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  1. Today
  2. Around noon-thirty. (-ish.) "...haven't really thought all that much about it, I guess.” Autumn leaned back on her hands, enjoying the tickle of the warm grass between her fingers and against her bare legs as she reclined next to her father’s chair, half in the early afternoon sun and half in the shade cast by the trees nearby. As end-of-summer celebrations went, this one was going pretty well, so far. The weather was beautiful, there was plenty to do and to eat, and for the first time in forever, her extended family was all together- even if she still hadn’t managed to catch up with Jacob yet to apologize for going off on him on Tuesday. She needed to handle that soon. Glancing over at him, sprawled out and dozing on one of the blankets as the post-lunch food coma took over, she felt that little twinge of guilt again. Yeah. Today. Definitely. For now, though, focus, Autumn. You’re having a conversation. “Something with the EPA, maybe? I’ve got Environmental Science this year, and Miss Kyleson said they do a lot of internships. Not all of them are paid, obviously, but doing it for a summer or something after I graduate might help me decide. If I graduate,” she added on reflection, grinning a little as she considered her academic performance thus far and defiantly, resolutely, did not consider any other reasons she might not finish high school. Nope. Nuh-uh. There were plenty of things she needed to do today, that she wanted to do today, and dwelling on what might or might not happen later wasn’t one of them; she’d gotten all her crying done already. Nathan Crocker tilted his head to regard her curiously, idly turning the half-full bottle of Corona on the armrest of his folding chair. His boy had already made it clear he wanted to get involved in the administrative side of the agency, and everyone had assumed Autumn’s path was equally apparent, if not stated outright. “Not Fish and Wildlife?” he asked, brow furrowing slightly beneath the bill of his faded green baseball cap; her parents’ expressions mirrored his confusion. After all, she’d grown up hearing about the ins and outs of being a Warden on an almost daily basis, loved the outdoors like other girls loved Sephora or pumpkin spice, wasn’t afraid of getting dirty or bloody, and had idolized Owen and everything he did. “I mean, I thought about that, yeah. And it still might be what I end up doing, but between you and Grandpa I feel like I already know so much about it that I should try something else first.” Autumn’s nose crinkled slightly as she grinned up at him, stretching her legs out on the ground while the warmth of the sunlight soaked into her skin. “Maybe a few something elses. You know, expand my horizons a little bit. And, honestly, I haven’t even graduated yet, so I don’t wanna think about eight more years of college, or whatever, that I’d have to do if I wanted to be a vet. Plus, being in an office sounds boring, nurses and teachers get treated like shi- uh, like crap,” she hastily corrected, remembering who she was with as her mother frowned disapprovingly, “and I’d hate the military. So.” With a dismissive shrug, the earnest young woman glossed over her slip of the tongue and summed up her thoughts on her future career prospects. “So,” Dana countered, still scowling a little over her glass of iced tea, “you do realize you’re going to have to get a degree for a government job, right? Especially for an agency like the EPA. And with your grades-“ “I know, I know,” the younger redhead protested half-heartedly. “My grades really are getting better, though!” At her mother’s dubious expression, she added, sheepishly, “…a little. Chem isn’t that bad. It’s mostly just the math that sucks, but Jason’s helping, and I was thinking about asking Marissa to help me out with the English stuff. At least the literature part. She’s always quoting something or other.” “Jason, and… Marissa?” Nathan tipped back his beer, one prematurely silver eyebrow raised as the muffled sound of a tiny bell chimed from the pocket of Autumn’s faded cutoff shorts. “Yeah,” she nodded absently, pulling out her phone and swiping the lock screen away. “Bannon and Jauntsen. We’re friends now, I guess.” The sound was a generic tone with the standard vibration pattern, which meant the sender was someone she didn’t know. Huh. //My new number. For the Fellowship only, please. Jason// Wait, Jason actually has a phone now?! She blinked and re-read the text again one more time, just to make sure. Suddenly, the trip to Great Falls made sense, even if Laurie’s intent curiosity didn’t, exactly. A broad smile slowly spread from the generous curve of Autumn’s mouth to the corners of her eyes as- Nathan’s question forgotten entirely- she began swiftly tapping the screen with both thumbs, adding the new number to his contact info and only vaguely aware that the adults were talking around her. It seemed totally unreasonable that just the sight of his name, the knowledge that the succinct, perfunctory message was from him, inspired such a reaction: a sudden wave of warmth, not unlike the feeling of the sunlight washing over her through a break in the clouds. And yet, unreasonable or not, it did. It wasn’t the same sensation of fiery-faced embarrassment as when he teased her, or even the heat sparked by his gaze or, more searingly, his kisses. It just… Sort of, was. Like some weird, immutable law of the universe. Also weird was that she was one-hundred percent aware that it was weird, because barely more than a week ago she’d thought of him as some sort of slouchy, murder-stare-having cryptid to be avoided at all costs, but it was also simultaneously kind of… not weird? Maybe? At least, not capital-w Weird, anyway. Catching her lower lip between her teeth, she scrolled through the list of notification options, still smiling. What should I use for his ringtone, just in case? He might not call or text much, if at all, unless it was an emergency or something logistical, and it seemed like the sort of pragmatic reason he’d buy one in the first place, but… Maybe? Hmm. It chimed again. The eager redhead tapped the icon that appeared and instantly regretted it, feeling a rising wave of scarlet rushing up to her face as the reminder of peak Autumness stared back at her. She could almost, almost picture his exact expression, too: the gleam in his eyes, the little twitch at the corner of his mouth that hinted at laughter. Mother. Fucker. It was one of her favorite compound curse words, but in that moment it seemed somehow inadequate to describe the feeling of total embarrassment, indignant fury, and grudging amusement roiling in a tumultuous storm within her. Credit where it was due, it was an apt meme, and it was a funny reminder of how they’d actually met, but for fuck's sake, it wasn't fair! He couldn't even get flustered, and at least once a day since they'd become friends he'd made her feel like she was about to spontaneously combust. Couldn't she eventually gain some kind of immunity to that? Please? Obviously, he was deliberately screwing with her, and obviously there would have to be reprisals. [You suck! Just wait until I catch you, LOL.] If he wasn’t back in Shelly yet, that gave her some time to- “Autumn Rae.” She blinked at the pointed tone of her father’s voice, the inclusion of her middle name sending an alarm signal directly to her unconscious: almost immediately, the preoccupied teen glanced up from the messaging app and the list of sound files she’d been browsing. “Hmm?” Not exactly the most eloquent response. Ian glowered down at his distracted daughter, displeasure writ plain on his features, and she winced, her cheeks reddening even further. Shit. There was no point pretending she’d been paying attention when she very obviously hadn’t. “Sorry. Um. What was the question?” “Oh, for f-“ The glare Dana had given Autumn earlier was suddenly directed at her husband, who hesitated visibly under that withering stare, and then sighed. “Warden Crocker was asking about your new friends.” Something about the way he said that last word- friends- suggested that the initial question hadn’t been posed neutrally. Which… Yeah. That was fair. Jason did have a pretty sketchy reputation, and everyone present knew about her history with Shelly High’s unofficial princess (even if most of the adults in town considered the glamorous brunette an immaculate angel, beyond reproach). But things changed, right? People changed. Or at least, they could. Couldn’t they? “It’s only ‘Warden’ Crocker when I’m on duty, Ian.” Nathan smiled affably, tipping the near-empty bottle toward the real estate broker and receiving a similar salute in kind as Autumn’s father reluctantly conceded the point. “I’ve always been kind of partial to ‘Uncle Nathan,’ myself.” “Sorry,” she repeated contritely, resting the edge of her phone on her knee and wobbling it mindlessly back and forth. It wasn’t her favorite subject, but it was a welcome distraction from freaking eggplants. Ugh. “I mean, as far as Jase and Marissa go, stuff just happens, you know? Sometimes you learn things about people that can change how you think about them. Like, Jason’s not a serial killer, just kind of quiet, and Marissa’s not a terrible person, she’s just a bitch.” “Autumn!” Dana hissed sharply, lobbing a crumpled napkin at her offspring in frustration as the FWP warden stifled a laugh and her father groaned. With another grimace, the younger redhead instinctively batted the offending missile aside. “Okay, fine, but we already talked about this last week, and she totally is! I can’t help it, Mom. I didn’t make her that way. And, like…” Folding her legs, she glanced back at her former best friend and realized that at some point while she was tinkering with her settings and blushing furiously at the meme Jase had sent, he’d sat up and started paying attention to the conversation. Of course. Why not? she lamented inwardly. Why wouldn’t a day in the life of Autumn Keane be full of awkward? “It’s just, I can tell that she’s making an effort. And, yeah, she’s not really great at the whole friend thing right now, but if I don’t give her a chance to at least try, she might not ever be.” Inhaling, she tried to meet Jacob’s gaze, his dark hazel eyes shadowed beneath windblown hair and almost unreadable. “Maybe she was pretty awful to me, and maybe I hated her for it for a while. Maybe I still haven’t totally forgiven her yet.” Autumn watched his lips thin, his expression hardening slightly in a way she’d learned to recognize unconsciously in him over the years, and now consciously through making notes of Jason’s subtle facial cues. “But maybe I also want things to be better. I hope they can be, anyway.” “Yeah. Maybe.” Nathan glanced down at his son, who’d barely spoken a word until that moment as he’d lain in the shade after lunch, then questioningly at Autumn. “Gotta have hope, either way, right?” Cautiously, she nodded, and Jacob did likewise in some tentative, unspoken teenage accord. Exhaling as he stood and stretched, the tall athlete gave the adults a quick, polite smile. “I’m gonna go walk around, see who’s here.” There was a pause, and she plucked at the blanket she was sitting on, trying to decide whether they’d both actually been having the same conversation. “You wanna come with?” She couldn’t read his expression, silhouetted as he was against the afternoon sky; it took a moment for her brain to register that he was talking to her, because that basically never happened anymore, did it? “Yeah, sure.” In spite of herself, Autumn felt herself smiling, just a little, as she got to her feet and brushed the grass from her legs. “Sounds good.” Casual invitation, casual response. It was a start, at least.
  3. Last week
  4. In Sean's car, half an hour after Noon. "Whatcha doing?" Sean frowned a little at Jase's feet on his dashboard as he glanced over at his friend, but at least the tall youth had slipped his boots off and was resting sock-clad feet on the upholstery rather than his boot soles. He'd set the passenger seat into a full recline shortly after their last conversation and had apparently been napping - or meditating. Or contemplating his next kill Sean had (mostly) jokingly said to himself as the Jeep ate up the miles and the weird Nordic folk music had filled the car with stirring vocals and drumming. Now, however, he had been aware of movement and, when he looked, saw Jase still reclining tapping away at the touch screen with a tiny smile quirking one corner of his mouth. "Ahh. Texting your girlfriend." Sean nodded sagely. "Texting everyone." Jason replied as he hit 'Send', causing Sean's phone to chime a moment later. "I thought it would be a good idea for the Fellowship to have my new number." Looking at his phone's screen, Sean nodded. It was a simple message. //My new number. For the Fellowship only, please. Jason// "To the point." Sean grinned, putting eyes back on the road as Jason went back to tapping at his screen. "And now?" "Now I'm texting my girlfriend." Jason's smile turned mischievous. = = = = = = = = = As noon moved firmly into the past and one o'clock approached, the air was filled with the scents of grilling food and the shimmering smoke rising from a few dozen staked picnic areas. Hank had wandered off to chat up one of the nurses from the Medical Center and Gar was spending his time listening to the small radio playing country and rock music, watching his own grill as it slow-cooked some ribs, and casting his gaze over the other families present. This was the first year he'd turned up to the Labor Day cookout and, despite his nervousness regarding his neighbours, had so far been treated with more warmth than he would have expected to receive as the town drunk. Of course, he wasn't that guy anymore. He'd shaved and put on a fresh shirt and everything, today. Heck, he was even sipping on a Coors, which everyone knew wasn't real alcohol so much as beer-flavored soda. In truth, Gar had only drank so heavily to forget his misery rather than out of some addiction to the substance, so quitting wasn't so much an issue as was just cutting back, drinking socially rather than in order to numb himself till he fell asleep. Still, he was avoiding anything harder than beer these days. He smiled as a flash of red-gold drew his attention to Autumn, laughing with her parents as they and the Crockers relaxed together. On a whim, he tried to spot the others of Jason's strange circle of friends. No Sean, obviously. He was off with Jason. There was Cassandra Allen, dispensing a tummy rub and scritch to her dog. Over there was Laurie Cassidy... who was not one of the super-teens but hung around the barn sometimes. No sign of the huge Allister boy or Lilly Pryor... Ah, there were the Jauntsens. He didn't know their parents really - had bumped into Carl in a bar once or twice and Misty at the school when he'd had to go in for some administrative reason or other. They seemed okay people at the time, but watching them now he couldn't help but wonder at how very 'California' the family was. Still, the kids were mostly okay, and were Jason's friends, so he gave the family a companionable salute with his beer as they passed - which Misti ignored, turning her sunglasses-bedecked face away, and Carl apparently didn't notice. = = = = = = = = = He could feel them up there, through the Tree he could feel them. Laughter, celebration, food and drink in the warming light of the sun. He remembered what that had felt like. Not Araun. Araun had not felt the sun's warmth in millenia. Araun's celebration was in the defilement of life and the rending of flesh. But Cody... Cody remembered last year, when he'd gotten a kiss in the woods after dark from a cheerleader following the Labor Day picnic, recalling the taste of her lipgloss. He remembered the smoked ribs, the beer he'd snuck away from his dad's cooler, the taste of apple and blackberry pie, his mom's laughing. And he moaned, a sound of misery and regret, more human now than he had been in weeks, more Cody now than he had been in weeks. His long, extra-jointed fingers clenched the rests of his grisly throne, his talons scoring the yellowing bone as he let out a sob. He could still taste Charlie's heart. He could still smell the raw charnel odor of this, his realm of blood. He sobbed again, drumming the back of his head against the back of his throne. "What have I done?" he slobbered through teeth no longer neat and white, that cut his gums whenever he closed his mouth. He threw back his head and let out a howl of loss - cut short as the other consciousness in his mind returned from whatever far-flung gulfs of contemplation it had slumbered in. Not you. Them. They did this to you. "They..? No. I chose. Me..." They forced you. Laughed at you. Made you afraid. You are not afraid now. I gave that to you. "Yes... Not afraid. Sad." All that you miss is ephemera. Not real. The hunt, the kill, the taking of what you want. That is how you know a thing is real. The other voice took on a low, intimate tone. Ahh. You are lonely. Soon, my child. Soon we shall be free of this place and you shall be a king. Until then... There is the girl. The girl, yes. Cody rose from his throne, stepped Through to the cellar where he kept... a prize. A memento he had taken from his first real kill. Eyes now easily able to pierce the darkness saw the naked form flinch away, ears keen as a hounds heard her muffled whimper of terror. Araun was right. Soon, he would kill his tormentors, release their Radiance, and together they would break free from this place and he, Cody would be a king! Until then there was... the girl.
