460: Hidden Images

on September 23, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Sooni Is Not Pictured

“This is your dorm?” Pala asked me after ducking through the doorway into the nexus hallway. She seemed really impressed with the idea, considering it was just the space between the three nearest dorm buildings enclosed and roofed over.

“No, it’s… kind of a front hallway, I guess,” I said. “It connects the dorms in this cluster together.”

“Oh,” Pala said. “It looks more like a sitting room to me.”

She had a point… there were the most people than I’d ever seen in the nexus since after the first day when people had been moving in and getting to know the area. Now there were people sitting all over the gently sloped floor. Some of them were eating dinner from the corner store, or fast food from the student union.

There were more human-only groups than otherwise, but it was a relief to see that they were sharing the space with a good number of Harlowe students, some even in mixed groups. Even in the absence of stupidity-fueled violence, I had figured the press conference’s “revelation” would have kept everybody buttoned down inside their dorms… instead it looked like a good number of people had decided to split the difference to obey the letter of the safety guidelines and the spirit of camaraderie.

Hazel’s little “community outreach” initiative on the day of the killing hadn’t lost all of its momentum in the following days, it seemed. I looked around to see if I could spot her… I saw Oru and Shiel, and as soon as I saw them I realized that Honey was with them, looking better and more relaxed than she had in recent days. She actually waved at me when she saw me looking at her. After a second of being stunned, I waved back.

“Well, this is nice,” Pala said. “Everybody seems so friendly. It makes me wish I lived on campus.”

“Not everyone in the dorms are friendly, but yeah, it is nice to see.”

“And the ceiling is so high!” she said. I’d never thought about it, but it really was… especially at the southern end of the hallway. The floor followed the general contours of the sloping ground, but the ceiling was flat. “I hope that the rest of it is like this, because this and the student union atrium and the gymnasium center are the only places on the campus where I don’t have to stoop.”

“Oh, well… it’s not quite as spacious inside the actual dorms, no,” I said, trying to picture it in my head. I’d never given that much thought to headroom in the hallways. Harlowe Hall seemed like one of the bigger dorms, in terms of its proportions. There were larger dorms, and dorms that housed more students, but Harlowe had been built during a period when the fashion for institutional building designs called for broad hallways and high ceilings. The towers were similar, though their layout was a little more… involved. “Did you do much exploring of the dorm where the Veil party was?”

She shook her head.

“The party room was nice and big but the hallways leading out of it looked very… cramped,” she said. “And I was not sure where I was allowed to go.”

“Well, you’ll probably be able to get around in Harlowe,” I said. “But it won’t be like this.”

“Oh,” she said. “Then I believe I will just.. hang out… in here for a while, if you think that’s okay. I mean if you think you will be safe. You won’t be attacked in your own dorm, do you think?”

It had happened before, but I didn’t want to say anything that would make Pala feel guilty about staying behind when she was clearly enjoying being able to stand upright with a roof over head. She’d been “hired” by Ian to protect me from out-of-control human vigilantes, not the random assaults of my dormmates.

“I’ll be fine,” I said. I looked around the gathered groups of students… some of whom were looking at us, but more eyes were drawn towards Pala than me… and made a decision. “I’ll come back down and hang out, too, once I’ve dumped my stuff off in my room and found out what everyone else is up to.”

“Oh, okay,” she said. “I should mirror to Ian to let him know you are safe.”

That made me realize that I should probably do the same thing, since he was worried enough about me to engage a student bodyguard… but I didn’t want to step on Pala’s toes. She was doing this for a grade, and I didn’t know what all affected her score.

“Okay, would you please tell him where we are so that he can come hang out with us if he wants?” I asked. I thought about adding that I love him, but asking Pala to tell him that seemed weird… so then I considered asking her to tell him that I’d said hi, but that sounded weird for different reasons. “Tell him I said thanks for the escort.”

“Okie dokie,” Pala said, nodding. I watched her mouth mumble over the words as she committed them to memory.

“Oh, um… and thank you, Pala, for doing it.”

“You are welcome,” she said. “I think I am more likely to get full points for guarding your body than anyone else I could have. Because of the danger, you see? Many of my classmates have been marked down for assignments where there was no real threat.”

“Are you going to be penalized because I wasn’t actually attacked?”

“No,” she said. “Our battle effectiveness is graded separately. Even for non-threatening assignments we can be graded on procedure and form.”

“How do they grade that?”

“We write up the assignment afterwards,” she said.

“How do they know you actually did the procedures, then?” I asked.

“The grade is for knowing, I suppose,” she said. “And you have to know it to write it up. Also, we are shadowed sometimes.”

“Do they tell you when?” I asked.

“No. But if you do not note the shadow in your write-up, you fail.”

“How are you supposed to… oh,” I said, grasping the point of the exercise. “I guess that makes sense. Anyway, I’ll be back.”

I headed into Harlowe, climbed the stairs up to the fifth floor with minimal trippage… my shoes had picked up a little moisture outside and a sole slipped off one of the steps on the last flight, jarring me… and headed to my room. Two was sitting at her desk eating a muffin and working on her homework. I’d been hoping to see Amaranth, but she seemed to be alone.

“Hi, Mack! Amaranth and Steff said to tell you that they’re in Steff’s room,” Two said. “They’re in Steff’s room. Sooni left a note for you on the markerboard in permanent markers. I cleaned it off, but I copied it down for you first. Also, you left the door unlocked. You shouldn’t do that when nobody’s in the room.”

“”Hi, Two… I didn’t leave the door unlocked,” I said.

“It wasn’t me,” she said. “Be more careful.”

That would have been more than a little troubling even if I didn’t know that my floormates had been trying to spy on me… I always locked it reflexively, and I knew Two would do so with a conscientiousness that was better than a reflex.

Trina was a minor subtle artist. Dee could take a door off its hinges with her power. I doubted Trina was anywhere near as strong or skilled as she was, but it wouldn’t take much power or skilled at all to pop the lock since it was easy as turning the knob on the inside of the door. Puddy had shown some facility with getting doors open, and would have even had the opportunity to make a copy of the key when she had been my roommate. Any number of students might have learned a form of magic sufficient to get the door open… again, the locks weren’t exactly the most rigorously protected things in the world.

And that was only considering my floormates… my father had managed to physically enter my room at least once.

Suddenly, my dorm room felt a lot less secure to me than it had before. I’d have to investigate options for warding it… something to keep out demons would be problematic for obvious reasons, but something to make the lock a little more robust and maybe let us know when somebody was in the room and we weren’t would be nice. It would have to be a dorm-legal solution, of course, or else Two would object.

“Did Amaranth and Steff say how long they’d be?” I asked. No sense dwelling on something I couldn’t immediately address.

“No, they said we shouldn’t wait for them for dinner,” Two said. “Here is the message.”

She handed me a sheaf of notebook paper on which she’d drawn a brightly colored rainbow background surrounding a heart-shaped white space, with the message, “Hello, Miss Mackenzie! Reflecked Me Please!” written in big curly letters, surrounded by bizarre smiley faces. The misspelled word had been crossed out with a writing pen, and “^reflect” written by it. At the bottom, there was a line of characters in the Yokano language, and then a big loopy signature saying “Sooni” in the Draconized script of Pax.

“You didn’t do all this by hand, did you?” I asked.

“No, I scribed it,” she said, which made sense. Two had begun her life, essentially, as a piece of intelligent office equipment.

“Well… I suppose I’d better see what she wants,” I said. I got my mirror out and flipped it open. “Suzune Hoshinotama, Prax,” I told it. I didn’t know if she’d be on campus or not, but she had such a distinctive name that even the province should be enough to identify her.

The swirling mist that usually preceded a reflection had barely started to form when it disappeared. At first I wondered if there was some kind of interference, or if Lee had put a block on outgoing reflections that weren’t to him… but then I heard Sooni’s voice.

