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Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
[Let's build D100] Ships you might come across in a busy port.
The party has come into a busy port and decide to visit some other ships. Who might they discover, what might they find?
d100 Interesting Ships in a Port
Shani and Aurora's Tent of Two - The two goblin sisters Shani and Aurora sail providing services to port settlements. Shani claims to be a seer and charges 60gp for a "reading" of the future (she is not). Aurora 'The useful one' provides the service of casting identify for 20gp. She may also agree to sell some of her extensive library if offered the right price. [dweeb_bush]
The Bones Brothers - The bones brothers are a travelling group of jolly bards. As their name suggests they are animated skeletons. Jimbo-double bass, Timbo-guitar, Limbo-vocals, Dimbo-marimba and Franky-drums. They are very hospitable and put on a show for anyone who comes and visits them! [dweeb_bush]
The Lovers - A small nondescript boat lies just off the dock. The is no sign of activity on board apart from the dock inspector who is trying to find out who's boat it is. The truth is the owners of the boat died ten days ago and the boat has miraculously drifted safely into port. on a successful DC 10 investigation or perception check the party members discover two young male elves cowering in the cannonball chest. When the lid is lifted they start begging for their life. If pressed they reveal that the crew was attacked by sirens, the majority of the crew succomed to the siren's calls however the two young boys, deeply infatuated with each other did not care for their temptation. They ran out of food last night and thought they were surely doomed! [dweeb_bush]
The Crows - A large black boat rests in port, neatly secured off one of the more expensive jettys. The most defining feature of the boat is that it is bustling with activity, not by humanoids but 3d12 black ravens. One wears a small captains hat and appears to undersatnd the party. If the party casts speak with animals they discover that the crows were awakened through a series of trials on a new spell aimed to mass awaken a group of creatures. The crows have varying degrees of intelligence and are all chaotic neutral alligned. The crows rebelled from, Hignory Flip, the wizard running the trials on a small island about 2 days sail from the port, and stole his ship. [dweeb_bush]
Captain Redbeak! - A suspicious longship hovers low on the water. There is a steady stream of humanoids entering the covered boat and leaving a few minutes later with a small package. The ship belongs to Captain Redbeak, a feirce pirate captain who runs a drug trade: the drug in question is a relatively cheap drug called "Peak Water" and is collected dew from mountaintops, it gives the user a high that lasts 1d4 hours and gives the user a d4 of bardic inspiration. It costs 10gp per hit. The ship is manned by 2d6 Bandits, and if threatened or reported they will attempt to kill the party in defence of their lives. [dweeb_bush]
Crazy Mr McGee - A delerious man stands warding off the dock guards with what looks like a loaded blunderbus. He's yelling about his notorious reputation as a savage pirate and keeps claiming they have come to "Take away my princess". The princess he's referring to is his boat- he imagines that it is a glourious gallion but in reality it's just a rowboat. If the party manage to subdue the man the dock guards thank them and offer to buy them a drink later that night in the tavern. [dweeb_bush]
A Con??? - The players are drawn to a commotion hidden behind a crowd of people. A large goliath (Manneo) seems to have taken a small dwarf (Skalgrouth) hostage and is threatening to slit his throat if the dock guard do not meet his demands "I'll bloody well kill 'im if you don't give me what I want: 100gp worth of rubies and free passage out of this shit hole!". In reality the goliath and dwarf are working together pulling off this stunt at various ports in the area, so far, to great success! [dweeb_bush]
The Rat's Den - The players follow a stream of rats on board a decrepid looking riverfairing vessel. When they make cross into the canvassed interior they see an old kobold playing the pipes, he seems to be a rat-catcher. If the party interrupt him in his ritual he turns the a swarm of rats against the party and runs off into the port. [dweeb_bush]
Seeking Refuge - A smallish sloop titled 'The Diamond Endeavour' pulls into port, it's sinking and fast! A crew member (Emery Green) jumps onto the dockside and is yelling for help. The vessel was struck by a great storm while at sea and they sustained damage when they brushed by a reef. Luckily they werent wrecked but unluckily they could not repair all the damage with materials on board. They've been bailing for hours and can no longer bail as fast as the ship is filling up with water! If the characters wish to help they can make a DC 13 group athletics check to bail enough water to stop the crew from having to jump ship and leave it to sink. If the players are successful Emery thanks them profusely and offers them a map to a shipwreck they were on the way to dive at before the storm hit them. "It's rumoured that this is the wreck of the old pirate lord, Feather Toothed Bill's ship and may hold riches beyond imagine!" [dweeb_bush]
The Gilded Sail - A group of merchants, all of various races, each offering unique, and expensive, magical trinkets. True to their name, their sail is actually a thin sheet of gold, and the rest of their ship is covered in valuable metals and gems. It’s also very well armed, as are the merchants aboard. Keep an eye on the rogue when this one’s around. [Dragon_Overlord]
The Patchwork - A large ship which seems to have been destroyed and repaired numerous times with whatever material the crew had, from birch wood to copper metal to even welded armor and weapons. Speaking of the crew, they appear to be a mishmash of Kenku, Kobold, Halfling, and the occasional Tabaxi and Goblin. The captain appears to be a raccoon by the name of Majos, which, if your party stumbles upon the question of why and how a raccoon is a ship captain, she would respond with “a salty mage who didn’t know how to win a simple game of cards had a tantrum.” She would then offer the party a game of cards in which if the party beats Majos, she rewards the party a hefty sum of 100 GP, and if any party member is any of the races listed above, she rewards an additional magic item (DM’s choice) and offers a position to the party member for them to join her crew. Accept and the party is taken to an additional encounter to an island for treasure. Decline is acceptable and Majos would accept any favor from the party. [SpyroAndToothless]
The Feyr Winds - An elegant ship that carries goods and treasures from far off Elven lands run by a mixture of elven and faerie creatures. Their most illustrious goods are fruits that can do many things such as heal wounds, cure poisons, or even granting stat bonuses for a minute! (Vendor: Fruits are magical and can take on the effect of any potion you want.) [OSpiderBox]
Gnasher's Maw - A tribal-ized longship driven by a "merry" band of lizard folk. They obviously don't understand personal space or social norms, and are seeking people to help them with a Giant problem. (Hook: if your party is having downtime while they look for their next quest, this could be that hook they need.) [OSpiderBox]
The Esteemed Steamboat - Artificers run this marvel of steam engineering. However... it's currently in a state of disrepair. Looks like heavy damage from some monstrosity. While they're extremely proficient in fixing it, they have no money and are looking for work to pay for supplies. (Allies: party could hire some of them for an upcoming task/adventure, or even offer to fund the repairs in exchange for favopassage.) [OSpiderBox]
The Mainstream (You’ll never need a bigger boat!) - A casino cruise ship featuring a large game room, several bars, comfortable rooms, a pool and a hot tub fueled by a continual flame spell. It is captained by a tall, brown scaled lizardfolk woman named Kepesk. The dealers are kenku bards repeating rules and barking (“Step right up, try you’re luck at the Wheel of the Goddess of Fortune!”) There is also a large vault of gold on board, guarded by lizardfolk soldiers. One particular patron is looking for a few helping hands for a bit of a caper now that he knows the guards patrol schedules. [spiff2]
Rocinante - A relatively fancy and expensive ship being up kept by the Quijano family and their servants. The last living member of the family is a young man, obsessed with swords and thirst for adventure. He agrees to let the team borrow the ship, in exchange for him coming with them on their adventures to wherever they’re going. [DrFishPhd]
Deep Blue - In a corner of the harbour, a seemingly empty ship. Sails are neatly furled, crew seems to have left the ship mere hours ago. On the deck, small openings allows the visitor to enter the hold, in it, some barrels, hammocks. Beside one of the hammock, a book, quite old, written in an old version of Common language.In the middle of the hold, some blankets cover a group of trunks, under these trunks, another opening ... leading to another hold. In this hold, vessels, old fashioned lanterns, and some parchment written in ancient language. At the bottom of a bulkhead, an opening, some stairs gong down in another hold.Wood seems ancient, and strange figures are carved into the wooden parts of the boats. Some ancient runes are covering pillars. In the middle of the hold, a panel with nails made of some unknown metal, once open, stairs going down in the dark. From the shadows, the noise of little splaches. [doctor_providence]
The Mosquito - Run by a crew of githyanki pirates. What seems like a normal battle vessel, once on the open ocean, the sails begin turning outward and suddenly the ship begins gliding above the waters surface at fast speeds. [GladiatorJustin]
The C.H.U.D.- The Shell of a massive deceased Dragonturtle floats next to the dock, it’s ends sealed by mechanical claws, and a viewport fitted into the front. The C.H.U.D. (Chelonian Hammerworked Underwater Dirigible) was designed by the Gnomish Inventor Hector Copperspark. Crewed by gnomes and halflings as they are the only ones small enough to man the complex machinery crammed into the turtle shell, the C.H.U.D. is a mercenary vessel that hires out to perform naval attacks. Hector just got a lead on a new job, and he needs some muscle to pull it off... [Lakandalwa]
The Temple - A ship that serves as a mobile temple to a water deity. It goes from port to port to carry services. [SMGB_NeonYoshi]
Cloudscraper - One of the gems of the Romish Empire's formidable fleet, the Cloudscraper is a powerful warship specially constructed for defeating sea monstrosities of all kinds. Developed after the Queen's late husband was killed by an island feeder (colossal sea beasts known for swallowing swaths of land whole), this vessel with an imposing tower-like bridge is loaded up with all types of harpoons, cannons, and magical armor. Some even say that, thanks to a powerful magical engine, the top half of the ship can separate from the brig to chase after flying beasts attempting to get away. With how famous it is, plenty of townsfolk are eager to get a look at the shining bronze beast of a boat. But what's it doing here of all places? [MildlyConcernedGhost]
The Wistful Wanderer - A small sloop with a single cabin in the middle of the deck. A skilled observer might note that the sails and rigging as well as the rudder occasional shift to right the ship or tighten and secure themselves more. The cabin is actually permanently enchanted with a Mordenkainen’s Magnificent mansion and the ship is handled by a permanent crew of 20 unseen servants. It is owned by the Wandering Wizard Wesley Wrycroft. He sails the world at his leisure, seeking trade for scrolls and arcane artifacts. He also regularly hires adventurers to gather difficult to reach artifacts from unworthy hands whenever he finds a lead on the location of such a relic. [Lakandalawa]
The Magic Brawler - A merchant ship with a very strong looking captain comes to port. If the party chooses to look at their items the captain will challenge the party to an arm wrestling match. Beating a DC 20 strength check will award the party one minor magic item from the captain's personal stash, and beating a DC 25 strength check will award a magic item of the DMs choosing. [TheInstitute4]
The Friend Ship - A comfortable looking wooden ship full of people just hanging out on the deck. While aboard this ship you find yourself under the effects of the Charm Person spell to make everyone friendly with each other. [Stormkiko]
The Dragon Ship - Captained by a Dragonborn with a dragon head on the prow, this ship is a merchant vessel crewed by a muscular Dragonborn who sits on the deck smoking a long pipe. The ship has put down for repairs after grazing a rock which tore a few holes in the starboard side. [AndreTheSalty]
Kender - A rag tag ship filled with swashbuckling Kender. The ship looks like it was made from bits and pieces of many different ships.The Kender are very drunk and have no idea how they got to this port. [Slainlion]
