2022.01.28 00:20 crytoloover Avalanche AVAX Arbitrage - Secret Money Making Method With Crypto
2022.01.28 00:20 bitdex Mobile-Only Gaming Universe Coming to Ethereum With Polygon’s Help
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2022.01.28 00:20 Opoyiss Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano mega boxing bout set April 30 at Madison Square Garden
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2022.01.28 00:20 Extension-Review-609 Missing Stock Portfolio Illinois
This is complicated, so I will try to cover all the bases. My father died in January 1992. The will that was filed (which I have reason to question) gave everything to my stepbitch. My father had a stock portfolio with 40 years worth of AT&T Preferred. It was purchased to take care of me. I thought my stepbitch bequeathed it to her daughter since I was disowned as soon as my father died and she got his estate. I was never given an opportunity to file for probate. I recently discovered my former stepsister lives in a modest condo. If she had the stock, she would be living in a mansion. So the questions are where is the portfolio and how would I track it down? I live hand to mouth and need what my father set aside for me. I'm 63 and was born autistic. I don't know where to start. No one responds to me.
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2022.01.28 00:20 Realistic-Beyond-860 A guy I really like wants me to visit him not the other way around
So there’s a guy who’s (33M) I met on Instagram. I’m 23F, I had just followed him as we have several mutual friends and thought he’s so good looking and I had a major crush on him based in what I saw on Instagram. I never messaged him because I honestly don’t like being the one who pursues a guy. So I just left it alone and liked a couple of his pictures. Two months went by and then he finally messaged me by replying to my story about a book I had posted. We’ve been chatting and he suggested that I should come to London to hang out that’s where he lives then I suggested that he should come to my city instead, then he said he’ll come some time but since he started the suggestions I should go to hangout in London first before he comes to me. I haven’t replied this as I’m pretty annoyed, like if he really does want to see where things go with me he’d be eager to see me and plan things but he’s not. What guy wants a girl to travel for him unless he just wants to use them ( I won’t sleep with him) . Idk I’m just really disappointed because I really really like him but we’ve just been talking for a day and I’m not getting the correct vibes.
Am I just over thinking this? Please could I have some good sound advice about my silly matter.
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2022.01.28 00:20 chxrry_bxmb Take it or leave it
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2022.01.28 00:20 2Shotz2Killz Should I castle to develop my rook?
2022.01.28 00:20 dextrose--- Marqbob Brownpants seeks your awards
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2022.01.28 00:20 balsadust Elevators framed up
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2022.01.28 00:20 user-plato test
2022.01.28 00:20 rollandofeaglesrook Painted my first figure today. 4 hours start to finish
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2022.01.28 00:20 Careless-Ad1639 This has 2 meanings
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2022.01.28 00:20 YourBro628 I had fun with photo mode today
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2022.01.28 00:20 Arnadus [TEL] Telcoin. Price 🔥 +2.54% in 15 minutes
2022.01.28 00:20 Snekguy Conjunction | Part 17
“Gods damn it,” he grumbled, reaching for his belt. Slowly, hoping that it would not spur the machines to attack, he unsheathed his enchanted knife. “I need not remind you how dangerous this weapon is,” he added, gingerly handing it off to Kadal.
“I know how to handle a knife!” she snapped. “Do not worry about me, worry about them.”
The first of the golems stepped forward, its clockwork guts whirring and clicking as it raised its sword above its head, the motion far more fluid than Caden had expected.
“Look out!” he yelled, raising the haft of his staff to block the blow as the construct brought the blade down towards his face. It was far stronger than a man, only a rush of energy from Caden’s staff preventing his knees from buckling under the strain, the creature cocking its helmeted head as it seemed to reconsider. Jerking and twitching, it pulled its sword back, its entire torso rotating at the waist as it whirled the blade through the air like a windmill. Caden blocked it again, the strike knocking him off-balance. As he recovered, taking up a defensive stance, the six golems began to advance.
Kadal took up position to his right, holding the enchanted knife blade-down, her frill rising to expose her eyespots.
“I am glad to be fighting by your side this time,” she said, sparing him an appreciative glance.
“I could say the same,” he replied. “These things are not truly alive, Kadal, show them no quarter. I fear that they will not stop until they are utterly dismantled.”
He would have to be careful with his magic in these close quarters, he might inadvertently injure Kadal if he did not remain focused. This fight was different, however. Ever since his battle with the Borophage, his mastery over the staff’s dark influences had been complete, and its power now felt like an extension of his very being more than something to be wrestled with.
