Chapter 258: Final Confrontation

on October 21, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 7: Courtly Manners, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Mackenzie Comes Face To Face With Her Inner Demon

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I had known before it had begun that the fight would end with a single good hit, and I was right… but I was also wrong.

Yes, the swing of my opponent’s rapidly-extending staff into my skull was what officially brought an end to the bout, but it was the look on my opponent’s fight that really decided thing.

I had seen fear on other people’s faces before, often directed at me, but I had never seen so much of it all at once, such a potent concentration of fear and disgust. Seeing that look reproduced on my own face and knowing it was in response to whatever she could see on my actual own face in that moment brought me crashing down. More than just stopping me in my tracks, it absolutely undid me.

I laid on my back panting and gasping, long after the phantasmal effects of the weapon had faded into nothingness.

What would I have seen, if I could have stood in her shoes? If it had been one of dupes who had lost her weapon and then lost control, what would have gone through my head when I saw it? The same thing that went through hers, obviously… she was me, and her thoughts in any given situation would mirror my own.

So what had she seen, when she looked at me?

What had I looked like to her?

I thought I had made so much progress in the time since I’d left my grandmother’s house. I’d spent so much of the past few months running around with such confidence, acting like I was just any other person, throwing my magic around like it wasn’t drawn from a tainted well…

It had been a long time since I’d lost control, and though I’d always been hesitant to minimize the danger of that, I’d never really done so without some kind of extenuating circumstance: magical interference, ignored hunger, human flesh and blood, deadly threats to people I cared about. In this case, there’d been no deadly provocation, no magical interference, nothing that could possibly justify giving in to the beast inside me.

Had I really wanted to win that badly? Was an A… was any grade… really worth losing myself like that?

The only real comfort I could take away from it was that I had stopped… I supposed it was just possible that if I’d seen any other face twisted into the same look of mortal terror and disgust as I’d seen on my duplicate’s, then I would have been similarly stopped in my tracks. I might not have killed anyone, if it had been for real.

I tried to tell myself that.

I believed it only a little, but it didn’t help much.

I came back into myself to see Coach Callahan standing over me, a hand extended downwards. I took it, and she helped me to my feet with a jerk.

“Congratulations,” she said. Her voice was flat, but it didn’t sound sarcastic.

“I lost,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “You were meant to. Two on one against yourself? I told you, I didn’t expect anyone to win. But there’s still passing and there’s still failing, and you passed your final.”

“Did you think I wouldn’t?”

Before that moment, anything touching on the class itself had seemed like a distant concern, but I was a little hurt by the implication, and it was better to focus on that then… wallow.

“I never know, with you,” she said. “I was afraid you might surprise me… and you did, but in a good way. This whole semester you’ve tried to approach things like you were solving a puzzle, and that works for you, mostly. But you couldn’t rely on it all the way through a fight like this, and you didn’t. Now, do you want to know what you did wrong?”

What a question that was… if anyone else had put it to me, I probably would have had a different response. The answer wasn’t easy in any sense, but it was plenty obvious: I’d given in, I’d become… or shown myself to be… the monster my grandmother had always said I was.

I knew that Coach Callahan wasn’t talking about morals, though, but tactics. She wouldn’t completely ignore the emotional dynamics of a fight, but she only cared about them insofar as they impacted the winning and losing.

“I know why I lost,” I said. “I… hesitated.”

“Yeah, you hesitated,” she said. “And we both know why you hesitated. What I’m asking you is, do you know how you could have avoided it?”

“By winning the fight some other way before it got to the point?”

“Or by being stronger or faster than yourself, sure,” she said. “I’m not talking about hypotheticals that could change from fight to fight, Frybaby. I’m talking about what you could have done different, what could have been different in you, that would have won you this fight in the moment where you lost it.”

“You mean, I shouldn’t have cared,” I said. “I shouldn’t have held back.”

“Well, yeah… that would have won you this fight,” she said. “But the point of winning fights in here is to win them out there, and you know damn well that going to town like that on someone who comes after you is just going to bring more people after you, and that’s how you wind up on the shortest road to the fight you can’t win. You do it if you have to, but you won’t have to if you can just learn one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“How to cut loose without letting go… how to use the monster without letting it off the leash,” she said. “See, the real problem is that you tried to substitute half-assing going too far for going just far enough to begin with. Running screaming past the edge would have won this fight, even if it’s not the best long-term survival strategy.Going all the way up to the edge and pulling back lost it. But there’s such a thing as going right up to the edge and making your stand there.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?”

