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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
post Feb 20 2021, 06:03 AM
Post #361

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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds

Acadian: I worked a lot on that fight. How to use the location. And how to use wings in combat. The latter is going to become a staple for January moving forward.

Renee: Decrepit would appreciate the decrepitude.

The Raven Mocker is something out of the real world monster manual. It is a creature of Cherokee folklore. I have been trying to use monsters from real mythology and folklore whenever I can, to give the story some grounding in the real world.

I cheated a little. The You Won't Make It Out Of Here Alive pic was from Northville, another closed and abandoned asylum here in the Detroit. So was that pic of the nurse's station. But they both added some nice flavor.

Raven Mocker's in Cherokee lore

Cherokee Traditional Dress

Andrew Jackson & the Trail of Tears

Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

Chapter 6.14 - Eloise

The mocker reeled back, gushing energy into the astral like a sieve. It collapsed to the floor, and tried to crawl away. But it did not get far. Jan moved in for the kill, prepared to send her wings into a rending fury. She allowed one to hack through the x-ray viewer as she passed by it, and it disintegrated into a cloud of steel and glass.

"Cruel, cruel white woman." The raven mocker's voice was a dry rattle. "Evil woman hurts me, evil woman kills me."

"I am not the monster here," January stood over the raven mocker now, wings ready to tear it asunder.

"Are you not, white woman?" the monster coughed. "Always whites kill those that are different. Always you say you are not the monster."

January heard a different cough and wheeze come from across the building. She stared up through the floor and across the abandoned structure. With her astral senses, she could see old Mr. Henry crawling to his overturned wheelchair, and struggle to right it onto its wheels. Then she stared back down at the raven mocker, who now lay prostrate before her.

Exactly how she had found the raven mocker looming over the old man, just minutes before.

"Blood Raven's on the way," Gadget's voice came in her ear. "I'm looking in the Bestiary, and it says raven mockers are invisible, except to people with the special sight. I guess that's your astral sight. It says they eat the hearts of people who are near death, and they devour the years they had remaining. That sounds backward to me. If you needed to steal the years off someone else's life to add to your own, wouldn't you want to go after someone with a lot of time left, like a kid?"

"Anyway, it says that just being seen by a medicine worker will cause a raven mocker to die in seven days. But Blood Raven's got a little note here, that says take that with a gigantic grain of salt. She says these old legends are just that: legends and folklore. Reality can be very different."

January looked back and forth between the raven mocker and Mr. Henry. The old man was still struggling with righting his wheelchair. Clearly, he did not have many years left. If the folklore was correct, he was definitely the preferred target of the mocker. He had to be her first priority.

She moved to the hole in the ceiling, and kept a careful eye on the raven mocker as she did. But the creature was quiet. It lay there in the astral, aura fading noticeably. It was as if the battle had taken all of its remaining energy, and now it had none remaining.

"I will come back for you," January said to it, "and we will talk, just talk."

January took a chance, and turned her back on the monster. She allowed her wings to fade back into her cape. Then she leaped up into the floor above, and walked through shattered walls. The muscles in her back tensed up, just waiting for the raven mocker's claws to come lancing in at any moment. But the creature did not attack. January could still smell it below, lurking in the darkness. Finally she was back in the room with Mr. Henry.

"Stormcrow, I don't want to be Johnny Killjoy here, but shouldn't you just kill it now, the old-fashioned way?" Gadget ventured. "Everything I see on these creatures says that they're evil, pure and simple."

"That's what everything says about you and me too," January reminded him. "That's why you wanted me to come out in the first place. To show it's not true."

"Yeah, I get where you are going. Just because people say we are evil, doesn't mean we are. Ergo, just because people say someone else is, it doesn't mean they are either." Gadget walked through the line of reasoning that had already taken root in January's mind. "But sometimes they really are evil, like Nazis. That thing was trying to kill that guy and eat his heart after all."

"I know what you are saying," January replied. "And I know I'm going to have this same conversation with Blood Raven in a few minutes. So let's save it for then."

"Not in a few minutes," Blood Raven's voice came over the communications link. "Destroy that creature now. It is altogether evil."

January shut down her comm link rather than reply. She was not going to get into an argument in front of an injured old man. Instead she reached down to help him into the wheelchair. He dusted himself off, then stared up at her with a regarding eye.

"So you're the one making all the stir then?" his voice wavered like a feather in the wind. "The boy who wants to be a girl? Well you tell 'em what for sonny, or girlie, or whatever. Like we told Chairman Mao back in '51!"

"I will sir," January said respectfully.

"You got balls son, I'll say that," he went on. "Well, I guess maybe not. Do you know what's going on here? 'Cause I sure and shite think there was a ghost back there that was trying eat me."

"It wasn't a ghost," January insisted. She knelt down before him, and made sure his legs were tucked firmly away on their footrests, and his arms on the chair's handles. Then she lifted him up, wheelchair and all, and looked down the hole she had punched through half the floors of the building. "It was the undead spirit of a Native American medicine worker..."

"Which I guess is a ghost," she admitted with a shrug of her shoulders.

Mr. Henry's eyes started when January lifted him in the air. But she put on what she hoped was a reassuring smile and a wink in return.

"Don't worry, I do this sort of thing all the time," she said. "We're taking the express elevator down."

"Don't let my wife see," he groused. "She'll never let me hear the end of it, getting picked up by another lady..."

"I can keep a secret," January smiled.

