Chapter 1: The More Things Stay The Same

on April 4, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
Timeline: , , , ,

In Which The More Things Change…

Even though a whole year had passed since the first weekend at Magisterius University, some of my sharpest, clearest memories of my time at MU are of that weekend. The whole weekend was made up of firsts: the first time I set foot on campus, the first time I met Amaranth, who became my first lover… and the first time I met Puddy, who became my first abuser outside of my family.

The more time I spent in the hallways and classrooms of the university, in my dorm room or the lounges and bathrooms of Harlowe Hall, the less each additional moment mattered. The less impact it had.

Some of my worst memories were of that first weekend, too. Plopped down in the midst of all that mind-searing newness was me, fresh off the coach from a small town in Blackwater Province and with nine years of some really pretty terrible social conditioning to overcome. I’d been so eager to prove myself to others and so unwilling to have my worth proven to myself. I’d been awkward in every sense of the word, socially backwards and clumsy. I’d been easy prey for others.

That last part at least was a lot less true by the start of my second year.

I’d shown up at MU for the first time determined that everything would be different for me there. It had been, of course. But lacking any sort of prior experience or frame of reference or plan, “different” hadn’t necessarily equaled “better”.

At the risk of history repeating itself, I was determined at the start of my second year that things really would be different. At that point, though, this was more of an observation than an overly-optimistic determination.

Things already were different. I knew where things were on campus and how they worked. I had a better handle on who I was and what I was capable of. I had friends and lovers. Since I’d spent the summer session at MU, I had spent more time on campus than the incoming freshmen and most of the returning sophomores… half of the undergraduate student body. It’s such a little thing to count as a confidence booster, but when your confidence needs boosting you’re willing to settle for little things.

Also, some of the little things are huge.

Having just one person you know with you can be a little thing. I mean, I’d never been the sort of person to feel lonely or need other people around me constantly, after all. I guess I’d missed my friends while they were away for the summer, but I’m not sure that I had missed them in the same way that they’d missed me. There were nights where I woke up horny and there were times when I positively ached for Amaranth, but all in all… well, I’d never found myself bored and wanting company. When I was bored I’d gone over to the library, or wasted time on the ethernet. I’d had what you might call a lonely childhood, but a side effect of that was that I’d never acquired the habit of other people.

Still, having someone to hang out with and talk to and just be with made a huge difference when dealing with something huge and new.

My girlfriend Amaranth wasn’t due to arrive for another day. She and her fellow cereal nymph had agreed to take separate coaches from their home in Paradise Valley, and Barley had taken the first one. My boyfriend Ian was traveling from farther away and wouldn’t arrive until nightfall. Steff, my other girlfriend, had flown in the day before. She’d spent the night getting settled in with Viktor in their new dorm room on the third floor of Harlowe Hall, the designated non-human dorm, but she was spending the afternoon with me. Ogres are a nocturnal people, and even though Viktor’s half human, spending the day out in the bright sunlight wasn’t his idea of a good time.

The first time I’d met Steff had been when she’d been “personning”… to use her word… the table for the Prism Pride Coalition. We didn’t get to know each other until after we met again in history class the following Monday. Now that first meeting had come full circle, as I was helping her cover the table while her friends from the PPC were off getting food and chasing down the faculty advisor for something or other.

The first year, she’d been dressed androgynously for the task, as the group’s leadership had decided that a physically male half-elf wearing women’s clothing might give the wrong impression. I personally thought that it might give the impression that the PPC was accepting of people with any gender identity or expression, but I wasn’t even a member of the group.

This year either there was no issue, or Steff hadn’t cared what anyone thought. She was wearing a beautiful elven-style gown… it wasn’t authentic, of course. No elf would make a dress to fit the generous curves Steff’s narrow frame had gained through alchemical intervention in the time between last year’s festival and this one.

By this time, she’d looked like that for most of the time that I’d known her… but it was still her “new” look to me. First impressions can be a powerful thing. I’d taken Steff as a woman from the first time I’d seen her wearing a skirt. Her tendency to wear either loose blouses or modest false breasts had been enough to convince my eyes I was seeing a girl. The lack of hips hadn’t fazed me, as the pale-skinned elves of the surface were never known for their sexual dimorphism.

Learning… eventually… that she had a penis hadn’t changed the impression of her as a girl one bit. It had taken a bit of explanation for me to grasp how that worked… or maybe to realize that how was less important in such cases than who. Steff was who she was, and a girl was part of who she was.

Credit went to my one-time roommate, current suitemate, and informally adopted sister Two for helping me work that out.

Likewise, I now accepted curvy Steff as being Steff… she still had the same pale and angular face with only a little more roundness to it. She still had the same wispy whitish-blonde hair. I knew the body she wore was her real body, the only one she had. Most of the time when I closed my eyes and thought of her, it was what I saw… let’s face it, picturing big breasts didn’t exactly strain my brain.

Steff was still Steff. She still excited me, frustrated me, cheered me up, and occasionally frightened me. But I’d seen her before, I’d grown fond of and familiar with her before… I’d seen the change, and so it would always register to me as being a change.

It was possible I might get used to it, though, as other things in my life changed. There was probably a finite number of things that could seem new, different, and strange at one time.

For one thing, the festival was larger than it had been the year before, in that there were more booths. More merchants from the nearby town of Enwich and the surrounding environment were participating, as MU was in the process of expanding. More housing and classrooms had been added to the campus. There were more concessions available for retail and fast food businesses and more would be added in the next two years.

It was larger but it seemed smaller, because it was more spread out. The crowd was thinner. In fact, there were pretty much two crowds as the tables and booths were clustered in two main areas, one in the five-sided field and plaza in front of the old student union and the other in front of the new student life center and the bardic arts building.

Whoever had handled the logistics of the thing had made some deft decisions in assigning spaces to avoid traditional rivalries. Last year, I’d witnessed an illusion fight between the queer pride PPC and a religious group… religious meaning Khersian, of course. In the plains of central Magisteria it almost always did, at least among humans. That was one of the internalized attitudes I’d brought with me that had only eroded slowly and over time.

The conflict between the gay and Khersian groups was avoided this year by distance. We were stationed on the pent, in sight of where the fountain with the three dragon fountains had stood last year, spewing illusionary fire and actual water. That familiar landmark was also now gone. It had been removed over the summer quietly and without fanfare, having been inextricably associated with the violent death of an MU student inside of what was supposed to be the protective aegis of the network of enchanted paths.

The death of Leda the swan princess had been officially attributed to a freak monster attack. I was one of the few people who knew that the “monster” had been another student. I was also one of only two people who knew exactly what had happened to her murderer.

In the place of the fountain where Leda had died stood a stunning illusionary sculpture of MU’s tri-dragon mascot as it would look rendered in icy-white crystal. The ground around it was covered with a shimmering illusion of water. It would have looked cool, but for what struck me as a rather ghoulish touch: at the dragons’ feet was the figure of a swan that slowly shifted into a tall, thin girl of regal bearing. Part of the funds for the illusion display had been donated by Leda’s family, but I imagined that its existence in the first place was part of the off-the-books settlement they’d reached with the Imperium.

