OT: Splish, Splash

on October 26, 2014 in Other Tales


Author’s Note: This story is dedicated to my moving fundraiser donor Ghaleb, who sent a direct donation and asked for “a story involving 1) Callahan doing something utterly mundane, 2) Callahan relaxing/unwinding, or 3) Callahan naked, or one involving The Man.”

Sadly, I couldn’t choose between the prompts, so you get all of them.

Enjoy! <3 AE


She sighed and sank backwards deeper into the mountain of lavender-scented bubbles that were piled out the top of the white-enameled cast-iron tub like some gentle volcanic eruption caught in slow motion. The room was lit only by the flickering of scented candles on the vanity countertop, but her eyes were covered by a gel mask, and closed beneath that.

She lay almost completely motionless beneath the warmth-entrapping pile of suds, breathing quietly and deeply, in through her nose, and out through her mouth.

“I can smell you, old man,” she said, without moving.

“I doubt that very much. But keep your secrets, abomination.”

“No secret,” she said, sitting up but not touching the mask. “Just plain old-fashioned demon funk. Subtle, but unmistakable when you know it.”

“And not enough to cut through the floral-scented hell you’ve created for yourself,” he said.

She pushed the mask up onto her forehead, then brushed away most of the bubbles that had transferred to her face in the process. Blinking, her eyes focused on the man in the darkness. He was wearing a suit, which she knew to be on the cheap side of good. Tailored, but not bespoke. It was the kind of suit that impressed people who couldn’t afford to wear suits, but in the world above that it would mark him as a hustler and a pretender.

She knew this not because she knew a lot about suits but because she knew enough about him.

“Don’t get any ideas, now,” he said, grinning wolf-like at her. “You’d be dead before you even reached it.”

“I don’t even want to know what you think I’d be reaching for.”

“You could have a sword under all that… mess,” he said, waving a hand at the mound of foam. “It seems prudent to assume you’re always armed.”

“You’re not wrong about that last part,” she said. “It’d be more prudent to assume I’m always dangerous.”

He laughed.

“No mortal can harm me,” he said.

“Yeah, you might not want to lean on that too hard,” she said. “In my experience, the exceptions tend to pile up.”

She sank back down. Though she left the mask off her eyes, she took her eyes off the intruder and let them focus on nothing at all over her head.

“Well, woman?” he said, several long moments after she’d re-settled herself. “What do you have to say for yourself.”

“Not a damned thing,” she said. “That’s why I was sitting alone in the dark.”

“You owe me an explanation. If you make me drag it out of you, I will do so in the most literal sense possible,” he said.

She held up one hand towards him, shaking it until it was mostly free of the clinging suds. She waggled her fingers, showing off tapered nails

“Motherfucker, tell me what you see,” she asked.

“You painted them,” he said. “Green with dainty little daisy decals on them.”

“Fuck your decals,” she said. . “Asshole, I painted these.”

“But why?”

“It’s as exercise in dexterity,” she said. “Fine motor control.”

“Get real.”

“I am always real,” she said. “That’s why the flowers, anyway. Why I painted them at all is another kind of control. It’s break, genius. I don’t have to fight anyone until next year. I paint my nails to remind myself.”

“What, so you don’t forget not to fight?”

“So I don’t forget that I don’t have to,” she said. “So every time I look at them, I know.”

“I don’t follow you.”

“Good. Keep that up, because that’s a healthy habit,” she said. “The only thing you need to understand is that if you force me into a fight when my nails are done up like this, I will fucking end you.”

“Yes, yes… that’s the point of a fight, isn’t it? That’s what you teach in that little class of yours. But you can’t kill me, Jillian,” he said. “Even if you could hurt me, you couldn’t kill me here.”

“No, but I could send you home in a hurry,” she said. “And a little birdiecrat told me that you’re in no hurry to go there.If you force my hand now, not only will I do that, but I’ll follow you home and finish the job. There’s no coming back from that, little man.”

He laughed.

“Empty threats,” he said. “If I didn’t already know you were bluffing before, I would know now… the planes are closed to you, godkiller. You are bound to this world.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she said. “There are other worlds I can reach from this one, ones the gods aren’t in any position to block me from. I can go from there to other places. It’s just a matter of luck time. But to go to hell? I don’t even have to do that. I can get there anytime I want.”

