469: Summer Offerings

on November 24, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Words Travel Fast

Amaranth shuddered as I told her about what Iona had said in the bathroom. We had ducked down a quiet bend of hallway in the upper floor of the student union… it was private enough that we could have a fairly sensitive conversation, but near enough to a high-traffic spot that we didn’t feel completely like extras in a horror story. It seemed a little randomly drafty, but I chalked that up to the fact that it was cold outside and there would be doors opening and closing elsewhere in the building.

“That’s pretty… unambiguous,” Amaranth said when I’d finished recounting what Iona had said. “A lot more so than I would have expected.”

“You don’t think Mackenzie misheard her or something, do you?” Ian said. There was a note in his voice that was accusing, but it seemed balanced against a desire to defend me, and that kept me from jumping in to defend Amaranth and turn the whole thing into another argument.

“What?” Amaranth said. “No! I just… I was hoping there’d be some room for doubt, you know?”

“It seems like doubt is the last thing you’d want when there are murders going on,” Ian said. “I mean, the whole point of an investigation is to remove doubt.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I mean, once there’s some suspicion at all that somebody might be a killer and might have her sights on me, I’d really rather know for sure.”

“Well, that’s the thing,” Amaranth said. “As long as there was some room for doubt, there was still the chance… however slim… that there hadn’t been any murders, that there wasn’t any killer, at least not in the sense of a person… a fellow student.”

It seemed like the part that bothered her the most: the idea that another student could have done this. Did do it, as it transpired. Amaranth liked to think the best of people. Even when she knew for a fact that someone had done something pretty terrible, she would be as forgiving and understanding as she could be. When faced with something that couldn’t be easily excused or explained away, she would prefer to believe that it didn’t happen… and when she couldn’t do that without deluding herself, then she didn’t know what to do, except for vainly wishing that it wasn’t the case.

I couldn’t really blame her for that, as I didn’t know how to process the information, either. It was a case where there was nothing we could do, and no redeeming message or comforting moral. Nothing that was said and no way of looking at it would change what had happened, make Leda less dead or Iona more innocent.

With nothing else to say or do, I put my arms around Amaranth and pulled her in close. She had given me so much comfort… giving some of it back seemed like an easy and natural thing to do. It didn’t do anything for Leda or about Iona, either, but it seemed to help her.

I agree that at a practical level it’s better to know,” she said, when we pulled apart. “Especially when there’s danger to you, baby. It’s good that we have a definite answer. It really is. But… I’m disappointed that the definite answer isn’t that she’s innocent and only interested in a little fun.”

“Funny, I think if you asked her she’d say that’s the case,” Ian said. “It’s the definition of ‘fun’ that’s the problem. And if neither she nor Feejee had anything to do with it? Then we’d still have the same basic problem of not knowing. I mean, if you’re gonna regret hypothetical things that could have happened but didn’t, why not wish that no one had died?”

“Ian, I haven’t forgotten about Leda,” Amaranth said. “Or anyone else who died on Veil Night. If I could bring them back with a wish…”

“That’s never a good idea,” I said.

“I mean metaphorically,” she said. “Well, I mean literally bring them back but not with an actual wish. My point is that if I could actually change the world by wanting things it would be a different story… but given what we knew, it was still just remotely possible that no students were involved in any of the, um, deaths.”

“I understand what you mean,” I said. “And how you feel… I’m sorry about the kneejerk correction. Some of my classes have been dealing with wishes, at least in passing, so the strict definitions are kind of engraved in my mind.”

“Anyway,” Ian said, “if it hadn’t turned out that it was a mermaid, you still wouldn’t know for certain that it wasn’t someone you knew. You’d still be in the same situation, as far as uncertainty goes.”

“Yes, but if it had turned out it wasn’t either of them, we’d be on the same ground as the rest of the campus,” Amaranth said. “Mack wouldn’t have any special knowledge that could help the investigation after all, and we’d have no more reason to be afraid than anyone else. If it wasn’t one of the mermaids, it could be a wandering monster, like the official report said. Wouldn’t that be better?”

