#everything has changed part 13
Everything Has Changed: Part 13
Days spent in the state of the art lab preparing for the first attempts at the experimental synthesis of medication and DNA modifications that would ignite those receptors that drew omega’s to alpha’s and vice versa. It was the first day of the experiment and the entire lab was buzzing with excitement and hopefulness that this would further limit the repercussions of the Snap and Blip.
With the volunteers already checked into the lab, you were in the midst of preparing for your part in the experiment, when the approach of Dr. Banner had stopped you in your tracks.
On his approach, your stomach tightened as you recognized the face of bad news. You didn’t know what he was going to tell you or what would become of the rest of your day, but you knew that something was going to change.
You could feel it in your bones, you could see it clearly in his eyes and the way he carried himself that there was something unspoken that was bothering him.
You moved away from the core of the lab toward the far left side that was much quieter and would allow for a hushed conversation. When you came to stand in front of him, you shoved your hands into your lab coat pockets, fiddling with the pen to keep your nerves at a low.
“Dr. Banner, what’s the bad news?” You asked even if you didn’t want to. If you could’ve remained ignorant, you would have. However whether you wanted to know or not, Dr. Banner would tell you.
“Y/N,” he crossed his arms over his chest, hesitating to speak, “I know that you’ve spent countless hours preparing for the launch of this procedure-“
“-but…?” You felt the preemptive sting of tears.
“You can’t be a part of the experiment itself. The conditions to be part of the actual testing of the procedure are very clear-“
“What did I do wrong?” Tears blurred your vision, the airy gasps that left your mouth were the tip of the emotional iceberg.
“Nothing, Y/N. You did nothing wrong. You’re brilliant and talented, however the conditions do not allow pregnant women to partake in the procedure.”
“Pregnant?” Your eyebrows furrowed and you wrapped your arms around yourself. “I’m not pregnant…”
“I had to do a final test on the blood we’d taken and on every sample you’d given us to confirm your readiness. When I test your sampled and your blood, I got the confirmations.”
To prove the point he was trying to make, Dr. Banner handed you the tablet in his hands with all the data already loaded snd ready for you to see. On the tablet screen was the clear image of your hormone levels that has shifted as well as the sharp spike in estrogen and progesterone that proved not only were you pregnant, but the levels in which they’d increased had opened the possibility up to their being more than one baby.
“There’s no symptoms.”
“You know as well as I do the symptoms of pregnancy’s may not show up within the first month. Based on the hormone levels, I’d say you’re just under a month.” Dr. Banner placed his hand on your shoulder snd squeezed.
“I’m sorry, Y/N. But in my good conscience I can’t allow you to be one of the constant’s in the experiment. You can still run the trial and head it up if you would wish, however being part of it is no longer an option.”
“Pregnant.” You stared at the tablet while mentally being a mile away.
Kids. You’d always wanted kids, but later on in your life. You were only 22 and you’d just started your career.
You heard Dr. Banner speak yet you couldn’t take your attention off the numbers on the screen. You couldn’t take your eyes off the hormone spikes and the clear data that damned you from your own trial.
“You should tell Steve and Bucky-“
“Excuse me.” You handed the tablet back to him, more like shoved it into his arms, and pushed past him.
“Y/N, talk to Steve and Bucky. Tell them before you-“
“I need air. I need-“ you slipped your lab coat off and tossed it toward a desk chair. Before it could even land on the chair, you were headed toward the door of the lab. You placed your hand against the biometric lock and wait the half second as it scanned your DNA before it let you out. You slipped through the door and moved in a haze, completing everything action that would take you from the lab, to the elevator and then to the lobby of Stark Tower. You moved by autonomy, while your head was reeling and you were consumed by a constant barrage of questions aimed at yourself and your situation.
“Y/N!” Your name was called but you kept moving. “Y/N, stop!”
You kept moving until you collided with a body made of muscle snd strength. After colliding with the body, you craned your neck and studied the man hovering over you, relief and insignificant anguish at the pair of blue eyes watching you.
His brown hair, thick and luscious, was cut short. It was a new look for him after having his longer hair for a while. He was clean shaven too, it looked as fresh as his haircut. His blue eyes were caught between concern and caution, his hands reaching out to grab your arms.
He was your alpha, you should find comfort in his touch and yet…
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” He was holding your arms in gentle grasps. “You didn’t hear me calling your name. What’s wrong?”
Pregnant. You were pregnant.
“I need air. I need to get out of here. I need…” Your eyes dart around the lobby of Stark tower, your stomach churning the burning acid inside.
“You’re okay.” Bucky cupped your cheeks. “You’re going to be okay just-“
“No!” You slapped his hands away. “No im not going to be okay! I’m not okay! I need air!”
“You’re having a panic attack,” he reached for you again, “let me help you.”
You stepped back, your eyes widening as the sting of bile rose in your throat. The word PREGNANT has been at the forefront of your mind, repeating on a record.
You wanted kids, but not yet. You’d worked so hard to get where you are now.
You were going to be sick. You couldn’t breathe and you were going to be sick. You felt the bile rise in your throat, the stinging acid that burned as it crawled, the fresh wave of bushes tears making it hard to see as you nearly collapsed from the shock of what had just conspired.
“Are you okay?” Bucky was on you in an instant, an arm wrapped around your waist to steady you. “You’re flush.”
“I need air…” You mumbled under your breath, settling into a panic attack that was sever enough to induce nausea.
“Let me help you upstairs, doll.” Bucky started to help you stand and while his touch was comfortable, it was almost smothering.
His presence as an alpha gave you comfort you knew you needed yet it had also made you feel as if your breathing was even more restricted than it had been. It made you feel as though you were truly gasping for air.
“No!” You pushed him off of you with unknown strength. “No! I need air! I need to be alone!”
You rebuffed him and ran with all you had in you to the exit. You burst through the doors of Stark tower and pressed on even further. You ran until your lungs were burning and your heart was beating like a war drum in your chest and when you finally stopped, you sunk.
You sunk to your knees and wrapped your arms around yourself as you cried, as you screamed your frustrations.
You wanted to be a mother and you wanted your career.
You wanted a baby and you wanted your own mother back.
You wanted a family with Steve and Bucky, and you wanted to see the fruits of your years of hard work.
You cried until you couldn’t anymore. You cried until your voice was horse and your eyes were puffy.
You don’t know how long you were out there, wherever you were. You didn’t know how long you’d spent curled into yourself, crying until your voice was weak. You’d spent your energy running from your anxieties, running from the news that flipped your world upside down.
“It’s okay.” Steve’s voice hit your ears, the suffocating comfort was replaced with gentility. “You’re okay, doll.”
He came to your side and held you, he came to your side and embraced you as you broke down in his arms. You clung to him with as much might as you could gather, silently accepting the shift in comfort as he pulled you into his lap in whatever alley or on whatever street you’d found yourself on.
“You’re going to be okay, sweetheart.” Steve mumbled into your hair, he pressed his lips against the side of your forehead and soothes you with the gentle rocking of his body. “Let me take you home. Please.”
“Take me home.” You went lax in his arms, knowing that you had a lot more processing to go through but it would be better to do it in the comfort of their presence, with them being part of the conversation.
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thorns just for spite alternate ending (johnny/taeyong)
thorns alternate ending where everything goes wrong.
you MUST read thorns (linked above) through chapter 13 before proceeding! chapter 14 is almost identical between the two versions to help orient you, but small changes have been made for tone.
Chapter 17 - artemisa absinthium | Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Masterlist
Characters: Johnny, Taeyong, the rest of ot21 intermittently
Genre: florist!au, bakery!au, hanahaki disease!au, angst, hurt/no comfort, pining, tragedy
Warnings: major character death, loss & grief, cursing, blood, violence, heavy/dark themes
Rating: Teen & Up
Johnny goes to the funeral. He knows Eunyong and probably some of his friends will be mad, but Mark insists he come.
