Tory burch studded jelly flip flop

Melinda and the Little Green Men

2023.05.28 22:04 Honest-Credit-1297 Melinda and the Little Green Men

Melinda and the Little Green Men
by Andrew Roller
Melinda and the Little Green Men
Table of Contents
Chapter One - A Sad End
Chapter Two - A Castle for a Queen
Chapter Three - Incommodious
Chapter Four - The Sewer Room
Chapter Five - The Teleport Threat
Chapter Six - Neverwhere
Chapter Seven - Permanent Perigee
Chapter Eight - Losers Welcome ( Especially )
Chapter Nine - Buried Alive
Chapter Ten - Gone Away
Chapter Eleven - Dead Broke
Chapter Twelve - Grave’s End
Chapter Thirteen - Audition
Chapter Fourteen - Heavenly Flush
Chapter Fifteen - Coffined
Chapter Sixteen - The Big Bang
Chapter Seventeen - A Sucky Day
Chapter Eighteen - Examination
Chapter Nineteen - Expelled
Chapter Twenty - Enslaved
Chapter Twenty-One - The Bugler
Chapter Twenty-Two - The Gates of Salvation
Chapter Twenty-Three - The Amateur Genius
Chapter Twenty-Four - Pooper’s Paradise
Chapter Twenty-Five - Eisegesis
Melinda and the Little Green Men
by Andrew Roller
Chapter One - A Sad End
It was their last day on earth. The two girls, playing in the field in their suburban neighborhood, didn’t know this. If Melinda and Emily were ever to return to earth, it wouldn’t be for a very long time.
Melinda was ten years old. I could say that she looked “striking”. Or I could use some other politically correct term. In fact, she was very lovely. Her lank, flaxen hair fell to her slim waist. A white string bikini clung to her svelte figure.
Emily was seven years old. Her short red hair fell to her shoulders. Stout, she resembled a girl version of Winnie-the-Pooh. Emily wore a one-piece floral print swimsuit. Both girls had on rubber flip-flops.
Emily was clever. Though she was only seven years old, she wore a red fireman’s hat with the number “21” printed on it. Emily hoped that her hat would fool people into believing that she was older, or even that she was a fireman.
On this bright sunny day, something flashed in the sky. Both girls saw the silvery disc as it caught the sunlight. Emily was quick to figure out what it was.
“It’s a flying saucer!” Emily said. Melinda, who was taller than Emily, watched it with her friend. The saucer sailed over the neighborhood. As it approached, the girls saw it clearly. It had a flat circular base, and a domed top. A line of porthole-like windows encircled the lower part of the dome. There was a front-facing windshield.
The saucer, and its shadow, skimmed over the field. The saucer’s shadow briefly engulfed the girls. Then the saucer passed over a treeline. It settled into tree-dotted scrubland. From that place came a sound of snapping tree limbs, and of brush being crushed. Silence followed.
“Let’s go!” Emily urged. Both girls wanted a closer look at the flying saucer. It was unimaginable that such an object could land in their neighborhood! The girls had no idea that they would soon be swept up in an ongoing galactic war. They rushed into the treeline. Then Melinda and Emily crept into the shady brush beyond.
The saucer was there. It stood on metal legs, hulking amid the surrounding trees. An electrical hum, like that put out by high tension wires, came softly from the saucer’s smooth hull.
An airlock opened in the side of the saucer. A stair-equipped gangplank descended. Then, as Melinda and Emily watched, a line of little green men came down the gangplank. The men were about as tall as the girls. They were carrying a pink worm. It was a big worm, as big as a little green man.
The men laid their worm down on the grass. The last men in the group had brought shovels. The shortest of the little green men was in charge of the men. Named Chirpley, he set several men to work digging a hole.
Emily crept forward. Melinda tried to stop her, but decided to accompany her. The little green men saw the girls. There was a mutual cry of surprise from both parties. The men stopped their digging. Emily asked what they were doing.
“We’re digging a grave,” Chirpley answered. He and the other men stood with solemn faces. Emily, who sometimes went fishing, said that it was odd to bury a worm. She only dug worms out of the earth.
Chirpley stood straighter. He, like his fellows, had a round head. Two green antennae stuck out of the top of his head. He was without clothing, except for a white loincloth that, being puffy and full, resembled diapers. Chirpley wore white gloves. On his small feet were big, rhinestone-studded cowboy boots.
“This is no ordinary worm!” Chirpley told the girls. “It’s our queen!”
“Except she’s dead now,” a second little green man said. He looked much like Chirpley, with a round head and antennae. He wore a loincloth, gloves, and cowboy boots.
“She was a very old queen,” a third little green man said.
“So, since she’s dead, we must bury her,” a fourth little green man said. There were, in all, a dozen of them.
“Stand aside!” Chirpley told the girls. It didn’t matter that the girls were already at a distance from the dead worm. Chirpley rarely missed a chance to look important. Even in front of little Earth girls.
The little green men dug their grave. Or, rather, a few of them did, while the others watched this with Melinda and Emily. Chirpley supervised.
The dead queen was buried. The little green men had just filled in her grave when someone, off in the trees, yelled,
“Attack!” Stones and handfuls of dirt flew from the treeline. Several little green men were hit by the stones. A stone banged off of Emily’s Fire hat. She and Melinda screamed. So did the little green men. The men ran back aboard their flying saucer and, as neighborhood boys whooped and hollered, and threw more dirt and stones, Melinda and Emily followed the men.
No sooner had the green men and the girls rushed into the saucer, than something came out of it. Two somethings, in fact. They were grotesque. Ghosts, they resembled white sheets torn by the wind from a clothesline.
The boys charged from the trees. They were attacking through the shady brush when the ghosts set upon them.
“OOOOOO!” the ghosts howled. The boys screamed in terror. They fled back into the trees, and into the field.
The saucer hummed more loudly. Its gangplank retracted. Just before the ship buttoned itself up, the ghosts zipped back inside of it. The saucer whisked into the sky. It disappeared beyond the clouds.
Within the saucer, Melinda and Emily cringed before the ghosts. These hung over them, looking horrid. The ghosts had blank, bulging eyes, and gaping mouths with fangs. They had scared the boys, and were now scaring the girls. To the little green men, they were damn annoying.
“Our spaceship’s haunted,” Gauss apologized. He was one of the men. He and several of his crewmates, though dressed like the others, also wore utility belts.
“But we got it at a discount,” a fellow crewman said. The green men stood with the girls on the saucer’s bridge. To one side was the closed airlock. To the right, and to the rear, the bridge opened onto other rooms.
The saucer was named “Regoob”. Compared to a military cruiser, it was a little ship. Yet Regoob was plenty roomy. Its many spaces held a number of unwanted passengers. But these occupants were mostly small, and furtive, unlike the two hovering ghosts.
One occupant was big. He was a worm, like the men’s dead queen. He slithered about in the saucer’s recesses. Except now. Curious about the girls, this worm peered from a shadowed corridor. Then, he did the one thing that he was known for, and named for. He farted.
“Farrrrrrrrt!” It was a big, smelly fart. Both girls clutched their little noses. The little green men did the same. The ghosts, who had been so hideously maleficent, fled. An embarrassed Fartley slipped away into the ship.
“Peeyou!” Emily cried. Melinda echoed her. The girls made for the airlock. That’s when they realized that Regoob was airborne. In fact, the little saucer was far beyond the Earth.
“We’d better go home,” Melinda said. Emily wasn’t so sure. The saucer’s pilot’s seat, before its dashboard and its windshield, struck her as inviting.
“Can I drive?” she asked. Since no one was, at the moment, controlling where the saucer went, she figured she might try.
That’s when Gauss saw the Moon approaching. It was approaching fast. He gave a cry of alarm. The other men, now seeing what he saw, gave panicked yells.
Emily jumped into the pilot’s chair. Grabbing the saucer’s yoke, she steered the ship clear of the Moon.
“Hooray!” the little green men yelled, with Melinda. Emily continued to fly the speeding saucer. Gauss gave her driving tips.
Soon, the ship was approaching Jupiter. As anyone who’s watched the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” knows, or even the film, “Starship Poopers”, Jupiter is no ordinary planet. It’s a gateway to other parts of the galaxy.
Emily couldn’t resist flying through a galactic gateway. Regoob sped toward Jupiter. The planet soon filled Regoob’s windshield.
Within Jupiter’s clouds was a bright oval. This wasn’t Jupiter’s red spot, but a metal doughnut. This doughnut, however, was slender. It was dotted by circular lights.
“Head for the center!” Gauss said to Emily. She did. Regoob shot through the slim doughnut and into hyperspace.
A kaleidoscope of colors streaked past Regoob. They were very pretty. The girls remarked upon them as Regoob tunneled through our galaxy.
The little saucer popped from hyperspace. It sailed among the ordinary stars again. Ahead was a ringed planet.
“That’s Quigley!” Zolna, one of the little green men, told the girls.
“We live there, in a castle.” Gauss said.
“A castle!” Melinda was impressed.
“Does your castle have a fireman?” Emily asked. The answer was “no”. So Emily, who was now Regoob’s pilot, asked to be the men’s fireman as well. The men agreed.
This left Melinda wondering what she could be. Before dinner, of course, since she still hoped to get home soon.
“You can be our queen!” Zolna told her.
“I’ll be the princess!” Emily said. She was still intent, too, on being the men’s fireman and pilot.
“I’m the king!” Chirpley said. This brought Fartley-like noises from the other men. So Chirpley settled on being what he already was, the men’s captain.
Somewhere in the ship, Fartley ensured his place in this little world, by farting.
Quigley loomed. Space traffic was flowing toward the purple planet. Quigley was belted by shimmering rings. But their colors clashed. Melinda remarked on this.
“It’s better than having no rings at all, like Earth,” Chirpley riposted. He did not mention that planet Quigley lacked a moon.
Emily followed the space traffic into Quigley’s atmosphere. There, the ships scattered to their destinations. Emily, directed by Gauss, flew over a city. Its buildings, compared to those on Earth, were outlandishly shaped. Beyond the city lay a beach community. And then, shining to the sunlit horizon, was a lavender sea.
“Land there,” Gauss told Emily. He meant the far side of the beach community, near the seashore. Emily put the saucer down in a patch of sand.
Regoob stood upon its metal legs amid other parked spaceships. Makeshift buildings were also neighbors to to Regoob. No castle was in sight. The sea lay near.
Chapter Two - A Castle for a Queen
Zolna opened the airlock. Its gangplank lowered, and the men and the girls disembarked. The hour was noon. It was hot. There was a salt tang in the air and, in the distance, the waves could be heard as they broke along the shore.
Chirpley led the party along a sandy trail. It wound between the spaceships and the homes. Hofsted, the fattest of the little green men, waddled at the file’s rear. He complained about leaving the ship.
“We’ll be at our castle soon,” Chirpley said.
The beach community slumbered in the seaside air. There were odd odors. These smells, of cooking food, caused Hofsted to say he was hungry. The men ignored him. A seagull sailed overhead.
Creatures gazed here and there from the spaceships and from the homes. Their alien faces startled Melinda and Emily. It was as if they’d wandered into a back lot on Star Wars, full of extras in outlandish costumes! Some of the aliens were surprised to see the girls.
“What are Earthlings doing here?!” an alien asked.
“There goes the neighborhood,” an alien, observing the girls, lamented.
Chirpley heard this.
“Commoners!” he riposted, to his alien neighbors. “Show some respect for royalty!” Melinda realized that Chirpley meant her, and Emily. She blushed. As for Emily, she trotted along with a self-confident look. She’d piloted a flying saucer, and now she was the inheritor of Luke Skywalker’s realm. Plus she was a fireman, and a princess. This was a fine day!
The trail led onto the beach. It was mostly vacant on this weekday, with a few bathers and seagulls. Chirpley indicated a large sculpted heap of sand on the shore. It stood just above where the inrolling sea boiled.
“There it is!” he said. He and his crewmates beamed at Melinda and Emily.
The men had built a big sand castle. It had some attractive towers, a wall and a moat. Several small flags, in various colors, decorated the edifice. An old door lay across the moat. It gave access to a hole in the ground, that the castle enclosed.
Emily was entranced. When the men invited her to come inside, meaning down into the hole, she agreed. Melinda cautiously accompanied them. As she did, she seemed to hear her name on the wind. But she saw nothing unusual, besides the bathing aliens and the seagulls.
Zolna led the group into the hole. He did so with a flashlight. Several other men lit flashlights too, as the group entered the hole.
The hole had a stone staircase. It had been carved by time, and by an intelligent hand. Sand dusted or clung to some of the steps. So did seaweed and seashells. These also cluttered the floor of the cave that the stairs led down into. An old stove sat in the cave.
“This is Mr. Lehman’s cave,” Zolna told Melinda and Emily.
“We used to be his gardeners,” Hofsted said proudly.
“Gardners?” Melinda asked. She saw only stone, and the oceans’s detritus.
“It was an easy job,” Hofsted admitted.
“He’s a sailor,” Chirpley said.
“But he’s disappeared,” Gauss added. “We don’t see him anymore.”
“That’s too bad,” Melinda said.
An apparition appeared on the stairs, near the lowest step. Melinda yelped. Emily gave a gasp of surprise, and the men gave startled cries.
“Melinda,” the ghostly figure said. It resolved itself as a tall, slender boy.
“You’re human!” Emily gasped. The boy’s image remained streaked with transmission lines, as if it were being beamed into the cave from far away.
“Quiet!” the boy snapped at Emily. She gasped anew. So did Melinda, and the others
“You’re my bride,” the boy told Melinda. The bikini-clad girl shrieked.
“I’m King Kleigowski,” the boy said. “From Earth, of course. My galactic fleet will arrive in a moment. Stay here as it attacks. Then, I will land, and we’ll be married,” the boy said to Melinda.
Seawater spilled down the stairs. The boy’s image vanished.
“My God!” Melinda gasped.
“She’s not marrying you!” Emily, finding her courage, told the place on the stairs where the boy’s image had been.
More seawater came down the stairs.
“We’d better go,” Zolna said. “The cave floods at high tide.”
Emily scrambled up the stairs with Melinda. The men followed. The tide was boiling about the castle. In the clear sky above, thunder sounded. Then sirens began to wail in the distance. Kevin Kleigowski, who had been terrorizing the galaxy’s far side for some time, was now attacking Planet Quigley!
Melinda and Emily ran with the men from the beach. They headed back to Regoob. All about them, the beach community was coming alive to the danger that thundered above. A battle was underway in the sky.
Melinda and Emily ran up the gangplank into Regoob. As the crew came in after them, a seagull flew into the ship. Emily reclaimed her place in the pilot’s seat.
Regoob took off. Other spaceships were beginning to rise from the land too. Suddenly, a transmission forced itself onto a television screen on Regoob’s dashboard. A man in a military uniform issued a warning. His insignia showed that he was a Quiglian general.
“Attention all civilians!” the general warned. “We’re under attack! Do not leave Planet Quigley! All civilian spaceships are grounded!”
“We’d better land,” Hofsted said.
“Ignore that!” Chirpley shouted.
“But—“ Melinda gasped. Emily flew stolidly higher.
“We’re soldiers!” Chirpley said.
“We’re volunteer lifeguards,” Zolna said.
“Good enough!” Chirpley retorted.
The saucer was now climbing at an eye-popping speed. It cleared the clouds, and the sunlit sky. The starry cosmos opened before it. The ship sped toward the nearest ship in the Quiglian fleet. The Quiglians were locked in a battle with King Kleigowski’s ships.
As Regoob closed on the big Quiglian cruiser, the general reappeared on the saucer’s dashboard T.V.
“Stop!” the general ordered.
Chirpley drew himself up to his full, diminutive height.
“Sir!” he told the general, with an irked look. “I am Chirpley Superlapee.” To Emily, Chirpley said, “Full speed ahead!” Then, for effect, he added, “Don’t shoot ‘till you see the whites of the their eyes.” Since he was sounding very important, Chirpley added, “Your money or your life!”
The saucer rushed at the cruiser. As it loomed, Emily began to think that going full speed ahead might not be a good idea.
Then she realized that they were too close to the cruiser to stop! As a collision became obvious, she leapt from the pilot’s seat.
“Duck!” Emily called to Melinda. Samuel, the seagull who’d flown into the ship, drew himself up to his full, diminutive height. He did so on the floor, where he’d settled by Melinda’s feet.
“I, Miss, am not a duck! I’m a sea-“ Samuel began.
Melinda felt a sudden tingling wash over her. She was standing somewhere else, if still beside Samuel, as the bird finished giving his species.
“-gull,” Samuel said.
They were all someplace else. That is, the girls, the men, and whatever else that had been on the saucer’s bridge, was now in a jail cell. The jail’s front wall and it’s door consisted of iron bars. A heavy white mist clung to the jail’s ceiling.
The saucer was nowhere to be seen. But there was a low hum, that is common to spaceships.
A tall boy came to the cell’s door. Melinda gasped. So did Emily, as cries came from the men.
“It’s that boy!” Melinda yelped, alarmed, to cries of alarm from her cellmates. She cringed. So did Emily, and the others.
“Call me Kevin,” the boy said. He grinned at Melinda. “You’re lucky I’m around. Your little friend ( he meant Emily ) crashed your saucer into a Quiglian cruiser.”
“I’m not marrying you!” Melinda said.
“Me neither!” Emily said.
“Me neither!” Hofsted said.
Kevin laughed.
“You’d better let me do the thinking,” he told Melinda. “My teleport ray couldn’t reach you on planet Quigley. You were too far away. So I told you to stay. And what did you do?” He grinned, and not pleasantly. “You fled, of course, directly toward me!”
As Kevin spoke, the mist coalesced. Suddenly, it was no longer a mist, but a pair of fanged, bulging-eyed ghosts!
“OOOOOO!” the ghosts howled, at Kevin. The boy ran shrieking out of the jail cell. A moment later, tingling engulfed Melinda. Everyone else in the cell was caught in the same sensation. Then, as suddenly as they’d arrived, the captives all disappeared from the jail cell.
Chapter Three - Incommodious
Melinda sat on the floor. Her head rested against a tiled wall. A sink was above it. Around her, in disorder, lay a number of little green men. Emily sat nearby. Samuel, lying near Emily, righted himself. He flew up and about in a mist that floated along the bathroom ceiling.
They’d been teleported again.
“Where are we now?!” Emily asked.
“I’m in a toilet!” Chirpley shouted, from a bathroom stall. “Help!”
The men and the girls gathered themselves. Some of the men, being teleported to the bathroom, had landed in toilet stalls. Chirpley hadn’t just wound up in a stall. He’d been planted with such force into a toilet that his bottom was stuck in the hole at its base. Toilet water surrounded his semi-submerged figure. He gazed helplessly from the commode.
“Don’t flush it!” Chirpley cried, of his toilet, as the girls and some crewmen piled into his stall. The group couldn’t help laughing. Chirpley, however, didn’t laugh. Being stuck in a toilet was not his idea of a good time,
Emily and the crew pulled Chirpley out of the toilet. He was unhurt. His body was wet in places. His diaper-like loincloth was soaked.
A woman screamed. Shouts came from the men who hadn’t crammed themselves into Chirpley’s stall.
Kevin had teleported his captives from his spaceship to a Quiglian one. Specifically, he’d teleported his captives into a ladies’ bathroom aboard the Quiglian ship.
“Eeeeek!” the woman visitor screamed. “There are men in the bathroom! In the ladies’ bathroom!” Soldiers arrived. When they learned that the men in the women’s bathroom had also crashed their saucer into the Quiglian ship, they arrested them. Chirpley and his crew were brought before General Grouchley. They were accompanied by Melinda and Emily.
General Grouchley commanded the Quiglian fleet. His flagship was called The Drut. It was this that Regoob had crashed into.
George Grouchley was big, fat and green. His uniform strained to contain him. It was he who had grounded all of Quigley’s civilian ships, and who’d ordered Regoob to stop. It was he whom Chirpley had disobeyed.
Chirpley stood to attention before General Grouchley. He did so with wet pants, from the toilet. Gathered behind Chirpley was his crew, and the girls. The volunteer lifeguard saluted the general. This did not improve George’s mood.
“I understand you were in the ladies’ bathroom,” George said to Chirpley.
“Yes, sir,” Chirpley answered. “I was stuck in a toilet.”
“Your saucer crashed into my ship!” George told Chirpley.
“Yes, Sir,” the volunteer lifeguard replied. Emily slipped partly behind Melinda, to escape the general’s eyes.
“We’ll need a new ship,” Chirpley told George. “To continue our noble fight against King Kleigowski.”
“Kleigowski’s fleet is in full retreat!” George told Chirpley. “I’m not sure what happened. One minute they were attacking, the next — they were fleeing!”
“I may know why - “ Chirpley said.
“Obviously, I’m an even better general than I knew,” George concluded. He eyed Chirpley. “Get your stinky saucer out of my ship! And stay out of the ladies’ bathroom!”
“Yes, Sir,” Chirpley replied.
Several women came screaming into the general’s presence.
“Help!” the women shouted. “Our bathroom is haunted!”
Chapter Four - The Sewer Room
Regoob had smashed through a large glass panel in the hull of The Drut, near its stern. Doing so, Regoob had plunged itself into a big cesspool. Much of the cesspool’s contents had emptied into outer space. This left the saucer at the bottom of the big cesspool, in such sludge as remained. The cesspool stank.
Repair ships had plugged the hole in The Drut’s hull. The big, open cesspool was in The Drut’s sewer room. This was a big, high-ceilinged room, with a crane. As Regoob’s crew arrived, along with the girls, the crane lifted Regoob out of the cesspool. It plopped the saucer, with a clang, onto the sewer room’s floor. A work crew gathered about the stinky craft.
Chirpley strode up to the work crew.
“I am the captain of this august ship,” he said, in a tone that he hoped sounded important. Chirpley had a high voice. But now, his voice was mouse-squeaky, for he was holding his nose. So was his whole crew, and the girls.
The work crew was wearing disposable masks. One of them regarded Chirpley, who remained in wet pants.
“You own this piece of shit?” the workman asked Chirpley. “It’s going to need a lot of cleaning.”
“We’ll wait until you’re done with it,” Chirpley said.
“You’ll clean it now,” a workman told Chirpley. “General Grouchley wants you, and your saucer, off of his ship!”
“Oh!” Chirpley said. “We must have important duties awaiting us.”
“The general just wants you to go!” a workman said.
Meanwhile, back at the ladies’ bathroom, a priest had been called. He was exorcising the bathroom of its two ghosts. Ladies waited with rising anxiety as this holy procedure proceeded.
“Hurry up!” a woman complained.
“I have to go!” another woman said.
The priest paused in his incantations. He assured the ladies that they wouldn’t have to wait long. There was no need to go elsewhere. The priest was a speedy priest. But, if he were to rush, in an unholy way, the ghosts might not be exorcised. So the priest proceeded with due reverence for the divine. And the ladies waited. With rising anxiety.
Chapter Five - The Teleport Threat
Regoob left The Drut. That ship, and its fleet, were now returning to planet Quigley. Emily was piloting Regoob. She was doing so with the purpose of learning to fly it better.
Melinda was aboard Regoob. So was everyone in Regoob’s crew. Samuel, the seagull, had again invited himself aboard. The ghosts, exorcised from the ladies’ bathroom, were aboard Regoob too.
On the saucer’s bridge, teleportation was being discussed.
“People teleport all the time on Star Trek,” Emily said. Chirpley had seen the show.
“We call it ‘Apes in Space’”, he said. Emily scowled at him.
“Who knew an ape - I mean, a human - would invent teleportation?” Gauss asked. Melinda asked what he meant.
“No one in the galaxy can teleport,” Gauss said. “Except, now, Kevin Kleigowski can.” Everyone on the bridge considered this.
“We need to stop him,” Melinda said.
“Yes!” Emily agreed. “He could attack Earth!”
Chirpley saw a chance to be important. Standing straight, though he was still short, he said,
“Men! We must go after King Kleigowski! We must climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, and go where only apes in space have gone before!”
Gauss hastened to a computer.
“I’ll see if I can find the king’s fleet,” he said.
“Maybe we should ask for help from General Grouchley,” Melinda said. Chirpley bristled.
“I’ll be in command of this mission,” he said. “Since it was my idea!”
“General Grouchley didn’t do anything to defeat the king,” Zolna said. “It was our ghosts who scared him off.”
“I found him!” Gauss said. He meant the king’s fleet. Gauss told Emily what direction to fly in. She did so. Chirpley, pleased, began to practice a victory speech.
“I came,” he intoned. “I saw - “
“And I got stuck in the toilet,” a crewman said.
Chapter Six - Neverwhere
Kevin Kleigowski was angry. The panicked retreat of his fleet had put his ships into disarray. The fault was his own. His fleet was crewed by robots. Their purpose was to obey.
Kevin stood on the bridge of his flagship, Teliot. He spoke with his robot admiral, Dolt 0001.
“Take the fleet through a hypergate,” Kevin ordered his admiral. “We’ll reorganize ourselves on its far side.”
“Yes, Sir,” Admiral Dolt answered. Kevin’s fleet was soon flying toward a distant gas giant. There, it would pass through the planet’s hypergate.
Unknown to Kevin, a little saucer, flown by a seven-year-old girl, was hot on his trail.
Kevin’s fleet neared the gas giant. As Regoob closed on the fleet, Gauss told Emily,
“Hurry! They might go anywhere in hyperspace!”
Regoob snaked among the disordered vessels.
“Land on Teliot,” Gauss told Emily. “That’s the king’s flagship.”
Teliot was a big cruiser. Emily zipped above it. She put the small saucer down amid the outbuildings that topped Teliot’s hull.
The cruiser, and its accompanying fleet, passed into the gas giant’s hypergate.
Emily yawned. She was in a flying saucer in hyperspace, atop a galactic cruiser, but she was also a sleepy seven-year-old. Melinda shared her sense of exhaustion. She said so.
“And I need a bath,” Melinda said.
“I don’t need a bath!” Emily said.
“Emily Fortley, we will both take a bath!” Melinda said. The little green men escorted the girls to a bathroom. The area included a laundry room. When the girls were bathing, they found that they weren’t alone.
“Hey! Quit looking!” Emily said, spying the ghosts in their bathroom.
“Shoo!” Melinda scolded.
The ghosts, sniggering, slipped away.
Melinda and Emily bedded down in a bedroom aboard Regoob.
“Good night, Emily,” Melinda said.
“Good night, Melinda,” Emily said. Neither girl could guess what the hour was back on earth. Then both got a rude reminder of where they were. Fartley trumpeted a loud goodnight in the near distance. The girls escaped the ensuing smell by falling asleep.
As for the little green men, they were concluding their day. They soon bedded down in the room with the sleeping girls. The saucer, atop Teliot, was still passing through hyperspace.
“I don’t know where the king is going, but he’s going a long way,” Gauss said.
“He could be going in circles,” a crewman said. “To throw off pursuers.”
“We’ll board Teliot tomorrow,” Zolna said.
“We can’t do that until we’re out of hyperspace,” Gauss said.
“When we are, I’ll lead the way,” Chirpley said. “Hofsted?”
“Yes, Sir?”
“Bring a trumpet. I’ll need you to blow it.”
“Sir?” Hofsted asked.
“Huh?” Zolna asked.
“It will be a great heroic deed to capture King Kleigowski,” Chirpley said. “When we charge him, Hofsted can blow the trumpet.”
“What about all of his robots?” a crewman asked.
“We’ll charge them too,” Chirpley said. “Zolna!”
“You bring a trumpet too.”
“Maybe we should just bring Fartley along,” someone said.
“Yes!” Chirpley said. “We’ll have loud farts, and loud trumpeting, and then I’ll say ‘Charge!’. Very loudly.”
“After we leave hyperspace,” Gauss said.
With this, the little green men went to sleep.
The 10-year-old sat upright. She’d gone to bed wrapped in a dry bath towel, but now she was in her bikini again.
She wasn’t aboard Regoob. She sat in a field of pale mushrooms. These grew suddenly taller, on long stalks. They became a forest of mushrooms. The mushrooms shaded Melinda from the high sun. Through sprouted undergrowth, a path trailed off into the tall mushrooms.
Then an old man appeared. Using a gnarled branch for a cane, he followed the path. He saw Melinda and spoke.
“Melinda.” He said this at a distance. However, Melinda heard it as if he were beside her. She even smelled his breath. It had an odor of onions.
Melinda stood.
Suddenly, the man was before her. His stooped figure was tall and commanding.
“I want you,” he rasped to Melinda.
The blonde frowned. At least, she told herself, she was face-to-face with the person they’d been pursuing. She did not call him king.
“Kevin. You look awful,” Melinda said.
The man scowled.
“I’m done with Kevin,” he said. “Kevin’s attack on Planet Quigley failed. I don’t like failure.”
The man smiled at Melinda.
“Kevin bores me,” he said. “You don’t.” The man took Melinda’s arm. She found herself walking with him, despite not wanting to.
“We’ll rule the universe,” the man told her.
Due to Reddit’s character limit, I can only post part of my book here.
A free copy of “Melinda and the Little Green Men” is at:
Copyright 2023 by Andrew L. Roller. Melinda and the Little Green Men is a trademark of Andrew L. Roller.
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2023.05.27 18:25 LithiumNard A Random Fan's Team/Player Breakdown and Predictions Going into LPL Summer 2023