January leaped off into space. The wind caressed her as she dropped through floor after floor. Then she hit bottom, and absorbed the shock of the fall with her knees. She made sure they bent to absorb the impact, and that none of it was transferred into the old man. Once down, she briefly considered setting down the wheelchair. Then she thought better of it, and simply bounded down the hall and around the corner with the old man still firmly ensconced in her arms. She did not set him down until they were at the exit, and rolled him out into the welcoming arms of the police and paramedics.

A cheer rose up from the paranormal tourists, who were gathered around a police car sipping coffee and battling with their phones. January allowed herself a genuine smile. But she did not wait around for more. Instead she leaped back into the building. She raced back up to where she had left the raven mocker. She did not create any new holes in the building, but she did make liberal use of those already there.

"Come to finish it then?" the raven mocker said in a creaking, feminine voice. She almost sounded like Katherine Herpburn. "Just like Andrew Jackson?"

"Andrew who?" January wondered aloud? There were a lot of Jacksons, like Janet, but that was not one she could recall.

"He was the great champion of your people," the raven mocker said. "He drove us from our lands, onto the Trail of Tears. In spite of how even your own Supreme Court said that it was wrong. He made me, after a fashion, on that trail. He murdered us all..."

"So you were a person once?" January turned her comm link back on with a tap of a finger upon Sága's screen. "A Native American?"

"A native what?" the raven mocker crackled. "What nonsense is that? I am Gola. I am a medicine worker of the Keetoowah People. Or at least I was, before I died."

"How did you die Gola?" January probed.

"Slowly," the raven mocker murmured. "One breath at a time, one step at a time, one hunger pang at a time. Until finally I could walk no more, breathe no more, feel no more. Then the ravens came for me..."

"And you became... this?" January asked. Gola's voice felt realer now, like a solid thing that existed in the mundane world, rather than simply a conveyance of thoughts and ideas across the astral. January allowed her awareness to slip from the magical world entirely, and back to the physical. She saw before her an old woman with long gray hair and dark eyes. She wore a wraparound skirt of what looked like deerskin, with an under-fringe of beads and feathers. Moccasins of soft leather were laced up to her knees, and decorated with seed-beads. Her torso was covered by a short-sleeved calico blouse of bright colors, held close by a woven belt and pinned with a carved broach. Multiple layers of necklaces of bone, horn, and shells hung from her neck, and here earlobes were adorned with shell earrings.

"I am me," Gola responded. "When did you become, asegi udanto?"

The old woman, for she looked like nothing more than that now, gestured with a hand at January.

"I always have been," January did not understand the term, but got the distinct impression that Gola was not referring to her armor and cape, but rather to her gender and sexuality. Or maybe she meant both the combination of her womanhood, and the armor and cape. Things that January imagined a woman of the 19th Century would not associate with one another.

"For me it is the same," Gola proclaimed. "I have always been me. When I died, I became more, and less. Like you, I am asegi, just in another way."

"Asegi?" January asked.

"Not like others..." Gola seemed to hunt for words. "Not one or the other... in between... queer."

January stared at the raven mocker. She wondered if the creature could sense that she was transgender or a lesbian. Granted, all she had to do was turn on a phone or TV to know that. Was creature, or monster, even the right way for her to think of Gola? Wasn't that exactly what so many people were referring to her as right now?

"I can see her on the video now," Gadget voice was back in her ear. "So she can be visible, when she wants to be."

"You kill people," January stated plainly. "You were about to kill that man."

"Everything I read about raven mockers is bad," Gadget noted. "Not just what Blood Raven wrote in the Bestiary. Every mythology and folklore site says the same thing. At best, they kill people to extend their existence. At worst... well it gets a lot worse."

"I do what I must," Gola said. It was almost as if she had heard Gadget's words. "Do you not kill? What did you eat for dinner today? Deer? Cow? Even bread was once a living stalk of wheat, and maize a living being. How much life have you devoured out to survive?"

"That's different," January insisted.

"No!" Gola cried, "No different! Only different because you do not wish to admit we are the same!"

"I don't kill people," January declared. "That's a whole lot different from killing an ear of corn."

"Have you asked the maize that?" Gola said. "All life is imbued with sacred energy. All life is divine. But in order for life to continue, it must feed on other life. This is the natural order of things. There is always the sacrifice. It must be made, or nothing can survive."

January of course recognized the words of Joseph Campbell, even if heavily paraphrased. She had read the Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine after all. She remembered what Campbell had said. "Life lives on life. This is the sense of the symbol of the Ouroboros, the serpent biting its tail. Everything that lives lives on the death of something else. Your own body will be food for something else. Anyone who denies this, anyone who holds back, is out of order. Death is an act of giving."

"That's an awfully convenient ideology for someone who commits murder," Gadget noted dryly.

"Why is it whenever people start talking about 'the natural order of things', it is usually an excuse for their terrible behavior?" January frowned.

"Go ahead, kill me then..." Gola - the old woman - tottered to her feet and stepped forward. She held her chin up, exposing her throat to January. "Sacrifice me for your natural order, just like Jackson."

"I am not just like him," January insisted. "I don't want any of this. But I can't let you just roam around killing people."

"Does she really have to kill people?" Gadget asked. "I mean, in lots of books vampires will feed off animals instead of people."

January noted that Blood Raven was saying nothing over the comm link now. Gadget did not know about her being a vampire of course. That was not a bombshell that January would just casually drop on anyone. Besides, as she had told Mr. Henry, she could keep a secret.

"You mentioned cows and deer before," January said to Gola, "can you take their years instead?

The old woman stared at January, and cocked her head sideways.

"Cows? Deer?" her voice creaked. "What is this nonsense?"

