Long Walk Hurdle Tips, Betting Offers and Odds - 21 Dec 2019
Long Walk Hurdle Tips, Betting Offers and Odds - 21 Dec 2019
Long Walk Hurdle - 2.25 Ascot Saturday - Betting.com
Long Walk Hurdle Odds and Tips | HorseRacing.net
Long Walk Hurdle Betting Tips, Stats & History
Long Walk Hurdle Preview – Saturday 22nd December
Smol Noir (3)
Previous | First | Next DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to own any of the ideas or worlds described in the story. The ‘They are Smol’ universe is the intellectual property of u/TinyPrancingHorse. Nothing in the story is canon to his universe, and I’d suggest you visit his writings if you love wholesome stories about humans being human.
—|—|—|— ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER: This story was NOT written by me. It was, instead, created by the beautiful and certainly not a snake-person “@Fluffynoodle” on the They Are Smol discord. I was given permission to post his wonderful story on his behalf, so please direct all praise to him. I’m just the messenger. He’s the actually good writer. —|—|—|—
A short while later I was sitting looking at the dry rot on the wall of my room in Sweetheart Heights, fingers idly running checks over the deadly weapon I’d built myself as I waited, long as I dared. I’d been given three days — seventy two hours — but I was also sure that now I’d seen the body I was soon to become persona non-grata far faster than that. More Cake was missing from the puck, though not through choice. I could sleep when this was all over. If I slept now, I knew I’d end up in a steel coffin of one sort or another, on another one-way journey. Potential side-effects of paranoid delusions, apophenia and pareidolia be damned. Io worked on Terran time, though the day-night cycle was entirely artificial. Five o’clock was quitting time. Tick, tock, tick… tock… seven o’clock was even more important. Happy hour at the bars. I got up, fighting to stay vertical for a moment, then packed all my tools and headed for the ground floor. I thought for a moment about using what passed for the fire escape, but… naa, straight out the lobby. I’d been thinking for the rest of the afternoon, thinking hard, sure that I had missed something yet not really sure what. At quitting time it had all become clear. Gordon Silas definitely hadn’t died from a normal accident, oh no. His death was most likely due to the kind of ‘accident’ that involved getting in the way of a tweaked-out dorarizin, something that the galactic senate would rather be swiftly forgotten about. Of course, it was being dressed up as a human squabble made to look like a dorarizin attack so that everybody would turn the other cheek. After all, everyone knew that no dorarizin in their right mind would ever actually kill a human. Gordon Silas had been murdered because he’d found something out he shouldn’t have; something was going on at Marv’s Meat Packing Co. and I was going to find out what if it killed me. Squawky had put me on the right track, I had most likely found my way to exactly the right place, I’d just got there several hours too early and I’d been too dumb to figure it out. —|—|—|— Night in a hab is much the same as night on a planet; the same pregnant quiet, the same dark corners, the same hushed whispers. I paid extra for the human cabbie to forget he’d seen me and I paid more still for not only the forging of my ID in the system but the route and final destination. I wasn’t convinced any of it would work to throw off those interested in my whereabouts, but if I was very lucky that could only work in my favour. There wasn’t much to steal in a meat packing company, at least apart from the heavy equipment, so in theory security would be light. I turned off my wetware all the same long before coming anywhere near Marv’s, anything running even passive scans wouldn’t know a thing. Location caching was supposed to be illegal, but it was hardly a secret that you could be subpoenaed for it. Marv’s Meat Packing Co. was indeed deserted, save for a couple of lone guards. I watched the perimeter until I thought I had their patrol routes down — do a half-hearted patrol of the main gate, nip inside the complex, most likely for a coffee refill, then retire to the gatehouse… it wasn’t a patrol so much as a patcrumb — then snuck inside under their nose whilst liquid refreshments were being had. I didn’t regret my purchase of a hat — a nice, wide-brimmed trilby — on the way to the actual plant, it would literally and figuratively keep the heat off my head should there be any surveillance. I held on to it tightly as I squirmed my way through barbed wire fences and scooted under barriers. Marv’s business wasn’t big on electronic security; the fewer cameras and the lower their resolution, the less that what passed for OSHA would have to say about what went on in this low-rent chop-shop. I would still have to be careful, however. The downside of my current ease of entry meant that whatever was going on probably wasn’t centered here. I just hoped I’d find enough clues to get me to where trouble was really going down. I was, however, certain I’d find that info right here. The locks on the doors to the building I was interested in were, unsurprisingly perhaps, plainly mechanical. They were heavy and well-built, but bowed to my firking about with a pin tumbler and torsion rod in short order. Gritting my teeth for the inevitable alarm, it took me several long seconds for the thudding in my ears to die away enough to be sure I hadn’t heard one. That didn’t mean that a silent alarm hadn’t been tripped, so whatever I was going to do now, I’d better get to it. I still remembered the route to Marv’s office, but it was slow going in the darkened workshop. The ever-present smell of pig shit and piss permeated everything, and glistening, wet tools hung from racks. There was a lot of sharp, blunt and just plain effective implements of death and dismemberment here. My eyes, adjusting to the dark, spied what had to be a walk-in freezer with electronic security locks on it in the back, judging by the cooling system. It hummed away merrily. I shook my head; lots of people still paid a premium for hand-made goods, I guessed. The automated systems further down — and there were long channels to funnel animals down that led to an automated abattoir that could be adjusted to send streams of pigs this way or that as needed — were more than likely capable of producing any particular cut anyone could ask for, but the tools right here told me they likely picked off prize animals for special treatment. It was clear this was also where they did mass inspections of their herds, culling for disease, disposal — a largish incinerator sat quietly roaring to itself, still dealing with the last of the day’s unwanted trash — and otherwise dealing with the messy part of life and death that involved humans. A large counter on the wall had the number of ‘days’ since the last accident, nearing two weeks. What looked like a betting pool was underneath it, or possibly quotas. I moved on. No sirens yet, no sudden lights, no shouts… I knew at some point the game would be up, but so far everything seemed copacetic. I tried not to touch anything, even though I was wearing gloves. I was pretty sure that pulling any sort of fingerprints or genetic profile from anything in this factory would be an exercise in frustration, but it made sense to be careful. I found the stairs in short order. This would be the second real hurdle after breaking and entering in the first place. Navigating the iron steps with iron railings, in the open, without being spotted. I paused, ears metaphorically perked for any trouble, counted to ten, then tip-toed my crouched way up to the second floor. The balcony above the shop floor wasn’t any less exposed and I fought to keep my breathing steady instead of bursting out into ragged gasps. After an aeon I made it to the door into the nicer office area that belonged to the miniscule number of white-collar workers. The lock here too was purely mechanical. I swore under my breath, reflexively, as this mechanism was a lot harder to pick on account of how much my hands were shaking, but after another ice age this lock too snicked open and I cracked the door and slipped in. I closed the door, wincing at every sound the mechanism made until the door was flush and I’d released the handle, then I glanced around. The lights were manual, I hadn’t spotted any sort of alarm, and it appeared I could act with relative impunity. Something wasn’t adding up. I was more and more certain now that the jig was already up and that I was running on borrowed time. None of the internal doors had locks, so gaining access to the boss’ office itself was a literal cakewalk, but my first stop was the receptionist’s computer. As luck would have it — treacherous the Lady may be, but she is also not without a sense of humour it would seem — a post-it note was affixed to the flatscreen with the password. Wincing anew at the necessity, I fired up her computer and logged on. I dialed the brightness down as low as it would go, but was forced to trust that the internal nature of this area would prevent actual trouble from the glare. The company’s records were simple enough to access, but ten minutes of searching didn’t turn up anything out of the ordinary. The only thing that stuck out were the entries for ‘retired’ workers, papered out, that stank of payoffs for that accident counter outside. I knew for a fact nothing would stick from any of this level of petty bureaucratic shenanigans, so was forced to look elsewhere. It was in the boss’ office that I struck paydirt. Really, I figured, it was obvious when you thought about it. What’s food without sauce? Condiments? A filing cabinet had the real papers in it, filling out the transactions that, in the computer database outside, were just numbers for special orders. It seemed that Marv was dealing in a very lucrative cash crop of some sort, pencilled down as ‘special orders’. With Squawky eager enough to send me here, with Gordon’s death being so obviously graphic, I figured it was probably the one product that was ridiculously easy to come by in one corner of our galaxy and yet so incredibly heavily restricted in another, green. ‘Green’ was a karnakian plumage cleanser, akin to scented sand or soap. For karnakians, it was a pleasant and highly sought-after, freely available and well-loved product, but for the dorarizin… well, alien biologies what they are, green was like pure rave in a bottle. Laced with various other compounds, it gave older dorarizin the edge in bed, revved up their muscles, made the world come alive. It was heroin, speed, smack, angel dust and pcp all rolled into one. It also tended to send them into a wild, homicidal rage that didn’t end until everything else in the immediate area was torn to shreds or the dorarizin’s heart exploded, whichever came first. Green was, therefore, very lucrative in the right hands. Why not shuffle it through a dead-end human station? It didn’t do anything much for humans, so it would be very easy to deal with, wouldn’t ping any of the human interdiction systems and the senate — already on tenterhooks with the human race as a whole — would keep their noses out without a damn good lead. Oh, great. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I reasoned that was my job in this whole godforsaken mess. I swore again under my breath as I continued pulling out ‘special orders’ from the filing cabinet, then had to stifle a whoop of joy; something was going down tonight if the newest entry with just a date and no other monetary details inked in was anything to go by. If only I could find out where. This facility was rapidly becoming an obvious courier hub for illicit goods, but none of the data I was pulling out told me anything about where and when, just the what, and without the illicit goods, without the green, I had nothing. Kilos and kilos of ‘special orders’ were ear-marked for various shipments to the wider galaxy, hidden within the general product shipments being sent out to not only human worlds but dorarizin, karnakian and jornissian — and none of it would matter if I couldn’t prove they were for anything but gourmets. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say some of these special orders were, from the code names, other products than just the obvious ‘green’. If I could crack the code, I could come up with something to go on there, too, once I got myself out of here. As I closed the cabinet and started searching for some sort of hidden cabinet or safe, I figured that maybe some of the flow was cold, hard cash in return. That would surely be the easiest to figure out, and to trace. Would it weigh less than other shipments? Always have the same dropoff point? Or be the same order type? As I scanned the entries looking for patterns, I sniggered to myself. Hah, ‘cold’ hard cash. All these shipments were nominally for different cuts of pork; they had to be hiding the goods in with it, literally frozen. With a nice, thick, organic shield around the real goods, most sensors wouldn’t see anything untowards until it was far too late. Skim off the special box — maybe even in flight in some cases — and it’s gone. The galaxy was a big place, it made truly policing restricted goods a nightmare. Most financial transactions were performed to the galactic block-chain, but breadsticks and even analog currency were far from unusual, and provided for a more intimate, if not immediate, transfer of funds. If there had to be an open port to get into the standard shipping channels, then human space would be the perfect cover for not only goods but money laundering services. In truth, this was big, bigger than me. I felt the weight of responsibility settle not-so-comfortably around my neck even as I heard the footsteps outside and the door to the outer office click open. I saw the lights in the reception area come on by the glare under the door to Marv’s office, followed by a sudden babble of hushed voices. The takka-takka-tak of somebody accessing the receptionist’s computer came next. In moments, the jig would be up. I swore again under my breath. I’d found what I thought was the safe, but there was no way I’d be able to break into it before I was caught. To be honest with myself, there was no way I was getting out of here without a fight. Clicking the ‘on’ button on my plasma pistol, I prayed to whatever gods were listening that it would remain stable and actually function as I squared myself off, facing the door. Moments later, the handle jiggled, then turned. Letting out a huge bestial yell, I charged. I slammed into the door as it opened, braining the guy behind it, hopefully breaking an arm or knocking him unconscious. No such luck, though I had knocked the wind out of him. As I yanked open the door again, I noticed two security guards and three heavies in bloodied smocks, two of the latter picking up one of the former. Piggy, from before, was there, being the one heavy not manhandling a guard. Almost instinctively I raised my arm, gun in hand, and blasted the ceiling. With a bright, disorienting foomf of light, a good deal of the industrial ceiling disintegrated, along with a good section of sprinkler piping. Water rained down around us as I barrelled through the crowd, sumo-charging Piggy. He went down like a sack of blubber, almost bouncing as I rolled over him. A hand grabbed my leg and twisted as I tried to get up. I saw stars as my jaw hit the ground, blood gushing from either a bitten tongue or a split lip. I twisted too, lashing out with a boot to Piggy’s face as a ham fist the size of a small dog gut-punched me, another heavy had got into the mix. Piggy let go with a squeal, but two more shapes descended on me. I rolled over on top of one, head-butting and biting as what felt like a night-stick slammed into the back of my head. I rolled again, using the body now on top of me as a shield, and brung up my plasma gun. Multiple swears rent the air as my assailants dived for cover. I wasn’t about to commit murder, however, and my shot was aimed more to disorient than kill. Another shower of sparks and flames as the desk exploded, and I was free to throw off the guy who was now laying limply on top of me like a sack of ugly potatoes, having been beaten heavily by his friends. I jumped up, covering my face with my arm as I levelled the gun at my other assailants, then turned and ran for the door. I pelted down the metal walkway, no longer caring about stealth, as four figures charged after me, shouting and hollering. I fired at the metal in front of me whenever the gun announced it was ready, jumping the holes as they formed, panicking as I heard the structure start to buckle and bend. In a bound, I was down, as with a screeching cacophony, the stairs detached from the superstructure. Screams sounded out as the four guys fought to not end up on a heap on the floor behind me, but I couldn’t stop to make sure nobody was seriously hurt. I didn’t even stop to look back at the doors out, luckily they hadn’t been locked behind the guards as they’d come in, and kept on running as I leaped over the barrier. Somehow, my new trusty hat stayed with me. Truly, a gumshoe’s best friend and most valuable item of clothing. I was away, but hardly safe. By morning, everyone would know somebody had broken into Marv’s and taken a gander at the ‘secret menu’. I was screwed if I couldn’t come up with something tonight. My only chance was the deal that was, with luck, going down right at this very moment. Hailing a cab with my wetware as I brought it back online, I headed for the one place I was sure I could find some more information, The Fox and Stoat, home of fences, low-lifes and, hopefully, a karnakian who’d see things my way. If I’d been on the clock before, then now the alarm bells were ringing. I sat and breathed heavily in the automated cab as the automated systems whisked me through the habitat. Driven cabs were preferred in the same way that actual restaurants still employed waiters, but when you wanted fast food you punched your order up on the screens. I had to get to Squawky ASAP. —|—|—|— I was disgorged more or less right next to the entrance, and didn’t even hesitate on heading in. Inside, the atmosphere was livelier than before. The deadbeat drunks were fewer, the conversations more hushed, but the regulars were on form. The dirty dance floor had been cleared of most of the detritus and multicoloured lights were flashing rhythmically as some heavy bass loops made my gut vibrate. Snakes, humans, raptors and gorilla-dogs all seemed to be enjoying themselves, though the latter were wearing this seasons in-vogue dual air-filter gas masks and the raptors were wearing colourful binding tape on their talons and claws. I made my way through the mass of biologicals, heading for one particular booth. I couldn’t tell if Squawky had moved during the intervening hours, but there he was, with his body-mutts still on duty. I heard their buzzsaw-like disapproval of seeing my face again as they ground their multiple rows of teeth, but I ignored it. “Hey there, old buddy, old pal, so nice to see you again!” I called to Squawky, forcing a cheery grin on my face. I’m sure it looks like a rictus. “[The feeling is not mutual, human. What do you want? Unless you’re buying or selling, I suggest you find another place to sit.]” Squawky gestured to Larry and Curly. “You know, you never did tell me what it was you did,” I tell him, attempting and failing to slide in opposite him in the face of some large, furry walls of meat. “[I sell… merchandise. For rent. For short periods of time. I’m sure I could find a spot for you in my, ah, stables, if you’re truly interested.]” For a brief moment, I’m forced to entertain the idea of a future where I’m some sort of male pet gigolo to ogling xenos. My brain bluescreens, then reboots. He’s a pimp, right, focus on that. I size him up for a moment; he probably doesn’t like drugs. Probably doesn’t like ignorance and bad behaviour. Green would be… bad for business. It’d attract karnakians, which was good, but if one third of your clients — I wasn’t sure how much he sold to xenos versus humans, but I was sure he sold humans — would end up devouring your merchandise, well, that’s very bad for business. Had I been sent to exactly the right place to get rid of a rival? A thorn in his side? I led with that. “Look, Squawky, I like you. You may not like me, but I respect you. Product like Marv is selling, that’s bad for everyone, am I right?” Squawky seemed taken aback. “[Go on.]” “Then you probably know where the latest deal is going down. Get me there and I’m gone, one way or another. Either face down and six feet under, or a million miles spinwards, but I’m gone.” The karnakian growled under his breath. “[You come to me and beg for information twice, snatching scraps from my table with nothing to offer in return but damage to my plumage? You humans have a saying, [lay down with dogs and you get fleas]. You are a [dog] and I do not want [fleas]. I should have Gresjnjr rip your arms from your sockets and beat you to death with them right here and now, why should I help more than I already have?]” I noticed ‘Larry’ flexing his claws. No sane dorarizin would kill a human I kept repeating to myself, but another, small part of my brain said nobody said anything about maiming though. “S-sir, you know why you helped me in the first place. You could have ignored me, I’d find my way to his employers soon enough, but you knew that… you knew I’d find out about the ‘special orders’,” I did my best to stress the word, praying that the translator would take notice from stress patterns in my voice, “you knew that was where the rot was. You don’t like these ‘special orders’, they’re… they’re bad for business, right? Then let me—” I was interrupted by an enthusiastic dancer as she spun and tumbled onto Squawky’s table. “Shit, get off—” I started, and Larry and Curly were already moving, but it was too late. She unfurled her palm and, with a huge puff, blew a cloud of black-blue particles into the air. For a brief eternity I saw, as the lights cycled, a settling miasma of black, blue, black, blue… green. Shit.
