In Which Nae Takes A Seat

It probably said something about the way my luck had been improving that at no point during the nearly twenty-four hours between when I left the Arch and my fight with Nae in Coach Callahan’s class the next day had I said anything about hoping my choices didn’t come around to bite me in the ass, or something like that.

It wasn’t that my luck was improving by leaps and bounds… it was just being less pointedly ironic.

Or maybe instead of chalking it up to a change in fortune, I should have been taking credit for it myself. Maybe I was just getting smarter. After all, I’d managed to not say anything about something biting me in the ass within a day of my fight against a tiny, agile kobold with a mouth full of razor-sharp metal teeth.

Any way you look at it, my final bout of the week against Nae did not get off to a great start. Whether it was due to luck or intelligence, all of the above would fall under the heading labeled “the good news”. You can probably infer the bad news from it, too.

As I’d guessed, Nae did try bring her teeth into play almost right away during our final confrontation. Because I’d expected it, I mounted a tough defense and did what I could to keep her off my legs. I actually managed to be pretty successful at that… so successful that she ended up leaping onto my back, clinging on, and sinking her teeth into the largest target of opportunity available.

It was a clever move, really. It made me wonder if she’d been able to perceive my defensive air shield… the rough cone shape fully encircled my legs, but since it was emanating from my mouth the coverage was a lot spottier up on my back.

I think it’s possible that I’ve overused the word “excruciating” in the past. This was… extracruciating. It flew past the concept of mere earthly pain and discovered a vast elemental plane of true pain that mortals were not meant to suffer. It wasn’t the kind of pain that went on so long it shaded over into pleasure… just more pain.

I could feel the scream tearing out of my throat, but I wasn’t conscious of any sound. My whole body jerked and contracted in on itself. The staff, held in both my hands, snapped like a twig… a twig that had been enchanted into a magic staff and stuffed full of somewhat loosely bound spell charges.

There was a small explosion as the energy imbued within the staff expended itself right in my face. Being blasted with raw arcane energy was a new experience. It lacked the biting edge of divine power, but was otherwise similar… and this was just the illusionary semblance of it.

I lost my grip on whatever remained of my staff and barely heard the sounds the pieces made when they hit the padded floor. My eyes were full of a light that wouldn’t fade, even though they were squeezed shut. Opening them didn’t seem to be an option.

Aside from the part where it was still ongoing, it seemed like the fight was over.

As much they hurt, Nae’s teeth couldn’t harm me, and couldn’t knock me out of our bout… but I was blinded, unarmed, and distracted by my opponent who was still being a terminal pain in the ass.

Well, at least I knew where she was. The first time I fell on her, it wasn’t on purpose… I’d just doubled over, and the weight of all the metal in her bones pulled me backwards. The impact didn’t dislodge her. No surprise there… her girlfriend probably had thirty pounds on me, and was known to ride her like a tiny pony.

She couldn’t match me for strength, though.

It wasn’t the most dignified combat maneuver that’s ever been executed, but I slammed Nae’s head into the floor. Without anything to push against except another part of the floor, the angle stole a lot of the power behind it but I had no doubt it would have smashed a skull made of lesser stuff. I did it again. It wasn’t doing anything for my pain… okay, it was doing great things for my pain but terrible things for me… but I did it one more time, and on the third smash, Nae let go. I heard her nails scrabbling against the mats, and then she was gone.

I got up.

I couldn’t see, but I had other senses. I’d lost hold of my air shell… it took nothing more than background concentration to maintain, but even that had been beyond me. Still was, in fact… there was no way I could work anything resembling a spell anytime in the near future.

Passively connecting to the elements was easy enough to manage. I couldn’t get a sense of where Nae was, though. I hoped that meant she was standing still, not that I was too disoriented and befuddled to pinpoint her.