Using his stave as a quarterstaff, he parried another blow from his mechanical assailant, its swiftness and strength once again surprising him. Its hide was made from steel, not skin. He would need to devise a way to penetrate it, as though he were dueling a knight from his own kingdom.
There was room enough for three of the things to stand shoulder to armored shoulder, Caden narrowly avoiding a strike from a polearm as a second construct pressed the attack. To his right, Kadal was contending with an axe-wielding adversary, the heavy blade cracking the stone at her feet as she leapt clear of the strike. She was as agile as ever, moving faster than any human could have hoped to, muscles like liquid iron flowing beneath her shining scales.
With a mechanical grinding, her opponent lifted the weapon, sending it whistling through the air. She ducked under the blow as the blade embedded itself deep in the rock wall to her right, the reptile lunging forward. She brought the enchanted dagger to bear, the vein of sapphire glinting as she slashed the golem across its belly. The blade sliced through its steel plating with the ease that Caden had come to expect. It would have been a killing blow had her enemy been made of flesh and blood, but it had no entrails to spill. It barely reacted, pulling its battleaxe free of the wall, and knocking Kadal back with a vicious strike from its haft.
“Don’t slash. Sever!” Caden shouted as he parried another sword swing. “They can’t fight if they don’t have arms!”
He modulated the mass of his staff, swinging it like a club, intercepting the next of his opponent’s attacks. The blow knocked its gauntleted hand aside, and he followed up with another crushing strike that caught it in the face, snapping its head back in a way that would have broken the neck of a normal person. It stood there for a moment, twitching as the gears that made up its innards whirred, its head slowly returning to its normal position. The sculpted steel that made up its visor was dented, but it seemed none the worse for wear. Caden was going to have to hit them harder than that if he wanted to bring them down.
The one wielding the polearm lunged at him again, the blade grazing Caden’s cheek, missing him by a hair’s breadth. The constructs were always marching forward in lockstep, slowly pushing the intruders back down the corridor, away from the marble door. Their gait was so strange, like clockwork toys, their sudden, jerking motions making them hard to predict.
The sword whistled through the air, the flared blade striking the wall to Caden’s left with enough force to chip the chiseled stone, forcing him to take another step back. They had to go on the offensive, or these things would corner them in the stairwell.
Caden hooked the beaked figurehead on the end of his staff behind his assailant’s leg, pulling it off-balance, sending it toppling to the floor. It was far heavier than it looked, the impact shaking the stone beneath his feet. Without missing a beat, he raised his staff above his head, the muscles in his arms and chest bulging as he imbued them with magic. His staff grew heavier, its mass increasing to that of a war hammer, Caden bringing it down on the felled construct’s chest. The armored plate that made up its torso dented inward as though an anvil had been dropped on it, the sound of metal on metal reverberating through the corridor. The thing began to rise again regardless, starting to climb to its feet. It felt no pain, he hadn’t even dazed it.
With a roar of frustration, he lifted his staff again, but two more of the constructs moved to take its place. One stepped over its prone companion, swinging a hammer at him, the steel head bouncing off the stone floor as it narrowly missed him. Caden was forced to retreat, already muttering a spell under his breath.
To his right, Kadal danced out of reach of her opponent, the sound of grinding metal echoing as it lunged at her with its axe. This time, she struck at its weapon, the magic-imbued blade cleaving the leather-bound haft in twain. The heavy axe head clattered to the ground, the construct examining the severed pole with its crimson eyes, whatever simple intelligence the Alfar had given it struggling to decide on a course of action.
Kadal moved quickly, severing the arm that held the haft at the elbow, the steel armor and clockwork providing no resistance against the enchanted blade. The limb dropped to join the axe head on the floor, Caden glimpsing the complex gears and rods that allowed it to move. Undeterred, the thing reached for Kadal with its remaining hand, its metal fingers outstretched. She chopped them off with another whirling strike, removing its hand with the next, then stepping in to drive the knife towards its neck. Only when its helmeted head was sent toppling from its shoulders did the thing finally relent, the red glow of its eyes dimming beneath its visor, its body slumping to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut.
Kadal’s victory was short-lived as its companions stepped over it, forcing her back with more flashing steel. One of them swung a sword, and her reflex was to block it with her blade, the enchanted knife slicing through the metal like butter. The construct didn’t seem to care that its sword was broken, continuing to swing it regardless.
Caden finished his incantation, sending a bolt of lightning flashing towards the nearest golem. It shuddered as the electricity melted a glowing hole in its chest piece, arcing between its internal workings. He could see the spinning gears through the breach, glowing red with heat, but it was not enough to stop the thing. It rewarded him with another sword strike, this one glancing his upper arm as he dodged out of its path, blood soaking his tunic.
