Chapter 252: Dee’s Doubts

on September 26, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 7: Courtly Manners, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Mackenzie Trusts Her Instincts

While it did take me a while to sell her on the idea of a surprise invitation for Semele, Pala gave her assent once I made it sufficiently clear that Glory was guaranteeing it for the start of the next semester.

“Then I will make certain there is a house to invite her to,” was her exact response.

“Great,” I said. “I’ll be in touch about the exact details after finals.”

I’d picked that as the timing because it would give me a cleaner separation between the final academic demands of the semester and my duties to Glory, and because it would result in the smallest margin of time for word to leak back to Treehome.

I realized as I was leaving the inn of the black door that it had been my third visit without ever having bought anything. I wondered if that was rude. I figured that on the one hand, a coffee shop on a university campus would probably be used to people dropping in and hanging out without buying anything every time… but on the other hand, I had a feeling that they didn’t get a lot of walk-ins from any particular location that the black door might open onto.

Still, while I wasn’t big on coffee per se, I did like sweet, creamy chocolate-y drinks that might have some coffee in them… and if my business kept bringing me back to the inn, it would probably be worth it to cultivate Johnny’s goodwill by actually ordering something.

Actually, given how convenient the outside location of the door was to the towers, I could just pop in from time to time when I needed an energy boost or wanted something sweet. That would be something to keep in mind, especially during the winter… the coldest months would still be coming after break.

The conversation with Pala had gone about how I’d expected it to, and really as well as it possibly could have. The one with Dee, on the other hand… well, while Glory had hoped that her message of endorsement would cement the mutual bonds respect and compel Dee to accept the offer, it didn’t work out quite that way.

“When you speak with Glory, please tell her that her words are appreciated,” Dee said.

“…but you still haven’t made up your mind, have you?” I asked.

“I have not,” she said. “And Glory’s regard for me will not be the deciding factor, in either direction. I knew of her respect for me already. While I appreciate a hand extended in friendship, I mislike it done with a calculating gleam in the eye.”

“I’m sure Glory wouldn’t have said it if she didn’t mean it,” I said, which was true… I didn’t expect Glory would have asked me to repeat a lie to a perceptive telepath who would ever be in the same room with her. By the same token, it would have been useless to deny that she’d been counting on the flattery to sway Dee.

“That may be true, but I am certain she would not have said it if she didn’t believe it would be necessary to secure my services,” Dee said. “But… it will not be the deciding factor in either direction. Such calculations are to be expected as a part of diplomacy and negotiation.”

“Well, I don’t want to rush you,” I said. “But… with you, I kind of have the bare minimum that Glory will deem acceptable. Without you, I’m going to need a lot more help, and I’m not at all sure where to begin looking for it.”

“I understand,” Dee said. “Perhaps you can help me to make up my mind now.”

“How?”

“One question,” she said. “I know what your interest in the success of Oberrad House is. I know why you want me in particular for this duty. But let me ask you: do you believe that this is the right thing to do?”

“Isn’t that what you’ve been praying on?”

“Yes,” Dee said. “Please do not think that I am seeking moral guidance, though I would not inherently despise it from you as a source.”

“Then why are you asking?”

“Because I am interested to hear what you would say.”

“I…”

I stopped. It seemed like what the answer should be was pretty obvious: of course it was right thing to do. I could even spin out some reasons why it would be so: she’d be helping a friend, she’d be standing up for what’s right, she’d be helping to challenge the power structures in Treehome that made it hard for any middling elf who didn’t want to be a manipulative back of dicks to survive.

“I really don’t know,” I said. “The main reason I asked you is what you already know, what I told you before… that you’d be good at it. Probably the best. I didn’t really have much reason to expect you to say yes, or anything to offer you that I thought would be that important to you.”

“And yet, you asked me,” she said.

“Well… I didn’t think you’d mind being asked, even if you said no,” I said. “I couldn’t imagine you laughing in my face, which in retrospect probably had a lot to do with it… I feel a lot more confident these days, though sometimes I think I’m acting more confident than I really feel… but I’m not sure I could just walk up to someone I don’t actually know and ask them out of the blue if they want to do this thing.”

