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


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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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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 Jan 25 2020, 06:26 PM
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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 instant gratification tech, has taught me I don't need most of this stuff. Like digital assistants on my phone, or an alexa in my house. I can go to a website and order things. I am not so lazy that I have to use a voice command for a robot that is always listening to everything I say.

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 murderers, for hostile foreign powers to push their propaganda, and for dictators to sow genocide. The modern fascist movement in America could not exist without the internet. That is where they recruit all their mass shooters.

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, and January felt power dance through her fingers. She drew her hands to either side, like she was unrolling a scroll. January felt that power linger in the space behind her hands. It caused the wall of the house to disappear from view, and replaced it with another image. It was like Blood Raven had created a television screen in mid air.

Within this magical screen, 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 Anne 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, Anne," 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 Jan 25 2020, 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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Renee
post Jan 26 2020, 03:13 PM
Post #166


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Hmm, I wonder why she's being brought to this gigantic, empty house? Maybe since Jan needs a place to live...

Blood Raven can open up other realities with her bare hands. blink.gif Ancestry.com? Hah.

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

"I never said I was alive,"


Yikes. blink.gif

I love that she's maintaining a modern presence by paying taxes and writing books. I wonder if Jan and her mother will actually move there.

Edit: and I love that name Marvel. And also Experience. I didn't know Experience could be a name.

This post has been edited by Renee: Jan 29 2020, 07:34 PM
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SubRosa
post Feb 1 2020, 05:16 PM
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Acadian: I deliberately left a lot of breadcrumbs to follow back to Blood Raven being a vampire. I am glad they were not too blatant, but still stood out once you looked back. I was going for that "oh, of course!" moment. We will slowly learn more about what being a vampire means for Blood Raven. She has two scenes told from her point of view in chapter 5, which should shed a lot of illumination.

Naturally I started out with Blood Raven's past being mostly a blank slate, with only a few key events filled in. I have been able to fill in a lot of those blanks as I have written her. Now I know everything from 1940 to the present, and everything from her birth to about 1820 or so. Plus where she was from 1862 - 1865. The rest of the 19th Century is still wide open, as is the early 20th Century.

Thanks for those nits. Both were late additions, so did not get my usual fine tooth treatment.


Renee: It is not that Blood Raven can create gateways. It is just a simple clairvoyance/remote viewing. I went back and rewrote that part, to try to make that more clear. Keziah is the one who could teleport and create gateways to alternate realities. We will see more about that this chapter, as the Witch House is where the learned.

I imagine that blending into the modern world becomes more and more difficult the older an immortal becomes. Many of the older ones probably withdraw and become recluses, like Howard Hughes, or completely shut themselves off from society. Blood Raven is not that old yet. She still tries to be part of the world, in spite of how difficult it can be. That means having a legal identity, paying taxes, and so on. I went with writing because it is a job with flexible hours. That leaves plenty of opportunities to go out superheroing at all hours of the day or night. She writes about Witchcraft simply because as a real magician, that is what she knows. It is also a way for her to have a positive impact on the world.

Marvel is of course Jack Parson's real name. He was a fascinating person - rocket scientist, founder of the JPL, and magician. He was a perfect ancestor for January, and descendant of Blood Raven.

If you go back to the 16th and 17th century you will find a lot of wild names, especially among the Puritans in New England. They love Biblical names, like Judah, or Ezekiel. They also liked to name people after virtues, like Prudence, Faith, the aforementioned Experience, and so on. I looked up a bunch of sites like this one to find Experience and Keziah. Although Keziah is also the villain in HP Lovecraft's story Dreams in the Witch House. I ultimately went with her name as a deliberate subversion of the evil, devil-worshiping Witch she is portrayed as by Lovecraft.






The Witch House can be found on the Stormcrow Map

The Witch House

The Witch House Overhead View

Tunguska Event

Trail of Cthulhu



Chapter 4.1 - Pride

May 27th - June 1st, 2019

"Well, at least we didn't have to borrow your uncle Jerome's van again." January picked up the pieces of her bed and walked to the back of the U-Haul with them. Once she was in danger of being seen, she let them drop down into both of her hands, and pretended to be struggling with the weight, while Avery lifted the other end. In actuality, she was still taking all of the load herself. But they had to put on a good show for her mother.

January wished there could have been some way for her to talk her mother into doing something else while they moved. Then she could have done all the heavy lifting herself, in just a few minutes. Now she had to make it look hard, and pretend to be winded by the effort.

"Yeah, it would have taken three or four more trips with the van," Avery noted. "At least we got it all with one trip."

January glanced over at her mother's Mini, which was likewise packed to the brim, along with Avery's Geo. When she added in her Victory, the trio of vehicles did not even come close to the cargo space of the truck her mother had rented for the day. They were lucky to find a rental place open on Memorial Day. But at least neither of them had school or work to worry about.