Even knowing what had happened there, I missed the real fountain. It was familiar… it fit in with the surrounding architecture better… and it couldn’t begin to be as much of a haunting reminder of Leda and her fate as a life-like but ghostly image of Leda herself that we’d have to walk past every day was.

The fountain had also incidentally been the site of my first spanking, at the oh-so-knowledgeable hands of Amaranth. I hadn’t been a fan of the public aspect of that, but the experience had been a revelation. I never had completely got over the idea of sex as something shameful, but I had learned to enjoy the shame… and I wasn’t ashamed of that.

For all the changes, there were some familiar aspects to the festival. Illusionists still used it as a prime chance to show off. The show-stopping centerpiece was the official tri-dragon mascot… a flight of three dragons that looped about overhead, occasionally forming into one dragon with three heads for a while and then splitting again. I’d missed the merge-and-split routine last year, but I hadn’t exactly lingered long. I’d also arrived later in the day, when there was less supervision and the people casting the illusion and maintaining it had cared less and the dragons started changing colors and sporting wacky headgear. At this point, they were still proudly wearing the school colors of purple and green.

One of the crew running them was my former floormate, Celia the nagakin. During a break in the dragonflight, she wandered over to us.

“What’s up, snatch-hatchers?” she said by way of greeting.

That, too, was a mixture of the familiar and the new. Celia’s kind had a mixture of mammalian and reptilian traits, though she’d always firmly identified as a reptile and had disdained mammalian folk as “pink skins”… never mind that we weren’t all pink, or that she was, too. If you excused her almost non-existent nose and ears, overlooked her snake eyes, and didn’t see her open her mouth, she could have passed for a hairless flat-chested human girl.

Apparently she’d spent her months off learning new and more accurate ways to insult us… it took me a few seconds to parse what she’d said, but once I did I had to admit it was actually a pretty good one.

I didn’t have to admit it out loud, though. I was working on controlling my temper. I’d never exactly been a raging berserker or anything… the thought of violence still had a tendency to turn my stomach… but I did have a problem with what Amaranth called volume control. For most of my life, I’d either clammed up completely under stress or vomited out my naked reactions without any restraint… all or nothing. Under Amaranth’s guidance… and with a little help from Teddi Lundegard, one of the school’s certified mental healers, I’d made some strides in things like letting things roll off my back or acknowledging them without losing control.

Given that I was nominally representing an organization that I didn’t even belong to, this seemed like a “roll off my back” kind of moment.

“Hello, Celia,” I said. I tried to smile at her. I couldn’t say how successful I was. “You volunteered for dragon duty this year?”

“Volunteered? Nah, I had to,” she said. “I’m on scholastic probation because of my grades last semester. My advisor got some of them adjusted but I have to be on the drill team. It’s not all bad, though… I’m getting lots of practice on scales.”

“You know, I used to think illusion was a soft option,” Steff said with a great big smile on her face. Steff’s snark rarely sounded anything other than absolutely, delightfully chipper… only if she were really upset by something would it sound nasty. And she was being snarky. I knew her enough to know that. I could even guess the shape of the next thing that would come out of her mouth before she said it. “Then I realized it’s actually an intangible one.”

“Ha fucking ha,” Celia said. Illusion was one of the easier schools of magic, in terms of power drain… but in fairness to illusionists, there was a lot of skill involved. Not that Celia had necessarily mastered them. “Do you know what the difference between illusion and necromancy is?”

“If you’re confused about that, that might explain the probation,” Steff said.

“Illusionists never get in trouble for fucking their homework,” Celia said.

“Don’t be silly… all sex is illusory, ultimately,” Steff said. “Any time we fuck someone, we’re fucking an illusion.”

“That’s pretty cynical for someone who believes in love,” I said, a little stung. I knew Steff had her cynical side. I knew she could use people for pleasure… I knew that she used me for pleasure. But she also cared, and she loved. She liked to act like these things were unrelated… she liked my company and she loved me, and she also enjoyed fucking me… but I didn’t see how they could be.

“We fall in love with illusions, too,” Steff said. “Don’t look at me like that, hon. It doesn’t mean the love isn’t real… or that the sex isn’t. But how the fuck are we supposed to know what another person’s really like when we can barely even know ourselves?”

“Says you,” Celia said. “I know who I am. That’s why I stayed with Harlowe instead of trying to shed my skin and walk with the humans.”

With that, she turned and walked back to where the rest of the drill team was. Steff had been the one who’d pissed her off, but she’d thrown her last barb at me.

“I know you had your reasons for switching dorms, and I almost switched, too… but I do kind of wish you hadn’t,” Steff said. “It seems so empty over there. I mean, the lower floors have always been less full than the upper floors, because of people dropping out or finding other accommodations, but it seems emptier than it was. The fourth floor, too.”

“People are still arriving,” I reminded her.

“Yeah, but the crowd’s… less crowded,” she said. “And everyone’s talking about… well, they’re talking about you.”

“Nice to know some things don’t change.”

“I mean as the ringleader of the whole Harlowe Exodus,” she said.

“Is that what they’re calling it?” I asked. “I just wanted a different living situation for my sophomore year.”

“Yeah, but you’ve got three other Harlowe girls with you… you’ve personally decimated the sophomore floor of the girls’ side,” Steff said. “And other people followed your lead.”

“I don’t have a lead,” I said. “If anything, they’re probably following Shiel… she’s the one who actually made a bunch of noise about moving out. Considering that I moved dorms in part to get away from nosey people, I’d really rather that nobody noticed. Besides, we aren’t ‘Harlowe girls’. We lived in Harlowe last year. This year in Gilcrease. If the tower doesn’t work out the way we want it to, or we don’t all want to live with each other next year, we’ll end up being somewhere else.”

“You see?” Steff said.

“No,” I said. “What am I supposed to see?”

“You’re pretending your move wasn’t political, but then you say you’re not Harlowe girls.”

“I’m not being political,” I said. “I didn’t break some rule or smash down some barrier to go live in Gilcrease… you said yourself that a few people find other accommodations each year.”

“Right, but that’s just people drifting away or finding human friends to room with. It’s not purposeful movement, like when four Harlowe residents all move out at once,” Steff said. “And three of you are known political agitators.”

“Amaranth wouldn’t like to be called any kind of an agitator,” I said. “She’s a political soother.” I couldn’t really argue that Dee was politically minded, as she’d become more involved in campus protests and awareness campaigns as she came to learn more about the surface world. “And I’ve never agitated politically on purpose.”

“You’re just a natural born rebel, Mack,” Steff said. “Have you seen much of Dee?”

“She got in on Wednesday,” I said. “Well, Tuesday, but she was staying with her entourage until they checked out the dorm situation. I haven’t seen much of her since then. She’s been spending most of her time meditating in her room. The only time I’ve seen her is when she needed to use the sink while I was taking a bath.”

“She just walked in while you were bathing?” Steff said. I could tell from her voice… and from the fact that it was Steff saying it… that she was less scandalized by the idea than she was turned on by envisioning a version of events that was pornier than anything likely to have actually happened.

