467: Fishful Thinking

on November 8, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Colorful Metaphors For Headaches Are Employed

One of the lessons I hadn’t expected to learn at college was that a storm doesn’t have to be particularly loud or large to wake you up. Sometimes, it’s merely enough for it to be contained entirely within your bedroom.

The other lesson… the real lesson behind that… was that there were some things, some people, that you couldn’t upset without consequence. When I’d been learning not to disrespect Pala’s intelligence, I might have also learned to respect her power. It wasn’t just that she was big, relative to non-giants, or that she was physically strong. She was elemental. The power that ran crackling through her veins was of the same primal source as the fire that ran in mine, the power that had shaped the world and that… according to ancient druidic tradition and more than a few modern thaumatologists… would one day crack it open like an egg.

Mariel was also connected to elemental powers… I had to wonder what could happen if Puddy pushed her too far.

When Pala was upset enough in the dream world to lash out in the real one, the chaos that followed was… well, chaos. It was the only word for it, really. The downpour was mercifully brief, but the damage it did was impressive.

Pala was mortified. Ian was very confused… he seemed to be having the hardest time of any of us of managing the transition between waking and sleeping states. Two spent about half a minute in shock staring at the wreckage of the bedding and the sodden books on our desks and the standing water seeping out the door, and then she went to work. After a few seconds’ thought, I did, too… Pala needed consoling but I had a feeling it would be easier to do so when the mess was gone, and we needed to do some damage control… there was no way that the rest of the floor wouldn’t have heard the tempest.

I didn’t have a thousand and one household spells like Two did, but I could shuffle elements around a bit. I pulled a bunch of the water up off the floor and sublimated it back into the air. It made it kind of muggy in the room, and there was a bit of diminishing returns in terms of effort… the more full of water the air became, the harder it became to do it any more. Two seemed to be getting that under control with a more comprehensive dehydrating spell, though, so I let her worry about the rest of the water on the floor while I tried to pull some out of the mattresses.

My blanket curtains had ended up piled in a puddle on the floor ,and would probably need to go through the dryer. When we had things mostly under control, I opened up the door and evaporated the water that had spread out through the hall. Strangely, no doors opened up and no curious heads poked out. It seemed that the influence of the fish-beast was still being felt by the others.

Two had turned her attention to our school things. She was holding her hands out over them and frowning in concentration. Simply taking the water out of a textbook or stack of notes wouldn’t necessarily save it, she had to do some complex restorative spells. Fortunately she’d done this sort of thing many times, when an important tome had coffee or soup spilled on it… how did I know that?

It seemed like the fish-beast’s influence was still being felt by us, too.

I realized that none of us had said anything since we’d woken up. That was weird.

“Um…” I said, experimentally. The others looked at me. I needed to say something… things needed to be said. Two was calculating the amount of time it would take her to save our books and things… the most important thing after the water had been contained… and it would be hours of work before she could get to the mattresses.

Pala was completely soured on the idea of spending the night in the dorms, and Ian wasn’t very keen on spending the rest of the night in Harlowe, either. I could tell what they were thinking, but nobody was saying anything. Nobody except for Two was doing anything. Someone needed to…

“Let’s go stay in my room tonight,” Ian said, taking my wrists in his hand. “Pala can walk us over there before she goes… back to her place. That way Two will only have to fix one mattress before she goes back to sleep. You can use ours if you want, Two. I think it’s a bit drier.”

“Okay,” Two and I both said at the same time.

“O… okie dokie,” Pala said, sniffling. “I’m sorry, I don’t… I haven’t… it’s been…”

“Not your fault,” Ian said. “Nothing that happened tonight was normal.”

It was cold and dark outside, and we were all slightly damp, but getting away from Harlowe felt a bit like stepping out from under a dark cloud and into the bright sun. There was also a weird hush, like we’d stepped outside of a noisy room, or all the conversation in a crowd had died at the same time. I didn’t look up to see if the eyeless fish-beast was still prowling the skies overhead. None of us did.

“Goodnight,” Ian said to Pala when we reached our… his dorm. “Thanks for the extra watch shift, but I’m sure we’ll be fine the rest of the night.”