Her eyes lingered over the brightly-painted mural on the side of the truck. Jane Jet, an old hero from the 70s and 80s, was emblazoned there. She wore her trademark goggles and jetpack, and flew over the L.A. skyline with a grin. January wondered how many people realized that Jane was a gay icon? She had never been Out. But it had never really been a secret either. Every gay person knew it, and every straight person pretended it wasn't true.

"Wow, are you like, moving in here?"

January and Avery both turned to the author of the voice. He was a man aged somewhere between thirty and fifty. His straight brown hair fell down to his shoulders, and his eyes were liquid blue. He was short, but made up for his lack of height with extra width. He was not fat, so much as thick. January instantly pegged him as a Mountain Dwarf, and felt a surge of kinship for him. After all her Shadowrun character Dora the Kneecapper was a Dwarven physical adept.

He wore a plain blue shirt and ragged jeans. A pencil was clutched, almost defensively, in one of his hands. His eyes were wide with amazement. Like a child seeing Star Wars for the first time.

"Yes," January's mother said from the porch. The Dwarf nearly leaped out of his skin, and barely held onto his pencil. "My sister-in-law is letting us stay."

"Hi, I'm Barbara, that's my daughter January, and her bestie Avery. They're sort of a dynamic duo." January had to fight to keep a straight face at the latter description. If she only knew the truth about Stormcrow and Gadget!

Her mother walked down to the man while January and Avery pretended to groan under the weight of the bed frame. She offered the neighbor her hand, but he backed away nervously.

"Oh I can't do that," he said. "I don't do that. It's too messy, with all the souls, and not souls, and things. It gets too messy. Oh, I'm Chase. I always forget that."

"You forget that your Chase?" Avery laughed.

"I forget my shoes sometimes," Chase said. "I forget to take my vitamins. Sometimes I forget my name. But I never forget to love life, even when I hate it. Especially when I hate it."

"Yeah, there's a lot of that going around these days," January frowned. She was starting to wonder if Chase was supposed to be taking medication, and had forgotten that as well?

"That's why it's important to remember what you don't want to forget," Chase said. "What was I saying again? Oh, you're actually moving in here?"

"Yes, we actually are," January's mother smiled as she headed for the back of the U-Haul. "Why do you seem so surprised?"

"Well, you know about the house don't you?"

January and Avery missed most of what came next, as they carried the bed frame inside the house. Once out of sight January took all the pieces and easily vaulted up the stairs with them to the second floor. She laid them out on the floor, and was back out on the lawn as Chase was wrapping up his tale.

"They say the last time the house disappeared was over a hundred years ago," Chase explained. "Back in 1908. Some people said it was because of the Tunguska comet. But I checked when I was fourteen. It disappeared the night before."

"Well there is a time difference between here and Siberia," Avery noted. He pulled out his phone and typed for a moment. "Let's see, the Tunguska Event took place the morning of June 30th, at 7:17 their time. That means it would have been, oh, 7:17 pm on June the 29th here in Michigan."

Chase's face fell. January had the distinct impression that was exactly the wrong thing to say. He glanced up at the house, then turned and fled back through the trees to the house next door.

"Well that went admirably," January's mother smiled.

"What did I say?" Avery rubbed the back of his head in consternation.

"He was telling me that this is 'The Witch House', that's all capitalized by the way," January's mother explained. "He said it was here before 'The White Man' came - all caps as well - and that sometimes it disappears, then reappears days, or even months later. He said no one has lived here in over fifty years."

"Houses don't normally disappear," Avery noted. "Not normally."

"Well, Aunt Ann did tell me it was built by a Witch," January noted. She took one side of a dresser, while her mother hefted the other. She had to pretend that she was straining under the weight. "But you know how superstition is. If a house sits empty for a while, it's automatically haunted."

"I don't suppose anyone has any pictures of the empty lot," Avery mused as he took the other end of the dresser from January's mother. That allowed January to stop pretending and take all of the weight. "At least any that aren't all out of focus and shaking around."

"Like every Bigfoot and Nessie video," January's mother chimed in.

The sound of a car pulling up the long driveway from the street brought January's head around. It was a rusty Ford Explorer, older than she was. January immediately recognized it as the Kell-Mech. She was still surprised to see Jack, Rus, Ryo, and of course its owner Kell come spilling out of its spacious interior.

"Oh, did I forget to mention that the guys were coming out to help," Avery grinned. "How could that have slipped my mind?"

"It must have been when you were too busy being the best best-friend ever," January restrained herself from hugging the taller black man. She raised a hand to wave at the newcomers, and felt the dresser tip precariously in her other hand. She adjusted, and waved anyway. It was just a dresser after all, not an I-beam. Not that an I-beam would have been difficult to lift either.

"Did we miss all the heavy lifting?" Jack cried. "I really hope we missed all the heavy parts."

It turned out that they had not after all, missed all the heavy parts. Where just a few minutes before January had been wishing she had been alone to do all the work, now she found that she was glad for the company. The moving may have taken longer, but it was much more enjoyable.