Dee said nothing for a while, sitting very still. Then, slowly, she nodded. It was definitely a positive sign, but somehow I suspected she wasn’t agreeing to throw in with Glory just yet.

“Why did you ask?” I asked her.

“I have had… some concerns… about your behavior lately,” she said. “It did not seem my place to voice them, unless I had reason to be directly concerned about your well-being, and this has been more… disquieting doubt, than outright suspicion.”

“What do you mean?”

“You are, as you said, behaving more confidently than you have before,” she said. “And while it is easy to regard this as an improvement… in fact, I would say that on the balance it is an improvement… the fact that your confidence has grown in correlation with your growing association with people who play manipulative games has worried me.”

“…you wanted to see if I would try to snow you,” I guessed.

“Yes.”

“I might have learned a few things from Acantha, but one of them is that I don’t appreciate being lied to,” I said. “I might try to approach someone from the best angle I can see, but I mean, I think everyone does that. I’ve just got a little bit better at it… maybe from watching others, but probably more just from the fact that I’m talking to people more often these days. I’ve got more practice asking people for things. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is wind up like Acantha.”

“Many people become something as a way to avoid being preyed upon themselves,” Dee said.

“That’s not my style,” I said, and it came out maybe a bit sharper than I’d meant it to.

“Indeed,” she said. She inclined her head slightly. “I apologize for giving you the impression that I believed so poorly of you. I did fear it might be the case, but I preferred to find out rather than continuing to dwell in suspicion.”

“I guess I can appreciate that?” I said. “And… well, I guess I appreciate the concern in general. I mean, I’d like to think that I’m over the part of my life where I spent all my time convinced that everything I did was evil, but I guess I shouldn’t be flipping from that to never worrying about the morality of what I’m doing.”

“I would agree,” Dee said. “But I would also point out that it is only in expanding your worldview beyond the one your grandmother instilled in you that you are truly capable of considering the morality of your actions. As long as you believed yourself to be inherently evil, what point could there have been to such an analysis?”

“…that’s something I hadn’t thought about,” I said. “Actually, I really haven’t thought about this at all… I guess I knew that I’d changed, or have been changing, or maybe am changing… but I can’t really pinpoint what the turning was, even in retrospect.”

“Such is the nature of change,” Dee said. “Such is the nature of life. We change more often by degrees than swift reversals. It is for this reason that we must be careful of what it is that we change into.”

“I guess that’s something for me to think about,” I said. In fact, there was a tiny twinge of suspicion in the back of my head about how close I’d come to doing exactly what Dee had feared I would, and the fact that I’d stopped more because I’d felt it was the tactically wrong move rather than the ethically or morally wrong one. Still, that was a path to go exploring down later, not when I was so close to having this settled. “But… again, not to push you or anything…”

“My final substantial doubt… or at least the one likely to be answerable by any means short of accepting the offer and seeing… has been resolved,” Dee said. “You may consider me a part of your team.”

“Awesome,” I said. “Thank you, Dee, this really helps me out a lot… I literally don’t know what I would have done next if you’d said no.”

The honest truth was that I still wasn’t sure what to do next, but it mattered less, knowing that Dee was on board. While a little pressure could help provide inspiration in a pinch, I thought that the ever-looming deadline was likely to be both enough pressure and enough pinch all on its own.

I did have one small thought, not about a particular person but an approach, and it had been growing from a seed that Glory had planted.when she’d talked about filling out the winter guard in terms of adding people to a party.

This would definitely count as thinking outside the box where I was concerned, but if I wanted to get this wrapped up, maybe it was time for me to start thinking like a delver.


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54 Responses to “Chapter 252: Dee’s Doubts”

  1. Sorry for the slightly shorter than usual chapter, but I felt this was a better way to bounce back and get back into the swing of things than putting it off again.

    Thank you all for your patience and well-wishes. For those who don’t follow my blog or personal twitter, I’d like to let you know that a short ebook about my experiences with sudden unexpected loss is now available on Amazon and through my personal store.

