New Featured Artist Leobo!
Which way will the story turn, and who will come out on top in What a Twist? Tune in to find out!
Check out Lyons of Kosma
"Lyons of Kosma" is the story Andrew, a young lion lost between universes on the beautiful and dangerous alien world of Kosma.<br/><br/>
Aided by his brilliant parents who are back on Earth, both of whom work as defense contractors, who discover a way of sending their son advanced defensive and offensive weaponry, "Lyons of Kosma" follows Andrew across it's surreal, fantasy landscape, in his quest to contact his parents and find a way home.
AnthroDynamics, GDPR, and You
GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation. It is an EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the export of that personal data outside of the EU. However, there are certain points that should be noted, and we'll discuss those. You have individual rights when it comes to your account and data, the two primary of these being the Right to be Informed and the Right to Erasure.
The Right to be Informed
Lawful Bases for Processing
We store a small amount of data in cookies. These are used to authorize user accounts when you re-visit the community. Other cookies are used to provide a service at the user's request, such as changing the Theme.
Why go through all of this?
GDPR is all about being a good steward of the stored data of our users. Note that there is no requirement under the GDPR to delete or remove any information sent to the server by our users. While we do offer you the option to delete your account to comply with the Right to Erasure, it will be at our discretion if we remove all user-submitted content from that account, with the remainder being anonymized. The analogy with this is that it's similar to email: once someone sends you an email, you aren't obligated to delete that email. The same is true of user posted content. Ultimately though, we want our users to feel comfortable in using our services, knowing that their data is ultimately theirs.
Twitch.tv embeds are finally enabled! Still working on Picarto (Sorry, their API is kinda terrible). Some blocks on the home page were updated with a "Show More" button. (Ok ok, namely the Dev Blog and the new Journals block....sue me.) Two more themes are in the works, but uh....they're not quite ready to roll out yet. So there. Have that. Small update is small, but an update nonetheless. If you all have any questions, suggestions, or comments, you're always free to post them in the Q&A Forum.
1. Facebook Login
With the recent news of the possibly illegal usage of User Data by Cambridge Analytica, we have some changes regarding Facebook integration with AnthroDynamics. We have permanently removed the ability to create an account using your Facebook credentials. Furthermore, we have also disabled logging in to accounts using Facebook as an authentication method. Users who have previously created an account with Facebook will continue to be able to use their AnthroDynamics account. All that requires is the account's display name and the password you set when first logging in. If you need help, you can use the Contact Us link at the bottom of every page, or the Reset Password functionality on the login screen. Please note that the sharing links for content will still work.
2. Google Maps
In an effort to remove all tracking software and integrations from AD, once 4.3 launches we will be swapping out Google Maps with MapBox. Because maps are used in Calendar events (for instance, when adding a venue), this is one of the central features that we feel needed changing. We will make this move as soon as it is feasible to do so.
I hope this clears up our stance, and shows our commitment to protecting our community and its users' data.
Clubs will be seeing some major feature changes when the 4.3 update goes live. On the top of this list is Paid Clubs. This means that a Club Owner can choose to monetize their club monthly. There are several options for this feature:
For open clubs, the user will be immediately prompted for payment. Once paid, they are automatically added to the club. For closed clubs, the user will need to request to join as normal. Once the club owner has accepted the application, the user will be able to pay the membership fee and join as normal. For private and read-only clubs (Read-only clubs are also a new feature!), users have to be invited to join the club by the club owner. Public clubs are public, and so these cannot be set as Paid clubs. Club owners can also chose to waive the membership fee, allowing certain users to join the club for free (by invite). If a member fails to pay their renewal fees, they are moved into an "expired" state. All club owners can see the status and renewal dates of their members, and use the filter tools located in the Members panel to see active or expired members.
Paying out these membership fees is done just as it is with our marketplace feature. You can request a payout through PayPal (so long as your account has over $40 in any given week). Payouts are processed (currently, at the time of this writing) on Fridays.
New Club Type: Read-Only. In addition to open, closed, private, and public, we have added a new club type with this update. In a read-only club, everyone can (without joining) view everything in the club. They may not participate unless they are invited by the club leader, however.
We have also enabled Club Leaders to fully moderate their clubs, including adding and removing content sections. We hope that these changes will make Clubs a more user-friendly and active feature in the community.
Gallery will also be seeing a major overhaul in terms of functionality. For one, the uploading interface has changed dramatically:
Gone is the somewhat confusing interface. The aim here is simplicity and functionality. Choose which category you want to post in, choose if you want to use an existing album or create a new one. Here on AnthroDynamics, we will likely remove the option to continue without using an album when Update 4.3 is live. Along with this change is a change to the upload interface itself. No more refreshing between images required!
As you can see, you can now edit the caption, the description (and if we had remembered to enable it on the test!) the tags, all from the same upload interface. Setting credit, copyright, and notifications on all your images should be much simpler now. Images will ALSO support drag-and-drop reorganizing on this page. You won't have to use "Page 1" "Page 2" and so forth. You can manually reposition all of your images. The description field is a paired down editor box, but as you can see you can swap to our WYSIWYG editor at any time.
Images should also process much faster than currently. The way these are saved and uploaded has been changed.
Albums are getting a major change as well. Album creators can now create "Shared" albums. When you create a new album, you can now specify (Under the new Privacy Menu) who can submit to the album. These options are: only me, anyone, only the users I specify, only the groups I specify.
Another great feature coming with Update 4.3 is a new Gallery layout!
As you can see, images when selected from anywhere will automatically load straight into lightbox. The new lightbox is greatly improved over the one currently in use. Not only will it have more noticeable karats to move from image to image, it is also touch and swipe responsive (for our mobile users).
Only a few minor changes in the marketplace. The only one on the front-end will be that the content-starter can now leave one reply to reviews.
Twitch.tv embed support is coming! You will be able to drop a twitch.tv link into the editor, and our WYSIWYG editor will automatically embed it. Search will be receiving an interface overhaul along with the functionality changes mentioned in a previous developer blog. We will be swapping to the new Invisible reCaptcha, so that users won't need to go through the full reCaptcha process unless the system flags for some reason. And we will be switching to Mapbox for maps (off of Google Maps) for use with Calendar.
Currently, Update 4.3 is in alpha stages, but we hope these insights are helpful to you all!
Recent Marketplace Items
By Kindar in Missing Son 0The Missing Son 17
The call had reached him while he was going through the monthly expenses of the security agency he'd bought the year before, just to have something to do. The company had been a mess of illegal operations committed by employees wanted across multiple continents.
"Damian," Dominic was crying. "There's been an accident, Dad's hurt bad."
"Alright," Damian answered, comparing two pages, money was still disappearing.
"Damian, please, listen to me, Dad's hurt. He's at the Memorial, you have to come."
There was a loud sigh. Of all his brothers Dominic was the one who knew how best to deal with Damian's detached attitude, not that it meant he didn't dislike him as much as everyone else.
"He's your father too. He'd want to see you. You can act like you care about him, can't you?"
Damian considered telling his brother he had more important things to deal with right now, like an embezzler. but something in Dominic's tone made him pause.
"Just how badly is he hurt?"
"Pretty bad. I don't know the details, they just took him out of the operating room and he's resting. All the doctor will tell me is that it's serious."
Brian would understand if he didn't show, and Damian didn't care what his brothers thought about him, but still, as his son, he would be expected to put in an appearance.
"Alright, I'm on my way."
* * * * *
When he reached the waiting room everyone was there, even his uncles, Bobby and Byron, they were holding each other, crying. Dietrich was in sweatpants and a jacket over his bare chest. He must have been competing close by to make it here this quickly.
Dominic hugged him, still crying, and Damian hugged him back. "How is he?"
Dominic dried his eyes. "I don't know. The doctor hasn't been back since I called you and the nurse won't let us in to talk with dad."
