Chapter 13: The Duo Dynamic

on May 10, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which The Reader Participation Gimmick Continues

We voted with raised hands, and Hart and Hall each counted both times. I cast my vote for the sea-faring Thyleans… a conversation about dragons, particularly the ranks of those that could assume human forms, was somewhat fraught with potential trauma for me.

The vice-chancellor of the school, known as Edmund Embries, was a greater silver dragon who wore the form of a silver-haired man. He was generally polite, and erudite. Metallic-scaled dragons get classed by humans as “noble”, supposedly because they have a more trustworthy and civilized temperament, as opposed to the “ignoble” dragons with less shiny hides.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the “noble” distinction is a matter of rank. It isn’t. A silver dragon isn’t inherently more powerful than a blue one, for instance, and a newly hatched least copper dragon is as much a noble dragon as an eons-old greater platinum one. The noble dragons are just seen to embody more traits that humanity values. They’re considered to be more refined.

Having spent more than a lifetime’s allotment of time in close proximity with a silver dragon, I had to say that if I were forced to choose between confronting a hungry blue dragon or a silver one, I’d go with the blue… if only because I could count on the “less refined” dragon to finish its meal more quickly.

That’s the second mistake that people make about noble dragons… assuming that the admiration and kinship humans feel towards them is in any way mutual. Not every dragon had a taste for the flesh of intelligent mortals and surely there were some somewhere that did feel a genuine sense of camaraderie towards the smaller two-legged kinds, but they had to be pretty exceptional exceptions.

I’d spent some time talking to a mental healer about dragons. I’d had to keep my issues general, because I couldn’t talk about what I’d experienced in Embries’s office… the will of a dragon is a formidable thing, and it was his will that I bear the knowledge of what I witnessed in silence. I probably could have told Teddi, my healer, that Embries was a dragon and that I’d had a traumatic experience with him… but common sense and my desire for self-preservation kept me from spreading that around.

I had no idea how many people knew about the vice-chancellor’s true nature, but I had to assume that he hadn’t slithered into his position on a whim or random chance.

I didn’t think that being present for an extended conversation on dragons would necessarily be more than I could handle, after months of healing and the growing distance on the calendar, but it also wasn’t my idea of a good time.

It was a close vote, but unfortunately the lure of dragons proved stronger and Professor Hall got to have his way. He was almost as good at hiding his delight as Professor Hart was at hiding his frustration.

“Well, then,” he said, clasping his hands together, “I hope you won’t mind, dear Hart, if I don’t pretend I’m not pleased. Draconic lore is something of a personal specialty of mine. It isn’t my favorite, exactly… I enjoy the more mysterious sorts of lore, like ancient dwarven secrets and the deeper mysteries of the crawling chaos, but information on those topics is, perforce, quite limited…”

“The topic was dragons,” Hart reminded him. “Specifically, draconic hybrids and how they shaped the modern world.”

“Quite right,” Hall said. “Well… dragon hybrids are in and of themselves a fascinating topic. They have more in common with demigods than they with do with the more common half-elves, half-dwarves, or half-orcs. That’s not to say that they have much in common with demigods. They aren’t, for instance, divine. Although, they are beings of immense potential… a half-dragon is more likely to attain a level of power akin to a demigod than is a full human or a hybrid of two mortal races…”

“Maybe we should appoint a moderator for this debate,” Hart said. “Or you could just agree to disagree with yourself.”

“Well, to bring it back around to the point,” Hall said, “what I meant when I said that half-dragons are more like demigods is that dragons do not mix with mortal races in the way that mortal races mix with each other. And I do not simply refer to the anatomical incompatibilities that some of you no doubt are envisioning. Dragons belong to a wholly separate order of creation! While no historical record can claim to extend back so far, some stories from the dawning age claim that they are immigrants to our sphere while some claim that they are the original inhabitants thereof.”

“Oh, point to you,” Hart said.

“What is not disputed is that there were dragons, and then there were people,” Hall said. “The mortal races created according to a common model can interbreed freely. Dragons breed with mortals by assuming a mortal form. The method, so far as we can tell from interrogating the stories, is not important. Some dragons are able to naturally alter their shapes. Some study magic. But even in a story where a dragon is forcibly trapped in a human guise by outside magic, the dragon’s true nature cannot be fully suppressed… it breeds through.”

“Hold on,” Hart said. “We don’t actually have to rely on old stories for that. Almost three thousand years before the start of the current era, following the so-called Fall of the Dragons, all true dragons were transformed by a divine act into mortals. While many of the transformed dragons were hunted and killed during the seven centuries that followed, more than a few of them married or otherwise mated with mortals. After the Fall was reversed, the descendants of the trapped dragons showed the same traits as other draconic hybrids.”

“As usual, history has the broad strokes right,” Hall said. “Your usual dragon hybrid will be the offspring of a naturally shapeshifting dragon, and will inherit that faculty from its draconic parent. What we saw after the end of the Fall was a little different: people with draconic blood, draconic spirits, but no natural means of expression for that side of their nature. This infusion of draconic essence into mortal bloodlines helped in part to fuel the new Age of Heroes that followed the reversal of the Fall. In cases where the proportion of dragon blood was greater than one-half, it gave rise to the phenomenon of the draconic humanoids who founded the short-lived Pelorian Empire.”

I had to admit there was an interesting tidbit in there… I was somewhat familiar with the so-called Age of Heroes that had happened about two thousand years ago, but I’d never considered that it might have been fueled by an infusion of dragon blood into mortal bloodlines.

If that were true… or even if it were widely believed in some places… it could explain one of Puddy’s more outlandish claims about her heritage, that of dragon blood. Puddy looked human, even more so than Callahan did, but she proudly embraced her status as a mutt, with legally established fractions of dwarven and nymph blood. She also counted giants and sidhe among her ancestors… her family’s history was definitely entwined with the faerie folk, but if she had any giant blood it had to be from a really short donor for her one sixty-fourth dwarf blood to cancel in it so effectively.

“History actually does record all of that,” Hart said. “Although the heroically-statured, human-looking, non-shapeshifting ‘half-dragons’ or ‘dragonbloods’ are found more often in lore than in history. My point was that in all the cases where a greater dragon or other dragon with shapeshifting abilities mated during the Fall, the results that followed shows that dragon nature is inherited even when the transformation was decreed by the gods and intended at the time to be complete and permanent.”