    Current score: 5
  2. Nocker says:

    Thinking like a Delver sounds interesting. Probably useful if they’re anything like the usual paranoid adventuring parties I’ve run with(given how fast goblinoids regen and how prevalent monsters are, I’d say successful delvers err on the side of paranoia). In any case, Mack has a necromancer, priest, and fighter. The next logical step is to bring in a rogue or ranger to deal with traps and tracking and other stealth issues, of which Nae is probably the best given she can gnome-step and fighting capabilities. Not to mention that if you want “oh shit” to be a factor lets not forget Nae spent a whole lot of time in the same social circles as Mercy.

    As for Mackenzie’s morality, she may not be evil but I’d hesitate to really put her down as “good” either. She doesn’t really put much active effort into things like charity or helping others outside her own circle.

    Current score: 0
    • Hollowgolem says:

      I’d place her as a pretty solid True Neutral, myself. She’s not selfless, but not overly selfish, not particularly concerned with rules or freedom, either.

      At varying points she’s veered into evil, law, chaos, and good. Like all of us.

      I guess most real people are True Neutral, at the end of the day.

      Current score: 3
      • Nocker says:

        I dunno, you’d be surprised how many people dip into either pool at least mildly in real life. In universe Steff is a pretty solid(if not terribly effective) evil, while Amy is a clear cut good(though not terribly competent). It’s just that they aren’t big evil(Steff isn’t nearly driven enough to hold onto Kilrest even if she takes it), or big good(Being the favored child of a god hasn’t worked out super well for Amaranth). Because at the end of the day a good chunk of the populous is good or evil, but they can’t pull of capital G or E.

        Back to Mackenzie, I get the feeling that she’s going to HAVE to pick one at some point and take it all the way, if only due to outside pressure. It’s really more of a question of outliers I think. Amy is a slightly unusual Nymph and Steff has a few things going for her(hence being in the winter guard). Mackenzie though is an extreme outlier by The Man’s design. She’s a half demon that doesn’t need something debilitatingly rare or vital to survive and also inherited a bunch of extra stuff, possibly from both parents who themselves were extreme outliers in their own categories, and at least one of which comes from another extreme outlier. Something that unusual with that much to throw around eventually becomes significant in ways beyond itself.

        Current score: 2
        • zeel says:

          While the 9 section grid is a common illustration you kinda have to view it more as an infinite plane. Where true neutrality is the center, and order/chaos and good/evil simply describe the directions away from center. So 99% of people are pretty close to center, some off a bit in any direction – but really not to any great extreme. Even The Man or Mercy, neutral evils, aren’t that far off center in the grand scheme of things (though much too far for comfort). And you have characters like Callahan that are technicals chaotic evil, but in a strict sense of her interaction with the main story she’s more like a chaotic neutral or even good.

          Current score: 0
          • Nocker says:

            How in the hell do a rapist Satan and a Satan raper not represent extreme levels of evil to you? They cross so many obvious moral lines it almost becomes laughable at some points. In the grand scheme the damage either of them has done is probably immense, if only due to accumulation over centuries and the sheer body count they’ve both racked up.

            In Mackenzie’s case though, I’m getting the distinct feeling that she’s going to have to make a tough call of some kind and do it sooner rather than later. She’s making it a habit of ignoring anything resembling a larger metaplot but you can only ignore crazies who keep you on file for so long before they force you to do things you aren’t proud of. Or else, some random situation nobody could forsee because one of the hundreds of platee AE keeps spinning eventually come crashing down onto Mack’s head.

            The thing about neutrality is that it means not taking a side. Mortals can go their whole life without doing that, because in a few decades we’ll die anyway and we might not get forced to. Immortals though can only stall for so long before something eventually forces their hand. In the case of an immortal with so many eyes on her that’ll probably come well within a mortal timeframe.

            Current score: 1
            • zeel says:

              Sigh, that isn’t what I said. My whole point is that it’s a relative spectrum, and there isn’t a limit to how evil (or good/lawful/chaotic) a person can be. We don’t know that many historical MU villains, though we have heard mention of Praxis, after whom the area of Prax is named. From the minimal knowledge we have he was probably farther into the chaotic evil than The Man.

