Chapter 15: Religious Fundamentalism

on May 17, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
Timeline: , , ,

In Which Mackenzie Falls For Steff All Over Again

Given how close the initial vote had been… and how eager Hart seemed to be to share on the subject… it was really no surprise that the class voted for Thyleans next time, especially with Fenwick Hall endorsing it in the name of fairness.

I still wasn’t a fan of Fenwick’s… well, I couldn’t really put my finger on what I didn’t like about him, exactly, but I wasn’t a fan of him. Even when he didn’t sound smug and wasn’t saying anything condescending, there was just something about him that rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it was a case of a bad first impression, or maybe we were just the sort of people who would be destined to not get along with each other no matter what.

Still, that didn’t mean that I wouldn’t give him a chance. It wasn’t like I’d never been the victim of a bad first impression myself.

The class had definitely had a rocky beginning, but it had really come together by the end. A lot of students seemed in no hurry to leave at the official end of the period, and neither of the instructors was rushing off, either. I considered staying for a few minutes, but then the lore teacher started sharing a story about attending an Imperial Symposium on dragon conservation. While his story about being invited to dine at the same table as Vera and Magisterion might have been interesting in another context, the juxtaposition of dragons and dinner was… off-putting.

I definitely wouldn’t have picked dragons as a topic for the class but I had to admit that it had given me some other things to think about than their dietary habits.

What struck me in retrospect was that for all that Fenwick seemed utterly in love with dragons as a subject, he seemed to have a somewhat less romanticized view of them than most people. The way he described their world view made them sound petty… petty on a grand and majestic scale, maybe, but petty nonetheless.

At some point while I was lost in thought on my way to lunch, Steff slipped in silently behind me. I don’t know where she joined me, but the first sign I had of her presence was when… just as I was walking past the illusionary swan monument… she said, “Wrong way!” from just behind me, to predictable effect.

In her defense, she helped me back up on my feet… and she’d also taken the time to swipe my magic staff off of the belt loop so I didn’t hurt myself on it.

“Very funny,” I said as I took my weapon back and tied it back into place.

“Well, I was going to just take your pants, but that seemed like overkill,” she said. “So I put them back.”

“I would have noticed if you got my pants off, Steff,” I said.

“Yeah… you probably would, actually,” she said. “Anyway, we said we’re going to the new place for lunch, remember?”

“Oh, right,” I said.

The Arch seemed a little less crowded than it had the evening before, but it also seemed like the crowd was more of a crowd and less a stream of people coming and going. There were fewer sightseers and more people hanging out. Humans might have had a bare plurality, but for once they were outnumbered… there were plenty of elves and dwarves hanging out. The elves were mostly keeping to themselves, though some of them had attracted some human hangers-on. The dwarven groups were a little more mixed, though this mixing didn’t extend so far as including any elves.

We grabbed a slightly curved bench… it was set up like it was part of a circle concentric with the outer wall… to wait for the others.

“I’m surprised we’re the first ones here,” Steff said.

“Well, Two and Hazel have to get all the way from west campus,” I said. “And Hazel’s not a fast mover. Ian said he might dink around with his lute a bit since he’s practically right next door.”

“You want to go find him?” Steff said.

“Not really.”

“It’s not like we’d have to go knocking on every door in the building,” Steff said. “I’m pretty sure I could pick him out by sound.”

“No, if he wants a few minutes to practice by himself I’d rather give him them,” I said. “He’s better when he’s not self-conscious.”

“True that,” Steff said. She looked around the room. “Huh… you notice something?”

“The elves and dwarves are pretty much in groups by themselves,” I said. “Or at least, not in groups with each other.”

“The great melting pot,” Steff said. “It’s less like fondue and more like really lumpy gravy.”

“Well, it’s still kind of a new thing,” I said. “The center’s got elves and dwarves hanging out in campus instead of under or outside it. That’s a start, right? I mean, it’s progress.”

“Progress towards something,” Steff said.

“Maybe some elves will end up joining a game of stone soldiers,” I said.

“Not likely,” Steff said. “Elves prefer physical contests. They’d get competitive about carving figurines before they’d care who can move them around the most cunningly

“No race is a monolith,” I said, recalling the lecture.