“In any event, here we can see how the strings of fate intertwined in the past to help weave the world we live in today,” Hall said. “Nearly thirty centuries ago, the gods place a divine curse…”

“That’s a contradiction in terms,” Hart pointed out, quite correctly… if a little peevishly. “Technically, it was a blessing. Divine power, not infernal.”

“Yes, well, it was a curse in the purely vernacular sense of a misfortune or negative imposition,” Hall said. “Even the Universal Temple refers to the act of Lord Khersis casting all of demonkind into the fire as a ‘curse’.”

“Well, the dogmatic accounts of things often have more in common with lore than history,” Hart said. “But I take your point.”

“Good,” Hall continued. “Though this divine act was undone several hundred years later, it changed the world forever. Regions that had once been overrun with lesser dragons were now merely home to fierce varieties of mortal beasts. Territories the size of small countries were suddenly vacant and up for grabs. Treasure troves were suddenly unguarded… or at least, less guarded. Merchants who had once had to negotiate for safe passage through mountain passes now traveled freely. Kingdoms that had depended on a lair near their borders to act as a buffer were now unguarded. The map of the world changed almost overnight. ”

“True enough,” the history teacher said. “Though… the Fall spanned centuries. Nothing actually happened overnight. The empire of the Mother Isles was already established… at least within and around the Mother Isles, and it was during this period that they began their first really aggressive expansions to the east of the continental coasts. The sudden disappearance of any threat of dragon attack probably had something to do with the shape or the extent of conquest, but the internal pressures that lead to the expansionist tendencies… overcrowded cities, a shrinking tax base, a top-heavy aristocracy, and a restless army… would have been present anyway.”

“Hmm, yes, well it wasn’t only the Mother City that suddenly marched on its neighbors,” Hall said. “The changes mostly favored the great powers of the world, who were in the best positions to seize on the opportunities that had suddenly appeared. Stronger states swallowed weaker ones all over the world. Enclaves that had existed in complete isolation for centuries or longer suddenly found themselves connected by roads that would have been impossible to maintain a few centuries before. Also consider that a number of petty kingdoms in the world before the Fall were ruled by or existed under the direct protection of a dragon. When the change happened, these holdings were all plunged into chaos. Tyrannical dragons were overthrown, and more benevolent ones suddenly found themselves as shepherds being protected by their flocks.”

“Except for the empire of Yokano and the Sunward Islands,” Hart said. “The emperor of Yokano was able to maintain control through a combination of his traditional status as a god, the Yokanese reverence for tradition, and the support of the feudal lords operating in a rigid caste structure. Though the culture of the Sunward Islands was also changed by the Fall, as the emperor ceded more power and freedom to his vassals in exchange for their continued loyalty.”

“Well, yes, be that as may, Yokano was hardly a petty kingdom,” the loremaster countered. “It’s more in the nature of the greater powers that would have seized on the opportunity, if not for the internal instability. When the gods were finally compelled to rescind their edict, it was too late for things to go back to the way they had been… instead, the world changed further.”

“We have no actual record of how the Fall ended,” Hart said. He sounded like he was beginning to enjoy things… not just contradicting Hall, but the back-and-forth in general. “It’s pure supposition to say the gods were forced to rescind anything. It could have been part of their design from the beginning, or it may have been that the whole thing was conditional and the necessary end condition was fulfilled. Last I checked, there were at least three completely different competing stories making the rounds about how some hero tricked the gods, or how a dragon defeated a god. The Universal Temple holds that Khersis intervened as a mediator, or unilaterally ended the exile, depending on which Pontifex sitting on the Eternal Throne at the moment.”

“Yes, well, you know how unreliable those dogmatic accounts can be,” Hall said, and Hart almost smiled as he winced. “Besides, three stories is three more ideas than history has.”

“Well, history depends on more than the uncritical accumulation of a pile of wrong ideas in the hope that the right idea is somewhere among them,” Hart said. “Historians studying the Fall have examined all those ideas, using the scant evidence available.”

“And what have they concluded?” Professor Hall asked.

“That there’s nothing conclusive, yet,” Hart said.

“Well, there you have it,” Hall said. “Now, as I said, the world changed further when the Fall ended… it did not go back to the way it had been. While accounts of elven/dragon hybrids date back to the earliest days of Athanasia, they had been quite rare, with each half-dragon and quarter-dragon being an anomaly worthy of song and story. Later hybrids were treated as simply another kind of dragon, at least by mortals… dragons had their own less flattering views on the subject. Post-Fall, it was an entirely different story. While the Pelorians and the dragonblooded heroes were an entirely new phenomenon, the greater numbers of classical dragon hybrids that abounded changed the way the world… dragon and mortal alike… thought of and dealt with such beings. With every living dragon having experienced enforced captivity in mortal form, even those who had produced no children during the Fall by and large harbored less prejudice towards the hybrids.”

“To be a bit more specific,” Hart said, “on the human side of things we saw the Mother City… which, again, had expanded its influence quite a bit during the centuries of the Fall… once more moving to take advantage. They conquered and absorbed the nascent Pelorian Empire, adding the Pelorian armies to their own forces, and appointed half-dragons to high offices, some of which were created specifically for them. For a time, the unofficial policy was that any half-dragon who was willing to swear loyalty to the Unnameable Emperor would be given a noble title and rank.”

“Yes, and this trend was inherited and continued by our own more republican empire,” Hall said. “Though new hybrids are rarely born with a full-blooded dragon parent… the prejudice against mortal pairings growing once more in the face of the dwindling population of full true dragons… it is an open secret that hybrids and dragons who have the habit of mortal form are favored within the upper echelons of the civil service and the higher ranks of the military. Even in ages when traces of non-human blood were wholly despised and semi-human hybrids of other origins were blocked from full participation in public life, the mysterious allure of dragons somehow allowed them to…”

“It’s not mysterious at all,” Hart said. “Dragons… even half-dragons… are just too powerful to be ignored. The imperial rulers wanted that power on their side, under their control. An emperor’s command is theoretically absolute, and they found the cover they needed in the Decree of Separate Halves.”