She nodded, sniffling. The stone spear she carried seemed an oddly adult touch compared to the stuffed pig and her plain cotton pajamas. She was a girl very obviously carrying the traits of womanhood, but not yet comfortable with them. It made me think once again about how weird and in-between it was to be a teenager at college.

In some cultures, or even in this culture during an earlier age, we would’ve been considered adults by the age of 18 and 19… and some of the people we’d gone to high school with were out there working and getting married and possibly even working on a second kid already. Ian would still be his parents’ “kid” until well into his twenties, if he didn’t get himself disowned. On the other hand, I could only coast along so much longer before I joined the work force in a real way.

I wasn’t sure if the fact that one of my best prospects was as a nightclub performer was weight for the adult end of the scales or not.

A few moments after Ian and I headed inside, we heard a single crack of thunder that I assumed marked Pala’s passing back to wherever it was that she stayed when she wasn’t on campus. I was feeling pretty sleepy, now that the shock of excitement was fading. The bright and modern-looking interior of Weyland Hall felt a bit like an assault on my eyes, and I was grateful to reach the more muted environment of Ian’s room. I’d never noticed that the walls were wood paneled, or something that looked like wood paneling. But the soft earthen tones and the natural grain pattern felt soothing and restful, a nice compromise between the brightly lit halls and the darkness outside.

Ian’s roommate was not in… he’d opened the door without knocking and turned on the light without a thought. I noticed that the other bed had sheets but no pillow or blankets, and there were only a few items on the other dresser. If Ian was thinking about his roommate and his absence, I couldn’t pick up on it, or anything else… maybe things were getting back to normal, or maybe he was just too tired to think.

We got into bed and that was all that we knew of the world for a few more hours.

The next morning I woke up feeling like my head had been rented out to a dwarven band auditioning new percussionists. I groaned, and my voice sounded horrible… all low and growly, and it echoed weirdly in my ear. Then I realized that I was hearing Ian, groaning right alongside me.

I felt very exposed… his bed was just a regular bed, exposed to the open air. He only had one bedspread for a blanket. Even with all the signs that his roommate had abandoned the place, the thought that there was another guy with a key to this room who technically could have walked in at any time and still could hit me like a blast of cold air, which was another thing that actually was hitting me as Ian shifted around and moved the blanket.

“Oh, man… how much did we drink last night?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I said. “We weren’t drinking.”

He heaved himself up into a sitting position.

“You don’t remember getting drunk?” he said.

“No. Don’t you remember the dream? The owl-turtle thing? The fish-beast?”

“Yeah… kind of,” he said. “But things were kind of weird before that, weren’t they? I mean, if I wasn’t drinking, then that means that I really did… well, I guess I wasn’t drinking. I remember feeling drunk… and I really have that ‘morning after’ feeling right now… but I don’t remember getting beer, or drinking it.”

“You really did what?” I asked, and his face purpled a bit.

“Did the… um… sex seem different to you?” he asked. “At all?”

It was my turn to blush as the intensity of the moment… those moments… returned to me. All I could do was nod.

“Sorry,” he said.

“I liked it,” I said at about the same time.

“Oh,” he said. “Oh… good. I’m just not sure where all that came from. I don’t usually… that is, I don’t really… um. Do you think it’s possible somebody spiked the pizza? I mean, there was that thing where your shampoo got adulterated, or whatever…”

“I think it started before the pizza,” I said.

“So you felt it, too.” He sounded relieved.

“I felt something,” I said. My mind went back to all the things that had flashed through it the night before… the uncharacteristic ones, the ones that were sort of characteristic, the ones that were probably really very characteristic but maybe usually a little more deeply buried… “I felt a lot of things, to be honest. I’m… not sure how I feel about them.”

Ian nodded, then looked like he regretted the movement.

“It was… intense,” he said.”The sex, I mean.”

“The whole night was,” I said.

“But the sex as more so, right?” he asked. He sounded a bit defensive about that, but I let it go, because he was right. There had been nothing else that compared to the sex in a night that was one long string of anomalies.

I tried to focus on specifics a little… there was a lot of detail at first, and less later on. It was kind of hard to focus… my head was full of thick cobwebs, or wet cement, like some bizarre arachnid creature from the elemental plane of earth had been setting up a nest in my brain. One thing seemed frighteningly clear to me, if only by omission.