Jesus. H. Christ. Months. Months of trying. Hours of failed attempts. I was so desperate that I would have tried anything. I tried finding someone to summon or some way to cheat. Didn't care about the rules anymore - it was fuck-this o'clock, and I was throwing everything at this bitch that wasn't bolted down. But nothing worked. I tried cheesing. But Friede has no cheese. Or distinguishable emotions. There are no shortcuts with her. No spamming or glitches. "Return from whence thou came" haunted my waking moments.. This boss forced me to focus nonstop for the entire 15 minute ordeal and I had to know what I was doing. When I beat her (regular ng), I wanted to cry. It's a game, yes, but I derive a great sense of pride and enjoyment from playing this way. Dark Souls is hard and we all decided to make it harder, but more enjoyable. Plus, there is a community that makes me feel like I'm apart of something, however trivial or small. I'm really glad I didn't summon anyone and I just got gud. I'm so pumped, though. I hear that the Nameless King and Gael are just as bad. If anyone is interested, here is the method I used after at least a dozen different strategies...although, this is lengthy. This is where you stop if you're already a pro. Thanks for the time and I wish you all the best of luck with your experiences! ~Attire~ Rings: Knight's, Havel's, Steel Protection, Prisoners chain. Armor: Vilhelm's, except for Followers Pants Weapons: Right - Heavy Millwood Axe +9, Arbalest +10, Pyromancy Flame +10. Left - Ethereal Oak Shield (aka bae) Estus: 12 Reg, 1 ashen (just in case) ~Strategy~ So, here's my take on this fight -regardless of how you don't want it to be the case, by the time you're able to beat this fight at sl1, you're not far from being able to do it at any level, any ng. In saying that, when regarding offense and defense choices, it may seem logical to lean on defense and HP as it only takes 3 swings maximum to kill you (even then there are one-shot moves). However, in the journey to being able to get to phase 3 with enough Estus, and further, past 50% of Friede's health in phase 3, you're essentially going to master all of the moves in the battle. So, maxing out 1-hit damage is really the pinnacle of mastery in this fight. This is preceded by ranged damage, and further down the line in proficiency, limiting the amount of strikes you take to 2 consecutive. That being said, here are some general rules for the fight that I found to be helpful:
Consumables are almost entirely unnecessary.
Attack should approach 200 with each swing.
Defense should allow 1 direct hit, and also have the ability to fast roll (under 70% encumbrance).
Use Tears of Denial.
Get rid of all equipment that you do not intend to use, especially if you ring or weapon swap. Which, I would only advise in phase 2.
Gael is not helpful: Some say he can give you openings in phase 3. Some say, you can just heal him and let him fight for you. Unless you're a specialist, I do not believe this to be the case. Friede/Ariandel's HP is considerably higher and they hyper focus on Gael, who may or may not heal himself consistently. I was only able to get him into phase 3 a handful of times, and in each of which, he just got in the way and made Friede considerably harder to anticipate.
Defense tip: In my successful run, I was able to take 2 hits with a sliver to spare, and a full combo/backstab took above 600hp in the first phase. I didn't use Tears, but the extra save gave me more opportunities to practice. Damage: the Dragonslayer's Axe is number 1 , but it takes 2 ring slots, one of which is the Hunters ring, which is an endgame ring. For some reason, I wanted to beat this boss as early as possible, and with as few ring slots as possible, so I did not use this. In my opinion, the best weapon for the entire game, up until the Dragonslayer's axe can be used, is the standard Mace. It takes no rings, has extremely high poise damage, can be buffed, does strike damage (most versatile damage type, imo), and has essentially equal damage to the Heavy Millwood Axe. The only downside is that it's short and kinda boring. Anyways, I would use the Mace if I did it again, but the Heavy Millwood is the next best. Other 1 ring/no ring options are the Profaned Greatsword (requires good timing), Broadsword, Bandits Knife, Astora's SS, Barbed SS, Valorheart, Bastard Sword, etc. 2 ring options are the Spiked Mace, Zweihander, Claymore, Wolnir's, etc. Really, any weapon with under 22 strength to 2 hand, under 18 dexterity, or under 15 faith/int. But we all know this. If you're gonna buff, I'd use gold-pine resin. Leave at least one for phase 3. ~Phase Breakdown~ Phase 1: Any weapon. Hell, your fist will work. I would suggest a weapon that can take above 600 hp in a backstab+follow-up encounter, but really, Phase 1 is the first hurdle everyone master's pretty quick. I didn't always go without getting touched, though. My defense was setup to take 2 direct hits or 1 major hit. Distance is advisable. Don't chance backstabbing her in a corner. Only works some of the time. Just throw something or a quick tap and roll away. Punish the delayed swipe, the Scythe Drag, and the directly-behind-you reappear. If you're struck to the point you need to use even 1 Estus in the first phase, restart. Otherwise, 15 minutes later, you'll come up short on health Phase 2: Toxic Mist, range, and maybe bleed. Toxic Mist: Requires a Ring swap from Knights to Priestess's (if you went Millwood). However, if you removed all other rings, this is a very easy swap, and phase 2 starts off very slow. You have about 8 second to do it before you need to roll out of the way. Then, once it's applied, swap back in order to use the Arbalest again (if that's your choice). Range: quantifiably, the highest damaging ranged choice is the +10 Arbalest with Sniper Bolts, as you will be quite far generally. Maybe some people think the Knights crossbow with Lightning bolts is better. No. I tried both weapons at +9. The Arbalest does much more damage - 257 compared to more than 400. Toxic Mist: I would say, this is necessary. With 3-4 applications, you don't even need to attack, but it takes about 6 full minutes. Instead, you'll have to apply it twice. It does require that you switch the Knights Ring for the Priestess's ring. It's not very difficult, though. If you aren't very good at that sort of thing, I suppose Phase 2 will just have to be 30-50% longer. Also, Bonus tips: I tried a variety of methods for phase 2 as it was my least favorite/most tedious. It isn't particularly difficult, but Ariandel's openings invite greed and, based on unforgiving rng, it only seldomly pays off. Anyways, I would suggest a few things to give anyone the maximum chance to win quickly: 1: Don't backstab Friede - 30% of my attempts, Ariandel was right there waiting and it only saves about 25 total seconds of damage. 2: Anticipate the Heal - this should be the number 1 thing on your mind - where is Friede?Always position yourself where you can see her and just shoot her while she is healing. Running towards her and getting a bit more damage messes with your positioning. Unless she is just really close, don't touch the booty. 3: +9 Bandit's Knife with Carthus Rouge - you can use your standard melee option, but for a consistently faster and safe method, the Bandit knife is reliable. It takes 4-5 swings for the bleed to build up and that only takes 5 full seconds to do. Seems like a lot, but use the same openings that you would apply Toxic in to accomplish this. Downside: it requires a second Ring swap. Not a huge deal if you prepare, but ultimately, I found it too inconvenient and just stick with ranged. 4: Only use ranged attacks on Ariandel - yes, this will usually cause Friede to come after you, but Ariandel has a lower defense, and you will almost never miss, where as Friede is a jumping, squirming, sack of tennis balls made of hand-soap. 5: Only attack Ariandel AFTER Friede has attacked - those ice crystals will often 1 shot you. They are easy to disregard as, mostly, you avoid them, but, I can assure you, 90% of your wasted Estus will be on this mistake. Attack Ariandel after you see the ice appear on the floor. That way you know it isn't about to hit you as you are focusing on Ariandel. 6 - Run after Toxic - after you cast Toxic, for soem reason, Friede will jump straight on your ass. So, wait for a good opening, apply, then run away and ring-swap. Phase 3: Fucking. Finally. I'm not going to mess with you...the phase took me forever to understand, but once I did, it wasn't so bad. There are several key things to keep in mind. These are my opinions, and not solid rules, but once I started following them, I beat her in 2 attempts.
Run more, act less: most of the time, you'll be trying to keep your distance. Any action that requires stamina should be timed. That means cocking your crossbow. That means applying a resin. That means whipping your actual nose. It only takes 1 second -yes 1 second - for her to go from standing still, to up your ass in your colon, planning your honeymoon, eating your goddamn favorite icecream.
Distance: some people can just fucking move out of the way or party her or time each one of her moves perfectly for a backstab. We aren't those people.
Keeping your distance will eliminate most of her dangerous attack options.
Almost never use melee: I actually struck her with a melee weapon in ONLY 2 occasions - 1 following the first attack where she jumps in the air and lands right behind you. I had a buffed weapon, and this was the only time I attacked with a buffed weapon, as I changed from range to melee several times, subsequently. That was 1. The only other instances was after her final appearance during the disappearing routine...and I even fucked up the backstab. These are the only 2 safe bets I'd you're going ranged, as all other openings don't allow for enough time to switch weapons then attack.
You MUST know where she is going to finally reappear: her final blackflame blast after reappearing will fuck you if you don't know where it's coming from. So whatever you have to do...get close to your tv, turn the volume up, whatever. It is PARAMOUNT that you know where she will be.
Never use all of your stamina: at some point, the bitch is going to catch you. Somehow, she will trick you and be right on your ass either with the ice-slide or you end up rolling into her close-range. Once you're there, you'll need to roll away like your life depends on it. Because of that, always leave just a bit of stamina.
Roll Away from the chasing flames: any flame attack - ANY - roll one more time. Doesn't matter if you're safe. Just roll one more time. I mean, keep that last bit of stamina, but that flame streak that chases you on the ground will stun you. The giant-ass flame that follows 2 of her attacks will instantly kill you...so, just fucking roll one more time.
Here is a list of moves that you should keep in mind. If you follow this, the fight is a breeze
First attack: don't lock on, just walk forward. She will end up behind you when she lands. Backstab. Follow-up attack. Run away. And keep running until she is not chasing you.
Now she is not chasing you:
One-shot, Blue-Glint, Launch attack: she fucking telegraphs by reading back her weapons and you hear a glint and see and glint. You know what I'm talking about. This will be now regarded as getting "Ice-fucked"
basically, if she does almost anything, just run diagonal and backwards, but more specifically...
she jumps I'm the air with ice: run backwards, anticipate getting Ice-fucked
she jumps in the air with flame: backwards a bit, the immediately roll sideways twice. Anticipate getting ice-fucked.
she jumps in the air with no elemental wtv, but pauses: this is just like phase 1. Time it right, roll out of the way preferably behind her, but also just running backwards works. Anticipate getting Ice-fucked.
she cocks her scythe: this is relatively safe. She's probably going to spin on 2 circles. Still, just run backwards.
she sends either ice or flames snakes at you: roll sideways. If it's flames, roll extra sideways. Expect, Immediately, to be close range attacked. By that I mean, leave a bit of stamina and be ready to either run quickly backwards or roll quickly.
she just stands there like a lemon - anticipate ice fuckery
I would say the safest times to shoot are after ice attacks, or when she is just standing there. Still. Always. Expect the ice fucking. And that's it. I know this is super long, but I've watched countless videos on this and it's fresh in my mind. I hope it helps someone down the line.