  5. Do good and watch Arcana of the Ancients live-play by the WebDM folks, Bruce, and special guests this weekend, benefiting COVID-19 relief funds! Plus, be like Shanna and support up-and-coming game designers with the IGDN Scholarship. Some wonderful RPG recommendations for you, and more in this week's Cypher Chronicles! The post Cypher Chronicles, vol. 35-2020 appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  6. In Eddy runs a Trinity game for Matthew and Dixie! Links: Trinity Core Rulebook: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/260788/Trinity-Continuum-Core-Rulebook?affiliate_id=548232 Scion: Demigod Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/scion-demigod-book-3-for-the-scion-second-edition-rpg Onyx Path YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheOnyxPath Onyx Path Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/theonyxpath Onyx Path Discord: https://discord.gg/5uckcBk
  7. So arrived the Jauntsens. Not together, of course, as Marissa was arriving from her rendezvous at the Allister homestead and Devin was arriving from his farewell with Avalon and since it seemed Adele was in the middle of an apoplexy as he left, *that* went swimmingly. Misti and Carl arrived in their BMW, once again letting the small town wonder where the Jauntsen's got their money from as the Beamer, Mercedes, and Ducati all parked side by side. Carl was the fist to walk to the front of the car and take in the entire scene. He was in jeans and a grey polo with hiking boots that looked like they'd never been hiked in. Misti was sporting one of her many summer dresses in a dark floral pattern that complimented every seductive curve of her body. Carl raised his eyebrow as he looked around at all the families gathering, thankful they could see half of his expression through his dark sunglasses. "Why do we come here every year if you hate these people so much?" He asked his wife. "I mean, all in all, this place isn't so bad." His lips curled into the hint of a smile as a few kids ran past them, arguing like siblings. "It's not the place I hate, Carl," Misti's sarcasm and venom were as obvious as a the guns on a battleship being fired. "It's being stuck here because of your stupidity. Now, let's at least fake like our lives aren't a total shit show, please? And did you have to park so far away?" "We took the car, Misti. I know you're used to just leaning your broom against the wall, but that just doesn't work with a Beamer, sorry." Carl shook his head, scoffing with a half-chuckle. "Can't believe I got sober for this, but hey, we fake that your ass is real, your tits are real and your lips are real... why not step up our game and take it the next level: the entirety of our lives." Marissa leaned against her car door, glaring at her mother and father already lacing into each other. Her arms were folded against her bare abdomen as her deep brown eyes glimmered with violet sparkles, a slight bi-product resulting in her increasing frustration at with her parents as well as her 'boyfriend'. Her look was pure frustration as she watched through narrowed eyes and tightly pursed maroon lips. Her gaze shifted only slightly to her right as her twin brother approached her, looking back that their parents and shaking his head with a sigh. "They at it already?" "Yup," she sighed, shaking her head as she turned to face him. "Not even ten seconds. I'm half tempted to whammie the both of them and make them behave," her statement trailed off and she added a shrug. "Maybe get us a larger allowance too." Devin sucked his teeth at the sweet deal. "I'm almost on board, but we made a deal, not to family or Fellowship. How'd lunch go?" "Brilliantly," she smiled sarcastically. "Sheriff treated me like trash, made it clear he doesn't want me dating his son and I accidentally incited a pregnancy scare that Cade deflected by ratting out that all of us have powers." Devin could only laugh. "Are you serious? So his whole family knows now? About all of us?" "No," she shook her head, letting her straightened hair tickle her shoulders. "Sheriff saved it, sorta. I gave Cade an earful, I just hope he listens. And why does everyone automatically assume I'm pregnant?" "Might be because you're a ho." Her brother added, lovingly. They were silent in contemplation for a moment to ponder Devin's wisdom about his sister's promiscuity. "No," she shook her head again, scrunching up her lips. "I don't think so. Ho's get paid, I'm more of a slut. I'm in it for the hell of it." They smiled at each other, sharing their own sibling humor with each other in silence. "How'd the whole Lona thing go?" Devin shrugged one shoulder, and Marissa could tell he wasn't feeling like himself at the moment. "It is what it is, you know? I told her I loved her, she told me she loved me and we agreed to just go live our lives. No long distance or hook-ups that just keep some false hope alive. Just hurts though," he sighed. "We didn't even get a chance." She wrapped her arms around her brother and hugged him. "Sorry. If you want to talk, I'm here. I know you liked her, even if I gave you shit about it, it was good seeing by big brother happy. I'm here, okay? Love you." "Love you too," he smiled and squeezed a squeak out of her before letting her go. "And thanks. Now... let's deal with these two before dad starts to sell swampland timeshares and mom starts handing out poison apples." The devious duo met up with their parents and calmed them down in the span of a few well placed comments about public decorum and what they would do if they embarrassed the twins in public. "There's Laurie," Devin nodded to the young redhead, pointing her out to his family. "Don't see Sean... so he's probably not going to show. Courtney's going to be here no doubt." Marissa slapped her brother's shoulder, holding in a laugh. "Do those two have bad blood?" Carl asked. He was completely behind on the events and goings on of his children's social lives. "Wait, our Courtney?" "Yes, dad, our Courtney." Marissa laughed. "Laurie and Sean are plebs, so we, Courtney included, don't really associate with them at whole lot at school. Sean likes to wear women's clothes and then ride a moral high horse when people don't assume he identifies as a male. He offered to expose himself to another student, but the little shit always plays the role of pariah. Frankly, I don't get him at all. I have boobs and you don't see me whining about it. Lately, Deej and I have been spending more time with him and a few others. Kind of like an outreach program for those who are socially or friends challenged. We're not allowed to call them 'unpopular' anymore." "Language, sweetheart," Carl corrected his daughter. "And that's great, you two. I'm glad you're stepping up and being leaders and role models for others." "Oh, yeah, totally dad. We do our best to set a high bar, but a good example. Looks like Autumn's here too," Devin pointed out for Marissa. "Christ, between the Cassidy's and Keane's it's like they packed for Armageddon. Autumn and Marissa are besties now, in case you two haven't been keeping up with Marissa on Insta... or any of her other basic bitch attention seeking apps." "Devin," Carl glared at his son. "What did I just say to your sister about her mouth?" "Stop opening it for the entire football team?" Devin replied and was answered with a swift slap to the back of his head by his father. "You need to explain that one to me, Marissa," Misti looked off at the Keane's and the Cassidy's with an obvious measure of disapproval. "I appreciate what you and your brother are trying to do for the less fortunate of Shelly, but you don't have to be friends with them. Encourage them to stay in their lane and stick to what they know, like fast food, cow herding... septic pumping. And Devin, sweetie, stop implying your sister is a whore." As Devin stopped rubbing the back of his head his mothers hand went upside it in the same spot his father struck. "Ow!" he cried out. "What the f-... frick." He was now frantically rubbing his head to ease the pain. "Doesn't this qualify as child abuse?" "Not if there's no bruise," Carl smirked. "And you deserve it. Oh, and you're such a pain in the ass, I don't think the authorities would mind. Might even throw us a party... even send us a replacement from the orphanage." "Autumn is awesome, mom." Marissa pointed out to her mother while father and son shared their wit. "Sean and Cade too. They might be a bit strange at times, but they stick together and have each others backs no matter what. More than I can say for this family. Diane-" "Dana." Devin threw in a swift correction as his hand threatened to catch his hair on fire as it was moving so fast against his head. "Whatever. Autumn's mom is a vet. She's a doctor, just like you. Why not try to get know some people in this town, mom? It's not like it would kill you." "Marissa," her mother's tone was cold and laced with condescension. Misti has adapted well, socially, but for the most part it was simply an act. Like her children, she didn't care for Shelly one bit. She longed for the coast and her home in Malibu. "No one in this little town is 'just like us'. I'm sure her mother is very talented as sticking her hand of the ass of a horse, but that hardly makes her a 'doctor', sweetie. Hopefully, we will not be in this town for much longer, kids. I don't want the two of you to slow down and get comfortable with this place and the mediocrity. You're better than this place. You're destined for great things and I want to see you both reach your potential. Your father and I want what's best for you and I assure you, you're not going to find it in Shelly Montana. Kids, there comes a point in your lives when you're going to have to realize that despite what all the bleeding hearts say, some people are just better than others. Success doesn't offer participation trophies. You either earn it, or you lose and go home with nothing." The twins looked at each other with that 'if they only knew' grin on their lips. "You're all heart, Misti," Carl huffed with a roll of his eyes behind his mirrored frames. "God forbid our children have friends, but that," he pointed to the sheer amount of stuff the two family's brought with them. "Is exactly why we donate to the food tents. And speaking of, I plan on eating eating a lot of unhealthy, greasy food today. Who's down?" "Totes game," Devin raised his hand from the back of his head. Marissa raised her hand with a expectant smirk. "Down like the economy." "I expect to see all of these extra calories reflected in your daily workouts, kids. Three extra sets, from the both of you. And Devin, I know you've been skipping the yoga portion." Misti chimed up as the twins threw their heads back and groaned. "If you want to play hard, you will work hard. Now come on, game faces everyone, let's make our rounds."
  8. "Are you sure you know how to grill?" Cassandra's mother asked for the third time as they got out of the car and went around to the trunk to bust out their picnic gear. Cassandra shook her head dismissively. "Mom, it's the 21st century. You don't have to know anything anymore. It's all online." She held up her phone, which had a video of someone grilling 'great bbq chicken in under ten minutes' up. "So...what, you have to carry a phone everywhere and pay for access to every skill you need?" Teresa asked pointedly. Cassie shrugged. "Just until they can wire it into our heads directly. Besides, you sell books. That's charging for knowledge." "Hon. Library. We don't charge." "Hon. Taxes. You totally charge. It's just...harder to see." Cass stuck her tongue out. Teresa hauled out an armload of bags of groceries for the cookout and stared her daughter down. "Taxes keep the library open, but that's not the same thing as charging for books." Bacon, still in the back seat of the car, barked and awkwardly hopped up so his front paws were on the glass of the window. Cassandra glanced at Bacon and went over to let him out. "No but really. Like, what keeps a bookstore open? Profits from book sales. That's how they pay salary and rent on the building and all the taxes and stuff on them. So what keeps a library open? Sure some fees, like late charges...which are also sort of after-the-fact charges for books..." "No, those are completely avoidable!" "...but also local and county taxes. If it wasn't for those, you'd have to charge per book. As it is, you don't...but that's basically because everyone who isn't using the library, but does pay taxes, is subsidizing everyone who does use the library." Teresa sighed and looked around the Carousel fields. "Is it too late to encourage you to pursue a different vocation? What were you into before? Skateboarding? I hear that's a nice profession that doesn't involve as much talking back to your parent." "AND IN SUMMARY," Cassandra finished, "The internet is awesome, even if it costs money to access and is probably going to mean everyone gets stupider because it enables intellectual laziness. This chicken he made really does look good though." "It had better be, because you're now the honorary chef." Cassie opened the door, scowling. "I was thinking I'd serve in a supervisory capa...BACON!" The dog exploded out of the car with enough force to knock Cassandra back a few steps and bolted joyfully across the field. He made a beeline for the black Labrador that was snuffling around one of the unoccupied picnic spots. They exchanged doggie butt-sniff greetings, and then the German Shepard noticed something else that earned a bark. Cassandra spotted where Bacon was going next and winced. Was that a...lamb? A goat? It was kind of far away. What would Bacon do to a goat? "Hey mom, I'm gonna go get Bacon back. There's an open place over there." Teresa glanced over, shading her eyes, then said, "I'm not carrying all this stuff by myself." "I'll be right back!" Cassie called, already running off. "Promise!" --- Meanwhile, over near where the Houses of Keane and Crocker were holding court, Laurie was belatedly crossing to follow to where her family was setting up shop with her goatling hopping along at her side. The gamboling Rascal was suddenly accosted by a very curious dog. Bacon went up to Rascal and sniffed him all over. This earned a playful head-butt in response. Cassandra came running up not far behind, looking a bit winded. "Hey, sorry, that's my dog," she explained. "Bacon! Over here!" The German Shepard reluctantly disengaged and trotted over to sit at Cassandra's side, panting. "He wasn't going to hurt him or anything," Cass explained to Laurie, still in apolgetics mode. She turned a little and spotted Autumn's folks a little ways off, watching with a mix of curiosity and wariness. Bacon looked an awful lot bigger than that little goat. Cassie gave them a wave and a grin to let them know everything was okay. "Can I pet him?" Laurie asked, already coming over to let Bacon sniff her hand. He did so enthusiastically, and transitioned directly to licking. Cassandra nodded. "Yeah, he's super friendly." Then from a distance, "Cass!" The teen reporter-wannabe turned at her name to spot her mother lowering a bag onto the table she'd picked out, and gesturing back at their car...where another couple of bags sat atop the trunk. She winced and gave Laurie a 'what can ya do' shrug. "I have to get our stuff. We should all meet up though. I saw Autumn's folks...anyone else here?" Laurie nodded and answered, "Just you and Autumn so far, I think? Sean and Jason aren't back yet from wherever they went..." She paused, but Cassandra's face didn't betray any hint of knowing more about where that place was. "Okay, well, lets keep our eyes open. It'd be cool to see everyone." With that Cassandra headed back to get the rest of the cookout goods before it started melting into the bags, Bacon running ahead of her.
  9. The walk from the car had only taken a couple of minutes, and in that time neither of the teens had felt particularly compelled to attempt conversation; the Odinsson, because it was not in his nature to be especially loquacious, and the budding muse because her thoughts were occupied with the percussive rhythm of his walking stick and their footsteps on the sidewalk. It wasn't quite 3/4 time, but close enough that she caught herself humming Shostakovich's Second Waltz under her breath as they approached the garden, and the girl who waited there. Although she peered at the cat dubiously, not having been allowed to keep pets of her own due to their destructive and unhygienic habits, Laurel's smile as she approached Swi's chocolate-hued ward was unseasonably warm, a brief flash of summer glinting in brilliant azure eyes. "Oh, good. I was reasonably certain we'd run into each other again, but I hadn't expected it to be so soon." The sound of her laugh was soft and fleeting amid the gusty chill of autumn's whispers, the cool of the approaching evening sending a shiver down her spine. Adjusting the ivory scarf about her neck, the blonde wished for what would surely be neither the first nor the last time that Fate had arranged for her to end up somewhere warmer. She paused for a moment, watching as Grim studied what remained of Mrs. Cunningham's famed garden. He might've been a scout overlooking the sea from some distant windswept crag, or a tragic hero striding resolutely across desolate moors. The girl before her, even in dark sunglasses, seemed decidedly more animated, more real and substantial and present by contrast. More... of this world, she decided, stretching out a gloved hand in greeting even as she considered the trio's apparent differences. "Dale, wasn't it? I suppose today is a day for proper introductions, then."
  10. Now available in PDF and PoD from DriveThruRPG: The Contagion Chronicle for Chronicles of Darkness! The world is ill. You have everything to lose through its sickness. Loss. Change. Chaos. Your own blood will rebel against you. Your own herd. Your own loved ones. Do not believe that just because you’ve had a hundred years on this earth, you’ll be exempt. Just because you were ignorant of it until now does not make you immune. Your waking to the reality of this world — of the great machine in its heart, and the sickness in its veins — is just the first step. You must find others like you and me and make them swear to drive back this Contagion. This world doesn’t have long left. You may be a monster, but perhaps with other monsters, you can drive back the destruction of everything. The Contagion Chronicle includes: The first Chronicles of Darkness book to provide guidance on playing creatures of all kinds in a shared story. Systems and powers enabling teams of vampires, werewolves, mages, Prometheans, changelings, Sin-Eaters, hunters, mummies, Beasts, demons, and Deviants all in the same group, encouraging you to explore all permutations of crossover. A new mythos — the terrifying Contagion — acting as a catalyst for unifying disparate monsters into allied groups known as the Sworn and the False. Over ten settings from diverse locations all around the globe, each wracked with its own Contagion, and all waiting to be explored. Sales The Exalted Sale on Indie Press Revolution ends in just a few days! The Scion: Origin Phone PDF is 70% off as today’s Deal of the Day on DriveThruRPG! Kickstarter Update The Kickstarter for Scion 2nd Edition Book 3: Demigod has one week remaining! We funded to 100% in 75 minutes, 200% in less than 12 hours! We’re currently at 334% of our $35,000 goal, or $116,791, thanks to our 1897 backers, and we’ve hit several stretch goals: Scion: Demigod Reference Screen Scion: Demigod Companion: New Boons, new creatures, new Guides, new followers, solo play, new relics, cults & covenants, relic crafting Backer T-shirt Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: They Came from Beyond the Grave!: They Came from Beyond the Grave! Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Legendlore: Legendlore Vampire: The Masquerade: Cults of the Blood Gods Mage: The Ascension: Technocracy Reloaded Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Chronicles of Darkness: Deviant: The Renegades Chronicles of Darkness: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Chronicles of Darkness: Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition Community Spotlight The following community-created content for Scarred Lands has been added to the Slarecian Vault in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Realms of Pugmire has been added to Canis Minor in the last week: 100 Notes and Letters to Find in Pugmire Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last week: Scion: Specialized Purviews They Came from Beneath the Sea!: The Grays Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  11. Darcy Ross joined the MCG team back in the summer of 2017, taking the reins as our Community Relations Coordinator. … We Say Adieu—But Not Goodbye—to Darcy Read More » The post We Say Adieu—But Not Goodbye—to Darcy appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  12. "Jack," Ian greeted the big man with an affable smile and a quick handshake, and extended the same friendly courtesy to his wife. "Carolyn. Laurelai. Good to see you. Nice day, isn't it?" He glanced around, taking in the scant crowd so early in the day and then back at his own girls, who smiled and waved at the group as Autumn leaned in the driver's side and popped open the hatch at the rear of the Jeep. "The help would be appreciated, thanks. You know, you guys are welcome to stop by this evening, grab a bite and a cold one. Warden Crocker's got the steaks, and we've got the ribs, and I don't think the five of us will be able to eat it all." "Are you kidding? Jacob can eat his own weight in ribeyes, and I'm pretty sure Autumn's not far behind him," Dana interjected with a laugh, brushing non-existent dirt from her hands onto the legs of her neat denim capris as she joined them. "Hey, Jack, hi, Carolyn," the pretty vet smiled warmly, then turned to Laurie and her caprine companion with a knowing, vaguely disapproving grin as she eyed the cotton candy in the young girl's hand: an actual pair of Rascals. "Morning, you two. Good to see you're keeping her out of trouble," she quipped, eyeing first the goat and then the red-haired teen. The young woman had the presence of mind to look at least a little sheepish as she brushed an errant wisp of spun sugar from the goat's furry cheek. "Seriously, though, if you don't have anything else planned, swing by. I think Nathan's already setting up, so we'll have all the food in the same place. And probably too much of it." She paused for a moment, considering something, then glanced at her husband. "Although if Jason hasn't eaten yet when he gets here, Autumn might bring him by, too." The Cassidys exchanged a look, eyebrows raised in wordless surprise: their Jason? Had the half-wild cub they'd adopted as one of their own- one rapidly growing into an adult with at least the seeming of civility- found a second family to help feed him? Unaware of the silent conversation between the other couple, Ian nodded, his smile broadening into a grin that didn't quite reach his eyes; he'd hoped to spend the day with his family, and even these essentially trivial, perfectly normal shifts in his daughter's social life like new crushes and fallings-out with friends were reminders of how tenuous their connection was lately. "True, yeah. Hey, maybe we won't have a week's worth of leftovers this year. We should probably ask-" He turned, but his impatient offspring was already out of earshot, carrying one of the large plastic storage containers off toward the shady spot where the Crockers were almost finished lighting the charcoal for the brats they'd brought for lunch later. Jacob was jogging up to greet her, and Dana followed the direction of her husband's gaze, then met it and offered a little shrug. "Well," he laughed, "I guess we ought to get started, or there's not going to be anything left to unload." As the three families hauled coolers and containers into the shade, the men bantered about hockey and the ladies discussed work and current events in town. The three teenagers, for their part, kept conversation light and casual- while skirting the subject of the Homecoming dance, they talked animatedly about the game itself and Laurie's excitement-slash-anxiety about actually getting to play. It didn't take long to get everything organized: neatly-stacked bags of charcoal, bins of ice for the drinks (alcoholic and otherwise) and uncooked food, and then the grills were lit, blankets spread, chairs unfolded, and tablecloths taped down onto folding tables. By the time all was said and done, the little tree-covered area the Crockers and Keanes had carved out was almost a self-contained Labor Day celebration on its own. "Hey, thanks." Laurie squinted slightly against the sun as the energetic young woman handed her a bottle of water from the depths of the cooler and rose, absent-mindedly nudging the lid shut with her knee. The youngest of the Cassidy clan still hadn't worked out how or why her brother and his best friend had managed to skip town so early, or what the group of teens were planning, and it was driving her crazy. ...But Autumn's parents had mentioned Jason, and she knew they all hung out at least once in a while, so maybe she could get some info from the Girl Scout? It was worth a shot, anyway. "Sooo." As openings went, it sounded casual enough, and the other girl smiled as she cracked open her own bottle. "Sooo?" "So," the sophomore repeated with slightly more conviction this time, sighing appreciatively as she took a sip of the cold water. "Great Falls, huh?" Autumn blinked at her, suddenly distracted from watching Rascal playing a boisterous game of tag with someone's black Lab and wondering if they should've brought the kids along after all. "Sean and Jason," she clarified, as comprehension dawned in the older redhead's eyes. Good. That meant she did know something. Now all she had to do was find out what, and the best way to do that was to pretend she already knew. Affecting an air of nonchalance as she screwed the cap back on the plastic bottle, she pressed a little further. "How come you didn't go?" Autumn's brows knit together in a brief, but expressive frown, her blue eyes narrowing, and Laurie cursed silently to herself. "Why would I go to Great Falls? My dad's home." Crap. She'd forgotten about that little detail- or, rather, it hadn't occurred to her, since she didn't really know the outdoorsy junior all that well. For that matter, she wasn't sure her brother did, either, but that was an issue for later. "Sorry, sorry," she conceded, grimacing in genuine apology; she really did feel kind of bad about carelessly drawing attention to Ian's absence. "I just wondered if they'd invited you, that's all." "Mmm." There was an uncomfortable pause, and then: "It's fine." Autumn nodded slowly, ponytail swaying as her expression gradually softened into a faint smile. It wasn't Laurie's fault her dad was away so much, even if being reminded of it stung a little. It would've come up at some point during the day, anyway, from Nathan if not someone else. I need to talk to him, she reminded herself, glancing back at the inquisitive girl and her goat, who had come bounding back over. "Yeah, no, they didn't. I mean," she shrugged, unscrewing the lid of her drink. "There's nothing I needed there anyway. I think they were just-" And then she remembered, abruptly, that Jason had mentioned one very specific thing he intended on getting while they were out, and- ohgod- she took a long, slow drink of the icy water in her hand as if it might somehow quench the sudden rush of warmth that surged beneath her skin. "Just shopping," she finished lamely, refusing to meet the other girl's eyes as the natural pink of her cheeks deepened to a vivid scarlet that rivalled the brilliance of her hair. "Shopping. Riiight." There was obviously something more there, but as badly as she wanted to press the issue, Laurie didn't think she'd get much further right then. Not with Autumn looking for all the world like she could light all the grills in Shelly just by proximity. Maybe she could try again later, or maybe one of the others would be able to tell her more, if she could track them down. "Well, anyway, good talk and, uh, I'll see ya later?" "Yeah, sure. See ya." The young vitakinetic smiled, despite the near-ignition of her fiery hair, and headed over to rejoin her parents as the sprightly pair of mischief-makers meandered off again.