LPL Summer Power Rankings
Just one person’s opinion. WE diehard so I’ve seen more or less all of their games, but I’ll catch other games here and there. Did a lot of Oracle’s Elixir and Leaguepedia digging as well and followed/consulted @DJJohnnymeister on twitter (must follow IMHO if you care at all about the up and comers of the LDL) for thoughts on lower-level prospects. Will probably make me look stupid when it’s all said and done, but that’s part of the fun right?
Top Contenders
1) JDG
Top – 369
Jungle – Kanavi
Mid – Knight/lzq
ADC – Ruler
Support – Missing
Was the best team on paper last split and lived up to the hype. Coming off of a dominant MSI championship run, they are the slam dunk pick to top not just the LPL power rankings, but the World power rankings.
369 is perhaps the best he’s ever been, easily 1st team All Pro. Kanavi has re-established himself as the best jungler in the world at MSI. Knight’s mechanical talent finally shone through on the international stage. Lzq is an 18-year-old who somehow skipped the LDL altogether and isn’t really relevant to the narrative, but he's on the official roster so I have to mention him. Ruler inserted his name in the GOAT conversation and proved his mettle out of the Samsung/GenG sphere, doing his thing of blending solid damage output with consistent safety. When Missing is the worst player on the team by default and yet still the Spring 2nd All Pro Team support you’re in golden shape.
They get a sentence each because I shouldn’t need to tell you about this team. They’re really just complete without any exploitable holes. Adding Knight and Ruler to China’s best squad in 2022 feels similar to the off-season where the Golden State Warriors added Kevin Durant, with the added bonus that Boogie Cousins is still in his prime. I suppose that makes Yagao into Pro LOL’s Harrison Barnes (I actually like this comparison, down to Yagao receiving blame for the blowing it when it mattered most) and GenG into Pro LOL’s Sacramento Kings (pretty bad, but if we equate the playoffs to making world finals?… ehh still really bad). We’ll see who (if anyone) can rise up to challenge them, but at this point they have to be considered the odds-on favorite.
2) LNG
Top – Zika
Jungle – Tarzan
Mid – Scout
Support – Hang
This team had one hole in the roster going into the summer and filled it. LP didn’t have a bad rookie split and showed mettle but he was clearly the odd man out on a team built to compete today. After looking at IG’s ADC Ahn, they chose to spare no expense and traded LP and a boat load of cash for RNG’s GALA who more than fills that hole. GALA will be paired in the bottom lane with Hang, who was a key partner for LP’s surprisingly competent debut, earning an All-LPL 3rd team shoutout in the process.
Scout meanwhile had a downright incredible split that fell by the wayside due to LNG’s immediate playoff exit at the hands of OMG, but it appears that even away from the EDG machine, he’s still one of the LPL’s premier stars at a very competitive position. I mean he put up a mind numbing 17 MVPs individually. To put it in perspective, ThunderTalk Gaming, who were the 8 seed in the LPL Spring Standings, had 18 wins in total. With teams like EDG and JDG sharing the MVP load among their members, Scout downright ran away with it.
Zika didn’t have a super flashy split, but was low key very strong. The team devoted a lot to making sure LP wasn’t exploited and you would think Zika, who was heavily strong-side suited as a rookie on IG last year, would flounder because of it. However, he quietly flourished in the role, even though he only picked up a single MVP performance all season. Putting up strong CS numbers and showing some good weakside ability on top of his typical array of more damage centric tops. Honestly, he might be the most underrated player in the league since he’s overshadowed by his much more resource heavy teammates, but that weakside ability might be even more key with GALA joining the team and needing the resources as well.
Tarzan meanwhile continued as a standout in the regular season, best jungler KDA, strong kill participation basically the rest of the regular season MVP performances, but was perhaps the primary factor in their playoff disappointment. Similar to JDG’s situation with Missing though, when Tarzan (specifically in the playoffs) is the team’s biggest concern, you know you have a roster ready to compete.
3) EDG
Top – Ale
Jungle – Jiejie/Monki
Mid – Fofo/Fisher
ADC – Leave
Support – Meiko
Despite losing their key Korean carries, EDG barely missed a beat last split, finishing 3rd in the Spring Split. It’s a pretty good result all things considered, but it does feel like they have holes in their game. Still, I think that between their core veterans still at the peak of their game and the overall consistency, they are in very good shape for the Worlds slots, even if they feel a step behind the likes of JDG right now.
Even without Scout and Viper, they still have a great veteran core that starts with Meiko, who with Ming’s absence/retirement(?) stands alone as only active LPL’s all-time top 10 support. As part of the EDG core for over 9 years now, and the team’s primary shot caller for a huge part of that span, his presence alone means that EDG will have one of the best macro games in the league. Combo that with Jiejie, who has served in the EDG system for a huge period of time and grown into a top level jungler in his midst of his prime and you immediately have a team that has championship aspirations even before the other 3 members are considered, as both players were 1st Team All Pro for the Spring Split.
The 3 other members were where a lot of the concern lied going into the season, but they exceeded expectations as EDG was the number 2 seed going into playoffs. While the least talked about of the three, it was a great bounce back split for FoFo who was one of the most disappointing players on 2022’s most disappointing team BLG, eventually losing his starting job to mid-season acquisition Icon. On EDG though, he looked revitalized and fairly close to his form on RA 2021, though admittedly he was flanked by better players with EDG. It was a commendable, low drama, stable split for a player who needed it bad.
Similar to FoFo, Ale was coming off of a rough 2021 as well where a talented by troubled LNG team didn’t completely flop by the results, but completely missed the high expectations set. This included a benching for PandaC halfway through the split that really hurt the team in key series down the stretch amid talk about attitude issues. He’s always been a talented pair of hands though and EDG did well to keep him focused and on his game, as he stepped up big time, particularly when given non-tank champions while piloting tanks well enough, earning 2nd team All Pro honors. Obviously, Ale isn’t always the most stable player, but so long as EDG has him on the straight and narrow, he’s going to be a net positive for the team.
Finally, we come to the rookie of the split Leave, who came in with some serious LDL hype and lived up to it for the most part, working well as EDG’s damage carry and showing a flashy mechanics style. Being flanked with the likes of Meiko helps of course, but EDG handed the reigns to Leave and he seemed up to the task. Unfortunately, going up against the likes of Ruler and Elk in the playoffs did prove to be that freshman wall for Leave, but as MSI showed they’ve been folding everyone, so it’s not too shameful. Still as the least experienced player in this top 4 group, it’s going to be a lot of pressure on the youngster. It’s crazy that this super mechanically skilled star of his rookie class could be the weakness of the team, but that’s just the level of the competition among the top teams of this league.
I do want to give brief mention to EDG’s substitute players, who are both very talented youngsters. Monki is a 19-year-old LDL promote jungler who was strong at the lower level and warranted a promotion. Fisher meanwhile had been a standout Korean trainee from Shadow Corp (the same team they picked up About, the new Korean bot lane trainee Ale was talking about) and directly went onto the EDG main roster at 18 years old. Neither will likely see play given this team’s veteran tilt and the championship ambitions, but they’re worth keeping an eye out for down the road whether they’re future EDG starters or purchases for other LPL teams.
4) BLG
Top – Bin
Jungle – XUN
Mid – Yagao
ADC – Elk/Baiye
Support – ON
Given BLG’s penchant for big expenses for early playoff exits, it would be easy to write off their latest roster as yet another flailing attempt to microwave a team into stardom, turning over basically the entire 2022 roster they reportedly spent top dollar for. And yet, it felt different this time around. While the players they picked up weren’t exactly household names, they were talented mechanical players on the rise. They looked genuinely strong in the pre-season tournaments, which admittedly doesn’t count a whole ton, but was interesting to note. And when it was all said and done, it resulted in the best split BLG has ever put up. And while they couldn’t outgun the JDG machine in any of the many shots, it was a great season. While I have them below LNG for their sheer top to bottom power and EDG out of respect for their veteran track record, I’m still very impressed by this BLG squad.
Bin, as somehow the longest tenured BLG member of 2 splits, was the face of the team’s turnaround, and a far cry better from the rocky 2022 he endured swapping between 2 dysfunctional teams. 2023 was where he re-established himself as the premier mechanical top in the league. Always known for his excellent hands since his debut on Suning in 2020, he was able to back up those skills this split, while furthering his profile in the west with his fun trashtalk and gigachad persona. Furthermore, when the chips were down at MSI, he even showed a willingness to pick up tanks, which has always been the clear hole in his game.
As for the free agent additions, the one who most established himself was Elk. If I can put on my hipster hat on, I was an Elk fan before it was cool, given he’s always shown an ability to put up eyepopping damage numbers since his debut which continued this season as he topped the tables far and away leading the league with the number 1 DPM and damage share. However, it was the finer points of the game where Elk struggled on back in the day. Off positioning, hit or miss laning, occasional overextensions trying to maximize damage were all issues for Elk on WE. On this BLG squad though, that has largely ironed itself out, with only occasional blowup performances every so often. An unknown on the World stage going into MSI, everyone now knows the name of this fearsome player. They also added a name that nobody knows, that being Baiye an LDL ADC to the main roster as well. Having just debuted on BLG.J last split and playing all of 7 games in the LDL, it’s tough to take this promotion seriously at all, let alone as a threat to Elk’s seat.
A major part of supporting Elk’s rise was the acquisition of the best young support in the LPL, ON. One of the big pain points of LPL teams is that LDL promotions are just so difficult, and none so more than support, where the talent pool is shallow and the transition is just an absolute killer. So many of the highest profile LDL supports have floundered on promotion, and ON was no exception on Suning back in 2021. That being said, he’s improved an incredible amount since that first rocky season, and the mechanical ability he has as a support and his young age (only 20 years old despite debuting in 2021) makes him perhaps the most valuable long-term asset on the BLG roster. As EDG has shown with Meiko and his cavalcade of ADC pairings, great ADCs can be acquired in the LPL but great supports when kept are backbones to long term success.
XUN was an acquisition much like Elk and ON, a young mechanical standout who BLG scooped up with projection in mind. He arrived into IG in 2021 as a highly touted rookie, and was mentioned alongside the likes of Bo and Xiaohuangren, the 2 super prospects junglers as the next generation. He joined right at the tail end of the Rookie-TheShy era of the team and while he had early struggles then, by the time the next season rolled around, he was IG’s standout player. Even after arriving at BLG, he’s still a very volatile player, and hasn’t solidified his play the way Elk and ON have, but at his best, he’s capable of getting bot rolling, which is exactly what BLG is want to do.
Finally, the Harrison Barnes of the LPL, Yagao, who was the typical blame target for BLG in their losses. It’s true, he’s older and certainly doesn’t match up great against the top of the table mids that he’ll need to beat, but the bottom line is that for the most part he’s fine enough. Just like Barnes, he’s certainly not the team centerpiece, and he occasionally has baffling performances, but he’s usually stable enough to not get in the way. Honestly, he’s probably the weakest individual player among these top 4 teams and the predominant reason (along with coinflippy XUN) that I have the MSI runners up 4th on this list, but to be clear I’m not huge Yagao hater, it’s just that these top teams are so stacked that every potential available weakness makes a difference. I mean, you don’t see Harrison Barnes on the All-NBA teams or anything.
Playoff Expectations
5) OMG
Top – Shanji
Jungle – Aki
Mid – Creme
ADC – Able
Support – PPGod/Jerry
OMG returns with the roster that brought them to their highest playoff finish since Spring 2017 (!!!), finishing a highly impressive 4th in the split. On paper, I still think their roster is lacking in marquee raw talent, but it’s clear at this point that they’re more coordinated than some of their flashier opposition and that they’ve cultivated 2 young stars that have now shown some serious killer instinct.
Without any doubt, this is a team that is defined by the play of their solo lane talents. Starting from the top Shanji had a standout split primarily as one of the most effective K’Sante/Sion tank players the large majority of the time, but occasionally busts out Kennen and his signature Rumble, and been incredibly impactful when he gets them. Furthermore, this synergizes perfectly with OMG’s other star laner Creme, who is afforded the ability to fit AD assassins like Yone. Assassins have continued to be Creme’s calling card and while his control mage play is lackluster, OMG has tailored their gameplans around his champion pool and have reaped the benefits of the young mid laner.
On top of these two really clicking simultaneously, a big hat tip must be given to their teammates as well. PPGod in particular proved to be the right ingredient to bring OMG playoff glory as he continues his ability to accent teams into playoff threats even if he hasn’t been quite been able to reach the Finals at any of his stops. I’ll give him some additional props once we reach the NIP write up. Given PPGod’s late arrival to the team last spring, LDL promotion Jerry sat on the bench for the season, and looks to do so again. Able meanwhile has a pretty non-descript year, taking a back seat to his solo lane teammates but showing some stability that he’s usually lacked. Certainly not a masterful split, but credit where it’s due, he reigned it in and was steady for OMG’s best squad in ages.
Finally, Aki deserves a big hand for his role in OMG’s success as well. A solid vet who isn’t considered a mechanical master by any means, he was steady at the wheel throughout the season, and was even able to out jungle Tarzan of all people in their shock upset win over LNG. Despite taking the most MVPs for OMG in the regular season, it was rarely for single handed domination and I’d point that more as a credit for his facilitation of the team’s coordination in general where they were able to get over the competition where it counted.
I don’t think this team has the ceiling of the others in this tier, but they have a known formula that works. While the others in this group have more talent on an individual level, it’s clear that they have serious questions to sort out that OMG really doesn’t, so I’m considering OMG the safe team in this particular group, but without the upside to challenge the tier above.
6) WBG
Top – TheShy
Jungle – Karsa/Weiwei
Mid – Xiaohu
ADC – Light
Support – Crisp
This team and the one after it were the teams with close to the highest expectations in the League and yet fell flat in spite of talented rosters. Both have largely decided to run it back, with new coaching staffs in an attempt to fix the tactical side where they came short. WBG went big game hunting for their next coach after sacking Easyhoon and was attempting to court Kkoma before he opted to focus on Korea’s efforts at the World Games. They settled for an Kkoma adjacent coach in Daeny, formerly part of the Damwon and T1 programs. A controversial coach in his own right, he’s drew criticism for his pick/bans and his questionable roster decisions, but he still has that Worlds title under his belt, so WBG is out here shooting for the moon. Born to wintrade or whatever.
TheShy is as always, a pretty good representation of the team. Perpetually on top of the damage charts due to his confidence in his mechanics and his propensity to fight constantly, it leads to the coinflippy hit or miss results you so often see from TheShy and his teams in general. He’s certainly not at his peak form where he dominated on the Worlds stage, but he’s not at his worst either near the end of his IG tenure when that whole team looked out of gas, TheShy is an LPL icon, even if that icon is occasionally the death notification on the side of the UI.
Purchasing Xiaohu out of his RNG contract was one of the big stories for this team going into the off season and a large reason for optimism for their future results. In actually he was rather middling by all accounts. Not a total disaster of course, it felt like he was fine for the most part, but not the immediate plug and play mechanical players that Scout, Knight or Rookie serve as. Maybe a second season to mesh is what they need to comeback.
Light for my money was the most dependable member of the team in the regular season, being just a generally stable force in the otherwise chaotic team structure. I wouldn’t call him the best at any individual thing: Ruler is a much safer ADC and Elk is a better pure damage pump, but light is good enough at both of those things to be a consistent plus for WBG, which can’t be said for the rest of the team. Supported by the veteran Crisp, you have to expect them to anchor the team in general, though Crisp was particularly bad in the playoff series against BLG, where his hooks on both Thresh and Naut were off point. It’s just one series of course, but the play needs to be better than that in crunch time next time.
Finally, the jungle situation for Weibo. Karsa continues to be the perpetual punching bag when the team struggles. It’s been a major decline since his Flash Wolves and early RNG days and frankly it might be time to just bucket him as not able to get it done at the highest level at this point. He can still work enough in the regular season to make the playoffs, but the form is just not where it needs to be at this point. In a fascinating move, scooped up Weiwei, who went from BLG’s star jungler to league washout over the course of a single year. The biggest victim of BLG’s 2022 catastrophe, the last look of Weiwei we got was not a flattering one as the team fell flat on it’s face amid roster instability and play not matching up to the expected standard. Still, we’ve seen a number of comebacks for players leaving the BLG ecosystem, such as PPGod and FoFo returning to form after splitting wit the team. Of course it’s not always a winning formula as Doggo and Biubiu (shudder) can attest to, but there’s enough of a strong track record from Weiwei during 2020 V5 and 2021 BLG to say that trying to get that level out of him is worth the attempt.
7) TES
Top – Wayward/Qingtian
Jungle – Tian
Mid – Rookie
ADC – Jackeylove
Support – Mark
Reuniting 2/5ths of the legendary IG core was supposed to lead TES to their Worlds destiny. Yet going into the Summer split they are another team running it back with the exact same roster, though unlike teams like JDG, BLG or OMG, the Spring split was an unmitigated failure for TES. There was not glory, but a collapse down the stretch of the season and shameful defeat at the hands of OMG, a team that is probably running a budget less than Jackeylove’s individual paycheck (note: The previous statement was hyperbole. I do not actually know how much OMG pays their players.) With some of the flashiest names in the LPL, finishing without at least challenging JDG would have been a disappointment, let alone the 7th/8th that they actually managed.
The big obvious question for this team is what exactly they do with the top lane because the decision making around it was seemed heavily stilted. They chose to run Qingtian basically the entire regular season, and then yanked the rug on him with a single series to go? Sure, he was largely a hit or miss top laner who was missing against the better teams (and LGD’s because rookie Xiaoxu was feeling it) but pulling the plug on him and swapping to Wayward literally at the last second heavily sabotaged both of them. Congratulations, Wayward crushed Biubiu in round 1 of playoffs, like basically everyone else who played top lane in the LPL. Up against Shanji (a player TES bypassed as a rookie to pick up Qingtian), Wayward was not up to it, and it was a big part of what ended their season. Even though both top laners are limited, I find it hard to place the blame on them directly given this awkward setup and how they approach top lane in the Summer with both players still on the roster remains to be seen.
The bot lane continues to be the same story as always. Jackeylove is still super high ceiling but there are still sometimes these baffling efforts where he’s playing off of his game, which has been a repeating trend for a while now. Mark did well to stabilize him at the beginning of their shared tenure but it’s been rough going as of late for this bot lane in general.
Moving to the big free agent swap they made, adding the legendary Rookie to the team, and it wasn’t all bad. It’s not like he was an abject disaster, he had his share of good games, such as dominating against Shanks in the first round of the playoffs, it’s just that there were too many series where he didn’t lift the team when things weren’t clicking elsewhere… like the 2nd round against OMG. It felt like too often he wasn’t meshing with Tian who was also off his normally solid domestic game. People joke that it was his Worlds performance showing up and frankly, I’d have to agree.
I don’t know with this team. The on-paper talent is on there as usual but there’s something missing… Normally with teams, the question is: how can this team coordinate together and be more than the sum of their parts, which OMG showcased best? I don’t get that vibe from TES, where the question I’m asking is: do they feel like playing up to their talent, or are they going to let go of the rope and lose in shocking fashion? Just weird vibes. I’d say maybe the coaching swap could help, but bringing in the guy who was overseeing BLG during their moneybag disappointment era doesn’t fill me with confidence. I still think they still should be fine for the playoffs off of their sheer talent running over enough teams when they do hold it together, but I just don’t see them as a viable challenger for the LPL crown unless something flips in them, particularly given how good the top 4 seem.
Playoff Bubble
8) TT
Jungle – Beichuan/xiaohuangren
Mid – Ucal
ADC – Huanfeng/1xn
Support – yuyanjia/Yaoyao
A pleasant surprise last split, making their first LPL playoffs since they were known as Sinodragon, TT has shed their bottom feeder status and actually have some breakout potential. They’ve formed a decent core to build off of and collected some of the most exciting young talents in the league. How they split their starts between the young guns and the vets they played last split is quietly one of the most interesting storylines in the league as those talented swing pieces could push them up into contendership or down out of the playoffs depending on how they handle the LPL stage.
We’ll start with the boring part of the team in their now solidified Korean solo lane pairing, HOYA and Ucal. After spinning solo laners basically their entire existence, the duo has been locked in for basically 4 splits now. Neither blow anyone’s socks off (though I maintain Ucal in particular is pretty underrated), but you know you’re gonna get a playoff worthy performance but not much more. Together they provide the solid foundation for the rest of the roster, where it really gets interesting.
Starting with jungle, Beichuan had effective but flawed split. He output damage well and did much to incite action, but he also died a whole ton, with the highest death share of any jungler in the league last split. This volatility has been his modus operandi this TT squad as he manages to lead TT in MVPs and I’m sure would have also led the team had an “Most Un-valuable Player” award been given to the biggest inter on the losing team, so he’s pretty core to the TT identity as they’re constructed. However, the clearly more intriguing option has to be Xiaohuangren, who is likely the youngest player in the league right now, and the most hyped LDL jungler since Bo. Debuting in LDL at just 16, XHR was immediately one of the best mechanical junglers in the lower level, and even when the age limit was placed, he took to dominating the Korean ladder with multiple accounts in his excess time. Promoted in the middle of the Spring split days after he turned 18, he hasn’t seen a stage since that age limit was placed, but eyes will be watching to see if TT put the hyper-talent on the rift.
Their other young hyper-talent TT acquired is at the ADC position where they are bringing JDG’s LDL bot laner 1xn. Highly touted by LDL experts, 1xn doesn’t have a mechanical flaw to speak of, putting out insane damage and CS numbers on the regular. The one thing to note was that the JDM team surrounding him didn’t have the skills to back him up, so he never really got the accolades his performance deserved. How he splits time with Huanfeng, who was pretty ineffective last season, and just clearly is no longer the do-everything ADC we saw at 2020 Worlds with Suning is the other big question. It’s weird to see him morph into a rather conservative low-risk low-reward player, and honestly, if they gave out a “Least Valuable Player” award to the winning team, he’d probably be the among League’s leaders in that sketchy credential.
Finally, the support situation is less exciting but lowkey just as important as the other 2 positions as they’ve opted to add Yuyanjia to the roster to which I’m fairly confused. A lackluster veteran (25 years old?) who has never really helped a roster even at his “peak”, I’m not sure what he brings to the table for TT. It’s even more confusing since incumbent support Yaoyao has been the rare promoted LDL support who has actually looked good in his initial LPL stint, which is some sort of minor miracle given the typical LDL support struggles. Trying to fit XinLiu in last split probably cost them some series, so I’m not sure why they seem so interested in these mediocre at best support players when they have a solid one in hand.
9) WE
Top – Cube/Demon
Jungle – Heng
Mid – Shanks
ADC – Hope
Support – Iwandy
I see WE as the LPL’s gatekeeper team. Last split they were great against the lower ranked teams (exception AL), and awful against the higher ranked teams (exception BLG) and managed to sneak playoffs thanks to the likes of IG being just a bit more volatile. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about them as the season goes on, so I’ll keep things brief here.
They managed to do this with an essential deadweight in the top lane. Cube doesn’t completely alter the equation for WE, as he’s coming off of his worst split to date where he was largely stuck on tank duty, but he does turns the top lane for WE from being a ceiling capper into a floor raiser for the team. Worst case is that he continues his middling tank form and he serves as a rich man’s Biubiu who can actually lane competently. The best-case scenario is that the change of scenery (where he was on RA for 4 years) works to revitalize him towards more of the damage top lane champs he played in his earlier years. Either way, the best part of this addition is really the subtraction of Biubiu, which adds much needed flexibility to a team that desperately needs it. Meanwhile, Demon also augments the team’s flexibility by adding his skills of doing promotional videos when Chinese New Year rolls around. So yeah, you can say this is a much-improved top lane situation.
Otherwise, the team remains the same as their gatekeeper-selves. Iwandy quietly had a very solid season as WE’s most consistent player and a foundation as a support. Hope had a mid-season swoon that showed his deficiencies particular as a laner and on less focused champions, but was able to showcase his carrying skills as the season concluded. Both are what they are: usually net positives for a team, but not really able to take you to a top 6 seed independently. That is going to have to come from their teammates, speaking of which…
Heng was up and down as a rookie jungler, but for the most part demonstrated a willingness to be proactive and facilitate his lanes via early ganks, even if it didn’t always work out as planned. And of course, Shanks who had his best regular season to date, relying on consistently strong lane performances. While capitalizing on those leads remains a hit or miss affair and a particular bad playoff series against TES are marks against him, I still have those high expectations for him and continue to see this as a prove it year. Outside of Cube unlocking something additional, which shouldn’t be counted on, this jungle-mid pair are the key for WE to climb higher than the lower playoff spots. Both are usually strong early, but they’ll need to clean up their mid/late game play for the team to be a contender against higher caliber teams.
10) IG
Top – YSKM/neny
Jungle – Tianzhen
Mid – Cryin/Dove
ADC – Xiaoyueji/Ahn
Support – Wink
Putting IG too low was a big miss for me in Spring and despite narrowly missing out on playoffs and making some pretty major roster changes, they do make sense as a team as a whole to the point where I can see them in playoff contention.
YSKM was the breakout player for them, as his mechanical prowess was legit right out of the gate though I do think he’s a tad overrated as his DPM isn’t as high as you would expect for a player that almost exclusively plays damage top laners. You have to assume he starts over neny who is just perpetually going to be on this roster as a break in case of emergency/illness weakside player.
Their other returning player is Wink, who has proven to be a successfully above average support and revitalized his career in the process after floundering at ADC for IG. Wink is reunited with his former mid laner Cryin, as both were teammates on a Estar team that vastly exceeded expectations on their debut year. While being the low econ mid laner in a Xiaohu-GALA centric RNG didn’t flatter his talents, Cryin had a pretty good year all things as UP’s best player last season, and he’ll get another shot this year. The expectation is he starts over Dove who is still on the roster? He wasn’t awful but was certainly less exciting than his jungle counterpart and I assumed he would be leaving along with GIDEON and the Korean coaching staff.
This is Xiaoyueji’s second shot at the big leagues given he was tried and passed by Ahn last season, but he’s coming off of an LDL Season MVP where he was clearly above the lower level. We’ll need to see if he can step up with the tougher competition ala Photic, or if he’s just a quadruple-A player (too good for LDL, not good enough for LPL) like Asura. It might not even matter though as it’s worth noting that Ahn remains on the roster, even after the promotion of XYJ and a tryout from LNG (who clearly have contending in mind). He’s coming off of a quietly strong split and likely has the inside track in the battle for the starting role as in a repeat of LPL Spring 2022, these 2 will duke it out for the spot again.
Despite not being the LDL MVP, Tianzhen might be the more exciting prospect actually and notably doesn’t have any veteran to compete with. At only 18 years old, he’s going to be one of the LPL’s youngest players and has an eclectic champ pool that is highlighted by his signature Rengar. It will be interesting to see if these LDL standouts can continue the momentum in the LPL. The promotion isn’t easy, but both of them are in position to excel.
11) RNG
Top – Breathe
Jungle – Wei
Mid – Tangyuan
Support – LvMao/Lele
It’s crazy to think this time last year, RNG were celebrating their 2nd consecutive MSI championship. Obviously, this team has more or less completely shattered from the Golden Road-seeking team that once ruled Spring and faltered at Worlds on a regular basis. I mean it’s been years of speculation that RNG was actually in a NA-esque perpetual financial meltdown that was held together by unfair streaming contracts and bobby pins, but with the departure of GALA and in particular, Ming, who has more or less been on RNG since the start of the era, finally puts RNG on the backfoot. Still, even with the exodus of more or less everyone on those famous teams, there’s a window at the playoffs.
Wei is the final piece of the MSI 2022 team, which is wild to think about because as I mentioned, it's been just 1 year. Now the longest tenured player on the roster, it’s a weird situation as there’s no longer an obvious lane to play into. While he wasn’t always bad, he had many questionable moments and his weakest split to date, and now without GALA in the bot lane there’s no clear place to focus for this team. He’s demonstrated he can be effective without the likes of Xiaohu, GALA and Ming back when he was on EStar in his debut season in 2020, but it’s been a long time since then, so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
Similarly, Breathe is also coming off of a split where he failed to meet expectations. It feels like ever since he left WE, he just hasn’t really found his footing as the good flex top laner, first on that weird 2022 BLG failed “superteam” and then on RNG where he never fit in to the Xiaohu-GALA puzzle. This last split he was basically relegated to weakside tanks and was subsequently pretty inconsequential as either a positive or negative factor. The few forays he took towards more carry champions were bad last split and it’s not a great sign for a player once considered so promising. I guess it’s the WE fan in me talking that he still has that upside to be among the best in the league. Maybe I’m lending him too much leeway given he was maybe WE’s best strongside top ever (which for the record is more about WE perpetually playing bot-centric). With out any of those other major carries on RNG, I’m interested to see if Breathe is placed back in that role.
The rest of the team is a smattering of cobbled pieces who aren’t without upside, but don’t exactly scream playoffs. GALA was exchanged for a large bag of cash and LP, who was the only consistent starter of the new cohort. he was heavily cared for as the rookie bot laner on LNG’s otherwise star-studded group, he was able to deliver in that capacity. Notably, he narrowly had the 2nd highest DPM in the split, though admittedly there was a large gap between 1st place damage monster Elk and a much smaller one to the following ADCs of JackeyLove, Assum and Leave. However, he certainly wasn’t perfect as he managed the lowest CS per minute among ADCs in the league, and he didn’t wow the way rookie of the split Leave did. Still, it was a relatively promising start, though the downgrade from Hang to one of RNG’s supports looms large as needless to say, the “cash considerations” RNG received with LP are most likely not being used for his lane partner.
With Angel departing after a pretty rough split, where the highlight was creating a meme after defeating his former team Weibo Gaming, RNG were rumored for a number of domestic mid laners but ultimately just stuck with the player they seemed intent on before they picked up Angel at the last second. Tangyuan is an LDL promote who has been flatout bad in the few stage performances he got in with the main roster, struggling both in the pre-season Demacia Cup and then to open the proper LPL season while Angel got up to speed. He’s at least known to have good Korean solo queue ranks, but you have to imagine there’s going to be a lot of handwringing over his inevitable growing pains as he starts for one of the country’s most popular domestic teams. There’s not zero upside here, for example Xiaoxu came from the same LDL team and vastly overperformed expectations, but I’d lean towards a year of hard knocks for the youngster.
Ming’s departure is the biggest loss for RNG as they now go from one of the rare franchise defining supports to… not that. LvMao spent the split unsigned for the most part before latching onto BLG as ON’s backup to end the season. Reportedly he served a coaching-esque role for the team as they went on their impressive MSI run but LvMao’s play has left a lot to be desired. Now with over 3 years removed from his standout performances in Spring 2020 and no Bard patch coming in sight, it’s tough to see what LvMao brings to the table as a player outside of an experienced hand. The other option they brought in was Lele, the young rookie support FPX promptly benched for Qiuqiu, which is never a great sign, and you know my stance on LDL supports: they bad. Funnily enough Lele was originally a pretty hyped RNG prospect the team once spent 300K yuan signing out of the yearly rookie camp. Needless to say, he’s been an okay LDL support but hasn’t lived up to that price tag at all, though now it seems they could at least get some games out of their failed investment.
submitted by LithiumNard to leagueoflegends [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 17:06 subredditsummarybot Your weekly /r/Blues roundup for the week of May 17 - May 23

