In Which Mackenzie Does Not Have A Wet Dream

The transition from doing the awkward conversation two-step to the semi-horizontal mambo was always a rocky one, but fortunately Ian and I were experienced in navigating it. There were no fireballs that night, just a long, simmering slow burn.

I didn’t mind. Sex was only disappointing if you were disappointed by it, after all. Asking for sex to be satisfying wasn’t too much, but expecting great big explosions of pleasure all the time, every time, was a bit unrealistic. We did have the whole weekend ahead of us, and the semester after that, and anything up to and including a lifetime after that.

Satisfaction we had, and afterwards we collapsed into sleep, curled up together in the middle of the roomy bed that Amaranth had smuggled into our dorm. It was a deep sleep, and it probably would have qualified as restful… but the dream that I had was anything but.

In the dream, I found myself standing on a little overhang jutting out over a creek bed. The creek was just a trickle of water at the bottom of a deep channel. It had evidently been a dry season, or possibly even a dry year… at the moment, you could have spread a picnic blanket out on either side of the water. The trees on the other side of the ditch certainly looked parched and dry.

I recognized the landscape, in a certain sense. It could have been somewhere in the backwoods near my childhood home. It wasn’t… or at least, it didn’t stand out as any real spot I’d ever visited in particular.

There was a vivid, hyper-real quality to it all that I definitely recognized… I’d trained myself to recognize dreams like this, and to wake myself up at the first sign of them. The odd sense of familiarity I had for the setting had slowed me down, but it was definitely time for me to leave.

“Hold on a moment, girl… don’t you go rushing off just yet.”

The voice came from just behind me. I was more in control in my dreams than I was in real life, or else I would probably have been startled enough to fall off the overhang to the bottom of the creek bed, about ten or so feet below.

I was pretty sure he’d set things up that way on purpose, and proud that I hadn’t given him the satisfaction. I turned to face him, but instead of picking up my feet and doing so, I just envisioned myself facing the other way. I didn’t actually see the world apparently revolving. The world of the dream just resolved itself so that I was facing the man I knew as my father… and about a foot and a half farther away from the ledge than I had been.

He was standing with one leg up on a felled tree a few yards away. The trees here were pretty thin. Dead branches and even fallen trunks littered the ground. If this represented a real place, it was parched.

He let out a low whistle.

“Impressive,” he said.

I ignored the compliment.

“So, I’m supposed to stop and chat just because you asked me to stop?” I said.

“Well, it’s working out that way so far,” he said. “And yes, you can fix that in a moment… but it doesn’t really matter which moment, does it? I mean, if you decide to wait a minute or two before you rouse yourself, that won’t stop you from waking up later.”

It was an old argument, an old tactic… it sounded so reasonable. There was nothing about it that wasn’t true. It was still a trap, though.

“Come on,” he said. “What’s the point of having a choice if you keep choosing the same thing every time?”

“What’s the point of having a choice if I let other people second-guess my decision?” I asked.

“Always running away isn’t freedom,” he said. “It’s just another form of prison.”

“So I’m supposed to do what you want this one time to prove that I’m really doing what I want the other times?” I said.

“Do what you want,” he said. “But doesn’t it make sense to check in every once in a while and make sure that what you want hasn’t changed? Make an informed decision. You believe I have an agenda that doesn’t involve your best interests. You don’t trust me. That’s fine. I wouldn’t want you to. But you don’t have to trust a person to make use of them, do you?”

“I don’t ‘make use’ of people,” I said. “And I don’t want anything from you.”

“All I ask is five minutes,” he said.

“You have until I decide to leave,” I said.

“That’s fine, keep things flexible… you probably won’t be in such a hurry to shut me out when you realize I just wanted to talk to you about your friend with the horns.”

“She’s not exactly my friend.”

“That’s a shame,” he said. “You could always use another friend.”

“I’m surprised you’d encourage me to hang out with a Khersian,” I said.

He gave an exaggerated shrug and sat down on the log.

