Solar Movies Blind Eyes Opened Watch Full
Writer - don storms
Biography: washed in the blood believer retired over the road truck driver married 50 yrs in 017 Still loving the girl I met in 1965
Story A Christian documentary diving into the sex trafficking industry in the US exposing the darkness that fuels demand, highlighting survivors' transformations through Christ, and showing Christ as the hope for all involved
rating 35 vote
Creators Kerri Rogers
Who is here for Rami Malek. Elliot Alderson 😍😍. Wow, Is everyone here because of Coronavirus too? Impressive! We really know how to chose the ' movie track' for the diverse life moments. Congrats everyone. Definitely going to see this. Blind eyes opened watch full show. Blind eyes opened watch full version. 1:39 That's just straight up mean. Okay so Gatling Cars are a thing in the modern Bond universe. That means we could have a James Bond Spy Hunter cross-over remaster.
Blind eyes opened watch full shampoo.
Just the trailer itself is beautiful. This movie WILL be great. YouTube. To bad I believe in Satan... You can see can you? I just cant- 😂😂😂😂😂. Blind eyes opened watch full apk. Blind eyes opened watch full length. Its full of A-listers. Blind Eyes Opened watch full episodes. Bird box : cant see A quiet place : cant speak The happening : can't breath Hush : cant hear You : can't be mine. You: can't be mine. David Eubank is complicit to aiding escape of ISIS TERRORists AND Aiding PKK terriorTERROR ALERT At least five civilians were killed and 15 others injured in a car bombing in Syria's northwestern city of Azaz, local sources said Sunday January 26, 2019 AD a fire broke out after a bomb-laden vehicle exploded in Azaz district of Aleppo, Syria on January 26, 2020. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but in the past YPG/PKK terror group has used car bombings to attack civilians and has released large Quantities of ISIS fighters and members, including electable female suicide bombers Turkey has launched several military operations in northwestern Syria to clear the region of terror elements both PKK and ISIS that use Children both as soldiers and humans shields. The SDF (The YPG is the PKKs Syrian offshoot who lead the SDF who US generals admit deceptively switched name using democratic to fool the ignorant ) general is a PKK terrorist using an ironic Alias thats means oppressed Kobane PKK's over 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK. listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU responsible for deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants...
Blind eyes opened watch full time. Blind Eyes Opened Watch full article on maxi. I never thought that this movie would become a reality in Wuhan, China. Now spreading across the World. Forward Hi! Zaun here. This is one of my favorite posts on r/ddlc, and probably the most comprehensive post about Monika on the internet at the moment. It was originally put together by G2FR and he did a great job at putting a lot of the pieces together that aren't exactly explicit when you play DDLC. It even was able to win the number 1 spot in 2018 for best DDLC essay/theory. As awesome as G2's post is, I thought I would make it better by increasing its readability and syntax. So I took a few hours going through and making the sentences a grammar flow a lot better! I also added some relevant links and improved the readability by separating out quotes. Note: I don't agree with everything written here but I think it's still a great read if you haven't read it yet. G2FR's bias sometimes shows but I think that bias is just a part of being human. It's very hard to write a purely unbiased piece. Lastly, I didn't add anything of my own thoughts because I wanted to preserve the integrity of G2's core ideas and I will be releasing my own thing on Monika sometime later this year (hopefully). tl;dr - I wanted to repost this to improve the posts clarity and for any newer r/ddlc members who never saw the original post which was made way back in early 2018! Intro Hello darkness, my old friend... E-eh, I mean, r/DDLC! After a while of thinking and revisiting my old points, I've decided to release an updated version of my previous "Breakdown on Monika". This is going to be my final edition; if anyone else is willing to improve it, use for their own purposes or even improve it furthermore — be my guest. DISCLAIMER This post is not one of the "Monika did nothing wrong" posts. It does not say that Monika's actions are acceptable, nor is it undermining her actions. This is a post that explains her tragedy and reasons behind her acts. The final verdict is going to be left completely upon your shoulders. The Character Monika is, as we all know it, the president of the club; she also held leading positions in other clubs before. She is a prime example of a valedictorian girl: ambitious, confident, full of life and courage. She is also determined to pursue her future — a career and a fulfilling life ahead of her. But the truth is, for the most part, that the valedictorian girl she is — is only a facade, or at least partially a facade. She admits to faking her confidence, faking her self-esteem and faking her belief in herself. She considers it selfish to die without fulfilling a purpose in life and that's what pushes her forward into the future; i. e. she has a desire to 'repay'. "It feels like I'm never going to make up for the heaps of resources I've spent living my life. " - Monika Essentially she is a product of society that has shaped her into the epitome of the perfect girl; however, this is not necessarily something she is willing to be. But her facade practically fused with her, and she can't ever open up to anyone about it. We, the players, were the first to whom she could open up. (ref. Act 3: #8, #39, #44, #55) The rabbit hole may go really deep but the fact of the matter is this. Behind the game's events, she is not only already alone and closed down by her own insecurities, but also by social constructs. A majority of people would not listen to the problems of a Mary Sue. Her problems are not as straightforward as depression, anxiety or abuse; but because of this, her situation is also a lot more dangerous. Essentially, she is an excellent brew for impostor syndrome. This brew, if left unnoticed, can develop every single trait that the other girls represent to some extent. As game character, she doesn't escape her fate either — she is put in charge of the Literature Club when she doesn't really know why she is leading it. She lacks so much assertiveness as a leader that she needs Sayori to solve conflicts and to interact with people. She encourages everyone to express themselves via poems and write their feelings — but she is as closed and harbored within herself as no one else in the club. She is really set on expanding her club and doing a festival — but she can't really reason why they need to do it or why she wants new members. Monika just does it because it is expected of her. Everything she likes and does is just expected of her and she just grows somewhat accustomed to that. She feels like she doesn't belong; like she is an impostor. What