470: Sensitive Subjects

on December 6, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Talk Gets Around

“What do you know about the mermaids?” Ian asked Mariel, holding up a hand to stop me from blurting anything out.

I realized that he had the right idea… there was no reason to assume that she knew everything, or even any one thing in particular, but a careless response or even the wrong question could change that in a flash.

“What you know, apparently,” Mariel said. “I heard everything. Almost everything. Everything important, I think… I mean, I heard enough, right?”

She didn’t sound too sure. That could be good, or it could be very, very bad… if she knew what we knew about Iona but didn’t understand why we weren’t doing anything, for instance… or if she knew what we knew but not how we knew it, she might infer that I’d had something to do with it.

“None of us had anything to do with it, and we’ve made sure that the authorities know,” Ian said, quietly and firmly. “What they’re doing with that information, we don’t know, but it’s probably best for you if you don’t get in their way.”

I looked at him, knowing that this was kind of far removed from what he actually thought and wondered at his ability to say it with such confidence.

I felt a little bit bad for Mariel, being so much smaller and slimmer than Ian… a confrontation between her and a human guy was much like one between a human and an ogre, at least at the level of physique comparisons.

I had to remind myself that she had abilities that he didn’t that could make any difference in size and strength utterly irrelevant. She could think, move, and react much faster than he or I could. She could move faster than either one of us could follow… which probably went a long ways towards explaining how she’d managed to eavesdrop.

“I wasn’t planning on… I mean, I’m not going to… I just…” Mariel sputtered.

“You wanted us to know that you know we know,” Ian said. “Great. Ten points. Twenty points. In fact, you win. Okay? We’re in your power.”

I wondered what he was thinking, being so antagonistic… but Mariel didn’t look antagonized. She seemed deflated… almost scared.

“You’re making it sound like I’m… like I was… look, I’m not trying to start something with you guys,” Mariel said. “I was just doing what Puddy told me.”

“She had you follow us?” I guessed. “That’s why I kept feeling a breeze.”

“Yeah, I was buzzing you in the hallway,” she said. “In the union. Puddy wanted me to find out what you were saying about her today. You know, after the thing last night. She thought you might try to take credit for it, or that you might be, you know, just… talking about her?”

“So, what… you were supposed to follow me around just in case I happened to say something about her?” I asked. Her face twitched into a kind of guilty/shocked expression, and I took a wild guess. “You couldn’t see any reason why I’d be talking about anything else. Or rather, she couldn’t, and you didn’t question it.”

“It’s not like I do everything Puddy says without question,” Mariel said. “Not anymore. But… she seemed pretty sure you’d be talking about her a lot. Like, there was no room for doubt.”

“Oh, yes, confidence equals rightness,” Ian said. “This is why we call trustworthy individuals ‘confidence men’.”

“Hold on, you’re mixing up deliberately lying with not knowing what the hell you’re talking about,” I said to him.

“My point is that someone can be sure of something that’s wrong,” Ian said.

“But a con man knows what he’s saying is wrong,” I said. “He’s not mistaken, he’s trying to fool others.”

“Hey, don’t you two dare-ignore-me-becauseIamseriouslyzzzzzzzzzzzz…” Mariel said, her words and body both becoming a blur as she became more agitated.

“Sorry, we’re not trying to not take you seriously,” I said. “We’re just…

“Tangent-prone,” Ian said.

“Yeah,” I said. “And anyway, you shouldn’t have been eavesdropping.”

“Yeah?” Mariel said. “Well, you shouldn’t have been… um, look, I didn’t exactly want to have this conversation out in the open.”

“Right,” Ian said. “Some unscrupulous individual might position herself to overhear.”

“I am not unscrupulous,” Mariel said. “When Trina wanted me to help her spy on Mack because she thought she had something to do with the… stuff… I said no, because I didn’t think she had any proof and I didn’t want to be involved. And of course she was almost right, wasn’t she? Because you did know something. But I stayed away out of principle.”

“Until Puddy asked you to,” I said. I filed away the bit about Trina in a folder marked “later”. It wasn’t so much news as another piece of evidence in a growing pile.

“Told you to,” Ian corrected.

“Don’t you turn this around,” Mariel said. “Does it really matter how I found out?”