"Okay, I'll deal with him, but first what exactly happened?"
Dominic breathed in. "I was at the garage, seeing Harry. We'd finished fucking in Dad's office and were just talking in the afterglow when we heard metal break and crash to the floor. We rushed out and one of the lift had broken and the car fell on dad. I called 911 while the others got the car off him."
"What was he doing on the floor?" Damian asked. Brian owned the garage, he had twenty employees, he had no business standing anywhere near one of the cars.
"You know dad. He loves working on cars. Fuck I should have been keeping an eye on him instead of having fun with Harry."
Damian agreed with his brother but didn't say it. He could see it wouldn't change anything, and to say it would hurt him. He'd promised not to hurt his brothers.
"What happened next?"
"They're raised the car off him by the time the ambulance arrived but we didn't dare move him. He was in bad shape, bleeding a lot, but he was breathing. I rode in the ambulance with him and they took him directly to operate on him. I was so out of it that I didn't think to call anyone. Someone from the garage called Donny. When he and Danny showed up that's when I thought to call you."
"Okay, you go sit down, I'll go see him and let you know how he's doing."
Dominic crumbled in the nearest chair.
Damian stepped to the nurse, a tall gorilla, Silverback, by the gray poking out of the back of his uniform. He stepped in front of the door as Damian reached him and crossed his arms over his chest.
"No one's going in." He stated.
"That is my father."
"I don't care. the doc said he needs rest. No one's seeing him for a few hours."
Damian smiled at him. "You are going to let me in."
The gorilla returned the smile but bared his teeth. "If I didn't let in that wall of muscle over there, what makes you think I'm going to let you in?"
Damian quickly went through what he'd noticed on his way. wedding band, married, well groomed, she takes care of him, but he looks haggard, he has children, young.
Damian dropped the smile. "How many children do you have?"
The question took the nurse by surprise and he took a moment before answering. "Three."
"The oldest, four years old?"
"Four and a half."
Damian nodded. The look was the same as he remembered on Brian's face while he was trying to keep up with him, Dietrich, Donald and Daniel.
"I take it you love your children, and your wife?"
"Good." Damian looked at his watch. "If you don't let me into the room so I can see my father within the next five minutes, I am going to leave the hospital and drive to your house. Since you have three children and make good money here your wife is at home. You will warn her that I'm coming, but that isn't going to help her. I am going to subdue her, tie her down and then slowly cut up your children in front of her."
"Are you fucking threatening me?" the gorilla growled.
Damian got in his face. he didn't have to work at making his expression menacing. Dominic had told him that his neutral expression looked like he was a stone-cold killer.
"No," Damian stated quietly, "I am threatening your family. You, I will leave here to suffer in the knowledge that you could have saved them."
Damian saw the rage flourish in the gorilla's face.
"If you lay one hand on me, I will break all your limbs, then I will see my father, and then, I will go visit your family. Think very carefully about what you do next."
The anger was replaced by confusion. The gorilla looked at Damian, then around, back at him, the confusion was gone now, replaced by fear. He stepped aside.
Damian entered the room. He was assaulted by the smell of disinfectant and the sound of the machines helping Brian stay alive. What wasn't covered by a thin sheet of bandages had been shaved.
They had reset both the legs, pins were holding them in place, as was one arm. By the type of brace holding the other arm in place that one had been crushed. Brian's breathing was labored even with the machine's help. His lungs weren't working right.
He took the chart and read it. The spine was broken in three places. The operation had been to realigned it and reattach the nerves. Now they could only hope it had been done early enough they would fuse properly. He read the rest of the notes and comments on what else they had found during the operation.
He had read the entire medical library out of boredom during his first year at the university, so he understood what the expressions used meant. He'd taken psychology and that had proved so easy he'd gone there looking for something more challenging to read.
It didn't look good.
Damian felt something at the realization Brian wasn't going to make it out of the hospital alive. It surprised him, because he didn't love his father. He'd never felt anything but respect for this man who had raised him without fear. The only person who had known him and not been afraid of him. For all that they did love him, his brothers were afraid of him. He didn't hold it against them, they were right to be afraid.
But Brian didn't. He had seen concern in that man's eyes, worry at time, love often, he could recognize the emotion even if he didn't feel it, but never fear. And Damian was now realizing that meant something to him.
"Hey dad," he whispered, standing next to the bed and calling him the way Brian wanted to be called, the one that made him feel like Damian cared for him, even if he knew it was a lie.
"Damian," Brian croaked, his voice weak. "How bad?"
"Very bad Dad."
Brian was silent for a moment. "I'm not making it, am I?"
Damian didn't answer immediately. Was this one of those time when it was better to lie? Could he lie to his man? They had promised they would never lie to each other, and Brian had kept up his end.
"No, Dad, you're not going to make it."
Brian nodded weakly.
"Damian, promise me something. Promise you'll look after our family."
"I will, dad."
Brian turned his head in obvious pain. "Promise me."
Damian didn't want to make another promise. He didn't want to bind himself to something as long ranging as that. But Brian knew him too well. He continued looking at him despite the pain. Damian could walk out, He didn't have to say anything.
But he owed this man too much. "I promise."
Brian let his head settle back. "Thank you. And try not to hurt too many people."
"I'll try." At least Brian hadn't made him promise that. He'd promised not to hurt his brothers when he was four, to only hurt people who deserved it two years after that. Another promise like that would have been troublesome.
"I think I'm doing to sleep now."
"Alright dad." Damian turned to leave, then stopped. He came back and kissed Brian on the forehead. This was the proper son to father behavior in this situation, wasn't it?
The gorilla eyed him wearily and Damian smiled at him.
"How is he?" Dominic asked, Dietrich and Daniel a step behind him. Donald was seated on the couch, looking after their children, who at eight seemed to be taking it better than the adults, but it was their second death in only a little more than a year. They might have been inured to this by their great grand father's death.
Damian only shrugged, before sitting in the first seat he saw. He'd never promised to be truthful to them, and he expected they would be more comfortable believing there was hope.
He had to think. If he was going to take care of the family he needed to change his plans. The security company couldn't accommodate what was needed. It would still play a part, but now he needed something larger.
To accomplish what Brian asked of him he needed more money, more power. It would have to be a multinational. He couldn't limit his action to a local arena, he was going to have to remake the world.
While he thought, he was aware of a code blue in Brian's room. His brothers expressing concern, then relief. They argued, blamed each other for the situation. Sometime later there was a second code blue.
Doctors rushed in. There was furious activity in Brian's room, then it was silent. He looked up when he noticed the mass of people leaving the room, and his brothers and uncles entering it. He checked his watch, twelve hours since he'd sat down.
He went to the door and looked in. Dominic, who was on the other side of the bed noticed him.
"He's gone," was all he said.
Damian nodded, looked at the others, who were focused on Brian, and left. He didn't care what people thought. Let them think he was overwhelmed by Brian's death and couldn't tolerate staying here. Brian was dead, there was no reason for him to stay, it was that simple.
He had more important things to do. He had to set plans in motion to ensure his family's survival.
* * * * *
He put the frame back on his desk. Things would have been different if he hadn't made that promise, but they certainly wouldn't have been quite this interesting.
"Mister Orr?" Alice called. "Your three O'clock is here."
"Thank you, Alice, send Mister Hammer in."
Damian leaned back in his chair and watched the fox cross the space to his desk. He still walked wearily, as if at any moment Damian might jump out an attack him.
Damian was amused at the reaction, After six interview the man should know he had nothing to fear. Although, Damian supposed, the things he had learned during those conversations could make a less rational man uncomfortable.
"So, Nicolas," Damian said once the man was seated. "What do you want to cover in this session."