“Hello? Hello, Mackenzie?” she said.

“Sooni?” I said. It was weird to be talking to her and seeing my own face reflected back. Watching my lips move as I spoke was weirdly disconcerting.

“Hello!” she said.

“Something’s wrong with the image, Sooni,” I said. “I can’t see you.”

“Oh, well… I turned it off,” she said.

“Why would you do that?”

“Because… because… because I was looking forward to the sound of your voice and I did not want anything to distract me!” she said. Sooni was such a terrible liar, it was a wonder she could even fool herself as often as she did. “Anyway, something is wrong with your mirror because I could not reflect to you!”

“Yeah, well, it’s not actually my mirror,” I said. “It’s really for keeping in touch with my lawyer.”

“Lawyers!” she said. I heard the sound of her heavy wooden sandal hitting a hard surface as she said that. “I am so tired of lawyers… my father’s lawyers have been all around me all week. I am being strangled to death by lawyers! But they say I can have my room back soon.”

“Well, that’s good,” I said.

“But they say my father says I need more ‘supervision’,” she said.

Well, that’s good, I thought.

“Anyway… I’m just so glad that you got my message!” she said.

“Yeah, Two gave it to me,” I said. “Um… so… what’s up?”

“I needed to talk to you because I wanted to apologize to you for trying to drag you into my investigation,” she said. “I see now that I was not being fair to either one of us. I am sorry. I hope you can forgive me.”

No matter how curious I was about the chain of thoughts running through Sooni’s head, had to be safer to graciously accept her heartfelt apology than to ask her to elaborate on the reason behind it. She was making a considerate gesture and I was making one in return. Asking her how she’d arrived at the conclusion that such a gesture was warranted was the conversational equivalent of saying, “Please, sir, I enjoy this sausage… would you show me how it’s made?”

These were the thoughts that went through my head mere moments after I asked her, “What do you mean?”

“Well, I was expecting too much of you,” she said. “You are my dear friend, but you are not a trained investigator with trained investigative skills. I should not have placed such a heavy burden on someone with your meager abilities.”

“…that’s… nice of you to say,” I said.

“Especially since I did not need your help after all!” she said. “Don’t you see, Mackenzie? I had the power to solve the case of the… dead… bird… girl… princess all the time!”

“I… what?” I said. The thought that she might have stumbled over the actual killer didn’t even occur to me… I just didn’t want anybody else to have to put up with being arbitrarily made the villain of Sooni’s story, for their sake and hers. Many people wouldn’t put up with random accusations, magical assaults, and shoe-flingings. “Sooni… they said it was a monster attack.”

Yes!” Sooni said, with such triumphal joy in her voice that I could just see her beetle-black eyes sparkling. “And just the other day I was saying, I was saying aloud, that I did not see how any person could possibly have done such a thing to poor Lydia.”

“Leda,” I said.

“It might have seemed like a chance remark at the time, but in my experience investigations often turn on such remarks,” she said. “Obviously my intuitive powers of intuition had already grasped what the so-called ‘imperial’ investigators had missed.”

“Obviously,” I said.

“Of course it is for the best that my involvement remain secret,” she said. “There is no sense embarrassing the authorities by letting everyone know they have been shown up by a plucky and spirited girl detective.”

“Well, that goes without saying,” I said, fighting the urge to roll my eyes. I didn’t know if she could see me.

“So anyway… all that I really need from you is to keep your eyes and ears open for my next case,” she said. “I don’t need you to help me solve it.”

She seemed to have forgotten her plans to design and sell clothing as quickly and completely as she’d forgotten about representing Harlowe on the student senate. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing… it was something she had a genuine talent for, but she had seemed to think that the real money was in dressing up like characters from her favorite TV shows, and also that all that was needed was for me to somehow put together an a-commerce ready weavesite for her.

“I’ll let you know if anything comes up,” almost seemed like a neutral, non-committal enough response… except that Sooni’s definition of a binding promise roamed a bit far afield of most people’s.

“Sooni, I don’t think I’m the one to…”

“Nonsense! I believe in you!” she said. “Oh, I have to… bye!”

From the abrupt cut-off, it sounded like she’d been interrupted. Perhaps some of the supervision that she had mentioned had just walked into the room.

I sighed and snapped the mirror shut.

“There’s a bunch of people hanging out downstairs in the nexus,” I said. “Including Pala and Hazel’s cousin Honey. Do you want to go join them?”

“Hallways are supposed to be kept clear,” Two said, her nose wrinkling as if she found the violation distasteful.

“Well, it’s not really a hallway,” I said. “It’s more like a courtyard that got a roof and floor put on.”

“Which made it a hallway.”

“It’s big enough that you can still walk through it when people are sitting in it,” I said. “That’s a pretty good definition of clear.”

“Maybe,” Two said doubtfully.

“Would you rather argue about this or go down and hang out?” I asked, and then watched while she thought it over.

“I would rather go down and hang out,” she decided. “Then stay up here and argue about it. But I would like it best if the hanging out were somewhere else.”

“Well, yes, but we’re not going to be able to make that happen.”

“I know,” she said. “I will be ready to go down with you very shortly.”

She cleaned up her muffin crumbs, put away her homework, and then checked her face in the mirror. I didn’t know what she was checking. Two didn’t wear makeup regularly… she didn’t need it to look like most women did with makeup in understated natural colors… and her hair seemed to fall into place like it had been designed to.

It probably had.

“Pala said you guys are friends now,” I said as we headed downstairs.

“Yes,” Two said. “She is also friends with Suzi.”

“Is Suzi really your friend?” I asked.

“Yes,” Two said.

“Are you sure she doesn’t just like you for your baking?”

“No,” Two said. “But I do not think it matters why she likes me as long as she does and is nice to me and is happy to see me. That is being friendly, and being friendly is like being a friend, and if she is always perfectly friendly to me then she is exactly like a friend.”

“Is she really always perfectly friendly?” I asked.

“No,” Two said. “But my friends Hazel and Dee both agree that you can’t expect people to be perfect. You have to make allowances.”

“Well, just don’t make too many allowances,” I said.

“I won’t,” she said, then gave me a hug and said, “I only make so many allowances for you because you’re like a sister to me.”

“That’s nice of you,” I said.

As much as I loved Two, it was very possible that for the sake of our friendship we’d need to find a different roommate arrangement before too long. She was making friends fast enough that she had other options. For that matter, she’d probably get along fine with her original roommate, Dee, now that she was sleeping better.

We headed back down to the hallway, where Pala had lain down on her side next to the small folk, who had also been joined by Hazel. As she had been in the tunnels around the arena, Pala was lying with her head pointed downhill. Oru and Shiel seemed to be having an argument. I wasn’t exactly too fond of either one of them… Shiel was argumentative and into war games, and Oru… well, she was a biter. And goblin bites hurt.

Pala seemed to be a participant, too, but she had the same emptily pleasant smile on her face as usual, like there was no disagreement happening at all… or at least none worth getting upset about. Whatever the argument was, she probably had less stake in it personally than the others.


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70 Responses to “460: Hidden Images”

  1. Hart says:

    Heyla, AE

    Yaaaay for Two-ey goodness!

    -r

    Current score: 0
  2. Drudge says:

    Seems like it sort of cuts off awkwardly there. I mean, I saw the writing in progress and the argument is already written and was days ago. It was even promised in the preview. I think it should have been posted.

    Also, she’s back and she makes no move to warn anyone of Iona. I’m THIS close to dropping the story entirley now.

    Current score: 0
    • Tigger says:

      Drudge:

      Mack has been back to the dorm for all of…10 minutes? Has she SEEN anyone she can talk to about this yet? Has she seen ANYONE other than Two, and the people in the hallway? Nope. Which means she can’t tell anyone yet, because there is no one to tell!