“She asked first,” I said. “I didn’t mind. Really, I’m the last person who should be monopolizing the bathroom since I don’t need to use the, you know, facilities.”

“Neither does Amy,” Steff said, using the pet name she used for Amaranth to get around the fact that her name was uncomfortably close to that of Steff’s elven father. “I guess Two and Dee really lucked out there, if they have to share one toilet with two other girls.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Though it’s still one bathroom for the four of us. We’re going to have to figure out how to work that stuff out in the mornings, once everyone’s here.”

“Well, on the plus side Amy’s intrinsically clean and never has to do anything more with her hair than give it a little shake and watch it fall into place,” Steff said.

“I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right,” I said. I had fond memories of showering with Amaranth, and I knew she enjoyed steamy hot showers, but there would be no reason she’d need to be in line for the tub every morning before class.

“And Dee and Two are both early risers, so they’ll probably be done and gone before you get in there,” Steff said. “Hey… I feel dumb for not thinking to ask what her summer plans were before, but Two didn’t go back to that shitty golem group home, did she?”

“No,” I said. “She went to Logfallen with her friend Hazel.”

“Oh, good for her,” Steff said. “And for her friend Hazel. I’m surprised she’s allowed to bring ‘big people’ back to the shire, though.”

“It’s probably a little scandalous, but I have the impression Hazel’s already pretty scandalous there,” I said.

A couple people drifted over from the next table, and I faded into the background to let her deal with them. She was a lot better at talking to strangers than I was, and she was actually a member of the Prism Pride Coalition where I was just sort of hanging out behind their table. While she talked to them and the next group of people who followed, I opened up my notebook and resumed work on my plans.

A year ago, the idea of enchanting weapons would have filled me with distaste. There were so many better things… cooler things, more useful things, less violent things… that could be done with modern enchantment techniques than making magic weapons. That was one reason why Applied Enchantment was a whole separate major from Armoury.

But the necessity of dealing with weapons had helped me to see that the things that drew me to enchantment didn’t disappear when the subject was a weapon rather than some other sort of tool or device. Especially after I lost my knife and started fighting with staves instead… a staff was a traditional wizard’s tool, after all. It had most of the properties of a wand, and a few others besides.

I couldn’t begin to afford the sort of wizard’s staff that would be worth paying for, of course, even without throwing in the need for it to be useful as a melee weapon.

“Journaling again?” Steff asked me when there was a break.

“I told you I gave that up,” I said.

That was just another example of how easy it was for people to get the wrong impression based on a few interactions. I’d tried keeping a journal during part of my freshman year, and even though nothing had really come of it, anybody who’d seen me writing in it and asked what I was doing now gave me a knowing look any time I pulled out a notebook. Given that we were at university and I liked to write and sketch out random spell and enchantment ideas, this was often.

“So what are you doing, then?” she asked.

“Just streamlining some of my ideas for my staff,” I said.

“You haven’t taken care of your weapon already? Class starts next week, and Jilly’s not going to go easy on you this year.”

“I have a staff,” I said. “But the one I bought is a blank.”

“A what?”

“It’s a weapon that’s enchanted to be enchantable,” I said. “It has its own susceptibility to enchantment enhanced, and it also has spells in place to sustain and power temporary enchantments put on it… makes it good for practicing complex enchantment work, but it also means I can lay enchantments on it before the start of class and they’ll last all the way through the end of it.”

“Oh, cool!” Steff said. “Also: nerd.”

“Anyway, Coach Callahan has never gone easy on anybody,” I said. “The fact that she could be harder doesn’t make her easy.”

“No, you’re right, that’s not what makes her easy.”

“And now we’re in territory I really don’t want to hear about,” I said.

“Don’t worry, we’re not fucking,” Steff said. “At the moment, I mean. Though I guess you’d probably notice if that were the case.”

“There really should be a rule about that,” I said.

“There is… but it only applies if I’m in one of her classes,” Steff said. “I’m already ahead of the game in weapon proficiency credits, so I can go all the way to graduation without putting myself off-limits.”

“I meant a rule against you having sex with her,” I said. “Or her having sex with anyone.”

“I don’t think you’d like that,” Steff said. “Jillybean gets violent when she’s not getting laid. Or when she is. At the same time she’s getting laid, I mean. But also before and after. Let me try this again: she remains violent regardless of whether or not…”

Basement,” I said. This was my safeword. Was it meant to be used to end a conversation I didn’t want to hear? Probably not specifically. But as a shorthand way of letting Steff know how serious I was about not wanting to hear about her sex with “Jillybean” Callahan, it got the job done.

“Oh, here comes Markel again,” Steff said. “Finally.”

“His name is Marcel,” I corrected her. I couldn’t see him, but I didn’t doubt her word. Steff’s senses weren’t as sharp as a full elf’s, but they were far more acute than mine. “You should be nicer to the freshmen.”

“Was anyone nice to you?”

“Some people were,” I said. “Present company sort of intermittently included.”

Steff stood up, pushed her long, straight hair back off of her shoulders, and then leaned towards me. Her lips formed a tight, wicked little smile.

“You wouldn’t like me if I were nice all the time,” she said without moving them, her voice tickling in both my ears like a faint wind. Elven voice magic was one of Steff’s favorite tricks. It had lost most of its power to startle me, but now that it was familiar, it felt intimate.

“I might,” I said. “I’d like you differently but I’d still like you.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” Steff said, taking my hands and pulling me up out of the folding chair. She put her face very close to mine and stared into my eyes, deeply and without blinking. “I know you, Mack. Amaranth is your safety. Ian, even when he’s doing his Lord High Dongmaster routine and making you crawl, is your security. I’m your thrill, Mack. You like me a little nasty. You like me dangerous. You like my edge.”

I blushed. That much was also still the same. No matter how much better I got at controlling my reactions, I still blushed at the drop of a fashionable but clumsy hydra’s hat.

“I thought you said we never really know other people,” I said, even though a big part of why I was blushing was that she was right… I wasn’t sure that there wasn’t room in my heart for a nice, safe Steff, but I did like her to be wicked. Steff took my breath away, and it just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have the lurking worry that she might not give it back.

“Well, if you’re an illusion, then I must be better at doing color changes than Celia,” she said, reaching up to touch the rosy part of my cheek with the back of her fingers.

“You’re still needling her even when she’s not here to hear it,” I said, ducking my head slightly.

“You know what they say… character is what you do when no one’s around,” Steff said.

“Hey, girls,” Marcel said. “Oh, don’t stop on my account,” he added as I jumped away from Steff. He was a human boy, small and wiry and with spiky purple hair. He wore a long-sleeved shirt of loose mail under a black t-shirt with the sleeves torn off, and black studded leather pants. A small mace made of gleaming black metal hung from one of the belt loops. “Sorry I took so long… I swung by my room on my way back and my roommate was just getting in.”

“Hey, Markel… any problems with the roomie?” Steff asked.

“No, he already knew I was queer from our a-mails,” he said. “But I helped him move his stuff in. I hope that’s okay. Professor Thorne said it wouldn’t be busy until three or so, and we should have more help then.”