More of them turned their red eyes in his direction, drawn either by his blood or his magic, he couldn’t be sure of which.
The head, that was the key. The one that Kadal had killed had stopped moving when its head had been removed. Preparing another swing, Caden willed strands of magic to weave between his muscles, his staff growing so heavy that he could scarcely hold it aloft. The staff’s power dulled the pain in his arm as the nearest clockwork creature advanced, Caden waiting for the right moment…
As the golem with the molten hole in its chest raised its sword, he swung, pouring momentum into the strike. He could feel his bones fracturing under the impact as the bronze figurehead made contact with the construct’s helmet, tearing it from its shoulders with such force that it bounced off the wall on the other side of the passage, narrowly missing another of the golems. The headless body ceased its movement, the sword falling from its grasp as its fingers went slack. Before it even had time to slump to the floor, one of its companions roughly shouldered it out of its path, sending it crashing into the wall.
He heard a cry of alarm from Kadal, turning his head to see her grappling with her opponent. Its broken sword had been knocked out of its hand, and it had caught Kadal’s arm, its metal fingers tightening around her wrist to prevent her from using her knife. As she brought up her other hand in an attempt to pull it away, it grabbed that too, a yelp of anger and pain escaping her lips as the two wrestled. For all of her inhuman strength, she could do little against this mechanical beast, it was like trying to fight off a siege engine with one’s bare hands.
Caden rushed to her aid, lifting his staff over his head, increasing its mass and momentum as he swung it. It impacted the top of the golem’s helmet, crushing the ornate brush and collapsing its head into its torso like a turtle retracting into its shell. Its body ground to a halt as shattered metal was forced into the gears in its chest, jamming them, the red glow of its eyes fading. It released its grip on Kadal, and she darted clear just as it was pushed to the floor by the construct behind it. They just kept coming, they were incapable of feeling fear or doubt.
In his bid to save Kadal, Caden was opened up to an attack, the golem with the war hammer swinging the weapon into his side. Even with magic fortifying his body far beyond human limits, he felt his ribs crack as he was lifted off his feet, sent tumbling across the floor. He heard Kadal’s yell of anger, but she was locked in a duel with another opponent, she could do nothing to help him.
Fortunately, the golems were not swift, and Caden had time to get his bearings before the hammer-wielding construct got close enough for another strike. He rose to his knees, blocking the next blow with his stave, very nearly buckling under its weight. Not even Kadal had been this strong when she had challenged him in the desert.
He deflected the next strike, the hammer cratering into the floor beside him, sending pieces of shattered stone flying through the air. As it raised the weapon again, unrelenting, he focused his magic into its steel head. The weapon grew heavier and heavier, the golem starting to tilt backwards, seemingly unable to account for the change in weight. It staggered back, bumping into its companion, its arms swiveling in their sockets as the hammer impacted the ground behind it.
Taking advantage of the opening, Caden rose to his feet, the bronze falcon at the end of his staff glowing like molten metal. He commanded heat, focusing it on the inner workings of the golem, the metal starting to soften. Now that the weight of its hammer had returned to normal, the construct resumed its attack, but it soon faltered as the gears that powered it turned to slag. It was only a matter of melting enough machinery that it could no longer fight, its body seizing up as though it had been frozen in place.
Beside him, Kadal was still dueling with her opponent, which was leveraging the long reach of its polearm to keep her at bay. Before he could help, the next golem stepped around its disabled friend, its sword flashing. He only just had time to deflect it, the thing pressing the attack as it advanced on him. Wood clashed with metal, the golem moving in ways that no human could, able to completely rotate at the waist and shoulders. He couldn’t predict where the next attack would come from, and so he was kept on the defensive, forced to react.
He suddenly slipped on something, his stomach turning as he fell to the ground. It was one of the patches of ice that he had created to cover the pitfall traps. In all the commotion, he had completely forgotten about them. The golem took full advantage, beginning to harry him with blows, Caden doing his best to block them. On his back like this, he had no leverage, he couldn’t get clear.
The blade of its sword glanced off the haft of his staff, embedding itself in his shoulder, Caden loosing a growl of pain even as he numbed his nerves with magic. It had gone deep enough to chip bone, another stab of agony rocking him as the golem withdrew the blade, now slick with his blood. It felt no triumph, no satisfaction, it merely prepared its next strike with all the callousness of a trebuchet launching its payload. He couldn’t concentrate on his magic with this thing pummeling him, he couldn’t do anything other than try to stop that blade from finding its mark again.