      As far as threats to leave…well, they’ve never made a difference to AE or any of her readers, except that we wave goodbye and ask you not to let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Read, or don’t. The loss of one reader who apparently hasn’t figured out AE’s writing style thus far is probably not going to be that big of a deal. (AE, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on this, and I’ll try to stay out things like this in the future!)

      Unrelated: I also agree with Hart. YAY for Two-ey goodness!

      Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      But she wants to talk to Amaranth, Steff and Dee about it, because if she dragged Two into she would just go and turn Iona in because that is the right thing to do.
      Did you seriously expect her to announce to everyone in the Nexus that Iona was the culprit and considered it to be open season on humans?

      Current score: 0
      • Drudge says:

        Her thought process doesn’t seem to suggest any actual ACTION though.

        And why the fuck NOT let everyone know? Worst comes to worst Iona AND Feejee dies. This doesn’t strike me as a bad thing because both have killed and it’s not a question of IF but WHEN. All I can see happening is Mankind suddenly having a new dangerous Nemesis that wants to eat them and is widespread and near inaccessible but not quite.

        Which basically means by telling everyone she draws attention away from herself, boosts her reputation, and is able to get the hell on with her life without the fear some random asshole with an enchanted dagger can kill her because she isn’t carrying the big impractical to carry around stick she bases her whole fighting style off of.

        Come to think of it, given the level of specialists and activists and the legal situation, if she just spilled EVERYTHING all her problems go away.

        Mercy can’t kill everyone who knows about her plans to “stand equal to khale” based around rape and slavery, and she’s on legal thin ice already. The imperium probably wouldn’t want to be seen roughing up the lady just messing with whoever gave them a bunch of MASSIVE tips and if anything try to help her patch up the mental hole letting Mack daddy through. The Mermaids have something to give them a cold, hard, sharp dose of reality. On Reality, Sooni will have a rude awakening when Mackenzie takes care of ALL THE VILLAINS at once with no climactic battle.

        The laws that let all those slaves die and Mercy get that far will probably be called heavily into question. Which may dig up Callahan, who in and of herself is a dangerous person.

        I mean yeah, down the line racial politics will change heavily. The one’s who’ll take most of the initial brunt however are the man eaters, I.E. Ogres and Harpies. Given they kidnap, rape, and devour almost habitually they shall not be missed. After that Goblinoids and other overt inhumans will have some trouble but really those’re races MADE to bounce back from anything other than sheer extenction, they’ll be fine.

        Current score: 0
        • Worst comes to worst Iona AND Feejee dies.

          If that’s your idea of the worst case outcome for your scenario, I can think of at least two worlds whose events you haven’t been paying that much attention to.

          Current score: 0
          • Drudge says:

            At least two…?

            You’re implying there’s a bunch of man eating transformers I haven’t been aware of? Or that I stopped with that one sentence? I sort of said a whole lot more in that post you’re kind of glossing over.

            Current score: 0
            • DieKatzchen says:

              The two worlds she’s talking about are the world of ToMU and the one you live in.

              Current score: 0
        • Miss Lynx says:

          Wow, Drudge, you really haven’t thought this through very well if you think the mermaids getting killed is the worst-case scenario. You seem to be assuming that if Mackenzie “spills everything”, that she’ll automatically and immediately be believed by everyone. I can’t think of anything less likely to happen, personally.

          Even if the authorities took her accusations seriously enough to look into them, which is very much in doubt, they’d likely take their time investigating, because that’s how bureaucracies work – and that would leave a lot of opportunity for those she’d accused to exact various messy sorts of revenge. I really can’t see that ending well at all…

          Current score: 0
        • erratio says:

          Nice to see that Keri LaBelle has a real life counterpart.

          Here’s a question: if a man-eating monster came up to you and tried to convince you that an exotic race which has shown no signs of man-eating was in fact responsible for a high-profile killing, would you believe them? Yes, she could go to the Imperials and get them to verify that she believes her claim, but it sure wouldn’t make her more popular with the other students.

          Current score: 0
          • Drudge says:

            You people seem to think I’m saying she immediatly spill all the beans. I’m not suggesting anything like that. What I am suggesting however is the idea that she actually THINK about doing SOMETHING towards this.

            “A couple of mermaids” isn’t the issue. I was suggesting *all* of them. As in extinct completely. Ethnic clensing is bad in the real world and in most fantasy settings for the reason that they don’t attack down to a man, woman, and child. Even the ones we saw questioning it didn’t try to put any stop to it and aren’t suggesting that they don’t do it themselves.

            And again, I’ve said multiple times several other races will probably come under fire and people who had nothing to do with this will *die*. Letting people know isn’t some solution that fixes everything. It is however better than watching Mackenzie sit there like a lump while everyone around her does things and expect to feel sorry for her when things inevitably get dangerous in a situation we haven’t seen her think about in about a year and a half.

            People would die either way. The difference with THIS however would be the idea that people actually DOING something die.

            Current score: 0
            • DieKatzchen says:

              Yes. They would wipe out all the dangerous races, like mermaids and ogres and harpies.

              And half-demons.

              Current score: 0
            • erianaiel says:

              Mackenzie did take action, almost immediately so…
              She told her lawyer, who then said he could make sure the appropriate authorities were warned in such a way that her anonimity was assured.
              Which he did.
              The fact that the officials are now ‘officially’ declaring the case closed in a way that smells of cover up, very strongly suggests that authorities, or perhaps a certain force of nature, are in fact looking into the issue but are not making things public for exactly the same reason why Mackenzie did not want to get publicly involved in the first place. With tensions between various races as tight as they are now a monster hunt on the campus is a very real likelihood still. And if the pitchfork and torches bearing crowd advances on Harlowe there will at least be some residents who will defend themselves, and not all of them will toss Mackenzie out of the window to be torn apart by the humans just to try and appease the bloodthirsty humans outside.

              Mackenzie also gave as clear a warning to Iona as she could without revealing that she already informed the authorities that one of the mermaids must have been the killer. She did not penetrate the murderous serial killer craziness of Iona, but at least got her to back off for a few more days. This at least buys safety for the students and gives Mackenzie time to see what the authorities are really going to be doing with the information she anonymously tipped through her lawyer and Embries.

              So what do you really expect Mackenzie to do more that will not make things a lot worse than they are already Drudge? Go out and tear Iona’s head from her neck? Climb on top of Harlowe and shout that Iona, the beautiful, nude and popular, innocent and almost human looking mermaid, is in fact a vicious killer that likes to rip apart humans as long as some tenuous connection to water can be construed in her own mind? Do you really think that will not bring out the signs of Khersis and the blessed weapons and spark off the monster hunt Mackenzie has been trying to avoid? Not to mention majorly piss off a greater dragon who has been promised he can profit a lot by sharing this priviledged information with the rich family of the murdered swan maiden?

              Mackenzie *maybe* could have handled things differently at first, but what she did was fairly smart and should work without getting herself subjected to a monster hunt and without lots of innocent people killed.

              Eri

              Current score: 0
        • Tamina says:

          Kidnap, rape and wanton murder (and some devouring) actually sounds a hell of a lot like most of human history. Under your logic, the most useful thing you could do right now is commit suicide. Do you GET how starting RACE WARS based on ONE PERSON you’ve known for a MONTH is a BAAAD IDEA? Twit.

          Current score: 1
    • Rey d`Tutto says:

      If you leave, who will we have to complain?

      Current score: 0
  3. ElectricHarpsichord says:

    “‘Hi, Mack! Amaranth and Steff said to tell you that they’re in Steff’s room,’ Two said. ‘They’re in Steff’s room.'”