Me and My Artificial Lover Went to Glorious Battle
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 “Ow shit.” I groaned as the stinging from the hydrogen peroxide stung my butt cheek. “Oh hold still… it’s gonna hurt worse if you keep squirming.” Janine scolded, before jabbing the needle into the wound. I bit down on the belt between my teeth, as the pain worsened. Janine sighed as she worked and I did my best to keep still. “I can’t believe I agreed to this.” She said, more to herself than me. I honestly couldn’t believe it either. After our little interrogation turned multiple homicide from earlier, I knew going to an actual hospital was out of the question, and luckily Janine was available. She wasn’t happy that I called her at midnight, but then again, would anyone be? She was the only person with medical experience that I knew, so I really had no other option. Janine kept working, while Erica looked on in concern. Meanwhile Hal was hard at work with the blue-haired girl who still remained unconscious in her frozen knelt position. “Remind me again what happened to cause this injury?” Janine asked. “Uh… ninja star.” I replied. Janine just scoffed. “It’s called a ‘shuriken’.” Hal corrected. “Yeah… thrown by your new girlfriend might I add?” I replied. Janine turned to Hal who was messing with the blue-haired girl’s remote and a bundle of wires. “Yeah which is another thing we need to talk about… again.” I had already tried to explain the situation to Janine over the phone, but by this point, we all know how impossible a conversation that is. “Can you at least cover up her ass?” Janine asked; eluding to the blue-haired girl who was locked in the same position she had powered down in. She was bent over, with her pleaded green skirt flipped up, exposing her blue-striped underwear. Hal grabbed a blanket from the couch and tossed it over her butt, and Janine returned to her work. “Jesus Christ Carl…” I felt her needle dig into my ass a little harder after that, as Janine’s frustration had clearly set in. “Good doctor, will he survive his wounds?” Erica asked, concerned. Janine shot her a confused look. “Uh yeah… it’s just his ass. He’ll be fine so long as he doesn’t call me at midnight anymore. Otherwise I’ll have to tear him a new one.” She pinched the wound and I squirmed but stifled my sass. Erica seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. “Oh, praised be to God.” Janine continued stitching, and after a few more minutes she had finally completed her work. “Alright you’re good to go, it may be hard to sit down for a while though. And try not to get the stitches wet.” I rolled on my side and shot her a grimace. “How am I supposed to shower?” Janine shrugged. “That one you’ll have to figure out on your own.” She sauntered away into the other room and Erica clutched my hand softly. “Erica…” She looked to me, eyes seeming to brim with sorrow. “I’m just so glad you’re okay my lord. I don’t know what I would do without you.” She looked as though she were about to cry, despite her not possessing the ability to. Once again, her genuine demeanor struck hard. I can never tell how much of her is machine, and how much is still human. I wrapped both my hands around hers. “We’re going to find him. I promise.” I had no way to guarantee it, but I had to say it. Erica smiled and leaned her head into my chest in a snug embrace. It felt so good to hold her close, and I was prepared to do anything to help her. Machine or not, she deserved to see justice, and Chuck still needed to pay. Janine allowed us to stay the night, and for that I was incredibly grateful. If it weren’t for her hospitality, I don’t know what we would’ve done. I fell asleep with Erica at my side not long after, and awoke to the feeling of sunlight beaming in through the blinds. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee wafted through Janine’s apartment, and the sound of a television echoed quietly in the room. Erica was no longer at my side, and I sprung up frantic, only to see her seated on the couch beside Janine. Janine jumped as I sprung up, before we both realized things were normal. “Shit Carl… you always this jumpy in the morning?” Janine asked putting a hand to her chest. “Sorry… I thought… never mind…” I hauled myself to my feet and winced as my wound stung. Janine took a sip of coffee. “You guys made the news.” She said. My heart then quivered, and I looked to the TV to see an anchorwoman standing in front of a damaged house. After a moment I recognized the house as the same one we had been at the previous night. The woman on the TV gave a rundown of the story. Police were swarming the area after receiving calls of a skirmish. They found the bodies of four deceased people; three of the henchmen with the other being the guy in the bathroom. They had two of the henchmen in custody, but reports of another who escaped. Police were calling it a botched organ harvesting operation, and my jaw nearly struck the floor as the woman who we found tied-up the previous night gave her testimony. She then told her story how she thought they were all going to die; and surely would have were it not for three strangers who intervened. Janine just laughed. “I thought you were just high as shit last night when you told me that story, but I guess you are as dumb as you look, but you’re not crazy.” “Holy shit…” I then noticed Hal still dozing in front of the TV, with the blue-haired girl in her same position right beside him. “Hal… Hal wake up.” I threw paper towel roll at him and it bounced off his scalp causing him to squirm. “Mm… ah what? What time is it?” He asked groggily. “Who cares? Just wake up.” Hal grunted and rolled onto his back, his lethargic gaze meeting the TV screen. “What show is this?” He asked. “It’s not a show.” I replied. Hal then seemed to understand, and immediately sprung upward, his eyes growing wide. The woman on the TV then concluded the story. “Police are on the lookout for three persons of interest who the family claims are responsible for their liberation. If you know the whereabouts of these people then please contact your local authorities immediately.” The scene then switched to show police sketches that were undeniably of me, Erica and Hal. “Damn… they actually did a pretty good job on those drawings. They look just like us.” Hal commented and I had to step away. Panic began constricting around my chest like the coils of a python. “No no no no no no, this is bad. This is so bad.” I muttered. “Yeah, looks like I’m harboring fugitives now; because that’s really what I wanted to do on my day off.” Janine grumbled, obviously sarcastic as she rose and approached her kitchen. “I’m sorry Janine… I… it all happened so fast I just… I didn’t mean to get you involved we just didn’t have anywhere else…” Janine stopped me by putting a hand on my shoulder. “If what you told me is true about what those bastards did to these girls, then you did the right thing.” I looked at her, confused why I wasn’t being scolded. “I did?” Janine nodded. “Yeah, you didn’t do it well… obviously, but at least you tried. That was very brave.” She patted my shoulder and then slapped my ass, causing a stinging pain to surge through my body. I winced and Janine seized me by the collar. “But if you ever get me involved with something like this again then you’re gonna have to glue your ass back together.” She walked back over to the kitchen and Erica looked on in concern. “The heretics are most depraved indeed.” She commented. “You should just call the cops; you don’t deserve to get in trouble for this.” I called out to Janine. She cocked a brow at me. “I ain’t no damn snitch. Soon as you leave, I’ll call em and tell em you went in the opposite direction. They’ll never know the difference.” She gave me a wink, and I nodded back. “Thank you, Janine, I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.” She shrugged. “Take those bastards down, that’s a good start.” “Oh yeah dude I forgot to tell you.” Hal suddenly interjected and pulled something from his pocket. He slapped a couple of papers down on the table and I leaned in to get a better look. I didn’t understand what I was looking, but Hal quickly explained. “I think Chuck dropped these when he was running away shitting his pants. Got coordinates, a meetup location, a warehouse and this…” He then flicked a piece of blue paper in my face. It looked like schematics of a female woman; all skeletonized and interlaced with countless notes and symbols. “Is this… for her?” I pointed to the blue-haired girl still unconscious, face down on the floor. Hal nodded. “Yeah, I think I managed to reset her programming. Meaning in theory… she shouldn’t try to kill us when we turn her back on.” Hal replied. “In theory?” I asked. “Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed I’ve just been kinda winging it until now. But hey… it’s worked out so far.” I shot him a scowl. “Yeah, I mean hey we just murdered like three people last night but other than that we’re good right?” I asked. Hal just shrugged as if decapitating people wasn’t that big a deal to him. “Four people actually.” Janine clarified, causing me to pantomime a sarcastic thankful gesture back to her. “Well we’re still alive, and those guys were douchebags anyway.” I guess he had a point there. I looked back to the blue-haired girl. “So how do we turn her back on?” Hal looked over to Janine. “Got any jumper cables?” I can’t imagine what must’ve been going through the neighbor’s head’s when they saw us outside. Here they were, just probably enjoying the nice sunny morning when they saw a blue-haired girl dressed as a schoolgirl with us clamping jumper cables onto her breasts like some deranged sexual deviants. The elderly man and woman just stared at us as Hal fired up his Lincoln. I wanted to say something to assuage their clear worries, but I think I just made things worse. “Coffee just doesn’t do it for us anymore, y’know?” The old man just looked at me disgusted, and the woman appeared clearly worried. They said nothing, but picked up their pace to get away from us as quickly as possible. Can’t say I blame them for that honestly. “Well here goes probably the stupidest idea ever…” I said, grabbing the ends of the jumper cables. I touched the red onto her umm… right bosom and Hal stood ready with her remote. “You sure this is the right area?” I asked, referring to the depraved act I was about to perform. Hal just nodded, and I sighed; bringing the black clamp onto her other breast. The moment the metal made contact, she lurched awake. Her eyes sprang open and her body fluttered and contorted like some kind of funky dance routine. She then knocked the clamps away and jumped to her feet, seizing me by the throat. Erica unsheathed her blade, and prepared to strike as the girl’s hand constricted around my neck. “No wait!” Hal screamed pressing a button as Erica hesitated. The girl’s eyes then flickered, and her anaconda grip lessened. She then gasped, her eyes darting around. A wide smile then grew on her face as she looked into my eyes. “Senpai!” She yelled, suddenly jumping onto my torso and wrapping her arms and legs around me. The sudden weight caused me to falter on my feet and fall onto my back. Erica then pressed her blade across the blue-haired girl’s throat. “Unhand him you vile wench!” She yelled, a look of what almost seemed like jealousy in her eye. The blue-haired girl let out a whimper of fear and quickly released me from her grip. I jumped back to my feet, and the blue-haired girl hid behind me from Erica. “Eek… Senpai… watashi oh mamatay.” The blue-haired girl pleaded. Once again, I saw the same old man from earlier at the other end of the parking lot staring at me with a disgusted look. I just gave an awkward smile and waved to him, and he just shook his head. “Erica it’s okay… she’s just scared.” Erica’s eyes stayed ablaze, but her guard dropped a moment later and she sheathed her katana. I didn’t really know what to do, but clearly the best thing was for us to just get out of there. The blue-haired girl clung to me like a sloth to a tree all the way up until we started to leave. I elected to drive so Hal could continue working on her, and Erica sat shotgun and helped me with my dialysis. After driving awhile Hal finally managed to convert her language settings into English. We found out then that her name was Kurumu, and she- like Erica remembered very little of what had happened to her. She said she was sorry for trying to kill us earlier, and seemed sincere about it. Erica didn’t look too impressed, but I felt genuine sorrow for Kurumu as well. I didn’t know what the hell we were going to do, but I did know that we now had another reason to find Chuck Hagerman and put an end to his depraved antics. The documents that Hal had found pointed to a meeting place that Chuck presumably was going to be at. It was slated for the following evening, and it was half-way across the country. After we had interrupted his work the previous night, we didn’t know whether he’d have the nerve to show up there, but we had nothing else to go off. The rest of that day was spent on the weirdest road trip I’d ever imagined. If you would’ve told me a week before this that one day, I’d be a national fugitive on the lamb with two ass-kicking sex robots and my best friend Hal, then I’d have asked what drugs you were on and where I could get some. All the things I had imagined for my own life had suddenly evaporated, but I think it also taught me an interesting and kind of stupid lesson. You can plan all you want for how your life is going to be, but when destiny comes knocking, you answer that call. We had to end it, one way or another. We finally arrived at the city where the deal was supposed to go down well into the wee hours of the morning. Kurumu and Hal were both passed out in the backseat, and Erica – ever the faithful companion remained on full alert beside me. I pulled into some dimly lit parking lot, hearing the sounds of several crackheads arguing on the far-end of the lot. It seemed the perfect place to hide out and finally get some sleep. I killed the headlights, and glanced to Erica in the passenger seat. “Have we arrived?” She asked. “Well, we’re close, but the actual thing is still a little ways away. We got the whole day before it is supposed to happen.” Erica nodded, and stared into my eyes. “How is your buttocks feeling?” She asked. I shrugged, still soar but learning to cope. “it’s fine…” I replied staring out into the dismal streets around us. A moment of silence swirled between us, and my eyes eventually drifted back to her. She looked crestfallen, with her lower lip trembling ever so slightly. It looked like she was trying to cry, but just couldn’t. “Are you okay, Erica?” She lowered her head, hiding her face behind her crimson locks as she sighed deep. “I feel a great deal of remorse for what I have done to you. This heresy arose by my own hand. It’s all my fault…” She whimpered, and my heart broke for her. “Erica…” I reached out and clasped her hand. She sniffled, and seemed too ashamed to look at me. “We’ve all made mistakes, and this not your fault.” She looked to me, her verdant eyes seeming to sparkle. “But it is my lord! A piece of you has been lost because of me.” She appeared truly devastated, but in all honesty, by kidney was no longer my main concern. I mean sure, it’d be nice to have it back, but there were more important things at stake. “A piece of me has been gained though, my heart… because of you.” Yeah, I know it was probably the cheesiest pickup line I’ve ever heard too, but Erica seemed endeared by it. I clutched my other hand around hers and stared deep into her eyes. “This is my battle to fight too.” She leaned into me, and we shared a long embrace. So long as a matter of fact that by the time it ended I found myself waking up with a crick in my back from falling asleep in the same awkward position. Sunlight finally pierced my eyelids some time later, but I’m not even sure how much sleep I actually got. My mind was accosted by all sorts of anxieties and harrowing questions. What if we die? Will I go to prison for the rest of my life even if we don’t? What will my parents think when they find out? What is the point of having silent letters in words? And most importantly, what was Chuck really up to? After our previous encounter, that question weighed the heaviest on my mind. I thought he was just some incredibly talented and equally deranged robotics engineer, but clearly there was more at play. The fact he had five henchmen with him led me to believe his operation went well beyond just organ theft. I mean sure, I’ll bet a kidney is worth quite a lot on the black market, but it seemed like that was only the beginning. Hal managed to discover that the man’s home that Chuck had been at that night was not only a well-known executive, but also a Brazilian senator. That home was apparently just his summer vacation home. If Chuck was really only after organs he could’ve just kept going after average Joes like me. Local news would’ve run a story on another victim of organ theft, and that would’ve pretty much been the end of it. Why target a high-profile person like that senator? We spent that day preparing as much as possible; which truth be told didn’t involve as much as we would’ve liked. We wanted to buy guns, but we knew if either Hal or I tried to access our bank accounts then the cops would trace us really quick. In the end we settled on a local junkyard. The owner was a pudgy man with a stained Nascar t-shirt that was too small and a wad of tobacco in his lip. He didn’t want to let us in at first, but Kurumu managed to butter him up by flashing puppy-dog eyes. The rotund man blushed and his grumpy demeanor lessened as he finally agreed to let us in. We tried rounding up as many useful materials as we could find. Erica sharpened her blade, while