“Taeyong’d want you to be there,” he says. “I don’t care what Eunyong or anybody else says. You were his best friend, Johnny. It doesn’t matter how badly it ended. It would be disrespectful not to go.”
So Johnny goes to the funeral. Eunyong glares at him when he comes in, and spends the next few minutes seething with Doyoung, but nobody except Johnny notices. He’s fine with that. He knows her anger isn’t wholly misplaced. And for all their friendship, and all of Johnny’s love, Taeyong’s family gets to have their way today, so he can’t really fault her at all.
Taeyong’s parents, of course, are forgiving where Eunyong is not. They greet him with a hug; Taeyong’s mother is clutching a wad of tissues and he feels her shivering when he wraps his arms around her shoulders.
“I’m sorry,” Johnny whispers. “I mean, I’m sorry for how I acted.”
“It’s alright,” Taeyong’s mother replies. “Taeyong didn’t blame you, so we won’t, either. Besides, it’s no time for blame. We’re all hurting.”
Her kindness is like a knife.
Taeyong has an open casket, and Johnny can hardly bear to look at him for more than a moment. The cosmetologist filled out his cheeks somehow, so he looks healthier dead than he did in the last month or so of his life. It feels wrong. No part of this should masquerade as beautiful. Johnny wants people to see what this disease does. Johnny wants people to know how much it hurts. Taeyong’s death was not peaceful. Johnny wants to scrub the makeup away and show them—this is what this disease did to my best friend. This is what I let this disease do to my best friend. The boy I loved. My Taeyong.
He steps away from the casket after just a moment and tries to disappear in the mass of people sitting in pews, heads bent. It’s a hot, muggy day; they’re set for a thunderstorm sometime this afternoon. With all these people packed into a small space, even the air conditioning can’t stop the beads of sweat from lining his brow. He pats them away, almost irritable, as his parents come sit beside him. Mark’s family joins them, too.
Eunyong gives a speech so her parents don’t have to. Johnny doesn’t dare to look at her, afraid that meeting her eyes will incinerate him on the spot. He keeps his gaze trained on his lap, where his hands are twisting restlessly, and listens.
“My little brother was the kind of person who loved big and hard,” Eunyong begins. “When he was a baby, sometimes he’d grab my fingers so tight I thought he’d break them. Taeyong was the kind of person who loved everything.” She pauses for a breath. “Taeyong found love in everything. He loved this town. He loved our little flower shop; he loved each flower he picked to settle into its place in a bouquet. He loved my parents so much he dedicated his life to their livelihood. He loved me so much that, even after a childhood full of holding my hands so firmly I’d lose circulation, he let me go. I never thought I’d have to return the favor, but now, as I do, I realize that his love is what’s taught me how to do that, too.”
Johnny balls his fists, thinking about baby Taeyong and his crushing grip on his big sister’s pinky finger. He remembers when Eunyong first went away to college in the big city. Johnny went over to Taeyong’s house to keep him company that night. Taeyong had looked up at him over a game of Go, solemn and calm, and said, “She’s never coming back.”
“What?” Johnny asked, taken aback. “How do you know that?”
“Because she asked me last night,” Taeyong said, “if it was okay for her to go.” He clinked down one of his pieces and nodded at Johnny to take his turn. “I said yes.”
“But—she’ll come back to visit, right?” Johnny asked.
“Yeah,” Taeyong said, like it was obvious. “But this won’t be home to her. I don’t think it ever was. Not like it is for me.”
“What do you mean?” Johnny asked, puzzled.
Taeyong blinked at him. “Like, I want to be buried here, up on those beautiful cliffs,” he said. “Eunyong doesn’t.”
Mark told Johnny that Taeyong’s parents bought a plot by the sea. He’ll be buried under the lush green grass with a view of the ocean, like he said he wanted.
“Taeyong loved like forgiveness,” Eunyong is saying. “Taeyong loved like giving. That’s why this happened—not because he was weak, or stupid, or too young to know what was good for him. It’s because love, to him, even in its abundance, was too precious to throw away. I think he was right about that—even if in the end, that was what took him. Every time I love, I’ll think of him.”
People approach her tearfully afterwards to offer their condolences and tell her how beautiful her speech was. Johnny’s parents are among them, but Johnny slips away to get some fresh air. The air is even thicker outside, but Johnny doesn’t mind. He looks out over the lawn behind the church, and lets out a deep breath.
“You’ve got some nerve, showing up here.” Johnny turns, startled, and sees Doyoung shutting the door behind him as he walks out onto the patio. Thunder rumbles in the distance, and Johnny swings his head back around to see the storm clouds getting closer. “He was asking for you, even at the end, you know.” Johnny sees him come right up to him out of the corner of his eye, but he feels frozen. He can’t even turn to look; can’t bear to meet Doyoung’s eyes. “Have anything to say for yourself?”
Johnny sighs unsteadily. “What can I say, Doyoung?” he asks helplessly. “I know. I know I was wrong. I know I should’ve tried to talk to him sooner. I know I should’ve been there.”
“You know why he was asking for you?” Doyoung asks. There’s something odd about his tone, but Johnny can’t put his finger on it.
“I was his best friend,” Johnny replies. His voice trembles. He trembles. “And he was mine. Of course he wanted to see me. I know.”
“No,” Doyoung says. “No, it wasn’t that.” He shoves Johnny’s shoulder, making him stumble. Johnny wrenches his gaze from the sky as he hears another rumble of thunder, louder this time. “Look at me. Look at me, you asshole.” Johnny finally meets his eyes, and sees that they’re bright with tears and gleaming with rage. “Did you ever wonder who he was in love with? Did you ever wonder who it was he loved so much he’d die for it?”
Johnny’s stomach sinks; he feels sick. “Yes,” he says hoarsely. “All the time.”
A tear slips down Doyoung’s cheek as his face crumples. The air around them is heavy and wet; the storm will break any second. “So did I,” Doyoung hisses. “And it turns out—it was you. He loved you, Johnny!” He strides up to him and shoves him again. Johnny staggers backwards, off the patio and into the grass. He feels a drop of rain hit his nose.
Doyoung follows; he reaches out and grabs the lapels of his jacket and shakes him. “He loved you, and he died for you, and you wouldn’t even come to tell him you were sorry! And still he loved you. He died thinking you hated him, and still he loved you!” Doyoung’s crying in earnest now, and the rain is really beginning to fall. Johnny feels it on his head and on his shoulders. His chest feels hollow and empty. He finds himself wishing for the flowers again as Doyoung’s words finally hit him. My dream was right. It was me all along. Why didn’t I go sooner? Why didn’t I see it? “You didn’t deserve his love, and now he’s gone, and I blame you.”
Johnny can only stare blankly beyond Doyoung, at the trees at the edge of the yard as his vision blurs with tears. “Me,” he mumbles faintly. “He loved me.”
“Now you cry?” Doyoung’s tone is wild; he laughs, derisive. “Now you feel bad; now you want to apologize?” He releases him, pushing away.
“I’m sorry,” Johnny says, and Doyoung raises his fist. The crack of his knuckles against Johnny’s cheek coincides with a bright flash of lightning. The wind whips the trees as Doyoung hits him again. Johnny throws his arms up in a feeble attempt to defend himself, but he can hardly bring himself to care. In a way, the pain is good. He knows he deserves it.