“So what are you going to do… with that information?” I asked. My original intended wording, “about it”, sounded like more of a challenge than I wanted to lay down. “Ian’s right, the best thing you could do is just stay out of the way.”

“Well…” Mariel said, and it was very clear she didn’t have anything to follow that up with. She hadn’t thought this through, beyond the imagined moment of triumph when she confronted us. “I’m going to have to tell Puddy.”

“And what do you think that’s going to do?” Ian asked.

“Well, I was listening for her,” Mariel said. “So I can’t not tell her what I heard… can I? I mean, that would be immoral, wouldn’t it? Like… a breach of trust?”

“You don’t owe her anything,” I said. “Just because she forced you…”

“She didn’t force me,” she said. “I’m not like you, okay? I don’t have to let people push me around. I’m with Puddy because I want to be. I mean, I left her and came back. That proves something, doesn’t it?”

I looked at Ian, not knowing what to say to that… from the look on his face, he knew exactly what to say to it but he also knew better than to do so.

“Look… don’t you think Puddy’s going to want to do something, if she knows?” I asked Mariel. “It won’t be enough for her to just know a big secret, or to see that it’s taken care of by someone else. She’ll want to take things into her own hands, don’t you think?”

“Probably… I could see that, yeah,” Mariel said. “But… I promised her, didn’t I?”

Ugh… promise. I was starting to hate that word. Some people… like Sooni… wielded it like a weapon. I could well imagine Puddy doing the same thing to Mariel.

The very concept of a promise seemed kind of peril-fraught to me… you made them in the present based on what you thought the future would hold. A promise was nothing more than a prediction, when you got down to it. I’ll love you forever. I promise. I’ll be there for you always. But no one ever got more than a glimpse of the future, and even those glimpses were mutable, to a degree. Were promises like that broken, or did they simply fail to come true?

If Mariel had promised Puddy to spy on us and report back based on the idea that there was nothing more interesting for us to talk about than Puddy herself, and that idea proved wrong… was there even a valid promise? I had a feeling that this would be a little too philosophical a route to take with her, though.

“Tell her what she wants to hear,” Ian said. “I can’t imagine how you’ve managed to live with her if you don’t know how to do that.”

“I don’t actually live with her anymore,” Mariel said. “I moved in with Trina. I’m on my own now… independent. Though I do sleep in Puddy’s room most nights, but I’m sleeping over.”

“Right,” Ian said. “So you know about compromising to keep her happy while also looking out for yourself. That would be the smart thing to do now.”

“Though you’ll really be looking out for both of you,” I said. “It’s just safer to keep this quiet.”

“Maybe,” Mariel said. “But… if you want me to not tell Puddy about this, you have to do something for me.”

So either she hadn’t fully bought into the idea that it was in her best interest to keep quiet, or else she didn’t see the contradiction in asking for a concession in exchange for accepting good advice.

I didn’t want to push it because even though there was a technical truth to everything we were saying, it still felt like we were bullshitting her… it wasn’t too far-fetched to believe that she felt it, too. Mariel may have literally been something of an airhead, but my time with Pala the day before had taught me a lesson about underestimating air types.

“What do you want?” I asked her.

“I want you to sit down and talk to Puddy,” she said.

“I thought you wanted me to stay away from her,” I said.

I do,” she said. “But I don’t like seeing her being mistreated, either.”

“Well… done. I’m not mistreating her,” I said. “I’m not treating her any which way, and I’m not in a hurry to start. So you get what you want, and…”

“I want you to show her some freaking regard for once,” Mariel said. “She’s really hurt that you’ve rejected her. I’ve told her again and again that she’s better off without you…”

“Thank you for that,” I said.

“See? We can’t even talk about her for five seconds without you badmouthing her,” Mariel said.

“Then what do you think it’ll accomplish to put them together?” Ian asked.

“I don’t want to put them together,” Mariel said. “I just want for there to be some kind of understanding, some… closure, or whatever.”

“So if I just sat down and told her that I wish her well but don’t want anything to do with her, that would be okay with you?” I asked.

“Well, I’d rather you weren’t such a bitch about it,” Mariel said.

“But you don’t want us to end up being friends or anything again,” I said. “What’s the point?”