“I don’t have a problem with Khersians.” he said. “Most of them have a problem with me, and I’m smart enough to not waste friendship on anyone who sees me as their enemy…”

“Present company excluded, obviously.”

“Girl, you’re family,” he said. I expect a lot of parents go through a spell where their child thinks they’re absolutely the worst person who’s ever walked the face of the world…”

“You aren’t a parent,” I said.

“Not for lack of trying… anyway, though, plenty of humans who’ve ‘lapsed’ or never had anything to do with the temples in the first place still don’t like demons. I can’t assume I’m safe when talking to a human who isn’t a Khersian, so why have a particular beef against ones who are?” he said. “I may not be a fan of that guy but I’m not too bothered about what others believe about him. Just so long as she doesn’t get any of it on you… she doesn’t seem like the careless type. Open-minded, too. You could learn a lot from her.”

“I can’t imagine she’d be a big fan of you,” I said. “She might be a pretty liberal Khersian but I can’t imagine she’d like hearing you talk about ‘that guy’.”

“And why not?” the man asked. “Gods are just people. Powerful people, people not to be trifled with, but that one blew his load long ago.”

“What do you mean?”

“When’s the last time you heard about a manifestation of Khersis?”

“He did have a rather famous incarnation.”

“Of course he did… don’t think I’m playing the ‘myth’ card,” the man said. “There isn’t a demon who’ll dispute that Khersis exists or that he walked the world… but what’s he done since then? Granted most of his kind keep pretty well to themselves these days, but he does so more than most. The way I figure it, they have some serious limitations when it comes to direct intervention or manifestation. Whether it costs them something in power, or they have some sort of private agreement among themselves… otherwise we’d all be elbow-deep in divine meddling all the time, and we’d all be screwed.”

“Interesting idea,” I said. “Not exactly original… I think most theologians believe it’s basically true, though few work up the courage to ask any gods about it. But there’s also the question of inclination… plenty of gods manifest more often than others, and it seems to be as much a matter of preference as anything else. Some gods are just more active than others.”

“Right, and we have in Khersis a god who went from activist to absentee landlord in a big way,” the man said. “You ask me? He wanted to do some cosmic rearranging that he knew the others wouldn’t go for, so he pulled a fast one by incarnating as a mortal first. The fact that he’s been so quiet since then means that either he’d used up all the juice he had for a few millennia or he lost the right to get his meddle on.“

“Or maybe he’d done what he’d set out to do and pulled back to let humans stand on their own,” I said.

“Are you defending him?”

“I don’t have any reason to have anything against him,” I said.

“He cast the demons out of the world and threw us into the pit.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“Is it a good thing?” the man said. “Listen, if regularly killing humans was enough to get a race kicked out of the world, then humans themselves would be at the head of the line. Khersis didn’t target us because we’re evil, or because we feed on humans. He eliminated us because we were the biggest threat to human dominance. We were the biggest thing keeping them from swarming all over the globe like locusts. Just look at what the years since ‘Lord Khersis’ left have been like: an age of empires, with Khersian-worshipping humans at the head of them.”

“Yeah, I don’t know much about her specific beliefs, but somehow I really can’t see Twyla thinking I should have anything to do with you,” I said.

“Yeah, well… you already have something to do with me,” he said. “There’s no getting away from that, is there? And now you do have something in common with her.”

“Ifrits aren’t infernal,” I said.

“No, just… interesting,” he said.

“Yeah? What I find interesting is that I’ve known her… somewhat… for over a year, and the first time you have anything to say to me about her is the night that I find out about her ifrit parentage,” I said.  

“Why would I care about that, do you suppose?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “But it’s the thing that’s changed. You leave me alone for months…”

“Only because you made it clear I wasn’t welcome. I can take a hint.”

I didn’t press the point, because he’d missed the emphasis in my initial statement and I really didn’t want to highlight it for him, in retrospect. Twyla had been part-ifrit the whole time… that information had existed out there in the ether somewhere, and yet it was only when I found out about it that he became interested. The obvious explanation was that he hadn’t known, either.