Wednesday, May 17 - Tuesday, May 23

Top Performances

score comments title & link mirrors
39 2 comments [performance] Lovesick Blues
28 2 comments [performance] Watch Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Eric Clapton jam on The Sky Is Crying at the Jeff Beck tribute concert
25 0 comments [performance] A treat for you all John Belushi last show as Jake Blues

Top Songs

score comments title & link mirrors
25 2 comments [song] Freddie King - Big Legged Woman [Sp] [AM] [BC] [Dzr] [SC]
16 0 comments [song] Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Kirk Hammett and more close out first Jeff Beck tribute concert with star-studded rendition of Going Down
15 1 comments [song] Stranger - Johnny & Edgar Winter [Sp] [AM] [Dzr] [SC]

Top Remaining

score comments title & link mirrors
83 6 comments [image] Got a custom Robert Johnson phone case today, thought y’all would like it!
40 0 comments RIP Bill HowlN-Madd Perry 🎸
34 0 comments Blues shouter Big Joe Turner was born on May 18th, 1911 in KC, MO. Big Joe's career covered from the '20s through the '80s, with "Chains of Love", "Shake, Rattle and Roll" and "Flip, Flop and Fly". His greatest fame was his rock-and-roll recordings in the 1950s, particularly "Shake, Rattle and Roll"
29 0 comments Howlin Wolf
29 1 comments B.B. King Photo by Guido Harari.

Top 5 Most Commented

score comments title & link mirrors
6 31 comments [looking for recommendations] Any good modern blues guitarist recommendations?
22 28 comments Why doesn't Radio play the Blues?
11 20 comments Weekly Poll: What’s your favorite J.J. Cale song?
6 13 comments [looking for recommendations] Recommendations for fun songs
7 11 comments [question] Source to learn about Blues history.
submitted by subredditsummarybot to blues [link] [comments]

2023.05.19 06:55 carmensol1 Jelly Shoes for Women: Fun and Fashionable Footwear for All Ages

When it comes to summer footwear, jelly shoes have been a popular choice for decades. Originally designed as a beach shoe, jelly shoes have evolved into a versatile and stylish option for women of all ages. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of jelly shoes, the different types available, and how to style them for any occasion.
History of Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes were first introduced in the 1960s as a practical beach shoe. They were made of a flexible PVC material that was waterproof and easy to clean, making them perfect for the sand and surf. In the 1980s, jelly shoes experienced a resurgence in popularity and became a fashion staple for women and children. They were available in a rainbow of colors and often featured glitter, flowers, and other embellishments.
Today, jelly shoes continue to be a popular choice for women's footwear. They have been updated with modern designs, such as wedge heels and platform soles, making them suitable for a variety of occasions.
Types of Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes come in a variety of styles, including sandals, flip flops, and even boots. Let's take a look at each type in more detail:
Jelly Sandals: Jelly sandals are perfect for warm weather and can be dressed up or down. They are available in a range of styles, from simple strappy sandals to more complex designs with bows or buckles..
Jelly Flip Flops: Jelly flip flops are a great option for the beach or pool. They are easy to slip on and off and come in a variety of colors and patterns.
Jelly Boots: For those who want to make a statement, jelly boots are a fun and unexpected choice. They are available in ankle or knee-high styles and can be worn with jeans or leggings for a bold look.
Styling Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes can be styled in many ways, making them a versatile addition to any wardrobe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Casual Look: For a casual look, pair jelly sandals or flip flops with shorts or a sundress. Add a straw hat and sunglasses for a beachy vibe.
Office Look: Jelly shoes can also be worn to the office. Pair jelly sandals with a skirt and blouse or wear jelly flats with dress pants for a fun twist on traditional footwear.
Party Look: For a party or night out, try pairing jelly heels with a cocktail dress or jumpsuit. Add a clutch and statement earrings for a complete look.
Jelly shoes are a fun and fashionable footwear option for women of all ages. They come in a variety of styles and can be dressed up or down for any occasion. Carmen Sol is a brand that offers a wide selection of jelly shoes, from sandals to boots, in a range of colors and designs. Whether you're headed to the beach or the office, jelly shoes are a comfortable and stylish choice.
submitted by carmensol1 to u/carmensol1 [link] [comments]

2023.05.18 19:54 FLBoy19 The James Shields Trade Tree is kind of insane

So this is actually a pretty wild trade tree when it's all said and done. We all know the intial trade I'm which the Rays traded a face of their franchise on December 9th 2012 during the winter meetings. But currently there are 3 core players on the Rays that was caused by the trade. I am going to break down each point providing bWAR values that ach player generated on the intial team and intial contract and the basic description of each trade the sole exceptionto this . NP means never played for team who acquired them. Further trades will only be explored if a main piece was used to acquire another piece no throw in players will be discussed of they were moved. + means player is still on current team and contract
James Shields Trade- 12/9/12 Royals received- James Shields (8.3), Wade Davis (6.6), Elliot Johnson (PTBNL)(.5) Rays received- Wil Meyers (1.3) , Jake Odorizzi (8.2), Mike Montgomery (0), and Patrik Leonard (0). Royals WAR gained- 14.6 Rays WAR gained- 9.5
So the Royals got what they wanted as Shields was an ace that did help change the culture in with the Royals. A lot of credit went to James for changing the culture after all those young Royals at the time of the trade won the WS in 2015. Now the trade is really the Wade Davis trade as Wade became arguably the best reliver in the MLB for a 3 year stretch for 2014 to 2016 and a core piece of those AL pennants and WS win, also brought Jorge Soler to KC in 2016. Elliot Johnson was a throw in who lasted one year. The general consensus was the Royals overpaid at the time as Wil Meyers was a stud top 5 prospect and Jake Odorizzi was a top 50 prospect. Mike Montgomery was a organizational top 10 prospect and Leonard was a top 20. Ordorizzi ended up being the only piece that stayed in Tampa long term. All of these player would be traded except for Leonard. But by the end of 2014 the trade had seemingly generated a top 3 starter ( Odorizzi) and an All-Star caliber outfielder ( even after Meyers horrendous 2014 he still was viewed as that). Leonard never panned out and Montgomery never pitched for the Rays.
The Wil Meyers Trade 12-19-14- Padres- Wil Meyers (8.5) and Jose Castillo (0.6), Ryan Hannigan(NP) Geraldo Reyes (-.5)
Rays- Jake Bauers (.5), Rene Rivera (-1.9), Burch Smith(NP), Steven Souza (6.1), Travis Ott (NP)
Padres- Joe Ross (4.4), Trea Turner (22.3)
Yeah this is a weird trade still. Trea Turner was traded way later as there was an MLB rule as the time they required 1 year waiting time before a drafted player could be traded. Wil Meyers was a good starter averaging 2.4 WAR per 162 games. However was never what the Padres thought they were getting and they signed him to pretty bad contract that hindered them early in their current competition window. The Rays got a collection of players that all were just meh but would be utilized in future trades. Jake Bauers became a top 50 prospect in baseball. Steven Souza was an above average starter with 6.1 war over 3 seasons which once averaged over 162 is 2.6 WAR per season. If it wasn't for Trea Turner Souza would be the most valuable on a rate basis.
Mike Montgomery Trade 3-31-2015-
Mariners- Mike Montgomery (2.1) Rays- Erasmo Ramirez- (2.7)
This was a 40-man roster trade, Mike Montgomery wasn't making the Rays so they traded 1 for 1 for Erasmo who had a good year starting and had 1 decent relief year before he fell apart. Montgomery is better known as a Cub but this is a neat 1 for 1 trade that worked for both teams. Erasmo was later traded back to the Mariners.
Erasmo trade 7-28-2017-
Mariners- Erasmo (-.9) Rays- Steve Cishek (1.1)
Part of the weird deadline buying the Rays did in 2017. Don't get me wrong I loved this season as I was in my Junior year of college and had a great time rolling to bars with friends to watch the games. Cishek became a FA and walked after this year but was lights out as a rental and the reason finished just a shade under 500.
The Jake Odorizzi trade 2-17-2018-
Twins- Odorizzi (4.9) Rays- Jermaine Palacios(NP)
This was a nationally panned trade that is still a head scratcher. In reality the Rays were cashing in on players after that 2017 year and with the Longo trade things looked bleak as young players would have to step up big time for the Rays to have chance. Palacios was a no one ended up debuting with the twins anyways. At the time I think the trade was meant to guarantee roster spots for Brent Honeywell ( still ain't over what happened to him), Jose DeLeon, and Jake Faria to start with Snell and Archer but still.
The Steven Souza trade 2-20-2018-
D-Backs-Souza (-.4), Taylor Widener (1.1+) Rays- Anthony Banda (-.4), Nick Solak ( NP), Colin Poche (.4+), and Sam McWilliams (NP) Yankees- Brandon Drury (-.3)
The Rays sold high on Souza and at the time the return looked pretty good. Banda was a top 100 prospect, Solak was a top 10 org guy and Poche as 1 of the PTBNL was big as he was dominant in 2017. Obviously of those guys Poche is still around is a (even if some Rays fans don't like it) pretty good reliever. This trade also is made better by how bad Drury busted in New York, but sadly Souza's career basically died in the desert in 2018.
The Jake Bauers/Yandy Diaz Trade 12-13-2018-
Cleveland gets- Jake Bauers (-1) and Carlos Santana (5.6) Seattle- Edwin Encarnacion (2.1) and CBA pick Rays-Yandy Diaz (9.7+)
After a weird 2018 where the Rays won 90 games, traded Chris Archer, and had a lot of young guys come up and play they decided to trade Jake Bauers while he still had value after a poor debut. They acquired a former Cleveland top prospect in Yandy Diaz who hit the ball hard but couldn't loft it. Yandy has become a mainstay and with 1 more year of what would have been arbitration control we will see what his war value actually equals when it's all said and done. Also Cleveland and Seattle swapped aging sluggers with varied results.
Nick Solak trade-
Rangers- Nick Solak (.6) Rays- Pete Fairbanks (1.4+)
The final trade of this tree so far. Nick Solak was on track to be unprotected for the 2019 rule 5 draft and the Rays had no where for him on their roster. So a 1 for 1 trade occurred for an erratic but big stuff reliever. Pete Fairbanks has become a near shut down reliever for the Rays whole Nick Solak isn't even a Ranger anymore.
Value gained- 29.1 WAR ( With 3 more years of Pete and Poche and 1 more year of Yandy control to add to total)
Value lost- 28.1 WAR
Weird stat- Nationals got 26.7 WAR from being a secondary contributor to 1 trade.
Summary- Even though as it currently stands the Rays barely on the positive end of this trade tree i think this will change quickly with the 3 players still under control and the fact none of the players traded away are still with the teams that traded for them. Kinda neat that the Rays might have fialed intially when acquiring talent but managed to flip those failures or meh players for legit players.All the value lost is purely off of players the Rays directly traded away. Neat to think that the James Shields Trade is still paying off value over a decade after it occurred. Particularly the fact that it has delivered 2 mainstays of the Rays roster. Hope all of you enjoy.
Edit-Wil Meyers 3 year extention kicked in 2020 adjusted WAR value.
submitted by FLBoy19 to tampabayrays [link] [comments]

2023.05.16 06:40 carmensol1 The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Pair of Jelly Shoes

When it comes to comfortable, stylish, and durable footwear, jelly shoes are the perfect choice. Jelly shoes, also known as jelly sandals, jelly flip flops, and jelly boots, are made from PVC material that makes them water-resistant, easy to clean, and long-lasting. They are available in a wide range of colors, styles, and designs, making them suitable for any occasion, from a day at the beach to a night out on the town.
If you're looking for the perfect pair of jelly shoes, look no further than Carmen Sol. Carmen Sol is a leading brand in the jelly shoes market, offering a wide range of high-quality, fashionable, and eco-friendly jelly shoes that are perfect for any style or occasion. In this ultimate guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about choosing the perfect pair of jelly shoes from Carmen Sol.
Style and Design
The first thing you need to consider when choosing the perfect pair of jelly shoes is the style and design. Carmen Sol offers a wide range of styles, from classic jelly sandals to trendy jelly boots. Some of the popular styles include:
Comfort and Fit
The next thing you need to consider when choosing the perfect pair of jelly shoes is comfort and fit. Carmen Sol jelly shoes are made from high-quality PVC material that is soft and flexible, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods. They also come with a cushioned sole that provides extra support and comfort.
When it comes to fit, Carmen Sol jelly shoes come in a range of sizes, from US size 5 to 12. It's important to choose the right size to ensure a comfortable fit. If you're unsure about your size, Carmen Sol offers a size chart on their website that you can use as a guide.
Durability and Quality
Another important factor to consider when choosing the perfect pair of jelly shoes is durability and quality. Carmen Sol jelly shoes are made from high-quality PVC material that is water-resistant, easy to clean, and long-lasting. They are also eco-friendly, making them a great choice for those who are environmentally conscious.
To ensure the durability and quality of your Carmen Sol jelly shoes, it's important to follow the care instructions provided. Avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, and clean them with a mild soap and water.
The final factor to consider when choosing the perfect pair of jelly shoes is price. Carmen Sol jelly shoes are priced competitively, making them an affordable choice for those who want high-quality, stylish, and eco-friendly footwear. The price of Carmen Sol jelly shoes varies depending on the style and design, but you can expect to pay between $40 and $150.
In conclusion, choosing the perfect pair of jelly shoes is easy when you know what to look for. Consider the style and design, comfort and fit, durability and quality, and price when making your decision. With Carmen Sol, you can be sure that you're getting high-quality, stylish, and eco-friendly jelly shoes that are perfect for any occasion.
submitted by carmensol1 to u/carmensol1 [link] [comments]

2023.05.15 13:44 bladerunnercarrot Nordstrom Rack Tory Burch Flip Flops Coupon Code

You may check the link for Nordstrom Rack Tory Burch Flip Flops Coupon Code. Almost always, latest coupons and promo codes can be found there. Also, current discount deals are available at the link.
submitted by bladerunnercarrot to SnazzyOffers [link] [comments]

2023.05.12 06:33 carmensol1 Jelly Shoes for Women: Fun and Fashionable Footwear for All Ages

When it comes to summer footwear, jelly shoes have been a popular choice for decades. Originally designed as a beach shoe, jelly shoes have evolved into a versatile and stylish option for women of all ages. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of jelly shoes, the different types available, and how to style them for any occasion.
History of Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes were first introduced in the 1960s as a practical beach shoe. They were made of a flexible PVC material that was waterproof and easy to clean, making them perfect for the sand and surf. In the 1980s, jelly shoes experienced a resurgence in popularity and became a fashion staple for women and children. They were available in a rainbow of colors and often featured glitter, flowers, and other embellishments.
Today, jelly shoes continue to be a popular choice for women's footwear. They have been updated with modern designs, such as wedge heels and platform soles, making them suitable for a variety of occasions.
Types of Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes come in a variety of styles, including sandals, flip flops, and even boots. Let's take a look at each type in more detail:
Jelly Sandals: Jelly sandals are perfect for warm weather and can be dressed up or down. They are available in a range of styles, from simple strappy sandals to more complex designs with bows or buckles.
Jelly Flip Flops: Jelly flip flops are a great option for the beach or pool. They are easy to slip on and off and come in a variety of colors and patterns.
Jelly Boots: For those who want to make a statement, jelly boots are a fun and unexpected choice. They are available in ankle or knee-high styles and can be worn with jeans or leggings for a bold look.
Styling Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes can be styled in many ways, making them a versatile addition to any wardrobe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Casual Look: For a casual look, pair jelly sandals or flip flops with shorts or a sundress. Add a straw hat and sunglasses for a beachy vibe.
Office Look: Jelly shoes can also be worn to the office. Pair jelly sandals with a skirt and blouse or wear jelly flats with dress pants for a fun twist on traditional footwear.
Party Look: For a party or night out, try pairing jelly heels with a cocktail dress or jumpsuit. Add a clutch and statement earrings for a complete look.
Jelly shoes are a fun and fashionable footwear option for women of all ages. They come in a variety of styles and can be dressed up or down for any occasion. Carmen Sol is a brand that offers a wide selection of jelly shoes, from sandals to boots, in a range of colors and designs. Whether you're headed to the beach or the office, jelly shoes are a comfortable and stylish choice.
submitted by carmensol1 to u/carmensol1 [link] [comments]

2023.05.09 23:41 sparklinkplot3 Nordstrom Rack Tory Burch Flip Flops Coupon Code

You may check the link for Nordstrom Rack Tory Burch Flip Flops Coupon Code. Almost always, latest coupons and promo codes can be found there. Also, current discount deals are available at the link.
submitted by sparklinkplot3 to MornDeals [link] [comments]

2023.05.08 22:40 King_of_the_Lemmings Always Check a full game listing before you apply or ask to join

Was about to apply to a roll20 game until i saw this was posted by and in the gms game.
"I run a very tight game. Tight, hard, sopping wet, toned and bronzed games that could be seen less as campaigns and more as glorified one-offs. I don't give a shit. My games are rollercoasters, not hikes.
This game will be relatively short, 2-3 months tops with weekly sessions lasting 3-4 hours each. There will be a definitive finale with variable endings, extremely involved sequences demanding aggressive and attentive play and a killer OST.
Some Personal Rules as DM.
submitted by King_of_the_Lemmings to DnDcirclejerk [link] [comments]

2023.05.08 11:59 jakalo Exercise in hubris - Riga's Marathon experience

### Race information
* **What?** Riga Marathon 2023
* **When?** May 7th, 2023
* **Strava activity:** [ Rīgas Maratons 2023 Run Strava]( Rīgas Maratons 2023 Run Strava)
* **Finish time:** 1:27:38

### Goals
Goal Description
A 3:10:00
B 3:05:00
C 2:59:59

### History
I have been member of this subreddit for more than 3 years now. Joined shortly before pandemic when I decided to finally take running a bit more seriously and break 90 min HM barrier which I have been quite close to with my enthusiastic and dubious ''lets wing it'' training regime.
That went very well, race report [here]( ). After that I followed it up with a bit less intense training block and ran 18:17 5k in Ogre's (my hometown) annual road race shortly before autumn covid backlash hit us again and we locked down once more. That was 2020.
The next two years went by in a flash, didn't hang up my shoes, but ran unstructured mostly easy miles (~45 km (30 miles) a week) . Took up weightlifting for a while, ran a few rogainings (6h) with a good friend of mine who fell for rogainings hard. Ran with him Rigas marathon 2022 without serious preparation (and without remarkable results). This was my first road race since 2020 and kind of a turning point as I decided I have to check that marathon mark after all.
Coincidentally my partner and I got the great news that we will be parents and the baby is dues late may 2023 which left me this one chance to do it before the not so ideal training conditions of ''newborn baby care'' and inadvisable recovery programme called ''chronic lack of sleep'' kicks in.
Flush with this great expectation (this was to be our first) we went on a vacation for a couple of weeks and returned first week 2023.
### Training
These circumstances forced onto me first and probably the most important decision regarding this marathon. As a Pfitz boy (young and spry 34 year old) I realised I would have to either jump in the second week of his 18 week programme or build up my mileage and take the 12 week one. Don't ask why it was only then I had that realisation.
Having had experience with his training plans I decided that jumping straight into his training plan with would probably kill me, thus I settled for the less than optimal 12 week 89km to 113 km (55 to 70 miles) training plan and used these 5 weeks to build up from 65 km to 85 km (40 to 53 miles).
Training went quite well, first month or so I had many little aches in both of my feet during the runs, but nothing nagging and they didn't persist. After a couple of months however plantar fasciitis symptoms showed up after waking up, countered with some stretching and bought a night splint which I wore from then till the marathon, since then symptoms went away more or less completely (after a while). Caught a nasty virus on the eleventh week, which forced me to drop 2 days of training and dial back paces for this and next week.
Had another bout with sickness on week 14 just as I started to feel pretty good again, but powered through. Completely flamed out on my first time trial. It is a tradition for me at this point as I did the same in my Half marathon training block as well.
Probably a combination of sickness and doing my training runs on the faster end (for me) + Pfitzs hard-ish programme. Didn't suffer that much from the midweek doubles despite the warnings that it is the killer.
Couldn't run faster workouts at desired pace though, these two years of non-existant speed work shined through my preparation, I didn't run a single marathon pace run at marathon pace, first one (week 7) was at the beginning and I was nowhere near required fitness, second one (week 9) as well and IIRC that was after heavy snow storm so I had to run through pretty deep snow and the third one (week 12) was not very long after my sick days) and I ran it at 4:30-4:45 min/km pace (7:15-7:40 min/mile) which was far far away from the desired sub 3h marathon pace I was hoping for.
Still I tried to stick to the mantra of trust your training even though at that point I was not confident at all. Truth to be told my belief followed a sinusoid curve throughout last weeks of the training block where it spiked after good runs and plummeted after bad runs. It didn't get my spirits down much though. A saying from this very same subreddit stuck in my head: ''Go out and run and maybe good things will happen'', from one of Boston marathon winners iirc.
Week 15 I started to recover from the second bout of sickness (although a cough persisted all the way till marathon, with slowly reducing severity and intervals though). As I said mentally I didn't feel inspired to go on the runs, but didn't hate it either. Week 16 I was feeling pretty good, as these three weeks are race preparation and start of the taper weeks I had been running a lot of intervals, which were almost at the pace I should be able to run them.
At the end of week 16 I had my second and final tune up race (I don't ever bother to search for races and run them as time trials though). Armed with my brand new vapourflys but without much gusto I ran it 39:16 with a conservative start, felt that I might have gone sub 39, but after the spectacular failure during my first time trial I was estatic with this time and even though this wasn't sub 39 10k which would have been a very soft 3 h marathon predictor I let my hopes to get up again.
Week 17-18 (marathon was Sunday on the18th week) I spent tapering as per plan, during dress rehearsal which Pfitz plans 5 days before marathon I felt slow and I again mentally revised my time down. Felt good though, didn't have any undue anxiety or anything serious. Slept really really well, even the night before marathon which people seem to have problems with.
Turned 35 years old 4 days before marathon, which put me in the 35-40 age bracket, don't know whether it is faster or slower one, but I decided to postpone birthday celebrations until after marathon.