“She wants to understand what went wrong,” Mariel said. “Thinking about it makes her soooo…”

“Angry?” I guessed.

“Sad,” Mariel said. “She has a heart, you know.”

“I’m sure she has many fine organs,” I said, “but I think I’ve spent enough time this semester getting roped into doing things with people I don’t like, or who don’t like me, or who are going to become angry at my mere presence.”

“Well, this is the deal,” Mariel said. “Take it or leave it.”

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll talk to Puddy. But… I mean… let’s not make it into a whole thing. I’m not going to go off with her somewhere.”

“Good,” Mariel said. “I wouldn’t want you to. I’ll just tell her that I heard you say that you wanted to talk to her, okay? And we’ll pretend that’s all that happened.”

I looked at Ian. I’d made enough bad decisions on my own… maybe I felt like it was time to start making them with his help, or something to that effect. He nodded his reluctant approval of the arrangement.

“Okay,” I said to Mariel. “You can tell her that. And then I’ll let her come to me, if she wants to… I guess we can finish the conversation we started last night.”

“Okay,” she said. “Um… I guess that’s it then. Bye!”

She zoomed off, leaving Ian and I standing there in the hallway.

“Dorm politics,” he said, shaking his head. “You know, if two guys don’t care for each other, we just don’t hang out.”

“Let’s not go dragging sex into this,” I said.

“Yeah, I can think of much better places to drag it,” he said. “You know what the real lesson of all that was, right?” he asked as we started walking towards lunch.

“Don’t trust Mariel?”

“There’s nowhere really private,” he said. “Even without super fast air sprites, this campus has got elves, telepaths, illusionists, diviners… and any or all of us might be under imperial surveillance. We shouldn’t assume that anything we say… or even think… is a secret.”

“That’s kind of a sobering thought,” I said.

“Really? It makes me want to get drunk,” he said. “I’m really hoping Dee can help give me some kind of mental defenses. That’s the first step.”

“First step towards what?” I asked.

“Don’t know yet,” he said. “It’s kind of pointless to think of a plan to safeguard your privacy when your thoughts might be under observation.”

“Aren’t you getting a little paranoid?”

“Do you want to replay the last twenty-four hours in your mind?” he countered.

“Point ceded,” I said.

“My actual point is that maybe for safety’s sake we shouldn’t talk about this at all anymore, until we get to the point where we’re going to be telling other people anyway,” Ian said.

“Oh, drat… because there’s so much fertile ground for discussion that we haven’t gone over again and again already,” I said.

“Yeah, I know,” he said, with half a smile. “I hate the feeling of leaving something unsettled…”

“An argument, you mean,” I said. “And I do, too. But you’re right.”

“Hearing you say that almost makes it worthwhile,” he said.

“So now you should tell me I’m right about something, for balance,” I said.

“Yeah… uh, I’ll let you know,” he said, ducking his head and not quite turning his chuckle into a cough.

“Is it weird that we’re joking about this?” I asked.

“Well… what’s ‘this’?” he said. “We’re not joking about, you know, death or anything.”

“We’re kind of joking around it,” I said.

“I thought we were flirting.”

“That’s worse,” I said. “I mean, if joking’s bad, flirting would logically be worse.”

“I don’t want to just say ‘life goes on’… but, it kind of does,” Ian said. “No matter what happens, however bad or widespread it is, life goes on for the survivors. That’s what surviving means. It’s kind of implicit in the definition.”

“Okay, yes, obviously,” I said. “But still… I guess it feels weird to me that we’re coping with… everything. I don’t mean to suggest that we’re coping particularly well, but the fact that we’re doing it at all…”

“If you want to go curl up in a ball in a corner, I’m pretty sure that your room comes equipped with as many as four of them,” Ian said.

“You’re just a font of useful advice,” I said.

“I’m glad you think so,” he said. “Because I’ve got another piece: I think you should take Bohd up on her offer.”

“I’m going to think about it, just like I told her,” I said. “Though… I’m thinking the answer will be no. Trying to advance the boundaries of magical knowledge in that way is either really boring or way too exciting, depending on how you approach it. I think Bohd would probably take the boring approach.”

“So, it’d be money for nothing,” he said. “What’s better than that?”

“Money for something interesting,” I said.