The Poor Captain - A ship that looks broken and near sinking, in truth it's one of the most armed ship on the seas. It uses help calls or just their non threatening look to lure ships close so that they can attack them. [DungeonsAndScouts]
The Fisticuffs- A medium sized rowdy ship sits a little way out from the dock. The ship has two massive hands stemming from the hulls on long mechanical arms. The hands have an AC of 25, a damage threshold of 5, and 30 health each. They ship can leave the water and "walk" on the hands. The ship is primarily a combat ship and is crewed by a band of mischevious gnome tinkerers. In addition to attacking (+10 to hit: 4d6 + 8 bludgeoning damage) the hands can also cast Bigby's hand once per day. [dweeb_bush]
The Grain Barge - A large barge with a dirt floor and wheat growing. A single old man lives on the barge, and sells wheat for 2 pountds per copper piece. In the hull of the barge, accessible only by a trapdoor in the old man's shack, is a large pile of carrots. [serious_tabaxi]
Sea Rot - A large gallion speeds into port with a yellow flag raised. As soon as they dock and have paid the docking fee the captain, a large half-orc woman called Mishka, starts calling for help! She reveals that over half of her crew has contracted a strange plague and she fears for her life. She came to port to seek medical assisstance but fears she is infected so dares not go ashore.The plague - Sea Rot - Is highly contagious and air-borne: if a creature comes within 5ft. of an infected creature they must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution save or become infected themself, symptoms take 1d10 days to manifest. The symptoms of Sea Rot are gruesome, starting with the extremities of the body, the body starts depositing water in cytoplasm-like sacks. At the end of every long rest the creature takes 2d6 cold damage and must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution save or suffer 1 permanent constitution damage, the infected creature also has disadvantage on strength and dexterity checks. It can only be cured by magical means that remove a disease.If the party fetches help she rewards them with a small favour and a pouch full of gemstones worth 50gp, in addition, if the party can cure the 20 crew members and contain the plague she offers them passage anywhere, offers an additional 100gp, and her cutlass- a +1 scimmitar that also increases the holder's charisma by 2 while holding it. [dweeb_bush]
Grok's Galley - A medium-sized ship piloted by a Tortle named Grok(He Understands Things)11. The ship is a 2 sailed vessel with few cannons and other wartime mechanisms on them. The crew is very resilient and full of ragtag non-humaniods. Gnolls, Dragonborn, Ratfolk etc.He's about to set sail back home as he's heard of this group of ratfolk that are trying to overthrow the government in his home town. [VKilledTInternet]
The Abigail - An old warship thought to be lost that had been renovated and turned into an inn. It’s run by two very attractive siblings, who turn out to be sirens and one night, they take the boat out to the sea and eat all the passengers. [TardyTortoise]
The Comfort - This massive galleon is an independent freebooter that refuses to pay allegiance to any nation or city. Housing a collection of skilled healers and clerics, the Comfort sails to areas struck by famine, plague, and war, providing healing to whomever requests it. The sailors aboard the vessel have all sworn the same oath, to defend the healers and their patients with their lives no matter the cost.While the Comfort usually is accepted at any port, it sometimes comes under attack when it travels to war torn regions and as such is well equipped to defend itself should it come under attack. [Lakandalawa]
Arabian Traders - An exotic merchant vessel filled with silks, spices, and strange spirits is disembarking. A dashing arabian prince asks basic questions about the city, potentially becoming enamored with one of the party members. He is rich and slightly crazy, and believes anything can be bought for a price. This gets him into trouble when he tries to buy someone's hand in marriage to add to his collection of luxuries and many wives back in his home port. [jfractal]
Deep Sea Scavengar - Salty, untrustworthy sailors (who look like pirates) are disembarking/unloading from their latest voyage. They have been at sea for months, and haven't seen a woman in that long - they openly hit on and jeer at any females in the group with a CHA score of 11 or higher. One sailor tells a fanciful story about sirens that they encountered on their voyage, killing 3 of their men (it's hard to tell if they are serious or not). [jfractal]
His majesty's secret - A heavily outfitted, small warship is in a secret mission from the king. Heavily armed/armored guards stand watch over the docks, turning away everyone, and refusing to divulge their purpose here. [jfractal]
Smallminded Yokels - A small, local fishing vessel filled with xenophobic, small-minded fisherman. The make disparaging remarks about any non-humans if approached. If the party gives them lip, they will get jumped by the crew the next time they wander the harbor at night. [jfractal]
Mussel's Mate - A large fishing vessel that has seen it's better days. Rigging is in tatters, masts are spliced together, mismatched patchworks sails. Oddly enough the captains quarters are extremely well apportioned not at all like the rest of the ship. [hamlet_d]
The Wayward Lady - This ship has an all female crew. The species on board are the outcasts from different lands. They serve as a place for any who are lost to have a home, though men don't tend to stay for long for some reason. After a successful DC 20 insight check it can be found that men on board the ship for 4 months become women. [42firehawk]
The Gypsy - On the deck is what appears to be a stage where beautiful female dancers perform to music provided by a small band of bards. One of the dancers, who is known as the Storyteller, tells stories through song as the rest of the dancers provide her the visuals/backup dancing. Her voice is noticeably quite low for a woman, but is very enchanting nonetheless. An insight check with a DC20 will reveal that all of the performers are cross-dressing men. [Crystalized13]
The Stable - A ship of decent size that carries horses (or any other kind of mount in your game) from port to port and sells them at a decent price to tired and/or injured travelers. It is crewed by a family of six (mother is the captain, father, three sons, three daughters) and a few extras the gathered along their journey, namely; a nice old man who wants to see the world, a young woman with a fiery attitude and an obvious crush on one of the party members, a muscular Dragonborn who has obviously seen some action who now tends to the horses, a bard who offers entertainment to the crew on board and is particularly liked by the children, a mute Druid who helps the horses and is good friends with the Dragonborn (who interprets their sign), and an ex-pirate who loves the sea but wishes to leave their past behind them. [Crystalized13]
The Penny Bucket - The penny bucket is barely a ship. It's looks like a wash-bucket with a wooden T nailed to it and has a large white shirt as a sale. As far as you can tell there's no way to steer, its an utter mystery to you how it ended up in port, let alone why the dock authority would charge it to dock. When you peer inside the bucket you see a small red pseudodragon peacefully sleeping on it's hoard, which consists of 3pp, 16gp, 103sp, and 56cp, 6 rubies worth 30gp, and a dusty diamond worth 300gp , and a small magical trinket of the DM's choice. If woken up the Pseudodragon wakes up and fiercely snarls , cowering, and protecting its stuff. The dragon will trade any of the items in its hoard if the adventurers offer something of value, or a large amount of food. If the party wants to adopt the dragon along with it's hoard it may be won over with gifts and a DC18 animal handling check. [dweeb_bush]
The Crafty Raft - A makeshift raft has floated down the coast and slammed into the dock. There is no one on board and it appears to be unmanned. There is a note fixed to the mast with a tiny butterknife. The note has directions, "at the lightning stump follow the stream and rescue us". The raft, and attached note were made by crafty goblins attempting to lure creatures down the coast right into a trap. The goblins have made finding their hideout incredibly easy. With a DC 5 nature (tracking) check the party can find the tree and follow it down to the river. The real trap is a series of pitfall traps cleverly hidden in and around the stream. If the adventurers continue along the stream they must succeed on a DC18 Perception check to avoid it and must succeed on a DC14 Dexterity save or fall 10ft. into spikes and take 1d6 bludgeoning damage and 2d6 piercing damage. They are then accosted by 2d4 goblins. [dweeb_bush]
The Illusory Boat - Moored in the port is a huge gleaming golden pirate ship, there must be at least 50 richly dressed halflings manning it. There's a long gangplank extending to the dock. Suddenly there's the noise of several cannons firing off. The guards rush over to the ship, fearing that they are attacking the port. They scream at the ship- "come down here and speak to us you cowards, we can't board your ship without permission but we will call the town guard!" A voice calls from the ship yelling insults at the guards aiming to infuriate them till they board the boat. If any one steps on the gangplank they must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity save or fall into the water, as they do the ship dissapears and it's revealed that the entire ship is a major illusion cast by three giggling wizards who run away from one of the neighboring piers. [dweeb_bush]
The Question - There's a metallic ship floating in the water. From it you hear loud beeping, chirping, and whirring noises coming from it and it's attracted a large crowd of 3d10 townsfolk, who are fearfully inspecting the ship. As you approach closer you begin to hear a voice in all the artificial noises. You hear it asking thousands of questions, in thousands of voices: "who am I?", "why am I here?", "What's that ugly thing over there?", "what is the meaning to life", "Why are there people watching me?", and other creepy remarks that give the idea that the ship is conscious and scared. When the adventurers look into the boat they see a blinking green, light with a swirling marbled texture on it. The light turns red and starts asking questions very specific to the party. Before long it begins speaking in tongues and a flash of blinding light appears. The adventurers make a DC13 constitution save. On a failed save they are blinded for a minute and take 4d4 psychic damage or half as much on a successful save. When the adventurers look again the ship is gone and there is just a small gemstone floating in the water, whispering to the party in tongues that are unintelligible. [dweeb_bush]
The mistake -A small boat that seems to have been renamed fairly recently. The - ake part of the name is in a different calligraphy and color from the rest of the name [Ido97]
The Barnacle - An old weathered gun-ship bearing it's scars from many a battle, but nevertheless being no worse for the wear. Built strong from some ancient hardwoods and it has been well maintained to the best a ship of that age could be. The crew is a rowdy bunch of salty Dawgs that work as hard as they play...and they fight even harder. They may squabble amongst themselves, but don't you dare mess with or insult one of their brotherhood. They have come to port ready to sell their wares, collect their bounty and spend it irresponsibly. All so they can find their next mission and do it all over again. [gothic03]
The Bauntoo - A strange ramshackle ship occupied by amphibious humanoids that spend near their entire lives out at sea, trade in weird cool stuff they've found deep diving into cool underwater locations like ocean ruins, and wont be at port for long. [Swerve-Bro]
The Leviathan - A huge ship listing hard to one side, its mast broken halfway up and the sails drooping to the deck. All of the wood is dark brown, slimy and rotting out. It looks like someone pulled a shipwreck from the bottom of the sea and it remained afloat by some miracle. If the party inspects the ship, they will find it has already been thoroughly looted and all that remains of the crew are skeletons. (Whether the skeletons are animated or not is up to you). The dock guards will tell you that a huge fog rolled in last night and this ship was there when the fog lifted. [painterinsomniac]
The Menagerie - A decent sized merchant ship, this one is run by all sorts of different creatures though none are humanoid. This ship was originally a travelling circus showing off all manner of awakened animals who were kept captive. The animals are quite amiable and will offer carry passengers in exchange for assistance selling their goods in markets. [painterinsomniac]