              As to Mackenzie you’re probably right, at some point she will have to confront some things (or, you know, run). Most likely that’s going to wait ’till after graduation, college is a weird buffer between childhood and real life, and I think Mackenzie is just going to (at least try) to use it to ignore those issues for now.

              It’s a matter of scale in a way, where The Man does evil to get what he wants from people, and to further his agenda. But a full blow villain oppresses as many people as they can control on a much larger scale.

              The Man is an amoral man eating ass hole. But not a full blown villain, at least as far as we actually know. There are some hints that his plans may be larger in scope.

              Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              I think we talked around each other a bit.

              There’s no limit to how far you can go in one direction. However once people pick a direction they generally just run with it until something stops them. Ergo, an immortal is going to be in way deeper than a mortal. Even if The Man isn’t actively running in that direction as fast as he can, casually strolling for a few hundred years will still let him outpace a human who showed up much later and died much earlier. Remember, The Man has to kill a minimum of one person per year active and has been around for at least a thousand years. Then you get to all the extra ones he’s done for his own goals and the number probably reaches the thousands, just by his own direct hand. That’s just deaths, and not the children he’s corrupted or the offspring he’s tormented.

              Remember Sam’s research: The Man’s activity never approaches demon cult numbers, but it’s been a steady effort for centuries. A rough number of a thousand years and 1-2 hybrids per generation was thrown out. Assuming about 30 years to a generation that’s still about fifty he hasn’t killed, which is several times over the number of viable females the next highest demon we know of managed(which is where Mercy has her one surviving hybrid). The next highest all happened at once and likely had more overt malice involved, but at the end of the day it still had a lesser cumulative effect, even before considering how selective The Man is and how his hybrids seem to be of a vague higher quality according to Mercy.

              Morality isn’t just a tag people add or remove in one go, it’s more about the buildup of everything one does over a lifetime.

              Current score: 1
            • Anvildude says:

              Don’t forget that Neutral can be a “side” as well. It’s possible to militantly deny non-neutral policies, or stringently work to balance either extreme good or extreme evil.

              Current score: 0
          • Readaholic says:

            The Man is best described as neutral !EVIL!, I suspect, given The Man’s past history, that I should have added more exclamation marks to the evil.
            Steff is more chaotic neutral, however much she’d like to think of herself as evil cool. She’s simply too messed up for anything else.
            Mack? Less messed up than Steff, so true neutral, tending toward good, but still with too much baggage to do any more than keep her head down and study.

            Current score: 0
            • Seth says:

              One thing that makes MackDaddy interesting to me is that he considers himself to be a moral man, though a deeply wronged one. By his own definition, he would be a solid Chaotic Good, one who attempts to overthrow establishment because the world itself is evil.

              Current score: 0
            • Burnsidhe says:

              Seth: Don’t make the mistake of mixing subjective morality with objective morality.

              Objectively, The Man is evil. Period.
              Subjectively, he may *think* he is being good. But objectively, he does things that are destructive to the fabric of society and disruptive, even catastrophic, to individuals. And he does these things casually, or with malice aforethought.

              Current score: 5
            • zeel says:

              I think that was Seth’s point though, his self image is interesting.

              To further that though, while he seems to think of himself as a chaotic good (which would be true if you subscribe to his world view), he kind of paints himself as a lawful evil to Mackenzie. He doesn’t so much deny that his actions are evil (though he doesn’t seem to think that actually makes them wrong), and he pretends that he is honest, and that he has some kind of personal moral code. We know (and he has let slip) that this isn’t actually true – it’s all just a ruse.

              The really interesting part is that world view of his (or that he has expressed). I mean it makes sense on the surface – your race was created with the purpose of eating another race, their god gets pissed off about it, and banishes you all to another plane of existence. And then that race and all their friends team up to keep you out.

              The flaw is of course that being created to do evil doesn’t make it okay to do it. It’s a shitty position to be in sure, but don’t blame humans or their god – blame your god that created you that way.

