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Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)

IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early.
The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster.
In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly.
The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged.
Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms.
The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist.
The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale.
‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing.
It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment.
Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge.
That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted.
The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions.
Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge.
Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it.
Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales.
Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others.
This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse.
Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away.
These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk.
If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced.
If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober.
The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs.
The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them.
This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame.
Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier.
There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language.
What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand.
That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough.
If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses.
As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial.
The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt.
Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame.
This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’
So Stokes punches him.
It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road.
Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks.
Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him.
Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended.
Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop.
Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance.
‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’
The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’.
The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back.
After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed.
If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence.
Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued.
‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass.
A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’.
The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now.
Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa.
It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’.
The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
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9/11 and the Mandela Effect

9/11 and the Mandela Effect
You’ve probably seen the meme that says we’re living in the wrong timeline. While this sounds like a joke, there might be some truth to it. There are some researchers who claim what happened on 9/11 was a temporal event that caused our timeline to split in two. Supposedly there is a parallel world where the Twin Towers still exist and the apocalypse is being avoided. This is not to say I think we are living in the wrong timeline, but that is something I will get into in another thread. Just know that there is still hope.
Perhaps the darkest timeline is needed for some collective shadow work.
However, I do think our timeline has been altered and probably more times than once. While this is not something you can really prove, there are many oddities surrounding 9/11 as well as a synchronistic pattern hidden in pop culture that seems to point to this. In the movie Back to the Future, after the protagonist accidentally activates a time machine and alters the future, the Twin Pines Mall becomes the Lone Pine Mall. Notice how the clock reads 9:11 when flipped upside down.
134 reads like hel when flipped upside too. Are we living in a bardo state like in the movie Jacob's Ladder or the show The Good Place?
Was this a reference to the Mandela Effect and the Twin Towers becoming the One World Trade Center? In the second Back to the Future movie, the protagonists accidentally create a new timeline where a wealthy man named Biff takes over their town. Biff lives in a skyscraper casino and turns their town into a chaotic dystopia. According to the screenwriter Bob Gale, Biff was based on Donald Trump. This is not a political statement, I’m just saying it’s odd how things turned out.
I wonder if Bob Gale knew Trump would run for president?
In the Super Mario Bros. movie, a meteorite impact millions of years ago caused the universe to split into two timelines, the one we live in, and one where dinosaurs evolved into a humanoid race. President Koopa, a reptilian human hybrid, seems to be another caricature of Trump. President Koopa wants to merge his dimension with ours and attempts to rule Manhattan from the Twin Towers, which are portrayed as a gateway between worlds. The Super Mario franchise is strange when you think about shamans eating mushrooms to commune with serpent gods.
Looks kind of similar, right?
There are many more examples of the WTC acting as a gateway. In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Twin Towers are used to transmit energy that propels the earth into another dimension. Take note of the sphere between the buildings, this will become relevant later. In the intro of Power Rangers: Time Force, a machine called the Time Shadow is seen standing on the towers. Take note of the moon in the background as well. This will become relevant too. During the final scene of Fringe season 1, the WTC is seen intact in a parallel universe. In the intro of Power Rangers: Time Force, a machine called the Time Shadow is seen standing on the towers. Take note of the moon in the background as well. This will become relevant too. During the final scene of Fringe season 1, the WTC is seen intact in a parallel universe.
I miss cartoons.
Another interesting example can be found in Star Trek. In the show, space explorers are sent back in time to stop an alien invasion in the 1940s that altered the outcome of WWII and allowed the Nazis to invade the US. Once they kill the alien leader, one of the characters tells the protagonist that the timeline has corrected itself just as an image of the Twin Towers burning passes in the background.
From Star Trek: Enterprise
The idea of a parallel world where the Nazis won WWII is very prominent in pop culture. But why is this? Is it possible creative people can intuitively sense other realities while absorbed in the act of creating? Philip K. Dick believed that’s what he did when he wrote The Man in the High Castle. He claimed:
"I in my stories and novels sometimes write about counterfeit worlds. Semi-real worlds as well as deranged private worlds, inhabited often by just one person…. At no time did I have a theoretical or conscious explanation for my preoccupation with these pluriform pseudo-worlds, but now I think I understand. What I was sensing was the manifold of partially actualized realities lying tangent to what evidently is the most actualized one—the one that the majority of us, by consensus gentium, agree on."
Coincidentally, Philip K. Dick was one of the first modern thinkers to predict the Mandela Effect. He once declared:
“we are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs.”
The Nazis were rumored to be in possession of a time machine known as Die Glocke, or in English, The Bell. They were supposedly taught how to build this device by extraterrestrials and the craft was said to be kept in a facility known as Der Riese, or The Giant. It sounds far fetched, but The Nazi Party was actually formed from The Thule Society, an occult group that dabbled in channeling and other magical practices. They were also known to use the Black Sun symbol, an esoteric representation of a gateway into another dimension.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sun_(symbol))
In Twin Peaks, a show about a small town caught in the midst of an interdimensional battle between good and evil, there seems to be a reference to Die Glocke. In season 8 there is a device that looks just like it, and at one point, a character called The Giant appears next to it.
A conception of Die Glocke compared to the mysterious bell device in Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks is full of occult symbolism. In one episode a character is given instructions to find a portal that opens 253 yards east of Jack Rabbit’s Palace at 2:53 pm on October 1st. This portal is located in Washington. However, there is another in Las Vegas. Strangely enough, on October 1st, 2017, the Las Vegas shooting occurred in a lot 253 yards away from the Luxor Hotel, a giant black pyramid with the strongest beam of light in the world shooting out of it. Victims were mostly those attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival.
There's also black pyramids on the instructions.
But it gets stranger. Jason Aldean was one of the headliners. If you look at his tattoos, there’s a Jack card and an Ace card underneath a black sun, which as mentioned earlier, is an occult symbol that represents a portal. This card from the Illuminati game is almost identical. A Jack is worth 10 points. An Ace is worth 1 point. This odd coincidence seems to be a reference to the date 10/1. Keep in mind this date looks like the number 101. This will become relevant too. But was the Route 91 Harvest a literal harvest of souls meant to energize a portal?
This one is too much of a coincidence for me.
The name Twin Peaks seems to be a reference to the Twin Pillars, a Masonic concept that originated from the Biblical idea of Boaz and Jachin, two pillars that stood on the porch of King Solomon's Temple. The Twin Pillars can be found in ancient architecture all over the world and are sometimes used in Tarot. They are said to represent a doorway into a higher realm. In this Masonic artwork, you can see the Black Sun between them.
Jachin, Boaz, and the Black Sun.
The Twin Pillars and the gateway in between can be represented by the number 101. In Twin Peaks, the entrance to The Black Lodge, a place that exists in another dimension, is depicted as a rabbit hole between two trees, which resembles a zero between two ones. In George Orwell’s famous novel 1984, Room 101 is a place where people’s worst fears come true. In The Matrix, Neo’s apartment number is 101. Here it’s interesting to note that he escapes the matrix by going in room 303. This year marks 303 years since Freemasonry was founded. Perhaps they will make their getaway come December? Many occult researchers claim the Twin Towers were supposed to represent the Twin Pillars. There even used to be a statue called The Sphere placed in between them, making the buildings resemble the 101 Gateway.
The Black Lodge entrance from Twin Peaks and The Sphere centered between the Twin Towers.
Is it possible that the WTC‘s design was intended to create an interdimensional doorway using sacred geometry? Some say the Twin Towers even acted as a tuning fork. The buildings were wrapped in aluminum alloy with a resonant hollow interior. If you look at the picture above and to the right, you can kind of see how the sides of the towers even look like one. The Colgate Clock also once faced the WTC from across the water. If you’ve read my previous threads, you’ll probably notice it’s octagonal shape. Many portals in pop culture are portrayed as being 8 sided, like CERN, the largest particle collider in the world. Many conspiracy theorists speculate CERN is actually an interdimensional doorway. Some of the scientists working there have even said this. Why is there so much symbolism? Can it all really be just a coincidence at this point? Did 9/11 really alter our timeline?
The Colgate Clock compared to CERN.
According to many people, 9/11 is the reason the Statue of Liberty’s torch is closed. However, this isn’t true. Lady Liberty’s torch has been closed for over 100 years. Yet, there are some people who claim to have visited it. But according to official history, this is impossible. In this reality, The Black Tom Explosion was the reason the Lady Liberty’s torch closed. The explosion occurred in 1916 and was one of the first foreign attacks on US soil prior to Pearl Harbor. The explosion was also one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever documented. The explosion was so powerful it caused the outer wall of Jersey City's city hall to crack and the Brooklyn Bridge to shake. Ironically, besides Lady Liberty’s torch, the explosion lodged shrapnel in the clock tower of The Jersey Journal building, stopping the clock at 2:12 am. It also caused windows miles away in Times Square to shatter. Perhaps the matrix was trying to tell us something. Was this a time shattering event?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Tom_explosion
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d103887-r126254125-Statue_of_Liberty-New_York_City_New_York.html
Some people also claim they remember the Statue of Liberty being on Ellis Island. However, it has always been on Liberty Island. Once again, this is not something I recall learning in school. I’m sure some people do, but if my theory is correct, it’s because only some people in this timeline are from the old one. However, you can still find what appears to be residue left over from the previous reality.
Residue from a previous reality?
There are references in pop culture that seem to hint at the connection between the Mandela Effect and Lady Liberty as well. In the video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, the protagonist must find an exit portal to get himself out of a simulation. He finds it on the statue’s torch. In the movie Men in Black II, the statue’s torch is actually a giant Neuralyzer, a handheld device that uses a bright white flash to wipe people’s minds. At the end of the movie, the torch is activated and it illuminates the sky, erasing the memory of everyone in New York City.
The scenes from Assassin's Creed and Men In Black II
In the Netflix series The OA, a show about people who can jump between parallel universes, the Statue of Liberty shows up a lot. It seems to play an important role that was never really explained due to the show’s sudden cancellation. Some fans have pointed out that in one scene, Lady Liberty is holding her torch in the wrong hand. Some say this was just an error while others think it may have a deeper meaning.
The Statue of Liberty scene from The OA.
In The OA, the protagonist searches for The Rose Window, an object she says acts like a portal to other dimensions. I find this very symbolic considering the Twin Pillar symbolism mentioned earlier. Many older cathedrals have huge rose windows centered between two tall towers.
Old cathedrals with 101 Gateway symbolism built into the architecture.
If you’ve read my previous threads, you might have already made the connection that the 101 Gateway is another version of the Saturn Stargate. If you’re not familiar with the theory, we live in a simulation controlled by Saturn and the Moon, and The Elite are tying to break out. Our simulated reality is sometimes represented by a cube, and some say The Kaaba is one of these symbolic structures. The Kaaba sits between two pillars underneath a clocktower with a crescent moon on top.
Kaaba at Mecca.
Ironically, Fritz Koenig, the artist who created The Sphere sculpture between the Twin Towers, said The Kaaba was the inspiration behind his art installation. We can see this symbolism repeated in much of our pop culture as well. In the video game Fortnite, a giant cube destroys a location called Tilted Towers then forms a portal in the sky. At another point in the game, it is revealed that the cube’s true form is a giant demon named the Storm King. His horns are reminiscent of a crescent moon.
The second time you fight the Storm King its at a location called Twine Peaks lmao.
But are there anymore significant Mandela Effects associated with the WTC? According to some people, Hurricane Erin never happened in their timeline. If you‘re unaware, like I was until recently, there was a massive hurricane headed right for New York on the morning of 9/11. Because of the events that occurred on 9/11, I understand how Hurricane Erin would be easy to forget. Nevertheless, the storm was strange. Hurricane Erin, which was slightly larger than Hurricane Katrina, received almost no media coverage as she charged toward New York City. On the morning of 9/11, just as the planes were about to hit, Hurricane Erin grew to her largest size, but slowed down and remained almost stationary off the East coast. But right after the WTC fell, she made a sharp right turn and headed back out to sea.
Hurricane Erin on September 11th, 2001.
Hurricane Erin’s name is also interesting. The name Erin originated from Ériu, a goddess typically seen by the sea playing a harp. I find this curious becau HAARP uses extremely powerful radio frequencies to heat up the ionosphere and create clouds of plasma. Not only does this affect the climate, but the electromagnetic waves produced by it could hypothetically mess with our minds, perhaps changing or even erasing our memories. se many conspiracy theorists blame HAARP for both weather manipulation and the Mandela Effect.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89riu
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program
In my last thread, I talked about MH370. I believe it’s disappearance, like the events discussed in this thread, was a part of a Saturn Stargate ritual. A sacrifice to the god of time. Would it be beyond the god of the fourth dimension to grant someone access to a wormhole? Perhaps The Elite are not purposely creating Mandela Effects and branching timelines. Perhaps it is just a side effect of trying to beak the matrix. But I digress. At the end of my last thread I said I would talk more about rabbit symbolism and its association with time travel. However, before I talk about that, or the Law of One, I thought I should talk about this first. Thanks for reading.
Oh yeah, in case you did read my last thread, check this out. The fact that this article was posted 2 weeks after my MH370 conspiracy post has me kind of spooked lol.
https://nypost.com/2020/10/07/washed-up-debris-on-australian-beach-could-belong-to-missing-mh370/
submitted by nickhintonn333 to conspiracy [link] [comments]