In time the U-haul was empty. "We can drop it off tomorrow," her mother sighed when the work was done. "It's paid up until then anyhow. Now who's thirsty?"

Thirst was quenched with warm Pepsi and Dr Pepper, followed by truly magnificent pizza from a local pizzeria on Van Dyke, on the far side the apartment complex that rose up across the street. Since the night was still young, the guys immediately broke out their gaming books, and Rus walked January through creating a new character for Trail of Cthulhu. She had not gamed in so long. It seemed so trivial compared to all of life's other pressing needs. But she had no trouble slipping into the fun of hanging out and role-playing with friends. It was good to let the rest of the world just fade away sometimes.


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Acadian
post Feb 1 2020, 06:09 PM
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A new chapter, with an intriguing title.

Moving day – assisted by the dynamic duo! You did a nice job of showing us how Jan had to carefully manage her strength. Happily, she had a knowing accomplice in Avery. You absolutely nailed the official meal for moving day: warm soda with take out pizza. tongue.gif

Chase is a very interesting fellow, and raised many more questions than he answered.

I chuckled when Avery scared off Chase with his display of web-based factual nerdism. What struck me here was that Jan and her mother knew exactly what had happened to the clueless Avery. Another case of men are from Mars and women are from Venus – aggravated here by Avery’s reliance on tech.


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Renee
post Feb 3 2020, 07:54 PM
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QUOTE
I imagine that blending into the modern world becomes more and more difficult the older an immortal becomes.


Absolutely. This is true for mortal ones too (like me).

It's also clever and realistic that Blood Raven's a writer. This way, she can drop in with her agent every 6 months or so, it's not going to be an everyday job. From what I have heard about big-selling writers (Grisham, Stephen King, Anne Rice, etc.) they are allowed a lot of freedom because it adds to their creativity. That agent or publisher can't be hounding Blood Raven every single day, and also expect spectacular results. nono.gif

Then again, what do I know about the modern world? Maybe nowadays it is possible to simply shoot emails and text messages back and forth from writer to agent to publisher to editor, etc. I am talking about pre-internet and old phones in the paragraph above.

HEY that names website is chock-full of unusual names! ... Now I have even more names to draw from when making my next toons! biggrin.gif Sheesus.... Godsgift was an actual name. Cleophus. Dionyse. Pretoria. My spellchecker is all confused. Some names it spells without putting red lines under, others it's screaming NO that's not a word!

Nice. Looks like she'll have a small castle of a home to live in.

That's awesome. She has to pretend to be a weakling, lest her mom notices her superhuman strength.

I've never heard of Jane Jet before. Time for a few moments with google, once again. That is a bit of foreshadowing, the fact that her moving van has a heroine buried under some paint. Well, not foreshadowing. Can't think of the word I mean.

Chase seems like some character I've seen in a movie. Can't really place which one, though. Wow. He's afraid to shake hands. I get it, but wow.

Aw, wow, I love the end. She forgets all her troubles and who she actually is, for awhile. smile.gif

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SubRosa
post Feb 3 2020, 09:40 PM
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Oh, I forgot to post a picture of Chase, he is Steve Zahn, from his role in the movie Speak. He was originally going to be a large part of January's non-superhero life, someone she partnered up with on a business venture (he is an artist). But later I decided to use another character for that. So I no longer have any plans for him. I left him in because he still adds some local color, and he fills in some exposition on the Witch House.


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Darkness Eternal
post Feb 4 2020, 02:57 AM
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The thing about Blood Raven and her vampirism is that there were certainly some clues there, as Acadian pointed out. Her unnatural longevity being key among them. Blood Raven did remind me of your other character Phereinon from your Seven Reimagined story(yes, I read some of that hehe). I enjoy reading about her and Jan/Stormcrow because as the chapters go along, you give is more information that fill in the blanks so to speak, and paint a larger picture of the character. Blood Raven has a very rich history, full of experiences that Stormcrow can learn from and apply to herself.

"Apparently Blood Raven had not been paying the bills. Given the dust on the floor, it was really no surprise".
Can imagine why. This part made me laughter harder than I should have.

Blood Raven again shows her impressive abilities as she shows Jan her extensive family tree!

" . . . and insipid sparkly fiction has made the very idea of us the subject of ridicule."
Isn't this the truth? I think, as a major fan of vampires and monstrous folklore, the image of vampires have been sort of exhausted in the recent years as young adult and teenage romance, but thankfully is just now starting to come back again in its original form. I agree with Blood Raven.

Fascinating new information on Blood Raven's history. I was especially intrigued with Selene's Heirs and Hecate's Gift, and now Stormcrow's inspiring potential for greater things!


It was great to see Avery and Jan back together again! The duo must go on!

And Chase was a welcome addition to this chapter. Funny guy! I imagined to be exactly like that! Long hair and everything! Avery putting him on the run cracked me up. That was priceless!


--------------------
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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SubRosa
post Feb 8 2020, 07:22 PM
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Acadian: The title will become very clear in another 3 or 4 episodes. It is part of how I am using local events in the story.

