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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
Acadian
post Jan 18 2020, 09:27 PM
Post #161


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From: Las Vegas



By Azura! I think I would have nearly dropped my helmet as well. What an intriguing and unexpected surprise. So Blood Raven is blood kin and has had her eye on Jan for her whole life.

It also helps explain the abilities that Jan is just beginning to discover.

Despite the surprise, I’m sure Jan quite appreciated Aunt Ann’s support and encouragement of her transition.

Good to hear about Isaac's success with Cyber-Cab - a welcome little follow up.

Wow, so Jan shares blood, bewitching abilities and a love of writing with Blood Raven. This raises loads of possibilities and I look forward to learning more about this.


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Darkness Eternal
post Jan 23 2020, 12:25 AM
Post #162


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From: Coldharbour



The Sentinels being mentioned plenty of times does make for great world-building.

Stormcrow and Blood Raven are the quite the popular news lately!

Is it the Crowgirl's winning personality? Or do birds of a feather really flock together? I smell a super team in the making, so keep your eyes on the Detroit skies for these two corvids."
laugh.gif laugh.gif

It was great seeing Blood Raven out of her super outfit and into jeans and sweater with a new makeover. Its fascinating to see how easy she can transform herself and look like a completely different person with her other identity. Aunt Ann . . . wow!

The advantages of eating healthy and living a clean life,"
This was too funny.

Blood Raven's comment praising Jan's changes and the some of the cultural beliefs surrounding it was a nice verbal slap-in-the-face to Jan's father. And how fitting that Blood Raven/Ann somehow helped contribute to Jan's progression with one of her books! She's more involved in Jan's life than every before now.

They are related then by blood, even if its distant. This is great on so many levels and offer several implications that I'm eager to find out.


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And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Renee
post Jan 23 2020, 02:47 PM
Post #163


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From: Ellicott City, Maryland





QUOTE
January only knows what that world was like from watching old movies and TV shows. Her entire life as been on the internet.


This is what makes me glad to have grown up in the era we did. We got to see all that technology evolve to where it is now. Personally I am somewhat of a Luddite. Typing on this laptop and having two desktop computers at home are as far as I want to go with tech. But for my daughter for instance, smartphones and constant referrals to the Internet and are what she knows. indifferent.gif And for any sibling(s) she'll possibly have, brain implants (or whatever tech is next) which make human into virtual robots will be all her kids know. Then she'll be the Luddite, looking back fondly on those days when "we all held that technology in our hands. It wasn't implanted into our heads. We had to actually TYPE messages back and forth!"

biggrin.gif Sorry.

That is something to note: a superhero having trouble finding a place to live because she's broke, and her family's in tatters.

The radio DJ sounds like Three Dog (in my head).

Whoa. Blood Raven is over for coffee. And she's dressed like a prep. blink.gif ... they're related? [censored]. I have to read that part over again. I am stunned.

QUOTE
"I swear, you haven't aged a day since then Ann,"


I was already wondering this... if Blood Raven / Ann ages at all, especially if you're hinting she's from some other century.

Hee hee "Ebuy".... that's clever.

Well good. Saturday is coming fast, what in the heck is coming? I'll be waiting for you to drop that next chapter, hon.
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SubRosa
post Yesterday, 06:26 PM
Post #164


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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: Jan has a lot in common with Blood Raven, which was intended by me. They are magicians. They are imaginative. They are artistic (if you consider writing art, which I do), they are not content to just sit back and let the world turn: they both feel the need to step in and steer it to a better course. Naturally Jan is her own person, and has a lot of differences from her ancestor. Being trans, being lesbian, being born in a different age, with a different set of values. These are differences we will see Blood Raven encourage Jan to embrace. Because she definitely does not want Jan to be just like her.

Cyber-Cab was something I threw in during the editing process. I wanted to touch back on Isaac for a moment, and subtly show that he was indeed making both physical and emotional progress. We will eventually see him back in the story, but it will be a while.


Darkness Eternal: I really should try to include some mentions of supers in other places. I have gotten some mentions of Heisenberg in, but none lately. Plus a few name-drops from old time metas like Panzer and Hailstorm. But that is it.

Blood Raven does live a really healthy lifestyle: She does not drink... wine, does not smoke, does not use drugs, does not sunbathe, has no gluten in her diet, or meat, or vegetables, or water. Just that nourishing blood...

Blood Raven has been around for a very long time, and seen all sorts of people. Enough to challenge her rather (literal) puritanical upbringing. Plus, like Jan, she is willful. She won't be told what to think or feel.

Jan's blood relation to Blood Raven will be a central part of both their stories. Their blood is a gift, and a curse they cannot escape.