  13. With just a tad less than ten days to go, the Scion: Demigod Kickstarter keeps offering more and more value to backers as new Stretch Goals are achieved! Since last week, sections on Solo Play – a first for Scion, Relics from all the pantheons throughout the Scion books, and more on the Cults and Covenants Birthrights have been added to the Scion: Demigod Companion, and we’re racing for the next goal of Relic Crafting rules! Which is all great news for backers, but if you haven’t yet joined that august company, here are some Scion: Demigod vids that might help you decide to be a proud backer: Here’s an actual play with Red Moon Roleplaying featuring developer Neall Raemonn Price! Check it out and enjoy: https://youtu.be/6V3NJURmfsw And here is Neall again, in a fun and informative interview about Scion: Demigod 2e on the 307 RPG Podcast! https://anchor.fm/307rpg/episodes/Podcast-103—Where-we-Interview-Neall-Raemonn-Price-about-Scion-Demigod-ejts88 Lunars illustration by Gunship We talk a lot about online gaming here and on the Onyx Pathcast, which is itself a pretty new way to get news about your favorite company and games. We’ve got a whole section devoted to Twitch gaming, and YouTube videos, and Podcasts, and Actual Plays of all sorts. We even did a whole Online Gaming Convention filled to the brim with such things! Today, I’d like to talk about about a different kind of Online Gaming Convention. It’s not different in terms of offering many online games to play and panels to catch. It has all those. This one if different because it’s a convention that is completely a fund raising effort for our friends at the Bodhana Group; a non-profit organization whose mission is to utilize tabletop gaming as a valuable tool during therapy. I’ve talked about them before, and I’ve attended their Save Against Fear (SAVE) convention every year since it started. Obviously, the situation in the US means that they, like so many larger conventions, need to go virtual this year. Luckily, our friends at Gehenna Gaming, who ran our Onyx Path Virtual Con, were able to step up and help out running SAVE, too! So you know this is going to be a well-run con, virtually speaking, and the sessions should be really easy to get into and follow. It starts Friday Oct 9th through Sunday the 11th. There’s also a therapists track that starts Thursday and runs throughout. Now, unlike ours, SAVE is a pay con, and I think they have a weekend pass sort of thing where one payment let’s you sign up for to play and to sit in on all sorts of panels. Which they really have to do, as SAVE is one of the Bodhana Group‘s biggest fundraisers for the year and a good turnout of bought tickets means that the Bodhana Group is able to continue to offer training in their therapeutic methods. It’s the classic worthy cause. Or, as they say themselves on their SAVE page https://tabletop.events/conventions/save-against-fear-20201: For three days a year, The Bodhana Group combines the love for tabletop with the love for our community by showcasing all of the benefit gaming can accomplish. Celebrating the games, the people, and the opportunities to learn how to bring your own character to life, play with us and game for good at Save Against Fear! All proceeds benefit The Bodhana Group, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates the use of tabletop gaming as a directed therapeutic and clinical practice that can benefit personal growth as well as enhance social and educational services to individuals and families. https://www.thebodhanagroup.org/ Right now, I know that Eddy, Dixie, Travis Legge, and myself are going to be participating on panels, and playing and running games, and who knows what other Onyx Path folk may stop by? Love to see you there, too! Let The Streets Run Red illustration by Ken Meyer, Jr Like I announced last week, our next Kickstarter is for WoD: Ghost Hunters – which is a “non-gameline” 20th Anniversary book which we expect will be useful for any of the x20 lines, and it will be designed so that it’ll sit proudly on your shelf next to those other Deluxe books. We’re going to need to run it close to end of the Scion: Demigod KS for a couple of reasons. First is, we just don’t know where the US is going to be as we approach the US presidential election the first Tuesday in November. But it is something we need to be aware of, particularly with having to postpone a KS at the start of the Covid-19 sequestering and all. Looking at the options, including waiting until after whenever things might return to “normal”, we’ve decided that it’s best to get this KS in and finished before November. That way our US-based community as well as all of our great fans outside the US can all participate and nobody is waiting for us/US. Which lets us hit the second reason, which is that we can let the KS end on Halloween – which is just too thematically appropriate! Because we just gotta do that! TC: Aberrant illustration by Gong Studios Just a couple of sales-oriented bits this week: The Deluxe Exalted 3e sale at Indie Press Revolution continues into its last week! And thanks to everybody who picked up the Scarred Lands Players Guide PDF giveaway last week! A surprising number of people picked it up considering how long it has been out, really. Seriously, thanks! We’re always looking for ways that allow people to get a hold of one of our: Many Worlds, One Path! Blurbs! Kickstarter! The Scion: Demigod Second Edition Kickstarter has 10 days to go, and is devouring all sorts of Stretch Goals! Currently headed for Relic Crafting rules in the Demigod Companion book! Check it out if you haven’t already: Our Next Kickstarter: Coming almost immediately after the Scion: Demigod Kickstarter looms World of Darkness: Ghost Hunters for the 20 Anniversary Editions! Onyx Path Media! This week: Eddy runs Dixie and Matthew through character creation for an ongoing game of Trinity Continuum Core! As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/ Red Moon Roleplaying gets top billing this week due to the start of their Scion: Demigod actual play with developer Neall Raemonn Price! Check it out and enjoy: https://youtu.be/6V3NJURmfsw Not far behind is the 307 RPG Podcast, where they interview Neall regarding Scion: Demigod too! https://anchor.fm/307rpg/episodes/Podcast-103—Where-we-Interview-Neall-Raemonn-Price-about-Scion-Demigod-ejts88 We’ve got another Scion: Demigod actual play video coming this week from the fantastic Vorpal Tales on Twitch. Tune in to watch live! For anyone new to our media section, you can find us running and playing games over on twitch.tv/theonyxpath pretty much every day of the week! Plus, if you’d like your games hosted there, just get in touch with Matthew Dawkins using the contact link on matthewdawkins.com. Please give our Twitch channel a follow, as you can find a huge number of videos of all kinds of games being run! This week on Twitch, expect to see these games and streams running: Scarred Lands – A Family Affair Technocracy Reloaded – Vorpal Tales Scion: Demigod – Vorpal Tales Hunter: The Vigil – Cold Cases Forsaken Spaces Changeling: The Dreaming – The Last Faerie Tale Mage: The Awakening – Occultists Anonymous Vampire: The Masquerade – Boston by Night Hunter: Unbound Anomalies – Devil’s Luck Gaming Get watching for some fantastic insight into how to run these wonderful games and subscribe to us on Twitch, over at twitch.tv/theonyxpath Come take a look at our YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/theonyxpath, where you can find a whole load of videos of actual plays, dissections of our games, and more, including: Scarred Lands Player’s Guide Offer (it may have ended, but you can still buy it!) – https://youtu.be/5sk0WEZKrYM Changeling: The Dreaming – The Last Faerie Tale – E13 – https://youtu.be/tunY1iEoTKU Exalted Essence – Transgender Law Center Charity Stream – https://youtu.be/T-jcsS6XK8o Scarred Lands – Purge of the Serpentholds – S1E16 – https://youtu.be/KN46JquXjKs Realms of Pugmire – Paws and Claws S2E16 – https://youtu.be/cygyZFR-yXE Gen Con 2020 – What’s Up With Onyx Path? – https://youtu.be/KEPOYLHgfLg Subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon if you want to be notified whenever new news videos and uploads come online! Tune in to episode three of Tom Murr’s amazing They Came from Beneath the Sea! audio drama over on YouTube! https://youtu.be/qqS5rM3GA5A Systematic Understanding of Everything is a fantastic Exalted Explainer Podcast by Exalted Dev Monica Speca and Exalted Writer Chazz Kellner that is breaking down Creation in 45 minute chunks in preparation for Exalted Essence. Their most recent episodes are available over on https://www.exaltcast.com/, with their newest covering the stunning fantastic (in Matthew Dawkins’ opinion) Infernals! https://www.exaltcast.com/2020/09/21/inner-devils-unchained-infernals/ The Story Told Podcast continues their Fall of Jiara Exalted chronicle, and you can find their newest episode right here: https://thestorytold.libsyn.com/fall-of-jiara-26 And Occultists Anonymous give us: Episode 128: Proper Preparation The cabal knows they’re heading into a fight, a downright assassination, so they prepare the best spells they can, and slip into the villain’s lair. https://youtu.be/_FOl0DiTDUE Episode 129: Monty Hall Problem Within the Seer pylon’s lair, the cabal find themselves with several doors to peer into. An Avernian Gate is right out, but a doorway to the US Congress? What about the doors into the Shadow? https://youtu.be/IIKD01QAaMU Please check these out and let us know if you find or produce any actual plays of our games! We’d love to feature you! Electronic Gaming! As we find ways to enable our community to more easily play our games, the Onyx Dice Rolling App is live! Our dev team has been doing updates since we launched based on the excellent use-case comments by our community, and this thing is awesome! (Seriously, you need to roll 100 dice for Exalted? This app has you covered.) We’re told that the App Dev is currently creating an updated version for the latest devices, so keep an eye open for those! Virtual TableTop! Introducing a Virtual Tabletop adventure: the Gauntlet of Spiragos for Scarred Lands on Astral TableTop! Scars of the Divine War, which ended less than 200 years ago, have still not healed. One such scar is the Chasm of Flies, a rent in the earth created when the titan Spiragos the Ambusher was smote down by one of the young gods, Vangal the Ravager. Now, the Chasm is inhabited by spider-eye goblins and their spider allies, but it is also thought to be the resting place of powerful artifacts from that elder age. Gauntlet of Spiragos is a Scarred Lands adventure designed for 1st level characters, although it can be easily modified for characters of up to 5th level. Astral TableTop is the easiest way to play any tabletop RPG online, free. Astral already supports popular systems like D&D and Pathfinder, and Astral can support virtually any tabletop roleplaying game. Get started quickly with built-in support for most popular game systems. Whether you’re brand new to TTRPGs or a veteran tabletop gamer, Astral‘s ease-of-use and built in automation is designed to streamline gameplay. Astral is browser-based and uses the latest technology to streamline your storytelling experience. Connect with your party online and run your campaigns however you like. Astral offers tools optimized for phone, tablet, and desktop devices, no installation required. Build epic battlemaps using Astral‘s enormous collection of scenery, props, and tokens or upload your own. Pro users gain access to over 12,000+ assets and fresh new packs every month. Add weather, visual effects, triggers, and so much more with easy-to-use tools Build your own adventure, or choose from pre-generated game kits like Gauntlet of Spiragos. Create character sheets, craft maps, or just jump right in to connect with your friends and start your adventures! On Amazon and Barnes & Noble! You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble). If you enjoy these or any other of our books, please help us by writing reviews on the site of the sales venue from which you bought it. Reviews really, really help us get folks interested in our amazing fiction! Our selection includes these latest fiction books: Our Sales Partners! We’re working with Studio2 to provide our traditionally printed books out into your local game stores. Game stores can order via their usual distributors, and can also contact Studio2 directly. And individuals can check out our projects via the links below! You can pick up the traditionally printed Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau main books, screens, and the official dice through our friends there! https://studio2publishing.com/search?q=pugmire Now, we’ve added Chronicles of Darkness books such as Changeling: The Lost Second Edition products to Studio2‘s store! See them here: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/all-products/changeling-the-lost Scion 2e books and other products are available now at Studio2: https://studio2publishing.com/blogs/new-releases/scion-second-edition-book-one-origin-now-available-at-your-local-retailer-or-online Our Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition books are also available from Studio2 in the US: https://studio2publishing.com/products/vampire-the-masquerade-chicago-by-night-sourcebook Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/ And you can order Pugmire, Monarchies of Mau, Cavaliers of Mars, and Changeling: The Lost 2e at the same link! And now Scion Origin and Scion Hero and Trinity Continuum Core and Trinity Continuum: Aeon are available to order One more week for the EX3 sale at IPR!: https://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Deals-and-Specials/ As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles at DriveThruRPG.com! On Sale This Week! This Wednesday marks the onset of the Contagion throughout the Chronicles of Darkness with the release of the PDF and PoD versions of the Contagion Chronicle on DTRPG! Do not believe that just because you’ve had a hundred years on this earth, you’ll be exempt. Just because you were ignorant of it until now does not make you immune. Your waking to the reality of this world — of the great machine in its heart, and the sickness in its veins — is just the first step. You must find others like you and me and make them swear to drive back this Contagion. This world doesn’t have long left. You may be a monster, but perhaps with other monsters, you can drive back the destruction of everything. The Contagion Chronicle includes: The first Chronicles of Darkness book to provide guidance on playing creatures of all kinds in a shared story. Systems and powers enabling teams of vampires, werewolves, mages, Prometheans, changelings, Sin-Eaters, hunters, mummies, Beasts, demons, and Deviants all in the same group, encouraging you to explore all permutations of crossover. A new mythos — the terrifying Contagion — acting as a catalyst for unifying disparate monsters into allied groups known as the Sworn and the False. Over ten settings from diverse locations all around the globe, each wracked with its own Contagion, and all waiting to be explored. Conventions! Though dates for physical conventions are subject to change due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, here’s what’s left of our current list of upcoming conventions (and really, we’re just waiting for this last one to be cancelled even though it’s Nov/Dec). Instead, keep an eye out here for more virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with: PAX Unplugged: https://unplugged.paxsite.com/ We’re still waiting on word for this one, as a TTRPG publisher we weren’t included in the companies contacted for PAX‘s virtual con replacing their usual electronic gaming con(s). And now, the new project status updates! Development Status from Eddy Webb! (Projects in bold have changed status since last week.): First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep.) Exalted Essay Collection (Exalted) No Gods, No Masters (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion Fiction Anthology (Scion 2nd Edition) TC: Aeon Novella: Dawn (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) TC: Aeon Novella: Meridian (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Legacies of Earth (Legendlore) Once and Future (Scion 2nd Edition) They Came From Beneath the Sea! Jumpstart (They Came From…!) They Came From Beyond the Grave! Jumpstart (They Came From…!) Tales of Depravity! (They Came From…!) Heroes in a World of Horror! (They Came From…!) Tome of the Pentacle (Mage: the Awakening 2e) Monsters From the Crypt! (They Came From…!) Redlines Dragon-Blooded Novella #2 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Anima Second Draft Many-Faced Strangers – Lunars Companion (Exalted 3rd Edition) Hundred Devil’s Night Parade (Exalted 3rd Edition) Exalted Essence Edition (Exalted 3rd Edition) Saints and Monsters (Scion 2nd Edition) Wild Hunt (Scion 2nd Edition) The Devoted Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) Squeaks In The Deep (Realms of Pugmire) Prometheus Unbound (was Psi Orders) (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Development TC: Aberrant Reference Screen (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Across the Eight Directions (Exalted 3rd Edition) Contagion Chronicle: Global Outbreaks (Chronicles of Darkness) Exigents (Exalted 3rd Edition) Assassins (Trinity Continuum Core) Kith and Kin (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Trinity Continuum: Adventure! core (Trinity Continuum: Adventure!) M20 Rich Bastard’s Guide To Magick (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) Adversaries of the Righteous (Exalted 3rd Edition) Novas Worldwide (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Manuscript Approval Crucible of Legends (Exalted 3rd Edition) Dystopia Rising: Evolution Fiction Anthology (Dystopia Rising: Evolution) M20 Technocracy Operative’s Dossier (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) CtL 2e Novella Collection: Hollow Courts (Changeling: The Lost 2e) V5 Forbidden Religions (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Post-Approval Development Contagion Chronicle Ready-Made Characters (Chronicles of Darkness) V5 Children of the Blood (was The Faithful Undead) (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Editing Lunars Novella (Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition core rulebook (Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition) Player’s Guide to the Contagion Chronicle (Chronicles of Darkness) TC: Aberrant Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) LARP Rules (Scion 2nd Edition) The Book of Lasting Death (Mummy: The Curse 2e) Scion: Dragon (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion: Demigod (Scion 2nd Edition) Dearly Bleak – Novella (Deviant: The Renegades) N!ternational Wrestling Entertainment (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Under Alien Skies (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Dead Man’s Rust (Scarred Lands) V5 Trails of Ash and Bone (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) M20 Victorian Mage (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) Mission Statements (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) The Clades Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) Post-Editing Development W20 Shattered Dreams Gift Cards (Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th) Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Hunter: The Vigil 2e core (Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant core (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Deviant: The Renegades (Deviant: The Renegades) Legendlore core book (Legendlore) One Foot in the Grave Jumpstart (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2e) Masks of the Mythos (Scion 2nd Edition) They Came From Beyond the Grave! (They Came From!) Heirs to the Shogunate (Exalted 3rd Edition) Indexing Art Direction from Mike Chaney! In Art Direction Tales of Aquatic Terror – Some sketches in. WoD Ghost Hunters (KS) – KS page approved. Hunter: The Vigil 2e Mummy 2 – Reviewing the non-KS art notes. Deviant – AD’d. Legendlore Cults of the Blood God – Artists chugging along. Scion: Dragon (KS) Masks of the Mythos (KS) – A few more pieces and we’ll be ready for the KS. Scion: Demigod (KS) They Came From Beyond the Grave! TC: Adventure! (KS) Geist: One Foot In the Grave – Final art’s coming in. Contagion Chronicle Jumpstart (Chronicles of Darkness) – Breakdown brokedown. Monsters of the Deep – Meredith ADing this one. M20 Victorian (KS) – Awaiting art notes. TC: Under Alien Skies – Almost finished ADing. In Layout Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad Vigil Watch Trinity Core Jumpstart M20 Technocracy Reloaded V5 Cults of the Blood Gods – Over to Josh. Proofing Cavaliers of Mars: City of the Towered Tombs Yugman’s Guide Support Decks (Scarred Lands) V5 Let the Streets Run Red – Hopefully going to WW this this week. Aberrant – Back and forth proofing. Art still coming in. At Press TCFBTS Screen and Booklet – Files finishing at press. They Came from Beneath the Sea! – At KS fulfiller. Pirates of Pugmire – At KS fulfiller. Pirates of Pugmire Screen – Files finishing at press. Dark Eras 2 – Shipping to KS fulfiller from printer. Dark Eras 2 Screen and booklet – Files finishing at press. Contagion Chronicle – Press prep, PDF and PoD on sale Weds. Contagion Chronicle Screen and Booklet – Files at press. Lunars Wall Scroll Map – At KS fulfiller. Lunars Screen and Booklet – Files at press. Lunars: Fangs at the Gate – Prepping files for PoD and press. Scarred Lands Creature Collection – Shipping to backers starting this week. Sunken Bones – Pugmire pirate adventure – PoD proof ordered. Titanomachy – Errata done, Devs reviewing. TC Aeon Terra Firma – Gathering Advance PDF errata. Today’s Reason to Celebrate! A couple of days ago, we lost Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Obviously, this is not cause for celebration, but the life she forged certainly is. She was an inspiration and a legend who crashed through glass ceilings, and made dissent into an art form and an educational moment. While these sorts of celebrations of lives well-led often include the phrase “Their like will not be seen again”, Notorious RBG’s life-long mission to educate and inform and enable all women, and specifically women lawyers, actually means that we will see more like her. Which is a very good thing.