The golem planted its sabaton on his belly, crushing him beneath its weight, holding him there. Caden tried to bat at its leg with his staff, but he had no leverage, he couldn’t do anything besides annoy it. Muttering an incantation frantically, he aimed his staff at the thing, gritting his teeth as it put what felt like the weight of a carthorse on his midsection. Recognizing what he was trying to do, it batted the staff aside, only magic saving it from flying from his hand.
His eyes widened as it drew back its blade, intending to drive its sharp point into his throat. There was a blur of mottled scales as Kadal darted in from his right, pulling her blade from the helmet of her opponent, who was now slumped against the wall. She crossed the distance in the space of a moment, the enchanted dagger whistling as she extended her arm, severing the construct’s right hand at the wrist. It caught her in the face with a back-handed blow from the left, sending her staggering backwards. Her long tail wound its way around the thing’s ankle, Kadal swinging her hips, pulling its leg out from under it.
Caden rolled out of its way as it stumbled, its foot lifting off his belly, feeling the cold ice beneath his hands as he scrambled clear. Kadal leapt through the air, launching herself onto the thing’s back, hissing a war cry as she grappled with it. She wrapped one arm around its neck, her tail coiling around its waist for purchase, clinging to the golem as it reached back in an attempt to grab her. The furious reptile dodged its one remaining hand, her frill flaring as she drove the blade of her dagger into the side of its helmet, burying it up to its ornate hilt.
The construct slowed its struggling, its limbs jerking to a stop, the crimson glow that emanated from the empty sockets of its visor going dark. Kadal jumped down from its back as it fell, slamming face-first into the floor, shattering the ice. The impact triggered the pitfall, the trap door opening, Kadal dancing away as the heavy suit of armor was sent crashing into the depths.
Caden rose to his feet, leaning on his staff, one hand clutching his bloody shoulder.
“Are you alright!?” she demanded, skidding a little on another sheet of ice as she rushed to his side. She began to hug him, then thought better of it, looking him up and down. “You are hurt!”
“Nothing...a little magic...can’t fix,” he grunted. He was already starting to heal, drawing energy from the felled golems. While they weren’t alive, the magic that animated them was no different from that of a plant or a beast, he could use it to power his spell. Torn flesh knitted back together, fractured bone healing, his mind becoming sharper as the fog of pain began to abate.
“You didn’t come out of that fight unscathed either,” he said, the spell letting him see that her wrist was fractured.
“It is nothing,” she insisted, watching as he took his weight off his staff.
“Nonsense,” he continued, reaching out to take her arm in his hand. She winced as he began to mend the breaks, Caden pouring his energy into the bones, willing them to set. When it was done, he released her hand, Kadal flexing her fingers as she rubbed her forearm.
“Thanks for saving my skin again,” he added, Kadal’s frill fluttering. She was either relieved, or pleased with herself. Maybe a little of both. “I’m starting to lose count of how many times this quest would have failed without your help.”
“What kind of guard would I be if I abandoned my charge?” she replied, exposing her pointed teeth in a grin. They shared an embrace for a few moments, Caden wrapping his arms around her midriff, the coolness of her scales on his cheek calming the racing of his heart. Kadal responded in kind, nestling her clawed fingers in his hair, her tail coiling around him possessively.
“Are you sure they are dead?” she asked, turning to glance at the fallen constructs that still clogged the passageway.
“I’m sure,” he replied, releasing her from his grasp. He straightened his tunic, reminding himself that their ordeal was not yet over. “Their magic is leaving them, whatever enchantment that was cast on them has been dispelled.”
Kadal handed his knife back to him, Caden sliding it back into its sheath, wary of its sharp edge. He had been wrong to doubt her, she hadn’t even nicked herself with it.
“Come on,” he said, stepping over one of the lifeless suits of armor as he made his way back down the passage. He skirted the open pit, leaning over to see a glint of steel in its depths. “Let’s see if we can find a way through that door.”
They approached the black marble, Caden waving his staff to create another shower of shining dust, his attention drawn to its gilded handle.
“This handle is false,” he announced. “It holds a dangerous enchantment, one that would kill whoever touches it by conjuring a flash of electricity. There must be some other way to open it...”
He examined the door’s inner workings, finding that all was not as it seemed. There was indeed a lock hidden within the marble, the keyhole so small as to be imperceptible, located at the center of the block. Speaking the right password was not the only way to gain entry. Unlocking it would retract a series of bolts that extended deep into grooves in the wall, allowing it to swing open.
“I can’t get at this lock with my knife,” Caden muttered, “it won’t fit in the gap.”
“Can you smash through, as you did with the wall?” Kadal suggested.