“Practice,” she said. “I’ve seen you do it… I know you’d rather use magic, but I’ve seen you attuning your physical senses to fight better. Where the fuck do you think those comes from? Where do you think your strength comes from?”

“And I use those things!” I said.

“While you back away from what they mean,” Coach Callahan said. “At the end of the day, any weapon you’re afraid to use belongs to your enemy.”

“That’s not fair,” I said, and immediately regretted. They were the worst possible three words to say in a lot of circumstances, but in particular they were less than useless against Coach Callahan. If I hadn’t been emotionally vulnerable, I never would have bothered.

The good news was that she heard that complaint so often, it was probably just background noise to her at this point.

“Isn’t it?” she said. “I don’t give a fighting fuck if it is, but isn’t it? Tell me, what’s not fair about it?”

“I’ve got over a lot of my hang-ups since I first started fighting,” I said.

“Oh, yeah, you’ve made a ton of progress when it comes to swinging your stick at people’s heads or kicking someone away when you have to, but you’ve never learned how to go to hand to hand without fighting tooth and nail. You’ve never learned how to let a little bit go. It’s still all or nothing with you, you’re either completely in control or completely out of it.”

“What am I supposed to do about that?” I asked.

“I’m not about to offer you another deal and I’m not going to try to convince you to take another class with me, but if you want to know what I think your next step should be, it’s an unarmed fighting class.”

“I can’t imagine that helping,” I said, shaking my head both in disagreement and to try to force the image of the other-me’s face out of my mind. “Not in the way you’re talking about… I’d have to practice so much self-control and restraint, I’d never be able to bring my strength to bear in a fight.”

“Maybe, against real opponents,” she said. “But since the earliest fighting class you’d be signing up for is fall semester next year, there’s a good chance these babies will be the new standard.”

She patted the orange mockbox, in case there was any doubt what she had meant.

“Maybe,” I said.

“Well, you’ve got a couple years left to think about it, at least,” she said. “Anyway, unless there’s anything else, you can hit the road. Try not to get my favorite TA killed over the break, okay?”

“The goal’s to prevent a fight,” I said. “But even if that fails, I don’t think she’s going to be in that much danger, personally… I can’t imagine anyone on campus bringing her down for good.”

“Yeah? I can think of five ways,” she said. “But she’s not going to be facing me.”

“Anyway… I guess it’ll probably be a while before you’ve totaled up our grades,” I said, though I knew that math wasn’t numbered among the types of calculations she made when assigning grades.

“You walked in here with a solid B minus,” she said. “You’re walking out with a tenuous B plus… and it’s only tenuous because you brought up the ‘f-word’ in front of me.”

“The f-w… oh,” I said. Fair. Of course. “Thank you.”

I meant it.

I’d sometimes had a problem remembering the formalities of gratitude, which meant that sometimes I also made that kind of response by rote, but the gratitude and relief I felt were both real.

A B plus was not the grade I’d been aiming for, but it was honestly higher than I’d expected to get. I couldn’t bring myself to be disappointed, knowing that Coach Callahan meant it when she said that I’d earned it.

It was weird… I’d always been proud of my grades, but I’d never really cared if the teachers passed out As like candy or not. I’d always considered that the important thing was that you got them. If a teacher gave me a D, I’d want to know the reason why, but an A was an A was an A. Yet, I think I was happier to have that B plus than I’d been with any grade I’d ever received.

Amaranth’s reaction might be a bit different, I knew, but I had a feeling she’d see the positive in it… that she’d appreciate how close I’d come to her goal for me, rather than feeling like I could have made it but I blew it.

What it would mean in terms of her plans to collar me when I’d fulfilled her tasks was up in the air, but I would be happy to leave that up in the air until after grades were officially posted. We didn’t need to have a future-of-the-relationship talk, even if it wasn’t a particularly heavy one, just before I left for a week with Glory.