There was some rough intelligence behind the mock combat set-up… the spells had to be able to tell a person’s actual level of physical capability to know when they were rendered incapable. If I could change Nae’s status so that she was unable to fight due to actual physical damage, would that trigger the end of the bout? Or did it need a phantasmal injury to happen before it checked?

I didn’t know… and it seemed unlikely I’d find out, but it was better than just letting her win. If I tried to avoid Nae’s attacks, I’d only be postponing the inevitable… and thereby signaling that I thought it was inevitable. I’d have to be ready to strike. If I failed… and I probably would… I’d fail big. With Coach Callahan watching, it would still be far better to go down fighting than to just go down.

So I stood, and waited. I turned in place a bit and held out my hands, hoping that I looked like I had no clue what was going on around me. I was helped in this endeavor by the fact that I had no clue what was going on around me. I was hunched low, because straightening up seemed like a terrible idea.

The rest of the room had gone very quiet. On this day, we were fighting our final bouts one at a time, so they were all spectators. I knew their silence came more from anticipating my loss than anything else, but I appreciated it all the same. I perked up my ears… I could just about pin down where everyone else in the room was standing, but not Nae. Goblinoid respiration didn’t involve as much force as mammalian… it was more a gentle circulation of air than sucking in and pushing out.

I did smell something strange, though… something rich and metallic. It didn’t smell like blood, or at least, it didn’t smell like human blood, but there was something like a trail of it leading away from the spot where I’d rather emphatically taken a seat. I thought of the dark, ichorous goo that had resulted when Nae had bit her tongue the other day… maybe she’d done that again, or maybe I’d given her one hell of a split lip.

Or split bit-of-skin-around-the-mouth.

Whatever.

It was a clue, and once I had it, I did pick up a kind of wet, snuffly sound, low to the ground and a good ten or twelve or maybe fifteen feet away. I wasn’t great at distances, still… some distance away, anyway. I didn’t know if that was what Nae’s breathing normally sounded like, but it had to be what it sounded like at the moment.

She was actually behind me and a bit off to the side, which I hoped help to hide the fact that I’d located her. I was trying not to change my posture or give anything away. To help sell the idea that I had no concept of where she was, I tried to put on a blank look and turned in a slow circle, ending up facing more or less in the direction I’d started.

I felt really exposed with my back to her… or more particularly, my backside. Not only did it hurt like hell, but it felt like a considerable amount of the seat of my pants had been ripped away in the process of dislodging her. The pants were phantasmal, and would repair themselves when the rest of the illusionary damage

I tried to call to mind the layout of the room, to get an idea how close she or I was to a wall, and ended up with… nothing. I didn’t have a map of the room in my head and I certainly didn’t have a compass hidden behind my eyelids. I’d barely been paying attention to what direction I’d been facing before she got around behind me and jumped on me… the only direction that had mattered at the time was towards the opponent.

Still, if I kicked her hard enough, she was bound to hit a wall eventually. If another student was in the way, that could be bad news for them… my sensory census of the room was telling me that if I kicked her straight back in the direction she would be coming from, it would be clear sailing… but I’d be lucky to connect at all, much less have any control over where she went.

It was my hope that I could pull this off without hurting anyone but Nae… and she would be hurt, if it worked at all. Possibly quite badly. I felt a little bad about that, but she seemed happy to talk about how hard she was to kill, and she’d already taken advantage of my kind of toughness to bring her built-in weaponry into play in a way she wouldn’t with another opponent. I would just be returning the favor.

Or so I told myself. I also told myself that if she didn’t hate me after this was all over, I should make more of an effort to befriend her. After all, we did live on the same floor, and she was suitemates with one of my friends. It occurred to me that I’d made very little effort to get to know anybody in the dorm that I wasn’t already friends with…

It occurred to me, right as Nae made her move. She came on fast and hard. I tabled my latest resolution for personal growth and spun around in place, lashing out as hard as I could. My solid new footwear collided with her. The air fed me a sensation of a dense projectile volleying away even harder and faster, but the impact jarred me in the worst possible direction for me to fall at the moment: backwards. Landing on my still-searing ass was enough to make me lose my elemental focus.