“Maybe. Marble is a pretty brittle rock, but the enchantment that it holds might be too powerful for me to break. It seems to negate magic, as the lock on the first door that we encountered did. The surrounding stone is not enchanted, however. If I can break it, the bolts will come loose. This isn’t made from limestone, though, looks like granite. This is going to take a lot of force to break.”
He targeted the area where the steel bolts extended into the wall, calling upon his staff’s power, drawing it back like a woodsman preparing to cut down a tree. He slammed it into the rock, then drew it back again, repeating the strike. Over and over, he struck the doorframe, his muscles starting to burn, strands of energy enhancing his strength. Chips of rock began to fall from it, fractures slowly forming, Kadal watching in awe as it began to break. He exposed one of the metal rods, then another, Caden finally lowering his staff as the last bolt was revealed.
“That did it,” he panted, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Stand back, I’m going to open it.”
He gripped one of the bolts in his hand, pulling the heavy door ajar, the ancient block of marble creaking on hinges that had not seen use in eons. Beyond it was a gaping maw, pitch black, so shrouded in shadow that he couldn’t make out a thing.
“There are no light shafts in here,” Caden said, casting another cloud of glittering particles into the air as he stepped into the dark room. Kadal followed after him, her tongue darting out to taste the musty air. It was like being in a sealed crypt, the eerie silence making Caden’s skin crawl.
He muttered an incantation under his breath, the bronze figurehead on the end of his staff lighting up, bathing the chamber in a pale glow that cast wavering shadows.
The vault was circular, maybe fifty feet wide, the domed ceiling rising high above their heads. At the center of the room was a raised platform made from the same jet-black marble as the door, octagonal in shape, unusually spartan when compared to the fineries that they had encountered above ground. There were no statues, no engravings, no golden trim. There was only a set of steps carved into its near face, leading up to a strange sculpture hewn from the dark stone. It looked like the claws of some beast, as though the cupped hands of a demon had been raised in supplication, just high enough to be at chest-level to the average person.
Nestled in their palms was a sphere about the size of a human head, perfectly round, its smooth surface devoid of any imperfections. More than that, Caden found that he could not see its surface. Even shrouded in shadow, and sitting upon pitch-black marble, it was so much darker than its surroundings that it more resembled a hole in reality than a physical object. It seemed to bend light around itself, giving off not the slightest reflection, not even casting a shadow on the marble behind it.
“The black stone,” Kadal whispered, “just like in my dreams.” “Is this...really it?” Caden wondered as he gazed about the room. “Can we just walk up and take it? Somehow, I expected this to be more difficult.”
“You shall go no further,” a booming voice declared. It was loud enough that Caden felt it reverberate in his bones, echoing off the chiseled walls, Kadal hissing an alarm as she dropped low to the ground like a cat preparing to pounce. A ring around the marble platform began to move, Caden aiming his staff at it, illuminating the shifting circle. No, it was no ring. There was a bowl-shaped recess around the pedestal, and there was something inside it, something that was now slithering.
From the circular recess rose a creature, a great snake large enough to wrap around the entire room, rearing up until it towered over the pair. Its head must have been thirty feet in the air, a pair of eyes burning with a red glow, illuminating its dark hide. Caden put himself between it and Kadal, casting his light on it, seeing that it was no living thing. This was an artificial construct, just like the golems that they had encountered in the passage outside. Its hide was made from shards of black stone that had been carved to resemble scales, clockwork mechanisms glimpsed between the gaps. He could hear it, the sound of its stone belly grating against the floor, the clicking and whirring of its metal guts. The construct of machinery and magic opened its jaws, revealing pointed fangs of white pearl, fixing the pair with a gaze that cast them in a crimson spotlight.
“Why do you intrude upon this place?” it demanded, the tone of its voice so deep and gravelly that Caden had to concentrate to understand it. The beast had a consciousness, some kind of mind from which his translation spell was discerning meaning.
“W-what are you?” he asked in return, gripping his staff as he tried to overcome his alarm. This construct was different from the rest, the ones that they had encountered thus far hadn’t spoken. “Are you the steward of this place?”
“It speaks with a foreign tongue,” the construct boomed, shifting its gaze to Kadal. She was terrified, Caden could see her shaking, but she remained fierce in her defiance as she bared her teeth at the thing. “This one is not of the Alfar, but you...you are of the guard. Tell me why you have brought this jabbering creature to my vault, scaled-one.”
Could it not understand Caden? He had only cast the translation spell on himself and Kadal, so it would have no way of knowing his language. It had been hibernating in this vault for thousands of years.
“The...the guard?” she repeated.