"It's not nonsense," January insisted. "Have you ever tried?"

"Of course not!" Gola argued. "The raven folk must feed on human years."

"Says who?" January retorted. "I have spent my entire life doing what people say I must not. I'd have killed myself otherwise. Have you tried?"

"Nay," Gola said. "All know this is not done. We do not eat rocks, we do not eat wood, we do not eat deer! We take the old, the sick, the dying, those who have lived their lives. We are no different from the wolf or coyote."

"Wolves eat deer," January noted, "and ravens will too. They'll eat pretty much anything."

"Especially eyeballs," Gadget noted.

"Gola, it is time for you to define what you are," January said. "Not what the old legends say you are. Not what your people said you are. Only you can say what you are, because only you can determine your identity. I know that personally. I am a Two-Spirit medicine worker myself."

The old woman looked uncertain. January took a step forward, and extended her hand, palm upward.

"If you will promise not to harm people, then I will help you," January declared. "I will find you something to feed on - deer, or a cow, or a chicken, anything other than a human. Will you come with me?"

"You are a crow," the raven mocker sighed. She reached out and took January's hand in a trembling grip. "I will come with you."

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post Feb 20 2021, 09:27 PM
Post #362

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From: Las Vegas

What a fascinating and unexpected twist!

There is much more to this raven mocker than we might have imagined. Very lucky for Gola to run into Gadget and Stormcrow. Gadget for his insightful comparison that there are vampires who do not murder to survive. And Stormcrow for her readiness to embrace paths less traveled. And her compassion.

Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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post Feb 22 2021, 04:51 PM
Post #363

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Joined: 19-March 13
From: Ellicott City, Maryland

QUOTE(SubRosa @ Feb 19 2021, 05:37 PM) *

gh technically, neither is a Millenial. They are both Gen Z.

That's true about my girl as well. I had her in 2003 which is technically Gen Z I think. smile.gif

I like the fact that Avery is 100% !!!! rollinglaugh.gif I suppose January has just enough older habits in life (or her answers could not be compartmentalized into any of those pre-made responses) that she only scores 50%. How did she answer the car one, for instance? There is no answer for somebody who has a nuclear fusion-powered motorbike. biggrin.gif

It is a creature of Cherokee folklore.

Come and think of it, I've probably seen this creature before. Not in Monster Manual but maybe it's in Legends and Lore. I like that you are using pulling from real-life epics & tales. That link is a a good read, too.

Oh no. The Raven is using the race card to try to throw Jan off as she goes in for the pwnage.

Uh oh. She's turning her back on the thing. I bet it'll come back at her. DON'T leave the Raven behind! (yelling at my laptop here)

The raven sounds like Katherine Hepburn. I was thinking Joan Rivers, myself.

Lol .... she's confusing Andrew Jackson with Janet and Michael and LaToya! laugh.gif

Cripes. Don't listen to Gola, Jan. It's a trap. Whatever she was in real-life, now she's a monster who sucks the life from mortals.

And the funny thing is, I agree with Gola. She can't just take the lives of animals. Because I am thinking animals don't have the same life-force more intelligent beings do. Damn. I'm falling into her trap now.


Edit: It's because Gola is preying on some of the weaker members of society! I can't wrap my head around on seeing things her way because of this. Why can't she prey on somebody who does wicked things. Like a child molester?

This post has been edited by Renee: Feb 23 2021, 03:07 AM
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post Feb 27 2021, 07:33 AM
Post #364

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From: Between The Worlds

Acadian: I am trying to keep January on her mission statement. She is here to help people, not beat them up. Certainly not to kill people. I have been watching Supergirl again. She was a major influence in my creation of January. She is the kind of person you hope possesses that great power. Someone kind and compassionate. She often tries to talk villains down, and offers to help them. Usually they violently turn her down. I wanted to take that a step further, and actually de-escalate a situation. Show a villain who is willing to take someone else's help instead of continuing on their reign of terror.

It has been a continuing thread throughout the Crow-verse. Lighthammer, Isaac, and now Gola. All are antagonists, whom January has made an effort to turn into allies, if not friends. All of them will play a direct role in the finale of Season One.

Renee: Your daughter is definitely Gen Z, like January is. Jan falls into the 50% category because of her athletics and writing. She actually does spend a lot of time unplugged from the internet because she is doing other things. She is going to lose her TV set soon, and really, she won't even miss it. Avery OTOH, is a pure tech junkie. He lives and breathes technology, the internet, and all things gadgetry.

I see you have the same opinion about Gola as a certain flame-haired and red-eyed superheroine we will hear from soon. There is good reason to feel that way. But January will always try to act out of compassion, for better or worse.

January probably does not even realize that Andrew Jackson's picture is on the $20 bill. 200 year old presidents are not really her forte. 200 year old myths and legends, sure.

Gola preys upon the old and the sickly for the same reason that real world predators like lions or wolves do. That is their role in the ecosystem. It is also what she was told all of her life what raven-mockers were supposed to do. Like so many people, she's so caught up with tradition and what she has always been told she is supposed to be, that she never stopped to think of what she could be. Of course January is not one to stand on tradition at all. She's more prone to smash it with a hammer.

Deer Overpopulation

The Island Lake Recreational Area is on the Stormcrow Map

Island Lake Pic 01

Island Lake Pic 02

Island Lake Pic 03

Chapter 6.15 - Eloise

That did not relieve the tension building up within January however. For now she had to find the raven mocker something to eat, and hope it would work. Otherwise she would have to... Well, she did not want to think about what she would have to do. It was easy to incinerate giant spiders with lightning. It was not so easy to look into an old woman's eyes and snuff them out.