“But you were talking about just selling energy,” Ian said. “How much more interesting could that be?”

“Well, my ideal would be to find some small-time enchanter who could use an energy boost and a mundane assistant during the summer,” I said. “So I could watch him work and maybe pick his brain a little. But even if I ended up working for some item mill where I’m not allowed to be present when the actual work is done and I have to sign a bunch of non-disclosure forms for what I do see… well, I’d be getting a glimpse at the business side of things, you know… possibly a little glimpse into the future? Anyway, why d… did you want to know?”

That sounded slightly less touchy than “Why do you care?” Ian cared about my summer plans because he cared about me.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing for the summer, either,” he said. “I mean, it’s not all up in the air like it is with you… I’m supposed to be going home. But that’s not a decision or a plan or anything… it’s just sort of the default. And I think you could do worse than going with Bohd. It’s good to have an ally on the faculty.”

“I’m not used to thinking in those terms,” I said. “Allies, connections… you mentioned ‘dorm politics’, but I’d really rather just hang out with the people I like and avoid the ones I don’t.”

“I’m not really used to it, either,” he said. “But my dad lives and breathes it. I’m supposed to be trying to make friends with department heads and stuff like that… he’s a little bit happier about my gladiator ‘hobby’ now that I’ve told him that I see Callahan coming out of the admin building all the time.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, you were there, too,” he said.

“‘All the time’ implies more than once,” I said.

“Well, my dad also told me that it’s okay to employ slight exaggerations when I’m pursuing these kinds of contacts,” Ian said.

“Like exaggerating to him how much pursuing you’ve done?” I asked, and he nodded.

“You’ve got it,” he said.

“So, this sudden interest in my summer job prospects wouldn’t be so that you can write home and say that you’re personally involved with someone who’s very close to a highly-placed elementalist?” I asked.

“There are worse ways I could introduce you to the old man,” he said. “But really, I wasn’t thinking about that. Whatever my dad thinks, I don’t need these kinds of connections… not like you do. I mean, look at this conversation: I don’t have to stop and think about what I’m doing with myself for the summer. I can probably come up with something, but if I don’t, it’s taken care of. By default. If I get in some kind of a fight with the school? Okay, it’s not like I’m going to win automatically, but I won’t have to go digging for allies. I’m human. I’m an almost-fair-haired Imperial boy. My dad’s not going to endow a chair or anything but he could maybe contribute to a footstool, and… though I’m sure he exaggerates them, too… he does have connections.”

“On the other hand… it’s not like I’m universally despised,” I said. “I’ve had people rally around me. I didn’t have to go digging for Bohd or… well… Callahan to take a chance on me.”

“Nice that you’re acknowledging that,” he said. “But on the other hand, you also don’t have to go looking for fights. You need people you can count on, not just people who happen to turn up.”

“Well, yeah… but don’t I already have Bohd on my side? It’s not like she’d just turn her back on me if I gave her a polite ‘no thank you’,” I said. “I don’t think there’s that kind of quid pro quo at work here. I think she’d probably be insulted by the idea.”

“Yeah, but without some kind of, I don’t know… ongoing relationship, I guess… where’s her motivation to stick her neck out?” Ian asked. “I mean, I don’t want to sound callous about it but there are probably a hundred horribly unfair things that happen on campus every day. There’s racism and discrimination all over. But you’re her student. You sit right in front of her. She can’t ignore you. If, after the end of the semester, she doesn’t have anything more to do with you, then when the next thing happens… and you have to assume there will be a next thing… if she hears about it at all, it’ll be, ‘Oh. Mackenzie Blaise. I had her in a course. Good girl, lots of potential. I tried to help her, as best I could, but…'”

“But what?” I asked when he didn’t finish that thought.

“But nothing,” he said. “It doesn’t go anywhere, because there’s something else right in front of her now, demanding her attention. If you signed on for this summer job, though, then there would be a connection. You wouldn’t be the student she used to have. You’d be, I don’t know… one of her people.”

“You’ve given this a lot of thought in the last hour and a half,” I said.

“I was thinking about what I’d do in your place,” he said.

“Well, anyway… I’m still going to have to think about it,” I said. “But I do have some different things to think about now, at least.”