“You are protector, guardian, honored servant of my masters,” it replied. Incredible, it understood what Kadal had said. Could it be that her kind had preserved their language for such a length of time? They were an insular people, they had been exposed to no outside influences that might have corrupted their native tongue.
“It wants to talk to you!” Caden hissed, his bewildered companion sparing him a confused glance. “It doesn’t understand me, it doesn’t know what I am, but it recognizes you! You have to convince it that we mean no harm!”
Kadal nodded, rising from her crouched position as she addressed the monstrous snake. He was tempted to advise her to lie, to tell the creature that its creators still roamed these halls, but perhaps it was better to just tell the truth. They couldn’t guess at what it knew, whether it had slept in this dark vault over the millennia, or if it had been aware of every passing second.
“My people once served your masters, the Alfar,” she replied, trying to control the wavering of her voice. “I have seen the statues and monuments in the ruins above. The city lies deserted, its people long since vanished. My kind endure in the Coral Sea to the West, we maintain our vigil, protecting the sanctity of this place from any who would dare trespass upon its hallowed ground.”
The golem was listening, its glowing eyes still fixed on her.
“Then we are both relics of a bygone age,” it replied, the sound of grating stone and clanking gears filling the chamber with its every word. “Your sworn duty is to defend the walls of this city, while my singular purpose is to guard the sunken star. That our masters are long dead does not release us from our oath, for our task is too important. The sunken star represents a power too great to be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.”
“This man has traveled far in search of it,” she added, gesturing to Caden. “He has overcome many trials in his quest, and I have judged him worthy of its possession. He is honorable, studious, his motives are pure.”
Caden gave her an appreciative glance. It had not been so long ago that she had thought him evil, a monster that was set on ending the world. Now, she was pleading his case in front of a creature that could probably crush them like insects with one swipe of its tail.
The stone serpent’s red glare turned back to him, bathing Caden in red light as it scrutinized him.
“None can possess the sunken star,” the thing replied, its voice shaking the ground beneath their feet. “It cannot leave this vault.”
“Tell it that the world’s orbit is degrading, just as it did all those centuries ago,” Caden insisted. “Tell it that if it does not let us make use of the artifact, all of creation will be extinguished.”
“We seek only to correct an imbalance,” Kadal continued, pleading with the golem. “The world is spiraling into the sun, and without the power of the sunken star, it will surely be consumed in celestial fire. Our masters forged the black stone to prevent that. If you do not help us, there will be nothing left for you to guard, it will be the end of all things.”
“You are well-informed,” the serpent replied, the innumerable gears that powered its stone body grinding as it brought a head the size of a horse-drawn carriage down closer to Kadal. “You are of the guard, you know the purpose of the sunken star’s creation, and you know of the calamity that befell the masters. But do you understand the artifact? Do you know how to wield it, how it can influence mass and gravity? Do you understand the consequences of improperly manipulating a singularity in an attempt to alter the orbit of a planet? You might just as easily rend this world into a million shards, compact it down to the size of a grain of sand.”
“Influence mass and gravity,” Caden repeated, lost in thought for a moment. “Yes! Kadal, I can do this! I have mastered this magic, albeit on a small scale. It’s how I am able to break stone with my staff, how I was able to raise the portcullis at the city gate. I have studied the Alfar orbital model, I know their calculations, I read the notes left by their magi!”
“What does it say?” the stone serpent hissed, glancing at Caden.
“He knows what to do,” Kadal replied. “He is a skilled sorcerer, he studied the work of the Alfar in the observatory above. Please, for all our sakes, let him try!”
The creature considered, rearing back up into the air, its red glare turning back to Caden.
“I will allow it,” it finally replied. “The sunken star cannot be moved from the pedestal, its weight is beyond measure. Ascend the steps, and place your hands near it, but do not touch it. To do so would result in your body being torn asunder by gravitational forces powerful enough to shake the foundations of the earth. If you are what you claim to be, then you will need no further instruction.”
“Okay,” Caden muttered, watching as the towering golem slithered out of his path. “Don’t touch the orb, understood...”
He made his way up to the foot of the steps, then turned to look back at Kadal, his companion giving him a nod of encouragement. While he knew how to manipulate mass, how to manipulate magic to make something weigh more or less than it should, he had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be quite that straightforward. All that he could do was try.
His footsteps echoed off the black marble as he mounted the steps, arriving at the top of the octagonal pedestal, the sculpture of the cupped hands standing before him. The black stone was even stranger up close, its surface lacking any detail, making it look like a two-dimensional ink blot that had soaked into the fabric of reality. The way that it bent light around itself defied all logic, giving him a feeling of nausea as his mind tried to make sense of it, the warped ring that surrounded the sphere following him wherever he went like the eyes of a portrait.