"Okay, deer," Gadget said in her ear. She heard plastic keys furiously clacking from his end of the link. "I saw a documentary a few years ago that said that since we killed all the wolves, the deer population has exploded. It's gone from something like 1 million to 30 million. It's out of control. So yeah, deer hunting is not such a bad thing. Sorry Bambi."

While Gadget talked, January led Gola up to the roof. The old woman leaned on her. She felt surprising light, almost like a feather. Or like a bird - hollow bones and all. Still, January was wary of an illusion clouding her senses. She was just as wary of those claws coming out, and darting for her heart.

But they did not come, at least not yet. By the time they stood beneath the open sky, Gadget was back on the link.

"Ok, there are some state parks that allow deer hunting. Presumably there must be deer there," Gadget reasoned. "Brighton and Island Lake are nearby. Looks like about 25 miles northwest, as the crow flies."

"Good," January noted aloud. That came as a relief. She knew that there were deer in the nature trail behind her house. But she did not want to lead Gola to feed there. The thought of her being responsible for one of those deer being butchered... Well, she knew it would forever poison how she looked at the park, and her home.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Stormcrow, she silently breathed.

"Can you fly?" January asked. "We need to go some distance."

"I will fly," the woman croaked. She transformed before January's eyes. One moment she was an old woman in Native dress. Then her form flowed like water, and took another shape. She took upon that monstrous, winged form January had first witnessed. What the smartphones of the paranormal tour had recorded. With raven wings and skull, the rest of her leathery body was humanoid, though with the double-jointed legs of a beast.

January fought down the feeling of revulsion that rose in her gorge. She was not going to allow herself to feel about Gola the way other people viewed her: as a monster. She was better than that. Or at least she wanted to be.

January concentrated on her wings instead, and her arms transformed into the limbs of a mighty crow. Hagfish feathers caught the air, and lifted her skyward. It was fully dark by now, and the sky overhead was an indigo bowl dotted with stars. She glimpsed the moon rising in the east, along with a sliver of blood. She knew what the latter was, for she tasted copper on her tongue now.

January ignored Blood Raven's approach however, and instead winged her way north and west. She made sure that Gola was tucked in beside her, and the pair of corvid hybrids soared their way over the darkened landscape. Rivers of light carved through the blackness under her tummy, revealing streets and homes. January tried to use them to guide herself along. But Gadget's voice in her ear was a far better navigator. Thanks to the GPS built into Sága, he knew exactly where she was at all times.

The miles vanished in no time at all. January was still amazed at how quickly she could travel by air. Not having to stop for traffic lights, or sluggish drivers, was a pure joy. So was being able to ignore the speed limit. Here the only thing slowing her down was the air itself. But it was not her enemy. It was the literal wind beneath her wings.

"Ok, you are on it," Gadget's voice came in her ear quickly enough. "That is the Island Lake Recreational Area below. You're over an old gravel quarry at the south end. It should be safe to land there."

It was all blank darkness below. Which January took as a good sign. It meant no civilization, or park-goers. With a word to Sága, she engaged her night vision once more. Now she could see that there was indeed an expanse of gently rolling hills below her. Small lakes dotted the fields to the left, and a subdivision of industrial buildings glowed beyond a road to the right. Dead ahead was a thick line of trees.

She motioned for Gola to land, and made for the earth. She tilted backward as she neared the ground. She raised the front of her wings, which increased their angle to the ground, and beat them forward strongly. This cancelled out her momentum, and brought her to a stall. She hung there in midair for just a moment. Then her feet touched the grass, and gravity once more enfolded her in its embrace.

All that time she had spent reading and watching videos of birds landing was really paying off.

Gola came down beside her with much more grace and precision. She clearly did not have to concentrate on what she was doing. It appeared to come as natural to her as walking. So plainly, January had a lot more work to do before she was truly at one with the sky.

"There should be deer in here." January faced the tree line to the north, and began slowly walking in that direction. The ground beneath her feet was a mixture of loose sand and stones, interspersed with stubborn patches of grass. "This time of night, no one should see us either."

Just to be sure, she tapped on Sága's screen, and engaged her video camouflage. That would insure that she was not recorded by trail cameras.

They moved through the field and crossed into the forest without saying another word. The trees quickly closed in, and blotted the stars from the sky overhead. Even with her night vision on, it was an effort for January to navigate the wilderness. It was not that she was walking into things, she took her time to make sure that did not happen. Yet there always seemed to be a branch or dried leaf that crackled under her feet. She was painfully aware of how out of her element she was here.

Gola, on the other hand, moved through the brush like the wind, leaving no sound or sign of her passing. January tried to emulate the medicine woman. She called upon the air to inspire her, to make her steps lighter, and her body a ghost between the grasping branches. She let her mana flow into that image, and willed it into reality.

It helped. But again, she clearly had a lot of work to do. She wished Ryo was here doing this. He could make himself a literal ghost in the darkness when he wanted to.

Gola took the lead. She seemed to have a sense for what was around them. January thought of shifting her senses back to the astral. She could probably detect other living things much more easily that way. But she did not want to split her attention from her efforts to remain quiet. She was having a difficult enough time of that already.

They came upon a male whitetail deer. Even January could tell its sex from its relatively small set of antlers, which were still covered in fuzzy velvet. She wondered if he was really young, or if his antlers had not yet grown in for the year. She seemed to recall something about deer's antlers falling off every year, and growing back again. But she had no idea when that happened, or how long it took for them to mature. This one had two wide beams of antlers growing nearly horizontally from its skull, with four evenly-spaced points - really just bulbous knobs - rising straight up from each.