“For us, yeah, I guess,” Ian said. “Okay. I can understand your disappointment. But why do I think you’re still hoping Iona can be saved?”

“Wouldn’t you rather she was?” Amaranth said. “I mean, if there were a way she could learn that what she did was wrong, and pay for what she did… but in a way that’s, I don’t know… I suppose ‘productive’ is the word I’m thinking of, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily the best one. Locking her away or… getting rid of her, that’s not going to help anyone.”

“It would help anyone else that she might hurt or kill in the future,” Ian said.

“I meant relative to a solution where she doesn’t die but also doesn’t hurt anyone,” Amaranth said. “I operate on the principle that less harm is better than more.”

“Even to a murderer?” Ian asked.

“Well, yes,” Amaranth said. “I mean, if you don’t take that view, then it could stand to reason that whatever punishment you can devise as fitting for a murderer, adding more brutality to it would be justified, or at the very least, acceptable. If more harm is not a bad thing.”

“I’m not going that far,” Ian said. “I just think avoiding harm to her should be considered a low priority. Anyway, if Mackenzie’s right, I somehow doubt she’s going to pay her debt to society…I think it’s more likely she’ll end up paying the family directly. And I’m pretty okay with that, if it comes to pass. From what she said, I really don’t think she can redeemed… or that she wants to be.”

“You weren’t there, though,” Amaranth said.

“Neither were you,” Ian said.

They both looked at me. I held up my hands. I’d been listening to their conversation with interest, but only insofar as I wanted to understand what they were both saying and where they were coming from. I felt like I did, but the fact that I could understand both of them made it hard to sort out which one of them, if either, I believed was right.

“I’m the wrong person to ask about this,” I said.

“Baby, you’d know better than anyone,” Amaranth said, and Ian nodded.

“Iona terrifies me… I feel like Ian’s more right, but I know that’s not a rational response… but that doesn’t mean that if I could sit down and think it through rationally that I wouldn’t come up with the same answer.

“Well, I don’t believe that anyone is past the point of redemption,” she said. “But it’s not up to us to save her, and it wouldn’t be safe for you to try… the one thing I think we can agree with is that you need to steer well clear of her, baby. Don’t give her a chance to catch you alone, walk away if she comes near you… run if there’s no one around. Make noise. Don’t worry about how it looks, as long as you can get other people looking.”

Ian nodded in agreement.

“And also,” Amaranth added, “if a couple of days go by and she’s still walking around… we’re going to have to do something more… say something. If the kind of ‘private justice’ we think is in play here has anything going for it, it should be pretty expedient.”

“So if nothing happens soon, it probably won’t happen,” Ian said. “Yeah, that makes sense… and I believe you already know what I think about this, Mackenzie.

“Yeah,” I said. “And you’re not wrong, neither one of you.”

“It’s good to know we’re on the same page,” Ian said. “I’d feel better if we had an actual plan of action, but, you know, I’ll take what I can get.”

Amaranth had to go get ready for her first class of the day. I started to excuse myself from Ian for the same reason when I realized that we’d be heading to the same place anyway. So we meandered down towards the big atrium-like lobby of the union and just hung out on a bench for a little while, talking about class.

Ian was of the opinion that Bohd was taking an unusual interest in me.

“Unusual for her, I mean,” he said. “Her reputation has always basically been that she’s a teaching automaton. No offense to automata. Or to her. The fireball she dropped on the class last time… well, I think she’s gong to have a new reputation to worry about.”

“Yeah, I really don’t know what to make of that,” I said.

“Did you go and talk to her?” Ian asked.

“No,” I said.

“You realize that whole ‘if anybody wants to come talk to me’ thing was aimed at you?” he said.

“I’m not so sure about that,” I said. “I mean… yes, I get that she was making a show of support for me. But she said she didn’t care about my demonblood, and I doubt we’ve got the kind of shared experiences where she could tell me anything to help me. I thought she was trying to negate as much damage from her coming out about hers as she possibly could, by offering to talk about it.”