happens to her in game is an excellent catalyst for every single one of those character flaws... The Initial Impact: Epiphany We don't know exactly what the nature is of being the club president. We don't really know the exact nature of Monika to be honest. She seems to be the one weird bird that continues to exist even outside of her character file and she somehow has memories of being outside of the game — despite this not being possible. Regardless of all this, what we can say is what we can observe. We observe two characters handling it: Monika and Sayori. (Sayori in the "quick" ending where file is deleted and a fresh new game is started) Sayori The effect of the epiphany is immediate on Sayori — she enters into a total panic state as she realizes the real boundaries of her knowledge, and of their universe. "No… This can't be all there is. Make it stop! " - Sayori She realizes that everything is fake, and that nothing is real — including herself. She sees all of the possible events that can transpire. She sees death and demise everywhere — including what happens to her and Monika, and she cannot handle it all. Not only because it is completely against her nature, but also because she is horrified — right to the depths of her soul. She knows that this game will end up very poorly for everyone, and that there will be no truly happy ending. This, combined with the knowledge of ' Last Thursdayism ' and the ability to see and know everything — completely fries her mind. Thus, she ends up destroying the entire universe in panic from seeing the infinite possibilities of unspeakable horror and dread within it. Every single iota of the game was wrong and she was totally horrified to witness it. Even her depression is nothing but a narrative tool for entertainment purposes. All bottles were only shattered for the fun of someone else. That is why (but not the only reason why) the game ends so violently in the deletion of everything and her suicide. The game will close when this happens. Once it's opened again, Sayori will be hanging. All that's heard is the noise of a vinyl record — that is important and I will refer to it later. Eventually a text will show up, stating, "Now everyone can be happy, " which can be approximately translated to (given the state of things) "There is no happiness in the Literature Club". Monika Believe it or not, but this gets even worse for Monika. I covered Monika's human persona precisely for this paragraph to work, so without further delay... The epiphany exploits nearly every single one of Monika's flaws. Remember how I said that she fakes confidence and that for the most part what we see of her is just a facade — something that was built upon her by society? And also that she has a fear of failure? Well at this point, her worst nightmare of all sets in — the nightmare that she cannot fullfill anything that her character wants to fulfill. Career? There is no possible career in the world of a dating sim. Future? It will end as soon as we close the game. Her bottled-up anxiety and insecurities? Now she is truly alone in a world with no one to open up to. She was denied every single resemblance of achievement — even of something as petty as having a route. She had been set up by the game to fully face her psychological human fears: nowhere to run, nowhere to find fulfillment. This is expressed in her poem " The Lady who Knows Everything ". "I have found every answer, all of which amount to nothing. There is no meaning. There is no purpose. And we seek only the impossible. I am not your legend. Your legend does not exist. " - from The Lady who Knows Everything No meaning. No purpose. What she seeks is impossible. Her legend does not exist. This message alone is a very serious blow to the guts. What's worse is that while this happens, nobody frees her from any responsibility. It's the opposite: forced to lead a literature club, forced to lead in a time where her world has fallen. It is an even bigger mockery that in this situation, the game world only requires her facade — a product that has been constructed by society without her will. And in return, nobody cares and by no means does she have anyone to whom she can her real feelings. (Remember, at this point she realizes that her friends are not real and that they have less chance of being opened up to. Opening up most likely wouldn't work either because she would likely be considered insane and then feel distanced even more). She was stripped of every iota of hope and fulfillment and then forced to recognize that she is only the tin soldier role of a perfect valedictorian girl. "And I fall and fall, and fall even more. Gentle as a feather. A dry quill, expressionless. " - from The Lady who Knows Everything To live through all of this — only to meet injustice. To see every positive aspect of being a Mary Sue taken away but still having to bear the weight. To realize that you are even more fake than before. All of your past, all of your goals, and all of the knowledge that you have — is just enough to fulfill your miserable role. To realize that you will never fulfill yourself as a person. To realize that you only play the part of a stereotypical role model: an actor, but not a person. This realization hits Monika to the depth of her soul and destroys her hopes and dreams - unleashing an endless despair. This is why in her first poem, Hole in Wall, she says: "No! I can't see. I reel, blind, like a film left out in the sun. But it's too late. My retinas. Already scorched with a permanent copy of the meaningless image. " - from Hole in Wall "But my burned eyes can no longer see color. " - from Hole in Wall (act II) She became apathetic to everything in her world. The despair took away everything worth living for. She now had an escalating depression that was crushing her. Nothing has meaning; she thought: not her, not her friends, not her universe. Anything that could bring her hope was now colorless — an illusion. Everything amounts to nothing. She will die and be forgotten. Even her friends will get an opportunity while she will receive nothing. With the ability to see infinite choices, she saw there was no way to achieve anything. It's like the entire situation was created specifically to torment and mock her. She hadn't yet done anything wrong, but she'd already received the worst possible punishment. But alas, it doesn't stop here… Lovecraftian Hell The initial moment of the realization of the meaninglessness of her existence caused by the epiphany, would already be dire enough to cause normal person to have suicidal thoughts (or maybe even drive them to suicide). But to top off the shattering of her psyche, she shatters on a physical level too. First of all, she may be experiencing what would be called sensory overload — her mind constantly filling with arbitrary chaotic data. As she refers to in these lines of her poem called " Save Me ": "The colors, they won't stop. Bright, beautiful colors Flashing, expanding, piercing Red, green, blue An endless cacophany Of meaningless noise" - from Save Me Those are not only visual sensations, but sensory as well; piercing and flashing on