“It’s too late!” Doyoung sobs, raising his voice to be heard above the whistling of the wind and the roar of the rain. “It’s too late; he’s gone!” He tackles him, sending them both crashing to the ground. The grass is already soaked, and the cold of the wet is like ice on Johnny’s back. “Why the fuck did you even come today, huh?” Doyoung punches him again and again, some hits landing on Johnny’s forearms, others successfully making contact with his face. Johnny feels his cheek start to swell. “To pretend to mourn? To act like you care, now that he’s dead?” He spits the last word at Johnny like a curse. “How dare you?” His voice is venomous; it shakes with his grief. “How dare you?”
“I loved him, Doyoung!” Johnny gasps. “I loved him. I was sick too, and it was for him.”
This shocks Doyoung into stillness, arms still raised, eyes wide. “What?” he whispers.
“The fight we had, I was trying to convince him to get the surgery with me,” Johnny rushes out through his tears. “And that day—the day I finally went over, I was going to try again. I was going to tell him, I was going to tell him everything. I hoped maybe it would convince him, I don’t know. I didn’t know he loved me. But I—but I was too late.”
Doyoung scrambles off of him, chest heaving. “You have hanahaki, too?”
“Yes,” Johnny says, gingerly pushing himself up into a sitting position. “Yes. I—I went and got the surgery last week. For my mom.” He doesn’t know why he’s explaining. Maybe he’s afraid Doyoung won’t believe him. “I couldn’t leave her.”
Doyoung pushes himself to his feet slowly, brushing off his pants. His knuckles are bloody and torn. He shakes his head. “All this time,” he whispers. “All this time, you could’ve saved each other. None of this would’ve happened.”
“I didn’t know,” Johnny repeats, feeling numb. “I didn’t know.”
Doyoung draws in a deep breath, like he’s about to say something else. But then he just lets it all out, shaking his head again. The burning anger in his eyes has dulled to a cold fury. “It should’ve been you,” he says through gritted teeth, and then turns and walks back towards the church, leaving Johnny alone in the grass with the rain.
He doesn’t know how long he sits there. He knows Doyoung is right. It should’ve been him. He wants the earth to swallow him whole, wants a bolt of lightning to strike him, wants to drown. Taeyong loved me, he thinks. Taeyong loved me. The answer was right there the whole time.
Eventually, he hears footsteps approaching, and feels a hand on his shoulder. Mark’s face comes into view as he squats down in front of him, pressing a napkin to his cheek. “Hyung, you’re bleeding,” he says. “Come inside. Come on.”
Johnny searches Mark’s face desperately. “I didn’t know, Mark,” he whispers. “I wish I’d known. I wish I’d said something, I—”
“It’s okay,” Mark says quickly. He tugs Johnny’s arm, shushing him when he sobs. “Come on. Doyoung didn’t mean it, he’s just really sad, like the rest of us. It’ll be okay, you’ll see.”
“I loved him, Mark,” Johnny mumbles as he lets Mark pull him to his feet. “I loved him.”
Mark walks steadily beside him, holding him up. His voice quakes with the weight of his words. “I know, hyung,” he says. “I know.”
= = =
The months pass blurrily. Summer gives way to autumn; autumn bleeds into winter, and before Johnny knows it, his 24th birthday is long past and the snow is melting. Fresh green stalks are poking their heads out of the half-frozen ground. The kids who are in college are coming back soon; Sicheng and Jaehyun are graduating. Chenle is graduating high school; now only Jisung will be left. Everyone is growing, healing, moving on. Everyone except Johnny.
Though the grief has dulled somewhat, it still remains, a constant, unpleasant thrumming in the back of Johnny’s mind. The problem is, he doesn’t let himself move on. There’s a theory about grief, which is that it’s like a button, and you are a box around your grief and the rest of your thoughts. At first, it hurts all the time, because as your thoughts bounce around, they don’t have a lot of places to go, so they end up bumping against the grief button a lot. But as time passes, you’re supposed to grow around it. The box gets bigger, so there’s more room for your thoughts, and they start bumping into the button less and less. That doesn’t mean that every time you do hit the button that it doesn’t hurt as much as it did at the start, but you hit it more and more rarely, so you’re not so bogged down in it anymore.
Except, Johnny doesn’t grow. His box stays the same. Or maybe his grief just grows with him, an emotional tumor left from the disease that no surgery could ever fix. Or maybe it’s not grief at all; it’s guilt, terrible and vast and unkillable. No matter how much Johnny grows, it fills that space, hungry and vicious. He should’ve done something. That’s all he can think. He should’ve done something. He should’ve known. Why hadn’t he known?
Finally it’s warm and dry enough out that he can go visit the cemetery at night without freezing or catching cold. He doesn’t like to go during the day because he doesn’t want anybody to see. He feels like he shouldn’t be there still, even after all this time. Johnny’s busy with the bakery during the day, anyway. And besides, who wants their pain to have witnesses?
So one night when he can’t sleep, he pulls on a thick jacket and drives out to the graveyard. It’s a little removed from the town, on the cliffs that face the sea. He can hear the crash of the waves as soon as he turns off his car engine. Sighing, he gets out of the car and ambles down the rows, searching for Taeyong’s grave. He’s only been twice this whole time; once with his parents, and once with Mark and Jaehyun, but he’s pretty sure he knows his way.
Someone is standing in front of Taeyong’s grave, and Johnny pulls up short. It’s too late, though—the figure has turned towards him, having heard his footfalls even over the crash of the waves.
“Sorry,” Johnny mutters, turning to leave, fear and grief souring the air in his lungs.
“No, wait.” Doyoung’s hand twitches at his side. “It’s okay.”
Johnny takes two steps closer. They’re silent for a moment.
“Can’t sleep?” Johnny asks finally.
Doyoung tilts his head side to side. “Something like that,” he replies. Silence again. “He knew about you, didn’t he?” he asks after a few long minutes. “That you were sick, too?”
“Yes,” Johnny says. “Before I even told him.”
“He’s good at that,” Doyoung says, his breath catching in his throat mid-sentence. He pauses before he corrects himself. “He was good at that.”
Another stretch of silence follows. Johnny listens to the waves, breathing deep and steady, eyes trained on the gleam of the moonlight on Taeyong’s gravestone.
“I’m sorry,” Doyoung says softly. “I lied. At the funeral.”
“What?” Johnny asks.
“He didn’t think you hated him,” Doyoung clarifies, and Johnny releases a breath. “In the end. He understood. He knew you weren’t angry. Just sad.”
“Thank you,” Johnny says. It feels worse that way, almost. But it is so like Taeyong. It makes him ache. “Thank you for saying that.” Another pause. “I knew you weren’t angry, either, not really,” he adds. “At the funeral. Just sad.”
Doyoung nods slowly. “Will you forgive me?” he asks.
“For almost breaking my nose?” Johnny offers him a quick, thin smile. “Yes, Doyoung.” He balls his hands into tight fists in his pockets. “Will you forgive me? For abandoning him?”
Doyoung hesitates, but nods. “Yes,” he says. “You didn’t do it on purpose.”
“But I did it,” Johnny says, still staring at Taeyong’s gravestone. Doyoung doesn’t try to argue. Johnny is grateful.
They stand quietly again. The night is turning colder; the wind picks up and carries with it the smell of salt so strong, it makes Johnny feel a little sick.
“I’m leaving in the morning,” Doyoung says quietly. “For the city. Taeil’s old roommate moved out last week, and he needs someone to split the rent. So I came to say goodbye.” He looks up; Johnny can see the movement out of the corner of his eye. He waits until Johnny turns to look back at him before he continues. “I’m glad I ran into you,” he says. “I’m glad I don’t have to leave without speaking to you. I mean, I understand better now. About why you did what you did. It’s hard to pick up the phone and call. I meant to. The time just… slipped away from me.”
“I could’ve called, too,” Johnny points out.