  14. Morning Breathe in. Breathe out. Kat opens her eyes. The white paint on the ceiling reflects an orange, weak sunlight, quite a match for the blue and chocolate hues decorating her walls and woodwork. Through the open window can be heard the sounds of nocturnal wildlife yawning and stretching out before dusk, daring diurnal critters to an all-night party. Did I sleep all day? The teenager frowns, mechanically pushing a couple blonde hairlocks away from her eyes. --- The house is empty. Her Dad hasn't come home yet, and Tess probably went shopping. Suddenly, solitude feels oppressing, and the petite French girl opens the front door, going deep into the jungle. She has to find her friends. --- The sun has set. The wildlife overwhelms her sense with its screeches, groans, swish and rustle through exotic bushes bearing fruit never to be eaten by human beings. A bat flaps her wings above Kat's head, and for a split second, the teenager freezes, eyes darting to the obscure ceiling of branches and leaves, a shy and dim moonlight trying its best to pierce the rank foliage. The jungle bears a strong feeling of seclusion to the young and puny woman, carried by a wind of foul despair. Her heart races for a moment. --- She heard the cry. It had to be that way. As she rushes through the jungle, the complaint, definitely human, intensifies. A clearing. Ghastly spectacle. Blood. Mangled bodies surrounded by countless misshapen beasts, clad in black fur and dark, shining skin, as if covered in kerosene. Her heart stops at the sight of one of their victims, impaled on a branch, most likely the one whose cries she heard. Courtney bleeds as red as her hair. --- A thousand pairs of wicked eyes blink. It's all over now. The last offering presented itself. Kat's world is nothing but furious screeches begging for blood as the last thing she sees shines in the dim moonlight. Razorsharp fangs. --- Breathe in. Breathe out. Kat opened her eyes. The white paint on the ceiling reflected a rose, timid sunlight, quite a match for the blue and chocolate hues decorating her walls and woodwork. Through the open window could be heard the sounds of diurnal wildlife yawning and stretching out before dawn, daring nocturnal critters to an all-day party. Just a dream. The teenager frowned, mechanically pushing a couple red and coral hairlocks away from her wet eyes. She curled up under her blanket, clutching to her pillow in a desperate attempt to calm her heart down, muffling the sound of her heartbreak escaping a dry throat. --- Kat looked at her reflection in the dresser mirror, her eyes running across the celtic patterns on her naked skin. It had become a habit for the young woman, part in pride for a design she drew herself, part in wait to actually notice the changes her Dad's morning torture would eventually bring to her fragile shape. She was beginning to realize that, only now, her cheeks were losing that round shape characteristic of children, her oval features slowly growing into a brittle, thin heart-shape, most like her mother's. Talk about late puberty... Christ, I'm seventeen! It still wasn't enough for Kat. Maybe deep inside, she wanted to be marvelled at, to be noticed, and her looking like a prepubescent boy was a big obstacle only time could overcome. And she finally was getting there, as much as a couple glances at her Eve costume could tell. Her eyes caught a glimpse of gold in the pixie-ish sea of red and coral hair, still humid after her shower, framing her face under the morning sunlight. After a closer look, she let out a deep sigh. Guess I do take from both my Mom and Dad... Gonna have to dye those hair roots again, some day. --- Water paint splashed on the fabric, the brush, guided by a steady hand, lacing the colors one with another, singing in an upbeat fashion Kat's awe less than a day before. Her work was but a draft of what might take a couple weeks to picture, but the outlines were already set in discreet carbon, depicting what felt to Kat like one of the few most amazing moments in her life. Purple shimmer braving ice and fire. --- Around noon Josh quizzically glanced at his daughter in the inner rear mirror. Kat had been surprisingly silent today. "Something wrong, pumpkin?" Ugh... he knows I hate it when he calls me like that. And Tess' in here too, what's he thinking?" The petite redhead exhlaled loudly to show her discomfort at the name. Maybe I'll stay blonde... She thought. "Nothing's wrong... I..." She fell silent again. It was just a dream. "Wanna talk about your dream?" Tess chimed in. Kat realized she must have been thinking out loud. Her gaze met Tessa's chestnut eyes, watching her from the passenger seat. Kat's lips pinched into a pensive pout and she shook her head. The pretty brown-haired woman shrugged at her boyfriend as he drove the car towards the Labor Day Event.
  15. Earlier
  16. Champion's Field, The Carousel - Before Noon Jack and Carolyn Cassidy strode through Champion's Field, their fingers interlaced with easy camaraderie, giving off the vibe of a pair of high school sweethearts who had made it through the hump of time and experience to find their affection had grown deeper without having to show it with feigned or overabundant PDA. They hadn't been high school sweethearts, though they had known each other in high school. Rather, they had gotten together when Carolyn was in college and Jack had been finishing his carpentry apprenticeship, after a messy falling out with a mutual loved one they hadn't talked about since that time. The sky was clear, the sun was bright, early morning chill already long faded with the promise of greater warmth throughout the day. Jack wore a Billings Bulls cap with a deeply curved brim to keep the sun off his head, sandy blond hair buzzed short ever since he started balding. Carolyn let her hair hang loose, once as rich a red as her son's and youngest daughter's, now faded to a strawberry blond with sun and age. They had a quiet sense of pride about the Carousel as they idly wandered the grounds with no concrete destination or path in mind. Jack had donated labour and materials to built several of the food stalls, designed for easy set-up and take down, and for the siding that protected The Carousel during the off season. And Carolyn had donated time with managing the finances for one of Toole County's non-profits that organized funds to maintain the restored the classic 1936 Carousel. The Carousel hadn't been their dream, but they were glad to have helped make it come true. It helped alleviate their concern for their odd son and all they had he revealed to them. There was something going on with him, they could tell, but not precisely what. Sean was a private sort, and they had generally left him to his own devices as much as he could. Lately, they had noticed a change in Sean, an easing acceptance to his condition, rather than the discomfiture, dissatisfaction, and resignation that he used to vacillate between, even if there was an edge to that acceptance they couldn't quite define. Jack exchanged nods or a few words with various students and ex-students he had hired to work with him during the summers over the years. One, who had graduated three years ago tried to hand him a resume, which Jack refused with a good natured laugh. Salt of the earth he might be, but even he usually only accepted resumes online and had a standard form to fill out. He did arrange an on the job interview in a few days time for him though. He'd been getting more work of late and could use more all year help with his general contracting business. Carolyn chatted with several friends she saw in passing, a few who were also reasonable parents on the PTA. Laurelai, her hair a deeper red than her mother's, her face less freckled, stalked ahead of her parents wearing her football jersey and a leash wrapped around her left hand, an irritated energetic bounce to her steps. Sean had taken off to Great Falls with Jason this morning before she had the chance to tag along, and Teagan had cancelled - Again! - saying she couldn't make it off base. And she knew the Fellowship had something going on today or tonight - she'd been practicing her observational skills - but not what. Laurie's spritely mahogany and white pygmy goat Rascal pranced along at his mistress' side with cheerful mischievousness, snagging bites of lavender cotton candy whenever Laurie let her arm swing low. A few wisps of it clung to the side of his mouth, which only served to draw even more attention than his adorableness already did and which Rascal accepted as his due. The youngest Cassidy sibling stopped to speak with the Heath sisters for a while, finding out that Lilly had returned, and making a mental note as to why Sean hadn't mentioned it. When she jogged to catch up to her parents, she got interrupted by Ryan Andersen. He was a guy in her grade, about her height, but if anything, even skinnier. And it seemed like he had never shaved yet, wisps of blond hair as fine as the cotton candy in her hand curling around his lips and chin. He was kinda awkward, kinda obliviously entitled, but not really a bad guy, even if any girl with at least a modicum of good looks knew he had a tendency to stare. "Oh! Hey! Hey! Laurie?" He called out as he rushed from between a pair stalls as he saw her passing by. "Yes, Ryan?" "Hi." Social greeting completed to his satisfaction, Ryan immediately proceeded to what was really concerning him. "ReGenesis looks awesome. Can you get a game key for it from your brother and give it to me?" "I probably can," Laurie admitted with an exasperated roll of her eyes. "But Sean isn't giving out game keys to anyone, not even reviewers, and especially not anyone who claims to be an influencer or who boasts about his five hundred subscribers on YouTube." Laurie gave him a pointed look. Ryan blinked, Teflon to her snark. "Jim Fines got a test copy, only because Sean is friends with him online." "So.... yes?" "No." "Oh." Ryan blinked again, then nodded. "That's okay. I'll just pirate it when they break the protection." Laurie's lips curved in a private smirk. She seen Sean's coding, even if she couldn't make any sense of that. "You do that, bud. He calls his game data protection and encryption Keelhaul. Make sure you read the user agreement. Later, Ryan." Laurie skipped adroitly around Ryan and Rascal gave him a headbutt to the knee which nearly buckled the fifteen year old to the ground, sticking his tongue out at him as he trotted after his mistress. As Laurie caught up to her parents, the Keanes were arriving to Champion's Field. Jack gave Ian a nod in greeting as the Cassidys ambled over. Jack and Ian were acquaintances, Jack having been hired by Ian or on his clients' behalf to fix up property for living or flipping. The Cassidy women waved. "It's been a while, Ian," Jack said. "You and your ladies need any help unloading?"
  17. The Keane Residence, 0830. -ish. It was the smell of coffee, rather than the sound of the dogs or the brilliant sunlight pouring through her window, that roused Autumn from her dreams. Blinking against the light, she groaned and dragged a pillow over her face. She’d just been sitting in front of a campfire with Jason, in a tiny ring of orange glowing amidst the deep blue-black nothingness of the woods at night, and he was smiling that little half-smile of his over the rim of his mug. What had he just said? She frowned, trying to remember the sound of the syllables, the shape of his mouth, the exact cadence of his speech, but it was already fading. Ugh. Why was it that when people talked to you in dreams, it made sense, but afterwards it just dissolved into gibberish? Or maybe it was nonsense to start with, and because you were dreaming you just got to decide what it meant. Or maybe… She sighed, flinging the pillow and the blankets off as she peered up at the sunlit ceiling overhead, the faint outline of pale green stars just visible here and there in the wash of brilliant white. Maybe she’d just dreamed in Russian, or something. Crazier things have happened, right? Like finding a radio that changes dimensions. Like seeing actual monsters. Like rescuing cats from a secret prison, or discovering that aliens are real, or that you and other people at your school have super-powers. Or, you know. Like dating someone who actually speaks Russian. She smiled sleepily at that, shifting around a little on the striped sheets. Or like… She blinked again as something else occurred to her. Going to sleep on the couch and waking up in your own room? As she sat upright, the redhead’s sleep-fogged brain struggled to piece together the series of events that had somehow led to this particular outcome. She swung her feet over the edge of the bed, letting them dangle there for a moment as she stared blankly at the haphazard arrangement of clothes on the chair nearby. They’d been watching Braveheart, she was pretty sure, and she didn’t remember coming upstairs, but… here she was. So, how…? Almost fully awake now, she could just make out the drone of conversation from downstairs. Voices. Her mom’s, and a deeper, more masculine one- Suddenly everything clicked into place. “Dad!” she yelled, bounding out of bed and down the stairs, accompanied by a chorus of excited canine voices as the dogs rushed to meet her. “Morning guys,” she greeted them in passing, idly reaching down to pet whichever happened to be closest on her way to the kitchen. “...definitely your daughter,” he was just saying as Autumn rounded the corner and, with an excited whoop, launched herself at the father she hadn’t seen in what seemed like months. “Ooofff, hey, careful. Coffee,” Ian chided her with a grin and a one-armed hug, absorbing the impact of her energetic embrace as he held the half-full mug up and away to avoid the fallout. With a bemused shrug, Dana took it adroitly from his hand and set it on the island, watching as her typically not-a-morning-person offspring squeezed the breath from him before she’d even said hello. “Hey, sweetheart,” he greeted her, returning the hug with both arms this time and planting a kiss atop the dishevelled red-gold curls she hadn’t yet bothered to comb. “How’s my little firecracker doing this morning, hmm?” “‘m good,” came the pleased reply as they swayed back and forth like that for a few moments. She didn’t even protest the childish nickname, cringey as it was, since he was the only one who’d ever used it anyway. ...Well, and even apart from that, it was a little reminder that even in Billings or Bozeman or Missoula or Helena, he was still her dad. He still remembered. Note to self: do not let him call me that in front of anyone today. The grin in her mind refused to remain hidden there, irrepressibly curving the corners of Autumn’s mouth upward as she squeezed him tightly. He was home. Finally. “Missed you.” “I know. I missed you, too.” “What time did you get in?” she asked, grabbing an oversized mug and glancing back in Ian’s direction as she poured herself a “cup” of coffee. “Eh, a little later than I intended,” her father admitted sheepishly, exchanging a look with Dana over Autumn’s head as he reclaimed his own mug from the counter. “You two were already out.” He smiled, reaching out to tousle her hair fondly as she grinned and ducked away with a grumble of half-hearted protest. “So I thought we’d head out a little early today, find a good spot to set up and just spend the day together. The three of us.” “Cool. Yeah, that sounds good.” The girl’s nose crinkled slightly as she smiled, stirring sugar and cream into her drink. “It does,” the older Keane woman agreed. “Maybe she’ll even introduce you to her boyfriend.” “Boyfriend?” Ian blinked, pale blue eyes wide as he looked from his daughter to his wife. “You mean, not…?” Dana shook her head: No. She didn’t mean Jacob. Not anymore, at least. Comprehension dawned, and he nodded, taking a quick sip from his mug. “That’s right. I remember now. Your mother did say something about a… camping trip, I think?” He glanced at his daughter for confirmation, and she rewarded him with a smile and a quick nod, her amber-speckled features going faintly pink. “Mhmm, and he came over for dinner after that.” she replied cautiously, checking from the corner of her eye to see if her mom planned to explain why, exactly, he’d been invited to stay. The auburn-haired vet caught the none-too-subtle glance, and smirked. ‘He did,” Dana added breezily. “And he was a great help, too. Very hands-on.” Warm hazel eyes danced with mischief as she arched an eyebrow at her daughter, whose rosy cheeks flushed to a deeper scarlet at the memory. Amused, she turned to check the breakfast quiche in the oven then, leaving her concerns about the swiftness of their developing relationship for another conversation. It was still early in the day, after all, and Ian ought to have the chance to meet Jason for himself before more serious parental discussions were had. “Oh? Good to hear,” he replied distractedly, glancing at his watch. It wasn’t quite nine yet, but Warden Crocker had already called to let them know what he and Jacob were bringing for the day-long picnic- he also suspected it was to find out if he’d actually made it back to Shelly this time. It was hard to fault him for that, the tall real estate broker reflected with a pang of guilt that rendered the mouthful of black brew he swallowed slightly bitter on his tongue. “So, is this new guy a junior, too, this year?” “Yeah, we have Chemistry together.” There was a moment of what definitely felt like an awkward silence in the kitchen, and Autumn’s eyes widened. “The class, I mean,” she clarified quickly, groaning inwardly at her father’s expression and wishing fervently that she could crawl inside her coffee mug. “Well, and, uh, Study Hall.” “Chemistry,” her father reiterated flatly, warily glancing from her to Dana as the latter stifled a laugh and resolutely switched off the oven, refusing to return the look she could feel being burned into her back. “Well that’s… That’s great, sweetie. Just great.” ------------- Later that morning. “They’ll be fine,” the pretty vet reassured her husband, smiling as she scratched under Zee’s chin. The Keanes had been loading up the Jeep for a little while now, packing it with enough coolers and bags to feed and entertain the trio for at least a week, but it wasn’t intended solely for them: sandwiches and cold salads for lunch, ribs and thick pork chops to grill later, sodas and iced tea and a couple of six packs of summery IPAs and traditional lagers. “They’ve got plenty of water out, and lots of shade if it does turn warm this afternoon. We’re not going to be gone all day,” she reminded him, watching as their energetic daughter hefted the last bag of ice into a plastic storage container and snapped the lid shut. “How do you think they manage when I’m at work and Autumn’s at school?” She paused for a moment and, tentatively, rested her hand on his. “It’ll be fine.” “Fine, or fine?” Autumn interjected with a grin, going up on her tiptoes to give both parents a kiss on the cheek. Dana rolled her eyes at that, smiling, and shook her head. “I’m gonna do one last door check and grab my phone. Anything you guys want me to get while I’m in there?” Her father patted his pockets, frowning a little, then shrugged and offered her an easy smile. “No, no, I think I’ve got everything.” His gaze moved over her shoulder, catching his wife’s eye as the paternal expression softened slightly. “Everything I need, anyway.” He didn’t miss Autumn’s requisite grimace of teenaged disgust at the thought of parental romance, or the softly-murmured “Gross,” under her breath as she turned and jogged back up to the house with the dogs at her heels. He shrugged again, a sort of uncomfortable one-shouldered gesture Dana immediately recognized as one her child had adopted. “Parents,” he opined laconically, opening the passenger door for his bride. “Totally,” she replied, deadpan, and climbed inside. “So, this new guy,” Ian began cautiously, leaning against the side of the SUV. “You’ve met him. Is he… I mean, what’s he like? Jacob’s a good kid. Good guy, I guess.” He corrected himself, realizing that a seventeen-year-old wasn’t much of a kid anymore. Not really. “I thought they got along really well. I mean, hell, they grew up together, and then-” With a sigh, he gestured vaguely, helplessly, toward the house. “‘And then’, yeah,” Dana replied thoughtfully, nodding as she followed his reflection in the side mirror. There was no need to elaborate further on that particular point; Owen’s passing had hit a few people pretty hard, his granddaughter especially. Until recently, seeing Autumn taking interest in other people and going out again, she hadn’t realized exactly how hard the girl had taken it- or even how hard she’d taken it herself. And then last night… Well, the air felt a little clearer, didn’t it? “I kind of half-expected them to get married right out of high school, to be honest. And I like Jacob, I really do, and maybe they’ll work things out and find each other again later. I’m just…” She sighed, thinking back on the weird charge in the atmosphere when her daughter and the Bannon boy had been in the kitchen, the pair so intent on each other that at times she’d almost wondered if she’d even really been present there in the room. It wasn’t exactly reassuring, but the very nature of that intensity, and their youth, all but dictated that it couldn’t last long. The brightest flames burned quickest, after all. “I’m just glad,” she finally allowed, “that I don’t have to worry about that for her anymore.” “Mmmm.” The reply was noncommittal, Ian watching the house as his wife watched him. “Jason Bannon, you said?” “I did. As for what he’s like?” She paused, her expression pensive; there really wasn’t a satisfying answer to that. “He’s… Well, it’s hard to say.” Dana smiled as her husband glanced at the mirror, meeting her eyes through the reflective glass. “I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself.” Oddly, it was easier talking about her daughter’s shiny new relationship than it was to discuss her own nearly twenty-year-old one, and the two fell quiet after a moment, listening to the small but beloved pack of fosters they’d taken in huffing and whining and yelping softly as they gamboled about in the front yard. Autumn’s father opened his mouth as a thought occurred to him, something he felt he ought to have said already, when the girl herself came bounding down the porch steps, pausing to distribute head scratches and belly rubs aplenty before heading over to the car. “‘Kay, all set.” Clambering into the crowded back seat, she checked her phone out of habit and tucked it in the pocket of her hoodie as Ian closed the door. She’d obviously fixed her hair a little, added a few hints of makeup, but otherwise hadn't fussed too much over her appearance; maybe this boyfriend thing wasn't such a big deal. Nothing to worry about, he reassured himself. “So,” he tried again, getting situated himself and glancing at his pink-cheeked offspring in the rearview mirror. “This Jason guy. How’d you guys meet? What’s he like?” Dana snorted softly under her breath and turned, watching the house disappear behind them. True to form, if Ian wanted something, he’d try all avenues available to get it. It made him a great realtor, but an annoying partner sometimes. Shrugging, the restless redhead peered conspicuously out the window, ignoring the warmth creeping up the sides of her face. How was she supposed to describe him to her dad, of all people, when Jason Effing Bannon was still a mystery to her? Maybe always would be. Huh. “I mean, he’s kind of-” She paused, pursing her lips as the trees whizzed past. “Different. But he should be there today. I hope. So, I guess you can meet him and see for yourself?” With an exasperated sigh, Ian returned his gaze briefly to his wife- who was also staring out the window- and turned out onto the highway. “What is this, a conspiracy?” “Nope. It’s a mutiny,” Dana quipped, cutting her eyes at him. “While the captain’s away, the crew will play, or something like that.” Muffled laughter from the back seat answered her, but her husband’s expression was less amused. Even if Autumn hadn’t caught the edge hidden in her mother’s joke, he had, and it stung. Moreso because it was true, and he had no right to deny it. “Ahh, that must be why the rum’s gone, then,” he replied with a taut smile, and a levity he didn’t quite feel. Labor Day, indeed: he was apparently going to have to work his ass off to get this right.
