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Power ranking the 22 teams expected to return to play

Return of the NBA is on the horizon, and with it, we're sure to be getting post lock-out power rankings.
So I'm going to start the conversation a little early and bring out my rankings for discussion.
I'm looking at where things stand NOW. Obviously between the trade deadline and all the injuries that teams have put up with in the regular season, I don't hold much stock in the results that we see in the standings at present. A lot of this is just what my gut says is true. Feel free to try to CMV, but just know that relying on regular season stats probably won't do much for me... bring an argument with postseason teeth.

Tier 1 - Expected Champion tier

(everyone here is about 20% to win it all, imo)
1.Los Angeles Lakers - Barely ahead of the other contenders because: 1) Bron and 2) the NBA is thirsty for Lakers success. That's a big fan base to want to keep involved for as long as possible. (memories of 2002)
2.Milwaukee Bucks - Above the Clippers because they were so good (even against the teams in the West), but if I had to put money on these 2 teams in a series, I'd have a hard time betting against LAC. Really going to need Bledsoe to show up this year to stand a chance.
3.LA Clippers - They are well rested, but haven't had a ton of time playing together. And now the schedule is going to be pretty crazy... won't be a lot of time to manage loads between games. That keeps them from being as high as number 1.
4.Houston Rockets - Best backcourt by far. If their MVPs are hitting shots, other teams can not keep up. After a season of injuries, they are ready to get to the only part of the year they ever cared about, well aware that this is likely the last chance for this core (considering the owner refuses to pay tax).

Tier 2 - Gonna need a lucky series or 2

5.Boston Celtics - Great coach, great depth, and Tatum finally started to show out as a guy that could be the best player on the court in a number of series.
6.Miami Heat - Going out on a limb a bit to suggest that what they have now is significantly better than what they had all year. Jimmy, Iggy, and Bam will make a fearsome defense... and yes, even better defense than the Wall in the North.
7.Toronto Raptors - Yeah, yeah. Sue me. I think they have maxed out so far and doubt there is another level to hit in the playoffs unless FVV has another kid. I don't trust Siakam to be better than guys on the other top squads in the East. I wouldn't pick them in a series past the first round.
8.Dallas Mavericks - Best offense in the NBA and a playoff-proven coach that will have his team ready to play. LAC better hope that Utah or OKC slip down to 7 in the last few games, because Dallas could catch them napping if the Clips aren't in a groove after the shortened season is finished.
9.Denver Nuggets - How is Dallas ahead of them? It's close, but nothing about Denver last year in the playoffs was very impressive, so I'm not sure why this year should be different.
10.Philadelphia 76ers - This team is a total wild card and could even be borderline tier one if they are all healthy and everything breaks perfectly for them in their bracket. If they can get Disney Resort feeling like 'home' then things could get crazy in the East.

Tier 3 - Gonna need a miracle

11.Portland Trailblazers - this may be too high, but I just feel like the team can be better than everyone below them now that they are finally at full health. Too little, too late, but I'd like to see the series with the Lakers... I think they could take a game.
12.OKC Thunder - No depth. Been very lucky with their Pythagorean wins. Don't expect that to be enough to actually win a first round series in the West unless they catch Denver sleeping.
13.Indiana Pacers - Are they really going to beat any of the other top East teams? I don't see it... convince me otherwise, though. Maybe if they get lucky they can get past the first round, but no way they can get past the second.
  1. Utah Jazz - I just don't think they have anything left now with all they have been through and the Bojan injury on top. Maybe if they can find a way to match up with Denver or OKC in the first round they can get lucky for one series, though.
15.New Orleans Pelicans - this may be too high, but I just feel like the team can be better than everyone below them now that they are finally at full health. Too little, too late, but I'd like to see the series with the Lakers... I think they could take a game.

Tier 4 - Lucky to be here at all

(whether because of an easy schedule, an easy conference, or the grace of Silver... I'm not going to waste time writing about them and barely wanted to take the time to rank them)
16.Memphis Grizzlies
17.Orlando Magic
18.Brooklyn Nets
19.Sacramento Kings
20.San Antonio Spurs
21.Phoenix Suns

Tier 5 - Seriously?

(these guys should not be here, but it will make life a little more interesting for whichever team loses more games between the Nets and Magic)
22.Washington Wizards
Edit: it seems as if a lot of people don't really understand what power rankings are. They are one person or committee's personal opinions of teams' strengths. If one wants to organize them by metric, there is a thing called 'the standings' which is helpful for attaining those ends. This is not based on regular season results, but merely my opinion of where teams currently stand. Power rankings are subjective by the very nature.
And for the many many Raptors fans specifically who believe I don't have faith in their current squad based off their rank let me link you to this to assure you that I am not biased against your team... I just don't think your top-end talent is quite as good as Boston's or Miami's. And that's okay. You're still close - just a notch below.
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[The Extramundane Emancipation of Geela, Evil Sorceress at Large] --- Chapter 6: A Tour of the Town in Search of One Jane Arlington (Fantasy, Comedy)

Sorry for missing Friday's update!! I ran into technical difficulties and missed the update. So here's the next one, one day early! I'll continue my 3/week post cadence on Wednesday. Thanks for reading!
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Eleven Jane Arlingtons. Eleven invites to meet up at eleven different shady locations at eleven different times.
All the invitations had been, naturally, extended by one Angelia Fantasimus.
Despite his emotional malaise, Darkos had a begrudging look of respect on his face. “How did you get them to buy it? Can you actually shapeshift like that?”
“Well sure but that’s…” She waved a hand. “Difficult. I didn’t actually invite any of the women.” Geela grinned. “Not directly. I just put on my worst makeup and did a little glamour charm to make my hair that gross shade of red she’s got going on. Did you notice it was dyed?”
“I did.”
“Exactly. So simple enough to fake.” It had actually been disturbingly easy to find where each of them worked. “Did you know that occupation is public information in the Swampy Region?”
“I did not.”
“Right, so not only can you find someone’s house if you know their name, you can also find what their job is and where they work.”
These kinds of garbage policies made Geela a real stickler for privacy. Her castle hadn’t been guarded by hydras, hexed caves, lakes of lava, and, of course, that damned kraken, for nothing. Visitors usually wanted to kill her.
“So you went to their workplace?” Darkos asked, listless.
She narrowed her eyes. How to keep him engaged… “Well, yes. I tracked down their schedules, not hard if you ask the right person the right questions, and was sure to leave my message when she wasn’t there.”
~~~
A redheaded woman with garish lipstick arrives at the Legion Gate Cafe at 11:15. The patrons sit around, sipping their drinks, either late-to-rise tourists or elites with nothing better to do. She walks up to a bespectacled man, washing a dainty teacup behind the counter.
“Excuse me,” Geela purrs. “Might you happen to know when a Jane Arlington will be on shift?”
“Oh dear, Jane? Hmm, yes, let me think.” The man peers at her, as if expecting the cafe’s schedule to appear on her face. “I think she’s in at 1. Maybe 1:30, to be safe.”
“Oh my.” Geela clasps a hand over her mouth. “I think I’m busy then. Can you leave a message?”
‘Jane,
She’s coming for you. That bitch Barney always talked about. You know the one. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t urgent but I have important information that I need to disclose. Meet me at The Quilted Hen/Baker’s Best Goods/The Cracked Turnip/Silver Spoon at exactly 11 AM/12 PM/1 PM…
It’s absolutely essential that we meet before you leave. A matter of life and death.
Angelia’
~~~
“That’s perfect.
“Isn’t it just? And I’m willing to bet that half of them will just straight up ignore it. Some might show up, curious, but one of them is just going to go ‘wait a minute, you’re not Angelia!’” Geela closed her eyes, reveling in the imagined voice of the befuddled woman. Maybe she’d have another screech like old Angie. Or maybe a simpering mewl.
Darkos nodded, lips still pursed in a glum pout. “So why the disguise if she wasn’t even supposed to be there?”
Geela shrugged. “If the coworker says ‘oh some beautiful blonde stopped by asking you to meet her’ no way is Ms. Arlington going to meet. But if he says, for example-”
“-lady with heavy makeup and auburn hair-”
“-bingo.” Geela inhaled deeply. “I just need to make all my stops. It’ll be tight but manageable. And who knows? Maybe she’ll bring Barney with her.”
“You’ll have to tell me about it when you get back in.”
His words sucked Geela’s glee away like an alchemical siphon cleaning up yet another one of her failed potions. “You’re not coming?”
He looked up at her with baleful eyes that would look more at home on their sad pack-mule than on a person. “I can’t. I’ll just be glum and ruin the whole thing.”
Geela wanted him there but couldn’t really argue with this. A grumpy peon just looked lame. It would make her look petty to have a minion whose heart clearly wasn’t into his mistress’s cause. Maybe for the ordinary folk, revenge was petty, but for a dark mistress such as herself, she needed the conviction of all present parties to really sell it.
“I can… delay the meetings?”
He laughed at this, a short, sharp sound, accompanied by no smile. Then, after a moment of silence, he did smile. “You could but you shouldn’t. It’ll be too much work. And I don’t know when I’ll feel better.”
He was absolutely right but that didn’t mean Geela had to like it.
“Well alright,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Sit around and mope. Try to at least get out of the suite though, once or twice. Go buy yourself a pastry or something.” She checked her pocket watch. “I have to get my beauty sleep now. First meeting is 7 AM.”
---
The nice thing about being an all-powerful being is that you got to make your own schedule. Of course, the downside to this is that when you’re forced to break it, it’s miserable.
Geela was not a morning person.
She had just enough courtesy left in her, waking up at the miserable hour of 6 AM, to not slam the door behind her while storming outside for her first meetup. No sense in waking Darkos, who was slumbering enviably in his soft little cloud of a bed. Meanwhile, Geela hadn’t had the time to comb her hair or wash her face and was the perfect picture of tragedy.
“Hi, welcome to Miss Teapot’s, can I get you a seat?” The dead-eyed stare of the hostess at the location of Geela’s first destination matched Geela’s near identically.
“Yes, table for two. Ideally somewhere out of the eye of other customers.”
The hostess glanced around the little pink shop with precisely six tables, all arranged in a circle around a big porcelain teapot. “Yeah, ok, uh. Hold up.”
Geela watched at the young woman walked over to one of the tables. Giving a big sigh, she grabbed it and dragged it, squealing, across the floor, over to a little window alcove. She repeated this action with each of the two chairs. Then she headed back over to Geela.
“Will that do?”
“Um.” Geela peered at the table. “It’s kind of noticeably out of the way. Maybe you could just adjust the other tables so it’s not as clear that one is missing?”
“Um. Ok, yeah. Sure.” If looks could kill, this waitress would be hailed as the greatest hero in the realm.
As it was, Geela felt perfect safe making a few more reasonable requests before she was satisfied with the positioning of the table.
“If a Jane Arlington arrives, tell her ‘Angelia’s over here’ and bring her to me, won’t you?” Geela tossed the woman a honeyed smile before taking her concealed seat. She’d give this Jane half an hour to arrive. If the woman wasn’t here by 7:30, odds are she wasn’t Barney’s Jane.
It was a crummy wait but at least they had tea and plenty of it. Geela needed something strong, with caffeine so she ordered black coffee, extra black, with two tea bags on the side. She didn’t play around when she needed a wakeup and the unfortunate hostess got the distinct pleasure of serving Geela’s particular tastes.
At 7:30, Geela shotgunned the rest of her tea, slapped a few coins on the table, and walked for the door. She noticed the hostess staring at her, thunderous eyed and jaw slack.
“I guess she couldn’t make it,” Geela said. The woman’s outrage was a better pick-me-up than any coffee would be, and despite being one Jane down, Geela was pleased with how the morning had started.
She met her first Jane at the 8 o’clock meeting place. Geela had arranged the spots to be close to each Jane’s house, to increase the likelihood of her showing. That meant this next one was clear out to the edge of town and Geela had had to run. The little store, hilariously misnomered ‘Uncle Ben’s Country Living’ was far from the hick hay-and-hitch farm she’d expected. It was the swamp after all, so hay didn’t exactly grow out here, but she wasn’t anticipating that it’d be a bait shop.
She arrived at the shop, panting and hoping that the highly sought after Jane wouldn’t be here. Geela was in no fit state to intimidate. She had a little transformation routine prepped, complete with flashing lights and barely concealed clothing change, but still didn’t want to be all out of breath.
It was a tick shy of 8 when she slammed open the door. The place smelled of bugs and slime mold, souring Geela’s mood further. Behind the counter, a portly man took her in, lips lopsided with disapproval and surprise.
“Don’t normally get people this excited ‘bout bait. You got the right place, ma’am?”
Geela waved him off. “Looking for Jane,” she said, steadying herself.