There was a huge crashing, splintering sound, and the phantasmal injuries caused by the exploding phantasmal staff fizzled away… not in the normal way that signaled the end of a match. It seemed more like they’d just ran out of power. There was a weird tingling sensation, not just where I’d been burned but all over my skin

As my blindness faded, I saw why the enchantments had been canceled.

I’d sent Nae’s body right through the red cabinet. Well, it had been red, but that apparently had been an illusion it projected on itself. Now it was just varnished wood. It lay in shambles, and Nae lay in it, at an odd angle… like she was being propped up from behind by something.

There was a small protrusion in the center of her chest, like something was trapped under the skin… and then she began to slide backwards as the jagged, splintered end of a piece of wood slid out.


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98 Responses to “Chapter 126: Crash Course”

  1. Next chapter will be up Thursday!

    Current score: 0

    • Kagedviper says:

      why are all of my stories ending on cliffhangers today D: !?!?

      Current score: 0

      • Luonas says:

        What other stories do you read? Anything as good as ToM? I’ve been looking around without much result.

        Did read the Parasol Protectorate series though :>

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  2. N. says:

    …here’s hoping my understanding of kobold anatomy is incorrect.

    Current score: 0

    • Erm says:

      She did say that kobold bodies have ridiculous built-in redundancies, and that they can quickly recover from a wide range of wounds that humans would consider fatal, and no obvious weaknesses (short of total destruction of the body, or decapitation).

      If getting stabbed through the chest reliably killed a kobold, there’d be a whole course on Fatal Kobold Stabbing 101 in the Delving curriculum.

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  3. Zathras IX says:

    Nae is a pain in
    The ass to Mack but Mack’s staff
    Breaking is the bomb

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  4. Jennifer says:

    Khersis… I REALLY hope that Kolbolds are as tough as they seem to be. Or that the school offers resurrections for students killed in class…

    But I suppose, knowing Callahan, that if Mackenzie literally kills an opponent she’ll get an A.

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    • Dani says:

      You don’t get an A if you kill your opponent by accident.

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      • Anonymous (no affiliation with 4chan) says:

        In the case of this specific class, I have to disagree.

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      • zlol says:

        Besides, it’s not really an accident…she lulled her opponent into thinking she was clueless, then went for a desperate, no-holds-barred brutal attack in order to win the fight. She meant for Nae to be incapacitated; she was kind of counting on it. The only accident was that it was more effective than predicted.

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      • Endovior says:

        This. I’d expect Callahan to cover for a student who killed another, especially if it was intentional… but not to give special credit for accidents.

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        • pedestrian says:

          From experience, any kill you get and you walk away from, qualifies as a good kill.

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  5. zlol says:

    “that at no point…I hadn’t said something about hoping”

    Sorry to nitpick, it’s just slightly distracting. Just seems like an incomplete revision or something! OK, time to read the rest of the chapter. I’m excited; I love the skirmish scenes!

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  6. zlol says:

    …holy cow.

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  7. Riotllama says:

    oh fuuck.

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    • Prometheansky says:

      That’s exactly what I said after reading the last line. Extra ‘u’ and everything.

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  8. Dashel says:

    I know that sometime doing the Freshman year Mack received a fatal beating from Callahan, so unless Callahan removed the enchantment in the local area, Shae will be alright after a trip to the medcenter. Not to mention, if I remember your version of kobold anatomy and physiology then this was definitely not a fatal wound and I quote (and I hope correctly), “Our organs just take a little while to shift function around.”

    If not, wow, nice chapter, and probably the best one you have written in a long time; Cannot wait to see if Shae’s dead, how Mac will react and the fallout from the people around her.

    Current score: 0

    • Tierhon says:

      It wasn’t a fatal beating, she was choked to consciousness, while the threat of death was real and imminent. The demon in her fled, whether Callahan knew this is unknown.