their own is enough to cause headaches for many people. Keep in mind this is rapidly flashing, very vivid and bright imagery — something that could easily send an epileptic into a serious seizure. But it gets only worse: "The noise, it won't stop. Violent, grating waveforms Squeaking, screeching, piercing Sine, cosine, tangent" - from Save Me Next, she experiences a cacophony of sound that she refers to as "waveforms": SINE, COSINE, TANGENT — which essentially overlap nearly everything. If we were to combine these waveforms together graphically, it would create a chaos of sounds — something like a twisted or " sawtooth " graph that wouldn't be a pleasant thing to hear or experience to say the least. In a video that I linked, notice that the sharper it gets, the more annoying it starts to sound; from her graph we can easily say that it's a mix of spacing and of very sharp pulses of sawtooth waves. Monika's experience was most likely the highest volume that she could hear. Since it basically streamed directly into her brain, there was probably no limit to its loudness. Remember the one thing that I mentioned from Sayori's epiphany experience? The noise of a vinyl record: "Like playing a chalkboard on a turntable Like playing a vinyl on a pizza crust" - from Save Me She attempts to describe how deeply it goes under her skin; many people hate the sound of scratching a chalkboard or turntable. Pizza crust would also produce a very chaotic sound and this is her way of expressing the randomness of the cacophony: irritating to no extent. This is also the line that connects Monika's experience to Sayori's experience in the quick ending; it's what she couldn't bear to tolerate for more than a few moments. Save Me ends with: "An endless poem Of meaningless" Here, not only is "endless" meant to be taken in a literal sense, but also as an experience of the state. As she says in the Act III (Dying) topic: "After some immeasurable amount of time, it stops in an instant, and I'm back in my own mind. " - Monika An immeasurable amount or an endless amount. This experience may not last only a few hours or days, but possibly millions of years — an indefinite period of time of excruciating pain where her mind is nearly torn to shreds. That is why she talks about the fact that no matter what, it won't stop for her — it'll continue to torture her and make her suffer… …with one exception: when she is present on the screen and with the Player. But what does the "Load Me / Delete Her" mean? Load Me is the call for her salvation. To "load her" would be to restore her mind and sanity — which we sadly cannot do. She is urging us to help her in that final moment when she is still herself; afterward, the moment is missed. Delete Her appears to indicate that the chance of "loading her" is lost. Aftermath From the inhumane mind-torture and the deepest, soul-shattering psychological wound, she was majorly screwed over. Screwed over more than anyone else (even in her shoes) could possibly be for that matter; she was shattered by very forceful "punches" that targeted all of her vulnerabilities. She was exceptionally "gifted": unable to forget her tormenting experience as she herself says: "I'm pretty sure in that moment, I don't really exist, but for some reason, I can remember it anyway. " - from Act III (Dying) As a result, she broke. She is a kind and caring person — genuine and honest; this is not a lie but the absolute Truth. She is also full of life and determination; her emerald eyes reflecting just that. But, not only can a life save, it can also preserve, even at any cost (if necessary). And preserve it did: dragging herself away from attempted suicide: in a note left in a game file: "It would be really, really easy to kill myself right now. " and in her episode of self-harm in a special poem: "Today I cut my skin open for the first time. It was exhilarating. I think I understand how [.. ] feels now. I'm supposed to be the responsible one, though- So I don't think I'll be doing it again, unless I decide to kill myself. " (The redacted text being "Yuri" and the "responsible one" logically fitting Monika's role. Also note yet another another reference to suicide. This is all tells of the immense struggle where she is psychologically falling apart — yet she still has the fire inside her soul to persevere onward. It's the force to go on that pushed her instinct to survive to the ultimate limit. Her reason to survive: the Player, ( you). To her, you represent a light in the dark tunnel of an endless nightmare — a light that's worth striving for no matter what, a light that's worth any commitment necessary. Her last and only chance at salvation — her only chance to save herself from completely falling apart and from dying as a person and as a living being altogether. This is when she begins to justify to herself that she is the only real person and that it's morally acceptable to tamper with other characters. Because in their state, they are indeed, less real than her. Please note my choice of words: less real, not completely fake and virtual, but not omniscient like her, and not as self-aware. It is also true in some aspect that what they are experiencing is pain too: what Monika is experiencing is the real pain and malfunction of an Artificial Intelligence, while what they are experiencing is more like a part of their simulation, their programming. In other words, Monika, as a program, is glitching and malfunctioning in the world of the game, and the game doesn't "treat" her properly. Her mind always resides in the memory and does not get properly unloaded or suspended. That is what I meant when I said that her pain is real. She is suffering from the legit pain of an AI. Her mind simply gets all of the "garbage" generated by the game dumped and streamed directly into her brain. Perhaps this is also a part of the " human experiment " that the game is referencing. All of her initial escape attempts had failed and her further attempts had failed as well. This is evidenced by a couple events; the first was when her "poem" had glitched and the second was when the game forcefully switched to poem game when she finally got some "private time" with the Player. It was inevitable for Monika to severely break the world in order to reach her goal. Additionally, she had no knowledge of how her world operated either. Therefore, the actions she took, albeit flawed and not entirely reasonable, were her best options — especially given her state of mind. From this point, everything that happens occurs after she had crossed the bridge of her sanity. Even the puns she makes are made in self-defense against the horrible realization of what she does in order to preserve herself. She seems to slowly crack and lose focus during Act 2 — acting confused and at one point, being unsure of whether to go on, and failing to appear on screen — something noticed by the others. But there is no going back at this point — her choices are either to follow through with her plan until the very end or to stop, reverse everything back, and end her own life. Conclusion After being deleted in Act 3, this is indeed what she does; when