“Were we… um… did we use a ring?” I asked. “At all?”

Ian’s suddenly bloodless complexion told me that he was not remembering the same thing I was not remembering.

“It was just oral, though,” he said. “That’s pretty safe, right?”

“I think so,” I said. “I mean, I think it’s pretty safe… it wasn’t just oral, though. That’s where it started, but then you… we… um.”

“We’ll just… watch for symptoms,” he said. “Or signs. You know, and we can have you divined… not divine-divined, but you know what I mean. Divinated? Divinationed? In case you’re…”

“I’m less worried about that than I am diseases,” I said, though a tendril of worry about that was working its way through my skull. “And I’m more worried about you than me. I’m pretty, you know, resistant to things.”

“Yeah, but I can just have a cure disease thrown at me and be done,” he said. “What do they even have for arcane remedies?”

“I… really don’t know,” I said. I hated to admit ignorance on a subject, but I wasn’t really even clear on what a disease was, at a fundamental level. In my defense, it wasn’t something I’d ever had to think about. Did they have a form in and of themselves, or were they more like a collection of meta-traits that could become attached to an individual? “I suppose… well, it could be complicated. I don’t really know.”

Ian was already nodding.

“You’ll have to go into the healing center to find out,” he said.

“Okay,” I said.

He was right… I knew it… but agreeing with him somehow felt easier than it had before. I didn’t feel the same sense of interconnectedness that had made the night before so strange even before the bizarre dreams started showing up, but I felt a different kind of openness all the same.

Ian was staring at me.

“What?” I said

“Um… are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“You just looked like you had something more to say,” he said.

“No, I really didn’t,” I said.

He looked at me like he was trying to look through me… and he looked kind of genuinely confused about what he was seeing, or not seeing. I could sympathize. Maybe it was just the headache, but he felt really hard to read.

“Huh,” he said.

“What?”

“You usually have more to say,” he said.

“No, I agree with you.”

“You still usually have more to say.”

“Yeah, well… you’re right. I don’t have anything to add,” I said.

Amaranth had always wanted me to be open-minded… given that the viewpoints I’d brought with me to school had been pretty parochial and also kind of intensely self-loathing, I couldn’t say that this was a bad idea. But I’d never really seen the point of how being open-minded could be a good thing in and of itself… if you were right about something, you were right… right?

And even if you couldn’t be sure that you were… well, you couldn’t be sure that anyone else was. Not without stopping and thinking about it, examining things carefully… examining people carefully. I hadn’t been like that as a child… in fact, I’d been really kind of credulous, all too ready to believe whatever I was told. My mother had never done anything to dissuade me from believing things… I could see looking back that she’d begun nudging me towards critical thinking, at least near the end of my time with her, but ultimately I’d learned the habit of distrust from my grandmother.

My grandmother had treated her mind like an intellectual fortress, a towering keep protected by her own iron will. She’d made sure no idea get within a three yard radius of her brain unless she trusted the source.

But being so skeptical… so closed off… took work. It required constant vigilance. It wasn’t just enough to be on the defensive. Ideas had to be assailed, attacked, tested for weakness. This could look a lot like attacking the person who was bringing them. Letting my guard down felt good… letting Ian in felt good.

What was the point of making him constantly proving himself? That was what it boiled down to. In my grandmother’s world, there were only a few narrowly interpreted sources worth trusting. I needed to find a wider place to stand.

“Well… if you’re sure…” he said.

“Sure of what?” I asked, thinking I must have missed something.

“That you agree with me,” he said.

“You know what else I’m sure of?” I asked him.

“What?”

“Confidence is sexy,” I said. “I… like it when you take control.”

“Oh?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said, lowering my eyes.

“Well… you didn’t seem to mind grabbing the reins last night,” he said. “I mean, I liked that, too… but it surprised me. You aren’t normally that… self-assured?”

I blushed. Self-assured? That was one way of looking at it, I supposed.

“I felt like a passenger,” I said. “Like there wasn’t much for me to do but go along for the ride.”

“It felt like you were doing plenty.”

I shook my head.

“I was just lying there,” I said. “Really.”