A couple words on miscelaneous things - I did some strength training (mainly beginning) and core training (from Pfitzs book), one, two or none times a week, roughly once a week.
Garmin was complete downer all the way, gotta love that little guy, according to it I had 53 Vo2 max 95% of the training time and 3:17 prediction wasn't exactly promising.
I used to calculate my training paces (according to pfitz) and gauge my progress, it too showed very conservative training paces and consequently slow race predictions, but after playing with it a while I found that applying a 1.1 correction made them correspond more closely to my training paces. It is a very nice site if you like data.
Nutrition, well I don't want to say that my nutrition plan was bad, I ate a lot of carbs which is good and definitely helped me getting through Pfitzs midweek double medium-long runs, but most of the increase in carbs were pure trash - mainly sweets, chips, pastries etc. No regrets though.
Refrained from caffeine 2 days before the start, probably should have done it for longer, but I like my coffee a bit too much.

### Race Strategy
I was flip flopping regarding my pace, but in the end I decided to stick to the easiest plan and follow 3h pacers for as long as I can. I had 4 energy gels, I was planning on using them roughly 30-40 min and grab isotonic drinks and supplementary GI from the aid station on km 12.
### Pre-race
Got up 4:45, ate 2 PB jelly sandwiches and drove to Riga, where the event takes place. Got there after 6 am and spent the rest of the time to familiarize myself with the map, drank a coffee at 7 am and we headed out at 7:30 to do some very light warm up. A friend of mine was running a HM and joined me for the warmup.
### Race
Weather was quite chilly, perfect for running, I was debating whether to start with a jacket, but decided to keep only gloves for comfort. Took a place right by 3h pacers just behind elite corral and the race was on.
I was quite surprised, but glad to discover, that my brother was running in the same group as myself (he ran HM, the start was combined) as he complained he was feeling sick yesterday and I had assumed he was gonna take it easy today. Nice to have company though.
We started out fast, faster than I had hoped but evidently the plan was to bank some time for the suffering that was to come. I was feeling quite good, pace was fast, but not punishing but I was a little bit concerned that my HR was hovering just just below my LT threshold. Still, I had my strategy and I was gonna stick with it. first 5 kms went by in 20:51 in a 4:11 min/km pace (6:44 min/mile). our group was holding strong and one of the pacers was a real bro encouraging us, shouting out turns etc. Hadn't run with a pacer before and it was a real pleasure not to worry about my pace and enjoy drafting behind the guys in the front.
Km 5-10 went by in basically the same pace in 20:55, I ran past where my girlfriend was supposed to wait for me but didn't spot her, so I had to keep the gloves on, wasn't much of a hindrance and I disposed of the on the return trip ( passed her 4 times total). This year due to construction projects marathon was 2 laps ( a bit different, but mainly the same route).
We slowed down a bit in 10-15 km - 21:07 min, and 15-20 km - 21:16 min. I wasn't that worried though because that was right in line what the pace was supposed to be. Our GPS watches were struggling though and drifted to positive, in the end they showed more than 400m longer distance than course. Around km 18 I lost sight of my brother as he was speeding up and finally our distances diverged, he ran his PB HM time 1:28 and some change. Great result especially taking account the sickness.
I passed first half ~ 1:28:30 ( roughly extrapolating from 20 km marker) which would have been my second fastest HM. Started to feel real good and chatted with our pacers a bit. Remarked that one of them looks tired, as a joke. He said: ''Yeah, thats because I am'' I laughed and kept on running, but apparently he really was, because he dropped out after a few km and that left us with only one pacer. Our group was slowly shrinking, but still holding strong.
20-25 km went by in 21:24 mins
25-29.86 km (why would you put time station 140m short??) went by in 20:20 mins (4:17 min/km pace 6:54 min/mile), this part had a couple of hills and suspension bridge which was last of the significant inclines (relatively speaking, it is a very flat marathon overall) At least that was what our pacer told us. At the end saw my girlfriend and my friend who had finished his HM and who were waiting to cheer me on, I remember feeling good at that point.
I haven't touched a lot on nutrition, but drank a little bit in all the aid stations, mostly isotonic drink and ate one GI gel, and 4 isotonic ones. Stomach was holding strong, weather was nice and breezy.
29.86-35 in 21:56 mins (4:12 km pace, 6:45 min/mile) was a very flat part, I was starting to feel some pain, this and next 5 km were for sure the hardest part of the marathon. Still the pace was good and we we picking up people bit by bit. Some of our group decided to strike out and accelerated, not that many though, I think we were around 10 at that point but I was running in the front row or second row most of the time as I felt pretty strong still and was enjoying the mental boost of leading the pack (for a while).
We passed the gel dispension point on the 34th km and I was surprised to see that there were still a lot of them (would have guessed they would be gone after 1st lap) so I grabbed 3 even though I still had one and wasn't planning to use more than one. Immediately regretted it as I felt it weigh down my gel pouch. Why did I make myself work harder at the end of my first marathon.. Still kept them though.
Our pacer was holding the pace and I was running with the group still feeling very content, that I will probably be able to finish with a result above my wildest dreams, but around km 38 I kinda got carried away, I think group slowed down a second and I just kept running, Pfitzingers words: ''these last 10 4 km are what you have been training so hard for. Go out and show them what you got'' paraphrasing. 39-41 km I ran at ~4:02 min/km pace ( 6:29 min/mile). Felt really great running solo and picking people off one by one. Last km I took pedal off the gas a little bit and enjoyed the last stretch and encouragements from spectators. Finished with a spurt overtaking a couple of guys in the last 200 meters.
Final time 2:57:49 (chip), 54. place overall and 11th in my age group.

### Post-race
Showered, met up with my girlfriend and couple of friends and spent the afternoon eating and playing board games in a pub. My quads are aching and my feet fingers are pretty beat up, but I feel great and really thankful and lucky that everything went so great in my first marathon when there are so many things that can go wrong.
Now onto that one more important thing - welcoming and raising a new human into this world. Running will take a backseat for a while, but I don't think it and I are done yet.
Thanks for reading this wall of text!
submitted by jakalo to AdvancedRunning [link] [comments]

2023.05.04 07:43 carmensol1 10 Tote Bags to Upgrade Your Work-From-Home Wardrobe

If you're like many people, you may have found yourself working from home more often over the past couple of years. With this shift comes a new wardrobe challenge: how to stay comfortable and stylish while also feeling productive and professional. One easy way to upgrade your work-from-home wardrobe is with a tote bag that can carry all your essentials while looking great on your arm. Here are 10 tote bags that will do just that:
  1. Carmen Sol Large Tote Bag: This stylish and versatile tote bag from Carmen Sol is made from soft and durable jelly material, making it perfect for carrying everything you need for a day at the office or a quick trip to the grocery store. The large size is ideal for carrying a laptop and other work essentials, and the bright colors and classic design will never go out of style..
  2. Madewell The Transport Tote: This classic leather tote from Madewell is a staple in any wardrobe, and it's perfect for the work-from-home lifestyle. The spacious interior can hold a laptop and all your other work essentials, and the minimalist design is both stylish and professional.
  3. Everlane The Day Market Tote: This elegant and eco-friendly tote from Everlane is made from 100% Italian leather and features a sleek and minimalist design. It's the perfect size for carrying your laptop, notebooks, and other work essentials, and the neutral color options will match any outfit.
  4. Lululemon City Adventurer Tote: This athletic-inspired tote from Lululemon is perfect for the work-from-home lifestyle. The spacious interior can hold a laptop and all your other work essentials, and the versatile design can be dressed up or down.
  5. Herschel Supply Co. Market Tote: This stylish and functional tote from Herschel Supply Co. is perfect for carrying all your work essentials. The spacious interior can hold a laptop, notebooks, and more, and the classic design will never go out of style.
  6. Baggu Duck Bag: This durable and eco-friendly tote from Baggu is perfect for the work-from-home lifestyle. The spacious interior can hold a laptop and all your other work essentials, and the bright colors and playful design will add a pop of fun to your work wardrobe.
  7. Anthropologie Large Tote Bag: This stylish and versatile tote bag from Anthropologie is perfect for carrying all your work essentials. The spacious interior can hold a laptop and more, and the eye-catching design will make a statement wherever you go.
  8. Tory Burch Gemini Link Tote: This elegant and functional tote from Tory Burch is perfect for the work-from-home lifestyle. The spacious interior can hold a laptop and all your other work essentials, and the signature Gemini link chain adds a touch of luxury to your everyday look.
  9. Rebecca Minkoff Always On Regan Tote: This spacious and stylish tote from Rebecca Minkoff is perfect for the work-from-home lifestyle. The roomy interior can hold a laptop, notebooks, and more, and the timeless design will never go out of style.
  10. Kate Spade New York Beach Bags Tote: This playful and versatile tote from Kate Spade New York is perfect for the work-from-home lifestyle. The spacious interior can hold a laptop and all your other work essentials, and the fun beach-inspired design will add a touch of whimsy to your work wardrobe.
In conclusion, upgrading your work-from-home wardrobe can be as simple as adding a stylish and functional tote bag to your collection. Whether you prefer a classic leather tote or a playful beach-inspired design, there's a tote bag out there that will fit your needs and style. Consider adding one of these 10 tote bags to your wardrobe and enjoy the convenience and style they provide.
submitted by carmensol1 to u/carmensol1 [link] [comments]

2023.05.02 07:11 carmensol1 Jelly Shoes Are a Timeless Fashion Statement

Joyful, comfy and brazenly childlike, it is undeniably fun to throw on a pair of jelly shoes. These days, designers like Carmen Sol, Tory Burch and Ferragamo have given these whimsical shoes a sophisticated upgrade. Today, the jelly shoe has made a big comeback and is available in styles ranging from the classic sandal to high-rise wedges. Jelly shoes are even vegan-friendly, offering a great alternative to shoes made from leather.
Carmen Sol’s jelly shoes are inspired by popular runway trends, like chunky styles with ruffles and bows, traditional webbed designs, and edgy studs. Some of the styles you'll see in Carmen Sol’s contemporary jelly footwear include the following:
You may think you know jelly shoes as trends of the ‘80s or children's footwear, but you may be surprised to find out that they have an international history that dates back to shortly after World War II.

The History of Jelly Shoes

The origin of jelly shoes is uncertain. Vogue Paris has revealed that jelly shoes, which they refer to as “méduse” (which means “jellyfish” in French) shoes were created in 1946 during a post-war leather shortage. Other sources assert that the budget-friendly and waterproof shoes were a product of the plastic boom of the late 1950s.
No matter when jelly shoes were created, they only became popular in the 1980s, with the surge of neon, rainbow bright colors and synthetic fashion trends. In 1981, a bank president named Preston Haag Sr. quit his job to find a business he could operate that would include his family. He soon traveled to South America in order to visit with American ambassadors and discover potential products for the United States market.
At a reception in Brazil, Haag saw many different bright shoes worn by various young women. He ended up asking them about their footwear and learned that their manufacturer was Grendene, a small company that employed 3,000 of the 10,000 people living in the town of Farroupilha, Brazil.
In March 1981, Haag made a deal to distribute Grendene's plastic shoes in the southeastern US through a new company that he named Grendha. He first introduced jelly shoes in America at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.
While this launch was successful, jelly shoes only became a bonafide fashion hit in America in February 1983. This was when Bloomingdale's, a fashionable and luxurious department store in New York City, ordered 2,400 pairs in nine different styles. After this massive sale and resulting exposure, jelly shoes became the hottest summer sandal in the fashion world.
Today, designers like Gucci and other big names have made luxe, high-fashion versions of jelly shoes and influencers like Alexa Chung have been spotted wearing them.

What Are Jelly Shoes Made Of?

PVC is very flexible and resistant to abrasions at a low cost.
Unfortunately PVC hasn’t had the best reputation, as it has been said to be toxic, constituting a health hazard during the manufacturing process. One feature that sets Carmen Sol’s products apart from other brands is that they design and manufacture products that are Prop-65 compliant, which means they are nontoxic.
The scented jelly material is animal cruelty-free while adding a subtle fragrance to the products that never fades away. The company sources the scent from Italy and infuses it into the material.
Advances in plastics and synthetic materials have provided for significant improvements in jelly shoes from years past. Modern materials are lightweight, offer more comfort, are sweat and odor-resistant, and are surprisingly eco-friendly. Many modern styles of these shoes, like Carmen Sol’s, are made from recycled materials, making them a choice that is environmentally responsible as well as affordable.
The jelly material Carmen Sol uses is not only 100 percent recyclable but also cruelty-free and vegan. Their jelly material is available in an assortment of different colors, providing you with many different options to choose from. The diversity of Carmen Sol's collection means every accessory that you choose from this brand is incredibly unique, stylish, and sustainable.

Modern Jelly Shoes: How to Wear

Carmen Sol’s fun sandals and slides are the perfect summer companion for shorts, tees, tank tops, casual skirts and pretty summer dresses. Color options are numerous, with options like white and baby pink and plenty of bright hues in the mix. The brighter colors work well in spring and summer with almost any casual wear. Their nude and white options match with any outfit.
Darker hues, metallic styles, and dress-up styles like their embellished wedges can work with more sophisticated outfits too. Pair pretty dresses and skirts with a metallic sandal style, or spice up your skinny jeans with a dark peep toe jelly flat. Carmen Sol offers metallic hues that include rose gold, gunmetal, gold, and silver. Choose a fun wedge jelly style to wear with khakis, jeans, or slacks.
In addition to playful and comfy jelly shoes, did you know there are other kinds of accessories available made from PVC jelly? Jelly bracelets and bags are becoming more and more popular because of their durability and beauty. Like their jelly shoes, the Carmen Sol bracelets and bags are characterized by edgy studs and bold colors.
Modern jelly shoes like those designed by Carmen Sol are a fun and functional way to incorporate playful colors and styles into your footwear. No matter which style you select, you are bound to turn heads because of Carmen Sol jelly shoes’ striking beauty and eye-catching appearance!
submitted by carmensol1 to u/carmensol1 [link] [comments]

2023.04.30 16:44 polarttarius [SELL][US] Lowered Prices–Danessa Myricks, Dior, Lancome, Buxom, Urban Decay, Maybelline, Elf, Bare Minerals & More

verificationPaypal G&S, shipping $4+, no minimum. Shipped in 1-2 business days. Drug, pet, covid free. Packed securely in box and/or bubble mailer

Danessa Myricks Colorfix in Latte (BNIB) $10
SOLD Dior Rouge Blush in shade New World (used) $15
16 Brand Blush in shade Milk Tea Shot (used) $1

Elf Lash It Loud Volumizing Mascara (BNIB) $1
L'Oreal Shimmer Liquid Eyeshadow in shade Royal Onyx (used 1x) $1
Ulta Beauty Mascara in Jet Black 8.5ml (BNIB) $1
Lancome Juicy Tube in Tickled Pink (BNIB) $8
Buxom Plump Shot Lip Serum in shade Filler Deluxe Sample (BNIB) $2
Elf Hydrating Lip Shine in shade Happy (BNIB) $1

Urban Decay 24/7 Inks Liquid Eyeliners in shades Oil Slick, Hi-Energy (BNIB) $12 each

Maybelline Master Prime in 400 30ml (used, ~85% left) $2
Elf Perfect Finish HD Pressed Powder in Clear (used, see picture) $1
BareMinerals Original Mineral Veil Setting Powder in Original Translucent 0.03oz (used, ~80% left) $1

Beekman 1802 Milk Drops Ceramide Serum Deluxe Sample (BNIB) $8
Beekman 1802 Milk Wash Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser Deluxe Sample (BNIB) $3
Beekman 1802 Oh! Mega Milk Fermented Barrier Boosting Facial Oil Sample (BNIB) $3

Dior La Micro-Huile De Rose Advanced Serum 1ml x2 $5 each

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm Travel Size 20g (BNIB) $6
Benefit the Porefessional Deep Retreat Pore-Cleansing Clay Mask 10ml (BNIB) $1

Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser 10ml (BNIB) $1

Haircare deluxe samples, $3 each
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Mask 30ml (BNIB)
Joico Defy Damage Protective Shield 50ml (BNIB)
Living Proof Full Conditioner 30ml (BNIB)
Ouai Leave in Conditioner 25ml (BNIB)
Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave in Conditioner 75ml (BNIB)
Pureology Hydrate Conditioner 50ml (BNIB)
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo 50ml (BNIB)
Redken One United Multi-Benefit Treatment 30ml (BNIB)
The Sea Moss Collection Sea Slip Mineral Infused Curl Slime 59ml (BNIB)
Wella Fusion Intense Repair Mask 30ml (BNIB)
Chi Silk Infusion 15ml (BNIB)
SOLD Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner 20ml (BNIB)

Fragrance (all official samples except Hermes is mini bottle)

Freebies (1 for every $10 purchase)
Beekman 1802 Midnight Milk Better Aging Sleep Mask Foil Sample
Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion Foil Sample
Cerave Moisturizing Cream Foil Sample
Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion DS 29ml
Darphin Intral Inner Youth Serum Sample x2
Estee Lauder Foam Cleanser Sample
Estee Lauder Melting Soft Creme/Mask 5ml
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
SOLD Sephora Colorful Eyeshadow in shade Cinnamon (used 2x)
Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Defining Cream 10ml & Frizz Control Sculpting Gel 10ml Foil Sample
Ulta Beauty Poreless Face Primer
Ulta Beauty Tinted Eye Primer in shade Champagne
Bioderma Hydrolab Creme 5ml x2
NYX Plump Right Back Primer Serum Foil Sample
Laura Mercier Real Flawless Weightless Perfecting Foundation in shade 2N1 Cashew Foil Sample
L'Oreal Revitalift Serum Foil Sample

Thanks for looking! 💕
submitted by polarttarius to makeupexchange [link] [comments]

2023.04.28 17:05 AetherDrew43 I made a list of all gear in previous games that is currently unavailable in Splatoon 3, so you don't have to.

This took forever to make, but I listed every single piece of gear from Splatoon 1 and 2 that hasn't made it yet to Splatoon 3.
Ever wanted to know which of your favorite pieces of gear aren't available in Splatoon 3 but couldn't find a reliable list online? Well, here you go!

HEADGEAR: Anglerfish Mask, Eel-Cake Hat, Eye of Justice, Festive Party Cone, Fierce Fishskull, Hivemind Antenna, Hockey Mask, Jetflame Crest, Koshien Bandana, Kyonshi Hat, Li'l Devil Horns, Mecha Head - HTR, New Year's Glasses DX, Twisty Headband.
CLOTHING: Friend Tee, Green V-Neck Limited Tee, League Tee, Mecha Body - AKM, Octo Support Hoodie, Red V-Neck Limited Tee, Splatfest Tee Replica, Squid Yellow Layered LS, SWC Logo Tee.
SHOES: Mecha Legs - LBS.

CLOTHING: Dakro Golden Tee, Dakro Nana Tee, Inkopolis Squaps Jersey, Navy Deca Logo Tee, White Deca Logo Tee.
SHOES: Black Dakroniks, Blue Laceless Dakroniks, Mint Dakroniks, White Laceless Dakroniks.

HEADGEAR: Long-Billed Cap.
CLOTHING: Missus Shrug Tee, Mister Shrug Tee.
SHOES: Cream Basics, Midnight Slip-Ons, Polka-dot Slip-Ons, Truffle Canvas Hi-Tops.

CLOTHING: Black Urchin Rock Tee, Chirpy Chips Band Tee, Hightide Era Band Tee, Squid Squad Band Tee, Wet Floor Band Tee, White Urchin Rock Tee.
SHOES: Deepsea Leather Boots, Gray Yellow-Soled Wingtips, Inky Kid Clams, New-Leaf Leather Boots, Pearl Punk Crowns, Sennyu Inksoles, Smoky Wingtips.

HEADGEAR: CoroCoro Cap, Matte Bike Helmet, Zekko Cap.
CLOTHING: Birded Corduroy Jacket, CoroCoro Hoodie, Deep-Octo Satin Jacket, Olive Zekko Parka, Tumeric Zekko Coat, Zekko Jade Coat, Zekko Long Carrot Tee, Zekko Long Radish Tee, Zekko Redleaf Coat.
SHOES: Marination Lace-Ups, Pearl-Scout Lace-Ups, Suede Gray Lace-Ups, Suede Marine Lace-Ups, Suede Nation Lace-Ups.

HEADGEAR: Deca Tackle Visor Helmet, Digi-Camo Forge Mask, Moist Ghillie Helmet, Motocross Nose Guard, Noise Cancelers, Sennyu Goggles, Sennyu Headphones, Squidfin Hook Cans, Tentacles Helmet.
CLOTHING: Brown FA-11 Bomber, Custom Painted F-3, FA-01 Jacket, FA-01 Reversed, Gray FA-11 Bomber, Moist Ghillie Suit, White Leather F-3.
SHOES: Moist Ghillie Boots.

HEADGEAR: Black FishFry Bandana, Blowfish Newsie, Fugu Bell Hat.
CLOTHING: Blue 16-Bit FishFry, Gray 8-Bit FishFry, Khaki 16-Bit FishFry, ω-3 Tee.

HEADGEAR: Do-Rag, Cap, & Glasses, Hothouse Hat, Patched Hat, Sneaky Beanie.
CLOTHING: Black Hoodie, Dots-On-Dots Shirt, Hothouse Hoodie.
SHOES: (Skalop has never made any shoes)

Splash Mob
HEADGEAR: Pilot Hat, Sennyu Bon Bon Beanie, Sennyu Specs.
CLOTHING: Baby-Jelly Shirt & Tie, Lime Easy-Stripe Shirt, Pink Easy-Stripe Shirt, Pink Hoodie, Shirt with Blue Hoodie, Whale-Knit Sweater.
SHOES: Green Laceups, Piranha Moccasins, Tea-Green Hunting Boots.

HEADGEAR: Mountie Hat, Seashell Bamboo Hat, Yamagiri Beanie.
CLOTHING: Chili-Pepper Ski Jacket, Chilly Mountain Coat, Eggplant Mountain Coat, Fishing Vest.
SHOES: Birch Climbing Shoes, Musselforge Flip-Flops, Pro Trail Boots.

HEADGEAR: Green Novelty Visor, Orange Novelty Visor, Pink Novelty Visor, Purple Novelty Visor.
CLOTHING: Blue Tentatek Tee, Lob-Stars Jersey, Red Tentatek Tee, Silver Tentatek Vest, Tentatek Slogan Tee.
SHOES: Amber Sea Slug Hi-Tops, Black Norimaki 750s, Blue Iromaki 750s, Canary Trainers, Gray Sea-Slug Hi-Tops, Green Iromaki 750s, Icy Down Boots, Orange Iromaki 750s, Purple Iromaki 750s, Red Iromaki 750s, Red-Mesh Sneakers, Sea Slug Volt 95s, Sesame Salt 270s, Violet Trainers, White Norimaki 750s, Yellow Iromaki 750s, Yellow-Mesh Sneakers.

CLOTHING: Takoroka Crazy Baseball LS, Takoroka Jersey, Takoroka Windcrusher.
SHOES: Athletic Arrows, Blue Power Stripes, New-Day Arrows, Orca Hi-Tops, Orca Passion Hi-Tops, Orca Woven Hi-Tops, Red Power Stripes, Trooper Power Stripes.

CLOTHING: Annaki Evolution Tee, Annaki Red Cuff, Annaki Yellow Cuff, Prune Parashooter, Red Hula Punk with Tee, Rockin' Leather Jacket.
SHOES: Annaki Arachno Boots.