“I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with this decree,” Hall said.

“Well, maybe somebody will write a story about it,” Hart said, grinning. “The decree stated that shapeshifters… specifically referring to those who moved between set forms… were considered to be wholly of the race they appeared as. At that stage in history, the phrase ‘human rights’ didn’t hold much meaning… the original intent of the decree was more about insuring werewolves could be prosecuted or conscripted by human authorities than giving anyone the protection of human laws. But it did set a precedent that was advantageous for half-dragons when compared to other hybrids, like half-elves and half-orcs. Essentially, under old imperial law, a half-dragon was fully human and fully dragon, depending on which form he wore at a given moment.”

“Why, how very fascinating,” Hall said. It was impossible to say if he was being sincere.

“The decree was later cited as a legal precedent when the ‘human blood’ rule was adopted as law in the Imperial Republic,” Hart said. “That rule was based in a centuries-old Khersian doctrine, but it didn’t find a firm legal foothold until the coalition-building days of Magisterion II, during the most fragile period of the Republic. Of course it is from there that we eventually reached the point where actual human blood is not a prerequisite for full citizenship. From the Decree of Separate Halves to the human blood law, and from there to what is informally called the principle of interchangeability, or… less accurately… the declaration of universal rights.”

“Well, there you have it,” Hall said. “From draconic hybrids begat during the Fall of Dragons, we have the birth of universal rights in our own glorious Imperial Republic.”

“That’s… a bit of a simplification,” Hart said, though he sounded less eager to contradict Hall now. “Separate Halves would have existed anyway, and it was the justification… not the impetus… for the reforms of Magisterion II. His predecessor had already informally paved the way, and that may have been precedent enough. But suffice it to say, it would have happened differently.”

Professor Hart had been growing more animated as the discussion wore on. I still regretted that he hadn’t been able to pick the topic for the class period… one of his hallmarks was the sort of interesting anecdotes that didn’t tend to make it into the textbooks, which was sort of ironic given his professional distaste for lore. If he’d wanted to talk about the Tylean explorers, he probably had something more particular in mind than the “broad strokes” he was giving.

“Well,” Hall said, “at the very least I think we have arrived at a basic understanding of how intercourse… in several senses… between dragons and mortals has helped shape the modern world. Perhaps in a bit less organized a fashion than we would otherwise have done so, but this is our first ‘outing’ and a little bumpiness is perhaps to be expected. This would be the point, I think, where we would fully open things up to the circle for further discussion… if not a bit earlier… but, well, we can hardly expect you to be more prepared than we ourselves.”

“How about questions?” Hart suggested. “About our topic du jour… iIf we can develop more of a discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.”

“That’s a fine idea,” Hall said. “Let’s try to stay generally on-topic, but in the interest of facilitating a more organic experience, feel free to ask us to expand on anything we touched on in the discussion. This class is supposed to be an exploration, after all.”


Author’s Note:

I had to cut this chapter off earlier than I’d wanted (due to physical limitations… I have the opposite of Mackenzie’s elemental vulnerability, and we’ve had record high temperatures here in Nebraska. Kind of caught me off-guard with regards to getting my quarters “summerized”.) with some fairly important things unsaid. Rather than delay posting another day, I’m breaking the chapter off what would have been about a thousand words early and extending the class for one chapter more. This gives you a unique opportunity to help shape the chapter to come.

Post questions you’d like to see answered (or topics they touched on you want to hear more about) in the comments. Please show some restraint… pick what you’re most interested in hearing about rather than shotgunning with a dozen. If you see someone has asked something you’re interested in, you can “heart” their comment. I make no guarantees about what questions or how many questions will be woven into the story but I will be looking at the demand.

I’ll be throwing more geographical detail about the Mother Isles, Peloria, etc. into the next chapter, since I already know that sort of thing is in high demand. It would have been in this one, but I’m not at my best and spatial relationships is not my strong suit.

I’m going to be writing the next chapter on Thursday (Wednesday I’m going to be working ahead to the following one), so you’ve got over 24 hour to get your questions in.

Sidenote: Yes, this post is not yet rated tagged. I’ll be getting to it tomorrow.


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132 Responses to “Chapter 13: The Duo Dynamic”

  1. Miz*G says:

    Awesome chapter, as usual. Makes me glad I chose dragon(/human hybrid)s.
    Can’t wait for the next one!

    Current score: 1
  2. Kevin says:

    Wow, only one comment?

    Anyway suggestion on upcoming events: How exactly does half-dragon shape-shifting work?

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    • zeel says:

      This is exactly what I wanted to know.

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      • Zergonapal says:

        Perhaps it is a similar principle to Amaranth’s ability to place things “elsewhere” the extra mass from a dragon is shifted to another place while the dragon or hybrid is in human form.
        Otherwise concentrating all that mass into one point would make getting about in human form inordinately difficult what with falling through wooden floors and sinking into the dirt.

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        • zeel says:

          The Nymph “pocket” needs more explaining too. Actually all the magic stuff dose. I really wish MU was a real place, I would totally go there. . .

          And take EVERY class. . .

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          • sanityoptional says:

            If I had the money, I would be doing the same thing… In our universe

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        • erianaiel says:

          It is not necessary for there to be a ‘law of conservation of mass’ in the Muniverse.

          It could be something different like how a cylinder shaped building block looks like a rectangle when looked at in one way and like a circle when looked at in another. The block does not ‘shapeshift’ between those two states, nor does it realy grow bigger or smaller. We simply see different sides of it (in this case literally, in the case of shapeshifting dragons more or less literally).
          Of course in a magical universe there would be magic involved and not a trick with dimensions, but the whole mass and size question does not necessarily apply.

          That said, it would be interesting to learn how it works in the Muniverse 🙂

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          • Rey d`Tutto says:

            The laws of magi-dynamics:

            Conservation of Mystery : Once you have a firm grasp on the obvious, the rules change to make prior observation meaningless.

            Conservation of Will : Using the primal force of the universe does not diminish the amount of said force, only redistributes it.