We hadn’t exactly been talking about it within a sphere of silence at dinner, but I still doubted that the campus rumor mill was all abuzz with word of Twyla’s heritage. If he’d found out about it in the interval between the last time I was asleep and this time, it seemed most likely that he’d somehow learned about it from me.

It wouldn’t have been the first time that he picked something out of my head, but it was the first time I knew about since I’d learned a bit of mental defenses. Had my mind ever been secure against him, or had he just let me think that? Maybe he’d found a back way in, somehow… if he could just flat out read my mind, of course, he already knew that I was onto him. But acknowledging that would give it away.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked me.

Maybe it was paranoid, but the first thing I thought of after that was it would be the perfect thing to say if he was following my thoughts and wanted to convince me that he wasn’t.

“Why is it ‘interesting’ to you Twyla’s part ifrit?” I asked.

“They’re unusual in this part of the world,” he said. “A powerful, proud people, I understand… not on the best terms with humanity or the other mortal races, but not ‘fallen’ like demons. Not the ‘ancient enemy’ of humans, or of anyone humans give a damn about in particular. But the girl’s got a long row to hoe, and maybe you can help her with that. Maybe you can help each other.”

“Maybe if she lived in Maravaya where ifrits are the bad guys in stories, we’d be in the same boat,” I said. “But here? There’s no entrenched fear or hatred of ifrits. It’s all ‘genies’ to the average Magisterian. She might have to deal with assholes who think she can grant wishes, or ones who know she can’t but think it’s hilarious to hang around challenging her to do so, but that’s not really the same kind of response she’d get for being half-demon. Which a lot of people think anyway, because of the horns.”

“So maybe you’re not in such different boats after all,” the man said. “Listen, I didn’t come here tonight to pester you and I didn’t come here tonight to try to fool you into revealing something or doing my secret bidding or anything… if you go trying to guess at my agenda, you’ll probably end up avoiding that Twyla girl because you think I want you to stick by her for some sinister reason… or you’ll end up being friends with her because you think I’m trying to trick you into thinking that way because I want you to stay away. You can keep letting those kinds of thoughts chase each other around in a circle forever… believe me, your mother was like that towards the end, and you are her daughter. So instead of trying to guess at what I want so you don’t end up doing it, just think… really think… about what you want when it comes to this girl.

“Isn’t she friendly enough? Doesn’t she seem decent? Doesn’t she seem like the sort of person that other people just can’t find enough excuses to take out their own problems on?

“If all you wanted was for me to make up my mind about Twyla without giving what you wanted a second thought, all you had to do was stay out of my life,” I said.

“Well, I wanted you to think about it,” he said. “You’ve been adrift for so long that without a little nudge now and then you’re liable to just go with the flow, which in this case would be telling her what you know and wishing her well… the thing about going with the flow is that you tend to drift away from anyone who’s not making a double effort to keep up with you. That’s why the people you’re closest to are the ones who’ve grabbed hold of you the tightest.”

So it wasn’t strictly about making friends with Twyla… it was about making different friends than I had now. I could understand him preferring me in the company of a Khersian to an actual divine being… Amaranth’s holy light wasn’t exactly healthy for me, but even mild exposure to it had impeded the man’s ability to infiltrate my mind before.

But I didn’t think for a moment that this was all that was at work here… wanting to separate me from Amaranth and my support network may have been numbered among his long-term goals, but something in particular had made him act now. Knowing about her ifrit blood somehow meant that there was some use he expected that I could put Twyla to… some use he could put her to, using me. I was certain of that.

“You’ve given me some things to think about,” I said, because it seemed like the thing to say that wouldn’t provoke another argument or an interesting side discussion designed to keep me there. I closed my eyes and started to will myself awake.

There was something else, too, that was at the back of my mind… I had been keeping it there, because I didn’t know the extent of access the man had to the front of my mind. As I woke up I found it floating to the forefront of my consciousness, and it filled me with a dark and terrifying rage.

It was something he’d said:

Your mother was like that towards the end.