Kurumu constructed several shurikens out of jagged scrap metal. Hal and I tried our hand at assembling some kind of armor, but realized pretty quick that neither of us were really cut out for this line of work. Luckily Erica showed us a few nifty little tricks which I’ll describe later. Her craftsmanship and MacGyver-esque spirit was truly something to behold. Once again, the thought struck me of how she was able to do the things she did. Did she know them before she became Chuck’s little experiment, or did he specifically program her with the knowledge? And if so, why the hell would he program a sex robot with the ability to manufacture guerilla weaponry? Either he was obsessively dedicated to creating authentic personality types, or there was an entirely different explanation to all this. Evening finally came, and our ragtag group filed in to Hal’s Lincoln and drove to the specified location. We didn’t even know whether Chuck would bother showing up there, but we had nothing else to go off and time was running out. My gut churned like I had just eaten a Taco Bell buffet, and I couldn’t stop tapping my foot as we drove out to the location. If it’s not clear by now I guess I have to reiterate; I’m no fighter. I’ve never been a big guy, nor do I have any training in self-defense, let alone taking on international organ smugglers. I don’t think our local community college has a class on that. Hal continued sifting through his phone and notes he had made while Kurumu drove quietly onward. I thought it was questionable whether to have her drive at all, but Hal seemed fine with it. We couldn’t even convince her to change out of her schoolgirl uniform. The sweats and hoodie we offered in exchange to help mask her appearance were quickly rejected; as Kurumu claimed they were ‘not kawaii’. She refused to reconsider and so we ended up just dropping the topic. Clearly, we were underprepared, ill-equipped and some might even say entirely incompetent. It’s not like we weren’t aware of this fact, but we were well aware that if we didn’t stop it, no one else would. The warehouse specified in Chuck’s stolen notes stood desolate and seemingly unoccupied. It was run down and swamped in foliage which protruded from cracks in the walls and foundations. Broken glass and various spackles of graffiti covered the exterior, and clearly the building had not been in use for many years. It seemed the perfect place for a shady individual like Chuck to meet his equally shady contacts, but there appeared to be no one there. Hal parked his Lincoln behind an old storage container, and the four of us spread out to put our operation into motion. Hal and Kurumu snuck around the back to try and find a way inside, while Erica and I hid behind some bushes. “Is something the matter, my lord?” Erica asked as I shivered from behind the skeletal bushes. The cold wind was like needles on my skin, but that wasn’t the only reason I was shaking like a leaf. “Ah… it’s just cold.” I replied, trying to reassure her; there was no fooling her though. “The eve of battle is a worrying time, my lord. It is only natural to feel anticipation.” I eyed her skeptically. “Pshh… I’m not scared.” Neither Erica nor I myself bought my claim. “Okay fine, I’m fucking terrified. I’ve never done anything like this before.” I admitted, unable to lie to her. Her green eyes seemed almost to glisten in the night, as the wind blew her crimson locks gently about. “You are very brave for accepting this mission on my behalf, and I will protect you to my final breath.” I shook my head. “I don’t want it to come to that. I want you to live, especially…” I trailed off, mulling over how to formulate the words as delicately as possible. “Especially after what you’ve been through already, you deserve to live free.” Erica smiled. “I already live free my lord. It is not the circumstance to which I was born into, nor the struggles I have faced which defines me, It is I who define myself, by the things I choose to do, and the people I choose to serve.” She then shifted closer to me, staring into my eyes. “And I choose to be at your side; now and forevermore.” She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. I was blown away by her response, but still my gut was churning. “What if we die?” I asked. Erica turned, and like some effervescent, Valkyrie queen from the heavens, she solidified her badass persona with seven simple words. “Then it will be a glorious death.” Headlights approached in the distance, turning onto the neglected road which led out to where we had stationed ourselves. The vehicle drove onward, eventually turning to reveal itself as a blacked-out suburban. Typical, I thought chuckling under my breath, but the stereotypic display wouldn’t last. The suburban closed in eventually parking in the far-end of the lot and killing it’s headlights. The vehicle just sat there, and I was unable to make out who was inside. Finally, after a few minutes the rear-left door opened. Out stepped a man dressed in camo, holding a large rifle. He lit a smoke and exhaled a cloud which was immediately abducted by the wind. The door on the other side opened a moment later, and another man stepped out dressed in matching attire. My phone buzzed, and I peeked at it to see a text from Hal. “They look like Army guys. What’s the plan?” He plucked the thought right out of my brain. “Stay hidden, wait for Chuck.” I texted back, contemplating what the sight entailed. Hal was right; the guys did look like they were from the US Army or some other military branch. But what the hell was the military doing out there? Was it a sting operation they had set up? I don’t know if the military even does sting operations, or if that’s more of an FBI thing. I suppose they could have been mercenaries or hired goons, but the uniforms threw me off. I expected tattooed bald dudes with beer guts and dark suits along with some Russian dude named Yuri calling the shots, but clearly that wasn’t the case. We waited there for at least twenty more minutes, before another pair of headlights emerged down the road. It drove the same path as the Suburban before it, and as it entered the same patch of moonlight; I recognized Chuck’s van. “It is the one we seek.” Erica began to move; clutching her blade, but I grabbed her arm. “Wait… I want to see this.” Erica hesitated, and slumped back down beside me. The van parked adjacent to the suburban, and killed it’s headlights. The two men outside with assault rifles tensed up, and the driver door of the suburban stepped out. He wore a black suit and gloves, sporting a balled head and clean-shaven face. The van door then opened, and out stepped a familiar and hated face. Chuck. Fucking. Hagerman. He rounded the van, and approached the man in the suit. “You’re late.” The man in the suit said in a voice devoid of emotion and expected Russian accent. He sounded more midwestern than anything. “Apologies, we had an… incident but it has been taken care of.” Chuck replied, clutching something underneath his arm. “I hope it wasn’t anything serious.” The man in the suit said, glancing at the guards beside him. “Do you have it?” He asked sternly. Chuck nodded. “Yes, yes of course. Not like I’m gonna come all the way out here to waste you gentleman’s time. That’s a good way to get wacked, amirite?” Chuck was clearly trying to lessen the mood with his cheesy, salesman routine, but the man in the suit didn’t look impressed. “There’s still time for that.” He responded, and Chuck looked like he had just shat a cinderblock. “Right, well as promised I have the models here that you requested.” Chuck beckoned them to follow him, and the group ventured to the back of the van. I couldn’t see what was going on, and was about to text Hal and ask since he had a better vantage point, but he beat me to it. “Dude there’s more of them.” His text read. “What do you mean? More goons?” I replied. Erica looked like a jaguar eyeing a field mouse from her crouched position. I could tell she was chomping at the bit to engage them, but still stood firm. My phone buzzed again. “No… more dolls.” I don’t know why I didn’t see that coming, but it was still a surprise. How many of those damn dolls did that psychopath Chuck make? “They are totally obedient, following every order without question.” Chuck declared, waltzing from behind the van with the other men. My phone buzzed once more. “He stole that line from Attack of the Clones.” I just shook my head. “Hal. Focus.” I replied, shoving my phone back in my pocket. Chuck walked out accompanied by two gorgeous women dressed in scantily clad attire. There was a black girl dressed in leather pants and a crop top, while the other was a Latina girl wearing low-cut jean shorts, cowboy boots and a corduroy, collared shirt. “These are our newest models. I think you’ll find them quite impressive.” Chuck pulled out a remote and hit something on the screen. The black girl’s eyes flickered, and she took a step. Her eyes focused on one of the men dressed in camo, and she began seductively strolling towards him. Her hand raised with an illustrious motion and her fingers danced around his neck. The man’s face lit up in a perverse smile. “They are programmed with state-of-the-art sensual features, but also…” Chuck pressed another button. The girl’s eyes then flickered, and in one swift motion she pulled the man into a headlock, flipped him over her thigh and flat on his back. The man struck with a groan, and tried to fight back but the girl held a dagger against his throat before he could move. The man shuttered and lifted his quivering hands in surrender. The man in the suit just grinned. “Impressive.” He commented as Chuck commanded the girl to release the man. The man in camo stood back up and dusted himself off as his comrades chuckled at him. “And they can be operated remotely?” The man in the suit asked and Chuck nodded. “From up to one-thousand clicks away.” That may have been the most interesting claim he’d made thus far. I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would possibly need to be able to operate a sex robot from over one thousand miles away. I mean, maybe remote viewing or voyeurism of some kind, but it just seemed like an unnecessarily expensive feature, but as I looked at the strange ensemble of Chuck’s friends, I was struck by an epiphany. Maybe Erica, Kurumu and the others were more than advertised. The girl strolled back to Chuck’s side; like a noble and obedient hound. I couldn’t decide what to do. I tried devising a plan of catching them all of guard, but there were too many. Before either I or Erica could act, a commotion caught our attention from the far side. “Die perverts!” Like some methed-out tiger there was Kurumu, leaping from the shadows and soaring through the air like some Jackie Chan prodigy. In one fluid motion she flung a shuriken out with tremendous speed, burying it deep into one of the goons faces. The man gurgled and fell dead a moment later as the others opened fire. Kurumu ducked, and dove behind an old truck, and I realized I had to do something. Before I could even act, Erica stood and shouted. “For the glory of the one true god!” Her voice rose to a clamorous warlord, and she charged at the men. They turned to her, but before they could fire, she was on them like a piranha on a wounded calf. She reached the first man, slicing both his arms at the wrist as I rose to charge out. The man screamed in agony but was silenced by Erica shoving her blade right through his throat. She then hunched her back against the man’s mutilated corpse; using it as a makeshift shield as his compatriots riddled his body with a surge of bullets. I saw Chuck panic and scurry away yelling out a command to his Amazon warriors. “Kill them.” The two other girls sprang into action, with one tackling Erica while the other darted towards where Kurumu had hidden. A brick then came soaring through the air and nailed one of the henchmen on the head as he was reloading. He groaned and clutched his face as Hal came charging out of the darkness screaming like a banshee. I think it was meant to be a war cry, but it sounded more like he had reached puberty and orgasmed simultaneously. The iron bucket on his head didn’t help his case much either. He reached the wounded henchmen and tried punching, but the goon caught his fist. He flipped Hal around, punching him twice in the face and once in the gut before tossing Hal onto the ground. Hal groaned and spat out blood as the man moved to finish him off. Before he could I dove onto his shoulder, causing him to waver and fumble around. He tried freeing himself, and soon tossed me free. Hal had since regained his footing and swung a metal pipe towards the man. The man ducked and instead Hal’s swing struck me in the shoulder. I crumpled in pain, and the man kicked Hal in the groin, causing him to crumple as well. Once again, the two of us were outmatched by a single opponent, but before he could land a killing blow on either of us, he was set open by a wild Kurumu. She slammed the man into the side of the suburban burying his face through the window. Another man rounded the back of the Suburban, but before he could fire Kurumu had flung a shuriken into his hand. The man screamed and fell backwards squeezing the trigger and causing a barrage of bullets to fly aimlessly out into the night sky. As I regained my footing, I saw the Latina doll in the distance hogtied and squirming in the dirt after her failed battle with Kurumu. Kurumu was a monster, and before I could even regain my footing, I saw her slam the goon’s face into another window on the suburban. By that point his face looked more like a pancake made of glass. Kurumu’s eyes were ablaze with the madness of the old gods, and she swiftly set upon the man she wounded previously. He screamed and tried crawling away, but Kurumu showed no mercy. She laughed manically as she grabbed the man around the neck and began pulling at it. In seconds I heard the man’s pained shrieks mix with a cacophony of wretched snaps and gurgles before Kurumu tore the man’s head clean off his shoulders. Meanwhile I saw Erica facing off with the black girl in front of the vehicles, and Chuck diving into his van. I knew then I had to stop him and so I charged towards him with reckless intent. As his van’s tires screeched and flung rocks up around the vicinity, I grabbed onto the side door handle. The van charged forward, with me clinging onto the side for dear life. Chuck’s eyes were wide with terror as I somehow managed to haul myself up his passenger side. The door then swung open, and Chuck swerved to try and lose me. I hung on for dear life as my back scraped against the abrasive gravel road. With all the strength I possessed I just barely managed to pull myself up inside his van. Chuck tried punching me, but clearly his fighting skill was matched only by my own incompetence. I caught his fist and tugged him away from the driver seat. The van swerved wildly, and I felt it tip up on two wheels, before tumbling sideways. The next moment consisted on what I can only imagine of what it feels like to be inside a blender. I was accosted by all manner of debris; glass, pencils, coins and whatever other frivolous items Chuck kept in his cabin. The van tumbled side over side before finally falling still in a shattered husk of it’s former glory. I lay there dazed and in pain, as my mind attempted to reel itself back in. I looked up and realized the van was upside down. Chuck was hanging inverted from the driver seat; his seatbelt keeping him tethered to what had now become the roof. I felt a sharp stinging radiate all over my body, but the adrenaline fueled me to click his seatbelt release. Chuck came crashing down onto the inverted roof like a sack of potatoes; groaning as he struck. I hauled myself towards him, mounting on top as he looked at me with dazed eyes. I punched him in the face. “Kidney… now.” I mumbled between labored breaths. Chuck appeared on the verge of unconsciousness. He didn’t respond, and I took a moment to catch my breath. Behind me I heard a sudden commotion and turned to see the suburban rocketing towards the road out. It swerved wildly before slamming into a telephone pole and stopping dead in it’s tracks. A person was then jettisoned through the windshield, screaming before landing in a heap several dozen feet ahead of the wrecked vehicle. I crawled out towards the wreckage, figuring Chuck was no longer in any condition to flee. I saw Kurumu fall in a heap from the roof, wincing softly as she thudded onto the ground. The rear tire of the suburban had like five shurikens lodged into it, and it looked more like an oversized, used condom by that point. Erica was still facing off against the black girl, but their conflict ended when Hal arrived and tasered her from behind. The black girl quivered and fell to the dirt unconscious. Erica was panting heavily, and her and I locked eyes in the moment. A sudden screech then echoed behind us, and the sounds of a boom echoed out. I turned and saw an odd, net-like projectile come hurdling towards the scene. Before anyone could react, I saw the thing coil around Erica like some vile serpent. She fell to the dirt and I rushed to her side, but I was too late; the suburban reached her first. Two men stepped out and hauled the flailing Erica inside. I screamed and dashed towards them, but was frozen by the sight of the man in the suit. He was holding a pistol aimed directly at my chest. I saw it just in time for him to pull the trigger. A harsh impact thundered into my chest, feeling like a punch from superman direct to the gut. I fell onto my back, seeing Erica screaming as my vision swam around me. I then saw her convulse and fall still as she was hoisted into the depths of the suburban. I could do nothing but watch as they drove away into the night and my vision faded to black.