            Conservation of Equilibrium : The physical effects of metaphysical activity tend toward equilibrium; in closed systems, equilibrium is the force that produces any unintended consequences

            Conservation of Energy : It is impossible to remove all metaphysical energy from an object, no matter how small, as M=P(T^2), or Metaphysical energy is equivalent to the Portion of matter times the speed of Thought (currently estimated at 3X10^9 +/- 1.612X10^8)

            Corollary Law : TANSTAAFL
            There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

            Current score: 1
  3. angellus00 says:

    You mentioned that dragons and dragon hybrids serve in high offices in the government and I can see how this would benefit the government but what does the Dragon really gain that it couldn’t take anyway? I mean what is to stop the Dragons from just ruling over everyone?

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    • Dashel Illioni says:

      Coach Callahan.

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      • Sylvan says:

        <3'ed the above

        Could either professor name a few notable examples of known greater dragons or hybrids currently in positions of political power within the Empire?

        Could either professor name a few who have been forcibly removed from such an office in the past few centuries?

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        • fka_luddite says:

          I;ve hearted the above, but I’ll suggest expanding to include non-governmental positions of power.

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          • Sylvan says:

            Well, I’d guess that a position of political power could include more than just holding a government office, or having government responsibilities, but that is a sensible thing to clarify.

            There might be fewer of those who are known, however.

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  4. Time Kitten says:

    To get a feel for the participation of dragons in the culture of Yokano: Presumably there would be more dragons than just the emperor in the Sunward Islands, were there any special protections or social accommodations for them as a whole during that time?

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  5. Erratio says:

    More on the Fall, please. Do we know why a god/gods made dragons mortal? And I got the impression that dragons wouldn’t be affected by gods, since they’re ancient and possibly from a different plane altogether.

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  6. Swiftrain says:

    Possible correction:-

    “dragon’s true nature cannot be fully suppressed… it breeds through.”

    Did you mean bleeds?

    I agree with harts point, history, which often looks too much at what an individual did and less at the pressures and reasons for those actions, which is far more use when looking for answers in the hear and now.

    bad news from the authors point of view ofc, much easier to right the history of one 🙂

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    • cnic says:

      They are talking about children, the traits are breeding through to the following generations.

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  7. Shouri says:

    “About our topic du jour… iIf we can develop more of a discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.”

    Notice the ‘iIF’ which needs to be fixed

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  8. cnic says:

    “Professor Hart, would you expand on one of the three stories about the end of the Fall?”

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    • cnic says:

      Woops I meant to say Hall. I think I’m going to keep making that mistake with them both starting with H.

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      • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

        Oh man, and I thought I was the only one who kept doing that. I had so much trouble remembering who was who during their discussion…

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      • erianaiel says:

        Professors Ha and Ha …

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        • Bannef says:

          Me too, but at least when I stop and think I can remember who is who (I’m TERRIBLE at names) because of the crack Hall made about his name.

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  9. TJ says:

    Another great lecture chapter 🙂

    As for a question:
    With dragons holding offices of importance and power within the government structure, why does there seem to be a lack of laws protecting dragons in their dragon form, such as from adventurers raiding their homes for treasure or from spells and policies designed to protect human interests/holdings but are indirectly harmful to dragons, such as the invisible air-shield blocking off cattle fields (mentioned way back during the dragon show)?

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    • slaxor says:

      “With dragons holding offices of importance and power within the government structure”

      Not(generally) dragons. Dragonbloods.

      I assume that there’s no love lost between half-breeds and dragons. And probably between individual dragons,too.

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      • erianaiel says:

        It seems that dragons care about themselves first, second and last.

        Remember how Embries reacted when Callahan told him to his face that she had killed a greater dragon he had been on and off with over the millenia? ‘I am going to get her hoard’ not ‘how dare you tiny, if obviously powerful, mongrel slay one of my mates?’

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  10. anne says:

    depending on which Pontifex sitting on the Eternal Throne at the moment.”

    I believe that there should be an ‘is’ between Pontifex and sitting….

    Also Yes please expand on at least one of the three stories about the end of the fall.

    Current score: 0
  11. Glenn says:

    Hall mentions the “dwindling population of full true dragons”. Roughly how many full true dragons are there left in the world? Have any significant number of the people with draconic blood tried systematically to interbreed, in order to have more draconic offspring?

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    • fka_luddite says:

      No evidence of the dwindling population is cited. Hall is probably assuming this from a reduction in tales about full-bloods; thus committing the “Fallacy of Fallacy”.

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      • spoonybrad says:

        Dan’s half dragon acquaintance who’s name escapes me aka adinII’s father mentioned it too. Said his father killed adin’s mother to punish him for mating with a human since dragons were so rare these days.

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  12. Tigger says:

    Possible typo: “depending on which Pontifex sitting on the Eternal Throne at the moment.”” – shouldn’t it be “which Pontifex *is* sitting”?

    Aside from that, great chapter if a little hard for me to follow. Then again, I have a 5-week-old baby, so my brain is a little toasty. 🙂

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    • Zukira Phaera says:

      congratulations Tigger

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      • Tigger says:

        Thank you! It only took us 6 years to get there… and it’s hard to believe he’s already 5 weeks old! 🙂

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  13. Time Kitten says:

    Also, on the lore telling that dragons were immigrates to the sphere, or original inhabitants… would this necessarily need to be mutually exclusive. They can still be the first ones here even if they come from somewhere else, couldn’t they?

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  14. Zathras IX says:

    Dragon discussions
    Drag on and drag on until
    Miasma dragon

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  15. Darbus Dumbledore says:

    First of all, I should probably say- I’ve been reading this for a while, but this is my first time commenting. This world is incredibly detailed, and I love being sucked into it, so thank you very much for writing this.

    These chapters are really interesting. I read ‘The Things They Carried’ (by Tim O’Brien) recently, and it discusses the idea of story truth, and how that may be different from events that actually transpired, a concept which is really interesting to compare to the difference between lore truth and history truth.

    Current score: 0
  16. MaraGratia says:

    What I want cannot be asked, I think, but it can, perhaps, be addressed. Hall and Hart agree that Dragons have a tendency toward power, and Hall called it mysterious allure. Hart just saw it as mutually advantageous.

