggest fan of the mask here but I don’t dislike it.
His SECOND outfit, however… It’s so damn good. I don’t even care. He looks like fucking Darth Vader mixed with Spawn. It’s so cool. And the mask is amazing. It’s a black helmet that looks outright demonic. This shit is amazing.
Now for his use as a teammate.
In Sae’s Palace he’s insane. He has almighty attacks, as well as both curse and bless in the forms of normal attacks and insta-kills. And we know insta-kills are B U S T E D.
Then in Maruki’s Palace… holy hell.
So this is my experience and I’ve seen a lot of people disagree. But I’ve had him out damage Ryuji with physical attacks WITHOUT using charge. Laevetain and Riot Gun absolutely obliterate shit. And his ultimate power from his tier 3 is busted. It’s a colossal Almighty attack and it does SO. MUCH. DAMAGE.
Plus he has Debilitate which is just so good.
God. Akechi is amazing. He’s such a good anti-Hero and, I’d argue, probably the best character in the game. Though not necessarily the best *person* (That’s Ann. Fight me if you really want to).
Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed this, and have been enjoying these rankings. I’ve been having fun writing them and I like hearing you guys’ opinions. So throw your thoughts down below! I’d love to hear from you!
As for what comes next… I was thinking either Bosses, Awakenings, or Teammate Personas. What would you want to see? And do you guys have any ideas?
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2020.05.13 04:45 enfu3g0 Normal People Episode 6 Deep Dive: Connell Had One Job
Warning: Spoilers galore.
My other Normal People the Series Episode deep dives: Episode 5 Episode 11
I’m still thinking about Normal People. Not just the series now, but even the novel. I’m starting to forget to use quotation marks in my regular writing. It’s getting bad. So here we are back with another few thousand words on another episode of Normal People the Series to distract me.
Episode 6 is a series landmark. This signals the end of the first “block” that was shot, and the final episode with Executive Producer and Academy Award-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson at the helm. It signals the end of the early years of Connell and Marianne, before taking them from kisses and sunshine and putting them both in much darker places in the second half of the series. This is the last time we see them “together” (as Marianne defines it in this episode) until the series finale. Uniquely for the series, this episode is told in flashback. It revolves around a single story beat – what the fuck happened? How did we go from “it’s not like this with other people” at the end of Episode 5 to Marianne sobbing, alone in her kitchen, over a broken glass?
Character-wise, we’re given longer glimpses into the inner demons of both Connell and Marianne; the demons that are going to batter them and their relationship for the next five episodes. We’re also given more time with some of the supporting cast that will be part of the narrative for the next two episodes. Let’s get started.
We open with Marianne sobbing, alone in her kitchen, over a broken glass. Smash cut to a “six weeks earlier” chyron. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Too Much” cranks up, and we get Marianne back in the same location, same position. Smiling this time, with a much brighter frame, wearing a different top. Love the transition, Lenny. Marianne says “stay“. Connell is spending most nights at Marianne’s place. He says he has to go back to the room he rents with Niall to grab stuff. Marianne hasn’t met Niall yet, but likes him. Marianne: “Is he your best friend, do you think?” This is foreplay. She means “if you stay you can fuck me“. Connell can’t resist and takes the bait. “No. You are.” He gets up and closes the distance. Carly’s voice swells as they snog. “That I’m wild for your skin and the dance that we’re in. So close now, so close now.” Connell picks Marianne up and plants her ass on the counter. Carly keeps going. “It takes me higher, feel the love.” Connell takes his shirt off. “I’m not afraid to know my heart’s desire.” He strips Marianne’s top off. No bra. Natural light is streaming in behind her. They’re in the face-to-face position, and we all know what’s coming. “When I party then I party too much.” Smash cut to black title screen, silence. “Normal People” That’s just fucking ominous. Using a CRJ party song to foreshadow bad stuff is brilliant and a crime at the same time. The first time I saw this I was expecting a full-blown kitchen counter sex scene set to “Too Much”. The shot looked and sounded amazing. Then it’s taken away. Tremendous opening sequence. Give Lenny the Emmy. Full disclosure: I love Carly Rae Jepsen. Sue me.
Niall is giving Connell grief about spending every night at Marianne’s place. Niall: “Is she your girlfriend yet?” “No.” “What are you playing at? Are you keeping her on her toes?” “Course not.” “She’s too good for ya.” “Yes, I’m aware.” I love this callback to Lorraine in Episode 3. “And you don’t think maybe you should have asked her? Seeing as how you fuck her every day after school?” Again. “Normal People.” Leave it to Lorraine to be our barometer of what normal behavior should be. Can we hear her yelling at Connell right now? “What exactly is the arrangement? You go over to Marianne’s house, you have sex with her, and you don’t ask her to be your girlfriend? Is that it? xxx You’re fucking her! You’re fucking her, and you won’t even touch her in public! What are you afraid of?” I’m convinced that’s what Lorraine would yell at Connell. Leave me to my fanfic. Of course next scene is Connell talking to… Lorraine. And yes, she’s berating Connell again for not thanking Marianne for the lead on the job he got through Sophie. “(Marianne) has been very good to you, you know.” “Right.” “I just hope you’re a bit more appreciative of her now.” “Yep.” “Well?” “Look, apologies have been made, okay? If Marianne isn’t dwelling on it, I don’t see why you are.” Oh Connell, you idiot. Then we get a very condensed version, barely a stinger, of a conversation they have much later in the novel. “How would you feel if I kept going at ya about some stupid teenage mistake that you made?” Lorraine: “Sweetheart, you are the stupid teenage mistake I made.” Sarah Greene gets the best lines.
We get a short scene where Marianne is telling Peggy and Joanna that she has to go home for two days. “It’s just a boring dinner, and a weekend being a dutiful daughter.” Is Marianne lying to them, or herself? Joanna suggests she go see friends. Marianne says that she has no friends back home. Cut to the next conversation. Peggy is quizzing Marianne and Connell. “You guys are fucking, right? You’re together.” Marianne. “Yes, we are.” Peggy: “Everyone’s speculating, even though you never actually touch each other.” Marianne: “It’s not a new thing. We used to hook up in school. Secretly.” To Connell: “I hope you don’t mind me saying that now.” Callback to Episode 5, when Connell asks Marianne if her Trinity friends knew about their history. Marianne: “Yeah. [I would be embarrassed if they found out.] Because it was humiliating.” Now she’s volunteering that information to Peggy. Fine, she’s supposed to be her best friend. But the only person who had any inkling of their history was Joanna, not Peggy. (In the novel, Connell is thinking here about his never talking about being together with Marianne. She’s very popular and a lot of men want her, so he derives social standing from being with her.) Peggy: “You make a very cute couple.” Connell: “Thanks.” Marianne, raised eyebrows. “Couple.” Peggy, fast on the uptake when it comes to sordid affairs: “You’re not exclusive? That’s cool.” Marianne: “Men can be possessive. Men seem more concerned with limiting the freedoms of women than in excising their own.” It’s like she’s predicting the next two years of her life, our girl Marianne.
She’s defined being together with Connell as they’re fucking, and have been fucking a while, but they’re not exclusive, no emotions involved. Connell is a passive bystander and says nothing. (In the novel, there’s a few lines of discussion here about male privilege. Connell then zones out of the discussion. He thinks Peggy is an airhead.) The conversation then veers into male privilege meaning all men are interested in having sex with multiple women. Peggy asks Connell if he’s into that. Connell says “not really“. Peggy says that he can have her and Marianne in a threesome. (That’s not a no, because Connell is thinking that he could fuck Peggy in front of Marianne, but he could never fuck Marianne in front of anyone else. It’s the same part of his brain that prevents public displays of affection with her.) Connell sputters. Marianne saves him by saying she couldn’t because she’s too self conscious. Peggy asks what she’s self-conscious about since she’s “so pretty“. Marianne again predicts her future when she says “I have a coldness about me“. Peggy and Connell say that isn’t true, and Peggy says she just needs to be more in touch with her feelings. Peggy leaves.
Marianne comes back, lays down with her head in Connell’s lap, and she says that she would have done the threesome with Peggy if Connell wanted her to. Connell: “You shouldn’t do what you don’t want to do.” “Had you wanted to, I’d have enjoyed you wanting to. I like doing things for you.” “You can’t do things you don’t want or don’t enjoy just to make me happy.” “But I like making you happy.” Marianne closes her eyes, a contented look on her face. Connell looks like he’s thinking, suddenly rubs his eyes and bolts up from the couch. Marianne asks him what’s wrong. He says he doesn’t know, he felt weird. (There’s that word.) This is perhaps one of the most difficult scenes to interpret without the help of the novel (or the show script). Fortunately, we have that. Connell thinks about hitting Marianne, and that she would let him. The thought makes him physically recoil. That’s why he stands up and walks away from her suddenly. Novel text: “He has a terrible sense all of a sudden that he could hit her face, very hard even, and she would just sit there and let him. The idea frightens him so badly that he pulls his chair back and stands up. His hands are shaking. He doesn’t know why he thought about it. Maybe he wants to do it. But it makes him feel sick.”
Connell wakes up the next morning. He’s naked in bed with Marianne. He wakes her up, and tries to explain what he felt. Marianne snogs him before he can start. He pulls back and says “You know I really love you don’t you.” He goes back to kissing her, then starts to fuck her with his hand. He slides over into missionary to fuck her with his cock, and they both finish. Marianne: “I think I was starting to have feelings for you there at one point.” The both laugh. Connell: “Should have to repress all that stuff Marianne. That’s what I do anyway.” They’re both complicit in keeping this a FWB situation. The novel clarifies that their relationship at this point is pretty domesticated. Marianne cooks, Connell cleans up, they get on social media, and then they have sex. After sex, they talk about intellectually stimulating things (reinforcing that they’re both high IQ, questionable EQ people), and then they have more sex. The sex is so intense that sometimes they feel they have a romantic connection (whatever that means). That’s what Marianne is referring to in the preceding quote, and Connell feels it to, but they don’t talk about that. Anything but that. As voyeurs into their lives, it’s frustrating, by Sally Rooney’s design.
Next scene, Connell asks Marianne to send him naked pictures, which she agrees to happily. (“I like doing things for you.“) He assures her that he’ll delete them, explaining that it’s for her reassurance. She asks him to send her dick pics, but he probably shouldn’t, saying that she’ll never delete them. This leads into sex again. More reinforcement of Connell’s hold over Marianne, and foreshadowing of her trials in the future.