    Repetition much? =)

    (Also, I realize that this is probably a typo stemming from the storm.)

    Current score: 0
    • Folacin says:

      That’s not repetition (not typo repetition at any rate) – that’s Two. She told Mack what Steff and Amaranth had said – much like you or I might), then, because they told her to say that they were in were in Steff’s room – she did what had been asked of her.

      Current score: 0
    • Lola says:

      Nah, the first statement is Two starting a conversation. The second is her telling Mack ‘They’re in Steff’s room’, exactly like Amaranth and Steff told her to.

      Current score: 0
    • NaughtiNikki says:

      It’s not a typo. She was letting her know what they said, and then relaying the message. She’s very literal and methodical.

      Current score: 0
    • erratio says:

      Nah, there’s a difference between saying that you’re going to be somewhere and actually being there. Consider: “Amaranth said to tell you they’re in Steff’s room. They’re in Dee’s room.”

      Two is just being her usual overly-factual/informative self about it

      Current score: 0
      • Helen Rees says:

        I would say that she’s describing what she’s been told to do, then doing it. Two different things. See?

        Current score: 0
  4. Anthony says:

    Of course, you *know* what’s going to end up happening. Sooni’s going to end up tripping over the fact that Iona did it, one way or another. It has to happen, just because it’s to ridiculous *not* to happen, Sooni being Sooni…

    Current score: 0
    • firedragongt says:

      Or when the truth is released, Sooni refuses to believe it, since she “knows” the truth. She DID find it before the investigators, after all.

      Current score: 0
  5. miz*G says:

    So, Drudge, what I’m getting from your comment is that you’d like the whole story to basically end right now, wrapped up in a neat little bow. Is that about right?

    Personally, I can see things going badly for Mackenzie if she went to the authorities about any of her issues.

    Mackenzie goes to the cops and says “hey, the mermaids did it”. They investigate, realize its true and give her the reward. They publicize this fact to make them look good for racial tolerance. All of a sudden, Mackenzie has an entire vicious, bloodthirsty species after her.

    Suppose she tells them her daddy’s showing up in her dreams. That reminds them she’s a demon, which is going to be a problem even if they do have mermaids to worry about. Demons are still the ancient enemy of man.

    Nobodys gonna mess with Mercy, except maybe Mother Khael, but Mackenzie can’t talk to her directly, and she seems to take Amaranth less than seriously.

    As for Callahan… She may be one evil bitch, but I like her and the story wouldn’t be the same without her.

    Current score: 0
    • Drudge says:

      Neat little bow? No. All the major problems that can kill thousands? Yes.

      If she goes to the cops about a bunch of foreigners attacking the citizens of every major nation, war will probably be declared. Given they attack every nation without discrimination, their only advantage is being far away where no enchanted weapons work and they’re VERY rarely used anyway. Given Mackenzie is inland and can only be harmed by enchanted weapons the Mermaids probably couldn’t do any actual DAMAGE to her. Meanwhile she’s got an offensive spell based around an element they’ve got no experience with that’d break their enchantments anyway.

      A reminder that’d be an issue for a while, but the idea of someone looking over from the enemy attacking RIGHT NOW while a possible future enemy is being looked by the athorities is less of a risk from the enemy YOU have to deal with on a near daily basis RIGHT NOW. Besides, again, it would take a more than hucking a brick or Lynching mackenzie to deal with her. No Magic means she can basically just get right up and defend herself.

      I’m not SAYING go right up to Mercy. I’m saying “hey, she’s planning on raping a bunch of half demons to raise an army”. This might bring her race into question, true, but it would definitly keep Mercy Busy and remind the imperium of lots of things, at least some people if they’re alive. Mainly: Mercy is a terrorist we’ve somehow allowed to gain money, power, and influence through questionable means only she can prove PERHAPS. We really need to keep better track of a race that can break the magic our whole civilization is based off of. And we CERTAINLY need to deal with half demon sanity and how that goes down.

      I mean god damn they probably know some of them turned out ok, and they know it’s an issue. It’s probably a good idea to cover the issue of a monster that may kill some people with something other than a monster that WILL kill more people through similar magical means with more skill and also has a team of lawyers giving him top priority.

      Current score: 0
      • bramble says:

        In the first place, it wouldn’t be “war” that was declared. If the human nations decided it was worth the time and effort to wipe out the merfolk, it would be genocide. They wouldn’t bother with niceties like, you know, avoiding civilian casualties when possible or treating prisoners decently. And that’s assuming that they’d do more than just destroy or deport all the merpeople living on land and up the security a bit on the boats. It’s horrific, but the idea of an intelligent race that practices anthropophagy is not a new one in the MUniverse. In all but a very few cases, the humans have learned to avoid or fend off those who would prey upon them, because it’s just not feasible to put an end to the threat. In fact, the only case that I can think of where humanity is making anything resembling a concentrated effort to eliminate the threat – demons – they’ve got a GOD on their side.

        And actually, the fact that there are other anthropophagic races is a good one to remember, because if word gets out that merpeople go around eating humans, the average panicked stupid human isn’t going to find a mermaid to lash out at. They’re much more likely to find another scapegoat, and quite possibly one with connections to some other group they now associate mermaids with by virtue of a shared diet – say, a half-demon who’s too caught up in the self-esteem issues brought on by her dysfunctional upbringing to be able to defend herself properly? A half-ogre who is not exactly subtle about his what social status is back home, or one who is still trying to figure out where she fits into the human society she was raised in but nonetheless self-identifies as an ogre? Or maybe, following the reveal of the mermaids’ true forms, people would tend toward lashing out at others who are obviously monstrous in appearance – say, a girl who’s scaly skin is already faintly reminiscent of the merfolk in full monster form and who does not appear to display much in the way of emotions that humans can identify with, or one who strives to become more reptilian and openly disdains any association with anything mammalian? One of any of the characters we’ve seen whose small frames seem frightening or silly and misshapen from a human viewpoint, and whose mouths are wide and toothy enough that they were one of the first things the imperial investigators thought of when investigating a badly bitten corpse?

        You wouldn’t have to show up on Mercy’s doorstep and start yelling that you were going to turn her in, either. She’s definitely got her ear to the ground; if Mac went to the cops about her, I’m fairly sure Mercy would know almost as soon as the authorities did. And then she’d take advantage of the time they needed to conduct a careful investigation and figure out if they can prove she’s actually doing anything illegal to find a way to quietly and untraceably – possibly even legally – silence Mac. (Also, I doubt that she’s progressed far enough in Operation Half Demon Army that anyone could prove anything, not to mention that she can probably afford very good lawyers if she needs to.)

        Finally, the issue of Iona is not “the issue of a monster that may kill some people.” The issue is that monsters have their place in MUniverse society – there is a very good reason why college students are required to carry enchanted weapons while crossing campus – and Iona is attempting to have her cake and eat it, too, by participating in human society in a role similar to a human, while still behaving as a monster when no one’s looking. She has very little self-control or respect for the political situation she may cause by her lack of caution. Embries, on the other hand, is participating in the society in a role that is directly influenced by his draconic nature, and recognizes his humanoid meals as an indulgence. Is he frightening? Yes. Is he disingenuous in his interactions with humanity as a whole? Perhaps. Is he behaving in any way that human society has not allowed him as his right as a dragon? No.

        Current score: 1
        • Drudge says:

          Again, strip that of the legal issues for a moment. I didn’t say it wasn’t legal for Emberis to do what he does. What I’m saying is once you get down to the core Iona, Emberis, and whatever half demon killed those people have basically the same problem and the same tools. They couldn’t control themselves when it came to eating sentients, they had effect that causes people to warp judgement(excempting Iona here, probably), and they have a human looking form when they want to be(Note when Mackenzie loses control her body physically changes. In the woods she was walking on all fours, something you and I can’t. On campus her eyes caught fire. These in and of themselves are subconscious changes brought on by sudden emotion after repression. Odds are even if demons are supposed to look human most of the time it’s obvious not fully).