“Taeyong could’ve called, too,” Doyoung agrees. “So I’m saying I understand.”
Johnny nods. “I’m glad I ran into you, too.”
Doyoung’s eyes are shining. “Will you promise to take care of him?” he asks, nodding to Taeyong’s grave. “When I’m gone?”
Johnny feels a deep sadness unfurl in his chest like smoke, heavy and dark and burning. “Of course,” he says. “I’ll visit all the time.”
“Good.” Doyoung turns, gazing out over the sea. “I think he’d like that.”
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Chapter by Chapter: 15 Show Me the Receipts, Baghra!
Only when I was in my room, the door closed securely behind me, did I let my sobs overtake me.
Oof. I really do feel for Alina here, in the span of just a few minutes, her entire world has changed. She built herself on the bedrock of Mal, and now it's been shattered. Even if I believe she made the right choice, and refused to take his disgust and derogatory implications, Alina still has to grieve his loss in her life.
Do I think Mal is gone from her story? Lol no. That's not how books work. He's been given major narrative space, too much for him to simply fall by the wayside. I might be reading this for the first time, but I’m no fool.
The distance widening between us felt like a palpable thing
This is something I mentioned all the way back in Ch. 2, everything about the story has put physical and narrative space between Alina and Mal.
Everything from how they're drifting apart emotionally and socially, to their physical gap between Alina standing far away from him when they go into the Fold.
In Alina's place of rebirth, Mal enters utterly removed from her.
And her powers awake for herself, not for Mal. I still think that's an inescapable part of Alina's journey. She needs to learn to do things for herself, for her own character growth.
This codependent relationship with Mal needs to grow and change or wither and die on the vine.
"Come back, come back." But he wouldn't. I'd as good as ordered him to leave.
This is part of the story where I'm beginning to grow unsure over how Leigh views Mal and Alina's relationship or if I'm simply taking her unreliable narrator too seriously.
Alina plainly did not order Mal away. She has no power to do that, and I don't believe for one second that if Mal (who's been shown to be impulsive, brash, stubborn) had been determined to stay he wouldn't have told Alina.
So, I'm putting this down to her blaming herself combined with an unreliable narrator. I don't blame Alina for telling Mal that if he wants to leave so bad, then to go. It makes me feel icky and uncomfortable to say "No, Alina should have begged him to stay," because fuck that shit.
soft knocking at my door...What if it was the Darkling? I couldn't bear to see him now
Oh god, I totally forgot about the Darkling and Alina's PG-13 steamy smut fest. This plot is really picking up steam! At the same time, Alina so does not need more complications/emotional stress right now. (In other news I have now become familiar with the term "Darklina.")
The Twist is Coming
A bony hand snaked around my wrist, seizing me in an iron grip
That is a horror movie jump scare.
Narrative change alert! Baghra has never been seen outside her hut, and now in the middle of the night she's at Alina's door in the Little Palace?! Something is up!
"Come," she said..."Leave me alone, Baghra." I tried to pull away, but she was surprisingly strong.
"You come with me now, girl," she bit out.
"Now!"...Baghra closed the door behind us, keeping hold of my wrist.
Stop, right there! Do not pass go! Alina, I know you're in a vulnerable situation right now, but someone just dragged you out of your door in the middle of the night (with like, concerning strength) and refuses to give an explanation.
That's basically YA cat nip, but irl that's a hard no.
She dragged me in the opposite direction to the other end of the hall. She pressed a panel in the wall, and a hidden door swung open. She gave me a shove... stumbled down a narrow staircase, every time I looked back she gave me another little push. When we reached the bottom of the stairs, Baghra led me down a cramped hallway with bare stone floors.
Alina, I know you're exhausted but this is not good! Baghra, a woman (I reiterate) who you do not know well nor do you trust, has literally dragged you down to the basement away from all others in the middle of the night. Nothing good will come of this!
Baghra grabbed hold of my wrist again and tugged me into a dark, empty chamber. She lit a single candle, locked and bolted the door, drew closed the curtain on a tiny basement window.
Ok... getting worse. Now I'm not saying that Baghra is planning to murder you, but I've been on the look out for plot twists and Baghra bumping you off in the middle of the night after the festivities (and potential danger) has passed would be a great plot twist.
"Here," she said, shoving a pile of clothes at me. "Put these on."
Yeah, no. That's gonna be a no from me.
"You must leave this place. Tonight."
I have a rule: No believing major revelations without evidence or explanation
Again. Hard no. No major changes without explanation- Alina is valuable, this could be so many, so many very bad things. Murder is just the tip of the spear, I'm going with potential kidnapping now.
I blinked. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm trying to keep you from spending the rest of your life as a slave."
An explanation that only makes the situation worse- great (/s). Alina (because she's not insane) demands an explanation and refuses. Thank the gods.
"The Darkling is close to finding Morozova's herd."
Good news! That's what we've been waiting for!
"I know," I said thinking of Mal.
No, no, Alina- mind on the dangerous situation you're in.
"I thought you didn't believe in Morozova's stag."
"That's what I told him. I hoped he might give up the stag's pursuit if he thought it was nothing but a peasant tale. But once he has it, nothing will be able to stop him."
BAGHRA IS THE BIG BAD?! She's the main villain?! I mean in retrospect- scary, witchy woman living in hut is utterly obvious....But her line of logic is bewildering: Lie to the Darkling, hope he believes me, he finds the stag --> kidnap Alina.
Ummm... what? None of this makes any sense. My internal skeptic is screaming:
"oh, so you waited until you'd gained Alina's trust, and she was intensely vulnerable, both situationally and emotionally, dragged her away to a hidden basement, and want to disguise her and take her from the Little Palace."
Who on god's green earth would read this and think: hmmm, seems legit.(NB: of course much of this can be put down to the plot moving forward, but still!)
Show Me the Receipts, Baghra
I threw my hands up in exasperation. "Stop him from doing what?"
"Using the Fold as a weapon."
This is really not explaining anything, lol. How? Why?
I swear, I read in this book that the Darkling lights up the fold like a beacon, or that he can't use his powers in the Fold/volcra will attack him. Nothing about that says: can manipulate the Fold (assuming of course that he's telling the truth, but his lack of presence during the Fold Crossing's appear to support this statement)The man can't even go into the Fold, I'm not sure how amplifying his powers would make that situation better.
"Then talk sense," I said. "How could anyone use the Shadow Fold as a weapon?"
Alina is finally speaking my language. Questions.
She leaned into me, her fingers digging into my flesh. "By expanding it."
Me: thinking through the socio-political implications of Ravka gaining control of the Fold. (X-Files music intensifies)
Also Me: You know what? That's genius.
The Fold is like a nuclear weapon, but better. None of the other countries have any hope of replicating such a thing, nor turning it against you. (Note: I'm not saying it's a positive/good moral thing to "use" the Fold, only that this would be an AWESOME plot twist and would benefit Ravka.)
Control of the Fold=Turning the War to Ravka's Favor
I mean, I don't believe it (yet) but if that was something the Darkling could do- he'd threaten Fjerda or the Shu Han- I'm behind it (in theory since we have no input from the supposed inventor of said plan). They're committing genocide against Grisha, threatening to expand the Fold across their borders would prevent them from mass murdering their own citizens... (I could go on about the real world historical comparisons of of the mid 20th century but everyone can probably figure it out)
To misquote Roosevelt- that's a big stick.
Is this the twist?
"The land that the Unsea covers was once green and good, fertile and rich. Now it is dead and barren, crawling with abominations. The Darkling will push its boundaries north into Fjerda, south to the Shu Han. Those who do not bow to him will see their kingdoms turned to desolate wasteland and their peoples devoured by ravening volcra."