HEADGEAR: Eminence Cuff, King Facemask, King Flip Mesh.
CLOTHING: Black Velour Octoking Tee, Grape Hoodie, Green Velour Octoking Tee, King Jersey, Milky Eminence Jacket, Navy Eminence Jacket, Navy King Tank, Octoking HK Jersey, Slash King Tank.
SHOES: Black & Blue Squidkid V, Honey & Orange Squidkid V, Milky Enperrials, Navy Enperrials, N-Pacer Ag, N-Pacer Au, N-Pacer CaO, Online Squidkid V, Pearlescent Squidkid IV, Rina Squidkid IV, Sun & Shade Squidkid IV.

Toni Kensa
HEADGEAR: Ink-Guard Goggles.
CLOTHING: Front Zip Vest, Half-Sleeve Sweater, Kung-Fu Zip-Up, Light Bomber Jacket, Panda Kung-Fu Zip-Up, Positive Longcuff Sweater, Pullover Coat, Short Knit Layers, Toni K. Baseball Jersey.
SHOES: Toni Kensa Black Hi-Tops, Toni Kensa Soccer Shoes.

HEADGEAR: Conductor Cap, Golden Toothpick, Hero Headphones Replica, Legendary Cap, Null Visor Replica, Octoling Googles, Octoling Shades, Old-Timey Hat, Studio Octophones.
CLOTHING: Black Cuttlegear LS, Fresh Octo Tee, Hero Hoodie Replica, Neo Octoling Armor, Null Armor Replica, Octarian Retro, Octo Layered LS, Octoling Armor, Old-Timey Clothes, Red Cuttlegear LS, Sennyu Suit.
SHOES: Hero Snowboots Replicas, Neo Octoling Boots, Null Boots Replica, Octoling Boots, Old-Timey Shoes.

HEADGEAR: Beekeeper Hat, Oceanic Hard Hat, Sailor Cap, Welding Mask, Worker's Cap, Worker's Head Towel.
CLOTHING: Crustwear XXL, Dev Uniform, Garden Gear, North-Country Parka, Office Attire, Online Jersey, Record Shop Look EP, SRL Coat.
SHOES: Flipper Floppers, Friendship Bracelet, Non-slip Senseis, Wooden Sandals.
Misc. Brands from Splatoon 1
Traditional Headband, Traditional Apron, Traditional Sandals.

Black Pipe Tee, White Line Tee.

Some unavailable gear appears on Tableturf cards. Such as the Motocross Nose Guard which appears on the Bloblobber card.
Some pieces of gear have changed names between games. Like the "Punk Nights" that changed its name to "Punk Blacks".
The FC Albacore is listed as produced by Enperry rather than Takoroka, despite the fact that the shirt still has the Takoroka logo. This is probably a mistake.
I will keep this list updated as the seasons go by. Stay tuned! And if I made a mistake, please let me know.
submitted by AetherDrew43 to splatoon [link] [comments]

2023.04.28 13:33 charmyposh-9546 What Are The Latest Shoe Trends For Women?

What Are The Latest Shoe Trends For Women?
As fashion enthusiasts, we can’t help but obsess over the latest shoe trends for women. While clothing may take the spotlight on the runway, shoes play an equally vital role in completing any outfit. From casual sneakers to elegant heels, there are no limits to the styles and designs we can explore. Our team has recently examined the platform shoe and fisherman sandal trends that were major hits earlier this year. But with summer quickly approaching, it’s time to make some fashionable swaps. A great pair of shoes not only boosts your mile time but also increases your confidence as you walk strong and tall. Let us dive into the Latest Shoe Trends For Women in 2023, ensuring you’ll look fashionable and be on time for any occasion.

Top 10 Shoes Trends for Women in 2023

1- Penny Loafers

Penny loafers, the ultimate shoe trend that is taking the fashion industry by storm. As we delve into the latest women’s shoe trends, we cannot help but take notice of this classic shoe. A versatile and timeless style, penny loafers can be worn with anything from casual jeans to formal dresses. Whether you prefer a traditional leather finish or a playful pattern, penny loafers offer endless options to elevate your outfit. So why not slip into a pair of penny loafers and step up your fashion game?

2- Platform Shoes

The Latest Women Shoe Trends are all about elevating your fashion game, quite literally, with Platform Shoes. These statement-making shoes are perfect for those who want to add a few inches to their height while keeping their comfort in mind. From block heels to wedges, these shoes come in all shapes and sizes, making them perfect for any occasion. So, get ready to strut your stuff with confidence and make heads turn with these trend-setting Platform Shoes. Just be sure to practice walking in them before you show off your elevated style!

2- Platform Shoes

The Latest Women Shoe Trends are all about elevating your fashion game, quite literally, with Platform Shoes. These statement-making shoes are perfect for those who want to add a few inches to their height while keeping their comfort in mind. From block heels to wedges, these shoes come in all shapes and sizes, making them perfect for any occasion. So, get ready to strut your stuff with confidence and make heads turn with these trend-setting Platform Shoes. Just be sure to practice walking in them before you show off your elevated style!

3- Kitten Heels

Attention fashionistas! Are you ready to swag up your stuff? If so, it’s time to add a new member to your shoe collection — Tiny Kitten Heels! This latest trend in women’s shoes is taking the fashion world by storm, bringing a touch of elegance and sophistication to any outfit. With heels that are just a little bump-up, these shoes are perfect for those who don’t want to sacrifice fashion or comfort. So, why wait? Get ready to channel your inner Audrey Hepburn with these stylish and sleek kitten heels.

4- Baggy Boots

Baggy boots are the ultimate cool-girl shoe for summer. With their slouchy silhouette and relaxed fit, they’re perfect for pairing with everything from sundresses to shorts. Plus, they offer both style and practicality in one, with sturdy soles and comfortable materials that will keep you on your feet all day long. Whether you’re heading to a music festival or just running errands around town, these boots will take you there in style. Get ready to add some effortless edge to your summer wardrobe with the latest women’s shoe trend: baggy boots.

How to Stay Stylish with the Latest Shoes Trends

5- Toe Ring Sandals

Get ready to step up your shoe game this spring 2023 with the latest trend in footwear — toe ring sandals. Drawing inspiration from the nineties and noughties, this style is making a comeback with a fresh twist. As if your toes weren’t pretty enough on their own, now you can adorn them with chic rings that will make your feet look all the more stylish. From the high-end designs of Tory Burch to the iconic styles of Lanvin and Stella McCartney, these sandals are sure to elevate any outfit. Keep reading to learn more about how to stay stylish with the latest shoe trends.

6- Treaded Sandals

From the hiking trail to the runway, treaded sandals are having a moment. The utilitarian sandal is taking over the fashion scene with its chunky sole and sturdy grip. The latest trend in the sandal game is all about mixing fashion with function, giving you the perfect excuse to skip the heels this summer. These statement-making sandals are the perfect addition to any wardrobe and can elevate even the most basic outfit. Let’s dive in and explore how to stay stylish with the latest shoe trend — treaded sandals.

7- Studded Clogs

Studded clogs are the latest trend that has made a comeback in the fashion world. These shoes are not only practical, but they are also a statement piece that can elevate your style game. With a lower, flatter heel this season, they’re perfect to pair with wide-legged pants. And if you’re looking to add some oomph to your footwear collection, go for the ones with stud embellishments. Whether you’re dressing them up or down, these clogs are a must-have for every fashion-forward woman. So buckle up and get ready to step out in style.

8- Gladiator Sandals

Welcome fashion lovers! Are you ready to step up your style game with the latest trendy shoes? Look no further than the stunning gladiator sandals. It would be a sin to leave these beauties off any kind of stylish shoe list. These sandals are not only fashionable but also give you a sense of bravery, beauty, and confidence. They’re the perfect footwear to make a statement and stand out from the crowd. So, let’s dive into the world of gladiator sandals and explore the endless possibilities they have to offer.

9- Chunky White Sneakers

Chunky white sneakers have been a staple in the fashion world for quite some time now, and they show no signs of disappearing from the scene. These trendy shoes are not only a perfect fit for casual outfits, but they also add an edge to formal outfits. The chunky sole is not only great for adding height and a sense of boldness to your outfit, but it also provides excellent support for your feet. Step up your style game with these versatile and comfortable sneakers that will make you feel like a true fashionista.

10) Sculptural Heels

As fashion becomes more daring and eclectic, sculptural heels have risen to the forefront of trendy footwear. These stunning works of art boast intricate designs and bold shapes that elevate any outfit from mundane to magnificent. From blocky shapes to curved lines, these heels are sure to turn heads and make a statement. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of edge to your everyday look or dazzle at a special event, sculptural heels are the perfect choice to step up your style game.


Are there any specific colors or materials that will be popular in shoe trends for women in 2023?
Yes, bright and bold colors such as red, yellow, and pink are expected to be popular in shoe trends for women in 2023. Additionally, sustainable and eco-friendly materials like vegan leather and recycled materials are also gaining popularity in the fashion industry.
How can I stay stylish with the latest shoe trends?
One way to stay stylish with the latest shoe trends is to invest in versatile footwear that can be worn with multiple outfits. This includes chunky white sneakers, which can be dressed up or down, and sculptural heels, which add a unique touch to any ensemble. Additionally, keeping an eye on color and material trends can help you stay on top of the latest styles.
What are some trendy shoes that can help me step up my style game?
Some trendy shoes that can help you step up your style game include chunky white sneakers, gladiator sandals, and sculptural heels. Other popular choices include toe ring sandals, treaded sandals, and studded clogs. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different textures and patterns to add interest to your outfit.
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2023.04.26 04:04 Sorceress683 Asked ChatGTP to make me a Shakespearean sonnet as done by Weird Al

Asked ChatGTP to make me a Shakespearean sonnet as done by Weird Al submitted by Sorceress683 to Chatbots [link] [comments]

2023.04.25 06:55 carmensol1 Jelly Bags and Accessories: The Perfect Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and you might be scrambling to find the perfect gift to express your love and appreciation for your mother. If you're looking for a unique and stylish gift that she'll surely love, consider getting her a jelly bag or accessory from Carmen Sol..
Carmen Sol is a luxury brand that specializes in jelly bags, shoes, and accessories. The brand is known for its high-quality and eco-friendly products that are not only fashionable but also durable and sustainable. Carmen Sol's products are made of high-quality jelly material that is soft, waterproof, and easy to clean, making them perfect for everyday use.
One of the best things about Carmen Sol's products is that they come in a wide range of colors, styles, and sizes. Whether your mother is into bold and vibrant colors or prefers subtle and classic hues, there is a Carmen Sol product that will suit her style and taste.
If your mother loves shoes, consider getting her a pair of jelly shoes or jelly sandals from Carmen Sol. These shoes are not only comfortable and stylish but also perfect for the summer season. Carmen Sol's jelly shoes come in various styles, including flats, wedges, and flip flops, so you can find a pair that suits your mother's preference. Moreover, Carmen Sol's jelly shoes are made of hypoallergenic jelly material that is safe for all skin types, making them a great gift for those with sensitive skin.
Another great gift idea from Carmen Sol is their jelly bags. These bags come in various sizes, styles, and colors, so you can find one that suits your mother's needs and preferences. Carmen Sol's jelly bags are perfect for everyday use, whether your mother is running errands, going to work, or traveling. These bags are not only stylish but also practical and functional, with enough compartments and pockets to store all your mother's essentials.
Finally, if your mother loves jewelry, consider getting her a pair of Carmen Sol's jelly studs. These studs come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them perfect for any occasion. Carmen Sol's jelly studs are made of high-quality jelly material that is durable and long-lasting, so your mother can enjoy them for years to come. Moreover, these studs are hypoallergenic and safe for all skin types, making them a great gift for those with sensitive ears.
In conclusion, if you're looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, consider getting your mother a jelly bag or accessory from Carmen Sol. With their high-quality, eco-friendly, and stylish products, Carmen Sol is sure to have something that will suit your mother's style and taste. Whether you're getting her a pair of jelly shoes, a jelly bag, or a pair of jelly studs, you can be sure that your mother will love and appreciate your thoughtful gift. So why wait? Head to Carmen Sol's website today and start shopping for the perfect Mother's Day gift.
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2023.04.18 19:07 orchidpetaldesign Magical Cinderella

The wheel of the royal carriage briefly dropped into a rut in the road, jostling the inhabitants of the carriage. "My gracious!" Queen Evangeline Exclaimed, "We will need to speak with the Countess about these roads." "I'll make sure to mention it when we meet her mother." Prince Aelfric said as he helped his mother straighten up. "Darling, please at least feign some interest in our trip." Queen Evangeline said on seeing her son's bored expression. "Why should I? I've told both you and father in no uncertain terms I'm against this tour of courtiers daughters to find a bride." "Darling, you must have a bride to continue our family line." "Is it so hard to understand that I merely want a bride that speaks of more than what color thread she'd use to capture the perfect color of my hair when she embroiders the tapestries showcasing all of my many accomplishments?" "You exaggerate; they do not all speak that way to you." "Of course not. Some prefer to tell me how they would oversee the staff to organize the perfect party to welcome visiting royals." Queen Evangeline sighed. She couldn't deny her son had a point. The young ladies of the court were educated in hospitality, commanding the servants, painting, embroidery, and music to immortalize her future husband's many accomplishments. "Still, you must have a bride from the royal court, my darling. Anyone lower would be scandalous." Prince Aelfric sighed and returned to gazing out the window of the carriage. "Looks as though we approach the manner. Remind me which Lady is going to regal me with how to find the perfect color of paint for my eyes this time." Queen Evangeline looked at the book laying on the carriage seat beside her and flicked two fingers at it. Beckoning the book to float on unseen hands into her lap. With a quick snap of her wrist, the book flopped open to the page she wanted. "Must you use magic for everything, mother?" Aelfric asked "Magic is like any muscle, my dear. If one does not use it, one forgets how. Now it seems we are here to see Countess Helen and her two daughters Danielle and Jezebel." "Grand," Aelfric said, his voice already weary from the idea of listing to two women prattle at him over what he considered to be travail nonsense.
The carriage pulled to a halt outside the grand manner, where four women stood in a line. At the front of the line was a tall, handsome woman around his mother's age, likely the Countess herself, beside her about one step behind, were two younger women. All three wore gowns of the finest silk and linen and were adorned with enough gold and jewels to blind a passerby when the sun winked out from behind the clouds. The fourth woman stood far back from the other three and wore a slightly tattered dress made of a cheap wool, obviously the servant girl for the family. "Your Highness." Countess Rodica said with a bow as the carriage pulled to a stop before her. The curtsey she dipped into before the carriage stopped proved to be a mistake, however, as the wheel of the carriage slipped into one last rut in the road, splattering the Countess with mud from the previous evening's rain. The Countess shot a disgusted look back to her servant girl briefly. The servant girl quickly flicked her wrist. The earth splashed across the Countess's face was gone in an instant. She straightened as the footmen helped Queen Evangeline from the carriage. "We are both overjoyed to be here, Countess," Evangeline said, but she was not looking at the Countess. She was instead studying the servant girl behind her. "Might I present my Son, Prince Aelfric," Evangeline said as she motioned to the Prince who was exiting the carriage behind her. "Of course, your Highness, I am most honored to have you both in my home. Might I present my daughters, Danielle," the Countess said as she gestured to the young woman to her right. The girl was a mirror of her mother. The same soft black hair was swept up into a fashionable braid about her head, with eyes as brown as deerskin. With her ivory skin and the same heart-shaped and colored red lips, she smiled at Aelfric. "And Jezebel," The Countess said as she gestured to the young woman to her left. Jezebel was the light version of her sister Danielle. Jezebel's golden hair was styled similarly to Danielle's. Her eyes glinted a blue to the shame the depths of the ocean. Her lips were a bit thinner than her sisters but colored just as deeply red, and her skin was also fair. Both ladies would be considered unparalleled beauties, but Aelfric had seen many exceptional beauties on this tour. Odds were there was nothing of substance rattling around in those pretty heads of theirs.
"Your Highness." The ladies said with deep curtseys of their own. They both straightened, batting their long painted eyelashes at him. "Shall we enter the hall for Dinner?' The Countess said, gesturing toward the manner behind her. The servant girl pulled the large wooden door open as the Queen, Prince, Countess, and her daughter's entered and settled themselves into the plush chairs in the parlor. The servant girl entered last and pulled the door shut. She spared no glace at her stepfamily as they moved to entertain their royal guests. Instead, she went straight for the kitchen. After all, there was dinner to get on the table, drinks to serve, and most importantly, she needed to see to the letters sent by the tenets who rented their farmland. She impatiently set to work a wave of her arm towards the cask in the corner of the kitchen had glasses filling a tap of the spoon in the pot on the stove as she walked by, stopped it stirring, and started it lading into a line of nearby porcelain bowls. She glanced at the meat roasting on the turning spit over the fire in the fireplace built into the wall. A glace at it told her the meal was almost ready. She pulled the door to the oven beside the fireplace open and checked the bread. She smiled at how perfect it looked. With another wave of her hand, the bread floated from the oven onto the counter where a knife sliced it onto equal pieces, and fresh butter made just for this event was pulled from the icebox and scooped into a glass bowl by a wooden spoon as the meal prepared itself for the table. Amina went to the desk she kept by the fire and flipped through the letters briefly. The farmers had sent the reports of how their crops and animals had done for them this season. The information she needed to decide how much their taxes would be. As they gently placed themselves on the try behind her, the clinking of glasses made her sigh. Doubtless, if she did not get them served immediately, her stepmother would go into a tizzy. Amina was already in trouble for not filling in the rut on the road outside the manner. Amina set the letters aside and went right to work. Picking up the tray, she moved back into the parlor from the kitchen. Her stepmother was sitting beside the Queen, chatting away about how splendid her Highness looked today, while Danielle and Jezebel took turns fawning over the Prince. She offered her tray of wine to the Queen and her stepmother first before turning and offering the same tray to the Prince and her stepsisters. The Prince readily grabbed at a glass while Jezebel regained the man with where she would buy the perfect shade of blue paint to match his eyes. Amina tried to hold back a laugh. Could Jezebel not see how board the man was with this line of conversation? Amina glanced towards her stepsister "of course, only the carrion beetle from the east can capture the deepest red." It seemed not, Amina thought to herself. Her sisters both declined the wine. Amina courtesied to the Prince and Queen as she flitted from the room. She turned to the dining room by the kitchen and waved towards the cabinet in the corner. Several porcelain dishes and glass cups flew from the hitch and perfectly settled on the table. Amina peeked into the kitchen to check on the progress. The meal was all laid out on the various serving dishes. She crooked her finger at the bowls of soup on the work table. The bowls floated from the work table to rest themselves in the middle of each plate on the table. Amina then turned and moved back to the parlor. She gave her stepmother a quiet nod.
"Dinner is served. Shall we, your Highness?" Countess Rodica asked the Queen. "Certainly." the Queen responded as she stood. As the group moved through the door, the Queen once again regarded Amina with a curious gaze as she followed the Countess to the dining room.
As the group settled about the table, the Countess began to extol the virtues of her daughters. "Danielle is quite gifted with a needle, Your highness, I must say, and Jezebel has the sweetest singing voice." "I'm certain they do, but might I inquire about your servant girl?" "Ah yes, the poor thing lost her father at a young age. So I offered her a place to serve my household. If I'm, to be honest with you, she's not the best servant I've ever employed, but I couldn't very well let her live on the streets." "I see. How did the girl lose her father?" "It was quite odd one moment the man was hail and hearty the next he had fallen to the ground and died." "And what of her mother.?" "Died slightly after the girl was born as I understand it some kind of illness that had overtaken her." "I see." "Might I inquire, your Highness, does the Prince enjoy music? Because Danielle is quite the accomplished flute player and often accompanies her sister's singing." As the meal ended, Aelfric excused himself from the table on the pretense of answering nature's call. He left the dining room and wandered into the kitchen. "If you're looking for the privy, it's out that door." Someone called from the desk opposite the fireplace. Aelfric looked closer at the desk and spotted the source of the voice. The servant girl was pointing at a door on the opposite end of the kitchen which led outside. But she was not looking up from the papers in front of her., several strands of hair red enough to match the fie escaped her upswept style, speaking to how hard she'd worked to put the meal he'd just eaten on the table. "I apologize, miss, to be honest with you-" "You're looking to escape Danielle and Jezebel," She finished for him "Yes." He replied with a bit of shock. He was not used to anyone being so honest and seeing through him so quickly She scribbled a few last words on paper, then laid her quill to the side and finally looked up at him. "I apologize, your Highness, I can be a bit blunt, but I do find that speaking my mind saves time and energy." "And you have a need to save time." "Of course, I serve my stepmother's household and see to the needs of our tenants." "You care for the tenets of this land?" "It is what I was taught to do, unlike my stepmother and sisters. My mother died after I was born, and my father tried to raise me as best he could, but he was never able to teach me how to be a proper lady. He hoped my stepmother would train me in the more feminine arts to attract a suitable husband, but then he died not long after their marriage. And since My stepmother was hopeless at caring for the land and its tenants she was more than happy to let me take the lead. As long as she held its title of Countess, and the tenants think she is in charge, she is happy, and I can continue taking care of our people." "So when the tenants of this land speak of their kind, benevolent Countess who is strong yet fair. They mean you." "Is that what they say? Well, that is very kind of them." "But why would you serve the household as well?" "It was part of the deal I made with my stepmother, I serve the household to be sure everyone sees her as the true countess, and she allows me to care for our lands and people." "It seems to me as though the land should be yours by right after all if your father had not married, it would have been." "Understandable as that is, sir. He did marry, and since my father left no writings stating otherwise by the laws set forth by your family line sire, my stepmother inherits everything." "That seems unfair." "Be that as it may, Sire, I must request that you either head out the back toward the privy or return to the dining hall. If you are found talking with me, I will be in for punishment." "It is my decision who I do and do not converse with!" the Prince demanded. He was not used to being asked to leave. "Do not misunderstand me, Sire. I do not wish you to leave either. Rather I have quite enjoyed our conversation. I also have found it quite refreshing to speak so openly with someone. But my stepmother is concerned merely with securing the best marriage for her daughters as possible, and that means keeping me away from you." "I will tell her I chose to talk with you." "While I appreciate the gesture, Sire, that will not solve the issue merely complicate things further for me. So," she flicked her wrist towards the door, and it flew open, confirming his suspicion that the door did lead outside. "You have magic!" The Prince stated again in shock "Yes, one of the few traits I get from my mother. Now, will your Highness be heading to the privy or back to the dining hall?" "To the dining hall, I suppose." she flicked her wrist, and the door closed, and the woman went back to studying the letters before her. "Before I go, might I at least have your name?" he asked "Amina Rodica," she said He smiled and reluctantly turned to leave. He'd had a more intriguing time in the few moments he'd stolen speaking with Amina than in the thousands of hours he'd whittled away with any of the court ladies. Too bad she was not a lady of the court.
Queen Evangeline and Prince Aelfric climbed back into the carriage shortly after and began the trip back to their palace. "What did you think of the ladies?' His mother asked "They're that same as all the other girls," he stated flatly but still stared out the window as the house faded into the distance "And what did you think of Amina?" His mother asked with a teasing edge to her voice. "How did you-" he began, then rolled his eyes. Of course, his mother would know. Not all women were born with magic, but those that were were more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. Not for the first time, Aelfric found himself wishing he could have magical talents like his mother, but alas, magic was only passed from mother to daughter. "Amina is the most interesting woman I've found so far, and if I were honest, I would like to spend more time with her, but as her stepmother gained the title, so Amina is not a lady of the court." "you let me worry about that." "do you know something I don't?" Aelfric asked "I always know something you don't, darling," Evangeline answered with a twinkle in her eyes.
Amina woke with a start. She looked down at the scattered papers that littered the surface of the desk where she'd fallen asleep. Amina often fell asleep on the desk in the kitchen and would wake up with ink staining her face and hands. She stretched and shivered in the cold, then looked to the fire in the fireplace. The embers glowed a soft orange. If she wanted to continue working, she'd need to stoke and restart the fire. She glanced out the window to track how far the moon had progressed across the sky. As she peered out the window onto the street, she noticed something odd the street was awash in a soft blue light People were emerging from their homes to see what was happening on the road. Judging by the sounds from the floor above her, her stepfamily planned to join the others on the streets. "AMINA!" the shout came from upstairs as the bell for her stepmother's room rang with urgency. Amina sighed now she knew what had woken her up. Her stepmother had seen the lights on the street and started calling her, likely looking for an explanation. Amina slipped up the hidden staircase in the west corner of the kitchen and entered her stepmother's room. "What kept you?" her stepmother did not wait for Amina to answer before continuing. "What is going on out there? The streets are awash in blue." "It seems we have the same information." "Don't be coy with me." "The only thing I can tell you is that it's magic, but it is not my Magic," Amina replied "It's certainly not your magic. All you can do with magic is cook and clean." Amina hung her head. It wasn't her fault that her mother could not train her to use her magic before she died. Still, it was her greatest failing. "I suppose the only way to discover what is happening outside seems to be to go outside." "Well, hurry up and prepare the girls and me, then we must be presentable and seen there as the rulers of this land." Amina sighed and did as asked, first styling and dressing her stepmother, then she quickly styled and dressed her stepsisters. The ladies strode out the door and onto the main street. As they appeared in the square, dozens of men and women were already there. Gentle music wafted through the air played, it seemed by a band of ghostly blues musicians. Men of the same ghostly blue forms walked amongst the gathered crowd asking single women of all ages to dance. Dancers filled the square a few real couples even waltzed among the couples made of ghostly and human partners. Two ghostly blue gentlemen appeared beside her stepsisters. They offered their hands, not wanting to be forgotten both Danielle and Jezebel eagerly accepted and were taken out into the crowd of dancers. "GIRLS!" Their mother yelled at them, but it was too late Danielle and Jezebel were already spinning a delighted swirl of skirts on the other side of the plaza. A third ghostly dancer arrived and offered his hand to the Countess. She waved him off and began searching for the woman who'd cast this spell. It did not take long to find her. Queen Evangeline stood on the driver's bench of the royal carriage, conjuring dancers and scanning the crowd. Both the Countess and Amina made their way around the outside of the throng to stand beneath the Queen. "Your majesty?" the Countess called "might I inquire of the reasoning for such an event?" "Ah Helen, I see your daughters are quite enjoying the ball." "It's beautiful. I wish I could make something like this." Amina said as she took in the scope of the Queen's creation "Ah, there she is, the Lady of the hour. Amina Mittet Rodica." "Me, your highness?" "You, my dear, made quite an impression today, and my son would like the chance to keep a few extra hours with you." Amina stood stunned as the carriage door opened and Prince Aelfric Himself emerged and offered her his hand. "Might I have this dance, Amina?" Aelfric asked Amina spared a nervous glance toward her stepmother, who glared back at the girl with a mixture of anger, betrayal, and shock. "I-I am not properly attired for a dance sire." Amina stammered "Well, if that's all that plagues you, deary." Queen Evangeline said as she swirled her fingers over Amina's head. In an instant, a soft blue light engulfed Amina. Amina stood clad in a most delicate purple silk gown when the light faded, studded with silver threads, pearls, jewels, and colored glass. "There now, I will not hear another word of excuse. Off you two go then." Evangeline nodded towards the square. Aelfric took Amina's hand, and she reluctantly followed him out to the dance floor. "Your Highness, I must respectfully protest. Amina is not a lady of the court." "Is she not?" Evangeline said as she nailed Helen with a look "Well, her father was a count, but since we married after his passing by law, his titles went to me, and I will pass the title to my daughters." "You would be correct if the title was his to give." "Your highness?" "Surely you know Her mother was countess Minette Rachelle Rodica." "Well, ye - yes, but I - I didn't know you knew?" Helen stammered "There are few things in this world I do not know. However, all one needs to do is look at the girl. She is a mirror of her mother, my dear foster sister Minette." "foster sister!" "yes, after Minette's mother died, she was sent to my family so my mother could teach both her and I magic. I am quite honored to be able to train my dear Minnette's only child now as my mother trained me in magic." Your Highness is going to train Amina?" "Yes, she will be leaving after the ball with myself and Aelfric." "I... you can't! I need her here!" Helen stammered in shock Evangeline raised an eyebrow at the woman's turn of phrase as Queen, a mere countess, had no right to tell her, no, but she decided to let it slide, considering the woman's shock at the announcement. "I most certainly can and will be. You are released to pack her things." Evangeline demanded. "Uh-ah sh-she has very few things, your Highness. The clothes on her back are nearly all she owns." Helen stammered "oh? Well, no matter, I'll pack her things myself." Evangeline said with a wave of her hand several large trunks came floating from the manner down the road settled next to the carriage. Helen looked at the pile of trunks in disbelief. "There now, that is everything Amina holds dear in the manner. You will also find when you return home that any of her ancestral family's possessions have been packed and locked in the attic beyond your reach. To remove the temptation to sell such things while she is away." "But I am the countess the house, and its contents were passed to me when my husband died." "were your husband born as the count, you would be correct, but as it stands, your husband was born a butler's son." "I-I" "surly you knew this." "I did," Helen admitted as she hung her head. "Minette was the only surviving child of the Count Rodica line. Thus she inherited the title of Countess. She decided to marry below her station and took as a husband the young man she grew up with, the son of her family's butler. Which would mean the title would follow Minette's family line, not her husband's. As I'm sure, you knew." Helen stood silent. She knew, of course, she knew. It had been part of her marriage contract. Helen was to sit as Countess until Amina came of age. She was also supposed to train Amina how to be a proper lady of the court. It means her husband died. She Claimed Countess's title, knowing the title was to go to Amina and refused to train Amina for court life. Meaning she'd broken her marriage contract. "Please, your Highness. We have nowhere else to go." Helen begged the queen "What happens to you is of no consequence to me. It is for Amina to decide your fate. I do hope you have treated her well." Helen felt her shoulders drop while Amina had not complained about their living situation, Helen and the girls had not treated her like the member of the family she was either. "I only wanted to do what was best for my daughters," Helen begged the Queen, tears welling in her eyes as her usually flawless composure began to crack. "As a mother, I understand." The Queen said, "but as your Queen, I must abide by the law. According to which Amina is now the Countess of Rodica. There is one last thing before you are dismissed." the Queen said as she lifted her hand toward the crowd of dancers two necklaces and a single bracelet rose from the din. Danielle and Jezebel had used to adorn themselves before emerging onto the street. They flew into the Queen's hand, and Evangeline turned towards Helen. "Are you going to hand over any of the Rocida family jewels you are wearing, or will I need to take them from your neck as well?" Helen looked into the swirling crowd of dancers. Danielle and Jezebel were still smiling and dancing with their ghostly blue partners without a care in the world. They had not even noticed the jewels were no longer adorning their body. Helen reached up with a heavy heart and shaking hands and released the clasp on the necklace around her neck. She also pulled the jeweled combs from her hair and finally removed the wedding ring from her finger, as her husband had insisted the ring was to go to Amina when she came of age. Helen placed all the jewels in the Queen's outstretched hand. "thank you. I suggest you go to the manner and collect yourself. You may stay at the manner unless and until Amina commands otherwise. A steward will arrive tomorrow at noon to care for the land until Amina can appoint her own. Now I suggest you go back the manner and collect yourself." "but my daughters-" "I will have them escorted back by my guards. Let them enjoy the ball while they can." Helen reluctantly left, slinking back towards the manner. The Queen was right. It was best she saw the losses they were about to suffer on her own. She pushed in the door and gasped at the cold dark hall that greeted her. All the fine fabrics, paintings, and furniture were gone. There was a single candle and a few matches on the window by the door. Helen lit the candle and began to wander through the now empty manner. Her footsteps echoed off the barren walls the plush chairs in the sitting room were gone, but the Queen had left them with a simple wooden bench. Danielle's flute rested on the bench, and the painting Jezebel had been working on was still on the simple easel, thankfully with her paints beside it. In yet another show of mercy, there was still a large stack of firewood piled up beside the fireplace. The kitchen had not changed as drastically. The simple table and oven and fireplace were there. However, Amina's desk was gone, as were the dishes but the icebox and ladder still contained food. Helen slowly climbed the stairs, tear threatening her eyes with every step. She placed her hand on the handle of her chamber door and froze. She was not ready. She turned to the other side of the hall and entered Danielle's room. She should have been ready for what greeted her from the sight downstairs. She thought she was ready. Still, as the candlelight spilled into the room, Helen felt her knees weaken. The luxurious bed was gone, replaced by a simple thin mattress on the floor. A few dresses hung on a rod on the far side of the room. It was too dark to see, but Helen knew many of Danielle's dresses were gone. They had been found in the attic of the house and were tailored to fit Danielle. Jezebel's wardrobe would suffer the same as would her own. A handful of jewels lay beside the mattress and a small pile of books in the corner. All of which had been given to Danielle by her grandparents, Helen, or their father, Helen's first husband. She closed the door to Danielle's room. The door to her chambers mocked her from the opposite wall. Not yet. She turned and opened the door beside Danielle's. The candlelight spilled into Jezebel's room. It looked much like Danielle's a few books, a handful of jewels, a few gowns, and a thin mattress. With only one room left to explore, she took a deep breath and pushed in the door to her room. Unwilling to see the carnage, she squeezed her eyes shut. When she opened them, she collapsed to her knees. Her room was the same as the girls. Everything save for a few jewels, books, and gowns were gone. Until this moment, she had not realized how heavily she relied on the Rodica family treasures. Never before had she or the girls lived in such simple conditions. Helen had been born as a lady of the court. Her first husband, who'd already had a son from his first marriage, was a Barron. When he died, his title had gone to his son. The boy was kind to her and his half-sisters. He had allowed them to stay, but when she'd married the count, she and the girls had both left her first stepson to care for his lands. He would not allow her back into his household, not now that she had both stolen and lost a title and broken her marriage contract. Her own family would expunge her name from the family record for this. "Why." she whispered brokenly to the floor. Why had she not trained Amina as she'd promised she would. If she'd at least trained the child, she would have been able to brush off holding the title of Countess for this long as being part of the marriage contract. "why?" she cried again, lamenting her shortcoming a voice taunted her from the back of her mind – magic – it screamed. Amina had magic and was a countess. To train her as a proper lady of the court, knowing she had her mother's magic meant no man of the court would even glance at Danielle and Jezebel when they stood beside Amina. Magic was a rare trait and in such demand that many men of the court would marry a common girl if she could prove she was gifted with magic. Helen had done everything she could to not only keep Amina from court but hide her magic from the world as well, all to ensure Danielle and Jezebel's futures. And now, because of her mistake, they would all be left with nothing. Helen could no longer hold back her tears. She lay on the hard floors of her room and sobbed. There was no getting around it. She had doomed them all. It was all her fault. For a moment, she considered ending her own life. After all, there were still knives in the kitchen. This situation was entirely her fault if she fell on a knife... nothing for her daughters would change, she realized. Their family and the court would still shun them. The only change would be that Helen would not be there to face the mess she'd made with them. There was nothing she could do. Helen was not sure how long she'd lain crying on the floor, but she did hear the tinkling of Jezebel's laughter teasing her ears. Harolding, the girls return from the Queen's magically conjured ball. Helen wiped her face with the hem of her gown. And blew her nose into the handkerchief she always kept tucked up her sleeve. She saw through the window that the blue light glinting from the square was fading the ball was over. She straightened her spine and made her way down the staircase to the empty hall. Just as The royal guard opened the door for her unsuspecting daughters. "Thank you, sirs," Danielle said as she and Jezebel swept past the guard and into the room. The man shut the door behind them as the girls stood stunned. "Mother, what happened?" Jezebel asked As Helen finished her explanation, Danielle let out an ear-splitting wail. One that Helen was sure could be heard by any stragglers clearing the square.
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2023.04.18 08:06 BlueThief Memories of a Stone Wall - Act III: Good News