“So you can believe that she’d be so interested in looking out for you that she’d re-arrange her class curriculum to help you and then reveal the heritage she’s been keeping secret for her whole teaching career, but you can’t imagine she’d have anything to say to you in private?” Ian said.

“Well, when you put it that way, it sounds kind of silly,” I said.

“But you’re still not going to go talk to her, are you?” he said.

“What am I supposed to say, exactly?” I asked. “‘Here I am, in case you have anything you wanted to say to me?’ If it’s that important… well, she’s a professor and I’m a student. She can kind of demand my attention if she wants it.”

“But that doesn’t stop her from reaching out and seeing if you reach back,” Ian pointed out.

“True,” I said. “But also, I’ve kind of been preoccupied the past few days. I don’t think she could blame me for not finding the time to come see her.”

“True,” Ian said. “How about this? We’ll head over a bit early and see if she uses the opportunity to say anything.”

“Okay,” I said. “But, you know… she’s already stuck her neck out pretty far for me. Maybe that’s honestly as far as she wants to take it.”

It was some consolation that I didn’t have to see the look on Ian’s face when he was proven right moments after we entered the room, as his desk was much closer to the back of the room than mine and so he was already behind me when Professor Bohd looked up from some papers and said, “Oh, Ms. Mackenzie, I was hoping I could have a word with you.”

“Oh?” I said. “I mean, yes. Sure.”

“It’s not class-related,” she said. She glanced back at Ian. “Would you prefer to save it for a more private moment?”

“No, it’s okay,” I said.

“I don’t make a habit of prying into my students’ personal lives… and by that I mean, any aspect of their lives at, at all… but I can’t help being somewhat aware of your family situation,” she said. “Your grandmother is your only living relative?”

“The only one worth mentioning,” I said. “And that, just barely.”

“I thought that you and she might not get along,” she said. “Were you living on your own before the start of the term?”

“No,” I said. “We managed to co-exist through the summer after my graduation, but I really don’t see that arrangement… arranging itself again.”

“Do you know where you’ll be staying over the coming summer?”

“No, not exactly,” I said. “But that’s a long way off.”

“Yes, and if you spend the next several months telling yourself that, you’ll find yourself scrambling to get a roof over your head,” she said. “Have you considered student housing?”

“I’d have to sign up for a full load during the summer session,” I said. “I’m not sure I could afford that.”

“You’d be surprised… I can’t quote the actual restrictions to you, but I know that student housing isn’t just available for full-time students,” Bohd said. “I hire additional assistants for my research projects during the summer, to take advantage of my more extensive free time… many of them are undergraduates from out-of-province who are only taking a class or two so they don’t have to travel back and forth so much. And if you don’t think you could afford the summer semester, how would you manage to live in Enwich?”

“Well, I was sort of counting on finding a job,” I said.

“Ms. Mackenzie, I submit to you that a plan that involves the words ‘count on finding’ isn’t exactly much of a plan, and the inclusion of the qualifier ‘sort of’ does nothing to negat that impression. The summer job market in Enwich is pretty tight, and forgive me for saying this, but I can’t really see you working on a farm.”

“Poor choice of words,” I said. “It’s not like I’m factoring a lottery win or a pot of gold into my survival strategy. I feel like I’ve got some decent prospects. I mean, if nothing else I could sell my energy reserves to an enchanter or to a magic broker… that would hardly be work, but the pay would be decent enough.”

“Decent enough for a student, but you might be surprised how fast renting a property in town and living on your own would eat up your earnings,” the professor said. “Living on campus would be cheaper than any apartment or room you could find in Enwich.”

“Except I’d be paying tuition and going to classes, too,” I pointed out.

“You’d have time for some classes if that’s all you’re doing for your money… and I’d be surprised if your scholarships specify which semesters they can be used during,” Bohd said. “And I think you might be surprised at how much less… complicated… life on campus can be during the summer term. There’s less going on, fewer students around… and a much less homogeneous campus, as a higher percentage of non-human and international students stay behind. Some of my favorite students have told me that their first summer sessions were when they really found their footing. I’ve seen it happen, too.”