“Are you sure? Because I have some pretty specific memories of you sitting up.”

“Even then, I was just following your.. doing what you wanted,” I said. When I thought back on it, I felt like he’d been giving me instructions, but when I remembered what actually happened it was obvious he’d been silent.

Something was definitely going on last night, before the fish-dreams,” Ian said. “I didn’t feel like myself… I mean, I didn’t feel like anyone else but I don’t think everything I felt was coming from me.”

“But you seemed so self-assured,” I said.

He nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s really just it… I don’t normally feel that way.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. “The way you’ve been handling yourself lately… going into the arena and all… you seem to have a lot more confidence lately.”

“Well, yeah, but… I spend hours psyching myself up to feel that way, but it doesn’t just happen. It was like I had my confidence in myself, plus some more. Something was definitely going on.”

“I think maybe it was all the same thing,” I said. “Barriers coming down… you know?”

“So… what… I was feeling you?” he asked.

“Or we were feeling us,” I said. “I don’t know. Maybe things were just bleeding together so much that it would be impossible to sort out who was really thinking what.”

“You know, I’m not sure if I’d like to believe that or not,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“Some of the things that went through my head… well, they weren’t exactly what you’d call ‘gentlemanly’,” he said. “If you’re right, then that means maybe you heard them, which is probably not a good thing, but maybe they weren’t entirely my thoughts, which… well, now that I’m saying this I’m not sure there’s a good to be found in there.”

“It was good sex,” I said. “Thoughts and all.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I don’t know… I don’t think it would have gone quite that far in a million years otherwise, even if we’d, you know, talked about what we wanted or whatever, but… well, to put it kind of bluntly I feel like I got what I wanted. Did you?”

“Um… yes,” he said. “I guess I could say that I did.”

“Don’t say it if you don’t mean it,” I said.

“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s hard to know your own mind when it’s overlapping with other people’s… I mean, I can kind of remember some of the shit that I said when we went outside to talk and I don’t think that was all me.”

“It definitely wasn’t me,” I said.

“Yeah, I agree… we were entirely less on the same page than we were later,” Ian said. “I just don’t think we were entirely in our own head’s. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. What about you… was everything you were saying making sense to you?”

I stopped and thought about it… I’d felt like I was being pretty reasonable at the time, and I still felt that way. But when I really thought about the specifics of the conversation…

“Oops,” I said.

“What oops?”

“Oops, I completely said a bunch of other things and forgot what I’d wanted to tell you in private in the first place,” I said.

“So you think you were just picking up a bunch of stuff from other people, too?” he asked.

“I’m not really sure,” I said. “That really could have gone either way… I mean, I do sort of have an ability to go off on tangents when I disagree with someone. Anyway, is that what you think happened?”

“You said it: barriers coming down,” Ian said. “If we could share dreams, and desires… why not thoughts? Opinions?”

“But wouldn’t we have been in agreement with each other, then?” I asked. “If we were just picking up stuff in the environment…”

“Nobody gave me the instruction manual or rulebook for this stuff,” Ian said. “And with any luck it won’t matter because it won’t happen again. Anyway, we’re just getting sidetracked again… what were you going to tell me?”

“It’s about Iona,” I said. “She was definitely the… one. And she’s not planning on stopping, since she thinks she’s getting away with it. She tried to give me a kind of ultimatum, to join her, or… be next.”

Thinks she’s getting away with it? Tried to give you an ultimatum?”

“Like I said last night, I really don’t think it’s over,” I said. “She’s not going to be allowed to just roam free, so the ultimatum isn’t going to matter in the long run.”

“Or it’s going to matter a hell of a lot in the short run,” Ian said. “It’s not like you’ve got her timetable and… whoever’s… timetable to compare.”

“No, I don’t,” I said. “But it’s in someone else’s hands and I’d like to keep it there.”

“So you’re just going to refuse to deal with it. You’re just going to stand by and do nothing?”

“It’s not something I should have to,” I said. “I’m a bystander in all this. Doesn’t that entitle me to stand by?”

“Not if it leads to someone being hurt or killed… especially when there’s a good chance it’ll be you,” he said.

“Funny, I think that means it should be more up to me whether I do something or not,” I said.