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67 Responses to “Chapter 42: High And Dry”

  1. Zathras IX says:

    An Age of Empires
    With Khersian-worshipping Humans
    Gaming the system

    Current score: 1
  2. nemka says:

    The Man may be an ass, but I enjoy his presence in the story. He keeps things twisty.

    Current score: 0
  3. Prospero says:

    “Girl, you’re family,” he said. (“)I expect a lot of parents go through a spell where their child thinks they’re absolutely the worst person who’s ever walked the face of the world…”

    Current score: 0
  4. anon y mouse says:

    either he’d used up all the juice he had for a few millennia or he lost the right to get his meddle on.“ – the end quote is a beginning quote; not your fault, but fixable.

    Current score: 0
  5. zeel says:

    “Your mother was like that towards the end.”

    I so wish we knew more about her. . .

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      We’ve seen her a couple of times. I do hope at some point Mack and Laurel Anne are reunited, even if it’s in the “trading correspondence” sort of way. Now that The Man has done something similar.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        Right but we still know very little about “the end” of which he speaks, I’m sure more on that will be revealed down the line sometime.

        Current score: 0
  6. Orlanth says:

    That was good. The “like your mother” really caught my attention. Interesting both that she did not and that he brought it up.

    Current score: 0
  7. Miz*G says:

    I know Mack’s not a fan of the Man… But I can’t help smiling when she starts to talk about her dreams cause I know he’s not usually far behind 😀

    Current score: 1
  8. Helen Rees says:

    What do you call it when it’s not an obvious typo, but a query about meaning? Usage alert?

    “It wouldn’t have been the first time that he picked something out of my head, but it was the first time I knew about since I’d learned a bit of mental defenses.”

    This falls awkwardly on the ear, though I’m loath to say it’s incorrect or unintended. But you wouldn’t say ‘I ate a bit of apples’, right? I think the notion being reached for is that her defenses are varied, but her learning is not complete. But still, ‘bit of apples’. Maybe it’s just me – I don’t hear anyone else complaining.

    Current score: 0
    • bangle says:

      I believe that the modifier ‘a bit’ is traditionally used with the singular rather than the plural tense, thus “a bit of mental defense” – which I must admit sounds better to my ear. However, this makes the phrasing a bit of a sticky wicket if you are right about the intended meaning (her defenses being varied, that is). I didn’t see that meaning in it until you pointed it out, so if that was the intent, I don’t know how clear it is. Then again, I don’t think I could phase it better.

      Current score: 0
    • Anachron says:

      I believe it’s a more/less vs more/fewer distinction here… more/less is for measurements without any fixed quantity, ie: more water, or less water, but water itself has no inherent unit of measure… only units we’ve given it. More/fewer are for the actual UNITS themselves… AN apple is a unit, a GRAIN of wheat, or A fish is it’s own inherent unity, but simply “fish” has no units.

      You wouldn’t say “a bit of apples” because apples, having inherent units, fall under more/fewer. You CAN have “a bit of mental defenses” because mental defenses do NOT have inherent units… they’re like water that way. You can choose to divide them any way you like, and that makes them more/less, not more/fewer.

      However many “rules” there are in English Grammar, the ONLY one that cannot be broken with impunity is the subject/verb plural agreement. And the more/fewer vs more/less “rules” tread closely on its heels, so I can see where feeling it may have been broken will throw you off in your reading… you almost HAVE to go back and check it out.

      If you ever have this problem again, just ask yourself: “Does the item in question have INHERENT units?” If it does, you can’t (per the “rules”) have “a bit of it”… but if it does not, then you’re good to take a bit and move on.

      Current score: 0
      • There is no actual less/fewer distinction, no more than there is a specific distinction between “less” and “woodpecker” or “fewer” and “purple”. “Less” and “fewer” are unrelated words that entered the language from different sources at different times, neither word was added to the language specifically to fill a niche left by the other.