“You don’t have that kind of power.”

“Anyone can get to hell if they just try really hard and believe in themselves,” she said. “It’s as easy as dying.”

“You’d kill yourself over a chipped nail?”

“First, I’ve killed myself over less before,” she said. “Including just to see what happens, so there wouldn’t exactly be any surprises in store. I don’t know what decides the exact destination, but I know if two hellbound souls die in close proximity to each other, they land in the same area. I’m willing to bet it would work the same for a soul and a demon.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” the man said. “I don’t make a habit of dying.”

“You should, it’s instructive,” she said. “You might learn a few things. Second, it wouldn’t be over the nails. It would be over the fight, and the fact that you made me have it.”

“So you’d kill me, then yourself, then me,” he said. “And for what? You’d still be in hell.”

“Only till I left.”

“I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a resurrection, girly,” he said. “Too many powerful folks would be too happy to have you gone to ever let that happen.”

“I wouldn’t wait,” she said. “I’m not some damsel sitting around in a tower needing to be rescued. Death doesn’t change that.”

“So, what, then? You’d fight your way out of the pit?”

“I told you: I’ve done it before,” she said.

“How stupid do you think I am?” he said.

“Pretty stupid so far, but I’m not done counting yet,” she said.

“You know, I don’t know why everyone is so piss-in-their boots afraid of you. You’re an interesting anomaly, woman, but nothing more than that.”

“I’ve killed gods,” she said.

One careless godling,” he said. “And not even your real target. You were made to be an assassin, but you’ve failed in the one job you were ever given by your makers. You’ve killed hundreds of mortals. You’ve wiped a few towns off the map. You’ve killed a handful of lazy, arrogant wyrms, creatures that sleep for millennia and take centuries to wake up all the way. Is so dire a reputation purchased so cheaply?”

“The thing is,” she said. “The thing is, I didn’t ask to be made, but if I had, I would have offered a few helpful suggestions to the people who made me. I don’t know if they thought it wouldn’t count as blasphemy if they didn’t target their weapon at a god in particular, or if they were afraid he would somehow hear me coming if they did, but they didn’t make me a god killer. They made me the ender of the endless. More than my job, it’s my nature to give a lifespan to anyone who was hiding in the back when they were first handed out. Now, all the demons in hell are true demons, ageless and immortal. Try to imagine what they look like, to me. What I look like to them. Consider how hard anyone’s really going to fight to keep me down there with them for all eternity.”

“I didn’t come here to fight,” he said.

“Then you shouldn’t have threatened me.”

“That was to avoid a fight.”

“Then you don’t know people as well as you claim.”

“I make no claims about knowing you,” he said.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t admit to knowing you, either,” she said. “You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want something.”

“Peace on earth and a little red wagon,” he said. “Blessed season to you, too.”

“Fucker, you need to tell me what you’re here for,” she said. “And it had better be to uphold your end of the bargain, or I’m going to be cranky as shit. I did what you wanted.”

“No,” he said. “You did what I asked.”

She snorted.

“Yeah, which means I upheld our deal. Funny, you getting caught like that,” she said. “But it wasn’t tricky wording. It’s that you didn’t believe I could do what I did, that she would do what she did. You didn’t just underestimate me, old man. You underestimated her. But whatever… I did my part. You came in here when I’m naked and alone and you think I’m vulnerable, growling and blustering at me because you thought you might cow me into backing down from the deal so you wouldn’t have to break it. You failed. So, the question you need to ask yourself is: are you going to break the deal yourself, or are you going to give me my due? This conversation’s not worth continuing until you’ve worked that one out.”

“Oh, I’ll give you what you earned,” he said. “And that’s one question down.”

“You are not seriously trying that shit with me,” she said. “I said you should ask yourself that question. Our deal was not that I get to make three suggestions to you. It was three questions. Tell me when you’re ready to answer, or get the fuck out.”

“You know,” he said, “the things people come up with when they’re backed into a corner are pretty revealing. you talk about growling and blustering, but what are you doing here? You’re unarmed. You’re not wearing a single magical item or piece of jewelry. You don’t have any magic of your own. You couldn’t pray me away, because no god in any heaven will hear your prayer, Gillian Gottmörder. So if you want to talk about cashing in your chip, let’s just acknowledge the naked truth: you couldn’t do shit to me.”