The fox took out his recorder and placed on the desk. He didn't immediately say anything. Damian could see him weigh how badly he wanted answers. Finally Nicolas' face took on a professional air. "Last week, you mentioned you had some sort of interaction with Bannerson Pharmaceutical. I'd like you to go into details about what happened.
Damian smiled at his biographer. That had been such a good time. "It started when Bannerson bought farm land out from under me."
By BigPuppyStuart in Gai'talar setting 0CONCEPTS OF MAGIC
Kasha/ Mana/ framdt: A caster's internal reserves of magical energy that refills over time. The rate at which it refills vary from person to person as does how much energy they hold. Through practice and training both of these can be improved as well as learning to be more effecient in its use. Some casters compare it to a muscle, it improves as you use it. A wizard that has exhausted their Kasha while not feel physically tired and can go on to fight physically. Kasha fills faster while someone sleeps but since there is no physical tiredness associated with being out of Kasha Napping to refill it is not always viable.
Varkash: The magical energy of the cosmos, this is thought to be unlimited and the source from which thinking beings fill Kasha from.
Converting: This is a practice in which life energies or physical well being is converted to magical energies. It is not fully known how this is as it seems people learn how to do it differently. The most notible example of this was a Skitritch who learned to convert body fat into magical energy so he would gain weight then loose it rapidly after doing grand powerful things. Most others that try to convert pass out or become delirious or become very sick so it is not a popular technique.
Devotion/ The Sacred Flame: This is the divine source of power that some casters can draw upon. It is not common or well understood.
Methods of Magic:
Intent magic: This is a type of magic performed entirely through thought and will power and the manipulation of energies through thought and focus. Someone with an affinity will perform that magic type easily through intent even if they have difficulty with other types of magic. This requires no speaking or movements though many casters will move as it help focus their intent. The moments are simple gestures and not complicated affairs such as ritual magic calls for. This type of magic is performed by focusing magical energies with the mind and shaping them to an effect. The caster has 2 ways of accessing magical energies, one is an internal pool of energies in themselves that refills after they use it and the other is to tap into the cosmic magical energy that permeates the universe. This latter option is harder to do and takes concentration.
Ritual magic: Magic that is performed by a ritual such recitation of words, writing of runes or hand gestures. This is akin to a magical computer program that is activated to make a certain effect. They take less mental manipulation of magical energy and are used for to cast things more difficult than the cast is usually able to do. These were made by many ancient cultures and so one language or writing system is employed to use them but they can only be performed in the language they are set in. Ex: A Lontracant ritual can not be performed in any other language than Lontracant. The Art of creating and crafting Rituals is closely guarded and is not an easy feat. Sometime Invokes outer beings for a purpose. Some types of Ritual magic have hand signs on movements associated with them, these are called Casting signs.
Types of magic:
Elemental/ Energetic: These are the typical Fire, frost, lightning as well as kinetic. This is about manipulating or adding energies in a system. Firing thermal blast from your hands or creating kinetic barriers falls into this category. There is some confusion by no practitioners about this. Blasts of cold are part of this field but actually firing a bolt made of ice is not. Water and ice are not made by energetic manipulation.
Bio-thaumaturgy: The type of magic that specializes in altering the physical body. Healing magic as well as magically inflicting maladies fall under this type. Like all others this type of magic is neither good or evil it depends on how it is used but is often seen as holy. Eventhough magical means for healing and treating illness exists, the demand for medical care is so great that Practitioners of Bio-thaumaturgy also learn non magic based medicine so they can still treat people when their magical reserves are depleted.
Matter Manipulation: This type of magic concerns altering physical matter into other things or changing it to function better. an example of this is someone taking a handful of sand and turning it into glass or crystal without using heat. Expert Matter manipulators are highly sought after in the Artificer's guild though it is not a prerequisite. Wizards that fire projectiles made of ice are actually doing matter manipulation in addition to Energetic manipulation. A caster that seems to produce water or ice in their hands are actually condensing it out of the air or if scientifically knowledable enough makiing it from hydrogen and oxygen.
Eldritch energies: these energies act strangely with the rest of the world and are considered mysterious and not as well studied as other energies in the magical domain. Often Confused for Shadow magic bu are distinct. Energy bolts that seem to corrode what they strike are the best know example of this. These energies make people except those adept in them sick and confused. For this reason most people who experiment in this field won't do it anywhere near people because of the ill effects of it.
Shadow magic: Use of a mysterious magic that acts like an energy and a substance. Has many strange effects on people and can vary depending on the caster's needs. Looked on with distrust by the general public and even some wizards. Shadow magic practitioners can sometimes alter their bodies to become a semi coherent mas of darkness. Object can pass through them without harming them but they remain vulnerable to certain magical energies.
Magitech: A blend of magic and technology or technology powered by magic. A Boiler the derives its heat from magic instead of coal is still considered magitech by most people. To the general public the lines between pure technology and Magitech can be a little blurred. A completely technology driven electron thrower would still sometimes be called magitech even though magic had nothing to do with it.
Alchemy: Using magically altered or infused ingredients to make potions. Many consider non magical chemistry to be alchemy but wizards don't.
Chemistry: the study of non magical interactions and the properties of the physical world when not manipulated by magic.
Holy magic/ Sacred flame: Magic sourced from the creator of the universe and Deity of all Gai'talar's religions. Has grown more an more rare.
Devotion/Attunement: Usual users of this add divine effect to their existing magical or physical effects. This isn't learned or but manifests when a religiously devout person calls out to God, Also Refered to as the sacred flame. This can happen Subtlety so no one notices or be Rather obvious. Only a few individuals can do this at will and they are usually Religiously devout. One odd thing that has been noted is that Standing in the organization of the church has no bearing on this ability. 3 notable example that demonstrate this are High Priest Bell'wed Krontyr a Hesken priest of high stature but being considered to hold odd views, Barnough the Eldritch a reclusive Valperet mage who's field of study was considered unwholesome but always took time to attend services, and SeanHan of the coasts, a Sionact fisherman who despite being religious railed against the church and many of their actions. Seanhan had no magical training whatsoever but seemed to be able to ask the assistance of God when ever the situation called for it. The Act that gained Seanhan notoriety was when he challenged a pirate captain to a one on one fight for the safety of a crew of captured fishermen and he won by splitting the pirate's sword blade with a fillet knife. Somehow despite being 7 feet from the mast, it also split and fell over disabling the ship. Despite people of all walks of life successfully invoking the Sacred Flame in times of need no one has been able to establish a pattern or refine a method for doing it consistently.
Speaker Of the Sacred Flame: Sense 1: This is an extremely rare manifestation in which the creator of the universe can speak directly through someone or tell them to do things. The Speaker can even be completely taken over to perform a task. They usually don't remember this task and awaken after feeling no ill effects from whatever they were doing even if they were up all night doing intense physical labor they do not feel tired or sore the next day and think they just fell asleep. This state can last a long time. One of the most well known Speakers of the flame created an orphanage and ran it for 4 years before waking up in an unfamiliar city in a strange country and not remembering what had happened. Skills he picked up such as cooking and medicine mysteriously remained. Often called True speakers to differentiate from the title.
Speaker of the Sacred flame Sense 2: A title give to priests who show holy affinity or have attained very high rank. Some churches such as the Alo and the Hesken will never bestow this as a title. Other titles are used in its stead and the term is reserved for sense 1 individuals.
Spirit singers/ Soul song: A mysterious type of magic that is not as well understood as other practices. Sometimes the song doesn't come from a person, it can come from a place or object. Can manifest in actual sound ( Vibration of air molecules ) and sometimes it manifests purely inside someone's head and can not be reordered or perceived through methods of sound recording. ( Gai'talar has simple sound recording and playback technology like Phonographs ) A milder manifestation of the later form can come in vague feelings. The are Called "memories of the Melody" and it has become a common turn of phrase to express a vague emotion that is not explainable. These can be positive and negative.