“Oh that’s me?” a tentative voice ventured. The owner of the voice was a young woman, if woman was even appropriate. Geela was a bad judge of ages but she’d wager this woman wasn’t a day above 18.
“If you aren’t the wrong person, then I’m really giving that bastard a piece of my mind.” Geela grit her teeth. Barney wouldn't dare. Not with this little thing.
“Um, I’m just here cause I got a letter saying something about life and death?” the girl looked nervous now, fiddling with a little charm on her necklace. “Are you Angelia?”
“Uh, kinda.” Geela straightened up and looked her over. “You seem moderately respectable. You wouldn’t happen to be hiding a dangerous, duplicitous man in your house, would you? Older guy. Balding. We’re talking 70s.”
“I live with my parents,” the girl said. “My dad can be a jerk but he’s not that old and… I’m just here cause the message said something about life or death.”
Not her, not a chance in hell. “It’s possible I have the wrong Jane Arlington.”
The girl wrinkled her nose. “Well, you aren’t the first, lady. At least Angelia’s kinda unique. You’re lucky.”
And that was that.
The nice part of the meeting being on the short side of short was that Geela had plenty of time to make her next destination. But the Waterfront Bakery didn’t yield any Janes and neither did the 11 o’clock meeting at Baker’s Best Goods.
12 o’clock, Silver Spook, Geela found a table in the far corner. This place, though sophisticated with its titular fine silverware, several spindly candles, and even halfway decent classical musicians, understood that some customers just didn’t want to be seen.
The Jane that joined her this time, moving to the table, eyes darting anxiously, was a much better candidate. With high cheekbones and silvery blue eyes, her face was easily pretty enough. She was a scrawny thing, though, looked like maybe she’d never seen the inside of a restaurant, and her dress, though well made, lacked any ornamentation. She just didn’t seem Barney’s type, but who knows?
“You’re Angelina Fantasia?” the woman said, voice a whispery slither. “You left a message with Brian. I’m not sure who Barney is, but if he’s the contact, then I’m ready with the goods at any time.” She fingered the smooth edges of her sleeves and jerked a sharp eye over her shoulder.
“Oh.”
“Has the dropoff zone changed? Or does Lord Regar know? Please tell me and I’ll move the weapons asap.” Her voice was almost too quiet for Geela to hear, but Geela had heard enough.
“Erm, I’m not sure this is what I came for,” she said. She pushed away her glass of wine (it was a bit too early to be drinking and Geela didn’t much care for the drink, but she always felt sophisticated sipping it). “It was lovely meeting you.”
“No! No, I’m serious, Ms. Fantasia, please. I’ll have them ready for you. I even have the sparkle noodles, ready to go. Three pounds of it. Please, I won’t let you down.”
The woman’s voice grew higher, if not louder, as Geela grabbed as many breadsticks as she could, not having had time for lunch to come. “Nope, actually, I’m good. Sorry to have wasted your time.” Sparkle noodles were nasty drugs, especially when crafted by hands as unsteady as this Jane’s. No doubt all her customers would be tripping on some hellish cloud for hours upon taking some.
“Please!”
“Look,” Geela hissed, shoving the last of the bread into her bag, “I’m not Angelina. The name was Angelia—I’m not even sure how you mixed that up—and really, that’s not even my name. You are a terrible smuggler and I hope Angelina fires you before you blow up her whole operation.”
The woman’s face blanched at Geela’s words. “Oh no. No no no. Damnit. What do I do?”
“Really not my business. Have a nice day, Ms. Arlington.” Geela rose from her seat, bristling as she walked briskly to the door. Of all the things she’d stooped to back at school, drug dealing was never one of them.
The next business was The Crusty Crust. Geela had so wanted to avoid this place on its name alone, but sadly, it couldn’t be helped. It one of two businesses close to Jane #5 and the other one, the Gentleman’s Scissor, was a men’s only barbershop.
The streets around the pie shop smelled of sewage and the lingering dampness was already unbearable before she even entered the damn place. The pie shop smelled even worse. The stench was somehow stronger than the bait shop earlier and Geela held back a gag. How someone could even purchase something edible here was beyond Geela. Maybe the barbershop upstairs would have been the better option.
Please please don’t let this be the place.
“Wait a minute, you’re not Angelia!”
Damnit.
Geela rounded on the woman, eyes still watering a bit at the stench. “I’m not surprised that such a sorry excuse for a woman would live in the worst part of town,” Geela said. She raised her hands with a flourish and immediately her shoddy disguise, the red melting from her glittering blond hair, which arranged itself in a majestic sculpture atop her head. The rough-hewn dress turned to vivid green embroidered with silver and as the makeup washed off her face, revealing flawless golden skin, a delicate blue and green mask manifested, resting on the upper half of her face, to prevent her visage from being revealed.
Jane staggered backward. The woman was definitely younger than Angelia, probably in her 20s, short and curvy. Her plump, saucy lips dropped open in shock. She fell to her knees, quaking.
“Who-who are you?” Her voice was neither the brassy drawl nor the simper that Geela had expected. It was a pathetic whine and Geela was starting to wonder why Barney associated with such irritating women.
“Does the name Ja’Eel Scilatia bring anything to mind?” Her own voice now was a higher, crueler sound, one that might better accompany a haughty queen. This was among her favorite costumes.
“Oh dammit. Oh kitten of heaven protect me.”
Hidden behind her mask, Geela’s nose wrinkled. “Then you know why I’m here.”
“Yes.” The woman fell onto her face, a position so submissive that it soothed Geela’s ego a bit. “If I had known, I never would have let him stay. As soon as he told me who his ex-wife was, I gave him the boot.”
“You gave him the-” Geela caught herself before swearing. “So he isn’t here anymore.”
“N-no m’lady. I kicked him out as soon as I knew.” Jane peered up at her from the ground.
Geela sighed. “Your integrity is commendable,” she said, her voice flat. “If irritating. Would you happen to know where he is now?”
“No. I apologize, I’m so sorry, I didn’t think to ask. I was outraged. I didn’t even know he’d been married when we—” the woman stopped at the poison in Geela’s eyes. “Oh forgive me, dark lady, I didn’t know! I didn’t know! Oh sweet Purrmow, God of Heaven, protect me.”
So, this was another of Barney’s little toys. This woman’s common sense and bare-bones integrity, however, now stood in Geela’s way. Why had Jane’s sole display of moral fiber spurred her to banish Barney?
“So you enabled a dirt bound sod to betray his mistress? It seems that alone is worth punishment if you cannot provide me with something more.” Geela was lashing out needlessly and she knew it but it just felt good.
Jane wailed. “He didn’t tell me he’d been married til he arrived! I didn’t know!”
Geela resisted the urge to massage her temples. “Did he give you any hint?”
Jane sobbed freely now. “He said that he was seeking out a figure from your past. One whose name you would remember well and quake in fear of. I can only imagine a queen of your stature would have many such enemies.”
“You think that someone of my stature would have many enemies that leave me quaking in fear?”
Just when Geela thought the woman couldn’t grow more pitiful, she began beating her back in a sign of some kind of penance.
“Alright, no, stop that. That’s not helping anything.” Geela’s mind turned from the weak-willed waif to a more pressing concern. One that you would remember well and quake in fear of. Regardless of what Jane thought, there were precious few that fit that bill.
Could it be Noirela? Geela shook her head sharply, banishing the thought. Even letting her mind slip to the fiend’s full name was enough to rake her body with shivers. Noire. It could be Noire. Oh please don’t let it be Noire.
Jane had quieted a bit by now, still whimpering. Geela really ought to curse her, find some way to leave her mark, lest the woman boast at surviving unscathed…
“I hope that you remember this time, this place, well. For the next month, you will be plagued by its smell.”
It wasn’t much, given the pie shop was only slightly worse than the rest of her neighborhood, but it was enough to make the woman choke back another sob. “Oh please no.”
“Oi, what’s wrong the smell of me pies!”
Geela turned, forgetting all about the storekeeper. The man crossed his arms, apron stained with any number of unnervingly unidentifiable liquids. He shifted uneasily under her gaze.
“Some folks like ‘em, is all I meant. I can leave you with one if you’re interested?”
Geela opened her mouth for a moment, trying to find a way to word exactly why this was a terrible time to push a product. Then she closed it. There was no fitting punishment for this man. His lot in life was enough.
“I take my leave of this place.” Geela strode to the door, opening it with a flourish.
She walked down the road until she was sufficiently out of eyesight. Then she ducked into an alleyway and changed back to her simple dress, minus the red hair and makeup. Alone now, except for a few rats, Geela leaned her head back against the wall. Really, if Barney did reach out to Noire, it’s possible, likely even, that the void fiend would fully consume his soul, feed it to its spawn, before Barney got a single favor out of the deal. After all, Barney wasn’t particularly strong, strength-wise, constitution-wise, intelligence-wise, wisdom-wise… He was charismatic, apparently, but that was it. And he was old now. Unlike Geela, he never stopped aging. Not that Geela had ever cared. Looks mattered when it came to her or someone whose visage she had to compete with, but otherwise, it was a nonissue. Certainly a nonissue with spouses.
No, it’s just as possible that Barney sought out one of her long defeated foes that had given her a run for her money. Hell, maybe he summoned up old Berta and died in a pool of his own blood. The image made her smile. This new information called for a reconvening at her castle. She could call up some of her minions and have them keep an eye on her past enemies. Of course, she’d have to get in touch with Berta, but the two had parted on alright terms, if a showdown with a barely twenty-year-old apprentice, mad with power, that blew up half the academy could be considered good terms. Still, Berta hadn’t really been involved, so maybe that conversation could be civil.
Geela spent the rest of her walk back to the Broken Drum pondering over which ‘old friends’ she needed to ‘catch up’ with.
She found the suite in some form of disarray. Darkos must have taken her advice to ‘get out of the suite once or twice’ because there were books everywhere and even more pieces of parchment, strewn with messy ink. Darkos lay on the floor, snoring loudly, face resting on a long sheet of drying ink, stains all over his face. Sympathy and irritation battled each other in Geela’s mind before she sighed and began stacking the books. The words ‘alerion?’ and ‘god of peace’ and ‘healing’, ‘prayers’, ‘temples’ were scrawled all over the room.
She’d just finished the first stack when Darkos woke with a jolt. “Alerion?”
“Not here, I’m afraid.” She dusted her hands off, looking at the cleaner room. “You wanna finish picking up this mess? I found Jane Arlington, by the way.”
He nodded, sniffing and rubbing his eyes. “Sorry, sorry, I was trying to induce a state of—wait you said you found her?”
Geela smiled, straightening her shoulders. “Yes. I’m going to go take a shower, clean off some of the swamp smell, and then I’ll tell you what I found. Just… clean this up while I’m in there and put the kettle on, won’t you?”
The mess continued inside the washroom. Geela stepped in, face contorted in displeasure, looking at more papers and ink spilled. There were even words and runes and little prayer verses scribbled on the walls. She kicked the door shut behind her and looked up at the mirror, to see what damage the humidity had done to her hair.
What she saw froze her in terror. Not her hair, not the mess in the bathroom, not even the sweat stains under her arms.
No, what froze her were the words written on the back of the door.
NOIRELA
Her chest seized and for a moment she was struck breathless.
“Darkos!” she shrieked. “Darkos what the hell are you doing? Get in here right now!”
The room spun a bit as she stared at the reflection of the door, of the name of her once loathed Patron staring her straight in the eyes. She could feel the void inside her shifting to greet it and shut her eyes, blinking rapidly.
“Geela?” Darkos opened the door and for a moment the cursed name was out of her vision. “I’m sorry. Back at the temple, we’d induce frenzied states of studying so I kind of lost myself.”
“And that spurred you to write cursed words across this room?” The words held so much venom that Darkos’s face crumpled in shame.
“I’m not sure what you mean. They’re just verses-”
She slammed the door, never breaking eye contact with Darkos. “Tell me what that is doing on the door.”
He looked at the door and then back at her. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m not surprised. Understanding has been the absolute worse thing you were ever good at. But scrawling that into the door, when you know my history, when you know—you know—I don’t even know how you know that word-”
“Geela, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
She took several deep breaths, grabbed the sides of his cheeks, and forced him to look at the door.
“That…” her words died down in her throat.
On the back of the door read the word ALERION.
The two stared at it. Then back at each other.
Then, slowly, to the mirror.
NOIRELA
Back to the door, back to each other, back to the reflection.
Back to each other.
“Darkos you are so fucked.”
To all of you who theorized that there was something up with 'Alerion' (especially godofwoof who called that it had something to do with his name)...
Yup! XD
Next Chapter
As always, huge shout out to vren, my beta reader. He's responsible for more than just line edits, he helps me keep my plot straight and my characters developing. If you like this story, you'll love Fractured Song, his serial!
Love y'all.
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Honest critique of first chapter of novel – halp? (4500 words, unusual setting)