Still not looking at him, she raised her hand again and flipped him the bird. He laughed.

“See? You’re showing me how… ‘badass’… you really aren’t,” he said. “That is the response of someone without power and without hope. It’s brash defiance, which is exactly what you personify.”

“Look closer, shithead,” she said.

“Look at what? Your admission of impotence?”

“Except for my thumbnails, which I keep long and strong for gouging-related purposes, I keep the nails of all my fingers trimmed short so they don’t get caught on anything and tear painfully at a crucial moment in a fight,” she said. “Yesterday, they were short and blunt. Today, they’re long and pointy.”

“So?”

“So connect the dots,” she said.

“Magic press-ons,” he said. “That’s your secret weapon?”

“It’s my weapon,” she said. “And it’s all I need. Practically the first words out of your mouth were that you’d kill me the moment I reached for one. You had to do this because as much as you want to deride my reputation, you know what kind of a fighter I am, and what kind of a fighter you’re not. You knew that if I laid a hand on anything that could hurt you, the fight would be over before it began. I’m showing you: I don’t have to reach. Now, you miserable fucking shitlick, what do you fucking have to say to me?”

“…you have three questions,” he said. “Starting now. You may not ask me my name, or what my plans are for my offspring.”

“How many of Mackenzie’s other teachers did you make a deal with this semester?”

“None.”

“Make sure you’re certain about that, weasel dick,” she said. “Bearing in mind that I said ‘teachers’, not ‘professors’.”

“…one,” he said.

“Great,” she said. “And now I don’t have to waste a question asking who else you got to. You are not fucking slick, you know. The main reason you’ve gone as long as you have without getting caught or killed is that you’re a fucking coward.”

“You’re the one who teaches people to use whatever works for them. Next question.”

“How many living descendants do you have?”

“Three that I know,” he said. “You should have asked me to give you their names and locations, you know. If you needed to know the number, you could have counted, and you’d know a lot more.”

“I ask the questions that need answering,” she said.

“You have just one more. Better make it count.”
“If we stood on the plains of hell and you were battered and bloody, and I had my sword at your throat and told you the only thing that would save you is if you told me your name, what would you say?”

“Go fuck yourself,” he said, and he was gone.


Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!


Characters: ,





67 Responses to “OT: Splish, Splash”

  1. tomclark says:

    Well! That was certainly unexpeted. So now we have two new questions: who’s the other teacher… and who’s the other demonblood descendant?

    Oooh! And… it almost makes me wonder if it’s that one Professor who’s a little bit of many things, including demon. On the one hand, Mack Daddy sure does love to chase off other demonbloods in his territory, and he hasn’t run her off. On the other hand, her demon hunger has nothing to do with virgins or blood. So… hmm.

    Current score: 3
    • Kriss says:

      Tom, I think we all know who the ‘Teacher’ is. Only 2 people classify as such; Eloise, who I doubt would even consider making a deal with The Man, and Acantha

      Current score: 6
      • Mad Scientist says:

        Guys, you’re missing the specifics of the wording that Callahan was pleased about. Any of her professors don’t count as who he got to, so it can’t be Acantha. She’s only filling in for the class, but I’m pretty sure she’d have to be classified as a ‘professor’ for the scope of the question.

        My money is on the Weird Owl-Turtle Thing, truth be told. Although I couldn’t tell you how Callahan knew about him, it wouldn’t surprise me that she did.

        Current score: 7
        • Cadnawes says:

          Acantha specifically denied professorhood. She wouldn’t allow herself to be called such, and isn’t actually university faculty.

          Current score: 13
        • tomclark says:

          Good point, that did slip my mind. I really doubt it’s the ROTT, though. That just… wouldn’t feel right.

          Current score: 2
        • Anon says:

          As others have pointed out, Acantha isn’t a professor – No tenure. Most universities have non-professor teaching positions – mine used ‘Instructor,’ but I’m sure there are variations.

          But I’m more certain it’s Acantha than anyone else because Acantha pulled Mack into the Stone Soldiers group for a reason so strong that she went against a warning given to her by Embries, of all people, and she gave up 450 gold coins without a fight. Remembering that The Man has plenty of gold lying around (enough to retain Embries’ own goddamned law firm to sue the school), I think we just found out why she was so willing to let it go.