Spirit Singers can also influence people with song though this is not full control. Examples range from whipping soldiers up to fight to calming them down and reminding them not to get too carried away. Some Spirit singers disguise themselves as regular Bards and play at pubs to make random people feel better. They Most openly perform at funerals and can help give closure to the grieving. People who specialize in this are called 'grief singers' or 'chanters of Lament' and are the most accepted form of spirit singers. Some villages also have dedicated Spirit singers who's job it is to keep certain types of supernatural entities at bay or to move on.
Affinity ( Magic ) : A talent or predisposition toward a specific type of magic domain or specific effect. That type of magic will come more naturally to the caster. People with strong affinities might have their carers dictated by them. An example was grand Magister Definnus Huin who had a talent with fire and could cause mass devastation thus became an expert at magical warfare despite his real interest being in medicine. Affinities also can be considered burdensome or inconvenient such as a Luntrondae being born with a lightning affinity. The water dwelling specie's normal environment makes this talent extra dangerous. In situations like this the person must either never live up to their full potential or go train in an environment less dangerous to that type of power.
Casting signs: Finger or hand movements used in ritual magic, these are akin to keystrokes at a computer to enter commands. People who learn these casting signs can tell what a caster is trying to do even if they have no magical talents. It Takes some magical train or practice to cast using casting signs but not as much as casting from pure intent and mental discipline. Someone can stand there and make casting signs all day and nothing will happen unless they put energy into it. Casting signs all originated from one culture but which one is up for debate.
In some cultures Casting signs have made it into common use as rude hand gestures. In Southern hesken populations Repeatedly extending and curling the pinky and ring finger means "Hurry up you are wasting my time/ get to the point" which come from the casting sign "Activate" or "begin." Valperet find this extremely rude because Hesken are often considered to be extremely patient (or at least it is thought they ought to be) so being told to hurry up by one is considered shocking. When a Hesken does this to another Hesken or a skitritch it is not taken rudely it is just taken as " Hurry/ double time it, or Wrap it up." In cultures less at ease with magic using casting signs at all is considered rude and in cultures that highly revere magic it is considered rude to cheapen them into slang hand signs. Lutrondae are an example of the former and Alo an example of the latter. Alo will go so far as to smack people's hands if they think they are being too Flippant in using casting signs. Alo hold casting signs in such esteem that some hardcore elements even look at hand based nonverbal communication as a knock off or mockery.
Outer Beings: Creatures from extra or outer planes of reality. Range from the utterly vicious to the slightly quirky. Are recognized as a source of power by many cults.
Realms: The catch all term for the different but connected worlds or planes that are accessible through magic.
Shadow Realm/ the place echoes: This is a mirror of what happens in the physical world, a shadow of it, this is where most but not all ghost would reside. Is neither good nor evil in nature though many vile things reside there. Also considered the dream world but this is contested.
Astral realm/ ethereaum: The realm that houses a vast array of places manifest. Can also be mirrors of the physical realm but are connected to greater vastness of things. It is theorized that this is where souls go after death unless something causes them to go elsewhere.
Le Verld/ physical world/ Mundus, Miorgar : The physical world were laws of physics are consistent and life arises. Also just called Gai'talar
Heritage memory: A rare magical manifestation of remembering all the history, stories or language of a culture. This culture is usually but not always that of the person who it manifests in. These are memories of how events actually occurred and not always how history records them so sometimes these individuals are seen as being very inconvenient.
Artificer: Someone who specializes in imbuing magic into devices and technology. Also talented in crafting. What distinguishes them from inventors and mechanics is magical training and ability to imbue and tune magical energies.
Totem animal: An ik'sophant ( Not human or above level of thought ) species that is held sacred to an individual. It is not required that the totem animal be the progenitor species of the individual. A Skit'ritch may have a wolf as a totem animal. Totem animals act as magical scouts or guides for Spirit magic practitioners.
Soul trap: A magical device that holds the soul or ghost of a being. Used in trapping dangerous spirits by ghost hunters. Soul Traps can also be made of living beings. Some magic users have soul traps worked into their own flesh and use it to hold someone's soul for greater power or because they are not ready for that person to die. Most magically inclined people can see the state of the soul trapped and so determining if they are holding a person that is not ready to move on or if they are holding a soul against its will is a simple matter. The Make of a soul trap can also tip off people as to its intent. When made one way it allows a soul to stay there for as long as it wants but nothing stops the soul from leaving. When made another way it traps the soul of the person but is delicate and can be broken by and outside force.
Reborn: A soul that has been born into a new body. They can usually remember their past lives or learn to remember them. Memories are no guarantee that you are a reborn and not everyone who thinks they are actually are. Sometimes people with mental illnesses think they are reborn. There are methods of checking but not everyone is comfortable with them. The most well know and Documented Reborn was an ancient Hesken wizard king who was born again 5 thousand years later into a poor Sionact household and retained his memories and powers but never tried to amass power and regain his position because he was happier with the new family. He died of old age with a large family and it is thought that his soul passed on, though some claim he is hanging around as a ghost watching over the surviving members of the family.
Magical Focus: There are many tools used to focus and amplify magical energies. Allows for more efficient use of energy but not all magic users need them. Almost any object can become one if properly modified. Here are a few along with their cultural significance. Focuses are used because it make channeling magical energies easier and can focus their power more efficiently. They are not strictly needed but make things much easier.
Rod: A wood or metal rod that has been augmented to serve as a magical focus. Is favored by people who expect to have to fight using magic. It is Sturdy enough to be used as a striking or blocking implement.
Orb: A magical ball or Orb ( though it can be other shapes like a pyramid ) that levitates and moves with the users will. It can emit magical attacks and effects from it leaving the user to do something else with their hands. These are not as popular because of the mental effort and constant focus needed to control it. The benefits of it are the user can see through it and distance is pretty meaningless to orbs. They are usually strong enough that they are are near impossible to break. A full martial art focused around using an orb as a offensive and defensive tool in place of fists. The draw back is that some mages can send haptic feed back through the link connecting the user.
Book: With special preparation a book can be made a magical focus as well as be a repository of knowledge. They have the added effect of sometimes having soul containers worked into their covers so the soul of a wizard resides inside it and acts as a keeper of knowledge. Depending on the soul these are the only implement in wizard history to be good or evil. It is not so dependent on the knowledge contained in the book and more about the alignment of the keeper. One Book that exemplifies this is a book on how to cause or cure magical plagues that can wipe out civilizations. This book considered the most dangerous and vile of tomes is inhabited by the soul of Saint Chiinick who devoted his life to curing diseases. If anyone opens the book with intent to do evil, Chiinick will make the pages appear blank or blight you with a nasty but short lasting malady. If you are granted access but start looking into parts of the book he doesn't think you need to see His ghost will start pestering you to stay on task and start screeching in your ear if you try to ignore him. He is said to be very annoying.
Wand: The classical magic wand. Is light and maneuverable but is the most fragile option so it is not as popular outside strictly academic institutions.
Imbued Knife: A knife that has been modified to channel and amplify magic. Is useful because it is both a tool for physical work and magical work.
Hammer: Artificers often like to turn their hammers into their focuses, they will not usually do it for every hammer they use but they will pick a favorite that they always carry. These are not always obvious as not all Artificers will mark them with runes or other decorations. One common thing is that they often make the hammer cause discomfort or tingling if anyone but the owner try to use it. Many people thinkg that this is because their hammers are so full of potent magic but it is an effect put there so people will stop Borrowing them. When the Artificers guild started " Where's my fucking hammer?" was one of the most common things shouted in the grand workshop.
Sword: Some mage knights imbue their swords to act as focuses so they can switch seamlessly between casting and swordplay. They are falling in popularity but are still around.
