Mid fade haircut

“Dude I forgot to get a haircut! Can you give me a quick fade?”

2018.06.27 18:25 naytttt “Dude I forgot to get a haircut! Can you give me a quick fade?”

Is it Monday morning 0400 before PT with SSgt? Did LCpl Schmuckatelli give you a disgusting excuse for a haircut? The picture of your hair belongs here with the other fucked up barracks haircuts.
[link]


2010.08.18 23:14 dareao malehairadvice

Male hair advice
[link]


2023.05.30 22:33 KyleKKent Out of Cruel Space, Part 698

First
Capes and Conundrums
Santiago raises an eyebrow as he finds Albin whaling on holographic opponents. The safeties in the room ensured that even though the kid wasn’t doing that well, he was still not getting hurt. He has one real piece of advice. “Follow through.”
“What?” Albin asks. He had sent he room to send out endless waves off literally faceless opponents at him so he could feel like something other than weak. But he... he’s not very good. He may have gave off a good fight when he could rely almost entirely on his Yauya Cloaking abilities. But he’s not even trying to fade out of sight now and is just flailing around.
“If you want your opponent to feel it then don’t swing like you just want to hit them, swing like you want to crash through it. Don’t aim to hit the opponent. Aim to cave them in.” Santiago says and Albin tries before shaking his hand.
“It’s not doing much better.”
“That’s because you’re just using your arm. Turn in with the punch, put your whole body behind it and it’ll be felt.” Santiago says throwing a punch as an example.
The next shot rocks back the faceless opponent and sends it staggering rather than just having the head snap back and return like a mocking speedbag.
“See? Follow through and full body. Thankfully you’ve already got a good idea how to make a proper fist. Thumb on the outside.” Santiago says punching one of the targets so hard it crashed into another three hard enough to take them all out. “So, wanna talk?”
“Every time I talk with someone about my problems the more of a problem it becomes!” Albin replies as he slams a hard fist into the gut of another opponent and it starts to fade away. There are only about two more opponents left in this wave and Santiago’s smash to the top of one’s head has enough force to crush a man’s spine, let alone the somewhat weaker hologram.
Meanwhile Albin has grabbed the last hologram by the shoulders and was slamming his knee into it’s crotch over and over again. He pants and stands up before pulling Axiom into himself to rejuvenate. Santiago doesn’t try to engage in conversation again. According to Doctor Malaise, who has a connection to his earpiece, the kid needs to reach out first and is more likely to do so to a positive male role model. Something he fits in as as a strong independent man who also has strong family values and frankly nothing but positive interactions with the young man.
Three waves pass with Albin getting faster and stronger with each push as he figures out more from fighting with Santiago there to provide an example. He goes from flailing to respectable crosses and hooks with the occasional jab mixed in as well. A bit of example from Santiago and he starts taking up a boxing stance and things just start falling into place.
At the end of the fourth wave Santiago sees his exhaustion and pauses the simulation to allow Albin a break. The boy collapses to the ground panting and trying to regulate his body temperature a bit better. A bit of a task considering his lack of sweat glands.
“Feel a bit better.” Santiago asks.
“Feel like I’m boiling myself alive.” Albin says as his tongue lolls out a bit.
“In a god way or a bad way?”
“How can it feel good to be boiled alive!?” Albin demands.
“Bad way then. Got it.” Santiago says. “Just take it easy and let the heat die down then.”
“Already happening.” Albin says as he sighs in relief. The Axiom flow around him is mildly interesting, but of no real concern. The older an Axiom born person is the faster these automatic Axiom adjustments happen. A sort of instinctual experience and efficiency.
“Nice, very nice.” Santiago says as he helps Albin up who’s sniffing the air.
“What... are you stinking?”
“No, I’ve been throwing my punches far harder than I need to. So it’s a slight workout for me. A bit better than shadowboxing to be honest.”
“Shadowboxing?” Albin asks and Santiago steps back to give him an example.
“You work on your speed and form like this! You use a bag to push your force and toughen up your hands too!” Santiago explains and Albin chuckles.
“That’s a bit different from how Bane fights.” He teases and Santiago pauses mid box before chuckling.
“True enough, there are many unarmed fighting styles. Bane is a poor example of one, relying more on brute strength and endurance than skill. But he’s a Luchadore. A grappler. I’ve been trained in the Lucha style and I prefer it. So I’m the default option for playing a bad Lucha and...” Santiago explains before finishing off by blowing a raspberry in annoyance and Albin chuckles at that.
“Don’t like doing a bad job?”
“I defy you to find me one man, no, one person that likes doing a bad job of things!”
“Plenty of people do things halfway!” Albin dismisses.
“Yes, but they’re succeeding in that they want to avoid work and be lazy. Name one person who wants to work and is satisfied doing it badly.” Santiago rephrases his challenge.
“My parents did a bad job with me and...”
“They’re absolutely miserable about it and hate themselves for it.” Santiago interrupts that train of thought even before Doctor Malaise can tell him to. He doesn’t care if he’s lying or not. He hates that very mindset.
“What?” Albin asks.
“Keep going, you’re right, please keep going.” Malaise tells him through his earpiece.
“Do you think your parents like that they’ve hurt you? They may have made mistakes, but they never wanted you hurt.” Santiago says before shrugging. “They coddled and smothered you. Not good. But they never laid an angry hand on you and... have they ever even shouted at you?”
“No, not really...”
“Then it could have been worse.”
“But... I mean...”
“Look, I’m not either of your parents. But you’re going to be caught up in endless what could have beens or what ifs if you don’t speak with them. I understand the hesitation. But well... I am personally an Undaunted. I see something hard to do as something that’s worth doing all the more.”
“Because it’s hard?”
“Because by doing hard things, you become a stronger person. You become better, not because you do something easy, but because you do something hard. It’s easy to sleep, to eat, to not care. But it’s hard to work, to push past your hunger and harder still to care. But no one celebrates the best napper. The biggest eater... maybe, but the most uncaring person? What do they have?”
“Well I assume big eaters have big bodyparts.” Albin says with a bit of a grin. He clearly understands what Santiago is saying but is arguing for the sake of it.
“And if they keep small and thin? Are they just a big eater then?”
“Alright alright fine! I get it! I get it...” Albin says before trailing off. After a few moments he gives Santiago a sideways look. “So... how much of that was Doctor Malaise’s coaching.”
“The extent of it has been keep going, keep going. Please keep going.” Santiago says as he plucks out the ear piece and pockets it. “There, see? It’s gone.”
“Alright. I just... I know I hired her but at the same time it! I mean... Argh!” Albin exclaims miming strangling something as he utterly fails to find the words and just groans in disgust, annoyance and frustration.
“I know.”
“How?”
“I was a teenager once too you know! You’re feeling everything! The world is shifting around you! You’re finally aware enough to see the things you never saw before or always ignored but you don’t have the experience or knowledge to deal with them! You feel like you can take on an army! But the stupid randomness of life is tripping you up every step of the way! You’re unstoppable! But you’re helpless! You’re immortal! But you can’t DO anything! I know! I really, really know.”
“You do?”
“Yes! I thought I was going right to the top of the heap in Lucha when I was in highschool! I got to the semi-finals on a technicality and was tossed around like a joke! I thought nothing could stop me! Then The Gecko treated me like a complete chump!”
“You were?”
“I was! But do you want to know what I did?”
“What?”
“I spoke with The Gecko afterwards. I talked to him, I learned how he beat me. I learned what my weaknesses were. I learned and then I practised anew. I grew to become better. The problem you’re having with your family... it can be somewhat the same. Right now, there’s been a defeat. Metaphorically, both you and your family have lost the fight. So if you’re to learn from this and grow to be even better fighters, you need to talk to learn about your weaknesses, which you have indeed started to do, and then you need to train to be better. To be stronger.”
“... It’s completely insane that that actually made sense.” Albin says after a bit and Santiago laughs.
“True enough! But sometimes the most mangled metaphors are the most effective!” He says. “Now! Want to face a wave or two with nothing but grappling? Learn to control your opponent and you can control a fight.”
“I’d like that. I think I would. It feels good to break things.”
“It’s called Catharsis. You’re venting all your grief and rage and frustration when you’re hurting things. The mind lives in the body, so a lot of problems can be strangely solved by just going out and doing something.” Santiago says before shrugging. “It’s just one of the odd things of life.”
“Yeah, that’s weird.” Albin concedes.
•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•
Doctor Malaise resists the urge to sigh. After Santiago had pulled off a minor miracle in further calming and getting Albin more agreeable she had arranged a meeting between Albin and his parents Thalison and Azisa. Which in brooding teenage fashion had quickly shut down as Albin decided to sulk anew and glare over his shoulder as he turned mostly away.
She ensures that the urge to try and shake the silly boy is well and truly suppressed before she opens her mouth. “Now, this meeting has been agreed to as the unfortunate death of Beaky has revealed quite a few issues and miscommunications in this family that need to be if not sorted out, then at least discussed. Albin, would you like to speak first?”
“Oh? Am I allowed to talk? Am I not too frail for that!?” Albin demands.
“We just wanted to...” Thalison begins but Azisa speaks over him.
“Son you don’t understand...” She begins to say before a piercing whistle from Doctor Malaise grabs everyone’s attention. She then slightly coughs to both clear her throat and establish an appropriate level of sound for the conversation.
“Let’s not start with casting blame or insults. That only leads to such things being returned or defensive attitudes. Instead perhaps you two could explain to Albin why you thought it was a good idea to hide the fact he had Gurana’s Syndrome from him.”
“If I may?” Thalison asks. There’s no answer. “It’s from my family line so it’s best if I answer.”
“By all means. Please.” Doctor Malaise says and she notes happily to herself that Albin has turned a little more towards his parents instead of away.
“It was by my recommendation that we don’t tell you about your Gurana’s Syndrome or treat it as odd, because to me? To my family? It is normal. Once a generation, someone has it. Every twenty years there is Gurana’s Syndrome in the family. Sometimes it’s as little as a ten year gap. And sometimes, though never more than once every hundred or so years, we have two at once.” Thalison explains. “And normally, what we’ve done with you Albin, works perfectly! My cousin Garona had it in my generation. She’s a master bladesmith now and makes a very comfortable living producing custom weapons for hunters and warriors of all stripes. Before her, it was your grandfather. The man is a historian. Before him it was a great great aunt! She’s an expert huntress specializing in traps and animal calls to do all the work for her.”
“Then what went wrong with me?” Albin demands fully facing his father and while not hiding away, he is confrontational about it.
“Pure bad luck. That’s all. What I did for you, worked for my cousin. Worked for my father, your grandfather. Worked for my Great Aunt, your Great Great Aunt. You are the first in many generations to actually have a negative side effect of Gurana’s Syndrome. I wanted this to go so very differently. I figured you’d go hunting with your sisters in a huff, then after that you and me would drag them to the fertile plains over this world and you’d have a wonderful time playing with Beaky and getting your sisters to as well. But it all fell apart.” Thalison explains before taking a deep breath and swallowing a bit to rewet his throat.
“Where did it go wrong? I don’t know! Was it your sisters pushing too hard or being too inattentive? Was it Beaky choosing to be difficult at the exact wrong moment? My choice of destination? You choosing the exact wrong time to dig in your heels? I don’t know! Maybe all of them, maybe none of them! But it was not deliberate. I don’t want to hurt you, I never wanted to hurt you. If I can get nothing else across to you today, then understand this, I’m on your side. I want the best for you. I’m your father and I love you. I want you to have a wonderful life and I’m sorry about what happened to Beaky. I really am. I know he meant a lot to you.”
Albin tries to answer but nothing comes out. He tries again and there’s a slight hitch in his breathing. But still no words. He pushes and tries to force it and he breaks out in a few sobs. Thalison is beside him and pulling him into a hug that Albin does nothing to get away from even as he starts breaking down. Before he can even start to weep Azisa is there and embracing them both.
Doctor Malaise smiles at this. It’s a start.

First Last
submitted by KyleKKent to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 19:47 KatyRiverRoad Living In The Future

There’s a sick and twisted irony to being the person your friends turn to for advice but being unable to follow it yourself. I’m the “sage” in their mid-20s with their life in tatters yet my friends and family continue to call me to ask what I think they should do. Professionally, personally, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy helping people, it’s probably what I was put on this earth to do. My own shrink thinks I should pivot careers, go back to school, and become a counselor myself. I’m generally adept at reading people and their emotions, but when my own emotions are involved, it becomes complicated. The ghosts that haunt me keep me stuck in neutral, with life slowly passing me by and personal and professional opportunities fading away. I have always believed in the idea that everything happens for a reason. Whenever I’ve been at my lowest, things have always seemed to work out for the best. I try to do good things and good things have generally happened. A big break for my career, meeting the right people at the right time, old friends thinking of me and trying to help, etc. All of this makes the current state of things so hard to understand.
I’m finally in a place where I feel ready to get back on track for the career I’ve spent so long working towards, but unlike a year ago when I initially took my sabbatical, the appealing job opportunities are few and far between. Most of my friends are out of work at the moment too, which at least brings some solace because misery loves company. A year ago, I chose you and my personal life over my career, I would have always wondered what-if if I had left my life behind. Even though it didn’t work out the way I thought it would, I don’t regret the choice in a vacuum. I was scared of becoming obsessed with my career, addicted to my work while missing the forest for the trees of what is really important in life. I feel pressure from those I look up to, who think the world of me, to get back on track. I feel like if I do choose to get back on track, I will likely be forfeiting the future I have always truly desired, one with a happy family. If I don’t try again and instead pivot to something more relaxed, I may find some fulfillment and peace but I will always wonder about what could have been and the heights I may have reached if I had stuck with my career. At least I know that now that I’ve made the choice of loved ones over my career once, I know that I can make it again down the road, because I will have to choose again someday.
I think if things don’t shake out the way I hope in the next few months, I will probably just move back to a new big city and figure out a new path. I don’t care where I end up, though I do have some ideas in mind at the moment. I’ll be fine, don’t worry too much about me regardless. I’m lucky to be one of those people that tends to be pretty good at whatever I try. I just wonder whether I’ve learned the wrong lessons from everything that has happened. I’m an inherently optimistic and idealistic person, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t become somewhat jaded, skeptical and cynical after everything that has happened over the last couple years. I don’t really trust people as much anymore. I hope you know it’s not fully your fault, there are quite a few people that have contributed to this change in my outlook, especially with regards to my career. My world is changing, being a good person in my field isn’t rewarded anymore. In fact, it will probably lead to getting replaced eventually by someone whose morals are much more grey than my own. But there is something to be said about trying to keep fighting the good fight, and if I do stick with it, that’s the way I will continue to approach it until I am chewed up and spit back out again.
I have no real idea about what’s going on with your own life nowadays. I can read between the lines enough to have an idea of what your immediate future holds. As a friend, I hope you learn something from what has happened to me. Chase your dreams, don’t settle for a relationship that makes you miserable (though you didn’t make me miserable when we were close). You have the world at your fingertips, you can be whatever you want. Even if it means being alone and working on yourself for a while as you chase your dreams. The world is so big, you deserve a chance to explore it without worrying about other people holding you down. Whatever happens to me, I hope you know that I don’t hold the choices I’ve made against you, though I still am working on forgiving you for the way you have handled everything. Eventually, I think I’ll be happy and find peace. Someone will teach me to trust people again. I just wonder how long it will be before it happens.
submitted by KatyRiverRoad to UnsentLetters [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 19:27 BadApprehensive5559 Translation of a French/English interview between Rise (BDS player) and LifeIsCool (French caster) talking about BDS, Moist, Oxygen, EU/NA offers, Spring Open, other regions, etc.