Connell is laid off for two months, igniting a major plot point. Our avatar, Niall, is telling Connell that he’ll sublet the bed since he can't make rent. When Connell says he’d rather go home to Sligo for the summer than ask to crash at Marianne’s, Niall says what all of us want to: “You can’t be fucking serious. You already stay with her five nights a week.” “That’s different, I don’t live with her.” “You think if you move your toothbrush into her bathroom, she’ll get too attached?” “I don’t think that at all, I just wouldn’t want to ask her.” Niall, you, me and everyone else watching Connell drive himself into a wall. “Fuck’s sake, man.” Niall gives up, maybe too easily. How many of us in Niall’s spot would have gone to Marianne and told her his situation, even if Connell disowned us as his friend? I know I would.
A few people say that this is totally unrealistic. It’s one of the very few plot points of Normal People, a device to break up Connell and Marianne for the second time and send them to experience life separately before bringing them back together for the ending. My take is that Rooney goes out of her way to present Connell and Marianne as characters with outsized flaws. One of Connell’s is anxiety over the social gulf between him and Marianne. From the time Rob quizzes him on Lorraine working for Denise in Episode 2, to Marianne’s surpassing him in social standing at Trinity in Episode 4, his bunking in a shoebox with Niall while Marianne lives in a posh apartment with dinner parties every day, having to hold down a job while at Trinity while Marianne’s friends (and all the men pursuing her like Gareth and Jamie) are all rich kids, it snowballs over time. We haven’t even gotten to the Italian villa yet. He has a massive inferiority complex. Does this justify his decision here? That’s up to the viewer. I choose to accept that Connell has the EQ of a doorknob, and suspend my disbelief. I’m just as pissed at Niall for not seeking out Marianne and outing his sorry ass, but that would ruin the plot mechanism. Finally, I’m not letting Marianne off the hook. She’s blissfully unaware of Connell’s neurosis over financial standing at this point, her being the total opposite – she has no concept of the value of money, having never had to pay for anything herself in her life. She’s incapable of reassuring Connell. Now I’m even more pissed at Niall, who’s the only one who could have intervened.
Off to Marianne’s home in Sligo. Her relatives are complimenting her performance at Trinity and reminiscing about their own experiences. The relatives are ignorant of the relationship issues present, particularly between Alan and Marianne. Alan gets compliments as well on his job performance. Mentions of their father clearly triggering Alan. Marianne does the dishes, and Alan comes in to make small talk. Marianne’s expression says nothing good can come of this interaction with Alan. Long shot by Lenny, to convey how alone Marianne is while being accosted by Alan. She gives him lip and he douses her with dishwater. Denise witnesses this, and just walks away.
That evening, we get a scene of Marianne taking a nude selfie to send to Connell. She’s crying, still shaken up by the events of the day. It’s also the only full frontal nude scene of Daisy Edgar-Jones in the show. I’ve been asked what the point of this scene was, given that they were explicitly avoiding gratuitous nudity. I don’t know the actual answer, but this is probably the most vulnerable that Marianne has been so far in the series. She’s back home where she has no friends, her brother just abused her, and her mother doesn’t care. She remembers her last interaction with Connell (at least the last one we saw) and reaches out to him in this way. It’s her nature to do things for other people before taking care of herself. She’s stripped naked now, both physically and emotionally, and she’s sending the memory of this moment to Connell, perhaps as a cry for help. Was the full frontal necessary? Maybe not, but it’s a memorable scene that has not insignificant emotional impact. If you weren’t sure if Marianne was broken, this is further evidence that she is. (For those scoring at home: series count male full frontal 3, female 1.)
Speaking of Marianne being abused, the next scene is her speaking to Denise before returning to Trinity. The exchange is sad and heartbreaking, Denise justifying to her daughter that life is hard for Alan, and that she’s got it easy because she can get away to Dublin and leave Sligo behind. Actress Aislin MacGuckin is excellent as Denise, and probably deserved more screen time. But this isn’t her story. Denise: “It is very difficult for [Alan], Marianne.” “And that’s my fault?” “That’s not what I’m saying.” “You act like it is.” “That’s not how I feel.” “Why are you living life like that, with him dictating everything? Does it make you happy?” “None of this makes me happy.” “Then why are you allowing it to be like this?” “What do you think I should do? Kick him out? How do you think I should handle this exactly? I’d love to have your insight. Because I’m doing the best I can.” No tears at all from Marianne. Heartbreaking, and shows how lucky Connell is with Lorraine.
Marianne is back in Dublin, in bed with Connell. They’re watching a movie. Marianne is sobbing. Connell asks if it’s because the movie got her. She says she’s feeling off. Connell asks jokingly if she’s pregnant. Callback to his dialogue with Lorraine. Marianne says she just got her period. She asks him to get her some tea. They think of having sex, but don’t. It’s kind of a throwaway scene here, but in the novel it’s a connection to Lorraine having Connell out of wedlock. The movie they watched is the 1964 Jacques Demy classic The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a movie about young lovers. (I won’t spoil it but can highly recommend it if you enjoy unique films about young love.) In the movie, the character Genevieve, played by Catherine Deneuve, is pregnant. So Connell and Marianne talk about what they would do if Connell got her pregnant. What their families would think of that if Marianne decides to keep the baby. It segues into talking about Marianne’s trip home, but she doesn’t tell him about Alan and Denise’s treatment of her. They start kissing, and Connell makes Marianne come with his hand. Marianne says “Imagine how bitter I’m going to be when you meet someone else and fall in love.” Connell replies “I don’t know. This is a pretty good arrangement, from my point of view.” He then notes, internally, that it is within his power to make her happy. There is a lot lost from the adaptation of this scene to screen.
We get a Connell and Marianne montage, including a shot of Connell’s first publisher rejection, which feeds into his burgeoning anxiety. Niall again asks him about moving in with Marianne. Connell cannot express what it is that’s stopping him. We cut to Joanna eviscerating Jamie and his straight white male privilege. All the while Jamie is being handsy with Marianne. Connell makes himself scarce. Marianne finds him on the porch, smoking a fag. He complains about men taking liberties touching her. Marianne: “You don’t want to touch me, but you get to dictate who else does.” “I touch ya.” “As long as there’s about six closed doors between us and another person who might witness you demonstrating some level of affection towards me.” “Grand.” Oy, Connell. “I think I’m gonna go.” Marianne: “Don’t.” “We’re fine.” “Please don’t go.” He stays, but doesn’t ask her. Niall, you, me, and everyone watching: “You have to be fucking kidding me.”
Next day, they’re getting ready to go to Sophie’s pool party. Marianne: “Do you want to skip it?” “You can’t” “Why?” “It’s just a birthday party, Sophie won’t mind.” Connell looks down. Marianne: “You can’t be indebted to someone forever ’cause they get you a job in a crappy restaurant.” “Who said I was indebted to her?” Connell is obviously triggered. Marianne is oblivious. “When you’re a famous writer you won’t be indebted to anyone. You’ll be lording it over the rest of us.” Connell conjures the rejection letter in his head. Mescal projects deep angst. He’s poor, and he’s a crappy rejected writer, so he’ll stay poor.
They’re off to the party with the wealthy friends of Marianne. He gets pulled by Sophie into a pool polo game while Marianne sits on the sidelines. Jamie sits beside her and asks her if she’s right for Connell. We don't see a response. Focus on Mescal’s face. Connell’s anxiety swells as he’s surrounded by the trappings of excess that he’ll never be able to afford. He spies Marianne, swims over to her, sits beside her and manages the Herculean effort of putting his arm around her and kissing her shoulder in view of Marianne’s friends. She appreciates his effort. Connell: “Marianne?” “Yeah?” “It’s nothing.” Connell gets choked up. Marianne completely misses it. Niall, you, me, and everyone watching: “You have to be fucking kidding me.”
Cut back to the scene from the beginning of the episode. Marianne in the kitchen. We hear a door slam. Marianne goes to the sink, drops the glass, and starts sobbing. We see Connell walking away from Marianne’s flat. Cue end credits. Niall, you, me, and everyone watching: “You have to be fucking kidding me.” xxx
Episode music: “Too Much” by Carly Rae Jepsen (pre-title scene)
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Written by Sally Rooney and Alice Birch, Director of Photography Suzy Lavelle, Editing by Nathan Nugent, Score by Stephen Rennicks, Production Design by Lucy van Lonkhuyzen, Costumes by Lorna Marie Mugan xxx
If you made it this far, I’m sorry for the walls of text. I’m writing all of this to try and get Normal People out of my head. I’m beginning to think this was all a bad idea. xoxox
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2020.05.06 07:53 m00nf1r3 Spies totally nude
He quit smoking weed a couple weeks ago and has been kinda manic since then. Nothing insane, just not sleeping much and being very productive all day. Lots of desire to make self improvements in a very short amount of time. His high energy turned into what I would describe as being hypomanic. Then the last 48-72 hours have been paranoia and scattered brain. Regular paranoia turned into slightly scary paranoia last night but a lorazepam brought him down. Then tonight he absolutely broke. Complete paranoia, delusions. Not making any sense when he talked. Big crazy eyes. Accusing me of setting up a camera in the bedroom so his friends could spy on him to make sure his foot didn't hurt. Walking around in varying states of dress from completely nude to fully clothed. It was terrifying. I called 911 and what I was hoping would be a peaceful takeaway turned into a total nightmare. He hugged me close, nearly in tears with fear that the police would shoot him and he needed assurance that I loved him and would marry him. Then he turned to the cops and got in their faces, telling them to shoot him. They ended up having to take him to the ground because he was literally pushing them chest to chest. He landed sideways on a step, barefoot, face in the bottom of a bush. Took everything for me to not run over to make sure he was okay. He kept yelling that he loved me. He kept referring to the cops as his real life friends names. He actually thought these people were friends of his, come to arrest him. He was telling me he was a master manipulator. At one point during this hour long debacle, before the police arrived, he had a moment of clarity where he admitted that he was losing his mind and was totally paranoid. He was calm at that moment, seated, shoulders hunched, scared and defeated. But it only lasted moments before my sweet, loving man turned into a scary monster again.
I've known this man for a little over 4 years and he's never done anything like this. Not ever. He's passive and sweet, loving and understanding, kind and thoughtful. He struggles with anxiety caused by a troublesome childhood and drug addicted parents. He never raised his voice to me a single time. He loves me through and through. He supports anything I want to do in life and would do anything to make me happy. He's my rock. The guy I wanted to grow old with. And now he's alone in an emergency room, restrained and medicated, belligerent and argumentative, and probably thinks I don't love him anymore. My heart is absolutely broken and I'm scared. Scared for tomorrow, scared for his mental health, scared for the future. Scared to go to sleep without him. Scared to wake up without him. Scared to not hear his voice. I just want my baby back. He's only been gone 2 hours and I already miss him terribly.
Please be okay, baby. Please be okay. I love you so much and I don't want to live a life without you in it.