“I’m probably going to take off before then,” I said. “I’m not really a fan of crowds.”

“Okay. Have you decided to join up?” Marcel asked.

“I’m not much of a joiner,” I said, which was what I’d said the first time he asked. Marcel was a joiner. He’d signed up for the coalition right away and then volunteered to help staff the table. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t interested in the same, as a bisexual girl who was out and clearly had no problem with the organization.

“No, Mack is more of a leader,” Steff said.

“Oh, that’s cool,” Marcel said. “What groups are you involved in?”

“None,” I said. “I’m seriously not a group person.”

“She led the Harlowe Exodus, delivering the oppressed non-humans to the promised dorm,” Steff said.

“The what?” Marcel said.

“Don’t listen to her,” I said. “I just moved dorms from Harlowe this year. A lot of people did. Well, not a lot, but more than me. For some reason, some people think everyone else who had the same idea was inspired by me. It wasn’t even my idea in the first place.”

“You were in Harlowe?” Marcel said. “Oh, that’s cool… I mean, I shouldn’t have assumed… well, you look human.”

“You don’t know who I am?” I asked.

“Should I?”

“Well, there’s no reason you’d need to… but I did get to be kind of semi-infamous last year,” I said.

“This is my first year here.”

“I made the news a little,” I said.

“Really? What for?”

“Well, you know this whole province used to be under the thumb of a powerful necromantic warlock,” Steff said.

“Yeah, but he died thousands of years ago,” Marcel said.

“Hundreds,” I corrected. The Merovian habitation of the plains hadn’t even begun thousands of years ago. “Steff, what are you…?”

“Right,” Steff said. “But… necromancer. No necromancer worth his zombie-killing salt would let a little thing like death stop him for long. He’s never managed to come all the way back, but he’s never gone away, exactly. Even today he’s so feared that locals fear to speak his name.”

“His name is Praxis,” I said. “And seriously, Marcel, she’s…”

“Except for Mack, of course,” Steff added. “She’s the only one brave enough to say it openly.”

Was Praxis, I mean,” I amended, but Marcel was already looking at me. “He’s dead. Dead-dead. And this has nothing to do with…”

“She’s too modest,” Steff said. “The permanent, final death of the Necromancer-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has everything to do with her, the chosen one who saved the school… and the whole world… from his tyranny.”

“And this made the news?” Marcel asked, looking at me with the look of someone who’s pretty sure he’s being bullshitted but doesn’t want to look stupid if he’s wrong.

“No,” I said. “Because it didn’t happen. There was just a series of events… well, I kind of got attached to them, because I’m, well… a half-demon.”

“Heh,” Marcel said. “That’s a good one. You’re almost making Steff’s story believable.”

“It’s true,” I said.

“A demon at university?”

“Half-demon,” I said. “My father was… is… a demon. My mother was human. It happens. Not very often, but it happens.”

“Demons are destroyed on sight.”

“Half-demons aren’t,” I said. “Because we’re half-human. We have souls. We have rights.”

“And they just let you enroll?”

“We have rights,” I said again. My modulation of my voice started to slip, but I pushed it back down to a normal level as best as I could… with sort of mixed results. “Come on, I’d think someone in the Prism Pride Coalition would be a little more open-minded than that.”

“Being queer isn’t the same thing as being a demon,” he said.

“I didn’t say it was!”

“Are you serious?” he said.

“I’m serious that I’m a half-demon and that I have the same rights as anyone else who’s here,” I said.

“Is she serious?” he asked Steff.

“Yes,” Steff said. “Mackenzie Blaise is the half-demon princess who defeated the necromancer underlord of Prax and saved Magisterius University in accordance with the prophecies.”

Marcel snorted and rolled his eyes.

“I knew you were full of shit,” he said. “Half-demon student.”

I shut my notebook.

“Excuse me… I think I’m going to go work on my staff,” I said.

If I needed a concrete reason to not join the PPC, I had it… eventually Marcel would learn the truth, and the sort of person whose reaction to learning that I’m a half-demon is to insist that such a creature couldn’t possibly be admitted to a major university is not the sort of person I wanted to be around.

I’d spent too much of my first year learning and then re-learning the lesson that I didn’t have to give my time or my life over to people who had no use for me… or, for that matter, people who had nothing but uses for me.

Still, Marcel’s reaction was helpful in one regard: it served as a sharp reminder that not everything that was familiar was comforting.


Soon: In Friday’s chapter… hail, hail, the gang’s all here. Then next Monday the academic term properly begins. Watch my Livejournal this week for more details about my plans for book one of this volume!


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151 Responses to “Chapter 1: The More Things Stay The Same”

  1. Null Set says:

    Having watched The Office between reading Tales of MU for the first time and reading this chapter, I now read “PPC” as Party Planning Committee.

    Current score: 0
  2. Minty says:

    Khampus Khrusade for Khersis. *snort*

    Current score: 0
    • Niiiiiice.

      Current score: 0
    • Ryzndmon says:

      But blasphemous. The letter “KH” is only for divine beings. Use of it in Khersis Dei’s name is proper, but to include it in the other two words is to explicitly state that the school and the commitee are divine in nature.

      Current score: 3
  3. zeel says:

    Congratulations on the impressive start to volume two. Speaking of Two, I can’t wait to find out how her summer went.

    Current score: 0
  4. Null Set says:

    Typo – “I’d had what you might call a lonely child, but a side effect of that was that I’d never acquired the habit of other people.”

    Was the lonely child delicious?

    Current score: 1
    • Dante says:

      How does a lonely childhood translate to food?

      Although since “I’d had …” == “I had had …”, it could likely be shortened to “I had …” or replaced with “I’ve had …”.

      Current score: 0
      • Null Set says:

        No see, without the hood, a child is so tasty she never eats anyone else now.

        Current score: 0
        • Riotllama says:

          “I’d had what you might call a lonely childhood, but a side effect of that was that I’d never acquired the habit of other people.”

          I think if you insert the word “missing” in between “of” and “other” you get a sentence that makes sense.

          Current score: 0
  5. Kevin says:

    So can we one day hear about the Half-Demon Princess and her defeat of the Evil Warlock Praxis. And maybe some details on whoever made the prophecy of Praxis’s defeat.

    Current score: 4
    • Ganryu says:

      I would love to see Steff continue to build on that, it’d be a fantastic running gag for the second volume.

      Current score: 1
      • Brenda says:

        It could get downright hilaristurbing!

        Current score: 1
        • zeel says:

          hilaristurbing? EPIC word. . .

          I have added it to my dictionary! no more red underline. . .

          Current score: 0
          • fka_luddite says:

            I believe that it has been used in comments before this,

            Current score: 0
            • In comments? It’s been used in the story. 😛

              Current score: 3
            • jc says:

              And it even has an urban dictionary entry, attributing it to you and this story. And over 1000 google hits.

              Congratulations!

              Current score: 1
            • zeel says:

              now that’s hilaristurbing. . .