For over a year I've been voluntarily underemployed so I have extra time to draft a novel. I feel super lucky to have this opportunity, and it has been rewarding in many ways. But sometimes treading water professionally (and, to an extent, financially) seems ill-advised.
Now, I face a decision: keep doing this for a little while longer or get back to full time work. Because of how work has shaken out, I'm at a natural crossroads.
The writing has been harder than expected, and slower! For a long time there was a huge gap between what I was producing and what I wanted to produce. My zero draft was a plotless mess. I’ve since re-engineered my plot and the first 20k words of my first draft is better, but still… based on my experience so far, I’m not sure I have the potential to get to publishable quality. (I know getting published is a moonshot, but that's the dream, isn't it? :))
I’d love feedback on my writing to help, in part, inform my professional decision-making. What can I improve? Does it show enough potential to keep going? Experienced voices particularly valued.
I guess I’d also be open to recommendations of quality development editors that could provide this sort of feedback or general tips for finding writing mentorship.
TLDR: I’d love a reality check on my writing before I make some professional choices

**

[First chapter after the prologue]
Unnamed valley, Halk Sher’s summer pasturage
Frinlul
There was a place near a low point in the ridge above camp where the wind always swept through the pistachio grove. On hot summer days Yennis would go up there and dunk his head in the spring, then sit in the cool shade of the pistachio trees, letting little jumping spiders crawl over him and neglecting his flock. When he grew bored he would gather bright pink bush flowers which made a tea that settled the stomach, knowing they would delight his grandmother.
Other times he would follow his flock further up the rocky terraces to where ruins sprawled out beneath small cliffs. He had stumbled upon it one day going up the slope: first a pillar, then a free-standing tomb on a pedestal, then a sprawling necropolis. This, his cousins told him, was a city of the dead, and best avoided so as not to disturb resting souls.
But the goats didn’t seem bothered, and neither was he. He’d occasionally lay on the floor of his favorite open-sided tomb, looking at the engraved ceiling, squares of beautiful people whose faces were perfectly symmetrical, flowers, and other decorations. Each of the squares was rotated a different way. He’d study them from first one angle, then another.
Laying there, he liked to imagine spirit arms reaching up from underneath him and drawing him down inside the tomb. He’d picture walking the same path as his father and siblings. He wanted to know which way they had gone, after the Disfigurement. The Singitans and Ackmanians said that spirits became part of the vault of the sky and lived forever, whereas his people said they percolated down to the dark roots of the Ash Tree to await their next incarnation. The sprawling necropolis, with its images of horned animal Gods escorting figures into a ripple-wracked pond and then out the other side, suggested something different.
One day he had climbed higher than usual, past where goats rested in the gnarled, rooted shade of a bower of trees, to the base of the cliffs. Perching on a flat-topped boulder, he watched his flock while whittling a wood charm for Koancha. Down in the green-carpeted bottomlands, the black tents of halk Sher peeked through a copse of apricots. Specks of goats grazed among scattered oaks on an otherwise barren-looking hillside on the far side of the valley. Beyond, snow-veined peaks. It was a good place, halk Sher’s valley, Yennis thought. Peaceful. Never mind that he’d already lost one of his flock when the others were milking so well.
Perhaps Murar had been wrong and the klinic here were benevolent.
When Yennis’s family had been in early negotiations between halk Sher and halk Murar, Murar had warned them about Sher’s valley. “Bad lomoru, everyone knows, that’s why no one else goes there.” Eyes glinting conspiratorially, nodding for emphasis. Asked about the charge much later when they’d arrived in high camp, Sher had glanced up toward the myciiaradia that loomed like sentries in the cliffs above and made a disinterested gesture to avert bad luck.
Yennis turned and faced the myciiaradia, rock-cut tombs suspended like four grey, decayed teeth within the tan expanse of the cliff. From here, so close, he could see details within the temple-like facades: the fire motif on the columns flanking the door panels; the open-mouthed faces decorating the mantle frieze. It was easy to see why people considered the Dark Tombs unlucky. There was something foreboding about them despite their obvious grandeur.
Two additional myciiaradia, smaller and more modest, were half-hidden to the left, tucked back where the cliff rounded in on itself. He thought of these as “his” tombs because they had been a surprise to Yennis when he first saw them. Perhaps they could be spied from certain angles on the far side of the valley, but to see them well from this side you had to hike past the necropolis almost over the Southern pass. Few passed this way.
These two tombs, in their privacy, embodied all that he loved about the apartness of the necropolis, one of the only places where he didn’t fear someone grimacing at him, ignoring him, laughing at him, mocking him. To rest here was like immersing himself in the forgiving teal depths of a river bend where he could float and forget himself. Sometimes he thanked the dead for this gift, when he heard their gurgling whispers near.
Admiring the two smaller tombs, Yennis noticed a deep shadow on a lower door panel of the left one. Had that always been there? He wasn’t sure, didn’t think so.
He sprang up, clamored down, and loped over, springing from boulder to boulder. From a close vantage the shadow resolved itself into a small window boring into the rock. He scrambled across talus to stand directly beneath the tomb and craned his neck back. Nothing was visible save the lower ledge of the myciaaradia, 15 feet above, and the stone beam of the mantle frieze 15 feet beyond that.
The wall to the lower ledge was overhung and featureless. Hm. He paced back and forth. Stepped back, considered. Noticed the thin shelf linking this tomb to its twin and walked over beneath the other. There! A series of indentations in the wall forming a hand-and-toe-hold trail.
Yennis approached the wall and, after a second’s consideration, placed his right hand in a pocket above his head. The grip was good. He contorted his left leg up, jammed his foot in the pocket, and levered up. The scree below threatened twisted limbs and lacerations, but the climbing was easy. A few moments later he pulled himself over the narrow tomb ledge.
He stood, his heart beating fast as he allowed himself to glance back over where he’d come up and consider how much more difficult going down might be.
The climbing route had deposited him on the far edge of the myciaaradia’s facade. He skirted around a column, perilously close to the edge, in order to stand within touching distance of the twin door panels. These stood double-height, their slate grey smoothness suggesting they had been carved in place rather than quarried elsewhere.
In the center of each panel, anchored within the rock, gaped two tiny, ghoulish skulls: mushroom cap forehead; black eyes painted within indented eye sockets; lacuna of a nose; bottom jaws positioned into an open-mouthed scream.
Yennis sucked in a breath. Damn, he thought, his body suddenly heavy. Should he really be up here? He’d always felt spirits as distant presences, the veil hanging too heavy for them to reach through, but it suddenly seemed possible that the tombs might be protected not just by spirits but a klinic. (And even the question of spirits wasn’t totally settled. The spirits of his father and siblings remained stubbornly unreachable, but he couldn’t discount others, not after that night he and halk Murar had witnessed a migration of spectral antelope in the sky overhead, silent except for the tinkle of breath vapor.)
The truth was, he simply didn’t know what protected the myciaaradia.
“Oh tomb guardians, I come to see, not to take,” he proclaimed loudly. Robbing the dead was the basest form of theft. The eyes in the baby skulls stared at him darkly. Everything stood as motionless as it had for generations.
People said that spirits tipped the scales of things that might happen anyhow, like rockslides, or falling. Yennis was extra careful as he skirted the next column and considered how to traverse the narrow ledge that led to the sister tomb.
He stepped his left foot out on the ledge, facing the wall, and reached around with his left hand until he found a solid hold. Good enough. He carefully shuffled his feet along and repeated the process until his right hand around the corner of the myciiaradia was his only firm grip. Exhale and release. His right hand scrabbled blindly for a hold on the face, afraid to lose his balance by turning his head when he was pressed so tightly into the wall. Fingers finally connected with the crack they had been seeking.
Breathe.
It got easier as he went, and soon he was standing safely within the facade of the far tomb. The bottom left door panel was set aside and a crawl space beckoned beneath another pair of baby skulls.
He paused.
“I come only to see,” he mollified tomb guardians, then got down on hands and knees and crawled in, placing his hands carefully to avoid scorpions. Inside it was cold and dark and he could no longer hear the bleating of the goats to one another or the cooing of the doves.
At the end of a short tunnel he stood in dusty darkness and waited for his eyes to adjust. The vague shape in front of him began to resolve itself into what he suspected might be a stone coffin, but it was too still dark to see well. He stepped aside to allow more light through and studied the panel footing the coffin, which was the only thing vaguely visible. Two curved shapes like scimitars arced outward from a human figure whose eyes sparked with some faint otherworldly light. He crouched down, felt the jeweled, luminous eyes, then the rest of the face. His hand encountered smoothness where he had expected a nose and something tightened within him. Confused, tracing further, he realized the central figure was in fact two faces in profile, two figures back to back, each wielding a blade.
“We fight two wars, Yennis, the one within and the one without” a memory of his father’s voice came unbidden.
A shiver coursed through him. He crawled back out of the tomb, turning to consider the black-mouthed entrance.
When he got home that night, over khatel pipes, he spoke to his cousin in low tones. “Bring your flock up to the myciaaradia tomorrow. I’ve got something to show you,” he told Far as they smoked.
Far grinned at him sideways from beneath bushy eyebrows. “Ah, fantastic, I knew you were up to something up there! Wait, don’t tell me, you found a pile of anir and we’ll be buying ourselves handsome new flocks and a camaffe’s load of khatel. Brother, what I wouldn’t give for something half decent!”
Yennis laughed companionably. They stood in the peaceful lull of civil twilight, their day’s work finally done. Overhead the sky had faded to the dark blue that presaged true night.
“I think you’ll like it… As long as you don’t believe those old wives’ tales you’ll like this,” Yennis said by way of warning and challenge. He knew Far, like the other halk members, was uneasy about the myciaaradia.
“Ha, you know I love those wives’ tales, but I love you more, ‘cuz,” Far said, ashing his pipe onto a flat stone. “Let’s go early, or spend the night out. I don’t want to stress the gals with too much heat. Early is better, I think. Should I bring anything?”
Yennis smiled, pleased and expectant.
They were up with first light, air still deliciously cool. As they ushered their flocks up the slope patchy clouds became a rippled sheet stretching from horizon to horizon, placid but vaguely threatening. By the time they were almost to the necropolis drizzle was falling and the eastern sky was angry grey. “We should head down, ‘cuz, in case it really storms,” Far said. Thunder rumbled. They retreated a half mile before rain pelted down in heavy sheets and forced them to crouch under a rock. When it stopped they spent hours finding and cajoling goats that had dispersed to assorted shelters.
“Well, what now, Yen?” Far asked when they were done. Spots of sun dappled the hillside.
“There’s still plenty of day left,” Yennis replied, looking toward the tombs.
They ushered their flocks up to the necropolis, passing among the ruins, but as they approached the pair of hidden myciaaradia they heard a crash and voices yelling. They looked at each other in confusion. The voices, the open tomb... Yennis had a sinking feeling of realization. “Fucking Ackmanian scum, I bet,” he muttered.
They left their goats and crept quietly up the hill to hide behind a bush and survey the scene. There were five men, Ackmanian miners, laughing and yelling, drunk. Two stood on the ledge of the left secret myciaaradia lowering down loot from the tomb to the others below. A camaffe browsed pistachio leaves nearby.
White hot anger coursed through Yennis as one of the men on the ledge paused to piss on the door panel of the myciaaradia, boasting as he tried to shower the baby skull with a stream of urine.
The Ackmanians colonized, degraded, and defiled Frinlul in every possible way!
“"We should raise a host to cut off their hands," Yennis hissed to Far.
"Ha! There's only three men in the halk right now, since Kao and Mukrir are grazing. Tomorrow there could be eight or nine of us. But…” he trailed off doubtfully. Justice was a conditional, delicate thing. They didn’t know where the Ackmanians were camped, or how many there were. Even if they did, there was little chance that the others of halk Sher would want to risk a raid on armed Ackmanians over something like this. Far gave a low growl of frustration. “Those cockroaches!”
A dangling amphora twirled desperately close to a sharp rock before one of the Ackmanians caught it. He showered his companions with obscenities.
Yennis looked on in horror. He had thought of these tombs as his secret. The mere presence of these miners felt like trespass, the mugging of the tomb a palpable violation. But he was powerless. What could two teenage Kelino Frinlite shepherds do to stop five Ackmanian miners?
So Yennis and Far watched, whispering and seething, as the Ackmanians finished. Soon enough they were sprawled out in the sun drinking.
Far rolled onto an elbow to look at Yennis. “I’m going to go talk to them,” he said, and began to get up.
Yennis yanked him back to the ground. “What?” he hissed.
The people of halk Sher told a joke about a man named Dari slaughtering a crazy goat for repeatedly interrupting lovemaking. Far’s brow furrowed. “I told you, ‘cuz, I’m going to talk to them. Dari didn’t kill the goat the first time around, right?” Far removed Yennis’s hand, rose, and strode over toward the miners. Yennis was aghast. Why would Far walk into such a fraught situation?
Ho! Far yelled in friendly greeting when he got close.
The Ackmanians seemed surprised, irritated, slightly wary of sharp horns. But Yennis watched in wonder as Far’s humor and easy manner pierced the Ackmanians initial suspicion so deftly that, within a few minutes, they were all drinking together. He only caught snippets of the conversation but he could read the laughter of the men as clear as any story.
Incredible. It was as if Dari’s goat had gotten up on its hind legs and started dancing.
But Far’s charm had limits. Far gestured towards the tombs and, even from his distance, Yennis could see it was as if a chill wind had blown through. Far made some conciliatory gestures, still laughing, but the Ackmanians weren’t friendly anymore. One spit as Far turned to leave.
Far returned to the bush by a circuitous route. "Assholes. They said they'd kill me if I told anyone," Far said, laying down besides Yennis.
“Hm. They didn’t agree to put everything back where they found it and go home?” Yennis replied drolly.
Far responded with an off-color quip that caused Yennis to choke back involuntary laughter.
The men were part of a crew of wildcat miners working an anir seam on the far side of the pass, Far said. They would probably camp here and break open the other tomb tomorrow, though he wasn’t sure. “Maybe they are drunk enough now.” He’d tried to dissuade them from robbing the second mine with warnings of a klinic, but it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“Lice,” Yennis spat. “Well, you tried... I guess we should get back to the flock.” Some injustices you simply bore. It was a lesson he’d learned early and well.
Far looked at him queerly, anger still smouldering in his expression. “You’ve been learning from Koancha. Can you do something to scare them? Put horns on your head and pretend to be a klinic? I think you could frighten them.”
Yennis froze as he realized what Far was suggesting. His expression fell.
“I… I don’t think so,” he said numbly.
Far cocked his head slightly but made no response.
The Disfigurement was the one thing they never talked about, by unspoken mutual agreement. 'You look me in the face without flinching and act as if nothing has changed; in return, I offer my loyalty.' These had been the de facto terms they had lived by for eight years. Yennis had thought this was the agreement.
Apparently not anymore. He felt betrayed, first in a sharp, bitter way, and then, as he thought more, in a dull, resigned way.
In truth, Far’s idea represented their only good option to bring justice to the Ackmanians. Though to make it work he’d have to execute perfectly. If not, they Ackmanians might laugh at him, or kill him, depending. He considered the resources near at hand. A sheep’s carcass, the magi that pooled in the roots of an oak down in the necropolis.
“Fine,” Yennis said, scowling. Far nodded and gave the rueful smile of someone who’s overpaid for a thing they need.
Fear coursed through Yennis as he readied the trick, stripping off his shirt, affixing stinking sheep horns, and then descending to the gnarled oak, where a bird’s bath bubbled and hissed among twisting roots long since marbled purple-black by its power. He hummed an ancient tune, sculpting a bit of the magi to his will and suspending it so it floated like a quicksilver ball a few inches above his hand. Working with raw magi like this was dangerous. He had to move quickly, lest his concentration fail. He climbed toward the cliffs, then turned and approached the miners.
Yennis had thought carefully about how he would appear to the Ackmanians. First, they heard an ominous polyphonic hum coming from the direction of the cliffs. Startling from their cups, they saw a horned figure backlit by the sun: a lanky, almost bird-like body adorned with Godhorns, thin as a boy but with the dimensions of a warrior; a spear in one hand and glistening ball of purple magic suspended above the other; and a horrifically ruined face, like something was consuming it nose-first from within.
“Run! Leave the possessions of the dead! Or be destroyed!” the thing thundered. Its voice was like a rockslide and the scream of a fox, tones layered on top of each other with such force that it loosened something within their chests. The ball of magic pulsed ominously and burgeoned into a lattice.
A klinic risen from the dead to wreak vengeance upon them! Or, even more terribly, a demonsinger possessed by a wrathful spirit! Two of the men ran straight away, heedless. The other three begged for mercy as they frantically unloaded loot from their packs and loosed the white-eyed cameffe, which bolted immediately.
“Go now!” the thing screamed impatiently as the lattice of magic expanded further. The men ran, stumbling and tripping, and were gone.
Behind them Yennis anchored his spear and yelled as he shattered the lattice of magic onto the ground. It hissed where it hit the earth, ejecting clouds of dust and pebbles a few inches into the air. The strange pattern of suspended detritus hovered and danced like a swarm of bees for a minute before settling.
After, Yennis and Far gathered up the scattered treasures as they could, a strange silence laying heavy upon them. Yennis could feel Far’s awe, sudden and unfamiliar, and felt an acrid satisfaction that he recognized as the twin of his earlier betrayal.
Mostly, though, he was simply too tired to do anything beyond what duty required. Of all the men in the necropolis he had perhaps been the most scared, and had the most to fear. The spell had taken him dangerously close to the falls, far closer than he’d ever been before.
Yennis noticed a glint of light amongst the shards of a shattered amphora. A jeweled amulet. It seemed strangely familiar when he picked it up, and he realized it was one of the scimitar wielder’s eyes from the base of the tomb coffin. He placed it in his shoulder-slung pocket so that he could find it easily when it came time to reset it within the stone setting.
The shepherds used an abandoned rope to hoist two amphora and a bag of precious goods onto the myciaaradia’s shelf. Far momentarily balked on entering the tomb before realizing that he’d be sending in Yennis alone if he refused. Whether out of loyalty or machismo, he reluctantly caved. They lit the oil of their horn lamps and crawled in.
Entering, they stood and took in the scene. The tomb was simple, just a square room with a stone coffin. But the frescoes were mesmerizing. A line circumscribed the room at shoulder height. Above the line were hunting scenes, queens and kings, familiar domestic tableaus. These were depicted with fading colors and assured lines in the same style as the images in the necropolis. Below the line the style was entirely different: abstract sketches of spirits, klinic, and Gods in green and purple. The dividing line symbolized the veil between the physical world and the echoplane, Yennis realized with a hopeful jolt. Did that mean there were answers here, among the strange images, to the question of where his father and brothers had gone?
A creature with the body of antelope and the face of a baboon was afforded prominent place within the lower section of the tableau. Horns like tree branches sprouted from its head, suggesting godhood. The Kelino god Onwaru, the Balancemaker. It was woven into a larger web of patterns, including three circles that straddled the veil, perfectly bridging the worlds of the living and the dead. A crowd of figures clustered within one circle; an owl fought a raven in another; the third was crowded with symbols.
He leaned in to study the owl-raven circle more closely. Through some optical illusion the purple and green patterns appeared to shimmer and dance like ripples. A dark space beckoned underneath and between them. He had not smelled the geosmin scent of wet sandstone for many years but he suddenly smelled it now. With it came an evocative slip of memory: laying out on the sun warmed rocks beside a mountain stream, his cheek pressed against the stone, his family’s laughter.
It had been so long he’d almost forgotten about scent. How it could sweep you away.
The feeling faded after a moment and left a yawning hole. He would have stayed in that memory forever, if he could. He peered at the same place in the patterns and was once again thrust back to the streamside rock for a moment. He repeated this again, and again. Each time the feeling lingered a little bit longer, until he began to get lost in it. He wasn’t quite sure whether he stood in the tomb or lay beside the stream. He had the sensation of drowning in a dream, but was he six years old, laying streamside in the sun, or fifteen, standing in a tomb? Surely...
Two wars, Yennis. A memory of his father’s voice. He hesitated, stepped back. Shook his head in amazement at the full scope of the fresco. “Holy Gods,” he whispered.
Far, who had been equally engrossed in another picture, jolted to attention as if woken. He turned to Yennis, wide-eyed, his eyes darting around the tomb.
“We shouldn’t be here. Come on,” Far grabbed Yennis’s arm and dragged him toward the crawl tunnel, Yennis hardly resisting, the bags of stolen loot left where they'd been placed. As soon as Far had spoken Yennis felt a stifling closeness to the air and his ears rang with a low rumble at the very edge of hearing, growing louder by the moment.
Outside, Far took great heaving breaths as if he’d been underwater. “We have to close it up,” he said. Between the two of them, they wrestled the stone door panel back into place. Finally, Far seemed to relax back into himself. He looked at Yennis intensely.
“Yennis. You can’t go back in there. You have to promise me,” Far begged, a naked plea so uncharacteristic of their friendship that for a moment Yennis was entirely disarmed.
Far feared him, Yennis realized, but also feared for him. Far understood better than he had that Yennis need not go over the falls to be swallowed by the necropolis.
“Okay,” Yennis said, feeling small and vulnerable. “I promise.” Even as he spoke he thought of the frescoes and felt the sharp pain of loss. He’d seemed so close. He lowered his eyes, ashamed, and noticed both knees bleeding.
Far studied him and nodded, seemingly appeased. “Alright. I’m hungry for some halvi,” he said, inclining his head in the direction of halk Sher. “How about you?” Yennis nodded. Far grinned and began the traverse to the sister tomb.
As Far traversed the ledge, Yennis’s hand reached into his shoulder-slung pocket. A coldness pressed into his left palm. He’d forgotten to return the amulet! he realized with horror. He snuck a glance. Even in daylight the luminous amulet of the scimitar-wielder’s left eye shimmered with some internal essence, as if a faint echo of lightning was captured within.
Yennis considered a moment. He turned to the skulls anchored into the tomb doors and reached out a hand to place the amulet within an eye socket. Someone could remove it easily, but few would be so bold. Those who would might well rob the interior tomb.
Take it, Yennis heard a voice whisper. He froze. His eyes roamed the wall, trying to find the source.
Take it and go, the voice came again, intimately close, as if murmuring in his ear. It is yours. For your help. The susurrus of a breeze caressed the cliff face and rustled the pistachio leaves in the necropolis below.
“Thank you,” Yennis said quietly, as he slowly stepped backwards. “What are you…?” he added, a hanging question.
In the near distance, doves chortled over the faint hum of grasshoppers. Yennis strained to hear something more, but the voice had fallen quiet.
“Are you coming?” Far yelled from the ground. Yennis reluctantly began to pick his way down. Only when they passed the spring downslope of the necropolis was he able to faintly hear, underneath the bleating of the goats, the familiar gurgling hiss of souls.
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Inheritors of Eschaton, Part 14 - The Barred Door