That is a big ask for me to believe. Even if I do- that's the most black and white villain-esque thing the Darkling could possibly do. So, that makes me wary. As a reader, I love nuance, and I'm really hoping there's more to this than some Dr. Drakken "TAKE OVER THE WORLD" villain monologuing in my future.
The old woman had clearly lost her mind.
"Baghra," I said gently, "I think you have some kind of fever." Or you've gone completely senile.
Lmao. I'm picturing Alina patting her hand and speaking slowly and clearly.
"Finding the stag is a good thing. It means I can help the Darkling destroy the Fold."
Other than Alina carefully speaking with just 1 and 2 syllable words (you know, so poor senile Baghra can understand) I've been hit with a sudden burst of inspiration.
What happens if the Fold is destroyed? Ravka is joined once again, but they'll still be separated by an ocean of sand. A desert wasteland. Ports will be accessible once again, and Ravka will be able to supply itself with finished products/technology.
What happens if the Darkling uses Morozova's stag for himself and can control the Fold? Does that mean he could localize it? That he could use it as a weapon against Shu Han and Fjerda? Reduce the Fold from where it is currently until it's only pushing at the borders, or create passageways to allow transport of materials?
Conclusion: I need more information. And other than that: reliable information I don't have to second guess and try to work through looking for inconsistencies in Baghra's story. I don't trust her, so I can't trust what she says.
My mind is just whirling with the possibilities.
"No!" she cried, and it was almost a howl. "He never intended to destroy it. The Fold is his creation."
I sighed. Why had Baghra picked tonight to lose all touch with reality?
I'm loving sassy "not having it" Alina. Although, because this is a book she's bound to be somewhat wrong, her "no bullshit" attitude really appeals to me here. Also, her appeals to historical accuracy speak to me on a deep level.
"He is the Black Heretic," she said furiously, her face mere inches from mine.
Darkness was pooling in Baghra's palms, the skeins of inky blackness floating into the air.
BAGHRA'S A DARKLING! Now her being the Darkling's teacher makes a whole, hell of a lot more sense!
"You're his mother,"
(Screams!)I was just joking previously about Baghra being the Darkling's grandmother, but now I feel incredibly smug I was half right.
The Darkling had claimed he didn't know what Baghra's power was. Had he lied to me?
Of course he did, dummy! How do you protect someone when you're a huge target? By decreasing their value as a hostage to him personally, politically, and power-wise.
Same reason (but inverted) why he put you in a black kefta. The Darkling can't keep you under wraps and out of sight so he did the next best thing- said "touch this, and you will live to regret it."Baghra as "the Darkling's mother/insanely powerful teacher" is a target for assassins/kidnappers trying to use her against the Darkling and threat for her continued education of Grisha soldiers
Baghra "Tidemaker teacher" is just another Grisha at the Little Palace, dangerous? Maybe. But old. Weak. (from their perception)
On the list of Baghra's accusations- this is the most understandable. Even if their relationship is intensely antagonistic- the Darkling clearly has some affection for her. She had hopes he'd listen to her lies, and he goes to her for advice, and she willingly teaches scores of Grisha- there's only one conclusion we can draw from that- Baghra is important to her son. Her son protects Grisha- he protects his mother.
"He has served countless kings, faked countless deaths, bided his time, waiting for you. Once he takes control of the Fold, no one will be able to stand against him."
I just love this paragraph. It lays everything out quite well, with very well chosen words.
"The Fold was no mistake. The only mistake was the volcra. He did not anticipate them, did not think to wonder what power of tha tmagnitude might do to mere men."
"The volcra were men?"
Holy shit! I just went back to one of my first posts on S&B and I said
assuming of course that we don't learn later on the volcra are sentient
Former sentience kind of counts!
"I warned him that there would be a price, but he didn't listen. He was blinded by his hunger for power. Just as he is blinded now."
I feel like I'm missing A TON of context. And I'm being swept along in this plot without being given time to internalize/analyze everything that's happening (by design). But, some of this, I must point out, doesn't square up (and paints Baghra in a role that seems a little too innocent)
She says "I warned him there would be a price," not "I tried to stop him."
There's also the fact that the Darkling filled Baghra in on his plans prior to making the Fold which certainly implies that he valued her council. And Baghra is all "the Darkling's greed and arrogance," without saying "I made mistakes too" puts me on alert.
Also, why did he make the Fold? Was it intentional? If so, what did he hope to accomplish? This was hundreds of years ago, before the Little Palace, when Grisha were being murdered en masse for their abilities?
Seriously, we need to think these through to their logical conclusions- and right now... it's muddled at best.
"Only the volcra have kept the Darkling from using the Fold against his enemies...The monsters cannot abide sunlight. Once the Darkling has used your power to subdue the volcra, he will be able to enter the Fold safely."
...what's wrong with that? As in, how does it deviate from the established narrative of what Alina and the Darkling were going to do? Alina takes out the volcra, the formerly sentient people now turned ravenous monsters, which prey on anything living that enters the Fold (to tear them apart and consume them).
And the Darkling uses the Fold against countries currently committing genocide against minorities... that's your villain twist?
That's the epitome of "Bad Guy has a Point" villain trope?
I mean, if that’s the argument it sounds more like anti-hero territory than villain. This should all be prefaced by: I will not accept these things without proof.
So far, the only proof we have is that Baghra is a Shadow Summoner (is that the right terminology?) Which may imply that they are related.
I believe that- but Baghra has also proved untrustworthy, at the very least she (along with the Darkling who somehow is beholden to different standards) has been lying to Alina since the moment they met.
Alina convinces me more than Baghra
"He wouldn't do that. He would never do that." I remembered the night he'd spoken to me by the fire, the shame and sorrow in his voice. I've spent my life searching for a way to make things right. You're the first glimmer of hope I've had in a long time.
"He said he wants to make Ravka whole again."
Actually, this, more than anything Baghra has said, is persuading me that the Darkling might be trying to do this.
From one angle- reuniting Ravka could be taking control of the Fold. He certainly could feel shame and sorrow if he turned those people into volcra by mistake, if now people hate Grisha even more, especially since now the Darkling has devoted his life (lives?) to helping Grisha.
Why would he spend hundreds of years working to empower Grisha, to carve out a life without fear, a life of stability for them if all the Darkling cared about was expanding the Fold?
"Stop telling me what he said!" she snarled. "He is ancient. He's had plenty of time to master lying to a lonely, naive girl."
Oh, are we finally treating the Darkling like he's really his age? Instead of him acting like he's 25-30? That would be fantastic- if there was any narrative impact. The Darkling has not acted his age, has not acted like his "romance" with Alina was planned and all manipulation down to the letter.
You know why? Because the Darkling certainly could have done a better job of seducing Alina if he were actually trying. Full stop.
You’d think if he were ancient and just wanted Alina under his thumb, he would know that. The fact that I, at the ripe old age of 23, can figure that out makes this just a bit disingenuous (or badly written).That is, however more a critique of Leigh's writing than a point within the narrative.
Things Go from Uncertain to Unbelievable: A Hot Take
"Think, Alina. If Ravka is made whole, the Second Army will no longer be vital to its survival."
That is such nonsensical bullshit I don't even know where to start.
So, countries without Folds just don't need militaries? Countries without Fold's wouldn't want militaries with an advantage on other enemy nations?? I live in the US, and haven't called BS this hard since the Manhattan Project.
Ravka conscripts every Grisha alive into military service. And that is the best life available to them, in the most free country they are given the privilege of living a short, violent life. Verses being burned at the stake or vivisected for the crime of being born.
Even if Baghra is correct, living a life where some Grisha aren't made in child soldiers sounds like the bare minimum wish for any world.
"The Darkling will be nothing but another servant of the King."