“Except gargoyles,” Steff said.

“Okay, except gargoyles.”

“And stone giants,” she said. “And petroans. And some golems.”

“I meant metaphorically, smartass,” I said. “Just because there’s an overall preference in elven culture for physical achievements doesn’t mean there won’t be some elven students who are intrigued by the game enough to pick it up, and that’ll lead to elves and dwarves hanging out…”

“Just like a fellowship in a storybook,” Steff said. “You sound really weirdly invested in this, Mack.”

I came very close to blurting out a denial, but then I stopped and realized that I was. I really did care about whether or not the two supposed “rival” races came together, or at least got along. More than that, I cared about the Arch’s overall mission… whether it was a token gesture from the university or not, I didn’t want to see it fizzle out like a miscast fireball and just become the Other Student Union with the Other Dining Hall and a bunch of exhibits doomed to become increasingly outdated and ignored with each passing year until finally one day they’re removed to make room for something else and nobody says anything because nobody even noticed they were there in the first place.

“I guess maybe I am,” I said. “I might even volunteer here, or get a job, or… however it works.”

“I can tell you’ve given this plan a lot of thought,” Steff said.

“It’s an idea,” I said. “I’ll come up with a plan later.”

“What, do you think that if elves can cuddle up to dwarves then maybe humanity will get all snuggly with you?” Steff said.

“Hey… first of all, at least one human is already pretty darn snuggly with me,” I said. “And second of all it’s not like I magically discovered the idea of racial tolerance the first time my skin caught on fire. If anything, being a half-demon… and the fact that I ended up in my grandmother’s care and teaching for nine years… kind of discouraged my interest in the subject. I spent almost a decade hearing almost nothing good about anyone that wasn’t human, and having my own fundamental wickedness rubbed in my face every day…”

“If I could rub my fundamental wickedness in my face, I’d never leave home,” Steff said. “Just kidding, of course… I totally can, and yet here I am. See, that’s funny because ‘fundament’ also means ‘ass’… the things you learn from screwing around on the ethernet during class. I got that one from Frenzied.”

“Yeah, I actually knew that one already. That was basically my grandmother’s one joke,” I said. “Playing on ‘fundament’… she didn’t have a lot of patience for what gets identified as Khersian fundamentalism. She used to say this thing about not knowing the firmament from their fundament… she never explained it to me, but it made me curious enough to look it up. When I found out, I couldn’t believe she could bring herself to say it.”

“I can’t believe it, either,” Steff said. “Did ‘joke’ mean something different in the mid-hundreds, or whenever she was born? Or was this some special ecclesiastical meaning?”

“I didn’t say I thought it was funny,” I said.

“Oh, don’t be all… I’m just curious, Mack,” Steff said. “Learning about other faiths is one of Arkhanos’s tenets.”

“I’m kind of surprised you’re still into that,” I said.

“What, you thought I would have seen the error of my ways and come to Khersis by now?” Steff said, with a touch of gentle mocking that I probably deserved.

As a child, I’d seen little reason to doubt my grandmother on matters of religion… she spoke authoritatively enough that I had taken her for an authority. Even when I’d disliked what she was saying, I’d seen no grounds for disagreeing… and when she told me that the Arkhanites were a wicked and dangerous cult, I’d seen no reason not to accept that as the truth. Arkhanites were practically invisible in Magisterian society, especially in the conservative small towns of the Middle-Westering lands.

Of course, she hadn’t called them “Arkhanites”. Martha Blaise only grudgingly gave the recognition that came with the divine letter Kh to Khersis and the most active of the other major gods. Any doubt as to the full divinity of a power, any ambiguity as to the nature of a being, was enough for her to withhold even the tacit respect of a sacred name.

As Arkhanos was pretty much the god of ambiguity to begin with, she’d had no hesitation in outright declaring the Veiled One to be a false god.

“That’s not what I meant,” I said. “I just… I wasn’t sure how, you know, into Arkhanos you really were.”

“I had the Veiled Eye tattooed on my tummy,” Steff said. “That’s not usually the signifier of a weekend fling, you know… or maybe you haven’t had enough weekend flings to know that?”