              Though I kind of doubt how much The Man really believes all that he says. It feels more like he’s recruiting for a cult, he want’s Mackenzie to believe this idea – but I think his motives are far more self serving than he lets on. He doesn’t strike me as a zealot, he strikes me as a con man.

              Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              Con man and cult leader are pretty good comparisons. If you listen to his talks with other people he’s constantly feeding them bullshit lines or trying to exert control over them. He mentioned that he had no real interest in raising Mackenzie, simply because even as a child she was still too old for him to work with, which is corroborated by the folklore having him immediately snap up any newborns he CAN work with.

              The only real reason he’d make the distinction within his usual MO is because from birth gives you such a larger sway over the victims psychology. We saw with Laurel Anne that even if he works with a child the sway isn’t permanent, and when you both play your game in centuries that’s so many more chances for them to break away unless you have absolute control.

              Current score: 0
            • LukeLicens says:

              @Burnsidhe

              In objective terms, Mack is evil too. She is injured by divine power and has infernal blood, so by the objective rules she MUST be evil. If she were not objectively evil in the same way as The Man, divine power would not hurt her.

              This is one of the interesting thing about the MUniverse. People subscribe to a subjective morality despite the existence of an objective morality.

              So, if from the point of view of the subjective morality espoused by society Mack can be ‘not evil’, then The Man can be ‘not evil’ from a certain point of view. That’s not to say he’s not evil, of course, it’s just to say he COULD be not evil.

              Current score: 0
            • holodrum says:

              What a lot of people miss about the alignment system is that it is meant as an indication of your acceptable actions and has very little bearing on your race. The fact that Mack is hurt by divine energy is not an indication of objective morality, it is a supernatural allergic reaction. The actions of The Man and his general disregard for the lives of others is why he is objectively evil.

              Current score: 1
          • Anthony says:

            Mercy, Neutral Evil? How do you figure? She’s a textbook LE character, working within the law and using evil laws to directly further her evil purposes.

            Current score: 1
        • Ilya says:

          Steff is definitely NOT evil. She’s not good, she’s definitely not the person to give good example, but she has friends she loves and she helps them any way she can. She doesn’t harm other people (bad language doesn’t count), but she doesn’t care about them either. If she wasn’t transgender half-elf with sadistic and suicidal psychological problems, i’d say she’s a normal human being.
          She’s like a gothic teens that dress like vampire, listens death metal and have torture tools on their bedroom walls. It doesn’t make them bad, it’s their weird way of pulling attention and showing themselves as individuals.
          Kilrest is just weird dream that she’s gradually giving up on.

          Current score: 3
          • Cadnawes says:

            I agree. A lot of her motivation appears to be “hey this would be cool!” mixed with poor impulse control, which doesn’t land you at evil. Chaotic, probably.

            But the alignment system is inherently flawed regardless. I don’t think a lot of people get up in the morning and think “I’m gonna be evil!” Well, I do, but I’m mostly kidding, and a sadist. Anyway I think most people want to do what’s right, we just disagree about what that is.

            Current score: 3
            • The Chosen One says:

              I prefer the interpretation of the alignment grid where the Good/Evil axis has more to do with selflessness/selfishness than things like ‘regard for social order’ or ‘willingness to commit murder or other crimes’.

              In this system, “Evil” doesn’t always mean “bad”, it’s just the category for eg hedonists. ‘Poor impulse control’ is definitely a small step towards Chaotic Evil, and loving your friends isn’t necessarily a step toward Good if it’s at the exclusion of caring for anyone else.

              Current score: 0
          • Q says:

            evil people can have friends too. evil and socially broken aren’t equivalent terms

            Current score: 0
  3. Grant says:

    Thinking like a Delver implies identifying the biggest “oh shit” creature she could from the perspective of someone who doesn’t think of monsters as people

    The only person I can think of that fits the bill and Mack has a report with is Belinda the half-Ogre.