15 Years. 6 hours. Lots of heartbreak.

Hello Reddit community. Fair warning, this is a very long one.
I (33m) met my ex (34f) 16 years ago when I was in high school. Over the internet back in the day when people enjoyed Yahoo Games. We met over the chat in there lol. I am from around Brantford, Ontario, Canada. She was from around Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. I will not bother with going into the long details of our relationship but will say that it is obviously a very long history but it has always been pretty roller coaster like. I will also say that I have a whole host of my own mental issues, like Anger, control, jealousy etc probably stemming from a pretty rough childhood i have had (i am currently in counseling after many years of not doing it). We have 2 children. A 9 year old daughter and a 2 year old daughter. At the time of the beginning of this incident, we were not together and she was living with our daughters and her sister in an apartment about 5 minutes away from me.
Around August of 2019, one of the two of them received a phonecall from their father and he revealed that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The two of them and our daughters immediately drove up to Pembroke to spend a week with him. His wife (their stepmom) is a real estate agent in the area. When they returned, the two of them had decided that they wanted to move to Pembroke to help their father.
When she told me this, as you would expect, I was not pleased. We got into some huge arguments. While I could understand wanting to help with their father, I was extremely upset about our children being taken away. I calmed down a bit eventually. During this time, they had been talking to their step mother and their step mother found out that renting apartments and renting houses is just as expensive, if not moreso than actually paying the mortgage on your own house. So now they get ideas about owning a house there. Found a house for like 108k. They decide to go to a bank to see about going together on a mortgage. Turns out the sister is so bad with her finances and debt she owes that they decline them.
I feel like at this point I should add in that although we may not have been together at that point (and throughout various other points of our history), the love I have for her (and obviously our daughters) has always been very strong. The 3 of them mean the world to me. My ex eventually comes to me. Asks me to go in with her on this mortgage because she knows I have a stable career and good income (im a dealer at the casino here in Brantford for the last 11 years). So her sister is irrelevant in the matter as it would be just hers and my house. Obviously I was not pleased. I talked this over with a few friends and my mom (who is my rock). They thought it was an insane thing to allow. I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place with this decision.
  1. I do this and co sign a mortgage with her. I would be doing this to help her and her sister out and I mean....frankly it would make me feel good to help them be with their family in a sense. But this also means our children and her move 5.5 hours away from me.
  2. I dont allow this and my ex resents me for the rest of my life and it makes any interactions we have in the future horrible and she also would probably financially make it much hard on me (going after more for child support, which at the time I believe I was paying 400 Canadian for our two girls).
I feel like I should also note that we have never been to court for anything. We have no custody agreement, they kind of just....live with her. When they were here in Brantford they were living with her and her sister and I would just come by and visit the three of them whenever I wanted or bring the girls to sleep at my place if I wanted. We've never had child support agreements either, beyond verbal.
Anyways...I eventually went through the bank checking on me process and decided to sign for this. From MINUTE ONE when she first told me about all of this, she said to me over and over again that this is just temporary. This is what made it easier on me. Because I knew that we could just grin and bare the distance for about a year to a year and a third. Her father was given 1 year to live btw.
So eventually they move on October 18th, 2019. From then until a few months ago I had been going up every other weekend from work to stay with the 3 of them. I went up with them at the beginning as I had a lot of paperwork to sign. I should note that we are BOTH co-owners of this property. 50% each. Same with the mortgage. BUT.....I have never invested a dime in this house. She borrowed a loan from her mother (my ex has never had much money at all) for the down payment of the house. She pays the mortgage and bills on the house.
When they were living in Brantford, she worked as a sale associate at a Winners store. When they moved to Pembroke, it was actually a good transition for her as she basically just transferred to the Winners in Pembroke. She eventually got a promotion to a supervisor there making a bit more money. To which she eventually, in October 2020, quit her job. I told her multiple times before she did this that it was a very very bad idea. But she didn't care. Said she just wanted to spend more time with our girls and she didn't get to while working, which is a ridiculous thing to say, because what parent wouldn't want to spend more time with their children. We work to provide a life for them.
Around January of 2020, her sister, who has always made rash decisions in her life....decided that she was going to move to Oshawa with some guys shes known for a few years (oshawa is like 4 hours away from Pembroke, 2 hours away from me in Brantford). By doing this....she kinda of double screwed my ex. One way, obviously, was that she was no longer going to be chipping in on bills. The other was that during this entire time that they lived in Pembroke, she didn't have a job (still doesn't, but irrelevant), so she was a free babysitter for my ex to watch over our children. This put my ex in a very uncomfortable position. The two of them really fought over this. When her sister moved out, various friends and family members would chip in a few hours here and there watching our girls, but nobody was consistent. Shes never had a reliable support system.
This continued until about the beginning of July 2020. Her sister arrived back at the house in Pembroke one day and discovered that my ex had left our 9 year old to watch our 2 year old for 8 hours a day while she was at work. This had shockingly been going on for 2 weeks. My ex had told me that her father and stepmother would be watching our daughters while she worked, obviously lied to me. So her sister lost her mind when she got there, called Childrens Aid Society and reported it. Waited until my ex got back from work and they got into a huge blow up. The sister left back for Oshawa. My ex called me that same night and told me all of this. I immediately told her that I would come there tonight and take our girls back to my place to help out for an indefinite amount of time. I left at 1030 that night and drove through the night except for a power nap and got there at like 8am. My daughters and I left later that night to come back to Brantford. They stayed with me for a month and a half from the beginning of July to lateish August. We had an absolute blast together. During this time, my ex was in a very dark place. She was very depressed about me "taking our girls away", as insulting as that is. She was also dealing with health issues at the time which eventually required emergency gall bladder removal. She was sidelined from work for about 2 weeks, sleeping like 18 hours a day. During this time, she apparently decided that she wants a lot more tattoos. So she was talking to a girlfriend from work about this and her friend told her that she should get in contact with her cousin or something. A guy who would give her tattoos for free or at least very cheap. Obviously everyone knows that the words free and tattoos never go well together. So they started hanging out and she started paying this person in Tom Hortons and pizza slices for tattoos. For real. Obviously I havent huge divulged in my own mental issues, but if you knew me.....you would know this does not sit well with me. I started being very accusatory and jealous. Saying to her over and over "oh, this is your new bf then eh?" Constantly she would say over and over again, "OP, stop being such an idiot. Hes just a friend. We've met each other at very dark times in each other's lives and we enjoy our time together." Eventually I brought the girls back to Pembroke. School was going to be starting back for my 9 year old. She had found a day care for our 2 year old. Everything seemed like it was set in place.
Now we are at about October 2020. This person is coming over to our house in Pembroke all the time or my ex and our girls are going there. I should mention that my 9 year old has said repeatedly that she does not feel comfortable around this person and finds him very weird. Says he's nice to her and her baby sister but he just doesn't seem to care much and he just makes her feel odd and he's weird and she doesn't care to be around him. So as this is going on....my jealousy back in Brantford is getting worse and worse. It got to the point that there was a night when this person made a supper for the 4 of them and I was talking to my daughter on the phone and she told me about this meal that they had and it was very very good. This didn't sit well with me. We finished our chat and I was texting my ex and told her something along the lines of "this is absolute bullshit. This is some husband and wife shit. I feel very uncomfortable with this person around our children." She basically said, again, that I was being ridiculous and that they are extremely good friends and this is what best friends do. I lost my temper and basically told her over text, "fuck this shit. Im done. I just....I dont want anything to do with any of this now. Enjoy your family of four." I should say obviously I dont actually want to revoke any sort of rights I was just jealous and angry and hurt.