January went completely still. She did not want to spook the deer. To be honest, she did not know what to do at all. She knew that she could not help to kill it. She just could not. In fact, it took every ounce of her willpower to force herself to do nothing while Gola silently glided forward through the leaves and branches toward the defenseless animal.

It picked up its head as the raven mocker drew near, and turned to gaze this way and that. January was sure it looked straight at her. She wanted to scream at it to run away, or to dive forward and stop Gola. But she did nothing. This was all her idea after all. This was the sacrifice she had chosen to make.

Then the raven mocker was upon the deer. January saw those claws gleam in the darkness. They were not so much physical, as ethereal. Even without deliberately sensing in the astral, January could feel the energy they were formed of. Or perhaps it was a lack of energy, for they seemed like vortexes that devoured whatever they came into contact with.

Those terrible claws struck deep into the animal's chest. It struggled briefly, and tried to leap away. But Gola held it down with her other arm. It was a remarkable feat of strength, considering how big and strong the beast was. Then her arm drew forth the whitetail's heart, and the deer collapsed to the earth with a crash of leaves and brush.

January looked away as Gola fed from the heart. She could still hear it however, that terrible slurping and gulping. It froze Januarys' chest, and made her stomach turn. More than that, she could feel the power of the deer being drawn into Gola's being, like a black hole absorbing the energy and matter around it. Even without deliberately sensing in the astral, she felt the raven mocker grow in strength and power.

She looked back when Gola was finished. Her monstrous form was gone now, and she was a woman again. But she no longer seemed a frail wisp, easily blown away by the wind. No, she was more substantial now, filled with the weight of power and life. The essence she had eaten from the deer was now plainly imbued within her, so much that her face was no longer lined and creased with age. Instead she looked like a woman in the prime of her life.

"I can feel the years coming back to me now, all those years that had slowly slipped away as I slept." Gola croaked. Her eyes shone brightly in the darkened wood. "You were right, white woman, you were right. Gola can take the years from an animal. Even now, I feel it within me. The energy is simple, not sweet, or refined like a man's. But it is primal, and powerful, so much closer to the natural world. Men are so... anemic in this age, so divorced from the struggle of life and death. While their years can taste rich, in the end they are hollow and empty, like candy. They do not fill one. But this, this makes Gola want to run, and leap, and feel again."

"Umm, good," January forced herself to reply. "That means you don't have to hunt people anymore."

"I do not," Gola declared. "You have given me a gift Crow Woman. Gola does not forget."

"So now what will you do?" January asked. "You cannot go back to the asylum."

"I will never go back," Gola spat. "It is a dark place, of silence, and misery, and despair. I nearly let it devour me, as it has so many others."

"This is where Gola belongs now, among the life of the world." She turned to gaze deeper into the forest. "Perhaps here, I can find my own life again."

"You can find more forest if you go north," January said. "Up North is where most people go to hunt, especially past the bridge. There's a lot of state land up there, and no people to bother you."

"Then that is where Gola shall go, north, as the raven's fly." She turned back to January. "Then perhaps later, she will return to the land of her birth, in the mountains far away."

"That sounds like a great idea." January said. "I've never been Up North. I'd like to see it myself."

"Then come, we go!" Gola leaped into the air, a cross of a raven and human once more. This time her beastly form looked robust and alive. Her head was no longer a skull denuded of flesh. Rather it was a jet black raven's head, layered with thick feathers. Her skin was no longer dried out and withered, but deeply tanned and healthy. The life had clearly returned to her.

She looked down to the dead whitetail, and the wound that gaped in its chest. January told herself that it was no different from her eating a coney dog, or mac and cheese. But it did not feel that way.

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post Feb 27 2021, 09:24 AM
Post #365

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I really like the Island Lake Pic 3. Looks so calm and peaceful. A walk in the woods would do me a world of good at this time.

"Mysticism involves the manipulation of magical forces and boundaries to bypass the structures and limitations of the physical world." I call it Console Magic of the Fey.

Endure and through enduring grow strong.
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post Feb 27 2021, 09:33 PM
Post #366

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From: Las Vegas

Though I remain nervously aware of the concerns of both Renee and Blood Raven, it seems that January’s gamble on Gola has gone as she had hoped. I was fascinated by Gola’s assessment of the meal as she compared the deer to modern humans – and how the meal ‘rejuvenated’ her.

Jan has never had to hunt prey animals to sustain herself but I imagine this incident may have given her some insight into the cycle of life. That she is not comfortable killing Bambi is totally consistent with both her nature and the age in which she lives. She should not feel badly though. As you know, even Buffy says a prayer for the spirit of a deer (or any prey animal) when she needs to take one.

’January concentrated on her wings instead, and her arms transformed into the limbs of a mighty crow.’
- - I am very possibly mistaken/confused (and please forgive me if that is the case) but I seem to recall Jan has evolved that her wings actually sprout from her back now rather than her arms changing into wings. What sticks in my head is the time she got some carry out chow and held it in her arms as she flew. Did I miss something?

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post Mar 4 2021, 06:12 PM
Post #367

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From: Ellicott City, Maryland


Renee: Your daughter is definitely Gen Z, like January is. Jan falls into the 50% category because of her athletics and writing. She actually does spend a lot of time unplugged from the internet because she is doing other things.

Awesome. Good for her.