I hate moving. The only good thing about it is the pizza afterward.

Chase is a very idiosyncratic fellow (wow, I cannot believe I spelled that right the first time). I was going to use him more with January's career as a writer. But upon further rumination I decided to replace him with another character who was previously introduced, and is already closer to Jan. So I probably won't use Chase much more, except perhaps minor things concerning Jan at home.

Avery definitely did the absolute wrong thing by reminding Chase that the house did supposedly disappear at the same time the comet hit Tunguska. Oops!


Renee: I also decided that Jan would be a writer for the same reason as Blood Raven: the flexible hours. Though I also wanted her to be a creative person in general, like an artist, or decorator, or fashion designer, or even architect. The writing wound up perfect because it meshes so well with Blood Raven. It becomes one more thing they have in common.

I know most professional writers (at least the old school ones), sign a contract with a publisher to write a book. Then they write it. Some people write first and submit their manuscripts. But most book publishers won't even look at cold introductions like that anymore. Magazines will however.

However, thanks to the internet there is a crop of new authors who self-publish online, and never have a paper copy of their books printed. Or only later as an afterthought. Kickstarters are another route people take to self-publish, including hard-copies. Ghost Days is a great example. It was financed by a kickstarter, and the backers had the option to receive a hardcopy or just ebook version depending on how much they donated. Then it went to the usual online outlets like Amazon and Barnes and Noble (which is where I bought it). I first heard about it on Monstertalk, a podcast about monsters. The writer and illustrator were guests in an episode about Appalachian myths, as Ghost Days is set there and all about Appalachian monsters.

Jan is going to go this latter route, with self-publishing and crowd-sourcing. Though she might eventually do a deal with one of the more progressive publishing houses like Tor.com

A lot of those Puritan names sound like something you already came up with!

Jane Jet is based on Joan Jett. I just decided to invent an older generation hero and use her as inspiration. I got the jetpack and goggles idea from her last name. Like the real Joan Jett, my fictional hero was a lesbian who was never Out and public about it, but never really worked hard to keep it a secret either. When I wrote that I looked out the window and saw a U-Haul with a giant venus flytrap painted on it. So I thought, in a world with supers, wouldn't they put murals of Superheros on the sides of their vans, instead of things like local landmarks or pop culture icons, like they do in the real world?


Darkness Eternal: Blood Raven and Phereinon have some similarities, as they are both immortals. But Blood Raven is a whole lot more kind and compassionate. We have not had a chance to really see that yet, but we will, starting with this chapter.

In the Crow-verse, vampires deliberately created the pop-culture image of themselves in order to hide. As a lot of vampire settings do, I am going with the idea that the Inquisition was really started to hunt down vampires. It not only killed a lot of them, but also drastically changed their society, as afterward vampires had to take pains to blend into the mortal world. Not showing their powers. Not killing people when they feed. Changing identities every few decades, etc... Those that could not fit in, were killed by the Inquisitors. One of those inquisitors will be named later in this chapter - Heinrich Kramer: the writer of the Malleus Maleficarium. Jan will face off against him one day.

I am thinking that Bram Stoker was a vampire, and he was probably the one who began the campaign to de-mythologize vampires, and turn them into pop-culture. The idea being that eventually no one would believe that vampires were real. Carl Laemmle at Universal may have been a vampire himself. Or he was at least being manipulated by them to make monster movies. The same with the Hammer horror films. Anne Rice was not a vampire herself (she is too highly visible), but was definitely inspired by vampires, probably with a hypnotic or subliminal implantation of the idea. I figure Stephanie Meyer was a total free agent. By the time she rolled out Twilight, the train did not need a vampire conducting it anymore. No one believes vampires are real. If they do see one fly or feed, they will think it is just something else, like a superhero or a fetishist.

I came up with Selene's Heirs when I was working on a scene in Chapter 5 that is from Blood Raven's pov. I needed some terms and ideas that a vampire would use to form their worldview. I looked up "mother of vampires". I discarded Lillith because that has been done to death. I found Selene from Greek myth, and she struck me as perfect. That gave me a nice myth for Western vampires to ground themselves within. Whether or not any of it is actually true. Hecate's Gift naturally followed as a way to describe 'normal' magic, that keeps the Greek theme. They both add some color.









Incels

(Author's Note - Nightgirl, Nightman, Superious, Ms. Miracle, and Donar are all thinly veiled versions of Batgirl, Batman, Super Man, Ms. Marvel, and Thor. Wolfstone and Jet Gladiator are completely invented by me.)

(Second Author's Note - I decided to go back and change Blood Raven's civilian ID names, to make things less complicated. Now she was named Anne when she was born. Her current identity is as Branwen Renner. That is who wrote the books that Jan has read on Wicca).



Chapter 4.2 - Pride

It was past 11:00 pm when the last of the guys left. January cleaned up the dining room table, a.k.a. the gaming command center. Then she wandered around her new home - her new home! - and found her mother sitting on the living room floor. She had the long boxes of their shared comic book collection scattered around her. All were opened up, and individual books littered the room. She had a yellow legal pad in one hand, and was taking notes in it while she looked from comic to comic.