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2019.12.31 15:28 FrikkiAya Nude totally spies
A friend of mine has a fetish for classic porn movies of the 70’s and 80’s. He says it’s not a fetish but a preference, I prefer to call it like I see it. We were talking about it the other day, and it made me remember the first porn film I ever saw, which coincidentally is the film that taught me how to masturbate.
I was very young, too young to admit publicly, let’s leave it at that. But youth never helped me to stay away from trouble. No, not me, especially since I was such a curious little girl and my friends were just as curious as me.
My friend Janet showed me a Betamax tape she had “borrowed” from her older brother. Yes, I said Betamax (I was THAT young). I can vividly remember the title on the tape: VCX – The Devil’s Playground. Having been raised by very strict Catholic parents, the title had a Taboo and irresistible lure for me. I had to watch that movie.
Janet lived a few blocks away from my house. We’d both walk home together from school and she’d spend the afternoon with me until my parents came home and drove her home. We’d usually spend that time doing homework, talking about stuff and basically keeping each other company. This was our routine. We were great friends and I guess because of the fact that we were so young, it never occurred to my parents that we would be doing anything inappropriate while they were at work.
We didn’t do homework that day, though. We immediately walked to the living room and turned the TV on, clicked to channel 3, and slid the tape into the Betamax. While Janet rewound the tape, we inspected the box a little more: the front featured a Satan-like character, holding three bikini-clad women chained like slaves. The back of the box had a picture of a nude black girl bound to a cross while a woman tore her panties off, two young girls touching their crotches, which were blurred out, and a man with white beard admiring a girl’s breasts. I remember my face getting very warm, my heart racing, and my hands shaking as I held the forbidden box and admired the blatant nudity.
Janet was smiling, having an older brother she had seen a lot more nudity than I had and always loved to show off by saying how much cooler she was than me. The tape finished rewinding with a loud snap of the betamax machine.
We pressed play and started the movie. It was all very red, a devil and some naked women on chains were on the screen, I guessed they were in hell. The devil character explained that to get concubines in hell they had to recruit them young. My heart skipped a beat and even though I knew it was a movie, I got a little scared that I was watching nude women on TV while a guy was saying that the devil likes them young.
Janet laughed it off because honestly the devil character did look funny, and he was not very scary at all. He had a partner demon with him, a woman, that somehow always got the better of him. The movie continued, and Janet and I sat on the couch glued to the screen.
Next scene: three young, giggling girls in nightshirts are spying on a group of teenagers who are watching a porno on a projector in the living room. The young girls run back into their room giggling louder and mocking the sounds from the movie: Panting, moaning, and such, but mostly giggling. Two of them climb to the top of a bunk bed, and a third stays on the lower bunk. The girls at the top start to mock-kiss each other playing out what they’d seen in the movie, giggling at the absurdity of what they’d witnessed. The girl at the bottom laughs and pulls her panties down, then grabs a plush Mickey Mouse doll and starts to fake-fuck herself with the doll, mock panting, mimicking the sounds they’d heard on the movie. The girls at the top laugh like crazy at the audacity of the girl on the bottom, then they take their panties off too and start to rub pillows and cushions on themselves too, giggling and making fun of how absurd everything they had just watched seemed to them.
I could relate to them, it must be fun to have your friends over for a sleepover and peek into what the adults were doing, but I have to admit, I was VERY taken aback when they took their panties off. I was still smiling though, I couldn’t let Janet know that I was surprised or stunned.
The girl at the bottom bunk bed was no longer giggling though, she had started to rub the Mickey doll slower and slower onto her pussy. She had started to rub Mickey’s white-gloved hand in tight little circles around her pussy, and her mocking giggling had turned into a very low and primal moan. “Ooh,” she’d say over and over. The girls at the top bunk were giggling at their friend’s silly behavior now and started to rub each other’s pussies, mocking their friend on the lower bunk. Their mocking didn’t last long, soon they were oohing and moaning just like her. This continued for a while, then I noticed Janet’s face. It was as red as mine, and her hands were shaking a bit.
I’m not sure if it was my age that contributed to me being mesmerized by the sight of Mickey Mouse touching a girls pussy, or if it was watching a pussy on television. But I was intrigued by the visual. It was so wrong, so taboo, I HAD to keep watching. I started to feel a rush of warmth all over my body, it was totally new to me. Janet was mesmerized too, I’m sure even SHE had no idea what was going on. Even little Mrs. “I’m cooler than you because I’ve seen a boy’s dick” was caught off-guard by what we were watching.
On the screen, the girls continued to touch themselves, the girls on the top bunk were caressing their pussies lovingly, exploring each other’s folds, parting their lips, and rubbing their clits tenderly. On the bottom bunk, Mickey was still working his magic on his girl, his hand circling her pussy, then rubbing up and down. Then something magical happened, all the girls moaned louder and louder and shook and trembled and collapsed on their beds, suddenly seeming very tired. The scene changed and they were back in hell, the devil guy was talking some more and Janet pressed STOP on the machine.
We didn’t say anything to each other, she took the tape and put it back in her backpack. I was too ashamed to say that I wanted to keep watching, so I went to the kitchen to get us something to drink and start on our homework.
That night, as I was getting ready for bed, I locked my door. I wore one of my older nightshirts that night. One that I hadn’t worn in a while, because it was starting to look ridiculously short on me, but it looked like the one the girl on the bottom bunk wore, it was almost the same length. I felt my heart race as I slid my panties off, like the girl had done in the video. With a plush Teddy bear in hand I laid on my bed and spread my legs. Remembering what I’d seen, I rubbed the bear around my pussy, pushing into my crotch at first, then realizing that circles was what felt better to me.
It felt very strange at first, Teddy’s fur tickled my inner thighs, and the fabric felt a little rough on my tender bits. I kept rubbing and rubbing, in my mind was the image of Mickey’s hand on the girl’s pussy, and things changed. At first I thought I’d hurt myself, or maybe peed a little, but no, the moisture on Teddy wasn’t pee nor blood. It was different. It smelled, felt and tasted different. It was something new, and wonderful. Teddy’s felt paw felt a lot smoother on my quickly moistening pussy, and the feeling it was starting to create on the rest of my body was amazing.
Warmness all over my body, delightful tingling in my belly and my legs, that memory of the girl moaning and Mickey’s painted-on smile as the girl guided his hand on her pussy playing over and over in head I had to bite my lip to stop myself from moaning, my parents were still up.
Stroking in circles and up and down, Teddy had soaked up a lot of my moisture. I kept going and going and going. It felt so amazing, and wonderful and new. My body guided his paw with more urgency, I rocked my hips and and down into Teddy as something overcame me. It felt like somebody had splashed warm water all over my body, and suddenly I had to move Teddy’s paw away from my pussy for it was too sensitive. It was a strange mixture of overwhelming pleasure and pain. I could not stop myself from trembling and shaking on the bed, from both orgasm and nerves.
I remembered the girls on the porno who were suddenly tired after playing with themselves, and just closed my eyes, reveling in wave after wave of warmness that overcame my body and made me shake every time it washed over me.
Next morning, before school I spent a good deal of time washing poor Teddy’s now very stinky paw. The smell made me very ashamed, but also very tingly as well. It was a strange feeling for me. I’d much later learn that there’s a kind of shame that turns me on. In the next few months I managed to grind onto all my plush toys, before realizing that I could get very similar results using my own hands, but the image of that girl with Mickey Mouse was so strong that it just made it a lot easier to reach orgasm using a toy than my hand.
I never did get around to buying a Mickey Mouse toy to masturbate to, now that I think back to it, it would probably make me orgasm very quickly. I did, however manage to find a DVD of the movie which I immediately bought. To my horror, they took out the scene with the Mickey Mouse doll. I’m guessing the Disney company could have pressured them into editing the film, but they’ll never take away the image that’s been burned into my mind and that taught me the joys of masturbation.
submitted by FrikkiAya to sexstories [link] [comments]
2019.12.20 18:51 Klokinator The Cryopod to Hell 081: Like Uncle, Like Nephew
Author note: The Cryopod to Hell is a Reddit-exclusive story with over three years of editing and refining. As of this post, the total rewrite is 197 parts long and 825,000+ words. For more information, check out the link below:
What is the Cryopod to Hell?
Official Discord Server.
Support me on Patreon! Every dollar helps, and you get access to lots of art and other cool stuff!
Want to read the whole story without waiting? Click here. It's free!
I will be reposting the full story on HFY until I've caught up with the current timeline. During that period, I will update the reposted parts to edit them more cohesively, as well. Once I catch up, new parts will be posted on HFY and RedditSerials, alongside my main subreddit as they become available.
Thank you for reading, and enjoy.
I grunt reflexively as Phoebe yanks the curtains open. I wince and flip over on the bed to put my back to the window, all while squeezing my eyes shut. The wintery sunlight radiating around the room is colored pure white due to the snow on the city's environmental barriers. It's the most blinding light I've seen in ages.
"Guhh... five more minutsh."
Phoebe clears her throat. "Ahem, I don't think so. You have to wake up, Jason. Every time you say 'five more minutes' and I leave you alone, thirty minutes pass, and you fall asleep again. Lazy boy."
"Grr... I don't wannawakeup..."
My eyes droop. A moment later, icy cold hits my body as Phoebe yanks the covers away. "Up! Up! Up!"
"Noooo!" I protest weakly, then sigh. "Awake."
One second later, I bolt up in bed while feeling as if I've been awake for two hours.
"Are you awake now?" Phoebe asks.
"Yeah. I'm good."
I continue to wince from the glare of the sunlight, but it's less pronounced than a few moments ago. My eyes wander toward Phoebe's nude, ripped body, as she grabs her clothes for the day and a towel. Her finely toned abs and muscles give her a sexy, powerful aura. She reminds me of an Amazonian warrior. "I'm going to take a shower. Are you coming?"
"Oh, yes, indeed. In more ways than one."
"You opened yourself up to that one."
"Yeah? Well, you're immature!"
"Nah, I'm just getting a headstart on dad jokes."
Phoebe smiles and rubs her belly. "Aww, that's sweet. But, um, what are dad jokes?"
"Think of the worst jokes you've ever heard, then multiply them by the power of puns. Those are dad jokes."
"I still don't follow."
"Trust me, you will. Give it time."
I slide out of bed and wrap my arm around Phoebe's shoulder, pulling her in for a passionate kiss before we head into the shower.
Thirty minutes later, I dry myself off with Wordsmithing, then instantly style my hair and clean my breath. To say my body is the pinnacle of health would be an understatement. I used to offer to do the same for Phoebe, but she thinks it 'builds character' to brush her teeth and hair. I don't understand her, sometimes.