Gola preys upon the old and the sickly for the same reason that real world predators like lions or wolves do. That is their role in the ecosystem.

Yeah I know. I'd have more compassion for her plight (maybe plight is the wrong word...) if she went after some guy who r4pes his kid(s) every night, or something just as awful. Especially since Gola seems invulnerable to physical attacks from most of us on Earth, it shouldn't matter who she drains life from right? Lions and wolves prey on other animals, but they can take damage themselves while attempting to do so. A stag can kick a lion in the mouth for instance, dislocating the lion's jaw forever. It seems Gola doesn't have to worry about such a defensive attack, until somebody like Jan comes along? emot-ninja1.gif Or did I get that wrong?

I am not arguing or anything like that, by the way, just thinking out loud. It is what we'd call a Philosophical Discussion back in our table-gaming days. smile.gif We'd debate about some monster or situation or whatever. I'm sure you had your own discussions.

Interesting how Jan avoids the coming of Blood Raven. Slowly, the protege is taking flight from the mentor. I like how Gadget must guide her via GPS in the dark.

Finally, I would say feeding off a deer is not the same as eating a Coney Dog. That deer at least got to live in its natural environment, not kept in some cage or pen or whatever. So Jan's intuition is right on, I'd say.

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post Mar 5 2021, 04:41 AM
Post #368

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Joined: 4-May 17
From: Lilmoth, Black Marsh

I've been lurking in this forum topic off and on for a little while even though I haven't commented yet, and while I'm still a bit lost as to the overall story (since I am still relatively late to the party) I think I am piecing some of it together. I'm also trying to be wary of asking dumb questions that I should know the answer to.

It's pretty neat getting a feel for a state that I have never been to but would like to visit. I've been to about 40 of the states (though some have really just been passing through, not really visiting much), but Michigan is not one of them.

Also, it's pretty rad that Stormcrow has lightning-based powers. Whenever I hear the question "What superpower would you want to have?" it is always going to be the ability to manipulate electricity for me. There is so much utility and variety, both mundane and extraordinary, that you could do with it. And I used to watch the cartoon Static Shock when I was a kid, which is part of the inspiration.

Yicch, that description of this Gola massacring the deer.

Gola preys upon the old and the sickly for the same reason

Sounds a bit...Kevorkian-esque? That's not exactly the word I'm looking for (not that that's a real one anyway). And not trying to imply anything about what I think of Kevorkian, but to Renee's point, it does kind of lead to a philosophical discussion. If somebody is in immense physical suffering, would it be better to "put them out of their misery"? Though, taking them off life support or administering medication with a patient's consent is a lot different than consuming their essence. Sounds more like an excuse for her actions. Not to mention that she could be full of it.

This post has been edited by RaderOfTheLostArk: Mar 5 2021, 04:43 AM

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post Mar 6 2021, 08:12 AM
Post #369

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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds

macole: That deep and lush forest pic is one I found only recently. So I guess it was a good thing I went looking for more

Acadian: I had to spend some time figuring out what the difference would be between adding human years to adding those of an animal. Eventually I settled on the idea that the latter would more more primal, physical, and inextricably linked the world of nature and action.

Jan is like so many of us now, myself included, who are completely cut off from the production of food. We go to the grocery store and buy chicken nuggets, and that is the nearest we get. But when I was a child I remember my grandmother telling us how when they wanted chicken, her mother would go in the backyard and cut one's head off. So naturally Jan is squeamish about seeing the reality of death like that, even though she understands it intellectually. It is not something that is part of her life at all.

Jan can create both forms of wings. Either as part of her arms, or sprouting separately from her back. She does whichever one suits her at the time. Creating them directly from her arms probably gives her more power and control. While from her back leaves her hands free of course. This was something I spent a lot of time agonizing over - which form would they take. Most superheros do the second method, with them being independent of the arms. But a few have them built in. Then I realized that I did not have to accept the false dichotomy of the proposition. She can have both.

Renee: I know what you are saying. It is a common trope, especially with vampires, to prey upon the "bad" people. Because they deserve it (which gets into a whole other discussion about retributive justice). But Gola has never seen those movies or TV shows. She died in 1830-ish, and it never really entered her mind that she should punish the guilty, or anything of the like. To her, suffering is just suffering, no matter who endures it.

For Gola and her motivations, I started with the actual Native American lore. Which is that Raven Mockers prey upon the old and the sickly. People with little time left. When I think about that, it seems kind of backwards. Logically, if you needed to steal the years off someone else's life to extend your own, it would make more sense to prey upon children. That way you get 70+ years a pop. Which is why I put those words in Avery's mouth.

I personally suspect that these myths were simply created to help people rationalize the painful loss of their loved ones, who were old or sick and naturally, died. But I need Raven Mockers to be a real thing in the Stormcrow world, and I did not want to compromise the real world myths about them if I could avoid doing so. So I looked for a way to rationalize the Raven Mocker's targeting of the old and the sick. That is when it occurred to me that it is the same thing all predators do. So that is why I went that route.

However, I also tried to emphasize that all of her life, this is what Gola had been told that Raven Mockers are supposed to do. You will see it in every Google search you do on Raven Mockers. It is just as much a matter of tradition and enforced social values as it is a matter of magical biology. In fact, it is more tradition and societal pressure than anything else, as Gola's ability to feed off a deer showed. Gola was doing what she had been told she was supposed to do, what she never once questioned. If this fiction is about anything, it is about finding your own truth, even when the rest of the world tries to stop you. So I leaned into this being a personal journey of her own, as Gola finally realizes that she is the only one who can define who and what she is.