          I also don’t know what the Man has to offer the ROTT – its very nature lets it see through the kind of bullshit he spins.

          Current score: 3
    • Nocker says:

      Mack and Dan are two of the three. So there’s presumably a third one to account for. We have the statistics to think that The Man may have done anywhere between 20-50 offspring and to hear that he has such a high casualty rate is kind of noteworthy. His other hybrid is presumably one of the other things he and Kent are working on in addition to Mackenzie though.

      Acantha is the safest bet, since she teaches but isn’t a professor. But personally I think that’s way too obvious. GLORY has also been teaching her a bit about being an agent to a greater power and rounding out her formal education with extracurriculars. It’s also worth noting that The Man referred to Mackenzie’s future as “a piece of glory”, and he’s just glib enough to make that joke.

      Current score: 6
      • Cadnawes says:

        That joke is why I think it isn’t Glory. I suppose he could have intentionally cast suspicion on her BECAUSE she’s his plant, but that’s not my impression of his style.

        Current score: 0
        • Nocker says:

          He made that joke more than a year beforehand and is arrogant enough to not go right for the kill every time. Remember, he was monologing enough for Sam to think of a way out, at least temporarily. Hell, he makes mistakes with Mackenzie all the time, it’s just that unlike him she’s not smart enough to jump on them or do her own research. Which is why she doesn’t know about Aiden or his blatant lies on the subject, despite Amaranth reading up on the subject in front of her.

          It’s exactly the kind of screwup he’d make, and it’s exactly the kind Mackenzie would never catch onto on her own until it’s too late.

          Current score: 2
      • Dr Obvious says:

        He said, “Three that I know.”. He could have more that he’s not contacted and not be lying.

        Current score: 1
  2. Kriss says:

    Fantastic story, love the dynamic between Callahan and The Man. Nice little bit of extra info too

    Current score: 2
  3. Dani says:

    How do we know that the answers were true? This demon isn’t particularly honest. Does saying “cross my heart and hope to die” when making the deal guarantee the he won’t cheat?

    Current score: 0
    • Yumi says:

      Hasn’t it been established that what The Man says is always true, if not exactly honest? Though if that has been established, I could totally see him breaking that code or whatever. Still, I think think here at least he’d be answering truthfully, if not necessarily honestly.

      Current score: 1
      • Lyssa says:

        As evidenced by his first answer, no? He tried to slide through with “truthful” deception initially.

        Current score: 1
        • Yumi says:

          I think that’s kinda showing what my point was? He tried to give a truthful but dishonest answer, and then when pressed on it had to make it true.

          But anyway, now that I’m thinking about it, the character I was actually thinking of when I made this post was Coyote from Gunnerkrigg Court. So, that’s completely different and The Man is probably just a truth/half-truth when convenient, lies when convenient character.

          That said, I could totally see him always trying to tell the truth in a half-truth sort of way just because he’d find it more fun.

          Current score: 2
          • Lyssa says:

            Yes, I was agreeing with your point.

            Current score: 1
            • Yumi says:

              It has not been a strong week for me in regards to communicating on the internet.

              Current score: 3
          • Seth says:

            In this world, it seems a demon is bound by it’s true name, so it isn’t a huge stretch to believe he is bound by contract as well. Aside from your general “contract written in blood”, I don’t think there are any restrictions on if he can lie or not.

            Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      This is the same format the Scarecrow used, and he used the same weapon the Scarecrow was holding. Given the scarecrows rules and the way it operated I’d wager ol’ Mack Daddy is bound to give the real, honest answers and nothing less.

      Current score: 2
  4. Yumi says:

    An unexpected OT with unexpected information. Very exciting. Though I will say that I’m now far more interested in what was revealed here than in Mackenzie’s vacation. Maybe they’ll intersect?

    Current score: 2
  5. Not her, the other girl says:

    Thanks for the story idea Ghaleb! And AE too, of course, for writing all of this wonderfulness.

    I cackled out loud when The Man grudgingly said “…one.” And I like Callahan’s (Gottmörder’s) last question – she did not, in fact, ask him his name.

    I wonder if Gottmörder is/was actually her given name or if he’s just tweaking her – Gottmörder = german for god killer. I forget what the parallel for german is in this universe? Has that been established?

    Current score: 5
    • tomclark says:

      It’s been established that she was once known as Gillain Gottmörder, a long time ago.