The Coffin - A casket-shaped ship that contains the body of a 21-ft giant. The top of the casket has been fitted with sails and rigging and is manned by a crew of humans who tell the party that the giant hired them before his death. He always wanted to sail around the world, so half of all his treasures would be given to the crew who sailed him around the world. The money is to be awarded upon the crews return to the giant's family home, and the crew must have an artefact from each land to prove their voyage complete to the family and get their loot. Of course, the crew isn't bothering with actually sailing around the world - they're content to just make port for a year and trade people for ancestral trinkets so they can return to the land of giants in a year and take their massive loot. They've been given a hefty advance to cover the cost of their long voyage, so money is no object. Adventurers can sell their items if the item is from a distinct background (eg a Dwarven Warhammer, an Elven scroll of healing, etc). [Anceaus]
The Lighthouse - This ship is captained by a young cowardly wizard and an equally nervous-looking crew of young human men. Atop the central mast is a large lighthouse light, which the owner uses to keep other ships far away from him while at sea so as to avoid any trouble. If approached, the captain will immediately begin grovelling and handing over loot at the sight of the party's weapons, offering them any onboard services he can think of for his crew to do for them (shoeshines, blade sharpening, armour mending).Turns out it's all an act - the captain is actually a conniving trickster who transports and deals in Light Blue Light, a magical drug that induces paranoia/twitchy behaviour but grants a 1d6 bonus to Strength for a period of 1 hour. [Anceaus]
The Nest - A vaguely ship-shaped bramble of collected branches and tar, this vessel doesn't look like it should even float, much less sail. It's run completely by Kenku's. They love to collect shiny objects and every nook and cranny of the nest is filled with glittering pieces of treasure and trinkets, among which are a range of magical items.Anything can be bought for a price, but what they especially want is for the adventurers to help them get a shiny old chalice that they've spotted beneath the waters of the harbour - they aren't big swimmers. [Anceaus]
The Half-Pint - An average looking, 2nd-rate ship run exclusively by halflings and gnomes. The crew are rolling a large number of barrels off the ship. A DC 13 Investigation Check will uncover that the Half-Pint has almost twice as many decks as a regular ship of that size and the diminutive crew use the extra space to smuggle illegal magical ale that has explosive side effects. If approached, the first mate (a scruffy gnome named Sebastiano who trusts people a little too easily considering his trade) will ask the party if they are 'for hire' or just want a cask.If the party is looking to buy, refer to the http://dndspeak.com/2017/12/100-random-potion-effects/ to determine what effect their beer has.If they're interested in the job, he would have them guard a supply wagon transporting contraband IPA to an old wizard who lives in an ivory tower in the nearby forest for a sum of 25gp each. What the party doesn't know is that the wizard is in the process of transitioning into a Lich, and the beer is the magical conduit by which he has been transforming. The wizard has the stats of a Revenant if the party chooses to fight him. If an unconscious creature drinks the illegal beer, they will be revived and become Undead. [Anceaus]
The "Blu Moon" - A two masted Caravel. An ocean going merchant ship, that has recently been damaged by pirates, but escaped because they dumped all cargo overboard. The ship is being repaired and expected to be ready in two days. The captain, Quintus "Full" Moon, already has agreed to transport 24 bales of dyed fabric to [INSERT DESTINATION] but is now looking for some more cargo for the same destination. The rest of the crew is: first mate Eldan Wind (m half-elf), bosun Karrla (f half-orc), helmsman Olfie Re (f half-elf), cook Carlin Zwiet (f gnome), and four human sailors: Frenk(m), Ra(f), Tjoris(m) en Huub(m). Huub is a 12 year old boy on his first trip. [Jeeve65]
The Leatherback - A merchant ship from a faraway land. It is made of a beautiful reddish wood and adorned with many colorful flags. About half the crew is made up of tortles and the other half consists of various other races they picked up on their travels. They are very friendly people and will happily buy you a drink or two in exchange for stories of your adventures or of the places and cultures you’ve experienced. If they take a liking to you they're even willing to give you free passage to wherever you'd like to travel... as long as that place happens to be the next port along their voyage. [TheMightyLoaf]
Family attempting to uproot 75 year old grandmother from home of 30 years to move somewhere cheaper in the middle of nowhere because they can't afford it without her.
I am beside myself right now, so I apologize if my thoughts are all over the place or if I leave out important info. My father and his brother are working on convincing my grandmother to sell her home (the one her late husband purchased and made additions to, including a rental unit to bring her income after his passing 4 years ago) to move to the middle of nowhere. It doesn't seem like they have a serious plan or idea about where they want to go, as she mentioned the guys were looking in Oklahoma, Kansas, and her home state of North Dakota. So far she has started to clean and sent me boxes of the things my mother dumped there, possibly getting the house ready for showings. I heard her mention a few months ago rising taxes in CA as a reason to leave, but all I can find is a split-roll measure that would completely exempt residences. She gets the homeowner's exemption and is taxed at an assessment 350k-400k less than the home's estimated value because it hasn't been reassessed since it was sold, and the assessed value can only rise a maximum of 2% each year. I know that the 290k the house is being taxed at could purchase quite a lot of home in a cheaper place, with hundreds of thousands left over, but she wouldn't have the rental income. Nor does it seem like she has a plan for the leftover money (she could purchase another property and make that a rental, of course, but it's a hell of a lot of trouble for her just to get around. Vetting tenants and properties for this purpose would be a huge undertaking, as she's mentioned just moving would be as much). She said she absolutely loves the tenant living above her right now. Grandma hasn't raised the tenant's rent because of how much she likes her tenant, and while she would prefer not to, understands that would be an option. I guess I should mention to her that anybody who buys the property would raise rent on her in a second, she pays at least 600 bucks less than what most places would charge. There are a lot of reasons why moving to a place like this would be a bad choice for her, and I'm hoping reddit can help me convince her to consider what is best for her in this situation. She has mentioned how hard the harsh winters of her home state were, and that she couldn't weather them now, with her arthritis. Besides that, two of those states are famous for their tornado and hurricane seasons. She was aware and said she'd be sure any place they moved had an adequate basement, but the inconveniences of severe weather extend far beyond safety. She can't even see well enough to drive past dusk in the city, and I know for a fact there are sometimes whole miles between functional streetlights in the lesser populated areas (if they are there at all). Towns and cities are spread out over huge swaths, and even she admits that her current car is a complete lemon. The last shreds of her independence would go up in smoke with this move, alongside the comforts and conveniences of the cozy suburb they live in now. No more walks with friends, no more fishing trips or angling for the giant mackerel by the pier. She seems to think her life has no value over what they want, because she hardly does anything aside from cook and clean for her two sons. She wouldn't be giving up anything except her basic comfort, in her eyes, and it's really hard to get her to consider that important. I feel fucking horrible that she gave away her entire life to slaving over a hot stove and now that she doesn't have a husband to look after she's still chasing two grown-ass men to do their laundry and keep the house orderly. She deserves some peace and time to do what she wants, instead of pulling weeds in the garden and making daily trips to the grocery store (weekly now with COVID, she said. Seemed sad she didn't get out of the house as much). For goodness' sake, she eloped with a foreign man that spoke not a word of english fifty years ago! She's just not that person. She's a lot more than that. I've been trying to place emphasis on giving her other options, and not feeling forced into this. She told me "the virus" is making my uncle uncomfortable, and that my dad outright hates CA (My father had talked at length for months before the outbreak about moving out of grandma's house, where he lives with his girlfriend, to North Dakota or somewhere else out of state). All three of them have continued to work all throughout the stay-at-home order, continually putting my grandmother at risk despite living with her and not having rental expenses. Dad and uncle each own a business, and my dad also works for my uncle's business on the side. Their business could certainly be considered essential, as they keep people's homes in liveable condition, however they are required to enter other person's residences to do so. I understand that my uncle has expenses owning a business and can't necessarily afford to cease operations and keep the business, but if he's moving then he has no intention to keep it anyway. He has said it would be better to operate somewhere more rural, as they would only be going into individual homes rather than servicing several places in the same building. I don't see how this makes more sense, as to make the same money he would have to enter the same number of unique residences and do the same number of jobs at the same price. While cost of living might be lower, he wouldn't be able to charge the same as he does now. I have a feeling it may be something to do with his former employer having a monopoly on single-unit homes in the area, as they've been around decades and have widespread local marketing. Dad is just self-employed, and works with his brother on jobs, no obligation to his business as he doesn't employ anyone else. Dad's GF is helping to remodel the bar she works at while it's closed. I have a lot of suspicions about the reasons behind their desire to leave, in addition to what I've mentioned. Leaving was my father's plan to begin with, but he still has not saved the required assets to do so, for various reasons. Some are in his control, some aren't, I understand. He tried this once before, with me (moving to a much cheaper state in the south), and we ended up homeless, penniless, then back home dependent upon my grandmother and grandfather. This has been the case each time my father and uncle have moved out, either alone or with someone that they are romantically involved with/married to. They have not supported themselves since I was born, and likely for years before that. I don't trust their ability to make smart decisions and take adequate care of her, as they have failed to do so for the entirety of this pandemic. The SAFEST and best thing for her right now would be if they all packed up and left, instead of continually exposing her to the same things they expose themselves to, and this is one of the reasons I so firmly believe they don't have her best interests at heart at all. The worst part of me believes they know I wouldn't let them sell the house and split up the money when she eventually passes away, so they're trying to liquidate it now and get some while they can/get a free house out of it. All while putting her in danger. She has expressed that she tries to keep distance as best she can, but can't, as they are "at the same dinner table." She also said that my dad's girlfriend is looking forward to going to the casino when it reopens next week. It's obvious they don't give a rat's ass about keeping her safe, and likely haven't even considered renting somewhere for her to stay while they contaminate the place. I am trying to get her to advocate more for herself on this front as well, but it's very hard for her to stand up for herself. This is a hugely complicating factor in the current situation. All I have ever wanted is for the house to be the same safe landing pad it's been for the members of our family for years. I want there to be a place for my dad and uncle to come back to if things get rough, and I want there to be a safe place for my siblings, my little cousin, the next generation, to end up if they run into hardships. This is in line with the intent behind all of my grandfather's work. These two are selfish enough to partake their whole lives, and yank away the opportunity from their children and nieces and nephews at the first chance they get with their father no longer around to put a stop to it. I have a home across the country and have been away for five years, so while my place isn't there now, it's been a home to our family for three decades. That's almost half the time my grandfather even spent in this country. I have some questions for her, and I would welcome more comparisons and talking points from everyone so that I can be more prepared when I talk to her again. So far, all I have is:
If your sons/sons GF were not living with you, would you be more or less at risk?