First | Previous
It is easy to find water in Ce Raedhil, obviously, but finding drinkable water requires a coin of one sort or another. At first I thought this was a terribly clever commentary on the City, but after some reflection I was forced to concede that it is merely a meaningless, unpleasant fact stemming from civic negligence and unscrupulous merchants. Ironically, that process of uninteresting and petty reality stomping on my attempts at wit turns out to be a far more apt metaphor for the place.
Tasjadre Ra Novo, Jesa Sagoja: Zhetam Asade
They pulled off the road while they were still some distance from the city. Fields ringed it like a vast firebreak, and the only hope they had of cover for the truck was in the remaining wooded outskirts that ringed the farthest farms. Few people were within sight of the road as they trundled along, and those they did encounter seemed studiously determined to keep their distance. It was not healthy, Tasja explained wryly, for common folk to be swept up in the affairs of those who rode chariots.
After some searching they identified an isolated hollow that was shielded from casual inspection yet accessible enough to drive the truck into. It sat at the periphery of a rambling, weedy field that had been left to fall fallow with tangled vines twining up and over the crumbling wall at its border. The only sign of life nearby was a cluster of muddy tari footprints that rambled to and fro along the southern slope of the hollow.
“I hate to admit it, but this is perfect,” Mark said grudgingly as he peered around the close-in tangle of brush. “I bet you can’t see the truck if you walk thirty feet back towards the road.”
Jackie looked around with a sour expression on her face. “A bit of a hike to the city, though,” she said, peering at the skyscrapers looming hazily in the distance. “It’s late enough that we’ll be lucky to make it before nightfall.”
“I think we may be fine,” Arjun said cheerfully. “I’m still appreciating the difference a twenty-eight hour day makes. The sun may be behind the mountains when we arrive, but we’ll have a good long twilight.”
Gusje scowled at them, her eyes flicking back and forth as they spoke. “Use words we can all understand,” she grumbled.
“Sorry!" Jackie said, grinning in a decidedly unapologetic manner. “My talking is not best. Not best yet,” she amended. “Gusje and Tasja learn maybe English, then can talk both.”
“I couldn’t speak In-” Gusje paused. “In gu lizh,” she said frustratedly, “if I tried. Obviously. Your words have all these humming and spitting noises, all tangled and chopped up.”
“Could try other talking, we have many,” she teased. “Peut-être français? Je pense que c'est-” She broke off laughing as Mark threw a backpack at her.
“Stop annoying the locals,” he said dryly, although he stuck to Ceiqa in deference to Gusje’s complaint. “It’s going to be a long enough walk without you two going at it the whole way.”
Jackie stuck her tongue out at him but began loading her backpack from the truck, and within a handful of minutes the group was walking in a rough line away from the hidden hollow. Jesse stopped at several points between the hollow and the road to wedge scraps of blue tarp under rocks and against tree roots, providing markers for their eventual return.
They traveled lightly, carrying only basic supplies and their meagre cache of qim and utelym. After careful consideration they decided to take the sword and gauntlet along with them as a concession to Mark, who was adamant that if they were leaving the truck behind then they should be well-armed enough to fight their way back if it came to that.
It didn’t take them long to reach the populated outskirts of the city. The road took them through fields and pens, then through well-kept shacks with carefully manicured gardens. It was pleasant enough, now that the afternoon’s heat was beginning to fade, although there was still a persistent humidity that clung to the basin around the port. They began to see people in greater numbers, and absent the warding influence of the truck many of them were gawking unabashedly at the tall, foreign travelers. Most of the men were shirtless with loose pale leggings, while the women favored a sari-like wrap bound with thin strips of colorful cloth.
The scrutiny passed mostly unnoticed by the travelers, however, as their party only had eyes for the towers of Ce Raedhil gleaming gold in the sunlight that filtered through the clouds. Against the foreground of rough wattle-and-daub construction set with wooden beams, the shining facades of the Pillars lent their walk a surreal, dreamlike quality.
“Tasja, how were those two broken?" Arjun asked, indicating the twisted metal adorning the tops of the two shortest towers.
“Ah, hm,” Tasja said, flushed and breathless from their long walk. Even without a pack the scribe’s sedentary habits left him flagging behind the others. “There are conflicting accounts,” he answered. “Some say there was a war, some say that it was a particularly dangerous saon drai recovered from the broken cities - many different explanations exist, and I’m sure I haven’t read them all.”
Arjun nodded, considering. “A very long time ago, then?" he asked.
Tasja grunted a confirmation, mopping sweat from his brow. “There’s no agreement on which king’s reign saw them broken,” he said. “Most of the chroniclers blame it on one of the cevaceiqan kings like Qavazhe Vae or Lysvaru Vae, but none of them really explain it past saying ‘the towers tall and shining were struck once and once again as a mark of wickedness for the unworthy kings’ and such.” His hand gestured dramatically to match the flowery prose, although the effect was somewhat diminished by his sweaty, rumpled appearance.
Jesse frowned. “Cevaceiqan,” he said slowly. “Haven’t heard that one before. Something about lying? Liars?”
Tasja nodded. “Lying about what cannot be false,” he confirmed. “In their case, defaming Maja.”
“Oh, huh,” Jesse said, blinking. He looked up at the others, who were giving him curious looks. “Blasphemy,” he explained. “The kings he’s talking about committed blasphemy.”
“That’s a thing here?” Mark asked, looking mildly concerned. “Are we talking ‘faux pas’ blasphemy or ‘death by stoning’ blasphemy? We’re not really familiar with the local customs, so…” He shrugged. “I don’t want to end up as a cautionary tale in some history book.”
Tasja blinked in confusion at Mark’s unintelligible idioms, his pace faltering for a moment while he scanned their faces. “Do you not revere your vinesavai in Gadhun Draat?" he asked incredulously.
Mark scratched his head awkwardly. “Things are very different where we come from,” he said after a pause. “We don’t have a… whatever that is. People worship stuff but it’s not-” He coughed. “Well, it’s complicated. Just pretend we don’t know anything about anything and explain it to us from the basics.”
“Wow, all right,” Tasja said, taken aback. “Give me a moment to think about how to say this.” They walked forward for a few moments, the packed dirt of the road scratching beneath their boots. “Maja makes the fields green, makes the rains gentle. All the land from the ocean to the two walls is His, and He makes it plentiful for us.”
The travelers exchanged a significant glance. “All right,” Mark said, “that bit sounds familiar enough, at least. So are we going to get locked up for blasphemy if we don’t worship Maja?”
Tasja gave him a bemused look. “No, of course not,” he said. “You’re not Sjocelym. People will expect you to hold your own vinesavai over ours, although I’d avoid mentioning that you don’t have one. It’s not bad that you don’t have one, it’s just…” He shook his head and shrugged. “Very strange. I wouldn’t talk about it. Given what happened to the Aesvain there are some who will see the lack as something like, uh.” He contemplated for a second. “Something like a moral failing, neglecting your duty to protect it.”
“Wait,” Jesse said, surprised. “You protect Maja? Not the other way around?”
Tasja looked back at him in deepening confusion. “It’s the first duty of the king, before even protecting the people. The garrison abbey at Draatyn Asidram has more soldiers than the Raedhilym palace. How would He protect us? You can’t defend a wall with good soil and regular rainfall.” He shrugged. “The king protects and Maja provides. He’s the reason Tinem Sjocel isn’t just more desert,” Tasja said. “Without Him we couldn’t grow food or collect enough water to live. Gusje’s people protect their cerein, don’t they?”
Gusje shot him an icy glare and stomped ahead, easily outpacing the group. Tasja looked after her in confusion until Arjun fell back to lay a hand on his shoulder. “Not a good thing to talk about now,” he said gently, “since they have to leave their cerein.”
Tasja groaned and covered his face in his hands. “Jaa tseve, I’m an idiot,” he swore. “I’ll go apologize-” He lengthened his stride to try and catch up with Gusje, but shortly fell back wheezing for breath. Jackie gave him a sympathetic look.
“Is fine,” she said. “She is angry, not at you. Just needs time.”
He shook his head morosely and kept walking. Gusje fell back to their side before long, although the conversation remained dead for some time afterward. The lots grew smaller as they advanced, the small fields and gardens around each house contracting until they pressed against each other and began to gain ramshackle second stories.
The road was thronging with people, and while there was no hope of them blending into any crowd they were at least no longer the focus of everyone’s attention. Barkers and merchants called high, melodic cries from stalls on the side of the road, beggars mumbled pleas for alms and fleets of porters with handcarts shouted and jockeyed for a clear path forward.
That last was not a problem for them, at least. People practically fled from their path as they walked along the thoroughfare. Even the beggars left them alone, although a few times they spotted particularly entrepreneurial individuals relieving distracted gawkers of their purses.
Jackie fell into step beside Arjun. “So much for going in under the radar,” she muttered.
He chuckled. “That was almost certainly not in the cards,” he replied. “You and I alone would be passable, if remarkably tall, but Mark and Jesse make everyone here look like children.” He nodded his head towards the two. “Besides, they’re both acting oddly enough that they’d stand out despite their height.”
She couldn’t disagree. At a glance Mark was walking forward calmly, but here and there a person would wander too close or stare just a bit too long and his eyes would dart toward them with sudden manic focus. Nervous energy radiated from his every twitch, and one hand was resting on his gun at all times.
If Mark was on edge, Jesse was nearly catatonic. The big man was practically melting under the relentless observation of the passers-by, and at present he seemed like he wanted nothing more than for the earth to open up and swallow him whole.
Fortunately for both men, the closer they came to the city walls the less of a stir their passage caused. As the sun dipped lower they passed into a section of the outskirts that more resembled the central neighborhoods of Sjan Saal, with pale plaster facades and sturdy (if uninspired) construction that swept away the timber chaos of the outlying neighborhoods. They were no less exotic for being in this wealthier neighborhood, but its inhabitants and patrons were at least more circumspect about their attention.
Less circumspect were the guards that monitored them watchfully from alleys and alcoves, their shining armor glinting from beneath loose wraps of sky blue and dull silver draped across their shoulders to ward against the infrequent sun. These made no secret of their interest in the travelers, although none did more than watch as they walked on.
“I feel like they’re about to tell me there’s a dress code,” Mark said, nodding fractionally to a stone-faced fireplug of a guard leaning on a slender halberd. The man’s face didn’t change in the slightest to acknowledge the gesture. “And here’s me fresh out of formalwear.”
“You should try to relax,” Jackie admonished him. “Whatever you feel like, you look like you’re expecting them to rush you.”
Mark turned to look back at her. “I am,” he replied.
“Well, stop,” she retorted, scowling. “You’re making them nervous, acting all jumpy.”
Mark dropped back to walk beside her, lowering the volume of his voice - if not its intensity. “What do you want me to do?" he hissed. “Not keep tabs on the surroundings? I’m not being jumpy, it’s called situational awareness.”
“So you can do what, fight them?" she scoffed. “If that happens there was no point in coming here. We want to avoid notice, not respond to it. Just look like you’re about to be five minutes late for something unimportant,” she advised. “I used to pretend I was late for a dinner reservation whenever I had to be out in one of those countries where it’s not particularly healthy to be a westerner or a woman. Focused enough not to bother, boring enough not to care. Just walk.”
They pressed on until, abruptly, the buildings stopped and they stood ahead of several dozen meters of clear space between them and the city wall. The brush had been hewn short to remove any obstructions in a wide ring around the stocky fortifications, leaving the field a muddy wasteland of bare dirt and mulched vegetation.
The gate itself stood open, albeit with a cadre of blue and argent guards standing athwart the opening. Any who approached were stopped, inspected and passed through after a conversation of varying length with a guard.
Wordlessly they joined the queue ahead of the wide archway. It was long, stretching nearly halfway across the clear area before the wall, but the guards seemed to know their business and they found themselves at the head of the line within minutes. Mark stepped forward to speak only to stop short as the guard raised his hand before he could say a word.
E vaa,” he said wearily, shaking his head. “You six go right to the qatima. Go on, to the side.” He pointed towards a small door built into the gatehouse. Their group wavered uncertainly at the abrupt dismissal, but after a moment they filed towards the door. Inside they found a cramped but serviceable office with a single occupant wearing impeccably polished armor and a rather glorious salt-and-pepper mustache.
The man’s armor and clothing were of better make than the guards’ equipment outside, and the silver on his mantle glittered in a way that suggested it was more than mere cloth. He was in the midst of composing a message when they walked in and their entry did not spur him to raise his head - he wrote for several seconds more, the silky rasp of his pen against the page seeming to echo in the room before he finally returned it to its rest, raised his head and looked at them with eyes so deep a brown that they appeared nearly black.
“I am Sigu Qa,” he said without preamble. “Explain your presence.”
The group was silent for a moment after he spoke, but when it became obvious that was all the man intended to say Mark cleared his throat. “We came to visit the Guild of the Scriptsmiths,” he said, matching the man’s directness.
Sigu grunted wordlessly, lifting his pen again to write a neat line of text on a clipboard in front of him. “Where are you from?" he asked, not elaborating on Mark’s reply further.
“Gadhun Draat,” Mark said.
“All of you?" Sigu countered, unfazed by the outlandish claim.
“Four of us,” he replied. “The others are Cereinem and Sjan Saalym.” Mark met the man’s eyes and quirked an eyebrow. “Should we go around, or can you guess who’s who?”
The guard gave him a long, cool look before returning his attention to his notes, writing a few more lines of cramped text before spinning it around to face them. “Your names, below,” he said. “One per line.”
Mark’s sudden and uncomfortable realization of his own illiteracy lasted just a moment before Arjun nudged Tasja forward. The young scribe looked briefly confused before realizing Mark’s dilemma and nodding. Delight lit his face as he picked up Sigu’s pen with a nod towards the qatima. Tasja turned it over lovingly in his fingers once before writing in a flowing, practiced hand in the indicated space. Finished, he rotated the pad back towards Sigu with a self-satisfied look.
The qatima glanced down at the scribe’s neat handwriting and nodded once, grunting what might have been a quiet noise of approval before looking back to Mark. “Twelve qim,” he said, holding out his hand.
Arjun stepped forward with their bag of mostly ill-gotten currency, his hand fishing in it for a dozen of the dull, coppery coins and placing them in Sigu’s outstretched palm. Sigu inspected each of the coins briefly, then withdrew a number of curious circular medallions on lanyards from his desk. Each had two clear windows in the front covered by a transparent crystalline glass. With practiced motions, the qatima separated the discs and slotted two qim in each before locking them back together and withdrawing a slip of metal from the reverse side of the medallion. Immediately, one of the two qim began to glow with warm light through the glass.
“Wear it openly, not concealed,” Sigu said, placing the medallion in front of Mark and starting on a second disc. “Two days. Leave through this gate before it fades.”
“Neat,” Mark said, slipping it around his neck. “Just out of curiosity, what happens if it fades before we leave?”
“You stay,” he replied, handing over a second medallion and looking Mark in the eyes once more. “I will say this once, Gadhun Draatim: the Guard is order in The City. We watched you approach, we will watch you within, and assuming you can follow simple instructions we will watch you leave. Stray from the path I have given and we have another prepared. Each of you will now say ‘I understand.’” His eyes narrowed, and he crossed his arms expectantly.
Mark bristled inwardly at the man’s tone, but nodded slowly. “Ajhed telahi,” he grated out. Sigu looked at each of the others in turn, and they each repeated the words. When all six were wearing their medallions he stood from his desk and smiled toothily at them, the expression not reaching his eyes.
“The City welcomes you,” he said. “Enjoy your stay.”
“Well, he was a charmer,” Jackie said breezily, craning her neck to look up at the buildings around her. Inside the walls, the buildings had shifted from reasonable, plain construction to outlandish spires and towers that loomed over the roadway. It was obvious that the larger Pillars set the trend for architecture within the walls, although none of the pale imitations they had passed could be seriously compared to the looming monstrosities that rose up from the urban chaos in the distance.
Mark coughed and shook his head, adjusting his backpack. “I’ve seen the type before,” he said. “He’s in charge and he wants everyone to know it. Some folks just like the power.”
“I don’t know,” Arjun replied distractedly, his attention captured by a cadre of arguing men wearing robes in eye-searing primary colors. “I didn’t get the impression he had let the power go to his head, more of… fanaticism, if that’s the word. Impatience for extraneous things. He was a bit harsh, it’s true, but he didn’t make us do anything arbitrary or attempt to extort us.”
“Yeah, you’ve got a point,” Mark admitted. “When we handed over the qim I thought we were bribing him, not accessorizing.” He tilted his medallion up and tapped his finger on its glassy surface. The lit coin burned brightly under the covering, securely locked between the merged halves. He showed it to Tasja with an inquiring glance.
“They are asum je ahetivat,” Tasja said, studying his own. “We had a few in the Scriptorium’s care back in Sjan Saal. We gave them to certain… important guests,” he said, looking aside when Jackie focused on him.
“So what, this is a VIP badge?" she asked, giving up on finding the Ceiqa words. “Is it just because we’re from out of town? We left the truck and everything.”
“More like an ankle bracelet,” Jesse said, a rare wry note in his voice. “Asu je ahetivat would translate to something like ‘watchful eye.’”
“Oh,” she said, looking askance at the medallion. “Okay, so, same question. Why?”
“I assume it’s because we’re trouble,” Mark said, directing his gaze to Tasja and receiving a hesitant nod in response.
“They’ll be able to find us wherever we are in the city,” Tasja confirmed. “Our own guard in Sjan Saal had means to do so, but since it wasn’t in the scriptorium’s custody I couldn’t tell you much about the particulars.”
“Father mentioned something about being watched closely when he visited Ce Raedhil,” Gusje said, holding up her own medallion to examine it. “This may be what he was referring to.”
“Don’t tell me we’re getting put on a leash just because Tesvaji had some wild party while he was visiting,” Mark groaned. “Gusje, I think your dad is a great guy, but sometimes…”
She snorted, letting her amulet fall back against her chest. “You’re more than enough trouble on your own,” she needled. “My father never burned down any buildings… that I know of.” She shook her head. “Besides, it was quite a while ago that he visited Ce Raedhil, I think they even had a different king. I doubt any of this is because of something he and my uncle got up to when they visited. They may just be distrustful of outsiders.”
Mark gave her a skeptical look in response but let the matter drop as they pressed further into the city proper. Given the security at the door they had expected the crowds in the city to be sparse, but if anything they teemed larger than the raucous masses outside.
The crowds wore white, for the most part, swathing themselves in multiple layers of a linen-like fabric bound tightly against their upper body and loose below. As with the masses outside the women wore thin colored strips of cloth woven through the folds of their wraps, although those inside the wall had noticeably more quantity and variety in their dress. The men went unadorned save for a decoration they had not seen outside the wall: a necklace consisting of a thick metal ring threaded through a coin.
Jesse recognized them as sajamyn, like the hearth-coin that Rusve had shown them in the mountain camp. Unlike the old man’s plain ring of pitted metal, however, the men here had richly decorated rings that practically dripped with gleaming precious metals and jewels. Each pendant was a riot of color on the plain white field of their tunics, as varied as the cloth decorations the women wore.
This meant that despite the relative courtesy and calm of those they passed, the group of travelers could not possibly stand out more. If Gusje’s desert-drab traveling clothes and Tasja’s dull red scribe’s uniform were like splashes of paint on a seething white canvas, the others’ green-brown riot of camouflage and dirt-stained salvage was a blazing sartorial beacon.
The subtle pressure of the crowd built around them as they threaded their way towards the shoreline. There was no wayfinding that they could spot, neither street signs nor other directions, but Tasja was reasonably certain of his identifications when it came to the pillars.
“That near one, that’s Stonesails,” he said excitedly, jabbing a finger at one of the broken towers that seemed to be festooned with a million tiny banners and strips of cloth. They waved idly in the sea breeze, hypnotically rippling across the tower’s sides like a field of tall grass in a storm. “One of the books I’ve read claims that one quarter of the city’s population lives in Stonesails, more people in one building than live in any city but Utine.” He shook his head. “I thought he was exaggerating, but looking at it…”
There was a short intake of breath from Arjun as the scale of the building became apparent. The cloth banners were the same white wrap that was omnipresent on the streets around them, each cluster of gently swaying “grass” a family’s wash hanging from endless rows of bare black stone balconies that lined the intact portions of the tower.
Beyond that lay the loose triangle of towers holding government offices - the Sheaf, the Spear and the Ministerium. The first two were named well, with the Spear tapering to a narrow, gleaming pinnacle while the Sheaf’s broken top seemed to hold a bushel of parallel beams rising skeletally from behind the boxy stone exterior. Compared to their striking contrast the Ministerium was nearly forgettable but for its sheer size - the tallest of any tower in the city by far, a massive stone block with only a thin tracery of windows along the top to mar the flawless obsidian exterior.
“The top holds the formal court,” Tasja said, pointing at the barely visible glitter of glass adorning the tower’s heights. “Only used for coronations or particularly significant events, since it’s so hard to walk all the way up.”
“I bet,” Jackie said, craning her neck. “Hey, Arjun, you’re not about to tell us you had a short but informative career as an elevator repairman in your youth, are you?”
He chuckled softly, shaking his head. “Alas, no,” he said wryly. “And I’m quite sure whatever I might have picked up would translate poorly to the lifts there, if they exist.”
“Sucks,” Jackie observed, grinning at him before scanning the other Pillars looming ever-larger around them. “We could have been rich. I’m betting that one’s the… Lighthouse?" she said, using the Ceiqa name with a mote of pride. “On account of the top being on fire.”
Tasja nodded, squinting up at the golden light flickering through the haze that clung around the most seaward of the Pillars. “Not actually fire, though,” he said. “An extremely large and powerful saon drai, unique among all in the kingdom. It’s like a qi in some ways, in the same way a raindrop is like the ocean. It glows when the wind flows around the tower and turns the air around it freezing cold. It’s not very bright right now because the sea breeze is calm, but I’ve read that during bad storms it’s too bright to look at and lights the city as if it were day.”
Mark nodded, shifting his attention to the Pillar standing in their path. “Nifty,” he remarked. “So that leaves this last one as the Archive.”
The building in question was almost unassuming compared to the assorted grandeur and character of the other Pillars, but as they drew closer several things distinguished themselves about the dull grey block of the Archive. For one, it sat alone at the south end of the city, quite removed from the sprawl choking its sisters. Quite to the contrary, it sat in the center of an extravagantly large clear area that was full of neatly trimmed grasses and shrubs arranged in patterns that looped and whorled around the central edifice.
The surface was not merely a flat face, but a gently undulating wave that seemed to shift color as clouds drifted in varying intensity over Ce Raedhil. The sudden stillness, the calm open space and the oddly dynamic monolith before them combined to create an eerie ambiance that quieted their conversation and eventually brought them to a quiet, contemplative halt ahead of their journey’s end.
“Well,” Mark said after a moment. “No time like the present.”
They began walking once more, their steps echoing oddly from ahead.
---
Arjun - Ce Raedhil
Next
Another bonus Saturday post, although this one may be the last for a while - I’ve been writing fast lately, but not that fast. I just really wanted to keep the pace moving while we lead up to the next chapter, since I’m excited about it.
Please feel free to join the Discord if you’d like to discuss or check Patreon for the next chapter!
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How Did Your Favorite Players Perform (Relative to Seeding) at Let's Make Big Moves?