“I… I’ll think about it,” I said, and tried to sound like I meant it. I did mean it, but I wasn’t sure I could see my way to doing it. My fall-back plan… or fall-back idea, since it really wasn’t much of a plan… was to go home with Amaranth for the summer. I didn’t want to mention that, because I really didn’t want Bohd that involved with my life, and I doubted she wanted that, either.

“You don’t really have the qualifications for me to hire you as an assistant, but we need raw power, too,” she said. “So you wouldn’t have to leave campus, necessarily, to sell your energy. You wouldn’t have to just be a passive power source, either… you could gain valuable experience, by observing the experiments and helping out in small ways. An internship like that is a more valuable addition to your resume than a stint as someone’s powerstone.”

“What exactly are you working on?” I asked.

“Pseudoelemental constructs,” she said. “Primarily light and shadow. I’ve been doing some work with sound, but that’s still at the theoretical stage.”

“You don’t work with infernal energy, do you?”

“No,” she said. “Apart from the other reasons, it just doesn’t exist in any kind of abundance on this plane.”

“This doesn’t really relate to my area of study,” I said.

“No, but the mundane skills you could learn would be invaluable in a career as an enchanter,” she said.

“I’ll think about it,” I said again. I had a feeling that she would be happy to see me switching my major to elementalism, and I didn’t want to lead her on… or leave myself too open to being persuaded. I would never be an old-fashioned robed wizard like Ian’s father, or a serious academic practitioner like Professor Bohd. I wanted to learn magic I could use to make a good living, but I didn’t necessarily want that magic to become my life.

“Well, as you said… you do have time to think about it,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind if I drop you a few reminders throughout the year.”

“No, that would be fine,” I said. I almost added how likely it was that I would otherwise forget her offer in the intervening months… the fact that she was offering to remind me meant I probably didn’t need to say anything.

“Well, then, I’ll look forward to hearing what you decide,” she said. The door opening at the back of the room ended the conversation, and class began shortly after that. She kept things pretty much on point, after the digressions of the previous class. It was hard for me to judge if the atmosphere in the class had changed any because of her announcement the time before, but again this was because I didn’t have a baseline. Every time somebody coughed or cleared their throat, every time I heard a table leg scoot at all, my brain wanted to interpret it as a sign of discomfort. The quiet in the room got to me, too, which was silly because I knew she ran a quiet classroom.

I tried to end my worries by reminding myself that she could take care of herself. She was a tenured professor, and whatever her students might have been thinking, she was capable of maintaining discipline in the classroom. Still, if something did happen to her as a result of the revelation of her distant infernal ancestry, I knew I’d blame myself. It had been her decision, but my presence had brought it about.

When the class ended, it had been my plan to stick close to Ian since we didn’t have anything else until after lunch, but that plan got upended when I felt a sudden, insistent tug on my hand as we headed out of the room. Mariel had rushed up and grabbed hold of me with two of her hands.

“Um, hi?” I said. I didn’t know how else to react… I looked at Ian, but he seemed even more bemused by her sudden appearance than I was.

“We need to talk,” she said.

“Well, sorry, but I’m kind of with my boyfriend,” I said, not wanting to be rude to her just because she’d always been rude to me. I also thought the mention of Ian might blunt her urgency somewhat, as the only thing she’d ever wanted to talk to me about before was Puddy, with the idea that I might be a threat to their relationship. “But if you want to walk with us for a while…”

“We really need to talk, privately,” she said. Her eyes darted to him. “He can come, too, I guess.”

“Mariel… you don’t get to dictate that,” I said. “I don’t particularly want to talk to you but I’m trying to be nice. If you want…”

“We have to talk about mermaids,” she said.

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57 Responses to “469: Summer Offerings”

  1. Kei says:

    Ooh, I wonder what she knows?