Isn't that what he is now? Even the Darkling said "we all serve someone." I don't like hating on this so much, but there are so many better arguments Baghra could make here.
Tell Alina, the Darkling wants to enslave all Grisha and he'll have the power to do it.
Say, the Darkling wants to kill all the people who don't use the Small Science, and remake the world in his image.
Screw it, go full Magneto! And of course, Alina is starting to believe Baghra:
I was starting to shake. "Please stop."
"But with the Fold in his power, he will spread destruction before him. He will lay waste to the world, and he will never have to kneel to another King again."
Show. Me. The. Receipts.
Proof. I demand proof. Not just words from someone who's been lying to Alina since the moment they met, real tangible proof from a reliable source.
I'm not saying I disbelieve everything, but Alina, as a sane, rational character should not believe Baghra just based on these words. It leaves her wide open to being taken advantage of.
"All because of you."
Oh woah! Nope. That's some real, top level victim blaming that I cannot get behind. It's a manipulation tactic that Alina is particularly vulnerable to, especially in this moment where she's been rejected and blamed by Mal. This just adds to the self recrimination, the self hatred that she's going to go through.
Talk about the Darkling manipulating a naive, lonely girl- take a good, long look in the mirror Baghra and tell me who his mother is.
"No!" I shouted at her. "I wouldn't do that! Even if what you're saying is true, I would never help him do that."
"You won't have a choice."
See what Baghra is doing there? She's saying- you have no choice, you stay here he'll take your choices away, your agency does not matter. I am the only one who knows the truth, I am all you can rely on. I have isolated you in this basement, and you have obeyed me thus far, you have already bought in to my narrative.
It's manipulative, toxic, insidious, if Baghra is correct about everything that is still true. Leigh has made Baghra complicit in taking away Alina's agency. You know, just like she's accusing the Darkling of doing.
Baghra lays down some heavy lore on the stag that I'm not sure how I'm meant to feel about.
I think she's saying- kill the stag, you get it's power. Kill the stag, give the amplifier to another, and you take their power? I'm not sure I understand the process of thought behind it.
I'm going to keep reading and think on it!
Alina's Thought Process
We all serve someone.
The King is a child.
You and I are going to change the world.
He had lied to me about Baghra. He had lied about the Black Heretic.
HALT! So, we've gone from not believing to believing with no inbetween. Why? There's no through line of logic here.
Had he lied about the stag too?
I really think this is a case where we need to remove ourselves from the situation, Baghra's influence, and think about it.
Gather evidence, have our protagonist figure things out for herself. She cannot stand against the Darling if Baghra is telling the truth. But also keeping in mind- she cannot stand against Baghra if Baghra is lying.I advocate for more agency on Alina's part. It feels kind of uncomfortable to say this, but Alina as our protagonist, she needs to reach a point where she advocates for herself, she needs to take power, take agency.
An Uncomfortable Thought
There's an uncomfortable undercurrent in all this- what if Alina tells Baghra no?
Alina is isolated, alone, no one knows where she is, in the basement. If Alina tells Baghra she needs time, what happens? Does Baghra just let her go upstairs back to her room- most importantly- Baghra has not asked. She has only commanded.
Baghra holds all the cards. She's demonstrated her powers to Alina, and all Alina knows is what Baghra has told her. It seems rather notable that there is an unstated threat here- they are away from the sun, moving in the shadows, at night, away from all others, with all the windows shut to close out any moon light.
Perhaps that's not meant to feel threatening, but I would certainly feel at risk if I said no.
If you can't say no without retribution then it's not really consent.
Had it all been deliberate?
If the Darkling was written to be ancient instead of acting like a 25-30 year old- I would totally buy into that. But he's never been written from that angle. So... maybe?
The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak
How right he was.
No that's total malarkey. Wanting makes us human.
I'd made it so easy for him.
Urgh. No, look around you Alina! The Little Palace is full of Grisha who feel the pull, who want the Darkling, who admire him, put him on a pedestal. You are guilty of exactly nothing, you have a crush, you aren't a rock without emotion.
He had warned me that the age of Grisha power was coming to an end. I should have known he would never let that happen.
How exactly were you supposed to know any of that?
I thought of poor Alexei and all the others who had been left to die in the black reaches of the Fold. I thought of the ashen sands that had once been soft brown earth. I thought of the volcra, the first victims of the Black Heretic's greed.
The Problems with this:
Baghra just talked about how the Darkling intended for you to destroy the volcra.
You are buying into this after literally no evidence from an unreliable source. I hate to say this but: fake news!
The Darkling wanted to use me. He wanted to take away the one thing that had ever really belonged to me, the only power I'd ever had.
So, I have problems with this statement. But also positive things. Incredibly glad Alina has finally embraced being Grisha (thank the gods!).
A little annoyed that all of a sudden she thinks the Darkling is going to use her, when it's pretty obvious he was going to use her before this.
Like- you're at the Little Palace because everyone wants you to destroy the Fold... you're all there to be used for a purpose.
Am I missing something? Alina was reading a book a few chapters ago that said Grisha powers were inherent, didn't Baghra say that too? You're born with them, they are like the beating of your heart, the breath in your lungs- they can't be extracted and taken.
"All right. What do I do?"
Conclusion: A List of Baghra's Claims
The Darkling wants to make Alina a slave
The Darkling wants to use the Fold as a weapon/expand it against Fjerda/Shu Han
The Darkling created the Fold
The Darkling is the Black Heretic
The Darkling is Baghra's son
The Darkling created the Fold intentionally, only the volcra were unexpected
The Darkling is blinded by hunger for power
The Darkling will use Alina to subdue the volcra, then have no limit on his power
If Ravka is made whole the Second Army will not be important
The Darkling plans to destroy the world
The Darkling will take Alina's powers as his own
Claims Confirmed-ish/Things I Maybe Believe:
The Darkling wants to use the Fold as a weapon/expand it against Fjerda/Shu Han
The Darkling created the Fold
The Darkling is the Black Heretic
The Darkling is Baghra's son
The Darkling will use Alina to subdue the volcra
Claims I'm Confused by/Need More Evidence
The Darkling wants to make Alina a slave (then why didn't he just locked her up until he could take her powers?)
The Darkling wants to use the Fold as a weapon/expand it against Fjerda/Shu Han (Believable but I still need a smidgen of evidence other than simple, unreliable words)
The Darkling created the Fold intentionally (Baghra is not telling the full story here, she says she warned there would be a price- way to be vague on the details-how convenient)
The Darkling is blinded by hunger for power (if he's had literal centuries of life why hasn't he seized power before this? Why bother faking his death- being immortal is kind of a display of power)
If Ravka is made whole the Second Army will not be important (see above for why this makes no sense)
The Darkling plans to destroy the world (so does he plan to help Grisha, expand the Fold against Ravka's enemies, to reduce the whole world to dust? I don't like this black and white "wants to destroy the world for no reason- cuz evil" kind of plot)
The Darkling will take Alina's powers for his own (I think this is a lore point that I don't have enough information on)
Thank you guys so much for the engagement! I always get a huge smile on my face when someone leaves a comment! :)
Before Chapter 1, Chapter 2 Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7 Chapter 8-10, Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 (pt 1) Chapter 14 (pt 2)
Alina is Complicit: A Genya Analysis
Black Kefta Symbolism Analysis
18 notes · View notes
1. Did you wake up cranky?
i always wake up cranky
2. Would you date an 18-year-old at the age you are now?
3. Do you prefer to be friends with girls or boys?
4. Would you ever smile at a stranger?
5. Can you commit to one person?
6. How do you look right now?
7. What exactly are you wearing right now?
8. How often do you listen to music?
9. Do you wear jeans or sweats more?
10. Do you think your life will change dramatically before 2014?
well it didn’t
11. Are you a social or an antisocial person?
12. If the person you like says they like someone else, what would you say?
i would be devastated
13. Are you good at hiding your feelings?
14. Can you drive a stick shift?
15. Do you care if people talk badly about you?
16. Are you going out of town soon?
17. When was the last time you cried?
18. Have you ever liked someone you didn’t expect to?
19. If you could change your eye color, would you?
20. Name something you have to do tomorrow?
21. Name something you dislike about the day you’re having.
22. Have you ever liked one of your best friends of the opposite sex?
23. Are you nice to everyone?
I try to be.