      Quite the cliffhanger.

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      • clodia says:

        Man, it’s been a while. Nobody has a chapter number for that, do they?

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      • Zukira Phaera says:

        indeed. It was more of an exorcism by the hand of Callahan

        Chapter 255

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      • Cadnawes says:

        Whether Mack actually died in that one is up for debate, but didn’t someone temporarily die the first class Jamie had with Callahan?

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    • Lunaroki says:

      Her name is Nae, not Shae.

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    • Ducky says:

      Shae? I think you’ve been reading too much of Mr. Martin.

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  9. Peter says:

    Strong chapter. Wow.

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  10. Jennifer says:

    It also just occurred to me: If Mackenzie’s clothes are mocked, and she just broke the mockbox… is she naked?

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    • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

      She… probably is, huh?

      Though I guess that’s the least of her problems right now.

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      • Krey says:

        It’s the least of her problems until she realizes it and gets turned on in front of her whole class and then she does something that’ll make Amaranth spank her already injured ass.

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    • Zukira Phaera says:

      even if she isnt fully naked she is still pretty buff after that. *ducks*

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    • Time Kitten says:

      It’s not just Mack, it’s most of the class who had their clothes mocked.

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    • zeel says:

      Oh shit. . .

      Well that will be interesting.

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    • OhPun says:

      If Mackenzie is naked, then so are all the other students who mocked their clothes. I’m guessing at least half the room is naked.

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    • Ducky says:

      Unless the clothes came out of a different mockbox.

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  11. LetsSee says:

    Superb chapter. Gave me a gasp at the end. Excellent question from Jennifer. I hope someone yanks that Nae off that wood quickly, after all she’s not used to getting wood.

    Oh, and that first paragraph/sentence thing is incomprehensible without three or four reads and a ton of head scratching. And even then, I am still not sure if I parsed your commas correctly.

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    • Marian says:

      It was not that bad. It could have been german…
      (the language where you have to dive with the tenacity of a terrier in at one side of a sentance to eventually arrive at the other end with the correct verb in your mouth? A bit like this previous sentence really, only … german)

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    • Oni says:

      Word to the wise: if someone is impaled, leave it in them. It’s generally the only thing holding all that blood inside; kinda like a cork. Immediately putting out piercing objects or bullets is a work of fiction (heck, in real life you might be just as likely to have the bullet left in permanently, and you sure as heck don’t “fix” a bullet wound by reaching in and yanking it out).

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      • JS says:

        But does that apply to Kobolds?

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      • LetsSee says:

        Yank off, not yank out. You don’t want it impaling her more than it already has.

        Also, fantasy world, yank cast heal, yawn.

        But in our reality, yes, removing the piercing object opens you up for more blood flow.

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  12. zeel says:

    Wow, Mackenzie became a badass in like two weeks.

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    • TheTurnipKing says:

      As a general rule of thumb, to be considered badass, truly badass, one shouldn’t lose their trousers.

      Though in a more literal sense, Nae may very well have given Mackenzie a serious case of bad ass.

      Here’s hoping that Mack hasn’t given Nae terminal case of dead ass.

      Current score: 0

  13. Time Kitten says:

    Eh, the red mockbox was under administrative suspicion anyways.

    From which the wild tangent makes me wonder about mocked mockboxes being involved.

    Looks as well maybe the rest of the class might have trouble finishing that day and be able to squeeze in more practice as the test is pushed back.

    Current score: 0

  14. That one guy says:

    Woo! Great update, I was spellbound while reading it and anxiously awaiting Thursday. :)

    In the very first paragraph, “I hadn’t” should be changed to “had I”. Also add a command after “at no point”.