  18. Beasts of Flesh and Steel is coming soon to enliven your 5e gaming table! Our friends at Here Be Dragons Games have a wonderful Kickstarter offering for you. We have lots of cool streaming events coming up soon. The post Cypher Chronicles, 34-2020 appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  19. The Allen Residence - Morning The Allens did not usually celebrate Labor Day. It hit a little close to home. It had been one of Arthur's favorite holidays, and he'd made a big deal out of the barbecues and celebration of it. That, plus it being pretty close to the day Teresa and Cassie were informed of his demise, made it a rather somber event for them now. Cassandra hadn't even been home last Labor Day, choosing to spend most of it out with friends instead. Even at the time she'd felt like shit about it afterwards, leaving her mom alone on that day...but the oppressive mourning and tension were just too much to deal with. There wasn't a good solution, so she just split. She wasn't going to let it go that way this time. Teresa was in the kitchen, absently stirring a bowl of oatmeal and milk as she gazed off through the sliding glass door to the backyard. She hadn't really realized it, but even though her mind was occupied with deciding what to have for lunch, and what kind of wine to have with it, her eyes were resting on the outdoor grill that was parked just under the awning over the back porch. When Cassandra came in she glanced over and managed a tired smile. "Hey hon. What have you got going today?" The casual words had a slightly forced quality to them, Cassie noted. Her mother hadn't forgotten. She shrugged, then said, "I was thinking of going to the Carousel fields....meet some friends." When Teresa nodded quickly and looked away, Cassandra came over and bumped shoulders with her. "I mean both of us going." "Oh, uh," her mother replied, taken off-guard, "...you know I like staying in on days off. Not like I get a lot, so it's nice to just rest up. You can go ahead..." "Please, mom?" Cassie interjected. "It'll be a really nice day out. We can get some super unhealthy food. And it won't just be my friends there...you'll have friends there too. We can bring Bacon." At the sound of his name, Bacon came scrabbling over from the little laundry room where he had a little bed of old blankets set up for him. He pressed in between Cassandra and her mother's legs, eagerly bridging the gap between them. Teresa smiled and reached down to give the German Shepard an affectionate scratching between his pointy ears. "I was thinking I'd just relax today," she demurred. Cassie was having none of it though. "You mean mope," she said. "Look, you don't have to stay for long if you really don't like it. But I think it would be fun to go out for once. You know, be in the sun, have some really greasy food...maybe on a stick... When's the last time you took a ride on a merry go round?" Her mother smiled a little in spite of herself, then looked down at her oatmeal. It was cooling, with the milk making little pools on top of the grey mush at the surface. "Look," Cassandra pressed, "the bottom line is that I'm spending today with you. I think we'd both have more fun out at the Carousel, but if we want to stay here and eat ice cream and watch Lifetime...cool. We'll do it. But...I think once you feel some sun and some wind, and once you get moving, and see some familiar faces..." Jesus, thought Teresa abruptly. How long has it been since I've seen any friends? Leaving out phone calls, texts...had it been weeks? Months? Suddenly there were tears in her eyes. "Honey," she said, trying to think of a good reason not to. "Just give it a try, mom," Cass quickly interrupted. "Come with me." Bacon wuffed at this, wagging his tail. "See? It's two versus one." Teresa laughed at that. "Oh, so we're a democracy now?" Cassie grinned and offered a hand. "More like a...pirate ship. We're doing what I say. If you hate it, you can mutiny. Walking planks may be involved." I'm not letting you waste away for someone who's not dead. And I'm not letting what might be our last time together be sad and depressing. After a moment's hesitation, Teresa gave Cassie's hand a quick squeeze and said, "Would you cover this up and put it in the fridge? I'm going to need actual shoes it sounds like."
  20. In which the crew interviews Rai W. Cole and Monica Speca from the Bonus Experience podcast! The origin of “Nello” and video-game translations A bit on typos and iWizards We have guests? We have guests! Monica and Rai introduce Bonus Experience Where did their podcast come from? Motivated by spite How Rai got into the RPG industry! A bit on setting and why we like what we do We meet Bruce the puppy Upcoming projects for Rai! Cheeky Nando’s Tangent What is Monica working on aside from Nando’s? Where should you start with Bonus Experience? Some things on language Dixie asks a terrible question and later has to backtrack Things get chaotic Dixie asks a better question Links: Bonus Experience: https://bxpcast.com/ The Systematic Understanding of Everything: https://www.exaltcast.com/ Through the Breach/Malifaux: https://www.wyrd-games.net/ Monster Care Squad: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sandypuggames/monster-care-squad Ryuutama: http://kotohi.com/ryuutama/ Scion: Demigod Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/scion-demigod-book-3-for-the-scion-second-edition-rpg Onyx Path YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheOnyxPath Onyx Path Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/theonyxpath Onyx Path Discord: https://discord.gg/5uckcBk
  21. The Last Day Of Summer, The Last Day In The Sun. A fulcrum point between Then and Soon. There was a synchronicity to the day, Coyote mused as he looked out of the window of his hotel room, the inelegantly-named 'OYO Hotel Shelly, MT' The cheap, reasonably clean and low-profile hotel was as good a place as any to lay his head when sleep became a necessity - as he had told the winsome Jauntsen girl, he was made of much the same substance as other living creatures, and his physical needs were largely of the same kind, though altered in some ways and diminished greatly in others. Substance, he mused, holding a hand up to his gaze, peering at the solid-seeming flesh and noting, on the noetic level, how paper-thin his vital force now was. It had been a long time. Too long, even for a race that had thought itself immortal. Too long to be cut off from the surge and shimmer of true Radiance, the Source of All, on this prison-rock. He had husbanded his strength through millenia and now, in this time and place, the fruition of every manipulation, every nudge, every word sown in the right ears at the right times was coming to pass in a handful of seedlings, beautiful and fragile, each containing a spark of his Radiance passed down through uncounted generations, nurtured in the deadly yet fertile soil of Montana. Keeping track of the bloodlines alone had been a Herculean task, let alone ensuring that they would propagate in the right way. Each of them had a touch of greatness, a spark that the presence of Radiance could fan into an illuminating star... or a terrible inferno. Or both, the near-immortal thought with a smile and a shrug. Fire burned, but from ashes arose new growth. Illumination could also be blinding. They would need to find the balance between blindness and destruction. He hoped that they would find that balance in each other. Hope was all he could do, really. Tonight was the night. He sensed that as the sailor senses the storm through the ache in his shoulder. One of his seedlings was already dead, their light devoured. Tonight would see if the others had the mettle that their world would need. He looked out of the window at the Champion's Field surrounding the Carousel across the road, and mused at how apt the naming of the field was. Today, the champions of this little blue-green ball would revel, and tonight go forth to either bring doom or salvation to their people. * * * * * * * Catheen of the Draig, born from Elsbett by Iskand, heard the sound of music and laughter and voices as she sat at the table in her apartment's small kitchen nook. The sun was shining outside, the blue skies calling her to step out, to wander amongst the people of her adopted home. After all, Kaitlin Forster would be expected to show up, wouldn't she? She'd smiled pleasantly and nodded noncommitedly in the teachers lounge when asked if she'd be attending, half intending to simply claim a stomach-ache when she did not show. But she shared a quality with humanity that her son did not - the need for company, to be part of a larger grouping, to feel the ebb and pulse of people around her. Put simply, she was lonely. She did not deliberate overlong. Donning a sundress and sandals, and slipping a pair of sunglasses over her cerulean eyes, she checked herself in the mirror before applying a couple of touches of makeup. She grabbed her purse and a broad-brimmed sun-hat as she headed out of the door, wondering idly if her son would be at the Labor Day event... * * * * * * * Hannah Fuhrman was annoyed. Not about her weekend - she'd caught up with an old flame from college who had been just the right mixture of friendly and flirtatious to take her mind off her philandering soon-to-be-ex-husband. They'd had a nice date, and Brock had been a gentleman and not pressed when she'd bid him goodnight with a kiss on the cheek before headed to her hotel room alone. Her lawyer had advised her to wait until the papers were all signed before getting back on the horse - advice which at the time the heartbroken woman had scoffed at but was now grateful for. Then she'd spent Sunday shopping and treating herself to a spa before heading back to her hotel once more. Only to receive no answer from the home phone or Charlie's cell when she tried to call him at noon on Monday to let him know she was on the way - and give him time to clear up any evidence of teenage shenanigans. Her lips thinning in an irritated grimace, Hannah heard the voicemail message for the sixth time. "Charlie, it's your mother. Again, again. Please call me back, or better yet, answer your damn phone, mister." she said with some severity. "And the house better not be trashed when I get back, or you are grounded for life." she added with only a faint trace of humor in her tone. "See you in a couple hours, sweetheart. I'm leaving Great Falls after I have some lunch with a friend." That boy, Hannah sighed as she hung up and turned back to finish packing. "Probably off smoking weed with his reprobate friends again." she muttered with a shake of her head. Still, she was meeting Brock again for lunch, so at least she could swap divorcee stories and enjoy herself before going back to being 'The Mom'...
  22. Now available in advance PDF from DriveThruRPG: Terra Firma for Trinity Continuum: Æon! Bleeding Edge Dangers and Ancient Mysteries! Terra Firma expands the setting of Trinity Continuum: Æon by revealing some of the many wonders and secrets found on Earth and Luna, while also providing Storytellers with the material they require to set exciting campaigns on either of these two worlds. Terra Firma requires both the Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook and Trinity Continuum: Æon to play. Inside, you will find: Further information about 10 nations previously discussed in Trinity Continuum: Æon, including a detailed look at an important city in each nation. Details on threats facing Earth, including revolutionary movements, dangerous cults, and criminal gangs. An exploration of some of the strange, and often deadly, mysteries found on Earth and Luna — from the ancient and terrible Gorgon Karst caves beneath eastern Europe to the bizarre Hadley Rille Anomaly on Luna. New technologies used on Earth, examples of the many strange and powerful relics of the Nova Age, as well as new Edges and Paths specifically for the inhabitants of Earth and Luna. Merch Also available: posters and art prints of the Trinity Continuum: Æon cover art! Kickstarter Update The Kickstarter for Scion 2nd Edition Book 3: Demigod is halfway through! We funded to 100% in 75 minutes, 200% in less than 12 hours! We’re currently at 313% of our $35,000 goal, or $109,625, thanks to our 1758 backers (just inches away from the next stretch goal), and we’ve hit several stretch goals: Scion: Demigod Reference Screen Scion: Demigod Companion: New Boons, new creatures, new Guides, new followers Backer T-shirt Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Legendlore: Legendlore Vampire: The Masquerade: Cults of the Blood Gods Mage: The Ascension: Technocracy Reloaded Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Chronicles of Darkness: Deviant: The Renegades Chronicles of Darkness: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Chronicles of Darkness: Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition Community Spotlight The following community-created content for Scarred Lands has been added to the Slarecian Vault in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Realms of Pugmire has been added to Canis Minor in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last week: Scion: Divine Garage Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  23. The movers had already left the day before and were well on their way to Avalon's new home in Canada. The Wright house was down to only what they needed to get by for one more evening before they all said goodbye to Shelly for good. It would only be about another hour or so before they hit the road but Devin had made it his his personal duty to make sure his soon to be ex didn't leave Shelly without first having a proper goodbye. The Wrights didn't care for Devin, so when his Ducati purred as he cut the engine after pulling into their driveway, he didn't much acknowledge their glares at him. The Wrights were having some sort of sorted love trist with Lona's mother at the expense of Lona being treated like a non-existent entity or an inconvenience in her mother's life. The last thing those abusive freaks needed to be doing was cast judgmental eyes on Devin. They continued to load things into the vehicles as he walked past and towards the side gate that led to the pool house where Clara and Lona stayed (it kept them out of the house and out of way, parents of the year). “She's still grounded,” Adele had the nerve to say to Devin after he passed her. The side gate was always locked, but that never stopped him. With a leap and kick off from the house, Devin soared and rolled over the gate with a practiced gymnast's grace. Furious, Adele turned towards the house and gave pursuit to the pool house with all haste but when she stormed inside all she found was Clara, hair in a tight ponytail, finishing some last minute packing and planning. “Where's Avalon?” Adele asked. Clara only shrugged and shook her head. “I haven't seen her for twenty minutes, maybe? She went to get breakfast she said.” Again she shrugged and stuffed a few travel distractions in her bag. She nodded to towards the house. “I figured she was in there with you guys.” Lona laughed as her hands hit the table of the Waffle House. Seattle seemed to be where they were enjoying this morning's fine dining. “Oh, I am so grounded for life. Slick, Jauntsen, slick.” She looked at her phone as it lit up where it was resting on the table. “Clara says we made it by half a second. And my mom is currently going on a tirade. You excel at pissing people off.” Devin shrugged and smiled wide. “Not my finest work, but I think given the time crunch, we totally nailed it.” They laughed and joked for the better part of a half an hour or so as they ate their greasy spoon hash browns and eggs. Neither broached the subject of the inevitable departure and Devin knew that soon he would have to take her home. It was what it was, however and until that moment came he chose to focus on nothing but her. It was amazing, his thoughts wandered, how he was able to meet someone who was just as messed up as he was, but inspired him to be a better person. At the beginning of summer someone pitching the notion of he and Avalon Wilson dating would have garnered some of the strangest looks and laughter not only from Devin, but his sister as well. She wasn't exactly the sort of girl he'd have considered being caught dead around with her leather jacket and shaved head and whole host of attitude issues. Yet here he was, dreading the moment she'd be out of his life. It was almost storybook the way they held each other's hand by nothing more than curling their pinkies around the others. Now, they were back in Shelly, walking the nature trails of Montana's more scenic vistas that overlooked the mountains and plains still untouched by human ambition. It had only been a few minutes of silence as the view still amazed them enough to capture their tongues as their hearts were sifting through possible farewell dialogue. “I'm going to miss you,” Devin finally managed as they looked out on the fields where early morning mist still clung to the canopy of trees a few miles away before dipping down into the greens and yellows of the tall grass in the neighboring fields. “I'll miss you too,” she smiled but kept her gaze affixed on the valley below. “So... is this the part where we profess undying love and swear that we'll be together again soon, or... how's this supposed to go?” “We both know how it's going to happen. I'm pragmatic enough and you've performed and written enough love songs to know how this'll all go. We'll swear some pact to never forget each other, but we will. We'll swear that we'll find each other one day, but we'll bother either married with a butt load of kids or too busy with our careers to make the time to make it to the spot we agreed to meet at.” She chuckled silently, as he wasn't wrong. Movies and song were pretty far from accurate when it came to the successful ratio of high school kids and their lost crushes finding one another later in life. “Look, Avvie, all I know is that where ever you go don't go there thinking about the next time we'll meet or hold onto the hope of when that day will come. Just go knowing that right here, right now, in this moment, I love you.” Disney Princess tears were not what formed in her eyes, but raw emotions had certainly found its way there and hey eyes met his with inquisitive wonderment as she, despite who she was talking to, could feel the honesty in his words. “Really?” She asked, a part of her wanting to hear him say it again, desiring to know that somewhere in her messed up life of insanity and mourning and negative feelings that somewhere in it all, some guy actually manged to fall for her. Flaws and all. “I guess,” Devin shrugged. His smirk was forced as she could sense the lack of the usual bravado he typically carried like a trophies on his shoulders in the shape of a golden devil and silver angel. “I know that when I'm with you I'm elated. I feel joy, happiness, wonderment... all the things that describe someone feeling love... I've only ever been in deep shit before so this is kind of new. But, I don't want to be one of those guys that tethers you to a promise or a hope and you give up on being you in order to wait for that hope to happen. You're amazing Avalon, I regret never seeing it sooner, but you have two more years of awesome Canadian Boarding School-” “Ugh,” she grunted and rolled her eyes. “Don't remind me.” “-and then four,” he gave her an appraising once over. “Probably six, years of rebellious college years and I don't want you wondering or thinking about me and the big 'what if'.” She sighed, loudly and defeated by the situation. “I know, but, that doesn't make it any less bullshit. We didn't even get a chance, Devin. It's not fair.” “Believe me, I know,” his voice faltered as he, like her, was pushing as hard as he could against the slowly bursting dyke of his emotions. “But, we both know this is going to happen, so I just want you to go knowing that you make me feel like love. One big, heaping pile of quivering confusion and happiness. I want your heart to know and feel like mine does right now for you, I want your songs to say all the things your heart can't and I want you to never forget that you've inspired me to do and be greater than what I was. To be a friend, a leader, a boyfriend... so, thank you and if you ever stop to think, whether tomorrow or years from now, whether or not I ever think of you from time to time, the answer is 'yes'.” She smudged away a tear from her cheeks with the ball of her palm. “God, for a jerk, why do you have to be so good at wording?” She sniffled. “Just... just c'mere...” she pulled him close and they kissed passionately under Heaven's watchful eye. After several moments of heart wrenching bliss she broke off the embrace to smile, telling him: “I love you, too. Or time was short, but you've been an amazing guy and I know you can be even better. I hope, hope, that one day we can maybe see how hot we can burn without the chains of parental authority holding us back, but, you're right. Let's live our lives, git gud, and be awesome and if that time comes, so be it. If not, we have now and our first time? Well, we never forget that, right?” “Right,” he smiled lovingly at his soon to be one-that-got-away and kissed her gently on her lips. A few carefully placed texts managed to get Avalon smuggled back into the pool house. As Devin left the parents of the home threw a fit the moment they saw him. Adele followed him, yelling something, but he didn't pay her any mind, after all, what were they going to do? Not move just so just they could stay and hate Devin? Not likely. They'd get over it, but him not even offering her a glance or motion that revealed he cared anything about her or what she had to say only drove into a larger fury. By the time he got on his bike and drove off she was telling him something cruel and vindictive about her daughter never seeing him again. That was fine. She had to live with the damage she was causing now and even the most devoted daughter could only tolerate so much before she would eventually turn her back. He knew Avalon would be just fine and no matter where she went, he'd always be there for her... literally in the blink of an eye.