I wander back into the bedroom and summon blue jeans and a black sweater, then grab Solomon's Crown off my bedside dresser and set it on my head.
"Rise and shine, Solomon. I hope you had some good sleep."
The king materializes beside me. "I don't sleep, sorry to disappoint."
"Oh. Really? I hope you weren't bored all by yourself."
"Hardly. Your sex was passionate enough to keep me interested. I found your technique lacking, though. A wild woman like Phoebe needs a strong man to tame her. Perhaps I can give you pointers sometime?"
Several seconds pass. I gape at Solomon's ghostly figure.
"Y-y-you watched us?! I thought you couldn't see anything! That's why I took the crown off!!"
Solomon rolls his eyes. "You don't need to get all flustered. I can see everything around my crown, regardless of whether someone wears it or not. In any case, you should thank me. Now that I've seen how you copulate, I can improve your technique and drive that feral lady to new heights of pleasure! If you wear the crown next time, I can even possess your body and-"
"No!! Holy shit, absolutely not!! I can't believe you'd-"
"Jason?" Phoebe's voice speaks out from the bathroom. "Is something wrong?"
My face pales. I haven't wordsmithed Solomon to be visible yet. Phoebe can't hear or see him, only me.
"N-no, it's nothing. I'm just, err, talking to someone on the... the phone."
"Oh, okay~! I'll be out in a few minutes!"
Sweat pours down my back. I glare at Solomon and keep my voice low. "Goddamn you, you pervert. What the hell is wrong with you? Are you a voyeur or something?!"
Solomon's expression flattens. "Jason. I am no longer a flesh and blood being. I have no sexual urges left in my body. I have long ago forgotten what the sensations felt like. I thought you'd appreciate my help. If I bother you that much... I won't watch anymore."
His sudden change in tone calms me down. I lower my eyes and take a few moments to contemplate his position.
Solomon was an ancient king who died and became trapped inside his artifact. He's lived in the crown for well over a hundred thousand years, his only friend the crown's bearer.
Solomon reads my mind. He nods. "It is as you imagine. I have made many friends with those who wore my crown. I watched all of them die. I..."
He trails off and looks away, toward the sunlight outside. "I am lonely. Seeing two young ones in love fills me with much joy... but also sorrow. It reminds me of the past I lost. The wives I loved who I will never see again. The children they bore who grew old and died."
Solomon goes silent for a moment before continuing. "You know, Jason, there is one adversary no man or woman can conquer. Humans, Gods, Angels, Demons, and even the Volgrim pale in comparison to its power. Time. It is relentless. It continues onward, forever, no matter what we wish. Enjoy your life, Jason, and your time with Phoebe. Don't make the mistake I did."
Both of us fall silent. I slump down to sit on the edge of the bed and stare at the wall. "I'm sorry. I don't know you well, and I can be insulting, sometimes, with my assumptions."
"Everyone has faults," Solomon says. He sits beside me. "For example, this old man has forgotten how civilized people interact. I suppose most people don't watch their friends going at it like jackrabbits, eh?"
"N-not usually, no."
"I mean, wow! I was surprised by all that biting! Why must you use your teeth so much? Her breasts aren't going anywhere! You don't need to hold them in place while you deliver the final thrust-"
"Hah! Look at you blush!" Solomon laughs. He swats my back, but his hand passes through it. A slight tingle on my spine indicates his touch, but I barely notice the sensation. "Watching you squirm is truly hilarious!"
"Okay, fine, I'll let it slide. Christ, please don't offer any commentary. I'm still learning as I go."
"You'll be an expert in no time with moves like those."
"Fine, fine. Spoilsport." Solomon flops back on the bed. "I'll be quiet, for now."
A long minute passes. Phoebe hums to herself in the bathroom, making up some tune in her head as she gets ready for the day. I glance back at Solomon. "Hey, let's go see Saul today. He'll be super excited to see you again!"
Solomon grins from ear to ear. "Ah, yes! I'm looking forward to that! It's been so long since I last saw his face! I wonder how many wrinkles he has! He's probably ancient by now!"
"Nah. Saul looks maybe forty or fifty. No grey hairs at all."
Solomon's smile fades. "Really? That's odd. How has he managed to survive all these years?"
"Bahamut. She used magic to enslave humans and monsters. They gained immortality and lost control of their free will. She forced them to serve under her for the last hundred thousand years. Saul and Phoebe were both her slaves."
"Oh. That's unfortunate."
"Yeah. All of Bahamut's slaves are nearly as old as you. Older, in a few rare cases. You'd be surprised how many humans she used her magic on."
"Indeed. You mentioned Bahamut's riddle magic before, but even I didn't know about the power of the Sphinx. She must have guarded her secret closely."
"Mhm. It's strange that I knew the answer to Bahamut's riddle, though. It was common knowledge in my day. Why wouldn't any potential slaves have guessed the answer?"
"Life is full of mysteries," Solomon replies. "Oh. Phoebe finished."
I lift my head and look toward the Bathroom. Phoebe steps out, wearing a white sundress with long sleeves and a skirt that reaches down to her knees, along with satin gloves and pantyhose. Across her chest and under her dress, I can somewhat make out the unmistakable round lump of the T-REX.
"A dress? I thought you weren't the type?"
Phoebe's face pales. "You don't like it?"
"I do! I'm just surprised to see you wearing one, that's all. You usually prefer wearing leather armor and carrying a sword at your hip."
"Oh. I see." Phoebe quickly smiles to cover up her embarrassment. "Well, Samantha told me recently that I'd look more attractive if I dressed as a woman should. I'm not used to wearing such feminine clothes, but since we have the nanite armor, I can be ready for combat within seconds."
To emphasize her point, Phoebe presses the button under her top three times. A flood of nanites rushes out and covers her body from head to toe. I happen to catch Solomon gawking as he watches in stunned silence.
When the nanites finish, Phoebe holds out her hand, and a sword of nanites forms and hardens. She swings it around expertly and assumes a two-handed pose, before chopping down hard with it and cutting a dresser in half. The razor-sharp blade makes mincemeat of the furniture. When she finishes, Phoebe retracts the sword, and its nanites combine with the rest on her body.
"See? Easy as kicking the dog! Also, fix that dresser for me, will you, sweetheart?"
I turn to look at Solomon. He continues to stare and ogle the fully armored woman before him, her faceless helmet evoking a certain sense of danger. "By the Heavens... what manner of creation led to this suit? I never saw any development like this, not even during the Energy Wars! The tensile strength must be off the charts!!"
"Yup. It resists piercing, bludgeoning, bullets, flames, acid, anything you can imagine. It filters out toxins in the air, enhances bodily strength-"
Phoebe cocks her head. "Are you talking to Solomon?"
"Oh, right, yeah. Sorry. Project."
Solomon's body solidifies, somewhat. Phoebe tilts her head slightly. "Good morning, Solomon! How was your sleep?"
Immediately, I scream in my mind, DON'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT SEX!
Solomon gets the hint. "It was wonderful. You look positively radiant today, with or without that suit of armor."
"Aw, you're such a sweetheart!"
My wife doesn't pick up on Solomon's underlying meaning, but I do. I silently swear to myself that I'll pay him back in spades for spying on us.
Phoebe goes silent for a moment, and her suit begins to melt away, leaving her standing in her dress once again. She walks over and steps into her fur-lined brown boots, and I put my sneakers on.
She beams sunshine at me. "Alright, Jason! What do you want to do first?"
"First? We're going to take this guy to see an old friend. After that... well, I want to see Hope. I still have to apologize to him."
Phoebe's smile dissipates. "Yes, you should get on that as soon as possible. The longer you let the dead air sit between you, the harder apologizing will be."
Forty minutes later, Phoebe and I walk down Main Street, arm in arm. The cold of winter presses against the energy shield surrounding Hero City, but heat generators inside keep the chilliness at bay. I can't see the sun above, but its light shines through the snow and amplifies, expanding everywhere and brightening every inch of the city equally. It's somehow worse than if the ground were covered in snow!
Several people wave at Phoebe and me, only to stop and stare at the man floating beside us. One woman stares with eyes as wide as saucers when Solomon floats through a fire hydrant as if it doesn't exist.
Solomon waves at people and says hello to everyone he can, but few offer a reply. He glances around now and then; a question etched into his face. Finally, he vocalizes it. "Where does Saul live? I assume he lives in a unique building that stands out from the crowd, yet all I see are rectangles and squares."
"Saul doesn't live in the city," Phoebe replies. "He's a bit reclusive. He has a home out near the outskirts of town."
"Ahh, that explains it. He would feel ill living around such drab architecture in this city. He must prefer the beauty of nature to the emptiness of this city."
"Yeah... sure. I guess you could say that..."
Phoebe trails off and looks away. The lie in her voice is impossible to miss.
Solomon doesn't notice. "Haha, that scamp! I can't wait to see the look of surprise on his face!"
Phoebe looks at the king again. "By the way, Solomon, if you don't mind me asking, why do you two have such similar names? You know... Saul... Solomon..."
"Didn't I tell you? He's my nephew. My sister named him after me, hoping he would take the throne someday. Of course, that destiny was not in the cards."
Solomon's words get my attention. "Destiny, huh? Do you believe in it?"
"Of course I do, as any God-fearing man should. Our actions are all part of the Creator's master plan. We do only as He plans for us."
"Mmm. I'm an atheist. I don't believe that stuff myself."
Phoebe tugs my arm. "Jason... don't be rude."
"Oh, there's nothing rude about it," Solomon says, waving his hand about. "Let the fools think what they will. Who am I but the Knowledge-Seeker, also said to be the wisest human who ever lived? Surely my thoughts on the matter can be disregarded."
I sigh. "Aw, c'mon. That's not fair. Even smart people can fall for scams."
Solomon stops floating. He turns to look at me seriously. "Scams? Do you think the existence of the Creator is a scam? Do you not realize that angels and gods lived and that I met them?"
Phoebe and I slow to a stop. "Sure, I do. But you've never seen the Creator yourself, have you?"
"I have not, but the angels have. Raphael, specifically. He was one of the original Archangels, the eldest of his people. Do you not wear his ring? He would tell you many stories if you simply asked."
"Yeah... huh. I need to talk to the angels eventually. Been meaning to ask about Uriel."
Solomon stares at me quizzically. "Uriel? I used to believe that she died thousands of years before I walked the Earth. When you mentioned her name so casually, it took me off-guard. I struggle to understand how she lived in demon captivity for a hundred thousand years without anyone knowing."
"I don't know the details. All I know is that somehow, she ended up inside of Barbatos's body."
"Mmm. I see. That only raises more questions."
Several minutes pass as we continue walking toward Hero City's outskirts. The crowds of people dwindle, and soon we only see a few merchants, a bus or two, and birds pecking at the cold ground.