[FN] Tales of the Three & The Master of Mystery - Chapter 1
My first attempt at something bigger than just a singly short story. Also, English isn't my first language so any tips/corrections/advice on grammar is appreciated. - Thank you -
Chapter 1 - K.i.s.s.i.n.g. “Sam and Jane, sitting in a tree,” Jake said with a taunt in his voice. Sam’s face turned red and he stared at the ground, hoping Jane wouldn’t see him like that. Jane looked over to Sam and noticed his embarrassment. Jane pushed her twin brother to the grass and walked over to Sam. The grass turned dark as the shadow cast by Jane came closer, Sam felt forced to look up, wiping the tears from his puffy cheeks. “Jane! Jake! Dinner is ready!” “Coming mom!” Jane replied. Jane smiled at Sam and gave him a kiss on the cheek. As innocent as always Jane skipped back to her home passing by Jake who was only just getting back on his feet. When Jane and Jake were both out of sight, Sam turned back and began walking home as well. After his first step he heard a crunch beneath his feet. He looked down and found the grassy field around him suddenly covered in daisies. He picked a handful and ran off home. Sam opened the gate to the front yard of his family’s home and found his father doing some gardening. Carefully removing the weeds from the herbs he was growing, he looked at Sam. “Who are the flowers for?” he asked Sam. “For mom, because she always cares for me, I wanted to give these.” “Always the ladies man. But shouldn’t you give those flowers to your girlfriend?” Sam stopped dead in his tracks for a moment. He stood there staring at the front door to his home, refusing to look at his father who had begun to chuckle at Sam’s behaviour. Sam rushed inside without even a glance towards his father. He kicked off his dirty boots into the first available corner and walked towards the kitchen where he found his mother cooking dinner. “My my, are those for Jane?” Lillia asked him as she saw Sam approach. His face turned red once more, and looked away as he lifted the flowers to his mother. “For you.” Sam said quietly. “How sweet of you!” She said to Sam as she took the flowers from him. Lillia gave him a kiss on the cheek. “You sure you don’t want to give one to Jane?” “Don’t think she’d want them.” Sam said. “And why is that dear?” she asked as she placed a single daisy inside the book to press it. “She grew them before she left for dinner.” “She grew them? With magic you mean?” Sam smiled and nodded. He was a few months older than Jane and Jake, and they were all around the age where magic would begin to manifest. Some children would show the gifts around their ninth birthday but usually around the age of twelve it became obvious what the children were capable of. For the first few years it would be up to the parents to teach them the basics of magic and the use of it. But also how dangerous it could be if used wrong. An hour later at the dinner table, Sam’s parents were quietly talking. “What do you mean the talk, he’s too young for … “ his father Emmet began. “Magic. Emmet” Lillia quickly interrupted. “Oh.” “When can I do magic?” Sam asked. His parents looked at each other mentally discussing the best strategy. The answer to that question would not be easy as it’s different for every child. But the talk began during dinner and continued for many hours after. Sam learned about what magic was and what it could do. Lillia explained to him that she was a Fire Elementalist, she could manipulate small fires or start them at will. She demonstrated her gift by lighting the candle on the dinner table by snapping her finger. Sam was startled at first but his expression turned to admiration very soon after. Emmet took over and mentioned he was an Earth Elementalist. Though he could not give an immediate example of his skills, he explained how he could make plants grow better by manipulating the earth. It is why he loved gardening so much and why his plants never seemed to wither. “Will I become an Elementalist too?” Sam asked, but his parents couldn’t answer. Magic was normal for every child, but the abilities they would possess was unknown until they showed the gift to the world. “It seems Jane may be an Earth Elementalist if she can grow flowers that well,” Emmet said with pride. His face turned sour after a moment when he realized that Jane had shown similar powers he himself was capable off, but Jane was only eleven years old. “Yes, she may be a very good one too,” Lillia added. “Has Jake shown any magic yet?” “Not that I’ve ever seen, but all he does is tease me and Jane. Maybe that’s his magic, to be annoying!” Everyone laughed at the little joke Sam made. And with that, the evening ended for Sam. It was time for bed. A loud scream woke Sam up in the middle of the night. His parents were out and about, grabbing buckets and rushing outside. Sam looked outside his bedroom window to the house on the far side of the field. He saw an ominous glow coming from the house of Jane and Jake. He heard other villagers scream `Fire` and watched as more and more people went over to fight the fight with anything they had. Sam too went out of bed, put on his dirty boots and a coat and ran over the field to his friend’s house. On the west side of the house, Sam’s mother was putting out small fires with her magic, but was unable to deal with the large ones. His father was moving the earth in small batches to quench the fires, but it wasn’t enough. Other people helped, some Water Elementalists used the buckets filled with water to extinguish the fires. Jake ran out of his house screaming for Jane. He was so focussed on her, he hadn’t noticed his clothes were on fire. A Water Elementalist doused Jake and a Healer went to him to check for burns but was surprised to find none. Jake ignored everyone and rushed back into the burning building after hearing Jane cry. Sam could no longer stay back and also ran towards the burning building. “Sam! Come back!” his mother yelled to no avail. Sam rushed in the building and was quickly surrounded by roaring fires. He pictured all the times he had seen his parents do magic and imagined himself doing the same. He had hoped to be a Fire Elementalist and control the flames, but that didn’t work. The heat was stifling him, and Sam couldn’t take another step. He fell down to his knees and closed his eyes, trying with all his willpower to subdue the flames by any means possible. Suddenly he felt the flames recede, his skin no longer burning. He opened his eyes and found a blue glow all around him, like a bubble of air amidst the flames. He stood up and stepped forward. Sam found the bubble was following him, and so he kept taking small steps to try and find Jane. Slowly building up confidence Sam moved quicker and quicker, searching every room. The bubble flickered when Sam heard shouting from the one room he had not checked. “Jane!” Jake shouted, “I can’t hold the fires much longer, you have to go.” “I can’t, it’s too hot!” she shouted back, her voice almost inaudible in the roaring fires. Sam stepped into the room and called for Jake to step aside. When Jake turned and saw the blue bubble surrounding Sam he was stunned with disbelief and the fires lit up again. Sam kept pushing forward until he reached Jake and surrounded him in the bubble. Jane looked both amazed and terrified, fearing for her life she refused to get up from the corner she had crept in. Sam kept stepping closer but the flames were heating up the bubble. “We don’t have much time Jane, please … “ Before Sam could finish the sentence, Jake willed the flames away from his sister, just enough for Jane to crawl over the hot embers of what remained of the wooden floor. When she reached Sam’s bubble she stood up, her knees were wobbling but she made it. The bubble flickered more when Jane put her arms around Sam for support. For a moment Sam couldn’t believe he was being hugged by the girl of his dreams, that along with the kiss he received earlier in the day made him feel as if in heaven. Heaven turned to a very warm hell when the bubble kept flickering. “Sam!” Jane yelled trying not to cry, “Focus please!” Sam snapped out of his daydream and reinforced the bubble and pushed his dreams to the back of his head. He would have to enjoy them another time. “Let’s get out of here.” Jake was using his last strength to lessen the flames in front of them and just before they reached the door, loud cracking came from above. Jane and Jake both saw the ceiling collapse on top of them and both huddled up in a ball, embracing each other. The sudden weight of the ceiling pushed hard on the bubble, pressing Sam to one knee. And as if lifting the world he remained. From the outside, others were pushing inward to find the children. Fire and Water elementalists working together to subdue the last few flames surrounding the door and the collapsed ceiling. Worried faces were all around as spectators held their breath. More creaking noises came from the house, but this time it was not the ceiling collapsing, but the ceiling being pushed up by Sam’s bubble. His grunting made it clear he was pushing himself to his limit. “Goodmorning sweetheart,” Lillia said to him when he woke up. “Glad to see you’re awake.” “I had this weird dream.” “If only it were a dream my boy,” Emmet said from the doorway. “You gave us quite the scare. I bet your mother will want to have a few words with you about your irresponsible behaviour.” He smiled and winked at Sam, he walked away while taking a sip from his coffee. Sam couldn’t believe what he was hearing, it didn’t feel real but there his mother was, looking as furious as the day he destroyed the shed. “Mom, I … “ “Don’t you dare try to talk your way out of this young man!” “But … “ “No buts! You could have been killed! You were only just talking about not knowing your magic and you ran into a burning building with no protection, no way of knowing you could even live! What in the world were you thinking!” The silence that followed was deafening, and for several minutes there was absolute silence. Not even the birds outside dared to make a sound. Sam had heard his mother angry before, but for some reason her words weren’t in anger. She sounded almost afraid. He didn’t truly understand until he felt a droplet land on his hand. He looked up and saw his mother crying. Sam tried hard to swallow the massive lump in his throat when he realized what he had done. He tried to say what he wanted to say but no words came out, the only thing he could do was cry as well and embrace his mother. “Don’t ever scare me like that again, you hear! Now get dressed, breakfast will be ready soon.” “Love you mom,” Sam said as she stood up. “Love you too sweetheart.” Jake and Jane were knocking on the door to Sam’s house. Emmet opened and without needing to hear the question, he simply answered; “He’s awake, come on in.” Jake and Jane both rushed and found Sam sitting at the table having breakfast with his mother. Jane noticed the red cheeks, though she doubted it was from an embarrassing moment like when she kissed him. He’s been crying. Jake punched Sam’s arm. “Why didn’t you tell us about your gift!” Jake said enthused. “I … I didn’t know,” Sam replied and he looked at Jane. “Well it was crazy good, you’re a Defender!” Jake continued. “They are masters of force fields and can defend others against powerful magic. Defenders are the best warriors in the army, always on the front lines. They are so cool.” Jane sighed. “You were very impressive. And you saved my life. Thank you Sam. You were brave and stupid at the same time.” It wasn’t the first time that Sam got a compliment, but hearing those words from Jane made his face red like a tomato once more. He wanted to walk away but Jane stopped him. A kiss on the lips was Sam’s reward for bravery. Within seconds Jake began laughing at the inadequate response from Sam. Jake made fake kissing faces as he saw that Sam was still pursing his lips long after Jane pulled back. “We should get back,” Jane said as she nudged Jake towards the door. “Our home won’t rebuild itself, we’re helping our parents build us a new home.” “Well wishes for your folks, if they need an extra pair of hands, give us a shout,” Emmet said. He opened the door and ushered the two out the door. When he turned back to the table, Sam had rushed off to his bedroom. He crashed on his bed and stuffed his head in the pillow hoping the rest of the world would never know of this embarrassing moment. “A Defender,” Emmet said. “That’ll be interesting, he can hardly defend his own pride, look at him. ” “He’s still a boy.” “He has his magic, he’s no longer a boy, he’s a man now. As a Defender, he should be in better shape. Tomorrow I’ll begin his training. I think my father’s sword is still locked in his trunk in the tool shed. I just hope our little Sam turns out better than my old man.” “Just be patient with him. Don’t push him too hard, he still has a few years before the Ceremony.” The following morning was cold, dew rested on the grass. When the morning fog had lifted, Sam and his father went for a stroll through the nearby forest. Emmet was carrying a sword and shield as well as a wooden spear that he seemed to have made only last night. Though the sun was up, the dense forest refused to let the light through. Darkness was all round Sam and his father yet they ventured forth. After nearly an hour of hiking over small trails, they reached a glade as smooth as can be. The grass was wet and Sam’s feet were already getting wet as moisture came through burn marks in his damaged boots. Emmet dropped the sword and shield, and kept walking. “Pick them up,” Emmet said, “and prepare to defend yourself.” “A sword and shield against your spear?” Sam said with an arrogant tone. “You’d be too slow to hit me, even without any training. You know I’ve seen battles being acted out in the town square, right dad?” “So you think it’ll be easy?” “Yeah, come at me!” Sam felt something creeping around his ankles and before he knew it, he was on the ground. His father just stood at a distance laughing, he wasn’t even in battle position, almost as if it was unexpected for him too. Sam stood up and tried to cut the roots that tripped him but found nothing on the ground except grass. He once again was in position to defend and suddenly heard an unexpected noise. Sam turned around and saw a small ball of fire hurdling his way. Quickly Sam lifted his shield and blocked the fireball. He heard his father call him from behind him, when Sam looked he saw his father throw his spear towards him. Sam seemed frozen, unable to think or act. Suddenly he screamed. The fear turned into rage and a shockwave erupted from his body blasting the spear to thousands of tiny splinters. His father stood and watched as the shockwave approached him. Sam’s mother was on the opposite side of the field wielding a small ball of fire in her hand, she too did not know what to make of it all. Almost simultaneously were they struck and knocked back by the shockwave, along with several trees which took the shockwave badly and shattered. The trees fell to the ground with a tremendous noise and Sam stood in the middle afraid he would be in trouble. Both of his parents came running at him shouting with glee. His first training was already a success. Before he knew it Jane came out from the tree line into the glade. She looked at the destroyed trees and made some silly motions with her hand. Within seconds the damaged and felled trees stood upright once again as if nothing had happened. “I guess you both are much stronger than you appear,” Emmet said. “I’ve been practicing for over a year now,” Jane replied. “Jake has been trying to control his gift, but he’s been struggling.” “Is that how the house burned down?” Emmet asked “Yes, he’s a Fire Elementalist.” “Perhaps I can train him a little bit?” said Lillia. “I’ll ask him when I get home.” Jane said. “He’s been feeling down ever since it happened. He struggles more and more, even the smallest flame will explode violently if he tries even a little. The Elders said he might be the highest level of Fire Elementalist, dangerous but very powerful.” “And what of you? Growing trees back to life in seconds, that’s not a skill from an Earth Elementalist, I would have known.” Said Emmet. “There is more to you than meets the eye. Have the Elders spoken about your gifts?” “Yes, they said I was most likely not an Elementalist at all, but something else. Something they didn’t think they’d see again in their lifetime. Though I’m not sure what they mean by that.” “Well, keep practicing whatever you can, the forest here and this glade are safe places to do so, even for your brother.” Emmet said. “Thank you. I’ll leave you to train with Sam now. Have a good day, and thanks for asking me to come here this morning Lillia.” “You are welcome dear.”
MEGA GUIDE to The International 2019 in Shanghai, China!
Comprehensive Guide for Shanghai TI9 Visitors
Heya /dota2, your resident bilingual Dota fan here, who brought you Chinese memes and interview translations over the past few TI's. With the advent of The International 9, many fans who are looking to attend the event live but have never visited Shanghai would understandably have many questions and concerns regarding the city. This guide was painstakingly written by yours truly to give ya'll an idea of what to expect during your visit and answer some common questions and concerns. Be warned that this is a REALLY long guide (9k words, no biggie) aimed towards first timers in Shanghai, if you’re a ticket holder and this is your first time visiting, make sure to read the whole thing as a fair few parts are interconnected.
If you have any specific questions that this guide doesn’t cover, feel free to ask any questions in the comments section or via the Shanghai TI9 Discord.
Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of more than 24 million. Situated along China’s eastern coastline, Shanghai has a warm temperate climate, with July and August being our hottest months averaging 25-35 degrees Celsius. Rainy season usually ends by late June so we would expect typical hot summer weather during the event period, so dress accordingly.
Air pollution in Shanghai has seen a drastic reduction since 2010 in an effort to improve the city's image. Despite this improvement, it is still considered fairly polluted by global standards, and sensitive people might experience respiratory irritation, though if you’re from a developed city you probably won’t notice much difference. Also, indoor smoking has been recently banned in Shanghai, so smoking is only allowed in open-air environments or designated smoking areas.
In terms of commodity costs, China isn't as cheap as it used to be, and Shanghai’s definitely on the pricey end of the scale. That being said, you can always find a good deal on accommodation and food if you’re resourceful enough, though you might need a local friend to help you with that.
Compared to other parts of China, Shanghai has one of the highest overall prevalence of English speakers. Younger generations have at least a rudimentary grasp of English, and there’s a fairly large number of proficient users. Communication for basic things like directions and purchases shouldn’t be an issue.
One thing to note is that Shanghai isn’t just a tourist location for you, it’s a tourist hotspot for the rest of China as well. There’s easily a couple million domestic tourists in Shanghai on any given day, and to them, YOU are a tourist attraction, so try not to be bothered by the looks and attention. People in China are generally very welcoming and friendly towards foreigners, so if you’re in a pinch, just ask for help from passer-bys (particularly younger folk).
1. Visa Before one books a flight to Shanghai, first thing you will need to do is look up the Visa application process to obtain a tourist visa to China. China’s visa application process is pretty straightforward without any particular hurdles, just fill up the relevant forms and attach the required documents. The main items you will need to prepare for the application would be your flight itinerary and hotel booking. Please note that in some countries, you may have to submit the application form in person or via mail to specific visa application centers, so make sure you do your research on the due process beforehand.
[Cost] Visa cost may vary between countries, usually ranging between USD$90 – 110, though I’ve seen some places pricing it at 150. Agency fees will apply if you apply through a travel agent, but that may be preferred to simplify the process if you find it hard to navigate through the embassy resources.
[Duration] Officially, visa processing time is slated to be 10-14 days, but it can often be processed as quickly as 2-3 days, depending on how busy the embassy is. Again, check with your country’s authorities, you may have to return to the visa application center to pick-up your passport/visa.