  24. Bring something unexpected to your Fifth Edition game with scores of weird and wondrous science-fantasy creatures born in the Ninth World—the award-winning, critically acclaimed setting created by legendary game designer Monte Cook. The post Beasts of Flesh and Steel appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  25. At this writing, the Scion: Demigod 2e Kickstarter is almost at the half-way point and we’re over 300% funded and have over 1700 backers. Not bad at all for half-way! Of course, we’re also in the slow-down period for a bit coming up, so keep an eye out for the previews, actual plays, and interviews we have scheduled to keep everyone entertained until pledging picks up again! Fun fact: the joint Kickstarter for Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero launched in September, 2016 – four years ago! Also, as of this writing, we have attained Stretch Goals including unlocking the Reference Screen, KS backer exclusive T Shirt discount, and are building up the Scion: Demigod Companion with sections on new Boons, creatures, Guides, and followers – and are headed towards the next goal of a section on Solo Play! Stretch Goals are something we continue to tinker with, and we’ve found that doing an overflow book like many of the Companions is really ideal. Backers get access to even more info about the game they pledged for, and we can create goal thresholds that are chapter-sized and therefore priced to such amounts that are achievable more quickly. Which makes the fun of surpassing an amount and achieving a Stretch Goal regular things backers can look forward to. But we still also look at other possible goals if the KS can support them with the pledges. Pay bumps for creators is a personal favorite of mine, and some of our crew like Jumpstarts or Fiction, too. And sometimes ideas for Stretch Goal rewards come at us from backers or other sources. We’re always open to hearing ideas. Terra Firma art by Sam Denmark What we do try to stay away from these days are Stretch Goal rewards that involve adding new material to the book being KS’d, as we’ve seen that derail getting that main reward out to backers by months and months. I’m also extremely leery of rewards that involve working with another company, at this point. It’s a question of expectation by our backers. We pretty much always phrase the reward to say that the reward means that we’ll work with the other company to create whatever it is they are creating. Then we do that, and after we do, the company, for all sorts of reasons, doesn’t deliver. We did our part, but folks feel like they simply didn’t get the reward that they were looking forward to. We don’t want that to be anybody’s takeaway from one of our KSs, so I’m avoiding those sorts of rewards for now. Just today, we received word that Paradox is good with the preview of the WoD Ghost Hunters Kickstarter we sent over, so that’ll be our next one! This is for the 20th Anniversary WoD books, so expect a cool Deluxe book all about investigating the paranormal in the World of Darkness. This book would go with the V20, W20, M20, C20, and especially the Wraith20 game lines. TC: Aberrant art by Jeff Rebner Some Things We Discussed at the Meeting Today: (For what it’s worth as an inside look at the meeting, most of the topics I usually put here as having been discussed during the meeting come from the first part of the meeting where general company issues are brought up and discussed. After that we review the status of the projects that fall under each in-house developer’s supervision and note any concerns based on how the in-house devs have seen things happen with their projects all last week.) We discussed some Covid-19 repercussions, which are ongoing, including our relationship with Paradox and the WW IPs as Paradox was also slammed by the situations around Covid. Approvals seem to be back on track, at least. We are still trying to help our printers deliver the various projects that need to get shipped out to KS backers, but we are seeing several of our KS ship outs being dragged out. Don’t worry, James will certainly let backers know if any of these challenges causes us to miss any estimated dates. In terms of our creators, we have been trying to help everyone keep working on our projects and get through all these upheavals, We had thankfully very few freelances diagnosed with Covid-19, but even if an individual wasn’t themselves affected, we have folks whose friends and relatives were, and people just ground down by it all. It’s very hard to put all that aside and work out compelling writing and get it on the page. Very few writers write in an iron tower that shuts out the real world. In fact, I’d say that creators need input to have creative output, and if all the input is fraught with existential despair and peril then they are going to have a really hard time turning that into some words about a made-up game world. Some folks can do just that – their creative output is what they use to block the nastiness of the real world out. Most others, though, and I mean most, have needed a helping hand here and there during all this. Some bailed on assignments, some worked with their devs, and some devs also had issues and worked with our in-house devs. Let the Streets Run Red art by Ken Meyer, Jr We did big meetings to talk through things like our “Town Halls” – we have another scheduled for early October – and we had design and productivity meetings and courses by folks like Eddy and Danielle. We hoped these helped, and we’ve seen a lot of our freelancers respond positively to these efforts, so…. Finally, we talked about the latest sale over at Indie Press Revolution – IPR – our sales partners that handle our Deluxe Kickstarter press overruns. And much, much, more, actually! This month we have a sale on Exalted 3rd Edition. The big book itself! The EX3 sale is now live at IPR:https://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Deals-and-Specials/ And tomorrow morning around 9am CST the Scarred Lands Players Guide PDF will be free for 24 hrs:https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/197803/Scarred-Lands-Players-Guide-OGL-5e That’s it for this week – have a great one, and I’ll be back next week talkin’ atcha about our: Many Worlds, One Path! Blurbs! Kickstarter! Scion: Demigod Second Edition blew through 300% funding last week, and is devouring all sorts of Stretch Goals! Currently headed for the inclusion of a solo-play set of rules in the Demigod Companion book! Check it out if you haven’t already: Our Next Kickstarter: World of Darkness: Ghost Hunters for the 20 Anniversary Editions! Onyx Path Media! This week: The folks at Bonus Experience podcast join the Trio for discussion and digression(s)! Bonus Experience consists of Monica and Rai, two queer freelancers who talk with authority about the RPG industry. They looking behind the screen, at the play experience, and the finer details of running and writing games. The podcast updates every other Monday. As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/ A Bunch of Gamers gets top billing this week due to their new, fantastic interview with developer Neall Raemonn Price regarding the currently on Kickstarter Scion: Demigod! Check it out and enjoy: https://youtu.be/8TzYDKYQzXw Two Scion: Demigod videos coming this week, including Vorpal Tales running Scion: Demigod and a Behind the Screen video on Scion too! Tune in on Twitch to watch live! For anyone new to our media section, you can find us running and playing games over on twitch.tv/theonyxpath pretty much every day of the week! Plus, if you’d like your games hosted there, just get in touch with Matthew Dawkins using the contact link on matthewdawkins.com. Please give our Twitch channel a follow, as you can find a huge number of videos of all kinds of games being run! This week on Twitch, expect to see these games and streams running: Scarred Lands – A Family Affair Technocracy Reloaded – Vorpal Tales Scion – Behind the Screen Scion: Demigod – Vorpal Tales Danielle’s RPG Development Workshop Hunter: The Vigil – Cold Cases Forsaken Spaces Changeling: The Dreaming – The Last Faerie Tale Mage: The Awakening – Occultists Anonymous Vampire: The Masquerade – Boston by Night Hunter: Unbound Anomalies – Devil’s Luck Gaming Get watching for some fantastic insight into how to run these wonderful games and subscribe to us on Twitch, over at twitch.tv/theonyxpath Come take a look at our YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/theonyxpath, where you can find a whole load of videos of actual plays, dissections of our games, and more, including: Changeling: The Dreaming – The Last Faerie Tale – E12 – https://youtu.be/NYI_zgcQqEw Scarred Lands – Purge of the Serpentholds – S1E15 – https://youtu.be/YdE0czNeYGE Hunter: The Vigil – Uptown Shadows Episode 4 – https://youtu.be/2qdLBpMu0lE Realms of Pugmire – Paws and Claws S2E15 – https://youtu.be/7bc5HZxAkFg Hunter: The Vigil – Uptown Shadows FINALE – https://youtu.be/8yKW18X1m9k Subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon if you want to be notified whenever new news videos and uploads come online! Tom Murr continues with his amazing They Came from Beneath the Sea! audio drama over on his YouTube channel! If you’ve not checked out his playlist, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDwUZRXJBlcnfjjsQE88RkZ6q5M5v9cGv Systematic Understanding of Everything is a new Exalted Explainer Podcast by Exalted Dev Monica Speca and Exalted Writer Chazz Kellner that is breaking down Creation in 45 minute chunks in preparation for Exalted Essence. Their most recent episodes are available over on https://www.exaltcast.com/, with their newest covering the stunning terrifying Abyssals! The Story Told Podcast continues their Fall of Jiara Exalted chronicle, and you can find their newest episode right here: https://thestorytold.libsyn.com/fall-of-jiara-26 Here’s the Keeper of the Archive covering Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero over on YouTube for your viewing pleasure! https://youtu.be/q2qUE0pJID4 Vorpal Tales assembled their playlist of They Came from Beyond the Grave! actual play episodes, and you can find all six of the episodes of this series right here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9fUj4KdqE4BTnVZv9pZUkSk7GpwnyKXG Please check these out and let us know if you find or produce any actual plays of our games! We’d love to feature you! Electronic Gaming! As we find ways to enable our community to more easily play our games, the Onyx Dice Rolling App is live! Our dev team has been doing updates since we launched based on the excellent use-case comments by our community, and this thing is awesome! (Seriously, you need to roll 100 dice for Exalted? This app has you covered.) We’re told that the App Dev is currently creating an updated version for the latest devices, so keep an eye open for those! Virtual TableTop! Introducing a Virtual Tabletop adventure: the Gauntlet of Spiragos for Scarred Lands on Astral TableTop! Scars of the Divine War, which ended less than 200 years ago, have still not healed. One such scar is the Chasm of Flies, a rent in the earth created when the titan Spiragos the Ambusher was smote down by one of the young gods, Vangal the Ravager. Now, the Chasm is inhabited by spider-eye goblins and their spider allies, but it is also thought to be the resting place of powerful artifacts from that elder age. Gauntlet of Spiragos is a Scarred Lands adventure designed for 1st level characters, although it can be easily modified for characters of up to 5th level. Astral TableTop is the easiest way to play any tabletop RPG online, free. Astral already supports popular systems like D&D and Pathfinder, and Astral can support virtually any tabletop roleplaying game. Get started quickly with built-in support for most popular game systems. Whether you’re brand new to TTRPGs or a veteran tabletop gamer, Astral‘s ease-of-use and built in automation is designed to streamline gameplay. Astral is browser-based and uses the latest technology to streamline your storytelling experience. Connect with your party online and run your campaigns however you like. Astral offers tools optimized for phone, tablet, and desktop devices, no installation required. Build epic battlemaps using Astral‘s enormous collection of scenery, props, and tokens or upload your own. Pro users gain access to over 12,000+ assets and fresh new packs every month. Add weather, visual effects, triggers, and so much more with easy-to-use tools Build your own adventure, or choose from pre-generated game kits like Gauntlet of Spiragos. Create character sheets, craft maps, or just jump right in to connect with your friends and start your adventures! On Amazon and Barnes & Noble! You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble). If you enjoy these or any other of our books, please help us by writing reviews on the site of the sales venue from which you bought it. Reviews really, really help us get folks interested in our amazing fiction! Our selection includes these latest fiction books: Our Sales Partners! We’re working with Studio2 to provide our traditionally printed books out into your local game stores. Game stores can order via their usual distributors, and can also contact Studio2 directly. And individuals can check out our projects via the links below! You can pick up the traditionally printed Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau main books, screens, and the official dice through our friends there! https://studio2publishing.com/search?q=pugmire Now, we’ve added Chronicles of Darkness books such as Changeling: The Lost Second Edition products to Studio2‘s store! See them here: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/all-products/changeling-the-lost Scion 2e books and other products are available now at Studio2: https://studio2publishing.com/blogs/new-releases/scion-second-edition-book-one-origin-now-available-at-your-local-retailer-or-online Our Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition books are also available from Studio2 in the US: https://studio2publishing.com/products/vampire-the-masquerade-chicago-by-night-sourcebook Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/ And you can order Pugmire, Monarchies of Mau, Cavaliers of Mars, and Changeling: The Lost 2e at the same link! And now Scion Origin and Scion Hero and Trinity Continuum Core and Trinity Continuum: Aeon are available to order The EX3 sale is now live at IPR: https://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Deals-and-Specials/ As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles at DriveThruRPG.com! Tomorrow morning around 9am CST the Scarred Lands Players Guide PDF will be free for 24 hrs:https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/197803/Scarred-Lands-Players-Guide-OGL-5e On Sale This Week! This Wednesday we are blasting off and landing back on good old Terra Firma for Trinity Continuum: Aeon! Check out the Advance PDF on DTRPG! Terra Firma expands the setting of Trinity Continuum: Æon by revealing some of the many wonders and secrets found on Earth and Luna, while also providing Storytellers with the material they require to set exciting campaigns on either of these two worlds. Terra Firma requires both the Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook and Trinity Continuum: Æon to play. Inside, you will find: • Further information about 10 nations previously discussed in Trinity Continuum: Æon, including a detailed look at an important city in each nations. • Details on threats facing Earth, including revolutionary movements, dangerous cults, and criminal gangs. • An exploration of some of the strange, and often deadly, mysteries found on Earth and Luna — from the ancient and terrible Gorgon Karst caves beneath eastern Europe to the bizarre Hadley Rille Anomaly on Luna. • New technologies used on Earth, examples of the many strange and powerful relics of the Nova Age, as well as new Edges and Paths specifically for the inhabitants of Earth and Luna. Conventions! Though dates for physical conventions are subject to change due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, here’s what’s left of our current list of upcoming conventions (and really, we’re just waiting for this last one to be cancelled even though it’s Nov/Dec). Instead, keep an eye out here for more virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with: PAX Unplugged: https://unplugged.paxsite.com/ We’re still waiting on word for this one, as a TTRPG publisher we weren’t included in the companies contacted for PAX‘s virtual con replacing their usual electronic gaming con(s). And now, the new project status updates! Development Status from Eddy Webb! (Projects in bold have changed status since last week.): First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep.) Exalted Essay Collection (Exalted) No Gods, No Masters (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion Fiction Anthology (Scion 2nd Edition) TC: Aeon Novella: Dawn (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) TC: Aeon Novella: Meridian (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Legacies of Earth (Legendlore) Once and Future (Scion 2nd Edition) They Came From Beneath the Sea! Jumpstart (They Came From…!) They Came From Beyond the Grave! Jumpstart (They Came From…!) Tales of Depravity! (They Came From…!) Heroes in a World of Horror! (They Came From…!) Tome of the Pentacle (Mage: the Awakening 2e) Redlines Dragon-Blooded Novella #2 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Squeaks In The Deep (Realms of Pugmire) Trinity Continuum: Anima Prometheus Unbound (was Psi Orders) (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Second Draft Many-Faced Strangers – Lunars Companion (Exalted 3rd Edition) Hundred Devil’s Night Parade (Exalted 3rd Edition) Exalted Essence Edition (Exalted 3rd Edition) Saints and Monsters (Scion 2nd Edition) M20 Technocracy Operative’s Dossier (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) Wild Hunt (Scion 2nd Edition) The Devoted Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) Development TC: Aberrant Reference Screen (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Across the Eight Directions (Exalted 3rd Edition) Contagion Chronicle: Global Outbreaks (Chronicles of Darkness) Exigents (Exalted 3rd Edition) Assassins (Trinity Continuum Core) Kith and Kin (Changeling: The Lost 2e) V5 Forbidden Religions (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Trinity Continuum: Adventure! core (Trinity Continuum: Adventure!) M20 Rich Bastard’s Guide To Magick (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) CtL 2e Novella Collection: Hollow Courts (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Adversaries of the Righteous (Exalted 3rd Edition) Novas Worldwide (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Manuscript Approval Crucible of Legends (Exalted 3rd Edition) Dystopia Rising: Evolution Fiction Anthology (Dystopia Rising: Evolution) Post-Approval Development M20 Victorian Mage (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) Mission Statements (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Contagion Chronicle Ready-Made Characters (Chronicles of Darkness) The Clades Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) V5 Children of the Blood (was The Faithful Undead) (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Editing Lunars Novella (Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition core rulebook (Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition) Player’s Guide to the Contagion Chronicle (Chronicles of Darkness) TC: Aberrant Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) LARP Rules (Scion 2nd Edition) The Book of Lasting Death (Mummy: The Curse 2e) Scion: Dragon (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion: Demigod (Scion 2nd Edition) Dearly Bleak – Novella (Deviant: The Renegades) N!ternational Wrestling Entertainment (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Under Alien Skies (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Dead Man’s Rust (Scarred Lands) V5 Trails of Ash and Bone (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Post-Editing Development W20 Shattered Dreams Gift Cards (Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th) Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Hunter: The Vigil 2e core (Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant core (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Deviant: The Renegades (Deviant: The Renegades) Legendlore core book (Legendlore) One Foot in the Grave Jumpstart (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2e) Masks of the Mythos (Scion 2nd Edition) They Came From Beyond the Grave! (They Came From!) Heirs to the Shogunate (Exalted 3rd Edition) Indexing Art Direction from Mike Chaney! In Art Direction Tales of Aquatic Terror – AD’d. WoD Ghost Hunters (KS) – KS page to Paradox for approval. Hunter: The Vigil 2e Mummy 2 Deviant – AD’d. Legendlore Technocracy Reloaded – AD’d. Cults of the Blood God – Artists chugging along. Scion: Dragon (KS) Masks of the Mythos (KS) Scion: Demigod (KS) They Came From Beyond the Grave! (KS) TC: Adventure! (KS) Geist: One Foot In the Grave – Artists are working. Contagion Chronicle Jumpstart (Chronicles of Darkness) – Breakdown brokedown. Monsters of the Deep In Layout Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad Vigil Watch Trinity Core Jumpstart Aberrant – 7 out of 12 sections laid out. Art still coming in. Proofing Cavaliers of Mars: City of the Towered Tombs Yugman’s Guide Support Decks (Scarred Lands) TC Aeon Terra Firma – Sent back to Josh, looking good. V5 Let the Streets Run Red – Hopefully going to WW this week. At Press TCFBTS Screen and Booklet – Files at press. They Came from Beneath the Sea! – Shipping from printer to KS fulfiller. Pirates of Pugmire – Shipping from printer to KS fulfiller. Pirates of Pugmire Screen – Files at press. Dark Eras 2 – Files printing. Dark Eras 2 Screen and booklet – Files at press. Contagion Chronicle – Press prep, PoD files uploaded and ordered. Contagion Chronicle Screen and Booklet – Files at press. Lunars Wall Scroll Map – Shipping to KS fulfiller from printer. Lunars Screen and Booklet – Files at press. Lunars: Fangs at the Gate – Prepping files for PoD and press. Scarred Lands Creature Collection – Shipping from printer to KS fulfiller. Sunken Bones – Pugmire pirate adventure – Closing errata. Titanomachy – Errata collecting from Advance PDF. Today’s Reason to Celebrate! In two days it will be the 9th anniversary of the release of Vampire: 20th Anniversary Edition at the Grand Masquerade in New Orleans! Soooo much has happened since then! V20 led to renewed interest in TTRPGs at WW, which led to Eddy and I doing those in-house, which led to me thinking I could be happy with my own TTRPG company, which led to Onyx Path Publishing!