      Current score: 2
    • AB says:

      yeah, dwarfish. All the dwarven clan names have been german so far iirc.

      Current score: 0
  6. Glenn says:

    So did Mack’s father ask Callahan to teach Mack how to fight? And the trick Callahan played was to make Mack so good at fighting that she doesn’t need to fight like a out of control demon in order to survive?
    Which of the people who have taught Mack this semester count as teachers but not professors? Acantha, Eloise, Teddi, and Glory come to mind. Of course, the Man may have underestimated their ability to do what he literally asks for without doing what he wants, in the same way he underestimated Callahan. Acantha’s lessons seem more in line with what the Man might want Mack to learn than Glory’s, but he did tell Mack her future would be a piece of glory during their first meeting.

    Current score: 1
    • JS says:

      I’m guessing the deal was to get Mack to embrace her demon side in a fight.

      Current score: 2
  7. Helge says:

    Magic press-ons. Didn’t expect that, but should have. Very nice.

    Current score: 7
    • Kaila says:

      No? I thought ‘magic’ at the first mention of ‘tapered nails’. Callahan’s not that girly – there’s some extra kicker for her in having ‘pretty’ nails.

      Perfect self-expression if you ask me.

      Current score: 1
  8. Cadnawes says:

    Anybody else get a hunch based on wording that Callahan’s met ROTT?

    Current score: 3
  9. readaholic says:

    Verrry Interrrresting…
    Well, that tells us a lot about the Man. He’s a coward, and more a conman and shyster than slick manipulator, and he doesn’t want to go back to Hell.
    That seems to argue that, rather than a long-term plot to eventually open the way for demons to return in full to the world, his goal is simply to maintain his ability to exist on this world, by having a living descendent around.

    Current score: 1
    • Nocker says:

      Considering his low opinion on the rest of demonkind, I doubt he really wants anything to do with them.

      Current score: 3
      • readaholic says:

        That’s assuming he’s telling the truth, of course.

        Current score: 2
    • Glenn says:

      Why is he wearing a cheap suit? Is there some profound metaphysical reason why he must wear clothing that reflects his true nature? Or did he deliberately buy a suit that causes poor people who can’t buy good suits to overestimate him, while simultaneously causing anyone who does know what a good suit looks like to underestimate him? Surely in a thousand years he’s made some money and learned how to find good tailors, so he isn’t wearing that suit for the same reasons a cheap human conman might wear it.
      I think he’s deliberately trying to make certain people, like Callahan and Mack , underestimate him.

      Current score: 2
      • Nocker says:

        Good tailors tend to live in big cities with warded walls and frequent patrols. A cheap suit though? THAT can be got off the rack anywhere and a go-between can grab it for you(It might have even been one of Laurel’s jobs back in the day).

        His decals are probably much more serious though. I’d bet money his cuffs, buttons, pins, and buckles are all worth a fortune due to material and buffs on them.

        Anyway I doubt he’s just trying to fool anyone. His usual interactions are with lower class little girls who don’t know better, and to even see the shabbiness Mackenzie had to go through a bit.

        Current score: 2
        • spess imvader says:

          It has been established he both has accesss to considerable wealth and can visit human residencies (as he used to visit Mack’s mother). The cheap suit is more likely to be part of his character. If not something innerent he cannot change, then something he doesn’t even notice.

          In any case, my respect for the man has considerably grown after this. He had the balls to visit, negotiate and even threaten and insult Callahan.

          On that account, it would be very odd that any soul descending into hell would remain immortal and able to harm and kill the locals, so I’d rather put that down to a successful bluff by Jillybeans.

          Current score: 0
          • Seth says:

            Bluff… maybe. Except that The Man found it plausible. Or at least close enough that he didn’t want to risk it.

            Current score: 0
  10. Conan the Grammarian says:

    > “just a matter of _luck time_”

    Sounds like there’s an extra word in there.

    Current score: 0
    • Order of Chaos says:

      We have “Space Time” so why can’t luck and time be the same in magic? 😉

      Current score: 0
  11. Author Unknown says:

    I’m assuming The Man wanted Mack to channel her demon half like she did in the final. This opens all kinds of interesting questions about the format of the final, as well as the mock boxes. When exactly were they commissioned? Perhaps Acantha’s industrial espionage as it relates to the mock boxes was a service for The Man.