          As well, as someone else pointed out a few chapters ago, theres an inherent difference between a monster off a protected walkway that can’t think for itself and a sentient creature actively hunting you down in areas you’re supposed to be safe. Its not “a monster that may kill some people”, it’s “a sentient and functioning humanoid who has lost all inhibition and is currently killing people with a definite plan”.

          Yes, Merfolk and Ogres usually aren’t the most obvious targets in 90% of the world. In Mackenzie’s immediate area however they’re much more visible and plentiful. She’d probably get a heads up of some sort when they start going missing. Belinda would have the same amount of trouble, but then she’s a huge skirmisher everyone knows is big and threatening and has bigger and more threatening friends. They’re more likley to go after the introverted sexual deviant who’s displays of strength amount to “defeating someone smaller and unarmed”.

          Yes, things will get threatening and dangerous. People will die and Mackenzie will need to either be incredibly careful or move. This is however preferable to say, hundreds per year dying horrible deaths for no reason.

          Current score: 0
          • bramble says:

            So it’s alright, then, if people with monstrous heritage start getting lynched as long as the ones we know the names of hear about it in time to get away? As much as I love Belinda and Mack, they wouldn’t be the only ones caught in the crossfire. I would be willing to bet that for every half-demon in Mack’s current situation – surrounded by friends and allies, with proper legal support and at least a bit of positive coverage in the media – there are at least five or ten in situations more like what “Lucy II” or Mack grew up with – friendless, barely tolerated by the community as it is, cowed into obedience by physical and/or psychological abuse which, if it’s examined at all, is readily justified by their infernal parentage. Honestly, I have little doubt that Mack herself would come out ok if shit hit the fan now. But what if a situation like this had arisen even just a year or two before? She wouldn’t even have dared try to defend herself against an attacker. And there are doubtless some kids out there like highschooler Mack right now – or like highschooler Belinda, who I suspect got into skirmish largely because she was completely able to blend in in any other setting.

            I also am not at all sure that Mack undergoes any major physiological changes when she loses control. Humans are perfectly capable of moving about on all fours – usually not for long or at any great speed, but a small, light person who couldn’t injure her hands and was already in an incredibly feral mindset could well drop into a quadripedal stance. The “eyes on fire” thing was an extension of her ability to conjure demonfire, which she’s certainly able to do when at her most human.

            The problem of Iona is absolutely a legal one. Monsters which attack and kill humans and other sentients exist in the MUniverse. They are implied to be numerous and powerful enough that the human population could not totally eradicate them if they tried. (Is that clear? Let’s say it one more time: In Mack’s world, people will always die of monster attacks.) Citizens of the Imperium and other civilized countries, however, live under a code of law which does not permit randomly killing and eating one’s neighbors. They submit to this because it allows them to enjoy those advantages which naturally arise when you have a large number of people living and working together rather than attempting to eat one another. Iona, however, is attempting use those advantages (higher education, safe living quarters, contact with a variety of people and cultures) while still living as a monster (killing and eating sentients at will). You cannot have it both ways. You either hunt people, or society recognizes you as a person. This is the major difference between Iona and Feejee. Feejee may not have any moral issues about eating people, but she does have some understanding that she has to work within the rules or else she is leaving herself open for Bad Things to Happen. Iona considers herself to be above the rules.

            Ultimately? Hundreds of people will still die senseless, horrible deaths at the hands of monsters whether or not the humans go on some kind of aquatic crusade. They will be killed by ghouls and by full-blooded demons and by dragons of all kinds (many of which will not be living disguised as humans), and by sea serpents or giant octopuses or dire sharks or whatever other beasties live in the oceans of this world. When you step out of well-lit areas, away from paved roads, or off of dry land, you run the risk of being messily killed and eaten. We may consider the MUniverse to have some issues with their beliefs that deal with the sanctity of life, but these are not issues that will be solved by Mack doing something that inspires panic and racially-motivated violence in the population at large.

            Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              You seem to be missing the essential DIFFERENCE here. As in the people who die of Ghoul attacks are the ones making the conscious decision to go outside protected areas. The ones getting attacked by Merfolk or Ogre raids are basically travelers assured the best possible protection and dying anyway.

              I’ve got a friend who died by falling off a cliff into a pit of rocks, and I’ve always lived in areas with plenty of wild animals going around. Half my family was almost eaten by a hammerhead shark once. I don’t blame the shark because it’s an animal. If I found out it was sentient and one of it’s kind would have done it because my sister was alone away from the group, I’d be rightfully pissed. This is why demons that and merfolk that interact with mankind regularly are dangerous: They’ere making conscious choices that usually result in death, dismemberment, or in the case of the former rape.

              Obviously they don’t ALWAYS or HAVE TO do these things, but thats why it”s a conscious choice in the place.

              I’m not saying there’s a legal aspect to Iona, but outside that there is an irony in that the thing being used to stop someone without the will to stop eating sentients is someone else with the same issue that you put there because it happened last time.

              Thats sort of like a horse running out of the barn, so you put new horses in untethered and put an unshod and saddled horse in there to guard them.

              Current score: 0
            • bramble says:

              No, the people with the best possible protections are the ones in airships, using teleportation magic (if such is commercially available, which it may not be), or otherwise minimizing their contact with the terrain they travel through. The ones being killed and eaten are the ones relying on older, cheaper, and/or less secure methods of travel through areas known to be dangerous (ogre attacks would happen on the borders between the Magesterium and the land held by the ogres, not on heavily traveled routs within the country, and even if it isn’t common knowledge that it’s the merpeople doing it, people still have to be aware that it isn’t uncommon for ships to go missing), which is kind of the trans-continental or trans-oceanic equivalent of leaving the enchanted paths at MU to cut across campus in the dark. Sometimes it’s necessary, especially when you’re in a hurry or there’s an emergency, and most of the time you’ll probably come out ok, but if something does happen to you, you knew that was a possibility when you started.

              And the fact is, we have every indication that as merpeople go, Iona is the exception rather than the rule in how she behaves on land. The only thing that has at all implied that anyone else is hunting while on human turf is Iona’s own words, and she flat out says that she doesn’t know of anyone else hunting, just that she assumes there must be others. I put that down to her trying to justify her own behavior – in her mind, it can’t be bad if other people are doing it, and because she doesn’t believe it’s bad, it logically follows that others must be doing it.

              For what it’s worth, I do feel that hiring Embries is possibly one of the stupider moves the MU administration has made. I think it’s less like your horse analogy, and more like if you get bitten by a terrier, so you go out and get a mastiff with emotional problems to protect you. You don’t have to worry about small dogs so much anymore, but you’d better hope you can keep your big dog well fed and on a short leash. Hiring Embries was a brute-force solution to a delicate problem – the resources it takes to get and keep him could perhaps be better spent on some sort of outreach program to demonbloods to prevent them from reaching “rampage across campus” status in the first place.

              Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              Relying on older or cheaper methods can sometimes be your only choice. I mean boats have been around with us for centuries. They still get use because they’re still the most efficent way to transport large numbers of people between oceans and seas, enjoyable for pleasure crusing, and can transport larger numbers of goods. I’ve lived around boats, I’ve worked on boats, I’ve seen people use boats for every other reason.

              Just because they use airships doesn’t mean they stop using boats. Airships are bigger, expensive, and more technical(or magical as the case may be). We’ve heard of one get into an accident purley because one of the components for the AIR part of airship broke and killed a bunch of people, only sparing one main character because he was, unlike most of the MU cast, fully aware and in control of his innate abilities. At the end of the day civilians are still going to use boats in large numbers, as they do in our world. Boats aren’t going to become irrelevant any time i the future.