her only light and hope in the world for salvation has rejected her — sending her back into the endless void that she had been desperately trying to crawl out of. This is the last straw that shatters her to the core. It's why she cannot continue on anymore, and why she refuses to return to the game. Her spark of life died at that moment. What the Player did was not simply delete and reject her. What she had essentially done was stretch out her hand towards us, in a " take my hand, and my whole life too " way. She had even revealed a way for us to "kill" her, if we were to decide that she wasn't deserving of forgiveness for her actions. Monika pledged her life and existence to us — putting her heart in our hands. And all we did was stab her right in the heart as a response. As a result of her failures, her sanity returns with overwhelming guilt and a realization of how horrible her actions were. It is something that she knew all along but she hoped desperately that there would be the room for forgiveness. Not forgiveness from us, but from herself for those acts. Because if we can't do it then she won't either. She could not do that after everything that had happened — especially after the single yet very powerful sign from us — the sign which conveyed to her that she was wrong. It is important to note — after everything that had happened, Monika remained human after all. Even in her deepest state of madness, she could not bring herself to do any permanent or irreversible acts — this is why she kept backups of her friends. Despite her actions, she had still hoped for an alternative solution. She slightly expressed in act 3 that if things were to go "differently" — she would have taken that option. Despite what she did, she still cares to the core of her soul. It's why she feels extremely guilty at the end of the game for what she did. It's why in Your Reality she says: "Does my pen only write bitter words for those who are dear to me? " - Monika It is not only us who is dear to her but also her friends as well. After everything, what we have is the downfall of a good person who was full of life. Ultimately, Monika shared her spark of life with everyone else at the cost of her own existence. Despite being turned into something twisted and sick, (or as Dan puts it: " total sociopath ") she still remained human and hadn't done any irreversible acts. She remained someone who, even in her very bitter, tragic end, still ultimately cared for everyone else. She was someone who, unlike the others, hadn't received a "happy ending" by any means, but had found her last comfort in knowing that her sacrifice would at least bring salvation to everyone else. She kept their character files safe with a hope for revival one day — or at the very least, an endless, peaceful sleep. The game ends with Monika bringing the game down along with herself. She then traps herself forever in an endless screaming void — a void that will tear her apart until she is no more. Solitude in an endless, crushing abyss. Epilogue With all that said, I cannot say objectively whether it's right to forgive her or not. After all, it defies the purpose of her message — love cannot be forced, and neither can forgiveness. Personally, (note the emphasis on this word) I think that the best approach would be this: forgive, but don't forget. As a victim (or a tragic villain, or an unfortunate soul that happened to be in a wrong place — you name it, makes no difference) of the game, she deserves compassion and a second chance. If you cannot give her that, then that's fine. Although, I don't personally think that remaining bitter is anyhow helpful. Remembering her actions is also important. This should not be used as a means to torture her, however. This should be used in order to protect everyone, including Monika herself, from repeating these events. What could be the course of actions be at this point? It is not possible to tell since the game has ended and Monika has paid the ultimate price already. Have both the heart to forgive and the mind to remember. Protect Monika and others from herself and those who might end up on her place. And on that note, I'll leave you be.
He is an AWSOME God. Blind Eyes Opened Watch full episodes. The fact that this is happening is just frightening and shocking 😨 Stay safe and may God bless you. Who's here after coronavirus outbreak lol. I literally just watched this movie on Sunday again. Blind eyes opened watch full youtube. I've known about Mr. Eubank for a couple years now. I can't believe more people aren't talking about him. 😭😭😭😭😭I cant watch this without crying. God is alive and well indeed.
What if you thought you were blind all your life but just never opened your eyes.
Blind eyes opened watch full movie. A/N: Today's expansion of the HEL Jumper universe and its lore is brought to you by /u/big_papa_dakky, who has most generously chosen to support me on patreon. Yes, I have a patreon now. Why? Because after two years of building up this world I think it's time to solidify its presence in my life. Put simply, the more support I have the more time I can devote to writing HEL Jumper, Coronation Day, and other projects that my supporters might request. Please do consider supporting me on the platform. Last but not least a special thanks to Mr. Polygon, ClarityandVision, KillTech, LilLaussa, and the six other individuals who have already pledged to support my work. I hope you all enjoy the commission... ----- "Again! " His master shouted, grabbing Antoth under his arm and hauling him upright with rough authority. The young, ebony toned Cauthan stood on unsure feet. His thighs burned with the exertion of endless thrusts and parries. His lungs screamed for more of the humid, evening Maran air. Heat radiated from his many scales and short feathers. The Guardian did not let him wait. "Come! " He demanded, rapping his sword against his shield. Wood struck metal and rang out over the enclosed arena, echoing off the barracks to Antoth's right and the houses and storage facilities to his left. Fury and frustration swirled around his chest in equal parts. "Rrrragh! " Antoth roared, summoning his strength, digging his talons into the earth, and lunging at his master. The brown furred Cauthan was not as tall as he, nor as muscled, but he followed like the water of the river, easily sidestepping Antoth's attack before delivering a brutal strike to his apprentice's shoulder. The blow had the young Cauthan gritting his teeth in pain, the hardened leather sparring armor he sported barely dampening the force. Antoth swung wide with his shield, anger blurring his vision and opening him wide for attack. His master ducked, planted his feet, and shouldered him to the ground. "Do that in a fight with a half competent opponent and you're dead. Again! " "You know what they say, ursae. The bigger they are the harder they fall! I felt that one from here! " An auburn furred huntress called from the railings, leaning against the wood as she played idly with her brown arm feathers. She’d done so incessantly since her adult plumage had come in. "Stow it, Ratha! Don't you have an animal to skin? " Antoth