Phoebe points to the edge of a cliff up ahead. "Saul lives over that ridge at the bottom of the bluff."
Solomon shakes his head. "Hm. I never expected him to be the nature-type. You think you know a man..."
It only takes another minute for us to arrive and peer over the edge. Solomon looks down. His face turns to confusion. "I only see a small thatched hut! I thought we were going to Saul's home!"
Phoebe nods. "That's the one."
"Impossible! Surely, you jest."
"I'm not known for my comedic chops."
I teleport Phoebe and myself to the bottom rather than having us walk down and around the cliff. The moment we arrive, a loud crack sounds off from behind the house. Solomon cranes his neck but can't see the source. "What's going on? What was that noise?"
Phoebe and I shrug at the same time. I stifle a laugh.
We walk around behind the hut and spot a wiry-looking man wearing a fur coat and some animal skins. He raises an axe in the air and slams it onto a plank of wood, chopping it in half.
He splits three logs before Solomon finally speaks. "S-Saul? Is that you?"
"Yes, tis' I-"
Saul turns around to smile at us. The moment he spots Solomon, his eyes widen. A look of horror spreads across his face. "K-K-King S-Solo...mon?!"
"Saul! My nephew! It is great to see you!" Solomon dashes over to his nephew, oblivious to the look of panic on his face. "How have you been, young one? I missed your humorous antics from all those years ago!"
Saul's mouth turns dry and cracked, even as sweat pours off his forehead. "I've- we did- that is to say... how are you alive?! I thought you died!"
"Haha, nay! Nay! I lived long and prospered by sealing my spirit in that crown on Jason's head! Forget those little details; I'm pleased to see you again!"
Saul nods mechanically. "Yes. Yes. I am, as well. I had thought- hoped we might never see each other again."
"Hahaha! Always with the jokes! I remember when you vanished from my court one day, I sent out a legion of my finest to try and find you. I was so certain you were kidnapped for ransom, yet no country came out with a list of demands!"
Saul's voice cracks. "I ran away."
"Yes, yes, good! Fleeing your would-be assassins... just as I expected of my brilliant young nephew! But what is this place you live in, now? Where is your tower of gold? Your silver sword and brass armor?"
Saul's eyes flick to me with an expression that says, help me.
I shake my head. He's on his own.
The bearded man wipes sweat from his brow. "I-I don't enjoy those m-material possessions in the way-"
"Nonsense! Haha! You were the finest architect in all of Israel! Surely you have a good reason for living out in the middle of nowhere in a ramshackle hut!"
Saul frowns. "I quite like my home. It's small, cozy, and I don't usually have any... unwanted visitors."
Solomon freezes up. He takes a step backward. "Oh... oh, heavens... I didn't realize..."
"But now you do." Saul's tone goes cold. "I like my life, now. I thought I would never see you again. Why did you return? Why have you come back to haunt-"
"I understand completely!" Solomon yells, interrupting his nephew. "After your kidnappers tormented you, they must have taken away a part of your humanity! You forgot your love of gold and jewels! It's fortunate that I found you, or you might have wallowed in misery for the rest of your days."
"Ahh, no! That isn't the case at all!" Saul grips his shirt with white knuckles and struggles to put words together. "I don't like gold or jewels or riches! I never did! That's you, not me!"
"Hah, I remember differently, my boy, and my memory is eidetic. It's a steel trap that nothing escapes. Have no fear, for I shall educate you in due time regarding the finer aspects of wealth and luxury. Soon, you will be back to your old self, and we can return to the good old days!"
Saul opens his mouth to protest, but his shoulders slump. He gives up. "Yes... sir. I suppose so."
Phoebe nudges me. "Jason. Say something..."
I don't know what she wants from me. This silly misunderstanding is an issue for the ancient hero and his nephew to settle, not me. Saul appears disconcerted about his uncle's past and their relationship from back then, but I don't know much about either one. I don't think it's my place to interfere, even if Solomon is making his nephew feel isolated and depressed.
I tap the crown, which gets Solomon's attention. "Hey, uh, I still need to talk to Hope. Sorry to cut this short, but..."
"It's no problem at all! I think I understand my nephew's plight." Solomon pats Saul on the back, though his hand makes no physical contact. "I'll be seeing you around, my favorite pupil! Have a great day!"
Saul doesn't meet his uncle's eyes. "Yes... you too."
The three of us walk away, and Solomon whistles jovially, blissfully unaware of how much his nephew can't stand being around him.
It's only now that I realize the mess I've gotten myself into. Solomon isn't simply some random man inside the crown, but a loudmouth who thinks himself infallible. He's cocky, arrogant, and doesn't take no for an answer.
And now I have to live with him as long as I choose to use his artifact of power.
Sigh... I miss when the Crown was a device I used to make myself super smart. Those were the good old days.
Solomon glances into the sky. "Hey, if we're heading to the Core, why not give Esther a call? She can pick us up if you activate her remote signal."
Phoebe raises an eyebrow. "Esther? Who's that?"
"It's the name Solomon gave his spaceship."
"Oh. I like it. Very beautiful."
"Haha! You have wonderful taste, my dear," Solomon laughs.
The ancient king sends me the mental specs to create a control device, and I summon it with Wordsmithing. "Remote."
A gadget with a single button appears in my hand. I press it. One minute later, a distant crack of thunder sounds off, and Esther rushes into view, stopping far more suddenly than I'd expect before slowing to a hover in midair and descending.
Many minutes pass as we board and fly over to the warp-gates. When we arrive and depart, Phoebe pats the ship's hull. "That was interesting. I've never flown before. It felt the same as... not flying."
"Inertia dampeners," Solomon replies without looking at her. "Makes for a nice, smooth ride."
"If you say so."
We head over to the guard outpost. The guard on duty waves us through, and after we cross, I poke a soldier walking past. "Hey, Brian, question... do you know where Neil is? Or Hope?"
The man shakes his head. "Nope, sorry. Last I heard, they asked not to be disturbed."
"They did? Okay. Thanks."
We continue walking. I stop a few other soldiers, but they all give the same line. Hope and Neil wish not to be disturbed.
I pause after stepping inside the Core. "Ugh. Nobody will tell us where they are. Maybe I should use Locate..."
Phoebe quickly dashes my thought against the rocks. "After what happened last time, don't take a chance. Let's check Neil's office first."
"Right. Sounds good."
It only takes a minute for us to walk across the massive stadium to Neil's office in the back corner. When we arrive at the doorway, I hear Neil's voice before I see his body. "-the corridors. If these reports are accurate, then those slaves need to be liberated. We can't leave them in demonic hands."
Hope's voice, or rather, mine, replies. "I don't know, Neil. Even with the T-REX suits, we'll have to fight demons on the way in or out. They won't give up human slaves without a- who's there?"
The three of us enter the room right as Hope spins to face us. "Jason. Phoebe. Christ, here I thought you'd take a hint from the soldiers."
Neil glares at me. "Go away. I'm not interested in talking to you. Neither is Hope."
"I just came here to apologize. That's all. You're right to be angry, which is why-"
"Save it," Hope says, cutting me off. "I already know what you'll say. You'll apologize for spying on us, make a big deal about it, and we'll have to forgive you. Except that isn't going to work, not this time."
My jaw drops. "What? I'm not coming here to start a fight, Hope! I know you're mad, but it was an accident!"
"Yeah? How many more accidents will I have to sit through, Jason? It wasn't a mistake. You wanted to hear what we were talking about and ended up biting off more than you could chew. I know you and how you think."
I'm flabbergasted. I don't understand where Hope's hostility comes from. Solomon helped me to understand the difference between Hope and me, but it doesn't make this sudden confrontation any easier.
Hope growls a few curses under his breath. "Get lost. Neil and I are doing important shit. You go back and manage the colony or whatever. Spy on our conversations if you like."
"I'm not going to do that..."
"Of course, you aren't. It's true what people say, Jason. Trust nobody, not even yourself."
"That's... that's not..."
Phoebe and I stand silently for several long moments, meeting Hope's gaze the whole time. He stands resolute, unflinching, and unwilling to listen.
I can't persuade him. I don't have the right words. Even if I did, he wouldn't listen. I have to let him cool off. This situation isn't going to fade away as quickly as it did for Phoebe and Samantha. Hope's anger is too fierce right now. Backstabbing and betrayal cuts deeper into one's psyche than a simple accusation ever could.
I nod. "Fine. Sorry we bothered you. If you want to contact me... feel free. Any time."
Hope rolls his eyes. "Yeah. I'll get right on that."
The three of us turn and head out the door, and I feel Hope's gaze burning a hole in my back the entire way there.
I pissed him off. Royally. But... there's something else... some undercurrent rippling beneath the surface. I can't put my finger on it. I've stepped on a beehive... but they have yet to sting.
I can only pray my intuition is wrong.
submitted by Klokinator to HFY [link] [comments]
2019.11.14 19:32 Klokinator Nude totally spies
Author note: The Cryopod to Hell is a Reddit-exclusive story with over three years of editing and refining. As of this post, the total rewrite is 190 parts long and 790,000+ words. For more information, check out the link below:
What is the Cryopod to Hell?
Official Discord Server.
Support me on Patreon! Every dollar helps, and you get access to lots of art and other cool stuff!
Want to read the whole story without waiting? Click here. It's free!
I will be reposting the full story at a rate of two parts every other day until I've caught up with the current timeline. During that period, I will update the reposted HFY parts to edit them more cohesively, as well. Once I catch up, new parts will be posted on HFY and RedditSerials, alongside my main subreddit as they become available.
Thank you for reading, and enjoy.
"Lady Berthold. The King requires your presence at the Round Table."
The militiaman bows his head as Phoebe, the leader of the Silver Battalion, enters. She, in turn, sheathes her sword. "Thank you, Private. I will leave at once."
Phoebe examines her wooden training dummy to see how deep her strikes have cut. As usual, she's almost at the point where she can chop its head off, but not quite.
My sword arm lacks striking power. Ah, well. Perhaps someday that will change.
Phoebe walks outside. Her boots clomp against the cobblestone streets as she picks up her pace. She heads away from the knight training yard, past the stables, up toward the castle. The hustling and bustling commoners pay her no mind.
Her steel armor glints in the midday sunlight, and her white hair flutters in the breeze. Occasionally, she catches sight of a familiar soldier here and there who nod politely at her, their looks of respect and desire apparent on their faces.
A lady of the court must remain chaste, she reminds herself. Besides, she has no interest in the other knights. Despite several approaching her over the last several years, she always turns them down. The only man she feels anything towards is King Arthur. Naturally, her feelings for him amount to deep respect and admiration, nothing else.