Surprising interview because Rise came to the stream of LIC to talk in Frenglish about the Spring Split and its debuts with the French team.
𝝙 Rise came just after the Spring Open and before the Spring Cup.
This translation is long and separated into 5 parts:
- Part 1: Reasons for leaving Oxygen (Leaving Moist, NA/EU offers, problems with Oxygen)
- Part 2: Rise to BDS (Tryouts, Integration, Extra, Coaching staff, Rise’s role, Coms, Bootcamps)
- Part 3: Gamers 8 and Spring Open (GWB, Expectations, Spring Open, Pressure)
- Part 4: NA, EU, minor regions (EU level > NA level, NA Spring Open chokes, SSG, NA/EU top 5, SAM, Furia, MENA, OCE)
- Part 5: Other information (Banter on RL, last message for French viewers).
Link to the interview: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1824772972 (starts near: 38.30)
I would advise you to read Part 1 to understand why he chose to leave Oxygen for BDS + Part 4 to have his opinion about other regions.
This translation was possible thanks to u/Kigotsujin that helped me to transcript this interview.
→ Part 1: Reasons for leaving Oxygen (41:20)
- Choice of leaving Moist (48.35): After the Fall Split Joyo and Rise wanted to replace AztraL to improve their synergy. He’s a good player, but he struggles mentally due to how he started his career. It was not AztraL’s fault, but they had other plans. Even if the initial plan was to stay with Joyo, all EU top players were already in a team. They could have picked 3rd players like Rezears, but gambling on a young player was too risky. That’s why he had to choose between staying in a "bad" environment or moving. And in the end, Rise chose to leave.
- Offers from NA/EU teams (49.40): Rise received so many offers from NA teams including V1, Furia, and SSG. Regarding EU teams, Joyo and Rise received an offer for Oxygen. Joyo didn’t want to join them while Rise kept that offer if something goes wrong with NA teams. Indeed, Rise wanted to go to V1, but their deal collapsed at the last minute. As he didn’t try with other teams, Oxygen was his last chance on the last day. He still has a lot of respect for Oxygen players but he never felt comfortable and It was not the right team for Rise. He admitted that this roster move was a mistake but he had one last trade window before Worlds. He doesn’t want to be considered as a player always leaving his teams. He wanted to leave Oxygen for good reasons and will try his best to win Worlds with BDS.
- Lack of desire to win with Oxygen (1.05.20): He was friends with Oxygen and Moist players but Moist knew when they had to take the competition seriously. For example, in London, there were so many things that distracted Moist players from RL. Here, Vatira told them that they had to grind for the Major and stop playing other games. Another example was that Vatira brought his girlfriend so Rise and Joyo asked him to grind RL. Once again, when they were asked, Moist players knew that training for RL was important, and nobody got upset or annoyed. That was the main difference between Oxygen and Moist: Moist knew that they had to refocus to win, while Oxygen was lacking those calls to train again.
- Trusting problems with Oxygen (1.13.40): He always trusted his team and thought that they could beat everyone. However, that’s something that he never felt with Oxygen. For example, when Moist lost against V1 in London, they had to go through a long loser run. After winning against Optic, Rise said that even if they lost early, he knew that they could beat everyone in this loser bracket. However, with Oxygen, he didn’t have the same feeling because even if they would have defeated Vitality, he felt like they would still lose against Team Liquid. So Rise didn’t have the same trust in Oxygen and Moist.
- Reasons for leaving Oxygen (41:27): He thinks that his ambitions were different from the roster. Indeed, they kept having the same issues throughout the Winter split and they didn’t improve. He realized that when he talked to Alpha54 after losing against Vitality during the Major. In fact, Vitality focused on one of Oxygen’s issues and they won. Rise was annoyed because they didn’t work on anything + the coms were pretty bad + they kept playing the same way without improving. Still, he added that it was not his tm8s’ fault, Rise just had another point of view.
- Oxygen’s problem (43.32): The situation was more complicated because they had different ambitions + they kept having the same problems. He even thinks that these issues could have been easily resolved, but the team didn’t want to question themselves because they just wanted to play matches.
- Leaving Oxygen (EU top 3) for BDS (EU top 9)(44:29): It was not that coin flip as people could think because they’re strong players. MonkeyMoon is the best player in the World, and Seikoo was the last season's MVP. In addition, yes they’re strong, but they want to win like Rise more than anything. For example, they always boot camp for regionals. Of course, people asked him: "Why would you leave a team that's going to Worlds ?". And Rise answered that he doesn’t want to qualify for Worlds, he wants to win, and that’s his ambition.
- People’s opinion on Rise joining BDS (48:20): As expected, people said that he was dumb for leaving his team after each split but Rise always had reasons for each roster move.
→ Part 2: Rise to BDS (46:03)
- BDS problem before Rise (1:17:42): After his arrival, he noticed what was the problem with the old roster. Indeed, before the GWB, they were beating everyone in scrims like the "old BDS". He still talks a lot to Vatira, and before each minor, they called together. Vatira told him that before each split, BDS would come back because they were destroying KC in scrims. That’s why Rise and Vatira were confident that BDS would bounce back. But during the actual tournaments, BDS looked scared to play, and that’s what happened again during the GWB. They were winning scrims but didn’t win any 3s matches. The problem was not pressure, in fact, the real problem was that Seikoo and Monkey Moon had too much respect for other teams so they ended up being scared of playing. For Rise, It’s the worst mindset when you’re going into a series because you’ll lose your confidence. You have to think that you’re better than your opponents, and that’s what Rise told them to regain confidence.
- Tryouts with BDS (46:03): He tried out with several teams but he saw potential with BDS. They wanted to constantly play their best, and individually, each player is strong. For him, BDS can qualify for Worlds and perform.
- Integration to BDS (47:07): It’s hard because they’re French and he can’t understand everything as they speak pretty fast. But still, they integrated Rise and didn’t leave him alone so they are doing a good job.
- Replacing Extra (52.01): Extra is a nice guy + a good player. He always comes to BDS boot camps [he’s the BDS assistant coach]. Everyone knows that Extra wasn’t the problem and the team only needed a change. He also added that he’s not better than any BDS player and could have replaced anyone on the roster. Their issue was more that, after winning Worlds, their ambition faded away, so they needed a change to bring a new mentality.
- Differences between Rise and Extra’s play style (54:31): Rise is much more aggressive and creative compared to Extra which has a disciplined play style. In addition, BDS was quite defensive before and they were struggling against some teams. So Rise brought a bit more mechanics allowing to create chances.
- BDS coaching staff (Mew and Extra) (1.32.26): Both of them complete each other very well. On one hand, Mew doesn’t know much about RL (gameplay, mechanics) but he’s good for mental stuff. On the other hand, Extra can advise on gameplay problems. And there are not that many differences with his previous coaches except that they’re more "strict".
- Rise’s role in BDS (56:05): His playstyle is similar to Itachi’s because he controls the midfield. In general, he takes boosts, controls the mid, and does the bumps for his team.
- French or English coms? (1:01:45): He asked Mew when he joined BDS in which language they will have to speak for coms. And surprisingly, Seikoo prefers English coms while Monkey Moon doesn’t care. Therefore, in everyday life, they can speak French and English, but for coms, they only speak in English.
- Bootcamps (1:02:40): Rise lives in Portugal and every 2 weeks, he goes to Geneva for 8 days of boot camp. He’s never been to a team that boot camp that much. Usually, you just play the regional at home, and you boot camp only for Majors. Rise likes boot camps because he’s with his team and his tm8s can become his friends. For him, the most important thing is to have mutual respect between tm8s to have the same goal.
[French teams tend to boot camp for every minor now, curious to see if it will change for other teams too]
submitted by BadApprehensive5559 to RocketLeagueEsports [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 19:03 Alex_Plode How do you find music you've long forgotten about?

You know . . the song that causes you to say, "damn haven't heard that song in a long time." Typically those are happy accidents, like a song in a movie or tv show or someone posts a song on the socials somewhere.
All you older music fans (like me) can surely remember shopping in record stores. You've got four albums/tapes/CDs in your hand and can only afford three. Gotta put one back. That one you put back may never find its way into your library. The album just fades away in time. The song that prompted you to pick up that album is lost with it.
I'm looking for the one you put back. How do you find those?
It's such a joy when you find those long forgotten gems. The local AOR station used to run a morning segment called Resurrection Jukebox. They dug up some great stuff that I'd long forgotten about like Million Miles Away by the Plimsouls.
Someone posted Mockingbirds by Grant Lee Buffalo and BAM, I was transported back to my '79 Celica listening to the song on the radio wondering, who the heck is this? It's great! The song was everywhere that one mid-90s summer and then gone.
What if you want to find those long lost gems? Where do you go looking? Browsing the streamers can only get you so far. The streamers are highly dependent on you knowing what you're looking for to some degree.
What if you have no clue what you're looking for?
Perhaps a new subreddit . . ?
submitted by Alex_Plode to LetsTalkMusic [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 18:53 Obligatorycomment7 Would I look good with an undercut hairstyle?

Would I look good with an undercut hairstyle?
So I’m interested in getting an undercut haircut, but I’m not sure if it’ll work with my face. I know if I cut everything short it looks bad. But if I leave my top long, will it look alright?
Pics 1-3: me yesterday
Pic 4: me today but at a different angle and with outdoor lighting
Pic 5: me a month ago when my sides were cut short without a fade (I asked for a fade)
submitted by Obligatorycomment7 to malehairadvice [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 18:21 slydog823 Barbers in the south towns

Hey all, so I moved up to the OP/Hamburg area in September and I’ve been putting off getting a haircut in fears of it going terribly. Does anyone have a barber in the southtowns area they’d recommend? Usually I’ll get a simple scissor trim on the top and fade on the sides. Thanks in advance!
submitted by slydog823 to Buffalo [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 16:59 Rustee_nail Unloading my thoughts from attending a service as an outsider.

My girlfriend was raised JW until leaving the church in her mid 20s. Before meeting her, I had assumed that JWs were just another basic protestant denomination. Boy did she open my eyes to the JW reality.

For context I was raised Lutheran by casually religious parents. I was involved in youth ministry and served as an acolyte during services my entire childhood. In college I was active in bible studies and men's groups. Growing up our church was definitely more of the progressive kind. ELCA in general is known for leaning towards the liberal / progressive side of Christianity in general (their first female pastor was ordained in 1970, a genuine welcoming acceptance of LGBTQ+ members since the 80s, etc).

All this to say that even after leaving my religion behind, it was never a negative experience in my life. And while I heard stories of people growing up in much more controlling and vindictive systems, it was never anything I experienced.

So you can imagine my shock hearing her tell me about the high control, abusive system the JWs utilize. I was shocked at the seemingly shallow nature they do "bible studies" even more shocked learning about the Watchtower and the JW specific bible translations. So to get a better understanding of the life that she lived and grew up in, I decided to attend a service as a "curious potential convert".

My first surprise was walking in and the suspicious nature of the greeter / usher who accosted me in the narthex. Even when I told him my planned spiel of how I had been approached and was curious to learn more, he gave the impression that he was suspicious and not very welcoming.

After he warmed up a little, he offered me a JW bible and a bulletin for that day's service, told me I was in luck because there was a touring speaker from some other church in today and he is an amazing speaker.

Service began with congregants singing a song as though at gunpoint, followed by an 8 minute rambling free flow of thought prayer. Then finally the big speaker. It was.... interesting. He gave about 20 minutes of wordy but pointless meandering about comfort in god, mixed in with very short pulls from partial bible verses (having us look up scripture, only to reference half of a vague verse with no context). It is hard to put into words the impression it gave me, but it wasn't a celebratory worship and it wasn't a bible study. His whole spiel was meandering to a point that it was difficult to follow just what concepts he was conveying. And I say this as someone who used to enjoy long winded and convoluted discussions and sermons on theology, god, and meaning. It felt more akin to a torrent of words than an organized sermon. (Which I assume is probably the point, to suppress actual thought and engagement in lieu of surface level acceptance).

I sat through some of the Q&A session before leaving. Everyone repeating the paragraph we just reviewed but in slightly different words was... tiresome to say the least. Nobody asked any questions or offered any meaningful analysis of the readings.

All in all, I'm glad I went to get a better understanding of her past. I understand now what she meant when she said that she never felt any spiritual connection while she was there. They didn't really seem to offer any substance to true believers and definitely nothing to pull back people fading from beliefe. Well aside from social and thought control. But in some ways I am left with even more questions than when I began.

I am debating attending another service, just tompare it to my past experience. But for those that have grown up JW or had extended experience - was that a normal service? Is my experience more or less in line with yours or did I possibly come during an awkward time in the liturgical calendar?
submitted by Rustee_nail to exjw [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 14:54 JohnnyScholl My best friend hates me and we haven’t spoken in years

My best friend hates me and we haven’t spoken in years.
So just as the title says, my best friend hates me and we haven’t spoken in years. Let me start out by explaining the bond we had and then I’ll get into the situation. It was that friendship where we were closer than brothers. He moves, I move, almost like magnets. We’d know what each other was thinking even before we thought it. He was probably the best friend I’ve ever had or will have again. Now let’s get into where it all went wrong. This is the story of a boy and a girl, and I already know what everyone is beginning to think, but just hear me out. I don’t care if my name is out there, but for the sake of his privacy, we’re going to call the friend “1” and the girl “2”. I had first met “2” my freshman year of high school and I’ll admit I had a bit of a crush on her, but feelings fade and a day turns into months and that was that. “1” and I were acquainted but no really friends yet. Freshman year ends and the summer comes and I was gone for that summer, however I was back for one week mid summer for a school activity, and the first person to show up at my front door was “1”. It was like breathing. That’s how easily the friendship formed. We clicked within minutes. Fast forward and the summer ends and school starts my sophomore year, and I find out “1” and “2” are dating. I respect that. “1” has become my best friend and I haven’t felt anything towards “2” whatsoever. I support their relationship and even counsel it because I genuinely felt nothing for “2” anymore. Days turn into weeks and “1” and I are like fuckin Obi-wan and Anakin level close. Fast forward to the end of sophomore year, and “1” has broken up with “2” numerous times. We were all friends so I would make sure that she was alright, even asking “1” if he was okay with this which he told me he was. Things between them deteriorate, and one day while riding in the car, “1” told me “you know if you want to you can date her right?” Suddenly, I realized that I had feelings for her. Very strongly, and it wasn’t something I was hiding or ever trying to deny. I didn’t realize how strongly I felt for her myself until “1” had said that. So naturally I attempted to pursue. What a fucking idiot. And I know what everyone is thinking. “Bros before h**s, dude.” Yeah yeah yeah fuck you, I was 16 and stupid and thought I was in love. Immediately, “1” is beyond pissed and starts going crazy on me and cursing my name and talking about me behind my back, and trying to fight me. Fast forward a few weeks and he hates me and there’s been no contact between us. He gets kicked out of his parents house, but this is my best friend in the entire world, so even though things have been horrific between us, I invite him to come and live with me, which he does. I thought this would be a chance for us to heal, but I was very wrong. He starts seeing her again, lying to me, talking behind my back again, hanging out with bad people, etc. Im making this out to sound like I’m the victim and did nothing wrong which couldn’t be further from the truth. Eventually I kicked him out and kept trying to have a relationship with “2”. I swear that I thought I was in love with her. “1” and I fight more than ever and it’s like talking to a completely different person. Im 20 now and have never had a conflict so big. I wish with everything in me that I would’ve told myself how stupid I was being, and just sat and tried to have a fucking conversation with my friend. He’ll never want anything to do with me again, but that’s my fault. It’s 7:49 am and I’m about to go to work, but I just saw old pictures of us come up on my Snapchat, and it made me sentimental. I really miss my fucking friend. I miss my brother. If you ever have a falling out or fight with your friends, grow a fucking pair, and realize there’s more important things than who’s right or wrong. Y’all are friends for a reason. Don’t fuck up like I did, bc here I am 4 years later, and I don’t know my brother anymore. Be smarter than I was. If anyone read all the way until the end, thank you. I needed to vent.
submitted by JohnnyScholl to offmychest [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 14:22 xyakinanti Need help asking for a haircut at the barber

So I’m in Paris but my french doesn’t extend far enough to know how to ask for a haircut at the barbers. In London I usually just ask for a number 1 on the sides as a fade, and a 1-2cm trim on the top. How do I go about asking for this in french?
Thanks!
submitted by xyakinanti to French [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 09:53 AnnieIWillKnow May round-up - champions Chelsea complete the triple Double, in a perfect May

The Chelsea FC Women May round-up - champions Chelsea complete the triple Double, in a perfect May

Welcome to the final Chelsea FC Women monthly round-up of the 2022/23 season. This post is a long read, so feel free to skip to the end for a brief overview!

Introduction

It was a mixed April for Chelsea, in which we won one semi-final, and lost the other.
A spirited, but in the end, painful two-legged defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League meant our European dream came to an end. We were still left fighting in two competitions, however, having beat Aston Villa to advance to the FA Cup Final for the third year in a row.
As well as facing Man United in that banner occasion in May, we were also locked in a tense title fight with the Red Devils in the WSL - both the league and cup were to be decided in the final month of the season, meaning Chelsea had seven games to determine whether we made it a third Double triumph in three seasons, or finished the season empty-handed.
Chelsea’s congested fixture list meant we started the month seven points behind leaders Man United in the WSL standings - but with three games in hand. That meant it was in our hands - win out, and we would win the league.
Seven games to define the season - one cup final, and six in the WSL. Chelsea would be playing two games a week - whilst our rivals benefitted from a lighter schedule. The Blues had been heavily hit by injury this season - it was confirmed ahead of the run-in that Fran Kirby and Millie Bright would be out for the end of the season, although we were boosted by the return of Pernille Harder and Kadeisha Buchanan.
This has been one of the most gruelling and challenging seasons in recent memory for Chelsea - both on and off the pitch. Emma Hayes’ team are used to making the ends of seasons glorious ones - and that experience and champion mentality could be key to making the difference.
It was not going to be easy - but when the calendar turns to May, Chelsea come out to play, saving our best for when we needed it the most. It was set to be a tense month, of hoping that history would be repeated.

Key headlines

Injury updates
The ongoing injury epidemic - especially serious knee injuries - has been one of the storylines of the women’s football season. This has been especially concerning for many players and teams, with the World Cup looming in July.
Another of Chelsea’s own joined the unfortunate ranks this month, with young defender Jorja Fox having torn her ACL whilst out on loan to Brighton. The 19 year old has returned to the club for her treatment.
It was also confirmed that Fran Kirby would miss the end of the season, and the World Cup, in another cruel blow for a player who has been so blighted by serious injury and illness. Our two-time Player of the Year will be back in pre-season, having undergone knee surgery.
Millie Bright, meanwhile, is expected to be fit for the World Cup - but would not feature again for Chelsea this season.
Harder and Eriksson depart
It had been long expected, but that did not make the news hurt any less. Club captain Magda Eriksson, and forward Pernille Harder - who joined Chelsea in 2020 for a then world record fee - confirmed that they would be leaving Chelsea upon the expiry of their contracts this summer.
The couple are likely off to Bayern Munich. It has been known for a while that the duo would be taking on a new challenge - announcing it before the end of the season gave the opportunity for fans to see goodbye at Kingsmeadow, and then again in the final game of the season - and to give two icons of Chelsea the send-off they deserved.
It was an emotional farewell for all involved - and their contribution, especially that of Magda, in her six years at the club, will always be a part of our history, and never forgotten.
Awards
With the season drawing to the close, it’s the time of the year that the end of season accolades are handed out.
Sam Kerr was voted the FWA Women’s Football of the Year, for a second year in a row. Despite her contribution to our success this season - it was something of a surprise, with many thinking that Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly should have won.
Nonetheless, it was deserved - we would not be where we are without Kerr.
First signing
Chelsea are getting their business done early, having already announced that Sjoeke Nusken will join the club this summer. The 22 year old German midfielder joins from Frankfurt, and can play in either a deep-lying or box-to-box role.
With rumours of some other big signings to come, it could be a big summer…
Fran Kirby extends her contract
It was not all bad news for Kirby this month - following her knee surgery, it was also announced that the club have activated an extension on Fran’s contract, meaning she will stay at the club until 2024.