If they weren't already living with you, and let you know they were buying a home together out of state, would that be enough reason to uproot your life and go live with them?
If needing someone in the family nearby is enough reason to pick up and move, would you do it if I were living in the house/renting somewhere in the neighborhood?
I want her to understand what the options would look like if they actually had her interests at heart. As far as COVID-19 is concerned, they are proposing to move to places with less infrastructure, regulation, and with worse responses to the virus compared to their current home, while making no efforts to curb the exposure she receives. More remote areas may experience a slower spread, and therefore are likely still in earlier stages with regard to its progression/containment. She really was in the safest place in the country to be when all of this began. I have already talked with my partner, and I am willing to pack up and move back to CA to stay with her until he can find a job in our city and we can live together nearby. I feel it's a small price to pay to keep her comfortable, as much as I love my new city and have put down roots. I also brought up the idea of her moving to a smaller home here in my state, as there's a lovely neighborhood she could afford and still be a little closer to the action. We do have winter here, but not ND winter. No tornadoes either. Thoughts, comments, ideas all welcome. We are in US, if post didn't make that clear. Thank you so much for reading, and I will answer absolutely any questions to the best of my ability. Thank you again.
Discord Server | Spark of Divinity - Home Page | Patreon Check out the new story directory for other stuff on Reddit Serials - there are tons of great fiction here, and you might find something you really like :) When we left off,.Terra had just worked a deal with Fortune - In exchange for Terra’s aid to several of Fortune’s gods, Fortune agreed to give Toby the resources he needs to build her name, and agreed to facilitate the final conflict between Terra and Gaia. The path is set - but will Terra be ready when the time comes? I didn’t look back. Alice reached out as we fled, grabbing the hood of my cowl that had fallen down and tugging it back up over my head. I flashed her a quick smile, settling it more surely about my face. I wasn’t about to look around any more than I wanted to look back, but I could see the figures lining the edges of the courtyard surrounding Fortune’s makeshift casino. We weren’t alone. And if Heracles had wisened up to my being very much not dead and gone, other people could too. The last thing I wanted was Gaia getting the jump on me. Not when I’d gone and put myself into servitude for a chance to turn the tables on her. The bangles around my wrist shifted, jingling softly. I gritted my teeth, bringing my other hand around to clamp down on them. “It’s good,” Alice said, but her voice was more timid than normal. “It’ll- You’ll be able to find other gods, mistress. Friendly faces.” “Right,” I muttered, in no mood to be soothed. I’d made my decision, and now we had work to do. “Perhaps out there, you might find-” “Are you coming with me?” I said, interrupting her before she could circle back around to how this was something other than me signing away my immediate future to an aspect I barely knew. She froze like a deer in the headlights. “W-What?” “I need to see Toby,” I said, glancing around furtively. No one seemed to care all that much about us, and Heracles hadn’t shown up again. But when I glanced up, risking showing my face if it meant actually getting a proper look at the courtyard around us, I did see a red-haired figure leaning against the far wall of Fortune’s compound. His loose silk jacket drifted merrily in the breeze around him. The fox that had managed to stay silent all through Fortune’s negotiations chirped once. Happily. I afforded Inari only the barest of nods, swallowing a sigh and turning back to Alice. “I don’t want to handle this in a dream. So I’m going. Are you coming with?” “I think your time would be better served by-” “Didn’t ask what you thought,” I said. Damn it, I was too tired to argue this with her, and my legs ached from the strain of having wooden feet. “I appreciate it, Alice. But if Fortune is actually helping us, I need to make sure he knows. And I need to make sure he makes the most of it.” “Of course, mistress,” Alice said, pulling her clipboard higher to hide the bottom half of her face. Her eyes glared at me over the top, baleful and dark. “I will, of course, remain at your side. My purpose is to ensure your success.” Except when it meant going up onto Mount Olympus. I quashed my irritations, nodding at the arbiter instead. “Okay, then. I’m...going to head back.” “I will follow.” Nice and simple. Yeah. I closed my eyes, trying to remember what exactly I’d done. Once upon a time, this place had seemed...fake. It’d seemed gaudy, too over-saturated and overblown. Finding reality again had been a simple enough task. To my horror, I found that the Sleepless Realms were beginning to feel all too familiar. That, I did not like. I licked my lips, sucking in one last gasp of air and then holding my breath. Toby’s apartment. I could see it. Smell it. Hear the click-clack of his fingers against the keyboard, the tapping of his mouse. I focused on the details, holding his face in my mind. I wanted to go home. The ground was moving under me by then, twisting and warping and becoming somehow more intangible than before. I leaned into it, letting the currents of the air pull me under and into the fray. Alice’s fingers laced around mine, one final contact as I slipped away. A smell. It hung in my nose, stringent and sharp. Before, his apartment had smelled like trash, bagged up and left to sit in corners. This...wasn’t it. It wasn’t a pleasant smell, but it was not trash. More like...printer paper? Ink? I opened my eyes. Well, he’d cleaned up his apartment, at least. The trash was gone - and had been replaced with shelves that sat around the edges of his living room. My old violet sat in the window, gleaming blue-purple in the moonlight shining down through the glass. He’d found a new pot for it - something that looked an awful lot like an owl, beautifully worked into a shape I’d probably have gravitated to on a store shelf. It was exactly my kind of thing, which, of course, Toby would know. I sighed. Somewhere in the back of my mind, the first whispers chimed in that maybe this whole “Tara got reincarnated as a goddess” business wasn’t the healthiest thing for Toby and his moving on. I stepped closer, my eyes pricked down to watch every footfall. I was stumbling less, sure, but one encounter with a neglected grocery bag would send me crashing to the floor. Not very fitting for a goddess. And then I came to a stop, reaching a hand out to the desk to steady myself. Pictures. There were pictures, sketched across notebooks and left in neatly organized stacks. Pictures of me - or rather, pictures of Terra. “Toby has been busy,” I heard Alice say quietly behind me. My mind was still on those sheets of paper, pamphlets and brochures and handouts. I heard something else, too - a low, urgent mumbling, growing louder and louder now that I heard it. Before it’d fully registered, I was back to shuffling, staggering toward Toby’s room. The door creaked open at my touch to reveal him sitting in front of his PC, his head cradled in his hand and his fingers twisting through his hair. Spreadsheets covered the screen, filled with numbers that meant nothing to me. He flipped through them faster than I could follow, murmuring something under his breath all the while. “Busy?” I said, letting my knuckles hit the door. Toby jumped, his hands jerking across the desk. The can of pop at his side tumbled, spilling. “Jesus,” he hissed, grabbing at it and thrusting a handful of kleenex onto the mess. He looked back over his shoulder, his eyes widening at the sight of me standing in the doorway. “Tara?” “Sorry,” I said, wincing. Alice sighed, just a few steps behind me. “Didn’t mean to scare you.” “Oh. Oh, yeah, I mean…” He fumbled with the sodden pile with one hand, brushing his hair out of his face with the other. “You didn’t scare me.” I let his lie pass without comment. “Anyway. Sorry. I know I kind of left you hanging here, but-” “Jesus, what the hell are those?” he said, his eyes going perfectly round. A groan slipped from my throat. He was staring at my legs - still bristling with tiny buds and blossoms and leaves. “It’s...don’t worry about it.” “Are those wood?” “Yeah. So-” “Woah,” he said, reaching out to tap his fingernails against one. “That’s so weird. Cool, but weird. How’d you get them?” My legs got cut off. Somehow, tossing that in his face seemed...too mean. Maybe I was getting soft in my old age. I reached down, taking Toby gently by the wrist, and pulled him upright. “They’re new. No, they don’t hurt. And you’re welcome to use them in your...propaganda, if you think it’d help,” I said slowly, holding his gaze. I knew him too well, could read the questions on his lips. “I’m told...it’s kind of like being a dryad. Something like that.” “Oh, yeah,” Toby said, whirling to scrawl a quick note on a notebook. “Yeah, I can use that.” Perfect. At least he was happy with it. “So things...are going well?” I said, casting a look around the room. I had to hope it was going well, given the sheer chaos around us. “Totally. It’s good you stopped by,” Toby said, tossing the heap into a trash can sitting at the end of his desk. He leaned over his keyboard in another instant, typing like mad. “I’ve got- there’s a lot of stuff we’ve got going. I’ve been trying to keep busy. That subreddit’s grown a lot - I figured, the whole meme thing worked well enough, so why not keep going?” I watched over his shoulder, torn between amusement and horror as Toby started pulling up image after image. “You wanted to go for a survival of the fittest thing, right?” Toby said. “So I’ve started bringing you into stuff.” The pictures flashed past, little more than colored blurs. Each had a little tagline, a scrap of text attached at the bottom. Pictures of Terra, leering from the dark shadows of an alley with pithy lines about self-defense. I snorted. “It’s cheesy, I know,” Toby said, beginning to frown. “But, I thought, it’s somewhere to start. They’re common-sense principles - take care of yourself, don’t be a dumbass, overcome bad situations.” “There are worse tenants for a goddess to stand behind,” Alice said, and to my disbelief, I saw her nodding along. Again, Toby flinched. “Who’s that?” “Think of her like my assistant,” I said with a muffled groan. “She’s here to keep me from fucking up too bad.” “Oh,” Toby said, wincing. “Ouch. Good luck.” “Fuck you too,” I mumbled, looking down. “But. Yeah,” Toby said, turning back to the sheets. “Up until now, it’s all been niceties and pretty words, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough. We