    Current score: 0
  2. Brenda says:

    What a great line to end on…

    Current score: 0
  3. Brittany says:

    Ack, what terrible time to end it! And come on Mack, at least thank her! Professors really don’t need to provide ready made opportunities for first year students.

    Current score: 0
  4. Leila says:

    *wonders how, randomly checking mu at 12:30 in the morning, she’s the FOURTH to comment*

    Current score: 0
  5. zeel says:

    Ah crap, whats this about mermaids. . .

    Current score: 0
  6. Matthias says:

    Well I guess this gives us our opening about the new dorm Mack will be in during the next part of tales of mu. I wonder if it is going to be an “en medias rez” kind of thing where after they get this mermaid thing sorted out they jump to summer and part of that story is explaining certain events in the intermediary to sort of keep us guessing. guessing is always the fun part of reading these things anyway. I also really like this ending exactly because it does keep you guessing. It reminds me of the older posts that got me hooked on this in the first place. Good Job AE. Keep up the good work.

    Current score: 0
  7. Matthias says:

    I wonder if Mariel is going to start being distracted by Ian because of the fish dream?

    Current score: 0
  8. xenophiliac says:

    loving bohd.

    mack really needs a calendar and a to-do list. on that subject, I sympathize.

    don’t mean to negate the praise, but you’ve got a negat.

    why is mack so focused on the ‘practical’ route? if she’d make a better big-flashy-robe wizard or academician, the more power to her . . .

    Current score: 1
    • Brenda says:

      Whatever happened to that big planner she bought?

      Current score: 1
    • bramble says:

      I think Mack’s focused on the “practical” route because that’s where she knows there’s good money in a field she’s interested in, and she’s terrified of having to be financially dependent on her grandmother ever again. Most kids her age have at least a little bit of a safety net – for instance, if Jamie needed to move back home for a year or two after school while he got his feet on the ground, his mom might not be thrilled, but I doubt she’d refuse to let him have his room back for a while. If Mack ends up out of school without the means to adequately provide for herself… well, what are her choices? Go home, and probably never achieve any form of independence again? She’s made it clear that she doesn’t consider that an option.

      Current score: 1
      • scrwtp says:

        I’m thinking it’s also because she wants to keep a low profile. I flashy demonblooded wizard is going to attract a lot of attention, much of it from the sorts of people you wouldn’t want to attract the attention of, and Mack is pretty hellbent (excuse the pun) on flying under the rader, or at least claims to in her thoughts. I seem to remember that being part of her logic, but it’s been so long that I might be making it up or reading it into her motivations on my own…

        Current score: 0
      • arsenic says:

        Mack *would* outlive her grandmother by a LOT, though, so as long as she could survive the emotional and spiritual abuse for a couple of decades (at the most), it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she got sucked back into Grandma Blaise’s house. I suppose Grandma Blaise might arrange for someone else to keep Mack under control after she died.

        Current score: 1
  9. Alessariel says:

    Ah, so that’s where the drafst at the start of the chapter came from. Ot was probably Mariel, she can move that fast after all. She probably picked something up that way.

    Current score: 0
  10. Stormcaller says:

    A Drafty Corridor?? and suddenly the Slyph(?) knows about the mermaids?

    Current score: 1
  11. K-Li says:

    It’s good to see Mack growing, and pathetic to see Amaranth so tenaciously clinging to her own worthlessness. One can only hope Mack finally outgrows her before the nymph gets her killed.

    One also hopes this leads to more classroom stuff in the near future, as the curricula has been my favorite bit for some time.

    Current score: 1
  12. arsenic says:

    Ooh, I wouldn’t have expected Mariel to know anything about mermaids. This could be interesting. Also, I’m glad that we got to see, like, four different things! Amy+Ian+Mack convo and dynamics, Ian+Mack on a different subject, Mack+Bohd+non-ominous-foreshadowing, Mack+idle thoughts during class, and a cliffhanger. Love it!

    Current score: 0
  13. zenjack says:

    I wonder how much mermaid puddy has in her . . .