    Current score: 0
    • Glenn says:

      Acantha’s actions with regard to Callahan take place in the context created by Acantha’s (correct) suspicion that Callahan is the “Thanato ton athanton”, or Death of the Undying. That means it’s not mere ‘industrial espionage’. If Acantha’s spying on Calahan is somehow in collaboration with Mack’s father, then she’s almost certainly dealing with Mack’s father because she thinks he can somehow help her deal with the mortal threat Callahan poses to all elves, including her.

      Current score: 1
      • Nocker says:

        It seems like a multi-layered effort where every party has their own goals, and alliances can be made or broken on a whim.

        Acantha knows that those boxes are more than just school props and dangerous in the wrong hands, those being the ones that made them. But she’s sloppy enough to use anything she can, including dragons and demons that’d kill her without a second thought, to stop it.

        Callahan believes that war is inevitable and thus there’s no real “end” to a fight, just prep for the next one. Her classes essentially train the next generation of elite units who learn things normal grunts can’t, and round out the ranks for any future Hydra Squad candidates. The deaths of her comrades also weigh heavily on her, so anything that’d stop it from happening again is also a plus to her, hence the mocks.

        The man believes …something, but it’s obvious whatever his big scary plan is it doesn’t involve numbers so much as a few elites. He has the space and time to have bred an army ten times over by now, but he only has three, one of which he’s never touched and isn’t suitable for him, and that’s in line with statistics Sam and Harlow researched. So he ONLY wants two candidates at a time, for some reason.

        Current score: 3
        • Glenn says:

          Sloppy is perhaps too pejorative an adjective. I’d say Acantha may be desperate enough, or maybe even heroic enough, to risk her own life trying to fight the plans of someone who is every Elves’ worst nightmare. When she realized who Callahan was, she could have run away from the University, or at least kept her head down and prayed Callahan wouldn’t notice her. But instead, she’s fighting against Callahan in every way she can. Not just by spying on Callahan, which might have been enough to get her killed, but by training Mack, and working with Embries and maybe The Man. She has to know she’s risking her own immortal life, but apparently she thinks the risk is worth it.
          And Callahan’s motives seem to have been set by her creators. She is, by design, the Death of the Undying. War for her isn’t just a constant part of the (demi)human condition, it’s a series of opportunities to achieve her goal of killing as many immortals as possible. She is trying to make war more destructive, by funding weapons research and training ever more skillful soldiers, because those more powerful weapons and more skillful soldiers may help her kill immortals.
          As for the Man, the ultimate enemy of any demon is probably the God who cursed and exiled demonkind. Khersis. If there was some way to kill Kheris, or undermine his worship among Humans, or even steal some or all of his power, that would be the ultimate achievement any demon could hope to achieve. Maybe Mack’s father’s plans don’t reach that level of megalomania, but I suspect that’s what he really wishes he could do.

          Current score: 1
        • Baalzamon says:

          I initially discounted the possibility that The Man had made a deal with Glory, because Acantha seems so much more obvious. However, Glory has seemingly engineered a way for Mack, who is irresistable to male half-demons (among other predators), to meet her half brother… aaaand now I can only see The Man as Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate.

          Current score: 0
          • Glenn says:

            Dan is Mack’s full brother, not her half. Mack’s father has a third descendant besides Mack and Dan, but we don’t know who it is, or how many generations separate him or her from the Man. Dan is in AE’s fantasy equivalent of Britain, while Glory’s air cruise never leaves her fantasy equivalent of the US, so I see no evidence Glory is trying to arrange for them to meet. And Mack is only irresistible to half demons when she is not using her magical birth control potion.

            Current score: 3
        • Author Unknown says:

          I believe the only two candidates thing boils down to two things: He is, as Callahan put it, a coward. Every interaction he makes with people like Callahan is a chance for things to go horribly wrong for him. Secondly he is a control freak. Approaching Callahan is not something you do without considerable forethought. How many different projects can he really devote that kind of attention to? The planning, the manipulations, and just keeping informed of what is going on in Mack’s life has got to take a serious amount of time.

          Current score: 2
  12. Cadnawes says:

    You know what’s REALLY interesting, the more I think about it? Callahan made a deal with a demon in an area where their interests intersected. (Reduce a student’s/daughter’s squishability.) Her reward was three questions.