Hello again, continuing with the rest of the story!
Links to previous Parts I, II.
>As the first weeks of spring roll in, Monkey gets a letter from back home.
>"Congratulations, Monkey! I'm sure you'll make a fine little housewife! "
>Monkey sits there with a thousand-yard stare.
>Monkey sits there with a thousand-yard stare.
>"You're a woman, Monkey."
>Monkey sits there with thousand-yard stare...
>"Okay, so I'm just... going... to take... this LETTER... out of your hands here."
>"Where are we going now?"
>We pack up our things, acquire a palanquin for Naomi so the journey is easier on her and head back to the Monkey's home.
>Eventually, with enough needling from everyone else, the Monkey admits he hates his fiancée.
>Considering how my married life has been going, I find that a bit silly. Set to work telling him how great marriage is.
>"No, you don't understand! She hated ME first! She doesn't want to get married to me, and is making my life hell so I'll call it off! "
>"Uh. so why don't you?"
>"How else am I going to find a wife? My family owns one, ONE rice paddy! "
>"Hey at least your holding is producing, all I've got is a hole in the ground."
>"Look, you're worrying about nothing. Just relax and let the love master teach you everything you need to know to melt a woman's heart! "
>"And after she kicks you in the junk for following a Crab's advice, you could turn to me."
>Kitsuki-san seems to have recovered from sensei's "lessons" if he's joining in the banter again.
>"I am far more eloquent, after all."
>That night.
>Eating dinner.
>Naomi asks to speak with me.
>"So... um. I'm late."
>"Late? for what?"
>"No, Ishigaki-kun. I'm. LATE. By about two months..."
>"Are... Are you?"
>Being at a loss for words is not a new experience for me.
>Being so happy I can't speak properly however, is.
>I once bragged about how great a samurai I would become at the School, and so my Sensei gave me a nice heavy log to carry on my back as I ran around said school. After all, this is nothing to a great Samurai.
>I ran until my head went light and my knees turned to jelly.
>This was the same feeling, only it was very pleasant.
>I looked up at Naomi with the biggest, dopiest grin I've ever worn.
>Not sure when I sat down, but I must have because my ass was firmly planted on the ground.
>"C'mere you."
>"Kyah! "
>Ishigaki-kun everyone is staring!
>"Let them. They're just jealous I have the best wife in Rokugan, and NOW I'M GOING TO BE A FATHER! "
>Surprise from the rest of the party, since I said it loud enough for them to hear.
>Naomi is worried about what her brother said.
>Hey! Hey. You're going to be okay. Kuni-san is working on some things right now, and we're bound by the red string of fate now. In this life and the next, I will love you. My strength is your strength; your strength is my strength.
>She smiles, allowing herself to be reassured.
>We reach the Monkey house.
>The Monkey family is about what you would expect from some Toku bushi.
>His dad looks, dresses, and even speaks like a farmer. Only the wakizashi tucked into his obi gives away any sign of his status.
>His mother, at first glance, seemed a serene housewife. But the callouses on her hand and the faint scar on her chin spoke of a time when she was a Samurai-ko, before her marriage.
>From the way she moved I could tell she continued to practice her Kata daily.
>Now to meet the fiancé. Let's see what all this fuss is about.
>And she gives a polite greeting. Very formal, perfect etiquette. Already wearing a kimono in the Monkey clan's colors, so I've no clue which clan she came from.
>Give the Monkey a quizzical look.
>He's gone pale and is sweating bullets.
>Introductions get passed around.
>...and this is Hida Naomi...
>I suddenly feel on edge.
>...Ishigaki-san's wife.
>The feeling is gone.
>Dinner time.
>Plain ass rice.
>One tiny fish, mostly bones.
>Three slices of cucumber.
>I contemplate how rude it would be to add some of my travel rations to my plate.
>As is often the case when contemplating matters of etiquette, if I want to do it I probably shouldn't.
>Dinner conversation.
>I can engage in polite small talk without embarrassing everyone around me now.
>Play dumb and keep with the small talk whenever anyone tries to get me to speak of weightier things.
>Fiancé has some questions for me though. And Naomi.
>She wants to know all about married life, how we met, who arranged our marriage. Very much interested in the business side of things.
>You know, the part we skipped over because we were genuinely in love.
>Monkey's parents smiled at that confession and shared a glance. Fiancé covered her mouth with her hand and didn't speak to either me or Naomi the rest of the night.
>In the morning we learn we're going to the castle of the Monkey's lord.
>This is, it turns out, a big to do.
>Lots of strings were pulled, many favors exchanged to get this Monkey engaged.
>To a Shinjo woman.
>Despite her family being known for producing bushi, there were no calluses on her hands. Her skin was quite creamy, so she clearly spent little time out of doors.
>I was surprised to learn a pampered Hime-san could come out of the Unicorn clan.
>After entering the castle, we bathed to wash the dust from the road off. Then meet back up for tea.
>Naomi was blushing all the way to the tips of her ears when she came back from the baths.
>She saw me look, gave a little not now head shake.
>Hime-san is sitting next to the Monkey.
>He's staring at his food.
>Whenever a serving girl comes over to add a new dish, I get that weird sense of danger.
>It always leaves as quickly as it came, but I can tell I'm not the only one who feels it.
>The serving girls are almost rude in their haste to leave the table.
>Okay...I think I see what's going on here.
>That night.
>Me and Naomi.
>So what was it that had you blushing so bad?
>She's just... well...
>Naomi was not one to speak ill of others. I gave her shoulder a squeeze to encourage her to let her feelings out.
>She's so...RUDE.
>How scathing.
>She kept questioning about what it was "really" like being married to you! She called you a brute! She insinuated that I must be miserable having to... to... you know. stuff. bed. mumble. blush.
>Yeah, stuff. Bed. We're a pair of kinky degenerates after all.
>But if she keeps being that adorable I may have to do some more bed stuff with her.
>I had to leave before I slapped her!
>Naomi was serious.
>She saw my surprise.
>"Well, she was speaking badly of you. I did not like that."
>That's it, switch flipped. Bed. Stuff. Now.
>What about...
>They're just going to have to learn to deal with it. this is happening.
>Giggle. You are so bad!
>A new day dawns.
>Sitting down with everyone I lay out what I think is happening.
>Hime-san has it in her head that marriages are never happy affairs.
>And she's making it clear that if she isn't happy, you don't get to be happy. She seems to think that sex is the only thing that makes you happy, which is why she gives that discreet aura of menace off whenever a woman gets near you.
>And how in the hell do you even know that?
>Shiba is the one to cover for me. It makes sense given what she's done so far.
>The shock value of him speaking up alone is enough to quell any further questions.
>So what do we do?
>What do you mean WE? This is your problem Monkey.
>Waitno guys c'mon help me out here! You gotta do something! Anything!
>Look, just convince her she's wrong.
>Holy shit do I have to draw you a map? She thinks sex is only fun for men, that's why she's so pissed. She sees herself being treated like a broodmare. So woo her. Or give some great sex! Either way, convince her you see her as more than an incubator for your children!
>Naomi blushes.
>That night four adult men and one adult woman were crouched in the bushes of the palace garden.
>"I cannot believe we are doing this."
>"Shh, Naomi. You want them to hear us?"
>We watched from our hiding spot as Monkey tried to court Hime-san.
>"Why won't you believe me? I'm telling you I don't think of you that way! "
>He had just spoken plainly.
>It was going as well as you would imagine.
>"HAH! Your LORD arranged this marriage, then spent years giving you prestigious posts you don't even deserve to keep my family from realizing how bad an Idea this is! "
>"Or are you really trying to suggest that you love me? This is only the third time we've met!"
>"Of course I do not love you! I don't even know you! But we can respect one another, can't we?"
>"You speak of respect? You expect me to stay in that hovel and watch over your rice paddy while you go out drinking in the arms of Geisha every night!"
>"You expect me to sit at home and get fat with child while you claim credit for your friends' hard work to glorify your own name!"
>Yamete! Yamete Hime-san! He's already dead!
>"For that matter, everyone just expects it of me to bear children! No one ever bothered to ask if I even WANT children, let alone what it takes to make one!"
>"And you have the brazen GALL to speak to me of Respect!"
>"It... it's okay if you don't want kids. I won't force you or anything..."
>"Oh how GRACIOUS of you! And you will announce this to everyone at the ceremony then? So that others know not to press the issue with gossip and barbed questions?"
>Hime-san would know all about barbed questions, clearly.
>I actually felt sorry for the bad luck Monkey. Caught between his duty to his lord and this vindictive woman.
>Angry at the world and lashing out at the nearest target.
>Naomi tugged on my sleeve.
>With a nod of her head she suggested we leave.
>And so we did.
>As we sat around the teapot the Mantis voiced the question in all our heads.
>"Why are we trying to help the Monkey with his relationship woes, again? Aren't there bandits or something we could be killing?"
>Now that he says that, it HAS been a while since we've been in a fight. Perhaps I should check my rice ball for Ninjas.
>Naomi looked around.
>"Have we not shared triumph and tragedy together? Are we not joined by a common bond or duty and of friendship? Of course we should help him with his woes; he is our friend."
>"And? How do you propose we do that, exactly?"
>I didn't find any Ninjas in rice ball. I found the lack of rice ball Ninjas deeply suspicious.
>I examined another rice ball, just to be sure.
>That's when I realized Naomi had been staring at me.
>I swiped a hand at my beard, in case some rice had fallen into it.
>"Ishigaki-kun, do you really not see?"
>"See what... Ninjas?"
>"Nin... No. I am not going to ask."
>"The root of the problem is that Hime-san is under the impression that because certain things are expected of her, they could not make her happy. It is simply the apparent lack of choice she takes issue with."
>Then Monkey threw himself down before Naomi
>"Oh great Naomi-sama! Please! This one begs you to speak to Hime-san! Convince her of your wisdom, I beg of you!"
>Well that was the most absurd thing I'll see all day.
>Naomi looked at me.
>I looked at her.
>EVERYONE looked at her.
>Naomi sighed.
>Three days later, the Monkey was married.
>They aren't head over heels in love like me and my Hana-chan. But the Monkey is not suicidal.
>They have a more... traditional marriage than we do.
>I don't pry about children
>To this day, Naomi has never shared with me what exactly she said to change Hime-san's mind so drastically.
>Wake up
>Naomi snuggled in against my chest.
>My stomach feels a bit wet.
>Lift her gently.
>It's white.
>... Wait.
>Look at Naomi's breasts.
>Huh. Making milk already.
>Naomi's eyes open up, half lidded and groggy.
>Ishigakiku? Wha..?
>Oh, it's nothing. Wipe wipe.
>You may want to wipe your chest before you get dressed.
>She looks down.
>Embarrassed squeak.
>I go and get us breakfast, bring it back to the room.
>As I'm walking back I realize we've got a situation on our hands.
>Soon enough she's going to start to show.
>We're going to have to take some time off soon.
>And get her back to my home.
>Bring all this up as we eat.
>"Where is your home Ishigaki-kun?"
>"It's just a small house, tucked away in the foothills north of the wall."
>"There was a village once, Ishigaki Mura, when the mine was still operational. It's abandoned now though."
>Naomi arches an eyebrow.
>"Yeah, I took my adult name from the village. So?"
>She giggled at my defensiveness.
>"It's a good name, Ishigaki-kun. Suits you perfectly."
>We speak with our superior, and explain the situation. He nods. Of course we must return to my home and prepare for the birth of our first child.
>Send a letter off ahead of us, I've no idea what shape the house is even in after being unused all this time.
>Wrangle my construction cr... brave friends to come along.
>Get another palanquin.
>Off we go, to my perfectly safe and secure and sunshiny home.
>Nothing could go wrong a week's ride from the Wall, right?
>We are met at the border to the Crab lands by a dour looking patrol.
>Their officer dismounts. Chu-i by her sashimono.
>Looks me up and down.
>Her nose wrinkles up like she smelled something bad.
>My beard is trimmed. My hair washed. My armor is clean, polished, and dent-free.
>Realize what her problem is.
>I've become a geisha.
>She looks over the others.
>They squirm a bit. They really didn't like the idea of donning their armor while on the road.
>An armored Samurai going anywhere is almost a declaration of war. But not here. Wearing your armor is a matter of course.
>She sniffs dismissively. Looks in the Palanquin. Hushed questions. Answers even I can't hear.
>She comes back, handing me back the papers.
>There's a genuine smile on her face now.
>Yells to her men."This man came home with a pregnant wife!"
>I can only imagine how red Naomi must be in there.
>But a birth is a joyous occasion. Whole villages will take a day off to celebrate a single child being born. She's going to get lots of attention, whether she wants it or not.
>We get as much of an escort as the Patrols can spare, which isn't much.
>But it's enough. If there was anyone or anything contemplating attacking us, our honor guard dissuaded them from doing so.
>At last we see it. My home. The village is gone, just a few skeletal frames fallen down and rotting. The hill where the mine entrance was is off in the distance. I can see the large boulder in front of it. The ropes and the sutra are still in place. Nothing will come up from that hole again, at least.
>My house is so plain it's almost comical. A simple walkway around a rectangle of a building. All very classic and easy to imagine.
>A "garden" out back with some hardy grass, an empty pond, and one big rock.
>I used to punch that rock to toughen up my hands for Jujitsu.
>My friends managed to keep neutral faces.
>Naomi, however, was peering about from within her palanquin with great interest.
>I rattled up to the entrance.
>To my great relief I see that the house, despite me not living in it for so long, is not a ramshackle dump.
>Spot a pair of sandals already in the foyer. The right one is showing wear all along the left side.
>I know whose sandal that is.
>Party jumps.
>Kuni Toshiro, my friend from long ago comes to stand in the doorway of my house.
>He is a true Crab. We understand one another so deeply we do not even need to speak out loud to communicate with one another.
>His right leg is twisted at an odd angle, giving him a club foot. An old wound earned on the Wall.
>I was there when it happened, and I'm amazed he still has any leg at all.
>He is wearing his face paint, or course. He never takes it off.
>He says it is polite.
>Considering his face is more scarred than mine, he's probably right.
>We stare at one another just long enough for my comrades to wonder if there is going to be a fight before we break out laughing.
>I knew why he didn't come out to greet us, and he knew I knew. We planned a joke to play on my friends without even seeing each other’s faces.
>"Everyone, this is Kuni Toshiro-san. My best friend. Come on in."
>I help Naomi out of the palanquin.
>Toshiro thumpdrags himself over
>"So this is the woman who stole your heart eh?"
>He peers up at me.
>"You do look much more... alive than last I saw you."
>We retire for the evening, with warm food, fine Crab sake (warm milk for Naomi) and Toshiro entertains us all with stories from the Wall. Lighthearted things about daily life and social mishaps, not stories of the darkness that waits just beyond the firelight.
>I wake up.
>No. It's nothing. There is nothing there to disturb my sleep.
>Yet I am disturbed.
>I slip out of Naomi's arms, tuck her in gently, and don my armor.
>I take my tetsubo in hand and walk around my home.
>I crack open doors and peek in on my friends.
>None of them are in armor.
>None of them stir.
>I know why I cannot sleep.
>I step outside onto the walkway.
>Toshiro is there.
>He looks at me, giving a half smirk half laugh. Just a hint of mockery.
>I know what he means. The Wall is not far from here. The Shadowlands lie just beyond. I have brought people born and raised in Rokugan to the very gates of Hell, where nothing is as they think it should be.
>That lack of understanding could kill them.
>It could kill my beloved wife, and our unborn child.
>Of course I am restless.
>As we walk our patrol, Toshiro opens a few doors. He looks at the sutra he has placed there.
>I know this spell. It is a ward. Should a thing with the taint try to cross those barriers they will burst into flames. I have seen him use it many, many times.
>I nod my thanks.
>We finish our patrol and he produces a small bottle of sake.
>Yes, it time for me to get off duty and back to sleep.
>We drink.
>I return to my wife.
>Naomi asked to be taken around the area, she wished to see all of her new home.
>There's just some fallen buildings and an old mine.
>That large rock, yes?
>That was a seal, Ishigaki.
>I can hear the others ears prick up.
>Okay, grand tour for everyone.
>I take them to the "village"
>I point out where the inn was, for Samurai on their way to or from the wall. The small hill on which I stood, daring the other children to come knock me off. None of them could.
>I took them to the mine.
>I told Naomi to stay well back, just in case.
>And I told them of the night my family died.
>The night I got the scar on my face.
>The night I couldn't protect the people who entrusted their lives to me.
>The night Ishigaki Mura ceased to exist.
>It was hardly an uncommon story among the Crab. Many have suffered loss in my Clan. It's one reason I never brought it up.
>Naomi, of course, was in tears.
>The others seemed to be taken aback as well.
>And there is the other reason I never brought it up. Such is part of life for a Crab, such is nigh unthinkable for one outside our Clan.
>I told them the Kuni who placed that seal assured me that nothing would able to use the mine again. That so long as that boulder stood the mine was safe, and the taint would spread no farther.
>Toshiro echoed that.
>My friends took a few steps back anyway.
>They're learning.
>Naomi was well along when I spotted a goblin.
>The summer’s heat was just starting to give way to fall when a furtive shadow ducked down into the rotting remains of a house.
>I moved quickly, then softened my tread. Keeping my breathing even I moved up.
>The thing heard me, it leapt from its hiding spot and tried to run.
>I chased it down and killed it.
>One tiny little goblin. Naked save for the mud and shit caked onto its body. But the tanto it carried was sharp.
>I thought of Naomi, belly heavy with child.
>Her illness was making this last part difficult
>She had little strength, and didn't move around much on her own.
>I went back to get the others. I wanted to do a thorough search of the area.
>Toshiro stayed behind to watch over her.
>His Earth magic had been a great help to ease her burdens. And he had managed to improve upon her medicine
>Naomi insisted it was my love that made her illness seem less severe.
>As we hunted I wondered what good my love had done.
>Despite my earlier words, she was now clearly unwell.
>The things her brother said to me came back to haunt me.
>The Mantis had found something.
>Goblin tracks.
>The Kitsuki was already studying them.
>A half dozen, trying to avoid notice.
>They're moving away, and there aren't many.
>The Mantis, or course. Showing just how far from their parent Clan they have fallen.
>"So, why not just let them go."
>I held up the tanto.
>"One little Goblin can do a lot of damage if it sneaks into the right place."
>Mantis shrugs."This is your home; we'll do what you think is best."
>We pursue.
>The goblins are quick, but we manage to overtake them.
>The fight is short, and brutal. Goblins do not fare well in open combat.
>We return to my home, we bathe and Toshiro tosses some salt and purifies us.
>I hold my wife. A bone deep fear like I've never felt before weighing down on my limbs.
>I'm sitting on the walkway, overlooking the garden.
>Naomi is in the room behind me, bundled up under a pile of blankets.
>The door is open because the crisp autumn air helps her to breathe easier.
>Toshiro is there. He has asked the fire Kami to keep her warm. Despite earth being his element, he has an understanding with the fire Kami as well. I know that the kami of fire are excitable and can get easily carried away, but Toshiro handles them well.
>Had it been anyone other than him, I would have insisted on more mundane means of warming her, lest her blankets burst into flame.
>The thought darkens my mood.
>I hear a grunt over my shoulder.
>Toshiro is scowling at me.
>Naomi stirs fitfully.
>It is both a blessing and a curse to have people so close to you they can read your mind.
>I breathe deeply, trying out the meditation techniques Shiba-san taught me before he was recalled by his Clan.
>Something about Yojimbo being Yojimbo, not magistrates.
>Yes, Naomi was no longer a Phoenix. She was a Crab. Therefore, she was no longer Shiba-san's concern.
>I smelled her father's hand at work.
>I said a silent prayer to whatever fortune might be listening that Shiba-san be spared any further malice from that man.
>No, not you dirty Kansen fucks. Shoo.
>I didn't really know if there were any Kansen around. I doubted it, as I'm sure Toshiro had done his best to make my house inhospitable to them.
>But still, better safe than sorry.
>A low rumble reached my ears.
>I looked up. No clouds.
>The Kitsuki came outside.
>"You hear that, Ishigaki-san."
>Toshiro looked up.
>"Must be."
>We walked around the outside of the house until we spotted the dust cloud.
>Ten... no Twelve.
>I had always thought myself observant, but the Kitsuki was on a whole different level. When we first met we were equals. Now I was in awe of the clarity of his vision, so refined by his School.
>They came up to us, horses whipped into a lather.
>One fell from his saddle and bled on my lawn.
>The rest of the group were little better off.
>All bore heavy wounds. Some looked fatal.
>Toshiro looked at them in dismay. I knew his ability with the water kami was very basic.
>Toshiro was a simple shugenja. He destroyed the enemies of our Clan with fire and Jade. He could not help all these wounded Crab.
>The leader slid, almost fell of her horse.
>"Please. my men..."
>I caught her before she could hit the ground.
>It was the Chu-i from before.
>I closed my eyes.
>I knew what I had to do. She would never forgive me for turning these people away, or for offering only bandages and water.
>"Follow me, carry anyone who can't walk."
>I took them to my wife.
>Naomi looked up from where she sat as we came around the corner.
>Her face was flush.
>I sat next to her and placed my forehead to hers.
>The Kitsuki had gathered everyone.
>Wounds that still bleed were dressed, water given.
>Toshiro knelt beside Naomi. He could not save all those Crabs, but he could help ease the burden she was placing on herself.
>The wounded were brought before Naomi. The man who fell first.
>But he was already gone.
>Naomi choked back her tears as she shook her head.
>Of the twelve riders that came, two perished.
>The rest were saved.
>And my wife lost consciousness from the strain.
>I'm beating my fist into my old punching rock.
>I'm doing this because I am furious, and I need an outlet for this rage.
>Ten of my kinsmen, all of them on death's door saved.
>But it may have cost the life of my wife and soon to be born child.
>I am angry at these Crabs that came here.
>I am angry at Toshiro, for not being able to save them himself, or for not being able to help Naomi more.
>I am angry at myself for allowing this.
>I am angry at Naomi because her kind heart would allow no other outcome.
>But some part of me retains enough sense to know that is not fair. Not to any of those people.
>And so I punish myself for my inappropriate anger.
>My friends seem nervous. I have never lost my composure so severely in front of them.
>In fact, most of the times I did "lose face" it was an act to scare someone into being more cooperative.
>This time I am genuinely out of control, and they know it.
>I see Toshiro speak to them. The look a little relieved and go back inside.
>I cannot hear his words. All I can hear is the blood roaring in my ears as my heart pounds.
>I lose my balance as my fist slips off the rock.
>I fall face first in the dirt.
>Toshiro sits down next to me. I can see his clubbed foot.
>"You done now?"
>"I think so."
>"Good. Sit up. Baka."
>I do.
>He takes my bleeding hands and begins to pray.
>The water kami feel different from when Naomi does it.
>She gives a slow, gentle, inexorable feeling of life itself filling you.
>Toshiro's Kami are more like being bent over and having life rammed into you whether you are ready or not. It hurts, even as you are being healed.
>I think it hurts more than I remember, actually.
>My knuckles begin to shift back into place. I really hurt myself.
>Now I'm sure it hurts more than normal.
>He's right. Toshiro is always right.
>"She's going to be okay you know."
>"It's just fatigue."
>I open my mouth. Instead of a protest I hiss as a fresh wave of pain stings my hands.
>"How many prayers to Jurojin do YOU know again?"
>"Stop reading my mind, goddammit."
>Toshiro just makes his half snort half laugh noise.
>The Chu-i approaches us as Toshiro finishes.
>She throws herself down into a dogeza
>She looks up.
>"I should be the one apologizing for that shameful display. I am sorry I showed you such an ugly thing."
>I bow.
>"It's... it's okay. You're worried about your wife."
>"And you were worried about your men."
>"Now. Tell me what did that to them."
>My eyes narrow."I am a Crab. And there is something strong enough to severely wound a Crab patrol very close to my pregnant wife."
>"I cannot allow this."
>"What did you fight?"
>"How many?"
>"Two to one against ogres?"
>Though I did not voice my thought she knows what I am thinking.
>"The had weapons, wore armor. All of them."
>That made sense.
>Ogres are stupid brutes. Mountains of muscle who think only of food, sex and violence. Barely able to speak. Not different from most people's view of Crab.
>But that is not the Ogres natural state. It is a curse from the dark kami. Away from the Shadowlands, their minds can return. They can remember a time when they ruled the world, before man sprang up from the blood of Onnotangu and the tears of Amaterasu.
>An Ogre that is as intelligent as a human, while being stronger, faster and tougher, with real weapons, armor and even a School...
>"We killed two, injured most of the rest. But their leader..."
>"He has a Nodachi. And he knows well how to use it."
>"Please, stay here and guard my wife."
>"With my life."
>I enter into my house to don my armor.
>The others are already dressed and ready.
>I don't even have to ask.
>I bow to thank them.
>"Forget everything you think you know about Ogres. The ones we face now are intelligent. They can set ambushes. They wear armor over their already thick hides and will wield Weapons."
>"We will have to work together, create openings for one another, and defend each other if we are going to win, let alone survive."
>"And we don't have Naomi with us."
>I let all that sink in. Save Toshiro, there was not single one of us who would already be dead if not for her skill at healing magic.
>We headed out.
>The Mantis and the Monkey ranged ahead, scouting.
>The Kitsuki looked uncomfortable. He kept fiddling with the bindings on the armor we had acquired for him.
>I gave his Do a tug. It stayed in place.
>"It's fine, leave it alone."
>I envisioned the battle that was to come.
>The Kitsuki was many things. Warrior was not one them. Yes, his skills had been polished at the rough hands of his master, yes he could anticipate enemies’ attacks. But it would difficult indeed for his blade to reach the Ogres flesh, and even then...
>The Monkey was insane. Like all Toku he took excessive risks, Fortune favors the foolish and the bold, and he was both.
>The Mantis, merchant that he was, was still dependable in a fight. His peasant weapons may not seem like much, But I had seen him cut men in half with well-placed swings.
>Even an Ogre would know it when the Mantis struck them.
>Toshiro continued to thumpdrag along beside me. He was the one I most counted on.
>A plan took shape in my mind.
>The Mantis and Monkey came back, having found sign of the brutes.
>I laid out our rough strategy for this battle.
>Kitsuki will guard Toshiro, who will do as he is wont to do. Monkey, you will set the Ogres up. Sting them, annoy them, get them to drop their guard. Then the Mantis will exploit those openings for all they are worth.
>What are you going to do?
>What I always do. Persevere.
>We tracked them back to a camp site. They had piled up earthen walls around their lair.
>No intention of letting Ogres just move in wherever they please, we made our best effort to creep up on them.
>Sadly we were not Ninjas.
>We separated, the Mantis and Monkey going left, me going right.
>It was as the Chu-i said. There were four Ogres and two of them bore wounds.
>The Monkey dove between the legs of one of the ogres, slashing at the back of his calves.
>Incensed and off balance the Ogre turned to him, but the Monkey was not where the ogre's Dai Tsuchi fell.
>The Mantis struck, both Kama plunging deep into the Ogre's shoulders. It bellowed as it fell.
>Another Ogre charged at Toshiro and Kitsuki-san.
>Kitsuki-san did stand in the thing's path and was knocked aside by the thing's tetsubo.
>But that was all the time Toshiro needed to finish his spell. Two red orbs of pure flame struck the Ogre, engulfing it.
>I faced off with the last ogre.
>He had an Ono.
>I decided it would be best if I could end this quickly, and so I swung my Tetsubo. I was rewarded with two solid cracks, my weapon was ideal for dealing with thick hides and heavy armor alike.
>The ogre was too sturdy however, and I failed to take him off his feet.
>His Ono fell upon me, tearing aside my Sode and biting deeply into me.
>I staggered under the sheer force of the impact, but kept my feet.
>Even as the ogre menacing Toshiro burned, he called forth a blast of pure jade to sear it.
>The Ogre, horribly wounded but still standing, lashed out with his tetsubo.
>He struck Toshiro with full force.
>But Toshiro was a Crab. He staggered back, coughing blood, but straightened.
>The Monkey helped the Kitsuki to his feet as the Mantis fell upon the burning Ogre like a thunderbolt.
>It's attention was fixated on Toshiro.
>At the last second it saw the Mantis and turned. Too late.
>The Mantis leapt into the air and scythed his kama through the creature’s neck.
>It's headless body fell, still burning.
>Sure, finish off all the wounded ones to make yourself look good, you selfish priwwHHUUFFFF
>The sky tumbled and turned about me as I flew
>I landed a good five feet from where I had been standing, blood seeping from my side where the Ogre's ono had torn another great rent in my armor.
>I stood back up facing the thing bearing down on me. I could feel it's bloodlust.
>It came at me again, but this time I warded it away with a defensive swipe of my tetsubo.
>I likely could not take another blow like that, so I put all my effort into keeping myself alive.
>Meanwhile the last ogre, the one with the Nodachi, had stepped up. The Kitsuki, Mantis and Monkey all began to close on him, coming from three sides.
>Toshiro chanted his prayer. I had no idea what he was doing, but given how long it was taking it was bound to be spectacular.
>I realized too late that the leader was intentionally drawing them in closer. I tried to shout a warning.
>With one massive swing of its blade, the ogre struck them all.
>The Mantis hissed in pain.
>The Monkey fell to one knee.
>The Kitsuki hit the ground hard and did not move.
>I warded off another attack. I had my hands full and could not go to help them.
>Toshiro finished his spell. The skin of the ogre leader began to harden, then turn to Jade.
>Toshiro shouted his prayer, beseeching the Kami of Earth to entomb this malignant beast for all time.
>He was now locked in a struggle with it, attempting to crush the Ogre's life-force with pure jade.
>The Ogre I had been fighting with thought to move past me, and put an end to the Shugenja.
>Having none of that, I struck. My first blow smashed the creatures kneecap, as it's leg twisted and it fell, I crushed its skull.
>Then I struck it once more, just to make sure the damn thing was good and dead.
>I limped over to where the others were. The Monkey was quickly tying bandages off on the Kitsuki.
>So Kitsuki-san survived.
>Meanwhile the battle between Toshiro and the Ogre raged.
>I could hear the thing bellowing in fury from with its jade prison, though it's cries sounded further and further away with every passing second.
>Toshiro was sweating heavily. I knew this spell took a heavy toll on its caster, and left them very vulnerable while the fought to subdue the beast.
>But all the other Ogres had fallen. Toshiro was free to focus solely in his magic.
>The Ogre's bellows became chirrups, then whimpers.
>Then... nothing.
>Toshiro leaned forward heavily, both hands on his knees.
>"It's done."
>We finished patching up Kitsuki-san and even got him awake.
>The blow must have scrambled his brains a bit, because he kept blinking as though he couldn't bring anything into focus.
>Battered, beaten but Triumphant we set off back for the house.
>We returned to screams.
>Heart in my throat I raced through the front door and into my house.
>I forgot to open the door.
>I was greeted by nine terrified but hopeful faces.
>They looked to my wife's bedroom.
>I ran in.
>I forgot to open the door again.
>The Chu-i looked up at me.
>"Thank the Fortunes you're back in time! Quick, get the futon... no wait, did the Shugenja make it back with you?! We need him! "
>I dropped to my knees and took her outstretched hand in mind.
>"It HURTS, Ishigaki! "
>"What the hell is going on?!?! "
>The chu-i smacked me.
>I stare at her.
>"Calm down, it's not what you think."
>"Her water broke, that's all."
>"...THAT'S ALL?!?! "
>He thumpdragged in just as fast as he could thumpdrag.
>"Oh. Ah. I see."
>Toshiro began giving orders.
>People were stripped out of blood stained armor and clothing.
>No time for a proper bath.
>Buckets of cold water dumped over our heads.
>Streamers on the end of a bamboo stick.
>More salt.
>We were rushed into clean clothing, our bloody armor set outside lest the blood bring bad karma.
>And I found myself wandering around my house, a futon balled up and jammed under my kimono, bellowing in time with my wife.
>A woman giving birth is extremely vulnerable to a spiritual attack, and a newborn child even more so.
>So it was the duty of the husband to wander about, faking being a pregnant woman, to confuse the evil spirits and safeguard his wife and child.
>Every cry from Naomi sent my heart into my throat.
>Every muffled snigger sent a twitch through my right eyebrow.
>Clutching my futonbaby to keep it from falling out, I moaned with great sincerity.
>The Mantis assured me that when I blush with embarrassment I'm even cuter than Naomi.
>I didn't kill him.
>I remain proud of the restraint I showed, to this very day.
>At last there was silence.
>Then a cry.
>Not my wife.
>My child.
>"Yes Ishigaki you can stop doing that and come in."
>Naomi had deep bags under her eyes. Her hair was matted to her head with sweat. And she was radiant.
>And there, in Toshiro's arms. was an ugly bawling pink blob.
>It was the most beautiful ugly bawling pink blob I'd ever seen.
>"Want to hold your daughter?"
>I flopped down on the floor next to Naomi, and held her as Toshiro handed me my daughter.
>Laughter I couldn't stop kept pouring out of me.
>They were safe. They were both safe, and whole.
>I felt so much tension I hadn't even realized I was holding on to drain out of me, and I'm glad I was already sitting down.
>Naomi began to squirm under her blanket.
>"Ishigaki-kun, help me sit up?"
>I scooped her up with one hand.
>Then cradled my family in my massive arms.
>Our daughter quieted down as she looked at up at us with giant eyes.
>Just like her mother's.
>"Let's hope she gets your looks, Naomi."
>"Hmmm. that may be for the best."
>"She needs a name."
>She does.
>"Well, how about we nudge her along to taking after you with it?"
>"Oh? You have something in mind."
>Naomi blinked. Then blushed.
>"Hai. Daiko."
>Welcome to your home, Hida Daiko.
submitted by BlueThief to l5r [link] [comments]