Let's fast forward a bit more. November of 2020. Now, they seem to be sleeping over there at this persons house pretty much every night. Which is super fucking weird as like I told you guys.....my daughter does not like this. She finds it very uncomfortable.
At this point, due to covid among other factors....I really haven't seen them in about 2 months beyond video chat. I had started a new job but had a string of 5 days off in a row. Decided to make a bit of a rash judgement and drive up there to surprise my girls. But I wont lie, it was also because I was getting increasingly nervous. I arrive there on a Friday night at like 630 pm. I figured they were over there as there was no one at the house we owned (tbh probably a good thing as it avoids the confrontation). I asked my ex over text if she could come back to the house so I could hang out with the 3 of them. It didn't go well. She says "OP, are you insane??! We have not been on good terms lately, why would you think this would go well? I will bring the girls back but im not staying there." Than I just lost it. "This is absolutely ridiculous. I wanted to spend time with all of you." "I will not be staying there." "OK....well....I guess you had better just not come back then cuz I can tell you if you do....I will follow you to that house." "Omg are you insane? I'm calling the cops this is insane"blah blah. It never happened. We calmed down and I eventually stayed in the house for the night. She brought our girls over in the afternoon while she did grocery shopping but they already had plans to go out with her cousin to look at Christmas lights that night. I was invited to come but it would've been way too awkward. I just drove the 5.5 hours home.
It just got worse from here when I got home. This is like beginning of December. The very next day her father passes. Soon afterwards, she announces to me that they are no longer going to be moving back. Im absolutely floored and beyond hurt. Huge fighting ensues. It gets very nasty with her saying terrible stuff like she will go for full custody, etc etc. I remind her that we had a deal to move back after her father passed and that she can't do this with our kids. She says she is not stopping me from seeing them. Willing to meet every weekend for me to have them. This is no life. This is no life to formulate a good relationship with our daughters. This is beyond cruel. She claims im the bad one as im trying to force our daughters out of the house they love and the school our 9 year old loves and the quiet neighborhood. So.....now its about mid December. I am getting them to stay with me from December 27th- January 9th (they are here now). Its probably about the 21st at this point and she decides to announce to me that they are a couple and have been for a month now. Obviously im crushed. Shes said so many times all she ever wanted was for us to work out. Wanted me and her forever. Wouldn't have ever happened if it wasn't for my poor behavior and all that. But shes happy now she says. Many many days of crying ensue. Rage and anger. Jealousy. Insane insane jealousy. Here comes the creeper parts. So. Over the last 2 or so months I've learned some details. Dude apparently has a child on the way with a woman but she moved 5 hours away from him when she first found out she's pregnant (probably should've been a red flag for my ex). Guy works in the military in Petawawa, a town nearby Pembroke. Big, big military town. Hes a chef or some such shit there. Now....im not condoning my next actions. My eldest daughter had made me wary of this person as well as obviously my jealousy. I started doing some social media digging. Found out who his ex is. Started a very awkward dialogue with her one day (around the 23rd or something). It blossomed into actual conversation for days on end. Turns out, according to her and some serious shit she showed me during our many, many conversations.....this guy is seriously trouble. Massive control issues (I know...pot meet kettle), manipulation and grooming. On multiple occasions this guy would hold knives to her and threaten if she ever left him that he'd fucking end her or himself. Many many times of beating her up both verbally and physically (I saw a bunch of pretty bad pictures). Use to choke her out against a wall until she passed out and then would proceed to have his way with her.....really messed up stuff. Heres the real kicker. Curious how these two met? Not sure exactly how they met....but how they ended up actually getting together and having a 4 year relationship is because.......they both came into the relationship positive for genital herpes. Genital friggin herpes. He cheated on her many, many times during their relationship (apparently grounds for firing from the military). During these times that he's cheated on her....he apparently infected multiple people with this STI. He was scared moreso when a few women tried to confront him over text or other social media claiming that they wanted to get in contact with him and would sue (apparently thats a thing, I didnt know), than when his girlfriend found out as he knew he could smooth over the fact he cheated on her because he had her groomed and scared. So obviously he has not told my ex this, even though his ex that I've been speaking with literally described where exactly they are in his house as shes been living there for 4 years (up until about may/June 2020).
I confronted my ex about all of this stuff. She wasn't hearing any of it. Doesn't believe anything. Laughed me off. Says he's treated her nothing but good since theyfe been together. Said she won't put up with anything bad, not even once, but nothing has happened. Only thing that gave her any kind of pause was when I told her that literally less than a month ago he was texting his ex, asking her to "please come back, please come back to me. You are my everything. I want to spend the rest of my life with yiu" etc etc. So clearly this guy doesn't give a damn about my ex and she is just the current thing for him to pass his time with.
So. I think we are just about at the end of the story. Not much else has happened since that as, like I mentioned much earlier, I've had our daughters with me since dec 27th, until Jan 8th (for now). Oh. Actually.....one thing. She continues to show incredibly poor parenting skills. During this time that they've been with me.....sometimes around the 29th....she has actually gotten him to move in with them at OUR house. This is so beyond messed up. One month dating and this happens. Our kids don't even like him. Like I said earlier, my 9 year old has said he's very weird and strange and makes her uncomfortable. But she claims she's doing this all in the best interest of them. She justifies this because this guy is now apparently renting out rooms to two people at his house while chipping in some bills at our house. So the dude is using her as a cheap place to crash (the mortgage on our house in Pembroke is literally like 330$ a month), while he profits off his house. I have thought of doing multiple (probably bad) things, but I feel like someone needs to stop this terrible person before he hurts people beyond just my ex. I have definitely thought of contacting the Petawawa Military Police and telling them about all the horrible things I know about this person and telling them to check his medical files (the military doctor issues this guy his herpes medication, Valtrex). Ive also thought about sending him a pretty serious message, though that will probably amount to nothing. I can provide what I've typed up already about it if someone wants those details.
I will finish this off with the legal questions.
  1. She is scared as she thinks I can force the sale of the house as a co owner. Can I? Would I have a chance?
  2. Am I able to get them to move back? I realize thats a multi layered question. Having a verbal deal I also realize probably looks bad on me....but even if she denies that this deal ever happened....why on earth would I ever just randomly allow our children to be moved 6 hours away forever? No sane person would.
  3. I want this monster away from our children. Is it unwise to try and work up the balls to talk to military police?
  4. Its to the point that I dont even feel comfortable bringing our children back to meet up with her halfway on Jan 9th. Like I stated previously, we've never had any sort of custody arrangements. So, in my eyes, neither of us are more allowed to have the children than the other. What are my options here?
If yiu made it all the way here.....thank you for your time. I cant express enough gratitude. This has absolutely been the year from hell for me, even without covid.
TL;DR- ex and I had an agreement to move back with our children. Shes backing out of this. What are the options. Do I have a case? New guy in the picture very much scares me and our children are seriously uncomfortable. Can I do anything? Co own a house together. 50/50 split. What can be done about this to force the sale and potentially get things going in my favour?
submitted by Phonyspoon to relationships [link] [comments]