Renee: I am somewhat of a Luddite too. Though it is not just from old person stubborness. I think having grown up in the time I did, and been without a lot of the instant gratification tech has taught me I don't need most of this stuff. But more importantly, I can see how the increasing mechanization of life has simply not made us happier, but the opposite. The internet is a great source of information, and a great way for vile individuals to sow blatant lies in order to further their hateful agendas. Social networks are great for bringing people together, and an even greater way for terrorists to recruit more people, for hostile foreign powers to push their propaganda, and for dictators to push genocide.

Jan's struggles with everyday life are in part inspired by the Batgirl comics of the last decade or so. In them the Black Canary's house burns down, and she ends up couch-surfing at Batgirl's. Then later Batgirl gets kicked out of her apartment, and ends up couch-surfing herself. I like these little touches that show that just because you have a cape, it does not mean you are exempt from real life.

The DJ Gilda Gadfly was inspired by a similar character in the new Batwoman TV show - Vesper Fairchild. They use little blurbs of Vesper talking to show how people in the city are thinking about what is going on. I am going to try to use Gilda the same way. She can be a way I can show how Stormcrow memes are trending or not, and what the masses are thinking about Crow and Company. I can also use it to simply fill in little blanks of information that I had no other way to convey.

I based Blood Raven's civilian look on what I remembered people in the 90s wearing in offices. So not grundge, but the upper-middle classish types. She might be getting a fashion makeover from Jan and her mom in the future though.




The Witch House can be found on the Stormcrow Google Map

The Witch House

Tunguska

Johannes Kelpius

William Butler

Jack Parsons

Selene - Moon Goddess

Hekate





Chapter 3.15 - Stormcrow Burning

Blood Raven directed January to Van Dyke, which they took north. In time they passed the border of Warren, and into Sterling Heights. Big box stores and a movie theater passed by on their right. One giant automotive factory after the next took up the entire landscape to their left. Eventually they ran out of factories, and stayed to the left on Van Dyke when a freeway split off from it and headed north parallel to the surface street, with roughly a quarter mile of small businesses and residences between the two. They were nearly out of Sterling Heights when Blood Raven finally prompted January to turn.

They made a right onto Utica Road, which ran at an angle back to the south-east. Several old suburban streets passed by on her right, and then an apartment complex. To her left was a line of newer, and larger, houses set far back from the road. January saw the freeway crossing over the street ahead of her on a bridge. But before they could reach it they turned left, and rode one of the long driveways back to a house set within a small island of trees.

The home was built in the Queen Anne style, like a classic haunted house from the 1800s. It was a jumble of smooth corners, sharp peaks, and jutting bay windows The wood looked strong and solid, showing no sign of wear or aging. It was painted a soft shade of blue-gray, and sported two red brick chimneys that rose up from the steeply-pitched roof.

A covered porch ran the length of the front wall, and wrapped around it to the left side of the building. The first two floors seemed to follow the same plan, with rounded bay windows facing forward, and a turret bulging out beside the driveway. A rounded tower jutted up from that same corner, and rose up a full three stories to the top of the home. Steep gabled windows braced the roof to either side of the tower. Finally, a single dormer peeked out from the center of the roof, facing the street.

Blood Raven led her up the stairs to the set of double doors at the front of the house. She fished a set of keys out of one pocket, and clicked one of the doors open. She led the way within, and turned to look back at January.

The interior of the house was bare, completely bare. There was no furniture at all, except for a brand new wood burning stove fitted into the fireplace. There were no rugs on the hardwood floor, no pictures on the oak walls, nothing. She did notice a light switch, and a fixture in the ceiling. So at least that was something.

"What is this place?" January wondered. She flipped the light switch, but nothing happened. Apparently Blood Raven had not been paying the bills. Given the dust on the floor, it was really no surprise.

"My friend Keziah built it," Blood Raven said. For a moment her eyes seemed to stare beyond January, as if looking back through the years. "She left it to me after she moved on."

"Oh, I'm sorry," January said by reflex. "I didn't know that she..."

"Oh, Keziah Talmadge is not dead!" Blood Raven laughed. "She has moved on, to new realms."

"Keziah is a rather odd name," January observed.

"It was not so when she was born," Blood Raven insisted, "nor when I was for that matter."

"When was that, the American Revolution?" January said under her breath, taking in the antique building that surrounded her.

"Yes," Blood Raven's voice brought her back. "I was twelve when General Gage's men marched on Lexington and Concord. Keziah was a least a century old by then, perhaps more."

"And I wasn't born yesterday," January insisted. She put her hands on her hips in defiance.

"Of course not," Blood Raven said. "You were born on August 12th, 1999. I was there."

The red-haired woman raised her hands into the air, and those golden Celtic symbols sprang up in a circle around her. Again, she murmured in Gaelic, and closed her eyes as the triquetras and triskelions wove their way around her.