        The idea that “less” cannot be used when talking about quantities of inherent units is a fallacy… its definition wholly encompasses “fewer”. The desire to set them apart as mutually exclusive alternatives to each other arises from an overzealous understanding of the lesson that “fewer” can only be used with countable quantities (this is because “few” is itself a quantity, albeit a nebulous one) or a desire that language be made neat and explicit boundaries, like a table of elemental opposites or a game of rock-scissors-paper (if any language works that way, it ain’t English.)

        Think of the two words as ladders. One is 10 feet tall, the other is 20 feet tall. Obviously you can’t use the 10 foot ladder to reach something on top of a 20 foot shelf, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the 20 foot ladder to reach something off a 10 foot shelf.

        Phrases such as “ten items or less” are consistent with how the word has been used since its earliest attestations, and help maintain consistency with other uses of “less” (as a preposition or operator, for instance, in mathematics and accounting.)

        Tl;dr – Your English teacher was lazy and lied to you.

        Current score: 0
        • Kevin Brown says:

          I believe my English teacher lied to me as well, of course I’m pretty sure that same English teacher told me that the Oxford Comma was improper grammar and should never ever one penalty of death be used.

          Current score: 0
        • Anachron says:

          Now you’d have me believe that my beloved English teacher was lazy and lied to me… well, given my understanding of the human race, I’m game.

          I still like my distinction though… it’s mine, and I’m lazy.

          Current score: 0
    • Endovior says:

      Agreed, that feels like an awkward wording. Personally, I’d replace of with about, for ‘since I’d learned a bit about mental defenses’, which seems to work better.

      Current score: 0
    • Elisa says:

      No, you’re right, it could be either “a bit of mental defense” or “some mental defenses” but the way it is now seems off.

      Current score: 0
    • magyk says:

      Would you have a problem with the phrasing “a bit of martial arts?”

      Current score: 0
  9. Anonamouse says:

    “Your mother was like that towards the end.”

    We know from the other stories that Mack’s mother is alive and the man knows it, but here he’s subtlety, oh so subtlety, setting in Mack’s head that she is for whatever reason. My guess is that the rest of the conversation was an excuse or a comparatively unimportant gamble/distraction.

    Current score: 0
    • Jinzo says:

      I belive Mack said a few times that her mother was dead, but it wasnt due to Mack herself.
      Whatever that could mean (prolly that her mother died naturally, sickness or whatnot but being halfdemon she feels she has to tell people that Mack didnt kill her mother).

      Current score: 0
      • Abeo says:

        Mackenzie believes her mother is dead. She isn’t. The Man knows she isn’t. He’s being a dick and speaking the technical truth (there are many kinds of “ends”) while allowing Mackenzie to falsely continue to believe that her mother is dead.

        Current score: 0
        • Kim says:

          I don’t think he’s doing it deliberately. He means “when mom and I ended the relationship” — which is exactly what an unbiased person would take it as (Mack ought to know that he didn’t have much dealings with Mum after she was born).

          … and even if it was deliberate, is it really bad to tell that particular white lie?

          Current score: 0
          • Riocaz says:

            Gotta agree with Kim, I think his mention was meaning “end of the relationship” it’s Macks interpretation that it’s the end of her life.

            Current score: 0
          • fka_luddite says:

            Everything “the man” says to Mack is deliberate.

            Current score: 1
          • Lyssa says:

            Unlikely. As Luddite suggests, everything that the Man says is deliberate.

            And we don’t know how she supposedly died. It could be that Mack has always suspected that her father had to do with it. It could be that he is planting in her mind that he did here.

            Mack’s repetition of “I didn’t do it” makes it seem much stronger than reassurance of others. She’s reassuring herself when she says that over and over. Every time it comes up, including to people who she’s already said it to (Amaranth’s heard it at least 3 times). She is compelled to defend herself for some reason that goes beyond “they need to know I didn’t kill my mother” to “I didn’t kill my mother, i didn’t kill my mother, I didn’t…” It’s a mantra.

            Current score: 0
            • Brenda says:

              Well, this was the answer the scarecrow accepted:

              “What happened to her?”