“You don’t just belong to yourself,” Ian said. “If you get… if something happens to you… it’s going to hurt me, and Amaranth, and Two, and everyone else who cares about you.”

“Well, as I see it my choice is to be in the way of a lone predator whose days are numbered or in the way of an Imperial cover-up,” I said. “If you think you can see a safer place to stand…”

“But you don’t know that anything’s actually going to be done about Iona, or when, or how,” Ian said. “For all you know she’s going to be recruited into some kind of black-ops team and given license to do what she pleases on her own time as long as she does it quietly and does what she’s told.”

“I think that’s a little far-fetched,” I said.

“You’re the one using the phrase ‘Imperial cover-up’,” he said.

“Because I watched agents of the Imperium covering something up,” I said. “It’s kind of a leap to go from there to a world where sinister spy agencies recruit women with special abilities for covert operations.”

“I’m just saying, anything’s possible,” Ian said. “We’re dealing with something bigger than either one of us. Anyway, we’re just having the same argument again now…”

“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s still kind of hard to think.”

“Yeah, my skull feels like it was turned into an ogre candy dish,” Ian said.

“Anyway, you’re right… it is bigger than us. That’s why I think the safest thing is to do nothing,” I said. “But… I’ll be careful. If Iona makes a move on me, I’ll forget about secrecy… scream my head off and run for safety.”

“No. Don’t do that,” he said. “Burn her. Burn everything around you. Don’t get fancy. Don’t try to fight her. Just… flare up.”

“I can try,” I said. “But I’ve never done anything like that. It’s not exactly second nature to me.”

“And if she’s still walking around in a few days, we need to do something more,” he said.

“Like what?”

“Talk to Jenkins,” Ian said. “Tell him he needs to find out what’s going on, or even if something’s going on, and get some kind of protection for you if he can’t. Actually, I don’t know why you’d wait to…”

“Because I don’t want to look like a messy complication while the Imperials are looking to clean things up,” I said. “Let’s just let sleeping dogs lie for now. I’ll do what you want, but really, I think the safest thing I can do right now is just try to not to stand out and to avoid danger.”

“Well, okay,” Ian said. “That sounds like a plan. Only…”

“Only what?”

“Only what are you going to do for your next amazing trick?”


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47 Responses to “467: Fishful Thinking”

  1. Andrea says:

    I love ToMU!!! This is an awesome story arc and the new format rocks.

    Two things: 1) What does Ian mean by โ€œOnly what are you going to do for your next amazing trick?โ€? And 2) The font size in this comment-typing box is really really small. Like phone book small.

    Current score: 0
    • phalantas says:

      I think he means that mackenzie isnt the kind of person that manages to keep a low profile and yeah, the font is really small.

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    • Sindri says:

      I believe that was a reference to the fact that, so far, she hasn’t gone more than an hour or so without standing out and/or being in danger, and thus claiming that that is her current goal is akin to claiming that she will suddenly sprout wings and sing in Portuguese. Except that that second option might happen, given the level of magic going on.

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  2. Frelance says:

    we were entirely in our own headโ€™s.

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  3. phalantas says:

    awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ finally back on track with the uptades, keep up the good work

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  4. MentalBlank says:

    What Ian meant was that Mackenzie’s course of action was to not stand out and to avoid danger…. her past default position. He was being sarcastic. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Rey d`Tutto says:

    The Comment Box is too small to read, and with the grey on off-white… if you can read this correctly, thank typing classes, as I can’t proofread my comment.

    Anyhoo… Interesting. i was wondering how long and who’d figure the circumstances out.

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  6. khavren says:

    The font size for the comment is really really small. I’m thinking this is like 4pt. Also, the link to the Amaranth page doesn’t work

    Current score: 0
  7. tuo says:

    When I first read TOMU tonight, the font size was HUGE. Everywhere I looked, giant text loomed out and flooded my vision. I found that if I clicked within the browser, held down CTRL and used the scroll on my mouse, I was able to adjust the font sizes accordingly. Maybe this will help someone else.

    Current score: 0
  8. Dave says:

    If you can’t read the text you’re writing, hit Control-+ a few times (hold down Control key and type +). This enlarges text in your browser, (works in Firefox and most other browsers too I think). Once posted, you can hit Control– (Control Minus) to shrink it again so the story and comments aren’t too big.