"Let me guess," January's mouth leapt into gear before her brain could clamp on the brakes. "You're Stormcrow, and you're brushing up on tactics."

"I wish," January's mother said. "Besides, she has blond hair, like you do."

Now January wished she had kept her big mouth shut. She was pretty sure that the first rule of maintaining your secret identity was not giving the people around you reason to think about superheroes, or consider how much you had in common with one in particular.

"She probably dyes it," January said instantly. "Or maybe she has a power that changes its color, so it looks that way when she's in her armor, and its actually black in real life."

"Or maybe she wears a wig…" her mother continued in that vein, which relieved January to no end. But only for the barest instant. "You are clever when it comes to this superhero business."

"Well I was reading all this since, well, I could read." January sat down beside her mother and picked up a worn copy of Nightgirl. She found herself smiling in spite of herself. When she had been little, Brigit Gallagher had always been someone she could look up to.

"Oh hey, remember that time you went out on Halloween dressed up as Nightgirl?" her mother gushed. "What were you, eight, or nine? I think I still have the pictures."

"Yeah," January smiled again when her mother produced her phone and brought up the photos. Compared to the Stormcrow Armor that Gadget had so masterfully crafted for her, the Nightgirl costume she had worn was cheap and trite. But she had worked on it for weeks, and had been so excited to finally put it on. She had even convinced her mom to let her wear makeup. Which had been a big deal, since it was still years before she came out and transitioned. Halloween was every transperson's favorite time of year.

"I remember Dad was so pissed," January mused, "I guess now we know why. Well, I guess I did then too."

"To be honest, even then I still had no clue," her mother said. "Even when you put that lipstick on like you had a hundred times before. I was just so overjoyed, because Nightgirl had always been my favorite. It felt so good to know that one of my kids actually thought something I liked was cool."

"That's one reason I wanted to be Nightgirl." January laid an arm around her mother and hugged her. "She was a librarian, just like my mom."

January realized that this was one of those golden moments in life. Like flying. She leaned into it for all that it was worth, determined to soak up all of the joy she could from this instant, and burn it into her brain for the rest of her life.

"So why do you have all this stuff out?" January said. "It's getting late you know."

"I'm working on an event for the library," her mother explained. "It's kicking off the Summer Literacy Program. I want to do a presentation on comic books, talk about themes they explore, have some for the kids to read, and hopefully get them excited about reading. But it's been so long since I have read them, I am out of touch with what is current."

"Well I hate to say this, but the superhero genre is not really that popular anymore," January noted. "With the internet and social media, people can watch videos of real supers in action. So comics about fictional ones are kind of superfluous, unless you like an actual plot or character development. What's big these days is Fantasy and Sci-Fi comics, like Wolfstone the Half-Orc or Jet Gladiator. Alternate Histories are getting more popular too, especially with Steampunk."

"The old comic icons like Nightman and Superious hang on because they're cultural institutions, like Colonel Sanders, or the Scooby Gang. The newer super comics that have staying power do it by keeping up with the times. The Nightgirl of Hancock run had stories about villains using social media to mine data, gentrification of neighborhoods, and even clean energy. Of course they could not resist throwing in a psychopathic transgendered villain either. I guess the classics never do go out of style. Then again the new Ms. Miracle actually dared to introduce a new protagonist who is not only female, but a Muslim, and in Baltimore no less!"

"Really?" her mother's eyes widened in surprise. "I stopped reading these around the time I had you. I had no idea."

January moved around the boxes, and found a few that were hers. She dug out some comics and handed them to her mother. "Read these, you'll love them."

"Donar is a girl now?" the red-haired librarian's eyes goggled.

"For a while," January said. "The incels were in an uproar. Donar being a toad or a horse-headed alien was perfectly fine. But having boobs was the end of the world."

"You shouldn't use that word," her mother insisted. "Remember, when they go low, we go high."

"That's not what you said when you taught me kick-boxing…" January noted.

"There is a time and place for putting your fist in someone's face," her mother said. "But until then, you should always be nice. You won't change their mind. But the other people who are watching will be swayed one way or the other by your behavior. They are the ones you want to win over. Besides that, a fight is what the trolls want. Don't feed them."

"When did you get so wise about the internet?" January marveled.

"I had AOL in my day," her mother murmured. "So why else do you like Nightgirl? I see you have a bunch of her issues here that I never read."

"I have more on my tablet I can send you. I do all my reading digital now," January remarked. "I like Nightgirl because she always had an uphill battle. Not just against the villains, but the people who should have been her mentors. She literally became a superhero because her father used his power as the police chief to prevent her from becoming a cop. Then the other capes she first reached out to all tried to dissuade her, and talk her out of being a superhero. She wasn't tall enough, she wasn't experienced enough, she wasn't male enough. Every door was slammed in her face. But she persevered and succeeded, in spite of everyone in her way."