              “It isn’t my fault,” I said. “I don’t want to talk about it. That’s all I know.”

              The scarecrow stared at me. I felt anger welling up within me.

              “That’s all I know,” I said, and very slowly, it nodded.

              Current score: 0
            • Bubble says:

              Hmmm… Just thought of this but as the above posts have mentioned Macks mantra of “It isn’t my fault, I don’t want to talk about it. That’s all I know.” seems to be repeated in those exact words most times someone questions her about it. And while this could genuinely just be down to the fact she has repeated this mantra throughout her childhood, could it not also be possible that it is a parting gift from her psychic mother?
              Her mum could have used her abilities to help Mack accept her death, and to make sure she didn’t later blame herself. It might also explain why Mack doesn’t seem that interested in finding out how her mother supposedly died.

              Current score: 1
            • Lyssa says:

              You said: “Her mum could have used her abilities to help Mack accept her death, and to make sure she didn’t later blame herself.”

              If that were the case, I suspect that she would not be so clearly aggravated by it. If comfort were intended, comfort should be present, I would think. Unless you imply that she failed?

              Current score: 0
            • Burnsidhe says:

              Mack doesn’t *know* what happened, why her mother died/went missing. She *suspects* something terrible happened.

              And now The Man has deliberately brought Mack’s anger to the surface with an offhand reference.

              Current score: 0
            • Lyssa says:

              I agree.

              Current score: 0
            • Dj Gilcrease says:

              I doubt it was her mother who did the brain washing, more likely her grandmother, with her mother permission. The impression I get is that her mother and grandmother worked to make it appear as if Laurel Anne had died to get away from ‘The Man’, to succeed at that Mack had to stay in the area, and having the protection of a bad ass Paladin is a good way to keep out evil influence during the impressionable years of a childs life. She may not have been the best parent, but she did make sure Mack understood her view of good/evil to her very core.

              Clearly the rouse did last for ever as we saw Laurel Anne is still alive, and again it is my impression that ‘The Man’ didnt know this until recently, maybe when grandma was on campus and is now working toward getting Laurel Anne and Mack together. Not out of some altruistic ‘family’ thing, but more out of the fact that doing so will make Mack trust him more so he can use her better.

              Current score: 0
            • Lyssa says:

              I would be reluctant to take that at face value.

              Current score: 0
            • Eris Harmony says:

              I always figured her mother died (or I guess, disappeared) in a fire–something Mack may or may not have had a hand in. Whatever it was, she didn’t do anything ‘wrong’, but it was at least suspicious, even if she wasn’t involved.

              Current score: 1
            • Lyssa says:

              That was my suspicion for a long time, too. I haven’t changed my mind, but I did forget that I had thought that.

              Current score: 0
        • DarkSage says:

          IMHO,He did this to enforce the myth of her Mom’s death as a means of protecting her and her Mother. So one can not be used against the other,plus,to keep “granny” at bay. 😉

          Current score: 0
  10. Month says:

    The guy is good. Of course he is an old manipulator. So he is Doctor Doom of this story, aint he? (With Amaranth having the brains of Reed Richards but the abilities of Invisible Girl, Steff being Mr/Ms/whatever Fantastic, Ian being the Human Torch, and Mack the adorable Thing. Wow, this worked quite a lot better than I thought it would!)

    Current score: 0
    • TheEyes says:

      Well, Two would make a better Thing; she is, after all, animated clay. Mack is the Human Torch, with the inherent fire element and the ability to actually channel fire through her body (rather than “only” doing an elemental evocation).

      Hm. Was Ian’s suspected Earth element ever borne out in the story, or was that only a combination of fan speculation and Mackenzie going on about him being her rock?

      Current score: 0
      • Jennifer says:

        It was stated once that humans are an “earth” race, even though they like to think of themselves as the perfect balance between all elements. So Ian being extra earthy might not be a trait specific to him.