need something more substantial.” He dropped his hands to his sides, looking up to me with bloodshot eyes. “I can do something like a Church of New Terra, but…” He shook his head. “The only way I can see to get through this without being seen as some kind of cult is if the ‘church’ thing is just...an aside. A tool, a symbol, while we’re doing bigger things.” “And you had things in mind?” Alice said, creeping closer. He looked to her, then made a face. “It’s...I’ve got ideas, yeah. Nutrition programs, maybe, but that’s not very exciting. I was thinking I could put together some self-defense classes. I’d like to do a vaccine drive, too. It’d be easy enough to link that back to you, and I think most people wouldn’t be caught up in wondering if we’re up to something if we’re doing good.” “I could see that,” I said slowly. The root cause of this whole mess was still weighing heavily on me - how the hell was I supposed to get the average person to put their belief and faith behind an abstract idea like me being a goddess? In the dark ages, sure, I could probably just pull a trick on them and they’d come flocking, but people nowadays were skeptical. I loved it, but it’d make my life a lot more difficult than it needed to be. “Yeah. I can work it out with the local hospitals,” he said, returning to his spreadsheets. “People are glad to do stuff like that - but someone’s got to pay for it, Tara.” He looked back over his shoulder, his expression mournful. “I’m trying. I really am. I’m stretching for every inch I’ve got, but I just can’t come up with that kind of money.” “Just...hold on a second,” I said, raising one finger. He stopped, his brow wrinkling. I smiled thinly. “I...might be able to help with that, now.” Explaining took a while. It took even longer when he kept running around like a chicken with his head cut off, asking me for clarification and answers and information. I was glad Alice came with me on this jaunt - and that she’d seen fit to join me in the flesh. Or, well, at least not be a ghost. I didn’t have half the answers Toby was looking for, when it came right down to it. But with her help, we muddled through the most of it. And by the end, Toby’s eyes glittered. His fingers drummed across his desk, rattling the cans sitting alongside his monitors. “So what- You’re saying-” “We’ve been through this already,” I mumbled, wrinkling my nose. “Look. I don’t know exactly what she meant, and I don’t know exactly how this is going to play out.” “So I should just go buy a lottery ticket tomorrow, is what you’re saying,” Toby said. I chuckled. “That probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.” Alice hadn’t said a word since we’d finished explaining the situation. I couldn’t quite tell if she was comfortable with all of this - hell, I didn’t know if I was comfortable with all of this - but we needed to get our shit done. “We’ll just have to hope that whoever looks back on all of this doesn’t wonder at the fact my religion’s founder just happened to win the jackpot,” I said, keeping my tone light. “Yeah, that’d be a bit suspicious, wouldn’t it?” Toby grinned, still fixated on the keyboard. “Might ask some questions. Not like they’d figure out about you, though.” “And you don’t think they’d wonder about the fact you’re here starting some religion based on Terra, after your ex-girlfriend Tara gets smeared across a bridge pier?” I retorted. Almost immediately, I regretted saying it. His expression twisted, going carefully neutral before the look could sink in. His shoulders drooped, though, and the carefree joy from just a few moments before was gone. I didn’t want that. The realization sank in faster than I would have thought. I rested my hand against his shoulder, squeezing gently. I didn’t want to be the person who kept taking away people’s happiness. Not anymore. “Seriously, though,” I said, keeping my words light. “I can’t tell you how much I owe you. For all of this. For helping me.” “It’s life or death, isn’t it?” Toby said. His voice sounded cheerful too - but the sniff lingering at the end of his words ruined that facade. “I owe you that much, Tara.” No, he didn’t. “If you get the cash...you think you can handle it?” I said quietly. “I could have Alice help you. She’s good with that sort of thing.” “Mistress,” Alice hissed, shooting me an irritated look, but I didn’t break eye contact with Toby. The sort of bureaucratic paperwork Toby was nose-deep in seemed right up her alley. Assuming she could come visit Toby without me, but...well, I’d never asked. She’d pretty much always done whatever she wanted, so I wouldn’t put this past her. “I wouldn’t mind the help,” Toby said, perking up - for real, this time. He looked to Alice with actual interest in his eyes. She shrank a step back, as though she was trying to hide behind my shoulder. And then he returned his stare to me. “Really, though, Tara, I think I’m fine. This stuff…” He nodded toward the screen. “It’s not so bad. It...makes sense, in a lot of ways.” He shrugged. “I kind of like it.” Again, the worries screamed in the deepest recesses of my thoughts. Toby should be moving on. Finding a new girlfriend, leaving the skeletons in the closet, and letting me stay a memory. I didn’t quite know what to make of everything that was happening, but letting him entrench himself deeper and deeper in my goals didn’t seem...fair. But he was happy. And this was an important skill too, wasn’t it? Practicing this sort of thing would be valuable for him. Besides, if he wound up walking away with a chunk of change courtesy of my hard labor for Fortune, that’d be a fair trade for his time. Probably. In the end, I found myself nodding, smiling back at him. I wasn’t in a position to be picky, and I needed every ounce of passion I could pull out of him. “Cool,” I whispered. “Well. I, uh. I have to go now.” “You have to go earn a miracle,” Toby said, still smiling. I groaned. “Something like that. Remember. Fortune. She’ll work with you, so start looking for ways to get your hands on some cash.” “Right,” Toby said, stiffening. “You may pray to her, as well,” Alice said, peeking out from around my arm. “If you need to reach her. She will hear.” “Well, that’s a new trick,” I muttered. Alice gave me a sidelong look. “It’s not, mistress. You merely never bothered to learn.” And she hadn’t taught me. The irritation grew, sinking in deeper and deeper. She hadn’t taught me anything, and it was getting old. More and more, I was starting to feel like I’d been set up. And I didn’t like it. “Get out of here,” Toby said, breaking through my fugue. I looked up. He stood, one hand on the back of his chair. “You’ve got work to do, right? Go earn me some cash.” I chuckled, my stony expression softening a fraction. “...Right. Be hearing from you, then. I guess.” He nodded, but I’d already felt it - the ties binding me to reality, the ones keeping me in this flesh-and-blood shell enough for Toby to see me. They loosened, like they’d heard me speak and understood this was my goodbye. I sucked in a lungful of air, watching the moonlit apartment start to blur around us. Toby was right. We had a job. If he was working hard, then I couldn’t sit down and rest on his laurels. Time to earn a miracle. Part 31
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 Episode 5 (pt 1)
I know this took a really long time, hope you guys like it. If you work for Disney, this is a pitch. Cast Jack Dylan Grazer as Percy Jackson Cassidy Nugent as Annabeth Chase Nick Palatas as Grover Underwood Liv Tyler as the Nereid Sylvester Stallone as Gabe Ugliano Barbra Walters as herself Vin Diesel as Crusty Idris Elba as Charon Andy Serkis as Evil Voice Hugo Weaving as Hades Dwayne Johnson as Ares Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Season one episode five: “And I Thought Airport Security Was Ridiculous” or “Will the Real Lightning Thief Please Stand Up?” screenplay INT – LAS VEGAS TAXI CAB – EARLY NOON PERCY, ANNABETH and GROVER get into the back of a taxi cab. CABBY: (Bored, uninterested, cigar in mouth) Where to, kids? ANNABETH: (Calm, confident) Los Angeles, please. CABBY: (Raises eyebrow, puffs on cigar) Dat’s three hundred miles from here, miss. You’ll have to pay upfront. ANNABETH: Do you take casino debit cards? CABBY: Depends. I’ll have to give it a swipe. ANNABETH hands the cab driver her LotusCash card, and he looks at it skeptically. He rolls his eyes and swipes it, and the meter begins rattling and the lights on it flash. When an infinity symbol appears on the meter, the cabby’s cigar drops out of his mouth in shock. CABBY: (Shocked, excited) W-where in Los Angeles, your highness? ANNABETH: (Sits up a little, smiles) Santa Monica pier, please. Get us there by evening, and you can keep the change. The cabby slams down the gas pedal, and several cars honk at him as he flies down the street. As they head through the Mojave desert, PERCY tells ANNABETH and GROVER about the dream he had before they went to the Lotus Hotel and Casino. PERCY: … And then the voice in the pit saw me. He showed me my mother… and a black throne carved with faces screaming in agony. And then… (Gulps) … The undead soldiers put a red robe and a laurel of thorns on me… and then I became one of them. GROVER: Well that got dark fast. PERCY: There’s something else. The guy in the cloak, the Lightning Thief, called the voice something… The… “Something” One… ANNABETH: (Disappointed, blunt) Well that’s incredibly unspecific. Was it the Rich One? The Silent One? Those are both nicknames for HADES. PERCY: (Unsure) Maybe… GROVER: Well, the throne sounds like the way HADES’S throne is described. Black obsidian carved with faces of damnation. PERCY: Yeah but… the throne wasn’t the main part of the dream. And the voice in the pit… I dunno, it just doesn’t feel like the voice of a god. It seemed… older. ANNABETH’S eye get wide with dread. PERCY: (Concerned) What? What’s wrong? ANNABETH: (A bit uneasy) N-nothing. I was just thinking… no. It has to be HADES. He probably sent the Lightning Thief to steal the MASTER BOLT, and something must’ve went wrong- PERCY: Like what? ANNABETH: I- (Reluctant) -I don’t know. But to steal something as important as the MASTER BOLT, and the fact that ZEUS has his best trackers on the job, a lot of stuff could go wrong. So, the thief could’ve hidden the bolt, or maybe even lost it. Anyway, the thief failed to deliver the BOLT to HADES, that’s what the voice in your dream said, right? The Lightning Thief failed. That explains what the Furies were looking for when they attacked us on the bus. They probably thought we had the BOLT. PERCY notices a hint of anxiety in ANNABETH’S eyes, and sees that she seems to be shaking a bit. PERCY: (Suspicious, confused) But… if HADES thinks I already have the BOLT, why would I be coming to the UNDERWORLD? GROVER: To blackmail him into giving your mom back. PERCY: (Surprised) You know, you have pretty dark thoughts for a goat. GROVER: (Blunt) Thanks. PERCY: But… the voice said he was waiting for two items. If the MASTER BOLT’S one, what’s the other? GROVER shrugs. PERCY: (Turns to ANNABETH, knowing look in his eyes) You know what it is, don’t you? The voice in the pit? ANNABETH: (Hesitant, worried) PERCY, I… let’s not talk about it. It’s probably HADES. PERCY: (Thinking) I just… I just feel like there’s something we’re still missing. ANNABETH: (Uneasy) Well, I guess we’ll find the answer in the UNDERWORLD. PERCY forlornly looks out the window at the desert scenery whizzing past. EXT – SANTA MONICA BEACH - SUNSET The kids head to the edge of the surf. ANNABETH: Well? What now? PERCY stares out over the ocean, and gets a longing look in his eyes. He takes a deep breath, taking in the ocean air, and slowly steps into the water. ANNABETH: (Surprised, worried) PERCY? What are you- PERCY ignores her, and continues walking into the water. GROVER: Dude, do you have any idea how polluted that water is? ANNABETH: (Concerned) PERCY, get out of there. You’ll grow a third- Once PERCY gets chest deep into the water, he dives under, disappearing from ANNABETH and GROVER’S view. EXT – UNDER THE PACIFIC OCEAN – SAME TIME PERCY holds his breath at first, then remembers he can breathe underwater, and lets himself breathe normally. PERCY: That’s gonna take some getting used to. He looks around the water, curious, then notices a mako shark right beside him. PERCY (Startled, jumps) Ah! PERCY calms down when he realizes the shark is not trying to harm him, and it nuzzles up against him like a dog. PERCY hesitantly touches the shark’s dorsal fin, and it bucks gently, inviting PERCY to hold on tighter. PERCY grabs onto the shark’s fin, and it takes off, blasting through the water like a rocket, pulling PERCY along. PERCY: (Surprised) Whoa, boy! The shark pulls PERCY deeper and deeper into the ocean. PERCY: (Slightly worried) Where are you taking me? The shark begins to slow down, and PERCY catches his breath when they come to a huge, gaping, pitch black canyon. WOMAN’S VOICE: (O.S.) (Quiet, gentle, far away) PERSEUS… PERCY is surprised to hear the voice of the river spirit he spoke to in St. Louis. WOMAN’S VOICE: (O.S.) (Gentle) PERCY JACKSON… PERCY makes out a light in the darkness of the canyon, and it slowly gets bigger until he sees beautiful woman with black hair, her body glowing gently with white light, wearing a flowing, greenish-white silk dress. She dismounts, smiles, and gives PERCY a small bow. Her giant seahorse and the mako shark begin playfully chasing each other. WATER SPIRIT: (Smiling, kind) You have come far, my hero. Well done. PERCY awkwardly bows, as she did. WATER SPIRIT: (Small laugh) You are prince, PERCY JACKSON, you need not bow to me. PERCY: You’re the spirit I talked to in the Mississippi River, aren’t you? WATER SPIRIT: Yes, child. I am a Nereid, a spirit of the sea. It was not easy for me to travel so far up river, but my freshwater cousins, the naiads, were able to help me sustain myself. The naiads honor your father, though they do not serve in his court. PERCY: And… you do? Serve in his court, I mean? NEREID: Indeed. I must say, it has been many long years since a son of the sea god has been born. My sisters and I have watched over you with great interest. PERCY: (Confused, a bit resentful) If my dad’s so interested in me, why doesn’t he come talk to me in person? A cold current rises out of the canyon, and almost knocks PERCY off his feet. NEREID: (Sad, gentle) Do not judge the Lord of the Sea too harshly. Your father is incredibly busy; he now stands on the brink of an unwanted war. And apart from that, your father is forbidden from helping you directly. Gods mustn’t show favoritism, you know. PERCY: (Surprised, a bit sad) Even to their own children? NEREID: Especially to their own children. However, the gods can work through indirect influences, which is why your father has sent me to give you a warning; and a gift. The Nereid holds out her hand, and shows PERCY three gleaming white pearls. NEREID: You journey to the realm of HADES. Few have returned from that place; Orpheus, who possessed great musical skill, Hercules, who possessed great strength, Houdini, who could escape even the depths of TARTARUS. Have you any of these talents? PERCY: (Awkward) Um… well… no. NEREID: (Kind smile) But you possess something else, PERCY JACKSON. Gifts you have yet to know. The oracles have foretold great and terrible future for you, should you survive to manhood. Your father would not have you die before your time comes. Therefore, he wishes to give you these pearls. When you are in need, smash them at your feet. PERCY: (Tentatively takes the pearls) … What do they do? NEREID: That depends on the manner of your need. But remember this; what belongs to the sea will always return to the sea. PERCY: (Stares at the pearls with wonder) You said you also came to give me a warning. What is it? NEREID: (Leans forward) Listen to your heart, or you shall fail. HADES feeds upon doubt and hopelessness. He will try to trick you into mistrusting yourself. Once you enter the Realm of the Dead, he will never willingly let you leave. You must keep strong, and have faith. The Nereid mounts her giant seahorse, and slowly descends back into the dark canyon. NEREID: Good luck, PERCY JACKSON. PERCY: (Urgent) Wait! Back in St. Louis, you told me not to trust “the gifts”. What gifts? NEREID: (Voice becoming distant) Farewell, my young hero. Listen to your heart… The Nereid disappears into the darkness, leaving PERCY alone with the mako shark. PERCY gives the pearls an empty look, then begins swimming back to the surface. EXT – SANTA MONICA BEACH – A FEW MINUTES LATER PERCY shows the pearls to his friends. ANNABETH: (Skeptical) This can’t be good. No gift ever comes for free. PERCY: But… she just gave them to me. No strings attached. ANNABETH: You ever heard the saying, “No such thing as a free lunch”? It’s an Ancient Greek saying that works pretty well in English, especially in America. There will be a price, just wait and see. PERCY puts the pearls in his pocket, a slightly worried/disappointed look on his face. Later, as night falls, the kids cautiously wander around L.A., police sirens blaring in the back ground. ANNABETH notices a cop car coming, and pulls the boys into an alley. Once the cop car passes, they cautiously leave the alley. PERCY: (Relieved) Phew… that was a close- PERCY stops mid-sentence when he sees a his stepdad GABE, who is sitting with a pretty blonde woman, being interviewed by Barbra Walters on a TV in an appliance store. GABE: (ON TV SCREEN) (Feigning grief) Honest, Ms. Walters, if it weren’t for Sugar here, my grief counselor, I… I don’t know what I’d do. My stepson took everything I care about… my wife… my car… I just… GROVER: For some reason I don’t think she’s a grief counselor. GABE: (Wipes away fake tear) I’m sorry, I have a hard time talkin’ bout it. BARBRA WALTERS: (Overly dramatic, turns to camera) There you have it, America. A man torn apart. An adolescent boy with serious issues. Here’s the last known photo of the troubled young fugitive, taken in Denver, Colorado, about a week ago. A grainy image of PERCY, ANNABETH and GROVER talking to ARES outside the diner in Denver comes up on the screen next to Barbra Walters. BARBRA WALTERS: (Over dramatic) Who are the other children in this photo? Who is the man with them? Is PERCY JACKSON simply a delinquent, a terrorist, or perhaps the brainwashed victim of a frightening new cult? When we come back, we’ll chat with leading child psychologist. Stay tuned, America. PERCY’S face becomes twisted with fury, and GROVER gently grabs him by the shoulder. GROVER: Come on, dude. Let’s get going. The kids begin wandering around L.A., and become nervous when they notice some shady people hanging around. They past by some people who look like gangbangers, bums, and various other suspicious looking people. GRUFF MALE VOICE: (O.S.) Hey, kid! PERCY, startled, stops, and a homeless looking man comes out of an alley. HOMELESS MAN: (Fidgeting) Spare some change? PERCY: (Awkward, nervous) Um… sorry, no. Several other bums come out of the dark alley, and when the kids try to run, several bums come up from behind them, staring the kids down threateningly. The first bum pulls out a switch blade, and PERCY uncaps Riptide, shocking the bums. PERCY swings his blade at the bum leader, but it passes through him as if he were a hologram. HOMELESS MAN: (Shocked) What the-!? PERCY: (Surprised, disappointed) Oh right, I, uh… I forgot about that. ANNABETH kicks one of the bums in the crotch, causing him to crumple to the ground in pain. ANNABETH: (Urgent) Run! The kids start running down the sidewalk, the bums chasing after them, shouting at them to come back. The kids rush around a corner, and ANNABETH sees an open shop called “CRUSTY’S WATER BED PALACE”. ANNABETH: There! The kids run into the shop, hide behind a display bed in the window, and the bums run past. GROVER: (Relieved) Phew… I think we lost them. MALE VOICE: (O.S.) Lost who? PERCY, ANNABETH AND GROVER, IN UNISON: (Startled, jump) Ah! The kids turn around to see a tall, pale, bald man in a tacky leisure suit and silver chains around his neck, standing right behind them. TALL BALD MAN: (Grinning creepily, showing off yellow teeth) How ya’ll doin? I’m Crusty. PERCY: (Holding back a laugh, quiet) Yes, you are. CRUSTY: (Raises eyebrow) Hm? PERCY: (Slightly embarrassed, awkward) I said, uh… sorry to barge… in. CRUSTY: Hidin’ from them lowlifes, huh? Yeah, they hang around here every night. I get a lotta people comin’ in here cuz of them. So… (Gestures around shop) … Can I interest you kids in a water bed? PERCY: (Uncomfortable) Um… I mean, uh… I don’t really think I need- CRUSTY gracefully sweeps up behind PERCY, grabs him by the shoulders, and pushes him deeper into the shop. PERCY: Uh, okay, this is weird… CRUSTY proudly gestures to a vibrating bed with lava lamps and black satin sheets. CRUSTY: Million hand massage. Why don’t you lie down? Hell, take a nap, I don’t care. PERCY: (Anxious) Um, no, I think we’ll be leave- GROVER: (Excited) Dude, million hand massage?! No way! GROVER jumps into the massage bed. GROVER: (Voice vibrating) O-oh d-dude, th-this is s-so s-sweet! CRUSTY: (Disappointed, stroking chin) Hmm, not quite… PERCY: (Uneasy) Huh? Not quite what? CRUSTY: (Takes ANNABETH by the shoulder) Do me a favor, honey, and try this one over here. ANNABETH: (Uncomfortable) I… but… CRUSTY ushers ANNABETH over to a bed, and tries pushing her into it. ANNABETH: (Angry) Hey! Get your hands off- CRUSTY: (Snaps fingers) Ergo! Ropes grow out from under the bed, and strap ANNABETH down to the mattress. ANNABETH: (Panicking, screaming) Hey! LET ME GO! GROVER tries to get out of his bed, but ropes tie him down as well. GROVER: (Alarmed) I-it’s n-not s-sweet a-anymore, d-dudes! PERCY: (Steps back, shocked) What the hell are you- CRUSTY: (Quickly places hand behind PERCY’S neck) Whoa, take it easy, kid. I’ll get you your own bed in a sec. PERCY: (Assertive, serious) Let my friends go. CRUSTY: (Calm, friendly) Oh don’t worry, I will. Soon as I make ‘em fit. PERCY: (Confused, angry) Fit? What do you- CRUSTY: Lemme explain. All the beds are exactly six feet. Your friends are too short, see, so I gotta stretch ‘em out a bit. Can’t stand imperfect measurements… CRUSTY snaps his fingers again, and more ropes wrap around GROVER and ANNABETH’S feet and arms, and begin slowly stretching them. PERCY watches in horror as his friends scream in pain. PERCY: (Angry, shouting) Let them go, now! CRUSTY: Don’t worry, they only need a few inches. Hell, they might even survive! Now, why don’t we get you set up with a bed you like, huh? ANNABETH: (Screaming in pain) PERCY!!! GROVER: (Screaming in pain) HELP!!! PERCY: (Suspicious) Your name’s not really CRUSTY, is it? CRUSTY: Legally, it’s PROCRUSTES. PERCY: The Stretcher. The one who tried to kill Theseus with hospitality. PROCRUSTES: (Grinning) That’s me. But who can pronounce Procrustes? ‘Crusty’ on the other hand, much easier to market. PERCY: (Eyes get wide, gets an idea) Uh… yeah! I totally agree. Has a nice ring to it. PROCRUSTES: (Flattered) You think so? PERCY: Oh, absolutely. And the craftsmanship on these beds is simply fabulous. PROCRUSTES: (Grinning) I tell my customers that all the time. I mean, how many beds have you seen with lava lamps built into the headboards? PERCY: (Shrugging) Not too many. PROCRUSTES: Exactly! ANNABETH: (Angry, confused, screaming in pain) PERCY!