She adjusts her belt fittings and looks up in surprise as one of the Knights of the Round falls into step beside her. "Oh! Sir Percival! How are you faring on this beautiful morning?"
The tall and lanky man smiles kindly. His blonde hair tilts forward as he gives a polite nod. "Lady Berthold. I am quite well. Are you headed to the Round Table as well?"
She smiles. "I am. The King must have summoned both of us. I wonder to what end?"
"Aye." Percival and Phoebe increase their pace. "Summoning us to the Round Table must mean important business."
Minutes pass. The two chat politely about this and that. They step into the castle, and Phoebe lowers her gaze. "Do you think His Majesty will finally assign me a combat task? Until now, he's only directed me to train myself and the other troops."
Percival shrugs. "Anything is possible. The demons have been plotting a major attack on Camelot for quite some time. I imagine His Majesty is feeling anxious."
"As would anyone," Phoebe murmurs.
She and Percival stride into the antechamber of the Round Table and raise their eyebrows as they spot the other ten knights awaiting their arrival.
"Sir Percival. Lady Berthold. Welcome." Lancelot, the King's right-hand knight, nods at them as they enter. His commanding physique, chiseled chin, and piercing eyes make any woman swoon. Indeed, the rumors speak of him being equal to the King when it comes to his conquest of demons and females alike.
"Sir Lancelot." Phoebe takes up her seat a few spots away from him and blushes as once again, she feels the weight of her position at the table. The only female to ever be knighted and appointed to the Round Table. Compared to the others here... I feel unworthy.
The last chair, a golden throne, stands emptily at the opposite side of the table from Phoebe. A chill goes down her arms as she imagines Arthur's handsome face when he enters. Soon, His Majesty will sit across from me, and I will gaze upon his visage.
The King, of course, is widely known to be the noblest man in the land. In addition to his beautiful wife, Guinevere, he has a dozen concubines at any given time, all chosen from the most beautiful women of his court.
Every knight, including Phoebe, bows their heads and folds their hands together on the table to join in prayer. When they finish, they stare at the King's throne in silence and wait for his arrival.
Five minutes later, the far door swings open. The Knights of the Round rise to their feet and turn to face the King as he walks in. "Hello, my paladins. Apologies for running late. Little Morgan wouldn't cease her sobbing. She prefers her mother's touch to mine."
Phoebe smiles. What a devout family man His Majesty is.
Arthur quickly seats himself at the table and nods. "At ease."
The knights smoothly seat themselves. Lancelot touches a few scrolls before him. "I brought intelligence reports from our southern borders. Sightings of demons have increased of late."
"And I bring news of a witch from the north," Sir Gawain remarks. "A villager described a young woman of short height with a lovely and fair complexion. However, we suspect she may be a demon shapeshifter, given her barbarism and power."
"Aye," Sir Kay says. "And just today we've beheaded four traitors to the crown. The ones I spoke of two fortnights past."
Arthur sighs. "Haah... as always, trouble brews. A king's rest never comes. Let's begin with the demon sightings, Sir Lancelot. What are their numbers and military might? Can one of you dispatch them quickly, or must I go there myself?"
The other knights begin discussing their information with the King, but Phoebe stares in silence, twirling her fingers together. Her eyes glaze over, and she looks past the King toward the stained-glass window behind him. It depicts the Virgin Mother as she holds her beloved child, baby Jesus. As Phoebe eyes the window, her thoughts turn inward, toward her own family life.
Minutes pass. Sir Gawain and Percival break out into a minor spat over how to divert resources from one border to the other. Eventually, the King taps the table. "Lady Berthold? Lady Berthold?"
"Huh?" Phoebe blinks, suddenly realizing everyone is staring at her. "O-oh! Sorry! What was the question?"
Arthur smiles pleasantly. "I asked if the newest batch of militiamen were ready to send to the southern border. Do you believe they've trained enough?"
Phoebe swallows. "With all due respect, Your Grace, I believe they require a few more weeks of training. The archers might prove useful in the meantime, but their horsemanship lacks finesse."
"That won't do," Lancelot says, cutting in. "I won't send unprepared young men out to die against the demon hordes. We should transfer our more capable warriors from the palace to the southern border, and put the recruits here."
"B-but..." Phoebe swallows. "That would leave the castle weakened."
"Aye, but it is unlikely that any demons will show up so deep within our borders. We anticipate it will take but a month or so for our troops to crush the demons in the south. Once they finish, they will return post-haste."
Phoebe nods at Sir Lancelot. "Of... of course. That is sensible."
King Arthur examines Phoebe shrewdly with his sparkling blue eyes. "Is there something the matter, Lady Berthold? You've hardly said a word since I arrived."
Blood rushes to Phoebe's cheeks. "Oh, no! Not at all! I- I um, well, I feel a little... um... small."
Several of the knights glance at one another. Arthur rubs his chin. "Hmm. You are the newest paladin here, and a lone woman, to boot. You probably feel somewhat inadequate, seated at this table of legends."
Phoebe's blushing intensifies. "Y-yes."
"I see." Arthur looks away. "Sometimes, I forget how difficult it must feel for you to fit in. Nevertheless, you are a fantastic swordswoman, one who bested Gawain in mock-combat. We vexed him endlessly as a result of his defeat. However, it is not your prowess with the blade that I value, but your ability to intuit the feelings of others. Tell me, how does my kingdom view me?"
Arthur holds up a finger to silence Phoebe. "Gawain, you answer first. How do those living in the less prosperous district of Trost view my reign?"
Gawain shuffles uncomfortably. "W-well, my King... ah... I hardly travel to Trost. The last I heard, they suffered a plague and had to burn the bodies."
"That was three years ago," Arthur mutters. "Lancelot. How about you? What does Trost think of my reign?"
The muscular knight bows his head. "I do not know, my liege. Matters regarding the military always occupy my time."
"But Lady Berthold does," Arthur says with a smile. "She has never visited Trost, yet I guarantee she knows more of their current situation than anyone else at this table. All she needs is to speak with villagers and citizens, and they open up to her in ways you men couldn't imagine. Isn't that right?"
Phoebe twirls a hair around her finger. "Somewhat, Your Grace. After the plague, the citizens of Trost held animosity toward the crown. However, when a voodoo demon appeared in their village, you sent Sir Tristan there to slay the demon. People later went on to blame the bastard for the plague and forgive the crown. Their troubles have lessened noticeably as a result."
Arthur claps his hands together twice. "Good, very good. You see? You have value and intuition that the men here lack. Don't look down on yourself simply because you lack for military conquests. Heaven knows you will someday get the chance. Our enemies never stop plotting against humanity."
Percival reaches over and rests his hand on Phoebe's. "The King is right, Lady Berthold. Everyone here values you. Do not be so eager to stain your sword with blood."
Phoebe relaxes visibly. "Alright. I apologize for my... my lack of conviction."
Arthur returns his gaze to Sir Gawain. "Very good, then. Gawain, tell me more about this beautiful witch that has been attacking our villages."
"Aye, Your Majesty. She is a young woman, perhaps twenty-five years of age. The villagers speak of her long, black hair and blood-red eyes..."
Phoebe turns away from Gawain's debriefing to gaze at Percival, whose hand still rests on hers. He quickly retracts his touch and blushes awkwardly. "Ah... forgive me for my... impropriety."
Phoebe gently reaches around and rubs his back. "There's nothing to forgive."
Two weeks later.
Phoebe watches silently as the captured demons shuffle through the streets, their hands, feet, and necks shackled and bound with powerful restriction magic. Female and male demons of many varieties gaze around at the wall of knights surrounding them on both sides. They whimper in despair as heavily armored soldiers march them to the dungeons.
Gawain stands beside Phoebe and claps his hands eagerly. "Chop chop! Let's get a move on! I want these prisoners ready for interrogation by no later than midday!"
The demons include not only imps, but children, too. Phoebe watches as a little demon girl with white hair shuffles along behind the taller ones silently, emptiness in her eyes.
"Sir Gawain, are you planning to torture all of these demons?"
Gawain shakes his head. "Not I. The court appointee, Sir Gallant the Brave. I lack the finesse required for torture. He will certainly find the locations of their hidden dens."
A horrible rolling pain forms in Phoebe's gut as she watches the last of the demons walk up the street. "Is... is the brutality necessary?"
Gawain glances at her. "Of course. Even if we required no information, they're demons! God demands that all of their kind be broken and slain. Finding out where more of their wicked kin are hiding is but a bonus."
Phoebe clutches her stomach and nods. Gawain walks away to follow the demon convoy.
Eventually, Phoebe slowly turns to walk back to the training stables. How cruel. The demons look similar to us, but with different skin, horns, and pointy ears. Why must we torture them? Is there no better way?
Before entering the training facility, Phoebe slams into someone walking out, falling hard on her rear and wincing in pain. The voice of Sir Percival greets her ears. "Ah! Lady Berthold! I'm so sorry! Forgive me!"
When she looks up at his face, her feelings of discomfort erupt all at once into powerful emotions she can't contain. Tears roll down Phoebe's face. She looks away and tries to control her sobbing, and wipes her eyes furiously.
Percival stares at her in confusion. "O-oh goodness! I wasn't watching where I was going!" He kneels to her level, his hands shaking as he tries to figure out how badly he hurt her. "Are you okay? Shall I call a medic?"
"Hic..." Phoebe rubs her eyes on her arms and trembles. "It's not you! It's me! I'm too weak... I can't even look! Oh god, it hurts to think about!"
Percival opens and closes his mouth several times, trying to parse her emotions. Unfortunately, unlike the other knights, his experience with women is quite limited. Percival can do little more than pray he didn't hurt her too badly.
Eventually, he settles with just staring at Phoebe's feet while she weeps. Three minutes pass before Phoebe can get her emotions under control. She finally looks at Percival, tears staining her face. "I... I'm sorry. I can't control it. The little girl... it's not fair."
"Little girl?" Percival, still baffled, tries to probe Phoebe to find out what's distressing her. "Who?"
Phoebe sniffles. "Th-the demons. We brought back a hundred demon prisoners from the south. They all looked so hopeless and distraught..."
Percival nods. A look of relief passes over his face. "Ah, is that all that's bothering you? Well, they are our enemy. You'll have to get the notion out of your head that they deserve mercy. A little girl demon will eventually mature into a man-eating succubus, or potentially even a wraith. Why, wraiths slew thousands of innocent villagers in the south just last winter!"
Sticking his hand out, Percival offers to help Phoebe to her feet. Instead, she stares at him, a feeling of shame washing over her. "You feel the same way as the other knights, Sir Percival? About demons? Even the children?"
Percival drops his hand to his side and sighs. "That I do. I know you are a kind soul, Lady Berthold, but those damned bloodskins are pure evil. If you respect His Majesty, then you will see that he is a Hero ordained by the gods to rid the world of demonic sin. There is no place for demonkind in a peaceful world."