    This would make “during the nearly twenty four hours between when I left the Arch and my fight with Nae in Coach Callahan’s class the next day” a parenthetical note, which would make the first paragraph (without that bit) read, “It probably said something about the way my luck had been improving that at no point… had I said something about hoping my choices didn’t come around to bite me…”

    So the new paragraph would be, “It probably said something about the way my luck had been improving that at no point, during the nearly twenty four hours between when I left the Arch and my fight with Nae in Coach Callahan’s class the next day, had I said something about hoping my choices didn’t come around to bite me in the ass, or anything like that.”

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    • LetsSee says:

      That is a major improvement! I understand that sentence now. Thank you for the clarification.

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  15. Month says:

    Oooook… so she broke an enchanted staff in her hands. She survived the magical blast in her face. She kicked her opponent so hard she broke another enchanted item… And she probably wounded her so bad that she will need quite a time to recover. I really do hope they have a medic ready.

    That is an A, if I ever saw one. Mack applied everything Coach wanted her to learn.

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  16. Oniwasabi says:

    Dammit, we do not need to give Mackenzie excuses to sink back into a bout of being emo and thinking she’s a dangerous evil monster that is right on the edge of slipping and killing people. Nae had better kick her ass (no more biting please, otherwise we’ll be sending mixed messages to Mack) if she gets stuck in that mindset again.

    At least she just broke one of Callahan’s favorite cabinets and most of a kobold and didn’t decapitate one of the onlookers with Nae’s body.

    In related news: Kobolds might not be QUITE durable enough to make a fastball special a viable super team up attack

    Current score: 0

  17. Renshan says:

    The weapons are mocked for safety, unarmed combat should nog be allowed

    Current score: 0

    • Folacin says:

      Yeah, the school would probably agree with you. Callahan, not so much.

      Current score: 0

    • Cadnawes says:

      I’ve been thinking that this whole time. But Callahan’s been around all week and could have put a stop to it before it got to this point if she were going to. Granted no actual contact had been made but the intent should have been obvious, and I suspect she caught it.

      I take the offering of mocked clothing as a sign that she aproved, actually.

      Current score: 0

    • Prometheansky says:

      Maybe unarmed combat wouldn’t be allowed under normal circumstances, but Mack/Nae are not normal fighters. After all, Mack reasoned that the reason they were wearing mocked clothes is that Nae got the go ahead to use her teeth.

      Current score: 0

    • Marian says:

      It was mentioned earlier that the unarmed combat class had the most accidents and the highest mortality rate of all combat classes at the university.

      Current score: 0

  18. dale says:

    Great chapter

    Current score: 0

  19. Sapphite says:

    EEEeeeeeeeeep! Oh $hit!

    Edit: … dang dang dang…

    Current score: 0

  20. P says:

    Oh crap.

    My guess is that if Nae was at all honest about Kobold biology that she will be okay, but will probably need to go to the healing center. I mean even if their organ function can shift around I can’t imagine that it’s actually a good thing for their body. My guess that having an organ punctured would at the very least probably require a lot of rest without medical assistance.

    Mackenzie probably should have done more research into Kobold biology before the fight, though. But Calahan should have called it off after Mackenzie was blinded and Nae injured. Nae shouldn’t have put Mackenzie into that position, either… unarmed combat was basically Mackenzie’s only option at that point.

    Good news is that I remember them signing waivers so even if Nae dies Mackenzie shouldn’t be legally liable. Either way I can see Callahan having a “talk” with Mackenzie where Callahan is relatively sympathetic/comforting… Callahan is probably the only person who could actually say something that makes Mackenzie feel better and I imagine Callahan seeing parallels to a soldier under her command dealing with killing someone for the first time. Callahan is cruel, but she genuinely cares about and understands those kinds of issues. She wouldn’t want Mackenzie to freeze up thinking about Nae when someone is trying to kill HER.

    I think she would definitely defend Mackenzie to the school, too, but since she’s already under a lot of scrutiny it could cost her her job. “Demon student brutally impales kobold student, resulting in her death.” Callahan would probably defend Mackenzie even while knowing that. The fact that she doesn’t necessarily LIKE Mackenzie wouldn’t factor into it. I see this being bad for Mackenzie’s reputation even if Nae is okay, but it’s probably not worse than some of the stuff people already say about her.