[Misc] Singapore, Brunei and Japan passport holders can enter China without a visa for a stay no more than 15 days. For those of you from countries with powerful passports, you may be unused to the paperwork to fill out, but it’s pretty simple to handle and shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes of your time.
2.Flight For flight booking, simply use your preferred website, skyscanner, booking, etc, to find the lowest fare available. Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city so there wouldn’t be any problems booking flights there, Pudong Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Note however that there are two airports in Shanghai, Pudong International Airport (PVG) and HongQiao International Airport (SHA). Nowadays, HongQiao Airport is mostly for domestic flights, but if you’re flying from Eurasia, your flight may transit via another major inland city in China, which will possibly land you in HongQiao. If you’re travelling with friends via different flightpaths, make sure everyone’s booking to the right airport, because the two airports are pretty far apart on opposite ends of the city.
Should the air tickets to Shanghai be in short supply, alternative flight routes include flying to Hangzhou or Nanjing and taking a high speed rail to Shanghai. The high speed rail service in China is world-class and easy to navigate (do inquire if you’re going for this option, I’ll add another section if it’s in high demand), and it’s less than 2 hours travel time via the rail to Shanghai. If you wish to take this chance to tour around China a bit, this would be a good choice as you can visit multiple cities and see their unique history, culture and attractions (such as West Lake in Hangzhou).
3.Venue: Before we get to the hotel and accommodations, the venue needs to be looked at since I’m sure a lot of you will be looking to stay somewhere nearby. First off, here’s a google map of the venue and its surroundings. The stadium is conveniently located right beside a Metro station, China Art Museum Station. You will see the iconic Mercedez Benz Arena (MBA) building immediately when you step out of the station via exit 4 (I've personally verified it), and it is a mere 30 second walk to the stadium.
Located along the bank of the Huangpu River, the MBA is part of the expo grounds developed during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. It boasts spectacular views of the city and the river, has a gorgeous park right next to it where you can go for a leisurely stroll, stunning architecture in every direction and rows upon rows of restaurants available in the adjacent River Mall Area 5. The entire area was developed for event purposes and its facilities are specifically constructed to cater to those needs.
HOWEVER, this also means that there are no hotels or residences within the immediate vicinity, since the district was entirely purposed as exhibition grounds. The nearest available accommodation would be budget hotels approximately 1km away, with decent hotels (4-stars) at least 1.5km away. Given how efficient the Shanghai Metro is, it is strongly recommended that you widen your hotel search radius and take advantage of the Metro system.
Please also note that food and drinks are not allowed to be brought into the Arena. While there is some leeway for small finger foods and mineral water, it is up to the discretion of the organizers/guards (i.e. if the venue ends up being a mess on day 1, they might enforce a stricter ban day 2 onwards. Keep the venue clean everyone!). Things like a Mcdonalds takeout bag are definitely not allowed. Food and drinks are available for sale inside the Arena, but at a hefty premium compared to standard local retail prices. For reference, a bottle of water sold inside would be about 15-18 rmb (2.50 USD), a grilled sausage is 10rmb (1.50 USD) etc.
4. Hotels/Accommodation In a city of 24 million, hotels are aplenty around Shanghai, with options available across all prices. As a reminder, your passport is mandatory for checking into any public accommodation in Shanghai, be it hotels or AirBnB. Also, while AirBnB is rising in Shanghai, unless you have a local friend helping you out, you may encounter communication issues with due processes during your stay, hence I would recommend sticking to hotels where formality is assured. [Edit] I've been informed that due to the new recycling laws enacted in July, budget and mid-range hotels no longer provide bathroom amenities by default, but are available on request. Please remember to ask for them before flaming them!
[Location Selection] The main priority you would have when choosing a hotel for the TI event would be the ease of commute to the venue. It is highly recommended that you search for a hotel that is close to a Metro line. To recap for those who skipped straight to this section, it is due to these main reasons:
The Arena is located in a special use district, with no hotels in the immediate vicinity
The closest hotels are approximately 1km away, and higher grade hotels even further.
With almost 18,000 spectators leaving the venue at the close of each day, you’ll face massive wait times for Uber. Public Transportation is your best bet. Check the transportation section for guidelines on how to access and navigate the metro.
The Arena’s station lies on Line 8 (blue line), which runs vertically through the city. You can reduce the hassle of changing lines by selecting accommodation solely along this metro line, but it would limit your options. I recommend that you use the map view when booking your hotels on your booking site of choice and try to find hotels within walking distance of a metro station (which honestly isn't hard because of the extensive metro coverage - see transportation section). The main locations where hotel prices are higher would be in the strip stretching from People’s Square to LuJiaZui (highlighted in yellow in the above link), due to their premium location in the heart of Shanghai’s iconic tourist hotspots. Beyond these areas, hotel prices are generally fairly uniform across the city.
[Hotel Grades & Chains] i.Budget hotels (USD 35-70) While there are even cheaper options, I would not recommend them as they run the risk of being sketchy motels or hostels with nothing but a bed. Most of them likely won’t have English-speaking staff either, and honestly you likely won’t find them on international booking sites, so don’t worry. There are a few budget hotel chains in Shanghai, such as HANTING and JINJIANG. These are typical budget hotels offering a simple room with standard utilities and daily room service, but likely do not include breakfast nor any sort of catering service (they might on the upper price end). Note that even within the same hotel chain, the quality of the hotel may vary significantly, so keep an eye on the photos when booking. In some low-budget cases, the room might not have an exterior window, but gaming addicts don’t need sunlight anyway.
ii.Midrange Hotels (USD 70-120) This is where you’ll find some international brands like Holiday Inn. These hotels are generally 3-4 star caliber, and would match international standards in terms of room quality. Typical hotels, not much to comment about them.
iii.Luxury Hotels (USD 120+) As a cosmopolitan city, Shanghai sports luxury hotels from all international hotel chains, such as Mariott, Ascott, Intercontinental etc. Beyond the luxuries these hotels offer, they are usually situated in shopping hubs or tourist hotspots, and you can be assured that they would have staff proficient in English. A personal recommendation I would make is the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, which is absolutely stunning and located right next to Metro line 7, taking a mere 25 minutes to arrive at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
If you have any queries or questions about the hotel you’re booking, feel free to ask on Discord where Shanghai locals (myself included) will be able to answer you.
5.VPN and Data Plans Due to censorship laws and the Great Firewall of China, many commonly used social media platforms and search engines are blocked and/or throttled in China. Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube are all completely blocked. Google translate and maps are usable (via its Chinese platform translate.google.cn and maps.google.cn), Whatsapp is kinda-sorta banned but messages do go through occasionally (pictures and media definitely can’t). Reddit’s in the same boat, it’s banned but… sometimes it’s not? Anyway, bottomline is, if you want to access the internet as you do back home, there are two options:
Your home country’s local carrier has global roaming, and you’re fine with coughing up the dough for usage abroad. Check with your service provider to see if this is available. If you’re visiting for a short duration (i.e. main event only), this would be a good choice and price would vary based on your mobile plan. Because you’re using the network provided by your own country’s carrier, the global roaming is NOT subject to the firewall and you’d retain full access to the internet, which saves a lot of hassle.
If you use a network in China, such as connecting to local wifi/using a local sim card you purchased, you will have to utilize a VPN to access the blocked content. Contrary to popular belief, VPNs are NOT illegal to use in China. (What is illegal is if you sell a VPN service as a corporate entity without approval granted by the authorities). There are tons of VPNs available on the market, however the GFW is no slouch and do periodic banwaves that kills of a bunch every now and then. Make sure you do careful research on which ones are reliably usable before purchasing; the free ones tend to be either shady (data selling) or unreliable (unusable/poor connection). If you use a VPN service, make sure to install and ensure that it is working first before arriving in Shanghai, as those service providers’ websites might be blocked.
Protip: If you’re a University student, look up your university’s tech resources to see if they have a uni-access VPN for students abroad, particularly if your university has a strong Asian demographic. Given the large number of Chinese students abroad and the endemic problem of being unable to access University resources whilst on holidays back home, many Unis have set up official VPNs for use by their Chinese students, which you can make use of in this instance. Most US/CA/UK/AU institutions have this function and you can look it up.
6. Apps to prepare
Google Translate: Your best buddy if mandarin is basically moonrunes for you. Helps with basic communication which should cover most things you’ll encounter on your trip.
Pleco: Your second best buddy to help with communication, comes with voice functions, optical character recognition functions (when you see a signboard and have no clue what it means and you can’t type it out either), handwriting input (you can draw moonrunes into it) and many other functions that helps you overcome the language barrier
Didi: Basically Chinese Uber. Allows foreign credit card payment so one of the rare few apps that foreigners can work with. Visa/Mastercard/UnionPay only, not sure about AMEX.
Wechat: Chinese Whatsapp and Facebook rolled into one, you should set it up beforehand. This is THE most used app in China, just about everyone uses it and it is an essential means of communication. If you meet anyone you want to stay in touch with, add them through Wechat and you’re good to go. Perhaps someday you might even discover the fabled meme trove of China that is Wechat Stickers…
7.Money This warrants a special section because Shanghai has a unique case of being an essentially “Cashless” city. E-commerce is the predominant form of transaction in Shanghai, with virtually everyone making payments and transfers via wallet apps such as Alipay and Wechat. This has resulted in much lower amounts of circulated cash, and oftentimes small retails and cabbies may not hold enough spare change since barely anyone uses cash these days. While highly convenient, this becomes a challenge for foreign visitors as the process for linking the wallet app to a credit card requires verification from a local bank. There are a few ways one can make payments in China:
Domestic payment platforms such as Wechat/Alipay, if you are able to complete the verification process. This may be possible for some SEA nations with banks that are partnered with Unionpay.
Some international payment platforms such as ApplePay, SamsungPay are also accepted at larger chains (Starbucks, Mcdonalds etc)
Credit Cards are accepted at most large retail outlets, stores and restaurants, but some cards may not be accepted (Visa/Mastercard/Unionpay are fine)
Cash – ATM’s around the city do cater to foreign cards but there are transaction costs and withdrawal limits, I believe it’s around 2000 RMB per transaction (300USD) for foreign cards.
See also the section on transportation below for further information regarding travel payments.
Arrival in Shanghai
Once you have made the necessary preparations for your trip to Shanghai, next comes the part where you plan what to do while you’re here.
1.Airport Services There are a few things to take note of when you arrive at the Shanghai Airport. Security is pretty standard per international standards, and you won’t be subjected to TSA-style unsolicited colonoscopies. You may be requested to open your bags for a brief inspection, so please do not attempt to smuggle contraband (see section on China Law). If the border officer asks the purpose of your visit and doesn’t understand e-sports, just tell them you’re here to attend an exhibition. PSA due to recent bs on worldnews: No, you will NOT be asked to hand over your phone or electronic devices. No, you will not have any bullshit spyware forcibly installed on your phones, apple/google already did that for you. No, security doesn’t give a shit if you have porn on your devices. These measures are only applied to specific border crossings in one specific part of western China that is prone to conflict, and do not apply to 99% of China’s ports. Once you leave the gates, there might be a swathe of tourist peddlers asking if you need a cab, do make sure to ignore them and just follow the signs to the public transport facilities. The information desks at the airport all have English assistance so you can look to them for help. There are 3 main transportation options from Pudong Airport to the city – Cabs, Metro and the Maglev, as follows: 1. Cabs/Uber: The fare from Pudong Airport to the venue is approximately 150RMB (22USD), subject to variation based on time (night rate, peak hour jams etc). Depending on where your hotel is, you can approximate what your fare would likely be. I recommend that you print out the hotel address (In Chinese characters) for easy navigation with the driver. 2. Metro: Metro lines are available in both HongQiao and Pudong Airports, and easily accessed after exiting the gates. This is by far the cheapest option, costing a mere 3 – 5 RMB a trip (45-75 cents), though you will likely be facing a rather packed train. If you’re looking to minimize costs or if your hotel is near a metro line, this is the recommended way, though you will have to navigate your way through the metro map to the right station. 3. Maglev: The Shanghai Magnetic Levitation Rail, available only in Pudong Airport, is a short-distance rail that takes you from the Airport to Longyang Station, a transport hub close to the city. Costing 40 RMB (6 USD) for a ticket, the Maglev is a state-of-the-art transport that goes up to 430+ kph, covering the 30+ km (19miles) between stations in 7 minutes (which the metro line would otherwise take 40 minutes to traverse). If this is your first time in Shanghai, I highly recommend taking it at least once for the experience, not just for the speed but also that surreal /futurology moment when the magnets hum to life and you feel the train levitating.
2.Currency Exchange Next thing you might worry about is currency exchange. In the case that you did not prepare local currency, there is a currency exchanger in the airport; however the airport rates tend to be pretty pricey. In China, currency exchange is government controlled, which means there are no private retail currency exchangers as one might find in other countries. Instead, all currency exchange are performed through the banks. The bank’s rates all uniformly follow the central bank’s rate, which is highly competitive, and in most cases the exchange rate will likely be far better than in your own countries due to regulations against banks placing a premium on currency exchange. You may have to bring your passport to prove your identity, but beyond that you won’t need to worry about any procedural obstacles. A yearly exchange cap of US$50,000 per person applies for foreign cash exchange (does not apply to credit card transactions), but I don’t think that would apply to most of us attending the event.
3.Transport A. UbeDiDi Didi, which is basically Chinese Uber, is the go-to app in Shanghai for vehicular transport. There are other alternative apps but Didi is the most integrated in terms of english availability and, more importantly, allows use of international visa/mastercard credit payment. While Didi is a very convenient mode of transport around Shanghai, do note that it may not be the best choice for the event, as you’re looking at over 15,000 people leaving the venue at the close of each day, of which a sizable portion will be hailing private fares. If you rely on Didi/Uber, you might find yourself placed 200+ in the queue with an estimated wait time of over 2 hours… which is why I recommend seeking public transport to the venue.
B. Public Transport – Metro The Shanghai Metro is the most convenient form of transport in the city. With a huge network spanning across the city, there are few places in the metropolitan area that are beyond a 15 minute walk from any given station. One of the most efficient systems in the world, the Metro runs at intervals of approximately 3 minutes, down to 30 seconds during peak hours (commuters wanted more but safety concerns limited the frequency), so you don’t have to worry about missing one. Most lines operate between 5am to 11pm, with Line 2 (which connects to the airports/railway stations) running as late as 1.30am. During the late hours though, taxis/didi would be your only option.
All stations have signs in both English and Mandarin so you shouldn’t have many issues navigating your way around, though you should take note of which exit you want to take as some major stations can have over 20 exits and span a long distance. The metro can be really packed during peak hours – while not at Japan levels of sardine packing, you may find yourself queueing and missing a few trains before being able to board one yourself. Peak hours is usually 8am-9:30am and 5pm-6:30pm.
To use the Metro, you will need to purchase a Public Transport Card which looks like THIS. The card can be purchased at any metro station including the airport and costs 20 RMB (3 USD) that can be refunded upon return. You can then top up the card with whatever value needed. Do note that the Public Transport Card is usable across all official public transport (Metro, Buses, Official Taxis, Maglev) which makes it particularly convenient as you won’t have to worry about spare change, you can pay by just scanning the card, so keep that in mind when topping it. When refunding the card at the station upon leaving the country, do note that there will be a 5% surcharge on refunds above 10 RMB when returning the card.