2023.04.17 12:14 InfernoAA Fight Club First Rule: Kill The Business

Fight Club First Rule: Kill The Business

We are running the house. We are the animals. We understand the ways of the slaughter and of the feast.

Blackpool Combat Club is quite possibly among the greatest collection of talents to gather under a singular umbrella, a perfect cocktail of the last two decades of wrestling. Combining the brazen ultraviolence of Jon Moxley, the sublime technical genius of Bryan Danielson, the Herculean strength and stamina of Claudio Castagnoli, and the modernised indie-meets-pillar stylings of Wheeler YUTA, they compliment each other in every way possible. A recent bloodthirsty streak has above all made them some of the most compelling wrestlers on AEW’s deep talent pool, and they’ll only grow more enthralling as they find themselves at odds with the company’s flagbearers, The Elite…

Rampage (4/7/23) - Wheeler YUTA vs Kenny Omega
It’s been a rough couple weeks for The Wayward Son. When he should be sitting atop the world, IWGP United States Championship blessing his waist, instead he has to deal with the news of his family being torn to shreds by a pack of ravenous jackals. The Young Bucks are in hospital, Don Callis is presumably concussed with a bloody cranium, Hangman Page still wants nothing to do with his old brotherhood, Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa are severely incompetent… who’s left? It’s just Kenny Omega, ironically the Last Cowboy of his side, left to fight the tough fight against the Blackpool Combat Club. Quick to voice his opinion on Bryan Danielson’s return, he makes it clear that whilst he’s not shocked at The American Dragon’s turncoat behaviour, he is pissed the presumed greatest wrestler of their generation resorted to being a spineless coward rather than let his God-given talents speak for themselves. But it’s fine. For the most part, he has the Club’s number. He’s reduced Moxley to a puppy shivering in the rain at the sight of an (albeit faulty) explosive ring, he’s punted Claudio’s shiny head for a field goal 15 years ago in ROH, and he’s proven Danielson is no longer his superior when 30 minutes are put on the clock. He’s The Cleaner damn it, none can silence him. And he’s going to pick them off again, one by one.
Enter Elmer’s half-brother, Wheeler YUTA. A mixture of anger, humiliation, and bloodlust, the prodigy cannot fathom the idea of being overlooked by his senior. Kenny mentioned his peers but not him? Bollocks. He was already embarrassed by Katsuyori Shibata a week ago, his title departing with his pride – he can’t let this opportunity slide too. Getting in Kenny’s face, he tells him whatever score he has to settle with Danielson can wait. He wants the first taste of Omega. Kenny, however, urges him to go home before he gets seriously hurt, Wheeler not built for this war. But that’s all it takes for Lil Jimmy to snap, decking Omega with the screwdriver! As he beats the tar out of Kenny with wild fists, it's clear that Omega has no friends to help him, a Gotch-Style Piledriver onto his title sending a clear message to Kenneth.
Athletic tape lining his reaggravated shoulder and neck region, Omega strides into Rampage with one purpose in mind – terminate YUTA. Wheeler is a malicious twerp, wasting no time to stretch out the rotator cuff muscles, making Kenny squirm for the ropes to keep the rodent away from him. But this isn’t pure rules. YUTA has no reason to play it fair anymore. A LeBell Lock attempt sees him tell the referee he has till 5 when Omega scrabbles for a break, giving him no time to recover as he stomps in the neck Danielson-style. Getting too caught up in his cosplaying, a Shoot Kick flurry ends in him being stiffed by a V-Trigger as he swings for the Roundhouse Kick, Omega proceeding to batter the ever-loving Hell out of the younger star. Slaps, knees, suplexes, the likes leave YUTA dazed and confused, starting to resemble his Shibata match as Wheeler realises he may have strayed too far out his depth again. Still, delusions motivate him to keep swinging, though another V-Trigger smashes his neck in, Kenny finishing him off with Croyt’s Wrath to emasculate the Young Gun. Collecting his title, Omega mouths into the camera for Bryan to get ready because he’s next.
Dynamite (4/12/23) - Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega © for the IWGP United States Championship
No build is needed for this one. It’s the GOAT vs the Best Bout Machine. Their issues with each other have been well documented from the moment Bryan set foot in AEW back at ALL OUT 2021 and haven’t lost steam ever since. A draw at Grand Slam left them fiending for another round, and now they finally get it. Kenny looks a little worse for wear only days removed from his war with YUTA, whilst Bryan’s as rested as can be, the scars of Revolution long faded away. Unlike their first match, there’s little playing games to stall and a lot more hate-filled fighting, Danielson and Omega spending the entire first two minutes punching and kicking the snot out of each other until Bryan finally strategically retreats to the outside, evading an oncoming V-Trigger. A Rise of the Terminator is cut short by a leg trip, Bryan yanking Omega out the ring by his ankle and immediately sending him shoulder-first into the barricade, taking no chances to let Kenny recover. A knock-down, drag-out brawl outside the ring sees Danielson channel some ROH energy, going for his iconic Springboard Plancha into the crowd, but Omega holds up a chair in time, Bryan whacking into it!
Bleeding from the skull like Callis did, Danielson’s tossed in the ring for Omega to work the cut, a V-Trigger tearing it open further and a Dragon Suplex over-rotating Bryan onto his forehead! A frantic scoop into One Winged Angel position is answered by cruel elbows raining down hard on the neck, Kenny crumbling under Bryan’s hellfire and brimstone as the American Dragon displays a much more effective version of YUTA’s strategy. Tearing the tape off, he’s cold and calculated in his dissection of the champion, almost reminiscent of the unholy beating Kenny himself gave Will Ospreay to win the title, Danielson fighting through blood loss to murder a Wrestling God. Grip too slick from leaking crimson, Bryan’s unable to latch on a match-winning LeBell Lock, prompting him to try for Cattle Mutilation instead, but the blood in his eyes proves once more a roadblock. Kenny’s on dream street, though he tries his best to stick it out, his body however refusing, luckily collapsing under a Busaiku Knee Kick. So absorbed in his fire-breathing rage, time again becomes Bryan’s downfall, being cut short mid-massacre of Kenny with a spiteful Kamigoye as the bell sounds with Omega collapsed at his feet, 30 minutes expiring. Unhinged, Bryan dribbles Omega’s skull off the mat with his boot in frustration, a conclusive ending once more eluding them, but as Claudio appears to calm Danielson down, only to drop Omega with his own European Uppercut, it’s clear Kenny still has a long way to go.
Dynamite (4/19/23) - Claudio Castagnoli vs Kenny Omega
Coming off his humiliation of young Wheeler Yuta and his pure survival against Danielson, the Cleaner next goes up against the BCC's enforcer and it's baldest fucker: Claudio Castagnoli. Kenny sighs as he enters the ring for his latest trial, stances up. At least it's not the Dragon again. At least this is a challenge he knows he can overcome. The bell rings and Kenny flies out of the ring, shellshocked; toppling the ropes and hitting the ground hard. What? Claudio stays on him with bludgeoning blows, arms swinging him into the air, smashing him into the side of the post from five feet up. Kenny tries to get a grip, dodges out of the way of Swiss' giant biceps. A bruise is swelling around his brow. Claudio picks him up like a baby and he only narrowly slides away, retreating to the corner. Clearly, this is not a fight he can win head on.
Kenny plays the possum, waits for the time to strike. Claudio, pure strength, barrels blindly at him, grasps at him with freakish reach. One more successful volley on Castagnoli's part could end things. You have to be careful, Kenny. He pulls in the arm, tries to bend it back. No dice, Claudio escapes. Kenny slaps his skulls, curses beneath his breath. Slides forward for the leg but Claudio leaps over, catches him with a mule kick. Lifts him, Super Powerbomb! One… Two… Kenny kicks away. He's getting impatient now, sweating way too much. He dives again. Misses. Misses. Fuck it, V-Trigger- No, Claudio catches the knee, flips Kenny onto his skull! That's a concussion. Cleaner tries to stand, but is caught with an uppercut! Smashed into the corner, sending out a desperation roundhouse as he does. Leg dislocates a bit as Claudio dodges and laughs, picking Kenny up again and nailing him with a Snap DDT, an elbow drop directly onto the neck, and a Ricola Bomb! Kenny goes down with the one… Two… Three and Claudio succeeds in putting down Omega where his protege in Yuta failed! Humbling.
Dynamite (4/26/23) - Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega © for the IWGP United States Championship
Yuta down. Danielson at bay. Claudio… Better left unsaid. It's been a rough month for Kenny but now, at last, the onslaught is coming to an end. One last match- this time against the BCC's de facto leader and the infamous Death Rider known to all across the wrestling landscape as Jon Moxley. Kenny has never beaten the bloodhound clean before, but he promises to close this gauntlet out by pinning Mox without stipulation and proving himself the BCC's better once and for all; even going so far as to make his returning confidant, a bandaged Don Callis sporting his own grudge against the BCC, promise not to get involved or interfere under any circumstances. If Kenny wants to save The Elite and survive this, he's going to have to take on this one last challenge alone. He's tired, he's nearly dead. Open the final curtain and let's put on a show.
You came for a brawl, didn't you? If so, that's exactly what you're going to get. Mox wastes no time driving Omega's skull into the mat, grounding and pounding with no remorse. He can see Kota's uglier half is already dazed following the showdown with the Swissman and does his best to exploit it to the best of his ability. Mox is a veteran, a genius in the ring despite his blunt and grizzled exterior. He knows he can't let Kenny get going. He knows the only way to end this is quick and hard. He punctures the armor with backdrops and side slams galore, easily ducks a shitty little Hadouken and drops his opponent on his neck with the nastiest Flying Lariat you've ever seen. His mouth foams as he stands, pulls his weakened enemy up by the scruff of his neck. DIE- Moxley's eyes scream- DIE DIE DIE. He's rabid. He's an animal. And he's had enough of this whitebread Northern nerd. He lifts him up for the last laugh, the Paradigm Shift!!! A moment's hesitation- A hint of weakness in the heart of Mox- all Kenny needs. Best Bout Machine clears Mox's head, lands against the ropes and rolls cleanly off straight into an impossibly perfect Step-Up Enzuigiri. Mox keels and tries for a desperate Bulldog, falls to the ground alone as Omega pulls atop him and tosses him overhead with a Snap Release Dragon. From ringside, Callis cheers. As Mox bounces off the mat over and over and over, as Kenny's momentum builds steadily, as he forgets his wounds and his aches and his lost friends and his lost love, The Cleaner allows himself a single smile. Best in the world. Best in the goddamn fuckin' world.
Finally, he's overcome Mox. It's his to lose now. The Death Rider attacks blindly, like a stupid boar. Blinded by rage, easy to lure in. Kenny trips him up, lands a boot to the skull. Leapfrogs into a Fisherman Buster. As Mox tumbles up Ken goes for that classic Tony Jaa Dropkick, wraps one of his greatest white whales up into a move that has historically proven Jonathan Good's doom time and time again- A STYLES CLASH! Moxley struggles as Kenny pulls him uptight, the bloodlust replaced with panic, anything but this! Kenny gets in position, drops onto his stomach, and- MOX MANAGES TO FREE A FOOT JUST IN TIME AND TRANSITION INTO A REVERSE-BRAINBUSTER, ROLLING KENNY CLEAN INTO A BUCKLE BOMB AND A DISCUS LARIAT! FALLING INTO THE PIN FOR ONE! TWO! TH- KENNY KICKS! Mox grunts in frustration, hits the rope and turns straight into a V-Trigger! Both men fall back against the ropes, exhausted, preparing for the final seconds of their conflict. Kenny lets out a guttural cry and raises the banners of war, summoning all that is left in him to put this feral dog down once! And! For! All! The two rush forth, and then Mox is on top of Kenny, pinning him again. One! Two! Before Kenny can kick out, the ref has been pulled from the ring by one Don Callis, who can only offer Kenny the cheapest of shrugs. Mox rushes to attack Callis again, but Kenny catches him before he can with a hard running Knee to the back of the head, catching him as he falls with a roll-up and a One! Two! Three! Kenny Omega has completed the final feat of his quest, avenged himself after his embarrassment against Claudio. But it's not what he thought it would be. It's not what he wanted.
Callis hops into the ring beside him to celebrate. Kenny is nothing. Just empty. Alone in the world with this wretched old man. The Bald Freak tries to hug him, and shockingly, Kenny pushes him away. Holds him at bay. Stares up at Callis with a steely glare that says simply: We're done. And the little man whimpers, and pleads. But it's too little, too late. Enraged, Moxley stands and readies himself to kill. The rest of the BCC circle the ring, craving the thrill of the hunt. And Callis grasps, at Kenny's arm in desperation. Please Ken, I'm like a father, like your own father, please don't let them take me. I'm sorry, I just tried to do what was best, I don't want to die. Kenny pushes him away, leaving him sprawled out against the mat. Walks to the back well and truly alone, leaving Callis to nothing but the quickly approaching wolves. [SOME GROSS SHIT HAPPENS MOMENTS AFTER THIS PARAGRAPH]
Dynamite (5/10/23) - Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega © for the IWGP United States Championship
That last one took a lot out of Omega. Four straight weeks of running the gauntlet against a murderer’s row of sadists, yet he’s somehow still standing. Maybe not for long though. Neither he nor Bryan have forgotten how their last two matches have ended. And no matter how much he wishes to outrun the Dragon, you can’t escape someone with a full set of wings. Kenny’s other half is still with Kota Ibushi, wherever the hell he may be. If it’s up to Bryan, he’ll take the only one Omega has left and leave him with absolutely nothing to fall back on. After taking a week off to let all the turbulence that’s overtaken his life the past month to settle down a bit, Kenny aims the proverbial finger gun at Danielson’s skull, chasing him out the building on Rampage after he’s done moulding Cutler into a new ring. Omega declares that he’s made it this far without anyone, and so, on Dynamite, he’ll do it one more time and end Bryan for good. No time-limits, no interference, nothing. He wants Danielson and Danielson alone to beat the sins out of. Bryan’s more than happy to accept. This is the final frontier. This is Danielson vs Omega III.
Hatred would be an understatement at this point as Bryan and Kenny stare daggers into each other, gaze unbroken by the referee raising high Omega’s title, both ready to burst out the gates again… THE BELL SOUNDS AND KENNY FLIES FOR A V-TRIGGER! Bryan sidesteps, letting Omega catch himself against the turnbuckles, Danielson instantly walloping him with Shoot Kicks to the exposed shoulder! Bryan winds up the Running Corner Dropkick but Kenny evades this time, cracking a few heavy-handed Knife-Edge Chops against Bryan’s pasty chest, before kicking out his legs and nailing a HESITATION DROPKICK! Danielson falls on the retreat to the outside, staggered, but Kenny doesn’t let up, NAILING A RISE OF THE TERMINATOR!!! Chucking Bryan inside, Omega scales the ropes, thinking about a Missile Dropkick to Danielson’s famously equally vulnerable neck, but the American Dragon dodges, Omega splattering onto the mat. And Bryan goes right for the arm, trying to lock in the LEBELL LOCK! Kenny kicks and screams, managing to turn over before any substantial damage could be done, launching Danielson into the ropes with his powerful legs! BUT BRYAN REBOUNDS OFF WITH A STIFF PENALTY KICK!
Air driven out of Kenny’s body, he coughs up a lung, rolling on the mat in agony as Danielson sneers over him. Stepping on Omega’s ankle as he tries to crawl away, Bryan traps him, proceeding to step on the insides of Kenny’s knees and lock him in a ROMERO STRETCH! Pulling back all the way to combo a Dragon Sleeper, all the torque is on Kenny’s sternocleidomastoid, any head movements made that much more painful from the Dragon’s bite. As Omega fights back with flailing hammer fists however, Bryan lets go and stomps the knees instead, before crushing his skull with a sickening ROUNDHOUSE KICK! Clutching the wrist, he teases the head stomps, but Kenny rolls through and scores a Dropkick to the mush, a KOTARO KRUSHER catching Danielson by surprise! AND NOW OMEGA GRABS THE WRISTS! KENNY STOMPS DANIELSON’S HEAD INTO THE CANVAS OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!! Treated to a taste of his own medicine, Bryan desperately searches for the ropes, Kenny stiffing the back of his head with slaps as Danielson attempts to escape him, keeping up the assault even as Bryan gets the rope break, telling the referee he has till 5!
Quietly creeping away at 4 as Danielson braces himself for more shots, the moment the referee is done checking up on Bryan in comes a V-TRIGGER SNAPPING BRYAN’S NECK AGAINST THE ROPES!!! Yanking him off them, Omega lines up a SNAP DRAGON SUPLEX, but Danielson lands on his feet, cracking a Discus Elbow Smash against the hurt neck, Kenny about to return a fist on instinct only to pause as a stinger shoots down his arm. Capitalising Danielson goes for a GERMAN SUPLEX, but Omega’s cat-like reflexes save him, going for another V-Trigger as he lands! Bryan has this one scouted, STANDING KENNY UP WITH A POISONED FRANKENSTEINER! Omega dazed and sick look in Bryan’s eyes… HE DOES MARTY SCURLL’S BIRD TAUNT AND LOCKS IN THE CHICKENWING CROSSFACE! PoS move from a PoS, last time it was stealing from Ibushi, now from another man that was once close to Kenny, further reminding him how isolated he is from them all. Kenny trudges towards the ropes but Bryan doesn’t let him get far, instead snapping him back with a CHICKENWING SUPLEX, all his weight dumped on the bad shoulder!
As Kenny hurtles to the outside, Danielson winds up a Baseball Slide Dropkick to the vulnerable neck… BUT OMEGA CATCHES HIM ON HIS SHOULDERS! HE WANTS THE ONE-WINGED ANGEL ON THE FLOOR!!! Bryan tries to whip around into a Hurricanrana but Omega stops him with his freakish strength, hoisting him back up all the way over his shoulders and onto his back… DEADEYE ON THE FLOOR!!! SHADES OF HANGMAN PAGE!!! As Danielson lays dead on the ground, Kenny weakly crawls away and over to the cameraman, a look of longing in his eyes for his old partner, silently hoping he’s watching somewhere. Turning back around to Bryan, he grabs his dead weight by a fistful of hair and sends him inside, where he cracks him with a STANDING V-TRIGGER!!! ONE! TWO! THR-KICK OUT!!! Slumping onto Danielson in frustration and exhaustion, Kenny shakes his head, refusing to yield. Looking at the ropes, he determinedly lugs Bryan onto his shoulders and goes for You Can’t Escape, though as he goes for the Rolling Somersault Senton, DANIELSON COUNTERS WITH A CRUCIFIX PIN!!! ONE! TWO! THR-NOOOOO!!! RIGHT INTO THE CRUCIFIX ELBOWS TO THE NECK!!!