Why do we feel disappointed with Cyberpunk 2077?

In this post I will be outlining all the aspects of the game ASIDE from the bugs that contribute to the communities disappointment in this 'action-adventure' (not RPG apparently) game, ie anything that the managers and planners had long term decisions about. This is very long and is compiled from posts within the community on reddit and in news, CDPR public statements and my opinion.
I would like to start with the opening statement that I believe the bugs will be fixed, I accept the performance issues are a major problem and were poorly handled by CDPR. This is indicative of very poor management of expectations and execution of what must have been a 'plan'. Now I will proceed with my perceived the gameplay issues / disappointments.
  1. Story and immersion - story itself is very good, however they have created a beautiful world with no life, as people have seen when comparing the AI and NPC's to RDR2 and the immersion into the life of your character, it is jarring how bad the NPC's can be in Cyberpunk, the same people sat in the same place all the time saying the same things. We know the technology and ability exists, no reason this wasn't possible.
  2. Fighting mechanics, styles and abilities - comparing them to any of the other games in the market inc. Witcher I was underwhelmed. Skill trees add so little it doesn't feel like you can do interesting and impactful specs (I was focussing pistol dmg and multipliers with loads of points and just can't tell the difference when fighting). Not to mention other aspects like fun tools, different fighting combos for melee weapons, some sort of equivalent of poisons on your sword in Witcher and all the different spells used for diff opponents and scenarios and actually having to think like we do in similarly made games. Cyberpunk is point and shoot, oh and this bullet can go round things, and this bullet is bouncy. Ok GREAT let me continue dribbling onto my controller as I click that button. Not to mention the melee combat is a joke, hitting enemies with gun butt does next to nothing and hardly stuns enemies, the blades and bludgeons have few animations and are clunky, there is no fluidity to the combat, no counters or combos which just makes it stale and repetitive - disappointing considering how fun the Witcher combat was.
  3. RPG mechanics and world detail - we have already been over the NPC's, now I will go over the distinct lack of things to do in the city and what features I feel they have completely overlooked in a show of gross mismanagement. Take back to GTA San Andreas, Assassins Creed and Skyrim and you have tonnes more things to do in the world. It just feels so empty. No real character and car customisation and the stress on stats ultimately gives you no choice in making your character look how you want - not that you ever see him. All I do is drink and fuck a few prostitutes, honestly it's a fucking deplorable decision to attract dirty little teenagers. Feel like you have debased yourselves with the lack of tact and imagination here. For me it's easy to imagine what could be easy to include and has been in other games, why not in Cyberpunk? Perhaps multiple food vendors, barber / tattoo parlour, gym or a cyberware training centre, casino and gambling tables, mini card / board games, sports games, chop shops, black market, guilds and associated missions, bank and shop robbing, pickpocketing, treasure hunts, more puzzles, points of interest and high viewpoints, to name a few ideas - all of them previously done.
  4. Character and Vehicle controls - combat mechanics and stealth are clunky unintuitive and often simply don't work. Stealth is too difficult and I don't feel there is a difference with these mechanics on other difficulty settings (but can't confirm this now), the execution system is awful I usually end up spotted while I'm holding on to an enemy - just let me dispose of him and carry away with ease. The hacking in the game is no fun, you could make this so entertaining and funny) not much more to say here. Driving is ok but could be improved, drifting or cornering doesn't feel right. The HUD is a mess and the mini-map is ridiculous while driving, you can never see the corners coming so you just end up crashing every time there is a turn or you have to drive slowly all the time.
  5. The dream - the promise and idea this would truly contend with the top games out there and change the face of gaming, this was certainly the idea sold to me and with the time involved in development and the communications we received I was expecting something truly innovative. I would like to say that I enjoy this game and aside from bugs on release it's worth the money for me - but this is not the point I'm making. We all wanted this to be as good as it could be and it feels like it's lacking. I cannot for the life of me think of anything really new / innovative in this game; yes a brilliant story, yes the possibility of incredible graphics with a top end PC, however, the amount of stress put on lip syncing technology, making screenshots, ray tracing, in depth stories and extra 'out-game' content like merch and comic stories just seems ridiculous when they have such better things to improve.
Its like serving a terrible dinner on a beautiful ornate plate, what's the point if it tastes bad?
submitted by Semi-K to cyberpunkgame [link] [comments]

Lat-est S-ex Tum-blr Nw_

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80 Year Old Woman 807 808 80s 8tracks Playlist 90 Granny 90's Moms 90s _bbc A Ateur Wife On The Beach At A Lifetime Of A Perfect Ending Scenes Vid A Side Of A Wadood A Wife's Nightmare Scene Nude Aanal Wpmen Aaron Aarp Abc Of Abdl Abdl Sissy Abducted For Abduction Abigail Spencer Abnormal Aboriginy Abortion Abs Abuse Abused Daughter Vid Abused Abused Vid Abusive Accedental Accidental Cum Gay Video Accidental Accidentally Accomodating Wives Acrobat Actor Male Actor Male Vid Actresses Having Actual Hotel Maid Actual Wife Actual Wife Videos Addicted To And F On Addicted To Gay Porno Addictedtofuckingand Adolescent Adopted Daughter Nude Adorable Lesbian Gif Adorable Teen Videos Adrenaline Adrenaline Wife Adrianna Luna Aduilt Naked Women Adult Amateur Adult Ameutre Adult Amutre Adult Anime Adult Bbw Adult Beach Adult Book Store On Adult Bookstore Gay Photos On Adult Bookstore Phogay Tos On Adult Bookstore Photos On Adult Breastfeeding Adult Breastfeeding Video Adult Brother And Sister On 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https://preview.redd.it/izapwkrcdd661.jpg?width=300&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5954285d6770a98c335d04f93a365dd42d555b51
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Spookiness of Magia Record: Yukika's Fear Factory