She reached out with both hands together. The she pulled them apart, as one might slide open a pair of windows, or unroll a scroll. January stared in wonder as reality peeled back behind her hands. It was as if a paper slip cover was torn away from a book. But this book was the fabric of the universe.

Beyond the window in space thusly created, January saw a darkened chamber of marble. With another flick of Blood Raven's finger, several lights glowed to life within the room that they were remotely viewing. They illuminated a towering stretch of dark marble wall. Written up and down it in elegant golden calligraphy were several trees of names, like waterfalls that spilled down the marble. January quickly realized that they were family trees. She saw her old name - August - and that of her brother Julian at the bottom of the longest tree.

"I will have to change the name," Blood Raven remarked.

January followed the tree up from her and her brother. There were her parents, and then grandparents. Beyond them the names became unrecognizable. She could not remember any of her great-grandparents. They had all died long before she was born.

The river of names went back and back. They forked off into different directions. Some ended abruptly. Other lines petered out only after multiple generations. Her line went back to Branwen Hopkins, née Reynolds, and Experience Hopkins. Above them she made out the name Saiorse Reynolds, but she could not see who she was married to. The portal ended just before his name.

"That is I, Branwen," Blood Raven declared. "I was born in 1763."

"How could you be alive after all these years?" January narrowed her eyebrows in distrust.

"I never said I was alive," Blood Raven murmured. She pointed to her name, to the date of her death, in 1793. It was the same year her husband Experience was listed as dying in.

"Metas did not exist back then," January insisted. "It wasn't until the early 20th Century that they first came along."

"Not until Tunguska," Blood Raven said. "I know."

"Before there were metahumans, there was magic," Blood Raven explained. "There has always been magic. There always will be. An ancient magic came out of the centuries and engulfed my family. It took my husband. It took me as well, after a fashion. It was only with the aid of Keziah that we defeated it."

With that the warmth melted away from Blood Raven's skin, which turned bone white. Her hair lengthened, and cascaded down into a great mane of blood red crimson. Her eyes glowed scarlet. They literally glowed. With one bony finger she swept her hair back from her neck, and revealed a set of horrific scars there. They were not neat and straight, like the cuts on January's wrists. Rather the wounds were rough and jagged, as if the claws of a terrible beast had torn her throat out.

"You're a vampire!" January gasped.

Blood Raven smiled, revealing fangs between her red lips.

"That is a word best left unspoken," she cautioned. "Refer to us as Selene's Heirs if you must. We have done much to convince the world that we do not exist. The rise of metahumans has given us an opportunity to blend into their ranks, and insipid sparkly fiction has made the very idea of us the subject of ridicule. But there are still those among us who remember the Burning Times. They can be very zealous in maintaining our secrecy."

January nodded. Her head swam with questions. Could she go out in sunlight? Well duh, it was the middle of the day after all. Did crosses and holy water repel her? Did garlic? How often did she have to suck blood? Did she even do that, or was it something more subtle, or exotic? What about wooden stakes? If she threw rice down, would Blood Raven be compelled to count every single grain?

Suddenly January realized that she was reacting exactly like everyone else did when they found out that she was trans. With a bunch of questions about how she was an Other, rather than a person. Like she was some sideshow attraction to be gaped at though the safety of the iron bars. She was not going to behave that way. Never. Blood Raven was a person. She was going to treat her like that, above all else.

"Selene's Heirs?" now that was something that January felt was appropriate to ask about.

"Selene was one of the moon goddesses of the Greeks," Blood raven replied. "Legend says that she is the mother of all of us."

"Of course I am a magician as well." Blood Raven's hair shrank back to its slightly messy bob and faded into a mundane shade of auburn, while her skin took on a warm, lively hue. The scar disappeared, as did the glow from her now ordinary green eyes. "It is said that a different moon goddess - Hekate - gave the world the gift of magic. It goes hand in hand with Selene's legacy. Of course since Tunguska, all magic has grown so much more potent, as if the goddesses have awoken from a long slumber."

"Hekate's Gift has always been strong in our family." Blood Raven turned back to the family tree displayed through the magical window. She pointed to her mother Saoirse, and followed her ancestors back generation after generation, until she stopped upon William Butler. January noted that his birth year was listed as 1534, and his death in 1617. "William was an alchemist and necromancer, from Clare County, Ireland. You will find many other alchemists and mystics within our tree as well."

"It was what brought the vampire Kelpius to our family in the first place," Blood Raven explained. "He wanted to learn my father's magic, to master it, and with it all the Legions of the Abyss."

"Who was your father?" January wondered, "and what are the Legions of the Abyss?"