I'm back! and this time not so tired that I can barely even write the damn thing. Well, okay, by the time it was done, I was pretty fucking tired. The -1 column was the last I had to do, and by the time I hit that I was fucking done. Anyway, this is a recap of Let's Make Big Moves, the TriState major. I covered all 64 of the Top Seeds, as well as the Top 64 placements.
Note: If you are one of the listed players and want to contribute a quote, please let me know.
Disclaimer 1: Not all runs are created equal. Some players needed to take on monsters to get their placement. Some less so. This is not meant to be an objective quality match-up of players.
Disclaimer 2: If a player had a bad tournament that doesn't make them a bad player. It is easier to perform below your standard then above. Thus, one tournament can make a career, but it can't break it. There are many reasons players lose.
As fans we have a responsibility to be good to players. They cry and sweat for us. The goal isn't to make players stress out about individual placements more, but to catch interesting story lines and data. Don't be a dick to players.
Disclaimer 3: It is easier for a low seed to overperform and for a high seed to underperform. Seeds are a stand-in for expectations. The bad part of high expectations is that beating them is hard. One should consider equal levels of over-performance to favor higher seed players in terms of level of impressiveness.
Disclaimer 4: An issue with seeding is just as good an explanation for some of these cases as bad play is. It is not always possible to tell the difference.
How to Read This: Number indicates placement relative to expected placement. The number reflects losers round expected to lose in vs actual loss. If a player was seeded between 13 and 16, that means they were expected to go out at 13th place. Thus, if they got a +1 it means they got 9th place. If they got a -1 then it means they got 17th.

+5 or More (Star Turn)

(TG) MVD. PGRU 17. 31st Seed. 5th Place. (+5) - The notion that MVD needs a star turn is absurd. He's been a top player since Brawl. Yet, there's a reason he was seeded 31st. At LMBM, he broke his streak without a Major Top 8 since Low Tier City by nikita'ing Wishes, Dark Wizzy, and...wait are you kidding...Tweek into the blastzone. If your goal is to make it forget the last six months happened, that's one way to do it.
(Nfinite) Toast. 66th Seed. 13th Place. (+5) - A Young Link main who has been on the radar as a potential top player. He made big moves (I will never apologize) towards that by nearly beating Tweek in winners before going on a run through losers including Fsharp, Wishes, VoiD (Sad SoCal Hours) and LingLing. I'm calling it now. I think Toast is Season 3 PGR.
Toast on his results: "It had been eating at me lately that I would place well but not get pgr wins, so someone told me to always play like me at all times and to never forget who I was when playing, so I held it close to heart this tournament and felt more confident than I had ever been, and thus played like me."

+2 to +4 (Strong Tournament)

(DA) Sinji. PGRU 25. 39th Seed. 9th Place. (+4) - To me a case of underseeding. Sinji has only got less than 25th at one Ultimate tournament so far, and that was Smash Con. He got 25th on the PGR and he was seeded to be out before Top 32? At you kidding? He got wins on LingLing, Gen, and (tragically) Riddles while losing to Dark Wizzy and Nairo. A clear mistake.
(R2G) Kameme. PGRU 19. 11th Seed. 3rd Place. (+4) - Finally, the EVO 2016 finalist makes Top 8 at a US S-tier. He came damn close (9th) at EVO, so this is great to see. He was lucky in that he avoided a seeded match against Tweek. But, this was no fluke. He beat Venia, Marss, and Maister while only dropping sets to two Top 10 players in Dabuz and Nairo.
(TR) Zomba. 84th Seed. 17th Place. (+4) - Gotta check my notes here. Zomba is...a child. Yes. He is a 14 year old from Staten Island. Mains ROB/Link/Roy, and this is his first major. Also his Twitter is distinctly run by a 14 year old and is thus awful. But, his Smash game is pretty fucking good. He knocked out Uncivil Ninja and Raito in losers. There was some luck in that he got Elegant’s empty pool. But, some of his wins were better than the pool leader he replaced. Oh god, this kid is going to be unstoppable in about a year.
Apollo. Unseeded. 33rd Place. (+4) - A Tristate smasher who mains Duck Hunt, but I saw VoDs of him playing like Peach and Icies and some other wacky shit. A key participant of the insanity of the bonkers pool C5, where he outzoned Black Twins to win a big upset and benefited from Rfang going down earlier leading to two unseeded players escaping pools.
AceAttorney. Unseeded. 33rd Place. (+4) - I had a hell of a time researching them. "Ace Attorney Smash Bros" does not take you to a player page. Apparently a NJ Zelda main. Clearly they're pretty good since they beat MattyG and JW.
(NRG) Nairo. PGRU 8. 4th Seed. 1st Place. (+3) - Guys, is Nairo number 2 in the world right now? He's had a near unbroken string of Top 4 finishes ever since Shine, consistently banished his demons, and now he's taken home the largest Ultimate tournament he's ever won. He beat WaDi and then narrowly lost to Dabuz in Winners. But that just seemed to activate "pitbull on cocaine" mode. He proceeded to crazy man through losers, taking out Sinji, Maister, MVD, Tea, Kameme, and finally getting vengeance on Dabuz in an overawing bracket reset grand finals. Fitting that his biggest win of Ultimate to date happened so close to home too.
(Liquid) Dabuz. PGRU 7. 5th Seed. 2nd Place. (+3) - Dabuz right after Nairo, huh? Fitting. Yet again, being a Dabuz fan means heartbreak. He came back from a fairly lackluster season to get a lot of great wins here. Wins like Raffi-X and Uncivil Ninja are just the ball to the real lip of it. Kameme, Nairo, and Tea. His 3-0 over Tea banished a former demon of his using new Rosa tech he invented. But, his run ended tragically as Nairo manage to reset Game 5 of Grand Finals on last hit. After that Dabuz deflated. You could see his elusive first major tournament win slip through his fingers. Dabuz in Ultimate is like watching a Greek Tragedy.
Tea. PGRU 15. 9th Seed. 4th Place. (+3) - Don't gotta lot to add. TeaPacMan Wakka'd through Marss, Samsora, and Light, while only losing to the top 2 finishers. We're all so used to Tea breaking ankles that it's almost not surprising anymore.
(T1) ANTi. 59th Seed. 17th Place. (+3) - ANTi was once one of the best smashers, as his Meta-Knight pick reminded us, but he really has not gone all in on Ultimate. It was a nice run, including small but meaningful wins on Big D and Epic_Gabriel. Not huge names, but hardly nothing either. Sadly, he ran into fucking Maister not once, but twice, and didn't take a game in either set. Brutal. I'm pretty sure that's against the Geneva Convention.
(DU) Bankai. 77th Seed. 25th Place. (+3) - NY ZSS and PKMN Trainer main. He got this +3 through a combination of NickC getting sick, the chaos of Pool C5 letting him dodge a ranked opponent in losers...and getting a small upset on his own friend Zan, the SoCal Toon Link Player. Zan’s tweet on the subject is a tragedy in three acts.
(lluZ) BONK!. 103rd Seed. 33rd Place. (+3) - a Meta-Knight from Philly. His upset over Ned was probably the most wild upset of pools that didn’t involve Pool C5.
(SH) TheRed. Unseeded. 49th Place. (+3) - Snake main who is apparently PR’d in Massachusetts. Got wins on Vivi and Diabeo. Also helped contribute to sending False packing from the tournament. So props for that?
(US|RIP LGBB) Mr. Mojo Risin’. Unseeded. 49th Place. (+3) - Okay okay so. This guy is seemingly Tristate, seems to use Donkey Kong a lot, and is distinctly a fan of the Doors. He’s on the list for upsetting the Sonic player UR2Slow and because Rivers decided to go to MagFest and DQd.
TonyZTank. Unseeded. 49th Place. (+3) - HE IS THE ONE RESPONSIBLE. Okay so, Pool C5 turned into a massive cluster fuck with both its leads, Rfang and BlackTwins getting upset. Tony here upset Roach, before losing immediately after...but then somehow managed to get out of pools in the slot that Rfang and Blacktwins weren’t fighting over, then beat...Daybreak and Raptor? Fucking chaos. Who is this guy? Sonic main from Nebraska? I asked RFang on twitter and Rfang said “Bro I don't fucking know either lmfaoo. All know is he might be the greatest sonic to ever do it”.
Cosmos. PGRU 11. 16th Seed. 9th Place. (+2) - That’s more like it! Cosmos fell off from his Season 1 Top 15 status hard in Season 2. Cosmos is relentlessly likeable so it was kind of hard to watch. 9th is still not where he used to be. Especially with Raffi-X and Larry Lurr as his biggest wins. Not bad, but it was his close set with Dark Wizzy, who is probably presently Top 20, that gave me hope. Is Season 3 the season Cosmos recovers from his anime girl induced bout of madness?
(3D) Gen. PGRU A51. 27th Seed. 13th Place. (+2) - One of Tristate’s best talents who never travels. I wonder who he’ll face!? Venia. Suarez. Sinji. Laid is slightly out of state, right? And he even faced one foreign player...and it’s Maister. Fuck. Oh well, at least he did well. Maybe that means he might travel more?
(djb) Laid. 46th Seed. 17th Place. (+2) - The Lucina from New England. The lord of the Side-Bet Discord. As near as I can tell, he didn’t get any upsets himself. Just benefited from Rivers ditching for Magfest and LeoN getting upset by Epic_Gabriel. But, he somehow made an 8:1 bet on Nairo making a reverse sweep on Maister, so he probably made more money than some of the people who actually placed.
Riddles. 34th Seed. 17th Place. (+2) - Someone on twitter asked over the weekend what players people just love watching. Besides NickC (obviously) the most common answer is Shut- ...Riddles. That only grows more true with each passing tournament. Not only did he dominate the crew battle, but he went on an epic run at LMBM. After losing in pools to a...gotta check my notes here...a chair from twitter, he went on a massive losers run, including Ned, Enzo, Z, and even Tweek himself, before losing to Sinji. Fucking beautiful. I just wish we got a proper stream of his match with Tweek. I wanted to watch that shit so bad I was hunting for phone vids on twitter.
Epic_Gabriel. 51st Seed. 25th Place. (+2) - ROB Main from Florida. This tournament was lousy with high placing ROBs, really. Skynet basically came online. He got a big ‘ol on-stream win over LeoN, which is where the entire +2 comes from. LeoN’s a for sure PGR win, so a round of applause is in order.
SKITTLES!. 69th Seed. 33rd Place. (+2) - The best player in Nebraska. I’ve definitly talked about him before but am way too rushed to figure out in which one. Got wins on Atomsk, Sharp, Comona, and Odyssey. Nothing big, but a healthy spread.
(Drexel) Yoda Cage. 122nd Seed. 49th Place. (+2) Philly based Boswer JR and DK main. Managed to get wins on Benny&TheJets and Mata-Door. However, this all might be bracket noise from Shuton falling sick. Someone should play Diddy Kong and call themselves “Baby Yoda Cage”.
(ATU) Mekos. 116th Seed. 49th Place. (+2) - One of the few relevant Lucas players. He got an upset on Venom and then benefitted from the chaos from bracket C5 by avoiding BlackTwins or RFang.
Sharp. 101st Seed. 49th Place. (+2) - Not FSharp the Canadian, Sharp is the #1 player in Rhode Island. He went all Shiek in bracket and upset both RFang and Dazai while taking NickC and Skittles to Game 3. Especially impressive because playing Shiek in bracket is like playing “Smash Bros: Dark Souls” where you do no damage and everything else two shots you. I see some potential here.
(NVR) SAUCE. 98th Seed. 49th Place. (+2) - Mario/Roy main. Got small upsets on Chrismus and PowPow, and benefited greatly from Lima oversleeping and getting DQ’d.