Now - to the action!

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool (WSL)
First up in May was the rearranged WSL home game from January, against Liverpool. The match had been abandoned after just six minutes due to a frozen pitch. The truly farcical scenes drew much criticism of how the matter was handled - with fans inconvenienced and players put at risk.
Liverpool had gotten Chelea’s season off the a shocker of a start, when they upset us 2-1 on the opening WSL weekend - but we have gone on to beat them in the FA Cup since. Former Chelsea boss Matt Beard’s side sat seventh in the standings ahead of this one, meaning they had avoided relegation in their first season since returning to the top flight.
Despite the exertions against Barcelona, with nearly a week’s rest after that energy-sapping exit, Emma Hayes felt she only needed to make the one change. It was an attacking one, with Lauren James coming in from the start, and Maren Mjelde dropping out - meaning Eve Perisset dropped into a back three alongside Magda Eriksson and Jess Carter.
Any thoughts of a straightforward evening were rapidly dissipated, when Liverpool took a shock lead after just two minutes.
It was a goal of our own making. The aforementioned Perisset gave the ball away, and Liverpool pounced, with full back Emma Koivisto meeting a Natasha Dowie cross at the far post.
The Chelsea response was a good one - setting about the task of overhauling the Liverpool lead well, by dominating possession and laying siege to the opposition penalty area.
Unfortunately, Liverpool were equally up to their task, and defended with a determination and energy that had been entirely absent from their 4-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Leiecester in their previous outing. Based on our encounters this season, it seems like Liverpool have already developed a penchant for getting it up against Chelsea, on their return to the top flight. Maybe the presence of ex-Blues boss Matt Beard in their dugout has something to do with that…
Highlights of their defensive effort included a superb last-ditch block from former Chelsea player Gemma Bonner, to deny Sam Kerr what seemed a certain goal. Debutant keeper Faye Kirby also pulled off a series of superb stops - and when you have a goalie playing like that on her first senior appearance, it is easy to fear it may be “one of those days”.
Eventually, however, the Chelsea pressure told. Niamh Charles, who joined Chelsea from Liverpool in 2020, flicked home an equaliser from a Perisset corner - the latter’s assist making up for her earlier error.
With the score now 1-1 at the break, it felt like the Liverpool resistance could be at an end - with Chelsea having 45 minutes to find the winner.
The Reds’ heads, however, did not drop - and they set about their task of fierce rearguard action with the same focus as in the first half.
Emma Hayes moved to a back four, and used the full strength of her bench by bringing on Jelena Cankovic, Pernille Harder and Rytting Kaneryd. Harder in particular looked a threat - illustrating how much she had been missed in her long injury absence, since November.
Sam Kerr had gone close on a few occasions in the first half, but her threat had seemed to fade and frustrations grew as the game wore on.
It was however, the Aussie who in the end did what she does best.
Jessie Fleming was desperately unlucky to see her excellently-struck shot ricocheted off of the upright, in the 86th minute - but then immensely relieved (along with all Chelsea players and fans) to see the rebound find Kerr, who finally was able to beat Faye Kirby.
With that, Chelsea had found a way to secure a crucial three points - and ensure our title challenge marched on.
Chelsea 7-0 Everton (WSL)
Next came a home game against Everton, where Chelsea would be hoping for a more straightforward 90 minutes than in the previous game against the red half of Merseyside.
With the Sunday evening kick off slot, each of our title rivals had already played. Arsenal squeaked out a 1-0 win vs relegation-threatened Leicester, whilst Man United eased to a more comfortable 3-0 win against Spurs - maintaining their lead at the top. Man City, however, suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, meaning their title hopes are effectively over.
That meant Chelsea needed to do our bit - and keep on winning. Everton, sat comfortably midtable ahead of this game - well clear of any relegation trouble, and with no prospect of breaking into the top three to qualify for Europe. The last meeting between the two was the reverse WSL fixture, back in October, where a Niamh Charles wonder goal and a brace for Pernille Harder saw Chelsea win 3-1.
Emma Hayes rotated her XI, making five changes - with Chelsea still contending with a gruelling schedule of two games a week. The aforementioned Harder started from the bench - still to make her first start since returning from long-term injury.
Buchanan, Svitkova, Bright and Kirby remained unavailable - with the latter three now having been confirmed as out for the season.
Despite not having much left to play for this season, Everton started well, and had Chelsea on the back foot. The Toffees are a side who look good in possession, and had the Blues working hard off the ball early on.
What was to come, therefore, could not have been expected. The Toffees quickly melted in the early May sunshine, in the face of an absolute onslaught from Chelsea - who scored five sensational goals in the first half, from just five shots on target.
The Blues have made a habit of winning games whilst playing short of our top form this season - but this first half was Chelsea at our ruthless and scintillating best.
The first came from nowhere. With the Everton defence distracted by the movement of Sam Kerr, they allowed Guro Reiten far too much space in her wide left position - who unleashed a rocket to raise the roof at Kingsmeadow, and ignite the crowd. It was her tenth of the season - the first time our assist queen has reached a double digit goal tally for the Blues.
With Chelsea now with a spring in our step, a second came soon after. Sam Kerr had spent the day before representing Australia at King Charles III’s coronation - but this goal involved a different Charles, with Niamh delivering a superb cross for Kerr to nod home.
Unfortunately, that was to be Kerr’s last action of the afternoon - having rolled her ankle in the landing after her goal. She was able to walk off, giving hope her substitution was just a precaution.
Pernille Harder had replaced Kerr - and with her first touch of the game had put Chelsea 3-0 up. It was the Dane’s first goal since her brace in the reverse fixture against Everton - and another goal of the finest quality. Reiten cut the ball back for Harder to curl home, and put the win beyond doubt.
Chelsea were not done yet, however - Sophie Ingle next in on the action with a caressed finish, her first WSL goal of the season. There was still time for one more before the break - and this one was assisted by Harder, who laid it off for Jessie Fleming.
That made it 5-0 to Chelsea, in a truly five-star first half.
With a midweek game to come - and the FA Cup final the next weekend - Hayes made two half time substitutes. Lauren James replaced the superb Reiten, and Alsu Abdullina on for Eve Perisset for some rare WSL minutes.
It was a relaxed second 45 for Chelsea, who with big fixtures left to come and the three points already secured, did not need to take any risks. More could have been added to the tally, with James and Rytting Kaneryd going close - and a blatant penalty on James also turned down.
Erin Cuthbert and Jess Carter joined the party to complete the full complement of five substitutes, and just when it seemed the bunting was being put away for the day, Cuthbert and Harder produced a final flourish for a sixth Chelsea goal. The Scot surged from the halfway line into the Everton third entirely unopposed, and squared it for Harder to emphatically finish.
Cuthbert even had time to add a seventh - just minutes after Rytting Kaneryd had hit the post - to make it 7-0 to Chelsea, in arguably our best performance of the season.
A thoroughly brilliant win for Chelsea, which moved us into second place - four points behind Manchester United, with two games still in hand. The seven goals were a big boost to our goal difference too, although the Red Devils still had the advantage in this.
The only downside was the potential loss of Sam Kerr to injury - which also meant the two goals from Pernille Harder, signalling that the Dane is well and truly back, after her long injury absence, could not have come at a better time. If we were to go without Kerr, we would need Harder more than ever.
Chelsea 6-0 Leicester (WSL)
Chelsea were next in action midweek, fulfilling one of the two games we had in hand over Man United. That also meant our title rivals would benefit from three extra days' rest ahead of our FA Cup final clash at Wembley, on the upcoming weekend.
The opponents, Leicester, were fighting for their WSL lives - sitting 11th in the table ahead of this fixture at Kingsmeadow, two points above bottom side Reading.
Despite their lowly position, they had had some good recent results - including a 4-0 win against Liverpool, and had performed well in a narrow 1-0 defeat to Arsenal the weekend prior to this game.
Chelsea had earlier thrashed Leicester 8-0 in the reverse league fixture, but ahead of kick off Emma Hayes referred to them as “the most improved side in the WSL” - as they have made noticeable strides forward under manager Willie Kirk, since then.
Hayes also confirmed Sam Kerr was available for this fixture, with the issue that forced her into an early substitution against Everton only minor.
With the cup final looming, Kerr was not risked however - starting from the bench. Also starting from the bench were Katerina Svitkova and Kadeisha Buchanan on their return from injury - a welcome sign ahead of the run-in. Hayes made six changes to the line up that had started against Everton - including Pernille Harder starting for the first time since her own injury return.
Despite the changes, Chelsea very much started where they left off against Everton, pinning Leicester back from kick off - and had a deserved lead inside ten minutes.
The scoring was opened by the same player who had gotten the party started on the weekend - Guro Reiten storming in to finish a low Harder cross with aplomb.
The situation already looked ominous for Leicester, and the impending sense of doom deepened when another of Sunday’s goalscorers, Erin Cuthbert, made it 2-0 on 18 minutes. The Foxes were caught playing out from the back - a mistake engineered by the intensity of the Chelsea press, which had been relentless from the off.
Harder herself was then in on the goal scoring act with a brace, her second in two games The first was opportunistic - converting a rebound after Lauren James had had her shot saved. The second was some individual brilliance, capping off her own mazy run with a confident finish.
That made it 4-0 at the break, and meant that as against Everton, the game was already done at half time. Chelsea had made short work of Leicester, showing exactly the efficiency and ruthlessness that is needed at the crunch time of the season.
James added a fifth in the second half, to end a run of games without a goal. She did so with what is already becoming a classic of her repertoire - shimmying her way into a dangerous shooting position, then unleashing a rocket from range. Having got her goal, Hayes then brought James off in a series of changes made with Wembley in mind - Cuthbert, Reiten and Harder all also making way.
Jelena Cankovic made it a tennis score, and as a final positive note, Hayes was able to bring Buchanan on for Eriksen to get some minutes in the Canadian centre back’s legs for the first time since the injury she picked up in the April international break.
The six goals in this game, on top of the 7-0 win against Leicester, meant Chelsea had entirely erased Man United’s previously weighty goal difference advantage in the space of three days - now both locked on +42, and with Chelsea just one point off the leaders, still with a game in hand.
Chelsea’s form and confidence could not be better heading into the Wembley showcase - where we would take on our title rivals Man United in the FA Cup final. The return of Harder and Buchanan to fitness - and with Harder notching four goals in two games - brought even more cause for optimism, in a thoroughly excellent couple of fixtures for the Blues.
Then, onto Wembley.
Chelsea 1-0 Man United (FA Cup Final)
There is no bigger fixture in the women’s domestic game than the FA Cup final - and for the first time ever, Wembley was sold out ahead of kick off, meaning yet another attendance record would be broken in a season of milestones for women’s football.
It would be Chelsea’s sixth final since the showpiece fixture has moved to Wembley - and we had only lost one before. Victory against Man United would also make it a hat trick of FA Cup triumphs for Chelsea, having also won the 2021 and 2022 finals.
Standing in our way were a Man United team in brilliant form, who are also seeking to stop Chelsea winning the league title. It was Man United’s first ever final - and hence their chance to win their first ever trophy since forming a women’s team in 2018.
Man United had the sense of underdog and destiny on their side, whilst Chelsea had the experience and nous of knowing what it takes to win the biggest games. With the Chelsea players still amongst a relentless schedule, and missing key players like Millie Bright and Fran Kirby - there was a good argument for either side to take home the trophy.
The big selection news was Pernille Harder starting from the bench - a surprise given her back to back braces - with Hayes opting for Kerr, Reiten and James as her three primary attackers instead. This would mean Chelsea had a very dangerous game-changing player, lying in wait…
The game got off to a very notable false start - or two. First Chelsea tried to kick off before the pre-match music had finished - and then Man United had the ball inside the net within a minute, only for the Blues to be reprieved by the offside flag.
That would have given Chelsea the unwelcome record of having conceded the fastest goal at an FA Cup final for both the men’s and women’s competition, after Louis Saha outdid our own Roberto Di Matteo’s previous record, in 2009.
You might have thought this would have woken up Chelsea - but Man United looked in control, and Chelsea on the edge defensively.
Man United’s first-time-final nerves appeared to affect them in the key attacking moments third though - they were on top in the game, but looked scared to pull the trigger, and so despite a few shaky moments, did not hugely test Berger.
Emma Hayes decision not to use Harder from the start gave Sam Kerr a lot of work to do - she was tasked with keeping the Man United defence busy all on her own. Chelsea employed a similar strategy to that which had been successful in the game at Kingsmeadow earlier this year, in a 1-0 win where Man United had dominated but lacked a cutting edge, and were undone on the counter.
Lauren James looked lively whenever she was on the ball, and made ex-Chelsea full back Hannah Blundell work very hard in the sweltering heat. James also had a header tipped onto the post by Mary Earps - a reminder that even whilst Man United appeared to have the better of it, Chelsea would always be in the game.
With the score 0-0 at half time, there was a definite sense that was a much better score line for Chelsea - and that Man United might regret not finding a way to make the most of having the Blues on the back foot.
And so they did come to regret it. Hayes introduced Harder on the hour mark, as it was always expected she would - and the impact was immediate. Marc Skinner similarly tried to affect the game, but there were no players like Pernille for him to turn to - and his decision to take off Nikita Paris looked to be the wrong one, with United losing much of the impetus when she exited.
As well as taking an arm to the face that appeared to go completely unnoticed by the referee, Harder combined with Kerr to get in behind the Man United defence - and twice Chelsea failed to capitalise. With two such attacking threats to contend with through the middle, Man United all of a sudden looked rattled.
The third time was the charm.
Of course, it was Kerr who found the decisive finish. The Aussie treated the record crowd at Wembley to one of her trademark backflips, after having steered Harder’s low cross past Earps -
A double flip, even - hopefully a sign of things to come… .
The goal had a disheartening effect on the opposition. You got the sense that it had sunk United’s maiden voyage in search of their first ever trophy - and that Chelsea’s experience would now see them through.
However, including an agonising six minutes of injury time, there were still a few scares - in particular a late goalmouth scramble that left two Chelsea players collapsed on the deck, alongside the blue half of the Wembley crowd collapsed in the stands.
It was soon only the blue half that remained, however. The full time whistle blew, and the Man United exodus was matched by the Chelsea explosion. Jubilation greeted yet another trophy for Emma Hayes and her Chelsea side.
A third FA Cup win in a row. Another piece of history on another hallmark day for the women’s game - nearly 78,000 at Wembley in a record for the cup final, and any women’s domestic final.
There was still more to play for, of course. Chelsea had three games left to play in the league - where we remained locked in a gripping title race with the cup final’s defeated foes.
Whether this galvanised or deflated Man United remained to be seen. It was still in our hands - and after a reminder like this of the machine Chelsea are at the business end of the season, you would have been unwise to bet against Blue.
West Ham 0-4 Chelsea (WSL)
There was not much time to celebrate for Chelsea, with the team back in action just three days after the FA Cup final triumph at Wembley.
The Blues travelled away to West Ham, to make up our final game in hand on WSL leaders Man United - knowing three points at the Chigwell Construction Stadium would move Chelsea back on top of the WSL for the first time since March.
Paul Konchesky’s side have been in woeful form - having just the one win in the past 10 games, and you had to flip the calendar back to December last year to find their last WSL win.
Nonetheless, Chelsea could not be complacent, given the shocks, twists and turns this WSL season has already thrown up - and it was imperative to remain fully focused on the task at hand.
With this game following the cup final, and a huge game against Arsenal to come just four days later, rotation was a necessity - and Hayes made seven changes to the XI who started at Wembley.
These changes did little to disrupt Chelsea’s impressive recent form, who looked like they meant business from the off.
Niamh Charles deservedly opened the scoring for the Blues after 11 minutes - being quickest to a rebound to finish from close range. It was a goal that was extra special for the defender, as it came on her 100th appearance for the club. An impressive milestone, given she is still only 23.
It felt like similar score lines to Everton and Leicester might be on the cards, but West Ham - to their credit - dug in, and were able to push to dampen the Chelsea fire, and keep it to 1-0 at half time.
However, Pernille Harder soon had a second for the Blues shortly after play resumed - and Chelsea were comfortable from that point.
Sophie Ingle - who like Harder had been a substitute at Wembley, and in from the start in this game - slid the ball into the Dane in the box, who made no mistake with the goal at her mercy.
It was another excellent display from the bang-in-form Harder, who since returning from injury has now scored five goals, and three assists - including a game-changing contribution off the bench in the FA Cup final. Her return to fitness and form really could not have been better timed.
Ingle was then herself on the scoresheet, nodding home a rebound from close range, after the West Ham keeper could only tip it onto the bar.
Erin Cuthbert put a sensational cherry on top with a fourth goal in injury time - which was easily the pick of the bunch.
The Scot had come on as a substitute, and twice before gone close with long range efforts. At the third time of asking, she was able to find the net - an absolute pile driver of a strike, hit with all of the ferocity you would expect from our midfield dynamo.
In all, it was another impressive performance. Chelsea were comfortable, dominant, and ruthless in dispatching yet another foe in our quest for a fourth consecutive league title. .
The 4-0 win made it 17 goals in the past three WSL games for Chelsea - completely obliterating Man United’s prior healthy goal difference advantage.
The win also means for the first time in many weeks Chelsea and Man United have played the same number of league games - and the Blues on top of the WSL, holding a two point lead in the standings with just two games left to play.
The upcoming weekend would likely be absolutely crucial in deciding the destination of the title, with two huge games on the cards.
Chelsea would be hosting Arsenal at Kingsmeadow, whilst Man United would be at home to local rivals Man City in the Manchester derby. Neither City or Arsenal had any realistic chance of winning the title themselves at this point - but both would relish the prospect of having a major say in who does, especially if at the detriment of their respective rivals.
Following this result, Chelsea were back in charge - but that could all change in the next 90 minutes.
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (WSL)
It was a fixture that has been circled in the calendar all season long, and as expected, Chelsea's final home game of the season - against Arsenal - was set to be pivotal in determining who would be crowned champions.
However, it was not Arsenal that Chelsea were competing with to be crowned champions - as many expected - with Man United instead the team who sat just two points off Chelsea heading into the final round of games.
Whilst Chelsea would be taking on Arsenal at Kingsmeadow, Man United would host Man City in the evening kick off - 1st vs 3rd and 2nd vs 4th, WSL weekends do not come much bigger.
Win our game, and Chelsea would be all but there. Drop points - and it would be advantage Man United. This was huge.
The Blues had been in sensational form - stepping it up when needed to, as we so often do. Every game in May so far had been a must-win - and a Chelsea squad depleted by injuries and weary with fatigue had risen to the occasion. The Blues had won five in a row coming into this fixture, and in doing so had completely erased Man United's goal difference advantage with a series of thumping victories.
Our perennial rivals, Arsenal, still needed to confirm their spot in the top 3 for Champions League qualification next season - although their goal difference advantage means a win at Aston Villa on the final day would likely see them qualify regardless of the result in this game. There is no love lost between Chelsea and Arsenal - and although the Gunners and Jonas Eidevall would likely not be able to win the title this year, they will love nothing more than stopping the Blues and Emma Hayes from making it four in a row.
Arsenal have been plagued by injuries this season - Lia Walti was ruled out for the season in their mid-week win vs Everton, to add to the earlier losses of Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Leah Williamson and Kim Little. Chelsea continued to be without Millie Bright and Fran Kirby, key absences of our own.
Emma Hayes named an attacking line up - with all three of Guro Reiten, Pernille Harder and Lauren James starting in support of Sam Kerr. Magda Eriksson continued at centre back alongside Maren Mjelde, with Hayes not disrupting the partnership that has done so well whilst Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan have been out injured - despite Buchana now being fit again.
This meant both Harder and Eriksson would be starting what was a very special game for the pain. It had been confirmed in the days leading up to this fixture that the duo will leave the club in the summer, this therefore being their last game at Kingsmeadow.
Chelsea started like a team who knew what this meant.
Arsenal barely had a kick in the first 10 minutes, their back three pinned back by a flying Chelsea team, who pressed high and kept the ball with focus and intensity.
Guro Reiten - arguably our player of the season - deservedly put the Blues ahead midway through the first half. Eve Perisset found the Norwegian with a delicious cross, after Arsenal had failed to clear their lines following a set piece - and Reiten’s smart finish was enough to beat Zinsberger.
This first half was Chelsea at our best - we looked better in every aspect than the Gunners, who just could not match the performance.
Despite the dominance, Ann-Katrin Berger was called upon on a few occasions - but when the second goal came it was for Chelsea, and the 2-0 scoreline was no more than the Blues deserved.
The goal scorer was one who sent the Kingsmeadow crowd into raptures.
It came from another set piece - Sam Ker headed across goal, where captain Magda Eriksson was first to react to prod past Zinsberger, meaning she would mark her final game at Kingsmeadow with a goal that could be crucial in Chelsea’s march to the title.
Arsenal, despite their injuries, are still a good team - and had proved that with their response to seemingly endless adversity this season, where they have kept getting results that may well see them in Europe next year, and nearly put them into this season’s Champion League final.
Their response in the second half, therefore, was not unexpected. The introduction of Steph Catley gave them fresh impetus, and not long after the resumption of play they had struck the Chelsea bar.
A penalty for Arsenal - with Sophie Ingle penalised for handball - gave them a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit. Stand-in penalty taker - and captain - Katie McCabe put it wide though, in a let off for Chelsea. Ingle had dominated the middle of the pitch for Chelsea - and it would have been cruel to see this tar her exceptional performance.
Chelsea needed to wake up, and Emma Hayes did her bit by bringing on Jess Carter for Lauren James, in an attempt to settle proceedings.
Berger had made some important interventions in the first half, and became increasingly important in the second 45 as Chelsea rode out the Arsenal storm. The Gunners, for all their improvement, still lacked a cutting edge, and too often wasted good opportunities with a poor final ball. The game gradually settled, and the introduction of Buchanan and Fleming helped the Blues to see it out.
The latter also meant there was the opportunity for Kingsmeadow to rise as one to show their appreciation for the departing Harder, who left the pitch for the last time in a home game for Chelsea.
A game which showed two of the best sides of Chelsea - who Emma Hayes in the pre-match build-up dubbed as “hybrid monsters” for the squad’s versatility. In the first half we showed our quality when playing on the front foot, dominating Arenal to take a deserved 2-0 lead. In the second half we showed our resilience when defending a lead - and professionalism and nous in being able to keep what we had, even with the assist of the penalty miss.
Taking all three points meant Chelsea went five clear, having played one game more than Man United - and effectively put one hand on the trophy.
If Man United had failed to beat Man City in the later evening kick off, then it would have been confirmed before the final day. However, despite 10-player Man City equalising in the second half - and for 20 odd minutes it looking like Chelsea were already champions - United found a stoppage time winner to ensure it did go to the final weekend.
Chelsea would travel to Reading knowing that a win would see us crowned champions for the fourth season in a row. The Royals are all but relegated following their loss against Spurs in their penultimate game - and given the challenges Chelsea have overcome to put themselves in this position, you would back the Blues to see it through… but would there be one last twist in the title race?
Reading 3-0 Chelsea (WSL)
It all came down to this.
After what has been the best WSL title race in years, the champions were to be decided on the final day.
Chelsea were in pole position. Since the March defeat to Man City, the Blues have won every single league game. The Red Devils had topped the table for most of the season, but mainly by virtue of the fixture list - as they had always been ahead of Chelsea in terms of games played.
A busy May has seen the Blues make up those games in hand - and completely erase United’s goal difference advantage - meaning that we headed into the final day with a two point and five goal difference lead.
In the blue corner, Chelsea were looking to make it a fourth WSL in a row and three consecutive Doubles. In the red corner, our rivals were looking to win their first ever league title - or trophy of any sort - since reforming as a club in 2018.
A win for Chelsea would confirm it, regardless of what Man United could do at Liverpool. Given the goal difference advantage, a draw may also be enough - but memories of the painful loss of the title on goal difference, on the final day in 2014, meant Chelsea would not want to chance it.
Our opponent faced a battle of their own. Reading were rock bottom of the WSL - and needed a win to avoid relegation, meaning this game was as big for them as for Chelsea.
The Royals form had been as woeful as their lowly position would suggest. However, they are something of a bogey team for Chelsea, having beaten us in this same fixture last season, and fought back well to a credible 3-2 loss at Kingsmeadow back in December.
Chelsea, meanwhile, were flying into the game - having scored 22 goals for the loss of just one against, in our six months in May so far.
It would also be the final game in Blue for departing captain Magda Eriksson, and her partner Pernille Harder. Magda marked her final Kingsmeadow appearance last weekend with a goal - and both would want to end their career at Chelsea on the ultimate high, and a goodbye that two such iconic and beloved players deserved.
In a rarity for Chelsea this season - given the fixture congestion and injuries we have had to contend with - Emma Hayes was able to name an unchanged XI for the final game of the 2022/23 season.
There was only one way for Reading to realistically play - try to frustrate Chelsea, and sting on the counter. As such, they set up with a back five, and within a few minutes it was clear that this was going to be a matter of attack vs defence.
Chelsea would need to keep patient, and keep calm - and did determinedly set about their business of breaking down the Reading wall.
Sam Kerr blazed the first good chance over, after some excellent build up from the Blues. Erin Cuthbert then hit the bar - and there was a growing sense the opener was coming.
The link up which has been so prolific this season proved fruitful again. A Guro Reiten cross from the left, a Sam Kerr header - and a Chelsea goal. Reiten has in many people’s views been our Player of the Season - the ‘Assist Queen’ added another to her tally of 19 for the year in all competitions, and her contribution has been crucial in a season where we have missed Fran Kirby and Harder for most of it. Reiten and Kerr have at times carried our attack this season - and so it was fitting they combined for the breakthrough here.
That made it 1-0 to the Chels, inside 20 minutes , and if this result held, the title would be staying at Kingsmeadow. Reading could have equalised not soon after, but Justine Vanhaevermaet could not convert a free header from a free kick. This was enough to remind Chelsea that we could not rest on our laurels, after having taken an early lead.
Royals forward Deanne Rose went off injured shortly after - a major blow for Reading, as one of their danger-women, and meant their chances of coming back in the game had taken a major hit.
Reiten further illustrated her contribution this season by getting the second goal, shortly before half time. The Norwegian capitalised on a poor back pass from Easther Mayi Kith to find herself one on one with the Reading keeper, and coolly nutmegged the unfortunate Maloney.
With that, Chelsea now had one (and a half) hands on the trophy - and it meant the second half would likely be a procession.
And so it was. Chelsea were never truly troubled in this game - having had nearly 80% possession, and 23 shots in total. This was always in Chelsea’s hands - the game, and maybe even on reflection, despite the season-long drama to get there - the title was always in our hands too.
Kerr got her second of the game late on by finishing off her own rebound to give the scoreline the resounding feeling that the dominant performance in the Berkshire sunshine deserved. A fitting way to end a storming run through the business end of the season - Chelsea took it up to a new level, and nobody else could match it.
Elsewhere, Man United did their part in beating Liverpool 1-0 - but it mattered little.
Magda Eriksson had been substituted off to enable the travelling fans to give our departing captain an enormous ovation - nothing less than what a genuine legend of this club deserves.
The only thing more fitting was what came next. For the tenth time as Chelsea captain, Eriksson lifted a trophy. She did so in front of the jubilant fans who filled the Madejski Stadium - meaning there were more Chelsea fans than Reading there to see it.
A fourth WSL title in a row - a third consecutive Double. Chelsea were champions.