Omega’s losing lifeforce with each pointed blow, quite possibly looking to be his end and Bryan seamlessly transitions into the CATTLE MUTILATION!!! All the pressure on the region that’s taken the most abuse this past month for Kenny, he’s in serious trouble, the crowd unsure of how much more he can take. Glazed over look in his eyes and foam collecting around his mouth, he looks to be out as the referee pleads with him to give a response, when a sudden burst of energy lets him reposition himself to get a foot on the rope! Danielson curses up a storm as Kenny gets the break, Bryan forced to back away by the referee to let Omega recover, though growing impatient, he shoves the referee out the way and goes back on Kenny, cracking Shoot Kick after Shoot Kick against his welted chest as he leans lifeless against the ropes! The ref throws a fit, threatening to disqualify Danielson, but a look in Omega’s eyes pleading ‘no’ has them gritting their teeth, Kenny needing a decisive ending this time. Reprimanding Bryan instead that action will be taken if he oversteps again, Danielson shrugs and refocuses on Kenny… WHO’S IN PERFECT POSITION FOR A V-TRIGGER FROM BRYAN!!!
Danielson licks his chops and races at Omega… KENNY HEAVES HIM OVER THE ROPES, DANIELSON CRASHING HARD ONTO THE STEEL RAMP!!! Omega realises the position Bryan’s in and, oh God, he has that look in his eyes again. Just like Grand Slam, as he struggles to his feet, he walks the length of the ramp, thinking about the Ultimate V-Trigger to ragdoll Danielson with… AND HE CHARGES! BUT DANIELSON SCOUTS IT THIS TIME, CATCHING HIM WITH ONE OF HIS OWN!!! AND A REGAL-PLEX ONTO THE STEEL RAMP!!! Shoot shoot shoot. Danielson throws Kenny back in, and right as he thinks to join him… he gets an even better idea. Looking left and right with a smarmy grin, he grabs the ropes with both hands, lying in waiting for Omega to find his feet… HE WANTS THE BUCKSHOT LARIAT!!! Kenny has no clue, eventually stumbling upright, DANIELSON FLIPPING OVER- V-TRIGGER FROM OMEGA!!! BRYAN LET HIM RECOVER TOO LONG!!! DR. WILY BOMB!!! ONE! TWO! THR-NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Kenny’s running short on options but he has to act fast, getting Bryan in a Fireman’s Carry again to set up the You Can’t Escape, nailing the Slam this time before hopping to the top, but he hesitates on the Moonsault… INSTEAD BLOWING A KISS TO THE CAMERA AND NAILING A PHOENIX SPLASH!!! ONE! TWO! THR-STILL NO DICE!!! Fighting through the agony, Omega gets Danielson on his knees, going for another Hail Mary with the KAMIGOYE!!! Bryan dead to rights, Kenny gets him in the Electric Chair, but Danielson simply flops back down to the canvas, unable to even stay upright – a reverse of their last encounter. Kenny frustrated, he slaps Danielson upside the head a couple times, before picking him right back up, trying again… BUT BRYAN FLIPS THROUGH THIS TIME, REBOUNDING THE CORNER TO NAIL A BUSAIKU KNEE KICK!!! ONE! TWO! THR-KENNY SURVIVES!!! And Danielson doesn’t waste even a second, stomping Kenny’s neck and shoulder into the canvas, before cinching in the LEBELL LOCK!!! He has Omega exactly where he wants him, Kenny too far gone at this point to make the ropes! Yet as Danielson continues to wrench back, Omega, somehow, someway, HAULS BRYAN UP ONTO HIS SHOULDERS WITH SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH!!! HE’S GOING FOR THE ONE-WINGED ANGEL!!! …But Bryan destroys his neck with more elbows, causing Kenny to lose his grip and collapse back down, WHERE DANIELSON REAPPLIES THE LEBELL LOCK!!! OMEGA PASSES OUT!!! BRYAN DANIELSON IS THE NEW IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPION!!!
Silence. The world stands still. Despite Kenny’s best efforts, he’s failed to keep BCC at bay. A Cheshire cat grin fills Danielson’s face as he’s handed Omega’s once title. Soon after, Moxley, Claudio, and YUTA spill out from the locker room. This is a big night for the lads. Joining Bryan in the ring, they each take turns congratulating the American Dragon on his first title since leaving WWE. Holding it high, nothing can ruin this moment as the fearsome foursome stand over Kenny’s body… Unless. IT’S THE YOUNG BUCKS!!! BCC’s jaws hang in shock as they stare at the entranceway, not expecting the brothers to be here tonight… though no one seems to be coming out. WAIT A MINUTE! STEEL CHAIR TO MOXLEY’S BACK! AND ONE TO CLAUDIO’S! YUTA turns around and eats a DOUBLE SUPERKICK! ONE FOR DANIELSON TOO! This may not be the Shield’s breakup regardless of how Mox is taking that chair, but it’s perhaps even better as The Boys are back in town! Putting an arm of Kenny’s each over their shoulders, Matt and Nick Jackson carry their best friend to safety, knowing their ambush will only momentarily stun BCC, still lacking the numbers to put up a proper fight, yet doing their job all the same. BCC beware, The Elite is home.
ROH on HonorClub (5/11/23) - Claudio Castagnoli © vs “Hangman” Adam Page for the ROH World Championship
The war is on now. Raging, roaring, consuming everything that comes into contact with it. The Elite vs. The BCC, the conflict to end all conflicts. Week after week an endless, raring battle between giants seeking to stake their claim to the throne. But ignore that for a brief moment, go now with us to a foreign front where the Swiss fight alone against the last vestige of the great American West. Adam Page, successfully amputated from the Elite and coming off the lynching of Jon Moxley, has arrived in Ring of Honor to cross yet another member of the Combat Club off his list permanently. Happy for the opportunity to avenge his brother and not one to back down from a fight anyhow, the face of Honor accepts swiftly, and the two find their monumental world title showdown taking place only weeks after Page's homecoming.
Cracker barrel! Adam and the Swede have a real slobberknocker here as they play knock-out in real life with their big, sweaty biceps. Claudio showcases the same confidence here that scored him the victory against Page's former tag partner weeks earlier, looking every bit the distinguished champion and routing every attempt Page makes with ease. Cowboy Millennial is faltering here, getting anxious like Kenny before him. His eyes are bloodshot and bulging out of his skull. His hair is suddenly days unwashed. He looks crazy as fuck and can't seem to end things, even after executing one of the cleanest Buckshots you've ever seen. Page swings around, crazed, knocks into the ref and and hesitates as the official swivels away in pain. Gives Claudio time to come in from behind with the UFO! Page escapes and tries for a Discus, but no! KILLER HEADBUTT STOPS HIM IN HIS TRACKS! RICOLA BOMB! ONE-TWO-THREE! CLAUDIO HAS RETAINED THE ROH CHAMPIONSHIP IN DOMINANT FASHION!
After the match the BCC get up to their typical bullshit, circling the ring, getting ready to gang rape the Adam Page. He meets them like a warrior, ushering them forth even in the face of certain death. Suddenly- from the back! The Bucks, Omega here helping their former partner fend off the whole of the feral BCC! For the first time in years, on ROH tv, the Elite is fighting together again- their might finally enough to equal Mox, Danielson, Claudio, and the other one! The show goes off air with the lines drawn in the sand and the two factions facing off. Moneyshot.
Double or Nothing (5/28/23) - Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler YUTA) vs The Elite (Kenny Omega, “Hangman” Adam Page, The Young Bucks) - Blood & Guts
The board is set. The pieces are in place. On one side we got the evil guys. The heel guys. The bad guys. Wheeler Yuta is my real life friend, and he's a nasty fucker. His three dads are evil psycho midget Bryan Danielson, big dumb guy god Claudio, and MOX. On the other side we got the Elite, still fostering an extremely tenuous partnership with an Adam Page who is understandably suspicious of their whole deal and who is not fucking with their Wayward Son circlejerk. Still, common enemies and all that. It's time to fight. It's time to blow things off big time. It's time for a war game. Yuta starts the match opposite a Jackson, eager to showcase his developing skill against an industry pro and prove himself worthy of such a star-studded match. Surprisingly enough, after months of disappointment Wheeler finally shows up big time here, mountains of pent up rage releasing as he beats the everloving shit out of the tag boy and fully comes into his own in a brutal display. He's tired of being disregarded, and tonight is going to be his coming out party.
Next in, Mox. Tamp down on the heel shit. The master and apprentice, the two closest members of the BCC, team up together on the poor little Buck and basically take him clean out of the match altogether. With Jackson #1 (Let's say Matt) down, Adam Page is forced to enter the cage completely alone and with the odds heavily stacked against him in a 2-on-1 matchup. This is so fucked up dude. Still he buckshots. He perseveres, just narrowly levelling both guys in time for BCC's #3, Claudio, to arrive on the scene. Now it's truly hopeless. Page gets fucking murdered in the exact same way Matt did, barely clings onto life as the three members of the BCC bring out weapon after weapon to torture him with, take turns hitting the nastiest moves they could possibly fucking think of. He screams. Tears roll down his eyes. Still, blinded by blood and with the vomit and bile rising from his throat, the Cowboy fights back. He rages against the tide. The other Jackson, Nick, is out next to even the odds- using his skills to drive the BCC numbers back and bringing weapons into the fray with prejudice. They hurt his youngeolder brother and now he's mad. Finalists, Danielson and Omega, destined to be ever intertwined.
BCC's got the advantage in both skill and strength, but the Elite have the moral high ground and use it to quickly dispatch of Yuta, of Mox. Big Meltzer Driver to Claudio. Things are going the Elite's way! Finally! They're easy on the path to the victory when the slightest miscommunication between Page and Omega, who have stayed separate the entire match, leads to a V-Trigger to the face of the Hangman and a pitiful breakdown. The BCC, ever-experienced, strike swiftly. Cut the Elite at the throats. Matt's already out and Claudio throws him clean through the cage walls. Bryan chokes the other Buck out with a light tube. Mox stomps Hangman's head repeatedly into exposed board. Triple Regal-Plex from Yuta to Omega ends the match, and the Blackpool Combat Club have crushed the Elite once and for all! Yuta is hefted onto the shoulders of his elders as the group celebrates, the newly christened rulers of wrestling.

Forbidden Door (6/25/23) - Wheeler YUTA vs El Desperado © vs KUSHIDA vs Rocky Romero for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
With The Elite officially behind them, AEW becomes BCC Country coming out of Double or Nothing. That being said, the quartet aren’t just satisfied having AEW and ROH under their control. They want NJPW too. Winning the IWGP US Championship was merely the beginning for them, according to YUTA. He has plans to follow in his mentor’s footsteps and take them to the next level. And the best way to achieve that is by targeting the man atop his weight class – El Desperado. After finally winning the Best of the Super Juniors tournament for the first time in his career, Strong Style’s masked marauder dethroned career rival Hiromu Takahashi at Dominion for his title, solidifying his spot as the new Ace of the Junior Heavyweight Division. That especially piques Wheeler’s interest, having come up short in last year’s BOSJ against Desperado, who went on to take the block, YUTA faltering only 2 points behind him. Having grown much since, he feels entitled to a rematch, proceeding to assault Desperado on Rampage after he beats AR Fox in an exhibition match, giving him the same treatment he did Omega with a Gotch-Style Piledriver onto his title!
He's not the only one wanting Despy though, KUSHIDA owed a shot given his victory over the champion in this year’s BOSJ, and Rocky Romero owning a winning record against him dating back to Desperado’s early days as a wrestler in NJPW since 2010. Unfortunately for Wheeler, if he wants the title that bad, he’ll need to run through everyone at once. Chip on his shoulder the size of mountains, Wheeler’s sole objective is to beat the living daylights out of everyone in that ring, but as he’s about to head out, a certain presence he hasn’t felt in over a year changes that, Wheeler freezing up. It’s Best Friends. Catching them in the corner of his vision, they’re busy giving their CHAOS stablemate Rocky a pep talk, and that’s enough to make the memories flood back. That used to be him receiving that special treatment. He was Chuck Taylor’s protégé. No, he can’t be feeling jealousy. He’s better than them now. He just won Blood & Guts. He- he’s going to make Rocky pay.
What starts as Wheeler trying to satisfy his ego by bringing gold back to BCC turns into a horrific massacre of Romero, YUTA dedicating the match to utterly destroying him. Best Friends come out to try and stop him, Trent Beretta wailing over his bloodied and broken friend’s carcass, Chuck pleading with Wheeler aghast, failing to recognise the kid he once trained, Orange Cassidy silently watching the whole shebang. Before long, the match is over, Desperado avenging his loss to KUSHIDA, whilst Romero is stretchered out the arena as YUTA shoulders past Taylor, refusing to explain himself nor make eye contact, simply walking to the back…
Claudio Castagnoli vs Katsuyori Shibata
Another day, another idol to destroy. Now, at Forbidden Door, Claudio goes toe-to-toe with the man he faced off with months ago at the ending of Supercard of Honor and quite possibly the baddest wrestler on the entire planet in Katsuyori Shibata. Claudio, being the pretentious dogfucker that he is, opens the bout with a headbutt attempt- only for Shibata to duck and humble him with a series of kicks, of slaps, A PK, AND A EUROPEAN UPPERCUT INTO THE PIN! ONE-TWO-THRE- CLAUDIO NARROWLY KICKS OUT! MERE MOMENTS INTO THE MATCH, AND CASTAGNOLI HAS BEEN MADE A FOOL! The battle rages on, Claudio retreating to the defensive as The Wrestler continues to rain down on him. He's not a man, more a force of nature. His legs tumble like the quaking earth, his arms are swirling hurricanes that break the sky, and his eyes? His eyes are the storm. His chops break open the stitchings of Claudio's skin and crack like thunder.
Claudio covers up, counters with a high knee and immediately regrets the challenge. Two moments later, Japanese meets Finnish nose and blood is spraying across the mat. Shibata is moments away from the win, when suddenly the hinges of the Forbidden Door begin to squeal one more time. The speakers play loud, Shibata looks up shocked, and AT THE TOP OF THE RAMP STANDS CHRIS HERO! The distraction is momentary, but allows just enough time for Claudio to fully connect with a headbutt now, this time to riotous boos! RICOLA BOMB! ALPAMARE WATERSLIDE! AND JUST LIKE THAT, ANOTHER JAPANESE PILLAR HAS BEEN CRUSHED! Hero joins Claudio in the ring to celebrate and laugh at his fallen opponent, unzipping his jacket to reveal the all-too-familiar emblem of the Blackpool Combat Club beneath. The Kings of Wrestling are finally back together again, now under the ever-watchful regime of the BCC! Cry, rejoice.
Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson & Jon Moxley) vs The Dream Team (Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi)
Taking down Kenny Omega not once but twice is quite the ego boost for Danielson and co., Bryan declaring that even the man that was once considered NJPW’s greatest has now fallen at their feet. And it feels damn good to know that because for so long people told him he was missing out on the best wrestlers by not going to NJPW, when he’s proven the reality is he’s better than all their idols combined. There’s not a man in that company that can hold a candle to BCC- coin drop. The IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, who reclaimed his precious in Dominion’s main event, is here! Bryan looks taken aback almost, but stands his ground as a cocky Okada gets in his face, as if to remind him a God still walks the Earth. A dream confrontation for the ages, it’d be a shame if someone were to ruin this perfect moment… Jon Moxley sneaks into the ring behind Okada, eyeing him down with malicious intent! As the crowd buzzes, Okada realises something is wrong, though remains absolutely calm, having prepared for this moment… GO ACE! HIROSHI TANAHASHI HAS ARRIVED!!!
Suddenly, BCC isn’t so tough anymore. Okada smirks as the Musketeer joins the party, standing side-by-side his recent tag partner, whilst Mox assumes his position beside Bryan. It’s two of AEW’s best staring down two of NJPW’s best! Unfinished business between Jon and Hiroshi, and a penis jousting going on between Bryan and Okada as they raise the top two titles in NJPW above their respective heads, you know where this one’s going (it says it above). In a sequel to last year’s Forbidden Door main event, the stakes are inverted this time. Where last time Moxley stood in defence of his company’s top title from the outsider, now the outsiders have been forced to play on away territory again, only this time in defence of their own company, wanting to stop Bryan and Moxley in their tracks before they have a chance to cross the borders into Japan and terrorise New Japan. Shibata already failing his end of the fight, NJPW’s future rests on Okada and Tanahashi’s shoulders. Four elite talents sharing the ring, there’s undoubtedly no shortage of sublime wrestling, Bryan and Okada finally getting to tangle, Moxley and Tanahashi brawling left and right. But it’s not long before the weak link is identified. A Paradigm Shift and a Busaiku Knee Kick to Tanahashi seals the deal, NJPW’s foundation crumbling at BCC’s feet! Fear them. Japan is no longer safe.
Best in the World (7/7/23) - Claudio Castagnoli © vs Adam Cole for the ROH World Championship
Adam Cole is friends with the Elite, but not really. He's still associated and, as a face for some reason, wants to teach big mean old Claudio a lesson. Venturing down to RoH after a victory against Chris Jericho, the BayBay One reasons that he will be the one to finally bring down the BCC and bring the Honor brand back to its former prominence. Claudio makes his way to the ring flanked by the newly-debuted Hero, who makes sure to jeer and glare at Cole the entire time. Coming off victories over Shibata and the superior AEW Adam, Claudio is feeling clean and ready to go. He's killed giants- And Adam Cole is anything but a giant (He's short. Do you get it?). Bell rings and Cole is immediately off his game, put off by the unfamiliar RoH environment and the constant tauntings of his former rival in Hero. His hair dye runs down his face and into his eyes, blinds him at once. Put simple, Claudio continues his roll of steamrolling, strutting dominance, beats the fucking snot out of this little Cole nerd. Rips his arms off and stuffs them down on his throat. Makes a little hole and stomps his hear into it. Completely no-sells a Superkick like an asshole. Lariat beheads Cole and ends the match in ref stoppage as Claudio watches on in frothing, sadistic satisfaction; a killer reborn, and thirsty for death.
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2023.04.14 07:54 carmensol1 Barbie Look trending

Barbie Look Trending: Embrace the Nostalgic Vibe with Jelly Accessories from Carmen Sol
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