"That was just what was on the pages," January mused. "The real misogyny was in the writers and editors behind it all. They literally victimized and objectified her to create 'character development' for the male characters. Not just once, and not just all a long time ago. In spite of all this abuse, she as a character persisted, and rose above the people who tried to hold her down. That is what I really admire about her. She is a Viking. She does not give up, no matter what."

"You should be giving this presentation, not me," January's mother declared. January simply stared back in amazement. Which prompted the older woman to continue. "I am serious. I am out of touch. But you not only know what you are talking about, you look at this from the perspective of both a writer and a reader. You can talk about more than just what's on the page, but what is behind the page."

"I wouldn't know the first thing about doing something like that!" January was flabbergasted. Slugging it out with Whitewater Security again seemed a less daunting prospect. "I wouldn't even know where to start."

"I will help you organize it," her mother reassured her. "I have done a million of these things, it's no big deal. We can work on it together."

January instantly felt it, the hook being set. Her whole family had just fallen apart. There was absolutely no way that she was going to turn down the chance to spend more time with her mother. After all, that was one of the reasons she had asked her to move into the house with her. She needed to rebuild that bond.

"Okay, I am in," January heard herself say. "When do you have to give this thing?"

"You will be presenting it this Friday," the librarian smiled.

"But that's in four days!"

"Then we had better get to work, shouldn't we partner?"


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Acadian
post Feb 8 2020, 08:14 PM
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A wonderful episode with some much needed bonding between Jan and her mother. I’m so pleased they seem to be connecting so well. The change in venue is probably good for both of them.

Wonderfully done conversation between the older librarian and the budding young writer.

’January realized that this was one of those golden moments in life. Like flying. She leaned into it for all that it was worth, determined to soak up all of the joy she could from this instant, and burn it into her brain for the rest of her life.’
- - It truly is a magic moment that you want to cherish forever when you realize it as it is happening.

"There is a time and place for putting your fist in someone's face," her mother said. "But until then, you should always be nice. You won't change their mind. But the other people who are watching will be swayed one way or the other by your behavior. They are the ones you want to win over. Besides that, a fight is what the trolls want. Don't feed them."
- - Wow, Jan’s mother really shows her creds with this ‘quoted for truth’ observation.


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post Feb 12 2020, 07:51 PM
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I am super-depressed today. sad.gif Maybe reading some Stormcrow will cheer me a little. Ghost Days looks like something I'd also like to read. Thanks for linking to that.

As much as her mom knows her, I don't think she'll be able to discern that January = Stormcrow. She's too close to really see the tree from the forest. I have a feeling somebody will figure this out though, somebody somewhat close to Jan.

QUOTE
Halloween was every transperson's favorite time of year.


Interesting. Yes, who can make judgments when everybody is dressed so silly?

Ha, who is this Ms. Miracle? biggrin.gif I wonder if she's battling our out-of-control squeegy kids, along with actual gangs, and whatnot. Oh, there's our list of corrupt mayors too, almost forgot about that!

That sounds nice, mother working with daughter to give this presentation. I'm sure Jan will be able to handle it, although I agree that the thought of doing so will be pretty intense. Because now Jan is going to need to be more personable in front of strangers, right? That's something she hasn't really mastered like her mom has.

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Darkness Eternal
post Feb 14 2020, 01:18 AM
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Oh the incels. Heard about that quite often.

Very funny of her to make that Stormcrow comment, and even funnier was her mother's response. I'm in agreement with her. Sometimes it is wiser to keep quiet on certain matters. Jan giving her mother some facts about the popularity of superheroes and comics made sense.

Nightgirl's history was also very interesting too, and Jan made very strong points. With her transgender background, it made sense why she would be so knowledgable regarding these matters. Her mother made a very wise decision in choosing her to make this presentation. I suppose she has a new mission.

Very emotional chapter smile.gif


--------------------
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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post Feb 15 2020, 06:59 PM
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Acadian: I really enjoyed writing that scene with Jan and her mother. I want her relationship with her mother to be a major force in her life, one of the ways she is grounded in real-life as opposed to cape-life. Although it might be difficult in the future, as her mother does have a life of her own. Or at least, she is going to realize that she needs to have a life of her own, and that is going to precipitate some changes.


Renee: I hope our friendly neighborhood Crowgirl put a smile back on your face. I don't see her mom ever figuring out that Jan is Stormcrow either. But you are right, someone close to her will very soon. Although he won't say anything about it for some time.

Halloween is practically a Queer holiday. It is one of the only times you can be yourself in a way that is reasonably safe.

Ms. Miracle is my version of Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan). I changed the names because I did the same with the other comic book characters I cited as existing in the Crow-Verse. I decided she lives in Baltimore rather than Jersey City because of you. So at least your city will get a comic book character in the Crow-verse. Though I am sure there is at least one *real* superhero there as well.