May results in brief

Fixture Result Competition Goal scorers
Liverpool (H) 2-1 W WSL Charles, Kerr (Perisset assist)
Everton (H) 7-0 W WSL Reiten, Kerr, Harder x 2, Ingle, Fleming, Cuthbert (Rytting Kaneryd, Charles, Reiten, Fleming, Harder, Cuthbert assists)
Leicester (H) 6-0 W WSL Reiten, Cuthbert, Harder x 2, James, Cankovic (Harder, Carter, Perisset, Charles assists)
Man United (N) 1-0 W FA Cup final Kerr (Harder assist)
West Ham (A) 4-0 W WSL Charles, Harder, Ingle, Cuthbert (Ingle, Rytting Kaneryd assists)
Arsenal (H) 2-0 W WSL Reiten, Eriksson goals (Perisset, Kerr assists)
Reading (A) 3-0 W WSL Kerr x 2, Reiten (Reiten assist)

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2023.05.30 09:48 AnnieIWillKnow The Chelsea FC Women May round-up - champions Chelsea complete the triple Double, in a perfect May

The Chelsea FC Women May round-up - champions Chelsea complete the triple Double, in a perfect May

Welcome to the final Chelsea FC Women monthly round-up of the 2022/23 season. This post is a long read, so feel free to skip to the end for a brief overview!

Introduction

It was a mixed April for Chelsea, in which we won one semi-final, and lost the other.
A spirited, but in the end, painful two-legged defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League meant our European dream came to an end. We were still left fighting in two competitions, however, having beat Aston Villa to advance to the FA Cup Final for the third year in a row.
As well as facing Man United in that banner occasion in May, we were also locked in a tense title fight with the Red Devils in the WSL - both the league and cup were to be decided in the final month of the season, meaning Chelsea had seven games to determine whether we made it a third Double triumph in three seasons, or finished the season empty-handed.
Chelsea’s congested fixture list meant we started the month seven points behind leaders Man United in the WSL standings - but with three games in hand. That meant it was in our hands - win out, and we would win the league.
Seven games to define the season - one cup final, and six in the WSL. Chelsea would be playing two games a week - whilst our rivals benefitted from a lighter schedule. The Blues had been heavily hit by injury this season - it was confirmed ahead of the run-in that Fran Kirby and Millie Bright would be out for the end of the season, although we were boosted by the return of Pernille Harder and Kadeisha Buchanan.
This has been one of the most gruelling and challenging seasons in recent memory for Chelsea - both on and off the pitch. Emma Hayes’ team are used to making the ends of seasons glorious ones - and that experience and champion mentality could be key to making the difference.
It was not going to be easy - but when the calendar turns to May, Chelsea come out to play, saving our best for when we needed it the most. It was set to be a tense month, of hoping that history would be repeated.

Key headlines

Injury updates
The ongoing injury epidemic - especially serious knee injuries - has been one of the storylines of the women’s football season. This has been especially concerning for many players and teams, with the World Cup looming in July.
Another of Chelsea’s own joined the unfortunate ranks this month, with young defender Jorja Fox having torn her ACL whilst out on loan to Brighton. The 19 year old has returned to the club for her treatment.
It was also confirmed that Fran Kirby would miss the end of the season, and the World Cup, in another cruel blow for a player who has been so blighted by serious injury and illness. Our two-time Player of the Year will be back in pre-season, having undergone knee surgery.
Millie Bright, meanwhile, is expected to be fit for the World Cup - but would not feature again for Chelsea this season.
Harder and Eriksson depart
It had been long expected, but that did not make the news hurt any less. Club captain Magda Eriksson, and forward Pernille Harder - who joined Chelsea in 2020 for a then world record fee - confirmed that they would be leaving Chelsea upon the expiry of their contracts this summer.
The couple are likely off to Bayern Munich. It has been known for a while that the duo would be taking on a new challenge - announcing it before the end of the season gave the opportunity for fans to see goodbye at Kingsmeadow, and then again in the final game of the season - and to give two icons of Chelsea the send-off they deserved.
It was an emotional farewell for all involved - and their contribution, especially that of Magda, in her six years at the club, will always be a part of our history, and never forgotten.
Awards
With the season drawing to the close, it’s the time of the year that the end of season accolades are handed out.
Sam Kerr was voted the FWA Women’s Football of the Year, for a second year in a row. Despite her contribution to our success this season - it was something of a surprise, with many thinking that Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly should have won.
Nonetheless, it was deserved - we would not be where we are without Kerr.
First signing
Chelsea are getting their business done early, having already announced that Sjoeke Nusken will join the club this summer. The 22 year old German midfielder joins from Frankfurt, and can play in either a deep-lying or box-to-box role.
With rumours of some other big signings to come, it could be a big summer…
Fran Kirby extends her contract
It was not all bad news for Kirby this month - following her knee surgery, it was also announced that the club have activated an extension on Fran’s contract, meaning she will stay at the club until 2024.

Now - to the action!