Phoebe reaches for the doorway and pulls herself up, rubbing her sore butt as she rises. "I can't help but wonder if there isn't a better way. People seem too eager to inflict barbarism and cruelty upon one another just as much as they do the demons."
Sir Percival stands up as well and smiles. "Lady Berthold..." Slowly, he reaches over to caress her face. "You are the kindest woman I know. Your dignity and grace are your greatest assets. I pray you never have to see the horrors of war, nor the punishment we inflict upon those who oppose his majesty. Your heart would break."
Phoebe pulls away from his touch, a chill going down her back. "That would be... ah... I... I will retire for the day. I'm feeling light-headed."
"As you wish." Percival sighs. "If you like, I can manage the training today."
"Yes. Please do," Phoebe whispers. She eyes Percival for a few seconds, then turns and walks away.
Phoebe's quarters, little more than a small hut near the castle, stand not far from the dungeons. As she walks along, she eyes the small stone tower with its stairs that delve deep into Camelot's depths.
She pauses before her home, hesitating to walk inside. Gazing across the field, she swallows hard.
No, Phoebe. Don't look. You shouldn't. Leave it to the men. The King knows best.
She bites her lip, hesitating as she reflects upon her actions.
Finally, she relents. I have to see. I need to know what will happen to them.
Another voice whispers in her head. What will you do if you witness something loathsome?
N-nothing. I'm only... I'm going to take a quick look. Nothing else.
Phoebe turns away from her house and walks across the field, heading for the massive wooden doors which lead to Castle Camelot's dungeons.
A hundred demons stand, their wrists shackled to the ceiling, as they await their demise: men, women, even a child. The guards, having already torn all their clothing off, examine the prisoners.
Maxim, the head guard, paces back and forth, grimacing at the more freakish demons, including a pair of Scythers, whose sword-arms possess the power to slice through thick armor. Maxim's eyes fall on three succubi, and he sneers at them. "You may think your male mind control will work on me, but think again. The Archangel Camael, Lady of the Lake, forged those collars that you whores wear now. She created these artifacts explicitly to render your filth powerless. There is no way out of the Camelot Dungeons."
Maxim continues walking past them, and his eyes lower to the lone little demon girl, her long white hair barely covering her upper body. "A kid, huh? Today will be even more fun than I expected."
Two male demons beside her, somewhat older, shuffle to the side to try and block her from Maxim's view. The older one speaks up. "Keep your eyes off our sister, fleshbag scum!"
"What?! How dare you!" Maxim pales for a moment, then rears back and strikes the one who spoke right in the stomach, making the handsome demon gasp in pain.
"Brother!" The little girl wriggles and tries to do something at all, but her toes barely touch the ground.
Maxim glares nastily at the older demon, then grabs him by the throat. "I don't take lip from blood-skins!"
Whump! Whump! Whump!
Maxim slams his metal-gauntlet fist over and over into the male's stomach until the eldest brother can't make a sound. Blood pours from his mouth.
With a smirk, Maxim gestures to another guard. "Let's have some fun with this tough guy first. Go ahead and strap down two of those succubi for me. I'll have my way with them later. As for these worthless Scythers, kill them. They never talk. Too stupid."
Two muscled guards nod without smiling and draw their swords. The scythers wriggle and try to turn away, but their efforts fail. The swordsmen impale them through the stomach three times, then stab them through the throat.
The succubi scream in terror as the guards manhandle and drag them away by their hair. "Please! Don't hurt us! We don't mean any harm! Pleeease!!!"
After tightly binding the arms of the succubi so they can't fight back, the guards drag them away to a nearby room. Their screams echo throughout the dungeon.
Maxim glowers at the crowd of onlookers. "Drake! Get that male in the iron maiden, and tie the one who gave me lip to a Pain Chair. We'll have a go at the little one after we finish the first batch."
The girl watches in horror as they cart her brother off. "Rahab! No! Don't hurt him, please!"
"Shut your mouth," Maxim says, backhanding her face and knocking her away. Her remaining brother pulls hard at his chains and snarls, but Maxim ignores him.
Leaning down, Maxim grabs the little girl by her chin. "You know what we're gonna do to that handsome devil brother of yours? First, we'll smash his kneecaps. Then we'll break his elbows. Unless someone in this motley crew decides to tell us where more hidden demon dens are, every demon here will suffer the same fate as him. I have a long line of pests to get out of the way, so rest easy that his death will be quick."
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning arcs off the girl's chin and violently shocks Maxim, sending him sprawling back. The girl screams at him, tears in her eyes. "Take that! You awful human!"
Maxim's entire arm shakes and spasms for several seconds before it slows to a tremble. His eyes bulge. "You little bitch. How did you activate your magic?! Ohh, now you're in for it. I've got a special present just for you."
Maxim beckons to another guard. "Bring her brother here. We'll torture him right in front of his siblings. Won't that be fun?"
"Rahab!" The remaining male demon pulls and tugs at his chains, but can't get free. "You bastards! Satan will damn you to Hell! Our kind will tear your children from their mother's arms!"
"Hahaha." Maxim shakes some feeling into his numbed hand. "Tell me where the demon lairs are, and your brother won't suffer. Otherwise, stand there and watch."
The little girl and her brother gaze in terror as their still-coughing older brother is dragged over and strapped to a chair with a thousand small spikes lining it. The guards slap and batter him around. "Wake up! Say goodbye to your fellow cockroaches, worm!"
A guard from the other room walks over; a large nail in one hand and a sledgehammer in the other. He hands the spike to another guard who positions it above Rahab's knee.
Rahab blinks deliriously. His eyes widen when he sees what's coming.
Then the first guard raises the hammer.
The little girl and her brother scream in unison. "No! Stop!"
The nail impales Rahab's kneecap with a sickening crunch. His unearthly howl of pain makes even the guards flinch. "GEEEYAAAUGH!"
The little girl presses her eyes shut and turns away, sobbing uncontrollably. "Uwaaah! No! Rahab...!"
The guard yanks the spike out of Rahab's knee, which only causes him more agony, then places it over the other one.
Maxim smirks and walks over to the girl, not deigning to touch her this time. "You think this is painful? Sir Gallant has a special plan for you. The same one he does for all the cute little bloodskins. Hehehe."
"Uwaaah..." The little girl hiccups and shakes as she forces herself to look away. Rahab's anguished screams ring in her ears as they drive the next nail into his other kneecap.
"Bastards... bastards... bastards..." The remaining brother gnashes his teeth and tugs at his chains as he watches helplessly. "A million curses..."
Maxim stands up and dusts himself off. "Alright, let's break all of his fingers. I don't care about getting information from this one. Show these blood-skins we mean business. Sir Gallant the Brave will be here soon. I'm betting he'll want the child for himself."
"Aye, sir," One of the other guards says.
For the next hour, each guard takes turns breaking various parts of the eldest brother's body, until soon his voice is so hoarse and his mind so numb that he passes out and falls comatose.
The guards wipe their brows. "Whew, gods, that's a hard day of work. Haha."
"Stupid bastard finally croaked," another guard laughs. "Let's haul him to the butcher table and finish him off. I wanna have some fun with that last succubus before Gallant gets here. Once he has his way with her, she'll be too far gone for me to enjoy myself."
The little demon girl whimpers and shivers uncontrollably, partially due to being cold, but mostly because of the hatred and anguish in her body. She cracks her eyes and watches as they take Rahab's limp form away.
"It's... it's okay," her other brother mutters. He stands silently now, forcing himself to keep calm. "R-Rahab was valiant to the very end. The Emperors will not forget his fearlessness. He'll... he'll go into the great demon city under the Earth."
Both he and his sister tremble and cry.
Phoebe opens the dungeon door. A young guard at the entrance, perhaps twenty years old, spots her. "Oh! Lady Berthold! A pleasure to see you! What are you doing poking your head into these parts?"
Her stomach clenches as a man's voice howls in agony far in the distance. "I... I need to see someone here."
The guard scratches the back of his head. "Ahh, Sir Gallant just returned a few minutes ago. I've gotta ask him if it's okay for visitors to show up. After all, prison ain't no place for a noble lady like yourself."
A moment passes. Another scream makes Phoebe's skin crawl. "Are you questioning my fortitude? I am one of the Knights of Twelve, young man."
The guard's face whitens. "O-oh, no! Of course not! I meant no disrespect! Would you like me to show you to your destination?"
Yet another shriek tears through the dungeon, this time filled with ten times the raw emotion of the previous scream. Phoebe shakes her head. "No. I think I already know the general direction."
"As you wish."
She pushes past the guard and heads down the spiral staircase three stories into the Earth, where rock and stone and brick all blend to create a gloomy, dark atmosphere.
I've never been down here before. This horrid hellhole is where we keep the prisoners? It's filthy! Barbaric!
Her teeth grind noisily as an even more piercing scream rattles her innards. Still, it tells her to take a left when a two-way junction appears. Only a few torches line the walls, along with a few empty ones meant for lighting and carrying in the darkness. She takes one of the spares, touches it to a lit one, and continues onward.
Eventually, Phoebe arrives at a small room, and her eyes widen. A mixture of disgust and horror floods through her body as she stares at over ninety demons, all chained to the ceiling, their positions calculated so they can barely touch the floor with their toes. Her eyes instantly gravitate to the little girl from earlier, but then she follows the girl's gaze. A demon sits, strapped in a chair, his arms and legs little more than a bloody mush.
The demon male breathes weakly. His tongue lolls out of his mouth, and his head rolls around. He babbles incoherently, his voice a whisper. "Puh... puleese... hurt... stop... pluss... hurtsss..."
One of the guards raises a hammer and slams it down. The demon croaks as the guards smash one of his fingers into pulp. His hoarse voice reminds Phoebe of a donkey braying in pain.
She watches silently, her body trembling more and more as each hammer strikes batter his body. Finally, the guards give up when their hostage stops screaming. His head lolls back, and blood pours from his mouth.
Is that demon dead?! Phoebe's teeth chatter nervously. What is going on in these dungeons?! How could we unleash such wickedness, yet call ourselves agents of God?!
The guards eventually drag the beaten and bloodied prisoner away. For the first time in Phoebe's life, insecurity in herself and others boils up in her chest.
What purpose have I trained for? What side am I on? I thought the demons were the greatest evil in this world... but... but...
"Lady Berthold! We-he-hell, a pleasure to see you!"
A man's voice booms out from behind Phoebe. She nearly shrieks in fright, but instead opts to whirl around and stare at him, her eyes wide as saucers.
"M-mister- I mean, Sir Gallant?"