    Mack has seen the allure and its affect on others, and how they seen to forget it when out of its path. I would love to see if that is addressed. How much of it do Hybrids have? How resistant to it are other races – or is it just Infernals?

    Current score: 0
    • Nilych says:

      I think that can totally be asked, if phrased the right way. I was thinking of this too. Surely there’s some record (or at least lore) of draconic Majesty effects on mortal races. If so, then I would pose to the Professors – is it not possible that dragonbloods were preferentially treated in human empires because if they engaged the majesty-mojo, humans are happy to serve? Including offering noble titles, rank, etc?

      Current score: 0
  17. rylen says:

    Mention is made of the Khersian doctrine “human blood, human soul.” It sounds like this emerged during, or slightly before, the Fall of the Dragons. Is there any connection?

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    • roma says:

      on an interesting side note, if the rule of “human blood, human soul” origionates from a Khersian doctorin, how do the Kersians we have met thus far reconcile this doctorine with prejudice they have demonstraited towards Mack, who has human blood and is therfore, acordiong to their own religion, a human?

      Current score: 0
  18. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    Just what changes did the dragons go through during the Fall? I know they were made mortal, but what abilities did they lose or keep? Were their abilities just less powerful, or did they lose some?

    Current score: 0
  19. Shogia says:

    “Yes, well, it was a curse in the purely vernacular sense of a misfortune or negative imposition,” Hall said. “Even the Universal Temple refers to the act of Lord Khersis casting all of demonkind into the fire as a ‘curse’.”

    Should this be dragonkind here instead of demonkind? It appears to be talking about the Fall of the Dragons like the rest of the section

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    • valentino says:

      i cant remember what chapters it was mentioned in but demons used to live on this plain until khersis banished them. what i found interesting about that was demons appear to have been mortal until they were banished because now their souls just migrate back to the infernal plane until they can rebuild their strength. as for my vote id like to hear more about the age of heroes and how it brought about the end of the Fall

      Current score: 0
    • Rin says:

      It is and it isn’t. The general direction of that bit of story is indeed about dragons, but that particular line is about the vernacular use of the word ‘curse’.

      Hall called the Fall a curse, even though it was of a divine nature and thus technically a blessing, just like the Universal Temple calls the banishment of demonkind a curse, even though that too was of a divine nature.

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    • Erm says:

      The Fall appears to have been a concerted efforts by “the Gods”, but nobody ever credits anyone except Khersis for the demon thing.

      This also suggests that the dragons (particularly the Greater ones) are, in concert, more powerful than demonkind by a fair bit, to require the concerted efforts of all Gods.

      Current score: 0
      • Arakano says:

        Not necessarily, though. I mean, if I was, say, a political leader and wanted to start a war, I would not NEED universal support by all sections of my society, but I would AIM for it, because it’s rather helpful to have. 😉 Similarily, the Gods aiming at getting rid of dragon power may have simply campaigned to get all other Gods aboard, too. ALSO, was it said that all Gods were involved, or just several?

        Current score: 0
  20. uob12347 says:

    Typo I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    ““About our topic du jour… iIf we can develop more of a discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.””

    iIf should be if

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  21. Month says:

    “The presence of dragons, and dragon hybrids, is something undisputed in today society. Their more exalted, or tolerated status, and the favoritism about their appointment in places of power is also something that has been expressed here. Has this slight injustice, as a human might see it, aided or proved detrimental about the racial tolerance that is exhibited today?”

    There. I think I worded it right, don’t you think?

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  22. Greg says:

    The draconic humanoids of the short-lived Pelorian empire: Did they breed ‘true’ as a race amongst themselves? I’m also curious as to how draconic they were, and if the color of the dragon side of the family shone through.

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    • Kiraya says:

      I’d really love to hear more about the Pelorian empire, too, though I have so many ideas for questions I can’t really narrow it down…

      I like this one, though.

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  23. Oitur says:

    “If he’d wanted to talk about the Tylean explorers,…”
    Should be *Thylean*

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  24. Jonathan says:

    Mack should volunteer to ask Amaranth to ask her mother why the transformation of the dragons was imposed and why it ended.

    JN

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    • Ducky says:

      What makes you think Khaele would answer?

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      • Chips says:

        Sometimes, just the silence can also be an answer.

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  25. Person A says:

    Question: When Dragons breed with other shapeshifters, can they shapeshift into all possible forms?

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  26. Shugs says:

    Concerning the Decree of Separate Halves: though it is mentioned as applying to dragonbloods, are there other “halfbreeds” that can shapeshift? Is this a yet unmentioned ability of half demons…

    Oooo, now I wanna see demon form Mack.

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    • bramble says:

      Demons… look like humans. This has been well established. The main differences are in their magical and physical capabilities and their nutritional requirements, and Mack already displays these differences.

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    • fka_luddite says:

      It’s stated that the actual intent was to legalize conscription of weres.

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    • Rethic says:

      Well we know that mermaids can. And I would venture to guess that if dragons can and merfolk can there might be some other races that can too. Which is kind of interesting because while they look like humans they are humans and then if they kill a human while looking human then it’s murder, but if they switch back then it’s dinner? Lol, not 100% clear here.

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      • Null Set says:

        Do mermaids count as moving between “set forms”? It seems they can blend two major forms together in any way they want.

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  27. Alice says:

    Since Demons can appear human, (and I assume they have another form as well?), would the Decree of Separate Halves have applied to them?

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    • roma says:

      actualy i think Mack covered the answer to this one way back towards teh start of book one. As i understand it deamons naturaly apear human and any other form is merely an illusion used to serve whatever pupose they may have; however, it would be interesting to see how Mack responded to a fellow student asking this sort of question.

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  28. Greenwood Goat says:

    I’m wondering if (in future classes, not the current session that’s being voted on now) the subject of demons and half-demons is going to come up. It’s already got an offhand mention, it seems like an ideal topic for exploring the intersection between history and lore, and we could do with some more informed exposition on the subject. Of course, Mack would be sensitive on that subject, and it’s possible that Hart would consider that sensitivity. It’s also possible that Hall might take an opposite view, especially if they were locking horns.