Staff: The traditional and oldest form of magical focus. Is versatile in that it can be used as a weapon, a tool and as a magic focus.
Cane: similar to a rod but made to act as a walking implement when not used in magic. Cane and rod fighting techniques are a little different.
Ring: A ring used as a magical focus. Is not usual particularly powerful but is portable and concealable.
Knuckles: Bras knuckles modified to be magical focus. these are favored for fighters who mix magic into fist based martial arts.
Gauntlet/glove : A glove or armored gauntlet modified to be a magical focus. These are not as popular as they are harder to make them light. It take an expert artificer to make a simple pair of leather gloves act as a focus.
By Kindar in Missing Son 1The Missing Son 16
"Mister Calmander is here to see you Mister Orr," Alice said on the intercom.
Just on time. Damian liked that about his acquisition officer. "Show him in, Alice."
The bull entered. Today he was dressed in a sharp Hermmione suit in a dark green that flattered him. Damian did note that it was a little tight around the waist. Jeremy wasn't keeping up with his exercise regimen.
Damian stood and extended his hand, "Ah, Jeremy, where do we stand?"
Jeremy shook the hand and handed Damian a folder.
"The managerial reorganization is proceeding well," the bull said. Damian looked through the list of names while he continued. "We've identified those who just do the bare minimum to keep their jobs and we're looking for the best positions to promote them to. We expect that within a month of their promotions they will be so overwhelmed they will either quit or fail in such a spectacular way we'll be able to fire them."
Damian found the one he was looking for, closed the folder and sat. "Good. How about the rest of the employee restructuring?"
Jeremy followed his example. "We want to wait until the management situation has calmed down. A month at the most, then we'll inform the employees of the takeover." The bull paused, and Damian could read the coming question on his face. "Sir, why are we doing this?"
"It's a good factory. With a few upgrades we should be able to increase productivity." Damian answered casually, knowing that wasn't what Jeremy meant. "People will always need mattresses, Jeremy." He'd learned quite young that people became very uncomfortable around him if he was too perceptive.
"Yes sir, I know that. I mean the company paid employee training. That's going to cost us millions and all that's going to do is let them get paid not to work. I can guarantee that none of them are going to bother learning anything."
"Really, Jeremy? So tell me, why do you think all those people are poor and stuck working what is basically a dead end job?"
Jeremy talked and Damian listened, but didn't pay attention. He has bags under his eyes, not sleeping well. His suit is wrinkled, and smells like it's his second day in it. Not going home? Fiddling with his wedding band. He's been married for twenty years. So it's because it's troubling him. yes, problems at home. He doesn't realize he's pulling on it, but he hasn't taken it off. He's thinking about toughing it out.
"So, if I understand," Damian said once Jeremy was done. "You feel that they are where they are because they don't work hard enough. they are lazy and deserves to be where they are."
"I see. So tell me, if your marriage were to fail-"
"What's my marriage got to do with this?" Jeremy interrupted.
Damian's only reaction was surprise. He's getting flustered. He sees my comment as an attack. "Excuse me? I was just throwing a theoretical scenario out there." He paused. "You're married? I didn't know."
And he's calm again. with that he believes I didn't know and meant nothing by it. His face showed none of the pleasure even such a small manipulation caused him. I need to find someone to let loose on. Jimmy is nice, but he no longer offers any challenge, and it isn't looking like I'll be taking Adam camping anytime soon.
"So, if it were to fail, would it be entirely because you didn't try hard enough? Isn't it possible that some outside forces might be involved? Maybe your wife had an affair?"
Jeremy just managed to stop himself from wincing
That's what he suspects. "Maybe you did try had hard as you can, but she isn't willing to work with you to save the marriage."
Jeremy had trouble keeping his worries off his face. Reluctantly he nodded.
"Then, can't you accept that it's entirely possible these people." He tapped the folder. "Might be trying as hard as they can, but just have the deck stacked against them? Look Jeremy, I want to do this because educated employees are much more productive than uneducated ones. Yes, I'm certain that you're right, some of them will see this as a paid vacation, but those people will weed themselves out of the company in time. We're going to be left with people who can do their jobs better. even if they don't learn the skills needed to climb the corporate ladder, they will have skills that will let them improve how they do the work, which will help the factory be more productive. You'll see, this is going to help them, and in return it will help us."
Jeremy stood, "Yes sir." He tried to hide it, but it was obvious to Damian he didn't believe him. Damian stood and shook his hand. That didn't matter, Jeremy was good at his job because he followed the plan and didn't let his personal prejudice interfere.
Damian sat down once the bull was out of his office.
Of course, what he'd said was total bullshit. Something he'd come up on the moment, a good, if long, sound bite. Good enough in fact he was going to condense it, print it and make sure is was distributed at the factory when the employees were informed of the takeover. Something to keep moral high and reassure them they weren't going to lose their jobs in the process.
No, the fact that all these people were going to get an education out of this endeavor, a better life, was irrelevant. Only one name in that list mattered, not that he actually cared about her either, but Patrick did, even if he was angry with her at the moment.
He hadn't lied to Patrick. A woman like her, steeped in the negative side of her religion, would never accept anything from someone like him. So he wasn't going to give her anything, he was going to set things up and see how far her hard work could take her.
His eyes fell on the frame on his desk. It only had three pictures in its memory. one was a picture of him and his brothers, taken when Damian turned twenty one. The other of his nephews, taken on their sixteenth birthday. But the one that always showed was of him and his father. The way things were going he would have to add a fourth one, since it didn't look like Patrick was going to pose for a picture with his brothers any time soon.
The one he was looking at was of Damian and his father. He was five, seated on Brian's lap, they were waving at the camera. His smile looked fake, he hadn't perfected how to smile at that age. He didn't keep this picture because it engendered some emotional response.
He had it because he had wanted a picture of his father and this one perfectly exemplified what he meant to him. What wasn't visible in the picture was that Brian was whispering to him, explaining why they were waving, why they smiled, helping him behave normally.
He smiled at the picture, a smile that could fool anyone, even if it was just an act he put on. Not for the first time, he considered what his life might have turn out like if he hadn't looked in on him that last time.
By Kindar in Missing Son 1The Missing Son 15
He'd reached the main road, then gone a few blocks before he started shaking. Fuck, he shouldn't have come here. Why couldn't they have left him alone? He would have happily gone on thinking he was the son of a war hero. Now he was going to have watch what he did and thought all the time so he would remain on the Path.
He looked up again, but there was too much light here, he couldn't see the stars. Why did life have to be so complicated? Isn't my life miserable enough, God? I'm doing everything I can to be a good person, why do you keep piling the crap on top of me? He sighed. "Sorry, that isn't fair to you. I know you haven't made me Job. You aren't testing me. It just... Some time it doesn't feel fair."
He realized the car had been pacing him for a time. he wasn't worried, he'd have time to get out of the way if it swerved on the sidewalk, and if the driver got out he was going to beat the crap out of him.
"Hop in, kid. I'll give you a ride."
Patrick didn't look at the person in the car, although he had a sense he was leaning in the passenger side to talk to him "No thanks. I'm just going to the bus stop."
"Really? How are you going to pay the fare?"
"Fine, I'll walk then." Was the way he was dressed so telling any stranger knew he didn't have any money? "I don't get into some stranger's car."
"Kid, I'm not a stranger, I'm your uncle. Now get in. I'm taking you home."
Patrick stopped and turned to look at him. the car stopped too and the tiger straightened back in the driver's seat. The door clicked and opened. It was a gray sedan, it looked expensive.
The driver leaned toward him again when Patrick didn't move and pierced him with his cold gray blue eyes. "Patrick," he said in measured tones. "Get in the fucking car."
Patrick blinked, he was seated in the car and it was in motion. He looked at the driver trying to understand what had just happened. The tiger looked to be the same age as the men in that house. Was he really his uncle?