“Well, you’re just… not very obvious about it,” I said. “Most of the stuff that you’re interested in, you’re kind of…”

“In-your-face about it?” Steff said. “Not that I’m not sincerely and passionately serious about each and every little thing that I do, Mack, but you really shouldn’t try to judge the depths of people’s beliefs by their willingness to wave them around in front of other people. Seeking After Truth isn’t really about proclaiming, anyway. It’s about asking questions.”

“Well, I don’t see you doing that in particular very often, either,” I said.

“It isn’t necessarily about asking other people questions,” Steff said.

“Maybe this is an ‘I’m one to talk’ kind of thing, but you seem pretty sure of yourself a lot of the time,” I said.

“In public, maybe, sometimes,” she said. “But anyway, this is just more of your granny talking. She seems like the sort of person who thinks virtue exists for the benefit of the virtuous.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, say your religion stresses honesty,” Steff said. “Who’s that going to appeal to, people who are honest? They’re doing that anyway. It’s people who want to be honest… or want to be thought of as honest… are going to be the main converts.”

“So you’re an Arkhanite because you want to question yourself, not because you necessarily do,” I said.

“I’m an Arkhanite because I want to know myself,” Steff said. “For certain values of ‘question’, I’ve questioned myself my whole life. I just like to keep a flexible outlook, and Arkhanism is just a little note to myself that I don’t know everything. Every time I see that little eye tattoo, I get a reminder.”

“How often do you see a tattoo below your belly button?” I asked.

“Well, like I said… I try to keep a flexible outlook,” she said. “Anyway, that’s what the whole Mechan thing was about, for me. It’s not that I necessarily believed that ‘science’ has all the answers, but those guys aren’t afraid to ask questions.”

While I’d actually heard Steff talk about Mecha more often than Arkhanos, it had been a while since I’d heard anything about either. I’d kind of assumed that she’d lost interest in the latter… and I’d really hoped that she’d dropped the former.

“So… just to be clear… you’re not into that anymore?” I asked.

“That one you got right,” Steff said. “I’m still friends with some of them, ish.”

“What made you stop believing?” I asked.

“I never really believed in the first place,” she said. “But I didn’t disbelieve. Like I said, it was about the questions. The only problem is that Mechans seem to get too attached to their favored answers, and they cling to them even when it becomes pretty obvious that they’re following the wrong track.”

“Yeah, well, you have to be pretty good at ignoring the reality that we live in in order to think reviving scientific principles of inquiry is a good idea,” I said.

“Careful,” Steff said. “Don’t forget that your Little Missus is still a Mechan.”

“Yeah… I actually wasn’t sure about that,” I said. “We kind of fell into the habit of not talking about that quite a while back. When you said that you weren’t one any more, I was actually kind of hoping that meant she wasn’t, either.”

“Sorry,” Steff said. “Though if it makes you feel any better, she’s one of the less woo-woo ones. She doesn’t believe the sun is a big orb that the world floats around, or that the stars are other suns that are just really far away…”

“They really believe that?”

“Some people do,” Steff said. “It comes from the idea that if all the cosmological stuff just sort of happened, then it might have happened more than once. Anyway, Amy doesn’t believe all that. She doesn’t even necessarily believe that our world follows ‘scientific’ laws, necessarily… I think she’s sort of hedging her bets on that, though. I’m not sure she’s ruled it out.”

“How could she be a Mechan if she doesn’t ‘necessarily’ believe in science?” I asked.

“Well, like I said: she doesn’t believe this world necessarily follows scientific laws,” Steff said. “But she’s pretty convinced that other worlds might, and that it’s possible to import science into this one. Like if someone brought a scientific gizmo to our world, it might still work… or even create a sort of pocket around itself where it’s possible to do more science. Some of the otherworlder-type Mechans actually believe that it should be possible to somehow invoke the rules of other worlds in this one.”

“What, like if they believe in science really hard and then our universe will just sort of sit up and beg at their command?” I said. “That’s not how it works. I mean, yeah, I could see where they’d get the idea when there are so many bad pop thaumatology books out there basically telling them that reality is subjective, but they’re misunderstanding some pretty basic notions. The Inconsistency Principle doesn’t actually mean…”

“Simmer down, babe… you don’t have to convince me,” Steff said. “I’m just telling you what Amy believes.”