    – “Yes, the origin of demons is one where the bulk of our sources come from lore, so, obviously, lore has the advantage…”

    – “Well then, why don’t we expand the scope to include contemporary events? You have one of your prized primary sources sitting right there!”

    As to the pending discussion, I’m wondering whether either professor knows of their vice chancellor’s true nature. I also wonder about the extent to which this nature is known and the freedom with which it’s talked about. Law know about Embries, but it’s probably their job to. Callahan does, but she’s one of the best hunter/slayers out there. She alluded in semi-public to him being supernaturally strong, but no more. The chancellor and senior officers of the university presumably know, but whether formal knowledge is passed to any of the teaching staff is another matter. However, as an expert on dragon lore, Hall might well have direct knowledge, or just have worked it out. However, based on what we have seen, this particular tale tends to be kept rather than told.

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    • fka_luddite says:

      From what we have seen, Embries nature may be well known among the staff but not acknowledged.

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  29. Bubble says:

    I think demons always appear human and don’t take any other form unless they purposely alter themselves with some sort of magic they have learned. Although we don’t know what form they take in the pit, they could even be bodyless spirits. But if the fall happened a few thousand years ago then demons should still have been mortal, so this shouldn’t effect them.
    A question on how the change in law affected rights of other cross-breeds (such as demons) could be interesting though.

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  30. Dave says:

    A query occurs to me about a particular semantic point:

    Hart says “almost three thousand years before the start of the current era, following the so-called Fall of the Dragons, all true dragons were transformed by a divine act into mortals”, and later Hall states that this was “nearly thirty centuries ago.”

    These both seem to be referring to the same period of time – just under 3000 years – but in different terms: before the start of the current era, and before the present.

    Is this a mistake, is the phrase current era used as a synonym here for “the present”, or is Tales of MU set at the start of a distinct and new era in history, hence the similar dating?

    Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      Depending on if, and how closely Alexandra wants the Muniverse history to mimic ours the start of the current era could be about a century ago (the muniverse equivalent of the industrial revolution), about seven centuries ago (the renaissance), about two millenia ago (the fall of the roman empire, and yes I know it was a little later than the year 1) or about five or six thousand years ago (when humans first started to build cities). When humans first started with agriculture is a bit more difficult to establish, but probably some twelve millenia ago?

      Also, historians often use the 15th century as the turning point as a lot of important changes happened around that time (including the fall of Constantinopel, the discovery of America, significant improvements in farming which led to larger cities and more workers available for war, art and industry).

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    • fka_luddite says:

      chapters were dated during the freshman year; the current (Imperial calendar) era appears to date from the separation from the Mother Isles.

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    • Jennifer says:

      Since Hall is a lore professor and is probably not as picky about dates, I’d be more trusting of Hart’s 3000 years BCE, and guess that Hall just went with Harts number (“3000 years=30 centuries”) without bothering to convert the starting points. It’s “only” 200 years difference.

      Current score: 0
    • Is this a mistake, is the phrase current era used as a synonym here for “the present”, or is Tales of MU set at the start of a distinct and new era in history, hence the similar dating?

      No, no, and no. 🙂

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  31. Readaholic says:

    Thanks for the excellent read. I loved the emerging debate, and how Hart is realizing that he’s enjoying the debate, and Hall had no idea about the Decree of Halves.

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  32. tigr says:

    Typo: “with do with” should just be “do with”…:)

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  33. Lee says:

    After the end of the Fall of Dragons, was there much disruption of the newly established empires as the dragons re-asserted their territories? Did its end have the effect of locking boundaries on the map into its new configuration the way that the fall had the effect of unlocking boundaries?

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  34. Riotllama says:

    I want to know more about this Peloria.

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  35. Jani says:

    well, mainly i want to hear more about how the fall happened, and how it ended.

    but as that’s more about dragons, i can understand if that’s not an option, then i’d like to hear more about the dragon hybrids in high positions in the government.

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  36. Mac says:

    ‘du jour… [i]If we can develop more of a discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.’

    Needs an i removing.

    Also

    ‘depending on which Pontifex sitting on the Eternal Throne at the moment.’

    Should it be ‘is sitting’ or maybe ‘sits’

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  37. Greg says:

    Do we know when political leaders are dragons or is this generally kept secret? Are there generally historical or anecdotal stories and speculation that tell us this?

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    • gripho says:

      I’d extend the question to dragonbloods in general. Are there “transparency” advocates that think it’s important that the general public knows that a person in political power is a dragonblood?

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  38. Tinq says:

    Do dragons relate to magic the same way the mortal races – like humans, elves and dwarves – do, through spells and study, or do they have a different relationship like sidhe and extraplanar entities?

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  39. Amelia says:

    I’d love to see someone call Hall on his “there you have it”.
    There you have what? The fact that historians don’t want to randomly pick an opinion without sufficient information and sources to back it up whereas lore is just lots of possibilities?
    He acts as though he somehow scored a point by having lots of choices while Hart doesn’t have any, I’d love to see someone argue the csase for an open and objective mind over just hoarding possibilities (you can see why he likes dragons).

    Not exactly a question on the subject at hand I know but the whole class is about history and lore and the opinions of the participants certainly seem to matter.

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    • Sylvan says:

      Yeah, but Hall is saying it in response to this bit from Hart –

      “Well, history depends on more than the uncritical accumulation of a pile of wrong ideas in the hope that the right idea is somewhere among them,” Hart said.

      The key point being that the Lore is the pile of ideas that History starts to sort through in order to find the “right one”*.

      *also there is a good chance that many of the ideas in the random pile will be true in their own right, but conditional and complicated. It isn’t like the Lorekeepers just accept *every* idea. Re-read the part in the previous chapter where Mackenzie discusses how they both have ways of distinguishing reliable sources

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      • Amelia says:

        except that isn’t the key point, Hall may read it that way but Hart’s saying “History does more than just pile up ideas” I.E. “History doesn’t just sort through the Lore”

        For example Hall argues that Hart’s undead primary source “confirmed” the knowledge that Lore already made available, but Hart’s stance is that the Lore was just another random story without the primary source to give it credibility.

        The undead source didn’t confirm one of History’s options as the right one, that option wasn’t even considered from an historical point of view until a primary source indicated that it should be.