    Current score: 0
  14. Greenwood Goat says:


    The fireball she dropped on the class last time… well, I think she’s gong to have a new reputation to worry about.

    Current score: 0
  15. Greenwood Goat says:

    I wondered where the draught was coming from. There are a number of ways that Mariel could have listened in – it’s easy enough to avoid notice if you can move fast enough, and she might even be able to hear things on the wind. Which would beg the question of how much info she has straight from the mermaid’s mouth…

    We already know of one other character who is going to be staying over the summer. Dee would immediately start thinking of the training opportunities this would bring. Thinking along those lines, I wonder where Callahan is based, and whether she stays over the summer…

    Current score: 1
    • Brenda says:

      Oh, good catch – I didn’t even notice that since they were so far apart in the text.I think there’s a very good chance Mariel was whizzing by, caught the thread of conversation and listened in on the rest. (It seems to be a case of Chekhov’s draft…

      I do not think that Mariel is the person who may have been spying in Mack’s room a while back.

      Current score: 0
  16. TJHairball says:

    Nice catch, Greenwood Goat!

    I wonder just how many people know about the mermaids by now. Mack has an invisible gossip spying on her as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s overheard *something* juicy by this point in time. Mack’s explained the mermaid threat several times by now.

    xenophiliac: That attitude is pretty common. A lot of students graduate high school with a clear idea of what they want to get out of college. Some think they’re going to go on to med school / law school / graduate school; those who actually *DO* are a different group.

    Mack’s attitude seems pretty familiar to me – you see students who are very talented at, say, mathematics, but who shy away from going deep into it. If you think about it, she hasn’t had the opportunity to figure out much about how she’s going to get by in the real world, and she probably has very little idea what the life of a robed wizard or academician is really like.

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      At this point, her goal is still to get into a profession she KNOWS is profitable, since she cannot or will not depend on her grandmother for financial help. Even if she is interested in those other areas, they may not be as lucrative, and she is focusing on surviving.

      Current score: 0
  17. Oniwasabi says:

    Yay Mermaid/Sylph Drama!

    How many webcomics/stories do you get to write THAT in the comments box AND have it be relevant to the story!

    Current score: 0
    • Kalamorda says:

      About as many as have Mermaid/Half Demon Sexy time.

      Current score: 0
  18. LlubNek says:

    “From what she said, I really don’t think she can redeemed… or that she wants to be.”

    Missing “be”.

    “From what she said, I really don’t think she can be redeemed… or that she wants to be.”

    Current score: 0
  19. The Other Leighton says:

    So this doesn’t relate directly to the story, but I thought I’d post it here anyways. It seems the Akinator genie has a pretty limited knowledge base when it comes to Tales of MU. I think it might be neat to have the fans help fill out that knowledge void.

    Go here: http://us.akinator.com/ and play a few rounds thinking of different Tales of MU characters to try and enter them into its database. They’ve got a number of other “obscure” characters in there so why not help flesh out that knowledge?

    Current score: 0
  20. Oitur says:

    I agree that at a practical level it’s better to know,”–missing opening quotes.

    ‘sort of’ does nothing to negat that impression–negate missing an e.

    Current score: 0
  21. Phexar says:

    I wonder if Mariel and Feejee ended up in the same dream together on that night…?

    Current score: 0
  22. LlubNek says:

    “Ms. Mackenzie, I submit to you that a plan that involves the words ‘count on finding’ isn’t exactly much of a plan, and the inclusion of the qualifier ‘sort of’ does nothing to negat that impression.”

    “negat” should be “negate”.

    “Ms. Mackenzie, I submit to you that a plan that involves the words ‘count on finding’ isn’t exactly much of a plan, and the inclusion of the qualifier ‘sort of’ does nothing to negate that impression.”

    Current score: 0
    • Helen Rees says:

      typo alert followed by brief paean:

      I agree that at a practical level it’s better to know,”

      lacks opening quotes – also go looking for a ‘gong’ where there should be a ‘going’. I’m sure you know ctrl-f…

      Okay, paean commence. I’ve worked out that what I really like about your work is what the oxymoronic characters (boy-girl: closet exhibitionist: goody-goody nympho – and so on and so on) have to teach about the parameters of real as opposed to learned desire and natural as opposed to learned behaviour.