24. What are you sitting on right now?
25. Do you think you can last in a relationship for 6 months and not cheat?
26. Have you ever wanted someone you couldn’t have?
27. Who was the last person you talked to before you went to bed last night?
28. Do you get a lot of colds?
29. Have your pants ever fallen down in public?
30. Does anyone hate you?
31. Do you have someone of the opposite sex you can tell everything to?
32. Do you like watching scary movies?
they’re my fav
33. Are you a jealous person?
34. If you had to delete one year of your life completely, which would it be?
35. Did you have a dream last night?
36. Is there anyone you can tell EVERYTHING to?
37. Do you think you’ll be married in 5 years?
i better still be married
38. Do you think someone has feelings for you?
39. Do you think someone is thinking about you right now?
40. Did you have a good day yesterday?
41. Think back 2 months ago; were you in a relationship?
42. Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
43. If the person you wish to be with were with you, what would you be doing right now?
44. What’s the best part about school?
45. Do you have any pictures on your Facebook?
46. Do you ever pass notes to your friends in school?
47. Do you replay things that have happened in your head?
48. Were you single over the last summer?
49. What are you supposed to be doing right now?
50. Don’t tell me lies, is the last person you texted attractive?
i want to do a guardian print novels comparison lol.
i have a simplified edition which in some ways is excellent: it has the kunlun prequel text, all of the extras, the chapters are edited in a way that clearly indicates priest polished it up to make the story ‘better’ (priest changed chapter 1 from Guo Changcheng seeing a random guy with no legs to Zhu Hong’s tail and fainting, adds details to a lot of chapters). The only thing its missing is the explicit sex scene (I think - it might even have it for all i know, but i’m guessing not since that’s usually cut out of simplified print novels i think?). But like in general - my simplified chinese Guardian novel seems to be the most complete version of the novel as far as final edits/extras. This isn’t necessarily the link I bought from, but this is the simplified print version I have (aliexpress does have a lot of priest books for sale).
I just got the traditional character version of the books (which is so beautiful WOW the covers and inside looks so nice). So far, its chapter content is more like the webnovel (so no scene edits/details added like my simplified version, no Kunlun prequel). There are a few edits of wording on small things (suddenly versus abruptly, next/then, that kind of thing). I don’t think it has any of the extras, so its not the original traditional published version with the shen san extra (i thought it was?). So upside is my simplified copy does seem to be the most complete, and the traditional one i have matches the webnovel most if i wanted to compare differences. Downside is i’m surprised the traditional version has so little content? This is the traditional print versions I bought, volume 1 and volume 2. That site can be ordered from in english, worldwide.
feeling the urge to do something with japanese again but i don’t know what. logically, doing nukemarines memrise decks is... probs the most effective thing to do. i don’t feel like doing flashcards though.
i kind of feel like listening to japanese core 6k or japaneseaudiolessons, just because i can just play them in the background (easier mentally than flashcards). maybe reading japanese audio lessons basically textbook - but that’s if i feel like reading?
also just kind of. feel like playing a video game - maybe kh2 since i know the game well enough i can still ‘speed play’ if i don’t want to slow down and read everything on screen (whereas persona 3 and crisis core took 1 hour to get to save points since i had to slow down and read everything). i read some scripts yesterday in japanese... and watched some shows yesterday (though that hardly counts since they had eng subs). my mind just wants to ‘do’ things, not really do flashcards lol. so like? listening, watching, playing - my brain thinks it sounds fun! but reading lessons/doing flashcard drilling of study materials, i feel tired lol...
i also kind of. just want to do some challenge for myself like: do clozemaster japanese for 1 month and see how much i get through/how much i improve? or do japaneseaudiolessons for 1 month and see how far i get etc.
chinese wise: i officially re-did all 12 chapters of Guardian with Listening Reading Method step 2 with the other audiobook by wheat. Now I’m officially on a new chapter 13, with avenuex’s audiobook, and going back to doing step 2 AND step 3 (for vocab). Again, as SOON as i switch to avenuex its easier to follow what’s going on without looking things up - i think part of it is the way she narrates sort of... slows down and speeds up depending on the emphasis in the sentence? so its easier to catch exactly what’s key info/characters interacting versus description. and also her voices for everyone are more different, and she edited in guardian drama music so a lot of the scenes i bet have some ‘ingrained’ memory from when i watched the show helping me recognize the scene that’s going on. i imagine for ‘comprehensible input’ this version just has a lot more i ‘get.’ also just in general i love her audiobook ToT.
though wheat’s is really nice! i like wheat’s voice and would love to talk like them. For shadowing, I find wheats is really good because the audio is mainly just voice, and a deeper voice (which i both would rather sound like and find easier to identify the words clearly as far as for repeating), and all an even speaking speed except dialogue - so i can repeat after what wheat says in small phrase bursts without falling behind too much. So for listening in the background, more general listening practice, and for shadowing practice i plan to use wheat’s more.
while step 3 is more focus intensive, i think doing it once minimizes how many words i have to look up in step 2 and how many times i feel step 2 would benefit me. when i skip step 3 i feel like i could do step 2 for 3-4 times and keep picking up a lot of new words. so to speed up progress, probably just going to do step 3 then step 2 again (or step 2 then 3 we’ll see).
L-R method has really helped my vocab for guardian ToT i have no problem reading the traditional version now. i also have far less trouble reading new chapters for the first time (still have words i need to look up, just its not enough to prevent me from following the main idea and details). I’m really glad I decided to try L-R method with guardian. I’m really excited how this is going to affect reading other priest novels later (or L-R tian ya ke, sha po lang, mo du). Because i can already notice it making Mo Du a bit easier. and i’m only 13 chapters in out of 100+ plus extras. I notice it makes reading and listening skills better. I don’t know about its claim from some of “from A1 to B1″ in 30 hours (which is what someone did with Italian, with some previous romance language study). Because I was probably like a A2 or weak B1 when I started trying this? (Idk I was like HSK4 with a smattering of extra passive knowledge that didn’t line up to HSK 5-6 exactly, so i could read Xiao Wangzi and watch Shan He Ling etc but only knew like half the words on HSK 5-6). So I don’t know if for a beginner, if L-R method for chinese would get them very far, or how many hours it would take. I’d say for a beginner-intermediate learner though, it will boost your listening level quickly (vocab a bit slower but i do notice progress now). And since listening level can fall behind reading, that’s a nice thing.