        I’m not saying this is historically accurate by the way but it does seem to be Hart’s stance.

        ETA the quote marks aren’t meant to indicate quotes from the text btw, I just feel uncomfortable leaving them out in the context of someone saying something.

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        • Sylvan says:

          Allow me to clarify my point. Hall doesn’t care if all the t’s have been crossed and the i’s have been dotted, as long as the information is useful.

          His “There you have it” is not trying to say “And that is the end of the story, period, the TRUTH! of the matter”. (Which is often what HISTORIANS try to do)

          Hall is merely pointing out that the Lore isn’t a pile of wrong ideas to be sifted through and discarded, it is a good source of information all its own, based on usually reliable sources, and if *all* of it doesn’t happen to be 100% true, it is a good starting point for someone who is more inclined to Hart’s standards.

          Hall knows he is simplifying the story to get strong individual details. The purpose of Lore is to be useful and memorable. People are inspired to do “real historical work” by reading legends and half-truths all the time in the real world.

          To reiterate, the “There you have it” isn’t Hall saying he has all of the answers. It is him pointing out the usefulness of Lore.

          I don’t think there is any reason to call him out on it, or any such thing. What he is bringing to the table will still be useful up until someone finds an exact historical account (and they’ll probably use the existing Lore for an idea of where to start), and that is assuming an exact historical account can ever be found. (Which is a pretty big assumption sometimes)

          Current score: 0
          • Amelia says:

            I think History must be different in different places, as far as I am aware from my own studies historians mostly try to find the truth but don’t like to say “and here is the definitive truth”.
            The MUniverse seems to have a more definite fact based idea of History though, possibly because of the existence of Lore as an alternative viewpoint.

            I’m not sure how “And there you have it.” can be construed as “That isn’t what Lore is either” though.
            I’d agree that that isn’t what Lore is, but that doesn’t seem to make sense as a response (I’d have thought something more straightforward like “And nor does Lore” although probably more patronising).
            Neither of us, however, is the esteemed author, and only she can be sure of what was meant, the very fact that we view it differently suggests to me that the proffesors’ students (or some of them) may require clarification.

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  40. Haldane says:

    Way back when you first mentioned Prax I assumed some familiarity with Glorantha, but now, with the inclusion of Peloria and Theyalans it becomes a certainty. How much has that prior work influenced you, I’m fairly certain that your map is far more real world than Gloranthan. I played a Runequest game set in Glorantha for nearly ten years before we finally put it to sleep in favor of Champions.

    Current score: 0
    • Never heard of it. “Prax” is from a Dr. Seuss book. “Thylean” is from an alternate spelling of “Thule”. “Peloria” is from “Pelorus”, one of the five Spartoi, the dragon-born warriors of Cadmus.

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      • Greenwood Goat says:

        Interesting. How about Phalen, a name which looks to correspond to the German region name Westphalen or Westfalia? The region is situated on the western part of what was Old Saxony.

        Now I think of it, Mack’s history classes went into the rebellions in Phalen, led by the former imperial centurion Magisterion. Well, Old Saxony saw a number of quite successful rebellions against the Roman Empire (including the battle of Teutoberg), and the most famous rebel leader was a chap called Hermann who was Roman military trained.

        Current score: 0
      • Jane says:

        Two fantasy universes picking names from the same real-world sources – this sort of coincidence is bound to crop up. The Gloranthan Prax was also from Seuss, I believe.
        (Still playing there, still loving it.)

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  41. Iason says:

    “Does dragonbloods and other similar creatures hold positions within the republic today and is this a result of the events set in motion by The Fall?
    Is the use of unique racial talents in that way an official system or an off the record one?
    And in either case how did this system develop over time and what were the key events that helped shape it into its current form?”

    (it is possible to phrase that as a single question but that makes for an incredibly complicated sentence)

    …and as always a great chapter. Thank you.

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  42. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    but if she had any giant blood it had to be from a really short donor for her one sixty-fourth dwarf blood to cancel in it so effectively.

    I’m thinking “in it” ought to be “it out”.

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  43. Janus says:

    “one sixty-fourth dwarf blood to cancel in it so effectively.” Should that be “cancel it out”?

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  44. Janus says:

    So…wait, there was something about the gods being “forced” to make dragons immortal again? And something about a dragon beating a god?

    Okay, this might sound crazy, but bear with me here: Callahan has been alive for a long, LOOOOONG time, right? And she loves killing dragons, right? And she killed a god once, right? So, my theory (and I realize she almost certainly isn’t old enough for it to be correct, but still) is that Callahan saw dragons as being too easy to kill during the Fall, and decided to complain to the event planners as it were, and when they didn’t take her request to make it interesting again seriously, she killed a god so the rest would take her seriously.

    I know it’s almost certainly wrong, but in the absence of any concrete contradictory evidence, I think this is how I’ll choose to believe it happened.

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    • fka_luddite says:

      The dates really don’t work. Callahan’s “attempted deicide” was charged under Imperial law, so it had to have occurred after the establishment of the Imperial Republic, ie long after the fall.

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      • Jennifer says:

        I believe most of her crimes occurred before the Imperium was “a thing” – not that that would prevent them from charging her anyways.

        From Pardon Me:
        “We don’t have a law that covers successful deicide,” he said. “You’re also charged with two counts of genocide and five counts of high treason against the Imperial Republic. Those last ones actually are enough to merit summary execution.”

        “The Imperium wasn’t actually a thing yet when I committed most of those,” she said.

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    • bramble says:

      I don’t think I have anything to back this up, but I was of the impression that Callahan’s age was better measured in centuries than millenia.

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    • Chips says:

      If someone asks if Callahan’s a God, you RUN FOR THE HILLS!

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    • Kaila says:

      Oh I can so see that. I’m pretty sure the dates don’t match up, but I like the little addition to the ‘Callahan is Awesome’ lore. Lore – not history, but would make an awesome story nonetheless.

      🙂

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  45. Jon says:

    “but if she had any giant blood it had to be from a really short donor for her one sixty-fourth dwarf blood to cancel in it so effectively.”