    “… and nothing bad happens. Obviously.” Why don’t we believe that? ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. AE, can we have a Preview button and maybe an Edit too, as part of the redesign? Please?

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  9. kuangning says:

    “What was the point of making him constantly proving himself?” Should be proves, I do believe.

    “Sheโ€™d made sure no idea get within a three yard radius of her brain unless she trusted the source.” Probably is meant to be either “could get” or “got”.

    Good update, though! I rather like Mack’s current state of mind.

    Current score: 0
    • kuangning says:

      “Prove”, not “proves”. This comment text really is too small to proofread…

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  10. Cadnawes says:

    On readability: I cannot read this comment AT ALL as I type it. Hope it works out OK, anyway. The comments already posted are ok, but the names are unclear. The page itself is painful, but legible. I can’t say why. Testing, it’s the background color. I just looked at it for a bit not reading anything. It was difficult. It looks cool, it really does, but I find my eyes watering. Bear in mind that I have extreme visual difficulties, but the old was DEFINITELY better, and I never had any problems with it. Sorry to be such a downer.

    Current score: 0
  11. Tamina says:

    I really like the new look but I think the background colour has too much white mixed in behind the text. It’s a bit visually distracting. Apart from that this src seems really cool. Nice to see Ian and Mack having conversations that result in decisions ๐Ÿ™‚

    Current score: 0
  12. Mike says:

    Not sure what you guys are talking about. The comment text is huge for me; larger than standard size 12, maybe 14.

    Current score: 0
  13. bramble says:

    The leading on the tag cloud could use some adjustment; some of the tags that show up in bigger fonts are overlapping other tags and making them hard to read. The content warning on the “About the Story” page has the same issue.

    Otherwise, I’m really liking the new layout. It looks really slick.

    Current score: 0
  14. Dan says:

    Just thought I would pipe up and say that I love the update. Also, regarding the new site layout, I read from my iPhone most of the time, and it looks absolutely perfect to me. Clean, well organized, and simple to navigate. I love it!

    Current score: 0
  15. zeel says:

    You know the site has an automatic mobile page layout, that activates if it determines you are using a mobile browser. It could use a little love. not only is it a bit drab compared to this new look, but the advance one chapter and back one chapter links are on the wrong sides of the page (next is on the left).

    Current score: 0
    • It’s not actually automatic, I had to install and configure it… I tried a few different ones, and “drab” (or at least minimalist) seems to be what most people look for in a mobile layout. See the comment above you about being clean. The next/prev thing is annoying but not a high priority.

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      • zeel says:

        by automatic i meant i don’t have to hit a link to get to it, it will see if I am on a mobile device, and give me that version.

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  16. Zathras IX says:

    The “subtle arts” can
    Be anything but subtle
    When things get fishy

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  17. MistyCat says:

    From my vision-impaired, rather blurry point of view, the new layout is clear and pleasant.

    To those who experienced the original tiny type this time or experience it elsewhere on any web page, it takes just a moment to swipe and copy, then paste into your own favourite text editor. Write your reply in the same editor at your own comfortable font size then swipe and copy back into the appropriate place.
    /CondescendingGit

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  18. Martyn says:

    On my system (Firefox 3.6.12, 24″ monitor), in landscape orientation it takes 3 seconds to PageUp or PageDown, in portrait orientation it’s effectively instant.

    Current score: 0
  19. A. Maniac says:

    Emoticons (wp-smiley) would look better if you get rid of the border (“border:0px;”). Reading a comment and seeing a box in the middle of a line makes for odd speed bumps.

    As for the story, lets hope things don’t stay “connected” for too long. Dealing with your own thoughts is hard enough sometimes, adding multiple other people to it could drive you crazy.

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  20. Melissa says:

    “Itโ€™s kind of a leap to go from there to a world where sinister spy agencies recruit women with special abilities for covert operations.โ€

    Heehee.

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    • zeel says:

      guess what kind of world you live in. . .

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    • The Iron Muffin says:

      Oh dear Goddess, please let this mean that there’s going to be more Star Harbor Nights soon!

      Current score: 0
  21. Chips says:

    Woo-hoo! I love the new look, AE!