-1 to +1 (Normal Tournament)

(MVG) Dark Wizzy. PGRU 31. 10th Seed. 7th place. (+1) - Dark Wizzy has completed the transformation from “Good player who says Mario shit on twitter” to “Consistent Top 20 Player”. Nothing here was that shocking. Wins on Sinji, WDGTHTBP, Cosmos, Z, and John Numbers. Losses to Marss and MVD. But, the regularity is his Top 20 appearances is something you love to see. It is fairly brutal watching him try to play his way through the badness of the Mario-Zss matchup though.
(lluZ) Raffi-X. 21st Seed. 13th Place. (+1) - Raffi doesn’t really feel like a Top Player yet, at all. Yet, he consistently gets Top 16 or better at Super Majors. My first impulse was to just claim he lacks top player wins...but actually Goblin and Raito are pretty fucking good wins. Maybe, he just needs to be memorable? Has he considered a catchphrase? “I’m Raffi, and when I’m done with you, you’re going to be Taffy!” Yeah, not sure. He’s increasingly a contender for not only Number 2 ROB...but a challenger to WaDi for the top spot. Don’t let a single word of this come across as an insult to his skill.
(T1) LarryLurr. 32nd Seed. 17th Place. (+1) - SoCal! SoCal! SoCal! We actually got someone into Top 24! We didn’t even get anyone into Top 32 in our own Tournament at Kongo Saga. This was a legitimately great result for the long time pro, including wins on Dill, Lui$, and a SoCal Teamkill on Sparg0. Okay, fine, it was only kind of a team kill, but we’re still claiming him. We’re Desperate.
Uncivil Ninja. 37th Seed. 25th Place. (+1) - Sad to say, but you should probably treat this one as -1. He got a + bump from NickC getting some kind of illness, presumably a bad case of Spiking Fever for Dairing so many fools. But, before this could be translated into any kind of run, he got sent to losers and then upset by literal child Zomba.
(lluZ) Jakal. 33rd Seed. 25th Place. (+1) - Not a lot to say about the TriState Wolf main’s performance here. He got a literally one seed upset over Larry.
(Ho3K) Frozen. PGRU 46. 61st Seed. 33rd Place. (+1) - I am not sure how he ended up in 33rd. I think Elegant’s DQ might have been the factor. I am also skeptical because of his proximity to the esoteric cursed pool C5. I am pretty sure this is just bracket chaos though.
(16B) LingLing. 58th Seed. 33rd. (+1) - The Peach Queen (King) of the North East. On examination, he actually should have got -1 because Toast upset him, but Shuton falling sick and fusing with Riddles left the bracket slot open.
(3D) Juuuuul. 49th Seed. 33rd Place. (+1) - Probably the only relevant player (outside of Texas) who uses Robin. No, that time Nairo pulled her out doesn’t count. He got a strong upset over Mr E, but got one back from DM. A mixed bag overall?
(BCe BBM) Beast. 83rd Seed. 49th Place. (+1) - PKMN Trainer from Philly. Got knocked into losers relatively early by Pazda, but actually got strong wins on Kofi and Tamim before being taken out by Suarez.
(Sinai) DM. 80th Seed. 49th Place. (+1) - A New England Top Player and one of the few actual Pikachu players with actual relevance. He got an upset on Juuuul, but I’d honestly say his losses were more impressive. Lui$ and Cosmos. Ain’t no shame in a scorecard like that.
(Evil) Nelvin. 78th Seed. 49th Place. (+1) - Another NE crab person. This time a Diddy main. Seemingly no upsets in either direction. Just got a +1 downstream because Purity beat Juice and Nelvin beat him.
(Ho3K) Ralphie. 74th Seed. 49th Place. (+1) - A Tristate player who used Wolf last I checked. But, I think that means, like all wolf mains, he dropped her for Palu. That was a joke. I hope. I think what happened here was he dodged facing Riddles or MVD because some chair from twitter upset Riddles, so Ralphie wound up with a less menacing foe.
WaDi. PGRU 24. 13th Seed. 13th Place. (+0) - WaDi did fine. WaDi always does fine. There is probably no more player who more consistently gets Top 16 in Ultimate. The problem remains same as ever. Top 16 isn’t Top 8. Oh well. Someone oughta give a “Let’s Go WaDi!” for old times sake.
(TG) MuteAce. PGRU 27. 24th Seed. 17th Place. (+0) - Not totally sure what happened here. Mute got upset by Stocktaker in one of the loudest matchest of the weekend as measured by Yerrr-Per-Minute. But, he came back with a pretty decent losers run, including a win on Jakal, that was only put to an end by an explosive set with a freshly upset Light.
(APE) Goblin. PGRU 39. 20th Seed. 17th Place. (+0) - A +0 by result, but probably in the - column when it comes to dignity. Goblin actually did fine. He lost to WaDi in winners, but fought all the way to the edge of Top 16 before suffering a tiny upset from Raffi-X. That last stock ended in a pretty intense cross-stage 0 to death by Raffi-X that appeared to break him. Goblin then proceeded to go on a pretty fucking intense twitter rant (mostly about how much he hates ROB) that was a little extreme even as the art of post-loss twitter rants go.
Suarez. PGRU 49. 35th Seed. 33rd Place. (+0) - Nothing to report. The Tristate Yoshi won/loss to seed.
Smokk. 48th Seed. 33rd Place. (+0) - Kind of a sad case. The Quebecois, who used to main Gannon but now plays mostly Wolf, actually got a bit win. Lui$ money. Depending on if Suar ever puts out PGRU 2, that could be an actual PGR win. Too bad MuteAce got upset early, and was standing right in his way...with a desire for vengeance against wolf players.
(lluZ) Enzo. 47th Seed. 33rd Place. (+0) - Philly based Joker main. For someone only at his second major to date, he did really well. And by really well, I mean “Upset VoiD”. So yeah, good shit. Sadly, after a loss to Wishes, he wound up stuck in Riddles freight train path through Losers Top 128. Oh well, two Top 100 losses and a pretty good win. Ain’t no shame in that.
(Ho3K) John Numbers. 42nd Seed. 33rd Place. (+0) - No upsets either direction and good losses in the form of VoiD and Dark Wizzy. John frequents PGStats and I’ve only ever had positive interactions with him.
(GG) Stocktaker69. 41st Seed. 33rd Place. (+0) - The Tristate Wolf player. Got a big win over MuteAce in what I heard, both from viewers and from the background Tristate-ing of the streamed matches. But, quick losses to Tea and Lui$ put his run to an end right after. Still technically a good run. Got an upset without being upset. Shame it didn’t translate to placement.
(XTR) Sparg0. 40th Seed. 33rd Place. (+0) - More of the same here. The North Mexican/SoCal Cloud child prodigy (not that prodigy) actually got an upset on Mr E, but his run was stopped by Light and Larry Lurr. Neither an upset, and the latter a team kill. Tragic stuff.
(Ho3K) Dill. 64th Seed. 49th Place. (+0) - A New York ROB, widely seen at one of the city’s rising stars. Sadly, he didn’t get that energy infusion the other ROBs got. Went par with his seed. No surprises.
Klaatu. 63rd Seed. 49th Place. (+0) - NorCal Olimar main. Suffered a small upset from Toast, who spent the rest of the tournament taking names and kicking ass.
(2scoops) Zan. 60th Seed. 49th Place. (+0) - SoCal (SIGH) Toon Link main and former seeder. Mostly did okay, but got upset by his friend Bankai. Also, beat a player named Boys ll Mensch, which if an objectively funny name.
(NPT) BlazingPasta. 56th Seed. 49th Place. (+0) - Philadelphia Peach/Daisy. Seemingly lost early MuteAce, but somehow made it to his seed? Ugh. I’ve been writing this post for like 12 hours. Someone else can dumpster dive into bracket to figure out how that happened.
Maister. 6th Seed. 7th place. (-1) - The most likeable hateable man in Smash. I know I’m not supposed to bash characters here. G&W mains read this shit too. But, there is something so viscerally unenjoyable about watching Maister out frame-data people into oblivion. I’m not saying it isn’t smart or that there’s something wrong with him doing it. It is simply aesthetically repulsive. And make no mistake “oblivion” is where he sent people. Maister continued his string of Top 8s with wins on Gen, Anti (twice. Poor man), Toast (RIP), and a Samsora who looked like he was having his soul removed from his body. I’m pretty sure there is no player who has the potential to change the meta quite as much as Maister at present.
(Rogue) Light. PGRU 10. 8th Seed. 9th Place. (-1) - Light was unremarkable. Thankfully, Light is still a blast even when he’s just doing okay. He knocked out WaDi and MuteAce, lost another set in his absurd game of back and forth with Tea before ending in a New England classic. Marss vs Light. Perfectly respectable result.
Wishes. PGRU 21. 15th Seed. 17th Place. (-1) - This is supposedly Wishes last tournament. I’m willing to buy it, if only because his interest has seemed in free fall for months. As far as career endings go, this is a whimper, not a bang. The expected wins, but then an upset at the hands of MVD followed by a second from Toast. There was a point where Wishes was one of the most exciting names in Ultimate. Time is a bitch.
(DA) Venia. 22nd Seed. 25th Place. (-1) - Don’t let the number fool you. He did fine. The New York Greninja managed to get a win on fellow Greninja (frog battle for dominance) JW, and traded upsets. Suffered a small one from Gen. Got a pretty notable one on LeoN. Evens out north of good, methinks.
(CLG) VoiD. PGRU 9. 18th Seed. 25th Place. (-1) - Everything is Darkness.
Lui$. 17th Seed. 25th Place. (-1) - Just a mediocre result overall for the NorCal Fox player. Beat DM and Stocktaker, but Smokk and Larry both got wins on him. The losses look a lot worse then the wins. Also, holy cow that’s a lot of wolves. Lui$ bracket was more furry than Cats 2019.
(Cacaw) Big D. 30th Seed. 33rd Place. (-1) - The giant of British Columbia smash. I believe we got to see some of his icies gameplay in a set on stream vs Suarez, but he was largely a non-presence for the rest of bracket. He lost early to ANTi, which makes sense because ANTi for sure knows how to kill icies from his brawl days.
JW. 43rd Seed. 49th Place. (-1) - Greninja from Ontario. Not a lot to report here. He suffered a big loss to AceAttorney, the NJ Zelda. Not a lot else to add here. With the exception of Smokk and Riddles, this was largely a not-great tournament for Canada, and this only continued the trend.
Tamim. 62nd Seed. 65th Place. (-1) - "With the exception of Smokk and Riddles, this was largely a not-great tournament for Canada, and this only continued the trend.” Equally applies here too. The former Smash 4 Top 10 player continued his run of “eh” results that followed his return to the game. Lost to Marss, unsurprisingly, and Beast, more surprisingly.
Z. 55th Seed. 65th Place. (-1) - The Canadian Palutena, not the Pikachu from Nevada. Seemed to do mostly fine here. Just went out one round early as a consequence of Riddles’ train run through losers.
(djb) MattyG. 54th Seed. 65th Place. (-1) - Chrom from New England. Had a mostly normal run until he ran into AceAttorney, the Zelda main, who sent him out a round early.
Daybreak. 52nd Seed. 65th Place. (-1) - Wolf Main from Michigan. A frequent resident of this segment of the list. He actually got a win on Bankai, who ended up on in the + column. But, he went out early when he ran into TonyZTank, the Sonic main partialyl responsible for the shit show in pool C5.

-4 to -2 (Weak Tournament)

(PG) Marss. PGRU 3. 3rd Seed. 5th Place. (-2) - Remember that time at Frostbite when he single handedly took on like half of Japan? Well, this time Japan struck back. He lost in winners to Kameme in a close set, and then fell in an equally close set against Frostbite antagonist, Tea.
(lluZ) Juice. 38th Seed. 65th Place. (-2) - Got upset in winners by a player named Purity (Bayo or Palu). Sadly, the early bracket was full of upsets, so this led to an early run in with LeoN and a failure to even make top 64.
Venom. 53rd Seed. 97th Place. (-2) - Got upset by Dazai and Mekos. They’re both pretty well known, so no harm no foul.
(SSG) LeoN. PGRU 35. 14th Seed. 33rd Place. (-3) - There’s a schrodinger’s box quality to LeoN. He has the potential to play like a Top 15 player. But, sometimes he’ll just be a pretty good regional player. Beating Juice and Hazmatt but being upset by Venia and Epic Gabriel is more the latter then the former. It’s frustrating because LeoN is such a treat to watch that you can’t help but want him to Side B his way through bracket.
(Demise) Mr. E. PGRU 38. 25th Seed. 65th Place. (-3) - Mr E shouldn’t have gone absolutely MadMan during the crew battle. After beating Kameme in that, he walked into bracket and lost to the decidedly not Kameme level Juuul as well as fellow Crew Battle Peak-er Sparg0. Gotta save some of that jet fuel for bracket.
(TG) Raito. PGRU 20. 12th Seed. 33rd Place. (-4) - I have no idea what happened here. Raito went down way early against Raffi-X and Zomba. This isn’t that bad, I think? Raffi is for sure Season 2 PR so that’s respectable. Zomba is a big ‘ol question mark, but he also beat Uncivil Ninja, so he’s clearly not some fluke.
(OES) Rfang. 29th Seed. 97th Place. (-4) - I’ve mentioned the chaos of pool C5 elsewhere, but after getting upset by a Sonic from Nebraska, Rfang had to crawl out of pools over the body of fellow Pichu. When discussing his results on Twitter, a drunk RFang told me to “Let the Reddit people know I woke up 10 min before my pool and I couldn't even up throw thunder”. The run continued on just as bad a trajectory when he was knocked out by Sharp in his first match of day 2.
(Armada) Ned. 26th Seed. 97th Place. (-4) - A mix of an upset and bad luck. He lost to the Meta-Knight BONK in pools. He might have had a chance to made a strong losers run if he hadn’t run into the also upset Riddles, technically seeded bellow him but an absolute killer.
(Mazer) Cyro. 44nd Seed. 129th Place. (-4) - Would it be a results list without a SoCal name near the washout segment? He lost in pools to the DK player Cee and the MewTwo Zapharos.
UtopianRay. 57th Seed. 129th Place. (-4) - Not sure what happened here. He drowned in pools to jamajaro and Diabeo. The latter of whom, at least, is a fairly well known name.
(EMG) Blacktwins13. 36th Seed. 129th Place. (-4) - One of the first major upsets of the tournament. He faced the local Duck Hunt Apollo and seemed totally lost in the unique Trench-War type dynamic of the DH matchup. That bad result compounded when he ran into fellow Pichu RFang in losers for 129th. As Duck Hunt Dog might say...Ruff.

-5 or Lower (Wash Out)

(EU) Samsora. PGRU 4. 1st Seed. 9th Place. (-6) - He faced Tea in Winner’s Quarters and Maister right after in Top 8 qualifiers. Pac-Man and G&W, two famously bad matchups for Peach. MuteAce's exact killers from his Summit bracket, actually. We got to physically watch on stream as Samsora seemed to deteriorate in the face of such a seemingly hopeless situation. By the time the ordeal was over, he looked like all fight had left his body.
(TSM) Tweek. PGRU 2. 2nd Seed. 25th Place. (-8) - Tweek randomly washing out early is a fairly common occurrence nowadays. It’s not like MVD and Riddles aren’t two killers who can easily take sets from Top 10 players on the right day. But, despite this tournament being home turf, he just didn’t really seem to show up much at all.