“That’s a start,” Ian said. “And anyway, I think the main thing is that we aren’t thinking to ourselves. I mean, right now, when we’re talking about the future… at least the immediate, foreseeable part of it… we’re talking about a future together, right?”

“Yeah… yeah, I suppose you’re right about that,” I said. “Does that mean you’re thinking about staying through the summer?”

“Well… it is a ways away,” he said. “But, yeah… now that I know that you probably will be, too, I’m definitely thinking about it.”

“It’s not definite,” I said. “I mean… Amaranth will be going back to her home, and it’s possible that something might happen with that… in terms of me going with her, I mean. We haven’t really talked about it.”

“Well, okay,” Ian said. “So talk about it with her… and then talk about that with me. Or we’ll all talk about it together. The point is that we are talking about this, thinking about it, so we don’t all just end up in a jumble of hurt feelings and shattered expectations somewhere down the line.”

I laughed, because I could totally see this happening… but at the same time, I thought Ian was making a big deal over nothing.

“What?” he asked. “You don’t think that could happen?”

“No, I do,” I said. “But I don’t think it necessarily would. I mean, I think it’s a good thing, you getting all proactive about this… but even if you didn’t, well, I think we’d end up talking about this stuff at some point in the course of things, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I did think that,” Ian said. “And I’m sure Amaranth would think it, too, and obviously you did… don’t you think it would be pretty easy to keep on thinking that?”

I sighed.

“What?” Ian said. “Don’t you agree?”

“I do,” I said. “That’s the problem… why is it that you being right about something makes me feel like I’m wrong?”


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39 Responses to “470: Sensitive Subjects”

  1. SilverMoon says:

    “If, after the end of the semester, you don’t have anything more to do with you, then when the next thing happens…”

    should be “you don’t have anything more to do with her” I think?

    Current score: 0
  2. Zathras IX says:

    Both Mackenzie and
    Mariel have futures with
    A lot of promise

    Current score: 1
  3. Luke Licens says:

    “If, after the end of the semester, you don’t have anything more to do with you, then when the next thing happens…”

    My internal typo-detector says one of those pronouns is wrong. I can’t say for sure which one, and that bothers me.

    Current score: 0
    • Kevin says:

      It looks like the second “you” in that sentence should be a “her” instead.

      For example: “If, after the end of the semester, you don’t have anything more to do with her, then when the next thing happens…”

      Current score: 0
      • or “If, after the end of the semester, she doesn’t have anything more to do with you, then when the next thing happens…” is how I ended up reading it, as I was reading it. I think I’ve got an auto-correct in my head.

        Current score: 0
        • Luke Licens says:

          That was my point. The way that it could go either way and still be right is much more troubling than the typo itself. Ambiguity is one of my sticking points. C’est la vie, I suppose.

          Current score: 0
  4. barnowl says:

    So Mariel didn’t really have much to say, Mackenzie’s going to talk to Puddy even though she doesn’t have anything to say to her, and Ian and Mackenzie had a discussion about having a discussion.

    Current score: 2
    • Gordon says:

      All in all, I’d say it was a pretty productive day, wouldn’t you?

      Current score: 3
  5. Burnsidhe says:

    It’s good to see Mack starting to wake up to planning beyond the moment or the next class.
    The promised talk with Puddy could go well, or it could go very poorly, but I think that Mack may be in a position now to end things more diplomatically.
    Hopefully Puddy will have changed in some way that Mack can actually recognize there’s been a change, even though I don’t see Mack wanting to hang out with Puddy ever again.

    Current score: 0
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      And maybe Mack will stop running afoul with Murphy’s Law. Seems highly out of character.

      Current score: 0
      • Chips says:

        Murphy has set up residence outside her room.

        As for the meeting… I don’t see it going any better than the shared dream. Mack will try to make a conciliatory statement and Puddy will get belligerent and try to blame everything on Mack. Mack will get upset and try to get Puddy to see that no, it IS all Puddy’s fault…

        oh, wait. That’s exactly how the dream went. Knowing AE, the conversation will somehow be entirely different. 😉

        Current score: 2
        • Gorgonopsid says:

          And that’s my real problem here. Mack has grown as a character while Puddy hasn’t, and honestly, she no longer really fits in the story.

          Come to think of it, Amaranth is in danger of falling into that same trap.