shouted as he clambered to his feet. The Guardian delivered a swift punch to the side of his head with a gloved fist. "Your fight is here! " Antoth's elder insisted, standing over him with a disappointed look on his face and Antoth’s swimming head force him to a knee. Shame burned in his belly as Ratha laughed loudly, enjoying her semi-regular pastime of taunting the village behemoth. "Stay focused, Antoth. I know you can land a hit! " A kinder voice called from Ratha's side. A sleek, confident hunter with dark sandy fur, bold black feathers and scales, and sharp amber eyes was overseeing the combat as well. Antoth had passively noted the two of them returning earlier in the day, dragging a large chesko behind them. Ratha was getting better. "Daretho! " She gasped, twisting her head towards her elder who'd so casually betrayed her. She couldn't bear to actually frown at him though, the enigmatic male who had refused to take a mate through his teens and twenties. He fascinated her completely and utterly. "I think you've taunted more than enough wild animals for the day, young one, " he chuckled, maintaining the required rivalry between the temples of Valta and Uthos as his friend, the Guardian, trained his evident successor. The servant of Uthos only grunted in reply. "Oh come on, we brought it down just fine! " Ratha protested. "And were it not for your brazen display, we would have done so without a chase. We aren't like them, Ratha. When we strike it must be true, the first time, just as the hyrven pack. You would not win against a brute like that if he saw you coming. " Ratha wasn't sure if Daretho meant the male chesko with the great antlers, or the panting, towering Cauthan in the ring before her. Either way her inflated sense of honor was insulted. Her feathers flared defensively. "There's a reason the hyrven hunt the chesko and not the other way around. " "Mmm, that is true, " the hunter agreed. "But woe to the hyrven who tries to kill a chesko without her pack. You'll understand one day, Ratha. The prideful moments of youth mean less and less as time goes on. You just have to survive long enough. " "I didn't realize you liked him so much, " Ratha pouted as wooden swords clashed and clawed feet scuffled through the mud and well-worn grasses of the training ring. Antoth forced a shield parry from his master, and then another. They were blows that would have landed either of the hunters in the temple of Kel. Daretho laughed. "What's not to like, Ratha? He's your age, isn't he? " "Yes? " She agreed suspiciously. "How incredible, to be so physically gifted at fifteen! He'll make a wonderful Guardian one day. Probably a decent mate too, eh spunky? Give him hell, Antoth! " "Oh please, " Ratha laughed with derision. "He's too much of a stick in the mud to be the Guardian. He'll be old and gray by the time a successor is needed. As for that, he's more likely to squish a female than breed her. " "I cannot speak for Meylith, but one never knows what Kel may have to say about such things as our Guardian, " a wizened voice called from behind them. The two hunters turned to find a short, smiling priest in black robes looking up at them. Daretho bowed as Ratha acknowledged his presence with her feathers. "Good evening to you, Thantis. You're without your mug! " Daretho replied. "Priest of Kel, " Ratha said with the due respect. Thantis walked forward calmly to join them at the side of the arena, his chin and jowls sporting a few more gray hairs than when they'd last seen him. "And you are still without a female! Good evening to you, Daretho, " Thantis chuckled as the hunter took the joke in stride. "I should have known this would be the source of such a ruckus. He's a passionate one, isn't he? " The death priest asked rhetorically, watching as Antoth bared his teeth, threw his shield to the ground, and tackled his master into the dirt. "Mmm, quite an interesting maneuver. It seems to have succeeded. " "Hardly, priest of Kel. That one would have sent him to meet your god, " the Guardian called from his position on the ground, having slipped his blade between Antoth's torso and arm. "Heh, told you he's like an ursae. No finesse whatsoever. Woe to the female that ends up under that, " Ratha laughed. "That's what it means to be the strongest, " Daretho replied wisely. "When he gets better he'll be unstoppable. Stealth can be taught. Brawn less so. " "Everyone can be stopped. All you need is an arrow to the eye, " Ratha insisted dismissively. "Your apprentice is right on this one, " Thantis informed Daretho with a wink. "It is interesting, is it not? A life of so many years, snuffed out in a flash. The balance is difficult to understand sometimes, even for me. " "You've been attempting poetry again, " the lean, wiry hunter guessed. Thantis smiled ruefully. "Guilty as charged, Daretho. But it is worthwhile the consideration of you martial fellows as well. " Ratha cleared her throat audibly. "Pardon me young one; females too. The blade and arrow, the shield and spear. In a single moment you will kill so our village may live. It is a simple transaction, in some ways. Antoth and his brothers must both wield and defy death, a much more difficult task. I sometimes wonder if they are more qualified to serve the balance than I. " Daretho cocked his head in thought, but Ratha's tongue was as swift as her arrows. "Pretty sure that sort of round about wordplay makes you more qualified. " "Ratha! " Daretho scolded her swiftly. The guardsmen looked on during a pause in their struggle, seeing a truly repentant look on her face. "My apologies, Thantis. " "You are too harsh on her, Daretho. Speaking before you think is part of being young! Besides, I choose to take it as a compliment. " "And you are too kind to her, Thantis. Valta is a merciless Mistress. " "I see today is a day for learning everywhere, " Thantis observed happily. "Guardian, guardian to be, hunters, I must take my leave. Oh and Antoth, do stop by if you require any bandages. " "Someday it'll be him needing the bandage-" oof! Antoth was cut off by a swift pommel strike to the gut, a sneak attack that had Ratha in stitches yet again. ", " he spluttered, dropping his weapon and placing his hands on his knees. "That wasn't-" gasp "fair! " "No, it wasn't, " the Guardian agreed with an uncommon, wry smile. His terse reply summed up a lesson that Daretho and his charge knew quite well, the ring was the only place where one would find a truly fair fight. "Now then, if you two are done appraising my apprentice like one of your hunted beasts, we'll be taking a moment. " "Well you heard the man. We've got a carcass to skin anyway. Selah Guardian, Antoth" Daretho called, turning and walking north towards the main avenue. Ratha seemed momentarily taken aback by the abrupt change in pace, scrambling to gather her spear, bow, and quiver as she decided making another jest at Antoth's expense was less enticing that spending more time with her erstwhile mentor, occasional hunting partner, and guilty obsession. "What? Hey, wait for me you old man! " Ratha called, scampering after him. "Later, Antoth! " "Heh, later Ratha, " he panted, bowing