Jan is putting off Blood Raven because she has other things to do right now. And she knows that Blood Raven is going to say her piece eventually anyhow. This coming episode in fact.

The deer did at least get to live a normal life. As opposed to the existence of animals in factory-farms, ugh.

RaderOfTheLostArk: You should really go back and start from the start. It is a lot of ground, but everything in the story is built upon what came before.

40 states is a lot to visit. I have only been to a few. The biggest reason I chose to set the story in Metro Detroit is that I know this place. If I tried to set it somewhere else, I know I would invariably run into pitfalls created by my own ignorance. You can look at a map of a place, even look at pictures, but they don't tell you the soul of the place. How people act. Where the rich and poor neighborhoods are. What they eat. How they talk. There is so much about living in a place that you just cannot get from reading books and articles. Honestly, I think I would be better off writing in a completely fictional setting than anywhere other than Detroit because of that.

Stormcrow's lightning abilities are basically just a subset of her elementalism. That is her real focus. She manipulates the elements, often in a metaphorical way rather than an actual direct, physical one. I can see her eventually learning to do more with lightning and electricity in the future. But she will never be as good at it as someone who specializes in just electricity. There is a neat DC supervillain called Livewire who can turn herself into electricity, and travel though electrical wiring to get to pretty much anywhere in the blink of an eye. That would be really cool. So too would being able to control electrical devices, computers, phones, cars, anything with a power source.

Gola's motivations are explained above.


Oradour sur Glane


Chapter 6.16 - Eloise

"You know you are placing a great wager upon her." Blood Raven's voice pierced the darkness.

January closed her eyes for a moment, then turned to face the other heroine. She had been waiting for her to make an appearance, and say her piece. Scarlet eyes shone in the darkness, and Blood Raven stepped forward, fully into view.

"When she kills again, you shall bear a portion of the responsibility," she insisted.

"If she kills again," January noted. "And yes, I know that. But I have to give her a chance."

"Raven mockers are altogether evil." Blood Raven declared.

"Really," January gestured to the other woman, then up into the black sky into which Gola had vanished. "Pot... kettle."

"Do not compare us," Blood Raven growled. "We are nothing alike."

"How many people have you killed?" January probed. "Tell me, who was Der Teufel von Bellac, and what was the Death of the 2nd SS Panzer?"

"Do not dare to sit in judgment of me!" Blood Raven's voice was a threatening rumble of thunder. She absentmindedly lashed out with a fist, and an oak tree cracked in two. It collapsed with a groan of tortured wood and a whoosh of whirling leaves, only to crash to the earth a moment later.

"You were not there. You did not see what they had done in Tulle, or Oradour, or a thousand other places. I lived it, I buried every one of my friends there!"

"I am not judging you," January said coolly. She would not be intimidated by bullies. She would not be intimidated by Blood Raven. "That is the whole point. I am not judging you. I am not judging her. Why does everything with you have to be such a struggle?"

Blood Raven sighed, and sat down upon the trunk of the tree she had just knocked down. January stepped forward, and joined her on the ersatz bench. She said nothing, and for a long while neither did Blood Raven.

"The 2nd SS Panzer had been in the south of France when the landings took place in Normandy," she began. "We all knew that they would be immediately sent north to counter attack. That single division possessed one tenth of all the German armor west of the Rhine. We were bidden to slow their march in any manner possible, to purchase time for the men on the beaches."

"All of the resistance fighters - the Communists, the DeGaullists, we SOE agents, even the SAS, everyone - moved to block them. I was carrying dispatches to groups in the Plateau de Millevaches to the east. By the time I returned the Nazis had already murdered hundreds of innocent civilians in Tulle, and slaughtered far more in Oradour. The latter was too much, even for me. It was not war. It was not even reprisals. It was pure murder. It was the last time I allowed the beast in me free reign."

"I caught up with them outside of Bellac," Blood Raven explained. "They were strung out for miles across different roads. It was their reconnaissance battalion that I encountered first. When they realized what was happening, they began to send their panzer grenadiers after me, and their metahumans."

"They had metas?" January wondered aloud.

"Of course," Blood Raven said. "Since Grognard and the Red Baron in the Great War, every army has. The Das Reich division was special, so they possessed three. I ripped the blood from their bodies and used it as missiles to pierce the half tracks."

"Their panzers did not join the fight until the third day. They had been on trains to the west. But the flatcars had been sabotaged by the cheminots - the rail workers - who had destroyed the axle bearings of the cars. So they detrained and came east for me. I wrought their ruin before night fell. After that, there was nothing but a few stragglers left to hunt down. By then the Francs-Tireurs who had previously taken Tulle and abandoned it had returned. Between us, only a handful of the fascists managed to escape."

"When I was finally myself again - when my fury had abated - I was horrified," Blood Raven stared down at her hands, as if they were still covered in blood. "I left the SOE, simply disappeared, and allowed them to think I was dead with all the others. In the years that followed I became a nurse - a profession I had much previous experience in - and tried to ease suffering rather than be its author. As if that could wipe the stain from my soul. I was still in Belgium when I learned of the Abyssal summonings in Los Angeles, and returned to America to witness the end of your great-grandfather Jack."

"We are all monsters here. We all have things in our past we regret," January said honestly. Though granted, killing fifteen thousand people was a doozy. But it was war, and she just as honestly knew that someone as privileged as she was, had no right to cast aspersions on anyone who had experienced that. Would she do better, were she forced into the same circumstances? January did not know.