“Don’t start that shit with me,” she said. Her complexion didn’t change that much, but I think she was actually dangerously close to blushing… at the very least, she was definitely affected. That was interesting to note. I was starting to feel a bit more in control of myself. “However much of an annoying emo asshole you might be, you lasted longer than half your classmates so far, and came closer to actually winning than almost anyone. You got a B plus because you earned it.”

“Because you made me,” I said.

“Oh, go on,” she said. “Get the fuck out of here, before the music starts to swell and we both learn something about caring, or some shit. Class is over. No more lessons.”


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60 Responses to “Chapter 258: Final Confrontation”

  1. Peter Boulanger says:

    YES!!!

    Current score: 2
  2. adsipowe says:

    Mac’s umbrella spell WITH SCIENCE https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1243275397/air-umbrella

    Current score: 0
  3. Nocker says:

    Between the staff and the grappling I get the feeling Mackenzie is taking a few levels in Monk. She even has the bullshit mental stuff mostly down pat.

    But this is all on Mackenzie though. Dee offered to teach her this exact skillset a year ago and got shot down. If Dee is still willing she can probably start sooner than fall though.

    Current score: 6
    • Order of Chaos says:

      Dee has offered to train her.

      Current score: 2
    • Nocker says:

      …and I’ve just remembered that she also already leaps around like a wire-fu reject thanks to that strength of hers.

      Current score: 2
  4. Order of Chaos says:

    One word away from an A. Wow, another great chapter AE.

    Current score: 2
    • zeel says:

      No, one word away from a definitive B+.

      “You walked in here with a solid B minus,” she said. “You’re walking out with a tenuous B plus… and it’s only tenuous because you brought up the ‘f-word’ in front of me.”

      A “tenuous B+” means “probably a B+, but maybe only a B.”

      Current score: 5
  5. The Chosen One says:

    She passed the class…
    BUT AT WHAT COST???

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      What cost? Another chunk of her stupid naivete that she’s gradually outgrowing. I think we can agree that’s an acceptable loss.

      Current score: 2
  6. D. D. Webb says:

    God, I love Callahan so very much.

    Current score: 18
    • Mack says:

      I know, right?!

      Current score: 3
      • readaholic says:

        Come on guys, don’t talk like that, you’re just begging Callahan to break through the fourth wall and beat the crap out of you.

        Current score: 4
        • Kriss says:

          Don’t be silly, she wouldn’t do that. There’s no challenge in that

          Current score: 3
          • Lurk says:

            No challenge in killing the entity who wrote the gods themselves into existence? If Callahan can see through the fourth wall like some of the other Black Door patrons, you can bet she’s thinking real hard about how to break it down.

            It would end tragically for A.E., but I have to admit, it would be a great story. If A.E ever mysteriously vanished from the face of the internet, that’s what happened.

            For that matter, I hope she implies that that’s what happened, as an in-story explanation, if she ever decides to retire. It would make my day for the series to end with, “And then Callahan crashed through the glass wall with a shattering of glass. There was a woman sitting in some sort of chair, and”

            Current score: 6
      • Mike says:

        She is the best, isn’t she?

        Current score: 1
        • spess imvader says:

          Yes, Jillybeans is great. I’d like to see more of her personal/affective life. And it is pretty clear she is not as tough on the interior as she is on the exterior.

          Current score: 0
  7. P says:

    “I’m not about to offer you another deal…”

    I started grinning once I got this far into the sentence. Someone pointed out in another update that this meant we’d never see more of Callahan unless Mackenzie took another class of hers for some reason, which would be ostensibly out of character for Mackenzie. Callahan is one of my favorite characters to read about and I figured AE could cook up some moderately acceptable reason to keep Callahan in the story if AE wanted to, but this chapter was really perfect.

    I’ve really enjoyed this last few chapters. Thank you for writing, Alexandra Erin. I wish I could contribute more to you financially (more than next to nothing), but I always enjoy reading and I appreciate your work so much.

    Current score: 6
    • Mack says:

      And the blushing is interesting.

      Current score: 5
      • readaholic says:

        Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
        *looks around nervously for signs of 4th wall breakage by omnicidal dwelgrorcs*

        Current score: 0
      • Order of Chaos says:

        Anyone who yells at you alot just loves you, Sooni can explain it to you if you need help.

        Current score: 8
  8. Michael/Aurielle says:

    Great Chapter, I love Mack and Callahan’s exchanges 🙂 Also yay for Patreon.