    Current score: 0
  4. Glenn says:

    “Thinking like a Delver” to me suggests that Mack may be thinking about how to create a sufficiently diverse team. So far she’s got Dee, a multiclass Priestess/Fighter/Subtle artist who would probably make a good team leader, Pala, a Giant Fighter, and Steff, a specialist necromancer who is fairly good in a knife fight.
    Steff is an arcane magic user, but she’s so specialized that she may not know much combat magic. She can probably supply some Zombie guards, she can cast darkness, and she might use the “undead cotton” trick she used on Mack’s pants. But much of her value as a guard lies in her skill with a blade.
    While Mack could recruit some fighters from the skirmish team like Belinda and Hissy, she’s already got three good fighters in Dee, Pala and Steff. I’d say her team could use some more magical support. I think Eloise the Druid might be a good choice here.
    If Twyla the half Ifrit has made any progress in controlling her Ifrit powers, especially her control over fire, she might be a good choice. After all, the most dangerous tactic the middling elves could use would be arson. Twyla’s major was in Divination, so she might be able to predict any attacks before they happened.
    The team really needs an enchanter like Mack herself. I’m sure Mack would be very hesitant about picking her, but one enchanter who just might be a good choice for this team would be…Sooni. Like Mack, she’s an enchantment major. She showed in her fight with Mack back in book 1 that even then she knew at least one combat spell. She’s creative enough to be a successful costume designer. And while she was so inexperienced back in book 1 that she approached life as if she was a character in an anime, becoming a guard to earn the right to join a court is just the sort of thing a character in an anime would do. Sooni would certainly benefit from joining Glory’s court.

    Current score: 1
    • zeel says:

      Actually, Sooni and friends would probably been a great choice. Soonie knows combat spells, and the nekos are trained fighters themselves.

      I don’t remember if Sooni’s father ever reinstated her allowance, but if not I think Glory’s money and a chance to stay in a nice place would be enough to get her on board.

      Current score: 2
      • Cadnawes says:

        And going home over break is not a likely option for her, either. She’s a really sensible choice, but part of me is hoping it doesn’t happen, anyway.

        How well would she blend into someone else’s royal court?

        Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      Think like a delver, remember? A proper party has very few redundancies. You have one sword guy and one staff guy and one bow guy and one prayer guy. Any redundancy needed is covered by things like weapon proficiency and cantrips.

      Dee is already the prayer guy, and also a psychic. So that cuts Hissy right out on any count she could bring.

      Pala is their sword guy, so Belinda is right out since her only real virtues in a non-tactical fight are physical strength and size, and half ogre loses to full giant every day of the week.

      Steff is their staff guy, which means Sooni is the redundancy. A couple of off the counter blasts aren’t much compared to a junior level necromancer. Especially one who can grab the same spells off the counter.

      Current score: 0
      • Glenn says:

        How much overlap is there between the magic of a necromancer like Steff, and the magic of an enchanter like Mack or Sooni? My impression is that they are working in very different fields. Steff is only just now starting to study spells like Darkness, because until recently she was focused almost exclusively on raising the undead. And the only reason she’s studying Darkness is that some necromantic operations can’t be performed if there is any light. When she’s in the dark in Glory’s bedroom, Steff runs though a long list of different sorts of mystic “light” she can cast, none of which are of any use in that situation, because she can’t create ordinary light..
        So I don’t think you can say she’s the “staff guy” who handles the group’s arcane magic needs, because she’s not a magical generalist. Her magical skills seem very narrowly focused.

        Current score: 1
        • Nocker says:

          Right, but you’re thinking about it like an Academic, not a Delver.

          They’re both “staff guys”, no matter how different their magic actually is. Provided their magic is even vaguely applicable in battle it still counts as overlap. It’s one of those stupid bullshit things adventurers oversimplify. Just like how a dude in fullplate with a zwiehander and a dude in mail with an arming sword and round shield both have to be “sword guys” despite fighting in totally different ways.

          When you’re in a party, all that really matters is finding a way to kill the random encounters. Even if you do it along the most vaguely similar lines possible you just get slotted into the same positions. The attacking elves won’t care if it’s a neko or a pants zombie that attacks them, just that they’re being attacked.

          Current score: 1
          • Teian says:

            No no. I think your approaching this the wrong way. A delver does not try to build an ‘Efficient and Balanced’ team. That’s Enchanter talk there, all ‘resource allocation’ and ‘Optimized Synergy.’