Jan giving that presentation is indeed a case of personal growth. As you said, it is going to be nerve-wracking. But as a cape, she is going to have to get used to speaking in public. This is her first step in that direction. In the future she will eventually do an interview with a reporter, and do several podcast appearances in her civilian ID to promote her writing.


Darkness Eternal: You cannot avoid the Incels if you are female and like science fiction or comics. I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to even use the term. It can certainly be used pejoratively. But it is also what they call themselves. Which is why I kept it in the end.

That scene gave me a nice way to do some world-building concerning the existence of comic books in the Crow-verse. It can get confusing, because now I am citing characters who are fictional within the fictional universe. Nightman, Superious, Joan Jet, are all in the comics in the Crow-verse. Not actual superheros like Jan. But it can be confusing at times even to me.

Nightgirl is a thinly disguised version of Batgirl, Everything I said about the misogyny of her writers is taken from real life. I changed her name to Nightgirl so DC cannot sue me.










Tardis

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Chapter 4.3 - Pride

"This feels kind of weird, like I'm sneaking around behind my mother's back," January groused.

She followed Blood Raven up the stairs to the third floor of the tower that jutted up from the front corner of the Witch House. The auburn-haired woman paused at the top of the stair. Like January, she was dressed in ordinary attire, a pair of leggings and a fitted jacket. She turned back to her descendant.

"Do you wish to tell her, everything?"

"Yes," January said honestly. "No. It wouldn't make her life better to know. Only worse. I just don't like keeping it a secret from her. I'm trying to make our relationship work."

"This is something everyone who wears a cape must grapple with," Blood Raven sat down on the top step, and motioned for January to join her. When the younger woman did, she continued. "First off, there are many ugly truths you have to face. Such as if you tell her today, will you have the same relationship in ten years? Or will she hate you so much then, that she will betray you with it?"

"She would…" January stumbled over the words before they could leave her mouth. Would her father betray her? Yes. Would her brother? Yes. Her mother, for all that she loved her, had been resistant when she came out and told her she needed to live as a girl. Only after January had attempted suicide had her mother accepted the reality that she was trans. That had always lain there like a dead rat, sitting in the darkest corner of January's mind. How much could she really trust her mother?

"This life engenders suspicion and paranoia," Blood Raven sighed. "It forces one to view the people nearest to you coldly, dispassionately, strategically. It is one of the reasons most metahumans give up the cape, or never take it up in the first place. The battles with black hats are trifles. Living with the cape is the true challenge. There is no shame in walking away from it. You can still lead a virtuous life, and remain a decent person without being this."

"Can I?" January shook her head. "How can I live with myself if I do nothing? I never would have made it through school without other people helping me. People like Avery, and my mother, or even my high school PE coach Mrs. Staley. I have to do the same."

"Good," Blood Raven said. "Knowing yourself is the most important first step. I suspect you know more about who and what you are than most people three times your age. You are going to have to decide for yourself just how much you can tell others about being Stormcrow, and how much to keep in."

"How many people know you are Blood Raven?"

"Half of them are sitting right here," the flame-haired woman answered. "But do not let my answer inform yours. You must follow your own stars. You cannot follow mine."

"You know, you can be a really warm and caring person, when you want to be," January laid a hand down on the other woman's leg. She was surprised when Blood Raven laid a hand - warm and seemingly full of life - atop her own.

"We all can be," she said. "We just pick and choose when and to whom we show that side of ourselves to."

"So what do I call you?" January asked. "I can't say Blood Raven for times like now. It said Anne on your genealogy chart. But you said Branwen yesterday."

"Either is fine," she responded. "I was born Anne, but obviously that is a name I do not hear often any more. Branwen is the name of my current identity, so that would be wisest. If someone else overhears, it would be easier than explaining why you would refer to me as Anne."

"Better safe than sorry," January nodded. "Branwen it is then, great-great-to-infinity-grandmother."

"Now my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter, I have something to show you." Branwen smiled in return.

"That is a lot of greats," January murmured. "It's a good thing you are immortal, otherwise you might die of old age just saying it."

"Some also simply use the number of greats," Blood Raven said dryly, "my seven times great-granddaughter."

January thought of that. She was nine generations removed from Branwen. Had Branwen known every member of all nine generations? Had she been there for their births, watched them grow, watched them die? How many identities had she been forced to juggle across that time? How many times had she gone through the contortions of inventing another distant cousin or aunt to pretend to be?

Suddenly it no longer seemed so strange that Branwen had disappeared from her life for fifteen years. What was that, compared to nine generations of children?

January was pulled out of her reverie by the sight of a soft golden light emanating from Branwen's fingertips. The auburn-haired woman reached out to the doorknob, and that light spilled off her hand and sank into the metal. January heard the click of a lock turning, and the door swung open on its own.

"I have kept this room sealed," Branwen explained, "so that none might abuse its… possibilities."

January followed her into the room. The ceiling rose high overhead, and the walls spread out far around her. The room was clearly larger than the entire house. January blinked, it was several times larger. From the outside, the tower could only have been a dozen feet across, at most. But from the inside, it was a far greater space. In fact, she was not even sure if the walls were circular, as they appeared from the outside. The more she stared, the more difficult it was to tell just what the actual shape of the room was, or its dimensions.