    Current score: 0
  9. Dani says:

    > the look on my opponent’s fight
    face?

    > Try not to get my favorite TA killed
    Does Tiny discuss these things with Callahan, or has Mack’s security been generally lousy?

    Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      She had a silence spell, nothing says her classmates couldn’t read lips.

      Though I believe she told Callahan, so it’s a moot point anyway.

      Current score: 3
      • Seth says:

        A Silence spell that Callahan found particularly unimpressive.

        Current score: 4
        • Lucy says:

          Wasn’t she unimpressed because it was a very unsubtle and brute force method?

          Current score: 0
          • adsipowe says:

            whhoooossWHHHA–BAM! “SILENCE SPELL ACTIVATED…
            …THE AUDIENCE IS NOW DEAF”

            Current score: 1
      • Phexar says:

        Mack did indeed tell Callahan that she needed to “keep a bunch of middlings from Treehome from messing with my friend’s place” over the break while she was away and asked where she could find Pala to see if she could stay on campus, so Callahan knows all that at least.

        Current score: 3
    • Arancaytar says:

      She already told Callahan that she wanted to hire Pala, and why.

      The more concerning thing is that unless she’s using hyperbole, Callahan speculates there might be actual mortal danger to Pala. Considering Pala’s abilities, that’s a pretty big deal.

      Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      Typo Report

      but it was the look on my opponent’s fight that really decided thing.

      As Dani mentioned, “fight” should be “face”, but also I believe “thing” should be “things”.

      long-term survival strategy.Going all the way up to the edge

      Space missing between “strategy.” and “Going”.

      but you’ve never learned how to go to hand to hand without fighting tooth and nail.

      This might be alright as is, but I think it would read better if the “to” between “go” and “hand” were removed. It just feels awkward with every other word being “to” for such a long stretch.

      Current score: 0
  10. sliversith says:

    God I hope that’s not the last we see of Callahan- she is hands down my favorite MU character, excluding Violet, whom we have not seen in AGES anyway

    Current score: 4
  11. Glenn says:

    It seems a bit odd that Callahan says,
    “But since the earliest fighting class you’d be signing up for is fall semester next year…”
    Is there some reason why Mack couldn’t take a fighting course sometime in the next three semesters before AE begins Volume Three? Or is Callahan leaning on the 4th wall here?

    Current score: 1
    • Nocker says:

      Depends on who’s teaching what. Grappling classes are relatively esoteric and Callahan mentioned way back at the beginning of the volume that they were taught by one coach, who probably teaches grappling II next semester or something with intro to unarmed as it’s prereq, if not some other class alltogether. That kind of thing does happen in some disciplines and Martial Combat has no real life analogue to compare(and has some interesting implications, since it’s not a military requirement and separate from Delving. I get the feeling it’s mostly a thing for private security types and upscale mercenaries).

      …or the professor wound up getting called off on some grand quest and won’t be back for at least a few months. Even random wandering puppeteer bards apparently get called into that kind of thing in the modern period, and whatever super kung fu master MU has is probably in high demand. After all, just the rudimentary body enhancements Mackenzie could do in freshman year were impressive in their own way. A master of twenty or thirty years could potentially be legendary in his own way.

      Current score: 0
      • Order of Chaos says:

        Didn’t Mack have the same classes all thru last year? Can someone full me in on why she get’s to drop this one now please?

        Current score: 0
        • Nocker says:

          She only had the same classes through the fall. We never saw what she took in spring and summer because we never saw her spring or summer outside of a couple of OT’s that mentioned her offhand(the valentines day one springs to mind) and implied nothing super interesting happened there.

          Current score: 1
        • zeel says:

          MU is strictly on the semester system as far as I know, all classes last at most a semester. Some certainly exist in multiple levels, which ones major may require all of, but as long as further levels are not offered/needed for graduation, class is over at the end of the semester.

          Current score: 0
          • Order of Chaos says:

            Yet we only got the Grades for the ones we knew about.

            Current score: 0
    • Silvertongue says:

      Well, I would think at this late date in the semester the spring classes are already filled/decided, assuming it’s being offered. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not offered over the summer, I know my university didn’t have the full range of classes on for summer school. So unless I’m missing something it would just be two semesters, not three. As someone else noted below, not every class is offered every semester, so it very well might not be on until then.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        Ya I really doubt she could sign up for spring classes at this point.