          Current score: 2
  6. drudge says:

    Somehow I feel this chapter is “one step forward, two steps back”. I mean it’s great they’re actually thinking about the future in some sense, but Mackenzie just managed to talk both Mariel and Ian into dropping the subjects for now at least. I mean the overbearing templar wanting to lock you away and the horrible shape-shifting serial killer watching out for her should be a bit higher on her list of important things. I mean it seems like every time some crazy chick wants to do something that will in some way end Mackenzies life all she does is push it in the backround and forget about it, proceeding to plug her ears every time the problem flares up and gets worse. I mean it’s in character but a bit of actual ACTION when heavily prompted wouldn’t be a huge break of character here.

    Current score: 0
    • mia says:

      she is taking action, learning how to fight, experimenting… it’s no big stretch for her to say “let problem come to me”…IF she’s being proactive in the meantime.

      Current score: 0
      • drudge says:

        But …she isn’t really. Outside class-time she’s hasn’t picked up her book more than once and hasn’t spent more than about an hour making a couple of very basic offensive spells she has yet to practice at all. That doesn’t strike me as more than a token effort given all of her practice and preparation can be fit into under two hours and requires a weapon she never carries around with her anyway.

        Current score: 2
  7. readaholic says:

    Om nom nom nom. More yummy MUness. Ian, as always, is a solid, awesome presence. Mack, as usual is managing to make progress and avoid something at the same time. Poor Mariel, at least she’s developing some independence from Puddy, although not very much. And I predict Trina is going to become a tabloid journalist who will get gossip from Mariel, who will become a stylist for celebrities.

    Current score: 0
    • Anthony says:

      You know how Amaranth is surprisingly smart when she isn’t trying to be? Likewise, Ian is surprisingly smart when he’s not dealing with family issues. Mackenzie really ought to listen to him about the Bohd thing…

      Current score: 2
  8. Malarky says:

    “For the immediate future, I’m going to be switching back to slightly shorter updates, more often.”

    Glad to hear it. I personally prefer that style to the current policy of having longer chapters with more time in between. I think the faster pace of updates keeps the story more fresh in my mind when I go to read the next one.

    Current score: 0
    • Frazzlebloo says:

      I thought that was already the plan, so I’m confused.

      Current score: 0
    • Dave says:

      +1
      Not that I mind the longer episodes, in fact I like them, but I know they take a long time to do and I’d rather have MU more frequently than more MU infrequently.

      Current score: 0
    • jc says:

      Yeah, more but shorter updates would be good. It’s getting so that by the time a new one comes out, I’ve forgotten just what was happening last time. I tell myself that I should go back and scan it to refresh my memory, but I want to read the new one, so I do. But the continuity ha sorta being lost.

      Maybe I should just come back in a month or so and read a whole lotta updates in one sitting.

      Current score: 0
  9. Elle says:

    “There are worse ways I could introduce you to the old man,”

    Ooo! The fact that he’s even mentioning this, even offhandedly like that – yay! Okay enough high schoolish squeeing…

    As for Mackenzie putting Ian off till later – she may think she has but I don’t think Ian is going to let it go so easily. I bet he’ll bring it up again, probably around Amaranth (although it might take a year in our time if AE doesn’t jump the timeline forward).

    Current score: 2
  10. Emma says:

    “She zoomed off, leaving Ian and I standing there in the hallway.”

    Shouldn’t that be “She zoomed off, leaving Ian and ME standing there in the hallway.”? Because if there had been no Ian it would have been “She zoomed off, leaving me standing there in the hallway” not “She zoomed off, leaving I standing there in the hallway”. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure that’s how it works….

    Current score: 1
    • Lunaroki says:

      You’re completely right. That’s exactly how it works. Funny how I missed seeing that when I read through it, and I automatically scan for typos as I read.

      Current score: 1
  11. Erm says:

    “Because I’ve got another piece: I think you should take Bohd up on her offer.”

    Whew, finally.

    Current score: 1
  12. JS says:

    Nah, Mack’s just been blackmailed and no one’s even mentioned that Mariel still holds all the power. And with her tenuous grasp on her own power, that means Puddy has the power.