              Current score: 2
            • Dave says:

              And I see someone even used it as the title of their web comic in 2009; didn’t keep it up though. http://hilaristurbing.smackjeeves.com/ if you want to see it.

              It doesn’t seem long ago that AE invented the word, but actually it’s 4 years!

              Current score: 1
      • Kalistri says:

        I would also love to see the story of the Half-Demon Princess and her defeat of the Evil Warlock Praxis becoming a running joke, and for it to lead to Steff and/or Mack writing that story and putting it up on the ethernet.

        Current score: 0
  6. carson says:

    “I’d had what you might call a lonely child, but a side effect of that was that I’d never acquired the habit of other people.” She’d had a lonely childhood or been a lonely child. She might have a lonely child down the road, of course.

    “I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right,” I said. I had fond memories of showering with Amaranth, and I knew she enjoyed steamy hot showers, but there would be no reason she’d need to be in line for the tub every morning before class.” extra closing quotes

    And very intriguing!

    Current score: 0
  7. JiBB says:

    In the first paragraph, “…since the first weekend Magisterius University…” might be missing “at” after “weekend”?

    Current score: 0
  8. Jennifer says:

    A couple of nitpicks:

    “and even though Viktor’s half human spending the day out…”
    Missing comma after human, I had to read it a few times to parse that.

    Possibly:
    “I had been a fan of the public aspect of that, but the experience had been a revelation.”
    I hadn’t been a fan…(?)

    “at the drop of a fashionable but clumsy hydra’s hat”
    no typo, just awesome.

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      I noticed a few more small typos:

      “never mind that we weren’t all pink, or that she was, too. if you excused her almost non-existent nose and ears”
      (Sentence needs capitalization)

      “Teddi Lundegard, one of the school’s certified mental healer,”
      (should be healers, not healer)

      “I guess Two and Dee really lucked out there, if they have to share one toilet with two other girls.”
      (This may not be a typo, if you’re using “toilet” to mean “bathroom” – but I don’t recall it having been referred to that way before. Otherwise, Two and Dee are each sharing a toilet with one other girl, even if all four girls are using the bathroom at some point.)

      “It has its own susceptibility to enchantment enhanced, and…”
      (Is the phrase supposed to be “enchantment enhanced”? If so, I don’t get what it’s saying… Oh, wait, I think I get it. It is more susceptible to enchantment because that susceptibility has been enhanced. (Leaving this here so you’re aware it’s still confusing even if it’s correct!))

      “the sort of person who’s reaction”
      (You can probably spot this one.)

      Current score: 0
      • Thanks, I’m on my way to bed so I’ll be inputting these in the morning… but just wanted to say, no, Steff’s talking about the toilet. The burrow gnomes might use that word to mean the whole facility, if you ever caught them talking about such things, but Steff wouldn’t. She’s saying “If you have to share a toilet with someone, you’re in luck if they don’t actually in fact need to use it.” Dee and Two, collectively, are sharing it with Mack and Amaranth (two girls) who will never need to use it.

        Current score: 0
        • Brenda says:

          Oh, that makes more sense!

          Current score: 0
        • JS says:

          Interestingly, the British I’ve been in contact with seem only to refer to the facility if it actually contains a toilet. Otherwise they call it the bath. It has led to some mildly annoying back-and-forths. Also, in my experience, they don’t call it a tub, just the bath. So.

          Current score: 0
          • BMeph says:

            Well, keep in mind that there’s no famous town of Tub in England…

            Current score: 0
      • tigr says:

        Some more typos:

        “noctural” should be “nocturnal”
        “and would be more added in the next two years.” — “and more would be added in the next two years”?
        “I’m getting lots of practice on scales..” missing a third dot at the end. (Or one too many.)
        “reaching up touch the rosy part of my cheek” — insert “to” before “touch”?

        Great introduction, and I’m looking forward to not wonder “what’s that about?…” all that often :p

        Current score: 0
  9. Burnsidhe says:

    Just the right sort of opening scene, I think.

    Current score: 0
  10. Elisa says:

    Haha I love how Mack thinks she wants to keep a low profile but as soon as she meets someone new she’s all “oh wut you’ve never heard of me???”

    Current score: 1
  11. Matt Doyle says:

    I very much like it.

    Current score: 0
  12. Kaila says:

    This is so very made of win, I feel I need to make a ‘which bits of dialogue nearly made me spit my cuppa the most’ list:

    “What’s up, snatch-hatchers?” by Celia

    Actually, make that the entire snarky conversation between Celia and Steff, especially cracks at illusion and necromancy.

    “And I’ve never agitated politically on purpose.” by Mack

    Big Yay! for TFH. *cough* Will she be coming back to school though?

    “Oh, cool!” Steff said. “Also: nerd.” – yeah, pretty much the whole enchantable staff is pretty awesome. She should so get extra credit. Or hell, Nerd Points, redeemable with enchantment professors for free textbooks. XD

    “She led the Harlowe Exodus, delivering the oppressed non-humans to the promised dorm,” Steff said.

    Steff’s entire contribution to that conversation was made of awesome. Especially capped with:
    “Yes,” Steff said. “Mackenzie Blaise is the half-demon princess who defeated the necromancer underlord of Prax and saved Magisterius University in accordance with the prophecies.”

    Thankfully, by that particular part, I had wised up, put the cup down, and finished reading first.

    Current score: 0
    • Will she be coming back to school though?

      Spoiler warning: Yes.

      Current score: 0
    • tigr says:

      “Big Yay! for TFH. *cough* Will she be coming back to school though?”

      Who is TFH ?

      Current score: 0
      • Rin says:

        Two’s Friend Hazel.

        Current score: 0
        • tigr says:

          Ah, *obviously* 😉 Honestly, that’s I’ve been doing too much chemistry; I kept thinking “TFA?” (trifluoroacetic acid), “THF?” (tetrahydrofuran), “argh, no, that’s something else entirely!”…

          Current score: 0
          • fka_luddite says:

            While I got the “Hazel” part, I had trouble figuring out the “TF”.

            Current score: 0
            • Oitur says:

              The whole thing threw me off–how about “2FH”?

              Current score: 0
  13. Fiona says:

    “Coach Callahan has never went easy on anyone…” Erf.

    Current score: 0
  14. DaManRando says:

    So a new year begins, and starts off with a bang of a chapter… a part of me hopes the sophmore year will take another 500 chapters of the many misadventures of Mackenzie and company.

    Current score: 0
  15. Brenda says:

    Very nice! It was a little awkward in the beginning seeing all the extra little qualifiers to identify everyone, but I got into it pretty quickly, and then it was just fun watching Steff go off. Good job setting the scene and giving a glimpse of the kind of issues Mack has to deal with sometimes.

    I’m not clicking on “snatch-hatchers”, but then I didn’t figure out the truth about Steff until Mack did…

    Current score: 0
    • drudge says:

      Snatch being a slang term for vagina, and hatching being how almost everything that isn’t a mammal gets born, combining the two would be an attempt to insult the idea of giving birth to live young.

      Current score: 0
      • Brenda says:

        Okay, I figured it was something like that referencing slang I was unfamiliar with…

        That is a good one!