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!? PERCY: (Dismissive) Don’t mind her. She couldn’t never understand the art of a well crafted bed. PROCRUSTES: (Sighing, disappointed) None of my customers do. Never exactly six feet, so inconsiderate. And then they have the nerve to complain about the fittings! PERCY: So… what do you do if they’re taller than six feet? PROCRUSTES: Oh, easy fix. I just center the customer best I can, then grab my trusty friend here- (Lets go of PERCY’S neck, reaches behind desk, pulls out huge, double sided bronze axe) - And I lop off whatever hangs off either side! PERCY: (Surprised, nervous) Oh… well, I mean, that’s just perfectly sensible. PROCRUSTES: (Excited) Oh, you have no idea what it feels like to finally have an intelligent customer! PERCY worriedly look over to his friends, ANNABETH gasping for air, struggling against the ropes, GROVER making strangled gurgling sounds. PERCY: So… CRUSTY, my man, this bed… (Gestures to giant heart shaped bed with red satin sheets) … Does it really have dynamic stabilizers to stop wave motion? PROCRUSTES: Sure does. Why don’t you give it a try? PERCY: (Stroking chin, pretending to be interested) Yeah, maybe I will. But… would it work even for a big guy like you? PROCRUSTES: Absolutely. PERCY: Really? No waves at all? PROCRUSTES: None. Guaranteed. PERCY: (Pretending to be skeptical) No way. PROCRUSTES: Way. PERCY: Prove it. PROCRUSTES puts his axe down, lies in the bed, and pats the mattress. PROCRUSTES: See? No waves at all- PERCY: (Snaps fingers) Ergo! Ropes spring out of the sides of the bed, tying PROCRUSTES down to it, his head hanging off the top. PROCRUSTES: (Shocked, angry) What the-?! PERCY: (Frowns, feigning disappointment) Oooh, sorry, man. Looks like you don’t quite fit… (Uncaps Riptide) … Let me make a few adjustments. PROCRUSTES: (Anxious, gulps) Whoa, uh, y-you drive a hard bargain, kid. Tell you what; let me go, and I, uh… I’ll give you thirty percent off any of the floor models! PERCY: (Sarcastic, pretending to consider offer) Really? Any of the floor models? PROCRUSTES: Y-yep! A-and no money down. And no interest for six months. PERCY: Hm. That’s a pretty tempting offer. But I think I have a better one. PROCRUSTES: (Curious) Really? What’s that? PERCY: (Raises Riptide, aiming for PROCRUSTES’S neck) Go to TARTARUS. PROCRUSTES: (Frowns) That’s not a- PERCY swings Riptide down, and chops off PROCRUSTES’S head, turning the giant salesman to yellow dust and black smoke, then quickly cuts GROVER and ANNABETH’S ropes. PERCY: (Concerned) You alright? ANNABETH: (Groaning) Define “alright”. PERCY: (Smirks) You look taller. ANNABETH: (Irritated) Very funny. Could you maybe be faster saving us next time? PERCY heads behind CRUSTY’S desk, and begins flipping through papers. He finds a pouch of drachmas, and puts them in his pocket, then finds a map. PERCY: So, who’s ready to go to the UNDERWORLD? GROVER: (Groaning) Dude, give me a sec… (Stretches, back makes sickening ‘pop’ sound) Oooo, that was good. Okay, I’m ready. PERCY: Good. (Holds up map he found on CRUSTY’S desk) Because it’s right around the block. EXT – VALENCIA BOULEVARD – A FEW MINUTES LATER The kids stand outside of a record store with a sign made of black marble engraved with gold lettering that reads: DOA RECORDING STUDIOS, and stenciled words on the glass door that reads: NO SOLICITING, NO LOITERING, NO LIVING. ANNABETH: Well, this was not what I was expecting. PERCY: What were you expecting? ANNABETH: (Shrugging) I dunno. Like, a hole by the Hollywood sign that opens when you read some Ancient Greek graffiti? (Looks directly into the camera) PERCY: (Confused) … Okay, whatever. Anyway, you guys remember the plan? GROVER: (Nervous) Yep. The plan. Love the plan. ANNABETH: (Critical, curt) And what if the plan goes wrong? PERCY: (Trying to be reassuring) Oh come on, don’t be so negative, ANNABETH. ANNABETH: (Sarcastic) Oh yes, PERCY. We’re about to enter the Land of the Dead, but I’m sure if we don’t think negative, we’ll be just fine. PERCY takes the Nereid’s pearls out of his pocket, and stares at them glumly. ANNABETH: (Kind, places hand on PERCY’S shoulder) I’m sorry, PERCY. You’re right. Well make it. ANNABETH gives GROVER a nudge. GROVER: (Nervous, trying to be reassuring) Y-yeah! I mean, we’ve made it this far, right? We’ll get the BOLT, save your mom, and save the world. PERCY: (Smiles, then gets serious) Alright. Let’s kick some UNDERWORLD ass. INT – DOA RECORDING STUDIOS – SAME TIME The kids enter DOA, Muzak playing softly. The walls are steel gray, the furniture black leather. There are people hanging about the lobby, but at closer glance, they are slightly see through, as if they were made of smoke. The kids head to the main desk, which is raised up on a podium. The security guard behind the desk has a military style haircut, dyed bleach blonde, wearing tortoiseshell shades and a white silk Italian suit, with a black rose pinned to his lapel, and a silver name tag. PERCY: (Leans forwards, reads name tag, bewildered) Your name is CHIRON? SECURITY GUARD: (Leans over, smiling, soothing voice) What a precious lad you are. Tell me, do I look like a centaur? PERCY: (Slightly embarrassed) N-no. SECURITY GUARD: Sir. PERCY: No, sir. SECURITY GUARD: (Gestures to name tag) Take a closer look, now. It’s C-H-A-R-O-N. Now say it with me, CARE-ON. PERCY: (A bit irritated) CHARON. CHARON: Ah-mazing. Now, Mr. CHARON. PERCY: (Rolls his eyes) Mr. CHARON. CHARON: Well done. I do hate being confused with that old horse. Now, how may I help you little dead ones? PERCY looks over at ANNABETH. ANNABETH: (A bit uncomfortable) Well, we uh, wanna go to the UNDERWORLD. CHARON: (Blunt, a bit surprised) Oh. Well, that’s refreshing. ANNABETH: (Confused) I, uh- it is? CHARON: Oh, absolutely. Just straightforward and honest, no screaming, no “Oh, please, Mr. CHARON, please give me another chance!”. (Grins, clasps hands) So, how did you loves die? PERCY clears his throat. GROVER: (Nervous) Oh! We uh, we drowned. In a bathtub. CHARON: (Raises eyebrow) All three of you at once? PERCY: (Awkward) I-it was a really big bathtub. CHARON: (Blunt) Naturally. I don’t suppose you have coins for passage, though. If you were adults, I could charge your American Express, or add the ferry fee to your last cable bill. But children… (Sighs, sad) … Alas, they never die prepared, it seems. I’m afraid you’ll have to take a seat for a few centuries. PERCY: Oh, we have coins. (Places three drachmas on the desk) CHARON: (Licks lips, excited) My my… real golden drachmas… I haven’t seen those in… (Hand hovers over drachmas, becomes suspicious) Here now, just a minute ago, you read my name tag wrong. Are you dyslexic, mate? PERCY: (A bit nervous) No, I’m dead. CHARON: (Leans forward, stares the kids down) You’re not dead. (Sniffs the air, disdainful) Two godlings and a satyr. I should have known. PERCY: (Awkward) Okay, first of all, I didn’t want to be a half-blood, and second, we really need to get to the UNDERWORLD. CHARON makes a strange, growling sound in his throat, and the spirits waiting around the lobby start moving around, restless, lighting cigarettes, fidgeting with their watches, etc. CHARON: Why don’t you leave now, and I’ll just forget I saw you. CHARON starts to reach for the drachmas, but PERCY snatches them away. PERCY: (Serious, assertive) No service, no tip. CHARON growls again, the spirits start banging on the elevator door. PERCY: (Pretending to be disappointed) It’s really a shame. We had more to offer. PERCY holds up the pouch of drachmas he took from CRUSTY’S place, pulls out a fistful of the golden coins, and lets them run through his fingers. CHARON: (Slightly hungry look on face) You think I can be bought, godling? Hmmm, just out of curiosity, how much you got there? PERCY: (Polite) A lot. So… what’s your pay like, huh? HADES being good to you, or…? CHARON: (Annoyed) Ugh, you don’t know the half of it. Babysitting these spirits for eternity, always with “Please don’t let me be dead”, “Please let me go in for free”, all day, everyday. I haven’t had a raise in almost three thousand years. I mean, look at me. (Gestures to his suit) … You think dressing this good is cheap? PERCY: (Nodding, slowly drops a few drachmas on the desk) Clearly, you deserve better wages as, uh… compensation for the, um… mentally taxing environment you work in. PERCY glances over at ANNABETH, who quickly nods approvingly. CHARON: You know, mate? I think you might be starting to talk some sense. (Strokes chin, thinking) Hm… boat’s almost full anyway… tell you what, lad. While you’re talking to the boss man, if you were to mention something about giving me a raise… PERCY: I guess I could drop a subtle hint or two. CHARON: (Smiles coldly, grabs drachmas) Come along, then. CHARON begins pushing through the spirits of the dead, the kids follow him. As CHARON pushes through the spirits, they whisper and wail incomprehensible gibberish. CHARON: Freeloaders. CHARON opens the elevator doors, and they get in with several spirits already in the elevator. CHARON: (Turns to face the spirits still in the lobby) No one get any ideas while I’m gone. And if anyone changes the station from easy-listening again, you’ll all be waiting here for another thousand years. The elevator doors close, and CHARON slides a key card into the slot on the panel, and the elevator begins to descend. ANNABETH: (Uncomfortable) So… what happens