    She arguably could have used those to learn ANYTHING a demon might know, which no doubt contains a lot of hard to get information. She used them instead to get information concerning Mack, stuff that might help her; and then to offend the man himself. Whatever the reason, that solidifies in my mind Callahan’s status as Mack’s best ally.

    Current score: 8
    • Glenn says:

      Callahan’s goal is to kill all immortals. There are some immortals, like her father and the rest of the demons, that Mack might be willing to help her kill. There are other immortals, like Amaranth, Glory and Dee, who Mack might fight to the death to protect. Any alliance between Mack and Callahan can only be a temporary, provisional one, which lasts only as long as Callahan is focused on killing the immortals that Mack would like to see dead, so Callahan is definitely not Mack’s best ally. What Callahan’s choice of questions shows is not that she likes Mack or want to help her, but that she thinks Mack could either powerfully help or hinder her in her own quest to kill immortals.

      Current score: 1
      • Cadnawes says:

        Cuz that’s the only interest she has?

        That is a reasonable factor, but I don’t think it’s the only one. I must second the thought somewhere up above that she’s mentioned biding her time between wars, and next war, another Hydra may be assembled. If it is, Callahan will almost certainly find her history repeating itself. Several of the students at Mu, Mack among them, would also likely find themselves entrapped/recruited by virtue of what they are and failure to read the fine print. Better for everybody if they know how to roll with the punches then.

        At the risk of potentially agreeing with Acantha, it doesn’t matter if someone has your back for self serving reasons as long as they have it nevertheless.

        Current score: 0
      • Nocker says:

        You’re forgetting that the urgency of Mack’s immortal enemies makes an alliance an almost inevitable necessity. Mercy is never going to stop her plans, as long as she lives, no matter how many lives it costs. Emberies is still weighing his weight on her mind and we’ve seen that even a great dragon cannot throw that weight off so long as the other dragon is living. The man is rigging things that are so huge in scope they could jeopardize everything.

        A couple of young elves aren’t high on Callahan’s list, and if she’s killing Nymphs Amaranth is probably also pretty low on that list since there are older and more dangerous nymphs bumping around, and ones Khale clearly places greater importance on due to age or proximity. Meanwhile, Mercy has been on Callahan’s register since at least the Chaos War, and Emberies and she have traded threats at least once.

        It would be temporary, but a long kind of temporary. Killing a greater dragon or demon patriarch may be a years long effort, and a fighter on Callahan’s own level with at least double the number of half demons is obviously something that takes at least as long, if not longer.

        Current score: 0
  13. pedestrian says:

    “a little birdiecrat ” Alexandra, I just love how you invent new words!

    All the commentators make reasonable points.

    However, I do not agree that we have enough information to actually confirm or deny any of these hypothesis.

    This is a fictional story and the facts of canon will be whatever AE chooses and however she chooses to interpret them.

    Current score: 1
  14. Arancaytar says:

    They made me the ender of the endless. More than my job, it’s my nature to give a lifespan to anyone who was hiding in the back when they were first handed out.

    woah.

    Current score: 4
  15. Arancaytar says:

    You’re unarmed. You’re not wearing a single magical item or piece of jewelry. You don’t have any magic of your own.

    As the Doctor put it: “Yeah! And doesn’t that scare you to death?”

    Current score: 10
  16. Arancaytar says:

    “How many of Mackenzie’s other teachers did you make a deal with this semester?”

    “None.”

    “Make sure you’re certain about that, weasel dick,” she said. “Bearing in mind that I said ‘teachers’, not ‘professors’.”

    “…one,” he said.

    ho

    lee

    SHIT

    “Three that I know,” he said. “You should have asked me to give you their names and locations, you know. If you needed to know the number, you could have counted, and you’d know a lot more.”

    “Yes, but that’d spoil the readers.”

    Current score: 6
  17. hyrax says:

    “Motherfucker, tell me what you see,” she asked.

    “You painted them,” he said. “Green with dainty little daisy decals on them.”

    “Fuck your decals,” she said. . “Asshole, I painted these.”

    and i thought it wasn’t possible to love Callahan more than i did.

    (fantastic OT, all around.)

    Current score: 5
  18. OhPun says:

    Great story. I find it amazing that anyone would ever think that Callahan would be without weaponry.