        Current score: 0
      • Dani says:

        Thanks. I was trying to parse it to mean something like “egg stealers”, and it wasn’t cooperating.

        Current score: 0
      • cnic says:

        See now you had me thinking about slang for vagina and thought of twat. I wonder what a rune that looks like the letter A would do, then there would be a golem out there named TWAT. Double dose of the T and an A instead of an O. Now I have to go back and try to remember what each rune stood for.

        Current score: 0
  16. Jason says:

    I loved this introduction to the series. Perfect for newcomers or those who never caught up with volume one. Everyone’s just as good as I remember. I gladly await the next chapter.

    Current score: 0
  17. arsenic says:

    I really hope we keep seeing Steff! I just realized that having Dee as the fourth suitemate means Steff will be far away 🙁

    This is making for an interesting transition/introduction! Can’t wait for the next updatee!!

    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      As Mack herself said, she is just moving across campus, not the continent.

      Current score: 0
  18. Abeo says:

    That guy was a bit of a douche. I mean, for one thing, there are meaningful comparisons between being a half-demon and being queer. Obviously half-demons are dangerous but besides that they are similar things to be. You never got to choose what you are, society is generally none-too-kind to you.

    Current score: 0
    • Miryei says:

      He doesn’t realize that yet, though. In this world there’s actually a solid concept of evil, and demons are evil.

      I love Mack’s cluelessness in that conversation. And the way that she constantly pushed away Steph’s attempts to derail it.

      Current score: 0
      • Burnsidhe says:

        Personally, I think she’s very much aware that Steff is trying to derail the conversation, but doing it that way is lying, effectively.
        Therefore, Mack is *trying* to present the truth because covering it up has never worked in the past, and has actually brought more trouble than it was worth.

        Current score: 0
        • The Dark Master says:

          “Mack is *trying* to present the truth because covering it up has never worked in the past, and has actually brought more trouble than it was worth.”
          Not quite, Mackenzie doesn’t want people to lie mainly because of how she was raised by her mother. You try going through life always telling the truth and you will notice that people will tend to dislike you, if not outright hate you.

          Current score: 0
          • Burnsidhe says:

            Think about it this way; Mack knows people hate her because she’s a half-demon. She’s if not exactly comfortable with that fact, at least comprehends it and used to it. Mack, however, does not also want to be known as a liar. Because demons lie, right? They’re known for it.
            So when she tells the truth about herself, at least she can take comfort in being clear and upfront, and they won’t hate her for being a liar as well.
            Why give someone more ammunition to use against you?
            Yes, her upbringing is part of it. But it’s all of a piece.

            Current score: 0
            • The Dark Master says:

              That’s true in a sence as well, maybe it would be best to simply say that its complicated.

              Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              Hehe, Mack is nothing if not complicated…

              Current score: 0
          • The Dark Master says:

            “how she was raised by her mother”
            .
            Typo, should be grandmother, grandmother.

            Current score: 0
        • Domino says:

          Yeah and I think after having therapy with Teddi that she has realized she shouldn’t try hiding her demon heritage. I think all of the therapy has really helped and it is interesting to see Mack have a different frame on the world because of it.

          Current score: 0
      • Brenda says:

        Psst… it’s “Steff”, not “Steph.” Steff is short for Steffain.

        Current score: 0
        • Labman says:

          I know of a girl-girl whose name is spelled “Stef” for “Stefanie” (and I might even be spelling the last part wrong, too…).

          Also, while I don’t know anyone that goes by it, there’s also “Steph” for “Stephen”, though the pronunciation doesn’t translate, lol. ^^;

          Current score: 0
          • beappleby says:

            Yes, but when you’ve seen the character’s name this many times there’s really no excuse for misspelling it.

            Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              Also, we KNOW that THIS Steff is short for Steffain.

              Current score: 0
            • People have differing capabilities; they don’t actually need an excuse to misspell things.

              Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              I was replying to the person who was coming up with alternative spellings. Sorry it came out sounding snarky.

              Current score: 0
          • Kevin says:

            I always thought Steffain was an elven variation of Stephen much like you have both Stephen and Steven.

            Current score: 0
        • Miryei says:

          Thanks! That’s what I get for posting before I’ve had coffee.

          Current score: 0
  19. Another Greg says:

    “I couldn’t begin afford the sort of wizard’s staff that would be worth paying for,”?

    I love how much Mack has changed for the better. So many things have changed from that first week’s tornado (whirlwind is too lack-lustre to compare it to).

    Current score: 0
  20. Rin says:

    A great way to kick off the new volume. Nice to hear from at least one of the less often visited characters (Celia) again too. I always loved that snarky little nagakin.

    Also, I hope Ian will embrace his music now that he’s done the other thing and got it out of his system. It always seemed to me like Ian would make for an excellent bard.

    The only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was the name of the warlock, Praxis, since that’s also the name of a major chain of DIY stores here in the Netherlands, an association I can’t help but make. Still, it doesn’t seem like Praxis will actually play a significant role in the story, so it is of little consequence.

    Current score: 0
    • Kevin says:

      I doubt there is any true comparison but considering that Aviva is a real life insurance company as well as being the MUverse anti-life potion it might be that there is.

      Current score: 0
      • There is no connection between the life insurance company and the anti-life potion. I just took a word for “life” and stuck “a-” on the beginning, and the result sounded sufficiently like a trade name for a pharmaceutical product.

        (In fact, originally I had “avia”, but I decided that name was for the birds.)

        There’s more connection between the DIY store and the necromancer, as we both used the same real Latin-derived word for our names.

        Current score: 0
        • Durragh says:

          “(In fact, originally I had “avia”, but I decided that name was for the birds.)”

          ok, i must be in bad pun mode, that one made me snort.

          and having worked for the Home Despot i can assure your there is a justification for the necromancer and the corporate conglomerat comparison.

          Current score: 0
        • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

          Considering that it’s a life insurance company, I can’t help but wonder if its namer(s) didn’t have at least some rudimentary Latin knowledge and a morbid sense of humor…

          Current score: 0
        • fka_luddite says:

          I was assuming you named the necromancer “Praxis” in explanation of the region being called “Prax”.

          Current score: 0
          • Oitur says:

            Since Prax is described as a prairie province (right?), I’ve wondered whether it’s a nod to Dr Seuss (North-going Zax on the prairie of Prax).

            Current score: 2
      • Oitur says:

        “a real life-insurance-company” or ” a real-life insurance-company”?

        Current score: 0
  21. Iason says:

    Really pleasant start on the new volume. Well done on making it informative enough for new people and exciting enough for veterans at the same time.

    Current score: 0
  22. Bov says:

    ahh…got to love the sentiment; everyone’s a bigot about something.

    Current score: 0
  23. colin says:

    Love the opening chapter, keep up the great work on this amazing story!

    Oh, one little catch that amazingly, no one else has mentioned yet:

    “I couldn’t begin (to) afford the sort of wizard’s staff that…”

    Current score: 0
  24. readaholic says:

    Om nom nom nom nom!
    Lol at “snatch-hatchers”.
    Oh, and nice demonstration that being a member of an oppressed minority does not stop you from being bigoted toward others. Still, he’s fresh from the provinces and a raw new student. Give him time.