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool (WSL)
First up in May was the rearranged WSL home game from January, against Liverpool. The match had been abandoned after just six minutes due to a frozen pitch. The truly farcical scenes drew much criticism of how the matter was handled - with fans inconvenienced and players put at risk.
Liverpool had gotten Chelea’s season off the a shocker of a start, when they upset us 2-1 on the opening WSL weekend - but we have gone on to beat them in the FA Cup since. Former Chelsea boss Matt Beard’s side sat seventh in the standings ahead of this one, meaning they had avoided relegation in their first season since returning to the top flight.
Despite the exertions against Barcelona, with nearly a week’s rest after that energy-sapping exit, Emma Hayes felt she only needed to make the one change. It was an attacking one, with Lauren James coming in from the start, and Maren Mjelde dropping out - meaning Eve Perisset dropped into a back three alongside Magda Eriksson and Jess Carter.
Any thoughts of a straightforward evening were rapidly dissipated, when Liverpool took a shock lead after just two minutes.
It was a goal of our own making. The aforementioned Perisset gave the ball away, and Liverpool pounced, with full back Emma Koivisto meeting a Natasha Dowie cross at the far post.
The Chelsea response was a good one - setting about the task of overhauling the Liverpool lead well, by dominating possession and laying siege to the opposition penalty area.
Unfortunately, Liverpool were equally up to their task, and defended with a determination and energy that had been entirely absent from their 4-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Leiecester in their previous outing. Based on our encounters this season, it seems like Liverpool have already developed a penchant for getting it up against Chelsea, on their return to the top flight. Maybe the presence of ex-Blues boss Matt Beard in their dugout has something to do with that…
Highlights of their defensive effort included a superb last-ditch block from former Chelsea player Gemma Bonner, to deny Sam Kerr what seemed a certain goal. Debutant keeper Faye Kirby also pulled off a series of superb stops - and when you have a goalie playing like that on her first senior appearance, it is easy to fear it may be “one of those days”.
Eventually, however, the Chelsea pressure told. Niamh Charles, who joined Chelsea from Liverpool in 2020, flicked home an equaliser from a Perisset corner - the latter’s assist making up for her earlier error.
With the score now 1-1 at the break, it felt like the Liverpool resistance could be at an end - with Chelsea having 45 minutes to find the winner.
The Reds’ heads, however, did not drop - and they set about their task of fierce rearguard action with the same focus as in the first half.
Emma Hayes moved to a back four, and used the full strength of her bench by bringing on Jelena Cankovic, Pernille Harder and Rytting Kaneryd. Harder in particular looked a threat - illustrating how much she had been missed in her long injury absence, since November.
Sam Kerr had gone close on a few occasions in the first half, but her threat had seemed to fade and frustrations grew as the game wore on.
It was however, the Aussie who in the end did what she does best.
Jessie Fleming was desperately unlucky to see her excellently-struck shot ricocheted off of the upright, in the 86th minute - but then immensely relieved (along with all Chelsea players and fans) to see the rebound find Kerr, who finally was able to beat Faye Kirby.
With that, Chelsea had found a way to secure a crucial three points - and ensure our title challenge marched on.
Chelsea 7-0 Everton (WSL)
Next came a home game against Everton, where Chelsea would be hoping for a more straightforward 90 minutes than in the previous game against the red half of Merseyside.
With the Sunday evening kick off slot, each of our title rivals had already played. Arsenal squeaked out a 1-0 win vs relegation-threatened Leicester, whilst Man United eased to a more comfortable 3-0 win against Spurs - maintaining their lead at the top. Man City, however, suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, meaning their title hopes are effectively over.
That meant Chelsea needed to do our bit - and keep on winning. Everton, sat comfortably midtable ahead of this game - well clear of any relegation trouble, and with no prospect of breaking into the top three to qualify for Europe. The last meeting between the two was the reverse WSL fixture, back in October, where a Niamh Charles wonder goal and a brace for Pernille Harder saw Chelsea win 3-1.
Emma Hayes rotated her XI, making five changes - with Chelsea still contending with a gruelling schedule of two games a week. The aforementioned Harder started from the bench - still to make her first start since returning from long-term injury.
Buchanan, Svitkova, Bright and Kirby remained unavailable - with the latter three now having been confirmed as out for the season.
Despite not having much left to play for this season, Everton started well, and had Chelsea on the back foot. The Toffees are a side who look good in possession, and had the Blues working hard off the ball early on.
What was to come, therefore, could not have been expected. The Toffees quickly melted in the early May sunshine, in the face of an absolute onslaught from Chelsea - who scored five sensational goals in the first half, from just five shots on target.
The Blues have made a habit of winning games whilst playing short of our top form this season - but this first half was Chelsea at our ruthless and scintillating best.
The first came from nowhere. With the Everton defence distracted by the movement of Sam Kerr, they allowed Guro Reiten far too much space in her wide left position - who unleashed a rocket to raise the roof at Kingsmeadow, and ignite the crowd. It was her tenth of the season - the first time our assist queen has reached a double digit goal tally for the Blues.
With Chelsea now with a spring in our step, a second came soon after. Sam Kerr had spent the day before representing Australia at King Charles III’s coronation - but this goal involved a different Charles, with Niamh delivering a superb cross for Kerr to nod home.
Unfortunately, that was to be Kerr’s last action of the afternoon - having rolled her ankle in the landing after her goal. She was able to walk off, giving hope her substitution was just a precaution.
Pernille Harder had replaced Kerr - and with her first touch of the game had put Chelsea 3-0 up. It was the Dane’s first goal since her brace in the reverse fixture against Everton - and another goal of the finest quality. Reiten cut the ball back for Harder to curl home, and put the win beyond doubt.
Chelsea were not done yet, however - Sophie Ingle next in on the action with a caressed finish, her first WSL goal of the season. There was still time for one more before the break - and this one was assisted by Harder, who laid it off for Jessie Fleming.
That made it 5-0 to Chelsea, in a truly five-star first half.
With a midweek game to come - and the FA Cup final the next weekend - Hayes made two half time substitutes. Lauren James replaced the superb Reiten, and Alsu Abdullina on for Eve Perisset for some rare WSL minutes.
It was a relaxed second 45 for Chelsea, who with big fixtures left to come and the three points already secured, did not need to take any risks. More could have been added to the tally, with James and Rytting Kaneryd going close - and a blatant penalty on James also turned down.
Erin Cuthbert and Jess Carter joined the party to complete the full complement of five substitutes, and just when it seemed the bunting was being put away for the day, Cuthbert and Harder produced a final flourish for a sixth Chelsea goal. The Scot surged from the halfway line into the Everton third entirely unopposed, and squared it for Harder to emphatically finish.
Cuthbert even had time to add a seventh - just minutes after Rytting Kaneryd had hit the post - to make it 7-0 to Chelsea, in arguably our best performance of the season.
A thoroughly brilliant win for Chelsea, which moved us into second place - four points behind Manchester United, with two games still in hand. The seven goals were a big boost to our goal difference too, although the Red Devils still had the advantage in this.
The only downside was the potential loss of Sam Kerr to injury - which also meant the two goals from Pernille Harder, signalling that the Dane is well and truly back, after her long injury absence, could not have come at a better time. If we were to go without Kerr, we would need Harder more than ever.
Chelsea 6-0 Leicester (WSL)
Chelsea were next in action midweek, fulfilling one of the two games we had in hand over Man United. That also meant our title rivals would benefit from three extra days' rest ahead of our FA Cup final clash at Wembley, on the upcoming weekend.
The opponents, Leicester, were fighting for their WSL lives - sitting 11th in the table ahead of this fixture at Kingsmeadow, two points above bottom side Reading.
Despite their lowly position, they had had some good recent results - including a 4-0 win against Liverpool, and had performed well in a narrow 1-0 defeat to Arsenal the weekend prior to this game.
Chelsea had earlier thrashed Leicester 8-0 in the reverse league fixture, but ahead of kick off Emma Hayes referred to them as “the most improved side in the WSL” - as they have made noticeable strides forward under manager Willie Kirk, since then.
Hayes also confirmed Sam Kerr was available for this fixture, with the issue that forced her into an early substitution against Everton only minor.
With the cup final looming, Kerr was not risked however - starting from the bench. Also starting from the bench were Katerina Svitkova and Kadeisha Buchanan on their return from injury - a welcome sign ahead of the run-in. Hayes made six changes to the line up that had started against Everton - including Pernille Harder starting for the first time since her own injury return.
Despite the changes, Chelsea very much started where they left off against Everton, pinning Leicester back from kick off - and had a deserved lead inside ten minutes.
The scoring was opened by the same player who had gotten the party started on the weekend - Guro Reiten storming in to finish a low Harder cross with aplomb.
The situation already looked ominous for Leicester, and the impending sense of doom deepened when another of Sunday’s goalscorers, Erin Cuthbert, made it 2-0 on 18 minutes. The Foxes were caught playing out from the back - a mistake engineered by the intensity of the Chelsea press, which had been relentless from the off.
Harder herself was then in on the goal scoring act with a brace, her second in two games The first was opportunistic - converting a rebound after Lauren James had had her shot saved. The second was some individual brilliance, capping off her own mazy run with a confident finish.
That made it 4-0 at the break, and meant that as against Everton, the game was already done at half time. Chelsea had made short work of Leicester, showing exactly the efficiency and ruthlessness that is needed at the crunch time of the season.
James added a fifth in the second half, to end a run of games without a goal. She did so with what is already becoming a classic of her repertoire - shimmying her way into a dangerous shooting position, then unleashing a rocket from range. Having got her goal, Hayes then brought James off in a series of changes made with Wembley in mind - Cuthbert, Reiten and Harder all also making way.
Jelena Cankovic made it a tennis score, and as a final positive note, Hayes was able to bring Buchanan on for Eriksen to get some minutes in the Canadian centre back’s legs for the first time since the injury she picked up in the April international break.
The six goals in this game, on top of the 7-0 win against Leicester, meant Chelsea had entirely erased Man United’s previously weighty goal difference advantage in the space of three days - now both locked on +42, and with Chelsea just one point off the leaders, still with a game in hand.
Chelsea’s form and confidence could not be better heading into the Wembley showcase - where we would take on our title rivals Man United in the FA Cup final. The return of Harder and Buchanan to fitness - and with Harder notching four goals in two games - brought even more cause for optimism, in a thoroughly excellent couple of fixtures for the Blues.
Then, onto Wembley.
Chelsea 1-0 Man United (FA Cup Final)
There is no bigger fixture in the women’s domestic game than the FA Cup final - and for the first time ever, Wembley was sold out ahead of kick off, meaning yet another attendance record would be broken in a season of milestones for women’s football.
It would be Chelsea’s sixth final since the showpiece fixture has moved to Wembley - and we had only lost one before. Victory against Man United would also make it a hat trick of FA Cup triumphs for Chelsea, having also won the 2021 and 2022 finals.
Standing in our way were a Man United team in brilliant form, who are also seeking to stop Chelsea winning the league title. It was Man United’s first ever final - and hence their chance to win their first ever trophy since forming a women’s team in 2018.
Man United had the sense of underdog and destiny on their side, whilst Chelsea had the experience and nous of knowing what it takes to win the biggest games. With the Chelsea players still amongst a relentless schedule, and missing key players like Millie Bright and Fran Kirby - there was a good argument for either side to take home the trophy.
The big selection news was Pernille Harder starting from the bench - a surprise given her back to back braces - with Hayes opting for Kerr, Reiten and James as her three primary attackers instead. This would mean Chelsea had a very dangerous game-changing player, lying in wait…
The game got off to a very notable false start - or two. First Chelsea tried to kick off before the pre-match music had finished - and then Man United had the ball inside the net within a minute, only for the Blues to be reprieved by the offside flag.
That would have given Chelsea the unwelcome record of having conceded the fastest goal at an FA Cup final for both the men’s and women’s competition, after Louis Saha outdid our own Roberto Di Matteo’s previous record, in 2009.
You might have thought this would have woken up Chelsea - but Man United looked in control, and Chelsea on the edge defensively.
Man United’s first-time-final nerves appeared to affect them in the key attacking moments third though - they were on top in the game, but looked scared to pull the trigger, and so despite a few shaky moments, did not hugely test Berger.
Emma Hayes decision not to use Harder from the start gave Sam Kerr a lot of work to do - she was tasked with keeping the Man United defence busy all on her own. Chelsea employed a similar strategy to that which had been successful in the game at Kingsmeadow earlier this year, in a 1-0 win where Man United had dominated but lacked a cutting edge, and were undone on the counter.
Lauren James looked lively whenever she was on the ball, and made ex-Chelsea full back Hannah Blundell work very hard in the sweltering heat. James also had a header tipped onto the post by Mary Earps - a reminder that even whilst Man United appeared to have the better of it, Chelsea would always be in the game.
With the score 0-0 at half time, there was a definite sense that was a much better score line for Chelsea - and that Man United might regret not finding a way to make the most of having the Blues on the back foot.
And so they did come to regret it. Hayes introduced Harder on the hour mark, as it was always expected she would - and the impact was immediate. Marc Skinner similarly tried to affect the game, but there were no players like Pernille for him to turn to - and his decision to take off Nikita Paris looked to be the wrong one, with United losing much of the impetus when she exited.
As well as taking an arm to the face that appeared to go completely unnoticed by the referee, Harder combined with Kerr to get in behind the Man United defence - and twice Chelsea failed to capitalise. With two such attacking threats to contend with through the middle, Man United all of a sudden looked rattled.
The third time was the charm.
Of course, it was Kerr who found the decisive finish. The Aussie treated the record crowd at Wembley to one of her trademark backflips, after having steered Harder’s low cross past Earps -
A double flip, even - hopefully a sign of things to come… .
The goal had a disheartening effect on the opposition. You got the sense that it had sunk United’s maiden voyage in search of their first ever trophy - and that Chelsea’s experience would now see them through.
However, including an agonising six minutes of injury time, there were still a few scares - in particular a late goalmouth scramble that left two Chelsea players collapsed on the deck, alongside the blue half of the Wembley crowd collapsed in the stands.
It was soon only the blue half that remained, however. The full time whistle blew, and the Man United exodus was matched by the Chelsea explosion. Jubilation greeted yet another trophy for Emma Hayes and her Chelsea side.
A third FA Cup win in a row. Another piece of history on another hallmark day for the women’s game - nearly 78,000 at Wembley in a record for the cup final, and any women’s domestic final.
There was still more to play for, of course. Chelsea had three games left to play in the league - where we remained locked in a gripping title race with the cup final’s defeated foes.
Whether this galvanised or deflated Man United remained to be seen. It was still in our hands - and after a reminder like this of the machine Chelsea are at the business end of the season, you would have been unwise to bet against Blue.
West Ham 0-4 Chelsea (WSL)
There was not much time to celebrate for Chelsea, with the team back in action just three days after the FA Cup final triumph at Wembley.
The Blues travelled away to West Ham, to make up our final game in hand on WSL leaders Man United - knowing three points at the Chigwell Construction Stadium would move Chelsea back on top of the WSL for the first time since March.
Paul Konchesky’s side have been in woeful form - having just the one win in the past 10 games, and you had to flip the calendar back to December last year to find their last WSL win.
Nonetheless, Chelsea could not be complacent, given the shocks, twists and turns this WSL season has already thrown up - and it was imperative to remain fully focused on the task at hand.
With this game following the cup final, and a huge game against Arsenal to come just four days later, rotation was a necessity - and Hayes made seven changes to the XI who started at Wembley.
These changes did little to disrupt Chelsea’s impressive recent form, who looked like they meant business from the off.
Niamh Charles deservedly opened the scoring for the Blues after 11 minutes - being quickest to a rebound to finish from close range. It was a goal that was extra special for the defender, as it came on her 100th appearance for the club. An impressive milestone, given she is still only 23.
It felt like similar score lines to Everton and Leicester might be on the cards, but West Ham - to their credit - dug in, and were able to push to dampen the Chelsea fire, and keep it to 1-0 at half time.
However, Pernille Harder soon had a second for the Blues shortly after play resumed - and Chelsea were comfortable from that point.
Sophie Ingle - who like Harder had been a substitute at Wembley, and in from the start in this game - slid the ball into the Dane in the box, who made no mistake with the goal at her mercy.
It was another excellent display from the bang-in-form Harder, who since returning from injury has now scored five goals, and three assists - including a game-changing contribution off the bench in the FA Cup final. Her return to fitness and form really could not have been better timed.
Ingle was then herself on the scoresheet, nodding home a rebound from close range, after the West Ham keeper could only tip it onto the bar.
Erin Cuthbert put a sensational cherry on top with a fourth goal in injury time - which was easily the pick of the bunch.
The Scot had come on as a substitute, and twice before gone close with long range efforts. At the third time of asking, she was able to find the net - an absolute pile driver of a strike, hit with all of the ferocity you would expect from our midfield dynamo.
In all, it was another impressive performance. Chelsea were comfortable, dominant, and ruthless in dispatching yet another foe in our quest for a fourth consecutive league title. .
The 4-0 win made it 17 goals in the past three WSL games for Chelsea - completely obliterating Man United’s prior healthy goal difference advantage.
The win also means for the first time in many weeks Chelsea and Man United have played the same number of league games - and the Blues on top of the WSL, holding a two point lead in the standings with just two games left to play.
The upcoming weekend would likely be absolutely crucial in deciding the destination of the title, with two huge games on the cards.
Chelsea would be hosting Arsenal at Kingsmeadow, whilst Man United would be at home to local rivals Man City in the Manchester derby. Neither City or Arsenal had any realistic chance of winning the title themselves at this point - but both would relish the prospect of having a major say in who does, especially if at the detriment of their respective rivals.
Following this result, Chelsea were back in charge - but that could all change in the next 90 minutes.
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (WSL)
It was a fixture that has been circled in the calendar all season long, and as expected, Chelsea's final home game of the season - against Arsenal - was set to be pivotal in determining who would be crowned champions.
However, it was not Arsenal that Chelsea were competing with to be crowned champions - as many expected - with Man United instead the team who sat just two points off Chelsea heading into the final round of games.
Whilst Chelsea would be taking on Arsenal at Kingsmeadow, Man United would host Man City in the evening kick off - 1st vs 3rd and 2nd vs 4th, WSL weekends do not come much bigger.
Win our game, and Chelsea would be all but there. Drop points - and it would be advantage Man United. This was huge.
The Blues had been in sensational form - stepping it up when needed to, as we so often do. Every game in May so far had been a must-win - and a Chelsea squad depleted by injuries and weary with fatigue had risen to the occasion. The Blues had won five in a row coming into this fixture, and in doing so had completely erased Man United's goal difference advantage with a series of thumping victories.
Our perennial rivals, Arsenal, still needed to confirm their spot in the top 3 for Champions League qualification next season - although their goal difference advantage means a win at Aston Villa on the final day would likely see them qualify regardless of the result in this game. There is no love lost between Chelsea and Arsenal - and although the Gunners and Jonas Eidevall would likely not be able to win the title this year, they will love nothing more than stopping the Blues and Emma Hayes from making it four in a row.
Arsenal have been plagued by injuries this season - Lia Walti was ruled out for the season in their mid-week win vs Everton, to add to the earlier losses of Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Leah Williamson and Kim Little. Chelsea continued to be without Millie Bright and Fran Kirby, key absences of our own.
Emma Hayes named an attacking line up - with all three of Guro Reiten, Pernille Harder and Lauren James starting in support of Sam Kerr. Magda Eriksson continued at centre back alongside Maren Mjelde, with Hayes not disrupting the partnership that has done so well whilst Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan have been out injured - despite Buchana now being fit again.
This meant both Harder and Eriksson would be starting what was a very special game for the pain. It had been confirmed in the days leading up to this fixture that the duo will leave the club in the summer, this therefore being their last game at Kingsmeadow.
Chelsea started like a team who knew what this meant.
Arsenal barely had a kick in the first 10 minutes, their back three pinned back by a flying Chelsea team, who pressed high and kept the ball with focus and intensity.
Guro Reiten - arguably our player of the season - deservedly put the Blues ahead midway through the first half. Eve Perisset found the Norwegian with a delicious cross, after Arsenal had failed to clear their lines following a set piece - and Reiten’s smart finish was enough to beat Zinsberger.
This first half was Chelsea at our best - we looked better in every aspect than the Gunners, who just could not match the performance.
Despite the dominance, Ann-Katrin Berger was called upon on a few occasions - but when the second goal came it was for Chelsea, and the 2-0 scoreline was no more than the Blues deserved.
The goal scorer was one who sent the Kingsmeadow crowd into raptures.
It came from another set piece - Sam Ker headed across goal, where captain Magda Eriksson was first to react to prod past Zinsberger, meaning she would mark her final game at Kingsmeadow with a goal that could be crucial in Chelsea’s march to the title.
Arsenal, despite their injuries, are still a good team - and had proved that with their response to seemingly endless adversity this season, where they have kept getting results that may well see them in Europe next year, and nearly put them into this season’s Champion League final.
Their response in the second half, therefore, was not unexpected. The introduction of Steph Catley gave them fresh impetus, and not long after the resumption of play they had struck the Chelsea bar.
A penalty for Arsenal - with Sophie Ingle penalised for handball - gave them a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit. Stand-in penalty taker - and captain - Katie McCabe put it wide though, in a let off for Chelsea. Ingle had dominated the middle of the pitch for Chelsea - and it would have been cruel to see this tar her exceptional performance.
Chelsea needed to wake up, and Emma Hayes did her bit by bringing on Jess Carter for Lauren James, in an attempt to settle proceedings.
Berger had made some important interventions in the first half, and became increasingly important in the second 45 as Chelsea rode out the Arsenal storm. The Gunners, for all their improvement, still lacked a cutting edge, and too often wasted good opportunities with a poor final ball. The game gradually settled, and the introduction of Buchanan and Fleming helped the Blues to see it out.
The latter also meant there was the opportunity for Kingsmeadow to rise as one to show their appreciation for the departing Harder, who left the pitch for the last time in a home game for Chelsea.
A game which showed two of the best sides of Chelsea - who Emma Hayes in the pre-match build-up dubbed as “hybrid monsters” for the squad’s versatility. In the first half we showed our quality when playing on the front foot, dominating Arenal to take a deserved 2-0 lead. In the second half we showed our resilience when defending a lead - and professionalism and nous in being able to keep what we had, even with the assist of the penalty miss.
Taking all three points meant Chelsea went five clear, having played one game more than Man United - and effectively put one hand on the trophy.
If Man United had failed to beat Man City in the later evening kick off, then it would have been confirmed before the final day. However, despite 10-player Man City equalising in the second half - and for 20 odd minutes it looking like Chelsea were already champions - United found a stoppage time winner to ensure it did go to the final weekend.
Chelsea would travel to Reading knowing that a win would see us crowned champions for the fourth season in a row. The Royals are all but relegated following their loss against Spurs in their penultimate game - and given the challenges Chelsea have overcome to put themselves in this position, you would back the Blues to see it through… but would there be one last twist in the title race?
Reading 3-0 Chelsea (WSL)
It all came down to this.
After what has been the best WSL title race in years, the champions were to be decided on the final day.
Chelsea were in pole position. Since the March defeat to Man City, the Blues have won every single league game. The Red Devils had topped the table for most of the season, but mainly by virtue of the fixture list - as they had always been ahead of Chelsea in terms of games played.
A busy May has seen the Blues make up those games in hand - and completely erase United’s goal difference advantage - meaning that we headed into the final day with a two point and five goal difference lead.
In the blue corner, Chelsea were looking to make it a fourth WSL in a row and three consecutive Doubles. In the red corner, our rivals were looking to win their first ever league title - or trophy of any sort - since reforming as a club in 2018.
A win for Chelsea would confirm it, regardless of what Man United could do at Liverpool. Given the goal difference advantage, a draw may also be enough - but memories of the painful loss of the title on goal difference, on the final day in 2014, meant Chelsea would not want to chance it.
Our opponent faced a battle of their own. Reading were rock bottom of the WSL - and needed a win to avoid relegation, meaning this game was as big for them as for Chelsea.
The Royals form had been as woeful as their lowly position would suggest. However, they are something of a bogey team for Chelsea, having beaten us in this same fixture last season, and fought back well to a credible 3-2 loss at Kingsmeadow back in December.
Chelsea, meanwhile, were flying into the game - having scored 22 goals for the loss of just one against, in our six months in May so far.
It would also be the final game in Blue for departing captain Magda Eriksson, and her partner Pernille Harder. Magda marked her final Kingsmeadow appearance last weekend with a goal - and both would want to end their career at Chelsea on the ultimate high, and a goodbye that two such iconic and beloved players deserved.
In a rarity for Chelsea this season - given the fixture congestion and injuries we have had to contend with - Emma Hayes was able to name an unchanged XI for the final game of the 2022/23 season.
There was only one way for Reading to realistically play - try to frustrate Chelsea, and sting on the counter. As such, they set up with a back five, and within a few minutes it was clear that this was going to be a matter of attack vs defence.
Chelsea would need to keep patient, and keep calm - and did determinedly set about their business of breaking down the Reading wall.
Sam Kerr blazed the first good chance over, after some excellent build up from the Blues. Erin Cuthbert then hit the bar - and there was a growing sense the opener was coming.
The link up which has been so prolific this season proved fruitful again. A Guro Reiten cross from the left, a Sam Kerr header - and a Chelsea goal. Reiten has in many people’s views been our Player of the Season - the ‘Assist Queen’ added another to her tally of 19 for the year in all competitions, and her contribution has been crucial in a season where we have missed Fran Kirby and Harder for most of it. Reiten and Kerr have at times carried our attack this season - and so it was fitting they combined for the breakthrough here.
That made it 1-0 to the Chels, inside 20 minutes , and if this result held, the title would be staying at Kingsmeadow. Reading could have equalised not soon after, but Justine Vanhaevermaet could not convert a free header from a free kick. This was enough to remind Chelsea that we could not rest on our laurels, after having taken an early lead.
Royals forward Deanne Rose went off injured shortly after - a major blow for Reading, as one of their danger-women, and meant their chances of coming back in the game had taken a major hit.
Reiten further illustrated her contribution this season by getting the second goal, shortly before half time. The Norwegian capitalised on a poor back pass from Easther Mayi Kith to find herself one on one with the Reading keeper, and coolly nutmegged the unfortunate Maloney.
With that, Chelsea now had one (and a half) hands on the trophy - and it meant the second half would likely be a procession.
And so it was. Chelsea were never truly troubled in this game - having had nearly 80% possession, and 23 shots in total. This was always in Chelsea’s hands - the game, and maybe even on reflection, despite the season-long drama to get there - the title was always in our hands too.
Kerr got her second of the game late on by finishing off her own rebound to give the scoreline the resounding feeling that the dominant performance in the Berkshire sunshine deserved. A fitting way to end a storming run through the business end of the season - Chelsea took it up to a new level, and nobody else could match it.
Elsewhere, Man United did their part in beating Liverpool 1-0 - but it mattered little.
Magda Eriksson had been substituted off to enable the travelling fans to give our departing captain an enormous ovation - nothing less than what a genuine legend of this club deserves.
The only thing more fitting was what came next. For the tenth time as Chelsea captain, Eriksson lifted a trophy. She did so in front of the jubilant fans who filled the Madejski Stadium - meaning there were more Chelsea fans than Reading there to see it.
A fourth WSL title in a row - a third consecutive Double. Chelsea were champions.