              People going to a dangerous border by choice are stupid and deserve what they get. People BORN near that border or have work that forces them there aren’t so lucky. If they’re really unlucky they need to rely on yet another cheaper, more common form of transportation and get attacked.

              Hell, unless you’ve got new, good air travel thats not even safe. It’s mentioned Harpies will attack civilian craft in a more blatant manner and will only stop if you go to an altitude the airship isn’t built to go at the whole trip. Even going on established paths no matter what you do something sentient is making the choice to attack you knowing full well even if they fail there will be no consequences beyond being hungry for a bit.

              Iona isn’t the friggin exception. We see merfolk tales and legends, we see them talking in their environment, we see two of them every day as the only ones trying to make lasting social contact. They think it’s their RIGHT to devour the(contextually) innocent. They think that every race was put there for it. It takes an aging merfolk scholar a lifetime of contemplation and thought, talking with spirits rarely interacting with anyone and consulting dozens of sources, to think MAYBE this isn’t the case. Even he doesn’t seem one hundred percent sure on the matter. Not enough to do anything about it other than sit there and talk to people who he knows won’t do anything either.

              Emberies as a situation is even stupider when you factor in Callahan. It’s like being bitten by a jack russel terrier. Then you buy an ancient Cacasian Shepard, a breed thats set in it’s ways and agressive to anything it hasn’t imprinted on early in it’s lifetime. So far you’ve got a few bites but nothings infected like last time, but he seems to be getting more agressive and defensive.

              So to guard the expensive purebred from harming you, you buy a mutt thats part grey wolf, part dingo, part jackal, and part mastiff. This one bites you so often that you have to put a muzzle on it and pray it doesn’t do too much damage with the claws, or go off and remember it’s supposed to be guarding everyone from the wolfhound next town over.

              And through ALL of this you fail to notice that you’ve got some thick, smelly steak sauce all over your exposed leg.

              Current score: 0
            • Zergonapal says:

              What the fuck are you arguing about Drudge?
              There aren’t any Ogre attacks, did you miss the bit where it was mentioned that the empire actually has a treaty with the Ogres? So yeah any ogre running about eating people in the empire lands would be an outlaw and if you traveled in ogre lands it would obviously be under the protection of the ogre rulers who you would pay a safe passage fee to and probably in the company of mercenaries ogre or otherwise to protect you from ogre outlaws.
              No such treaty exists with the merfolk, But the merfolk rulers have agreed amongst themselves that they do not actively attack shipping, Though anyone in the water is lunch.
              As for Mack she made a remarkably stellar effort to control herself when she was starving and only lashed out when she was cornered. Anyone picking on her would quickly find out why its a bad idea to pick on someone who is as strong as a half ogre (clearly you missed the bit where she intimidated the fuck out of Belinda and even acknowledged that she could stand up to Victor but. a. choose to submit and b. it would have demolished the floor) and can set herself, her opponent and anyone nearby on fire with demonic fire no less.
              Finally we have Embries who isn’t guarding anything, he is just being his regular draconic self. Everyone is assuming he will step in and fry some fish, but I think he will just sit by and see how it plays out.

              Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              What the fuck I’m on about is the fact that

              A: There’s more than one ogre group, Kilrest itself is only neutral.

              and

              B: The fact that Viktor’s dad was one such victim, only treated comparativly well but eventually died from it anyway.

              Steff went there, she confirmed they were still killing and eating people with no mentioned repercussions.

              I COULD be wrong but I don’t recall the merfolk having such agreement. The first mention was of them attacking ships. Where was it mentioned they DON’T attack ships?

              It WAS mentioned about Emberis guarding against crazy half demons, he was there right after a half demon attacked. This was the main reason he was hired over anyone else. This is explicitly stated. It’s his JOB to stop students who go crazy and try to eat their peers. Because thats closer to a school shooting than a bear attack.

              Current score: 0
            • bramble says:

              Nah, Callahan’s more like having a possibly rabid skunk move in under your floorboards that your dog has no interest in getting rid of. Embries was hired in direct response to the half-demon student’s rampage, but Callahan showed up on her own a few years later and bribed Embries into hiring her. She’s not there to “guard” Embries. She’s there because she feels like any job where she gets to rough up mouthy kids is a good gig, and maybe because she’s got a bit of a complex about letting people go around without being able to defend themselves. Maybe if Embries stepped out of line she’d do something, but it’s just as likely that she’d sit back and watch with a bag of popcorn.

              Boats have been around for millenia, and are still in common use. That doesn’t mean that we are sailing around in 18th century clipper ships or the Kon Tiki. Similarly, if I want to travel overland from California to New York, I have several options – and if I decide it’s worth the risk of taking my junky car with the faulty transmission, it’s no one’s fault but my own if I get stranded in the middle of Wyoming. If I decide to take a train or a plane and ship whatever I can’t carry with me, that’s going to cost me some money. I am not, however, going to make the trip in a Conestoga wagon, and as a single female whose knowledge of self defense consists of knowing which way to point the pepperspray, I’m not going to be hitchhiking across the country. If I don’t have a vehicle I believe can get me there, and I can’t afford to take other transportation, I’m probably not going to make the trip.

              I am very certainly not about to go hike the Iranian/Pakistani border without very good reason, which is about what you’d have to do in the MUniverse before you were in any real danger of an ogre attack. Yes, there are multiple groups of ogres, not all of which have as good of treaties with the Imperium as Kilrest does, and they’re certainly worth keeping track of politically, but they’re not going to be an immediate, day-to-day threat to anyone living within the Imperium.

              Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              I threw in Callahan because I thought it sounded good really, in retrospect it doesn’t work. Callahan would either step back or go “fuck yeah” at the opportunity to wipe their ass on eternity.

              On the second point, you’re missing the issue. You KNOW that risk most of the time, but are unware of the others. You think the worst that could happen is being stranded for a while. To use this allegory, the moment you break down someone comes up and shanks you in the stomach and eats your kidneys. I mean, they just think “if something goes wrong, we’ll just hit the life boats until rescue”, but then what they may think is rescue grows claws and fangs and devours you alive.

              The majority of the imperium maybe, but then there’s the ones to which they ARE. Remember the people born there. The ones raised there. The ones who’s work takes them there as well. They aren’t going to like that your response to uncle joe getting kidnapped is “it’s his fault for not leaving”.

              Current score: 0
          • Konso says:

            I feel it needs to be mentioned that Mack has never changed shape or form, even slightly. If you closely read the description of that scene Mack is running *uphill* on all fours. This is quite possible for a human and can be even faster than on two legs if the slope is strong enough. Her joints never changed position nor did they shrink to make the gait appropriate, it was Mack’s immense strength that made it seem like an inhuman (if uncomfortable) act.
            On another, related note. Mack’s natural state is flameless, she has to will her fire to rise. When she was hungry or possessed she willed it subconsciously, but willed it none the less. This is entirely unlike Iona who is returning to her natural state when she changes appearance. Mack’s fire is an inherited ability not a state of being. You wouldn’t say that Pala is disguising herself every time she doesn’t have a storm above her head. Possessing a racial trait does not mean you have to express it constantly to be in your “natural” form.

            Current score: 0
      • Zergonapal says:

        Mackenzie is pretty smart, but she is not so prescient that she can predict what will happen if she reveals Mermaids are yet another man-eating race. She also doesn’t understand Mercy’s relationship to the government. In fact I don’t think she is even aware of one. But I think she at least clued in to the fact that a. Mercy is batshit crazy (wants to raise a demonic army and is unfazed by her breeders predilection to eat their mates). b. is damn dangerous (I think even Sooni would pick up on that one). and c. if unmasked would probably stop playing nice and just up and abduct her if given good cause.
        Oh and about Mack’s dad? I think it would be a bad idea if the world was to know she is in semi-regular contact with a full-blooded demon.