    Current score: 0
    • BMeph says:

      To be technical, Mack’s whole story is a “demonstration that being a member of an oppressed minority does not stop you from being bigoted toward others.”

      I’m just sayin’….

      Current score: 0
  25. spoonybrad says:

    “I guess I’d missed my friends while they were away for the summer, but I’m not sure that I had missed them in the same way that they’d missed me. There were nights where I woke up horny and there were times when I positively ached for Amaranth, but all in all… well”

    and she isn’t even taking something like this as a sign of demonblood and her inherent evil anymore 😛

    in the first weeks she probably would have twisted that thought into how she doesn’t need people, mostly missed things they could do for her, and could easily do without that thing you foodmortals call friendship, atleast for long periods of time lol

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      It’d be more accurate to say that in the first weeks, she’d have withdrawn into herself, spent more time in the library, and just generally avoided people with the thought that “They don’t like me because…”

      Mack is a good person at heart, and the only time she’s acted sociopathic was during the period when the Pitchfork was breaking down her inhibitions. I don’t think she’s ever thought of other people solely as food.

      Current score: 0
      • The Dark Master says:

        That wasn’t actually Mackenzie, that was a new identity created by a fusion of the energies of the pitchfork and Mackenzie’s memories. The only times that Mackenzie is ‘sociopathic’ is when she is really hungry.

        Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          She only lost it due (completely) to hunger once right? The whole thing with the skirmishers. The other time was while under the influence was it not?

          Current score: 0
          • The Dark Master says:

            Good point, about the influence. I thought there was something else besides the hunger, but I couldn’t remember what. So Mackenzie lost it from hunger alone once on the day of the skirmish match, once from the smell of human flesh in the penthouse, and has been under the influence of alcohol at least twice. When hungry she goes into this predator (both animal and sexual) mindset; and when intoxicated, her thoughts devolve into just “fuck me” or “Munch munch”.

            Current score: 0
          • Ryzndmon says:

            Also about the skirmishers. Mack was still mostly in control until they grabbed her, isolated her, and threatened and attacked her.
            If not for the hunger and the Fork being strong with this one, she would have been beat to Hellburger by Rocky and Hissy.

            Current score: 0
  26. The Dark Master says:

    A good opening, feels very first chapter Harry Potter isc, at least the first one from Harry’s perspective. They always where good because they got the reader up to speed if you hadn’t read the books before, and reminding you what was going on, if you had been wating awhile since the last one.

    Current score: 0
  27. Sarah says:

    Very nice beginning! Add me to the “happy to see Celia again” crowd. And this:

    “I personally thought that it might give the impression that the PPC was accepting of people with any gender identity or expression, but I wasn’t even a member of the group.”

    Ouch. Very well-put.

    Current score: 0
  28. The Dark Master says:

    I always liked Celia because while rough, she really could see what was happening to Mackenzie when Puddy was abusing her and her nature made her a natural ally to Mackenzie; maybe the only one who didn’t eat people. I was disappointed when she didn’t play a bigger role in the story, but still nice to see the snarky snake again.
    .
    Do the naga-kin generally have problems with low energy reserves, or is this specifically a Celia issue?

    Current score: 0
    • No.

      Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      Wait, when/where have we ever been told that Celia has unusually low energy reserves? I can’t remember anything ever indicating that. There was that once that she said she was jealous of Mack having the resources to do two labs, but Mack has unusually high energy reserves, probably because of her heritage. And Celia has personal interest in illusion – she wants to be able to appear fully reptilian under her own power. I see nothing to indicate that she has a magic deficiency of any kind.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        Whenever she tries to show off her illusions tend to fizzle out, as if she has run out of energy to sustain them. However I do not think anything has confirmed this as unusually low, Mackenzie however DOSE have unusually HIGH reserves.

        Current score: 0
        • bramble says:

          Thing is, I can’t think of a time that Celia has tried to show off where she wasn’t either a) trying to show off something she just learned in her illusion lab (and therefore had probably been tapping into whatever energy reserves she has for some time already) or b) high as all fuck, which probably messes with her ability to work magic.

          Current score: 0
          • The Dark Master says:

            I was probably missinterprating the story; Cilia doesn’t have bad energy reserves, and getting lower grades as a result. Its probably because of her bad work ethic.

            Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              Not to mention her substance abuse problem…

              Current score: 0
            • The Dark Master says:

              I was thinking of that too, but if we are listing specifics, she is likely abusive towards her professors as well.

              Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              We’ve specifically seen that she has a drug problem. We haven’t seen anything to indicate she’s abusive toward her professors, unless you include not putting effort into things.

              Current score: 0
        • BMeph says:

          Celia’s illusions fizzle, because illusion-crafting takes high skill, not high reserves.

          Current score: 0
  29. Ariel says:

    Great start! I love the harry potter crack. I cant wait till Friday.

    Out of curiosity, is the pace of volume II going to be the same? Well I thought the last chapter of vol. I was well done, the dramatic pace change did jolt me a bit. Will we have a more even flow of time in the sophomore year?

    Current score: 0
    • That’s the plan.

      It was also the plan for volume I.

      Draw your own conclusions about the future freely.

      Current score: 0
      • The Dark Master says:

        “Will we have a more even flow of time in the sophomore year?”
        .
        “That’s the plan.”
        .
        Thats what I was hoping to hear.

        Current score: 0
        • Rey d`Tutto says:

          Just remember, Plans work perfectly, until the enemy is sighted.

          You keep Pushin’ ’em out, We’ll keep readin’ ’em!

          Current score: 0
  30. Zukira Phaera says:

    AE,you have made my day. This is indeed the first thing I am reading after surgery. Thank you!

    Current score: 0
    • You’re welcome, and thank you for telling me so. Now you’ve made my day, too.

      Current score: 0
      • Zukira Phaera says:

        You’re welcome. I borrowed a laptop for my overnight just so I could check too :)my aid and nurse both noticed I’ve been on the site anytime Im awake, when not having one of them walk me around. You may just have a new reader or two, they both sound quite interested, and one skipped her cigarette break to borrow the laptop to read a chapter and get her feet wet already.

        Current score: 0
        • Oni says:

          Just her feet wet?

          *ducks*

          I KEED! I KEEEEEED! Stop throwing things at me already. It was a required joke.

          Current score: 0
          • Zukira Phaera says:

            i would lol,and i did try to, but it hurts my girly bits downtown. fewer thuogh they may be

            Current score: 0
  31. Meeks says:

    Welcome Back

    Current score: 0
    • Meeks says:

      Also first painting -here- if LJ doesn’t work 😛

      Current score: 0
      • JS says:

        That is cruel and unusual punishment, flaunting that big ol’ bowl of banana pudding when I’m here in boring old England with not a Nilla wafer (nor a box of banana pudding!) in sight!