to the spirits in the lobby? CHARON: (Blunt) Nothing. ANNABETH: Oh… for how long? CHARON: Forever. Or until I’m feeling generous. ANNABETH: (Curt, sarcastic) Well that’s fair. CHARON: Nothing about death is fair, love. You’ll find that out for yourself soon enough where you’re heading. PERCY: (Confident) We’ll get out alive. CHARON: (Dry) Ha. Suddenly, PERCY becomes a bit woozy, blinks a few times, and sees that CHARON’S Italian suit has been replaced by a gray tunic and a black cloak, and his tortoiseshell shades have disappeared, revealing his eyes to be empty black pits. PERCY notices the modern clothes of the spirits become tattered gray cloaks. CHARON: Well? PERCY: (Realizes he was staring at CHARON’S strange eyes) N-nothing. CHARON’S face slowly becomes transparent, showing off his grinning skull. The elevator suddenly starts swaying. GROVER: (Holds his hand up to his mouth as if about to vomit) Oh, dude… I’m gonna be sick… PERCY becomes a bit woozy again, and suddenly the elevator has become a wooden barge, gently drifting down an oily, black river littered with all sorts of things, from college diplomas, dolls, money, and jewelry. ANNABETH: The River Styx… it’s so… CHARON: Polluted. For thousands of years, the spirits of the dead have thrown in everything they can’t take with them; hopes, dreams, wishes that never came true. Irresponsible waste management, if you ask me. Mist begins curling off the river, PERCY glances up to see huge stalactites, and then sees a strange, poison-green light glowing faintly in the distance. PERCY and ANNABETH begin nervously looking around at the spirits around them, and ANNABETH grabs PERCY’S hand. CHARON rows down the river a bit, and soon, they find themselves approaching the shores of the UNDERWORLD, craggy rocks and black volcanic sand, and about a hundred yards up the shore, a huge, stone wall that seems to go on forever in either direction. The kids become more uneasy when they here a deep, powerful howling sound somewhere in the distance. CHARON: (His face almost entirely transparent) Ol’ three face is hungry. Too bad for you, godlings. The boat slides up onto the black shores, and PERCY sadly watches the spirits shuffle out of the boat. PERCY, ANNABETH and GROVER hesitantly depart the boat. CHARON: So long, mates. I’d wish you luck, but there’s none down here. CHARON begins rowing away. CHARON: Oh, and don’t forget to mention my raise. CHARON eventually disappears from PERCY’S sight, and the kids forlornly trudge up the path with the spirits. As they get closer to the gate, PERCY sees that the gates of the UNDERWORLD seem to be modeled after airport security, with three different entrances with a sign over them that reads: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING EREBUS. Beyond the gates, there are some tollbooth-like structures manned by ghoulish black robed figures like CHARON. PERCY notices lots of spirits moving right along to a gate with a sign over it that reads: EZ DEATH. PERCY: (Points to quick moving line) What do you make of that? ANNABETH: Probably goes to the FIELDS OF ASPHODEL. It’s the place where spirits go if they’re too scared to face judgment in court. PERCY: (Surprised) There’s a court for the dead? ANNABETH: Yep. There’s three judges, and HADES switches them around once in a while. King Minos, Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare, people like that. The judges look at a person’s life, and if they were really good, they get to go to ELYSIUM. If they were really bad, the judges decide on a punishment. But for most people… well, most people never do anything really special in their lives, good or evil, so they go to the FIELDS OF ASPHODEL. PERCY: Oh… and… what exactly happens in ASPHODEL? GROVER: Imagine wandering around in a wheat field. PERCY: Well, that doesn't sound so- GROVER: Forever. PERCY: … Oh. I guess that would kinda suck. GROVER: (Eyes wide with fear, points to something) Not as much as that. PERCY and ANNABETH look where GROVER is pointing, and see two black robed ghouls grab one of the spirits in line, who begins sniffing him down. They ghouls growl angrily, and begin dragging the shrieking spirit away towards one of the gates. PERCY: (Worried, a bit scared) Where are they taking him? GROVER: (Gulps) FIELDS OF PUNISHMENT, probably. The Furies will set up whatever punishment the judges decide on. As the kids slowly approach the gates, they hear the howling sound again, but still can’t see where it is coming from. As they get closer to the gates, a huge, a shadowy figure slowly becomes visible, and starts to form the dark, transparent shape of a massive three-headed dog, towering over them, growling. PERCY: (Petrified) H-he’s a rottweiler? ANNABETH: (Slowly turns head towards PERCY) Wow, PERCY. There is, standing in front of us, a three-headed dog twice the size of an elephant, with teeth the size of cinder blocks, and more than likely wants to make us his midnight snack, and the first thing you think to say is, “He’s a rottweiler”? PERCY: (Awkward) I’m just trying to ease the tension. The kids slowly approach CERBERUS, and notice the giant dog is becoming more visible. PERCY: (Curious) I’m starting to see him better… why? ANNABETH: (Gulps, scared) Well… it’s probably because we’re becoming closer to death. CERBERUS stoops one of his heads, and begins sniffing. PERCY: (Grim) He can smell the living. GROVER: (Trembling with fear) Yeah. B-b-but it’s okay, cuz we g-g-gotta plan, right? ANNABETH: (Small, quiet, terrified) Yeah. Th-th-the plan. The kids inch closer the CERBERUS, and the three-headed dog barks so loud, the world seems to shake. PERCY: GROVER? Translation? GROVER: I, uh, don’t think humans have a four letter word that translates exactly. PERCY reaches into his backpack, pulling out a broken bedpost. PERCY: (Nervous, trying to be calm) H-hey boy, I bet they don’t play with you much down here, huh? CERBERUS lets out a thunderous bark. PERCY: (Gulps) G-good boy… (Waves the stick around) Y-you see the stick? CERBERUS’S middle head follows the stick, the other two heads fixed directly on PERCY. PERCY: Fetch! PERCY throws the bedpost, and CERBERUS watches it, unflinching. The stick disappears into the gloom, and splashes into the River Styx. CERBERUS turns his three heads back onto the kids, and growls menacingly. GROVER: Um, PERCY? PERCY: Yeah? GROVER: Just thought you should know, CERBERUS says we have ten seconds to pray to the god of our choice before we become Cerby snacks. CERBERUS begins snarling, saliva dripping from his three jaws, and ANNABETH’S eyes get wide. ANNABETH: Wait! I have an idea. (Start rifling through backpack) CERBERUS gets into an attack position. GROVER: Um, so I’m thinking maybe we should run now? ANNABETH: (Frantically looking through backpack) Hold on! CERBERUS roars, and starts to lunge forward when ANNABETH whips a red rubber ball out of her backpack, and the giant dog stops mid lunge, curious. ANNABETH: See the ball, boy? You want the ball? Sit! CERBERUS cocks his heads, confused. ANNABETH: (Assertive) Sit! To PERCY and GROVER’S surprise, CERBERUS sits, crushing several spirits, who pass through him, shouting angrily in some sort of gibberish. ANNABETH: (Pleased) Good boy! ANNABETH throws the ball, which CERBERUS catches in his middle mouth. The other two heads start snapping at the ball. ANNABETH: Drop it! CERBERUS whimpers, and gently drops the ball at ANNABETH’S feet, almost bitten in half and covered in slobber. ANNABETH: (Picks up ball) Good boy. (Glances back at PERCY and GROVER) Go. EZ DEATH line, it’s faster. PERCY: (Worried, hesitant) But- ANNABETH: Go! PERCY and GROVER reluctantly start inching forward, CERBERUS growls. ANNABETH: Stay! You want the ball? Then stay! PERCY: (Worried) What about you? ANNABETH: (Slightly nervous) I know what I’m doing, PERCY. Kinda. PERCY and GROVER cautiously walk under the giant dog’s legs. ANNABETH: Good dog! ANNABETH throws the ball to CERBERUS, and quickly walks under him while the three heads fight over the ball. PERCY: (Impressed) How’d you do that? ANNABETH: (Catching breath) Obedience school. When I was really little, my dad got a doberman, and- GROVER: (Urgent) Dudes, less talking, more running. The kids bolt for the EZ DEATH line, and ANNABETH stops when she hears CERBERUS whining behind her. She turns around to face him, and sees the giant dog panting, the ball torn to bits at his feet. PERCY: (Worried) ANNABETH? ANNABETH: (Shaky voice, sad smile) Good boy. I’ll bring you another ball soon. Would you like that? CERBERUS whines, and lower his three heads. ANNABETH: (Petting CERBERUS’S head, holding back tears) G-good boy. I’ll visit you, okay? I… I promise. PERCY: (Sad, hesitant) ANNABETH… we have to go. ANNABETH sadly walks away from CERBERUS, and passes through the EZ DEATH line with the boys. As they walk through the metal detector, alarms begin blaring, and CERBERUS starts barking. AUTOMATED VOICE: Unauthorized possessions! Magic items detected! PERCY: (Urgent) Run! The kids run through the gate into the FIELDS OF ASPHODEL, pushing through disgruntled spirits as black robed ghoulish security guards chase after them, shrieking and wailing. The kids scramble down the ridge of a road, and hide in the rotten trunk of a large, black tree. The ghouls run past the tree, still wailing and shrieking. The kids stay in the trunk for a bit to make sure the ghouls are gone. GROVER: Your plans suck, dude. PERCY: (Irritated) Yeah, well, you’re a donkey. (Takes quick look around the corner to make sure it’s safe) Alright, they’re gone. We should- PERCY stops mid-sentence when he notices ANNABETH sniffing and wiping tears from her eyes, and hears CERBERUS howling mournfully in the distance. PERCY: (Gently places hands on ANNABETH’S shoulders) Come on. We have to get out of here. ANNABETH nods, wiping the last of the tears from her eyes, and takes PERCY’S hand. Part 2 will be out soon.
171 points: flyingdrums's comment in Iron Gwazi Weekly(ish) Aerial Update: March 11th, 2020 - The Final Photo
136 points: sonimatic14's comment in I don’t care if people say “this isn’t a coaster”, in these times of lockdown I’ll take any credit I can find. This is the only one that is currently operating (tomorrow it will also be locked down) and we drove 137km/85mi/1h 35m to ride it 10 times. My daughter’s 157th credit btw.
123 points: BigMothInDaHouse's comment in My daily cuarantine drawing! Today I bring you a crazy concept: do you remember "Loop the loop" at Coney Island in 1910? Well, what if instead of a loop it had been built a cobra-roll with a launched by slingshot system powered by steam and a water-pool brakes? Would you like to give a try?
119 points: AtomicChef's comment in Emperor is testing!! (Credit: SeaWorld San Diego)
116 points: Tremic's comment in IRON GWAZI IS NOW TESTING! (photo by Midway Mayhem)
100 points: RCJohnny's comment in POV -Custom Model Roller Coaster Built In My Bedroom!
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