        Current score: 0
        • Marx says:

          I agree with Zergonopal.

          Also, If Mack decided to tell everyone that Iona is actually quite dangerous to those with enough human blood for her to count as “tasty”, there’s no guarantee that even half the dorm would believe her, let alone people outside the dorm with infrequent or no contact at all to the mermaids. On the other hand, almost EVERYBODY seems to know about the “evil half-demon who’s an affront to Khersis and all that is good” – and demons are said to be feasting on humans, no matter how accurate the assumption might or might not be. This in turn would probably draw unwanted attention to said half-demon, and I’m pretty sure that even she can figure out that if she gets a lot of attention, she gets a lot of hostile attention as well. Her credo over course of the last several years seems to have been “stay below the radar”, and I’m pretty sure she won’t be willing to change that in the near future.

          Current score: 0
        • Drudge says:

          She doesn’t NEED to understand Mercy and the government. She needs to understand Mercy and Religion. Something Mercy herself goes around trumpeting.

          Current score: 0
      • Andy says:

        “Meanwhile she’s got an offensive spell based around an element they’ve got no experience with that’d break their enchantments anyway.”
        Please tell me you’re not referring to her innate fire abilities. Especially given that in epemental rock-paper-scissors, fire always comes out worse off when going against water.

        Current score: 0
        • Drudge says:

          Regular fire maybe. But demon fire breaks or damages enchantments, which are mackenzie’s one weakness since she has no marks from merfangs to the crotch and no effects from strangling from Callahan. Literally the only reason she so much as scraped her knee is because the path she was on at that particular moment happened to be enchanted.

          It in and of itself doesn’t need to kill so much as break or damage equipment, something it’s supposed to do and mackenzie is noted and says she’ll be relying on in the future.

          Current score: 0
          • Andy says:

            It’s not full hellfire, though. It may not be as effective. Besides, where was it established that hellfire does such a thing?

            Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              Mackenzie states as such when developing weapon based spells. She does state it doesn’t break as well as normal hellfire, but the point is kind of moot since right after she developed a spiral version of the spell that seems like it’d hit two or three times as much and have a wider surface area.

              Current score: 0
      • Iain... no longer. says:

        I think this is more about you wanting the story to actually progress than about the best way that it could all work out.
        Unfortunately even if it worked out perfectly… it would ruin the story. It doesn’t matter if it would work or if there’s stuff you’re forgetting, the basic fact is that if everything worked out okay it’d leave very little intrigue for this story to progress. At one point this might have been a story about personal growth, etc, but it’s given way to villains and misadventures. Taking away that just means the plot breaks down and there’s fewer chapters to write and release.
        TL;DR – If you’re waiting for a quick resolution, founded on good reasoning or not, you’re in the wrong place I’m afraid. Quick resolutions don’t sell.
        Come join me at “Timespeaker dynasties”. It’s kinda cool. =D

        Current score: 0
  6. M.M. says:

    Callahan, evil? I see her as a sort of chaotic neutral.

    Current score: 0
  7. Dwight says:

    I’m pretty sure this grammar is off:

    “I would rather go down and hang out,” she decided. “Then stay up here and argue about it. But I would like it best if the hanging out were somewhere else.”

    “Then” should be “than” unless Two really does want to first hang out and then next return to the room to argue…

    Current score: 0
  8. tgr says:

    I doubted Trina was anywhere near as strong or skilled as she was, but it wouldn’t take much power or skilled at all to pop the lock since it was easy as turning the knob on the inside of the door.

    should be “wouldn’t take much power or skill at all” and “it was as easy as turning the knob”.

    Furthermore, as much as I’d like to read the Oru-Shiel dialogue in full, I think the cut-off point is just fine 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      I would agree on “skilled” but not necessarily on “easy as/ as easy as.” The first reads oddly, but the second is a not unusual informal construction. I’d just chalk it up to Mack’s inner dialog.

      Current score: 0
  9. Zathras IX says:

    Who knows what danger
    Lurks in one’s guard assignment?
    One’s Shadow knows! (laugh)

    Current score: 0
  10. Oitur says:

    “…where Pala had lain down on her side next to the small folk…”

    I’m very happy about Pala’s increased role in the story. Please, AE, don’t let her fade back into the woodwork after (if) Mack’s body doesn’t need guarding any more. Maybe she’ll move into Harlowe?

    I’m even missing Sooni.

    Current score: 0
  11. Tigger says:

    I think it’s time we stopped feeding Drudge – as a friend used to say “Stop feeding the trolls – it makes them too fat to leave!” Drudge appears to be set in his ways, much like the dog he mentioned earlier, and nothing we say is going to convince him that it’s a bad idea to run around telling everyone everything, or that it’s quite likely to get Mack herself killed.

    Current score: 0
    • Evil Toast says:

      You kidding? The comments are almost as interesting as the story. People are finally talking about their theories on the Mu world and predicting what could happen. Just because you don’t agree with him doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chat.

      Comments have largely been spelling corrections for the past year, and since the forum went down there isn’t really any place for people to chat about the story as a whole.

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t want thing to go back to the same single sentence comments, corrections and the obligatory Zarthas quip.

      Current score: 0
  12. lolCat says:

    Is the story above or below the comment line? Cause I’m kinda confused by these massive declarations, explainations, complaints, reasonings, and such… I’m just glad Sooni’s back. Swishy-Tail FTW. Haha

    Current score: 0
  13. peter says:

    I love the new email notification feature, thanks

    And I love that people have go involved in the story that they’re doing logical extrapolations of how the MU universe [i[should [/i] work.

    Current score: 0
  14. Zergonapal says:

    I think Drudge is just looking for a reason to dump it, I think he is an idiot and I’m an idiot for arguing with him. If anything I’m guilty of projecting the mercenary motivations of the ogres of Warhammer on the geopolitical makeup of the MUniverse ogres when even AE hasn’t even bothered to go into much depth herself.
    Though I am reasonably certain the Feejee mentioned that Merfolk do not attack ships themselves.
    So Drudge, if you want to go, just go, no one is forcing you to read this.
    To AE, if I may be so bold I would suggest that you could take a page from Errant Story and write some short interludes about the lands and or cities involved or mentioned in Tales of MU.

    Current score: 0
    • Drudge says:

      …you know this post was kind of unnecessary. I mean you’ve basically made a reply saying “I’m not going to reply anymore, also I keep comparing them to unrelated settings ogres and won’t go back and check my facts”.

      The side stories has kind of been done, but they haven’t been done often in a while. We’ve seen Nagakin lands, Gnomish Lands, Merfolk lands, and some various human cities and subcultures.

      Of course aside from the ones we paid for, those haven’t updated due to the updates becoming more and more infrequent due to AE’s declining health.

      Current score: 0
  15. Nick says:

    In response to Iona wanting to have her cake and eat it too, I think she KNOWS the consequences if she gets caught or (more likely) chooses the wrong person as prey. But knowing and understanding are not the same things. She grew up in a society that has much less strict guidelines for when it was and was not acceptable to eat humans compared to the deepwater merfolk. So she understands what it is to be a top level predator with not so great impulse control.

    What she does not understand is that at a place like MU, there are plenty of things, student and otherwise, that could skewer her, eat her, or fry her to a crisp, without her having any warning. She KNOWS this is likely the case, but she doesn’t actually understand it, and as a result, she’s decided to take her chances. Live as a monster, die as a monster; she won’t get away with it too many times before it’s her time.