        Current score: 0
      • Cadnawes says:

        Probably, tho at most schools you can add a class up to two weeks in, I recall MU working something like that.

        Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          Well sure she can probably still drop/add even part way into the semester, but I assume she is taking 16-18 hours already which means she would need to really mess up her schedule to fit a fighting class in – and that’s only if they aren’t full.

          Current score: 0
    • Zukira Phaera says:

      mack likely has all of this year mapped out already, she is just the sort to do that, and Callahan knows it. also, odds are, mack is going to need/want to have Callahan as the teacher for any of her fighting classes.

      Current score: 0
  12. R says:

    Mack can’t imagine anybody on campus bringing down Pala? Has she forgotten the vice-chancellor already?

    Current score: 1
    • sliversith says:

      Not currently thinking of him isn’t the same by a long ways as having forgotten. Her mind is just on elves now.

      Current score: 1
    • OhPun says:

      There are probably plenty of people who could bring down Pala, but I think Mackenzie’s mental qualification is people who could bring down Pala who are likely to attack (Elves from Treehome) Glory’s residence hall while Glory and her court are away. The vice-chancellor is certainly not on that list.

      Current score: 4
      • zeel says:

        Hmm, that brings up a thought.

        Isn’t it his job (Aside from normal vice-chancellor stuff) to protect the campus from being destroyed again? Nobody gives a shit about what they do in tree home, and nobody seems to care about people being killed by monsters – but if a bunch of elves invade campus and try to burn down a residence hall wouldn’t it be his job to stop it?

        It isn’t just Glory’s house, it’s the universities property – is that therefore under Embries’ protection?

        If so, I’m calling it now: There will be an attack, and some elves will get toasted. Some of them will also be lunch.

        Current score: 5
        • Anon says:

          Initially, I thought the issue would be beneath him. But thinking more on it, he was called in after student riots before, so students burning buildings down is probably exactly what he’s there to stop. If he finds out, he’ll probably intervene.

          That said, I doubt he’d do anything to reveal his true nature when he can simply command everyone to stop what they’re doing and KNOW it will be obeyed. He seems to prefer elegant solutions, and breathing fire over everyone would be like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer.

          Current score: 1
          • Nocker says:

            Not to mention that burning down Harlowe of all places is probably not going to go over well. Current politics and spotlight aside, remember it’s named after what’s arguably the first notable victim of the half demon riots and the guy who fought hardest for ANY nonhumans to even attend. Such an offense would likely be taken personally by Emberies and the pride of a dragon is just as awful as their power.

            Remember, under Draconic law, he doesn’t just work there, the university is literally his property and any damage to it takes value from his own holdings. Attempting to cheat a dragon is probably the only thing dumber than attempting to cheat a dwarf.

            Current score: 4
            • Glenn says:

              I agree that Embries will certainly not tolerate any damage being done to his property. And he’ll regard Glory’s building as being definitely his, especially given that the lease expires in a mere 25 years. But there are some issues here that I think will keep him from intervening too soon. First, the elves at Treehome seem to have quite a bit of money, even by Embries’s standards. It would be nice if he had the opportunity to make them pay some heavy fines, so he might allow them a bit more rope than he would if they were poorer. Second, if some damage were done to Glory’s part of the building, it’s not as if he or the University would have to pay for the repairs. Either Glory or the Elves who did the damage would probably have to pay it. Third, he might be interested to see how well the Winter Guard does in defending the building. This is just speculation, but he might think some of them have the potential to be more important than one might think. Amaranth and Dee might have important roles to play in the plans of their respective Goddesses. Or he might think Mack is more important than she seems, and want to see this develop because it’s part of her plan.

              Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              The winter guard is certainly an interesting experiment, in a meta sense.

              They’re basically the defensive equivalent of Hydra Squad or the schools own Monster Squad: A disjointed bunch of really strong freaks, slapped together for a different purpose. Given that those two proved viable their defensive equivalent has a strong argument to be made.