Previous: The Humanity of Kanagi (Vampire)
Fear is a concept that we're all accustomed to. As humans, we move toward things that move us toward feelings of pleasure and away from those that inflict pain or misery. Some things are ingrained into us, for example, snakes and spiders tend to arouse an automatic response related to anxiety, while it's common for us to avoid extremely high places or paths full of sharp objects.
As was the case of Little Albert, the baby used in the (questionably moral) experiment that demonstrated conditioning an individual to fear something (in this case, fuzzy objects, something that stuck with Albert as he got older), fears can be "taught", either through personal experiences or second-hand. Interestingly enough, the concept of fear and hesitance develops early in our lives, as demonstrated in such experiments as this that observes infants who, at the start of learning to crawl, will not slow their pace when traveling over glass platforms, but begin to slow as they become more experienced with moving around, something that can be explained as a result of "trial and error", as infants fall and tumble.
Easy enough, right? Us avoiding things that certainly will harm us can be justified without much thought required...but what about individuals who chase risk, these so called "daredevils" that would appear almost suicidal from most of our perspectives?
Yukika happens to be one of my favorite characters in Magia Record, both in design and also her character background. As is the case with most characters in this series, Yukika has motivation behind her (reckless) behavior, which makes reading into her more interesting. With that all being said:

Yukika in Wonderland

I'll say it again, but Yukika's aesthetic is really fantastic to me, in that, as some of you might recognize already, it is based off of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. What is amazing is the fact that this isn't a random choice in design, rather, it's based on the reckless/brave choices of the main character, Alice. From the start of the story, Alice spots the famous rabbit and immediately decides to chase it, even going as far as falling through a rabbit hole. This situation would coin the term "falling down the rabbit hole", which describes one moving (usually willfully) into a situation that is difficult, but very tempting.
Another famous scene involves Alice finding a suspicious potion with the label "Drink me" attached to it, to which she responds:
“Well, I'll eat it. If it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!”
Most of us here would, hopefully, not be so open with drinking some random bottle that we found in a random spot, especially with the innocent but foreboding message to "drink it". Alice, however, chose to take a gamble and chug the thing as if it were lemonade. Coincidentally enough, Yukika's nature and effect of her wish bares semblance to that of Alice's adventures, where it is revealed in her respective event that Yukika tends to teleport or be drawn to difficult situations that can only be solved with her own wit (gambit).
Looking at Yukika's appearance, she is modeled off a popular interpretation of casino-workers, which includes fancy suits and, err...bunny ears. Sometimes. This, of course, fits Yukika's theme as a gambler and her inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, but her artist is just really into bunny-girls and takes a lot of pride in Yukika, hence him being so active on his Twitter. Most of the content is SFW, but tread carefully, as he has drawn Yukika more perversely.
Bunny's are a symbol of luck, being popular for their feet, in particular, but are also rather impulsive animals. In addition to this, they are also rather fearful little critters who show fear of heights, closed in spaces, my niece, and even cuddling, despite our desire to want to hug the furry little things. It's common for animals, especially of the small variety, to show fear, however, rabbits are most known to panic and can even die of literal heart attacks if placed under too much pressure.
Hanging from Yukika's neck is her heart-shaped soulgem, which is chained to her choker. The heart is, of course, is pretty vital to us, so Yukika having it out and dangling by a chain is meant to demonstrate how her life is constantly hanging over danger...literally, considering that a magical girl's soulgem is what keeps them up and moving. To demonstrate this, Yukika wields a basic rapier, which, in of itself, isn't remarkable. But here's the thing: rapiers are not at all intended to be brought to real fights. They're just not suited for real combat when you consider the fact they're smaller than other blades/melee weapons and not at all good against an onslaught of opponents. In older times, rapiers would be used for duels, much like how cowboys would famously duel with handcannons, where the first person to land a hit would often be the winner, while the other loser gets a free ticket to the afterlife.
Put into perspective, Yukika would be really outmatched in a straight sword-fight against, say, Momoko, as a major advantage she'd have, speed, is rather moot, as Momoko is strong enough as a magical girl to swing her giant sword around without much trouble. Yukika does, however, have precision, and if by some lucky chance she got a clear stab at Momoko's soulgem, that would be all she wrote. In other words, much like how Yukika's in-game abilities surrounding an emnity effect, are high-risk, high-reward, so is her combat ability.
So just why is Yukika like this?

An Addiction to Thrill

As you probably know already, there are real-life people out there who are similar to Yukika. Some people jump from planes, bridges, mountains, others wrestle with apex predators, and then there are those who are foolish enough to throw money at gacha games for a...a small chance to...err...
...before I get a bit too real here, there are plenty of real live daredevils with different motives. Some like money and fame, but that doesn't explain why non-famous individuals are willing to risk their lives, even when they payoff is not at all equivocal to the risk/danger.
Yukika has a very high-quality upbringing, where she receives a very good education and would easily be considered pampered. With such a lifestlye, one doesn't have to be too concerned with most stresses that afflict commonfolk, paying bills, providing resources for a family, otherwise climbing the ladder toward a better life, considering people like Yukika are already there. This sounds extremely comfortable on paper, and I'm pretty sure we won't see Touka complaining about inheriting a few of her dad's private jets when she gets older. To Yukika, however, a life without any risks is boring and unfulfilling, made even worse by the fact that she isn't even at the top of her own food chain.
So where does a girl like Yukika get her thrills? Apparently through legally and morally questionable game centers that would make EA reevaluate their sales tactics. Although we are designed to avoid potential harm, some activities, especially gambling, feel so damn good. This is something I think a lot of us here can relate to. Think about all the times you've rolled the "free gacha" in Magia Record or any other mobile game and compare it to rolling the premium gacha. Odds are: you probably find doing so a lot less exciting (outside specific examples) as it lacks "grand" rewards, but also a large degree of "risk" since we're using a less limited resource.
Rolling, in general, is meant to make us feel excited, and this goes from audio/visual cues that indicate a "grand prize" HIT to our favorite word: "limited". Same can be said for standard casinos, there are details everywhere that make us want to keep on rolling, and this is perfect for a girl like Yukika, as these sorts of thrills affect just about anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status/wealth. Granted, some of us can afford risk more than others, of course.
This can all be explained by adrenaline, the fight/flight juice that kicks in our bodies when experiencing high levels of stress. This reaction was originally supposed to help us run from dinosaurs by allowing our bodies to achieve superhuman-like levels of strength and endurance, but because we're all clear of most those dangers, adrenaline pops for circumstances that revolve less around getting eaten. Needless to say, this "high" feels rather pleasant, and gambling, in general, already toys with the reward centers in our brain.
There's a bit of a catch to this. As humans, we tend to be impressively resilient, and the more we're exposed to negative stimuli, the faster we build a tolerance to it. This applies to spicy/bitter foods, horror movies/scary things, violence/indecent imagery, and, of course gambling/danger. In terms of defense, this is awesome, but in terms of wanting to be stimulated and often, it's a bit of a killjoy. Also very dangerous for people like Yukika whose response would be to seek even greater danger.
There's a quite a bit more to this, and I only covered gambling, as that's the most recognizable example for us gacha players. If you're interested but want an easy-to-digest source, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji and Kakegurui toy around with compulsive behavior. Admittedly, though, I'd suggest the latter after the former, despite Kakegurui having one of my favorite, modern anime characters who is also voiced by my favorite Japanese voice actress.
Otherwise, Poker Alice can tell us more about Yukika's behavior:

Poker Alice, The Doppel of Boredom

The Doppel of boredom. Its form is a daredevil. The master of this emotion feels a great and terrible boredom towards her peaceful life, spent sitting atop an easy chair. This Doppel imitates the form of an imaginary monster known as a “Dare-Devil,” and constantly covers its master’s eyes to prevent her from becoming aware of the danger in front of her. The Doppel currently boasts an undefeated record in battle, and is beginning to feel the same dangerous boredom as its master at the fact that no enemy powerful enough to overwhelm it has yet appeared. As a result, it’s been fighting more and more perilous battles by the day… but since her vision is obscured, its master still peacefully allows it to guard her back even as we speak.
As if Karin's doppel didn't have a surprising reference, Poker Alice is a direct reference to an old, western movie that followed the main character, Alice Moffat, played by the lovely Elizabeth Taylor. As you would expect from the trailer, Alice is a gambling gal who, like Yukika, desired to escape her life as comfort for one that was a bit more dangerous and exciting. The movie takes its name from "Poker" Alice Huckert, a real live Englishwoman who worked/managed a casino and brothel ring.
Alice was always fond of poker, but this hobby became more serious after her husband died from a mining accident. Since then, Alice would splurge all of her winnings on luxuries such as clothing. Along with being a famed poker player, Alice was known for seducing men/opponents to get an edge in-game, as well as carrying a gun at all times and being constantly drunk. But it is said that she did not play on Sundays, so as we could see, Alice was a woman with high moral values. Eventually, at the age of 60, Alice's life of craziness would catch up to her, as she would be arrested for prostitution and bootlegging.
Alice, the Doppel, is a strange being with hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades tattoo'd on its body. We know these as parts of the suit we see on playing cards, with hearts symbolizing love (romantic and/or sexual), clubs as desire (for knowledge), diamonds as a passion for obtaining wealth, and spades as a forewarning for danger, most particularly death--otherwise known as the 4 components of human nature.
Alice and Yukika sit atop a rocking chair, something that is normally comforting and practically free of danger, however, such a thing can become dangerous if one were to wildly swing on it. It's form is that of a monster which plays on the term "daredevil", or people who are aggressive risk-takers. Alice represents the idea that humans tend to gradually become more and more resistant to fear as they experience such stimuli.
As such: it is layered in nature, which we can describe by observing Yukika, Alice, and the chair they sit on:
Alice is a very mouthy Doppel, which reminded me of the Album Always Open Mouth by the band "Fear". However, this band is an extremely unlikely reference, given how underground the band is, so I'm about 99% sure that this is just pure coincidence.
After every battle, Alice becomes stronger, but this is more a curse than it is a blessing, for Alice desires a constant stream of challenge and risks. In response, this Doppel seeks out more dangerous foes, unknown to Yukika, who has lost her sense of danger. For all intents and purposes, Alice is very compatible with Yukika, a girl who is at her best (namely during gameplay) when she faces imminent danger.
As a final note, I know I stretched this to be part of my Halloween series, despite it not being very spooky, so, uhh...ooga booga!
Next is the conclusion to my Halloween series, featuring Holy Momoko. After that, I will continue my normal schedule with the Kazumi girls and then move on to Mikage, a character I've actually been working on on/off for a month now.
submitted by Genprey to magiarecord [link] [comments]

Recon in Yartar and Attack of the Mud-Fish - Ch.11 - Session 23

(In the previous post I titled it as being Ch.9. but it was actually Ch.11. Please forgive me, I will now delete this entire series. (Just kidding about the deletion, obviously)).
Previous Session: https://www.reddit.com/stormkingsthundecomments/k353q3/music_and_political_malevolence_in_maelstrom_ch_9/ After leveraging diplomacy and caution in Maelstrom our heroes gained a measure of Serissa's trust, much to Iymrith's dismay. The Queen Regent of the Storm Giants gave the tiny adventurers a clue found at the scene of her mother's murder, and teleported them to Everlund to begin their investigation. In Everlund they finally figured out how Iymrith has been so easily spying on them and had Krowen remove the Divination magic on Zep's sword. Now they head to Yartar to seek the connections between The Golden Goose coins, The Grand Dame river barge, and the Kraken Society. They hope to back to Everlund in time to meet back up with Klauth's airship by tomorrow.
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Cast: Level 9
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As they're teleported from Everlund to Yartar they find themselves standing in a greenhouse with glass fogged from the humidity. Out back in what appears to be a lush garden they can just barely make out the form of a man moving around before they hear an ominous, almost sentient sounding howl of wind. They head into the garden and Lyra notices it's not lush at all, but in fact the plants are withered and tangled with weeds and in desperate need of water and a trim. The Hallucinatory Terrain spell fades and she sees the unkept landscaping for what it is. The man they find in the garden introduces himself as Kolbaz, the groundskeeper and attendant mage responsible for keeping the teleportation circle a secret. He explains that he has to spend so much of his time keeping neighborhood kids away that he can't care for the garden.
The party asks him about The Grand Dame river barge and casino but he doesn't have enough free time to know anything about such leisurely activities. When asked about the Kraken Society he explains that they definitely have a presence in the city, as Harper agents will come through the teleportation circle from time to time to investigate. He knows the local theives' guild has a beef with the Kraken Soc. but not how to get in contact with them. Kolbaz suggests the adventurers check into the local temple dedicated to Tymora as her priests and followers spend a lot of time in gambling halls.
As they leave the villa attached to the scraggly garden Zdravko shouts at some children to flee and Beau uses 'Disguise Self' to look like a skeleton before giving mock-chase towards them for a few paces to help Kolbaz out a little.
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Tymora's Temple in Yartar is a building called "Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenings" but was converted from an old, ominous-looking keep of black stone built into the side of the small mountain at the heart of the small city. The interior is much more befitting of the name - there are lush rugs and colorful tapestries and games of chance which count as offerings for the faithful.
Jormo greets a spirited, handsome young priest whose swoop of hair bobs as he talks expressively. He introduces himself as Kismet Nodarn. When asked about the Grand Dame he enthusiastically talks about how he frequented the Riverboat casino often; he's stopped going in recent days because his immense luck brought him under suspicion of the boat's Security officer. He was proven innocent, but doesn't like those bad vibes following him so he goes to different venues. He tells the group The Grand Dame is owned by a nobleman named Khaspere Drylund who also lives aboard the vessel.
The party has some time to kill and asks Kismet what he recommends to do around Yartar. He tells them that while it isn't much to look at, he enjoys frequenting a dive tavern called 'Karletta's Table' just on the edge of "the bad part of town." He says the food is great and the ownehost - whom the establishment is named after - takes great care of all her patrons.
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Karletta's Table is a single story flat-roofed building sandwiched between a three and a four story tenement apartment buildings. Street Urchins sit on the streets outside; a couple run out from behind the tavern with fistfuls of bread while a couple more climb stacked crates to play on the roof.
Zdravko strides through the saloon-style doors with the rest of the party close behind. Inside they see a couple rough-looking patrons seated and talking quietly amongst themselves. Beau is searching carefully for any Kraken Tattoos but sees none. Behind the bar is a long order window that gives full view of the kitchen. A woman in leather armor is giving instructions to the chefs before turning her attention to the newcomers, "Find a seat; someone will be with you in a moment!"
The group sits at one of the tables for six, partitioned to provide some privacy and discuss how they should go about things. They agree that maybe having less discretion than usual would be a good strategy: if the Kraken Society catches wind of them poking around, maybe the fight comes to them -or- maybe asking more openly just gets them answers more quickly. A win either way, right?