“I thought you said her beliefs weren’t ‘woo-woo’,” I said.

“I said ‘less woo-woo’,” Steff said. “Compared to people who believe that the stars are distant suns.”

“How would that even work?” I asked. “If they were any farther away than ‘our sun’, they’d be outside the dome of the sky.”

“Yeah, they have a theory for that, but it pretty much defines the phrase ‘out there’,” Steff said. “Who’s that?”

“Who’s who?” I said, and then I spotted who she was talking about.

There was a woman crossing the room towards us. She was looking at us… or maybe me… with a big but slightly uncertain smile beneath horn-rimmed spectacles and cheekbones so high they might have belonged to an elf. Her hair was in a bunch of short, tightly coiled ringlets that bounced when she walked. Well, she bounced when she walked. It wasn’t quite a skip, but it gave the impression of skipping.

And she was not-quite-skipping towards us.

“Hi!” she said, with a tiny hint of an accent that some of the folks in Blackwater had. “Are you Mack?”

“What?” I said. “I mean, yes.”

“Nice specs,” Steff said.

They were interesting, to say the least. Her eye color was hard to tell behind the amber-tinted lenses of her glasses, which had a tortoiseshell pattern and horned rims. The spots on the glasses actually kind of went with the impressive amount of red-brown freckles that showed up on her brown skin now that she was up close.

“Thanks! I was actually just having a conversation about them with your, uh, friend,” she said, to me. “That and other things, anyway. It actually started as a religious discussion.”

“Hey, what a coincidence!” Steff said. “We were talking about butts.”

The girl laughed, but the look on her face said she wasn’t sure why.

“You mean Amaranth?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” she said. “She’s a sweet lady. Got some funny ideas, but sweet.”

“Oh, see, Amy’s actually Mack’s girlfriend,” Steff said. “I’m her uhfriend. But don’t worry, it’s an easy mistake to make.”

“Um, right. She told me you’d be here, probably with friends,” the woman said to me. “She asked me to tell you all that she’s not going to make it to lunch, because she’s… huh. I don’t actually have a way to finish that sentence that doesn’t sound like a euphemism anyway, so I’ll just say that she’s having some sex.”

“Um, okay,” I said.

“Sorry if I’m the bearer of bad news,” she said.

“It’s not bad news, exactly,” I said. “I just… she might have waited until after lunch. We did have plans.”

“Just lunch,” Steff said. “I’m pretty sure at least one more opportunity will come up this year.”

“And doesn’t she kind of have to…?” the woman said.

“Sometimes,” I said. “But it’s not like she’s going to keel over ”

“We have been kind of monopolizing her time since she got here,” Steff said. “Maybe she was feeling a bit… peckerish? Or she saw someone in dire need. You know she feels duty-bound to moisten dry spells. Or maybe an opportunity just came up… and New Girl, you weren’t kidding about how hard it is to not say things that sound like euphemisms.”

“Oh, sorry,” she said. “I’m Eloise. Eloise Desjardins.”

“I’m Steff,” Steff said. “And you already know of Mack and her triumph over the Dark Lord for mastery of the…”

“That’s enough, Steff,” I said.

“Yeah, I don’t think I heard about that but I’m pretty sure she’s in one of my classes,” Eloise said.

“Oh?” I said. I didn’t recognize her at all. It was possible she had been somewhere behind me in my enchantment lab or something, of course. “I’m sorry, I don’t really… notice… people.”

“Not above the neck, anyway,” Steff said.

Eloise laughed.

“I meant a class I’m teaching. I’m the assistant for Professor Swain’s survival class,” she said. I suddenly noticed that her corduroy outfit, though a little more contemporary and casual than Bryony Swain’s, looked pretty hard-wearing and was in forest brown and green. “I’m going to be coordinating a lot of the field stuff with her… you would have met me yesterday, but I got called out for a search and rescue thing on my way in.”

“Oh,” I said, remembering Bryony’s displeasure. “I don’t think the professor knew that.”