A fat, repulsive man leers toward her, his body covered in ill-fitting armor and far too much chest hair for anyone's liking. A badly trimmed mustache worms its way across his upper lip, like a corba searching for a meal. "Why, yes ma'am! That's me! Did you come to watch us flog these blood-skins too? I'll be damned. I had no idea you were that kind of lady."
Phoebe swallows hard and forces herself to calm down. "I... I came here... to, ah..."
"Heeey, no need to be shy! Come on in. We like to have good fun down here, if you know what I mean. Haha!"
Gallant walks past her and licks his lips as he stares at the fresh meat lined up against the wall. "Sweet Jesus, look at all these filthy sodding bloodsuckers. Each of 'em looks like a sweet chunk of beef just waiting to be tenderized. Haha!"
Gallant slams his boot into the closest male's genitals, then decks him in the face before the demon can yell out in pain. "Hahaha! Nothing better than defenseless blood-skins to let out a little anger. Wanna have a go? They can't hurt you none, not with those collars on."
Phoebe's eyes avoid the lower regions of the demons as she tries not to look at their exposed bodies too much. "N-no."
Instead, her eyes gravitate toward the collars around their necks. Cursed Necklaces. They sap the energy from demons and leave them unable to fight back. Demons can't remove the collars... only humans can.
Having served on the Round Table for several years, Phoebe knows full well the capabilities of Camael's divine artifacts. However, having never witnessed their usage in person, her stomach churns as she realizes how the prison guards use them.
Gallant continues walking the line before kneeling to stare at the little girl. Phoebe's heart pounds in her chest as he strokes her hair. "Aww. You look terrified, my delectable butterfly. You should be. We're gonna stick you in the Bull. Know what that is? Of course, you don't. It's a hollow metal animal that makes your screams louder. Then we're gonna cook you over a fire. If your pitiful shrieks don't convince everyone here to spill their secrets... hehe... nothing will."
As Sir Gallant strokes her hair, the little girl's older brother suddenly yanks on his chains, lifts himself by his chains, and delivers a kick smack into Gallant's face. The prison-master stumbles back and slams on his back, creating a scene of chaos among the nearby prison guards. He spits and sputters for a moment before hauling his fat ass up.
"Why, y-you piece of FILTH! You won't live to regret that!" He grabs a wooden club from the wall and wipes a drop of blood from his nose. Then, he charges at the girl's brother, but Phoebe suddenly steps in his way and knocks him to the ground yet again.
"Sir Gallant! I-is this how you act when a superior officer is watching?!" Phoebe's voice cracks slightly, but she forces herself to stand dominantly and tower over the man sitting on the floor. "I came here to inspect the dungeons, not to watch you unleash your fantasies on children!"
Gallant stares at her in surprise, then clamber to his feet once again. "I... I beg your pardon? I'm the bloody prison-master! I can do as I please to these filthy monsters! Have you any idea the horrors they committed against our brothers and sisters in the South? The bodies stacked higher than the huts!"
Phoebe falters. "Th-they did?"
Sir Gallant's nostrils flare. "Aye. So, before you let your feminine sensibilities get in the way of your duty, I advise you to remember what fiends you're dealing with."
Doubt appears in Phoebe's mind. However, the sound of the little girl's chains rattling behind her solidifies her convictions.
"I have my orders, Sir Gallant. I'm temporarily relieving you of your duty until we can evaluate your conduct and treatment of the prisoners."
Sir Gallant stares at her and gawks for several agonizing seconds. He clutches the club in his hand a little tighter. "You... you treacherous demon-loving whore... the King will hear of this treason!"
Phoebe swallows hard, but keeps her eyes locked on his. "That he will. Leave."
Snarling like a madman, Sir Gallant eyes Phoebe for a several moments before swearing under his breath and storming out of the room.
"You'll regret crossing me."
Phoebe's hands shake as she forces herself not to think about her actions. Keep moving, Phoebe. No time to waste.
After Sir Gallant the Brave storms away, Phoebe turns to face the little girl. "I'm sorry, child. I'm sorry the bad men treated you like that. Let me get those shackles off..."
Only now does she realize that she hasn't a clue how to do that. Luckily, the girl's brother coughs and nods across the room. "O-over there. The keys. Please, save my sister. Ose is a good girl. She doesn't deserve what those men are going to do to her."
Lady Berthold doesn't waste time in grabbing the keys and walking back over.
As soon as she unshackles the child, the girl slumps and falls into Phoebe's arms. Her tiny little body is weak from exhaustion. Phoebe's heart trembles as she picks the girl up in her arms. Ose whimpers. "Brother... don't leave my brother behind, please..."
Several of the other demons stare at Phoebe longingly. Take us with you, their eyes beg.
The last remaining succubus trembles. "Th-they took my friends. They're torturing Merle and Hana right now! You have to help them... you don't know what the guards do to captured succubi..."
"I can't. I can't." Phoebe glances across the room in the direction of the inner torture chambers. Only now does she recall the horror stories she's heard about nonstop rape and torture in the dungeons. Demon prisoners naturally receive far worse punishments than humans.
She chews her lip into shreds. "I can't save them. But... I'll try and save the women here. I'll do what I can."
Indeed, she glances around at the thirty shackled females and the nearly sixty males. I can't save everyone. If I walk out of the dungeon with all the captured demons, someone will stop me. If it's only the women, perhaps I can make up an excuse.
Nodding to herself, she quickly rushes around, releasing all of the women before pausing in front of the little girl's brother. He shakes his head. "Don't. If you release me, you'll have to release the other men as well. I don't deserve special treatment." Phoebe nods, but jumps onto a stool and unlocks his shackles anyway. He slumps a little but catches himself before falling.
"Hug your sister. Quickly."
The demon nods and takes his little sister from Phoebe. He presses her against his chest. "B-be strong, Ose. I'm sorry. I love you."
The girl weeps in his arms. "I love you too... don't stay... come with us! Come-"
He pushes her away and raises his arms again for Phoebe to shackle him. "No. I stay. The women leave. And to you, human... thank you."
Phoebe nods, as the sound of women screaming in the distance raises several alarm bells in her mind. "Alright. Little one, follow me. Ladies, line up. I have to bind your hands and chain you all together. If I don't, it will draw too much suspicion."
The demonesses glance at each other. We have to trust this human, their eyes say. Fearing the return of the guards, they quickly hustle into the line, with the little girl at the front. Phoebe tosses chains and cuffs to them, then strings the shackles along to their neck collars.
Not a minute later, they leave, their chains clinking as they walk. The little girl stares silently at her brother, and he nods back at her. "Be safe, little sister."
It takes Phoebe more than thirty minutes of walking at agonizingly slow speeds, but she still sighs in relief when the chained demonesses reach the spiral staircase. They climb the steps, forming a strange conga line.
After ten full minutes, Phoebe spies the top of the stairwell. The guard from before watches her pace up the steps, and he cranes his neck to see what's causing all the chain rattling noise. When he sees the line of women, his suspicion immediately rises. "Hey! What's going on here? Where are you taking all the demon whores?!"
Phoebe bites her lip and forces another lie out. "King Arthur's orders. I'm taking them to a different facility."
"Yeah? Did Sir Gallant sign off on this? I'm supposed to know who's coming and going!"
Phoebe rises to her full height, still an inch or two shorter than the lad. "Are you questioning King Arthur's orders? What's your name, guardsman? Perhaps I should tell Arthur you wish to be the new King, since you think your orders supersede his."
The youth's face pales again. "Oh, no! I meant no disrespect, milady. I... I'm just trying to do my job. That's all."
The little girl pushes to Phoebe's side as the guard's gaze fixes on her for a moment. Phoebe reaches back subtly and touches her hair. "Good. If you have a problem, I'll let King Arthur know about your complaint. Open the door for us."
The youth pauses for only a moment, sighing as he eyes the sultry nude red-skinned women. He takes a few steps and throws the door open, standing outside so they can leave. "As you wish."
Phoebe marches outside, the demon ladies in tow. She continues to amble along, so nobody will trip and fall. One woman gasps in surprise, and Phoebe turns back just in time to see the young guard smacking her bottom. "Move it, cutie! They're gonna looove you at the other camp! Haha. Damn shame, I couldn't have a turn before you leave. Maybe I can pay you a visit later, eh?"
Phoebe grits her teeth, but keeps walking. Bear with it. We have a long, long walk ahead of us. I don't know how in the hell we're going to get through town.
Indeed, Phoebe's lack of planning comes rushing to her all at once as she realizes they still have five miles of the village to travel through before she can safely release the women.
The guard stares at the prisoners for a solid twenty seconds before sighing and closing the door behind himself. The demoness closest to Phoebe, right behind the little girl, looks around worriedly. "What now, human? We're right next to the castle. Someone could see us at any moment."
Phoebe inhales, and her hand starts to tremble.
Oh god, oh god, oh god. What do I do? I can't believe myself. All this, and we could end up captured by guardsmen. Every second we spend waiting is another second that doom draws nearer.
Suddenly, from the side of the dungeon tower, a single figure steps out. Phoebe's heart pounds as she hears the heavy footsteps. When she whirls, she gapes in shock at Sir Percival. He stares back silently, first at her, then the demon women all chained together.
"I knew it. Lady Berthold... what are you planning? Why are half of the prisoners out here naked and chained up?"
Phoebe's mouth opens and closes several times as she tries to formulate an answer. "K-king Arthur- he told m-me to..."
"Lies." Percival strides over to Phoebe, and slowly his gaze lowers to the cowering child. "Dammit, Phoebe. Dammit. Now you've stepped in the shit."
Tears begin rolling down Phoebe's face. "P-Percival, please... they're helpless women. The things those men were going to do to them..."
Percival closes his eyes. "They're demons. Temptresses. They beguile men, and now you as well."
Despite the harshness of Percival's voice, something about his behavior strikes Phoebe as odd. She finds out why when he continues speaking. "Alright. I'll help you. Take the women to your house, just across the way. If someone spots you crossing the castle yard, you're on your own. I'll bring a horse and wagon, big enough to fit them all inside. Give me thirty minutes."
Phoebe stares at him in stunned silence for a moment, then nods. "I... thank you, Percival. I don't know why you're helping us, but-"
"I'm not helping the demons," Percival mutters. "I'm doing this for you. You're a kind woman. You will be punished horribly once the King finds out what happened. They might even execute you. The least I can do is make sure that your rescue operation isn't fruitless."
Percival strides away, unable to look Phoebe in the eye. She and the demons watch in stunned silence as he leaves.
The demoness behind Phoebe shakes her chains. "L-let's get a move on, then. We can't stand in front of the dungeon."
Phoebe nods, a sensation of loss looming in the back of her mind. "Right. Let's hurry."
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