            I mean, yeah, Skirmish buffs often thing along those lines too, how can we get the most bang outta our buck.

            But delvers? Delvers come from a long and historied tradition of ‘Kicking Down Someone’s Door and Taking Their Things.’ Delvers don’t bother with that ‘We don’t need Two close range power houses,’ Line of reasoning. That’s like giving the kobolds a chance? You know where that leads? Tucker’s kobolds, that’s where.

            “Shoot first, Demon-girls are bad, if it’s in a dungeon and not us it’s fair game.” A delver is all about Overwhelming force, applied liberally and without hesitiation. More is better, sooner is better. More swords, more magic, more arrows, before the other side can.

            You wanna delve? Bring more pain than the dungeon does.

            Current score: 0
          • Readaholic says:

            ‘Attack of the Zombie Pants’ – a no-budget horror parody coming soon to MU!

            Current score: 2
  5. Potatohead says:

    Typo catch:

    “she’d be helping to challenge the power structures in Treehome that made it hard for any middling elf who didn’t want to be a manipulative back of dicks to survive.”

    Should probably be “bag of dicks”, I think.

    Current score: 1
    • Lunaroki says:

      I was thinking “pack of dicks” myself. Either way, a “back of dicks” is a peculiarly disturbing mental image.

      Typo Report

      In Which Mackenzie

      The chapter subtitle seems to have been left incomplete. Not sure if that was intentional, but it doesn’t feel that way.

      while Glory had hoped that her message of endorsement would cement the mutual bonds * respect and compel Dee to accept the offer,

      Reads like it needs an “of” after “bonds”.

      and it had been growing from a seed that Glory had planted.when she’d talked about

      Period between “planted” and “when” should be a space.

      Current score: 0
  6. Mo says:

    You guys are forgetting that anyone you want to add to the Winter Guard would have to actually be on campus during Khersentide.
    So Twyla is out since she is a devout follower of Khersis and she has parents she is going home to. The gnomes are probably out since they wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to go home (and eat).

    From a delver perspective it might be nice with a back-up healer or an additional mage. Semele is in the bardic program so I have no idea what she would bring to the table.

    Current score: 1
  7. Sapphite says:

    “We change more often by degrees than swift reversals. ”

    This made me think of Anikan Skywalker as (poor) counter-example. Swift reversals require potent forces/story points.

    Current score: 0
  8. Zathras IX says:

    Many a person
    Becomes something that they’re not
    To avoid what they are

    Current score: 5
  9. Barnowl says:

    So Pala+Steff+Dee put together are the minimum replacement for what was originally going to be just Mackenzie guarding the house over Khersentide?! Glory has a very high opinion of Mack’s asskicking potential. Maybe she could get an A in Callahan’s class after all!

    Current score: 1
    • Nocker says:

      Bare in mind that she’s been around the school way longer, hell she might even be one of the original petitioners who wanted to come anyway(makes sense given her interest in mortals). It’s entirely possible that she’s working from a copy of Eugine’s notes, or one of the exiled warrior women. Mackenzie only really existed as a theoretical individual when the research began but any info available you could find suggests she’s someone to be taken seriously. Even if she never met them she’d have come aboard closer to the old campus riot and have a stronger impression of the idea of Half-demon=Kills like 50 dudes solo. Or heck, maybe she’s been seeing the Owl-Turtle and knows about her having the mental fortitude to kick the ass of a demon older than most elves.

      We forget because we’re close to her but if you just read Mackenzie’s stuff on basically anyone’s file she comes off as being an incredibly dangerous person. Even Emberies only met her like twice tops but he’s warning Acantha that she’s not someone you can just fuck around with casually(and he was right, which just builds her rep even more).

      Mackenzie is one of Callahan’s favorites + good enough to knock a giant on her ass + also has experience with mental bullshit. Throw in the crazier ones selling to Mercy hearing a bunch of shit and it’s easy to see why she’d be a stronger deterrent than the three of them together. The feats they’ve performed at MU are rivaled by Mackenzie’s own and she’s rivaling all of them at once.