    Other good news is that Mackenzie knows about the risks of an exploding enchanted staff. She either needs some kind of safeguard in place or should stop fighting with enchanted weapons, period. She’s lucky that this only happened with a mocked weapon.

    Current score: 0

    • zeel says:

      Well she isn’t the only one vulnerable to such a blast, however she is one of few who could actually break it. She needs to put some kind of strengthening enchantment on it to be sure that it is stronger than she is.

      Current score: 0

      • Oni says:

        I vote she replaces the wooden staff with a metal one. Wouldn’t make a difference for her, what with her strength and all, and would kill several birds (or kobolds) with one stone.

        Current score: 0

        • P says:

          Mackenzie is pretty far from being the only person who could break her staff, plenty of the nonhumans can. But anyway to respond to ohi the problem I see with this is that a metal staff would be harder to grip since a smooth metal surface would be slippery. There could be some kind of material added to make it easier to hold, but having to hold it in a specific place at all times would significantly alter the fighting style. She could also magically enchant it to be easier to hold, but that wouldn’t necessarily be easier than enchanting a wooden staff to be more resilient. It would probably be harder.

          Although if we’re going to go back to having to hold it in a specific place we could always bring back the pitch fork. The mental image of Mackenzie showing up to her fighting class with a pitch fork was always really funny to me and stuck with me. But The Man is apparently involved with it now so probably not very likely in the near future.

          Current score: 0

          • Mad Nige says:

            Knurling (impressed diamond pattern) could be applied to the whole of a metal staff – or Mack could ask Nae to put bitemarks up and down the full length (gives her something to do whilst recuperating)

            Current score: 0

          • zeel says:

            Certainly not the only one, but one of few. It is enchanted, so the ability to break it is certainly well out of human ability. I would guess ogres may be able to break it, and Puddy for sure.

            Anyway, metal can be physically roughed up to be more easily grasped.

            Current score: 0

    • Miz*G says:

      Callahan isn’t necessarily the only person who could say something helpful to Mackenzie at this point. Professor Bohd hasn’t shown up in awhile. She could be somewhat helpful and I kinda miss her…

      Current score: 0

    • Dzen says:

      Callahan is in no danger of losing her job. Remember, she is hundreds of years old and has killed /gods/ before. No school is going to lose that kind of talent over one puny non-human death, when that non-human is worth nothing to her local culture and there’s already multiple deaths on campus per year.

      Current score: 0

      • P says:

        It’s not just the death, it’s the fact that she would be siding with a demon student who killed another student over, say, Nae’s family. Although I guess since Nae isn’t human people might not care as much. Mackenzie has some powerful enemies, though, including one tenured professor who seems to be actively working against her. Defending Mackenzie in that kind of situation might not be politically expedient.

        This isn’t a fighting university, either. It’s a university where Callahan’s classes are considered the practical equivalent of a class that teaches you to carry around, sheath, and unsheathe a knife without hurting yourself. Callahan is valuable, sure, but people aren’t going there to get top notch fighting instruction. I guess people like Embries who are longer lived might consider Callahan a long term asset should push ever come to shove, but I don’t see most humans feeling that way.

        Current score: 0

        • zlol says:

          I think you’re somewhat understating the importance of fighting courses and skirmishing to MU. Skirmish seems to be the equivalent of the major sports team (say, football or basketball at a college), with students getting scholarships for it and being actively recruited. Of course, there doesn’t seem to be any other sport-equivalent, at least in terms of school-wide regard, so in some ways it’s almost ultra-football.

          Fighting courses are required for every single student, as are magical weapons. I would argue that, rather than Callahan’s course being offered as the equivalent of “here’s how to sheathe a knife without cutting yourself”, Intro Knife is actually offered as an alternative to the more typical (and violent) fighting courses, as the last resort for hopelessly incapable students. It’s the remedial math/english of MU, or the water aerobics of a university which actually requires PE credits.