The armored woman from the kitchen - a Half-Elf, possibly with Drow Ancestry but deep blue-dye masks the white locks of hair that would give it away - comes to the table and introduces herself as Karletta, "Don't tell me nobody's come to take your order yet?" and mutters to herself, "Just can't find good help..."
Beau orders the special: Floundering Flouder, and a Tuna Pate for her Tressym. Karletta is very amused by the flying cat, and by Zdravko's strange way of speaking. The party offers to buy Karletta a drink in exchange for her trove of rumors as she claims "Oh, I've got rumors up the wazoo!"
Karletta goes back to the kitchen to place the orders and they can hear her yelling at the staff that they'd better get their butts in gear because she's taking a break and they need to learn to function without her hovering over their shoulders.
She returns to the party's table with food, and a smile, "Now, let's have that drink!"
They ask her about the Kraken Society and she hesitates in thought for a moment, "Oh, they're some sort of gang, right? My friend Kestrel Hedgehopper hates them for some reason." Beau tries to get a read on Karletta who seems to be genuine.
Karletta goes on, "Y'know, I've got a good feeling about y'all. I'm going to send you - a bunch of strangers - to my friend Kestrel's house. Don't prove my trust to be foolishness, alright?"
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They go to Kestrel's house, a fine two-story dwelling that suggests a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Despite there being no bell to ring, Zep uses his Kenku mimicry to produce the sound of a loud medium-sized bell. After some time it becomes apparent that nobody is answering. Karletta did mention that Kestrel spends most of her day traveling from place to place within Yartar so they leave a note saying they have mutual business to discuss.
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They make their way towards 'The Fishyard' - Yartar's open-air market - in hopes of finding some guards with whom they can leverage a meeting with the town's Waterbaron. Zep tries to peel off from the group to find someone connected with the thieves guild but Lyra notices and suggests they all stick together.
Lucky for Zep, the thieves guild finds him first... as they pass an alley they hear the sound of a loud medium-sized bell, nearly identical in tone and volume to the one Zep made by Kestrel's house. They turn and hear a small voice add, "Back here, c'mon!"
Our heroes turn down the alley to find a single middle-aged halfling woman who motions for them to follow before running further down the alley and turning a corner. When they too reach the corner they don't see her but see a crate with a loose board; they hear her voice from inside, "Quick, in here."
They enter the crate and realize it has a false back that enters into a dusty, unused warehouse. There the small halfling woman turns towards them with her hands on her hips and with a smirk says, "Heard y'all were poking around my house and that we may have a common enemy."
Kestrel Hedgehopper goes on to tell the adventurers that the Kraken Society is much like the Zhentarim, except that individuals have less freedom, and that it functions more like a cult. It's an old organization whose core tenets always revolve around Krakens or the idea of attaining Godhood much as Krakens do. The current iteration of the Kraken Society seems to be in a phase of attempting to amass wealth and power and this has put them at odds with her own organization.
Using the Thieves Cant he learned from his Flock, Zep confirms that she belongs to the local thieves guild.
Kestrel informs the group that the Grand Dame plays an important role in the Kraken Society's local operations, that the ship's owner is undoubtedly a member of the Kraken Society, and that none of her organization has been able to gain access to the river barge which leads her to believe they've been infiltrated and why she's eager to let outsiders have a go at her enemies.
The party asks if she knows of the missing nobles, and she says she knows of them, but it doesn't impact her business so her organization really doesn't care. Kestrel does know for a fact that one of the missing nobles was on the Grand Dame the night he went missing.
The adventurers part ways with Kestrel who leaves a different way she entered through. They head back to the market to look for some guards, still hoping to access the Waterbaron.
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Before they can reach any guards they feel a rumble in the earth. The crowds around them all look around in a collective, "that was weird" manner. Another rumble and one of the nearby vendor stalls is swallowed up by a sinkhole! As everyone begins to scatter, 4 humanoids resembling carp with arms and legs leap up out of the sinkhole. They raise shields and 2-pronged, spiked spears above their heads as they burble a chant in an unrecognizable language. Then a writhing, slithering mound of mud slides up out of the hole as it congeals into the shape of something resembling a bizarre, mutated catfish which slides forward towards Zdravko!
The sentient mudfish slashes long muddy whisker-tentacles at the Monk of Bahamut before he gets a chance to release and hone his inner energy. The mud-tentacles seem to be saturated in a foul poison which the hearty Zdravko resists.
Zdravko's counter attacks land hard and the mud rumbles in something akin to a language which Beau understands.
Beau slings Eldritch Blasts at the mud-fish while shouting in Primordial, "Why are attacking us?"
One of the fishy humanoids tries to sling a net over Zdravko but misses. Another casts the Bane spell at Zep, Beau, and Jormo immediately after Lyra Blesses them but only Zep fails to resist it. A 3rd fish man runs up to attack Zdravko, while a 4th does nothing because just then Jormo weaves a spell that causes tons of shadowy black tentacles to writhe up from the ground to ensnare it, the net-thrower, and the mud-fish.
Responding to Beau's question, the now restrained mud rumbles, "Why aren't you worshipping me?"
Lyra discerns there to be a high likelihood of Thunder damage being particularly effective against this muddy foe as she flies over to catch it, and a couple fish-men in a Thunderwave.
Beau sees the effectiveness and runs in to Booming-Blade the mud-fish calling out to it, "I don't even know who you are, why aren't you worshipping ME??"
Jormo finishes off a fish-man with an elemental sphere as Zep leaps out from having hidden himself in the fleeing crowd to ambush the fish-guy that cursed him.
As Zdravko continues hammering away at the tentacled mud with his staff, the creature rumbles back to Beau in anger and indignation, "Because you are not a GOD!!" and it whips the Tabaxi with its tentacle. Jormo extends his Arcane Ward to absorb all the damage.
Beau sheathes his blade in thunderous energy once again and stabs the tentacled mud-fish and mocks, "Oooh, you're a god? Which one??"
Zep gets grappled by one of the fish-men's pincer staffs, but Jormo's ward absorbs the damage and the Tortle wizard finishes off the humanoid with another elemental blast.
Lyra flies over the not very impressive god-mud and blasts it with a second Thunderwave, weakening it significantly. In the final throws of combat, it tells Beau a name that sounds as much like gibberish as anything else, "Thisooletherkrals."
Zep runs in and thrusts his Kenku Blade right into the mud's largest "eye" to finish it off.
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As the guards arrive out of breathe from sprinting to "control the situation" the party asks if they can meet with Waterbaron Nestra Ruthiol, adding that they know about the missing nobles situation as well.
They are granted a 10 minute audience with Nestra, a shrewd and discerning middle aged woman.
She thanks them for their service and uses the mystery of the "mud-fish" as an excuse to send the scribe out to fetch an old tome on the matter. Once alone with the party she cuts to the chase about the missing nobles, inquiring how the party knows of this. Beau won't reveal their source, which the Waterbaron respects. She admits that Khaspere Drylund is her political adversary but assures them that he is no good, and likely involved in any unsavory business aboard the Grand Dame - he is definitely who they want.
Nestra recommends that whatever they plan on doing aboard the Grand Dame, they do it after it leaves Yartar for its all-night gambling cruise down river. She clarifies that despite whatever malfeasance is involved with Khaspere Drylund, his casino is a legitimate and registered business in Yartar and she would have to act on its behalf if there were any laws broken by the adventurers.
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Next Time: The Grand Dame!
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Recon in Yartar and Attack of the Mud-Fish - SKT - Session 23