C. Public Transport – Taxi There are a few different taxi companies in Shanghai, but the main reputable ones are 大众 (Cyan colour), 强生(Yellow or Red colour). The main taxi companies are affiliated with the Department of Transportation, allowing them to accept payment via the public transport card as described above. It is highly recommended to obtain a card for this purpose as many Taxi drivers might not keep much spare change for cash transactions, given the cashless city phenomenon. You can also book a taxi directly using Didi, which may sometimes be faster than finding a dedicated driver.
Change Taxi's if the taxi does not have a meter or if the driver asks to keep the fare off-meter. Do note however that it is customary for the driver to not activate the meter immediately out of courtesy to the passenger – they usually activate it after driving a few meters or after completing a u-turn, so don’t be alarmed. You shouldn't have to bargain for your fare, and never pay up-front. Some drivers may prefer not to pick up foreigners due to bad experiences with past passengers (drunken fare-skipper incidents etc) and many cabs are pre-booked via booking apps, so don’t be surprised when an empty cab appears to ignore you.
Unfortunately, most taxi drivers will not understand the slightest bit of English, so if you don't speak Mandarin, it's very useful to have a 'taxi card'. Most hotels will provide you with one, which contains the hotel's address for your return trip. It's best to keep small bills or change for taxi's, as taxi drivers won't usually have change. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, nor will they ask for one, but they do appreciate if you round up the bill / forego the change.
D. Relevant Traffic laws and customs: Shanghai is notorious for its cutthroat driving etiquette where many drivers don’t use blinkers and the right of way goes to whoever gives less fucks. While the traffic culture has improved over the years with increased traffic police oversight, there are still many things that may take visitors for a surprise. If in doubt, stick to a crowd and you’ll be fine. First off is the right-turn rule in China, where cars can do a right turn (small turn) on a red light. So if you’re at a traffic junction, don’t assume safety of passage once the pedestrian light turns green, take note of your surroundings for ignorant drivers to ensure it is safe to cross. Alternatively, stick to a crowd and you’ll be fine. Secondly, there are a lot of cyclists/scooterists in Shanghai, and they have a tendency to think themselves above traffic laws with their maneuverability. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a close shave with some asshole on a scooter blatantly ignoring a red light. There are bicycle lanes on most roads around Shanghai, so keep an eye out there when crossing roads, or just stick to a crowd and you’ll be fine.
4.Food Being a cosmopolitan city, Shanghai caters to all sorts of tastes and preferences when it comes to food. Local signature dishes include steamed soup dumplings, pan-fried buns, soysauce braised pork, baked sweet potato, drunken chicken and many others, while also sporting some of the best hotpots around. There are also innumerable restaurants serving foreign cuisines, ranging from Japanese, Korean, Western, Indian and various Southeast Asian cultures. There are restaurants that cater to vegetarians and halal requirements, and if all else fail, we have the bastions of American nutrition, McDonalds/KFC/Burger King.
[Food Hygiene and Sanitation] One might be understandably concerned about the sanitary conditions of food in China. Shanghai’s town council has aggressively tightened hygiene regulations over the past years, particularly after major food scandals which pretty much killed the street food business due to public fear (unethical assholes ruining things for everyone as usual). While there are definitely seedy places out there with questionable sanitation, you would be perfectly safe sticking to larger establishments. As a rule of thumb, find places with a decent crowd and you’re good to go. Largefancier restaurants are very safe as they do have a reputation to maintain, and most expat/tourist areas are closely vetted; generally if the restaurant has a budget for English menus it’s pretty safe.
[Water] Tap water in Shanghai needs to be boiled before consumption. Your hotel should have complementary drinks (you can always ring the reception for more, though budget/midrange hotels might limit it at two per day) and there is no shortage of convenience stores across the city where you can purchase drinks.
[Exotic Foods] Shanghai’s on the moderate end of the scale when it comes to exotic foods, so you won’t be finding some of the more extreme foodstuffs that shows up on fear factor. If you’re feeling adventurous during your stay however, you can try some of the local delicacies which oftentimes involve parts considered unusual in western culinary cultures. Braised chicken feet (called Phoenix Claws) is a hugely popular dish, along with pork liver, blood pudding, pork ears, ox tail soup and many more. China has a rich culinary culture with many recipes passed down over innumerable generations, and many dishes have some sort of background story behind them.
[Tipping] Some restaurants refuse tips, mostly because they’re unused to it and are accustomed to fully returning your change. However, tipping is becoming more common in the city, but mainly in high-end restaurants where a 10-15% service charge may be added to the bill. Elsewhere it is not expected.
[Misc] While food in Shanghai’s metropolitan area is quite clean by international standards, it is recommended that visitors bring some diarrhea medication along just in case of upset stomachs. For allergies, there are over-the-counter medications available in local pharmacies, but anything with adrenalin or corticosteroid (epipens etc) will require a doctor’s prescription at the hospital. (See section on Medical Services) For street food/small eateries, unless you have a Chinese E-wallet app, you will likely have to use cash payments as vendors may not have SWIFT payment available, so keep some loose change on you.
5.Alcoholic Beverages The legal drinking age in China is 18, and the Chinese are no strangers to the world’s favorite poison. Most restaurants serve beers which tend to be local brews like Tsingtao pale lager, priced around USD$1.5-3 a bottle. If you prefer western drinks, there are also several western bars in Shanghai, usually clustered around expat areas. A quick google search of shanghai bars will give you a rough idea of where they are, these places tend to be streetfront and very popular so you don’t have to worry about seedy joints. Keep in mind though that imported drinks will have a hefty premium tagged on them if you’re buying from a bar, so don’t expect cheap prices in this regard.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the local Baijiu (White Wine or Chinese Vodka), which is a spirit typically around 52% alcohol content (though some brands go as low as 38 and as high as 64). Keep in mind that Baijiu has a different “role” compared to western liquor - despite also being served in small glasses (about half a standard shot), it is usually consumed during a meal, as a complement to your course rather than a standalone beverage, though it also can be consumed that way.
Buyers beware, however, as Baijiu comes in many different varieties and grades, ranging from thousands of dollars a bottle to 4 dollars for a 5 Litre drum. Just like how vodka’s cheaper than water in Russia, some of the lower end brands are ridiculously cheap. However you get what you pay for, and I honestly cannot recommend the cheap brands in good faith, as they’re considered “fake wine” by locals (just a shitty alcohol mix, not a savory brew), so unless you’re really motivated to abuse your body and taste buds, I’d advise to stick to the more mainstream brands recommended by your Chinese peers or stores. For reference, a decent bottle would typically have a retail price of around 400+ RMB (60+USD), with more popular brands going past 800 RMB (120USD).
6.Sightseeing Shanghai, being a highly developed city, has a skyline predominantly filled with skyscrapers and vast expanses of concrete jungle, so sightseeing here is a pretty similar experience to say, New York City. I’ll briefly list a few popular tourist hotspots here – there are already many tourist guides out there for Shanghai that gives you a wealth of information, so I’ll keep this section simple.
The Bund - Pretty much the iconic heart of Shanghai, a must-see.
Lu Jia Zui/Oriental pearl Tower – The financial center on the opposite coast of the Bund, with most of Shanghai’s iconic skyscrapers and buildings.
Nanjing Road – The quintessential shopping avenue, stretching from the Bund to People’s Square (Note: You can directly take the metro from the Mercedez Benz Arena to People’s Square, then tour via People’s Square – Nanjing Road – The Bund. It’s a easily navigated path following one main road, and particularly beautiful at night. Highly recommended.)
Yu Garden – Classical Chinese Garden and tourist hotspot
Shanghai Museum / Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
Shanghai Wild Animal Zoo – I highly recommend a visit if you can spare the time, as they feature a safari-like experience where you travel in a bus directly through an open pasture where tigers roam freely. Oh and you can purchase a live chicken to feed the tigers with.
Zhujiajiao* – A classical old Chinese town with traditional Dynasty-era architecture. A fair distance away from the city center but worth a visit.
SheShan* – A thematic tourist area with a huge park, golf courses, and the recently opened Intercontinental Wonderland Hotel – the hotel that is built within an abandoned quarry, featuring a unique “pit” environment as well as underwater rooms. Highly recommended for Underlord spammers.
*: As these places are fairly far from the city center, it is recommended that you seek a tour guide or tour group when visiting, if only to help with communication and navigation.
7.Chinese Law This is probably the section that will attract the most memetic responses so I’ll keep it straight and simple – please be a responsible adult, as you would be when visiting ANY country. You’re here to attend an Esports event and have a good time watching some top-notch dota with the rest of the world. This enjoyment is similarly shared by everyone in the stadium regardless of race, country or culture. Everyone is here to celebrate something we all enjoy in equal measure, so please don’t let any political or cultural disagreements get in the way, because it doesn’t belong here. That being said, there are certain laws that a visitor should keep in mind:
1. Drugs & Contraband All narcotic substances are a BIG no-no here in China, and this includes marijuana. China has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs after being subjected to massive narco-terrorism campaigns by colonial powers, which inflicted grievous damage to the nation and resulted in deep social and cultural enmity towards substance abuse. Please do not attempt to bring any narcotics into the country, even if they are legal in your home country. If caught in possession of drugs, you will be arrested on the spot, with penalties ranging from 15 days imprisonment (smoking weed) to capital punishment (trafficking heroin). This is the one line you REALLY do not want to fuck around with while in China, so don’t do it.
2. Censorship of politically sensitive topics I’ll first clarify one thing: It is NOT illegal to engage in discussions about certain politically sensitive topics in China, unlike what popular opinion on /worldnews claims. However, broadcasting it would put you at risk of getting in trouble with authorities (looking at you edgelords who wants to put dumb political discourse on camera at a Dota event), as it can be considered public disruption or even instigating public unrest, which may get you detained for a couple days while your embassy sorts you out. If you are particularly concerned about this for some reason, the below links provides a pretty good picture of what you can expect when discussing sensitive topics in China: Link 1Link 2
If it is your first time in Shanghai, you may well find the local populace to be very different from your preconceived notions, especially for younger generations who are generally more connected and well-informed of international news. I recommend that you keep an open mind coming into this beautiful city, and enjoy some awesome dota with the local fans.
Due to hitting the 40,000 character cap on reddit, the remaining sections are posted in the link above. Please make sure to read them as well!
Again, if you have any questions, you can ask me in this thread or via PM, or through the Shanghai TI9 Discord where several locals are available constantly to answer any queries you have. You can also find more information through a quick google or youtube search, there are many resources that explains things you might encounter on a visit to Shanghai. One thing though, don’t ever use /China as a source of info, it’s a heavily biased (if not openly racist) cesspool.
To close things off, I hope this guide would be helpful to those of you visiting Shanghai, and it wasn't too much of a bore to read. This guide ended up being far lengthier than I predicted when I started it as a voluntary work, but it'd be worth it if it can help dota fans who are coming over from all around the world enjoy TI9 just a bit more. Shoutout to David from Newbee for keeping me on track over the past weeks and Icefrog for nerfing Doom to the point that I stopped playing Dota and could actually pump this guide out. Can you unnerf him now please? P.S. If any team orgs would like assistance in setting up a social media presence in China on chinese platforms (to perhaps connect with and build up your chinese fanbase), do drop me a message via reddit DM!