"They are the Legions of the Abyss, things best left to the darkness, lest they rise up and engulf you," Blood Raven said cryptically. "I have learned the hard way to watch over my descendants, lest another shadow rise up from out of the ages to take them. I have been lax of late. I have allowed myself to lose track of time. It is a hazard for those like me."

"But my eye is fixed upon my bloodline once more. None of my progeny since your great-grandfather Jack has taken up magic." She now pointed to a much nearer part of the family tree, to her father's grandfather, whose name was listed there as Marvel Whiteside Parsons. "Jack was strong in magic, but he lacked discipline. He was not willing to put in the hard work and mental exercise needed to fully control it. He opened doors best left shut, and paid for it dearly."

"I can see that you are already far more powerful than Jack ever was." Blood Raven now set her eyes upon January.

"You mean it's magic that my powers come from?" January stared down at her hands, and curled her fingers into fists, then opened them again. It was like she was seeing them for the first time, seeing herself for the first time. Of course! That explained so much.

"Naturally," Blood Raven insisted. "Everyone has magical potential. But few people actually unlock it within themselves. Clearly you have."

"How do people unlock it?" January wondered.

"When they stop being sheep led by a shepherd," Blood Raven declared. "When they believe in themselves, in spite of how hard the world tries to tell them they are insignificant. When they believe they possess real agency. When they know they can change the world."

"That is when I transitioned," January mused. "But I don't go around casting spells like Gandalf."

"Gandalf did not actually cast many spells either," Blood Raven murmured. "Think back to that time. Were you thinking about spellcraft? Or were you thinking about physical action? I would say the latter, as your gifts are clearly in the physical realm. That is where you unconsciously channeled your magical power as you developed it. That is the most powerful form of training. Your forebrain never got in the way with doubts or distractions. You dedicated yourself to an ideal, and you made it reality."

"After I rehabbed for my hand, I transitioned," January mused. "I went back to school. The bullies were... Well it made me yearn for the joy of rehabilitating my severed tendons. After I came home with a black eye and split lip my mother taught me kick boxing - Karate. I fought back. I beat them, three of them, at once."

"That is when you embraced your power," Blood Raven said. "Continue working with your talents. The more you exercise them, the stronger they will grow. I can teach you spellcraft as well of course. There is no reason you cannot learn it, even if your primary focus is physical."

"I've learned so much already from your book," January thought aloud, "about raising energy, about visualizing a clear goal, about focusing my will."

"All magic comes down to these things," Blood Raven nodded. "I am glad it has been helpful. I am always glad when one of my books improves someone's life. That is why I write them after all."

"It seems so strange that you're a superhero, and you are writing books on Wicca," January shook her head.

"Why should that be unusual?" Blood Raven countered. "I have to make a living, the same as any other cape. The same as any other magician. Writing books not only aids me financially, but it also helps me complete a legal identity through which to navigate the world. I have a clear income, I pay taxes, and so on. For someone like me, the difficulty of managing an earthly identity increases every century."

"Is that why you lost track of us?" January wondered what it was like to be over two hundred years old. How many times had Blood Raven been forced to move, and change her name, her life?

"It was one reason," Blood Raven nodded. "The years can fall by the wayside so quickly at times. For someone like me, it is easy for them to slip through our fingers, like trying to hold on to a flowing stream. I often have to remind myself to stop and pay attention to what is happening right now, rather than lose myself in the years."

"That brings me back to the Witch House." Blood Raven raised her hands to indicate the home around them. "Technically I own it. But I have rarely dwelled here. I prefer to remain in the heart of the city."

"Perhaps you and your mother should like to make your abodes here instead?"


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Acadian
post Yesterday, 09:42 PM
Post #165


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Fascinating! Most everything Blood Raven revealed quite fit the clues to date. I must admit the vampirism was a surprise. In looking back though, the clues were indeed there (Duh! BLOOD Raven practicing BLOOD magic). tongue.gif

’Suddenly January realized that she was reacting exactly like everyone else did when they found out that she was trans. With a bunch of questions about how she was an Other, rather than a person. Like she was some sideshow attraction to be gaped at though the safety of the iron bars. She was not going to behave that way. Never. Blood Raven was a person. She was going to treat her like that, above all else.’
- - It was wonderful to see Jan battle her prejudices and use her own life experience as she vowed to keep her mind open. I'm sure her natural curiousity about the challenges of living as a vampire will be revealed to her as she spends time with Blood Raven.

My goodness, the tales I bet Branwen/Ann/Blood Raven can tell!

And, of course, this all explains Blood Raven’s interest in not only Jan but her entire family.

Finally, where Jan and her mother should live may have just been solved.

Wonderful stuff, SubRosa!


Nits:
’The{n} she pulled them apart, as one might slide open a pair of windows, …’
"Selene was one of the moon goddesses of the Greeks," Blood r{R}aven replied.’


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