Previous Session: https://www.reddit.com/dndstories/comments/k352ti/music_and_political_malevolence_in_maelstrom_skt/ After leveraging diplomacy and caution in Maelstrom our heroes gained a measure of Serissa's trust, much to Iymrith's dismay. The Queen Regent of the Storm Giants gave the tiny adventurers a clue found at the scene of her mother's murder, and teleported them to Everlund to begin their investigation. In Everlund they finally figured out how Iymrith has been so easily spying on them and had Krowen remove the Divination magic on Zep's sword. Now they head to Yartar to seek the connections between The Golden Goose coins, The Grand Dame river barge, and the Kraken Society. They hope to back to Everlund in time to meet back up with Klauth's airship by tomorrow.
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Cast: Level 9
.
As they're teleported from Everlund to Yartar they find themselves standing in a greenhouse with glass fogged from the humidity. Out back in what appears to be a lush garden they can just barely make out the form of a man moving around before they hear an ominous, almost sentient sounding howl of wind. They head into the garden and Lyra notices it's not lush at all, but in fact the plants are withered and tangled with weeds and in desperate need of water and a trim. The Hallucinatory Terrain spell fades and she sees the unkept landscaping for what it is. The man they find in the garden introduces himself as Kolbaz, the groundskeeper and attendant mage responsible for keeping the teleportation circle a secret. He explains that he has to spend so much of his time keeping neighborhood kids away that he can't care for the garden.
The party asks him about The Grand Dame river barge and casino but he doesn't have enough free time to know anything about such leisurely activities. When asked about the Kraken Society he explains that they definitely have a presence in the city, as Harper agents will come through the teleportation circle from time to time to investigate. He knows the local theives' guild has a beef with the Kraken Soc. but not how to get in contact with them. Kolbaz suggests the adventurers check into the local temple dedicated to Tymora as her priests and followers spend a lot of time in gambling halls.
As they leave the villa attached to the scraggly garden Zdravko shouts at some children to flee and Beau uses 'Disguise Self' to look like a skeleton before giving mock-chase towards them for a few paces to help Kolbaz out a little.
.
Tymora's Temple in Yartar is a building called "Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenings" but was converted from an old, ominous-looking keep of black stone built into the side of the small mountain at the heart of the small city. The interior is much more befitting of the name - there are lush rugs and colorful tapestries and games of chance which count as offerings for the faithful.
Jormo greets a spirited, handsome young priest whose swoop of hair bobs as he talks expressively. He introduces himself as Kismet Nodarn. When asked about the Grand Dame he enthusiastically talks about how he frequented the Riverboat casino often; he's stopped going in recent days because his immense luck brought him under suspicion of the boat's Security officer. He was proven innocent, but doesn't like those bad vibes following him so he goes to different venues. He tells the group The Grand Dame is owned by a nobleman named Khaspere Drylund who also lives aboard the vessel.
The party has some time to kill and asks Kismet what he recommends to do around Yartar. He tells them that while it isn't much to look at, he enjoys frequenting a dive tavern called 'Karletta's Table' just on the edge of "the bad part of town." He says the food is great and the ownehost - whom the establishment is named after - takes great care of all her patrons.
.
Karletta's Table is a single story flat-roofed building sandwiched between a three and a four story tenement apartment buildings. Street Urchins sit on the streets outside; a couple run out from behind the tavern with fistfuls of bread while a couple more climb stacked crates to play on the roof.
Zdravko strides through the saloon-style doors with the rest of the party close behind. Inside they see a couple rough-looking patrons seated and talking quietly amongst themselves. Beau is searching carefully for any Kraken Tattoos but sees none. Behind the bar is a long order window that gives full view of the kitchen. A woman in leather armor is giving instructions to the chefs before turning her attention to the newcomers, "Find a seat; someone will be with you in a moment!"
The group sits at one of the tables for six, partitioned to provide some privacy and discuss how they should go about things. They agree that maybe having less discretion than usual would be a good strategy: if the Kraken Society catches wind of them poking around, maybe the fight comes to them -or- maybe asking more openly just gets them answers more quickly. A win either way, right?
The armored woman from the kitchen - a Half-Elf, possibly with Drow Ancestry but deep blue-dye masks the white locks of hair that would give it away - comes to the table and introduces herself as Karletta, "Don't tell me nobody's come to take your order yet?" and mutters to herself, "Just can't find good help..."
Beau orders the special: Floundering Flouder, and a Tuna Pate for her Tressym. Karletta is very amused by the flying cat, and by Zdravko's strange way of speaking. The party offers to buy Karletta a drink in exchange for her trove of rumors as she claims "Oh, I've got rumors up the wazoo!"
Karletta goes back to the kitchen to place the orders and they can hear her yelling at the staff that they'd better get their butts in gear because she's taking a break and they need to learn to function without her hovering over their shoulders.
She returns to the party's table with food, and a smile, "Now, let's have that drink!"
They ask her about the Kraken Society and she hesitates in thought for a moment, "Oh, they're some sort of gang, right? My friend Kestrel Hedgehopper hates them for some reason." Beau tries to get a read on Karletta who seems to be genuine.
Karletta goes on, "Y'know, I've got a good feeling about y'all. I'm going to send you - a bunch of strangers - to my friend Kestrel's house. Don't prove my trust to be foolishness, alright?"
.
They go to Kestrel's house, a fine two-story dwelling that suggests a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Despite there being no bell to ring, Zep uses his Kenku mimicry to produce the sound of a loud medium-sized bell. After some time it becomes apparent that nobody is answering. Karletta did mention that Kestrel spends most of her day traveling from place to place within Yartar so they leave a note saying they have mutual business to discuss.
.
They make their way towards 'The Fishyard' - Yartar's open-air market - in hopes of finding some guards with whom they can leverage a meeting with the town's Waterbaron. Zep tries to peel off from the group to find someone connected with the thieves guild but Lyra notices and suggests they all stick together.
Lucky for Zep, the thieves guild finds him first... as they pass an alley they hear the sound of a loud medium-sized bell, nearly identical in tone and volume to the one Zep made by Kestrel's house. They turn and hear a small voice add, "Back here, c'mon!"
Our heroes turn down the alley to find a single middle-aged halfling woman who motions for them to follow before running further down the alley and turning a corner. When they too reach the corner they don't see her but see a crate with a loose board; they hear her voice from inside, "Quick, in here."
They enter the crate and realize it has a false back that enters into a dusty, unused warehouse. There the small halfling woman turns towards them with her hands on her hips and with a smirk says, "Heard y'all were poking around my house and that we may have a common enemy."
Kestrel Hedgehopper goes on to tell the adventurers that the Kraken Society is much like the Zhentarim, except that individuals have less freedom, and that it functions more like a cult. It's an old organization whose core tenets always revolve around Krakens or the idea of attaining Godhood much as Krakens do. The current iteration of the Kraken Society seems to be in a phase of attempting to amass wealth and power and this has put them at odds with her own organization.
Using the Thieves Cant he learned from his Flock, Zep confirms that she belongs to the local thieves guild.
Kestrel informs the group that the Grand Dame plays an important role in the Kraken Society's local operations, that the ship's owner is undoubtedly a member of the Kraken Society, and that none of her organization has been able to gain access to the river barge which leads her to believe they've been infiltrated and why she's eager to let outsiders have a go at her enemies.
The party asks if she knows of the missing nobles, and she says she knows of them, but it doesn't impact her business so her organization really doesn't care. Kestrel does know for a fact that one of the missing nobles was on the Grand Dame the night he went missing.
The adventurers part ways with Kestrel who leaves a different way she entered through. They head back to the market to look for some guards, still hoping to access the Waterbaron.
.
Before they can reach any guards they feel a rumble in the earth. The crowds around them all look around in a collective, "that was weird" manner. Another rumble and one of the nearby vendor stalls is swallowed up by a sinkhole! As everyone begins to scatter, 4 humanoids resembling carp with arms and legs leap up out of the sinkhole. They raise shields and 2-pronged, spiked spears above their heads as they burble a chant in an unrecognizable language. Then a writhing, slithering mound of mud slides up out of the hole as it congeals into the shape of something resembling a bizarre, mutated catfish which slides forward towards Zdravko!
The sentient mudfish slashes long muddy whisker-tentacles at the Monk of Bahamut before he gets a chance to release and hone his inner energy. The mud-tentacles seem to be saturated in a foul poison which the hearty Zdravko resists.
Zdravko's counter attacks land hard and the mud rumbles in something akin to a language which Beau understands.
Beau slings Eldritch Blasts at the mud-fish while shouting in Primordial, "Why are attacking us?"
One of the fishy humanoids tries to sling a net over Zdravko but misses. Another casts the Bane spell at Zep, Beau, and Jormo immediately after Lyra Blesses them but only Zep fails to resist it. A 3rd fish man runs up to attack Zdravko, while a 4th does nothing because just then Jormo weaves a spell that causes tons of shadowy black tentacles to writhe up from the ground to ensnare it, the net-thrower, and the mud-fish.
Responding to Beau's question, the now restrained mud rumbles, "Why aren't you worshipping me?"
Lyra discerns there to be a high likelihood of Thunder damage being particularly effective against this muddy foe as she flies over to catch it, and a couple fish-men in a Thunderwave.
Beau sees the effectiveness and runs in to Booming-Blade the mud-fish calling out to it, "I don't even know who you are, why aren't you worshipping ME??"
Jormo finishes off a fish-man with an elemental sphere as Zep leaps out from having hidden himself in the fleeing crowd to ambush the fish-guy that cursed him.
As Zdravko continues hammering away at the tentacled mud with his staff, the creature rumbles back to Beau in anger and indignation, "Because you are not a GOD!!" and it whips the Tabaxi with its tentacle. Jormo extends his Arcane Ward to absorb all the damage.
Beau sheathes his blade in thunderous energy once again and stabs the tentacled mud-fish and mocks, "Oooh, you're a god? Which one??"
Zep gets grappled by one of the fish-men's pincer staffs, but Jormo's ward absorbs the damage and the Tortle wizard finishes off the humanoid with another elemental blast.
Lyra flies over the not very impressive god-mud and blasts it with a second Thunderwave, weakening it significantly. In the final throws of combat, it tells Beau a name that sounds as much like gibberish as anything else, "Thisooletherkrals."
Zep runs in and thrusts his Kenku Blade right into the mud's largest "eye" to finish it off.
.
As the guards arrive out of breathe from sprinting to "control the situation" the party asks if they can meet with Waterbaron Nestra Ruthiol, adding that they know about the missing nobles situation as well.
They are granted a 10 minute audience with Nestra, a shrewd and discerning middle aged woman.
She thanks them for their service and uses the mystery of the "mud-fish" as an excuse to send the scribe out to fetch an old tome on the matter. Once alone with the party she cuts to the chase about the missing nobles, inquiring how the party knows of this. Beau won't reveal their source, which the Waterbaron respects. She admits that Khaspere Drylund is her political adversary but assures them that he is no good, and likely involved in any unsavory business aboard the Grand Dame - he is definitely who they want.
Nestra recommends that whatever they plan on doing aboard the Grand Dame, they do it after it leaves Yartar for its all-night gambling cruise down river. She clarifies that despite whatever malfeasance is involved with Khaspere Drylund, his casino is a legitimate and registered business in Yartar and she would have to act on its behalf if there were any laws broken by the adventurers.
.
Next Time: The Grand Dame!
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