"Who are you?"
"My name is Damian."
"And you're my uncle?"
"And you were just waiting there, waiting for me to leave so you could pick me up?" Was he like the others? If he was, he better not even think of trying anything.
"Calm down, Patrick. I'm not going to do anything. I wasn't waiting for you, I was just coming over to visit my nephews and saw you leaving. You looked out of sort so I thought I'd give you a ride home. Considering how long it took you to realize I was there, you were out of it."
"I'm not going home."
"Yes you are. Your mother's been worrying herself to death since you left. You need to take better care of her you know. Not everyone's fortunate to still have his parents in his life."
"Why the fuck do I care if she's worried? She didn't give a damn about me when she lied to me."
"Most people lie, Patrick. That's how they are."
"Do you?" Patrick asked without intending to.
The tiger got a thoughtful expression and Patrick couldn't believe he had to think about it before answering.
"Yeah, I guess I do, but always with good reasons. Not that you'd know what they are."
"Fine. I still don't care. I'm not going home. I'll tell you where to drop me off when we get close to it."
Damian didn't reply. he drove in silence for a minute, then he swerved the car into an mostly empty parking lot and stopped. Damian stared ahead for a moment. When he turned to look at Patrick his face was expressionless. his eyes had lost all the gray and were pale blue.
They were cold and emotionless. They weren't looking at him, Patrick realized, they were looking through him. he swallowed and tried the handle.
"Door's lock," Damian said in a flat tone.
Patrick looked for a way to unlock it, but there weren't any buttons. He slammed his elbow in the glass and only got pain for his effort.
"Bullet proof glass. You're not getting out of this car unless I let you."
The tone, the words, they made Patrick shy back, trying to push himself as far from this man as he could. He remembered what he'd been told about the Orrs having eccentric tastes. He now realized that the few he'd heard might be nothing compared to some.
"What are you going to do to me?" Patrick had told himself if this man tried anything he'd beat him up. Now he through he might not be able to do anything to stop him.
The eyes blinked, and warmth seem to come back to them. Damian gave him a wry smile. "I'm going to explain a few things to you." He looked at him and the smile widened. "Relax kid. You have nothing to worry about. Not yet anyway." He thought of something and chuckled. "But one day someone's going to tell you about me and you're going to piss yourself remembering this meeting." He got the car moving.
"When my father was on his deathbed he made me promise to look after my family. I take my promises extremely seriously. And to be clear, to me it isn't your last name that makes you family or not. It's your blood. So, no matter what you call yourself, you're an Orr. That means I'm going to take care of you."
Patrick watched him drive for some time and wondered what he meant by that, but he didn't dare say anything and interrupt whatever thinking that tiger was doing. He'd gone up against multiple gang members over his life and something told him none of them had been anywhere near as dangerous as this man was.
"And your mother," Damian said, as if he hadn't been thinking for some time. "She isn't blood, and normally she wouldn't matter, but you care for her, so I'm willing to make an exception, this one time."
They drove in silence again. Maybe he'd imagine the danger coming from him. After all he said he'd take care of his mother too. Not that Patrick was sure she deserved it.
"What do you mean by 'take care of me'?" He asked after a time, curiosity getting the best of him. "Are you going to shower me with money so I never have to work? Get my mom a house like the one Donald and Daniel have?" He realized he couldn't think of one of them without thinking of the other.
Damian laughed, a cold mirthless laugh. "Your mother would spit on anything a fag like me might give her. No, I'm not going to give her anything." He was silent for a moment. "That's not how I work anyway. You need to make your own way in life. You don't appreciate it if you don't have to work for it."
Patrick studied this man, his uncle for a moment. "What are you going to do then?"
"I'm going to promise you something. I'm going to promise you'll never have to worry about your safety again."
Patrick stared at him.
"Yeah, I know about them. About how you got that scar."
Reflexively Patrick put a hand over his bicep. How did he know about the gang?
"They won't bother you again. I swear that to you."
"How do I know? Or how can I promise that? The answer is the same for both questions. I know people. Which reminds me." He pulled a business card out of his breast pocket and handed it to him. The card was plain, with a diamond in the center of it. 'Diamond Industries' was written over it, and 'because diamonds are just coal under pressure' under.
Patrick looked at it, read what it said a few times. "You do know that doesn't make any kind of sense, right?"
Damian smiled. "Sure it does, kid." He glanced at him. "And something tells me that if anyone ever manages to figure it out, it's going to be you."
Patrick stared at him.
"Anyway, on the back is the number to my company's recruitment office. Give it to that friend of yours, the one who managed to give you my brothers' address. If he ever gets tired of shady deals and going hungry for weeks at a time, I'm always looking for talented people."
"If you know so much about him, why aren't you making the offer in person?"
"Come on Patrick, you can answer that yourself."
"He doesn't know you from the serial killer down the block. I'm not sure I trust you myself."
"That's very wise of you."
Patrick was silent for a long time. Considering what this meant. He was offering Rich a job. He was looking for talented people.
"You're not offering me a job, are you?" That made sense. No one wanted a dropout like him.
Damian didn't reply immediately. "Do you want me to offer you one?"
Patrick almost said yes. He'd do anything for a real job, a way to help his mother with the bills once and for all. Well, almost anything he thought as he remembered those eyes, blue and cold. What might it be like to work for a man with eyes like that. What things might he be required to do?
He shook his head. "I think I'm going to make my own way."
Damian smiled. "Another wise thing you've said."
Patrick felt a smile creep up his muzzle. "Although I could use someone to pay my tuition for school"
Damian snorted. "Don't look at me for that. that's what fathers are for."
They were silent again, for the rest of the drive. When the car stopped Patrick realized they were in front of his mother's house.
"How did you know where I live? I never told you."
Another wry smile. "Who do you think gave your brothers your address? You go in, your mother's going to be relieve to see you."
The door clicked and opened. Patrick stepped out and looked in, holding on to the door. "D... uncle Damian." The words felt strange coming out of his mouth, alien. He'd never had an uncle before. "Why am I scared of you?"
His uncle gave him the brightest smile he'd ever seen, but it didn't comfort him, the smile didn't reach those eyes. "Because you are a wise young man, Patrick, very wise indeed." He motioned for him to close the door and drove off.
Patrick watched the car pull away, then looked at this mother's house. There was light, so she wasn't at work. He stood there for some time, trying to figure out if he wanted to go in or not. No that was the wrong question, he didn't want to go. The question was, did his mother deserve to suffer for trying to protect him. He sighed, No, she didn't.
"Patrick?" she called as soon as he closed the door.
"Yes, mom, it's me."
She rushed out of her room and hugged him. "Oh my God, I was so worried. You just walked out and I didn't know where you were. Please don't ever do that again. Where were you?"
"I just stayed at friends." He didn't return the hug, but he didn't push her away, even if the urge was there. "Looks, about what happened."
"It's okay, Patrick. Don't worry about it, those men are gone and they're never going to bother us again. You don't have to worry about them."
Patrick almost told her this wasn't about them, but his anger was just waiting for an excuse to lash out at her, and he wouldn't let that happen.
He gave himself long enough for his temper to quiet down. "Mom, you're working tomorrow, you should go to bed, I'm okay. I'm not leaving."
She looked at him, her eyes were wet. She wiped them. "I'm sorry, I was just so worried they might have taken you away from me."
His anger flared. They aren't interested in taking me away. you're the one determined to keep me away from them. But she'd already turned away, so she didn't see the snarl on his face. He headed to the kitchen for a glass of water and to calm himself.
It wasn't her fault, he told himself, she grew up in a different time, her parents were pretty stern, not that he got to know them, It had always just been him and her. He wondered if he had grandparents now. Were is father's parents alive?