“Yeah… I tried to send her a message, but somehow it never reached her,” Eloise said. “It’s okay. I talked to her afterwards. She knows I have responsibilities.”

“So, you a ranger, then?” Steff asked her.

“Nope,” she said. “Good guess, though. Anyway, I’ve got to scoot. See you on Wednesday!”


Friday: Mackenzie’s last (new) class of the semester… and more of Twyla.


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81 Responses to “Chapter 15: Religious Fundamentalism”

  1. Pinkwrites says:

    “Wwhile his story about being invited…”

    Current score: 0
  2. Dave says:

    Woo, new chapter!
    Typo:
    … Imperial Symposium on dragon conservation.Wwhile his story
    Needs a space, and one less ‘w’!

    Current score: 0
  3. Iason says:

    I’m enjoying Steff more and more these days. Wonderfully socially incompetent Mack as usual… and a good cup of tea.
    I really enjoyed Jamie’s trip into the forest and am looking forward to seeing how Mack handles herself.

    Thanks for another good chapter.

    Current score: 0
  4. Dave says:

    “Just like a fellowship in a storybook,”
    So who was the MU equivalent of Tolkien, I wonder, and was it the Fellowship of the Ring, or something else entirely…

    And we get Rangers! Eloise sounds interesting.

    I like the science discussion too. If stars aren’t distant suns, but are just tiny lights in the dome of the sky, what actually are they?

    Type watch (continued):
    … She used to say this thing about not knowing the firmament from their fundament.
    Should the ‘the’ be their’?

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    • Null Set says:

      It’s another way of saying they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

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      • Alderin says:

        Or more like the format: they don’t know THE ground from THEIR ass.

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    • yann says:

      As my little sister told me (when she was about four years old), they are holes. The sun peeks through them on its way back at night.

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    • Dean says:

      Nope, only one firmament, but everyone has a fundament 🙂

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    • Oitur says:

      Yeah, “Just like a fellowship in a storybook”. I knew that had a familiar RING to it.

      Oh and there’s definitely something I like about Eloise, but I’m not sure what…can anyone give me a hint?

      OK, no more lame puns…and I seriously wonder what happens next with Eloise. AE wouldn’t drop her in like this just to forget about her, right?

      Current score: 0
  5. Jennifer says:

    Typo report:
    “I was possible she had been somewhere behind me in my enchantment lab or something, of course.”
    should be “It was possible…”

    “but i’m pretty sure she’s in one of my classes,”
    Capitalize “I’m”

    Story comments:
    I love love LOVE hearing about science… and the “Inconsistency Principle” replacement for Uncertainty makes me smile. (Yes, I am a science person)

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    • Zergonapal says:

      The only thing though is that if the world is really the centre of the universe then the MUniverse is really small or its contained in some weird Dyson Sphere that has walled it from the rest of the universe.
      I like to think though that the world is just saturated in magic and fits in the greater scheme of things even though it might stick out like a turtle swimming through the firmament.

      Current score: 0
      • Iason says:

        The “world” itself may be small (small being what we would think of as a single planet) but the “MUniverse” is still as vast as a “universe” seeing that it connects to other planes.
        You could say it evens out with our science based perception of it all. Just think of different planes as different planets, galaxies and so.

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        • Zergonapal says:

          No that is what you would call the multiverse.

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      • Ferwe says:

        Mathematically speaking, all you need for a small universe is to twist space so that when you travel in a straight line you come back to where you started. (Like traveling on the surface of a sphere, only three-dimensional.) There are non-mathematical solutions as well, but they’re difficult to explain.

        An interesting thing for universes with this design, the “stars” are the same as the sun. Add a little inconsistency and you get irregular constellations.

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      • BMeph says:

        Why would a turtle swim through the firmament?

        They stand on the backs of other turtles.

        GIANT turtles, so that they can see farther. ;þ

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  6. zeel says:

    OMG other worlds with science? importing science into the story world??? My head exploded with that conversation! more. . . please more. . .

    Current score: 0
    • Null Set says:

      Mackenzie mentioned it before, in a Q&A thing.

      http://www.talesofmu.com/story/other/character-questions

      First of all, are we talking about a ‘real’ motorcycle? Because that would have to run on science, but of course that’s impossible… I mean, we’d have to be talking about if I could somehow go to a plane where things functioned scientifically enough for a motorcycle to work because that’s beyond the power of even a wish, in the strict sense of the world.