    Should be “cancel it so…”

    “iIf we can develop more of a discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.”

    should be If

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  46. Bannef says:

    Hall mentioned that dragons had “less flattering” views on part dragons… How did/do humans get the dragons’ perspective? Is there an accepted canon within dragonkind, since they seem pretty independent (i.e. not communicative with each other) creatures? And is the method dragons use to record and distribute their past more like lore or history?

    Current score: 0
    • Bannef says:

      Oh, sorry, you didn’t want shotgunning, maybe the last bit then? “Is the method dragons use to record and distribute information about their past more like lore or history?”

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    • Zukira Phaera says:

      Odds are that full dragons would make a point of hunting and killing dragon hybrids sired by someone other than themselves.

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  47. Dani says:

    > it changed the world forever
    Hall loses Bard points with me for using ‘forever’. “It changed the world” is a powerful statement that doesn’t need a meaningless intensifier. Does he mean ‘forever’ as opposed to “it changed the world for three hours”? Does he mean ‘forever’ as opposed to “a million years from now it’ll all be forgotten”? Comic books are prone to that construction: “Next issue Joe is decapitated and it changes his life forever!”

    Current score: 0
    • Well, to be specific, he means it as opposed to “for the seven hundred years or so that the temporary change that precipitated these other changes lasted”. I can excuse you for not picking that up from the story, as most of the words that Hall uses are also found in comic books from time to time.

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      • Chips says:

        And every single letter!

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      • Dani says:

        There was no ambiguity about what Hall meant. No argument there. But it’s sad that Hall’s use of language is so similar to Hart’s. I would expect a Bard to do better.

        Current score: 0
        • I guess you’ve lost me, then. If the meaning is clearly conveyed, then in what way is it a “meaningless intensifier”?

          Current score: 0
  48. MindWright says:

    Professor Hart, was there a specific person or event that precipitated the Decree of Separate Halves? Why was it made?

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  49. Sapphite says:

    What distinguished the half-dragons begat during the Fall if they did not show draconic appearances?

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  50. Jason says:

    If dragons don’t approve of hybrids, why do some have children with humans/humanoids?

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    • Erianaiel says:

      Because Dragons can be horny (no pun intended) as well as hungry, and humans can be used to satisfy both urges, as long as you remember the proper order in which to do things.

      Only sometimes the woman got away before the dragon can begin with stage two.

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      • The Dark Master says:

        Or its a female dragon.

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    • Arakano says:

      Note that “dragons” probably means “most dragons”. ALSO, note how humans do not approve of teenage pregnancies, mostly, yet… SOMEHOW they keep happening? 😉

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  51. Shaun O'Braun says:

    The Universal Temple holds that Khersis intervened as a mediator, or unilaterally ended the exile, depending on which Pontifex sitting on the Eternal Throne at the moment.

    The word “was” should be there after the word “Pontifex”.

    Anyway, what type of dragon is the emperor of Yokano?

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  52. Rin says:

    This doesn’t really relate to the current chapter and I don’t want to rush you or anything, but I didn’t know where else to put it and I was wondering if you had a general notion of when the first incentive story from the fundraiser might get written and posted?

    I’m not expecting any kind of precise timetable or anything, but I am quite interested in some of the incentive stories, so I just wanted to know if we could expect one or more of them any time soon, or if you’re focused on other things for the moment.

    Current score: 0
    • Insomnia-related fatigue has kind of killed my ability to get more than the bare minimum done the past couple of weeks, but I’m going to start doing OTs on the weekends again next week. Just to be clear, the first several incentives in the last fundraiser weren’t for separate incentive stories (though some of them may end up being standalone stories), they were for answers/resolutions to be worked into the ongoing story. The first one has already started in a small way and will be getting more of a boost in the next chapter.

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  53. Prospero says:

    “How about questions?” Hart suggested. “About our topic du jour… iIf we can develop more of a discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.”

    So in the story, how widely accepted is it that Khersis is a dragon/half dragon? could someone even ask the question in class for fear of blasphemy, or is it generally assumed academically?

    If someone could ask it, it’d be interesting to hear about Khersis’ interaction with the lifting of the curse upon dragonkind and speculation of him being a great (whole/Half?) dragon himself.

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  54. CB says:

    I found a small inconsistency. Earlier in the story, Sooni’s native land was referred to as Yokan and its people were Yokai and he language was Yokano (see http://www.talesofmu.com/story/other/on-the-origin-of-yokai-girls) as opposed to Yokano/Yokanese.

    Current score: 0
    • Whoops! “Yokano” is a mistake here. I’ll correct it when I do the typo corrections, probably tomorrow. “Yokanese”, though, is deliberate.

      Current score: 0
  55. You know, I’d like to hear more about the werewolves that were mentioned… How long have they been around? (Pretty long, it seems, but longer or less so than humans or other earthen-planar species?) I’ve about a thousand other questions about them – and other sorts of ‘weres’, as I’ve heard them termed – but, hey, general info’d be nice, too. :3

    Great chapter, by the way – I like the evolution of the law to ‘what-you-currently-look-like’ to ‘if you’ve got human blood’ to just a generic ‘you live here’ sort of thing.

    Current score: 0
  56. Sphere says:

    They have more in common with demigods than they with do with the more common half-elves.

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  57. Lumiere says:

    “iIf” in the next to last paragraph

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  58. ““About our topic du jour… *iIf* we can develop more of a
    discussion along the way, maybe we can salvage the day.””

    Yay, scholarly discussion ^_^

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  59. Tetrasodium says:

    I lost track of this a while back due to some medical issues and recently got myself caught up. For the last few days since It’s been gnawing at me that Professor hall rubbed Mack the wrong way in ways she could not really seem to describe while also being a bit too interested in the decree of separate halves and seeming to have skill & enjoyment in verbal sparrings shown previously by a character who should have good reason for all three. Now that I’m finding time to read through old comments, I’m disappointed nobody seems to have mentioned it

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  60. Matthew Tereau says:

    I have a question about the “About our topic du jour…” bit. X du jour means whatever you plug in for x of the day in French, right?How is it Hart uses a French phrase in a world where France never existed?

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  61. Khazidhea says:

    “About our topic du jour… iIf we can develop”
    An extra ‘I’ in ‘if’

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