          Firing Callahan over Nae’s (unlikely to occur) death would be similar to firing the head coach of a university’s Division I football team because a kid died in a game or practice…something which does occur (thankfully it’s rare these days). Unless it’s glaringly obvious that the coach is directly to blame, that’s not how it usually falls out. MU is more inured to frequent student deaths AND Nae is considered a second-class citizen at best. I just don’t see it happening.

          Now, it may have consequences for the implementation of this fighting class, but that’s a separate issue (one which might well get Callahan ticked at Mack!)

          Current score: 0

          • tjhairball says:

            There is an actual head coach. Callahan seems to run the arena, which is a second-string [but still major] show.

            Sort of like the basketball coach at a football school, or vice versa.

            Current score: 0

        • Zukira Phaera says:

          yes but Embries ‘respects’ her… because well you cant put the word fear in quotes between embries and her but that might be a more practical to imply in the connotation.

          Current score: 0

        • Anvildude says:

          You’re also probably overestimating how much of a fuss people would put up over Nae’s death. Not that there’s nobody that cares about her, but if her SigOth were to stand up for her, well, Dwarves and Kobolds aren’t supposed to mix. And apparently Kobold mothers are very used to having to fight their way out of a seething mass of “children” trying to eat each other and her during birth, so there’s probably a lot less familial attachment than you’d imagine.

          Current score: 0

  21. zeel says:

    Funny. Mackenzie seemed to like biting. . .
    http://www.talesofmu.com/story/book05/149

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    • Helge says:

      I think in that case the naked nymph biter had something to do with how much she liked it. Maybe if Nae were more endowed….?

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  22. Seth says:

    Best possible scenario: Callahan steps in, yanks Nae off the stake, and tells her to “walk it off”.

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  23. Readaholic says:

    Wow. Nice cliffhanger. I give it a stunned “ook” of approval.

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  24. Sage of Ages says:

    KOBOLD KA-BOB , Anyone ?

    Current score: 0

  25. Alex says:

    “The pants were phantasmal, and would repair themselves when the rest of the illusionary damage ”

    Should be:

    …with the rest of the illusionary damage.
    OR
    …when the rest of the illusionary damage got repaired.

    Current score: 0

    • Lunaroki says:

      Typo Report

      As I’d guessed, Nae did try * bring her teeth into play almost right away

      Missing a “to” between “try” and “bring”.

      which I hoped help to hide the fact that I’d located her.

      Verb tense disagreement. Either needs a “would” in front of “help” or that “help” should be “helped”.

      Current score: 0

  26. rydiamist says:

    Surprised no one mentioned what Nae’s g/f might do to Mack. That is, if she really killed her of course.

    Current score: 0

    • Lunaroki says:

      True. I’d imagine Caron has a strict “You break it, you bought it!” policy.

      Current score: 0

  27. Havartna says:

    Awesome! I only wish the chapter (and fight) had been longer. I have faith that Nae will be OK, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be supportive of Mack’s tactics. There’s no doubt in my mind that Callahan will be.

    And, really… if you can’t punt a kobold, who can you punt? :-)

    Current score: 0

  28. Prometheansky says:

    This is why I’m not worried about Nae dying:
    * Callahan has killed dragons.
    * Dragons stockpile incredible wealth.
    * Thus Callahan is probably richer than God (many of the gods anyway).
    * It’s been previously established that resurrection is possible, just really expensive.
    * Callahan cleans up her own messes.

    Current score: 0

    • Seth says:

      Missed one:

      * It’s unlikely that this is the first time anyone has died in her class for instructional purposes.