      Also, Alexandra Erin has crossed Tales of Mu over with Starharbor Nights and Void Dogs and Three Seas ever so slightly, and those are more scientifically based planes of existence.

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      • Jennifer says:

        Could you link this? I’ve read Star Harbor (and have been meaning to read the other two), and apparently missed these references completely.

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        • Null Set says:

          I haven’t read them myself, but I guess various items that were on Mackenzie’s person in the healing center but absent when she arrived in the labyrinth turned up mysteriously in the other stories.

          Current score: 0
          • Lunaroki says:

            In two of the three stories, yes, things around Mackenzie got teleported into them. The bed she was sitting on wound up in Void Dogs while her knife and most of her clothes wound up in Three Seas. Her bra has yet to turn up anywhere. The other cross linkage between MU and other continuities is the Sands of Time Cafe, or whatever it’s called. It mostly shows up in star Harbor Nights, but Pala was once sighted there, still upset about Steff’s flirting after the gladiator match, and there’s a LaBelle who works there, though not I think one that we’ve seen in ToMU.

            Current score: 0
            • Lyssa says:

              Thanks for the info!

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            • Zukira Phaera says:

              wow, now I really need to start reading those

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            • zeel says:

              which chapter of VD did the bed appear in?

              Current score: 0
            • Lunaroki says:

              It was Chapter 35, where the ghouls are coming after Galatea. Handy had been dropping things on the zombies as they come through the door and Galatea just assumes the bed is Handjob’s doing as well.

              http://www.void-dogs.com/book01/35

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    • zeel says:

      That’s weird. I appearently have read this chapter before, but as I read it this time I didn’t recognize any of it. But I must agree with past zeel – this is a super cool chapter.

      Current score: 0
  7. Null Set says:

    Hmm, a missing student Hall knows and was expecting, and a search and rescue mission… I think Iason got Jamie lost in the woods.

    Current score: 0
  8. Alderin says:

    “Well, she she bounced when she walked. It wasn’t quite a skip, but it gave the impression of skipping.” – should be one “she”?

    New Girl sounds like fun.

    Current score: 0
    • BMeph says:

      When is a girl who bounces as she walks ever…oh yeah, Puddy in the gladi-tournament.

      Me and my big stupid memory.

      Current score: 0
  9. carson says:

    “The only problem is that Mechans seem to get too attached to their favored answers, and they cling to them even when it becomes pretty obvious that they’re following the wrong track.”

    Pink puffy hearts for this line. Substitute just about anything for Mechans and it works.

    Current score: 0
    • mafidufa says:

      Just keep in mind that idea can also be a ‘favored answer’.

      Current score: 0
  10. Glenn says:

    This chapter makes me wonder about a couple of wild speculations. Could the “Obvious” thing Mack missed in the last chapter be that Professor Hall is a Dragon-Human hybrid himself? Could it be that Amaranth’s glasses are “science based”? Maybe the reason why Amaranth is interested in Mechan is because the scenario Steff describes (an object from a science based reality getting into Mack’s world) has already happened.

    Current score: 0
    • Abeo says:

      Amaranth did get a hold of some other worldly objects from a friend. Hmmm… interesting theory.

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

      My bet’s on “Twyla’s part dragon.”

      Current score: 0
  11. Jason says:

    “We grabbed a slightly curved bench… it was set up like it was part of a circle concentric with the outer wall… to wait for the others.”

    Maybe you could rephrase that, as it reads a bit awardly. Maybe something like “Waiting for the others, we grabbed a slightly curved bench that was set up like it was a circle concentric with the outer wall.”

    Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Perhaps because I, personally, don’t find the sentence awkward, I am bothered by your rephrasing which causes a subtle change in meaning. You would shift the emphasis from the fact that Mack and Steff will be sitting on a bench for the remainder of the installment to the fact that they are waiting for the others.

      Current score: 0
  12. Gordon says:

    “Middle-Westering”

    I see what you did there.