      Current score: 1
      • Ilya says:

        Yes, but put her against Dee for real and she will live only few seconds, hell Dee can probably just burn her with divine power.
        Even Steff can probably put few knifes in her before she realizes.
        Pala can probably kill her too if she will fight for her life, she’s just not fast enough to do it easily, but she nearly same strength as Mack, has strong natural magic, and Mack’s invulnerability doesn’t matter because they both have magic weapons.

        Current score: 1
        • Nocker says:

          …yeah, but the point of the exercise isn’t to see who kills who in a fight, it’s who acts as the best deterrent. It doesn’t matter that Mackenzie would lose to all of them in an actual confrontation, it just matters that the elves BELIEVE she’s good enough to beat them.

          If the elf in her combat class mentions her fights, he probably won’t mention that she wins by bullshitting or getting lucky a bunch of the time, he’ll just mention “holy shit,

          Current score: 1
          • Nocker says:

            got cut off in editing. The gist of it is that Mackenzie’s major feats are behind closed doors, many with middlings watching but not having a clear picture of what’s going on. Rumors are going to circulate and even Glory herself had a hard time separating fact from fiction early in.

            Current score: 1
      • JS says:

        “…her having the mental fortitude to kick the ass of a demon older than most elves.”

        Ooh, good point. I’d forgotten clean about that. Does anyone know which episode that was and the most pertinent ones before that one? I’d like to read that again.

        Current score: 0
        • Nocker says:

          Technically speaking she did it twice. First time she just pushed him a bit and he ran off. Second time she found him hiding and just tore him to shreds and pissed him the fuck off.

          Current score: 1
          • JS says:

            Yeah, that’s the one I want to read again. Oh, I can just go to the tags. derp!

            Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Seems more likely that she was simply not thinking things through as far as Mackenzie did. She hadn’t considered multiple guards until Mackenzie suggested it. Which means one half demon sounded like good enough to her at first, but after more thought I doubt she would go back to just Mackenzie if she backed out of the trip.

      Current score: 2
  10. Cadnawes says:

    You know what they don’t have? A sneaky type. I still stand by Eloise. I wouldn’t categorize her as a rogue but turning into animals is one way to have an almost perpetual element of surprise. In RPGs, when I play shapeshifters, I usually run espionage.

    I would say find a rogue but that seems like an inherently bad choice of house sitter.

    Current score: 3
    • Nocker says:

      The wonderfully OP thing about druids almost across the board is they can basically outstrip most classes at their own game. They heal like priesty types, bash like fighty types, sneak like roguish types, and sometimes they even blast like wizard types.

      An actual rogue is probably a better idea for counter-tactics though. You need someone who can THINK like a rogue more than an actual backstabber. That means picking out which windows they’ll want to climb through, which times they’ll want to hit, and what they’re most likely to try stealing or breaking. That way you can anticipate and counter their moves(a slightly ajar 2nd story window is a great place for a crossbow trap after all). The exercise is about holding a position, and the point of owning that position is you can set the terms for the most lopsided point possible and any trespasser has to roll with it.

      Current score: 4
      • Cadnawes says:

        True, but, well, I’m not a rogue and I could tell you those things. Live in a crummy neighborhood long enough, and you will be able to spot the windows with poor visibility, know when people are home, and be able to offer a well deserved “duh” unto friends who live in a lower level corner apartment who left ANY window unlocked ever and got robbed.

        I believe most games call this “streetwise”.

        Current score: 2
  11. Shine says:

    For some reason I read Dee’s dialog for this chapter in Samara’s voice from the Mass Effect series. On a hunch, I re read it with Thane’s voice instead. Both worked for me, perhaps because of an inherent sameness of consciously formal and polite yet non-ethnic voices. I’ll probably be reading her that way in the future.

    Current score: 0
  12. tijay says:

    Really? 40+ comments and no one asks “In which Mackenzie, what’s?”

    Current score: 1
    • Cadnawes says:

      I just took it as Dee doubting Mackenzie, but playing off the usual title structure.

      Current score: 0
  13. Ilya says:

    Week passed…

    Current score: 0