      Plus all the spanking.


      Current score: 0
  23. Sylvan says:

    Aww, now I’ll spend most of my week wondering what the hell Mariel knows about mermaids, how Pala, Embries, and The Man are going to factor into the story in possibly the same day/next few hours, and whether or not Puddy has any connections to the former group!

    Curses to you, AE. Or blessings, because you know, successful authors write more stories, but yeah.

    Current score: 0
  24. Durragh says:

    its a long shot i know, but didn’t puddy make a claim to a percentage of dragon (amongst many other things)? what if thats the real source of the LaBelle money? maybe its the only thing she actually is, it would explain the strength. Muriel could be afraid someone would find out and blame Puddy, OR MAYBE she knows it wasn’t really the mermaids and Puddy ate somebody.

    Current score: 0
    • Xone says:

      I thought her strength only appeared when Mack was around, which is why she didn’t want her near the arena when she was fighting (everyone would think she was cheating). My guess is that she has a bit of anti-demon species in her, whatever that might be.

      Current score: 0
  25. Erm says:

    Wasn’t Mack supposed to have learned how to navigate politeness, stop being contrary for the hell of it?

    Because as pointed out, a professor offering a research assistant job (even a temporary, and unqualified one) to a first-year is kind of a big deal. This particular professor is also a good teacher. Regardless of whether her interest lies elsewhere (particularly considering that she’s barely starting out, and will lots of time to specialize later), this is a prime opportunity she’s treating as though it were an undesirable Plan C.

    Hoping that Amaranth and Ian get wind of it and get out the clue paddle.

    Current score: 2
    • Ellie says:

      That was my impression exactly. As someone attempting to navigate academia, seeing this happen (even in fiction) is horrendously frustrating. You grab nepotism with both hands, Mack! And don’t let go! You’re not going to get anywhere with such a choosy mentality!

      Current score: 0
  26. P says:

    Your writing has really improved over the past two years. This is great.

    Current score: 0
  27. Anonymous says:

    My thoughts are that Puddy’s strength is somehow dependent on the people in her proximity. When Mackenzie is around, she’s automatically stronger than Mackenzie, but remember that Mr. Embries was in the arena that one day, and Puddy hacked through that person in a single blow. She thought Mack being there was the problem, but even though she left, Puddy still had all that power.

    Current score: 1
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      Actually, it seems more likely that Puddy’s got the power of being stronger than whoever she’s fighting- when she’s tussling with Mack, she’s more powerful than that, when the opponent is someone else, she’s stronger than that person.

      When she was fighting in the arena, she was always stronger than her opponent, even the mighty Pala, but IIRC, her strength based stunts seemed to get more and more extreme as the night went on (and as she faced more physically powerful foes).

      Current score: 1
  28. WitchyMorgan says:

    I’m finally caught up and this is my first cliffhanger. Ahh!!!! I fucking love this story. You have single handedly combined all my favorite things(magic BDSM pansexuality and polyamory) and I will love you forever for it. Please keep up the a-fucking-mazing work. 😀

    Current score: 0
  29. Math_Mage says:

    Sigh…having been a college student for a brief period of time, Mackenzie’s reaction to Bohd’s offer seems really unrealistic to me. I find it unlikely that she won’t end up being persuaded to take the offer, so it seems like an artificial way to keep that story thread going a little longer. I also agree with an earlier poster that this is *really* a complete regression to the “contrary for no rational reason besides contrariness” on Mackenzie’s part. It bothers me.

    Current score: 0
  30. drudge says:

    Did we just get everyone adress the problem exists in an almost kind of sort of definitive way, AND have someone else become aware of it? It’s like Christmas come early this year and I got sanity in my stockings!

    My only issue is the wording here. Bohd uses the word “experiment” here, as if it’s a thing that can be done on MU world.