I read about someone who’d done L-R for mandarin for 300 hours though with less progress made though and i’m still curious why. Because i’ve done about maybe 30 hours and seen a lot more - idk if just having a base in chinese first helps a lot (like i got the 300+ hours basic learning done before i even tried L-R method and they just need to get through their hours to hit milestones too), or if they do something different. But given that experience, i do think if L-R isn’t giving small noticeable progress at least every 5 hours or so (and reasonably noticeable progress like easier listening comprehension of previously studied chapters or learned some handfuls of new words in 10 hours) then it makes sense to switch it up or try something else. like for me - switching to a literal word for word text using pleco dictation-translate tool has been much more effective. i would guess in part because its word for word so i don’t have to put in mental effort to re-arrange sentence grammar to the words i’m hearing in the audio (but more effort to know chinese grammar so not as helpful as a beginner in some ways unless u understand the story beforehand with step 1 reading the text in a language u understand). and in part because it keeps my translation synced to the audio so i don’t lose my place, can replay portions, and don’t therefore waste time being as mentally drained or confused. and doing step 2 in pleco (or anything with a quick click dictionary) so i can see some definitions with step 2.
still kind of want to just binge the videos on “learn korean in korean” youtube channel. he just makes such good lessons even though i’m not really studying korean.
also... mmm... korean clozemaster... mmm (i would probably learn nothing because translations do not tend to be literal for many asian languages on there so chinese and japanese only work for me cause i know enough words/grammar already to catch when things are not literal/outright wrong)
> Download 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God That Invites You into His Story Full Pages
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Book Details :
Author : Larry Crabb
Pages : 432 pages
Publisher : Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10 : 0849946409
ISBN-13 : 9780849946400
Book Synopsis :
Read Online and Download 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God That Invites You into His Story .Forever change the way you look?at the Bible . . . and your own lifeHave you ever read the Bible only to come away confused? Ever wondered if God actually?had you in mind when He began telling His story?Though life may not be going according to your plan, God has another one, far?better than you can imagine. From Genesis to Revelation, experience His invitation to?get you dancing with joy.In 66 Love Letters Larry Crabb offers a fresh, relational look at Scripture:?When you finish reading my first love letter to you, I want you to realize that I?never underestimated how thoroughly you?d mess up your life or how painfully?you would struggle and suffer, and I don?t want you to underestimate your?failures or struggles either. They?re all part of the story I?m telling.??But neither have I underestimated my determination or ability to enter both?the mess you?ve made and the pain you feel, then turn everything around. I can, and?I will, make everything good again. Never underestimate .
Larry Crabb book 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God That Invites You into His Story.
The Rise and Fall of the Shepard Family Part 15: Winter, 1082
Part 1& Part 2
Part 3 & Part 4
Part 5 & Part 6 & Part 7
Part 8 & Part 9 & Part 10
Part 11 & Part 12 & Part 13
Things changed as soon as Edyth moved in. At first, it was clear that she was acting in the compacity of a servant. She cleaned, served meals, and tended to the animals. But as her pregnancy progressed she was treated in a more favorable way and given her own chambers across the hall from Marcelle. She also stopped doing much of anything, and the house soon became a scene of disarray, tension, and confusion. By the time her daughter, Agnes, was born, Marcelle let her do whatever she wished.
The older children had been shocked that another woman had come to take their mother’s place so quickly. All three of them thought it was disrespectful to the memory of their mother- it was just too soon. The younger children were largely ignored by Edyth, and they knew enough about people to know when they weren’t liked. Edyth had grown used to only paying mind to those that were important, and she hypocritically resented the idea of playing mother to anyone else’s children. This was how little Edith Shepard had come to stay in the Squire’s residence in the first place.
In truth, Edyth resented them for being born into a life she could only dream of. And when she was alone with Marcelle, acted as his ears and eyes and told him everything that the children had done in his absence. She also talked poorly about Gwendolyn, as it was a well known fact that she was only the daughter of a Shepard- peasant folk. Why should she get to marry so far above her station, when Edyth knew she would never receive such a proposal from his father?!
One night, after he had come to her rooms, she said, “My Lord, is she not the daughter of a peasant? Do you think that is a good match for your first born son?” Marcelle said nothing, but the idea had already been injected into his head, and she saw the wheels begin to turn.
Shortly afterwards, Agnes was born. And the next night Marcelle, who had been rather neglectful of his children, called Frances into the Great Hall to discuss his upcoming marriage. His face was serious and solemn, and he got straight to the point.
“I have decided that you will end your engagement to the Shepard girl, and instead marry a Lady that is more appropriate to your rank as my heir.”
Shocked, Frances stood there for some moments, not knowing what to say. Finally, he replied, “But the arrangements have been made for some time, and we announced our betrothal to everyone. You have already accepted her dowry and sold her estate. If you did not wish me to marry her, why did you make those arrangements?”
Marcelle cleared his throat and colored. “I can see you are concerned about the girl, and I promise you she will be well taken care of at the orphanage. She will want for nothing and will be able to live in a manner far above her lowly station.”
“Her lowly station? She is not so lowly as you think her. She is intelligent, kind, caring, and has learned everything from Mother that will help her thrive in the role of my wife and Lady. I don’t understand why you have suddenly changed your wishes from that of my Mother.”
He scoffed, “Your mother had some silly romantic ideas in her head, and I should have never let her arrange the match. I let your mother get her way far too often, and I should have put her in her place long ago-”
“Arrange the match?! What are you saying?”
Marcelle bit his lip in regret, as he had not meant to make all known. But what did it matter?
“Your mother made sure to throw you two together, frequently and often. She wanted you to marry the Shepard girl, and not the Whitestone heir. She thought Llywelyn an honorable man due to his past military exploits. But it was a silly idea. A Shepard is a Shepard, and I will not have it for my first born son.” He gritted his teeth with contempt as he said the last part, so the words seemed to slither out of his mouth like a snake.
Frances suddenly felt a touch of queasiness at the thought of his parents doing anything behind his back. He had always believed that they might arrange a match for him, but he had hoped he would have some say in the matter. What was the reason for all the secrecy?
“I cannot comprehend what you are saying. You gave your consent long ago! We have been engaged for months, and have publicly announced the match. You cannot just go against Mother’s own wishes and call it off on your own whim! And her name is Gwendolyn. Stop calling her "Shepard girl!” Frances had never so much as raised his tone to his father, ever, but now he was shouting.
In truth, Frances had always somewhat feared his father. Marcelle did everything with absolute resolution and with such force of will, never had he once questioned his own decisions. He did not bother taking counsel from anyone, or listening, and Frances knew that. Most of the arguments that entered the head of his son died on his lips, as it seemed futile to argue with such a stubborn man.
Marcelle then stood up, his face bright with rage.
“Do you really want to throw your life away on a mere peasant girl? If you want to make her your mistress, do it discreetly! Build her a cottage where you can visit her. But you will not marry her, or I will cut you off at the knees without a farthing to your name!”
“Father- I love her!” Frances resented the way this sounded, more like a plea from a child rather than a man about to be married.
“Don’t be a fool. You can bed her without letting her lowly birth tarnish your house. Everything I have done I have done for you. I will not see you play the fool!”
Deflated and defeated, Frances knew he still must plead her case as much as he was able. After she had cut off her own long engagement to Oswald for him, he could not abandon her. He would not.
“Very well. But you must give her back her dowry. How much was it worth?! Not enough I am beginning to understand! If I am not to marry her, you must give her back what is her rightful inheritance. It is the only honorable thing to do, though we both know none of this is honorable!”
“Don’t you speak to me of honor boy! Lord knows what you’ve been up to at night with your peasant whore! That money has been spent for the care and upkeep of her and her siblings. Our family owes them nothing! Nothing!”
That’s when Frances realized in a moment of terrifying clarity that his father had used her dowry on the building of his church. Stunned, he felt hot tears stream down his face. So he had robbed her of her marriage, robbed her of her dowry and inheritance, and now was robbing the couple of any future they might have had together! He didn’t know what to say, and knew there was nothing he could do. So he simply turned away and walked.
He kept walking until he reached the open air, and then walked more until his estate was far behind him. He had to clear his head, but he couldn’t stop his heart from squeezing out fresh tears. Oh, to think of the promises he had made her while she wept in her room! They all sounded like lies now, and he hung his head in shame and sobbed.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry!”
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