        Current score: 0
  11. Nndaia says:

    Have we even seen the Man do anything evil? He seems creepy, and from the perspective of modern society it’s hard to condone someone so old seducing somebody as young as he did with Mack’s mother, but so far he hasn’t done much except fuck up his lover’s life, have a couple of kids and kill imaginary people in a dream. Which plenty of normal human arseholes have done.

    Current score: 0
    • it’s hard to condone someone so old seducing somebody as young

      Then I suppose congratulations are in order for having managed such a difficult a feat? Well done, you.

      Current score: 0
    • Dan says:

      Well, besides the statutory rape, he’s been known to tear out hearts and eat them, which usually is related to a messy and painful death.

      And, yes, human assholes have also murdered. We put them away for those crimes too.

      Current score: 1
      • Kim says:

        … so you say. I’ve seen A girl with a dragon tattoo — have you?

        Current score: 0
      • TheTurnipKing says:

        _Do_ we know that, though? I mean, some hearts may have been torn out and eaten while he’s been in the vicinity, but I don’t know recall whether anything was explicitly proven.

        Current score: 0
        • Kevin Brown says:

          I always get antsy when people star asking if the man has ever actually done anything evil. He is after all a child molesting demon who feeds on the innocence of women. Whether its actually him or some other predator eating his victims hearts (given that demons eat humans and don’t like to share I would bet it’s him) is a little bit irrelevant as the fact that he is evil is mentioned every time he shows up.

          Current score: 0
        • Burnsidhe says:

          You don’t need something to be explicitly shown to you for it to be true.

          Current score: 0
        • Zukira Phaera says:

          Eating hearts would be outside his dietary needs, as stated in the past, his food is ovaries.

          Current score: 0
          • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

            I’m pretty sure the general implication of that statement, after his need for hearts was revealed, was that knocking human women up, likely to get female half-demons, is necessary for whatever plan to ‘live’ he has. Remember, the cut text for the chapter talking about his need for hearts was “In which no, the Man didn’t actually say that.” (That, or something very similar; I forget.)

            Current score: 1
            • Jennifer says:

              Yes, Art Kent outright told Mackenzie that it is in public record that her father, one of the demons who’s been hanging around the longest, eats virgin hearts (or at very least, every 13 months or so a virgin with no heart surfaces, somehow associated with him).

              Current score: 1
    • Lyssa says:

      Think that, sure. It’s a revolting thought, but go for it.

      But please don’t post this on here. Because:
      1. Some of us were “seduced” as children. We tend to think people who talk about it like you are assholes.
      2. AE has threatened to take the Man out of the story because of comments like this. I don’t want this. He’s a great character but he is evil. Accept that, disagree with it, fine, but don’t make her get rid of him because you want to defend child rapists.

      Current score: 0
      • Don’t worry, I’ve already made the decision to keep him around. Otherwise I wouldn’t have brought him back into this volume at all.

        Current score: 2
        • Lyssa says:

          Ahh, good to know. I was afraid that you were testing the waters or that if it happened too much again you’d give up on him.

          I’m glad you’re keeping him. 🙂

          Current score: 0
        • JS says:

          Maybe you just need to have a caveat at the beginning of the comments section in BIG BRIGHT RED LETTERS to keep away the questions? In my work I’ve had to begin every conversation with certain people about what is acceptable and what is not before I continue. We found it works.

          Current score: 0
      • Warclam says:

        I might need to be walked through this, a little. How old was Laurel Anne, exactly? My brain registered “late teens” when I read the backstory story, which strikes me more as “dude, SO not cool” than “get thee behind me Satan”. I guess I read that wrong?

        Regarding the eating hearts issue, I don’t think it’s reasonable to call that an Evil act when the alternative is starvation. Again though I don’t remember the backstory well, so if he’s a real dick about how he harvest them, that could be evil, since he’s smart enough to know better (unlike, say, a sabre-toothed tiger).

        Current score: 0
        • Abeo says:

          He started on Laurel Anne when she was very young and wandered too far into the forest. I got the impression that she was no older than ten. If I recall, the point that he started overt sexual interaction with her is left vague, but it was definitely before she was fourteen. “Late teens” is when she had Mackenzie, Mackenzie’s older brother was at least a couple years old at that point.