    Current score: 1
  13. “The very concept of a promise seemed kind of peril-fraught to me… you made them in the present based on what you thought the future would hold. A promise was nothing more than a prediction, when you got down to it. I’ll love you forever. I promise. I’ll be there for you always. But no one ever got more than a glimpse of the future, and even those glimpses were mutable, to a degree. Were promises like that broken, or did they simply fail to come true?”

    Righteous.

    Also,
    ““I do,” I said. “That’s the problem… why is it that you being right about something makes me feel like I’m wrong?””

    Man, that’s so true sometimes. And I hate that it is >_<

    Current score: 1
    • Dave says:

      “a promise … made … based on what you thought the future would hold.”

      If I didn’t know AE lived a LONG way away from the UK, I’d have thought this was a reference to the Student Tuition Fees issue, (where the Liberal Democrat MPs have made two apparently sensible promises which are due to circumstances now in conflict).

      Current score: 0
  14. joe says:

    AE the story just keeps getting beter
    by the way we all miss STEFF and JILLIAN

    Current score: 0
  15. Sindyr says:

    Another excellent chapter. 😀 Keep up the good work, AE!

    Current score: 0
  16. seeker of virginities lost says:

    sorry, have to say it: this is getting boring.talking in hallways and inner monologues from mack. oh, and dreams about talking. and heterosexual brainy sex between consenting young adults.
    c’mon, AE! throw some clogs around or let everyone get drunk at steff’s to celebrate her boobies or… you’ve got dragons out there! i don’t mean to tell you what to write or anything, but i miss the old everything-happens-at-once kind of storytelling. please?

    Current score: 0
  17. Zergonapal says:

    Ian is totally right, Mack is not taking Boyd’s offer seriously enough. I mean who is to say that Boyd doesn’t have connections of her own. She is part demon so she has probably been alive longer than she appears and may well have done her time as a small time enchanter and could even still have connections in that industry.

    Current score: 2
  18. Dan says:

    …Huh. Weren’t they just talking about how they wanted to do something more about Iona? Why not just let Puddy find out? She’d blab to the news and presumably get Iona arrested, and she’d totally hog all the credit. I’m not sure what the problem is.

    Current score: 0
    • Rethic says:

      The problem is the whole world finding out that mermaids eat people, and don’t just look like half humans in the water. Exposing an entire race to hatred and predjudice when they might not all behave that way.

      Current score: 1
      • drudge says:

        Might not? We saw some mermaids, we know their religion. Feejee and Iona aren’t even remotley related, they’re from two different groups on different ends of the ocean. The only hint ANYONE among them has that this may not be a good thing is some old guy talking to a little girl.

        These two aren’t even members of any specific caste or that religious. Every damned one of them to a man believes it’s their literal god given right to attack ships and devour everyone inside.

        I don’t generally condone the attacking of an entire race, and if you actually read the story it’s a bad idea. But when you have stakes as high as “anyone who goes near the ocean at any point in their life” with an enemy consisting literally of “everyone with scales and fins that can string a sentence in pax together”, the situation becomes rather less ambiguous.

        Current score: 2
        • Gorgonopsid says:

          Yeah, but Mack and Ian don’t know that.

          Current score: 0
          • drudge says:

            Point. I will however point out that at this very second there are several thousand humans stranded at sea due to the tsunami they all seem to have forgotten about.

            I’d find it hilarious if they make such a big fucking deal about this, only for the secret to come out that way and F&J to yell that Mackenzie knew everything the whole time.

            Current score: 1
  19. Chips says:

    In reading this update I wish there was an equivalent book to “The 48 Laws of Power” that Ian could point Mack to.

    Sure, taken as Absolute Truth, the book is Machiavellian to the extreme and somewhat sociopathic… but since Mack likes to think for herself (thank goodness! Imagining her more like one of the Neko-chans…) she’d be able to see that you don’t need to apply every single Law to every single situation.

    Current score: 0
  20. Arakano says:

    Oh my… that’s an eerily accurate portrayal of a really warped person there, AE… I mean Mariel. Reminds me of that one woman who dated a convicted rapist and then wrote an article how her “poor boy’s life got ruined” by his conviction, and how he became oh-so-sad and all such crap… oh boy… yeah, hooray for being so emotionally deranged that you are viewing criminals as victims and vice versa. 🙁

    Current score: 2