Hefty Read But Insightful Success Story . Please Enjoy
Hello everyone! I am fairly new to using Reddit but after reading a couple of posts here, I thought I'd like to share my story. I'll jump all the way back to 2015 when I had my first encounter with anything and everything that talked about "manifesting". Looking back at it all, I realize that I became way too attached to the idea of my manifestations arriving. I was hyperfocused and obsessed with the idea that I could be in control of my reality. I played around with the peculiar art of subliminals and eventually developed a set of my own affirmations. I read books and threads on success with it, watched youtube videos, and even started trying to "do it (anything) myself" because I was impatient. By "do it myself" I meant that if I wanted someone removed from my life, I would drop them then and there. If I wanted something, I would either convince myself I don't want it anymore just because it wasn't physically in my grip. I had no interest in letting a better option happen. Later down the line, I realized that this COULD be one way of letting things play out but after having experienced a more natural and ideal way of receiving something, I have become more open to the natural ebb & flow. I call this year my hopeful years. Hopeful of the idea that there is a change detailed to me. In the timeframe of 2016, 2017, and 2018 I realized that everything I've manifested came to fruition, but I either never recognized them or didn't feel the way I intended on feeling. I would receive but had no gratitude. In summary, I was entitled to it. I felt like I deserved it because the universe owed me something for hardships and personal hurdles that I experienced. With my affirmations, I just kept speaking them into the void. But internally, I never felt them as mine. The whole "live as-if" wasn't being applied. This relationship with it is the equivalent of my terrible twos in which I was feeling reliant to the idea of manifesting for bettering my life, but scratching out for independence. I believed that in order to be happy, I needed this or that. I was depending on manifesting to save me from whatever figurative monster I was running from. Minor examples to these manifestations . . . In the most unpretentious way possible, I received job opportunities to work with Hollywood stars. I collected thousands of dollars through manifesting. As well-off as my family is, I envisioned them having more success, more joy, more fun. In hopes that being around them would bring palpable enlightenment. But none of these felt like I was being complete. Because I just felt like life truly sucked. Regardless of the things that came knocking on my door, I would counteract any joy with ominous thoughts. To think, after reading over and over again that it is in your cognitive artillery to replace those thoughts, I continued to resort to the negative. *EDIT* These manifestations came to me, I took them. And then walked out after feeling like I need more. Like there is still something to be gained. Something out there to be received. I essentially was happily unhappy. I would be around family members that I loved, who were being everything I wanted them to be. But I just wasn't being myself. I wasn't living in the moment. I wasn't present in all the joys and abundance happening then and there. Call it a Disney princess epidemic but I wanted so much more than was planned. Why? Because it felt comfortable. After being conditioned time and time again by my environment, acclimating to the new waters needed more than just affirmations and reading books. I required myself to truly feel like everything is being applied accordingly. As a child, I would go on endlessly being able to create and receive. With youthful innocence and genuine gratitude. I hadn't experienced wrongdoing and was bought up in a beautiful community, loving parents, and a strong support system. It isn't until we begin to have our brace with an out of order experience that sets the mind haywire. For me, that experience was a cousin who, as we got older, would tell me her misfortunate interactions with the world outside of the one in which I was in. She was a cousin in which I idolized. The cool one who wasn't just pretty and popular, but fun. I respected her on a profound level because I was told that the older you are, you become more wise, mature, and respect (terrible concept though sometimes meant with good intention). So of course, wanting to be as amazing as I had painted her out to be, I applied her outlook on life as mine. Every mishap was to blame for altering my life. I made out regular people to be envious and bitter. Not to blame my cousin for any wrongdoing to me, but because I had no idea that my own mindset was shifting piece by piece, it never occurred to me of the change in environment. It all just felt new and as if life was unveiling new colors to me. Rather than controlling my reality, I let my reality control me. It molded ME. It made ME. It hurt ME. It destroyed ME. Everything that was going wrong was being done in such a way that though I hate to admit it, I was victimizing myself. On top of the entitlement, I felt like these bad things happened because "that's just the way the world goes round". There were a few more faulty situations in which I was in, but the importance I give them is no bigger than a mere acknowledgment of my growth from them. Personal note to others! As a hopes to maybe expand the minds of a few of you, it doesn't matter if you do an "x" amount of steps in any order or style. I got everything I wanted, and the feelings weren't aligned with the experience or the experience wasn't aligned with my feelings. So unless you get into alignment (in whatever way you find that to properly apply to your own situation), there may perhaps be some hindering unfulfillment. For me, that alignment was found in Neville Goddard! So where is the success story? Well since the beginning of 2019, I made one general intention for myself. . . THE INTENTION TO BECOME BETTER. Thus far, this year has been a direct elevator to the top. In January, though it was a change that could happen without manifesting, I changed my health and lifestyle habits. Prior to this change, I had a toxic relationship with food and how I reacted to those around me. I would live like a lump feeling as if everyone was judging me. Regardless of my confidence, I was confident only as a mechanism to shut people out. I didn't want anyone close to me. But I also didn't want to be lonely. So this contradiction was the first one to go. February and March were the months in which I forgave myself. Forgiveness is a great way to open up another pathway for gratitude. I would lay down, shut my eyes, and rather than apologize, I used understanding and purgation. Almost like a factory reset. Going back to the youthfulness, innocence, gratitude, humility, and humbleness. Mind you, some of you may not want to be this type of way. None of what I have done is a requirement. These are just simple nods to the craft and feeling wholesome. In April I creatively started re-implementing my own personal traits and habits. But this time, with a different mindset ad end-goal. I was manifesting with the intention of experience. Everything became an experience to me. Moreover, I began experiencing myself. I lived in the end. But I also enjoyed the present. I learned about time being a concept (this is another "pick and choose" idea that may or may not be useful for you). So everything is just "is". I would remind myself that as-if becomes as-is; because AS-IS is to I AM as WILL BE is to AS-IF. With time being irrelevant to myself. . . the past, present, and future are all the same. If not today, when? Applying the change (be it attitude, mindset, habits, etc) should be a definite change in the timeline. I was also spontaneously offered the ability to travel to another city for a little while. The reason I bring this up is that this opportunity was the next step on the bridge of incidences. I was around people in which I wanted to have a change of relationship. But before I could change my relationship with them, I realized I needed to change myself. Going out of my environment into a new one was the perfect way (for me) to implement that change so I may come back better and dare I say, enhanced (?). May was the month in which I found Neville Goddard. At first, I came across him through a lady named Amy from a youtube channel "Illuminating Joy". I would hear his name pop up every so often. These months, I started small manifestations here and there. I loved watching her videos. Not because I idolized her, I mean, yes her videos were paced at a way I enjoyed, but because I understood the content. I was able to really grasp the information. I gravitated towards her because it felt natural. In my previous "life" of feeling artificial, her explanation felt like a breath of fresh air. As if I was grasping on organic, free-range information. Then Joseph Alai popped into the picture. He mentions Neville quite a bit and I decided to figure out who this Goddard man is. The month of June is my manifesting in full effect. Though I didn't manifest a journal, I received one. I'd like to think this was another step on the bridge of incidences to the intention of becoming better. Just a simple coiled notebook that was the perfect size for writing on. The "how" of receiving it was no special either. But when I apply feelings to it, it made receiving the notebook much more delightful. So, I'm in a new environment with a pencil and a notebook. That sentence alone sounds as if I am powerless. But things only have power as much as you give it. So you bet your bottom dollar that I gave myself, the notebook, and pencil plenty of "power". In my daily section, I would write "I am grateful" followed
For . . . (something that moves me forward. the motivating drive for the day/week/month/year)
To . . . (often used as a continuation from "for" but also used as an expansion for changes and rewards)
Now that . . . (typically a new experience or a new revelation)
In the journal, I had a segment that was "I would like . . . " which then turned into "My order is . . ." and as of right now, it is called "Today I receive. . . " After a while of reading and watching other expansive takes on manifestation, my wording was changed to apply to me of that moment. In what I felt most comfortable and natural in. "Today I recieve" is now my current statement for the segment in the journal. In general, I fill it with about 6 intentions for the day. From time to time, I write out "a pleasant surprise" and let the day unfold itself by not writing anything else. It gives fun & challenging sense of mystery. The "My order is. . ." is out of a little idea that I had while sitting in the backyard. Major breakthrough. The epiphanic moment of seeing gratitude as an exchange for manifestation. To see myself making an order (to the Restaurant de Manifestation) and using my appreciation as currency. I feel good when I am thankful. So that has personally helped me quite a bit. If I learn new tips and tricks to manifesting, I write them out. Not just by writing them out, but also using them one or two times to see whether I like the application they bring to my array of abilities. Rather than hoard a bunch of information, rendering them useless, I started making use. Not necessarily implementing them as a staple to my success but giving them a try before releasing them back and deciding whether it is or isn't for me. I will mention that I did have a little drop. When I was in the mindset to manifest money (as opposed to experiences), I was given a $800 a day commercial deal to film for 2 days. That day, I manifested $500. But because of my initial reaction (my internal conversation with myself), the opportunity slipped away. I realized that I limited out and began to weigh in on whether or not I should do the commercial. Things like "do I want to be in this commercial" or "do I look good right now to be in a commercial" popped up. So these internal thoughts started to clash. Because it wasn't the way I expected. So now expectations of mine of thought of with a grain of salt. Before I give into a thought, I analyze it. After a while of doing it, it usually happens at a quicker pace. But for me, it did take a bit of sitting myself down in the beginning. And when I do have certain thoughts that are not in alignment, I catch myself and rewrite them. For that day of the commercial opportunity, (even though it slipped from me) when I went home I decided to feel better about my appearance, the opportunities coming to me, to approach everything with grace. What usually bores me is when people say they manifested a cup of coffee and leave it at that. So in hopes of entertaining the audience who will read this, I'll list examples in which are written from my journal straight into existence. (no rewriting or revising having been done or needed for these situations).
June 11, 2019 | "To Explore the World" - I actually traveled to this place before when I was a kid. But what makes this story much more thrilling was a new experience. So, I ended up going to San Diego with a relative of mine. They covered all the costs. To get there, we took a train. This was actually my first Train ride in an Amtrack train. I practically got a hotel room for myself. They would be working in the day at the office and just sleeping in the hotel at night. So I had privacy and time alone. They gave me money to explore every day. On the first day I walked around. The second day I went to their farmers market. The third day I ended up meeting some really nice people who lived in San Diego. A vague story but it was very fun and exciting. So with the timeframe that I was there, I had a whole vacation with fully covered expenses. In a spontaneous moment. A bridge of incidences appeared. It just so happened my relative thought it would be nice to bring me along with them while on their work trip. Something in their mind thought it would be great to explore San Diego on my own. It was absolutely perfect.
June 25, 2019 | "New Podcast Subscribers" - As 2019 as this sounds, I explored a creative endeavor through podcasting on a niche topic. It's another hobby turned to income-producing story. My podcast utilizes various elements in which are financially enhancing, so having a podcast established is another great form of financial supplement for myself. As a creative person by nature, I typically freelance a bit of my work. But have always had a pursuit in the entrepreneurial profession. Rather than new podcast subscribers coming from nowhere, I actually invited people to listen and give feedback. I changed my expectance of bad feedback into good news. I received a great turnout of success. Reminder, this didn't mean I wanted money from making this podcast. Because then it would turn it into a "how". I manifested the experience of a nice community for the podcast. I outlined my personal purpose for the podcast (which was self-fulfilling) and set an intention on what I'd like to experience. This manifestation happened on the same day.
June 28, 2019 | "Pad Thai" - This one took quite some time. I was craving food and yea, I could go out an buy myself some food, but in the process of baby steps, I used the Pad Thai as a step. This is my free coffee equivalent. My mouth was salivating for it since I was working that day and It felt like an eternity. Two days passed and all I could think about was the Pad Thai. I decided to "release" and soon enough, the people I was hanging out with offered me Pad Thai. It's funny because who would've thought that food would help teach me the art of releasing. Or at least, understanding the concept of releasing. Everyone releases/detaches differently but for me, It was repicturing what I had and feeling like I ate it. After envisioning it, I walked away feeling like the craving was satisfied. So I supposed this gave me a hands-on experience with the live as-if/as-is concept as well.
July 6, 2019 | Well, this is actually one of the early days that everything fell into line. Everything happened on that day. Previously, I would get one or two manifestations and the rest would come the next day. But this time around, everything came to fruition. I manifested . . .
Friendship and fun
A new experience
A free gift
A Starbucks drink
. . . On that day, I spent it with a few people who I am close with. Actually, I even received a manifestation that I envisioned a month before. The morning was great! I set my intentions in the journal and had a great thought to let go of my need to have more. So I wrote that down as well. A guest came over and we ended up going out for some frozen treats (froyo, ice cream, Starbucks). They treated me to it for helping them out. However, I didn't ask nor did I tell anyone of my desires. Throughout the day, I felt like I was getting closer to everyone. Typically, these people could be described as hermits who are just flat out angry. Nor did I realize I would be spending my time with them for a long period of time. But on that day, we were laughing and having so much fun! Though I won't detail the entire day, I will mention that the manifestation that was made a month before was a night of karaoke with my favorite people. In the evening, I had more surprising guests who came over and wanted to sing and hang out. It was a very pleasurable day!
Undated | "Kind and Friendly Interactions" - On the days that I use this, I interact/ed with familiar faces and strangers alike through "kind and friendly interactions". A great example of this is when I went out for the day to run errands. Rather than spiral off into the idea that no one will be nice. I decided to give everyone a chance. Forgiving anyone who may provide an inconvenience (slow driver, rude cashier, etc) if they were to appear before I even met them. Before I went out the door, I told myself that I want to be kind and friendly. Through that, I will receive kind and friendly interactions. The cashiers were nice, strangers were smiling, people were kind, but most importantly I was/am in alignment. . . Many of my daily manifestations are similar to this kind. (i.e. To channel success. Random surprises. Peace. Tranquility. Positivity. Etc.) I throw in a few of these alongside the more specific goal-oriented ones.
There is a schedule I use for fun. Schedules aren't usually my go-to thing, but for manifesting as a lifestyle, I found that writing in my journal is an entertaining way to keep a balance between control and spontaneity. I write in my journal daily. Once in the morning & once in the evening. The morning is for setting the tone of the day & gratitude. The evening is for reflecting, appreciating, and sometimes rewriting/revisioning. On Sunday's I write a general idea for my week on what I'd like. On the first day of the month, I have a list of things I'd like to experience, accomplish, receive, and get done. There are many more personal manifestation successes of mine that have been kept private due to personal reasons, but I would like to mention that I too have experienced an immense amount of abundance & prosperity (throughout all areas of life) through manifestation. July came and I was brought aware of rewriting the past, present, and future. You see, after writing the previous paragraphs about the previous years, they no longer apply to me. Not because I am in denial, but because I have come to terms with a new past. A new present. A new future. My timeline is mine to remember. My memories are mine to hold. After being away for quite some time, I returned back to the previous environment as a changed individual. Everything wasn't great at first. I had a few quarrels with people. Late in July, I started reading the actual work of Neville Goddard. Learning about him and his teachings first hand. Hence my interaction with this thread! I love reading success stories and even tips and tricks. I find the community to be very beautiful and informative. The best tip I could offer to someone is having a good relationship with yourself. Then good relationships will bloom with others. Self-care, affirmations, and envisioning/imagining are superb for building a good relationship with yourself. Another is to enhance your education and expand your boundaries or understanding of others or possible beliefs that you'd like to have. For those who are new to the Neville Goddard thread looking for other people to inspire your own success story, read his stuff. Not just the things or stories of the success that has worked for other people. Start applying tips and tricks. Most importantly, start feeling. August is here and I wanted to share these successes out of wholesome intention. To perhaps enlighten my readers and inspire them to continue onward with a new perspective to keep in mind (?). When certain things don't go as planned, albeit they usually do, I remind myself to remove any instant reaction to the situation. If I did act out or react in a way undesirable, I reflect and rewrite. But I do it mindfully. Learning from my mistakes. If there is a problem. Find the solution. You can do two things with that solution, actively apply it. Or let it drift off and let it be powerless. The world is a buffet of ideas, and it is up to you to choose them. Or perhaps you decide that you want a formal dinner with a 5-course meal already planned, that is fine as well. In this weird grey-area, I find that my conscious choices may not match up with other's personal beliefs but that is why we have a CHOICE. A choice to entertain any thought, idea, style, etc. as we please. My own personal beliefs of "the world I see may not be the world you see" has become challenged. I know many of you are interested in the idea of manifesting others and few may fear of whether or not you are controlling them. I could go on and on about this topic but shifting realities, cognitive control, and free-will are all apart of that buffet metaphor. You pick and choose. Actually, though I'm still learning about it, I have become very intrigued with "everyone is you pushed out". I am still reading, listening, and learning Neville's teachings but I thought I'd share my interaction with manifesting as a whole. You know the funny thing is, I used manifesting a hummingbird as one of my baby steps to getting comfortable with manifesting, and then in my journal a few days ago, I decided it was time I met another one of my hummingbird friends. Well, I would occasionally check in with this thread and found someone else has manifested a hummingbird of their own. Being in the desert at the moment, seeing a hummingbird on a normal day is rather unusual. But after reading the post of that user, I found it to be a pleasant little nod. Before I went to the desert, I was in a coastal town in southern California and would see hummingbirds as often as I intended. I would love to interact with many people. If you have any questions or even personal journey stories that are similar, I'd love to hear them. I bid farewell to the thread for now. I'll probably check in on it later today. But for everyone, I wish you all an amazing experience with manifesting. May you all receive a kind compliment today and one of those free coffees haha. Ciao, TippyTippyToes
Long Walk Hurdle Betting. Rest assured that, with this race being one of the most important on the National Hunt schedule, we should have plenty of Long Walk Hurdle offers being thrown at us by bookmakers nearer race time.. The usual Best Odds Guaranteed and Non-Runner No Bet deals will be in force when prices are published, but keep an eye out simply for the best value. Ben Fearnley previews Saturday's Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot and recommends an ante-post bet. Plenty of British and Irish-trained staying hurdlers have made the trip over the channel in recent years in attempt to plunder the some of the valuable top-level prizes on offer in France. The Long Walk Hurdle is also known as the JLT Hurdle. Run over 3m it is a huge test of stamina. The last 2 winners of the race reappear for this years lineup. Harry Fry appears to have Uknowwhatimeanharry back approaching some kind of form. I would still question whether he is anywhere near the kind of […] Long Walk Hurdle Betting Tips. Ascot, 14:25, Saturday 21st December 2019. Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made. Long Walk Hurdle Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds, Ascot, 21st December 2019. Read on for the best betting offers and promotions, odds and tips for the Long Walk Hurdle, brought to us from Ascot.. Ascot hosts this Saturday’s Long Walk Hurdle, a Grade 1 race open to horses over the age of four.
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