A powerful magic surrounded it, he could feel it lingering in the air, an enchantment that had been cast to contain this artifact. When he stared into that dark mass, blacker than pitch, he got a sense of its weight. It was incalculable, defying the laws of physics as he knew them, a mass that rivaled the planets themselves shrunken down to an object scarcely larger than his head. How had the Alfar created this? What arcane magic had led them here?
He lay down his staff, then reached out with trembling hands, pushing them through the tingling barrier of magic. The atmosphere around it was so heavy, thick like soup, as though whatever made it through the enchantment was squashed and compacted. His own hands were drawn to it, pulled in by a kind of inexorable magnetism, but he resisted it with the help of his staff’s fortifying magic.
“Come on,” he muttered to himself, feeling the gaze of both Kadal and the golem as they watched him intently. “This is a magical artifact like any other. It was designed to be wielded...”
Caden opened his mind to its magic, feeling the ebb and flow of its gravitational tides, the waves crashing against the shores of reality. It was so complex, like the eye of a hurricane, its currents churning in and around one another ceaselessly. There was so much, it threatened to overwhelm him, but he steeled himself as he pressed on.
There was a sudden sense of weightlessness, a jolt coursing through him, leaving him numb. His consciousness had left his body, ascending towards the domed ceiling, Caden vaguely aware of seeing himself standing on the pedestal far below. Was this astral projection? Some kind of vision brought about by the stone? He was soon whisked higher, through rock and sand, blue skies growing ever darker as he was catapulted into the heavens. He was quickly plunged into a sea of black, the cold pinpoints of stars twinkling all around him, clearer and brighter than he had ever beheld them.
When he looked down, he could not see his body, he could feel no sensations. He could not draw breath, he could not hear the beating of his heart, he couldn’t so much as wiggle a finger. Beneath him was the world, an immense sphere of blue and white, covered in swirling clouds. He could see the oceans, the great expanses of water shimmering beneath the unfiltered glare of the sun, the continents more vast than anything that he had imagined.
It shrank as he climbed higher, soon no larger than his fist, the pale moon visible as it hung in the darkness beside it. He could see the sun now, a churning ball of boiling gas of such incredible size that it could have devoured the world a thousand times over, loops of plasma reaching up from its roiling surface. It was no pristine, untouchable sphere, it was in a state of perpetual chaos.
More than simply seeing, Caden could feel these objects. He could sense their size, their mass, the forces that they exerted upon one another. More planets crept in at the corners of his awareness, until he was visualizing something that looked very much like the sculpture in the observatory, the celestial orbs spinning around one another at speeds that he could scarcely comprehend.
But as overwhelming as it all was, he understood it intuitively. There was a simplicity behind their complex interactions. It was all driven by nothing more than physics in its most basic form, no harder to grasp than an apple falling from a tree.
The complex charts and calculations of the Alfar magi made more sense to him now that he could witness their mathematics in action. The sweeping curves of the orbits, the predictive models, it all fell into place as he felt the masses tug at one another across the void. He could see where his planet’s orbit would take it, like water spiraling down a drain, and he could see what must be done to correct it.
The sunken star was a tool far simpler than he had anticipated. Its immense mass could be projected, modulated, focused in one place to influence the objects around it. The fabric of reality was like a blanket stretched taut, and the planets were as marbles sitting atop it. The heavier the marble, the more of a dip it created in the blanket, and the more influence it exerted over its neighbors. Caden just had to press down on that fabric, to create a new mass, one that would nudge the world back into its intended orbit. He was going from manipulating masses that might weigh as much as a blacksmith’s anvil, to masses that exceeded the weight of suns, but the principle remained the same. Just as he willed the magical strands in his staff to increase its weight, so too did he call upon the sunken star, knowing intuitively where to concentrate it. He was as a God, he felt as though he could have held the world in the palm of his hand, the unfathomable power getting the better of him for a moment.
Caden quickly reigned in his emotions, focusing on his task. He saw the Master in his mind’s eye, he could smell the musty library back in the tower, he remembered how green the fields and forests of his homeland had once been. He thought of Kadal, the taste of her kiss, the coolness of her smooth scales beneath his fingertips. If this was what being a God was like, adrift alone in an immaterial plane, devoid of all sensation, then he wanted no part in it.