    This is why it’s not quite comparable to a serial killer, tempting as the comparison is – for it to be a valid comparison, we’d have to live in a world with no gun control and enough risks that the average person you walk past is both packing and trained with a handgun, and could for all you know have much, much worse at their disposal. I don’t think most serial killers would last long in a world like that, and I don’t think Iona will be lasting too long in hers.

    Current score: 0
  16. Readaholic says:

    Drudge, I think any attempt at the xenocide of an entire species could get very risky, in a world with Gods to get involved. Thus, a policy of “let’s go wipe out the ogres and merfolk” would run a very real risk of triggering the MU equivalent of WW3. I suspect the presence of the Gods of the various species acts as a kind of Mutual Assured Destruction policy.

    Current score: 0
    • Drudge says:

      Of course, this relies on the idea that various species have been INFORMED of this deal. The only race humanity was explicitly told not to do this to were the ones that were the direct children of a major, powerful goddess, even then it took a rather large number of deaths to cause it to measure up. This Goddess doesn’t seem to care about the mass deaths of anyone else, or any deaths in particular. Even MACKENZIE noticed that mother Khale, a nature goddess, dissapeared right before a natural disaster kills a bunch of humans, and doesn’t seem to be answering any questions. If there’s an act for any races that aren’t directly divine, nobody’s bothered to tell these races.

      I mean, I’m not saying that gods wouldn’t get involved. I’m not saying they DON’T have some kind of deal going on. But the serious lack of communication dispite Mother Khales favorites being on the line until the last minute, followed by her lack of concern about their subjugation later, makes me think that gods won’t act or react until a lot of corpses get made.

      And of course the people themselves aren’t going to like it if they’re told to ignore the whole “devouring us alive” deal. I mean lets face it: The chief human god isn’t answering any calls in any form. Mother Khale has uncomfortable questions piling up around her. The elven gods seem to have been gone for so long save one for the subterranean elven gods that nobody would even think to ask them. We’re PRAYING the Goblin Gods don’t show up to give their opinion. The Owains are gods of a very minor race in the grand scheme of things. We don’t know enough about the Yokan gods to guess what they want.

      Meanwhile all the other gods are at best equal in SOME parts of the world and in at least one case aren’t liking the amount of athority they have on race wide situations.

      Meaning IF this kind of treaty exists, whoever is in charge of dealing with it may not be there in time, if there at all. If say, Kharolinus were to be the one giving out the order you can bet his athority would be called into question compared to his brother outside one area.

      And of course every non god major immortal power source has strained at best relations. Gods seem to be blowing off every other Greater Power and group when they try to act civil. I mean, Pendragon and associates serves a different master altogether, let alone other similar groups.

      Before and IF anyone does anything outside maybe some rather brutal and shortsighted mob justice, there’s going to be a lot of discussion on the international, and interpersonal level. All of this is going to go right under the gods but go right at the level of demons, dragons, and everything else messing about in the mortal world that has a lot of power and needs a diversion.

      Besides, they’re a bunch of fanged man eaters difficult to access and seem to have unknown sub variations that could be even more deadly. You honestly think Coach Callahan has a better way to pass a slow weekend ;p?

      Current score: 0
      • erianaiel says:

        Do you honestly think that a god in the MUniverse would take kindly to a concerted effort to wipe out his or her followers? And do you honestly believe the other gods will prevent him or her from providing some aid? They know that if any race gets away with something like that there is a more than even chance their own followers are the next targets for genocide.
        At the very least the other gods would force Khersis and other human gods to withdraw their blessings for the duration of the conflict so that the battle is at least even. After all, if they are not allowed to help their followers then Khersis is not allowed to help his either.

        In addition to that, other than the mermaids there are currently -at least (*)- three other man eating races present on the MU campus: (Half) Ogres, (Half) Demons and a greater dragon. All these species are known to have killed humans in the past year and nobody seems inclined to prevent their presence. Instead, all students are required to bear enchanted weapons and learn how to defend themselves. And we are talking about a university where several courses -expect- a certain percentage of students to be killed each year. The only reason why Leda’s death made such an impact is because it shows that there is a new kind of monster that can bypass the protections already in place.

        (*I have not seen mention of Orcs (who may be interested in enslaving humans rather than eat them) and there is some question about how the Goblinoids deal with stray humans (but given the lack of resources in their underground warrens it is not unrealistic to assume they end up in the cooking pot). There are some other exotic races like cyclopses (or was it minotaurs) who are said to be monstrous even compared to other monsters).

        Current score: 0
        • Zergonapal says:

          The thing is though asides from Half-Demons who have strict dietary requirements none of the other races are necessarily man-eating. Its just that those races don’t mind a bit of human in their diet.
          Victor only ripped a guys arm off because he was pressuring him and I think humans have a pretty solid understanding that if you wander off the beaten track bad things can happen to you and are cool with that, at a meta level.
          As for Gods and conflicts, for want of information I imagine there is a gentlemens agreement not to get overtly involved in conflicts in the interest of not staging Ragnarok before its time.

          Current score: 0
          • Drudge says:

            Viktor mentioned ogres don’t eat people for the taste. Given how impractical farming people is and the fact that they fight back more than cattle that makes you wonder why they DO eat them in the first place. They full well might not, but the informaation makes me wonder.

            That wasn’t wandering off the beaten track with Viktor. This was him agreeing to something and reacting violently when asked about his end of the bargain. To prove it wasn’t a one off thing he ripped off another arm later.

            As for those agreements: Callahan and the guy who formed Hydra company mention all the times the world was nearly doomed in the last few centuries and how many races and gods have been wiped out. Callahan alone has repelled three attempts on the giants to reclaim the world, completely wiped out three entire races without divine retribution of note, tried to kill three gods, SUCCEEDED in killing a god humans recognise she confirms was VERY old. She was one person in a team of nine equally bad, at least one of which is also active and bidding for the title of Main Antagonist.

            I believe I’m justified in doubting the gods effectiveness in general in averting anything.

            Current score: 0
        • Drudge says:

          I was referring to the whole “who gods would REACT” in terms of gods, not which races eat people. We haven’t seen mention of goblins eating people.

          I don’t think gods would like it. That was the POINT of the post. How they’ll ACT and how it plays out was what I was getting at. I have a feeling Khale has some questions to answer concerning the ocean before she’s trusted with the relationship and sentient lives fully. Khersis is MIA, and this is the sort of thing that strikes me as pissing off him and his followers. Kharolinus and Ana have barely any athority compared to Khersis, and have much, MUCH less sway(the latter having her divinity called into question by several mortals). Khaline is the goddess of Justice, if she seriously lets this side that raises a whole lot of questions. If Owain cares about people on boats enough I seriously doubt anyone will listen to him, what with his followers being barely noticed and in rather marginal areas.

          And again, the TIME is another major factor. It’s implied a large percentage of Khales children, her direct favored and chosen children above all her worshippers, died before she could even react. If things made by her own will don’t get that kind of swift reaction I doubt other gods are going to react very quickly to mortal deaths.

          Current score: 0
  17. Riley says:

    “The Owains are gods of a very minor race in the grand scheme of things.”
    You know, Sauron thought the same thing…

    Current score: 0
  18. lolCat says:

    Careful Æ, Your story is being out shined by the comments section! Haha-nya

    Current score: 0
  19. CB says:

    Does anyone else find it funny that Mackenzie doesn’t like Shiel because she’s *argumentative*?

    Current score: 0
  20. Cedjuct MacMan says:

    Two is the character I like best. She reminds me of myself. She wants to do what she is told to do and I want to be who I am supposed to be.

    Current score: 0
  21. Arancaytar says:

    “Well, just don’t make too many allowances,” I said.

    “I won’t,” she said, then gave me a hug and said, “I only make so many allowances for you because you’re like a sister to me.”

    Going back to the early years I’m always surprised to be reminded how oblivious and dense Mack could be.

    Current score: 0