Final Analysis

There is a lot to like about Let's Make Big Moves. Just as a series of games of Smash Ultimate, there was a lot of really thrilling a fun content here. Any tournament so heavily dominated by Nairo is bound to make a fun watch. Oh, there was some slowness because of a lot of zoners doing well, but I found most of it pretty interesting on a tactical level. On a raw storyline level it was sometimes downright Shakespearean.
Not too much to report on from a technical side. Some small complaints about delays, but nothing overwhelming. A few poor choices in terms of the slides during the dead air. But, we got enough streams and there were no horrifying delays, so not a big issue. I do wish that we'd get less over-focus on one side of bracket during Top 128. But, it wasn't like we didn't get any matches from the other side of bracket.
What, this tournament is getting crucified on, and I think rightfully, is the commentary. A lot of the critiques focus on how barren it was in terms of top level casters. The Rod the Dutch/Korean team for finals had no chemistry and was so boring I switched to Coney's re-stream. Though, in truth my biggest issue with the commentary was that time Censored made an anti-semitic joke on the mic. That shit ain't professional.
Next review I do will probably be for Genesis and/or EVO Japan. It comes during a rough time for work for me, so we'll see. The issue of two super majors running against each other is complex. Tell me in the comments how you want me to handle it? Should I just cover one? If so, which? Or should I take a little bit longer and do both?
Past write ups: Frostbite, Ultimate Numbus, Collision, Prime Saga, Pound, Get On My Level, Momocon 2019, Smash N' Splash 5, CEO 2019, Albion 2019, Low Tier City 7, Super Smash Con 2019, Shine 2019, Glitch 7, Kongo Saga.
submitted by T51bwinterized to smashbros [link] [comments]

d100 Diary Entries of a Shopkeeper

The day to day lives of our favorite shopkeepers may seem dull to the outside observer, but what sorts of things do they write about when they think nobody's watching?
01: Just bought a Vorpal Sword off a wannabe adventure for twenty gold! What a bunch of morons the lot of em. I really have to thank my parents for not letting me go down that dead end career path
02: My fish guy just brought in a bunch of trout from the North. They're actually incredible- it's almost a shame I have to sell them
03: just a bunch of angry scribbles, you only manage to make out the words "I DIDN'T LIKE HIM ANYWAY!!!" as well as a few dark spots that appear to be tears
04: I'm starting to think those kids have it out for me, yesterday I caught them with paint outside of my shop! I think they were gonna graffiti my place until they got caught in the act! Rapscallions the lot of em!
05: I found an old devil-summoning book in the library the other day. Half tempted to check it out, but I thought better of it. Looked for it again today and it was gone...
06: Woke up this morning to a half drunk half-elf in my shop. Sure he was cute, but he tried to steal the wine and then offered to pour me a drink. Thank goodness his friends came for him, but... do you think they will ever come back?
07: [Some scribbles] I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT LYING WIZARD.. HE TOLD ME THAT THIS POS WAS WORTH 61K GOLD, 61K. I mean those spices though... BUT AGGGG [more scribbles, now of a more eldritch nature,] it's no use, I have been defeated, my merchanlie wit is gone, it's time I retired.
08: Today a little boy came to buy a toy bow and said he was going to be an adventurer like his papa. He was smol and cute and I would die for him.
09: Dear diary a strange tabaxi came in yelling about cheese he had a ugly pet rat that he kept telling me to look at.
10: Rumors abound of a new bandit lord organizing the gangs along the north-west trade routes. Better hire some more caravan guards, maybe drop by the adventurer's guild to see if anyone wants to deal with the bandits.
11: I have got to stop making silly bets with Halvor when I'm drunk, he always wins and I always end up with an empty coin purse. One of these days I may end up gambling away my store.
12: The baron's put out a call for adventurers to deal with the monster problem in the forests. Better start stocking up on potions and such.
13: Just got my head chewed off by Mother Superior Ardenia for selling holy water at my shop. Stuck-up hypocrite. So the church can give holy water in exchange for "donations to the church" and no one bats an eye, but yet when I sell it I'm the bad guy? At least I admit I'm in it for the profit.
14: Mother is getting worse. We have been trying to save up enough for a miracle at the temple but...It seems fate conspires against us at every turn. Luckily I've been able to keep some gold squirreled away. These next few shipments should be just enough to get the clerics to see her but I am not sure if she will make it that long.
15: Few adventurers came in yesterday. Most of em seemed alright but the rogue was bloodied, tried to sell me jewelry with his non-broken arm promising he was alright. Just sold him a health potion half-off. He seems convinced he swindled me but arms ain't supposed to bend like that.
16: Got a new shipment of magic items from Jeffery. Big discount, but at least half of it's cursed. Guess it's time to bring out the clearance bin.
17: It's them. They're back. I fear for my life. Everytime they come into town misfortune follows. Last time they were here they melted half of my wares, and STILL demanded a discount on their supplies! I've already lost so much, what could they possibly want now?
18: The tall one enchanted my broom to sweep the store by itself. It's been a huge help to my wife and I after the fall. I've given them a lifetime discount on my wares as thanks. (Not much. Just 5%, I'm not insane.)
19: I finally finished building the glass fronted cabinet that I've been putting off making. It turned out bigger than I expected, but still fits in the space. I'm so glad i can lock it now so hopefully I'll have fewer losses. It was just too easy for people to pocket those small items.
20: The new year is coming up and people will be buying gifts. Usually there's an uptick in sales around this time, but things haven't been going well lately. I guess folks are just too worried about the future to waste money on trinkets, but you never know, maybe people will be so stressed that they'll reach out to me for fast and easy comforts.
21: I can’t believe that stupid adventurer bought that filthy book, and even at a high price! I must be lucky. With all this hold now I could open a new store near the coast, I always wanted to see the ocean while making potions, I’m excited.
22: Well, now I understand why he bought that old book, I completely forgot about the powerful enchantment i put it on, if I think enough perhaps I was scammed by myself. Oh well, as my brother says “take a penny leave a penny.” I still have the money so it isn’t a problem if I don’t think it is a problem. Should I open a new shop or invest in something else? Those weird machines the gnomes are creating could be helpful if they succeed, and maybe they can allow me to expand my merchandise as a collaboration!
23: Oh god, why I have to smell like chilly all the time? I feel really uncomfortable when talking to Betty, I just can’t think of something else!
24: I really shouldn't have sold that tomb to that little girl. I always got a strange feeling from it. Hopefully it isnt as bad as I'd hoped.
25: New shipment of supplies came in for the underground ring. This should make combat a little more interesting and maybe even make us the most popular underground brawl pit in all of (insert city name here)
26: Stop worrying about people asking, they dont. I gotta pull myseld together and Joseph was buried with a fullplate ripe for picking
27: I can´t do this anymore. My profits are flooring more, each day. Why can´t I - just once - say no to these adventurers dropping of their junk at my shop? Who is actually going to buy a magical flaming war-axe in this tiny fisher-town?
28: I accidentally materialized the shop in the wrong universe this morning, and I didn’t notice for a couple of hours. I try to stay in the same city most of the time, just put it on the other side of the alley, or around the corner, just to see the confusion on their faces. It was only when this man in strange clothes entered and started asking about books I’ve never heard of, what language the books I have were written in, and what my accent was, though he was the one with the accent. He tried to pay for a grimoir with strange paper money that said 20 Dollars and had “In God we trust” on them. I told him that his money was no good in my shop and tried to get him to leave. He took off the small clock he had strapped to his left wrist and told me it was a gold Rolex. I accepted, though I probably shouldn’t. I don’t think the spells in that book will work in his universe, they’re location locked to the universe where they were written.
29: Rain today. Streets are muddy. Send shipment through the back.
30: Today was interesting. I scammed a couple adventurers. Sold them some expired potions. HAHAHAHA
31: Customer wouldn't sell me their pet. I'd never seen anything like it. Size of a squirrel. Bat wings, lizard head, and I can't describe its body. I wish I could've bought it.
32: Just bought a very interesting-looking skull for an absolute bargain - lovely runic designs etched around the eye sockets. This’ll fetch a pretty coin or two!
33: Bastard skull was haunted! So much stock lost to poltergeist shenanigans, and I’m now out of pocket because I needed to hire a cleric to remove the curse. Never again shall I buy from shady elves in hoods...
34: Joy Omasse was right, weapon rentals really are Future of armament sales! Prices worked-out landed well with market. After very little adjustment to original Pitch, now become fashionable for all to wear weapons to balls & hangings.
35: Finally, crazy great Uncle's heirloom diamond blades & ornate halberds are worth something & reviews on town Billboard now warm -- not void -- my heart. Still working out Right amount to Charge for late fees & set bounties on possible Thefts. But, all in all, just can't believe Success.
36: Eulia went into town a few days ago and has yet to return. I know I probably shouldn't worry, yet I can't seem to stop looking out the window expectantly, hoping to see her come back over the hill. How long does it take to sell some flour, really? I can't stop imagining her finding some other lad in the city and running off with him.
37: Some adventurer tried to steal from my shop again today; poor sap didn't make it two steps out the door before getting dropped by guards... Idiot.
38: I can't believe Strax sold the vintage dragon's mead for only 2 silvers to that pesky bard. That boy needs to stuff his ears with cotton wool around that one.
39: MIMIC, AGAIN? ARE YOU SERIOUS? These latest shipments are really taking the cake. I don't know where they keep finding these "chests" and "barrells" but I damn near lost an arm!
40: Day to day ledger but in the margins you notice copious doodles of a cartoon of someone who looks suspiciously like the shopkeeper fire-balling a group of mean adventurers.
41: No writing, just lots of drawings of eyes, that are completely black and leaking ink
42: Today the cities’ guard held an auction to sell of confiscated belongings. I snatched some pretty nice longswords inscribed with gnomish text for a great price.
43: Holy [insert commonly worshipped god], i went to a mage who could possibly translate the gnomish writings and he told me the swords were magically enchanted!
44: Today i realised this job might be more dangerous than being an adventurer.
45: Today i saw a rat run away with a small pouch with silver rings. I swear i managed to kill all those rats a week ago.
46: If I catch the asshole who keeps rearranging the product, so it spells naughty words...
47: I think it's only fair that I should offer my products at exactly the same value as every other store in the world...
48: They came again demanding payment. What are they even protecting me from anyway?!?
49: I should have just been a dentist.
50: I'd sell this place, but my spouse would get half and I'll NEVER LET THEM WIN.
51: REDRUMREDRUMREDRUMREDRUM
52: Demonic text
53: If I can give them the first tastes cheap, I can get them coming back and really raise the price later.
54: Today, I poisoned a drunk half-Orc that was sleeping on the street. It's the fourth one I take care of this month. Feels real good to clean the streets of that filth (GM chooses if the shopkeeper hates half-orcs or drunks. Or drunk half-Orcs.)
55: When did we get a cat Bloodstained page DO NOT PLAY WITH THE CAT!
56: A trader brought in a small sample of a gem I had never seen before. It emitted a deep purple light that made some parts of things glow. My houseplants next to the display case have never grown better! Next time the trader comes thru, Ill have to ask where to get more!
57: Those damned punks smashed a display case and mentioned "insurance". Thats the third group this month! Are they the same gang, or different?
58: I hid my partner's keys to the chest. I think they have been stealing from the coinbox.
59: I keep counting my $Widgets$ but there is always a different number, sometimes more, sometimes less. Day 5: 13; Day 7: 18; Day 10: 12...
60: I dreamt that there is a chest of coins buried beneath the old tree in the town square. When the moon is new, I will sneak there and check. -Entry three days later, in different handwriting, as if using the opposite hand instead of the dominant one Reminder. Always check to see if it is a mimic before reaching in... it was a mimic, and I will forever miss that finger...
61: They say that healing potions are getting hard to come by. I think I'll start watering mine down and raising prices to keep profits up.
62: Sure, I could give up drinking, like my partner wants me too, but it totally isn't gonna affect my work... I'll be fine.
63: It seems that eveyone is onto this new "goldfish" trend. I better invest now before I lose out on the money stream!
64: I lost money on the Tulips, but this time it'll be different I know it!
65: Why does my partner insist on chewing with thier mouth open?
66: If my partner doesnt stop whistling that gods-forsaken pop-song, I will bury thier body where no one will ever find it!
67: This is the fifth time that my Partner was watching the store while theives made off with valuable merchandise. I'm beginning to think this is an inside job.
68: I bought nine empty wine-tuns and encircled them thrice with holly boughs. I have selected my nine victims. They shall die by hand and be embalmed for 27 nights, and thrice-three times, I shall serve my Master and gain thier Holy Favor! Nine Slaves shall be mine in Heaven!
69: Remember, remember.. Three times three is nine, thrice nine is seven and twenty, there are eight twos in 256... a square of a square, squared and square again! The numbers keep slipping out! I need more fingers! Six isn't enough! Butterlies, dreams of butterflies tell me the correct numbers! Nine why do you taunt me so! I need ROUND NUMBERS, damnit! These figures are so irrational!
70: I fear I will never get the account books balanced properly. The Auditors will find my embezzling if I am not careful, but I fear my secret getting out more! I must pay the blackmailer somehow!
71: Four hours. That's how long I waited last night for that damned rogue to appear and return the keepsake... I had the sack of gold and everything ready.. now I need to waste another night tonight to hope to get it back. I sure hope I can get it back, or my partner will kill me! Please don't let my partner find out it's missing!
72: I sure hope these adventurers don't figure out that the store three blocks away sells the same stuff as ours for cheaper.
73: How is that bastard selling potions cheaper than I can have them made? Should I just buy up their supply and sell at a markup?
74: Dear Diary. I think you're getting a little old and may need to be replaced. I am running out of sheets...
75: Dear diary, you are so much newer and full of more blank pages than my old one!
76: Dear Diary, whatever you do, please don't tell anyone about my secret ledgers!
77: The secret passcode for the Thieves Guild is: "Midnight Milk". Be sure to wear the medallion.
78: My partner dislikes our new hats and refuses to wear it. I tried to tell them that a uniform reinforces our brand-image...
79: I snuck out lastnight and fought in the pit fights. I won! I had to tell my partner that I was robbed on the way home, to explain my wounds.
80: This pit-fight craze has got me thinking that we should sell novelty hats!
81: I wanted our new store logo to be a three humped camel, but my partner over-ruled me. Joke's on them, though.. I already placed the order for the sign...
82: The chief of the guard stopped by and snooped around our ledgers. Thankfully my partner is so good at keeping the real one hidden.
83: My partner is cooking the books and won't show them to me.
84: A few rough sorts assaulted me yesterday and broke my big toe. They said I owed them money, but I never took a loan from them!
85: My partner was assaulted yesterday. They broke thier fingers, and ny partner lied about it for some reason. I hope they don't find out about my little deal...
86: I agreed with the chief of the secret police that they can use my store in a sting operation. I just need to signal to the new clerk that "these customers want healing potions".
87: I dreamt last night that my partner found an ancient tome and I attempted to learn its secrets; it exploded, searing my face off with brilliant light. I awakened in a warm sunbeam. with a pounding headache from too much mead last night.
88: An old man with seven small yellow birds in a wicker cage visited my store yesterday. He begged for some coin, and I offered to buy his birds from him. He refused, so I crushed the cage in a fit of anger and the birds flew out, and now I can't get them out of my store, and the the old man keeps appearing in my dreams!
89: I had that nightmare again, the one where I gave all my inventory to some adventurers for only 1 gold piece, and a map to a buried pirate treasure. I ran downstairs to check on my inventory that very night!
90: I've never travelled more than 20 miles away, and I very much like staying at home. Adventuring isn't the life for me.. no sir!
91: There's a stray cat that watches me while I work. Every time I try to chase it away it turns a corner and disappears. I think it might be a familiar, but everyone I talk to says I'm paranoid...
92: A little boy came in and asked for a scimitar, I told him I couldn't sell him anything like that unless he had a parent with him. He got all indignant about it! The nerve!
93: I saw a half dozen teiflings conspiring this morning. I think they must be up to something
94: We're all thinking it, Dwarves are better than Gnomes! I don't know why it's 'racist' to say something objectively true!
95: I just got a shipment of enchanted tridents. Yeah. As if anyone's gonna buy a trident even with an enchantment
96: I wish I were an aarokokra, all flying about and such. I don't know if this is worthy of a journal entry, but it's been on my mind ever since that one party of em came to town
97: Ink stains, it looks like the pen broke in the middle of an angry rant about goblins
98: I tried baking today. I'm currently writing this with my offhand because my other has been burned
99: We just got a shipment of some strange foreign vegetable called a 'Coconut'. Doesn't look like any nut I've seen, that's for certain
00: Some days I think I should just sell the store and retire while I'm still young enough to enjoy it. But father gave me the store and his father before him. I have to keep this place running, for their sakes
submitted by Rhedkiex to d100 [link] [comments]