May results in brief

Fixture Result Competition Goal scorers
Liverpool (H) 2-1 W WSL Charles, Kerr (Perisset assist)
Everton (H) 7-0 W WSL Reiten, Kerr, Harder x 2, Ingle, Fleming, Cuthbert (Rytting Kaneryd, Charles, Reiten, Fleming, Harder, Cuthbert assists)
Leicester (H) 6-0 W WSL Reiten, Cuthbert, Harder x 2, James, Cankovic (Harder, Carter, Perisset, Charles assists)
Man United (N) 1-0 W FA Cup final Kerr (Harder assist)
West Ham (A) 4-0 W WSL Charles, Harder, Ingle, Cuthbert (Ingle, Rytting Kaneryd assists)
Arsenal (H) 2-0 W WSL Reiten, Eriksson goals (Perisset, Kerr assists)
Reading (A) 3-0 W WSL Kerr x 2, Reiten (Reiten assist)

UTC!

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2023.05.30 08:15 Alternative_Oven6128 what's yours?

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2023.05.30 07:30 Street-Accountant796 Post-Scarsity isn't Post-Suffering 46

Trigger warning: Mentions of abuse
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POV: Milko

I didn't know how Mateo did it. Forgave so easily. I was not that good; not that benevolent.
The way I saw it, the galaxy was a cruel thing tenanted mostly by uncaring inhabitants who willfully caused pain and suffering to other beings, or at least felt no concern for the hurt they dealt or tolerated.
Whenever I thought about my father - the begetter of children he never saw as people but merely expendable commodities - I started to seethe and sulfuric, slender ringlets of smoke drifted menacingly from my nostrils.
It's not like I didn't try to be better, I really did. Those hours trying to get help from him to my mother bleeding to death in front of me spawned a darker me. The hours sitting in my mother's and siblings' blood with the quiet of their deaths screaming in my mind, those hours depleted something vital in me.
I am able to forgive if not forget. I forgave the commander when he intentionally hurt me with the gravity change. I forgave the IASO for her antics in our initial interview. But my sire? I didn't think so. Other Coltavalke? I didn't feel like being a member of that particular gang.
So how is Mateo ok with Ouer, the Eoan teenager?!? Her entire species was guilty of the most horrible acts against sentients and sapients. I understood not blaming the kid but how did he stay in the same room without being overwhelmed with disgust and fury?
Well, Mateo was befriending the monster lookalike and I was there to support him.
We were behind the door of the youth habitation unit belonging to Saša, Ouer's guardian for the moment. An almost breathtakingly handsome, young Deblom male opened the door.
Deblom male: Yes? Who're you here for?
Milko (after shaking his head slightly to clear her thoughts): I'm Milko, a Coltavalke, and this is Mateo, a human. We're here for Ouer.
Deblom male: Who?
Mateo: It's ok, we're on the list of approved visitors.
Deblom: Great for you.
His handsomeness was waning in my eyes. There's no beauty in the galaxy to make up for these manners. Still, I tried again, politely. I tried to keep smoke from escaping but keeping it in was making my eyes water.
Milko: This is Saša's habitation unit, isn't it?
Deblom: Maybe.
Mateo: Is Saša here?
Deblom: Don'tknow.
Or care, it seemed. He was leaning to the doorframe at an increasingly alarming angle. His eyes were half closed in a way he probably thought was sexy but came across as exhausted and dull. Suddenly I saw Ouer in the room behind the obtuse Deblom.
Ouer: Are you here to see me?
At the sudden sound of the low gurgling Eoan nightmare fuel of a voice, the Deblum guy exceeded his maximum lean angle and unceremoniously plonked on the floor. It was very satisfying to see him blinking several times like a confused Huuq.
I held Mateo's hand and we curtly stepped over him to our new friend.
Milko: Good...
Mateo: ...morning,...
Milko: ...Ouer!
Ouer: You came! You actually came! That guy kept telling me you didn't mean it as a promise. He said nobody would think twice betraying the likes of me!
Saša (stepping into the room from some smaller room in the back): Who said that?
It took him about half a human second to find the Deblom guy on the floor wearing an obnoxious smirk. He was lying in a weird pose on the floor, one leg bend up, opening his crotch area in a way that would be obscene if it weren't so utterly ridiculous. Saša sighed.
Mateo: Saša, we came to take Ouer to play in the private shore area. One of our friends is already there. If Ouer wants to come, of course.
Saša: This is just having some good-natured fun together, kids only?
Milko: "Young people", please, not "kids"! Sir.
Saša: Of course. It was just a slip of the tongue.
Mateo: Then yes, sir, just us. If we happen to start discussing some legal stuff, we'll inform everyone. It's not the idea, though.
Saša: Ouer, do you wish to go?
Ouer: Oh, yes, yes, please!
Saša: Use the lift at the end of the corridor. Tierpe, c'mon, let's go discuss this in my office. Up, up, up: other people need to use that threshold. It's not there purely as a background for your pin-up poses!
Mateo: We have a friend, Caleo. Please, be very careful with him. He very nearly died a few days ago. He is aquatic, small, and cute.
Milko: He used to be enslaved, his entire life until now. And his slavers directly caused his condition. He had never seen a bath, not to mention a beach. He wasn't taught anything. He didn't even have a name until Mateo gave him one.
Mateo: We were there when he woke up, and feel very protective towards him. He doesn't know how the real world works.
Milko: He has known no kindness.
Mateo: He has never had anything, not even the basics.
Milko: They didn't give the enslaved children even a glass or a mug to drink from. A bowl on the floor if they were really lucky, mostly just some used water was splashed on the floor for them to lick.
Mateo: I took a bath with him on our spaceship. He - an aquatic child - had never before been immersed in water!
Milko: Sorry to rant on you. It's not like you did anything to him.
Mateo: The injustice of it, the sheer agony these kids endured...
Milko: ...it just gets us very riled up.
Mateo: Partly because of our own trauma and enslavement. Which was not that bad.
Ouer: Not as bad?! You almost died. Your sister did die. You were tortured and eaten for months until you rescued yourself!
Milko: Not to mention the slave work we were forced to do at the space station, Mateo.
Ouer: Aren't you still having physical problems you are here to fix? And the degree of enslavement and torture is not some competition! What one person might not even remember might be extremely traumatic to another. And it doesn't mean they're weaker or anything.
Mateo: Wow, Ouer! That was well put! Race you to the elevator!
Milko: No fair! My legs are short!
Ouer (whisking by Milko): Well I don't have legs at all, just one muscular foot!
Really wouldn't have thought it possible but despite Mateo's head start the legless mollusk won the race. Soon we were at the private shore. It was - of course - an artificial beach with one-third sand and two-thirds water. The HOTCHI-station had several of these as well as other environments to help with rehabilitation after surgeries or hospital stays.
It was perfect for our purposes. Ouer wasn't guilty in any way of the previous attack on the HOTCHI station. But his physical form would trigger horrendous memories in several patients and many of the staff here. We decided public areas were to be avoided, for now.