    I imagine the room in hell where The Man was born. Demonic (of course) nurse approaches the birthing pit just after the screaming little hellspawn has been born.
    Nurse: What do you want to name it?
    Mother: Go fuck yourself.
    Nurse: Whatever you say, Mrs. ShitForBrains. (leaves room writing on a piece of paper)

    Current score: 6
    • Nocker says:

      That’s hilarious. I wonder if Mackenzie would have to change last names when she died?

      Though on that note it occurs to me that The Man isn’t just affecting things HERE. Every single one of his spawn the die in the “real” world go straight to hell, where they start out with enough experience and skill after decades or centuries in the world to seriously upset things.

      Current score: 1
    • Order of Chaos says:

      It struck me as odd that she told The Man how she could kill him instead of letting him attack or leave ignorant, could she want him alive?

      Current score: 0
      • Nocker says:

        One of the first things a fighter learns is not to let your opponent make the first move. Especially if you have inferior equipment and possibly reach. If he got in the first hit he could actually do damage.

        Though I can see why she’d want him alive. He’s still actively spawning hybrids, and personality isn’t genetic. Imagine a generation from now when she finds Mackenzie’s new little sister, who’s every bit as strong and fast but doesn’t have the mental or personality based issues.

        Current score: 0
        • spess imvader says:

          You assume she cares enough to plan that far ahead. She is chaotic, and unlikely to give a damn about what The Man does or fails to do, as long as it doesn’t affect her. Her only interest in him is because he is messing with a student of hers she sees potential in, and thus indirectly with her. Nothing so extreme as to go out of her way to kill him at all costs, unless, as she warned him, he messes directly with Callahan.

          In the same way, she is not making complex plans to kill immortals. She just lives the moment, always ready for if trouble knocks on her door.

          Current score: 0
          • Glenn says:

            I suspect you are seriously underestimating Callahan’s intelligence. AE once gave us a look at her world’s geopolitics. Consider the following quote.

            “The Holy Kingdoms of Lesser and Greater Merovia are the chief rival to the Empire of the Mother Isles in the old world. They are a distant second in most measures of military power, but the presence of a deity-in-residence gives them a strong trump card. “Le frontier”, the border of Lesser Merovia is one of the most mystically and physically fortified borders in the world, capable of repelling a greater dragon. At night, its glow is visible from fifty miles away. At times, Merovia has been an ally to Magisteria, by dint of a common enemy.”

            Callahan fully intended to destabilise the balance of power between the Old Empire and Magisteria (the country the University Mack attends is in) by killing the “deity in residence” mentioned in the above quote. She infiltrated a conclave of the Gods to do it, and she might very well have succeeded if the Gnomish God hadn’t deliberately foiled her plans by getting Callahan’s target to leave the meeting early by hinting another God might soon be making an appearance. If Callahan had succeeded, she might have started a world war.
            I’m pretty sure the mock boxes are another example of Callahan’s talent for long term planning. They represent a magical breakthrough that could change the nature of war in a way greatly beneficial to a super fighter like Callahan.

            Current score: 1
      • Arancaytar says:

        Well, she outright said that doesn’t want to fight right now. In order to avoid a fight, she has to let him know that she could kill him if necessary.

        In other words, the tactical advantage of surprise is outweighed by the strategic advantage of dissuading him from attacking.

        Current score: 0
  19. Trent Baker says:

    I like Callahan, anti-heroes are so interesting.

    Current score: 1
  20. Mack says:

    I also keep my thumb nails freakishly long for gouging purposes. The rest are cut fully down.

    I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this. I hold Callahan in the highest esteem, so this is dandy.

    Current score: 1
    • Mickey Phoenix says:

      …and I thought the *fictional* Mack was sexy…

      🙂

      Current score: 0
  21. Kyung Liskey says:

    Not long ago, I didnt give plenty of consideration to making responses on site page posts and have left comments even much less. Reading through your pleasant post, will aid me to do so sometimes.

    Current score: 0
  22. Moridain says:

    I missed this OT somehow on my first readthrough. Wow. That changes some context. 😀

    Current score: 0
    • Hollowgolem says:

      And this is the most recently we’ve seen Callahan.

      I miss her.

      Current score: 0
  23. Lara says:

    Fascinating. I really can’t get enough of Callahan, she’s so interesting. This was a great chapter.

    Current score: 0