"Seeing those neo-Nazis last week, must have been a trigger for all that," January noted. "But you never lost control of yourself then, either Saturday or Sunday. That must have taken an effort of will."

"You have no idea," Blood Raven breathed. "Seeing those swastikas... it still makes my blood boil."

"Anger can be a good thing," January said. "When we don't let it control us, it drives us to make real, positive change in the world. It is what shakes us out of our complacency. It's the reason we are not all British citizens right now. Granted, I don't know if we are better or worse off for that..."

"But when we do not control it, when it controls us instead, then it makes us no different from Nazis," Blood Raven frowned. "I was no different from them on the road to Bellac. I was worse. I was the devil. Selene's Heirs must always guard against the beast within us, just as ordinary humans."

"You controlled it last week," January insisted. "You were a better person. I have to believe that we all have the power in us to change, to make ourselves the people we want to be in our hearts. Transitioning taught me that."

"January, once I would have described you as benevolent," Blood Raven turned to look her in the eyes. "But now I see you are ambitious. You are determined to remake the world, one person at a time."

"But even your will cannot change people," Blood Raven's gaze turned to the sky. There above, Gola wheeled among the stars. Red sparks trailed behind her wings, making her easy to pick out within the firmament. "They shall not be what you want them to, no matter how much you wish it."

"I don't want to change people," January insisted. "I only believe that everyone deserves a second chance. I know we all make mistakes. I think we all deserve to make them right again, and remake ourselves into someone better, like I have been trying to do since I transitioned."

"I fear your heart shall be broken, if you continue to fill it with such ideals," Blood Raven said.

"I'm a trans person living in America," January noted. "My heart was broken a long time ago."

"I often think you deserve to wear this cape far more than I do," Blood Raven mused. "Perhaps when all of this business with the Summoner is put to rest, it shall be time for me to move on. I should very much like to go back to nursing once more, or teaching. Both are noble callings."

"What?" January realized that her jaw was dropping to the earth. "You can't give up. You're... you're, you're Blood Raven! You've been our city's only hope for fifty years. You were my inspiration as a child."

"You are the inspiration our city needs," Blood Raven said. "I suspected as much the first time I set eyes upon you. I know it now."

She rose to her feet, prompting January to follow. "Now go, and shepherd Gola to a new life. Give her the opportunity to change who she is. We may speak more of this later, should you so desire."

With that, Blood Raven was a red scar, fading into the night sky.

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post Mar 7 2021, 12:02 AM
Post #370

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From: Las Vegas

Thanks for the clarification on the flexible deployment of Stormcrow’s wings – very handy when she wants to fly out for some take out. tongue.gif

I learned a new word: ‘ersatz’.

A wonderful episode that accomplished many things. Even with Blood Raven’s opening comment, I once again admired your consistent discipline in crafting her speech to suit her perfectly. I’m sure Blood Raven must be great fun and a great challenge as well to write.

January continues to grow – here she stands up to the tree-snapping older heroine to hold her ground without hesitation.

"Raven mockers are altogether evil." Blood Raven declared.
"Really," January gestured to the other woman, then up into the black sky into which Gola had vanished. "Pot... kettle."

- - wink.gif

"January, once I would have described you as benevolent," Blood Raven turned to look her in the eyes. "But now I see you are ambitious. You are determined to remake the world, one person at a time."
- - Quoted for truth. laugh.gif

As Blood Raven recounted the results of her anger unleashed during WWII, I am reminded of Buffy’s meeting with Azura where the Daedric Lord confesses to wiping out the entire Dwemer Race and to, much later, dropping most of Winterhold into the freezing Sea of Ghosts. As Jan would say, ‘doozies’! And like Azura, thanks to the influence of a young protégé, Blood Raven has grown from her past displays of temper. I quite loved this whole interchange between the two heroines.

And like the first sentence of this episode, the last was crafted with equal care and effect to display the power and mystery that is Blood Raven as she makes a dramatic departure.

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post Yesterday, 08:07 PM
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From: Ellicott City, Maryland

Acadian-- I knew the word ersatz, somehow, but I always come across new words in these stories y'all write, too. smile.gif

Rosa-- See, that's what I mean about philosophical discussion. smile.gif We're getting deeper into Gola and her motivations, that's for sure.

I apologize if I sound like I am suggesting what Gola "should" be doing, that is not my intention. I would love it if (for once) there is a monster who actually preys upon somebody who really inflicts pain upon innocents. If this is a common trope, I am afraid I've missed those movies, or stories.

Nice. Blood Raven going for some disagreement about the Gola situation as well. And that's almost somebody calling the kettle black (whatever the saying is) since Branwen herself often borders upon what a lot of folks would define as Evil. ph34r.gif

When she kills again, you shall bear a portion of the responsibility," she insisted.

I love that part. Raven has actual experience here, while Jan is almost cutesy with her response ... "but she promised not to cause harm to people!" (paraphrased)

Whoa. "Pot ... kettle". I swear I did not read that just til now. As always, I'm commenting as I'm reading (my short-term memory is bad). Jan and I have the same mind, here.

I am not agreeing that what Blood Raven did to those troops is Evil. Or if it is, it's the lesser of two evils, for sure. It was a necessary evil. So in this way, that is an example of somebody punishing somebody else who inflicts pain upon innocents. There we go. cake.gif

The ending of this sub-chapter does give an odd hint which foreshadows what sounds to be Branwen's departure from the forefront, so I am equally in shock as Jan, here. But I also understand. Blood Raven is not as in-touch with the pulse of Detroit. She does things partially for HER motivations first, whereas I think Jan is definitely more selfless.

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