He couldn't excuse her attitude. She'd raised him the same way she was raised, and he was over coming it, wasn't he? He'd gone to see them, asked questions, gotten to know them. And screamed at them before rushing out because what they said made him uncomfortable.
How could he be so angry all the time when he was trying to follow the Path, while they seem perfectly happy living in sin? He should ask Father Durony next Sunday. Maybe stepping off the Path, deciding you weren't going to even try to reach Eden again meant you didn't worry about anything else. Was that kind of bliss worth going to Hell?
Fuck, he had to stop thinking about that, he was going to give himself nightmares. He drank two glasses of water and headed to his room. He dressed down to his underwear to sleep and lay down. Seeing the frame with the picture of the man he had thought was his father for all his life, he shoved it in the drawer of his side table.
By Kindar in Missing Son 0The Missing Son 14
Patrick got off the bus, looked around and wondered where he was. This didn't look like the San Francisco he knew. Sure, he knew Old San Jose was where the rich folks lived, but this... He was standing next to an eight-foot wall made of white stone. On the other side of the road was a similar wall, with trees behind it, and in the distance a house. A large house.
The people on the side walk were looking at him and he didn't blame them. Fuck, he should just turn around and go back, he had no business being in this part of the city. If he had enough money he'd get on the next bus and do just that. As it was he might as well see this through before walking home.
The street he wanted was the next one, and it slowly wound up the hill. After the first one, the houses we no longer walled, but they were all very large and the one with the bright red wall with purple... waves? and yellow awning was rather gaudy.
How could he be related to anyone living here?
The number he was looking for was on a post next to a driveway winding further along. Next to it was a path, which he took. It was lined with some bushes and purple flowers.
He looked up from the flora and stopped. He'd called the buildings he saw on his way here houses, but standing close he now realized how wrong he'd been, this was a mansion. His mom's house could probably fit twenty times in it. Just who the fuck was his father to live in a place like this?
The driveway led to the garage, partially inside the hill. He stared at the door. It was bigger than his house, how many cars did they have? And why wasn't this place gated to keep guys like him out of it?
Above that and slightly recessed, was the two-story mansion in a tan color stucco. At least it wasn't as bright as some of the other houses, Patrick thought. Then realized how stupid that thought was. so, it wasn't brightly painted, it was nonetheless extravagant.
Again, he considered turning around. This was a mistake, but since he'd already made it, no point in leaving now. He forced himself the rest of the way to the door, which was a deep red clay in color. He knocked, then noticed the buzzer. Maybe he should have used that instead? He waited for a moment and was about to press the button when the door opened.
The smallest of the tigers who'd shown up at his door stood before him, mouth agape and eyes wide. Patrick didn't remember his name, but he thought he'd been the one to knock on his door. He was bare chested, and well built.
Patrick's gaze lingered for a moment on this pecs and biceps before realized what he was doing and looked up at his face. his breathing had intensified, and he couldn't stop a though that the short guy was pretty good looking. He smelled sweaty and wore only sweat pants. Patrick hadn't realized it the last time, but he was one of those dwarfs who was built proportional, he looked like a miniature person.
"Hi," Patrick said in the stretching silence.
The tiger closed his mouth. "Hey," he said in what sounded like a forced conversational tone.
"I'm Patrick, you and your brothers came to my place the other night."
The small tiger nodded. "I remember."
"Is your dad here?"
The guy nodded, took a deep breath and yelled. "Dad! Patrick's here!"
Patrick winced and took a step back. For such a small guy he had one Hell (sorry) of a pair of lungs on him. Once his ears stopped ringing he thought he heard people moving about further in the house. Not long after that a man showed up.
He too was only wearing sweat pants and smelled sweaty, but there was something else mixed in that scent. Patrick didn't know what it was but his heart started racing. He forced himself not to look at the well-defined biceps and abs.
"Thanks Arthur," the man said. He had to be in his forties, but he looked good for an old man. What the fuck was he thinking? Patrick wanted to run away. This was the worst mistake he'd ever made.
The man ruffled Arthur's hair and sent him back. then he moved out of Patrick's way. Patrick looked at the large hallway behind them and felt like this was the cave leading to the dragon that would threaten to eat him.
Get a grip, he told himself. This isn't a fantasy novel. And even if it was, the dragon always holds answers. And regardless of anything else, he wanted answers, didn't he? The dark cave, he realized what this was. the place where everything changed for the stories' main character.
Would things really change for him if he crossed that threshold? It wasn't just the obvious wealth. These were f... what they were and they acted like it was the most normal thing to be. They claimed he was like them. Would going in confirm that?
"Are you okay?" the man asked.
Patrick realized he'd been fixed in place for some time. He'd made the journey, crossed the wild land to come here. He entered.
"Should I take my shoes off?" he asked. The floor was black, polished to the point he could see his reflection in it. The walls were off white, slightly gray maybe? At least it didn't feel harsh against the black floor. There was a mirror on the wall in a gold frame, over a small table. At this point, he figured the frame was actual gold and promised himself he wasn't going to touch it. he should probably avoid touching anything, if he broke something he'd never be able to pay it back.
"Only if you want to. Don't worry about getting stuff dirty. We have seven kids, nothing stays clean long in here."
Patrick eyed the shiny floor and had trouble believing him. they probably had an army of people keeping this place clean.
"If you want to take off your jacket the closet is over there." He pointed to the opposite wall.
There was a polished wood door, it had to be solid wood, not the wanna-be stuff the closet doors in his mother's house were made out of. Should he leave his jacket there? was he expected to leave all his close in there?
"Is there a dress code or something?"
"You and Arthur are only wearing sweat pants. Is that how you dress here?"
The man looked down at himself, as if he'd forgotten what he was wearing. "Oh, no. You just caught us...exercising. If you prefer I'll go put on something more appropriate."
"Exercising? like the whole lot of you?"
"Yes, it's a family tradition. We like to stay in shape. It looks like you do too."
Patrick shrugged, he was muscular, sure, but it wasn't because he worked at it. Working at the junkyard took care of that, as did having to defend himself all the time. But that explained why they were sweaty. He put his jacket in the closet, and it looked like rags next to the others there.
"Look, I don't want to offend you, but I don't know which one you are. I wasn't really paying attention when you, or the other one, said your names. I only remember one, are you Daniel?"
"No, I'm Donald. And I understand. That meeting wasn't exactly smooth."
Donald, so he was the one with the temper, Patrick thought, just like him. "That's certainly one way to say it."
"How would you describe it?" Donald asked.
Patrick thought about it for a moment. If he was back home he'd never think of using the kind of language that kept coming to his mind when he thought about it, but thinking back on Donald's behavior then he got the feeling he preferred honesty over proper language.
"I'd call it a fucking load of shit, blowing up over everyone."
Donald laughed. "That's certainly colorful. And don't worry about not being able to tell me and Daniel apart, no one can. Don't be afraid to ask who's who. The kids just call us dad so they don't have to worry about it, but I don't expect you to call us that."
"I wasn't planning on it," Patrick replied, harsher than he'd intended.
"I understand. How did you find the house?"
"I know a guy who's good at finding stuff like that out. I gave him your number." He left it at that.
They walked by what had to bed a living room, by the large couches, plush carpet and large entertainment center. Donald hadn't been kidding after all, the place was a mess, cushions all over the floor and one of the chair was tipped against another. A strong scent of artificial freshener came from the room, roses or something.
"What happened there?" he asked.
"Like I said, we have seven kids," was all Donald gave as an answer. not long after the opening to the living room was a stairwell going up, and after that the wall had frames with pictures in them. not photos, Patrick noted, art of some sort, bright art.
They entered the dining room which, again, was larger than his house. At one end of the table, which could seat at least twenty people, was Daniel, with the seven kids seated close to him.
"Grab a seat," Donald said and went to sit next to Daniel.