Returning from Waikiki

This story happened about 12 years ago when I was a 24 year old engineer for a US Navy contractor and still somewhat fresh out of college. About 6 months prior to all this, my girlfriend of about 4.5 years and I split up. I'd resolved to get into shape afterwards and managed to do pretty well in the that time. Complete with my newfound hott(-ish) bod, I’d set out with the goal to sow my wild oats since I’m firmly in the camp of “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” Unfortunately for me, even as a no-longer-pudgy engineer, I was still very bad at women. I was fortunate enough, however, to score a work trip to Honolulu to do work on some ships out at Pearl Harbor for a little under a month. I worked second shift (~1600-0000 local) on this particular trip so I spent the days exploring O’ahu and the nights working. It was a pretty sweet deal as one could imagine. I'm going to fast forward right to the end of the trip, because those weeks, while awesome, were all pretty standard work and tourist stuff. No, this story is about my last night there, which also happened to coincide with my 25th birthday.
My co-workers and I had grown pretty close during those weeks, so the last day there we decided to have a blowout to celebrate a successful trip, as well as my birthday, at the Yard House in Waikiki. About halfway through the night, my one co-worker only a couple years older asks me if I’m single. After confirming that I was indeed single, he said that we were going to go pick up some women.
Music to my freshly single ears.
When it finally came time, he and I circled the room a couple times, scouting as men do when on the prowl for pleasurable company, and finally agreed upon two very comely University of Hawaii students who we eventually won over, probably in spite of ourselves. We paired off and went back to our respective rooms, with me feeling like a champ for pulling off my first successful bar pick up, something long-dreamed of as a dorky science nerd. She and I did what we set out to do, and afterwards I decided to hop in the shower since it’s about 4 am and I had an 11:15 am flight. She if she can join me in the shower for a bit, hops out a little before me, and next thing I know, I hear the door slam close.
It took me a good second or two to register the noise I just heard, my mind still slow after a good 8 hours of partying. Once the gears finally spin, my mind jumps immediately to the security briefing we were all given prior to our trip out here. We were informed to watch our belongings closely because Honolulu, and Waikiki in particular, were known for their high rates of personal theft. As such, we were fairly vigilant with our belongings, making sure to follow our guidance. We were also told, unofficially, to be weary if ever taking anyone back to our hotel rooms, as employees had reported several thefts in such situations.
Oh fuck.
I exploded out of the shower, ran into the now vacant room, immediately noticed that my phone and wallet were not where I usually left them, and swore very loudly. Thankfully my laptop was still in my backpack when I quickly checked it, so at least I knew I probably wouldn’t get fired for this. I did a cursory search of my jeans pockets, looked under the beds and furniture, and then ultimately resigned myself to my embarrassing fate. I pulled out my laptop to find the phone numbers for all the credit cards I had and started calling on the room phone, annoyed that I’d get charged out the nose for these calls. I experienced a little schadenfreude during this process since she’d now never get to use the cards, and only made off with $6 and a mediocre cell phone she probably couldn’t even pawn.
Finally done calling all the various companies, I work up the confidence to call my parents and ask for help now that I’d at least taken some proactive measures. Thankfully I wouldn’t be waking them up since it was about 5 AM Honolulu time, which meant that it was 11 AM in Maryland. Unfortunately I’d have to come up with a story to explain to my boss what all these long distance room call were about, but that seemed like less of a priority at the moment. With each ring, I pray harder that my father is the one who picks up. He always picks up almost immediately. If it ever rang more than once, chances are it was my mom who was going to pick up. It rang 3 times.
My heart sank as I heard a female voice.
“Hey there Hawaii caller, what’s up?” my mom said, knowing it was likely me calling but also placing the burden on me to explain why I’m calling from a Hawaiian phone number and not my cell phone.
“Hey mom, I uhhh, I lost my phone,” I explained as basically as possible.
“Oh no hon, what happened?” she asked, being the caring mother that she is to her one and only special boy.
“I think … I think someone stole it,” I explained some more, my embarrassment likely showing over my lightly tanned cheeks.
“Jesus, how did you get your phone stolen?” she asked, her tone melting from caring to concerned.
“Could you just put dad on the phone?” I requested hurriedly, trying to spare her the unwanted details of her son’s dalliances.
“Yeah ok,” she quickly agreed.
I could hear the muffled sounds of my mom calling my dad over, my dad asking who it was, and my mom telling him my phone got stolen.
“How’d you get your phone stolen?” said the bass of a retired Marine sergeant.
Thankfully for me, my dad was pretty awesome and at this point in my adulthood we had transitioned into a relationship that skewed more on the friendly side than the parental side. That’s no slight to my mother, who is also awesome, but there are certain things sons and mothers don’t discuss. Sons and fathers with war stories, however, are an entirely different matter.
“I brought a girl back to my room and I think she stole my phone and wallet,” I confessed in a single breath.
“Oh, and she got your wallet too?” he let slip without thinking. I heard my mom take the Lord’s name in vain in the background.
“Dammit Dad, I was hoping to keep this one from mom,” I said resignedly. “She doesn’t wanna hear about this stuff, man.”
“She’ll get over it, she’s not dumb. So what happened?” he asked.
“Just like I said, I brought a girl back to my room, and while I was in the shower, she ran off with my wallet and phone,” I explained with some more detail.
“Hell of a way to celebrate your birthday,” my dad said, laughing at my juvenile recklessness.
“Yeah yeah, I know. I already cancelled all my cards so she couldn’t use them and I only had a little bit of cash, so it’s not a huge deal, but I don’t know what to do about my flight tomorrow and not having an ID,” I said, finally letting them know my current dilemma.
“Oh man, what time is your flight?” his sudden concern mirroring my own.
“Yeah exactly. Around eleven my time, so like 6 hours,” I said, my distress rising at the lack of time to solve this problem. Just admitting I only had 6 hours to solve this almost gave me a stroke.
“Jeeesus Christ,” he snorted. “You really fucked this one up.”
“Yeah, I know, that’s why I’m calling you guys!” I exclaimed while also trying to hold back my own laughter at the absurdity of this situation.
“Call hotel security and report it. They’ll probably know way better than we would about stuff like this. I doubt you’re the first idiot who’s fallen into a honey trap there before,” pointing out the seeming obviousness of my folly.
“Ugh, I was afraid you were gonna say to call them. I was hoping not to involve them,” I lamented.
“Yeah well, that’s the only idea I’ve got so unless you’ve got something better, I’d hang up and dial the front desk,” he concluded.
“Alright, alright,” I said, taking a deep breath and rubbing my forehead instinctively. “I can’t believe this happened man, what the fuck?”
“That’s what you get for chasing tail. Cut that shit out, it’s unbecoming,” letting me know the Important Life Lesson one was always supposed to learn from these things.
“Yeah yeah, I know. I’ll work through the consequences of my actions when I get home,” I admitted begrudgingly.
“Good, I’m serious. Get home safely and keep us posted,” he concluded. “We love you.”
“Thanks. I’ll let you know how things go. Love you guys too. Talk to you later,” I said as I hung up.
I took a minute to compose myself and called the front desk. While I waited for security, I decided to start packing since I had to leave for the airport in - oh my god - 3 and a half hours. I furiously packed a month’s worth of clothes as quickly as I could, all the while mentally flogging myself for being such an idiot. I was mostly finished when security got to my room, about 15 minutes later.
Two fairly large men came in with some paperwork and a clipboard to take my statement and look around for anything they could find. About 10 minutes later, while I was writing down my official statement, one of the security guards called my attention while holding a couple of familiar items in his hand.
“Sir are these yours?” he asked perfunctorily.
I sat in my chair, agape, at my stolen wallet and phone. My natural reaction, when asked by two security guards if something was mine, was to say no. Understandably then, it took my brain a little while to do the calculation and determine that “No” was probably far more damning than the embarrassing admission that “Yes, officer, that is indeed the thing I thought was stolen.” Thankfully they were good-natured about it and reassured me that, no worries, this happens all the time. Yeah, thanks.
Once I saw where they’d been found, my beer-soaked memory finally tumbled back into place. I then distinctly remembered coming back into the room and purposefully placing them in a smaller, more hidden pocket of my backpack and thinking to myself that this would certainly foil any would-be thief and that I thought I was a genius for having this idea. It turns out I only outsmarted myself instead of any would-be thieves.
Thankfully with this crisis averted, I would at least be able to get home without much of an issue. I would just have to survive on airplane snacks for about 16 hours - not the worst fate. I packed up a few more things and called my parents on my happily recovered cell phone. They knew there was good news immediately upon seeing my number come up.
“Wow, that was fast,” my dad said, sounding happily surprised.
“Yeah well, turns out I forgot I put them in my backpack,” I immediately confessed, knowing that there’s no use in hiding the truth at this point.
Raucous laughter sounded through the phone at my revelation.
“You didn’t think to look in there?” he asked through his waning chuckles.
“I don’t know, man! My mind was elsewhere at the time,” I said, somewhat defensively. “I put it there because I thought she might try to swipe it and then completely forgot.”
“Yeah I’ll bet you did. You got some birthday luck on this one, bud. Don’t forget that,” he said, pointing out my Lesson again.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Using the wrong head, I got it. I just wanted to let you guys know they found everything and it’s all good,” I said, tired from the night’s drama. “I’m just gonna go to bed since I have to be up in like 3 hours.”
“Yeah, get some rest. Glad everything’s ok. We love you,” he said, sounding amused and relieved.
“Love you guys too,” I said, hanging up.
I set my alarm for 8:30 so I could have some time to finish packing up and drop off the rental car before I caught my 11:15 flight. Less than 3 hours. It was more of a nap really, but at least I’d probably be able to sleep on a flight for once. I turned out the lights and was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I woke up to sun on my face that shouldn’t have been there.
I burst out of bed.
Fuck it’s 10:24. How the fuck did I sleep through my alarm? Fuck I still have to pack. Oh shit, the car. Fuckfuckfuckfuckkkkk. Ok, I can still make it. I can still make it. Why are you like this?
I finished packing in a whirlwind and raced to my car, pausing only twice to mentally check that I had everything and to curse the elevators that seemed to move slower than the Tectonic plates. I threw everything in the backseat of my rental car and drove frantically to the airport drop-off. My hopefulness grew at the sight of a road with no traffic.
Ok, it’s 10:40, maybe they’ll hold it for me if I hurry.
I got there in record time, dropped off the car and sprinted as fast as I could to the check-in right at 11.
“Hi, I’m checking in for the 11:15 to LAX,” I said breathlessly to the very confused gate agent.
“Sir there’s no way you’re going to get there in time,” he said, rightly surprised that I would even expect to be able to make it.
“Did it leave yet, can they hold it?” I asked, hoping I’d either get lucky again or they’d take pity on me. Honestly either was fine at this point.
“Flights usually push away from the gate 20 minutes prior to departure time, so I’m sorry sir it’s too late,” he said, his voice softening as he did the math between my panting and outlandish expectations and realized I knew I fucked up. If he only knew.
“Fuck. I thought so,” I took a deep breath and paused. “Is it possible to switch to a later flight?”
“Yeah definitely. I’ll check out if there’s another flight that can get you home today. Let’s see,” he clacked away at his keyboard bringing up all the different ways to get me back home. “The earliest flight we can get you on is a 5:30 pm flight through San Francisco that should get you back to Philadelphia around 11:30 the next morning. Is that ok?”
“Yeah that’s fine, I’ll take what I can get,” relieved that I just had to wait 6 more hours to be out of this mess.
“Alright then, the change fee is $50,” he said.
Oh shit.
“Uhhh, there’s a change fee?” I asked timidly.
“Yes sir, there’s a $50 fee to change non-refundable flights,” he elaborated.
“I only have $6,” I confessed sheepishly.
“Oh that’s ok, we take credit or debit,” he said, hoping to ease my apparent embarrassment.
“No, I know,” I struggled to think of the least embarrassing way to explain the situation. “I – I thought someone stole my wallet last night and cancelled all my cards.”
“Oh man. You really had a blow out for your last night, didn’t you?” he asked, quickly solving The Mystery of the Wayward Tourist.
“Yeah, and it’s my 25th birthday today too. I think I nailed it,” I said, sarcastically acknowledging my situation. I thought for a moment and came to the unfortunate conclusion that there was only one thing I could realistically do in this situation. “Could my parents pay over the phone?”
“Let me check with my manager, but I think that should be ok,” he said, doing his best to be encouraging.
I stepped out of line, pulled out my phone, took a deep breath and called mommy and daddy.
“Hey hon! Make it to the airport?” my mother’s voice asked.
“Yeah, I’m here, but I uhhh,” I stepped farther away from the growing line and lowered my voice. “I – I overslept and missed my flight.”
“Are you serious?” she half-yelled into the phone, while in the background I heard my dad guffaw and yell “He missed his flight didn’t he?”
“How did you oversleep? After all that? Didn’t you set an alarm?” she asked, incredulous.
“I did! I must’ve slept through it, I don’t know. I woke up at like 10:20 and got here as fast as I could, but I got here too late,” laying out the facts of the situation.
“Yeah no kidding, why didn’t yo—you know what? Nevermind, it’s obviously too late, so what’s up? Are they changing your flights?” she asked, mercifully cutting to the point.
“Yeah, but there’s a $50 change fee,” I spilled, then pausing for a beat. “And remember I had to cancel all my cards last night?”
“Child I swear … Is the airline is ok with us paying over the phone?” again mercifully cutting to the point.
By then the gate agent returned and was helping the next customer but was able to confirm that it was ok. I told my mom and then waited until he called me over again.
“Thanks for this. What a mess,” I said, exasperated with myself. “This one really got away from me.”
“Yeah certainly did, didn't it?” she laughed gently. “Dad’s right though, you got lucky on this one. Please try to be more careful when you’re on travel. If this were something more serious, you’d be literally stuck on an island almost halfway around the world.”
“Yeah true, but I guess another day here wouldn’t be too traumatic,” I teased.
“Uh huh, funny stuff mister,” she ribbed. “Just be more careful is all.”
“I know. You’re right. Luckily, I don’t think I could pull this off again if I tried,” I said, trying to assure my mother that this level of buffoonery was anything but planned.
“That’s good to hear. I wouldn’t rely on that much fortune as a rule of thumb moving forward,” she said, trying to ensure that I didn’t expect to just wiggle out of any future jam.
“I generally don’t, but I’ll take it when I can get it,” I declared.
The gate agent called me over and I handed over the phone. They got everything sorted out and I was all set for my flights. The gate agent then returned my phone for me to say goodbye to my mom.
“Hey thanks again, you guys definitely saved my ass here,” I said with genuine gratitude.
“Yeah well, comes with the job sometimes,” she affirmed. “Luckily it was only fifty bucks, but consider this your official birthday present.”
“I’ll definitely take it,” I exclaimed.
“Do you have a ride home from the airport?” she asked, bringing up my only lingering concern.
“Well, my roommates will be at work, but I might have enough to take SEPTA when I get back. If I don’t I guess I’ll just call one of them and wait. Not much else I can do, really,” I stated.
“We can come get you if you’re stuck,” she insisted.
“Oh mom, no,” I protested, knowing full well she was serious. “You guys have done enough as it is, I think I’ve got it from here. You don’t need to drive two-and-a-half hours to give me a ride home.”
“Ok, just let us know if you change your mind,” she yielded, glad to hear the coast seemed clear.
“I will. If things go sideways again I’ll call, but thankfully all I need to do is not spend any money and I should be ok,” I told her with my final confession.
“Why? How much do you have on you?” she asked, concern rising yet again.
“$6,” I conceded.
“Jesus, how much is the train home?” she asked.
“I think it’s only $5, so I should be good,” I proclaimed triumphantly.
“Good Lord, kid. Cutting it close. Get home safely, we love you,” she said, audibly rolling her eyes.
“Love you too,” I replied.
When I finally got home, I called and made sure to let her know the train was actually $6.
submitted by IrishCreme314 to stories [link] [comments]

Grab a blank betting slip and write the horse’s name with the race time and course next to it. Underneath write the odds and draw a large ‘C’ around them (example in image below) – this means you are taking the current odds available, which are 6/1 in this example. You can however use a lucky 15 betting slip for anything you can bet on! Not a lot of people know or even think about using a lucky 15 for other bets such as football. Football is a really good one in our opinion, rugby, golf or even big brother can be used for this bet. Simply write down your four selections and either write 'Lucky 15' on the slip or tick the Lucky 15 box if there is one. A £1 Lucky 15 costs £15, so basically multiply the basic bet amount by 15 (or divide the total amount you want to bet by 15 to give your unit stake ie if you want to bet £30, place a £2 Lucky) Betting slips are the paper record of your wager at your local bookie. When you want to make a bet, you need to write all of the relevant information about that bet down as a record for you and the bookie, in case you get lucky. Each operator will have a different betting slip in their shops. Great poem M C last two lines says it all Ruth Poet's Pride is picking up the winnings Poet's Lady is the gambling poet who did it! Don it was a sure bet you would spot the difference!

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