      Current score: 0

  29. Yama says:

    Nae broke the “assumed” rule of no hand-to-hand. Callahan would not care. Mack dealt with that, dealt with the staff exploding and dealt with being blind…and won. This is what Callahan has been teaching since the class started. There is no second place in real combat. There are no rules. I am certain Callahan is pleased with both her and Nae. I think Nae will be pleased that Mack was respectful and did not treat her differently because of her size. I see no downside here…assuming Nae survives. Actually, if Nae does not survive there is no downside because we have another intense episode coming on Thursday….yah, I’ll be up at midnight tomorrow. :-)

    Current score: 0

  30. Potatohead says:

    Holy s***t.

    I can’t remember the last time I was so anxious for the next chapter.

    Current score: 0

  31. lizkayl says:

    Eeeeeep!!! NAE!! *mind goes ‘splodey!*

    (first time in 3 years I’ve NEEDED to post on the website.)

    Current score: 0

  32. clodia says:

    NAEEE!!! I’m pretty certain she’ll be fine, and shortly, but NAEEEE!!!

    Oh, Mack, you owe her big time. Also, you might want to run over there and show compassion. Not just to help unscare the kiddies, but to show sincere if you really want to make friends.

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  33. Jackie says:

    I’m sorta worried about the *custom* built top of the line and probably very expensive Mock-box that Mack just broke. If Callahan is pissed at anything it would be delaying the lessons. AN it’s gotta be fairly special since she was so adamant about it not getting hauled away.

    Current score: 0

    • Lunaroki says:

      As far as Callahan goes THIS is what I’m most concerned about. If there’s anything Callahan would hold against Mack as far as this fight goes it’s the destruction of her special mockbox.

      Of course right now I’m MUCH more concerned about Nae. I sure hope kobold resilience is strong enough that she survives this. Any human who went through something like that probably wouldn’t have survived getting their skull pounded into the floor, let alone the piece of wood through the chest. In fact most people couldn’t survive that, human or otherwise. Here’s hoping Nae can.

      Current score: 0

  34. anelfgirl says:

    So if Mack’s clothes were mocked….. were her boots, also? I guess it ultimately doesn’t matter because she hit something when she landed. But if she *hadn’t* destroyed the mockbox, would the damage from the kick/boot be phantasmal?

    Current score: 0

  35. OhPun says:

    So, who wants to fight Mackenzie next? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

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  36. Burnsidhe says:

    The mockbox is just stuff. Callahan might be annoyed by the time it takes to replace it, but she’s not likely to be angry just because some object broke. Objects can be replaced.

    Current score: 0

    • zlol says:

      Yeah, but she’s already getting flack from MU over it…they may try to prevent her from acquiring a new one, or use this near-death incident as an excuse to start regulating the class. If that happens, woe is Mack; Callahan would NOT be pleased!

      Current score: 0

  37. Stonefoot says:

    I can’t believe I’m the only one who found this, but – probable edit error:
    “It seemed more like they’d just ran out of power.” should be either
    “It seemed more like they just ran out of power.” or
    “It seemed more like they’d just run out of power.”

    That’s probably because the story was just so intense by that point.
    I know I didn’t notice this until re-reading the story because, well, I just had to.

    Current score: 0

  38. brandon says:

    Mack would not be naked the mock box for clothes was a completly deferent box it was not the red mock box that Nae was punted through

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  39. anon y mouse says:

    “I think it’s possible that I’ve overused the word “excruciating” in the past. This was… extracruciating.” – was “extracruciating” a clever combo of extra and excruciating?

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  40. That one guy says:

    It’s Thursday… I can’t wait for the next one… :D

    Oh, yeah, I really don’t see Callahan being “relatively sympathetic/comforting” as one commentator put it. I could see Callahan saying something like, “Buck up, it’s war, people die. If you tear up over it, you’re going to lose your effectiveness. Kid, you get an A for this week. Now, if you want to continue earning an A next week, you’re going to have to come up with something new to really impress me.”

    Current score: 0

  41. genericIntent says:

    Excellent chapter. The skirmish chapters are my favorite.

    Current score: 0

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