POV: Ouer

I couldn't believe it. All my life I had been hiding, knowing exposure to others would only bring suffering and death. Our species was hated for good reason and our form was disgusting.
And here I was, on the very station our hated warriors had desecrated in acts more vile than anywhere else. But I was allowed to move around and meet people! And now someone - two someones - wanted to do something incredibly nice to me!
Their friend had never been immersed in water in his life. Mateo and Milko seemed to find this especially condemning since the child was of an aquatic species. Like me.
I didn't know if I should tell them that I hadn't even ever seen enough water to submerge in. I wondered if it would make me look too pitiful.
"Shore." I knew what the word meant. I had seen a low-resolution picture of one. I almost hyperventilated thinking I'd get to see one in real life. It was artificial, I knew that. But most things in space are.
We stepped in the omnidirectional hover-lift. The lift had minimal friction as it hovered magnetically in the shaft. The ride was smooth, as were the transitions from vertical to horizontal.
But the best part was the interior of the lift. Even though the travel only took some minutes there was ample room and an abundance of seating options. This was a hospital and the convalescents were given every opportunity to do things and not just forlornly lie on a bed.
One side was for mammals with seats that conformed to different kinds of people. On the opposing side were perches and nests for avians. That section also had branches and caverns for insectoids.
And the back wall, directly where you looked when you entered, was the section for aquatic and amphibious species. With a push of a button, you could get either freshwater or saline water in different concentrations.
You could get totally underwater, sit in a seat partially underwater, or get water osmotically just by holding onto a bar with a partially permeable membrane. I used the last method. These humans, they think of everything. You could even add small molecules of nutrients of your choice to the solution. It was so refreshing after so long in the relatively dry spaces the Terrans preferred.
In truth, when the elevator ride was over I kinda wishes it had lasted longer. But the siren song of a shore was too enticing to ignore.
The elevator chauffeured us right outside our private shore. The door faded out to let us pass into a corridor. A small cephalopod child was impatiently waiting for us.
They were mostly diaphanous with a blue tint, possibly for sun protection. Some parts of them were darker blue, presumably for more protection against harmful UV and galactic cosmic radiation.
They had no hard external shell or internal bone, three hearts were visible, and their delicate tentacles were curling and uncurling with excitement.
Caleo: Mateo! Milko! Is the shore here? Right here? I feel weird but good weird. Is that normal? Who is that with you? Are they nice? I'm feeling sooo good weird!
Mateo: Slow down a tad, Caleo! Good weird is probably excitement. Excitement is a really good feeling, right?
Caleo: Yes, good, good! Good weird excitement! A good, new word!
Milko: Caleo, this is our new friend Ouer. She is an Eoan, of the good ones. Ouer, this is our friend Caleo. We don't know the species' name, though.
Ouer: Very good and exciting to meet you, Caleo. My parents taught me how to recognize many sapient, aquatic, and amphibian species. You know, not to... accidentally mistake them for a food source. Caleo is an Urtsas. They are masters in camouflage.
Mateo: Wow, thanks, Ouer! Did you hear that, Caleo? Your people are called Urtsas!
Milko: Later, it would be really great if you, Ouer, could tell us what else you know about the Urtsas. We hope to eventually contact Caleo's people, maybe even some relatives.
Mateo: But now, behold the shore!
The large door dissolved into the air and revealed the paradise within.
Warm airflow with tiny drops of salt water caressed me tantalizingly, practically propelling my body toward the shore. I felt directional warmth and light. It looked like the ceiling wasn't there. Instead, it looked like the sky, incredibly high above. And the warmth came from a light yellow ball in the sky. I looked at Mateo, incredibly. He lifted his shoulders for a moment.
Mateo: Our cradle has one white-colored yellow dwarf star. I'm told this is an approximation of how it looks seeing it through Earth's atmosphere. It looks yellow.
Ouer: You're told? You haven't been there?
Mateo: We were six when our detestable uncle decided to kill us slowly by selling us to an Eoan ship as food. The few years with him before that weren't any better. We weren't let outside much, and he had newspapers glued to cover the windows for some obscure reason. I must have seen the Sun, but don't recall.
Milko: I'm not even sure if there are beaches on our planet. The space station we grew up on definitely didn't. This will be our first time experiencing this as well! Let's go!
These two were candid when talking about their frankly horrible past. But they were not wallowing in the wretchedness of it all. They looked towards new, positive experiences with their heads held high. They had their severe trauma. I had seen that myself. They just seemed to grasp whatever positive experiences they encountered with all manipulation extremities. And then share it others.
The floor transitioned into fine sand. There was a rockier part but I wanted to feel the sand under my foot. It was so much finer than the coarse rubble my family had to acquiesce with. Rubble made from ground, non-metallic spaceship salvage.
I reveled in the sublime experience of the smooth sand, the sunshine, and the glorious breeze. Only it was cut short by excited, high-pitched squeals. I turned around at couldn't help but laugh.
Now I knew my form was monstrous. That was the day I found out my laugh was a sound causing instinctual, instantaneous horror in other beings. Had it only been Mateo - whose association with the sound was in all probability horrific. But no. Equal terror had engulfed also Caleo and Milko, who had never heard it before.
Mateo recovered first. He had stepped in front of Milko protectively and was extending a hand to yank Caleo to safety as well. Milko had dropped her head. Something was coming out of her nostrils, something gaseous, burning, and sulfuric. Also, some sort of chitin plates on her back were raised.
Caleo had frozen mid-squeal. Half of his tentacles were pointing up at varying angles, clearly just thrown sand up in the air. A few were digging sand out of his gelatinous body, and the rest had been threading the sand, making him half-sink inside the sand dune.
I couldn't help it. It was all so hilarious. I fell backward into the sand and roared in laughter. As I said, Mateo recovered first.
Mateo: That... that eldritch sound came from you?
Milko: Eldritch?
Mateo: Right. It's a handy word for something otherworldly, eerie, and unnatural that inspires immediate fear.
Milko: A good word working hard to convey a lot of meaning.
Mateo: Quite. Ouer, was that your laughter?
Ouer: Well, yes. Caleo looked so adorably funny, I couldn't help it!
Hardly had I said that when something sandy and sticky with way too many thin tentacles jumped on my unsuspecting and unprepared soft part. It was my turn to squeal shrilly. Except it came out more like a feeble yelp due to the tentacles pressing on my air-breathing organ.
I was stunned for a moment. A good thing I was. The child was obviously not attacking with menace but incredibly with joy. They were laughing in a way that distantly mimicked mine! Seeing that my other two friends' alarm converted into hilarity as well.
The sand was fun but the smell of salt water and the sound of the water moving rhythmically soon became irresistible. When we arrived at the point where the water started we all just looked at it in wonder. It was magical. It was soothing. Peaceful. Awe-inspiring. Home.
In the shallow, the water was turquoise and moved further into the sand and then back again in a gentle, slightly froth-edged movement. The water seemed to sparkle in the light of the sun. I was hypnotized.
Mateo: Those are waves! They're so...so... beautiful!
Ouer: Yes, that's the word I was looking for: waves!
Caleo: Ayeeeij!
We turned to look at Caleo who was waddling towards the water. He stopped at a place where the water was only a few centimeters deep.
Caleo: Ooooh, I like this moving water! And I like the water-sand that moves under me! C'mon, you slow people, come try this!
That was all the rest of us needed to join the kid. Mateo had quickly taken off most of his clothes and was wearing short pants. I had to fast intake a large amount of air when I saw the scars on his body.
I would never, ever, in any circumstance belittle anyone's trauma again like I did when we first met. How - just how - had he survived?
He joined Caleo in the shallow water, lifting his legs like a decapod crustacean, trying to bring wet sand up with his toes and throwing water on himself - and Caleo who happened to be near him. Caleo retaliated by sucking water in through their body and then squirting it on Mateo's face in a stream. A war ensued, one with water, wet sand, and laughter as weapons.
I looked at Milko. She stood timidly at the fringe of the water, just letting the very tips of her feet touch the water. She felt my gaze and looked a little embarrassed.
Milko: I don't think our planet has surface water in any meaningful quantities. We have mountains and meadows, valleys and small mountain brooks. And rocky desert galore. I'm also not sure if my form is compatible with floating.
Mateo: Neither is Ouer's. You could always dive and just come back up for short periods to take some air.
Milko: Brother, you don't swim either!
Mateo: No. But I can always stand and walk in shallow water. And I can sit in the water!
And that's when he plopped down to sit. The water splashed everywhere, even on Milko. I got some, too. That's when Milko charged right in front of Mateo, made herself as wide as possible, and splashed him really well when she plopped down to sit.
Mateo cleared the water from his face and laughed. But that was the moment the dragon girl had waited. She lifted and struck the water hard on her long, prehensile, and powerful tail. Mateo got a good spurt of salt water into his open mouth.
By then Milko had sprinted away. Mateo gave chase. But the two were laughing the entire time. It was just play.
I went to the shallow and let the waves wash my lower body. It was almost overwhelming. Caleo approached me and tapped my shell with one thin tentacle.
Caleo: I know. More water than you can understand. I had no words. I couldn't think, just feel.
We stood there together for several minutes, two aquatic beings, pondering things too big for our brains.
Caleo: Wanna go deeper?
Ouer: I'm afraid I go underwater completely and my gills won't work. I have never needed them before.
Caleo: Don't worry. Even if they don't work, you can hold your breath until you get up again.
Ouer: You are very smart.
Caleo: No, I'm dumb. No one says it here, but my owners did. All the time.
Ouer: They weren't your owners, Caleo. They were criminals, kidnappers, and slavers. Slavers of children, which makes them the worst of all slavers.
Caleo: What is kidnapping?
Ouer: Take a person away by force or by lying and not letting them go.
Caleo: They didn't do that. They bought my egg and made me. So I was theirs to do what they liked with.
Mateo: Is that what they said? They were lying to you. They didn't make you, Caleo. Your parents did.
Caleo: But maybe my parents gave ... sold...
Milko: That doesn't matter. Stolen, bought, kidnapped, cheated, found, incubated, whatever. You are a sapient being and sapient beings cannot be owned.
Mateo: Ouer was right: they didn't own you. They were illegally keeping you imprisoned, they hurt you and they forced you to work for them. They are scum.
Caleo: Scum?
Mateo: You know how trash comes to the surface of water? If you have really dirty, trashy, smelly, horrible water, what comes to the surface of that? The most horrible of the horrible? That is scum.
Caleo let out a peal of surprised laughter. We all joined. Then we all went a little deeper into the water. Caleo suddenly disappeared from view to our alarm. But soon I could see them swooshing here and there, propelled by their tentacles. I pointed them to Mateo and Milko.
I approached the deep carefully. The more of my body I got under water the better I felt. The buoyancy of the water made me feel a lot more graceful. A lot less monsterlike.
At some point, I realized I was getting oxygen from the water when my gills were still above it.
Ouer: Mateo and Milko, why am I breathing water without my gills?!
Milko: I read about this. Many beings like you can breathe through your skin. And your gills double as a sort of mouth.
Ouer: Mouth?!? You're not serious!
Mateo: It's true. If you are in a body of water that has food particles, your gills trap those small particles. You are quite remarkable, Ouer!
Ouer: Can you come with me to the deep water? I'm a little apprehensive still...
Mateo; I would love to ... but ... I don't know how to swim...
Ouer: Oh, I'm sorry I asked.
Mateo: It's nothing. I mean...it doesn't matter.
Caleo: Ouer! Ouer! Ouer! Come and swim with me!
Mateo: Go on, Ouer! Go have fun!
And fun I had! I started to feel like these people could be trusted. Mainly because they genuinely wanted to give me and Caleo a wonderful day. And they asked no questions or even hinted that I should now reciprocate somehow.
I slept so well after that day. I only wondered if our planet used to be like that. I also wondered if my parents experienced water like that.
And slowly I started to feel some hope for the future. Maybe my people could find a watery home. Live and not only exist.
÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷¢÷
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2023.05.30 05:48 The_Alloquist [A Lord of Death] - Chapter 48

[←Chapter 47] [Cover Art] [My Links] [Index] [Discord] [Subreddit] [Chapter 49→]
The blade forging left Sorore exhausted, the failure left her frustrated, and the cold gave way to fear as the night drew closer. As day faded into dusk, she reflected on a morning that had been as full of ups and downs as the mountain paths they’d travelled. The very fact that she had been able to use magic, that it had crashed from the realm of fairy tales and church warnings into the very real everyday occurrence was already an earth shattering experience.
Then she’d moved water with a thought, seen monsters fall from the sky, and watched the paladins cleaving them in two. Her head spun with the strangeness of it all, the sheer onset of fanciful things blurring and mixing together with reality. She began to wonder what else might be true, of the fairy tales in the myth she had heard on the seas in her father’s ship. Of the old folk stories of Erratz, often dismissed as nothing more than old wive’s tales.
A new world had opened up before her, and she wasn't sure to be fascinated or terrified of it. Certainly the paladins didn't want any part of it, and they certainly didn't want her to be involved. And from everything she knew of the church scripture, they were absolutely right. She felt the danger, the power of the matter, and knew that it was only a small fraction of what it could do. She even felt a certain degree of fear towards the masked man in the black robes, as respectful as he had been as a tutor.
At least he didn't use a switch to reminder of when she had failed.
But even in the murk of her disquiet in that moment, she also felt a smouldering frustration underlying it. The knife had been hers, her project, her duty, and she had resolutely failed to craft it. Part of her shifted the blame elsewhere - it was a new technique she had picked up over the course of an afternoon. Efrain himself had said as much, even going as far to say that he hadn’t expected her to do it.
Now that was something she didn’t like at all. When people expected her to fail, despite all her efforts.
However, that resolution meant little now, given that she had been excused from the effort. At least now the mage had the basic shape to work on. She let her hand drift on the rough stone walls of the church. Thousands of individual perfections, many thousands of years old, the stone functioning despite it. Perhaps it would be enough, the basic, overall function, but she recalled all the pittances and channels carved in her vision of the knife.
She knew what was driving the doubt. It was curiosity, that sticking bug that clung to her, despite all her prayers to the contrary. She just couldn’t seem to shake it, despite the ‘assistance’ of church teachers when it reared its head particularly high. She had expected the snap across the palms from Efrain when he drew that piece of wood. It had been a relief when he’d tossed it over his shoulder.
The thought was an unworthy one, she immediately considered. She should’ve been grateful to the various priests and scholars who’d spent years teaching the twins. Some had even prepared their entire lives, just on the chance they’d meet the beloved Bequeathed. If they were strict, then so be it, it was for the sake of preparing her and Frare for their duties.
The church was once more a buzz of activity as people prepared for the night ahead. She and Lillian found their way to the altar, attracting only minor glances. The villagers clearly had gotten used to their presence, although some offered a respectful and perhaps wary gaze for Lillian. One of Frare’s eyes opened as they approached, but he quickly returned to his half-rest leaning on a pillar. Aya was still very much asleep, chest gently rising and falling under the furs where Sorore had left her.
Sorore sat on the wide steps, put her chins on her hands, and began to think. It was a rather dangerous proposition, considering her recent failure. She had a tendency to ruminate on them, and often her twin would find her staring plaintively before loudly disrupting it. This time was no different, as before anything but impotent frustration could boil over, he plopped down behind her back.
“Stop that,” he said, “I can hear your teeth beginning to grind.”
She leaned back to lie upon his lap, despite the admonishment she heard in her head about proper sitting position. His eyes were closed again, and she followed suit, letting the minutes wile away as night crept into the word. She was shaken out of this reverie by a loud pop and Aya’s yelp. The girl was both mid yawn and bright red as both the paladins and the twins turned to look at her. She insisted that she was fine, and took to straightening her clothes subconsciously.
It was a mere temporary distraction for Sorore, who was largely engrossed in considering the knife. Rather than merely wallowing in her problems, she was invested in its function. She could almost see the stone parting before her, revealing the source of that smothering cold behind the door. Maybe if she had tried one more time, maybe if she reduced the complexity of the form, then increased when she got the basic shape. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
It was all of very little use. She was inside her head once again, at a complete loss of what to do. Maybe, within the grand archives of Angorrah, the answer was contained in a dusty scroll. Some offhand fact or technique of forging, long forgotten in the darkness of the shelves. But these were several weeks of travel away, and she wasn’t sure that she’d see the next sunrise. So then, what could she do to get them to bridge that gap? Just one more day, that’s all they needed, to hold out until the next sunrise.
Nothing. That was the simple truth of it - she was a lost little girl in a small village surrounded by terrible things. The thought was not a comforting one, and she wriggled, trying to nestle deeper into the legs of her twin. Aya by that point had come to sit down beside them, looking greyer as the dark came on. No wonder, for she knew she all felt the chill roll forward as the fog waxed in the night.
Another meal of common fare came and went, though Sorore noted that many soldiers were taking care with it. Perhaps it was common practice, to relish what very well may be your last meal. For her part she found it rather difficult to keep it down, the coming dread of the hours ahead offsetting her appetite.
The faces of the paladins had settled into that implacable, stoney cast once more. They quietly rebandaged their injuries, readjusted their armour, and set to sharpening their great blades with long deliberate strokes. Sorore idly thought that their sleeping faces were significantly more pleasant, if rarer to see. Thus it was that they crossed over into the late afternoon, where the light was quickly fading.
“I would like to take one last little walk,” Aya spoke up, “before… you know.”
The paladins looked up, their eyes twisting with barely veiled misapprehension at the request.
“My lady…” Lillian began.
“We can’t,” Niche said, “Not now. Not so close to dark.”
“Just barely outside the door,” said Aya, “Just so I can see something other than the church. Just to stretch my legs.”
The paladins looked at each other, looked back, and set their faces.
“Well, I suppose it can be accommodated,” Lillian said, “only just outside the church, and only for a few minutes.”
Her tone warned of dire consequences if these conditions should not be strictly adhered to. The children all collectively nodded and the party of five set out past the doors. The barricades within the church had grown in size and strength, at least as far as Sorore could judge. The villagers, under the supervision of the soldiers, had proven diligent in the daylight hours. She could only hope that it would be enough for the onset of the creatures, should they breach the church.
She had a dread certainty that it would indeed be breached, sooner or later. Though she hadn’t heard of any specifics, whispers of just how many of the things lurked outside were passed around. It was a small stroke of fortune that the windows were narrow and ensconced in stone. The last thing they needed was one of the flying beasts to crash through the glass.
The faint red-pink cast to the grey outside was beginning to fade into blackness as the sun shrank. Occasionally, the banks of fog would strip away, revealing the abominable silhouettes standing still past the wall. They would close just as quickly, removing any clarity, and leaving only the icy fear in its place. The remaining soldiers and villagers watched them with anxiety and exhaustion.
The garden around the front of the church was almost non-existent. Most of the flowers had been trampled either in preparation for or during the course of the battle. The only things left relatively untouched were the central beds around the side of the church, which grew produce for its tenants. Some trees still stood, showing minimal damage from the fog and its creatures.
The five ducked under the boughs of the closest one to the doors. The additional chill brought by its shade was a trifling concern at the present. The green, muted as it was by the overcast sky beyond, was a lively anchor in the cold, dead mists. Such was the comfort of the place that Soroe let herself lean back onto the bark of the tree and eyes drift closed.
The trunk was solid, a comforting sensation that seemed to offset the malevolence of the fog.
Enough so that Sorore began to wander the netherworld of half-sounds and sights that characterised pre-sleep. They all wandered with her, some staying, some peeling off, guided by their own demented logic. Little and less was coherent, but it took her away from the horrible reality of what lurked a few hundred steps away all the same.
She fell deeper into this other-state, letting the visions wash over her as the real world slipped away. Time became a mercurial concept, which led her to question when exactly everything had settled. But settled it had, into a hazy blackness which the eye could not pierce. There, in the distance, a bright ribbon of twisting warm color glowed. A piece of fresh-forged metal perhaps, the day’s task going straight to her head. Or maybe it was the remnants of another dream that day, one that was already a blurry memory.
From a great distance, she heard a crash, unmistakable in its ringing clarity. A forge hammer singing out a song of its own, for now merely a rhythm. It shifted in tone as it rang out through the abyss once more, adding progression, then melody, all written in singing steel. Sorore’s fingers began to drum out the sequence on her thighs as she felt it reverberate through her. Then, with a sliding screech, she was left alone in the half-dream, with nothing but darkness remaining.
Still, the bright memory of the song remained, and in the darkness another voice took shape. It was a deep, rich, and handsome sound, that spoke of a confidence of such immensity that you were convinced its wielder could do anything. Sorore had never heard the likes of it before, either on the docks, or in cities, or on the open waves.
“Come now,” it said, “this little thing is giving you trouble?”
Sorore’s eyes slowly open, pulling her from the dreamscape back into the dreariness of the real. Aya had her knees pulled to her chest, leaning back into the trunk. The paladins, tired but alert, scanned the endlessly shifting banks of fog.
Sorore had a fleeting impression that the answers were just beyond the pale mists. Maybe something would come through, parting it like thin curtains, and impart the inspiration she needed. Or maybe a whole set of schematics will drop into my lap from the sky, she thought with dark irony.
The vision was quickly fading into the abyss of forgetfulness. Perhaps Aya had shared it once more with her, but she was in conversation with the paladins. Not wanting to interrupt, Sorore looked at her outstretched legs. Past them were a handful of leaves that had fallen despite the summer of the valley, with a couple long decomposed to nothing but their skeletons.
She reached out to grasp at the leaves, looking at the yellow-grey veins that raced across its surface. The large ones spread from the central stem and the hundreds of smaller capillaries that interconnected them. Holding up to the sky, she screwed her face, trying to discern the details of this piece of nature. After a few moments of tepid stillness, the clouds parted for just a moment, letting a ray of sunlight lance down to catch their hill in its beam.
For a second, the leaf seemed to glow, shimmering like metal catching glare.
And Sorore had her inspiration.
With that, she sprang to her feat so fast that one of the paladins almost jumped. Both looked around with questioning and slightly alarmed expressions. Sorore didn’t have much of an answer - in fact her mind was going so fast that she could hardly even articulate the solution that had been revealed to her.
“The- the- the-” she said, snapping her fingers, trying to put words to the idea, “I know what to do. I need to find him.”
“Find who? The mage?” asked Lillian.
The fiery certainty of the thought sent Sorore tramping out onto the grass, leading to calls from the paladins to slow down. She didn’t bother to wait for them, consumed by this need to find the mage, the knife, to try again.
The forge was more or less empty, save for the few labourers packing up the tools and ferrying them into the church proper. With a furious set of questions, she gleaned that he’d vacated the premises some time ago. The paladins called for her to stop as she doubled back, but she couldn’, not now.
The scenery seemed to blur as she rushed through the church doors, past the bustling barricades, and to the captain’s tables. A somewhat perturbed Damafelce told the young girl that Efrain had been seen entering the door at the end of the church. With that, Sorore broke out into a run, past the altar, through the door and down into the darkness of the Catacombs.
She stepped out onto the sand floor, the members of her party at her heels as she tried to seek out the path to the black wall. She stumbled more than once as she felt her way along in the darkness, fortunately with no skeletal interruptions this time. Down the stairs and into the long corridor she came, the smothering cold increasing as she pushed forward.
As she had surmised, Efrain was there, just about to start whatever process pried apart the stone. The tip of the blade was raised, pressed into the stone above his head. He turned at the approaching footsteps, cocking his head at the lack of isolation. Sorore didn’t even wait for him to say something, instead thrusting out her head for the crude metal knife.
“ I know- I can- I can do it now,” she said, breathless from the long run from the surface.
Delicately, Efrain removed the metal from the stone, and looked down at her. There seemed to be a questioning quality to the look, at least as far as she could read the emotionless mask. He looked at the cat, then back to the girl, and then to the rest of her party.
“How?” he said, “ If I let you undo this, we may not have enough time to recreate it before the attacks begin.”
“Leaves,” she said, putting a hand on the wall to steady herself as her lungs complained, “it- was the leaves.”
“The… leaves?” he said, “ All right. Stop, take a few breaths, and start from the beginning.”
And so she did, explaining how she sat under the bows of the trees, the half-awake dreaming, and the skeleton of the leaf.
“I got it. I was trying to build the whole thing out myself, all at once,” she said, stumbling over her words, “instead of letting nature do what it wants. The metal wants to come together - I don’t need to force it into its final shape. I just need to build a- a-”
She snapped her fingers at the air, trying to reach past this new blank as Efrain regarded the knife.
“You want to build a frame,” he said, “and let the metal fill in the rest of the empty space.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he turned over the knife, hilt first, to the girl.
“Well then,” he said, “let’s hope you know what you’re doing.”
She did, or at least she hoped she did this time. Within moments, the metal was flowing over her hands like a cold stream, but instead of trying to sculpt it, she began to spin filaments outwards. Like the skeleton of the leaf, little veins of metal stretched outwards, stopping abruptly, and folding back into themselves. If it had been hard before, it was now brutal, the smothering cold dragging at every attempt to shape the material.
Hands trembling, sweat beginning to bead on her forehead, she managed to split the metal into dark fingers. All she had to do was resist gravity and prevent it spilling over the imaginary bounds of the shape. From those dark fingers, snaking vines spread out and connected with each other. Slowly, slowly, branching and arcing, they filled in the skeleton she’d created and fused.
The final product wasn’t altogether too different from what they’d created during the afternoon. The shape, a heavy chisel tip, tapering out to twin furls like a plough, a longer tang. Sorore, half blind by stinging salt, didn’t fail to notice swirling furrows spreading across its surface. She had no idea how she’d managed to etch those designs, or perhaps the metal remembered, just as the stone did.
“Well,” said the mage at last, “suffice to say, I am impressed. Now, hold it up.”
She did so, despite the exhaustion of her arms, the tip wavering as his finger touched its point.
There was a rush of something, extending over the surface of the blade, stopping just short of her hand. It was like a coat of mail had been pulled taught, the links aligning at the same time, snapping together in a regular structure. From the tip of the chisel, down to the tang, the metal shuddered and settled. By the time it disappeared under her grip, it was rigid as any steel tool.
The mage gently took it from her, holding the blade up to that little flickering light above his head. Flicking it this way and that, he seemed to find whatever he was looking for, and pressed the tip to the wall. Sorore, despite her fatigue, was practically exploding with excitement. She’d done it, not only conquering the task, but she was about to see what was behind those dark walls.
Then, before he pressed the blade into the stone and drew it down, he paused.
“Paladins,” he said, voice quiet, “it would be best to take the children back into the church.”
Lillian frowned and put a hand onto her hilt as she stared at the door.
“What?” said Sorore, aghast, “ But I-”
“No buts,” said Efrain, “we don’t know what’s behind this door. It may be dangerous, it may not. But I strongly suspect it’s not something you would want to see. Very well done, little one, but this is something I should deal with on my own.”
The tone of academic authority was not an unfamiliar one to Sorore. But unlike in virtually all other occasions in her life, she attempted to object. Before she could speak more than a few words, Lillian took her by the shoulders, her mind apparently made up. All three of them were carted up the stairs as barely contained rage began to bubble up inside her.
“Do you think we should…?” said Niche, gesturing to the surrounding stone.
“No, not yet,” Lillian said, “putting aside everything else, we still might need him.”
Niche nodded and said no more.
They had made a steady pace, overtaking half the hallway as the scream of metal on stone echoed out. It was followed by a grating rumble as presumably the doors opened. If the temperature below the surface was cold when they came, the resulting drop was freezing. The mist that rose up behind them whispered things in long mournful sighs as the surroundings began to buzz with what must’ve been magic.
Then, from up the stairs there was a long, terrible wail.
[←Chapter 47] [Cover Art] [My Links] [Index] [Discord] [Subreddit] [Chapter 49→]
submitted by The_Alloquist to redditserials [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 04:01 Bobcatnewman Review: Makers Mark Wood Finishing Series: 2019-2023