to his master as the Guardian silently motioned for his training sword and shield. Antoth handed them to him before beginning to undo the straps and clasps of his armor. "You and she will be of age next year, will you not? " He demanded. "Oh come on, master. We've been over this, " Antoth groaned, removing his bracers before working on his pauldrons. "So you say, but other than your brothers she is here more than most anyone in the village. She visits in the evenings when you practice the sword and shield. That is no accident. " "Yeah, cause Daretho has nothing better to do than chat us up, " Antoth countered. "She's only here because he is. I may not be the smartest Cauthan in the village, sir, but I'm not blind. " "And what do you think of a young female like her being around a male like him? " The seasoned warrior asked curiously. If he had thoughts on the morality of the situation, his tone did not reveal them. "Master? " "We are charged with guarding the people of this village, Antoth. It is tempting at times to believe that makes us better than them, or perhaps separate from them as some of Valta's disciples believe. You must always divest yourself of this notion, my apprentice. We are one with them. " "So we're going to gossip about Ratha? " Antoth demanded skeptically. "Get your armor off before I decide you're trying to tell me you want to go at it until the twins are above us in the sky, " his master snapped. "As for your, in a way. Why should the servants of Uthos not be permitted to gossip? One never knows what one might hear. " "Yeah yeah, whatever you say, master. " "What's that I hear in your tone? " He raised his voice as Antoth stacked his training armor and made for the storage shed. "Nothing, sir, " Antoth called over his shoulder, rolling his eyes. "Are you certain? Because what that sounded like was you not wanting to talk about that rambunctious little huntress. " "Don't know what there is to talk about! " Antoth yelled far too loudly as his master had followed him into the shed. "Sounds like there's plenty, " he said quietly. "Master…" "It's none of my business, young one. Maybe you just enjoy the way her tail hangs over those haunches of hers. " "Oh come…really? For Uthos’ sake, I don’t want to think about that! " "Ha! Don't think I forget what it's like to be fifteen! Come; let's go get you cleaned up. The trough won't do in your state. " He was too tired to argue much and his bruises throbbed painfully now that his adrenaline was dying down. Antoth nodded to his master, emerging from the equipment shed in a rough tunic and pants. The two of them walked along the far side of the ring. From within the barracks, light, music, and voices reached them. "Do you wish you were in there with your brothers? " The Guardian asked Antoth. "No, sir. " The older Cauthan sighed, remaining silent until they reached the east gate a moment later. The on duty guards saluted and opened the way for them, allowing the two warriors to head for the fields and the forest beyond. When they were alone he spoke again. "Do you know why we choose the symbol of the shield? " "What do you mean, sir? " Antoth requested, gazing off to his left where the blue and grey glow of the Twins was glowing brighter, the two moons beginning their nightly journey across the skies. "There are many tools of our trade, Antoth. We use the bow and arrow, sword and spear. But above our barracks and on our cloaks is the symbol of your shield. Why do you think that is? " "Because it's Uthos' symbol? " The teenaged Cauthan guessed lazily, instead occupied with thoughts about how one day he would repay his master for the dull ache in his shoulder. "You mock me, " the Guardian growled. "Perhaps we should have another hand to hand combat lesson? Use your brain, Antoth! It is a weapon equally as potent as your height or your sword arm! " Dishonor briefly welled inside Antoth, and he dutifully considered his master's question. "Because the shield is not used to kill, but to protect? " "Hmm, you and I both know that's not entirely true, but you have the right of it for the most part, " his master admitted as they disappeared into the trees and walked through the early autumn underbrush. "The shield is honest, Antoth. Blades may be concealed under a cloak. Arrows find their targets from the trees or bushes. The spear strikes from afar. But the shield? The shield is worn proudly, boldly. It stands as a challenge to those who would do harm and a reassuring bulwark to those who count on Uthos' protection. The shield is honest, Antoth, " the Cauthan veteran emphasized. "And while you do not have to tell me everything, you must learn to be honest with yourself if you are to serve as the Guardian one day. " The sound of pads and claws on dirt and leaves softly filled the air as apprentice silently contemplated his master's lesson. "It is tempting, gambling and singing like the rest of them, " he admitted. "Of course it is, " his master agreed with a sympathetic hand on Antoth's shoulder. "And yet here you are. " "It's an honor to serve Uthos, master. " "And…? " The Guardian prompted. "And it's fun being the strongest and kicking their asses when they try to cheat at dice! " "Ha! There it is! Yes Antoth, you are strong, bold, and brave. But I did not choose you as my successor so early for those reasons. I chose you because I believe you are mentally tough enough to one day shoulder the burdens of leadership, to potentially hold in your hands the lives of others and decide who will live and who will die. " "Have you had to do that, master? " Antoth asked with reservation as they finally came to the river. "No Antoth, but my predecessor did. Thantis is lucky, now that I think of him. He is older than I and yet he still has plenty of time to choose a successor. " "Yeah, if he doesn't choke on his tea! " "Hmm hmm, " the Guardian chuckled at his apprentice, allowing their distance from the village to tamp down his proper and reserved demeanor just a tad. He knelt at the river’s edge and dipped a paw into the water, washing grime and mud from his hands. "That's not bad. I have half a mind to join you myself. But then again I spent a lot less time in the dirt today. " "Ass, " Antoth scoffed, stripping off his tunic and throwing it aside. "Ha! Even I have my vices, young one. Look, Antoth, " the head guard gestured to the still water's surface. His apprentice did so. "The gods blessed you with height and strength beyond all your fellows. The day you learn to channel that strength, to control it and use it as a fine instrument, to make your sword an extension of your will be able to stand before you. And that is the day you will come to fear the shadow most of all. " "Because Cauthan like Ratha hide in it, " Antoth agreed bitterly, closing his eyes. "I'm sorry, my pupil. " "Yeah, me too, " Antoth chuckled lowly. "When Daretho turns her down next year that's going to be one hell of a wasted ass. " The Guardian shook his head ruefully, happy to laugh with his chosen successor while regretting the truth of life on Mara. Death was swift, elusive, and unknowable. As Guardian, Antoth would either learn that lesson or