"It's like a Tardis," January breathed, "bigger on the inside,"

"Curious that you should say that," Branwen said softly, and closed the door behind them.

The ambiguous size of the room was not its most notable feature however. It was the designs inscribed into its walls, floor, and ceiling. The floor was inlaid with a pebble mosaic, like the kind January was used to seeing in pictures of ancient Roman or Byzantine buildings in her father's study. The pebbles traced out numerous curved lines that crossed and overlapped one another. Each line was laid out in a different color. Where two lines met, the color seemed to shift from one to the other, depending on how January focused on them.

The walls were inset with strips of metal, that likewise drew out more curved lines. Again, these came in all colors, depending on the metal they were made from. There was bright copper, gleaming gold, cold silver, dull gray iron, and more. Some of these lines intersected with those on the floor, joining together to form even larger contours. Others floated alone in the sea of angles and curves.

The ceiling was hung with beads. Every inch of the surface was covered with these strings, which varied in length, and the number, color and shape of beads fitted upon them. Some were made of metals such as the aforementioned copper, bronze, brass, or steel. Others were minerals such as quartz, malachite, carnelian, or bloodstone, and so many more stones that January could not put a name too.

These not only formed into still more lineaments of varying colors and textures, these changed depending on where January viewed them from. The entire room swam before her eyes. It seemed to form - and reform - as she walked around it. The more January concentrated on a specific set of features, the more sharply they leaped into focus, and the more the room seemed to alter itself to conform to that reality. It felt like the room was made of playdoh, while her eyes and mind continually reshaped it.

"It's not a Tardis," January declared. "It is R'lyeh. Euclid would have a heart attack in this place. There are angles that are there, but aren't. The room is a sphere, and a cube, and a pyramid, and whole bunch of other shapes I cannot even begin to describe. It's like being inside all my gaming dice. All at the same time, and none at the same time."

"Awesome!" she marveled. "This really is a Witch House!"

"This was my friend Keziah's sanctum sanctorum," Branwen explained. "She built all of this herself, to help her focus her energies. But also to help her cast herself across the realms. All things are possible here. All places, and all times. This is a wondrous place, and a terrible one. I am placing a great deal of trust in you, allowing you to be here."

She did not have say "Don't let me down." January conjured up the words all on her own.


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Acadian
post Feb 15 2020, 09:44 PM
Post #177


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From: Las Vegas



As enjoyable as the previous episode of mother-daughter bonding was, this one of great grandmother(7) – great granddaughter(x7) was fully its equal. I love how you are showing us that Blood Raven does indeed have a side to her that is warm, even caring.

Blood Raven well demonstrates the loneliness being a cape can entail. I suspect it is good for both her and Stormcrow to have a fellow cape to open up with.

I’m quoting two passages of conversation below because the styles of speech in each so perfectly match who is saying them:
- - "Half of them are sitting right here," the flame-haired woman answered. "But do not let my answer inform yours. You must follow your own stars. You cannot follow mine."
- - "Awesome!" she marveled. "This really is a Witch House!"

What a fascinating room!


Nit: ’She did not have {to} say "Don't let me down."


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Renee
post Feb 18 2020, 06:23 PM
Post #178


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Yes, Stormcrow did cheer me up a little last week. smile.gif Thank you.

QUOTE
There is no shame in walking away from it. You can still lead a virtuous life, and remain a decent person without being this."


January won't walk away though. Just flying around alone, and coming to the rescue of others.... she's already addicted to this lifestyle. (I hate to use the word "addicted" but I can't think of a better one). It's the same rush I am sure police and EMTs feel all the time when the flame goes under the pan.

QUOTE
January thought of that. She was nine generations removed from Branwen. Had Branwen known every member of all nine generations? Had she been there for their births, watched them grow, watched them die? How many identities had she been forced to juggle across that time? How many times had she gone through the contortions of inventing another distant cousin or aunt to pretend to be?


I just thought of something else. I am wondering what Bloo-- err -- Branwen did in all those decades and centuries in which there were no superhero "costumes?" You know what i Mean? Did she fly around in the late 1800s too, except wearing conservative Victorian garb instead of an outlandish outfit which makes her immediately recognizable in this modern age?

That would be a neat chapter ... go back in time and write about one of Branwen's adventures from back then. Hee hee! Well I guess they'd all consider her a witchy woman. Rumors abound around her, and so on.

I just got shivers reading about the Tardis room. indifferent.gif I wonder what this room could be for.

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Renee
post Feb 18 2020, 09:56 PM
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QUOTE(Acadian @ Feb 15 2020, 03:44 PM) *

Nit: ’She did not have {to} say "Don't let me down."

I actually like very little flaws like this. smile.gif With Goblin Lady I'd intentionally leave small mistakes in, just to remind myself I'm nowhere near perfect.
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