Review: Makers Mark Wood Finishing Series: 2019-2023
Once I picked up the 2023 Wood Finishing Series Release, and knowing it’s the final one, I wanted to compare them all. I’m not the greatest taster, and, tasting 7 bottles in one sitting, the notes get less descriptive and more commentative. I used the t8ke ratings; additionally, I did decide to rank them, which is below: 1) 23-BEP 2) 22-BRT-02 3) 22-BRT-01 4) 21-FAE-01 5) 19-RC6 6) 21-FAE-02 7) 20-SE4xPR5
Without further ado, my reviews of the MM Wood Finishing Series:
2019-RC6 108.2
Color: medium amber, lighter caramel; typical Makers Nose: candied orange, toasted sugar, mild oakiness, slight spice in the back Palate: sweet at the beginning, then fades into a slight baking spice, almost spice-cake like; the oak comes through towards the end, with a slight burn Finish: baking spice returns, oily on throat, but not as thick in the finish; slight burn; mid-linger Rating: 7.2
2020-SE4xPR5 110.8
Color: medium amber; maybe slightly lighter than 2019 Nose: baking spice and caramel at the front, then it lingers into an oaky-vanilla; finishes with a familiar wheaty bourbon makers nose Palate: oaky, straight up; has some background of the vanilla and the creamy caramel the label says exists, but this is a sweeter, oaky Makers Finish: sort of drops off; has the oily sweet spice at the start, but then just stops Rating: 6.4
2021-FAE-01 110.3
Color: looks like makers… Nose: sweet, fruity, towards the end, maybe more leathery and earthy (in a good way), and a touch of wood Palate: a sort of burnt sugar on an apricot; a darker fruit with some deep sugar; fades into a woody, leathery, tobacco (probably the most spot on of the makers label descriptions) Finish: thicker, deep flavor; a nice burn that lingers (the forelorned “Kentucky hug”); nice and oily on the throat Rating: 8.1
2021-FAE-02 109.1
Color: lightest of the first 4; light amber Nose: dark: darker fruit, darker sugar, darker oak; has a slight sweetness that is coming through, but definitely oaky Palate: Oak! Definitely can taste the oak staves; adds a nice flavor of deep, dark notes, almost woody, but thins out (in a good way) to an almost creamy dark caramel Finish: thin in the mouth, and less oily than the priors; oaky sensation on the back of the tongue; little linger Rating: 7.1
2022-BRT-01 109.4
Color: medium amber, lighter caramel; typical Makers Nose: toasted marshmallow, burnt sugar on the front; light crème brûlée on the back with some woodiness Palate: toasted marshmallow again; nice deep, dark sugary notes; an oakiness, sort of like a camp fire; thick on the mouth the entire time Finish: oily and thick from start to finish; sweet but not too sweet; oaky, but not overly woody; warming going down and a nice long finish Rating: 8.7
2022-BRT-02 109.4
Color: darkest so far; caramel, maybe burned caramel Nose: best nose so far; dark fruit and deep burnt sugars; toasted bread; little spice throughout, but balances, isn’t pronounced Palate: fruits on the front (reminiscent of a four roses SBBS); dark sweetness, almost like a chocolate covered caramel with some nutmeg on the top Finish: chocolate note comes through in the back of the throat; medium linger, nice, pleasant warmth Rating: 8.9
2023-BEP 110.7
Color: light caramel; medium brown Nose: sweet caramel with baking spices; fruity on the end, almost light and fruity; maybe marzipan? Palate: sweet and spicy (in the best, most balanced way); a caramel covered spice cake, with caramelized fruit on top; tastes like a dessert menu, but not in an overly sweet way Finish: oily, mouth coating; plenty warm, but doesn’t burn, just coats the mouth; a nice long linger…does make you wish the entire wood finishing series was like this one Rating: 9
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2023.05.30 03:30 Logical_Cellist_3472 What would this haircut/hairstyle be called? What kind of fade and length would this roughly be?

What would this haircut/hairstyle be called? What kind of fade and length would this roughly be? submitted by Logical_Cellist_3472 to malehairadvice [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 02:48 forsbergisgod Help on the Way - Your Weekly Listening Thread - 12/2/81 - Champaign-Urbana, IL - Assembly Hall - Bertha (opener) - China>Rider (set 2 closer) - Stranger>Franklins>Sailor>Saint (set 2 suite) - Never Trust a Woman (rarity)

Welcome to another installment of your weekly listening thread, Help on the Way!!
But first, u/donttouchthatknob, u/thegame310, and I are super thrilled to bring you SEASON TWO of the PODCAST portion of the HoTW project!!
Each week we discuss the random weekly show (as well as dead related news, etc) and then air at least one set of the weekly show right after the discussion.
Also we'll feature the best reddit comments so please make sure to drop your comments below!!
Here's the link to the most recent pod:
Vinced Away One
Onto this week's show! After a mid nineties/late 69 stint the project sends us back to the Brent Era for what looks like a killer show!
Here's the miller SBD:
https://archive.org/details/gd1981-12-02.sbd.miller.108842.flac16
This AUD has good reviews as well:
https://archive.org/details/gd81-12-02.senn421.munder.9595.sbeok.shnf
And the (killer) set:
Bertha > Greatest Story Ever Told ; Peggy-O ; Mama Tried > Mexicali Blues ; Brown Eyed Women ; Passenger ; Never Trust A Woman ; Cumberland Blues > Looks Like Rain ; China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
Two
Feel Like A Stranger > Franklin's Tower > Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance > Terrapin Station > Drums > Space > Not Fade Away > Stella Blue > Around And Around > Good Lovin'
Encore
Don't Ease Me In
Tickets and Miracles
Remember, the weekly HOtW show is COMPLETELY RANDOMIZED. It's like we MST3K ourselves. Willingly. For Fun!
A run down about this serendipity powered project can be found here:
http://www.reddit.com/gratefuldead/comments/2fqahw/z/cke00lq
ENJOY THE SHOW and PLEASE DROP A COMMENT!
The best comments/show reactions will be featured on the pod!
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2023.05.30 02:44 Ok-Reputation-30 What to do with my hair and facial hair.

What to do with my hair and facial hair.
So, I am thinking about changing up my look and need some advice. Currently I look closer to the pic with the Metallica shirt (more of a mustache and goatee) and the other pic of me in the suit is my wedding look back in December. I usually do a side part skin fade as my haircut but I’m pretty getting tired of it. Any suggestions?
submitted by Ok-Reputation-30 to malegrooming [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 01:11 Patient_Effect_1916 34 [M4F] #Georgia - Looking For a Needle In a Haystack

Seeking consistent and available partner (pic in profile)

Height: 5’9

Weight: 170 pounds.

Employment status: employed

Appearance: Athletic-muscular toned physique, mid-faded haircut, shaped and tamed beard, glass-of-honey complexion.

Style: Zara mixed with business casual look.

Residence status: I own a detached home and have transportation.

Interests: hiking, exploring, movie theaters, museums, stock market, novels, real estate, podcasts, sports cars, geopolitics, history, broad world-views, target. If interested, continue reading..

What I am looking for: I have a strong preference toward brown women but open to others if chemistry is there. Specifically, you take care of yourself (hwp and clean appearance). Ranges of body types that I’m attracted to are from petite to chubby waist with a cute face. However, no bbw. No tattoos (or very minimal). No existing children, as I do not have any myself. DDF,(I've attempted to exempt weed in the past but it is too ingrained in the person's day-to-day, thus not a good fit for me but no judgement). Suitable age range: 20-26.

Desires: Trad beliefs, open to casual MFF (as I have a high libido, not deal breaker). Ultimately, I'm looking for someone that is selfless, has her own thoughts/opinions while respecting mine, can read my needs the same way I would read hers. So there should be a degree of self-awareness.

Supplemental wish list: Ideally, you’d live near the Atlanta area or have means to travel. I’d be willing to travel within a reasonable distance. Maybe you’re more partial to wine versus (beeliquor) kind of woman. You furnish a sense of thriftiness. You enjoy various cuisines and have an open-minded view of the world. Sexually, you like being initiated but don’t mind initiating.

Wrapping up: More importantly, you want to meet in person, have conversations and eventually fulfill each other’s needs/provide companionship. Maybe see if it can advance further if we have the same long-term interests but I subsist alone well. Thanks for making it this far. Serious inquiries only ;DO NOT contact if you are lonely and want someone to talk to, need an emotional crutch, or soliciting services. Apologies for the directness. Please reply in the following format below. Lets limit small talk to keep it interesting. Hope to hear from you soon.

Age:

Favorite book or favorite Netflix series:

A picture (If you are comfortable, I have a pic in profile):
submitted by Patient_Effect_1916 to AgeGapPersonals [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 00:46 Initial-Instruction9 Peace Out micro needling patches?

So I have experienced acne for my first time. I’m in my mid twenties with terrible and painful hormonal acne from the side of my mouth to my chin. It is improving from being very committed to healing it but I have a lot of redness and some scarring. I have a mini of the Topicals Faded serum coming and the Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence en route. I also love the Dr. Jart Cicapair masks I got at TJ Maxx. But now these patches are catching my eye! All the reviews were incentivized/gifted. I also ❤️ drug store products if there’s a comparable patch. I thought these sounded unique and wanted to know if any of you have tried them!
submitted by Initial-Instruction9 to Sephora [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 00:44 Avalanche3124 Bryce Miller 1st Refractor FS

Bryce Miller 1st Refractor FS
Good evening,
Asking $15 shipped PWE for this Bryce Miller refractor.
Thanks for checking out the post!
submitted by Avalanche3124 to baseballcards [link] [comments]


2023.05.30 00:40 WolfBoii313 Yo! I’m getting a haircut tomorrow, %99 sure i’m getting a buzz cut. Should i have it faded? I’ve been getting fades and they look pretty good but I want to not deal with my hair.

Yo! I’m getting a haircut tomorrow, %99 sure i’m getting a buzz cut. Should i have it faded? I’ve been getting fades and they look pretty good but I want to not deal with my hair. submitted by WolfBoii313 to malehairadvice [link] [comments]