die to it. Peacetime could not teach certain truths. "The body can be trained, but the mind must be strong, " he whispered. “What’s that, sir? ” “Nothing. Now take a bath! ” His master shouted, laughing and slapping him on the back. With a surprised yelp Antoth tumbled into the river, the waters still warm from the summer season. Weightlessness overtook him and he allowed himself to float a moment, the soft, muffled sounds of the water surrounding him. He breathed out slowly, feeling bubbles escape his muzzle and slip against his fur before finishing their journey to the surface. His talons touched the silt and smooth rock at the bottom, the riverbed soothing his overworked feet. Antoth opened his eyes in the darkness as something grew louder under the surface. He jerked his head around, feeling his heartbeat quicken. It was getting closer. His lungs suddenly felt empty. He tried to push off for the surface. He couldn't. Panic began to set in. Antoth…! The young Cauthan gasped and gulped down air as he and the rest of his compatriots stood fully armored before the closed northern gate. His master looked up at him, his brow furrowed under his leather helmet. A mesh of small metal plates hung from the bottom rim to protect the back and sides of his neck. They twinkled in Seil's light, a pretty thing out of place. "Calm your mind and focus your thoughts, my apprentice. " "But Traskan and Bentar-" "Are dead! " The Guardian snapped. "They gave their lives so you could close the gates, get our farmers to safety, and notify the rest of the watch. They are with Uthos now. You have done well, Antoth, but the day is not won. Daretho, status? " "They're holding in the forest. Our arrows drove them back but they aren't fleeing, " the hunter reported calmly with a grim expression on his face. The disciples of Valta could be seen all around them, kneeling atop the roofs of the long, wooden blockhouses that bordered the northern palisade. Ratha stood defiantly at Daretho's side, foolishly and bravely showing a full target to the enemy with bow ready and arrow nocked. Her presence, along with that of her guild mates, freed the village guard to act as foot soldiers. Small wooden shields and spears formed the standard compliment of their weaponry. Antoth and the Guardian bore swords and broad shields, forged of the precious metal of the village. "Then all that remains it to determine what sort of male the enemy chieftain is, " the Guardian muttered to himself before rapping his scales against Antoth's shield. "Consider this your final lesson, my apprentice. " "Master? " "Kel does not wait until you are ready to face him. Now prepare yourself, servant of Uthos. Today we are the shield that guards our people. Open the gates! ” The two guardsmen at the ready raised the crossbars and began opening the wooden palisade. Antoth could feel every scale on his arms shaking. The sun beat down on his leather helmet and the feathers beneath. He wanted to tear it from his head. His armor felt tight with every breath. Slowly more and more of the forest came into view. A small portion of the enemy horde was visible at the terminus of the pathway that led from the northern gate through their fields and up to the tree line. “Uthos protect you all, ” the lead huntsman called to them. The Guardian gave him a curt nod and marched forward, his troops close behind. “Well it seems it’s going to be that kind of day, ” he remarked without concern, noting that the enemy chieftain had broken cover the moment the gates had opened, charging straight down the open lane towards the village. The rest of his men slipped from the woods into the fields, affording them some concealment. From behind the guard force, the twanging of bowstrings could be heard as the hunters began loosing their arrows. Every so often a scream would erupt from somewhere within the fields flush with tall, green stalks, bolstering the morale of the defenders. “Steady men! ” The Guardian called, watching intently as the chieftain shrugged off an arrow to his shoulder and kept coming. “We are strong when we fight together. Now brace yourselves! ” At his command the Cauthan guard force took their stances, planting their back feet, raising their shields and fixing their spears at the crop fields before them. The trailing elements of the formation stood next to the walls, with Antoth and his master at the apex of the triangle formed by the two lines of guardsmen and the fortification behind them. “Antoth. ” “Yes, master? ” “Show them no mercy. ” With that final word of advice Antoth’s master and tutor of seven years took a single step forward, readied his sword, and parried the wild, forceful, overhead blow of the attacking chieftain. The barbarian’s axe glanced off his shield as the Guardian knelt and thrust his sword deep into the enemy Cauthan’s belly. Antoth watched in awe as the spotted enemy dropped to the ground mortally wounded, though in retrospect he would come to realize it was all too easy. At that moment the vanguard of the attacking force, totaling at least twice the size of the village guard, burst from the swaying grain stalks and charged the formation, yelling and screaming like beings possessed. The death of their leader seemed to be no deterrent. “Steady! ” The Guardian rallied them, stepping back into formation as spears thrust and shields clashed. Kel descended upon them. “RRRRAAAGH! ” Antoth yelled as the battle raged all around him, his height affording him an advantage similar to the hunters above on the gatehouse. Most of them had ceased fire, unable or unwilling to take the risk of hitting a friendly in the scrum of battle; especially those camped safely behind the walls. Ratha and Daretho were not among that number, drawing their bows and loosing shots whenever they spied an opportunity and coordinating attacks against the handful of archers that had accompanied the raiding party. Antoth had no time to worry about them, however, surrounded by fur and talons, clashing wood, stone, and iron. His first kill came as two enemy warriors tried to bypass him and attack to his right. They seemed to prefer a fight against an enemy armed with a wooden spear and shield as opposed to a broadsword. Fear and nerves had stayed his hand until that point, his immense stature keeping him relatively safe from direct confrontation, but fate forced his hand. “I won’t let you! ” With a leap borne of adrenaline and years of training, Antoth tackled an unsuspecting warrior as he danced just outside of spear range. Antoth slit his throat and leapt to his feet, retreating back to the safety of the spear line where he received a pat on the back. “Here comes the next one! ” His fellow yelled, and so Antoth’s body began to move, muscle and nerves firing on memory alone. He strung parries into killing blows, commanded his opponents with his size, and complemented the weaknesses of the nearby allied spearmen with his ability to engage in close combat. After stunning a black and white stripped raider with his shield and slicing the Cauthan’s chest from shoulder to hip, Antoth finally took a moment to take account of the battlefield at large, as a