              …if this works though, EVERYONE is probably going to want to look at it as a blueprint, along with Monster Squad as the public counterpart. Both the Empire and Imperium have a large amount of loosely organized “freaks”(the tri-province half demons, lizardfolk psychics, and badlands ogrebloods springing to mind). Individually they aren’t much use but if you can make them work effectively with the high speed tactics the army’s top brass is working on, you basically win on the battlefield by taking and holding any position you please.

              Current score: 1
        • Arancaytar says:

          Certainly with the people guarding it now, anyone who seriously pressed the attack would have to escalate to the point where the university administration took notice, and then it’d be pretty one-sided.

          On the other hand, if others decided to take an opportunity (eg. Mercy), and Callahan and Embries get involved…

          … then all bets are off on Mackenzie finding a campus when she returns.

          For extra points, this could be the moment when Martha Blaise finally confronts her son-in-law resulting in one of those “epic” battles that Kent was keen on avoiding, but I think that’d be overdoing it a bit.

          Current score: 0
          • Nocker says:

            That’s not terribly likely. With Mackenzie off campus and with firm protection and a professor with equal fighting skill to her own vouching for her, it’s not that great an opportunity to take. Mercy said her game was less trying to force the issue and more finding Mackenzie when she’s REALLY desperate, which isn’t now. Some of the crazier elves occasionally sell or buy from her, but I doubt that any middling has money or influence enough for miss “one million platinum is nothing” to care.

            Current score: 2
          • zeel says:

            I really don’t see Mercy getting in any way involved. Callahan probably wouldn’t either. Embries is a definite maybe.

            Martha and The Man are almost certainly a no, Kent would likewise have no reason to be involved.

            Current score: 2
  13. Sarah says:

    Ahhhh I love the dynamic between Callahan and Mack aaaaaaaaahhhh!

    Current score: 1
  14. Arancaytar says:

    Try not to get my favorite TA killed over the break, okay?

    Did I mention Pala’s and Eloise’s warnings were scary?

    Even they never mentioned that this might be a fight to the death.

    “Because you made me,” I said.

    “Oh, go on,” she said. “Get the fuck out of here, before the music starts to swell and we both learn something about caring, or some shit. Class is over. No more lessons.”

    Awwwww. :3

    Now HUG.

    Current score: 3
  15. Zathras IX says:

    A half-assed Bad Ass
    Will almost always get her
    Ass handed to her

    Current score: 5
  16. zeel says:

    I have to wonder at just how far the middlings would be willing to go. I can see some petty vandalism, theft, and maybe a few “surprises” left behind. But what is the chance they would, even with no guard, attempt to seriously damage/destroy the house? One of the main reasons for moving to the campus is that the middlings are not protected from normal rules and laws there, is this really likely to come to bloodshed?

    Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      Reread Jamie’s Tale if you’ve forgotten how psychotic the middlings are. They think nothing of rape and slavery and gore as a group and will fuck each other over on pure ego and get fucked over due to that being their common weakness.

      They’re vindictive enough to try destroying anything they please on pure ego and are likely to get sloppy due to the same. Some would probably assume that since they’re hooked up to Harlowe, which people rarely care about, the old rules still apply(they don’t. Shit outside the rules also goes on there but it’s got a very different dynamic). Others would assume that if they get inside and away from the public eye nobody would care, since it’d still just be elves fucking over elves. Still more might presume that their courts have money enough to get a slap on the wrist from the authorities and if not a couple of years jailtime isn’t much even to a middling(especially not since rape over dominance and shanking people in enemy gangs is their usual lifestyle anyway).

      Current score: 1
      • zeel says:

        I’m not doubting how psychotic they are, I’m wondering just how stupid they are. How willing are they to risk their theoretically infinite lives over this?

        Of course, it only takes a few idiots to cause trouble.

        Current score: 0
        • Nocker says:

          Stupidity and Arrogance are often the exact same thing. Hence why Mercy screws over her breeding plans over and over due to her own hubris, and why Martha lost her daughter and let an infernal creature loose on an airship to save her own reputation. Or Acantha trying to double deal a dragon and a half demon and thinking she could get away with it. Or The Man leaving witnesses because he thought he could gloat to Sam on the tower and didn’t think Harlowe could gloat. Or Iona’s… everything.

          One of the recurring themes of ToMu seems to be how arrogance leads to failure, and how this does more damage than the good virtue can do.

          Current score: 3