        Current score: 0
        • Meeks says:

          Oh no! Could you make it yourself, maybe? Surely eggs and milk and bananas can’t be that hard to find…

          Current score: 0
  32. Gray says:

    Morning. Just wanted to shut that I love the concept of a blank “programmable” staff. I guess it’s the magical equivalent of a barebones notebook, skateboard or electric guitar body blank. Pretty badass!

    Current score: 0
    • The Dark Master says:

      The willingness to use and enchant weapons was one of the things I was happiest about Mackenzie’s growth, the blank staff is a great way to demonstrate that.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        I agree, as a nerd myself its one of my favorite things about her. I hot the new staff gets a lot of coverage.

        Current score: 0
  33. Null Set says:

    I like the fact that Mackenzie is now experienced enough to frequently have neat spell ideas and jot them down. I loved that tipping point when I went from trying to complete programming homework to coding up my own ideas.

    Current score: 0
  34. Chris says:

    something tells me Marcel is going to regret that conversation eventually…

    Current score: 0
  35. You know, I was a little dubious about the “gloss over the rest of the year and start with second semester” idea, but I must admit this chapter was refreshing.

    Really looking forward to more arcane nerdery and academic wonkery! Those are my favorite parts (even more than the sexy bits).

    Current score: 0
  36. Zathras IX says:

    The river’s always
    Changing but still you can’t step
    In the same place twice

    Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Or, for those who favor Heisenberg (and Lettvin) “… once.”

      Current score: 0
  37. TearsTheWingsOffAngels says:

    Fan-freaking-tastic start of the new volume!

    Current score: 0
  38. arsenic says:

    Just out of curiosity, how much time actually went by in Volume I before that last chapter? My guess: Two months? It takes about two months to get from the beginning of the year to Halloween in most school systems, but I really have no idea how much time passed.

    Current score: 0
  39. Null Set says:

    When I can, I’m going to go through and remove the content of spam pages and mark them with Category:Spam. Hopefully someone with admin privileges can come through later and remove the pages entirely.

    Current score: 0
    • Null Set says:

      If you want to help clean up the Tales of MU Wiki, most of the spam pages should be listed here. http://talesofmu.nfshost.com/wiki/index.php/Special:Deadendpages
      I’ve been replacing the content of spam pages with this:
      #REDIRECT [[Category:Spam]]

      Pages this has already been added to will not show up in the dead end pages list, so it should be easy to find spam pages that haven’t been marked yet.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        Well I have plenty of extra time, sign me up for cleanup duty. . .

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        • zeel says:

          So. . . would it not be better to back up the REAL pages, whip it ALL clean and restore them? there are thousands of spam pages. I can’t imagine it being worth it to go through them all.

          Current score: 0
          • Null Set says:

            It might be worth doing it that way. Lock down changes of any sort in the current wiki and move it, then install a new wiki with the latest version of mediawiki, and some of the spam combatting measures listed here. http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Spam
            Then just add the clean versions of the real pages from the old wiki by hand.

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            • zeel says:

              “Cleanup scripts or bulk deletion (Nuke) of existing posts from recently-banned spambots”

              well dose the current version have that? you could kill most of the crap pretty fast that way.

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    • Null Set says:

      Holy shit, as things stand the battle against spam will be unwinnable. There have been 50 spam edits in the last 30 minutes. It looks to mostly be coming from non logged in users.

      AE, if you could just change the settings so a login was required to edit anything on the site, then it would stem the flow immensely.

      Current score: 0
  40. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    These first three are just comma quibbles, commas I don’t think need to be there. They’re not anything major. The story won’t be hurt too badly if they’re not changes. This is just my personal opinion.

    The first year, she’d been dressed androgynously for the task,

    The comma after “year” really doesn’t feel like it belongs.

    It was possible I might get used to it, though, as other things in my life changed.

    Comma after “it” seems unnecessary.

    It would have looked cool, but for what struck me as a rather ghoulish touch:

    Really don’t like the comma after “cool”.

    Again, these are just my personal preference. I go with a “less is more” philosophy regarding commas. I feel like these and several other commas in the story should have been left out, but there’s probably no real harm in leaving them in.

    Next is another minor quibble before getting into the real typos.

    having been inextricably associated with the violent death of a MU student

    The “a” in front of “MU” seems wrong. I read this as “with the death of a Em You student”. To my ear it wounds better to say “death of an MU student”. Still, I suppose this way is technically correct, so whatever.

    Now on to the more serious typos.

    Apparently she’d spent her months off learning new and more accurate ways to insult us… it took me a few seconds to parse what she’d said,

    I really think the sentence should have officially ended after “us” and a new sentence started with “It”.

    It had taken me a bit of explanation for me to grasp how that worked…

    Seems to be one too many “me”s in that sentence. I really think it would read smoother if the first “me” was taken out.

    I couldn’t begin afford the sort of wizard’s staff that would be worth paying for,

    There’s a “to” missing between “begin” and “afford”. This is the typo that still needs fixed the most out of the ones someone else hasn’t already reported before me.

    Current score: 0
  41. HiEv says:

    In the line, “There were more concessions available for retail and fast food businesses and would be more added in the next two years.” I think you meant “and more would be added” instead (I might also change “in” to “over”, but that’s just me being nitpicky).

    And I really liked this expression, “I still blushed at the drop of a fashionable but clumsy hydra’s hat.” Amusing mental picture there.

    And finally, I can’t believe that Steff let this line go without comment, “Excuse me… I think I’m going to go work on my staff”. So… many… jokes… possible!!!!

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Hah! I didn’t notice that, it would have been a great setup.

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  42. rumrunner says:

    … if there isn’t imminent coverage of Two and Two’s time at her friend Hazel’s I just might end up dieinating.

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  43. anna says:

    possible correction:

    “A small gleaming mace made of gleaming black metal”

    (did you mean for it to gleam twice?)

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      Probably. It seems like a very gleamy mace.

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  44. Speight says:

    Looks like a typo: “the fountain with the three dragon fountains”. dragon statues? dragon heads?

    I was one of the few people who knew that the “monster” had been another student. I was also one of only two people who knew exactly what had happened to her murderer.

    The second sentence here confused me at first. The word “her” looks like it would refer to Iona, as she is the most recently mentioned person. Maybe “the murderer” would be clearer?

    Liking the change of pace.

    Current score: 0
  45. Kalistri says:

    Just wanna say, awesome first chapter for Volume 2. I paused reading for a while so that I’d be able to come back and read more at once, and I’d forgotten how good your writing is :).

    Current score: 0
  46. Anonymoose says:

    Why would you wear chainmail UNDER your shirt? That would be uncomfortable and pinchy. Also kind of heavy.

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    • Ryzndmon says:

      I think it was supposed to emulate how many neo-goths and some jockster gays would wear fishnets under their clothes?

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  47. Alina says:

    I actually started reading Tales of MU years ago and got really far in the storyline, and then lost track for some reason…So I’ve been torn whether to try and reread Volume 1 to try and find out where I left off, or feel the pain of not knowing what happened at the end hahaha.
    Would anybody happen to know around what chapter Leda was murdered? 🙂

    Current score: 0