    Current score: 0
  13. Bannef says:

    Yay, more Mechan stuff! I missed that! And by “missed” I mean forgot about it until just now (hey, I read the early chapters a loooong time ago) but remember that I found it really interesting. 😀

    Current score: 0
  14. vee says:

    Twyla!!!

    Current score: 0
  15. Month says:

    New girl (Eloise, was it?)seems really interesting. The fact that she can talk to the dreaded daemon of the school (even though she is a self professed woos), and doing it both politely and not in and Ianish “she’s gonna eat me alive” way (first meeting people!), makes her a far better people than most… Not that her being older doesn’t help.

    Also she sounds like some sort of hippie. I might be wrong though.

    Current score: 0
    • Durragh says:

      i’m thinking she’s some kind of dryad or something similiar. she said she wasn’t a ranger, and her last name translates to gardens.

      Current score: 0
      • bramble says:

        Ooo, I like that idea – probably either only part dryad or a dryad-turned-mortal, though, if she is. Dryads are a variety of wild nymph, right? So the fact that she’s walking around in clothes would seem to rule out her being a full, active dryad.

        Current score: 0
        • durragh says:

          i thought about that, but Barley is wearing clothes, at least once in a while, and if she has been out and about for longer, she might not be as concerned.

          i like the druid idea too though 🙂

          speaking of Barley, what happened to her? i wouldn’t mind a follow up on her just to see how things turned out.

          Current score: 0
      • Amelia says:

        Like that idea, or perhaps a dryad-descendant.
        I was guessing that if she wasn’t a ranger she might be a druid, maybe DesJardin refers to her place of work (the MU “gardens” i.e. the grounds) rather than being a surname.
        I bet shape-shifting abilities would come in handy for search and rescue.

        Of course if it is a surname it also suggests an ancestry similar (in antiquity or origin) to Puddy’s, shall have to go back to MU1 and see what the French surname corresponded to.

        Current score: 0
    • barnowl says:

      And she put up with Steph, who can’t seem to meet someone without going out of her way to provoke and offend them. Only the most tolerant and easy-going survive.

      Current score: 0
    • NatalieF says:

      woos? Oh, wuss.

      Current score: 0
  16. Darbus Dumbledore says:

    I think there only needs to be one ‘about them’ in the following sentence: “‘I was actually just having a conversation about them with your, uh, friend about them,’ she said, to me.” Also, I’m not sure that there should be a comma between ‘said’ and ‘to.’

    Current score: 0
  17. Erm says:

    I don’t quite get the “Frenzied” reference… some kind of useless funny facts website?

    Current score: 0
    • Silver says:

      Hmm… I’d think it’s a spinoff of Mad Magazine. Possibly Wired or Cracked instead, if it was found while screwing around online in class.

      Current score: 0
      • I actually wrote and then immediately took out (for being a little forced) the following dialogue:

        “Frenzied?” I said. “You mean the cheap knock-off of Berserk Magazine?”

        “Not anymore,” Steff said. “They went ethereal a couple of years back and now they’re one of the top time-wasting weavesites.”

        Current score: 1
  18. Typo, I think, on the word ‘believe’?

    Anyway, Amy doesn’t beileve all that.

    Current score: 0
  19. Erm says:

    > “How often do you see a tattoo below your belly button?” I asked.

    Whenever she’s (*drumroll*) navel-gazing. Sorry.

    > And you already know of Mack and her triumph over the Dark Lord for mastery of the…”

    …the Elder Wand, natch.

    Current score: 0
  20. slaxor says:

    I’d been wondering for a while now what would happen if something scientific got dropped into the MUniverse, but I didn’t want to be asking another of those annoying thaumatology questions. Thanks for coverering that, AE!

    Current score: 0
  21. Jon says:

    “Wwhile his story about being invited to dine at the same table as Vera and Magisterion might have been interesting in another context, the juxtaposition of dragons and dinner was… off-putting.”

    Should be “While his..”

    Current score: 0
  22. Jon says:

    “Yeah, I don’t think I heard about that but i’m pretty sure she’s in one of my classes,” Eloise said

    Should be “but I’m pretty…”

    “I was possible she had been somewhere behind me in my enchantment lab or something, of course.”