    Earlier in the story when Amaranth was going on about being Mechan and it’s affects on hers and Macks relationship, she said something to the affect of “Don’t trust the science girl with your things, she might do *experiments* on them” with emphasis on it and how it seemed like something that wouldn’t work given the setting logic.

    Given that attempting to find constants in the universe explicitly won’t work, I find myself confused.

    Current score: 1
    • CB says:

      I figured that the experiments referred to scientific experiments. Magical experimentation is very real in the MUniverse. We’ve seen Mackenzie experimenting–think of how she used magic to see how disabling or altering the defensive enchantment on her staff would affect her fighting style and ability.

      Current score: 1
    • Miz*G says:

      Excerpt from Chapter 34 – Class Consciousness (First day of Professor Rankin’s class.)
      “…Most of the hour and a half allotted for the class was given over to going over lab procedures and outlining the experiments we’d be doing and the goals for the class.”

      Evidently, experiments are generally very magic based in the MUverse, and Amaranth was just understood to mean scientific experiments in her comment a couple chapters later.

      Current score: 0
  31. Zathras IX says:

    In which Mackenzie
    And Amaranth both engage
    In wishful thinking

    Current score: 0
  32. Kevin says:

    the line about being someones powerstone reminded me of how well the MUverse would work in GURPS…

    Current score: 0
    • Squidsinger says:

      If AE approved of such a thing, I’d love to see a GURPS 4th MU game run over at Myth-Weavers.

      I could see it now: Mack is primarily a mage, with Vulnerability and Dread to divine magic, boatloads of FP, and … how would you categorize her invulnerability? GURPS doesn’t really do true invulnerability. Lots of DR? And she slings fire, which is one or several Innate Attacks.

      Amaranth is a Divine caster (suits her better than just the Healing advantage) with Unkillable at level 3, with a mitigator of Inconvenient (since it sends her home).

      Steff is a Mage (Necromancer) with a high Knife skill and the drawback Sadistic.

      Ian is… well… Joe Human.

      Mariel is an interesting case. She’d be very expensive to get right. Three or four levels of Altered Time Rate at least. Two Extra Arms. Massively diminished strength, but still…

      Two is too human-like to qualify for Injury Tolerance: Unliving (since, despite being a golem, she’s not a solid block of clay underneath), but definitely has Reprogrammable (and is on her way to buying off Slave Mentality).

      Dee… Telepathy in all, like, six of its GURPS forms. Lots and lots of it.

      Did I miss any of the main players? Hazel and Honey, Feejee, Sooni and the nekos, they’re all pretty typical for their race, stats-wise, imho.

      So, long comment short, I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion and would love to see that game run (though not featuring any canon characters unless AE herself were involved – would feel very skeevy otherwise).

      Current score: 1
    • Alexander Johnson says:

      An ironic musing considering it’s a D&D parody.

      Current score: 0
      • Gorgonopsid says:

        Yeah, but the problem with D&D, in all its editions, is that it’s a rather locked-in game that’s hard to customize characters. GURPS or Shadowrun are a lot easier to custom tweak (though I say nothing about whether any of those games are better than others- first rule of gaming is that if you enjoy playing it, you’re doing it right).

        Current score: 0
  33. Gorgonopsid says:

    Dun dun DUN!!!

    (Elan, stop playing dramatic cues for the dead Chimera!)

    Current score: 1
  34. readaholic says:

    Now, what is Mariel going to say about the Mermaids? And how will Puddy somehow manage to claim to be the one who figured it all out?

    Current score: 1
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      Puddy’ll probably claim that she knew it because she’s 1/25th mermaid or something.

      Current score: 0
  35. Sindyr says:

    Another excellent chapter. 😀

    Current score: 0
  36. Jerad says:

    Damn… I got caught up… now I have to wait and I hate waiting…

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      Getting caught up on something like this and having to wait for the next update is one of the best problems one can have, I’ve always thought.

      Current score: 0
  37. Tier says:

    Loving the story, please keep up the good work.

    Current score: 0