He commanded the sunken star, feeling the influence that it exerted over the world growing as its mass increased. He could see the path of the planet’s orbit with such clarity that it might well have been drawn on parchment, gradually shifting in response to his actions. It was like balancing on the edge of a knife. Too far from the sun, and the world would freeze. Too close, and it would burn. The singularity had to be near enough to nudge the planet, but not to send it hurtling into the frozen expanse. Large enough to change its orbit in time to make a difference, but not so large that its gravitational tides would tear the world apart.
What had caused this imbalance, he could not say with any certainty. It was as though another mass had disturbed the orbit of the world, something introduced from beyond the sun’s reach that had come under its influence, something foreign. It must have been flung far beyond his sight by now, its orbit carrying it out into the dark expanse. Perhaps it would take another five thousand years to return, and it would once again wreak havoc upon the world. For now, he knew what had to be done to fix the problem.
Inch by inch, a million leagues by a million leagues, he gently eased the world into a stable orbit. The temperature was right, the tilt of the planet would bring the seasons as he remembered them, and the days would return to their normal length. He had added a few days to the year, but he could live with that…
His task complete, he willed himself to return to his body, plunging through wispy clouds as he fell. If he still had a stomach, it would have been turning, the desert below rushing up at him as though he had jumped from the top of the world. In a flash, he was back in his body, Caden sucking in a gasping breath like a drowning man surfacing for air. His first reaction was to tear his hands away from the sunken star, losing his footing in the process, and stumbling backwards towards the steps. Kadal was there to catch him, cradling him in her arms, her amber eyes brimming with concern as she peered down at him.
“Caden!” she exclaimed, “are you alright?”
“I...I did it,” he replied weakly, all of the strength drained him his body by the ordeal. He felt dizzy, weak, like he could barely keep his eyes open. “I...fixed...it.”
“It is done,” the golem said, its booming voice filling the vault. “Your business here has concluded, you must leave now.”
“Wait!” Kadal said, the snake turning its red eyes on her. “There are so many questions that I wanted to ask you, about the Alfar, about my people!”
“I know no more than my station requires,” it replied, starting to slither back into the circular recess in the stone floor. “I shall sleep until I am needed again.”
“But...your masters are gone, the city lies deserted.” “Few are so privileged as to know the purpose of their existence,” it said, its red eyes starting to dim as it lowered its head. “I will fulfill that purpose until time renders me unable.”
It closed its jaws around the tip of its stone tail, the grinding of its gears going silent, the ruby glow of its eyes vanishing to leave only the light from Caden’s staff as it lay on the pedestal at his side. The great serpent had become no more than a statue now, a part of the room itself, no more animate than the cold stone that surrounded them.
“Caden,” Kadal whispered, turning her attention back to him as he lay in her arms. “Are you hurt? Should I fetch your staff?”
He reached up to cup her cheek in his hand, running his fingers across her cool scales.
“I’ll be fine,” he replied, giving her a weak smile. “I’m just...a little tired.”
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2022.01.28 00:20 Jeffrey77789 Working tradeing
Hello everyone as we know that some are mean when it comes to working tradeing they tell you to leave or block you why do people do this? I get that some people don't like being interrupted while doing so but wouldn't it be a lot nicer and better if people would be open to trading as a group
submitted by Jeffrey77789 to AvakinOfficial [link] [comments]
2022.01.28 00:20 sumtingnaff What are you doing step radstag?
2022.01.28 00:20 vinxavi7 EVGA 850w PSU + 3080
Does it matter which end of the VGA power cables go? I like the look better having 3 x 8 PIN solid connectors on the GPU vs having to connect using the 4+2 side and having the daisy chain connector just hanging out doing nothing.
submitted by vinxavi7 to EVGA [link] [comments]
2022.01.28 00:20 ireneisdead How's the weather?
I haven't been to EDC in 5 years when it used to be in June. I remember days and nights were terribly hot. Should I expect the same for May? Been reading historical weather data that weather gets cooler at night and it's the windiest month. What clothes should I pack for the festival?
submitted by ireneisdead to electricdaisycarnival [link] [comments]
2022.01.28 00:20 micheys Calc Problems
2022.01.28 00:20 Complex_Mix_415 Dating advice
I have been dating someone exclusively for a few months. Things have been great. We made plans for tonight and he cancelled this morning. He hasn’t called or sent a text since then, which is unusual. Do I message him or do I pause and see if he reaches out tomorrow? I hate games and feeling like I’m not that important. Ugh. Advice please….
submitted by Complex_Mix_415 to datingoverforty [link] [comments]
2022.01.28 00:20 Calexcherry Long overdue but here are Akihiro's parents and his grandfather
|submitted by Calexcherry to BNHA_OC_Characters [link] [comments]|