  26. Our partners at Indie Press Revolution have some of our Exalted Deluxe Edition stock on sale for 40% off! This includes: Exalted 3rd Edition Deluxe Exalted 3rd Storytellers Screen Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought Deluxe Dragon-Blooded Storytellers Screen The sale lasts until September 27, or while supplies last, so grab them while you can!
  27. After leaving Jason's, Cade had headed home, knowing he needed to do several things, but he couldn't make himself do one that night. He settled for inviting Marissa to the family cookout. A part of him didn't really expect her to come over, but she did like Haruka, and if anything it would give her a chance to meet Cade's mother and father in a setting that was actually pleasant. He got home and went to get his dirty clothing together, washing what he'd had on before and the clothes from the last couple days before heading inside. His mom was in kitchen, putting away dinner, and she smiled "I was just about to put everything up..." Cade smiled. "I'll handle it mom, after I make a plate." It was light fare, some stew that'd keep for days. He knew his dad wasn't going to be home until late, so after fixing his plate he dutifully covered the dishes and put them away in the fridge. His mother sat there with him while he ate. "You had a good time with your friends?" She asked him quietly. "Yeah, we really did, and we got some great news. Lilly is back." "Didn't she go try out for the Olympics?" "Yes, she did but she didn't make it. Maybe next time." "That's too bad, she's a gifted athlete. The competition must have been pretty stiff." Cade continued eating as his mother spoke, and nodded. "I bet so. She'll make it next time though, I'm sure." It was the sort of small talk he'd grown used to, and he looked at her, knowing he'd have to be the one to bring up anything more. Just as he was about to, Haruka came in. "You're still eating, you're so slow." Cade had just finished. "What's the rush? I wasn't coming in there just yet. I need to talk to Marissa for a bit still. I sorta forgot to invite her for tomorrow with everyone around." Haruka fumed for a moment then smirked. "I guess I can wait to kick your butt in Mario Kart a bit longer so you can do that, but don't stay on your phone all night." Miyakko watched her children go back and forth with a content smile, and took Cade's now empty plate and glass, and went to wash them, Cade being a bit exasperated by this, but he bowed his head in thanks. "Thanks mom. Alright Haruka, I'll go call Marissa, and then we'll see who beats who in Mario Kart." He went to his room and dialed Marissa's number, waiting patiently for her to answer. So, a lot had happened that evening after she'd left the training session, most of which she just wanted to ignore for the present to allow herself time to process, evaluate, then, if needed, disseminate to the others. For now she sat calmly in her bed, in her comfy jammies, reading Name of the Wind before bed, as it was going to be a long day tomorrow, she'd decided early turning might be a good idea. When her phone began playing Kronk's Theme from The Emperor's New Groove she sighed and closed the book. "Hey, babe." She answered, sliding her glasses from their perch on her nose, she listened to her lover's proposal. "Um, yeah, sure. I think I can swing that. I can just meet my parents and Deej at the Carousel later." She smiled and bit her lip teasingly. He couldn't see her, but she was a method flirt. "Did you get the text I sent you earlier?" She could actually hear him blushing through the phone. "Well, think of that, when you see me tomorrow. See you at noon." ---===[Allister Residence, Labor Day, Monday Sept 2nd]===--- "Marissa!" Haruka squee'd as she ran over and gave her adopted babysitter/bestie/adopted sister a big hug. "Hey, girl!" Marissa laughed and returned it with a big squeeze and a grunt of big hug love. "Behaving? No giving your brother or mom any trouble, are you?" Miyakko, Cade's mother, smiled brightly as she greeted the lawful half of the Jauntsen twins. She paused momentarily to take in Marissa's outfit, which Cade didn't seem to mind, but knew his mother would have a few choice words about decency later in private. Considering Marissa's usual adherence to class and standards of propriety, her lover assumed she was wearing was as much to torment his teenage hormones as it was to irritate his parents. Truth of the matter was, the skin tight denim jeans, and the red bandana patterned halterneck that left little to modesty was simply her way of giving the end of summer a last hurrah before she welcomed in the harsh and cumbersome attire of her winter wardrobe. "Marissa, hello." Miyakko smiled warmly, offering her hand. "Cade doesn't stop talking about you, and thank you again for keeping an eye on Haruka, last week. You were a life saver." "It was no trouble," she laughed softly, taking his mother's hand while fanning away concern for babysitting with her other. "Ru-Ru and I had all kinds of fun, don't mention it. She's an absolute joy to spend time with." Her bae marveled once more at her ability to endear herself to people, especially since she'd never met his mother before and here she was a few moments into a conversation and Miyakko was ready to hire her fulltime to watch his sister. "Ru-Ru?" Cade said to her after the exchange and they were walking through the house to the back yard? "Yep!" Haruka smiled wide. "What's wrong, she not give you a nickname yet?" Marissa smiled impishly. "Not one I can repeat until you are a lot older, girl. Go help your mom." "Why? So you two can play kissy-face?" His sister snarled at them with an repulsed expression. "Maybe," Marissa smiled. "He's still mine, and I happen to enjoy kissing him, you'll get it once you're older." As she ran off to help, Marissa took the moment to steal a kiss from Cade, enjoying his arms wrapped around her waist as he drown in her lips and the softness of her skin. His mind had returned to yesterday morning and their first time together so many times in the last twenty-four hours he didn't even remember what focus was like. Cade's father clearing his throat startled them both and they separated, both wearing sheepish smiles of embarrassment. Cade's was genuine, Marissa's was a practiced reflex. "You two think you can keep your hands to yourself for a bit?" The Sheriff looked at them both with a stern, fatherly glare that told them he wouldn't be having any of that in his house. "Let me get right to it," she focused on Marissa. "I get you kids have these awesome powers and think you can save the world or whatnot, but this?" He waggled his finger between the two of them. "This, I don't like. You and your brother have been a pox on this community long enough that I'd hopped my son would have better taste in women, and where is the rest of your shirt?" "Dad!" Cade narrowed his eyes, sending waves of anger in his father's direction. "No, it's okay," Marissa smiled and rising her hand, she rest it on Cade's chest while she met her accusor in the eyes. "Thank you for having me over this afternoon, Sheriff. You have a lovely home. Cade was just escorting me to the back yard." She offered the Sheriff her hand. "Would you be so kind?" Cade was annoyed with his dad, but at the same time he did understand his problems at least with Devin. He spared his dad a look, and shook his head. He wanted to make some sort of comeback to defend Marissa, but one look showed she didn't want him to. He reached out and took Marissa's hand and led her into the backyard wordlessly, Leaving on Ian Allister in their home, to watch his son and the succubus queen who'd ensnared him head out to his backyard. He was moderately happy The boy's grandparents weren't going to be there, her outfit would scandalize them all. Cade leaned in and whispered quietly. "You look great, just thought you should know. I don't care what they say, now or later." The picnic table was set up for all of them, and Miyakko smiled. "Marissa would you like something to drink? We've got sodas, water, and sweet and unsweet tea. The food is just about done, We've got hamburgers, shiskebobs, and hotdogs coming off the grill, with all the trimmings, with the usual sides of potato salad and some rice." Haruka smiled. "If you're hungry now I can make you a salad." Both the Miyakko and Haruka were the picture of hospitality, and while Cade knew he'd hear about Marissa's outfit later on, he was happy now. He knew it was short notice, but he was happy she'd come. "That all sounds fantastic," her sincere smile was a treasure too long unseen in the Allister home. As Ian walked into the back yard. He as the typical Marine, large, thought he owned everything he set his eyes on, and figured he was way more important that he actually was. She side eyed the giant of a man and waited until he was in earshot. "Please, no doting over me. No one should have to act like a servant for my sake, not when I'm perfectly capable. A water sounds great, just point the way." If he wanted to play hardball, she'd play. "Over here," Haruka pointed to the cooler filled with beverages. She grabbed a water for Marissa who accepted with a smile. "Okay," Marissa approached Cade and twisted off the cap. She leaned in, whispering softly. "What the hell is his problem today? I thought we were all cool after the Branch Nine chat." Ian was all too aware that Marissa had seemingly charmed his entire family, and while it was easy to see why with Cade, the fact she could do so, even dressed like that, to Miyakko, who'd been very conservative since coming stateside with him, and his daughter, Haruka, who he admit to himself he was extremely protective of, irked him in the extreme. This was getting far out of hand. Now she was whispering to Cade, and he answered quietly, and Ian couldn't make it out. "He's mad at me still, and I don't think he approves of how you're dressed. It would absolutely scandalize all my grandparents, and I think it makes him uncomfortable." he said with a smirk. "They won't be joining us today though, so no worry there." Ian made his way to the grill making some final adjustments, and tried to ignore the succubus in his home, cozying up to his family. Cade shrugged, and then gave her a comforting smile. "I'm glad you were able to come, I wasn't sure if you and your family had plans for today or not." "Well, I don't care what he thinks, I didn't get dressed for him," she shook her head in irritation and then smirked and rolled her eyes at Cade. "Or you, for that matter, don't look at me like that. I happen to like this top and-" "Me too," Cade agreed with a nod. "-aaand," she spoke as she chuckled. "If he doesn't like it, that his problem. However," her met his with all seriousness. "If you two are still fighting, Cadums, you need to make up with him, at least, as much possible. He's your dad, and, well, tonight..." she let the point drop there since they both knew exactly what was going down that evening. Cade let out a small sigh, and his smile faded considerably. "You're right, but I'm still mad too. Devin made a valid point after you left yesterday, one I know Dad will understand. But it's kinda hard for me to get past things. To set aside my doubts." He shrugged his broad, massive shoulders, and nodded. "After we eat. I'll tell them, and while they put things up, I'll go talk with Dad. Do you mind being left alone with my mom and sister for abit?" He gave her a little smile "Thought you weren't gonna call me that in front of my family." "I didn't. They can't hear me." Her impish smile was followed with a wink. "I'm a big girl, I think I can handle your mom and Ru-ru for a few minutes." She gently placed her hand on his arm, "Look, I know you two are mad at each other, but think of it like this: no matter what, no matter how messed up my family is, I know that somewhere under it all my mom and dad love me. They don't always... or, ever, show it, but they're my parents, you know? I know, under all that Marine-ness your dad loves you more than anything in this world, so, just in case, make sure he knows you feel the same. He deserves at least that piece of mind for the rest of his life." "Now," she looked at him, craning her head imperially like the queen she believed herself to be. "Show me off, entertain me, I wanna meet your fams. Who knows, I might even give your mom some fashion advice... poor girl. This isn't nineteen-forties Japan, Christ." "You think mom's bad, you ought to see her mother, Mariko. Though I admit the Yukatas she sent mom and Haruka for Christmas do look amazing on them." He smiled back at her, and led her back over to the table, where Miyakko was just finishing setting everything out, and Haruka'd taken up a seat. It was set up on the back porch, which had fans blowing on low to fight the midday heat, and Haruka met them first. "Finished your lover's chat?" She asked them both impishly. Miyakko let out a small sigh of exasperation. "Haruka, be more respectful. Marissa's our guest. Besides it's not nice to tease your elder brother either." "Mom, if I don't tease him no one will...." Cade shook his head. "Totally untrue. There are more than enough who will. You're just mad because you only beat me in three races last night." "You're supposed to be nicer to your little sister and let her win at games...." Haruka answered smirking back at him and Marissa. "Do you play games with your brother, Marissa? Cade mostly plays his strategy and fighting games, but I can get him to play Mario Kart with me. and there were those couple times we got mom and dad to join in and play mario party." "Why would they need a yukata in Mont-" she shook her head and waved it off as Cade led her back over to the rest of the his family. Why they would need yukata's in the middle of Montana where they had no reason to ever wear them, and obviously didn't seem to practice any of the religious ceremonies necessary for their use while in a state devoid of the cultural festivals common for seeing them, Marissa had no clue. "Well, we have an Xbox and a PS4, but neither of us really sit down with them a whole lot. My brother and I workout together, practice our gymnastics, dancing, stuff like that. We've been horsing around at home and putting on YouTube videos of people shuffling and trying to get the steps down in one go... we've been tripping over each other, a lot." Her smile panned across the whole table as she spoke, a sure sign of someone used to public speaking. "It keeps us active instead of idle, which, if you've never met my brother, it's hard to keep him in one spot for long." She smirked as the Sheriff choked momentarily on his drink. "Her brother is Devin, Mom," Haruka informed Miyakko. "He's really cute." It was Cade's turn to choke as Marissa hid her smile, poorly, with a raised hand to her lips. "I'll pass that along," Marissa teased. "We do veg-out though, and when we do Devin likes his speed and sports games. Personally, and don't judge me, I play really violent games, like Grand Theft Auto." "Imagine that," Ian grunted softly with a sharp side-eye to the dark-haired beauty. "It's true." She giggled, ignoring him. "School is sometimes really stressful, coming home and annoying people online and listening to them lose their minds when I ghost them and drive off into the sunset." She shrugged, completely unapologetic. "We all have our guilty pleasures." "Could you teach me to dance?" Her lover little sister asked. "Haruka, don't pester her," Cade's mother touched her daughter's shoulder, reminding her she was there and as a mother, ever watchful. "No, it's fine," Marissa laughed. "Tell you what, Ru-ru, maybe later this week, after school or something, Cade can bring you by and we can all practice some dancing and maybe order a pizza and watch another Disney or Pixar movie? If, your mom and dad are okay with that," as the young girls eyes lit up with hope Marissa pointed a finger to the heavens. "And, you're nice to your brother from now until then. Deal?" She narrowed her eyes at her brother, then to Marissa. Cade laughed and extended his hands out like he was shrugging. "How is this even up for consideration? I'm not that hard to be nice to." "Yeah," the two ladies in his life said in unison. "You kinda are." They both giggled and looked away, as if to conspire against him. Miyakko chuckled softly at their antics as it was nice to see Haruka and Marissa getting along. Ian just... Ian'd. "Deal!" Haruka finally said, shaking Marissa's hand to bind the bind the young socialite to her word. Marissa looked down at Haruka and narrowed her eyes. "Starting now." Cade chuckled softly, She'd made a friend for life in the form of his little sister, and despite her attire, even his mother was warming to Marissa, if only because of how she acted with her children. His father sighed, and surrendered to the fact that Marissa wasn't going anywhere any time soon. Ian took the meat from the grill, and brought it over to the table, setting it out. "Alright everyone, dig in." Plates were quickly filled and the somewhat late lunch began. The food was well-cooked, and while no delicacy, clearly the sheriff knew how to cook barbecue rather well. Cade smiled as he thought about how things had gone so far, but the idea of having to say goodbye, even if it was only "Just in case" was still somewhat daunting, almost as much as making peace with his dad. Miyakko smiled. "I take it the two of you will be going to the fair tonight as well? We'll be there too, Though Ian has to work." She smiled. "Meeting up with your friends, or just a date for the two of you?" Cade almost choked, surprised at the directness from his mom, but he smiled. "Well yeah, we're gonna go, and I'm sure we'll be meeting the others there at some point. The fair's about the only big thing going on in town, after all." It was no surprise that Ian was working. Large events like the one that night required security and for the members of local law enforcement to represent their community by being ever-present in the even of a problem. "Well, I do have familial obligations. My parents have, for once, both decided to be seen in public together and want my brother and I both there to support and represent out family. Since DeeJay and I have started branching out our circle of associates, our parents were hoping to meet some of them and their families. Which, I might add, is totally weird, but my dad is on some 'being a family' kick again so we have to humor him for a month or so." "Not close are you?" Miyakko asked. Marissa shrugged. "My brother and I are. We've never really fit in here in Shelly-" "Might have something to do with how you and your brother tormented every student of every grade since you arrived," the Sheriff slipped in with that smooth point-of-fact whose tone carried no attitude, simply honesty. "Tends to put a damper on one's being welcomed into a community they're a stranger too." Cade looked across the table to Marissa. He knew that face and she was on the verge of some scathing retort that could quite possibly get her arrested. He braced, clinched and tried not to take a bite of any food right away, to prevent possibly choking. "You're absolutely right, Sheriff." Was not the reply her bae was expecting, nor was the Sheriff who offered her an inquisitive look that was laced with years of analytical scrutiny. He knew Marissa never just rolled over bared her throat, not after he'd heard her go off on Jason a few days prior. "Yet here I am, trying to be better, and still not welcomed. One can't expect people to change if one never gives them a chance to." Ian narrowed his eyes at her and it felt the like the camera of life was zooming in on his exquisitely chiseled features. Cade hid his smile under a bite of his burger and looked over at his lover. It wasn't often someone put one over on his dad, but considering the proximity with which everyone was working now under Branch Nine and Aeon, certain standards of propriety were laxed and Marissa was not about to be embarrassed at this function simply because the Sheriff had a bone of contention with the Jauntsen twins. It wasn't that he didn't have cause for such contention, but Marissa would be the fisrt to say, plain and simply, 'there is a time and a place'. "I'm not familiar with your reputation, Marissa," Cade's step-mother added, trying to get the conversation away from Ian saying or doing something that might embarrass them both. "Are you and your brother, ill-behaved? Because while I value my step-son's happiness, I also value him making sound decisions." "Mom," Cade shhok his head, burying it in his hand. "Jesus. Can we not sit here and give her the third degree?" "No," Marissa smiled and set her tea back on the table after having finished with it. "It's fine. My brother and I were horrible people, Mrs. Allister. Then, life just sort of dropped something into my lap and I realized that I needed to start growing up-" "Oh, my god, you're pregnant." Miyakko covered her mouth and swiftly looked to Cade, Ian stopped drinking his tea, just holding it to his mouth as his eyes darted angrily to his son. "What?! No! Oh, god..." Marissa buried her face in her hands. "Mom! No! I swear!" Cade attempted to protest over the unintelligible of English and Japanese. "She's not-" Marissa stopped talking, placed her elbows on the table, and buried her face tightly in her hands. At least Cade's parents were about par for the Shelly Montana course... Just kill me. I know gods exist.... one of you, any one... I don't care... just end it. She prayed to whomever would listen while Cade diffused the situation with his family. All the questions were grating on Cade's nerves, at least Marissa'd successfully and effortlessly shut down his dad. Still that last statement from his mother caught him completely by surprise. As he watched his Dad's surprised look war with the smug