    Should be “It was possible…”

    Current score: 0
  23. MistyCat says:

    “How often do you see a tattoo below your belly button?” I asked.

    “Well, like I said… I try to keep a flexible outlook,” she said.

    For certain values of “flexible.”

    Current score: 0
  24. Janus says:

    “It’s people who want to be honest… or want to be thought of as honest… are going to be the main converts.” Needs either a who or a that.

    “Thanks! I was actually just having a conversation about them with your, uh, friend about them,” Once about them is enough, don’t ya think? 😛

    Current score: 0
  25. Lori says:

    Yeah, when they mentioned how dragon ancestry manifests, I immediately thought of Twyla’s horns, but I’d forgotten her name. 🙂

    Current score: 0
  26. Lunaroki says:

    Well, seems most of the typos have already been reported, but I thought I’d toss up this minor little one.

    ” I just… she might have waited until after lunch. We did have plans.”

    Extraneous space between the opening quotes and “I”.

    Current score: 0
  27. Heather says:

    <3 <3 <3 Steff.

    "Hey, what a coincidence! We were talking about butts."

    Current score: 0
  28. Rattletrap says:

    The conversation started to sound a bit like Robert Asprin’s alternate worlds from The Myth series, or moorecock’s multiverse.

    Current score: 0
  29. sladegirl says:

    Please tell me that Eloise Dejardins is a reference to Kay Thompson’s Eloise. It would make me oh so happy.

    Current score: 0
    • ‘fraid not. Just a name I liked.

      Current score: 0
      • Maahes0 says:

        I was kinda hoping that the Desjardins was a reference to the Kane Chronicles that Rick Riordan is doing.

        Current score: 0
        • It actually started as Bellerose, then became Desrosiers, then Desjardins as I moved from kind of overly specific to something more general. It amuses me to imagine that her full name is in fact Eloise Bellerose Desrosiers Desjardins, but it probably isn’t.

          Current score: 0
          • Amelia says:

            Heh.
            Sounds like that dryad theory might be winning out 🙂

            Current score: 0
  30. Yvonne says:

    A religion about honesty would also attract people who want to be around honest people, whether to take advantage of them or because they’ve been taken advantage of.

    Current score: 0
  31. Zathras IX says:

    Not chiseled in stone:
    No race is a monolith
    Except those who are

    Current score: 1
  32. Ruby says:

    Typo report.

    “Not likely,” Steff said. “Elves prefer physical contests. They’d get competitive about carving figurines before they’d care who can move them around the most cunningly

    No period and no ending quotes.

    Current score: 0
  33. Another Greg says:

    Not a Ranger = Druid??

    Current score: 0
  34. Sindyr says:

    Yay! Husband and I have enjoyed the last few chapters. Keep up the great work! 😀

    Current score: 0
  35. David says:

    Two Typos still around on May 19th though reported earlier.
    Wwhile his story
    Amy doesn’t beileve all that.

    Current score: 0
  36. Forum Solipsist says:

    Do Druids specifically worship Mother Khale? (I may have spelt that wrong which I shall blame on dyslexia and not at all on being too lazy to search for the correct spelling)

    Steff, as usual, provides the perfect dose of cynicism.

    The science vs magic idea is brilliant. It makes so many of the nit-picking objections that can come up so delightfully irrelevant. “An evil wizard did it.”

    Current score: 0
  37. Lumiere says:

    Typo: “Wwhile” in paragraph 4.

    Current score: 0
  38. Helen Rees says:

    Well, she she bounced when she walked.

    Not sure if this is typo, or Mack mind-stuttering because of the approach of the bouncing boobies – could go either way…

    Current score: 0
  39. spoonybrad says:

    nks! I was actually just having a conversation about them with your, uh, friend about them,”

    Current score: 0
  40. Eloise, eh? Hmm… color me intrigued. And I hope we hear about her little rescue mission as well…

    Current score: 0
  41. Khazidhea says:

    “They’d get competitive about carving figurines before they’d care who can move them around the most cunningly”
    Missing a fullstop

    Current score: 0
  42. adsipowe says:

    that the paladin didn’t like idiot jackass fundamentalists makes me smile

    Current score: 1