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  22. Calia says:

    Love the new layout. It’s like a cleaned-up version of the old cream colored one and I have always appreciated that it looks like text on parchment; it just seems to fit since we’re talking about a fantasy school. There’s no problems that I can see, using Google Chrome and a 17″ laptop screen.
    As for the story, I enjoyed it as always.

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Chrome FTW!

      ya, it looks beautiful, though I always zoom, the font is an okay size, but reading for extender periods is easier if it is bigger.

      Current score: 0
      • BMeph says:

        …a lot of things are easier when they’re bigger.

        Maybe Steff should see if storm giants are one…

        Current score: 1
  23. Chris says:

    interestingly quick rap up of the mind sharing effect, i was hoping it would go on further and end up with them arguing with the differing facets of themselves – shouting at the monkey to stop leaping ๐Ÿ™‚

    On the new site design excellent!

    I happen to be dyslexic and their fore find lower contrast pages like this much easier to read (than i.e. black on white) now I don’t have to put my sun glasses on first, which does look wonderfully silly

    Current score: 0
  24. jc says:

    It looks fine on this G1 phone. I wonder how it recognize a mobile device. I’ve never seen a really good way to do that. Could some others try it on your phones and let is know how well It works?

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      The user_agent, your device actually sends the web site a file telling it your browser, OS, and other info. A web site can use this to determine that certain changes be made. MU, Google, and Facebook use it to enable mobile mode. Some sites will even block some browsers, for instance Hulu will keep you from viewing videos if you are using a browser on a device that is not a computer (PS3, Wii, ipod).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_agent

      Current score: 0
  25. Miss Farrower says:

    I don’t think I’ve actually visited the site from an actual computer in months. I love relaxing at a cozy restaurant and enjoying the newest chapter of ToMU on my mobile. The only drawback is that comments don’t nest on the mobile version, and you can’t reply to specific comments.

    Current score: 0
  26. cnic says:

    I am too tired to explain why I liked this chapter, but I do love the format. I like it the best of the formats I have seen so far. It is a bit like the original format I remember but much better. The comment fonts are the right size. The only weird thing is the large font (16?) while you are writing a comment, but hey it is easier to read.

    Current score: 0
  27. Speight says:

    Liking the new color scheme. The comment compose window text is currently on the big side (but better than too small). The field captions (Name, Mail, Website) on the other hand, are now quite small, out of scale with the fields they are labeling.

    Current score: 0
  28. VoidHamlet says:

    Being a pretty petty proofreader, I’ll humbly point out the following in #467:

    โ€œBut the sex as more so, right?โ€ – was more so
    โ€œIโ€™m less worried about that than I am diseases,โ€ – about diseases
    donโ€™t think we were entirely in our own headโ€™s. – heads

    Current score: 0
  29. FalseProphet says:

    Still reading.
    Still checkng regularly.
    Still excited every time i see there’s a new update. Thank you.

    Will try to find a significant place to link ToMU in the future.

    Current score: 0
  30. hueloovoo says:

    I’ve been reading for over a year and you’ve never failed to excite me with each post. I love this story and I always will. So keep bringing it, so I have more new stuff to love!

    –Angie

    Current score: 0
  31. Keith says:

    I definitely like the new layout. And I do plan to keep on reading. Keep up the good work.

    Current score: 0
  32. Miz*G says:

    Heh. Special ops teams. Maybe Iona and Mercy can be friends. Callahan, too.

    That was my first thought on my re-read of this chapter. (Almost caught up again, and now there’s 20-30 new chapters I haven’t read yet! Yay!)

    Current score: 0
  33. pedestrian says:

    I am suppositioning that the extra-planar eyeless fish detected that Mackenzie was intending to tell Ian about her confrontation with Iona and decided to nip it in the bud. As Ian could have sparked a public hysteria.

    How better to divert perpetually horny teen/young adults then mellow them out with comradely group bonding and sex. Great big mind-blowing spate of sexual bliss.

    I suspect Iona will be quietly, discreetly disappeared.

    Current score: 0
  34. sengachi says:

    I love how you write characters that aren’t quite in their right minds. It comes on very subtle, but it’s impossible not to notice.

    Current score: 0