gleam in his eyes, and his sister just look back and forth between Cade and Marissa, even as Marissa put her head in her hands. Clearly the threshold had been reached. Cade steeled himself. "Mom, Marissa's not pregnant relax, Please. That's not at all what she's talking about." He pressed on after a moment"Look, pretty much everyone at school knew it was best to stay on Marissa and Devin's good side, or at the least, off their radar. You didn't want to be on their bad side, because they could definitely make your life at school miserable." He reached over, and put and hand over Marissa's. "Something happened to all of us, and it has made all of us take a look at how we were living, and decided that things need to change." He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Like seemingly everyone, I had my issues with Devin, but it all seems to be not worth bickering over now. Nothing's perfect, but we're making progress, at least some of us. We don't all get along like some well-oiled team, a fair amount of us are still getting over years of dislike or torment, but we're making the effort, because if we don't, it's all over." Miyakko seemed to have calmed down some. She bowed her head to Marissa, who'd looked up when Cade spoke in what sounded like nonsense. "I'm sorry for that, my mind just went there, and I apologize for such a forward and inappropriate comment." Miyakko turned her gaze to Cade. "What do you mean it's all over, Cade?" Ian perked up, and gave Cade his most intimidating glare. Defiance was clear in Cade's eyes, it looked like this was going to be a major brew-up between the two. "My friends and I have special powers. Some more than others, but we ALL have them. There's government and corporate entities trying to control and create those with powers. There's an entity that's between this dimension and another that's out to devour all of those with these powers, and we've been working and training to fight back against it, and those who'd try to control us." In the silence that followed you could hear a pin drop. Ian's face went momentarily slack with astonishment, Miyako likewise stared at Cade like he'd sprouted a second head that was babbling Turkish, and Haruka... was the first to break the silence as she snorted with laughter then started giggling, her hand over her mouth. The merriment broke the spell, Cade's step-mom's expression going from surprise to narrow-eyed disapproval even as the Sheriff glared at him with as close to a stone-face as he could manage. "Cade. Is this some sort of prank you and your friends are playing? Perhaps from one of those games Sean hosts?" Miyako asked, a trifle waspishly. "Because it is not funny." "It's no prank Mom. It isn't meant to be funny. You might think I'm crazy, or whatever, but it's completely true." Cade said with a certain surety in his voice. He was definitely going to regret this, but it was done now. He seemed somewhat resigned to this and looked to Marissa with an almost apologetic look, at least they weren't assuming she was pregnant now. Wrenching her hand from her bae Marissa glared at Cade, her lips pursed and tightened in a less than mirthful expression. She shook her head calmly and massaged the bridge of her nose. "Oh, my god... how?" She looked at him. "How did manage to make a pregnancy scare worse?" She swiftly glared to his mother, swiftly adding: "Which I'm not by the way." Then he just kept rolling with it and she shook her head as her lips tightened more and more until finally... "What the hell, Cade!?" Marissa stood from the table but didn't leave. She paced about close by. "That's not your secret to tell. You want to shower them with the 'truth', fine, but you had no right to drag everyone else out into the open. I..." she ugh'd to the sky and glared at him. "I can't even with you right now." "Wait." Miyako looked from her son to Marissa, suspicion and confusion on her porcelain features. Haruka, sensing the mood, stopped giggling and shifted in her seat, glancing sideways from her parents to her brother and his glamorous girl. Ian's expression was a masterclass in the Thousand Yard Stare - currently fixed on a point somewhere beyond Cade's head as Miyako looked from the teens to her husband for moral support. "Ian? Are they both in on this? It is a joke, right?" "Yeah. A bad joke." Ian glowered at Cade and Marissa. "Alright, kids. You've had your fun, stop with the playacting, okay? It's bothering your mom, Cade." Cade nodded. "It's over. The last thing I want to do is bother Mom. Forget I said anything." Clearly this wasn't the time, and all he'd accomplish is drive his family apart. It wasn't the time or place, and he lacked the energy to continue with this now. He knew he'd answer for it later, but the last thing he'd wanted was to upset his mother. He pushed back from the table, looking ashamed, for a host of reasons. "I," she composed herself, letting the rage bubbling inside her and the litany curses that it brought with it subside. "I should go. Thank you for inviting me Mr. and Mrs Allister, it was... interesting." The glare she was shooting at her bae, the dead man walking that she knew, should have come equipped with their own speed lines and separate ten issue side plot. "Hopefully we'll all see each other later, my parents are thrilled for the opportunity to meet my fr- acquaintances. Thank you again, for the invite. Cade, if you would be so kind as to see me out..." the tone that carried told him he might be a dead man. Cade had never looked more defeated before. He rose from the table, and nodded to his parents, before turning to walk Marissa out in a dejected silence. He'd fucked up, and he knew it. Feeling like a failure wasn't something Cade enjoyed. He'd pretty much ruined everything he'd hoped to accomplish, and gained nothing by doing so. It was a life lesson, to be sure. He failed his friends, he failed his family, and he failed Marissa. He even felt he failed himself regarding the whole thing. In the end, his Dad had to bail him out, and he KNEW there'd be a reckoning over that later, another lecture at the very least. Once they got outside the house, he did at least manage to look Marissa in the eye, Even with all the palpable fury radiating from her. "I'm glad you came, and I'm sorry for my part in ruining everything." He was sincere in everything he said, and that tone of shame was still there. An apology wasn't going to fix things, that much he knew. He wasn't sure he could at this point. He'd made the invite never expecting this sort of thing to happen. The two lovers stopped not far from her car, when she suddenly spun about and stopped her bae. "Okay, you know what? This whole..." she waved a hand around him to signify his currently mopey mood. "Thing you have going on here, this shameful, defeated, woe-is-fucking-me mood needs to stop." "You're 'sorry for your part'? Cade, you wrote, starred in, directed and produced that whole mess back there." She chuckled but it didn't seem genuine. "I get your mom and dad being spooked that their teenage son and his crush might have made a poor life choice and thought dropping the 'we're having a kid' bomb at a barbecue might lighten the blow back, but... what the actual hell? You try to escape that conversation by outing all of us and our powers... that was your big deflection? Throwing all of us under the bus so you could have your moment? If you want to tell your mom, fine. Tell her. About you. My powers and my brother's powers, which you were kind enough to call us out by name, thanks for that, are our business." She almost seemed like she was going to cry. She was angry, he could tell. Actually, livid would have been a better choice. She paced for a few moments, not looking at him with her palm pressed on her forehead in thought while her other rested on the curve of her hip. "Is this it, Cade? Is this what I have to look forward to? If things were to get serious between us, is this the man I have to look forward to having in my corner to protect me, encourage me, warm me on cold nights and shelter me when my world is crumbling? Sad eyed, mopey Cade who can't stand up to anyone and buckles at the first sign of anger or displeasure from his peers?" The dark haired girl shook her head, obviously keeping the more hurtful things she wanted to say to herself. "You're supposed to be keeping me safe from Jason, in case he goes all loopy again like he did on Liam and now all I see is that you're probably scared to death of him. Did you ever confront him about how he treated Cora? He fucking thrashed her and you said he and him were going to have a chat... did you? I know the answer is 'no'. Is that my fate? Jason or some guy says something to me or touches me and here's big bad Spartan Cade... head down in his knees afterwards like 'sorry, I would have done something but...'." She calmed her breathing and looked at him. "What're you afraid of? Huh? So you screwed up... own that shit, head held high and move on." "Baby," she rest her hand gently across his chest. "I don't send pics of me in my underwear or make out in my bikini or have sex," she smiled looking away as a slight flush rose to her cheeks. "With just anyone and everyone. You are it, Cadums. You, and just you. I know everyone thinks I'm gorgeous, but I only want to be gorgeous for you, because you're the guy I kinda like. The blue I'm wearing isn't for all of Shelly, babe, it's for you, but... I can't be with a guy who is... well, whatever this is." She gestured to him again. "Think about the man you are now. Look to the man you need to become. Pack a bag and start making the journey, baby, because we're not having this talk a second time." She raised up, not too far since her wedge heels almost made her a giant herself. "Now, wrap arms around me, squeeze me and kiss me like you already miss me, and I'll see you later, okay?" If she was still mad, which he knew she was, it all seemed to go away as her lips gently pressed to his before evolving into a passionate expression of desire, attraction and want for one another. As they broke their embrace, she patted his chest. "Now," she wiped her lipstick from the corner of his mouth as she smiled at him. "Go face the music. Tell your sister, yes, we can still hang out, because I know she'll ask. Same rules apply. Thank your family for me, and... think about what I said." "You're right Marissa, and thanks again." he answered with a smile. She could have crushed what was left of him, and yet she built him back up, in her own way. Cade smiled at the hope Marissa'd given him. She was understandably mad, and right about everything else. He wasn't like this, he didn't want to be like this. Still, as he watched her drive off, he knew going back inside was the first step. He made his way back inside, passing by the kitchen. His mother was there, cleaning up, and Haruka and Ian weren't. He overheard his mother muttering softly, mostly her surprise that her stepson would have a chunibyo phase so late. Cade cringed at that, Chunis were so damn cringe-worthy, but if that was the worst she thought of it, well, he could live with it for now. He headed for his room and closed the door behind him. His bags from yesterday were in the jeep already. He'd need to talk to each of them, and he had a feeling on who was going to be first. As could be expected, his dad didn't bother knocking. But nor did he kick the door open and slam it shut behind him with force. Instead, and somewhat more ominously, Ian Allister quietly opened the door to his son's room, quietly entered, and quietly shut it once more before turning to look at Cade. The sheriff's grey eyes were darkly clouded, though his expression was stonily calm as he regarded his son for a long moment, then spoke. "And what. The hell. Was that?" Cade winced inwardly. This was the 'dressing-down a dumbass recruit' voice, used only when said luckless recruit had done something so abysmally stupid that shouting was redundant, like pulling the pin from grenade and then tossing the pin, or violating range safety. Cade had heard his dad use it once, and only once, on a deputy who had shortly after been fired. "Well?" "That was me failing to read things right, and making a big mistake. And you helping me get past it with the least disruption of everyones' lives." Cade answered his dad, no defiance in his tone. "Thanks for that. I messed up and you had to clean up after me. " "Believe it or not, I'd meant for all of that to serve as a preface how important you all are to me, that i didn't want to keep living with a secret like that, at least not from the people who matter most to me. It didn't go that way. So now Mom thinks I'm some sort of Chuni, Marissa is mad at me, and I know you are. The others will be too when they find out, and I'll have to square this with everyone. It's going to be a long hard road ahead." Ian Allister sighed, moving to sit wearily on the chair at Cade's desk. "Christ on a bike, Cade. I am mad, yeah, but I'm also glad your mom is confused rather than troubled about something she can't do anything about. And Haruka, too." The big man ran a hand over his face. "I mean, look at me. I'm as objectively helpless as they are, compared to this Dark, and monsters, and shadowy conspiracies, and you and your friends. And I've seen action. I've had training. I'm a goddamned United States Marine, with access to a sheriff department armory, and I'm next-to helpless." He fixed Cade with a serious look. "It takes all I've got to keep it together, son." "Imagine if your mom knew what I know. Consider I probably don't know half the shit you kids know, and that alone is enough to keep me up at night. Your mom is a smart, tough woman-" and for an instant Cade saw that, whilst he may or may not be having an affair, his dad did care for Miyako. "-but this shit you guys have on your plates? She'd likely lose her mind if she believed in it. And who could blame her?" He sighed again, leaning back in the desk chair. "Being open and truthful is a good thing, kid. It really, really is. But there's times and places, and while your mom might deserve on some level to know, you're not doing her a favor by telling her." "And certainly not Haruka, Cade. She's eleven goddamn years old, and you're going to tell her that monsters and superpowers exist? Because for her, it'd be a TV show or comic book come to life, and she'd tell the whole world. Sure, maybe they'd laugh at her, but then she'd do stupid shit to try and prove it." "You're absolutely right Dad. I didn't think it all through like I should have. Haruka's gonna tease me pretty badly about all this probably for months. Mom being confused is the best outcome, and I mean it when I say I didn't want it to go this way. " He sighed and then sat on his bed. "When Devin gave us all abit of a reality check, I made me think about all this, though perhaps not the right way. I don't have actual powers like the rest of them. I have to depend on the skills you and my grandpas taught me. What I do is very mundane, but I can't just stop. I have to keep moving forward too. I didn't want to have any regrets, if..." He shook his head. "If something does happen, and I don't come back. I hadn't really worried about it so much before, we've pretty much been able to handle everything that came at us, but going forward that may not be the case." "I'm sorry, for what happened the other night. I jumped to a conclusion, I didn't wait to actually talk to you. I was mad because you'd made mom worry, that she was crying, so I just reacted impulsively. Here I've gone and done about the same thing, and in front of Haruka and Marissa too. I know you don't actually owe me an explanation, but I would like to know what's going on. It's fine if you don't want to tell me. I meant what I said about not having regrets, and I haven't been fair to you. For that and everything else, I apologize, Dad." Ian Allister nodded. "I'm still mighty pissed at you, but mostly due to a near miss than because of actual harm you've done. It was dumb with good intentions, which is better than being smart with bad ones, I guess. Still, watch out for your mom and Haruka. They might not believe it, but now that you've let the truth out of the bag they'll be less likely to ignore signs that something is up." The big retired Marine stood up, shaking his head. "As for your friends... yeah, if Marissa tells them they'll be plenty mad at you. Did she break off the boyfriend/girlfriend thing?" he asked with a hint of hope. "No she didn't. Though this was definitely my warning to not screw up like this again. She's mad at me, understandably, I'm mad at myself too." He seemed relieved by the fact she hadn't ended their "relationship", and he could tell his dad wasn't happy about who he was dating. "Hmmph." His dad's frown spoke volumes, but he didn't say anything more on the subject of Marissa. "Fair enough. Just..." he paused. "Be careful. You say you don't have powers like the others, but you have this Shine they were talking about. That means something - it means you can't afford to be a kid now. There's going to be things you face that your parents can't protect you from, and you've no idea how shitty I feel saying that." He sighed. "What I can do is be a shoulder and an ear. If you need someone to talk to man to man, I'm here." He smiled sadly, then turned towards the door. "First bit of advice: Don't talk any more with your mom and Haruka today about your slip. Let it fade, wait for them to bring it up if they do. Don't poke the sore tooth. And be careful." Cade nodded. "Thanks, Dad. I'll take that advice." He met his dad's gaze, and smiled. "Thanks for understanding, that I have to do this, and letting me do what i have to. I know you don't want to, but you've seen it, it has to be us." "Doesn't mean I like it." His dad half-smiled back. "I'll be collecting your mom and sister and taking them to the fairground in a bit. You, on the other hand, better pick up those condoms from the floor by your nightstand before your mother sees them." He pointed at the half-unrolled string of silver packets that had fallen unheeded during the shenanigans yesterday morning. As Cade opened his mouth, he shook his head. "Grown-ups rules, son. Don't ask, don't tell. And at least you're being safe in that way." He left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. Cade let out a sigh after his dad left, and quickly went to put the condoms in his nightstand where they should have been put before now. His dad definitely knew now, though, and it wasn't so much that he was ashamed, just glad his mom hadn't seen them just laying there. He made sure his room was spotless before he left it. Once he was done cleaning up, he head downstairs, it was time to go to the fair, though he didn't really expect it to be as much fun as he had when the day began.
  28. Shelly, Montana. Monday 2nd September. Labor Day. It was the end of summer. Not the end of the actual, physical season of summer. That, officially, wouldn't be until the twenty-third of the month, three weeks from today. Rather, it was the end of the summer as a concept in the minds of the populace. After today, wearing white was a faux pas. After today, Halloween decorations would start being sold, and pumpkin spice lattes too - even if the latter might be iced ones because the weather was still warm. Everyone would be back to work, back to school, bidding farewell to the spirit of summer and moving into fall. But that would be after today. Most towns and cities in America have their Labor Day customs. In fact, the smaller the town the more likely such customs were to exist and be more universally approved of. In Shelly, the custom was to gather at the Carousel, a restored merry-go-round that in the winter months was moved inside a large, low, hangar-like building known as the Carousel Rest Stop. In the summer, it was brought out once more to be the focal point for local and state fairs and celebrations, sitting in a large field surrounded by tents and stalls as music blared from nearby stages and people came from all over Toole County and even further to join the fun. But on Labor Day, there were relatively few from outside Toole County present. The celebration was more local, more intimate. A friends and family affair. Sure, there might be some out-of-towners from other parts of the state, visiting with relatives. Or families of servicemen and women posted at the nearby base, considered to be honorary Shellyites by most if not all of the locals. The setup was modest and simple - there were some entertainments: live music, some stalls and food vendors, and of course the Carousel itself, a glinting and sparkling and painted remnant of an earlier age - but by and large people would arrive with hampers and coolers, set up tables and grills, and barbecue and picnic with one another, wandering around and visiting their neighbours, sharing food and recipes and camaraderie as the smaller children, perhaps sensing the end of the spirit of summer, ran and shouted excitedly. The teens, too, had their own customs on such days. Though the specter of school on the morrow made parental oversight a little too tight to throw real parties, it was common enough for them, as the afternoon wore on into evening, to slip away from the main picnic areas into the clumps of trees ringing the field and smoke, drink and make merry away from the eyes of parents or snitching younger siblings. That, however, would be later. Right now it was just short of noon, and already the field was bustling with activity, people arriving with their families as the Carousel whirled and blared and the stall-holders chattered and laughed. It was a warm, balmy day, the sunlight soothing away the chill of the morning and casting few shadows. Shelly was gearing up to give summer a fine, cheery sendoff.
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