          The Evil of the heart harvesting is that he is completely unapologetic about it. He feels no need to defend his killing of sapient beings. Keep in mind, he technically does not need to eat human hearts. As far as I can tell, demons do not need to eat when they are in their -now- native plane. Elsewise, those that haven’t managed to get out for a few hundred years would be dead. He kills people to stay in the world, not to stay living.

          Current score: 1
          • Warclam says:

            Ah, OK, thanks for the timeline corrections. That’s… eugh, yeah, nasty. OK, pretty vile.

            I’m still not convinced about the hearts, though. That’s a good point about lack of starvation in the elemental plane of burning sulfur, or whatever it’s called. I’m just not willing to declare the eating of sapient (by the way, thanks for remembering the distinction between sapient and sentient, it’s one of my pet peeves) beings necessarily evil, even if there is an available alternative which involves staying locked in the planar prison to which his entire species has been banished. I recognize that I’m in a minority here, though.

            Current score: 0
          • Jennifer says:

            The best I’ve figured out, Laurel Anne meets the man at age 5, meets him a second time at age 12 and starts seeing him regularly, STARTS getting physical at 12 or 13, becomes pregnant at age 15 and has Aidan; and has Mack at 18.

            http://talesofmu.nfshost.com/wiki/index.php/PreHistory_Timeline

            Current score: 1
  12. Krey says:

    The Man is nice and all, good chapter but…

    WTF HAPPENED TO THE SEXY TIMES? I remember this story used to be really hot, and I was looking forward to IAN/mack fun, only to have it glossed over in a few sentences. Hopefully, “We did have the whole weekend ahead of us” is a sign it will be coming in the next couple chapters.

    Or maybe that sex was only in the beginning to draw us in, and now that you’ve got us trapped by roughly a dozen unsolved mysteries and half played out story lines you’ve dropped it? Very clever AE, very clever… but I’M ON TO YOU! O.o

    Current score: 0
    • Lyssa says:

      Ha! I’m always relieved when she glosses, but I read it that way, too. I suspect there’ll be some porn later on.

      Current score: 0
    • If you want me to go back to how it was in the beginning, I will be happy to go 22 chapters without more than a single (implied, mostly glossed over) sex scene. 🙂

      Current score: 1
  13. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    “Isn’t she friendly enough? Doesn’t she seem decent? Doesn’t she seem like the sort of person that other people just can’t find enough excuses to take out their own problems on?

    “If all you wanted was for me to make up my mind about Twyla without giving what you wanted a second thought, all you had to do was stay out of my life,” I said.

    The speaker changed between paragraphs but the first paragraph lacks closing quotes.

    Current score: 0
  14. Grahf says:

    “we have in Khersis a god who went from activist to absentee landlord in a big way”

    He likes to watch
    He’s a prankster
    He’s a tight-ass
    He’s a sadist
    etc.
    http://youtu.be/RGR4SFOimlk

    Current score: 0
    • DarkSage says:

      Sounds so familiar to a discussion I had with a co-worker over our differing beliefs. BB/MP

      Current score: 0
  15. Sindyr says:

    Thank you for the excellent stories, AE! Keep up the good work.

    Current score: 0
  16. Null Set says:

    I’m still shocked that it is possible to write an Affably Evil pedophile. That is no mean feat, AE.

    Current score: 0
  17. anon says:

    Great chapter, found MackDaddy’s perspective on Crystal Dragon Christians very interesting.

    Kudos, too, for alluding to the smexytimes this time around. Don’t get me wrong, I like your erotic writing, but sometimes a little goes a long way.

    Current score: 0
  18. JerK says:

    The more I think about Mack’s reaction whenever someone brings up her mothers death the more I think it was her mother that mentally manipulated her into thinking that. She had to disappear and she didn’t want Mack think her “death” was her fault. I could be way off though.

    Current score: 0