Patrick didn't move, watching him. Donald had said no one could tell the two of them apart, but Patrick hadn't believed him. No two tigers had the exact stripe patterns. You could always tell them apart on a subconscious level. You might not know what was different, but you knew they were.
Now he looked from one to the other, and realized it was true. Not only couldn't he see any differences, but he felt like he was looking at the same person. He looked at the teens, their arms and chest, the patterns on their furs, the shape of their muscles, ears and muzzle, and he could easily tell them apart.
And now he was breathing hard from looking at those bare chests so he focused on the table. Chestnut colored wood polished smooth with years of use. calmer he sat at the opposite end of the table.
"I have questions," Patrick stated.
"Feel free to ask them," Daniel replied. It was Daniel, right? He was pretty sure Donald had sat on the left. Did it matter? no, it didn't. he was delaying what he'd come here for.
"First off, why do you even want me to be your kid? I mean, I'm poor, I live in the bad part of town. I won't exactly fit in here."
"Hey, you can fit in anywhere you want to," one of the kids said.
Donald and Daniel looked at one another and then Donald? spoke. "It isn't about us *wanting* you to be our son. You *are* our son. That you live here or not, and we don't expect you to, we are still your fathers, but I don't expect we'll ever be your family."
"Actually, can you clear up something for me? Exactly which one of you is my father?"
They shrugged in unison. "We don't know."
"How can you not know?"
"We both had sex with your mother, so there's no way to tell."
Patrick noticed none of the kids displayed any of the discomfort he was feeling at hearing people talking about sex.
"okay, but we can get a paternity test done."
They smiled, and even that looked identical. "I don't think that is going to help," the other man said. How the fuck was he going to tell them apart? They hadn't move and he was getting a headache trying to figure out who was whom?
"Of course, it will, everyone's DNA is different, so it'll tell us whose genes I got."
"just like no two tigers ever has the same stripe patterns?" the other said.
Patrick closed his eyes and massaged his forehead. Forget the names, it's the left one and the right one from now on.
"I'm not saying we won't do it," the one on the right said, "We'll be happy to, but I don't think you'll get the results you're hoping for."
Patrick looked at the other teens. "How do you deal with it?"
"What's there to deal with?" said the one who had been in the minivan's passenger seat. Aaron maybe? or Albert? At least he could tell them apart. he'd just have to learn the names. "They're both our fathers, we don't care whose genes are in us."
"So long as they are in us," someone said, softer, which elicited chuckles from a few of the others.
"Aiden," the one of the left warned. "Watch your language, we have a guest. You know the rules."
"Next question?" the same one asked.
Patrick took a breath, okay, this was the big one. The secret that would change his live. "How do you know that I'm...." He couldn't say it. Fuck, he'd thought he'd be able to say it. He didn't want to say it in anger, not only was it wrong to do so, but he wanted to do what Joey had suggested, get to know them, respect them. Maybe there was a chance the bible was wrong and he could stay on the Path even with being...?
They didn't say anything. they gave him the time he needed to formulate it, but eventually he gave up. "I can't say it," he growled. "I'm sorry, but I can't. But you know what I mean, right?"
"That you're gay?" the one on the right said, and Patrick felt like he'd been slapped. He wasn't like that. he couldn't be. "Yes, we know."
"How do you know that?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"Because you're one of us, you're an Orr."
"I'm not an Orr, I'm a Sanders!"
The teens looked at him with a shocked expression, but the two adults kept their steady gazes on him. He felt like he should apologize for his outburst, but he wouldn't. They wanted to take away who he was.
"Sanders is your last name," the one on the left said. "We're talking about the blood that flows through your veins. That's what makes you an Orr.
"I could take after my mother."
"How can you know that?" Patrick's voice broke, and they waited for him to regain his composure.
"Somethings you take after your mother, you have her eyes. But when it comes to your sexuality, you take after us. It's always been that way in our family. We always have sons, and they are always gay."
"And eccentric," added one of the kids.
"Albert," the one on the left warned.
Okay, if that was Albert then the other one was Aaron, he was sure of it.
"What? It's true."
"What does he mean, eccentric?"
"Do you mind if we keep that question for after we've answered all the other ones?" said the one on the right. "The answer to it is going to make you uncomfortable, and I'd prefer we go through the ones you have first."
"Okay, sure." What could he mean by that? "You had kids, so you're not entirely...." fuck. "like that. I could too."
They gave him a sad smile, and Patrick felt his hopes crumble.
"We're not bi, we're gay. Yes, we had sex with women, but that was only so we could have children. We could have gone with tubes, but that didn't feel right to us." He paused. "have you had sex?"
Patrick felt his ears could start a fire and looked away. When he looked aback the teens were staring at him in disbelief.
"The sex was good," the one to the left said, "sex always is, but we were able to perform through will power, not because we felt anything for them. We're virile men, even as old as we are."
"Speak for yourself, I'm still young," said the one on the right in a failed attempt to break some of the building tension in the room.
"Like I said, we're virile," the one on the left continued, "and yes, if we set our mind to it we could have sex with a woman, but we wouldn't want it. we want men, that's what makes us gay." He paused. "That's what makes you gay."
Patrick closed his hands into fists. he didn't want to be angry at them, he really didn't want to, but he didn't want to hear this. "Fine, but I don't have to do anything about it, right? I don't have to act on how I feel."
"What?" Aaron exclaimed.
"Why would you ever not want to have sex with another guy?"
"Yes dad." Alexander looked at the table.
Patrick continued to control his anger, but he could tell from the whispers that Alexander's opinion was shared by the others. What was wrong with them? Man didn't sleep with Man, it was a sure way off the Path.
He forced himself to take a mental step back. Okay, he could accept, for the sake of the argument, that the desire wasn't the work of the devil, that it was genetic, like a lot of people claimed. But they also claimed that fighting was genetic, ingrained in us from century of evolution. it didn't mean that was something he should do. He wouldn't act on how he felt, that was final.
That resolved he went to ask his next question, but nothing came. He knew he'd had more of them, but he couldn't think of them. He glanced in Albert's direction. Might as well get that over with. "What's the eccentric thing about?"
The men sighed, but the teens looked up, excited.
"We did promise ourselves we wouldn't lie." The one on the right said.
"Yeah, we did." The one on the left took a deep breath. "okay, on top of being gay, Orr men have eccentric tastes."
"What does that mean?"
They looked at each other. The one on the left nodded and the one on the right continued. "As an example, me and Donald, we like to tag team our partners. It isn't a fetish, it isn't something we need to do to reach orgasm, but given the chance, it is how we prefer doing it."
"Aaron likes them old," Albert said.
"What's wrong with liking mature men?" Aaron countered.
"with wrinkles." Albert shuddered
Patrick swallowed. "okay, I think that's enough."
"Adam likes them married."
"Enough!" Patrick stood his weight was on his hand and the table was holding him up, he was shaking. He couldn't tell if it was fear of anger.
"What's wrong?" someone he didn't know the name of asked.
"You were right, this is making me very uncomfortable, so I'm going to leave."
"But we haven't showed you!"
"No!" Patrick slammed his palms against the table. "Look, I came here of my own free will. I asked for answers, so as much as I want to be angry at you all, I have no right. But. I. Really. Don't. Want. To. Be. Here. Anymore."
"I understand," one of the man said, "Arthur, why don't you escort Patrick to the door?"
Patrick started walking, barely aware of the small tiger next to him. He grabbed his jacket and the door was already opened by the time he had it on. He walked out.
Patrick felt the motion close to his arm and he thought Arthur would grab him, but he didn't. He stopped, but he didn't turn around.
"I'm sorry we made you uncomfortable. I hope you'll visit again."
"I don't know." Patrick looked up, there was so little light pollution here he could see the stars. He tightened his jaws. "No. I won't."
He thought he heard sniffling as he walked down the path to the road.
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