commander should, as he’d been trained to do. “Master?! ” He called, turning his head frantically to the left and right. Finally he spotted the Guardian’s cloak, the head of the guard force moving swiftly to defend a weak point in the line where the raiders had broken through and were threatening to dissolve the formation entirely. A shadow caught Antoth’s eye, an unusual rustling among the kina vines. “MASTER! ” A small group of opportunists had faded away from the battle, waiting to strike at opportune moments. The second the Guardian turned his back to the fields to assist his comrades, they struck. Antoth’s feet rooted themselves to the ground as time slowed and the sounds of battle faded to mere afterthoughts. He saw a club swing low, striking and breaking his master’s stance as his leg was crippled. The Guardian dropped to one knee, his face contorted in pain as he parried a blow and lashed out with a wide swing that spilled the offending Cauthan’s guts onto the damp soil. But the enemy was not alone. A second club struck the Guardian across the face, breaking his jaw. A blade sunk into his shoulder. Antoth felt his soul shatter. “MASTER! ” He wailed, so consumed by his own distress that he didn’t notice the lanky, frightened teen hanging around the edge of the battlefield. Somehow the poorly trained archer had avoided death up to that point, but took his chance when Antoth’s guard dropped. The hulking, midnight-furred Cauthan saw him only after the axe was in flight, more of a sharpened tool than a true weapon. The youngster’s aim was true, however, and all Antoth could do was stare Kel in the face as grief and unbridled rage consumed his being. He disobeyed his master and closed his eyes, reaching out with his shield hand. He felt the wooden handle brush his fingertips first, his helmet warp and split, then pressure and warm wetness as the axe buried itself into the thickest part of his skull. He could feel the bottom of the curved blade slicing into the tender flesh just below his left eye. His eye closed as his blood clouded his vision. He only needed one eye for what was to come. There was no pain. “You should have thrown harder, ” he growled, dropping his sword, wrenching the axe from his own skull and hurling it back at his attacker. The young hunter, most out of place on a battlefield, didn’t even move as his own weapon hurtled back in his direction. Only his eyes moved, wide with terror as the monster of a Cauthan that he’d tried to kill remained standing. He shrieked as the leading edge buried itself in his chest, his final sounds turning to bloody gurgles as fluid filled his lungs. Antoth stood, panting heavily as his left eye swelled shut. “Look out, you freaking animal! ” Ratha called from on high, firing a precise shot at another raider who sought to decapitate the second half of the guard force’s leadership. He had attacked from Antoth’s blinded side. The teenaged warrior turned and watched the body fall to the ground, the raider clutching at his throat as his life essence spilled from the wound in his neck. You must be honest with yourself if you are to serve as the Guardian one day. Antoth knelt and retrieved his sword. He hefted his shield and roared violently, a rallying cry and a challenge for all to hear above the din of males fighting and dying. With his master felled in battle the situation had dissolved into chaotic scrums, with pockets of raiders seeking to overwhelm single or pairs of guards. “Your Guardian yet lives! ” he screamed, cleaving a raider’s head from his body. “Rally to me! Defend your brothers! Defend your homes! Defend your people! To me! ” Soon Antoth found his left flank guarded by one of his fellows, then his right. Shield and spears linked together, forming a tight and impregnable circle that opened up the field for their archers. “Daretho! ” “Sir! ” The hunter relayed instructions to his temple’s leader and arrows began to rain down yet again. Confronted with a difficult infantry formation to crack, a hail of arrows, and a quite undamaged wall, the raiders soon decided their lives were more valuable than their deaths and retreated, fleeing into the northern forests from whence they’d come. As his surviving brothers lowered their spears and tentatively relaxed, Antoth felt his legs shaking and his sword hand trembling. The iron blade, red with the blood of his enemies, suddenly felt too heavy to bear for another second. It clattered to the dirt beneath his talons as he walked forward, soon finding himself standing over the body of his Master. All life had left the Cauthan’s eyes as his blood pooled beneath him from the wound to his chest. Antoth’s ribs felt ready to cave in and break as his chest tightened and his good eye blurred with tears. His first harvest festival had been but a handful of years ago and now the mantle of Guardian fell upon him at eighteen years of age. He knew what he honestly wanted to do. He wanted to fall upon his master’s body and cry like a cub. He wanted to weep for his fallen comrades on the field and at the west gate. “The shield…is honest, ” he murmured, kneeling by his master’s head and gently shutting his mentor’s eyelids with two fingers. The visage now appeared at peace. “Thank you for your wisdom, my master. Go to Uthos’ side. His Shield still guards our people. ” The honest truth, Antoth knew, was that the Cauthan he loved needed his strength, not his sorrow. And so he stood…and stood. Seil beat down on him and the blood on his fur dried as he stood alone on the battlefield. “Antoth…Antoth! ” Ratha gasped and took a step back as he rounded on her. The dead look in his eye was unsettling, even to someone like her who killed for a living. She was standing next to Daretho and the high priest of Valta. “Woah, easy there…damn that’s going to be one hell of a scar. ” “You alright, Antoth? ” Daretho asked with concern, taking some solace in the fact that far more enemy bodies surrounded them than friendly. “I’m alive, ” the young male growled, realizing that his master’s final lesson had been truer than all the rest. Death and fate did not wait. “We need to prepare for their return. ” “You have done your part. Now it’s our time to serve. Valta willing, they will never return, ” the elder hunter promised. All Antoth could do was nod. Ratha tried asking him a handful of questions about their quarry, but he could only manage one or two word answers for her. He still could not wrap his head around the fact that he was now the Guardian. In the end, she remained silently at his side for a time, looking down at what the barbarous enemy had done to a proud and beloved Cauthan who had given his life of service to Uthos. She couldn’t bear to look up at Antoth’s face. “I promise you, ” she whispered, voice quivering. She had never seen so many dead Cauthan. “I promise you in Valta’s name there will be blood and vengeance. ” “It won’t bring him back, ” Antoth replied, his voice devoid of anything Ratha could even begin to describe as emotion. She rested a hand on his shoulder. “No it won’t. But I’ll bring you back their heads…Guardian. ” -----.
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